Entries by: Ryan Jaquith

Inter-sport Trading: The Dream of the Hometown Fan

Written by :
Published on : May 19, 2017

 

While there certainly are some exceptions, for the most part I think sports fans grow up rooting for their local teams, riding out the highs and lows while sticking with those teams no matter how bad the tough times can get. I mean, take it from me, I’ll devote every season to my Detroit Lions even after their disastrous 0-16 season.

 

I would venture to guess that most fans are like me in that sense. Growing up here in the Metro Detroit area, we are fortunate to have a franchise in all of the four major sports, and each one is the team I stand behind. If it’s the fall you can spot me wearing that Matt Stafford #9 jersey, in the winter months there I am hoping for the return of the glory days for my Red Wings and Pistons, and come summer you can find me enjoying a cold one while sitting behind home plate looking at a re-surging Detroit skyline while rooting for arguably the greatest hitter of my generation, Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers.

 

 

Being a Detroit sports fan has blessed me with a lot of great memories as I have been able to witness and celebrate multiple championships courtesy of the Red Wings and Pistons, and have been along for the ride on some close calls with the Detroit Tigers in recent years. However, I think the dream for any sports fan is for all of their teams to be at the top of their game every season, or at the same time, and with that wish came an idea that I envisioned many years ago — the idea of inter-sport trading.

 

Now, understand this about the idea, I do realize it is essentially impossible given the fact that these teams don’t in fact belong to the cities they represent. Owning a sports franchise is a business and all businesses of course are in the business of making a profit. Therefore, even though Detroit has four franchises, they are not owned by the same individual and therefore they would more than likely never be interested in my idea. However, we all can dream right? So here is my dream, the dream of the hometown fan.

 

With the NBA Lottery complete, the Boston Celtics are on the clock with the #1 pick and are in a prime position to remain a contender for years to come. Currently, the Boston Celtics are heading into the Eastern Conference Finals as the #1 seed and therefore in a great place going forward building around guys like Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford. Also in the Boston area, you have a perennial power in the New England Patriots, and even the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins have enjoyed recent success. All four franchises have won the championship in their respective sports in the past decade which is something to be really excited about if you are a Boston fan, and something that fans of other cities may wish to experience themselves.

 

 

In this example, seeing as how the Celtics are in a great spot contending for an NBA Championship, the Patriots are coming off a Super Bowl season and look to be ready to contend for another this season, and the Red Sox early on are hoping to be in the World Series conversation come October but currently find themselves in 3rd place in the AL East. If inter-sport trading were a thing, I would bet many Red Sox fans would definitely entertain the idea of being able to dangle that #1 pick that the Boston Celtics may not have much use for and trade it to another NBA franchise who could desperately use that #1 pick. Now the question is what’s the return for a Boston fan in this deal? Well, suppose the NBA team that receives the #1 pick is the Chicago Bulls. Chicago is rumored to be possibly facing a scenario where they move Jimmy Butler looking to shake their roster up and therefore a #1 pick would help that process. In return, coming off a World Series title, the Chicago Cubs are loaded with talent and perhaps could afford to lose a spare part in their rotation or lineup to give to the Boston Red Sox.

 

So in this scenario, you have the Boston Celtics still playing at a high level with salary cap space and perhaps not much need for a high draft pick at this time and the Red Sox would boost their roster via the return from the Cubs. If you’re a Chicago fan, you just gained a #1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft and potentially still have a very deep roster where such a move wouldn’t affect the World Series chances for the Cubs.

 

 

However, this scenario does pose a difficult issue considering Chicago is one of many cities or states where two or more franchises reside in the same city or state. For example, South siders and North siders may both love their Bulls but will have very different opinions of the Cubs with the White Sox also having loyal fanbases in the area. Therefore, half of the city would not be in support of inter-sport trading.

 

In another scenario that ultimately inspired the idea for me, we have to go back to 2003. My beloved Detroit Pistons were on the cusp of greatness vying for an NBA Championship with a core group that featured Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, and Tayshaun Prince. The lottery balls that year fell in Detroit’s favor landing them the #2 overall pick. However, with LeBron James going #1, the Pistons faced a dilemma of who to take with that pick. Hindsight is of course 20/20 but they definitely struck out with their selection in the long run, but in the short run it may not have been the worst thing in the world.

 

The Pistons went on to select Darko Milicic, and he rarely saw the court during his tenure in Detroit but during his rookie campaign, that may not have been the worst thing. The Pistons had a great starting five and a good group of role players off the bench that seemed to form a perfect team, and it’s possible that even with future superstars in Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony available in that draft, their best chance to win an NBA title in 2004 was with a guy like Darko who didn’t get in the way by stealing minutes from the other Pistons.

 

Darko-2003-NBA-Draft

 

In the short run therefore, drafting Darko may have not been a horrible option, while in the long run it of course looks like one of the worst draft picks in this history of the NBA as Darko Milicic went on to retire from basketball at age 27. However, I think the best scenario would have been to trade the pick because quite frankly, the Pistons just didn’t need it. This is where I drew the inspiration for my idea of inter-sport trading. The Pistons could have found a suitor in the NBA who would have jumped at the opportunity to get guys like Wade, Bosh or Melo and in return another franchise in Detroit could have reaped the benefits from it.

 

Prime example being the Indiana Pacers. The Pistons went on to beat Indiana in the Eastern Conference Finals that year thanks in part to the block heard round the world when Tayshaun Prince ran down Reggie Miller swatting him at the rim. With Reggie set to retire, Dwyane Wade would have been a perfect replacement in Indiana had they traded for our #2 pick. Or imagine the frontcourt of Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal with Ron Artest at the small forward position. Just down the road in Indiana, the Indianapolis Colts were riding high with Peyton Manning winning 3 straight NFL MVP’s from 2003-2005 and went on to win 12+ games in seven straight years beginning in 2003. The Colts went on to win the Super Bowl in 2006 and perhaps back when the Pistons could have traded that #2 pick the Colts would have been willing to ship their #1 and #2 or a pro bowl quality player to the Detroit Lions.

 

Again, the idea of inter-sport trading would never work, I get it. Unless teams became property of the cities themselves or owners bought the rights to every pro franchise in that particular city, no owner would sacrifice his own business by helping another business. But a sports fan can still dream right?

 

 


Can We Hit the Mute Button on LaVar Ball Already?

Written by :
Published on : March 24, 2017

 

 

In the 2004 movie Napolean Dynamite, the main character’s uncle, Uncle Rico, has some classic lines that depict a type of person that chances are we all know, or have had conversations with at some point or another. In the movie, Uncle Rico, in an effort to showcase his arm strength, claims to have the ability to throw a football over a set of mountains, and then later on while trying to convince others of his prior success on the gridiron, adamantly believes if only his coach would have put him in for the fourth quarter, they’d have been state champs, no doubt in his mind.

 

We all know “that guy” or have known “that guy” at some point in our lives. Whether it’s the varsity jacket wearing guy some five-plus years after graduation, or the trash-talking guy who you had to go back and check your yearbooks to make sure he was actually in fact on the team. All too often these people are simply attention seekers, living for that next “like” on their Facebook status or Instagram post, probably while trash talking on Twitter at professional athletes when they don’t make the game-winning shot or the needed clutch hit.

 

On television, we have unfortunately seen a rise in this type of behavior, by hosts who seem to believe that by saying the most outlandish things they will generate conversation, web-hits, ratings, and therefore attention. A few years back, one of the biggest clowns of sports talk, Skip Bayless, was basically owned on ESPN’s First Take by Detroit’s own, Jalen Rose, when Skip had compared his own playing style in high school to that of “Pistol Pete” Maravich. Rose came on the show and embarrassed Skip by pointing out that while playing junior varsity as a junior, Skip averaged just 1.4 points per game during his high school career, and then threw shade Skip’s way by giving him a more fitting nickname, “Water Pistol Pete.”

 

 

Now, I couldn’t care less about Skip’s high school statistics, or whether he even played high school basketball to begin with. Hell I didn’t, but this won’t be about which NBA superstar my driveway basketball skills most closely mirrored either. Instead, what I do care about is the fact that Skip Bayless for example, and the conversations or run-ins with “that guy” that we all know in our lives, continuously spit out these horrendous takes on sports, willing to take such asinine (to quote Stephen A. Smith) claims to their graves if need be for the sake of trying to catch our eyes and ears.

 

Fast-forwarding some fifteen years, former varsity jacket wearing guy is now in his mid-to-late thirties. Married, three children, and perhaps a few waist sizes larger, the varsity jacket now hangs deep in the closet or packed away in the basement somewhere, replaced instead by a newer, fresher crowning achievement, his teenage kids. Yeah, we’ve all seen this guy too. This guy thinks his kids are the best on the team, they’re going to be the superstars, and the only thing that could possibly keep them from getting there is either bad coaching, weak teammates, a referee with an agenda, or a horrible combination of all three.

 

 

This is the parent that yells the loudest from the sidelines, typically standing very close to the field or court, often even right next to the head coach, while giving him his two cents. He’s the guy that coaches his kids from the sidelines, even if that direction is opposite of the instructions given out by the actual head coach. This guy is out there, and for those of you who have never met this guy, let me introduce you to LaVar Ball.

 

LaVar Ball is the father of three very talented teenage basketball players from California who are becoming very popular in the sports world. However, they usually have to play second fiddle to the headliner in the family, their father. Eldest son, Lonzo is a dynamic freshman at UCLA, leading his team into the Sweet 16 of this year’s NCAA Tournament, and is projected to potentially be the overall #1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft. LaVar’s two younger sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, are currently high school teammates, and both are following their older brother’s footsteps by verbally committing to play for UCLA.

