Friday, September 30, 2016

What Sports Networks/News Outlets are the Best?

            I've been doing some compare and contrast with the sports networks and news outlets that many fans have access to. Seeing which strengths and weaknesses each network has, I look at each network on how they do with their coverage of sports news and various sports events. Here's what I think of each of the major sports outlets.

Bleacher Report/Turner Sports/Sports Illustrated: Always well-known for their terrific coverage of the NBA, Turner Sports does a Cracker Jack job of covering March Madness as well. Their MLB coverage leaves a lot to be desired, but at least Bleacher Report gets into actual reporting of all sports along with other entertaining tidbits.
SB Nation: Props to SB Nation for its unique format of local reporting, where each professional team/collegiate team gets an exclusive newsfeed. These regional newsfeeds also come with pretty cool nicknames. They even kept the "Sonics Rising" feed going for all the Supersonics fans still jilted by the team's move to Oklahoma City.
CBS Sports: CBS has done great work with sports radio, which is evident in some of its clear-channel content (i.e. 97.1 the Ticket). I love the CBS Sports Minute, where the on-air personalities give their brief take on popular sports news topics. It also does great work with the NFL, which is its bread and butter, along with college basketball and SEC football coverage. Its reporting is of good quality, where the writers will typically respond to the fans in the comment section and on Twitter.
ESPN: Oh, ESPN. What has happened to you? I remember the days of Linda Kohn, Stuart Scott, and Dan Patrick on Sportscenter and that was the height of your reporting and television (along with actual reporting of sports events). Now, you've been reduced to lapping the Chicago Cubs' secretions through your daily Cubs news stories while showing favoritism towards big-market teams, the SEC or any other big-name college, particular political agendas, and 'trendy' players. You gush over any of these news items the way Roger Ailes cums at the sight of a voluptuous blonde. Yes, you go all-out on your NBA coverage and that's great. You do great with the NBA (and college football). But, you've become the sports version of TMZ. If you want a perfect example, check out this Deadspin article regarding ESPN and Tim Tebow. We get it, Disney [John Skipper]. The Cubs (and the SEC and Tim Tebow) give you a major hard-on.
FOX Sports: FOX Sports has done impressive work with the UFC, shown by their programming of 'UFC on Fox'. Their NFL coverage is also second-to-none along with its MLB coverage, although World Series ratings have gone down. Although FS1 wasn't a commercial hit, the regional FOX sports networks are still a hit. Overall, FOX Sports is a growing sprout that'll eventually become pretty damn big.
NBC Sports: I like Sunday Night Football on NBC and the fact that NBC will offer it streamed on the internet for free for non-users, even if it's only a timed preview. NBC also does good work with the NHL, capitalizing on numerous rivalries within the sport with "Wednesday Night Rivalry", a night where heated NHL rivals are pitted against each other on NBCSN. NBC also focuses on niche sports, which might not draw big ratings, but will spread out the market. Their site is kinda boring, though. There really isn't much to look at on there.
Yahoo! Sports: Not bad with the reporting. They even did a livestream of an NFL game in London that was pretty good. They could stand to upgrade their mobile feed, however.
Deadspin: Their idea of reporting is actually pretty funny. Offbeat stories along with getting in-depth on what's truly going on in sports journalism may sound corny, but it's executed pretty well. Yes, they don't usually report traditional stories. But it's created a good niche for itself and its fans.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

This Week's Picks

            It's time for this week's picks!! It seems that I'm steadily improving, shown by my 5-3 doing last week. Here's hoping I can continue to bank on my improving success with the picks!!

  • Bengals over Dolphins
  • Jaguars over Colts
  • Ravens over Raiders
  • Seahawks over Jets
  • Steelers over Chiefs
  • Vikings over Giants
            Bonus picks include:

  • Stanford over Washington
  • Michigan over Wisconsin
  • Louisville over Clemson

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Week Four College Football Winners and Losers

            Although there hasn't been a big shake-up in the college football landscape compared to previous weeks, this week has been known for one other thing: redemption. Teams whose playoff hopes were hanging by the wayside suddenly discovered newfound hopes for the postseason. Here's who won week four and who lost it.

Winner: Wisconsin: The Badgers came into this week looking a little limp. They barely escaped Georgia State the week before and were facing a daunting schedule ahead. #11 Wisconsin responded by throttling #8 Michigan State by the score of 30-6. The Badgers picked off Tyler O'Conner three times and recovered a fumble for a touchdown, putting up a defensive performance that'll send a message to the committee. Wisconsin could be a serious contender if they do well against Michigan and Ohio State.
Winner: Tennessee: Speaking of redeeming themselves, the Volunteers got a big win themselves. In spite of close calls against Appalachian State and Ohio in previous games, #14 Tennessee rallied from a 21-3 halftime deficit to beat rival Florida 38-28. The win snapped an 11-game losing streak against the #19 Gators and stamped a quality win on Tennessee's resume. Coupled with Georgia's loss to Ole Miss, Tennessee now has a fairly firm grasp on the SEC East.
Winner: Florida State: After getting embarrassed by Louisville the previous week, the Seminoles didn't want to look flat this week. They certainly didn't as they handled South Florida by a score of 55-35. Dalvin Cook had a big running day, rushing for 267 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries. Included in those rushes was a 75-yard run. In fact, all Florida State rushers recorded a touchdown in this game. Jacques Patrick had 124 rushing yards of his own on 20 carries and ran for a touchdown.
Loser: Les Miles: Do Michigan fans remember the days before Harbaugh, when Les Miles was rumored to be in the running for the head coach job at Michigan? Boy, did the Maize and Blue dodge a bullet. Another underwhelming performance in a season of high expectations has cost Les Miles his job at LSU. There will be plenty of schools that will want Miles as their head football coach. However, Miles has led this squad to yet another whimper of a season as the Tigers try and compete in the tough SEC West division.
Loser: Notre Dame: Losing to Duke has Brian Kelly calling open-season on all starting jobs for the Fighting Irish. A 1-3 start has led to Notre Dame canning their defensive coordinator and has raised questions about whether Notre Dame is overrated. Being out of the playoff mix, the Fighting Irish can only hope to salvage a spot in a bowl game.
Loser: Georgia: Kirby Smart's squad looked terrible against Ole Miss, confirming suspicions of underwhelming play. A 45-14 shellacking exposed the Bulldogs as a fraudulent team, leaving Georgia looking up against an upbeat Tennessee squad in the SEC East. Fortunately for Georgia, they didn't completely fall out of the rankings.

Other Winners: Next week's Stanford/Washington match-up, Amba Etta-Tawo, Lamar Jackson (again), Texas A&M
Other Losers: USC (again), LSU for not getting a game-winning touchdown off in time, Florida's 2nd-half performance against Tennessee, Northern Illinois

My Playoff Four:

  1. Alabama
  2. Louisville
  3. Ohio State
  4. Houston

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Big Ticket Item

            Recently, Kevin Garnett announced his retirement from the NBA. His announcement marked the end of a prolific era that featured stars like Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant. Garnett wasn't your typical NBA big man; he wanted his height to be listed as 6'11" mainly because he didn't want to be defined as just being an NBA big (someone who protects the rim and rebounds).
            A 1995 McDonald's All-American from Farragut Career Academy in Chicago, Garnett was a big question mark when he was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves. How would he do in the NBA straight out of high school? The answer was, well, every NBA fan should know this one. Garnett was the NBA MVP in 2004, an NBA champion in 2008 (with the Big 3 of Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in Boston), a 15-time NBA All-Star, the 2003 NBA All-Star Game MVP, a four-time member of the All-NBA First Team, a nine-time member of the All-NBA First Defensive Team, and the 2008 NBA Defensive Player of the Year. That's just scratching the surface regarding Garnett's NBA accomplishments.
            Garnett finished his NBA career with 26,071 points (17.8 ppg), 14,662 rebounds (10 rpg), and 5,445 assists (3.7 apg). He turned the Timberwolves from an NBA laughingstock into a perennial NBA playoff team. Here's a homage to some of Garnett's finest moments throughout his NBA career.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

This Week's Picks

            Here's another edition of the picks!! We went 4-4 last week, which isn't bad. However, we stand to do better. I did a coin flip on some of these picks, so some of these are randomized. Here we go!!

  • Patriots over Texans (Coin-flip); gut feeling says Texans over Patriots
  • Packers over Lions
  • Steelers over Eagles
  • Panthers over Vikings
  • Cardinals over Bills
  • Broncos over Bengals
  • Cowboys over Bears
  • Falcons over Saints

Monday, September 19, 2016

College Football Week Three Winners and Losers

            This week was a big week for the top ranked teams. All top three teams had tough games against ranked opponents. One of them squeaked by, another got embarrassed by their opponent, and the other had little difficulty beating theirs. Here's who won the third week of the college football season.

Winner: North Dakota State: The Bison upset #13 Iowa on a game-winning 37-yard field goal as time expired. King Frazier had 16 carries for 99 yards and a touchdown as the 13-time FCS champions got their sixth straight win against an FBS opponent. The Bison held the defending Big Ten West Champs to 231 total yards while running for 239 team rushing yards. NDSU even got some love in the AP poll, receiving 74 points in the latest poll.
Winner: Lamar Jackson's Heisman Hopes: The star quarterback at Louisville needed a statement game against #2 Florida State to be seriously considered in the Heisman race. Jackson responded in a big way, running for 146 yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries. He also went 13-20 while throwing for 216 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Jackson's play this season has suddenly propelled the Cardinals into playoff talks.
Winner: Clemson: After back-to-back close calls to start the season, Deshaun Watson and #5 Clemson needed to come out strong in their next game (even against an FCS opponent). Clemson responded in a big way, routing South Carolina State by a score of 59-0. Watson only threw three incomplete passes and Ray-Ray McCloud had a couple touchdown catches. Clemson was up 45-0 at halftime, a deficit so big that both sides agreed to shorten the second half to 12 minutes. Another benefit from this game: the Tigers got to rest most of their starters in the second half, giving them a little more time to prep for a Thursday night game at Georgia Tech. FSU's loss to Louisville also opened an opportunity for the Tigers in the ACC.
Loser: The Big 12's Postseason Hopes: The Big 12's dark horse, #11 Texas, lost on a controversial play to California, 50-43. Before that, #14 Oklahoma got wrecked by #3 Ohio State in Norman by a score of 45-24. #21 Baylor won big against Rice, which is nice. However, Baylor's schedule is weak enough that the Bears will need an undefeated run to be strongly considered for a playoff spot. Kind of the same thing for TCU, except the Horned Frogs already have a loss on their record (41-38 to Arkansas last week). As for Oklahoma State? They got screwed on a botched call a week ago. The Big 12's early misfortune and ineptitude have opened the door to a Pac-12 team (Washington or Stanford) or Houston possibly getting into the playoff.
Loser: Wisconsin: It seems like that big first week win at Lambeau over LSU was a mirage. The Badgers barely survived against Georgia State by a score of 23-17. Wisconsin allowed 269 passing yards to the Panthers while gaining 213 passing yards of their own. Now the Badgers' next three games will be against Top-Ten ranked teams with two of those games being on the road.
Loser: Oregon's Two-Point Conversion Attempts Against Nebraska: #22 Oregon did something completely unusual to the game of football: try for the two-point conversion on EVERY touchdown. They outgained Nebraska in total yards (482-428) and didn't turn the ball over unlike the Cornhuskers. The reason for why they lost? Those two-point conversions. The Ducks went 1-5 on two-point conversions in a 35-32 loss at Nebraska. Maybe the Ducks should start recruiting a kicker or actually trying the extra point?

Other Winners: Western Michigan against the state of Illinois, the Michigan State Spartans, Christian McCaffrey, and the Ohio State Buckeyes' young players.
Other Losers: Florida State's dignity, the Georgia Bulldogs, Chad Kelly, and USC/Notre Dame's playoff hopes.

My Playoff Teams:

  1. Alabama
  2. Ohio State
  3. Louisville
  4. Houston

Friday, September 16, 2016

Kitty Time!!!

            Kittens and Friday: They make for a lovely combination. Here are some cat GIFs to brighten your day!!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Let's Do Better With Our Picks!!

            So last week, we didn't do so well with our picks. We went a paltry 3-5 with a couple games that were down to the wire. Anyways, let's hope for more luck this week!!

  • Jets over Bills
  • Steelers over Bengals
  • Patriots over Dolphins
  • Chiefs over Texans
  • Lions over Titans
  • Broncos over Colts
  • Packers over Vikings
  • Bears over Eagles

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What We Learned From Week One in the NFL

            Rejoice!! The NFL is back, meaning that your fall will not be filled with pumpkin spice and boredom! Anyways, there were plenty of fireworks to be lit on the first week. What did we gain from all of this first-week hoopla?

  1. Antonio Brown is the Best Receiver in the NFL, Hands Down: In a highly-touted match-up between one of the better corners in the NFL and one of the best receivers in the game, Antonio Brown made Josh Norman look silly yesterday. Out of 11 targets, Brown had eight receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns. He also got flagged for 'twerking' in the endzone, but Brown still left Norman in the dust for the entire game.
  2. The Patriots' "Next Man Up" Mentality Works: No Tom Brady? No Gronk? No problem! New England edged a Super-Bowl contending team in the Arizona Cardinals 23-21 on Sunday night, proving Bill Belichick's mastery. Jimmy Garoppolo had a solid game, going 24 for 33 while throwing for 264 yards and a touchdown. With the win, New England has a chance to go 4-0 when Brady returns due to a paltry early schedule. 
  3. Indy Needs to Stop the Run Better: The Indianapolis Colts allowed 116 total rushing yards against a Detroit Lions team that hasn't had a great running game since Barry Sanders was in town. The Colts wound up losing that game 39-35. For a team that's trying to rebound from a disappointing season last year, it doesn't seem like anything has changed. 
  4. Will Russell Wilson's Ankle be a Factor Later On? Russell Wilson suffered an ankle sprain in Seattle's 12-10 win against Miami on Sunday. The way that Seattle's offense looked on Sunday, it seems they'll need Wilson as much as possible. Will his ankle pose a problem later in the season or is it just a mild sprain?
  5. Where Was Todd Gurley? In a 28-0 loss to the 49ers, everything that could go wrong went wrong for the Los Angeles Rams. Todd Gurley had a horrible game, running for 47 yards on 17 carries. Case Keenum wasn't that much better, going 17 for 35, throwing for 130 yards and two picks. Games like this are where Todd Gurley needs to be at his peak form. Not only did Gurley hurt a lot of savvy fantasy owners out there, but his team could've used a better performance from him.
  6. The Raiders' Big Gamble: Oakland took a big risk in their game against New Orleans: they went for the two-point conversion instead of the win on their touchdown with little to no time left. The gamble paid off, propelling the Raiders to a 35-34 win in the Big Easy. The Raiders told reporters that the gamble was "all about trust". Plays like that are big reasons why the Oakland Raiders will be an exciting team to watch this season.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

College Football Week Two Winners and Losers

            Yet another week in college football is in the books. That means more teams will have their playoff hopes shattered while others will bolster their resumes with either style points or big wins against crucial opponents. Here's who won Week Two and who faltered.

Winner: Louisville: How do you build on a record-breaking performance by Lamar Jackson and company? You follow it up with another terrific offensive display. #13 Louisville obliterated Syracuse at the Carrier Dome thanks to an jaw-dropping game by Jackson. He threw for over 411 yards and a touchdown, while also running for 199 yards and four touchdowns. Brandon Ratcliff also had a great day, running for 156 yards on ten carries and a touchdown.
Winner: Directional Schools in the State of Michigan: Apparently, it isn't just Michigan State and Michigan that are winning in the Wolverine State. Last week, Western Michigan upset Northwestern on the road. This week, Central Michigan upended #22 Oklahoma State on a Hail Mary/lateral, winning by a score of 30-27. Even Eastern Michigan got in on the winning fun, beating Missouri Valley State by a score of 61-14.
Winner: Bristol Motor Speedway: With over 150,000 people at the game, the attendance isn't the only record that'll be broken. There have been reports of beer sales being huge at this event. The game itself is shaping up to be a great one.
Loser: Georgia: With Tennessee dropping out of the Top Ten, #9 Georgia had a chance to cement their place atop the SEC East's best with a convincing victory over an FCS opponent. The Bulldogs won, but not in impressive fashion. Georgia was lackluster on third down on the afternoon, converting only five out of 13 attempts. The Bulldogs also had a hard time holding onto the football, with fumbles accounting for 2/3 of turnovers.
Loser: Clemson: Facing a scare against a pretty good SEC team on the road is understandable. Facing a scare against a Sun Belt opponent in inexcusable. From Ray-Ray McCloud celebration gaffe on a punt return to Deshaun Watson having another 'meh' game, it seems as if Clemson is unworthy of their #2 ranking. Dabo Swinney is going to have to figure things out before their ACC schedule starts to toughen.
Loser: The Referees in the CMU-Oklahoma State Game: While it's always nice to see a Group of Five school upset a Power Five school (Hello, Houston), it shouldn't have involved an officiating gaffe that pretty much ends a team's playoff hopes. Oklahoma State was called for intentional grounding on fourth down (a loss of down penalty). If a team is called for a penalty that involves a loss of down at the end of the game, that ends the game right there. Instead, it resulted in Central Michigan getting one final play and pulling the upset.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Let's Kick Off the Picks

            Another NFL season, another set of picks. Let's hope that I get started on the right foot with regards to my picks. Anyways, here goes!!

  • Panthers over Broncos
  • Bengals over Jets
  • Seahawks over Dolphins
  • Falcons over Buccaneers
  • Cowboys over Giants
  • Cardinals over Patriots
  • Steelers over Redskins
  • Rams over 49ers

Sunday, September 4, 2016

College Football: Week 1 Winners and Losers

            College football is finally back and in full swing. Your Saturdays will most likely be like your Sundays: spent in a bar or on the couch rooting on your favorite football team(s). Of course, there were some teams (and conferences) that looked extremely good out of the gate. Then, there were some who stumbled. Here's a look at some of the biggest winners and losers of Week One.

Winner: The B1G (Big Ten): With #7 Michigan, #6 Ohio State, and #17 Iowa all winning big, the Big Ten came out swinging. Jim Harbaugh's squad showed no mercy against Hawaii while Urban Meyer's team obliterated Bowling Green, showing just how brutal the Big Ten can be. Another big win for the conference was Wisconsin upsetting #5 LSU at Lambeau Field by a score of 16-14. And even though #12 Michigan State had their problems with Furman, they still managed a double-digit win over the Paladins. Other Big Ten teams winning big include Maryland, Nebraska, Penn State, and Illinois.
Winner: Houston Cougars: Maybe the Cougars are ready for the Big 12 after all. Greg Ward Jr. had a fairly big day, throwing for 321 yards and two touchdowns as #15 Houston upended #3 Oklahoma. Steven Dunbar had an impressive day as well for the Cougars, reeling in seven catches for 125 yards. This win for Houston set off a pretty big chain reaction with regards to the playoff picture, damaging the Sooners' chances for a playoff spot while muddying up the playoff picture.
Winner: Alabama Crimson Tide: Nick Saban's Tide might've looked a little rough after the first quarter against #20 USC. However, it didn't take long for the defending champs to get the ball rolling. The top-ranked team in the nation outscored the Trojans 52-3 after the first quarter, routing USC in Arlington.
Winner: Parity: Wisconsin over LSU. Houston over Oklahoma. Texas A&M over UCLA. These are a few of the plentiful upsets that occurred in Week One. Other impressive upsets include South Alabama over Mississippi State, Eastern Washington over Washington State, Richmond over Virginia, and Western Michigan over Northwestern.
Winner: Southern Mississippi: It took the Golden Eagles a fourth-down conversion to come back from a 25-point deficit (34 unanswered points!) against the Kentucky Wildcats. QB Drew Barker went 15 for 24, throwing for 323 yards, four touchdowns, and just one interception as Southern Mississippi defeated Kentucky 44-35 to earn a convincing road win against an SEC squad.
Loser: Tennessee Volunteers: Tennessee had a chance to prove why they were a top ten team on Thursday night against Appalachian State. Instead, it took the ninth-ranked Volunteers overtime just to beat them. It would've been another big upset for Appalachian State (remember the Michigan Wolverines?). Anyways, expect Tennessee to take a big bump out of the top ten in the next week.
Loser: Pac-12: Yes, #8 Stanford won and #14 Washington won big against Rutgers. However, UCLA went down in overtime against Texas A&M thanks to some questionable passes by Josh Rosen in overtime (and throughout the game). It didn't help that Washington State got upset by an FCS team and USC got lambasted by top-ranked Alabama in Arlington.
Loser: LSU: With the 16-14 loss to Wisconsin, LSU seems to have fallen into familiar territory: Really good, but not good enough to win the SEC West. This has become a trend for Les Miles and crew in recent years as they've had a hard time competing against competitive SEC West rivals such as Alabama and Auburn. This loss at Lambeau Field only makes that tread a lot tougher for the Tigers moving forward.
Loser: Really, Just the SEC sans Alabama: The Tide looked good, but the rest of the conference did not. The aforementioned upsets that both LSU and Mississippi State suffered along with Kentucky's choke job against Southern Mississippi made for a surprising down day for the SEC. Texas A&M pulled off a big win against UCLA and Auburn almost did the same thing against #2 Clemson, though.
Loser: The Big 12's Playoff Chances: Losing to the Houston Cougars at a neutral site not only makes matters hard for Oklahoma, but it makes getting a representative into the playoff for the Big 12 much harder. The Sooners are perhaps the Big 12's best shot at getting a playoff spot and it doesn't help that two of Oklahoma's next three games are against ranked opponents, namely #6 Ohio State and #13 TCU. If only the Big 12 could have Houston in their conference now...

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Case for the Houston Cougars in the Playoff

            I know what you're thinking. How can a team from a non-Power Five conference get into the playoff? Well, it certainly is a possibility with #15 Houston upsetting #3 Oklahoma in Houston. A non-Power Five team partaking in the college football playoff would be a first and an exciting one at that. How often do you get to see some from the American Athletic Conference take on Alabama in playoff semifinal? Now, this is only IF they run the table and go undefeated. A loss would greatly damage their chances of getting in. Anyways, here's a few reasons why Houston could get in if they do run the table.

  1. A Favorable Schedule: Houston's toughest game aside from Oklahoma is a home contest against Louisville on November 17. Houston only has five away games (excluding neutral site games). While Navy, Cincinnati, and Memphis could provide tough tests for the Cougars down the road, those are winnable games. Their other road games consist of contests against Texas State and SMU. Houston benefits from a favorable schedule in that it's a fairly easy schedule, yet it's also a schedule that can greatly benefit them, especially if they're undefeated headed into the conference championship.
  2. The Big 12 and Pac-12 Aren't Exactly Great Conferences: Oklahoma is the best team that the Big 12 has to offer. Baylor and TCU aren't as good as they were a few years ago after losing quality players to the NFL Draft. Plus, Oklahoma State is good, but not outstanding. As for the Pac-12, the best they have to offer is Stanford. While Christian McCaffrey is a Heisman Trophy candidate, there's not much else to the team. Washington will be better once the offense comes in full bloom, but they're not there yet. The point? Houston could get in based on the fact that these two conferences don't produce a champion fit for the playoff. Then and only then will Houston be able to take their place(s). 
  3. The Benefit of Having a Conference Championship: One major advantage that the American Athletic Conference has over the Big 12 is having a conference championship game. If Houston does run the table and the Big 12 doesn't have anybody ahead of Houston, this could spell trouble for the Big 12 this year. Having that extra game to decide the conference champion does help to bolster a resume.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

On the Playlist: Godsmack Edition

            Here's to another edition of "On the Playlist". This is where I show you what's bumping on my playlist. This month will pay a special tribute to the band Godsmack. I won't be featuring their hits on here. Instead, I'll feature some of their more underrated works. Enjoy!!