NFL

Stats Perform's NFL Friday Facts: Brady and Mahomes go head-to-head

By Sports Desk November 27, 2020

The last two Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks are set to face off on Sunday as Patrick Mahomes' Kansas City Chiefs face Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Defending champions Kansas City have a 9-1 record this season, while the Buccaneers are 7-3.

Though Tampa have lost two of their past three games, the Chiefs' most recent two victories have been by tight margins, and now an all-time great in the form of six-time Super Bowl champion Brady goes up against the league's current star quarterback.

The game in Florida is among the key Thanksgiving weekend matchups we preview with Stats Perform data.

FEATURED GAME

Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Sunday, 4:25pm (all times Eastern)

- This game is a matchup of the quarterbacks who won the past two Super Bowls, with Brady winning Super Bowl LIII two seasons ago with the New England Patriots and Mahomes and the Chiefs winning the Lombardi Trophy last February. The Bucs are 1-4 this season versus QBs who have started in Super Bowls, and 6-0 in all other games.

- Kansas City have reeled off five straight victories, scoring 30 or more points in each of the last four contests. In the franchise's 61-year history, the team has scored 30 or more points in five successive games on two occasions, in 2004 and 2018 (both streaks ended at five games).

- With a 13.5 touchdown-interception ratio (27 TD passes, two picks), Mahomes is tied for the second best single-season mark among qualifiers in league history. He is topped by only Brady and his 14.0 mark in 2016 as a member of the Patriots (28 and two).

- Twenty years and six days after making his NFL debut, Brady will look to snap a two-game home losing streak. It is the third time in his career and first since 2006 that the veteran campaigner has lost consecutive home contests in the regular season; he has never suffered a three-game home losing streak.

OTHER KEY GAMES

Arizona Cardinals at New England Patriots - Sunday, 1pm

- New England have won six of the last seven games between these teams dating back to 1993, with Arizona's only win coming in 2012 in Foxborough. The Cardinals have not scored more than 21 points in any of those seven games – they had at least 24 in six of the first seven all-time meetings between these teams (6-1).

Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts - Sunday, 1pm

- Ryan Tannehill has 44 touchdown passes and nine interceptions in his 20 starts with Tennessee. His 4.89 TD/INT ratio is the best all-time by a quarterback in his first 20 starts with a team, surpassing Peyton Manning with the Denver Broncos (4.82).

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers - Sunday, 8:20pm

- Green Bay are 15-3 against Chicago since the 2011 season – the third best record by one team against a divisional opponent in that span, behind the Patriots against the New York Jets (17-2) and the Steelers against the Cinciannati Bengals (16-3). Since the start of last season, the Bears have gone 14 games scoring fewer than 20 points. Only the Jets (17), Bengals (15), and Washington (15) have had more such games.

Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles - Monday, 8:15pm

- The Eagles are 2-5 against the Seahawks in Philadelphia, their worst home record against any active franchise. Losers of the last five such matchups, Philly have not dropped six consecutive home games to a single opponent since losing six straight to the Cardinals from 1973 to 1978.

ELSEWHERE...

Los Angeles Chargers at Buffalo Bills - Sunday, 1pm

- The Chargers have won four straight over the Bills by a combined 80 points, winning each by double digits. The last time the Bills beat the Chargers was on October 19, 2008 – that 12-year span without a win is the fourth-longest active drought by any team against a conference opponent.

Las Vegas Raiders at Atlanta Falcons - Sunday, 1pm

- Atlanta's Matt Ryan is set to play in his 200th career game on Sunday. His tally of 54,164 passing yards (though 199 games) is the second-most in NFL history in a player's first 200 games, trailing only Drew Brees (55,439).

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  • Is Thiago Alcantara ill-suited to Liverpool's style of play? Is Thiago Alcantara ill-suited to Liverpool's style of play?

    Thiago Alcantara is a rather unique breed of footballer, the type of player who will be almost universally enjoyed such are his breath-taking technical attributes.

    It's like he rolls the passing talents of Juan Roman Riquelme and first touch of Ronaldinho into a single player and saunters around the pitch ensuring the game is played at a pace dictated by him.

    His Liverpool career feels a lot shorter than it actually has been because of his absence through injury, and he'll be hoping his recent return is the catalyst to kick-starting what is resembling a fairly meek title defence.

