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Super Bowl LIV Expert picks and predictions

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The day is here. The game is upon us.

With the Kansas City Chiefs set to face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV, Sportsnet’s expert panel is ready to weigh in on who will win the day, and who will leave Miami empty-handed.

The panel includes editors Geoff Lowe and Craig Battle, fantasy analyst Andy McNamara, and staff writers Donnovan Bennett and Emily Sadler.

So who will hoist the Lombardi Trophy?

Andy McNamara
The Pick:
San Francisco 49ers
The Score: 24–21
Super Bowl MVP: Raheem Mostert

The Breakdown: The only way the 49ers pull this off is if they keep it low scoring. If Jimmy G has to come back from behind and play catch-up with Patrick Mahomes then the Chiefs will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. What’s interesting is that Kansas City essentially got a tune-up for San Francisco’s run-first offence in defeating the Derrick Henry–led Tennessee Titans. They rose to that occasion by limiting the bulldozer to 69 yards on the ground and forced Ryan Tannehill to go to the air 31 times.

San Francisco needs to find a way to make its late-season stud running back Raheem Mostert not just relevant, but dominant. The last running back to win a Super Bowl MVP was Denver’s Terrell Davis all the way back at SB XXXII, and I feel Mostert is going to have to play at an MVP level for his team to limit the time KC’s dynamic offence is on the field.

In the head-coach chess match, I’m giving the edge to Kyle Shanahan’s family-legacy zone-read offensive strategy that’s a modernized variation of his father Mike’s when he won back-to-back Super Bowls with the Broncos. Shanahan’s in-game creativity and adjustments are some of the best in the NFL, and if Andy Reid’s old nemesis — clock management — comes knocking, then I’ll bet on San Francisco.

The 49ers win it by a field goal.

Geoff Lowe
The Pick:
Kansas City Chiefs
The Score: 35-31
Super Bowl MVP: Patrick Mahomes

The Breakdown: The Chiefs flip their playoff script, charging out to an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter instead of digging themselves a hole. Rather than abandon the rushing game, though, Shanahan doubles down and the 49ers put together one of those run-only drives to get San Francisco back into the game as the Niners defence shuts out K.C. in the second quarter. A Robbie Gould field goal pulls the 49ers within four as the first half closes, 14-10 Chiefs.

Then both teams go off in the third.

Mahomes leads the Chiefs to quick back-to-back third-quarter touchdown drives, and then Shanahan finally unleashes Playoff Garoppolo with his team down 28-10. The 49ers rally behind their quarterback, scoring three straight touchdowns and 21 unanswered points as San Fran’s defence stifles Mahomes and Co. for what amounts to more than a full quarter.

Down 31-28 with only a few minutes to go in the game, Mahomes gets a shot to lead the Chiefs to victory – and he does just that. No. 15 finds Travis Kelce in the back of the end zone with less than a minute left in the game. Jimmy G gets a shot at his own game-winning drive, but ultimately falls short and it rains red and white confetti in Miami as the Chiefs lift the Lombardi for the first time since January 1970.

Emily Sadler
The Pick:
Kansas City Chiefs
The Score: 47-41
Super Bowl MVP: Patrick Mahomes

The Breakdown: Down 12-0 halfway through the first quarter, Kansas City fans start fretting that the slow-starting Chiefs are digging themselves a hole too big to climb out of… but then they remember they’ve got Mahomes. The king of the comeback does just that, and while Garoppolo can’t keep up in what becomes an offensive shootout, he doesn’t have to — Mostert keeps the Chiefs’ defence busy trying to figure out how to shut him down like they did Henry two weeks prior.

The result is a high-scoring — actually, the highest-scoring — Super Bowl that comes down to a single score. (After last year’s low-scoring, defensive dud, the football gods owe us this one, right?)

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Donnovan Bennett
The Pick:
Kansas City Chiefs
The Score: 31–30
Super Bowl MVP: Patrick Mahomes

The Breakdown: The Chiefs have a clean bill of health with all 53 players on the roster already proclaimed healthy to play on Sunday. That roster, specifically on offence, is scary.

“It almost looks like they got their roster from the Olympic relay team and threw them all on the football field,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said when describing the Chiefs’ offence.

Never before have we seen an offence with this amount of speed and a quarterback with this kind of arm talent paired with a play caller like Andy Reid. The Niners’ defence is great, but the New Orleans Saints put up 46 points on them. If the Chiefs do anything close to that number, they’ll win going away.

It seems like we are witnessing the beginning of the Mahomes era. Mahomes has eight TDs and zero interceptions in one of the best post-seasons we’ve ever seen. As we start a new decade, it seems only fitting that Mahomes will bookmark it by becoming the youngest player in NFL history to win the Super Bowl and MVP.

Craig Battle
The Pick:
San Francisco 49ers
The Score: 27–24
Super Bowl MVP: Jimmy Garoppolo

The Breakdown: No, I don’t feel confident about this. It’s just that no matter how many times I tried to type out “Kansas City,” I couldn’t quite do it. And yes, I know that Garoppolo has thrown for only 208 yards this post-season, but I have a feeling — “Ooh,” you say, “a feeling” — that’s going to change on Sunday. He threw for almost 4,000 yards on a 102 QB rating in the regular season, so we’re not talking Trent Dilfer or Rex Grossman here. Garoppolo can pass — he just hasn’t needed to during these playoffs.

