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16 Bold Predictions For 2016

(photo courtesy of Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports)

(photo courtesy of Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports)

A new year is upon us and there will be many great sports events that will happen. Some will be expected like the Super Bowl, college football championship game and the college basketball national championship game. But there are also things that happen that catch us all off guard. It’s easy to predict things that will happen, but it is not as easy to predict the unpredictable events that can happen. But with that being said, let me take my shot at it. Without further ado, here are my 16 predictions for 2016

  1. The Alabama Crimson Tide will win the National title

Clemson is a worthy opponent for Alabama in the National Title game. They are solid in each facet of the game and can make some explosive plays. But versus Alabama, the game will be won or lost in the trenches. Alabama is a physical football team and they have dominated teams up front for majority of the season. Clemson is a physical bunch as well and they will not wilt when facing the Crimson Tide. But eventually the physical play and the explosiveness of the Alabama front seven will get to the Tigers.

  1. The Golden State Warriors will not win the NBA title this season

The Warriors are again having a great season. And of course they will be a factor in the West this year. But let’s not forget that there are some other teams that can get it going and potentially knock them off. Teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs are talented enough to give the Warriors fits. And this season, one of those teams jumps up and gets the job done, ending the Warriors’ season prematurely.

  1. Kentucky, North Carolina and Duke will not make the NCAA Final Four this year

All three teams are very deep and talented. But in this year’s college basketball, each team has some flaws going with them. Of course North Carolina is the most talented of them all and they are shooting the basketball well this year. But eventually the shooting will fall back to earth and they will have to win a game with defense. That will be where they fall. As far as Kentucky, they have been pushed around more in the post than usual. And even though they are talented, that shortcoming will leave them hamstrung in March. And as far as Duke, they may have their tough guy, forward Amile Jefferson, back before the season is over. But they still don’t have enough scoring from inside that will scare someone. And that will be something that eventually catches up to them.

  1. The Chicago Cubs will win the World Series

This past year, the Cubs went further than anyone thought they would. And heading into this season, the expectations are they will go even further. Some may wilt under those type of goals, but this team may just thrive under them. And with the additions they have made this offseason, the Cubs will finally make it back to the World Series and will win one, breaking the supposed curse that was placed upon them.

  1. The Carolina Panthers will win the Super Bowl

Quarterback Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers are sitting on top of the football world right now, sporting the best record in the NFL at 14-1. But that is not the ultimate goal for them. The thing that they are striving to get is the Lombardi Trophy. And for the Panthers, plenty keep speaking on all the reasons this team cannot win the Lombardi Trophy. Well, Cam and the boys have been listening and they will use that as extra motivation to go to the first Super Bowl for Carolina since 2003. And instead of coming up short like they did against the Patriots the last time they were there, the Panthers will seize the day and win their first Lombardi Trophy.

  1. Steph Curry will win another MVP

Curry was in another world last year. He averaged 24 points per game and eight assists last season while locking up the MVP trophy. And just when it was thought he could not get any better, he shows up this season and is putting up better shooting, scoring and rebounding numbers across the board. He has gone from another world to another stratosphere and there is no doubting that he is the best player in the NBA right now. And with the record the Warriors are currently sporting, he will be the MVP again. As much as some want to give this award to LeBron, it just will not happen again.

  1. The Philadelphia 76ers will swing and miss in the Ben Simmons sweepstakes

The talk around Philly is they are in tank mode once again. And the object of their affection this year seems to be LSU forward Ben Simmons. The Australian forward can do everything on the floor and that combination of size and skill has every NFL scout hoping Christmas comes in June for them. It would seem the perfect storm would have Philly getting the first overall pick this year in the draft. But unfortunately, it will not be for them this year either. The 76ers will get the second or third pick, not the first. And with that, they can kiss goodbye to Ben Simmons ever wearing a Philadelphia uniform.

  1. The Jacksonville Jaguars will make the playoffs next season

Head coach Gus Bradley is building something in Jacksonville. He has a quarterback in place in Blake Bortles, a reliable tight end in Julius Thomas, two young receivers that are making it happen in Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson and running back TJ Yeldon. Defensively, the Jags have taken a step forward this year and will more than likely add a pass rusher next season. That combination of things along with the state of the AFC South could have them either winning the division or making the playoffs as a wildcard.

