Archive for October, 2012

NFL Week 8 Review

Posted: 10/30/2012 by levcohen in Football

*= upset pick

Note: I got just the pick wrong on Thursday night, correctly picking the over and the Bucs cover.

Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears:
Spread: Bears favored by 7.5 points
Over/under: 42.5
My prediction: Bears- 27, Panthers- 16
Bears cover
Over

Results: Bears- 23, Panthers- 22.. obviously, this was closer than I’d thought it would be. In fact, if not for late game heroics from the Bears defense, I would be looking at a 1/3. The football gods decided that I’d have enough bad picks today, so I get a 2/3 here.

San Diego Chargers at Cleveland Browns:
Spread: Chargers favored by 3
Over/under: 43.5
My prediction: Chargers- 24, Browns- 20
Chargers cover
Over

Results: Browns- 7, Chargers- 6… Ugh! Originally, I had this as an upset. 24-20 Browns, to be exact, which would have netted me a 2/3. I went away from my gut, and it cost me with an 0/3.

Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions*:
Spread: Lions favored by 2.5
Over/under: 43.5
My prediction: Seahawks- 17, Lions- 13
Seahawks cover
Under

Results: Lions- 28, Seahawks- 24… Another 0/3. Moving on.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Green Bay Packers:- Lock
Spread: Packers favored by 14.5
Over/under: 45.5
My prediction: Packers- 30, Jaguars- 17
Jaguars cover
Over

Results: Packers- 24, Jaguars- 15.. Got 2/3 on this one, with only the over/under wrong.

Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans:
Spread: Titans favored by 3.5
Over/under: 47
My prediction: Titans- 35, Colts- 32
Colts cover
Over

Results: Colts- 19, Titans- 13.. Another 0/3

New England Patriots *at* St. Louis Rams: (game in London)
Spread: Patriots favored by 7
Over/under: 47
My prediction: Patriots- 26, Rams- 17
Patriots cover
Under

Results: Patriots- 45, Rams- 7.. 2/3. Over/under wrong.

Miami Dolphins at New York Jets:
Spread: Jets favored by 2.5
Over/under: 38
My prediction: Jets- 23, Dolphins- 21
Dolphins cover
Over

Results: Dolphins- 30, Jets- 9.. I get bailed out by my own sloppiness here. I had at first thought that the spread was 2, giving the Jets the cover. But it turns out it was 2.5, so I had the Dolphins covering. I should have been 3 for 3, but I again didn’t go with my gut.

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles*:
Spread: Eagles favored by 3
Over/under: 42.5
My prediction: Falcons- 23, Eagles- 2o (hope I’m wrong)
Falcons cover
Over

Results: Falcons- 30, Eagles- 17.. Of course, my first 3/3 comes at the expense of my favorite team. Maybe I should always  be this pessimistic.

Washington Redskins at Pittsburgh Steelers:
Spread: Steelers favored by 4
Over/under: 44.5
My prediction: Steelers- 27, Redskins- 24
Redskins cover
Over

Results: Steelers- 27, Redskins- 12.. Only got the pick right.

Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs*:
Spread: Chiefs favored by 1
Over/under: 42
My prediction: Raiders- 23, Chiefs- 13
Raiders cover
Under

Results: Raiders- 26, Chiefs- 16.. Well, this was a correct upset pick. It hit the over/under exactly, so I’ll get a tie in that.

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys*:
Spread: Giants favored by 2.5
Over/under: 48
My prediction: Cowboys- 24, Giants- 21
Cowboys cover
Under

Results: Giants- 29, Cowboys- 24.. SO INFURIATING! The Cowboys really should have won. 0/3.

New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos*:
Spread: Broncos favored by 6.5
Over/under: 55
My prediction: Saints- 35, Broncos- 31
Saints cover
Over

Results: Broncos- 34, Saints- 14.. Another 0/3, I don’t want to talk about it.

San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals:- Monday Night
Spread: 49ers favored by 7
Over/under: 38.5
My prediction: 49ers- 14, Cardinals- 9
Cardinals cover
Under

Results: 49ers- 24, Cardinals-3.. Got the spread wrong, other two right.

7-7 on pick.. 64-54 total
6-8 on spread… 61-57 total
5-8-1 on over/under… 58-59-1 total

Another bad week.

Upset picks:
Cowboys over Giants- INCORRECT
Saints over Broncos- INCORRECT
Raiders over Chiefs- CORRECT
Falcons over Eagles- CORRECT
Seahawks over Lions- INCORRECT

11-18 total.

Lock of the week:
Packers over Jaguars- CORRECT

7-1 total.

Fantasy:
QB of the week: Matthew Stafford, Lions- Only 1 of the top 7 QB’s this week threw an interception. That would be Stafford. However, aside from the pick he completed 34 passes for 352 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tom Brady threw for 300+ yards and 4 touchdowns with no interceptions, but Stafford gets the nod because he also had 12 yards rushing and a rushing touchdown.

Surprising QB of the week: Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars- In the past 5 games, Gabbert was averaging 129 yards per game and had only 4 touchdowns with 4 turnovers in that span. Of course he went out and threw for 300 yards on Sunday against a theoretically good defensive team, the Packers. Sadly, he only threw for one touchdown but it’s still a surprisingly good day for the young quarterback

Disappointing QB of the week: Eli Manning, Giants- Going into this game, here were Manning’s stats
in 3 away games: 790 yards with 4 touchdowns and 1 interception, averaging out to over 260 yards. This game, he had just 192 yards with 0 touchdowns and 1 interception, his 8th of the season and first game without a touchdown.

RB of the week: Doug Martin, Buccaneers- And it isn’t even close. His 135 yards rushing led all running backs, no running back had more than his 1 rushing touchdown, and he added 79 yards receiving with a receiving touchdown. Monster game.

Surprising RB of the week: Dexter McCluster, Chiefs- How does a running back who accumulates just two carries be the surprising RB of the week? It’s simple- He amassed 54 yards and a touchdown as a receiver

Disappointing RB of the week: Jamaal Charles, Chiefs- I’m quoting all Jamaal Charles fantasy owners when I say this, “Hey, I thought he was supposed to be the workhorse and only consistent option in the Chiefs offense!” Charles was given the ball 5 times and rushed for 4 yards, and he caught 3 passes.. for 6 yards.

WR of the week: Titus Young, Lions- Young caught 9 balls for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Good game, and you could buy low on him before he has more of these games.

Surprising WR of the week: Clyde Gates, Jets- Who?? Yeah, him. He had caught 4 passes for 57 yards IN HIS CAREER before this game. He broke out to the tune of 7 catches for 82 yards.

Disappointing WR of the week: Victor Cruz, Giants- No touchdown dance for him this week, as the #1 ranked WR ended with just 2 catches for 21 yards.

TE of the week: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots- GRONKK.. 8 catches, 146 yards, 2 touchdowns seems legit. Although Jason Witten had a pretty good game too.. An astounding 18 catches for 167 yards.

Surprising TE of the week: Leonard Pope, Steelers- It was a fluky touchdown, but it was 6 points nonetheless. Pope had 1 catch for 7 yards this year coming into this game, and he caught 1 pass for 1 yard in this game.. but had a touchdown.

Disappointing TE of the week: Antonio Gates, Chargers- His last game was an 81 yard, 2 touchdown game. He was rested, coming off the bye. Expectations were high. And he caught 2 passes for 14 yards.

Key injuries:
Brady Quinn, QB: For anyone desperate enough to rely on Brady Quinn, you are now even more desperate. He has a head injury.
Blaine Gabbert, QB: Slightly better than Quinn. Has a leg injury.

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Full NBA 2012-13 Season Predictions

Posted: 10/29/2012 by levcohen in Basketball

I’ve made an executive decision to cut off the Offseason Reports (sorry to the 5 or so teams I didn’t cover). Today, I will have my full 2012-13 predictions, starting with the projected standings:
Eastern Conference:
1. Miami Heat (67-15).. This is obvious. The defending champions didn’t lose anything in the offseason. On top of that, they also added some guys who will be key contributors off the bench. The big 3 in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh is back and better than ever, and with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis nailing 3’s off the bench, this team is scary.

2. Indiana Pacers (54-28).. I think the Pacers are going to take advantage of a poor division, as they have two potential East cellar dwellers- Detroit and Cleveland- and another team that probably won’t make the playoffs- Milwaukee. The 5th team in the division is the Bulls without Derrick Rose. This team has plenty of depth and young talent to compensate for their lack of star power.

3. Boston Celtics (47-35).. This is the last year that the current group of Celtics will win the Atlantic division, for a few reasons. One is that they are aging. Paul Pierce is 35. Kevin Garnett is 36. New addition Jason Terry is 35. They still have some talented young players, namely Rajon Rondo, Brandon Bass and Courtney Lee. The second reason is that the rest of the division is improving, and most of it is younger. Both of the New York teams, Philly and even Toronto should be forces for the next 5 years, while Boston will be declining. Having said all that, I do think they have one more run in them, which is why I have them winning the division.

4. New York Knicks (45-37).. The Knicks are going to be good this season, but I’m still skeptical. They got a lot older this offseason, adding 4 of the oldest players in the NBA. Age isn’t always a bad thing, as the Celtics have demonstrated, but it’s also rarely an advantage. With Amare Stoudemire out for a month or two, Carmelo Anthony will have to shoot more than ever, no matter how much he promises to pass it more. Raymond Felton says he has lost weight, but I’ll believe that when I see it. In the West, this might be a 7 or 8 seed. But in the weak Eastern conference, I have to give them the 4 seed.

5. Philadelphia 76ers (44-38).. The third straight team in the Atlantic Division logjam is the 76ers. This team sort of reversed their identity this offseason. Last year, they were a gritty team, and great defensively, but they struggled on 3 point shots and in scoring. After losing two of their best defensive players, Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand, and adding three players who are not known for their defensive prowess (in fact, they are known for being bad at defense) in Jason Richardson, Dorell Wright and Nick Young. They are not a pretty bad defensive team. At the same time, they got much better on the offensive side. The three guys I mentioned are all very good shooters, and Andrew Bynum will make this team a dynamic offense, even in the halfcourt offense, where they struggled last year.

6. Atlanta Hawks (43-39).. I like the Hawks. They lost Joe Johnson, but they added a ton of quality but unspectacular pieces. Down low, few can compete with a Josh Smith-Al Horford combo. All the talk about the end of the Hawks playoff “run” is overrated.

7. Chicago Bulls (41-41).. The Bulls without Derrick Rose until the allstar break would love to finish as the seven seed, and they’ll be able to do that because of three things. One is the lack of talent in the East. Two is the extreme lack of good teams in the Central division. Three is that they actually still have a solid team, even without Rose. Luol Deng and Joakim Noah are both extremely good players.

8. Milwaukee Bucks (39-43).. This is a surprise pick. The Bucks have been the 9th ranked team the last few years, so I’m predicting this is the year they break through and make the playoffs. Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings will have to find a way to make it work.

9. Toronto Raptors (39-43).. By virtue of the tiebreaker, the Raptors barely miss out on the playoffs, but avoid the Atlantic basement. All in all, a decent season for Toronto.

10. Brooklyn Nets (37-45).. My big playoff snub is the Nets. They certainly have talent, but they have no depth so I’m predicting they miss out on the playoffs, and Deron Williams is sad that he ever re-signed with the Nets.

11. Detroit Pistons (34-48).. I actually like the Pistons, but they are still rebuilding. Look for Andre Drummond to struggle, but still get quality minutes. I think Greg Monroe will break out this year.

12. Washington Wizards (30-52).. The Wizards aren’t good. 30 wins is solid, though, for a team that won 20 last year, albeit in 66 games.

13. Cleveland Cavaliers (29-53).. Kyrie Irving can only carry the Cavs so far.

14. Orlando Magic (20-62).. The Magic should find a way to win 20 games, but just barely. They have solid front-court depth, but Aaron Afflalo is their best player. That’s saying something.

15. Charlotte Bobcats (14-68).. 14 wins for the Bobcats! This would double last year’s output, and I’m saying this because they added Michael-Kidd Gilchrist and Ramon Sessions, both solid contributors.

Western Conference:
1. Oklahoma City Thunder (60-22).. Before trading James Harden, I had the Thunder with 62-62 wins. The lowered prediction comes from a lack of chemistry, and the simple fact that James Harden is better than Kevin Martin. I still have them winning the Western Conference, though, for a number of reasons. One is that the Thunder still have a tremendous team, with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. They also have a block monster in Serge Ibaka. This could well be a 60 win team. Another reason they will win the West is that the Lakers will be adjusting to their new team, much like the Heat of 2010-11.

2. Los Angeles Lakers (57-25).. The good news: The Lakers have an amazing big 4 of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard. The bad news: They have no bench. They will need time to mesh. Overall, though, the talent on this team’s starting lineup will get them to 57 wins.

3. San Antonio Spurs (56-26).. Is this the last hurrah for the current Spurs roster? It depends what “last hurrah” means. I do think this is the last time the Spurs will be a top 3 seed for a while. But I also think that the Spurs will be able to make the playoffs as a lower tier team. As for this year, the big 3 is still intact, with Tim Duncan resigning. I actually think this team will be better than people think they will be.

4. Denver Nuggets (53-29).. The Nuggets are going to be very exciting to watch this year. They have Ty Lawson running the point, Andre Iguodala at the 2 guard spot, Danilo Gallinari at small forward, Kenneth Faried at power forward, and JaVale McGee at center. That is a very athletic starting lineup, and one that will be dynamite on the fast break. They also have a deep bench, led by Wilson Chandler, Andre Miller, Corey Brewer and Anthony Randolph. This will be a very good, and explosive team.

5. Memphis Grizzlies (51-31).. I feel that the Grizzlies are underrated. They are actually a very talented team. They have a great power forward-center combo in Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Those guys will combine for 35 points and 20 rebounds per game. At the small forward spot, they have Rudy Gay, arguably the star of the team. At guard, they have Mike Conley and Tony Allen, both great defenders who could get a combined 5 steals per game. I think they should have a top 6 seed.

6. Los Angeles Clippers (50-32).. Don’t doubt Chris Paul, or Blake Griffin. However, it is okay to doubt the Clippers poor front office. It is unclear what their plan is. They added some veteran (old) players, but didn’t really improve their team. However, Paul and Griffin should be enough for 50 wins.

7. Utah Jazz (47-35).. The Jazz are another underrated team. They have a huge amount of depth down low. Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter will make up the best big man core in the NBA. Gordon Hayward and Mo Williams are also very good.

8. Dallas Mavericks (44-38).. The Mavericks are the final playoff team in the West, just sneaking into the playoffs. Dirk Nowitzki is out for a few weeks, so the Mavericks will start out badly, but they’ll come back in the second half of the season and sneak into the playoffs.

9. Minnesota Timberwolves (42-40).. If Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love weren’t out for at least a month, I’d have this team at 46 or 47 wins. However, the two T-Wolves stars are in fact out, so the T-Wolves just miss out on the playoffs.

10. Golden State Warriors (41-41).. The Warriors are so talented. But they are also so injury prone. Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry are already hurt. With those guys out, this team doesn’t have much, although David Lee and Klay Thompson are good. If the two stars stay healthy, this team could sneak into the playoffs.

11. Portland Trail Blazers (39-43).. The Trailblazers aren’t as much of a mess as people think. LaMarcus Aldridge is an all out star. While his name isn’t universally recognized, it should be. He is one of the top 20 players in the NBA. After that, people might think the Blazers don’t have much (and they are probably right). Nicolas Batum and Wes Matthews are both good, but the guy I really believe in is Damian Lillard. I think Lillard will beat out Anthony Davis for rookie of the year.

12. New Orleans Hornets (36-46).. Eric Gordon, Austin Rivers and Anthony Davis is going to be a heck of a big three in a few years. For now, though, I expect the Hornets to jump from last in the West to 12th, mostly because they added 3 players who are now 3 of their 4 best players, in Davis, Rivers and Ryan Anderson. People say they could be a surprise 8 seed. I disagree with that, but I do think they are improved.

13. Houston Rockers (32-50).. I had the Rockets last in the conference until they traded for James Harden. Now, their backcourt of Jeremy Lin and Harden is good. The frontcourt is still poor, but the guards will be good enough to get them over 3o wins

14. Phoenix Suns (30-52).. The Suns without Steve Nash are a poor team. So I think 30 wins is reasonable.

15. Sacramento Kings (28-54).. It’s sad and shocking to see the Kings last, because they have so much talent. DeMarcus Cousins might be the most talented big man in the NBA, and it seems like he is realizing that potential. He had a great year last season. Tyreke Evans is also talented, and Marcus Thornton is a tremendous shooter. But that’s the thing- there just aren’t enough players who are willing to pass up a shot, which is why I don’t think the Kings break 30 wins.

Award Predictions:

MVP:
Top 3 contenders:
LeBron James- Duh. James has won 3 MVP’s and is just 27
Kevin Durant- Will probably lead the league in scoring
Dwight Howard- He’s happy now in LA, and he is extremely talented.

Dark horse candidates:
Rajon Rondo- Will finally make his top 5 MVP debut. Plenty of assists and triple doubles, and he now leads Boston
DeMarcus Cousins- As I mentioned before, he is a beast. 20 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and a steal would be up there.

Prediction:
James takes home his 4th MVP trophy

Defensive player of the year:
Top 3 contenders:
Dwight Howard- Howard will get 2 blocks and a steal per game, and he will bail out Kobe and Steve Nash plenty of times with help defense.
Tyson Chandler- won it last year
Kevin Garnett- still an elite defender

Dark horse candidates:
Anthony Davis- is a rookie, but is already a great defender
Serge Ibaka- will lead the league in blocks, by a lot, with close to 4 per game

Prediction:
Howard and his popularity will take home his 4th DPOY in 5 years

Most improved player of the year:
Top 3 contenders:
Goran Dragic- Now in Phoenix, Dragic will be the starting point guard. Look for 16 points, 8 assists and 2 steals per game
JaVale McGee- In Denver, McGee should be able to focus more, and make some smarter plays. 15 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks per game would win him the award, but I don’t know if he can reach that.
Ty Lawson- Also in Denver. Lawson averaged 16 points and 6 assists per game, but if he can get to 20 points, he could win this award.

Dark horse candidates:
Arron Afflalo- Nobody really knows Afflalo, but he did average 15 points per game. Now in a premier role, he could break 18 points per game.
Evan Turner- Turner averaged just 8 points per game last year, so in a starting role, he could win it.

Prediction:
Turner wins it in a surprise

Rookie of the year:
Top 3 candidates:
Anthony Davis- #1 pick and overwhelming favorite
Dion Waiters- will probably average more points than any other rookie, at around 16-18 points per game. That will put him in the conversation.
Damian Lillard- Lillard looked terrific this preseason. He could average 16 points and 6 assists, which for me would win him the award.

Dark horse candidates:
Jonas Valanciunas- From Lithuania. In a starting role, could average a double double which might get him the award.
Terrence Jones- Drafted in the middle of the first round, Jones could grab a starting job midway through the season and finish with a solid stat line.

Prediction:
Lillard upsets odds on favorite Davis

Coach of the year:
Top 3 candidates:
Doc Rivers, Celtics- Possibly the best coach in the NBA, will always be up there
Greg Popovich, Spurs- I’d call him the best coach in the NBA. Getting up there in age, so it would be nice to see him win this one.
Tom Thibodeau, Bulls- Will get lots of consideration after taking the Bulls back to the playoffs without Derrick Rose.

Dark horse candidates:
Doug Collins, Sixers- If they win the Atlantic, it could happen
Tyron Corbin, Jazz- Newly installed head coach. If the make the playoffs comfortably as I’m predicting, he will get a lot of love.

Prediction:
Rivers takes home the prize.

6th man of the year:
Top 3 candidates:
Kevin Martin- Now with the Thunder, he takes James Harden’s spot and, perhaps, award
Manu Ginobili- Long considered a top candidate, Manu is healthy now
Jason Terry- Now 6th man for the Celtics, he has a shot

Dark horse candidates:
MarShon Brooks- Now coming off the bench for the Nets, Brooks could be a darkhorse candidate
Thaddeus Young- Now 6th man for the Sixers, he is in the mix

Prediction:
Ginobili has a good year and takes back the award

Week 8 NFL Picks:

*= upset pick

Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears:
Spread: Bears favored by 7.5 points
Over/under: 42.5
My prediction: Bears- 27, Panthers- 16
Bears cover
Over

San Diego Chargers at Cleveland Browns:
Spread: Chargers favored by 3
Over/under: 43.5
My prediction: Chargers- 24, Browns- 20
Chargers cover
Over

Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions*:
Spread: Lions favored by 2.5
Over/under: 43.5
My prediction: Seahawks- 17, Lions- 13
Seahawks cover
Under

Jacksonville Jaguars at Green Bay Packers:- Lock
Spread: Packers favored by 14.5
Over/under: 45.5
My prediction: Packers- 30, Jaguars- 17
Jaguars cover
Over

Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans:
Spread: Titans favored by 3.5
Over/under: 47
My prediction: Titans- 35, Colts- 32
Colts cover
Over

New England Patriots *at* St. Louis Rams: (game in London)
Spread: Patriots favored by 7
Over/under: 47
My prediction: Patriots- 26, Rams- 17
Patriots cover
Under

Miami Dolphins at New York Jets:
Spread: Jets favored by 2
Over/under: 38
My prediction: Jets- 23, Dolphins- 21
Jets cover
Over

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles*:
Spread: Eagles favored by 3
Over/under: 42.5
My prediction: Falcons- 23, Eagles- 2o (hope I’m wrong)
Falcons cover
Over

Washington Redskins at Pittsburgh Steelers:
Spread: Steelers favored by 4
Over/under: 44.5
My prediction: Steelers- 27, Redskins- 24
Redskins cover
Over

Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs*:
Spread: Chiefs favored by 1
Over/under: 42
My prediction: Raiders- 23, Chiefs- 13
Raiders cover
Under

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys*:
Spread: Giants favored by 2.5
Over/under: 48
My prediction: Cowboys- 24, Giants- 21
Cowboys cover
Under

New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos*:
Spread: Broncos favored by 6.5
Over/under: 55
My prediction: Saints- 35, Broncos- 31
Saints cover
Over

San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals:- Monday Night
Spread: 49ers favored by 7
Over/under: 38.5
My prediction: 49ers- 14, Cardinals- 9
Cardinals cover
Under

Upset picks:
Cowboys over Giants
Saints over Broncos
Raiders over Chiefs
Falcons over Eagles
Seahawks over Lions

Lock of the week:
Packers over Jaguars

Breaking down the NBA Shocker trade:
Oklahoma City Thunder trade: James Harden, Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook, Lazar Hayward
Houston Rockets trade: Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first round picks and a second round pick

Player reactions:
http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/50703/nba-players-react-to-harden-trade

Why OKC did the trade: They are a small market team, and already signed Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka to long term deals. They offered James Harden a 54 million dollar deal (just 4.5 million less than the max offer), but he declined, so they decided to trade him. In return, they got a proven veteran, Martin, who has scored more than 23 points per game in multiple seasons. They got a young, exciting player, Lamb, who could turn out to be somewhat like Harden. They also got some picks to help build for the future. The Thunder are basically saying: We can’t compete with the Lakers and Heat this year, so why not make trades for the future?

Why Houston did the trade: The Rockets are rebuilding. They need a star, and James Harden is a great place to start. With their backcourt, they now have Jeremy Lin and Harden. They play in one of the biggest cities in the country, so they will be able to pay Harden. They gave up Martin, who wasn’t much of a value for them, and Lamb, who is unproven. They have plenty of picks, so the three they gave up wasn’t a big blow. They also got three bench players who can help them.

Downside for OKC: They dealt themselves a huge blow for this season, losing the only edge they had over the Lakers: consistency. I think they could have done this exact trade after the season in a sign and trade. Martin is also a free agent after this year, so while they won’t have to pay as much for him, they’ll still have to pay if they want to keep him.

Downside for Houston: They traded a huge amount of picks and youth, and now they have to pay Harden a max contract. Lin-Harden-Omer Asik could be getting 40+ million a year. That isn’t a “big three” to build around.

Bottom line: This is a decent trade for both sides, but it could have been better. The Thunder continue to build for the future, and the Rockets still have a long way to go.

Time for two more teams, including my Philadelphia 76ers.

Philadelphia 76ers:
Key additions: Spencer Hawes (re-sign), Nick Young (FA), Dorell Wright (trade), Kwame Brown (FA), Lavoy Allen (re-sign), Arnett Moultrie (draft), Jason Richardson (trade), Andrew Bynum (trade)

Key subtractions: Elton Brand (amnesty), Lou Williams (FA), Nikola Vucevic (trade), Andre Iguodala (trade), Jodie Meeks (FA)

Grade: A-

They finally shook things up. After what felt like an eternity of sticking with their guns and being a middle of the pack team (the worst place to be), the 76ers made a big move. First, let me explain why being a 7 or 8 seeded playoff team every year is a bad thing. It’s because that, while you know you will never beat any of the elite teams in the conference, you also never get good draft picks. That’s how a team gets stuck in limbo. The Sixers got out of limbo when they traded Iguodala, Vucevic, draft pick Moe Harkless and a first round pick for Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson. With Bynum, they have an injury prone hothead, but they also have a potential franchise player- a piece to build around. The Sixers lost some scoring in Brand and Williams but added lots of scoring in Nick Young, Dorell Wright, Bynum and Richardson. With the addition of Nick Young to complement Thaddeus Young, they are the Youngest team in the NBA (get it?). To be a top 4 team in the East, a lot of things need to happen. Bynum needs to get (and stay) healthy. Jrue Holiday needs to take the next step (think 17 points, 8 assists). Evan Turner needs to break out. But at least they have the potential.

Last year’s starting lineup:
PG: Holiday
SG: Jodie Meeks
SF: Iguodala
PF: Brand
C: Spencer Hawes

Projected starting lineup:
PG: Holiday
SG: Richardson
SF: Turner
PF: Thaddeus Young
C: Bynum

Roster (usual active 12 in italics):
PG: Jrue Holiday, Royal Ivey, Maalik Wayns
SG: Jason Richardson, Nick Young, Damien Wilkens
SF: Evan Turner, Dorell Wright, Thaddeus Young
PF: Lavoy Allen, Arnett Moultrie, Devin Searcy
C: Andrew Bynum, Spencer Hawes, Kwame Brown, Mikki Moore

Projected minutes:
PG: Holiday (32), Ivey (10), Turner (6)
SG: Richardson (24), Young (21), Wright (3)
SF: Turner (26), Wright (15), T. Young (7)
PF: T. Young (15), Allen (15), Hawes (15), Moultrie (3)
C: Bynum (35), Brown (10), Hawes (3)

Projected minutes for each player:
Bynum: 35
Holiday: 32
Turner: 32
Richardson: 24
T. Young: 22
N. Young: 21
Wright: 18
Hawes: 18
Allen: 15
Brown: 10
Ivey: 10
Moultrie: 3

Last year’s stats for each player:
Bynum: 19 points, 12 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 2 blocks per game
Holiday: 13.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.5 steals per game
Turner: 9.5 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists per game
Richardson: 11.5 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists per game (54 games, injured rest of season)
Young: 13 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal per game
Young: 14 points, 2 rebounds per game
Wright: 10 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1 steal per game
Hawes: 9.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 blocks per game
Allen: 4 points, 4 rebounds per game (41 games, DNP Coaches Decision rest of season)
Brown: 6 points, 6 rebounds per game (9 games, injured rest of season)
Ivey: 2 points per game (30 games, DNP CD rest of season)
Moultrie: COLLEGE

Each player’s strengths:
Bynum: post scoring, defense, rebounding, blocks
Holiday: passing, 3 point shooting, pick and roll
Turner: rebounding, driving, slashing
Richardson: 3 point shooting, leadership
T. Young: rebounding, defense, athleticism, shooting
N. Young: slashing, 3 point shooting, athleticism
Wright: 3 point shooting, scoring off the bench
Hawes: size, rebounding, shooting
Allen: rebounds, defense
Ivey: shooting
Moultrie: athleticism, rebounding

Phoenix Suns:
Key additions: Goran Dragic (FA), Luis Scola (amnesty claim), Michael Beasley (FA), Kendall Marshall (draft)
Key losses: Steve Nash (trade), Grant Hill (FA), Josh Childress (FA), Ronnie Price (FA)

Grade: B-

Note: Channing Frye has a heart problem, so I’m assuming he won’t play this season

The Suns held onto Steve Nash for way too long. They finally realized it was time too let him go, and in return got a few first rounders. Aside from that, this was a decent offseason. Goran Dragic was a terrific addition, and he should be able to be a top 15 point guard. Luis Scola is on the wrong side of 30, but is still a solid contributor. Michael Beasley has yet to realize his potential, but it is still there. Marshall could become Nash like in his assist totals, if not the 3 point shooting.

This is a rebuilding team, but they could be decent this season (maybe the 11th ranked team in the West). Expect a record around 34-48.

Last year’s starting lineup:
PG: Nash
SG: Shannon Brown
SF: Grant Hill
PF: Channing Frye
C: Marcin Gortat

Projected starting lineup:
PG: Gortat
SG: Brown
SF: Beasley
PF: Scola
C: Gortat

Roster (usual active 12 in italics):
PG: Goran Dragic, Sebastian Telfair, Kendall Marshall, Diante Garrett
SG: Shannon Brown, Wesley Johnson, P.J. Tucker, Othyus Jeffres
SF: Michael Beasley, Jared Dudley
PF: Luis Scola, Markieff Morris, Luke Zeller
C: Marcin Gortat, Jermaine O’Neal, Brad Miller

Projected minutes:
PG: Dragic (31), Telfair (11), Marshall (6)
SG: Brown (20), Johnson (20), Dudley (7), Tucker (1)
SF: Beasley (22), Dudley (22), Tucker (2), Brown (2)
PF: Scola (25), Morris (16), Beasley (7)
C: Gortat (34), O’Neal (10), Scola (4)

Projected minutes for each player:
Gortat: 34
Dragic: 31
Scola: 29
Beasley: 29
Dudley: 29
Brown: 22
Johnson: 20
Morris: 16
Telfair: 11
O’Neal: 10
Marshall: 6
Tucker: 3

Last year’s stats for each player:
Gortat: 15.5 points, 10 rebounds, 1.5 blocks per game
Dragic: 12 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.3 steals per game
Scola: 15.5 points, 6.5 rebounds per game
Beasley: 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1 assist per game (47 games, injured rest of season)
Brown: 11 points, 3 rebounds per game
Dudley: 13 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2 assists per game
Johnson: 6 points, 3 rebounds per game
Morris: 7.5 points, 4.5 rebounds per game
Telfair: 6 points, 1.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists per game
O’Neal: 5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.7 blocks per game (22 games, injured rest of season)
Tucker: 2 points, 1.5 rebounds per game (17 games, DNP CD rest of season)
Marshall: COLLEGE

Each player’s strengths:
Gortat: pick and roll, rebounding, inside scoring, blocks
Dragic: outside shooting, defense, passing
Scola: consistency, leadership, rebounding
Beasley: potential, shooting
Brown: outside shooting
Dudley: 3 point shooting, rebounding
Johnson: scoring off the bench
Morris: rebounding
Telfair: passing
O’Neal: defense, blocks
Tucker: depth
Marshall: ball handling, passing

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings:
My prediction: Vikings- 30, Bucs- 24

Time is running short on the NBA offseason, as the regular season starts in a little over a week. So I’ll be doing two teams.

Oklahoma City Thunder:
Key additions: Perry Jones (draft), Hasheem Thabeet (FA), Hollis Thompson (FA)
Key losses: None

Grade: B

It’s just business as usual for the Thunder. They didn’t lose anyone, and got a steal very late in the first round, in Perry Jones. Jones was supposed to be a lottery pick, but because of a poor college career fell late into the first round. Of course, the Thunder are the best team for him. He will be able to play backup behind Kevin Durant, and he will have the chance to develop. The Thunder also added draft bust Hasheem Thabeet to their roster. Thabeet is still a good defender and rebounder, and could still develop. The drama for the Thunder was not this offseason. It might be next offseason, as Serge Ibaka and James Harden become free agents. It’s likely that they will only be able to keep one. Will it be the defensive monster or the scoring beast?

This team is obviously a top 5 team, and probably top 3. With Durant and Russell Westbrook, two players who are top three at their position, leading the team, followed up by Ibaka and Harden, they will be good.

Last year’s starting lineup:
PG: Westbrook
SG: Thabo Sefolosha
SF: Durant
PF: Ibaka
C: Kendrick Perkins

Projected starting lineup:
Same.

Roster: (usual active 12 in italics):
PG: Russell Westbrook, Eric Maynor, Reggie Jackson, Walker Russell
SG: Thabo Sefolosha, James Harden, Daequan Cook, DeAndre Liggins, Andy Rautins
SF: Kevin Durant, Lazar Hayward, Hollis Thompson
PF: Serge Ibaka, Perry Jones III, Nick Collison
C: Kendrick Perkins, Cole Aldrich, Hasheem Thabeet, Daniel Orton

Projected minutes:
PG: Westbrook (31), Maynor (13), Harden (4)
SG: Harden (26), Sefolosha (14), Westbrook (6), Cook (2)
SF: Durant (30), Hayward (10), Jones (3), Harden (3), Sefolosha (2)
PF: Ibaka (24), Jones (12), Durant (7), Collison (5)
C: Perkins (23), Aldrich (14), Collison (6), Ibaka (5)

Projected minutes for each player:
Durant: 38
Westbrook: 37
Harden: 29
Ibaka: 29
Perkins: 23
Sefolosha: 16
Jones: 15
Aldrich: 14
Maynor: 13
Collison: 11
Hayward: 10
Cook: 2

Last year’s stats for each player:
Durant: 28 points, 8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.2 blocks, 1.3 steals per game
Westbrook: 23.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.7 steals per game
Harden: 17 points, 4 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1 steal per game
Ibaka: 9 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.7 blocks per game
Perkins: 5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1 assists, 1.1 blocks per game
Sefolosha: 5 points, 3 rebounds per game (42 games, injured rest of season)
Jones: COLLEGE
Aldrich: 2 points, 2 rebounds per game (26 games, DNP CD rest of season)
Maynor: 4 points, 1.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists per game (9 games, injured rest of season)
Collison: 4.5 points, 4.5 rebounds per game
Hayward: 1.5 points per game (26 games, DNP CD rest of season)
Cook: 5.5 points, 2 rebounds per game

Each player’s strengths:
Durant: everything other than limiting turnovers
Westbrook: everything other than limiting turnovers
Harden: shooting, scoring, scoring off the bench, passing, FT
Ibaka: defense, rebounds, blocks, dunking
Perkins: defense, rebounds
Sefolosha: defense, steals, finishing at the basket
Jones: athleticism, potential, speed, finishing at the basket
Aldrich: decent mid range shooting
Maynor: floor general, passing
Collison: rebounding
Hayward: nothing?
Cook: 3 point shooting

Orlando Magic:

Key additions: Jameer Nelson (re-sign), Andrew Nicholson (draft), Gustavo Ayon (trade), Nikola Vucevic (trade), Maurice Harkless (trade), Aaron Afflalo (trade), Al Harrington (trade)

Key losses: Ryan Anderson (trade), Dwight Howard (trade), Chris Duhon (trade), Jason Richardson (trade), Earl Clark (trade)

Grade: D-

At least they ended the drama. Finally. Dwight Howard is gone. And in his place is… no, not Pau Gasol.. A lot of unproven and/or mediocre players. They also traded their second best player, Ryan Anderson, for an unproven player, Gustavo Ayon. The good thing is that the Magic now have three more first round picks, and some young guys with potential. But this is a badddd time for Orlando.

Last year’s starting lineup:
PG: Jameer Nelson
SG: Jason Richardson
SF: Hedo Turkoglu
PF: Ryan Anderson
C: Dwight Howard

Projected starting lineup:
PG: Nelson
SG: Aaron Afflalo
SF: Turkoglu
PF: Glen Davis
C: Nikola Vucevic

Roster: (usual active 12 in italics):
PG: Jameer Nelson, Ishmael Smith
SG: Aaron Afflalo, J.J. Redick, E’Twaun Moore, Christian Eyenga
SF: Hedo Turkoglu, Maurice Harkless, Quentin Richardson
PF: Glen Davis, Al Harrington, Andrew Nicholson, Josh McRoberts, Justin Harper
C: Nikola Vucevic, Gustavo Ayon, Kyle O’Quinn

Projected minutes:
PG: Nelson (27), Smith (12), Afflalo (9)
SG: Afflalo (20), Redick (20), Richardson (8)
SF: Turkoglu (26), Harkless (14), Harrington (8)
PF: Davis (23), Harrington (14), Ayon (7), Nicholson (1)
C: Vucevic (23), Ayon (14), Davis (5), Nicholson (5)

Projected minutes for each player:
Afflalo: 29
Davis: 28
Nelson: 27
Turkoglu: 26
Vucevic: 23
Harrington: 22
Ayon: 21
Redick: 20
Harkless: 14
Smith: 12
Richardson: 8
Nicholson: 6

Last year’s stats for each player:
Afflalo: 15 points, 3 rebounds, 2.5 assists per game
Davis: 9 points, 5.5 rebounds per game
Nelson: 12 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists per game
Turkoglu: 11 points, 4 rebounds, 4.5 assists per game (52 games, injured rest of season)
Vucevic: 5.5 points, 5 rebounds per game (51 games, DNP CD rest of season)
Harrington: 14 points, 6 rebounds per game
Ayon: 6 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal per game (54 games, DNP CD rest of season)
Redick: 11.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists per game
Harkless: COLLEGE
Smith: 3 points, 1.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists per game (26 games, DNP CD rest of season)
Richardson: 4.5 points, 2.5 rebounds per game (45 games, injured rest of season)
Nicholson: COLLEGE

Each player’s strengths:
Afflalo: shooting, FT, passing, defense
Davis: rebounding, inside shooting
Nelson: passing, shooting
Turkoglu: passing, outside shooting
Vucevic: mid range shooting, rebounding, scoring
Harrington: 3 point scoring, scoring off the bench
Ayon: rebounding, inside scoring
Redick: 3 point shooting, scoring
Harkless: versatility, rebounding, defense
Smith: passing
Richardson: leadership
Nicholson:shooting, FT, rebounding

Week 7 NFL Review

Posted: 10/23/2012 by levcohen in Football

Time to review week 7.

*= upset pick
LOTW= Lock of the week

Bye week teams: Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia, San Diego

Note: I got the pick and spread right on TNF, but the over/under wrong.

Tennessee Titans (2-4) at Buffalo Bills (3-3):
Line: Bills favored by 3
Over/under: 46.5
My prediction: Bills- 27, Titans- 17
Bills cover
Under

Results: Titans- 35, Bills- 34… Really, Chris Johnson? Now you break out?.. 0-3

Cleveland Browns (1-5) at Indianapolis Colts (2-3):
Line: Colts favored by 3
Over/under: 45.5
My prediction: Colts- 24, Browns- 23
Browns cover
Over

Results: Colts- 17, Browns- 13.. This is infuriating. I really should have gotten at least 2-3 on this one, but I’ll end up with a 1/3.

Green Bay Packers (3-3) at St. Louis Rams (3-3):
Line: Packers favored by 5.5
Over/under: 45.5
My prediction: Packers- 27, Rams- 23
Rams cover
Over

Results.. Packers- 30, Rams- 20.. I went 2/3 on this one.. Packers are back.

Arizona Cardinals (4-2) at Minnesota Vikings (4-2):
Line: Vikings favored by 6.5
Over/under: 40.5
My prediction: Vikings- 23, Cardinals- 13
Vikings cover
Under

Results: Vikings- 21, Cardinals- 14.. Finally, a good pick. The Cardinals offense looked horrible, and I get a 3/3.

Washington Redskins (3-3) at New York Giants (4-2)*:
Line: Giants favored by 6
Over/under: 51.5
My prediction: Redskins- 27, Giants- 23
Redskins cover
Under

Results: Giants- 27, Redskins- 23.. Well… I got the reverse of the correct score.. still a 2/3 though, as the Redskins covered the spread.

New Orleans Saints (1-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3):
Line: Saints favored by 1.5
Over/under: 49
My prediction: Saints- 30, Buccaneers- 17
Saints cover
Under

Results: Saints- 35, Buccaneers- 28.. Drew Brees is back and better than ever, and the Bucs blew a chance to tie it at the end of the game. I went 2/3, with just the over/under incorrect.

Dallas Cowboys (2-3) at Carolina Panthers (1-4):
Line: Cowboys favored by 2.5
Over/under: 45.5
My prediction: Cowboys- 27, Panthers- 24
Cowboys cover
Over

Results: Cowboys- 19, Panthers- 14.. This was an ugly game. Neither team’s offense preformed, which is probably why it was under. I got the other two right, though.

Baltimore Ravens (5-1) at Houston Texans (5-1):
Line: Texans favored by 7
Over/under: 48.5
My prediction: Texans- 25, Ravens- 20
Ravens cover
Under

Results: Texans- 43, Ravens- 13.. The Ravens got blown out, and as a result I only correctly picked the winner.

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4) at Oakland Raiders (1-4)*:
Line: Raiders favored by 6.5
Over/under: 43.5
My prediction: Jaguars- 20, Raiders- 14
Jaguars cover
Under

Results: Raiders- 26, Jaguars- 23.. Going into the fourth, it was 20-13 Jaguars, and I was looking golden. And then the Raiders came back, and won in overtime. And I got a 1/3.

New York Jets (3-3) at New England Patriots (3-3):- LOTW
Line: Patriots favored by 11
Over/under: 47.5
My prediction: Patriots- 30, Jets- 20
Jets cover
Over

Results: Patriots- 29, Jets- 26.. I got 3/3 on this one, but it was a lot closer than I thought it would be. In fact, it went into overtime.

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-3)*:
Line: Steelers favored by 1
Over/under: 46
My prediction: Bengals- 27, Steelers- 17
Bengals cover
Under

Results: Steelers- 24, Bengals- 17.. This was a close game that could have gone either way, but it turns out that I only picked the over/under correctly.

Detroit Lions (2-3) at Chicago Bears (41): (Monday night)
Line: Bears favored by 6
Over/under: 47.5
My prediction: Bears- 30, Lions- 17
Bears cover
Under

Results: Bears- 13, Lions- 7.. What a bad game. It really should have been 13-0, but luckily the Bears still covered the 6 point spread so I got 3/3.

9-4 on pick.. 57-47 total
8-5 on spread… 55-49 total
6-7 on over/under… 53-51 total

Upset picks:
Steelers over Bengals- INCORRECT
Redskins over Giants- INCORRECT
Jaguars over Raiders- INCORRECT

9-15 total.

Lock of the week: Patriots over Jets- CORRECT
6-1 total.

QB of the week: Drew Brees, Saints- Brees is still Brees. He completed 27 passes, threw for 377 yards, threw 4 touchdowns and had 1 interception. Look for him to be a top 2 QB for the rest of the season.
Surprising QB of the week: Josh Freeman, Buccaneers- What??? Josh Freeman, the definition of a mediocre quarterback, threw for 420 yards and 3 touchdowns with NO interceptions.
Disappointing QB of the week: Andy Dalton- After looking like a top 10 quarterback through 6 weeks, Dalton had just 105 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception.

RB of the week: Chris Johnson, Titans- Talent doesn’t just disappear. Not for a player in his prime, at least. Johnson showed the talent is still there, by returning to his 2,000 yard season self by rushing 18 times for 195 yards and two touchdowns.
Surprising RB of the week: LaRod Stephens Howling, Cardinals- Let me get this straight. Going into this game, LSH had 23 carries for an astounding… 23 yards. This season. Of course, he had to go and rush for 100 yards and a touchdown, plus 45 yards receiving.
Disappointing RB of the week: Ray Rice, Ravens- It wasn’t really Rice’s fault. The stupid offensive coordinator only gave one of the best RB’s in the NFL 9 carries!! Rice ended with 45 yards and had 12 yards receiving.

WR of the week: Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers- Jackson is great. He caught 7 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown. In fact, he could have had 8 catches for 230 yards with 3 touchdowns. He was caught from behind on a 95 yard reception, at the one yard line. Then, late in the game, he was one foot in bounds away from a game tying touchdown. Still, a great week.
Surprising WR of the week: Santana Moss, Redskins- 3 catches for 67 yards doesn’t look too good. Until you see the 2 touchdowns.
Disappointing WR of the week: Dez Bryant, Cowboys- After two games in which he had a combined 20 catches for 200 yards for 2 touchdowns, Dez had a tremendous… 2 catches for 14 yards.

TE of the week: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots- What a suprise! Sarcasm. Gronk is the top TE in the NFL, and he had 6 catches for 77 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Surprising TE of the week: Dallas Clark, Buccaneers- That’s the third Bucs player on this list. And they lost. Clark came out of nowhere. With fewer than 100 yards and zero touchdowns coming into this game, he caught 5 passes for 51 yards and a score.
Disappointing TE of the week: Vernon Davis, 49ers- Davis is a bona-fide top 5 TE. Or he was. And then he was held without a catch.

Key Injuries:
Maurice Jones-Drew: Jones-Drew, a top 5 RB, will be out for at least a few weeks.
Trent Richardson: Richardson, a top 10 RB, barely played on Sunday. He will be questionable to doubtful this Sunday.
Frank Gore: Gore, another top 10 RB, got banged up on Thursday night, but he is probably for next Monday night’s game.