2019 NFL Predictions: NFC South

It seems like so long ago that the New England Patriots won yet another Super Bowl, but nonetheless, we are all ready for this next season to start. The NFC South has four distinct stories to tell. One of the New Orleans Saints aiming for the Super Bowl, the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers trying to recover from poor seasons and if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can turn some magic into success. Last season was somewhat of a let down since this division was promised to be one of the more competitive ones and in reality, the one one the Saints had to compete was themselves. But hopefully, this season won’t be the case, and perhaps more than one team from this division can make the playoffs?

0 Atlanta Falcons Julio Jones – Tampa Bay Buccaneers Leonard Johnson” by Jack Kurzenknabe is licensed under Public Domain

New Orleans Saints

Last season’s record: 13-3

Post-season result: Lost (debatably) to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship

Offseason acquisitions: 

Signed:

  • RB Latavlus Murray (Minnesota Vikings)
  • DT Malcom Brown (New England Patriots)
  • DE Mario Edwards Jr. (New York Giants)
  • TE Jared Cook (Oakland Raiders)
  • DE Wes Horton (Carolina Panthers)

Drafted:

  • WR Emmanuel Butler

Offseason departures: Released S Kurt Coleman, placed C Max Unger on the retired list and waived DB Chris Campbell.

Preview: All eyes this season will be on Running back Alvin Kamara. It’s highly unlikely that the New Orleans Saints won’t finish first in the NFC South again and the Saints may be NFC favorites for the Super Bowl. Last season’s 883 yards, resulting in 14 touchdowns, took the league by storm. Along with Kamara, the Saints will look to stick with nearly the same team as last season. Saints’ fans will pray that their team doesn’t become plagued with injuries. The Saints did waive most of their draft picks, but those who were retained have shined through in preseason thus far. Even in defense, Marson Lattimore made a name for himself against the New Jersey Jets, forcing a turnover on the 30-yard line. The Saints, last season, ended games really well, but started quite slowly, and if this season, they’re likely to face tougher competition in their conference, can the Saints score more in the first half? 

Prediction: 13-1-2

Carolina Panthers

Last season’s record: 7-9

Post-season result: Didn’t qualify for playoffs (sorry Cam Newton)

Offseason acquisitions: 

Signed:

  • DE Bruce Irvin (Falcons)
  • WR Chris Hogan (Patriots)
  • WR Aldrick Robinson (Minnesota Vikings)
  • RB Javelin Elliott (Dallas Cowboys)
  • LS Andrew DePaola (Oakland Raiders)

Drafted:

  • LB Brian Burns
  • QB Will Grier.

Offseason departures: Released LB Ben Jacobs,  CB Captain Munnerlyn, T Matt Khalil, S Da’Norris Searcy and Waived T Isaiah Battle, G Brendan Mahon andTE Ethan Wolf.

Preview: The Carolina Panthers have been very active in the transfer window and have a lot of work to do if they want to make the playoffs this season. Actually, as long as QB Newton doesn’t get injured, it should happen. With Newton, last season, the Panthers started 6-2, a franchise record. The Panthers have bought well and hopefully, a backup in Greir can prove fruitful to Carolina. However, I feel like the Panthers didn’t work on their defense as much as they did their offense and I wonder if that will cost them. The Panthers’ biggest competition would be a fully-fit Falcons team in competing for that second-place spot. Can the Panthers offense beat the Falcons to second or will their defense hold them back?

Prediction: 9-7

Atlanta Falcons

Last season’s record: 7-9

Post-season result: Didn’t qualify for playoffs (everything kinda went wrong from the start)

Offseason acquisitions: 

Signed:

  • RB Kenjon Barner (Patriots)
  • DT Stefan Charles (San Antonio Commanders)
  • TE Thomas Durate (Los Angeles Chargers)
  • K Blair Walsh (Seattle Seahawks)

Drafted:

  • OT Kaleb McGary
  • RB Tony Brooks James

Offseason departures: Waived DE Brooks Reed, T Ryan Schraeder, CB Rashad Causey, S Jason Thompson, CB Hamp Cheevers, LB Stephone Anthony and OL Tommy Davis.

Preview: Last season, I was quite confident in my prediction that the Atlanta Falcons would make the playoffs, but boy, was I well wrong. Defensive injuries plagued Dan Quinn’s Falcons, but this season, the chances of that happening once again are unlikely, so I’m going to bet the Falcons will have a better season this time around. The likes of Charles in the defense will bring some relief but there are still some concerns regarding this Falcons team, however. Kicker Walsh didn’t have a good day out in practice, missing plenty and the team is still heavily reliant on Julio Jones to win matches. In fact, last season, in the Falcons’ first game and loss against the Philadelphia Eagles, Joel Deering pointed out that there were plenty of times QB Matt Ryan could’ve passed the ball to Mohamad Sanu but only focused on Jones. Therefore, can the Falcons utilize their other offensive options to win games?

Prediction: 8-8

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Record: 5-11

Post-season result: Hmm…

Offseason acquisitions: 

Signed:

  • LB Deone Bucannon (Arizona Cardinals)
  • Shaquil Barrett (Denver Broncos)
  • G Earl Watford (Cincinnati Bengals)
  • S Kentrell Brice (Green Bay Packers)

Drafted:

  • LB Devin White
  • CB Sean Bunting
  • CB Jamel Dean
  • S Mike Edwards
  • DE Anthony Nelson
  • K Matt Gay
  • WR Scotty Miller
  • DE Terry Beckner,

Signed undrafted free agents:

RB Bruce Anderson, G Zack Bailey, S Lukas Denis, WR Anthony Johnson and DaMarkus Lodge.

