Possible Switch

I first want to say thank you to the people that have been reading this blog the first week of my consistent posts. I am working on another piece right now. 

I’ve not been in the blog-sphere very long, and a friend referred me to blogger.com. I am considering/working on the switch right now. I just felt compelled to write a quick post on the possible switch, and once it is made, I will give full details when the switch is complete. 

 

Thanks again for the hundreds that have visited my blog.

Seth

Bennett catch

Week 2 Recap

Week two of the NFL season is in the books. Let’s look back and see who is beginning to set themselves apart.

Two games really stood out to me. Obviously the Giants game, (as I am a Giants fan) but the biggest game was in Seattle, where the Seahawks just took the 49ers to the shed.

  • DENvsNYGgiantsbroncosI didn’t get to watch this game, but the end result wasn’t anything I was surprised at. I will say, I was surprised the Broncos won by so much, but it wasn’t like they took a huge lead early and the Giants played catch-up the whole time. Once again, turnovers just continue to hamper the Giants on defense. This defense isn’t playing well enough for them to overcome those. Simply: I’m not worried about the Broncos, as they look to be in mid-season form in just week 2, and they’re playing without two key defensive players. The Giants are in trouble. There’s absolutely zero pass rush. They can’t run the ball, and they’re turning the ball over at an alarming rate.
  • SFvsSEAWilsonKapThis was the heavyweight matchup of the weekend. I was really surprised by the struggles of the 49ers, despite being in a very hostile environment. Seattle just shut down the Niners offensively, and really took it to them in the 2nd half to pull away. Russell Wilson to this point is not having a sophomore slump, which I didn’t think would hamper him a lot, but I thought he would have somewhat of a letdown. Like I said in my preview of week 2, I don’t think anything less of San Francisco, but I think very highly now of Seattle. Obviously there’s 15 more weeks of the season left, and a lot can change between now and then, but I think Seattle has proven they’re in that contender discussion without a doubt.
  • STLvsATL – I figured the Rams would play this game close, but Atlanta got off to a quick start. The Rams benefited from Atlanta having to scramble thanks to injuries and were able to make a furious comeback. Still, I think the Rams are a lot better than people thought. Nothing to worry about with the Falcons going forward except for their health. But dealing with that early in the season is better than dealing with it in December and January.
  • MINvsCHIbearsOnce again the Bears benefited from poor play in the 4th quarter by their opponent. From poor decisions by Adrian Peterson to absolutely terrible coverage on the last play of the game, the Bears are fortunate to be in a 2-0 spot rather than an 0-2 hole. That’s not to say the Bears don’t deserve to be 2-0. Jay Cutler has looked really good. Matt Forte looks as good as he has in a while. The defense is doing what they do, and that is force turnovers and score. Bears going forward could be a huge surprise in the NFC North.
  • CARvsBUFEJManeulThis game was a little closer than I thought it would be. You have to give credit to the Panthers who have played very well in the first two weeks of the season. The Bills played well in this game. EJ Manuel looked really good and I think their defense will keep them in a lot of games. If EJ Manuel can keep making plays, the Bills could be in the Wild Card picture in the last month of the season.
  • TENvsHOUDeAndreHopkinsThis game surprised me. I thought Houston would have no problem with Tennesse, but Houston’s defense struggle against a very average Tennessee offense. Houston had to play comeback kids late in the game, but were able to overcome that and pull out the victory. It’s always a good sign when a team does not play good football but is able come away with two victories. Houston will be a contender in the AFC down the stretch, and I still like them as my pick for the Super Bowl, though the Broncos look pretty tough.

Quick thoughts on other parts of the league…

  • Tebow JaxJacksonville is just terrible. In fact, they’re so bad fans are petitioning for them to bring in Tim Tebow. And why not? Tebow has to make a difference and be better than Blaine Gabbert.
  • Miami has looked very good through two games. I have to say, while I’m not a full blown believer, I will admit, they are better than I thought they would be.
  • honeybadgerArizona got a solid win at home against Detroit. I still like Arizona, (I’m sure I’m not the only one) and I think Detroit may be a little better than I thought, but not as good as a lot of people thought.
  • I really thought Dallas would blow out Kansas City on the road. I was dead wrong and credit Kansas City for playing the Cowboys close. Kansas City may be a dark horse in the AFC, and wouldn’t be surprised if they play themselves into the playoff picture.
  • I once again thought the Eagles would blow by San Diego. Dead wrong again. But the Eagles problems are all of a sudden are not scoring points, but keeping the other teams’ off the board. This defense needs help, and in a hurry. If you’re going to allow the Chargers to throw the ball, Phillip Rivers and company will gladly accept.
  • While the Washington defense is not very good, the Packers will not get a lot of attention, but should be a solid 10-12 win team, and may be an underdog headed into the playoffs, which I’m sure they’re OK with.
  • Not surprised the Steelers are 0-2 to start the season. The Bengals will contend, and are my favorite, in the AFC North. The Steelers are going to have a tough road to hoe if they fall to 0-3 after a matchup with Chicago.

My top 5 power rankings going into week 3:

1) Seattle
2) Denver
3) Houston
4) Green Bay
5) San Francisco

If you like what I have to say, follow me on Twitter – @sethalaurence.

Have a blessed week! I’ll be back with more throughout the week.

download (2)

Sunday Morning Quick Hitters

download (2)

STLvsATL – I think the Rams are starting to get some love and are the trendy upset special this week but I don’t think they can pull one off on the road in a tough place to play. I say Matty Ice and the Dirty Birds prevail 28-17.

CLEvsBAL - I think Baltimore comes out very focused after I big let down last week. Plus Cleveland is just bad. Baltimore 35 Cleveland 13.

CARvsBUF - The Bills played the Pats tough last week and looked good doing so. Carolina is reliant on the big play and the legs of Cam Newton… I think Buffalo has a solid defensive effort. Bills win at home 27-10.

MINvsCHI – The Bears got away with one last weekend thanks to poor 4th quarter play by Cincinnati. The Vikings got punched in the mouth by Detroit. I think AP runs all over Chicago and the Minnesota D gets after Cutler who didn’t take a sack last week. Low during affair in Chicago today. Minnesota 13 Chicago 9.

