Why The Patriots Are Still The Team To Beat in The AFC In 2018

At the midway point of the 2018 NFL season, the New England Patriots are 6-2 in the AFC East, The only other competition the Patriots face are the 7=1 Kansas City Chiefs. Earlier in the season, the Patriots handed the Chiefs their first loss of the season. In this post, we will examine three reasons why the Patriots are still the team to beat in the AFC.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Why The Patriots Are Still The Team To Beat In The AFC For 2018

Well, Balanced Offense;  At 41 years old the Patriots still have one of the most explosive offennses in football. Forty _One years old  Tom Brady is still the best player in football. Also, in the mix is a healthy Julian Edelman and a new receiver in ex _Brown Josh Gordon.

Although the team lost veteran Danny Amendola to free agency, the Patriot’s are well _stocked at receiver.  In the offseason, the club added ex_ Raider Cordarrelle Patterson. After eight games Patterson has been a valuable acquisition splitting time between running back and receiver. Not to mention a ninety_ five_ yard touchdown return against Chicago.

  Other key offensive contributors have been Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski, receiver Chris Hogan and running back Sony Michel. Michel the team’s 2017 number one pick out of Georgia. After eight games Michel has run for 422 yards and two touchdowns.

  Defensive Issues;  The 2018 Patriot defense is not much different than their defense of a year ago. Free agent signees Adrian Clayborn, Danny Shelton and Jason McCourty have not been effective.

currently, the teams rank 25th among NFL teams in total yards. They have given up 27 passing touchdowns after eight games. On the positive side, the club ranks 14th against the run. If the Patriots have any aspirations of returning to the Super Bowl, the backfield must tighten up.

               A Healthy Brady; At 41 years old Tom Brady still remains one of the best players in NFL history. Brady ranks near the top in every category. Considering the offseason drama regarding the benching of Malcolm Butler the team continues to win with Brady calling the signals.

Looking Ahead;
 As it stands now the AFC championship is between the Patriots and KansCi tyChiefs. Although the team handed the Chiefs their first loss they are still the two best teams in the AFC..If the Patriots can stay healthy then return trip to the Super Bowl is possible. Look for a Patriots Los Angeles Rams meeting in the 2019 Super Bowl.                                      .

 

Time For The Red Sox Pitching Staff To Step It Up

With game one of the ALDS scheduled tonight, it’s time for the Red Sox pitching staff to step it up. Although the team had a franchise high of 108 wins, in 2018 this is where the players earn their salary In this post, we will review three areas why the pitching staff needs to step it up.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Time For The Red Sox Pitching staff to Step It Up                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Eliminated by Houston The Past Two Years;   Although the organization  enjoyed a franchise record of 108 wins, no postseason series celebrations the past two years. The past two seasons the team has gone down in defeat at the hands of the Astros.                                                                                                                                    With free _agent signee, David Price and Chris Sale winless in a postseason series the pressure are on the team and first_ year manager Alex Cora to deliver a playoff series victory If the organization fails to get past the Yankees in round one General Manager Dave Dombrowski’s job may be in jeopardy.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Red Sox Pitching Versus The Yankees, Astros and Indians;  In contrast to the Yankees, Indians, and Astros The Red Sox bullpen ranked 4th in the American League with 50 saves and a 3.75 staff ERA. Closer Craig  Kimbrel  5-1 2.74 ERA and 42 saves is the games best.                                                                                          The Indians bullpen of Cody Allen, Neil  Ramirez, and Andrew Miller are tough to beat on any given night. Houston’s Ken Giles and Roberto Osuna are one of the best in the game.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       As for the starting pitching, all four teams are highly talented  Overall the edge goes to the Astros with the starting staff of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton Bostons David Price, Chris Sale, and Rick Porcello have not won in the postseason throughout their careers.                                                                                                                                                                                                     Level of Talent Compared to last season the Red Sox is better with the additions of JD Martinez, Stephen Pearce, Ian Kinsler, Brandon Phillips and pitcher Nathan Eovaldi.  The key for a successful postseason is to play smart and aggressive.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Decisions After PostSeason ; Regardless of the outcome of the postseason decisions could be made on Red Sox General Manager Dave Dombrowski. Although the team has qualified for the playoffs three years in a row, the organization’s farm system has very few highly ranked prospects.

