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Warriors vs. Mavericks game postponed following death of Golden State assistant Dejan Milojevic

The Golden State Warriors’ home game against the Dallas Mavericks scheduled for Friday has been postponed following the death of Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojevic, the NBA announced on Thursday. Milojevic, who was 46, died Wednesday morning. He was hospitalized on Tuesday night in Salt Lake City after having a heart attack at a team dinner.

Golden State’s game against the Utah Jazz, scheduled for Wednesday in Utah, was also postponed. Neither game has yet been rescheduled.

“This is a shocking and tragic blow for everyone associated with the Warriors and an incredibly difficult time for his family, friends, and all of us who had the incredible pleasure to work with him,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Milojevic in a statement. “In addition to being a terrific basketball coach, Dejan was one of the most positive and beautiful human beings I have ever known, someone who brought joy and light to every single day with his passion and energy.”

The Warriors-Mavericks game was set to air nationally on ESPN. Instead, the Los Angeles Lakers’ game against the Brooklyn Nets will be broadcast in that spot on Friday.

The next scheduled game for Golden State (18-22, 12th place in the Western Conference) is Wednesday, Jan. 24 at home against the Atlanta Hawks.

Dallas’ next scheduled game is Monday, Jan. 22 at home against the Boston Celtics. On Wednesday in Los Angeles, Mavericks coach Jason Kidd told reporters that they would fly back to Dallas on Thursday if the league decided to postpone the game against the Warriors.

Byadmin

Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojevic dies at 46 after suffering heart attack in Utah

Golden State Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojevic died Wednesday after suffering a medical emergency in Salt Lake City, Utah on Tuesday night, the team announced. He was 46 years old. Milojevic was hospitalized after suffering the emergency at a restaurant during a team dinner. The NBA postponed Wednesday night’s game between the Warriors and Jazz in Utah as well as Friday’s Warriors vs. Mavericks game in San Francisco.

“We are absolutely devastated by Dejan’s sudden passing,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said in a statement. “This is a shocking and tragic blow for everyone associated with the Warriors and an incredibly difficult time for his family, friends, and all of us who had the incredible pleasure to work with him. In addition to being a terrific basketball coach, Dejan was one of the most positive and beautiful human beings I have ever known, someone who brought joy and light to every single day with his passion and energy. We grieve with and for his wife, Natasa, and their children, Nikola and Masa. Their loss is unfathomable.”

Milojevic, a native of Serbia, was added to the Warriors coaching staff in 2021 and helped the franchise win a championship in 2022. He played in Serbia, Spain, Montenegro, and Turkey during his 14-year professional career and was named the MVP of the Adriatic League three times (2004-06). He joined Kerr’s staff after coaching stints with Mega Vizura in Serbia and Buducnost in Montenegro, where he won the Montenegrin League Championship.

Milojevic made the most of the talent available to him during his time coaching overseas and helped establish a strong pipeline from Mega Vizura to the NBA. Eleven of the players Milojevic coached during his eight seasons with Mega Vizura went on to be selected in the NBA Draft. Among them were Nikola Jokic, Ivica Zubac, Goga Bitadze, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Vlatko Cancar.

“The NBA mourns the sudden passing of Golden State assistant coach Dejan Milojevic, a beloved colleague and dear friend to so many in the global basketball community,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “In addition to winning the 2022 NBA championship in his first season with the Warriors and mentoring some of the best players in the world, Dejan had a decorated international playing career and was a distinguished head coach in his native Serbia. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife, Natasa, their children, Nikola and Masa, and the Warriors organization during this tragic time.”

The game in Utah was set to be the last matchup on Golden State’s four-game road trip. With the Friday game against the Mavericks also postponed, the team’s next scheduled game is Wednesday, Jan. 24 against the Hawks at the Chase Center.Golden State Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojevic died Wednesday after suffering a medical emergency in Salt Lake City, Utah on Tuesday night, the team announced. He was 46 years old. Milojevic was hospitalized after suffering the emergency at a restaurant during a team dinner. The NBA postponed Wednesday night’s game between the Warriors and Jazz in Utah as well as Friday’s Warriors vs. Mavericks game in San Francisco.

