NFL 2019 Season Predictions: Preseason Edition

The NFL preseason is just a few weeks away now and the NFL is now seemingly shifting towards a younger generation of talent. While the New England Patriots still reign supreme as the defending NFL Champions, teams like the Cleveland Browns, with Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr, and Jarvis Landry, the New Orleans Saints with Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara helping out Drew Brees, the LA Chargers, with Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon looking to help Philip Rivers get a ring before he retires, and of course the Kansas City Chiefs led by the most exciting player in football, Patrick Mahomes. Safe to say that New England will have more competition than they have had in years, but have other teams eclipsed them yet? Here are my predictions for the season (all these predictions are subject to change based on team health, performance, and other factors that can affect a team throughout the NFL season. These are just predictions are of today):

Aaron Rodgers Returns as the NFL’s Best QB & Wins MVP

Aaron Rodgers last season was said to have the ‘worst season of his career’, yet many do not realize that he had the second-most passing yards in a season in his illustrious career and threw just 2 interceptions. They let the lack of wins, good players around him, and his individual health overlook the greatness he achieved over the previous season. Now, I am not saying that it was one of his best years, but to say it was his worst is a bit overdramatic. Rodgers will have a new coach and system, a healthy receiving core, running back, and offensive line, and a much-improved defense to back him up. Expect him to rival Mahomes for the MVP.

The NFC East, NFC North, and AFC West Will Have Two Playoff Teams Each

These three divisions will come into the season with the most competition out of all of them. The NFC East and North have winners which are up in the air, unlike the AFC West which has Kansas City as the clear favorite. The NFC East has Philadelphia and a much-improved Redskins roster, as well as Dallas (assuming that they can figure out Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott’s contract issues, which I will assume they do not, knowing the Cowboys). The NFC North features the best defense in the NFL in the Chicago Bears and a healthy and vamped-up Packers team, and those will be the teams that go on to the playoffs. However, unlike last year, Green Bay will take back the crown of NFC North champions.

As for the NFC East, I think Philadelphia, having a healthy roster and simpler offense to run around Carson Wentz in order to keep him healthy, similar to how they played with Nick Foles. Coach Doug Pederson knows that with the lack of playing time that Wentz has gotten late in seasons due to injury is because of the gameplan, and he will be able to change it. I think Washington will be the next team in from the NFC East. Rookie QB Dwayne Haskins is in a great position right now, good young receivers on offense, a steady running attack, which will help him as a scrambler, and one of the best defenses in the NFL (when healthy). So, Philadelphia might win the division, but Washington will be the wild-card sleeper in the playoffs that could pull off an upset or two.

Pittsburgh Will Be Better Without AB and Le’Veon

Last season, one of the most talented teams in the NFL was blown out of proportion by one player sitting out an entire season to “protect his body” for his impending free agency, and another player who decided that rather than care about winning and the team he played for, that he would instead only care for himself. These players were Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, respectively. Now, while these are two top 5 players at their position, Pittsburgh also found themselves with two more players with top 5 potentials at their position in James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster. The Steelers also have a much more stout defense this year, and that coupled with no distractions should keep Pittsburgh in Super Bowl contention, although Cleveland will take the division.

While Mahomes May Not Win the MVP… The Chiefs Will Be in the Super Bowl

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs were a non-offside call and a coin toss away from going to the Super Bowl instead of New England. However, New England won the toss, there was no offsides call, and New England scored a touchdown to end it. This year, Kansas City brings the same slew of weapons in Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and Damien Williams, and a defense that looks like they can actually make some stops. They’ll win the AFC West handily, and should steamroll through the AFC Playoffs as well, leading them straight to the promise land where they will face…

The New Orleans Saints Will Be Kansas City’s Opponent

New Orleans also had their hearts ripped out of them during the NFC Championship Game when the most obvious defensive pass interference call was not called by the referees. Every single person in the stadium knew it was pass interference, including LA Rams CB Nickell Robey-Coleman, who got away with the call and even admitted after the game that he was “thankful” for the no-call. This year, however, New Orleans kept the core of their team together and is going to bring the same energy and extra motivation to win it all. The NFC South hasn’t improved enough to the point where New Orleans will have trouble there, and they are the deepest team in the NFC, so they should find a way to be in the Super Bowl. You know what they say, third times a charm. Expect them to get home-field advantage through the NFC, the best record in the NFL, and the ring. A game like this between 2 teams that are so explosive on offense, it comes down to who is the more complete defensive team, and that is clearly New Orleans.

