Why Do the Red Wings Need a Lead Defenseman?

Written by :
Published on : July 11, 2016

 

 

Say what you will about General Manager Kenneth Mark Holland, but the man will do things. Inaction has never been a criticism of a Detroit Red Wings front office that was once feared and revered by NHL general managers and players alike. There was a time when, with a fell swoop, the likes of Brett Hull, Chris Chelios, Brian Rafalski, and Marian Hossa would join the already-legendary Wings locker room. These days, Hockeytown’s faithful are happy when that activity just turns out to be neutral, scarred by (among other ill-fated transactions) a Stephen Weiss debacle that remains one of the great disasters in the history of Red Wings free agency.

 

Dealt a poor hand at this summer’s outset when my father, Pavel Datsyuk, announced his retirement, King Kenny sat upon his Westeros-style carbon fiber and aluminum stick throne and somehow maneuvered an escape from the awful cap recapture penalty that would have sapped millions of dollars in flexibility. He showed the world he still had some juju by way of that draft-day deal in which he traded back a few spots in the draft for an extra pick and the right not to have an empty cap-hit on the books. Not bad, but for some reason Wings fans used this as a springboard to prime themselves for a gilded entrance into “The Stamkos Race,” as if there wasn’t an enormous problem in the back end to address first.

 

 

Quickly missing out on one of the game’s elite players is forgivable considering nobody else got a sniff, either. The door was closed before Holland could get a foot in. However, the velocity with which it slammed shut begs the important question of why any “star” would want to join a team without a best defender in the first place. Having the space without the structure will never appeal to the mega-stars; ask Kevin Durant about that one.

 

Niklas Kronwall Is Not A First-Pairing NHL Defenseman

It’s somewhat surprising that the once-vaunted Red Wings defense has actually put up great numbers over the past few years. Since 2014, the Wings have the lowest defensive zone start percentage in the NHL, indicating that the puck just isn’t near the Wings’ goal all that much. Similarly, the Wings rank 9th in overall goals against in that span. That’s pretty solid!

 

Last year, however, the deeply ineffective power-play, with its affinity for allowing short-handed goals, shone light through a key crack in the wall: Niklas Kronwall is simply no longer equipped to be more than a second-pairing defender. His personal numbers are awful. He was minus-21 last year, and hasn’t had a plus-season since 2011. He scored 26 points in 64 games, looked sluggish and more than a step behind, and almost never deployed the once-beloved bone-crushing hits that used to be a trademark. The advanced numbers are astonishingly bad:

 

Kronwall Decline
Courtesy of http://stats.hockeyanalysis.com/

 

Kronwall has become a possession liability on a team that has dominated possession numbers in the NHL for years. His Corsi For%, a metric that aims to measure a player’s impact upon how many shots are directed towards the opponent’s net, has fallen dramatically for four years, to the point that Kronner’s numbers were net-negative last year. He’s not effective on the power play, and it could be argued that the yearly wear-and-tear of being asked to embody the twin-archetypes of the Red Wings Ideal Defenseman has taken its toll. He never possessed the composed offensive genius of Nicklas Lidstrom, nor the terrifying physical presence of Vladimir Konstantinov.

 

The Wings Don’t Have A Best Defenseman

Detroit is a long ways away from the time when its defense was a certainty. Arguably the greatest modern defenseman there ever was, Lidstrom’s soothing, angelic aura guaranteed stability even when he wasn’t on the ice. The Red Wings have never hurt for talent, but I was surprised while scanning rosters from the Red Wings dominant era from ‘97-09 to find that the defense wasn’t actually all that impressive in 2002, Scotty Bowman’s final, Stanley Cup-winning year:

 

Red Wings D 2002
Courtesy of http://www.hockey-reference.com/

 

Despite that core’s limitations (it probably didn’t hurt to have Dominik Hasek between the pipes), the presence of competent puck-moving defensemen to complement Lidstrom’s perfection, with Chelios’ experience and Dandenault’s speed, served as an invaluable way to ensure that there was talent on more than one line to get the puck out of the zone and into productive areas. This stood out even more so in other championship years:

 

1997-98: Lidstrom, Larry Murphy, Slava Fetisov, Vladimir Konstantinov
2002: Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, Matthieu Dandenault
2009: Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Kronwall, DEREK MEECH*

*May not have served an important role in any way

 

One thing that we know for sure is that The God Lidstrom is not lacing up those skates again. Looking to the Red Wings current roster, just a bit past the heinous bog vapors of Kronwall and frequent line-mate Jonathan Ericsson, Brendan Smith actually posts some very good Corsi numbers, and has been a fan favorite for his grit, bravery, and willingness to not try and fight Zdeno Chara and embarrass us all. His improved ability to forcefully carry the puck out of the zone, and the reduction of his abysmal turnover habit, might make him a neat fit for that 1-B defender role, which is a sign of hope on a roster stocked with capable but flawed 2nd and 3rd-liners like Mike Green, Danny Dekeyser, and Alexey Marchenko. But there’s nothing to indicate that anyone on the Red Wings as they are currently composed can fulfill the role of a number-one defenseman.

