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EFL Championship – Week 8 Slate

The Championship is back to a normal slate this week, with one match per club and all matches relegated to Friday and Saturday. As always, the number in parenthesis before each team in their current spot in the Weekly Power Rankings. Home teams are listed first, and winners will be indicated in bold. In the event of a draw, both teams will be placed in italics.

Friday, 28 September 2018
7:45pm BST/2:45pm EST
(12) Bristol City v (9) Aston Villa
(14) Sheffield Wednesday v (4) Leeds United

Saturday, 29 September 2018
3:00pm BST/10:00am EST
(17) Birmingham City v (23) Ipswich Town
(15) Blackburn Rovers v (13) Nottingham Forest
(10) Bolton Wanderers v (5) Derby County
(6) Brentford v (22) Reading
(20) Hull City v (1) Middlesbrough
(21) Millwall v (2) Sheffield United
(8) Norwich City v (7) Wigan Athletic  **MATCH OF THE WEEK**
(24) Preston North End v (3) West Bromwich Albion
(11) Swansea City v (16) Queens Park Rangers
5:30pm BST/12:30pm EST
(19) Rotherham United v (18) Stoke City

With our top three teams heading on the road to face off against teams with an average ranking of nearly 22, our Match of the Week will be between teams that have both been climbing the rankings over the past couple of weeks. Norwich City has won three matches in a row, while Wigan Athletic won both of their matches last week. If Norwich manages to defend their home pitch and pick up the three points, they should find themselves in the thick of the playoff race as we enter October.

The only Championship club that hasn’t yet won a match on the season is Ipswich Town, and by ranking and match location, they are probably going to go at least another week without one. That said, Birmingham City was in the same boat before Saturday, when they picked up their first win of the season against former #1 club Leeds United, and they are unbeaten in their past five matches (1-4-0). Picking up the three points against Ipswich would move them firmly out of the relegation zone for the time being, though with over 30 matches left to be played, it remains to be seen where they end up at the end of the season.

Until next time…

Last update: 24 September 2018, 1:00pm EST

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Tiger Wins In Advance of Ryder Cup

I’ve written about golf previously here, and it was really hard not to fall into the narrative that is pervasive in golf these days. When Franceso Molinari won the Open Championship, lost in his victory was a strong performance by tiger Woods. Forget that Molinari was the first Italian golfer to win a major. Tiger looked good for the first time in X years and he got pretty close to winning (even though he didn’t really), and the stories were “Is Tiger Back?” and all that. I am guilty of writing that story as well.

When Brooks Koepka won the PGA Championship, the stories again were focused on Tiger, though this time they may have been more warranted because he actually finished in second place, though Koepka had sealed it up with a few holes to go and the final margin was only as close as it was (2 strokes) because of a meaningless birdie by Tiger on his final hole. Those same “Is tiger Back?” questions persisted, and many people – including me – questioned whether two months of golf was enough to get Tiger on the Ryder Cup team (apparently it was). Continue reading “Tiger Wins In Advance of Ryder Cup”

2018-2019 Fantasy Premier League, Week 6: Recap

Legend: (*) – starting XI, ⇐ – incoming (transfer), ⇒ – outgoing (transfer), ¤ – Captain.

Goalkeepers:

  • *David de Gea (Week 6 points: 5) – The Manchester United performance wasn’t great; they were substantial favorites against recent promotees in Wolves but weren’t able to hold on. I think this has to be viewed as a rather disappointing result. de Gea was unable to keep a clean sheet either so his point value this week wasn’t what we were hoping for.
  • Jonas Lössl (Week 6 points: 2) – Lössl made a number of saves but also shipped 3 goals in route to their loss. This went pretty much as expected for Huddersfield. Continue reading “2018-2019 Fantasy Premier League, Week 6: Recap”

EFL Championship – Week 8 Power Rankings

Two matches this week for the clubs in the Championship, and we had some unexpected results. Only four teams didn’t move in this update to our mid-week Power Rankings. We also have a new number one team in the Rankings, even if the top of the league table hasn’t changed.

