Random Thoughts 12/29/14

-This may be my last entry for the year.  I’ll try to be more consistent in 2015 with my posts.  I don’t always seem to find the time, but will do my best.  I hope you all enjoy reading these as much I enjoy writing them.

-The NFL regular season ended yesterday and there was no shortage of story-lines.  Let’s start with the Playoff match-ups.

  • The first game is the Cardinals at the Panthers.  A month ago the Cardinals would have been the heavy favorites in this one.  As it stands now, I’d say the Panthers have a great shot at winning.  The Panthers’ D has been increasingly stingy over the past few weeks.  Combine that with the fact that the Cardinals are entirely too banged up on offense and you have a recipe for success for the Panthers.  If Drew Stanton isn’t ready (I’d be shocked if he was), the Cardinals don’t have much chance.  Either way they’re going to need a great game from their D.  They absolutely must win the turnover battle and hope that they can slow down the Panthers’ rushing attack.  Prediction: Panthers 20, Cardinals 10.
  • Next up is the Steelers/Ravens game.  Could we ask for a better Wild Card match-up?  These teams don’t really care for each other even in the regular season, so a Playoff game should be very interesting.  A big question in this game is the health of Le’Veon Bell.  If he’s healthy, the Steelers are very tough to stop on offense.  If he’s not, I just don’t know what to expect.  The Steelers don’t have a capable back-up at running back.  They will have to rely almost 100% on their passing game.  While that does work to the weakness of the Ravens defense, I don’t like the idea of having to be so one-sided.  The Steelers have been one of the hottest teams in the NFL since the middle of October.  They finished the year 8-2 with their two losses coming at a combined total of 10 points.  The Ravens also finished strong going 5-2 in their last 7 games.  If this is a defensive struggle I like the Ravens chances.  If it’s a shootout, I’d have to give the edge to the Steelers.  Prediction: Steelers 34, Ravens 28.
  • The Bengals/Colts game is the early game on Sunday.  This one is the toughest one to predict.  Both of these teams were very on and off all year.  Cincinnati looked great in wins over New Orleans, Cleveland and Denver.  But then they looked horrible against New England, Indianapolis, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.  I still don’t trust Andy Dalton in big games.  I also worry about the health of A.J. Green.  If he’s out, the Bengals are in trouble.  The good news for the Patriots is that the Colts are very similar.  They looked great in wins over Cincinnati, NY Giants, Washington, Jacksonville and Tennessee.  However, they were totally destroyed against Pittsburgh, New England and Dallas.  Andrew Luck is amazing, but this team is one of the worst rushing teams in the league.  The Bengals must find a way to slow down Andrew Luck.  If they don’t, they have no shot.  They simply can’t score with the Colts.  Prediction Colts 31, Bengals 20.
  • Last up is the Lions/Cowboys game.  The Lions were just dealt a devastating blow with the loss of Suh for this game.  He was suspended for stepping on Aaron Rodgers leg.  It didn’t look all that bad, but he certainly has a history with stuff like this.  The Cowboys seem primed to win this game.  They are the better of the two teams for sure.  And Stafford has never beaten a road opponent with a winning record.  With all that being said, I am eerily drawn to the Lions for some reason.  The Cowboys are only 4-4 at home.  I think this team does better when it’s not in as much spotlight.  I just have a weird feeling that the Cowboys won’t be able to run the ball as well and Romo will make a bad play or two.  If Stafford can avoid making mistakes, I think he’ll lead them to a road win.  Prediction: Lions 21, Cowboys 20.  

-The NBA season doesn’t really start for many of us until Christmas day.  If only that were true for a team like the Bobcats.  What in the world happened to this team?  This is essentially the same roster as last year with Lance Stephenson added to it.  Somehow he’s made them much worse.  He has been pretty terrible this year.  However, it can’t all be blamed on him.  They’re running out of time to turn it around though.  Fortunately for them, they still play in the lowly East where Brooklyn is holding down the 8th spot with a 13-16 record.  The East does have some positive things going for it though.  The Raptors and Hawks are playing great basketball.  How many of us could have predicted the Hawks would have the 5th best record in the league right now?  The Cavs have been in the news a lot today with reports that their coach doesn’t have the respect of his team.  Honestly, I’m not sure what to think of this story.  It’s tough because the Cavs hired David Blatt before they knew LeBron was coming back.  Would things have gone a little differently if they knew that?  Would they have hired a coach with more NBA experience?  The problem is would the Cavs be able to find someone to replace him mid-season?  I highly doubt it.  The Cavs need to just take a chill pill and let the season play out.  Do you remember all the people calling for Spoelstra’s head after the Heat started slowly?  It takes time for these teams that come together.  They’ve only played 30 games.  They still have 52 to go until the regular season is over.  That gives them a ton of time to get things worked out and come together.  There is no doubt this team will make the Playoffs.  As “bad” as they’ve been they are still 18-12.  And while they’ve had some bad losses, they’ve also lost @ Portland, vs. San Antonio, @ Washington, vs Toronto, @ Oklahoma City, vs. Atlanta and @ Miami.  Those are all probably Playoff teams.  They’ve also had some big wins @ Chicago, vs. Atlanta, vs. Washington, @ Toronto, vs. Toronto, vs. Memphis.  Look, I’m not saying the Cavs are going to win it all.  However, the panic makes me laugh.  Everyone was up in arms when OKC was 3-12 without KD and Westbrook.  There were so many stories about whether or not OKC could recover from this terrible start.  Well, they proceeded to go 12-5 since then and are now only 2 games below .500.  They still sit 3 games out of the Playoffs, but have a great shot.  82 games is a long season.  30 games is certainly not enough to determine whether or not a team is good.


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