Yesterday I told you all about the Eastern Conference and how I feel their divisions will pan out. Now I am going to talk about the Western Conference and all of its glory. I am so stoked that the season starts tonight with three NBA games for opening night; Wizards vs Cavs (Are you serious, opening night?), Boston vs Miami (More like it!), Mavericks vs Lakers (I wish Dirk was healthy). With a crazy offseason, like the Eastern Conference, the Western Conference made a lot of moves and looks very different than a year ago. The obvious choice for the best team in the West is the newly formed Los Angeles Lakers, but after I have analyzed and gone over all of the teams, it do not think this Conference is so cut and dry…although I am picking the Lakers to have the best record in the West lol.
1st – Los Angeles Lakers (58-24)
As if having Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol wasn’t enough to make this a quality team, they went out and added one of the best point guards of all time, Steve Nash, and arguably the best big man in the game, Dwight Howard. Like the Yankees in Baseball, if this Lakers team does not at least make the NBA Finals, the season will be considered a bust. Lakers owner Jerry Buss had the best offseason out of any owner and he is clearly looking to get that elusive sixth ring on Kobe’s finger. Dwight has a lot to prove after royally screwing over the entire Orlando Magic franchise and there has already been talks of the Lakers becoming Dwight’s team when Kobe decides to hang up his shoes. While a Lakers/Heat Finals is not set in stone, I think it could go down as the best Finals ever.
2nd – Los Angeles Clippers (53-29)
It was great to see the Clippers take themselves out of the bottom of the division and not only make the playoffs last year, but show everyone they have a team that will continue to build for years to come. This season the Clippers have the return of a healthy Chauncey Billups, and with the acquisitions of veterans Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill and Lamar Odom, LA is in great shape to make some noise during the playoffs this year. They have the unfortunate pleasure of having their neighbors in the same division because if they didn’t, I feel they could have won the division easily. Blake Griffin has a lot to prove this year and I think he will. I think this year we could see the first ever LA vs LA Western Conference Finals, which could be almost as exciting as the Subway Series.
3rd – Phoenix Suns (41-41)
What will the Phoenix Suns do without Steve Nash? They will remain an average team with some nice young talent to build around. New starting Point Guard, Goran Dragic, is not a terrible player and he has some very nice supporting cast around him. Luis Scola, Marcin Gortat, and Michael Beasley make up one of the better scoring front courts in the West and the acquisition of Wesley Johnson from the Timberwolves will give Dragic a nice option on the wing. Sebastian Telfair and UNC Rookie Kendall Marshall will both share time backing up Dragic and I truly think that if Marshall can develop a respectable jump shot, then he can be a formidable PG in the NBA as he has some of the best court vision his former college coach, Roy Williams, has ever seen.
4th – Golden State Warriors (33-49)
After Mark Jackson’s rookie coaching campaign came to an end, his organization did everything they could to make life a little easier for him during his sophomore year. They got rid of hothead-ball hog Monte Ellis and brought in veterans Richard Jefferson and former #1 pick of the draft, Andrew Bogut. They also drafted Harrison Barnes out of UNC who has the potential to be a very productive part of this teams future. The main thing that the Warriors need to stay a competitive team this season is the their starting PG, Stephen Curry, to stay healthy all year long. Curry is not your prototypical NBA PG, so I think he will be sharing a lot of time playing with his back up, Jarrett Jack. The Warriors won’t win too much this year, but things look positive for the future.
5th – Sacramento Kings (27-55)
This team sucks! There is no easier way for me to say it. They have one of most talented Small Forwards in the West in Tyreke Evans, but outside of him they literally do not have one respectable starter on their roster. You would think that with Isiah Thomas playing the Point Guard that the Kings would be great. The only problem with that is their Isiah Thomas is the second year man out of Washington and not the Detroit Piston’s former Hall of Famer. Thomas Robinson out of Kansas has a lot of upside, but he has years before he will be a formidable asset for the Kings. This team has a lot of fixing up to do and I think it will start during the regular season with big trades coming from Sacramento involving DeMarcus Cousins and even possibly Tyreke Evans.
1st – Memphis Grizzles (50-32)
The Memphis Grizzlies did a fantastic job of keeping the core of their team together after a very successful regular season where they finished with the third best record in the Western Conference. They lost OJ Mayo, but with what Tony Allen was able to prove last season, they should be more than comfortable with him at the shooting guard position. Rudy Gay looks healthy and ready to roll come the beginning of the season and I think that if he and fellow forward Zack Randolph remain healthy, then the Grizzlies will be able to compete with anyone in the league. Memphis’ starting Center, Marc Gasol, had a great season last year and after a hard fought Olympics, he looks ready to prove that he is the best Center in the West…behind Dwight of course.
2nd – San Antonio Spurs (48-34)
The San Antonio Spurs took everyone by surprise last season as they finished the season tied with the Chicago Bulls for the best record in the NBA. Most impressively, the Spurs went an astonishing 31-11 against teams with a record above .500. Like the Grizzlies, the Spurs were able to keep majority of their team together which means to me that this will be coach Popovich’s final push to win another Championship with the great Tim Duncan. One issue that this team might run into throughout the season is the same problem that the Knicks might face…injuries. This team is really old and they are already starting the season with Manu Ginobili on the bench with a hamstring problem. If the Spurs struggle early, look for their French rookie, Nando de Colo, to come in and get some minutes.
3rd – Dallas Mavericks (44-38)
If the Mavericks weren’t a perennially winning franchise over the past decade, then I would have ranked them with a much worse record. Their best player, Dirk Nowitzki, is out for at least the first 5 weeks of the season and they lost their former sixth man of the year, Jason Terry, to the Boston Celtics. Their starting Point Guard, Jason Kidd, went to the Knicks and their starting Center, Chris Kaman, has been plagued with injuries during the offseason. The biggest positive for Dallas is that they put together a new and talented back court consisting of former Hornets and Pacers PG, Darren Collison, and former Grizzlies SG, OJ Mayo. The Mavericks also brought in veteran Power Forward, Elton Brand, who will fill in while Dirk is out.
