Drew Brees’ 4 TDs Lead Saints to Blowout Win vs. Slumping Carson Wentz, Eagles

New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) celebrates his touchdown with fans after jumping into the stands in the first half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)

Bill Feig/Associated Press

The New Orleans Saints just keep winning.

New Orleans extended its winning streak to nine and improved to 9-1 overall with a commanding 48-7 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Drew Brees finished 22-of-30 for 363 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions, while Mark Ingram, Michael Thomas, Tre’Quan Smith, Alvin Kamara and Austin Carr all found the end zone.

As for the defending champions, they fell to 4-6 as their disappointing 2018 campaign continued. Carson Wentz was kept in check at 19-of-33 for 156 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions.

           

Saints’ Historically Explosive Offense Makes Them Super Bowl Favorites

The Saints offense isn’t just dominating teams. It’s putting up historic numbers:

One glance at the roster underscores just how much talent head coach Sean Payton has at his disposal.

Thomas is impossible to stop one-on-one at wide receiver, as he demonstrated in the first possession of the second half when he blew past Rasul Douglas. Brees dropped a perfect throw into his waiting arms before the safety could get over, and the result was a touchdown to blow open the game.

The Ohio State product went over 1,000 receiving yards for the season during the contest and entered play with a league-best 78 receptions. He has been basically automatic too, as those 78 catches came on 87 targets.

However, Philadelphia and other defenses can’t afford to devote too much attention Thomas’ way because that doesn’t leave enough defenders in the box to deal with Ingram’s physicality. He finished with 16 carries for 103 yards and two touchdowns, plowing through the Eagles’ defensive front a number of times.

As if that’s not enough, Kamara is there to use his speed in space and versatility as a runner or receiver whenever Ingram leaves the defense beat up with his running style. He streaked down the sideline for a 38-yard touchdown catch to add insult to injury in the fourth quarter.

Perhaps the most important development of Sunday’s contest was the emergence of Smith as a secondary receiver. He led the team with 10 catches on 13 targets with Thomas drawing double-teams and delivered in a big way by hauling in a touchdown catch through traffic in the second quarter and making a terrific diving catch late in the third quarter on his way to 157 yards.

Even an average quarterback could thrive with those playmakers, but Brees is directing the show as one of the best in league history.

New Orleans is in a battle with the 9-1 Los Angeles Rams for the No. 1 seed in the NFC and home-field advantage into the Super Bowl. This offense already put up a head-turning 45 points against the Rams and earned the head-to-head tiebreaker, meaning Jared Goff and Co. may have to face the raucous Saints fans inside the dome in a potential NFC Championship Game.

There is no defensive scheme to stop all these players, and weather won’t be a factor come January playing indoors.

Get ready to see the Saints in the Super Bowl.

          

Josh Adams Provides Lackluster Eagles Offense a Glimmer of Hope

The Eagles offense has been a disaster, plain and simple.

It entered play Sunday 21st in the league in points per game and 18th in Football Outsiders DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) metrics, which helps explain why the NFC playoffs may not feature the defending champions.

It was more of the same in the first quarter against the Saints when Philadelphia punted twice and was intercepted by Marshon Lattimore on its first three possessions, continuing an ugly theme:

The Eagles badly needed a spark and finally got one in the second quarter when Josh Adams made a quick cut and sliced through the New Orleans defense for a 28-yard touchdown to temporarily stop the bleeding and put the team on the board.

Adams, a rookie from Notre Dame, finished with seven carries for 53 yards (7.6 per attempt) and three catches for 19 yards, picking up where he left off in Week 8 against the Jacksonville Jaguars (6.8 yards per carry) and Week 10 against the Dallas Cowboys (6.7 yards per carry). There haven’t been many silver linings for the Eagles this year, but he has been a revelation since he started seeing more time.

He also provides a much-needed boost for a rushing attack that is missing Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles to injury and entered Sunday a mere 22nd in the league in yards per game.

Despite this loss and a 4-6 record, Philadelphia is still two games behind Washington in an NFC East that is wide-open now after Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported quarterback Alex Smith broke his tibia and fibula and is out for the season.

