Predictions of the Raiders’ Demise have been Exaggerated

The headlines:

“Football Outsider predicts Raiders have worse record in 2017”
“Six ways the Raiders’ offseason could go off the rails in 2017”
“Six reasons why Raiders might not meet high expectations”
“Raiders hope grand expectations for season don’t instead deliver heartache”

Talking heads and columnists from coast to coast have been talking about the fact that last year 7 close games went in the Raiders favor and Lady Luck is now on vacation. The Raiders were not as good as advertised last year how they could have easily been 10-6 or 9-7. Well, those calling for the Raiders demise are going to be found wanting.

The columnists predictions act as if they are revealing that Bruce Willis’s character is actually dead in the Sixth Sense. The research that shows us that teams with a bunch of close wins the year before sees a correction the following year have been well talked about. We are aware this happens. We don’t need you telling us to expect an 8-8 season and to temper our expectations. After a playoff drought over a decade we aren’t tempering anything besides are cutlasses.

Secondly, we don’t expect to have 7 close games this year. Our offense has been upgraded and we will be lethal, not to mention that last year we learned how to win close games. This year we will learn how to keep games from being close. Carr, Cooper, and Crabtree have more time with each other, which breeds chemistry. The addition of Marshawn Lynch will help balance their offense and help convert short 3rd down and goal line plays. This will help us put away games that were too close for comfort last year. Besides, Whether the Raiders win more games or not than last year isn’t the important thing. Whether they are better than last year is important and I predict improvement. So the rest of analysts and columnists save us from your Raider’s demise takes and let us enjoy the Raider’s revival.

McGregor vs. Mayweather

Saturday night was an exciting night. The matchup that America demanded was finally delivered. Despite what some may tell you, that fight delivered what the majority of people rooted for. A chance to see two professionals from different sport worlds collide in an entertaining fashion. No surprise the boxer won the boxing match. It was an enjoyable fight. I went in on it with some family and enjoyed seeing two entertainers entertain. After I have thought about it for a while I have come away with a couple of things.

McGregor had no shot

McGregor won 3 rounds, but Glass Joe could have won those 3 rounds. Mayweather hardly threw any punches and did two things. He was studying McGregor and secondly he was letting McGregor tire out. Which is surprising to me because McGregor fell for it. McGregor tired wasting big punches on Mayweather’s gloves. He did connect enough to entertain, but they clearly didn’t affect Mayweather. I don’t understand how McGregor’s team hadn’t prepared him for this. We have all seen Rocky III when Clubber Lang wastes his energy hitting Rocky’s gloves, until he is too tired and Rocky finishes him the next round. This is more or less what Mayweather did and it worked great. Of course, it was only a matter of time until a Rocky reference came up. You can’t avoid it.

McGregor never won another round after those first 3 and Mayweather worked him over pretty good the rest of the fight. From that point on it was the fight most expected. A professional beating on an amateur with a lot of heart. McGregor had a little bit of momentum into the 8th round in the beginning, but beside that, when Mayweather decided to box it was over.

Referee stepping in

At the point the referee stopped the fight, the fight was over. Mayweather was connecting on haymaker after haymaker and McGregor was stumbling like a 9 month old. The disappointing thing, was he was never knocked down, which I would have liked to see. The other part is the referee called the match after Mayweather barely grazed him instead of after a meaty fist sandwich. Had he stopped the fight 10 seconds early it would have felt right, but the end felt anticlimactic.

I will note, that if hits to the face are as damaging as the science experts like to make it sound, the ref probably did save McGregor damage. He was certainly going to take more and more of a beating.

Take Aways

It was fun and I think I could watch boxing with some regularity if they didn’t make it so difficult to watch. The fighters would make less, but they really do need a commissioner of boxing, like Dana White for MMA. It would do wonders for the sport.

I wish I would have emptied my 401K for this fight and made a quick 20%. Everyone was right, there was no way McGregor was going to win this fight. Also, getting “lucky” and knocking Mayweather out is much harder said then done. Clearly, no one in the previous 49 fights were able to, not sure why so many thought McGregor would be able to.

It was fun and worth the $25 that I spent on the fight. It was a good time and a perfect warm up to the College Football season this weekend.

