Who’s Going To Be The NFL’s Worst Team?

I don’t like trashing teams.  Unless their is a serious issue within a coaching staff, or suspension, I don’t do it.  I’ve trashed the league.  I may have to do it again, depending on how the Josh Gordon suspension goes down.

The point here isn’t to rant on a team.  The point is trying to predict who’s going to own the No.1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.  Yes, I’m selecting my candidates for the worst team this year.  Unfortunately, I don’t enjoy this.  The teams that are candidates will probably be picking in the top five come May.  And if your a fan of one of these teams, well, good luck.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The most likely team to be really bad this year are the poor Jaguars.  Poor fans.  They selected Blake Bortles No.3 overall, and plan not to play him at all this season.  He’s shown in the Preseason that he could start, and is a lot better than Chad Henne.  Bortles has a rocket arm.  But, he doesn’t have receivers.  Justin Blackmon is gone for this year.  Cecil Shorts is good, but is constantly injured.  They added Marquis Lee in the Draft, which should help.  The problem is neither one of these guys are some one a rookie quarterback should trust.  I hope Blake Bortles turns out.  Watching him in this past year’s Fiesta Bowl was really fun.  He has the talent, he just needs some help.  No more than six wins for this team, and that’s being nice.

Oakland Raiders

The second most likely team to be bad this year are the Oakland (or San Antonio) Raiders.  They acquired Matt Schaub from Houston, and drafted Derek Carr.  Schaub didn’t deserve the heat last year.  He’s not great, but he lead a Texans team to the playoffs two years ago.  He did have a lot of help though.  The Raiders brought in a lot of talent on defense.  Justin Tuck came over from the Giants and brought back Charles Woodson. They also added LaMarr Woodley.  Overall, this team doesn’t have a good coach, they don’t know where their even playing, and they have no offensive weapons.  The receivers they have are good fantasy guys, and that’s it.  It’s not like Schaub is going to put it up in the air for them.  If all else fails this season, play Matt McGloin. (Yes, I said that)

Tennessee Titans

The Titans come in third, all though they could easily be first. Ken Whisenhunt is a very good coach.  He is offensive-minded, and can develop QB’s.  I haven’t gave up on Jake Locker.  He needs to stay healthy.  Locker looked great last season until he suffered a horrific hip injury.  If Whisenhunt can develop Locker into a top 15 QB, the Titans might be better.  They have other holes though.  The defense is really bad.  Their isn’t a name that makes you jump, and half the guys I don’t even know.  That’s one problem.  The offensive line is a plus.  They have it set for the future.  On the edges, their pass catchers are not good.  These are notable guys, but they haven’t proven themselves.  None of them are going to go for 1,500 yards and 12 TD’s.  If Locker is going to improve, the Titans need to surround him with people to pass to.  The Titans maximum win total is seven, and if Locker gets hurt, their done.

What’s Happened To The Tigers And Braves?

This week, I will write a two part column about the risers and sinkers in the MLB since the All-Star Break.  This is Part 1, talking about the sinkers.

The Kansas City Royals are in first place in the AL Central.  Yes, you read that right.  They haven’t been in 1st place this late in the season since 2003.  They haven’t made the playoffs since 1985, when they won the World Series.

Then their’s the Tigers.  One of the most dominate teams over the past couple of years.  They haven’t gotten to their cherished goal, a World Series title.  They’eve came close.  Now, their playoff hopes are becoming dashed.  So what happened?

The first problem is their bullpen.  They traded for Joakim Soria, who is currently on the DL.  They got a struggling Jim Johnson, and Joe Nathan.  All three of these guys are former All-Stars.

Their bullpen is worse than the Tigers believe.  They have names, as listed above, plus Joba Chamberlian. Again, this team should be better.  They have a decorated starting rotation, including three Cy Young winners.  The offense isn’t a worry.  The Tigers are simply in a slump.  They sit two games back of the Royals in the AL Central.  More concerning, they are barely in a Wild Card spot.  They are tied for the 2nd Wild Card spot.

So what needs to happen? Well, a couple of things.  First, the Tigers need thier bullpen to step up, and Soria will help. Second, the Royals need to slow down.  The Royals toughest test the rest of the season are the Tigers.  Slowing down? Good luck.

