NFL Week 12 Spar

Joe to Greg

Well a lot has happened in the NFL since we last did one of these. Here are the current playoff standings through Week 11.

I think the NFC is going to go down to the wire. I think the Eagles control their own destiny in the NFC, with 4 of their last 5 games coming against divisional opponents (2 against Dallas). Between Arizona, Seattle, and San Fran, I think one of these teams misses out.

On the AFC side, I think New England and Denver will control the top two spots for the rest of the season, but there is going to be some serious movement with the lower seeds. I think Baltimore has a great chance to get the top spot in the AFC North, but need Cincinnati to falter down the stretch since the Ravens have lost to the Bengals twice this season.

What are you thoughts on these two playoff pictures? How much do you see them changing between now and the end of the season?

Greg to Joe

The NFC West is only going to have one playoff team and it’s the Cardinals. The Seahawks have lost their offensive line and do not have anything that resembles a passing game. The Percy Harvin trade may have helped settle down the locker room, but it did not help them on the field. I have no idea why they are 6.5 point favorites this week. It is shocking to me. I also don’t think the 49ers are any good. I think their offense is very erratic. Colin Kaepernick is the most unstable quarterback in the NFL. You never know if he is going to be a dud or stud. However, I do think these teams will be fun to watch on Thanksgiving. I think it will be fun game.

I think the Ravens will be division champions IF they win on Monday night. They are underdogs, but you never know what you are going to get from the Saints. It is going to be a fun game to watch. I think Kenny Stills is going to have a big game against the Ravens, but I think think Baltimore can win this one. The reason I think the Ravens are safe is they only have one division game left, which is the Browns. They also have the Jags, Texans and Chargers. The Chargers game should be a win because they have so many injuries and it is a cross-country 1:00 pm game for them. So if they beat the Saints and win 2 out of the 3 other games I mentioned, they will make the playoffs with a win at home against the Browns in Week 17. I feel pretty good about the Ravens.

As for any changes in the playoff picture, I see Green Bay winning the NFC North, Dallas winning the NFC East, and the Saints winning the NFC South. I think the Falcons and Panthers are REALLY bad. The Saints are bad too, but I can see them picking it up soon. They have to get a sense of urgency eventually. In terms of the AFC, I see Baltimore as the 4-seed. I think the Colts will end up in the 3 seed. I have no idea who the last wild card will be in the AFC. It could be anyone. My guess right now would be Steelers, but I don’t know for sure.

Any predictions for you? I’m sure you have the Pats going far…

Joe to Greg

As far as my predictions go, I agree with all of your NFC picks (Green Bay, Dallas, New Orleans). On the AFC side, I can’t deny how much I love what New England is doing right now. They are playing extremely well, but I am trying to keep my expectations to a minimum. For now I think they are an elite playoff team, but I’ll wait to see the final standings before I start thinking about a Super Bowl appearance. Remember, Gronk didn’t get injured until Week 14 last season so there is still a lot that can happen between now and the start of the playoffs. For your Ravens, I think you’re 100% correct when you say that Monday night is a defining moment for them. Especially with the way their schedule pans out the rest of the season. I think even if they lose on Monday night, they are still in the hunt for the playoffs so overall they are in a great position heading into the final weeks of the regular season. I think the Kansas City Chiefs are an interesting team to watch out for. Since they are in the same division as the Broncos they may fall to the 5th seed, but they are a tough first round match up for anyone.

What are your thoughts for the MVP race so far? I think Aaron Rodgers is an overwhelming favorite right now. This stat sort of puts his performance thus far in perspective:

Nick Foles 2013: 13 games played, 2,891 yards, 27 TD, 2 INT, 119.2 Rating

Aaron Rodgers 2014: 10 games played, 2,748 yards, 28 TD, 3 INT, 120.1 Rating

In no way am I trying to hate on Nick Foles. I think he had a terrific season last year, but Aaron Rodgers has been on another level since his R-E-L-A-X statement.