Claimed off waivers:

Emanuel Hall (Chicago Bears)

Offseason departures: Released DE Vinny Curry, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick P Bryan Anger and OL Evan Smith and waived QB Joe Callahan, LB Riley Bullough, WR Sergio Bailey, RB Shaun Wilson, TE Donnie Ernsberger, T Riley Mayfield, QB Vincent Testaverde, OLB Dare Odeyingbo, S Micah Abernathy and DL Shane Bowman.

Preview: To be honest, even those five wins last season were miracles. The problem is, there’s only one magician on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ team: Ryan Fitzpatrick, and he doesn’t even play for them anymore. The Buccaneers have done a load of transfers, signing plenty of rookies, rebuilding, hoping for the best, but the competition they have in this division is far too established. The Buccaneers can’t really even focus on a playoff spot this season, but should just try to build a solid and promising team from the mass of youngsters they have. Can the Buccaneers put their draft picks and signings to use and put on some promising performances?

Prediction: 4-12

Predicted division standings:

  1. New Orleans Saints (13-1-2)
  2. Carolina Panthers (9-7)
  3. Atlanta Falcons (8-8)
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)

What you may have missed this weekend: 6/7-6/9

This was another weekend full of sporting matches and games that we should have watched or kept up with.

But if you missed it, don’t worry Aman and I have will keep you updated on what you missed this weekend, like maybe the opening matches of the FIFA Women’s 2019 World Cup.

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FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 – Edmonton” by IQRemix is licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

Along with the Women’s World Cup, we have the results of Tennis’ French Open for both Men and Women. Last week, I told you about Serena Williams’ early exit, but let’s find out who won the French Open this year.

We’ll also be talking about the big fight from Saturday night and of course the NBA and NHL Finals. We even have some WWE news to talk about as this past Friday featured some first-time ever matches.

There is also weekly Cricket provided to us by Aman, so let’s see what we missed!

Soccer:

South Korea no match for France:

It took South Korea 78 minutes before they found their first shot against France in the opener of the Women’s FIFA World Cup in Paris at a sold out Parc des Princes. The French completely out-matches the Koreans 23 shots to one and the result ended 4-0, the winners being obvious.

Éugenie Le Sommer’s goal and Wendie Renard’s two goals left the scoreline at 3-0 at half-time, though it could’ve been 4-0 if Mbock Bathy’s goal wasn’t called offside. But in the 85th minute, captain Amandine Henry found the net to end the game at 4-0.

Bonansea brace beats Australia:

While the first half was all about Australia, Italy won the second half and the game along with it. While Samantha Kerr scored in the 22nd minute to give Australia the lead, Barbara Bonansea was the hero as she first tied the game for Italy in the 56th minute, before scoring the winner in the 95th minute.

England edge past rivals Scotland:

England’s Lionesses started their World Cup campaign off with a win over Scotland, the score being 2-1. In the first half, the first goal came through a Nikita Pariss penalty after VAR judged Nicole Docherty had handballed. Ellen White made it 2-0 for England before the half, wiping Scottish competition out of the game. However, Claire Emslie managed to find the net in the 79th minute, but England held on for the win.

Chelsea manager to leave for Juventus:

Turns out Maurizio Sarri won’t be the long-term manager Chelsea are looking for. Despite winning the Europa League and finishing runners up in the League Cup, Sarri is set to leave Chelsea after he signed a three-year deal with Italian giants Juventus.

Tennis:

Women’s French Open:

After two of the top women went down early in the French Open, the field was wide open for the taking.

This year’s winner was 23-year-old Australian Ashleigh Barty and it didn’t take her long to do it. Within an hour, Barty beat Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova (6-1,6-4).

This is Barty’s first time winning a French Open and she has become the first Australian woman since Margaret Court in 1973 to win the title in Paris. Congratulations to Ashleigh Barty.

Men’s French Open:

But here is where things got interesting because before we get to the final between Dominic Thiem and Rafael Nadal, let’s see how Thiem got there.

It took him all five sets to edge No. 1 Tennis player, Novak Djokovic (6-2, 3-6, 7-5, 5-7, 7-5).

Nadal was waiting for the winner of Djokovic-Thiem match as he beat Roger Federer in straight sets on Thursday.

Sunday a Men’s champion was crowned and that is Rafael Nadal after winning in four sets (6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1). This is Nadal’s 12th French Open title and his 18th career Grand Slam.

The 12 French Open titles makes him the first player, man or woman, to win the same Slam 12 times. He has also helped himself by gaining ground on the major total and sits two behind Federer’s all-time record (20) while Djokovic (15) is still behind both Federer and Nadal.

Boxing:

WBO Featherweight World Title Fight:

Going into their fight on Saturday night, Oscar Valdez was struggling to meet the weight of 126 lbs. as a featherweight. He did get to that weight and he fought one of his best fights round-by-round performance.

Valdez beats Jason Sanchez 117-110, 118-109, 118-109 winning unanimously after 12 rounds. In round five, Valdez got a knockdown on Sanchez. He also gave Sanchez a strong left hand in bout. Sanchez also got in several good jabs on Valdez as the two went jab for jab and show respect as the final seconds ticked off.