Another team that has slid, the Atlanta Braves, are in a worse spot than the Tigers.  I was very high on this Braves team this year.  I knew the Nationals had a great roster, but with a new manager, I didn’t put my heart on them.  Knowing they were going to contend for a Wild Card at least, I didn’t underestimate them. I also didn’t prepare myself for what would happen to the Braves the second half of the season.  It started when they released Dan Uggla, their struggling 2B, who then failed with the Giants.  Then, they just fell apart. They lost eight in a row from July 29-August 6.  All though sweeping the A’s this past weekend, the Braves have to get themselves out of this hole.  They have a pretty easy schedule through the end of the month.  They need to get their mojo back.  If the Braves win games, they can get themselves back in the race.

The Tigers are more likely to make the playoffs at this point of the two.  They have great pitching, starters wise, and have a killer lineup.  The Royals have a decent lead in the Central, so the Tigers will probably have to settle for a Wild Card.  The Braves are in a tougher spot.  The Giants and Cardinals are better teams than the Braves, and they sit ahead of the Braves.  With their easy rest of August schedule, the Braves may creep back into the race.

Part Two Coming Friday

Who Should The Minnesota Vikings Start At Quarterback?

Saturday night’s Preseason game between the Minnesota Vikings and my beloved Arizona Cardinals was probably the most exciting Preseason game ever.  A common trend during Preseason is high scoring games and blowouts.  This one went down to the wire.  It produced crazy touchdowns off of fumbles and game winning drives.  The Vikings ended up winning, 30-28, on a game-winning touchdown pass from Teddy Bridgewater.

That’s leads into the discussion in this column.  I believe that the Vikings need to reconsider Matt Cassel, who did play the whole first half of Saturday’s game.  Cassel played great, no doubt. He put up 153 yards and one TD, with at 125.3 rating.  Many suggest that Cassel has built a burden to high for Bridgewater to catch.  He has the experience and leadership.  It’s matter of the Vikings taking the chance on Bridgewater starting Week 1.  Once you play a rookie QB, you really can’t bench him.  Bridgewater put up 177 yard and 2 TD performance Saturday, with a rating of 136.9.  The real highlight was the final drive.  The Vikings were down to Cardinals after they scored a weird touchdown with 1:11 left.  Bridgewater led the Vikings down the field, with his rocket arm and his receivers getting out of bounds.  He ended up throwing the winning pass with 18 seconds left.  It was really impressive, and made many people hop on Bridgewater.

But then, a great point was made by Peter Schrager of Fox Sports, one that kind of killed the spirit though.

What’s my take? Well, I think the Vikings need to wait until after their 3rd preseason game against the Chiefs.  At this point, Cassel has the job.  If the Vikings want to see Bridgewater try to overtake him, start him Saturday.  I don’t think the Vikings feel this way though.  They want to start the veteran Week 1, watch him collapse, then play Bridgewater.

It no doubt that Bridgewater will see action against the Chiefs.  I believe he earned a preseason start.  This would show what he is like against a 1st team defense.

It funny how Teddy was supposed to be the No.1 overall pick by the Texans in May.  Then the extra month kicked in, and people started to pick him apart.  He had a bad combine and a worse Pro Day.  He blamed it on not wearing a glove.  Anyways, the Vikings need to take some more time on this.  I really believe Bridgewater could start Week 1.  If he continues to play at this level, especially against a 1st team defense, Matt Cassel could be on the bench.

It’s most likely Matt Cassel starts Week 1 against St. Louis, collapses by Week 7, and they start Bridgewater Week 8 at Buffalo.  The Vikings have a horrid stretch after playing the Rams, with Patriots, Saints, Falcons, Packers and Lions in the following weeks.  It very possible they start 1-5, or even 0-6.

That’s the worse case at QB.  This offense has many weapons.  They just need a QB who can play well enough.  The defense is shaky, but with Mike Zimmer, a former defensive coordinator, it should improve.  Again, the start to the season will be rough.  They could improve, but no more than eight wins for this team.

More NFL Preview To Come…

What Rob Manfred Needs To Address As MLB’s New Commissioner

The MLB introduced Rob Manfred Thursday as the new Commissioner of the MLB. Bud Selig, longtime commissioner, is retiring in January.  Selig accomplished many great things during his tenure that affect the game today, like interleague play.  Manfred was the most ready out of the three candidates.  We ask ourselves come draft time in sports, who is the most professional ready?  Well, Manfred was most ready for this spot.  A sidepiece to Selig over the years, Manfred was like Adam Silver was to David Stern.  But enough about Selig, Manfred has many issues he needs to table now or this Winter in San Diego.

The home-plate collision rule is the number one problem in the majors right now.  As we saw last week, there were four instances where the umpires were either confused or wrong.  The rule is not understood by ALL the umpires in the game.

