Kyrie and the Knicks, by @ItsBrizz

Kyrie and the Knicks, by Bryce Olds (@ItsBrizz)

The Celtics losing in the second round in five has caused some issues in the organization, particularly with Kyrie. Ever since the season has started, speculation about him leaving has seemed to be all people have talked about, the media, the fans, and even some players. Personally, I think he will leave this summer, but if he going to New York or LA, that’s a tougher question. As a Knicks fan, I feel very indifferent about Kyrie.

My first problem with Kyrie is, honestly, I don’t trust him. Kyrie stated during the preseason to all Celtics fans that he’d love to resign and stay “if they’d have him.” Well, everything he did after that contradicted that statement drastically, saying things like “ask me July 1st” or “I’m not gonna miss this shit when I’m done playing.” Most of his quotes have been backpedaling on his statement about resigning, which as a Knicks fan I love, but as someone who might have to have this guy on my team, it makes me nervous.

My second problem with Kyrie is, he did not seem like he even wanted to lead the Celtics. Again, as a Knicks fan, I loved that Kyrie hated being the guy in Boston, but it makes me wonder, what if the Knicks don’t get him a co-star? I mean don’t get me wrong, if the Knicks do get Kevin Durant, I’ll feel a lot better with Kyrie being the wingman, but say they don’t get KD and they end up with another free agent who maybe is good but isn’t better than Kyrie and he has to be the guy again? Kyrie couldn’t lead the Celtics past the second round with a good group, I can’t even imagine the nightmare of Kyrie being the leader of a 17 win team with almost strictly young guys.  

My last problem isn’t exactly a problem with Kyrie, but it’s a problem none the less, the New York media. Kyrie was furious with the Boston media all last season, and while Boston media can get annoying, New York media takes that up about 10 notches. I don’t know how he’d react to the media in New York, and if he is the leader of this Knicks team, he might want out as fast as he wanted in.  

Kyrie is an incredible player, someone who’d bring exciting basketball back to the Garden. I think he has been a little unfairly treated by the media and wasn’t used to being the leader, but what I said still remains true. If the Knicks can’t get a guy like KD, Kawhi, or even Jimmy Butler, I would stay very, VERY far away from Kyrie.  

Thanks for reading my piece, if you enjoyed and want more of my work, you can check out my articles on my twitter @ItsBrizz.   

 

Sources:

Kyrie’s Quotes: https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/celtics/2019/02/01/kyrie-irving-backpedals-boston-celtics-commitment/2743445002/  

https://larrybrownsports.com/basketball/kyrie-irving-interesting-quote-walking-into-arena/486464

 

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NFL Super Bowl Odds

As the NFL Draft wrapped up in Nashville on Saturday evening, big football fans are already excited for the upcoming season. We are about 4 months away from regular season NFL football, and the clock continues to tick. With the offseason nearly complete, experts are starting to map out their contenders and pretenders before the season. Obviously, not everyone will be right, and there is bound to be a team with high expectations that disappoints. But I’m going to take my crack at picking six teams who I believe are safe bets to make a run at the Lombardi Trophy in 2020. After that, I’m going to end by giving you my rankings for the other NFL teams in terms of best to worst bets and compare them to some data gathered from this article on early Super Bowl 54 odds. Let’s get into it!

 

The Favorite: New England Patriots

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MyTop SportsBook Odds: +700 (co-favorite)

 

You cannot bet against Tom Brady and the Pats until they prove otherwise. The dynasty is coming off of yet another Super Bowl Title and the G.O.A.T. is looking to add another ring. The Patriots had an interesting offseason, losing Trey Flowers, Cordarrelle Patterson, Trent Brown, and a few others. But they also acquired Michael Bennett via trade and brought back Phillip Dorsett, Jason McCourty, and special teams Star Matthew Slater. At 7-1 odds (according to MTSB), there really is nothing to lose by betting on Bill Belichick’s boys in Foxboro.