Note: Records presented as W-D-L

Rank Team Record Mid-Week Change Table Pos
1 Middlesbrough 5-3-1 2 1↑ 2
2 Sheffield United 5-1-3 4 2↑ 4
3 West Bromwich Albion 5-2-2 5 2↑ 3
4 Leeds United 5-3-1 1 3↓ 1
5 Derby County 5-1-3 6 1↑ 6
6 Brentford 4-3-2 3 3↓ 7
7 Wigan Athletic 5-1-3 9 2↑ 5
8 Norwich City 4-2-3 12 4↑ 11
9 Aston Villa 3-4-2 8 1↓ 13
10 Bolton Wanderers 3-3-3 10 15
11 Swansea City 3-4-2 11 14
12 Bristol City 4-2-3 7 5↓ 8
13 Nottingham Forest 3-5-1 14 1↑ 9
14 Sheffield Wednesday 4-2-3 13 1↓ 10
15 Blackburn Rovers 3-5-1 16 1↑ 12
16 Queens Park Rangers 3-1-5 15 1↓ 16
17 Birmingham City 1-6-2 21 4↑ 17
18 Stoke City 2-3-4 18 18
19 Rotherham United 3-0-6 17 2↓ 19
20 Hull City 2-1-6 19 1↓ 21
21 Millwall 1-3-5 20 1↓ 22
22 Reading 2-2-5 23 1↑ 20
23 Ipswich Town 0-5-4 22 1↓ 23
24 Preston North End 1-2-6 24 24

Continue reading “EFL Championship – Week 8 Power Rankings”

Monday Musings Week 7 – VAR/Disciplinary

Monday musings for today comes off the back of the “controversial” red card (if you haven’t seen it, you can see it here) that Cristiano Ronaldo received in the UEFA Champions League game. The video appears to show what looks like a Valencia player slipping, followed by Ronaldo throwing his arms up (in protest of the whistle I assume) followed by the grab of a big chunk of the Valencia player’s hair. Do I think it’s a red? Yes. And frankly, hair grab or not, he put himself in this position by doing anything with another player’s (especially an opposition player) head. Regardless, that’s just the springboard for today’s musings…

What do you think of the English FA’s move last year to review potential diving situations with a three-man panel. Is this something that should be done more widely? Maybe for all (straight) red cards? Some specific FAs offer a change to appeal subsequent game bans, but don’t change the initial ruling. Continue reading “Monday Musings Week 7 – VAR/Disciplinary”

Friday Night Spotlight – Florida Atlantic v. University of Central Florida

This series will cover the most intriguing game of the Friday night games, it might not be the highest profile game.

Florida Atlantic comes into this game 2-1, with their only loss being to #7 ranked Oklahoma, and wins against Bethune-Cookman and the Air Force Academy. UCF on the other hand, comes in 2-0 after Hurricane Florence canceled their week 3 game against UNC.

FAU come into this game as huge underdogs (two touchdown) to UCF and I don’t know if this is going to be a particularly close game. But there could definitely be an upset narrative with this one, esepcially given the number of high profile upsets from last week. This list includes BYU beating #6 Wisconsin, #24 Oklahoma State beating #17 Boise State, Texas beating #22 USC, San Diego State over #23 Arizona State. The stage was set well for some more college football craziness.

FAU comes into this match having been thrashed by Oklahoma (which is not really that surprising, there’s a reason they have that top-10 little number next to their name), but I think the Air Force win is a reasonable one. This is partly due to the fact that because of the height/waist/weight requirements for the service academies they are forced to play a little differently, but it also means that they tend to have a very unique scheme. Air Force ran their triple-option formation and they had pretty good success at keeping it close, though FAU was able to overcome. The Bethune-Cookman is far less impressive, but a win is a win.

UCF’s schedule truthfully is not really all that impressive. UCF beat UConn (1-2) and South Carolina State (0-2) but they haven’t even really competed against UCF. UConn lost 56-17 to UCF and then lost the next week to Boise State 62-7, they did manage a win against an FCS school, URI, who is ranked in some of the FCS polls. UConn just barely squeaked out a win in a prolific offensive game that doesn’t seem to feature hardly any defence. South Carolina State got annihilated by UCF, having been completely shut out and not really even threatening.

UCF enters this match up averaging an absurd 600+ yards per game and a 67% 3rd down conversion rate. While not quite as prolific, FAU comes into this match still comes in averaging 450+ yards per game and a 3rd down percentage in a little more normal range, at about 37%. UCF is averaging between 7.5-8 yards per attempt (whether rushing or passing) and FAU’s passing yardage is actually slightly higher at 8.3, but their rushing statistics are much lower. I imagine this game will be as close to a defensive battle as UCF will have this season and that’s purely because they will come into the game knowing that they need to provide cover against the passing attack. There should be a substantial difference between the UCF line and the FAU line meaning that with proper aerial threat mitigation, UCF might be ablet to get to the quarterback often, or to mostly stall the FAU run game making them super predictable. UCF’s plan going into most of these games is to just outscore the opponent my a ridiculous margin and so far they’ve done it to great success, and I think that success will continue as long as they stay balanced.

