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Colts-Bills: AFC Super Wild Card Weekend preview – NFL.com

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Viewers can watch the broadcast live on CBS/CBS All Access at 1:05 p.m. ET on Saturday as well as stream live on the NFL App and Yahoo Sports app.

The Backstory

The last time Buffalo was this good, Frank Reich suited up in uniform as a Bills backup quarterback for the early-90s squads that went to four-straight Super Bowls. Saturday, the ex-QB and his Colts will attempt to bring misery to Bills Mafia.

The Colts and Bills each made tactical upgrades in the offseason with the idea of getting their squads over the hump to make deep postseason runs.

Indianapolis signed veteran quarterback Philip Rivers, believing the 39-year-old would be an upgrade on Jacoby Brissett. In addition, the Colts shipped a first-round pick to San Francisco for difference-making defender DeForest Buckner to solidify the middle of the defense.

For its part, Buffalo traded a first-round pick for receiver Stefon Diggs with the notion that his uncanny ability to separate from defenders would provide Josh Allen a go-to target and unlock the QB’s talent.

Both teams hit the nail on the head.

Rivers stabilized an Indy offense that moved the ball at will between the 20s, even if it struggled in the red zone for stretches. And Buckner was a game-wrecking sledgehammer, combining with linebacker Darius Leonard to close down the middle of the field and live in the opponents’ backfield.

Meanwhile, all Diggs did was lead the NFL in receptions (127) and receiving yards (1,535). The Bills played pitch-and-catch all over the park like it was a tribute to the K-gun days of yore. Allen led one of the most entertaining offenses in the NFL, as the Bills rolled over opponents down the stretch, winning six consecutive games.

Buffalo is out to snap a six-game playoff losing streak that dates back to 1996. The last time the Bills won a playoff game was Reich’s first season in a different jersey. Buffalo’s six-game playoff losing streak is the third-longest in the NFL, behind only Cincinnati (eight) and Detroit (nine).

In order to snap the streak, the Bills will need to knock off their former player in the process. Reich will be the fifth head coach in the last 30 seasons to face the team that drafted him in the playoffs (first since Ken Whisenhunt versus Atlanta in the 2008 wild-card round).

Each team’s vision for the postseason was built during an uncertain spring, realized during fortuitous marches through the fall, and all led up to a wintry field in Buffalo on Saturday.

Under Pressure

Philip Rivers, quarterback, Colts: After 17 years, Rivers knows this could be his final chance to play in a Super Bowl. The 39-year-old has the most games played (244), passing yards (63,440) and passing TDs (421) among QBs never to win a Super Bowl. Rivers has been open about the potential that the Colts could move on or he could retire following Indy’s postseason run. To put off those decisions, the Colts need the best version of Rivers. The signal-caller generated his eighth-straight season of 4,000-plus pass yards (4,169). In the past eight games, the veteran cut down on the wayward interceptions (four after seven in the first eight games) while the Colts leaned on the ground game. To pull off the upset, Rivers needs to hit on big plays against a defense that is susceptible deep — allowing the 18th-most big plays this season. Most importantly, when Indy moves the ball, Rivers must punch it into the end zone and stop settling for field goals. The Bills rank 28th in the NFL in red-zone defense, so the opportunities should be there. Indy can’t afford to kick field goals against this Buffalo offense.

Josh Allen, quarterback, Bills: Pressure is in the eye of the beholder. Via his own words, Allen wants to atone for his mishaps in last year’s playoff collapse. Since that game, the Bills quarterback has been a marvel to watch. Allen’s growth has seemingly been unprecedented. Under Brian Daboll’s tutelage, Allen increased his completion percentage by more than 10 points (69.2%) while throwing for 4,544 yards with 37 TDs to just 10 INTs. Allen has become a more efficient QB by taking what the defense gives him and allowing his dynamite receiver corps to make plays. That tactic sits juxtaposed to last year’s playoff loss when he was heaving prayers downfield to a fullback. Allen has become a more cerebral QB, who knows what the defense wants to do, gets through his progression fast, and has rarely been in a bad play this year. Combine that above-the-shoulder acumen with his cannon-rocket arm and bulldozing mentality, and you have a complete 2020 QB. Against a Colts defense that ended the season ranked second in the NFL against the run and 20th against the pass, expect Allen to sling it often Saturday. Allen went 4-0 against defenses which finished in the top 10 in total D in 2020 (LAR, LAC, SF, PIT). The Colts finished eighth. Indy, however, struggled down the stretch, allowing 311.4 passing yards per game since Week 13 (31st in NFL). Saturday has the makings of a big day for Allen, who threw 15 TD passes to just two INTs since Week 13. All the stars have aligned for Allen this season. Continuing his Pro Bowl play into the postseason is a must if the Bills are going to get their first playoff win in 25 years.

