Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Nets and Dwight Howard

Let me start off by just saying, the Nets are in deep trouble. We can start calling them the Brooklyn Nets, as Jay-Z will be taking the team out of the best state in the country (NJ bias) in a year. Regardless, the Nets may have a better group of owners, but they certainly can't match that on the court. The team is simply built to fail right now. In a very tough conference with a large group of superstars, the Nets can finally claim they have one; however, they have really nothing past Deron Williams.

Taking a look at the roster, there's only one other guy than Deron Williams that I'd even like to have on my team: Brook Lopez. The 7-foot Center averaged just over 20 points a game with 6 rebounds. That's a lot of production from a 5, even with a lower than normal rebound rate. After Williams and Lopez, you've got a bunch of bench warmers that have been forced to start and play big minutes. The team clearly needs other options in order to compete.

Then there's Dwight Howard, who is entering his walk-year where the Magic will try and resign the worlds greatest Center. Howard is a difference-maker on both ends of the floor and can simply out-jump, out-rebound, and out-muscle every single player in the league. Howard will get a max contract without a doubt, but the Magic may choose to trade him if they don't believe they can resign him. This is where the Nets can finally make a difference for their future.

Deron Williams has expressed his desire to test the market next off-season as a free agent, and he too, will get a max contract. The Nets desperately want him to stay, but they simply don't have enough pieces to convince him they can contend. Therefore, a trade for Dwight Howard makes complete and total sense for the Nets. The only problem is if the Magic are ready to trade Dwight Howard and if they do, will it be to the Nets? The Lakers have shown interest and they can offer draft picks, as well as a combination of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol/Lamar Odom. The Lakers know Kobe Bryant's window is closing , so they are willing to do whatever it takes to get Kobe Bryant a playmaker in the paint that can win a couple of championships.

Although Bynum/Gasol/Odom are all big names and big-time players, I think the Magic would be better off trading with the Nets. It makes no sense for the Magic to get an aging Gasol or Odom when it's clear they couldn't compete with a roster headed by those players. The Nets can offer Brook Lopez, 2 1st round picks (definitely better than the Lakers 1st rounders), and a bunch of players that the Magic can basically hand-pick from the Nets roster. The Nets are willing to trade anybody other than Deron Williams if it means getting Dwight Howard. Pairing the two will provide an incentive to free agents to come and play in Brooklyn and potentially compete in 2013.

The Magic are desperately trying to get rid of Hedo Turkoglu's 3 year, $35 million deal, and the Nets have enough cap to absorb it. The Lakers on the other hand couldn't do that, playing in favor of the Nets. I expect this deal to happen eventually and probably in March (the proposed new trade deadline for the shortened season).

It's going to be a wild couple of weeks in the NBA, as teams gear up for the season starting on Christmas. No official roster moves can be made until December 9th, but teams can start talking to agents today at 9 AM Eastern.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Week 13 NFL Predictions

Boulder, CO - Sorry all, had to take off last week to deal with some family and personal stuff, but here are my week 13 NFL predicitons! BECAUSE ITS TUESDAY

Philadelphia vs Seattle - Seemingly a meaningless game, but the Eagles still have a very outside chance at the playoffs, and they need a win here in Seattle. Marshawn Lynch has been tearing up in the last 4 weeks with one TD in each game. Eagles on top 33-30

Carolina vs Tampa bay - Cam Newton faces another lackluster defense, and he will probably tear them up. Cam gets the win on the road 27-17

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh - A lot falls on this game. Andy Dalton and the Bengals try to continue their dream season, and need a win here to stay in the hunt for the division title. Can't see Dalton beating the Steelers just yet though (although Polamalu is banged up). Pittsburgh wins in another close game 24-21

Atlanta at Houston - Schuab is out, Leinert is out, so who does the texans turn to? T.J Yates? Atleast they have the leagues best rush offense, so I expect a lot of Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Atlanta has struggled this year on the road too with losses at Chicago, Tampa Bay, and barely escaping the Seahawks. It'll be fun to watch. Atlanta wins 38-21

NY Jets vs Washington - Every game is a playoff game for Rex and the Jets. Mark Sanchez needs to get his act together too in the first half of the game, and make better decisions. Jets win 24-10

Indianapolis vs New England - This game used to be exciting....Patriots dominate them 31-7

Oakland vs Miami - Miami almost beat Dallas, and continues to play spoiler down the stretch. Carson Palmer and the Raiders are tough to beat these days, even without McFadden. Oakland win 20-13

Denver vs Minnesota - Are you on the Tebow wagon yet? I am! I love this kid, plays with the most heart I have ever seen from a young quarterback. Plus the Denver D can effectively manhandle the mediocre Minnesota offense. Denver wins 10-3

Tennessee vs Buffalo - A must win for Buffalo to stay alive in the AFC wild card picture. Circle the wagons? Probably. Bills win 30-21

KC vs Chicago - Bears are struggling without Jay Cutler at the helm, and back up QB Hanie out of CSU just cant get the job done. Hard times in Chicago after promising start. Orton goes back to his old home, I'd like to see him win. Upset alert KC wins 27-20

Green Bay vs NY Giants - Green Bay keeps rolling. Giants keep falling. Green Bay blows them out 49-24

Baltimore at Cleveland - Colt McCoy coming off a big win, and Baltimore is easily the most inconsistent team on the road. Baltimore stands tall and wins 30-13

Dallas vs Arizona - Dallas can get some more separation this week from the Giants with a win. They control their own fate. Dallas win 35-20

St. Louis vs San Francisco - San Fran lost to a very good Baltimore team, and was held to only 6 points offensively, their worst showing all season long. Easy win, and they clinch their first division title since 2002. SF wins 21-10

Detroit vs New Orleans - Drew Brees is just too damn good sometimes....seriously. Staffords finger is still bothering him too, plus they will be without leading pass rusher Suh for a two game suspension. All the odds are against the Lions. Saints own them at home 45-21

San Diego vs Jacksonville - Both teams have practically nothing to play for. Rivers is a whining QB now, and he'll probably throw three more INTs. Jacksonville wins 21-20

Monday, November 28, 2011

Texans, Bears in Difficult Situations

A glance at the Bears and Texans records shows two football teams in great position to make a postseason run. Both teams, however, lost their starting QB's and may struggle to even make the playoffs. The Bears (7-4) are fighting for a wild card spot, but lost to the Raiders yesterday, as Caleb Hanie filled in for Jay Cutler, who is out for at least the regular season with a broken thumb. The Texans are in an even worse position, as their starting and backup QBs are now out for the season. Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart are done and now Gary Kubiak has to lean on rookie T.J. Yates for a playoff push.

Currently, the Texans are tied for the best record in the AFC at 8-3, holding a conference record tie-breaker over New England and Baltimore. The Texans don't seem as scary anymore though with their top two quarterbacks on the shelf. Houston has one of the best rushing attacks in all of football, but it will take more than that to beat quality opponents in January. Andre Johnson is back after a six-week absence, but can he succeed with Yates? Even as the #1 seed right now, Houston still isn't secure in the playoff race. Just 5 games remain, but there is a real possibility that the Texans will be playing for the division in Week 17 against Tennessee.