Valdez will improve to 26-0 (20 KOs). He is also 7-0 as the Featherweight Champion. Sanchez (14-1) drops his first bout after coming into the fight 14-0 (7 KOs). If Valdez remains in the Featherweight class, I could see these two going again.

Horse Racing:

There was seriously a lot of sporting events that happened this weekend, and the Belmont Stakes is one of them. This is one of the three races that can win a Horse the triple-crown. The other two are the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

Coming into the race, Tacitus was the betting favorite. However, it was Joevia that had the advantage after the first turn. That was until Sir Winston made a late surge to take the 2019 Belmont Stakes and claim the final leg of the American Triple Crown.

Sir Winston became the 7th horse to win the Belmont after not running in either of the first two Triple Crowns.

NBA:

NBA Finals:

After giving up a game 2 loss at home in Toronto, the Raptors had their backs to the wall heading back to Oracle against the Golden State Warriors. Unfortunately, the Warriors were shorthanded for game 3 and three Raptors pulled away for their second win of the series.

But Friday night with the return of Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney, the Warriors were looking to even the series back at two games a piece and they had their chance.

But the team that was known for dominating the 3rd quarter of games got dominated and could not return to form. Warriors’ Steph Curry can’t find his shot like he did in game 3 and DeMarcus Cousins was once again a no show in the game.

Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard led his team to another great game as they came out in the second half and pulled away from the Warriors. Now the Warriors are down 3-1 in the NBA Finals and we all know that only one team in the history of NBA Finals has came back from 3-1.

That one team was the LeBron James led Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 against these Warriors, but can the Warriors be the second team in history to do so? Will Kevin Durant make a return in game 5 to help the Warriors in their comeback?

NHL

Bruins pull series back in their favor:

If you’re a Bruins fan, losing to first-timers St. Louis Blues would’ve been a bit shameful, but thanks to Boston’s 5-1 win over the Blues on Sunday night, that won’t happen just yet. St. Louis had the series in their favor at 3-2, but Boston’s win means that a game seven will take place to decide the Stanley Cup winner, and that too in Boston.

The Bruins had the blessing of their front line being effective as Brad Marchand, David Pastrňák, Brandon Carlo and Zdeno Chára scored early. However, the best player for the Bruins was goaltender Tuukka Rask, who saved a whopping 28 of the 29 shots he faced!

WWE:

Super Showdown:

I know we don’t normally do WWE bits in this article besides maybe WrestleMania like I gave you in April, but this was an important part of history.

That history being the first ever match between two of the biggest icons in WWE history. On Friday, we saw The Undertaker face Goldberg for the first time.

Of course, it isn’t the same type of match that these two could’ve had in their younger days when they were both dominating. It was a back and forth match that saw both guys fatigued. In the closing moments of their match, Undertaker (54) and Goldberg (52) had failed attempts of finishers that could’ve been worse of either guy. Goldberg’s failed jackhammer lead to failed brainbuster that led to a failed tombstone powerdriver until Undertaker finally nailed a chokeslam to him the victory.

Goldberg gave himself a chance in the match as he imitated Undertaker’s throat slash. Goldberg quickly hit back-to-back spears , but it earned only a two-count before Undertaker sat up and reminded fans about the best of what they remember about that character. Regardless of the mistakes and failed attempts in this match, it was an epic match for the ages!

Cricket:

Roy, Buttler too much for Bangladesh:

Though England has a shaky World Cup history against Bangladesh, none of that mattered in Cardiff as the English beat the Bangladeshis by 106 runs. In the first innings, England scored a massive 386-6, fueled by Jason Roy’s 153(121) and then Jos Buttler’s 64(33). Buttler, however, did suffer a leg injury and was unable to take the field in the next innings as opener Jonny Bairstow took the wicket-keeping gloves. Despite being somewhat expensive, with his nine overs going for 78, Mohammad Shaifuddin found the two wickets of both Buttler and Joe Root.

Bangladesh wasn’t able to do much in response as star bowler Jofra Archer picked up three wickets: the early one of opener Soumya Sarkar and the last two of Mehidy Miraz and Mustafizur Rahman. Shakib Al-Hasan showed he is the best all-rounder in the world with is 121(119), but him alone could not chase down England’s mammoth total.

Afghan batting fails yet again:

With wicket keeper and opener Mohammad Shehzad being injured, Afghanistan were already at a disadvantage. Against New Zealand, Afghanistan could only manage to score 172. Hashmatullah Shahidi followed up from his form against Pakistan with his first half-century of the World Cup, scoring 59(99).

New Zealand’s ecstatic fast bowlers were too much pace for the Afghani batsmen to keep up with as Lockie Ferguson took four for 37 and Jimmy Neesham got five for just 31. Unfortunately, after being hit by a nasty bouncer, leg-spinner Rashid Khan left the field due to a concussion, leaving Afghanistan with one less bowling option.

However, the second innings commenced as a dream start for Afghanistan, Aftab Alam getting the wicket of Martin Guptill first ball. But Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor was just too much experience for Afghanistan as New Zealand won comfortably, by seven wickets.

Australian bowling fails against India:

After just beating the West Indies in a tight match, Australia was no match for in-form India. After scoring a century vs South Africa, Rohit Sharma followed up with a half-century, but this time, the century-maker was his partner, Shikhar Dhawan. The captain, Virat Kohli, found some form too, scoring 82 off 77 as India powered their way to a score of 352-5 at The Oval in London.

Though Australia managed to not lose wickets early, their slow batting and failure to score faster led to their demise. David Warner, Steve Smith and Alex Carey all got half-centuries, but Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah’s three wickets each bowled Australia out for 316, 36 runs short.