TENvsHOU - Ed Reed not playing today doesn’t concern me a bit against a very poor Tennessee offense. Houston wins going away 38-13.

MIAvsIND – Lots of people trending towards the Dolphins being a dark house this year. I don’t see it. I also think the injuries to the Colts’ RBs will hurt them this week. Ugly game in Indy. Miami 19 Indianapolis 17.

DALvsKC - KC is getting a lot of love at home after Dallas played an ugly game at home against the Giants. I think KC is getting too much love and I’m taking Dallas as my upset special this week in a big way. Cowboys 31 Chiefs 13.

SDvsPHI - Everybody is drinking the Chip Kelly spread up-tempo offense KoolAid. I think it gets worse street this week. Philly 34 Bolts 17.

DETvsARI – Both teams played real well in week one. The Cardinals let a lead slip away. Lots of people like Detroit as a dark horse in the NFC. I don’t see it. Hopefully Su doesn’t cost his team a fans today. I don’t think it’s close enough to. Lions 28 Cards 17.

NOvsTB – Saints got a solid week one win against the Falcons. Tampa Bay was a huge let down. I don’t think Tampa is as good as I tight they’d be and this Freeman drama continues to slow them down. Closer Dane than you might think thigh. Tampa has a rebuilt secondary. Saints 24 Tampa 21.

DENvsNYG - The Manning Bowl should be a good one. I don’t like the Giants beat up secondary against an offense that’s already clicking on all cylinders. Denver going east doesn’t concern me and if the Giants don’t take care is the ball, this will get ugly. Denver 38 New York 37

JAXvsOAK – The Raiders nearly had the upset last week against the Colts. Jacksonville is terrible. I Terrell Pryor has a big day as Oakland should roll. Raiders 31 Titans 14

SFvsSEA - Obviously the game of the week. Seattle escaped a close one on the east coast last week. San Fran escaped a good one against Green Bay. I don’t look for a lot of scouring and could see it coming down to the final possession. Seattle definitely has the home field advantage and I think that propels them this week. Seattle 20 San Fran 14.

I’ll get to Monday night later.

Have a blessed SundayFunday all.

Fernandez McCann

Jose Fernandez vs Atlanta Braves

Baseball fans across the country, and likely the world have marveled at the dominance displayed by the Miami Marlin’s Cuban Rookie sensation, Jose Fernandez. Everybody that is, except the Atlanta Braves.

Fernandez GloveWednesday night marked this second time in September Fernandez faced the NL East rival. The first time, despite his dominance, Fernandez was saddled with a rare loss. However, in what was determined by Marlins’ management as his last start of the season, Fernandez once again was dominant, tossing 7 innings of stellar baseball. His final 2013 appearance also happened to be the ballgame where the young man would absolutely crush his first career home run. It was the home run that set off certain Braves, and led to a benches clearing shoving match.

A lot of opinions have been thrown around about this. Some people think the kid needs to realize his place and standing in baseball. The Braves are certainly among them. Some people (Marlins fans), think the kid had every right to stop and stare at his first career homer.

Fernandez McCannAt first, I found myself on the side of, what is the big deal. The kid is the next big thing among pitchers. He has maybe the nastiest slider I have ever seen. You could certainly argue the nasty slider point, I’ll admit, Aroldis Chapman’s is pretty sick. Not only is he among the NL’s best, but he’s pitching like no other rookie we’ve seen in years. If Fernandez wasn’t shut down after Wednesday, it would be as sure of a thing as the sun rising in the morning that the kid would reach the 200 strikeout threshold. His ERA would likely be under 2.50, if not under it’s current mark. Why get so upset over him admiring a home run then taking his time around the bases? We’ve seen plenty of pitchers, and hell, players who hit home runs take longer getting around the 360 feet of basepaths.

Then I read the artice ESPN put out there about Ferandez admitting to the immaturity he showed and his embarrassment towards the way he handled the situation. I thought, you know what, that’s a kid eating a piece of humble pie, realizing he just showed up the best team in baseball, when he plays on a team 30-some games under .500, on pace for yet another losing season on what has become a laughing stock of a franchise since the days of Josh Beckett, AJ Burnett, Ivan Rodriguez, Miguel Cabrera, etc, etc. So, then my attitude changed a little.

Now that I’ve thought about it for about an hour or so, I still don’t blame Fernandez for what he did. While I won’t defend his actions, because neither he nor his manager are, I don’t think Ferandez was completely unjustified in what he did. I did however, have a few issues with the way Chris Johnson handled himself in the whole mess.

Fernandez McCann 2First for Fernandez. There’s several reason I find him at little fault for the way he handled himself. There was a lot of emotion going into this game. Being his last start of an epic rookie campaign, the largest crowd at Marlins Park all season, and being against a Braves, the division rival jockeying for that number-one overall spot in the National League playoff hunt, there was a lot of buzz in the park and you could really feel it all night long. And why not? You’ve got one of the most exciting young pitchers in baseball on the hill. Just an inning earlier their all-world right fielder blasted another mammoth home run in that jungle of a park. It was an exciting game. Just in case you were wondering, there just aren’t many of those in Miami. But it’s not like Fernandez was a late-June, early July call up and hasn’t been figured out yet. This kid was on the opening day roster. It took him about a month to really get his feet under him, but since, he’s done nothing but dominate big league hitters. So he’s got a little clout behind him. I wasn’t offended, pissed, or anything else that Fernandez decided to watch his first career homer fly over the left field fence.

Chris JohnsonNow there’s Chris Johnson. In my mind, and having grown up around the NL East and baseball in general, my first thought was, who is Chris Johnson? A guy that has played average baseball, on less than average teams for four years and change, until he comes to Atlanta and starts tearing it up.

I have my own theories on players who break out after several years in the big leagues, and absolutely does not involve HGH, steroids or any other PEDs — That’s another conversation for another day.

But Chris Johnson? Really?