Adams gives Philadelphia a glimmer of hope and an extra dimension it can unleash in future games to control the clock and keep opposing quarterbacks on the sideline. He can also force defenders closer to the line of scrimmage, which will open up throwing lanes for Wentz and a plethora of weapons in Golden Tate, Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor.

A glimmer of hope is all the Eagles offense can ask for at this point.

            

What’s Next? 

Both teams are at home for their next game, with the Saints facing the Atlanta Falcons on Thanksgiving and the Eagles playing the New York Giants next Sunday.

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Venezuela’s justice department calls for Interpol arrest of Maduro and 18 years for corruption

Venezuela’s justice department in exile requested an international arrest warrant, also known as a red notice, for its own president Nicolás Maduro.

The Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) in exile accused Maduro of corruption in a letter to Jürgen Stock, the secretary-general of Interpol, dated on Monday.

The exiled department, which calls itself the Legitimate TSJ, was established in 2017 amid a constitutional change.

It said that Maduro accepted, directly or indirectly, funds from illegal activity, and called for 18 years and three months in jail.

“As a result of the aforementioned, this Plenary Chamber considered it appropriate to request that Interpol issue a red notice for Nicolás Maduro Moros for the purposes of international cooperation on common crimes for the apprehension of the above-mentioned subject,” said the letter, which was addressed from Coral Gables, Florida.

A toilet paper roll is pictured next to 2,600,000 bolivars at a mini-market in Caracas, Venezuela, in August.
REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Maduro is presiding over one of the world’s worst economic crises. The country has been struggling through hyperinflation, power cuts, and food shortages.

Recent polls of Venezuelans show that many struggle to afford basic necessities, and the country often sees mass protests because of the economic hardship. Venezuela has often used violence to suppress these protests.

Locals need stacks of cash just to buy basic food items. This August a roll of toilet paper cost 2.6 million Venezuelan bolívars, or $0.40. A kilogram of carrots cost three million bolívars, or $0.46.

The country’s inflation hit an annual rate of 830,000% this year to October. The International Monetary Fund said Venezuela’s annual inflation rate is likely to pass 1 million percent this year.

The government’s policies to fight the crisis included devaluing the bolívar, by 95% and pegging it to the state-backed cryptocurrency, the petro.

Meanwhile, more than three million Venezuelan refugees and migrants have fled to nearby countries including Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, and Brazil, USA Today reported, citing United Nations officials. The huge number of Venezuelan arrivals have “strained” those host countries, the UN said.

Read more: 10 pictures reveal the huge amounts of cash Venezuelans need to buy everyday things

Maduro dined at Salt Bae’s restaurant in Istanbul in September. Dining there is expensive.
Yusnaby Pérez/Twitter

Maduro, meanwhile, has been living extravagantly. He dined viral chef Salt Bae’s restaurant in Istanbul in September, where steaks can run cost up to $275.

Maduro’s whereabouts are not clear. Business Insider has contacted Interpol for comment.

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UK’s May on collision course with party rebels over Brexit

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British Prime Minister Theresa May was aiming to seal business support for her Brexit deal with the European Union on Monday, but remained on a collision course with a group of lawmakers seeking to unseat her.

The draft agreement has triggered an avalanche of criticism in Britain and left May fighting to keep her job.

She planned to say in a speech to business lobby group the Confederation of British Industry that the deal “fulfils the wishes of the British people” to leave the EU, by taking back control of the U.K.’s laws, money and borders.

May’s Downing St. office said she would confirm the government’s plan to end the automatic right of EU citizens to live and work in the U.K., saying Britain’s future immigration policy will be based on skills, rather than nationality.

“It will no longer be the case that EU nationals, regardless of the skills or experience they have to offer, can jump the queue ahead of engineers from Sydney or software developers from Delhi,” May plans to say.

The deal sealed last week between Britain and the EU after a year and a half of tense negotiations has infuriated pro-Brexit lawmakers in May’s Conservative Party and sparked a leadership crisis. The Brexiteers want a clean break with the bloc and argue that the close trade ties called for in the agreement will leave Britain a vassal state, bound to EU rules it has no say in making.

Two Cabinet ministers, including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, resigned in protest, and rebels are trying to gather the signatures of 48 lawmakers needed to trigger a no-confidence vote.

One of the rebels, Simon Clarke, on Monday urged wavering colleagues to help trigger a leadership challenge.

