Wednesday, February 21, 2024
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Super Bowl picks, best bets for Chiefs vs. 49ers; NBA trade deadline winners, losers, grades

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🏈 Good morning to everyone but especially …

THE KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AND THE SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 

It’s Super Bowl weekend! The Chiefs-49ers showdown is just two days away, and our experts’ picks are in. I’m still going back and forth, so don’t ask me until minutes before Sunday’s kickoff — and make sure you know how to watch.

Tyler Sullivan, meanwhile, has been rolling this postseason with a 9-3 record straight up and against the spread. Here’s his pick:

  • Sullivan: “While the Niners are certainly a talented club, it just feels like more of the advantages lean in the Chiefs’ favor. They have the better defense, quarterback, and coach in my estimation. Kansas City is battle-tested winning back-to-back playoff games on the road, while the Niners have needed to dig themselves out of holes playing at home. … Patrick Mahomes is also 9-0-1 ATS in his career as an underdog away from Kansas City and is 3-0 straight-up in his career as an underdog in the playoffs. Projected score: Chiefs 24, 49ers 20. The pick: Chiefs +2

Here are all of our expert picks:

Pete Prisco | John Breech | Jason La CanforaTyler SullivanJeff Kerr | Cody Benjamin 

I love the Brock Purdy story as much as anyone — the guy even embraced the “game manager” description, though he’s been much more than that. But Mahomes has the clear edge at the game’s most important position. Could San Francisco’s running game close that gap? Cody breaks down why the 49ers’ ground game goes far beyond Christian McCaffrey.

  • Benjamin: “Left tackle Trent Williams headlines the trenches, but it’s actually the dirty work of skill players like tight end George Kittle and wide receiver Jauan Jennings that serves as a catalyst for the kind of MVP-level production of McCaffrey and, by extension, Purdy. … With both Kittle and Jennings, again, it’s not just the willingness to block; it’s the eagerness to block all the way through, pushing the limits in terms of driving opponents off the ball.”

While Kansas City’s defense has been better this postseason, it allowed 131.5 yards rushing per game in six regular-season losses.

Here are more of my favorites …

NOTE: WE’LL HAVE A SPECIAL SUPER BOWL EDITION OF THE NEWSLETTER ON SUNDAY! LOOK FOR IT!

😃 Honorable mentions

😕 Not so honorable mentions

🏀 NBA trade deadline: Knicks, 76ers make big moves on busy day

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We got 15 — count ’em, 15! — deals on NBA trade deadline day, and while the biggest names in the rumor mill didn’t need to pack their bags, there were plenty of strong moves by some of the league’s strongest teams.

Let’s start with the Knicks, who had already made a big (and very good) move in late December, acquiring OG Anunoby. As for the trade deadline, the same day New York found out Anunoby will miss at least three weeks due to elbow surgery, the team acquired Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks from the Pistons. James Herbert approves of the move all-around, rewarding both teams an “A-” in his trade grades.

  • Herbert: “Bogdanovic, 34, has made more than 41% of his 3s in his last two seasons, and he’s shot 27-for-48 (46.6%) on pull-up 3s in 28 games this season. He can still create offense in pick-and-roll and isolation situations, too, and his post-up game is useful against teams that switch. … New York is sending a simple message here: This season is serious. The front office believes in the team it has assembled, and it doesn’t want to lose the momentum it generated in January. … The best part, though, is that New York still hasn’t mortgaged its future.”

The 76ers also made a big move, adding Buddy Hield from the Pacers. Sam Quinn says Philadelphia came out on top here, and I agree: Hield has been consistent, durable and one of the league’s best shooters his entire career. If Joel Embiid returns, he, Hield and Tyrese Maxey form an excellent trio.

The Bucks made the most out of limited resources, too, acquiring Patrick Beverley from the 76ers. Milwaukee needed defense, and Beverley will bring it.

Here’s more from a busy day:

Deadline day may be over, but there’s plenty of activity to come. Colin Ward-Henninger broke down the buyout market.

🤫 Lakers, Warriors, Bulls quiet at deadline

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The Lakers, Warriors and Bulls were front and center of trade rumors for weeks. All three stood pat at the deadline. The Lakers’ decision to do so landed them among the losers in Colin’s trade deadline winners and losers while the Warriors’ choice earned them praise from Brad Botkin.

But the Bulls? Ugh. The Bulls. They tried to explain why they made no moves; vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said “We want to stay competitive.”

Competitive for what, exactly? Another play-in berth — at best? Sam handed out trade deadline grades for all 30 teams. Only one earned an “F.” … Care to guess which team?

