Harper is one of our several topics this week! We also have some big topics about the NFL, to talk about some possible QB moves that could change the landscape of the AFC next season. There’s also the question as to if a struggling NBA team will land a top player in free agency. We also include a bit on the NHL and the defending MLS champions. Let’s get started!
RahimAli: Bryce Harper will bring another title to the city of brotherly love.
Joel: I’ll buy Bryce Harper bringing another title to Philly. I can’t say exactly when that will be, but he’s got a long time to make it happen, so I’ll buy it.
Bryce Harper is one of the best players in baseball. Having him on the team instantly made the Phillies better. Most of the time when you have a star player, especially one of Harper’s caliber, it’s easy to attract other stars as well. I think the Phillies can put together a nice roster over the next few years and really be able to get into not only playoff contention, but championship contention.
Again, I can’t say exactly when this championship will come. I doubt it will be this coming season or the season after, but maybe it could be. You just never know. I can see it happening over the course of Harper’s lifetime Phillies deal.
Aman: I too buy that Bryce Harper can do the job for Philly. If he impresses this season, he’ll definitely make others want to play with him, which will only make the team stronger and better in the future. Perhaps not this season, but within the next five years, it’s definitely a strong possibility seeing a World Series title being delivered to Philadelphia.
Joel: The Oakland Raiders will trade QB Derek Carr to target a top QB in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Aman: I sell the Raiders trading him away. It seems as of late that Carr might be important in getting the Raiders to land Antonio Brown, and the Raiders wouldn’t want to compromise on an opportunity like that. If a receiver like Brown can help the rest of the offense for the Raiders next season, the performance of everyone else will only improve. Along with that, if Carr and Brown can form an excellent partnership together, they’ll be crucial to the Raiders winning games next season.
RahimAli: I buy! When the Raiders somehow convinced Jon Gruden to come out of the play-by-play booth to coach again after 10 years, we all thought it was going to be a great thing for both him and quarterback Derek Carr. However, the Raiders and Carr didn’t have a great season at all, as they went 4-12. In fact, before the season started, Gruden traded the teams best defensive player, Khalil Mack, to the Chicago Bears for a first-round pick.
He also traded the teams best receiver, Amari Cooper, to the Dallas Cowboys for another first-rounder.
It’s clear Gruden is ready to clean house. With the offense getting older with guys like Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin, Jared Cook and Jordy Nelson, who are all 30 plus, it’ll be hard to get rid of them for younger talent or picks.
Carr is 27 and still has plenty of upside. Last season, Carr had a career high in passing yards (4,049) and completion percentage (68.9) in a failed season for the Raiders. That alone should be reason enough for anyone to want to trade for Carr. At the right price, Gruden will do it.
After all, Gruden loves QBs. This year’s class is one of the most interesting, with all eyes on Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins. If the Raiders were to trade Carr, they would most likely be looking to use their 4th overall pick to get a QB like Murray or Haskins instead of ta defensive end as predicted in the most recent mock draft.
Aman: The Jaguars can make playoffs with Nick Foles next season.
RahimAli: I buy the Jaguars will make the playoffs next season with Nick Foles. I don’t completely put the failure of last season on the shoulders of QB Blake Bortles, because they had several issues. However, Bortles is one of the issues. I think all the issues will be a point of focus by the Jaguars coaching staff in this offseason and training camp.
One issue was the lack of depth at receiver and running back. The Jaguars’ offense runs through RB Leonard Fournette, who missed half the season with injury, which left T.J. Yeldon to pick up the slack. Yeldon was later joined by Carlos Hyde in a trade. Their WRs were banged up all season long as well. They lost WR Marquise Lee during the preseason.
All that alone was a cause of the Jaguars’ disappointing season. Bortles and the Jaguars went from 10-6 and making the AFC Championship game, to being 5-11 and the last place team in the AFC South. Last place is a regular position for the Jaguars with Bortles, and it’s clear they need a change at QB.
With all their offensive weapons getting healthy and Foles having success running a similar offense in Philadelphia, I think this is a good move in the right direction. Now only if Jalen Ramsey and the defense can get their act together.
Joel: I buy the Jaguars being able to make the playoffs next season with Nick Foles. For starters, they made the playoffs with Blake Bortles two years ago. Nick Foles is a better QB than Blake Bortles. Not only is he a better QB in terms of talent, but he’s a much better leader. There was something different about the Eagles when Foles was in compared to Carson Wentz, and I believe it was Foles’ ability to lead a team. Blake Bortles isn’t a leader.
Then there’s the fact that Leonard Fournette was injured a lot last season, as RahimAli said. If Fournette can get healthy again, things will go back to the way they were during his rookie season, when he dominated on the ground. With Fournette returning to himself, that will open a lot of things up for Foles. They do need to address their receiver position, but I think they can easily take care of that either in free agency or the draft, at least well enough to get them by offensively.
Finally, there’s the defense. Despite what people might think, the defense was still pretty good last season. They weren’t as good as two years ago, but they ranked tied for fourth in the NFL in points allowed, allowing an average of 19.8 per game. That’s really good! With the offense getting healthier and being upgraded at the most important position, they’ve got a good chance to get back in the playoffs.
Joel: Despite probably missing the playoffs, the Lakers will sign at least one big name free agent this coming off-season.
RahimAli: As a Lakers fan hoping for another championship, I buy! But as a Lakers fans frustrated with this season, I SELL! I don’t think the Lakers will land a big name player this offseason.
In fact, I think LeBron will push for coach Luke Walton to get replaced, like he has done to every coach that has coached him not named Erik Spoelstra. It’s part of what LeBron does in his career. I think the Lakers will get a big name coach from outside the organization and have them try their luck; maybe somebody who can coach defense.
The Lakers will definitely miss the playoffs again this season, and everybody is going to be second guessing themselves. All these moves they made to set themselves up for a bright future with the “greastest of all time,” and it’s probably LeBron James’ worst season of his career.
Early last week, I gave three additional things the Lakers lack that has caused the situation they are in. But the biggest thing they lack right now is leadership, and no big name player wants to come to a team with a new head coach and no real leadership. We don’t even know who all will be part of the team next year, besides LeBron James.
But let’s go back to his season stats real quick, he’s shooting a career low, 66.9 percent from the free throw line. Instead of getting the basket and foul, James gets one free throw. I mean, I get he’s trying to get the rest of the players involved and be the playmaker that we all know and love him for, but he has to know when to take control without having a supporting cast like Dwyane Wade or Kyrie Irving.
Also, I don’t think any big name player wants to be the second best on their team. Isn’t that why Irving left in the first place? I mean, you can’t argue that James isn’t great when he just passed Michael Jordan for 4th all-time on the NBA scoring list, but you think scorers like Klay Thompson, Anthony Davis, and Kawhi Leonard won’t have a problem? I don’t know, maybe Aman’s synopsis is a better one to go with, as I’ll continue to watch the Lakers fight and fail to make the playoffs.
Aman: I buy! The Lakers will definitely have the money to do so. Along with that, the team will be quick to make changes if they miss the playoffs, which includes buying a player or two. Also, coming from a player’s point of view, despite not being as credible of a team right now, it won’t be too hard to attract players to the Lakers, given a chance to play alongside LeBron James and live in a city like Los Angeles.
Aman: Atlanta United will defend their MLS title with a new manager.
Rahim: I’m going to sell this one! Sorry Atlanta fans, but repeats are the hardest thing to do. As much as I would love to see them do it again for the city of Atlanta, I don’t think it’s going to happen, and it has nothing to do with the new manager.
Although, I think Frank de Boer can lead the Five Stripe to the playoffs again, winning it all is highly unlikely. Frank de Boer is a European manager who’s more used to a European style of football. In the MLS, de Boer will need to adapt to the high-paced attacking and high-pressure from defenders. Also, the Atlanta United team is based on a South American style of football, something which will take time for de Boer to adapt to.
Plus, there are other teams who look more hungry for the title this year. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Los Angeles Galaxy are still looking to prove themselves. LAFC was pretty impressive in the opening season, and it seems they can only get better. We just saw usual favorites Seattle Sounders pound FC Cincinnati 4-1. And DC United, with Luciano Acosta and Wayne Rooney look like a proper football team.
That’s just the nature of the game we call Soccer. All it takes is one goal and a season can be over. For the sake of Atlanta United FC, it was a late first half goal in the Cup final that sparked the championship and ended a curse of the city of Atlanta. Read more about what that curse meant here.
Joel: I’m going to sell Atlanta United defending their title with a new manager. As is the case for RahimAli, it has nothing to do with the new manager. RahimAli also stated how hard it is to repeat championships.
It happens every once in a while, but it’s extremely hard to do. I know the NFL is completely different, but I’ll use the New England Patriots as an example. They’ve won six Super Bowl titles with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Out of those six, how many times have they repeated? Just once.
Yes, they’ve made it back to the Super Bowl in back-to-back years, but they’ve only won it in back-to-back years once. This is proof that it’s extremely hard to win a title after winning it the year before. I think Atlanta United will be a good team, but I’ll sell on them defending their title.
RahimAli: With the Tampa Bay Lightning being the only team in the NHL with 50 wins, they are the favorite to win the Stanley Cup?
Aman: What makes a hockey team great? Their offense. The team with the best offense, the team which scores the most typically becomes strong favorites to win the Stanley Cup.
Having 257 goals under their belt, the next best team in terms of goals is the Toronto Maple Leafs. When it comes between the Lightning and the Maple Leafs, the Lightning are favorites to advance further, and most likely to a Stanley Cup final. The Lightning’s playoff experience has been a lot better in recent history, and their confidence will likely be higher than that of Toronto’s. Therefore, I buy Tampa Bay taking the Stanley Cup home this time around.
Joel: I’ll buy the Tampa Bay Lightning being the favorite to win the Stanley Cup. If you look at the standings, they have 51 wins. The next closest team has 41 wins. Having 10 more wins than any other team means they’re not just the best team, but they’re quite a bit better than the rest of the field. I also think that anytime you’re the best team in the league, you should be favored to win the championship.
It just makes sense for the team with the best record to be the favorite. To give some statistics to back their record up, Tampa Bay ranks first in Goals For per game (3.84) and fourth in Goals Against per game (2.61). So not only are they a great offensive team, they’re a great defensive team too. That’s a great combination for winning a championship.