“We are absolutely devastated by Dejan’s sudden passing,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said in a statement. “This is a shocking and tragic blow for everyone associated with the Warriors and an incredibly difficult time for his family, friends, and all of us who had the incredible pleasure to work with him. In addition to being a terrific basketball coach, Dejan was one of the most positive and beautiful human beings I have ever known, someone who brought joy and light to every single day with his passion and energy. We grieve with and for his wife, Natasa, and their children, Nikola and Masa. Their loss is unfathomable.”

Milojevic, a native of Serbia, was added to the Warriors coaching staff in 2021 and helped the franchise win a championship in 2022. He played in Serbia, Spain, Montenegro, and Turkey during his 14-year professional career and was named the MVP of the Adriatic League three times (2004-06). He joined Kerr’s staff after coaching stints with Mega Vizura in Serbia and Buducnost in Montenegro, where he won the Montenegrin League Championship.

Milojevic made the most of the talent available to him during his time coaching overseas and helped establish a strong pipeline from Mega Vizura to the NBA. Eleven of the players Milojevic coached during his eight seasons with Mega Vizura went on to be selected in the NBA Draft. Among them were Nikola Jokic, Ivica Zubac, Goga Bitadze, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Vlatko Cancar.

“The NBA mourns the sudden passing of Golden State assistant coach Dejan Milojevic, a beloved colleague and dear friend to so many in the global basketball community,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “In addition to winning the 2022 NBA championship in his first season with the Warriors and mentoring some of the best players in the world, Dejan had a decorated international playing career and was a distinguished head coach in his native Serbia. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife, Natasa, their children, Nikola and Masa, and the Warriors organization during this tragic time.”

The game in Utah was set to be the last matchup on Golden State’s four-game road trip. With the Friday game against the Mavericks also postponed, the team’s next scheduled game is Wednesday, Jan. 24 against the Hawks at the Chase Center.

Byadmin

Lakers’ LeBron James shocked to learn he has played against 35 percent of all players in NBA history

LeBron James is certainly one of the most accomplished players in NBA history. However, one new statistic of his comes across as absolutely mind-boggling.

After facing the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, the ESPN on ABC broadcast revealed that James has now played against 35% of all of the players that have ever played in the NBA.

INSANE.

LeBron has played against 35% of all players in NBA history 🤯 pic.twitter.com/Xr6Qz7IExz

— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 18, 2024
It definitely was a very surprising statistic to many, including James himself. Following Wednesday’s 127-110 win against the Mavericks, James responded to the crazy stat on his Instagram story by calling it “insane.”

James was the No. 1 pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, and made his debut in the 2003-04 campaign. The Los Angeles Lakers star has scored 39,591 points in 21 seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat and Lakers. In February 2023, James passed Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most points in NBA history.

The NBA came into existence in 1946, so there were obviously several decades of players who took to the hardwood before James made his NBA debut. Still, James’ longevity has allowed him to play 21 seasons and become one of the greatest players that the league has ever seen.

Byadmin

Trae Young widens gap on Damian Lillard, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander chasing Steph

The third and final All-Star voting returns are in, and the guard spots are still the only real races to monitor. In the Eastern Conference, Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks has increased his lead for the second spot, with 85,862 more votes than Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard. In the Western Conference, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder gained a bit of ground on Stephen Curry, but is still trailing the Golden State Warriors superstar by 285,041 votes.

Just like they did in the last two weeks of returns, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks leads all vote-getters (4,309,630 votes), while LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers leads all players in the West (3,938,571).

In the frontcourt, the Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic has a 31,642-vote lead over the Phoenix Suns’ Kevin Durant for the No. 2 spot in the West, and the Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid has a 3,691-vote lead over the Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum. For these “races” to matter, though, the media and player voting would have to differ fairly drastically from the fan voting. The top three frontcourt players and top two backcourt players in their respective conferences will start in the All-Star Game, which will take place in Indianapolis on Sunday, Feb. 18.

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo lead their respective conferences in the third fan returns of #NBAAllStar Voting presented by AT&T.

Fans account for 50% of the vote to decide All-Star starters. NBA players and a media panel account for 25% each. pic.twitter.com/fyGeQXgEhH

— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) January 18, 2024
You can vote until Saturday at 11:59 p.m. ET. All fan votes received on Friday, the last “3-for-1” day, will count three times. The results of this voting do not determine the starters outright; fans account for 50% of the overall vote, with the other half split between NBA players and a panel of media members.

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The All-Star starters will be announced next week (Jan. 25) on TNT. The reserves, which will be chosen by NBA coaches, will be announced the following week (Feb. 1) on TNT.

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Stallions QB J’Mar Smith thinks a championship game between rival leagues will happen ‘soon’

Birmingham quarterback J’Mar Smith’s primary goal is leading the Stallions in their pursuit of back-to-back USFL titles. But if the opportunity to face the XFL’s best team also presented itself, Smith would certainly welcome that opportunity, too.

Ahead of his Birmingham’s season opener on Saturday night against the New Jersey Generals, Smith was asked about his possible interest in a game pitting the two leagues’ top-two teams. While the question was hypothetical, Smith thinks a championship game between the two leagues is certainly a possibility.

“That would be nice and what the fans want,” Smith said in a text message to CBS Sports. “Merging two spring pro leagues, champion vs. champion, to see the competition between the two leagues. … I think it should happen and will soon!”

Given that the two leagues enforce different rules, Smith posed the interesting question of which rules would be utilized should the two leagues face off. There are several rules within each league, especially on kickoffs, that are vastly different from each other. For example, the USFL gives scoring teams a chance to keep the ball if they are able to complete a 4th-and-12 play from their own 25-yard line. While the XFL has a similar option, the scoring team must convert a 4th-and-15 play in order to retain possession.

Rules aside, a USFL-XFL championship game would certainly generate attention, especially during the dog days of summer. The Super Bowl, after all, was initially between the National Football League and the upstart American Football League. The NFL’s Green Bay Packers won the first two contests before Joe Namath’s Jets shocked the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. The leagues merged shortly after the AFL’s Chiefs defeated the NFL champion Vikings in Super Bowl IV.

Often lost in history is the fact that the AFL and NFL had already agreed to a future merge prior to playing in their first AFL-NFL Championship Game. At this point, the USFL and XFL are entirely different entities that start their seasons at different points. It seems that there would have to be some sort of connection between the two leagues before games between the two would actually happen.

Both leagues are currently trying to coexist while becoming the first successful spring league. When they kick things off this weekend, the USFL will be the first spring league in nearly 40 years to return for a second consecutive season. The XFL, currently in its third incarnation, is nearing the end of its 10-game regular season.

Neither league is trying to compete with the NFL. In the USFL’s case, helping provide players with a new pathway to the NFL is one of the league’s primary goals, along with being a league that prioritizes its fans with affordable tickets.

“We’re about football,” USFL president Daryl Johnston recently told CBS Sports. “We’re about the why, what motivates the guys, what you are trying to accomplish here and trying to do everything we can from a coaching and from an exposure standpoint to give them an opportunity to continue to chase that dream.”

When it comes to a possible USFL-XFL championship game, it’s interesting that Smith answered the question with such honesty. Instead of ignoring the other league, Smith welcomes the conversation and would welcome the prospect of facing the XFL’s best team at the end of the USFL’s season. Rest assured that Smith isn’t the only player who would like to see such a game take place.

Byadmin

Defending champ Birmingham Stallions start at top, Philadelphia Stars No. 2

Fresh off of last year’s successful campaign, the USFL is gearing up for what could be an even better 2023 season — but which team will capture the title?

Led by quarterback J’Mar Smith, the Birmingham Stallions begin their defense of last year’s championship when the league kicks off this Saturday, April 15. The Philadelphia Stars, who came up just short against Birmingham in last year’s USFL Championship Game, are expected to once again be in the mix with the return of their quarterback, Case Cookus. The league’s two other playoff teams last year, the New Jersey Generals and New Orleans Breakers, are also expected to make a run at the crown.

Joining the fray of USFL teams for the 2023 season are the Memphis Showboats, who will be one of three teams that will get to play in front of their home fans this season (check out everything to know in our 2023 season primer, the complete season schedule and much more). After all the league’s regular-season games were held in Birmingham last year, three new venues have been added to the mix for 2023: Memphis, Canton and Detroit. The Showboats are in essence the Tampa Bay Bandits, who are on a hiatus in 2023 after going 4-6 in 2022.

With Week 1 on the horizon, who are the top teams? Here’s how we rank them in our Week 1 Power Rankings:

  1. Birmingham Stallions
    Last season: 9-1, defending champs, defeated New Orleans and Philadelphia in playoffs
    Skip Holtz’s team returns the majority of last year’s championship roster. That includes Smith, who said he is roughly 10-15 pounds lighter than he was last year. Running backs Bo Scarbrough, C.J. Marable and linebacker Scooby Wright are three other key members of Birmingham’s championship team that are back for the 2023 season.

Smith is expecting more of a contribution this season from receiver Marlon Williams, who last season finished second in the USFL in touchdown catches and third in receiving yards. The two connected on a deep touchdown pass in last year’s championship game win over Philadelphia.

In 2023, Birmingham will try to do something that no NFL team has done in nearly 20 years: repeat as champion.

“I love having a target on my back,” Smith recently told CBS Sports. “It makes me play harder. I know that everyone is going to give us their best shot. I’m not going run away from their shot. I love to step up to the challenge.”

  1. Philadelphia Stars
    Last season: 6-4, defeated New Jersey in playoffs, lost to Birmingham in championship game
    The Stars have their sights set on a championship after coming up just short in last year’s championship game. A big reason for Philadelphia’s optimism is the return of Cookus, who went 6-3 as the team’s starting quarterback last season. Cookus led a Stars offense that averaged a league-high 26.2 points per game.

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Cookus will again be aided on offense by running back Matt Coburn II (who scored nine total touchdowns) and Jordan Suell, who caught a touchdown in the USFL Championship Game. Cookus will have a new target this season in former Browns first-round pick Corey Coleman, who caught 20 touchdowns during his final season at Baylor back in 2015.

  1. New Jersey Generals
    Last season: 9-1, lost to Philadelphia in the playoffs
    New Jersey, which tied Birmingham with the league’s best record during the 2022 regular season, is motivated this season after last year’s playoff upset at the hands of the Stars.

“The guys come in with a chip on their shoulder, kind of like unfinished business a little bit,” said offensive coordinator Steven Smith, via the league’s website. “The guys came in ready to go and focused on getting it done and making things happen that we didn’t finish last year.”

The Generals lost one of their key players from last year’s team to the NFL in Cowboys All-Pro return specialist KaVontae Turpin. Reigning Offensive Player of the Year Darius Victor is back, however, along with fellow running back Trey Williams. Last season, the duo helped the Generals average a league-high 161 yards on the ground per game.

Quarterback is the big question mark. De’Andre Johnson, the team’s backup last season, is looking to win the job over Kyle Lauletta, a former Giants draft pick who made two starts for the Maulers last season.

  1. New Orleans Breakers
    Last season: 6-4, lost to Birmingham in the playoffs
    One of the league’s four playoff teams in 2022, New Orleans will usher in a new era in 2023. The team has a new coach in John DeFilippo, who won a Super Bowl in 2017 as the Eagles quarterbacks coach.

New Orleans’ top-ranked defense is expected to again be among the league’s best. The big question is at quarterback, as the Breakers have a three-man competition between McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Davis Cheek and Aqeel Glass. The front-runner to win the job is the 34-year-old Bethel-Thompson, a two-time Canadian Football League champion who decided to move to the USFL instead of spending another season in Winnipeg.

“It’s all betting on one year, which is tenuous but also challenging,” he recently told the Toronto Sun. “Every game matters. Every practice matters. Every throw matters. If I don’t perform physically or mentally, or maybe play half the year and then get benched, I could very well have ended my career as opposed to having four more years in the CFL. It’s moving all your chips in on a pretty bizarre hand.”

  1. Memphis Showboats
    Memphis’ possible advantage at quarterback moved them up several spots on this list. Showboats coach Todd Haley recently announced that his starting quarterback will be Brady White, who enjoyed a prolific college career at Memphis that included throwing for a school-record 10,690 yards and 90 touchdowns.

“Brady has kind of cemented himself as the starter here as we get the season going,” Haley recently told Fox Sports. “But Ryan (Willis) and Cole (Kelley) are talented guys that have impressed us throughout this process. I don’t think it’s beyond thinking that you’ll see all these guys play at some point.

“The name of the game is winning. So, whoever gives us the best chance to win will be the guy handling the football most of the time. But Brady, having been with us most of the time last year, definitely had a head start. I know he’s excited about being in Memphis, where he played his college football. He’s like a superstar walking around town down here. I know he’s enjoying and embracing that, and we’ll just have to see how it plays out.”

Memphis’ offense also includes Alex Collins, a veteran NFL running back who nearly ran for 1,000 yards in 2017 with the Seahawks.

  1. Houston Gamblers
    Last season: 3-7
    Houston was much better than its 2022 record indicated. You could say the Gamblers were snake-bitten after losing five straight games where they led in the fourth quarter. The defense was Houston’s strength, but the unit underwent a total transformation this offseason. The defense will include 14 new players, including expected standouts in defensive end Eli Howard and linebacker Isaiah Pryor.

The Gamblers’ offense is expected to be significantly better, largely because of the expected uptick in play from quarterback Kenji Bahar. If Bahar is able to complement Houston’s talented running game (led by Mark Thompson), this could be the surprise team for 2023.

  1. Pittsburgh Maulers
    Last season: 1-9
    On and off the field, the Maulers underwent massive changes this offseason. They changed their color scheme to mimic the black and gold flavor of the city they represent. Speaking of Pittsburgh’s fabled football history, the team hired a former Steelers Super Bowl-winning assistant coach, Ray Horton, as their new head coach.

One of the things that is expected to stay the same in Pittsburgh is a Maulers defense that was one of the USFL’s better units last season, led by former NFL first-round pick Reuben Foster. Pittsburgh’s offense has the weapons to be a solid unit, but its success will likely come down to whether James Morgan or Troy Williams can provide steady play at quarterback.

  1. Michigan Panthers
    Last season: 2-8
    Michigan might be the USFL’s biggest enigma. Led by first-year head coach Mike Nolan, the Panthers could make a surprise playoff push while turning Ford Field into a massive home-field advantage. Michigan has a formidable rushing attack and is expected to field a good defense.

As with several other teams, quarterback is the big question in Michigan. The Panthers’ offense will be led by either Josh Love (who spent time with the NFL’s Rams and Panthers) or Carson Strong, an undrafted rookie last season who spent time with the Eagles and Cardinals.

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2024 NFL divisional round picks, predictions by model on 183-129 roll

After enjoying a bye week, the San Francisco 49ers will host the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round of the 2024 NFL playoffs on Saturday. San Francisco won the NFC West and earned the No. 1 seed in the NFL playoff bracket, while Green Bay earned a wild card and began the 2024 NFL Playoffs with a 48-32 upset of the Cowboys last week. However, the Packers have been knocked out of the NFL postseason by the 49ers in two of the last four seasons and the 49ers are the current odds-on favorites to win the 2024 Super Bowl (+176).

Kickoff from Levi’s Stadium is set for 8:15 p.m. ET. San Francisco is a 9.5-point favorite in the latest 49ers vs. Packers odds via SportsLine consensus, while the over/under for total points scored is 50.5. Before locking in any Packers vs. 49ers picks, you need to see the latest NFL predictions from SportsLine’s proven projection model.

The model, which simulates every NFL game 10,000 times, is up well over $7,000 for $100 players on top-rated NFL picks since its inception. The model enters the divisional round of the 2024 NFL playoffs on an incredible 183-129 run on top-rated NFL picks that dates back to the 2017 season. It is also on a 37-21 roll on top-rated picks since Week 7 of last season and nailed seven straight top-rated picks entering the 2024 NFL playoffs.

The model also ranked in the top 10 on NFLPickWatch four of the past six years on straight-up NFL picks and beat more than 94% of CBS Sports Football Pick’em players four times during that span. Anyone who has followed it is way up.

Now, the model has zeroed in on 49ers vs. Packers and just revealed its picks and predictions. You can see the model’s picks only at SportsLine. Here are several NFL odds and betting lines for Packers vs. 49ers:

49ers vs. Packers spread: San Francisco -9.5
49ers vs. Packers over/under: 50.5 points
49ers vs. Packers money line: San Francisco -454, Green Bay +349
SF: 49ers were 3-5 against the spread as home favorites in the regular season
GB: Packers are 5-3 ATS as road underdogs this campaign
49ers vs. Packers picks: See picks here
49ers vs. Packers live stream: fubo (try for free)
Why the 49ers can cover
San Francisco should be well-rested coming into Saturday’s matchup, having rested key starters in a Week 17 loss to the Rams and also coming off a bye week during NFL Super Wild Card Weekend. Now the 49ers will look to unleash the full potential of one of the most versatile offenses in the NFL against a Packers defense that ranked bottom half of the NFL in yards allowed and that just gave up 510 yards of offense to Dallas.

The 49ers were top five in the NFL in passing yards and rushing yards, with Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle giving Brock Purdy a quartet of extremely talented playmakers to work with. They combined to produce over 5,500 yards from scrimmage and score 46 touchdowns and figure to give the Green Bay defense all sorts of problems on Saturday. See which team to pick here.

Why the Packers can cover
Green Bay played a near-perfect game against Dallas on Sunday en route to its seventh victory in its last nine contests and becoming the first No. 7 seed to record a win since the playoffs expanded in 2020. Quarterback Jordan Love completed 16-of-21 pass attempts for 272 yards and three touchdowns in his first career postseason game after finishing second in the NFL with 32 during the regular season. The 25-year-old has thrown 21 TD passes and just one interception over his last nine contests.

After rushing for just two touchdowns in each of the last two regular seasons, Aaron Jones had three scoring runs against the Cowboys on Sunday. The 29-year-old tied the franchise record for most rushing scores in a playoff game and the NFL marks for most in a road playoff game and a wild-card contest. The Packers were 31st in the league with seven interceptions in the regular season but had two in Dallas, including one that safety Darnell Savage returned 64 yards for a touchdown. See which team to pick here.

How to make 49ers vs. Packers picks
SportsLine’s model is leaning Under the point total, predicting 45 total points. The model also says one side of the spread has all the value. You can see the model’s NFL picks and analysis only at SportsLine.

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Colts owner Jim Irsay being treated for severe respiratory illness after police suspected overdose in home

Colts owner Jim Irsay, 64, is receiving treatment for a severe respiratory illness, the team said Wednesday in a statement to the Indianapolis Star. This comes more than a month after Irsay was found “unresponsive” in what police believe may have been a suspected overdose of medication.

Emergency responders found Irsay unresponsive in his Indiana home around 4:30 a.m. on Dec. 8, documenting that he was unconscious and “cold to the touch” and that his skin had a “bluish tint,” according to Carmel Police records obtained by CBS Sports Lead NFL Insider Jonathan Jones. An officer administered Narcan (specifically naloxone), which is commonly used to reverse opioid overdoses, to which Irsay “responded slightly to.” Paramedics later transported him to a hospital.

According to police that night, “it is unknown what Mr. Irsay had ingested prior to our arrival.” Under injury information, police listed Irsay’s condition as “Impaired/Drugs.”

The Colts released the following statement Wednesday morning (via The Indianapolis Star): “Mr. Irsay continues to recover from his respiratory illness. We will have no further comment on his personal health, and we continue to ask that Jim and his family’s privacy be respected.”

Irsay had been active on social media in early January, but he hasn’t spoken publicly in weeks. That lack of availability led media to wonder about his absence given Irsay is traditionally quick to speak at the conclusion of NFL seasons, often providing extensive comments on his team, which ended the 2023 campaign with a Week 18 loss to the Texans. If Indianapolis had won that game, it would have clinched a playoff berth.

Irsay’s illness prevented him from playing in his band, which was scheduled for a Los Angeles show in mid-January, but he is undergoing “excellent care and looks forward to returning to the stage as soon as possible,” according to the Colts, which asked that fans and media “respect the privacy of Jim and his family as he recovers.”

