Following the Belichick Model

belichickYes, this is a piece on Oilers.  But can you believe what Bill Belichick is able to do without Tom Brady?!  How about without their future franchise QB in Jimmy Garoppolo?!  Jacoby Brissett is a 3rd round rookie QB and facing one of the NFL’s top defenses (American spelling for the NFL) the Pats still won that game Thursday night going away.  You likely hate him, but I don’t know who the knob would be that still refuses to admit it…the guy is the best head coach in sports today, and maybe the best mind in NFL history.

 

So what does this have to do with hockey?  The NHL?  The Oilers?  Well a lot.

 

I was listening to Colin Cowherd’s show on Friday morning and if you’re an NFL fan his show is the best show to listen to.  The amount of football he talks and the guests he has on are top notch.  One of the guests he now has on regularly is Mike Lombardi, who is close with Belichick (worked for him both in Cleveland and in New England).  So of course on Friday Colin and Mike were discussing Belichick’s greatness after the big win, and specifically scouting.  Lombardi said they have a sign that hung both in Cleveland and today in New England’s offices that reads “we’re not in the talent collection business, we’re in the team building business.”

 

Yes, yes, hell FREAKING YES!  I have been preaching this in my draft write up’s for years now.  But more so than me, this made me think of the Oilers and what they’ve done oh so wrong.

 

For a lot of years the Oilers took the exact opposite approach, specifically post 2006.

 

This is not to say that building in the NHL is the same as building in the NFL.  Obviously in the NHL you’re drafting 18 year old kids and you have to develop them in juniors/college/Europe and then possibly in the minors.  But whether it was in trades or drafting, all the Oilers tried to do from 2007-2013 was compile talent, they had zero interest in building a team.

 

In 09-10 they entered the season with Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky, Robert Nilsson, Patrick O’Sullivan, Andrew Cogliano, Mike Comrie, and Gilbert Brule all on the roster up front.  Seven of your twelve forwards are small and maybe only Comrie and Brule had any bite at all.  None of the pieces fit.  Remember Pat Quinn putting guys like J.F. Jacques on the top line?!  I know Quinn did a poor job that season, but he was desperate to balance the lines a little.

 

All Lowe and Tambellini did was attempt to win every trade they made.  Take the Lubomir Visnovsky trade for example.  It was great value, but it could be argued that the deal hurt the Oilers more than it helped.  Jarret Stoll was one of the league’s top 3rd line centres and a glue guy in the room, as was Matt Greene who had been developed by then into a very solid stay at home number 4/5 guy.  They bring in Visnovsky to run the pp when they already had Sheldon Souray, Tom Gilbert, Denis Grebeshkov, and at the time still had Joni Pitkanen.  Visnovsky was obviously the best PP QB of this group, but point is that they didn’t have much of a need for him.

 

Fast forward to 2012 when the rebuild was supposed to be near completion.  We’ve all heard the rumours of Katz and/or Lowe interfering with the draft.  Tambellini and the scouting staff were set to take Ryan Murray and “allegedly” someone with more power in the organization demanded that they take Nail Yakupov.  In no way did Yakupov fit with what they had brought in.  They were still too small, he didn’t add much speed, they were set on the wings, it was just an awful fit from day one.  Murray on the other hand would have been a good fit.  Not great, but much better than Yakupov was and by the time the draft rolled around I personally was all for the Murray pick because I felt he made the team better.

 

Us fans and the media get far too caught up in the sexy things.  Taking the “BPA” in the draft is sexy, while taking the player who fits what you really need isn’t.  In a day and age where the free agent market is bare, and trades are near impossible to make, fans and media still scream to just simply take the “BPA” in the 1st round of the draft, and then you can make trades later…because, ya know, they’re real easy to make…

 

Jarmo Kekalainen took the need over the “BPA” in this past draft and I commend him for it and fully believe he made the right decision.  No doubt, the Oilers benefitted massively from him doing this.  But you don’t win Cups without high end centres, which Pierre-Luc Dubois has a great chance to be.  Jesse Puljujarvi is an elite prospect, but since when do wingers lead teams to Cups?  He fits perfectly into the Oilers lineup because they already have McDavid, Nugent-Hopkins and Draisaitl down the middle.  The Jackets had…Dubinsky?  Wenneberg?  Jenner?  None of those guys have number 1 centre abilities.  So if you draft Puljujarvi, he may have made them better.  This wouldn’t have been good, because it is nearly impossible to find a legit 1st line centre outside the top 5 in the draft, especially in the 2017 draft class.  They had to take the centre while they could.

 

Another thing fans and media find sexy is winning the value of a trade.  That’s really damn sexy, while losing the value to make your team better isn’t.

 

Before I continue, my intention with this piece wasn’t to re-hatch the Hall topic, but it obviously ties in perfectly with what I’m writing about.  It’s about building a team, not compiling talent and we all know this is what the Oilers did on June 29th.  Peter Chiarelli is the GM.  Peter Chiarelli was the GM in Boston.  Peter Chiarelli likely has at least something of a relationship with Bill Belichick and if he’s anything smart (and he seems like a pretty intelligent guy) he would have taken some of Belichick’s concepts over the years and applied them to his own teams.

 

I hate how bad they lost the trade on value, I’ll never disagree with that.  I personally would have been looking to add to it on the backend and win that part of it.  Perhaps sending a 2018 2nd round pick for a 2017 1st round pick (top 10 protected…or something along those lines).  But the trade is what it is, and Chiarelli doesn’t do the deal if he doesn’t think it makes the team much better.

 

I believe it does.  I loved Taylor Hall, but with Lucic ready to sign and Puljujarvi falling to them in the draft, Chiarelli chose to build a team rather than collect talent.