“It is quite clear to me that the captain is driving the ship at the rocks,” he said.

Even if May sees off a leadership challenge, she still has to get the deal approved by Parliament. Her Conservatives don’t have a parliamentary majority, and it’s not clear whether she can persuade enough lawmakers to back her agreement.

May argues that abandoning the plan, with Britain’s withdrawal just over four months away on March 29, could lead to a disorderly and economically damaging “no deal” Brexit — or to a situation in which Britain’s exit from the EU is postponed indefinitely.

Some Conservative Brexiteers, including Raab, say May should stay in post but try to renegotiate the deal — something May and other EU leaders insist is impossible.

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said Monday that “the withdrawal treaty is as good as it will get,” while Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn also said there is “no better” Brexit deal for Britain.

“We must make it understood today that this deal which is now on the table is the best one possible. There is no better one for this crazy Brexit,” Asselborn said as EU foreign ministers met in Brussels ahead of a leaders’ summit on Sunday at which the bloc intends to sign off on the deal.

While the 585-page, legally binding withdrawal agreement is complete, Britain and the EU hope this week to flesh out their far less detailed seven-page declaration on future relations.

“A painful week in European politics is starting,” said Austria’s minister for Europe, Gernot Bluemel. “We have the divorce papers on the table; 45 years of difficult marriage are coming to an end.”

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Casert reported from Brussels.

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See the AP’s Brexit coverage at: https://ift.tt/2QQDXv6

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Andrew Luck Is Back and Ready to Reclaim His Place in the MVP Race

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck reacts following an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, in Indianapolis. Indianapolis won 38-10. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

The best pass from Sunday’s games came from one of the best stories in football. A story that’s been almost forgotten.

While we have all focused on the accuracy of Drew Brees, the explosiveness of Patrick Mahomes, the nuclear-powered scoring of the Rams and a hundred other stories, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has steadily and quietly stormed his nerdy ass into the MVP race.

Midway through the second quarter Sunday, Luck showed why. Against a Titans team that entered Week 11 as one of the best defenses in football, Luck dropped back and saw receiver T.Y. Hilton had a step on cornerback Adoree’ Jackson. But it was only a step.

Luck then unleashed the football with such a beautiful arc it was almost hypnotic. It landed right on Hilton’s hip, and Hilton bounced off Jackson and ran in for a 68-yard touchdown and 16-0 lead. The Colts went on to win, 38-10.

A great play, yes, but it also represented something bigger. It was a symbol of where Luck is, and how far he’s come, after having lost all of last season to a shoulder injury. He’s traveled from a place where he was once a tackling dummy, a punchline for offensive line jokes. Speculation ran from doubts about whether he could throw deep anymore to fears he may never play again. Well, yeah, he’s playing again, and you bet he still can throw the deep ball.

While Luck, without question, deserves to be in the MVP conversation, it’s hard to imagine him winning. He just isn’t as much on the radar right now as the Rams’ stars or Mahomes or Brees. The Colts aren’t as flashy as those teams and, despite winning four straight games, are just 5-5.

Still, make no mistake, what Luck is doing now is one of the more incredible stories of this season or any other. Luck isn’t just throwing accurately, he’s producing huge numbers. He’s thrown for at least three touchdown passes in seven straight games. His 67.3 completion percentage is a career high. And against a Titans defense that had previously allowed just 16.8 points a game and had not given up three touchdown passes in a game all year, Luck connected on 23 of 29 attempts for 297 yards, three scores and a 143.8 passer rating.

Of course, Luck isn’t doing this alone.

Unlike Colts offensive lines of years past, Indy pass protectors have kept Andrew Luck upright for all but 10 plays in 2018.

Unlike Colts offensive lines of years past, Indy pass protectors have kept Andrew Luck upright for all but 10 plays in 2018.Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

Finally, it appears the Colts have a solid offensive line, one that has allowed Luck to be sacked only 10 times this season. (In his last full season, Luck was sacked 41 times.) Now we can see that when Luck doesn’t constantly get pulverized, he is as good as there is in football.

Luck also has the benefit of playing under new coach Frank Reich, who has long been considered one of the smartest people in the game by those who have followed his career from savvy backup quarterback to Eagles offensive coordinator to coach of the Colts.

