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I Hate Baseball

The Sandlot. Rookie of the Year. The movie with Matt LeBlanc where a monkey pitches. These are the greatest things that have come fromed America’s past time. The sport, itself? Ehh…I’d rather watch paint dry, even during the World Series.

“How dare you Zach! Baseball is what America is all about! It’s the greatest sport of all time!” Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve heard it all and I 100% completely disagree with all of you. You watch it because you were raised to watch it and thus you think it’s a good sport. In actuality, it stinks and changes need to take place to save what has been deemed, America’s pastime.

Stick with me here diehard baseball fans. Nothing will change your love of baseball but don’t tell me, after reading this thoroughly, that baseball shouldn’t change. Why do I hate baseball? 10 reasons.

 

  1. Too many games – 162 games? Are you serious? No other sport even comes close! The next closest of the 5 major sports in the US isn’t even half that number. 10 game losing streaks don’t mean that much over the span of 162 games, does it? 10 straight losses mean nothing and thus 10 straight wins also don’t mean much! Who cares to watch a game that doesn’t have a big impact on the season?         Having so many games also means the best players may only play a handful of those games, mainly amongst pitchers who need to rest their arms. Who wants to go to a game where your favorite player doesn’t even play? The two starting pitchers during the World Series, Jake Arrieta (Cubs) and Corey Kluber (Indians) each played 31 and 32 games respectively during the regular season. If you went to 5 random games throughout the season, you may only see your favorite pitcher one time. They don’t even finish the game! That’s stupid as fuck. I`m sorry, I shouldn’t curse on here. That’s stupid as phuck.                                                                          Cut the games and we get more impactful regular season games as well as being able see more of our favorite players during those games.
  1. It’s a one on one sport – Sure, you have a whole team but it’s really just between the pitcher and the batter the majority of the time. Think about it. The only other time a player does anything besides the pitcher and the batter (the catcher doesn’t count unless there’s a weird error by the catcher, himself) is if the ball is struck. According to Baseball-reference.com, The all-time MLB hitting average is between .260 and .275. That means the other players on the field don’t even have to move approximately ¾ of the time.                   When the ball is struck, a foul or a homerun also results in the other players having nothing to do with the play. Even when the ball is hit, if it is caught resulting in an out, only one other player impacts the play. That means that the only time more than 2 players on a team, besides the catcher, has any impact on a play is when a ball is hit and is neither a foul, a homerun, or an immediate out. Doesn’t sound like much of a team sport to me.
  1. A perfect game is boring – The greatest achievement for a pitcher is to pitch a perfect game. This occurs when not one opposing player gets on base in any way. This has only occurred in 23 games in over 210,000 total MLB games since its inception. It’s a rare feat and one to be celebrated except…it’s boring! A perfect game means no one went to base! No hits! No walks! Nothing! It’s exciting for the last few innings to see if it happens but the rest of the game sucks.
  2. There is no “final play” – We’ve all experienced it before. Bottom of the 9th. Two outs. Full count. Final play. Pitch comes and it’s hit! Foul ball. Another pitch! He swings! Foul ball. Foul ball. Foul ball. You can hit foul balls forever. Because of this silliness, there is no definitive final play. The final play can last 10 plays consisting of boring foul balls. Hey MLB, why don’t you make 3 foul balls equal a strike no matter what? How exciting that would be!
  3. Too much time between pitches – According to David Appelman of Fangraphs.com, the average time between pitches is about 21.5 seconds. You remember those foul balls? How about 21.5 seconds between 4 of them? Throw in some balls (hehe) and you have more game stoppage than in football. Why not have a pitch clock of 10-14 seconds? Speed this shit up!
  4. No salary cap – Why not? Seriously. There is no reason to not have a salary cap. It’s what keeps the big markets (New York Yankees) from having a competitive advantage than the smaller markets (Milwaukee Brewers). Where would you rather play if money was the same? Easy question, right? But what if the Yankees could only pay $20m thanks to the cap and the Brewers could pay you $40m? It’d balance the markets so the New Yorks and Chicagos don’t attract every free agent they want regardless of money. C’mon MLB. You’re the lone sport with no cap. Stop being weird.
  5. All-Star break – The MLB All-Star break consists of the futures game, the home run derby, and the All-star game. My issues don’t lie with any of these competitions. It lies with the lack of originality throughout the years to add to those events. The MLB should take a look at the NBA and follow suit. Besides the typical all-star games, the NBA has 4 different skills competitions, not just 1. Homeruns are fun but is that really the only skill in baseball? To hit a ball really far?                                                                                                                  How about a pitching accuracy competition? A catching competition when balls come flying in at different angles for 30 seconds? A throwing competition for speed and accuracy? Spice up the all-star weekend and show us all of the all-stars, not just the guys who focus on power hitting fastballs.
  6. Bunting – Strategy? I say cowardly. I thought we were watching to see someone hit the ball? This isn’t a hit, it’s a ricochet. It’s a lame duck. Bunting should be abolished. Hit the damn ball.Bunting
  7. Intentional Walks – More cowardly strategies. The opposing team’s best player comes up to bat. This is the most exciting player in the game. All of the fans want to watch him. Intentional walk. Strategy? Hah! Way to make the game even more boring than it already is. The best batters don’t even bat! WTF baseball!
  8. MLB Draft – What’s 40 rounds times 30 teams? 1200 players drafted every year. Wait, what? 1200!?!? An active MLB roster consists of only 25 players per team meaning 750 active players in the entire league at one time. What’s the point of an MLB draft if the drafted players don’t even play on the active roster? According to Mike Rosembaum of Bleacher Report, only 66% of round one picks ever play on an active roster. Players drafted in rounds 6-10 only have a 20% chance of ever playing. Don’t give me that minor leagues crap. No one cares about them. Why should a major league team draft 40 players a year? Isn’t the point of the draft is to add talent to an active MLB roster? Cut the draft to 10 rounds and it’d still be too many rounds! Can someone explain this to me?

 

baseball-catHow many of those listed above do you disagree with? Do you love intentional walks? Bunting? 162 games? Foul balls? If you weren’t raised to love baseball, it’s pretty easy to see why baseball isn’t as popular as it used to be. Can baseball be changed? Of course! Cut out half of the games. Make 3 straight foul balls a strike. Shorten the time between pitches. Impose a salary cap. Add more skills competitions to the all-star break. Abolish bunting and intentional walks. Change the MLB draft to only add players to major league rosters.

Will these changes fix baseball? I don’t know, but damn, it sure would attract those who find the sport to be dull, boring, and outdated. Sports are meant to be exciting and interesting. Do yourself a favor MLB. Make some changes. If you don’t, America’s pastime could turn into America’s extinction.

 

 

 

 

http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/bat.shtml

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/pitcher-pace-time-between-pitches/

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1219356-examining-the-percentage-of-mlb-draft-picks-that-reach-the-major-leagues

Photo credits:

https://www.google.com/search?q=crying+baseball+player&espv=2&biw=1707&bih=763&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiziMbJ7oXQAhUI74MKHdtiACwQ_AUIBigB#tbm=isch&q=crying+baseball+cleveland&imgrc=Lh5StaFrVvmKOM%3A

https://www.google.com/search?q=matt+leblanc+monkey+pitches&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiu1dr27oXQAhUDwYMKHehiB1IQ_AUICSgC&biw=1707&bih=763&dpr=1.13#imgrc=_MVo27DISARt0M%3A

https://www.google.com/search?q=baseball+player+bunting&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi10Yfj8YXQAhXI34MKHYP6BkMQ_AUICCgB&biw=1707&bih=817&dpr=1.13#imgrc=Gawj-V2JeWwfsM%3A

https://www.google.com/search?q=no+one+watches+baseball+meme&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiX6KbV8oXQAhVF7IMKHee-BmcQ_AUICCgB&biw=1707&bih=763&dpr=1.13#tbm=isch&q=baseball+is+boring+meme&imgrc=lqnScCvISjEkIM%3A

https://www.google.com/search?q=no+one+watches+baseball+meme&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiX6KbV8oXQAhVF7IMKHee-BmcQ_AUICCgB&biw=1707&bih=763&dpr=1.13#tbm=isch&q=baseball+is+boring+meme&imgrc=nqpxRguGcNCVuM%3A

 

 

 

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Week 8 NFL Power Rankings

1. New England Patriots 6-1 (Last Week: 2nd)

This is probably the best team in the NFL right now. The defense looks the toughest it’s been in some time. A matchup with the Bills could be sweet revenge after the Pats got shutout at home earlier in the year. (AD)

2. Seattle Seahawks 4-1-1 (Last Week: 3rd)

Seattle’s record moves neutrally to 4-1-1 with a tie against the Cardinals. Both teams had field goal attempts under 30 yards to secure a win but failed embarrassingly resulting in a 6-6 tie. Yet again, Seattle found a way to prevent a tally in the loss column. Russell Wilson only has 33 rushing yards on the season, and is clearly favoring his injured knee and ankle. Without Russell Wilson at full health, the Offense is predictable and lacking fire power. The Defense is still one of the best units in the league and should keep them competitive in every single game. Seattle heads to the Big Easy to take on the Saints this Sunday. (DH)

3. Denver Broncos 5-2 (Last Week: 6th)

The Broncos got back on track, snapping their two-game skid as they welcomed Brock Osweiler back to town and dominated the Texans 27-9. The defense looked Super Bowl-caliber again, and the offense was good enough. It is fair to question how far Trevor Siemian can take Denver in 2016, but their talent and experience throughout the roster should keep them in the hunt through December. (CG)

4. Minnesota Vikings 5-1 (Last Week: 1st)

Following their bye, the Vikings were dealt their first loss of the season and are no longer the last undefeated team in the NFL. Their loss to the Eagles exposed the flaws on their offensive line, proving that they are vulnerable against any opponent carrying a strong defensive front four. The defense remains an elite unit, thus why the panic button is not being hit just yet in Minnesota. (CG)

5. Dallas Cowboys 5-1 (Last Week: 5th)

Dallas is coming off a bye, following their dominating win at Lambeau Field in the prior week. Losses by some of the better NFC teams this past Sunday in the Vikings and Falcons, along with an underwhelming victory by the Packers, the Cowboys are slightly elevated with those aforementioned teams taking a hit. Now they face their division rivals in the Eagles for Sunday Night Football for a chance to take control of the NFC East. (CG)

6. Oakland Raiders 5-2 (Last Week: 9th)

The Raiders seem to have shaken off the perennial struggle of playing 1 PM EST games on the East Coast. They continue to look impressive following their convincing win over the hapless Jags 33-16. The offense continues to roll, which also continues to mask the weaknesses on defense. Oakland continues the Florida tour as they go to Tampa this coming Sunday to face the Bucs in a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVII. (CG)

7. Atlanta Falcons 4-3 (Last Week: 4th)

After a hot start to the year, the Falcons have cooled off with their second straight loss. Dan Quinn made a very questionable call, going for it on their own 40 in overtime which helped San Diego kick for the win. They will stay home to face Green Bay next, who are eager to put up points against a weak Atlanta defense. Player to Watch: With a banged up Packers secondary, Julio Jones should have another huge game. (CH)