Why Goaltending will take the Bruins To the Promised Land in 2018/19

With the 2018/19 NHL season set to get underway this week, Bruins fans are optimistic about the upcoming season. With Tampa Bay and Toronto, the teams to beat in the East hopes are high for a successful Bruins season. In this post, we will cover three reasons why goaltending will be the key ingredients for the Bruins to reach the Stanley Cup Finals.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Why Goaltending Will Take The Bruins To The Promise Land In 2018/19

Upgrade In Goaltending; Although Toronto signed John Tavares the Bruins did some moves of their own this offseason. One important move was signing free agent goalie Jaroslav Halak.

In 54 games with the Islanders, last season Halak compiled a 20_-26 record  908 save percentage. As for the playoffs Halak has played in 30 career playoff games while posting a 13-15 record and a 908 save percentage. Halak is is a huge upgrade over last year’s backup Anton Khudobin. Halak’s playoff experience should be a huge help for Tuukka Rask.

Defensive Improvements;  Last season the Bruins had one of the best defenses in the NHL. With the trading of veteran Adam McQuaid, the Bruins added former Devils defenseman, John Moore. Moore who has played in a total of 446 career games has 32 career goals and 67 assists.  Moore who is noted for his speed and puck handling skills will be a definite upgrade on the power play.  Also, his leadership will be a big plus in the locker room.

One other trade in the defensive department was acquiring Stephen Kampfer from the Rangers. Kampfer was part of the Adam McQuaid deal with the Rangers midway through training camp.

Youth Movement; Along with the offseason moves the Bruins continue to grow their roster with younger and quicker players. Last seasons number one draft pick Axel Andersson is competing for a full _time roster spot. With youngsters, Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk, Sean Kuraly, Anders Bjork and Danton Heinen already on the roster look for the Bruins to make life difficult for opposing teams this season.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Looking ahead; Last season head coach Bruce Cassidy guided the Bruins to a 50-20- record for 112 points in the Eastern Conference. With Former Islander John Tavares signing with Toronto goalie Tuukka Rask has a huge task ahead of him along with the rest of the organization.

The Bruins survived Toronto last season in round one of the playoffs, only losing to Tampa Bay in round two. If the Bruins have any hopes of reaching the finals boils down to a balanced scoring attack, solid defense and a well _rested Tuukka Rask.

What We Have Learned From the Patriots After Week One Going Forward In 2018

Anybody who is a fan of the NFL understands you cannot tell how a team will fare after just one game. This past Sunday the Patriots enjoyed their first win of the season with a 27-20 win over the improved Houston Texans. In this post, we will cover three areas on why the Patriots are still a favourite to return to the Super Bowl going forward in 2018.

 

What We Have Learned from the Patriots After Week One Going Forward In 2018

Balanced Attack     Like any Patriots team under Bill Belichick we witnessed a well_ balanced attack in Sunday’s win. Offensively Tom Brady passed for 277 yards On the ground the team rushed for 122 yards for a grand total of 389 yards combined for the day.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Contributing in the effort were Rex Burkhead, James White, and James Devlin In the receiving department, Rob Gronkowski had  7 catches for 168 yards.  Also in the mix was wideout Phillip Dorsett 7 catches for 61 yards. Dorsett had his best day as a Patriot.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Improved Defense  During the course of the game the Patriots put enormous pressure on quarterback Deshaun Watson. Defensively the team had three sacks. Led by Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler and newcomer Danny Shelton.                                                                                                                                                                                      In the defensive backfield area cornerback, Stephon Gilmore was credited with one interception and free agent cornerback JC Jackson had an impressive professional debut by not getting beat on any of Deshaun Watson’s throwing attempts to his side.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Superior Coaching   Despite the offseason loss of defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to Detroit the clubs coaching is still the best in the business. New Defensive  Coordinator Brian Flores had the defense well prepared in Sunday’s win. Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia has a challenge ahead of him due to the loss of Nate Solder. Newly acquired Trent Brown from San Francisco has made an impression. With the loss of number one pick, Isaiah Wynn  the Patriots will meet the challenge

