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Teams battle for playoff positioning in WNBA’s final week



Teams battle for playoff positioning in WNBA’s final week

Heading into the final days of the season, the Fever have the best chance at securing the top pick in the draft.

With less than a week left in the regular season of the WNBA, playoff seeding, a postseason berth and draft lottery chances are still undecided.

Buoyed by a 12-game winning streak, Connecticut has clinched the top seed throughout the playoffs and leads The Associated Press power poll. Las Vegas needs one more victory or loss by Minnesota this week to earn the No. 2 seed and the other double bye to the semifinals. The Lynx are third with Phoenix and Seattle both in the mix for the third and fourth seeds.

With the playoffs beginning next week, Chicago has locked in the sixth seed and will host a first-round game against the No. 7 seed, which right now is Dallas.

At the other end of the spectrum, Indiana, New York and Atlanta are in the mix for the best odds at winning the league’s draft lottery.

Heading into the final days of the season, the Fever have the best chance at securing the top pick in the draft. Indiana has 12 wins over the past two seasons, one more than New York and two more than Atlanta. Indiana and Atlanta play on Tuesday night — one of three games the Fever have left. Indiana would need to win two of them for the Liberty to have any chance to pass them.

“Definitely is something at the back of my head,” Liberty coach Walt Hopkins said of getting into the draft lottery again and potentially getting the No. 1 pick for a third straight season. “It is a silver lining if that were to happen, but we’re not talking about that eventuality at all. Right now we’re focused on the next game.”

The Liberty still have a shot at the final playoff spot, trailing Washington by one game. The two teams play in New York on Friday night. Los Angeles is also still alive in the playoff chase, trailing the Mystics by a game also.

1. Connecticut (24-6): The Sun will have homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs and have lost just one home game all season. Connecticut also could be boosted by the return of Alyssa Thomas, who has been out this season with an Achilles’ injury suffered in January. She recently has been practicing taking warmups with the team.

2. Las Vegas (22-8): The Aces hit the road for the final two games of the regular season and hope to have Liz Cambage back soon from her bout with COVID-19.

3. Minnesota (20-10): Aerial Powers continues to provide a boost to the Lynx since her return Aug. 21 from a thumb injury. The team is 7-1 with her back and Powers is averaging 14 points a game during that stretch.

4. Phoenix (19-11): The Mercury saw their 10-game winning streak end with a loss to Connecticut last week. They are still one of the hottest teams in the league, buoyed by the strong play of Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins-Smith. Diana Taurasi has missed the last few games with an ankle injury, but expects to be back soon.

5. Seattle (20-11): The Storm are missing Breanna Stewart due to a foot injury she suffered in a win over Washington last Tuesday. Stewart will miss the team’s final regular season game against Phoenix. Earning a first-round bye to give Stewart more recovery time would be huge for Seattle.

6. Chicago (15-15): With the Sky’s playoff seeding determined, coach James Wade has some decision to make about how he handles the final two games of the season. No one played more than 28 minutes in the loss to Washington in Chicago’s last game.

7. Dallas (13-18): The Wings clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2018 and are getting healthy at the right time. Satou Sabally played for the first time since the season resumed from the Olympic break in the one-point win over New York that earned Dallas the postseason appearance. Sabally had been dealing with Achilles’ soreness.

8. Washington (12-18): The Mystics can secure a playoff spot with a win over New York on Friday. Washington could be one of the most dangerous teams to face in the postseason if they are healthy. Coach Mike Thibault’s team is still missing Elena Delle Donne (back), Myisha Hines-Allen (non-COVID-19 illness). 

9. Los Angeles (11-19): The Sparks ended a six-game skid and are still alive in the playoff hunt, but need a bit of help to make the postseason.

10 New York (11-19): Most of the Liberty players are healthy that coach Walt Hopkins expected to be have on the floor when the season began. It may be too late as New York, which has lost seven straight games needs a lot of things to go its way to make the playoffs.

11. Atlanta (7-22): The Dream close out the season with home games against Indiana and Los Angeles before heading to Connecticut .