8. Green Bay Packers 4-2 (Last Week: 8th)

Fortunately for the Packers, they were able to shake off the brutal loss to the Cowboys just four days later on Thursday Night Football when they defeated the Bears 26-10. Once Brian Hoyer was knocked out of the game, Green Bay was able to go on cruise control before reaching 4-2. Aaron Rodgers is yet to look like his old, elite self, which gets more concerning with each passing week. The Packers face a real test this coming Sunday when they travel to Atlanta to face a Falcons team coming off back-to-back losses. (CG)

9. Pittsburgh Steelers 4-3 (Last Week: 7th)

Heading into Sunday without Big Ben and playing the Patriots, you’d think the pressure of Steeler-Nation might be overwhelming for Landry Jones to get the win. The 4th year QB with less than 40 regular season throws to his name leaned on playmakers Antonio Brown & LeVeon Bell to help bail him out at times. Jones put forth a respectable effort, sadly it wasn’t enough to pull out the win. A bye week comes next for Pittsburgh before a division game vs the Ravens. (JA)

10. Philadelphia Eagles 4-2 (Last Week: 15th)

The Eagles got back on track following their two-game skid, as their defense completely shut down the Vikings this past Sunday en route to a 21-10 victory. The defense looked like the unit we saw in Weeks 1-3 and the line completely dominated the Minnesota offensive line. It was very encouraging to see Carson Wentz, who had a horrendous first quarter littered with three turnovers, recover and make plays in later stages of the game to lead Philly to a win. Most QB’s, even experienced ones, wilt after a start that bad. But Wentz doesn’t appear to fall in that category. (CG)

11. Kansas City Chiefs 4-2 (Last Week: 13th)

The Chiefs’ defense turned out to be the difference-maker at home against New Orleans, holding the Saints to 21 points despite allowing over 450 yards. The Chiefs are now 5th best in the league for total defense, which is impressive considering their average offensive TOP. They will travel to Indianapolis next week to face a wishy-washy Colts team who’s also coming off a win. Player to Watch: If Jamaal Charles continues to sit with his repaired knee, Spencer Ware will continue to be their main offensive weapon. (CH)

12. Arizona Cardinals 3-3-1 (Last Week: 12th)

The Cards let a win slip through their fingers Sunday night in a contest where they had the ball for over 46 minutes compared to Seattle’s 28 minutes. There are mixed emotions in the Valley after this contest. The Cards dominated  in every aspect except Special Teams; yet, without a victory, the bad taste  still lingers in Arizona’s mouth. The Cards will have to fight the rest of the season for a playoff birth with the toughest stretch of opponents still on the horizon. (DH)

13. Buffalo Bills 4-3 (Last Week: 11th)

A back and forth matchup against the Fins didn’t go in the Bills favor. A hamstring injury to Lesean McCoy will limit the running game, which will be especially tough to recover from against New England this week. The Bills fared well in the first third of the season, but will face much stiffer competition from here on out. (AD)

14. Houston Texans 4-3 (Last Week: 10th)

Last week I mentioned that the Texans may get their first road win against the Broncos this week. My semi-optimism was a mistake. There’s “Oops. I made a right on red, officer” mistakes and then there’s “Oops. We paid $72 million for a QB who isn’t Tom Brady” mistakes. Perhaps it was Denver’s overwhelming defense that had Osweiler unable to get going or maybe it’s because he’s just not “elite enough”. Regardless of the reason, Houston needs to pull it together before a surprising Lions team comes to visit. (JA)

15. Cincinnati Bengals 3-4 (Last Week: 20th)

When you have a RB go for almost 200 total yards on 12 touches, your O-line is probably doing something right. Combine that with your stud WR going (8-169) and your QB completing almost 70% of his passes, your offense as a whole is rolling. That’s exactly what Cincinnati did in Week 7 to the winless Browns. After a tough loss to New England, the Bengals bounced back with their best offense showing of the season. Let’s see if it keeps going Week 8 across the pond in London vs the Redskins. (JA)

16. Washington Redskins 4-3 (Last Week 14th)

The Redskins finally found defeat again as they fell to the Lions in Detroit, snapping their four-game winning streak. The Lions have been on a roll, so its not an overly concerning loss for Washington. While the results of London games can be a little misleading, we should learn a lot about this team in their upcoming matchup against Cincinnati, another very talented team that has underachieved and will be playing very hungry in an effort to get back to .500. (CG)

17. New York Giants 4-3 (Last Week: 18th)

The Giants managed to get back above .500 following a hard-fought victory in London against the Rams. New York fell behind 10-0 early, but outscored LA 17-0 the rest of the way. Landon Collins made one of the best plays of the 2016 NFL Season. While the Rams do not have the most formidable offense, it was an encouraging performance for the Giants’ defense as they go into the bye sitting at 4-3. (CG)

18. Detroit Lions 4-3 (Last Week: 21st)

The Lions’ hot streak continues as they have now won three in a row after  defeating the Redskins 20-17 in another Matt Stafford-led, come-from-behind effort. This looks like a completely team than the one that sat at 1-3 a month ago and they are back in the NFC playoff race, primarily thanks to Stafford. Despite the injuries, this team has been very resilient and should be considered a tough out every week. Now they travel to a Houston to face a very vulnerable Texans team with the chance to win their fourth game in a row. (CG)

19. San Diego Chargers 3-4 (Last Week: 22nd)

San Diego should send thank you cards to Atlanta’s defense and Dan Quinn for helping them achieve a second straight win. Their top 2 rookie picks are panning out well thus far: Joey Bosa has 4 sacks in 3 games and Hunter Henry leads the team with 3 receiving touchdowns. The Chargers will play round 2 against the Broncos – will it have the same outcome? Player to Watch: Melvin Gordon has made incredible progress this year and should have a solid game against the Broncos mediocre run defense. (CH)

20. Baltimore Ravens 3-4 (Last Week: 16th) 

The Raven’s offense lives and dies by the leg of Justin Tucker. Another week, another double digit outing for the kicker, while the offense continues to spit and sputter. Joe Flacco threw 2 INTs and the offense had less than 10…yes, 10 total yards rushing. Any time you have 3 turnovers it’s going to be a challenge to win. Hopefully the bye week will help Baltimore sort out these offensive woes before the 2nd half of the season. (JA)

21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3-3 (Last Week: 23rd)

It was no Doug Martin, no problem for the Bucs who rolled over the 49ers behind 249 rush yards. The defense played as expected against a lousy Niners offense, forcing 3 turnovers and giving Kaepernick a rough afternoon. Tampa Bay will return home to face the Raiders, who are quietly having a solid 2016 campaign. Player to Watch: If Doug Martin (likely) sits again, Jacquizz Rodgers should have another big game against the Raiders’ porous defense. (CH)

22. Los Angeles Rams 3-4 (Last Week: 17th)

A four-interception game should prompt a change at the QB position, but not in Jeff Fisher’s world. He is sticking with Keenum under center and Goff will remain riding the pine. The Ram’s have dropped 3 straight and are now behind the Cards in the division. LA  gets a bye to rest after their travels from across the pond. (DH)

23. Tennessee Titans 3-4 (Last Week: 19th)

Looks like it’ll take another week or 2 for the Titans to surpass the 2015 season win total after a loss to division rival Indianapolis. While it wasn’t the “fuego” performance of the previous 2 weeks, Mariota had another good showing in Week 7 (minus the strip sack with a chance to rally in the 4th ). The Titans should get back to .500 after a Thursday night match vs the Jaguars. (JA)

24. New Orleans Saints 2-4 (Last Week: 24th)

urnovers are what really hurt the Saints, who lost to the Chiefs despite having 450+ offensive yards. Michael Thomas was finally held out of the endzone, but he’s looking to be the top rookie receiver this year. The Saints return home to face a stingy Seahawks defense. Players to Watch: It will be tough for the Saints to move the ball against Seattle, so their defense will need to play its best game and keep the score low. (CH)

25. Carolina Panthers 1-5 (Last Week: 26th)

Carolina fans are glad they didn’t see their team lose again, but may see that next week when they host the Cardinals. Maybe the Panthers figured out what’s going wrong and how to get back on track – or maybe they didn’t – we’ll find out Sunday. Player to Watch: He’s their leading receiver and shouldn’t have to worry about Patrick Peterson covering him – look for Greg Olsen to have a big impact. (CH)

26. Miami Dolphins 3-4 (Last Week 29th)

Another impressive win paired with a Jay Ajayi breakout game is a fine recipe for the Dolphins. They were criticized for their misuse of Lamar Miller, but the new regime seems to know who their go-to guy is. Miami can rest easy on their bye week before facing the Jets Week 9. (AD)

27. New York Jets 2-4 (Last Week: 27th)

I guess Ryan Fitpatrick will be playing “pissed off’ from here on out. He looked solid in relief of Geno Smith and the Jets leaned on the run game and defense against Baltimore. The Jets have a much easier stretch that begins against the Browns. Look for them to get back on track to shoot for a .500 finish. (AD)

28. Indianapolis Colts 3-4 (Last Week: 28th)

As four-point underdogs, the Colts rolled into Nashville with a chip on their shoulder and needing a victory to stay alive in the AFC South. Thankfully, Andrew Luck doesn’t lose to Titans and he has T.Y. Hilton to throw to each week. Indy will need to clean up the penalties (12-131) in Week 8 if they want a shot at beating the Chiefs at home. (JA)

29. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-4 (Last Week: 25th)

Sometimes you feel for a guy attempting to put the team on his back and trying to will them to win. Unfortunately when that player is attempting to do too much, he makes risky throws, 2 of which result in INTs. This player is Blake Bortles. Discounting a late TD, the Jaguars were a complete mess this weekend vs former coach Jack Del Rio and his Raiders. After falling behind early, Jacksonville couldn’t get rolling on offense. The Jags have a chance to move out of the AFC South cellar with a win against the Titans next. (JA)

30. Chicago Bears 1-6 (Last Week: 30th)

Same old story for the Bears. They played the rival Packers tough in the first half, but after losing Brian Hoyer to injury. The Packers took control of the game as soon as Matt Barkley entered the game as the QB and Chicago fell 26-10, sliding down to 1-6. Its impossible to predict the effect on the team with Jay Cutler coming back this week, but it will be tough nonetheless, considering they are facing the Vikings coming off their first loss of the season. (CG)

31. San Francisco 49ers 1-6 (Last Week: 31st)

Bad QB. Bad defense. Bad year. Finding things to highlight on this team is like searching for Roger Goodell fans. At least the Niner’s cannot lose this week because they are on bye. (DH)

32. Cleveland Browns 0-7 (Last Week: 32nd)

Just when I compliment Browns QB Cody Kessler, he gets drilled and is forced to leave the game. Seems to be the theme in Cleveland, QBs being injured that is, as they are now down to their 6 th QB this season. Thankfully the Stanford product, Kevin Hogan, possesses the running capability we all expected to see out of Mr. John Football. Hogan ended up leading the team in rushing and the Browns slogged through another week. Whatever the under is next week vs the Jets, take it. (JA)

Photo Credit: https://www.boston.com/sports/new-england-patriots/2016/04/14/patriots-2016-schedule-released

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Examining the NFL TV Ratings Decline

One of the biggest headlines of the NFL Season is the precipitous drop in TV ratings compared to last season, specifically the primetime national games. According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, ratings across all networks are down 11% from the 2015 NFL Season. Unfortunately for the NFL, this is not due to one specific reason. It’s a collection of multiple problems coming together in 2016 that has created the perfect storm of a television ratings decline.