 

The market remains foggy as to what it will take to get that rare, competent first-pairing defender. Showing a bit more swag, Holland made it clear that he wouldn’t be fleeced for teenage star Dylan Larkin in trade discussions with the St. Louis Blues for standout Kevin Shattenkirk, as was the case when Edmonton GM Peter Chiarelli recently traded 24 year-old human bullet Taylor Hall for pretty okay guy Adam Larsson. At this point, if they want a real lead defender, Wings fans might have to steel themselves for an “anyone but Larkin” package and count on saying goodbye to a favorite like Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, a youngster like Anthony Mantha or Andreas Athanasiou, or even more.

 

Stats Courtesy of Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com and hockey-reference.com

 

 


Kings of the game: 21

Written by :
Published on : May 29, 2016

 

 

Chances are, if you grew up playing basketball in some capacity, you’re familiar with the rules of the game 21. My first time playing, I was not. Mainly because I didn’t understand the concept of tipping the ball back in—any buckets I drained were usually zeroed out within moments. Nobody told me what to do. Nobody spared me the embarrassment. Part of the beauty of the game is that it’s you against the world, a showcase for the arsenal of shots, fakes, and (in my case) fancy turnovers at your disposal.

 

Given that the game is so different from traditional 5-on-5 basketball, an important question arises: who is the greatest 21 player of all time? Is it just MJ, hands down the GOAT? What about the other Goat, street hoops legend Earl Manigault, famed for snatching quarters from the tops of backboards? Perhaps the greatest 21 player of all time isn’t even a basketball player; maybe, for some reason, it’s Charlie Adam, currently a reserve player for Stoke City FC in the Barclays Premier League.

 

 

The ScoreBoredSports hoops-loving staff asks this question in the heat of the playoffs, while our minds are most finely attuned to the rhythms of Dr. Naismith’s beautiful game.

 

Antoine Poutine’s pick: Allen Iverson

My candidate is the absolute embodiment of three of what I believe are the game of 21’s most crucial aspects.

 

 

Shot Making: If you can’t put the ball in the basket, there’s little hope of staying competitive for very long. Knockout versions of the game might even get you bounced altogether. So a great 21 player needs to be able to get past his man and create a shot, but also make the damn thing. AI, the Answer, is pound-for-pound the greatest shot-maker in the history of basketball.

 

Stealing the ball: If you don’t have the ball in 21, you can’t win the game. Getting it back is priority number one if you’ve lost it. There also aren’t any team-defense concepts out there, no wrinkles, no zone. Just rip the damn ball from your man. AI is the NBA single-game playoff record holder for steals with 10 (!) against the Orlando Magic in 1999. He’s 12th all-time in career steals in the NBA.

 

Me against the World: Nobody better embodies what’s at the core of 21, which is to prove yourself on your own merits. No practice, no team, no teammates. Just your game. Allen Iverson is the purest gamer in basketball’s history, for better and worse. It doesn’t make him the all-time greatest player, but perhaps the one best suited for the brutal gauntlet that is 21.

 

Bruno Tysh’s pick: Kevin Durant

He can literally do it all. He has the size and skill perfect for the iso play of 21.

 

KD flex

 

OffenseKD excels at creating his own shot. He can use his dribble to either get off a clean jumper or just straight power to the basket. I don’t see many defenders with the size and speed to guard him effectively.

 

Defense: The length is the key here. That wingspan allows him to stay a step back while still being all over you. Durant also has the foot speed to recover and make a play at the rim. Dude will swat some shots.

 

Tip ins: This ends the conversation. If any opponent misses then Durant will be right there for the tip in. Guy is tall and can jump out the gym, so good luck. Only way to beat KD could be to never miss. Ever.

 

Alex Jag’s pick: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Before LeBron, before Jordan, before Magic, there was Kareem (and before ’71 there was Lew, but it’s kind of confusing).

 

 

Offense: Two words: Sky hook. If you watch the above video you can see that that shit is damn near unstoppable. How in the hell do you defend something like that? Kareem was a beast with the ball in his hand. He could drive the ball down the court and once he did he would use his 7’2″ frame to create space and just go up over the top of you and drop the ball in the net. With either hand! Try to tell me anyone else on this list could defend that.

 

Defense: The key here is Kareem’s shot blocking ability. Any one of these other guys who try to put the ball up are going to be in for a rude awakening. Kareem had the height and the jumping ability to send that basketball right back in their face. He was the NBA blocks leader four times and was selected to eleven All-NBA defensive teams.

 

Tip ins: This one relates to his defensive abilities. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a tall, big body that barely had to try to get himself up to the rim. This game would just be too easy for him. Plus, he was great in Airplane!

