NRL grand final 2018, Storm vs Roosters from ANZ Stadium. STORM superstar Billy Slater has gone to hell and back this week to keep his fairytale career finish on track — but the Roosters have no intent on letting the Storm star’s dream come true.
The two most dominant teams since the turn of the century will meet for the first time in an NRL grand final on Sunday night at ANZ Stadium.
The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast a partly cloudy evening at Sydney Olympic Park where the mercury will drop as low as 12C. The game is scheduled to kick-off from 7.30pm (AEST).
Freddy drops an F-bomb
Channel 9’s marathon grand final telecast had an early casualty when NSW State of Origin coach Brad Fittler got caught out on live TV.
The Roosters legend appeared to be unawares that the NRL broadcaster had finished a recorded segment and cut back to his live panel outside ANZ Stadium.
Fans all over the country heard the moment he let an F-bomb slip in a conversation with a fellow panel member of or a producer. Roosters coach Trent Robinson said he was trusting his players to keep Cooper Cronk’s fitness a secret all week.
According to reports Roosters board members have not even been told if the star halfback will be fit to play the Storm on Sunday night.
The secret has remained a secret throughout the week — and now we know the extraordinary lengths the players went to to keep the news under wraps.
Fox League NRL 360 host Paul Kent told Triple M NRL on Sunday afternoon that not even Cronk’s wife Tara Rushton has been told if her husband will play or not.
Kent said he asked Rushton when they crossed paths on Sunday — only to be told she didn’t know if Cronk’s shoulder injury will keep him out.
“Even she doesn’t know,” Kent said.
Meanwhile, Channel 9 guru Phil Gould suggested he believes Cronk will play against the Storm after a conversation he had with Roosters chairman Nick Politis this weekend.
Gould told Radio TAB that Politis has led him to believe that Cronk is expected to pass his fitness test during the team’s warm-up.
Reports came in during the afternoon from The Daily Telegraph’s Dean Ritchie and The Australian’s Brent Read that Cronk was cleared to play by the Roosters after completing a fitness test on Sunday morning.
2018 NRL GRAND FINAL TEAMS
Roosters: 1 James Tedesco, 2 Daniel Tupou, 3 Latrell Mitchell, 4 Joseph Manu, 5 Blake Ferguson, 6 Luke Keary, 7 Mitchell Aubusson, 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 9 Jake Friend (c), 10 Siosiua Taukeiaho, 11 Boyd Cordner, 12 Isaac Liu, 13 Victor Radley
Interchange: 14 Dylan Napa 15 Zane Tetevano 16 Paul Momirovski, 17 Ryan Matterson
Reserves: 18 Lindsay Collins, 23 Cooper Cronk
Players cut: 19 Nat Butcher, 20 Sean O’Sullivan (two more to be omitted one hour before kick-off)
Storm: 1 Billy Slater, 2 Suliasi Vunivalu, 3 Will Chambers, 4 Curtis Scott, 5 Josh Addo-Carr, 6 Cameron Munster, 7 Brodie Croft, 8 Jesse Bromwich, 9 Cameron Smith (c), 10 Tim Glasby, 11 Felise Kaufusi, 12 Joe Stimson, 13 Dale Finucane
Interchange: 14 Kenny Bromwich, 15 Christian Welch, 16 Brandon Smith, 17 Nelson Asofa-Solomona
Reserves: 18 Ryan Hoffman, 19 Jahrome Hughes
Players cut: 20 Sam Kasiano, 21 Cheyse Blair (two more to be omitted one hour before kick-off)
NFL Week 6 Game Preview: Ravens vs Titans
NFL Week 6 Game Preview: Ravens (3-2) at Titans (3-2)
Their records indicate an even matchup, but when the Titans face the Ravens Sunday, they will have the advantage of being a team without a definitive identity playing a squad with a proven game plan.
Tennessee put themselves on top of the AFC South with creativity, as much as skill. They’ve survived an overtime thriller and a defensive slog. But, they lost an opening day shootout and come off a bitter last-second loss in another defensive gem.
What kind of team are the Titans? They are a running team that is not running well. They have a franchise quarterback who can’t carry them. Scrappy is the term that comes to mind when we see the manner in which they play. Never out of it, but never quite in control, either.
Meanwhile, Baltimore tries to exert authority behind a powerful defense and a veteran offense. Sometimes it works… and sometimes they lose a field goal battle to the Browns like they did in Week 5.
Both teams will try to rebound from unexpected losses to boost their 2018 playoff aspirations. But can the Baltimore defense keep the scrappy Titans under control? Can the scrappy Titans defense give Joe Flacco and company another week of disappointment?
Injuries and roster moves
Baltimore has three cornerbacks among five defensive players listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. Brandon Carr missed practice Wednesday and appears to be at risk for the game against the Titans.
Tennesse has a similar issue at linebacker. Wesley Woodyard, Robert Spillane, and Will Compton are all listed as questionable.
Safety Kenny Vaccaro is already ruled out for Week 6.
Offensive tackle Taylor Lewan is questionable with a foot injury.
The Ravens 3-2 start has lessened discussions about John Harbaugh’s future after his 11th season in charge. Harbaugh followed up five straight years of playoff appearances with a Super Bowl Championship in 2012, but that was six years and only two winning records ago.
With long-time general manager Ozzie Newsome already announcing his retirement at the end of this season and a quarterback change imminent, Harbaugh’s departure would make a new regime truly complete.
Mike Vrabel’s first coaching experience hasn’t been easy, but he is getting the most out of a flawed team. Already, he’s adeptly worked around injuries to his quarterback and lead rusher, as well as a malcontent in the receiving corps to keep his team’s playoff aspirations in play.
How to watch the Ravens-Titans game
CBS will provide this late-game broadcast to fans in and around Tennessee and the greater Baltimore area. Many fans will watch the CBS Sports broadcast on Sling TV without the need for expensive cable or satellite providers.
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Who will win the Ravens-Titans game?
Baltimore is hoping division rival Pittsburgh the best this week as a Steelers victory could let the Ravens pull into a first-place tie with the Cincinnati Bengals in the NFC North if Baltimore can take care of the Titans.
Tennessee owns the AFC South tiebreaker with 3-2 Jacksonville, with another head-to-head battle still pending. They need a win to hold onto first place in the meantime.
The home fans in Nashville are anxious to see their Titans crack the tough Baltimore defense, but the odds seem to favor Baltimore holding serve.
Final score: Baltimore 17, Titans 12
NFL Week 6 Game Preview: Chiefs vs Patriots
Sunday Night Football features the greatest quarterback of all time against the greatest quarterback of the young 2018 season. Tom Brady will host young Patrick Mahomes in Week 6’s most anticipated matchup.
Brady comes off consecutive 38-point outings against the Dolphins and Colts. The return of Julian Edelman and emergence of rookie rusher Sony Michel stabilized a shaky Patriots offense in time for the second quarter of the season.
Mahomes just put 30 points up against what was the top-rated defense in the league. He continues his assault on Peyton Manning’s season touchdown record.
Kansas City’s defense came alive last week, with five turnovers and several important stops when Jacksonville’s offense looked like it might start revving up. Any semblance of defense could keep the Chiefs unbeaten for years with the way its offense is playing.
Kansas City didn’t even need Tyreek Hill to pile up his usual yardage and scoring totals to keep their winning streak alive at 5. Running back Kareem Hunt had a slow start but emerged as a vital component of the Chiefs attack in Week 4.
Brady, the master craftsman, doesn’t need the explosive weapons the upstart from the Midwest surrounds himself with. He’ll bring a cadre of veterans with him who know a thing or two about winning football games.
Injuries and roster moves
Kansas City put guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and safety Armani Watt on injured reserve Wednesday. Coach Andy Reed all but ruled out linebacker Justin Houston (hamstring) for Sunday’s tilt.
Safety Eric Berry got limited practice time in this week, but it will be at least another week before he gets back on the field.
In New England, wide receivers Josh Gordon and Chris Hogan, tight end Rob Gronkowski, and running back Sony Michel were all limited in practice Wednesday. The quartet is listed as questionable, but it would be a surprise if any of them was not active Sunday night.
Two of the longest tenured head coaches go head-to-head in this classic matchup. Offensive guru Andy Reid versus the defensive scientist, Bill Belichick.
