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Sports New Year’s Resolutions for 2017

The end of each year brings the opportunity to come up with New Year’s Resolutions for achieving self-improvement in the following year. While it’s a usually an individual exercise that involves meaningful resolutions, that doesn’t absolve those in the sports world to make their own resolutions. With that said, I am happy to present the first annual Eye off the Ball’s version of Sports New Year’s Resolutions.

nfl-kick-off-537x350NFL – Embrace the offseason

It’s no mystery that the NFL is the king of the sports world. Despite the early-season dip in the TV ratings, the NFL is America’s most popular professional sport by a mile. As great of a product it is, the offseason is not the exciting spectacle that the media outlets want us to think it is. Events like the NFL Combine, Draft, Preseason and round-the clock training camp coverage severely lack entertainment value and fall well short of the hype that will draw crazed football fans in, that will do whatever it takes for a springtime football fix. Hey NFL – Get over yourself, your offseason is not that interesting. If you want fans to get excited about Week 1 Kickoff, do us a favor and take a break. How can you miss something if you never go away?

NBA – Figure out a solution to the tanking problemtanking

NBA teams have been heavily maligned for tanking, or losing intentionally to improve their draft position. Tanking has been going on ever since the NBA instituted a lottery system back in the 1980’s. Due to the lack of NBA-ready prospects entering the draft each season, there is a much larger disparity between the value of a top-three pick and a mid-first round pick in the NBA compared to any of the other professional sports. Because of this, NBA teams that do not have a clear path to contention result to tanking for what they hope will lead to drafting a franchise player, as opposed to perpetual mediocrity as a 40-win team that sneaks in the playoffs each season before getting swept by a team that has eyes on the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Tanking is not a problem because teams do it. It is a problem because the NBA is a flawed system that incentivizes teams without a core of players that can compete for a championship to do it. Whether it is changing the lottery system, draft process or even the eligibility requirements for players entering the draft, its a problem the league has to finally solve.

Philadelphia Eagles – Get some weapons for Carson Wentz9597916-carson-wentz-nfl-philadelphia-eagles-detroit-lions-842x560

The Eagles got in right in the 2016 NFL Draft, trading up and drafting Carson Wentz. If you ignore the misleading individual statistics and observe Wentz, it is clear that he has makings of becoming an elite NFL Quarterback. But he will not get there very easily by himself. The Eagles are currently devoid of explosive offensive weapons. They arguably have the worst receiving core in the NFL. If you want to maximize his talent and cash in on the luxury of having a great, franchise QB, it serves you right to surround him with better talent.

Major League Baseball – Keep up the momentum created by an unforgettable World Series

mlb-chicago-cubs

As mentioned in a previous post, the incredible World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians did wonders for the game of baseball. It is no secret that baseball has significantly declined in popularity over the past couple of decades. With that said, the World Series, especially Game 7 captivated the country, even the admitted non-baseball fans. It was a game that has me counting the days until Opening Day in December, a feeling that I have not had in a very long time. The sport has a lot of momentum going into 2017, and there is not a specific formula for keeping that going. Agreeing to a new CBA and avoiding a lockout was a great start. But baseball is in a great spot, and I think I speak for all baseball fans by hoping for another great season with exciting story lines in 2017.

Arizona Cardinals – Invest a high draft pick on a quarterbackarizona-cardinals-quarterback-carson-palmer

Carson Palmer has had a very good NFL career. But he is a shot fighter at this point in his career. His arm strength has almost completely fallen off, and it’s not going to magically come back at this stage of his career. Career backup, Drew Stanton currently occupies second string, is obviously not the future. The Cardinals did not select a QB in any of the last two seasons. There were 15 quarterbacks taken in last year’s draft, and 22 over the past two years. Of those 22, 10 have started an NFL game. It’s time for the Cardinals to invest a high draft pick in a quarterback.

Sacramento Kings – Trade DeMarcus Cousins before he leaves after next season

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 2: DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings handles the ball against DeAndre Jordan #6 of the Los Angeles Clippers during a game on November 2, 2014 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)The Kings are in NBA purgatory – not bad enough to draft a difference maker and not nearly good enough to be a title contender. Assuming Sacramento misses the postseason and even if they strike gold at the NBA Draft Lottery, the Philadelphia 76ers own the right to swap picks as part of a July 2015 trade. Point being that the Kings have little to be optimistic about, aside from having an elite player in DeMarcus Cousins. It is highly unlikely he re-signs with Sacramento after the 2017-2018 season. If he cares at all about competing for an NBA Championship, why would he? Sacramento should make it a priority over the next year to cash in on his value and find a trade with great return that springs a rebuild that hopefully propels the franchise into perennial contention.

Chip Kelly – Make some changes, or just accept you’re a college coach 

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 20: Head coach Chip Kelly of the San Francisco 49ers looks on from the sideline a preseason NFL game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 20, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Has anyone over the past few years in the NFL had a bigger rise and fall than Chip Kelly? He took over the Eagles in 2013 with an offense that initially took the NFL by storm. But as expected, the defenses adjusted. However the coach who was lauded for his brilliance and forward-thinking approach to football, never made a next move or adjustment once defensive coordinators figured out how to defend his offense. Chip Kelly may be brilliant, but he is also very stubborn. He also jettisoned talented offensive playmakers in Philadelphia with a mindset that every player was expendable. In the NFL, superior talent is not nearly as easy to acquire as it is as a head coach of a major college football program with a fun offense and cool looking uniforms. In addition to needing to evolve his offense, Chip Kelly will need to better appreciate elite NFL talent if he wants to make it long-term in the pros. Otherwise, he should return to college where he ultimately belongs.

PGA Tour- More Driveable Par 4’s (By Derek Hirsch)

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You know who other than chicks ‘dig the long ball’? Everyone, that’s who. There is nothing like seeing a golf ball travel 320 plus yards and land softly on a tiny little green surrounded by hazards. The casual fan does not comprehend how much strategy goes into a round of golf, but short par 4’s draw the casual fan in with the excitement of the risk/reward decision from a player. Either you have a putt for eagle, or you are staring double bogey in the face, both consequences will move your position on the leaderboard. We need more holes on the PGA Tour that give the players the opportunity for a boom or bust play.

Andrew “Beef” Johnston – Play as many PGA Tour Events as possible. (By Derek Hirsch)

andrew-beef-johnston

Golf fans are yearning for a character like Beef. His look, personality and beard are all elements that will be eaten up by American fans. Did I mention he is from Jamaican descent? All Beef needs is more exposure in the USA combined with good play and then he will certainly become a house-hold name.

Tampa Bay Rays – Seriously explore a stadium move. (By Chris Himes)

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The Tampa Bay Rays need to move their stadium closer to Central Tampa; most of their fans live in that area and it would be close to the other hometown team, the Buccaneers. Crossing the bridge is a hassle for a lot of people, and not many fans live in St Pete. Ideally, moving the stadium would lead to more revenue which would bring in more money for the team to progress and possibly win a championship. Most times a good player or coach goes away due to salaries and the Rays start back at square one; this would help them move in the right direction.

Cam Newton – Revamp wardrobe shenanigans. (By Chris Himes)

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Football teams need to invent themselves each year to succeed, and Cam Newton’s team is a prime example of why they didn’t succeed. Thinking outside of his game, Cam should switch up his wardrobe. I think he wears ridiculous clothes; others would disagree and say he has style. I propose that if he continues to wear outrageous clothes, he auction off his outfits for charity. Or he could start doing impersonations, like making fun of Russell Westbrook’s clothes, or Von Miller’s shoes. Although Von would get the final say…

College Basketball – Make players stay longer. (By Chris Himes)

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The NCAA should make basketball players stay for an extra year. They made it mandatory to complete one year of college, or turn 19, in 2007, and should keep the trend going for at least one more grade level. The NBA has become top heavy (cough*East*cough) and the talent is not well spread out as a result. I believe having players stay in college longer will not only make them better professional players, but will also give them a better education in case basketball don’t work out for him. When and if this rule takes effect, all current players will be “grandfathered” in, and this will apply to incoming freshmen. Eventually it can be increased to Juniors (similar to football) if that seems to be the next best course.

rutgersThe Big Ten – Kick out Rutgers (By Chris Himes)

Let’s be brutally honest, Rutgers doesn’t belong in Big Ten football. They were recently invited and they look like a high school team trying to impress a junior college division. Additionally, they do nothing to improve the New York and New Jersey markets as those are basketball/hockey heavy and are settled on their professional football teams. They are 17-51 against Big Ten teams, and have two wins in the last three seasons (vs Michigan 2014; vs Indiana 2015). They lost every division game this year, including four shutouts. If they don’t improve next season, the Big Ten needs to reconsider this lousy excuse of a team.

NHL – Figure out a way to partner up with ESPN. (By Chris Himes)maxresdefault

Hockey is the least popular sport of the big four, mostly due to the lack of TV coverage. ESPN has monopolized the sports entertainment industry, and did not renew their NHL contract due to the 2004 lockout which has hurt the sport’s popularity and fan base. Hockey may be the most exciting of the four sports as they allow fighting, display constant action with minimal breaks during periods, and boast the toughest athletes in the US and Canada. I don’t blame the league for having hard feelings against the sports giant network, but they might want to bury the hatchet to get back in the thick of the sports world.