 

Phred Brown’s Pick: Reggie Miller

These are the things you need to win a game of 21: great shooting, even better free throw shooting, a little bit of height and a sharp tongue. For these reasons, I believe Reggie Miller would be the greatest threat in a game of 21.

 

 

Offense: By the time someone steps out to play D, he’s already hit a three. With his great free throw shooting, be prepared watch him run the table. The post-up, mid range game is not much of a factor in 21. If you are winning 21, you’re either a big man living off the tip-in or a good outside shooter. Reggie Miller being one of the best in the latter category.

 

Defense: Miller is long enough to grab an errant rebound and all he needs is one. And seeing as there are many guys behind you waiting to play defense, incredible stopping ability isn’t needed. Reggie is better off hanging outside the lane and looking for steals or rebounds.

 

X factor: He can talk some good trash all while hitting shots.

 

 

Did we leave out your favorite baller? And don’t say Air Bud. Drop your non-canine thoughts in the comments below.

 

Game.

 

 


Power Kings: Leceister Wins It All

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Published on : May 3, 2016

 

 

By now you’ve read the numbers, the plaudits, the hyperbole and celebration of it all. All deserved, scraped and fought for, Leceister City won the Barclays Premier League without actually playing on Monday. It was the heated cross-town rivalry between Tottenham Hotspurs and Chelsea Oligarchs that determined the champions’ fate. Chelsea roared back to tie Tottenham and hamstring the Spurs’ last hopes of keeping up with the Fearless Foxes.

 

This year’s Leceister FC was a panacea for international football. They were such a force of luck, energy, positivity, and consistency, that everything seemed to be written. They were pulled together through excellent scouting, redemptive second-chances, and hard work. There were no big-money transfers — N’Golo Kante cost less than £10 million, chump change in a league ruled by oil money.

 

NGolo-Kante

 

Even when Jamie Vardy revealed that he isn’t the greatest dude, then scored in eleven straight games, the narrative remained relentless. Although Vardy popped in the most goals, the beating heart of the team’s attack was Riyad Mahrez, whose timeliness, touch, and sense of space created as many goals. Unsurprising that he was named the player of the year in the Premier League.

 

The team had spine. The triad of N’Golo Kante, footballing golem Robert Huth, and team captain Wes Morgan all combined as a formidable shield for 2nd-generation starting Premier League goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. Kante prowled the field with speed and ferocity like a Strong Safety, never putting a wrong foot or mis-timing a tackle. Huth and Morgan were mobile pillars, dominant in the air and just fast enough to survive. Austrian Bundesliga castoff, Christian Fuchs, was a learned presence on the flank and provided reliable crossing service.

 

There’s also the luck. Leceister used the fewest players of any team this season, 23. Once famed for being such a restless manager they called him “The Tinkerman,” Claudio Ranieri barely changed his lineup all year. He barely had to, sustaining few injuries throughout the year. This, more than anything, is the most un-repeatable aspect of Leceister’s title.

 

Vardy

 

Though if you saw him, Ranieri’s kindly visage might make you wonder what he was doing not feeding ducks bread at a pond, he played luck’s harp expertly. He retained the assistant coaching staff so the players wouldn’t hate him. He made Jamie Vardy not shoot in practice, so as to have more time to be racist in private. This worked out in heavenly fashion, as everyone was essentially healthy for the entire year, they all loved and fought for each other, and they turned out to be champions.

 

The solution might not be billions, or a “special” manager, or galactic star power. Sometimes it’s more about the lightning and how you catch it.

 

 


The Sports-Observer’s Paradox

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Published on : February 6, 2016

 

 

 

According to noted scholar Erwin Tillinghast’s Wikipedia page, the Observer’s Paradox is described thusly:

 

In the social sciences, (and physics and experimental physics,) the observer’s paradox refers to a situation in which the phenomenon being observed is unwittingly influenced by the presence of the observer/investigator

 

The implication, then, is that the mere act of observation itself has the power to affect that which is being observed, including its outcome.  So it’s not unreasonable for me to assume that when I watch a game, I have a certain and unique influence on the score.  As a fan, knowing this inarguable fact is validating and, perhaps, delusional.  Surely, ritualistically kissing my Vladimir Konstantinov and Sergei Mnastakanov “Believe” patch, yet to be sewn onto my Darren McCarty Jersey, had a singular sway on the ’98 Detroit Red Wings-Washington Capitals Stanley Cup Final!

 

But taken to its logical extreme, this reality can also have terrible consequences.  For instance: that yellowish (not maize) Block-M shirt I wear? A definite bad luck charm for the University of Michigan Football team, but good for the Men’s Basketball team.  Skip watching a Wings home game? Whoops, turns out Larkin scored four hat-tricks.  Watch the next game, and it’s another third period meltdown.  What happens when the Sports-Observer’s Paradox goes wrong?

