NFL Odds: Patriots’ Super Bowl Lines Reach Low Point As Playoffs Kick Off

The New England Patriots officially are longshots to win Super Bowl LIV.
Caesars Palace oddsmakers set the Patriots’ odds to win this season’s Super Bowl at +2000 on Tuesday, according to Bleacher Report. Although the Patriots’ latest lines are the sixth best out of the 12 teams that reached the postseason, their Super Bowl odds are the worst of their season to date.

Anyone still believe in the Pats?
(odds via @CaesarsPalace)
— B/R Betting (@br_betting) December 31, 2019

The Patriots will host the Tennessee Titans on Saturday at Gillette Stadium in the Wild Card round. If New England wins, it will travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs in the divisional round.
New England lost four of its last eight games in the regular season, and the road to Super Bowl glory only only will become increasingly difficult as the playoffs progress. It makes sense why oddsmakers are so down on New England’s prospects for success at this point in time.

Celtics Notes: What Boston’s New Year’s Resolutions For 2020 Should Be

Normally, these “Celtics notes” offer additional information and analysis related Boston’s latest game. In this case, we typically would provide insight into the Celtics’ 109-92 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.
However, with Saturday’s victory representing the final game of 2019, we decided to do something different.

It’s been a strange year for the Celtics, to say the least. The infamous 2018-19 campaign ended in disappointment in the spring, with Kyrie Irving leaving town shortly thereafter. This season has been much different, as the Celtics once again look like legitimate contenders in the Eastern Conference. That said, Boston hardly is a perfect product, and tweaks must be made if the Celtics are to be more than just a good story.
So, without further ado, here are three New Year’s resolutions for the Celtics:
(Note: We’re not including things like “win a championship”; rather, we’re focusing on realistic stuff that can be accomplished in the short-term.)
No disrespect to Enes Kanter, Robert Williams, Daniel Theis and Vincent Poirier, but the Celtics might be an All-Star-caliber center (or slightly below that) away from being NBA Finals contenders. Ultimately, what the Celtics have in their frontcourt isn’t good enough. Kanter is skilled in the post and a strong rebounder, but he can’t stretch the floor. Williams has tons of talent, but he can’t stay healthy. Theis is good and very likable, but he’s your classic backup center. As for Poirier, who knows what the Celtics have in “Vinny Sex Finger?” Whether there’s a deal to be made before Feb. 6 trade deadline is anyone’s guess, but the Celtics have the assets (most notably Memphis Grizzlies pick) to make a splash. The biggest hurdle likely will be making the money work, as the Celtics have just over $10 million remaining in cap space — among the factors likely preventing a deal for Kevin Love.
The Celtics have everything they need to be the clear No. 2 team in the East — they just need to prove it. Yes, the Celtics have beaten great teams this season (Milwaukee Bucks, Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors, Denver Nuggets), but many of those victories come with caveats, such as the other team playing on a back-to-back or without their best player. Moreover, Boston has come up short against the teams it needs to distance itself from in the conference. The Celtics are 0-2 against the Philadelphia 76ers, 0-1 against the Indiana Pacers and they lost to the Raptors on Saturday. They also fell to the Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers during a West Coast trip in November. Sure, it’s unfair to expect the Celtics to win all of these games, but they need to win a majority of them if they want to claim the all-important second seed in the East.
This is more of a selfish desire than it is something paramount to the success of the 2019-20 Celtics, but hear us out. Waters, whom Boston selected in the second round of the 2019 NBA Draft, has been electric in the G League. Standing just 5-foot-10, the rookie point guard is averaging 20.6 points, 7.5 assists and the 3.1 rebounds per game for the Maine Red Claws. The LSU product also impressed in both of his games in Boston, albeit in limited minutes. Waters has been so good this season that scouts around the NBA apparently have been imploring their teams to trade for the 21-year-old. While Waters won’t (and shouldn’t) challenge Brad Wanamaker for backup point guard minutes in Boston, he deserves a chance to usurp Carsen Edwards, who has looked lost in his freshman campaign.
Actually, we will leave you with one note related to Saturday’s game. Kanter recorded a career-high six blocks, and his postgame comments deserve some attention.
Take us into 2020, Enes:

“Give me the MVP, baby!” – Enes Kanter after being asked about his career-high six blocks.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 31, 2019