Guaranteed 20 %

McGregor vs. Mayweather

The spectacle comes to a head tonight and is overhyped and despite the logical parity, I am excited. It seems that I am not the only one that wants to see this fight, America demanded this fight. Every analyst that I have heard has said they expect Mayweather to win easily. Some put in the caveat that maybe McGregor will get lucky, despite 49 other professionals failed. Then again, there might actually be an overseas millionaire that wants to leave his fortune to me, I could get lucky, right?

One thing I always come back to is that there is a reason they play the games. The 2007 Giants upsetting the Patriots, the 1980 USA Hockey Team, Appalachian State over Michigan, Utah over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, Cavs down 1-3 in the finals, or an 0-3 Red Sox comeback over the Yankees. Upsets happen far too often when logic dictates otherwise.

Also, wouldn’t an MMA fighter just be inherently tougher than a boxer? They are taking knees, kicks, and punches that have to land harder than overly padded gloves. When McGregor beat Diaz after going up a weight class he showed incredible moxie. There was a massive amount of punishment and McGregor won the battle. So, is it crazy to think that McGregor will be able to endure and get Mayweather? Yeah, it probably is, but we can hope right?

I hope McGregor can win. Mayweather’s history of domestic violence makes him the villain in this fight. McGregor’s no saint, but he does have a feel good story that is easy to root for. Nevertheless the spectacle may be more fun than the fight, so live it up. Today will be a fun day. College football opener, and a fight that America demanded. Carpè Díem.

BYU Prediction for 2017

Finally! It has been a long time since Brady came back and buried the Falcons like the New York Times buries a retraction. The football drought finally ends this Saturday. This is kind of a college football appetizer, but I am so hungry I am not being picky. Football is back!!!

What are the experts expectations?

Phil Steele, by his own admission, is the most accurate predicter of college football. I’ll touch on his two different ratings. His first ranking is where he predicts the final rankings at the end of the year. He has BYU ranked #27. Meaning that after the end of the bowl games, he thinks BYU will be ranked #27. Notables on BYU’s schedule is Wisconsin #10, LSU #13, Boise St. #45.

In Phil Steele’s power poll, which ranks best teams, not according to where they will rank, but how good they are. BYU is ranked #33. Other notables are Utah #43, LSU #13, Wisconsin #11, Boise St. #56, Utah St. 104.

In the AP poll BYU is #38 with Utah and Boise being ranked higher at 27 & 29 respectively. The coaches poll has BYU #42 with #25 Utah, #29 Boise St., and they even have Mississippi St. #35.

Their strength of schedule is #84. Similar to other years they have about 5 good games, and the rest are cupcakes. The tough games are: @LSU (technically neutral) Utah, Wisconsin, Boise State, @Miss St. (only because they are SEC). They have Utah, Wisconsin, and Boise St. at home. They are scheduled for 13 games.

BYU 2017 Prediction: 11-2

The main reason I believe that they will win 11 games is because of Tanner Mangum. Mangum is an elite QB and will carry this team to a great season. They will be closer to winning 12, then winning 10. This is Mangum’s 2nd year under Coach Sitake, with Detmer as his offensive coordinator. He played great when Taysom Hill was hurt, and I am expecting results as good or better than Max Hall and John Beck.

So, yeah, I believe they will beat Utah. I understand that none of my kids have ever seen a BYU win over Utah, but c’mon, Utah’s running a high tempo offense? Utah is a punch-you-in-the-mouth type of team, and trying pretend their something else won’t work. My only concern is that BYU’s receivers and running backs aren’t like last years, a good QB will equalize it out, which is why I trust Mangum to lead them to an 11-2 season.

Kyrie To Boston

Kyrie is out! Danny Ainge finally pulled the trigger and used his assets for a young star. The Celtics turned their back on Isaiah Thomas and and traded with their Eastern Conference threat. Wow. There is a lot to get to.

First off, Kyrie wanted out and he got what he wanted. I would have enjoyed it thoroughly if they would have traded Kyrie to a terrible team, where there was no chance of contention. Yet, Kyrie was put in a great situation on another good team with a chance to succeed. There were many scenarios that could have played out much worse for Kyrie, but he has to be happy to be traded to the Celtics. They are well ran, with a great coach and a bright future. Kyrie wanted an opportunity to be the Alpha, now he has an opportunity. This year they will have more talent, but I expect their chemistry to be awful.

