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Week 13 NFL Power Rankings

1. Dallas Cowboys 10-1 (Last Week: 2nd)

What else is there to say? The Cowboys have now won their tenth straight game following their Thanksgiving Day victory over the rival Redskins 31-26. Dallas now claims the top spot atop the NFL and with each successive win, the dreams of a deep playoff run are starting to sound more like reality. (CG)

2. New England Patriots 9-2 (Last Week: 3rd)

The Patriots continued to show a few weaknesses in a tight one against the Jets. Their defense continues to struggle in the intermediate passing game. Tom Brady seemed to be out of whack in the first three quarters, yet followed that up with an excellent fourth quarter drive to win it. They may not be the best in the league anymore, but still dangerous enough for a deep playoff push. (AD)

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

Could the Raiders be the best team in football?  I can already hear Cowboy and Patriots fans petitioning for that title, but after securing their first winning season in over a decade the Raiders are certainly in consideration.  At 9-2, the Raiders now lead their division with the Bills on deck this week at home. (CJ)

4. Kansas City Chiefs 8-3 (Last Week: 6th)

The Chiefs squeaked out a 30-27 victory over the Broncos this past week.  It may have taken two overtime field goals to secure the victory, but they are now sole owners of 2nd place in the division and in control for a wildcard berth.  They remain one game behind the division leading Raiders as they head to face a hot Falcons team this week in Atlanta. (CJ)

5. Denver Broncos 7-4 (Last Week: 5th)

Tying is like kissing your sister, right?  The Broncos gambled on a 62-yard field goal in overtime (which would’ve been the longest ever in OT) and failed.  This leaves Denver a game back of the Chiefs and would miss the playoffs if they started today.  This week’s matchup with a wiry but underwhelming Jaguars team could be just what this team needs to remain in contention. (CJ)

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

Seattle was stonewalled by Tampa’s defense on Sunday and dropped to 7-3-1. Russel Wilson threw two interceptions and was limited to 151 passing yards. It was an ugly loss for Seattle, but they still have a choke-hold on the division due to lack of competition. Seahawks will look to get back on track when Carolina comes to town Sunday. (DH)

7. Atlanta Falcons 7-4 (Last Week: 9th)

Atlanta is back! Not really, they beat the Cardinals who have underachieved this year. And who predicted Taylor Gabriel being a breakout star? This dude complements Julio well. The Falcons are top-five in total offense, but bottom-ten in defense, which tells us they might not be able to go deep in the playoffs. They will play at home against the Chiefs, who just played in one of the best games of the year. (CH)

8. New York Giants 8-3 (Last Week: 8th)

It’s not always pretty, but the Giants continue to get it done as one of the NFL’s hotter teams. If they weren’t being overshadowed by their division foe Cowboys, more people would be talking about their six-game winning streak. The G-Men have beaten up on on weaker opponents as of late, being that their past five victories came against teams with a combined record of 14-41-2. They have one of the tougher games of the season this coming Sunday, as they travel to Pittsburgh to face the well-rested Steelers. (CG)

9. Pittsburgh Steelers 6-5 (Last Week: 10th)

Turns out the Steelers just needed to play some weaker competition after the four game losing streak and after a win over the Browns last week, they followed it up with solid victory on the road vs the Colts. Pittsburgh simply picked Indianapolis apart through the air with most of the damage being done via the Ben Roethlisberger/Antonio Brown combination which accounted for three TDs. Factor in the 120 yard output from Le’Veon Bell on the ground and it’s easier to see why the Steelers coasted in this victory. A home game vs the Giants is up next. (JA)

10. Washington Redskins 6-4-1- (Last Week: 7th)

The Redskins fought hard, despite coming up short in Dallas on Thanksgiving. Kirk Cousins is keeping up his high level of play, as he leads one of the NFL’s most potent offensive units. Washington is entrenched in the NFC Wild Card race and will be a force to be reckoned with if they can finish strong down the stretch and earn a postseason berth. (CG)

11. Detroit Lions 7-4 (Last Week: 16th)

They keep on winning! How? No one knows but does it matter? 7-4 with a one game lead in the division over the helpless Vikings…could the Lions be playoff bound? (ZW)

12. Minnesota Vikings 6-5 (Last Week: 11th)

The Vikings had the game won then Sammy Sleeves threw it away, literally. A pick in the end caused the Vikings to lose another and let the Lions take the division lead. After a 5-0 start, they have been 1-5. Not good. (ZW)

13. Miami Dolphins 7-4 (Last Week: 14th)

Miami has really taken care of business lately and Adam Gase seems to be a tremendous pickup for a lost franchise. Tannehill still ranks as a sub-par quarterback, but has enough weapons and a healthy offensive line to get by. I believe the Fins will be fighting for a wildcard spot with the contenders in the AFC West. (AD)

14. Houston Texans 6-5 (Last Week: 12th)

The loss against the Chargers was an ugly offensive showing for the Texans who went 4-11 on 3rd down and oh yeah, Sock Osweiler threw three INTs. Combine that with the Lamar Miller fumble and you’ve put yourself in a bad spot for a very winnable game. Though he was far from stellar, it was nice to see Osweiler find a rhythm again with Deandre Hopkins who’s had a very quiet November. Houston seems to only win at home and with two road games to start December, there’s a chance the Titans could jump them in the AFC South. (JA)

15. Baltimore Ravens 6-5 (Last Week: 15th)

With a win over division rival Cincinnati, Baltimore is 4-0 over the rest of the division and sits on top of the AFC North at 4-0. It wasn’t a pretty victory so to speak, but once again the Ravens can always lean on one of the best legs in the league with Justin Tucker. Other than a single touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman, Tucker led the team with 13 of their 19 points. If they can steal a win from the rising Dolphins on Sunday a wildcard playoff spot may be in the works. (JA)

16. Green Bay Packers 5-6 (Last Week: 20th)

Rodgers was Rodgers again and the Packers D looked fantastic against the Eagles. Are the Packers good again or are the Eagles that bad? Probably both. (ZW)

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-5 (Last Week: 27th)

After getting off to a rough start, Tampa Bay has won three in a row and sit a game behind the Falcons in the NFC South. Mike Evans performed very well against Richard Sherman, hauling in two touchdowns in the first quarter. Alterraun Verner played one of his best games following his dad’s passing, intercepting Russell Wilson and swatting away two passes. Their defense looked more like Seattle’s, adding another interception, six sacks, and allowing just three points. The Bucs head out west to improve on their win streak to face the Chargers. (CH)

18. Philadelphia Eagles 5-6 (Last Week: 13th)

The loss on Monday Night Football to the desperate Packers exposed the Eagles’ flaws in every which way. For the second straight week, they faced a mobile QB, a matchup they struggle with given their vulnerability at cornerback. Philadelphia, with their lack of weapons in the passing game, also struggled mightily to move the ball on offense. The Eagles seem to have just enough holes to keep them from reaching the postseason. (CG)

19. Buffalo Bills 6-5 (Last Week: 18th)

They hung on to win against the awful Jaguars after getting embarrassed by them in London last year. With Oakland, Pittsburgh and Miami still left on the schedule, we shall see how good the Bills really are. Sammy Watkins healthy will be key to meaningful games at the end of the year. (AD)

20. Tennessee Titans 6-6 (Last Week: 19th)

The win over the Bears may have not come as easy as expected, we are starting to see Marcus Mariota elevate his game at the pro level. The former Heisman winner has been on a tear lately with 11 TDs & 2 INTs during the month of November even achieving the highest QBR rating for week 12 according to ESPN Stats & Info. A tough matchup vs the Broncos in two weeks will tell if the Titans have truly turned the corner. (JA)

21. Arizona Cardinals 4-6-1 (Last Week: 17th)

This team may be the most disappointing teams in Cardinals history. Arizona went from Super Bowl Contender to Playoff Pretender. Leading up to the season, the WR core was thought to be one of the best in the league, turns out it’s one of the worst. Larry Fitzgerald is 33 years old and the player with the best hands on the team is an RB! Steve Keim will have to work his magic in the off-season if he wants to keep this aging team relevant in the next few years. Washington comes to town on Sunday. (DH)

22. San Diego Chargers 5-6 (Last Week: 21st)

Three touchdowns from quarterback Phillip Rivers was enough for the Chargers to edge a spiraling Texans squad on the road in week 12.  The Bolts offense and defense seem to be clicking more as of late, but at 5-6 it’s just too little too late. (CJ)

23. New Orleans Saints 5-6 (Last Week: 23rd)

New Orleans showed no mercy against their former defensive coordinator, putting up 49 points behind 555 offensive yards. Willie Snead threw a touchdown to Tim Hightower, Brees had another stellar home performance, and Mark Ingram had a game similar to the San Fran blowout. The defense also came up big, although this is the Rams we’re talking about. They host the Lions next week who are coming off a last-second Thanksgiving win. (CH)

24. Cincinnati Bengals 3-7-1 (Last Week: 22nd)

A loss to division rival Baltimore eliminated any chance of the Bengals reaching the playoffs. The loss cannot be placed entirely Andy Dalton or the run game any longer. It’s clear the Bengals woes on offensive rest squarely on the offensive line, giving up three sacks and only allowing the team to reach 64 yards on the ground. Without AJ Green for essentially the past two games, the Bengals have looked to TE Tyler Eifert to become the go-to receiver. The Eagles visit Cincy on Sunday as they hope to reach win number four. (JA)

25. Carolina Panthers 4-7 (Last Week: 24th)

Playoff hopes are all but over for the Panthers, who lost in a shootout against the Raiders. Jonathan Stewart topped 90 rushing yards for the first time since Week 8, adding two scores on the ground. What the Panthers did well was expose the Raiders weak defense, which shows they might not make a playoff run either. They will head back out west to face the Seahawks, who are looking for revenge following a loss in Tampa. (CH)

26. Los Angeles Rams 4-7 (Last Week: 26th)

Jared Goff threw for three touchdowns in Sunday’s loss to the Saints. He gave the offense a spark and if the Rams can get some resemblance of a passing game, they could be dangerous team. Look for the Rams to string a couple of wins together to improve their current 4-7 record. We all know Jeff Fisher’s Rams will finish the year at 7-9. (DH)