Houston has ATL, @CIN, CAR, @IND, and TEN left on their schedule. The Titans (6-5), who stand just two games back, have @BUF, NO, @IND, JAC, and @HOU remaining. I can't see T.J. Yates and the Texans beating Atlanta, Cincinnati, and even Carolina, so I believe Houston goes into the Tennessee game at 9-6. If Tennessee can win 3 of their next four, which I think they can do as long as they run the football the way they did yesterday, they will go into Houston with a chance to steal the division from the Texans. This division is all of a sudden up in the air as the injury bug is to blame for the Texans. Houston must run the ball successfully to win, so it will be interesting to see how defenses play against an unexperienced QB. I expect a lot of blitzes and 8-man fronts in order to force Yates into making a play.

Up North, the Chicago Bears saw their playoff hopes take a slight fall yesterday after losing to the Raiders. The Bears are still in good position, but I didn't like what I saw out of Hanie. We all know that Hanie can move around the pocket with the ball and make throws on the run, but he struggled yesterday, completing just 18 of his 36 attempts for 254 yards. He did throw 2 touchdown passes, but also had 3 interceptions. The Bears are best when they can run the ball and control the game. They ran the ball very well yesterday, with Hanie, Forte, and Barber all rushing over 50 yards; however, Hanie can't turn the ball over 3 times and expect to win.

The Bears realistically need to get to 10 wins in order to make the postseason via the wild card. The Lions and Falcons both are at 7-4, while the Giants play the Saints tonight in hopes to join the group. The Lions have a tough schedule as they have New Orleans and Green Bay still left. I see the Lions finishing at 9-7, a game short of the playoffs. The Giants have a very rough schedule, playing the Saints, Packers, and Cowboys twice in their last 6. They need to go 4-2, but I don't think they can do it. The Giants must steal one from the Saints or Packers for a shot at the Wild Card. The Falcons are in the best position of the four right now and I fully expect them to make the playoffs. The Falcons will get to 10 wins and could even win the division by beating the Saints in a few weeks.

That leaves the Bears muddled among these teams. The Bears must win three games to make the playoffs, which is feasible. It'll be tough for Chicago to win the smallest of games with Caleb Hanie behind center, but I'm sure he'll put in a lot of work again this week in hopes to put together a couple of wins. The Bears have winnable games remaining on the schedule, even with the Packers game looming in Week 16.

My Playoff Predictions as of Today:


1. Patriots
2. Ravens
3. Raiders
4. Texans
5. Steelers
6. Bengals


1. Packers
2. 49ers
3. Saints
4. Cowboys
5. Falcons
6. Bears

Monday, November 21, 2011

NFC Playoff Picture Week 12

Week 11 isn't completely over yet, but it is for the NFC. Their were two major headlines from yesterday's NFC teams: the Giants falling to the depleted Eagles and the Chicago Bears losing Jay Cutler for the rest of the regular season. Both stories affect the rest of the season drastically, as the Bears looked great in their victory against the Chargers and the Giants gave the Eagles a glimmer of hope. Last week I had 9 teams in the NFC competing for the 6 playoff spots, but Tampa Bay's comeback hopes fell short against the undefeated Packers. Tampa Bay is out in my books, leaving eight real possibilities.

I will not be listing the toughest remaining opponents this week, but if you click on each team name, it will direct you to their team page on ESPN.

Note: As I said last week, the teams are ranked based on their likelihood to make the playoffs. Each percentage takes into consideration the remaining schedule, % chance of winning division, and % chance of a wild card spot.

1. Green Bay Packers (10-0) - The Packers held on against the Bucs and the offense looked great in doing so. The defense is a little suspect, giving up a lot of opportunities to an anemic Buccaneer offense. This team is still the best, but it'll be a tough road to the Superbowl.

Chances of making playoffs: 100%

2. San Francisco 49ers (9-1) - The Niners can officially clinch the division next week with a win and Seattle loss. San Francisco is in great position to get at least the #2 seed in the playoffs, which will give them a bye in the first round. If Green Bay loses, the 49ers could push for the top spot.

Chances of making playoffs: 100%

3. New Orleans Saints (7-3) - New Orleans had a bye this week and their playoff prospects took a small hit because of the Falcons victory. The Saints have proven they can win big games and they have a few of them coming up soon. They must take care of business against the Falcons in Week 16, which will basically give them the division.

Chances of making playoffs: 95%

4. Chicago Bears (7-3) - I wanted to move the Bears down just because of Cutler's broken thumb, but just take a look at their schedule. They should be fine with Caleb Hanie behind center, as they will focus on getting Matt Forte the ball. Hanie will need to limit mistakes and play it safe. He showed us last season in the NFC Championship game that he can play, but he doesn't have to be a hero. The Bears are the favorites in 5 of their remaining 6 games and if they go 4-2, they'll be just fine.

Chances of making playoffs: 90%

5. Dallas Cowboys (6-4) - Here's the first change in the playoff picture compared to last week. The Cowboys were able to survive a scare from Washington as Graham Gano missed a 52 yarder in overtime giving the Cowboys' Dan Bailey an opportunity to win the game with a 39 yard field goal. It was a big win for the Cowboys, who play in three days against the Dolphins at home. Miami is hot, so it won't be an easy game.

Chances of making playoffs: 70%

6. Detroit Lions (7-3) - The Lions had another huge comeback against the Panthers, as they ended up with 49 points (35 coming in the 2nd half). Detroit had to win that game, so credit Matthew Stafford and company for coming up big when they were down early to Carolina. The schedule is not on their side, but the Lions should be fine if they get to 10-6.

Chances of making playoffs: 50%

7. New York Giants (6-4) - The loss last night was inexcusable. The Eagles were without their best player (Michael Vick) and best receiver (Jeremy Maclin). The Giants cannot win games if the put up just 10 points. Their defense is good and held the Eagles in check most of the night, but the offense needs to do better than they did yesterday. The Giants play the Saints and Packers in the next two weeks. A split would be a great result, putting them in position again in the division. If they lose both, they will likely go to Dallas down at least 1 game, maybe even 2.

Chances of making playoffs: 50%

8. Atlanta Falcons (6-4) - Atlanta must get to 10-6 in order to think about the Wild Card and probably 11-5 for the NFC South. Beating the Titans was a good start and the schedule is very favorable. Atlanta has a realistic shot at the playoffs, but they cannot afford to lose many more games.

Chances of making playoffs: 43%

Those are my remaining 8 playoff contenders. As you notice, there's a little bit of probability left which will be distributed to the new 9th place Playoff Picture team.