Rule 7.13, addressing home-plate collisions
Rule 7.13, addressing home-plate collisions

The real issue is the second part.  Umpires are not understanding the correct meaning of the pathway.

In the video above, Tyler Flowers foot is blocking the plate. Even though Gregor Blanco never touched the plate, and Blanco was tagged, and the umpires called him safe.  This is what the rule says. The umpires followed the rule.  However, Ventura lost it. Why? It’s simply unfair.  If the catcher isn’t allowed anywhere near the plate, how is he supposed to field the ball, and tag out the runner? It’s nearly impossible.  His outrage was part defending his catcher, and the fact that the night before, almost the same play occurred.  The Giants, again got the advantage, but it was opposite possession.

The rule has done it’s main job, which is preventing home-plate collisions.  The emphasis on the issue really came about after Buster Posey’s horrific injury a couple year ago.

I believe that the confusion on this rule needs to be addressed before the playoffs.  They could just abolish it until Winter, and re-due it.  I don’t think it is smart to change a rule during the season, especially since this is a rule that affects the game.  But then there is the counter to that, if it affects the game, then doesn’t it need attention as soon as possible?  It’s a complicated issue.  The other thing people need to realize is that we all knew that replay was need last season, but we went through last year’s postseason without the system that we have this season!  We watched the obstruction call in Game 3 of last year’s World Series go by….

Just think about that.

And that leads to the next issue, which is nowhere near as urgent.  The new replay system this season is a massive relief. It has made the stress on umpires decrease (Umpires seem to be a common factor so far, more on that later), and it gets the calls right. It does need tweaks, though.  Many of these issues overlap, like time.  The length of the replays are sometimes ridiculous.  Anything that is over 3 minutes is a little to much, and in a age where the goal is to make the game shorter, it needs to be addressed.  I know it’s about getting the call right, but the shorter time, the better it makes it look. Again, this isn’t major, but it needs to be looked at this Winter.

The next (it’s not a issue or problem) topic that Rob Manfred needs to address is the fact that baseball is fading.  Ticket sales are fine, and revenue exploded during Selig’s term, so much that a salary cap isn’t needed, but the people of my generation are not interested.  They care more about their twitter feed.  They even play the game! They don’t watch it.  Honestly, to them (not me) it’s boring.  The pace of the game is simply to slow.  Do I agree? Yes and no.  Let’s put it this way. Sports that are more popular among my generation are football and basketball, by far.  These are up-beat, fast paced sports. Action is taking place while that clock is running.  Baseball, action happens every 15-20 seconds, for 5 seconds, then it stops.  That’s the problem. People my age aren’t interested.  And if they play the game, why aren’t they watching?! They should be watching every little thing that happens, wanting to understand more.  Baseball isn’t boring.  People have cared about this game before any other major sport.  It just needs some more action.  We can’t help that pitchers are dominating right now.  It’s totally a pitchers league.  Do people like hitting more than pitching? Nobody knows that!  The fact is that the MLB needs to do something to speed the game up.  That’s be the real issue.  I have my ideas, but most of them have been floated by other personalities.  This is a topic that should be tabled this Winter.  It’s definitely a long-term situation.

We cap this by talking about the umpires.  Umpires are great, and most of them know their stuff.  This gets back to the home-plate rule.  We need to know that all the umpires understand the rules.  It’s just a check-up.  Come playoff time, the umpires need to know the details of each rule.

Rob Manfred is definitely capable to tackle these issues.   It’s just a matter of what is tabled when.

Again, Manfred was most ready, and was probably the right choice.  However, it would’eve been very interesting to see Tom Werner get the job.  Werner would’eve added a prospective to the office that no other candidate would.  That would be the fact that he worked, as a major figure in one of baseball’s best franchises, the Boston Red Sox.  He has a prospective that no else had.  He would see it through a baseball franchise’s eyes.  He would make his decisions not for the Red Sox, and not benefiting them, but he would go, “How would a team feel about this?” I feel like this should of been going through the owners minds while voting.  Again, Manfred was probably the right decision.

Baseball’s got a bright future.  Hopefully Manfred can make the right decisions and power baseball through the next 15 years.

What Are Reasonable Expectations For The Media’s Teams?

There are teams in the NFL that media loves.  The teams that have the starry names, the teams that have the players who can’t shut up.  The media loves them.  They usually aren’t great teams, as you will see below.

Who are these teams? New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys.

