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ESPN The Magazine

ESPN The Magazine 02.05.18

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.

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3 min.
straight talk

SC6 co-host Jemele Hill on getting real with Maya Moore in a sit-down: Moore just wants to talk, to be asked questions. “I mean, we really never get to talk about this,” she said, with a mixture of disappointment and clarity. Moore had just been asked about the delicate balance that black women sometimes must strike between strength and vulnerability. It’s a conversation she has had with friends but a topic she is rarely asked about. For example, to be called a “strong black woman” is by no means an insult. It just comes with some asterisks. The strength label sometimes can take away the humanity of black women and thus our vulnerability. Moore embraces all the complexities of being a black woman in today’s times, asterisks and all. MORE ON…

4 min.
the numbers

As college basketball moves deeper into conference play, Western Kentucky, 5–0 in Conference USA through Jan. 17, is popping into projected brackets. Which is great news if you love March upsets—not just because the Hilltoppers are good enough to take on top seeds but also because they are volatile enough to have beaten Purdue and SMU yet lost to Ohio and Belmont. Inconsistency pays for underdogs. After all, if a team such as WKU makes the NCAA tournament, nobody will care if it loses its opening game by 1 or 51. So it needs to amp up the variability of its play, taking extra chances to boost its odds of eking out a win. Kevin Hutson and Elizabeth Bouzarth, math professors at Furman and longtime partners on ESPN’s Giant Killers project,…

8 min.
fatal distractions

The Patriots’ dynasty began with a yawn. In 2002, a few hours before kickoff at Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans, Tom Brady wandered off inside the Superdome and found a quiet, isolated area, where the Patriots quarterback nodded off for perhaps the most legendary nap in sports history. Out cold for almost two hours, Brady barely woke up in time for warm-ups before rallying to beat the Rams 20-17 and claim the first of New England’s five Lombardi trophies. Since then, the Patriots have continued to sleep their way to the top. Naps are now a regular part of the game-day schedule in New England, where the team has installed sleep rooms at its practice facilities so players can catch up on their Z’s. Brady has become an outspoken advocate…

1 min.
bad beats

PATRIOTS LINEBACKER ELANDON ROBERTS The Patriots’ defense has some definite soft spots that the Eagles can expose. Roberts, whom we rated 69th of 87 eligible linebackers, is the team’s fourth-leading tackler, but he allowed a passer rating of 144.3 when targeted this season, more than 30 points higher than the league average. How the Eagles can attack Roberts: The Eagles run more run/pass options than anybody else in football, even since Carson Wentz got hurt and Nick Foles stepped in at quarterback. They should stick with RPOs and focus on Roberts, who’ll have a difficult time if the Eagles toggle between handoffs to Jay Ajayi or LeGarrette Blount and quick routes to tight end Zach Ertz near Roberts’ space. EAGLES QUARTERBACK NICK FOLES Wait, didn’t Foles just have a historic NFC title game? No matter—his glaring…

2 min.
don’t bet against the lines

PATRIOTS OFFENSE RUN-BLOCKING A-PASS-BLOCKING A-OVERALL BLOCKING A- The Patriots were one of only three teams whose offenses earned an A for both run- and pass-blocking this year, mostly due to their ranking fifth this season in GBR (quality blocking on 48.1 percent of plays) and seventh in PPR (QB pressure on 24.7 percent of pass plays). Their run-blocking peaked late in the season. EAGLES DEFENSE RUSH DEFENSE A PASS RUSH B OVERALL FRONT SEVEN B+ The Eagles’ front seven boasts a league best in GBR allowed (32.9 percent) and a No. 1 ranking in TIP allowed (2.2 seconds). Atlanta found out about Philadelphia’s dominant pass rush in the divisional round. The Eagles’ 33.3 percent PPR in that game was third best in the first two playoff rounds. EAGLES OFFENSE RUN-BLOCKING B+ PASS-BLOCKING C OVERALL BLOCKING B- The Eagles had the fourth-best GBP in the NFL this season…

3 min.
a super bowl party dish fit for a (vi)king

PURPLE GRIP U.S. BANK STADIUM COST: $10 ESTIMATED CALORIES: 1,270 All year long, the Purple People Eaters have been celebrated with a purple pancake taco at U.S. Bank Stadium. Now, with Super Bowl LII coming to Minneapolis, James Mehne, Aramark’s senior executive chef at U.S. Bank Stadium, tells us how to re-create the Purple Grip. It won’t be on the menu at the game due to the 6:30 p.m. ET start—ya know, even Minnesotans don’t brunch after dark—but it’s season-tested and Vikings-fan-approved for your party at home. What the heck is ube? Ube is a purple sweet potato [from the Philippines]. We fold it into the batter to coincide with the Vikings—it’s got a nice bright purple color to it. It’s very visually appealing, a walking brunch item. You feel like you’re gripping…