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A wild Thursday around the NFL has already seen one major retirement and two head coaching hires. Your move, Jacksonville.

Options Open for Rodgers

NFL Championship Sunday is only 72 hours away — and yet one of the biggest storylines concerns the future of a quarterback who won’t be playing this weekend.

The Aaron Rodgers chatter intensified Thursday with the possibility of a pair of new destinations for Green Bay’s unsettled star.

First, the Broncos hired former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to be their next head coach. A few hours later, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger officially announced his retirement from the NFL.

Both teams are arguably an elite quarterback away from being serious Super Bowl contenders.

  • Denver’s defense ranked third in the league in points (18.9) and eighth in yards (326.1).
  • Pittsburgh boasts PFWA Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt, who led the NFL in sacks and tied Michael Strahan’s single-season record (22.5).
  • But both franchises struggled with QBs — among qualified players for ESPN’s QBR, Teddy Bridgewater ranked 20th (47.3), and Roethlisberger ranked 26th (35.5).

Rodgers has one season remaining on his four-year, $134 million contract — but Green Bay could be wise to trade him or else risk losing him for nothing next offseason.

A trade partner could get a package deal: Pending free agent WR Davante Adams has implied that he wants to continue playing with Rodgers wherever he goes — assuming the Packers don’t use the franchise tag on Adams.

Still, Rodgers could end up staying in Green Bay — he remained despite highly publicized tension with the front office last offseason.

The Heat Deserve More Hype

Several star-studded teams have been riddled with injuries and COVID-related woes this season — think Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

But no one seems to be talking about Miami, another wounded squad not only thriving, but topping the East.

The 1-seed Heat (31-17) defeated the Knicks in a blowout on Wednesday — the 17th time this season they’ve won by 10+ points.

The Heat have dealt with their fair share of adversity — and transcended it.

  • Despite missing 18 games this year, Jimmy Butler recently passed LeBron James for most triple-doubles in Heat history (10).
  • Bam Adebayo returned last week after missing 25 games; in three seasons together, he and Butler have a .635 win percentage.
  • Tyler Herro is making a case for Most Improved Player in his third year, averaging a career-high 20.7 PPG on 39% three-point shooting (15 PPG, 36% 3PT last season).

Thanks to a combination of smart offseason moves and continuity, the Heat are once again legitimate championship contenders — despite playing only 12 games with all four of their core players — Butler, Adebayo, Herro, and Kyle Lowry.

The quartet account for 67.1% of Miami’s payroll, the 10th-highest in the NBA ($140.6M), and are all locked in for the next three seasons.

Pat Riley has once again constructed a team-first culture capable of beating all the best in the East.

Who’s Stopping The Avalanche?

The Avalanche have been nearly unbeatable in January — and the Stanley Cup front-runners have a shot at NHL history before the month is out.

On Wednesday, Colorado won its eighth straight, a 4-3 comeback victory in OT over the Bruins. The Avs also extended their home winning streak to 17 games — the fifth-longest in league history (Red Wings, 23, 2011-12).

At 13-0-1 in January, they’ve totaled the franchise’s most wins ever in a single month — and with two games remaining, the Avs can tie the all-time mark of 15 in a month (Bruins, 2014; Penguins, 2013).

  • Their record (30-8-3) is the best in team history at the season’s midpoint.
  • Their plus-50 goal differential is tied with the Panthers for tops in the NHL.
  • The Avs are the first team since the 1995-96 Penguins with five-plus players to reach the 40-point mark halfway through the season.

On a team with stars like Nathan MacKinnon, Nazem Kadri, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog, the offensive catalyst has been 23-year-old defenseman Cale Makar.

The former Calder Trophy winner, who signed a six-year, $54 million contract extension over the summer, has 17 goals and 24 assists and is the favorite to win the Norris Trophy (+200*).

Colorado (+500*) hasn’t made it past the second round of the postseason since 2010 but is the current favorite to win its first Cup since 2001.

Making Headlines

Australian Open: Ashleigh Barty will be the first Australian woman to play in the final since 1980 after her straight-sets semi-final win over Madison Keys; Barty faces Danielle Collins in the final.

NFL: The Bears hired former Colts’ defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus to become the next head coach. Also: Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has opted to stay in Dallas; six teams had requested an interview with him.

Boxing: Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano will fight in the first women’s boxing match to headline at Madison Square Garden, set for April 30.

NBA: The league will announce starters for the All-Star Game tonight on TNT at 7 p.m. ET.

Serie A: Juventus has completed an $83.6 million transfer to acquire forward Dusan Vlahovic from Fiorentina. The Serbian international, the co-leading goalscorer in Italy’s Serie A, is set to make $7.8 million per season.

Today's Action

*All times are EST unless otherwise noted.
*Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.

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