Thursday, October 18, 2012

Making Sense of the Madness

So we're six weeks into the NFL season and only one thing is clear; nothing is clear. Whether it's parody, officiating, or just sloppy play week in and week out the we see results of games that just shock us. The only team that has managed to come out of this the first six weeks unscathed, the Falcons, has almost lost in back to back TO BACK weeks to teams like the Raiders, Redskins, and Panthers. (Not exactly murderers row.) We've got the all mighty Patriots having suffered losses to teams like the Seahawks and Cardinals, the Giants fall asleep in a game vs the Browns but come back the next week to dominate the 49ers, and the Packers start the season 2-3 but then absolutely slaughter the 5-0 Texans! What the heck is going on here?!?!

It almost seems like records mean nothing at this point in the season. You have to accept that your team is probably going to come in and take a dump against some team that on paper they seem like they should handle. The key is not to over react to after each game. But if we can't look at records to figure out what teams we should take seriously, that what should we look at? Well, I think it's actually pretty simple. Based on my football watching experience, which is quite plentiful, in this modern NFL there are 4 things you need to have in order to be a legitimate title contender, a reliable QB, a good coach, an offensive line, and an effective defensive scheme. Now when I say "reliable QB" I don't mean elite, I mean reliable. You can pretty much put your team's QB through the Alex Smith, "will he lose the game for me?", test. If the answer is no, than you have one part of the puzzle. The next one is obvious. You need a head coach who can handle pregame preparation, in-game adjustments, and clock management (LOOKING AT YOU JASON GARRET!) if you're confident with your HC's ability to manage those things than that's your next piece! It's impossible to understate the importance of an offensive line in modern football, especially with the complimentary importance of pass rush. The funny thing is that this season I have seen some of the WORST offensive line play in years! It's be so bad it's almost offensive! (ZING!) So if your offensive line can protect your QB than you pass that test. And finally an effective defensive scheme. Originally I was going to say pass rush but I like defensive scheme better because it covers a broader scope. So essentially if you trust your defense can make an important stop and make the opposing QBs life tough than there you go, you have an effective defensive scheme.

So based on those four traits what team are contenders and which are pretenders? And which are somewhere in the middle.. Let me try and break it down for you in no particular order.

Contenders (Teams I could see standing when it's all said and done)
Atlanta Falcons  - Are the lucky or are they good in close games? Regardless, they're undefeated.
Houston Texans.
New York Giants - Finally the pass rush has arrived! That coupled with possibly the best QB in the league and you have to like the Giants. (homer-ism)
San Francisco 49ers.
Baltimore Ravens - Flacco is going to have to compensate for what is becoming an absolutely ordinary defense, Suggs being back should help but how much? For now they pass the test..
Green Bay Packers - They are who we thought they were! Just maybe not as great..
New England Patriots - Belichick-Brady-Young pass rushers. They'll figure it out. In the meantime, I'll save your seat on the bandwagon, dad.
Chicago Bears.

On the Verge (Close to passing the test, just missing something)
Seattle Seahawks - Just don't trust Russel Wilson yet but everything else is there. (KICKING MYSELF THAT RUSSEL WILSON IS MY STARTING FANTASY QB)
Dallas Cowboys - Jason Garret needs to learn how to tell time.
Pittsburgh Steelers - Close to being contenders but the o-line is too bad to ignore.
Minnesota Vikings.
Miami Dolphins - Very under rated defense, Tannehill has been impressive but not sure he's ready to pass the Alex Smith test.
Denver Broncos - I just don't buy this defense.

Limbo (Teams that pass the "blah" test. They're not very good but not terrible and don't necessarily pass the 4 tests but due to schedule or other reasons may over-achieve)
New York Jets - Click here for my thoughts on the Jets.
Cincinnati Bengals.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Buffalo Bills - Where in the world is Mario Williams?

