2019 NFL Season: Week 4 picks

NFL Week 4 Picks.png
Source: https://www.norebbo.com/?s=nfl

Current Standings

Adam: 32-15-1

Aman: 29-18-1

Dan: 35-12-1

Joel: 30-17-1

Rahim: 31-16-1

 

Eagles @ Packers (Thursday night)

The Eagles have too many injuries right now. We’ve seen how big of an impact those injuries have made over the last two weeks. Those injuries will likely continue to play a big role against the Packers. Even at full strength it would be tough to beat this Packers defense, which is currently one of the best in the league. Aaron Rodgers and a tough defense might be too much for the Eagles with all those injuries.

Predictions

Adam: Packers

Aman: Packers

Dan: Packers

Joel: Packers

Rahim: Packers

 

Redskins @ Giants

This game will solely be focused on rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. He led a comeback last week against the Buccaneers, totaling four touchdowns. He looked good last week, but can he do it again? The Daniel Jones hype train is moving full speed, and we’ll see if he can keep it going against the 0-3 Redskins.

Predictions

Adam: Giants

Aman: Giants

Dan: Giants

Joel: Redskins

Rahim: Giants

 

Chiefs @ Lions

The Lions have had a nice start to their season, but now it’s time to really put them to the test. Patrick Mahomes looks like he’s even better than he was a season ago, which is scary for not only the Lions, but the entire league. We’ll see how the Lions play against one of the best offensive teams in the league.

Predictions

Adam: Chiefs

Aman: Chiefs

Dan: Chiefs

Joel: Chiefs

Rahim: Chiefs

 

Titans @ Falcons

I feel like neither of these teams are playing to their potential right. For one team, that will continue in this game, but the other will get a confidence boost after this win. Which team can put it all together offensively to get their team a win?

Predictions

Adam: Falcons

Aman: Falcons

Dan: Falcons

Joel: Falcons

Rahim: Falcons

 

Browns @ Ravens

Despite being one of the most hyped up teams in the offseason, the Browns still have a lot of holes to fill on their team. They hung in there against the Rams last week, but they still couldn’t overcome their problems. Lamar Jackson is not a quarterback to have problems against, and neither is this Ravens defense.

Predictions

Adam: Ravens

Aman: Ravens

Dan: Ravens

Joel: Ravens

Rahim: Ravens

 

Raiders @ Colts

Despite not having Andrew Luck, the Colts are playing pretty well right now. They’re still a competitive team, which shows how well they’ve been built. The Raiders are still the Raiders, meaning they’re still bad. I expect a still competitive Colts team to get the win over a still bad Raiders team.

Predictions

Adam: Colts

Aman: Colts

Dan: Colts

Joel: Colts

Rahim: Colts

 

Patriots @ Bills

Even though the Bills are one of the few 3-0 teams in the league, I can’t help but feel that they’re the worst of the group. Wins over the Jets, Giants and Bengals aren’t really that impressive. The Patriots are obviously their biggest test yet, and I can’t help but feel the Bills will fail this test. In this league, you just never know.

Predictions

Adam: Patriots

Aman: Patriots

Dan: Patriots

Joel: Patriots

Rahim: Bills

 

Panthers @ Texans

Kyle Allen looked awesome last week against the Cardinals. He looked much better than Cam Newton has this season. Now that he’s had a breakout performance, can he sustain it? The Texans are not an easy team to play against, especially for a young and inexperienced quarterback like Allen.

Predictions

Adam: Texans

Aman: Texans

Dan: Texans

Joel: Texans

Rahim: Panthers

 

Chargers @ Dolphins

The Dolphins…………. Yeah, I’ll go with the Chargers.

Predictions

Adam: Chargers

Aman: Chargers

Dan: Chargers

Joel: Chargers

Rahim: Chargers

 

Buccaneers @ Rams

The Rams continue to be one of the best teams in the league. The Buccaneers on the other hand, continue to be the Buccaneers. The offensive fire power of the Rams will simply be too much for Jameis Winston to keep up with.

Predictions

Adam: Rams

Aman: Rams

Dan: Rams

Joel: Rams

Rahim: Rams

 

Seahawks @ Cardinals

This game is interesting because it’s Kyler Murray against Russell Wilson. Murray has been compared to Wilson several times. Now we’ll get a chance to see just how similar they really are. Obviously, Wilson is the better quarterback right now, but it’s not just the quarterback position where the Seahawks have the advantage. They’re a better built overall, while the Cardinals are still building. They have been able to give us some interesting games so far though, so hopefully this one’s interesting too.

Predictions

Adam: Seahawks

Aman: Seahawks

Dan: Seahawks

Joel: Seahawks

Rahim: Seahawks

 

Vikings @ Bears

The Bears finally looked like the Bears we saw last season with a win over the Redskins on Monday night football. However, they were playing against the now 0-3 Redskins. You have to give them credit for doing what they did against an NFL team, but the Vikings will be much tougher. The key for the Bears will be to stop the run. If they can do that, they’ll force Cousins to beat them. The Vikings don’t want that, so they have to get Dalvin Cook going early.

Predictions

Adam: Bears

Aman: Bears

Dan: Bears

Joel: Bears

Rahim: Bears

 

Jaguars @ Broncos

Gardner Minshew has looked really good in his short time as the Jaguars’ starting quarterback. He’s making a lot of nice plays without doing too much. I believe the Jaguars’ defense will continue making big plays and getting stops, which will continue to put Minshew and the offense in good spots. The Broncos are seeking their first win of the season. Can they pressure Minshew enough to make him turn the ball over? If they can do that and give their offense good position, the Broncos might take this one.

Predictions

Adam: Broncos

Aman: Broncos

Dan: Jaguars

Joel: Jaguars

Rahim: Broncos

 

Cowboys @ Saints (Sunday night)

The Dallas Cowboys have looked explosive on offense this season, with Dak Prescott being a top MVP candidate right now. This week they play the Drew Brees-less Saints, but don’t count them out. Teddy Bridgewater and the Saints proved they’re not out of it yet after beating the Seahawks last week. This one is at home for the Saints, and this team will be seeking revenge for the loss the Cowboys handed them last season. This will be a hard fought game.

Predictions

Adam: Saints

Aman: Saints

Dan: Saints

Joel: Cowboys

Rahim: Cowboys

 

Bengals @ Steelers (Monday night)

Despite getting another loss and moving to 0-3, the Steelers looked much more competitive against the 49ers last week. Mason Rudolph made some nice throws, but now it’s time to build on them. Can he keep this offense moving? A game featuring two 0-3 teams isn’t usually exciting, but this a divisional game, so it should hold at least some interest.