Photo Credits:

youtube.com/watch?v=2BuSLqUD65I

bleacherreport.com/articles/2667331-ranking-the-best-teams-in-college-basketball-if-players-had-to-stay-for-4-years

gossiponthis.com/2016/07/19/andrew-beef-johnston-pga-golf-tour-tj-miller-doppelganger-lookalike-bio-facts-info-wiki/

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www.hngn.com/articles/102011/20150618/arizona-cardinals-rumors-carson-palmer-being-replaced-by-jared-goff-in-2016-nfl-draft.htm

insidetheiggles.com/2016/10/13/check-carson-wentz-press-conference-tuesday/

ninerswire.usatoday.com/2016/09/11/have-defenses-caught-up-to-chip-kellys-up-tempo-offense/

wagesofwins.com/2013/10/31/are-we-really-still-talking-about-tanking/

ekalavyas.com/2015/01/16/realized-basketball-take-places-demarcus-boogie-cousins-part/

sportbet.com/news/mlb/2016-world-series-odds/

golfadvisor.com/articles/tpc-las-vegas-golf-15496.htm

gossiponthis.com/2016/07/19/andrew-beef-johnston-pga-golf-tour-tj-miller-doppelganger-lookalike-bio-facts-info-wiki/

ijsf.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/will-the-tampa-bay-rays-bad-attendance-make-them-consider-moving/

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Week 17 NFL Power Rankings

1. New England Patriots 13-2 (Last Week: 1st)

The Pats just keep on rolling, as they decimated the hapless Jets this past Saturday. New England is clicking on all cylinders and with a win this coming Sunday in Miami, they will lock up home-field advantage in the AFC Playoffs. All signs point to the Patriots making it back to the Super Bowl. (CG)

2. Dallas Cowboys 13-2 (Last Week: 2nd)

The Cowboys put an exclamation point on clinching the #1 seed in the NFC Playoffs following a dominant win against the Lions on Monday Night Football. The game was very competitive through the first half, but the offense pulled away in the second half. Dallas is rolling and looks poised for a deep postseason run. (CG)

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

The Chiefs are one of the most dominant forces in the NFL heading into the final week of the regular season.  This team reminds me of the 2013 Seattle Seahawks.  Great defense with solid offense which has found a new spark in wide out Tyreek Hill.  Nobody wants to see the Chiefs in the playoffs. (CJ)

4. Oakland Raiders 12-3 (Last Week: 3rd)

The Raider’s terrific season is in jeopardy with the loss of Derek Carr to a broken fibula.  They have been running the ball better as of late and have openly stated their faith in backup quarterback Matt McGloin, even putting a second round restricted tender on him in the offseason.  He looked ok in mop up duty after Carr went down and we will see if he can lock up a first round bye this Sunday against the Broncos. (CJ)

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

With a massive game on the line vs the Ravens, the Steelers had their best players step up for the win on Christmas Sunday. The offensive trio of Roethlisberger, Bell, and Brown had amazing games scoring when given the opportunity when points were needed. The victory proved Pittsburgh was a top three team in the AFC with playoffs rapidly approaching. HC Mike Tomlin will have to decide whether to give his studs a rest next week against a meaningless game vs the lowly Browns with playoffs in two weeks. (JA)

6. Atlanta Falcons 10-5 (Last Week: 8th)

Atlanta has won the NFC South for the first time since 2012. Matt Ryan has made a strong case for MVP throwing over 4600 yards, 34 touchdowns, and a league-high 115.5 passer rating. He and the Falcons will look to improve on their already impressive performances Sunday against the Saints as they prepare for a playoff run. (CH)

7. Seattle Seahawks 9-5-1 (Last Week: 5th)

It was a devastating defeat at home versus the Cardinals on Saturday. The loss opens the door for Atlanta to take the number 2 seed in the NFC and Seattle lost Tyler Lockett for the rest of the season with a broken leg. This is the third loss in five games for Seattle. They are limping into the playoffs but Seattle seems to thrive off taking the more difficult path to success. They travel to San Francisco to close out the regular season. (DH)

8. New York Giants 10-5 (Last Week: 7th)

Despite clinching a wild card spot, fell to the Eagles on Thursday Night Football 24-19. While throwing for 363 yards, it was a lackluster performance by Eli Manning that was highlighted by throwing three interceptions. With all of that said, New York has its ticket punched for the playoffs with a two-time Super Bowl-winning QB and a defense playing at a high level. (CG)

9. Green Bay Packers 9-6 (Last Week: 12th)

The Packers are on fire, and exactly at the right time. They avenged their Week 2 loss to the Vikings by winning in convincingly 38-25. Aaron Rodgers has rediscovered his elite form and looks poised to lead a deep playoff run. If they can win in Detroit for the NFL regular season finale, the Packers will be one the most dangerous playoff teams. (CG)

10. Denver Broncos 8-7 (Last Week: 10th)

After starting the season 4-0 the Broncos have gone just 4-7 and will not be making the playoffs.  The defending champs were exposed offensively as the season progressed, and even their heralded defense showed blemishes in their rush defense.  Kubiak may decide to get a look at Paxton Lynch in the final game of the season against Matt McGloin and the Oakland Raiders.  (CJ)

11. Detroit Lions 9-6 (Last Week: 9th)

The Lions hung with the Cowboys throughout the first half on Monday Night Football, but were completed dominated in the second. Detroit was sitting pretty just two weeks ago at 9-4, but after dropping two straight to playoff bound NFC East teams (Giants being the first), they basically need a win on Sunday Night Football against the red-hot Packers to punch their playoff ticket. (CG)

12. Miami Dolphins 10-5 (Last Week: 13th)

After surrendering a two-touchdown lead in Buffalo, the Dolphins rallied to defeat the Bills in overtime. About 31 hours later, the Chiefs defeating the Broncos on Sunday Night Football clinched a postseason berth for Miami. On top of it being the first postseason appearance since 2008, its fair to say the Miami Dolphins are the biggest surprise team in 2016. (CG)

13. Washington Redskins 8-6-1 (Last Week: 16th)

The Redskins got back on track with a convincing victory in Chicago this past Sunday afternoon. The offense regained its footing, as they put up 41 points against the Bears defense. Now Washington gets the Giants, with nothing to play for, in the season finale at home and a chance to sneak into the playoffs. The Redskins have a considerably good shot at becoming the third playoff team from the NFC East. (CG)

14. Baltimore Ravens 8-7 (Last Week: 11th)

Sometimes you just gotta lean on your studs when there’s playoff aspirations on the line and let them take over. Unfortunately Justin Tucker wasn’t put into the best field position to do so in the loss against the Steelers. The loss eliminates the Ravens from the post season and perhaps it’s for the better. A win against division rival Cincinnati will finish the season on a high note as they start prep for hopefully drafting a RB in 4 months. (JA)

15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8-7 (Last Week: 14th)

After a tough road loss to the Saints, the Bucs playoffs hopes are pretty much over. They’re going to need A LOT of help to get in, and will help themselves by beating Carolina at home. Doug Martin’s recent news of “personal issues” won’t make their season end any better, but fans hope to see him back next year. (CH)

16. Houston Texans 9-6 (Last Week: 17th)

If the road to the playoffs truly came through Houston, I’d be willing to put some coin behind the Texans with their 7-1 home record. The Texans won behind the error fee arm of Tom Savage and the leg of Nick Novak against a down and out Bengals 12-10. You can credit the defense as well for making the Cincy offense one dimensional. The win showed that Tom Savage can lead a team to victory especially with the playoffs coming up and he’ll be tested again in the regular season finale with a shot at sweeping division rival Indianapolis. (JA)

17. Tennessee Titans 8-7 (Last Week: 15th)

Heartbreak comes in many forms but typically it involves around a loss of someone you care about. A fibula break however occurs when a massive atypical force is applied to the smaller bone in your shin. Fibula breaks are a cause of heartbreak for Titan fans and a reality Marcus Mariota. Before the third quarter injury the Titans had allowed the Jaguars to take control of the game and the resulting loss eliminates Tennessee’s playoff chances. They’ll finish the season vs the Texans next week with less on the line. (JA)

18. Arizona Cardinals 6-8-1 (Last Week: 24th)

Special Teams finally came through for the Cardinals with a 43-yard field goal as time expired to give them a win in Seattle. This victory is the highlight to a disappointing season. It will be interesting to see what needs Arizona addresses in next years draft. The CB opposite to Patrick Peterson has been abysmal this year, Carson Palmer has one, maybe two seasons left in the tank and the Offensive Line is lacking depth and versatility. Despite the concerns, I think Arizona will be back competing in the NFC West next year. (DH)

19. Buffalo Bills 7-8 (Last Week: 18th)

The Bills fought hard in a losing effort for Rex Ryan, who presumably be fired before the end of the year. Following the loss in overtime to the Dolphins, Ryan was fired and the Bills have a head coaching vacancy for the third time since 2013. Buffalo is not devoid of talent, but its not a coincidence that they have had six different full-time head coaches since their last playoff appearance in 1999. (CG)

20. Minnesota Vikings 7-8 (Last Week: 20th)

It’s hard to believe the Vikings were once 5-0 and atop the Power Rankings. Since the 5-0 start, they are 2-8. Not good. Minnesota has been outscored 72-31 in the past two games, but has the opportunity to close out the season on a positive note at home against the Bears. (CG)

21. Philadelphia Eagles 6-9 (Last Week: 25th)

The Eagles got a much-needed win and snapped their five-game skid when they defeated the Giants on Thursday Night Football 24-19. The offense got a big jolt from right tackle, Lane Johnson, who returned from a 10-game suspension. Philadelphia has an opportunity to end the season on a good note when they welcome the Cowboys, who could be resting several players. (CG)

22. New Orleans Saints 7-8 (Last Week: 22nd)

The Saints got their revenge on the Bucs, putting up over 400 yards of offense. They won’t make the playoffs, but they have a high-powered offense to look forward to in 2017. Michael Thomas would likely win NFC Rookie of the Year if it weren’t for those two Cowboys. (CH)

23. Cincinnati Bengals 5-9-1 (Last Week: 23rd)

In what turned out to be a defense slugfest, the Bengals let a winnable game slip away vs the Texans. With a doubt if AJ Green and Tyler Eifert were healthy, Cincinnati would have won this game and the seat wouldn’t be heating up for Marvin Lewis. Hopefully after the Ravens game on Sunday, the front office will be focusing on drafting a QB in April because it’s clear Andy Dalton isn’t the man to take you to the Super Bowl. (JA)

24. San Diego Chargers 5-10 (Last Week: 26th)

The Chargers allowed the first win of the season to the lowly Cleveland Browns.  They have become a mess as the season has progressed and may be playing their final game in San Diego this weekend.  The highlights of this outing may be Melvin Gordon coming back to get three more yard rushing to reach 1,000 on the year and Antonio Gates needing two touchdown receptions to pass Tony Gonzalez (111) on the all time list for tight ends (#6 overall). (CJ)

25. Indianapolis Colts 7-8 (Last Week: 19th)

Though they were a long shot from the playoffs, especially with a road game vs a hot Oakland team, the Colts put up another strong effort only to fall short in the 33-25 loss. We’ll wonder if HC Chuck Pagano’s job is on the line when the season ends after being unable to close out games losing five with single digit points away from an 11-4 year. A win over a feisty Jaguar team who’ve they’ve lost too earlier in the season won’t be easy but it’ll give Indy a .500 record. (JA)

26. Carolina Panthers 6-9 (Last Week: 21st)

Getting whooped by Atlanta is a common thing these days, almost as common as Carolina getting whooped. Their defense has shown some promise towards the end of the year, but it’s a little too late. The Super Bowl hangover is very real. (CH)

27. Jacksonville Jaguars 3-12 (Last Week: 30th)

Under interim coach Doug Marrone the Jaguars pulled an unexpected win vs the visiting Tennessee Titans 38-17. It was a successful day for Bortles who finished the game without any INTs, rushing and passing touchdowns, and actually caught a TD from WR Marqise Lee. The man who’s been doing it all for Jacksonville offensively finally unlocked the “put the team on my back achievement” in real life for a victory. The Jags will finish the season on the road vs Indianapolis. (JA)

28. Chicago Bears 3-12 (Last Week: 27th)

The Bears were dominated at home by an angry Redskins team coming off an embarrassing home loss on Monday Night Football. Despite sitting at 12 losses, the Bears have hung tough in a lot of their losses. Chicago has a chance to close the season on a high note, as they will travel to Minnesota to face the reeling Vikings. (CG)

29. Los Angeles Rams 4-11 (Last Week: 29th)

It’s a shame to see this defense go to waste. They are a talented bunch and if they were paired with a competent Offense, the Rams would be a dangerous team. The new head coach needs to make the offense his priority. LA hosts Arizona on Sunday. (DH)

30. New York Jets 4-11 (Last Week: 28th)

The Jets have officially mailed it in and while Todd Bowles has looked like a dead man walking, he will reportedly get a chance to right the ship in 2017. Its quite puzzling, given the talent on the New York roster. Despite the talent, the most important position, QB, remains a major question mark going into 2017. One has to wonder what plan is with the position, but Ryan Fitzpatrick is clearly not the future.

