NFL playoffs: Wild Card Round


Due to my finals week and the holidays right after, I didn’t write about the last couple Pats games, not much happened to change their future so I’m just going to skip to the playoffs.


Colts at Texans: The matchup of healthier than past seasons, AFC South rivals. Lead Andrew Luck and his now functional right shoulder the Colts bounced back from a bad start to the season and somewhat quietly ripped off a stellar ½+ of the season to make the playoffs. The defense has undeniably stepped up compared to the last few seasons lead by breakout rookie sensation Darius Leonard. The Texans are healthy too. Deshaun Watson had a great bounce-back season after tearing his ACL during his rookie season and J.J. Watt is healthy and still pretty good. Deandre Hopkins had an unbelievable season, not dropping a single pass. These defenses are somewhat similar statistically, but the Colts offense is more productive and features a more diverse attack. Colts win


Seahawks at Cowboys: Russell Wilson is really good. Pete Carroll did a good job this year taking this revamped defense and keeping it somewhat on par with past Seattle defenses. The emergence of Chris Carson really helped this offense become less predictable than just a Russell Wilson show. Dallas’ defense has also been better than expected this season, Ezekiel Elliott had another superb season behind a good offensive line. Seattle’s offense brings a more diverse attack somewhat similar to the Colts and they have a defense with the ability to contain a somewhat suspect Dallas offense. Seahawks win.


Chargers at Ravens: I kind of feel bad for the Chargers, they have the second-best record in the AFC and they have to play a road playoff game in the first round because they’re in the same division as the Chiefs. The ravens had a slow start under Joe Flacco then once Lamar Jackson became the starter the Ravens went 6-1 and controlled their destiny by beating the Browns to win the division and knock the Steelers out of the playoffs. The Chargers offense hasn’t been the same recently, Phillip Rivers has looked bad and star running back Melvin Gordon doesn’t seem to be 100% healthy. The Ravens defense is elite, and they have a killer rushing attack. This one is a toss up for me, but my gut says Chargers if they can see and replicate some of the success the Browns had last week against the Ravens. Chargers win


Eagles at Bears: Nick Foles came back and lead the eagles to the playoffs, giving them a chance to defend their title. (hypothetically, if the eagles win the super bowl again do the eagles trade Wentz? Because at that point it can’t be a coincidence that the team is performing better with Foles.) The Eagles defense is not the juggernaut it was last season when it carried them through the playoffs. Lead by my coach of the year pick, Matt Nagy and dominant preseason acquisition Khalil Mack, The Bears defense is tops in the NFC, no matter how you spin it. The Bears also have a complimentary offense that can run the ball with the best teams to wear out opponents, old school, smash-mouth football style. They also can throw the ball to good receivers and the swiss army knife Tarik Cohen, also Trey Burton is a good double pass tight-end/quarterback. Bears win.

Do I Really Have To?

Short and simple so I don’t put a hole in my computer out of frustration.

Belichick out thought himself. No sane human being would think Tannehill would throw a 70 yard bomb to the end-zone on a bad ankle. But Belichick put in the Hail Mary safety (Gronk, who took a beating this game) instead of using his best tackler (Devin McCourty). He also benched one of his better pass rushers, specially this game (Hightower). No blame on Gronk, it is ALL on Belichick.

McDaniels is still terrible at his job. The struggles in the red-zone are ridiculous.

Brady had a great game, the offensive line fell apart in the second half. Yes Brady did screw up the end of the first half but they should have scored a few plays ago (see McDaniels’s red-zone struggles) .

I supported and defend this defense all season and they gave me a big old screw you and played their worst game this season. Albeit Miami is a fast an athletic team but not being able to stop 50 year old frank Gore and a special teams player whose classified as a running back for roster placement reasons in Brandon Bolden is the epitome of pathetic.

At least Pittsburgh and Houston lost. Pittsburgh is beat up, so we need to go in with an edge and destroy them to prove that we are a competent team on the road with hopes to lock up a first round bye.

