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Check out My Mind on Sports

My loyal readers,

In case you haven’t heard, I will no longer be regularly posting here on the Daily Sports Obsession to focus on contributing to http://www.mymindonsports.com. If you haven’t checked out the My Mind on Sports team yet, it’s a great site with many contributors covering every sport you can think of! I loved having my own blog, but it’s time for the next level. Thank you for your great support over the years! -Chuckie

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

2013 MLB Playoff Predictions

October is upon us, and that means playoff baseball! The postseason is set, and ten teams will battle it out for the chance to win the World Series. Like every year, there are plenty of storylines going into the postseason. Can the Pirates, arguably baseball’s best story this year, exorcise the demons that have haunted the team since 1992? Will Terry Francona’s Indians face his old team, the Boston Red Sox, in what would be a much-hyped AL Division Series matchup? Can the electric Yasiel Puig lead the Dodgers to the promised land? Will Detroit return to the Fall Classic to seek revenge for last year? Let’s pick the playoffs, here we go!

AL Wild-Card Game (winner faces Boston in ALDS)

  • Tampa Bay Rays vs Cleveland Indians: Terry Francona’s Boston return will be set up when the Tribe stop the Rays in this winner-take-all contest. The Prediction: 7-5 Indians

NL Wild-Card Game (winner faces St. Louis in NLDS)

  • Cincinnati Reds vs Pittsburgh Pirates: Justin Morneau will be an x-factor with the bat, Francisco Liriano will turn in a gem and the Pirates will survive and advance. The Prediction: 6-3 Pirates

ALDS

  • Cleveland Indians vs Boston Red Sox: Tito’s new club will give his old team some trouble, but the Red Sox will win this series because of their offense. David Ortiz has a monster series and the Sox advance. The Prediction: Red Sox in 4
  • Detroit Tigers vs Oakland Athletics: A tight, five-game series will come down to Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera getting it done and beating the A’s. The Prediction: Tigers in 5

NLDS

  • Pittsburgh Pirates vs St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals have a much better offense than Pittsburgh, and that will be the difference. Carlos Beltran and the Redbirds end the Pirates’ magical run. The Prediction: Cardinals in 4
  • Los Angeles Dodgers vs Atlanta Braves: Other than Clayton Kershaw, I would take Atlanta’s pitching staff over L.A.’s. Yasiel Puig has had a magical season, but Freddie Freeman will lead the Braves to an NLCS showdown with St. Louis. The Prediction: Braves sweep

ALCS

  • Detroit Tigers vs Boston Red Sox: This will be a great ALCS matchup featuring the best two offenses in Major League Baseball. In the season series, the Tigers won 4-3. But this is the postseason, and Boston has a deeper pitching staff. Lester already beat Scherzer and Fister this year, and Buchholz is his healthy, ace-caliber self again. Peavy has pitched well, as have Lackey and Dempster. John Farrell has a lot of combinations to play with, while Detroit has to hope that Verlander doesn’t struggle and the good Fister and Porcello show up rather than the ones who have lost their composure against Boston in the past (mainly Porcello). The Red Sox advance to the World Series, while Detroit goes home empty. The Prediction: Red Sox in 6

NLCS

  • St. Louis Cardinals vs Atlanta Braves: Baseball fans will be seeing red, and lots of it, when these two face off. The key in this series? The matchup between the catchers. Yadier Molina and Brian McCann are two of the best in the league; who will work better with their pitching staff when it matters the most? I’ll take the playoff experience of Molina, who will lead the Cards to the 2004 rematch with Boston. The Prediction: Cardinals in 5

World Series

  • St. Louis Cardinals vs Boston Red Sox: Led by Series MVP Carlos Beltran, the Cardinals will avenge their 2004 World Series loss and beat the Red Sox in 6. The Prediction: Cardinals in 6

I’ve got the Cardinals. Let the playoffs begin!

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2013 in MLB

 

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Manning’s Surgical Performance Continues

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If we’ve learned one thing so far this NFL season, it’s that Peyton Manning still has it.

