2014 sports preview: Hope ahead for NYC teams

Jacoby Ellsbury

(Credit: Jacoby Ellsbury signed a seven-year deal with the Yankees this offseason. (Mike Stobe))

Fans of the Big Apple's major pro sports teams likely won't miss 2013, especially the latter half of the year.

The Yankees, Mets, Giants and Jets missed the postseason. The Knicks, Nets, Rangers and Islanders all made the playoffs in the spring, but are now in the bottom half of the NBA and NHL Eastern Conference standings.

It's pretty safe to say that 2014 offers a fresh start all around....

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The saddest sports cities in the U.S.

Cleveland Browns fans

(Credit: Cleveland Browns fans haven't celebrated a championship in nearly 50 years. (Getty))

Big Apple sports fans are used to winners, so a down year -- or even a rough few months -- can be pretty agonizing. On the bright side, things could be worse -- a lot worse. Misery loves company, so here are amNewYork's most moribund sports cities in the U.S. based on past disappointments, title droughts and recent struggles.


This city has been through the sports wringer....

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Jets chase playoff spot in Carolina

Muhammad Wilkerson

(Credit: Muhammad Wilkerson (96) leads the Jets with 10.0 sacks this season. (Lee S. Weissman))

The Jets' slim playoff hopes are still alive, but they've got their work cut out for them on Sunday in Carolina. Gang Green (6-7) can get back to .500 with a win, but the Panthers (9-4) are still fighting to lock up an NFC playoff spot. Here are three things that need to go right in order for the Jets to upset Carolina.

Pressure Newton

Dual-threat quarterback Cam Newton is on track for...

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Top managers of baseball's expansion era

Joe Torre

(Credit: Former Yankees manager Joe Torre will be joining the Baseball Hall of Fame. (Jim McIsaac))

The additions of Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox to the Baseball Hall of Fame by its expansion era committee were each no-brainers. The three are the winningest managers of their era (1973-present), with only fellow Hall of Famers Connie Mack and John McGraw ahead of them on the all-time list.

Of course, there’s more to measuring a manager’s success than total regular-season victories....

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Fordham travels to Towson as FSC title trek continues

Michael Nebrich

(Credit: Michael Nebrich has scored 40 total touchdowns this season. (MCT))

Fordham is among the final 16 teams vying for the FCS crown after subduing Sacred Heart last Saturday, 37-27, at home.

Next up for the Rams is a matchup with tough Towson Saturday in Maryland.

Fordham (12-1) will need another big game out of quarterback Michael Nebrich (3,986 passing yards, 481 rushing yards, 40 total touchdowns). The Rams have not lost a game which Nebrich started this...

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Malignaggi ready for battle with fellow Brooklynite Judah

Paulie Malignaggi

(Credit: Paulie Malignaggi, left, is a native of Bensonhurst. (Getty))

Paulie Malignaggi has known Zab Judah for nearly half of his life. They're friends, and they respect each other.

But that won't stop either Brooklyn-bred boxer from throwing down in the 12-round main event of Saturday's fight card at the Barclays Center, which airs at 8 p.m. on Showtime, in an unofficial battle to be king of Kings County. The bout will be contested at welterweight.


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Jets must stop skid, beat Raiders

Geno Smith

(Credit: Geno Smith has six turnovers in his last three games. (Thomas A. Ferrara))

The Jets (5-7) are in free fall, having lost three in a row. A loss to the Raiders (4-8) at home on Sunday surely dooms their playoff chances. Here's a look at what they must do to avoid another loss.

Get Geno on track

Rookie Geno Smith is running out of time to turn it around. People have all but forgotten his Monday night heroics in Atlanta two months ago and are stewing over his 38.2%...

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Giants charged up for San Diego

Justin Tuck

(Credit: Justin Tuck has 6.5 sacks this season. (Mike Stobe))

The Giants (5-7) look to make it six wins in their past seven as they visit the Chargers (5-7) in San Diego on Sunday. Here are three keys to the matchup.

Pressure Rivers

Justin Tuck (4.0 sacks) and the Giants pass rush finally put it all together last week against the Redskins. But Robert Griffin III has been more prone to sacks this season than Chargers QB Philip Rivers. Rivers has...

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Fontana: Yankees wise to move on from Cano

Robinson Cano

(Credit: Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Yankees. (Jim McIsaac))

First Brian McCann, then Jacoby Ellsbury, and now Kelly Johnson. It might be best if Yankee fans paid their respects to the No. 24 uniform because it looks like Robinson Cano won’t be coming back to the Bronx.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. Not when you factor in just how long a deal Cano wants at his age, 31.

Throw the absurd $300 million figure Cano reportedly was chasing. Even...

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Atlantic Division is worst in NBA, by far

rajon rondo

(Credit: A sidelined Rajon Rondo (EPA))

No need to sugarcoat this fact: The NBA’s Eastern Conference is terrible. Only the Pacers and Heat are more than a game over .500. Meanwhile, 12 of the 15 Western Conference teams entered last night’s games at .500 or better.

But even in the East, no division is as pathetic as the Atlantic, of which the Nets and Knicks are at the bottom. The Raptors, at four games under .500, currently hold...

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