NESN College Hockey Podcast: Interviewing BC Captain David Cotton

With the holiday season in the rear view, the second half of the college hockey season is set to begin.
There weren’t many games over the last week aside from a few tournaments, but there was a lot of excitement. North Dakota remains atop the national rankings, while Cornell rose to No. 2 in this week’s poll with Minnesota State dropping to No. 3 after a 7-2 loss to St. Cloud State.’s Dakota Randall and Patrick McAvoy discussed these changes and their ripple effect on the national polls and gave their Hockey East three stars of the week on this week’s installment of the “NESN College Hockey Podcast.” They also spoke with Boston College captain David Cotton ahead of the Eagles’ big matchup against Vermont and previewed this upcoming week’s slate of Hockey East action on the NESN networks.
All of NESN’s Hockey East coverage is brought to you by Rockland Trust, where EACH relationship matters.
Here’s the full schedule of college hockey action this week on NESN:
Women’s Hockey: Union vs. Harvard, 6 p.m. ET (NESNplus)
Men’s Hockey: Yale vs. New Hampshire, 7 p.m. ET (NESN)
Men’s Hockey: No. 9 UMass vs. No. 7 Denver, 9 p.m. ET (NESNplus)
Saturday – Super Saturday
Men’s Hockey: Vermont vs. No. 5 Boston College, 4:30 p.m. ET (NESN)
Men’s Hockey: Brown vs. New Hampshire, 7 p.m. ET (NESN)
Men’s Hockey: Bentley vs. No. 12 Northeastern, 7 p.m. ET (NESN)
Listen to this week’s episode below, or click here to listen on Apple Podcasts.

Celtics Wrap: Boston Gets Back On Track With 109-92 Victory Over Hornets

The Boston Celtics ended the year in style.
Playing without Jaylen Brown, Boston rebounded from Saturday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors, earning a 109-92 win Tuesday afternoon over the Charlotte Hornets. The Celtics received strong contributions from their best players, as Jayson Tatum (24 points, seven rebounds), Kemba Walker (22 points, seven assists) and Gordon Hayward (21 points, 10 rebounds, six assists) all played well.
Marcus Smart did his Marcus Smart thing, scoring seven points while dishing out seven assists and pulling down five rebounds.

The Celtics also got a big game out of Enes Kanter, who scored 13 points while hauling in 14 rebounds and recording a career-high six blocks.
Forward P.J. Washington led the Hornets with 15 points.
The Celtics improved to 23-8 with the win, while the Hornets dropped to 13-23 with the loss.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Gordon Hayward
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Daniel Theis
The first quarter wasn’t pretty, but it ultimately went the Celtics’ way.
The teams combined for 10 turnovers, with Washington leading the way with three. But it was the play of Tatum (13 points) and Walker (five points) that enabled Boston to rise above the sloppy play.

Easy put down for Tatum Vote NOW to get him to All-Star
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 31, 2019

Kemba for 3⃣
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 31, 2019

The Celtics shot 40.9 percent from the field in the first quarter, while the Hornets checked in with 36.8 percent. Boston was 33.3 percent from beyond the arc, while the Hornets hit 25 percent of their shots from long distance.
Miles Bridges paced Charlotte with four points.
The Celtics took a 50-43 edge into the locker room, but not before the Hornets found their footing.
Bridges and Washington poured in seven and five points, respectively, as the Hornets mostly did whatever they wanted throughout the quarter. However, Hayward, who had been in a slump, scored 10 points (2-of-2 from 3-point range) to help the Celtics maintain their lead.

Hayward knockin down 3⃣
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 31, 2019

Out of the way Hayward coming through
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 31, 2019

The Celtics shot 44.4 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from long distance in the first half. Tatum led all scorers with 13 points, with Hayward (12 points) and Walker (10 points) offering major contributions, as well.
Boston had a 23-20 rebounding advantage over Charlotte.
The Celtics played well in the third quarter, but the Hornets nevertheless managed to keep their deficit at seven points.
Old friend Terry Rozier poured in eight points in the frame, while center Cody Zeller scored eight of his own. Had it not been for five more turnovers, the Hornets would’ve had a great chance at taking the lead.
Alas, Hayward (seven points), Tatum (six) and Walker (seven) kept Boston’s train rolling. Smart also had a strong quarter with five points to go along with one assist and one rebound, while Semi Ojeleye knocked down a big 3-pointer after the Hornets narrowed the gap to four points with just over a minute remaining.

Hayward Tatum
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 31, 2019

Kemba drives to the basket for 2⃣
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 31, 2019

The Celtics committed just three turnovers while racking up four steals. Kanter was one of the Celtics’ top performers through three quarters, scoring nine points while racking up 11 rebounds and four blocks.
Hornets center Bismack Biyombo scored six points while pulling down three rebounds and recording one steal in the frame.
Boston asserted itself in the final quarter, opening up a 17-point lead with 4:39 left in the game and never looking back.
The Celtics got contributions from across the lineup, as Daniel Theis, Grant Williams and Ojeleye were the only players who didn’t score. Kanter was the top performer, punctuating one of his finest games as a Celtic with eight points, six rebounds and two blocks.
Playing in his old gym, Walker led the Celtics down the stretch.