 

People can sit there and debate things that Chiarelli has done or still needs to do while building this team.  I know, they still need a right handed shot PP QB, or even just a righty with a big shot on the PP (I hear a guy just like this voiced his trade demands this past weekend…).  They also still could use a veteran right handed shot centre who is great in the dot like a Tyler Bozak (doesn’t have to be him, but along those lines).

 

But it’s clear that Chiarelli is looking to build a team.  And that’s what needs to happen.  Oilers fans should feel REALLY good about that.  It’s the way Bill Belichick does it, and I would say it’s worked out ok for him.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

We Won’t Forget 9/25/16 Anytime Soon

sep-25-2016Wow.  You don’t have too many days like that come along do you?  I don’t know if there’ll ever be another sports day quite like June 17th, 1994.  Obviously it’s been well documented in the years since, but to run it down one more time it was the day of the O.J. Simpson chase, the opening day of the 94 World Cup, the Stanley Cup parade for the NY Rangers, Arnold Palmer’s final round at the U.S. Open (ironic obviously), Ken Griffey Jr. became the fastest player ever to 30 HR’s in a season, and of course the famous game 5 of the NBA Finals.  That one probably won’t be topped.  But yesterday was pretty crazy itself.

 

I woke up to the news that Jose Fernandez had passed away.  Damn.  Easily the best young pitcher in baseball, the kid was on his way to being a superstar.  Hall of Fame type potential.  He had one of the best rookie seasons in MLB history, and after essentially working his way back from Tommy John surgery the last two seasons, he was back to being one of the best pitchers in baseball.  He was one of the few pitchers who was fun to watch on the mound.  That’s pretty rare that a pitcher is must watch TV, and he was.  And then you hear about the back story of him and his mom leaving Cuba for America, just amazing.  Fuck.  Just brutal news for baseball fans everywhere.

 

But you carry on, and of course Sunday’s in September mean NFL.  But the Jays are in the midst of a pretty tight wildcard race, and even though I’ve ripped the tournament pretty good I’m still interested to see what happens in the World Cup so I did check out a bit of the World Cup semi’s (though honestly, nothing until the 3rd when I saw Europe was up 2-1).

 

We’ll start with the Jays.  So if you read my NFL blog I put out this morning, I had to admit two big wiff’s on my part.  Well that Jays blog I wrote declaring them finished just 11 days ago looks like it was spot off as well.  I’m shocked at what happened this week.  That’s all it was.  One week, and everything changed.  The only loss they had all week was against “the King”, and that took the Mariners 12 innings.  Up until going to Seattle, the Jays were getting shutdown like that against guys who were “the latest AA callup”.  Yesterday, I knew they were winning that game in the bottom of the 9th.  Granted, if that’s Craig Kimbrel or Aroldis Chapman on the mound I don’t have the same confidence, but the body language has been a complete 180 from a week ago in Anaheim.

 

Jonah Keri brought up a great and simple point on Twitter yesterday too.  Bautista and Donaldson are getting healthy.  Two massive bats like that are obviously going to bolster the lineup, which helps the pitching staff’s psyche, and if the guys are feeling good with the bats then the D is going naturally to improve a bit.  I have some faith again, but both the O’s and the Tigers have one guy each who can shutdown the Jays in a one off so they’re far from out of trouble.

 

Meanwhile down the street at the ACC, the gimmick tournament had one of their gimmick teams head to their gimmick final!  How many of you loathe me for continually calling it a gimmick?  Many I’m sure, but it is.  I’m not saying it hasn’t provided some good hockey and great moments, it absolutely has.  I’d probably take it a lot easier if it hadn’t been marketed and desperately pushed to be more than it was.

 

ANYWAY, team Europe pulls the minor upset.  I don’t know that it’s that major of an upset like some might make it out to be.  They have a pretty complete roster.  And could the media PLEASE stop overrating Ralph Kruger?!  He’s coaching a pretty loaded team!  And I watched probably everyone of those 48 games in Edmonton, and that man got owned most nights by coaches who could run a bench.  He had a flawed hockey team, he deserved another season, but because he was wronged and he is a great quote the media wants to make him out to be Scotty Bowman 2.0.

 

I do love thought that a team which got referred to as “Euro Trash” by whoever it was at the Toronto Sun (kind of ironic that someone in the Toronto media refers to anyone as “trash” hey?) has shoved it up everyone’s ass in this tournament.  But the showdown between Canada and Europe is about as awful of a final as the NHL and NHLPA could have asked for.  Who cares?  This one has to go to OT in the 3rd game before I honestly will give a damn.  Team North America aside, this tournament has been a massive dud.

 

While that game was going on, the Jays game was going on, and the early games in the NFL were going on, I came across the news of Calgary Stampeders defensive back Mylan Hicks passing away.  He was even younger than Fernandez at 23 years, and was killed in a senseless shooting outside a Calgary night club.  I’d love to tell you more about Hicks, I honestly can’t though as my CFL knowledge in the last few years has dropped off and I just simply wouldn’t be the person to speak about him.  But it still is a major tragedy in sports, especially in this country, and even more so in this province.  A damn shame, I wish I could put it a lot better than that.

 

The news did get a little more joyful later on though.  A little.  Vin Scully, perhaps the greatest play by play man in sports history, called his final game.  And what a freaking game it was!!  2 outs, bottom of the 9th, and Corey Seager the Dodgers tremendous young SS tied the game with a solo blast.  If that weren’t enough excitement for Vin to call, the Dodgers then won it with a walk off by Charlie Cluberson, essentially a career minor leaguer, to win the NL West.  You just couldn’t have had a more storybook ending to such an amazing career.