I understand this is a guy who’s got a daddy who played big league ball. He’s a baseball junkie. He knows the do’s and don’ts of baseball. Great… so what? Did a simple action such as spitting as Fernandez rounds third really warrant him charging home plate while a veteran, established star like Brian McCann tries to straighten the kid out? I absolutely find that completely unnecessary, and frankly, I think Chris Johnson was the whole reason the benches cleared and things escalated.

McCann absolutely had the situation under control. He didn’t need Johnson making a be line to the plate just to show up the guy who just showed up his team. If you watch the video closer, you’ll notice Johnson fired up after the whole situation had calmed down. Why? Again, why? It was just unnecessary.

Fernandez PuigUnlike some Cuban players, Fernandez has spent a little time in America. So should he probably know better than to show up his opposition in that situation? Yea, he probably should. But we’ve seen with these Cubans, (Yasiel Puig in particular) they are very emotional players. And quite truthfully, the exposure to professional American baseball there(in Cuba) is very limited. So how are they supposed to know the way you handle yourself in that situation? These guys are on a very short learning curve, and society is not giving them time to adjust to the way things are done here. When you host a foreign exchange student, do you expect them to know all the rituals and the way things are done in your home in a quick three month stint? No. These guys are just like that.
In a brief, side editorial, I am tired of people expecting these Cuban players, fresh to America and American baseball, to understand how things are done, when they’ve had little exposure. They need time, guidance and little understanding thrown their way when they don’t do things viewed by us as “normal” all the time.

While I don’t think he was completely at fault, at the end of the day, I was very pleased to see Fernandez take responsibility for his actions. I think he showed a lot of maturity, ate some humble pie, and most importantly, I’m glad he approached the two guys he showed up the most, in Mike Minor and Brian McCann, and apologize and say he has learned his lesson and it won’t happen again. That folks, is a good kid, with his head screwed on straight. And unlike a lot of apologies, (*cough**cough*RyanBraun*cough**cough*) I actually believe he genuinely, and wholeheartedly means it.

I’ve been a big fan of Fernandez for a while now, and this whole thing makes me like him even more. Unfortunately, I believe he will be a thorn in the side of my Mets for years and years to come. But without a doubt, one exciting player, and one I’m looking forward to watching dominate baseball for years to come.

WilsonKap

NFL Week 1 [Over] Reaction; Week 2 Preview

Week one of the NFL is in the books, and oh my gosh, could we overreact any more to the the happenings this weekend? Seriously folks, let’s reel it in just a little bit.

My takeaways from this week, and while some of my reactions may be knee-jerk, some of you just need to calm the hell down, especially you fantasy football people. (I’m taking the year off, considering giving it up all-together).

My biggest reaction to Week 1:

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers are in trouble. Key, and I mean KEY, losses to every aspect of their team this week not only puts their hopes of winning a division in jeopardy, but it puts their playoff hopes in jeopardy. Larry Foote is a key part of that hard nosed defense which is already moving on from the loss of James Harrison in the offseason. Larrod Stephens-Howling is not a great football player, but when he’s your RB1 on a team that relies so heavily on an effective running game is a big loss. Along with the center, Maurkice Pouncey, who anchors a bad offensive line, is the biggest loss by far. The Steelers weren’t going to be the class of the AFC, but they are in serious doggy doo-doo.
  • brady cryingWhile the Pats/Bills is always a dog fight (no pun intended Mike Vick), the Pats rarely play a close game on opening day. I take two things away from this game. First, without the combo of Gronk/Hernandez on the field at the same time, this team is just not as dangerous. Danny Amendola IS Brady’s new Wes Welker, and if healthy, he is a top 15-20 receiver, if not better. Second, the Bills are better than we thought and EJ Manuel played a conservatively good game. He’ll see better defenses, so we’ll see just how good he is.
  • I guess going to Thursday’s game… My only take away is, this is the effect of the NFL cutting down on the amount of practice time teams have during the preseason. Well what about those preseason games? Ask any NFL coach, the amount of the time first team offenses/defenses play HAS to be limited so they can see what they have in those draft picks, undrafted free agents, and just fringe roster guys in general. Peyton Manning picked apart a new-look Ravens defense. And while Joe Flacco wasn’t sharp, I’ve said all along, Joe Flacco is the poor man’s Eli Manning. He’s shown clutch moments under pressure, but he’s not an elite QB (whatever that means) during the regular season. More worried about the Broncos defense until Von Miller comes back, only slightly worried about the Ravens moving forward.
  • New Orleans beat Atlanta. Ok great, not ready to crown the Saints the class of the NFC South. Not ready to say the Falcons are in trouble and won’t win the South. I attribute this more to Sean Payton really wanted to beat Atlanta after a years absence, and he prepared for this game for an entire summer. Taking a wait-and-see approach on New Orleans, though I still say they’re a Wild Card playoff team.
  • To me, this game is why week 1 is blown out of the water. Yes, the Bears beat one of the best AFC teams. I won’t discredit what they did, because for maybe the first time since he’s come to Chicago, Jay Cutler wasn’t sacked. He played a great game, and he spread the ball to more guys than just Brandon Marshall. Matt Forte was as good as he’s been in almost a year and a half. The defense did what they do best, and made plays down the stretch. I truly think the lack of preseason practice and preparation left the Bengals, defense specifically, unprepared for this game.
  • The most compelling game of the weekend was absolutely the Packers/Niners. You knew this was going to be a heavyweight fight from the opening kick. The Niners were the beneficiary of some suspect officiating. Everyone knew whoever lost this game wouldn’t be deemed as “finished”. Obviously the Packers are the class of the NFC North, and are absolutely a contender to make it to the Super Bowl. I still think the Niners are the team to beat in the NFC, and I think they are the most complete team we’ve seen in over a decade.
  • Despite the (knuckleheaded) efforts of Dom Su, the Lions were able to overcome Beast Mode Adrian Peterson and the Vikings. After an offseason full of Su’s efforts to “rebuild” his image, it seems he has not learned his lesson. A low block that cost his team a TD, fortunately, didn’t cost them to game, but the Sunday will come, where boneheaded play of his WILL cost his team a TD, and that day could ultimately cost his team a playoff spot, though I don’t view this team as a playoff team.
  • A brief rant on the Giants. 6 turnovers. That is all. I called a game Friday where a team turned the ball over nine times. Granted it’s high school, it was actually a very talented team, but they lost a very winnable game because of those turnovers. Later in the weekend, a local writer said, well this team was the better team despite the end score. That’s what this Giants/Cowboys game was. In my mind, the Giants are a better team than the Cowboys (debatable I know), but you cannot turn the ball over that much and call yourself a better team. If they turn the ball over that much next Sunday, the Broncos will be lighting up more than 36 points on the board.