  • Quinn: “There’s no worse place to be in the NBA than the middle. The Bulls aren’t even stuck there. They’re choosing not to leave. … They tried to move Zach LaVine. Nobody would take him. That’s out of their control. But surely they could have found a home for impending free agent DeMar DeRozan at the right asking price. … Every contender wanted Alex Caruso. … They didn’t even pick up some spare assets for Andre Drummond. … The Bulls are an organization with no plan or direction.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

🏆 NFL Honors: Lamar Jackson wins MVP; Hall of Fame class announced

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Getty Images

Lamar Jackson‘s season didn’t end the way he wanted it to, but he’s bringing home some hardware and joining an exclusive club regardless. The Ravens superstar won his second career MVP Award, becoming one of 11 players to have earned the honor multiple times. He’s also the second-youngest player to reach two MVPs, only behind Jim Brown.

In other award news …

  • Christian McCaffrey won Offensive Player of the Year.
  • Myles Garrett won Defensive Player of the Year. T.J. Watt did not agree.
  • The Texans had both the Offensive Rookie of the Year (C.J. Stroud) and the Defensive Rookie of the Year (Will Anderson Jr).
  • Kevin Stefanski won Coach of the Year thanks to one more first-place vote than DeMeco Ryans.
  • Joe Flacco won Comeback Player of the Year.
  • Cam Heyward won Walter Payton Man of the Year.

Moving from current stars to past ones, here’s the 2024 Pro Football Hall of Fame class:

  • Dwight Freeney
  • Andre Johnson
  • Devin Hester
  • Randy Gradishar
  • Patrick Willis
  • Steve McMichael
  • Julius Peppers

How Antonio Gates didn’t make it is beyond me, but he should have a great chance in 2025. Here’s our lookahead to the list of those nominees, which includes Marshawn Lynch, Luke Kuechly and Eli Manning.

😳 WWE makes Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes official for WrestleMania with The Rock lurking

Dwayne Johnson The Rock vs Roman Reigns on WWE SmackDown ahead of WRestleMania 40 pro wrestling news feb 8 2024

WWE

We at CBS Sports are nothing if not team players. And since the world of professional wrestling is not my forte, I’m tapping in Johnny Flores, one of our esteemed editors, to close out our recap of yesterday’s events.

The WrestleMania 40 main event picture is even more complicated than it was before Thursday’s press conference event in Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena, though many of the company’s fans are happy with the outcome. Expectations surrounding the event were that Roman Reigns vs. The Rock would be formally announced for the undisputed WWE universal championship, though that is no longer the case.

After seemingly giving up his WrestleMania title shot last weekCody Rhodes has elected to “finish his story” by facing Reigns for the second consecutive year, a decision made official by WWE chief content officer Paul “Triple H” Levesque.

Reigns, in storyline fashion, chose to face The Rock, his cousin. The Rock, who last formally wrestled in 2013 against John Cena and was recently appointed TKO’s board of directors, confirmed his decision to step back into the ring Thursday.

During the kickoff event, a blend of storyline and real-time engagement, The Rock accepted Reigns’ challenge to the dismay of fans, who wanted Rhodes to get the opportunity.

Rhodes stepped in to take back his title shot and traded barbs with the duo about their respective families. Cody is the son of Dusty Rhodes, while Reigns and The Rock’s vast family tree includes the likes of Yokozuna and Jey and Jimmy Uso. The event ended with everyone having to be separated after The Rock slapped Rhodes for disrespecting his lineage.

While Reigns vs. Rhodes II has been announced, it remains to be seen where The Rock will fit into all of this.

📺 What we’re watching this weekend

Friday

🏀 Hawks at 76ers, 7 p.m. on NBA TV
🏀 No. 24 San Diego State at Nevada (M), 8:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network
🏀 Nuggets at Kings, 10 p.m. on NBA League Pass

Saturday

🏒 Blues at Sabres, 1 p.m. on ABC
🏀 Illinois at Michigan State (M), 2 p.m. on CBS
🏀 TCU at No. 14 Iowa State (M), 2 p.m. on ESPN2
🏀 Thunder at Mavericks, 3 p.m. on NBA TV
🏒 Capitals at Bruins, 3:30 p.m. on ABC
🏀 Gonzaga at No. 17 Kentucky (M), 4 p.m. on CBS
🏀 No. 3 North Carolina at Miami (M), 4 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 No. 5 Houston at Cincinnati (M), 4 p.m. on ESPN2
🏀 No. 13 Baylor at No. 4 Kansas (M), 6 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 St. John’s at No. 7 Marquette (M), 6 p.m. on FS1
🏀 Indiana at No. 2 Purdue (M), 8 p.m. on Fox
🏀 Suns at Warriors, 8:30 p.m. on ABC

Sunday

🏀 No. 2 Iowa at Nebraska (W), 1 p.m. on Fox
🏀 Celtics at Heat, 2 p.m. on ABC
🏀 No. 11 UConn at No. 1 South Carolina (W), 2 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Alabama at No. 14 LSU (W), 4 p.m. on ESPN2
🏈 Super Bowl LVIII: Chiefs vs. 49ers, 6:30 p.m. on CBS

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