First Round Action

The 2018 NFL draft started yesterday evening.  A few years ago the NFL was smart enough to put the first round in Primetime during the week.  The remaining 6 rounds will be held on Friday and Saturday.  As always, the draft was full of excitement. It did not disappoint a very highly watched event. Another great thing about the draft is being covered by three different networks.  If you are not a fan of a network, you certainly have your choice.  How did the draft play out last night?  How many QB’s went in the first round?  Were there any trades that changed the landscape of the draft?  How many other stories emerged? Are there any big time prospects remaining for the second round?

It seems that every year quarterbacks rule the draft.  This year was no different.  There were certain publications that thought 4 could go in the top 6-7 picks and certainly 4 could go in the first round.  There ended up being 5 taken in the first round and 4 in the top 10.  The day before the draft news leaked that Josh Allen has made some poor choices on his social media accounts.  That news did not seem to bother his status as he was drafted 7th overall.  Another QB, Josh Rosen, is unhappy that he fell to the tenth pick.  He will do his best to show the other 9 teams that they were wrong about him.

The Cleveland Browns selected Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick.  This was somewhat surprising because his measurables may not have been the same as some of the other QB’s.  The Browns must have really loved him during the interview process to take him over the other guys.  Once he went, the Giants selected the ultra talented RB from Penn St, Barkley.  The Jets were lucky to have the Sam Darnold fall in there lap at three. The last QB to be drafted was Lamar Jackson. The Ravens traded for the pick to get Jackson, so clearly they love what they see in him.

I do not think there were a ton of surprises in the first round, at least no more than any other draft.  The Bills did make two trades along the way to get into the territory to grab Josh Allen. They must have really wanted him and felt that his social media errors are just a poor choice and not all that reflective of him as a person.  Being drafted in the first round is quite an accomplishment.  Can you imagine being a parent and having two sons drafted in the first round of the same draft?  Now that is quite the accomplishment!  Another great moment during the draft was watching Ryan Shazier walk out to make the selection for the Steelers.  He was involved in a scary collision during the past season that left him temporarily unable to move his legs.  It had to be emotional for his family and friends to see that moment.  Based on this list, there should still be plenty of impact players left in the draft.  There will also be some diamonds in the rough.  It is just a matter of which team finds them!

As always the NFL draft delivered.  I think it is so popular because fans can see the future of their favorite teams.  The decisions made now will effect teams for many years down the road, so the draft is a very important tool for NFL teams.  The QB’s ruled the draft and they most likely always will unless the game changes over time.  The best part of the draft is seeing the players get drafted and realizing their dreams.  They put in a ton of effort to go along with great ability and now they have a shot at playing in the NFL.  That is a great lesson for people, if you put in the work, good things will happen for you.

—Victor Mandalawi

 

 

 

 

NFL News

The NFL always seems to be in the forefront.  However, being in the news this week and next will almost certainly be true.  Only the NFL is able to make a schedule release into an event.  The league wide schedule was released last night and it was news worthy.  Teams do not even have their teams set for next year, yet somehow fans and experts somehow have already made predictions on next year’s record.  I would think they should hold off a little, at least wait until after the draft next week.  The draft starts next Thursday and will take place Friday and Saturday as well.  The draft is exciting because it gives fans a chance to see the building blocks of the team they root for.  Let’s take a look at the schedule and how the first round of the draft is shaping up.

Here is a look at the schedule for the 2018 season.  The season should start with a bang as the defending Super Bowl Champs will be on Thursday Night Football to kick off the season.  The Sunday night game will be an old time rivalry game with the Bears and Packers.  One of the Monday night games will have plenty of West Coast meaning with the Raiders vs. Rams.  Here is an article that covers winner and losers of the schedule.  The article is not just talking about teams being winners and losers, but also networks and fans.

As mentioned before, it is really difficult to predict a win total for the teams because the teams are not even set.  That being said, someone has to do it and here is a nice article that offers up a little analysis and prediction for your favorite team.  I really do not see any predictions that would “rock the boat” which makes sense for the reasons I have already mentioned.  I would like to think that these predictions could all change in a little over one week when the draft is complete.

The first round of the draft will take place in a little over 6 days.  The draft is always big news and rightfully so.  If a team is successful with their picks it can change the future of the franchise.  On the other hand, if your team misses on their draft picks it can really set a franchise back.  My favorite thing to see is when fans boo the selection their respective teams.  Like the fan knows better than the scouts and GM’s!  The first round is shaping up to be all about the quarterback.  I have seen some predictions that 4 qb’s could be selected in the first 6 picks.  Look for Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen to be taken 1 and 2.  It would not be surprising if something else happened since these NFL teams keep their intentions very quiet.

The NFL is great at making news and staying in the forefront year round.  They have been able to turn the schedule release, draft, and countless other items into noteworthy coverage.  No other sports have the same reaction to a schedule release.  The NFL draft is also the most popular draft for fans to follow.  There always seems to be great story lines to follow and this year is no different. The story of Shaq Griffin is outstanding and it should offer hope to anyone that suffers from a disability.  I will be watching the draft and hopefully I am not one of the knuckleheads that is booing my team!

–Victor Mandalawi

 

NBA Playoffs are Finally Here!

The NBA Playoffs will begin this Saturday with a quadruple header and then follow-up on Sunday with another quadruple header. That is a great way to start the playoffs!  I am not a huge NBA guy during the regular season, but I think the playoffs are a much better product and I love to watch the action.  As the playoffs move along the match-ups get better and the quality of play really increases. Let’s take a look at the 2 conferences to see who could meet up in the Finals.  Is it possible the Warriors and Cavs meet up for a fourth consecutive season?  Would that be good for the NBA?

The Eastern conference has the following first round match-ups: Raptors vs. Wizards, Celtics vs. Bucks, 76ers vs. Heat, and the Cavs vs. Pacers.  If you were to ask about these match-ups a month ago things might have been different.  The Cavs have made some moves and seem to be a better team now.  The Celtics have had numerous injury issues and the biggest is losing their star player, Kyrie Irving.  The 76ers seemed to be a promising young team that was average at best, but they have won 16 games in a row and will be riding a huge wave of confidence into the playoffs.  The Raptors have quietly went about their business this season to snag the top seed.  The Wizards seem to have a ton of talent, but can’t ever seem to get it all together on the same page.  Here is a really nice primer for the first round match-ups.  I am not an expert but I am in agreement with the article on the first round winners.  The second round would then pit the Cavs vs. Raptors and the Celtics vs. Sixers.  I think that will be the end of the line for the banged up Celtics and I do not think the Raptors have enough to knock off LeBron.  I do not think the Cavs are anywhere near as good as they have been in the past few seasons, but until Lebron is beaten in the Eastern Conference I will not go against him, meaning that the young Sixers will have to wait their turn.

The Western Conference is not nearly as clear as the Eastern is.  Here is another great primer covering the match-ups. Houston plays the Timberwolves and should win the series easily, but the Timberwolves have real talent.  The Warriors will be playing the Spurs which sounds like a great matchup but Curry will be out for the Warriors and Leonard has basically missed the whole season for the Spurs.  They are just not the same team without him.  The Blazers will be playing the Pelicans and the Jazz are playing the Thunder.  These two series are absolute wildcards as I think any team could win.  Ultimately, we should end up with the Warriors playing the Rockets for the the right to advance to the Finals.  The Warriors do not seem as invincible this year and they will not have home court advantage this year.  That could be enough for the Rockets, but again, I can not pick against the Warriors until they lose.

Here are some expert predictions for the first round and beyond.  I am not sure who will win it all, although, I think there are only 3 teams that can get it done.  If a team other than the Warriors, Rockets, and Cavs win it would be an absolute shock to me and probably most everyone else.  I do know that the excitement is building and the next 2 months will be great as the teams advance through the rounds to end up in the Finals.  I know I will be following!

–Victor Mandalawi

 

 

The Quest for 28!

What is the quest for 28?  That would be what the Yankees are looking to accomplish this season by winning the World Series.  If they were to accomplish the feat it would be their record 28th World Series title.  There are 29 other teams in their way though.  How many of those teams can actually compete for a title?  Let’s take a look at who the experts think are contenders to win it all.  I also want to take a deeper look at the Yankees. Why are the expectations so much greater this year?  They added one real impact player, is that enough to get them to the top?

I want to start with the expert predictions.  You can find some expert predictions here, here, and here. Basically, most experts are predicting the exact same teams to make the playoffs that did last year.  The Houston Astros are the defending Champs and they look as strong as ever.  The American League also has the Indians, Twins, and Red Sox.  All of these teams are very good and you can expect one other team to have a breakout season that the experts did not see coming.  The Yankees will have a plenty of competition just to get out of the American League. The National League will have very similar contenders as well with the Cubs, Dodgers, and Nationals.

To be completely honest, I am not sure why the hype for the Yankees has been so great.  They added one fantastic power hitter in Giancarlo Stanton. Even if he matches his numbers from last year, is that enough to get the Yankees number 28?  The Yankees have an awesome stretch in their lineup with Stanton, Judge, and Sanchez but are they strong in other areas?  Gregorius and Gardner are very good players as well.  After that, there are quite a few question marks in my opinion.  The Yankees have a few injuries that are hurting them now.  Losing Bird could end up being a big blow.  When all players are healthy they should have decent depth in their lineup.

I am a little worried about their starting pitching.  It looks like Severino could end up being an ace, but he is not necessarily a proven commodity.  I am not sure Tanaka will ever turn into the ace that he was thought to be.  Sabathia is a warrior, but he is very old and his best days are long gone.  Sonny Gray is a wild card in my opinion.  He can be dominant at times and average during other stretches.  We need him to stay healthy.  The bullpen has the makings of being flat out scary good.  There are 3-4 guys that could be closers on other teams.  Chapman, Betances, Robertson, and Kahnle are all studs.

I think the Yankees have a very nice team and should make the playoffs, but I am not sure they have enough to get past the Indians and Astros.  That would only then earn them a spot in the World Series against the Cubs or Dodgers.  Those teams appear to be loaded and what may end up being the most important thing is their pitching seems to be better than the Yankees.  However, postseason baseball has changed.  Teams that have dominant bullpens can really shorten games in the playoffs.  The starters might not have to be the best in the game to get them through.  Hopefully the new manager, Aaron Boone, can get them to the playoffs with plenty of gas left in the tank.  If so, anything can happen once you get in.  I know I will be watching!

–Victor Mandalawi