Small takeaways from this weekend:

  • St. Louis and Arizona played a very good football game. Two teams that are absolutely dark horses in the NFC, though their tough division could keep them out of the playoffs.
  • I don’t take much from the Seahawks playing a close game with Carolina (12-7 final). West coast team going east is always tough, just like east coast teams going west. The Seahawks are absolutely a power player in the NFC this year. I think they are a little overrated though.
  • Jacksonville is absolutely horrible. 0 offensive points? Terrible. That team needs a lot of help.
  • buttfumbleI may have overrated the Bucs. But then again, I may have underrated the Jets… (HAHA I crack myself up sometimes!) I’m not really sure about the Bucs. I didn’t see it, but heard Josh Freeman was pouting and fighting with his lineman. If he wants the respect of his team, he’s going to have to man up and be a leader. You can’t have your QB at the center of team drama.
  • Let’s not get all carried away with Chip Kelly’s uptempo offense as being the next big thing in the NFL. The Redskins defense is healing and still not all that great. It’s one game, let’s give it, oh I don’t know, maybe a FULL SEASON before we go crazy with this thing. The Eagles still play in the toughest division in football, and the rules of hitting the QBs are very liberal when it comes to the option. Mike Vick, who doesn’t need much help in getting knocked out, will likely see time on the 8-game IR.
  • I don’t take much away from the Chargers quick start and the Texans coming back. It took Texas offense a little bit to get it together. Keep in mind, the Houston first team offense never really played together at all during the preseason. I don’t worry about this defense, and having Brian Cushing back is a huge addition.
  • I think the magic in the rookie year of Andrew Luck may have passed. I don’t think this team is as good as people think, especially the defense. When you let Terrell Pryor and the Raiders run all over you, you know you have problems. Oh, and they face Colin Kaepernick and the Niners in a few weeks. We’ll see what happens then when they play a legit team.

Couple key things to look at this coming week:

  • I actually think the Jets play it close with New England this Thursday, and I don’t think it’s crazy to think the Jets could pull off an upset. Geno Smith looked solid. Stephen Hill made some nice plays, and the Jets defense did look rather good. They will be playing with a lot of confidence against a down Pats team.
  • I look for St. Louis to give Atlanta a GREAT game in Hotlanta Sunday. I again don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility to see the Rams walking into the dome and taking one from them.
  • Green Bay gets another big test against a mobile QB in RGIII. I think this game ends up in a big scoring game, and I look for A-Rodg12 and the Pack to outlast Washington.
  • We should see a lot of high scoring ball games this week: Dallas @ KC, SD @ Philly, Detroit @ Arizona.
  • elipeytonThe Giants and Broncos play in the Manning Bowl part 2. I’m glad CBS has this game. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will do a great job, and I don’t think there’s a better in-game analyst of the pocket passer in broadcasting than Phil Simms. (I say pocket passer because Troy Aikman is really good, and understands the mobile QB game quite well) I think of all the big games this week, this one will be the most over-hyped.  (Funny video if you’re interested…)
  • WilsonKapThe heavyweight matchup of the week once again features San Francisco, as they head to Seattle. This should be a great game and I’m pumped NBC has it for the Sunday night matchup. There’s no overhyping this game…. It’s an early season test for both sides. Is Seattle the legit team everyone has labeled them as? We know the Niners are legit, and can play in the big game on the big stage. Colin Kaepernick’s toughness, football intelligence, and ability will be tested in Seattle. Expect a physical, low scoring defensive battle. I don’t view the loser as anything less than a 1-1 team. I think the winner makes a huge statement to the league and may just become the early season favorite (again, for what it’s worth) to make the Super Bowl in the NFC. It may be the biggest week 2 match up there could be
superbowl

NFL 2013

It is football season, and as a fan of a baseball team who is officially play for next year (personally I think it’s farther out than that), I am glad this part of the calendar year is upon us.

I don’t get into the football previews like I have baseball, but will give it a whirl. Starting south, going east, then north, and then west.

American Football Conference (AFC for Short)

South

  1. Houston Texans - texansThis team is very close to being a Super Bowl team, and I actually believe this may be their year. When you’re talking about the weaknesses of this team, you’re starting to get a little nit-picky. One legitimate concern is they don’t have a legitimate #2 receiver to compliment Andre Johnson. After that, this team has never really had an experienced veteran on defense, who would instill a sense of toughness. Ed Reed is going to be that guy to fill a huge void defensively. Bold Prediction : Whitney Mercilus will be 2013’s JJ Watt.
  2. coltsIndianapolis Colts – Well it may be official, Andrew Luck is everything the Colts and the rest of the league thought he’d be. And he’s only going to get better. I love what Reggie Wayne said, “I hate to say it, but the way he practices reminds me of Peyton Manning”. Reggie Wayne insn’t one to go throwing out big words like that all the time. This defense is still rather depleted after some aging veterans left with the old regime. Bjourn Warner is going to be a big time play maker for this team. Big time talent. The Colts at the least will compete for a Wild Card. Bold prediction – Darius Heyward-Bey finally lives up to the hype he never could in Oakland.
  3. tennesseeTennessee Titans - Picking between these two teams is like asking if you’d rather get a knife in the neck or a bullet to the brain. Are those the only two options? If Chris Johnson continues his digression from record setting years, the Titans offense is going to be in trouble. Jake Locker is not yet developed enough for his arm to carry this offense. Their offense definitely leaves a lot to be desired. The rebuild will continue into next summer for this team. Bold Prediction : *chirp**chirp**chirp* Yea I got nothing… Maybe this team finishes .500? Will go with that.
  4. jagsJacksonville Jaguars - You hate to say it, but not going after Tim Tebow when Denver was selling him for cheap was not a good move. I understand Tebow brings a circus with him, but could he really be any worse than Blaine Gabbert? Fortunately for Gabbert, he has playmakers all over the place, and all he has to do is get the ball into their hands, which is easier said than done for him. Bold Prediction : Not one broadcaster will say this guys name right the first time…. FB Will Ta’ufo’ou