I think this game will provide some excitement for the neutrals who like high-scoring games with a relatively fast pace, this probably isn’t going to be any sort of defensive masterpiece. Just be prepared for what’s to come and sit back and enjoy our the Friday Night Spotlight!

Last Updated: September 17, 2018

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Europa League – Matchday 1 Recap

The first 24 matches have been completed in the Europa League, and they mostly went as expected. But there were still some surprises, and this will highlight some of those results. Here are some of the more shocking results of the first round of matches from around Europe (based on UEFA rankings heading into the match or location). I’ll also be referencing clubs’ chances to win their group or advance, and I am using the great UEFA Europa League Predictions over at FiveThirtyEight for that (so I don’t have to keep linking it in multiple spots). Home teams are listed first:

Slavia Prague 1-0 Bordeaux
Slavia Prague entered their opening match against French club Bordeux as the 153rd ranked club according to UEFA. Bordeaux, the sixth place club from Ligue 1, was ranked 115th. Not a huge discrepancy, and not the largest gap of any of these matches profiled today. Nevertheless, the result was fairly shocking, even if it didn’t have a huge impact on Prague reaching the Round of 32 (27% per FiveThirtyEight) nor winning the group outright (8%). In match 2, Prague faces off against Zenit Saint Petersburg in Russia, the nominal best club in the group (ranked 16th by UEFA), so it remains to be seen if they remain in the top position for much longer.

Spartak Trnava 1-0 Anderlecht
Group D was the only group that saw its top two clubs (according to UEFA rankings) lose, and both winning teams took advantage of a home pitch advantage to do so. The first matchup saw Spartak Trnava, the lone club from Slovakia to make it to the Group Stage, defeat Anderlecht of Belgium. Trnava entered the match ranked 282nd according to UEFA, while Anderlecht was the 33rd ranked team. Anderlecht also joined Europa at the Group Stage, while Trnava had to make it through the play-off round after losing in the third qualifying round of the Champions League (to one of our favorite Small Clubs Red Star Belgrade). Despite the upset, however, Trnava remains the least favored club from the group to advance on to the round of 32, so a strong showing in its Matchday 2 matchup at Fenerbahçe will be important. But the Turkish club will also be looking for a win because… Continue reading “Europa League – Matchday 1 Recap”

2018-2019 Fantasy Premier League, Week 6

2018-2019 Fantasy Premier League, Week 6:

Last week saw a number of unfortunate happenings, Mendy and Wilshere both got hurt. Wilshere’s injury is expected to be a long-term ankle injury while Mendy’s is suspected to be a short term. Arnautovic is still “dealing with his injury” that he’s had most of the season though he led my lineup in points last weekend and I don’t really expect him to sit this week against Chelsea. My lineup also survived the Liverpool/Tottenham derby, and with Liverpool getting Southampton and Tottenham getting Brighton, I’m expecting a return to form with a bang!

Legend: (*) – starting XI, ⇐ – incoming (transfer), ⇒ – outgoing (transfer), ¤ – Captain.

Goalkeepers:

  • *David de Gea (Week 5 points: 3) – I think you can take my write up from most any week and put it here, de Gea is still my #1 keeper. I think he’s one of the best keepers in the Premier League and definitely the most consistent. He didn’t quite manage the clean sheet last week, and I think that will just urge him on even more for this week. Wolves have had some decent showings, but they’ve not shown well against the more prominent sides, I don’t really expect them to be a huge threat in this match either.
  • Jonas Lössl (Week 5 points: 2) – I just don’t see this being a good matchup for the Terriers, and I’m not convinced that this play is worth the risk this week. I need Huddersfield to show me they can at least stay in a game before I’d feel like buying into a risky proposition.