See? Are any of these teams great? Even good?  No, not really.  This is where this gets confusing. How can the media become attached to bad teams?  It’s because of who they acquire (Browns), where the franchise is located (Jets), and the story lines the produce (Cowboys).  So what are their expectations?

Cleveland Browns

This team has had a media firestorm since they drafted Johnny Manziel.  It’s a constant story line.  Predictions, analysis, debates.  It’s all about him.  He needs to start Week 1.  I believe he is the better quarterback.  The issue starting him is that you can’t bench him.  You will ruin his confidence, and could lead to other issues.  If you start Brian Hoyer, which may be the smarter decision, you’ll have the crazy fans screaming “PUT IN JOHNNY!!!!!!!!!!!”.  It easily could be a lose-lose.  Josh Gordon will be gone at least six games.  I hope he would be.  It would be completely ridiculous if he got anything less. The media and other personalities are way to high on this team.  They have a good defense, but your quarterback is important, and the Browns don’t have one that could take them over seven wins, yet.  This team will probably go 6-10, and could be worse.  Cleveland has a lot to look forward to.  Now, they just have to be patient

New York Jets

The Jets brought in Michael Vick this offseason.  They did this to set a standard for Geno Smith.  It’s a threat.  It’s not serious though.  Geno Smith has the talent to succeed.  He needs the right teacher. With some help, he can be very good in this league.  Otherwise, this team is set.  With a top five defense last year, a reliable running back, the X-Factor is Geno Smith.  If he goes sideways, they have a very good backup in place.  If he plays well, this team may contend for a playoff spot.  The AFC is the right conference to do so.  The question mark resides in the secondary.  They lost their 3rd cornerback (depth chart wise) in practice for the season.  Dee Milliner suffered a sprained ankle, but should be ready for Week 1.  Again, they need to stay healthy.  If Geno Smith plays well, and the secondary holds up, watch out.  I think this team can get nine wins, given what I said above.

Dallas Cowboys

This team is one that nobody cares to talk about.  The Cowboys just feed the media, and can’t preform on the field.  Reports are suggesting that Tony Romo is no where close to 100% after a back surgery this off season.  This team’s defense is going to be horrendous.  They could be the worst in history.  It’s a complete cluster there.  The offense could put up points, but you need defense.  (This puts me in bad mood when I talk about them) Anyways, this team will win six games.  Vegas should put their over/under at 6.5.  I can’t really decide.  Their not going to be good, lets put it that way.

More NFL Preview To Come……

 

College Football Bowl Season and Playoff Predictions

As we enter a new era of college football, a even more grand column is written.  Previewing the “Bowl Season” games on top of the “at-large”, committee picked bowls, and the Playoff is a lot of predictions.  I highly doubt that even 80% of them will be right, but this is for fun.  The “Bowl Season” games still consist of a conference vs. conference format.  The “committee” picked bowl games are strictly at-large. The best teams who didn’t make the Playoff.  Then we have the new, updated, and fair playoff system.  The committee picks the top four teams in the nation, seeds them, and they play two semi-finals games.  The winners advance to a National Championship game.  This should provide more excitement and certainly more fairness among the teams.

Bowl Season Games (Non-Committee Picked)

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl- Louisiana Lafayette vs. Air Force

Gildan New Mexico Bowl- SMU vs.Fresno State

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl- Boise State vs. Oregon State

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl- Bowling Green vs.San Diego State

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (New)- Buffalo vs. Arkansas

Miami Beach Bowl (New)- BYU vs. Houston

Boca Raton Bowl (New)- Tulane vs. Ohio

San Diego County Credit Union Bowl- Navy vs. Utah State

Bahamas Bowl (New)- Louisville vs. Ball State

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl- East Carolina vs. San Jose State

Heart of Dallas Bowl- UT-San Antonio vs. Penn State

Detroit Lions Bowl (New)- Syracuse vs. Minnesota

BITCOIN St. Petersburg Bowl- Rutgers vs. Clemson

Military Bowl- Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech

Hyundai Sun Bowl- Georgia Tech vs. Arizona

Duck Commander Independence Bowl- Miami FL vs. Marshall

New Era Pinstripe Bowl- Nebraska vs. Pittsburgh

National University Holiday Bowl-  Illinois vs. Utah

AutoZone Liberty Bowl- Oklahoma State vs. South Carolina

Russell Athletic Bowl- Boston College vs. Kansas State

Advocare Texas Bowl- Texas vs. Kentucky

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl- Michigan vs. Texas A&M

Belk Bowl- North Carolina vs. Vanderbilt

San Francisco Bowl- Ohio State vs. Arizona State

Capital One Bowl- Duke vs. Georgia

Outback Bowl- Wake Forest vs. Ole Miss

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl- Army vs. Central Florida

Tax Slayer Gator Bowl- Iowa vs. Mississippi State

Valero Alamo Bowl- TCU vs. Washington

Cactus Bowl- Texas Tech vs. USC

Birmingham Bowl- Tennesee vs. Memphis

GoDaddy Bowl- Northern Illinois vs South Alabama

 

Now we go to the big ones.  The committee picked, New Years Six.

Committee Picked Bowl Games (Part of New Years Six)

Non-Playoff

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl- Michigan State vs. LSU

Fiesta Bowl- Auburn vs. Stanford

Discover Orange Bowl (Still conference tied)- Missouri vs. Wisconsin

AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic- Alabama vs. UCLA

Playoff Semi-Final Games
The Big 12 gets two teams. I don’t know what other teams are going to be good enough to get in to the Playoff. Baylor vs. Oregon was a incredibly hard decision. If this game actually happens, defense wouldn’t even be a word. This would be a shoot-out, with scores probably in 50’s. Florida State is a somewhat easy pick against Oklahoma. I thought Oklahoma was a little overrated this year, which is why I picked Baylor to win the Big 12. However, Oklahoma will better than Auburn or Alabama.

#1 Florida State vs. #4 Oklahoma

#2 Oregon vs. #3 Baylor

National Championship

#1 Florida State vs #2 Oregon

Not even going to try to decide…

 

Who are the NFL’s Most Unpredictable Teams?

The Preseason has started, and the NFL season is inching closer and closer.  As I continue my grand preview, I will go through this season’s most unpredictable teams.

Really any team with a new coach is a complete question mark. Most teams that have a new coach probably aren’t very good teams at the beginning of the season.  Teams that have quarterback battles in camp are also unpredictable, even though they aren’t a great start to the season.  The NFL Preseason is off, and players are showing why they deserve to be on the team.  It’s a exciting time.  Some could be just as good as last, or could fall apart. It matters where their holes and problems are.

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals, who are my favorite team, had a great season last year at 10-6.  They missed the playoffs in a controversial matter, but mostly because of their division.  The Cardinals could go 10-6 again, but key losses on defense include Daryl Washington, Karlos Dansby and Tyrann Mathieu for half the season.  The Cardinals had a top five defense last year, and we can expect that to slip.  Arizona did add a couple of big name players on offense, including Ted Ginn Jr, Jared Veldheer, and Johnathan Dywer.  The Cardinals need Carson Palmer to be smart.  That’s the big issue.  Carson Palmer isn’t a issue, but he needs to limit his interceptions, after throwing 22 last year.  Palmer has a better offensive line, which should help Palmer make better throws.  Arizona could be 10-6 again, or they could fall because of poor QB play or a struggling defense. Their worse case scenario is 7-9. Best case is 10-6. I don’t expect them to be much better than last year, especially since they have a tougher schedule.

Washington Redskins

The Redskins had disappointing 2013-2014 season.  RG3 didn’t play well, and their defense was atrocious.  They added many players on defense, have a new coach, and added a stud wide-out on offense.  The Redskins are hard to predict because nobody knows how RG3 will play. Unfortunately, he’s the X-Factor.  If he plays well, this team could push 10 wins, if he plays poorly, and the defense isn’t any better, the Redskins could end up close to where they were last year.  A worst case scenario is 4-12, and a best case is 9-7.  They play in a weak division, which will aid them.  The Eagles should be favorited in this division, and this will be highlighted in my prediction column.

Carolina Panthers

This may be very controversial, but the Panthers may not be a great team this year.  Their defense is solid, no doubt.  It’s one of the best in league featuring  Luke Kuechly.  The problem is on the offensive side of the ball.  First, the Panthers are crunched money wise. They have about five million left on their cap, and have many holes on offense.  Carolina had four offensive lineman retire this off-season. The right side of their line is not good looking.  On top of this, QB Cam Newton has no one reliable to throw to. The Panthers wide receivers are Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant, and Kelvin Benjamin.  These are notable names, but they are old or run down, or rookies!  This is the real issue.  Cam Newton has no one to throw too! This team has some serious holes.  It could be a real disappointing season in Charottle.  The Saints should be the favorites, and I expect them to win the division.  If Carolina proves me wrong, they could be in the hunt for a wild card spot.  Their best case is 10-6, and worst is probably 7-9.

More NFL Preview to come….