 

The Team To Avoid: Kansas City Chiefs

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MyTop SportsBook Odds: +700 (co-favorite)

 

I truly think Patrick Mahomes is the best player in football right now, but I don’t know how this Chiefs offense will flow without speedy wideout Tyreek Hill, who was huge for them in 2018 and will likely face a long suspension. MyTop SportsBook says it bluntly and straight-forward, right now you shouldn’t bet on the Chiefs, because 7-1 odds are a bad bet with their current franchise State. Obviously, the Chiefs are still a serious contender, but I just can’t list them as my co-favorite alongside New England right now.

 

My Sleeper Team: Atlanta Falcons

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MyTop SportsBook Odds: +3500 (19th best)

 

This is quite honestly a great bet to place down right now, because I think the Falcons will surprise a lot of people this season. They haven’t really been fully healthy as a unit since 2017, and this season marks another shot at redeeming their forgettable Super Bowl loss. With guys like Deion Jones and Devonta Freeman back on the field, Atlanta isn’t a team to sleep on. As long as they have former NFL MVP Matt Ryan tossing the pigskin, they will compete in the NFC South.

 

My Odds:

 

*(These are basically a power rankings list of which teams I’d bet on from highest to lowest.  MyTop SportsBook Odds are in parentheses.)*

 

Patriots (7-1)

Saints (9-1)

Rams (9-1)

Chargers (16-1)

Bears (12-1)

Chiefs (7-1)

Eagles (14-1)

Colts (16-1)

Browns (12-1)

Packers (20-1)

Cowboys (20-1)

Texans (25-1)

Steelers (22-1)

Vikings (22-1)

Seahawks (25-1)

Ravens (30-1)

Falcons (35-1)

Panthers (55-1)

Jaguars (35-1)

49ers (25-1)

Redskins (150-1)

Broncos (60-1)

Titans (70-1)

Raiders (66-1)

Lions (90-1)

Jets (80-1)

Bills (100-1)

Giants (75-1)

Buccaneers (75-1)

Bengals (150-1)

Dolphins (150-1)

Cardinals (100-1)

 

NBA 2018-19 MVP Odds

NBA 2018-2019 MVP Odds, By Bryce Olds (@ItsBrizz)

The 2018-19 NBA Regular Season has come to a close, meaning the debates about MVP are now raging more than ever before. I believe it’s down to two players, James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. These two have had incredible seasons, but there is only one MVP trophy, and I have some odds to determine who it should be.

The last set of NBA MVP odds were unanimous that Giannis Antetokounmpo was the favorite, but online sportsbooks believed the race was closer than those in Vegas. In early April, Bovada gave James Harden a +150 (40%) chance, while BetOnline had Harden at +180 (35.7%). The Westgate Superbook in Vegas, on the other hand, only gave Harden a +300 (25%) shot, while making Giannis a prohibitive -400 (80%) favorite. Whether it’s Bovada or BetOnline all these sportsbooks in this comparison chart are pre-screened to guarantee that they’re safe sites to place bets at, so you can be guaranteed it’s a safe option for NBA MVP or playoff betting.


Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Odds: -100

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I think Giannis is the all-out favorite for the MVP, and he’d get my vote. Harden has had a statistically great season but in terms of team success, Giannis takes it for me. He led the Bucks to a 60-22 season, best in the NBA and looks like his form is keeping up in the playoffs so far.


James Harden’s Odds: +100

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I think Harden’s season has been great, but Giannis’ has just been a touch better. Not to discredit Harden’s performance this year, but Giannis has turned the corner this year and I think he should take home his first MVP. Despite that its illogical to ignore the tremendous season offered up by last year’s MVP. In reality Giannis will all but certainly win this award but Harden did in no doubt give some contention. 


Thanks for reading my first Pro Sports Fandom article, I am excited to join the team and I hope to be adding new content very soon! If you’d like to drop my personal twitter a follow, click here!

 

The Obstructed Big Ten Review-2018

It was a different vibe after last season in the world of the Big Ten. Sure, they had failed to get a team into the Playoff, but the compass was pointing north. Michigan’s recruiting would get them off the snide, Michigan State had just won another 10 games, Penn State was strong, Wisconsin was strong (and many projected them to finally take that step), Purdue and Northwestern were looking to make massive strides as was Minnesota. And Iowa was Iowa (in a good way)

Then the 2018 season happened. Michigan and Ohio State fulfilled their end of the bargain, though for Ohio State, controversy plagued them and they had too many close calls to the weaker squads. Penn State had hiccups along the way. Michigan State and Wisconsin both disappointed. Purdue got off to a slow start as had Northwestern. And Minnesota was up-and-down. And Iowa was Iowa (in a bad way) And what you got was no team for the second straight year making the Playoff from the Big Ten.

