Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

By Sam Robinson

With four consecutive AFC West titles and Patrick Mahomes secure under center through the end of the decade, the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs are the heavy division favorite. Kansas CIty’s dominance, in fact, may last for years.

All the Chiefs’ division rivals have significantly improved, but each has a potentially fatal flaw.

Denver Broncos

REASON TO BE OPTIMISTIC: Upgrades galore, especially at WR

The Broncos have pieced together their deepest skill-position corps since 2014. Denver will pair rookie wideouts Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler with emerging star Courtland Sutton, 2019 first-round tight end Noah Fant and…

USA TODAY Sports: Gregory Fisher | Russell Isabella | Kamil Krzaczynski

By Sean Keane

On July 9, 1968, the Lakers traded for reigning MVP Wilt Chamberlain, who was eager to leave the 76ers to play in Los Angeles. If the technology had existed back then, Wilt the Stilt would have been photoshopped into a Lakers jersey months before the trade, and Woj’s father would have broken the news via telegraph.

Since then, Lakers fans always assume that any available superstar could — and should — be heading to Los Angeles, and often, they’re right. Since Wilt, the team has attracted a ton of stars. Seven years after landing the Big Dipper…

Darryl Norenberg-USA TODAY Sports

By John Banks

Decades before the concept of an NBA Superteam became a thing, the trend-setting Los Angeles Lakers created their own version of a “Big Three.”

On July 9, 1968, Los Angeles shipped center Darrall Imhoff, forward Jerry Chambers and guard Archie Clark to the Philadelphia 76ers for 7-foot-1 center Wilt Chamberlain, who was (in)famous for scoring off the court as well as on it. ( 20,000, really?)

The Lakers figured the addition of the 31-year-old reigning MVP to a lineup that featured fellow future Hall of Famers Jerry West and Elgin Baylor would result in their first title…

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

By Chris Mueller

NASCAR’s swift response to what originally appeared to be a hate crime against one of its drivers should serve as an example for the NFL hierarchy.

An FBI investigation determined the noose found in Bubba Wallace’s garage at Talladega Superspeedway was neither a hoax nor a hate crime and that it had been there since 2019, long before it was assigned to Wallace, the only African-American driver on the circuit.

In many ways, though, NASCAR’s overwhelming show of support for Wallace, along with president Steve Phelps’ condemnation of racism , was the real story. Nearly every person…

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

By Pat Heery

When the season resumes July 30, it will have been 141 days since the league suspended play following Rudy Gobert’s positive COVID-19 test. To put that in perspective, there were only 131 days between the last game of the 2018–19 season (Game 6 of the Warriors-Raptors Finals) and the first game of the 2019–2020 season.

In other words, players have had an entire “offseason” to get ready for this season’s playoffs. Lots can happen when a great player gets this much time between live games.

Every offseason brings about an opportunity for players to add new elements…

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

By Sam Robinson

Unlike Andy Dalton or Jameis Winston, Cam Newton will have a chance to relaunch his career immediately rather than waiting for an injury to free up snaps. Newton’s one-year Patriots deal, after 3½ months in free agency, also transforms a confusing quarterback situation.

Based on name recognition, the Newton-to-New England transaction would give the former MVP an ideal place to reboot and provide Bill Belichick a way for his team to remain a Super Bowl contender. But Newton will face challenges on several fronts.

Adding the 31-year-old standout makes more competitive sense than the Patriots giving the…

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

By Sam Robinson

As the NFL moves closer to the scheduled opening of training camps, it is becoming clear the league will need to walk a tightrope to proceed with Week 1 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hellbent on playing its 101st season on schedule, the NFL must navigate obstacles on multiple fronts to pull it off. Beyond the question of how to play a contact sport in the country with the most recorded coronavirus cases, another hurdle has long-term ramifications.

Addressing the attendance issue Thursday, the league said it plans to steer clear of a uniform policy. The NFL has…

USA TODAY Sports: Mark J. Rebilas | Jayne Kamin-Oncea | Joe Camporeale

By Daniel R. Epstein

If 2020 had been an ordinary baseball season, we’d be arguing over All-Star roster spots right about now. The beginning of summer just doesn’t feel right without it. It’s impossible to tell who would’ve reached the All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium in a 162-game season that didn’t happen, but below is a pseudo-educated guess.

All-Star rosters are always subject to debate. To make these selections, the best players at each position were identified based on past performance, All-Star voting histories, and, in some cases, prospect rankings and performances toward the end of last season.

From there…

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

By Sam Robinson

Training camps aren’t scheduled to open until next month, but we easily can identify now Super Bowl favorites (Chiefs, Saints, Ravens) and bottom-dwellers (Jags, Redskins, Panthers). Then there are teams that have neither substantial upward mobility nor rosters bad enough to outflank the dregs for a chance to draft Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence, the presumptive №1 pick.

No division houses more members of this middling contingent than the NFC North. Entering 2020, this storied division has three teams firmly in the middle class. Bovada’s Super Bowl LV odds slot each between 14th and 25th.

The Vikings (14th)…

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Nine years ago, the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted point guard and astronomy enthusiast Kyrie Irving with the №1 pick in the NBA draft. He went on to win the Rookie of the Year Award and an NBA title with the Cavaliers, make six All-Star teams and play for three different teams.

But the career path for Kyrie, now with the Brooklyn Nets, would have been totally different if it weren’t for a deadline trade in 2011. Follow along … if you dare.

On Feb. 24, 2011, the Cavaliers sent Mo Williams and Jamario Moon to the Clippers in exchange for Baron…


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