Shanghai Major Teams Announced

Courtesy of, read.navi-gaming.com

Courtesy of, read.navi-gaming.com

The first Major tournament of 2016, The Shanghai Major, will host sixteen of the best Dota 2 teams in the world, competing over five days.  Just as The Frankfurt Major, it will be featuring a prize pool of $3 million, and a double elimination format.  Eight teams were also directly invited, and another eight teams will come from the Regional Qualifiers.  Each Regional Open Qualifiers will be between January 3rd and 6th, and be made up of ten teams.  Following are the directly invited teams, and the teams in the Regional Qualifiers.

Directly Invited

OG

Team Secret

Evil Genius

Ehome

Vici Gaming

CDEC

Virtus.pro

Alliance

 

Although Alliance has had a weak few years, I have a feeling, with the return of EGM and a current meta game that suites their play style, they are the front runners of the entire Major.

Regional Qualifiers

Americas Qualifiers

Leviathan

Power Of Friendship

Archon

Void Boys

coL

Elite Wolves

Shazam

Open Qualifier Winner

Open Qualifier Winner

Now with North Americas strongest team being EG, and with a direct invite to the Major, not much talent is left in the Americas but if I had to pick, I feel coL has the best shot taking this Qualifier bracket, with Void Boys coming in at a close second.  Although I am sort of bias when it comes to Void Boys, as when I used to play there were a few members of Void Boys I know and used to play against. So I always hope to see them do well.

 

Europe Qualifiers

Fantastic Five

Empire

Na`Vi

Team Spirit

Vega

Elements

Liquid

Hell Raisers

Open Qualifier Winner

Open Qualifier Winner

Hands down with the return of Na`vi, they will take the cake on this one.  With Liquid coming in at a hard second, and to be honest, I don’t expect to see much coming out of Hell Raiders or Empire.

 

Southeast Asia Qualifiers

MVP.P

TNC

Sig.Trust

Fnatic

Satuduatiga

Mineski

Execration

First Departure

Open Qualifier Winner

Open Qualifier Winner

With the rise of Mineski at Frankfurt and all the hype surrounding them, they truly haven’t done much since, and honestly I feel like this was just an qualifier pity invite, since they did do very well at Frankfurt, another team I don’t expect to see much out of.  Although on the other hand, expect a lot coming from MVP.P.

 

China Qualifiers

NewBee

IG.Vitality

NB.y

Wings

IG

Fantuan

LGD

CDEC.y

Open Qualifier Winner

Open Qualifier Winner

The group that is easily up for grabs, with big names like NewBee, IG and LGD.  Though the Chinese teams did not have much success at Frankfurt or WCA, Shanghai is their home field.  Expect a lot out of this bracket, these teams are going to be showing up with something to prove.

Week 17 Predictions ATS

GAMES THAT DON’T MATTER

 Dallas Cowboys (PK) over Washington Redskins

Philadelphia Eagles (+3.5) over New York Giants

Detroit Lions (+1.5) over Chicago Bears

Atlanta Falcons (-4) over New Orleans Saints

St. Louis Rams (-3.5) over San Francisco 49ers

 

GAMES THAT MATTER

 

New York Jets (-3) over Buffalo Bills – The Jets clinch a playoff berth with a win in Buffalo. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker might be too much for this Bills secondary. I like the Jets here, but have a really bad feeling about this. The Jets always find a way to break their fans hearts.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+11) over Carolina Panthers – Coming off their first loss, the Panthers can clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win. I like the Panthers to win, but 11 points seems too much. 27-19 Panthers.

 

New England Patriots (-10) over Miami Dolphins – Another scenario where a win can secure home field advantage throughout the postseason. The Dolphins season is over and they don’t care at all. They lost to Charlie Whitehurst! Patriots win big.

 

Cincinnati Bengals (-7.5) over Baltimore Ravens – We’re not sure if A.J McCarron will be the starter, but I’m assuming he will be. The Bengals can still get a first round bye with a win and a Broncos loss. Bengals defense is one of the best in the league and Ryan Mallet is going to struggle. 23-10 Bengals.

 

 

Houston Texans (-6) over Jacksonville Jaguars – The Texans clinch the division with a win against Jacksonville.  If the Jags were home then I would take the points, but I think the Texans show the home crowd a great game. Props to Bill O’Brien for keeping his players motivated after a slow start to the season.

