Weekend Reactions in the Daily Dojo

It has been awhile since I have written, and even longer since I have written consistently. I am going to try to break that trend. They may be short and sweet writings about what I am thinking about sports in that day, but I want to get constant content on the site. So, here we go

Obviously, this weekend was a huge weekend for most sports fans because of the Jamaican 2-man Bobsled Team’s qualification for the 2014 Winter Olympics! It is actually a big deal, considering it will be the first time since 2002 that the Jamaicans have qualified for the Bobsled event. They have already received $80,000 in donations to help them make the trip to Sochi.

Jamaican 2-man Bobsled Team (businessinsider.com

Jamaican 2-man Bobsled Team (businessinsider.com)

Now onto the sporting events you thought I was going to talk about at first, the AFC and NFC Championship games.

This is one of those few years that you can actually say the two best teams made it into their respective conference games. In the AFC, there is not a lot talent, in all honesty. The Patriots had a lot of holes, but they had less holes than everyone, but the Denver Broncos. Bill Belichick was able to mask many of the Patriots flaws on defense, and Tom Brady can make a star out of any white guy who is willing to get hit by much bigger human beings, Julian Edelman and Wes Welker. With that being said, they clearly did not match up to the Denver Broncos this Sunday. They were dominated in all facets of the game. On defense, the Patriots were unable to put any pressure on, who should be the first unanimous MVP in NFL History, Peyton Manning. No Patriot recorded a QB hit, and Manning recorded 400 yards of passing on 43 attempts with 2 touchdowns. Patriots looked out of it from the get go, and that is why the Broncos are the AFC Champions

In the NFC, there was a brawl for the ages. I wasn’t able to watch the first half, but I do know that the 49ers blew that game in the second half. As you may know if you follow me on Twitter, I got caught up in the Richard Sherman interview reactions, and the Seattle fans’ disgusting lack of sportsmanship after Navarro Bowman‘s gruesome injury. After having a day to think about what happened, here is what I think should be remembered from that game…

  1. Colin Kaepernick cost the 49ers that game with some incredibly poor throws and a costly fumble in the 4th quarter.
  2. 49ers’ defense was the only reason Kaepernick had a chance to redeem himself on the final drive.
  3. Kaepernick would have redeemed himself had Richard Sherman turned his head a second later. That’s a touchdown, and the 49ers are the NFC Champions.
  4. Looking past all of the off-field antics, Richard Sherman is a beast and should not be thrown to.
  5. The best team from the NFC is going to Super Bowl.
Richard Sherman holding the George Halas Trophy. (Photo Cred: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Richard Sherman hoisting the George Halas Trophy (Photo Cred: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Early Super Bowl Prediction

Below 32 degrees: Seahawks’ win, 24-17

Above 32 degrees: Broncos win, 31-24

Peyton Manning after yet another disappointing postseason loss against the Baltimore Ravens on January 12, 2013 (Photo Cred: AP)

Peyton Manning after yet another disappointing postseason loss against the Baltimore Ravens on January 12, 2013 (Photo Cred: AP)

Yes, temperature can cause of big difference with Peyton. Remember Peyton only put up 21 points on an AWFUL Baltimore Ravens’ defense in a game that was 13 degrees. I know 13 and 32 degrees is a huge difference, but 2013-14 Seattle Seahawks’ Defense is a huge difference between the 2012-13 Baltimore Ravens’ Defense. Peyton doesn’t think the cold has an affect on his game, but his playoff record and record outdoors in poor conditions, says otherwise.

Greg Danchik

 

Dojo Sparring – NFL Playoffs are taking shape

Joe to Greg

Detroit Lions reaction after Justin Tucker’s 61 yard field goal.

It’s been a little bit since we’ve done one of these and a lot has happened across the sports world. Lets get the NFL out of the way first. What are your thoughts on this past week of NFL action? The Ravens looked good and bad from what I saw. Good in the sense that I’m pretty sure everyone knows Justin Tucker now. Bad in the sense that Justin Tucker was their sole source of points against the Lions. The Patriots ended up on the wrong side of another close game, which is expected when you hinge your team’s success on fourth quarter one minute drills. The Bengals lost an opportunity to get the #2 seed. December is a great month for football because of all playoff implications, which conference are you more intrigued by based on the playoff races?

