Bundesliga scores, takeaways: Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund set up showdown; Kai Havertz shines again

Matchday 27 in the Bundesliga has wrapped up, and Bayern Munich maintained its four-point lead atop the table by putting five goals past Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday. Borussia Dortmund won as well, setting up what could be the season-defining game on Tuesday when Dortmund hosts Bayern. 

Meanwhile, no player in the league is playing better than Kai Havertz, and Werder Bremen has a lifeline when it comes to survival.  Here are the scores from this weekend and three takeaways. 

Bundesliga scores

Friday, May 22
Hertha Berlin 4, Union Berlin 0

Saturday, May 23
Leverkusen 3, Monchengladbach 1
Borussia Dortmund 2, Wolfsburg 0
Werder Bremen 1, Freiburg 0
Hoffenheim 1, Paderborn 1
Bayern Munich 5, Eintracht Frankfurt 2

Sunday, May 24
Augsburg 3, Schalke 0
RB Leipzig 5, Mainz 0
Cologne 2, Fortuna Dusseldorf 2

Tuesday could be clincher for Bayern

Bayern has avoided any slip-up since the return

MLB 2020 season update: Where things stand with owners set to make new economic proposal to players

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) are currently in negotiations concerning a return-to-play plan for the 2020 season. MLB was supposed to hold its Opening Day on March 26, but the spread of COVID-19 forced the league to suspend operations in the middle of spring training. Now the league and the Players Association are trying to come to an agreement for a shortened season, a process that began in early May.

That condensed campaign would likely start in July, have an expanded playoff format and feature a long list of safety protocols for both MLB players and team personnel. Here are some notable components of the proposal approved by team owners and sent to the players union:

82-game regional schedule and universal DH 30-man active rosters with a 20-player taxi squad 14 teams in the postseason

Will Juju Smith-Schuster be on the Steelers’ roster in 2021?

NFL: DEC 22 Steelers at JetsPhoto by Joshua Sarner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Entering the last year of his rookie contract, will 2020 Smith-Schuster’s last in the Steel City?

JuJu Smith-Schuster burst onto the scene as a second-round pick in 2017 with an unforgettable rookie season. From his bike being stolen, to his 97-yard touchdown reception, to his kickoff return, JuJu became an instant rock star in Pittsburgh. He followed his rookie campaign with an even more impressive 2018 season, eclipsing 100 catches and 1,000 yards receiving along with a second 97-yard touchdown. He was voted team MVP in 2018, something which could be argued began the downward spiral for former teammate Antonio Brown which landed him out of town and the NFL altogether.

However, 2019 was a season to forget for Smith-Schuster. He battled injuries throughout the year, including a concussion coupled with a knee injury which caused him to miss multiple games. He had career lows in catches, yards and touchdowns. Not all of his 2019 woes were his fault as the Steelers were playing with a quarterback carousel after Ben Roethlisberger went down in Week 2. Now, he is heading into the final year of his rookie contract and potentially his last season as a member of the Steelers.

Local Pittsburgh media seem to be torn on the future of No. 19 with the Steelers. On the outside, it seems as if there are more reporters who believe JuJu will not be with the Steelers after the 2020 season.

Throughout his career, JuJu has developed a large following which is not solely based on his on-field performance. Smith-Schuster is sponsored by companies like Pizza Hut, Adidas, Hyper X gaming headphones to name a few. His YouTube channel has nearly one million subscribers. A lot has been made about his social media presence and a percieved lack of focus for his actual job of playing football. The reality is we are in a different era when it comes to professional athletes and self-branding. Many seem to understandably be concerned with the optics of his activity, but a lot of the criticism of JuJu is unnecessary.

Smith-Schuster is still only 23 years old heading into his fourth NFL season and won’t turn 24 until November. Many question whether he can be a true number one receiver. With 2019 being the first season JuJu played without Antonio Brown coupled with injuries and spotty quarterback play, it is unfair to judge him based on 2019 alone. The Steelers fully expect Ben Roethlisberger to return for Week 1 and possibly be an even better version of himself post-elbow surgery. This will surely help No. 19 regain his 2107-2018 form along with some of the offensive pieces added in the offseason.

To me, the answer to Smith-Schuster’s future in Pittsburgh is a no-brainer. JuJu should be back in 2021 and for many years to come. I can see the Steelers wanting to play this season out before making a decision, but I am a big believer he is much closer to the player we saw his first two seasons rather than last year. I fully expect the former second-round pick to have a major bounce-back season. It is very hard to believe the Steelers would let a player who is entering his fourth season and has yet to fully hit his prime simply walk away. Time will tell whether or not Smith-Schuster will be with the Steelers long term. If I were a betting man, I would say JuJu will be back in the black and gold in 2021 and beyond.