31. San Francisco 49ers 2-13 (Last Week: 31st)

The 49ers overcame a 14-point deficit to defeat the LA Rams 22-21 on Saturday. The victory snapped a 13-game losing streak. San Fran hosts Seattle on Sunday. (DH)

32. Cleveland Browns 1-14 (Last Week: 32nd)

THEY DID IT. THE MOFUCKIN BROWNS WON A MOFUCKIN GAME. (INSERT RIC FLAIR “WOOO”). No joke, the Browns shut down the Chargers run game, didn’t turn the ball over at all, and blocked a FG that could have taken the game into overtime.  A long time coming, Cleveland finished the year with a home game gift for the fans that stuck with them throughout the season; a win. Even if the Browns lose to Pittsburgh next weekend, they’ve locked up the first pick in the draft and it’ll be interesting to see who they take. (JA)

 

Photo Credit: http://heavy.com/sports/2016/03/nfl-2016-super-bowl-51-odds-patriots-broncos-panthers/

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Players Who Sucked This Week

Football

Greg Windham was definitely the reason why Ohio lost their bowl game. His five turnovers were the difference in a 5-point loss to Troy.

Kyle Shurmur of Vandy joins Greg as the only guys on this week’s list. He was unvandycraigslist-650x342der 50% passing completion including three picks.

Not a lot of terrible football was played in the NFL this week. The Jets were terrible yet again (see below) but no single player was absolutely bad. The Texans-Bengals was pretty boring and the Broncos’ offense is weak, but that’s as much as I’ll say about that. Good job NFL guys, you earned that overpaid salary!

Hockey

Petr Mrazek came in when Jimmy Howard went down with an injury, and couldn’t get the job done.

Antti Raanta let up seven goals to the Penguins last Tuesday, then assisted his teammate Henrik Lundqvist on Friday en route to losing to the Wild 4-7.

Mike Smith racked up two losses in two starts this week, allowing 7 goals in those games.

Anders Nilsson started one game, and that’s about all you’d wanna see out of him. Five goals allowed to the Islanders led to a big loss.

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Basketball

Rodney Hood made just one shot in 11 attempts, and missed all 7 three-point attempts. Stanley Johnson was also pretty bad from the floor, going 2-11 while committing 6 fouls. Chandler Parsons didn’t make a single 3-ball, and shot under .200 from the field.

Dorian Finney-Smith played worse when he logged 30+ minutes, especially when he couldn’t make a single shot against the Clippers (0-8 FG).

Rajon Rondo has been a household name since his days in Boston, but he’ll be another player who sucked this week. Rondo shot .242 from the floor, .222 from beyond the arc, committed 7 fouls, and turned the ball over 13 times, all in four games. Maybe next week he’ll get back on it.

"I did what?!"

“I did what?!”

Tyreke Evans was terrible coming off the bench unless he was shooting free throws. Maybe you should draw some more fouls buddy.

Jaylen Brown has a sweet flattop, too bad it couldn’t translate to a better shooting percentage this week.

Glenn Robinson III logged 33.3 MPG but only made one shot each game…in 21 attempts.

Mirza Teletovic played worse as the week went on, missing his final 9 three-pointers. He missed all 9 shots on Friday before taking a hard fall.

Matthew Dellavedova gets paid way too much, and I don’t mind exposing him for being a crappy basketball player. Sure he can dish the ball, but a .241 FG% ain’t gonna cut it. Start earning that salary young man.

Players Who Sucked Again

Petty & the Jets sucked again, getting blown out by the Patriots. Bryce missed on all three pass attempts with an interception, and Fitzpatrick wasn’t much better. What a disastrous season for these guys.

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Matt Barkley turned the ball over at home way too many times again. Five interceptions won’t help any team win a game, let alone come close.

Pekka Rinne is in a serious slump. The only game he played in this week ended 0-4 against the Kings. Chad Johnson returns after another poor weekly performance, albeit only one game. He wasn’t too good in that one game. He lost. Ryan Miller continues to play like a Canuck, losing his lone start against the Jets.

Andrew Harrison is basketball’s first three-peat! Man this guy needs to get it together.

Dishonorable Mentions

The Chargers are the only team (so far) to lose to the Browns this year. Way to be those guys.

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The Rams offense sucks so much that I don’t feel like putting them in the above category again. Their offense needs some serious work this offseason.

Cory Schneider started three games this past week. In two of those, he let up 5 and 4 goals with the obvious losses. But he shutout the Flyers last Thursday. Then again it was only 16 shots. His team should try to allow less opportunities for the opponent so can play up to his professional standards.

Matt Murray started two games where 7 goals were scored by the winner. He was on the losing side last Thursday where he was pulled after allowing 6 in 2+ periods of “work”.

Semyon Varlamov lost both of his starts, but he stopped 31 of 33 shots against the Wild last Tuesday. He’s allowed to point the finger at his teammates for that one.

Stats week of 12/20-26

 

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

 

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Week 16 NFL Power Rankings

1. New England Patriots 12-2 (Last Week: 1st)

The Pats avenged their AFC Championship loss in Denver this past Sunday, as they defeated the Broncos 16-3. The offense did just enough against a dominant defensive unit, and the New England defense completely shut down the Denver offense. The Patriots look poised for another Super Bowl run. (CG)

2. Dallas Cowboys 12-2 (Last Week: 2nd)

The Cowboys responded well to their Sunday Night loss to the Giants by holding off the red-hot Bucs on Sunday Night Football, 26-20. Ezekiel Elliot carved up the Tampa Bay defense, running for 159 yards and a score. The defense managed to force Jamies Winston into timely turnovers that clinched the victory. Next up is the Lions on Monday Night Football, for what will be the Cowboys fourth straight primetime game. (CG)

3. Oakland Raiders 11-3 (Last Week: 4th)

The Raiders clinched their first playoff appearance since 2002 after defeating the rival Chargers in San Diego 19-16. The defense, which has been a weakness, has stepped up as of late. The last time Oakland made the playoffs, they made it to the Super Bowl. We all know what the offense can bring the table, led by Derek Carr. But the defense will likely determine if the Raiders can get back to Super Sunday. (CG)

4. Kansas City Chiefs 10-4 (Last Week: 3rd)

The Chiefs had the past game against the Titans in control, leading 17-7 in the fourth quarter. The defense uncharacteristically gave up the lead, and eventually fell to Tennessee at home. Kansas City is still in great position to secure a playoff berth, but will need some help if they want to take back first place in the AFC West from the Raiders. (CG)

5. Seattle Seahawks 9-4-1 (Last Week: 6th)

Seattle clinched the NFC West title with its victory over the Rams Thursday night, making it the third division title in four seasons. Despite all the question marks surrounding this team, Seattle is atop the NFC poised to make another run at the Super Bowl. Seattle faces off against the Cardinals Saturday at Century Link Field. (DH)

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

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they witness someone doing something and they ask themselves “Why not me?”. For majority of the season Chris Boswell has done his job when called upon (kick the ball through the uprights) and never fully received the love that his QB, WR, or RB have grown accustomed to. However things changed for Boswell on Sunday as he grew tired of watching division/life foe Justin Tucker bask in kicker glory each week as he’s racking up points for the Ravens. Boswell proved the haters wrong and knocked in six FGs in the win over the Bengals, finally earning his rightful spotlight. As for the rest of the Steelers team, they did alright and let the kicker have his fun as they mentally prep for a huge game against Baltimore on Christmas day. (JA)

7. New York Giants 10-4 (Last Week: 8th)

After a run of defeating inferior opponents, the Giants are coming off consecutive wins against teams with a combined record of 21-7 (Cowboys and Lions). The defense is entering dominant status, and just at the right time. If New York can find some consistency on offense, especially in the running game, they could be poised for a deep playoff run. (CG)

8. Atlanta Falcons 9-5 (Last Week: 10th)

Devonta Freeman eclipsed 100 yards rushing for just the second time this season, adding three scores in a blowout win over the 49ers. Matt Ryan continued his career-best season through the air despite not having Julio Jones for a second-straight week. With the Bucs loss, they increased their NFC South lead and are looking to extend it next week at Carolina. (CH)

9. Detroit Lions 9-5 (Last Week: 7th)

The Lions offense was stymied by the Giants offense, as they fell 17-6. Things will not get much easier for Detroit in their final two games. First they have the challenge of traveling to Dallas to face the 12-2 Cowboys, followed by a season finale against the Packers, who have won four straight. The Lions have exceeded expectations in 2016, but missing out on the playoffs after sitting at 9-4 would certainly be a disappointment, yet its not unlikely. (CG)

10. Denver Broncos 8-6 (Last Week: 9th)

The Denver offense struggled mightily against the visiting Patriots, only coming up with three points in the loss. The 16-3 loss to New England could be described as a microcosm of the 2016 Denver Broncos: inconsistent offense and great defense. The offense will likely be the reason the defending Super Bowl Champions miss the postseason. As the Broncos look to the offseason, they will definitely need to figure out the future of the quarterback position. Trevor Siemian has looked good at times, but Denver also invested a first round pick in Paxton Lynch. Next year’s training camp could be very interesting. (CG)

11. Baltimore Ravens 8-6 (Last Week: 14th)

After the ground game was nowhere to found in last week’s loss to the Patriots, the Ravens regrouped with a balanced attack in a home win vs the Eagles. While Joe Flacco wasn’t particularly on target for the afternoon, his kicker (and should be team MVP) Justin Tucker cemented his value for season and record books by becoming the NFL’s all time leader in field goal percentage. Next week’s game vs the Steelers has become pivotal for Ravens hope of making the post season. (JA)

12. Green Bay Packers 8-6 (Last Week: 11th)

The Packers were able to hold off the Bears in Chicago, bringing their win streak to four. Despite sitting at 4-6 just a  few weeks ago, Green Bay is starting to click. Assuming they are able to finish the season strong, they will be a team that no one wants to face in the NFC Playoffs. (CG)

