In the Home Stretch!

At the beginning of the NFL season I wrote an article about the upcoming season and it can be found here. As you can see by some of my predictions that the season has to be played and not just predicted. Let’s take a look at some of the teams fighting for playoff contention. I also wanted to examine some of the breakout players and players competing in the MVP race.

In the NFC East the division will come down to the last week. The Cowboys lead the division, but the Eagles are right behind them. It is unlikely that either team will have a shot at the Wildcard this year. In the NFC North the Vikings and Packers are at the top and even the team the does not win the division will have a decent shot at a Wildcard position. The Bears are 6-6 and would have to win out to have a shot and it would still be unlikely. The NFC South has already been won by the Saints. Every other team in the division currently has a losing record. The NFC West has two powerhouses with the Seahawks and 49ers. One of those teams will win the division and the other will most likely take the wildcard. The Rams lag 3 games behind the Seahawks for a playoff position. So much for my prediction of Bears vs. Rams for the NFC title game!

There is no surprise that the Patriots lead the AFC East, but it is somewhat surprising that the Bills are currently 9-3 and playing very good football. The AFC North is being led by the Ravens with the Steelers and Browns playing mediocre football. The AFC South is another mediocre division currently being led by Houston but it would not surprise me to see the Colts or the Titans sneak in and take the division. In the AFC West, the Chiefs are currently holding a one game lead over the Raiders. I predicted the Patriots playing the Chiefs in the title game and that mat happen, however, the Ravens are playing very good football right now and will be hard to beat. Here is a nice article explaining the playoff scenarios and how each team stacks up.

The NFL MVP race and breakout players can be discussed in the same paragraph because the main one is in both categories! You might have predicted Lamar Jackson breaking out and having a nice year, but would you have said he would be dominating the competition? Lamar has accomplished some great feats already this year and he was even given a great honor on Madden football! Lamar is leading the race over players like Russell Wilson, McCaffrey, and Michael Thomas. When the season is over we will see some numbers from these players that we may not have seen before. Thomas could have the most receptions of all-time and McCaffrey could end up with 2,500 all purpose yards! Here is a great article highlighting the MVP race.

Every year predictions are made and some are correct and some are way off. This year is no different as a few teams have faded like the Bears and Rams, while a few teams have surprised like the Bills and Packers. There is still a quarter of the season to play so we could still have a shakeup in the standings. All it takes is a major injury and teams can fall apart. I also think the MVP race has time to change, but it is a two horse race between Lamar and Russell Wilson. I know that the next month will be fun to watch as the season finishes up and the playoffs get set!

—Victor Mandalawi

The 2019-2020 NBA Season has started!

Every year around Halloween I start to get NBA fever. It does not make make sense because the season has already started. You would think I would have gotten excited during the preseason, but I think it is because baseball has ended and the excitement of football starting is beginning to wear off. I have only missed a handful of games, so I can pay attention to the remaining 75 plus games. How will this season play out? I wanted to take a look at all of the player movement that happened over the off-season. I also want to point out the favorites for the playoffs and ultimately the favorites to win it all.

If you like turnover on your favorite teams roster, the NBA should be your favorite league. Every year, especially lately, teams revamp their rosters and some of them can change their fortunes dramatically with just a couple of moves. Sometimes, just a draft can alter the course of your future but very rarely can it turn you into a contender the very next year by itself. Usually, free agency along with a draft is what it takes or sometimes just free agency. What players and teams created the biggest buzz this off-season? The Celtics lost Al Horford and Kyrie Irving, but reloaded with Kemba Walker and a solid draft. This may end up being addition by subtraction? The Nets added Kyrie, Durant, and Deandre Jordan but wont contend until Durant comes back next season after his achilles injury. The Warriors added Russell and some role players, but they lost Durant, Cousins, Livingston, Iguodala, and a few role players. That was a huge roster turnover for the Warriors. Houston basically swapped Chris Paul for Westbrook while both Los Angeles teams made huge changes. The Clippers were able to sign Kawhi Leonard and trade for Paul George while losing only role players. The Lakers were able to add Anthony Davis and Cousins, who later was injured for the year and plenty of role players. They had to give up on alot of young talent and draft picks to get Davis. However, this is the type of deal that will keep the Lakers relevant for years to come.

According to the annual GM survey, the Clipper, Bucks, and Lakers are the favorites to win it all. The GM’s think the Sixers and Celtics will push the Bucks in the Eastern Conference. Denver, Utah, and Houston will give the Clippers and Lakers a push in the Western Conference. Did you notice the Warriors were not mentioned? They lost so much talent as well as losing an injured Klay Thompson for the year and now they will be losing Steph Curry with a broken hand that it will be too much to overcome. They might not even and probably won’t make the playoffs this year! Many of the same faces will contend for MVP like Giannis, Harden, Anthony Davis, and LeBron.

The NBA is great for many reasons, some are mentioned above. However, it is hard for teams to compete unless they have elite talent. Since that is the case, it is fairly easy to make predictions about contenders and pretenders. If you find yourself longing for the old days of the NBA, check out this great article. My favorite was seeing backboards getting demolished. As a kid, it was a pretty awesome site! No matter how the season plays out, it will be entertaining for numerous reasons and I know I will be watching!

—Victor Mandalawi