I know I'm terrible, and I haven't posted in a while. I've been extremely busy finishing up school this semester so I can graduate. Regardless, that hasn't detered me from my passion of sports in the least.
I'll start off with the Patriots today.
I fully expect the Patriots to win pretty easily today. The Cardinals passing offense is obviously well documented, and our secondary sucks, but Boldin is out, and the weather is shitty. The Cardinals have no running game, and this just isn't the type of weather for them to be effective in. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if the Cardinals make a game of it, but I'm not counting on it, there's just too many factors working against them.
I would also not be surprised if this was a game that Cardinals headcoach Ken Wisenhunt tries to rally his troops in an attempt to make a statement game to the rest of the NFL, but don't count on it. The Cardinals have nothing to play for since they have already won their division, and getting players back isn't their main priority right now. Until they find a running game however, they won't be going anywhere in the playoffs.
On the Patriots side of the ball, this is where Sammy Morris, LaMont Jordan and Kevin Faulk step up and have huge, grind em' out, smash mouth football games, along with Wes Welker as usual.
Final score prediction: Patriots 31 - 17
The Patriots need to win this week and next week to even have a shot at making the playoffs. Right now, they are still out of the playoffs, and Baltimore's win last night at Dallas (who played like shit in a game they needed to win), really hurts the Patriots chances. Here is a look at the updated playoff scenarios for the Patriots:
Wild Card (6th seed):
Patriots get the final wild card berth if they win out, and Baltimore loses or ties next week.
AFC East (3rd seed):
Patriots win the AFC East if they win out, and the Jets and Miami both lose or tie a game.
If the Patriots lose a game, they are out of the playoff race.
Onto my week 16 NFL picks. The bolded team was my pick, home team is on the right.
Indianapolis vs. Jacksonville
Baltimore vs. Dallas
Cincinnati vs. Cleveland
San Francisco vs. St. Louis
New Orleans vs. Detroit
Pittsburgh vs. Tennessee
Miami vs. Kansas City
Arizona vs. New England
San Diego vs. Tampa Bay
Houston vs. Oakland
Buffalo vs. Denver
New York Jets vs. Seattle
Atlanta vs. Minnesota
Philadelphia vs. Washington
Carolina vs. New York Giants
Green Bay vs. Chicago
Now onto the Celtics.
Is it a fair to say that so far the loss of James Posey hasn't hurt the Celtics one bit, though I do have a feeling that come playoff time is where that experience from the bench will be missed. Regardless, the Celtics are off to their best start ever. Let's pause and think about that again. The Boston Celtics are off to their best star EVER. They are 25-2 and have won 17 in a row with number 18 most likely coming tonight against the joke of a franchise that is the Knicks, although D'Antoni has made them competative.
The Celtics are better than last year's version in my eyes. Tony Allen has surpassed any expectations I had of him this season, and Eddie House, Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Leon Powe have all also been pretty solid off the bench. The biggest reason the Celtics are a more complete team this year however has been the play of third year point guard Rajon Rondo. Rondo has improved by leaps and bounds over last year. Why teams continue to leave him open is beyond me. The fact he's behind in the all-star voting with people like Luke Ridnour is terrible. Speaking of the All-Star game, Vince Carter is currently ahead of Ray Allen as well, which is hilarious, and also brings me to my next point. Ray Allen has been a much different player this season. Chalk it up to being comfortable in the system he's in now, or that he's fully healthy, but there were plenty of times last year where Ray Ray would get the ball and I'd cringe. his shot selection was bad, and he wasn't the player we all knew from Seattle. However, this year he's come back and he's nailing those deadly 3's we grew accustomed to seeing in Seattle and Milwaukee. Combined all that with the usual solid play of KG and Kendrick Perkins, who is quietly having a very nice season so far, and you can now see why the Celtics are just flat out better than everyone else. Yes the Cavaliers are good, as are the Lakers, but barring major injuries, I would still pick the Celtics in a 7-game series any day.
The thing that I really admire about the Celtics however is Paul Pierce. I've said it before but, Paul Pierce is by far one of the best players in the league, and last year proved it. He brings a warriors attitude to this team, and he really does leave it out on the court. he might not wear his heart on his sleeve like Garnett does, but you always know Paul is going to show up to play. Say what you want about his numbers, but when he needs to turn it on he does. He's become a more rounded player with the additions of KG and Allen, and it's really showed.
I think the Celtics most solid win of the season came the other night in Atlanta. This was a game that a lot of people expected the Celtics to lose. The Hawks were treating this game as if it was the world championship, even going as far as posting highlights of the Hawks series with the Celtics in the playoffs last year. They Hawks were desperately trying to turn this into a rivalry (it's not in any way, shape, or form by the way), so you knew they would come out with intensity on their home court.
What happened? The Hawks couldn't close the game. They allowed the Celtics to take the lead late in the 4th quarter, when they had been leading since the 1st quarter. The Celtics take the lead, and on the ensuing posession Joe Johnson is fouled and misses the game tying free throw.
I now missed free throws happen, but if that weer the Celtics in that situation, would you really expect Ray Allen, or Paul Pierce to miss that free throw? No you wouldn't. Before he even shot I had a feeling he would miss the second one.
I know it's weird to use that as an example of a good team, but the truth is, you make free throws if you are a good team. The Hawks are good, but they simply cannot compete on the same level as the Celtics this year. I know the Celtics have only beat them by a total of 4 points in two games this year, but they were outplayed in both games and still won, because the Hawks cannot close.
Should we start comparing the Celtics to the '95-96 Bulls, and wondering if the Celtics will break their record for most wins in a season? While I certainly think it's possible, and would not be surprised if they did manage to tie or break the record, the comparisons need to stop. It's too early in the season to start discussing that. That's like wondering if an NFL team will go undefeated when they are 6-0.
Finally onto the Boston Bruins.
The Bruins continue to play solid, winning hockey. They have won 13 in a row at home, and have only failed to get at least one point twice in their passed 20 games (17-2-1). They have gotten contributions from all 4 lines, and even though their defense has gotten hit with the injury bug, the kids they've called up from the AHL have stepped in nicely and played well. Everybody has been praising the San Jose Sharks about their record setting start, and rightfully so. But what these people have failed to realize is that the Bruins are right behind them in terms of points. If the Bruins win tonight, they will have 52 points to the Sharks 55, with an equal amount of games played.
The biggest reason the Bruins have turned the corner this season has been the solid all around play of the team, but a few individuals in particular stand out to me. Phil Kessel for one has really put it together this season. He's on a 17-game scoring streak and has scored 21 goals, and added 14 assists to boot. He's on pace for a 50-60 goal season and 90-100 points. Not only has he found his scoring touch, but he's matured and is playing a two-way game finally. Coach Claude Julien benched him for three games in the first round of the playoffs last year, and it seems he got his point across.
Next up is David Krejci. After a pretty good rookie season last year, Krejci has really found his scoring touch on the second line with Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler. He's been the biggest surprise so far on the season for the Bruins, and is on pace for 85-90 points. If you said you expected that from him this season, you'd be lying.
The goal tending has been the single biggest reason the Bruins are where they are right now however. Tim Thomas and a rejuvinated Manny Fernandez have played outstanding hockey, and there isn't another goalie tandem in the league on their level. You feel confident about your chances of winning the game no matter who starts in net for that game.
It's a shame Bergeron got hurt again. Although his numbers this season weren't anything stellar or near what they used to be, he was still playing solid hockey and the fact that Patrice Bergeron was your 3rd line center really shows the depth of this team, and organization as a whole. Hopefully it's not another concussion, because that could quickly derail his career.
Speaking of injuries, if Bergeron manages to return this year, the Bruins will be in a very nice position come the trading deadline. The Bruins currently have Andrew Ferrance, Aaron Ward, Marco Sturm and Patrice Bergeron all out of the lineup. If those players can return, that's a better move for the Bruins to make than any trade this season in my eyes.
I fully expect the Bruins to continue this stretch of good play throughout the season and into the playoffs. They are the team to beat in the Eastern Conference at the moment, and I would not be surprised if they won the Stanley Cup this year. One can only hope, as it is the last part of the sports domination Boston need this decade.
I'll write about the Red Sox, and Mark Teixeria later on in the week, regardless if we've signed him already or not.
Until then, take care and have a safe and happy holiday season.