The NFL has experienced a major surge in popularity over the past few years, mostly because of its ability to attract more casual fans. A lot of this can be attributed to fantasy football and other forms of gambling. The die hard football fans have always been there, and are still here through the ratings slide. However, the current drop in ratings shows the vulnerability of the casual football fan. Let’s look at some of the reasons that have lead to this.

National Anthem Protests

160916164438-01-nfl-players-protest-super-169Colin Kaepernick has started a trend of players refusing to stand for the National Anthem out of protest for racial injustice. While their intentions have sparked an intense debate that has reached outside of the sports world, it has turned off those who have found these actions offensive. On the tail end of the preseason and first few weeks of the regular season, activity during the National Anthem has become just as much of the narrative as the game-winning touchdown.

To a certain degree, it is turning some fans off from the NFL. Most people view sports as an escape from the real world and its problems. Whether you support the athletes who are protesting, or against them, it creates a negative stimulus. If you support the protesters, it reminds you of the racial injustice problem in America. If you do not support the protesters, you are offended and view it as a sign of disrespect to the country and the American flag. Regardless of which way you perceive it, it is upsetting to a particular degree and is causing some people to tune out from watching football altogether.

Presidential Debates

trump-clinton-town-hall-620x413The first two presidential debates have taken place during primetime national television games. The first coincided with Monday Night Football on October 3rd when the New York Giants visited the Minnesota Vikings with the second taking place on October 9th during Sunday Night Football when the Giants traveled to Green Bay to face the Packers. According to Forbes, The first debate drew a total of 84 million viewers and while the second dropped by 20%, each strongly dominated the football games.

The Packers/Giants SNF Game scored a 10.2 overnight rating, which was 22% lower than the 2015 Week 5 game. The 10.2 was in fact the lowest in three years. To compare, the most recent debate scored an overnight rating of 37.2. Compare to 2012, football thrived during the election and in fact an NFL game was the most watched TV show for all 17 weeks of the regular season, which was the first time that ever happened.

While most Americans are anxiously waiting for this election season to be over, it cannot be ignored how much attention it has received for obvious and obscure circumstances surrounding the campaign. Considering the attention it is receiving from the American public, football has been an afterthought against the Presidential debates.

Bad Product

This might sound too obvious to be the reason, but frankly the national primetime games have not been very good. When the NFL schedule comes out each April, the goal of the schedule makers is to put the best, most compelling and competitive games in primetime for the entire country to enjoy. While trying to predict how good each team will be in April with metaphysical certainty is an exercise in futility, it is typically not impossible to pick out some of the better matchups on the schedule.

Game Average Winning Score Average Losing Score W/L % of Winner W/L % of Loser
TNF 29.86 17.33 0.472 0.444
SNF 27.17 17.5 0.771 0.429
MNF 26.86 12.71 0.564 0.366
Overall 29.05 15.68 0.600 0.411

Nov 12, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) runs in a touchdown against Buffalo Bills corner back Stephon Gilmore (24) and Buffalo Bills linebacker Tony Steward (50) during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. The Bills defeated the Jets 22-17. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Based on the table above, the average margin of victory for prime time games through Week 6 is 13.73 points, almost two touchdowns. Therefore most of the games have not been very competitive, thus not giving viewers much reason to stay tuned in to these games. The teams falling short in these primetime matchups are posting a pedestrian .411 winning percentage, .189 points short of the .600 winning percentage of the winners. In terms of a full schedule, that basically means that an average primetime matchup has a 9.6-win team defeating a 6.6-win team by a margin of two touchdowns. That’s not super enticing for fans to set time aside to watch on a consistent basis.

 

Too many flags

nfl_officials_flagNFL Penalties are being called at an alarming rate, a trend that has been building since the new CBA in 2011 called for rule changes that would completely alter the way NFL games would be officiated. A lot of it is attributed to the concussion lawsuits and an effort to protect players more, which results in penalizing players for the physical play that drew so many fans to the sport in the first place. For the most part, the rules favor and protect the offense, as defensive backs are not allowed to cover receivers as closely as they used to, linebackers are not able to hit receivers coming across the middle like they used to, and defensive linemen not being able to attack the quarterbacks like they used to in the past.

An argument can be made that the changes are positive, in that the game is safer and it will ultimately cut down on long-term health issues of retired players. But, it might be going a little too far. While the decline in physicality due to new rules has its merits, the frequency at which penalty flags are being thrown is disturbing. It’s getting to the point where after a big play, most of the audience is looking for and assuming that annoying, little yellow flag is about to show up on the field. Aside from taking the air out of the balloon, created by the big, exciting play, it interrupts the flow of the game. That interruption makes watching some of the heavy-penalized games to feel like a drag, which aside from watching your favorite team getting blown out, is the last thing you want out of watching a football game.

Through Week 6 of the NFL Season and according to http://www.nflpenalties.com/, there have been an average of 16.46 flags thrown  per game, with 14.01 of those being accepted. This has been a growing trend over the past few seasons. In 2013, there were an average of 13.62 flags thrown per game, roughly three less than the average up through this point of the season. Ultimately, this is turning off a lot of fans and is certainly playing a role in the ratings decline.

And the problem no one is talking about…The RedZone Drug


Yes, I am about to criticize something that just about every football fan loves…NFL RedZone, and for good reason. It is an opportunity to watch bits, pieces and in-game highlights of every single Sunday afternoon game without a single commercial interruption. Sounds perfect, right? Most people say yes. It’s great, and a terrific alternative when your favorite team is not in action. Seems perfect. It’s hard to complain. Well, there is a problem that is directly correlated to less people tuning in for primetime games.

NFL RedZone provides constant action. Sure, that sounds good on the surface. But it is also feeding into the current “ADD”, constant need for stimulus, nature of society. A lot of this can be blamed on cell phones, and the fact that you can practically do anything you want on your phone. Check emails, scroll through social media, read the news, text friends, watch videos and simply browse the internet. Has it made people’s lives easier? Absolutely. But does it also come with a price? Yes, it sure does. The result is that whenever sitting idling, waiting for something, we resort to our phones. As a result, people have a constant craving to be stimulated with distraction or entertainment and have become inept at dealing being able sitting in solitude with their thoughts and nothing else.

psychguides-shutterstock182518145-students_on_their_phones-feature_imageGod forbid, there are a few seconds sitting in silence, thinking to yourself. NFL RedZone is feeding right into this problem. During an NFL game, there are a series of breaks, and of varying degrees. Whether it is the 30-40 seconds in between plays, the five commercial breaks each quarter, or the 12-minute halftime recess. Spectators are used to being able to digest the game in pieces, think about the situation during the time outs, speculate on what will happen next, or even just take a break to get a beer or use the restroom.

The RedZone channel robs fans of this underrated break. Additionally, when you only see highlights, you miss out on the complete story of the game. Every NFL game has a story to it, that builds through each subsequent play and quarter that is missed when you see just the highlights. Watching NFL RedZone is equivalent to reading the cliff notes of a book. Not many people are talking about this, due to the popularity of the channel, but it should not be overlooked that it is playing a role in the ratings decline.

NFL Red Zone has fed into this constant need for stimulation. During the 1:00 and 4:00 games, viewers are accustomed to that consistent boost, without any breaks from football action. Now, fast forward to Sunday Night Football where there is just one game to watch, it can be difficult for those used to that constant action throughout the day. When you are used to uninterrupted stimulation, akin filling the “void” by looking at our phones, and having to watch one game with normal commercial breaks and anticipated lulls, it can be challenging to stay locked in for the full three hours. Therefore, less and less people have the pure patience to sit through an entire game by itself, thus another reason why ratings during primetime games are continuing to drop.

Photo Credits: http://www.sporttechie.com/2014/10/12/sports/mlb/why-the-mlb-needs-a-risp-channel-like-nfl-red-zone/

https://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2016/10/10/energy-pops-up-as-a-surprise-in-sundays-presidential-debate/

http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/16/opinions/nfl-needs-to-make-standing-for-anthem-a-rule-chi/

https://thejetpress.com/

http://www.psychguides.com/guides/cell-phone-addiction/

http://theineptowl.com/

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Week 7 NFL Power Rankings

1. Minnesota Vikings 5-0 (Last Week: 1st)

The Vikings are coming off a bye and will travel with their dominant defense to Philadelphia this coming Sunday. It will also mark the return of Sam Bradford to face the team he was slated to be the Week 1 starter for in the Eagles, prior to the Teddy Bridgewater injury and subsequent trade. Minnesota matches up well against the Eagles and is in prime position to improve to 6-0. (CG)

2. New England Patriots 5-1 (Last Week: 2nd)

Well I suppose Gronk is back too. He had the best receiving game yardage-wise of his career (162) as the Pats defeated Cincinnati. Interesting to see New England struggle in the first-half against the Bengals, but Brady bounced back as he continues his revenge tour. With no Big Ben in Pittsburgh next week, look for another solid performance from this team. (AD)

3. Seattle Seahawks 4-1 (Last Week: 6th)

A missed call allowed the Seahawks to get a huge victory against a very good Atlanta Falcons team. Seattle improves to 4-1 and has an opportunity to take control of the division when they face off against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday night. Russell Wilson is still hobbled, there are huge liabilities on the offense line and the defense has been plagued by injuries, yet the Seahawks keep finding ways to win…and that’s what great teams do. (DH)

4. Atlanta Falcons 4-2 (Last Week: 4th)

Atlanta put up 362 yards of offense in a losing effort against Seattle, the most the Seahawks have given up since Week 12 of 2015. That missed pass interference call at the end of the game, which could have changed the outcome, might come back to bite the Falcons for playoff seeding. They return home to face San Diego who has the 8th-worst pass defense in the league – let’s see if the Falcons can have another 35+-point performance behind Matty Ice. Player to Watch: He’s on pace for a career year, so look for Matt Ryan to shame the Chargers’ pass defense this Sunday afternoon. (CH)

5. Dallas Cowboys 5-1 (Last Week: 8th)

It is no longer premature to say the Cowboys are for real, following their dominating win in Green Bay this past Sunday. The rookie duo of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot continues to impress. Despite finally throwing his first interception, Prescott managed to break the NFL record for most passes thrown without a pick. Despite the continued strong performances of Prescott and Elliot, the biggest surprise of the team may be the play of their defense, a unit that made Aaron Rodgers look mediocre. That is an accomplishment that has only been matched by the Vikings’ elite defense back in Week 2. (CG)

6. Denver Broncos 4-2 (Last Week: 5th)

The defending Super Bowl Champions are now coming off back-to-back losses following defeat to the Chargers on Thursday Night Football. It can be fair to suggest the Chargers were playing with more desperation and urgency, entering the game at 1-4 and their season arguably on the line. Therefore, its premature to hit the panic button.  However, the Denver offensive line was abused all night and it made things very difficult for their inexperienced signal caller. Denver welcomes Brock Osweiler back to town and will do so after 11 days of rest. (CG)