Greg to Joe

Yeah, every Patriots fan that I talk to at Bucknell is so afraid of Gronk getting hurt. They are just praying for him to get up after every hit. I bet he stays healthy and gives the Broncos hell in the AFC Championship. I think Kansas City will be tough out in the playoffs, even though they lost yesterday (which I made money off of). They have a great running game, and if they get out to a lead, they cannot be caught because of the steller ground game. They also have Travis Kelce, who they need to use more.

In terms of MVP, I think it has to be Luck. He has been dominating this league with a pretty bad supporting cast. The defense has Vontae Davis, and the offense has T.Y. Hilton and the tight ends.  He has been carrying this team. He leads the league in in passing attempts and yards. He is also tied for 2nd in passing touchdowns. He also is able to move around the pocket. I would say that he or Rodgers should win the MVP, but in all honesty, I could see an argument for Gronk as well.

So you have any bold free agent predictions, Lester going back to Boston doesn’t count as bold.

Joe to Greg

You got me, Lester to Boston was on my mind. Although, the thought of Big Papi and The Big Panda sounds extremely nice too. I think if Sandoval was smart, he would stay in San Francisco with Buster Posey and company. They’ve built a great core of players and I hate seeing a group break up after the run they’ve had. On the other hand, a bold prediction of mine is Hanley Ramirez going to the Seattle Mariners. He may end up being to costly for the Mariners, but he would be a nice right-handed batter inbetween lefties Robinson Cano (batting in the 3-spot) and Kyle Seager (batting in the 5th spot).

Any bold predictions for the Orioles?

Greg to Joe

I think that Ramirez pick is a good one. He makes too much sense in Seattle. I think the Mariners will then be able to trade their two shortstops for some relievers. It would be a great move for the Mariners. I do like your line up positioning for them though.

I don’t think they are going to do anything crazy to shock people. I think they will resign Markakis for 4 years/40 million and Cruz for 3 years/45 million. I also think that they will trade Ubaldo to some team that is desperate for pitching. Hopefully they’ll be able to get some semblance of value for him. I would say the one crazy thing that I would love for them to do is trade Chris Davis. I think they should deal him for some more pitching prospects, a good utility player and I wouldn’t mind a good defense outfielder as well. I just think that they can only keep one of Wieters and Davis, and I would go with Wieters. We’ll see what they actually do, but that is my opinion.

Some other bold prediction…

Sandoval to the Padres

Cole Hamels to the Padres (Home Sweet Home)

Yoan Mancada to the Yankees

Yasmany Tomas to the Marlins (as they go on one of their mini-spending sprees)

Greg Danchik & Joe Meola

Pre-Trade Deadline Spar

Joe to Greg (July 24th)

Well a lot has happened since we last did this so let’s address the one elephant in the room first. LeBron. As I’ve told you I’m in the middle of writing an NBA piece highlighting all the free agent signings this offseason so I’ll keep my comments short. Besides the fact that you TOTALLY CALLED THIS, I’m still surprised.

I always knew he’d go back, just to set the record straight. To be honest, I didn’t think it would be this soon. I can’t believe we’ve been watching LeBron James for 11 years now. Those four years went by faster than I thought and in those four years, James wound up with 4 Finals appearances and 2 titles. Why would he want to leave that? Well Wade was aging and Bosh was past his prime, but why not sign a 2-year deal with an opt-out again next summer? Obviously make another Finals appearance because the East is well…the East and then sit back and evaluate things. I don’t think that is guaranteed with the Cleveland roster now (although there are still moves to be made and one move sounds LOVEly). I think in the end his heart was always in Cleveland and I never doubted his return, just the timing of it. I know you’ve written a separate post about this, but any thoughts now that time has passed?