Reich created an imaginative offense in Philadelphia and brought that same creativity to Indianapolis. Also, as he did in Philly, Reich has put a high value on protecting the quarterback, and according to the team, the Colts haven’t allowed a sack in 217 straight pass attempts. That’s five games, a streak that ties the 2010 Giants and 2008 Titans for the third-longest since 1982.

To really understand just how good Luck and the Colts offense have been, we have to remember how bad it was.

Seemingly on the run every time he dropped back, Luck was sacked more than 30 times per season over his first five years in the league. Then there was surgery on his throwing shoulder in 2017, and he didn’t recover in time to play. He even traveled to Europe to seek treatment for it.

But now the Colts have an offense that is thriving and fun again, after years of gloom and doubt.

With a healthy Luck and new coach Frank Reich's creative schemes, the Colts have the sixth-highest scoring offense in the NFL this season.

With a healthy Luck and new coach Frank Reich’s creative schemes, the Colts have the sixth-highest scoring offense in the NFL this season.Joe Robbins/Getty Images

And while those dark seasons have left some waiting for the bottom to fall out on Luck and the Colts again, this feels different. This feels like Luck is back to the Luck who was one of the most promising quarterbacks we’ve ever seen. The three-time Pro Bowler who was seen as one of the prototypes of the position. Consider that, according to the Colts, his 161 touchdown passes put him with Dan Marino (182) and Aaron Rodgers (160) as the only players in league history with 160 or more in their first 80 career games.

Yes, that pass to Hilton was gorgeous, but it was more than a simple pass. It was a statement.

Andrew Luck is back.

    

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.

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Tim Cook defends Apple taking billions from Google after his blistering attack on data hoarding tech firms

Tim Cook defended taking billions of dollars from Google amid concerns that the partnership undermines Apple’s no-nonsense approach to privacy.

Google pays Apple more than $9 billion a year to be the default search engine on the iPhone, according to a Goldman Sachs estimate seen by Business Insider.

But Google has been blighted by a number of privacy concerns in recent months. The company shut down its Google+ social network for consumers in October after 500,000 accounts were breached, while Associated Press found in August that Google services on iPhone stored location data even when users told them not to.

Despite the recent furors, Apple CEO Cook stood by its deal with Google when asked if it compromised Apple’s privacy believes. He told “Axios on HBO” on Sunday:

“I think their search engine is the best. Look at what we’ve done with the controls we’ve built in. We have private web browsing. We have an intelligent tracker prevention. What we’ve tried to do is come up with ways to help our users through their course of the day. It’s not a perfect thing. I’d be the very first person to say that. But it goes a long way to helping.”

Cook has long espoused Apple’s approach to privacy as a “fundamental human right.” He has been vocal about the company’s record as rivals, including Facebook and Google, have been dragged into scandals this year.

Read more: Tim Cook mounted his most stinging attack yet on companies like Facebook and Google that hoard ‘industrial’ quantities of data

Cook launched a blistering attack last month on firms that hoard “industrial” amounts of personal data. Speaking at a privacy conference in Brussels, he said the stockpiling of personal data amounted to surveillance and should make us “very uncomfortable.”

“Our own information, from the everyday to the deeply personal, is being weaponized against us with military efficiency,” he said, calling for “comprehensive federal privacy law” in the US.

Cook did not mention Facebook or Google by name, but they were an obvious target given they have access to giant pools of personal information that allow them to personalize advertising.

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Rick Scott defeats Bill Nelson for Florida Senate seat after tense recount

Florida Gov. Rick Scott defeated Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson Sunday in a contentious race for a Senate seat.

The Associated Press reported after the recount that Scott led the incumbent Nelson by more than 10,000 votes.

In a statement after Nelson called him to concede, Scott said he thanked the three-term senator for his years of service and called for unity across Florida.

“Now the campaign truly is behind us,” Scott said. “That’s where we need to leave it.”

Hours earlier, Scott warned Nelson in a statement to concede, saying he could either “be remembered as the statesman who graciously conceded after 42-years of public service … or be remembered as the sore loser who refused to face the people he served.”

Nelson said in a statement later that afternoon that he didn’t “feel defeated” and implored voters and citizens to “never give up this fight” for progress in protections for issues including healthcare, the environment, and civil rights.