7. Pittsburgh Steelers 4-2 (Last Week: 3rd)

While Steeler-Nation is left wondering “WTF?”, Vegas is reaping the rewards with 81% of the public betting on Pittsburgh to roll the Dolphins on the road. Perhaps it was the Miami humidity, but the Steelers couldn’t get anything going on offense for the majority of the game. Adding insult to injury, Pittsburgh may be without starting QB Ben Roethlisberger in Week 7 vs the Patriots. (JA)

8. Green Bay Packers 3-2 (Last Week: 7th)

The Packers suffered one of their worst home losses in recent memory this past Sunday, losing to the Cowboys 30-16. Concern continues to loom about Aaron Rodgers, as he still does not look like the dominant quarterback we are used to seeing on weekly basis. He missed easy throws that he usually makes in what seems to be an effortless fashion. The team turnovers were every bit as disconcerting, especially for a veteran team like Green Bay. This may be one of the few times a team looks forward to Thursday Night Football, as they have the opportunity to quickly shake this one off against the lowly Bears. (CG)

9. Oakland Raiders 4-2 (Last Week: 10th)

The prolific Oakland offense was stifled by the Kansas City defense in a 26-10 defeat. The Raiders deserve a little bit of slack, given Andy Reid’s record following a bye, which is exactly the circumstance the Chiefs were in coming into this game. On the other side of the ball, the Raiders’ defense struggled, which has been a theme despite their 4-1 start before this game. The Raiders should be in the playoff hunt all season, mostly thanks to Derek Carr and collection of offensive weapons, but the defense is a major concern. (CG)

10. Houston Texans 4-2 (Last Week: 12th)

Down 20-9 in the 4th quarter, the Texans looked like they would lose their spot at the top of the AFC South. Thank fully, Brock Osweiler decided to put the team on his back with an assist from his defense. Even for a team who’s fans leave at halftime, Houston is 4-0 at home on the year and only have losses to the top 2 teams in the NFL (Patriots & Vikings). Maybe they get their first road W against the Broncos in Week 7. (JA)

11. Buffalo Bills 4-2 (Last Week: 13th)

Anthony Lynn, the new Offensive Coordinator for Buffalo, was a former running backs coach for quite some time. His expertise is showing as Shady McCoy has put together a string of terrific performances. The Bills are beating up on bad teams right now. They’ve won 4 in a row for the first time since 2008 and look to continue their dominance against the Dolphins. (AD)

12. Arizona Cardinals (Last Week: 14th)

The Cards have won two straight games in decisive fashion. Unfortunately, those victories have proven nothing because they were against two of the worst teams in the league. The Birds may be going through an identity shift with the ability to run the ball so effectively. David Johnson creates one of the biggest match-up concerns for a defensive in the NFL. The momentum and confidence are rising in the Valley and the Cards do not have to wait long to prove it as they face off against Divisional rival Seahawks Sunday night. (DH)

13. Kansas City Chiefs 3-2 (Last Week: 17th)

Death, taxes and Andy Reid following a bye – the few things that are guaranteed in life. Combining his 14-year tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles, Andy Reid now has a 16-2 coaching record after the bye. The Kansas City defense was back to its dominant ways, stifling the Oakland offense, which has been one the NFL’s best this season. It was a game the Chiefs needed to get back in the AFC West race, and they came through in a very convincing way. (CG)

14. Washington Redskins 4-2 (Last Week: 18th)

Following an abysmal 0-2 start, the Redskins have rattled off four straight wins to improve to 4-2. Their running game, which had struggled up until Sunday, really got going against the Eagles, as they reached 230 yards on the ground. The Washington pass rush was able to exploit the vulnerable Philadelphia offensive line, preventing their offense from ever finding any true momentum. That combination is the reason the Redskins are 4-2 and very much alive in the NFC playoff race. (CG)

15. Philadelphia Eagles 3-2 (Last Week: 9th)

After starting 3-0, the Eagles have now dropped their last two games. The loss of Lane Johnson to a ten-game suspension was even a bigger deal than anyone could have predicted, as the rookie Halapoulivaati Vatai struggled mightily against Ryan Kerrigan of the Redskins. Philadelphia didn’t do him very many favors, in terms of offering extra protection, which made things very difficult for the offense to get in any type of rhythm. Couple that with a second consecutive game with 110+ of penalty yards, the Eagles look like a completely different team that dominated the Steelers back in Week 3. (CG)

16. Baltimore Ravens 3-3 (Last Week: 11th)

New Baltimore O-Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s best weapon may be his K Justin Tucker, who continually keeps the Ravens afloat week after week. As the season continues, the Ravens will need more than Tucker’s foot and Terrence West’s legs if they hope to get accumulate more W’s this season. In a loss the Giants, the defense allowed a 4th & 1 pass to go for a 66yd TD with under 90 seconds left in the game. Hopefully Joe Flacco and company can get back on track vs the Jets up next. (JA)

17. Los Angeles Rams 3-3 (Last Week: 16th)

LA fell to the Lions Sunday taking their record to 3-3. Case Keenum’s surprisingly good play could postpone a Jared Goff appearance until further notice. Jeff Fisher’s conquest to mediocracy continues on a different continent as the Rams take on the Giants in London. (DH)

18. New York Giants 3-3 (Last Week: 19th)

The Giants bounced back to get to .500 in what was Odell Beckham’s best game of the season. Beckham delivered two long touchdowns that propelled New York to a 27-23 win over the Ravens. It was also a strong outing for Eli Manning, who had been struggling up until this point. The Giants sit at 3-3, which lands them in last place in the NFC East, the only division in the NFL with all four teams being .500 or better. (CG)

19. Tennessee Titans 3-3 (Last Week: 20th)

Against sub .500 teams Marcus Mariota looks hella impressive. With back-to-back 3 TD performances, the Titans held off the Browns for their 3rd win on the year. Big props to veteran WR Andre Johnson for recovering the onside kick to stave off Cleveland’s comeback attempt. Look for Tennessee to surpass 2015 win total next weekend at home against division rival Indianapolis. (JA)

20. Cincinnati Bengals 2-4 (Last Week: 15th)

On a day when the Bengals needed their best defensive performance of the year, Tom Brady and his WRs hooked up for 358yds & 3 TDS. But this loss wasn’t all on the defense. The Bengal’s offense failed to score on 2 attempts in the redzone that potentially could have placed the Patriots in a tough spot going into the 4th quarter. Good news for the Bengals however, is that they host the winless Browns on Sunday. (JA)

21. Detroit Lions 3-3 (Last Week: 21st)

The Lions were looking like a team in for a long year just a couple weeks ago when they sat at 1-3. Now two straight wins has them right back in the NFC mix at 3-3. In two straight weeks, Detroit has eked out close wins off game-winning field goals by Matt Prater. They welcome the Redskins this coming week, another team that started out slowly but has played well as of late. (CG)

22. San Diego Chargers 2-4 (Last Week: 28th)

The Chargers, who have been in every game this year despite the 1-4 start, got a much-needed win against the Broncos last Thursday Night. Phillip Rivers managed to move the ball against the vaunted Denver defense, and he has also found a new weapon in rookie tight end, Hunter Henry. What was more encouraging was the defense. While he did not record a sack, Joey Bosa proved why he was the #3 overall pick with the constant pass rush he was able to put on Trevor Siemian. This may be the best 2-4 team in the NFL. If they build off this win and avoid the mistakes that cost them early season wins, the Chargers are fully capable of going on a run. (CG)

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-3 (Last Week: 23rd)

Good and bad news for Bucs fans: the good news is they didn’t lose this past week and Gerald McCoy and Doug Martin might return for the next game; the bad news is Vincent Jackson just joined Charles Sims on Injured Reserved. Coming off a bye week that followed a dramatic Monday night win against the Panthers, Tampa Bay might have the needed rest and momentum to beat the 49ers in the Bay Area this Sunday. Player to Watch: If Doug Martin returns, he should light up the San Fran defense – and your fantasy scoreboard. (CH)

24. New Orleans Saints 2-3 (Last Week: 26th)

Following an offensive explosion against the Panthers, the Saints will travel to Kansas City. They aren’t the best road team and the Chiefs have lost each game following a win this season. This week 7 matchup seems to be up in the air, but the Saints’ high octane offense has the edge. Player to Watch: With Marcus Peters likely covering Brandin Cooks, look for rookie Michael Thomas to improve on his 3-game touchdown streak. (CH)

25. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-3 (Last Week: 25th)

The Jaguars waited for the final 15 minutes of the game to finally reached the endzone on the road vs the Bears this week. Maybe Gus Bradley was sand-bagging Chicago into thinking they had a shot against his mighty Jaguars…OR maybe this was just a matchup of teams who hate lighting up the score board. Regardless, Jacksonville will have to tighten up on defense if they hope to get another win against the visiting Raiders. (JA)

26. Carolina Panthers 1-5 (Last Week: 22nd)

What else can be said about this sinking ship? They’ve lost 4 straight (3 against divisional opponents), are bottom 10 in offensive yards allowed, and are tied for second-worst in points allowed. It’s going to be a long bye week for this team, and they need to figure something out before facing the Cardinals at home in week 8. Good thing their fans don’t have to watch this atrocity play this week! (CH)

27. New York Jets 1-4 (Last Week: 24th)

This team looks pretty bad on every level. Monday’s game against the Cardinals was cringeworthy and the Jets don’t seem to have an answer for anybody. Todd Bowles has some sole searching to do and it looks like it starts with the benching of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Playoffs are just about out of reach and it would be wise for the Jets to start investing in the future. (AD)

28. Indianapolis Colts 2-4 (Last Week: 27th)

For the 4th time this season the Colts failed to play a complete game of pigskin. Jumping out to an early lead on the road against the Texans, the Indy defense couldn’t hold it together to seal victory. Surprisingly, this was an improved performance on both sides of the ball for the Colts but failure to convert 3rd downs late in the game ultimately doomed them. With a 3rd division game next against the Titans, a win is imperative to hold on to the last straw of hope for a playoff shot. (JA)

29. Miami Dolphins 2-4 (Last Week: 30th)

204 yards for Jay Ajayi! The Dolphins completely owned the Steelers this past week. Roethlisberger had one of those games where he doesn’t show up and ended up getting hurt in the process. This was a surprise given the Fins ineptitude the past few weeks. Perhaps it’s a turning point for them as they continue against Buffalo next week. (AD)

30. Chicago Bears 1-5 (Last Week: 29th)

The Bears looked prime to capture their second win, leading the Jaguars late in the fourth quarter before squandering the lead and falling 17-16. Despite Brian Hoyer throwing for 300 yards in four straight games, he again failed to do enough to lead Chicago to victory. As a team that is already struggling as much as it is, this might be the most demoralizing loss of the season. The Bears are now in a very tough spot, having to travel to Green Bay to face an angry Packers team coming off a bad home loss. (CG)

31. San Francisco 1-5 (Last Week: 31st)

The 49ers got steam-rolled by the Bills falling to 1-5. On a positive note- Colin Kaepernick is slightly better than Blaine Gabbert. It seems like a lost season for San Fran. They negotiated Kap’s contract to get him out of town after this year. It’s a bad team led by QB who spends more time reading Gandhi than Defenses. (DH)

32. Cleveland Browns 0-6 (Last Week: 32nd)

The biggest positive in another loss for Cleveland is that they pushed the Titans to the final minute of the game and also hit a season high in points scored (26). While he may not be an All-Pro QB, rookie QB Cody Kessler has looked more than competent in 4 games this year compared to Browns QBs of the past. With a road game vs division foe Cincinnati up next, here’s to hoping Kessler and can avoid going 0-7. (JA)

 

Photo Credit: http://profootballspot.com/index.html/nfl/nfc-north/minnesota-vikings/2015-week-4-vikings-fantasy-preview-vs-broncos-r13145/

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Players Who Sucked This Week

There’s a new addition to this weekly hate-on-athletes article: hockey! So let’s put some goaltenders on the list who couldn’t even stop a nosebleed.