 

I can’t do his career justice in this piece.  I’d need 5,000 words to even crack the surface and since this piece isn’t just on Vin I can’t do it.  But it is a style that we’ll never see again.  The man was seemingly flawless in the way he called the game.  He had the perfect feel for the moment, and never would look to overshadow the moment like so many play by play men do today.  He was a minimalist when he had to be, and the most incredible story teller you’ve ever heard when he had to be.  He did it without a colour commentator!!  He was so good that he didn’t need anyone else to talk to, I don’t think I can ever put into words how amazing that is!  There are so many tremendous Vin Scully calls, but this one may have been his greatest:

 

 

So that was bittersweet, but just when you felt like the day was done and getting ready to watch the final football game of the day, news broke of a sports legend having finished up on the 18th hole.

 

The first person I ever knew about in golf was Arnold Palmer.  Jack Nicklaus had more titles, but Arnold Palmer was the name, the face of the sport.  And remember, I grew up in the 90’s.  This was after Jack was 50.  He had won all of his 18 majors by then.  Yet if I heard golf I would think Arnold Palmer.  To be fair to what else happened yesterday, he didn’t get cheated.  He had been out of the spotlight for a few years, and while at age 87 we did get robbed of some time, we were lucky to have so many years with such a legend.  95 professional wins, 62 on the PGA tour, 7 major championships, and likely the greatest ambassador the sport of golf has ever had.  Earlier in this piece I spoke about “the King”, referring to Felix Hernandez.  Lebron James has that nickname as well.  But Arnie was the first to have that moniker, and he deserved every bit of the nickname “the King”.

 

Sad day.  Exciting day.  Stunning day.  Action packed day.  Incredible day.  I don’t know if this piece was anything good, but there was just too much happening to not touch on all of it, and this was the best way I knew how.  September 25th, 2016 won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

NFL Week 3 Answers and Hot Takes

bradfordI should probably come up with a better title for this, because it started as a joke.  But now that I’ve started doing it (at least for now), I kind of like talking seriously about what I’ve just watched and examining things.  I don’t know if YOU like it, but I don’t give a damn about what any of you think, or if you read my stuff, or if you like me in anyway.  I’m kidding, I’m REALLY needy so all that stuff is a total lie.

 

Well I was wrong about Sam Bradford.  Man, for him to step in there and look good on Sunday night, and then go to Carolina and get the win without Adrian Peterson is mighty impressive!  I know he didn’t have great numbers, but that Carolina D is one of the best in the NFL.  Sharp guys like Cris Collinsworth, Colin Cowherd and likely Chris Cuthbert and Charlie Conway because they also have those initials were saying all along it was a great trade by Vikings GM Rick Speilman and I didn’t listen.  Always listen to those much smarter than you kids!

 

I guess Aaron Rodgers is ok afterall hey?  I sat there last Sunday night and marvelled at how he played, yet everyone shit on him this past week.  Did they not realize how good the Vikings D was?!  Right now they could be the top unit in the league.  Rodgers played real good, just didn’t get the bounces.  Jordy Nelson looks like he’s now getting it going so that’ll help a ton.

 

The Ravens aren’t the worst 3-0 team of all time, but don’t let that record fool you.  Buffalo, Cleveland, and Jacksonville, and in none of them in impressive fashion.  I’m starting to wonder if after this season it won’t be time for a coaching change there.  John Harbaugh is real good, but this is his 9th season with the team, might just simply be time for a change.  But if they make the playoffs that won’t happen and with a 3-0 record it’ll be tough not to.

 

Well Trevor Siemian will now be hailed as a great young QB.  Impressive win, no doubt.  But people, nobody has any real film on him yet.  The Bengals didn’t have any respect for the Broncos passing game, and Gary Kubiak knew this would be the case, so they put it up.  Maybe I’ll be very wrong about this, but I believe the more the league is going to see of Trevor Siemian, the more they’re going to expose him.  Remember, Brock Osweiler started like this when he took over last season.  Slowly but surely Osweiler got exposed.  Guaranteed Ron Jaworski will be on PTI this week talking about how great he thinks Siemian will be, and maybe he will be.  But Jaws thinks everyone is going to be amazing.  Let’s see what happens before we go one way or another on this kid.

 

Man, was I EVER wrong about the Bucs/Rams and the Seahawks/Niners!  That’s the NFL for you.  Seemed like such obvious bets.  And sometimes Vegas is baiting you with lines that seem to good to be true, but I really don’t think that was the case in either of these tilts.  The Rams go to Tampa and beat the Bucs?!  HOW?!?  Russell Carrington Wilson even left the game, and the Niners still looked like the Jim Tomsula led Niners!  Betting football makes you want to rip out your hair…if you have hair…I do.  This week felt so much worse than a 3-2 week for me.

 

One of the reasons I was 3-2 and not 2-3 was the Colts late TD to beat the Chargers.  If you are ripping Andrew Luck for their problems then you aren’t watching them play and should there for shut the f*** up, because the supporting cast for Luck is just disgusting.  No O-line, no D, no running game, average coaching, it’s just horrendous.  Yet, did you see that bullet he fit in there to T.Y. Hilton?!  He’s awesome, and so not the problem in Indy.

 

I’d love to know what the heck that was from the Steelers.  I’ll admit, that’s a pretty impressive win by the Eagles, but that makes one win against a good team and none against a good defense.  I do think though that the Eagles have a heck of a head coach in Doug Pederson, who in turn will make Carson Wentz great, and in turn will make the Eagles a real good team for a real long time.  But the Steelers are Super Bowl favourites in the AFC, and it’s because of how great their offense is, and they put up 3 points.  That’s it.  And they weren’t going against the Seahawks in Seattle, not against the Panthers in Charlotte, not against the Vikings in Minny.  The Eagles D doesn’t suck, but it isn’t THAT good.

