The NBA trade deadline has come and gone and seen 39 players traded at the deadline, most ever, so it’s time to recap the important and notable trades and how they impact the race for the playoffs.
Celtics acquire point guard Isaiah Thomas from Suns in three team trade
My hometown Celtics got in the trade deadline chaos by sending Tayshaun Prince to the Pistons and Marcus Thornton to the Suns in exchange for point guard Isaiah Thomas. I really like this move because it gives the Celtics a good young point guard that can score and also has some experience in the league playing with Sacramento and Phoenix. After losing Rondo, and the plan being for Marcus Smart to be a back up for his rookie season, and the point guard of the future later on, Thomas can thrive in this role with a young roster and a good coach who will motivate him. With Boston only 1.5 games out of the 8th spot, this move could also vault them into the playoffs.
Miami acquires guard Goran Dragic from Suns
It was no surprise that Dragic was traded at the deadline, the only question was which team he would go to. With Chris Bosh potentially gone for the season, and Dwayne Wade always at risk of injury, Dragic provides a scoring threat in the backcourt for a team that currently holds the 8th spot. Not to be outdone, younger brother Zoran Dragic was also acquired in the trade by Miami, although he doesn’t figure to play as much of a role. Also involved in this trade was Danny Granger going to Phoenix and Norris Cole going to new Orleans.
Brandon Knight to Phoenix, Michael Carter-Williams to Milwaukee in 3 team deal
Phoenix continues to make moves, this time as the buyer and not the seller, by acquiring point guard Brandon Knight from Milwaukee, while the Sixers ship away reigning rookie of the year MCW. I like this move for Milwaukee, essentially upgrading at point guard with younger talent with more potential, as they battle for playoff position in the East. Meanwhile, Philly has revamped their quest to acquire yet another Top 3 pick this summer.
Denver trades shooting guard Aaron Afflalo to Portland Trail Blazers
I think this is a great move for the Trail Blazers as they try to upgrade in an already competitive Western Conference playoff scenario. Afflalo teams up with Damian Lillard in the backcourt to complement a frontcourt with all-star Lamarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez. Denver picks up Thomas Robinson and Will Barton on the other end.
Kevin Garnett returns to Minnesota
This trade won’t affect the playoff scenario in any way, but has to be mentioned as a cool story as Kevin Garnett goes back to his home town Timberwolves where he made several all-star appearances and won an MVP. Retiring with Minnesota will be a nice end to Hall of Fame career.
For the rest of the trades check out the following link: http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/page/tradetracker/nba-trade-tracker-2015
Super Bowl XLIX will go down as one of the most dramatic, epic games in NFL history. From a pure football standpoint, it was an all time classic in a clash of two great teams that came down to the very end. However, the significance of the Patriot’s win goes far beyond just a Super Bowl championship, it solidifies unfinished business for one of the greatest modern day dynasties in professional sports.
Winning three Super Bowls in a four year span from 2001-2004 put the New England Patriots on the map as the team of the decade during the 2000’s. With a coach/quarterback combination that had so much success in their first couple of years, it was assumed that more championships were to follow. It was only a matter of time before they cemented their place in history. Like most things in life, though, it never comes easy. The Patriots continued to make the playoffs year after year and break record after record along the way, but couldn’t get over that final hump. Making things even tougher was that the whole world outside of New England wanted to see them fail.
The first significant outcome of this game is that it finally settles the Brady vs. Manning debate and solidifies Brady as the greatest ever. For years, this debate would rage on and simplified to the quarterback with the better regular season stats and passing records against the quarterback with the better postseason stats and winning records. Peyton Manning has the most one and done’s (9) in NFL history, and has been favored in 8 of them. Manning also has the most postseason losses (13) in NFL history, and a Super Bowl record of 1-2. Brady has the most postseason wins (21) in NFL history, the most Super Bowl appearances in NFL history (6), tied for the most Super Bowl wins (4), and tied for the most Super Bowl MVPs (3). As for regular season stats, Brady is just as good with a 50 touchdown season (2nd all-time), two regular season MVP awards, 392 career touchdown passes (4th all time), over 53,000 passing yards (5th all time), 160 wins as a starter (3rd all time) and a 0.773 winning percentage (#1 all time). He has gotten it done time after time with several different supporting casts, mediocre receivers, awful defenses, injuries, and in the clutch.