13. Miami Dolphins 9-5 (Last Week: 15th)

The Dolphins completely thumped the Jets this past Saturday Night, led by a dominant performance of the defensive line. Miami is another team exceeding expectations and first-year head coach, Adam Gase has the Dolphins way ahead of schedule. Not too many people looked at Miami as a playoff team back in August, but a win in Buffalo could do wonders for their postseason chances. (CG)

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8-6 (Last Week: 13th)

The five-game winning streak came to an end Sunday night, as Tampa Bay (Jameis) turned the ball over four times and their pass rush couldn’t get past Dallas’ offensive line. They couldn’t get anything going on the ground, and their offensive line had a tough time trying to protect Jameis. The Bucs will have to win out if they want to make the playoffs. (CH)

15. Tennessee Titans 8-6 (Last Week: 17th)

I hate to say I called it but I did…kinda. In last week’s rankings I mentioned that a win over the Chiefs wouldn’t be easy but crazier things have happened and guess who came knocking this weekend? That’s right, Captain Crazy as the Titans pulled the road upset in a game where they definitely weren’t at their best. While Marcus Mariota had a great day through the air, he failed to find the end zone but if you had DeMarco Murray on your fantasy team you know that rookie/former Heisman winner Derrick Henry vultured two TDs on the ground. Fantasy talk aside, this W puts the Titans on a collision course with the Texans to end the regular season but first they’ll need to beat a pesky Jaguar team on Saturday. (JA)

16. Washington Redskins 7-6-1 (Last Week: 12th)

The Redskins struggled mightily, especially on defense in their loss to the Panthers on Monday Night Football. Aside from the monster contract that brought Josh Norman to town, the negligence of improving the defensive personnel was on full display. The offensive is explosive, but the defense will likely be the reason that Washington misses out on the playoffs. (CG)

17, Houston Texans 8-6 (Last Week: 18th)

Last week I suggested that if Osweiler-Hopkins connection could pick up steam the Texans could find themselves in the playoffs. Too bad I forget that Osweiler’s nickname is “The Sock” and he’s the worst squandering of NFL money since Albert Haynesworth. For Houston fan’s sake, Sock was finally pulled after two INTs in place for Tom Savage (No relation to Macho Man) who did just enough to keep the Texans from being upset at home by the Jaguars. A win next weekend over the Bengals would leave Houston with a 7-1 home record for the year. (JA)

18. Buffalo Bills 7-7 (Last Week: 21st)

While Rex Ryan may be a dead man walking, the Bills remain a team with a lot of fight and a good chance at a winning record. They took care of the lowly Browns, led by another strong rushing performance by Lesean McCoy. Next up is their division foe, the Dolphins, in what should be a cold weather game that should provide an advantage for Buffalo. (CG)

19. Indianapolis Colts 7-7 (Last Week: 25th)

The Colts are coming off their most impressive win of the season, dominating the Vikings in Minnesota 34-6. Despite looking horrible for many parts of the season, Indy now is in position to sneak in the playoffs. In addition to needing help from the opponents of the Texans and Titans over the next couple weeks, they now face a very tough test when they travel to Oakland this coming Saturday. (CG)

20. Minnesota Vikings 7-7 (Last Week: 16th)

The Vikings are coming off an embarrassing home loss to the Colts, falling 34-6. It was a game where not a single thing went right. Barring a miracle, Minnesota will likely miss the playoffs. With each loss, especially those with anemic offensive performances, you have to wonder if the front office is regretting the trade they made for Sam Bradford. (CG)

21. Carolina Panthers 6-8 (Last Week: 24th)

After being bludgeoned by the Seahawks, the Panthers seem to have found a rhythm but it might be too late. They will need to win out with some outside help, or they could tank and get a high draft pick – they are no doubt in a sort of purgatory right now. The good news is they end their season against the Falcons and Bucs, the two teams who stand between them and any playoff hope. (CH)

22. New Orleans Saints 6-8 (Last Week: 26th)

New Orleans finished their season sweep of the NFC West, giving one of their best performances against the statistically-top defense. Brandin Cooks had the best game of his career, and Tim Hightower scored two touchdowns to Mark Ingram’s displeasure. The Saints return home to face the Bucs on Christmas Eve. (CH)

23. Cincinnati Bengals 5-8-1 (Last Week: 20th)

Coming off two consecutive weeks of finding TE Tyler Eifert in the end zone or as his bailout option, Andy Dalton struggled without his newest favorite target Eifert, who was out with an injury. This led to more targets for WR Brandon LaFell and RB Rex Burkhead. The effects of not having your favorite pass catchers have taken a toll on Dalton and with his shortcomings the losses start to build up. With one head coach being fired before the season’s over, you’ve got to imagine Marvin Lewis is feeling some heat from the front office. (JA)

24. Arizona Cardinals 5-8-1 (Last Week: 19th)

The lone bright spot for this team this season has been David Johnson. On Sunday, he broke the NFL record with 14 consecutive 100 yard games. DJ has already surpassed 1,000 rushing yards and is only 200 yards shy of 1,000 receiving yards. He would be the 3rd player in history to accomplish this, joining Marshall Faulk and Roger Craig. The Cardinals travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks Saturday. (DH)

25. Philadelphia Eagles 5-9 (Last Week: 23rd)

The Eagles lost their fifth straight game when they fell to the Ravens in Baltimore 27-26. The defense has regressed each week in another game with multiple big plays given up to the opposition. While Philly looks to have their QB of the future in Carson Wentz, there are a lot of flaws on the roster that will need to be addressed this coming offseason. (CG)

26. San Diego Chargers 5-9 (Last Week: 22nd)

The Chargers are coming off a tough 19-16 loss to the Raiders that clinched a losing season for San Diego. The Chargers have been one of the more frustrating teams in 2016, considering seven of their losses have been by a touchdown or less. Despite a 5-9 record, San Diego has not been an easy out for anyone this year. But that also makes this year that much more of a disappointment. (CG)

27. Chicago Bears 3-11 (Last Week: 27th)

Despite sitting at 3-11, the Bears have been playing very tough over the past couple weeks. In consecutive games, Chicago has suffered three-point losses to the Lions and Packers. Matt Barkley has exceeded expectations and wish each strong performance, the possibility of him being the long-term starter is becoming more palpable. (CG)

28. New York Jets 4-10 (Last Week: 28th)

The Jets have now been embarrassed in their past two home games, losing by a combined score of 75-23. Despite winning 10 games in 2015, the Jets have been a major disappointment this season. It doesn’t get much easier for New York as they travel to New England in Week 16. (CG)

29. Los Angeles Rams 4-10 (Last Week: 29th)

The Rams lost another uninspiring contest to Seattle Thursday dropping their record to 4-10. Rumors are that LA is courting John Gruden as the next Head Coach. A possible great fit for that defense and the development of Jared Goff. The Rams host the 49ers on Saturday.  (DH)

30. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-12 (Last Week: 30th)

It was another long day for Jacksonville with the offense sputtering through another Sunday that ended with a loss. Once again the Jags came close to pulling off an upset; this time against the Texans and they blew it. What they didn’t blow however was compassion and regard for family during the holidays as they fired HC Gus Bradley after the loss. Management claimed the firing needed to take place ASAP and it would give Gus a chance to focus on family with Christmas on the horizon. At least he was able to fly home on the team plane (ahem, Lane Kiffin). (JA)

31. San Francisco 49ers 1-13 (Last Week: 31st)

San Fran lost its 13 straight contest to Atlanta on Sunday. San Francisco started the season with a victory against the LA Rams and are traveling to Los Angeles Saturday. Lets see if the 49ers can go 2-0 against the Rams and 0-14 against the rest of the NFL. (DH)

32. Cleveland Browns 0-14 (Last Week: 32nd)

Two games. That’s how many opportunities remain for the Browns to pick up at least one win before their season’s over and they can focus on screwing up another draft. Their most recent opportunity fell short in a 33-13 loss to the Bills where RG3 carried the team as best he could with his given tools. He scored Cleveland’s lone touchdown on the day with a run in the 3rd quarter. If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend searching the internet for the “Owen 16” jersey. Very clever. (JA)

 

Photo Credit: http://www.denverpost.com/2016/12/19/photos-denver-broncos-new-england-patriots-week-15/

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Players Who Sucked This Week

Football

Greg Ward Jr threw four interceptions and accumulated zero rushing yards on 22 carries. The Herman-less Cougars got destroyed by San Diego State to end their season. What a disappointing way to end a once-promising year.

UCF nor Arkansas State could run against each other, both averaging less than a yard per carry. Central Michigan couldn’t do much of anything against Tulsa, getting blown out of the Miami waters 55-10.

Petty & the Jets could be a rempettyake of an Elton John classic, just a really bad one. His game ended with a crushing 1-2 punch thanks to his offensive line not even trying to do their job.  

The Vikings were blown out at home against a horrible Colts team. AP’s return was anything but great, gaining 22 yards after they fell behind early.

 

Hockey

Jaroslav Halak played in just one game, and that’s about all his fans wanted to see. Thomas Greiss was also a one-and-done, allowing five goals to the Blackhawks last Thursday. Jean Francois-Berube started in two games, and lost them both. You know what these guys have in common besides playing awful the last week? They’re all on the Islanders.

islanders

Ryan Miller lost two of his three starts, averaging 4 goals against per game. Jake Allen started three of the Blues four games this week, and they rightfully went to Hutton in last night’s game after Allen also averaged four goals against in each.

Jimmy Howard has lost his last four starts, and his last two have ended 1-4. Frustrations continued as their Monday night game against the Wild was postponed.

Roberto Luongo gave up too many goals in his two starts, losing both on the road.

Chad Johnson is not to be confused with the former outspoken NFL player, but they both have a problem blocking. This Chad gave up 4 goals in each start and is still the top goaltender for the Flames (because that Brian Elliott guy ain’t better).

 

Basketball

Jake Layman leads the list as the worst shooter of the week – he missed all 10 field goal a

"Don't miss, don't miss, don't miss..."

“Don’t miss, don’t miss, don’t miss…”

ttempts, seven being from 3-point range. And he made 1 of 2 free throws. No wonder he sits the bench.

Isaiah Canaan missed all three-point attempts, and went 3-14 overall from the field.

Denzel Valentine played like a rookie, going 4-15 from the field. But he did make all four free throw attempts; maybe he should draw more fouls? Aaron Brooks missed all six three-point attempts, and nearly fouled out in only 17 minutes of play against the Heat last Wednesday.

DeAndre Liggins must’ve lost his confidence after playing the Grizzlies twice, because he didn’t even attempt a shot against the Lakers. Which might’ve been a good thing because they won that one.