 

This Sports-Observer’s Paradox covers the unfortunate experience of your viewership befouling the entire existence of a high-level athlete.  Every time you watch this supposed all-star, it’s anything but an all-star experience.  They can’t hit a shot! You also know the feeling too well, when your friends are talking about Athlete X and glowing about that one goal or that clutch shot; you’re confused, because you know that this player is hyped and popular, but you thought at least your buds would get it.  Each time you watch Athlete X, they’re stumbling over themselves, dribbling in circles, or shooting the puck / ball / whatever out of bounds to the benefit of nobody.  Are you somehow ruining these fools?

 

Hockey: Rick Nash

(stats courtesy of Hockey-Reference.com)

The story to tell here is not so complicated.  Every time I watch this guy, he becomes a sluggy vortex of avarice, happier to shoot the puck in the general direction of the goal than to pass it to a teammate.  I guess it’s okay to be a big goal-scorer if you’re a prolific beast who hits and pelters the goal with a hailstorm of galvanized fury; Rick Nash is a marshmallow.  He’s a gummy, semi-hardened marshmallow that’s been through the ringer, but still a marshmallow.  He’s a goal scorer that doesn’t score enough to be such a terrible creator and provider.  He needs to give up the rock.  Shit or get off the pot, as they say.

 

Rick Nash Regular Season Stats

 

Nash is likely to plop a goal in when I’m not watching, but since he joined New York, he’s played dozens of nationally televised games.  Many of these came during the last two years, during which time Nash’s Rangers played 44 playoff games.  That’s two deep Stanley Cup runs, which can be a drain both physically and mentally when a player is locked in.  But when a player is Rick Nash, they only score EIGHT TIMES IN FORTY-FOUR GAMES.    That’s $8 Million a year well-spent!  Gotta love an all-star that excels when it doesn’t matter, and makes no one around him better.  Rick Nash: deadly once every six games.

 

To be fair, many, many other people have also seen this version of Rick Nash.

 

Rick Nash Playoff Stats

 

 

Soccer: Arjen Robben

It’s not even a secret, but rather a defining trait: Arjen Robben has a signature move.  He cuts left.  He has a very, very deadly left foot.  He loves his left foot.

 

 

He loves it for a reason. One would think that this predictability would be a tremendous Achilles’ heel, and every time I watch him, that looks to be true.  He’s maddeningly predictable, but not just in that move; his featherlight, dainty paws are vulnerable to tackles, grass, wind, and strong emotions.  If an opponent feels a powerful sense of ennuí, Robben is likely to fall over and draw an unwarranted card.  Yet…

 

Robben Fall

 

…It works! But still, fuck this guy, right?  What a flamboyantly aggressive display of spinelessness.  I actually saw this moment, which was technically a very positive outcome for the Dutch national team.  But what’s good for the Oranje is not always good for the sport. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the unbecoming flair of this floppery is directly caused by the incompetence of all soccer refereeing, but still — it’s not a good look.  Whenever I watch Robben, this is the best he can do.  I always miss the incredible moments that are apparently happening.

 

You look at that, and it’s easy to say that these lousy Barcelona defenders are fools to have put themselves in such a vulnerable position only to fall prey to a guy who can’t even use his right foot!  He ALWAYS CUTS LEFT.

 

Robben cuts right

 

HE GOES… to his right foot

…Except when he doesn’t.  But of course,  I’m always at work at that time, and I never see those moments, or any of the other brilliant, shameless antics.  So he remains a craven chump to me.

 

The examples go on and on, such as the excellent quarterback mirage of Carson Palmer 2014-15; Kyrie Irving, the best player on the planet that I’ve never seen do anything on the court when there are any sort of stakes; ditto for NHL goalkeeper Roberto Luongo.  Is this the result of some faulty alignment of all the parallel universes in existence? A tear in the space-time continuum? String theory?

 

The ScoreBoredSports Science Division is currently hard at work researching this phenomenon in our secret hydroponic laboratory.  While we wait for the answers, you, the reader, can help by asking yourselves: which athlete is your paradox?

 

 


ScoreBoredSports NFL Staff Picks: Super Bowl

Written by :
Published on : February 4, 2016

 

 

 

Super Bowl 50 is nearly upon us. All I can see in my head is Ace Ventura whispering those magic words that the game is almost here. I love it all: the food, the commercials, the half time show. And sometimes the game is even fun. Not two years ago though. Seattle killed Denver from the first snap. That was one the most lopsided contests I’ve seen in a while. Well maybe the Panthers ripping the Cardinals in the NFC Championship was close a second. Never send a bird to do a cat’s job. Back to the main event. What time is it Ace?

 

 

 

We have the epic showdown of the Denver Broncos versus the Carolina Panthers. A clash of new and old. Cam Newton versus Peyton Manning. The Panthers look solid and seem poised to bring a trophy back to Charlotte. And I like how the Panthers decided to let South Carolina also have a NFL team by cutting the word “North” from their name. That was sweet of them to include their weird little brother. One the other side, we have Peyton. Most would say the greater Manning even if he has less rings than his weird little brother, Eli. That can all change February 7th, 2016.

 

Going into the the big game, we have a three way tie with in the picks with Ryan, Treasure and yours truly. To ensure we don’t end tied, we have each writer also guess the final score. If we are still even, then closest score without going over will be named champ. Standard Price is Right rules. I have the Panthers winning big. I think Cam and the boys will be able to run and that will open up chunk plays through the air or scrambling when the pocket breaks down. Denver’s defense looked great against a one dimensional Patriots offense but that won’t be the same case against Carolina. If I win the playoff picks, I promise to take my girlfriend out to a fancy dinner. Doesn’t that sound nice. Go me!

 

Here is ScoreBoredSports staff picks for the Super Bowl:

 

Super Bowl

 

Wow, everyone has the Panthers winning. I didn’t see that coming. I hope they win so we don’t all look like fools. More importantly, I hope they win by 14 points. Also, no one tell Peyton. It might crush him to find out that no one at SBS thinks he can win even with that killer defense.

 

Conference Championships

Divisional Round

Wild Card

 

And don’t forget about our party we are hosting here in Los Angeles.

 

SB50Flyer

 

 

 


ScoreBoredSports NFL Staff Picks: Conference Championship

Written by :
Published on : January 20, 2016

 

 

 

Football is not stupid. It is unpredictable.

 

 

I came in dead last with my regular season picks, which serves me right since my picks weren’t based on anything other than a false gut feeling about which teams would win games.

 

In the postseason, however, I redeemed my shameful last staff member standing and am now in a three-way tie with Bruno and Ryan. And just when I began to feel like a cool kid, I hit a wall.

 

It was helpful to look at the regular season standings to pick teams in the postseason, but this technique wasn’t so helpful in determining which team would take the Conference Championships. The Broncos and the Patriots are both 12-4 in the regular season, which makes this mutually assured destruction with pigskin.

 

I have no idea who to pick.  Thanks to South Park‘s Eric Cartman, I know the Patriots will stop at nothing to win even if that means cheating and stealing. For some reason I cannot explain, my gut says Peyton Manning will win it. It’s the right thing to do. My boyfriend has appealed to my emotions by telling me that the former Trojan and current QB for the Cardinals, Carson Palmer, is likely to retire this season or the next. He says it would be nice to see Palmer win a ring before his playing days are over. I say of course! He must fight on for ‘ol SC and it would be cool to see. If that were to happen, and if the Broncos win their Conference game, then the Super Bowl would be a battle of the veterans between Manning and Palmer. I’m not a big fan, but football, you’ve now got my attention.

 

It seems that these upcoming Conference games are toughies and promise to be good shows.

 

So who takes the Conference Championships? I’ve called it for the Broncos, but I’m debating wether I’ll change my mind and call Alex last minute and say the Patriots! As a Trojan, I’m going with the Cardinals.

 

Here are your ScoreBoredSports NFL Playoff staff picks for the AFC/NFL Conference Championship:

 

Conference Championships

 

 

Divisional Round

Wild Card

 

 


ScoreBoredSports NFL Playoff Staff Picks: Wild Card Round

Written by :
Published on : January 8, 2016

 

 

Wow, what a crazy NFL regular season it has been. Tons of surprises on all fronts. Like the Carolina Panthers, who turned out to be absolutely amazing. Meanwhile, their cat-bros up north, my Detroit Lions, started the 2015 campaign off so poorly (1-7) that their above-average finish (6-2) turned out to be meaningless. Unless you count how it probably saved the job of their below-average head coach, Jim Caldwell. Add that to all of these horribly depressing rumors regarding Calvin Johnson’s possible retirement, and we are about par-for-the-course in terms of end of the year misery for us Lions fans.

 

As for the ScoreBoredSports Regular Season NFL Staff Picks, they went about how we thought they would for most of the year. Ryan had about one bad week all season and was never in any real danger of losing the contest. That’s ok guys, we will get him next year. And hats off to you Mr Jaquith. It’s about time for you to start putting those skills to use and get your sports gambling career off the ground.

 

Now that the pain of the regular season has been dealt with, we turn our attention to the time of year when I don’t have to worry about my emotional state because my team is never around for the playoffs. For the ScoreBoredSports NFL Playoff Staff Picks, the slate has been wiped clean and everybody starts from the same place. It’s like an entirely new contest all together. So suck on that, Ryan.

 

It looks like the road teams are getting a ton of love from the SBS Staff and that seems a bit surprising. The only road team that I think is a lock to win is the Seahawks. If you’ve seen them play recently then you understand what I mean. Sorry Bryce, it’s not like I don’t think the Vikings are any good, because I do, it’s just that Seattle has been here before and their defense and QB are playing pretty out of this world right now. And Marshawn Lynch is back at full speed, and running on a fresh set of legs. Prepare for some classic ‘beast mode’ moments. I know it hurts, but it’s ok. There’s always next year….