 

  

Pittsburgh Steelers (-10) over Cleveland Browns – With a loss last week, the Steelers don’t control their destiny to the playoffs. They have to win at Cleveland and need the Jets to lose to the Bills. Steelers are going to play mad after the loss against a Ravens team they should’ve killed. Steelers win by two touchdowns.

 

 

Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5) over Oakland Raiders – The Chiefs have won nine straight games after staring the season 1-5. They can somehow win the division with a win and a Broncos loss. They were +1400 to win the division at one point. I can see this being close at half, but Chiefs keep the hot streak alive. 29-22 Chiefs.

 

  

Indianapolis Colts (N/A) over Tennessee Titans – The Colts need so many things to go right on Sunday in order for them to make the playoffs. The Titans can lock up the number one pick with a loss. Can’t believe the Colts are about to miss the playoffs when people had them as a super bowl contender.

 

 

 

San Diego Chargers (+9.5) over Denver Broncos – Broncos clinch a first round bye with a win at home. They can also sneak into the number 1 seed with a win and a Patriots loss. I think there are too many points here. Philip Rivers would love to spoil this game and I think it’ll be close.

 

 

Arizona Cardinals (-7) over Seattle Seahawks – The Cardinals are one of the scariest teams in the NFL. Good luck to whoever has to play them in the first two rounds. Seattle has a chance to cover because if the Panthers are blowing out the Bucs then the Cards might rest their players. Would stay away from wagering on this game.

 

 

Green Bay Packers (-3) over Minnesota Vikings – Packers have won five straight against the Vikings. Aaron Rodgers is having a hard time getting it to his receivers this year and I think hell struggle against a good Vikings defense. I like the under more than I like the spread of the game. Packers 20-16.

 

 

 

Last week: 6-10

Overall ATS: 125-111-4

Teaser Pick of the Week Overall: 8-8

Teaser Pick of the Week (10 points): Steelers PK

Carolina Panthers PK

Patriots PK

New Year’s Eve Bowl Preview

Peach Bowl: #18 Houston Cougars (12-1) vs.  #9 Florida State Seminoles (10-2), 12:00 P.M.

Houston became the automatic qualifying team from a team not in a power five conference by only losing to UConn this season. Their quarterback, Greg Ward, played limited snaps in that game due to an injury. Ward is one of the best dual threat quarterbacks in college football and had over 2500 passing yards and over 1000 rushing yards. With Ward at quarterback the Houston offense was able to average 40.6 points per game on the season. The offense for Houston gets most of the publicity, but the defense only allows 20.5 points per game, which is the tied for nineteenth best in the country. They are particularly good at stopping the run, giving up only 116 yards on the ground per game.

Courtesy of, www.todaysu.com

              Courtesy of, www.todaysu.com

Florida State was one freakish play away from being in consideration for the College Football Playoff. They lost to Georgia Tech and Clemson this year, but got still has a chance to have its fourth straight year of twelve wins. The starting quarterback will be Sean Maguire because Everett Golson will not attend the bowl game due to personal reasons. Maguire doesn’t have much experience, but will have running back Dalvin Cook to help him out. Cook was hampered by a hamstring injury all season, but still managed to gain 1658 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. He will be a frontrunner for the Heisman trophy next season. The Seminoles have great defense that only allows 15.8 points per game. Safety Jalen Ramsey is the most talented player on the defense and has the potential to be a top five pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Courtesy of, noscrubsports.sportsblog.com

 Courtesy of, noscrubsports.sportsblog.com

The Seminoles will be able to contain Ward just enough to halt their drives. Ramsey and the defense will show why they are one of the best in the country.

Capital One Orange Bowl: #4 Oklahoma Sooners (11-1) vs. #1 Clemson Tigers (13-0), 4:00 P.M.

Oklahoma lost to Texas, but still managed to make it to the College Football Playoff game. Quarterback Baker Mayfield is the best walk-on in the country and was snubbed by not being invited to the Heisman Trophy Presentation. The Sooners have three great players on offense with, Mayfield, running back Samaje Perine and wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Mayfield threw 3389 yards, 35 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. He also creates problems for defenses with his mobility. Perine is a great power running back who rushed for 1291 yards and 15 touchdowns. Shepard is a smaller receiver, but was still able to get open and have 1201 receiving yards and 11 receiving touchdowns. Defensively the Sooners turned their horrible pass defense from a year ago into a strength. Cornerback Zack Sanchez has helped hold opponents to 201 passing yards per game, which is impressive considering the number of teams that like to throw the ball in the Big 12. Their rush defense is average, but linebacker Eric Striker will make plays all over the field.