Remaining Games Ahead in 2018    As far as the rest of the games for 2018 the Patriots have their work cut out for the Outside of their division The club faces Chicago, Green Bay, Minnesota, Tennessee, Pittsburgh and Kansas City.  Not to mention a week two rematch with Jacksonville. If the Patriots hope to reach the Super Bowl, then Tom Brady needs dependable protection all season. Also, the team needs Rob Gronkowski healthy for all sixteen games and the playoffs

Why The Red Sox Bullpen Will Determine Their Post Season Success

With three weeks left in the 2018 Major League Baseball season, pitching will decide the outcome of the Red Sox success. The starting pitching has been spectacular. But it will be the bullpen that will determine the Red Sox success In this post, we will review three reasons why the bullpen will be a key factor.

Why The Red Sox Bullpen Will determine Their Post Season success

Depth In The Pitching department

Considering the pitching has been spectacular, they have also been getting quality starts from their fourth and fifth starters. Both Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez have pitched respectably in the absence of Eduardo Rodriguez.

It’s depth like this that have contributed to the teams best season ever. If the club can continue to get valuable performances from their back _end, then the pressure will help the pitching as the club heads into September.

A  healthy Chris Sale

Chris Sale has been on the Disabled list since August 3rd with shoulder inflammation. Recently Sale has been throwing on the sidelines and is expected to return in September

Sale 12-3  had pitched superbly before going on the disabled list. Since then the club has been getting valuable contributions from Nathan Eovaldi, Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez.

Getting contributions like this that has propelled the team to the best record in franchise history.  Righthander Nathan Eovaldi acquired at the trade deadline, has provided a considerable boost for manager Alex Cora.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           E

Exceptional Closer

Along with having a deep bullpen the organization has one of the best closers in the game in Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel 4-1 37 saves is one of the teams most valuable players.

A club that has a Craig Kimbrel has an advantage. If the Red Sox expect to win in the post_ season, then Kimbrel will be a key factor.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         The Stretch Run                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The season of 2018 has been a historic one to say the least. The club is on it’s to a 110 win season, With new additions JD Martinez the post season will be very exciting.

Three Of The NHL’s Most Improved Teams Heading Into The 2018/19 Campaign

With the Major League Baseball season, almost three quarters over NHL training camps are a month away. With the offseason activity completed, it’s time for hockey fans to focus on the upcoming season. In this post, we will break down three of hockey’s most improved teams

Three Of The NHL’s Most Improved Teams Heading Into the 2018/19 Campaign

Carolina Hurricanes Out of all the teams in the NHL the Hurricanes were the busiest. Beginning with a five _player trade with Calgary the Hurricanes said goodbye to Noah Hanifan.

As part of the five_ player deal, the club received defensemen Dougie Hamilton and winger Michael Ferland. Also, the team signed free agent defensemen Calvin De Haan. de Haan is noted for his tough style of play that Carolina lacked last year. As for the goaltending, the club signed Petr Mrazek from Philadelphia. Mrazek will provide depth provide depth for the disappointing Scott Darling.

Overall, the Team finished 23rd in  Goals Against Average With the addition, of Hamilton, DeHaan the Hurricanes defense should be improved. Also, goaltender Petr Mrazek provides depth to back up Scott Darling. If the club sticks to its game plan Head coach Rod Brind’ Amour’s team has a chance at the playoffs.