 

The Wild Card Picks:

Divisional Round

 

Week 17

 

 


ScoreBoredSports NFL Staff Picks: Week 17

Written by :
Published on : January 2, 2016

 

 

Well folks, it’s been an incredible year making picks for the all the SBS staff. We’re a bunch of smart motherfuckers. Though there was a heated competition and I am currently a distant second, I will make my boldest prediction yet: I will become the ScoreBoredSports NFL Staff Picks Champion. In fact, here is an excerpt of my acceptance speech:

 

 

But the real point here is more exposé than anything. What the hell got into SBS Editor and possible PED user Bruno? Here we are in a two-man race between myself and Ryan, comfortable on our laurels, when all of a sudden this dude Bruno gets the Shining and mounts a ridiculous comeback. In the last five weeks he’s been among the top two in picks, including blowing us all (out of the water) this past week. Sick of it. Someone needs to dig up the dirt.

 

Moving on, the trickiest game on the slate this week for me to pick was the Cardinals – Seahawks matchup, mainly because they’re both damn good.  The game is in Arizona, but there’s very little at stake for the Cards, already having won the NFC west, while Seattle and Russell Wilson were straight up Megachurching everyone in their path before that unfortunate Rams loss (yes, when it applies to Russell Wilson on the football field, I believe “Megachurch” can be used as a verb). That loss makes this game critical for the Seabirds, not so much for the Sandbirds, so I went with Seattle.

 

That about does it for the ScoreBoredSports NFL Staff Picks for this year.  Thanks so much to the readers, we sincerely hope that you made money gambling illegally, using our tried-and-true methods of nonsense.  Here’s to a great end of the NFL season, playoffs, Super Bowl, and hopefully a Roger Goodell Satan-worshipping scandal in the off-season.

 

My New Year’s resolution for 2016:

 

 

Week 17

 

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

Week 11

Week 12

Week 13

Week 14

Week 15

Week 16

 

 


Barclays Premier League: Christmas Carousel

Written by :
Published on : December 30, 2015

 

 

For anyone interested in watching footy in America, the Christmas season is unparalleled. Many teams in Barclays Premier League play an absurd three matches in a week, eschewing all reasonable expectations for the human body to maintain itself. Luckily, teams like Arsenal have already gone through their yearly pandemic of injuries, so hopefully the Gunners are now in the clear, especially after persevering to a relatively successful holiday slate.

 

The highlight of this Christmas season was Tuesday’s match between Premiership contenders Leceister City and Manchester City, in second and third place, respectively. It was a fascinating, albeit scoreless contest, as English football’s pre-eminent economic powerhouse, Manchester City, battled the upstart Leceister City. Leceister rode in on an unlikely wave of brilliance from a trio of unheralded players in Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy, and N’Golo Kante. The teams were surprisingly even, as City’s big guns couldn’t find any fluid combinations. Their best chances came by way of Raheem Sterling and his highly-overrated jet boosters; on the other side, each of the aforementioned troika had various opportunities borne of Leceister’s high pressure.

 

Yet the most buzzy match was clearly Monday’s supposed clash of titans, Manchester United and Chelsea. Each team has experienced its own brand of turmoil of late, with both managers being raked over the coals by the petulant English media. Whereas Jose Mourinho was the architect of his own demise as Chelsea’s season collapsed, Louis Van Gaal has had to navigate a morass of impulsive criticism about a fairly bad, but not disastrous run of form.

 

 Van Gaal

 

Van Gaal’s problem has stemmed from the appearance that his team is bereft of creativity; similarly, many of the transfers under Van Gaal have not panned out fully (Darmian, Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin) or fizzled out terribly (Depay, Di Maria). It was clear, however, that on Monday, Manchester United was a team that simply was having hard luck. Absurdly inconsistent officiating, two shots off the woodwork, and near-misses all contributed to an ineffectual afternoon. But the performance was dominant in possession and they generated far more chances than did Chelsea. Anthony Martial, arguably Van Gaal’s best signing, continues to look like the next Thierry Henry; the 19 year-old may not be there yet, but he’s special. Juan Mata similarly buzzed around the pitch. Even Ander Herrera, another holdover from the David Moyes era of acquisitions, looked like a heady contributor.

 

On the opposite side, Chelsea looked like a team that was utterly psychologically broken. Their play was so disjointed that it seemed more a collection of talented athletes who may or may not have had any experience at all playing soccer. This is the indelible mark of Jose Mourinho, the Special One, the coach with a personality (disorder) that is inexorably stamped on all of his teams. The lovely problem Jose brings to bear is that his team has been so stamped with his personality that they are now flattened into oblivion. It’s almost as if, with every basic pass misfired, every buffoonish first touch, the voice of Jose remains in the heads of these players, undermining and second-guessing every decision.