12. Indiana (6-23): The Fever have been playing teams tough lately with a short-handed roster, but haven’t gotten wins to show for it. Indiana close out the year with games against Atlanta, Minnesota and Chicago.

Tina Charles of Washington was voted as the Player of the Week after averaging 20.3 points, 10 rebounds and 2.7 assists to help the Mystics go 2-1 and stay in the playoff chase. Other players receiving votes included A’ja Wilson and Kelsey Plum of Las Vegas, Jonquel Jones of Connecticut, Aerial Powers and Napheesa Collier of Minnesota.

Mystics at Liberty, Friday. Washington can clinch a playoff berth with a victory over New York. 

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Source: Elway interested in joining ownership group if Broncos are sold



Source: Elway interested in joining ownership group if Broncos are sold

Chubb, Jewell leave game with injuries. Graham Glasgow confident he’ll play next week. Special teams gives up another TD return.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Could it be, John Elway competing with Peyton Manning to buy the Broncos?

Per source with knowledge of John Elway’s plans, the Broncos’ former quarterback, general manager and current president of football operations has interest in being part of ownership group if the team should be put up for sale.

Elway has always had a strong business acumen and is making necessary preparations. 

CBS Sports reported Sunday that Manning is also interested in putting an ownership group together if the Broncos were to be sold.

Broncos CEO and president Joe Ellis has said a determination on the team’s ownership transition, currently held in the Pat Bowlen Trust, wouldn’t be made until after the season.

Ellis has also said the team would either be run by Brittany Bowlen, a daughter of later owner Pat Bowlen, provided certain conditions be met, or would be put up for sale. 

Last month, Forbes valued the Broncos’ franchise at $3.75 billion. While Elway and Manning have done well for themselves financially, neither has that kind of loot. Each would need an investor group with at least least one multibillionaire to make it work.

RELATED: Ellis: Broncos to begin transition to new owner after this season

Outside linebacker Bradley Chubb returned to the starting lineup after sitting out the opener last week with an ankle injury. Perhaps, Chubb returned a week too early. He left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury and didn’t return.

Inside linebacker Josey Jewell suffered a shoulder injury in the second quarter and didn’t return. He was replaced by second-year linebacker Justin Strnad.

Right guard Graham Glasgow said prior to the game Sunday he was hopeful he would be cleared to play next Sunday against the New York Jets in the Broncos’ home opener.

Glasgow said his heart tests this week came back, “pretty good. Which is surprising considering what went on in the game.”

When did his heart, which was later diagnosed with an irregularity, start acting up last week against the Giants? “About the second series,” he said.

He continued to play for all but the final three-and-out series. 

One of the downers for the Broncos is they gave up a late, 102-yard touchdown kickoff return to Jacksonville’s Jamal Agnew. It was the fifth return touchdown (punt or kickoff) the Broncos have surrendered since the start of the 2018 season, more than any NFL team.

“From my vantage point, it wasn’t a great one, it looked like we had a chance to tackle him real early and everybody went right by him,” Fangio said.

Special teams linebacker Jonas Griffin had the best chance to stop Agnew around the 20 and Mike Ford had a chance late.

“And that guys’ a helluva returner,” Fangio said. “He’s one of the top five returners in the league. But obviously it’s a problem. It’s not one that we haven’t addressed. … It’s been addressed, just need to keep sawing wood at it.”

RELATED: Bridgewater stays calm and hot, lifts Broncos past Jaguars, 23-13

RELATED: Good day for Bowlen children: Forbes raises Broncos value to $3.75 billion

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Soto’s 454-foot homer helps Nationals beat Rockies 3-0



Soto’s 454-foot homer helps Nationals beat Rockies 3-0

The Rockies went 7-2 on their first winning road trip this season and are 25-52 on the road and 45-27 at Coors Field.

WASHINGTON — Juan Soto homered to back Paolo Espino, and the Washington Nationals beat Colorado 3-0 on Sunday afternoon to end the Rockies’ rare five-game road winning streak. 

Soto hit a 454-foot drive in the third inning off Jon Gray (8-11), Soto’s 26th home run this season. 