Both coaches are future Hall-of-Famers when they most likely leave the game on their own terms. Each calls the other a genius. They’ll bring their best stuff to New England this week.
How to watch the Patriots-Chiefs game
NBC Sports broadcasts Sunday Night Football across the nation and overseas. Millions of Americans fed up with rising satellite and cable costs will follow the NBC broadcast on their favorite internet device instead.
Sling, Fubo TV, and DirecTV Now are just some of the internet TV providers offering a low-cost alternative to traditional television service. They provide all the NFL-related networks in most regions of the US at a fraction of the costs of cable and satellite.
With free trials and low monthly subscription rates, there’s no reason not to cut the cord and start watching live stream NFL action on Sling, Fubo TV, or DirecTV Now.
Who will win the Patriots-Chiefs game?
Pat Mahomes could give an early victory to the young guns trying to steal the mantle from their veteran counterparts. But Tom Brady has made it clear he has no intention of going away quietly.
Both defenses look improved from just a couple of weeks ago, but they haven’t faced quarterbacks nearly as skillful as this pair.
Each passer looks unstoppable, but each coach will find a moment to introduce something new or unexpected. Brady’s experience gives him the edge in a battle of the coaches’ wits.
Final score: Patriots 38, Chiefs 31
NFL Week 5: Falcons vs Steelers Game Preview
Pittsburgh has their first game out of the national spotlight in three weeks, facing the Falcons at home in the early set Sunday.
Baltimore shut down the Steelers for the most part last week, allowing 14 points in a short stretch of the first half, before clamping down in their 26-14 victory.
Pittsburgh doesn’t anticipate a repeat performance against a Falcons defense that just gave up 80 points over two weeks to the Saints and Bengals.
Atlanta lost both of those games despite scoring 74 points of their own. Their defense is struggling after the loss of three starters since opening day. They could not make late-game stops that could have provided a win in either of the two contests.
Ben Roethlisberger has to be anxious to put last week’s struggles behind him against the Falcons secondary. Pittsburgh’s diminished running attack in the absence of Le’Veon Bell shouldn’t matter much in this game.
Matt Ryan undoubtedly looks forward to facing the Steelers secondary, too. Atlanta’s passing game has new life with the addition of rookie Calvin Ridley. Mohamed Sanu and Julio Jones find themselves more open. Even tight end Austin Hooper is seeing a few passes.
Running back Devonta Freeman will also return to the Falcons lineup after missing a few weeks with a knee injury. Freeman and Tevin Coleman are no liability in the pass game, either.
This could come down to which front line can put the most pressure on the opposing passer. Neither team can hold coverage very long in a normal game, but with the plethora of passing targets on the field, the defensive secondaries could be exhausted by halftime.
If you like offense, this could be a fun game to watch.
How to watch the Steelers vs Falcons game:
Fox Sports will produce this early game and broadcast it in much of the Southeast and up into the Pittsburgh market for cable and satellite television viewers.
Millions of savvy NFL fans will follow the live stream of Pittsburgh-Atlanta on Sling TV or DirecTV Now. Fubo TV also offers live stream NFL action in most US markets.
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Check out the providers’ websites to see what they offer in your neighborhood.
Who will win the Steelers vs Falcons game?
Atlanta is desperate for a win after their two consecutive heartbreakers left them 1-3 and at the bottom of the NFC South standings. They face division rival Tampa Bay next week before the Giants send them on their bye.
Pittsburgh already has a loss and a tie in their division and don’t the 3-1 Bengals or Ravens to extend their lead. With rumors of a Le’Veon bell return coming soon, they want to stay close enough for it to matter.
Atlanta’s passing attack was ramped up when Freeman was injured. How the Falcon offense approaches this game could make a difference. With the problem their defense has stopping the ball, we expect them to keep the pedal down and chase points.
Roethlisberger is at home, which means the “good” Ben should show up. There is a little concern about the beating he took the past two weeks and the letdown of a “normal” game.
But that will prove to be unfounded. Pittsburgh’s defense will come through one more time than the Falcons’. But it will be fun. Final score: Steelers 44, Falcons 38