Greg to Joe

Tom Brady's face when he realized he wasn't going to the Super Bowl last year. (Photo Cred: Screenshot of CBS Broadcast)

Tom Brady’s face when he realized he wasn’t going to the Super Bowl last year. (Photo Cred: Screenshot of CBS Broadcast)

Actually, your Pats have a shot to blow the two seed as well and the Ravens and Bengals can get it. There is a scenario that is fascinating in my mind. It starts like this the Pats lose out, the Dolphins win out, the Colts lose to the Jaguars in Week 17 (may not be for anything, they are basically locked into the 4th seed no matter what so it is entirely possible they rest and lose) and the Bengals win next week against the Vikings. Now this leaves the Pats at 10-6, Dolphins at 10-6, the Bengals at 10-5, and the Ravens at 9-6. The Ravens-Bengals game decides everything. The Bengals win, and they get the two seed. The Ravens are out, and the Patriots get the 6th seed because they lose the tie breaker with the Dolphins. The Ravens win, the Bengals get the 6th seed, Ravens get a bye AND the Patriots are not a playoff team. I think all of these crazy scenarios set up for a great end of season run. It should be one of the best and it all starts with the Ravens huge game against the Patriots next week. I am of the belief that the Ravens are trending upward and playing better than they did at the beginning of the season. The Patriots are starting to revert to beginning of season form without Gronk. He is so important to that offense and I think that it is very different without him. Next week will be an awesome game and it has so much on the line. I think that answers your question about the conference that intrigues me the most.

The NFC isn’t that interesting to me. Basically if the Panthers win next week against the Saints, it comes down to whether or not the 49ers can beat the Seahawks in Seattle in the NFC Championship.

Your thoughts on the races? And the scenario that the Patriots do not get into the playoffs?

Joe to Greg

I think it goes without saying that the AFC is the most wide open and most interesting conference. I don’t see the Patriots losing out even though that could make for an intriguing end to the playoff races. Having both teams, the Pats and Ravens, with playoff implications  makes for a more exciting game so good luck to you this weekend sir.

On the NFC side the Philadelphia-Chicago matchup is interesting to watch considering that both teams are atop their divisions and trying to give themselves an extra cushion going into the last week of the season. Both teams currently sit at 8-6 while another matchup featuring teams looking to finish strong is New Orleans at Carolina. This game features two 10-4 teams competing for the 2nd and 6th seed in the NFC playoffs. As of today, the Saints hold the 2nd seed while the Panthers own the 6th. Another great example of why December games are so great.

In the NBA, the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat faced off twice in a span of eight days. Each team  claimed victories on their home court and each game going down to the final two or three minutes of the game. Two noticeable injuries occurred this week. Kobe Bryant came back from his Achilles injury only to injure his left knee and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. The second was a minor ankle injury to LeBron James, which seems like a thing of the past considering he posted 23 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists. What are your thoughts on the Indiana-Miami series and also the stellar play of Damian Lillard? Also any closing thoughts for the NFL week.

Greg to Joe

NBC made a big mistake flexing the Philadelphia-Chicago matchup to the night. There is a big chance that both of those teams have NOTHING to play for. If the Cowboys lose, the Eagles can clinch the East with a win. However, if the Cowboys win, it doesn’t matte what happens at night, the Eagles have to beat the Cowboys in Week 17 to win the division. I think it was a dumb mistake, and it could be a poor matchup. However, it has so many huge fantasy implications for almost everyone’s fantasy championship. Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and the list goes on. I am gonna have to watch to make sure my team brings home the two titles that they deserve!

 

However, I think that NBC has to repay the Ravens and will give them the night game next week. You’ll see why with my prediction at the bottom.

I think that Indiana is going to have big problems in the playoffs. They have a very short rotation and I think their starters are going to worn out come playoff time. I see Miami winning the East purely for that reason. Indiana’s dependence on their starters, much like Portland in the West. Lilliard is bonkers. His late game shots are unreal, and I think he is only going to get better and that Portland team is for real and will be for awhile. Can’t wait to see your NBA stuff this upcoming week up until Christmas.

Patriots @ Ravens Predictions

Joe

Patriots 24 – Ravens 21

Shane Vereen has a nice bounce back game after the poor showing last week and gets a TD. Stephen Gostkowski hits a late field goal to win it.

Greg

Patriots 17 – Ravens 23

Wikipedia screenshot after Justin Tucker's 61 yard field goal. (Photo Cred: Wikipedia Screenshot)

Wikipedia screenshot after Justin Tucker’s 61 yard field goal. (Photo Cred: Wikipedia Screenshot)

The Patriots defense isn’t as good as the Lions so I think the Ravens will be able to put up two touchdowns. I also think that the Patriots offense is not nearly the same as it was with Gronk. I think Tom Brady and Joe Flacco each have something around 250 yards and 2 touchdowns, but the kickers change the game. Tucker is 3 for 3 and Gostkowski goes 1 for 2.

 Greg Danchik and Joe Meola

Thanksgiving Spar

First, we would like to say Happy Thanksgiving to everyone at home, and we hope you have safe travels and a fun time wherever you end up. Now for sparring…

Greg to Joe

At the beginning of this year, did it even cross your mind that Jadeveon Clowney could be playing on the same defensive line as JJ Watt? Can you imagine how good Clowney could be without the constant double teams? Wade Phillips would probably be able to even get Clowney 1 v. 1 with a running back in the back field. That would be funny…

How could we possibly have predicted that the Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons would be the top competition to the Jaguars for the top draft pick? The Falcons literally have nothing besides Matty Ice, Julio Jones and Roddy White. I don’t think their defense is good. They don’t have a running back they can count on. It’s rough for them. And the same goes for the Texans. Without Brian Cushing at middle linebacker, they are lost. Watt can’t do it all on his own. Arian Foster is beat up, and their offensive line isn’t the same as it was in Foster’s glory days. Matt Schaub, their starter since 2008, might be the worst quarterback on the roster too. That’s the sad thing.

Finally, I was able to see the Ravens dominate a game. Unfortunately, it was against Geno Smith playing in M&T Bank stadium, so it is nothing to be overly impressed with.

Patriots’ game… Crazy… thoughts?

Joe to Greg

I don’t think that thought ever crossed my mind until now. I think that’s scary because the Texans look like a lock for at least the 7th pick. We can speculate about what specific draft pick they get all day but I don’t see them dropping lower than the 5th pick barring some crazy, irrelevant end of the season winning streak. Imagine a healthy Cushing and Clowney… I think that will free up JJ Watt and gives him a chance to become the menace he was during the 2012 season.

I have the pleasure of living with a Falcons fan and one of the points brought up while watching the games on Sunday was how each conference has one team that totally busted. The NFC has the Falcons (2-9) while the AFC has the Texans (2-9). Injuries have plagued both teams so it’s understandable that they’re struggling in certain aspects of the game but it’s still a huge surprise nonetheless. Foster seems like a totally different runner and Matt Schaub…well lets just leave it at that. Unfortunately for the Texans season it’s like you said, just a sad thing.

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady after the Sunday night thriller (Photo Cred: Steven Senne)

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady after the Sunday night thriller (Photo Cred: Steven Senne)

The Brady-Manning bowl wasn’t much of a duel between two great quarterbacks. Not because of the surprising lack of production from Peyton Manning (19/36 for 150 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT with a 28.1 QBR and 70.4 RTG), but for two main reasons, the fumbles and the weather. There aren’t many times you see 11 fumbles in one game, but those fumbles kill drives, kill momentum, and like we saw with the last fumble, kill a team’s chances of winning the game. The wind on the other hand was the reason why Bill Belichick decided to give Peyton Manning the ball first in overtime and have the winds become a “12th defender” if you will. Manning’s numbers took a huge dent because of the stellar performance of Knowshon Moreno who had 37 carries for 224 yards and a score. No quarterback should throw against the Patriots…literally just run every play and you will win. I’m disappointed with the how the game ended because I wanted either Manning or Brady to have an impact on the outcome of the game, especially in overtime. How many times will we ever see Tom Brady and Peyton Manning against each other in overtime? It was great for both teams regardless because they played in a playoff type atmosphere with playoff type conditions, which can only help them prepare for a potential rematch later on. Don’t forget the Superbowl is played in New York in February. Should be interesting…any thoughts on the NFL? Can we please talk about some of the MLB trades? Pretty please?

Greg to Joe

With football, the Super Bowl is in the New York and that is exactly why I have been saying all year the Broncos won’t win it. It is not because Peyton Manning is not mentally able to compete in the cold. It is because he cannot physically compete in the cold. His ball loses juice, and it will never pierce the wind in New York Super Bowl Sunday. Obviously, I am of the belief that there is no way that the New York will have good weather for this game. If its a beautiful day, Manning would have a shot, assuming he gets there of course.

Your reply reminded me to post my thoughts on the Rangers-Tigers trade. I like it for both sides, but I think the Tigers got the better end. The money saved is crucial, and Prince Fielder‘s hitting skills might be deteriorating. I am a little concerned he just isn’t the same hitter. The Peralta signing and Bourjos trade for the Cardinals were EXACTLY what the Cardinals needed. They got a shortstop and a defensive center field with unbelievable speed. They managed to fill these needs without giving up anything! David Freese was going to go anyway, so they could get Kolten Wong in the line up. I can’t wait to watch this team play next year. And just a reminder, people will say the Cardinals overpaid for Peralta, but they are underpaying basically everyone else on that roster. With the loss of Carlos Beltran, they probably bought themselves more wins and are saving 2 million dollars this season. I would be worried about the forth year. He is pretty big for a shortstop. He may not last there. The Red Sox and Orioles haven’t made any huge moves, but the Yankees did. They bring in Brian McCann. They desperately needed a catcher, and McCann should have a career high in home runs next year with the extremely short porch in right. Any thoughts on the baseball deals?

Your a bigger basketball guy than I, what do you think of Derrick Rose going down?

Joe to Greg

Similar to you, I don’t think the Broncos can win with poor conditions, that is if they manage to reach the ultimate game. Regardless I think the weather will be a factor in the game, but we’ll have ample amounts of time to talk about that once we know who is actually in the game.

My impressions on the Rangers-Tigers trade are fairly indifferent. I have this feeling that Fielder has past his peak in terms of hitting. Over a 3 season span (2011-2012-2013), Fielder’s home runs (38-30-25) and RBI production has dropped (120-108-106). What’s even more surprising, out of a possible 810 regular season games over the past 5 seasons, Fielder has only missed ONE game, back in 2010 when he was with Milwaukee. I’ve had him on my fantasy baseball team the past 2 seasons as well so I’m familiar with most of his stats. I noticed a slight drop in overall production this year but he can still prove to be effective for the Rangers. Sometimes a change of scenery makes a big difference. Knowing that Jacoby Ellsbury is leaving this offseason, I’ve got a pretty bold prediction.  I’ve heard rumors that the Red Sox might be interested in acquiring Carlos Beltran, but I’m trying to contain my excitement because I’m pretty sure the whole AL East is interested in him. They acquired another righty in the bullpen, Burke Badenhop, from the Brewers for a minor league hurler. My eyes are focused on Beltran but time will tell.

I’m planning on coming out with a piece for Beyond the Arc soon regarding some of these injuries and recent action, but two quick thoughts about the D-Rose injury…

The Eastern Conference Finals matchup is essentially locked in stone. The Miami Heat versus the Indiana Pacers seems inevitable and it’s because D-Rose went down. The Bulls are an incredibly talented team but they just can’t go against Miami or Indiana without a player of D-Rose’s caliber. I’m picking the Pacers, yes the Pacers, to get the #1 seed in the East. After they lost in Miami in Game 7 last season, the Pacers know how close they were to a finals appearance. I think they’re extremely motivated to get home court advantage. Home court advantage for them is having 4 of 7 games in Indiana against Miami.

The Bulls WILL make a trade… this comes from another NBA-minded friend of mine, but he’s calling for Evan Turner of the Philadelphia Sixers to get traded to the Bulls for some sort of draft pick exchange. I don’t know how far-fetched that idea is but 1) Turner played his college ball at Ohio State and he grew up in Chicago and 2) Turner is still on his rookie deal meaning he is cheaper to obtain than if this situation occurred two years in the future. Going on this assumption, look for the Bulls to deal a combination of Kirk Hinrich, another small bench guy, and a first round pick to get Turner. Either way I’d be extremely surprised if the Bulls didn’t attempt to bolster their roster in some way shape or form.

What are you predictions for the Turkey Day games?

Greg to Joe

I am in totally agreement with Ellsbury. The Sox are a smart organization, and I think they know he won’t be able to provide the same value later in his career. I liken him to Michael Bourn. He is basically Michael Bourn except he hits like 3 more homers a year and has a career average about .020 points higher. Bourn got 4 years for $48 million. Ellsbury is also a Boras client so all things considered, he is going to be asking for a lot of money. An amount that a lot of organizations won’t be willing to pay. I think the Red Sox let him walk, and I think he ends up in Seattle (my bold prediction). It makes a whole lot of sense. The Mariners are trying to become relevant again, so they will probably over pay for someone. There park is also huge, which will play to Ellsbury’s strengths. Ellsbury will not hit double-digit homers again, but in Seattle’s rather large ballpark, he could lead the league in doubles.

I can’t agree with your bold prediction because… I WANT BELTRAN MORE! He makes a lot more sense in Baltimore. The Red Sox already have a full-time DH, and Beltran can’t play the field full time again. Papi isn’t going to play first base unless they are in an NL park. Baltimore doesn’t have a full-time DH, and Beltran would just make a great lineup even better. Now if they could only find some pitching..

I don’t think they Bulls trade is so far fetched, but I think they will be fine this year. Thibodeau is one of the best coaches in the NBA and will find a way to rally the team. Deng and Noah will be able to do a lot for them, and Jimmy Butler is underrated in my opinion. Even if the Bulls make a trade for Evan Turner, they won’t win the title. So I don’t see a point. I do see a situation where they ship Deng away for picks and try to get a ping pong ball. That’s unlikely thought. I think the most likely situation is they stand pat and do nothing.

I agree on the Pacers. They are so good on defense it is unreal. Paul George is a top player in the NBA and is a serious threat to take the MVP from LeBron. It won’t happen, but he’ll make it close.

Thanksgiving day games are close to my heart. The Ravens play in a game that, much like last week, is a must win if they want to make the playoffs. If they take down the Steelers, they will be GREAT position to take down the division. The Ravens get to play at home in the cold (temperatures expected between 30 & 40 degrees), and that is perfect for Flacco. His arm strength gives him an advantage in the cold. The Steelers have Big Ben, but I think the Ravens defense is better. It is so close. It will come down to who hits the long TD pass and that will decide the game. I don’t see a lot of long sustained drives coming this week.

(Photo Cred: James D. Smith/ AP)

(Photo Cred: James D. Smith/ AP)

ATS Picks for Thanksgiving games

Greg

Lions -7 – The Packers are not the same without Aaron Rodgers. Megatron will have a big first half, and the second half will be ALL Reggie Bush running wild.

Raiders +9.5 – 9.5 is a lot of points. The Cowboys are pretty bad in pass defense (31st in yards per game). Matt McGloin has SHOCKED everyone. He sucked at Penn State, but he is hot now and I think he keeps it up. I think the Cowboys could get upset at home if they aren’t careful.

Ravens -3 – I have to believe they make it back to the playoffs so I believe they win at home against an old Steelers team,

Joe

Packers +7 – I’m only picking this under the assumption Matt Flynn is going to look like the Matt Flynn that used to play for the Packers. The Lions were 9 point favorites at home against the Buccaneers last weekend and lost. I think the Lions win, but it’ll be closer than people think…or Megatron will just go off, which is fine because he’s on my fantasy team. I just wanted a lot of points scored.

Cowboys -7.5 – I don’t know why I’m doing this. This is the Cowboys after all but the line dropped a little. If this is at 9.5 I’d probably take the Raiders +9.5 but I don’t have enough confidence in them. I like Romo….(fast forward to Thursday night….why the hell did I pick the Cowboys? Lets just say I regret this pick already)

Ravens -3 – Keep winning those games, Flacco. December 22nd is coming up and I can’t wait (Patriots @ Ravens – Sunday Night Football)

Greg Danchik and Joe Meola

NFL, NBA and MLB: The All-in-One Spar

Greg to Joe

How’s it going mayne? I decided to start the sparring Sunday night because I have no time this week and its gonna be brutal.

draftstreetSo fantasy football has been so up and down for me. Most importantly, I do not know when to start CJ Spiller. When he plays well, he is on my bench. It’s so depressing. Anyway. I am doing well in all of my leagues and will be competing for a playoff spot in every league. BTW, winning Draftstreet with 4 players left and you  have 1.

If I wasn’t watching the Ravens go for two right now, I would be watching the Buccaneers-Seahawks game. Who would have thought that this game would have been tied up BY SEATTLE  with under 2 minutes late? Unbelievable game. Mike James has looked just as good as Doug Martin if not better. Buccaneers were so close to quitting on their coach. Now, they could be taking down one of the “best” teams in the NFC. I put quotations because I think the best teams in the NFC are now the 49ers, Saints, and Packers. The Seahawks’ offense is not good enough to win a championship, unless they pull a Ravens’ title run together and get hot at the right time. Who knows whats going to happen in the playoffs. It is all about who is hot. Final football note, its funny how no one is taking the 9-0 team seriously. Personally, I am with the majority. I don’t think they can do anything in the postseason this year, but we’ll see.

So the MLB season is over. Congrats to the Red Sox, and I hope you had fun at the parade. I am so shocked that they won the whole thing. They would not have sniffed the postseason if this site was up before the beginning of the 2013 MLB season. Unbelievable. Do you have any going away thoughts on the MLB?

Joe to Greg

All I have to say is, Andre. Johnson. Right around the time you sent this e-mail I was looking dead in the water. You still had four players going, three of which were playing in the Colts-Texans game. Until Johnson threw down 45 points. Who knows what’ll happen next with our matchup. Yahoo Fantasy is pretty much a lost cause for me but ESPN I love my team. I think I’m going to end up losing this week but I had Megatron, Frank Gore, and Hakeem Nicks on a bye so you can only do so much.

The parade was awesome. I was front row on one of the gates at the beginning of the parade so it was cool to see everyone go by. They led the parade off with the security officer from the ALCS game, which got the crowd even more pumped up. All in all, a great parade. Back in our Week 4 Spar we made our predictions for the MLB playoffs and my prediction payed off (humble brag). Sox in 6 over the Cards. I can’t say I’m surprised because I think the Sox just had more experience and they had those chemistry guys that every clubhouse needs to make runs in the playoffs. The biggest impact in the series was timely hitting in my opinion. They just seemed to find a way to get runs when they needed them. Congrats to the Sox. Anyways, good bye to the MLB season. Are there any moments during the season that stand out to you or any big plays you’ll always remember?

I agree with your Seattle comment, I don’t think they have the offensive firepower to hang with the Packers or the Saints. Their defense is their trademark but I lack confidence in the way their offense runs. It’s Week 9 and I still don’t know what to make of the Chiefs. Yes their 9-0, but I think I’m with the majority as well on this one. I don’t see a lot of postseason success in their future. Don’t want to get off on a tangent here but I loved how the Patriots played yesterday. Finally with a healthy Amendola and Gronk. Aaron Dobson is becoming more apart of the offense as well. How do you feel about the Ravens state? Any comments leading up the Packers-Bears game tonight (Monday)?

Greg to Joe

Andre Johnson just kept catching passes and it was so frustrating for me. I was so positive that I was going to win that DraftStreet contest and of course I lost. Also, another fun fact. My Yahoo team has scored the most points out of anyone in the league, but I haven’t won any weekly  ten dollars and I am not in first place. One reason why I am considering retiring from fantasy football next year. So much luck is involved that it is very frustrating to watch Tyler sit in first with a less superior team.

The biggest MLB moments for me are the Mariano Rivera All Star game. That was pretty awesome. It was definitely a good game to watch as well, surprisingly. I still can’t get over the slider/changeup Carlos Martinez threw to Shane Victorino in the World Series still puts me into a state of euphoria when I watch it. Oh my is it good. The only defensive plays I can think of are the Jose Iglesias plays he made with the Tigers. He may not be able to hit, but his glove will make him a major leaguer for a long time. You got any offseason predictions? I have a few, but I want to see your take first.

Dobson is finally showing why he was taken in the NFL Draft and Kenbrell Thompkins wasn’t. He is the better of the two receivers, but he is finally showing it. Also, Gronk is a game changer. I think the Patriots are back on track, but can easily be knocked off if Gronk or Amendola get hurt again. With the Ravens… I can see them win between 5-9 wins. 9 wins is possible if something happens in practice this week and they change the o-line blocking scheme. Kelechi Osemele was being talked about as a top 10 guard in the NFL, but his back has hampered him this year and has finally put him out for the season. If the Ravens can take down the Bengals this week, I will feel much better about the season, but I don’t know if that will happen. Also, I question Joe Flacco‘s health. I think he might be hurt because you can tell his arm strength has been zapped for some reason. We’ll see more in the following weeks.

Joe to Greg

As far as my offseason predictions go, I haven’t put much thought into them. I see Jacoby Ellsbury leaving Boston, as sad as it sounds. The Cardinals won the NL Central by 3 games this season (Pittsburgh in 2nd) and I think they’ll win again but by more than 5 games. They’re the reigning NL champs and I don’t see them dropping off, we’ve talked about them multiple times throughout our spars and reviews, but the strong homegrown base and the experience from playing in a World Series will do wonders for this team going forward. I’ll have to think of others for now. How about yourself?

Also, any first impressions on the start of the NBA season?

Greg to Joe

Yeah, I doubt that Ellsbury stays in Boston. I think he ends up in Seattle as they try to turn things around. The Cubs could also be in on him. I want to see the contract that the Yankees give Robinson Cano. It will probably be more than $200 million, but the question is by how much. I also think the Cardinals will finally fix their shortstop problem. I see them doing one of three things. One, they sign Johnny Peralta to shore that up. Two, they trade one of their young pitchers for a shortstop like Jurickson Profar or Elvis Andrus. The Rangers need pitching and they have two shortstops. I would love for a deal with the Orioles like… Lance Lynn for JJ Hardy and Jonathan Schoop/Adrian Marin. That will never happed especially after the Machado injury. The Orioles would have no shortstop for the beginning of the season. These two previous options involve getting ride of David Freese, moving Matt Carpenter back to third base and putting Kolten Wong at second base. The third option is keep Freese, keep Carpenter at second, and put Wong at shortstop. It’s not unreasonable, and the Cardinals’ shortstop situation will be a lot better than it was last year if they do any of these options. My final two big predictions are Shin-Sho Choo is a Met by January, and Masahiro Tanaka is an Angel. The Mets are the perfect fit for Choo. He becomes a veteran leader of a young team. It also puts the Mets in a good spot to contend in the next two years with their dominant young pitching and solid infield. Oh, I also forgot my last prediction. Carlos Beltran is either an Oriole next year, or he returns to his roots and resigns with the Kansas City Royals.

Kyrie Irving and LeBron James (Photo Cred: Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

Kyrie Irving and LeBron James (Photo Cred: Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The NBA season has been interesting. Michael Carter-Williams is playing as good as anyone in the NBA right now and led the Sixers to 3 wins to start the season. That will in no way shape or form continue, but it was quite astonishing. I think the East is shaping up to be a three team race between the Heat, Pacers, and Nets. If the Nets are able to use Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett like the Spurs use Duncan, they will be dominant this year. I also love Enes Kanter. He is big man with a sweet jumper. If Utah wins the lottery next year, they’ll be a semi-contender in 2014-2015. Also, LeBron is still going back to Cleveland. The best situation for him. What do you think of the NBA season so far?

Joe to Greg

Mike Trout sliding into 2nd base (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Mike Trout sliding into 2nd base (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

I like your predictions, especially the Rangers and Cardinals discussions. They really have the perfect holes to fill and it would be stupid not to explore those options. I think Cano gets south of $250 million, which is just out of this world to even think about. It makes me think of what Mike Trout might get offered, not saying it will be a huge number like that but who knows. The NBA has definitely been intriguing so far. Michael Carter-Williams is proving the doubters wrong and starting off a tremendous rookie campaign. The Celtics and Jazz seem to be the early favorites for the best lottery picks. Miami has struggles playing in the first quarters for some reason and the Indiana Pacers are 5-0? Who would’ve thought it. I love Enes Kanter and my equivalent is Jonas Valanciusnas from the Toronto Raptors. He’s been a beast who has averaged 15 points and 9.5 rebounds in his past two games. He’s been dominating down low, grabbing boards and posting a field goal % of 57.14. A great fantasy commodity in deep leagues. More on the NBA season to come. Any quick thoughts on the NFL this week? I’m a fan of the San Francisco-Carolina game and I think the Dallas-New Orleans game is going to be a shootout.

Greg’s Final thought

  1. If I am Mike Trout and the Angels approach me with an extension, I accept nothing less than $300 million over 10 years. I am serious. And quite frankly, it would be a discount for the Angels.
  2. Game of the Week for me is Panthers at the 49ers. I wanna see how Newton and Kaepernick perform against top defenses.

Greg Danchik and Joe Meola

NFL – 5 Things to Watch

With a couple of big previews coming out this week on top of homecoming weekend and writing a scientific journal article and preparing from the 1522 NBA Fantasy Draft, a long email chain for Dojo Sparring wasn’t going to happen this week. Instead, we give you 5 things to remember while watching Week 8 of the NFL.

The Resurgence of the New York Jets

Joe – They beat the New England Patriots this past week on a late OT field goal and a mental mistake on the Pats special teams. Now the Jets sit in second place at (4-3), just one game back of the Pats (5-2). Remember the Patriots and Jets have already played twice this season, so remember this game when the season gets into December and the Jets are still right behind or even in front of the Pats. Next up for the Jets, at Cincinnati (5-2), which has huge implications after the Bengals defeated the Pats in Week 5.

The battle between the AFC and the NFC

Joe – Coming into the NFL season, the majority of fans and analysts were preparing for the NFC to showcase the best teams (49ers, Seahawks, Saints, Falcons, Packers) compared to the AFC (Broncos, Patriots, Texans, Ravens). The NFC team’s combined record is 50-55; compared to the AFC’s 57-52 combined record. We’ve seen good and bad surprises in Kansas City (7-0) and Houston (2-5) in the AFC. Similarly, traditionally strong NFC teams like the Atlanta Falcons (2-4) and the New York Giants (1-6) have surprisingly struggled. Three weeks into the season, the AFC was 12-2 against the NFC. Through seven weeks, they’re now 20-15. The NFC gave the edge to start the season but established a variety of competitive teams. Thanks in large part to the NFC North, with two teams at 4-3 (Detroit/Carolina) and one at 4-2 (Green Bay) and the NFC West, contributing Seattle (6-1) and San Francisco (5-2). Don’t forget about New Orleans and Dallas either. I guess it’s safe to say the NFC is wide open. As for the AFC; Denver, Kansas City, and Indianapolis (moment of silence for Reggie Wayne) are all looking dangerous. Sitting closely behind them are Cincinnati, New England, Baltimore, and the Jets. The AFC boasts better individual records thanks in large part to KC and Denver, but I think what wins this conference is defense. The Chiefs have a nasty defense, Denver’s was exposed against Indy this past week (among other things: a shaky O-Line/pass protection). The Pats’ defense is too injured with the absence of Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, and Aqib Talib. The more and more I think about defense in general, the more I like Baltimore’s D, as weird as it sounds coming from me. They’re currently ranked 15th and 16th in passing and rushing yards allowed per game. I will not be saying that again this season. You’re welcome.

Can Miami contain Gronk?

GronkowskiJones_crop_340x234Greg – The Dolphins have the privilege of going into New England the week after the Pats lost a game because a penalty on a missed field goal in overtime. The Patriots also have Gronk for the second straight game for the first time since Weeks 9 and 10 last year. In Gronk’s first game back, Brady’s trust in (or lack of trust in the rookie receivers) was noticeable as Gronk received 17 targets and all the wide receivers combined go 24 targets. Brady loves Gronk, and what quarterback wouldn’t? He is clearly a top 2 tight end in the league when healthy. You can’t differentiate him from Jimmy Graham; they are 1a and 1b. The big question is how will Miami deal with Gronk? Through 6 games, the Dolphins have giving up 27 receptions for 401 yards and 4 scores to tight ends alone. Those games include the Ravens and Bills, whose passing game (at least this year) does not revolve around the tight ends in any way, shape, or form. Will Dolphins be able to contain Gronk, who will easily get 10 plus targets? I doubt it. Whoever the Dolphins decide to put on Gronk is in for a looooooong day on Sunday.

Is RGIII really on the road to returning to his historic rookie form?

Greg – RGIII has played 6 games this season and has already thrown the ball more than 39 times 4 times. He threw the ball 39 times ONCE last year. Of course, his completion percentage is going to drop! Of course, he is going to throw more interceptions! If he was able to be that efficient throwing the ball as he was his rookie year while throwing the ball as much as Andrew Luck, do you think he would have been drafted behind him? Obviously not. Now, the stats are the stats, but anyone who has watched the Redskins play knows he had been a shell of himself before his bye week in Week 4. He didn’t look good in Week 6 against the Cowboys either, but he finally looked to have regain confidence in his knee by the Bears game. Keep in mind, him regaining confidence could have just been an allusion to us because the Bears defense is not good. It was swiss cheese last week. I think Christian Ponder could shred that defense right now. At this point, it is hard to judge if RGIII is back. This week will be a big test. Can RGIII run away from Von Miller when he is under pressure? Can he scorch the Denver defense much like Andrew Luck did? I don’t know, that’s why it is something to watch for.

Prediction

New York Jets @ Cincinnati Bengals

Joe – 20-13 Bengals

Andy Dalton AKA The Red Rifle (Photo Cred: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Andy Dalton AKA The Red Rifle
(Photo Cred: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

They’ve played extremely well at home, already defeating the Steelers, Patriots, and Packers. Geno Smith played very well against New England in the second half last week but one of the Patriots’ problems is generating pressure, something that the Bengals defensive line didn’t have a problem doing when they played against the Pats in Week 5. Andy Dalton has led the Bengals pass offense to 9th in the league (averaging 262.3 ypg), whereas the Jets pass defense ranks 21st in pass defense (allowing 219 ypg). If Dalton can get the ball out of his hands quickly to avoid the pass rush, a healthy dose of AJ Green and a two tight end set should immensely help the Bengals out.

Greg – Bengals 21-20

Sheldon Richardson and Geno Smith have, arguably, been the best rookies from the 2013 NFL Draft class, but they won’t be enough to bring down the Bengals on Sunday. The Jets’ fearsome defensive line will most likely be a mute point this week against PFF’s First Quarter Offensive Line Ranking’s number 1 offensive line. The Bengals are a dominant offensive line that will limit the Jets’ defensive line like they’ve limited defensive lines this whole season. They have given just over 2 sacks a game and will continue that trend this week. Dalton has time to throw and takes advantage. 2 of Dalton’s 3 TD passes go to AJ Green, and the last one comes late in the 4th quarter. Geno can’t get it done late this time. Bengals win a close one.

Greg Danchik and Joe Meola