    But while Thiago has shown flashes of his immense ability in his fledgling Liverpool career, it appears not all are entirely convinced.

    Former Reds midfielder Dietmar Hamann expressed his reservations in an interview with talkSPORT on Tuesday, suggesting Thiago is detrimental to a key part of Liverpool's play; utilising a quick tempo with hard-working midfielders who look to get the ball forward to the front three as soon as possible.

    Hamann urged Liverpool to be cautious about how much influence they let Thiago have, questioning his effectiveness when not in possession and suitability to the Reds' system, concerns that won't have been eased by Thursday's shock defeat to Burnley.

    But does this give a fair reflection of Thiago?

    An unnecessary luxury?

    First of all, there are only so many conclusions you can make regarding Thiago and his time at Liverpool because he has not featured particularly often, as previously highlighted.

    But the fact is, Liverpool's record in Premier League games he has featured in is quite poor, with only one of those six ending in a victory.

    That win came in his Premier League debut, a 2-0 victory at Chelsea back in September – that's right, it was the game where he completed 75 passes despite only coming on at half-time, a record since Opta began recording such data in 2003-04 among players to play a maximum of 45 minutes.

    The hype after that match was stratospheric – the champions had seemingly added the final string to their bow and they were seemingly set to overwhelm everyone, but it's worth bearing in mind that was a Chelsea side reduced to 10 men before Thiago had even come on.

    Liverpool average just one point per game with Thiago, that more than doubles to 2.2 when he hasn't played – additionally, their win percentage rockets from 16.7 to 61.5 in games the Spaniard hasn't featured in.

    Of course, it's a relatively small sample size, so perhaps take the facts with a pinch of salt – but there are metrics that can shine more light on Thiago's influence.

    One of Hamann's major reservations related to Thiago's desire to dictate play and how he might, in the long run, negatively impact Liverpool's effectiveness off the ball.

    "Liverpool were always good when they weren't in possession, won it and played quickly forward. He's not that type of player, so it will be very interesting when he does play more often now how it's going to change the dynamics of the team," Hamann said.

    It's true, Liverpool do have more of the ball (65.7 per cent compared to 64.7) with Thiago in the side, but the difference is negligible and certainly cannot be pointed to as a cause for worry.

    The supply line

    Then there's the concerns relating to Thiago's style of play potentially impacting supply to the frontline. Well, the Reds average 18.7 shots per game when he plays (up from 14.9 without him).

    There is also no damning evidence to suggest Thiago isn't looking to feed the forwards either, after all, he passed to Mohamed Salah 11 times (a joint high) against Manchester United last weekend.

    He has picked out Salah 36 times in their 365 minutes on the pitch together – so, once every 10.1 minutes. Although that's less frequent than he passes to Trent Alexander-Arnold (once per every 8.2 minutes) and Andy Robertson (8.8 minutes), it shows he is supplying the Reds' most-threatening forward regularly.

    And while the two full-backs had off days against Burnley, can you really blame Thiago for passing to them often? Since the start of last season, they are Liverpool's leading providers of shooting opportunities.

    Additionally, his 14.9 passes into final third of the pitch per 90 minutes is second only to Jordan Henderson (16.2) among Liverpool players this term – Thiago beats him, and every other Red, in terms of successful passes in the attacking third every game, however (25.8, compared to Henderson's 20.5).

    "He's not that type of player"

    It's fair to say Thiago probably isn't best known for what he brings to teams off the ball, but despite some seemingly questioning him in this department, he appears to be at least pulling his weight.

    In fact, he's averaging marginally more tackles per 90 minutes than Henderson (1.5 over 1.4), while no one in the Liverpool team is intercepting opposition passes as frequently as the Barcelona product (2.8 per 90 mins).

    On top of that, he's ranked third in the squad for duel involvements (14.7 per 90 mins) – while not necessarily an indicator of excellence on its own, that should at the very least dispel any questions regarding his work rate.

    On an individual level when you look at the data, Thiago doesn't appear to be out of place stylistically. While he may occasionally spend more time on the ball than some of his midfield contemporaries, he possesses the kind of technical wizardry that arguably no other Liverpool player has and that is surely a positive rather than a negative.