The second significant outcome of this game was cementing Bill Belichick’s legacy as the greatest coach of all time. Belichick tied Chuck Knoll for the most Super Bowl wins for a head coach with his fourth. He has 233 career wins, good for fourth all time, and 22 postseason wins which ranks as the most by a coach in NFL history. His 6 Super Bowl appearances tie Don Shula for most all time while his 9 Super Bowl appearances as a coach at any level are the most in NFL history. Belichick’s 12 division titles are the most all-time, and he is the only coach to win 11 division titles in a 12 year span. In addition, he is the only coach to win 3 Super Bowls in a four year span.
Finally, the Patriot’s fourth Super Bowl championship establishes their position on the Mount Rushmore of NFL dynasties, alonside San Francisco, Dallas, and Pittburgh. Are they the greatest dynasty ever? Well that depends on your timespan definition of dynasty.
And the most impressive part of all this? It’s not over.
Sunday, February 1 at 6:30 PM on NBC: #1 New England Patriots (-1) vs. #1 Seattle Seahawks
The stage is set for the biggest game of the year as the AFC champion Patriots meet the NFC champion Seahawks down in Glendale, Arizona in a battle for the Vince Lombardi trophy. There are several storylines surrounding this year’s Super Bowl: accusations of tampering with footballs, Bill Belichick succeeding Pete Caroll as the Patriots head coach, Revis vs. Sherman, Browner facing his old team, a potential repeat champion facing the last team to repeat, and most importantly the opportunity for Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Patriots to cement themselves as the greatest NFL dynasty.
The key for the Patriots is to get in rhythm early. Establish the run with Legarrette Blount, even if the ground game isn’t working, to set up play action and short passes that will enable the Patriots offense to play up tempo and pick apart the Seahawks defense. Although the Patriots have preferred to get the ball to start the second half, I think they need to receive the opening kickoff if they get the chance here. Gronk and Edelman will be key, but they will also be the main focus for the Seahawks so it will be important for Lafell, Amendola, and Vereen to make key plays, especially on third down. For the defense, the focus will be on containing Marshawn Lynch and keeping Russell Wilson in the pocket. The secondary should be able to handle the likes of Baldwin and Kearse, but there’s only so much they can do if Wilson is consistently extending plays.
The key for Seattle is the same as for anyone who plays the Patriots. They will have to get pressure on Tom Brady and disrupt the rhthym of the offense. Taking away the short passes on third down and shutting down Gronk in the red zone will be important as well. The secondary needs to be alert at all times, several runs and quick passes can make you more tempted to blitz but every once in awhile there will be a play action deep pass on single-covered receiever so the secondary needs to prevent big plays. Obviously, Wilson will need to play a lot better than he did in the NFC championship. Part of how he will do this is if Lynch gets going on the ground early. That allows the Seahawks to run read-option plays where Wilson will often keep it and confuse the defense.
I am not going to make a prediction this time, instead I’ll leave that up to you in the poll down below.
As always, thanks to everyone who read this post.
There is no doubt that 2014 was an incredible year in a lot of ways. Some personal highlights for me include Red Sox opening day, ServeUp in Tampa, graduating from Bryant, vacationing in Las Vegas, and starting my full-time job, just to name a few. Here is just a tiny glimpse of what the year was like in pictures.
The NFL’s version of the Final Four has arrived as the two #1 seeds in each conference will try to meet in the Super Bowl for the second straight year.
Sunday, January 18th at 3:20 PM: #2 Green Bay Packers at #1 Seattle Seahawks (-7.5)
One of the final three games of this NFL season will be a rematch of the very first game of the season. Seattle easily beat Green Bay in the first matchup, but both teams have had their ups and downs since then. Green Bay was able to squeak by Dallas on a controversial overturn of Dez Bryant’s fourth down catch, while the Seahawks haven’t been tested yet having only faced a losing Carolina team. This will be a matchup of the NFL’s top scoring offense (GB 30.4 PPG) against the top scoring defense (SEA 15.9 PPG). Seattle has two advantages in this game besides their defense and playing at home. Aaron Rodgers has struggled since suffering a calf tear and the Packers have not played well on the road this season, going just 4-4. Eddie Lacy is going to have to step up for Green Bay to create some sort of running attack and keep the Seahawks secondary honest so that Rodgers doesn’t face many blitzes. Even then, it may not be enough. Green Bay +7.5, Seattle straight up.