Arizona Coyotes Head coach RickTocchets Coyotes suffered a disappointing 29-41 season last year.   With the Coyotes finishing at the bottom in every category the organization had a hectic offseason.

The first major move was sending Max Domi to Montreal all for center Alex Galchenyuk. In Galchenyuk, the club gets a proven scorer. Scoring 19 goals and 32 assists last season he also has played in 418 postseason games.

In other moves, the team acquired winger Michael Grabner from the Devils. Grabner is an excellent skater who brings a physical presence.  Also competing for a roster spot is center Brad Richardson from Vancouver Vinnie Hinostroza from Chicago and right winger Nick Cousins from the Flyers. All players should provide depth to a weak offensive team.

As for the goaltending department, Antti Raanta had an impressive season compiling a 21-17-6 for a 224 Goals Against Average   Backup Darcy Kuemper provides relief. Kuemper was 12-7-5 with a 252 Goals Against. With new faces and strong goaltending, the Coyotes could well be the surprise of the west this year.

Toronto Maple Leafs Out of all the teams in hockey, the most exciting to follow were the Leafs. The Leafs landed the biggest fish of all in winger John Tavares. Tavares agreed to an eight _year deal .In Tavares, the team gets one of the most prolific players in the NHL. Tavares along with Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews and center Nazee Kadir the Maple Leafs are a threat to win the East. Plus free agent Tyler Ennis. Veterans James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak found new homes.  With the signing of Tavares Toronto becomes a favourite to win the East. The only catch with so much offense the Leafs finished 13th in GAA. Goaltender Frederik Andersen fell apart in the playoffs.  If Toronto can play quality two_ way hockey and give Andersen the protection he needs the Maple Leafs should go deep in the playoffs.

Why Ian Kinsler Is An Upgrade For The Red Sox

Now that the Major League trade deadline has passed Red Sox fans should be happy, as the club traded for veteran infielder Ian Kinsler. The organization obtained Kinsler for two minor league prospects.

. In Kinsler, the club gets a quality replacement for the injured Dustin Pedroia. In this post, we will examine three areas why the Red Sox needed offense over relief pitching.

Why Ian Kinsler Is An Upgrade For The Red Sox

Upgrade Defensively
  Since the injury to Dustin Pedroia, the team has been shuffling Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt at second.  In Kinsler, the club is getting a thirteen_ year veteran. Kinsler who has a career batting average of 272 has 247 home runs and 871 runs batted in.. Defensively he has a 981 fielding percentage over a span of 8400 chances. Playing in1,719 games Kinsler is still a quality everyday player.

 Compared to Pedroia the two are similar in their style of play. Kinsler was a seventeenth round pick in 2002 while Pedroia was drafted by Boston the following year. With Pedroia out with a knee injury, the Red Sox are getting a player who the fans will hopefully appreciate like they did Pedroia.  All factors considered Kinsler is a  quality upgrade over substitutes Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez.

   Strong Bullpen

  General Manager Dave Dombrowski did not add any new arms to assist the bullpen. The club has been getting substantial contributions from All _Star closer Craig Kimbrel.


  In addition to Kimbrell Boston has been getting valuable contributions from Matt Barnes3-3-3.57, Heath Hembree 4-1 3.65, Joe Kelly 3-0 1.57, Ryan Brasier, and Tyler Thornburg.

                                                                                                                                                                            Stretch Run

 Since opening day 2018 General Manager Dave Dombrowski has been very proactive in improving the team’s roster. The club acquired veteran first baseman Steve Pearce from Toronto. Late last week the team traded for Ray’s pitcher righthander Nathan Eovaldi. In Eovaldi’s first start he shutout the Tigers on 82 pitches.

 With the best record in baseball at 75-34, Boston needs to get dependable pitching from its starters. With Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez on rehab, every start is crucial. If the team hopes to achieve success in the postseason, then it all comes down to the pitching.