 

I don’t think I’m wrong on Dak Prescott, but I am ready to admit that he is good enough with that O-line, those weapons to throw to, and that running game.  He’ll at worst keep them in it until Romo gets back.  He’s great between the 20’s, but clearly has a ways to go in the redzone where the field gets a lot smaller and defenses usually step up.  No coincidence that he just has the one TD thus far, but with this team that’s ok.  What he could allow the Cowboys to do is build a powerhouse in the next couple seasons.  Having to spend next to no money on your QB gives a team amazing flexibility, just ask the Seahawks.

 

And finally I can’t end this piece without ending it the way I started it by admitting I was very wrong.  I was wrong about the Sam Bradford trade, and I was very VERY wrong about the Chicago Bears this season.  I really thought the ingredients were there for them to sneak up on people this season.  John Fox has been a real good head coach and you could see them really improve a lot from September to December last season.  Two good wideouts, good young RB’s, some talent on D with a coach who knows how to develop his defensive talent, and a QB who leaves you wanting a lot more but is good enough to win games.  Nope.  They didn’t even look interested last night.  And hey, last night Jay Cutler was obviously out, but in the first two games he looked awful, as has the rest of the team.

 

One more game to go before we put a wrap on week 3 and it’s the 10th anniversary of the Saints coming home to New Orleans.  They were supposed to get blown out in that game.  Falcons were 2-0, that was when Michael Vick was expected to essentially start dominating the league, and instead that was the beginning of the Saints becoming a force in the league, and turned out to be the final year of Vick’s tenure with the Falcons.  And then you have Steve Gleason’s story, it’ll be a great watch tonight.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

NFL Week 3 Picks ATS

chip-kelly-07010caae92b42f1Sorry for how late I am with this weeks picks.  I know you all sit there with massive anticipation all week for this blog to come out, and here I am making you wait another hour.

 

I remember when I was little my mom was going to bring home McDonald’s on a Friday night, and McDonald’s was giving away these Super Mario toys and the last one to come out was Luigi.  I don’t recall how I knew, but I knew Luigi came out that Friday so mom was going to bring home McDonald’s for supper.  The anticipation for this was immense.  6:00 came…she wasn’t home.  6:30, nothing.  7:00, STILL NOT HOME.  I had to wait for that toy until 7:30!  I wanted to eat McDonald’s while watching Full House and Family Matters, and instead I had to eat it while watching Perfect Strangers and whatever other crap they put on last during TGIF!  I still haven’t spoken to my mother since that day…

 

Oh yeah, the picks.  7-4 so far!  Looking solid, but that can change in a hurry.

 

Baltimore at Jacksonville

Jags +2.5

This is up to 2.5 this morning, I got it at Jags +1, but whatever, Jacksonville wins this outright.  2nd week in a row for Baltimore on the road, Jags are desperate at 0-2, Ravens have been an unimpressive 2-0, I don’t like the Jags that much this season and I think the Ravens will at least be in the AFC playoff hunt, but I’m taking the home dog in this one.

 

Washington at NY Giants

Redskins +3.5

Me calling them the Redskins won’t make overly PC people happy.  Oh well, I’m not overly PC so why act like I am.  Again here we have an 0-2 and there for desperate team facing a 2-0 team that has been underwhelming in their two victories.  In their two wins, it came down to the final moments for the Giants, and those were against the Saints and the Cowboys.  The Cowboys, who had it come down to the wire against the Redskins last week.  No reason to believe this won’t be a tight game too, and if I’m expecting a tight game then I’m always going with the team getting 3.5.

 

L.A. at Tampa Bay

Bucs -3.5

I just said that if I expect a tight game that I’m always going with the team getting 3.5.  Well I guess this would mean I’m not expecting a close game?  Damn right I’m not!  This could get ugly for the Rams.  Can’t score TD’s and Jameis Winston is much better than Blaine Gabbert or Russell Carrington Wilson on one good ankle.  Plus, West coast team going to the East coast for an early start, never a good thing.  Not much else to say here, take the Bucs.

 

San Francisco at Seattle

49ers +10

It’s just too many points to give the Niners.  The Niners are coming off playing the Panthers who are a pretty physical team.  But the Seahawks haven’t looked good at all and I believe this line is based off last year’s reputation.  The Niners are much better under Chip Kelly, who’s reputation amongst football fans is completely ass backwards.  And the other thing to consider is do we know if Russell Wilson is 100%?  It’s as if because he played last week with a high ankle sprain that now he’s fine.  He’s not going to be much more healthy this week.  I’ll tell you what, bet the +10, but I won’t be surprised at all if the Niners win this outright.

 

San Diego at Indianapolis

Colts -1

Getting this at -1 is big.  Again, we have a desperate Colts team vs a Chargers team who seem to be dropping like fly’s early in the season.  And the Colts ALWAYS start 0-2.  So while they look like trash, and they are trash quite frankly because their owner is incompetent, their GM is incompetent, their coach seems to be in over his head, and they only have one guy in the organization who knows how to do things and that’s Andrew Luck.  I find it hilarious how some people are starting to pile on Luck.  You do realize he is working with TRASH right?!  He’ll pull this one out for the Colts today, because he’s that damn good.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

NFL Week 2 Answers & Hot Takes

57dc73247eda0-imageSo I started this last week, basically just for something to do.  I’m sitting here trying to write it again, but the same piece will get boring and I probably wasn’t near as funny as I thought I was (and I didn’t think I was too funny!) last week.  So at least for this week, it won’t be the same type of piece.  I actually do have real thoughts on what is going on around the league.  Though I can’t write this without being a smart ass about the shit show going on in Buffalo…

 

Rex Ryan figured out what was wrong with his team and that was his offensive co-ordinator.  I thought that was pretty obvious in that shootout on Thursday that the OC of the offense that put nearly 400 yards on one of the best defenses in the NFL needed to be dusted.  It’s like the old saying goes that if you can’t win a Super Bowl with Tyrod Taylor, then who the hell can you win it with?!  Bills are on there way to 14-2.