Matchup to watch

Colts run game vs. Bills defensive front: Streaking to a 6-2 finish to win 11 games, the Colts turned to rookie running back Jonathan Taylor, who joined Hall of Famers Edgerrin James and Marshall Faulk as the only rookies in Colts history with 1,000-plus rushing yards and 10-plus rushing TDs in a season. Taylor is a joy to watch. His quick feet and superior vision allow him to hit holes that would close for other backs. The rookie owns the power to glide through tackles unimpeded and speed to outrace defensive backs. He’s the entire package. Taylor has 70-plus rushing yards in six straight games, culminated by Sunday’s 253-yard performance in a must-win game.

How will Buffalo slow this train?

Sean McDermott’s defense started the season struggling, particularly against the run. Buffalo gave up 135.0 yards per game on the ground through the first 10 weeks. Since their Week 11 bye, however, the Bills’ D has tightened. Buffalo has allowed just 94.0 rushing yards per game and 18.3 points per contest. Pressure is on linebackers Matt Milano, Tremaine Edmunds and A.J. Klein to clean up the middle of the field and ensure Taylor’s jaunts don’t turn into home runs.

The Colts’ game plan for pulling the upset is simple: Run the ball, control the clock, keep Allen, Diggs et al. on the sideline, and slam the ball in for TDs when they reach the red zone. If the Bills can’t stuff the run, the field could tilt, and the pressure on the home team would mount.

Final thought

It wouldn’t be far off to consider 2020 the Year of Josh Allen after the quarterback so thoroughly shut up critics. He didn’t do it alone, however. The Bills brass did a magnificent job buffering the young QB with playmakers who bolster Allen’s strengths. The light, however, will shine the brightest on Allen this Saturday. How he goes, so will Buffalo.

Rivers knows this dynamic all too well. Once part of dominant regular-season teams with the Chargers alongside LaDainian Tomlinson, the veteran signal-caller understands that playoff success is difficult and fleeting.

One QB is in the infantile stage of his playoff career, hoping to take another step. For the other, the end could be near, and he’s battling to put off the end for just a bit longer.

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Canadiens GM says Carey Price had no input in decision to fire coach – Montreal Gazette

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Marc Bergevin says he did consult with head coach Dominique Ducharme, but final decision to fire goalie coach Stéphane Waite was his alone.

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Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin says Carey Price had no input in his decision to fire goalie coach Stéphane Waite and that he didn’t ask the goalie for his opinion.

“The day that I work like that, I’m not the right guy for the job,” Bergevin said during a video conference Wednesday to explain his decision to fire Waite after the second period of Tuesday night’s 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators, in which Price made 26 saves for his first win in his last four games.

Price now has a 6-4-3 record with a 2.96 goals-against average and a .893 save percentage.

Bergevin said he did consult with Dominique Ducharme about firing Waite, but added the new interim head coach didn’t ask for a new goalie coach. Bergevin said the decision was his and that Ducharme supported him.

As for Price, Bergevin said the goalie didn’t learn Waite had been fired until after he had done a video conference with reporters following Tuesday’s game. The Canadiens announced Waite’s firing an hour after the game ended.

“It’s surprising, obviously,” Price said Wednesday when asked about his goalie coach for the last eight years getting fired. “It’s an unfortunate part of the business.”

When asked what went wrong as far as working with Waite, Price said: “It’s an evolution of maybe small things that have led up to this point.”

When asked if he could pinpoint those small things and whether they were technical or mental aspects, Price said: “Both.”

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Price is a man of very few words and that was the case again Wednesday. When it was mentioned to Price that his answers in interviews can give some people the perception he doesn’t care enough about what he’s doing, Price said: “It doesn’t matter to me anymore.”

Waite’s firing comes a week after head coach Claude Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller were both fired.

“It’s just about moving forward,” Price said about all the coaching changes. “I’m grateful for the time that I spent with Steph. He’s been a hard-working, dedicated goalie coach and I really appreciate all that work that he’s done with us and right now it’s a quick turnaround. We don’t have a lot of time to dwell on things. So it’s all about regrouping and getting the work done and start bonding quickly.”