So the question now is, can the Big Ten return to being that conference that was a massive threat not just for the Playoff, but a national championship.

In the Big Ten East, it was Ohio State despite all the controversy. However, the Buckeye close calls and the beatdown loss to Purdue really eliminated them from a talk on the Playoff. Michigan’s slow start at Notre Dame probably hindered their shot and their fate was sealed in Columbus where they had no response to the Buckeyes. Penn State’s two home losses to Ohio State and Michigan State deflated their season and the beatdown that was given to them by Michigan set them back. Michigan State’s offensive woes were horrid to the point they nearly collapsed in their final regular season game to Rutgers. Indiana, Maryland, and Rutgers all remained a struggle (though the Terrapins did knock off Texas for the second straight year).

The Big Ten West was a mess. Northwestern won the division at 8-4. Wisconsin, who many had to be a favorite for the title, had issues with the offense and at times defense, and realized the schedule wasn’t as easy as years before fell apart. Iowa never gained consistency nor did Purdue nor Minnesota. Nebraska got off to a very slow start, but turned it up in the second half of the season. And Illinois….um, yeah.

So looking back at my godawful predictions, let’s see what I got right, wrong, and also let’s see what to look ahead on.

Huge turnover rate from the year before, tougher schedule, and issues at quarterback were why I projected Wisconsin to have an off-year and was stunned how others had them as a National Championship contender.

I WAS RIGHT ON: Mostly the Big Ten West, but especially Iowa and Wisconsin. Iowa because while many feel like they are pretty vanilla in terms of how they play football, it isn’t like they rank near the bottom and stink yearly. I had them in 2nd place at 8-4 so voila. Wisconsin I was right on. I didn’t like their schedule. The turnover rate for returning starters was pretty high. Alex Hornibrook is not anyone’s answer (have fun with him Florida State fans) and their schedule was pretty tough compared to years prior. Though to be fair, the losses at home to BYU and Minnesota took me aback.

I WAS WRONG ON: The Big Ten East. I’ll just say that. Thank you Michigan State for crashing and burning. Thank you Rutgers for somehow being able to take a major step backwards. Thank you Penn State (notably James Franklin) for faltering against Ohio State and letting it spoil your season. Thank you Michigan for being dominant in games 2 through 11. Thank you Ohio State for winning by the skin of your teeth. Honorable mention goes to Nebraska for their slow start under Scott Frost.

Haskins did everything he could to have Ohio State win the Big Ten

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State. The one thing that the Buckeyes did right and had it not been for him, Ohio State may have ended up 8-4. Haskins did it all at quarterback for the Buckeyes, which really had been up and down since their national championship run in 2014. He made the needed throws, adjusted, and did all the things in order for the Buckeyes to avoid some disaster losses to Nebraska and Maryland. But when the guy was on fire, he was a Heisman lock. He had some moments, but again, he made the adjustments.

COACH OF THE YEAR: Jim Harbaugh, Michigan. Of course, people will be ridiculing him more in part because of the inability of winning the big game against Ohio State (0-4 now) and how Michigan can’t get over that hump. But this was the first time really that the Wolverines looked like a dominant team under Harbaugh prior to that. The recruits are coming in, and with Urban Meyer not on the sidelines in Columbus, he can really take the Big Ten East.

MOST SURPRISING TEAM: None. Nobody really sneaked up an anyone this year.

Lewerke and Michigan State’s offense was anemic at best in 2018

MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAM: Michigan State. The Spartans defense is a top ten defense in the nation. But the offense stepped back to about 50 years ago where they couldn’t pass, couldn’t run, and couldn’t do anything right. Some you can point to the injury to Brian Lewerke, but for only so long. The running game struggled and the special teams were a problem. The hope was with a solid offense to go along with the defense, the Spartans would have been in the mix for the Big Ten title and possibly a playoff. But the offense killed this team.

COACHING CHANGES: Mike Locksley replaces DJ Durkin/Matt Canada at Maryland; Ryan Day replaces Urban Meyer at Ohio State. The big news was Urban Meyer stepped down. Of course there will be debate whether it was Ohio State politely asking him to step aside in light of the controversies that plagued him all season or if Urban really wanted to coach and if his mental state is in question. Anyway…Ryan Day takes over an elite football program and all eyes in Columbus and Buckeye Nation will be on him. If the Buckeyes struggle in 2019 (their schedule isn’t demanding as no power 5 non-conference game happens, and the road game at Michigan is their toughest one right now) and if he can’t beat Michigan, he will be looked at very closely after this year so for him, there’s no “getting accustomed.” It is win or else. Mike Locksley takes over at Maryland again (he was the interim after the Terps fired Randy Edsall and was a meager 1-5), but he went under the tutelage of Nick Saban at Alabama for three seasons including transforming Alabama into an offensive juggernaut. So there is hope perhaps for the Terps with Locksley.

TOP 3 QUESTIONS

Harbaugh vs. Ohio State…..yeesh.

IS IT BOOM OR BUST FOR JIM HARBAUGH? Yes and no. I think yes because he HAS to beat Ohio State now with Urban Meyer gone and the fact the Buckeyes and Michigan State come to Ann Arbor, a place where Harbaugh is 0-4 against both. Next year Michigan’s schedule is VERY favorable of a 12-0/11-1 run (road games at Wisconsin and Penn State are on there, but honestly, I don’t see the Badgers being a threat again nor do I see Penn State look as dominant as they have in the past few seasons). However, while maybe not a Playoff berth will happen, but giving the Wolverines a Big Ten title would also suffice and a return to the Rose Bowl will temporarily satisfy the Maize and Blue faithful. But he has to do something against Ohio State. And it’s not up for debate on that.

IS THERE ANYBODY IN THE BIG TEN WEST THAT CAN LOOK LIKE A MAJOR THREAT TO THE BIG TEN EAST? Nope. Wisconsin showed they were not the legit threat. And until they find something at quarterback and handle a tough road schedule, they cannot be taken seriously. But Michigan, at Ohio State and two interesting road trips to Nebraska and Minnesota (who beat them in Madison this year), and I don’t see the Badgers winning more than 8 or 9 games. Purdue is in a similar situation at quarterback, but if that gets solved, they avoid Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State this year, but three roadies at Penn State, Northwestern, and Wisconsin is going to be tough. Nebraska if the trend continues upward (Ohio State and Wisconsin both are at home), could see the Big Ten Championship game (I said that last year and failed miserably however), but they are a year away at the earliest.

WHO IS ON THE HOTTEST SEAT HEADING INTO 2019? Well probably the obvious is Lovie Smith if Illinois can’t get to a bowl game and given how Smith has now been there for 5 seasons, yep, time is ticking. But also while I don’t think either one is in danger of losing their jobs for next season, both James Franklin (Penn State) and Mark Dantonio (Michigan State) started to get plenty of critics within their own bases. Franklin for not beating any of the Big Ten threats last year (1-5 in the last two seasons against Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State) and Dantonio for having inexplicable futility in some of Michigan State’s losses during the season (home to Northwestern, at Nebraska) and just inept play on offense (3 of the last 4 games the Spartans failed to score a TD and the other game could only muster 14 points to Rutgers…..AT HOME). So both Penn State and Michigan State need rebound years in a big way (of course, both have to travel to Columbus-good luck with that), but people will bicker more if these two teams fail to take that next step.

That’s it for this week.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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76ers Top Pacers

This would be the first game that Joel Embiid would appear in since the last couple of weeks. He scored 18 of his 33 points in the fourth-quarter as the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Indiana Pacers 106-89.

Embiid also grabbed 12 rebounds and recorded two steals. He showed in this game why he is one of the best players in the world right now.

Ben Simmons scored 15 points, grabbed four rebounds, recorded six assists, and recorded one steal. Jimmy Butler scored 12 points, grabbed four rebounds, recorded four assists, blocked one shot, and recorded one steal.

Tobias Harris scored 16 points for Philadelphia. He also grabbed eight rebounds, recorded four assists, blocked one shot, and recorded one steal.

The 76ers scored 21 bench points. James Ennis III and Mike Scott each scored eight points off the bench. Ennis III grabbed five rebounds and recorded one steal. Scott grabbed six rebounds, recorded two assists, and recorded two steals.

Philadelphia’s biggest lead in the game was 18 points and Indiana’s biggest lead in the game was 14 points.

Bojan Bogdanovic scored 18 points, grabbed five rebounds, recorded two assists, and recorded two steals for the Pacers. Darren Collins scored 14 points, grabbed four rebounds, recorded two assists, and recorded one steal.

Indians scored 37 bench points and Domantas Sabonis scored 10 of them. He also grabbed six rebounds, recorded six assists, and recorded one steal.

The Philadelphia 76ers move into the number three spot in the east and the Indiana Pacers move back to the number four spot in the east, even though both teams have an identical 42-25 record right now.

Philadelphia won the season series against Indiana 3-1. The Pacers next game will be at home against the New York Knicks on Tuesday night. The 76ers next game will be at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night.

Manny Machado to Padres: Obstructed Thoughts

One of the last remaining free agents in the off-season in Major League Baseball finally has a home.

Manny Machado and the San Diego Padres agreed to a 10-year, $300 million contract, thus presumably spiking the Padres chances of being a major threat in the NL West.

Machado, a 4-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner with Baltimore, hit .297 with 37 HR last year combined with the Orioles and Dodgers while registering an impressive .905 OPS in the process. Many felt like he may be more of an asset to a team than current prized free agent Bryce Harper (primarily for the position on the field). However, some wondered after his comments about not hustling every play would diminish his contract chances. Needless to say, that’s a firm no.

So what are some takes I have on this?

PADRES MADE A GREAT MOVE: I get it: you don’t want to shell out $30 mil per year for the next ten years if your team signed him. However, San Diego is close to just having a sick team with the farm system they have led by Fernando Tatis Jr. (a guy whom my friend says is a can’t miss-to which I won’t really dispute; he’s going to be something else). Also, it has been too long for Padres fans to really get pumped up about the MLB season. There was false hope in 2015 when the Padres signed James Shields and then traded for Justin Upton and Wil Myers. But that failed miserably. But with Machado, Myers, Hunter Renfroe, and Eric Hosmer, it’s now a formidable lineup and if they get Manuel Margot going, it will be very scary. So to me, with everything falling in place in San Diego, this is a sign that the Padres are now a threat in the NL West to the Dodgers.

BRYCE HARPER STILL NOT OUT OF DISCUSSION WITH THE PADRES: If you could only imagine the Padres throwing out that money to Machado, and then they could still get Bryce Harper? It’s possible. Not probable, but possible. I don’t know if a team can invest in TWO $30 million guys for ten years, but stranger things have happened before.

SAN DIEGO IS ONE TEAM WHO CAN AFFORD MACHADO/HARPER WITHOUT MUCH CONSEQUENCE: I think a reason why the Padres signed Machado was because of their standing financially and from a roster standpoint. The big spenders of the Cubs, Red Sox, and Yankees were not even remotely rumored to pick up Machado in part because of their payrolls. The Dodgers did a payroll shift when they traded Kemp, Puig, and Alex Wood to Cincinnati, thus making people believe Harper is going there (and still very well could). And the teams like the Cubs and Yankees will be looking at mega extensions to their young stars such as Kris Bryant, Aaron Judge and so forth. San Diego has a great load of talent in the farm system, but while we could see the Padres start displaying their young guns, they are safe from having to lock down any of their stars in the foreseeable future. That is also why I think the Chicago White Sox have been active trying to get Harper or Machado.

IT WILL BE A FUN YEAR IN SAN DIEGO: Again, the Padres have desperately tried to put out a winner in the last few years but have come up short in a big way. Ever since the team moved to PETCO Park the offense has been a very weak point and people have not taken the Padres seriously. Machado is a great hitter who doesn’t necessarily needs to rake it out all the time. He can hit them in the gaps and elsewhere. Put him with a crew of Hosmer and Myers, and you have a pretty good crew there. It may be another year before we really see how legit San Diego is, but they will be pretty exciting nonetheless.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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Bruce Arians Named Head Coach of Buccaneers; Can They Go From Worst to First?

Bruce Arians was hired to be the new head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is 66 years old. Arians will also have a four-year deal and a fifth-year team option, according to a source that told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Bruce Arians retired after the 2017 season with the Arizona Cardinals. One of the reasons why he decided to take this job was because Jason Licht is the general manager for Tampa Bay. He used to work in Arizona’s front office in 2012 as the Director of player personnel and in 2013 as the Vice President of player personnel.

Arians is expected to bring in some interesting names as his assistants. Todd Bowles is expected to be the defensive coordinator for the Buccaneers. He was the head coach for the New York Jets from 2015-2018. Bowles was the defensive coordinator with the Cardinals when Bruce Arians was coaching there.

Harold Goodwin will be the running game coordinator and the offensive line coach. Byron Leftwich will be the passing game coordinator. Leftwich was the Arizona Cardinals Offensive Coordinator after Week 7. Clyde Christensen will be the quarterbacks coach.

With Bruce Arians being hired as the new head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is it possible this football team moves from worst place in the NFC South to first place in the NFC South in 2019?

Tampa Bay will be a much better football team next season with the presence of Arians alone. He will be the alpha male this team needs in the locker room. Bruce Arians will discipline quarterback Jameis Winston really well.

The offense has a lot of talent. They have players like Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard, and Cameron Brate. The Buccaneers also have Peyton Barber, Ronald Jones, and Jacquizz Rodgers in the backfield, but they might be able to find another running back in the draft or sign someone in free agency. A player like Le’Veon Bell could do the trick for this Tampa Bay team.

The defense has some good personnel like Gerald McCoy, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Lavonte David. They need to draft some more defensive personnel, but Bowles could fix this defensive scheme. Tampa Bay played a 4-3 defensive scheme last season and they could very well switch to a 3-4 defensive scheme for next season.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have seven picks in the NFL Draft. They will own the fifth overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Tampa Bay finished with a 5-11 record for the past two seasons. They haven’t made it to the playoffs since the 2007 season when the Buccaneers finished in first place in the NFC South with a 9-7 record. They lost in the first-round that season against the New York Giants.

Speaking of first place, it won’t be easy for Tampa Bay to jump from worst to first because of the schedule they have to face. Their homes next season will be against the Atlanta Falcons, the Carolina Panthers, the New Orleans Saints, the Arizona Cardinals, the San Francisco 49ers, the Houston Texans, the Indianapolis Colts, and the New York Giants.

Their road games will be against the Atlanta Falcons, the Carolina Panthers, the New Orleans Saints, the Detroit Lions, the Jacksonville Jagaurs, the Tennessee Titans, the Los Angeles Rams, and the Seattle Seahawks.

Five of those teams on Tampa Bay’s schedule made it to the playoffs this past season.

They could be an 8-8 or 9-7 team next season. The New Orleans Saints will probably be the best team in the division again next season. The Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers both missed the playoffs this season after making it to the postseason a season ago.

Arians’s record with the Arizona Cardinals from 2013-2017 was 49-30-1. He made the playoffs twice with them. I don’t think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will win the NFC South next season, but it is very possible they could be one of the two wild card teams in the NFC.

Packers Hire Matt Lafleur

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The Packers search for a new head coach is over. Looking to update a stagnant offense Green Bay has seen fit to hire Titans offensive coordinator Matt Lafleur. Lafleur reportedly edged out fellow front runner Todd Monken, Tampa OC.

Mariota

Lafleur’s style of offense has generally centered around two TE sets. What the Packers have seen however, is a coach with the ability to adapt his offense when top TE talent goes down. A Lafleur-style offense utilizes the best 11 guys on the offensive side of the ball, although ideally two of which are at the TE position. Delanie Walker and Jonnu Smith couldn’t stay healthy in Tennessee and Lafleur was still able to put a productive product on the feild.

