Category Archives: ESPN

NFL Playoffs: 2017 NFL Wild-Card Weekend Predictions!

jay-ajayi

Miami’s run to the playoffs started in Week 6 against the Steelers. On Sunday, the Dolphins will meet them again in Pittsburgh.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 14-2

Final 2016 Regular Season Record: 163-91-2

NFL Playoffs: Wildcard Weekend

Oakland @ Houston – For the second straight year, ESPN gets stuck with coverage of a playoff game in Houston that no one really wanted to see. Oakland was such a great story this season until about 2 weeks ago. Within that time, they have lost their starter and backup QB in rout to already being clinched for a post-season berth in the playoffs. Where Oakland goes from here is anyone’s guess. Houston has had its QB troubles recently too. Houston’s 72 million dollar man, QB Brock Osweiler, was bench about 3 weeks ago but because of a concussion suffered by his replacement, backup Tom Savage, Osweiler will be back in the starting position this Saturday. We have to imagine that Osweiler isn’t feeling too confident about his standing as the leader of the offense or as a competent QB in this league. The fact is that Osweiler hasn’t lived up to expectations this season. I’m not sure if Houston is going to need Osweiler to be great to win this playoff game. Houston has other weapons on the team that will make them a tough out for the Raiders. RB Lamar Miller had a good first season with the Texans. He was held out from the last two games of the regular season and he should be fresh and ready to go this weekend. Oakland will have to find a way to account for Miller as they ranked 23rd in the league in run defense. Houston is going to have to run the ball effectively in this game in order to control the clock and to keep Osweiler from making a mistake. Oakland doesn’t have a strong run defense but their defense can affect the game in other ways. Edge rushers, Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin, have made a living this season at creating chaos in the opponents back field. Oakland allows quite a few yards through the air but I like the way safety Reggie Nelson has been playing lately. Oakland doesn’t have the best defense in the playoffs but they have the ability to create turnovers that can change the game. After being down two QB’s, the Raiders will have to start QB Connor Cook on Saturday who is making his career debut as a pro. Cook is a real wildcard in this matchup because no one knows what to expect from him. Oakland’s offensive line has a huge task ahead of them as they will have to protect their young QB against a pretty good Houston defense. DE Jadeveon Clowney has finally emerged as a difference maker on the field with the absence of J.J. Watt. Oakland has had a serviceable running game this season so with Cook starting, we may see a steady dose of RB Latavius Murray. Houston has one of the top pass defenses in the league so it will be interesting seeing how Cook want to attack them with Amari Cooper or Michael Crabtree. In their matchup earlier this season, Houston outplayed Oakland really but they were on the wrong end of a couple of bad calls. I bet Oakland thinks that can play better than what they did in the last matchup but Houston probably has the bigger revenge chip on their shoulder. Oakland won 12 games this season and I think their playmakers on defense will be the difference. I’m taking the Raiders in a low scoring affair. Prediction: Raiders 18 – Texans 14

Detroit @ Seattle – In the second game on Saturday, we’ll see two teams that don’t look like they are ready to make a run towards the Super Bowl. Detroit squandered their lead in the NFC North to the Packers in a matter of 3 weeks. Seattle wrapped up the NFC West earlier but since the injury to Earl Thomas, they haven’t looked the same. Detroit still has its work cut out for them if they hope to upset Seattle who is usually a monster at home. But with the way Seattle has been playing lately, they are definitely vulnerable right now, even with the home field advantage. If Detroit can keep Seattle from controlling the clock on offense, they’ll have a shot at winning this game. Detroit has been inconsistent at stopping the run on defense but Seattle’s run game has been inconsistent as well. I don’t know how well Russell Wilson will play but Detroit will have to find a way to pressure him in order to keep him from making big plays. Last year in the playoffs, Wilson struggled in that first game at Minnesota but was still able to make the big play late to help Seattle get the victory. With the state of the Seahawks offensive line, I believe the Lions will be able to get after Wilson. Seattle is still pretty good defensively even without Earl Thomas. The Seahawks have a good pass rush and one of the top run defenses in the league. Detroit should have a hard time getting the run game going which will open the door for QB Matt Stafford to try to win the game with his arm. The Legion of Boom isn’t quite that without Thomas in the lineup so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Stafford find the matchups that will help him get his team down the field. TE Eric Ebron has emerged recently and WR’s Golden Tate and Anquan Boldin are more than familiar with the Seattle secondary. I think this game will be closer than what many people think. Detroit hasn’t won in a month and I don’t think I have faith in their defense to totally shut down Seattle offensively. A wildcard in this game will be TE Jimmy Graham who can destroy a defense’s game plan at any moment. I’m going with the home team. Prediction: Seahawks 26 – Lions 21

Miami @ Pittsburgh – Miami starting the season with a 1-4 record going into their Week 6 matchup at home against the Steelers. Who would have known that game was the start of a 9-2 run in the post season? Miami has had a remarkable and unlikely run to the playoffs this season and it is fitting that they’ll be in Pittsburgh on Sunday for this Wildcard matchup. People see the city name “Miami” and think, “Oh. There’s no way a team from Miami can win in Pittsburgh in January!” That thinking is common but couldn’t be more false. Miami is a ten-point underdog this weekend but I think they could stand a chance in Pittsburgh. Miami was able to beat Pittsburgh in their first matchup this season because of RB Jay Ajayi and the Miami run game. A great coach once said that a good run game is one thing that is guaranteed to travel with teams no matter which stadium they’re playing at. If Miami brings their running attack and is able to control the clock, they’ll be able to limit Pittsburgh’s scoring chances on offense. QB Matt Moore will be starting for the Dolphins and I don’t see him coming out with the goal to just air it out against the Steelers secondary. Pittsburgh’s defense as a whole has gotten a lot better since Week 6 so Moore will have to be careful and be selective about the shots to take down field. Miami does have more than capable WR’s in Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills. This game will feature two defenses that can allow both offenses to put up a lot of numbers but again; I see where Pittsburgh’s defense has improved. Not so much with Miami. I don’t have much confidence in Miami limiting Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, or Antonio Brown on Sunday. For Miami to stand a chance on defense, they will need to bring the pressure towards Roethlisberger for all 4 quarters. The Steelers have a decent offensive line but they’ll have a huge chore ahead of them on Sunday in the shape of DE Cameron Wake and DT Ndamukong Suh. I think too many things would have to go right for Miami for them to upset Pittsburgh on Sunday. Miami could slow the game down with Ajayi or harass Roethlisberger behind the line of scrimmage. But the Steelers just have too many weapons for Miami to account for. They wont be able to stop Bell on the ground and with time, Roethlisberger should be able to find big plays down the field against the Dolphins secondary. Miami could make it interesting but I like the Steelers at home. Prediction: Steelers 36 – Dolphins 28

New York Giants @ Green Bay – The second matchup on Sunday features two of the hottest teams in the NFC. Green Bay rode their hot streak into winning the NFC North last week. The Giants have looked impressive down the stretch and many believe that they could be gearing up for another championship run. I have to give Green Bay credit for catching up with Detroit and winning the division but on Sunday, they might match up poorly against the Giants. The Giants have done a tremendous job defensively recently and they might present some issues to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense. New York may not have the same pass rushing abilities they had when Jason Pierre-Paul was healthy but they playing well against the run and the secondary is also playing out of its mind right now. If the Giants can’t get after Rodgers, he will have time in the pocket but many QB’s have found it tough recently against the Giants secondary. Green Bay is going to have to figure out a creative way to get receivers open down the field. Another thing I don’t like about this matchup for the Packers is that their defense really isn’t good. They have had their issues this season at stopping the run and they are recently faced with multiple injuries in the secondary. The Giants don’t have a strong rushing offense but they do have some talented backs that might be able to find some space against the Packers front seven. And with a hurting secondary, the Giants and their talented trio of receivers should be able to make big plays down the field. Rodgers is the hot QB right now and he has powered the entire Green Bay squad during their run into the playoffs. Green Bay has been an overachiever in recent weeks so; I think they’ll be able to put up a good fight especially at home. But with the way that the Giants defense has been playing recently and with the state of the Packers secondary, I can see the Giants winning this one by the skin of their teeth. Prediction: Giants 24 – Packers 21

Advertisements

Yes. It’s STILL Okay to hate LeBron James

227df3eee86e4174a71a70f124217392

By: Elias McMillan

 

LeBron James’ triumph last Sunday night was one of the greatest moments in the history of North American sports. Just the entire sequence of events leading up to Sunday was really epic. James and the Cavs, facing elimination twice, responded with masterful performances in Game 5 and Game 6. Then on Sunday night, in a game that was finally competitive, James wasn’t as aggressive as he was in the last two games but still was able to will his Cavs to a championship. Yes, it was Kyrie Irving who really hit the dagger into the heart of Golden State but LeBron did the little things in his overall game that really propelled his team to victory. Now, LeBron and the city of Cleveland can finally have their day in the sun for the entire offseason.

LeBron has been such a polarizing figure in sports since he been in the league. Either you love him or you hate him. And he has a lot of haters. Bringing Cleveland a championship will probably go down as his greatest accomplishment and the magnificence of that accomplishment may cause the haters to let up on him just a little bit. At least that was the narrative being pushed by the media leading up to Game 7. Leading up to the Game 7 and all Sunday afternoon, all we heard was how awesome it would be for Cleveland to have this moment. Cleveland has waited for so long for a championship and we should feel sorry for their fans. In fact, Cleveland fans DESERVE a championship moment because it has been so long. This is my 10-year old son and he doesn’t know how it feels to be a champion because he is a Cleveland fan. Please, feel sorry for him. Please, feel sorry for us. Please, root for us. Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah. And it went on and on like that from the talking heads all afternoon. I couldn’t take it. And the funny thing is that I’m only exaggerating a little bit. They were really pushing the “Cleveland DESERVES this moment” card hard. It reminded me of how and why I hate the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox. When the Red Sox had its moment in 2004, everyone suddenly became a Red Sox fans. It was suppose to be some type of feel good moment. Just one big bandwagon for everyone to jump on all at once. They DESERVED it. Same thing applies to the Cubs. The lovable losers. That fan base has been waiting long enough for its team to become winners. We must root for them and we must wish their fans happiness. They DESERVE it. Here’s what I say: those fan bases deserve NOTHING! The Red Sox is 04 earned it. When the Cavs won it on Sunday, they earned it. Your fan base suffering for a winner is not going to gain sympathy. At least not with me. If you’re a fan of a team because they are winners, then you already lost. No one is forcing you to be a fan of any team. If you’re tired of watching your team fail over and over again, then stop being a fan. No one is forcing you to watch. You keep watching and you stay loyal because you are a fan and you love your team. Winning is a bonus. An awesome bonus. But it is not promised. And you DON’T deserve it.

But why does the success of King James garner such reaction from the masses. First off, there has never been anything like LeBron James in sports, period. 6’8, 250+ pounds, and he runs like a deer. It’s unreal. It’s unstoppable. No wonder many believed that he could be THE greatest ever once drafted in 2003. LeBron had his great moments early in his career in Cleveland but he couldn’t elevate his team enough to win a championship. 

Really, the team didn’t have enough talent and having just LeBron wasn’t enough. The Eastern Conference was more competitive in those days. Leaving for Miami and “The Decision” didn’t really make me turn on LeBron but if you want to talk about his legacy, then that event definitely had an effect. Forming a super team to finally get a championship seems like a plot from a comic book. I understand what James was looking to accomplish but was it really necessary? I mean, look at the state of the Eastern Conference currently. All of that talent against the East really tipped the scales towards LeBron and I feel that the East has yet to recover. Meanwhile in Cleveland, they sucked enough to get a star in Kyrie Irving and win not one but two NBA Draft lotteries. What are the odds? James and his super team won two titles in Miami but they also lost two that included the first year in Miami and what turned out to be his last one. I don’t know what soured James in Miami and if he would have stayed, Miami might have been in the Finals again last year and this year. But LeBron saw the opportunity to form yet another Super Team in Cleveland by returning. Team Hopping to situation and situation to find that best possible one to secure a championship will always make me view LeBron differently when stacked up against the greats in the game. But remember, we can criticize him all we want. It doesn’t matter because we have to go back to our meaningless, joyless lives and he still gets to be LeBron James. His words, not mine. 

LeBron’s talent on the basketball court almost has no bounds. He isn’t an elite jump shooter like MJ or Kobe but his power and size really makes him unstoppable offensively. It all comes down to body control. LeBron is able to play the game with the agility of a point guard while having the power and strength of someone who is 6’8 and 250 pounds. LeBron should be a bully on the court and sometimes he has been. Which is why his status as a FLOPPER is weird to me. It’s completely unnecessary but his history of flopping speaks for itself. And you could say that, “Oh. The game is different now. Flopping is accepted. Blah Blah.” Flopping isn’t a new thing to basketball. The greats rarely flopped because it’s a cheap, embarrassing tactic. But it’s apart of LeBron’s game. I don’t know if he was coached to do so at an early age but it’s been past time for him to grow out of that. LeBron does take a lot of punishment playing the game as big as he does but flopping, wining, and pandering to the officials isn’t a good look for the best basketball player in the world.

LeBron James and Cavs earned their moment in the sun right now but I have to bring up the circumstances that may have turned these Finals to Cleveland after being down 3-1 in the series. The NBA should not have gotten involved. What happened between LeBron and Draymond Green should have been just a play on. Double Technical. Nothing to see here. I don’t know how much of an affect Green would had in a Game 5 in Golden State but the NBA robbed us fans of seeing that. 

Also, no one would have imagined how valuable Andrew Bogut was going to be to this series. We didn’t realize it until LeBron and other Cavs were able to get to the basket and rebound a lot better with him out of the lineup. And when the Warriors turned over the ball multiple times in that Game 7 when running the pick and roll with Festus Ezeli and Anderson Varejão. The Draymond suspension and the Bogut injury definitely helped the series turn in the favor of the Cavs. But hey, despite that Stephen Curry still played like crap down the stretch in that game and Cleveland earned it on the court.

I’m not anti Cleveland. My high school colors were Orange and Brown and I felt that the entire city hated us because of that. For that reason, I’ve always kinda wanted to see the Browns have some kind of success in the NFL currently. I never really cared about the Cavs. I never cared about the Cleveland Indians and their racist logo. I just hate and will always root against LeBron’s super teams no matter what city he chooses next. Unless it’s New York, of course. But you know that he is going to leave again right? Just wait until that talent dies down and they fail to replace it.

Speaking of that talent, besides Irving and Love, how did Cleveland get so many key role players in the first place? It is a staple for all of LeBron’s super teams to have top-notch role players who find their way on to the roster for nearly nothing? A season ago, Timofey Mozgov was a key role player. How did he get to Cleveland? He was traded there for nothing. JR Smith and Iman Shumpert were traded to Cleveland. For nothing. Channing Frye was a 32 million dollar man in Orlando. How did he get to Cleveland? He was traded there for NOTHING. Second round picks? Jared Cuttingham? Who? I mean, how can the league allow this kinda stuff to happen?

James is the ultimate opportunist and he really doesn’t have to be. The Eastern Conference is so weak LeBron is bound to compete for championships no matter what. So, why all the extra stuff? Why the team hopping? Why the flopping? I don’t know. Maybe its all just to fuel haters like me. I love how LeBron actually listens to all the criticisms and uses it as motivation. As if not just having the drive to be the best isn’t enough. I’m glad that Jordan didn’t play in this era so he couldn’t have so many haters to motivate him. And I’m not gonna waste any more time on ranking LeBron as a player against the all time greats. LeBron has plenty of basketball left and his legacy isn’t set in stone yet. And I don’t feel like crushing the “all-time great” narrative with him just yet. Because I don’t think he is or will ever be. Even better, I think LeBron will go down as the greatest athlete in the history of North American sports. Which could be better than being known as the best basketball player of all time. There isn’t anything wrong with that title. In my mind, when ranking the greatest players in my generation, I favor the players who are “dogs”. LeBron can have his moments as a “dog” in his career but I feel like he’ll be remembered more as a passive player. And hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. Passing is cool. Helping your teammates is cool. Finding the open shot for your teammate is cool. But the greatest players in my generation have been “dogs”. MJ, Kobe, Iverson. They are “dogs”. They aren’t passing when the game is on the line. And more times than not, they’ll hit that game winner. But in defense of LeBron and his lack of “dog”, if you’re winning than who cares how you get there.

Sign. As a Knicks fan, I hated Jordan growing up. So, draw your own conclusions. It’s still okay to hate LeBron James.

My Top 10 Most Hated Figures from DOOK Basketball

coach-k-sad

By: Elias McMillan

Honorable Mentions: I hated Carlos Boozer when he was at Dook. He was another on a long list of overrated post players at Dook that could score but could also play zero defense. My hate for Boozer continued during his career in the pros, which honestly has been decent. I enjoyed it very much when Tyler Hansbrough dunked on him in a playoff game some years ago.

Earlier in the 90’s, I hated Trajan Langdon. Langdon followed the path set by numerous Dookies as a player who was hyped in college and ended up doing jack squat in the pros. I also hated his nickname “the Alaskan Assassin” which Dickie V would always throw out after every made basket.

Okay, time for some current names. Josh McRoberts and Greg Paulus were hated but they played during a time where Carolina completely dominated the rivalry thanks to Hansbrough and the boys. Paulus was the classic Dook guard: A guy that would flop all the time and jack up three’s from anywhere. Paulus wasn’t hated as badly because he was mostly made fun of by opposing fans and even by some Dook fans. Paulus wasn’t even well-liked in Dook land because he was highly touted but ultimately, he sucked. And his love for flopping and trying desperately to get charge calls made him an often target for some humiliating plays under the basket. There’s a reason why they nicknamed him, “Tea Bag Paulus”. McRoberts was a Dook big that could jump high so when ever he dunked, ESPN would make it into a national holiday. McRoberts was also another Dook big who was soft and couldn’t defend. So when he couldn’t handle the likes of a Hansbrough, there was nothing left for him to do but cry.

Nolan Smith was a weird looking Dookie who I hated. He was almost as annoying as Chris Duhon and he suspiciously kinda looked liked Coach K. Or maybe they both have the same rat shaped head.

Jon Scheyer was another highly recruited Dookie who had a disappointing career after college. Scheyer will be hated and more remembered for the ridiculous faces he would make during a game than his actual play.

10. Christian Laettner – Laettner might have been a bit before my time, which is why he barely cracks the top ten in my list of hated Dookies. Laettner’s career follows the basic premise of a Dookie: great, hyped college career then little to no success in the NBA. Laettner is the poster boy of what Dook represents. Laettner believed his own hype while at Dook and was a chippy player. He would get in other players faces, trash talk, and would pull some downright dirty tactics. Laettner was hated by just about every opponent he would face on the court but despite that he was the media darling as a college player and sadly, he will live forever in college basketball lore thanks to his game winning shot in a National Championship game.

9. Austin Rivers – There has been a lot of “one-and-dones” at Dook but if I had to choose one that I hated the most, it would be Austin Rivers. Rivers was one of the top recruited players out of high school and he had to decide between North Carolina or Dook. It became quickly obvious to me that he was destined to be a Dookie. Rivers is the son of NBA head coach Doc Rivers and is out of New Jersey. Students and Student/Athletes at Dook carry the stereotype of usually being from out of the state of North Carolina and for coming from well-off families. Rivers fit that mold and he was a cocky douche. Before playing one second at Dook, he was already giving himself nicknames and running off the mouth about how great he was. As a player, he was nothing special. Just another guard from Dook that could shoot and do nothing else. He hit a game winner at the Dean Dome in his only season and of course ESPN replays it whenever they can. Somehow, he is still in the NBA and has proven to be an ultimate “coach’s son” as he was recently traded to Doc Rivers’ Clippers.

8. Dick Vitale – Let me first say this, I like Dick Vitale. He is so important to the very fabric of what makes college basketball so great. That being said, his homerism for Dook is and continues to be his greatest downfall. I understand if you’re a fan of the school, or if you were a student there, or if you’re just really good friends with Coach K. But the Dook love fest that seems to endlessly spew out of his mouth during almost every broadcast is unbearable. Dickie V is unable to call any game without mentioning or making reference to Dook. Its really bad when he’s calling games in the ACC. Even the ones where Dook isn’t playing. I believe that Dick Vitale is a broadcasting treasure but my ears go mute whenever he goes into “Dook mode”.

7. Gerald Henderson – Gerald Henderson didn’t really have a memorable college career at Dook. Henderson was actually a rare type of player at Dook. He wasn’t the typical shot-happy type and he was a decent athlete. He makes this list for being a dirty player and for blatantly going after Tyler Hansbrough is his last regular season home game at the Dean Dome. While going up for a rebound, Henderson takes a straight shot to Hansbrough’s face and busted him right open. This still gets replayed every time Dook and Carolina plays and it gets pegged as some type of great moment in the rivalry. Its just another reason to hate Dook. To this day, Billy Packer still thinks that there was no clear intent on Henderson part. Unreal. Blatant cheap shot.

6. Chris Duhon – I hate Chris Duhon’s face. This annoying Dookie was known for being one of Coach K’s pet students. He was more of the typical Dook guard. A guy that would just run around in circles, jacking up three’s and flopping at any chance on defense. I’ll mention that he did hit a game winning layup against UNC one year but that was probably the most memorable moment in his college career. Duhon, like most Dook guards, didn’t really have that much talent to carry over into the NBA.

5. Shane Battier – Battier was another player, like Duhon, that I hated with a passion at Dook and as a pro player. It is said that Battier is known as a great defender but really the dude was a master flopper and a total dweeb. There are a lot of floppers at Dook but Battier perfected the art of the flop and he receives praise for it even as a pro. At least he later admitted that flopping was coached at Dook.

4. Steve Wojciechowski – Wojo was an awful player at Dook but he gained a lot of attention for being a floor slapping jarbroni that Coach K loved. I’ll remember Wojo for fainting in the locker room after a loss to Carolina in the ACC Championship game. I believed that he fainted because he couldn’t keep up with Ed Cota the entire game. Coach K awarded Wojo for his loyalty and made him one of his cronies on his coaching staff for many years. Eventually, Coach K had to “cut the cord” and Wojo took the head-coaching job at Marquette. It’s a shame because I really liked Marquette when Buzz Williams coached them. Now, I root against them and it helps that they stink. Just like coach.

3. J.J. Redick – There hasn’t been more of an arrogant cocky douche in the history of Dook basketball than J.J. Redick. Redick was hugely overrated at Dook. As a player, he was ultimately just a one trick pony that Coach K couldn’t ride into a national championship. Redick was the prototype, Coach K type of shooting guard who would just make his living running around in circles, behind screens, and jacking three pointers. Redick was universally hated in every college basketball stadium in his career and it was mainly because of his cocky attitude. I can happily say that Tyler Hansbrough as freshman ruined his senior night at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Probably my favorite moment in the rivalry.

2. The Cameron Crazies – Student sections are apart of why college basketball is so awesome. I wont rip the Cameron Crazies for being enthusiastic about their team but I will rip them for being the biggest collection of dweebs and dorks. I’ll remember when ESPN tried to give them attention for having a guy in the crowd in a speedo. And then, when they tried to “re-create” that moment with the speedo, the idiot kid ended up doing something obscene right into the ESPN cameras and the announcers had to apologize.

1. Mike Krzyzewski – Coach K is the king of it all so naturally, he is number one on my list of most hated Dookies. I wont knock him for all of his accomplishments but I will knock his style of basketball that he coaches. People seem to like Coach K because he coaches “the right way” and his program is “team oriented”. I just feel that there is nothing too great about running around in circles, jacking up three pointers behind screens, the art of flopping, and having un-athletic soft big guys who constantly get bullied. No one in the media seems to like to talk about the way he berates officials when his team is down or how the games are called period when he is at home. Usually, guys in his position would at least try to show some humility despite all of the success but Coach K doesn’t do that at all. When Dean Smith passed away some weeks ago, people close to him said that he never wanted a lot of credit for the success he had as a coach at UNC. If that was indeed true about him, then Coach K is the exact opposite. He is treated like a basketball god and he acts like so. Here’s a recent example: when Dook lost to 15-seeded Mercer last March, Coach K reportedly walked into the Mercer locker room to further congratulate them for the victory in middle of their own celebration. And the media gets ahold of this story and go on and on about how classy of a move that was by Coach K, the basketball coaching God. It must have been a real thrill for those Mercer players to meet Coach K, coach of the stars, again after beating his team of All-Americans. It was just an all-time smug, douchey decision by Coach K. He might be remembered as being one of the greatest coaches in college sports but not in my book.