 

Man the Browns are bad.  I think what happened to start the game yesterday was Hugh Jackson is that good of a game caller, but once the Ravens coaching staff was able to figure out what they wanted to do and make adjustments the Browns lack of talent got horribly exposed.  The Ravens aren’t BAD, but I don’t know that they’re a playoff team and after the Browns got a 20-0 lead, the Ravens simply rattled off 25 unanswered.

 

Someone, somewhere today will either state with his or her “HOT TAKE” that the Giants are the worst 2-0 team ever.  Why?  Because the Giants and Saints burned him or her on the over which I think was 53.5 and of course it was nowhere near that.  I honestly don’t know why the Giants have only put up 36 points thus far.  They have not looked pretty, but I think they’ll get a lot better because that O-line is going to improve a lot as the season wears on.

 

The questions I had and a lot of people had about the Steelers brutal secondary are quickly getting put to rest.  You can have a flaw like that and win.  If you can get to the QB, it doesn’t much matter how bad your secondary is.  That was the case with the Giants when they won their last two Super Bowls.  I expected Dalton and Green to dominate yesterday, they didn’t.  I expected Kirk Cousins to put up big numbers on them with all the weapons the Redskins have, they didn’t.  And now it’s only one more game until they get Le’veon Bell back.

 

I put it on Twitter yesterday, the Seahawks have now only put up 25 points in seven of their last eight halves of meaningful football.  In the one other half, the 2nd half vs the Panthers in last years NFC divisional playoff game, they put up 24.  Now, that was against good D’s, Russell Wilson wasn’t right yesterday and likely shouldn’t have been playing, and as I said in my picks the Rams have the Seahawks number.  But it is something to keep an eye on moving forward.

 

How about that Falcons pick hey?!  The sharps in Vegas know what the f*** they’re doing!  I give myself no credit for calling that one, just credit for being smart enough to know I’m not that smart and listen to people who are.  A nice little 3-2 performance with my picks ATS, now 7-4 on the season…but it’s EARLY.

 

Finally, the Packers.  Sam Bradford looked pretty good, but you have to remember that the Packers defense has a tendency to make a lot of QB’s look good.  I will say though, for Bradford to have only been there a little over a week and look that good is impressive.  Maybe that trade won’t go down as one of the worst in NFL history, but I need to see more against better before I believe that.  This Sunday though they go to Carolina.  It won’t be near as easy.

 

By the way, as I was watching that game I couldn’t help but think of how awesome it is to watch Aaron Rodgers work.  The guy is at his peak, he is the best in the sport.  Nothing against Cam Newton, but Rodgers just does so many little things out there that Newton, nor any QB in the league does.  Plus he’s mobile, plus his arm is elite, plus he’s accurate, like maybe I’m being a fan boy for him or fan boy for the Packers or fan boy for Olivia Munn but he’s just incredible.  Huge win for the Viks, and the Packers should be fine.

 

Next week is a total dogs breakfast of games.  The best games (Denver at Cincy, Minny at Carolina, the Jets at KC) are all unlikely to be entertaining.  Interesting maybe, but not entertaining.  Man, even the Sunday nighter is Chicago v Dallas.  That is as bad of a Sunday night game as there has been in a while.

 

Nevertheless, it’s the NFL.  There will be storylines all over the place.  You’ll bet it, you’ll play fantasy, and you’ll watch.  So I’ll be back talking about it.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

NFL Week 2 Picks ATS

jeff-fisherA nice little 4-2 start to 2016 for yours truly!  Wasn’t looking great there for a while, but the big thanks goes out to Jack Del Rio for having the balls to call for two, and then Carr and Crabtree for executing that conversion.  So I come into week two with some momentum.  But I can’t lie, I don’t feel great about this week’s picks.  I had to dig on these ones a little harder, and found myself making two or three bets that went against a few of my guidelines.  I still feel confident about them (otherwise I wouldn’t post them), just not AS good as normal.  Here we go.

 

Baltimore at Cleveland

Ravens -5.5

So this kind of goes against my beliefs.  In division, Browns looked awful in week one, Ravens got a win, so it’s an overreaction.  Except in this case, I don’t think it is.  The Browns are awful right now.  Josh McCown was real good a few years ago in a system that made bad QB’s look average and average QB’s look good.  Hugh Jackson can do that too, but the Browns have so little talent on either side of the ball that it’s going to take him a while to turn things around in Cleveland.  I’m not near as high on the Ravens this season as I was last, but I do think they beat this spread.

 

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh

Bengals +3

Short week for the Steelers.  The Bengals don’t have many weapons offensively, but AJ Green is basically two weapons in one.  So he should torch the Steelers piss poor secondary just like he did Revis and the Jets.  Steelers maybe win, but I like the 3 points here and keep in mind that with all the missed extra points now we are seeing WAY more one and two point loses.