27. Indianapolis Colts 5-6 (Last Week: 25th)

On top of a quick turnaround Thursday night game without their franchise QB, the Colts simply didn’t have enough to overcome the Steelers losing 28 -7. Without Andrew Luck we expected Indy to lean on Frank Gore and the run game to take some pressure of backup QB Scott Tolzien, so did Pittsburgh. The Colts were unable to amass 100 yards on the ground and in an effort to be sly, had Tolzien make 36 pass attempts (2 INTs). Hopefully Luck will return for Monday nights’s game vs the Jets. (JA)

28. New York Jets 3-8 (Last Week: 28th)

They played New England very tough and you have to give Ryan Fitzpatrick and Quincy Enunwa credit for that. The defenders are still taking plays off and committing atrocious penalties. Todd Bowles is sticking with Fitz for the rest of the year which shows you how he feels about the other QBs. Expect a high draft pick and several trade rumors this offseason. (AD)

29. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-9 (Last Week: 29th)

Week 12 was another game where Blake Bortles has shouldered all of the offensive production for the Jaguars, leading them in rushing along with his passing numbers. Thankfully though, Bortles didn’t have any turnovers regardless of being sacked twice and looking rather uncomfortable in the pocket most of the day. A team that analysts agreed had a highly productive draft still needs another class or two to hopefully right the ship, but will Gus Bradley be around for 2017? (JA)

30. Chicago Bears 2-9 (Last Week: 30th)

Another close game, another loss. Tanking time? With Jeffrey being suspended and a free agent and Cutler hurt, it’s time to take a look at the young talent for the future. Matt Barkley, surprisingly, had a great game. Hmm… (ZW)

31. San Francisco 49ers 1-10 (Last Week: 31st)

Sundays loss to Miami extended the 49ers losing streak to ten. San Fran has looked more competitive since Kap took over the job and they face a winnable match-up Sunday versus the Bears. The most exciting thing on this team is Colin Kaepernick’s t-shirt selection… (DH)

32. Cleveland Browns 0-12 (Last Week: 32nd)

As expected in a game vs a strong Giants team, the Browns lost again. You’re not shocked. While Josh McCown and Cody Kessler have shown that they can be capable QBs when given a chance, a change in offensive philosophy needs to take place starting at the top. Whether it’s poor drafting or just bad play calling, the offensive line has been absolutely horrible allowing multiple QBs to be injured and RBs zero room to make much of anything happen. If there’s any silver lining for the Browns future, it’s that they have a bye in Week 13. (JA)

Photo Credit: http://thelandryhat.com/2016/10/10/cowboys-dak-prescott-ezekiel-elliott-milestones/

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Players Who Sucked This Week

Football

The Rams defense allowed 555 yards and 49 points on their way to a blowout loss in New Orleans. The Saints sure got their revenge on Gregg Williams.

Phillip Gaines looked foolish Sunday night. He was burned twice by Emmanuel Sanders in back to back plays, then again by Bennie Fowler.

gaines-sanders

Matt Johns only threw the ball 10 times, but completed just 4 of them for 17 yards and 2 interceptions. That about sums up Virginia’s season.

Eddie Printz completed just 4 passes on 13 attempts, with another completion to the defense. Texas State have had serious quarterback issues the last two weeks.

Jake Bentley and Brandon McIlwain combined to complete less than 50% of their passes, 1 turnover, and 74 yards. Not that it mattered, Clemson still blew out South Carolina.

About sums up what Clemson did to South Carolina.

Basically what Clemson did to South Carolina.

Austin Appleby fumbled twice, and led his Gators to a rivalry loss in Tallahassee. They’re gonna need better play from him if they want any hope of losing to Alabama by less than 30.

Quite a few teams couldn’t stop the run this weekend. SMU was no match for Navy – just look at these stats. FAU couldn’t handle Middle Tennessee State either. Wyoming had no answer for New Mexico State. Arizona State was just as bad as all of them. At the other end of the rushing spectrum, Charlotte couldn’t run the ball. Back to the drawing board for these teams.

Arizona State v Arizona

Arizona running away from the Sun Devils.

Hockey

Ben Bishop had a rough week, allowing 9 goals and taking two losses to Eastern conference foes.

bishop

Four goalies played in just one game but had some bad luck: Marc-Andre Fleury isn’t someone you would expect to make this list, but he let up 6 goals in his only appearance. He’s now lost 5 of his last 6 decisions. Semyon Varlamov allowed 5 goals to the Oilers. Kari Lehtonen was Nashville’s best friend. And Carter Hutton blew it against the Capitals.

Stats week of 11/22-28

Basketball

Three notable players made it on this week’s list:
J.R. Smith shot .160 from the field, including .158 from 3-point range (his signature area). Add 8 personal fouls in those 3 games and you can’t not make my list. Manu Ginobili played horribly in 2 games this past week, making 1 shot in 12 attempts and committing 5 fouls. But he did shoot well from the free throw line, so he should’ve called up D Wade on how to draw more fouls. Paul George played in one game, but shot .272, and missed 9 three pointers. I do feel bad because he’s injured and couldn’t redeem himself, but at least he’s making $18 million more than I am.

CJ Watson was the worst shooter who had over 10 attempts, making just 1 out of 11. He also missed all 4 three point attempts. But he does play on the Magic, so it’s fitting.

Andrew Harrison couldn’t seem to find the basket, as he shot .125 from the field. 13 fouls and 6 turnovers add to his awful week.

Allen Crabbe was pretty bad in all 4 games he played, averaging 1 field goal per game. Did you know if you Google-search his image, ‘ears’ come up as a suggestion?

Kent Bazemore had the worst shooting percentage of players over 55 shots (.271), and the next worst was Vince Carter (35 attempts). Maybe this Bazemore fella should shoot a little less and pass a little more. 

We feel the same about you Mr. Smith.

Stats week of 11/22-28

Players Who Sucked Again

Rutgers scored and lost against Maryland, and finished the season 2-10. They still suck. I’ll miss writing about these guys.

Dishonorable Mentions

Andrew Wiggins was last year’s Rookie of the Year, this week he’s my top dishonorable mention. He shot 21-68 from the field, which isn’t bad if you forget about his game last Wednesday, but he fouled out Monday and turned the ball over 9 times in that span.

Mitch Leidner completed about a third of his passes and threw 4 interceptions. However, he accounted for both Minnesota TDs.

Richard Lagow threw 3 picks, ran backwards for 36 yards, but still got the win over Purdue. Good thing Indiana can run the ball.

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

Photo Credits:
http://www.reviewjournal.com/sites/default/files/field/media/web1_ap_16333157393702_7484801.jpg
http://i3.tigernet.com/stories/15/football/gallman_wayne_usc14_700.jpg
http://x.pac-12.com/sites/default/files/459691972%20(1).jpg
http://sportsmockery.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Tampa-Bay.jpeg
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-tqpyMtDMsus/UvfhH95g90I/AAAAAAAACNI/hX6v2u9mRnw/s1600/1.gif

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College Football Playoff Needs to Expand Sooner than Later

For the sake of eliminating subjectivity, the College Football Playoff needs to expand. Since the beginning of College Football, final season results are dependent on opinions and computer models. Are these rankings based on merit? Absolutely. That doesn’t change the fact that each season there is a certain level of debate and controversy regarding the teams who get a chance to win a national championship, or in recent years participate in the four-team playoff.

during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium on January 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.

Introducing a four-team playoff was a great first step in consistently ensuring a championship game of the two best teams in the country. In 2014, the first year of the College Football Playoff, the #4 Seed Ohio State defeated #1 Alabama to face #2 Oregon who defeated #3 Florida State. It was reported that under the former BCS system, the National Championship game would have pitted Alabama against Florida State. As much as college football fans would have loved to watch a battle of the Crimson Tide against the Jameis Winston-led Seminoles, we got the championship game determined by merit.

The unfolding of these events in the inaugural College Football Playoff validated the decision to introduce this system. In 2015, the #1 and #2 seeds (Alabama and Clemson) won their respective semifinal games. The results of the semifinal games left virtually zero debate over who were the nation’s top two teams that should be going head to head in the National Championship Game. One could argue the semifinal games were not necessary because the teams considered to be the better teams won, and in convincing fashion. However, the results eradicated any belief that Michigan State or Oklahoma, the #3 and #4 teams should be in the title game.

Every few years there is some degree of controversy over the team getting left out, who played a tougher schedule, what conference is more competitive and which victories were the most impressive. Sure, it gives fans, writers, analysts and prognosticators something to talk about throughout the season. But it still means that subjective opinions are determining the fate of a few programs each season.

ohio-state-college-football-playoff-1Under the current system of five “Power 5” conferences and four playoff spots, it is a guarantee that one of these conference champions will not have a spot in the playoff. In 2014, the Big 12 was left out in the cold as Baylor and TCU finished 5th and 6th respectively with 11-1 records. The popular explanation is that the Big 12 hurts itself by being the only P5 conference not to play a conference championship game. As valid as that may be, both schools were punished despite stellar seasons and neither had the opportunity to participate in the playoff.

There is not much use in reopening a debate from two years ago about who did and did not deserve to be in the Playoff. But, those events along with how this season is unfolding gives credence to the idea that the College Football Playoff needs to expand to eight teams and also follow a more objective process.

To start, every Power 5 Champion should have a seat at the table. No questions asked. That condition immediately requires for the playoff field to expand. Secondly, there are a always a few fringe teams that do not win their conference. This season is a perfect example. Look at the Big 10 East Division. Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State are all playoff-worthy teams, especially if there are eight total spots. Staying in the Big 10, but looking in the West Division at Wisconsin and where they currently sit, would certainly be part of the conversation as well.

Now let’s consider the Group of 5, or more bluntly the “lesser half” of college football. We all know that the Group of 5 encompasses the programs with less history, resources and talent than those schools in the Power 5. Naturally, a Group of 5 team qualifying for the current College Football Playoff is nearly impossible. Houston could have made it with impressive wins against Oklahoma and Louisville, but there chances were squandered by three conference losses.

19118758-mmmainConsider Western Michigan, who will head into the MAC Championship Game with a perfect 12-0 record. Due to their underwhelming schedule, they will not sniff the Top 4. Even if the playoff expanded to a Top 8 and simply granted access to teams ranked 1-8, Western Michigan would still be on the outside looking in when the Playoff Committee releases its final rankings in December. One argument could be that Western Michigan shouldn’t deserve a spot, especially if they are not considered one of the eight best teams in the country by the committee. However, the other side could contend with “What did Western Michigan do wrong, aside from not playing a competitive enough of a schedule?”

