The City of Angels

9 Dec

-by Dan

Well, Los Angeles had a pretty eventful day yesterday, wouldn’t you say? First off, the Angels spent the 3rd highest amount of money in a single free agency period in baseball history at $335.1M on just 3 players! Then, later in the day, the Lakers announced they had traded for All Star point guard Chris Paul, before it was rejected by the league offices.

 Albert Pujols, maybe the best all-around baseball player we have seen since the mid 1900’s, inked a 10 year $256M contract with the Angels. Later in the morning, news broke that they Angels had signed yet another high profile free agent, starting pitcher C.J. Wilson, this off-season’s best pitching free agent, agreeing on a contract of 5 years for $77.5M, bringing the total for the 2 players to $333.6M. Oh, and the remaining $2.5M is going to be paid to 38 year old relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins in a 1-year contract, in case you were wondering where the remaining money was being spent, now you know! The Angels have set themselves up to succeed in the AL West, with their main competition being the 2-time defending American League Champion Texas Rangers. Wilson, this season’s best pitching free agent, will step in and be the #2 or #3 starter in LA, depending how technical Mike Scioscia will want to get with his rotation. Here is the projected the Angels will be putting on the field in 2012:

  1. SS Erick Aybar
  2. DH Bobby Abreu
  3. 1B Albert Pujols
  4. RF Torii Hunter
  5. 2B Howie Kendrick
  6. 3B Alberto Callaspo
  7. LF Vernon Wells
  8. C Chris Iannetta
  9. CF Peter Bourjos

That is a pretty deep lineup if you ask me, the Angels will certainly be exciting in the years to come. There pitching rotation will look something like this:

  1. RH Jared Weaver
  2. RH Dan Haren
  3. LH CJ Wilson
  4. RH Ervin Santana
  5. RH Jerome Williams

Ervin Santana the #4 guy? Are you serious? With the Phillies having the obvious best starting rotation in baseball, this in my opinion, has got to be the next in line.

That is just what happened for the Angels in Los Angeles yesterday; next we’ve got the Lakers. Who were on the brink of making a blockbuster deal which would have made Chris Paul a Laker, while sending away both Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol, 2 vital pieces to their championship runs in recent years. A questionable move by the Lakers, but with new head coach Mike Brown replacing Phil Jackson and his triangle offense, losing this type of size would not really be an issue. Current Lakers point guard Derek Fisher, is an efficient point guard, but will not score the amount of point sometimes necessary to win games. Kobe Bryant has never been matched up with a flashy point guard, like Paul, as Fisher has been there for each of the 5 championships the Lakers have won. The 3-team trade between the Lakers, Hornets, and Rockets, was reported as a done deal around 7pm ET last night, before the NBA and league commissioner nixed the trade making it invalid, sending everybody back to where they came from. This is a sticky situation if you ask me, only because the Hornets, who just happen to be run by the NBA, would be losing their biggest star Chris Paul, to the Lakers, the most popular franchise in the NBA. The trade is currently on hold, and the teams which were involved in the trade are appealing the retraction of the trade in hopes to make it happen as all 3 teams believe the trade will benefit them in the long run. STAY TUNED

AFC WEEK 13 PREVIEW

2 Dec

AFC PLAYOFF RACE
By DJR

At this point in the season, every AFC playoff contender can look back at the first 12 weeks and find at least 1 game they should have won, but came up a bit short. On the flip side, there are teams who can look back and say they won games that they should not have won..cough cough..Denver Broncos.

Sorry, Mr. Tebow.

The whirlwind regular season is about 1 month from coming to a close, and we know nothing!! Nobody is guaranteed to make the playoffs, nobody is guaranteed home field advantage, and of course, nobody is guaranteed to win the Super Bowl. That being said, here is a look at this week’s upcoming games with playoff implications.

Atlanta Falcons (7-4) vs. Houston Texans (8-3)

1pm, Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX

The Texans have caught quite a bit of bad luck these last 2 weeks. Week 10, quarterback Matt Schaub goes down with foot injury; out for the year. Week 11, backup quarterback Matt Leinart broke his collarbone; out for the year. Who’s next? Step up, rookie quarterback TJ Yates. Currently the Texans hold the #1 seed in the AFC, which would give them home field advantage throughout the playoffs, but as I stated earlier, nothing is guaranteed at this point of the season. A lot of Houston’s work load is going to fall on star running back Arian Foster and his backup Ben Tate, as most should expect the Texans to pound the rock at a higher rate with inexperienced quarterback under center. On the other side of the ball, Houston has one of the most proficient defenses in all of football. Jonathan Joseph is looking like he was the #1 free agent signing over this off season as Houston has gone from one of the worst pass defenses in the league, to a team you can’t just go out and throw the ball over the yard. This is a very interesting game to watch here, in my opinion.