East

  1. patsNew England Patriots - This is almost a default pick because the rest of the division is so bad. However, this won’t be your typical run of the mill Pats team. Tom Brady and Bill Bellichik will make this team a winner, but the health of Gronk is, per usual, a major concern. Losing the reliability of Wes Welker definitely hurt this offense, but I do like the addition of Danny Amendola to replace him. This defense is rather solid and should get a little more credit than normal. Bold Prediction : Bill Bellichik won’t have to cheat to win this year. (Ooops)
  2. billsBuffalo Bills - The separation between the Pats and the other teams in this division is so wide, the Pats could easily wrap up the division by week 8. (Bold prediction?) The Bills have a strong core of young playmakers. If only this coaching staff would use CJ Spiller the way the Vikings used Percy Harvin, he could be (is) one of the most dynamic playmakers in all of football. Kevin Kolb starting the year at QB says all you need to know about the what the Bills think of this year. Bold Prediction : Kevin Kolb maybe lasts two quarters as the Bills QB before EJ Manual takes over. (I know, not very bold, but in a way, it is)
  3. dolphinsMiami Dolphins – After watching the behind the scenes of this team on Hard Knocks last year, it’s no wonder this team is going no where fast. They traded away, in my mind, one of the better young CBs in the league in Vontae Davis over a holding penalty in a PRESEASON GAME! No respect what-so-ever for this team, nor do I feel sorry for them being a disaster. Bold Prediction : Mike Wallace is quickly going to be one of the most overpaid players in the NFL and will quickly appreciate what he had in Pittsburgh.
  4. jetsNew York Jets - Much like the Dolphins, I don’t feel bad for this team at all. With virtually no playmakers anywhere on the field, I seriously wonder if this team is at all capable of scoring a TD. It will be extremely humorous to see this team score 3, 6, 9 or whatever points all on FGs. Bold Prediction; The defense outscores the offense.

North

  1. bengalsCincinnati Bengals - This is such a big play offense, but unlike a lot of other teams, they can really shorten the game with long drives. The offense, without question, will be there this year, but the health of the defense is going to be this team’s key to success. If the defense is healthy, they should play at an elite level. Bold Prediction – I think picking them to win the division is bold prediction enough.
  2. ravensBaltimore Ravens – It’s hard to pick against the defending Super Bowl Champions, and obviously the losses of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are hard to overcome, but I don’t think it is at out of the realm of possibility for this team to move on. 1. Through almost a sad technicality, they got one of the more underrated LB/DEs in Elvis Dummervil. Chris Canty coming over the Giants was a very nice pick up. He as one of their more consistent pass rushers last year. I look for 2nd year pro out of Alabama, Courtney Upshaw to start to make a mark in this league. And obviously a healthy Terrell Suggs is going to make this defense up front, tough to handle. And we didn’t even hit on the offense, which is going to be very good. Bold Prediction – The Ravens may struggle to find energy towards the end of the year without Ray Lewis, which will cause them to take a step backwards. (Still a playoff team)
  3. steelersPittsburgh Steelers – Watching this team in their first preseason game, I was not overly impressed. Obviously the loss of Mike Wallace will hurt the big play ability for Pittsburgh, but that’s not really this teams identity. One thing I really noticed was this teams almost inability to run the ball. I’m not sold any of these backs are the right guys for Pittsburgh in the backfield. This defense, in my opinion, isn’t as good as it once was. They definitely could surprise us, but just not seeing it. Bold Prediction: The Steelers miss the playoff for the 2nd straight year.
  4. brownsCleveland Browns - Brandon Weeden has looked good in preseason, but that’s the preseason. Other than Trent Richardson, there’s not much I like about this team. Could be another miserable season in Cleveland. Bold Prediction: Rob Gronkowski’s brother (Dan) breaks out.

West

  1. broncosDenver Broncos - This wasn’t a hard pick. This division is incredibly weak. The offense is going to be very good, as is any Peyton Manning offense. My biggest concern is now the defense. They lost 2 very good players in DJ Williams and Elvis Dummervil, and now out a third of the season is Von Miller. If this defense can’t fill those holes, which I very much question that they can, they might be in trouble. Still, most likely a playoff team because of the weak division they play in. Bold Prediction: The Broncos find another defensive stud to help fill the voids left by departing and suspended players.
  2. chiefsKansas City Chiefs - Andy Reid is a good NFL coach, and he is really walking into a team with a lot of talent. I think Alex Smith was a beneficiary of a system in San Francisco, so I wonder if he can repeat the half a season of success he had last year. For their sake, I hope he’s not another Matt Cassell. I personally think this team should have the opportunity to contend for a division given the defensive problems right now for Denver. This could very well be a Wild Card team. Bold Prediction: We see a huge turnaround in KC. 8-8 record at least.
  3. boltsSan Diego Chargers I have serious doubts about this team. The offense absolutely hinges on the health of Antonio Gates and Ryan Matthews. Philip Rivers won’t have as many weapons as he has in years past. This defense looks questionable at best. It may be another year or two before they compete for a division title again. Bold Prediction: Ryan Matthews finally plays more that 8 games.
  4. raidersOakland Raiders: Where can you start with this dismal franchise? A lot of bad decisions. Mediocre to poor drafting, it’s pretty clear why the Raiders haven’t seen the postseason in almost a decade. I think another horrid season in Oakland is easy to predict. Bold Prediction: Terrell Pryor surprises us with a decent season and turns into QB1 of the Oakland Raiders.