The moment of the match had to come when Kohli told Indian fans to stop booing at Smith. When the fans taunted Smith by calling him a ‘cheater’, referring back to the ball-tampering scandal in December of 2017, Kohli intervened, requesting the fans to stop, before shaking hands with the Aussie. Kohli expressed in an interview afterward that he felt like Smith had done nothing wrong, that “What’s happened has happened,” and that the Indian fans were being unfair.

The Case for Optimism in Sports

It baffles me how many sports writers and analysts dive into the sports world with an attitude of negativity and pessimism.

Kawhi Leonard 2019” by Chensiyuan is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Seriously, when is the last time you plopped on your couch or chair to watch sports hoping to be disappointed? Maybe you didn’t think your team had a chance (hello, fans of any team not from Houston going against the Warriors since KD arrived). But that’s not what I’m talking about.

No, I’m talking about sitting your butt down hoping to waste something like three hours of your life rooting for your team, only to get your heart ripped out and stomped on.

Oh, you’ve never hoped for that to happen? Then why, when scrolling through twitter, is negativity the focus? Maybe it’s just my feed, please correct this whole article if I’m wrong, but why do I see tweets from a basketball fan after their their team goes down four with three minutes left reading something like, “THIS IS THE WORST TEAM EVER! CAN’T BELIEVE THEY BLEW IT!!!”

All you need to do is check out @oldtakesexposed on twitter to see a plethora of tweets that are in the same ilk from the professional writers.

I’m not saying that we need to refrain from predictions or analysis that paint players or teams in a negative light, because that is absolutely within reason. But good grief, there is enough negativity in the real world as it is.

What I am saying — and this is the main point — is that the purpose of sports is for us to peel away from our normal lives and the real world into one that brings us together in the spirit of optimism, hope, and a little trash talk in favor of the teams we cheer for.

So the next time you’re watching a game or a match and find yourself staring at the TV like it tried to steal your lunch because of the result, just remember to remain optimistic and be grateful that it is sports, and not something much more serious, that is bringing you pain. There’s always the next game, next week or even next year.

 

Cricket World Cup preview part three: West Indies, Sri Lanka and India

Just one day left before the biggest cricketing festival of the year starts and one more preview to do! The World Cup kicks off tomorrow with England opening up against South Africa and you can check out our preview of those two teams along with Australia here. West Indies will play Pakistan first on Friday, May 31 in Nottinghamshire, Sri Lanka will have to face New Zealand the following day in Cardiff and India are pitted against South Africa in Southampton on Wednesday, June 5. You can check out yesterday’s preview of Pakistan and New Zealand along with Afghanistan and Bangladesh here. Also, at the end of this article, I’ll reveal my predictions for Round One’s games. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
P1074751 by Anthony Hawkins is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

West Indies

Last World Cup: After their group stage was a roller-coaster ride, West Indies were thrashed by New Zealand in the quarter-finals, who scored 393-6, beating the Windies by 143 runs thanks to Martin Guptill’s 237(163)*. In the group stages, they lost to Ireland and India by four wickets, to South Africa by 257 runs, who scored 408-5 against them. However, there were some positives. The Windies dismantled Pakistan, beating them by 150 runs. At one point in that match, Pakistan went from 1-4 to 25-5 and Jerome Taylor bowled 3-15 in his seven overs. The West Indies also beat Zimbabwe by 73 runs with Chris Gayle scoring 215(147) in the Windies’ 372-2.

World Cup best: No matter how good this West Indian side can be, none will ever come close to that of the ’70s. In 1975 and 1979, Clive Lloyd lifted the World Cup trophy twice, both in England.

Strong point: After seeing the West Indies put 421 past New Zealand in a warm-up game, it’s clearly the batting. This time around, West Indies have a confident batting lineup with Chris Gayle, Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer. In his last eight innings, Hope has scored three centuries and two half-centuries, providing the Windies security in the middle.

Weak point: Although the pace bowling can be expensive at times, they are usually reliable. But as of late, the lack of a match-winning spinner may cost the West Indies. Without Sunil Narine in the side and Davendra Bishoo struggling to find form, captain Jason Holder will have to place faith in off-spinner Ashley Nurse.

Player to watch: Hope. His scores speak for themselves and his One-Day International (ODI) average of 51 is on par with the likes of Virat Kohli and Babar Azam.

Prediction: Their batting will win them some matches, their bowling will lose them some. They can beat any opponent on their day, but being dark horses, a guess in the ballpark would be a ninth-placed finish for me.

 

Sri Lanka

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Mahela Fielding by Kesara Rathnayake is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Last World Cup: It was the last World Cup of famed Sri Lankan duo Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena but they didn’t make it any further than Pakistan or the West Indies, losing to South Africa in the quarter-finals. Sri Lanka beat South Asian rivals Afghanistan and Bangladesh in the group stages, but their most impressive win was against England, in which they chased 310 with just losing one wicket.

World Cup best: The sight of Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto handing the World Cup trophy to Sri Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya in Lahore in 1996 will remain evergreen for cricketing fans. It was their first World Cup and they went on to beat Australia in the finals. Since ’96, Sri Lanka came close by placing runners-up in 2011 in India.

Strong point: Even though they have struggled to perform as of late, Sri Lanka is known to be a good batting side. The experience in the Sri Lankan team resides with the batting in names such as Angelo Matthews or Thisara Perera. In 2017, they successfully beat India in the Champions Trophy in 2017 after chasing down 322 after losing just three wickets.