While universities have some control over their out-of-conference schedule, when looking at an individual season, that specific team and group of players should not be punished for their school not being able to schedule more competitive opponents. A team should not be punished when they do everything they can, defeating every team on their schedule.

When Group of 5 teams have virtually perfect seasons, we never find out exactly how good those teams are. Do we get to see them against a great Power 5 team in a major bowl game? Yes. Sometimes they prevail, sometimes they flounder. But now that college football has graduated to a playoff system, teams like Western Michigan are still left out of the dance without ever finding out how that team stacks up against the other playoff participants. This needs to change.

The best Group of 5 team needs to be guaranteed a spot in the College Football Playoff. It would eliminate the mystery and ultimately give hope to each and every team at the beginning of the season, much like college basketball when every team theoretically has a shot. At the very least, even if we saw Western Michigan get blown out by Alabama, there would be a resolution to the season and a clear understanding of how the top G5 team stacked up against the best team in the country.

chi-college-football-playoff-selection-committ-001To recap, the proposed structure would call for an eight-team playoff granting spots to the following:

(5) Power 5 Conference Champions

(2) At-Large Teams, or the two highest ranked teams not to win their conference

(1) The highest ranked Group of 5 team

This creates an eight-team bracket where the rankings would still have a purpose for seeding the teams. Let’s take a look at how it would look this season and assume the presumed favorites win next weekend. The field would look something like this:

#1 Alabama (SEC Champ)

#2 Ohio State (At-Large)

#3 Clemson (ACC Champ)

#4 Washington (Pac 12 Champ)

#5 Michigan (At-Large)

#6 Wisconsin (Big 10 Champ)

#7 Oklahoma (Big 12 Champ)

#8 Western Michigan (Top ranked Group of 5 Team)

A bracket would then be created in a #1 vs #8, #2 vs #7, #3 vs #6 and #4 vs #5 structure. In order to keep the major bowls with their sponsors in tact, the extra games created by expanding the playoff from four to eight would occupy the appropriate bowl games and locations on a rotating basis.

An eight-team playoff bracket would mean seven games. The current “New Year’s Six” would occupy the first two rounds, with the National Championship Game being played at the end with the two teams left standing.

Taking these steps would drastically improve the College Football Playoff and the sport as a whole. Expanding to eight teams is the next, necessary move. Ideally, we will have a sixteen-team playoff someday soon. But eight needs to happen first. If we ever get to sixteen, the tremendous College Basketball model needs to be replicated.

An ideal sixteen-team playoff would include all ten conference champions and six at-large schools. This would truly give every single team hope. A system like this would do wonders for the sport, especially with the chance to narrow the gap between the Group of 5 and the Power 5. But, one step at a time. Hopefully we get to talk about who makes the “Elite 8” in the near future.

Photo Credits:

http://pac-12.com/videos/highlights-oregon-falls-ohio-state-2015-college-football-playoff-national-championship

http://blog.gtbets.eu/tag/tcu-out-college-football-playoff/

http://www.mlive.com/broncos/index.ssf/2015/11/western_michigan_football_alon.html

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-10-16/sports/chi-college-football-playoff-selection-committee-20131016_1_college-football-playoff-bill-hancock-committee

http://www.forbes.com/forbes/welcome/?toURL=http://www.forbes.com/sites/blakewilliams3012/2016/08/30/which-power-5-conference-will-miss-the-college-football-playoff-this-season/&refURL=https://www.google.com/&referrer=https://www.google.com/

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Week 12 NFL Power Rankings

1. Seattle Seahawks 7-2-1 (Last Week: 1st)

Momentum is gathering for Seattle as we head into the final stretch of the season. Russel Wilson is mobile, Thomas Rawls is back and running as violently as ever and the defense looks complete with the return of Kam Chancellor. The Seahawks look like the most complete team in the NFC and should take care of business Sunday as they face a weak secondary in Tampa Bay. (DH)

2. Dallas Cowboys 9-1 (Last Week: 2nd)

The Cowboys set a franchise record by winning their ninth consecutive game this past Sunday. The Ravens kept the Dallas offense in check for much of the game before the Cowboys pulled away and won 27-17. The run-heavy ball control offense continues to be a recipe for success. The upcoming Thanksgiving game against the rival Redskins could be one with a lot of offensive fireworks. Dallas enters the contest as a touchdown-favorite. (CG)

3. New England Patriots 8-2 (Last Week: 3rd)

The Patriots avenged their Sunday Night Football loss to Seattle by taking care of business in San Francisco against the hapless 49ers. The Niners remained competitive through the first half before New England pulled away en route to a 30-17 victory. New England now travels to East Rutherford, NJ to face the underachieving Jets with a good chance to improve to 9-2. (CG)

4. Oakland Raiders 8-2 (Last Week: 4th)

Good teams find a way to win, and that is (surprisingly) exactly what the Raiders have been doing this season including this week’s fourth quarter comeback against the Texans. The thing that is most impressive is that the Raiders completely overhauling their approach each week based on their opponents.  Against the Broncos, they went ground and pound against one of the league’s best secondaries. This week against a stout Texans run defense they got their backs involved in the passing game to the tune of 199 yards.  Raider Nation is back and 8-2. (CJ)

5. Denver Broncos 7-3 (Last Week: 5th)

The Broncos will continue to lean on their defense this week against a banged up Chiefs squad.  We will see if their underwhelming offense can put together enough to keep them in this vital divisional game.  (CJ)

6. Kansas City Chiefs 7-3 (Last Week: 6th)

The Chiefs are still banged up, including number one wide out Jeremy Maclin, going against one of the best defenses in the league this week.  The importance of this  matchup with the Broncos cannot be understated for the Chiefs.  Both teams are 7-3 and still in the race for both the division and a wild card spot behind the 8-2 Raiders. (CJ)

7. Washington Redskins 6-3-1 (Last Week: 9th)

The Redskins are coming off a dominating performance against the Packers this past Sunday Night. The offense is really starting to click and Kirk Cousins is playing very well. Cousins has thrown for more more yards through ten games than any other NFC QB has in NFL history. That is quite the feat when considering how many great quarterbacks have played in this division. Washington gets a tough test when they travel to Dallas on Thanksgiving with the goal of avenging their loss back in Week 2. (CG)

8. New York Giants 7-3 (Last Week: 10th)

Even if it is not pretty, the Giants continue to get it done. New York has reached the 7-3 mark following a 22-16 win against the Bears. The defense continues to play very well, making it difficult for opponents to have big offensive performances. The Giants will now travel to Cleveland to face the winless Browns with a great opportunity to go to 8-3.

9. Atlanta Falcons 6-4 (Last Week: 7th)

Atlanta is coming off a bye and needs to pick it back up if they want to win the NFC South. They will host a wishy-washy Cardinals team on Sunday, but their defense needs to step it up. Players to Watch: Arizona will likely play stout defense, so Atlanta will need to make sure their D takes the field if they wanna win. (CH)

10. Pittsburgh Steelers 5-5 (Last Week: 8th)

After a rough four weeks of consecutive losses a visit to Cleveland was just what the doctor ordered. The 15 point over the Browns was a throwback to Steelers teams of the past; stout defense with a heavy dose of the run game, led by Le’Veon Bell who finished with 146 yards. Pittsburgh will look to start a win streak on a short week before a Thanksgiving night road game vs the Andrew Luck-less Colts. (JA)

11. Minnesota Vikings 6-4 (Last Week: 12th)

After losing 4 in a row, the Vikings got back to their winning ways with mistake free football. No game is bigger for this team than winning on Thanksgiving against the rival Lions for first place in the NFC North. Are the Vikings a good team or a bad team? We’ll find out this week. (ZW)

12. Houston Texans 6-4 (Last Week: 13th)

With last week’s game plan of keeping Brock Osweiler from throwing the ball as often turning out to be a success, you’d imagine the coaching staff would continue the trend on a international Monday night game vs the Raiders? Wrong. The Texans coaching brass allowed Senor Sock to huck the ball almost 40 times even though their run game was finding success against the Raiders. Laser pointing aside, many of the Houston fan base will agree that their franchise may have made an error paying this QB so much money. Regardless, they still lead the AFC South and have a home game vs the Charges on Sunday afternoon. (JA)

13. Philadelphia Eagles 5-5 (Last Week: 11th)

The Eagles are coming off a tough loss after being dominated in Seattle. It served as a good barometer due to the inflated expectations after a handful of impressive wins earlier in the season, proving the Eagles are not quite ready to contend. The lack of weapons in the passing was glaring, which didn’t make things any easier for rookie QB, Carson Wentz. The performance of the defensive line was disappointing, considering it seemed like this matchup against the Seattle offensive line was where the Eagles had an advantage. (CG)

14. Miami Dolphins 6-4 (Last Week: 20th) 

Until late in the game, it looked like the Dolphins win streak would finally come to an end. But Miami managed to comeback when it mattered most, despite struggling to move the ball most of the day. In each successive week, the hiring of Adam Gase is looking like an ever better move of the Miami front office. Now they welcome the 1-9 49ers with a good chance to go to 7-4 and keep pace in the AFC playoff race. (CG)

15. Baltimore Ravens 5-5 (Last Week: 15th)

After coming off a one point victory over the worst team in the league, the Ravens had to turn around and play the best team on the road. Failing to dominate the Browns last week can’t do much for your confidence and it showed in the loss to the Cowboys. The Baltimore defense couldn’t force 3-and-outs when needed in hopes of keeping the ball away from the rookie tandem in Dallas. While the loss is far from a season ender, it does keep the Ravens from owning the top spot in the AFC North. A tough matchup with division rival Cincinnati is on the horizon. (JA)

16. Detroit Lions 6-4 (Last Week: 18th)

Seventeen carries for 19 yards. No offensive touchdowns. Sounds like a losing team to me…except the Lions are winners yet again! Two touchdowns by special teams and their D has the Lions sitting atop the NFC North. Big Thanksgiving day game against the 6-4 Vikings. Winner will have first place in the division all to themselves.  (ZW)

17. Arizona Cardinals 4-5-1 (Last Week: 14th)

What a disappointing season it has been for the Big Red. Other than the Defensive Line, every aspect of the team has been underwhelming. The Cardinals would have to win 5 out of the 6 remaining games to have a chance at making the playoffs. Discussion has changed from playoff chances to who will be leading this team in 2017. Arizona takes on Atlanta this Sunday. (DH)

18. Buffalo Bills 5-5 (Last Week: 16th)

The Bills got back to .500 following a 22-16 victory in Cincinnati. Despite the injury to Lesean McCoy, Buffalo has to feel good about Sammy Watkins potentially returning to the field soon. That should certainly make Tyrod Taylor happy, who despite playing well has not yet thrown for 300 yards in any game this season. (CG)

19. Tennessee Titans 5-6 (Last Week: 17th)

Just when you think the Titans might be legit, they end up letting one slip away vs divisional nemesis Colts. With two outstanding performances by Marcus Mariota in previous weeks, the 2nd year QB cooled off just a tad but still threw 2 TDs without any turnovers. Unable to avenge a loss the Colts this week, look for the Titans to take out their frustrations on the lowly Bears in Chicago on Sunday. (JA)

20. Green Bay Packers 4-6 (Last Week: 19th)

Aaron Rodgers threw for 351 passing yards and 3 TDs and yet the Packers lost by 18 points. The Redskins are decent but c’mon. This Packers defense needs to figure something out fast or Rodgers will be out of the playoffs for the first time since he acquired the starting job in 2008. (ZW)

21. San Diego Chargers 4-6 (Last Week: 22nd)

The red-headed stepchild of the AFC West this year looks to bounce back against Houston after their bye.  Expect off-season discussions to continue to swirl around the Bolts if they continue to under-perform.  (CJ)

22. Cincinnati Bengals 3-6-1 (Last Week: 21st)

In a game that Cincinnati needed to get back on track, they failed to secure a home win over the visiting Buffalo Bills. After losing AJ Green on the opening series, Andy Dalton had trouble connecting with his other WRs and ended up throwing two INTS to Bills CB Stephen Gillmore.  This is the second week in a row where the Bengals were unable to find much success in the run game. To have any outside chance at a wild card spot, a run game is going to be mandatory especially with three divisional games in the next four weeks. (JA)

23. New Orleans 4-6 (Last Week: 23rd)

The Saints lost a close one to the Panthers on the road, thanks to two turnovers by Brees. But they should have some more confidence in their defense for stuffing the run, sacking Cam twice, and allowing only 223 yards. They return home to face the Rams then Lions, both of which look winnable. Players to Watch: The Rams have one of the best defenses, so New Orleans will have to match them and keep it low scoring. (CH)

24. Carolina Panthers 4-6 (Last Week: 25th)

Carolina has won three of their last four, but still sit at the bottom of the NFC South. Their defense is playing much better, allowing 17.5 PPG in that span. They will make a tough west coast road trip, facing the Raiders and the Seahawks. Player to Watch: Jonathan Stewart hasn’t been too great the last 3 games, but should perform better against the 26th-ranked Oakland run defense. (CH)

25. Indianapolis Colts 5-5 (Last Week: 27th)

Coming off a bye week, the Colts pulled off a season sweep vs their division rival Titans. This was a much needed win to keep Indy’s playoff hopes alive and keep them from falling below .500 on the year. The victory didn’t come without any casualties though, with Andrew Luck being placed under the concussion protocol after the game. Look for the Colts to lean on veteran RB Frank Gore with Luck being out and a quick turnaround vs the Steelers on Thursday. (JA)

26. Los Angeles Rams 4-6 (Last Week: 24th) 

It is a sweet feeling to see victory get snatched from Jeff Fisher and that is exactly what Miami did on Sunday. Miami scored a go ahead touchdown with 36 seconds remaining in the game. Jared Goff was not asked to do much in his debut and managed no turnovers. The Rams defensive is really good but you can’t win games if you can’t move the ball. LA takes on New Orleans on Sunday. (DH)

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

The Bucs ended the Chiefs ten-game home winning streak this past week, getting closer to the top spot in the NFC South. Jameis continues to do well despite not having Vincent Jackson with Humphries and Shepherd filling in well. They face the Seahawks Sunday afternoon, arguably the best team in the league. Player to Watch: If and when Mike Evans is shut down by Richard Sherman, look for Adam Humphries to make big plays. (CH)

28. New York Jets 3-7 (Last Week: 28th)

The Jets are coming off a bye and curiously have decided to go back to Ryan Fitzpatrick this Sunday against the Patriots. With the postseason all but out of reach, one would think New York would try to see what they have in their young QBs on the roster. It’s a tough decision to explain, unless the Jets think they are still capable of going on a run, something even the most optimistic Jets wouldn’t bet on happening. (CG)

29. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-8 (Last Week: 29th)

With a three point lead heading into the final 15 minutes of action, it looked like the Jaguars were going to pull off a road upset over the Lions. Not surprisingly though, the Lions came back to squeak out a victory. That’s now two weeks in a row where the Jags have outgained their opponent in total yards and TOP only to come up short. A road game against the Bills will wrap up November for the Jaguars. (JA)

30. Chicago Bears 2-8 (Last Week: 30th)

The bad news is Jay Cutler is out for the season and Alshon Jeffrey is still suspended. The good news is the Bears can finally move on from their mediocre bad-attitude Cutler and start rebuilding for the future. This team sucks. (ZW)

31. San Francisco 49ers 1-9 (Last Week: 31st)

San Fran dropped to 1-9 with an expected lost to New England on Sunday. Kaepernick has looked better in every game he has played but the team is still in shambles. The Niners take on Miami this Sunday. (DH)

32. Cleveland Browns 0-11 (Last Week: 32nd)

Just when the season could get any worse, Cleveland lost their QB who’s shown the most promise in a loss to Pittsburgh. Even with the barrage of injuries Cleveland’s faced this season at the QB position, they at least were able to turn to Week 2 starter, Josh McCown. Considering the performance by Steeler’s defense, McCown wasn’t absolutely dreadful and actually threw a single TD pass to Gary Barnidge. With five games left on the season there’s still hope for acquiring one W for the Browns. (JA)

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Players Who Sucked This Week

Football

Donovan Williams completed less than 50% of his passes, threw 3 interceptions, and lost a fumble on the way to leading his Huskies to a shutout loss against Boston College. Tyler Jones of Texas State performed similarly, throwing 3 interceptions en route to a 40 point blowout by New Mexico State.

The Lions’ and Browns’ running attack were atrocious. Detroit averaged less than 1 yard per carry against the Jags. Cleveland is, well, just being themselves.browns-rings

Brandon Silvers had his worst game of the season against conference opponent Arkansas State. Three turnovers led to Troy’s first conference loss – they’ll need some help to win the Sun Belt now.

Shaun Wilson coughed up two fumbles which would lead to 14 Pitt points. Averaging 1.4 yards per carry didn’t help the offense either as it had to rely on their QB for production. The loss effectively ended Duke’s hopes of bowling.

Glen Cuillette was terrible yet again. He completed 3 passes in 12 attempts for a whopping 17 yards. He only had one turnover, but was the proper leader for a Tulane offense that couldn’t get on the scoreboard.

Hockey

Jonas Gustavsson played in just his third game of the season, and it was “third time’s a charm” to make my list. He let his Oilers down against the Kings last Thursday, quadrupling his goals against total for the season.

Marek Mazanec started his second game this year, and had a similar poor performance. His first start on October 15 allowed 5 goals (.815 SV%) and on November 15 was 6 goals (.816 SV%). Both resulted in a loss, but the Predators let him stay on the ice for 60 minutes this time.

Corey Crawford is one of the winningest goalies of the last 10 years with 2 Stanley Cup championships, but was not himself this past week. Yes he beat the Flames, but conceded 9 goals to the Oilers and Jets in losing fashion – he was even pulled midway through the third period against the Jets.

Jacob Markstrom gave up 13 goals, including a 7-goal blowout to the Rangers. He split the OT games with a win and loss, and finished the week with an .860 SV%.

Al Montoya played in one game and allowed 3 goals to get by him. He’s now lost the last three games he’s started, this being to one of the worst teams in the league.

Stats week 11/15-21

Basketball

Malcolm Delaney shot .250 from the field, missed all his 3 point attempts, and turned the ball over 9 times. C’mon man!

The Flop King in action.

Marcus Smart didn’t play like his name suggests, making 9 of 34 shots with 10 turnovers. Not to mention he’s the flop king of the NBA. Step aside Lebron!

Georges Niang whiffed on every shot, missing all 11 he took. Aron Baynes wasn’t much better, making just one basket in 11 attempts. Dwight Powell should thank Niang and Baynes for shooting worse than him – he only made 2 out of 21 shots.

Ricky Rubio has been a star, but not this week. He shot under .200 from the field, adding 9 turnovers and 10 fouls to his stat line.

Robert Covington and Marvin Williams both shot below .200, terribly from 3-point range, and each had 9 fouls. Covington couldn’t hit a free throw, going 4-8 in Dwight Howard fashion.

Courtney Lee and Tyler Johnson were terrible shooting twins, making 10 of 34 field goals. Johnson edged him by committing more turnovers and fouls.

Stats week 11/15-21

Players Who Sucked Again

Brian Elliott should hit up DJ Khaled on how to win, because all this washed-up guy has done the last 6 games is lose. He’s become a regular on my list, and I might make an e-throne for him to sit on.

Rutgers failed to score AGAIN. This is the fourth time this season, and second time they consecutively couldn’t score a point. If they are shut out next week, I will start a petition to demote them to a lower conference.

Keon Howard of Southern Miss was a dishonorable mention last week, but earned his spot this week: four turnovers and a 38% completion rate. Injuries have caused the Golden Eagles to become desperate at quarterback, and they have gone with this freshman the last 2 games without any luck.

Dishonorable Mentions

Jalen Ramsey cried after the Jags 5th straight loss. I know your team blew a late lead, but to cry after a regular season game that had no meaning? Grow up and take off your diaper.

James Reimer let up 6 goals against the Maple Leafs, but redeemed himself by holding off the Rangers in a shootout.

