January 13, 2009
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (89 points)—The Cavs captured two first place votes and one second place vote to claim the top spot. LeBron James continues to put up MVP quality numbers as this team ascends to the top of the East.
2. Los Angeles Lakers (88 points)—The Lakers captured the other first place vote and two second place votes. Kobe Bryant and the Lakers have gone 9-1 in their last 10 games to improve their record to 30-6 and are the class of the West.
3. Orlando Magic (84 points)—The Magic received all three third place votes. Orlando recently beat the Spurs and have a test against the Los Angeles Lakers coming up on the schedule.
4. Boston Celtics (81 points)—The Celtics received all three fourth place votes. The Toronto Raptors appear to be the perfect solution to cure a slump, as two straight wins over the Raptors get the Celtics back on track.
5. San Antonio Spurs (78 points)—The Spurs captured all three fifth place votes. They have gone 8-2 in their last 10 games but are coming off a tough loss to Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic.
6. Denver Nuggets (74 points)—The Nuggets received to sixth place votes and one seventh place vote. The Chauncey Billups trade has proved to be a good move for the Nuggets, but they will need to play more consistently if they want to have a shot at the title.
7. New Orleans Hornets (72 points)—The Hornets got a sixth, a seventh, and an eight place vote. The Hornets have gone just 6-4 in their last 10 games, but with Chris Paul around they are never far from the top.
8t. Phoenix Suns (67 points)—The Suns were ranked as high as seventh, and as a low as 10th. Shaq is has been playing great basketball as of late.
8t. Detroit Pistons (67 points)—Detroit received two ninth place votes and an eight place vote. The Pistons are all healthy now and have gone 8-2 in their last 10 games.
10t. Portland Trailblazers (60 points)—Brandon Roy has played well, but the rest of the team will need to step up if they want to make noise in the West.
10t. Atlanta Hawks (60 points)—The Al Horford-less Hawks suffered a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers and are just 6-4 in their last 10 games.
12. Utah Jazz (58 points)—Andrei Kirilenko is coming off the bench this season and is posting some of his best number’s of his career. He should get serious Sixth Man Award consideration.
13. Dallas Mavericks (57 points)—The Mavericks will try not to be the dreaded ninth seed out West.
14t. Houston Rockets (49 points)—T-Mac is not having his best year for the Rockets.
14t. Miami Heat (49 points)—Dwayne Wade leads the NBA in scoring, but needs some help from his teammates.
16. New Jersey Nets (46 points)—Devin Harris has propped this team on his back and will carry them into the playoffs.
17. Philadelphia 76ers (42 points)—The Sixers have built up a little four-game win streak after a dismal six-game road trip. Andre Iguodala has finally started playing as well he is capable of.
18. Milwaukee Bucks (40 points)—Michael Redd and the Bucks have played well and look to return to the playoffs this season.
19. Charlotte Bobcats (32 points)—D.J. Augustin has played well in the early going for the Bobcats.
20t. Chicago Bulls (31 points)—Derrick Rose has played extremely well and will battle for the Rookie of the Year award with O.J. Mayo.
20t. Toronto Raptors (31 points)—The Jermaine O’Neal signing did not work out as expected for Canada’s team.
22. Indiana Pacers (30 points)—Danny Granger has emerged as a star for the Pacers. But injuries have hurt them and they have not been able to win many games.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves (22 points)—Will Wolves fans ever forgive management for the Kevin Love-O.J. Mayo trade?
24. Memphis Grizzles (21 points)—O.J. Mayo has been the best rookie so far this season.
25. New York Knicks (18 points)—There are thousands of trade rumors swirling around this team and Stephon Marbury remains with the team. Is David Lee the next one out of town?
26. Golden State Warriors (17 points)—The Warriors miss Baron Davis. A lot.
27. Sacramento Kings (11 points)—Kevin Martin is another player who deserves consideration for Most Improved Player. Rookie Jason Thompson started off strong but has since leveled off.
28. Washington Wizards (10 points)—Reports now say that Agent 0 will miss the remainder of the season.
29. Los Angeles Clippers (8 points)—The Clippers ruined the one thing they had, cap space, by signing Marcus Camby and Baron Davis.
30. Oklahoma City Thunder (3 points)—Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, and Russell Westbrook is a good nucleus for the future. But it hasn’t led for wins right now.
January 12, 2009
Nomar Garciaparra has not yet decided on his future in baseball, but the Philadelphia Phillies are reportedly interested in his services.
Although they have not made an offer to Garciaparra, the Phillies are interested in him as a bench player and will make an offer if Garciaparra is interested.
Phillies’ starting second baseman Chase Utley will begin the season on the DL. Garciaparra could also steal some bats away from third baseman Pedro Feliz, whose hitting leaves something to be desired. The Phillies could be a bit thin in the infield. Nomar would provide depth if Jimmy Rollins were to get injured.
Garciaparra has spent 12 seasons in the majors with the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers. He played in 55 games last season and 43 hits, eight home runs, and 28 RBIs while batting .264.
His career is on the downswing, and he is looking for a place to revive his career. The Phillies made him look foolish in their series against the Dodgers this past playoffs.
Injuries were an issue for him this past season, but if he can stay healthy, he will be a solid addition for the Phillies. He could also provide some good veteran leadership that the Phillies’ lost when they chose to let Pat Burrell walk.
December 22, 2008
by Ryan Callahan… In recent years, the NBA All-Star weekend has just not been fun to watch. That is why I have three additions which will spice things up for this year. Take it or leave it David Stern, but these three will definitely attract viewers and boost ratings.
Basketball needs to return to its roots. Why not a good old game of HORSE?
Players will try the most ridiculous shots, such as half court shots, etc., that it will make it so much more entertaining than the three-point contest.
It will answer the question: Who is the best shooter in the NBA?
The field this year will include Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade, Tony Parker, Delonte West, Steve Nash, and Derrick Rose (just to throw in a rookie). If you say that you wouldn’t watch this, you are lying to yourself.
Another original playground game, the NBA version would be faster and better. The starting point should be the three-point line instead of the foul line.
This years participants: Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, O.J. Mayo, Joe Johnson, Kevin Durant, Brandon Roy, and Sam Cassell (someone needs to be out first).
The marquee event of this year’s NBA All-Star Weekend—the 1-on-1 competition. It should consist of just a few very hyped-up matchups, such as boxing matchups.
Just a few suggestions—LeBron vs. Carmelo, CP3 vs. D-Will, Devin Harris vs. Tony Parker, Paul Pierce vs. Vince Carter.
Rookie Chris Douglas-Roberts claimed before the draft that he has never lost a game of 1-on-1. Other rookies will all get a shot at CDR: O.J. Mayo, Derrick Rose, Rudy Fernandez, D.J. Augustin, anyone.
Imagine the possibilities…
December 11, 2008
by Ryan Callahan… Before the NFL changed its name from the National Football League to the No Fun League, we all had fun watching players celebrate after scoring touchdowns. Of course, there are the legendary Lambeau Leap and Deion Sanders’ High-Step.
But neither of those equal the creativity of some of the one-of-a-kind celebrations we have seen recently. The two keys in a great celebration are creativity and execution.
10. Tiger Woods, Chad Johnson
Chad Johnson grabbed the touchdown pylon and used it as a putter, tapping the football for a birdie.
9. NFL Don’t Fine Me Sign, Chad Johnson
In 2003, the NFL started handing out fines all over to players who did anything more than place the ball in the ref’s hand after scoring a touchdown. In response, Chad Johnson scored a touchdown and pulled a sign out saying, “Please NFL, don’t fine me again. Chad Johnson. PS - Merry Christmas”.
8. Santa Claus, Chad Johnson
After scoring a touchdown, the infamous Chad Johnson pulled out a sack of autographed jerseys and handed them out to fans. Once again, he was fined for the stunt.
7. Babysitter Steve, Steve Smith
Back in 2005, Steve Smith of the Panthers scored a touchdown and pulled out a little towel. He wiped the back of the ball, burped it, and then put it down for a nap.
6. Spike on the Star, Terrell Owens
In a game against Dallas back when TO was with the 49ers, Owens was having a huge game. After both of his touchdowns, he ran to the middle of the field on the Cowboys’ star. The second time he spiked the ball on the star. This resulted in him being leveled by Cowboys’ safety George Teague, a $24,000 fine, and a one-week suspension.
5. Moss Moons the Crowd, Randy Moss
When Randy Moss was still on the Vikings, they were handing the Packers a beatdown in Lambeau. After Moss scored his second touchdown of the game, he pretended to pull down his pants and moon the crowd. After the moon, he used the end zone uprights as toilet paper.
4. Hall of Fame Class of 20??, Chad Johnson
In the first Monday Night Football game of the 2007 season, Chad Johnson scored a touchdown and immediately ran over to put on a jacket. On the back it said “Hall of Fame Class of 20??”.
3. Proposal, Chad Johnson
After reaching the end zone against the Colts in 2005, Chad Johnson ran over to the nearest cheerleader and proposed to her. The cheerleader accepted Johnson’s mock proposal even though he did not even know her name.
2. Autographed Ball, Terrell Owens
Back with the 49ers in 2002, TO scored a touchdown against the Seahawks. Owens pulled out a Sharpie marker he had stashed in his sock and autographed the ball. He then handed it to his agent, who was sitting in the end zone seats. The agent just happened also be the agent of the corner back Owens beat on the play.
1. Phone Home, Joe Horn
After scoring a touchdown against the the New York Giants in 2003, New Orleans Saints’ wide receiver Joe Horn pulled out a cell phone a teammate had stashed underneath the padding on the uprights. Horn called his mom and was fined $30,000 by the NFL.
December 10, 2008
by Ryan Callahan… Every year, some players come into the season with huge expectations. Some of those players meet or exceed the expectations, and some come nowhere close. Here is a list of players who did not live up to the high expectations that people had for them based on their performance last year.
Quarterback - Derek Anderson, Cleveland Browns
A year after leading the Browns to a 9-7 record and just missing the playoffs, the Browns were expected to build off last year with a playoff run this season. Quarterback Derek Anderson was one of the surprises from last season and came into this season with big expectations from the organization.
However, Anderson led the team to a losing record before losing his starting job in week 10 to Brady Quinn. He threw for nine touchdowns and eight interceptions while having just one 300 yard passing game. He is now on injured reserve while Ken Dorsey is behind center for Cleveland.
Running Back – Joseph Addai, Indianapolis Colts
Joseph Addai missed three games this year with an injury, but even when healthy Addai has not looked like a number one back. He has just 514 yards and five touchdowns. He has only averaged 3.6 yards per carry while Dominic Rhodes has started to get more and more carries for the Colts this season.
Wide Receiver – Braylon Edwards, Cleveland Browns
Expected to lead the Browns to the playoffs alongside Derek Anderson this season, Edwards has turned into the king of dropped passes instead. Edwards only has 697 yards and a mere three touchdowns through 13 games. He has only had one good game this season, a 154 yard and a touchdown performance against the usually stout defense New York Football Giants.
Wide Receiver – Chad Ocho Cinco, Cincinnati Bengals
Although much of his horrible performance this season can be blamed on Carson Palmer going down for the season with an injury, Ocho Cinco has had one of the worst years in his NFL career. He has just 428 and four touchdowns on the year.
Wide Receiver – Plaxico Burress, New York Giants
Burress had a season overridden with problems in controversy. He was suspended week five against Seattle because he missed a team meeting. More recently, he accidentally shot himself in the thigh at a club and will face charges for weapon possession. The Giants placed him on the non-football injury list, ending his 2008-2009 season.
Burress did not live up to expectations on the field this year either. He had just 454 yards for four touchdowns. Amani Toomer became more of Eli Manning’s favorite target this season and has more yards and just as many touchdowns as Plax so far this year.
Tight End – Jeremy Shockey, New Orleans Saints
Signed in the offseason from the Giants, Shockey was expected to be a major factor in the Saints’ passing game this season. But that has not been the case. He missed three weeks early in the season with an injury. He has fought with quarterback Drew Brees about him not getting the ball enough, leading Brees to try to force balls to Shockey which have led to interceptions.
Shockey has just 371 yards and 0 touchdowns through week 13. He also has two lost fumbles. He is ranked 17th in receiving yards among tight ends.
Offensive Line Unit – New England Patriots
The Patriots have already allowed 40 sacks this season, which is almost twice as much as their total from last year. That is an average of one sack every ten plays, which is dreadful. They have allowed almost twice as many sacks as they allowed last year. Even Pro-Bowler Matt Light has not played well, allowing 6.5 sacks this season.
The main reason the offensive line looked so well last year is the fact that Tom Brady is surprisingly elusive in the pocket. Plus he has a quick release to go along with the fact that he has one of the best safety valve route runners in the game in Wes Welker. When Brady went down in week one, Matt Cassell stepped in. Inexperienced quarterbacks do not have the quick release and that is why Cassell has been on the ground on plenty occasions this season.
The offensive line woes continue to the lack of the Patriots’ run game. Although the Pats do not have a feature back, carries are shared between Kevin Faulk, Sammy Morris, and Lawrence Maroney. Undrafted rookie BenJarvus Green-Ellis has also filled in due to injuries. None of these backs have more than 500 yards going into week 14.
Team Defense – San Diego Chargers
One of the best defenses last season, the Chargers have been one of the worst scoring defenses in the NFL this year. The injury of Shawn Merriman, who is out for the year, has hurt the linebackers. Corner back Antonio Cromartie has showed that his only value is for jumping routes and intercepting balls, but not as cover corner because he consistently gets beat for long gains.
The Chargers have allowed over 20 points seven times in fourteen games. They had a four week stretch in which they did not force one turnover. They let up 39 points to Denver and 37 points to New Orleans. The Chargers are the team you want to face if you are a quarterback, since they have let up an average of 270 yards a game and almost two touchdowns a game to opposing quarterbacks. Tight ends have good games against the Chargers as well, with opposing tight ends averaging 70 yards receiving and almost one touchdown a game against San Diego.
Kicker – David Akers, Philadelphia Eagles
A few years ago one of the best kickers in the NFL, Akers has appeared to have lost his strong leg. He is zero for three from beyond 50 yards this season. He has been good from closer distances though, and has an 85% field goal percentage. At the end of the first half this week against the Giants, Akers had a field goal blocked and returned for a touch
December 7, 2008
by Ryan Callahan… This season there are three divisions that are contenders for the title of “Worst Division of All Time”. They are the NFC North, NFC West, and the AFC West. These three divisions are a combined 45-90, with most of their wins coming against divisional opponents (all divisions are .500 against themselves).
You may want to blame the winless Lions for this division’s inclusion in these rankings, but this is the only division in football without a team over .500. The division has no clear leader, with two of the teams tied for first.
The Lions are on track to go 0-16, which would without a doubt help this division achieve worst division status. The Lions are last in scoring defense, 31st in total defense, and they have allowed 18 passing touchdowns compared with just 2 interceptions.
The quarterbacks in this division tell half the story: Gus Frerotte, Aaron Rodgers, Kyle Orton, and Daunte Culpepper. This division is probably the best of the three listed, but still terrible.
The Cardinals are probably the best team in any of the three divisions, but even they were destroyed on Thanksgiving by the NFC East cellar dweller Eagles. The Cardinals have pretty much already clinched the division.
Both the 49ers and the Rams have already fired their coaches this season. Once again, quarterbacks tell the tale in the division: Kurt Warner, J.T. O’Sullivan/ Shaun Hill, Marc Bulger/ Trent Green, Matt Hasselbeck/ Seneca Wallace. Injuries have hurt the division as well, with Matt Hasselbeck and Steven Jackson both missing significant time.
This division is only going down as the schedule gets harder. The Cowboys and the Jets each get to play both the 49ers and the Seahawks.
You know that your division is awful when the Oakland Raiders are still very much alive for a playoff spot, sitting only three games back from the Broncos after beating them this past week. The Raiders get the Chiefs this week which will likely get them a game closer. The Chiefs are one of the main contributors to the AFC West’s terrible state, sporting the league’s worst run defense.
As far as quarterbacks are concerned, Jay Cutler and Phillip Rivers are both solid options, but Jamarcus Russell and Tyler Thigpen/ Brodie Croyle/ Damon Huard are not.
Both the Broncos and the Chargers were expected to be contenders this year, but neither have lived up to expectations. Injuries to LaDainian Tomlinson and Shawn Merriman have held back the Chargers on both sides of the ball. Injuries to basically all of the Broncos’ running backs and their horrible defense have led the Broncos to underachieve.
Let’s say that the NFL Playoffs took the best six records regardless of division. If the season ended today, in the NFC, the six teams would be the Giants, Bucs, Panthers, Cowboys, Washington, and Atlanta. None of the teams in the NFC North or NFC West would get in. The NFC East and the NFC South would both get three teams.
In the AFC, the top six are the Titans, Jets, Steelers, Pats, Ravens, Colts, and Miami (in a tiebreaker due to better conference record than Bills and Broncos). Once again, no teams from the AFC West would make the playoffs.
Sometimes called the NFC Beast, the NFC East has long been called the best division in football. Many seasons they capture both wild cards, and if they do not it is usually because the division beats up on each other too much.
The Eagles, currently in last in the division, are 6-2-1 outside of the division. Yet they are 0-3 in the divisional play. The Eagles would make the playoffs if they were in the NFC North, and the Cowboys and Redskins would sit on top in the NFC West.
The Giants by many are considered to be the best team in football and if they win this Sunday they will share the best record in the NFL. Dallas has the second best record in the NFC.
The quarterbacks show the strength of the division: Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Jason Campbell, and Donovan McNabb. All four teams are above .500 and all of them have outscored their opponents.
Every single one of these teams is above .500 and all but Miami have outscored their opponents. Even the Dolphins and the Bills would currently be the division leaders in the AFC West.
There are several reasons for the AFC East’s success this year. Brett Favre’s arrival in New York is one, as well as how well Matt Cassel has played replacing Tom Brady in New England. Miami’s Wildcat Formation has moved them from the worst team in the NFL last year at 1-15 to a wild card hopeful.
Brett Favre and Tom Brady/ Matt Cassel are the notable starting quarterbacks. Chad Pennington and Trent Edwards have also played surprisingly well this season. Although the Patriots have usually made this division very top heavy with the other three teams falling behind; the Jets, Dolphins, and Bills have turned that around this season.
The need for the NFL to realign the divisions has come to the forefront this season. All three of the divisions listed in “The Worst” section are on pace to have a worse out of division record than any other division of all-time.
All three have a winning percentage under .300, which has never happened before. Realigning the divisions would allow only the best teams to make the playoffs, and not a worse team making it because their division is horrible.
The issue is similar to how the Big East is guaranteed a BCS Bowl bid but no team from the Big East deserves one. A better team from the Big 12 or a team such as Utah or Boise State is going to be left out of the BCS Bowls because Cincinnati won the Big East. Cincinnati is ranked 16 in the BCS Standings with a 10-2 record.
Back to the NFL—teams such as Washington and Atlanta should not be left out of the playoffs in the NFC and Miami and Buffalo should not be left out in the AFC in favor of worse teams with worse records.
Move the Cowboys to the NFC West and move the Rams to the NFC East. Switch the Chicago Bears and the Washington Redskins. In the AFC, switch the Dolphins and the Bills for the Raiders and the Chiefs.
NFC East - Giants, Eagles, Bears, Rams
NFC West - Cowboys, Arizona, San Francisco, Seattle
NFC North - Washington, Minnesota, Green Bay, Detroit
AFC West - Miami, Buffalo, Denver, San Diego
AFC East - New York Jets, New England, Oakland, Kansas City