First award of the week deservedly goes to Nick Kyrgios. I give credit to Scott Van Pelt for calling him out on his Wednesday night show, because I don’t follow tennis. If you don’t either, this guy has a laundry list of controversies. His most recent controversy is a lack of effort – yep, the guy didn’t even try playing the game. This guy should be banned from tennis for a couple months…..oh wait, he is.

Football

If you’ve been watching football the past few years, you know about Vontaze Burfict’s character (or lack of). Now if you judge him solely on talent, he’s a pretty solid addition to your linebacking core. But when he stomps on another player’s leg and attempts to take out another player’s leg/knee, both in the same game, you are probably not surprised. He was suspended the first 3 games of the season for repeated safety violations, which hasn’t seem to change how he plays. One thing is certain: he’s better suited for the next Longest Yard remake than on a professional football team.

The Panthers defense was atrocious yet again. They allowed the Saints’ offense to gain 523 yards and 41 points, which is scarily similar to their October 2nd beatdown in the Georgia Dome. Nothing seems to be going right for this team.

Jalen Richard got his fantasy owners’ hopes up for nothing, putting up 13 yards on 6 touches. The hype is nearing its official end.

Colin Kaepernick made his much-anticipated return, and performed the way most critics predicted: terribly. Here’s a brutal critique of his Sunday performance. 

 

Baseball

Joe Blanton blew game 1 of the NLCS. After intentionally loading the bases with only 1 out in the bottom of the 8th, he became the most loved man in Chicago by giving up the go-ahead grand slam to Miguel Montero. And how’d he rebound on the very next pitch? By allowing Dexter Fowler to make it back-to-back homers. Unfortunately someone always has to be on the losing side, and this guy did it turrrrribly.

Barkley's feelings on Blanton & Dayton.

Barkley’s feelings on Blanton & Dayton.

They say misery loves company, so Blanton is glad to see his fellow reliever Grant Dayton on this list. He made 2 appearances, getting just 1 out and giving up a 2-run pinch hit home run to Chris Heisey. That kind of relief work won’t help the Dodgers win the World Series.

Anthony Rendon and Yasiel Puig failed to get a hit within the last week. Puig takes the cake after popping out on a bunt attend to end the 9th inning.

After having an amazing year that will likely win him NL Rookie of the Year honors, Corey Seager has done terrible the past 4 games, going 1-17 with 6 strikeouts. And I won’t leave you out Russell Martin, Mr. 1-11 with 7 strikeouts. Or the strike-zone whiner Jose Bautista, who went 1-9 with 6 strikeouts.

(week of 10/11-17)

 

Hockey

Brian Elliott allowed 10 goals on 55 shots, losing both games against Edmonton to start off the Flames’ season.

Anton Khudobin proved why he’s the Bruins backup goalie, letting 4 goals go by against the Maple Leafs Saturday night. Tuukka Rask doesn’t have to worry about losing his starting job.

Andrew Hammond is not the starter for the Senators, and his Monday night performance is proof enough.

Both Cam Ward and Marek Mazanec made one start this past week and did not impress, each allowing 5 goals on the road against the Jets and Blackhawks, respectively. Semyon Varlamov also allowed 5 goals, but in front of his home crowd against the Stars.

(week of 10/11-17)

 

Players Who Sucked Again

Hard to believe I’m about to put this franchise player in this non-prestigious section, but Anthony Rizzo sucked at the plate for the second straight week. He’s managed just 1 hit in 23 at-bats this postseason, but he’s bound to make a big offensive play at some point. Right?

I usually save this section for athletes who screw up in consecutive weeks, but Ryan Fitzpatrick just made this article’s first 3-peat. Fans gotta wonder how much shorter his leash is in New York.

 

Dishonorable Mentions

The Pittsburgh Steelers played Cleveland Browns-like football in Miami Sunday afternoon. But I’m okay with that, because Jay Ajayi had a huge day to help my fantasy team win.

The call-that-should-have-been against Richard Sherman on Julio Jones will be talked about all season long. We all know it was pass interference, the officials just missed a huge call that could have changed the outcome of the game. So how will it impact the NFC playoff picture?

Every player on the Toronto Maple Leafs not named Auston Matthews should be ashamed that they lost 5-4 on opening night – all of their goals came from that rookie in his first regular season game. Side note: that performance by Matthews was impressive as hell.

Petr Mrazek had a rough Florida road trip, allowing 8 goals against the Lightning and Panthers. But he redeemed himself Monday night at home against the Senators.

With how this year has gone so far, I’m not sure if the Jets are that bad, or the Cardinals are that good, so I’m gonna give the Jets a dishonorable mention for that Monday night bludgeoning.

 

Got anyone to add? Write ’em in that comment box.

And I beg you to not remind me of that depressing UCF loss…

 

Photo Credits:
https://static.independent.co.uk/s3fs-public/styles/article_large/public/thumbnails/image/2016/10/12/13/nick-kyrgios.jpg
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-rJHxCTlkLbg/U1-_OgWXHeI/AAAAAAAAASI/KdWcG19TiKc/s1600/Turrible.png

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Week 6 NFL Power Rankings

1. Minnesota Vikings 5-0 (Last Week: 2nd)

The Vikings continue to be dominant following a 31-13 rout of the Texans. Their defense has established itself as the best in the NFL and Sam Bradford is only getting better under center. Minnesota sits as the last undefeated team, an honor which shall last at minimum a week as they find themselves on a bye in Week 6. An intriguing game looms in Week 7 as they will travel to Philadelphia to face the 3-1 Eagles. (CG)

2. New England Patriots 4-1 (Last Week: 3rd)

Brady’s bunch got back on track with a balanced attack against the Browns. Both the offense and defense looked solid as Brady didn’t miss a beat. The Martellus Bennett deal looks better each week. (AD)

3. Pittsburgh Steelers 4-1 (Last Week: 4th)

Big Ben continues to impress this season and for good reason. His Steeler’s sit atop the AFC North coming off another strong offensive performance against the Jets. Antonio Brown’s covered? No worries. We’ll sling it to rookie Sammie Coates and have fantasy owners hitting the waiver wire hard to pick him up. Don’t expect Pittsburgh’s dynamite offense to slow down on the road Sunday vs the Dolphins. (JA)

4. Atlanta Falcons 4-1 (Last Week: 8th)

Atlanta is the hottest team in the league right now, putting on an offensive showcase in their last 4 games. Not many people thought they could go into Denver with a win, but they did, and they will go to Seattle next week looking to prove it wasn’t a fluke. Players to Watch: They had a strong defensive outing in Denver against a rookie quarterback, let’s see if it can slow down the Seahawks to win a likely low-scoring affair. (CH)

5. Denver Broncos 4-1 (Last Week: 1st)

Denver was dealt its first loss of 2016, dropping a home game to the high-flying Falcons. The defense is still stout but we learned that Paxton Lynch is not yet ready for the NFL. As most pundits expected, the status of the quarterback situation will determine how realistic the possibility is of the Broncos repeating as Super Bowl Champs. If Trevor Siemian returns soon and can build off his strong play in the first four games, Denver should be able to get right back on track. (CG)

6. Seattle Seahawks 3-1 (Last Week: 6th)

Seattle took the week off and the timing could not have been better. Russell Wilson took full advantage of the time off rehabilitating his knee and ankle. Drew Morcos, Wilson’s personal physical therapist, flew up from California to help out with the strengthening and flexibility of the knee and ankle. The Seahawks will need a healthy roster going into Sundays game against the Atlanta Falcons who are coming off an impressive win in Denver. (DH)

7. Green Bay Packers 3-1 (Last Week: 5th)

The Packers came off an early bye and defeated the Giants on Sunday Night Football 23-16. While the game was never in serious doubt, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense still are not clicking and performing at the level we are used to seeing. The true bright spot is the defense, which stood tall by forcing New York into field goals in lieu of touchdown drives. When the offense starts hitting on all cylinders, the Packers will be a looking like a sure-fire Super Bowl contender. (CG)

8. Dallas Cowboys 4-1 (Last Week: 12th)

The rookies continue to dazzle in Big D as Dak Prescott remains flawless and Ezekiel Elliot has eclipsed 130 rushing yards for the third straight game. The ball control approach keeps working wonders and the defense may be the NFL’s biggest over-achievers. This past dominant win against the Bengals legitimizes the Cowboys as true playoff contenders. Despite what Jerry Jones says, it’s hard to fathom turning to Tony Romo when he is cleared to play in a few weeks. (CG)

9. Philadelphia Eagles 3-1 (Last Week: 7th)

If it were not for a late, Ryan Matthews fumble and some questionable officiating the Eagles would probably still be undefeated. Philadelphia erased a 21-7 deficit in Detroit by taking a 23-21 lead in the 4th quarter before eventually losing 24-23. Despite coming out flat in the first half, the Eagles defense responded by only allowing three points in the second half. Carson Wentz, despite throwing his first interception on a long pass to Nelson Agholor, continues to play at a very high level. The Eagles open up division play when traveling to Washington for a pivotal early season game against the Redskins. (CG)

10. Oakland Raiders 4-1 (Last Week: 10th)

The Raiders are off to their best start since 2002 and improved to 4-1 after a tight 34-31 divisional win against the Chargers. Third-year QB, Derek Carr is coming off another impressive performance and Amari Cooper is coming off his best game of the season. The defense is still a concern, but Oakland’s simplistic strategy of outscoring their opponent is working out pretty well so far this season. (CG)

11. Baltimore Ravens 3-2 (Last Week: 13th)

Turns out the Ravens aren’t for real. While some may attribute it to a solid defensive performance by the Redskins, the truth is Baltimore’s offense is a C- on a good day. In cutting Justin Forsett, Raven fans expected a good showing from rookie Kenneth Dixon who was touted the rock 3x’s for negative yards. Maybe Baltimore continues the trend of road wins with a shot at win #4 vs the Giants. (JA)

12. Houston Texans 3-2 (Last Week 9th)

Sometimes you throw the ball 42 times when you’re playing from behind, your WR’s are open every play and you hit career highs. Other times you attempt 42 passes and complete 18 of them for less than 200 yards…The latter of scenarios was peak Texans on the road against a stout Vikings defense. The good thing going for Houston is that they’re the best team in a weak conference. They’ll look to retain that title vs the Colts this weekend. (JA)

13. Buffalo Bills 3-2 (Last Week: 19th)

Winners of three in a row versus some tough teams, you have to give Rex Ryan’s crew credit for bouncing back. Lesean McCoy is having a sneaky good season and they have a favorable matchup against Kap and the 49ers. (AD)

14. Arizona Cardinals 2-3 (Last Week: 14th)

The Cards improved to 2-3 with a win against San Fran Thursday night. The Birds got off to another slow start and it took an interception from Defensive Lineman Calais Campbell to ignite the team. Carson Palmer should clear the concussion protocol this week and be ready for a Monday night showdown against the Jets. The Offensive Line is beat up with Iupati being out for 2-4 weeks with a ligament tear and Evan Mathis likely out for the season. The Cards need to string some wins together if they want to reach the playoffs in the competitive NFC. The defense is the catalyst of this team. With Honey Badger going back into the box we should see the Defense get its personality back. (DH)

15. Cincinnati Bengals 2-3 (Last Week: 11th)

Going scoreless until the 4 th quarter is never a good thing, especially on the road against the hottest rookie QB since 2012 RG3. The Cowboy’s defense kept the pressure high on Andy Dalton, sacking him four times and causing him to check down often to Brandon LaFell. Vontaze Burfict showed no signs of rust in his second game back leading the Bengals in tackles. Cincy will need their best defensive showing of the year with a trip to Foxboro up next vs a feisty Tom Brady. (JA)

16. Los Angeles Rams 3-2 (Last Week: 16th)

Rams got beat at home by the Bills taking their record to 3-2. After the game Jeff Fisher said “We don’t make excuses, but we were down 3 out of 4 defensive lineman.” That’s an excuse, dude…As if we needed more reasons to hate Jeff Fisher. But in actuality that is the reason the Rams got slapped up by the Bills. The Rams biggest strength is their defensive line and when that is eliminated they become the 49ers. Todd Gurley is coming into form and creating some chemistry with the offensive line. With Benny Cunningham sidelined, Gurley will see more action in the passing game. Rams travel to Detroit on Sunday to face off against the Lions.  (DH)

17. Kansas City Chiefs 2-2 (Last Week: 17th)

The Chiefs are coming off an early, yet possibly well-timed bye before facing their divisional rivals in Oakland this coming Sunday. Considering how badly Kansas City was beaten in Week 4 by the Steelers and Andy Reid’s well-documented success following a bye, the Chiefs should come ready to play this coming week. It will be very interesting to see how the running backs are used and more specifically the snap count for Jamaal Charles. (CG)

18. Washington Redskins 3-2 (Last Week: 21st)

After starting 0-2, the Redskins have won three straight and have improved to 3-2. Kirk Cousins is playing better and the offense is starting to settle in, despite only putting up 16 points in their victory at Baltimore. Their defense, especially against the run is their biggest weakness. Given those circumstances, the recipe for success in Washington is for the high-powered offense to build enough of a lead that forces their opponent to become one-dimensional. Any game where they cannot do this will be struggle. (CG)

19. New York Giants 2-3 (Last Week: 15th)

After starting 2-0, the Giants have lost three in a row and find themselves in the cellar of the NFC East. Eli Manning is coming off another mediocre performance in a loss to the Packers. Both sides of the ball are loaded with talent, but that has not led in wins in the last three games. Its not inconceivable that the Odell Beckham situation is becoming a distraction and hurting the team. The Giants will have their hands full with a Ravens team that is coming off back-to-back losses and should pretty fired up this Sunday. (CG)

20. Tennessee Titans 2-3 (Last Week: 22nd)

Last week I mentioned the possibility of Demarco Murray’s shine to rub off on Marcus Mariota. Against the Dolphins, Mariota shined bright tossing 3 TDs and rushing for 1 more on the road. The win this week was another shimmer of Mariota’s college glory and how talented he can be with time in the pocket. Expect another quality performance from Mariota as the dreadful Browns visit next. (JA)

21. Detroit Lions 2-3 (Last Week: 25th)

The Lions earned a much-needed win against the Eagles this past Sunday. Matt Stafford played very well and despite being limited by the Philly defense in the second half, he made big throws when his team needed him the most to help Detroit earn their second win of the season. The Lions clearly miss Ezekiel Ansah and Deandre Levy on defense but got superb play out of Darius Slay and are hoping the unit can feed off the performance moving forward. (CG)

22. Carolina Panthers (Last Week: 18th)

Coming off a rough loss against the Bucs, the keep-on-pounding-Panthers will try to redeem themselves in the Superdome. SuperCam might miss a second straight game, and Carolina might miss the playoffs – that ain’t good following a Super Bowl run. Player to Watch: If he’s healthy and cleared to play, watch for Jonathan Stewart to beat up a weak Saints’ run defense. (CH)

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last Week: 26th)

While the Bucs have not had a great start to 2016, they currently sit in second place in an abysmal NFC South after the dramatic Monday night win. Injuries continue to hurt them, with running back Charles Sims recently added to IR. Fortunately next week is a bye for Tampa Bay before they head out west to face the 49ers. (CH)

24. New York Jets 1-4 (Last Week: 20th)

Another tough loss to a tough team where the Jets didn’t show up in the second half. They have a chance to rebound against the struggling Cardinals, but this sure smells like a down year for gang green. Perhaps its soon time to see what they have in Geno Smith, Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg. (AD)

25. Jacksonville Jaguars 1-3 (Last Week: 23rd)

Even though the league didn’t count it, I consider this weekend a soft W for the Jaguars not taking a loss on their bye week. With the bye, Jacksonville is fully recovered from their game in London and looking for the 1 st road win against the lowly rated Bears. (JA)

26. New Orleans Saints 1-3 (Last Week: 28th)

The Saints are coming off a bye and will play at home against a struggling Panthers squad who could be without Cam Newton for a second straight week. If he’s back, it might be another shootout between the NFC South rivals. Player to Watch: Getting some rest during the bye should help Mark Ingram put up big numbers against a not-so-hot Panthers defense, especially after John Kuhn vultured three scores last game. (CH)

27. Indianapolis Colts 2-3 (Last Week 27th)

The Colts finally played a complete 60 minutes and low and behold, it resulted in their 2nd W on the year. The Andrew Luck – TY Hilton connection continues to impress for the 3rd consecutive week as they linked up for 171 yards and a TD. While the defense wasn’t spectacular, the D did their job against the Bears. HUGE props to Frank Gore moving into 9th in all time rushing yards. His climb up the record books should continue against a JJ Watt-less Texans defense on Sunday. (JA)

28. San Diego Chargers 1-4 (Last Week: 24th)

Another week leads to another excruciating loss for the Chargers. The San Diego fan base may be the most tortured of the young 2016 season. The sad thing is that for the most of each game they play, the Chargers look much better than a 1-4 team. But each week they find a new way to lose. This trend could possibly not bode well for the job security of Head Coach, Mike McCoy. (CG)

29. Chicago Bears 1-4 (Last Week: 30th)

The Bears came “oh-so-close” to earning their second win of the season and keeping up their undefeated streak in Indianapolis. The lack of pass rush allowed Andrew Luck to find the holes in the Chicago defense. While most Bears fans are not in any rush to see Jay Cutler again, Brian Hoyer showed why he is a backup QB as he was unable to lead the offense when they needed him the most. (CG)

30. Miami Dolphins 1-4 (Last Week: 29th)

The plan for Adam Gase just isn’t working out. This team hasn’t shown up the past few weeks as they’ve shuffled the lineup several times over. A home game against the high-flying Steelers gives them almost no chance at win number 2. (AD)

31. San Francisco 49ers 1-4 (Last Week: 31st)

The 49ers are a hard team to watch. If Blaine Gabbert would have connected on a few of the early throws in the Cards game we could be singing a whole different song. But he didn’t, because he stinks. We will either see Kap or Ponder on Sunday against the Bills. We shall see if a new Captain can right the ship…Probably not because they have a depleted defense as well. (DH)

32. Cleveland Browns 0-5 (Last Week: 32nd)

Dicks out for Cleveland being the last team in the NFL without a W on their resume. Granted, the Browns were the whipping post for Tom Brady’s first game back from suspension. Personally I’m not sure where Cleveland starts in terms of improvement but certainly the QB is near the top of the list. Coach Hue Jackson is down to their 5 th QB and it’s only Week 5. Here’s to hoping they can at least be competitive with the Titans in Week 6.

 

Photo Credit: http://www.chatsports.com/minnesota-vikings/a/here-are-3-reasons-why-minnesota-vikings-will-win-super-bowl-next-season-28761

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Players Who Sucked This Week

Football

Rutgers. I can’t even describe how terrible this team was this week, so I’ll let the stats do the talking. Here’s the “offense”: 5 passing yards on 2 completions, 34 rushing yards on 36 carries, 2 first downs and 0 points, all in 26:44 of possession. For the “defense”: 600 yards allowed and 78 points given up. If there’s been a more embarrassing performance from a team in recent years, I’d like someone to leave a comment saying so. And don’t forget they got shut out at home by Ohio State the previous week. This team does not deserve to be in the Big 10.

I could cut Oregon’s defense some slack being that they’re always on the field because the fast-paced offense can’t do its job, but that excuse won’t work this week (TOP: UW 32:22 vs OU 27:38). They allowed 304 yards through the air and 378 on the ground, leading to 70 points on the board in front of their home crowd. They are allowing more yards and points with each successive week, can they turn it around? Doubtful.

Jerick McKinnon managed just 36 yards on 20 carries against a poor Texans run defense. 

 

Baseball

Ubaldo Jimenez and Jeurys Familia both blew his respective game, dramatically ending his team’s playoff run. Jimenez was worse by not even getting one out.

Cole Hamels had the worst start of the 2016 postseason thus far, giving up 6 earned runs in 3 ⅓ innings, while striking out just one batter and walking three. David Price continues to struggle pitching in the postseason, allowing 5 runs in 3 ⅓ innings last Friday night.

Danny Espinosa (0-7 with 6 K’s) and Anthony Rizzo (0-13) have yet to get a hit this postseason. Jackie Bradley Jr got a hit, but finished the 2016 postseason going 1-10 with seven strikeouts.

(MLB stats week of 10/4-10)

 

Players Who Sucked Again

Nobody! Well Cole Hamels did suck again, but I save this section for players who didn’t do their job in consecutive weeks. Lucky him.

 

Dishonorable Mentions

Jeremy Lin missed a wide open layup. Remember when this guy was supposed to be the next big thing?

Dominique Heath of the Kansas State Wildcats celebrated his teammate’s punt return TD with a punch to the gut.

Madea talking to Dominique Heath.

The Thursday and Monday night football games were pretty tough to watch this week, and Roberto Aguayo of the Bucs almost made the list if not for that redeeming game-winning field goal.

 

Got anyone to add? Write ‘em in that comment box.

 

Photo credits:
https://cdn.meme.am/instances/64557987.jpg
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/f7/a6/12/f7a6125b84d33df3f6eb683edef239b3.jpg

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Carson Wentz: The Next Elite NFL QB

Carson Wentz has had a start to his NFL career that has been equally puzzling, impressive and unprecedented. Think about his backstory leading up until his NFL debut on September 11th against the Cleveland Browns. Wentz started played one full year as a high school quarterback, threw only 612 passes in his entire career with North Dakota State at the FCS level, and one preseason NFL game.

An injury in that first game shut him down and kept him out for the remainder of the preseason, when it seemed like it would be his only opportunity for game action in his rookie year. At this time, Carson Wentz was third on the Eagles’ depth chart. As we now know, the non-contact injury to Teddy Bridgewater led to Sam Bradford being dealt to Minnesota and Wentz being bumped up to the starting role.  

Despite the lower competition Wentz faced in FCS, there were reasons to be optimistic about Wentz’s potential in the NFL. He displayed tremendous pocket mobility and athleticism that led to comparisons to Cam Newton and Andrew Luck. In addition and just as important, he called plays at the line, which is has become a lost art in college football. Sadly, college QBs are less prepared for the NFL these days with the abundance of “dumbed down” offenses where the signal callers never call audibles and or even enter a huddle. For these players, the concept of reading defenses merely involves looking over to the sideline to read ambiguous, giant cards. That was not the case for Carson Wentz.

Above the accuracy, poise, arm strength and athleticism Wentz displayed in Week 1 against the Browns, what stood out the most to me was his pre-snap activity at the line. Carson Wentz was making adjustments reminiscent of Peyton Manning. It was a sharp contrast to the previous three years of the Chip Kelly offense that never allowed for the quarterback to change the play at the line. It seems unthinkable that a rookie quarterback from an FCS school who appeared in one preseason game would call more audibles in one quarter than any Eagles quarterback would call in the entire three-year period under Chip Kelly from 2013 to 2015. This was the first indication that the first glimpse of Carson Wentz was quite possibly the beginning of something very special.

We heard all about Carson Wentz’s superior intellect, a former 4.0 college student who reportedly possesses a photographic memory. If true, a photographic memory should not be overlooked, considering the value of this skill for being an effective NFL quarterback. His ability to recall plays got the attention of NFL Network Analyst, Mike Mayock at the NFL Combine last February.

Mayock revealed in a recent radio interview on 94 WIP, a Philadelphia Sports Radio Station, that at the combine he discussed a specific play with Wentz from his senior season at North Dakota State. Mayock questioned Wentz about a specific play from a game in Wentz’s final college season against Eastern Illinois regarding an audible he called. Wentz, in a polite and respectful manner, corrected that it actually was North Dakota who he was facing for that specific play. That was a very early sign of Wentz’s recall and memory – a trait that can typically help physically gifted quarterbacks separate themselves into elite status.

The recently retired Peyton Manning revolutionized the quarterback position, primarily due to his preparation, ability to read defenses and ultimately serve as as his team’s unofficial offensive coordinator. Manning was in a league of his own when entering his prime in the early 2000s. Others followed suit, such as Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger. The ability to read defenses is typically the skill that rookie QBs are lacking and need to address in preparation for the NFL.

This is the main reason Jared Goff, the #1 overall pick who played in an air raid offense at the University of California, opened the season as the #3 QB on the St. Louis Rams depth chart. Goff has been elevated to the backup behind Case Keenum, who should hold on to the job as long as the Rams keep winning.

The takeaway is that Goff, despite playing in the Pac 12, a Power-5 FBS Conference and throwing for 96 touchdowns in 37 college games, was not as well-prepared for the NFL as Carson Wentz. If Wentz has the career that we think he will have after his remarkable start, he could potentially change the way NFL scouts evaluate college quarterbacks.

Before you scoff at the idea of Carson Wentz reaching the levels of elite NFL QBs like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger, please consider and compare the start of  his career to these aforementioned players. Just take Manning, who threw for 28 interceptions in his rookie year. Rookie QB’s are expected to struggle, make mistakes and eventually make adjustments as they adjust to the speed and complexity of the NFL.

But Carson Wentz, as a surprise to everyone, has not made a single mistake. In his early NFL career and through three games, he has thrown 102 passes. Out of those 102, not only has he not thrown an interception, but he has not even come close to throwing one. His decision-making and presence is reminiscent of a seasoned veteran.   

If you only looked at the numbers, it would be easy to argue he will hit the proverbial rookie wall. Will he face struggles and have bad games? Absolutely. Even the best players have bad days. But Wentz is not a gimmick like RG3 or Tim Tebow, who experienced success early in their careers due to their unique playing style. What Wentz has shown through three games is very real, as he is doing things from both a mental and physical standpoint that represent elite NFL QBs.

Wentz’s best play to date came against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3. On 3rd and 8, Wentz avoided the rush, bounced to the outside and found Darren Sproles, who went on to run for a 73-yard touchdown. Darren Sproles deserves plenty of credit for elusively running for about 50 yards to score. However, its the accuracy of the pass that makes the touchdown possible. After Carson Wentz got away from the Pittsburgh pass rush, he puts the ball right on the money, leading Sproles so he can catch it in stride and run for six.

The play can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0VWvjs56E8

In addition to the mental and physical gifts, Carson Wentz has quickly impressed teammates with his commitment, preparation and focus. He already has the reputation of being the first guy in the building each morning, as he is already known for arriving at the NovaCare Complex (Philadelphia Eagles Headquarters), before 6 AM each morning to watch and study film. In today’s world of constant distraction, especially for young men in their twenties who become millionaires overnight, Carson Wentz has shown all signs of being laser-focused on football.

The football focus has Eagles’ fans pleased and encouraged. His long-term girlfriend and fiancee, Melissa Uhrich revealed in a recent story that she once caught Carson watching game tape while on a date. If that isn’t taking the idea of “concentrating on football” seriously, I don’t know what is. Wentz is wired much differently than the typical rookie quarterback. Its mentality and approach echoed by several former quarterbacks who are now in the NFL Hall of Fame.

The season is still very young. It is inevitable that Carson Wentz will make his share of mistakes and will eventually throw his first career interception. But by looking at the start to his career, it’s easy to project that he will only get better and has the chance to become the next great NFL quarterback. Few QB’s have looked this good from a mental and physical standpoint as Wentz has in his first few games. The exciting thing is that he will only get better.
Photo Credits: http://articles.philly.com/2016-08-15/news/74996775_1_sam-bradford-howie-roseman-eagles-roster

http://gbredzone.com/tag/rams/

http://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/2016-nfl-draft-carson-wentz-next-great-quarterback-north-dakota-state-podcast-021816

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Week 5 NFL Power Rankings

1. Denver Broncos 4-0 (Last Week: 2nd)

The Denver defense continues its domination after going into Tampa Bay and shutting down the Bucs offense. Despite the injury to Trevor Siemian, the offense was able to do enough to come away with a 27-7 win. After two straight games on the road, the Broncos welcome the NFL’s top offense in the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday afternoon in what should be the toughest test for the defense up to this point. (CG)

2. Minnesota Vikings 4-0 (Last Week: 3rd)

Speaking of elite defenses, the Vikings have the best in the NFC. Despite the loss of Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson, Sam Bradford and the rest of the offense are doing enough to not rely too heavily on the defense. Bradford appears to be in the best situation of his career and he should only get better as the year moves on and he gets more acclimated to the new Minnesota offense. (CG)

3. New England Patriots 3-1 (Last Week: 1st)

Brady is back and I would think he is ready to dominate. Last week’s loss against Buffalo was a surprise to some, especially since it was the first time they had ever been shut out at Gillette Stadium. Brady should have no problem rolling over the Browns. (AD)

4. Pittsburgh Steelers 3-1 (Last Week: 8th)

The return of Le’Veon Bell was impressive to say the least (18-144). This weekend was just a taste of the offensive fire power the Steelers possess when the stars align for Bell, Ben Rothlisberger and Antonio Brown as they rolled the Chiefs 43-14. Pittsburgh looks to keep the fireworks going with against the Jets. (JA)

5. Green Bay Packers 2-1 (Last Week: 4th)

The Packers are coming off an early bye and are hoping to resume the status of legit Super Bowl contenders. They welcome the Giants on Sunday Night Football, who will be playing in their second straight primetime road game. Green Bay is in prime position to improve to 3-1 in order to keep pace with their division foes, the Vikings. (CG)

6. Seattle Seahawks 3-1 (Last Week: 7th)

Russell Wilson is an X-Men. He defies physics and can bounce back from any hit. The Seahawks asserted their dominance over the Jets on Sunday and looked like a well-oiled machine. The only question surrounding Seattle is their Offensive Line and when you have a magician under center it seems like less of an issue. The bye comes at a perfect time allowing Seattle to heal. Pete Carroll said this year’s team has “a chance to be the best team he has coached in Seattle.” Not sure about that, but Seattle will be hard to beat moving forward. (DH)

7. Philadelphia Eagles 3-0 (Last Week: 5th)

The Eagles are the other team that had the early bye, one that came when they possibly had more momentum than any other team in the NFL. Many people consider Doug Pederson to be a protoge of Andy Reid. Reid had an immaculate record following the bye as a Head Coach, so it will be interesting to see if Pederson learned something while serving as his assistant. The Eagles will have plenty to play for this Sunday in Detroit, as they look to avenge their embarrassing loss last Thanksgiving. (CG)

8. Atlanta Falcons 3-1 (Last Week: 17th)

Atlanta sits atop the NFC South after torching Carolina through the air. Matt Ryan & Julio Jones had a performance for the ages, currently silencing any doubters and all Panthers fans. The Falcons have scored 152 points through 4 weeks (best in the NFL), but have given up 124 (28th) so the offense is going to have to carry them to the playoffs. They travel to Denver next week, their biggest challenge to date. Players to Watch: The whole defense – it wins championships and theirs is barely keeping pace with the offense. If Denver’s defense stuffs Matty Ice and the gang, how will the defense respond? (CH)

9. Houston Texans 3-1 (Last Week: 11th)

Brock “Glock” Osweiler aired it out vs the Titans but not without 2 INTs. Besides QB play, the real hero this weekend was rookie Will Fuller, leading the team in receptions and returning a punt for a TD. Dangerous trip up north into Vikings country looms next. (JA)

10. Oakland Raiders 3-1 (Last Week: 16th)

It’s hard not to be impressed with the Raiders’ start to the season. Not only have won three games, but all three wins have come on the road. Their lone loss to the Falcons doesn’t look too bad, considering their strong start. Derek Carr is playing phenomenal, and if he keeps it up the Raiders could find themselves back in the postseason for the first time since 2002. (CG)

11. Cincinnati Bengals 2-2 (Last Week: 12th)

The Red Rifle and AJ Green were on a warpath Thursday night combining for 173 yds and gashing Miami’s defense. The return of Vontaze Burfict helped further stifle Miami’s horrible offense. Good thing the Bengals were able to beat up on the Dolphins before heading into 2 tough road games in the coming weeks. (JA)