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

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Week 11 NFL Power Rankings

1. Seattle Seahawks 6-2-1 (Last Week: 4th)

Seattle got sweet, sweet goal line revenge against New England Sunday night. Seahawks won 31-24 with a late goal line stand and now gain control over the NFC West. Seattle was able to put up 31 points against a tough New England defense despite their atrocious offensive line. Pete Carroll and company look like a top contender in the NFC. Seattle hosts Philadelphia on Sunday.  (DH)

2.Dallas Cowboys 8-1 (Last Week: 2nd)

I keep waiting for Dak Prescott to look like a rookie and thought it was a lock that they would fall in Pittsburgh this past Sunday. Much to my surprise, it didn’t happen. The offense, specifically the run game led by Ezekiel Elliot continues to roll. Dallas has now won eight straight and it is no longer premature for them to think about earning home field advantage in the postseason. (CG)

3. New England Patriots 7-2 (Last Week: 1st)

The Patriots finally lost, but there should not be much to worry about in Beantown. They played tough against the Seahawks and I don’t see their elite position changing much. The Gronk injury doesn’t appear to be serious. Look for a nice comeback against the lowly 49ers next week. (AD)

4. Oakland Raiders 7-2 (Last Week: 3rd)

Nothing has changed for the Raiders coming off their bye week.  Expectations are for the Raiders to finish strong in a tough division .  The AFC West is dominating and would own both wildcard bids were the playoffs to start today. (CJ)

5. Denver Broncos 7-3 (Last Week: 7th)

In a wild finish, the Broncos edged the Saints on a blocked extra point returned for two points in the waning moments.  The AFC West is tough right now, but the Broncos have managed to keep pace despite a struggling offense which has seen an uptick in turnovers as of late. This week’s bye comes at a perfect time for the Broncos to be fresh for the stretch run. (CJ)

6. Kansas City Chiefs 7-2 (Last Week: 6th)

The Chiefs overcame an early 17-point deficit to pull out a 20-17 win against the reeling Carolina Panthers.  While they may not be the flashiest in the league, good teams find ways to win and the Chiefs are doing just that having won 17 of their last 19 matchups.  The AFC West is dominating and would own both wildcard bids were the playoffs to start today. (CJ)

7. Atlanta Falcons 6-4 (Last Week: 5th)

Atlanta is starting to show they aren’t playoff contenders after another disappointing performance. They go on a bye this week and will need to miraculously revamp their defense if they want to win a weak NFC South division title. (CH)

8. Pittsburgh Steelers 4-5 (Last Week: 13th)

It was a herculean effort by Ben Roethlisberger in the loss to the Cowboys throwing for over 400 yards and 3 TDs. Perhaps if the run game could have gained ground (no pun intended), the Steelers would’ve been able to keep the Cowboy’s rookie sensations off the field. The Steelers comeback attempt came up about 20 yards too short of the end zone to pull off the upset.  After a rough four weeks, Pittsburgh should be able to right the ship with a game against the winless Browns on Sunday. (JA)

9. Washington Redskins 5-3-1 (Last Week: 17th)

The Redskins gutted out a gritty win against the sliding Vikings, who came into Washington desperate to break their losing streak. The Washington offense continues to roll, however it may be fair to say it still has not yet clicked on all cylinders. When it does, watch out. Washington is right in the thick of the things and the defense is the only thing that could keep them from making their second consecutive playoff berth. (CG)

10. New York Giants 6-3 (Last Week: 10th)

The G-Men are coming off a hard-fought home win on Monday Night Football against the underachieving Bengals. The defense is returning to dominant form, something that will be key for the team down the stretch. Despite the explosiveness on offense, Eli Manning pitched another inconsistent game. It looked bleak at times following some of really bad interceptions, but Manning made up for those poor decisions by delivering when it counted the most, especially a key touchdown pass on fourth down to Sterling Shepard late in the game. (CG)

11. Philadelphia Eagles 5-4 (Last Week: 12th)

The Eagles got back on track by defeating the Falcons 24-15. The defense was dominant, keeping the #1 NFL offense in check and making Matt Ryan uncomfortable all afternoon. The balanced running attack was critical to their success and Philadelphia may have created the blueprint for defeating Atlanta, a team very undersized on defense. They face a tough task ahead as they will travel to Seattle. (CG)

12. Minnesota Vikings 5-4 (Last Week: 8th)

Four in a row. What a season turnaround for the Vikings and Sammy Sleeves. One month, best in the NFL, the next, you are surrendering the division to the Lions. The only good news is that the Packers aren’t very good either and they have every opportunity to right the ship. (ZW)

13. Houston Texans 6-3 (Last Week: 16th)

Even behind a less than spectacular performance on defense, the Texans found a way to win against division bottom dweller Jacksonville.  Though the Texans were out-gained on offense, their run game carried the load when called upon. I think this was an attempt to keep Sock Osweiler from throwing the ball as often and it turned out to be a solid game plan by Bill O’Brien. Hey, Osweiler even threw two TDs in the victory. We’ll see if this strategy continues on Monday night vs a strong Oakland team. (JA)

14. Arizona Cardinals 4-4-1 (Last Week: 11th)

The Cards squeaked out a victory against the 49ers on Sunday to improve to 4-4-1. Surprisingly, Arizona struggled to run against the Niners defense that previously allowed seven consecutive 100 plus yard rushers. Arizona is still trying to find their offensive identity. A match-up against Minnesota, one of the best defenses in the league, will not make things any easier. Arizona will need to win the next two games to contend for an NFC wildcard bid. (DH)

15. Baltimore Ravens 5-4 (Last Week: 20th)

Sometimes wins are just meant to be. Example: Your QB throws two INTS and you barely hit the century mark in rushing. But when you play the Browns, you can afford to not be on your ‘A’ game or ‘C+’ game for that matter. The Ravens simply outperformed the Browns Thursday night winning 28-7. For the first time in 4 weeks, Justin Tucker wasn’t the best offensive player for Baltimore.  The Ravens will need to tap into that ‘A’ game if they want to have a shot at beating the Cowboys in Dallas. (JA)

16. Buffalo Bills 4-5 (Last Week: 15th)

The Bills had a much needed bye after dropping three in a row. Other than the victory against the Patriots, they have looked to be a middling and inconsistent team. It may be playoffs or bust for Rex Ryan. There are about 5 winnable games left on their schedule, so be on the lookout for a battle down the stretch for second with the Dolphins. (AD)

17. Tennessee Titans 5-5 (Last Week: 24th)

It took almost three years, but the Titans have now won ten games in the last the three seasons combined! They accomplished this feat in Week 10 behind an outstanding performance from Marcus Mariota and one hell of an outing from DeMarco Murray. But the real MVP for this massive success in Titans franchise history is the O-line. The big uglies did their part in helping Tennessee almost eclipsing the 50 point threshold vs a potentially overrated Packers team. A chance to avenge an early season loss is on the horizon against division foe Indianapolis. (JA)

18. Detroit Lions 5-4 (Last Week: 14th)

The best possible scenario during a bye week is when the rest of the division loses. That’s exactly what happened this past weekend thrusting the Lions into first place! If the season ended today, the Lions would be in the playoffs. (ZW)

19. Green Bay Packers 4-5 (Last Week: 9th)

R-E-L-A…P-S-E. Relapse. The Packers got destroyed by the Titans in an unfathomable way. At this point, the defense looks like one of the worst in the NFL and Aaron Rodgers can’t be relied on to score 50 points a game to keep them in it. Mike McCarthy’s tenure may be coming to an end with how this team is responding to adversity. (ZW)

20. Miami Dolphins 5-4 (Last Week: 26th)

Ryan Tannehill looked very solid in an even matchup against the Chargers. The running and passing games are now starting to dial it up. The toughest portion of their schedule is likely done with, yet Miami will need help from the stacked AFC West to think about a Wild Card spot. (AD)

21. Cincinnati Bengals (Last Week: 19th)

Some have called it New York magic on their fourth down conversion late in the game to seal the victory, but ask a Bengals fan and they’ll tell you it’s because their team sucks. While the Bengals clearly aren’t the worst team in the league, their recent play has definitely left fans wanting more. Besides Andy Dalton’s anti-clutch gene, the team is missing a successful run game and aggressive defense that Cincinnati possessed in previous seasons. A game vs Buffalo on Sunday is an opportunity to get back on track. (JA)

22. San Diego Chargers 4-6 (Last Week: 18th)

The Chargers are being outpaced by their divisional foes.  The red-headed stepchild of the AFC West this year, the Bolts lost a close game to the Dolphins sealed by a Phillip Rivers pick six.   Expect big offseason questions to start bubbling to the surface for the duration of the season. (CJ)

23. New Orleans 4-5 (Last Week: 22nd)

New Orleans lost a heart-breaker in the final minutes on a blocked extra point but Drew Brees managed to throw for 300 yards, the most against Denver this year. They travel to Carolina Thursday night to face the last place Panthers – remember how wild that first matchup was? Players to Watch: Everyone, this could be another high scoring affair. (CH)

24. Los Angeles Rams 4-5 (Last Week: 27th)

Woot, woot. The Rams climbed one game closer to their predestined 7-9 record with their win against the Jets Sunday. This was possibly the most boring game in NFL history. Jeff Fisher- please start Jared Goff On Sundayversus the Dolphins, you desperately need to give your fans a reason to watch. (DH)

25. Carolina Panthers 3-6 (Last Week: 21st)

The Panthers blew a 17-point lead to the Chiefs as karma for Cam dabbing. Kelvin Benjamin’s fumble 4th-quarter fumble nailed the coffin shut when it led to a game-winning field goal by Cairo Santos. They host the Saints on Thursday Night Football, hopefully it will be as fun as their last meeting. Players to Watch: Everyone, this could be another high scoring affair. (CH)

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-5 (Last Week: 25th)

The Bucs won their first home game of the season, beating up on the Bears and exposing the real Jay Cutler. Doug Martin is finally back and will look to get back into the swing of things after having a not-so-great statistical game. They travel to Kansas City next week as underdogs. Player to Watch: Mike Evans got a lot of criticism for his presidential protest, will he make up for it on the field? (CH)

27.Indianapolis Colts 4-5 (Last Week: 23rd)

The Colts were on a bye Week 10. (JA)

28. New York Jets 3-7 (Last Week: 28th)

Wow this is a bad team. Bryce Petty should handle the reigns from here on out as he showed some better decision making than Ryan Fitzpatrick has in a tough loss to the Rams. The Jets should really consider going all-in for a high draft pick. The future may be bleak for head coach Todd Bowles. (AD)

29. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-7 (Last Week: 30th)

Turnovers continue to derail Jacksonville’s opportunity to win games.  The Jags out-gained the Texans in total yards, third down conversions, and even won the time of possession battle but failed to do enough to upset the Texans. Blake Bortles continues to play like a man possessed but when you try to do too much it can sometimes result in one of the strangest INTs I’ve ever seen. A road game against the Lions is on deck. (JA)

30. Chicago Bears 2-7 (Last Week: 29th)

The Bears got back on track this week as being one of the worst teams in football. They only had one touchdown with three turnovers by Cutler. Looks like a top-5 draft pick to me. (ZW)

31. San Francisco 49ers 1-8 (Last Week: 31st)

The Niners lose yet again. Their losing streak has extended to eight games. There is a reason for encouragement…the Niner’s defensive line played much better and Kaepernick is improving each game. Unfortunately, I do not think the losing streak will be snapped on Sunday because a pissed off New England team is coming to town. Good luck… (DH)

32. Cleveland Browns 0-10 (Last Week: 32nd) 

In this week’s saga of “Lose for Leonard”, the Browns did enough to hold on to their chances of landing the number one pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Not saying that Leonard Fournette will be chosen as the first overall pick or even help Cleveland if they drafted him for that matter, but you have to wonder if they’ll truly go winless this season. As long as no one else gets injured before the end of the year, perhaps Cleveland’s GM will just chalk up 2016 as extended scout team prep work for next season. (JA)

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Players Who Sucked This Week

Football

Jay Cutler went back to being the guy we love to hate. He had 3 turnovers, completed 53% of his passes, and is now losing his teammates’ trust. Thank you for making my Bucs look good.

