March 12, 2013
College basketball’s player of the year race is starting to heat up. In this wide open season where we’ve seen top 5 teams go down almost every week, the Wooden Award Watch has also been sent into a frenzy. We’ve seen so many teams picked to finish in the middle or the bottom of their conference rise above expectations. This parity has put names on the Wooden Award Watch that nobody saw coming.
With that, here are my top 5 players (in order) that could take home player of the year honors:
Victor Oladipo- Indiana
His incredible quickness helps him do so many different things for the Hoosiers. Oladipo is one of the best I’ve seen at turning defense into offense. He averages 14.0 ppg, 2.1 assists, 6 rebounds and 2.3 steals and to top it off, he is shooting 63% from the floor. His play has been so consistent it’s hard to put anyone ahead of him at this point.
Otto Porter- Georgetown
The Hoyas swingman rises to the occasion in big games. Porter scored 33 points in a win at Syracuse, and scored 21 of his 22 points in the second half of a double-overtime win against Connecticut. Porter shoots 51% from the floor and averages 16.6 points. 2.5 assists, 7.6 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block. The Hoyas have won 11 in a row, and Porter is averaging 19.2 ppg in the last 13 games. In other words, he single handedly took the Hoyas to the top of the Big East.
Rodney McGruder- Kansas St.
The Kansas State senior guard is averaging 14.9 ppg and 5.3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1.3 steals. This play by McGruder has helped the Wildcats win 5 in a row and take over 1st in the Big 12.
Deshaun Thomas- Ohio St.
In the toughest conference in the country, the junior forward has averaged 19.8 ppg, 1.3 assists, and 6.1 rebounds. This consistency, along with Thomas’ 84.5 free throw shooting has helped the Buckeyes win 4 of their last 5, putting them 2nd in the Big Ten.
Marcus Smart- Oklahoma St.
The freshman guard is averaging 14.6 ppg, 5.6 rebounds, and 4.3 assists and 2.9 steals. Smart does it all for the Cowboys, who have now won 10 of their past 11, with their only loss coming against Kansas in double overtime. They now sit just one game behind Kansas and Kansas St. in the Big 12.
I would be in shock if one of these 5 didn’t win player of the year. Even with the conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament right around the corner, these are the top guys in the top conferences in the nation. I can’t wait to see how these guys perform down the stretch in the race for a national championship.
December 19, 2012
Excitement and suspense fills our NFL imagination’s as the 2012 season once again comes down to the wire. With so much at stake during the final two weeks across the league, the tightest playoff race belongs to the tumultuous NFC East.
Every sports fan, whether they like it or not, knows the NFL is No. 1 when it comes to media coverage and generated revenue. At the top of the food chain is the NFC East, a division that holds four of the most popular teams in all of sports. It may seem odd that the Dallas Cowboys belong to a division with three east coast teams, but the Cowboys are larger than life—a smaller media market simply wouldn’t suffice for Dallas. Joining the biggest thing in Texas are the New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles.
Like last season, this year will be decided in Week 17. The Cowboys and Giants met in 2011’s final week for a winner-take-all showdown which crowned the victor the divisional champion and granted them a ticket to the playoffs. History tells the rest of the story as the Giants took the game and eventually the Super Bowl.
This season has been no different as the Redskins, Cowboys and Giants all have an 8-6 record heading into Week 16. The Eagles may be out of the running, but Philly fans are as faithless as they come. At the moment, the Redskins are on top, but there’s plenty of football left to be played.
Heading into this season, the defending Super Bowl champion Giants were the runaway favorite, the Cowboys were in a must-win situation and the Redskins weren’t expected to win the division, but were optimistic thanks to the acquisition of rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Now, the Giants are coming off a 34-0 drubbing by the Atlanta Falcons, the Cowboys have won 5-of-6 and the Redskins, led by not one but two rookie quarterbacks(Kirk Cousins being the other) have won five straight and control their own destiny.
Week 16 pits the Redskins against the Eagles, who would like nothing more than to spoil the party. The Cowboys go up against the New Orleans Saints, who are only 6-8, but thanks to quarterback Drew Brees are as dangerous as they come. And finally, the Giants face the Baltimore Ravens, which is a desperate game for both sides.
If both the Redskins and Cowboys win in Week 16, this would set up a virtual win-and-in situation in Week 17. Nothing screams playoff football like a playoff game in the final week of the regular season. Like last season, every football fan in the world will be glued to their television to see who exactly makes it to the postseason party.
This is why the NFC East is the best division in sports. As much as every sports fan may dislike that this division seems to get all of the attention, they sure do put on a good show. Enjoy the theatrics as sports history unfolds before our very eyes.
December 18, 2012
A lot changed in the NFL in Week 15. Fans in Washington, Minnesota and Dallas saw their playoff hopes improve dramatically. And if you are rooting for Baltimore, Tampa Bay, New York Giants, St. Louis, Chicago, Pittsburgh or the New York Jets…your hopes either took a major hit and/or are gone all together. Here’s how I have them ranked with two games to go.
1 San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1) — As the Nature Boy Ric Flair always said, “To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.” The Patriots were at the top last week and the 49ers went into New England and won. San Fransisco is now “The Man.”
3 New England Patriots (10-4) – Tom Brady was on the verge of one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history. But the Patriots couldn’t finish it off and likely cost themselves a playoff bye.
4 Houston Texans (12-2) — One more win ought to be enough to lock up home-field advantage in the AFC. It won’t be easy with the Vikings and Colts both fighting for wild card spots.
5 Denver Broncos (11-3) – The Broncos may be the biggest winner of week 15. Home wins over the Browns and Chiefs will clinch the No. 2 seed and a first round bye.
6 Green Bay Packers (10-4) – The NFC North champs have won eight of nine and have their sights set on the NFC’s No. 2 seed and a first round bye.
7 Seattle Seahawks (9-5) – After putting up 108 points in the last two weeks the Seahawks are one win away from getting into the playoffs (probably) and have an outside shot of stealing the NFC West from San Fransisco.
8 Dallas Cowboys (8-6) – Somehow the Cowboys got off the mat and won five of six. If they can make it seven of eight they should be NFC East champs.
9 Baltimore Ravens (9-5) — Remember when the Ravens were on the verge of earning a bye in the first round of the playoffs? A desperate New York Giant team could give them a fourth straight loss and make the Ravens at Bengals in week 17 for the division title.
10 Washington Redskins (8-6) – Five straight wins have the Redkins at the top of the NFC East. A win at Philly this week will set up a huge week 17 showdown with the Cowboys.
11 Cincinnati Bengals (8-6) – The Bengals can make the playoffs with a win in Pittsburgh. A loss makes things very interesting.
12 New York Giants (8-6) – Did the Giants just sneak in an extra bye week? Sunday’s game in Baltimore is a must win.
13 Indianapolis Colts (9-5) – The Colts should have no trouble with the Chiefs this week. A win should keep them from having to go to New England in the first round.
14 Minnesota Vikings (8-6) – If the playoffs started today….with Houston and Green Bay left on the schedule, they have started for the Vikings.
16 Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7) – Despite losing four of five, the Steelers can make the playoffs by winning the last two games. Their reward for doing so? Probably the Patriots.
17 New Orleans Saints (6-8) – This season cannot end fast enough for the Saints now that they are out of playoff contention.
18 Carolina Panthers (5-9) – Don’t be surprised if the Panthers finish 7-9. This is one team that hasn’t quit.
19 St. Louis Rams (6-7-1) – If everyone in front of them loses, a win would give the Rams something to play for in week 17.
22 New York Jets (6-8) – The Jets looked more like a team playing for the top pick in the draft than a playoff spot on Monday night.
23 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8) – That 41-0 beat down ensured the Bucs won’t have to worry about making a trip to the frozen tundra in January.
24 Arizona Cardinals (5-9) – Nice win for the Cards. With the Bears and 49ers coming up, they were looking at a 12-game losing streak to finish the season.
25 Detroit Lions (4-10) – The Lions are a candidate for most disappointing team of 2012. They could lose their last eight games.
26 Cleveland Browns (5-9) – You heard it here first. Cleveland makes the playoffs in 2013.
27 Buffalo Bills (5-9) – Maybe the Bills are the new Redskins? Let’s see if they try to win the off-season for the second year in a row.
28 San Diego Chargers (5-9) – The window in San Diego is officially closed. Time to rebuild.
29 Oakland Raiders (4-10) – The Raiders haven’t allowed a point in five quarters.
30 Philadelphia Eagles (4-10) – Eagles are headed for 4-12 with two playoff hungry opponents remaining but they would love to knock the Redskins and Giants out of the race.
31 Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) – GM, Head Coach, quarterback and even franchise location are question marks? That’s not good.
32 Kansas City Chiefs (2-12) – The Chiefs appear to be a lock for 2-14 and the first pick in the draft.
November 28, 2012
Most NFL division races are all but over but the wild card spots are a different story. By my count, there are 11 teams still fighting for those four spots. But what they all really care about is where they fall in my power rankings.
1 Houston Texans (10-1) — Houston has won five straight for the second time this season. If they can make it six, they could lock up the AFC South title.
3 San Francisco 49ers (8-2-1) — So far so good for Kaepernick. Of course, it helps when your defense puts up as many points as you do.
5 New England Patriots (8-3) – They have scored 190 points in the last four games. Can the Patriots offense be stopped?
7 Chicago Bears (8-3) — The Bears made Jay Cutler look like an MVP when they played without him in San Fransisco. After losing six starters to injury against the Vikings, he might have to be the MVP for the Bears to win the NFC North.
9 Green Bay Packers (7-4) – That was an ugly performance against the Giants. The Packers still control their fate in the NFC North with four divisional games still to play.
10 Seattle Seahawks (6-5) – Losing both starting cornerbacks to a four-game suspension would be a serious blow to a team that is tied for the second wild card spot.
11 Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5) – Another loss to the Ravens would put the Steelers’ playoff hopes in serious jeopardy. Will Roethlisberger be able to play?
12 Cincinnati Bengals (6-5) – Three straight wins have Cincinnati back in the playoff hunt. They’ll need to make it four straight this week with some tough teams to close the season.
13 New Orleans Saints (5-6) – They may have to win out to earn a wild card spot. That will be tough with road games at the Falcons, Giants, and Cowboys ahead.
14 Dallas Cowboys (5-6) – The Cowboys already beat Philly. They better do it again or they can kiss the postseason goodbye.
16 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5) – Heading into a meeting with Peyton Manning isn’t the best time to have a cornerback suspended. It could prove costly on Sunday.
17 Minnesota Vikings (6-5) – As if losing three of four isn’t bad enough, the Vikings have the Packers and Bears in the next two weeks.
18 Washington Redskins (5-6) – You think people in Washington are thankful for RGIII? They will be if he gets them back in the NFC East race with a win over the Giants on Monday.
19 Detroit Lions (4-7) – After three losses in a row, the Lions are probably out of it. They have too much talent to be 4-7.
20 Arizona Cardinals (4-7) – Could they go from 4-0 to 4-12. It’s starting to look like it.
21 New York Jets (4-7) – The Jets were outscored 21-0 in less than a minute against New England. That was the worst 52 seconds I can remember. Maybe ever.
22 St. Louis Rams (4-6-1) – They played the Niners to a draw in San Fransisco. Can the Rams do better this week at home?
23 Tennessee Titans (4-7) – Offensive coordinator Chris Palmer’s firing could be a sign of more to come for the disappointing Titans.
24 Miami Dolphins (5-6) – Miami stayed in the wild card discussion by beating Seattle. They won’t stay there with the Patriots and 49ers up next.
27 Buffalo Bills (4-7) – The Bills aren’t getting much return on all the money the spent in the off-season.
28 Philadelphia Eagles (3-8) – The Eagles are the most disappointing team in the NFL.
29 Cleveland Browns (3-8) – They forced eight turnovers against the Steelers. The Browns are making progress.
31 Oakland Raiders (3-8) – The losses are piling up quickly in Oakland. They aren’t even competitive right now.
32 Kansas City Chiefs (1-10) – The Chiefs have a pretty good defense. All they need now is an offense.
October 17, 2012
The NFL season is really beginning to take shape now and parity is running rampant. Everyone has at least one win. Only Atlanta has yet to suffer defeat. Half the teams are at or within one game of .500. Here’s how I have them stacked up:
1 Atlanta Falcons (6-0) — Matty Ice does it again. Ryan led the Falcons on another game-winning drive to remain perfect. Nobody else in the NFC has more than 4 wins.
4 New York Giants (4-2) – The Giants showed why they are the reigning NFC champs in San Francisco. They can create some separation in the NFC East with wins over Washington and Dallas in the next two weeks.
5 San Francisco 49ers (4-2) – The NFC West won’t be as easy as we thought. Next three games all within the division.
9 Seattle Seahawks (4-2) – One of the biggest surprises so far this year. Big test next week in S.F. with division lead on the line.
10 Green Bay Packers (3-3) – That was the Green Bay team we expected to see all season Sunday in Houston. Have they righted the ship?
12 New York Jets (3-3) – The Jets are this years Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde team. Which one shows to to face the Patriots?
13 Dallas Cowboys (2-3) – Cowboys should be desperate for a win against Carolina with Giants, Falcons and Eagles coming up next.
14 Minnesota Vikings (4-2) – Huge game for the Vikings this week. They need to get their wins now with four games against Bears and Packers to come.
15 Washington Redskins (3-3) – The Redskins should be pleased if they can get to 4-4 with trips to the Giants and Steelers up next.
16 Detroit Lions (2-3) – The offense showed up just in the nick of time. Dropping to 1-4 would have severely hampered any remaining playoff hopes.
17 Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) – Changing defensive coordinators may help but it won’t matter if Michael Vick keeps giving the ball away.
18 San Diego Chargers (3-3) – That second half meltdown against the Broncos could be the difference in the AFC West at the end of the season.
19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3) – A 38-10 win is a nice way to come off your bye week. Let’s see how Tampa Bay does against an opponent coming off its bye this week.
20 Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3) – The Steelers have a few extra days of rest heading into a big divisional game in Cincinnati. A loss puts Pittsburgh in a big hole.
22 St. Louis Rams (3-3) – St. Louis will have a hard time getting out of the NFC West cellar. Packers, Patriots and 49ers are the next three. Can you say 3-6?
23 Cincinnati Bengals (3-3) – Blowing that fourth quarter lead against Cleveland could be very costly for the young Bengals.
24 Buffalo Bills (3-3) – The Bills need a win against Tennessee with road games in Houston and New England coming after the bye.
25 Miami Dolphins (3-3) – The Dolphins play very tough on defense. That will keep the rookie quarterback in a lot of games.
26 Oakland Raiders (1-4) – The Raiders looked pretty good but couldn’t close the deal in Atlanta. Schedule gets easier now.
27 Tennessee Titans (2-4) – Nobody gave them a shot to beat Pittsburgh. A loss in Buffalo on Sunday will make the playoffs a longshot.
28 Indianapolis Colts (2-3) – Terrible showing against the Jets. Luckily, Browns are up next.
29 Cleveland Browns (1-5) – Played the Ravens and Giants tough and then beat the Bengals. Browns making progress.
30 Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4) – The Jags have had a long time to dwell on the beat down from Chicago. How will they respond coming out of the bye?
31 Carolina Panthers (1-4) – The Panthers haven’t won in a month. That’s an eternity in NFL time.
32 Kansas City Chiefs (1-5) – The Chiefs have to be the most disappointing team of the season. The schedule doesn’t get any easier either. Long season ahead.