Sunday, January 18th at 6:40 PM: #4 Indianapolis Colts at #1 New England Patriots (-6.5)
Just like the first game, this game will also feature a matchup in which the home team destroyed the underdog during the regular season. In fact, since Andrew Luck joined the league in 2012, the Patriots have outscored the Colts 144-66 in three games including the playoff game last year, all of which have been wins. The Patriots come in to this game off a hard fought victory over Baltimore while Indy pulled the upset over a reeling Denver squad. If not for past history, you could make a case for this being a close game with two division winners and two great quarterbacks. However, it’s hard to see how the Colts will win this game after getting blown out three straight times. The Patriots will have to be aware of screens out of the backfield with Colts RB Daniel Herron, which will effectively serve as their run game. They will also need to keep Luck in the pocket to prevent him from extending plays and finding deep threats Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton. Finally, the Patriots need to keep an eye on Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener in the middle. Tight ends in the seam have given the Patriots problems this year. New England -6.5 and straight up.
Regardless of the outcome of this game, the inaugural college football playoff has already been declared a huge success. Had the old system been in place, we would be preparing for Alabama vs. Florida State, but instead we have Oregon vs. Ohio State in North Texas on January 12 in what should be a thrilling game to watch.
Ohio State continues to roll despite losing their top two quarterbacks for the season. Third string QB Cardale Jones has stepped in and was impressive in a win against Alabama in the semifinal. Running back Ezekiel Elliot gashed the Crimson Tide’s defense while star linebacker Joey Bosa and the Buckeyes defense held Blake Sims and Amare Cooper in check. Coach Urban Meyer will try to win his third national championship after winning two at Florida in 2006 and 2008.
The Oregon Ducks dismantled defending national champion Florida State by putting up 59 points behind Heisman trophy winner Marcus Mariota. Oregon’s offense is capable of scoring at lightning quick speeds, although a storyline to keep an eye on will be the impact of missing suspended wide receiver Darren Carrington. Oregon will try to win its first national championship after losing its only other appearance to Auburn in 2010.
There will also be a lot on the line for each of these conferences as well. After a string of SEC teams winning the national championship, followed by an ACC team last year, Ohio State from the Big Ten and Oregon from the Pac 12 will have a chance to return their conferences to the ultimate glory. Clearly Oregon has an advantage at quarterback with Mariota, but I don’t think Jones is that far behind. In addition, I give the edge to Ohio State for the ground game, defense, and most importantly coaching. I believe the Buckeyes will pull the upset and deliver a championship to the state of Ohio. Final Score: Ohio State 29, Oregon 25.
If you are a betting man, hopefully you steered clear of my 0-4 against the spread picks last week. However, just like a quarterback needs short memory after throwing an interception, I will have short memory and keep on making picks. Here is my preview and predictions for the divisional round of the playoffs.
