Thursday, May 29, 2014

The QB Power Rankings - pre 2014

32.) Teddy Bridgewater (MIN)
31.) Chad Henne (JAX)
30.) Brian Hoyer (CLE)
29.) Ryan Fitzpatrick (HOU)
28.) Matt Schaub (OAK)
27.) Michael Vick (NYJ)
26.) EJ Manuel (BUF)
25.) Josh McCown (TB)
24.) Jake Locker (TEN)
23.) Sam Bradford (STL)
22.) Carson Palmer (ARZ)
21.) Ryan Tannehill (MIA)
20.) Andy Dalton (CIN)
19.) Robert Griffin III (WAS)
18.) Alex Smith (KC)
17.) Joe Flacco (BAL)
16.) Matthew Stafford (DET)
15.) Eli Manning (NYG)
14.) Nick Foles (PHI)
13.) Jay Cutler (CHI)
12.) Colin Kaepernick (SF)
11.) Cam Newton (CAR)
10.) Tony Romo (DAL)
9.) Russell Wilson (SEA)
8.) Andrew Luck (IND)
7.) Matt Ryan (ATL)
6.) Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)
5.) Philip Rivers (SD)
4.) Tom Brady (NE)
3.) Drew Brees (NO)
2.) Aaron Rodgers (GB)
1.) Peyton Manning (DEN)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The 10 Most Dominant Playoff Teams of the Last 10 Years

How do you qualify dominance? Well, let’s start with never have to go 7 games in the MLB/NBA/NHL, or never even trailing in the 4th quarter in football. All of the following teams did that. So what separates them further? Well, which teams then did that while beating the best teams on the way. Sure, this isn’t always in a team’s control, as who you play in the playoffs depends on how well other teams do, still, all these teams had dominant playoff runs. They are the best playoff teams in recent times.

First, some notable Honorable Mentions

14.) 2008 Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings only Stanley Cup in the Lidstrom-Datsyuk-Zetterberg era was really just them fulfilling their destiny in the least interesting way possible, by just drumming teams that were worse than them. They were pushed to 6 games three times, but they never trailed in any of those series, winning the first two games at home at the Joe Louis each time. What hurts them, in my eyes, is that they played a really week run of teams. They were the best team in the NHL that season, but they get the 8, 6 and 5 seeds, followed by, granted, the 2nd seed from the East, but a weak one. They beat teams with 91, 95, 97 and then 102 points. This will be a lot more glaring when we get to my top two NHL teams.

13.) 2006 Miami Heat

The Heat probably deserve a spot in the Top 10, but there’s a couple things going against them. First, they lost Game 1 of three of their series, and they struggle against a bad team in the 1st round. Also, there’s the ref thing. This was the most reprehensible Champion in the NBA in recent times, with Dwyane Wade getting roughly 8,000 free throws in the final four games of the NBA Finals. They really didn’t deserve that Championship, and I don’t feel like giving them the credit that a team that beat a 64-18 Pistons team and a 60-22 Mavericks team without going to a 7th game should deserve.

12.) 2008 Philadelphia Phillies

Much like the Heat above them, the Phillies are getting docked for something infamous surrounding their win, this time the terrible rain-delayed postponed for two days clinching game. They also had a rather easy route, beating the 90-win Brewers and 84-win Dodgers in the NL Playoffs. They did roll through dropping just one game in each round, but a lot of their wins were close, and they took advantage of beating up on bad teams.

10.) 2013 Seattle Seahawks
10.) 2004 New England Patriots

I’m grouping these two together because they are the only top seeded NFL teams in this Top-10. Not a surprise since it is probably harder to be ‘dominant’ in one-game playoffs than in series. Still, both teams were dominant enough. They both had one really close playoff game, which pushes them down, though. The Patriots trailed in the Super Bowl and were tied through three quarters, albeit against a very good Eagles team. What helps the Patriots is they were so absurdly dominant in the AFC Playoffs, beating two good teams easily, holding the league’s top offense to 3 points and then dropping 41 (34 on offense) on the league’s best defense.
The Seahawks did something similar in a way, holding the league’s top (and arguably best ever) offense to 8 points in the Super Bowl. However, they also came close to losing the NFC Championship Game. Forget the last pass-breakup by Sherman, but the Seahawks were trailing 17-13 through three quarters, and needed a slightly fortunate 4th-down TD bomb-pass and a Kaepernick meltdown to get there. Still, the dominance of the Super Bowl is enough to warrant them a spot.