Weak point: Oof…where do I start? Lasith Malinga’s getting old and the other fast bowlers are rather inexperienced. The spinners are unconfident. But the worst part of it all is the fielding. Sri Lankan fielding in recent times can feel like a joke. You can expect to place a bet on Sri Lanka dropping some crucial catches in the coming weeks.

Player to watch: The captain, Dimuth Karunuratne. Forget about his limited captaining experience, he’s only played 18 ODIs for Sri Lanka and has been made captain. His average is only 20.53 and in 18 innings, he’s only found two 50+ scores. Karunaratne is going to have to step up to the occasion and provide Sri Lanka a way to win, especially after his side lost both of their warm-up matches to South Africa and Australia.

Prediction: Even Afghanistan is capable of defeating this depleted Sri Lankan side. They’re going to need a miracle to win even a single match. The competition’s on a whole other level. It looks like Sri Lanka might end up having to settle for tenth place.

 

India

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Dharma Chandru Cric Ph (6) by Chubby Chandru is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Last World Cup: Although India played some good cricket in 2015, Australia, who went on to be champions, proved to be too strong for them as India were knocked out in the Semi-finals.

World Cup best: Not sure which side would be scarier to face: Kapil Dev’s India which won the World Cup in 1983 or MS Dhoni’s India which won in 2011.

Strong point: Unlike Sri Lanka, where it was difficult to pinpoint which problem was the worst, with India, it’s hard to pinpoint which part of the team is the best. But I’m going to go with what will win India the World Cup if they do: spin. Indian spinners are thriving and now captain Kohli has to choose between three successful spinners to play: Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav or Kedar Jadhav.

Weak point: Although the middle order’s been a worry for some time, India’s openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan struggled to perform in India’s warm-up games against New Zealand and Bangladesh. India has cover in the middle order now after KL Rahul’s century against Bangladesh at Cardiff, along with Kohli, Dhoni, Hardik Pandya and Jadeja.

Player to watch: Yadav. He’s young, he’s hungry and he’s a wicket-taker. His 87 wickets at an average of just 21.74 in ODIs is exciting to see and he will definitely cause India’s opponents trouble.

Prediction: This India side is good enough to win the World Cup, but I think they’ll finish second, losing to hosts England in the Finals.

 

All ten teams are ready to start their World Cup campaigns, starting tomorrow, May 30 at The Oval  in London. India get a bit of a break as their next match is still a week away, but the rest of the other teams have matches within this upcoming week. This World Cup will be one of the most competitive in history as anyone has a fair shot at winning. Hopefully, that competitiveness will translate into matches and fans will be surely entertained.

 

Round one predictions:

England vs South Africa @ The Oval, London on Thursday, May 30:

If England bats first: England to win by 30 runs.

If South Africa bats first: England to win by six wickets.

 

Pakistan vs the West Indies @ Trent Bridge, Nottinghamshire on Friday, May 31:

If Pakistan bats first: Pakistan to win by 45 runs.

If the West Indies bats first: West Indies to win by 55 runs.

 

New Zealand vs Sri Lanka @ Sophia Gardens, Cardiff on Saturday, June 1:

If New Zealand bats first: New Zealand to win by 80 runs.

If Sri Lanka bats first: New Zealand to win by four wickets.

 

Afghanistan vs Australia @ The Ageas Bowl, Bristol on Saturday, June 1:

If Afghanistan bats first: Australia to win by seven wickets.

If Australia bats first: Australia to win by 25 runs.

 

What you may have missed this weekend: 5/2-5/5

It’s been another week of exciting sports news and games. Now that we can officially put the first fourth months of the year behind us, we are looking at what the next step is for several of the sports.

For the NFL, it’s about continuing to add and resign the best players available to help them get ready for training camp and the 2019 NFL season. Both the NBA and NHL are continuing with their playoff races as they look to crown a new champ this year. The MLB is swinging for history will all the record-breaking moments it’s already had this early in the season.

But there’s more than just these three sports that we may have missed this weekend. We also got to know the grouping of the 2019 Women’s FIFA World Cup and see where the reigning champions, USA, will be placed. But hold your horses, there’s more that you might have missed, so let me tell you.

“Horses in the First Turn of the Kentucky Derby” by Diana Robinson is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Are you still holding your horses? Okay, you can stop now because your horse isn’t the winner of this year’s Kentucky Derby unless you put the money on the right one. How about the Boxing match from Saturday night between Canelo Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs for the Middlewieight Championship. Alvarez defeated Jacobs by unanimous decision as the two went back and forth for all 12 rounds. But let me ask you this, “Are you ready to Rumbleeeeeee?” Cause now it’s time to get down to the all that you really missed this weekend.

Kentucky Derby:

I hope you have maximum security when you collect your money because the results may surprise you if you’re into Derby races enough to put money on it.

Although the favorite, Maximun Security, didn’t get to winning prize, he did win the race. However, due to the jockey not staying in the lane and having the horse splash mud in the face of all the other jockey’s faces as they were racing, the steward made the decision to disqualify Maximum Security as they deemed it as interference. This would make Country House the winner. This disqualification is the first in the history of the Derby.