The entire Browns offense played at a high school level by  not reaching 150 yards and turning the ball over 3 times (all thanks to Josh McCown). Their season is looking more and more gloom, and they probably won’t win this year. First overall pick here they come!

Philip Rivers threw 4 interceptions in the fourth quarter, including 2 in the final 3 minutes of the game to seal the Dolphins win. He’s still the best option at quarterback for the Chargers who are having a very up-and-down season.rivers-fail

Hayden Moore and Gunner Kiel assisted UCF to its second straight win. Both threw an interception, Moore lost a fumble, and they combined to complete 45% of their passes. Moore is the better of the two, as Kiel can’t play well when he faces a halfway decent team. No really, look at his stats.

Giovanni Rescigno led a terrible Rutgers offense who failed to get on the scoreboard for the third time this season. And they are now second worst in the NCAA for offensive points scored. Can the Big 10 kick them out already?

Sean White completed just 6 passes in 20 attempts for 27 yards, while rushing for 3 yards in 4 attempts. All of this crap equated to a 1.0 QBR. Maybe everyone can stop thinking Auburn is a contender now?

Jeff George Jr had the worst first half performance of the year: in only 16 pass attempts, he completed 5 and threw 4 interceptions. He was replaced by Wes Lunt in the second half, but the game was already decided by then. After starting the last 4 games with a 40% completion percentage, he’ll likely go back to the bench.

Hockey

Antti Neimi played half a game against the Jets and matched Kari Lehtonen’s awful performance: both allowed 4 goals en route to an 8-2 loss last Tuesday. Lehtonen played better throughout the week, but Neimi wasn’t able to redeem himself.

John Gibson faced 36 shots and let 7 go by, being responsible for both losses. He was even pulled against Nashville before the 2nd period ended. His .806 SV% is the worst of this list.

Carter Hutton was credited with both losses this last week, and picked up where Jake Allen left off against the Blue Jackets.

Jaroslav Halak couldn’t handle the state of Florida, allowing 10 goals to the Panthers and Lightning and losing all 3 games. The Islanders currently sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a -11 goal differential.goalies

Stats week of 11/8-14

Basketball

Corey Brewer made only 1 shot in 18 attempts from the field, along with 7 personal fouls and 4 turnovers. And this is exactly why he plays back up.

Bradley Beal played in just one game, and only made 1 shot in 9 attempts in 11 unproductive minutes. The Wizards still beat the Celtics, and Brewer is happy to see a fellow UF alumnus on this list.

Tim Frazier has filled in for Jrue Holiday, and to nobody’s delight except his opponents. His numbers over the last four games: 31.3 MPG, .310 FG%, 3.8 RPG, 12 TO, 10 PF. But it doesn’t really matter, he’s on the Pelicans – they’ll be in the draft lottery when the season is over.

Stats week of 11/8-14

Players Who Sucked Again

My last two lists haven’t included anyone, so it’s nice to see players return to this prestigious section!

Brian Elliott: I’m not sure what’s more impressive, losing 5 straight games or having a .857 SV% in each of his last 2 games. As I said last week, this man is likely past his prime.

Ryan Miller hasn’t been great lately, but his team bailed him out Sunday against the Stars with an overtime win. He still gon make this list.

Dishonorable Mentions

Four players were terrible but rode their team to victory:
Willie Parker was a non-factor in EMU’s win over Ball State, rushing backwards 7 yards before fumbling the ball.
Jordan Davis of the Ragin Cajuns fumbled the ball on his only carry.
James Morgan on Bowling Green played like a freshman against Akron, completing 48% of his passes with an interception and rushing for negative 14 yards.
Jalan McClendon played sparing for the Wolfpack, but threw 2 picks in only 5 attempts.

Keon Howard, Southern Miss’s quarterback, threw an interception and fumbled 4 times. He had the most offensive yardage among his offensive teammates, but 5 turnovers doesn’t lead to a win.

 

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

 

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Week 10 NFL Power Rankings

1. New England Patriots 7-1 (Last Week: 1st)

The Pats remain in the top spot, as they are coming off a bye. They have been unstoppable since Brady’s return and will have a tough test Sunday Night when they welcome the Seahawks for a Super Bowl rematch from two seasons ago. New England is a more than a touchdown favorite, which may steep considering the clout of their opponent. It speaks to how good they have been on both sides of the ball up to this point. (CG)

2. Dallas Cowboys 7-1 (Last Week: 3rd)

In what many people considered a potential trap game, the Cowboys came in to Cleveland and took care of business by beating the Browns 35-10. Not a lot of new things to say about Dallas. However, given that this past game was sandwiched between the Eagles and Steelers, it says a lot about their ability to not let up for the lowly Browns. The rookie combo of Prescott and Elliot continues to play well but will face a tough test when traveling into Pittsburgh this coming Sunday to play a Steelers team always dangerous at home following a loss. (CG)

3. Oakland Raiders 7-2 (Last Week: 4th)

The easy overreaction to the Raiders impressive division win over the Broncos is to consider them the favorites to win the AFC this year.  Although the defense still isn’t quite what we expected coming into the year, they have been more than serviceable while this offensive line is finally dominating the line of scrimmage.  This team is fun to watch, and are an elite contender until they give us reason to doubt it.  I wonder if they’ll still move them to Vegas if they’re on top. (CJ)

4. Seattle Seahawks 5-2-1 (Last Week: 5th)

Seattle’s offense looked more explosive in their win over Buffalo Monday night. Russel Wilson appears healthier and used his legs to create plays. The Offensive Line is still a giant question mark that needs to be addressed. Look for Belichick to exploit the Offensive Line troubles in a great matchup against New England Sunday. (DH)

5. Atlanta Falcons 6-3 (Last Week: 6th)

The Falcons traveled to Tampa and dominated the game as most people predicted. Matt Ryan is solidifying his case as the NFC MVP, while the defense is doing just enough to keep pace with the offense. Atlanta will enjoy a 10 day break before heading up to Philly in what should be a high scoring affair. Player to Watch: He’s been a quiet weapon the last 2 games, so look for Taylor Gabriel to make some plays with the secondary’s focus on Julio Jones. (CH)

6. Kansas City Chiefs 6-2 (Last Week: 7th)

Nick Foles was able to put together just enough for the Chiefs to top the Jaguars this past week.  They face a Carolina Panthers squad trying to salvage their season, but should have both Alex Smith and Spencer Ware back in the lineup. The Chiefs may not be the sexiest team out there, but head coach Andy Reid has his squad balanced on both sides of the ball. (CJ)

7. Denver Broncos 6-3 (Last Week: 2nd)

After a loss to the Raiders, the Broncos are now third in the AFC West behind Oakland (7-2) and Kansas City (6-2).  We knew coming into the season that with Trevor Siemian under center the Broncos would only go as far as their defense takes them.  While the passing defense has been one of the best in the league (although the loss of Talib the past few weeks has hurt them), the Broncos rushing defense ranks 29th in the league this season.    That won’t be good enough to carry an offense ranked 28th in yards per game to the playoffs this season, not to mention a repeat super bowl appearance. (CJ)

8. Minnesota Vikings 5-3 (Last Week: 8th)

Three straight losses. three straight games with poor running games. 78 yards rushing with a 3.1 average? This is the worst running team in the NFL and it’s not even close. Until they find some yards on the ground, it looks like their losing ways will continue as a one-dimensional football team. (ZW)

9. Green Bay Packers 4-4 (Last Week: 9th)

Aaron Rodgers can’t do it by himself but he just called out the whole team saying they have “low energy”. If they don’t come together as a team soon, they could let the Lions take the division for the first time since 1993. 23 years ago! (ZW)

10. New York Giants 5-3 (Last Week: 17th)

The Giants defense managed to get back on track and Odell Beckham Jr. exploded for two touchdowns in their 28-23 win over the Eagles. Both the defense and OBJ making plays are what the G-Men need to happen on a consistent basis to make the postseason. The victory put New York right back in playoff position at the halfway mark of the season. Monday Night Football will be quite the test against the Bengals, who are coming off a bye following a disappointing tie in London against the Redskins. (CG)

11. Arizona Cardinals 3-4-1 (Last Week: 14th)

The Cards look to even their record when they host San Fran on Sunday. David Johnson may break the single game rushing record against the worst run defense in history. Look out 300 yards, DJ’s coming. (DH)

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

Questionable coaching decisions and poor play calls by rookie head coach Doug Peterson held the Eagles back from getting a win on the road against the Giants. For the second time in the last three games, Carson Wentz had a poor first quarter. But again he managed to rebound and in this case threw for 364 yards in the loss. The defense played well enough for the Eagles to win, but the offense with its lack of playmakers let them down again. It does not get much easier when they welcome the Falcons to town this Sunday. (CH)