9.) 2009 New York Yankees

The Yankees have only won one Super Bowl in the last 10 years, but they made that one count. The 2009 Yankees were infamous for dropping $400 Million on Sabathia, Teixeira and Burnett, but they all played well in their first season in New York, and helped the Yankees roll to a 103-win regular season (the best Regular Season record since 2005). This isn’t about the Regular Season, though. The Yankees in the playoffs dropped just four games, first sweeping the Twins, and then beating two good teams in 6 games. The Angels won 97 games in 2009, and the Yankees knocked them out in 6, never trailing in the series. Then, in the World Series, they took on the defending Champs, who were better than their 93-wins given Cliff Lee showed up in midseason. The Yankees did lose Game 1 of the World Series, but won all their four games by at least two runs. In fact, 9 of the Yankees 11 wins were by at least two runs. 

8.) 2010 Green Bay Packers

The top-ranked NFL team was in the midst of one of the scariest runs in sports. First, they were right in the middle of a 3-season long streak of never trailing by more than 7 points in any game (ended with a  38-10 loss to the Giants in 2012). Also, they were in the beginning of a streak of never trailing in the 4th quarter until their 13-0 season ended in 2011. The 2010 Packers closest playoff game was arguably their Wild Card win, where the Eagles missed two field goals and Vick was picked driving near the 30 late down 5. After that, they dominated the 13-3 Falcons in Atlanta 48-21, and then jumped to early leads against both Chicago and Pittsburgh. Both games ended up being 7 point games, but the Packers were never less than a 75% chance of winning those games. They never trailed in the 2nd Half of any playoff game, something no other Champion can say since the 2002 Bucs (before the purview of this list – though they would have been the top-ranked NFL team). The Packers in the Aaron Rodgers era are just 1-4 in the playoffs outside of this year, but what a run it was.

7.) 2010 San Francisco Giants

The Giants, who are currently in 1st place in another even year, made a habit of rolling to World Series in even-numbered years. They were dominant in the last seven games of the 2012 run, but they needed to come back from 0-2 and 1-3 down to win both their NL Series before sweeping Detroit. In 2010, they eschewed the drama and rolled to a World Series. They never trailed in any of their three series, never went to a do-or-die game, and played a 91-win Braves team, a 97-win Phillies team, and a 90-win Rangers team – the Rangers, like the Phillies in ’09, were better than that with the midseason addition of Cliff Lee. The Giants did it mostly with pitching, but then they could score in bunches too, scoring 20 runs in the first two games of the World Series. They were good at home (5-2), but better on the road (6-2). They were just a great team for three rounds, quickly winning the World Series before anyone was ready for the Giants to have that success.

6.) 2010 Chicago Blackhawks

The 2010 Chicago Blackhawks ended the Stanley Cup drought in Chicago in an underratedly dominant fashion. They never went to 7 games. They won all but four of their 16 wins by at least two goals. They had dominant players throughout the lineup, and they went through three 100-point teams on the way to the Cup Finals in the Western Conference. They get major points for being awesome on the road, going 8-3. Finally, their trump card for me is sweeping the Sharks in the Western Conference Finals. That Sharks team earned 113 points, topping the Western Conference, and while anyone can say how the Sharks are chokers, the ’10 Sharks weren’t, beating the Wings in 5 games the round before. They just dominated that Sharks team, quickly killing arguably the best Sharks team in this run. The Blackhawks title is most remembered for the Cup-clinching Goal no one knew happened, but it was quality all the same.

These Next 5 are all a Level Above. These 5 teams combined ended all but three of their series without dropping two games. They didn’t all have the hardest roads, but they made no mistake at all as to who was the best team that season.

5.) 2012 Los Angeles Kings

It pains me to bring up the Kings since they beat the Devils in the Stanley Cup Finals, but they were that good. They won the first three games of every series, including winning the first two games on the road each time. They didn’t avoid anyone either, getting the #1, #2 and #3 seeds in the Western Conference (admittedly, the Coyotes had the #3 seed because they played in a bad division – they weren’t, by record, that good of a team). Now, New Jersey was just the 6th team in the East, but they too were a 100+ point team that had beaten quality teams on the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Kings were so dominant on the way to the Finals that it didn’t matter that, excluding the 6-1 win in Game 6, the Devils essentially played the Kings to a draw through five games. They swept the Blues, who were tied for 2nd in the NHL with 109, winning each game by at least two goals. They did everything well in the playoffs, scoring, defending, goaltending. They were so good.