 

 

The New Winning NBA Formula: Dynamic Duos for the Win

The 2019 NBA Free Agency was by far the best free agency in NBA history. While it might not have had guys like LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade the way the 2010 Free Agency was, it changed the entire complexion of the NBA and created an NBA which is more evenly-balanced than ever. The number of teams that are now contenders is immensely high, as over half of the NBA is in a position to compete for an NBA Championship next season. Here are my thoughts on some of the best new NBA dynamic duos, how they will actually work, and other predictions for the dynamic duos:

D-Lo Will Get Traded, Steph and Klay Will Attempt to Revive the Warriors

I am not in any way saying that D’Angelo Russell is not an elite player or scorer in the NBA, in fact, he is one of the best, but as great of an offensive team as the Warriors have been for the past few years now, they have always relied on defense, especially against the main perimeter players of teams. Whether it has been Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala or Klay and Kevin Durant, they have always had 2 of their 3 perimeter players be elite defenders to make up for the defensive liability that is Stephen Curry. With Russell and Curry, however, in that backcourt, and no small forward who can be a solid perimeter defender, the Warriors defense simply will not work the same. Draymond Green is a great defender, but you cannot expect him to guard other great perimeter scorer’s night in and night out. Russell will be the one who will have to take the fall for Golden State’s defensive struggles, especially with Thompson out until about March. Not only that, but Russell will not be the leader of the team as he was with the Lakers and Nets, so him being able to defer to Curry and Thompson will not be something he is used to.

Kyrie and KD Will Be the Best in the East, But Maybe Not in the NBA

Kevin Durant suffered an Achilles injury during Game 6 of the NBA Finals which ended his career with the Golden State Warriors and ended his 2019-20 season, in which he will now be a member of the Brooklyn Nets, joining Kyrie Irving. Durant should be back to near his best, if not best form, even coming back from this devastating injury. That being said, it may not be enough to beat teams like the Lakers and Clippers, or even the Bucks, teams with more experience and depth. The Nets, outside of Durant and Kyrie, are very young and have little playoff experience, which may make it difficult for them to win an NBA Championship for a few years but contending shouldn’t be an issue.

LeBron and AD Will Be the Better Duo than PG and Kawhi

Before Paul George had been traded from Oklahoma City to the Clippers for 2 players and an absurd amount of draft picks (5, 4 of which are unprotected), Kawhi Leonard was set on joining the other Los Angeles team, the Lakers, where he would’ve joined LeBron and newly-acquired superstar Anthony Davis, making the next superstar-driven dynasty. However, Kawhi convinced PG to request a trade to the Clippers, and Kawhi joined after the trade. That being said, I think that not only will Davis and LeBron be a better duo, but the Lakers will be the better team. For starters, I think LeBron would be able to defer to Anthony Davis very well and even let Davis be the primary scorer, as there would be less defensive pressure on both of them. While the same would be true for Kawhi and PG, Paul George has struggled in the playoffs for years since leaving Indiana. ‘Playoff P’, as he calls his playoff self, isn’t a very threatening player, and doesn’t compare to ‘Playoff LeBron’. As far as the Lakers being the better LA team, they are simply the deeper and more experienced team, and it poses them as the NBA Finals favorite for years to come. Let the ‘Staples Center Locker Room’ rivalry begin and be the best NBA rivalry for years to come.