4th – Houston Rockets (34-48)
With Jeremy Lin as the new starting Point Guard of the Houston Rockets, they should have no trouble winning it all, right? But seriously…Lin is proving early on in the preseason that he might not be the star we all thought he could be. On top of Lin’s struggles, Houston’s front office has made some very dramatic noise less than a week before the regular season. They acquired the reigning sixth man of the year, James Harden, from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for the injury prone Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb. There were some other players involved in the trade, but no one of any real significance. If Lin can fix his early season struggles and Harden can find a way to fit in right away, the Rockets can have a team to recon within upcoming years…just not now.
5th – New Orleans Hornets (30-52)
Within three years I feel that this team can easily be on the top of this division because their offseason was a great start to the rebuilding phase for the franchise The #1 pick of the draft has so much upside that I honestly think he can be a triple-double threat on a nightly basis with his ability to pull in boards and block anything that comes his way. I will call it now; Anthony Davis will average the most Blocks per game this season. On top of getting Davis, The Hornets also drafted Doc Rivers son Austin Rivers, who can be a solid NBA player if he adds some meat to himself. He is a sharp shooter that demands a defender around the arc which should open up the paint area for Davis to dominate. The addition of Ryan Anderson from Orlando should be some nice help for the young rookies.
1st – Oklahoma City Thunder (55-27)
The defending Western Conference Champions are entering this season with a motivation to prove that last year was not a fluke. Kevin Durant is determined to win his first NBA MVP after already racking up 3 scoring championships. Just a week ago, the Thunder’s future had a huge alteration with the trade of James Harden to the Houston Rockets. While Jeremy Lamb has the potential to be very good and Kevin Martin is great but rarely healthy, the loss of Harden will be a tough one to get over. Having said that, Durant and his PIC, Russel Westbrook, are the second best duo in the NBA, Wade and James being the best. I am going out on a limb here by predicting that Serge Ibaka will be on the all-NBA first team defense this season.
2nd – Denver Nuggets (50-32)
The Denver Nuggets can be one of the surprise teams of the 2012-13 NBA season. Last year, the Nuggets rookie, Kenneth Faried, had a very impressive rookie season and is poised to follow it up by making himself a household name this year. With high flying Center, JaVale McGee, having a full offseason and preseason with the Nuggets he should be able to fit into George Carl’s system like a glove. Denver also acquired Andre Iguodala from the 76ers, which should add some much needed defense to a team that focuses mainly on offense. With Ty Lawson and Andre Miller splitting time at the point and Danilo Gallinari looking to finally get through a season without an injury, I think the Nuggets can compete with the best in the West. Wilson Chandler is back from China, so that should help some as well.
3rd – Minnesota Timberwolves (41-41)
If the Timberwolves are ever going to have a playoff team again, this is it. Kevin Love is one of the best players in the NBA and will average 20+ PPG and 15+ RPG. Minnesota went out and brought in Brandon Roy from the Blazers and with Roy’s veteran leadership I think they have enough pieces to make it in as the eighth seed in the West. They also acquired Andrei Kirilenko and if he and sophomore Ricky Rubio can both stay healthy, then the Wolves have formidable players in 4 out of the 5 starting positions. Their Center, Nikola Pekovic, was a huge surprise for the Wolves last year as he averaged 14 PPG and 8 RPG. If he can keep those same numbers up this year and Russian Rookie, Alexey Shved, can develop a consistent shooting game, then the Wolves will stop being laughed at.
4th – Utah Jazz (33-49)
The days of John Stockton and Karl Malone are far gone and the Utah Jazz are on the steady decline towards NBA obscurity. Their head coach, Tyrone Corbin, has a lot of fixing to do in his first full season leading the Jazz. Paul Millsap is coming off of back-to-back amazing seasons and with the Jazz picking up Small Forward, Marvin Williams, from the Atlanta Hawks, Millsap will be able to find some more openings down low. The Jazz picked up Mo Williams from the Los Angeles Clippers and he should be able to cause some problems for defenses but he is definitely not a traditional PG. The Jazzes biggest weakness is their SG position, where Gordon Heyward takes the starting spot and shouldn’t be anywhere near an NBA court.
5th – Portland Trailblazers (29-53)
While I think that Anthony Davis of the Hornets will take home the NBA’s ROY trophy, I feel that the Trailblazers Damian Lillard, will give him a run for his money. Not many people know about Lillard, as he went to Weber State, but he will be the starting PG for Portland this year and through the preseason he has shown signs of brilliance. Pair Lillard with Lamarcus Aldridge and you have a couple of key pieces to a team with a good future. Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews are very talented shooters and can help Portland run up the score board. Their biggest problems come on the defensive end where they will not stop anyone. The Trailblazers did acquire Jared Jeffries so maybe they will at least draw an offensive foul or two a game.
That is how I feel the NBA’s Western Conference will pan out and I would love it if you told us how you think the season will go and whether or not you agree with us.
Entering October last year, we all didn’t know whether or not there would be an NBA season to watch. After contract negotiations between the players union and owners, an agreement was reached that let play resume on Christmas Day. Even though the regularly 82-game season was shrunk down to 66 and the schedules were so condensed that teams had back-to-back-to-back games, the season was super exciting to say the least. Yes, the hated Miami Heat took home the title and Lebron James began his quest to prove that he is at least comparable to the great Michael Jordan, but the season threw a whole lot at us that no one expected. I can not express how stoked I am about this upcoming full length season that we have ahead of us. Here is a quick synapses of how I feel each team in the Eastern Conference will fair and why. Look for the Western Conference preview tomorrow, if Hurricane Sandy let’s my power stay on.
1st – New York Knicks (53-29)
There is no more Linsanity and the scapegoat known as Mike D’Antoni is no longer with the Knicks which means that it is Carmelo’s time to put up or shut up. The Knicks brought in a plethora of veterans, some obviously washed up, to build a team that will not only fit Melo’s game, but even give him a slight chance at his first ever NBA Championship. Do I think this team is better than the Heat?…No! Do I think that this team is capable of competing with every team in the league?…Yes! Bringing Raymond Felton back should be able to bring the Amare back that we all saw at the beginning of the 2010 season. Having Jason Kidd there to mentor not only Ray but also the Knicks up and coming defensive phenom, Iman Shumpert, should help this team improve immensely.