Predictions

Adam: Bengals

Aman: Steelers

Dan: Bengals

Joel: Steelers

Rahim: Steelers

2019 NFL Predictons: Playoffs/Awards

Now that we’ve predicted the outcomes of every division, we’ll now take a look at who Aman and I have making the playoffs and how far they’ll go.

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Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on December 25, 2011″ by Mike Morbeck is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

We’ll provide a round by round breakdown of all the teams who will make the playoffs, working our way to the Super Bowl. You can take a look at all eight of the divisions as we listed the standings. Each division covers the biggest acquisitions and departures for all teams, as well as who we have winning each division. Follow the links to find out more!

NFC West:                                         AFC West:

1. Los Angeles Rams (12-4)           1. Los Angeles Chargers (12-4)

2. Seattle Seahawks (9-7)              2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)

3. San Francisco 49ers (8-8)         3. Denver Broncos (9-7)

4. Arizona Cardinals (6-10)          4. Oakland Raiders (6-10)

NFC North:                                       AFC North:

1. Chicago Bears (10-6)                  1. Cleveland Browns (10-6)

2. Minnesota Vikings (8-8)            2. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)

3. Green Bay Packers (7-9)            3. Baltimore Ravens (8-8)

4. Detroit Lions (6-10)                    4. Cincinnati Bengals (6-10)

NFC South:                                       AFC South:

1. New Orleans Saints (13-1-2)     1. Houston Texans (11-5)

2. Carolina Panthers (9-7)             2. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7)

3. Atlanta Falcons (8-8)                  3. Tennessee Titans (9-7)

4. Tampa Buccaneers (4-12)         4. Indianapolis Colts (6-10)

NFC East:                                          AFC East:

1. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)        1. New England Patriots (12-4)

2. Dallas Cowboys (9-7)                 2. Buffalo Bills (9-7)

3. Washington Redskins (6-10)    3. New York Jets (7-9)

4. New York Giants (4-12)             4. Miami Dolphins (4-12)

Now that you’ve had a chance to look at all the divisions, it’s time to take a look at which six teams from the NFC and which six from the AFC will make the playoffs.

 

Playoff Picks

Rahim’s Picks:

NFC West: Rams (2)                       AFC West: Chargers (1)

NFC North: Bears (3)                     AFC North: Browns (4)

NFC South: Saints (1)                    AFC South: Texans (3)

NFC East: Eagles (4)                      AFC East: Patriots (2)

Wild Card 1: Seahawks               Wild Card 1: Chiefs

Wild Card 2: Cowboys                 Wild Card 2: Steelers

 

Aman’s Picks:

NFC West: Rams (2)                      AFC West: Chiefs (2)

NFC North: Bears (3)                    AFC North: Ravens (3)

NFC South: Saints (1)                   AFC South: Texans (4)

NFC East: Eagles (4)                     AFC East: Patriots (1)

Wild Card 1: Vikings                   Wild Card 1: Browns

Wild Card 2: Seahawks              Wild Card 2: Jaguars

Breakdown:

Aman and I agree that the Rams, Saints, Bears, Chiefs, Patriots, Texans and Browns (you read that right) will make the playoffs. The Eagles and Seahawks are also two teams we agreed upon to make playoffs, but what about the Chargers and Cowboys?

As of yesterday, the Cowboys and running back Ezekiel Elliott agreed to a new deal. That will boost the Cowboys, helping them become a playoff team again. I believe that despite Elliott, the Cowboys would’ve made the playoffs anyway. However, Aman doesn’t believe so, as he has the Vikings sneaking into the last playoff spot in the NFC. That means teams like the Falcons, Packers and Panthers will miss the playoffs again.

I’m a big believer in the Chargers, as I have them being the top team in the AFC without Gordon all season long. I think this will be a good year for the Chargers, as long as they can manage to stay healthy. Aman doesn’t think the Chargers can repeat from last year, but does have better hopes for the Ravens and QB Lamar Jackson to win their division again.

I say the Browns will edge out the Steelers for a division title, but the Steelers get the last playoff spot in the AFC. Aman is believing in QB Nick Foles to lead the Jaguars to a playoff spot.

Who will get the final two spots? Do the Broncos, Colts, Raiders, Titans, Jets or Bills have a chance? Let us know what you think in the comment section below while we jump into the Wild Card matchups!

 

Wild Card Matchups

Rahim’s Picks:

  • 5. Seahawks over 4. Eagles
  • 5. Chiefs over 4. Browns
  • 3. Bears over 6. Cowboys
  • 3. Texans over 6. Steelers

Aman’s Picks:

  • 4. Eagles over 5. Vikings
  • 5. Browns over 4. Texans
  • 3. Bears over 6. Seahawks
  • 3. Ravens over 6. Jaguars

 

Divisional Round

Rahim’s Picks:

  • 1. Saints over 5. Seahawks
  • 5. Chiefs over 1. Chargers
  • 1. Rams over 3. Bears
  • 2. Patriots over 3. Texans

Aman’s Picks:

  • 1. Saints over 4. Eagles
  • 1. Patriots over 5. Browns
  • 2. Rams over 3. Bears
  • 2. Chiefs over 3. Ravens

Divisional Round Recap:

There will be no Wild Card surprise in this year’s playoffs either. We each had at least one of the No. 5’s to advance, but they will lose to the No.1 teams. Well, at least the Seahawks and Browns will lose. I have the Chiefs as a No. 5 beating the top ranked Chargers to advice to their second straight Conference Championship. In fact, we have all four of the same teams from last year’s Conference Championships in there again, as they continue to dominate the NFL. For the sake of good ratings, we might actually want to see the Browns or the Bears make it this far, but are they both ready for that big moment?

 

Conference Championship

Rahim’s Picks:

  • 2. Rams over 1. Saints
  • 5. Chiefs over 2. Patriots

Aman’s Picks:

  • 1. Saints over 2. Rams
  • 1. Patriots over 2. Chiefs

Conference Recap:

I guess it’s time for me to explain why I have the Chiefs as a No. 5 seed in the AFC playoff standings, but still the AFC representative in the Super Bowl. I think the Chiefs’ offense won’t be as explosive as we saw it last year. Everyone was wowed by what QB Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs did despite all the Kareem Hunt controversy. Mahomes surprised us all, as he threw for 50 touchdowns in a season and earned MVP honors last year, but I don’t think he’ll be able to have the same numbers this season, and the team will lose at least five games.