9. Philadelphia (2%) - Really helped their chances with a win versus the Giants, but they must win out. Their hopes rely heavily on what happens next week against New England. A win there and then we'll talk about moving them up to the "contender list", but for now they're safe here.
10. Tampa Bay
11. Seattle
12. Washington
13. Arizona
14. Minnesota
15. Carolina
16. St. Louis

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Devils Finally Begin To Kick It Into Gear

No start could be as bad as the 9-22-2 record that the New Jersey Devils posted on December 23, 2010.

However, the start to the Devils' 2011 season was alarmingly similar to their start to the 2010 season. Granted, the record is much different. Following a dominant victory in Buffalo on Wednesday night and another pivotal win tonight against the Florida Panthers, the Devils find themselves at 10-7-1. Needless to say, the record has improved significantly. But, prior to the game in Buffalo, their season statistics were very similar to last year's.
Before the win in Buffalo, the Devils offense had been dormant. They had put up four goals in just two games, three goals in the games and in the remaining five games, they were held to under two goals. It all added up to a goals per game average of about 2.50 heading into Buffalo. A very similar GPG was the reason why the Devils had such a horrendous start last year.
But, after scoring five goals in Buffalo, the Devils offense may have finally begun the click. The goaltender for the Sabres had a 6-0 record, a 1.76 Goals Against Average and a .942 Save Percentage. All of those statistics are very hard to beat. And, on Wednesday night, the Devils scored five goals in a rout. The Devils had a power-play goal and a shorthanded goal in the contest.
Tonight, the Devils scored four goals. Against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Devils had a two power-play goals and nearly had a short-handed goal, as Dainius Zubrus scored literally right after the Lightning power-play expired. The puck crossed the goal line about a half of a second after the power-play ended.
Can the Devils go for three straight? It is possible. They will face a good Florida Panthers team in Miami on Monday. But, the Devils have the momentum, scoring nine goals over two games - none of which came empty-netted. They are getting great team play from several players including the 35 year old, Patrick Elias, the longtime Devil, David Clarkson and the 21 year old rookie, Adam Henrique who has ten points over his last nine games.
The Devils have gotten this far based on one aspect of the game - defense. In order to win games, the defense must remain consistent. They kill off an unprecedented 95% of their powerplays including all six against the Lightning tonight. After a rocky start, the 39 year old future hall of famer, Martin Brodeur has been very solid over the past several games. Not to mention, his backup, Johan Hedberg is putting up very solid numbers himself.
To summarize, New Jersey cannot expect to win if they do not maintain a consistent offense. Martin Brodeur is still a good starting goaltender but the is no longer the top goaltender or even a top ten goaltender in the league anymore. He is maybe a top eleven or twelve option. Also, he does not start nearly as much as he used to and the backup goaltender, Hedberg will continue to have a somewhat big role on the team. They Devils may have finally turned the page on the lackluster offense that has plagued them for the past thirteen months. The Devils are currently tied for the eighth playoff seed. Stay tuned to see the New Jersey Devils can continue to score goals and win games.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Note: The Houston Astros to the AL West

The Houston Astros are about to be sold to new ownership, but that's not the only big change they'll be making in the next couple of years. According to multiple sources, the MLB has told the Astros that any sale of the team will require the team to switch to the American League West in 2013. The Astros have a long history in the NL, starting in 1962, but they are on their way to the DH. This will even out the leagues, giving both the AL and NL fifteen teams each. The AL West, which contains the Rangers, Angels, Mariners, and Athletics, will finally get a fifth team. Additionally, the NL Central will go down to five teams, aligning them with the rest of the MLB.

Although this seems to make sense, there are a lot of things that will change because of this decision. First of all, simple math will tell you that interleague play will be occurring every single day starting in 2013. It may actually even out the playing field, as more teams will play similar schedules to their divisional opponents.

The part that probably bothers me and the Astros the most is the fact that they will be playing 1/3 of their games two time zones away. That will start games at 9:00 Central time for Astro fans. The Texas Rangers have to deal with this every year and you hear little complaint from them, but it is still a factor for TV ratings. The Rangers are probably ecstatic about this move because it puts them close to a divisional opponent and creates a natural state rivalry between the Dallas/Arlington and Houston regions.

The Astros will have to change the dynamic of their team completely, as many of their decisions will have to factor in the switch to the DH. I think it is a huge change for them, because they have always thought that if a guy didn't have a position, they should get rid of him. At the same time, they should be happy that they can start anew somewhere else in the MLB. The Astros have struggled mightily the past few years and really haven't been good since Carlos Beltran left the team 7 years ago. This could give them a boost as an organization and fan base, because it really couldn't get worse than it has been recently.

AFC Playoff Picture

After taking a look at the NFC Playoff Picture earlier in the week, I will now delve into the AFC. The AFC is much different than it used to be, as the Colts, Steelers, and Patriots are no longer as dominant as they used to be. The Colts have been a mainstay in the AFC playoffs for a decade, but hey, you lose a guy like Peyton Manning and you're team will not be nearly as competitive. With that being said, there are just 4 teams that I can safely say are out of the playoffs. The entire AFC West is up for grabs, while the two Wild Cards will probably be produced from the AFC East or North. Tonight, the Jets play the Broncos, which will is a very important game for both teams. The Jets need to avoid losing their second straight, while the Broncos hope the Tim Tebow show has only begun.

I will use the same structure again, ranking each team in order of the likelihood they make the playoffs.

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3) - Picking a top team was almost impossible. There is no team that is definitely into the postseason even after ten weeks, but the Steelers are the closest to it. The Steelers have lost two to the Ravens, but they will probably be okay considering the rest of their schedule. Winning 4 of their last 6 will get them in easily, and I think they will do that.

Chances of making postseason: 95%

3 Toughest Games: @KC, CIN, @SF

2. New England Patriots (6-3) - The Pats are in good position considering the Jets and Bills aren't playing their best football right now. They have the inside track to the AFC East crown and have a cake-walk of a schedule. The Patriots lost a game to the Steelers, so it will be an interesting race to get home-field advantage in the AFC.

Chances of making postseason: 95%

3 Toughest Games: @PHI, @DEN, BUF

3. Houston Texans (7-3) - The Texans would have been the first ranked team here, if it weren't for the injury to Matt Schaub. With Mario Williams and now Schaub out for the season, this team will have to regroup dramatically. Good news is that Andre Johnson will be back in action in Week 12 (after the bye) against Jacksonville, providing new QB Matt Leinart a go-to option. With Arian Foster and Ben Tate leading the most talented running attack in the game, the Texans will hold off the Titans for the AFC South title.