 

 Mourinho

 

Last year the Telegraph published an article about sports psychology in football, describing “positive self-talk,” a key strategy used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The idea is that the more positive things you tell yourself, the more positive influence that has on neuro-psychological functioning:

“Negativity and criticism is associated with the stress hormone cortisol, which reduces the ability of the frontal lobe to function effectively. Positive, energized language releases dopamine, which is linked to certainty and confidence, as well as noradrenaline and DHEA which enable your prefrontal lobe to fire more effectively.”

 

Jose’s lingering ghost serves an opposite function; after all, he’s the manager whose work is “betrayed” by players. A manager who berates team doctors. Jose has a flair for maddening opponents with the perfect cutting remark. Imagine the cumulative effect this type of personality has on the players; no wonder Jose flames out of every job after a few years.

 

 

This is why Monday’s listless, scoreless draw in which Manchester dominated and Chelsea looked a disaster was such pleasurable schadenfreude. The rumor mill churns, and the folks at Old Trafford are considering bringing old Jose on to replace the venerable Van Gaal, as if no manager is ever afforded the benefit of the doubt amid a run of bad luck. It’s a dangerous game to look past the picket fence and long for greener grass; there is little guarantee that anything will improve. Even with one of football’s most accomplished managers in Mourinho, the coaching carousel can be a treacherous ride. Judging from Monday’s Chelsea performance, Manchester United’s faithful may want to consider staying on their current horse for the time being.

 

 


ScoreBoredSports NFL Staff Picks: Week 16

Written by :
Published on : December 24, 2015

 

Sweet week 16. I’m still in 3rd place with a shot to overtake Antoine. A bunch of jerks behind me. Unless Ryan is unable to get to a computer then the prize is his. Unrelated, would anyone be interested in stealing a computer for me? I’ll pay. The winner of this year’s Staff Picks will receive a pretty dope trophy. Trust me, you want it. This trophy will rotate year to year with the champion. Who knows, maybe even YOU can hoist it. Write us something, join the staff and win next year!

 

I had a solid week with a 13-3 record. Only Roger and Joe (both 14-2) did better. Overall we killed it. It’s almost like we are getting better at this as the year goes on. Wild. I’m going with a few road dogs hoping to keep last week’s trend rolling. I think Washington has a solid shot at Philly. I’ll take Pats, Panthers, Texans, Bears and Steelers. All on the road. I have the Cards at home over the Packers. If AZ can run the ball like the did last Sunday then they should cruise but this is the time of year Rodgers likes to go off. So keep an eye on this one. GB wins big here and they march into the playoffs with some real energy. I’d hate that.

 

Can the Panthers stay undefeated? I’m not betting against them. Even in a divisional game. I see Cam Newton dancing (dabbing?) into more end zones but is coach Ron Rivera going to sit him at some point? To preserve him for the postseason. I mean, he is a running QB. One good hit and that team is in serious trouble. Winning the Super Bowl is more important than going 16-0. But they have the first round bye locked up. And if he sits too long then that may ruin the offensive rhythm. So I don’t even know what the right call is. Either way, they beat Atlanta.

 

I hope to god I don’t finish in 3rd so people stop calling me “Bronze Medal Bitch Bruno.” Here are your picks—

 

Week 16

 

 

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

Week 11

Week 12

Week 13

Week 14

Week 15

 

 


ScoreBoredSports NFL Staff Picks: Week 15

Written by :
Published on : December 17, 2015

 

Here we sit on the precipice of week 15. The ScoreBoredSports NFL Staff Picks are almost done for the season and what a fun ride it has been. At least for Ryan and Antoine, who are the only ones who have had a legit shot at the title since the beginning of the year. With 3 weeks of picks left, it’s not likely that Ryan is going to be unseated from the top spot. I suppose he could have a couple of bad weeks and I could miraculously catch up, but this guy just seems to know how to pick winners. He’s a madman who can’t be stopped, and he should probably start gambling on sports.

 

But we can talk about Ryan’s future gambling addiction some other time, right now let’s look at this exciting slate of games. Actually the only game that really looks exciting to me is Panthers at Giants. Mostly because these last fews Panthers games are going to be really suspenseful as they try to go undefeated, but also because it seems like the Giants are finally starting to put it together. Some of that bad luck has turned into late season good luck with that win over the Dolphins last week and they sit in a 3-way tie for the top spot in the abysmal NFC East.

 

There’s also a bunch of garbage matchups, either between good teams who will crush their bad opponents ( Titans @ Patriots, Browns @ Seahawks), or between two bad teams ( Dolphins @ Chargers, Lions @ Saints.) Either way, those will all be hard games to watch, but we’ll watch ’em anyways, because it’s football. And we love football!

 

On to the picks…..

Week 15

 

 

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

Week 11

Week 12

Week 13

Week 14

 

 


ScoreBoredSports NFL Staff Picks: Week 14

Written by :
Published on : December 10, 2015

 

Hi, I’m Sandy, but no, I’m not a female. However, I am the staff writer that follows the NFL the least avidly despite working at NFL Red Zone last season (HINT: there’s a reason they wouldn’t have me back this year….).