The thing that sucks is that they will finish with a better record than the Browns and the Texans, but still be a Wild Card team. I think they will thrive off the energy of the fans that cheer for them away from Arrowhead and make it to the Super Bowl.

I also think the Rams will win their second Conference Championship game against the Saints, and this time it won’t be controversial. Aman thinks differently, and that’s what makes this interesting. He has the Patriots going to their fourth straight Super Bowl. I think the Chiefs will beat the Patriots and start a new era. I like who Aman picked for the Super Bowl matchup, because honestly, I wanted to see the Saints and Patriots matchup last year, so let’s see who we both have winning the Super Bowl.

 

Super Bowl LIV

Rahim’s Pick: Los Angeles Rams over Kansas City Chiefs

Aman’s Pick: New Orleans Saints over New England Patriots

Super Bowl Recap:

As you can see, Aman and I both picked the NFC champs to win the Super Bowl, and this is a start of a new era that could see the Patriots championship runs come to an end.

Now let’s see who earns the greatest honor of the season, with awards like Most Valuable Player and Offensive player of the year. Aman and I will share our picks for those awards as we wrap up our predictions and head into the 2019 NFL season.

 

Award Predictions

Most Valuable Player:

Rahim’s Pick: QB Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Aman’s Pick: RB Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints

 

Offensive Player of the Year:

Rahim’s Pick: RB Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

Aman’s Pick: QB Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears

 

Defensive Player of the Year:

Rahim’s Pick: DE Bradley Chubb, Denver Broncos

Aman’s Pick: OLB Khalil Mack, Chicago Bears

 

Offensive Rookie of the Year:

Rahim’s Pick: QB Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

Aman’s Pick: WR Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens

 

Defensive Rookie of the Year:

Rahim’s Pick: DE Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers

Aman’s Pick: CB Justin Layne, Pittsburgh Steelers

 

Comeback Player of the Year:

Rahim’s Pick: QB Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers

Aman’s Pick: RB Devonte Freeman, Atlanta Falcons

 

Coach of the Year:

Rahim’s Pick: Freddie Kitchens, Cleveland Browns

Aman’s Pick: Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints

After agreeing on most of the playoff teams, Aman and I find disagreements on the awards. I like Brees as MVP, simply because he has never won it before. Aman is all in on Kamara this year. He even drafted him on his fantasy team.

I think Barkley will come into the season looking to get the rushing title, but he’ll also be one of the leading receivers on his team. Can Trubisky become Offensive Player of The Year?

How about Defensive Player of The Year? I think Denver’s new defensive scheme will help Chubb lead the league in sacks and QB hits, which will earn him the award. You can’t forget about Mack or Aaron Donald either, though. It’s going to be an interesting season.

When I say interesting, I mean interesting, because this could be a year where we see the No. 1 and No. 2 picks from this year’s draft win the Rookie of the Year award, but Aman doesn’t think so.

How about Comeback Player of The Year? Both Garoppolo and Freeman will be in the running for this award, and it’s honestly going to be good to see these guys back on field.

Can Kitchens lead the Browns to the players and earn himself Coach of the Year honors? A lot of us think the Browns are a favorite to win. If they make playoffs, Kitchens should win this award.

Now that you’ve read our thoughts, let us know yours in the comments below!

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.

NFL Overtime

NFL Overtime leaving many wanting more

NFL Overtime
Tom Brady” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

 

Most of the concerns have focused on the fact that the archaic officiating standards the NFL goes by are in need of a change. I think this argument is clear and valid when you watched blown calls all Sunday long.

Some are calling for a change in officiating. Others are yelling from the rooftops for the NFL competition committee to take a look at the league’s regulations regarding NFL overtime.

For the first time in NFL history, we saw both Conference Championship games need extra time to decide the winner. Looking back at both games, specifically both overtimes, the tale of the tape is much different. One showed the ugliness of the regulations, where one in my opinion showed just how easy it can be to fix.

 

AFC Championship game

The AFC Championship game between the Patriots and Chiefs looked like another classic Patriots performance. A dominating defensive showing by New England and a genius game plan that was executed to perfection. In the second half though, that game plan fell apart and Pat Mahomes woke up. His performance in the second half solidified to everyone why he is ultimately the MVP this year.

The Chiefs crawled back into the game. They took the ball down the field with only 39 seconds left to tie it up and bring it into overtime. The Chiefs didn’t realize that this was the beginning of the end. Things look bright when Patriots captain Matthew Slater picked heads at the coin toss to begin the NFL overtime. We all know tails never fails. But Patriot magic reared its ugly head again and it landed heads. That is all the Patriots needed. The slow and methodically drive down the field for the game-winning touchdown was hard to watch, but expected. When it was all said and done, we did not get the chance to see the Chiefs be able to rebuttal this drive. A little unfair if you ask me.

 

NFC Championship game

The other Championship game saw the Rams drive into field goal range at the end of regulation to tie the game up. This NFL overtime was totally different in comparison to the above-mentioned one. Just like the Patriots, the Saints won the coin toss and received the ball first. I think it’s safe to assume once we saw the Saints win toss, we thought the game was over. The plot took a quick turn once the Rams managed to create a turnover and turn it the game-winning field goal.

Both games went into overtime, but only one of them is being heavily scrutinized. Many see that the fact the Chiefs did not have a chance to answer back and force the Patriots to stop them to secure the win is not right for the league and its fans. With that, I have heard a plethora of ideas and concepts to change NFL overtime. What these people are blind to see is that how the NFC Championship game played out is the perfect beginning to how it could change.

 

NFL Overtime changes

In this current climate in the NFL, defensive stops are at an all-time premium. I have no issue with how the Rams won because they made the stop and scored the points. That to me showed that the Rams were the better team in that NFL overtime. The defensive stop needs to be valued more than the touchdown right now. I think it deserves the ability to win the game in overtime. Imagine just how exciting that AFC Championship game would have been if we had the opportunity to see the Chiefs drive down the field to score to keep their hopes alive.

If the Patriots stop them, game over. If the Chiefs score, it goes on till one team can make a stop and score points in consecutive sequences. When time runs out, well then it ends with the team in the lead.

Fair and simple. The concept of change for NFL overtime does not need to be elaborate or outside of the box. It just needs to be reworked to make it a fair competition. It needs to be in the best interest of the entire league and all of its fans.