 

 

Since LaVar’s kids have burst onto the scene, LaVar has been the one hogging the spotlight by making all of the headlines, and rarely for anything good. Trying to create a brand centered around his kids with the hopes of landing the richest endorsement deals in the history of sports is his goal, however while driving the car that manages and acts as the PR rep for his kids, so far it seems about as wise as handing the keys to your drunkest friend on a Saturday night bar crawl.

 

LaVar has already said that all three of his sons will be one-and-done players at UCLA immediately declaring themselves for the NBA Draft after just one season in Westwood. While Lonzo is a lock to make such dreams come true, his two younger brothers are anything but a sure thing. With just a 4-star and 3-star recruiting ranking, the two brothers should probably pump the brakes on the assumption that they’ll blossom into the next big thing, even just at the college level. But of course, let me backtrack a bit, LaVar should pump the brakes because after all, again, he is the one driving this car.

 

Ever since the NBA created the “one-and-done” rule which requires high school basketball players to enroll at a college or play overseas for a year before entering the NBA draft. We have seen dozens of players like Lonzo try their hand at the pro game after their freshman season. With Lonzo receiving comparisons to Jason Kidd’s size and style of play, few doubt he will find success in the league, however just how good will he be is the multi-million dollar question. Fortunately, LaVar already knows not only how good he will be, but also how good he is right now.

 

 

A month or so ago, LaVar let the NBA world know that his son, Lonzo, would only play for the hometown Los Angeles Lakers, which he later, backtracked on and re-worded—kind of. Raising on that, LaVar went even further this week to say that if drafted by the woeful Lakers, his impact would rival the impact that Laker legend Magic Johnson had on the franchise. Yes, that Magic Johnson. Three-time MVP winner, Hall of Famer, NBA champion, the orchestrator of the Showtime Lakers.

 

Magic wasn’t the only former NBA MVP LaVar compared his son to, or even ranked below his son. LaVar also said this year that currently, Lonzo is a better player than Golden State Warriors’ guard, Stephen Curry. Doing one better, saying that if Lonzo and Steph swapped places, there is no way that Steph would have been able to get UCLA to where they are right now, and that Golden State would be better off with Lonzo as well.  This topic always makes me shake my head when people want to ask the annual question, “Is (insert dominant college team) better than (insert worst team in the NBA, NFL, NHL, etc)?” The answer of course is always no, and it’s always going to be no. And in this circumstance asking as if the NBA’s MVP of the past two seasons wouldn’t do better than Lonzo is at UCLA right now? Just stop.

 

Naturally, LaVar’s ridiculous takes don’t stop there, nor do they stop with just his oldest son Lonzo. LaVar, a former college hooper himself, can’t go without letting us know just how good he was back in his day as well. You see, just because that old varsity jacket doesn’t fit anymore, doesn’t mean the memories aren’t there (no matter how foggy and embellished they have now become). LaVar Ball played one season with Washington State in college averaging 2 points and 2 rebounds per game. Now let’s be clear about one thing, in order to even make a Division 1 college team let alone even get some minutes here and there, suggests you have to be a good player, far better than the average college student. That being said, when LaVar Ball looks back to that time of his life and tries to tell us he could beat Michael Jordan one-on-one, I can’t help but wonder if this man is sending out a cry for help. By the way, while Ball was putting up 2 and 2 each night up in Washington, Michael Jordan was averaging 35 points a night for the Chicago Bulls.

 

 

I am not sure if Jordan has responded to such incredulous claims. My thought is maybe he is doing what we all should be doing when LaVar speaks, and that is to simply not even acknowledge the unbelievable things that have been coming out of his mouth. However, one NBA star couldn’t ignore LaVar’s “hot takes.” As the face of the NBA, LeBron James recently heard his children’s names being talked about by Ball in regards to his claim that LeBron’s kids will have the added pressure of having to live up to the high standards set by their father. LeBron responded by telling Ball to “Keep my kids’ names out of your mouth. Keep my family out of your mouth. This is dad to dad. It’s a problem now.”

 

LaVar Ball of course deflected the criticism, refusing to apologize and claiming his statements were not malicious and that LeBron was being too “touchy” on the subject. While he may be right, LaVar has been speeding steadily down a very slippery slope for a long time now and while it won’t affect himself, it could be already tarnishing the brand he is just starting to try and create for his kids.

 

With his three sons all showing the potential to have long-lasting basketball careers, LaVar is doing everything humanly possible to make sure that you know the name “Ball.” Unfortunately though, it seems to me his number one priority is that you also remember to put “LaVar” in front of it.

 

 


Potential Upsets for Round 1 of the NCAA Tournament

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Published on : March 16, 2017

 

While the weather across much of the Midwest and Northeastern parts of the country would suggest otherwise, spring is just around the corner here in the United States and that can only mean one thing—March Madness has arrived.

 

A couple of storylines take center stage in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Defending champion Villanova looks to become just the 3rd back-to-back champ in the past 25 years, Northwestern makes its NCAA Tournament debut after making the tourney for the first time in their history, and possibly the feel good story of the tournament, Michigan battles on after quite the scare when their team plane heading to Washington D.C. for the Big Ten Tournament slid off the runway. Michigan went on to win the conference tournament and isn’t a team anybody wants to see right now.

 

But of course, as always with the NCAA Tournament, new storylines seem to be born every round, and upsets can come from anywhere, just ask Michigan State. So as you take a final look at your bracket, desperate to find that Cinderella that’s going to keep your bracket from being busted during the opening weekend, take a look at these potential underdogs that can make you look like a true Bracketologist.

 

For starters, with all the magic that is March Madness, it’s hard to define what is and what isn’t an upset, who is or who isn’t a Cinderella. For the sake of this article, nothing under an 11-seed will qualify as an upset so if you want to boast around the office about how you predicted a 9 or a 10-seed winning on opening weekend, save it.

 

Here are my 5 most likely big upsets for Round 1 (Thursday and Fridays games).

 

5. (#13) East Tennessee State over (#4) Florida

 

The Gators are the last team to win back-to-back NCAA Championships when they did it in the early 2000’s, and are set to face the defending champs Villanova in the Sweet 16, should both teams make it that far. However, both teams would be wise to not look ahead to that potential matchup as they both have a tough road to the Sweet 16. For Florida, they better not look beyond even their first game as East Tennessee State is looking to steal one. The Gators are without their big man in the middle (John Egbunu) which takes away a dynamic shot blocker. On the other side, East Tennessee State has the ability to shut down the paint defensively and they have a big-time scorer in T.J. Cromer.

 

Upset confidence points: 3/10

 

4. (#12) Florida Gulf Coast over (#5) Florida State

 

Who doesn’t remember when Florida Gulf Coast shocked the world by defeating 2-seed Georgetown in 2013, introducing us all to “Dunk City?” After making the tournament last year as well, Florida Gulf Coast is becoming even more of a household name this time of year and are set for a very interesting all-Florida matchup against Florida State in Orlando. Oh how the selection committee has a way of putting these regions together. Florida State was a team I loved going into the season, as I expected them to be major players in the ACC. After tying for 2nd place in the conference, the Seminoles lost a close game to eventual conference tournament champion, Duke in the ACC Tournament. The dynamic duo of Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Dwayne Bacon can light up the gym but the Seminoles all too often get their lights knocked out when the spotlight is on.

 

Upset confidence points: 4/10

 

3. (#12) UNC Wilmington over (#5) Virginia

 

A year ago, UNC Wilmington almost pulled off a major upset when they gave Duke all it could handle before the Blue Devils eventually pulled out an opening round win. One year later, UNC Wilmington is looking for redemption against another ACC foe. Coach Tony Bennett has built a fantastic program at Virginia in recent years centered around defense. The Cavaliers are not flashy and may even have a tendency to put you to sleep, but for the past few years it has gotten results. UNC Wilmington is the exact opposite as they get up and down the floor quickly. This is your classic “something has to give” matchup as two very opposite styles try to get their opponent to play to their pace. UNC Wilmington protects the ball well, and attacks the offensive glass. Second chance points for the Seahawks and Virginia’s inability to match offensively I think is the difference.

 

Upset confidence points 5/10

 

2. (#11) Rhode Island over (#6) Creighton

 

A couple of smaller schools match up here in the Midwest Region on Friday afternoon with the Rhode Island Rams and the Creighton Blue Jays. For both teams, they entered the season with very lofty expectations and both had disappointing finishes. For Rhode Island, a preseason ranking was followed by a shaky of 10-6, but they wound up winning 14 of their final 17 games. On the contrary, the Blue Jays got off to an incredible 18-1 start but limped to the finish line going 7-8 down the stretch. The downfall seemed to begin when point guard Maurice Watson (who at the time led the NCAA with 8.8 assists per game) went down with a torn ACL. Sometimes in March, it’s all about who enters the Big Dance with more momentum and the Blue Jays seem to have the momentum of a flightless bird.

 

Upset confidence points: 6/10

 

1. (#12) Middle Tennessee State over (#5) Minnesota

 

With possibly the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history under their belts after defeating 2-seed Michigan State last year, the Blue Raiders are out to show the world they aren’t a fluke. While they flew under the radar a bit last year, Middle Tennessee State probably has a better team this year and won’t be satisfied with just a first round victory this time around. Giddy Potts and Reggie Upshaw were enough to knock off the Spartans last year but the addition of JaCorey Williams gives them the realistic possibility of making a Sweet 16 run. Minnesota has enjoyed quite a turnaround this year as the Golden Gophers went from an 8-23 season last year, and having only 2 conference wins to finishing 4th in the Big Ten this year with a 23-8 record overall. Richard Pitino has a very talented young team led by point guard Nate Mason who has big game ability. Minnesota however does not have a ton of depth and the Red Raiders will look to expose that by getting the Golden Gophers into foul trouble. Expect to see Middle Tennessee State wreck another Big Ten team’s season, and avoid seeing them wreck your bracket again. Go with Middle Tennessee State.