Chances of making postseason: 90%

3 Toughest Games: ATL, @CIN, TEN

4. Baltimore Ravens: The Eagles are definitely the most disappointing team this season, but the Ravens are probably the most confusing. After demolishing the Steelers in Week 1, they travelled to Tennessee and were doubled up 26-13. Blips like that happen, so I discounted it as a one-time thing. Then the Ravens went out and beat the Jets and the Texans in consecutive games, before losing to the Jaguars in Week 7. To make matters even worse, the Ravens beat the Steelers again in Week 9 and then followed it up with a loss to the Seattle Seahawks. No team has been so up and down as the Ravens this year. The combined record of the teams they beat is: 31-26 (counting the Steelers twice). The record of the teams they lost to? 11-16. Not good to see from a team that many picked to play in the Superbowl. With their struggles against bad teams, the Ravens should be in the postseason, as long as they can split with Cincinnati and take care of the other winnable games. The Ravens need to win 4 more games at least to contend for the Wild Card, with 5 necessary for the division.

Chances of making postseason: 75%

3 Toughest Games: CIN, SF, @CIN

5. New York Jets (5-4) - The Jets are coming off of a disappointing loss to the Patriots and look destined for the Wild Card race. With so many teams in the race, the Jets will have a tough time beating out the likes of the Ravens/Steelers, Bengals, Bills. The Jets have an okay schedule remaining, but winning tonight is a must. Rex Ryan & Co. will need to win 5 of their last 7 to get to 10-6.

Chances of making postseason: 60%

3 Toughest Games: @DEN, @PHI, NYG

6. Oakland Raiders (5-4) - Somebody's gotta win the AFC West right? The Raiders are in the best position to take the division considering the other three teams are all a game back from Oakland in the standings. The schedule isn't favorable, but it's not going to take a great record to take this division. A 9-7 record will probably do it, which the Raiders have the ability to do. There are two fairly soft games on the schedule, starting this week against Minnesota.

Chances of making postseason: 40%

3 Toughest Games: CHI, @GB, DET

7. Cincinnati Bengals (6-3) - The surprise team of the AFC, the Bengals have a tough road to the playoffs; however, if the very good Cincinnati defense can keep dominating, Andy Dalton can lead this team to victories. Cincannti gave Pittsburgh a fit last week and the Bengals look to do so again against the Ravens on Sunday. The remaining schedule is tough, but it will be interesting to see if the Bengals can stick around in the playoff race. They seem to win the games that they are expected to and compete in those they are underdogs. That's the recipe of a solid football team that can catch fire at any time.

Chances of making postseason: 40%

8. Buffalo Bills (5-4) - The Bills quickly won the hearts of America in the first three weeks, knocking off the Chiefs, Raiders and Patriots. Since then, the Bills are 2-4 and have been blown out the last two weeks by the Jets and Cowboys. The Bills need to win 5 of their last 7 in order to have a shot at the Wild Card and it doesn't seem likely. Miami has really played better of late and unfortunately for Buffalo, they play the Dolphins twice more this season.

Chances of making postseason: 25%

3 Toughest Games: @NYJ, @SD, @NE

9. Tennessee Titans (5-4) - The Titans are playing better as of late, mostly due to the emergence of their running game. The offensive line and Chris Johnson did not play well the first half of the season and the Titans struggled to move the ball down the field. Johnson has put up better numbers as of late, but do they have enough to catch the Texans? The Titans have a better chance of hoping the Texans falter without Schaub, but at least they have a shot.

Chances of making postseason: 20%

3 Toughest Games: @ATL, NO, @HOU

10. Denver Broncos (4-5) - You could put the Chargers or Chiefs here too, but I'm just going by remaining schedule. The AFC West is really a toss up at this point, but the Broncos have won 3 of 4 and have reason to believe in themselves. John Fox has really gotten the running game going with the Tebow Option playbook in full effect. The Broncos have a tough game against the Jets tonight, followed by an important divisional matchup next week against the Chargers.

Chances of making postseason: 20%

3 Toughest Games: NYJ, CHI, NE

11. San Diego Chargers (4-5) - The Chargers can't seem to ever come through, despite putting together one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. Rivers has played awful the past few weeks, but I expect him to get better. Still it's a longshot they make the playoffs based on their inability to win close games.

Chances of making postseason: 20%

3 Toughest Games: @CHI, BAL, @DET

12. Kansas City Chiefs (4-5) - The Chiefs have lost their most talented players on both the offense and defense (Charles and Berry), but they were able to win some games in October to bounce back. They face the improbable task of winning with a backup quarterback, now that Matt Cassel is likely out for awhile. The Chiefs will need to run the ball better and open up the passing game with their talented receivers, but it's highly unlikely they make the playoffs.

Chances of making postseason: 20%

3 Toughest Games: @NE, PIT, GB (Also have games against CHI and NYJ on the road)

So there are the 12 teams that I give a chance to make the playoffs. The AFC West will be an interesting race, as will the Wild Card race. It's going to be a fun seven weeks and there is a lot to look forward to. Here are the last 4 teams ranked based on the probability they make the playoffs.

13. Jacksonville
14. Miami
15. Cleveland
16. Indianapolis

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NFL Week 11 Predictions

Well, I had a crappy week...only going 7-9. I think I got them this week though. Here they are

Thursday Night

NYJ vs DEN- Run the ball 50 times against this team, and it will likely get you nowhere. Rex Ryan will probably blitz every play. I mean why not? Make Tebow throw the ball, and its almost a gimme game. With that being said, Jets win in a low scoring affair 17-10.


DAL vs WSH- Not quite a "must win" game for the Cowboys yet, but if they lose, it will be much harder to keep pace in the playoff race. Romo and Murray are on fire, and hope to see this continue. Always a good match-up, and especially tough at FedEx field. Cowboys win 28-13

JAC vs CLE - Honestly who knows? Which Jaguar team will show up to play on Sunday makes all the difference. I see a strong dosage of MJD coming, and a Jaguar win. 24-20

CAR vs DET - Rebound game for Detroit? Not so fast. Stafford is a key part to this teams success, and when he plays poorly, the entire team plays poorly. I think Cam "the Man" Newton tears up Ford Field, and squeak by the struggling Lions. Panthers win 35-21

TB vs GB - Battle of the Bays! Ha, not quite that funny, and I don't think Tampa will be laughing at the end of this game...Green Bay will annihilate the Bucs winning 44-10.

BUF vs MIA - Great divisional match-up. Buffalo is staring to fall off the map after their very hot start, and Matt Moore is starting to heat things up in Miami by really embracing this spoiler role. Suck for Luck? Nope, not on Sunday. Dolphins win 19-16

CIN vs BAL - This had the makings of a great divisional game, but with Baltimore playing so inconsistently, and the Bengals proving their might with a tough loss in Heinz field it could go either way. I give Baltimore the home field advantage, and they take it in a close one 27-24

SEA vs STL - Ah yes, I remember when this game was actually meaningful on week 16 last year. Too bad it will not be the case this year. Marshawn Lynch is on a tear (look at this beast!), and Pete Carrol and company will keep handing him the ball. Seattle wins 24-10

ARI vs SF - I don't know why I think the Cardinals will upset the 49ners in this game, but I do. Frank Gore it hurt (but not out), and the Cardinals offense is playing surprisingly well without starting QB Kevin Kolb. Candlestick or not, Cardinals win 28-17

TEN vs ATL - Matty Ice needs the W after the failed conversion on 4th and 1 in OT last week. And where the hell has Roddy White been all season long? Same goes for Chris Johnson who finally broke the 100 yd rushing mark last week for only the second time this season. Was his hold out worth it? No..... Falcons win 27-20

SD vs CHI - San Diego on the decline, Chicago on the rise. That simple. And I think it is time to start putting Jay Cutler into the elite QB status? Bears win in a shoot-out 35-28.