Easy Keep getting your votes in at
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 31, 2019

For the game, Boston shot 45.4 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from long distance.
Great pass, better catch.

Kemba tossing dimes #Celtics
— NBA TV (@NBATV) December 31, 2019

The Celtics will return to the court Friday night when they host the Atlanta Hawks. Tip off at TD Garden is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.

Tom Brady’s Ex-Teammate Mike Vrabel Sees ‘Very Good’ Things From Patriots QB

FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s stats have declined in the 2019 season, but Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel is still impressed with his old teammate.
Vrabel, who played on the Patriots from 2001 to 2008 as a linebacker, was asked what he’s seen from Brady. The Titans play the Patriots on Saturday night in the wild-card round of the playoffs.
“I still see a lot of accuracy,” Vrabel said. “I still see a lot of quick release, decisive throws. Been able to win a lot of football games, get the ball to a lot of different people to get everyone involved. He’s got an uncanny ability to find the guy that’s open, execute the gameplan plays and play-action — very, very good.”
Brady completed 60.8 percent of his passes for 4,057 yards with 24 touchdowns, eight interceptions. 6.6 yards per attempt and an 88 passer rating this season.
Brady had his lowest passer rating and completion percentage since 2013, his fewest yards per attempt since 2002 and the lowest touchdown percentage of his career. The Patriots still went 12-4 despite Brady’s relative struggles.
Brady is coming off one of his worst performances of the season in Week 17. He had one of his best games the week prior in a win over the Buffalo Bills. The Patriots will need more of the latter to beat the Titans, who went 9-7 on the season but finished 7-3 once Ryan Tannehill took over at quarterback.

Brad Marchand Continues Hot Streak As Bruins Fall To Devils On Tuesday

Brad Marchand is having a phenomenal season.
The Boston Bruins left-winger notched his 20th goal of the season as the squad fell to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday afternoon, 3-2 in a shootout.
Marchand has been unbelievable for the Bruins over the last 10 games notching 13 points (two goals, 11 assists).
For more on his recent play, check out the video above from “Bruins Postgame Final,” presented by Rodenhiser Home Services.

NFL Rumors: Browns Could Hire Josh McDaniels For ‘Belichick-Like Role’

The Cleveland Browns need a new head coach. And after firing John Dorsey, they need a new general manager, too.
Josh McDaniels could be the man for both jobs.
That’s what former Dallas Cowboys executive and current NFL Media analyst Gil Brandt believes, at least. Brandt tweeted Tuesday that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Browns hired McDaniels for a “(Bill) Belichick-like role” with “complete control” over Cleveland’s football operation.

Don't be surprised if Browns target Josh McDaniels and hand him Belichick-like role with complete control of the groceries and menu.
— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) December 31, 2019

The Browns already have requested permission to interview McDaniels for their head-coaching vacancy, according to multiple reports. The New England Patriots offensive coordinator also reportedly has received interview requests from the Carolina Panthers and New York Giants.
McDaniels, who was raised in Canton, Ohio, and played college football in the Cleveland area at John Carroll University, reportedly was interested in the Browns job last offseason but never was contacted by the team. Dorsey, Cleveland’s now-former GM, ultimately chose to promote interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens to head coach. Both he and Kitchens were fired this week after a 6-10 season.
Dorsey’s departure increased McDaniels’ chances of becoming the Browns’ new head coach, according to multiple reports. Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio and pro scouting director Dave Ziegler have been mentioned as potential GM candidates.

On the Browns’ structural changes, two things …
• It will be, in part, dependent on the new head coach.
• Haslams have always liked McDaniels. Didn’t interview him last year bc John Dorsey was running the search. And I don’t think McD goes there if he’s reporting to Dorsey.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) December 31, 2019

As I reported on Sunday, #Patriots Josh McDaniels would not have come here with Dorsey as #Browns GM. He'll want Nick Caserio, Dave Ziegler or Scott Pioli (or some combo); Again, Mike McCarthy will interview w/ #Browns Thursday
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) December 31, 2019

McDaniels has spent 12 of the last 15 seasons as New England’s offensive coordinator. He spent 28 games as the Denver Broncos’ head coach in 2009 and 2010 and served as the St. Louis Rams’ OC in 2011. McDaniels agreed to become head coach of the Indianapolis Colts after the 2017 season before reversing course and remaining with the Patriots.
The Patriots will host the Tennessee Titans this Saturday night in the wild-card round of the NFL playoffs.

