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ESPN The Magazine 10.27.14

ESPN The Magazine is for the NEXT generation of sports fans who want to stay on top of the athletes, teams, topics and upcoming events in their own sports world. The Magazine celebrates not only sports, but the cultures and lifestyles that are an integral part of them - all with ESPN's unique personality and authority.

Country:
United States
Language:
English
Publisher:
ESPN Magazine LLC
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IN THIS ISSUE

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No, these Chivas USA players aren’t sleeping on the job, they’re seeking inner peace. With waves of negative energy surrounding the MLS club, a little chakra-centering yoga seems fit. The team has announced it will go dark for at least two years to rebrand itself, build a new stadium and find a new owner. In February, the league bought out frugal owner Jorge Vergara after discrimination lawsuits were brought against the club. So after a recent practice at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, the team stretched out in a Savasana (corpse pose) to end a soccer-focused yoga class. The weekly sessions with yogi Lindsay Smith are mandatory for a minimum of 30 minutes, and players like goalie Dan Kennedy (third row up, second from left) welcome the calm. “Over…

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Sure, LeBron James is flying high now, but he was positively radioactive in Cleveland not so long ago. Back in 2010, we asked Marvel to imagine his decision as a comic book cover, and, inspired by a 1967 image of Peter Parker ditching Spider-Man (near right), it lit on a gloomy vision of a hardened star (center). Fast-forward to April 2014: Parker makes a comeback from another hiatus (far right) three months before LeBron’s homecoming. So when we went back to Marvel for another image, it knew just how to amaze. Art by Miguel Sepulveda & Javier Mena (via Marvel Custom Solutions)…

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WHO Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval WHAT A dive into the Pirates’ dugout to catch a Russell Martin pop fly WHEN Oct. 1, NL wild-card game, seventh inning WHERE PNC Park, Pittsburgh The Kung Fu Panda’s over-the-top skills, dormant during the Giants’ September fade, came alive as soon as the calendar turned to October, helping to put an end to the Pirates’ season. But what else is new? In 27 career playoff games entering the 2014 NLCS, the 2012 World Series MVP was hitting .311 with an .898 OPS. But while Sandoval always seems to deliver when the Giants need him the most, the question will soon be: Who wants him the most? The 28-year-old switch-hitter will be a free agent after the season, and rumor has it he’ll command a five-year, $100 million deal. Skadoosh!…

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hardware in store

Everyone knows the Heisman Trophy loves QBs-they've snapped up seven of the past eight-so your 2014 winner will surely be Marcus Mariota. Wait, wait: Some Heisman winners come out of nowhere. Winston? Manziel? RG3? All relative unknowns before their trophy-winning campaigns. So dark-horse-turned-front-runner Dak Prescott is the guy. Then again, Heisman voters occasionally reward big-time receivers. (Very occasionally: The last wide receiver to win was Desmond Howard in 1991, and he returned kicks too.) So step right up, Amari Cooper. There's plenty of football left, but these three top my Heisman forecast (3-1, 3-1 and 4-1 odds to win, respectively). Can't live with just one prediction? Here are five more to size up in the season's second half. -PHIL STEELE 1 DAVEY O’BRIEN AWARD: TOP QUARTERBACK Mariota isn’t letting a patchwork O-line…

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cold hard facts

129 Number of interceptions thrown through Week 5. That’s 16 percent lower than the average INTs the past four seasons over the same span. After throwing 15 picks in 2012, Rivers has just 13 since the beginning of last season, the fourth fewest among QBs with at least 20 starts over that span. 65 Leaguewide Total QBR of quarterbacks in the shotgun or pistol this season. That’s 30 percent higher than when they’re under center and the best figure through five weeks since ESPN Stats & Information began tracking the stat in 2006. Rivers’ shotgun/pistol QBR is a cool 89.6, second in the NFL. 3.03 TD-to-INT ratio of quarterbacks on short passes (thrown five yards or less) in Weeks 1-5 of the 2013 and ’14 seasons. That’s 58 percent better than the TD-to-INT ratio on…

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shotgun start

When Philip Rivers gets excited, he talks the way he plays. The words come fast, coupled with hand gestures and sound effects. So what has Rivers all fired up? The quick-strike offenses that have taken over the NFL-and turned the San Diego QB into an MVP candidate. “There's more empty backfield, more shotgun, more deet, deet, deet,” he says. “Maybe the game is changing.” Oh, it's changing, one completion at a time. Here's how. -KEVIN SEIFERT 1. THROWING BOLTS NFL QBs had connected on 63.7 percent of their passes through Week 5, up from 60.9 in 2011 and the highest rate since ’01. In fact, Weeks 3 and 4 this season featured the two best collective completion percentages ever. Rivers’ success is largely due to his uptick in accuracy under second-year coach…

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