4.) 2007 San Antonio Spurs

The 2005 Spurs had the harder road in terms of the quality of their opponents, getting better teams at each round than they did in 2007 (apart from the 2nd round). The Spurs did get lucky, probably, that Golden State knocked off the 67-win Mavericks. Still, they dropped just four games on the way to the Title, winning 8 of 9 in the Conference Finals and NBA Finals. Again, they didn’t play the best teams, getting the 51-win Jazz and 50-win Cavaliers, but my word did they leave no doubt as to who was the best team. The Spurs dominated the Western Conference Finals (garbage time points made Game 1 and 2 seem closer than it actually was), and then swept the LeBron Cavs who had rolled themselves to the Finals. The LeBron Cavs entered those Finals 12-4 in the playoffs, and the Spurs whipped them. Now, I do have to mention they were fortunate with the suspensions to Stoudamire and Diaw for Game 5 of the 2nd round against the 61-win Suns, but the Spurs also led by 10 in the 4th Quarter of 5 of the 6 games. They controlled most of that series. Ironically, the only game the Spurs didn’t have a 10-point 4th Quarter lead was the game where Amare’ didn’t play. The Spurs deserved to win that series, and deserved that title by executing everyone to death.

3.) 2011 Dallas Mavericks

Other than the Spurs, the other teams in the Top-5 only won one title in recent times (assuming the Kings or the team at #1 don’t this year in their sport). They were all one-hit wonders. The Mavericks might have been the most stunning, as they weren’t a trendy pick going into the playoffs. Hell, they were a trendy pick to be upset by Portland in the 1st-round. That was sensible, actually, as the Blazers took the Mavs to 6 games, but they needed a giant comeback by Brandon Roy to win one of their two games. No, what the Mavericks, a team with one-all star and a bunch of aging players, took over the league in the last three rounds. First, they beat the two-time defending champs, and not only beat them, but swept them, ending Phil Jackson’s coaching career by becoming the first team to sweep him. They then beat the Thunder, the team that would win the Western Conference the next season, in five games. Finally, to finish it off, they beat the team that would win the next two titles, and beat them in 6. They’re the only team to beat the LeBron-Heat in a playoff series, and beat them without much fuss. They needed a large comeback to win Game 2, but they won a thrilling Game 5 in Dallas, and finished them off blowing them out, relatively, in Miami. Mark Cuban may have only gotten one title out of the Dirk era, but man did they really get it.

2.) 2005 Chicago White Sox

In terms of pure win-loss dominance, no team matches this Chicago team. They ran through the playoffs going 11-1. Yes, that is right, they lost just one game in the whole postseason. It was Game 1 of the ALCS to the Angels. Their wins weren’t without controversy, as they won Game 2 after AJ Pierzynski took first base because he thought he swung through a ball that hit the ground. There is no real evidence of this, but the umpire agreed. The White Sox walked off two batters later. Still, outside of that blip, the White Sox could do no wrong, first sweeping the 95-win, defending Champion Red Sox, then beating those Angels, before finishing it off with another sweep of the 89-win Astros, who were 89-73, but started 15-30, so they were probably the best team over the last ~100 games of the season. Now, the reason why they aren’t number one is because while they swept the Astros, it was arguably the closest sweep ever. They won Game 1 by one run. They won Game 2 on a walk-of Home Run entering the 9th inning tied. They won Game 3 in 15 innings, and then won Game 4 1-0. It was a damn close sweep, but a sweep nonetheless. The most amazing part of the White Sox run, though, was their pitching in the ALCS. Freddy Garcia, Jose Contreras, Jon Garland and Mark Buehrle pitching 44 1/3 of the 45 innings played. Their starters were so dominant against a very good team. The White Sox never recovered that magic under Ozzie Guillen, but for one month they were one of the best baseball teams ever.

1.) 2007 Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks went 16-5 in the playoffs, which is one game worse than the Kings. What separates their run is that they played the toughest four-team group of opponents of any NHL team I’ve seen, and skated by all of them with barely any fuss. This was at the height of Conference Imbalance. The Ducks, who had 110 points themselves, had to play a team with 104 points in the first round (Minnesota), and they rolled them in 5. They then played the Canucks and their 105 points, and rolled them in 5. Next they got the President’s Trophy Red Wings and their 113 points, and beat them in 6, winning two games in Detroit. Fnally, they got the 105 point Senators in the Stanley Cup Finals. Now here is where some transitive property exits. Just for dominance in the first three rounds of the playoffs, the 2007 Senators themselves are Top-5 worthy. That team played the Penguins (105 points), Devils (107 points), and Sabres (113 points), and beat them all 4-1. They were scalding hot entering the Stanley Cup Finals. So, what the Ducks do? They beat them in 5. In a way, the Mavs did this too in 2011 (the Heat won their three series 4-1), but the Ducks just dominated the Stanley Cup Finals, finishing it off with a 6-2 win in Game 5. That Ducks team’s roster was probably the best of any team in the NHL post-lockout, rolling a very good 1st line (Kunitz-McDonald-Selanne), a great 2nd line (Penner-Getlzaf-Perry) and the best 3rd line I have ever seen (Pahlsson-Moen-RobNeidermayer), with two Hall of Fame defensemen (Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger). That was a great team who rolled past four very good to great teams, beating them all without needing 7 and only once needing 6. That’s how it is done.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

2014 NFL Draft - 1st Round Grades

1.) Houston Texans select JaDaveon Clowney (DE – S. Carolina)

So after all the dust settles, the Texans end up taking the guy who we all thought was the best player in this draft since, oh, October, 2012. That must have been a long 18 months for JaDaveon. Anyway, maybe his consistency and work-ethic isn’t great. Maybe he was just saving himself from injury knowing he was a lock top pick if he didn’t get injured. Whatever it was, this is a good, but daring pick. This isn’t a real need for the Texans, who already have the best defensive player in the NFL. Still, we have to assume they didn’t think any QB was good enough this year at any value they had (considering the top three are all off the board), so this is the best player. It’s that simple.

Grade: A

2.) St. Louis Rams select Greg Robinson (T – Auburn)

Once again, we have to assume that the Rams are, for now, founded in their belief in Sam Bradford. If that's the case, this is the perfect pick. We don't really now how good Bradford is since he's never had even average protection. If Jake Long can come back from his ACL tear, this will be a great pair of Tackles for Bradford, which is sorely needed considering what division they play in. The Rams need to see what Bradford has to offer and this helps, and even if Bradford isn't the answer, whoever the next QB for the Rams will be will have good player protecting their blindside.

Grade: A- 

3.) Jacksonville Jaguars select Blake Bortles (QB – Central Florida)

Well, this was an interesting pick. I give credit to the Jags, who are taking a long-term look at their rebuild and picking a guy who is a couple years away from a fully-finished player, which is good since the Jags themselves don't need a QB to play great in 2014 because the rest of that roster is a couple years away at best. My issue is that they probably could have traded down and gotten Bortles around 9 and essentially done the move the Browns ended up doing with Buffalo. This isn't great value, but the Jags got their guy.

Grade: B

4.) Buffalo Bills* select Sammy Watkins (WR – Clemson)

The Bills are the only team to really give away a major draft pick in a trade, giving up next year's 1st round pick to move up five spots. That's a lot to give up, especially for a team that would be lucky to go .500 next year. They probably gave up a pick in the 7-15 range next year. That all said, this is one of the best WR prospects to come out in a few years. He's a monster after-the-catch, he can be the Bills true #1 receiver for years. Giving up a lot will hurt their grade, but if they were the #4 from the beginning, this would be a great pick.

Grade: B-

5.) Oakland Raiders select Khalil Mack (LB – Buffalo)

The Raiders were the first of a few teams to get a guy they might not have thought possible due to the Jaguars picking Bortles. The Raiders get arguably the 2nd best prospect in the entire draft, a guy that can be their version of Von Miller. If he can be 75% as good as Von Miller, this is a great pick. The Raiders need these type of giant-impact players, something they haven't had apart from a few Nnamdi years in over a decade. Good, solid pick for a team that is starting to turn it around.

Grade: A 

6.) Atlanta Falcons select Jake Matthews (T – Texas A&M)

I may be feeling more generous than normal, but I really think a lot of teams did well in drafting good players at good spots and filling needs. This isn't a perfect example because while it is a need, Matt Ryan has, other than last year, done a very good job without ever having a great O-Line. Matthews might help more in the running game, or be more important there. The Falcons probably would have loved to end up with Mack as they still don't really have any game changers in their front seven, but they still end up with a good player.

Grade: B

7.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Mike Evans (WR – Texas A&M)

This is the first pick I don't like. Mike Evans seems like a very good player, but he seems a little too similar to Vincent Jackson. Now, if Mike Evans is a player worthy of this pick, his career will last longer than Vincent Jackson's in Tampa, but they basically just got two players that are good at the exact same things. It could work, but I am skeptical. They still don't have any receivers that are good in the short areas.