Courtesy of, www.usatoday.com

                 Courtesy of, www.usatoday.com

Clemson went undefeated, but now has to deal with three players being sent home from this game due to failed drug tests. The most notable player is wide receiver Desmond Cain, who was the team’s second leading receiver. The Tigers still have quarterback Deshaun Watson, who accounted for 4399 yards and is also a good dual threat quarterback. Running back Wayne Gallman has helped the offense by rushing for 1332 yards and 10 touchdowns. Without Cain for this game the team’s leading receiver, Artavis Scott, will have to step up even more than usual and have more than the 61 receiving yards he averages per game. The Tigers have a slightly better scoring defense than the Sooners, giving up 20.2 points per game. Defensive end Shaq Lawson has been very disruptive and has played his way into being a likely first round pick in the NFL Draft. Safety Jeyon Kearse covers a lot of space with his 6’5” frame and his 4.4 second 40-yard dash time, which is reminiscent of Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor.

Courtesy of, nfldraftgeek.com

                   Courtesy of, nfldraftgeek.com

Oklahoma has had a lot of things that have happened, which has brought them together as a team. They came together after there was racism on their campus and supported Mayfield when he got snubbed from the Heisman Trophy Presentation. Clemson has the distraction of losing three players for the game. The Sooners will take advantage of this and Mayfield will outplay Watson for the win.

Final Score: Oklahoma 32 Clemson 26

 

Cotton Bowl: #3 Michigan State Spartans (12-1) vs. #2 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1), 8:00 P.M.

Michigan State lost to Nebraska, but beat two top five teams in their last three weeks to make the College Football Playoff. Quarterback Connor Cook has been on fire this season throwing for 2921 yards and 24 touchdowns. He did injure his shoulder this season and miss a few games, but it should be fully healed for this game. Cook’s favorite receiver is Aaron Burbridge, who has 1219 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. The Spartans have used a few running backs this season, but the position isn’t a weakness, but rather a deep position group. Michigan State’s offensive line wasn’t good to start the season, but came on strong in the end of the year. The defense gives up 20.5 points per game this season, but still has people thinking that it isn’t as good as defenses in years past. Defensive end Shilique Calhoun has had as good of a season as possible with 10.5 sacks. Their rush defense has been great and their pass defense has been pretty good as well.

Courtesy of, michiganstate.247sports.com

Courtesy of, michiganstate.247sports.com

Alabama may not be the number one seed, but they are the favorites to win the National Championship. Their defense is what makes this team so impressive. They have the best run defense in the country, as they only allow 74 rushing yards per game, which is the best since the 2011 Alabama team allowed just 72 rushing yards per game. Their pass defense is also good, giving up the seventeenth fewest passing yards per game in the country. Moving cornerback Eddie Jackson to safety this season has improved their pass defense to new heights. On offense running back Derrick Henry has had the greatest rushing year in SEC history by rushing for 1986 yards and 23 touchdowns. The question is still quarterback Jake Coker, who is the least accomplished, but highest recruited quarterback in the Playoff. He passed for 2489 yards, but threw eight crucial interceptions.

Courtesy of, www.gettyimages.com

Courtesy of, www.gettyimages.com

This game is a matchup of what college football looked like in the 1980s. It is going to be a physical game that features a lot of running the ball. Alabama will win because their defense is better than Michigan State’s defense. Henry will not be stopped in this game.

Final Score: Alabama 38 Michigan State 28

Post a comment on the story, the forum or contact me on twitter @DiTullioJoe.

The One Player That Can Save The Reds’ Offseason

Courtesy of, leageez.com

Courtesy of, leageez.com

The Cincinnati Reds have had a terrible offseason so far, and that is probably putting a positive spin on it. There have been failed deals, domestic violence disputes and trades that not many people agree with.

Sadly this is the nature of a rebuilding team. You trade away players that you love and hope that the young players you get in return can someday help your team win a championship.

Where the Reds have gotten extremely young is in their pitching staff. Last year to start the 2014 season the Reds had a starting rotation of Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, and Alfredo Simon. Only one of those 5 remain, Homer Bailey, and he will be recovering from Tommy John surgery until sometime in May or June. That means that there will be 5 relatively inexperienced starters coming out of Spring Training for the Reds if the team stays as is.