Darren Collison was quite atrocious shooting from the floor, missing 23 of 30 shots (6 of 7 3-pointers missed).

Mike Conley is rusty since coming off an injury, that’s for sure. His FG% was .217, he made 1 of 12 3-point attempts, and went 11-16 at the free throw line. I’m still baffled by his huge salary.

Some question marks should be added to those dolla bills.

Some question marks should be added to those dolla bills.

Players Who Sucked Again

rams

The Rams return for the fourth straight week! Now they did play at Seattle which is always tough, but this team is so bad. Not sure how much change firing Fisher will bring, but we won’t know til next year. At least they’re better than the Browns.

Brock Osweiler was finally benched after terrible play, and replaced by Tom Savage who led the Texans to a comeback win over the Jags. I wonder how much they regret overpaying him.

Pekka Rinne might’ve redeemed himself last night, but his first two performances of the week are good enough for me to put him in this lovable category. Calvin Pickard couldn’t do enough to get a win, losing all three starts with a 3.3 goal against average in that span. Anton Khudobin played in just one game again, and sucked, again. He’s having his worst year by far. Welcome back boys!

Andrew Harrison continues to be a regular on my list, after having an up-and-down week. He would follow up a decent game with a horrible one and continues to lack consistency. Fouling out in back to back games (Dec 14 & 16) doesn’t help his professional cause either.

 

Dishonorable Mentions

There were a few questionable calls by the NFL refs on Sunday. OBJ is so good, that refs called this a catch. Ed Hochuli is the most well-known referee, but even he is prone to making mistakes.

Meet Ed the Shred. Even he makes mistakes.

Meet Ed the Shred. Even he makes mistakes.

Matt Barkley put up a fight against the Packers, but turned the ball over in 4 consecutive drives. The first was meaningless, as it ended the first half. But he started the second half with a fumble, then back to back picks, all which turned into 17 Green Bay points. His attempt at a comeback fell just short.

John Gibson started the week off horribly, but bounced back in last night’s road win against the Maple Leafs.

Trevor Booker shot .250/.250/.444 (FG/3PT/FT) over his last three games, averaging 30 MPG. Eight fouls and six turnovers add to his not-so-hot week. Dario Saric also had a FG% of .250, but shot under .200 from long range and almost fouled out in one game.

Why did Jordan Reed even play this week? He was ineffective against the Panthers, was in obvious pain throughout the game, then was ejected for throwing a punch.

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

Stats week of 12/13-19

Photo Credits:
http://l.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/FIvIdCx3U1QgIYUwWSPrOg–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9ODAw/http://media.zenfs.com/en/homerun/feed_manager_auto_publish_494/8d39fe0e54d21e62c97c396f8d15704e
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http://www.trbimg.com/img-5526964e/turbine/bal-maryland-jake-layman-returning-for-senior-year-20150409
http://gossiponthis.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/mike-conley-money.jpg
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http://www.sportspickle.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/a781ba9a19d45d93c20db83bf13bf89a.jpg

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Week 15 NFL Power Rankings

1. New England Patriots 11-2 (Last Week: 2nd)

Tom Brady went off for 406 yards and three TDs in a stellar performance against Baltimore. A win like that against a tough team was exactly what New England needed. A tough test against Denver is next as the Patriots look to cruise on to a high playoff seed and yet another division crown. (AD)

2. Dallas Cowboys 11-2 (Last Week: 1st)

The Dallas winning streak was finally snapped by the only team to defeat the Cowboys this season. Sunday Night Football was a rematch of the Week 1 game when the Giants won in Dallas. The New York defense made Dak Prescott finally look like a rookie, something all other teams have failed to do during the 11-game win streak. The Cowboys return home for their second straight Sunday Night game to face the red-hot Bucs. (CG)

3. Kansas City Chiefs 10-3 (Last Week: 4th)

The Chiefs did what needed to be done to beat the Raiders last week to take lead in the division.  They create turnovers at the best rate in the league, and rarely turn the ball over themselves.  It has been an unorthodox recipe for success, but who can argue after winning 20 of their last 23 games. (CJ)

4. Oakland Raiders 10-3 (Last Week: 3rd)

The Raider train finally hit a speed bump after losing the division lead in a head to head matchup with the Chiefs.  Derek Carr was awful, and there has been plenty of speculation whether that was because of the matchup, temperature, or lingering finger issue.  They still have a solid lead for a wildcard spot, and look to get the train back on track this week in San Diego.  (CJ)

5. Pittsburgh Steelers 8-5 (Last Week: 7th)

What’s that? Your QB threw three INTs and may have earned negative points for your fantasy team? Welcome to the life of a Steeler’s fan who also draft Big Ben on their fantasy team. Let’s be real, Roethlisberger was awful this weekend in a win vs Buffalo and the only reason Pittsburgh pulled out the W is due to Le’Veon Bell. He was the epitome of ”putting the team on his back” rushing 38 times for 236 yds and 3 TDs. Stud. Win two of the next three and the Steelers are in the playoffs. (JA)

6. Seattle Seahawks 8-4-1 (Last Week: 5th)

Seattle got blown in Lambeau and showed the world just how important home field advantage is to them. Seattle has dropped two of the last three games and Russel Wilson did not look like himself on Sunday. Despite these factors, Seattle is still one of the most dangerous teams in the NFC. It will be crucial to play well down the stretch to grasp home field advantage. The Hawks take on the Jeff Fisher-less Rams on Thursday. (DH)

7. Detroit Lions 9-4 (Last Week: 8th)

The Lions against the Giants is turning out to be the game of the week. It’s time to believe the Lions are real. Everytime they are doubted, they win. I doubt they will beat the Giants this week. Does that mean the Lions will win again? (ZW)

8. New York Giants 9-4 (Last Week: 10th)

The enormous financial investment in upgrading the defense this past offseason is really paying dividends, especially after a 10-7 victory over the Cowboys. Even without Jason Pierre-Paul, the New York defense suffocated the Cowboys and their elite offensive line. The Giants now have a stranglehold on a playoff spot, with an outside chance of winning the NFC East. (CG)

9. Denver Broncos 8-5 (Last Week: 6th)

The Broncos lost a surprisingly defensive struggle against the Tennessee Titans 13-10 this past week.  That game had to be considered a near must win for Denver, as they were already sitting on the playoff bubble.  They face the Patriots (11-2), Chiefs (10-3), and Raiders (10-3) to end the season.  My personal belief is that they are too one dimensional to win enough of those games to make the wildcard. (CJ)

10. Atlanta Falcons 8-5 (Last Week: 9th)

Atlanta traveled to Los Angeles and pulverized the Rams. Their defense, which has been a major weak point, scored two touchdowns and forced five turnovers. Matt Ryan is having his best year thus far and solidifying his case as the NFC South MVP. They should manhandle the 49ers at home this Sunday. (CH)

11. Green Bay Packers 7-6 (Last Week: 13th)

Seattle got wrecked! The Packers can be explosive but man did they demolish the Seahawks, who also happen to be one of the more elite teams in the NFL. Rodgers is hot and there’s no other QB you want hot late in the season than Rodgers. With an easy game in Chicago, look for the Pack to make a wild card run. (ZW)

12. Washington Redskins 7-5-1 (Last Week: 11th)

The Redskins are coming off a gritty win in Philadelphia, thanks to big plays in the air delivered by Kirk Cousins. The multitude of offensive weapons was overwhelming for the Eagles defense and could present matchup problems for teams down the stretch and in the postseason if Washington secures a spot. Cousins has earned himself a long-term contract with the Redskins and realistically the next $100 million man. (CG)

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8-5 (Last Week: 14th)

Another impressive defensive performance gives the Bucs their fifth straight win – something not done since 2002. Will they win the Super Bowl similar to that year? Doubtful, but they are giving fans hope of a playoff run. Here’s a crazy stat: Jameis Winston went without a touchdown for the first time since high school. (CH)

14. Baltimore Ravens 7-6 (Last Week: 12th)

Coming off an impressive win over the Dolphins, there was hope the Ravens could go into Foxboro and possibly pull the upset against the Patriots. But the Patriots still have Tom Brady and his clutch gene that Joe Flacco simply does not possess. New England all but eliminated the Ravens ground attack and forced Flacco to try and beat them through the air, resulting in him tossing the ball over 50 times. The team MVP Justin Tucker actually missed a FG attempt but still remains the Ravens best offensive weapon. The Ravens came up just short but should see some success vs the Eagles on Sunday. (JA)

15. Miami Dolphins 8-5 (Last Week: 15th)

The loss of Ryan Tannehill will be very significant for a team fighting for the playoffs. A tough stretch against divisional foes is all that remains for Miami. If they can hang on with their running game and win two of three, this could very well be a playoff team. Either way, it’s a been a positive step forward. (AD)

16. Minnesota Vikings 7-6 (Last Week: 16th)

The best way to get a win is the play the Browns, the 49ers, or the Jags. The Vikings got the Jags this time. Next week is the Colts and another must win game if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive. (ZW)

17. Tennessee Titans 7-6 (Last Week: 19th)

Coming off a bye, the Titans were well rested enough to pull off the upset over the Broncos. However the bye week left the offense looking a little rusty vs Denver’s defense as Tennessee only totaled 253 yards of total offense. Credit the Titans D though for forcing two turnovers and shutting down the Broncos run game on the nine attempts they made during the game. A win vs the Chiefs won’t be easy but crazier things have happened this season. (JA)

18. Houston Texans 7-6 (Last Week: 17th)

After a week of failing to find any running room against the Packers, the Texans found the Colts defense much easier to run on with Lamar Miller carving up the Indy D. The win over Colts kept the Texans in playoff contention, but still tied with the Titans in the division. If the Osweiler-Hopkins connection can pick up steam in the next 3 games, the Texans could find themselves in the playoffs. Lose to Jacksonville on Sunday and the road gets that much harder. (JA)

19. Arizona Cardinals 5-7-1 (Last Week: 18th)

The playoff dreams were left on the soggy field in Miami on Sunday. Special Teams disappoints yet again and Special Teams Coordinator, Amos Jones, needs to be put on the chopping block. The Cardinals stand to lose a lot of talent in 2017 due to free agency.  Steve Keim will have to be on his “A” game to make this personnel relevant again. (DH)

20. Cincinnati Bengals 5-7-1 (Last Week: 21st)

While it wasn’t a complete beat down, the Bengals were clearly the better team on Sunday finishing up a sweep of the Browns on the season. Even though he only threw for 180 yards, Andy Dalton was the premier “game-manager” you look for in a QB when you’re simply trying not to lose. No turnovers and two TDs can be considered a good game for Dalton who was once again without leading WR AJ Green. The return of TE Tyler Eifert has given Cincinnati a second reliable target with Green out and one may wonder how they would have fared if he was healthy all season. (JA)

