The Pulse: Chicago’s Draft Stunner, LeBron’s Fear, and Rodgers’ Last Game?

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Good morning! Go ahead and revisit Nyheim Hines’ kick return video.


Crossing

Forget the playoff seeding for a second because a more surprising No. 1 emerged on Sunday. The Chicago Bears will be the pick of the 2023 NFL Draft. Some fascinating layers here:

  • The Texans screwed it up. One loss away from having their choice of quarterback (hi, Bryce Young) and they go out and beat the Colts by two-point conversion. So much for fuel. Then Houston fired Lovie Smith (former Bears coach, I might add), the team’s second direct head coach, who only lasted a year. Healthy.
  • What will the bears do? They have a promising passer in 23-year-old Fields, who they traded for in 2021. Do they still take a new QB? Trade the pick to a quarterback-needy team? Or take the best defenseman (Will Anderson, linebacker from Alabama?) and call it a day?

Adam Jahns writes about young general manager Ryan Poles’ unexpected opportunity to change the franchise forever. Jon Greenberg insists that the bears weren’t the poorly that year but snagged her first No. 1 pick since 1947. Remarkably, both writers expect Chicago to build around Fields. It’s a good time to be a Bears fan. Serious.

Check out the full draft order here and get ready for mock draft season.


playoff push

Packer, miss Pats

Oh yes, there is still important football happenings. Fast:

Check out the full seeding and playoff matchups here. We also have early odds and totals. Next weekend will be fun.

hp If you missed Nyheim Hines running back the opening jab – Buffalo’s first game since Damar Hamlin’s injury – watch the video here and take a handkerchief. With this, the screenwriters of the NFL have outdone themselves. Josh Allen called the moment “bone cold”.


New things

Vamos!

It feels like a miss, doesn’t it? The Athletic, which has the best football coverage in the world, had no dedicated writers covering FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, two of the most important clubs.

Today the Miss becomes a brand. Four writers and a host of editors officially begin extended coverage of Spanish football, which you can read all about here.

I’d like to highlight one of their debut bangers: how Real and Barca, bitter enemies on the pitch, now need each other to survive.

  • It all has to do with the political war over the Super League (remember that?) who may or may not be dead. These rivals’ clashes have included heads of state, yet they have an uneasy – but solid – marriage to take on UEFA and even La Liga.

No drama is sharper than European football. Also, don’t miss Pol Ballús’ story about Lionel Messi, who is still a political pawn from Barca 17 months after his departure.


National Championship

Can TCU really do that?

Today’s national title game feels dangerous. All evidence points to a handy victory for Georgia. It’s easy to guess that the early game will be tight before the Bulldogs’ talent and depth finally shove TCU in the dirt.

Part of the brain balks at such a sure thing. Seth Emerson described the Horned Frogs as playing for house money. They shouldn’t be here, so they have nothing to lose. Dangerous.

A few points:

  • TCU thrives on dumb games. The Frogs have played seven one-possession games, and their only loss likely would have been a win had a game been called differently. Sonny Dykes’ team is used to moments when dots fly everywhere. They showed in the semifinals that they can hurl nonsense at a big dog program and win.
  • Stetson Bennett always matters for Georgia. The former walk-on can end his picture-perfect career with a win, but he was shaky early in the Bulldogs semifinals (albeit fantastic late on) and against a few weaker opponents. Defense will be good, possibly great. Bennett is the joker.

Bruce Feldman got a nice look at how TCU’s Air Raid honors the late Mike Leach. Meanwhile, Andy Staples realizes that Georgia has become the monster Nick Saban feared.

Pulse selection: This feels like either a Georgia blowout or a narrow TCU win. As fun as a 44-42 Horned Frog Barnburner sounds, I’m a weak man and can’t commit myself. Georgia 34, TCU 16.


pulse picks

The Sean McVay saga continues. Stay up to date with today’s changes in NFL coaching on our live blog.

LeBron James is unhappy with the state of the Lakers, reports Sam Amick. Their brief conversation is worth checking out.

the athlete‘s baseball writers reveal their 2023 Hall of Fame ballots. We love transparency.

Do the Nuggets have enough talent to win this year’s title? “Probably,” says Nikola Jokic.

White Sox pitcher Liam Hendriks announced he is beginning treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Seth Davis summarizes college basketball’s chaotic week through the lens of his Top 25, where a deserved Kansas is No. 1.

(Photo: Daniel Bartel / USA Today)

https://theathletic.com/4070864/2023/01/09/the-pulse-bears-nfl-draft-lebron-james-aaron-rodgers/ The Pulse: Chicago’s Draft Stunner, LeBron’s Fear, and Rodgers’ Last Game?

Russell Falcon

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