Matchup to watch:

Texans Left Tackle Duane Brown vs. Falcons DE John Abraham

Brown covers the quarterbacks blindside, with Yates being a rookie and this being his first start, this is a vital matchup for Houston to pay attention to. Even Tom Brady can’t handle consistent pressure, so I’ll be anxious to see how Yates does this weekend.

Prediction:

Falcons 23

Texans 20

New York Jets (6-5) vs. Washington Redskins (4-7)

1pm, FedEx Field, Landover, MD

The Jets are currently on the outside looking in on the AFC playoffs, and once again, they need help from other teams around the league to get a playoff spot. Coming off of a critical victory over Buffalo which came down to the final :02 seconds of the game, the Jets need to come out fast and strong against a weak Redskins squad and take an early, commanding lead. Mark Sanchez has been receiving heat all season for his lack of production, although he has been putting up career numbers. Sanchez needs to be more of a game manager than a quarterback who chucks it downfield five or six times a game. New York does not have an explosive offense, but they are more than capable of running the ball 60% of the time and win the game in a dominant fashion. Shonn Greene needs to step up in the 2nd of the season and lead the Jets to the playoffs once again. Ladanian Tomlinson is reportedly healthy and coming back to the field this week. On the other sideline, Santana Moss is due to return after an injury which will open up Washington’s pass offense. Although, Moss should be as good as tree moss since he will be covered by Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis all game, so, he might as well be sitting on the sideline. This game is a must win, as are the rest of the games, for the Jets.

Matchup to watch:

Jets Wide Receiver Santonio Holmes vs. Redskins Cornerback DeAngelo Hall

Holmes is the Jets #1 receiver and is vital to the success the Jets can have down the stretch and into the post season. New York has other weapons, like Plaxico Burress, to compliment Holmes on the field, but with Santonio presumably being double covered every play, he will need to find a way to get open.

Prediction:

Jets 31

Redskins 13

Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3)

1pm, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA

In my opinion, this is the game of the week in the NFL, playoff implications all around. The Steelers are tied for the division lead with the Ravens and the Bengals are only 1 game behind each of them. Most fans before the season started had already written the Bengals off, but quarterback Andy Dalton has been turning heads all year with his down field success with fellow rookie wide receiver AJ Green. If the season ended today, the Bengals would be the #6 seed in the AFC playoff picture, but, the season doesn’t end in week 13. The Bengals still have two games against divisional rival Baltimore Ravens along with this week’s matchup against the Steelers. The schedule does not play in their favor, but they have made it this far with all of doubters watching, so what makes us think that the Bengals are done? They certainly are not, if they can manage to win 2 of those 3 games (against PIT and BAL) then they will be sitting pretty in the AFC playoff picture. They control their own destiny and at this point in the season, that’s what teams want to hear.

Matchup to watch:

Steelers Safety Troy Polamalu vs. Bengals Quarterback Andy Dalton

In their first meeting, the Steelers edged the Bengals 24-17 in Cincinnati as Andy Dalton was 15 of 30 for only 170 yards and 2 touchdowns, while throwing 2 interceptions. Look for Polamalu to play like himself and confuse the rookie quarterback to put him in a state of panic.

Prediction:

Steelers 27

Bengals 20

Oakland Raiders (7-4) vs. Miami Dolphins (3-8)

1pm, Dolphins Stadium, Miami, FL

Oakland has seen their fair share of injuries this season. Underrated starting quarterback Jason Campbell went down with a broken collarbone early in the season, then the team made a dramatic trade for quarterback Carson Palmer to keep their team, and their season afloat. Palmer has been shaking off the rust ever since he started under center and has been improving each week. Starting running back Darren McFadden has also been injured but backup Michael Bush has been able to carry load and maintain solid running game numbers while Run DMC has been on the sidelines. The Raiders play in a weak AFC West division and should not have a problem holding off those pesky Broncos in order to win the division.

Matchup to watch:

Miami’s cornerbacks vs. Oakland’s wide receivers

Sean Smith and Vontae Davis are 2 of the most underrated cornerback tandems in the league, due in part to the fact that they play on the Dolphins. Carson Palmer is rusty, there is no 2 ways about it, and facing 2 dynamic corner’s will prove to be difficult for the Raiders receiving core to get open enough for Palmer to squeeze the window.