 

Upset confidence points 7/10

 

So there you have it. Five big games to watch that have the potential to either make or break your bracket. Tread carefully, but if you’re looking for a little more spice or sizzle for your bracket, needing to find some upsets to shake things up, then look no further. A 12-seed over a 5-seed is almost a gimme as is the popular 11-seed over a 6-seed. This year I see a great chance to have as many as three 5-seeds fall. When the dust settles I think the cream will rise to the top and the Final Four won’t be anything too surprising but the opening weekend could be one to remember. Good luck and enjoy the dance.

 

 

 


A Look Back at My “Ten Bold Predictions for the 2015 NFL Season”

Written by :
Published on : March 3, 2016

 

 

 

Back in mid-August, I wrote a piece giving ten bold predictions I expected we would all see happen during this past NFL season. In this article, (which can be found here) I mentioned all of the obvious predictions like, “Who will win the Super Bowl?”, “Who will win MVP?”, as well as some other more “out there” ideas. So with the Denver Broncos winning Super Bowl 50 about a month ago, (spoiler alert: I didn’t get that one right) and thus concluding the 2015 NFL season, I figured now would be a good time to check back into that crystal ball and see how my picks turned out.

 

1. Adrian Peterson wins the rushing title

Result: CORRECT

 

I got off to a good start here as AP led the NFL with 1,485 rushing yards, edging out Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin. While drafting him didn’t help me win my fantasy football team this year, I had a feeling Peterson would come back strong this year after being suspended for much of last season and he helped the Vikings earn their first playoff spot since 2009.

 

2. The New England Patriots will finish 2nd in the AFC East

Result: WRONG

 

Well this took a quick turn. I think what makes this worse is I predicted Miami to win the division. Gross. Let me explain my rationale here though. At the time this article was published, Tom Brady was still set to be suspended for the first 4 games and I figured with Jimmy Garoppolo under center for those games, a 2-2 start was the best case scenario for the Patriots. If that were the case, New England finishes 10-6 instead of 12-4 and who knows what happens seeing as how the Jets also finished 10-6.

 

3. Ray Rice will be back in the NFL

Result: WRONG

 

I took a loss on this prediction as well and I still am a little bit surprised about it, especially once Greg Hardy put an NFL uniform back on. Now I fully understand the severity of what Ray Rice did and I don’t by any means condone it, but after being suspended for all of last season, I figured someone would be willing to take the chance and may have needed a veteran back. The Cowboys made the most sense to me when I made the prediction, fittingly, they wound up being the ones to sign Hardy.

 

4. Jameis Winston and Amari Cooper win NFC/AFC Offensive Rookie of the Year

Result: WRONG-ish 

 

So the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Award went to Todd Gurley, and rightfully so as he finished third in the league in rushing yards. However, I feel like I should get half-credit or something because Jameis Winston won the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year at the same NFL Honors Award Show. Amari Cooper had a solid rookie year with Oakland as well.

 

5. Leonard Williams and Landon Collins win AFC/NFC Denfensive Rookie of the Year

Result: WRONG

 

Kansas City corner Marcus Peters won this award by a landslide after leading the NFL with 8 interceptions and helping to make the Chief’s defense one of the best in the league. Leonard Williams was third in the voting, and according to Mel Kiper Jr should have won, so I guess I had someone in my corner.

 

6. The Carolina Panthers will have the biggest increase in wins from 2014

Result: CORRECT

 

By finishing 15-1, Carolina easily had the league’s best record as they narrowly missed perfection during the regular season. Following a dreadful, 7-8-1 record last year, (granted they still made the playoffs in an embarrassing NFC South) I figured at least 11 wins was very realistic for the Panthers. Instead, Cam decided to put up video game numbers and they won 15. Either way, a win for me.

 

7. The Dallas Cowboys will have the biggest drop off in wins from 2014

Result: CORRECT

 

I knew the loss of DeMarco Murray would hurt this team…well I guess the loss of Tony Romo and Dez Bryant for much of the season didn’t help either, but regardless, I knew this team wasn’t duplicating its 12-4 season from 2014. While I didn’t predict 4-12, the Cowboys still had the biggest drop off in the wins column.

 

8. Peyton Manning will retire following the 2015 season

Result: To be determined…

 

Despite Peyton’s best efforts, the Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl last month after he had an absolutely miserable regular season. Easily his worst professional season, and one that even caused him to miss a stretch of games late due to injuries. Peyton came back just in time for the playoffs and looked rather pedestrian in the process. However, because of an absolutely dominating defense, Denver made it so Peyton could ride off into the sunset a now two-time Super Bowl champion. The question still remains as to whether he will take that ride or jump back into the saddle with another NFL team.

 

9. Aaron Rodgers will win MVP, again

Result: WRONG

 

After a 6-0 start to the season, the Packers fell flat after their bye week and never really turned it around. Aaron Rodgers never looked like himself. While his stats were nowhere near, say Peyton’s, they weren’t what we have come to expect from him. Again, a 31 touchdown, 8 interception season isn’t anything to sneeze at, but he had his lowest QB Rating since becoming a starter in Green Bay. Cam Newton wound up dabbin’ his way to the NFL MVP Award in what was a fantastic year for him.

 

10. The Green Bay Packers will defeat the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl 50

Result: WRONG

 

Ugh, this one is right up there with picking New England to lose the AFC East. First, allow me to defend myself a bit with my reasoning here. Jordy Nelson tore his ACL just days after this article was written, which certainly hurt Green Bay going forward. For Indianapolis, Andrew Luck missed most of the season as well, but frankly they were better off without him (record-wise) as Hasselbeck wound up winning 5 games for the Colts, while Luck finished 2-5 on the year.

 

Overall Record: 3 CORRECT, 5 WRONG, 1 WRONG-ish, (1 TBD)

 

So there you have it. Not the best showing, but with only 90% of precincts reporting (a little election pun for you), I still have a shot to steal one more if Peyton would just make up his damn mind. So help me out, Peyton. Grab a few of those Budweisers you were talking about after the big game, open another Papa John’s Pizzeria, and just enjoy what retirement has to offer: Growing thick beards, Wrangler commercials, and copper sleeves for aching joints. Hey, it’s working for Brett Favre.

 

 


SBS Stadium Series: Chauncey Billups’ Jersey Retirement Night at The Palace

Written by :
Published on : February 13, 2016

 

 

Wednesday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills was a very special night for the Detroit Pistons, their fans, and for me personally, with the jersey retirement of former Piston Chauncey Billups. Like all of us here at SBS, I am a diehard sports fan, but I’m also a hometown guy who roots for his hometown teams. Born in 1986, and growing up in the Metro Detroit area, I was two years too late for the Tigers’ World Series in 1984 and too young to really remember the Pistons going back-to-back in the Bad Boys era. Certainly, since then I have enjoyed a handful of Stanley Cups brought home by my Red Wings, some near misses from my Tigers, the Lions made the playoffs a couple times, which given their history is as good as it gets. However, with all of those accomplishments from my hometown teams, my favorite teams, none were as fun, or as memorable, as the ride my beloved Pistons took me and the rest of the fanbase on in 2004.

 

Chauncey was signed by the Pistons way back in the summer of 2002 and was one of the first building blocks to team president Joe Dumars’ championship club. At the time, Chauncey was joining his sixth team in his first six years, but Joe was confident in Chauncey’s ability and said, “The fact that Chauncey chose Detroit as his home validates our feeling that this organization is headed in the right direction. We feel he is a player that can come in and make an immediate impact on our team.” Boy was he ever right.

 

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In Chauncey’s first year with the team, the Pistons reached the Eastern Conference Finals before losing to the New Jersey Nets. The 8 playoff wins that year was equal to the amount of playoff wins the franchise had in the past ten years combined. With Chauncey on board, the culture had changed. Joe Dumars put together these misfit toys that no one wanted and gave the reigns to a guy considered to be a journeyman at this stage in his career, a guy that many considered a two-guard and not a true point, and built it into a perennial contender, and eventually a champion.

 

After having the bitter taste of defeat in their mouths all offseason, the Pistons went back to work the next year determined to bring home a championship to the Motor City. Coined the “Goin to Work” era, and led by public address announcer Mason and his constant shout of “Deeeetttroooooittt Baaaasskeetbaaallllll! Detroit was a blue-collar town, entertained by athletes with a blue-collar work ethic feeding off of each other making for some very memorable nights at the Palace, and Chauncey Billups was the team’s leader.

 

Midway through the 2003-2004 season, Dumars added another misfit toy by acquiring veteran Rasheed Wallace in a deal at the trade deadline. A skilled big man who mastered the stretch-four position while being able to bang in the post on both the offensive and defensive end. He had all the tools in his game but was thought to have a couple screws loose, with a hot temper, and a short fuse. According to Chauncey, it took just one practice for this well oiled machine to take on its new component and at that moment he thought no team in this league should be able to beat us. Much like Joe, boy was he right.

 

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That summer, the Pistons went on to defeat the star studded Los Angeles Lakers in 5 games in the NBA Finals. Led by who other than Chauncey Billups, “Mr. Big Shot.” Billups would dominate the Lakers going on to win NBA Finals MVP, helping the Pistons bring home their first NBA Championship since 1990. Over the next four years, the Pistons would continue to dominate the Eastern Conference advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals in each of those four years and losing to the San Antonio Spurs in a 7-game NBA Finals series in 2005.