Saturday, January 10 at 4:35 PM: #6 Baltimore Ravens at #1 New England Patriots (-7)
Everyone is talking about the three playoff games between these two teams in the last five years, and how the Ravens always play well against the Patriots in Foxborough. People seem to forget that since the last time these teams clashed in the playoffs, Baltimore suffered a 41-7 beatdown at home last season en route to missing the playoffs, and no longer have several key players from their championship run including Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Ray Rice, and Anquan Boldin. This year, they backed into the playoffs after the Chargers faltered and beat a Pittsburgh team without its best player in Leveon Bell. The Patriots secondary is much improved and prepared to deal with the deep threats of Torrey Smith and Steve Smith Sr, while the Ravens secondary has been weak at times. Baltimore’s pass rush with Suggs and Dumervil can create pressure on the defense side, and Forsett has proved a valuable weapon in the ground game, but Flacco has only had an average season at best. I think the Patriots will win this game, but can’t see it being decided by more than 7 points. Baltimore +7
Saturday, January 10 at 8:15 PM: #4 Carolina Panthers at #1 Seattle Seahawks (-10.5)
These teams clashed in Carolina earlier in the season with the Seahawks pulling out a hard fought 13-9 victory. I would be surprised if the result were much different this weekend in Seattle. These are two of the hottest defenses right now and these teams have been in close low scoring battles in each of the last three years. Kuechly and Davis lead a Panthers defense that set a playoff record for fewest yards allowed against the Cardinals, while Seattle’s defense appears to have returned to championship form. This matchup also features two similar quarterbacks with Cam Newton and Russell Wilson, in that they are both dual threat quarterbacks who were #1 and #2 in the league in rushing touchdowns this season. The advantage for the Seahawks lies with Marshawn Lynch and the ground game. Seattle will need a balanced attack to keep the Panthers linebackers off balance, while the Panthers could fall victim to blitzes early if they become one dimensional. The Seahawks will win, but the Panthers will at least stay within striking distance in a low-scoring defensive battle. Carolina +10.5
Sunday, January 11 at 1:05 PM: #3 Dallas Cowboys at #2 Green Bay Packers (-5.5)
Two of the most historic franchises meet in Lambeau as MVP candidates Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers battle for a trip to the NFC Championship. This has the potential for most entertaining game of the weekend, with stars everywhere on both sides. Demarco Murray, Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten against Eddie Lacy, Jordy Nelson, and Randall Cobb. A Cowboys team that was a perfect 8-0 on the road against a Packers team that was a perfect 8-0 at home. This might be an obvious statement, but I think this game will come down to quarterback play, simply because of the uncertainty revolving around injuries to both guys. Romo has had problems with his back, while Rodgers is battling a calf tear. With two prolific offensive attacks, neither one can afford to get off to a slow start. I like the Cowboys in this game. There are too many people expecting Dallas to choke in the playoffs, but this is a different Cowboys team and I’ve been riding the wave ever since I predicted them to win the division in the preseason. I’ll take Dallas outright with the points as a bonus. Dallas +5.5
Sunday, January 11 at 4:40 PM: #4 Indianapolis Colts at #2 Denver Broncos (-7)
This may be the most intriguing game for obvious reasons: Peyton Manning faces his former team in the playoffs for the first time after a 1-1 record against them in the regular season. Andrew Luck has an MVP type season while Manning had a great year despite a sluggish finish to the season. The emergence of C.J. Anderson and the Broncos rushing attack has helped them become a more balanced offense and helped cover up some of Manning’s late season struggles. The same can’t be said of the Colt’s run game, which is pretty much nonexistent. The key for Indianapolis is to shut down the ground game early and test Peyton’s supposedly fatigued arm against their secondary. Neither quarterback has had much playoff success lately, but I think the Colts will come out firing early and often and eventually hang on for the upset as Peyton adds yet another one and done to his legacy. Indianapolis +7
Thanks to everyone who read this blog, let me know who you think will win in the comments down below.
The 2014 NFL regular season had concluded and the playoffs are officially under way. Here is my preview and predictions for the first four playoff games on Wild Card Weekend.
Saturday, January 3 at 4:35 PM: #5 Arizona Cardinals (+6) at #4 Carolina Panthers
If there is one game that most clearly reveals the flaws in the NFL playoff structure, it’s this one. The Arizona Cardinals, who had the best record in the league for a large part of the season and finished with 11 wins, will have to play on the road against a Panthers team with just 7 wins and a losing record. This should be a low scoring battle since both teams have great defenses, and not much star power on the offensive side. Cam Newton has been injured and inconsistent this season, and with an extremely good Arizona secondary the Panthers will have to establish some sort of a run game with Jonathan Stewart to allow Cam Newton time to throw the ball on pass plays. Third string quarterback Ryan Lindley will be starting again for the Cardinals, and will need to rely on big plays from Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd to gain yardage on offense. Arizona +6
Saturday, January 3 at 8:15 PM: #6 Baltimore Ravens (+3) at #3 Pittsburgh Steelers
Bitter rivals clash in Pittsburgh for the rubber game of the season series in what could be the most entertaining matchup of the weekend. The Steelers and Ravens have met in the playoffs 4 times, all in Pittsburgh, with the Steelers winning three out of four. Once a rivalry based on defense, running, and close games, the 2014 version of the Steelers Ravens rivalry is much different. Ben Roethlisberger has quietly had an MVP type season with nearly 5000 yards passing and Antonio Brown posted the second most catches in NFL history with 129 this year. Complemented with stud running back Leveon Bell, the Steelers have the second best offense in the NFL in terms of yardage. The Ravens have also been stronger on the offensive side this year, since their defense and secondary in particular has been weak. Steve Smith has provided a huge boost while Justin Forsett has filled in nicely following the Ray Rice debacle. These teams traded 20 point blowouts on their home turfs, but in the last month of the season the Ravens have struggled against Cleveland, Jacksonville, and Houston while the Steelers have won 4 straight. This game will be closer than 20 points, but Roethlisberger will shred the Ravens secondary. Pittsburgh -3
Sunday, January 4 at 1:05 PM: #5 Cincinnati Bengals (+3.5) at #4 Indianapolis Colts
This matchup features a pair of quarterbacks with something to prove in the playoffs. Andy Dalton looks to lead the Bengals to their first playoff win in over a decade after going one and done three straight years, while Andrew Luck has 8 interceptions in his three playoff starts with a 1-2 record. These teams met in Indy during the regular season with the Colts crushing the Bengals 27-0. The Colts will be at home again but Cincinnati’s defense is getting healthier and they have been playing better as of late, most notably a huge prime time win over Denver. Andrew Luck has had an MVP caliber season for the Colts, but the lack of a running game has made the offense rather one sided. If Andy Dalton can avoid making critical turnovers, than I think Cincinnati’s defense can slow down Luck enough to make this a close game. Cincinnati +3.5
Sunday, January 4 at 4:40 PM: #6 Detroit Lions (+7) at #3 Dallas Cowboys
Two franchises desperately seeking a playoff win after failures and falling short of expectations in recent years will meet in Big D looking to prove themselves. The Detroit Lions fell just short of clinching the NFC North with a loss to the Packers, while the Cowboys finally won a division title after losing it to each of the other three division opponents on the final weekend in the last three years. Tony Romo, Demarco Murray, Dez Bryant and the rest of the Cowboys are red hot as they enter the playoffs. The Cowboys posted an 8-0 record on the road this year, including a win at defending champion Seattle. The offensive line is healthy and ready to go, while the defense is much improved over last season. One very interesting matchup to watch will be the NFL’s best running back in Demarco Murray against the top-ranked run defense of Detroit. On the other hand, Dallas’ secondary will have to find a way to slow down star wide receiver Calvin Johnson. The Lions not having defensive lineman Suh (update: suspension overturned, will play) or Fairley will not bode well against a strong Cowboys offensive line. Dallas -7
Let me know your playoff picks in the comments down below.
Thanks for reading,
January 1, 2015 marks the beginning of the first ever NCAA Division I college football playoff. Up until this point, the #1 and #2 ranked teams at the end of the season would have the only chance to compete in the national championship. Beginning this year, the national champion will be decided by a four team playoff in which two of the BCS Bowls will act as semifinal games. The participants in the inaugural college football playoff are #1 Alabama, #2 Oregon, #3 Florida State, and #4 Ohio State.
#3 Florida State (+9) vs. #2 Oregon in the Rose Bowl (Saturday, January 1 at 5:00 PM)
Defending national champion and undefeated ACC champion Florida State enters the semifinal as only the #3 seed, and a nine point underdog to the Pac 12 champion Oregon Ducks. 2013 Heisman winner Jameis Winston leads the Seminoles against this year’s Heisman winner Marcus Mariota and the Ducks. After blowing the doors off everyone en route to a championship last year, Florida State has played in several close games this year and have one of the lowest margins of victory for an undefeated team ever. Even so, Florida State has not lost a game since 2012 and continues to find a way to win. Oregon’s lone loss this season came against the Arizona Wildcats back in October, but the Ducks have been rolling since then.
A key matchup to watch for in this game will be Florida State’s defense, which has bailed them out several times this season, against Oregon’s offense, which has continued to light up the scoreboard after the departure of Chip Kelly to the NFL. Jameis Winston will have to get off to a good start in this game; early turnovers will be fatal against an Oregon team that can score in seconds. I love Florida State +9 in this game. I think they are getting no respect because of all the close wins they had season, but this team keeps finding a way to win and I think they will pull the upset and win this game outright as well.