 

So, it’s Week 14 and I couldn’t be happier that it’s almost the postseason for a litany of reasons. What makes me the happiest about entering the third trimester of the 2015-16 NFL season’s pregnancy is that SportsCenter will soon reach that sweet spot of the year in February where they’re basically only showing NBA highlights, and in my world NBA reigns supreme. The next best reason to be happy the regular season is almost over: Super Bowl parties. I do kind of love football, but my favorite part of football is easily the eating that goes along with it. Plus, playoff games are way better in general, but also because my team, the Detroit Lions, won’t be able to break my heart and open my mind to the possibility of NFL conspiracy theories against The D. Their season will simply be over. Football in the snow is cool too.

 

Granted I’m the least knowledgable writer for SBS regarding football, I’ve done pretty well predicting winners this season. As for this week, I predict the NFL to beat the film Concussion on account of Will Smith trying out a weird accent. When Will Smith is kicking ass in action movies, we all win. The Lions might lose the rest of their games, or least the ones they should win, but the NFL will always be undefeated against concussions, but will the Panthers?

Here are the ScoreBoredSports NFL Staff Picks for Week 14:

 

Week 14

 

Week 1

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Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

Week 11

Week 12

Week 13

 

 


ScoreBoredSports NFL Staff Picks: Week 13

Written by :
Published on : December 3, 2015

 

As we head back to the grind after a holiday weekend, the clearing smoke shows that Bryce had a massive week and that Ryan and Antoine remain monsters. I managed to have my best week yet, inching up ever so slightly above last place.

 

This week I’m going to focus on my favorite topic: Me. Why am I so bad at this? I’d say I follow the NFL much closer than your average bear, and I’d like to think I’m reasonably intelligent, somewhat articulate, bearable to be around, and potentially attractive to the opposite sex in very low-light situations. I think for me it comes down to historical biases, as opposed to emotional ones. Even without Romo, the Cowboys gotta win one or two, right? Wrong. These second year quarterbacks are on a jag that’s gonna last forever, right? Wrong. The Seahawks are damn near a dynasty by now, right? Wrong.

 

Much like fashion, a chameleon’s ass, and your favorite String Cheese Incident poster after you’ve dropped acid, the individual wins and short term trends of any season are ever changing and fluctuating, even if we tend to focus on the established records of perennially winning teams when it’s over. I for one, am going to try and read those tea leaves with a closer focus on the immediate now as opposed to the macro picture, and may very well allow myself one emotional bias. The Lions are at least gonna be a contender in the NFC North, right? WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

 

Here are your staff picks for week 13:

 

Week 13

 

 

Week 1

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Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

Week 11

Week 12

 

 


ScoreBoredSports NFL Staff Picks: Week 12

Written by :
Published on : November 25, 2015

 

Thursday is Thanksgiving, the holiday that football owns the same way that Bill Murray owns Groundhog Day. It’s inescapable. If you’re not watching it on TV or playing it in the front yard, then you’re probably hiding in the kitchen filling up on hors d’oeuvres and making small talk with your boring cousin. Good luck with that. I’ll see you at halftime.

 

Meanwhile, these ScoreBoredSports NFL Staff Picks remains a tight race. Ryan and Antoine still lead the pack. I find myself squarely in the middle —  ten points away from both highest and lowest record. Oh, and Alex and Mike both have the same stats (95-65). Not bad? Not good enough. All it takes it one good/bad week to change everything.

 

I’m not much for trash talk, so I’m going the opposite route this week — passive aggressive kindness. Enjoy your Thanksgiving, SBS staffers, and good luck with this week’s picks. Don’t choke.

 

Week 12

 

 

 

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

Week 11

 

 


ScoreBoredSports NFL Staff Picks: Week 11

Written by :
Published on : November 19, 2015

 

Hello out there everyone,

It’s been since week 1 that I’ve written the intro to these ScoreBoredSports NFL Staff Picks, and what a rollercoaster of a ride it has been. I spent the first few weeks in the basement of the standings but since then, I’ve really turned things around. I’ve had a 1st or 2nd place record for the past 4 weeks and I’m clawing my way back to relevance. Sure, I’m still 11 correct picks behind Antoine and Ryan but if they have just a couple more stinkers like last week then I’ll be right in the thick of it. I think I can, I think I can…

 

There are a few interesting trends in the way the SBS Staff picked this week’s slate of games. For instance, the Jaguars are the consensus winner over the Titans, as if the Jags are some sort of standard of excellence nowadays (or maybe the Titans are just THAT bad). Also, the Lions seems to have restored faith amongst quite a few of us here and as a lifelong Lions fan, that is the perfect time for them to let everyone down. Besides that, everyone is picking the Patriots and Panthers to win their respective games and remain the last two undefeated teams. How great would it be for both of them to lose? Anyways let’s get to the picks.

 

Week 11

 

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

 

 

 

 

 


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