Defenders:

  • Schindler (Week 5 points: 2) – Huddersfield as a whole has been very disappointing this year for my money, and so I think I’m going to give Schindler a week on the bench vs. Leicester. Huddersfield have been really impotent, and while I don’t think they are a top-tier side in this league, I think they should still be performing better.
  • *Monreal (Week 5 points: 2) – Monreal seems like a no-brainer for me this week, Everton got manhandled by West Ham last week, and I think that Arsenal should have no difficulty garnering a win here.
  • *Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Week 5 points: 9) – Wan-Bissaka rewarded me for sticking with him after his poor-point showing performance last week. Palace came away with the win and he certainly helped. I think that Palace has a real chance to walk away from this match with a win also after Newcastle was beaten soundly by Arsenal.
  • Fredericks (Week 5 points: 0) – Fredericks has been in a rut so far, and was actually not even included in the squad for the Hammers last game. This is concerning, as I’ve already used my transfer this week to mitigate the Wilshere issue, he’s in my line up (on the bench) but he could find himself on the proverbial hotseat unless he can at minimum get back on the pitch.
  • *Benjamin Mendy (Week 5 points: 0) – Everything I’ve been able to find about Mendy’s injury is that it’s minor and most expect him to line up in the starting XI next gameday, hopefully that’s true, because I would love to get points outside of Wan-Bissaka from the defense.

Midfielders:

  • ¤*Mo Salah (Week 5 points: 2 [4 if captain]) – Salah should shine in this matchup as Southampton is going to have to go on the offensive to get anything from this game. They have really struggled to score goals and have conceded as many as they’ve scored, I anticipate Southampton to have to push forward and I think that Salah will spearhead a devastating counter attack.
  • *Pogba (Week 5 points: 2) – Pogba seemed to take the week off last week, but so far he’s been pivotal in the games that Manchester United have won. I’m still willing to ride this out, I don’t think that Wolves will be much of a match for the newfound form from United. Smalling and Lindelhof seem to be settling into a decent centerback pairing and I think we’ll continue to see them get better. I haven’t seen anything about whether or not Luke Shaw will be playing this week, if he does, I think that Pogba becomes an even better play because Shaw has been a sniper on crossing.
  • Fred (Week 5 points: 0) – I’m off Fred because his number of appearances for Manchester United have been so inconsistent, I don’t even think it’s a 50-50 chance at this point, he’s been introduced as a time wasting tactic mostly. He’s really only had one meaningful appearance, so, depending on where things go he might be getting shipped off like Wilshere was this week.
  • Jack Wilshere (Week 5 points: 0) – With the news breaking that Wilshere is set to be sidelined until at least Christmas, I have decided to cut ties here and let him go for my transfer this week. It’s unfortunate that he continues to have injuries pile up but I’m not going to carry a long-term injury risk who’s presently unhealthy.
  • *James Milner (Week 5 points: 2) –  Milner has performed well so far this season and the only reason he wasn’t in my line up last week is because of the Tottenham/Liverpool match up, I’m all in for Milner against Southampton.
  • *⇐ Will Hughes (Week 5 points: 2) – The Watford midfielders have been largely responsible for the success of the side with almost all of their goals scored from the midfield. I don’t anticipate this to change as the season goes on and Hughes is averaging more than 4 points per week. This week he gets a Fulham side that was roughed up by City so I see the potential for some great upside here from assists or goals.

Forwards:

  • *Harry Kane (Week 5 points: 2) – Kane and Tottenham get Brighton this week, they (BHA) are only averaging 2 goals allowed per game, but I think this might be a game where Tottenham takes them for a little bit more than that. As usual, I expect Kane to be highly involved in the action.
  • *Marko Arnautovic (Week 5 points: 12) – I will be watching Arnautovic’s injury status up to the start of the game, but as of now I see no reason to exclude him from the lineup, he’s “battled” this issue for most of the season and it hasn’t kept him on the bench, but keep an eye out for a status change just in case.
  • *Joshua King (Week 5 points: 11) – King was in great form against the Foxes, and I think they are a better side than Burnley by a long shot. I look forward to another big performance from the Cherries and maybe a goal (or even multiple).

Conclusion:

Week 1 score: 38 Points 2018-2019 Fantasy Premier Week 1: Recap
Week 2 score: 43 Points 2018-2019 Fantasy Premier Week 2: Recap
Week 3 score: 74 Points 2018-2019 Fantasy Premier Week 3: Recap
Week 4 score: 26 Points 2018-2019 Fantasy Premier Week 4: Recap
Week 5 score: 43 Points 2018-2019 Fantasy Premier Week 5: Recap

Last Updated: September 17, 2018

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Premier League – Week 6 Slate

After the international breaks, here’s a look at the Week 5 slate of games in the Premier League. We’ll update this with results as the games progress. Despite the lack of games last week, we still updated our Weekly Power Rankings, and the number in parenthesis before each team reflects that. Home teams are listed first, and winners will be indicated in bold. In the event of a draw, both teams will be placed in italics.