Furthermore, Shanahan is a creative, inventive coach, and you know he’s going to have some new looks to throw at the Kansas City defence, creating room and opportunity for his QB to shine when the Chiefs adjust to make life hard on Mostert and the running game.

Finally, speaking of defences, the 49ers ranked second on Football Outsiders’ defensive efficiency rankings in 2019. Kansas City was way down the list at 14th.

What’s that old adage about defence and championships, again?

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Thousands of tickets still available for world junior hockey tournament in Edmonton – CBC Sports

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Odd summer timing and an ongoing sexual assault scandal at Hockey Canada could be the reason thousands of tickets to the world junior championship are still available on the eve of the tournament, says an Edmonton professor.

Prof. Dan Mason, who teaches in the faculty of kinesiology, sport, and recreation at the University of Alberta, said when Canada hosts, there are usually so many fans who want to see the home team take the ice that they are willing to buy Hockey Canada’s packaged games that include teams that are not Canadian.

“So Latvia vs. Slovakia, for example, those games will be sold out as well because in order to get the tickets to watch Canada play, you have to buy a package that includes some of the other games,” he said on Friday.

“The fact that there are still Team Canada tickets available, that tells you the demand is much lower than it usually is for this kind of event.”

WATCH l World junior tournament to go ahead amidst Hockey Canada controversy:

World junior hockey tournament to go ahead amidst Hockey Canada controversy

7 hours ago

Duration 2:07

Ticket sales for the World Junior Hockey Championships in Edmonton are below expectations as the tournament kicks of this week in the shadow of an ongoing sexual assault scandal at Hockey Canada.

The tournament runs from Aug. 9-20 at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

The initial 2022 championship in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta., was called off Dec. 29 after just four days because of rising COVID-19 cases among players and officials, which forced game forfeitures.

The 10-country tournament will be minus Russia, barred from participating by the International Ice Hockey Federation because of that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Holiday tradition

Around 1,500 tickets are still available for purchase on Ticketmaster to the first game between Czech Republic and Slovakia on Tuesday. About 1,300 tickets are available for the next day when Canada takes on Latvia. About 1,500 seats for the final game are also available with hundreds of other tickets to watch the 11-day tournament.

This time of year, you probably already had plans to go to the lake … or do something summer-related.— Edmonton professor Dan Mason on poor ticket sales for an August world juniors

Mason said the timing of the games could be why interest is so low. The tournament typically runs over the Christmas holidays.

“Over the past 30 years or so, TSN has built the world juniors into this holiday event that people partake in,” he said.

“I watch it with my family over the [Christmas] break though so it’s kind of become part of our holiday tradition.

“This time of year, you probably already had plans to go to the lake, go to the mountains or do something summer-related. I don’t think we’re willing to give up those plans to watch hockey.”

Many people could also be waiting for a former judge on the Supreme Court of Canada to begin independently reviewing Hockey Canada’s governance amid calls for a change of leadership.

The review comes after members of the 2018 world junior team were accused of a group sexual assault after a gala event, and after Hockey Canada reached a settlement.

“I think there’s people who weren’t sure if they would go or not, and maybe deciding not to go because of that,” Mason said.

The CEO of Explore Edmonton, which promotes tourism in the Alberta capital, said in an email the marketing organization paused its promotion of the games in response to the allegations.

“As the host city for the upcoming tournament, we continue to have discussions with Hockey Canada officials about their plans to address the need for change,” said Traci Bednard.

Mason said inflation and less disposable income could be other factors working against the tournament.

“Canada may be more focused on that player development piece than trying to sort of make money off of a tournament being held in the summer,” he said.

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Nets owner Tsai backs coach, GM amid reported Durant standoff – theScore

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Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai has pledged his support of the coaching staff and front office after Kevin Durant reportedly demanded that the team trade him or fire head coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks

Tsai took to Twitter on Monday, saying, “Our front office and coaching staff have my support. We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.”

Durant’s ultimatum is apparently a result of his lack of faith in the team’s direction, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported earlier Monday. The 33-year-old is firm in his stance, Charania adds.

The former MVP requested a trade at the end of June following a disappointing season that ended in a first-round exit. Little was known at the time about his reasons for the decision.

The Nets have reportedly had discussions with nearly every team in the league in hopes of getting a historic package of players and draft picks in return for Durant. Brooklyn reportedly proposed a trade with the Toronto Raptors involving Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes and talked about a deal with the Boston Celtics that would include star Jaylen Brown.

The Raptors, Celtics, and Miami Heat are seen as the most likely trade destinations for Durant, sources told Charania.

The Nets aim to take “every last asset” from their trade partner in any deal for Durant, according to Charania.

Nash, a Hall of Fame point guard, has been at the helm of the Nets for two seasons. It is his first job in professional coaching. Meanwhile, Marks has held the position of general manager since 2016 after being an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs.

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Watch live for free: Leylah Fernandez vs. Storm Sanders at National Bank Open – Sportsnet.ca

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Update: This stream has ended.

Canadian Leylah Fernandez begins her quest for her first National Bank Open title against qualifier Storm Sanders of Australia, under the lights in Toronto.

Fernandez, still only 19, is returning to action for the first time since suffering a fracture in her foot during the quarterfinals of the French Open on May 31.

The Laval native is the top-ranked Canadian on the WTA Tour after a headline-making run to the U.S. Open final last year.

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