South

  1. atlantaAtlanta Falcons – There’s really not much to not like about this team. Always an elite regular season team, to talk about this teams downsides is what you call being nit-picky. Two very high level, elite receivers on each side of one of the games best QBs. The Falcons have never been one to be a run dependant team, and I think Steven Jackson should fit their need for a change of pace back. He won’t get the workload he did in St. Louis which should keep him off the side of the injury reports that keep him out of games. Love the Osi Umenyiora pick up. I think their secondary leaves a lot to be desired but they’ll put teams in big enough holes, they’ll have to air it out and that will give them an advantage. Bold Prediction: The Falcons very favorable schedule should allow them to lock up another first round bye and contend for home field advantage through the playoffs.
  2. saintsNew Orlean Saints – I think the value Sean Payton was incredibly evident last year, as his year long suspension really put this team into a tailspin. We’ll see how the whole “Bountygate” is going to effect this team long term. It’s obvious this offense is potent and can go off for literally 50 points any given Sunday. This defense continues to age, but should be effective enough to keep enough teams off the board. Bold Prediction: New Orleans really bounces back and gives Atlanta a run for their money in this division. I say they miss the playoffs once again though.
  3. bucsTampa Bay Buccaneers – Everyone knows about Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin, and it appears Josh Freeman may have turned a corner in his career, will see if he can build on a good 2012, but this defense should be stellar! Gerald McCoy and Da’Quan Bowers should be menaces up front in the pass rush. Acquiring Darrell Revis in the offseason legitimizes this secondary, which allowed the most passing yards last year. The Bucs should make a long stride forward and should contend for a Wild Card Spot. Bold Prediction: Tampa will be a much improved team and will go for a .500 finish and could go for 10 wins.
  4. carolinaCarolina Panthers - This team is a big play team, and if they don’t get that big play, it is hard for them to score points. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathon Stewart took major steps backwards last year in the run game. This is actually a pretty solid young defense, but there is just too much pressure on them to keep teams completely off the scoreboards for four quarters. They may be one more offensive threat from completely making a run at a playoff birth. Bold Prediction: The panthers continue to improve, but other than Steve Smith, Cam Newton will continue to struggle to carry this team on his own.

East

  1. EaglesPhiladelphia Eagles: The Eagles made maybe the offseasons biggest splash by signing football pioneer Chip Kelly from Oregon. I truly expect the speed, spread style football to immediately impact in Philly. (Please hold comments to the end of the performance, because I question the longevity  of his system in the NFL). Mike Vick is not a great NFL QB, but in this type of system I could see him having a very nice year. There’s a lot of speed on this team, and I see it playing immediate dividends. The defense has been torn down and somewhat rebuilt. Bold Prediction: The lack of receiver depth keeps Philadelphia from running away with this division.
  2. skinsWashington Redskins: The Skins improved greatly with first year QB RGIII. Alfred Morris broke out to one of the top young RBs in football. This defense was pretty much bad, but was overshadowed by the success of RGIII. They will benefit greatly from the return of Brian Orakpo. The success of Washington will be on the knees and health of RGIII. If he plays say 13-15 games, they should be one of the most electric teams in football. Bold Prediciton: The Skins miss the playoffs despite being a top 5 offense.
  3. giantsNew York Giants: I don’t trust this team one bit. They’re old, beat up, slow, and thin on defense. It’s almost the opposite on offense. They’re young, fast, healthy and deep. The problem is, the physical division they’re in doesn’t bode well for them to be able to stay healthy enough to compete for a division crown. Bold Prediction: The Giants miss the playoffs for a 2nd straight year and clean house in the coaching staff on New Year’s Eve.
  4. cowboysDallas Cowboys - It doesn’t pain me at all to make this pick, but the depth of this division is crazy, the Cowboys could easily flip the table. If you were to take a quiz about this team, a question like this may be on it…. “What is the Cowboys’ worst enemy? A) Terrible Coaching Decisions B) An owner who thinks he’s the GM, coach, and a player C) A QB who is the least clutch player in sports D) All of the above. D might be the best answer, but I actually think it’s none of the above. Injuries hamper this team every single season. And if the Cowboys want to turn their fortunes, it starts with keeping Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, and their RBs healthy. This defense is really good, but the offensive woes are a killer on good defenses. Bold Prediction: The Cowboys miss the playoffs again and begin looking for a new QB on New Year’s Eve.

North

  1. packGreen Bay Packers - It didn’t take a long time to think this one out. Green Bay doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses offensively. I find it hard to believe Eddie Lacey won’t be the first team tailback, but if he’s not, it won’t be long before he is. The biggest deficiency this team has is a consistent pass rush. Getting after the QBs in their division won’t be difficult, but it’s those non-conference games they may have a hard time with. Still, Packers win this division. It may be a little closer than you’d expect though. Bold Prediction: The Packers face a tougher schedule than in year’s past and will have to win some tough games down the stretch to play at least one game at Lambeau in January.
  2. vikingsMinnesota VikingsThe addition of Greg Jennings gives Adrian Peterson a reason to breath with the departure of Percy Harvin. Jennings also gives Christian Ponder (Who I actually think is a good QB despite his early career struggles) a legit, go get it receiver. Along with Kyle Rudolph, who may could become a legit, elite TE in this league. The defense is sneaky decent. I look for the Vikings to surprise some people and contend to the final week for a Wild Card spot. Bold Prediction: The Vikings bunny hop the Bears in the division thanks to consistent offensive production.
  3. bearsChicago Bears – There’s just so many issues. So first, they hired a coach from the Canadian Football League. Who may be an offensive guru, but again, so many questions, the most important, if he’s so good, why has he been in the Canadian Football League? The defense has a lot of issues. Brian Urlacher is more than just the solid MLB. He’s the emotional and vocal leader that is going to be sorely missed. I like Jay Cutler. And he may have better protection. But it’s going to take more than one 1st round draft pick to protect him. He still is only, and I mean only, targeting Brandon Marshall. Matt Forte needs to be a bigger part of this offense. The Bears have the tools, we’ll see if Mark Trestman can get them all to come together. Bold Predictions: Jay Cutler actually gets to stay upright a little more and see some of the nice throws he makes to his receivers(s).
  4. detroitDetroit LionsThe Lions are an enigma. They look like a good team. The talk like a good team. They play like a good team (at times), but they just can’t put it together. They’ve made just one playoff appearance under the combo of Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. I’ve never been impressed with the other weapons they give Matthew Stafford to throw to. While you could argue, he shouldn’t need anyone else to throw to, he should be good enough to make anyone good… Nate Burleson isn’t exactly the prototypical #2. In fact, he’s more like a fourth receiver. Defense is good. I hope Nick Fairley (who coach Schwartz has spoke highly of in the preseason) and Ndamukong Su become the forces they were drafted to be. Bold Predictions: The Lions take major steps forward on defense, and may finish 500. They are a couple defensive additions away from being a complete team.

West

  1. 49ersSan Francisco 49ersThere’s not much wrong with this team. The one play that really kept them last year was allowing Jacoby Jones to get over the top of the defense for a 2nd time in the playoffs. So what did they do? They picked the best safety in the draft in Eric Reid. They brought in a great WR for Colin Kapernick to throw to in Anquan Boldin. They brought in maybe the best shut down corner west of the Appalachians, Nnamdi Asomugha (I’m pretty pleased with myself, I spelled that right the first time without looking it up.)  Frank Gore will be the feature back, but I look for Oregon product LaMichael James to add more speed to this offense that seems to be centered around it. Bold Prediction: The ‘Niners pitch the most shutouts in a single season in NFL history. May go undefeated.
  2. seahawksSeattle Seahawks – It’s unfortunate the 49ers are so good because the Seahawks are beginning to hit their stride. Not sure Russell Wilson has as good of a year as he did last year, but he works harder than almost anyone in the NFL and very well could. Beast Mode (Skittles) Mershawn Lynch should continue to carry a heavy load for this offense as the feature back. Defense may struggle to get pressure on the QB but make no mistake, it is a very good defense. Bold Prediction: The Seahawks take big steps forward and win some big games (@Houston Sept. 29 and @Atlanta Nov 10)
  3. ramsSt. Louis RamsIt’s unfortunate this division is pretty well set at the top, but that’s why they play the games. Jeff Fischer is a brilliant coach. It’s unfortunate for Tennessee a ego-maniac kid who’s now broke jumping from job to job ran him out of  town. But St. Louis has benefited from that. I said it last year, Jenoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan would be great additions, and they were. This defense gets so much better with the addition of Alec Ogletree and Tayvon Austin. Bold Prediction: A favorable schedule could put the Rams in a position to be a 2nd Wild Card from the West of all divisions. The resurgence of the West reminds me of the NL Central.
  4. cardsArizona Cardinals – The Cardinals, like the Rams, have made some nice additions in the draft the past few years. The Cardinals drafted really well this year. A draft that featured a loaded offensive lineman class, they took advantage. And then took some high upside risks in Tyrann Mathieu and Alex Okafor. Mathieu and Patrick Peterson will head a solid secondary. Carson Palmer will get one last chance to prove he’s still more than a back up in the league. He’ll have the opportunity to with Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. I like Rashard Mendenhall in this system. The Cardinals are quickly improving. They should give some serious consideration to investing in a young QB though. Bold Prediction- Arizona plays spoiler down the stretch with five of six teams that could be in the playoff hunt. 

AFC Playoffs

East – New England

South – Houston

North - Cincinnati

West - Denver

Wild Card 1- Baltimore

Wild Card 2- Kansas City

NFC Playoffs

East – Philadelphia

South - Atlanta

North - Green Bay

West – San Francisco

Wild Card 1- Seattle

Wild Card 2- Minnesota Vikings (I just can’t take 2 teams from the same division, otherwise, I’d take St. Louis)

Super Bowl Matchup

San Francisco makes a triumphant return to the Super Bowl behind the arm and legs of Colin Kapernick. They’ll take on the Houston Texans.

49ers texans

The Niners will win the Super Bowl in the coldest championship game in NFL history.

Season Awards- 

AFC MVP – Arian Foster

arian foster

AFC Rookie of the Year- Bjoern Warner

Bjoern Werner

NFC MVP- Matt Ryan

matt ryan

NFC Rookie of the Year- Tavon Austin

tavon austin

jurickson profar

The Case For Jurickson Profar and the Cardinals

Coming into this 2013 Major League Baseball season, there were few teams that looked like they had just about everything it took to compete for a championship. Two of those teams were the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers.

CardinalsThe St. Louis Cardinals, a few years ago, were not regarded as one of the league’s strongest farm systems. Fast forward to today, over half their roster, as of April 19, was acquired via the draft. That can be deceiving, but when you see guys like Jon Jay, Lance Lynn (Cy Young candidate from 2012), David Freese (2011 World Series MVP), Yadier Molina (winner of 5-straight Gold Glove Awards), Allan Craig (finished in the top 10 in NL Batting Average in 2012), and Jaime Garcia, it becomes evident not only do the Cardinals draft well, but the develop their players just as well. Mix them with All-Star Matt Holliday, ace Adam Wainwright, and Carlos Beltran, and this team is undoubtedly a championship contender and will be for many years to come if they can keep this core together. And not only are these guys already solid Major League Baseball players, but they have many, many, many more on the way. A top 10 prospect for a number of years, Shelby Miller won himself a spot in this rotation this year. A power arm, drawing comparisons to superstar Pedro Martinez, Carlos Martinez (no relation) might have had himself a spot in the Opening Day rotation, but some visa issues in his native Dominican Republic kept him out of most of Spring Training. But make no mistake about it, a struggle in the back end of the rotation or the bullpen will result in a quick call up of this stud. And of course, of the highly touted outfielder Oscar Taveras is somewhat caught in a holding pattern because of the stellar production levels of this OF already. Oscar Taveras and the very latest, will be up in September, and could be a full-time player by no later than Opening Day of 2014.

texas rangersThe Texas Rangers really do have a solid line up from top to bottom. Not only is this line-up a veteran laden group, but there is a great mix of young talent. Veterans like Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre, and Nelson Cruz are proven winners. Young players have really burst on the scene like Yu Darvish (though his rise to stardom may be less surprising), Elvis Andrus, and Derek Holland. Nelson and Beltre, in particular, are nearing the decline of the prime of their careers, and next year, maybe the year after, we will start to see their numbers decline. The question will be how much of a decline will it be? Beltre is signed through the year 2015. Cruz, at age 32, will reach his first year of Free Agency after next year, provided the Rangers do not lock him up long term. Fortunately for the Rangers, Beltre could be replaced in a year or two by young stud Mike Olt, though it may benefit Olt’s career to move to a place where he’ll be able to play right away, as he’s ready for a full time major league gig. 