Greg to Joe (July 24th)

Personally, if you think that LeBron could lead the Heat to the NBA Finals, you have to think he could lead the Cavs. Wade is done. Unless they can work some Duncan resting magic on him, he may be done for good. I think Bosh is really underrated, but he and James together isn’t as good as Kyrie, Wiggins, and a bunch of young guys that can run. With Love, the Cavaliers have to become the favorites to win the title. I bet that deal happens and the Sixers will end up getting Dion Waiters, Kevin Martin and a first round pick because they joined as the third team. Wolves will get to unload a bunch of big contracts, Wiggins, Bennett, and a bunch of picks. It will work out nicely for them. I see Kevin Love as a Cav, but we’ll see in a month because Wiggins cannot be dealt for a month.

So on a baseball note, do you think the Red Sox will be sellers? I think that they should just pack it in and get some more prospects. I would deal Jon Lester for a young pitcher and outfielder. Then I would try to resign him after the season. I think they could also deal Koji, former Oriole great, but I am not sure who else they could deal. It is going to be interesting to see what they do. Also, do you see any big deals happening before the trade deadline? I would have said David Price, but I don’t think the Rays will deal him anymore after their mini-hot streak.

Joe to Greg (July 25th)

Quick LeBron note: I think you know this, but Thursday, Wiggins was offered a contract. With that contract, he isn’t allowed to be traded for 30 days. Which means any trade going on between Cleveland and Minnesota would have to be after August 23rd. I think, and I’ll elaborate on this more in my NBA piece, that Chicago has a better deal in place for Minnesota and you could see them swoop in before Wiggins is trade eligible. Don’t sleep on Golden State either, they could easily throw Klay Thompson in the mix, but they hate the thought of losing that Curry-Thompson duo.

As far as the Sox are concerned, they should be in full sell mode. Their biggest mistake was not signing Lester at the beginning of the season so I think they should look for some prospects to get in some sort of trade. Also Jake Peavy could be on his way out, I think he is something like 1-9 right now. His record doesn’t show much, but he’s still a veteran pitcher who can support the back end of a rotation for say the Dodgers or the Cardinals or some team in the playoff race. I’m with you on the Price scenario. I thought he was on his way out, but why not ride his hot hand the rest of the season and see if you can sneak into a wildcard spot? Besides that, Lester could be the biggest name out there, but I can’t see many other big trades happening before the deadline.

What are you thoughts on the Ray Rice 2-game suspension? Was it too much or too little?

Greg to Joe (July 26th)

Yeah, thats why I said we need to wait a month about Wiggins because I knew that contract would be signed. The only competitor to the Cavs are the Warriors in my opinion. If they add Klay Thompson, they get Kevin Love. Easily. I don’t think the Bulls are a huge competitor because I doubt they will trade Douggie McBuckets and if they do, they have the same 30 day restriction the Cavs do with Wiggins. I also hope that the Bulls do not trade Nikola Mirotić because I am really excited to see him in the NBA and have him on my fantasy team.

I think the Peavy trade was great for the Red Sox. I do not know much about Edwin Escobar, but I do know the Heath Hembree will be the Red Sox future closer and could even start closing at the end of this year. He has a power arm with great stuff, but he needs to control it better. I think that getting Hembree in this trade makes Koji EXTREMELY expendable. I see him getting dealt before the trade deadline as well and hopefully, it is to a team that has outfield prospects because the Red Sox need outfielders. I know I said this before, but I do not think it can be overstated. Lester might get dealt as well, but I think he still has a chance to be on the 2015 Red Sox.

The Ray Rice suspension is a black mark on the NFL. I think that he should have been suspended much longer. As a Ravens fan, I am pretty happy because I think that he could have a good year in Gary Kubiak‘s 1-cut running system, but I just can’t believe that he will be allowed to play after two games. I think 8 should have been the punishment, and I love Rice. I think he is a great person, and this happened to be his only mistake. It just also happened to be very public in nature.

Gronk is ready for training camp, you excited about that? Also, who do you think will win MVP this year… if it wasn’t allowed to be a Quarterback?

Joe to Greg (July 28th)

I have to do some more research into Embree and Escobar, but hopefully they can fill some of the gaps in the roster in the coming years. What are you thoughts on the development of Matt Kemp/Jon Lester rumors? Can you imagine Lester in that Dodgers lineup the way Kershaw and Greinke have been pitching this seaon? Is Kemp even worth going for from the Sox persepctive?

As far as Ray Rice is concerned, again, I’m with you. I think that he should have gotten a bigger penalty. It just makes the NFL’s discipline system look all out of sorts. The only reason I can see why it was a less severe penalty is because he’s a first time offender. In the long run, this helps the Ravens out a lot, but I do think they have to be careful in those first two games because they are both divisional games.

I’m very excited for Gronk to return. He is Brady‘s favorite target by far and I’ve enjoyed watching highlights of them hooking up in mini camp this past week. I’m interested to see how Darrelle Revis does this year because if he does well, I think he would be more inclined to resign next season considering hes on that one-year deal. If I were to pick an MVP, and it wasn’t a quarterback, I would say Shady McCoy has a chance to have another great year this year. I haven’t put a lot of thought into this, or fantasy for that matter, so I may have to change that. Who do you think will be the non-quarterback MVP?

Greg to Joe (July 28th)

Kemp wouldn’t be the centerpiece of the deal. The Red Sox wouldn’t take him unless they were getting a top prospect and the Dodgers pay most of his salary. The Dodgers pitching would be sick, but I don’t think Kemp has much left in the tank for the Sox. The ankle injuries really took a toll on his defense.

I think Revis is more of a mercenary. I honestly do not think he cares about winning that much. He just wants his money. He will go to whichever team will pay him the most. The team that pays the most, will probably win more because of him, but he only cares about money. I think he is a great addition to the Patriots. He should really help the pass rush out by locking down one receiver.

My non-quarterback MVP would have to be Jamaal Charles. He led his team in rushing and receiving, and he finally got paid. To which I say, good for him.

Greg Danchik (@gregdanchik)

Joe Meola (@brosephmeola)

LeBron Goes Home

LeBron James returns to Cleveland.

It happened exactly a year after I wrote about it (and yes, I am even posting this at the exact same time of day… 5:00 pm EST) and people said no way and chuckled. My reasons are/were listed in this paragraph.

Andrew Bynum signs with the Cavaliers. I am on the record of saying LeBron James will be a Cleveland Cavalier for the 2014-2015 NBA season. I have made two bets actually and I will take anymore that people want to offer up. If you look at the Cavaliers and Heat this season and take LeBron James out of the picture, the Cavaliers are much better. Starting five of Kyrie IrvingDion Waiters, and Anthony Bennett with Tristan ThompsonAnderson Varejao and Andrew Bynum splitting the 4 and 5 duties. The Heat minus LeBron looks like this… Mario ChalmersDwyane WadeMike MillerUdonis Haslem, and Chris Bosh. I realize that this is an unfair comparison because the Heat built their team around LeBron, but wouldn’t LeBron want to play with the better supporting cast? That’s what he did in 2010, and he will probably do it again. If you say he’s the best player in the world now and he doesn’t have to move because players come to him, you’re wrong. He was the best player in the world in 2010 and he moved. He is already building an extension on his house in Ohio, he wants his kids to grow up in Akron, he donated $1 million dollars to rebuild his former high school’s basketball gym, and he wants to win. LeBron will be donning a crisp #6 Cleveland Cavaliers’ jersey opening night in 2014/2015.

I told Heather I was going to brag for 40 days and 40 nights, but I’m not. I just feel awesome right now.

I really like how he announced his decision with an essay in SI. It was really well written. He didn’t guarantee a championship, and he also didn’t mention Andrew Wiggins or Anthony Bennett, which means Kevin Love is probably coming to Cleveland. We’ll see about that.

Even with the current roster, it is the right basketball move. Last summer, it looked like the right move, and it looks even better this summer. Dwyane Wade is really old. He is broken down and only played in 54 games during the regular season. He is no longer to superstar he once was. The role players that are still around include Chris AndersonMichael Beasley, Mario Chalmers, Norris ColeRashard Lewis and Shabazz Napier. Those players can’t help LeBron win a title, even with Chris Bosh and they proved that in their NBA Championship loss to the Spurs.

The Cavaliers situation looks a lot brighter with some young players. Andrew Wiggins, if he is staying in Cleveland, was the Number One Overall Pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Prior to his one year in college, people were calling him the best prospect since Kevin Durant. I am not sure that is the case, but it could be. He is a extremely gifted athlete that will be a great defender right away. He just needs to improve his offensive game, and LeBron could definitely help with that. Kyrie Irving is always hurt, but he will now be elevated with LeBron, and he will not have to carry to load of the team, which he is not good enough to do and win. Hopefully that means he will be on the court more. With Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters as capable role players, this Cleveland team will be looking for a title this year. The only two challengers in the East will be Indiana and Chicago, but Cleveland’s road to the title should be easier as they will most likely have the number one seed and won’t have to face both of those teams en route to a Finals appearance.

This announcement makes for a great NBA season next year with Cleveland as serious title contenders and the Houston Rockets improving with Chris Bosh. While the West is already stacked, I think that the Rockets are now seriously in contention with the Thunder and Spurs for the Western Conference Title.

Greg Danchik

Follow Me:  @gregdanchik

gregdanchik@gmail.com

Opening Week (Kind of)

We did our best to get this out right after opening week, but we are both busy college students in our Junior year. That is why it is “Kind of” an opening week spar.

Anyway, here it is.

Joe to Greg

After almost two complete weeks of baseball, we can finally say the season is underway. Seattle looks like a completely different team as they own the best run differential in the league (+18) early on. Their first 16 games come against either the Angels, Athletics, or Rangers; Coming out of the gates with at least 10 wins can put the Mariners in great position to start the season.

I don’t know what to think of the AL East yet, but I think how teams start the season in that division goes a long way in determining who comes out on top at the end. I think there is the possibility of three teams getting into the playoffs out of that division depending on how much they beat each other up. The Miami Marlins have started strong, or at least Giancarlo Stanton (who already has 12 RBIs). On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Arizona Diamondbacks have started 2-8, which baffles me because of Mark Trumbo‘s play early on (5 HRs, 13 RBIs, .282 AVG). They’ve dug themselves a hole that they need to climb out of sooner rather than later with the Dodgers and Giants off to strong starts.

What are your early impressions of the league?

Greg to Joe

My early impressions are that the Yankees are severely overvalued in Vegas. Almost every game they have played, the GDM has found an advantage. I was scared when the GDM said I should bet Astros on the first day of the season, but I was quickly calmed down after CC Sabathia gave up 4 runs in the first. Now, I am really thinking that the Yankees are not that good. Their starting pitching is just not good enough. When Masahiro Tanaka (a pitcher that was always touted as good but not Yu Darvish good) is clearly the ace of the staff, you have problems in the pitching department. Tanaka is striking out a lot of guys now, but look for him to turn into more of groundball pitcher with the devastating splitter.

I LOVE watching Jose Fernandez pitch, and I am sure I am not the only one. Whenever he starts, the Marlins are favorites in Vegas, and rightfully so. He just strikes people out like it is nobody’s business. He is averaging 12 strikeouts per nine innings. That is unheard of from a starter. Obviously, that number will go down, but I think that he will be a serious threat to average double digit strikeouts per nine innings throughout the season. That would be why he is my projected NL Cy Young Award winner.

With that prediction out there, do you have any predictions for any of the other awards?

Joe to Greg

Image of CC Sabathia's astonishing weight loss (BleacherReport.com)

Image of CC Sabathia’s astonishing weight loss (BleacherReport.com)

You made a good point about Tanaka. After giving up a home run to the first batter he faced, he’s looked just fine. I can’t remember the analyst who initially mentioned this, but CC Sabathia’s velocity went down when he started losing weight. He wasn’t creating that power behind every pitch, and I think that’s a big reason why he went 14-13 last season. This is a minor prediction, but if Tanaka shines during the first half of the season and Sabathia continues his form from last season, I could see a change in the pitching rotation around the All-Star break. I never played baseball myself so I don’t know all the logistics of changing a starting rotation midway through the season. Nonetheless, I agree that the Yankees starting pitching needs some work.

As far as any other major award predictions, I’m looking for another AL MVP race between Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout. Without trying to sound like too much of a homer, I would love to see Xander Bogaerts explode onto the scene. He has tremendous potential, but I think the expectations for him skyrocketed when he played well in the playoffs last year, which could impact people’s perception of him. On the NL side, I agree with the Fernandez pick. He’s just a stud, but another pitcher I’m starting to like a lot is Fernandez’s teammate, Nathan Eovaldi. He has great velocity on his pitches, average fastball velocity of 95.5 mph. He gets a fair amount of K’s (6 in his first start, 8 in his second), and I think if the Marlins want to contend with the Braves and Nationals, they’ll need support from someone other than Fernandez.

What are your thoughts about Ervin Santana‘s recent start for the Braves? He went eight shutout innings. Could he sneak into the conversation for CY young?

Greg to Joe

Pitching rotation changes don’t need to specifically happen. Tanaka will just be referred to as the Yankees’ ace, and he may already be referred to as that. Sabathia has started to lose velocity on his average fastball since 2009, according to Pitch F/X. The Yankees should have never resigned him to a huge extension in 2011.

As far the awards, the AL MVP shouldn’t be a race. It will be Mike Trout. He was by far the best player in ALL OF BASEBALL the past two seasons, and this year, he will finally get what he deserves. I think Bogaerts will be in the running for AL Rookie of the year, but he will be chasing Jose Abreu, and possibly Tanaka. Abreu is awesome to watch at the plate. I am pumped I have him on my fantasy team in the Barry Bonds’ Ball Sack league.  NL Rookie of the year will go to Chrisitan Yelich, Travis d’Arnaud, Michael Wacha, or Billy Hamilton. If Hamilton steals 80 bases, he will probably win it, but I actually think Yelich could run away with it if he could get his hitting straightened out. My (random) NL MVP prediction is it will come down to Freddie Freeman and Yadier Molina. It will be decided by how many games the Braves and Cardinals win.

I like Nathan Eovaldi too. I think he could be a number 2 or 3 starter in the Marlins’ rotation when they are in contention again, which will be two years from now.

Ervin Santana’s start does not mean much to me. I think that will be the best game he pitches all season. I think that Santana will revert to his normal self and finish with an ERA and FIP around 4. We’ll see if I am right about this, but we’ll find out as the season goes on.

You excited about the Sox – Yanks series this weekend?

Joe to Greg

I’m excited for the Sox-Yanks series because I’m starting to appreciate the amount of games that Derek Jeter has left in the rivalry. That being said, they just lost this afternoon after a big performance against none other than CC Sabathia! I love this guy! Keep having him pitch against the Sox because its producing great outcomes for the Sox. Should we be worried about the Sox (5-7) and Orioles’ (4-6) sluggish starts? I know it’s extremely early, but the AL East is ridiculously competitive.

Talk about starting off on the right note, the Brewers (8-2) sweep the Sox in Boston, and then go into Philly and sweep them too. The NL Central looks like another ridiculous competitive division between the Brewers, Cards, and Pirates. Who do you think comes out of this division? Actually, while we’re here, can we just make a couple of predictions for the playoffs?

AL East: Tampa Bay Rays

AL Central: Detroit Tigers

AL West: Los Angeles Angels

AL Wild Card Matchup: Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees (How awesome would it be to see a one game play-in game between the oldest rivals in the game?)

NL East: Atlanta Braves

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals

NL West: San Francisco Giants

NL Wild Card Matchup: LA Dodgers vs. Washington Nationals

Greg to Joe

I don’t think that the Sox have much to worry about, but the Orioles could be in trouble. They have been sluggish offensively beginning in the second half of last season. They are regarded as a high power offense, but post-All Star break, they ranked 14th in the OPS and 16th in runs. That is mediocre for a “top offense”.

For predictions, I posted my over/under totals bets that should have been made. When I was doing that, I made my playoff picture off of those win totals.

AL East: Tamba Bay Rays

AL Central: Cleveland Indians

AL West: Oakland Athletics

AL Wild Card:  Toronto Blue Jays @ Boston Red Sox

You knew I didn’t like the Yankees from my over/under post, but there is a noticeable difference in my playoff picture than probably everyone else in the country. I don’t have the Tigers in the postseason. They were also one of my biggest under bets for the season, and I didn’t write about it because I couldn’t explain it. Now, I can. It was because their top 5 starters actually got to start almost 160 of their games last season and that is nearly impossible. I expect some time missed from their top starters, and I don’t think their bullpen is that great either. I guess that is my boldest prediction for this season, but we will see what happens.

NL East: Washington Nationals

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals

NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers

NL Wild Card: SF Giants @ Atlanta Braves

Pretty much chalk in my predictions here. I guess the biggest surprise is no Pirates, but I think the Giants will be able to get some more wins in a much worse NL West.

Greg Danchik and Joe Meola

Post-NBA All Star Game Dojo Spar

Greg to Joe

So the NBA All-Star Game just happened… I didn’t watch. I prefer Saturday’s festivities, personally. I know that the Dunk Contest usually is quite boring, but I always have to watch. I watch so I don’t miss out on a never-before-seen dunk. I had also bet on that event, along with the 3-Point Contest. I had bet on Ben McLemore in the Dunk Contest. Unfortunately, McLemore had to “Battle” against John Wall, who had the best dunk of the night. I, also, did not like the format at all. It was a lot stupider than they led it on to be, and I was left feeling like there was no real winner. Bradley Beal had a valiant effort, but fell short to Marco Belinelli; meaning my bet fell just short.

(And you always have to Celly)

With the NFL season ending two weeks ago, I was able to think about this season as a whole. First of all, the Seahawks were the best team and deserved to win the Super Bowl. They were the best team all year and deserved the title. That is the first time that has happened in a long time. I can’t even think of the last time that happened. It may have been when the Steelers beat the Cardinals in 2009, I think.

I also have some thoughts about some sleepers for next year. Do you have any thoughts about that?

Joe to Greg

I actually listened to the first quarter of the NBA All-Star Game on the radio on my drive up to school. By the end of the quarter the announcers ran out of way to describe the dunks that Blake Griffin was doing. I’m with you though; I prefer Saturday’s festivities more, but I’d have to say I was disappointed. The format was too lackadaisical. The first round was an awkward 90 seconds, and the battle stage wasn’t really as exciting as I was expecting. Props to John Wall on his dunk, I was impressed with that and Damian Lillard‘s between the legs dunk.

I looked back to our past Dojo Spars and we both predicted 4 of the 6 NFC playoff teams in July. I didn’t get a chance to look at the AFC side but there is no question that the Seahawks were the best team this year. The only real concern I had for this team was playing outside of Seattle, and they handled that fairly well, I’d say. As far as sleepers for next year, you’re going to have to give me one more E-mail because I haven’t put much thought into it. I will say that I think some of the players coming out of the NFL Draft have the chance to immediately make an impact on some teams.

Greg to Joe

The NFL Draft is always fun. I can’t wait to see what happens at the combine. I don’t watch, but I like to see the crazy stats that come out of it. Apparently, Jadeveon Clowney said he is going to break a 4.4 40 yard time. That would be INSANE for a man his side. It is also fun to see the crazy changes in mock draft boards after the combine.

Rookies that will make an impact right away, I think, are Clowney, Sammy Watkins, and Mike Evans (You know what? That list really makes me wonder what I am doing with my life because they are all younger than me). I can’t say much about the offensive linemen, but they could be impactful as well. My reasoning for these three are Clowney is just a freak. If he wants to, he can dominate a game. He could end up being on the same D-line as JJ Watt, which would just be scary for all of the QBs in the AFC South and, quite frankly, the NFL as a whole. Watkins will improve any NFL offense he joins. He can stretch the field, but he is also big and can jump. Yet, he is also larger than most CBs in the league. Evans is a Wes Welker-type receiver, and it is not because he is white. He is a great possession receiver that can catch anything over the middle. He will do great as a slot receiver on any team (hopefully the Ravens).

My deep sleeper team for next year has to be the Browns. They have a great defense. If they can keep Alex Mack for their center position, draft one of three top quarterbacks in the draft, and get a receiver at the back end of the first round, they could be deadly. I mean they are the most dysfunctional franchise in the history of the NFL so this probably won’t happen.

My sleeper team for 2015 is the St. Louis Rams. They are in the toughest division in the NFL, but they are really talented. If they could dump Sam Bradford and draft a top QB and grab a lineman or receiver, they could have the offense to compete in the NFC West.

Joe to Greg

I think the Browns have a very good defense. They played extremely well in a game they should have won against the Patriots this season. One of my other predictions is that the 49ers are going to win the NFC West. I don’t think this is too far out of the question, or on the level of a dark horse like the Browns, but I think that they came so close to edging the Seahawks in the NFC Championship game. The 49ers have the team capable of dethroning the defending Super Bowl Champs. That division is only getting better as Arizona looks to improve on a strong finish to their season.

Another team I’m looking for next season is the Chargers. I think Phillip Rivers put together one of the best seasons of his career. He threw for close to 4,500 yards (4,478 is the actual number) and also had his highest completion percentage of his career (69.5 – compare to 64.1 last year). How the Chargers contend with the Broncos and Chiefs will be interesting. Will we see 3 teams from this division go to the playoffs? Is that possible? Who knows.

How do you feel about the O’s picking up Ubaldo Jimenez?

Greg to Joe

If 3 teams from the AFC West go to the playoffs again, I would not be surprised, but I think it will probably be different. I bet the Dolphins make the playoffs this next year. Tannehill is too good, and they will have finally gotten their Bully-Gate behind them.

But enough about football… IT’S BASEBALL SEASON

I am loving what the Orioles are doing. They are paying Ubaldo Jimenez a lot, but it should be worth it because, sadly, he is better than most of their pitching rotation. They also got a STEAL in Nelson Cruz. They get potentially 25-30 homers from him, if he can stay healthy. With the price only being 8 million dollars, that is awesome. I think they shouldn’t stop though. They need to pick up Ervin Santana and accept that they won’t have a draft pick until the 4th or 5th round in the upcoming draft. If they get Santana, the Blue Jays do not get him and he improves the O’s rotation. I am excited for this season and to see what happens with Ervin Santana.

Boston Red Sox starting lineup in Game 1 of the 2013 ALCS (Photo Cred: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Boston Red Sox starting lineup in Game 1 of the 2013 ALCS (Photo Cred: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

You like what the Sox have/haven’t done this off-season and are you excited them for to try and defend their title?

Joe to Greg

Coming into the season I’m extremely excited to see Xander Bogaerts play. That being said, I wasn’t expecting Ryan Dempster to leave. He was a great starter during the season, and I thought he’d stay for at least one more year. I like the addition of Edward Mujica, formerly of the St. Louis Cardinals, as well. I think he strengthens their bullpen going forward.

I think that Cruz addition is great for the Orioles. That just helps their line up out even more. I also agree that the O’s need to keep going. The Yankees have made a splash this off season, the Rays have a great rotation coming in, and the Sox have made a few additions. Its gearing up to be another competitive AL East. I love it.

Greg Danchik and Joe Meola