Patriots – Vikings Recap


Tom Brady

I have 2 things I need to say. First of all, Tom Brady is the greatest dual threat quarterback of all time, sorry Michael Vick (yes, I’m kidding for those not fluent in sarcasm). Second is very serious, Josh McDaniels needs to be fired, or take a job somewhere else in the offseason. We will touch upon this second point later.


In a day which featured a slow first half from the Pats offense the Pats still won 24-10. It went to halftime with the Pats up 10-7. The defense continued its hot streak and only allowed 10 points, 3 in the second half. The biggest winner of the game should definitely be fullback James Develin. He now has 3 rushing touchdowns on the goal-line, where the Pats have struggled mightily this season despite having the greatest QB sneak sneaker of all time in Tom Brady. He also blocked extremely well per usual, get this man to a second straight Pro Bowl.

pats vikings.jpg

The defense has been on a roll and there was no stopping them for the Vikings. Trey Flowers continued a great, and underrated season collecting another sack while providing the elite level pressure he has all season. They held Kirk Cousins to 201 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. The secondary locked up the big plays downfield which forced Cousins to settle for short gain passes where the Pats defense made the tackles to keep them short of first downs. Stephon Gilmore has continued his elite season as a top cornerback in this league. I haven’t been high on rookie cornerback J.C. Jackson in the past, but he played extremely well, breaking up multiple passes and tipping up a pass that was intercepted by the Pats closer, none other that Duron Harmon.


The Pats offense woke up in the second half and realized that the had receivers open down field. McDaniels finally realized that Josh Gordon was good and kept him on the field on third down. Gordon finished with 58 yards and a touchdown. He has been amazing since coming over from Cleveland and Brady trusts him more by the week. James White bounced back for 118 total yards on 13 touches. Burkhead returned to action and was a boost to the offense running on fresh legs and Cordarrelle Patterson had the catch of the night against his former team. Brady slightly underthrew him but he was able reach down and in front of him and catch it right before it hit the ground. For guy not known for his receiving ability he has been pretty good for the Pats.

Now I need to rant, Josh McDaniels has pissed off a lot of Pats fans, including this writer. He will run the ball on first and second down and sometimes end up in 3rd and long and draw up a pass play where the Pats can’t get a first down and they have to punt. You have Tom Brady against a banged up secondary or just a bad secondary, but you choose to run the ball on good defensive lines. On the goal line you can’t call a QB sneak, a toss to the outside or a creative pass play it’s always runs up the middle. We have great guards and tackles that can get outside to block run plays, Gronk is a dominant blocker but you run right to the strength of the opposing defense. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Brady adjusts passing plays at the line of scrimmage on the effective plays. I hope McDaniels takes the Cleveland or Green Bay head coaching job then maybe people will understand that Brady made McDaniels not the other way around.

pats steelers.jpg

Now the Pats are on to Miami, home to incredibly frustrating Dolphins – Patriots games. A game we should win but will probably be much closer than it should be. Then off to Pittsburgh for a pivotal matchup with the Steelers. After their loss to the Chargers the Patriots overtook the second seed in the AFC playoffs, in position for a first round bye. So a win against a possibly James Conner-less Steelers could seal up the second seed especially because the Pats beat the Texans week 1, giving them the tiebreaker in the event that they finish with the same record.


Patriots – Jets recap


Stop me if you’ve heard this one before; Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and company know how to bounce back from a loss. The Patriots bounced back from a rough loss before their bye week to beat the Jets 27-13.

However, before we get started, we have give the G.O.A.T. some credit. Brady set the all time passing yards record Sunday, combined between regular season and playoffs. Drew Brees is somewhat close to reaching Brady but he set a record nonetheless. He did it without stopping the game for a victory lap, getting a certificate or having his family on the field. If it was anyone else there would’ve been a 30 minute intermission for celebration and recognition but I digress.

Patriots Jets Football

The offense, and defense at times, looked sloppy in the first half. The Patriots as a team collected a season high in penalties accepted and penalty yards allowed in the first half alone. Penalties, on the offensive line especially called back big plays, most of them runs by Sony Michel. The defense gave up a long play or two and got little pressure in the first half as the game went into halftime tied at 10-10.

Then the Patriots showed up to play. Sony Michel would bounce back from a very painful looking injury, where a Jets player attempted to fold him in half on a tackle and post a career high in rushing yards with 133 and a touchdown. The defense was able to generate a lot of pressure in the second half and hold the Jets to three points. Tom Brady, to the shock of nobody not employed by ESPN or named Shannon Sharpe looked on point after the bye week. With time to rest up his throws looked strong and, for the most part, accurate. He missed a couple to Gronk on their signature down the seam route but there was great coverage on them. They did hit on one of those routes where Gronk made a great catch for a 34-yard touchdown.


The theme of the day for the Pats was the big play. The passing game was able to get guys open downfield as Tom looked to spread the ball around more creating mismatches and openings. The difference from this game to prior just that, Brady looked to pass to more than just Josh Gordon and James White. Hogan had a few long catches, Dorsett caught a few balls, Michel got involved with a few catches as well. As I predicted, having Gronk as helps. He draws coverage from the best player on the defense or double coverage and it creates opportunities for others. Such as how Edelman was left wide-open for his touchdown catch.

There were also big running plays as Michel and White Both had at least 1 run of 20+ yards. This was the first game since 2014 where the Patriots rushed for 200+ yards as a team. Anybody remember that game? I’ll give you a hint, it was against the Colts. Still can’t place it? Let’s give a holy throwback welcome to Jonas Gray who rushed for over 200 yards by himself, 201 to be exact, and 4 touchdowns in the 1st slaughter of the Colts on the Patriots run to winning Super Bowl 49. (He even got his own Sports Illustrated cover, as pictured below, because of one game, then he disappeared into irrelevance). (Also another shoutout to Corey Kluber who won the AL Cy Young, as seen on the cover, even though I think Felix Hernandez should’ve won it that year, but I digress again).


A decent game all around and a good tune up game for Gronk, Michel, the offensive line and others who were fighting injuries previously. With Minnesota coming to town this week and a regular season trip to Pittsburgh for the millionth straight year looming soon after, this was a good game to get back into sync for the Pats as they look to lock up a top seed in the AFC playoffs and get that first round bye.

Patriots Assessment at the Bye Week



Coming off an embarrassing blowout at the hands of the Tennessee Titans, the Patriots stand at 7-3 just having completed their bye week. Let’s see if the sky is falling like everyone else has been suggesting the last few years!

Quarterback: This Brady guy is pretty good, I wouldn’t doubt him, did you know he’s 41 by the way? While hasn’t been an MVP candidate like past years he is certainly better than what other teams have. H has been losing he feel for the deep throws but still has a pretty good arm. However, he remains an elite football mind, he is top tier at reading defenses and making the right decisions with his throws. He does have 7 interceptions but around 4-5 of those are on balls that where right in the hands of his receivers that they just missed and tipped into the air, then the opposing defense came down with it.

Offensive skills positions: I’m going to group receivers, running backs and tight ends for simplicities sake. Coming into the season this was considered a week group but to the surprise of very few people not named Max Kellerman and Rob Parker, things have changed. Coming back from a torn ACL and a questionable suspension for PED’s Julian Edelman has reclaimed his ore-injury form. Then in a trade that came somewhat surprisingly Belichick robbed the Browns of Josh Gordon for a 5th round pick and he’s been a great addition that will only get better with more games. Gronk has been hurt, the sky is blue, yada yada, but the Patriots need him. He undoubtedly makes this offense better whether he puts up big numbers or not. His presence changes how teams play this offense. The running backs have been a pleasant surprise. Sony Michel has come back from the minor knee surgery during the preseason and a knee injury in Chicago and played well, adding another layer and pass-run balance to this offense. James White is a man on a mission right now, he is a touchdown machine. One of, if not the best receiving backs in the league and a decent running back better outside and in space than between the tackles. He is continuing to improve after his epic Super Bowl 51 performance.

Offensive Line: up until the Titans game you likely haven’t heard much about them, and that’s good. The better they play the less you hear because they’re doing their job. A questionable at the time trade for the literal giant named Trent Brown has been an incredibly good one for the Patriots, the 6-foot 8 inch and 380-pound behemoth has played like a pro bowler all season after having questions about his pass blocking in San Francisco. Shaq Mason and Marcus Cannon continue to be tops at their position on the right side. Joe Thuney and captain David Andrews continues to improve at the left guard and center position respectively.


I am a strong believer that this defense is better than people will tell you, but we’ll get to that. (the picture above is irrelevant to this season, but I love it.)

Defensive Line and Linebackers: The defensive line anchored by the criminally underrated Trey Flowers has been much more aggressive than last years unit. While they may not have big sack numbers, they force a lot of passes to be thrown away or inaccurate. They do struggle with containing mobile quarterbacks. The linebackers were seen as the weakest spot coming into the year and that is somewhat still true. Rookie Ja’Whaun Bentley gave this core a boost to start the year but went down with injury. Dont’a Hightower has come back to form after a slow start in his return from injury, literally and figuratively. Kyle Van Noy has continued to be another great diamond in the rough find for Belichick. They do struggle in coverage at times with faster running backs and certain tight ends.

Defensive backs: One of the strongest groups on the team they have not disappointed. Outside of that Tennessee game, Stephon Gilmore has been a top 10 if not top 5 cornerback in this league. Veteran Jason McCourty has been a somewhat unexpectedly solid second corner, across from Gilmore. If the last name McCourty sounds familiar to you, congratulations! His twin Devin is a long time Patriots safety. He is part of a talented trio of safeties with Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon. With contributions from others this unit has been at the forefront of the Patriots turnover streak, with a turnover forced in 9 out of 10 games this season.

Special teams: Elite special teams play is a staple of Belichick coached teams, so to see special teams, aka Kickoff and punt coverage, struggle so badly is unheard of. This unit gives up the 3rd worst average starting place for opposing offenses, so basically opposing offenses start closer to the 50-yard line against the Patriots than almost anyone else. However, Stephen Gostkowski has been playing at an elite level once again, Ryan Allen seems to have gotten better distance on his punts this year pinning offenses closer to the 1-yard line if the coverage unit can tackle.


Coaching: I will personally buy offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and special teams coach Joe Judge tickets to Cleveland because they can go take the open jobs there. McDaniels play calling is getting increasingly questionable as he seems to call run plays at strange times and struggles to get the ball to his biggest weapons, except for James White maybe, in the red zone. Brian Flores (pictured above) has done an incredible job at changing the defensive culture and getting this group more aggressive, which has shown in better QB pressure and more turnovers. I am now firmly in the camp of Flores taking over this team after Belichick. Speaking of, Belichick is Belichick and I’m not going to doubt him. I’ve learned my lesson about doubting Boston/New England coaches from Alex Cora, Brad Stevens and Bill Belichick being all knowing humans.

What’s Wrong With the Celtics?


What in the name of Red Auerbach is wrong with the Boston Celtics? The preseason favorites to win the Eastern Conference have gotten off to an inconsistent start now sitting at 7-6, 6th place in the East. There’s still plenty of time to turn it around but something needs to happen soon to prove that they are still among the elite teams.

The return of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward: This isn’t necessarily anybody’s fault but eventually this team needs to mesh together, or someone will get traded. Kyrie has regained his pre-injury, all-star caliber form recently. Gordon Hayward just started playing regular 5 on 5 basketball in September after basically never playing with his Celtics teammates. He is starting to shake off the rust and trust his ankle more, which is good. Eventually however, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown specifically need to settle in and play in unison with Kyrie and Hayward. They occasionally make to many extra passes and put themselves in position to settle for bad shots. With more practices and games with each other this problem should fix itself but if it doesn’t expect someone, most likely Jaylen Brown or maybe Terry Rozier to be traded to shake up Brad Steven’s rotations.

Can’t hit a wide-open shot: Many Celtics offensive possessions are resulting in shots that are basically as open as playing by yourself, but they continuously miss them. Classifying wide open shots as no defenders within a 4-5 foot radius the Celtics are tops in the NBA with about 40% of their shots being this open but they are towards the bottom in making them. Marcus Morris is all around (for 2 pointers and 3 pointers) the Celtics only player making an acceptable amount of these shots. This is nothing Brad Stevens can fix; the players have proven they can make these shots and hopefully eventually this is a collective slump and the will bounce back into form.

Clutch Defense: Despite having the best defensive rating in the NBA the Celtics are among the worst clutch time defensive teams in the league. They are 5-6 in close games this season allowing their opponents to shoot 50% from the field and 42% from 3-point range. They will dig themselves into a hole early on with a lack of offense but good defense then storm back with good defense and offense and finish with good offense and poor defense. This just seems like a lack of effort on the Celtics end for not finishing out games.

There is still time to fix all these issues and they are showing signs of breaking through but the need a couple statement games in a row to prove that they are still the same team people expected them to be. Whether it be starting to shoot better then the late defense comes next or vice versa but something needs to step up first to prove that the Celtics won’t lie down and accept that they aren’t good right now.

2018 MLB Award Predictions


It is MLB’s Oscars season, best director candidates such as Alex Cora and Craig Counsell, best actor candidates featuring perennial candidate Mike Trout and first timer Javier Baez. I am officially all out of Oscars metaphors to use so let’s get to the analysis.

AL Manager of the year: Alex Cora deserves recognition leading the Red Sox to a franchise record in wins, but he will not win this award because the voters do not take playoffs into consideration where Alex Cora could do no wrong. Kevin Cash took a subpar team with low expectations and made them a playoff contender. I do wonder how much of the bullpen game strategy can be attributed to him and how much can be considered to the analytics department. He is a great in game manager but not really standout. I think Bob Melvin wins this award, he took a subpar team into the playoffs despite multiple pitching injuries. An offense that didn’t seem like anything impressive before the season was able to produce runs and hit home runs. They were fighting with the Astros down the stretch for first place something that the Rays weren’t doing.             1. Melvin 2. Cora 3. Cash

NL Manager of the Year: Craig Counsell lead the Brewers to an NL central title over the heavy favorite, reigning division winners, the Chicago Cubs. Another team lead by a strong bullpen and a dominant offense. The additions of Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich (more coming on him) helped this team reach that next level. Bud Black took the Rockies to the playoffs in back to back seasons, despite losing the division in game 163 they took a wildcard spot. Playing in a tough environment for pitchers and a favorable one for hitters the Rockies were a team that beat out teams that were more favored to make the playoffs. What Brian Snitker did with the Braves however, locks up this award for him in my opinion. He turned a young Braves team that was viewed as being a couple years away from serious contention into NL east champions. They were able to dethrone the virtual locks to win the division again, the Washington Nationals. They were able to revive Anibal Sanchez’s career while bringing young pitchers to the next step, they were led by Freddie Freeman, rookie Ronald Acuna Jr, sophomore Ozzie Albies and a reborn Nick Markakis.                                                                                                            1. Snitker 2. Counsell 3. Black

AL Rookie of the Year: The Yankees youth movement continues as rookies Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar showed up big for the Yankees this year. Then “the Japanese Babe Ruth” in Anaheim, Shohei Ohtani, showed why he was such a highly touted free agent. The two favorites are Andujar and Ohtani. Torres was solid most of the year, but time missed from injuries and then slumps when he came back from those injuries settles him in third place. Ohtani was a solid pitcher when he pitched and a good hitter when he hit. If he had the same amount of plate appearances as Andujar he would’ve put up the same or better numbers in just about every category. While pitching well in limited action. Andujar’s downfall will be his lack of defense. He was not a good fielder this year and being so one dimensional this year will cause his downfall.                              1. Ohtani 2. Andujar 3. Torres

NL Rookie of the Year: The race for NL Rookie of the Year is just as close as its AL counterpart. Walker Buehler was a phenomenal rookie pitcher for the Dodgers but is a comfortable pick for third place, he pitched in big games for the Dodgers and delivered with a good fastball and solid breaking pitches and if he can adapt to teams that know how he pitches and still be good he can have a great career. Juan Soto and Ronald Acuna are the top to in this race. To be as young as Acuna and Soto and hit as well as they did is incredible, and they are both special talents. This means that their offensive numbers just about cancel each other’s out. Acuna was more of a threat on the base path and a better fielder, so I think that’ll give Acuna the edge.                                                                   1. Acuna 2. Soto 3. Buehler

NL Cy Young: Every award is a tight race, but this may be one of the more obvious ones. While Aaron Nola put together a big season for the Phillies as they contended for a good portion of the season the other two guys were so good that they established themselves as the two real contenders. Max Scherzer put up a 300-strikeout season for only the third time this century, the other two belonging to Chris Sale last year and Clayton Kershaw in 2015. He also led the NL in innings pitched and won 18 games even though that’s a very flawed measure of pitcher success. It’s a flawed measure because of Jacob DeGrom’s season, my clear-cut winner. He didn’t have double digit wins because the Mets were terrible and failed to score him more than 1-2 runs for most of his starts, and in some of them he even had to plate the runs for himself. He led the world ERA with a minuscule 1.70, the lowest among qualified starters since Zack Greinke’s 1.66 in 2015. He displayed pure dominance all season and deserves this award.                                                                 1. DeGrom 2. Scherzer 3. Nola

AL Cy Young: Corey Kluber had another solid year but hit a sizable slump in the middle of it with knee problems that basically takes him out of contention for first place. Justin Verlander continued his regained dominance since going to Houston last season. Leading the AL in strikeouts for a record setting Houston pitching staff. Then out of nowhere came the dominant season of Blake Snell. In a division full of stadiums that inflate offensive stats and home to two juggernauts of the AL, the Yankees and Red Sox, Snell put up a phenomenal season. Leading the AL in ERA, as one of they only mainstays in a fluid Tampa Bay pitching rotation. He dominated Boston, New York and just about any great offense he faced all year and has earned this award.                                                       1. Snell 2. Verlander 3. Kluber

NL Most Valuable Player: A Rawlings platinum glove award winner and a guy who hit .298 with 38 homers will probably finish 3rd for this award, sorry Arenado. Despite phenomenal play at third base and being one of the only consistent/healthy hitters for the Rockies this year some other guys put up monster numbers. Another defensive wizard and finalist by the name of Javy Baez really busted out this year. Facing criticism for his approach at the plate, he changed nothing and came back this year and put up a monster season. Hitting .290 with 34 homers for a Cubs team who also had injuries and inconsistent offensive performance, Baez also played phenomenal defense all over the field and stole 21 bases. But oh my goodness, did Christian Yelich set the NL on fire. While he was known as a good hitter and fielder in Miami, but he became an all-around force in Milwaukee. He won the NL batting title while hitting 36 homers and stealing 22 bases while playing above average defense at all three outfield spots for the NL Central champion Brewers. He also hit for 2 cycles this year.                                                                 1. Yelich 2. Baez 3. Arenado

AL Most Valuable Player: Why Jose Ramirez will finish third is beyond me. He had a great year with 39 homers and 34 stolen bases for the AL Central champion Indians but had a really rough September and most of August. I would have given Bregman third place for carrying an injury riddled Houston offense for a good chunk of the season but that’s just me. Then there is Mike Trout. The guy is a one in a lifetime talent and is establishing himself as one of the all-time greats already but a season with some injuries and inflated on base percentage related numbers will be his downfall, despite hitting .312 with 39 homers and 24 stolen bases. The problem is that on a team as bad as the Angels Mike Trout can get intentionally walked and it won’t hurt the other team most of the time. The hitters around him aren’t good enough or consistent enough to be able to be consistently relied on so team will take their chances with that hitter and Mike trout on base rather than nobody on base and Mike Trout batting that’s why some of his numbers are inflated. Mookie Betts set the Al on fire after a somewhat subpar 2017 season. Alex Cora stuck with his plan to keep Mookie hitting leadoff, unlike John Farrell, and it payed dividends for Mookie and the Sox. He’s an elite defender in arguably the hardest right field to play in the league. He won the AL batting title hitting .346 with 32 homers and 30 stolen bases, the first Red Sox 30-30 season since Ellsbury in 2011 and, along with Jose Ramirez, the first one in the AL since 2012, Mike Trout’s first full season. 1. Betts 2. Trout 3. Ramirez