Pretenders (Teams I think will fall off if they already haven't)
Arizona Cardinals - One of the worst offensive lines I've ever seen. Not to mention the lacking of a real QB.
Philadelphia Eagles - Selling all of my shares on Michael Vick. Plus, I think Andy Reid is going to lose his job eventually.
Washington Redskins.
San Diego Chargers - See Norv Turner.
Detroit Lions.
Indianapolis Colts - Probably not fair that they're on this list. Give them a year or two to move up.
St. Louis Rams.
New Orleans Saints - Vomiting, impotence, and anal leaking: All side effects of the Saints defense.

The Worst of the Rest (This is where teams go to die.)
Cleveland Browns - Have shown promise in a few games but overall not much too look forward to this year for Browns fans. God hates Cleveland.
Tennessee Titans - Has anyone taken a dump on an entire organization than Chris Johnson in recent history? Still, probably the best team on this list.
Kansas City Chiefs.
Oakland Raiders.
Carolina Panthers.
Jacksonville Jaguars - ZZZzzzzzzzzzz

Well excuuuuuuuse me! Here come my picks for this weekends action.

Seattle (+7.5)  at San Francisco
Arizona (+5.5) at Minnesota
Baltimore (+6.5) at Houston

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tebowing All Over the Sanchize

So any of you who follow my twitter handle (@StudentofSports) know that this season I have been plagued with the unfortunate pleasure of having to watch the the Jets suffer through the ugliest 2-3 start I have ever seen. As a New York area Giants fan, with an unhealthy obsession for football, I devote my Sundays to football and nothing else. And while the Giants aren't playing I'm compelled to watch what other game is on TV and that game usually includes that circus of a football team known as the Jets. Through 5 weeks of the season I have had to use every fiber of my being to NOT get physically sick and ruin my various football jerseys while watching these games. Well, although the Jets performed admirably and better than most expected this past Monday night against the Texans (Having said that, I did pick the Jets with the spread -7.5, so I had  some idea they'd perform better than expected.)  I couldn't help but walk away feeling that same sickening feeling in my stomach verging on the regurgitation of that night's dinner. You see, it's not WHAT the Jets are doing that repulses me as a football fan, it's HOW they're going about doing it. So as somebody who has watches plenty of football I'm going to try and explain the almost "Divine" comedy that is the 2012-13 New York Jets season.

So any logical thinking Jets fan must have been pretty annoyed this past offseason when the Jets shipped a 4th and 6th round pick to the Denver Broncos in exchange for the chosen one himself, Tim Tebow. Now, I'm actually a great fan of Tebow's! I believe he has great leadership abilities and a Russel-like desire to win, I also respect his faith and the fact that he's not afraid to be proud in what he believes in in what is largely a secular country. But the Jets didn't need Tebow! At least not as long as they had Mark Sanchez! Sure, Mark Sanchez has struggled and a lot of fans were concerned with his lack of progression last season but he is a QB who led the Jets to BACK TO BACK AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES! Not only that, but he was surrounded with headaches pleasantly disguising themselves as wide receivers in the shape of Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress! So safe to say he wasn't in the greatest situation to succeed. I remember an interview on The Fan where Jets' GM Mike Tannenbaum said that in the offseason one of his goals would be to improve the depth at the QB postition, I thought that was a good idea! Not because you wanted to bring in somebody to replace Sanchez but because you'd prefer your backup QB not to be the rotting corpse of a bankrupt Mark Brunell and somebody who might be able to give Sanchez a little push. The only problem with that was there wasn't much of a selection. Unless your still on the Vince Young bandwagon, a bandwagon more bankrupt than Mark Brunell, the only real quality backup was Kyle Orton, who went to Dallas. So the Jets did the logical thing and brought in a career 2nd or 3rd stinger in Drew Stanton who would at least by an improvement over Great Granddaddy Brunell. Oh, but you KNEW the Jets weren't done. Then out of nowhere they ink a deal with the Broncos to get Tebow and all Hell broke loose! (Ironic that Tebow's arrival signaled Hell breaking loose.) Next thing you know Stanton is a Colt and poor Mark Sanchez is in a media driven QB battle with the most popular and divisive player in the league. So what did I, along with most logical people forecast would happen? Sanchez would start the season but as he struggled the "TEEE-BOW" chants would start getting louder. Then after about a quarter of the season and a few disappointing losses pure mayhem would ensue and the fans and a rabid Skip Bayless would be crying for Tebowmania to finally take over and Sanchez be benched. Well, 5 weeks into the season what do you think happened? Yup, exactly that.

After watching the best and worst of Sanchez for the past 4 seasons I've come to the conclusion that his performance ways greatly on confidence. In his rookie season he was a high draft pick who was the starting QB in the Big Apple with a defense and running game that would be able to mask any of his probable weaknesses. He didn't have much to lose! And in turn I'm sure his confidence was at an all time high, which echoed in his performance, which although it wasn't always pretty, he was able to guide his team to back to back AFC title games in his first two years. In year 3 it wasn't as pretty. His running game had disappeared, the defense no longer elite, and the offense was more tailored for a passing game. So more pressure was on the Sanchize to succeed and when he inevitably came up short, he was still only 24 you know, the boo birds came out in flocks. This undoubtedly hurt his confidence and subsequently his performance. This season, the one he was hoping to turn over a new leaf and regain said confidence, they bring Tebow in! Of course Sanchez says all the right things, plays nice, but there is NOWAY that didn't screw with his delicate psyche. So as I watch the Jets offense this season, coordinated by the totally inept Tony Sparano, I notice something funny; It's almost as if the Jets go completely out of there way to disallow Sanchez from cultivating any real confidence. They haven't used Tebow too much, but just enough to screw with Marky-Mark. Just while Sanchez is finally orchestrating a drive that appears to be gaining momentum, they spell in Tebow for a play and completely throw off the mojo. And you can't just throw off the mojo! So then Sanchez is back in, having lost all that momentum and inevitably the drive fails. I watch this week in and week out and have come to the conclusion that Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano could not be the masterminds behind this low-flow offense, no the only logical explanation is that there is a crate full of squirrels somewhere assigned with the task of randomly selecting the Jets playbook. MAKES TOTAL SENSE.

And then we have the mad science experiment they seem to be having with Tebow. If the key to Sanchez is confidence than the key to Tebow is rhythm and momentum. Have you ever watched the man? With any sort of momentum he turns into a freaking freight train. So, how do the Jets get Tebow in rhythm? They bring him in for one play on a random series and have him run right into the line, only to then take him out on the subsequent play. Folks, you can't make this stuff up. Why not give him an entire possession? I'm not saying start him, but since you obviously don't care about Sanchez' confidence then would it kill you to give Tebow an entire series and see if he can cultivate the rhythm and momentum necessary to give the entire team a boost? AND DON'T GET ME STARTED ON HOW IMPRACTICAL AND DUMB IT IS TO BE PLAYING TEBOW AT WIDE RECEIVER. (Once again, I'm assuming this is the work of the squirrels.)  It's like they care too much about Sanchez to give Tebow any real opportunity but like Tebow too much to put Sanchez in a position to thrive. I'm dumb-founded and my intelligence as a football fan is insulted.

Let's face the facts, Tebow is here. And since Tebow is here and it's tough to imagine a situation where Sanchez is allowed to regain his confidence I don't see why it would hurt to at least give Tebow a real shot. If you want to use him USE HIM and stop yankin us all around. In reality the Jets are at a fork in the road, Sanchez Street and Tebow Avenue. Rather then chose any of the two paths Rex Ryan, Tony Sparano, and the rest of the organization are taking a dump right in the middle.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Opening Day, You Know.. The One After the First Two Opening Days

Getting the Brett "the Threat" Gardner MVP campaign going early.

We've waited for this day. We've prematurely drafted our fantasy teams in anticipation for it but then had to wait weeks that went by slower than your grandma's molasses. We've experienced not one, but two days that tried to pretend like they were this day... But they felt more like bad sequels of movies that try to replicate the feeling of the original but seemingly always come up short.There can only be one and finally, IT's here; Major League Baseball's opening day.

So what can we expect this season? Well, I'll tell you what I expect.

American League
East: New York Yankees
Central: Detroit Tigers
West: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Wild Card 1: Texas Rangers
Wild Card 2: Boston Red Sox (WOAH!)

MVP: Adrian Gonzalez (Watch for his power numbers to go up.)
Cy Young: Justin Verlander (...again)

Bold Prediction: Something that I kinda already mentioned, the Red Sox will make the playoffs over the Tampa Bay Rays. Maybe since I'm a Yankee fan I respect them too much but I look at their team and they still scare the crap out of me. You know they're gonna hit and if Buccholz and Lester can have years they're capable of their starting pitching all of a sudden becomes pretty deng formidable. On paper their bullpen is definitely a weakness but I love Aceves and think they'll be able to make some sort of move at the deadline. Plus the additions of manager Bobby Valentine and outfielder Cody Ross give the team the kind of gritty wackiness that everyone seemed to loved when they were winning rings. And just a side note, have you looked at the Rays offense this year? I'm sorry, not buying it. Plus, their "great" pitching staff is relying on David Price, a rookie, a guy who just came off a year he will never replicate, and a couple other guys who aren't exactly proven commodities. So in conclusion, if the Red Sox can stay away from Joe Canal's and KFC, I think they'll surprise some people.

National League
East: Atlanta Braves (...)
Central: Milwaukee Brewers
West: San Francisco Giants
Wild Card 1: Philadelphia Phillies
Wild Card 2: Arizona Diamondbacks

MVP: Buster Posey (The media seems to worship this kid.)
Cy Young: Zack Greinke

Bold Prediction: Have you looked at the Phillies lineup for opening day? With question marks surrounding Utley and Howard how are they supposed to generate any offense? Plus, it doesn't seem like anyone has noticed but without Roy Oswalt there starting pitching isn't nearly as good or deep as it was last year. Granted they still have the big 3 up front but unless "Halleemels" decides to juice up and start jacking long balls for the offense I seriously doubt they'll get much run support. I know, me picking them to get a wild card is kinda a hedge but I didn't have the cajones to go all the way with it. Maybe they pick up a bat at the deadline? So even if the Phillies do make the playoffs, it'll be a struggle.


ALCS: NY Yankees over LA Angels
NLCS: Milwaukee Brewers over Arizona Diamondbacks

World Series: NY Yankees over Milwaukee Brewers.  (HOOOORAHHHHH!)

So there it is, my opinion on how this season is going to go. Now I implore you all to go to Vegas and bet on the complete opposite! I will spend this season watching Yankee games and starting the Brett "the Threat" Gardner MVP campaign. (Let's just say there is plenty of leg room on this bandwagon.) I hope you all enjoy a great season from your favorite team. So let the Mets jokes begin! (Oh wait, there is never an offseason when it comes to making fun of the Mets..)

Class Dismissed,
Student of Sports

Follow me on twitter @StudentofSports

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Linning Me Over

Ahhhh it's been too deng long! It took something pretty incredible to get me back on the horse, to REALLY motivate me. I think we all know what that is...

You know it’s funny; I love the NBA. Regardless of that love though, I’ve never really had a favorite team. It’s not like it’s uncharacteristic of me to obsess over a single team, after-all I LITERALLY live and die by the New York Giants and watch every Yankees game that I can. For the NBA though, it’s always been different. Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up in a basketball house or maybe it’s because the teams most local to me, the Nets and the Knicks, have been irrelevant for much of my lifetime.  Sure I’ve frequently gone to Nets games (Who wouldn’t at those seller dweller prices?!?!) and sure I always catch the Knicks whenever they’re on TV. I would never consider myself a fanatic of either though, just a fan of the game. It was as iff the Knicks were my “adopted” team that I literally just watched and rooted for because they were on. That was until a couple weeks ago…

THIS Knicks team makes me feel different.

I had watched the Knicks pretty regularly this season, albeit mostly for the jokes. They were a sad team with no rhythm or flow. No offense, no defense. (Come to think of it those are two very integral parts of a team. Was that Knicks team even a “team” at all?) Carmelo was in and out with injury and Amar’e was not playing up to the level he is used to. The worst part was, they had nothing that was even remotely similar to a point guard. Well that was until…


Jeremy Lin has taken not only New York, but also the sports world by storm. What makes this story so great? Is it because the Knicks were trash before he got in to rotation? Is it because he’s from Harvard, was undrafted, and cut by multiple NBA teams? Maybe because he’s Asian? Oh I know! It’s because he’s playing in New York.. Or it could be the fact that the Knicks are winning.. Or what about how well he is playing? What’s crazy is that this story is that it’s not one (two fingers pointing at you Floyd Mayweather), but all these things. And do you know what’s even MORE crazy? None of those things are my favorite part.

So what is my favorite part about the Lin Dynasty (my personal fave) so far? It’s the way the Knicks have looked as a team. Maybe I’m nuts (wouldn’t be the first time) but it seems like these guys actually like each other. Watching that kinda team basketball makes you can’t help but like them! Maybe this is only temporary but I love this team, and right now there is not TEAM (emphasis on team) that I’d rather be watching! We all know what Lin has been doing but what about the all around play of Landry Fields who is always in the right spot at the right time? And Iman Shumpert (Who, oh by the way, wins the award for coolest twitter avatar in all of sports.) who is turning into one of the best on ball defenders in the league! How about Jarred Jeffries who seems like the heart of this team! And the great white hope, Steve Novak knocking down 3’s left and right! How do you like Tyson Chandler very quietly being the team’s most consistent and reliable player night in and night out! I am convinced that if you put the White Momba himself, Brian Scalabrine, on this team he’d even be a contributing factor! This is awesome to watch and to be quite honest I cannot get enough.

There is one buzz killing disclaimer I, as a levelheaded fan need to point out. Jeremy Lin is not and will not ever be perfect.

I was watching the Knicks take on the Raptors this week with a couple of buddies. During the game I could see them on the edge of their seats with ever twist and turn of Jeremy Lin’s game. It was almost as if they felt like if he had a bad game the entire roller coaster ride was over. Like it was doomed to fail. I tried to remind them, and even myself, that Jeremy Lin is not going to be great every single night. (Jeremy Lin did his best to disproof this point that night, but that’s neither here nor there.) The Knicks aren’t going to win every game for the rest of the year either. It’s just not going to happen. So if it is at all possible I implore all Knicks fans to stay even keel and just enjoy the ride. There will probably be some bumps along the way but what is important is that now this team is in better shape to make a playoff run than it was just a month ago and no single game will change that. But for now, let’s just enjoy this thing because without exaggeration this is a one and a million story that only keeps getting better.

Oh and one last note; I have an Asian-American friend currently studying economics at Harvard. If he does not end up becoming a trail blazing starting point guard in the NBA, he has failed me.

Class Dismissed,
Student of Sports

Friday, December 23, 2011

Go For It or Stay Away Week 16

Here it is, this is Championship Week for the majority of Fantasy Football players. If you are still alive your team is probably pretty set, but I am here for your help anyways. I love this time of the season, because every single decision that you make can potentially make or break you. It is crunch time, time to bring your best. Lets get started.

Go For It


Cam Newton Car- When looking at solid matchups for Cam Newton, I look for weak defenses as a whole. Not just poor pass defenses, but also teams who struggle against the run. Well, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers definitely fit that bill. I look for Cam to go off in this game. He is an absolute must start, Go For It! Honorable Mention- Tim Tebow, Matt Ryan, and Mark Sanchez.

Running Backs

Rashard Mendenhall Pit- If you are a Mendenhall owner and are reading this column, you probably have a pretty strong team. Mendenhall has been so disappointing this season, so I assume if you made the finals in your league, it was not on the back on Rasard Mendenhall. I think this is the week that he receives your forgiveness. I love the matchup this week against the Rams who are the 32nd ranked team against the run in the NFL. Not to mention, with Big Ben banged up I expect to see a heavy dose of the run. Start Mendenhall with confidence.

Willis McGahee Den- Denver plays the Buffalo Bills this week, who have been terrible against the run this year, especially recently. He is a bit banged up but it appears he is going to play. Assuming he plays McGahee is a must start this week. Go For It! Honorable Mention- LeGarrette Blount, Ryan Matthews, and Reggie Bush.

Wide Receivers

Demaryius Thomas Den- Love the matchup for the Broncos all over the field against the Bills. Thomas has been Tim Tebow's number one target the past few weeks. I do think that the Broncos run the ball a lot in this game, but the Bills secondary can certainly be beat deep. That is where Thomas comes in. I like him a lot this week.

Santana Moss Was- I like Moss as a good #2 option this week. Since returning from injury he has obviously returned as Rex Grossman's number one target. He gets the Minnesota Vikings this week, whose secondary is atrocious. Go For It when it comes to Santana Moss this week. Honorable Mention- Brandon Marshall, AJ Green, and Victor Cruz.

Tight End

Jermichael Finley GB- With Jennings out Rodgers looked for Finley much more than he did before. I think they lean on him heavily in this Christmas Day game against the Bears. Remember last time against Chicago? Finley scored 3 times, start him with extreme confindence. Honorable Mention- Aaron Hernandez, Brent Celek, and Dustin Keller.

Stay Away


Eli Manning NYG- Manning has been great this season, but in the championship game of your fantasy league, it is really tough to start a guy against one of the pass defenses in the league, unless he is a top 5 guy (which I do not think Eli is). I just feel there are much better options out there than Eli Manning against Darrell Revis and Co. Stay Away. Dishonorable Mention- Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger.

Running Backs

BenJarvus Green-Ellis NE- The law firm has been very up and down this season. He may score and salvage a decent game, but I am staying away from him in such an important week against a good rush defense in Miami.

Marshawn Lynch Sea- As great as Lych has been, I cannot recommend a running back against the 49ers defense. They have not given up a rushing TD all season! If you have to start Lynch but I would be looking for other options. Dishonorable Mention- Roy Helu, Any GB RB, and Ahmad Bradshaw.

Wide Receivers

Brandon Lloyd Stl- I think that Lloyd will get the attention of the Steelers defense all day. Not to mention the Steelers allow the fewest fantasy points to opposing Wide Receivers in the league. Stay Away.

Hakeem Nicks NYG- Boy, Nicks could have had a great day last week. He had some key drops that killed his team, and ripped the hearts out of his fantasy owners. This week, he will probably be on Revis Island. You may not have better options, but if possible I am staying away from Nicks. Dishonorable Mention- Stevie Johnson, Nate Washington, and Laurent Robinson.

Tight End

Kellen Winslow TB- He is a guy that needs to score a touchdown to be successful, and he has not scored in a while. Freeman just does not seem to look for him as much. I am not a big Winslow fan this week. Stay Away. Dishonorable Mention- Mercedes Lewis and Heath Miller

There you have it guys. I hope this helps you in your goal to take down your league title. If you need any more help do not hesitate to send me a Tweet @FfootballQA. Good luck and Happy Holidays!