“We may have been heavily outspent in this campaign, but we were never outworked,” Nelson said, referring to the $60 million Scott spent on the race. “We have to move beyond a politics that aims not just to defeat but to destroy; where truth is treated as disposable, where falsehoods abound, and the free press is assaulted as the ‘enemy of the people.’”

Nelson continued: “There’s been a gathering darkness in our politics in recent years. My hope today can be found in the words of John F. Kennedy, who said civility can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future.”

Bill Nelson.
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

The victory comes over a week after Election Day, when Scott was expected to defeat Nelson but only led by 0.15 percentage points, triggering a hand recount.

In the recount, election officials and volunteers had to examine ballots from which tabulation machines couldn’t determine which candidate got the vote.

Read more: 3 reasons Florida’s elections are a perennial chaotic nightmare

Scott’s win is the second hard-fought Republican victory in the state within a day after Democrat Andrew Gillum conceded in the race for Florida governor to Republican Ron DeSantis on Saturday night.

The Senate race drew national attention as Scott made headlines throughout the campaign with repeated claims that Nelson was trying to garner votes from fraudulent ballots and those cast by noncitizens.

“He is trying to commit fraud to win this election,” Scott told Fox News without offering further evidence. “Bill Nelson’s a sore loser. He’s been in politics way too long.”

No state department, including the election division Scott heads, has found any no evidence of voter fraud. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said it has not launched any investigation into election fraud. And a judge slapped down Republicans’ fraud claims, telling politicians to “ramp down the rhetoric”.

With Scott’s seat secured, Republicans have an even more comfortable majority of the US Senate.

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Key Israel minister slams Netanyahu, but won’t quit government

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett has said he will keep his party in government, making an early election less likely.

In a dramatic press conference on Monday, Bennett, who heads the far-right, pro-settler Jewish Home party, slammed the record of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but stopped short of resigning.

“Something bad is happening to us from within,” said Bennett. “For quite a few years, including the last decade of the government headed by Netanyahu, that the state of Israel stopped winning.”

“I tell the prime minister here: we are withdrawing right now all of our political demands and will stand to help you in this great mission of getting Israel to win again,” he said.

“If the government would really start leading toward the right path, acting like a real right-wing government, it’s worth trying,” he added. “The ball is in the prime minister’s court.”

U-turn

Reporting from Jerusalem, Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker said that Bennett’s announcement will likely postpone the prospect of early elections temporarily, given the slender one-seat majority of Netanyahu’s governing coalition.

Many people had expected Bennett to announce his resignation on Monday, rather than criticise Netanyahu, she added.

“He criticised, extensively, Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” said Dekker. “Particularly how he dealt with the issue with the Palestinians, whether it came to prisoner exchanges, or how he handled the Gaza border protests, how he handled Hamas, how he hadn’t yet demolished Khan al-Ahmar, the village in the occupied West Bank.

“But after all that criticism, he said, ‘well, I am going to remain in government.’ He doesn’t want to be seen… as the one to bring down the right-wing government.”

“Also, of course, it would have been handing a massive political victory to Hamas, in the aftermath of that ceasefire. First with the resignation of the defence minister and then with the potential fall of the government,” she said.

Last week Bennett and Justice Minister Ayalet Shaked threatened to withdraw from the government coalition if Bennett wasn’t named defence minister, in the wake of Avigdor Lieberman’s resignation.

Netanyahu subsequently said he would take on the defence portfolio himself.

In a televised address on Sunday, the prime minister said “there is no place for politics or personal considerations” when it comes to Israel’s security.

He also urged his coalition partners not to bring down the government, saying holding snap elections now would be “irresponsible” as Israel is in “one of our most complex periods in terms of security”.

Following the address, Jewish Home described the government as “nominally right-wing” and accused it of being weak on security issues in a statement.

Netanyahu’s meeting on Sunday with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, a key coalition partner who has also pushed for early elections, was seen as a last attempt to prevent the collapse of the coalition – which currently has a one-seat majority in parliament – but ended with no conclusion.

Bennett had threatened to withdraw from the coalition to protest a ceasefire in Gaza agreed between Israel and Hamas-led factions on Tuesday.

Many viewed Netanyahu’s speech, in which he denounced those threatening to resign, to be the start of the election campaign.

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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