 

How the 2019 NBA Free Agency Will Change the NBA For Years to Come

The 2019 NBA Free Agency will begin tonight at 6pm EST, and already there is plenty of shakeup in the league. Kyrie Irving has left the Boston Celtics to go to Brooklyn on a 4-year, $141M max contract, and Kemba Walker has immediately replaced him in Boston, also signing a max contract. Meanwhile, Jimmy Butler will be going to Miami in a sign-and-trade, and Kevin Durant joins Kyrie by going to Brooklyn. Despite that, there are plenty more free agents whose status is up in the air, and here is what I believe will happen to them, and the rest of the NBA:

D’Angelo Russell Prediction: Minnesota Timberwolves

This one is a bit more complicated because the Timberwolves have to trade away Andrew Wiggins to free up the cap, but it makes a lot of sense. Karl Anthony-Towns has talked for months now about the possibility of getting a big name free-agent to Minnesota, and he has often thrown out D’Angelo Russell as the guy he wants. The problem with this is that you have to trade Wiggins, but in order to get back players that have the same worth as Wiggins AND still sign D-Lo, you probably need to find a third team interested. It may take a bit longer than expected and could force Russell to look towards teams like the LA Lakers and Phoenix Suns, who already have the cap and don’t need to make big roster moves. As of right now though, Minnesota seems very confident that Wiggins is drawing interest from teams, and that they can get a deal done soon. Also, although the Warriors want to try to force Brooklyn into a sign-and-trade KD for D-Lo trade, that is not happening. Sorry Warriors, but the dynasty is over.

Kawhi Leonard Prediction: LA

As you can see here, I did not specify which Los Angeles team, but I am confident that it is between one of the two LA teams. The only problem that the Clippers have in this case is the fact that KD and Jimmy Butler are likely to snub the Clippers for other teams, and Kawhi wanted to go to the Clippers along with another superstar. That being said, if guys like Tobias Harris or Khris Middleton show up and want to play for the Clippers, than odds are Kawhi would too. On the other hand, it would only seem fitting that Kawhi went to play with LeBron and the Lakers after all the drama from last offseason, where he said he would only play for the Lakers, and that he would consider sitting the season with any other team. Obviously that was not the case and Kawhi went on to win the championship with Toronto, but if you made all that drama to go to be a Lakers, why not just be a Laker?

Klay Thompson Prediction: Stay with Warriors

This is a no-brainer. There is seriously no reason for Klay to leave, and for the Warriors not to offer Klay the 5-year, $190M max contract. Klay is one of the best shooters of all-time, one of the best 3-and-D players ever, and simply a Warrior-for-life. Thompson has been there in the clutch for Golden State so much, especially for Stephen Curry, who is 0-8 on game-winning shots in the playoffs, but Klay continues to catch fire in the clutch. This should have been the first major free agency deal that was made.

Danny Green Prediction: LA Lakers on a Pay Cut

Danny Green is by no means a superstar player in any stretch of the imagination, but he may be one of the greatest role players of all-time. He’s been to 3 NBA Finals, won 2 of the 3, and has been the best shooter on both of those teams (San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors). He is also a guy that wants to win and will do whatever it takes. If that means taking a pay cut and potentially joining Kawhi Leonard, Green will do it and take the mid-level exception contract (a $4.8 million contract per year, which means that he is the one legal, non-minimum veteran contract that the Lakers can use before they go over the salary cap). Even if Kawhi doesn’t go to LA, LeBron will convince him to come join the new superteam.

How Does the NBA Change Now?

The NBA will take a swing in which the East and West will be much more balanced and much more competitive, with it being as wide-open as it has ever been in recent memory. Teams like Miami and Boston have remade themselves into contenders, Milwaukee stays as-is, Toronto could fall massively, Brooklyn is the best team in New York for good, and Philadelphia still stays relevant. As for the Western Conference, Golden State has clearly fallen with the loss of KD and the injury to Klay Thompson, but with LeBron already beginning to create himself the team he wants, it will all depend on Kawhi as to whether or not he takes over the Western Conference for years to come. Not saying that teams like Denver, Portland, and OKC cannot contend, but LeBron always finds a way to get by those teams in the playoffs, like he did in the Eastern Conference. The NBA season will be as wide-open as ever.

What About the Rookies?

Guys like Zion and RJ probably won’t even be talked about anymore with all these familiar faces in new places, as the league is in its prime in terms of the number of contending teams, and guys like Zion and RJ are not in that position. The only rookie-led team that will make a splash is Atlanta, and even that may take a few years to do.

 

Rio 2016 Olympics: Week 1 Recap, and On to the End of the Olympics

Week 1 of the Rio 2016 Olympics has been quite special, with Michael Phelps pushing himself to the limits to win 4 Gold Medals (already), the US Women’s Gymnastics Team also played way over their standards, by taking Gold in the team and individual events. However, there have been many surprises throughout the tournament, with no competition in tennis, USA Men’s Basketball surviving Australia, Serbia, and France, and the US Women’s Soccer Team falling to Sweden in the Quarterfinals. In Week 2, the US Women’s Beach Volleyball team fell to Brazil in straight sets, and Usain Bolt has retained the title as ‘The Fastest Man on Earth’. All in all, here is what I thought of Week 1, and what to expect towards the end of the Olympics.

Michael Phelps is the Greatest Athlete of All-Time

I know that the winner of the decathlon (10 sports by one player) is supposed to be crowned the title of ‘World’s Greatest Athlete’, but Michael Phelps is just too good. Sure, you could argue NBA uber-mega star LeBron James, or Michael Jordan, or decathlon champion Ashton Eaton, or even NFL megastar Odell Beckham Jr., but Phelps has too many medals, wins, and records to have any other player be in the conversation.

Katie Ledecky and USA Will Take Over Women’s Swimming

Ledecky took home 4 Golds and 1 Silver Medal, and the rest of the USA Women’s Swimming Team have taken over, and we should see them taking home many Golds in the future Olympics’.

The USA Women’s Gymnastics Team Was the Greatest EVER

Gymnasts Simone Biles and Aly Raisman were simply outstanding, and may be the best gymnasts on the planet, and the rest of the roster, while not the greatest in the individual events, stepped up in the Team Finals, as the Final Five took home 9 Golds, an Olympic record.

No One Will Ever Be Faster Than Usain Bolt

History speaks for itself.

USA Men’s Basketball Will Still Get the Gold

As much as I am concerned about the performance so far of the United States, I don’t see a way they will not be able to win the Gold medal. It is truly shocking how much they have played under expectations. Their performance against Argentina, who gave them a scare in the first 6 minutes of the game. They will need more defense against Spain in the semifinals, but it was very good against Argentina. They should end up playing Australia in the final, as Serbia won’t be a problem for the Aussies, and they will improve from the first match (USA won 98-88 after trailing nearly the entire game), and bring home the Gold.

Ashton Eaton Will Win the Decathlon Gold

Eaton currently has a 103-point lead in the decathlon, and he is trying to win his 2nd Gold in the Decathlon, but I think that there isn’t any competition this year for him to not be able to win Gold.

USA Women’s Basketball Will Get the Gold Easily

They have no competition, simply put.

The Germany vs. Brazil Men’s Soccer Rematch Will Be LIT!

In the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Germany and Brazil played each other in the semifinal, and everyone was getting ready to see Brazil return to their glory days by getting to the World Cup Final. Germany, instead, crashed the party with a 7-1 drubbing of the Brazilians, and since then, Brazil has been waiting for this rematch. On Saturday, the biggest, most anticipated rematch in the history of soccer, and quite possibly the history of sports, will come to Brazil at the Olympics. Brazil and Germany both started their Olympic campaigns very slowly. Brazil failed to score a goal in their first 2 games, as they ended as scoreless draws, and Germany ended with a 2-2 draw with Mexico, and a 3-3 draw with South Korea. Since then, both teams have come out with a sense of urgency. Germany finished their group play with a 10-0 victory, then won their quarterfinal 4-0 vs Portugal, and won their semifinal 2-0 vs Nigeria. Brazil won their final group play game with a 4-0 victory over Denmark, had a 2-0 victory in the quarters against Colombia, and then the country of Brazil was happier than ever with a 6-0 win in their semifinal. All in all, it has been the play of Brazilian Captain Neymar Jr., who has 4 goals in the tournament, and Goalkeeper Weverton, who hasn’t given up a goal in the tournament, who have led Brazil into the tournament. Germany sports a much different, younger, and less intimidating team than the one in 2014, with younger strikers in Serge Gnabry, Davie Selker, and Lars Bender now taking the lead of the team. In the end, Brazil will take the Gold home for the first time in their coveted soccer history.

My Super Bowl Predictions

The Super Bowl, the most exciting game of the year, is almost here. The Final Four face off this weekend. The winners will go to the Super Bowl, and the losing teams will go home. Here are the various Super Bowl matchups we may see.

I. San Francisco 49ers vs. Baltimore Ravens 

If this were to happen, it would be the perfect way to see if Kaepernick keeps his starting job, or if 8-year veteran QB Alex Smith will regain the starting job. If the Ravens win, then Ray Lewis will end his Hall Of Fame career victorious, putting Alex Smith back in uniform. If the 49ers win, it will state that Alex Smith has lost his job for good, and the 49ers might put him on the trading block, though not many teams will be interested in getting him. In this situation, the Ravens win, Ray Lewis retires as one of the best players in NFL history. Even though Alex Smith will get his job back, it’ll still cap off a remarkable season by Colin Kaepernick. The Ravens will shut down Kaepernick just like the were able to shut down Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning, and also with Tom Brady. Ravens will finish Ray Lewis’s career with a win 27-20.

II. San Francisco 49ers vs. New England Patriots

The 49ers are lead by a quarterback by the name of Colin Kaepernick, who many thought was not elite, though after his huge performance vs. Green Bay, he has turned into one of the most elite quarterbacks in the league. When they faced the Patriots, Colin Kaepernick led the 49ers to a 41-34 win in Foxboro. In this situation, I’d say that the 49ers win 38-35.

III. Atlanta Falcons vs. New England Patriots

This will be a great matchup to watch because both of these QBs love it when they have to lead their football team down the field for a victory. In this situation, Matt Ryan and the Falcons will finally get their wish, a Super Bowl victory. Falcons will win 30-16.

IV. Atlanta Falcons vs. Baltimore Ravens

This will be a match that will be hard for Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, though this will be a defensive battle all the way. Ravens will 14-7.

Which matchup would you like to see? Leave a comment below?

NBA Biggest Season Surprises After Week 1 Of The 2012-13 Season

The NBA season has started with many surprises. Here are the top 5 surprises for the season.

#1: James Harden to Rockets

James Harden, the reigning sixth man of the year, was traded from the OKC Thunder to the Houston Rockets late night on Oct. 27, 2012. It just shows the league how big and small certain markets in the league are. It shows us how OKC is spending all of its money to give away some of its best players over the past few years.

#2: Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard was drafted as the 6th overall pick by the Portland Trail Blazers out of Weber State University (located in Utah). Lillard has started off with a very historic start. He became the 1st rookie point guard to average 20 points and 8 assists (21.3 points per game, 9 assists per game). On the nba.com rookie ladder, Lillard is ranked as the number one choice for Rookie of the Year. There certainly is history still in front, though Damian Lillard has the guts to get it done.

#3: Anthony Davis Injury

Is the unibrow okay? Well, ask Anthony Davis. Davis was hit by teammate Austin Rivers after going up for the rebound. He didn’t play vs. Bulls. If he returns healthy, he could top Lillard on the nba.com rookie ladder. We shall wait…and see…

#4: NY Knicks Use 19 3s To Top MIami Heat

The NY Knicks were coming into their season opener as one of the worst 3-point-shooting teams, though they changed that on Friday night (Nov. 2nd, 2012). ‘Melo had 30 points and connected on 4 3s in a 104-84 Knicks win.

#5: Ray Allen’s 4-point-play

A few nights ago (Nov. 3, 2012), the Heat overcame a 15-point deficit thanks to Allen’s 3. Allen said that “he found the curtain and absorbed the contact”. Allen had 23 points and 9 assists off the bench. This boost will certainly help the Miami Heat as they try to repeat for the title.