Kyrie is going to want to come in and prove something and play like Russell Westbrook. The Celtics chemistry is about to be disrupted and the Celtics will be worse off than they were last year, despite their talent and the addition of Gordon Hayward. Because the East is as frail as Venezuela’s currency they will make it to the Eastern Conference Finals, but no further. I project that Kyrie doesn’t have the leadership ability to produce the chemistry it takes to lead a team to the finals.

The NBA is a cold frigid business. Isaiah Thomas was a fan favorite, played out of his mind, while grieving for his sister, and played injured for the Celtics. He gave them everything they could ask for plus some and at first chance they shipped him off. I think that the chip will help Isaiah Thomas, but as Don Corleone said, “This is the business we have chosen”, and I don’t feel bad for anyone.

Also, Ainge finally cashed in his chips. Does he believe this is the right move, or did criticism influence his hand. He has taken heat for piling up assets and never using them. The Cavs did well considering the whole league knew they had to deal Kyrie. The Celtics made a mistake and should have been more patient. I also didn’t expect the two teams in the Eastern Conference Championship to deal with one another.

The NBA’s offseason has been mesmerizing for some time. Kevin Durant joining the Warriors, Kyrie Irving bailing out on LeBron, and the rampant and yet-to-be-denied rumor that LeBron is divorcing Cleveland next summer. Next year should be great. The Cavs vs the Celtics will be fun and another Cavs/Warriors final will be great. I love the NBA offseason.

Marshawn Lynch

Marshawn Lynch knelt during the National Anthem in the Raiders first preseason game. This was Jack Del Rio’s conversation with Lynch about this.

“[Marshawn Lynch] said, “This is something I’ve done for 11 years- it’s not a form of anything other than me being myself.” Del Rio responded, “So you understand how I feel, I very strongly believe in standing for the national anthem, but I’m gonna respect you as a man. You do your thing, OK, and we’ll do ours.”

People get far too upset, so I’m not calling for outrage. But, I think it is far worse to sit during the Anthem because you are too lazy, or can’t be bothered, than to sit without reason. This is a good litmus test to drill down people’s true reasons for hating Kaepernick. Those that are outraged, why are they outraged? Are they outraged because Kaepernick didn’t stand for the Anthem, or the reason why he didn’t stand? Those that were outraged, because he wasn’t showing proper respect to the troops, should have the same level of outrage, for Lynch who sits without reason.

If the real reason people are upset over Kaepernick is because of his political position, which is what I think it is, this will blow over without much fanfare. There is much doubt on whether Lynch has sat down for 11 years during his career, but nonetheless. I find Lynch’s dismissal of the anthem without reason, worse than Kaepernick’s reason for black social justice.

Where Olynyk’s Style Came From


Celtic’s game 5 is tomorrow and we get to see Olynyk.  Where does he get off with that hair and that head band.  I agree that the hair band is better than the man bun, which is an oxy moron, but either one is a winner.  It just hit me on Sunday watching the Celtics play that he would look more comfortable on a platform in the background of a Cher or Suzanne Somer’s workout video in the 80’s.  He would fit in perfectly there, on a basketball floor, he just keeps looking ridiculous.

Clippers Get Trashed!

Hayward's hair is explained.
The Utah Jazz just sent the Clippers home in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.  How?  The Clippers on paper seem to have a big three:  Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and Deandre Jordan.  Each are arguably one of the best 3 guys at their position in the whole league.  How they managed to lose in the first round to Gordon Hayward and an aging Joe Johnson still baffles me.  They should be competing for titles, but instead they are dumpster diving, yet again.

So should the Clippers break their nucleus and start over?  The truth is the Clippers don’t have an option.  Both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin  have player options and can return if they want to.  The Clippers themselves may not have a choice.  But aside from that, I think they should keep their core together and at least be good.

I understand that everyone wants to think they are striving to put together a championship team, but only one team wins.  Being a Jazz fan, they never won a championship, but 18 years of being really good was still a ton of fun.  Blowing up the Clippers and starting over sounds good, but in reality they will be mediocre bottom feeders.  The Clippers are putting together fifty win seasons and because of injuries haven’t had that many great chances.  The choice between winning 50+ games with an outside shot of making the Western Conference Finals, sounds a lot better, than 5-6 years of trying to rebuild and sign a Chris Paul and Blake Griffin type player.  Also, don’t forget one big fact:

The Clippers are the Clippers

If you think you are going to rebuild this team into a winning team think again.  This is by far and away the most success they have ever had and I doubt they get back to this level anytime soon.  You have the Donald Sterling curse, karma, plus your owner is a bafoon who couldn’t even realize the iPhone was going to be a success.  Stick it out and until you only win 40 games a year, enjoy them as long as you can.