2nd – Boston Celtics (50-32)
There is no denying that the loss of Ray Allen to their rival Miami Heat was a painful occurrence but what the Boston Celtics were able to do over the offseason was pretty spectacular. They brought in sharp shooting veteran, Jason Terry, and drafted two potentially very good big men, Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo. I am going to say this now before the season starts; Rajon Rondo will win the NBA MVP this year. Rondo’s stats over the past few seasons ranks up there with the greats like Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson. Adding Courtney Lee to an already powerful roster will only give Rondo more options for his sweet dimes. The Atlantic Division has been the laughing stock of the NBA for almost a decade now, but I think that will change this year.
3rd – Brooklyn Nets (44-38)
New city, new stadium, new players and most importantly, a new attitude. The team formerly known as the New Jersey Nets have moved to Brooklyn and are looking to pick up some of that Brooklyn swag. The biggest move for the Nets was the fact that they were able to resign Free Agent point guard, Deron Williams, to a maximum contract, ensuring that they have a player to build around for years to come. They also signed coveted Free Agent Joe Johnson from the Atlanta Hawks. The highly touted center, Brook Lopez, finally looks healthy and ready to help his team make a playoff run. Outside of sharp shooter, Marshon Brooks, and the inconsistent CJ Watson, I think the Nets will find a lot of trouble when their starters need some rest.
4th – Philadelphia 76ers (42-40)
Philadelphia was last years surprise team. They just squeaked into the playoffs and eliminated the injury plagued #1 seeded Chicago Bulls in the first round. The 76ers, like a lot of other teams, had an extremely busy offseason. They traded away fan favorite, Andre Iguodala, and lost Lou Williams to free agency. They brought in Andrew Bynum, Jason Richardson and Nick Young, to build around their core stars Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young. While the 76ers had a great Cinderella Story season last year, their division got a hell of a lot stronger and deeper. I feel that the addition of Andrew Bynum will make Philadelphia a good team for years to come but I just don’t think there will be too much success from this year.
5th – Toronto Raptors (33-49)
So the Toronto Raptors were 6-1 in the preseason and looked pretty damn good with some new faces on their roster. That being said, the preseason is the preseason and everyone and their mothers knows that the Raptors stand absolutely no chance in the Atlantic Division this year. It is fair to say that the Raptors are clearly a work in progress and they are hoping that their first round pick, Terrence Ross out of Washington (8th overall), pans out as a successful one. The Raptors signed one of my favorite Knicks, Landry Fields, in the offseason which will definitely help them defensively but since Landry plays the same position as Ross, I don’t think he will be getting as much playing time as his 3-year $20 million contract deserves. The Raptors also have a talented young PG in Kyle Lowry, who will be backed up by long time Raptor, Jose Calderon.
1st – Chicago Bulls (49-33)
The Chicago Bulls finished last season with the best record in the Eastern Conference. All things heading into the playoffs was looking good for the Bulls until they ran into the Philadelphia 76ers. A season ending injury to their star MVP, Derrick Rose, didn’t help much and now the Bulls are entering the season without Rose. I put them in first in the Central division for a few reasons. The main reason is that outside of the Pacers, the Central Division is relatively weak and the Bulls still have a solid roster even without Rose. Another reason is that the Bulls have an almost identical roster to what they had last year where they showed signs of brilliance even when Rose was bench-ridden. They did lose CJ Watson, but the addition of Nate Robinson and Nazr Mohammed can help their bench out tremendously.
2nd – Indiana Pacers (47-35)
Indiana is coming off of a very successful season where they proved that they can compete in the East. They finished third in the East and easy manhandled the Orlando Magic in the first round of the playoffs. The Pacers are an extremely young team as they only have one player over the age of 30, David West (32), who is arguably one of their best and most important players. Roy Hibbert is coming off of his best season as a professional and he has now made it known that he can compete with any Center the NBA has. The acquisition of DJ Augustin from the Charlotte Bobcats, gives the Pacers one of the best one-two punches at the Point Guard position in the NBA, George Hill being the other.
3rd – Milwaukee Bucks (40-42)
If there has ever been a time where an NBA team has been solely dependent on just two players, it is now. The Milwaukee Bucks have one of the most talented offensive back courts in the NBA, Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, who can take over any game they play. Though both of these players are nearly unstoppable on the offensive end, neither of these players have a shred of defensive abilities. These two players will receive absolutely no offensive help from the rest of their starters, Samuel Dalembert, Drew Gooden and Mike Dunleavy,and the Bucks really do not have any help coming from the bench. Milwaukee’s first round draft pick, John Henson out of North Carolina, is supposed to play a big part in the rebuilding phase for the franchise. .
4th – Cleveland Cavaliers (33-49)
Kyrie Irving, Kyrie Irving, Kyrie Irving! The only thing that the team with the third worst record in the NBA last season has to talk about is the sophomore year for their young superstar Kyrie Irving. Kyrie’s strike-shortened rookie year was nothing short of spectacular as he finished the season with ridiculous statistics. Irving averaged 18.5 PPG, 5.4 APG, 3.8 RPG, 1.1 SPG and .4 BPG last year and literally filled that stat sheet on a nightly basis. It is fair to say that the Cavs were absolutely woeful last year and while the future looks bright, they still have a lot of building and improvement to go. The addition of Tyler Zeller from UNC and a full offseason of training for second year man, Tristan Thompson, the Cavs are slowly putting together pieces to a quality team.
5th – Detroit Pistons (28-54)
Hey Detroit fans, if you think the Tigers loss in the World Series was tough, wait till you have to suffer through this NBA season. There is not much good I can talk about the Pistons as they really didn’t change anything from a year ago where they were one of the worst teams in the NBA. Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey make up one of the weakest back courts in the league and while Greg Monroe looked decent last year, I don’t think he has much potential. The one question mark for Detroit is with their first round pick, Andre Drummond out of UConn. I truly beleive that Drummond can be in the running for Rookie of the Year, but like Irving last season, his lack of support will mean an overall failure for the season.
South East Division
1st – Miami Heat (62-20)
The returning NBA Champions found a way to take a perfect team and make it even better. The addition of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis makes the Miami Heat a nearly unstoppable team. Lebron James is coming off of winning his third NBA MVP and now that he has a Championship under his belt, the comparisons to Michael Jordan are only getting more frequent. On top of having the best team in the NBA, I would say that the Heat play in the weakest division in the league. Even though Mario Chalmers had a decent year last season, I still feel that if Lebron wants to win 6 or more Championships, he will need a better and more consistent Point Guard. As any Sports Debaters readers know, I still hate Erik Spoelstra and feel he needs to be replaced as well.
2nd – Atlanta Hawks (49-33)
The Hawks fans had a sad offseason as they lost one of their franchises best ever players, Joe Johnson, to the newly minted Brooklyn Nets. They did pick up a quality veteran Point Guard from Utah, Devin Harris, a sharp shooting guard from the Nets, Anthony Morrow, and 3-point specialist from the Bulls, Kyle Korver. It feels as if the Atlanta Hawks make some noise every regular season and enter the playoffs as the 4 or 5 seed. Once in the playoffs they never seem to do much of any significance. With Johnson gone, Josh Smith will have to take the reigns as the teams vocal and veteran leader. Their terrible division should help them pick up some easy wins.
3rd – Washington Wizards (36-46)
The Washington Wizards have had a rough stretch over the past few seasons as they are consistently on the bottom of the league. John Wall has been a nice addition over the past couple of seasons and there seems to be an uplifted spirit around the team of late. That being said, the Wizards will not be a winning team this season, but with the addition of Nene, Emeka Okafor, and Trevor Ariza, as well as the drafting of Florida star Bradley Beal, the Wizards are on the right track to be a playoff team once again. The key to all of their successes is whether or not John Wall can stay healthy and be at the forefront of his team all year long. They still need to solidify their bench, but I think the Wizards can be a playoff team as early as next season.
4th – Orlando Magic (32-50)
You would think with all of the Dwight Howard drama behind them that the Orlando Magic would have a stable and functional team. It turns out that isn’t the case and the Magic have the unfortunate situation of looking forward to nothing positive for years to come. Jameer Nelson is back but without Howard he really doesn’t have his safety net anymore. Their starting Center this season is a second year man named Gustavo Ayon. If you just asked who, you are justified because no one knows who Ayon is. The Magic do not have any star power whatsoever and their bench is basically nonexistent, unless you count Al Harrington as a good player still. The only consolation prize that the Magic will take from this season is that at least they aren’t the Charlotte Bobcats.
5th – Charlotte Bobcats (25-57)
The Charlotte Bobcats are one of the most pathetic teams not only in basketball but all of sports. Charles Barkley has called out Michael Jordan and said that he is a terriboo owner. Jordan fired back with some curses and more. The problem is that Barkley is right and Jordan has done nothing positive for a franchise that is going farther and farther in the shitter. They got veteran 2 guard Ben Gordon, who will do nothing for a team filled with nobodies. They lost DJ Augustin and even though they drafted a talented prospect Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, they don’t have enough to win games. I predicted they would win 25 games based solely on believing that no team can be that bad, but we will see starting tomorrow.
That is how I feel the NBA’s Eastern Conference will pan out and I would love it if you told us how you think the season will go and whether or not you agree with us.
Congratulation to the San Francisco Giants are in order. They officially closed out the 2012 Major League Baseball season by beating the Detroit Tigers 4 games to love. A team that was doubted all year long, disrespected time and again, took us all by surprise and won the whole damn thing. Their unbelievable story goes a little bit like this…
In the regular season, the Giants played neck and neck with the Dodgers through August for the NL West crown. Both teams were carried by a solid rotation and timely hitting. In the process, the Giants certainly had their ups and downs. They had Melky Cabrera leading the league in hitting for the first half of the season, including single handedly dominating the All-Star game, subsequently clinching home field advantage for the Giants. Matt Cain was equally dominant, earning the starting spot for the NL All-Stars. Buster Posey bounced back from an injury shortened 2011 and returned to his All-Star level. At the same time though, Tim Lincecum, the 2 time former Cy Young Award winner greatly struggled all season long, losing several miles of the fastball and control of the strike zone. The before mentioned Melky Cabrera got caught with steroids, then caught attempting a cover-up and it looked like the wheels might fall of the Giants bus.
In late August, I wrote an article about the NL West race being tied and predicted that the Giants would find a way to close it out, though I wasn’t at all certain. The the Dodgers pulled off a blockbuster trade for the ages, adding Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford only weeks after adding Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino. My P.I.C. called the Dodgers the best team on paper, and the entire baseball world figured Los Angeles would easily overtake the Giants for the NL West. Obviously being the best on paper doesn’t equal success because the Dodgers went into a slide that handed the Giants the division. Heading into the playoffs, their were still question marks surrounding the Giants about how legitimate they really were.
We picked the Giants to lose their first round series against the Cincinnati Reds. We looked like geniuses as the Giants dropped the first two games at home. Because it was a Best of 5 Series, everyone assumed it was over the Giants. The Reds had three home games and only needed to win one to advance. Well, the Cincinnati crowds had three long awful days of spectating, as the Giants performed admirably with their backs to the walls. Former Giants and current Reds manager Dusty Baker choked in the playoffs again, but this time the San Francisco fans were on the receiving end.
Next came the NLCS, where we picked the defending Champion Cardinals to keep up their clutch play and beat the Giants in 7. Well, we looked like we had picked correctly again as the Cardinals took a 3-1 lead and like the Reds, only needed one more win to eliminate the Giants while San Francisco needed three. However, the Giants received a Game 5 victory from the beleaguered Barry Zito, the momentum in the series shifted and San Francisco ended up easily defeating the pesky Cardinals in Games 6 & 7.
Heading into the World Series, it was the same exact script. The Detroit Tigers blew up the New York Yankees in embarrassing fashion, had the best pitcher in Justin Verlander and best hitter Miguel Cabrera and nobody really thought the Giants would win the World Series. Once again, the Sports Debaters are guilty as charged as we picked the Tigers in 7. Heading into Game 1, Verlander took the mound against the before mentioned Zito, and everyone expected an easy 6-0 Tigers win. That’s when the Big Panda took control of the series. Well, after 3 HRs by Pablo Sandoval and 5.2 one-run innings from Zito, all the nonbelievers took notice of the Giants 8-3 by the bay. Still, some observers were not yet convinced…
The Giants kept the ball rolling in front of their home fans to take a commanding 2-0 lead, with a brilliant pitching performance by Maidson Bumgarner and enough offense from Hunter Pence. The Tigers bats were held to two hits, as they were shut out and slightly resembled the Yankees in the ALCS. The Tigers were a team that had struggled with the bats during various periods of the regular season and they couldn’t have picked a worse time to fall back into old habits. Doug Fister, even after taking a line drive off the head, gave them a huge chance to win throwing 6 innings and only allowing a single run. The Tigers offensive ineptitude and 2-0 hole changed everybody’s perception.