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Now it will be Sean Burke’s job to get Price back on track as the Canadiens’ new “director of goaltending.” But first Burke will have to observe a 14-day COVID-19 quarantine after arriving in Montreal from his home in Arizona. In the meantime, Price will work with Marco Marciano, the goalie coach for the AHL’s Laval Rocket.

“He’s a very enthusiastic guy,” Price said after working with Marciano at practice Wednesday. “He brings a lot of energy and it’s going to be fun.”

Not surprisingly, Bergevin said Waite took his firing hard, adding his work as a goalie coach is his passion.

“It wasn’t easy for him, not at all,” Bergevin said.

Price said he spoke with Waite Tuesday night after the firing was announced.

“Obviously, we’re thankful for our time spent together and I’m very grateful for his hard work,” Price said.

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

  1. Montreal Canadiens goalie coach Stéphane Waite talks with Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price during a workout at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on July 21, 2020.

    Stu Cowan: Survivor 2021 — Canadiens edition

  2. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin says he still believes Carey Price is one of the best goalies in the NHL despite having a 2.96 goals-against average and a .893 save percentage.

    Canadiens Notebook: GM went with ‘gut feeling’ to fire Stéphane Waite

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Which Countries are Experiencing a Boom to Their Gaming Industries?

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gaming

Which countries around the globe are becoming popular destinations for gaming? They might not be quite where you think! Find out more here!

When we speak of the countries that are leading the way in game development, you will often see the same names coming up over and over. For example, Japan and the US are market leaders in game development and that is unlikely to change any time soon. However, we are also seeing some other countries experience a boom that could make the industry a more level playing field overall.

Spain

 

The Spanish gaming sector is rapidly increasing. In cities like Valencia, many companies are beginning to open shop and develop new and innovative titles for their audiences. This is proving to be a popular destination for new start ups for several reasons.

Spain has a much lower cost of living than other countries, even in some of the bigger cities like Madrid. This means that people are able to operate businesses here and enjoy a good quality of living all at the same time. Even the more expensive cities such as Barcelona can still be fantastic choices for the right people.

Start ups can choose to target English or Spanish-speaking European markets, but there is also the potential to appeal to the markets in Latin America. With new opportunities constantly emerging in the Spanish markets, this is a great place to watch the gaming industry grow.

Finland

Finland is another country that has proved that it has a fantastic market for gaming that is only going to be set to grow. The capital of Helsinki is bustling with start ups and plenty of opportunities are arising for people who want to make a living in this sector.

Gaming has been a long-standing tradition in Finland for years so it is unsurprising that they have seen a move towards the mobile market flourish. Though there have been many changes to the models of paid mobile gaming over the years – first with a one-payment download and then with the rise of the free-to-play model – the Finns have managed to stay with the trends while innovating and pushing even further.

In particular, the Finnish iGaming industry is booming and is only set to increase. Anyone who wants a clear picture of what the Finns are able to put out in terms of gaming expertise need only turn to the iGaming industry to see their power.

Singapore

The Asian gaming market is massive. Though big countries like China, Japan, and South Korea dominate the market, there is a lot of interest in some of the other smaller markets, such as that surrounding the city-state of Singapore.

eSports are huge across Asia and there is a lot of development being put forward to help establish teams and game developers across various countries. This is certainly true in Singapore where a lot of money has already been invested. The aim here is to set up not just credible game developers that can trade on an international level, but also several high-ranking eSports teams that can play in many of the big tournaments around the world.

These tournaments include ones within individual sports, such as the various Counter Strike: Global Offensive tournaments that take place, but also tournaments that would allow competitors to represent Singapore itself in competition. For example, the Southeast Asian Games added eSports to the sports included in the Southeast Asian Games. There have also been several discussions as to whether or not eSports should be added to the Olympics. With so many opportunities to compete arising, it is unsurprising that we are seeing investment pouring into places like Singapore in response.

A Global World of Gaming

It is clear that you no longer have to be based in one of the top countries for gaming in the world to be able to have any degree of success in creating games. There are so many opportunities for game developers all over. With high-speed internet and cloud solutions offering connectivity like never before, we are able to come together and work on games even if we were situated in remote destinations all over the world.

This high level of ease of interaction is likely to lead to some amazing opportunities for gaming in the future. If you are searching for some of the biggest and most exciting launches in the future, you are just as likely to find them emerging from a small developer as you are from one of the major players.

The world of gaming is definitely shifting, and it makes it an incredibly exciting place to keep up with. If you are interested in the gaming markets, make sure you check out what is happening in some of the smaller players as well as the big ones. We can never tell where the next internet-breaking game is going to come from!