PHI vs NYG - Possibly one the most underrated rivalries in all of football. This game almost never seems to disappoint the fans and will be a high scoring deep ball throwing affair. How will Philly do without the presence of Desean Jackson, and Vick with some broken ribs? I see the Giants winning 31-21, but still...Go Philly (never thought I'd say that)


KC vs NE - Strange match-up for the reason that NE is so heavily favored, and they should be. Patriots win in roaring fashion 41-17

Let's see how accurate I am this week

Villanova Survives La Salle

The Explorers seems to give Villanvoa fits every single season. La Salle plays so tough, despite finishing near the bottom of the A-10 year after year, and nothing changed this time around. Villanova trailed as much as 11 points in the first half last night, before going on a 6-0 run to finish out the half down just 5. Villanova rallied down 5 with under a minute left in regulation, sending the game into overtime. In overtime, the Wildcats controlled the period and finally sent the Explorers home with a 76-69 loss.

The story of the game was fouls. Villanova attempted a whopping 41 free throws (making 34 of them), which allowed them to stay in the game. Dominic Cheek was 12-14 from the line, while Maalik Wayns connected on all 10 of his attempts. The Junior duo combined for 40 points (18 and 22 respectively), as the Wildcats improved to 2-0.

This game overall was pretty hard to watch, as both teams shot under 40%. Villanova made just 4 of 23 three point attempts and committed 20 turnovers. The game cleaned up a bit in the second half, as both teams started putting the ball in the basket more often. Here are the five things I was thinking about after the Villanova win.

1. Dom Cheek and James Bell are the keys to this team. Yes, Maalik Wayns is the unquestioned leader of the team, but these two players are great defenders and are out there on the floor for pretty much the entire game. Cheek played 41 of the 45 minutes, while Bell was in for 38. Although both thrive on defense, they are counted upon to deliver on offense. They must improve their three point shooting, but they are most effective in the mid-range game or cutting towards the hoop. Overall, positive signs by both of these big guards.

2. Mouphtaou Yarou needs the ball more. Mouph didn't play in overtime, but he played an outstanding game. He needs to limit his turnovers (4 last night), but he showed his improved offensive touch. He only took 7 shots, which disturbs me, because this guy should be getting the ball 12 times a game minimum. He has a solid post game and he even displayed the jumper he's been working on over the summer. He scored 10 and brought down 14 boards, which is his second double-double in as many games. Mouph can improve slightly on defense, by keeping his hands up and by maintaining his balance on pump fakes; however, the future is bright for the Junior.

3. JayVaughn Pinkston needs to slow down. I have a feeling that Pinkston is just too amped up, after missing all of last season. He missed a wide-open dunk, the front end of a 1-and-1, and committed 3 turnovers in 20 minutes. He's got a big body, but he moves so quickly that he can create matchup problems regardless who is guarding him. Pinkston simply needs to relax. Stop settling for jumpers, go to the hoop and go up strong. He's trying to do too much and is struggling. There was one instance when Pinkston was standing near the baseline at the three-point line, where he received a pass from Maalik Wayns, as a defender rushed out to contest a possible three. Pinkston had Bell wide-open near the top of the key if he just swung the ball around, but he decided to dribble around the defender and he coughed up the ball. Just a fundamental basketball play. He's got a ton of potential, so there is no doubt he'll play better, but he's still rusty.

4. Darrun Hilliard is a smart player. Down 2 with under a minute to play, Hilliard stole an inbounds pass and drove towards the basket for the game-tying layup. Hilliard just seems to contribute heavily to the team with both big and small plays. I love the way he's playing defense and how he is not a tentative player. If he sees a lane, he'll go straight to the hoop. One sign that I look for in Freshman is maturity on the court and smart decision making. Hilliard has passed the test so far, though there is a long way to go. There was one play in overtime where Wayns had the ball stolen from him and La Salle was on a fastbreak. Hilliard was the only defender left and he contested the shot by just running in front of the player. The Wildcats were up 7 at that point and many times you will see players try and block that layup. It often ends in a foul or even an And-1, which stops the clock and allows the Explorers to score without wasting time. It was a good defensive contest without fouling. I look forward to seeing him play more and more this season.

5. Maalik Wayns worked hard on his shot this off-season. Even though he made just 5 of 16 shots, turned the ball over 3 times, and committed four fouls, Maalik Wayns was the best player on the court. He made a number of big-time plays, such as his three pointer with about a minute to go in regulation to pull within 3. The previous play was a putback slam by LaSalle, so the momentum was with the Explorers. Additionally, Maalik finally found ways to get to the line. He drove to the hoop at will at times and made La Salle defenders try and make plays, which usually ended with Wayns sinking a couple of free throws. Wayns also corralled 9 rebounds to go with his 4 assists. I'd like to see him run more of a traditional pick and roll with Mouph considering both players have improved their jumpers, but that will come with time. We're watching a star in the making at Nova and I can confidently say he's the most talented player to wear Villanova across his chest since the Foye/Lowry days. (Yes, he's more skilled than Scottie)

Monday, November 14, 2011

NFC Playoff Picture

Each team has about seven games to play, which is a ton of football; however, the playoff picture is surprisingly shaping up in the NFC. There are just a ton of teams that have played themselves out of the playoffs in just nine games, as 7 of the 16 teams have 6 or more losses. None of those teams really have a shot at the playoffs now, but football is a crazy sport and anything is possible. I have ranked all 16 NFC teams based on the likelihood they make the playoffs.

1. Packers (8-0) - No surprise here. The Packers play tonight, but the Vikings stand no threat to the undefeated Packers.

Chance of Making Playoffs: 100%

3 Toughest Games: @DET, @NYG, CHI

2. 49ers (8-1) - San Francisco has won 7 straight after losing in overtime to the Cowboys in Week 2. The NFC West contains three of the worst teams in football, so this race is over. The Niners are in the playoffs and will look to lock up a bye in the first round of the playoffs.

Chance of Making Playoffs: 100%

3 Toughest Games: @BAL, PIT, @SEA

3. Saints (7-3) - With the Falcons deciding to go for it on 4th and inches from the NO 30 yard line in overtime yesterday, the Saints control their own destiny. The Saints are destined for another postseason, even though the Falcons have just 4 losses.

Chance of Making Playoffs: 95%

3 Toughest Games: NYG, DET, ATL

4. Bears (6-3) - Chicago looks unstoppable right now, as they demolished the Lions in a huge game yesterday. The remaining schedule is favorable, but more importantly, the Bear defense isn't allowing anything to opponents. The Bears won't be able to catch the Packers, but the Wild Card spot is definitely attainable and they should be playing in the postseason.

Chance of Making Playoffs: 85%

3 Toughest Games: SD, @OAK, @GB

5. Giants (6-3) - Despite losing to the Niners, the Giants are still in control of the NFC East. They have a tough schedule ahead of them, but they have something the Cowboys don't have: a proven, clutch QB. The Giants are the favorites to win the NFC East, but it won't come easy.

Chance of Making Playoffs: 65%

3 Toughest Games: @NO, GB, @DAL, @NYJ (I had to put the Cowboys in there, due to the magnitude of the game)

6. Lions (6-3) - The Lions better get Stafford healthy and start scoring some points or they'll be watching the postseason on their couches. The Lions got off to a hot start, but haven't been able to maintain that streak. The Lions will obviously have to get into the postseason via the Wild Card, but it'll be very difficult to do so.

Chance of Making Playoffs: 50%

3 Toughest Games: GB, @NO, @GB

7. Cowboys (5-4) - The Cowboys are starting to put together some W's, but still remain an underdog to get into the postseason. The best shot they have is through the NFC East Division Title, because there are just too many teams fighting for those Wild Card spots. They pulled within one game of the Giants yesterday after demolishing Buffalo. The Cowboys do control their destiny somewhat, as they have 2 games against the Giants later in the season.

Chance of Making Playoffs: 50%

3 Toughest Games: NYG, PHI, @NYG

8. Atlanta (5-4) - The Falcons needed to beat the Saints yesterday, but they at least are in position to make a late season run. The next few weeks pose winnable games, but they do have an uphill battle towards the postseason. The Falcons must beat New Orleans in Week 16 if they want to win the division, but it's much more realistic that the Falcons get the Wild Card.

Chance of Making Playoffs: 40%

3 Toughest Games: @HOU, @NO, TB

9. Buccaneers (4-5)- The Bucs keep digging themselves in holes, losing three straight games to quality football teams. The good news in Tampa Bay is that they have four games of the remaining seven that they should win. The other three will be very tough games and realistically the Buccaneers must go 6-1 at the worst in order to make the playoffs. That will be extremely tough to do.

Chance of Making Playoffs: 14%

3 Toughest Games: @GB, DAL, @ATL

Those nine teams are the contenders for the playoffs as we speak. Green Bay and San Francisco are locks for their divisions in my mind, with the Saints very likely to win the NFC South.

Here are the remaing teams in order of their "likelihood" they make the playoffs.

10. Eagles (1%) - The Eagles can win the division still, but it ain't gonna happen.
11. Washington
12. Seattle
13. Arizona
14. Minnesota
15. Carolina
16. St. Louis

Thursday, November 10, 2011

NFL predictions

Howdy all, its time for some Thursday night NFL action. So pumped to watch some football tonight...oh wait...I can't since its on NFL network. Thats a moot point, thanks to atdhenet.

Here are my predictions for this weeks NFL match ups.

  1. Oakland vs San Diego. I'm taking San Diego in this 35-21. VJ is on a tear coming off a three TD performance last week, and Rivers is still trying to prove his worthiness of being an elite QB
  2. Buffalo vs Dallas. Being a Dallas fan I am biased, but gotta go with the Boys in this one. Dallas understands the urgency of winning games with the Giants pulling ahead, and the coming of the Demarco Murray era is underway. Dallas wins 24-17
  3. New Orleans vs Atlanta. Atlanta has been so sketchy this season. Matty Ice is not quite what we all though he would be, but he has had his big moments this season. Atlanta wins in a close one 24-23.
  4. Pittsburgh vs Cincinnati. Really? The Bengals are 6-2 and atop of their division? Who would have thought that...This will be a true test for the Bengals. They win in a tight match 27-24 one a game winning FG for bonus points
  5. St. Louis vs Cleveland. St. Louis still looking for that offense showing, and Cleveland is not that threatening either. Rematch of 2009 national championship of Bradford vs McCoy. I'll take the rams 17-3
  6. Jacksonville vs Indianapolis. Its been a long long long long time that Indianapolis has played Jacksonville with a worse record (1994). Sorry Indy, Jags win 35-10
  7. Denver vs Kansas City. Tim Tebow has another shot to prove his NFL worth. Broncos win 21-20.
  8. Washington vs Miami. Second coming for Reggie Bush? I'd like to see that, but never know what is going to come your way with Shanahan at the helm. Washington win 27-20
  9. Arizona vs Philadelphia. Mike Vick and the Eagles still have a lot to play for, and Arizona has been skeptical on defense aside from Patrick Peterson. Philly wins in a blow out 44-21
  10. Houston vs Tampa Bay. I like this game. Houston has the best running game in the NFL with 155.5 ypg on the ground. DT Albert Haynesworth just got picked up off waivers by the Bucs. Houston wins 31-24
  11. Tennessee vs Carolina. Cam the Man Newton will take over this game. Carolina wins 28-14
  12. Baltimore vs Seattle. Never know with Joe Flacco, but he did have a decisive TD pass to Torrey Smith to win the game in a very unfriendly Heinz Field. Baltimore wins 31-10
  13. Detroit vs Chicago. I love this match-up. Chicago defense had a huge game against Philly, and Detroit needs to get back on track. Stafford and Co. are 4-0 on the road, but I expect that streak to end here. Chicago wins 24-21
  14. New York Giants vs San Francisco. Jim Harbaugh has done wonders with this 49er team. The question will be if Frank Gore can carry the team against one of the league top run defenses. Giants win 17-14
  15. New England vs New York Jets. Sunday night football has a great game. New England just loss to the other New York team, but I can't see Brady's Bunch losing two in a row. Patriots win 27-17
  16. Minnesota vs Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers is a beast of a football player and Minnesota relies to heavily on Peterson to put the ball in the end zone these days. I want to see Minnesota run the ball all day, but do no think it will be enough to handle the high octane offense of the Packers. Green Bay wins in a blow out at Lambeu 42-14
Let's see how this plays out

Forget Paterno

The Penn State scandal is getting even more and more attention as more information comes out. If you haven't heard yet, Joe Paterno was fired last night, but students/fans rallied in his support. Even with all this happening, I don't even care about Joe Paterno, because I had the displeasure of reading this: Sandusky Grand Jury Presentment. I warn you, these stories are bothersome and is not for everybody to read. Some of these stories are flat out disgusting and disturbing. You probably won't get through all of it, but I recommend taking a look at it.

After reading what Sandusky did, I haven't changed my view of Penn State. Not as a school or an even in an athletic standpoint.  I guess Joe Paterno can take some blame for not doing more, but still this doesn't concern the "legacy" of Paterno. More focus should be shifted twoards a horrible human being that victimized under-priveleged boys. The scandal has nothing to do with sports. So please stop talking about how Penn State's football team will be different without Paterno or how Paterno's legacy was changed. We should really be trying to help the victims and their families. Sorry it took so long to figure this out, but let us hope that justice will be served. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Not So Happy Valley

Over the past few days, State College, Pa. could be described as anything but "Happy Valley." The football program is in a state of disarray after it was released that former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was indicted on charges of sexually abusing eight boys in a 15-year span. Since that report from, the number of reported victims has increased significantly.

In light of this scandal, Penn State athletic director Tim Curley has taken a leave of absence in preparation of defending himself in court, while vice president for finance and business, Gary Schultz, has vacated his position and returned to retirement.

While the two were aware of Sandusky's actions in 2002, they apparently did not know the full extent of them.

How does this happen under the watch of one of the most revered college football coaches of all time?! A man in Joe Paterno that has spent over six decades in Happy Valley not knowing of a serious crime within his program? Is it not the responsibility of the head coach to know his team better than anyone else? This would lead me to believe that Paterno was willing to save Sandusky's reputation so the Nittany Lions could win football games.

To add to all this, Joe Paterno announced today that he is retiring at the end of this season. First saving Sandusky and now making the remaining games all about him? Sounds like a very egotistical move.

How can the NCAA crack down on tattoo parlors and have no penalty for the Penn State football program? The message they are sending is that money is more important than morals. These boys were violated by people they thought they could trust.

For just one day, can morals take precedence over money and winning football games?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Midseason Notes

Now that all teams have played at least 8 games this season, we have officially reached the midpoint in the season. This season has a lot of interesting storylines all around, but here are the five things I'm looking forward to most for the rest of the season.

- Can anybody beat Aaron Rodgers and the Pack?

The Pack are halfway home without a loss, but I don't think they can go undefeated. They are clearly the best team in the NFL, but they play too many close games to go undefeated in my mind. Do I think they can? Yes of course. The Packers are battle-tested and have overcome key injuries. This team is damn good and is the favorite to repeat as champs.

- Who will win the AFC West?

It seems as if nobody wants to win this division. A week after the Chargers gave away a victory to the Chiefs, Kansas City lost to the winless Dolphins. The Broncos are somehow only 1 game out of first place after defeating the Raiders, who have struggled to click after the addition of Carson Palmer. This division is completely unpredictable at this point, but as hard as it is to say, the Chargers are still the best team among the four.

- Will the Bills or Lions fall back to Earth?

The Bills (5-3) are tied for first place right now, but only time will tell if it lasts. They have a winnable game against the inconsistent Cowboys this weekend, as well as another game against the Pats and Jets each. The Bills need to win 5 more games at least to make the playoffs and I don't see it happening.

The Lions, on the other hand, are 6-2 and looking as good as ever. If the Lions can keep Matthew Stafford upright, this team is destined for the playoffs. This game coming up against the Bears will be crucial, as it would secure a head-to-head tie-breaker over Chicago.

- Are the Bengals legit?

Cincinnati has benefited from an easy schedule, but they've taken advantage of every opponent. It's no joke to go 6-2 in the NFL, no matter who you're playing. The road ahead will be tough for the Bengals though, as they have important division games against the Steelers and Ravens. The Bengals need to win 11 games to make the playoffs, as it will be a four horse race for the two wild card spots.

- Who will win the "Suck for Luck" race?

The Colts are leading the race, but ultimately, do the Colts need Luck? It wouldn't hurt to start grooming a stud QB behind Peyton Manning, but the Colts may have more pressing needs. The Dolphins want him badly, but they've actually been quite competitive the past month. In the end, I think the Colts will probably have the worst record, but the Dolphins will do whatever they can to get that first pick away from the Colts.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

NFL Week 9 Predictions


NYJ@BUF: New York Jets 27, Buffalo 24

SEA@DAL: Dallas 16, Seattle 14

ATL@IND: Atlanta 24, Indianapolis 10

MIA@KC: Kansas City 17, Miami 9

TB@NO: New Orleans 24, Tampa Bay 23

SF@WAS: San Francisco 24, Washington 13

CLE@HOU: Cleveland 14, Houston 13

CIN@TEN: Cincinnati 20, Tennessee 14

DEN@OAK: Denver 20, Oakland 17

NYG@NE: New England 31, Giants 24

STL@ARI: St. Louis 17, Arizona 13

GB@SD: Green Bay 27, San Diego 17

BAL@PIT: Baltimore 17, Pittsburgh 16

CHI@PHI: Philadelphia 27, Chicago 20

Projected STANDINGS:

NFC East:

  1. NYG 5-3
  2. PHI 4-4
  3. DAL 4-4
  4. WAS 3-5
NFC North:

  1. GB 8-0
  2. DET 6-2
  3. CHI 4-4
  4. MIN 2-6
NFC South:

  1. NO 6-3
  2. TB 4-4
  3. ATL 4-4
  4. CAR 2-6
NFC West:

  1. SF 7-1
  2. SEA 2-6
  3. STL 2-6
  4. ARI 1-7
AFC East:

  1. NE 6-2
  2. NYJ 5-3
  3. BUF 5-3
  4. MIA 0-8
AFC North:

  1. BAL 6-2
  2. CIN 6-2
  3. PIT 6-3
  4. CLE 4-4
AFC South:

  1. HOU 5-4
  2. TEN 4-4
  3. JAX 2-6
  4. IND 0-9
AFC West:

  1. KC 5-3
  2. SD 4-4
  3. OAK 4-4
  4. DEN 3-5

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Duke 2011-2012 Preview

With Kyrie Irving leaving Duke to join the locked-out NBA, how does Duke Basketball match-up this year? Probably just as well if not better than any year before. Austin Rivers, possibly the most anticipated prospect and number 3 recruit on ESPNU's Top 100, has joined the Blue Devils, and will be a significant factor in Duke's success this season. The son of Doc Rivers, Austin averaged 29.4 PPG last year at Winter Park High School, and offensively was an absolute animal. He "plays without fear of failure," which is an essential trait for any Blue Devil.

This year, Coach K has three strong options at the guard positions. I wouldn't doubt seeing him run a 3-2 on offense with Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins coming back for their junior years. Last year, Curry came off the bench as a strong change-of-pace player, averaging 24.6 MPG and around 9 PPG. Dawkins, on the other hand, is the candidate most likely to play the SF position on defense. He could potentially split a significant amount of time with Curry at the PG/SG spot due to the his inadequate size to play the small forward position. With Dawkins measuring only 6'4", 200 lbs, don't be surprised if 5-star recruit Michael Gbinije takes over in crucial defensive positions.

The one position the Blue Devils lack the explosive strength in this year is at the point. With Rivers gone, they don't have a true point guard, but then again, they only had Rivers for 8 games last year so it shouldn't be too big of a problem. If, however, they do need that classic point guard position filled, freshman Quinn Cook is a viable fill-in. Quinn is one of those Rajon Rondo-esque players with his quickness, speed, and vision. He is a selfless player, always looking for the pass. I expect him to play a critical role as the "4th" guard on the team. He should mix in well, especially since the Blue Devils are stacked with big-time scorers this year (primarily, Rivers, Curry, and Dawkins).