The Tigers travelled back to Detroit for what they hoped would be three games to change the momentum in the series. As we know, only two games were necessary. A second shutout was dealt to them, as the Giants were able to score 2 early runs, which was more than enough for an unbelievable effort by Ryan Vogelsong, the beleaguered Tim Lincecum and closer Sergio Romo. Lincecum resurrected his season and Giants legacy, coming out of the bullpen and looking like the Timmy of old. In last night’s Game 4, the Giants were finally able to throw out their ace Matt Cain, who kept the Giants in the game despite giving up a 2 run HR to Miguel Cabrera. With the game tied at 3 in the 10th inning, Marco Scutaro had a huge RBI single, Sergio Romo closed it out as easily and stress free as one can imagine, and the Giants celebrated all night long in front of the opposing fans.
The Giants faced elimination 6 times during the playoffs and never panicked. The formula of unbelievable pitching and timely hitting worked all season long, and it’s always a recipe for postseason success. The Giants captured their 2nd title as a San Francisco franchise and their 7th overall, as they had won 5 in New York. Congratulations to the players, the city of San Francisco and all the Giants fans from coast to coast! This team didn’t care if they received respect, didn’t care if people thought they were legit and didn’t care if they were picked to win any series. As the end of the day, they are the Champions and will be until this time next year, or potentially forever if this hurricane ends civilization as we know it!
If you survived last week’s “Hell Bye Week,” then you can breathe a sigh of relief as week 8 is a much more manageable one. Baltimore, Buffalo, Cincinnati and Houston are the only teams on bye week and unless you have Ray Rice, A.J. Green or Arian Foster, your team should be in just fine shape. There are some injuries this week that are shaking up a few fantasy rosters and with the midseason bump out of the way, teams that hope to be playoff bound have to make their pushes now. Here are 5 players for you Fantasy teams that I feel will help your roster improve before Sunday’s games.
There are a lot of Jets haters out there and I can completely understand why. That being said, Dustin Keller is back and healthy and he is without question Mark Sanchez’s #1 option in the passing attack. Last week, Keller was targeted 7 times and caught all 7 passes, accumulating 93 yards and a trip to the endzone. The Jets are facing a Miami Dolphins team that is talking a whole lot of shit, which is surprising because the Jets beat the Dolphins in one of the uglier games of the season in week 3. With back up tight end, Cumberland, out with an injury, Keller will see even more targets than normal. There will be a strong emphasis on the ground game which will open up some good play action looks for Keller down the field. I think that Dustin will have an even bigger game this week than last and there is no reason why he should be a Free Agent in anyone’s league from here on out. He is without question a top 10 TE in the NFL.
Predictions for week 8: 9 receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown
The Chicago Bears are quietly having a stellar season. The main reason that the Bears are 5-1 is because they have the highest scoring defense in the league and they seem to be able to shut down any team that they face. Another contributing factor to the Bears success is the amazing chemistry between the NFL’s 8th leading receiver, Brandon Marshall, and one of the worst QB’s in the NFL, Jay Cutler. This week the Bears have the luxury of facing off with the dismal Carolina Panthers. While the Bears offense does not put up too many points, this is surely a game where that can change. I think Marshall will draw a lot of double teams which should open up the field for a lot of his receiving buddies. I feel that Devin Hester will be the biggest beneficiary of the receivers on the Bears as he will have the ability to catch short screens or even quick slants and dominate the game with his YAC. Let’s not forget about his ability to take one to the house on any given punt return.
Predictions for week 8: 6 receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown, one kick return for a touchdown
Where has the Dancing With the Stars Champion been hiding this season? On the bench watching Aaron Rodgers tare up the league once again. But with Greg Jennings out for at least another week and Jordy Nelson questionable, Rodgers is going to have to look for other options in the passing game. The obvious first choice for him is going to be James Jones followed by Randall Cobb. The third option is the one that I feel will have his biggest and only good game of his season, Donald Driver. The truth of the matter is that the Packers are going to have a field day destroying the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars and I think Donald wants to prove he still has a little something left in the tank. I can see Driver and Rodgers connecting like the olden days for some impressive long yardage passes. A lot of people thought that Driver was retired as he has only had 4 catches for the entire season on the most pass friendly team in the league. All Driver has to do is pretend he is back in the ballroom and he will be able to move around all of the Jaguars secondary.
Predictions for week 8: 5 receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown
The surprise rookie out Abilene Christian has been catching the eyes of fantasy owners across the country. While at the beginning of the season you would have been thought to be crazy to say that someone would take touches away from Steven Jackson, Daryl has emerged as a true offensive threat. While he does not get that many touches on the ground, roughly 7-10 a game, he does get a lot of snaps in the backfield. Over the past two weeks, Richardson has shown glimpses of what he can do in the open field and now that the Rams have the advantage of facing off with one of the leagues worst passing defenses, the New England Patriots, they will try and find successes in their pass game. In his rookie year, Richardson is yet to find the endzone but I think that streak will end on Sunday. The game is being played in Wembley Stadium in London, England and while I feel the Pats will inevitably win the game, I think Richardson will make a name for himself on international turf.
Predictions for week 8: 8 carries for 55 yards and a touchdown, 5 receptions for 70 yards
This is the first time I have ever picked a player in back to back weeks, but after how accurate I was with last weeks predictions for Palmer, (Predictions: 24-46 for 320 yards and two TD’s, Actual: 26-46 for 298 yards and 2 TD’s), I had to go with him again. I am going with Palmer again mainly because he has the easy matchup against the team that I rank as the worst in the NFL, the Kansas City Chiefs. The Oakland Raiders are a terrible team in their own right and there really is no looking up for them any time soon, but Palmer has been throwing for nearly 300 yards every single game yet he is still a Free Agent in majority of fantasy leagues. One of the first sleepers I talked about in the 2012 season was Denarius Moore, who has emerged as one of the more reliable receivers in the league the past few weeks. With Heyward-Bay on one side and Moore on the other, Palmer has good options to look for and will have a pretty successful season regardless of Oakland’s overall record.
Predictions for week 8: 27-48 for 315 yards and two touchdowns
Gamblers rejoice, here are our Week 8 Sports Debater expert picks against the spread. (We are NOT responsible for any money lost) odds courtesy of 5Dimes.eu
|Game Time||Teams||NYBobby Picks||MatthewToddErich Picks|
|Sunday, October 28, 2012:||Carolina Panthers (+10) @ Chicago Bears (-10)||Panthers||Bears|
|Sunday, October 28, 2012:||San Diego Chargers (-2.5) @ Cleveland Browns (+2.5)||Chargers||Chargers|
|Sunday, October 28, 2012:||Seattle Seahawks (+2.5) @ Detroit Lions (-2.5)||Lions||Seahawks|
|Sunday, October 28, 2012:||Jacksonville Jaguars (-12) @ Green Bay Packers (+12)||Packers||Packers|
|Sunday, October 28, 2012:||Indianapolis Colts (+3.5) @ Tennessee Titans (-3.5)||Titans||Colts|
|Sunday, October 28, 2012:||New England Patriots (-7) @ St. Louis Rams (+7)||Rams||Rams|
|Sunday, October 28, 2012:||Miami Dolphins (+2.5) @ New York Jets (-2.5)||Jets||Jets|
|Sunday, October 28, 2012:||Atlanta Falcons (-1) @ Philadelphia Eagles (+1)||Eagles||Eagles|
|Sunday, October 28, 2012:||Washington Redskins (+5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-5)||Redskins||Redskins|
|Sunday, October 28, 2012:||Oakland Raiders (+1) @ Kansas City Chiefs (-1)||Raiders||Chiefs|
|Sunday, October 28, 2012:||New York Giants (-1) @ Dallas Cowboys (+1)||Giants||Cowboys|
|Sunday, October 28, 2012:||New Orleans Saints (+7) @ Denver Broncos (-7)||Saints||Broncos|
|Monday, October 29, 2012:||San Francisco 49ers (-7.5) @ Arizona Cardinals (+7.5)||Cardinals||49ers|
|NYBobby: 27-29||MatthewToddErich: 30-26|
The 2012 Major League Baseball season has been nothing short of spectacularly crazy. From a plethora of injuries to emerging young superstars, this season has been non-stop entertainment for baseball fans around the world. The World Series is now upon us, as the best team from the American League faces off with the best from the National League to determine who the greatest team of the year is. The Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants both traveled completely different paths to reach this final plateau, but in the end they will battle it out on America’s biggest stage to win that coveted trophy in the Fall Classic. Here is a breakdown of each team position by position and how they matchup with each other.
Catcher: Buster Posey vs. Alex Avila
Buster Posey is coming off of just winning the Comeback Player of the Year in the National League and his play in the playoffs has shown why. Posey is one of the top two most important bats in the Giants lineup while his counterpart, Alex Avila, is clearly in his lineup for defensive purposes. Posey isn’t so bad on the defensive end himself and with Avila batting even worse in the postseason (.227) than he did in the regular season (.243), Posey is proving to be the much better catcher between the two.
Edge: Buster Posey
1st Base: Brandon Belt vs Prince Fielder
Like the catcher position, this comparison is almost unfair. Brandon Belt is a solid defensive first baseman but is only in his first full season in the Majors, making him a work in progress. Prince Fielder on the other hand was one of the biggest pickups of the offseason and teamed up with his PIC, Miguel Cabrera, to absolutely dominate pitching across the league all season long. On top of Fielder’s ridiculously good hitting, he is also getting better defensively every game and will soon pass his father as the best in the family.
Edge: Prince Fielder
2nd Base: Marco Scutaro vs. Omar Infante
If I was asked at the beginning of the playoffs who is the better between these two second basemen I wouldn’t have hesitated in saying Omar Infante. But after a 14-hit NLCS which resulted in Scutaro winning the NLCS MVP, he is now the favorite in my mind. Both of these players are defensive specialists with the ability to hit for average, but there is not much power coming from either of them. Scutaro is slowly turning into the best midseason acquisition of the league, and Infante has been nothing more than just a solid #9 hitter in the Tigers lineup.
Edge: Marco Scutaro
Shortstop: Brandon Crawford vs. Jhonny Peralta
Both of these players are clear indications of defensive specialists. The only difference between the two is power and experience, Crawford 2 years and Peralta 9 years. Peralta is always a threat to go deep and has had an amazing 2012 playoffs thus far (.343 BA), with a couple bombs already. Crawford will not hit for power, he only has two extra base hits in the playoffs, but he is a scrappy player and will find ways to get on base to help his team. Neither of these teams rely heavily on either of these SS and their offense, but both can make an impact on any given day.
Edge: Jhonny Peralta
3rd Base: Pablo Sandoval vs. Miguel Cabrera
This has to be the most intriguing matchup of any position in this series. The first Triple Crown winner since 1967, Miguel Cabrera, versus one of the most lovable and talented players in his position, Pablo Sandoval, will be heavily watched by every spectator. Unfortunately for Sandoval, he will be compared to the best player in the game right now for the entirety of the series. Cabrera is without question the best hitter in the league and the fact that he matches that with stellar defense makes him a priceless player. I like Panda, but it is tough when you are compared to the best. Cabrera is coming off of arguably one of the greatest offensive seasons ever and single-handedly carried the Tigers offense for most of the year.
Edge: Miguel Cabrera
Left Field: Gregor Blanco vs. Andy Dirks/Delmon Young
Obviously Detroit does not play two left fielders but since they are an American League team, they do play with a designated hitter. While I am not positive who the Giants will throw out there as the extra bat when the games are being played in Detroit, I do know that Delmon Young will be strictly a DH when they are home. Andy plays a solid left field and even has some pop to his bat but he will not be playing when they are in San Francisco. So I will be comparing Blanco to Young and even though Blanco has had a good year and has a solid glove, Delmon proved in his ALCS trouncing of the Yankees, just how valuable he can be. Young’s glove is a little skeptical but not enough to keep his bat out of the lineup.