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If you look back, Lafleur has quite the “under the radar” resumé. In Washington he was the quarterback coach that helped RGIII get rookie of the year honors. Also while in Washington he assisted Kirk Cousins in convincing the rest of the league that he should be one of the highest paid QBs. While in Atlanta he helped Matt Ryan win an MVP award and took the Falcons to the superbowl as quarterback coach. A stint with the Rams as offensive coordinator saw Lafleur turn Jared Goff’s career around. Lastly Lafleur was able to make lemonade out of dirt with a below average and oft injured offense in Tennessee.

Aaron Rodgers

The Packers liked what they saw and felt the need to jump on Lafleur quickly. On the surface this hire doesn’t look like much, but when you dig into Lafleur’s past it could be the answer for Green Bay. One question looms, however, how will Lafleur and QB Aaron Rodgers get along?

The Obstructed Cotton Bowl Preview

We finally are getting near to the Playoff games. Instead of making it New Year’s Day or New Year’s Eve, College football put it on a few days before. I guess that works for me….

This year’s Playoff marks a few things: the four teams in (Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, Oklahoma) went a combined 50-1 (the lone loss was by Oklahoma who exacted the revenge in the Big 12 title game against Texas). It marks the first time that we not only have one, not two, but three undefeated teams going into it. And now we have a 50% chance that we will see our first 15-0 team in college football in the Playoff era (Alabama or Clemson) or 14-0 team (Notre Dame). So it should be fun all around. The first preview is Clemson and Notre Dame. I will do the Alabama-Oklahoma preview later today or tomorrow.

COTTON BOWL: #2 CLEMSON VS. #3 NOTRE DAME, 4:00, ESPN: This game is going to be one I’ve had a slightly tough time figuring out. People are just automatically handing Clemson the W while some are saying Notre Dame is going to pull off the shocker. I can see it both ways. Clemson from a talent standpoint is probably better. However, anything happens on a football field. Notre Dame has played to their opponents levels at times (Ball State, Vanderbilt, USC) while getting up for their bigger opponents (Michigan, Syracuse) and showing they are legit. Obviously the look will be to an Irish fan they will get up for Clemson and I don’t dispute that. But will it be enough to overtake Clemson?

CLEMSON WINS IF:

  1. SCORE EARLY AND OFTEN: Easier said than done. Notre Dame save for the USC game hasn’t been down much in the season. If you want to see how the Irish respond to it, attack early. Clemson has a lot of weapons and firepower so it is possible they try for a knockout blow early.
  2. KEEP IAN BOOK UNCOMFORTABLE: Since Notre Dame named him the starter he has been on top of it and done a great job directing the offense. The way you change it is if you have a pass rush constantly getting at Book. And Clemson has that as well. If they can jump after the Irish quarterback, it may be a long game for Notre Dame.
  3. TAKE THE POINTS WHEN THEY CAN: One thing that at times Dabo Swinney does and can be frustrating is not take up points when they have the chance (i.e. go for it deep within opponents territories on 4th downs). I know you need to be aggressive at times, but sometimes when you leave points out there, it really comes back to bite them. I’m thinking of a game Clemson had with A&M had the Aggies not fumbled it at the goal line late where Clemson opted not to kick a late field goal to add to their lead at half. Instead they went for it and failed. It also dictated the tempo for the second half for Texas A&M. If they do that here, I don’t know if lightning will strike twice here for Clemson. And while Notre Dame has a good offense, it is not Oklahoma or Alabama where they HAVE to trade touchdowns.

NOTRE DAME WINS IF:

  1. THEY PROTECT BOOK: Clemson’s defense is good, but the secondary at times can be suspect. If the Tigers pass rush is shut down or they do not dictate the tempo, the secondary gets exposed. Back to the Texas A&M game where it seemed like Clemson was getting gashed and ran out of gas at the end of the game. And that was when the pass rush was still decent if I am not mistaken.
  2. THEY KEEP TREVOR LAWRENCE OFF THE FIELD: Goes back to the first one. Book gets protected, they get a few first downs, it really will wear out the Tigers defense. And it will not give Lawrence the rhythm THAT he needs. Notre Dame’s defense is pretty good, but Lawrence can show he can throw against the better defenses. But anything to keep Lawrence from taking over the game will be huge and anything that keeps him off the field will be keeping him from taking over the game.
  3. BRIAN KELLY HAS AN A+ GAMEPLAN: Kelly has been a polarizing character at Notre Dame since he took over. The years he has the Irish as a top 5-10 program he looks like he is a genius coach and fans are off his back. The years he is 8-4, 7-5, or worse he is the worst coach in Irish history. A part of it is I think is how his gameplans have been. In other words, play the odds to his advantage, don’t take any unnecessary risks, and put trust into your leaders on the field. Getting up for Clemson isn’t going to be hard for Notre Dame, but keeping the mistakes down is going to be a key factor whether the Irish will be playing in the National Championship game or going home. So Kelly has to find a plan where the mistakes will be cut down as much as possible.

OVERALL PREDICTION: When I saw this as the “official” game (I think we all had it penned after the conference championship games were over), I said Clemson would win in a blowout. I don’t think the Irish have the same talent or the horses as the Tigers have. But, Notre Dame will be up for this game. And I think Kelly will have them prepared well. Again, it will be if Notre Dame can protect Ian Book and to me that will decide the game. Clemson will get their points. But the Irish need to limit that by finding ways to keep the Tigers offense standing on the sidelines. I think this game will be close for three quarters and the Irish frustrate Clemson on both sides of the ball. But I do think Lawrence will make the plays he needs to make down the stretch and I do think the defense will get to Book in the second half where Book will have problems making plays and forcing passes. Clemson pulls away in the 4th quarter. CLEMSON 34, NOTRE DAME 24

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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Dodgers Trade Kemp, Puig, and Wood to Reds

This past Friday the Los Angeles Dodgers traded Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, and Alex Wood to the Cincinnati Reds for Homer Bailey (who was released), and prospects Jeter Downs (Reds #7 prospect) and Josiah Gray (#20 prospect). Backup catcher Kyle Farmer also goes to Cincinnati in a part of the deal.

Obviously the trade sent shockwaves. Kemp, Puig, and Wood were key contributors for the Dodgers last year in their World Series run and the latter two a key run in 2017. And they get, a couple of prospects. But the story is, the Dodgers unloaded a lot of money in order to spend on key free agents remaining. Obviously, the key free agent that everybody is pointing to is Nationals star Bryce Harper, who lives in nearby Las Vegas and right now there isn’t much in the way of a market who can spend for what Harper wants. So it’s somewhat feeling like this was a move to bring in Harper for sure. I don’t think any Dodger fan minds ending up with Harper. So from that perspective you see what the Dodgers are doing. And they hope with Harper in the fold, they can get over the hump in the World Series.

For the Reds, well it is very interesting. Nobody really knew what way they were going after they non-tendered Billy Hamilton, a defensive stud but an offensive liability. But the NL Central is a fight right now with Milwaukee, Chicago, and St. Louis and Cincinnati felt like it was time to throw their hat back in the fold. Kemp (in his 4th team in 4 years) and Puig (who probably needs a fresh start elsewhere) obviously add more pop to a lineup with Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez, and Scooter Gennett. So it makes the Reds lineup just as stacked as the Brewers and Cubs. Of course where the Reds really lag is pitching, and they hope to answer some of that issue with Wood. Wood is probably not an “Ace” material pitcher but he upgrades that rotation that was pretty rough last year. He is a strong #2 or #3 pitcher who can get the job done and keep his team in games. If he continues to develop as a star pitcher, this could be the biggest piece for the Reds.

Overall this trade will be looked on as a trade similar to what we see in the NBA now as teams are moving players for the sake of money. I’m not personally fond of it, but I get why the Dodgers did it. If they get in Bryce Harper and with a healthy Corey Seager the Dodgers have to be considered favorites once more. The Reds will try to figure into things in the NL Central and the NL Wild Card assuming Kemp continues his upward trend and Puig can stay healthy. So time will tell on how this goes.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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