21. Buffalo Bills 6-7 (Last Week: 20th)

Reports are out saying that Rex Ryan is all but done in Buffalo. A nice stretch in the middle of the year could not be sustained as they find themselves 6-7. A lack of improvement in any facet could bring an offseason full of change for the Bills. (AD)

22. San Diego Chargers 5-8 (Last Week: 22nd)

The Charges are having an abysmal season from a health perspective, and that continued Sunday losing both rookie bright spot Joey Bosa and second year breakout running back Melvin Gordon to injuries.  The rumor mill is beginning to churn in San Diego, as news of an impending move are starting to trickle down to both players and beat reporters. (CJ)

23. Philadelphia Eagles 5-8 (Last Week: 23rd)

The warts of the Eagles became even more visible in their fourth straight loss, as their defense struggled to stop the high-powered Redskins’ offense. It was one of the best games in a long time for Carson Wentz, who was leading a promising game-winning drive late, before being stripped by Ryan Kerrigan, which iced the game. Philadelphia is virtually eliminated from playoff contention, but will try to snap its skid this Sunday afternoon in Baltimore. (CG)

24. Carolina Panthers 5-8 (Last Week: 26th)

Their season might be just about over, but they looked like the 2015 Panthers thanks to a huge defensive game against the Chargers. A Monday night matchup with the Redskins is next on their agenda, and Kuechly could make a return. (CH)

25. Indianapolis Colts 6-7 (Last Week: 25th)

In a game Indianapolis needed to pull even or potentially take the lead in the AFC South, they couldn’t put the Texans away. Sunday’s loss was the continuation of a trend we’ve seen all season with the Colts. Stay competitive early then attempt a comeback in the fourth quarter only to fall short. Andrew Luck wasn’t the same accurate gunslinger we saw last week and his combined three turnovers only make matters worse. Back to back road games await Indy as the season winds down. (JA)

26. New Orleans Saints 5-8 (Last Week: 24th)

The NFL’s top offense looked mortal for a second straight week behind a poor performance from Drew Brees. The Saints’ playoff chances are all but over now so they can just pad their stats and help fantasy owners for the next three weeks. They will look for revenge against the Bucs on Christmas Eve. (CH)

27. Chicago Bears 3-10 (Last Week: 28th)

The Bears are keeping things competitive but they just never come out on top. That’s what happens when you start Matt Barkley at QB anddon’t have Alshon Jeffrey. Chicago fans should hope to lose the rest of the way so they can grab whatever QB they desire in the draft. Another loss looms next week against the hot Packers. (ZW)

28. New York Jets 4-9 (Last Week: 29th)

A solid comeback win against the 49ers saw Bilal Powell and Robby Anderson step up as offensive weapons. Bryce Petty looks like a gunslinger, although very inconsistent. Several practice squadders have been called up as the injuries pile on and new faces get opportunities. This Jet team may have a shot against a Matt Moore led Dolphin team this week. (AD)

29. Los Angeles Rams 4-9 (Last Week: 27th)

Jeff Fisher was fired and now I don’t have anything to talk about…Hopefully Les Snead is next… (DH)

30. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-11 (Last Week: 30th)

First off, I wanna give props to Blake Bortles for not turning the ball over in a loss to the Vikings. With an opportunistic Vikings defense, the Jaguars taking care of the ball kept this game from getting out of hand. A highly rated draft class last year wasn’t enough to help the Jaguars over the hump this year but with a top 10 pick assured at the moment, perhaps in 2017 Jacksonville will right the ship. (JA)

31. San Francisco 49ers 1-12 (Last Week: 31st)

San Fran lets another lead slip through their fingers and the losing streak is now at 12. Chip Kelley’s future is on thin ice and if San Fran loses out, I think Chip will be swimming with the fishes. On the bright side, Carlos Hyde has been running like a wild-man and appears to be the piece to build a unit around. (DH)

32. Cleveland Browns 0-13 (Last Week: 32nd)

With their original starting QB back in the lineup after getting injured in Week One, there was hope that the Browns may be able to pull an upset over in state rival Cincinnati. Nope. Even the return of RG3 wasn’t enough to spark Cleveland into a competitive game. The Browns play the Bills next in one of their final three opportunities to pick up win #1 on the season. (JA)

Photo Credit: http://www.sfgate.com/49ers/article/Patriots-beat-Ravens-with-defense-Tom-Brady-s-10792399.php

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Players Who Sucked This Week

A bunch of quarterbacks and goaltenders make this week’s list. I could give credit to the defenses and opposing skaters they faced, but this list is to bash those who couldn’t do their job. Let’s get started with poor quarterback play.

Football

Russell Wilson threw a career-high 5 interceptions, even though a couple of those tip drills weren’t his fault. Drew Brees threw 3 interceptions for the second straight week, a first in his career. Derek Carr has a bright future as the franchise quarterback of the Raiders, but he was terrible on Thursday night. Philip Rivers turned the ball over 5 times, making Panthers’ fans happy. Ben Roethlisberger is sure glad LeVeon Bell came to play, because he threw three balls to the defense. Marcus Mariota played as expected against the top passing defense. Three guys who don’t fit the ‘star’ role were just as bad: Robert Griffin III, Brock Osweiler and Jared Goff.

wilson-romo-meme

The Broncos’ lack of running contributed to their low-scoring loss, and Forsett still sucks.

Devonta Freeman angered his fantasy owners, managing just 18 yards on 8 touches. What a way to follow up back to back 2-touchdown games.

Dez Bryant saved his worse performance (on-field and fantasy) for the most important game of the season to date. Two balls thrown his way became interceptions and he coughed up a fumble on the only one he caught. Screamin’ Stephen had some passionate words for his performance.

dez-catch

Hockey

Pekka Rinne let up 11 goals in three starts, losing two of them and being pulled during a 2-5 loss to Dallas.

Semyon Varlamov and Calvin Pickard combined to allow 10 goals to the Canadiens on Saturday. Varlamov was also pretty bad in Tuesday’s loss to the Predators.

avalanche-suck

Ben Bishop returns to the list, making this the third consecutive week a Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender makes my list. He was pulled in front of his home crowd after allowing 4 goals in two periods against the Canucks. Jeff Zatkoff faced only 18 shots, but could only save 15 in his team’s loss to the Hurricanes last Thursday. Jonas Gustavsson out-sucked Steve Mason in a Thursday night loss to the Flyers, giving up 6 goals to Mason’s 5.

Mike Condon started his week off well, but lost both games over the weekend when facing less than 20 shots each time.

Cory Schneider might’ve beat the Canucks, but fell off the next two games by giving up 5 goals in each. Keith Kincaid proved why he’s the Devils’ backup in Friday night’s loss to the Blues. You could say it was not a good week for the Devils, who sunk closer to the bottom in the Eastern Conference.

Tis the season.

‘Tis the season.

Tuukka Rask might’ve redeemed himself last night against the Canadiens, but it won’t make up for his atrocious performances in his previous two games. His teammate Anton Khudobin joins him, losing at home to the Avalanche last Thursday.

Mike Smith had an up-and-down week trying to block shots for the Coyotes, losing two games in regulation and allowing 11 goals over 4 starts. Louis Domingue wasn’t much better in relief during last night’s 7-0 blowout to the Penguins.

Stats week of 12/6-12

Basketball

Manu Ginobili was atrocious shooting the ball; he made only 1 shot on 14 attempts (a three-pointer). He also committed three turnovers, equaling the amount of points he scored. Andrew Harrison shot .166 from the floor and missed all ten three-point attempts. I grouped him with Manu because not only do they have the worst FG% of the list, they made my list two articles ago. Power couple right here.

manu-ginobili-spurs-talk          arkansasvkentuckytvyqbqrnlskl

Frank Kaminsky also couldn’t shoot to save his job no matter where he shot the ball, and looks to be having a sophomore slump.

Dragan Bender has a cool name and likes to shoot da three, but he didn’t make many (1 for 9). Troy Daniels should also reconsider shooting from the beyond the arc, as he went 3 for 18.

That's what I'm sayin'!

That’s what I’m sayin’!

Jonathan Gibson almost had as many fouls (4) as points (7) this past week, and shot .176 from the field. Shabazz Muhammad didn’t shoot much better (.188 FG% and 55% FT). Roy Hibbert shot better than both (.214 FG%), but committed more fouls (9).

Ish Smith had an off week playing in his last four games. Outside of his Friday night performance against the T-Wolves he was just, well, off his game.

Stats week of 12/6-12

Players Who Sucked Again

The Rams did it again. For the third time in a row! Only this time was in front of their home crowd, and to a defense that is known to not be very good. Jeff Fisher is now tied with Dan Reeves for the most losses in NFL coaching history. It only took 5 awful seasons, and three horrendous consecutive weeks, for the Rams to fire him.

Dickerson is one of many people happy that Fisher is gone.

Dickerson is one of many people happy that Fisher is gone.

Dishonorable Mentions

Cam Ward had two bad games, and one good win. He allowed 4.5 goals per game in his two losses, but wasn’t completely bad when he helped beat the Kings 3-1 last Thursday.

Petr Mrazek allowed 3 goals in both games he started, but came up big last Tuesday to win in a shootout against the Jets.

Dante Exum did not average very well over his last three games, but was especially bad against the Warriors last Thursday (1-11 FG, 4 fouls).