 

While another title would have been great and would have really bolstered their case for any dynasty talk, that six year run of watching my beloved Pistons was possibly the greatest stretch of time as a fan. I am not sure I was ever as invested emotionally in a team than I was with that team. That collection of guys, what they stood for and represented, to actually embrace that they were all just pieces to a puzzle that needed each other to make the final vision complete was so refreshing to see, and it all started with their floor general–Chauncey Billups.

 

retiredjerseys

 

As always in sports, good things must come to an end. For the Pistons, it was a rather abrupt end within a few years of winning their championship in 2004. Free agency began to lure the core away and some business decisions had to be made as players began to be dealt away. The Pistons currently haven’t been back to the post-season since the 2008 season, and attendance at the Palace has gone from the peak years when Detroit was “Goin to Work” to now looking more like a place hard hit by unemployment.

 

However, the memories and the proof that champions once filled these walls are a pleasant reminder when you look up to the rafters. Isiah Thomas said on Wednesday night that when he first got to Detroit there was no tradition, and he would dream that one day he and his teammates would fill this place with championships and retired jerseys. He mentioned that when he and his teammates passed the torch to the next core of guys, it was their responsibility to carry on the tradition before then passing it to the next core of guys. Well add some banners to the rafters they did, not to mention the amount of memories they provided to countless Pistons fans, including myself.

 

So as we honored you on Wednesday Chauncey, let me just say that I appreciated all that you did for the community while you were here, the way you conducted yourself on and off the basketball court, and for so many other reasons, you are my favorite Detroit sports athlete of my lifetime. Wednesday was your night, Chauncey Billups Night at the Palace, but believe me, for myself and I’m sure thousands of Pistons fans that night, it was incredibly special for us too. You will always be a Detroit Piston to us.

 

 


Earning His Stripes: How Al Avila Won Big in His First Off-Season as GM

Written by :
Published on : January 23, 2016

 

After winning four consecutive American League Central Division titles from 2011-2014, the Detroit Tigers had high hopes entering last season as they again looked to contend for the division crown. After a 6-0 start and eventually winning as many as 11 of their first 13 games, everything seemed to be on the right track.

 

While sweeping the Minnesota Twins to start the season, the Tigers outscored their opponent 22-1 over the course of three games, setting an American League record of 24 scoreless innings to start a season. An unearned run in the 7th inning of the final game in the series ended Detroit’s string of pitching dominance.

 

 

On the mound, David Price looked locked in to have a Cy Young season, heck with the starts Alfredo Simon and Shawn Green got off to early on, it appeared his own teammates may be his toughest competition. With former Cy Young winner and league MVP Justin Verlander out until June or July, it was a very promising start from the new look rotation.

 

At the plate, things looked just as good through the first couple weeks as Miguel Cabrera was in his usual groove showcasing Ted Williams like numbers, and unlikely heroes José Iglesias and newcomer Anthony Gose were spraying the ball all over the outfield while flashing some leather in the field. For a team that hadn’t won the World Series since 1984, it had the feeling early on that this just may be the year. After four consecutive division titles, fans hoped that the third time was the charm, considering the Tigers made it to the World Series twice in the past decade only to come up short both times.

 

 

But how quickly things can change in this cruel game. Just a month or so later, the Tigers would drop eight consecutive games and fall to .500 for the first time all season. The Tigers would hang around the .500 mark for the next few months before deciding to unload at the July trade deadline. David Price, Yoenis Cespedes and closer Joakim Soria packed their bags late in July as Detroit cut its losses and began to carve out a plan for a quick “reboot” according to then President/General Manager Dave Dombrowski. Vowing this team wouldn’t endure another 15+ year rebuilding process that I witnessed during the bulk of my childhood and early teen years, but instead that this “reboot” would have us back next season.

 

Just a week later, Dombrowski was gone. Said to be a mutual decision between he and owner Mike Ilitch, Dombrowski resigned, handing the reigns to his assistant Al Avila after nearly 14 years with the team. Some two weeks later, the Boston Red Sox hired Dave Dombrowski to the same role and a few months later kicked off the off-season with some blockbuster moves, highlighted in a piece I wrote last month. But what about Dombrowski’s former team? How would the Detroit Tigers do with their offseason? With Dombrowski no longer apart of the organization, were the Tigers still in a “reboot” and ready to make a splash of their own during the offseason with new General Manager Al Avila? The answer, Detroit fans would come to find out, was yes.

 

 

Heading into the offseason, the Tigers had three glaring holes to fill if they had any dream of contending for a world championship, let alone the American League Central. Some of those holes required more than one player to fill them. First and foremost, the starting pitching needed to be addressed. With David Price dealt away at the deadline and Anibal Sánchez having a less than stellar 2015 season, Detroit needed a guy that had ace like stuff. They got that with Jordan Zimmermann, who had been with the Nationals. While some may worry about the decline on his fastball and the fact that he has had Tommy John surgery in the past, Zimmermann can flat out pitch and has a great strikeout to walk ratio. As a backend of the rotation type guy or potentially even a long relief bullpen arm, the Tigers also signed veteran Mike Pelfrey, most recently with the Minnesota Twins. This one was by no means a no-brainer like with Zimmermann and potentially a head scratcher at $8 million per, but these days signing a starting pitcher for less is rare.

 

Sticking with pitching, the Tigers also needed to add a couple quality arms to their bullpen. While the starting rotation didn’t have its best year in 2015, the bullpen didn’t fare any better. Aside from Joakim Soria, who was dealt away in July and maybe Alex Wilson too, the bullpen didn’t give Tiger fans much confidence in the later innings of ballgames. Al Avila made what appears to be a fantastic move by acquiring Francisco Rodríguez, or K-Rod, from Milwaukee for a prospect who many don’t see making it beyond AAA for any extended period of time. So the Tigers scoop Major League Baseball’s active saves leader for the next two seasons for just under $12 million? Yes, please. Avila, also added two more relievers in RHP Mark Lowe and LHP Justin Wilson.

 

The third and final major hole the Tigers needed to fill came after the trade of Yoenis Cespedes. When the Cuban Centipede was dealt away at the deadline, Tiger’s fans knew an outfield of JD Martinez, Anthony Gose, and Rajai Davis was not the answer for 162 games. Very early into free agency, the Tigers brought back a familiar face in an attempt to upgrade the outfield by acquiring Cameron Maybin from Atlanta in exchange for Ian Karol and a LHP prospect. With Atlanta covering $2.5 million of Maybin’s 2016 salary, this move was a low risk, but potentially also low reward. Over the next couple months, fans saw guys like Jason Heyward sign with the Cubs, Alex Gordon re-sign with Kansas City, and hoped that the Tigers would go out and splurge by bringing back Cespedes or another left fielder high on many GM’s lists, Justin Upton. While the familiarity of Cespedes probably had most fans preferring the highly touted 5-tool Cuban, Upton had the potential to add a wide variety of talents to a contending team. Then, late Monday night, the Tigers and Justin Upton had agreed on a 6-year deal.

 

 

Things moved really quick with the Upton deal. It was barely considered a legitimate rumor around much of Major League Baseball, but Al Avila got the final word from Mike Ilitch to go ahead and make the move even though it places them well above the luxury tax range. But as Mr I has always said, “Scared money don’t make money.” He said that right? Well, at any rate, Upton could be the final piece to the Tigers contending in 2016 and beyond. While Upton does have an opt-out clause after year two of the deal, both parties seem to be interested in keeping Justin here for the long haul. Upton brings a bat with great extra base power, a decent walk rate, and can steal you 15-20 bags a year to go along with solid defense in left field.

 

At first glance, Al Avila’s first full off-season as the head man in the front office for the Tigers probably couldn’t have been much better. He addressed every need, even going as far as to get multiple guys at each of the positions, and adding a few other backup spots elsewhere on the diamond as well. What Tigers fans need to understand is they were never in on guys like David Price, Zack Greinke, or Jason Heyward. So to come out with Jordan Zimmermann, Justin Upton and Francisco Rodriguez to fill your biggest voids grades out at a solid A in my book. With the 2016 season just around the corner, the Tiger’s “reboot” appears to be complete and while Rome wasn’t built in a day, Detroit hopes it’s beloved baseball team has been rebuilt in just one offseason.

 

 

 


A Quest for Greatness: A Look Back at How I Won the SBS Staff Picks

Written by :
Published on : January 10, 2016

 

About a year ago, I received a message on Facebook from Alex asking me if I would be interested in becoming a writer, or contributor in some facet, for a sports website that he and Bruno had in the works. I eagerly jumped at the opportunity and looked forward to contributing in whatever ways I could. A couple months went by and Alex kept me in the loop as to how the progress on the development of the website was going, and when approximately we would be ready to launch. I anxiously brainstormed some ideas that I thought would be great articles and potential big debates that could catch any sports fan’s eyes and along with the help of everyone else, I’d say we came up with a pretty damn good first year.

 

Without knowing hardly anyone involved with this project personally, there did come a little bit of trepidation on my part as well though wondering a bit, “What if they all think I don’t know shit?” And then of course a bigger nightmare as I get turned into Milton from the movie Office Space and I continue to write articles that never get published and eventually I’m put in charge of rubbing the shoulders of each SBS staff writer as they sit in their cubicles feverishly trying to meet their deadlines. But then I stopped, I took a breath, and said to myself “Relax. SBS doesn’t even have cubicles.” Whew.

 

This past August we decided to come up with an NFL Staff Picks section where we could flex our muscles a bit and show our readers who knows their stuff (or who has the most luck) by picking who we thought would win each game every week. This was it, this was my chance. As an undersized, thin, awkwardly athletic kid, growing up I didn’t have too many trophies that didn’t say the word “Participant” on them, so I decided to take my talents to picking winners instead of being one. It sounds sad, but it’s not all bad.

 

I got off to a hot start but spent the first few weeks looking up to Antoine as he carried the pace for the site. I remained in striking distance however, and by Week 5 I surpassed him. Fortunate to have a few members of the staff get off to some rocky starts, it was shaping up to be a two-man race around the midway point of the season. The amount of 80’s movie themed montages that came to my mind during this season was incredible, and quite unnecessary, as we battled down the stretch.

 

Heading into the final few weeks of the season, I just needed to avoid any sort of meltdown week and I would be ok. It was grind time. I couldn’t sleep, I didn’t shower, I drank a ton of soda pop. I was all over the place. Wound up, tense, anxious. This is how those people that work out at 3:00 in the morning must feel I told myself, this is that “runner’s high” or jolt people get. I of course didn’t take this madness to those lengths, I was not about to hit the gym over this, that’d be just silly. I eventually just took a shower.

 

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                                                                       This one’s for you Clinton Township!

 

 

At the end of Week 17, after the final whistle had blown on the 2015 NFL Regular Season, we had our first champion. The inaugural SBS Staff Picks season had ended and the title was won by–me. The sub-six-foot kid from Clinton Township, Michigan stood alone atop the leaderboard. Overtaken with emotion, it’s taken me until now to put my feelings to print, and looking back over the past three months of this season, I can’t help but dedicate this title to my hometown. We may just be a Charter Township of under 100,000 people, but we are Michigan’s most populous township and don’t you forget it! It’s like Vince Lombardi always said, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” It’s been one heck of a ride, and I enjoyed looking back at how I became a champion of the first SBS Staff Picks competition. Shout out to our sister city in Yasu, Shiga in Japan!*

 

Final Regular Season Standings

1. Ryan (168-88)

2. Antoine (163-93)

3. Bruno (160-96)

3. Joe (160-96)

5. Sandy (153-103)

6. Alex (152-104)

7. Roger (151-105)

8. Patrick (150-106)

8. Michael (150-106)

10. Bryce (146-110)

11. Nick (144-112)

12. Mike (143-113)

13. Treasure (142-114)

 

 

 

* All “facts” in regards to Clinton Township, Michigan are according to Wikipedia and therefore you can take it with a grain of salt.

 

Be sure to check out the ScoreBoredSports NFL Playoff Staff Picks: Divisional Round page to see who myself and the SBS team picked to win the AFC and NFC Wild Card games this weekend.

 

 


Champ and Chump: Week 17

Written by :
Published on : January 6, 2016

 

2016 is only in its first week but it’s off to a very exciting start. From the drama of NFL Playoffs kicking off this week, the College Football Championship game coming up on Monday to college basketball beginning conference play. As the NFL wrapped up its regular season with week 17 coming to a close, so does the Champ and Chump column.

 

So for one last hurrah until next season, we recognize some of the youngest and brightest in college hoops while shaking our head at a big loser on the college gridiron. We celebrate two players, one breaking records, and another chasing some. For one last time, let’s see who wore the crown this week and who wore the frown. The Champs and Chumps!

 

Champ: Draymond Green

Mr Triple Double

 

Raise your hand if you saw this type of potential with Draymond Green when the Golden State Warriors drafted him in 2012…I’ll wait… Neither did I. Following an NBA Championship last year, Green signed a long-term deal worth $85 million and many wondered if a guy like Green was worth such a large contract. With a little more than half of the season left, the Warriors are chasing history sitting at 32-2 and much of it is thanks to Draymond Green. On Monday night, Green finished with his 3rd consecutive triple-double leading the Warriors to a victory over the Hornets.

 

So far, Draymond has seven triple-doubles, only two other players in the entire league have more than one. Averaging 15 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists a game, Green is chasing a little history of his own as only Oscar Robertson has averaged a triple-double over the course of the season.

 

Honorable Mention:

Christian McCaffery- How exciting is this young guy? Narrowly missing another Champ of the Week performance this year, McCaffrey broke the Rose Bowl all-purpose yard record (368 yards) and led the Cardinals to a dominant 45-16 Rose Bowl win. McCaffrey will have a tough time one-upping himself for next season. A Heisman Trophy may be in his sights.

 

Diamond Stone- The Maryland freshman provided a huge spark off the bench in a win over Penn State scoring 39 points on 10-15 shooting (19-25 free-throws) and 12 rebounds.

 

Brice Johnson- From freshman to senior, Brice Johnson was just as dominant as Stone on Monday night when he led his Tar Heels to a big road win over Florida State. Johnson finished with 39 points and 23 rebounds.

 

 

Chump: Memphis football player Reggis Ball

 Ball can’t hold on

 

After losing 31-10 in the Birmingham Bowl to the Auburn Tigers, senior defensive back Reggis Ball showed an incredible amount of bad sportsmanship when he tackled an Auburn staffer, took the game ball and ran with it, holding it up in one hand, middle finger flying in the other. Just another example of today’s generation demanding the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

 

Ball had himself a fine afternoon finishing with 5 tackles and 2 interceptions, however no takeaways will get more attention than his last, the hit and strip of an Auburn staffer.

 

Dishonorable Mention:

Michigan State football- As I wrote earlier this year, it was a playoff or bust for the Spartans, and while they achieved their goal and the season was an overall success, getting blanked 38-0 in the Cotton Bowl to Alabama was an absolute embarrassment. Making the playoff is a great program builder for Mark Dantonio and company, but it’s going to take a while for these wounds to heal before we can celebrate the season that it was.

 

New York Jets- The Pittsburgh Steelers found themselves in this spot last week when they lost a seemingly easy game against the Ravens which allowed the Jets to pass them in the playoff standings. This week, the Jets returned the favor by losing to Buffalo and eliminating themselves from playoff contention while handing Pittsburgh the final spot.

 

Oregon football- Leading 31-0 at halftime against a TCU team playing with a walk-on at quarterback and their top wide receiver out with an injury, the Ducks were ready to end their season on a high note with an Alamo Bowl victory. Instead, Oregon miraculously allowed the Horned Frog offense to do whatever they pleased in the second half and TCU beat Oregon 47-41 in a triple-overtime thriller.

 

 

Until next time.

 

 


Champ and Chump: Week 16

Written by :
Published on : January 1, 2016

 

Happy New Year from myself and everyone here at SBS. As we ring in 2016, we make our New Year’s resolutions. Many of us we plan to make the gym a part of our daily routine, or put down our smokes or maybe it’s less drinking. For others maybe we just want to focus on becoming a better person overall, or get more in touch with our families and friends. While that all sounds great for you and me, we’ve chronicled a lot of athletes over the last 15+ weeks whose resolutions should have been to stay on the right side of this list. This week we take notice of a couple guys who outplayed the competition and also find a couple teams who were outplayed. We hit the hardwood a bit too, recognizing a great individual performance and could be on the way to seeing a first for a team in college ball. For the last time in 2015, let’s take a look at the picks for Champ and Chump, and I’ll see you again in 2016

 

 

Champ: Kirk Cousins

 Cousins has the Redskins headed to the playoffs.

 

How good is Kirk Cousins feeling right now? Out of nowhere the Skins have won the NFC East and are looking more and more like a contender every week. Defeating the Eagles on Saturday night, Cousins threw for 365 yards and 4 touchdowns without turning the ball over. Perhaps more importantly, the connection of Cousins to Tight End Jordan Reed (9 catches, 129 yards, 2 touchdowns in the game) has become lethal and seemingly unstoppable. I am not sure many people predicted a division title for Washington this year and I’m sure even fewer predicted a season like this for Kirk Cousins, but two things are for sure, Kirk Cousins is about to get paid and reporters and fans around the D.C. area definitely like that.

 

Honorable Mention:

Isaiah Ford- The Virginia Tech Wide Receiver caught 12 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown in a 55-52 Independence Bowl win over Tulsa, sending legendary coach Frank Beamer out with a W.

 

CJ McCollum- Starting in place of injured Damian Lillard, McCollum just missed a triple-double in a win over the Sacramento Kings. CJ finished with 35 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists and 4 steals.

 

Bryant McIntosh- Northwestern has never made the NCAA Tournament but is off to a 13-1 start and hoping for the school’s first bid. Sophomore guard Bryant McIntosh, leads the Wildcats including a 33 point/8 assist night against Loyola Maryland. McIntosh hit 11 of 14 field goals leading the charge.

 

 

Chump: Bill Belichick

 Belichick wearing his chump face.

 

Bill Belichick showed Shades of Marty Mornhinweg this past weekend, as Patriots’ coach was on the losing end following a very questionable decision to kick heading into overtime against the New York Jets. Belichick decided to play the wind, and trusted his defense to at least hold New York to a field goal, hoping Brady and the offense would then drive down and win the game. Unfortunately for Belichick, his defense couldn’t hold off Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets and they found the endzone on their first possession, ending the game and making Bill Belichick look foolish. I understand that with the new OT rules a field goal on the first drive no longer ends the game but when Tom Brady is your quarterback and you win the toss, go out there and trust Tom Terrific to lead your team to a touchdown on the first drive.

 

Dishonorable Mention:

Green Bay Packers- I keep waiting for the Packers to hit their stride but it appears they may not find it this season. Heading to Arizona and looking to make a statement, the Packers were overmatched everywhere on the field losing 38-8. The Cardinals defense swarmed Green Bay, finishing with 9 sacks and 4 takeaways.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers- In control of their own destiny for the playoffs, Pittsburgh had seemingly one of the easier matchups this past weekend when they headed to Baltimore. The 4-10 Ravens had Ryan Mallett making his first start with the team after being signed December 15, yet the Steelers couldn’t take advantage and now find themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture needing help to get in.

 

Manchester United- Winless in their last 8 games, Man U is fading fast. At one point they found themselves atop the table but those days seem incredibly far away. Manager Louis Van Gaal may be on his way out as the club struggles to find a long term replacement for the great Sir Alex Ferguson.