Remaining NFL teams - Saints

Why the remaining NFL teams will win the Super Bowl and why they won’t

After last week’s Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs, the four remaining NFL teams are the New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs. Which team will win the Super Bowl?

For the Saints, Rams, Patriots and Chiefs, one more win gets them into the Super Bowl. One more win gives them a chance to be crowned as champions of the NFL. Two of these of four remaining NFL teams will get that chance after Sunday’s Conference Championship games. However, making it to the Super Bowl means there’s one more game left to win. That’s the Super Bowl itself.

Any of these four remaining NFL teams could win the Super Bowl. All of them would be worthy champions. With that being said, any of them could also lose the Super Bowl, or not make it at all. These are the four best teams in the NFL. Anyone can beat anyone at this point of the season. What we’re going to do today is examine one reason why each of the four remaining NFL teams will win the Super Bowl and one reason why they won’t.

Remaining NFL teams

 

Remaining NFL teams - Patriots
0 New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady” by Jack Kurzenknabe is licensed under Public Domain

New England Patriots

Why they will: RB Sony Michel

Tom Brady should obviously be the reason why the Patriots will win the Super Bowl, right? Well, not this year. Tom Brady has done this many times before, but I’m not sure I’d want him throwing the ball around 40 or 50+ times a game. If I were a Patriots fan, I’d rather watch the Patriots dominate on the ground. Enter Sony Michel.

Sony Michel has had a fantastic rookie season. He carried the ball 209 times for 931 yards and six TDs during the regular season. Had he not missed three games, he’d easily have been a 1,000+ yard rusher. Michel carried his regular season success into the playoffs. In their dominating win against the Chargers, Sony Michel ran for 124 yards and three TDs. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry. The Chargers just couldn’t stop him.

Because Michel was too good on the ground, Tom Brady couldn’t be stopped in the passing game either. He threw for 343 yards and one TD. Brady was Brady, but it looked like it was so much easier to be Brady because of how Michel controlled the game on the ground.

The Patriots are now going up against Patrick Mahomes and the NFL’s best offense. If they make it past them, they’ll have to up against either the Rams or the Saints. What can the Patriots do to keep these explosive offense’s off the field? Run the ball, run the ball and then run the ball some more.

Why they won’t: Lack of pressure on opposing QBs

When the regular season came to an end, guess where the Patriots ranked in sacks. 30th. They were tied for second worst in the league with the New York Giants. They only tallied 30 sacks all season long. Usually when you see a low number of sacks, it means a low number of pressures.

In their win against the Chargers, the Patriots were able to sack Philip Rivers two times. That’s decent, but here’s what I was impressed with. They got seven hits on Philip Rivers. Although they only sacked him twice, they got a good amount of pressure on him throughout the game. That has to stay constant for the Patriots to win the Super Bowl.

The other three remaining NFL teams ranked second (Saints), fifth (Chiefs) and ninth (Rams) in sacks allowed this season. If the Patriots can’t get pressure on the league’s best offense’s and QBs, they can’t expect to win the Super Bowl. Jared Goff would be the easiest QB to overcome, but Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees? I like their chances if they have time to throw the ball.

 

Remaining NFL teams - Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs Patrick Mahomes” by Jack Kurzenknabe is licensed under Public Domain

Kansas City Chiefs

Why they will: Explosive offense

If you’re looking for an offensive show, look no further than the Kansas City Chiefs. This team led the league in points per game, averaging 35.3. In their Divisional Round win, this team absolutely dominated the Colts’ defense, winning the game 31-13. This week the New England Patriots are coming to town. A New England team who just walked all over a 12-4 Chargers team who was tied for the best record in the AFC. In that game against the Chargers, the Patriots put up 41 points!

For the Chiefs to make it to the Super Bowl, this offense has to be as explosive as ever. It’s probably going to take 40+ points. That’s not a huge deal for the Chiefs, who scored 40+ points five times during the regular season. They were close on several other occasions.

Patrick Mahomes and his incredible throws. Travis Kelce, who is one of, if not the best TE in the NFL. Tyreek Hill, who will be the fastest player on the field. How do you defend that? All of these guys are going to have be at the top of their game to win the Super Bowl. The other three remaining NFL teams can all score, but there’s something special about this offense. How explosive this offense is will go a long way, especially with their questionable defense, which we’ll talk about next.

Why they won’t: Questionable defense

I was actually impressed by how well this defense played against the Colts last week. They held a hot Andrew Luck and his offense to 13 points. This defense dominated! Now the question is, can they do it again against the Patriots? If they make it past them, can they do it against either the Saints or Rams?

We’ve seen flashes of the Chiefs being able to play well defensively, but they haven’t been able to do it consistently. During the regular season, the Chiefs had four games where they gave up less than 20 points. Those four games were against the Jaguars, Bengals, Cardinals and Raiders. Not impressive.

In games where they played the league’s better teams, this defense gave up 43 points (Loss to the Patriots), 54 points (Loss to the Rams), 29 points (Loss to the Chargers) and 38 points (Loss to the Seahawks). Those are just to name a few times. This defense even game up 33 points to the Raiders one week, although the offense saved the day by scoring 40.

The three offense’s left are ranked second (Rams), third (Saints) and fourth (Patriots) in points per game. Can this defense hold up against the best offensive teams in the NFL?

 

Remaining NFL teams - Rams
Los Angeles Rams Robert Woods – Seattle Seahawks Delano Hill” by Jack Kurzenknabe is licensed under Public Domain

Los Angeles Rams

Why they will: Play-calling

Todd Gurley, Jared Goff and Brandin Cooks. You could name a ton of players on this team who dictate their success. While that is true, there’s nothing making the Rams as successful as they are more than play-calling. You could find several NFL teams who have stars you could easily matchup with Gurley and Goff offensively. What you can’t find, is several NFL teams who call plays like the Rams do. When they have star players offensively and the best play-calling in the NFL, how do you defend that?

The Rams have the best play-calling in the NFL because they run multiple plays from the same formation. If the Rams run a run play from a certain formation, the next time they come out in that formation, they’ll pass. The defense thought they knew what was coming, but they had no idea. If you haven’t noticed this while watching the Rams play, watch this video of Good Morning Football’s Nate Burlesson explaining just how explosive this style of play-calling can be here.

How do you defend that? It’s nearly impossible. Even when the Saints beat the Rams earlier in the season, the Rams still scored 35 points. New Orleans had to score 45 to comfortably beat them. Of the remaining NFL teams, the Rams by far have the best play-calling. If they win the Super Bowl, their play-calling will be the reason.