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

Photo Credits:
http://sportige.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Wilson-Romo-meme-e1413212871327.jpg
https://img.ifcdn.com/images/1eddf9a2a3a14108424628ab762e6972224af4761dce2e6897fdaf1e7ace6f6c_1.jpg
http://s2.quickmeme.com/img/88/884ed95607b73e25da9b04da4652042437ce7f8e368f35233dc0859215638ac2.jpg
http://www.unsportsmanlike-conduct.com/uploads/3/9/1/5/39153357/9107364_orig.jpg
http://clutchpoints.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Manu-Ginobili-Spurs-Talk.jpg
http://www1.pictures.zimbio.com/gi/Arkansas+v+Kentucky+TvyqbqrnlSkl.jpg
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http://images.performgroup.com/di/library/omnisport/4f/32/eric-dickerson-121216-usnews-getty-ftr_9kx6lwxzchv91kgs4mn3upfp4.jpg?t=-184431448&w=960&quality=70

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Week 14 NFL Power Rankings

1. Dallas Cowboys 11-1 (Last Week: 1st)

It was looking like the Cowboys’ win streak would finally come to an end last Thursday Night in Minnesota. The Vikings looked in control late in the game, but the Dallas defense made a big stop on a two-point conversion attempt by the Vikings. Next up is Sunday Night Football at the Giants, the only team in the NFL to deliver Dallas a loss. (CG)

2. New England Patriots 10-2 (Last Week: 2nd)

The loss of Gronk for the year will be tough for the Patriots, no doubt. They did fare well against the Rams, using the short passing game and a solid ground effort. This isn’t the dominant Patriots we’ve seen before, but a deep playoff run should be expected for the elite franchise of the NFL. (AD)

3. Oakland Raiders 10-2 (Last Week: 3rd)

This year’s NFL Cinderella story now sits 10-2 for the home stretch of the regular season.  The combination of heroics in the fourth quarter from Derek Carr and Khalil Mack have been lethal.  Despite their incredible run, a loss in Kansas City this Thursday would cost them the division lead.  A win likely seals it. (CJ)

4. Kansas City Chiefs 9-3 (Last Week: 4th)

The Chiefs survived an early offensive onslaught in Atlanta this past week and ended up sealing the second NFL win of the season on an extra point returned for two (New Orleans had the first).  This team finds alternative ways to win and have left themselves in a position to take hold of the division against the Raiders at home on Thursday Night Football. (CJ)

5. Seattle Seahawks 8-3-1 (Last Week: 6th)

Seattle bounced back well after a loss to Tampa Bay with a dominating performance against Carolina. The offense looked explosive and the defense held Cam Newton to 182 yards. The defense sustained a huge injury with Earl Thomas breaking his leg. Even with the injury, Seattle looks poised to make a run at the Super Bowl yet again. (DH)

6. Denver Broncos 8-4 (Last Week: 5th)

The Broncos survived their week 13 matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars despite a very… rookie-esque performance from Paxton Lynch.  They hope to have Siemian back this week’s matchup against a surprisingly good Titans squad.  They need every win they can get to close out this season as its starting to feel like they are on the outside of the playoffs looking in these past few weeks. (CJ)

7. Pittsburgh Steelers 7-5 (Last Week: 9th)

When the Steelers are on, they’re on. Both sides of the ball were hitting on all cylinders as the Steelers earned an impressive victory over a strong Giants team 24-14. While Le’Veon Bell was once again a stud running the ball, the Pittsburgh defense deserves a lot of praise for keeping the Giants offense out of the end zone and picking off Eli Manning twice. A three game win streak has the Steelers thinking playoffs with a critical matchup vs the Ravens in two weeks. (JA)

8. Detroit Lions 8-4 (Last Week: 11th)

Jim Bob Cooter deserves a raise. Not only does he have Matt Stafford as a top-three QB since he took over mid last year, he wins without his top wide-out, Marvin Jones! Who are these Lions? With their next game being the Bears, the Lions can be 9-4 and almost guarantee their spot in the playoffs. (ZW)

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

Atlanta pulled off the impossible, essentially losing the game on a two-point conversion when Eric Berry picked off Matt Ryan. Of course in hindsight this was a costly call, but it would’ve given them a three point lead. They currently are hanging onto the top spot in the NFC South, and will look to improve on that lead when they head out west to take on the Rams. (CH)

10. New York Giants 8-4 (Last Week: 8th)

After six straight wins, albeit against inferior competition, the Giants came up short at Pittsburgh this past Sunday. New York struggled to slow down the potent Steelers offense as they dropped to 8-4. The Giants are still in great position to lock up an NFC Wild Card spot, but face a tough challenge on Sunday Night Football in a rematch with the Cowboys, who they defeated in Dallas back in Week 1. (CG)

11. Washington Redskins 6-5-1 (Last Week: 10th)

The Redskins are coming off a tough loss in Arizona this past Sunday afternoon, 31-23. The defense struggled with the Cardinals offense and the offense was limited, settling for field goals all too often on big drives. Washington has now slipped to 7th in the NFC Playoff Standings, but has a good chance to rebound against the spiraling Eagles. (CG)

12. Baltimore Ravens 7-5 (Last Week: 15th)

Just when everyone was high on the Dolphins and their current win streak, the Ravens welcomed the Fish from South Florida to Baltimore in rude fashion. If I can say so myself, the Ravens looked hella impressive in the 38-6 win. Joe Flacco was on fire throwing just short of 400 yards & 4 TDs and avoiding taking any sacks to the tough Miami defense. Put it this way, the Ravens were up so big in the fourth quarter, they let second string QB Ryan Mallett come in for a few series like it was a college game! A win over the Patriots on Sunday will go a long way for Ravens confidence as they look towards the playoffs. (JA)

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

Green Bay vs. Seattle. Doesn’t get much better that that QB matchup. Like the Vikings, this is a must win game and is necessary to not only potentially make the playoffs but give this team the confidence they need to make a last season run. (ZW)

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7-5 (Last Week: 17th)

A four-game win streak puts Tampa near the top of the NFC South, and into a current wild card spot. The defense continues to make plays, forcing two turnovers and returning one for a touchdown. However, kicking troubles are an area of concern as they make a playoff push. The Bucs return home to play a key division game against the Saints. (CH)

15. Miami Dolphins 7-5 (Last Week: 13th)

A rough showing against the Ravens will make it an uphill battle for the Fins to make the playoffs. With that being said, this team has made strides to be relevant and has some very nice young pieces on offense to contend for a few years. I would look for a youth movement on defense in the offseason especially if Miami does not make the playoffs. (AD)

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

Another loss, another mediocre look. Their record is who they are and not even Adrian Peterson can change that. Luckily for them, the hapless Jags come next in a must-win game to try and reach the playoffs. If they lose, well…they might start regretting the Bradford trade. (ZW)

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

The Sock showed a few glimpses of his former nickname “Glock” in a 21-13 loss to Green Bay. Osweiler surprisingly didn’t turn the ball over and happened to toss two TDs in a game the Texans let slip away in the final 15 minutes. There’s an argument to be made that if Lamar Miller or Jonathan Grimes could have found a bit more success on the ground, the Texans could’ve kept Aaron Rodgers and company off the field. The Texans now stand tied with the Titans atop the AFC South. (JA)

18. Arizona Cardinals 5-6-1 (Last Week: 21st)

The Cardinals avoided the first three game losing streak in Bruce Arians head-coaching career with a victory over the Redskins Sunday. It was a step in the right direction but the Cardinals will have to win out every game and get some help from other teams to remain in playoff contention. David Johnson continues to have an MVP season putting up his 12th consecutive 100 yard from scrimmage game. The Cardinals travel to Miami to face the Dolphins in a must-win game Sunday. (DH)

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

Much deserved bye week for the Titans in Week 13. (JA)

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

The Bills don’t seem destined for the playoffs this year after a tough loss to Oakland. Rex Ryan will do what he can to scratch out a few more wins, but the defensive effort has been underwhelming. A healthy Sammy Watkins will be a key to success going forward. (AD)

21. Cincinnati Bengals 4-7-1 (Last Week: 24th)

Achieving their fourth victory on the season, the Bengals outplayed the Eagles in every aspect of the game winning 32-14. Perhaps the biggest takeaway is completely eliminating the Eagles running game and forcing Carson Wentz to throw the ball 60 times. Yes, 60. Cincinnati cashed in on all those passes picking off Wentz three times or once every twenty attempts. Still without AJ Green, Andy Dalton continued to build rapport with other receivers and once again found TE Tyler Eifert in the end zone. Look for the Bengals to beat up on the Browns in Cleveland on Sunday. (JA)

22. San Diego Chargers 5-7 (Last Week: 22nd)

Nothing new this past week for the Chargers, who showed glimpses but ultimately faltered to a streaky Tampa Bay squad on the back of another River’s pick six.  The Bolts have been eliminated from the playoffs. (CJ)

23. Philadelphia Eagles 5-7 (Last Week: 18th)

The Eagles have now lost three straight and looked even heartless in their loss at Cincinnati than they did in the disappointing home loss to Green Bay on Monday Night Football a week earlier. The flaws in the Philadelphia roster are becoming more exposed each week and the 3-0 start is looking more and more like a tease. The Eagles are now needing to win out to have a shot at the playoffs, but the focus has likely shifted to looking ahead to 2017. (CG)

24. New Orleans Saints 5-7 (Last Week: 23rd)

Their fans and many “experts” were let down when the Saints lost at home to the Lions, and I was let down in DFS by Brees’ performance. The top NFL offense looked mortal against Detroit, who whooped them with their own offensive showcase. New Orleans will face a surging Buccaneers team next week, and need to win out if they want a shot at the playoffs. (CH)

25. Indianapolis Colts (Last Week: 27th)

After a tough loss to the Steelers last Thursday, the Colts came out of the nine day rest rejuvenated and firing hot with Andrew Luck back in the lineup. Luck was deadly accurate 79% of his passes along with four TDs. The biggest winner besides the Colts as a team from Luck’s return was TE Dwayne Allen who snagged three TDs against the Jets. Credit the Colts defense as well though, picking off both of the Jets QBs and only allowing 36 yards rushing.  With three teams tied up at 6-6 in the AFC South, Sunday’s game vs Houston could decide who makes the playoffs. (JA)

26. Carolina Panthers 4-8 (Last Week: 25th)

The Seahawks trounced Carolina on Sunday night, after the game started off horribly with a Derek Anderson interception. Cam was not the starter due to a wardrobe issue, even though he’s been wearing goofy clothes his whole career. Either way, their season is done. They should start looking forward to next year to revamp their offense and solidify the defense. (CH)

27. Los Angeles Rams 4-8 (Last Week: 26th)

Rams are 4-8 and have not had a winning season since 2008. With those results, Jeff Fisher is rewarded with a 2-year contract extension. I don’t understand it. He is a huge asshole that doesn’t win. I hope Eric Dickerson punches the trash stache right off his face.The rest of  NFL teams can rest assured that the Rams will not be relevant as long as Jeff Fisher is holding the reigns. (DH)

28. Chicago Bears 3-9 (Last Week: 30th)

Well, the Bears are bad, we know that but at least they beat the worse 49ers. Playing the Lions wont be fun as they are on a roll and the Bears are already looking at who on the team they can keep for the future and those who need to be kicked out the door. (ZW)

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

After their first true blowout and a definitive playoff elimination, I would expect a lot of changes for gang green. They are planning on starting Bryce Patty for the remainder of the season. The worst part of this team has easily been the lack of effort by the established veterans. Beyond San Francisco next week, it doesn’t look like there will be another win for New York. (AD)

30. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-10 (Last Week: 29th)

There’s no avoiding it, this was a piss poor performance by the Jaguars. Blake Bortles turned the ball over three times (two INTs/one fumble) and the offense never even sniffed the red zone till the fourth quarter in a 20-10 loss to the Broncos. Even with the Jaguars out-gaining the Broncos by 130 yards of offense and putting together a decent defensive performance, they couldn’t find a way to win. Jacksonville remains squarely in the bottom 5 of teams in the league. (JA)

31. San Francisco 49ers 1-11 (Last Week: 31st)

The losing streak continues and the QB situation is back to square one. The Niners were trounced by the Bears 26-6 and Colin Kaepernick was benched for Blaine Gabbert in the fourth quarter. This team has a ton of question marks that need to be addressed. San Fran faces off against the Jets on Sunday. (DH)

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

Can’t lose on a bye week. Congratulations Cleveland. (JA)

 

Photo Credit: http://www.newsday.com/sports/football/dallas-cowboys-vs-minnesota-vikings-nfl-pictures-1.12695116

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Players Who Sucked This Week

Football

Blake Bortles faced the toughest pass defense, and performed as statisticians predicted. He turned the ball over 3 times, including a pick-6; and with that, he now has more pick-6’s than career wins. And this is why I was mad when the Jags drafted him.

bortles-pick-6

Colin Kaepernick returns to this list after having a few solid games. In Chicago, he had more sacks than passing yards and was benched for Gabbert. The 49ers need to draft a quarterback next year.