The 37-year old quarterback, who many considered to be done in 2011 after his neck injury effectively ended his legendary time as a Colt, has followed up a spectacular 2012 with a torrid start to the 2013 season. What has he done in the first three games? Here’s a quick recap:

  • Completed 73% of his passes, first in the NFL
  • Thrown 12 touchdown passes, the most ever in the first three games of a season
  • Has yet to throw an interception
  • Has led Broncos to 14 consecutive regular season victories

A glance at those stats is enough to solidify Manning as the best quarterback in the NFL, but they only tell half of the story. Watching last night’s Broncos-Raiders Monday Night Football game, Americans couldn’t help but watch the latest episode of one of the greatest television shows of all time, the “Peyton Manning Show.” There were no major mistakes or blemishes in Manning’s performance, his carving up of the Oakland defense was, as referenced in the title, surgical. On the two-yard line, with everyone certain a run was coming, Manning stunned the Raiders with a perfect play-action fake that left Decker wide open for Denver’s first score of the game. Wes Welker and Julius Thomas’s touchdowns followed a similar theme: they were wide open. Manning was so precise and dominant that even though the game was in hand by halftime, football fans still tuned in to the second half because they wanted to see how many more touchdowns he could throw and how many more points the Broncos could rack up.

While Denver’s opponent is trying to win the ballgame, Peyton is playing a game of cat-and-mouse with the defense. He’s audibling out of plays at the line of scrimmage, surveying the defense, calling out the “Mike” and eyeing the safeties. By the time every point of the pre-snap checklist has been checked off, he has pretty much figured out what the defense is going to run and how to attack it. What looks like a silly dance is really a choreographed battle plan prepared throughout the week, and Manning does it better than anyone. As he’s gotten older, he gets even better.

Peyton is one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the league, but he will always have his detractors because of his struggles in the playoffs. Giants fans will not hesitate to point out that his little brother Eli has two Super Bowl rings, while he’s only won the big game once. The pick-six to Tracy Porter is arguably the most memorable moment of Super Bowl XLIV, when he lost to the Saints. The victory on opening night against Baltimore will not fully cushion the blow of losing to them in the Divisional Round game in January, a game where he threw two crucial picks and the team absolutely imploded in one of the biggest playoff “chokes” ever. Looking at his entire carer, Manning  is 9-11 in the playoffs, he should probably have two or three championships since the Colts were the best team in the league for many of his years in Indianapolis. When it comes to all-time quarterback rankings, Manning should probably be one or two, but due to playoff production he drops to number five (in case you were wondering, my list is Montana, Unitas, Brady, Elway, Manning).

Flash-forward to this year, the Broncos are looking like the definitive favorite in the AFC. In the regular season, Denver is a lock to go at least 12-4, but will most likely go 13-3 or 14-2. When January rolls around, Peyton will be tested with his legacy on the line. If he wins the Super Bowl, the detractors will fade away. If he loses in the Divisional Round again, they will be in full force. Until then, sit back, relax, and watch football’s Michelangelo at work.

Flash-forward to this year, the Broncos are looking like the definitive favorite in the AFC. In the regular season, Denver is a lock to go at least 12-4, but will most likely go 13-3 or 14-2. When January rolls around, Peyton will be tested with his legacy on the line. If he wins the Super Bowl, the detractors will fade away. If he loses in the Divisional Round again, they will be in full force. Until then…..sit back, relax, and watch football’s Michelangelo at work.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2013 in NFL

 

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NFL Preview 2013: 20 Predictions

The NFL season kicks off tomorrow night! The defending champion Ravens head to Denver for a rematch of last year’s divisional round game to start up a much-hyped (as always) season. The 2013 NFL Preview is going to follow the format of the MLB preview and go with 20 predictions. Some will be bold, some will be lead-pipe locks, all are sure to stir up debate. Let’s do it!

  • 1. Peyton Manning will win NFL MVP. Last year Manning finished second in MVP voting to Adrian Peterson, but this year #18 will be the clear Most Valuable Player. He always puts up the stats, and he’ll win 12-14 games as usual. It’s going to be difficult for anyone to beat out Peyton.

  • 2. Peyton Manning will win Offensive Player of the Year. See #1.

  • 3. Julius Peppers will win Defensive Player of the Year. In the last two seasons, Julius Peppers has had 22.5 sacks, and is poised to have 14-15 in 2013. Chicago’s defense is going to be top-5 once again, and they wouldn’t be a top-5 defense without their superstar. Look for Peppers to win Defensive ROY honors.

  • 4. Eddie Lacy will win Offensive Rookie of the Year. Lacy proved in the National Championship Game that he’s a powerful, skilled running back who is NFL-ready. He’s going to be the number one back in Green Bay, and he’ll make the most of that opportunity. There are other candidates (Tavon Austin will have a good rookie campaign), but no one is more ready for the league and the responsibilities of being a starter than Lacy.

  • 5. Dee Milliner will win Defensive Rookie of the Year. One of the only bright-spots for the Jets this year will be Milliner, who will be one of the best corners in the league in a couple years. The guy is fast, smart, and played very smart in preseason. To be the anchor of such a great defense took a lot of talent, which Milliner definitely has. It was a great pick for the Jets, and it will pay off with a defensive ROY trophy.

