Month: December 2013
We are finally here ladies and gentlemen! It’s time for the NFL playoffs. I’ll start with the NFC Wild Card games.
(3) Philadelphia Eagles; 10-6 vs. (6) New Orleans Saints; 11-5
The division winner Eagles have been a lot of fun to watch this year. Philly started 1-3 and ended up winning 7 out of there last 8 games including there Week 17 match-up with Dallas for the Division. Winning 6 more games then last year, was due, in large part to all the personal changes for Philly all over the field. Head Coach Chip Kelly brought his system from Oregon to the pro’s and found a QB, 2nd year man Nick Foles who fit the scheme perfectly. Foles sets NFL record for best TD-INT ratio in single season; 27 TD’s to 2 INT’s. This game will, presumably, be about the offenses. The Eagles were second in the NFL in Yards per game, while New Orleans was fourth. Philly was first in total rushing yards while New Orleans was second, only behind the record breaking Broncos, in passing yards. The Eagles also finished fourth in total points while the Saints finished tenth. Drew Brees had his fourth 5,000 yard passing season, nobody else has ever had more than one. One significant difference between the 2 high powered teams recognized for the offenses, the Saints have played very good defense this season. They gave up the fourth fewest points in the league (304) and fourth in opponents total yards per game (305.7) vice-versa too the Eagles who gave up the fourth most opponents total yards per game (392.7). Have I forgot to mention LeSean ‘Shady’ McCoy was the league leader in rushing yards, had over 2,000 total yards from scrimmage and set the Philly record for yards from scrimmage? Well then, there’s that.
This is going to be a tough matchup with a lot of different dynamics going into it. Two of the best offensive minded Head Coaches in football squaring up, one of the best pass defenses in football against the best running game the NFL had to offer this year, a new QB on the block who had a 7 TD game earlier in the season versus one who’s never won a road playoff game but has a Super Bowl ring. Who knows what the weather in Philly is going to be and if it’s snowy, I think the game will be won in the trenches and who can run the ball the best.
One thing to note – Philly (4-4 at home) / New Orleans (3-5 on the road)
Pick: Philadelphia Eagles
(4) Green Bay Packers; 8-7-1 vs. (5) San Francisco 49ers; 12-4
Oh boy, another great Wild Card matchup we have on our hands. All the more intriguing now that arguably the games best QB is back, healthy, and winning games on 4th downs to win a division. That would be the bad man himself, Aaron Rodgers, who just so happened to convert three 4th down conversions on the final drive of the game, avoid an all out blitz on the final offensive play for Green Bay and find Randall Cobb deep down field for a Touchdown, yeah that Aaron Rodgers. But he’s not the only one playing in this game. Green Bay’s offense, along with San Francisco’s are both almost back to full strength. Both teams missing guys to IR; Finley for GB and Manningham for SF but the last few weeks have been weeks that both teams have gotten healthy. Green Bay, most notably, Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb and for San Fran Michael Crabtree just adding to the 49ers passing attack. The 49ers defense was stout, once again this season finishing giving up the third least points (272); one of only THREE teams who gave up less than 300 points all season, and the fourth least yards per game (316.9). San Fran’s defense was also second in the entire league in giveaway/takeaway’s with a take-away difference of 14. In contrast, the Packers defense is a liability. They’re in the bottom half of the whole league in most major defensive categories. The Packers don’t really turn the ball over that much either on defense so there game plan is really heavily relied on there offense.
The key to this game in my honest opinion, is Number 7 in red, Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers ranked 30th in Passing yards per game at 183 per game and Kaep completed an average 58% of his throws this season. Granted, Colin is going into the playoffs playing solid football. He hasn’t turned the ball over in his last three games (6 TD’s, 1 rushing) has completed over 60% of his passes in all 3 of those games and has a QB Rating of 108 or higher in all three. Last year, postseason included, Colin played some great football, which we all thought would translate into this regular season, but he’s been nothing that flashy as all the media expected him to be. For Green Bay, they need a healthy Eddie Lacy. Lacy has been a beast, more than likely to win the Rookie of the Year, and would only help Aaron Rodgers if Eddie was eating good. The site will be Lambeau field and I do not believe the Packers fans will leave unhappy.
Pick: Green Bay Packers
We had SIX participants in this weeks addition of NBA roundtable Discussion;
Most Surprising team so far? Why?
LegacySportTalk – Timberwolves. Kevin Martin has been playing exceptionally well and Kevin Love is playing all star basketball like he’s supposed to be.
