Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Chiefs, Bears add receivers; Bubbles bursting all over in conference tournament play

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🏈 Good morning to everyone but especially to …

THE CHICAGO BEARS

While everyone was tuned into conference tournaments around the country on Thursday night, the Bears rudely decided to steal the spotlight by continuing to revamp their roster. Chicago acquired star wide receiver Keenan Allen from the Chargers in exchange for a fourth-round pick.

The Bears have had a busy offseason already, and they just added another weapon for whoever their next quarterback might be. Allen has established himself as one of the most prolific wide receivers in the NFL, putting up big numbers into his early-30s. He’s averaged 97.5 receptions and 1,130 receiving yards over the last seven seasons. Over that span, only Davante Adams has more receptions and just five receivers have more yards.

This deal earned the Bears an “A-” from our own Josh Edwards, who likes that the team is loading up on firepower for a rookie quarterback.

  • Edwards: “Allen is not going to be a part of the long-term plans, but so often teams do not enough to support their rookie quarterback. It can not be said that Chicago is not making that effort under the assumption that it is taking Caleb Williams No. 1 overall. The Bears unite D.J. Moore with Allen, but the acquisition does not preclude them from taking a pass-catcher in the top-10 overall.”

Now the Bears just need to make their next quarterback official when they make the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft in just under six weeks.

👍 Honorable mentions

🏀 And not such a good morning for …

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BUBBLE LOSERS

Like any good “Trailer Park Boys” plot, this time of year is all about bubbles, and a couple of NCAA Tournament hopefuls had theirs busted in conference tournament games on Thursday. While several bubble teams are still alive in the battle for March Madness spots, a handful of others were less fortunate.

  • Going into Thursday, Wake Forest was one of CBS Sports bracketologist Jerry Palm’s “Next Four Out,” and the Demon Deacons didn’t help their case with a 12-point loss to Pitt.
  • Villanova survived what initially looked like a buzzer-beater at the end of regulation, but suffered a devastating OT loss to Marquette anyway.
  • Seton Hall and St. John’s, two of Palm’s “Last Four In,” went head-to-head in the Big East tourney. Rick Pitino’s Red Storm wound up thumping the Pirates, 91-72.
  • Kansas State entered its Big 12 Tournament matchup vs. Iowa State as a member of Palm’s “First Four Out.” The Wildcats exited with a 19-point loss and dampened hopes of reaching the dance.
  • In a “double bubble” clash featuring Ohio State and Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament, the higher-seeded Hawkeyes laid an egg in a 90-78 loss.
  • In Sin City, Utah and Colorado played another “double bubble” game, and the Utes shot 32.8% from three-point range en route to a 14-point loss.

Of course, the news wasn’t bad for every bubble team.

  • Texas A&M scored a badly needed win over Ole Miss, 80-71, in the SEC Tournament.
  • After a poor finish to the regular season, Michigan State got back on track with a 77-67 win over Minnesota in the Big Ten tourney.
  • NC State kept its hopes of stealing a bid alive by upsetting Duke by a score of 74-69 in the ACC Tournament.
  • In the Pac-12 tourney, Oregon did the same thing by hanging on to beat UCLA, 68-66.

👎 Not so honorable mentions

🏈 Chiefs get a deep ball receiver for Patrick Mahomes

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USATSI

The Chiefs haven’t had a big-time playmaker at wide receiver since they traded Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins, but that hasn’t bothered them too much. Kansas City has won back-to-back Super Bowls with a rather underwhelming wide receiver room. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? … Wrong.

Just minutes after the Bears swung the trade for Allen, the Chiefs signed former Ravens and Cardinals wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown to a one-year contract worth up to $11 million. The No. 25 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Brown has the potential to be a star in Kansas City’s offense.

Brown hasn’t always played under the best of circumstances in his NFL career, but he has still managed to reel in 313 catches for 3,644 yards and 28 touchdowns in 72 games. Those circumstances will improve greatly with Patrick Mahomes throwing him the football, and CBS Sports’ own Garrett Podell says that has the chance to ingite a downfield connection.

  • Podell: “Alongside the emerging Rashee Rice and Travis Kelce, Mahomes now has an even stronger top three options to choose from in 2024 as Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore and Justin Watson all took turns chipping in at varying degrees of success throughout the season. Now, the deep ball can return to Mahomes’ and the Chiefs’ arsenal for the first time since they traded away Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins in 2022.”

At this point, the rest of the NFL teams have to be shaking their heads. A three-peat for the Chiefs just got a little more likely.

⛳️ Three-way tie atop the leaderboard at TPC Sawgrass

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After the first day of action at The Players Championship, the top of the leaderboard is looking awfully snug. Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele and Wyndham Clark (-7) were the co-leaders when the first round was suspended due to darkness on Thursday night.

McIlroy, who hasn’t quite been himself recently, was able to shake off his struggles and notched a record-tying 10 birdies in the first round. Schauffele, on the other hand, has been cooking so far in 2024, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be slowing down this weekend.

To his credit, Clark closed the opening round very well with three straight birdies to pull even with McIlroy and Schauffele. Clark already has one win under his belt this year — at Pebble Beach — and now he’s hunting another one. To make the next few days even more intriguing, two more golfers are right behind that leading trio at 6 under through Round 1.

With Round 2 on deck Friday, the top of The Players Championship leaderboard is as follows:

T-1. Xander Schauffele (-7)
T-1. Rory McIlroy (-7)
T-1. Wyndham Clark (-7)
T-4. Nick Taylor (-6)
T-4. Matt Fitzpatrick (-6)

🏀 Celtics go ballistic from 3 in clinching a playoff berth

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Did someone accidentally turn on NBA Jam settings in TD Garden last night? Once the Celtics caught fire from beyond the arc, they never cooled down, and their three-point shooting powered them to an impressive 127-112 win over the Suns. Boston became the NBA’s first team to clinch a playoff berth, and Joe Mazzulla — yes, the coach! — even attempted to block a practice shot of an opposing player heading into a timeout.

Boston was letting it fly from three-point range, attempting 50 shots from downtown throughout the game. They wound up making a whopping 25(!) of them, and for those like me who didn’t ace math in high school, that comes out to 50.0%. It was a ridiculous night for the Celtics with the whole team draining shots from deep.

  • Al Horford was simply unconscious, making six of his 10 three-point attempts.
  • Every Celtics starter made at least three shots from beyond the arc.
  • This is now the third time this season that the Celtics have hit 25 three-point shots.

According to SportsLine, the Celtics have the second-best odds to win the NBA title at +500. It’s not hard to see why when they make three-point shooting look like a game of Pop-A-Shot at the local watering hole.

📺 What we’re watching Friday

⛳️ The Players Championship: Round 2, 7:30 a.m. on Golf Channel
🏀 Big Ten Tournament: Michigan State vs. No. 3 Purdue (M), 12 p.m. on Big Ten Network
🏀 SEC Tournament: Mississippi State vs. No. 5 Tennessee (M), 1 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 SEC Tournament: No. 15 South Carolina vs. No. 12 Auburn (M), 3:30 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Big East Tournament: St. John’s vs. No. 2 UConn (M), 5:30 p.m. on FOX
🏀 Big Ten Tournament: Ohio State vs. No. 13 Illinois (M), 6:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network
🏀 Big 12 Tournament: No. 25 Texas Tech vs. No. 1 Houston (M), 7 p.m. on ESPN+
🏒 Kings at Blackhawks, 8:30 p.m. on NHL Network
🏀 Hawks at Jazz, 9:30 p.m. on NBA TV

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