 

San Francisco at Carolina

Panthers -13

This one much like the first pick so goes against my line of thinking.  But I really like the Panthers in this spot.  Pissed off for starters about losing yet again to the Broncos.  Probably should have won that game.  The Niners I was higher on than most entering the season and cleaned up riding that theory on Monday.  But they’re on short rest, while the Panthers are on 10 days rest.  And it’s a 10 AM start for the Niners.  West coast team going East is tough and an East coast team going West is tough…though not as tough.  This just has Panthers blowout written all over it.

 

Seattle at Los Angeles

Rams +6.5

They were humiliated on Monday night.  They ALWAYS play the Seahawks tough.  They’re playing their first game in L.A.  And Russell Wilson sounds like he’ll play, but he’s not near 100%.  The Seahawks are so much the better team, but this line is a massive overreaction to what happened on Monday night.  Take the Rams getting points here, taking the Seahawks feels like a sucker bet.

 

Atlanta at Oakland

Falcons +4.5

Listening to Colin Cowherd for almost 10 years now has taught me how to go about this.  He talks a lot of betting on his show.  And he brings on RJ Bell from pregame.com every week to talk about the lines and where the sharp money is going.  When Colin has the same bet as the sharps, I love the bet.  It’s probably 75% over the years.  Well this is one of those.  Everyone would think “Raiders are trending up, Falcons are trending down, take the Raiders”.  The Falcons can still put up points, and the Raiders are likely going to be a little flat after such a massive win last week.  So I think (and frankly hope) the Raiders win this game, but I think it’ll be tight.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

Puljujarvi To Bakersfield

2126110_Normally when I write my stuff, I try to have a somewhat entertaining opening.  Yet the paragraph below is what I came up with.  I don’t think you can count what I’m saying now, it’s not really entertaining.  It’s just me talking about me.  Me, sitting on my couch, writing, watching the Bills and Jets ruin my teaser bet I made on the game, occasionally flipping over to watch an increasingly depressing Jays team, having forgot to put on pants after work, it’s just not good.

 

It really gets going this weekend doesn’t it?  “The puck drops” on the World Cup and as critical as I’ve been of it, the quality of hockey looks promising…even though it’s a total gimmick and means nothing.  Add to that, the rookie tournament’s get going this weekend, and for Oilers fans that means they’ll finally have a chance to see Jesse Puljujarvi hit the ice, as he was hurt during the rookie camp back in July.  But outside of preseason, I kind of hope Oilers fans don’t see him in an Oilers uniform for a while after October 8th.

 

Of course this blog was a lot more witty this time last week, prior to the team bringing in Kris Versteeg on a PTO.  And prior to that, Darcy McLeod brought it up on Lowetide’s show that it was the smart move.

 

To me Versteeg is a virtual lock to get a deal and stick.  So it’ll either be Yakupov or Puljujarvi’s spot that he’s taking.  And this organization has been attempting to show more patience with the kids the last few seasons.

 

Don’t forget, last year they tried to keep Darnell Nurse and Leon Draisaitl in Bakersfield.  The ridiculous amount of injuries forced their hand, otherwise I believe Draisaitl would have been there for 30-40 games, and Nurse would have spent the whole season there.

 

The Oilers reputation for rushing there kids is unwarranted when it comes to who people are referring to when they say that, but yet it is warranted…if any of that just made sense.

 

They didn’t rush Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Justin Schultz or Nail Yakupov.  They had no choice with Hall and Yakupov, Schultz obliterated the AHL with 48 points in 34 games, and Eberle was ready to play after two extra seasons in Regina.  Nugent-Hopkins you can probably argue it either way.  Talent wise he was ready as he showed with 52 points in just 62 games.  But a lot of things could have been worked on with an extra season in Red Deer that has perhaps stunted his growth as a player.  But these are who most believe they rushed.

 

The real answer as to whom they’ve rushed lies with guys no longer with the team, and all the way back to 2007.  No way Ladislav Smid should have been in the NHL in 2007.  Andrew Cogliano could have used a year in the AHL.  Sam Gagner REALLY needed another season in London, if not two.  Magnus Paajarvi is the one that REALLY bothers me because there was zero reason with Hall and Eberle both on the team in 2010-11 to not send Paajarvi to OKC for the season as a 19 year old.  And then the next season it was the same thing with Anton Lander.  Sure, Lander has seen more than his fair share of time in the AHL.  But that first season in North America the NHL should have been a rumour to him, nothing more.

 

Why do they need Puljujarvi on the team right now?  He isn’t going to make them much better than they already are.  As an Oiler fan, I’d much rather see him get comfortable playing in North America, work on his 200 foot game and see first unit PP time rather than being on the Oilers third line and maybe fighting for second unit PP time.

 

I’m not saying he can’t make the jump, he can.  But with being able to put him in the AHL right away, a benefit that doesn’t exist with players taken from the CHL, why not take advantage of it?  I’m not even saying they keep him down there all season, but give him 30-40 games down there.

 

I won’t go as far to say “what’s the rush?” because for Oilers fans we all know what the freaking rush is!!!  And he’ll likely shine the brightest of all the kids in Penticton this weekend with Laine off playing for Finland in the World Cup.  He’ll probably look amazing in preseason too.

 

But the team needs to do the smart thing and send him down, let him get his feet wet, and be certain he’s ready.  Not a chance starting him in the AHL hurts him.  There is a chance starting him in the NHL does.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

It’s Become Clear

jays-rockedWhy can’t people figure out how to use a four way stop?  Every freaking day I pull up to a four way stop and every day…LITERALLY EVERY DAY some schmuck is sitting there looking at me.  He or she pulled up to that sign well before I did, yet there they are, starring at me, wondering why I’m not going.  Like, I don’t want to see people get shot, but in that moment a part of me wouldn’t mind seeing these people get shot, or at least shot at.  If they do get shot, not to kill, that would be too far.  But maybe in the leg, or shoulder?  You know, just a heads up for them that says “hey, schmuck…learn to drive.  Mmm k?”

 

So yesterday was my breaking point.  Mike Wilner is a level headed Jays broadcaster and he’ll never say it.  Andrew Stoeten is maybe the best follow for Jays fans on Twitter, he blogs on the team and co-hosts the Birds All Day podcast, and he’ll never say it.  Buck Martinez, Pat Tabler, nobody will say it.  I’m saying it.  The Jays are done.

 

I have to shout out to my buddy Chris Roberts for calling this before anyone else.  Back in late August he tweeted that he thought they were falling off and would down the stretch, and I mocked him.  Idiot!  He was spot on in this assessment, and I was a moron!  But I’m more worried about getting it right than being right.

 

“Yeah, the division is a lost cause”.  Nope.  “Well they’ll still get a wildcard spot”.  Nope.  They’re done.  Sabermetric guys would tell me I’m a moron, and there is no doubt this team is still going to make the playoffs.  “It’s baseball!  It ebs and flows like this all the time, they’re just in a slump.”  No, they’re done.  I’m not meaning to be a downer for anyone, it’s just the fact of the matter.

 

For starters, this offence has been trending down all season.  It’s gradually gotten worse and worse.  And yes, the lineup is very flawed.  1-9 this team has a lot of the same guy.  Don’t have a true leadoff hitter which is like a closer.  Any analytics guy will tell you needing a closer or a leadoff hitter is a myth, but both spots are mental.  We saw it last season with Troy Tulowitzki.  He just was never comfortable in that role, where Ben Revere was.  But more than that, they don’t have enough contact guys, and they don’t have enough lefty/righty balance.

 

With so many flaws, pitchers can figure out how to beat you.  Lefties who were getting destroyed by this lineup last season are now having solid outings against them, and righties who were better against them last season are now completely shutting them down, especially righties who have heavy stuff.

 

Add to that, the pitching staff has comeback to earth.  Marco Estrada has to be spot on with his stuff, and when he’s not he’s getting shelled.  Well lately he hasn’t been spot on and has gotten rocked a lot!  Happ has been coming back to earth a bit of late, neither one of Dickey or Liriano can really be trusted (even though Liriano was solid last time out), Sanchez now has blister problems and hasn’t been the same of late either, and Stroman is fine but despite what some think of him, he’s just simply not an ace.  He has ace type makeup, but at his best he’s only a number 2 or 3 guy in a rotation.  An ace can completely shut a lineup down.  At his best Stroman is allowing 2 or 3 runs.  Not a knock on the kid, I’m a massive fan of his!  But if he’s your top pitcher it’s not great news for your staff.

 

That’s not just limited to the starting staff either.  Joe Biagini is now getting hit.  Jason Grilli is coming back to earth.  Joaquin Benoit isn’t lockdown like he was for his first month.  Scott Feldman just simply sucks.  And Brett Cecil is just now a lefty specialist anymore.

 

So everyone flat out sucks right now.  That’s pretty simplistic to say.  And it’s pretty simplistic for me to say the team is done.  But it feels like the team knows they’re done too.

 

Look at the celebration from the team on Monday night after the 3-2 win against Tampa.  They celebrated as hard over that win as they did after the last win against the Yankees last season which essentially clinched the AL East crown.  A 3-2 win against the lowly Tampa Bay Rays.  When you celebrate like that, it’s as if you didn’t REALLY believe you could win.

 

I remember thinking that same thing during a Yankees/Jays game last year.  August 14th of last year, the Yankees came into the game against the Jays, at Rogers Centre with just a 0.5 game lead in the division and the Jays were coming on real strong.  Carlos Beltran hit a 3 run bomb in the top of the 8th to give the Yanks a 4-3 lead, and the vibe you got from the Yanks dugout was somewhat of shock.  When I win betting football, I’m a hell of a lot more excited about that than I am when I get a paycheck.  Point is, if the Jays had any confidence right now it wouldn’t have been much of a celebration at all about a 3-2 win vs Tampa.  Instead, it was party time.  Not a good sign.

 

It sucks to say after such a great season, but it happens.  The Jays aren’t even the biggest collapse this baseball season.  The Giants, the three time World Series champion San Francisco Giants are in a total free fall as well right now.  And I don’t think this will be it for this group of the Jays.  They’ll be retooled this offseason, but I believe they’ll still be a favourite in the AL East, at least until the Yankees are fully rebuilt.

 

The fan in me desperately hopes I’m wrong, but the realist in me knows they’re done.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

NFL Week 1 Answers & Hot Takes

baylesseyesAfter playing fantasy football, everyone’s favourite pastime when it comes to the NFL is to breakdown what happened on Sunday.  You all have that buddy who wants to tell you “I had that” after the fact.  They won’t tell you about their bets before hand, but they’ll tell you if they ever win.  And we are all spot on with our assessments of what happened.  It isn’t possible in the NFL for a team to have an off game.  It must be that whatever happened in that game is what that team now is.  The one thing we all know is how the rest of the season is going to workout based solely on one week of play.  So because of that, I’m starting a new weekly piece (at least I’m hoping I can keep it up to be weekly) breaking down all the information we now have and how obvious it will now be to see how the rest of the season will go.

 

To start I have to go all the way back to Thursday night, where it was pretty evident that Cam Newton and the Panthers won’t ever recover from the loss to the Broncos in Super Bowl 50, and Trevor Siemian is better than Peyton Manning was…not just last season.  Had that kick been made…Newton proved why he was the MVP and the Broncos are hapless without Manning.  But the kick was missed.

 

In Philly it’s become pretty obvious that Carson Wentz is going to be the NFL rookie of the year.  There are very few people on the planet who have beat the Cleveland Browns.  Many other QB’s, sure, but not people.  HOT TAKE: I  don’t see how the Eagles don’t win the NFC East now.

 

I’m thinking the Bears, Jags, Falcons, Titans and Bills are all done, while the Texans, Packers, Bucs, Vikings and Ravens all looked amaze-balls as the children say these days.

 

Hey woah!  Hold on just a minute!  I’m not simply shitting on the losers and heaping all the glory on the winners.  Saints and Raiders played an amazing game, MAYBE the best game ever.  And the Bengals and Jets, woah!  Can you imagine if THOSE TWO meet in the playoffs?!  Can you?  Can you imagine that?  Can you imagine anything?  Anything at all?

 

Seattle is done.  Sure they won.  But at home, against a Dolphins team that sucks because we say so, I’d be surprised if the Seahawks went 6-10.  They really missed out on those two extra wins you receive for winning by 20.  Oh, and I had that.  Totally called everything in this game happening.

 

San Diego is the worst team ever, they’ll go 0-16.  It looked like they were on their way to the AFC crown when they jumped out to a 24-3 lead at Arrowhead against a Chiefs team that is overrated because we say so.  But then they blew it so they’re clearly terrible.  Had the Chiefs won a close game that they nearly blew then they would be awful too.  But because it was an exciting comeback I find myself asking…are these the 85 Bears?

 

Finally, it’s time for my SCOLDING HOT SOUP TAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s time for Tom Brady to retire.  Clearly the Pats are now Jimmy Garappolo’s team, and Brady is done.  I don’t see what keeps Garappolo out of the hall of fame at this point honestly.  A Garoppolo v Wentz Super Bowl is in the offing.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

NFL Week 1 Picks ATS

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Gamblor is back leaving a path of destruction as week one of the NFL season really gets started in just a few hours.  Of course, Gamblor isn’t so much a monster, but rather a great friend and companion if you’re good at betting the NFL.

 

Hopefully this goes a lot better than my college picks did last weekend.  And college is what I do well.  I’ve had REAL shitty luck betting the NFL the last few years.  I guess we’ll see if that changes, starting today.  I’ll give six picks since I’m feeling generous today.

 

Chicago at Houston

Bears +6.5

Well if you’ve read my season preview/prognostication stuff, then you know I have taken a liking to the Bears a lot more than most.  I just think they’ll be sneaky good this season.  They were a lot better than expected last season, and this season they’re getting no love at all while having an improved roster.  Houston meanwhile I’m just not that high on.  I know they won the division last season, but I don’t trust Brock Osweiler that much, and that defense can’t carry them forever.  More so than all of this, I just feel like 6.5 is too many points.  I should add, I got this game at 6.5, I see though it’s down to 5.  I’m still taking the Bears at +5.  Sure, the Texans probably win, but I really like the Bears to keep this game tight.

 

Minnesota at Tennessee

Titans +2.5

There won’t be many points scored in this game.  You might need to put money on it to have it be anything watchable.  The Vikings are a real solid team without Teddy Bridgewater, but I still think it’s far fetched to make Shaun Hill a favourite on the road.  And I have really liked what I’ve heard and seen from the Titans in the preseason.  It feels as if they’ve found an identity with this great running game.  This time of year, everyone is equal.  Fresh start for everyone.  I like the Titans to pull off a minor upset here at home, so I really like them getting 2.5 points.

 

Oakland at New Orleans

Raiders +2.5

This one is pretty simple.  I think the Saints are living off their past and the Raiders are the future.  This is where the two sail past each other.  It does worry me that I find this to be so obvious, yet the Raiders have been given more points as the week’s gone on.  Maybe Vegas is looking to f*** me, but I feel better putting my money on the Raiders getting points than I do the Saints giving points because I simply believe the Raiders are a much better team, and all wrong for the Saints.

 

Tampa Bay at Atlanta

Bucs +2.5

I’d love this if it was the Bucs giving 2.5.  They’re getting points?!  Take the Bucs.  Just like the pick above this, these teams are switching places.  The Falcons I feel are getting the love on the line because of what they’ve done, and the Bucs are the dogs because of what they’ve done.  But the Bucs are about to contend for the playoffs, and the Falcons are just very flawed.  Jameis Winston is going to shred this Falcons D.

 

NY Giants at Dallas

Giants pick’em

I got this at a pick’em, but at last glance it was the Giants -1 and that may still be moving.  The Giants have been a mess the last few seasons.  But they’ve upgraded the D a lot.  The O-line should be much improved.  And while the jury will be out on Ben McAdoo as head coach, it was clear the change was needed.  I know Dak Prescott looked great in preseason…it was PRESEASON.  If the Cowboys are going to survive, they need their D to massively overachieve, especially on the D-line.  When Eli Manning has time to throw, he’s elite.  Giants are going to win this one going away.

 

L.A. at San Francisco

49ers +2.5

I’m at a loss as to what the Rams have done to deserve being favoured in this game.  I’m not nearly as low on the Niners as a lot of people are mainly because Chip Kelly can make chicken salad out of chicken shit on offense.  So I expect the Niners to move the ball a little bit in this game.  Meanwhile, I don’t trust Case Keenum to do that at all for the Rams.  He will have to beat the Niners, because I’m sure they’ll stack the box against Todd Gurley.  So then who does Keenum have to throw to?  Exactly.  Niners getting points at home, I’ll take that all day.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

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