Grade: B- 

8.) Cleveland Browns select Justin Gilbert (CB – Okla. State)

The Browns did get an extra 1st round pick, which makes this pick better, but them trading up from the 9th spot made no sense. I can't see the Vikings taking Gilbert. Anyway, I have no idea if Gilbert can be a good player, but he should play well across from Joe Haden. The Browns already have a good defense and they've made it stronger. This can be a very good unit if Gilbert lives up to the hype..

Grade: A- 

9.) Minnesota Vikings select Anthony Barr (LB – UCLA)

I like this pick a lot. Anthony Barr is good value right here. He also fills a need. I am assuming they are either going to make him into a Von Miller role or move him up to DE, but either way he adds a pass rushing punch to a team sorely needed it. Mike Zimmer will love having this player that he can get creative with. They had no bigger need and they filled it with a good player.

Grade: A-

10.) Detroit Lions select Eric Ebron (TE – North Carolina)

Ebron is a good player, but did this really fill a need. There were good defensive players available for a team whose offense was already good enough to go to the playoffs. Detroit needs help in the back-seven defensively more than they needed another target who will be stealing targets away from other people because it isn't like the Lions can really pass more than they already do.

Grade: B-

11.) Tennessee Titans select Taylor Lewan (T – Michigan)

Maybe he is a good player, but where is Lewan going to play? They drafted a guard in the 1st round last year (Chance Wormack), signed a free agent guard to huge money before 2013 (Andy Levitre), and they have Michael Oher and Michael Roos at the tackle spots. Now, if Lewan is good enough to warrant the #11 pick, he should unseat Oher for now, but still, O-Line is one area that the Titans absolutely did not need. 

Grade: C

12.) New York Giants select Odell Beckham (WR – LSU)

I like the pick for position, as the Giants lost Hakeem Nicks, and while Ruben Randle developed a bit last year, they could use another weapon for Eli Manning. They could have done the Giants thing and picked another D-Lineman (which is actually a need for the Giants), but they still addressed a need. My only quibble is that the history of LSU Wide Receivers is really bad, and the Giants aren't a team with a good history of draft WRs themselves.

Grade: B-

13.) St. Louis Rams select Aaron Donald (DT – Pittsburgh)

Love this pick. I'm a big proponent of making a strength into more of a strength. Outside of getting a Bradford replacement, the only other area of obvious need for the Rams is a linebacker, but this guy is a lot better value than any linebacker. Putting him on a line with Brockers, Quinn and Long is just scary. The Lions tried this a few years ago when they drafted Fairley, but their issue is their DT situation deteriorated. Long and Quinn (especially Quinn) are still in their primes. This should be a scary thing for any team in the NFC.

Grade: A 

14.) Chicago Bears select Kyle Fuller (CB – Virginia Tech)

Another good need pick though this might be an overdraft. The Bears needed help on defense and Fuller comes from a good pedigree of corners, considering his family members that have played corner in the NFL. The Bears probably needed Tackle help more (man, wouldn't they have loved Donald), but getting a quality Cornerback is not a bad thing.

Grade: B

15.) Pittsburgh Steelers select Ryan Shazier (LB – Ohio State)

Some Steelers fans that I follow on Twitter hated this pick. One guy didn't like it because he thinks Shazier is too small, the other because the Steelers have bigger needs outside Linebacker. Both might be true, but the Steelers needed some more young talent on defense. It seems odd to say this, but the defense is the side that needed help. Now, they would have been better off with a d-back, especially a safety, but this pick is still a need.

Grade: B- 

16.) Dallas Cowboys select Zack Martin (T – Notre Dame)

After all the madness of them maybe taking Manziel (which would have been a bad pick), they end up taking a good player. It's not really a position of need, but it does make the one real strength of the Cowboys (their O-Line) into even more of a strength. There are still massive problems with the Cowboys, but this is a nice pick.

Grade: B+

17.) Baltimore Ravens select CJ Mosley (LB – Alabama)

This is higher than I would have thought Mosley would go, and it isn't exactly a position of need considering how good Daryl Smith was last year. I guess to Ozzie Newsome, this was Best Player Available, and who am I to argue with Newsome's track record. Still, I will. I think D-Line is a bigger position of need for the Ravens right now with the talent they've lost there the last two seasons, and there were good players there available, or at least a trade back.

Grade: C+

18.) New York Jets select Calvin Pryor (S – Louisville)

I like this pick a lot. The Jets haven't had consistent safety play in the entirety of the Rex Ryan era, apart from like a half-season of good play from Jim Leonhard. Pryor can be really used well with Rex Ryan's defensive schemes. He's seems like a versatile player, and Rex will utilize as much of that versatility as humanly possible.

Grade: A-

19.) Miami Dolphins select Ja’Wuan James (T – Tennessee)

I have no idea if he is a good player or not, but the Dolphins absolutely needed to pick a o-lineman after the mess they went through last year. Ja'Wuan James should start instantly and for the Dolphins, and Ryan Tannehill's sake, I hope he does and plays well. 


20.) New Orleans Saints select Brandin Cooks (WR – Oregon State)

Really like the idea of picking a WR for them. It's a position of need after losing Lance Moore and with Marques Colston seemingly a step slower than in his prime, and the uncertainty around Jimmy Graham's franchise tag. Cooks is really small, but can be an almost Sproles-like player for them but at the receiver position. A better comparison may be Randall Cobb. My only concern is injury issues for a guy that small playing the spot.

Grade: A-

21.) Green Bay Packers select Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S – Alabama)

Love this pick for the Packers, who have needed an impact safety ever since Nick Collins had to prematurely retire. Also, this is an excellent time to mention what an inspired name that is. Clinton-Dix doesn't seem to have the coverage skills that Collins did, but he might give the Packers a bit more physicality in the secondary.

Grade: A

22.) Cleveland Browns select Johnny Manziel (QB – Texas A&M)

I guess this is a good pick? There's not a big history of people as short as Manziel playing well for a long time (and Russell Wilson is not history). I also have concerns over his ability to stay healthy at that size. Still, I applaud the Browns for trying to make something happen and going up and snagging a QB. This is the third time the Browns have taken a hopeful franchise QB with their 2nd pick of a 1st round (ironically, the 22nd pick each time). For the Browns sake, I hope Manziel is better than Brady Quinn or Brandon Weeden.

Grade: A-

23.) Kansas City Chiefs select Dee Ford (DE – Alabama)

I don't get this pick really. He might be a good player, but he's undersized and this isn't a position of need. It isn't really making a strength stronger either because it isn't like they can play three 3-4 OLBs at the same time. I guess this spells the end of either Houston or Hali's time in KC, but it is probably premature for that. 

Grade: C

24.) Cincinnati Bengals select Darqueze Denard (CB – Michigan State)

This is great value, since many people that Denard would go a lot higher than 24th, but the Bengals aren't filling an immediate need. They are full of corners, assuming Leon Hall returns close to 100% from his achilles injury. That said, this is good value, and Denard's career, if he plays well, will last far longer than some of the deeper corners they have now.

Grade: A-

25.) San Diego Chargers select Jason Verrett (CB – TCU)

Honestly, them picking any good defensive player would be a good grade. They have tons of holes on defense and no impact players outside of Eric Weddle and maybe Corey Liuget. I don't know much about Jason Verrett, but I like the idea of a longer corner.

Grade: B+

26.) Philadelphia Eagles select Marcus Smith (LB – Louisville)

Many people had a 2-3 round grade on him, as this is the first clear overdraft so far. Now, sometimes these picks turn out OK (like Frederick for the Cowboys last year), but overdrafting at a non-impact position just seems strange. We don't really know how good of a talent evaluator the Kelly/Roseman team is, as their first draft hasn't given much yet, and this wasn't a good start to year 2.

Grade: C

27.) Arizona Cardinals select Deone Bucannon (S – Washington State)

This also seemed to be an overdraft, though not as much as Smith, but I like the pick far more. The Cardinals have done an amazing job of filling their defense with talented, versatile players over the last three years, and Bucannon is another one. If Mathieu can come back healthy, they can have a scary secondary. 

Grade: B+

28.) Carolina Panthers select Kelvin Benjamin (WR – Florida State)

Them picking a WR was really obvious, but it is nice value and a perfect player for Cam, someone with a large catch radius and good hands that can work as a possession receiver, something that even with their 2013 WR corp was lacking. He can be a great red-zone target for Cam. Love the pick, the idea of filling that need straight out in the smartest way possible.

Grade: A

29.) New England Patriots select Dominique Easley (DT – Florida)

People rave about his talent, how he can be dominant if he stay healthy. I have a few concerns. I don't doubt his talent, but I doubt the Patriots picking an injury prone player a year after having to deal with so many injuries on defense. Also, what is his position as he's too small to be the natural replacment for Vince Wilfork. For talent this is great, for durability? who knows.

Grade: B

30.) San Francisco 49ers select Jimmie Ward (S – No. Illinois)

The 49ers don't have obvious needs, but Safety probably wasn't one of them, and this might be an overdraft as well. Their more pressing need in teh secondary is at corner. Also, I would have invested in a D-Lineman given the age they have there. Either way, my biggest problem with the pick is the overdraft.

Grade: B-

31.) Denver Broncos select Bradley Roby (CB – Ohio State)

They had to go defense, and while LB was a bigger need, this was the better value as there were no good LBs availabe. Roby has major character concerns, but for a team drafting to win for now that is less of a problem. Still, it would have been nice to get someone who might not have such character issues.

Grade: B

32.) Minnesota Vikings select Teddy Bridgewater (QB – Louisville)

Love this pick. The Vikings got their QB, got him at a great value, and didn't even have to give up much. Personally, I think Bridgewater is the best QB in this class in terms of game management, post-play reactions and decision making. The Vikings could have an intriguing team as soon as 2015 if he turns out good.

Grade: A

Monday, May 5, 2014

NBA 2nd Round Picks

Eastern Conference

(1) Pacers over (5) Wizards in 6

The Pacers came together in the last two games to give themselves another week or so without questions of 'how the hell did this team fall apart so quickly'. The Wizards are better than the Hawks, but I saw a different, more confident India in what little of Game 6 and 7 I saw. I like this Washington team, but I don't think they have the consistency to take down Indiana.

(2) Heat over (6) Nets in 7

I think the Nets really give the Heat a run. In a sense, I think the Nets 4-0 record against the Heat is being both overrated and underrated. It is overrated because the Heat have shown they are a different team in the playoffs, and three of those games were either 1-pt games or OT games. Of course, it's being underrated, because even had the Nets lost two of those games, the 2-2 record isn't too bad either. They've shown over 4 games that they can hang with the Heat in both Miami and Brooklyn. This small & big lineup, with Pierce at the 4 and Williams and Livingston starting has been a revelation, where they can switch on everything. Of course, the Heat are the perfect team to play with that defense, as the Heat love playing small and they don't have the size to abuse the Nets small lineup. In the end, the Heat are better, and they have LeBron, but we've seen too many times in teh past that Pierce and Garnett can beat LeBron.

Western Conference

(1) Spurs over (5) Blazers in 5

The Mavericks were a good matchup for the Spurs, and the Spurs struggled with them, but there's a few caveats. First, if Carter doesn't hit that ridiculous buzzer-beater in Game 3, that series might have been over in 5. Also, the Mavericks have Rick Carlisle. I think Terry Stotts is a good coach, but he's not Carlisle good, and doesn't have Carlisle's familiarity with the Spurs. They split the season series, but the Spurs won the last two after they got people healthy. Much like Indiana, I think theyll free up themselves after getting by the 1st round. The Spurs can also take advantage of a more spotty defense than what Dallas showed them last round.

(3) Clippers over (2) Thunder in 6

This really isn't even that much of an upset. The Clippers won just two fewer games than the Thunder, and had a better scoring differential. Now, Westbrook missed part of the season, but so did Chris Paul. To me, it really comes down to can Durant and Westbrook do 120% of what Griffin and Paul will, as the rest of the Clippers team is better than the rest of the Thunder. Who checks Griff? Can Westbrook stop the smarter, wilier, and more skilled Paul? This should be a great series, and it wouldn't shock me one bit if the Thunder win. The only shocking result to me is if there is a lot of blowouts in games. That shouldn't happen given how close these two teams are.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

NHL 2nd Round Picks

So, with the Annual Sharks Collapse out of the way, we are left with four intriguing 2nd round series. Also, for at least a year we'll avoid a scenario where a team in one division wins the other division's championship. Anyway, with Game 1 of the Canadiens @ Bruins about to start, let's get to the games.

Atlantic Division Championship - (3) Canadiens vs (1) Bruis

The Bruins were much better this season, there is no debating that fact. They earned 117 points, most in the NHL. The Canadiens had 100. The Bruins scored 84 more goals than they allowed, while the Canadiens scored just 11 more. That all said, this could be a real close series. First, the Canadiens play very well against the Bruins. They were 3-1 (one OT win) against the Bruins this year, after winning the season series with them last year. Also, just as recently as last year, the Canadiens had a better record than Boston. The Canadiens are the faster team, but the Bruins are the stronger team, and the deeper team, with their 3rd and 4th lines capable of winning their matchup against almost all other teams' 3rd and 4th lines. This could be one of the only teams, though, where the Bruins don't have the definite goalie edge. Tukka Rask has been great so far these playoffs, but Carey Price had a breakout season last year and continued it this year. He's among the best goalies in teh NHL, and can absolutely steal this series. The Canadiens also have very offensive-minded defensemen, something the Bruins have struggled with in recent postseasons (Chicago last year, Washington the year before). Still, the Bruins are just better across the board. They shouldn't lose this series, even in the NHL when a goalie can steal it.

Bruins in 7

Metropolitan Division Championship - (2) Rangers vs (1) Penguins

This series has a lot of the same factors that Canadiens vs. Bruins does. Namely, the underdog is a more defensive minded team with a goalie capable of stealing the series, the Penguins are higher powered. Of course, this is a better contrast of styles. The Penguins don't have the depth that the Rangers do, with really weak 3rd and 4th lines. The Rangers have the depth on offense to throw different lines at the Crosby line and not depend on any one matchup. As Martin St. Louis has gotten more comfortable in New York, the Rangers power-play has started getting really good, and if the Penguins start taking penalties, something that has plagued them in recent postseasons, they can really capitalize. It all really comes down to how the Rangers defense does against McDonagh, Girardi and the rest of the Rangers defenseman. Personally, I like where the Rangers are right now. They seemed a really confident team in that Game 7, adn the Penguins, despite winning the round, still have to have so many questions about Marc Andre-Fluery in goal, and their 3rd and 4th lines are at such a disadvantage here.

Rangers in 6

Central Division Championship - (4) Wild vs (2) Blackhawks

The Wild are the only Cindarella left, the only 4 seed to win their 1st round series, and they did it in dramatic fashion, with a come-from-behind win on the road in OT in Game 7. The Wild have depth in that their 2nd through 4th lines are about equal, but none are as good as the similar line on the Blackhawks, who with Toews and Kane healthy in the last series, they were rolling 4 lines about as good as they've done all year. Until a late season swoon that was caused largely by injury, the Blackhawks were challenging for the #1 spot in the division. They are a really good team, about as good as the one that won the Cup a year ago. The Wild face a really different issue here, as the Avalanche are not an offense, despite their skill players, that keeps the puck a lot, which the Blackhawks do, which should be good against a defense of no-names, mostly. The Blackhawks are just really running well right now, and Crawford played well throughout the series, while Darcy Kuemper was really up and down against Colorado. They'll need Kuemper to be a lot better this series, and I don't know if he has that level yet, and if he doesn't and Ilya Bryzgalov makes an appearance, real problems could occur.

Blackhawks in 5

Pacific Division Championship - (3) Kings vs (1) Ducks

Many people, after the Kings run from 0-3 down to winning the series are ready to give the Kings this series easily, if not the Cup as well. They've definitely become trendy picks to win all the cups in last playoffs and this one. Well, I fervently disagree (this isn't some Kings hate, I would have picked the Ducks to beat the Sharks as well). First, the Ducks are really, really good. Yes, it is somewhat comical how many goalies they have, but they all play pretty well. Also, they're really, really good, netting 116 points in the harder division and conference. They have a lot of depth on offense, and while it seems they overly rely on Getzlaf and Perry, they have a lot of other players provide support throughout the seasons, with players like Andrew Cogliano, Mathieu Perrealt, Ben Lovejoy, Daniel Winnik and more having nice seasons. They are definitely bigger than given credit for. They also have Getzlaf and Perry, top players that can muscle up to Kopitar/Brown, who will likely be thrown at them throughout the series. The Ducks have the advantage in goal, no doubt, but the Ducks have played the Kings well throughout the series, winning four of the five meetings. I think a lot of people are doubting the Ducks mainly because Bruce Boudreau is their coach, but this team has the stones and the size and the defensive responsibility that his Washington teams rarely had. I think the Ducks surprise people, as I'm getting a very 2007 vibe from them.

Ducks in 6

Enjoy the Best Playoffs in teh World

About Me

I am a man who will go by the moniker dmstorm22, or StormyD, but not really StormyD. I'll talk about sports, mainly football, sometimes TV, sometimes other random things, sometimes even bring out some lists (a lot, lot, lot of lists). Enjoy.