15LMN – I would say Brooklyn, but I am going to shock some people and say the Warriors. If the playoffs started today, the Warriors would be on the outside looking in. Early, yes, but 9-8 for a team that is top 10 in both PPG and opponents PPG is just confusing. They have the talent to be a top 3 team in the west and have a very good coach in my opinion. I know its too early to panic, but as a fan of the NBA I am hoping to see the Warriors deep in the playoffs because they can be a very fun team to watch.
I_Am_The_Hype – Pacers
NCSportsLegion – Phoenix Suns. If you would have told me a starting line up with Gerald Green, first year starting point guard Eric Bledsoe, and Miles Plumlee would be over .500 and would be averaging over 100 ppg I probably would have said you were crazy. I do not see them making the playoffs in the stacked western conference, but they have been the biggest surprise for me this season.
KevinPhantom – It has to be Portland right now. 13-3 start and starting as a 2 seed in the very challenging West is something I did not see coming. Aldridge and Lillard were the two guys coming in that we knew could play with the top players in the league, but they finally have depth. Wesley Matthews has been playing out of his mind at a 19.7 PER (according to ESPN)- which is only 0.5 behind Aldridge for best on the team. Batum has been very solid. They finally have a bench in Mo Williams, Dorell Wright, and FINALLY Thomas Robinson. I just love that team right now. I do think eventually they will fall off a bit as the year progresses, but I believe we are seeing playoff basketball in Portland.
Therealgrande – Portland Trailblazers. There Core 4 of starters ( Aldridge, Lillard, Matthews, Batum ) are one of the best in the league, but the additions to the bench have made them a legitimate contender in the West.
You have the #1 pick in the draft, who are you taking and why?
Legacy – Jabari Parker. Probably the most complete in this draft, and I’ll take him over Wiggins until he finds that jumper.
15LMN – Jabari Parker. He reminds me of a mixture between Melo and Pierce.Parker can shoot it better than any college prospect and he will only get stronger and better defensively as time goes on. Wiggins may have more potential, but not everyone always maxes out there potential. Back to Parker, I think him and Smart are the most NBA ready prospects right now.
I_Am_The_Hype – Marcus Smart
NC- Wiggins, Randle, and Parker are all special players. Marcus Smart is also a player having a great year but with the first pick i’m taking Jabari Parker. Something about Coach K just makes players better and has put out NBA players year after year (Kyrie Irving, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, etc.). All of those players have had success and I see the same coming from Parker when he reaches the NBA.
KevinPhantom – Jabari Parker. I don’t think you can really go wrong with either Wiggins, Parker, or Randle (hell even Aaron Gordon out of Arizona/Marcus Smart out of OK State could probably be a #1 pick had he been in last year’s draft), but I think Parker may be the most complete player of the Big 3. He strikes me as a guy who can post 20-10 (points and rebounds) nightly in the NBA. I just love the way he plays.
Therealgrande – I can’t see myself passing on a talent like Andrew Wiggins; athleticism unmatched around college basketball.
Right now Michael Carter-Williams and Victor Oladipo are the only 2 rookies in the rookie of the year discussion. Do you see another rookie emerging into this discussion and potentially winning rookie of the year?
LegacySportsTalk – I don’t see another rookie coming into play for ROTY this year. Oladipo and MCW are exceeding expectations this year, and I predict MCW to win it by a decent margin.
15LMN – Trey Burke. He is coming off an injury and I really expect him to be neck and neck with those 2 in the ROTY discussion.Although his shooting % is 33% right now through 4 games, I expect that number will only rise. The minutes will be there for him in Utah, and I expect him to take full advantage of it this year to grow as a player and as a leader.
I_Am_The_Hype – Trey Burke
NCSportsLegion – I’m going to go out on a limb and say Tim Hardaway could sneak into the discussion. The Knick’s seem to have interest in trading Iman Shumpert and if that happens it will open up more minutes for Hardaway. Either way I see Hardaway getting more minutes over the season and eventually starting to put up rookie of the year type numbers and since he is a New York Knick, whenever he gets hot, the media will make sure everybody knows.
KevinPhantom – To be honest, I think no other rookie really has a shot outside of those two. No other rookie looks strong in my eyes and frankly this has been one of the worst starts for a draft class in recent memory. However, if I have to choose another rookie, I’ll go with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope since lately he has shown some progress and there is a chance he could stick in the lineup. I do see some potential for him this season.
Therealgrande – Trey Burke. Trey is now back from injury and has a chance to be the star PG in Utah. Himself, along with Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors are the 3 faces of that franchise.
Best team in the Western Conference? Why?
LegacySportsTalk – Tough one. I’m torn between the Thunder and Spurs, but I’m going to go with the more consistent team and say the Spurs are the best.