 

 

 


Champ and Chump: Christmas Edition

Written by :
Published on : December 28, 2015

 

Ho, Ho, Ho. The Champ and Chump piece gets into the holiday spirit a bit this week by playing Santa and separating our naughty and nice lists, and yes we’ve definitely checked it at least twice. The bowl season is under way, the NFL is gearing up for playoff action and both the NBA and NCAA hoops are rolling along. So grab yourself some eggnog, some fig pudding, and sit back and enjoy this week’s Christmas edition of Champ and Chump.

 

Nice: Charles Woodson

 

He made just two tackles in a win over the Chargers on Thursday night, but after an amazing career, Woodson played his final home game for the Raiders and is sure to go down as one of the all-time greats. Coined “Mr Everything” during his days at the University of Michigan, Woodson won the Heisman trophy before being drafted by Oakland in 1998. He has been almost a perennial pro bowl corner and safety and went on to win a Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers before returning to Oakland to finish out his career in the black and silver. A pleasure to watch on the field, and off it, Woodson has been a leader in the locker room and in the community. For everyone at SBS, we tip our caps to the great career of Charles Woodson.

 

Honorable Mention:

Draymond Green- 22 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists in a win over Cleveland, and NBA Finals rematch that I’d love to see again.  

 

Jamauri Bogan- The running back from Western Michigan led the Broncos to a Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl win over Middle Tennessee State by toting the rock 19 times for 215 yards and 4 touchdowns.  

 

Kahlil Felder- Standing just 5’9″ doesn’t keep Felder from showcasing himself as one of the premier point guards in the country, even though he plays for a small school in Michigan, Oakland University. Felder helped Oakland take #1 Michigan State to overtime before losing a close game. Felder finished with 37 points and 9 assists against the Spartans. Expect to see Felder leading an NBA team in the near future.

 

 

Naughty: Odell Beckham Jr

 

Last Sunday, the New York Giants hosted the undefeated Carolina Panthers looking to put an end to their perfect season while keeping their own playoff hopes alive. All week leading up to the game, there was a lot of trash talk between cornerback Josh Norman of the Panthers and New York’s Odell Beckham Jr. It turned into a very physical matchup on the field that afternoon. Beckham has been accused of some extracurricular activity this season with punching, hitting the face mask area but has also been one of the best wide outs in football. This week he took it too far and was fortunate to avoid an ejection when he threw a headshot at Norman by leading helmet to helmet after the play. Beckham wound up being suspended this week and deservedly so. His actions were incredibly selfish and for a team desperate to win, he put himself and his own personal vendettas over the team’s needs. We can all talk about how he was provoked and taunted prior to and perhaps during the game but you’re in the NFL. Trash talk has been around these athletes since they played high school ball.

 

Dishonorable Mention:

Donald Brown- While he did find the end zone once for San Diego, Brown could only muster 17 yards on 14 carries as the Chargers got nothing on the ground in a loss vs Oakland.  

 

New Orleans Pelicans- What happened to the Pelicans? An up-and-coming team, led by budding superstar Anthony Davis, made the playoffs last year. All of the sudden, they find themselves at 9-20 following a loss to Miami on Christmas. Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans combined to shoot 7-26 with just 9 assists and 8 turnovers.  

 

Hayden Moore- Cincinnati Bearcats’ quarterback had a tough go of it on Christmas Eve in a blowout loss to San Diego State. Finishing with under 200 total yards on the night, Moore threw 3 interceptions and had one returned for six in a 42-7 beat down.

 

 


5 Big Winners of the MLB Offseason

Written by :
Published on : December 21, 2015

 

With Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings wrapped up and Opening Day just a few months away, there were a lot of big names on the move and still a handful of marquee players available. The hot stove was blazing the past few weeks, setting up for a very interesting 2016 season. Here are my 5 Big Winners of the MLB Offseason so far. The 5 teams that I think improved themselves the most from last year.

 

 

#5San Francisco Giants 

The Giants have given Bumgarner a lot of help and he is excited.

 

The San Francisco Giants are looking to get back into the post-season after missing out last year. A very successful team over the past decade, the Giants have won two World Series titles under manager Bruce Bochy and still have a very talented team. Led by ace Madison Bumgarner, they added to their arsenal by adding two solid arms in Jeff Samardzija (5 years, $90 million) and Johnny Cueto (6 years, $130 million).

 

The Giants have the potential to have the most talented rotation in all of baseball and may even be the favorites to win the National League West, if not the pennant as well. Veterans Matt Cain and Jake Peavy round out the rotation, with perennial all-star Buster Posey calling the pitches. The Giants also may be interested in signing left fielder Alex Gordon, which would move the Giants way up this list.

 

 

#4Chicago White Sox

 Robin Ventura should be very pleased with how this off season has gone.

 

The Chicago White Sox haven’t made much noise in the American League Central the past few years as they have entered somewhat of a rebuilding mode. Last year, the Chi Sox got only 13 homers from their 3rd base spot, so they went out and sought better hitting from the infield. In a 3-team deal with the Dodgers and Reds, Chicago gave a few young players to get 3rd baseman Todd Frazier from Cincinnati. Frazier is one of the better power hitters in baseball the past couple years, bringing 30+ home runs annually, and will add some major pop alongside first baseman José Abreu.

 

In a previous deal, the White Sox acquired Brett Laurie from Oakland, who is set to play 2nd base. They are hoping he will reach his full potential and be a guy that can find the seats in a hitter friendly ballpark. Lawrie is a reasonably cheap upgrade and Frazier is an absolute steal right now as he is set to make just $7.5 million, and doesn’t hit free agency until after 2017.

 

 

#3- Arizona Diamondbacks

The Greinke signing has been the biggest splash yet this off season.

 

The Diamondbacks needed to make a big move to try and compete with the likes of the Giants and the Dodgers out west, and what a splash they made. Getting potentially the biggest free agent in all of baseball, starting pitcher, Zack Greinke for 7 years in a monster deal. A signing that came out of left field, nobody saw Greinke heading to the desert. Joining Greinke in Arizona will be another quality arm as the Diamondbacks acquired Shelby Miller from Atlanta for former first round pick Dansby Swanson and Ender Inciarte.

 

While dealing away two potentially great players, the Diamondbacks get potentially an even better player in Miller. He is a legitimate #2 after posting solid numbers with the Braves last year but was very unlucky with what little run support he received. Also, at just 25 years old, Miller is under team control for another few years.

 

 

#2- Boston Red Sox

 Price and Dombrowski: Reunited in Boston.

 

When Dave Dombrowski joined the front office in Boston, he wasted little time in trying to build another championship roster in Beantown. Headlined by the signing of former Cy Young winner David Price, the Red Sox improved their pitching staff immensely. Coming off one of his best seasons with the Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays, Price signed a 7 year deal worth $217 million but has an opt out option after 3 years. For Boston, they are back into familiar territory looking to win now and they feel they have the pieces to make it happen.

 

Joining Price on the pitching staff, the Red Sox acquired one of the best closers in baseball from San Diego, Craig Kimbrel. Koji Uehara has been lights out in that role for the Red Sox over the last handful of years but with an injury plagued season a year ago, the Red Sox now boast a nearly unbeatable backend of their bullpen.

 

In a trade with Seattle, the Bo Sox also received reliever Carson Smith and starting pitcher Roenis Elias. Smith is a very reliable bullpen arm who posted a 2.31 ERA in relief with a lot of strikeouts. Elias is more of a backend of the rotation guy who doesn’t have outstanding career numbers. He does have five more years of team control for cheaper than what Wade Miley was earning, and for arguably around the same if not slightly better numbers. Bottom line, with the offense that the Blue Jays has in that division, the Red Sox had to get some pitching to be able to shut them down, and took the ace of Toronto’s staff in the process.

 

 

#1- Chicago Cubs

 The Cubs signed Heyward to overcome his former team, the Cardinals.

 

My winner thus far in the MLB offseason has to be the Chicago Cubs. Theo Epstein has done a remarkable job since joining the Cubbies front office. After making it to the NLCS last year, it’s looking like World Series or bust for the Cubs this year. The two biggest acquisitions the Cubs made may be more about who they stole them from and not as much about who the players are. Constantly looking up in the standings to the St Louis Cardinals in the NL Central, the Cubs plucked two very talented players from St Louis to hopefully shake the standings up a bit this year.

 

The biggest splash was with the Cubs agreeing to terms with outfielder Jason Heyward for 8 years and $184 million. A pretty large contract possibly considered a bargain considering Heyward is rumored to have turned down some $200+ million offers to sign with Chicago. The other former Cardinal to join the Cubs is veteran starter John Lackey. At 37 years old, Lackey signs a 2-year, $32 million deal with the hopes of building on his already sound postseason numbers. Coming off a year in which he finished the regular season with a 2.77 ERA, Lackey appears to have plenty left in the tank.

 

A familiar face for manager Joe Maddon also joins the Cubs as former Tampa Bay Ray Ben Zobrist signed a  4-year $56 million deal. While this deal may prove to be a little steep for a utility guy at age 34, Zobrist isn’t your average utility man. He can play just about anywhere in the outfield and infield, and he was a key piece in the Kansas City Royals’ World Series run last year, as he started most of their games after being acquired at the trade deadline. He’ll see a lot time in the starting lineup again this year and may even see some time in the middle infield helping to take over for Starlin Castro, who was traded to the Yankees in exchange for a talented young pitcher Adam Warren. The Cubs are set up nicely with a lot of young talent to contend for many years to come.

 

 

 


Champ and Chump: Week 14

Written by :
Published on : December 16, 2015

 

 

A little more variety this week as we give some love to the frozen pond and hit the hardwood in our Champ and Chump sections. As always, the gridiron takes center stage with quarterbacks in the leading role. And there were a couple very memorable performances, while another gets awful reviews for his play. So here we go, see which players took a bow as the fans begged for an encore performance and who saw the curtains crash down on them. To the picks!

 

Champ: Russell Wilson

 Can Russell lead the Seahawks back to the Super Bowl?

 

Hard to find a hotter quarterback on the planet right now than Seattle’s Russell Wilson. A few weeks ago the Seahawks looked like a team that might miss out on the playoffs after consecutive Super Bowl appearances, especially when running back Marshawn Lynch went down with an injury. Since then, Wilson has led the Seahawks to four straight wins and has Seattle looking at a Wild Card spot. On Sunday, the Seahawks manhandled the Ravens 35-6 with Wilson finishing 23-32 and 292 yards with 5 touchdowns. During the four game win streak, Wilson has 17 touchdowns (1 rushing) and 0 interceptions. With Lynch expected back for the playoffs, Seattle may be hitting their stride, and for everyone else in the NFC that could be very bad news.

 

Honorable Mention:

Khalil Mack- The Oakland Raider finished with 5 sacks, as he constantly pressured and hit Denver’s Brock Osweiler, leading the Raiders to a 15-12 victory.

Eli Manning- Finished 27-31 and 337 yards with 4 touchdowns in a win on Monday Night in Miami. A nearly perfect evening for Eli keeping the Giants in the playoff hunt.

Patrick Kane- With an assist on Sunday night, Kane extended his points streak to 26 games as the Blackhawks blanked the Canucks 4-0. Kane leads the league with 46 points.

Golden State Warriors- Speaking of streaks, an incredible run was put to an end this past weekend as the Warriors took their first loss of the season after starting the year 24-0. Give the Bucks credit for being the first to take down the defending champs, but my guess is Golden State will get another streak going here real soon, and I predict they will win 70+ games.

 

 

Chump: Rajon Rondo

 Rondo wins the award for biggest chump.

 

Rajon Rondo is not known as one of the “good guys” by any stretch in the NBA, and he may have made matters even worse this past weekend. Disgusted with a call, Rondo lashed out on an official before being ejected, going as far as to call him a slur that rhymes with “maggot.” Days later, that official has come out as a gay man. Whether Rondo knew he was gay or not isn’t necessarily the issue, though I suppose Rondo looks even worse if he did. Just last year on a Dallas squad that made the playoffs, we saw Rondo absolutely give up on his team and wound up being benched by coach Rick Carlisle, who Rondo constantly argued with on and off the court. Once thought to be potentially the best point guard in the NBA, Rondo has continued to put up good numbers for the Kings all the while looking like an absolute joker.

 

Dishonorable Mention:

Robbie Gould- For the second consecutive week, Gould lined up with a chance to give Chicago the win or in this case a tie as time expired, and in both cases he missed it. The Bears easily could have won both these games making them 7-6 and just a game out of the playoffs with three winnable games left. However, instead they’re 5-8 with the chips stacked high against them.

Andy Dalton- The “Red Rocket” may have just cost the Bengals their season on Sunday. While blaming a guy for breaking his thumb while trying to make a tackle may seem a bit unfair, you have to consider the circumstance. In the redzone, Dalton threw an interception on an atrocious shovel pass attempt. I had to watch this replay a few times to even see what happened because it honestly looked like he just threw it to the defensive lineman and then dove into his knees. Dalton may be ready for the postseason where his resume absolutely needs a playoff win, perhaps more than any other quarterback.

Miami Dolphins- This one is personal. I just have to vent real quick. In the first round of my fantasy football playoffs I am sitting pretty at halftime with Lamar Miler and Josh Brown (NY Giants’ kicker) going against Odell Beckham Jr, who for the most part was held in check. Miller went off in the first half and Miami is leading so I think I’ll be ok. Fast forward to the second half and OBJ goes off for two scores (one being an 85-yarder) and Miller gets just 4 second half touches. Just 4! Thanks Miami, I hope you lose the rest of your games.

 

 


Champ and Chump Week 13

Written by :
Published on : December 12, 2015

 

 

It’s that time again ladies and gentlemen. Time to see who got their names in the paper and whose stat sheet became crumpled up paper. We had some championship performances as eight NCAA teams took home conference titles, where I correctly predicted seven of the games. But enough about my success, let’s see this week’s Champ and Chump.

 

Champ: Christian McCaffery

32 carries for 207 yards and 1 TD, 4 catches for 105 yards and 1 TD, an 11-yard touchdown pass, and 150 return yards.

Christian and his new hardware

 

As a sophomore, McCaffrey led the Cardinals to the PAC 12 Championship and helped them clinch a spot in the Rose Bowl. The son of former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, Christian is paving his own road as one of the best. He literally can do it all as Stanford’s “Mr Everything.” Earlier this year he broke the NCAA record for all purpose yards in a game and has earned himself a spot on the Heisman Trophy ballot. While it will be hard to beat Alabama running back Derrick Henry, I think McCaffrey just may be the most exciting player in college football.

 

Honorable Mention:

Blake Bottles and Allen Robinson- Blake finished 24-36, 322 yards with 5 touchdowns and no turnovers while Allen finished with 10 catches, 153 yards and 3 touchdowns in a win over the Tennessee Titans.

 

Cam Newton- The Panthers remain undefeated, led by MVP candidate Cam Newton. He finished with 380 total yards and 5 touchdowns in a come from behind win against the Saints 41-38.

 

Chump: Detroit Lions/Jim Caldwell

Another heartbreaker for Detroit

 

Looking for their first season sweep of the Green Bay Packers since 1991, the Detroit Lions were just seconds away from keeping their slim playoff hopes alive. However, as time expired Aaron Rodgers heaved the ball as high and as far as he could. Turned out to be just enough as Packers’ tight end Richard Rodgers brought down the ball without a Lion defender all that close to him. On the previous play, Detroit tackled Rodgers around the Green Bay 30-yard line after a couple laterals only to have a face mask penalty called on Detroit. A free 15 yards, and one more shot at a miracle, Green Bay made the Lions pay for it and added another chapter to Detroit’s seemingly never-ending tragedy as a franchise.

 

Dishonorable Mention:

ACC Championship refs- I hate to be one to criticize refs and say they cost a team the game but here is another prime example where they absolutely may have. North Carolina had scored a touchdown to get within 8 points with just over a minute left. They recovered the ensuing onside kick only to have the refs flag them for offsides. No North Carolina player was actually offside, nor was it close.

 

Special teams in the Dallas/Washington MNF game- The first 58+ minutes of this game saw a combined 18 points on 6 field goals only to have 17 points scored in the final 90 seconds or so. First, DeSean Jackson runs backwards 20 yards on a punt before fumbling, which leads to an easy touchdown. Then on the kickoff, a Dallas player face masks a non-ball carrier after a 40 yard return. Washington ties the game back up, only to kickoff and allow Dallas to return the ball some 40+ yards and line up for a game winning field goal.

 

 

 

 


Predicting This Weekend’s NCAA Football Conference Championship Games

Written by :
Published on : December 4, 2015

 

With the College Football Playoff on the horizon, eight conferences will hold their championship games this weekend. While eight teams will be crowned conference champions, four teams will be hoping to play for an even bigger prize come January. In just a few days we’ll find out who those teams are but until then, here’s my predictions for this weekend’s NCAA Football Conference Championship games.

 

 

MAC Championship- Detroit, MI- Friday @ 8:00

Bowling Green Falcons (9-3, 7-1) vs Northern Illinois Huskies (8-4, 6-2)

Matt Johnson will be the difference in this one.

 

For the third consecutive year, these two teams will meet in the MAC Championship with both teams splitting the previous two meetings. The Huskies are making their sixth consecutive appearance in the championship game and are looking for their fourth conference title during this stretch. The teams didn’t meet during the regular season and the Huskies will be down to their third string quarterback for this battle. I think that will be the difference. The Falcons score a ton of points with a high octane offense led by the nation’s leading passer Matt Johnson, and I do not see Northern Illinois being able to match it.

Prediction: Bowling Green– 38, Northern Illinois- 24

 

 

American Athletic Conference Championship- Houston, TX- Saturday @ Noon

#22 Temple Owls (10-2, 7-1) vs #19 Houston Cougars (11-1, 7-1)

Can Greg Ward Jr overcome the Temple defense?

 

Another championship matchup featuring two teams that did not play during the regular season. The game will be played in Houston’s backyard which is an added bonus for the Cougars. Houston is led by dual-threat quarterback Greg Ward Jr, who has 15 touchdowns through the air this year and another 17 on the ground. Temple however, has the nation’s 13th ranked rush defense and are poised for the upset. Also, did you know that in 2012 I moved to Philadelphia and had actually applied and was accepted to Temple University before ultimately moving back home later that year? For that, give me the Owls–my almost Alma Mater.

Prediction: Temple- 30, Houston- 27

 

 

Conference USA Championship- Bowling Green, KY- Saturday @ Noon

Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (9-3, 7-1) vs Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (10-2, 8-0)

Doughty will be playing on Sundays.

 

Talk about a game that could have some fireworks. Both the Golden Eagles and Hilltoppers rank inside the top-10 in passing yards and I would expect an absolute shootout in this one. At quarterback for Western Kentucky is a future NFL play-caller, in my opinion, in Brandon Doughty. After throwing for 49 touchdowns last year, Doughty has his eyes on 50+ this year and I see him as a mid-round steal for an NFL team.

Prediction: Western Kentucky- 45, Southern Mississippi- 35

 

 

SEC Championship– Atlanta, GA- Saturday @ 4:00

#18 Florida Gators (10-2, 7-1) vs #2 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1, 7-1)

Derrick Henry will help Alabama win this one.