Matches are only on Saturday and Sunday, and with six “top” clubs playing two matches this week because of Champions and Europa League, there could be some unexpected results this weekend:

Saturday, 15 September 2018
12:30pm BST/7:30am EST
(14) Fulham 1-1 (5) Watford
3pm BST/10:00am EST
(18) Burnley 4-0 (7) AFC Bournemouth
(19) Cardiff City 0-5 (3) Manchester City
(13) Crystal Palace 0-0 (17) Newcastle United
(12) Leicester City 3-1 (20) Huddersfield Town
(1) Liverpool 3-0 (16) Southampton
(6) Manchester United 1-1 (10) Wolverhampton Wanderers  **MATCH OF THE WEEK**
5:30pm BST/12:30pm EST
(11) Brighton & Hove Albion 1-2 (8) Tottenham Hotspur Continue reading “Premier League – Week 6 Slate”

NFL Week 3 Preview

In these weekly previews, I’ll highlight the results that I found shocking from the previous week, as well as preview the game I am most looking forward to from the weekend ahead. As we get later into the season, I may add some other sections to this, including playoff positioning and a look forward to the upcoming draft. 

Surprising Results from Week 2

Based on my personal preseason expectations, three game results stood out to me during the first week of the season:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 – Philadelphia Eagles 21
Tampa Bay makes this list for the second straight week, defeating the defending Super Bowl champions at home. Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to fill in aptly for the suspended Jameis Winston, throwing for over 400 yards (for the second week in a row) and four more touchdowns. He did have an interception this week, adding that blemish to his otherwise impeccable start to his season, in which he has a 151.5 quarterback rating (the max is 158.3) and 96.1 QBR (max of 100). He has led to talk about whether Winston will return as the starting quarterback after his suspension ends next week.

Chicago Bears 24 – Seattle Seahawks 17
I thought that the Bears would be the 4th place team in the NFC North, and that the Seahawks would stumble a bit as they go throw some transitional pains. Both teams have looked much different than even I expected. Kahlil Mack has been a disruptive force in his two games for the Bears, and the Bears are one magical performance from Aaron Rodgers away from being undefeated on the young season. On the other side of the field, the Seahawks have started 0-2, though both of those games have been on the road, and are having some internal strife internal strife on the club that seems out of the norm.

Kansas City Chiefs 42 – Pittsburgh Steelers 37
The Steelers were looking to come back from the tie against the Cleveland Browns during Week 1, and though they got close, they fell to 0-1-1 on the young season. But the star of this game was Patrick Mahomes, the quarterback of the Chiefs who was starting his third game in the NFL. All he did was have more touchdowns (6) than incompletions (5), with a quarterback rating of 154.8 for the game. He became the first quarterback ever to have 10 touchdown passes in the first two games of an NFL season, as well as the most touchdowns in their first three games. (And he did that without throwing a touchdown in his Week 17 start last season).

Week 3 Game of the Week

We’ll try not to jinx the Game of the Week this time around, as our pick for last week – Vikings at Packers – ended in a 29-29 tie, the second tie on the young season. There are no matchups between undefeated clubs, so I’m going to pick the Battle for Los Angeles between the Los Angeles Charges and Los Angeles Rams. The Chargers (1-1) will go “on the road” to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and attempt run their road record to 2-0 this season. Meanwhile, the Rams (2-0) look to stay undefeated and move into pole position in the NFC West, a division that I predicted they would win.

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers already has six touchdowns this season, and started the season off with 424 yards in a loss against the Chiefs. He turned that around last week against the Bills, throwing for 256 yards and three touchdowns (completing 23 of 27 passes). On the other side of the field, star defensive end Joey Bosa remains on the sideline for at least another couple of weeks, which will probably make Rams quarterback Jared Goff sleep a little better leading up to the game. I have the Rams coming out on top in this one, though I expect there to be a lot of points, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rivers throw another 50 times for over 400 yards trying to keep up with the Rams.

Other interesting games are the Saints at the Falcons (trying to keep pace with the undefeated Bucs), the 49ers at the Chiefs (two exciting young quarterbacks in Jimmy G and Patrick Mahomes), and the Patriots at the Lions, if only because its a matchup between Bill Belichick and his former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. The only matchup of the week between winless teams will be between the Giants and Texans in Houston, which will probably be the third tie in three weeks at the rate this season is going. Not a game I’m looking forward to honestly.

Until next time…

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