Prediction: UPSET ALERT

Dolphins 23

Raiders 21

Denver Broncos (6-5) vs. Minnesota Vikings (2-9)

1pm, Metrodome, Minneapolis, MN

Tim Tebow. Tim Tebow. Tim Tebow. I don’t think there is anything else I need to say here. Oh, Tim Tebow. Anyways, Adrian Peterson will not be playing in this game so it is up to rookie quarterback Christian Ponder. They have little depth on the offensive side of the ball (defensive too) so it will be quite an upset if they can find a way to pull it off against a much improved Denver defense.

Matchup to watch:

Broncos Quarterback Tim Tebow vs. Minnesota’s defense

Mr. Tebow is the most polarizing player in the league, every time he is on the screen, we are watching him. Minnesota is one of the bottom feeders in the league this season, so Tim should be able to run free against the Vikings, as long as he can find his way around Jarod Allen on Minnesota’s defensive line.

Prediction:

Broncos 16

Vikings 10

Indianapolis Colts (0-11) vs. New England Patriots (8-3)

1pm, Gilette Stadium, Foxboro, MA

If this game were 1 year ago, this would have been the game of a week. The Colts are the worst disappointment in recent memory (except the Eagles this year). Peyton Manning should still be awarded the MVP this season, although he has not seen a single snap. What an unbelievable turnaround one player can make for a team. The Patriots are the Patriots and will continue to beat on the league to best of their ability, until the playoffs start and they can’t seem to figure it out in January once again.

Matchup to watch:

Patriots Nose Tackle Vince Wilfork vs. Colts Center Jeff Saturday

Wilfork is one of the most dominating defensive lineman in the league, weighing in a hefty 325 pounds, he is going to try and attack Indianapolis’ quarterback Dan Orlovsky, who hasn’t started a game since he was the quarterback of the 0-16 Detroit Lions in 2008.

Prediction:

Patriots 55

Colts 10

Baltimore Ravens (8-3) vs. Cleveland Browns (4-7)

4:05pm, Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland, OH

The Browns will continue to attempt to play spoiler in the AFC North, as the other 3 teams in the division each have playoff aspirations. The Ravens have a dynamic offense and a dominant defense to go along with it. Joe Flacco has not been performing up to fans standards, much alike Mark Sanchez, but is managing to get the team the wins they need, which at the end of the day is all that matters. The Ravens are currently sitting atop the AFC North with having the same record as their rival the Pittsburgh Steelers, who they have beaten twice this year. The Ravens defense may not give up a single point to the measly Browns this Sunday.

Matchup to watch:

Ravens Safety Ed Reed vs. Browns’ Quarterback Colt McCoy

Ed Reed is arguably the best safety in the league, next to Troy Polamalu. You will continue to hear his name through the speakers all during the game Sunday, and expect him to make at least a couple game changing plays.

Prediction:

Ravents 34

Browns 0

ENJOY THE GAMES THIS WEEKEND AND ROOT FOR COMPETETIVE GAMES ALL OVER

The Jets?

18 Nov

Oh, the Jets. What can we possibly say. You have the best defense in the league. Your offensive line almost reminds me of watching Vick get annihilated on every play (but honestly it’s definitely not that bad). Mangold will always be a stud. I can’t say the same about the rest.

There aren’t words for Sanchez. Yes his stats are better than last year, but his performance is not.

Everyone is talking about the Jets being out of the playoff race. No they are not. Houston and New England are locks. I don’t care if Matt Leinart is throwing the ball with his right hand, that team has two amazing running backs and a fantastic defense. Also they still get to play the Panthers, Jags and Colts which will get them to 10+ wins.

The Ravens have the tie breaker on the Jets, but they have similar problems (but are in better shape due to having a running back that can average over 4 yards a carry) and the Steelers are the Steelers. That leaves 1 spot for the Jets/Bills/Cincinnati/Titans and then one of those AFC West teams. It is still definitely plausible and the Jets have found a way to sneak into the playoffs the last 2 years and then run (literally) their way into the AFC Championship game.

They have the tools, a fantastic defense, a sometimes competent QB (cmon Mark don’t make me look like an idiot) and a great receiving core (when they don’t fall down). And they finally used McKnight, which only took 2 injuries at RB for that to happen, which is pathetic given McKnight has been our best Offensive player this year with a plethora of long kickoff returns (and of course a plethora of lost fumbles). If he can just hold onto the ball, he will be a weapon and should get 10-15 touches per game.

I’ll be back with more about the NFL outside the Jets.

-Casey

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