13. Pittsburgh Steelers 4-4 (Last Week: 11th)

Coming off a bye, fans expected the Steelers to break their two game skid and pull out a victory over the Ravens especially with Ben Roetlhisberger returning to the lineup. Not surprising however, was the rust that Big Ben didn’t shake off till the fourth quarter.  Having not played for three weeks, the Steelers looked to use their run game and Le’Veon Bell to ease the transition for Roethlisberger’s return. It didn’t go so well as they only rushed for 36 yards total. Life doesn’t get easier with the Cowboys visiting on Sunday. (JA)

14. Detroit Lions 5-4 (Last Week: 18th)

Who would have thought the Lions would be 5-4 and be just half a game back in the division? An improbable win against the NFC North leading Vikings has just catapulted the Lions into a potential playoff team. With an upcoming bye week, they look to make a second half push into what could be the most baffling division champion in a long time. Calvin who? (ZW)

15. Buffalo Bills 4-5 (Last Week: 15th)

The Bills are coming off a really tough loss in Seattle, one of the tougher places to win for visiting teams over the past few years. Tyrod Taylor moved the ball efficiently against the vaunted Seahawks defense. Despite an impressive effort, Buffalo has now lost three straight games heading into the bye. It could be the perfect time for this talented team to regroup as they prepare to make a wild card run. (CG)

16. Houston Texans 5-3 (Last Week: 12th)

Sock Osweiler and the Texans were on a bye this week. (JA)

17. Washington Redskins 4-3-1 (Last Week: 13th)

The Redskins are coming off a bye, following a tie in London to the Bengals.  On Sunday they’ll welcome the once 5-0 Vikings squad that has been leaking oil. (CG)

18. San Diego Chargers 4-5 (Last Week: 19th)

At 4-5 the Chargers are the basement dwellers of the AFC West, the best division in the NFL.  Melvin Gordon has been running like a man possessed and Phillip Rivers is playing at another level. They now have the chance to get to .500 if they can defeat the visiting Dolphins this Sunday. (CJ)

19. Cincinnati Bengals 3-4-1 (Last Week: 16th)

The Bengals used their bye week to readjust to the time zone after playing in London last week. (JA)

20. Baltimore Ravens 4-4 (Last Week: 21st)

Justin Tucker continues to be the best player on the Ravens offense. Behind his leg and the occasional pass completions via Joe Flacco, Baltimore pulled off a much needed win over division rival Pittsburgh. The win ties the Steelers atop the AFC North and with a home game vs the winless Browns on Thursday night, they may be king of the mountain at the end of Week 10. (JA)

21. Carolina Panthers 3-5 (Last Week:  24th)

Remember when the Panthers’ season was in trouble? Well it still is, but they’ve put together a mini-win streak and might make it three straight when they host the Chiefs this Sunday. Cam Newton still continues to be the team’s focus regarding “unfair hits”. Player to Watch: Let’s keep an eye on Cam and see if he really is being treated unfairly – or if he’s just getting tackled like a running back. (CH)

22. New Orleans Saints 4-4 (Last Week: 22nd)

New Orleans beat the 49ers in a game that looked like something out of the Big 12: a combined 1000+ yards of offense and 64 points. The Saints have now won 4 of their last 5, outscoring opponents 163-142. Much like the Falcons, the defense continues to be the biggest question mark. Players to Watch: Facing the top pass defense next week, Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower will have to carry the offense if they want to beat the Broncos. (CH)

23. Indianapolis Colts 4-5 (Last Week: 27th)

In a game that saw 82% of public money bet on the home team, the Colts bailed out Vegas with a road victory (31-26) over the Packers. The Colts started off hot with Jordan Todman taking the opening kickoff to the house, but cooled off with Andrew Luck throwing two INTs early. Fortunately, Indy leaned on Frank Gore to keep drives alive and keep Aaron Rogers off the field. Solid win for the Colts with a bye week on deck before a home stand vs division foe Tennessee. (DH)

24. Tennessee Titans 4-5 (Last Week: 20th)

The Titans put forth one hell of an effort on the road vs the Chargers this weekend only to come up short. Even though they lost, Tennessee scored their second highest point total of the year (35). If it wasn’t for Marcus Mariota throwing a pick-6 and having a fumble returned for a TD, the Titans would absolutely eclipse the .500 win percentage for the first time this season. A home game vs the Packers is up next. (DH)

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3-5 (Last Week: 23rd)

The Bucs have now lost all four home games this season, and will try to avoid another when they face the Bears on Sunday. Antone Smith is the latest running back to join the injury list, so Peyton Barber will be the likely starter next week if the Muscle Hampster can’t return to action. On the bright side, Aguayo made all the field goals he attempted! Player to Watch: With the Bucs likely to start their 4th-string running back, Jameis Winston will need to be consistent in attacking the Bears through the air. (CH)

26. Miami Dolphins 4-4 (Last Week: 26th)

The Dolphins have come back from the dead. After a 1-4 start, they have won three straight. A lot of credit has to go to rookie head coach Adam Gase for being able to get this team to play, and play at a high level. If Miami can come out of San Diego with a win this coming Sunday, its a safe bet that they will make a significant jump in next week’s rankings. (CG)

27. Los Angeles Rams 3-5 (Last Week: 25th)

Word on the street is we will not see Jared Goff until the Rams are eliminated from playoff contention. So, we should see Goff in a few weeks. Jeff Fisher is prolonging the debut of Jared Goff to prolong his own career. Fisher knows that Case Keenum is a built-in scapegoat and if fingers are not pointing at Jeff, it’s a good thing. If only slyness was an attribute Head Coaches needed…The Rams sit at 3-5 and head to MetLife to face the Jets this Sunday. (DH)

28. New York Jets 3-6 (Last Week: 29th)

The Jets desperately needed a win in Miami to keep their hopes of a playoff appearance alive. That is now looking with an impossibility. With the season looking all but lost, it may be time for New York to find out what they have in their young QBs on the bench in Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg. (CG)

29. Chicago Bears 2-6 (Last Week: 28th)

After a tremendous win two weeks ago, they got a bit of rest with a bye week. Bye weeks are normally welcomed but not when you need to keep up momentum. With the Bucs up next, the Bears try to keep hope alive. After all, they are only 3 games out of first place. Hey, it could happen! (ZW)

30. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-6 (Last Week: 30th)

The Jaguars must have heard my mockery of their offense last week and they attempted to right the ship vs the Chiefs but unfortunately it’s hard to win when you turn the ball over 4 times. The biggest bright spot of the loss however was the emergence of Chris Ivory, who toted the rock for 107 yards and shouldered some of the weight that Blake Bortles carries each week. Jacksonville has another chance to pull things together when the Texans visit on Sunday. (JA)

31. San Francisco 49ers 1-7 (Last Week: 31st)

San Fran has lost 7 straight games and has a historically bad run defense. The Niner’s became the first team to allow seven consecutive 100-yard rushers. It is a shoe-in for 8 as San Fran heads to the Desert to face David Johnson and the Arizona Cardinals. (DH)

32. Cleveland Browns 0-9 (Last Week: 32nd)

I said last week to expect Dak Prescott to put on a clinic vs Cleveland in Week 9. I was right. The Cowboys were simply too much for the Browns, putting up over 400 yards of offense while holding Cleveland to 222. Besides the sacks and lack of a running game, Cody Kessler had a decent outing, not throwing any INTs and completing TD pass to occasional QB turned WR Terrelle Pryor. It’s all about the small, moral victories when you’ve yet to earn your first W on the year. A win on the road vs Baltimore Thursday night isn’t impossible. (JA)

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Players Who Sucked This Week

You would think after I passed my national boards and saw the Cubs win the World Series I would cut some athletes a break. Nope! I got an unpaid job to do.

I also forgot that basketball was going on, so let’s add some dudes who should ride the pine like Brian Scalabrine. And I’m bringing back college football into the mix, so this will be a lengthy article.

Football

Jerick McKinnon’s time as a Vikings running back may be running short, after he only rushed for 8 yards on 7 carries against a weak Lions defense. The Vikings are really missing AP…

The lack of defense in the Saints-49ers game is something to scoff at. A combined 1057 yards of offense, 64 points, and 2 total sacks. Sorry, but I can’t give much credit to the Saints for forcing 4 turnovers since they played the Niners. And will San Fran’s rush defense every be able to stop a running back? The stats are pointing towards “No!”.

49ers-defense

Glen Cuiellette of Tulane was the UCF MVP on Saturday night. He was 5-21 passing for only 68 yards and 3 interceptions, two of which were brought back to the house. He also lost 2 fumbles, and one was returned for a touchdown. This might be the worst football performance of the year.

Syracuse and Arizona’s defenses had no answer for Clemson or Washington State, or the multiple quarterbacks they faced. Two of Clemson & Washington State’s QBs threw for at least 2 touchdowns, and Syracuse & Arizona lost by a combined 123-7.

The Florida Gators couldn’t run against a lousy Arkansas run defense, averaging less than one yard on 14 carries. Luke Del Rio ain’t gonna help them win an SEC title, so they better fix that in the coming weeks.

UConn’s offense forgot to take the field Saturday afternoon: 160 yards and 0 points in 26 minutes of possession. Temple isn’t a terrible team, but they’re not Alabama.

Fresno State is really bad this year, and it was worse when their starting quarterback went out early and the backup came in to throw an interception and complete less than 50% of his passes. And they didn’t even get on the scoreboard.

Hawaii is the last on the list of horrendous collegiate performances of the past week. Like Fresno, they didn’t score a single point. And worse than Fresno, they threw 4 interceptions. But they did play a pretty good San Diego St team. Either way, they sucked this week like Fresno.

Baseball

Josh Tomlin pitched well in Game 3, but gave up 6 runs in less than 3 innings of work in Game 6. The Cubs would of course go on to win the game, and eventually the World Series. But it’s kind of hard to pitch effectively when two of your top starters are out with injuries.

Mike Napoli isn’t known to get base hits, but he does have power. However, going 1-9 with six strikeouts does not prove the latter.

Jason Heyward made a great play when he stole second and ended up at third after a wild throw, but this dude cannot hit the ball. The Cubs should really evaluate his contract, or his hitting coach, or both.

Stats week of 11/1-7

Hockey

Semyon Varlamov played atrocious in his last 3 games, and wasn’t able to finish the third. He let 14 goals get by him and was credited with all 3 losses. He’s now lost his last 5 starts, and you have to wonder if the Avalanche will make a change or ride out this cold streak. Pun intended.

Much like the above guy, Martin Jones lost his last 3 games and didn’t play the full third. Allowing 9 goals against teams with a combined record of 17-17-3 is not how you want your starter to play, but I guess it’s still early in the season.