  1. The Oakland Raiders will make the playoffs next season

The team showed growth this season. Derek Carr showed even more improvement this season. And with the weapons he has offensively, the offense should do nothing but get better next season. And defensively, they have a standout player in Khalil Mack. If they are able to add more defensive backfield help, this team will definitely be ready to make the playoffs next year. The Silver and Black will be back next year.

  1. DeMarcus Cousins will not be a member of the Sacramento Kings

DeMarcus is a very talented player. Unfortunately, he has not been able to wrangle his temper on the court. And with the surroundings in the city of Sacramento, it may not be the place for him to have success and mature as a player. So with that being said, Cousins will be out of Sacramento this offseason. Boston would be one place that has assets to trade for him. But there will be plenty that will be vying for his services. Only time will tell, but he will be playing in another city come next basketball season.

  1. Kevin Durant will re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder

Much has been said of where Durant will land next year. There have been rumors floated out there of him landing in everywhere from Golden State to Washington next year. But in the end, the prevailing thought is he will end up staying in Oklahoma City. The chemistry he and Westbrook have is something that he will not find anywhere else. And if they can get some consistent scoring from a third option, then this team will be able to make that magical run like they did when they met LeBron’s Miami team in the NBA Finals.

  1. Peyton Manning will not retire.

It was looking like he would be done at the end of the season last year. But instead of doing so, he decided to come back this season. Needless to say, this has not been the most memorable of seasons for him as a starter this year. And despite the thoughts that he will be retiring at the end of the season (and by looking at him right now, he should), he will more than likely try to play yet another season in the NFL. The question now is where he will play because it surely won’t be in Denver next year.

  1. Hue Jackson and Teryl Austin will get head coaching jobs this offseason in the NFL

Both have been excellent coordinators and Jackson never really got a shot when he was in Oakland. Jackson has been very solid as the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati and Austin has been excellent as the defensive coordinator in Detroit. Both are definitely qualified and you are hearing their names mentioned over and over again in coaching searches. It will only be a matter of time before both become head coaches. And this offseason is the perfect time for both to become head coaches in the NFL.

  1. Luke Walton will be named the next head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers

Unexpectedly, Luke Walton has been the interim head coach of the Golden State Warriors. Some may have expected the Warriors to not do so well without their leader, but Walton has led the team very well in his absence. And he has done so well that he will garner some head coaching looks around the NBA. One place that will be looking for a head coach soon will be the Los Angeles Lakers. With his experience with the organization as a player and his familiarity with the team, he would be a perfect fit for them and their young team.

  1. The Kansas City Royals will not make the playoffs this upcoming season

I know this is something that Kansas City fans will not want to hear, but it could definitely happen. The Royals just won the title, so there is always that moment of relaxation knowing you have achieved your goal. And the Royals will be fighting that all season long as they try to repeat as champions. Unfortunately, they will not be able to overcome that as they miss the playoffs this upcoming season.

  1. Fans will continue to show no chill on social media

As time has gone on, keyboard courage has grown more and more amongst fans of sports. You can see on social media all the people that continue to call people out knowing they will never meet them in real life. Unfortunately, this is not going anywhere and there will be more of it to come. A thing I have proposed is that things would change if people had to attach their employer to the things that they say. I bet the fear of losing their job would change the things that people say.

The new year brings some new things and also some new happenings as well. It will be interesting to see if these sixteen things happen or if these thoughts going flying in the wind.

For more sports talk, feel free to follow me on Twitter or check me out on Facebook.

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The General’s Top Three Candidates To Replace Chip Kelly

(photo courtesy of www.philly.com)

(photo courtesy of http://www.philly.com)

The Philadelphia Eagles entered this year under total control of Chip Kelly. The former University of Oregon head coach took over the general manager duties in his third year with the Eagles after back-to-back ten win seasons. But after some head-scratching trades and signings along with some underwhelming play, the Eagles now sit at 6-9 going into the last game of the season. The Chip Kelly experiment did not turn out as it was expected going into year three and with that, there was some blowback. Per ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio, Eagles president Jeffrey Lurie wanted to strip Kelly of his personnel control. After all, Chip traded away running back LaSean “Shady” McCoy for banged up linebacker Kiko Alonso, let dynamic wide receiver Jeremy Maclin walk in free agency and signed cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and running back DeMarco Murray. Besides the trade of quarterback Nick Foles for quarterback Sam Bradford (which was somewhat successful), all of his other moves were not successful. Chip apparently did not want to give up the personnel control. And when he did not do that, Lurie called his bluff. Chip Kelly is now out as the head coach of the Eagles and the team that thought they had their successor to Andy Reid is looking for a head coach again. There are many candidates that are out there, but here are three that could be on their radar.

The first call Lurie could make is to Cincinnati. No, he is not going to be speaking to Marvin Lewis and trying to bring him to Philly. The man he should be looking to speak to there is offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. Under Jackson’s tutelage, the Bengals are averaging 26 points per game this year. And each year he has been there, they have gotten better and better offensively. The good thing about Hue is he has head coaching experience and his offenses have been known to be versatile. His addition in Philly would be huge for DeMarco Murray. Hue likes to run traditional running formations with a fullback and that would allow Murray to run more downhill like he is accustomed to. But along with the traditional formations, Hue can also bring in the explosive formations with three or four wide receivers and is also used to having wide receivers that he can flex out in the slot (Philadelphia has Zach Ertz that he can use that way). Whatever he has offensively, he makes it work and gets the most out of it. And most of all, he would cut out some of the empty possessions that the Eagles had all this season. The one question mark about Hue would be who he would bring in as defensive coordinator. That would be huge for the Eagles due to them being in a 3-4 for the last three seasons.

But Hue is not the only offensive coordinator out there that people are going to be looking at. Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase was the hot name on the coaching circuit last season when he was calling plays for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos’ offense. But unfortunately for him, he did not land a head coaching gig and ended up following John Fox to Chicago. Some thought some of the shine would wear off, but he has still been solid as an offensive coordinator in Chicago. The best thing he has done in Chicago is coaching Jay Cutler. The veteran out of Vanderbilt is having one of his best seasons (interception-wise) in four years. Gase would instill an offense that would be similar to the one that Chip Kelly ran in terms of pace and getting rid of the ball quickly. But the one difference is he uses the running game better than Chip does. That would help utilize DeMarco Murray more and also help the offense and whoever is quarterbacking that team next season. And the defense more than likely would stay in a 3-4 since that is what he is used to having. The one question always about Gase is how smart is he and did the quarterbacks he had make him look better than what he is? Are the Eagles willing to hedge their bet financially that he is the creator of the system? Only time will tell.

The Eagles had problems offensively this season, but they did have some issues defensively, especially with their defensive backs. Teryl Austin is a former defensive backs coach in his career and he also is the defensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions. The defense was excellent last season under him when he had defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and crew running wild up front. This season, they got off to a rough start, but they were able to get it going this season down the stretch. One thing that Austin would bring to the Eagles was a sense of urgency at all times. His defenses always hustle and play at breakneck speed. Adding him to this organization would mean a switch of defenses (from the 3-4 to the 4-3), but it would also mean that there would be a former defensive backs coach there to maybe help bring the Eagles defensive backfield, which has struggled the last two seasons. If he could solve that and then keep the rest of the defense on par, then the Eagles may be solid there. The one question (along with who will be playing quarterback next season in Philly) will be what will the offense look like? Will he run more of a power offense to support a physical defense or will the offense be something of a wide-open offense. The offensive ideas that he could potentially tell the Eagles brass (should he get the call for an interview) could make or break his candidacy for the Philadelphia job. But either way, he would be a solid hire due to his infectious energy and his accountability he holds players to.

These three candidates would fit in Philly. Of course there are some question marks about them, but there are also some positives that they will bring to the Eagles organization. And most of all, each hire has something that will help the prized free agents the Eagles signed last offseason. The reality is Murray and Maxwell are not going anywhere anytime soon. You may as well bring in a coach that can help maximize their abilities instead of letting them waste away and having to eat all that guaranteed money. It should be interesting to see who they hire next. But as far as the Chip Kelly experiment, it all went horribly wrong once they gave a man that had won nothing absolute power.

For more sports talk, feel free to follow me on Twitter or check me out on Facebook.

The Detroit Lions’ Issues Run Deeper Than Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford got benched this past Sunday in favor of Dan Orlovsky. (photo courtesy of Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press)

Matthew Stafford got benched this past Sunday in favor of Dan Orlovsky. (photo courtesy of Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press)

The Detroit Lions were a team that some thought would be competitive in the NFC this season. They have Calvin Johnson at wide receiver, Matthew Stafford at quarterback and a defense that was very good last season. Well, things have not exactly gone according to plan for then this season. The Lions are 0-5 heading into Week Six and they seem to be going nowhere fast. The defense cannot get it done consistently and surprisingly the offense is not as consistent as they were thought to be. And just when it was thought to not get any worse, the Cardinals came to Detroit this past weekend and beat the Lions 42-17. Along with the beatdown in Motown, the Lions also pulled starting quarterback Matthew Stafford. The veteran quarterback out of the University of Georgia has been struggling this season and had thrown just one touchdown pass to three interceptions versus Arizona. After the game, there were some questions as to what the Lions needed to do next. And there were actually some that felt that Orlovsky should get the start ahead of Matthew Stafford. Well, to that, folks have lost their minds.

Stafford has had some bad moments this season, but not all of the problems with this team are on him alone. For example, let’s take a look at the Lions running game. The Lions have Joique Bell, Ameer Abdullah and a host of others that have tried to give them a jolt in the running game. But unfortunately, it has been non-existent this season. The Lions are averaging only 2.8 yards per rush and 49 yards per game rushing. That kind of production in the running game will not beat anyone. Sure, they have faced defenses like the Seahawks and the Cardinals early, but there is no excuse for that lackluster production running the football. That is not solely on the running backs, as the offensive line has not been sticking on blocks, but they both have to do better than that. With the team not doing that well rushing, all the pressure now falls on the passing game of the Lions. And with them struggling, Stafford and Johnson have no one to take any pressure off them. Stafford and Johnson are two of the highest-paid players there and many will say that they have to elevate the level of this team on offense. But there are not many quarterback/wide receiver combos that can overcome that kind of running futility. And it is because of that, teams are just teeing off on the Lions in the passing game. There is no fear of the run from them.

The Lions starting quarterback also does not play defense. Many point the blame at the offense but the defense has been subpar this season. One reason they have been bad is because of linebacker DeAndre Levy missing time with an injury for most of the season. But one thing you can say is that there have been issues all over the place for them. Teryl Austin’s defense had their centerpiece in Ndamukong Suh last year. But this year, his presence is definitely missing. The Lions gave up only 69 yards per game last season on their way to being a Top 10 defense. Well, this season they are 23rd overall and they are giving up over 126 yards per game. That is almost double of what they did last year. And instead of giving up 18 points per game like they did last season, the defense is giving up 27 points per game. No defense in the NFL can win consistently giving up that many points. And it ultimately puts pressure on an offense that is still trying to figure itself out under Joe Lombardi. The only way they would be able to win is if the Lions were putting up 30+ points per game. They can be an explosive offense, but they are not prolific enough that they can put up over 30 every single game. That would be asking a lot of them to do and that is not something they are capable of at this time. Of course they could be doing better than 17 points per game, but they are not going to put up numbers like Kurt Warner and crew did in St. Louis as the Greatest Show on Turf.

The Lions have some issues and most of the fingers seem to point at the quarterback of this team. But if you take him out and put Dan Orlovsky in, this team will be worse off than they were with Stafford. And instead of having a chance to win every week, the team will be put in a position to lose. Rather than taking Stafford out, maybe Joe Lombardi should try and figure out what he can do to make his quarterback and offense look good. And as far as the defense, maybe Teryl Austin needs to change some things. Stafford has not been great, but this team has not really been great as a whole.

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