N.Y. governor: Pro teams can return to facilities

12:46 PM ET

Associated Press

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said teams in his state can return to their facilities for training after a pause of more than two months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Starting today, all the New York professional sports leagues will be able to begin training camps,” the Democratic governor said during a news conference Sunday.

The New York City area was one of the hardest-hit parts of the U.S., but COVID-19 deaths and new infections in the state have been trending downward.

Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NHL are discussing the resumption of their seasons with their players’ unions.

“I believe that sports that can come back without having people in the stadium, without having people in the arena — do it! Do it!” Cuomo said. “Work out the economics, if you can. We want you up. We want people

Former NFL QB Ryan Leaf arrested on misdemeanor domestic battery charge

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Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf was arrested on a misdemeanor domestic battery charge in Palm Desert, California, on Friday.

Leaf was arrested around 2 p.m. local time and was released from Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning, California, on $5,000 bail, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said Saturday. Authorities declined to release any additional information about his arrest. Leaf is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.

Leaf was the No. 2 overall selection out of Washington State in the 1998 NFL draft by the San Diego Chargers. Leaf played just three seasons in the NFL, throwing for 14 touchdowns and 36 interceptions, and earned the dubious distinction as one of the biggest draft busts in league history

After his tumultuous NFL tenure, Leaf’s personal life fell apart. In 2009, Leaf was indicted on drug and burglary charges in Texas. He spent two years in prison after being arrested in 2012 for breaking into a home in Montana to steal prescription drugs, and violating his Texas probation.

Leaf spent the 2019 college football season working as an analyst for ESPN.

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It is looking more likely there will be an NFL season in 2020

NFL: SEP 15 Seahawks at SteelersPhoto by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There might not be fans, but it’s reasonable to expect football to return this fall

Throughout all of the NFL news coverage since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, there has been an underlying concern that all of the hype would be for nothing. The fate of the season itself was in doubt.

It was a taboo topic, as not many sports fans and writers wanted to bring it up while sharing their predictions for the upcoming season. When the NFL draft rolled around, there was a nice break from the drama of everyday life. But at the back of all of our minds was one question: Would the newcomers even get a chance to play this year?

Coronavirus has already affected each rookie’s entrance into the league, and it will surely impact their readiness to play once the season actually starts. At the very least there is a growing chance that there will be season, to some extent, this year.

One of the most telling signs that there will be a season are the actions of the NFL and its owners, who have been preparing for a season long before it seemed reasonable to expect one. They conducted the draft as usual, released the schedule on time, and even included a full slate of preseason games. The Hall of Fame game between the Steelers and Cowboys is tentatively planned, but the fact that it is even on the schedule in the first place shows the optimism there is a chance of it actually happening.

The NFL also went ahead with starting to open up their facilities again on May 19th. Even though it was only minimal capacity, it was still a step towards opening in full.

Some of the state governors most behind the coronavirus lockdowns, such as California’s Gavin Newsom and New York’s Andrew Cuomo, have seemingly changed their minds in regards to the virus, with Newsom stating that professional sports could return to his state in June. Dr. Anthony Fauci, a prominent member of the federal government’s coronavirus response team, has also begun to support reopening states. Even though it was obvious that states such as Florida would be more than supportive of football returning this fall, the nationally spread-out nature of the NFL would need states with more stringent lockdown orders, such as California, to reopen. If so, this could allow the league to return across the board.

With the MLB, NBA, and NHL all considering returning at some point this year, the NFL will be far from the only sports league attempting to play in 2020. Even though they will need to start up training camps sooner than later if they want to start on time, the NFL will be able to watch how the other leagues succeed and fail ahead of them to properly plan their upcoming season. The NCAA is beginning to allow teams to practice, while both the UFC and WWE have recently returned without fans.

The Steelers began selling individual tickets on May 22nd, but only at 50% of the available seats. This understandably points to a season, but with minimal to no fans.

But what could hinder the league opening on time this year?

A resurgence in the virus would definitely give every state and corporation second thoughts about reopening, as would an excessive amount of positive tests among the athletes and team personnel. Federal and state policies are continuing to trend towards allowing sports back this year, but opinions still could change.

Even though the NFL season starts in September, teams need time to practice and solidify their roster long before Week 1. If voluntary workouts, training camp, or the preseason are pushed back too far, it could have negative implications for the regular season starting on time, if at all.

Each day we are trudging closer to sports being back, but the actual timeframe is still very much in question.

This article is not to debate whether the NFL should or shouldn’t reopen, but rather if they will or won’t. Coronavirus concerns aside, the league is a money-making business, and their decisions will be influenced by the bottom line. Owners are bracing to lose millions of dollars if fans can’t attend games, which would worsen by a lot if the season is flat-out cancelled. They will do whatever they can to make sure their teams play this year.

The stands may be empty this year, but the field certainly won’t. There’s every reason to expect an NFL season in 2020.