#4 Ohio State (+9) vs #1 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl (Saturday, January 1 at 8:30 PM)
The second semifinal features a pair of coaches who are very familiar with each other from the days when they both coached in the SEC. Nick Saban leads perennial powerhouse and SEC champion Alabama against former Florida head coach Urban Meyer and the Big Ten champion Buckeyes. The Crimson Tide’s lone loss this season came against a very good Ole Miss team, while Ohio State’s loss to a bad Virginia Tech team early in the season nearly kept them out of the playoff.
Quarterback Blake Sims has picked up right where A.J. McCarron left off, with the help of wide receiver Amare Cooper, who set SEC records for career receiving yards and touchdowns on his way to being a Heisman finalist. On the other side, Ohio State will depend on third string quarterback Cardale Jones after losing star QB Braxton Miller at the beginning of the season and backup J.T. Barrett against Michigan just a few weeks ago. I think the spread on this game is again too large. Ohio State has shown that they have enough playmakers on offense to win no matter who is at quarterback, and Alabama doesn’t have quite the NFL-like defense it has had in recent national championship years. I think this game is very close but Alabama wins by 3 to 7 points.
Who will play in the national championship this year? Vote in the poll down below.
Thanks to everyone who read this post. Please like the post if you enjoyed reading, comment if you have feedback, and share with others.
There has certainly been a lot that has changed since the last time I celebrated Thanksgiving. I’ve moved on from the college life to working a full time job, and many of my friends have done the same. Therefore, reflecting on what I am thankful for this year has been different in years past.
I have always been proud of the fact that I worked extremely hard to succeed in college and obtain a very good job without taking any shortcuts or having anything handed to me along the way. That being said, there were still many things out of my control in order to make everything work out that I can’t help but appreciate. I’m thankful for my parents who allowed me to live at home after I didn’t find an apartment to move to in Boston. I’m thankful that they allow me to use one of their cars to commute to the train each morning, and I’m thankful that my mom makes me healthy meals every day.
I’m thankful for my coworkers and the company I work for. No matter how much effort and hard work I put in, I could not succeed without the patience and encouragement of my manager, the kindness and friendliness of my coworkers, and the overall mentality of a company that I think truly values trying to make a difference in the world. I’m thankful to have the opportunity to work in the great city of Boston, a place I’ve been familiar with my whole life, and to have well-paying job in a stable and crucially important industry so that I can support myself.
I’m thankful for the health of my extended family, particularly my grandparents who are generous enough to host us for Thanksgiving every year and make it one of the days I look forward to most out of the entire year. I’m thankful that all of my closest friends are still around in the New England area so that I have the opportunity to stay in touch and hang out with them. There are many other things I could list but that would simply take too long.
The bottom line is this: It’s crucial to always keep things in perspective. I fully admit that I tend to be pessimistic and angry far more often than I should. I get upset about sports. I get upset about politics. I get angry when the train is late practically every day. I complain when I have to walk 5 minutes from the train to work when it’s cold or raining. I often make jokes about my bad luck or make statements saying “of course that would happen to me.” The reality is simply this: I am an extremely lucky individual who has been blessed with practically everything I’ve ever wanted, and the things that I want and don’t have, I’ve been blessed with at least the opportunity to achieve.
Human beings are creatures of habit and routine. We should be thankful every single day of the year, but it’s only human nature to get used to the way things are and take the good things in our life for granted. Thanksgiving is a great way to reorient ourselves once a year and put in our lives in perspective. What I would encourage everyone to do is to make Thanksgiving a monthly occurrence. We should be thankful more than once a year, and doing it every day becomes routine and loses meaning, but I think it would make a big difference if we take the time to reflect every month on what we were thankful for the last 30 days. Off the top of my head, nearly everyone can at least be thankful they didn’t have to experience the riots and violence in Ferguson, or the mammoth blizzard in Buffalo. That’s two things that happened in the past week or so.
Do this on a monthly basis and I’m sure you will come up with a lot more. I am personally committing to reflecting on what I am thankful on the 4th Thursday of every month, and will blog about it every time if I have to.
Thanks to everyone who read this blog. Please like the post if you enjoyed reading, comment if you have feedback, and share with others.