Why The Patriots Defense Is Super Bowl Material

Now that Super Bowl 52 is in the record books it’s time to open another chapter for the New England Patriots. The Patriots are coming off a stunning loss at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles. Of course, the story of the game was backup quarterback Nick Foles. Foles took over late in the season after an injury to starter Carson Wentz. Foles put the critics behind him and led the underrated Eagles to a 41-33 victory. Not to mention throwing for 373 yards and compiling a 97.5 % passing rating. But through everything Patriots, fans have reason to be optimistic for the upcoming 2018 season. In this post, we will review three areas why the Patriots defense is Super Bowl material.                                                                                                                                                                                Why The Patriots Defense Is Super Bowl Material

Improved Front Seven                                                                                                                        Anyone who is a fan of Bill Belichick knows how much he thrives on depth and versatility. Despite not playing Malcolm Butler in The Super Bowl he retooled the defense in the offseason.                                                                                                             Previous Patriot defenses have a reputation for their strong front seven. The first order of business was to improve the pass rush which was non_ existent in the Super Bowl.  Free agent defensive end Adrian Clayborn was signed from Atlanta. Clayborn Clayborn a seven_ year veteran has started 81 career games. The former 1st round draft pick by Tampa will provide depth and pass rushing skills                                                                                                                                              In addition to  Clayborn the team signed defensive tackle Danny Shelton from Cleveland. Shelton a three_ year veteran has played in 46 career games totaling 71 career tackles. If Clayborn and Shelton can stay healthy, then they should be a vast improvement in stopping the oppositions running game.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Improved Pass Coverage                                                                                                                       In 2017 the club gave up a total of 4400 yards passing. In the Super Bowl, Foles had a career day throwing for 373 yards To shore up the defensive backfield Belichick drafted cornerback Duke Dawson out of Florida. Dawson who has a reputation of being an exceptional cover man and should provide depth when the team goes to dime coverage.                                                                           Also joining the backfield is former Brown Jason McCourty. McCourty, the younger brother of safety Devin, brings eight years experience to the organization. Overall, McCourty has played in 122 career games with 16 interceptions and one touchdown.                                                                                                  With the addition of his brother Devin and Stephon Gilmore, the backfield should be much more dangerous in pass coverage.

Fresh Outlook                                                                                                                                              With a new defensive coordinator in Brian Flores, the Patriots have reasons to be optimistic this year. Even though the team lost one of the best defensive minds in the game in Matt Patricia, the Patriots defense should be better with the acquisitions of Shelton and Clayborn on the line. Also, keep in mind 2016 3rd round pick Derek Rivers. Rivers was one of the teams four picks in the deflate_ gate scandal. Rivers who is a pass rushing specialist out of Youngstown State. Rivers suffered a season_ ending knee injury during pre_ season last summer. If he can recuperate from surgery, look for him to compete for a starting position as an edge rusher.,

Three Trade Scenarios For The Red Sox As Trade Deadline Approaches

The beauty of being a sports fan is following the trade deadline of each major sport. Primarily the trade deadline means that teams in the hunt can gain a player otherwise known as a rental. In this post, we will review three areas which hopefully the Red Sox will address on July 31st.

Three Trade Scenarios For the red sox as the Trade Deadline  Approaches

Move On From Jackie Bradley Jr

As it stands now Bradley is hitting a subpar 200 with 6 home runs and 25 runs batted in.  Make no mistake about it that he is one of the best center fielders in the game. But at the same time, he fails to deliver clutch base hits when needed. Despite the club having the best record in baseball, they will have to get key base hits from the bottom of the order if they expect to keep pace with the Yankees in the AL East..