With an expanded playoff format in 2020, could an entire division qualify for the postseason?

NFL: JAN 29 Super Bowl LIV - Commissioners Press ConferencePhoto by Rich Graessle/PPI/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Now that there are three wildcard spots up for grabs in each conference, could one division hoard them all?

I was recently asked on a podcast about the probability of a single division having every team make the postseason now that the NFL has expanded their playoffs to seven teams per conference. It was such an intriguing question, we waited a week in order to dedicate part of a show to the answer. After diving into the numbers, the answer is simply “possible, but not probable.”

To determine the likelihood of the last place team in a division still being able to grab a wild-card spot, it comes down to three questions. What record would be required to earn the final playoff spot? How often does the last place team in a division meet this record? Looking back at previous seasons, would this have already happened?

In order to get to the conclusion, let’s look at these questions individually. First, it was in 2002 when the NFL went to four divisions of four teams in each conference. Since this is the case, we will only be looking back through the 2002 season.


What record would be required to earn the final playoff spot?

Although we can simply look at the final playoff position in each conference over the last 18 seasons, it would be much more beneficial to look at the teams who would have earned the final playoff position had there been three wild cards available. We know the Steelers would have been the final team in the playoffs in 2019 with an 8-8 record under the new rules. With no team ever possibly earning the wildcard with a losing record during this time period, 8-8 is the lowest record which would have made the playoffs over the last 18 years.

Although the mark of eight 8-8 is the floor for making the playoffs, even expanding to an extra team per division, it would have happened almost 25% of the time. Of the 36 teams who would have made the playoffs had they’ve been expanded to seven in 2002, eight of those teams would have held a record of .500 on the season. For reference sake, the Steelers would have been three of those eight teams who would have made the playoffs at 8-8 in 2019, 2013, and 2012. The other five instances all came from the NFC.


How often does the last place team in a division meet this record?

So now that the standard of a .500 record has been established to reasonably make the playoffs as a number seven seed, are there any cases where a team finished last in their division with a record of 8-8? With 10 games for each team being out of the division, it’s possible for a team to lose every divisional game and still go .500 on the season. Although this is possible, what is more likely is the division is split very evenly with not much difference between the first place and last place finisher.

Going back to 2002, The team finishing the last in the division yet having an 8-8 record has happened five times. What is extremely interesting about these instances is, first, it has not happened in over 10 years. The last team to go 8-8 and finished in last place in their division was the 2008 Washington Redskins. The other interesting fact about teams finishing 8–8 and coming in last place in their division is the four remaining times happened in years where it occurred twice. In 2007, the Houston Texans finished 8-8 in the AFC South yet came in fourth place in the division while the Philadelphia Eagles did the same in the NFC East. The other two cases came in 2002 both in the AFC as Buffalo and Kansas City each finished .500 and yet finished in last place in the AFC East and AFC West respectively.


Looking back at previous seasons, would this have already happened?

Although I could have answered this question first, all of the other interesting information would have been an afterthought. So, cutting right to the chase—no, none of the teams since 2002 who finished last place in their division would have made the playoffs had they been using the new format for 2020.

Of the five teams highlighted who came in last in their division with an 8-8 record, none would have made the playoffs although one came extremely close. First of all, the 2008 Redskins along with the 2002 Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs were all .500 in last place in their divisions. None of these teams were even close as the third place finisher in their division did not make the playoffs either. As for the Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles in 2007, this was a very interesting year when it came to the playoffs.

In order for all four teams to make the playoffs from a division, it would first have to be a year in which both wildcard positions went to the same division. This has happened seven times since 2002. The AFC North sent three teams to the playoffs in 2014 and 2011. Most recently, it was the NFC South who was represented with both wildcard spots in 2017. But in 2007, which happens to be a year two last-place finishers of a division finished 8-8, both of their divisions sent three teams to the postseason. The Houston Texans were two games out of grabbing the seventh seed as the Cleveland Browns finished the season 10-6 and yet did not make the playoffs.

The closest an NFL team has ever come to finishing last in their division and placing seventh in the conference was the 2007 Philadelphia Eagles. At 8-8, they were in a three-way tie with the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals when it came to the seventh seed. After applying all the tiebreakers, the Vikings finished just ahead of the Eagles due to their conference winning percentage tiebreaker.


So is it possible for a division to have every team make the playoffs with the new format? Absolutely. Is it very likely this will occur? Not at all. In fact, it would be another statistic which has yet to happen had the playoffs been expanded in this form in 2002. But much like the Pittsburgh Steelers winning the Super Bowl in 2005 as a sixth seed, it has never happened until somebody does it.

Although this is an interesting talking point, Steelers’ Nation should have a little to fear. The Steelers have not finished in last place in their division since 1988. So, if a team is fighting for the postseason while at the bottom of their division, hopefully it is not the Steelers who are in the conversation.