 

The first game that will have playoff implications takes place in the Georgia Dome as Alabama looks to solidify a spot in the Final Four with a win over Florida. The Gators come in with a good record, ranked in the top-20 but haven’t looked good in about a month. After getting dominated by Florida State, Florida will need to clean up a lot of things if they plan on making a game out of this one. Alabama on the other hand, has won 9 in a row and looks poised to make its second consecutive playoff appearance. I don’t think this Alabama team is nearly as talented as we’ve seen from coach Saban usually, but Derrick Henry is an absolute monster, who very well may take home the Heisman trophy. Both Florida and Alabama feature top-5 defenses, so the Gators will need to force Alabama to beat them through the air.

Prediction: Alabama- 31, Florida- 14

 

 

Mountain West Championship– San Diego, CA- Saturday @ 7:30

Air Force Falcons (8-4, 6-2) vs San Diego State Aztecs (9-3, 8-0)

SDSU will ride its backfield to the win.

 

It’s always tough to defend the triple option, and that’s the task at hand for San Diego State this weekend. Air Force isn’t going to beat you through the air, as their starting quarterback actually has one more interception than he does passing touchdowns on the year. San Diego State is also led by their ground attack and features a couple really talented backs that can also catch the ball out of the backfield.

Prediction: San Diego State- 27, Air Force- 20

 

 

PAC 12 Championship– Santa Clara, CA- Saturday @ 7:45

#20 USC Trojans (8-4, 6-3) vs #7 Stanford Cardinals (10-2, 8-1)

McCaffrey does it all.

 

Finally, a championship that features a rematch from the regular season. Way back in week 3, Stanford traveled to the Coliseum and defeated the Trojans 41-31 after trailing by 11 points in the second quarter. Over the past couple months both teams have changed, however, I think it’s Stanford who has changed for the better. The Cardinals are as talented as any team in the country but sit at #7 and need some help if they hope to make it to the College Football Playoff. Led by one of the more exciting players in college football, Stanford has Sophomore Christian McCaffrey close to breaking NCAA records for All-Purpose Yards. McCaffrey does it all, from sprinting through holes from the backfield, catching screens or balls over the middle, to being an explosive weapon in the return game. He is impossible to shut down. Hell, he even threw a touchdown pass this season. Both USC and Stanford have experienced 3+ year starters at quarterback in Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan. Neither will shy away from the spotlight or pressure and this game could come down to who protects the ball better.

Prediction: Stanford- 34, USC- 31

 

Big Ten Championship– Indianapolis, IN- Saturday @ 8:00

#4 Iowa Hawkeyes (12-0, 8-0) vs #5 Michigan State Spartans (11-1, 7-1)

Can Sparty ride Cook’s arm to the playoff?

 

As Mike wrote a couple days ago, these two teams couldn’t have had any more different paths to get to this game. While their records are about the same, the expectations and buzz surrounding both programs over the past few months have been polar opposites. Iowa was never expected to really compete for the Big Ten West, let alone run the table, while Michigan State was picked by many to be Ohio State’s only true road block in the way of another Buckeye championship. As I myself wrote in September, it is playoff or bust for the Spartans, and the winner of this game is all but assured a spot in the Final 4. Iowa is anything but flashy, offensively they have a ground and pound attack that wears you down and are very solid on the defensive end. Old smashmouth Big Ten football at its finest. Michigan State is led by potentially the best quarterback in the country in Senior Connor Cook, but has a defense that has been playing very well the last few weeks after being decimated by injury early in the season. I think this game is going to be won in the trenches. Can Iowa get their rushing attack going and keep Michigan State’s front-7 out of their backfield and on the other end, can Michigan State give Cook time to throw and make plays down the field?

Prediction: Michigan State- 24, Iowa- 21

 

 

ACC Championship– Charlotte, NC- Saturday @ 8:00

#1 Clemson Tigers (12-0, 8-0) vs #10 North Carolina Tar Heels (11-1, 8-0)

Watson is gunning for a playoff spot.

The ACC didn’t get much love heading into the 2015 season as only Florida State was inside the top-10. Clemson found themselves at #12 and North Carolina wasn’t given much of a chance to make any noise. Instead, both teams made it through conference play unscathed and almost the entire season as a whole as well. The Tar Heels lost their opener to South Carolina but have since won 11 in a row. While neither team boasts the strongest schedule, both feature very talented quarterbacks who are looking to silence the critics. Sophomore Deshaun Watson for the Tigers and Senior Marquise Williams from North Carolina are almost carbon copies of one another in how they play the game, and their statistics are pretty close as well. Vegas is giving North Carolina more and more of a chance as each day goes by, so this one figures to be a good one.

Prediction: Clemson- 38, North Carolina- 30

 
 
 


Champ and Chump: Week 12

Written by :
Published on : December 3, 2015

 

As we flip the calendar to December, we enter championship season in college football as the conference championships take place this weekend, and we’ll get to see who makes it to the second ever College Football Playoff. The NFL enters it’s final five weeks and the Philadelphia 76ers have even decided to win a game. Can I just say, this NBA season is setting up to be the all-time worst. Aside from watching the Warriors and their quest to win 70+ or hell, even go undefeated at this point, the league is pure filth right now. But ’tis the season of giving and being nice so instead, let’s take the time to recognize this week’s great performances while also seeing who had NBA-esque moments. This week the champs and chumps all come from football and futbol, as their seasons begin to wind down. We’ve got old and young, teams that have surprised us and teams that just flat out don’t get it. To the Champ and Chump!

 

Champ: Matt Hasselbeck

26-42 for 315 yards, 2 touchdowns and 0 turnovers

The Ageless Wonder, Matt Hasselbeck.

 

Statistically speaking, Hasselbeck wasn’t the top quarterback this week, but it’s what he’s done over the course of the last four weeks that gives him the nod here. Hasselbeck is now 4-0 as a starter this year while filling in for injured Andrew Luck, and has put the Colts in a tie for first place in the AFC South. At 6-5, the Colts remaining five games aren’t the toughest, and Luck is only expected to remain sidelined until around mid-December. However, Indy can wait patiently with this 40-year old arm slinging it like he’s 25 again. Hasselbeck became only the third 40-year old quarterback in the Super Bowl era to win four straight, joining Brett Favre and Warren Moon.

 

Honorable Mention:

Jamie Vardy-  From Leicester City of the Barclay’s Premier League, he scored a goal in a 1-1 draw vs Manchester United. It marked the 11th consecutive game Vardy has found the back of the net, breaking Ruud Van Nistelroy’s record.

Ezekiel Elliott- A week after throwing his coaches under the bus, Elliott ran all over the Michigan defense for 214 yards on 30 carries and 2 touchdowns in a 42-13 victory for the Buckeyes over their rival Wolverines.

Iowa football- Debate all you want about their strength of schedule, it’s about time Iowa gets their due. Following a win in Nebraska on Saturday, Iowa is one of two undefeated teams as they head into the Big Ten Conference Championship this weekend where they’ll play Michigan State.

 

 

Chump: The Cleveland Browns

This organization has continually brought shame to its players, fans and the city itself.

 

“The Mistake by the Lake” is how a lot of Michiganders like to refer to Cleveland, and with the Cleveland Browns organization the mistakes seem to happen in bunches. Being a Lions fan, it’s hard to say too much about other NFL teams and their struggles, but it is the Browns. On Monday night, Cleveland lost in a way that only a few unfortunate teams have, when they had their potential game-winning field goal blocked and returned for a touchdown. Yet that isn’t even why the Browns find themselves as this week’s Chump. Instead, it’s because of how they have handled Johnny Manziel. Sitting on the bench as a 3rd stringer, Manziel watched Austin Davis take over late when starter Josh McCown went down with a broken collarbone. While Davis did relatively well and gave Cleveland a shot to win, Manziel needs to be the guy. To make matter’s worse, Austin Davis has been named the starter for next week over Johnny Football.

 

While it’s clear Manziel has to mature and has some issues to work out, we are talking about issues that don’t even involve arrests. While Cleveland tries to send a message to Johnny, what message are they sending to their fans? After years of mediocrity, they draft the most exciting player in football, and in almost two full seasons now, he’s started just a few games. This year in fact, those few games he has started in he has actually done quite well. With 5 passing touchdowns and just 2 interceptions Manziel has a QB Rating of 88.4 which would put him 20th in the league (Cam Newton has a QBR of 89.5), if he qualified with enough attempts. Even though 20th is just the final third of the league, you have to consider he has had no chance to establish a rhythm, one week he practices with the first unit, one week it’s the second unit, and this week with the practice squad. He’s had no chance to prove what he can do on the field consistently and the Browns have put themselves in a position where they eventually are going to have to make a decision to keep him or see him get the chance somewhere else. Meanwhile for coach Pettine, who keeps sending Johnny to timeout, he’s a few weeks from being a coordinator somewhere else.

 

Dishonorable Mention:

Tommy Armstrong- The quarterback for the Nebraska Cornhuskers finished with 4 picks in a loss vs the Iowa Hawkeyes and was held without a touchdown in a game the Cornhuskers needed to win to solidify a bowl game

Florida Gators- While the Gators will still play for the SEC Championship on Saturday, the last couple weeks are incredibly discouraging for their fans. Needing overtime to beat FAU a couple weeks ago, the Gators played Florida State with an opportunity to remain in the playoff hunt. Unable to score a single point on offense, the Seminoles dominated the Gators 27-2.

Todd Gurley- The St Louis Rams’ running back had a fantastic start to his NFL career rushing for 125+ yards in four of his first five games but is yet to hit the century mark since, and is averaging just 2.5 yards per carry in his last two games.

 

 


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