With the organization lacking prospects Bradley is one chip with marketable trade value. One club who is in need desperately of outfielders is the Marlins. The Marlins are in dead last in the National League East  Two players who could be available are relievers Kyle Barraclough and Drew Stenkenrider.  Barraclough is ranked eighth among relievers with a 6-2 record and a 1.17 ERA, and 8 saves Stenkenrider is 3-1 with a 2.14 ERA, and 1 save.                                         ,

If Bradley continues his weak hitting the club may have no choice but to use Andrew Benintendi as the center and JD Martinez as the everyday left fielder and Mookie Betts in right field.

Help From Within

The first option that General Manager Dave Dombrowski will explore is help from within. Last season, for instance, the team acquired reliever Addison Reed from the Mets.  As it turns out the  Red Sox are in the same position this season.

One prospect to keep an eye on is southpaw Bobby Poyner. During spring training he earned a spot in the bullpen after gaining manager Alex Cora’s trust in spring training. Poyner has been up and down since the beginning of the season Since being sent to Triple _a Pawtucket he has pitched well  Two other possibilities may be left _hander Ty Buttrey and Travis Lakin: Lakin is 1-2 with a 2.73 ERA at Portland while Buttrey with a 2.11 ERA at Pawtucket.

Starting Pitching

Most teams at the trade deadline would like to shore up their pitching. Clubs like the Yankees, Cubs and Indians will be active.  Teams with the deep farm systems are usually the clubs who are the most successful at the deadline.   Look for the Yankees to be one of the busiest in a couple of weeks as they are rich with Major League ready prospects.

Despite the Red Sox posting the best record in baseball, there is always a need for an additional starter. Two pitchers who may be available are  Matt Harvey of the Reds and James Shields of the White Sox. Shields is in the last year of a four_year contract and would be a  perfect fit considering his experience.                                                                                                                                                                                      As for Matt Harvey, the longtime Met was released in May, and since being claimed by the Reds he has gone 4-3 with a 3.80 ERA. If Harvey can stay healthy and regain his old form he may turn out to be the best deal on the market.

Why The Celtics Should Not Pursue LeBron James Or Kawhi Leonard

With, the 2018 NBA Draft just hours away rumours are thriving around Causeway St. in Boston Since the Celtics went down in defeat in the Eastern Conference Finals against Cleveland the rumour mill is in full swing. In this post, we will cover three reasons why the team should stay pat at pick number27.

Why The Celtics Should Not Pursue LeBron James Or Kawhi Leonard

Brad Stevens Has Full Control                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Unlike the Cavaliers or a LeBron dream team the coach runs the Celtics. In five years Stevens has guided the club from a lottery team to a Finals contender. The squad has averaged 50 plus wins for three years in a row. Last season, for instance, the Celtics were without star players Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving. The result was a 55 win team and a trip to the Eastern Conference finals for the second year in a row.

This year’s Cavaliers club was mostly dysfunctional all season and was accused of quitting against the Warriors. For LeBron, this means the superstar is looking for his third new home. For the Stevens led Celtics the club can either stay at 27 or move up to acquire more assets.

Rumors Of Kawhi Leonard Coming To Boston

If General Manager Danny Ainge signs Kawhi Leonard the club will be getting one of the top five players in the NBA. Leonard who was Indiana’s number one pick in 2011 would give the Green a great two _way_ game.

 

In order to acquire  Leonard, from San Antonio the Celtics would have to break up the team’s nucleus of young players. At this point, it would not seem logical to give up Marcus Smart or Jaylen Brown plus others. With Gordon Hayward almost at 100% along with Kyrie Irving healthy getting Leonard is basically a fabrication.

Only Getting Better

Fora team that lost in the Conference finals two year’s in a row the team is only getting better. Not only will Hayward and Irving almost be fully healthy Ainge will most likely stay at number 27. With rumours of LeBron leaving Cleveland a healthy Celtics team can only get better in 2019. Unless LeBron signs with Philadelphia the Celtics should be a strong contender to with the Eastern Conference.                               _                                                  .