  • 6. Darrelle Revis will win Comeback Player of the Year. The newly-signed Buccaneer tore his ACL in Week 3 last season, but he is healthy now and will have a big first year in Tampa. Richard Sherman has talked a lot of smack about being the NFL’s best corner, so now it’s time for Revis to let his play do the talking and reclaim the title. There will be a lot of motivation for #24 when the Bucs head to the Meadowlands Week 1 to take on his former team, the New York Jets.

  • 7. The Patriots will win the AFC East. I know I didn’t go out on a limb here, but just like my Alabama pick in college football, why fight it? Throw the tumultuous off-season and injury concerns out the window, because New England is still the class of the division and will still contend for the AFC title. They lost Aaron Hernandez, but they may have diamonds in the rough with Michael Hoomanawanui and Zach Sudfield. They lost Wes Welker, but they picked up Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson. Julian Edelman’s legal problems are over and he seems to be more mature this time around. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If you picked a JUCO player off the street and put him in a red, white and blue jersey alongside Tom Brady, he would still catch six passes for 50 or 60 yards. Brady makes everybody better, including the very man who left for Denver. The one problem, as always: the secondary. Will it improve in 2013?

  • 8. The Bengals will win the AFC North. The Bengals have never made the playoffs three years in a row, but they’ll finally do it this year. James Harrison joins a tenacious defense which will probably be in the top 10 this season, and the defensive line is solid. The big pickup in the draft? Tight end Tyler Eifert. Everyone who watched Notre Dame football for the past four years knows that Eifert is a straight-up stud at tight end. He is excellent at catching the football, and equally equipped blocking as well. Eifert may be a candidate for Rookie of the Year as well, and he’ll help Andy Dalton, who has an arsenal of receivers including superstar A.J. Green, win the division title over Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

  • 9. The Texans will win the AFC South. The Texans will get a run for their money from Indy, but will ultimately win the South for the third straight season. Arian Foster’s numbers declined the past two years, but he’s ready for a rebound this time around. The new additions, including Ed Reed and Joe Mays, are sure to improve the defense, and drafting receiver DeAndre Hopkins to play opposite Andre Johnson was a very intelligent move by GM Rick Smith, and the Texans have a relatively easy schedule. Andrew Luck will have to wait for a division crown.

  • 10. The Broncos will win the AFC West. This one’s a no-brainer. After Manning does his audibles and the Broncs sub in and out until there’s one second left on the play clock, he’ll drop back, look left and right and see Eric Decker on one side, Demaryius Thomas on the other, and Wes Welker in the slot. That’s enough for me to give Denver the division title, because the other three teams do not have a receiving core of that caliber. But the defense has to step up without Von Miller for the first six games, and their secondary is a big question as well (remember Champ Bailey’s performance in the AFC Divisional?). The Broncos will run away with the division, but may have trouble come playoff time if Peyton turns in another performance like last year.

  • 11. The Redskins will win the NFC East. RGIII is supposedly healthy, which gives the Skins the advantage over the rest of the division. Alfred Morris will have an even better year than last year, and Pierre Garcon is primed for a big season as well. Brandon Meriweather has an opportunity to become the star safety he could have been in New England, and Brian Orakpo will contend for Defensive ROY.

  • 12. The Packers will win the NFC North. No changing of the guard in the North. Aaron Rodgers is still the top quarterback, Eddie Lacy will win ROY honors, and Clay Matthews will have another productive season as one of the league’s top defensive players. The first three games should be a test, as Green Bay starts the year at San Fran, vs the Redskins, and at Cincinnati. If they can go 3-0 or 2-1 in that stretch, they’re looking good until the last four games, where they have another tough stretch: vs the Falcons, at Dallas, vs the Steelers, at Chicago. The Pack have the veteran group to get the job done.

  • 13. The Saints will win the NFC South. Sean Payton is back and so are the Saints. It’s obvious that Drew Brees is a better quarterback with his trusted coach, and the new-look Saints defense will be going to a 3-4 under new coordinator Rob Ryan. With Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, and Josh Freeman as the opposition, a faster defense will be welcomed in New Orleans. Mark Ingram is going to have the breakout year he was expected to have last year, and the Saints will benefit from having a younger defense than Atlanta. Brees and Payton are back, and that could lead to a deep playoff run.

  • 14. The 49ers will win the NFC West. I’m not buying ESPN and others who are picking Seattle to beat San Fran and win the West. How did the Niners get worse this offseason? They added Glenn Dorsey, Nnamdi Asomugha, Anquan Boldin, and rookies Eric Reid and Quinton Patton, who look like stars in the making. The Niners will win the West by at least two games over Seattle.