    He's also clearly a hard-working player who offers plenty off the ball. So, while the Reds are going through a tricky patch at the moment, Thiago's abilities should be embraced rather than looked upon with suspicion.

  • Davis stars as Lakers win on the road again, Nets edge Heat Davis stars as Lakers win on the road again, Nets edge Heat

    The Los Angeles Lakers eased to a win in the NBA on Saturday, while the Brooklyn Nets overcame the Miami Heat.

    Anthony Davis posted 37 points in 28 minutes as the Lakers brushed past the Chicago Bulls 101-90 to improve to 9-0 on the road.

    LeBron James had a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds in the comfortable win.

    The Lakers (13-4) sit top of the Western Conference ahead of the red-hot Utah Jazz (12-4).

    The Nets returned to winning ways after back-to-back losses, overcoming the Heat 128-124.

    Kyrie Irving had 18 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, while Kevin Durant (31 points), Joe Harris (23 points) and James Harden (12 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds) were also key contributors.

    Heat star Bam Adebayo was in impressive form with 41 points.

     

    Jazz win eighth straight, Embiid and Jokic star again

    The Jazz made it eight straight wins as Donovan Mitchell recorded 23 points, seven rebounds and six assists in a 127-108 victory over the Golden State Warriors.

    Warriors star Stephen Curry (24 points) passed Reggie Miller to move into second place for most three-pointers made in NBA history.

    The Philadelphia 76ers improved to 12-5 as Joel Embiid had a double-double of 33 points and 14 rebounds in a 114-110 win against the Detroit Pistons.

    Nikola Jokic's impressive season continued. The center had 29 points, 22 rebounds and six assists as the Denver Nuggets beat the Phoenix Suns 120-112 after overtime.

     

    Grant struggles

    Jerami Grant struggled from the field for the Pistons. He went three-of-19 for just 11 points in 35 minutes in the loss to the 76ers.

     

    Curry passes Miller

    Curry moved past Miller after making his 2,561st three-pointer in the NBA. Only Ray Allen (2,973) has made more.

    Saturday's results

    Minnesota Timberwolves 120-110 New Orleans Pelicans
    Philadelphia 76ers 114-110 Detroit Pistons
    Brooklyn Nets 128-124 Miami Heat
    Houston Rockets 133-108 Dallas Mavericks
    Utah Jazz 127-108 Golden State Warriors
    Los Angeles Lakers 101-90 Chicago Bulls
    Denver Nuggets 120-112 Phoenix Suns

     

    Hawks at Bucks

    The Milwaukee Bucks (9-6) have dropped back-to-back games ahead of hosting the Atlanta Hawks (8-7) on Sunday.

  • Real Madrid must be patient with Hazard – Bettoni Real Madrid must be patient with Hazard – Bettoni

    Real Madrid assistant coach David Bettoni urged patience with Eden Hazard after the playmaker showed signs of his best in a win over Deportivo Alaves.

    Hazard has struggled to find his best form since arriving at Madrid from Chelsea in 2019, but he scored once and set up another in Saturday's 4-1 LaLiga victory.

    The 30-year-old scored and assisted in a single game for Madrid for just the second time and first since October 2019 before coming off just after the hour-mark.

    Bettoni, who took charge for the game after Zinedine Zidane tested positive for coronavirus, said Hazard needed time.

    "I think Eden has had a tough season and a half with Real Madrid," he told a news conference.

    "We have to be patient with him, although obviously in football and especially at Real Madrid, we don't really have time to be that patient but with Eden I think we have to be.

    "He had a very good game, scoring a goal and getting an assist and I think we'll see the best of him eventually. We saw a little bit of that today."

    Casemiro and Karim Benzema scored before Hazard's strike, only for Joselu to pull a goal back for Alaves.

    But Benzema sealed Madrid's win after Hazard came off, the Frenchman reaching at least 15 goals in all competitions for the 10th time in the past 11 seasons with the LaLiga giants.

    Bettoni explained his decision to introduce Vinicius Junior in place of Hazard was a tactical choice.

    "It was a change because we wanted to bring on Vinicius to give us a bit more pace," he said.

    "I think Hazard had a very good hour on the pitch and it was basically just to change things, to add a bit more pace to the front three and nothing more than that."

    Madrid are second in LaLiga, four points behind Atletico Madrid, who have played two fewer games.

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