Justice League


Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Flash, Aquaman

The Justice League Trailer hit the internet and expectations for DC’s new blockbuster were set. It’s a great trailer and I am all in on seeing this movie. I am married with four kids, so I only see about 4-5 movies a year: my birthday, Valentines, anniversary, and 1 or 2 movies with the kids. So, the fact that this movie is in the top 5 movies this year says something. Maybe not too much, because, without a trailer I was going to go to this movie either way.  I am all in on Batman, whether, it is the Gold Standard (Dark Knight Series) or even the bad ones (Clooney, and Kilmer).  The trailer introduced the characters, showed you some action, made you laugh, and we didn’t have to see Superman.

My first takeaway, they nailed Aquaman. I am not familiar with Aquaman, besides snippets of the Justice League cartoon my son watches. He is like Thor in the Avengers, not afraid of a good fight, light hearted, and likes to drink.  Previously, Aquaman had never appealed to me.  After this trailer, you might as well sign me up to purchase his standalone movie as well.

Batman takes center stage as the architect of the Justice League.  His toys are incredible and his Batmobile wrecks havoc.  There is a scene where he is fighting an alien robot and he takes him out by grapple hooking into the robot pummeling it. This reminds me of his move in the video game Injustice, which is a nice easter egg.  The fighting seems a lit bit more superheroish, than the Dark Knight movies, that were more realistic.  Bruce Wayne himself actually answers the questions of whether or not he is a superhero, which is my favorite line in the trailer.  

There is no Superman to be seen.  I didn’t realize this until after the trailer was over.  They do show a picture of Lois Lane, but other than that nothing about Superman. Surprisingly, Doomsday killed him for longer than a couple of days, but I know it won’t be forever.  I am sure though, that he wouldn’t have died, but Batman had thrown him around and beat him like the lesser overhyped meathead that he is before his sacrificial death.

The villain?  I have no idea.   The truth of the matter is that I am not familiar with any Justice League villains, besides Lex Luthor and The Joker.  Who is a big enough force to need the entire Justice League?  Stereotypically, it will be an alien race with some all-powerful creature.  This will be good enough, as long as there are plenty of henchmen for them to tear through, and an actual Villain with form.  If we get another cosmic force like in the Green Lantern, I wil boycott DC movies.  Loki, was a great villain in the Avenger’s movie, I hope DC delivers.  A good movie can go to great with a good character villain.

Lastly, it seems that this movie is breaking away from the darker themes.  This seems much more like a Marvel movie.  They have injected humor into the diaglogue, which seemed more absent from the previous movies.  The overall themes may be darker, but it seems to be a replica of the Avenger movie.  Which is fantastic, because I love the Avenger’s movies.  I Can’t wait for this movie, besides when Superman will surely show up in the end and like a Captain Planet episode save the day.  

How Belichick will attack Atlanta in Super Bowl 51

Belichick on Mike Lombardi

Mike Lombardi for the Ringer:

“Belichick’s first quarter will be all about building a lead and learning Atlanta’s plan. Taking away Julio Jones, eliminating the big play, setting the edge, creating the lead early, stopping the run — those are not independent thoughts. Belichick ties them together and makes them work together. If football were as simple as “taking away what the opponent does best,” then we wouldn’t be constantly bemoaning the lack of quality NFL coaching. Bill Belichick has lasted this long because he knows football is more complicated than that.”

I love listening to Mike Lombardi and reading him.  He spent  time working with Bill Belichick in Cleveland with the Browns and in New England with the Patriots.  He seems to be very knowledgeable and Belichick himself said that Lombardi is one of the smartest football guys.  I’ll be looking for this gameplan on Sunday to see if he was right, and to see if the Patriots will be able to execute the gameplan.

Ranking Patriots Super Bowl Teams


Charles Curtis for USA Today:

7.  2003 (against Carolina Panthers)
“they just barely eked out a Super Bowl win over Jake Delhomme (he had a pretty great game, to be fair) and the Carolina Panthers.”

6.  2001 (against St. Louis)
“The first team of the dynasty obviously sits toward the bottom because Brady was a rookie pushed into action when Drew Bledsoe went down.

5.  2011 (Giants)
“Another team that caught fire at the end of the season, only to run into the New York Giantsfor a second time in the Super Bowl. But the defense was just average, finishing 15th in points allowed that year.”

