New England Patriots v Arizona Cardinals
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Happy Tuesday, everyone! Hope you're doing well.

Let's get right to it.

Patriots hop into AFC's seventh seed, Kyler Murray suffers knee injury on MNF 🏈

Monday night's game started with the worst-case scenario for the Cardinals, and it didn't get much better from there.

Kyler Murray suffered what's believed to be a serious knee injury on the third play from scrimmage, and the Patriots eventually pulled away for a 27-13 win. Murray's non-contact injury came on a scramble. He crumpled to the ground and had to be carted off

  • The initial fear is a torn ACL, and he'll undergo an MRI today.
  • With Colt McCoy in at quarterback, Arizona hung around, and the game was tied 13-13 late in the third quarter before Raekwon McMillan scooped and scored DeAndre Hopkins' fumble. McCoy threw an interception on the ensuing drive, leading to a Pierre Strong touchdown plunge that opened a two-score lead for the visitors.
  • In addition to the touchdown and the interception, the Patriots racked up six sacks, half of which came from Josh Uche.

New England moved into the No. 7 seed in the AFC with the win:

It's an awful turn of events for what's been an up-and-down four seasons in the desert for Murray and head coach Kliff Kingsbury. The tandem finally posted a winning record last year but completely no-showed in a 34-11 Wild Card loss to the Rams. Then came Murray's massive contract extension, which included a controversial "independent study" clause that was quickly removed.

This season, Murray has posted career-worsts in passer rating, yards per attempt and touchdown rate, and he likely faces a lengthy recovery that could stretch into next season. Whether Kingsbury will be in Arizona for that remains TBD.

For New England, this was a much-needed win. Yes, the offense continues to underwhelm -- and the schedule down the stretch is tough -- but considering all that's gone wrong on that side of the ball, the fact that the Patriots are even in the playoff race is quite impressive. Their defense pitched a shutout in the second half of this game and New England has now scored a league-leading 85 points off of turnovers this season.

Braves acquire Gold Glove catcher Sean Murphy in trade ⚾


The Braves have made another prudent personnel move -- and this time it came via trade. Gold Glove-winning catcher Sean Murphy is headed from Oakland to Atlanta as part of a three-team trade. Here are the details:

  • Braves receive: C Sean Murphy
  • Brewers receive: C William Contreras, RHP Joel Payamps, LHP Justin Yeager
  • Athletics receive: OF Esteury Ruiz, LHP Kyle Muller, RHP Freddy Tarnok, C Manny Piña, RHP Royber Salinas

The Braves (and Brewers) earned "A" grades from R.J. Anderson:

  • Anderson: "In Murphy, the Braves obtained a 28-year-old catcher with three more seasons of remaining team control. Backstops who can contribute both at and behind the plate are always in high demand and short supply. Murphy is one of those. ... The Braves already had a sweet catching stable with Travis d'Arnaud, Contreras, and Piña, but you can understand why they made this deal, beginning with it being wise to upgrade whenever and wherever one can -- and especially with the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies adding stars left and right to their collections."

The A's, meanwhile, should change their nickname to a different letter of the alphabet following this move.

Honorable mentions

Not so honorable mentions

Texas head coach Chris Beard arrested on felony assault charge, suspended without pay


Texas men's basketball head coach Chris Beard was arrested early Monday morning for allegedly strangling a woman in his home. Beard, 49, is charged with Assault by Strangulation/Suffocation - Family Violence, a third-degree felony which can carry up to 10 years in prison.

(WARNING: The following details are disturbing.)

  • Police received a call shortly after midnight Monday morning. When police arrived, the woman said Beard, "choked me, threw me off the bed, bit me, bruises all over my leg, throwing me around and going nuts." She also said Beard impeded her breathing "for probably like five seconds" by putting his arm around her neck.
  • There is a protective order active until at least Feb. 10, 2023 stating Beard cannot be within 200 yards of the alleged victim or the residence at which the 911 call was made. Furthermore, Beard is strictly prohibited from communicating with the complainant in any type of threatening or intimidating manner. Beard is also not allowed to carry a firearm at this time.
  • Later Monday morning, Beard's attorney, Perry Minton said in part, "Coach Beard is 100 percent innocent of these charges."

Beard has been suspended without pay by Texas. The Longhorns -- the No. 7 team in the country -- beat Rice in overtime Monday with Rodney Terry serving as head coach. This is Beard's second season at Texas after five seasons at Texas Tech.

Pistons' Cade Cunningham to have season-ending shin surgery 🏀

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Pistons standout Cade Cunningham will undergo season-ending shin surgery. He is expected to make a full recovery and join the team for training camp ahead of next season.

Cunningham, 21, last played on Nov. 9. The first overall pick in 2021, Cunningham was named first-team All-Rookie last year after averaging 17.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists. In 12 games this season Cunningham had bumped up all three averages, with his points per game at 19.9.  Cunningham had ankle issues entering this season. He also had hip and ankle injuries as a rookie, when he played in just 64 games.

At 7-22, the Pistons have the NBA's worst record and were already front and center in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes, even before this news. While pairing Wembanyama -- a generational prospect -- with Cunningham sounds great, Cunningham is missing key time playing with the team's current core, notes NBA expert Jack Maloney.

  • Maloney: "Going into his third season he will have barely played alongside the likes of Jaden Ivey, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart and Killian Hayes. The Pistons were not expecting to win in any meaningful sense this season, but they would have hoped to figure out who was ready to be a long-term part of their core around Cunningham."

World Cup semifinals: Can Lionel Messi lead Argentina over Croatia? ⚽

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We're down to four teams left at the World Cup, with Argentina taking on Croatia today in the first semifinal match (France-Morocco is tomorrow).

Almost every time Lionel Messi is on the pitch, he's the biggest headline, and that's certainly the case in this one. Messi has four goals and two assists so far this tournament -- one behind the leader(s) in both categories -- and our Roger Gonzalez says at 35 years old, Messi is having the best international tournament of his career.

  • Gonzalez: "While the international pressure has always been on him, and with failure after failure, the free-flowing superstar feels like he is in a looser mindset than ever before in terms of feeling the weight of the country on his shoulder. ... This version of Messi, one that does not take the slightest amount of disrespect and celebrates each moment with his national team as if it were his last, has resulted in a player who is playing like there is nothing to lose and purely living in the moment."

In October, Messi said this would be his last World Cup,. Winning it would be quite the storybook ending. But Croatia has proved time and time again it's no easy out.

In 2018, Croatia won after trailing in the round of 16, quarterfinal and semifinal. This time around, the Vatreni have, again, come back in all of their knockout-stage games. The reigning runners-up have their own aging star as well in Luka Modric. Our experts have made their picks, which you can see here.

What we're watching Tuesday 📺

Argentina vs. Croatia, 2 p.m. on Fox
🏀 Warriors at Bucks, 7:30 p.m. on TNT
🏀 Memphis at No. 4 Alabama, 9 p.m. on ESPN2
🏒 Capitals at Blackhawks, 9 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Celtics at Lakers, 10 p.m. on TNT