WHAT WE LEARNED IN NFL WEEK 10: Brilliant Bears and terrific Titans

Nov 11, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Atlanta Falcons strong safety Damontae Kazee (27) tackles Cleveland Browns wide receiver Breshad Perriman (19) during the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Updated 16 November 2018
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WHAT WE LEARNED IN NFL WEEK 10: Brilliant Bears and terrific Titans

We are over halfway in the NFL season and getting a better picture of who is in the running for January’s Playoffs. Arab News looks at what we learned from Week 10 of the world’s greatest gridiron league.

BEARS ON THE RISE
Whisper it, but the Chicago Bears could go a long way this season. It is fair to say, Chi-Town’s football team has been a blotch on the city’s sporting record in recent decades. Since the Bears’ defensive masterclass won them a Super Bowl in 1985, the iconic Bulls in the NBA, the rise and rise of the Blackhawks in ice hockey and the White Sox and Cubs winning a World Series have rendered them the poor cousins of Chicago’s sporting scene. But this current crop have really stepped up this season and, after yet another victory this week, find themselves in the unfamiliar position of leading the NFC North division. They might not get to the Big Game, but this Bears team is finally one the city can be proud of.

PENALTIES DECIDE FORTUNES
One of the big factors in this season’s surprise package LA Rams’ success has been their discipline. Coming into Week 10, the Rams had given away just 45 penalties, an average of five per game — second fewest in the league. So, that they gave away 10 infractions this weekend and nearly lost a tight game with the Seahawks, highlights just how important staying on the referee’s good side is to a team with serious Super Bowl ambitions. You can have a quality quarterback, rapid running backs and titanic tight-ends — if the discipline is not there, it will cost you a run at the Super Bowl.

CLEVELAND BROWNS ARE ALIVE
There is life in Cleveland, at last. Not since 2015 have the Browns won three games in a season. And with 6 games left in the season, they could win a fourth of the season for the first time in four years. Their 28-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons this weekend showed that this Browns team is packed-full of talent, but is lacking the right guidance. General Manager John Dorsey should use the highlights of this match in his search for a new head coach, as the Browns did not look like a 3-1-6 team, but needs the right man to guide it to respectability. Meanwhile, the defeat for the Falcons has put them on the brink of becoming also-rans for the Playoffs, they realistically need to win six — perhaps all seven — of their remaining games.

TITANS SHOW US THEIR WORTH
Tennessee have been hovering on the outskirts of Playoff contention all year, and their shock dismantling of the New England Patriots gave as an insight into what this team is really capable of. Mike Vrabel’s defense were all over Tom Brady from the kick-off and relentlessly pressured him all game. They got lucky at times — Josh Gordon’s uncharacteristic dropped passes helped — and made sure they capitalized when they stopped the Patriots offense. This Titans team burst out of the blocks and rushed past the Patriots early, taking a 17-3 lead. It just shows, take the game to the Patriots early and their defensive frailties can be exploited.


Real Madrid can still win title, claims Santiago Solari

Updated 17 February 2019
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Real Madrid can still win title, claims Santiago Solari

  • Defeat leaves Real in third, nine points behind arch-rivals Barcelona.
  • Girona had not won in the league since November.

LONDON: Santiago Solari insisted Real Madrid could still win the La Liga title despite a shock 2-1 defeat at home to Girona.
The capital club were coming off a five-match winning streak, but were not able to get past their relegation-threatened rivals at the Bernabeu, conceding twice in the second half after taking a 1-0 half-time lead.
Girona had not won in 13 matches in all competitions and were coming off six straight losses. The Catalan club had not won in the league since November and had entered the weekend one point from the relegation zone. So to say this was a shock would be understating the case, Real were on the up, and this was supposed to be an easy win to aid their slim title hopes and add to the momentum of their good 2019 form.
But Solari — clearly a “glass half full” man — claimed Real’s title charge was far from over. Asked if the title was lost, the Argentine, who took over the asked Julen Lopetegui in October, said: “Not at all, not at all, next week there is another match, our rivals, too. All the matches are difficult, as Girona have shown today, we have to keep winning to try to cut the gap.
“This is football and there is always a rival, in this case Girona, who played well.
“In the second half there was a lot of energy. Girona were forceful when they attacked and we lacked clarity. The fatigue is not only physical, it is mental, concentration. We come from a major bustle, many games with good results, and that may have happened to us at the energy level in the second half. It’s likely.”
The surprise defeat dropped Madrid to third place and left them nine points behind Barcelona, who edged Valladolid 1-0 on Saturday with a penalty kick converted by Lionel Messi. The result at the Nou Camp ended a three-game winless run for the Girona neighbors in all competitions.
Madrid had won seven of their last eight matches in all competitions, with the only setback a 1-1 draw at Barca in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals. They had cut Barcelona’s lead from 10 points to six in recent rounds after seeing their arch-rivals go through a slump.
Solari made some changes to the starting lineup, leaving Vinicius Junior and Gareth Bale on the bench after they started midweek in the 2-1 win at Ajax in the Champions League second round clash.
Casemiro opened the scoring with a firm header from near the penalty spot in the 25th minute after a cross by Toni Kroos, and Girona equalized with a penalty kick converted by Cristhian Stuani in the 65th after a handball by Sergio Ramos inside the area.
Girona had a golden chance to equalize about five minutes before the penalty, when Aleix Garcia’s close-range shot went over the crossbar. The visitors moved in front with a 75th-minute header by Portu after Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois initially saved a shot by Anthony Lozano.
Portu had hit the post a few minutes earlier with a booming shot from inside the area.
Solari put on Vinicius Junior and Bale in the second half, but they were unable to save Real. Courtois made it to the area in a last-gasp attempt, but could not get enough on his header, sending the ball just wide of the post.
As if to emphasize the dire day, Ramos was sent off in 90th minute after receiving a second yellow card.