Ford Final Five Facts: Bruins Are Now 0-6 In Shootouts

The Boston Bruins had the 2-0 lead in the second quarter and quickly lost the lead. The New Jersey Devils tied the game up in the third period, which forced overtime, and lead to the Bruins losing in another shootout. NESN’s Michaela Vernava explains the takeaways from today’s loss in our Ford F-150 Final Five Facts of the game.

Bruins Notes: Bruce Cassidy Questions Effort After Ugly Loss Vs. Devils

It seemed clear when the Bruins’ mindset shifted Tuesday afternoon.
Up 1-0 in the second period against the New Jersey Devils, the Bruins doubled their advantage on a Joakim Nordstrom goal that came following a scramble in front of the net. That was just 4:27 into the middle stanza, and from there the Devils had the Bruins on the ropes seemingly the rest of the game.
Boston ended up squandering its two-goal lead, which forced overtime and eventually a shootout, where the B’s lost 2-1 in six rounds.
The Bruins were cruising (not in a good way) after that second goal, basically packing it in on the defensive end and saying best of luck to goalie Jaroslav Halak, who needed to make 42 saves in the game.
Chalk it up to the lack of regulars in the lineup, sure. With David Krejci, Torey Krug, Charlie McAvoy, Connor Clifton and Danton Heinen (healthy scratch) all out, the likes of Brett Ritchie, Par Lindholmm, David Backes, Jeremy Lauzon and Steven Kampfer got a shot Tuesday afternoon. During some stretches though, the lack of effort, both on a team and individual level, was staggering, and Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy seemed to call that out following the game.
“Part of it is us disappointing,” Cassidy told Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley on “Bruins Overtime Live.” “We get some guys that get to go into the lineup, we’re missing a few people, get an opportunity to step up, contribute to the team, because trust me as a coach you hear about it from players when they don’t get their minutes. And here’s a night tonight where they could’ve pulled on the rope a little more, it didn’t happen for us. At the end of the day I don’t know if it was energy or just playing the right way, we just didn’t manage pucks in the second period, it started to snowball on us and we probably got what we deserved in the end.”
Some issues are preventable, and lack of effort is one of them. Clearly that won’t sit well within the dressing room and on the flight home.
Here are some other notes from Tuesday’s Bruins-Devils game: 
— The Bruins continue to struggle figuring out how to win in shootouts.
Six times this season a shootout has been required, and six times the Bruins have lost. Chris Wagner was the lone Bruin of six to cash in on his opportunity, as all of Boston’s top line forwards, among others, were unable to beat Mackenzie Blackwood.
Of course, shootouts aren’t a thing in the playoffs, so the Bruins essentially just have to weather this storm during the regular season. But they’re leaving points on the table, and with teams like Toronto and Florida heating up, the Bruins can’t get careless in that phase of the game.
— Despite a pedestrian record, Halak did have a solid month of December.
In seven games, the backup netminder went 3-2-2 with a 2.00 goals against average and .930 save percentage, delivering a pair of shutouts, as well.
Though Tuukka Rask is getting a deserved nomination to the All-Star Game, Halak’s effort is not to be overlooked.
— Both Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak had points Tuesday, bringing them each to 59 on the season, good for a share of third place in the NHL.

Bill Belichick Shares Patriots Injury Update Ahead Of Titans Playoff Game

The New England Patriots really could have used a bye week.
Nine Patriots players were listed as questionable ahead of the team’s 27-24 loss to the Miami Dolphins, including wide receiver Julian Edelman, who’s spent nearly the entire season on New England’s injury report with various ailments.
A first-round playoff bye would have given these banged-up players ample time to heal up. Instead, following Sunday’s loss, the Patriots will host the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night in wild-card round.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick offered an update on his team’s injury status during an appearance Monday on WEEI’s “Greg Hill Show.”
“I think we’re in decent shape,” Belichick said. “We’ll see. We didn’t practice (Monday), obviously, and we’ll see how much we’re able to do (Tuesday). But by mid-week — Wednesday or Thursday — we’ll probably have a little bit better handle on where some guys are. But hopefully, we’ll be pretty close to full strength. In terms of playing, I don’t think anybody’s at full strength at this time of year, but that’s the National Football League. I think we’re not bad.”
Cornerback Jason McCourty and safety Terrence Brooks both missed the Dolphins game with groin injuries. The Patriots had perfect attendance at Tuesday’s non-padded walkthrough — the first of three practices they have scheduled for this week.