Brian Elliott lost both games this past week, allowing 9 goals on 60 attempts. The former Williams M. Jennings Trophy winner is now 3-6 on the season and appears to be past his prime. Can he redeem himself in the coming weeks?

Ryan Miller lost all three games this week, letting a combined 12 pucks go past him. He is now 1-6 on the year, and is playing worse than backup Jacob Markstrom. Maybe the Canucks will make a change?

I saved the womontoya-goalierst goalie for last – Al Montoya. In his only appearance this last week, he allowed 10 goals on 40 shots. TEN GOALS! This matches a franchise-worst record for the Habs and a franchise-best for the Blue Jackets. It’s also the most goals scored in a game this season.

 

Stats week of 11/1-7

Basketball

Matt Barnes couldn’t shoot in his last 4 games, going 5-33 from the field which included missing every three point attempt. Adding to his terrible stats is 7 turnovers and 7 personal fouls in that span. But the man does look gangsta…

Just because Justise Winslow is scoring more points than last year doesn’t mean he isn’t just taking more shots and misses. In his last 3 games, he’s averaged 37 minutes, .217 FG%, and .222 3P%. He does have 11 assists in those three games – maybe he should do that a little more.

The Terrible Trifecta gets the last award for missing every single shot taken. Troy Daniels, Davis Bertans, and Chandler Parsons all couldn’t score a basket. These guys went a combined 0-22 from field, including 0-14 from beyond the arc. Yeesh.

The Terrible Trifecta: Daniels, Bertans, & Parsons.

Stats week of 11/1-7

Players Who Sucked Again

For the second straight week, no player has made this section. Props to all you guys, keep earning that salary.

Dishonorable Mentions

The Cubs won the World Series, but Joe Maddon almost blew it by taking out Kyle Hendricks for Jon Lester in Game 7. David Ross came in to catch and made two costly fielding mistakes to help the Indians creep back in the game. But he did hit a home run, which ended up keeping the Cubs in the game. I live by the philosophy “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, but Maddon trusted his instincts too much and it luckily worked out in the end.

Marcus Mariota put up some decent numbers against the Chargers, but he was also responsible for 3 turnovers. And 2 of those turned into defensive touchdowns.

Michal Neuvirth and Jake Allen weren’t the worst of the worst this week, but certainly didn’t play well. Both gave up 10 goals on 69 shots (.855 SV%) and went 1-2 over the last 7 days.

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

Sorry to get political, but I have just one message: regardless of who wins this polarizing election, let’s look out for each other and not get emotionally carried away. We’re all we got, Trump or Hillary won’t change our country single-handedly.

Photo Credits:
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-kwKpN6kB5Zc/VIeCp8FODEI/AAAAAAAAi0A/mHqIsrm5MRg/s1600/49ers%2Bfans%2Bbe%2Blike….jpg
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http://s2.quickmeme.com/img/bc/bcbe33c2e5746ece8a1fc96c8f228a99d8648a7ff5ea4f21d9eac411781b9881.jpg

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The Depressing Demise of Sports Hate

There are a lot of things about sports I miss. Most sports fans are nostalgic. We like to reminisce about a previous era when a sport was at it best, while complaining about what the modern version lacks. Some people miss when football was more physical, some miss when athletes were considered heroes instead of being constantly reminded of their personal imperfections, while others simply wish they could watch their idol suit up one more time.

What I miss the most might sound a little dark, maybe even a little twisted. It’s not something most fans think about on a regular basis. But the thing I miss above everything is “sports hate”. Some of you might be thinking, “What is sports hate? Why is that something you miss? Don’t we already have…sports hate?”

When I refer to “sports hate”, I am not talking about having athletes and coaches to hate, because there is no shortage of that. I am also not referring media trolls baiting fans into mean-spirited social media reactions with irrelevant “hot takes”. “Sports hate” refers to the simple concept of having an authentic loathing for your opponent, ideally a rival, while in the midst of competition. Don’t confuse this with developing a true, personal hatred for the people outside of the sport. This is strictly detesting your opponent during a game or playoff series, which ultimately drives athletes to play with extra emotion, effort and will to win.

Professional athletes are too friendly these days with one another. It’s disturbing, the site of football players hugging and laughing with each other after an intense, physical game against one another. After three hours of violent competition, it’s befuddling how opposing players can rapidly transition to embracing each other so happily in such a light-hearted way.

csghub8vmaaigsbOne of the most repulsive images of NFL Season up until now has nothing to do with patriotism or the national anthem. It was during the pregame of the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants in Week 1, when Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham Jr. engaged in tickle fight and game of catch. This was one of the most nauseating and disgusting things I had ever witnessed in my life of watching sports.

The Cowboys and Giants are division rivals, about to begin the season against each other, and their respective star receivers are acting like summer camp roommates who share bunk beds. I have zero issue with players on opposing teams being friends off the field, but there is something very unsettling about opponents acting that chummy right before going against each other in a fierce battle on the field. You’d like to think the demeanor would be a lot more contentious.

“Sports hate” is the fuel for rivalries, which accounts heavily for what makes the entertainment value of sports so great. Think about it. The most hyped and generally most-watched sporting events are the rivalry games. Yankees and Red Sox is one of the most prominent rivalries in all of sports. Is there any love lost between the opposing players and fans? Absolutely not. Unfortunately, rivalries with this much juice are an endangered species.

Back in the 1970’s when Dick Vermeil took over as Head Coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, he made the Dallas Cowboys into a rival to hate. Beating the Cowboys was viewed as a goal and a milestone. A lot of it was due to the Cowboys being a dominant force in the 70’s. But it helped create a rivalry, one that got the players juiced up for, and something that sports fans did not want to miss when the teams played each other.

Heated rivalry games are always more entertaining. But it cannot be fabricated. Sports are about emotion. The emotion of despising your opponent can make an athlete raise their game a little bit extra, ultimately making the contest that much more competitive and enjoyable for spectators.

Some of the best rivalries have produced classic games and the unforgettable moments in sports history. This is primarily attributed to great teams being led by franchise players, who were leaders of the team year after year. They were the faces of the franchise: Magic Johnson with the Lakers, Larry Bird with the Celtics and Michael Jordan with the Bulls. In more recent years we had Kobe Bryant with the Lakers and Tim Duncan with the Spurs. These guys were the “kings of their kingdom”, the first players to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy after leading their team to another NBA Championship.


lat-sp-rivalry-larry-bird-magic-johnson-20140118With Magic and Bird, both were all-time great players who were able to lead their respective teams to multiple championships, frequently against each other. From 1980 to 1989, either Magic’s Lakers or Bird’s Celtics appeared in the NBA Finals at the end of every single season, with the Lakers winning it all five times and the Celtics winning three. During this span, these teams faced each other four total times. The point being that the Lakers and Celtics made up the best rivalry in all of sports during the 1980s.

It was a rivalry fueled by hatred and contempt for one another, and a constant need to come out on top every time. Unlike the athletes of today who embrace each other jokingly with smiles and hugs, take vacations and hang out on a regular basis, fierce rivals like Bird and Magic wouldn’t be caught dead engaging in any of those activities with each other. That distance created the juice that is lacking from so many big sporting events these days.

In the case with Bryant and Duncan, it did not take very long in their NBA careers to win their first rings. Therefore, there was never a true desire to want to leave for another franchise with an easier path to a ring. But with Michael Jordan, it didn’t happen right away. Jordan was drafted in 1984, but it took him until 1991 before he won his first of six NBA championships. During Jordan’s ascent, along with the Bulls as a team, a rivalry with the Detroit Pistons was formed. The rivalry led to physical, gut-wrenching playoff series in the late 1980’s. This produced a hatred between the two teams, and ultimately made these games more entertaining as well.

The concept of sports hate comes to the forefront with the 2016-2017 NBA Season just getting underway. One of the most noteworthy stories of the offseason was the decision of Kevin Durant to leave Oklahoma City to sign with the Golden State Warriors. The moved spurred a lot of negative reaction, as it rightfully should.

First of all, it brings the problem of NBA “Super teams” to a head, a trend that is becoming more popular and is also ruining the sport. The NBA has been under the microscope due to its lack of competitive balance, and those teams that have taken the rebuild route by “tanking” have been much maligned. However, these “super teams” like the Warriors, a 73-win team who added the best available free agent in Kevin Durant, as well as the Miami Heat from 2010-2014 are deserve just as much blame for this league issue.

Naturally OKC fans are furious, as they watched their franchise player leave their team to join a conference foe. That would be enough to anger the fan base, but this was preceded by Golden State coming back from being down 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals to Oklahoma City. This was a hard-fought, emotional, seven-game series between two conference heavyweights.

maxresdefaultThere was a time in the past where this series would have ignited a new sports rivalry. In order for a rivalry to exist, it needs to be charged by the players identifying with their respective team and developing a hatred for their opponent. That feeling of hatred then drives the desire to defeat their opponent, resulting into a more competitive games and ultimately a playoff series that nobody wants to miss.

Despite Michael Jordan’s early career struggles to overcome the Pistons, the thought of abandoning the Bulls to join forces with the heated rival and powerhouse never entered his mind. Sadly, it is a mentality lacking from current athletes. The proof will on display tonight, as Kevin Durant will go against his former team. Since being drafted up until this past June, Durant was the king of Oklahoma City (despite being drafted as a Seattle Supersonic before the relocation). He was the face of the franchise, the one he had not yet been successful in leading to a championship. As close as he was, and as hard-fought as the Western Conference Finals was, he was able to easily abandon the Thunder and join what you would expect to be a new bitter rival.

It’s perplexing how Durant was able to ditch his former team of nine seasons, that he came within one game of bringing back to the NBA Finals, for the squad that squashed that pursuit. How is there not a desire to seek revenge, to want to come back with the mission of beating the Golden State Warriors. Sports hate used to drive this feeling, making sports the dramatic spectacle that it has become. But sadly, it is becoming a thing of the past, with no clear sign of it making a return.

Photo Credits:

www.slate.com/articles/business/rivalries/2013/08/sports_rivalries_the_economics_of_crosstown_hatred.html

articles.latimes.com/2014/jan/18/sports/la-sp-great-rivalries-in-sports-20140118

twitter.com/b1ackschefter/status/775078440970047488

www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjPFq_SOvmg