Why they won’t: QB Jared Goff

Jared Goff finally got his first playoff win last week, which makes his playoff record 1-1. Despite getting his first playoff win, Goff was underwhelming. While it’s true Goff didn’t need to do anything spectacular to win their Divisional Round game because of how well their running game was, it would have been nice to see a little more from him.

Even though the Rams got the win, Goff completed just 53.6% of his passes for 186 yards, zero TDs and a passer rating of 74.4. Goff may have been able to get away with that kind of play against the Cowboys, an offense who struggled all season, but what happens when the Rams go up against the offense’s of the Saints, Chiefs or Patriots? Goff won’t be able to get away with completing 53.6% of his passes and having a 74.4 passer rating. He just won’t be able to against Drew Brees, Patrick Mahomes or Tom Brady.

I know Goff has played well throughout the season, but in two playoff games, Goff hasn’t impressed me. In his two playoff games, Goff has completed 53.4% of his passes for 445 yards, one TD and a passer rating of 76.6. How many playoff games can you win with that from your QB?

 

Remaining NFL teams - Saints
New Orleans Saints Michael Thomas – Carolina Panthers Donte Jackson” by Jack Kurzenknabe is licensed under Public Domain

New Orleans Saints

Why they will: They remain calm, cool and collected

In their win over the Philadelphia Eagles, the Saints dug themselves into a 14-0 hole in the first quarter. Drew Brees threw an INT on his first pass attempt. Then they had to punt on their second drive. Everything was going wrong, while everything went right for the defending champs. It really couldn’t have been a worse start for the Saints, but what they did after that terrible start impressed me.

Did the Saints panic? Not one bit. A lot of times when teams dig themselves into an early hole, they panic and start to play a game that’s not theirs. Instead of getting away from who they are, the Saints stuck to their game, slowly chipping away at the 14-0 lead built by the Eagles. By halftime, the Saints had almost dug themselves out of that hole by getting the score to 14-10. By the end of the third quarter, the Saints took the lead, eventually winning the game 20-14.

If the Saints win the Super Bowl, one of the main reasons why will be because of their ability to stay calm, cool and collected in big games. Going against the Rams and then either the Patriots or Chiefs, there’s a good chance they’re going to have some points scored on them. These are three of the best offense’s in the NFL. Don’t be surprised if the Rams build a lead on the Saints in the Conference Championship game. If the Rams do build a lead, don’t be surprised if the Saints come back. There’s a reason this team went 13-3. They’re not just a good offense when they’re winning. This team will play their game regardless of the score.

Why they won’t: Relying too much on WR Michael Thomas

WR Michael Thomas has established himself as one of the best WRs in the NFL. Thomas recorded 125 catches for 1,405 yards and nine TDs in the regular season. In the Saints’ game against the Eagles, Thomas recorded 12 catches for 171 yards and one TD. Having a receiver who can consistently change a game is something every QB wants, but what happens when that receiver gets shut down?

Looking back at the Saints’ schedule, their two worst performances came against the Dallas Cowboys (10 points) and Carolina Panthers (12 points). In both games, Michael Thomas was held to below 50 yards receiving. That’s not a problem if another receiver steps up, but Thomas was the leading receiver in both games.

In the game against Dallas, Thomas was held to 40 yards. Outside of RB Alvin Kamara, who was targeted 11 times, no other Saints receiver was targeted more than three times. In the game against Carolina, Thomas was held to 49 yards. Outside of RB Alvin Kamara, who was targeted nine times, no other Saints receiver was targeted more than four times.

What does that tell us? It tells us the Saints don’t have a reliable receiving option outside of Michael Thomas. Thomas had about twice as many yards as the Saints’ next leading receiver, who was RB Alvin Kamara (709 yards). The next leading receiver on the team was rookie Tre’Quan Smith, who caught 28 passes for 427 yards and five TDs.

If the Rams, Patriots or Chiefs are able to limit the impact of Thomas, they will limit the impact of everyone else on the Saints’ offense. For the Saints to be one of the four remaining NFL teams to not only make, but win the Super Bowl, their other receiving options need to step up.

What you missed this weekend in sports: 12/29/18 – 12/30/18

It’s been a while since we’ve done one of these articles and we’d like to apologize to those who have been keeping up with the sports while we’ve been missing. We will try to keep this going all throughout the NFL playoffs.

Speaking of NFL, find out all the interesting news that happened this weekend along with news from college football, NBA,  Premier League and Cricket. So let’s find out what we’ve missed this week!

Saquon Barkley” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

NFL

Arizona Cardinals are on the clock:

The Cardinals have finished with the worst record in the NFL (3-13), which has landed them the first overall pick in the 2019 Draft in April. It will be interesting to see what they do with that pick, as they already have a QB, WR and RB for the future.

Saquon Barkley wraps up historical rookie year:

Barkley breaks the record for most catches by a rookie RB with his 89th reception of the year, previously owned by Reggie Bush! Barkley also becomes the third rookie to gain 2000 yards from scrimmage, joining Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James. This has likely set him up to win the Rookie of the year.

Philly Special in Atlanta and Miami:

If I told you we would see two Philly specials on the same day, would you believe me? Well, you should because in the regular season finale for the Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins, their quarterbacks caught a TD pass. That’s what a Philly special is, the QB catching the ball in the end zone. It was made famous by Eagles’ QB Nick Foles.

Falcons’ Matt Ryan and Dolphins’ Ryan Tannenhill are the next two QBs to do it successfully.

Mahomes’ 50th TD pass and 5000 yards passing:

Mahomes surprised several of us with the numbers he has put up this season. In only his second year in the NFL, he has broken several records and joined elite company. With his 50 touchdowns, he joins the likes of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. He also might have just made himself the clear cut front runner for the league MVP.

Baker Mayfield sets Rookie record:

Like Mahomes, Mayfield has had himself a nice season too. But was it enough to give him the rookie of the year honors? He has taken the Cleveland Browns to a successful season, finishing 7-8-1. That’s the most wins they have had over the past four seasons. They’ve only had three wins over the three seasons before that. He has also set the rookie record for passing touchdowns in a season with 27. That’s one more than Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson, who shared the record. Will Mayfield win the ROY?

NFL Playoffs:

The playoff picture has been set. It will be an exciting one, as this week could tell a lot about a team. We’ve seen both the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers miss out on the playoffs after being one of the top teams last year. So let’s take a look at the playoffs as we head into the New Year.