12. Dallas Cowboys 3-1 (Last Week: 15th)

The Cowboys were dealt a tough blow to their offensive line, losing La’el Collins for the season. Fortunately, it is still an elite unit. Dak Prescott, while playing it very safe, is yet to throw an interception. The Cowboys ability to control the ball is keeping their vulnerable defense off the field and is the main reason they sit at 3-1. This Sunday’s game against the Bengals is the toughest of the season, and it should tell us how for real Dallas is. (CG)

13. Baltimore Ravens 3-1 (Last Week: 10th)

The Ravens took their first L of the season in the final 2 minutes at home against the Raiders. If the offense could’ve gotten going earlier in the game instead of relying on Justin Tucker hitting 4 FGs, there’s a good chance Baltimore would remain among the unbeatens. Looking forward to seeing if the Ravens are for real playing the Redskins at home in Week 5. (JA)

14. Arizona Cardinals 1-3 (Last Week: 9th)

The hand is hovering over the panic button in The Valley. The Cards are in must-win territory as they head to San Francisco to face the Niners on Thursday. Every aspect of Arizona’s team has under-performed; Carson Palmer missing throws, the offensive line not giving Palmer time to throw, Michael Floyd self-imploding on a contract year, Deone Buchannon and Kevin Minter forgetting how to tackle, Honey Badger and Pat P miscommunication, David Johnson with a costly fumble and the Special Teams has been deplorable. This team needs to get on a winning streak or they are at risk of missing the playoffs. A defeat against the Niners would be a nail in the coffin. (DH)

15. New York Giants 2-2 (Last Week: 13th)

After starting 2-0, the Giants have fallen back to earth and are flirting with mediocrity. Odell Beckham Jr. continues to be a distraction and it is becoming enough of a question as to if it could derail the quest for an NFC East crown. Things do not get much easier for New York, as they now have to travel to Lambeau Field for their second straight road game to face the Packers coming off a bye. (CG)

16. Los Angeles Rams 3-1 (Last Week: 22nd)

Should we be taking the Rams serious sitting atop the Division with wins against Seattle and Arizona? No. It’s still the same Jeff Fisher, don’t be fooled. He would go 9-7 with the 85 Bears. Aaron Donald has proven he belongs in the debate of Best Defensive Player. With Donald causing a frenzy up front and the secondary playing well their defense is hard to beat but their offense is lacking ammunition. Gurley is struggling against the 8-9 man boxes he typically faces and if the Rams do not find an aerial attack their success will come to a halt. (DH)

17. Kansas City Chiefs 2-2 (Last Week: 14th)

It is not completely fair to discredit the Chiefs for the buzzsaw they ran into last Sunday Night Football, facing the Steelers coming off their worst loss since 1989. The defense is still very good, but the questions on the offensive line and limitations of Alex Smith could make a quest for the postseason an uphill battle. Kansas City draws a Week 5 bye before traveling to Oakland to face their division rivals. (CG)

18. Carolina Panthers 1-3 (Last Week: 6th)

Carolina and its fans might start panicking – Cam is in the concussion protocol after lolli-gagging into the endzone for 2 points, the secondary was exposed, and they’re off to a 1-3 start. But this is a team who’s coming off a Super Bowl appearance, and Ron Rivera will light a fire under their rears. The next few weeks will show what the team is made of, and if they have playoff chances. Player to Watch: If Cam misses the next game, all eyes will be on Derek Anderson to lead Carolina against a weak Bucs team on Monday Night Football. (CH)

19. Buffalo Bills 2-2 (Last Week: 25th)

Credit the Bills who looked like a mess two weeks ago. Surprising wins against Arizona and New England have them at 2-2. The Greg Roman firing seems to have ignited this team, whose defense may finally be waking up. (AD)

20. New York Jets 1-3 (Last Week: 18th)

At 1-3 the Jets are in a serious hole. Things don’t get much better with Pittsburgh upcoming, a team the Jets haven’t defeated since 2010. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a short leash on Ryan Fitzpatrick. (AD)

21. Washington Redskins 2-2 (Last Week: 24th)

The Redskins have their offensive weapons to thank for helping them dig out of an 0-2 hole. It is still concerning that they struggled as much as they did to beat the Browns this past Sunday. Their defense remains a liability and could keep the pressure on the offense, which doesn’t make things easier for a very inconsistent Kirk Cousins. (CG)

22. Tennessee Titans 1-3 (Last Week: 26th)

Golf clap for Demaro Murray finding the endzone twice behind the below average O-line the Titans possess. Maybe in Week 5 some of that shine will rub off on Marcus Mariota to keep teams from loading the box. Tennessee’s in luck with a good shot at their 2nd W on the road vs the Dolphins on deck. (JA)

23. Jacksonville Jaguars 1-3 (Last Week: 29th)

Blake Bortles had his first game of the season without a turnover. Coincidentally, it also assured the Jaguars first win on the year against the Colts. With a comfortable 16 pt lead heading into the 4th quarter, Gus Bradley’s crew needed a serious case of ‘the drops’ by Indy’s WRs to stave off a herculean comeback attempt in London. Here’s to Gus not getting fired on the Jags bye week. (JA)

24. San Diego Chargers 1-3 (Last Week: 21st)

The Chargers losing in excruciating fashion is becoming a theme. It is sometimes hard to believe they are 1-3. But when they blow leads like they did against a bad Saints team this past Sunday, they surely deserve to be 1-3. It doesn’t get any easier as they face the 3-1 Raiders this coming Sunday in Oakland. (CG)

25. Detroit Lions 1-3 (Last Week: 19th)

Lions remind me a lot of the Chargers – a 1-3 team that should have a better record. Being without their best two players on defense doesn’t make it any easier when the unit is not that stout to start. Matt Stafford and Lions offense could have their hands full this Sunday when their former coach, now Eagles Defensive Coordinator comes back to town to prepare for a very familiar opponent. (CG)

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1-3 (Last Week: 23rd)

After a promising start by beating the Falcons, the Bucs have lost 3 straight. In those 3 losses, the defense has allowed 92 points, which is more than half the league has allowed in their first 4. Winston isn’t helping matters by turning the ball over an average of twice a game, and missing Doug Martin is further hurting the offense. They’ll be on the big Monday night stage next week, where they haven’t been since 2013 when they beat the Dolphins. Players to Watch: If Gerald McCoy’s calf injury keeps him out week 5, Clinton McDonald and Akeem Spence will have to pick up the slack on defense by keeping pressure on Carolina’s starter. (CH)

27. Indianapolis Colts 1-3 (Last Week: 20th)

Eventually the Colts will pull everything together for 4 quarters and not just the final 15 minutes. It was the 2nd week in a row that Andrew Luck in company mounted a furious comeback only to fall short this time against division rival Jacksonville. The Luck-Hilton connection should continue with a matchup against the Bears. (JA)

28. New Orleans Saints 1-3 (Last Week: 27th)

The Saints did what only the Chiefs and Colts have done this year (so far) – coming back to beat the Chargers in the 4th quarter. And who thought John Kuhn would steal 3 touchdowns from Mark Ingram? It was a much needed win for the Saints, who go into the bye week with a 1-3 record. They’ll face a struggling Panthers team in the Superdome week 6. Player to Watch: Nobody, they’ll be on a bye this week. But how many fantasy teams will take John Kuhn off waivers? (CH)

29. Miami Dolphins 1-3 (Last Week: 28th)

This team just doesn’t seem to be gelling at all. Cincinnati picked them apart in all phases. Remember this team had no business even beating the Browns, their lone win. A winnable matchup vs. Tennessee could turn them around, however. (AD)

30. Chicago Bears 1-3 (Last Week: 31st)

It says a lot about Jay Cutler when Brian Hoyer appears to be an upgrade at QB. While it was not pretty, credit is due for the Bears picking up their first win against the Lions. Barring an unexpected resurgence, the Bears will likely be in this position of the power rankings all season. (CG)

31. San Francisco 49ers 1-3 (Last Week: 30th)

San Francisco’s worst nightmare became a reality. Their most important player, Navarro Bowman, is out for the season with an Achilles injury. Kaepernick is still injured and still under-weight. His Vegan diet is not allowing him to gain much-needed weight. Still, an injured malnourished Kap can’t be worse than Blane Gabbert. Considering Bowman’s injury, this team will struggle to get to six wins. (DH)
32. Cleveland Browns 0-4 (Last Week: 32nd)
With momentum on their side and the hopes of the 1 st W of the year, the Browns coughed up the ball in the 4th quarter on a bizarre fumble recovery  that the referees clearly botched . Poor, poor Cleveland, it’s gonna get worse before it gets better with a Tom Brady led-Patriots visit next Sunday. (JA)
Photo Credit: http://bsndenver.com/first-impressions-denver-broncos-2016-17-regular-season-schedule-released/
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Players Who Sucked This Week

FOOTBALL

The Panthers secondary looked like a Big-12 defense on Sunday, letting Matt Ryan and Julio Jones demolish them through the air. Did they think Atlanta would just show mercy?

Can the San Diego Chargers hold a lead? Apparently not, having all 3 losses end in heart-breaking fashion. Mike McCoy needs to figure out a way to keep his team in the game and seal the deal.

Besides Martellus Bennett, the Patriots offense was atrocious against the Bills. It was their first time being shut out at home since 1993. On the bright side, Brady returns next week.

Drew Stanton was thrown into the fire when Carson Palmer went down, and threw 2 picks in only 11 pass attempts. They should look into a new backup via draft or trade, Palmer won’t last too much longer in the league.

 

BASEBALL

Daniel Descalso was a pitcher’s best friend this week, striking out 10 times in 17 at-bats. Howie Kendrick (0-17, 4 K), Nomar Mazara (0-11, 4 K), and Brad Miller (0-12, 5 K) all went hitless to end the regular season.

Doug Fister (1 ⅓ IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 1 BB), Adam Morgan (5 IP, 10 H, 9 ER, 2 BB), Raul Alcantara (2 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 4 HR, 1 BB), Kenta Maeda (2 ⅔ IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 2 BB), and Jake Arrieta (5 IP, 10 H, 7 ER, 2 BB) made piss-poor starts this past week. The last 2 dudes need to pick it up for the playoffs.

Brandon McCarthy (0 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, 1 BB) and Ross Detwiler (2 ⅔ IP, 8 H, 7 ER) didn’t help their team in relief work – especially McCarthy who wasn’t even able to get 1 out.

(MLB stats week of 9/28-10/3, Min 10 ABs)

 

Players Who Sucked Again

Justin Forsett has played so bad, he got benched, then was cut by the Ravens. I’m so happy I got him on my fantasy team…

Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t match last week’s performance, but he is flying the Jets right into the ground.

Dishonorable Mentions

Cam Newton suffered a concussion after lazily walking in for a 2-pt conversion. He must’ve forgot the basic principle of “finish the play”, and paid the price. Now his team might have to go with Derek Anderson next game.

Mike Napoli (1-12, 3 K, 2 GIDP) had a bad week, but the Indians already clinched a playoff berth. He’ll need to not suck starting Thursday.

The Chiefs secondary should send a thank you note to the Panthers, after allowing Big Ben to do them like that.

 

Got anyone to add? Write ’em in that comment box.

 

Photo credits:
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