  • 15. AFC Wild Card teams: Steelers and Colts

  • 16. NFC Wild Card teams: Falcons and Seahawks

  • 17. AFC Championship: Texans beat Broncos

  • 18. NFC Championship: 49ers beat Saints

  • 19. Super Bowl: 49ers beat Texans

  • 20. Colin Kaepernick named Super Bowl MVP

I’m picking the Niners. Let the season begin!

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2013 in NFL

 

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College Football Predictions 2013

The college football season kicks off tonight! This is one of the most hyped-up seasons in recent memory, and a lot happened in the offseason to add to that excitement. Just like past years, I’ll just be doing quick predictions, but if you want in-depth analysis visit http://www.mymindonsports.com all season long. My Big Ten preview for My Mind on Sports is here: http://mymindonsports.com/?p=5214. On to the picks, let’s do it!

Conference Champions

  • ACC: Clemson Tigers

  • Big 12: Oklahoma State Cowboys

  • American Athletic Conference: Louisville Cardinals

  • Big Ten: Michigan Wolverines

  • Pac-12: Stanford Cardinal

  • SEC: Alabama Crimson Tide

  • Heisman Trophy winner: Braxton Miller, Ohio State

National Championship: Alabama beats Stanford

Why fight it? The Tide will win again. A.J. McCarron is a gamer and a winner, and T.J. Yeldon will put up big numbers running the ball this year. The defense is still stacked, the offense is still solid, and Bama will be champions for the third straight year.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2013 in College Football

 

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Sam Bradford: Star Performer in 2013?

500x305-rams-sam-bradford

On April 22, 2010, the St. Louis Rams made a franchise-changing move. Coming off of a brutal 1-15 season and having won just six games in the previous three seasons, the Rams selected Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford with the first pick in the NFL Draft. Draft experts everywhere applauded the pick and Bradford was labeled a “can’t-miss kid.” After all, he had an illustrious college career, winning the Heisman and making it to the national title game in 2009 while passing for 88 touchdowns in what were basically two years as a Sooner.

Despite shoulder surgery ending his junior year early, Bradford signed a six-year, $78 million deal after being drafted (the largest contract ever for a rookie). The humility the young quarterback showed in interviews, along with the strong work ethic he displayed in mini-camp and training camp, made it obvious the Rams made the right choice in an effort to bring back the Greatest Show on Turf.

The first year of the Sam Bradford era went pretty well for St. Louis. The Rams went 7-9 and were ten points away from the NFC West title, losing to the Seahawks in Week 17 with the division on the line. Bradford’s stats weren’t great, but they weren’t horrible either; he threw for 3,512 yards with 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Compared to some rookie seasons (Peyton Manning’s rough 1998 year comes to mind), Bradford did a solid job of managing the game and not trying to do too much, and it almost led to the Rams making the postseason.

However, the Rams would not be in playoff contention in 2011, with a dreadful 2-14 record. Bradford missed six games with a high ankle sprain and played poorly when he was in the lineup, throwing just six touchdowns in ten games and recording a mediocre passer rating of 70.5. While he may have regressed statistically, he didn’t have much help from the offensive line, being sacked 36 times. The Rams fired head coach Steve Spagnuolo and GM Billy Devaney on Black Monday, and St. Louis would start from scratch in 2012.

Last season was more like 2010 for Bradford and the Rams, as they went 7-8-1. New coach Jeff Fisher and new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer changed the culture in St. Louis, and though the team did not qualify for the playoffs, Bradford certainly moved forwards rather than backwards. He threw for 3,702 yards, 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions with an 82.6 passer rating, all career bests. Big wins against the Niners, Seahawks and Redskins really featured Bradford’s new role as a field general rather than game manager, as well as giving fans plenty to get excited for entering the 2013 offseason.

As the 2013 NFL season comes closer and closer, the people of St. Louis are flocking to Rams Training Camp to watch their hometown team get ready for a year full of expectations. Fan attendance for camp is up 70% over last year, and while the offense lost Danny Amendola and Steven Jackson to free agency, they signed Jake Long to upgrade the left tackle position, brought in Jared Cook at tight end, and drafted the exciting West Virginia duo of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey to add speed and electricity to the receiver spot. The NFC West is going to be very tough for them to steal this season with San Francisco and Seattle leading the pack in not only the division but the conference as well, but they did beat both teams in 2012. If they are to pull it off, Sam Bradford will have to break out this year and become the star QB he was expected to be when he was picked number one in the Draft. The formula for the signal-caller? Less turnovers, precise passing, and to stay healthy. If he does those three things, the Rams can potentially grab a wild card spot and contend for the title. All eyes will be on number 8. How will he respond?

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2013 in NFL

 

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2013 PGA Championship Preview

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The best golfers in the world have descended upon Rochester, New York and Oak Hill Country Club for the 95th edition of the PGA Championship. The final major of 2013 is stacked with storylines, the biggest being Tiger Woods and his hunt for that elusive 15th major championship. Will he get it, or will someone in the rest of the field take home the Wanamaker Trophy? Let’s break it down!

The Favorites

  • Tiger Woods. Tiger is obviously the favorite to win this weekend, with the Vegas line at 2-1 odds. History is also on Woods’s side going into this tournament. His finish at the PGA can usually be predicted by his finish in three other tournaments: the Farmer’s Insurance Open, the Cadillac Championship, and the Bridgestone Invitational. When Tiger won those three tournaments in 1999, 2000, 2006 and 2007, he went on to win the PGA Championship. This year, Tiger won all three tournaments, so he can go into Oak Hill pretty confident after a trifecta he hasn’t won in years. However, there is one exception to this pattern: in 2005, Tiger won the three tournaments but failed to win the PGA. Far from a lock, but no other golfer is riding that wave of success.

  • Phil Mickelson. Will the Tiger-Phil rivalry renew itself on Sunday? The two have been major competitors on the course over the years, and after Phil’s win at the Open Championship across the pond, it looks like he and Tiger are the ones to beat going in. However, Lefty has only won once in 20 tries at the PGA, and he was 23rd in 2003 at Oak Hill at eight-over for the tournament, so he has a little something to prove on this course.

  • Adam Scott. The Masters Champion was tied for 23rd with Mickelson in 2003 at Oak Hill, but like Phil, he’s matured a lot as a golfer since then. He tied for third at the Open and has three finishes in the Top 10 at the PGA in his career. Scott is a fantastic putter and is 24th in greens and regulation on tour. There’s a chance we could see Scott hoist the Wanamaker, but he’s had some consistency issues which could also lead to him being out of contention come Saturday and Sunday. Which Adam Scott will we see?

  • Rory McIlroy. Even more of a question mark than Scott is young phenom Rory McIlroy. Last year, McIlroy won the PGA and was named PGA Player of the Year, and everyone was heralding him as golf’s next star. This year, it’s been one disappointment after another for the Irishman, who finished 25th at the Masters, 41st at the U.S. Open, and missed the cut at the British. Can Rory get his mind right, take advantage of his last shot of 2013 and surprise everyone? He’ll need to have a better driving accuracy. Out of 546 possible fairways this year, he has hit just 315, putting him at 58% at ranking him 143rd on the Tour.

Other Contenders

  • Matt Kuchar. The likable American has won two tournaments in 2013, the big one being the Memorial. He’s still looking for his first major, and he could get it because of his great putting and intelligent approach to the game. You won’t see three-putt disasters out of Kuchar at Oak Hill.

  • Brandt Snedeker. Snedeker has been one of the strongest golfers on Tour this year, with two wins and eight Top 10 finishes in 17 events. The stat that could give him an edge in the PGA? Snedeker has the best average score in Round 3 out of any golfer on Tour. On Saturday, when the contenders are weeded out from the pretenders at Oak Hill, Snedeker will put himself in contention to win going into Sunday’s final round.

  • Justin Rose. Rose has been in the Top 10 in half of his events this year, winning the U.S. Open. Having a major championship win this year is a big advantage mentally, and the success he’s had gives him pretty good odds of being near the top of that leader board on Sunday. Rose missed the cut at Oak Hill in 2003, but he was only 23 at the time. With one of the best greens in regulation percentages and the second best scoring average, Rose is a legitimate contender this weekend.

  • Henrik Stenson. Stenson is a darkhorse in Rochester this weekend. He hasn’t won a tournament this year, but he has the second-best greens in regulation percentage on Tour, along with the sixth-best driving accuracy. Will he win the whole thing? Probably not, but as long as he’s hitting those greens, he has a shot.

And the winner will be…. Justin Rose. Tiger and Phil are the favorites, and they’ll have strong showings, but Justin Rose will win his second major of the year at Oak Hill. Look for him to be in the top 5 heading into Sunday and charge to the top with a great final round while the others have sub-par days. Come Monday morning, we’ll be talking about Justin Rose as golf’s new superstar. There’s my bold prediction, who do you have taking home the Wanamaker?

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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