AFC:

1. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)

2. New England Patriots (11-5)

3. Houston Texans (11-5) vs 6. Indianapolis Colts (10-6)

4. Baltimore Ravens (10-6) vs 5. Los Angeles Chargers (12-4)

NFC:

1. New Orleans Saints (13-3)

2. Los Angeles Rams (12-4)

3. Chicago Bears (11-5) vs 6. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)

4. Dallas Cowboys (10-6) vs 5. Seattle Seahawks (10-6)

Coaches Fired: 

Now that the season is over, the search for new head coaches is on. We’ve already seen the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns fire their head coaches, but let’s see who is going to join them.

Some names already announced:

New York Jets’ Todd Bowles

Denver Broncos’ Vance Joseph

Arizona Cardinals’ Steve Wilkes

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Dirk Koetter

Expect for there to be more firings throughout the week.

 

College Football

National Championship set:

The committee might have had it wrong letting Notre Dame stay in the playoffs over Ohio State and Georgia. Clearly the Fighting Irish were no challenge for the Clemson Tigers. We will now have to suffer through another round of Clemson-Alabama in the National Championship. Can Alabama be the first team to repeat in the playoff era? Or will Clemson win their second title in three years? Nonetheless, the winner of this game will be the first team in FBS history to finish with a record of 15-0. Who you got?

 

Premier League (By Aman Huda)

Wolves stun Tottenham:

Although Wolves have been impressive this Premier League season, including their 2-1 win over Chelsea, it was still hard to predict them beating Tottenham at Wembley. And till the 70th minute, Tottenham was on top 1-0, but not comfortably. Willy Boly equalized in the 72nd minute to give Wolves hope, but no one saw Wolves winning 1-3 by the end of the 90 minutes! That’s exactly what happened, thanks to goals from Mexican star Raúl Jiménez and Portuguese winger Hélder Costa.

Fulham finds last minute crucial victory:

New Fulham Manager Claudio Ranieri found success this weekend at home versus Huddersfield, not just in winning, but more importantly, in keeping a clean sheet. Nineteenth-placed Fulham won 1-0 in the craziest of fashions: by a 91st-minute goal by hero Aleksandar Mitrović! Now, Fulham is still 19th with 14 points, while Huddersfield sits bottom last with just ten points. Fulham will have to deal with Arsenal next, while Huddersfield will have an encounter against winners Burnley.

Liverpool extends lead to nine points at the top:

Many saw Liverpool winning against title-challengers Arsenal on Saturday. Few could have seen the Reds winning 5-1. Even fewer would have seen four of the five goals coming in the first half. Unai Emery’s Arsenal was left speechless by Liverpool’s front three, as Roberto Firmino won a hat-trick, Sadio Mané scored off of Mohammad Salah’s assist, and after Salah scored a penalty, his thirteenth goal of the season. Arsenal did get one from youngster Ainsley Maitland-Niles, but now Arsenal continues to roe in fifth, 16 points behind Liverpool.

Manchester City gets back to winning ways:

After losing to Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Leicester City, it would have been quite optimistic to predict Manchester City to beat Southampton, especially after Southampton had successfully beaten Arsenal. But City finished the job within the first half, getting three goals, thanks to David Silva in the opening ten minutes, Sergio Aguero’s strike at the end of the half and an own goal from James Ward-Prowse. Southampton did manage to get one in the 37th minute from Pierre-Emile Højbjerg to make it 1-1, but Manchester City managed to retain their second-place position, while Southampton is in trouble in 17th.

 

Cricket (By Aman Huda)

India beat Australia on Day 5 in the Boxing Day Test:

Boxing Day may be a special occasion for Australians, but losing, not so much. After debutant Mayank Agarwal’s 76(161) and Cheteshwar Pujara’s 106(319) lead India to a massive 443-7d, it seemed India would have wrapped this test up quickly, but heroics from Pat Cummins on Day 4 allowed a Day 5 to be contested, with India needing two wickets to win. After Cummins fell for 63(114), Nathan Lyon fell soon after for 7(50) as India won on a rain-hit Day 5 by 137 runs.

Cameron Bancroft makes a return to cricket:

After being caught cheating through ball-tampering in a test versus South Africa for Australia, opening batsmen Cameron Bancroft faced a nine-month ban from cricket. That ban ended yesterday, as Bancroft made his return in the Big Bash League for Perth Scorchers against the Hobart Hurricanes. Unfortunately, Bancroft only scored two off three at number five in Perth’s collapse of 107-8, which Hobart chased in 17 and a half overs with six wickets remaining.

Breaking down the NFL MVP race after Week 16

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been giving you my top three NFL MVP candidates. This week is different. With just one week left to play in the regular season, another QB has inserted himself into the MVP conversation. This week’s rankings have some movement based on how my top MVP candidates played in Week 16. Even though there’s only one week left in the season, I believe there are four candidates who have a legit shot at winning the award. Find my breakdown of where each player is ranked below.

Russell Wilson” by Keith Allison is licensed CC BY-SA 2.0
1. QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Here’s the main reason Patrick Mahomes remains number one, even after the Chiefs have lost two straight games. Even when Patrick Mahomes can’t get the Chiefs a win, he still has a good game. In three out of the four losses the Chiefs have, Mahomes has thrown three or more TDs. In the one game he didn’t throw three or more TDs, he threw two. He just hasn’t had a game you could really consider bad.

Patrick Mahomes has been exciting to watch in every game this season. In their loss to the Seahawks, Mahomes only completed 57.5% of his passes, but he threw three TD passes and had a passer rating of 103.4. Even though Mahomes isn’t always great in every category, his ability to make huge plays and put up big numbers in other categories makes up for it.

2. QB Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

I knocked Drew Brees down to third in last week’s rankings. The reason why was because he had a string of subpar games. Although Brees didn’t have a spectacular game against the Steelers this past week, Brees moved back up to number two. He has Philip Rivers to thank for that. We’ll get to him in a minute.

Brees only threw one TD pass against the Steelers, but he did throw for 326 yards and completed 69.2% of his passes. That led him to a passer rating of 103.2. After three straight games of having a passer rating below 100, Brees finally made it back up there. Even though his numbers weren’t huge for the fourth straight week, Brees looked like the MVP Brees we saw earlier in the season.

3. QB Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

By beating the Kansas City Chiefs and securing the Seahawks a playoff spot, Russell Wilson put himself into the MVP mix after Week 16. This was a must win game for the Seahawks after losing to the 49ers the week before. Boy oh boy did they deliver, especially Russell Wilson. His completion percentage of 62.1% was a little down, but he threw for 271 yards and three TDs. Wilson was able to earn himself a passer rating of 127.2.

In addition to passing for 271 yards, Wilson added 57 yards on the ground. Wilson had a great game, but perhaps what’s most important to Wilson moving into third place is the fact that he out dueled the MVP leader in Patrick Mahomes. Russell Wilson was clutch when his team needed him. Wilson can’t be ignored in the MVP conversation.

4. Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers

After being ranked second in last week’s NFL MVP rankings, Philip Rivers moved back down the list, this time to fourth. The reason why Rivers moved down two spots is because he had a bad game against the Ravens. I’ll cut him a little slack because the Ravens have one of, if not the best defense in the NFL this season, but that kind of game from Rivers was unacceptable. It was even more unacceptable because the Chargers needed to win for playoff purposes. If they would have won, they would now be the number one seed in the AFC, probably getting a first-round bye.

Instead of stepping up his play in a huge game, Philip Rivers completed 62.2% of his passes for just 181 yards, zero TDs and two INTs. His passer rating was 51.7, which is his worst of the season by far. His worst passer rating before that was 89.0. It’s possible the Chargers could still get a first-round bye and home field advantage in the AFC, but Philip Rivers may have blown their shot by having his worst game of the season.

Buy or Sell Six-Pack: Murray, Patriots, Bears, Ariza, Big Ten Basketball, Doncic

In the last Buy or Sell of 2018 (yep, we’re taking off next week), RahimAli, Joel and I are taking an expanded look at the sports landscape.

We’re discussing the future of Kyler Murray. Then we’re taking a look toward the NFL playoffs: do the Patriots have any cache left? Will the Bears manage to snag a first-round bye?

Finally, we end with some questions to be determined on the hardwood: did the Lakers make a mistake by standing pat? Will a Big Ten team rise up in March? And is the NBA Rookie of the Year already determined?

140095_7247” by Disney | ABC Television Group is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Cullen: Kyler Murray Will Be on an NFL Roster in 2019

Joel: I really want to buy Murray being on an NFL roster in 2019, but I think I have to sell. Murray has said for a long time he’s going to pursue MLB over the NFL. I thought that may change after the incredible season he’s had at Oklahoma and winning the Heisman, but his plans are still MLB. Until some sort of news comes out that’s good enough to convince me Murray is changing his mind, I’m going to believe he’s pursuing MLB.

Do I think he should choose the NFL over MLB? Yes. That’s not for me to decide, though. If Murray did pursue the NFL, he’d have no trouble at all getting on a roster. He’s an electric player who could not only help a team win, but bring in sales because people want to watch him play. I think Murray could do great things in the NFL, but I just don’t know if he’ll change his mind.

RahimAli: I would love for this to be a buy, but it’s an easy sell! Though Murray has won the 2018 Heisman Trophy, his decision was already made. Nothing will be able to change that, but maybe his dad!

I say that because this question has been on my mind since I first found out about who he is. Ironically, I had the honor of having a conversation with a former teammate of Kyler’s dad, Kevin Murray. As this conversation went on, he was telling me how Kevin also had the same plans. That was until he had a gruesome ankle injury that forced him to retire. You see, Kevin played in NFL and got hurt. He now spends his time as a high school football coach.

But the difference between Kyler and his father is the athleticism Kyler has. We have been able to see what kind of athlete he is on the football field, but I’m really interested in seeing what he will do on a baseball diamond.

Why Murray made the decision to play baseball over football, I don’t know, but I’m looking forward to seeing the kind of explosive plays he’ll make as an athletic player with incredible skills. Whether he sticks with MLB or does have a career in the NFL, Murray is going to become a household name.

 

RahimAli: The Five-Loss Patriots Are No Longer the Team to Beat in the AFC

Cullen: With Tom Brady still at the helm and Bill Belichick still on the sidelines, the Patriots will be the AFC team to beat until someone beats them in the playoffs. So I’m selling this.

They looked bad Sunday against the Steelers. This offense is not at all explosive. Rob Gronkowski looks like a shell of his former self, and Josh Gordon’s usage has been perplexing, at best. Brady, who won the MVP as a 40-year-old, definitely looks his age in 2018.

But that may be an advantage in the AFC playoffs. There will be some young quarterbacks in the playoffs for the first time in the AFC, from the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes II to the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson to the Texans’ Deshaun Watson. I’d feel more comfortable with Brady’s playoff experience than those young gunslingers’ potential. With the Chargers and Philip Rivers–they have had minimal, if any, success in the playoffs. The Patriots’ biggest threat may very well be the team that just beat them. But even the Steelers are playing incredibly inconsistently.

All this is to say, don’t count the Patriots out of the playoffs just yet.

Joel: I’m going to sell on the Patriots not being the team to beat anymore. New England may not be the best team in the AFC this season, but they’re still the team nobody except Patriots fans wants in the Super Bowl. Until the Patriots have been beaten in the playoffs and aren’t going to the Super Bowl again, they’re going to be the team to beat.

I agree with what Cullen said about the young QBs some of the AFC teams have. We haven’t seen too many young QBs have a lot of playoff success. Most of the time it’s the experienced QBs who come out on top. Tom Brady has a proven resume of winning in the playoffs, as evidenced by his eight Super Bowl appearances and five Super Bowl wins.

If the Patriots are in the playoffs, they’ll have a target on their back regardless of how bad they’re playing right now. Their bad play recently will go out the door come playoff time. It’s a new start for every team. It’s a new game. The Patriots have consistently won that game, making them the team to beat.

 

Joel: The Chicago Bears Will Grab a First-Round Bye

Cullen: Selling on the Bears getting a first-round bye. For that to happen, Chicago needs to win out, defeating both a suddenly decent-looking 49ers team in San Francisco and defeating a Vikings team that’s vying for a playoff spot. Meanwhile, the Rams, with whom the Bears hold a head-to-head tiebreaker, travel to the pitiful Arizona Cardinals and host the 49ers. The Rams are a game up on the Bears, and I think they’ll keep it that way.

Now, about how each of these teams fare in the playoffs, that may be a different story…

RahimAli: I will sell the Bears clinching a first round bye despite their victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 14. I sell it because it’s just too late in the season. I do expect to see the Bears finish the season strong and have a nice 12-4 record with wins over the Niners this week and divisional foe Minnesota Vikings in the season finale. But because of injury to QB Mitchell Trubisky earlier in the season, the Bears lost some ground on the Rams and NFC’s No. 1 team, the New Orleans Saints.

For the Rams (11-3), it’s coming down to two of their divisional opponents, the Arizona Cardinals, and the same Niners that will face the Bears. The Cardinals are looking to get one of the top three picks in the 2019 draft (currently no. 1), and the Niners are just looking forward for their key offensive players (QB Jimmy Garrapolo and RB Jerrick McKinnon) to return next season. But the real thing is that this will give Rams QB Jared Goff a few more games to get his act together and bounce back nicely after having several interceptions and a fumble in the last two weeks.

For the Saints, they could lose one of their next two games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers. I think they will lose to the Steelers as a pick in this week’s picks. Read my explanation there. But still one more loss will still leave the Bears a game back of the Saints. It’s okay though, because I really believe this Bears team could be the team to beat, and I’m a Rams fan.

 

Cullen: The Lakers Made a Mistake in Passing up Trading for Trevor Ariza

Joel: I buy it was a mistake passing on Ariza. Ariza may not be the player he once was, but he’s still a very effective player who could significantly help the Lakers. Just his presence as a veteran could help them. Look at what Tyson Chandler has done for the Lakers. He’s helped their defense and gives them valuable experience. I think Ariza would have done the same for the Lakers. Ariza is a very good defender, who is also capable of scoring. He’s shooting 36% from three this season and has been a pretty consistent three-point shooter throughout his career. With a guy like LeBron James demanding all the attention, Ariza wouldn’t have had to do much but move around and take open shots LeBron gave him. I think that would have worked out nicely.

When playoff time comes around, Ariza would have been very effective. The Lakers are going to need as many defenders as they can get if they want to beat the Warriors, Nuggets, Thunder, etc. in the playoffs. Ariza could have been one of the defenders the Lakers needed. They’ll be fine without him, but I believe they would have been better with him on their team.

RahimAli: As a Lakers fans since 1998, I’m buying this as a huge mistake.

When Ariza was first a Laker from 2007-2009, he wasn’t like what he is now, but I’ve always wished there was a way to get him back to the Lakers. I understand the reason for moving on the first time, but passing on him this late in his career, I don’t like it.

Looking at what was given up in the trade to get Ariza, you can’t tell me the Lakers don’t have pieces to move. I mean, they could’ve moved one of their veteran players like Lance Stephenson, Micheal Beasley or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and paired them with a rookie and a pick. I mean, the Suns are the worst team in the NBA and anything is better than what they have. They just waived Austin Rivers, too, as he was a part of the deal.

But for Lakers, it’s about getting the veteran presence around the young guys like Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma. That’s why the Lakers have made the moves they did signing all these veterans to one-year deals. Like Joel said, the addition of Tyson Chandler has already made a huge impact on the Lakers defensively, and Ariza would have been another great piece. Ariza not only is a good defender like he has been his entire career, but he’s become better and better every year. That’s what the Lakers need to do. Having the presence of a player with Ariza’s caliber to help Ingram, Kuzma and even Josh Hart defensively would’ve helped make the Lakers a better team and an instant top three team in the West. Although being fourth isn’t bad right now, how long will they be able to stay there with other teams like the Thunder and Warriors looking like tough opponents?

But I hope the Lakers do address the concern of more defense before the trade deadline comes around.

 

RahimAli: A Big Ten Team Will Win the National Championship in Basketball This Season, Ending an 18-Year Drought

Joel: It’s still too early in the season for me to really buy a Big Ten team winning the National Championship. There’s still a lot of basketball left to be played and you just never know what will happen in College Basketball. However, as the top 25 sits right now, the Big Ten has the most teams out of any conference to be ranked. Seven teams, to be exact. Those seven teams are Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa and Nebraska. It’s because of these seven teams being ranked in the top 25 that I’ll buy the Big Ten being home to the champs, but I’m going to leave that buy subject to change as the season goes on. The numbers are in favor of this happening right now, but again, you never know what can happen in College Basketball.

Cullen: Selling on a Big Ten team winning it all. It’s still too early to make that kind of prediction. So I’ll take the field. I expect the Big Ten teams to beat up on each other all through conference play and the Big Ten Tournament. That could do one of two things: make the eventual champion that much stronger, or weaken every team to the point that none go the distance in the NCAA Tournament. Right now, my guess is the latter situation playing out.

 

Joel: Luka Dončić is Already a Lock to Win Rookie of the Year

RahimAli: I will buy this! Out of all the players drafted in the top five, Dončić was put in the best situation. That situation was the Dallas Mavericks, who have always been known to make the playoffs. However, the past two seasons have been rough for the Mavericks.

With them losing so many games, it landed them into the draft lottery. It’s interesting though, because the Atlanta Hawks had drafted him third overall, but traded him to the Dallas Mavericks for PG Trae Young. Young is probably the only player right now who has a chance to catch Dončić. But Dončić has used the team around him to better himself and get the Mavericks into playoff position. Now I know it’s still early in the season, but I have told you previously in my “NBA Review” articles to watch out for the Mavericks. They might have had a few bad seasons, but this season will end with a playoff spot and the rookie of the year. There is no question about it! Dončić is the best player from the 2018 draft class and he will continue to show it as the season goes on. Playing alongside veterans like Dirk Nowitzki, Deandre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and Harrison Barnes will only help him in his progression this season. Let’s not forget about the 2017 Slam Dunk champion winner, Dennis Smith Jr. He and Dončić are the future of the Mavericks team. Boy does that look like a great future!

Cullen: I’ll sell that he’s already a lock for Rookie of the Year, but he is the favorite, for sure. I think he’ll win it. But it’s still so early. I wouldn’t completely count out Collin Sexton or Trae Young. One thing that could surely derail Dončić’s shot at Rookie of the Year is injury. Overall, I sell, yet if he stays healthy and, at the minimum, keeps doing what he’s been doing, he’ll get that hardware.

**********************************************************************************

There you have it! Our last thoughts of 2018. What does everyone else think?

  • What’s Kyler Murray going to ultimately do?
  • Will the Patriots show up for the playoffs?
  • Can the Bears get to help and snag a first-round bye?
  • Will missing out on Trevor Ariza hurt the Lakers?
  • Can a Big Ten basketball squad finally win it all this season?
  • Who can overcome Luka Dončić for NBA Rookie of the Year?

As always, thanks for reading. Hit us up in the comments with your thoughts on these six matters. See you all in 2019!