4.  2016 (Falcons)
“Are they really that good or is the competition weak? That explains why they’re smack dab in the middle of this list.”

3.  2014 (Seahawks)
“…Yes, they were one play away from losing the Super Bowl. But it’s hard to argue with a defense that could do it all”

2.  2004 (Eagles)
“When I think of the Patriots dynasty, this is the team I’ll think of.”

1.  2007 (Giants)
“If the 16-0 Pats hadn’t run into the Giants’ pass rush and the Helmet Catch, this squad would be in the conversation for greatest team in NFL history.”

Going back over these Super Bowls you realize that the Patriots have never won an “easy” Super Bowl.  All of these Super Bowls were games late into the 4th quarter, being decided by 4 points or less.  The endings of the last 3 Super Bowls were some of the best Super Bowl finishes, in terms of excitement.  All three had unbelievable catches in do or die situations against the Patriots.  Luckily for the Patriots, Pete Carroll refused to use Marshawn Lynch and Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson.  This has been an amazing run for Belichick and Brady and they have given us great games, lets hope that Sunday is no different.

Carolina Panthers: Where it went wrong

Projections

After posting a 15-1 win season in 2015, the Carolina Panthers were predicted to go 13-3 or 12-4 in preseason predictions.  They didn’t.  They fell short of preseason predictions and was analysts biggest miss. Where did it all go wrong?

David Newton for ESPN wrote:

The foundation that helped Carolina to an NFL-best 17-2 record (including playoffs) and a trip to the Super Bowl in 2015 for the most part remains intact. Blame an inexperienced secondary with three new starters, catastrophic injuries on the offensive line and inconsistent play by reigning NFL MVP Cam Newton for the huge step backward this past season. Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly’s absence in the final six games after suffering a concussion didn’t help either.

Offense

Their offense was all over the place.  One week they scored 46 points then the next week they scored 10.  They scored 25 points or more 7x and 16 points or fewer 6x’s.  Last year those numbers were completely different.  They scored 25 points or more 13x’s and under 16 points only once, which was the Super Bowl.  Without drastic changes to personnel, I would still say their transformation was more substantial than Bruce to Caitlyn Jenner’s.  Cam Newton, the offensive line, and losing Greg Norman headlined their decline.

Cam Newton

If Cam Newton was Superman last year, then consider him Robin’s sidekick after this year, his stats were pedestrian and his inconsistency showed up in the win column.

He had career lows in completion %, average yards per completion, QBR, and rating. He ranked last in the league in completion %, below Brock Osweiler and Fitzpatrick.  His touchdowns dropped from 35 to 19, and he threw more interceptions than any other year since his rookie season.  Besides a poor offensive line, what’s the problem?

Personally, I think what happened to Newton this year is the same thing that happened to Rocky III.  Rocky was pounded by Clubber Lang because he lost his eye of the tiger.  Cam was too well fed and lost his hunger.  He spent more time complaining about refs not calling hits on him and less time preparing and focusing on how to make plays.

Cam also complained that football wasn’t fun anymore.  Football isn’t fun?  That to me, explains his mental makeup.  He loves game day and being a superstar.  When the going gets tough Cam complains.  He needs to learn to enjoy the grind and be consistent.  Which is sad because has the Lebron James body of the NFL and this year he played like Dellavedova.

Offensive Line

Michael Oher, the only offensive lineman your wife might know, Ryan Kalil and Gino Gradkowski all were injured in the year.  These losses were too much and they weren’t able to protect Cam which helped result in Cam’s poor year.

Defensive Backs

David Newton for ESPN wrote:

2016 grade: D-plus. I debated going with a C-minus here because rookie corners James Bradberry and Daryl Worley showed marked improvement in the second half of the season. But it’s hard to ignore that starter Bene’ Benwikere was released after a Week 4 loss to Atlanta in which Julio Jones had 300 yards receiving. It’s hard to ignore that the corners played a major role in a 1-5 start from which the Panthers never fully recovered. It’s also hard to ignore the Panthers still ranked 28th in pass defense a year after ranking 11th in 2015 with Norman.

This says it all.

The Panthers were unable to build upon the success of 2015.  If Cam can humble himself, get back to work, and revive his career like the Italian Stallion, they can return to prominence.  Cam has all the tools, lets just see if he has the discipline.

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