Soto is hitting .362 with a 1.178 OPS since the All-Star break. 

Colorado had matched its longest winning streak this season. 

The Rockies went 7-2 on their first winning road trip this season and are 25-52 on the road and 45-27 at Coors Field.

Colorado is off Monday before returning Tuesday at home against the Dodgers. They will play their final nine-game homestand of the year. 

>>Video above: Locked on Rockies: Larry the legend heads to Cooperstown 

RELATED: Rockies easily handle Nationals to keep rolling on road trip

RELATED: Rockies score 2 in 9th, beat Nats 9-8 for 4th straight win

RELATED: Braves, Rockies face schedule headache after postponement

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Bridgewater stays calm, guides Broncos to 10-7 halftime lead on Jaguars



Bridgewater stays calm, guides Broncos to 10-7 halftime lead on Jaguars

After a poor opening series, Denver D adjusted well to Jaguars’ rookie QB Trevor Lawrence. Bridgewater has thrown for 184 yards and TD by halftime.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — To help acclimate for the early start time and long flight, Broncos head coach Vic Fangio flew his team here Friday evening, a night earlier than usual.

About halfway through the second quarter, there was reason to wonder if Fangio should have brought the team down Thursday.

The Jaguars gave the Denver D an immediate wakeup call at muggy, rainy TIAA Bank Field by efficiently marching 83 yards to score a touchdown on the opening drive. Rookie quarterback and No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence had plenty of protection and receivers running free as he completed 5 passes for 73 yards, including a beautiful 25-yard touchdown to Marvin Jones Jr., who beat cornerback Kyle Fuller on a sideline-and-go pattern.

The Broncos were down quickly, 7-0.

Luckily for the two-night visitors, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has all the panic of a man in a deep slumber. The man has zero anxiety.

Bridgewater calmly answered the Jaguars’ opening statement by leading the Broncos on two sustain drives to put Denver up 10-7 at halftime. He had completed 15 of 21 for 184 yards at the break, including a 12-yard touchdown pass to Tim Patrick on the first play after the 2-minute warning.

Courtland Sutton was the Broncos’ leading receiver with 4 catches for 68 yards.

After Lawrence connected with Jones to put the Broncos on alert, Denver got a break on the ensuing drive when cornerback Shaquill Griffin was called for holding on third-and-long while he was covering tight end Albert Okwuegbunam well away from where Bridgewater threw an incompletion. The first down by penalty, and accurate Bridgewater passing, moved the Broncos to first and goal at the 10. At which point Bridgewater, who had stepped out of a sack for a completion earlier in the drive, couldn’t shake the pursuing edge rusher Josh Allen, who dropped the Broncos’ quarterback for a 16-yard loss.

Still, the Broncos broke Jags’ momentum with an 8 minute, 55 second drive that finished with a Brandon McManus 33-yard field goal.

The first quarter ended with Jacksonville up, 7-3, but the Denver D came through a three-and-out on its second series to settle things down.

It stayed that way until about 5 minutes left in the half. After rookie running back Javonte Williams was tackled behind the line of scrimmage, the Broncos’ drive was facing second and 16 at its own 14. At which point Bridgewater went to work. His best play was a 33-yard, touch pass completion to Sutton that moved the ball from the Broncos’ 40 to the Jaguars’ 27.

It occurred as Bridgewater was under pressure, then stepped up in the pocket to a clearing. He calmly saw Sutton scramble his route towards the end zone and Bridgewater hit him perfectly.

Bridgewater then completed a 15-yard pass to Kendall Hinton – his first NFL game as a receiver after breaking in memorably as an emergency quarterback last season – and, after the 2-minute warning, connected with an open Patrick on a drag route for the touchdown.

Jacksonville could have been leading but kicker Josh Lambo missed field goals from 52 and 48 yards. But the Denver D made the necessary adjustments on Lawrence, who was just 5 of 16 for 20 yards after his first drive.

RELATED: Familar coach helps Saubert settle in as Broncos’ No. 3 tight end

RELATED: Von Miller resumes his climb up all-time sack chart

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