Now onto the front court. What set of three brothers is better than the Plumlee brothers? Let me answer that for you: none. Let's start off with the eldest of the bunch. Miles Plumlee, Sr., is the (NFL) Tim Tebow of Duke Basketball this year. He might not be the most talented on the court, but there won't be a game where you don't see Miles playing his heart out. Miles brings another dimension to the game. It's not his skill set that changes the game, but his intensity. Last year, he only averaged 4.5 PPG and 4.6 RPG. Don't expect a dramatic increase in productivity this year, but look for Miles Plumlee to be the vocal and motivational leader of Duke this year. The junior, Mason, is the most likely to play the big man of this team during the 2011-2012 season. This past season, Mason averaged 8.4 RPG and 7.2 PPG. While his offensive abilities are not the best, the biggest advantage Mason gives the Blue Devils is his offensive rebounding skill. Although the last of the three Plumlee brothers, Marshall, isn't new to the Blue Devil Nation, he is new to wearing the Blue Devil uniform, but that shouldn't change our perspective on him. Marshall joined the Blue Devils as the 35th best recruit and 4th best center in this year's class. He might not have an immediate impact on the team, but he should for years to come. Another big man who could potentially see a starting position in his near future is junior Ryan Kelly who should also see an increase in his average PPG, which stood at 6.6 last year.

As for the rest of the team, Duke has some of
the best talent coming off the bench it has had in recent history. Tyler Thornton looks to be a defensive specialist for Coach K this year. Number 41 on ESPNU's Top 100, Alex Murphy, should get some playing time this year. Josh Hairston will get some time down low alongside the Plumlee brothers. And, finally, Todd Zafirovski will be the handcuff in case of injury or fatigue.

So, what do I think the Duke Blue Devils starting roster looks like? Let's have a look:

G-Austin Rivers
G-Seth Curry
G/F-Andre Dawkins
F-Ryan Kelly
F/C-Mason Plumlee

Bench (in order of projected minutes):
  1. Miles Plumlee
  2. Michael Gbinije
  3. Quinn Cook
  4. Tyler Thornton
  5. Marshall Plumlee
  6. Alex Murphy
  7. Josh Hairston
  8. Todd Zafirovski
Duke might start out as number 6 on the NCAAB Coaches Poll preseason rankings, but expect the Blue Devils to end up number 1 by the end of the season.

Reminder: MLB Free Agency Begins Tonight

Just letting everybody know that at 12 AM EST Wednesday night, free agents will be allowed to sign with other teams. As of right now, all free agents are under an exclusive negotiation window with their former team. Expect an update tomorrow on some minor signings, as most big time players will wait a little to see how the market plays out in the next few days or weeks.

Here are the top 50 free agents of this offseason according to Sports Illustrated's Ben Reiter. It should be an interesting one with Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, and Jose Reyes leading the way.

The Reiter 50 Free Agents

Big "East" Update

It's been awhile since we've updated the Big East situation and I guess this is the perfect time for one. As reported by many, the Big East has or will very shortly extend invitations to 6 schools. 3 of them will be for all sports (SMU, Houston, UCF), while the other 3 will be solely for football (Boise State, Navy, Air Force). Some say the official announcement of Big East admission could come as soon as Friday. This is certainly huge news for a conference that has lost some of its top members (Syracuse, Pittsburgh, West Virginia), but it doesn't mark the end of changes. It makes no sense for any of these 6 schools to reject the invitation, as they are all looking to get into a BCS Conference. If these reports are true, I fully expect all six to accept and join the Big East.

So with all the confusion going on, I'd like to show you the projected Big East Football and Basketball members, assuming the six schools accept.

Football (11) : Connecticut, Louisville, Rutgers, USF, Cincinnati, UCF, Houston, SMU, Boise State, Navy, Air Force

Basketball (16) : Connecticut, Louisville, Rutgers, USF, Cincinnati, Villanova, St. Johns, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Depaul, Notre Dame, Marquette, Providence, UCF, Houston, SMU

This obviously would not be the end of expansion/changes, because the Big East would never stop at 11 teams for football. The 16 in basketball is normal, but it could move up to 18.

So the Big East has a few options to make this work:

a. Simply add Villanova as a football member and make a 12 team league.

b. Add Temple to the Big East as just a football school.

c. Add Temple as a full member and look for a "basketball only" school to bring the league to 18.

d. Add Temple and another school as full members, as well as Villanova as a football member to bring the league to 14 and 18 respectively.

e. Add a football only school.

There are so many different scenarios and as a supporter to of the Villanova to Big East Football movement, I am all for option a. I think the most realistic option is c however, because Temple would bring a lot of strength to the conference as both a basketball and football school.

Stay tuned to The Point After, as the Big East looks to move further out West.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

25 Predictions for the Rest of the NFL Season

Only one team is undefeated (Packers) and only one team has just one loss (49ers). The scary part is that there are about 10 teams that I can write off for the rest of the season, in that they have basically no chance to make the playoffs. That means, that 22 teams have shown me enough to consider them in playoff "contention", showing just how level the playing field is this season.

I have made 25 bold predictions and I will grade myself at the end of the season!

1. The Cincinnati Bengals make the playoffs.

2. The NFC East Champion wins just 10 games.

3. At 10-6, the Lions will finally make the playoffs.

4. The Chiefs win the AFC West.

5. The NFC East will produce just one playoff team, while the North will have three.

6. The 49ers will clinch the division before December.

7. Aaron Rodgers wins the MVP award easily, as the Pack win 15 games.

8. Cam Newton leads the league in passing yards.

9. The Bills falter and miss the playoffs.

10. That spot will go to the New York Jets.

11. The AFC North will have two teams make it to the playoffs: Steelers and Bengals.

12. Indianapolis wins a game before Week 13.

13. Miami wins the "Suck for Luck" race.

14. The bottom three teams in the NFC West (Seahawks, Cardinals, Rams) will struggle to get 10 wins combined.

15. Demarcus Ware shatters Michael Strahan's sack record, as he records 24 sacks.

16. Chris Johnson finishes with more 100 yard rushing games than Ray Rice.

17. LeSean McCoy leads the league in rushing yards and scores over 15 rushing TDs.

18. The Saints win the NFC South.

19. The Texans finally make the playoffs.

20. Tim Tebow starts just 3 more games this season.

21. Rex Grossman finishes the season as the starting QB.

22. Chad Ochocinco doesn't break 300 receiving yards.

23. My AFC playoff teams: Patriots, Steelers, Texans, Chiefs, Jets, Bengals

24. My NFC playoff teams: Packers, Saints, 49ers, Eagles, Lions, Bears

25. The New York Jets play the New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl.