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Gentlemen, Start your Bandwagons!

Gentlemen, Start your Bandwagons!

We’re almost a third of the way through the 2016 NFL season!  For some, that’s a third of the way through a tight-rope act whose successful completion could result in a championship.  For others, it’s a still a long ways until the calendar flips and your teams’ lifeless body is reanimated for the next season.

 

NFC East

  1. Dallas Cowboys:  The Cowboys are on fire.  It’s entirely possible that their offensive line is the most dominant positional group in the league.  Ezekiel Elliot rattled off chunk yardage virtually untouched.  His after burners are impressive as well, and Dak Prescott still has yet to throw an interception.  Dallas is for real with these two leading the charge; the only storm on the horizon is the return of Romo and what Dallas might do with their two quarterbacks.
  2. Philadelphia Eagles:  Philadelphia was bound to lose at some point this season.  Lane Johnson is missing the next 10 games due to PED suspension, so a shuffling at the offensive line begs some questions.  The upcoming slate will be decidedly telling for where the birds stand:  Washington, Minnesota, Dallas, New York.
  3. Washington Redskins:  I feel partially responsible for the 3 game win-streak Washington has stumbled into.  Washingtons offense seems to have no shortage of weapons with the emergence of Jameison Crowder.  Transversely, the secondary seems to be Josh Norman and warm bodies.
  4. New York Giants:  it’s times to come out and say it:  Eli Manning is playing poorly.  I’ve let him off the hook for a while now, but Sunday night was as winnable as any game they’ve played this season.  He missed open receiver after open receiver, air mailing Will Tye on what would have been an easy touchdown.  He was bailed out by another spectacular Odell Beckham touchdown catch.  The lack of depth at defensive line is another disturbing quality of the team–the Giants got gashed on the ground the plays where JPP and Vernon were not in the game.  This might not be a good football team.

NFC South

  1. Atlanta Falcons:  Is Atlanta for real?  Is Matt Ryan for real? You know it.  Atlanta walked into the defending champions building and totally exploited their lone defensive deficiency.  With Carolina losing AGAIN on Monday night, Atlanta might just run away with this division.
  2. New Orleans Saints:  New Orleans comes out of the bye with four of their next five against Carolina, Seattle, Kansas City and Denver.  YIKES.  New Orleans might suffer the fatal blow to their season during this stretch.
  3. Carolina Panthers:  Without Cam Newton Monday night, Carolina again lost in heartbreaking fashion.  If Cam can clear the concussion protocol and get back to a semblance of his old ways, the upcoming schedule looks favorable:  New Orleans, Arizona, Los Angeles, Kansas City, New Orleans.
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  Tampa Bay squeaked out a win against Carolina Monday night in Cam Newton’s absence.  Given how depleted their defense was, they should thank their lucky stars to have avoided the reigning MVP.  I’m still wondering why the selected a kicker in the second round.

NFC North

  1. Minnesota Vikings:  Minnesota is my Super Bowl team right now.  A team with Sam Bradford is a Super Bowl favorite right now.  How insane does that sound?  They have offensive lineman dropping like flies, but thankfully this team is built on suffocating defense.  With the Eagles, Bears, Lions and Redskins coming up, this Vikings team is going to FEAST.
  2. Green Bay Packers:  Not a sharp effort at home from the Packers at all.  They let a bad football team hang around the entire game.  Smarter teams would have been wise to exploit the Packers dearth of capability at cornerback.  The Packers gold-standard run defense gets to throw down with the Cowboys running attack next week.
  3. Detroit Lions:  The most emotion I’ve ever seen out of Jim Caldwell on that fumble recovery Sunday afternoon.  I don’t know enough about the Lions this season to believe they are anything better than last season
  4. Chicago Bears:  The election might be winding down, but the Bears are beginning their campaign against Cleveland for the Office of the Worst Team in Football.  They’re are nothing more than a pseudo-bye at this point.

NFC West

  1. Seattle Seahawks:  Russell Wilson earned my respect by gutting out an MCL sprain against the Jets before the bye.  Even I wouldn’t of missed the opportunity to pad my passing stats.  Now Seattle gets real, with games against the Falcons, Cardinals, Bills and Patriots upcoming.  This is where their defense has made their money.
  2. Los Angeles Rams:  I sincerely do no understand the Rams.  They can beat Seattle, they can beat Arizona, but they can’t beat Buffalo?  The only team that may be more undisciplined than the Rams came to Los Angeles and stuck it to the Rams.
  3. Arizona Cardinals:  Lucky for the redbirds, Carson Palmer missed a game against the 49ers.  This team needs to get it figured out fast though–first place schedules usually do not get any easier.
  4. San Francisco 49ers:  Colin Kapernick and his disdain for standing is the only thing keeping this team relevant.  He’ll start this week against a red-hot Buffalo Bills team.

 

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots:  We didn’t learn anything about the Patriots though their burning of the Browns other than Brady likes his new toys.  This team could win 15 games easily.
  2. Buffalo Bills:  Add me to the list of people that did not believe firing the offensive coordinator– on a team that gave up 50 in their first two games–would make a difference.  Wouldn’t it have been interesting if Rex fired Rob?  I imagine it happening in a  way similar to how John Travolta’s character in Swordfish has the duplicate body–he inserts it into an explosion to fake his own death and make every detractor of his think the issue is resolved.  Meanwhile, the real issue is still Rex, even though the Bills are on fire right now.
  3. New York Jets:  Be sure to take the Jets out with the rest of the trash.  The Steelers receivers against the Jets secondary is a mismatch similar to Mike Tyson vs Christian Bale in The Machinest
  4. Miami Dolphins:  Miami is a laughable disaster.  Not even Adam Gase, someone who steadied Jay Cutler’s ship last season, is capable of saving Ryan Tannehill.  Does anyone actually believe that Laremy Tunsil slipped getting out of the shower?

AFC South

  1. Houston Texans:  We love to jab at the NFC East for the low-quality winners it produces, but Houston should be celebrated the same way if they win the division this season.
  2. Tennessee Titans:  Marcus Mariota is quietly turning into one of the league’s most exciting players to watch.  Given the quality of their division, I would not rule them out of contention.
  3. Indianapolis Colts: Chuck Pagano’s doomsday clock stalls as the Colts barely survive lowly Chicago.  I think it comes down to “when not if” as far as the Grigson/Pagano dismissal is concerned.
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars:  Bears, Raiders and Titans coming up?  Someone needs to flip the switch for all of Jacksonville’s big acquisitions.

AFC North

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers:  The Steel City’s passing attack is amazing to watch.  They are beginning to pull away from the rest of the division.
  2. Baltimore Ravens:  The Ravens match up this week with another two who started 2-0 but has found themselves in the midst of a losing streak since.  Baltimore was almost a cause for the Giants last week too, but Breshad Perriman wasn’t able to keep both feet in at the end of regulation.
  3. Cincinnati Bengals:  The Bengals got absolutely destroyed by Dallas.  28-0 at one point.  That loss might just be the tip of the iceberg for the Bengals–they have the dubious distinction of traveling to Foxboro this week, where the Patriots haven’t lost to an AFC opponent in any game Brady has started and finished since 2005.  I have a feeling Brady will play 60 minutes too.
  4. Cleveland Browns:  I have to believe that Hue Jackson is in it for the long haul.  Chicago is pushing hard for the Bad Team Belt, but I think Cleveland clinched that before kickoff of week one.

AFC West

  1. Denver Broncos:  Did you think I would be saying “The Broncos need Trevor Siemian back” before the season started?  Denver is a contender with the Northwestern product, but if he’s out for an extended period, Lynch needs to step up.  I would assume that the Broncos held out on starting Siemian last week because of the short turn-around against the Chargers, a team who stands mathematical zero chance against Denver.
  2. Oakland Raiders:  Derek Carr and his stable of receivers are FUN to watch.  I absolutely love when a defensive minded coach has a defense that stinks too.  Del Rio has a little bit of that Rex Ryan shtick about him, except his outfit game is en fuego and his balls can’t fit in any modern American home.
  3. Kansas City Chiefs:  nothing like a bye week to contemplate getting two weeks work of points scored on you before halftime of your previous game.  This team could be 1-7 and their playoff odds would be the same as if they were up 10 in the fourth quarter with Andy Reid trying to milk the clock.
  4. San Diego Chargers:  the Chargers STINK.  McCoy has a seat at the train station with Chuck Pagano.

Who Can Win it All?

  1. New England:  needs no introduction, this Patriots team is loaded.  They went 3-1 and now have the greatest quarterback of all time returning to the lineup.   Their two tight end sets in the redzone will be unstoppable.
  2. Minnesota:  The Vikings defense is on a legendary pace.  There is still a little voice in my head whispering to my common sense regarding Sam Bradford, but for now they are the class of the NFC.
  3. Pittsburgh:  “How will Pittsburgh supplement the loss of Martavis Bryant?”  Sammy Coates. Markus Wheaton. Warm Body off the streets.  This team breeds playmakers.
  4. Dallas:  their offensive line is one of the most dominating units in football.  Their unstoppable run game meets Green Bay’s immovable run defense.
  5. Atlanta:  The leagues number one offense has been down this road before, last time they crumbled down the stretch.
  6. Denver:  the defending champs have begun their potential encore season with a 5-1 record.  Siemian has been wonderful for the Broncos, as has Gary Kubiak, so getting back both will be huge.
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Some Crazy Facts about Steven Adams

Some Crazy Facts about Steven Adams

The Oklahoma City Thunder play a pivotal game 5 against the San Antonio Spurs tonight. The Thunder, underdogs in this series, won last time out to even the series at 2-2. One of the, quite literally, biggest reasons they have played so well in this series has been the emergence of big man, Steven Adams, at the center position. Adams, who attended the University of Pittsburgh and played for Jamie Dixon there, has had one of the more unusual paths to the NBA.

Here are some things you may not know about Steven Adams. These are all 100% true.


 

Steven Adams is 22 Years Old

Yes, the man pictured here:

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Is only 22 years old. To put that in perspective, he is the same age as Dakota Fanning. If Steven Adams dated Dakota Fanning they would be the same age. If Steven Adams ate Dakota Fanning, they would still be the sa…


HE IS THE YOUNGEST OF 18 CHILDREN (and was “in” a gang)

This one is even more remarkable than the last. His father, Sid, was 6 foot 11 inches tall and had children with 5 women. Steven was the youngest of 18 and remembers being bullied growing up. As a result of this, Steven quit school when he was younger and joined a gang called “The Mongrol Mob”. He was never fully sworn into the gang, Steven says, because their initiation was “too violent”. This seems like a good time to remind everyone that this is an entirely non-fiction article. The Mongrol Mob is a ridiculous name.


His Male Siblings average a height of 6’9″ and his Female Siblings 6’0″

Apparently they are noted in New Zealand as a family for their exceptional height and athleticism. Out of the 18 children, the males averaging a height of 6 foot 9 is, like, jaw dropping. The females being 6 feet tall is no joke either. Plus there are EIGHTEEN OF THEM. That’s a Mongrol Mob in itself am’i’rite?


His sister is a 2x Olympic Gold Medalist

His sister, Valerie Adams, is a 2 time gold medalist and 4 time world record holder in the shotput. Also, worth noting that his brother, Sid, plays in the NZNBL as a professional basketball player. For those of you who do not know the intricacies of world basketball well enough to know what that is, it is the New Zealand Basketball League.


He eats five meals a day and loves BINGO

These two are courtesy of an ESPN article I remember reading a year or so ago, that I am unable to locate. Basically, the dude is as big and lovable as you would expect a 7 footer from New Zealand (no? you didn’t expect that?). He has a heart of gold despite his irritant style of play, comes from a massive family, and plays hard. He enjoys BINGO in his spare time, takes teammates to public games to play with him, and just… enjoys it? Crazy, I know, but in the end it’s probably the least shocking thing about him.

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Causeway Street — Episode 40

Causeway Street — Episode 40

After being down 2-0 to the Hawks, the Celtics respond in Games 3 & 4 back in Boston to even their best of seven series 2-2. We recap one of the best weekends in C’s playoff history as Brad Stevens tweaked his starting lineup while Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart had career postseason performances in each win. We also preview Game 5 down in Atlanta, and does Jae Crowder need to score in order to get a win on the road? Plus we take a trip around the NBA as two key injuries could change the overall landscape out West going forward. All of this and much more in this episode of the Causeway Street Podcast.

 

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Why have the NBA Playoff’s been so bad?

Why have the NBA Playoff’s been so bad?

The NBA Playoffs have been a pretty big disappointment thus far. No hiding it or sugar coating it, it’s been pretty bad. Void of epic back-and-forth series, and filled with plenty of this:

So, as a result, Matt and Mikey took the time to break down a few things that have happened thus far in the NBA Playoffs. The categories are

  • Series that Disappointed the Most
  • Player that Disappointed
  • Biggest Surprise
  • What You are Looking Forward to Most in Round 2 

Without Further ado:


Series That Disappointed the Most

Matt: Dallas/OKC: The NBA had so much to benefit from the Dallas/OKC series. If Dallas won, or at least took it to 7, then the dominoes would start to fall. Durant rumors would coincide perfectly with the emergence of this season’s overachievers (Boston, Portland). Picture this scenario: Dallas upsets OKC and that same night Portland beats LA and Boston wins a game 7 in Atlanta. There are a few “what ifs” in that scenario but it actually looked plausible for a moment. Overnight, the Cs and Jailblazers become legitimate threats to steal KD in free agency. Instead, Westbrook had to do Westbrook things and absolutely smoke Carlisle and the boys. I thought this series was going to be competitive, it had upset written all over it. A genius coach helps an aging star make one final stand against the new kids on the block. It sounds too good to be true. And it was.

Mikey: Portland/LAC: I know it’s a little weird to say that one of the only series currently knotted at 2-2 has been the biggest disappointment, but this one certainly has IMO. Damian Lillard, whom I have lauded before, has disappointed me in the sense that he hasn’t taken a strangle-hold on the series thus far. I expected a playoff version of Dame and McCollum to be world beaters and announce their presence by demanding we watch them via 30+ point shooting outbursts. That just has not been the case. Couple THAT with a less-than-100% Blake Griffin (who can barely get off the ground and is now injured), Chris Paul announcing he will miss the remainder of the playoffs with a broken hand, and Deandre Jordan’s inadequacy from the line… and you have a horrible series. Oh, and Austin Rivers will be the point guard going forward. Blazers in 6, and good riddance to the Clippers as we know them.

 

Player that Disappointed:

(c) Nick Turchiaro
(c) Nick Turchiaro

Mikey: Demar Derozan: I mean, come on man.

FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG BLKPG TOPG PPG
2015-16 Regular Season 45% 34% 85% 4.5 4 0.3 2.2 23.5
2015-16 Postseason 30% 0% 73% 3.5 3.3 0 3.3 13.3

What these stats show me is that Demar Derozan of the Toronto Raptors is not a playoff guy. That’s going to cost him SO much money if this does not turn around QUICK. The biggest issue, other than Paul George being on him every night, is his inability to attack the basket and get to the free throw line. Couple that with a cold streak from outside (see 0% from 3 this postseason) and you have a recipe for disaster. I like Derozan, I don’t like the fact he is playing himself out of money. He needs to pick it up, get Toronto to the next round, and get to the damn basket in the process.

 

Matt: Steve Kerr. Do former players count here? Why not. Steph Curry is not injury prone however, he has injury history. When he got hurt in game 1 of this series, I wasn’t really concerned. I thought, “Hey, the Dubs will just rest him until the semis, he’ll come back fresh and ready to go.” But then he played. And he got hurt, again. Bad. Steve Kerr and the Warriors management have all the responsibility for this one. Golden State would have beaten this excuse for a playoff team with or without Curry. No one actually gave Houston a chance even when Curry went down in the opener. Therefore, there was no reason to play Curry. The whole “rhythm” theory…simply stupid. I’m not a gambling man but I would be willing to bet that the best shooter in league history would find a way to get his rhythm back after he sat a handful of games. Steve Kerr threw away his title hopes because he wanted to beat the Rockets in 5 instead of 6. Let that sink in.

 

Biggest Surprise 

Matt: Brad Stevens Coaching: The coaching during the game 4 Cs/Hawks series. Not too many coaches would think to put the 6’4” Marcus Smart on 6’8” Paul Millsap. But Brad Stevens did and it won the Celtics game 4. Smart shut down Millsap in the 4th and OT, which essentially stymied the entire Atlanta offense. Stevens also had the gall to put Jerekbo in the starting lineup and it has paid off immensely. The two final plays in regulation of game 4 were representative of the way this series has shifted. Stevens drew up a simple, yet effective Smart/Thomas pick and roll, defying conventional pick and roll personnel protocol. Then Budenholzer drew up a play that saw Korver run off an off the ball P&R. The first option failed and it looked as though Budenholzer forgot to implement a second option. Stevens has made adjustments reminiscent of Pop, Carlisle and Rivers. I knew he was good, but this good? Wow. Game 5 will be one for the ages.

Mikey: Charlotte Hornets: I was praying to the many faced God that the Celtics wound up with Charlotte instead of Atlanta in the first round as a fan of Boston myself. I thought that Charlotte, filled with the best college basketball players Jordan could find, was a cake walk. I was really really really wrong about this team. They have something pretty special down in Charlotte. The energy in the building, the electricity that Kemba Walker plays with, and the surprising emergence of Frank Kaminsky have the buzz really…. buzzing. If they get past Miami, which is looking like a possibility, they have a chance at defeating whomever emerges from the Indiana/Toronto matchup. I like the East for its parity this year.

 

What am I looking forward to most in Round 2:

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Matt: Kevin Durant: KD has a little nastiness in his game. He is one of the few players in the league who doesn’t really care if he is best friends with you. I like that, too. So for this series, I took an online class under Dr. Bill Simmons in Body Language 104. If KD is the competitive MVP we know him to be, then OKC management can take a breath. It means he is dedicated to the club and focused solely on winning a championship for this season. Yet, if he is even remotely friendly/respectful to Kawhi, then it’s time to hit the panic button. The Spurs are my sleeper pick for KD this summer. He has college roots in Texas and if you want to win a title, what better place to go? A competitive KD is one who is dedicated to OKC. At least for another year. Still, watch for how KD responds to The Claw and his defensive prowess. If this series plays in favor of the Spurs (which I think it will), then my eyes will be even more glued to KD. During game 7, when it is clear that the Spurs will take the series, Russ will be devastated. KD on the other hand, may walk off with a demeanor that does not quite match his superstar teammates. If that is the case, then get ready for a wild NBA offseason.

Mikey: Steph Curry: Okay, so I am not a Steph Curry fan. I just don’t like him. I don’t know what it is, if you ask me to explain it I will ask you why you don’t like carrots or whatever weird shit you don’t like personally. I thought Patrick Beverly would do some shady shit and Steph would end up injured, and it half happened that way. Now, the biggest storyline in professional sports for the next 2 weeks that is not about deflated footballs will be the knee of Steph Curry and when he can return to action. I think they can win a difficult series with Portland (or the corpse of LAC) but they need him back for whoever comes out of that unbelievable OKC/Spurs series that should be one for the ages. In 2 weeks time we will see Steph again according to team doctors and all initial reports. But, the most intriguing thing to watch moving forward through these playoffs is whether or not we will actually see the Steph we saw in the regular season again.

by Mikey and Matt

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