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Ravens’ Mark Andrews eyes return; Bucs skill players banged-up

Only eight teams are left in the 2024 NFL playoffs with just over three weeks remaining until Super Bowl LVIII. Like every week in the NFL, we’ve got a bevy of injury updates to address with conference championship appearances at stake.

While each remaining team is dealing with injuries, no one has been hit harder than the Buffalo Bills. Head coach Sean McDermott started the week by classifying nine of his players as day to day as Buffalo prepares to take on the Kansas City Chiefs. Buffalo managed to get past the Pittsburgh Steelers on Super Wild Card Weekend despite not having safety Taylor Rapp, wideout Gabe Davis, cornerback Rasul Douglas and linebacker Tyrel Dodson at their disposal. The Bills suffered more injuries during their 31-17 win over Pittsburgh.

We’ve also got an interesting update on Mark Andrews, the Baltimore Ravens’ talented tight end who is not ruling out playing in Saturday’s game against the Houston Texans. Andrews hasn’t played since he suffered an ankle injury against the Cincinnati Bengals back on Nov. 16.

Below is an update on the Bills as well as the NFL’s other seven teams who are still in contention.

Odds courtesy of SportsLine consensus.

No. 4 Houston Texans at No. 1 Baltimore Ravens (-9.5)
Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN, fubo)
As noted above, Andrews said Wednesday that he will play Saturday if he fees like he can help the Ravens’ offense. He won’t play, however, if he feels that he won’t be able to play at a level that will help Baltimore win its first playoff game since 2000. Andrews gave the Ravens more hope that he could play on Saturday after making a leaping grab during Tuesday’s practice, via ESPN.

Andrews said how his body feels Saturday will ultimately determine whether or not he will play. He referenced Terrell Owens, who famously played in Super Bowl XXXIX several weeks after suffering a serious ankle injury.

In other Ravens injury news, cornerback Marlon Humphrey (calf), wideout Tylan Wallace (knee) and inside linebacker Del’Shawn Phillips (knee) remained sidelined during Wednesday’s practice. Pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney, who was not on Tuesday’s injury report, also didn’t practice.

For the Texans, star defensive end Jonathan Greenard (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday after being limited on Tuesday. Fellow defensive end Will Anderson Jr. (ankle) also did not practice after being limited on Tuesday. Fullback Andrew Beck (back), defensive end Jerry Hughes (ankle) and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (ribs/shoulder) also did not practice.

Wideouts Robert Woods (hip) and John Metchie III (foot), linebackers Blake Cashman (knee) and Denzel Perryman (ribs) and defensive tackle Maliek Collins (hip) were limited for the second straight day.

Linebacker Christian Harris (calf) and cornerback Kris Boyd (hamstring) were limited on Wednesday after not appearing on Tuesday’s injury report. One positive for Houston was guard Dieter Eiselen being a full participant after not practicing Tuesday due to an illness.

No. 7 Green Bay Packers at No. 1 San Francisco 49ers (-9.5)
Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET (Fox, fubo)
The Packers have cornerback Jaire Alexander (shoulder/ankle) as a nonparticipant, same with running back AJ Dillon (thumb/neck). Guard Elgton Jenkins (knee/ankle) and safety Darnell Savage (shoulder/calf) were limited. Wide receiver Christian Watson (hamstring) was limited.

For the 49ers, linebacker Dre Greenlaw (Achilles) was limited. Running back Christian McCaffrey (calf) and tight end George Kittle (back) were full participants.

No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 3 Detroit Lions (-6.5)
Sunday, 3 p.m. ET (NBC, fubo)
Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield (ankle/ribs) was a full participant during Wednesday’s practice. Wideout Chris Godwin (knee), running back Chase Edmonds (toe) and linebackers Shaquil Barrett (ankle) and Yaya Diaby (shoulder) did not practice.

In Detroit, tight end Sam LaPorta (knee) was a full practice participant, along with defensive back Brian Branch (knee), linebacker James Houston (ankle), safety Kerby Joseph (knee) and tight end Brock Wright (hip). Wideout Kalif Raymond (knee) did not practice Wednesday.

No. 3 Kanas City Chiefs at No. 2 Buffalo Bills (-2.5)
Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)
The Chiefs have opened up the practice window for wideout Skyy Moore (knee), who remains on the injury report. Moore was limited during Wednesday’s practice.

Defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi (tricep) was the only Kansas City player who did not practice on Wednesday. Along with Moore, wideouts Kadarius Toney (hip/ankle) and Justyn Ross (hamstring) and cornerback L’Jarius Sneed (calf) were limited.

Buffalo is dealing with significantly more injuries. Safety Taylor Rapp (calf) and wide receiver Gabe Davis (knee) did not practice Wednesday, along with cornerback Christian Benford (knee), linebacker Terrel Bernard (ankle), defensive end Leonard Floyd (rest), punter Sam Martin (left hamstring), linebacker Von Miller (rest) and linebacker Baylon Spector (back).

Linebacker Tyrel Dodson (shoulder) and cornerback Taron Johnson (concussion) were limited practice participants. Josh Allen (neck) was a full practice participant.

Byadmin

2 underdogs win outright while a third nearly shocks top seed

Playoff Pete is back.

Yep, I had a nice start to the postseason. I went 5-1 against the spread, but 3-3 straight up. I’ll take it.

The only ATS loss I had wasn’t close. I had the Cleveland Browns beating the Houston Texans, which never had a chance.

The ATS week brings my season record to 139-128-11. My straight-up record is now 171-107-0.

This week, I am going with the dogs. I like three underdogs and two to win their games outright. Let’s keep it going. Playoff Pete is looking for a sweep.

Houston Texans (+9) at Baltimore Ravens
Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN, fubo)

The Texans are coming off an impressive home victory over the Browns, while the Ravens are coming off a bye. The rest could be good for the Ravens, but the starters haven’t played in three weeks. That might matter. This will be the first road playoff game for Texans rookie passer C.J. Stroud, which can be a challenge. It can be even tougher against the Ravens stout defense. They will throw a bunch of different looks at Stroud. How he handles those will be key. Lamar Jackson will be the league MVP, but he has to go out and show he can do it in a playoff game. The pressure is on. But I think in this offense he will respond. Look for a lot of points as both quarterbacks play well, but the Ravens will win a close one behind Jackson.

Pick: Ravens 30, Texans 29

Green Bay Packers (+9.5) at San Francisco 49ers
Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET (Fox, fubo)

The Packers really looked good in beating up the Cowboys last week on the road. Winning a second straight road game against the NFC’s best team won’t be easy. The 49ers will be rested coming off the bye. Will there be rust? Jordan Love has been special the last eight weeks and showed up in a big way last week against the Cowboys. I think that carries over. The 49ers defensive front is tough, but the Packers offensive line is playing well. If you block them, you beat them. The Packers will have a big day throwing it. The 49ers will score as well, as Brock Purdy also has a big day. This will be a shootout. In the end, I am calling for the upset. The Packers pull off a stunner.

Pick: Packers 33, 49ers 31

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+6.5) at Detroit Lions
Sunday, 3 p.m. ET (NBC, fubo)

Both these teams are coming off big home victories, with the Lions earning another home game. The Bucs blew out the Eagles as Baker Mayfield came up big. The Lions had to hold on against the Rams. Detroit played well on offense, but the defense showed some flaws. That could lead to another good day by Mayfield and his receivers. I think Jared Goff will also play well, especially if he can handle the Bucs blitz. Ben Johnson will have a plan for that. The Lions beat the Bucs earlier this season in Tampa, but it was close. This will also be close, but I think this time Tampa Bay gets payback and advances to the title game. Mayfield will keep it rolling. Upset.

Pick: Bucs 30, Lions 28

Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills (-2.5)
Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)

This is the game of the week between two teams that have met in recent years, but this game is a Bills home game. That means Patrick Mahomes will be playing the first road playoff game in his career. It sure doesn’t come in an easy place to play. The Bills have rolled into the playoffs, needing to win every game down the stretch, but they have some major defensive injuries. The Chiefs offense showed well last week against Miami, so that could be a problem. Josh Allen has to limit his mistakes, which he did in the victory over the Steelers. I think he does here as the Bills beat the Chiefs to advance to the AFC championship game.

Pick: Bills 28, Chiefs 23