Edge: Delmon Young
Center Field: Angel Pagan vs. Austin Jackson
I have a soft spot in my heart for Angel Pagan because he is truly one of the hardest working men in the game and he has proved that again this season in his first year in San Francisco. Pagan is extremely talented in the field and provides the Giants with some important at bats at the front of the lineup. Austin Jackson has the same responsibility for the Tigers. Jackson is one of the fastest in the game and he might even come out of this season with a gold glove. He is young and super talented in every aspect of the game. While I absolutely love Pagan as a player I think that Jackson is just on another level talent-wise.
Edge: Austin Jackson
Right Field: Hunter Pence vs. Brennan Boesch
Boesch is always a threat when he picks up a bat and he adds to that by playing a solid right field. Boesch will find himself anywhere from the 6 to the 8 hole in the lineup and with Cabrera and Fielder in front of him, he will have a big role to play for driving in runs for the Tigers. In my mind, Hunter Pence is one of the most talented outfielders in the National League. Unfortunately for the Giants, he is yet to really emerge as that superstar I know he is. Pence had a subpar regular season and he hasn’t done anything particularly special in the postseason, but every one of Detroit’s pitchers knows the threat that Hunter poses every time he is at the plate. I think this will be a good series for Pence and he will finally prove his worth as a San Francisco Giant.
Edge: Hunter Pence
Starting Pitching: Justin Verlander and company vs. Matt Cain and company
I love the pitching matchups that will be coming out of this series. While I think that Justin Verlander is the best pitcher that the Majors has seen since Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens were in their prime, I think that the pitchers the Giants are throwing out there can give them a run for their money. Verlander will be facing Barry Zito in game 1 of the World Series because Cain is just on two days rest after pitching a masterful game 7 in the NLCS against the Cardinals that inevitably led to their WS trip. The Giants have Bumgarner and Vogelsong to round out their starting 4 with Lincecum available for long relief or even an injury replacement. The Tigers have strikeout master Scherzer, Fister, and Sanchez to follow in Verlander’s footsteps. I don’t think the Tigers staff will have as easy a time as they did against the anemic bats of the Yankees, but there is no denying the amount of talent that Detroit puts out there on a nightly basis.
Edge: Justin Verlander and company
Relief Pitching: Sergio Romo and company vs. Jose Valverde and company
In my NLCS preview, I completely underrated the Giants bullpen. They pitched magnificently throughout the NLCS and were flawless in the final 3 wins that brought them to the World Series. Sergio Romo has had a couple of hiccups but he has managed to get himself out of any trouble that came his way. Jose Valverde on the other hand got rocked in his only game against the Yankees and was lucky enough to have his team save him in an eventual game 1 victory. Both of these teams have solid set up men and long relievers that can salvage games in any inning. What it comes down is that both of these teams starting pitching staffs are so good that the bullpens will not see much action in this series.
Edge: Sergio Romo and company
Manager: Bruce Bochy vs. Jim Leyland
I think that Bruce Bochy has done an incredible job all season long, leading the Giants to yet another NL West crown and now a trip to his second World Series in three years. What’s most impressive is that Bochy has done all of this without one bona fide superstar on their roster. It has been the true definition of team play. Leyland took a totally different approach to the season as he had his team revamped in the offseason into a teams of all-stars and it clearly took him longer than expected to get his shit together. It wasn’t until mid-September that Detroit even took first place in the pathetic AL Central. Well, that slow start is behind them and the Tigers are coming off one of the most dominant sweeps in Championship Series history, and with Leyland’s already uber-impressive resume, I find it hard not to pick Detroit as the team with a managerial advantage.
Edge: Jim Leyland
Overall, these two teams are ridiculously close on paper. I think this series will come down to 7 hard fought games and each of these teams fans will be on the edge of their seats on a nightly basis. I feel that Detroit has a slight advantage by having Justin Verlander pitch game 1, which will give Leyland the option to put him in for a game 4 start and maybe even a game 7 one if necessary. I know I am looking forward to well played World Series and I can’t wait to see who takes home the grand prize.
Series Prediction: Detroit Tigers in 7
Whether you are a Yankee fan, a baseball fan, a New Yorker,or just a living, breathing person, you are aware of the dilemma the Yankees have that is Alex Rodriguez. We know about his postseason struggles, his benching, his picking up swimsuit models at games and his claim that he wants to come back to New York to prove himself. We also are aware of his monster contract, his no trade clause and his admission of partaking in steroids, which he claims happened as a member of the Texas Rangers. The Yankees owe Rodriguez $114 million over the next 5 years, an unbelievable amount of money for an old third baseman who looks as if his last decent days as a major leaguer are behind him. The question on everybody’s minds has to be “WHAT THE HELL SHOULD THE YANKEES DO WITH ALEX RODRIGUEZ?” Well, I have the answer!
Many people believe the Yankees will trade him. New Yorkers are obviously sick of his act, his apathy and his tendency to come up short in the clutch time and again. Everyone thinks he needs a change of scenery and that he can resurrect his career somewhere else, maybe in his hometown of Miami. There are two fundamental problems with this situation that makes A-Rod unable to be traded. In order to trade him, the Yankees will have to eat almost 80 million of his contract. Therefore, over the next 5 years, the Yankees will be paying 15 million a season to a player that is not on their team. Even the Yankees don’t have that type of money, especially since ownership is attempting to lower payroll by 2014 to avoid the luxury tax. The other problem is A-Rod can veto any trade he doesn’t agree with and I really don’t think he wants out of New York as badly as some others may believe. There are so many more opportunities for A-Rod to score tail in New York than anywhere else and that basically seems to be his major concern these days. We all know that young men go into sports for two main reasons, to make money and get women. In that regard, A-Rod is winning no matter what he does on the field, and he knows New York is the best place to live as a young, rich bachelor.
The Yankees plan should be simple. Encourage Alex Rodriguez to start taking steroids again! This is a fool proof plan with no downside. Off the juice, A-Rod sucks. He is late on the fastball, slow out of the box and can barely reach the warning track. Put a needle in his ass and we might see the Alex of old. Before he got caught, he was a regular 50 HR and 130 RBI type of player. He has won MVPs, HR titles and has appeared on the All-Star game damn near every year of his career. With a little help, A-Rod can find his form. Without it, he’s no better than Eric Chavez! The Yankees need to take the chance that Alex Rodriguez finds out the testing date, buys a fake penis and synthetic urine, and pisses a clean test. He might get lucky! Even the blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then.
At the same time, we have to remember that Alex Rodriguez is not the sharpest tool in the shed. This is the same player that referred to Ichiro Suzuki as a great “fundamentalist”, when attempting to say that the Japanese outfielder plays good fundamental baseball. It is fairly likely that Alex would get caught. This possibility is exactly what Yankee fans like myself should be hoping for! If he is caught, the penalties would be the following:
- First positive test result: 50 game suspension
- Second positive test result: 100 game suspension
- Third positive test result: lifetime ban from MLB
The Yankees wouldn’t have to pay him a cent of the $114 million, his reputation won’t take too bad of a hit because lets face it, it really can’t get much worse! Everybody in this situation wins, especially the Steinbrenners, Cashman and Joe Girardi.
As previously stated, all the Yankees have to do is put a few supplements in his locker, turn their backs and let it all unfold. Nobody will trade for him, he makes too much money to sit on the bench and at the very least, he might actually get a few hits if he’s on the juice. If the Yankees haven’t already had conversations about this possibility internally, heads need to start rolling. We are talking about one of the biggest idiots in professional sports, a man who would not be able to resist the temptation of a little extra testosterone in the morning. He has no legacy to maintain, and will never be more loved than Jeter…unless he tries something! I believe New Yorkers will respect more than ever if he goes out swinging. Hell, if he was popping pills or taking needles he would be doing a whole lot more than what he just showed us in the 2012 playoffs…
1. Finally, owning Chris Johnson on your fantasy team paid off in a big way! We saw a glimpse of the Chris Johnson who rushed for 2,000 yards 3 years ago, earning himself the nickname CJ2k. On Sunday, against the Buffalo Bills, Johnson was able to gain 195 yards and 2 TDs. He gained 6.9 yards a carry in an effort that saw him gain 103 yards and 2 TDs by the end of the first quarter. His 83 yards yard TD burst was a huge sign that maybe Johnson is waking up from his two year hiatus as one of the leagues best backs. I’m not ready to say that he is back to being the old Johnson because this season has been extremely up and down. Through the first 7 weeks he has had weeks with 4, 17 and 24 yards but also shown glimpses with games of 91, 141 and 195 yards. We’ll see in the next couple of weeks if Johnson’s last performance will carry him into a big second half or if the Bills ground defense is the worst in history. Either way, Chris Johnson made his faithful owners happy for a day.
2. After getting torched a week ago on national television, the Houston Texans defense manned up and showed the world why they are still considered among the league’s best. In their total beat down of the Baltimore Ravens, the Texans scored a defensive touchdown, a safety. tallied two interceptions, 4 sacks and recovered a fumble. The Ravens came into the game an injury ravaged team, however all their injuries had been on the defensive side of the ball. Ray Rice, Joe Flacco, Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin and the rest of the offensive unit was ready to go. Flacco ended the game with only 147 yards passing on 21-43 attempts. Ray Rice, one of the best backs in the game, was shut down to the tune of 9 caries for 42 yards. The Ravens leading receiver was Torrey Smith with only 41 yards. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers embarrassed and angered the Texans defense and it was the Baltimore Ravens, a team known for an intense defense of it’s own, that was forced to suffer the consequences.
3. The best inter-divisional QB rivalry was on display at Metlife Stadium, as Eli Manning’s Giants took on Robert Griffin III’s Redskins. Griffin baffled the stellar Giants defensive line all day with a combination of his all-world speed and cannon right arm. He finished the day with 258 yards in the air and 89 on the ground. When he threw his second TD pass to Santana Moss with only 1:32 left in the game, it looked as if the Rookie phenom would get the road upset over the defending Super Bowl MVP. However, Eli Manning taught us again that he is the best 4th quarter QB in the NFL. Eli, who struggled during most of the game, only needed two plays to find Victor Cruz for a 77 yard TD strike, leaving only 1:13 on the clock. It was an unbelievable game and an incredible first preview of what is sure to be a remarkable NFC East rivalry for years to come.
4. Adrian Peterson and Terrell Suggs have showed the entire league that just because players in the past have struggled bouncing back from certain injuries, that doesn’t mean they can’t be overcome. At the end of last season, Adrian Peterson tore his ACL, an injury that was supposed to sideline him for a huge chunk of this season. He battled through, rehabbed hard and has played every game for the surprising Vikings this year. He is the third leading rusher in the league, and is only 9 yards shy of first. On Sunday, he ran through a solid Cardinals defense for 153 yards and a TD, looking like the Peterson of old. At the same time, Terrell Suggs was making an even more incredible comeback, playing for the Ravens only 5 months after snapping his achilles tendon, an injury that was supposed to be season ending. Instead he played in Week 7, and was able to register a sack, 2 QB hits, 4 tackles and a pass deflection, playing 40 snaps against the Texans. It is these incredible injuries that make Jet fans hopeful that Revis can come back sooner than later and be the player he was before he went down.
5. The AFC is wide open! Heading into Week 8, there are only 3 AFC teams with winning records. The Texans are legit, sporting a 6-1 record and coming off an ass kicking of the Ravens. Baltimore is 5-2 after having season ending injuries to two key defensive players, including leader Ray Lewis, and they look ripe for the taking. The Patriots are now 4-3 and if the Jets didn’t play scared in the last few minutes of their game Sunday, they could easily be 3-4. If you look at the AFC West, the Chargers and Broncos sit in first, tied with a 3-3 record. There are 7 other teams in the AFC that are either 3-3 or 3-4, meaning that there are a lot of teams still alive to make some postseason noise this year. Any number of teams can sneak into the Wildcard, and as we’ve seen with the Packers and Giants in the past couple years, the team that is hottest at the right time is usually the team that wins it all. Unless you are a fan of the Chiefs, Jaguars or Browns, it is perfectly acceptable to reasonably think your team has a shot to be playing in the AFC playoffs in January.