Iceland name Swede Hamren as new coach

first_img0Shares0000Former Sweden coach Erik Hamren has been named as the new Iceland boss © AFP/File / JONATHAN NACKSTRANDREYKJAVIK, Iceland, Aug 8 – Former Sweden coach Erik Hamren was on Wednesday announced as Iceland’s new manager, replacing Heimir Hallgrimsson who stepped down after leading the island nation to its first World Cup in Russia.Selected ahead of 30 other candidates, the 61-year-old now faces the task of taking the team to Euro 2020, which would be their third major championship in a row after reaching the Euro 2016 quarter-finals in France and the World Cup in Russia earlier this summer. “I like the challenge and I believe we can do it,” said Hamren, who has been a coach for more than 25 years at the highest level in Sweden, Denmark and Norway.“I’m coming into a new country and new team. It’s important that I won’t change everything. We have to hold onto the things that have worked well in the past.”Iceland’s former coach Hallgrimsson, 51, stepped down in July, saying it would be “good for the team to have a new vision”.Hamren signed a two-year contract with the possibility of an extension for another two years.Under his leadership, Sweden qualified for Euro 2012 and Euro 2016, but were knocked out in the group stage on both occasions.But Hamren failed to take Sweden to the 2014 World Cup after losing in a playoff to Portugal.He previously coached several clubs in his home country, but won his only league titles with Denmark’s Aalborg and Norway’s Rosenborg.Hamren had been the technical director of South African club Mamelodi Sundowns since January before resigning two days ago to take on the Iceland job.He will be assisted by Freyr Alexandersson, who has been coaching the Icelandic women’s team for five years.The two men will begin work in September for the start of the inaugural UEFA Nations League.“I’m very happy getting Freyr into the setup with me,” Hamren added. “In the short time since I met him he has impressed me hugely.”Iceland are to face Switzerland on September 8 and Belgium on September 11.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

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Seacom cable ‘online in July’

first_imgShareholders in the US$650-million (about R5.1-billion) cable include US-based Herakles Telecom (with a 25% stake), Kenya’s Industrial Promotion Services (25%), and Venfin (25%), as well as empowerment groups Convergence Partners (12.5%) and Shanduka (12.5%) from South Africa – making the cable 75% African owned. In addition, Seacom is working closely with landlocked countries to ensure that inland networks are built so they also benefit from the arrival of cheaper bandwidth. The cable’s current backhaul solutions cover Johannesburg, Kampala, Kigali and Nairobi. Lower telecoms costs The entire system will be operated and controlled through Seacom’s network operations centre, which is based in Pune, India. Testing is currently under way, and the system is set to go live in July. These include the branching units and shore-ends necessary to direct the traffic to the landing stations across eastern and southern Africa. All cable landing stations have also been completed and are operational. Critical portions of the 15 000km Seacom undersea fibre-optic data cable linking southern and east Africa, Europe and south Asia, and its associated land-based infrastructure, have been completed on schedule. 1 June 2009 In a little over a month, southern and eastern Africa will finally get truly connected to international broadband networks, Seacom says, adding that plentiful and readily available bandwidth will result in lower telecommunications costs and new opportunities across many sectors, including the call centre and business process outsourcing industries. “With the system substantially completed and testing under way, we are one step closer to delivering on our commitment and become the first project to provide eastern and southern African retail carriers with equal and open access to inexpensive bandwidth,” said Herlihy. Connecting southern and eastern Africa to the rest of the world is the most important aspect of the project, and the finalisation of the agreement with Interoute and Tata truly will enable the cable’s customers to connect to the global fibre network via a myriad of routes across all major European hubs and onwards to North America and the Middle East and Asia. Connecting Africa to the world Other life-enhancing disciplines such as educational, clinical and scientific research, which rely on the real-time sharing of data around the world, will also become a reality for many African organisations. “The team has made tremendous progress over the past couple of months and we are truly excited to finally have the finish line in sight,” Seacom CEO Brian Herlihy said in a statement last week. SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

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View From the Cab

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Pamela SmithDTN Progressive Farmer Crops Technology EditorDECATUR, Ill. (DTN) — Scott Wallis is a nuts-and-bolts row-crop farmer. The Princeton, Indiana, farmer loves everything about making a crop of corn and soybeans come to life and coaxing every bushel he can from a plot of land.There is something he gets more charged up about than agronomy, though, and that’s family. Four generations till and toil at Wallis Farms today, ranging from age 83 to 1 year. Another grandson is due to arrive soon.Wallis Farms has been expanding in recent years to accommodate this growing brood. That’s something DTN readers can look forward to learning more about in coming months. The Wallis family is one of two farms selected to report on current crop conditions and various aspects of farm life in a weekly series DTN calls “View From the Cab.”Also reporting will be Ashley Andersen who farms with her husband, Jarett, their three children, and his parents, Tim and Kim, near Blair, Nebraska. We’ll be introducing more about their farm family in a separate, upcoming article.Here’s an introduction to Wallis Farms and what’s happening in their world:WALLIS FARMS — PRINCETON, INDIANAThe Wallis family plans to plant 2,000 acres of corn and 1,100 acres of soybeans this year. So far they haven’t turned a wheel. The 5.5 inches of rain they received over the last two weeks in three separate weather events has kept work at a standstill. The forecast isn’t good for that to change with chances of additional rain predicted for the coming week.Scott Wallis’ grandfather started a tradition of recording daily rainfall totals when he bought the southwestern Indiana homestead in 1951. The family has kept that practice alive, and having access to daily rainfall data offers unique historical perspective.“It’s been a long time since we didn’t plant one acre in April,” Scott said. “But I was surprised that our total of 6.2 inches for the month is still below the five- and 10-year average.“That total is above the 25- and 50-year average, but for me, it documents what we’re experiencing. These days we tend to get fewer rain events, but they come in bigger volumes. We just don’t often get those gentle 1-inch rains anymore.”Weather and compressed planting windows are definitely factoring into management decisions at the farm. Scott’s father, Bob, is still a valuable part of the team when it comes time to go to the field, but sometimes there aren’t enough man-hours to cover the work hours.Scott’s son, J.R. Wallis, and J.R.’s wife, Nikki, joined the farm in 2014. In January 2019, Scott’s son-in-law, Brad Winter, left his job at an electric utility company to join the farm.“Brad had a desire to farm and we were depending on his labor more and more in his off hours. This year we’re able to bring him into the business and feel really good about that,” Scott said. “But we wanted to incorporate him thoughtfully into the business because leaving a good off-farm job is a serious thing in the current farming environment.”Brad’s wife (and Scott’s daughter), Abby, works for the USDA Farm Service Agency. Another daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, Robbie, live off the farm.“Make no mistake, my wife, Julie, holds all this together,” Scott said.The farm has expanded by about 40% over the past few years through a mix of purchases and rental arrangements. It’s also expanded geographically and is now stretched over 34 miles.Crossing into Illinois has moved them into territory that is slightly less aggressive with regard to land prices.“Being stretched out can be a benefit or a curse with regard to weather,” Scott said. “We were lucky and got most all our tillage work done last fall. But with our 60-foot planter, it will still take 12-14 perfect days for us to plant everything.”They plant everything in 20-inch rows. They apply all their own inputs, with the exception of fungicides, which are sometimes flown on. They pride themselves in putting boots on the ground in every field every week to scout for pests and other threats. They utilize variable-rate technology to fine-tune input use.The decision to move away from pre-plant anhydrous to sidedress liquid nitrogen was made years ago. “That is a decision that helps us negotiate years like this when the spring gets compressed,” Scott said. “Typically, when you can put on anhydrous, you can plant and we’d rather be planting.“When things open up in May, it’s going to be full throttle,” he added. “The challenge then will be to stay safe. You’ve got to know when it is time to quit and sometimes that’s hard for me to know.“But my father told me a long time ago that you can’t work all night to try to beat the rain — you’ll just find yourself sleeping when the sun is shining,” he said.Despite the very real challenge of weak commodity prices, Scott Wallis sees the seeds of optimism planted in the crop of family growing about him.“For us, it’s also a very exciting time. In my mind, there’s nothing better than being able to mentor this next generation,” Scott said. “This is what I know: The Wallis family has always been farmers.”DTN readers will be able to follow View From the Cab each Wednesday during the growing and harvesting season.Pamela Smith can be reached at [email protected] her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN(AG/ES)© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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Tablet/Laptop Hybrids Are A Great Idea, But Can The HP Envy x2 Live Up To The Promise?

first_imgI think the idea of combining a tablet with a removable keyboard to create tablet/laptop hybrid is a great idea – and the HP Envy X2 makes a brave attempt to combine the two form factors into a viable hybrid. But after using it for several weeks, the truth is that device can’t quite measure up on either side of the equation. Suprisingly, though, the Envy X2 works better as a tablet than as a laptop.(See also HP Envy x2 Tablet/Laptop Combo Cust Across Categories.)I’ve always been a big fan of using multi-function devices instead of carrying multiple specialized devices for particular purposes. I was thrilled with my first smartphone, for example, because I could finally leave my music player and PalmPilot at home. So I was really excited when I first saw the Envy X2, and thrilled when HP sent one over to let me try it out for a while.Great Form Factor, Solid ConstructionThe form factor and hardware construction made me feel even better. Both halves of the 3.1-pound unit come finished in natty brushed aluminum. The tablet portion, which also serves as the screen/lid when attached to the keyboard base, sports an 11.6” touchscreen (1366 x 768 resolution), as well as 2GB of RAM, a 64GB solid-state hard drive (in the $650 base version), an HD webcam on the front and an 8-megapixel camera on the back, plus dual-speaker “Beats Audio” sound. My only issue was the extreme widescreen aspect ratio, which made the unit awkward in some use cases.Connectivity and ports include a propriatary charging connector (boo!), headphone jack, micro SD card slot and Near Field Communications (NFC) wireless connections. Finally, A Real KeyboardThe separate base unit has an honest-to-God laptop-style keyboard: I had no problem touch-typing on it right from the start. That’s critical to this type of device, and frankly better than any of the keyboard covers, add-ons and excuses offered for everything from the Apple iPad to the Microsoft Surface. The keyboard also sports its own USB and HDMI ports and a full-size SD card slot – as well as its own battery that gets used up first when the x2 is is fully assembled.Best of all, the two parts snap together with a solid, easy to use hinge – and you don’t have to worry about turning off the device to go from laptop mode to tablet mode, or vice versa.(See also HP’s New ElitePad Business Tablet Is All About The Accessories.)The Envy x2 I tested runs on Windows 8, which I believe works best in these kinds of small, touchscreen devices. (HP has also released a $480 version running Android called the Slatebook x2.)(See also How Windows 8 Throws Computer Users Under The Bus.) Trading Performance For Battery Life: = A Bad IdeaIn a deliberate move to extend battery life, HP chose to power the Envy x2 with a Intel Atom Z2760 processor running at 1.8GHz. The company claims battery life of up to 10.75 hours for the tablet portion, and up to 19.25 hours for the combined unit (continuous video playback was rated at up to 7 hours for the tablet only, 12.25 hours for the combined unit). In my informal tests, I was never able to use the x2 enough in one day to empty the battery, which I guess is the point. But leaving the machine off for a couple days did seem to drain power.But there’s a steep trade-off here. The Atom processor is simply too wimpy to provide full-fledged laptop performance. I noticed lags and delays constantly just moving around the Windows 8 interface, using simple programs and watching videos. Think netbook, not notebook, and those things faded away for a reason. Using the x2 as a tablet was less bothersome, but still not up to the smoothness and responsiveness standards set by iPads and leading Android tablets.More Netbook Than Notebook?In the end, I could probably live with the tablet-side performance (hardly a ringing endorsement, I know), but there’s no way I could give up a “real” laptop for the x2. And that, right there, turns the Envy x2 into an interesting experiment instead of a useful computing solution. If you still need a real laptop, you might as well get a real tablet. One final note: Earlier this month, HP announced the $800 Split x2, with a 13.3-inch touchscreen and a much more powerful Intel Core processor. This version is not due out until August, but could solve the performance issues. On the other hand, the faster chip will challenge battery life. And with a 13.3-inch screen, that’s going to be one heckuva big tablet!(See also Forget the iPad Mini – Is There Room For An iPad Maxi?)All images by Madeleine Weiss for Readwrite, except Split x2, courtesy of HP. 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now fredric paul Related Posts center_img Tags:#HP#Reviews#tablets#Windows tablets Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of… IT + Project Management: A Love Affair Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo…last_img read more

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Before You Take Another Bite

first_img Essential Reading! Get my 2nd book: The Lost Art of Closing “In The Lost Art of Closing, Anthony proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest parts of the sales process—if you’ve set it up properly with other commitments that have to happen long before the close. The key is to lead customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a purchase stall.” Buy Now Four years ago you introduced a new sales process at your sales kickoff meeting. You certified all of your salespeople in the new process. Everyone was excited, and the new process was all anyone—especially leadership—could talk about for months. About three months.The year after that you rolled a new sales force automation program that was going to arm the sales force with the modern tools they need to manage their client relationships and allow management to forecast. The excitement was palpable. For about 11 weeks.The following year you rolled out redesigned territory plans, redesigned compensation structures, and a new management team. The sales force groaned, but it was necessary, and the consultants said it was going to help you reach your growth targets.Then a new methodology was introduced. No one was really sure whether or not it was going to work, but hey, leadership loved it. Off you went, chasing the “new” new thing.What Went WrongNone of these initiatives worked. That means the sales process was wrong. It means the sales force automation failed. It means the territory plans and comp structures are still wrong, and they probably need looked at again.But because these initiatives didn’t produce the desired results doesn’t mean that they were poor decisions. Something else is to blame: execution.Unless you found a way to do something outrageously foolish, the sales process will work—if it is followed. But without it being wholly adopted as “the way we do business” and coached to by the sales management team, it’s as worthless as the paper it’s written on (or the stages so carefully delineated in your sales force automation).Unless the SFA is used for more than forecasting, it isn’t going to help you manage the important asset that is your relationships. If the execution isn’t there, you might as well go back to spreadsheets.The territory plan and compensation pans are important, but changing them every year doesn’t even provide you enough time and evidence to know what you should expect. As for the new methodology, the sales force has already come to expect it is the flavor of the month.Every one of these initiatives is a big bite. Now you’ve bitten off way more than you can chew. You can’t swallow a single new initiative until you chew what you’ve already bitten off and swallow it.last_img read more

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Costa Rica bring unique flavour, says S Kannan

first_imgThis is turning out to be an intense football World Cup. Almost anything you could have asked for is happening. Die-hard fans back home in India complain of being sleep-deprived and yet are glued to the television.The early demise of Spain’s Tiki-Taka has resulted in a lot of tears being shed for the defending champions, whose unbelievable run from the Euro 2008 win finally ended last week. Most of us also knew highly overrated England would never be able to get their act right. The pampered Three Lions looked as meek as a cat before being booted out.Oh, and what a way it came when Costa Rica kicked in an early goal against Italy on Friday. For those who love a rich blend of filter coffee, Costa Rica – which produces high-caffeine beans – showed they can blend it well on the field too.Costa Rica’s coach Jorge Luis Pinto (left) has been influential in the team’s success.There is nothing fancy about their football side as they do not have pin-up superstars who glare at you from Tshirts or hoardings. This Latin American country is unique in its own way. For a small country which has a fascinating 1,300km coastline with 300 exotic beaches situated between Nicaragua and Panama, one may wonder what is it that makes their football click.Indeed, coach Jorge Luis Pinto, a Colombian, has to get credit for the success in what had been termed the “Group of Death”. Pinto is a coach with immense experience. He has been coaching for almost three decades and has taken on 19 coaching jobs, this being his second stint with Costa Rica.advertisementObviously, his boys play with flair backed by a strong defence. To beat two-time world champions Uruguay and then pip four-time world champions Italy tells you the whole story about this rare democratic nation in Latin America. If one compares it with any football-playing European nation, Costa Rica looks pale. Yet, on the field, the brilliance of captain Bryan Ruiz stands out. Unlike Spain, the Costa Ricans play aggressively, so it was not surprising to see them commit 24 fouls against Italy!More important was their solid defence which made life miserable for Italy as they were caught in the off-side trap repeatedly.Such has been the dominance of Costa Rica that England must be dreading the thought of playing them in their last league match. At the same time, so forceful has been the showing from Pinto’s boys that either Italy or Uruguay is going to miss the cut for the Round of 16.In many ways, results in this World Cup have defied odds. Who would have thought that Spain, two time Euro champions and 2010 World Cup winners, would fall by the wayside in the first round. Obviously, playing with older players has done them no good and it’s about time there was a change. Sport is not about mourning but celebrating, the way Brazil has done the last 10 days. It is still early days and even as we read several negative reports about the host nation, on the field the football has been riveting.For the sheer number of goals scored, the Brazuca ball has caught the imagination of even those who are not hardcore football fans at home. Hardy, a chronic motorsport lover in the Capital, wonders why the FIFA World Cup gets so much play in the media! It’s only after watching a few matches that he realised how addictive the beautiful game is.It’s still early days for many teams and to predict who will win the World Cup is hazardous.A team like Chile has also looked refreshing and Belgium has rebuilt its side well. As a small nation with just 34 professional clubs spread over two divisions, they would be worth watching. More importantly, this European side has shown that the fluid 4-3-3 formation can work wonders on the field. The huge disappointment has been England and they need to take the blame for it. When one talks of club football, England offers huge money. Over the years, all English football has done is provide EPL fans unending excitement.Yet, when it comes to the major events like the World Cup and the European Championship, the English side looks jaded. Serious football writers mince no words when they criticise the Three Lions for their faint-hearted efforts. The lament is more about how players like Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard do not play with heart. They are definitely the under-performers in the truest sense as these super-rich players have played below par.advertisementIt is well known that since Britain wants to win medals in track and field in the Olympics at any cost, they import players, pay them a fortune and then celebrate their medals. Prime example, Mo Farah.The time has come when the English Football Association would do well to hire foreign recruits not just for their cash-rich clubs but also their national side. That seems the only way this bunch of losers can learn to [email protected]last_img read more

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Skeptical Football The NFC South Isnt The Worst Division In NFL History

Now that the dust has settled on the penultimate week of the NFL season, 10 teams have clinched playoff spots and 16 more have been eliminated.The Philadelphia Eagles are in the latter column. Back in Week 1, Benjamin Morris (who’s on vacation this week) and I made a chart showing how often teams have made the playoffs since 1990, given their records at various points during the season. Take a look at the Eagles’ progress through the playoff “grid.”The Eagles sat at 9-3 through Week 13. From 1990 to 2013, just two teams, the 1993 Miami Dolphins and the 2008 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, managed to miss the playoffs after starting with that record. The 2014 Eagles now join them, dropping three straight to Seattle, Dallas and, worst of all, lowly Washington, thanks to two field goals missed by Cody Parkey and a killer Mark Sanchez pick.Because the NFL is cruel and unfair, here’s the same chart for the Atlanta Falcons:If Atlanta beats Carolina at home — the Falcons are currently favored by around 4 points — they’ll make the playoffs as the under-.500 champion of the lowly NFC South. This would make the Falcons the first 2-6 team and the first 5-9 team to make the playoffs since 1990. They’d become the second team to make the playoffs despite incurring a five-game losing streak during the season. And they’d do it despite winning only one game outside their division — they are 1-9 outside the NFC South and 5-0 within it.This sort of mediocrity could be short-lived. The first and only 7-9 team to make the playoffs was the 2010 Seattle Seahawks, a member of the 14th-worst division in the history of the NFL. Three seasons later, the Seahawks were Super Bowl champions and the NFC West was the second-best division in NFL history, winning 30 of its 40 non-division games. Make fun of the Falcons — and the NFC South — while you still can.The worst division in historySpeaking of, time to get in our NFC South shots. Going into Week 16, the teams in the NFC South had 9.5 wins against non-division opponents in 38 chances this season (counting Carolina’s tie against Cincinnati as half a win). That .250 winning percentage matched the 2008 NFC West, which ended the season with just 10 non-division wins. Last week, Tampa Bay did its part by getting smoked by the Green Bay Packers, but a fourth-quarter Carolina comeback against Cleveland pushed the division to 10.5 wins, giving the NFC South a .263 winning percentage.This means that the 2008 NFC West remains the worst division in sports history. The table below shows all 897 division-seasons that have taken place in the four major American sports leagues since divisions were instituted.1I performed a similar analysis of “worst divisions” last year for Deadspin, but I didn’t take out games won within each division. Whoops! Also note that for our purposes I’m considering “divisions” to be league organizations that divide teams into more than two groups — the NBA East and West “divisions” before the 1970-71 season are pretty much what we now consider conferences. In all, there have been 296 division-seasons in the NFL (since 1970), 190 in the NBA (since 1970-71), 226 in MLB (since 1969), and 185 in the NHL (since 1974-75). These seasons are sorted by winning percentage in non-division games.2Ties were counted as half a win, and the NHL’s silly overtime loss points were counted simply as losses. The NFL dominates the list, claiming 16 of the 17 worst divisions. The 1978-79 Smythe Division in the NHL takes the fifth spot (.290 non-division winning percentage), and the 1971-72 Central Division in the NBA comes in at 28th (.353). You have to go all the way to 94th to get to the first MLB division on this list, the 2002 AL Central (.412).Of course, the NFL plays a lot fewer games than the other leagues, and its divisions have fewer teams in them (just 4.4 teams on average since they were instituted, compared to the NHL’s 5.2, MLB’s 5.6 and the NBA’s 5.7.) It’s “easier” for a mediocre division to lose 30 out of 40 games than it is to lose 300 out of 400.But there’s a way to correct for this a bit. There’s a possibility that the 2008 NFC West really was average in quality, but just unlucky. We can employ a binomial distribution to figure out the likelihood that was the case, calculating the chances the NFC West would get 10 or fewer non-division wins in 40 games if it were a .500-level division. The 25 worst divisions by this measure are listed below. (In order to use a binomial distribution we have to omit ties, which is why these records are a little different than those in the sortable table above.)The NHL’s 1978-79 Smythe division stands alone here, with about a 1 in 162 billion chance of secretly being average. It’s immediately followed by the 1977-78 Smythe, the 1975-76 Smythe and the 1976-77 Smythe. The ’70s were a dark period for fans of the Black Hawks, Canucks, Blues, North Stars and Scouts/Rockies.MLB sneaks into the Top 25 with the 2002 AL Central’s odds of 1 in about 7,000 of being average. The first NFL division doesn’t come until the 39th spot. The smaller sample actually helps here, as an NFL division would have to go 0-40 in non-division play to beat the terrible 1978-79 Smythe, and 4-36 (.100) to beat the 2010 Atlantic in the NBA.There are other mathematical ways to go about this, and one could also argue that the NFL’s small sample size means that non-divisional records aren’t necessarily a great measure of quality. (The 2014 AFC South has a lower cumulative Elo rating than its NFC equivalent.) For now, let’s agree that the Smythe Division was pretty bad in 1978-79 and so is the NFC South in 2014.A freshman year to rememberWeek 16 is a great time to make fun of terrible preseason predictions, but some pundits got it right. The 2014 wide receiver draft class was touted as one of the best and deepest in NFL history.3Not by everyone; here’s one more prediction to make fun of. It has certainly lived up to the hype.Odell Beckham Jr. has been the most dominant, but he’s far from the only rookie receiver to have an immediate effect. The table on the left shows the draft pick and expected points added (from Advanced Football Analytics) for the nine best rookie wide receivers in the league. Note that the New Orleans Saints’ Brandin Cooks suffered a season-ending injury in Week 11, truncating his production. He was arguably the Saints’ best receiver up to that point.It’s not normal for this many rookie receivers to do so well:This season, rookie WRs have contributed 10.1 percent of the league’s receiving yards and 11.6 percent of its receiving touchdowns. Those are the highest figures since the merger, excluding the 1987 season, when replacement “rookies” were brought in from Weeks 4 through 6 to break a players’ strike.Let’s return to Beckham, who has had 90+ receiving yards in eight straight contests. Ninety yards is a great game but not an extraordinary one — 12 other receivers had 90+ yards in Week 16 — so stringing together a bunch of them doesn’t sound so impossible. And yet, since 1960, there have been just 16 streaks of 90+ yards in at least six games. Only five players have a streak of at least eight games:The chart above shows the yards that Calvin Johnson (2012), Michael Irvin (1995), Dwight Clark (1982), Bill Groman (1961) and now Odell Beckham Jr. (2014) accumulated during their respective streaks. Johnson is the only one to top Beckham’s yardage through eight games, and that 2012 run is probably the best stretch of receiving in NFL history. In Week 17, Beckham will try to tie Michael Irvin’s streak of nine games, against the Eagles in a game of no other real consequence.In fact, a lot of games are of very little consequence this week. Thanks to Philadelphia’s loss to Washington, the NFC wild-card race is already wrapped up, while Cincinnati’s Monday night win leaves just one spot available in the AFC. If you root for one of the 14 teams with playoff berths or seeding on the line (or one of the two in contention for the top draft pick), you can check out some Week 17 game scenarios in the interactive below. For everyone else, enjoy your week off. read more

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Are The Rangers And Blackhawks Clutch — Or Lucky

How did these “hot” teams fare? They played 56 games … and won 28, or exactly half. So they’re basically doing as well as you would by flipping a coin. Previous clutch performance in playoff games doesn’t seem to count for much.There’s just a teensy tiny bit of good news for Blackhawks and Rangers fans. While a 50 percent winning percentage isn’t great, it’s slightly better than the overall winning percentage for teams facing elimination, which is 45 percent. (Teams facing elimination are usually underdogs because of selection bias: If they were playing as well as their opponents, they probably wouldn’t be facing elimination to begin with.) The difference is too small to be statistically significant, however.4A more thorough study would need to control for factors like home-ice advantage and overall team strength. Still, in my experience, your prior when working with hockey data should be that if something looks random, it probably is. The Rangers may have some other advantages late in playoff series. They have Henrik Lundqvist. And they’re an excellent five-on-five team, whereas their special teams are just average. Games 6 and 7 of playoff series historically feature relatively few penalties, which could play to the Rangers’ strengths.The problem is that Tampa Bay has been a very good five-on-five team, too. And should the series go to Game 7, the Lightning have also been pretty good in the clutch, with a 6-2 record in elimination games since 2010. But, hey: Having to win two coin flips isn’t so bad; the Rangers have come back from much worse odds before. Fear not, Blackhawks fans. Your team might have lost to the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night, going down three games to two in the insane Western Conference finals. But the Blackhawks have battled back before. Since 2010, when faced with elimination from the playoffs, they have an excellent 9-3 record.And there’s hope for you, too, Rangers fans. Your team also needs a win — on Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals — to stay alive. But the Rangers have been through this before — a lot. Since 2010, they have been faced with playoff elimination 18 times. They are 14-4 in those games.There’s just one problem. Having a good record in elimination games doesn’t seem to predict much about how a team will fare the next time it must win or go home.In the table below, I’ve listed all instances in the NHL expansion era1Since 1967-68. in which an NHL team faced elimination in the playoffs but came in with a “hot” record in previous such games. A team qualified as “hot” if it was at least five games over .500 in playoff elimination games2I define an “elimination game” as one when a team faces elimination by losing — not when it has the chance to eliminate its opponent. So Tuesday’s Game 6 counts as an elimination game for the Rangers, but not the Lightning. If the Rangers win and the series advances to Game 7, it will count as an elimination game for both teams. in the current season plus the past five seasons.3So since 2010, for instance, for playoff teams this year. read more

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