The Rangers also possess one of the league’s strongest minor league systems, which means,  these aging stars very well will have a replacement. If the Rangers, and Olt can hold out long enough, Mike Olt may very well play himself into a position to take over for Beltre. I will note, that will be an incredible challenge for Olt, as Beltre has been nothing short of stellar since he came to Texas. Along with Mike Olt, the Rangers possess, arguably the games top prospect in middle-infielder Jurickson Profar. It doesn’t take too many opinions to hear, to realize, this guy is the real deal. Now, replacing Cruz in left field is going to be somewhat of a challenge. More and more teams are locking up their young stars into multi-year deals before they can reach free agency, which is going to make finding someone on the off-season free agent market very difficult. 

BUT, that is where the Cardinals come into play. 

I mentioned both teams are very solid with very few weaknesses. But if there’s one each has, it is the young players that make them ideal trading partners. 

It is not often you see top prospects traded for each other, especially if they have less than 50, if any, Major League at bats. But I say again, the areas that may need addressing the most for these two teams makes them ideal trading partners to swap big time, big league prospects.

The Cardinals have really not had any stability at shortstop since Edgar Renteria was a Cardinal. Yea, yea, yea Rafael Furcal this and that, but the bottom line, Furcal, like he has just about everywhere, has spent more time in the trainers room than he has on the field. Not only that, but he is well past his prime and is looking at a decline in production, if it hasn’t happened already. Because shortstop is such a premium position, finding an athletic shortstop who can field and hit is incredibly difficult.

I know the Cardinals are very high on Daniel Descalso, but there really has not been much to be impressed with thus far. He’s a solid defender with, what so far, has been pretty sub-par hitting numbers. 

As for the Rangers, their OF is solid, but when you take Josh Hamilton out of the equation, and Nelson Cruz’s age, they could really use an outfielder. I really like Leonys Martin, but Ron Washington (who I despise more and more each year) is hell bent on splitting time with what could easily be a .300 or better hitter, with a .270 hitter at best.  I cannot see the Rangers locking up two OF to long-term deals that are better than 30 years old(Cruz and David Murphy). None the less, the fact remains, the Rangers will need a young OF, and with not a lot of good options in the minor leagues, the Cardinals would be ideal partners for a trade.

wpid-081612-oscar-taveras.jpeg

Here is my proposal: The Cardinals receive top-prospect Jurickson Profar. The Rangers receive top-prospect Oscar Taveras. 

jurickson profar

Do I think this deal will happen? In all likelihood, no. At least not now. Would a deal like this be a straight up deal? Maybe, but I could see other pieces coming into play, especially with as loaded as both systems are. But here is why this deal makes a lot of sense, other than the reasons I listed above. 

Jurickson Profar is in a holding pattern in Texas, and the situation doesn’t appear near a resolve, especially with the Rangers locking up Andrus for the long-term, and to a huge contract I might add. Profar’s biggest impact may not be felt in Texas for another year and a half, if not more. The kid is just 20 years old, but at 20, he has already shown he can at least play in the big leagues, his first MLB plate appearance was a HR

Like I mentioned, and like Profar, Taveras is in a pretty tight holding pattern in St. Louis. While Allen Craig has been playing a lot of first base the past few years, I actually see him moving back to the outfield to make room for Matt Adams. Adams is the example of what happens when a franchise sticks with a good young player, despite the position he’s at being locked up at the big leagues. Adams was basically the shadow to Albert Pujols for years, and with Pujols likely to never leave until free agency, Adams really never got a shot at the big leagues. But, Pujols is gone, and Adams may start making a difference in the big leauges. Should one of St. Louis’ outfielders get hurt, here’s how I see the Cardinals prioritizing filling the need. 1) Move Craig back to the outfield, call up Adams, put him at 1B. Leave Taveras in the minors, keep his service time clock frozen. 2) Move Craig back to the OF, and let utility man Ty Wigginton take over at first, freeze Taveras’ service time at 0.00. The only way I see Taveras being called up prior to Sept. 1, is if outfielder X, Craig, Adams, and Wigginton all go down at the same time. And in the long run, I see Craig moving back to the outfield, and Adams taking over at 1B. Now that is provided Matt Adams hits at the big league level, which he has had very limited opportunities. But, that is why I see Taveras having a better opportunity in Texas.

Now for Profar, like I said, since, Edgar Renteria, the Cardinals just have not had good luck with production offensively from their shortstops. Also like I mentioned, I’ve not been overly impressed with Daniel Descalso to this point. I know the Cardinals like him. But the bottom line is, if you’re going to be a major leaguer, you have to hit. And if you don’t, you have to play stellar, better than Gold Glove defense to stay in the line up full time. If the Cardinals acquired Profar, he probably wouldn’t play right away. And probably shouldn’t. But, Profar could easily make an impact for the Cardinals much quicker than he will be able to in Texas.

Sometimes you hear about teams trading high profile prospects and think, why would you do that, the guy hasn’t seen the Major Leagues or why get rid of the already established guy? Well sometimes it is about money (more often than not it is about money). Sometimes it’s about clearing a spot for another prospect that is major league ready. To me, this is a no-brainer for both sides. Both sides have a need for the other prospect. And with these two guys, it is not like they don’t come highly touted. Most, if not all, scouts say both of these guys are going to be unreal players. For the past several years, Texas and St. Louis have been factories for developing very good, if not, great major leaguers. I cannot see either of these guys being flukes. I really believe in the 2015 All-Star game, both of these guys will be there.

To me, Taveras compares to Carlos Gonzalez in Colorado. And Profar has the skill set of Jimmy Rollins, but I think he’ll be better than Rollins. He’s even a switch hitter. 

This deal isn’t likely to happen, and I very much doubt the Cardinals nor the Rangers really care what I think, but, it’s pretty clear, this deal makes a lot of sense for both sides.