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Stu Cowan: Survivor 2021 — Canadiens edition – Montreal Gazette

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Goalie coach Stéphane Waite is the latest contestant to get voted off Habs Island by GM Marc Bergevin and the timing was very puzzling.

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Welcome to the Habs Survivor reality-TV show.

Maybe the Canadiens can come out with a board version of the game, so fans can play while stuck at home during the COVID-19 curfew and try to predict who will get voted off Habs Island next.

My money would be on Luke Richardson, the only coach who hasn’t been fired during the last week. Or maybe the Zamboni driver at the Bell Centre.

You know it won’t be Carey Price being told to give back his torch. The goalie has basically become bigger than the team with his massive eight-year, US$84-million contract that has five more seasons left after this one and includes a full no-movement clause. The goalie has immunity on Habs Island unless he decides he wants to leave.

Goalie coach Stéphane Waite didn’t have immunity and became the latest person to be voted off Habs Island by GM Marc Bergevin. The decision came one week after head coach Claude Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller were both told to pack their things and leave.

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The bizarre timing of Waite’s firing made for some very interesting reality-TV speculation. Bergevin decided to fire Waite after the second period of the Canadiens’ 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators Tuesday night at the Bell Centre. Maybe Bergevin didn’t like the goal Price gave up late in the second period, which he probably should have stopped.

Waite, who had been with the Canadiens for eight years, was told to pack his stuff and leave the Bell Centre during the third period. The Canadiens didn’t announce the news until an hour after the game ended and the post-game video conferences, which included Price and new head coach Dominique Ducharme, were over.

What should have been a good-news day for the Canadiens on Wednesday — with the focus on Ducharme getting his first NHL win as a head coach, the team playing better defence and Price making 26 saves after working one-on-one with Waite for a few days to find his game — suddenly became all about the goalie coach and what the heck happened.

“Just to be clear, nothing happened,” Bergevin said when he held a video conference Wednesday morning. “There was no fight, argument, none of that. I think they had a good relationship. I made the decision for the organization, for the team, for the players. That’s my job and I take full responsibility to making that change today.”

Price has struggled this season with a 6-4-3 record, a 2.96 goals-against average and a .893 save percentage. Jake Allen, who is 4-2-2 with a 2.12 GAA and a .929 SP, deserved to start Tuesday, but Ducharme decided to go with the $84-Million Man and Price played well. If Price had let in five goals in the first two periods, the timing for the firing of Waite might have made sense.

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The other thing that makes the timing strange is that Sean Burke, who has been named the new director of goaltending, lives in Arizona and will have to go through a 14-day COVID-19 quarantine before he can even start working on the ice with Price. In the meantime, Laval Rocket goalie coach Marco Marciano will work with Price and Allen.

If Price had played better this season, Julien, Muller and Waite might still all be on Habs Island, but Bergevin bristled when that suggestion was made.

“No, please don’t go there at all,” the GM said. “I’m not here to protect Carey, but I’m not here to blame him, either. … You win as a team, you lose as a team. So please don’t go there at all.”

Bergevin was also asked if Price should assume more accountability for his performance.

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“Where do you see there’s no accountability here?” Bergevin asked, obviously not appreciating the question. “He has accountability. Every player, if it’s Carey, if it’s Ben Chiarot, Shea Weber, Phil Danault, Brendan Gallagher, they’re all responsible for their performance. That’s on them. Every one of them. My job is to provide them the best tools I can for them to have success. But … it’s on the players to perform and if they don’t perform then that’s where I come in and try to help.

“I had a talk with Carey recently and he knows that he’s not on top … he knows,” Bergevin added. “It might not come across when he talks to you guys that he cares, but he knows. He knows that his game is not where it should be. He knows more than anybody else, even me. So that’s not an issue.”

Now that there’s one less scapegoat, Price’s play will become a bigger issue for the Canadiens.

Outwit, outplay, outlast is the motto for the Survivor TV series. Bergevin has been able to last nine seasons as GM of the Canadiens.

If they miss the playoffs this year, you have to think Geoff Molson will be the one voting Bergevin off Habs Island.

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

  1. “It’s surprising, obviously,

    Canadiens GM says Carey Price had no input in decision to fire coach

  2. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin says he still believes Carey Price is one of the best goalies in the NHL despite having a 2.96 goals-against average and a .893 save percentage.

    Canadiens Notebook: GM went with ‘gut feeling’ to fire Stéphane Waite

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

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