15LMN – San Antonio Spurs. Spurs are off to a 14-3 start and return the same team as last year with a quality pick up of Marco Bellinelli.As of now, I dont see how you can put any team ahead of them in the WC.
I_Am_The_Hype – L.A Clippers
NCSportsLegion – San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs are 14-3 and as usual nobody is talking about them. The Spurs are 14-2 this year not because of Tim Duncan or Manu Ginobili, it’s because of their outstanding point guard Tony Parker who is shooting 53% . But what’s scary is, is that they aren’t playing their best. Tim Duncan is shooting a career low 39% and Kawhi Leonard is only averaging 12 ppg. Watch out Western Conference, the Spurs haven’t played their best basketball yet.
Kevinphantom – I really don’t want to go with the obvious here, but I think it is the San Antonio Spurs. Can we all stop doubting this team? This team can be collectively in a retirement home and they can still hang with the best NBA Teams. They have a great starting lineup, a deep bench, and players who have been giant surprises this year (i.e. Splitter and Leonard). I won’t disrespect the Thunder or the Blazers or the Rockets as they all have legitimate cases, but right now it has to be San Antonio.
Therealgrande – The San Antonio Spurs as of now. Them and Indiana both are +10.9 point differential but they score 4 more PPG than the Pacers. The best Coach in the game has kept everyone fresh; 8 guys play between 20-30 MPG, 11 play at least 11.5 MPG.
Best team in the East outside of the Heat and Pacers?
LegacySportsTalk – When healthy, Bulls. As of now I don’t really see a team stand out in the East other than Indy and Miami.
15LMN – Chicago Bulls(If they don’t decide to clear out Deng and Boozer) Although they are missing some key bench pieces from last year, I still think the Bulls are a top 3 or 4 team in this WEAK Eastern Conference. Obviously the loss of Rose is devastating, but Thibodeau is a great coach and has the “next man up” mentality. I expect Deng and Butler to really step up offensively while Boozer does what he does on a nightly basis. Lets be honest though, this is clearly just a two team race in the East right now.
I_Am_The_Hype – Bulls
NCSportsLegion – I guess i’ll go with the Atlanta Hawks. No other team has impressed me and I would have been more confident saying Atlanta if they haven’t lost four of their last five games. Teague has been good, Horford has been good, Korver keeps making threes(when healthy), and Millsap was a really good pick up. I do see Detroit or Cleveland potentially bouncing back and getting into the discussion at some point.
KevinPhantom – Oh god… the East is just full of mediocrity outside of those two. I wish I could choose no team, but that’s not the way the question went. Honestly, since I really don’t buy Atlanta at all and since Chicago lost D-Rose, I know I’ll lose my credibility here but give me Charlotte. Okay this team finally is showing talent. Kemba Walker is just a workhorse, Henderson is showing signs of improvement, and Jefferson is back and healthy. I think if MKG can heat up with those three players, they can do just fine in the East this year (which doing just fine is playing .500 in that conference). Will they keep it up? It’s unlikely; but I think right now, being 8-9 (which is shocking to me), they are my top team outside of Miami/Indiana.
Therealgrande – With Derrick Rose out for the season, this question got a lot more difficult. The Bulls are 5-0 at home, but 2-7 on the road. The leader of the Atlantic is 6-8 ( Raptors) so I’ll take the Washington Wizards, as of right now. They’ve won 3 straight in which John Wall has averaged 33 PPG and Real Deal Beal is scoring at 20 a night clip.
Thoughts on the Kings-Timberwolves Trade involving former #2 pick Derrick Williams?
LegacySportsTalk – Absolute terrible trade for the T-Wolves. Williams has tremendous potential in my eyes, and trading him for ONLY M’Bah A Moute is awful.
15LMN – None
I_Am_The_Hype – I think the Kings won the trade. At the end of the day, Williams has a higher ceiling than Luc Richard and he is a nice compliment to D. Cousins.
NCSportsLegion – I think it works out well for both teams. It’s been no secret that the Timberwolves do not have a place for Williams in the rotation and it’s also not a secret that the T-Wolves need help on defense as the are giving up over 100 ppg. I hope Derrick Williams gets some more playing time in Sacramento.
KevinPhantom – Derrick Williams really has not been that great for the T-Wolves at all. I think with the talent the T-Wolves finally have, they did not necessarily need him. I think had he stayed in Minnesota, he would have found his way out of the rotation to be honest. A change of scenery would maybe help him in Sacramento, where he could maybe see regular minutes. I don’t think there is a winner or a loser of the deal yet since neither one is that great of an NBA player, but Williams could maybe turn it around in Sacramento.
Therealgrande – I’ve been a fan of the way Derrick could stretch the floor and still be presence in the post. He hasn’t gotten that big of a chance, but I’d like to see him complimenting Boogie Cousins. Could open the floor for Boogie, Isiah, McLemore etc. Luc Richard is a very solid defensive stopper, something the T-Wolves could use, a trade both teams will benefit from.
Which New York team turns it around and ends the season with the better record; Brooklyn or the Knicks?
LegacySportsTalk – New York Knicks. The Knicks have a fairly easy schedule and can go on a 10+ game winning streak. Chandler is coming back, and I see the Knicks finding the same chemistry they had last year.
15LMN – Brooklyn. Too much talent in that starting lineup to not get better. Plus, Brooklyn is dealing with some injuries right now and once they get in a decent rhythm, I think they will be much better than the Knicks. As for the Knicks, ever since Melo said what he said about him being a free agent last year, I feel like this team just doesn’t have it in them this year and Melo knows it. I don’t see them being a top 6 seed in the East and wouldn’t be surprised to see them miss the playoffs especially if they decide to cut ties with Melo.
I_Am_The_Hype – Brooklyn will end the season with a better record than the Knicks.
NCSportsLegion – I see Brooklyn finishing the season ahead of the Knicks. Both teams have had injuries but when you lose a point guard as important as Deron Williams is to this team, it is hard to win games. Brooklyn is built for the playoffs and I see them getting there, as well as the Knicks, in this weak Eastern Conference.
KevinPhantom – Knicks have the better shot. I think they are just more talented than the Nets still. They still have Melo and Smith, who led the Knicks last season, and Bargnani is posting a 17.2 PER (which is not that bad). Amar’e must stay healthy though if they have a shot plus they have to get more out of Felton and Shumpert. Those two are not giving them much right now. Also, around mid-December they will get Tyson Chandler back who can help down low. I think they can come back and make it interesting in the Atlantic.
Therealgrande – Both teams have key players injured; NYK ( Tyson Chandler) BK ( Deron Williams & Brook Lopez ). I think both will turn it around, I chose the Knicks preseason and I will stick with that prediction as of now.
Who is your top 3 in the MVP race so far this season?
LegacySportsTalk – 1) LeBron 2) CP3 3) Durant. Typical
15LMN – 1) Chris Paul 2) LeBron James 3) Kevin Durant
I_Am_The_Hype – 1) LeBron 2) Paul George 3) Chris Paul
NCSportsLegion – 1) Kevin Love 2) Chris Paul 3) LeBron James
KevinPhantom – 1. Paul George. George has meant so much to Indiana so far and he has been the big reason why they are off to such a blazing start. I think what he has done, he may be slightly ahead of LeBron.
2. LeBron James. Still the best player in the league. Just have him a notch behind George. LBJ speaks for himself. Man is still the best.
3. Kevin Love. Sure I’ll shoot Love some love (HA!). He has been such a difference maker to the Timberwolves and I think he’ll finally stay healthy for a full season and become one of the game’s elite.
Therealgrande- 1) Chris Paul 2) LeBron James 3) Paul George / Kevin Love
What Off-Season move is not looking so good?
LegacySportsTalk – Cavs taking Bennett with #1 wasn’t a bad pick at the time, but it’s bad now. I also thought Jarret Jack would explode in Cleveland, which ended up not happening so far.
15LMN – The Knicks trading for Bargnani. The Knicks acquired Bargnani who is a a one dimensional player who doesn’t really add miuch to the Knicks. Not to mention they egave future draft picks for him lol.I believe at one point the Raptors were thinking about amnestying him. Then the Knicks come in and offer draft picks for him. Donkey of the year goes to the Knicks.
I_Am_The_Hype – This definitely goes to the Cavs with Bennet. But I only say this now. I think in the end he will be a very solid player. But right now, he is a horrible pick.
NCSportsLegion – The Cavs not taking Victor Oladipo. Irving/Waiters has not been a winning formula and the Cavs are just bad on defense. Irving/Oladipo could have been something that could have worked with Waiters coming off the bench. Bennett putting up numbers that would make Kwame Brown himself shake his head isn’t helping the Cavs or their fanbase believe in the #1 overall pick right now.
KevinPhantom – The Nets trading for Pierce/Garnett. As a longtime Celtics fan, I knew they were going to show signs of age and not be what they once were. However, I did not expect them to be this non-existent. The Nets as a whole just look awful and they traded quite a bit to get these two players. Given what they gave up and how bad the results are thus far, this could be one of the biggest blunders of the offseason.
Therealgrande – Paul Pierce & Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn