Shane Carden, QB, East Carolina
Carden will be the best signal caller in the American Athletic Conference, a league that produced the first quarterback taken in last year’s NFL draft. He is coming off of a phenomenal junior season in which he threw for 4,139 yards, 33 TDs and only 10 INTs. Expect him to make a splash in weeks two and three when he takes on South Carolina and Virginia Tech on ESPN2 and ABC respectively.
Rakeem Cato, QB, Marshall
Cato has already thrown for 10,176 yards and 91 TDs in his career and the senior will continue to put up gaudy numbers in Conference USA, one of the worst conferences in the FBS. Not only is the conference schedule soft the out of conference schedule is laughable featuring Miami (OH), Rhode Island, and what will be their toughest game of the year a mediocre Ohio team.
Travis Greene, RB, Bowling Green
After a freshman season in which Greene only had one carry he exploded onto the scene last season totaling 1594 yards and 11 TDs. The MAC plays a lot of weekday games which air on ESPN so look out for him on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Josh Harper, WR, Fresno State
With the Bulldogs’ primary option last year, Devante Adams, going to the Packers in the second round Harper becomes the man. Even as the second receiver Harper racked up 1011 yards and 13 touchdowns. Last year’s star quarterback David Carr is also gone but Fresno State plans to run the ball a lot more this year, which will prevent teams from solely focusing on him.
Qushaun Lee, LB, Arkansas State
Lee is undersized at 5’11” 225 lbs. but despite his stature he was still voted one of the hardest hitters in all of college football by College Football 24/7. He’ll get a chance to prove himself against some of the big boys this year in early games at Tennessee and Miami.
Anthony Gaffney, CB Princeton
Heading into his junior year Gaffney is already a two-time All-Ivy League selection. Gaffney’s has the new prototypical cornerback body type, 6’3” 200lbs, and has the athleticism to return kicks.
Kevin Byard, SS, Middle Tennessee State
As a sophomore he was selected to Conference USA’s first team and comes back this year as a candidate for C-USA defensive player of the year. He already holds the school record for interception return yards (304) and interception touchdowns (5) and had 5 and 4 interceptions the last two seasons.
The 49ers Will Not Make The Playoffs
Harbaugh is entering his fourth season in San Francisco, which is right around when teams get sick of his shtick. There were already rumors that the front office was looking into trading him during the off-season. Aldon Smith might miss up to half the season in suspensions, and Navarro Bowman will miss at least six games after tearing his ACL last season. To make things worse they are stuck in the toughest division in football.
Jordan Matthews Will Win Rookie of the Year
All six of the teams that took wide outs ahead of him will be shaking their heads at the end of the season. Not only does he have the skill to win ROY honors he’s also in the perfect offense to thrive and he does not have much competition on the depth chart.
15 Quarterbacks Will Throw Over 4,000 Yards
Passing is becoming more and more prevalent in the NFL and the rules continue to protect the quarterbacks and favor the wide receivers over the defensive backs. The changes are a recipe for an offensive explosion. Last season nine quarterbacks eclipsed the 4,000 yard mark: P.Manning, Brees, Stafford, Ryan, Rivers, Brady, Dalton, Palmer, Roethlisberger, Tannehill, Romo, Luck, Foles, E. Manning and Cutler will all do the same.
Adrian Peterson Won’t Rush for Over 1,000 Yards
Last season Peterson rushed for career low 1,266 yards. The offense under Norv Turner will be much more focused on the passing game. Don’t think Turner will be scared to pass because of the quarterback situation; last season at Cleveland Turner’s offense threw the ball more times than any other team in the NFL and was 30th in rushing attempts. While the ratio will not be as skewed towards the pass this season, expect Peterson to see a drop off in workload, especially at age 29.
The Jaguars Will Win The Same Amount of Games As The Panthers
The Jags and the Panthers came into the league at the same time so they will always be compared to each other. Last year the Panthers were 12-4 and Jacksonville was the inverse. However the Jags showed some signs of life after their abysmal 0-8 start by going 4-4 in their last 8 games. They also will have the 4th easiest schedule in the NFL based on their opponents’ records from last season. The Panthers have let almost their whole receiving corps leave and didn’t do much to replace them. They also lost starting CB Captian Munnerlyn and both of their starting safeties including Mike Mitchell. Running back DeAngelo Williams is now 31 and his running mate Jonathan Stewart has trouble staying healthy. Expect both of these teams to have 7 wins.
Joe Flacco will be This Year’s Matt Schaub
Flacco signed a six year $120.6 million deal last season, which deflated the talent around him and led to him having his worst season ever. Baltimore struggled as a team as well going 8-8 and missing the playoffs. They will be even worse this year. The Ravens start the season playing all three divisional rivals and then Carolina and Indianapolis. When Flacco struggles through those first five games expect fans to be calling for him to be pulled.
The World Cup saw record television numbers this season. Now that the European leagues are available to the United States market on secondary sports networks such as NBCSports and Fox Sports 1 Americans are going to start tuning in. The trouble is, who should a new American soccer fan root for if they have no ties to Europe? Here are some suggestions:
Orange County and San Diego have always been looked at as LA’s little brother just like Man City and Man U. However Man City is generating a larger fan base now that they have found some success winning the Premier League in two of the last three seasons.
Both cities’ climates are classified as “humid subtropical.” The Braves in the 90s won the NL pennant five times but could only find a way to pick up one World Series title. Inter won Sere A five times in the 2000s but could only get one Champions League title.
They share the same owner as the Red Sox which makes this pairing easy. Like Boston’s sports teams Liverpool has a deep tradition and an old stadium; they have played in the iconic Anfield stadium since 1884. Anfield is a smaller stadium putting the fans right on top of the players creating a Boston-esque trash talking type atmosphere.
Real Madrid generates more revenue than any other sports team and in the world and they pay the third highest total player salaries. Like Michael Jordan’s 90s Bulls, they are more than just a money machine they are champions. Real Madrid has won the La Liga thirty two times and champions league ten times. Both feats are the most of any other club. Like MJ, they don’t just have a face of the franchise, but one of the faces of the sport, Christiano Ronaldo.
Milan is owned by media mogul and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. If you ask Jerry Jones or Mark Cuban they’ll probably tell you they’re media moguls and have just as much power as the mayor of Dallas. Additionally while Jones and Cuban like winning both are concerned about making their faculties as high end as possible and Milan is the high end design and fashion center of the world.
Paris St. Germain– PSG made a giant push to get Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2012 just like the Broncos and Peyton Manning in that same year. Ibrahimovic is aging so PSG has made efforts to bring in new expensive talent just like the Broncos with Manning.
Located in Turin, Italy the home of the sixth largest car manufacturer in the world, Fiat. In baseball a team can only go as far as their pitching can take them, in soccer the same is true about a goalie. Up until this year the Tiger’s pitching staff has been one of the best in baseball and Juventus has one of the best keepers in the world Gianluigi Buffon.
Both are major tourist cities with great weather. They also both have a buzzing nightlife and very lenient tax laws which attract wealthy residents.
LA is the center of popularity and Barca is the most mentioned team in social media. Just like the Lakers they also have results to back up their popularity. They have won La Liga twenty two times and the Champions League twice. Captain Xavi Hernandez has the Barca record for most appearances and has spent his whole club career there a la Kobe and the Lakers.
Both of these Midwest cities love their beer and Munich is the home to Oktoberfest. Just like the Packers and the Cardinals Bayern Munich has a winning tradition. They have won the Bundislega a record twenty four times and the UEFA Champions league five times.
They spend more on players than any other team in any sport and they are have won the most championships in the most competitive league in the world. Just like the Yankees and the Knicks, their brand name is one of the strongest globally. Madison Square Garden and Yankee Stadium are arguably the most popular stadium in their respective sports and ManU has one of the most popular stadiums in soccer, Old Trafford.
The EU’s 15th most populous city and Columbus is the USA’s 15th most populous city.
Philly maybe the “city of brotherly love” but they have some of the meanest fans in sports. Roma’s fans have taken fan craziness to a whole new level. They are notorious for beating up on other fans who come to their stadium and they have even attacked players.
The Bay Area is littered with pro sports teams and so is London. Chelsea is one of six teams within the city and they spend the most on salaries and have been the most successful of all six. (side note: Oakland should support the other major London team, Arsenal.)
BVB has the loudest stadium of all the teams in the top UEFA leagues. Dortmund also has a large shipping port like Seattle.
Atletico is also based in a capital city. Their owner, Enrique Cerezo is aggressive when it comes to acquiring talent and firing his coaches, just like Redskins owner Dan Snyder.
LeBron James could have gone to almost any team he wanted. He chose to go home to Cleveland. But was that the best basketball decision? Here is a list of the best and worst teammates based off of advanced statistics.
0 Point Possessions Last Touches:
0PPLT is the selfishness stat. It shows the percentage that a team’s possession ends with a player either missing a shot or turning the ball over. High numbers in this stat are signs that a player possesses the ball too much for his team’s own good.
.* Players must have played over 240 minutes to qualify*
(Kobe Bryant’s 2013 stats would have put him second on this list with 22.869)
In the top 7 are Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving. Out of 463 players LeBron is 72 Wade is 87 Bosh is ranked 231.
Percentage of Possessions Ended:
PPE is the ball hog stat. It shows the percentage of possessions ended when a player is the last one to touch the ball, weather it be a shot attempt, drawing a foul, an assist, or turnover. It is ok to be on this list, but teams should not have more than one player high up on the list because they will step on each other’s toes.
(2013 Kobe Bryant would have been first with a whopping 66.219%)
In this statistic variation between teammates is key. The more successful teams have a spread out amount of PPE because it stretches out the defense when there are multiple threats.
Points Per Last Touch:
PPLT is the production stat. It shows how many points a team can expect to score if a player is the last one to touch the ball during a possession. These are guys who are highly efficient with their touches. High number means the player is a good teammate.
A team’s total G/B ratio is more correlated to wins than any other statistic. G/B is a ratio that compares the amount of points a player contributes per possession to the amount of possessions that the player misses a shot or turns the ball over. The higher the number the better the teammate:
Carmelo was 167th in this statistic, Irving was 78th, Miami as a team was 3rd.
Here are the worst teammates based on G/B ratio:
|12||MIN||Luc Mbah a Moute||1.589734222|
Last year’s P/B rankings per team has the strongest correlation to wins. Here were the team ranks from 2014:
Based on the advanced stats LeBron should have stayed in Miami. But with LeBron the Cavs will learn how to play better as a team and he will shift these stats in Cleveland’s favor.
For full statistical analysis tweet @RealTommyMorris
When the NBA draft lottery gets picked there is always speculation that the draft order is rigged. This year’s conspiracy theory: Cleveland was given the first pick to help entice LeBron James to come back after his contract in Miami is up to create the ultimate homecoming story line. Here’s what the theories would have been if anyone else in the lottery would have gotten the number one spot:
Milwaukee Bucks: The league made a behind the scenes deal with new ownership to ensure them the number one pick if they bought the team… And because Mallory Edens.
7/10 All-Seeing Eyes
Philadelphia 76ers: Philly is the fourth biggest media market in the US and the Sixers are terrible. This would give them another young star to go along with MCW and would lead to the creation of another super team in a major market.
4/10 All-Seeing Eyes
Orlando Magic: Owner Richard DeVos is the second longest tenured NBA owner that was in the lottery this year.
1/10 All-Seeing Eyes
Utah Jazz: There were reports back in 2011 that the team might be up for sale but the NBA lockout situation changed things. The Jazz’s ownership group owns three other entities that generate more revenue than the Jazz so selling them off makes sense. They just need the team’s valuation to rise, which it would if they had the number one pick.
3/10 All-Seeing Eyes
Boston Celtics: It’s great for the NBA if the Celtics are a dominant team.
9/10 All-Seeing Eyes
LA Lakers: See Celtics
10/10 All-Seeing Eyes
Sacramento Kings: The Kings were purchased last season and Sac-Town just approved a proposal to build a brand new $477 million arena. The number one pick would be their reward.
6/10 All-Seeing Eyes
Charlotte Hornets: If the Hornets keep losing Michael Jordan might lose interest. It is good for the NBA to keep him around as much as possible. Giving him a number one pick will help keep him at the arena and off the golf course.
5/10 All-Seeing Eyes
Denver Nuggets: One of the most genius business transactions of all time took place when the NBA merged with the ABA in 1976. The St. Louis Spirits were not going to be one of the teams absorbed by the NBA so Spirits owners Ozzie and Daniel Silna settled for a $2.2 million buyout…and a share of the TV revenue for the four former ABA franchises (Nets, Nuggets, Pacers, Spurs) forever. Since then the Silnas brothers have accumulated $300 million from the deal with no signs of slowing down. Finally in January of this year the NBA bought them out for half a billion dollars. Since the Nuggets are the only former ABA team in the lottery this would be a great way to stick the Silnas the middle finger.
4/10 All-Seeing Eyes
Minnesota Timberwolves: The NBA’s way of saying we’re sorry for Kevin Love leaving.
1/10 All-Seeing Eyes
Phoenix Suns: Because Jeff Hornacek’s a legend, that’s why.
10/10 All-Seeing Eyes
PACKERS 1st round pick 21 Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S –Alabama:
Clinton-Dix started every game for the Tide as a sophomore and junior with the exception of two games he was suspended for violating team rules. Even after missing two games he was a consensus All-American last season. He is slender but he is a fantastic tackler and he can cover slot receivers and tight ends just as well as anyone in this draft.
EAGLES 2nd round pick 42 Jordan Matthews, WR – Vanderbilt
Matthews will be the NFL offensive rookie of the year. Scouts are worried about his speed and wiry frame but his stats speak for themselves. As Vandi’s only weapon with defenses focused on shutting him out, Matthews still lead the SEC in receptions as a junior and senior. Also in those seasons he was second and first in receiving yards respectively, totaled 206 receptions for 2,800 yards and 15 touchdowns, and showed durability by playing in every game. As one of the most relied upon receivers in the NCAA last season he was the second in targets per team pass attempt and even with the high volume of passes coming his way Matthews still managed to bring in 71% of the balls thrown to him which put him above the national average.
VIKINGS 3rd round pick 96 Jerick McKinnon, RB – Georgia Southern
McKinnon will make the switch from quarterback to running back when he enters the NFL, sort of. As a “quarterback” he was part of the most prolific rushing attack in the nation. In 47 games he only attempted 81 passes for the Eagles but he ran the ball 619 times for 3,899 yards and 42 touchdowns which included a 9 carry 125 yard 1 touchdown performance in Southern’s upset of Florida this past season. With the read option becoming more popular in the NFL McKinnon will have a unique perspective that other running backs won’t have. He was also impressive at the combine. Of all running backs he cranked out the most bench reps with 6 more than the second place finisher. Additionally he was second in the 40 yard dash, vertical jump and broad jump, and third in the 3 cone drill.
PATRIOTS 4th round pick 140 Cameron Fleming, OT –Stanford
Intelligence is one of the most important factors for an offensive lineman so this Stanford aeronautics graduate should do just fine. Not only is Fleming smart he’s got great size at 6’5” 323 lbs. The only knock on him is his lack of mobility but his cognitive ability and awareness should help make up for any short comings in athleticism.
GIANTS 5th round pick 174 Devon Kennard, OLB- USC
Kennard’s productivity as a Trojan was hampered by moving around to different positions and by being stuck playing under Monte Kiffin for a couple of seasons. In 2013 as an outside linebacker in Clancy Pendergast’s system he thrived and made second team All Pac-12. His draft stock took a hit due to his sub par combine but his 13.5 tackles for loss and 9 sacks last season proved he can be productive at a high level of competition. Kennard is also a smart football player. His father played in the NFL so he has been around football his whole life and he had the top GPA on the USC squad his senior season.
RAMS 6TH round pick 214 Garrett Gilbert, QB – Southern Methodist:
In 2009 Gilbert was a blue chip quarterback prospect on his way to the University of Texas. After a rough start to his Longhorn career and a serious shoulder surgery Gilbert transferred to SMU. A change of scenery is exactly what Gilbert needed. His senior season he threw for 3,528 yards with 21 TDs and only 7 INTs and showed good decision making by having the 10th best pass attempts to interceptions ratio in the nation. He also has the prototypical NFL size and attributes standing 6’4” 220 with a 4.81 40 time.
RAIDERS 7th round pick 247 Jonathan Dowling, FS- Western Kentucky
Dowling’s worst enemy is himself. He has the size and athleticism to be a great NFL player but he has shown major character issues. He was kicked off the Florida football team his freshman year which is what brought him to Western Kentucky. Fortunately he impressed as a Hilltopper with 9 interceptions and 8 forced fumbles and 2 All-Sun Belt team selections in his 2 seasons there.
VIKINGS undrafted free agent A.C. Leonard, TE – Tennessee St.
He was a highly sought after recruit in high school and started his career at Florida before being kicked off the team. After Florida Leonard made the most of his time at Tennessee State and made second team all FCS. He’s not much of a blocker and is slightly undersized but he is the most athletic tight end in the draft as shown by his 4.5 40 which makes him a match up problem for NFL defenses.
Bud Selig helped honor Hank Aaron last night on the 40th anniversary of his record setting 715th home run. Selig referred to Aaron as the “true home run King.” This is an obvious stab at Barry Bonds, who has seven more home runs than Aaron and has the single season home run record. Bud Selig’s comment was inappropriate; especially for someone who is supposed to be bipartisan and someone who directly benefited from Bonds’ home runs. It is time for Barry Bonds to be exonerated because the steroid era isn’t his fault; it is directly the fault of Bud Selig.
As a life-long Padres fan I hated Barry Bonds. Every time the Giants came to town I booed him when he came to the plate, I screamed steroid jokes at him whenever I thought he was within earshot, and I loved seeing him squirm through all the steroid allegations and watching his career’s work asterisked. But in the seven years since his retirement I’ve had a change of heart. Barry Bonds may have used steroids, but what he did was no different than the rest of the players in his era or in any other era did.
Barry Bonds did whatever he could to try and give himself an advantage; little do people know Hank Aaron did the same thing. Bonds took steroids because they were the most beneficial thing on the market during his era. Hank Aaron took greenies (an amphetamine) because they were the most beneficial edge available at his time. The only difference between the two is that Bonds played thirty years later when human performance science had dramatically improved.
Like steroids, amphetamines such as greenies were banned in the United States without prescription but were not banned by Major League Baseball until 2006. If Aaron was willing to bend the rules to take greenies in the 60s and 70s who is to say that he would not have bent the rules and taken steroids if he were playing in the era of Barry Bonds?
Selig’s comments last night that made dismissing Bonds’ accomplishments not only acceptable, but the norm. Baseball was peaking in popularity during the steroid driven home run era and there is no way that MLB did not know about the widespread use of steroids. Now Selig and MLB are pretending they didn’t know about it and are using the players that they once marketed to make their sport grow as scapegoats. MLB needs to take some blame for the steroid epidemic and cut the players some slack.
Example: In public schools higher test scores mean more grant money. Hence, the higher the students achieve,, the more money the school makes, and the better the students do the better their “stats” are on their resumes for college apps or whatever they choose to do after school. Both parties benefit from good scores, just like MLB and the players benefited from increased home runs. If a Principle is fully aware that perhaps half of his students are cheating on the test, including most of his highest scorers, but chooses to look the other way; who is at fault when the school board cracks down on cheaters? Furthermore if there was some foul play but it is hard to pin point exactly who cheated and who didn’t, is it fair to punish a student who by all indications probably cheated but there is no proof suggesting that he/she did?
In my opinion the one who is the most at fault is the Principle, or in this case MLB. They benefited by creating a culture that rewarded cheaters which encourages more cheating. MLB easily could have put policies in place but chose to look the other way until they were pressured by outside forces.
Bud Selig has been the acting Commissioner, then Commissioner since 1992, right when the steroid era boomed. If he wants to call Hank Aaron the “true home run King” and dismiss Bonds’ career then he needs to dismiss his own career as well.
No one will ever fill out a perfect bracket, but here are some statistics to help make the selection process a little easier.
Which teams are most likely to pull off upsets? There have been 16 first round upsets by 11-seeds through 14-seeds in the past three seasons. 43% of the 11-seed through 14 seed upsets came from schools in the top 50 RPI even though they only make up 20% of the teams in that seed range. This means that they have almost won the same amount of games in one forth of the opportunities.
Top 50 RPI teams 11-14: Dayton, Harvard, Nebraska, North Dakota State, Tennessee, and Xavier.
It has become popular to pick a 15 seed over a 2 seed. The worst RPI for a 15 beating a 2 was Hampton with a 127 in 2001. Eastern Kentucky and American are the only 15 seeds with above a 127 ranking.
According to Forbes’ Roger Groves the RPI of an opponent is one of the greatest factors in finding teams that can be upset. According to his research from the past 13 years, half of the Final Four teams have ranked 17th or better in opponent RPI. He also found that there have been 40 teams seeded 8th or better with an opponent RPI rank worse than 60 and only 7/40 of those teams have made it to the sweet sixteen or further. Even number 11 and 12 seeds with opponent RPI ranks better than 17 are more successful then the top 8 seeded teams with opponent RPI ranks worse than 60; 20% make the sweet sixteen compared to 17.5%.
Top 8 seeds ranked 60 or worse in Opponent RPI: Cincinnati, Gonzaga, Saint Louis, San Diego State, Syracuse and Wichita State.
Looking ahead to further in the bracket:
As expected, the higher seeds have had the best winning percentage in the first round. In the second round things change. If a nine seed is able to beat an eight in the first round, they have only made it to the sweet sixteen 10% of the time. On the contrary, ten and eleven seeds win in the second round a mind-boggling 44% of the time. Twelve seeds also are a statistical anomaly; they win 32% of their first round games but win 45% of their second round games.
As far as the champions go:
In the past 20 years, 16 of the champions have won their conference’s regular season title. Also during that time only one team team seeded lower than 3 has won a championship.
Regular Season Champs seeded 3 or better: Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Michigan, Villanova, Virginia, and Wichita State