Lamar Miller was limited a bit due to previous injuries, and should’ve stayed on the sidelines with em. He averaged 1.6 yards per carry, and caught a pass for negative yards. I guess you could blame the blizzard on the Miami native’s performance.

The Panthers’ and Dolphins defenses seem to be absent on Sunday, getting beat into the ground by the Seahawks and in the air versus the Ravens. Their offenses weren’t a whole lot better.

Sefo Liuafo had the worst game of his career by completing 23% of his passes, throwing 3 interceptions, and running for 13 yards. His Colorado Buffaloes then got trampled by the Huskies.

Dorian Brown averaged less than a yard rushing against Western Michigan. Florida’s rushing game was even more impressive, as they set an SEC championship record (for Alabama’s defense) of ZERO rushing yards.

Zach Smith was the difference in his team’s loss to West Virginia, accounting for all 4 turnovers. Caleb Evans turned the ball over 3 times, and completed 21% of his passes for 31 yard. No wonder the Warhawks lost 30-3.

Andrew Luck lit up the Jets’ defense like an early Christmas tree. This team has fallen so hard this year, and what an embarrassing way to lose at home on Monday night.

bowles

Hockey

Andrei Vasilevskiy has been a top goaltender this year, but was terrible his last two games. Much like Ben Bishop last week, he allowed 9 goals and lost both games. He was pulled against the Blues after giving up 4 goals in 21 minutes.

Antti Niemi made one appearance and was Pittsburgh’s MVP for the game – he let 5 pucks go by, including 3 in the final five minutes of play. Matt Murray performed similarly, losing 5-3 against the Islanders. Jhonas Enroth joins them as another one-and-down for the week, along with Michael Leighton. But the worst is Jonathan Bernier, whose 8 goals given up to the Flames is the worst single-game performance of the week.

Peter Budaj lost both of his decision the last 3 games, allowing 9 goals in those games. His .847 SV% is the worst of this list for goalies who started 2+ games.

Stats week of 11/29-12/5

Basketball

Matt Barnes was bad on and off the court. He shot .182 from the field, and allegedly choked a woman at a club.

Clearly he chose the thug life.

Clearly he chose the thug life.

Nik Stauskas went 4-24 shooting, committed 8 fouls, and turned the ball over 7 times. Then again, he does play for the Sixers.

Corey Brewer might be the worst shooter on this list, coming off the bench to miss 9 of 11 shots including all 6 three-point attempts. Jarell Martin had a horrible week when he didn’t shoot 3’s (.185 FG%) while committing 11 fouls. That’s not how you want bench players to perform.

Justin Hamilton plays on the Nets so it’s not like his bad play really made an impact, but .200 FG% and .143 3P% will get ya on my list.

Tony Parker didn’t play much with his bum knee, but he missed all 6 shots he took against the Magic last Tuesday while turning the ball over 4 times and having 3 fouls. He wasn’t much better Monday night against the Bucks.

Paul Pierce is an old man, and it’s showing in his game. In addition to poor shooting, he nearly fouled out in 2 of the 4 games he played in this week.

Stats week of 11/29-12/5

Players Who Sucked Again

JR Smith gave a wide open layup to his opponent so he could hug Jason Terry. Wait, what? That has to be a first. See it here.

The Rams performed terribly (again) against the Patriots. And Fisher couldn’t find his challenge flag because he got too many pockets to sift through.

fisher-sucks

Kent Bazemore still shot way too much for his inaccurate self. He should’ve taken last week’s advice and pass the ball, but nooo this man just has to miss shots. Welcome to my prestigious club!

Ten bucks says he misses.

Ten bucks says he misses.

Dishonorable Mentions

Pekka Rinne played great against the Avalanche last Tuesday, but blew it against the Devils on Saturday. Jake Allen should have lost his start against the Lightning, but that Vasilevskiy guy beat him to the punch. (That was an odd pun)

What the heck was that field goal attempt Josh Lambo? At least the announcer was nice about it.

Dorian Finney-Smith loves shooting three pointers. But when you miss all your shots in half your weekly games, you should probably go practice. Or you gonna make this list.

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

Photo Credits:
https://www.facebook.com/BlackAdamSchefter/photos/a.408613425901711.1073741828.408320822597638/1213303732099339/?type=3&theater
https://www.facebook.com/bleacherreport/photos/a.10150274478951006.330140.7331091005/10154573241781006/?type=3&theater
http://www.nbaitalianews.it/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/matt-barnes.jpg
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MLB Avoided a Lockout When it Needed to the Most

Last Wednesday Night, the MLB Player’s Association and Major League Baseball agreed to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The deal came together right before the December 1st deadline, avoiding a potential lockout. It’s a new five year deal that should aid the growth of baseball over the next few years.

kg-1The significance of the timely agreement cannot be overstated. Most sports fans yawn when the sports news shifts to the updates on labor agreements and disputes. As important as this element of sports may be, it’s more than an appropriate reaction, considering people turn to sports for entertainment and an escape from real life. Generally the CBA jargon and sports business discussion can bring us right back to the day-to-day that fans are trying to get away from for a few hours when they sit down to enjoy a game.

In this case, the agreement of the new CBA is something for all baseball fans to celebrate.The celebration has little to do with the specific changes, such as the All Star Game no longer determining home field advantage in the World Series. Sure, the players have to be pretty psyched about the luxury tax increase, thus driving up the salaries. But the best thing to come out of the new CBA right before the deadline may be that baseball will avoid facing its first interruption in 22 years.

The last Major League Baseball strike took place in 1994, consequently cancelling the World Series. For most of the 20th century, baseball dominated the sports landscape in the United States, thus why it has been referred to as “America’s Pastime”. The sad reality is that the 1994 strike drove several fans away from baseball, and many have not completely come back to restore their loyalty to the first sport they loved.

600Baseball experienced a resurgence in 1998 during the home run chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. The country was on the edge of their seat as they watched these power hitters chase Roger Maris’ record of 61 home runs he hit in 1961. It was long-considered the most sacred record in sports. Both hitters broke the 37-year-old record, with McGwire hitting 70 and Sosa hitting 66 home runs in 1998. It was an exciting, can’t-miss spectacle that had sports fans enthralled by baseball again.

Just three seasons later, Barry Bonds broke the record by hitting 73 home runs in 2001. As captivating as these home run chases were, it only took a few years to muddy these historic performances with the revelation of steroid use by Bonds, Sosa, McGwire and several additional high-profile players who were once considered future members of Cooperstown. It was an ugly episode in American sports, as it escalated to court hearings at Capitol Hill.

alg-roger-jpgThese hearings being broadcast on television, most notably Roger Clemens lying to a grand jury, were every bit as detrimental to fan support as the 1994 strike. It is somewhat of a paradox that the PED use that led to the home run potency and newfound fan interest is what ultimately pushed fans away again.

As baseball began declining again, the NFL rose to become the leader in the American sports landscape, with the NBA also taking advantage of its opportunity to pass MLB in the popularity standings. For the past few years, there has not been much argument of the hierarchy of professional sports.

The pace of the game, a separate issue, has certainly not helped in the modern “need for constant action and stimulation” world facilitated by cell phone addiction and DVR’s allowing viewers to fast-forward through commercials. The younger generation that did not grow up watching baseball struggles to sit through an entire nine-inning baseball game without splitting their attention with another television program or even by consistently looking down at a mobile device during pitches.

Going into this past season, all signs have pointed to baseball continuing to slip out of the spotlight. It had been a sad realization for lifelong baseball fans like myself. Being a baseball fan is a much different experience than being a fan of the other sports. The ballparks each have their own character, the statistics are more significant, the history is special and attending your first game is a rite of passage. Brad Pitt, who portrayed Oakland Athletics General Manager, Billy Beane in “Moneyball” said it best, “How can you not be romantic about baseball?”

ap_16307048511872_wide-74dda739c96989746fabc464d6299cec2a53f28d-s900-c85It’s a feeling very easy to relate to, and one that resurfaced at the conclusion of the 2016 season. Baseball season has been over for about a month. The season came to a classic conclusion, an incredible World Series decided in a dramatic Game 7 with the Chicago Cubs ending their historic championship drought. In my memory of watching baseball, it may be the greatest game I have ever seen.

This was just the World Series that baseball needed. The game had an excitement level that non-baseball fans could appreciate. Aside from the story fans, specifically in Chicago have been awaiting to be told for what feels like way too long, the series and final game was one that had every viewer on the edge of their seat.

With as enjoyable as the ending to the baseball season was, writers and the most prudent baseball fans knew that the potential for a lockout was looming. With the fan fallout that occurred back in 1994, it was not far-fetched to believe that it would be “Deva vu all over again”, as the late Yogi Berra would say.

It would have been the worst timing, just as baseball went into the offseason with an unbelievable amount of momentum. A 2017 lockout would have instantly popped the enormous balloon blown up by the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians by delivering an all-time World Series. Thanks to last week’s resolution, the fear was quelled.

While the MLB season came to a conclusion 33 days ago, for the first time in too long, I am already looking forward to pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training in February. While the narrative may be different for Cubs fans this offseason, all baseball fans can say with optimism that “There’s Always Next Year.” This time the meaning is less about disappointment, but more about the state of the game and the great baseball that lies ahead.  

Photo Credits: http://bgr.com/2016/11/02/world-series-game-7-live-stream-cubs-indians/

http://nypost.com/2016/06/16/mlb-union-optimistic-about-cba-amid-qualifying-offer-dispute/

http://www.clickhole.com/article/oral-history-1998-major-league-baseball-home-run-c-4441

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/roger-clemens-case-heats-gym-owner-kelly-blair-issued-subpoena-testify-grand-jury-article-1.427876

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/11/01/500290738/indians-host-chicago-cubs-in-game-6-of-the-world-series-in-cleveland-tonight