NBA:

NBA Playoffs:

  • James Harden and the Houston Rockets battled through a tough game 3 win that went into overtime as they watch the Golden State Warriors take a lead late. Rockets Chris Paul and the chance to win the game on the final possession of the game with seconds left. That was until Warriors’ Klay Thompson played great defense and forced a jump ball with 1.5 seconds left in the game. The game was tied at 114 a piece and the Rockets won the ball, but there wasn’t enough time left to take a shoot and win. So they went to overtime and Harden took continue as the Rockets got their first win of the series. Can the Rockets tie the series Monday night?
  • Another team looking to tie the series Monday is the Boston Celtics who are looking to take back home court after losing Friday night to the Milwaukee Bucks and their “Bench Mob” as George Hill lead the bench with 21 points while Giannis Antetokounmpo had 32 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 assists. The Celtics Kyrie Irving led the team with 28 points, but the “Greek Freak” was too much for Celtics in game 3 as the Bucks took a 2-1 series lead. Game 4 will be Monday night, so let’s see if the Celtics can tie up the series.
  • The Toronto Raptors tied the series with the Philadelphia 76ers after a big 39 point, 14 rebound performance for Kawhi Leonard. It was a much needed win for the Raptors who were down 2-1 after Sixers’ Joel Embiid’s 33 point performance Friday night. The series shifts back to Toronto on Tuesday and the Raptors look to take control back.
  • Denver Nuggets and Portland Blazers has been one of the more exciting series this playoff. With the series tied at one game a piece, the teams battled back and forth through regulation and four overtimes until it was Dame Time and the Blazers took the game. With the Blazers having a 2-1 led and playing game four at home, the pressure was on fire the Nuggets who were led by Nikola Jokic. Jokic recorded a triple-double as he showed the Blazers and this Nuggets team is no joke. Game 5 will be back in Denver and the Nuggets will look to take a 3-2 series led, but will Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum allow it.

NBA Coaching Rumors:

  • It seems likely that Tyrone Lue will be the new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. When and how much is the real question that everyone is waiting to find out!
  • Phoenix Suns hire 76ers assistant Williams as the new head coach after Philadelphia’s season is over of course.

NHL

NHL Playoffs:

  • The Carolina Hurricanes make quick work out of the New York Islanders. Last weekend, the Hurricanes were up 2-0 in the series and they didn’t look back. The Hurricanes won game 4 of the second round of the playoffs 5-2 and they showed that world that they are ready to be the Stanley Cup champions for the first time since 2006. The Islanders tried everything to keep themselves alive, but a goalie switch was not the answer for them as they got sweep 4-0 on Friday Night.
  • The St. Louis Blues beat the Dallas Stars 4-1 to force a game 7 and a chance to advance to the conference finals. That game will be played on Tuesday as we know it’s going to be an epic one as they have both shown in previous playoff series against each other.
  • The Boston Bruins look to close out the series against the Columbus Blue Jackets as their rely on their stars. Down 2-1 in the series, the Bruins were looking to get back on track as they did in the last two wins to take a 3-2 series led. Monday night could mark the end of the series if the Blue Jackets can’t figure out a way to slow down the Bruins.
  • The Colorado Avalanche and San Jose Sharks continue to battle for their chance to advance to the next round. The Sharks have a 3-2 a series led, but that literally means nothing when both teams have taken turns winning games. The first team to win two games in a row will be the winner she’s the Sharks have that chance Monday night as they look to close out the Avalanche. If the Avalanche win game six, they will they to win consecutive games in six and seven to advance on. Game seven will be played Wednesday night necessary.

MLB:

Texas Rangers’ rookie catcher had career night on win over Toronto Blue Jays.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa helped lift the Rangers to an 8-5 win with a career-high 4 RBIs. He came up in the second inning with the bases loaded and hit a triple to drive in the of his four RBIs. The Rangers scored eight quick runs in the first three innings to ended a three-game skid.

Braves young stars continuing to shine.

The Atlanta Braves young stars, Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. tied a career high during their series with the Miami Marlins. Both of these guys got contract extension this offseason and their play thus far proves why that’s a great decision. Albies tied a career high with 5 RBIs in a game. Four of those five came off a Grand Slam in the sixth on Saturday nights 9-2 win. It was Albies’ second five-RBI game, the other one came nearly a year ago against the Marlins. Acuna tied a career high with four hits.

Nationals pitcher fastest to 1,500 Strikeouts

It’s not every day we get to talk about Pitchers making history, but this week we have two different highlights. First, let’s congratulate New York Yankees’ C.C. Sabathia on reaching 3000 strikeouts for his career.

And now, we could talk about Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg’s record-setting night. Strasburg reached 1,500 strikeouts in fewer innings than any pitcher in major league history, and he picked up the 2-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday. Strasburg went 6 2/3 innings, giving up a run on six hits with two walks and nine strikeouts, it was the eighth strikeout on Cardinals pitcher Dakota Hudson in the fifth inning that got him to 1,500th of his career.

He did it in 1,272 1/3 innings, beating Red Sox’ pitcher Chris Sale who reached the 1,500 Ks in 2017 after 1,290 innings. Although Strasburg did it in the fastest total of innings pitch, Hall of Famer Randy Johnson holds the record for fewest games needed to reach 1,500 strikeouts with 206 games. Strasburg needed seven more games to do so, but he still has a lot more pitching left and we could see him do more in the record books.

NBA season review: 2/12 – 3/13

It’s been a while since we have visited the NBA and took a look at the season in review! But don’t worry, I am here to make sure that we get caught up!

Last time we spoke, we were heading into the All-Star break. And in case you missed it, I’ll give you the results in all the All-Star events that happened that weekend. I will also give you the update on the playoff picture as we start to see teams clinch a berth or be eliminated. Let’s not forget about the hot and cold teams.

But now that we are all caught up on what has happened since we’ve been out let’s take a look at the standings as of Tuesday, March 12th.

East: West:

1. Bucks (51-17) 1. Warriors(45-21)

2. Raptors (48-20) 2. Nuggets (44-22)

3. 76ers (43-25) 3. Rockets (42-25)

4. Pacers (43-25) 4. Thunder (41-26)

5. Celtics (41-27) 5. Blazers (41-26)

6. Nets (36-33) 6. Spurs (39-29)

7. Pistons (34-32) 7. Clippers (39-30)

8. Heats (31-35) 8. Jazz (37-29)

9. Magic (31-37) 9. Kings (33-33)

10. Hornets (30-37) 10. T-wolves (32-36)

11. Wizards (28-39) 11. Lakers (31-36)

After looking at where each team stands in the playoff race, let’s turn our attention to the teams who have been cold and hot for over the past few weeks.

Cold Teams

Los Angeles Lakers

Despite LeBron James passing Michael Jordan, nothing is going right for the Lakers since the All-Star break. They have continued to fall out of the playoff picture with recent season-ending injuries to Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. Kyle Kuzma, Lance Stephenson, and Tyson Chandler have also missed time during which the Lakers went 3-7 including a season-long five game losing streak that was finally snapped Tuesday night against the Chicago Bulls! After struggling early, LeBron and the Lakers found themselves and got a much-needed win (123-107). It was also Kuzma’s first game back after missing the last three games, and he and James looked like they were having a fun time!

Charlotte Hornets:

Like the Lakers, the Hornets have also gone 3-7 in their last ten games and have dropped from the playoffs. Fortunately, they are in the East, and they still have a small chance to get the final spot as they are only 1.5 games behind the Miami Heat who are currently 8th. This is the time where Hornets All-Star guard Kemba Walker needs to show why he deserved to be an All-Star and get himself a nice little paycheck this offseason. Hornets play the Heat this weekend as they look to gain some ground in the playoff race.

Orlando Magic

The Magic are also on the outside looking in when it comes to the NBA playoffs. They look like a team that we could’ve seen take advantage of a weaker conference as they did earlier on in the season. They were in the playoffs most of the season leading up to the All-Star break and have since dropped out. But they only fortunate to only be a game out of 8th place in conference and they are looking for a strong finish that will hopefully spark a playoff run and chance to take it to the Milwaukee Bucks!

Let’s look at if they can make a run for the hot list next time. But that’s then, let’s see about the now and who’s on a hot streak!

Hot Teams

Miami Heat:

It’s not a super hot streak, but Miami has Heated up and look to keep both the Hornets and Magic of their way. Can the Heats continue to play well enough to earn themselves the last spot. Let’s do it Wade!

Detroit Pistons:

It’s been a rocky season for the Pistons, but they have been able to hold onto their spot in the playoffs. I think at this point in the season, it’s safe to that the Pistons will be back in the playoffs. They currently sit 7th in the standings and could likely get the 6th spot over the Brooklyn Nets, but the only way for that to happen is for them to remain hot. Can Blake Griffin lead them the rest of the way?

Houston Rockets:

The Rockets have been led by James Harden all season long and last time we spoke, we were talking about his historic streak of consecutive 30 + point games which ended after 32 games. That is the second largest streak behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 65 game. But now that the streak is over. The Rockets can focus on being the best team in the league. After an early season struggle, the Rockets have battled their way up to the 3rd seed in the West. They are going for the top seed, but could drop back to 5th if they are not comfortably where they are. Let’s continue to watch where the Rockets and all these teams finish with about four weeks left of the regular season.

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As we watch the NBA season wrap up the final month of the season, we will prepare yourselves for the exciting playoffs that will not feature LeBron James for the first since 2005. Let’s continue to pay attention to how each team in the playoff picture does finish and who could be a real test of the Golden State Warriors.

We should also keep our eyes posted on March Madness and the NFL Free Agency that have both been pretty electric so far this week! I mean if you haven’t been keeping up with it, maybe check out the grades here, and the rankings in College Basketball will also change.

MLB’s historic offseason

After a boring MLB offseason, things finally started to pick up on February 19th. Manny Machado and Bryce Harper finally signed with a team, and Nolan Arenado signed a historic extension.

Bryce Harper” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

I’m going to go through all these deals to give you a short recap.

 

1) Nolan Arenado

The All-Star third basemen has agreed to stay in Colorado for years to come, assuming he doesn’t opt out. The contract is for eight-years and worth $260-million with an opt out after the third year.

Now, assuming Arenado doesn’t opt out, that will keep him with the team until 2026, when he is 35 years old. The deal does also include a full no-trade clause, and Arenado will be making $32.5-million annually, which is the record for a per year salary for a position player. He’s a 4-time All-Star and has won a Gold Glove in every season he has played in so far (6). So far over his career, Arenado has batted .291 with 186 home runs and 616 RBI’s, which are great numbers.

It’s crazy to think that he’s better in the field than at bat, but numbers don’t lie.

 

2) Manny Machado

Machado was the one who started all this signing chaos back on February 29th. At the time, it was a record-breaking contract, until Bryce Harper outdid it, but we will get into that when we talk about Harper. Machado signed a 10-year $300-million deal with the San Diego Padres and has an opt out after 5-years.

Machado will evenly spread out his contract and make $30-million every year. The deal locks Machado up until 2028, assuming he doesn’t opt out of his contract. If he doesn’t opt out, he can become a free agent after the 2023 season. Machado is joining a team that finished 66-96 and last in NL West in 2018. The Padres have the number one farm system in baseball, but who knows when it will turn them into a playoff or world series caliber team? Either way, Machado is guaranteed all his money and has security over the next ten years. The first five years in San Diego will be crucial to whether he stays with the team or not.

 

3) Bryce Harper

The most anticipated signing of the offseason. After so much speculation on what team was going to spend the money on Bryce Harper, we finally got our answer on Thursday. The 6-time All-Star, 2015 NL MVP, and 2012 Rookie of the Year will be staying in the NL East.

The outfielder signed a historic 13-year, $330-million-dollar deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. That contract includes no opt outs, meaning Bryce Harper will be in Philadelphia until 2032, when his is 39 years old. Harper turned down multiple big offers, including an offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers that would have paid him $45-million annually. Harper also turned down multiple $300-million-dollar offers from teams like the San Francisco Giants and his former team, the Washington Nationals.

After what I’m about to tell you, you may be as puzzled with his decision as I am. The Giants offered Harper 12-years, worth $310-million-dollars. Now yes, the Giants finished with a worse record than the Phillies, but in terms of longevity like Harper wants, he will get more out of playing in San Francisco because the weather is better year-round than Philadelphia.

The most confusing thing may be the deal he turned down with the Washington Nationals. They offered him 10-years, worth $300-million-dollars with a $100-million-dollar deferred portion of the contract that would have kept them paying Harper until he was 60-years-old. Why would you turn this contract down? The Nationals are certainly a better team than the Phillies, and the pitching rotation isn’t even close. The nationals blow the Phillies away in terms of pitching, especially after adding Patrick Corbin. He could have still been getting paid well over 20 years after he retires, depending on when Harper calls it quits. But that last part was just my opinion.

 

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These are three of the best players in the game today, and will be for years to come. It will be interesting to see who will top Bryce Harpers total value contract and when it will happen. Could it possibly be Mike Trout, who is arguably the best player in baseball right now? He will be a free agent in 2021, but that’s a whole different article we will get into another time.

What you may have missed this weekend: 1/25 – 1/27

We have managed to make it through the first month of 2019 without missing one of these articles. As we go on this is going to get harder and harder, especially with the NFL season wrapping things up next week in the Super Bowl between the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots.

You can find out more on that next weekend and all throughout this week, as we will be giving you some Super Bowl surprise articles involving both teams.

Until then, let’s see what we missed this weekend with the limited action we did have. Action like the Pro Bowl, NFL news, NBA stars and brothers, College Basketball upsets and Tennis.

Novak Djokovic” by Carine06 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

NFL

NFL fines Rams DB Nickell Robey-Coleman for the missed penalty

Was it or was it not a penalty when Robey-Coleman lit up New Orleans Saints WR Tommy Lee Lewis? Whether it was or not, it raised a lot of questions about the NFL rules and officiating. The penalty could’ve been many different things like pass interference, hit on a defenseless receiver, or helmet-to-helmet. For this one, it was the helmet-to-helmet penalty that Robey-Coleman will be fined for.

Chicago Bears sign K Redford Jones

After the Bears lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs, this was a move that had to be made. The Bears lost off a missed kick by kicker Cody Parkey, which is why they signed Redford Jones.

With this signing, Jones has a chance to compete for the starting job with Parkey after he struggled in his first season with the Bears. Parkey missed a total of 11 kicks this season, which was the worst by any kicker. Jones doesn’t have any NFL experience, but he will get a chance to compete with Parkey come next season.

AFC dominates Pro Bowl

The only football game left before the Super Bowl was the Pro Bowl. That game featured the best players in the league all playing together against their rival conference. The AFC dominated with a 26-7 victory, as Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes picked up MVP honors. Could this be the first of MVPs he picks up?

This was a game that saw the NFC score their least amount of points in 25 years. They tried everything to get themselves going. Everything like having RBs Ezekiel Elliott and Alvin Kamara playing defense.

 

NBA

Clippers star arrived late to the game and achieved a career first

On Friday night the Los Angeles Clippers visited the Chicago Bulls and were experiencing weather delays that caused Clippers head coach Doc Rivers and star guard Lou Williams to miss shootaround. The snowy conditions made a 10-minute bus ride from the team hotel to the arena a long two hours. That didn’t seem to bother Williams though, as he accomplished a career first while leading the Clippers to a 106-101 win over the Bulls. Williams picked up his first ever career triple-double with a 31 point, 10 rebound and 10 assist game.

 

College Basketball

Losses by top 25 teams

13 Maryland to Illinois (78-67)

20 Mississippi to 24 Iowa State (87-73)

9 Kansas to 8 Kentucky (71-63)

16 Auburn to 22 Mississippi State (92-84)

6 Michigan State to Purdue (73-63)

19 Iowa to Minnesota (92-87)

 

Tennis

Djokovic adds another Grand Slam title to his career accomplishments

When you think of some of the greatest tennis players of all time, is Novak Djokovic on there? Well, he should be, as he added his 15th major title this weekend. It was his third in a row after already having won the Wimbledon and the US Open. This time it was the Australian Open, as he took on Rafael Nadal and beat him in three straight sets. Djokovic has also passed his idol, Pete Sampras, with the third most Grand Slam victories behind Nadal and Roger Federer.