I will not be putting my predictions of the rotation for the Reds until they have finished making most of their big moves. As of now the Reds are in full rebuild mode and that means try outs for everyone. This also means that there is a lot of uncertainty for the coming season for the team overall.

Because they are moving most of their veteran players, the Reds lack of experience will put this team in the position to have a lot of growing pains. This will hurt the attendance and excitement of one of the most loyal fanbases in baseball.

With all of the negativity and loss of star players like Todd Frazier, Johnny Cueto, and Aroldis Chapman the Reds front office will have problems convincing the fans to come spend their hard earned money to watch young players develop.

There is one player who is on the free agent market who can help bring some fans to the stadium, be another face alongside Joey Votto (assuming that he is not traded), and he can help be a veteran presence for the young Reds pitching staff.

This player is Bronson Arroyo.

Courtesy of, www.sportsworldreport.com

Courtesy of, www.sportsworldreport.com

Rumors have said that Arroyo would be interested in returning to the Reds. While in Cincinnati the man was beloved by the fans and he seemed to love the city back.

The Reds traded for Arroyo in 2006 when they sent their power hitting outfield Willy Mo Pena to the Red Sox. Arroyo had come off of a decent season with the Red Sox, 14-10 with a 4.51 ERA. These number were not stellar but, he had over 200 innings and this would become something that he would be known for in Cincinnati.

The next season he made his first and only All-Star game in a season where he went 14-11 with a 3.29 ERA, 3 complete games and 240.2 innings which was best in the Major Leagues that year. He was known as a work horse who would give you 200 innings and who would start every 5 days.

Bronson did have his struggles. He was known for giving up the long ball. This was especially true in 2011 when he gave up 46 home runs in one season. While this was a down year he still reached 199 innings, which was his only season that he did not reach at least 200 innings.

Bronson was not only known and loved on the field though. He was also always interacting with the fans.

Reds Fest is a giant party the Reds organization throws for their fans in which they get to meet with the players. They are able to get pictures, win prizes and even play games like poker with some of their favorite players. Bronson Arroyo was almost always at these events and he would normally pick up his guitar and sing for the fans.

He became a fan favorite over the years that he was here. He was the work horse on the field and the laid back, guitar playing, long blonde haired bro off it.

The Reds need a player like Arroyo who can come back and fulfill some of the many needs that they have. He can be a veteran presence for the young pitchers on the field. This will be important because it will allow them to develop more quickly. With Arroyo and Bryan Price leading these young pitchers it would not surprise me if they became one of the better rotations in baseball in a couple years.

Bronson can also help to mend many of the broken hearts of Reds fans. They have already watched Todd Frazier, arguably the most beloved player in recent memory get traded. They have also lost the most exciting closer in baseball, Aroldis Chapman, in a trade to the Yankees. Bringing back a fan favorite would start to help the wounds heal.

The Reds could bring him back on a reasonable deal as well. I could see him getting a contract with similar money that Ryan Vogelsong just got. Maybe 2 million or 3 million per year with incentives. I would also expect a 2 year contract with the second year being a team option.

The Reds have said that they wanted to make sure Bronson was healthy before talking with him, and by all accounts he is healthy. I think that they need to sign him and do it soon. The fan base is already starting to lose hope and things are not going to get any easier for the Reds. For them to do a complete rebuild players like Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce will most likely be traded away sooner rather than later.

Bronson Arroyo would benefit in coming back to a team and city he is familiar with. He would be given the opportunity to help rebuild the franchise and in the future potentially come back as a coach or assistant with the Reds.

If you would like to discuss this then please comment below, tweet at me @roberthaness, or go to our new forum page in the menu and post on there!

Stats courtesy of, Espn.com and Baseballreference.com

Spring Split Incoming, My Predictions

In just about 2 weeks, the 2016 Spring Split will be upon us. This seemed as good a time as any to put in my predictions and expectations for the split, and maybe offer a bit of analysis into my picks. Over the next 2 weeks I’ll be releasing a series of articles giving my analysis of where each team is and how I think they will fare in the coming season. Now, as of today, not every team’s full roster has been announced, so these are subject to changes (which I’ll post in the forum if necessary) but, without further ado, I present to you my 2016 Spring Split NA and EU Predictions!

(Courtesy of zam.com)

(Courtesy of zam.com)

NA Regular Season:

  1. TSM
  2. C9
  3. Immortals
  4. Team Dignitas
  5. Team Liquid
  6. NRG
  7. CLG
  8. Renegades
  9. Echo Fox

 

In every version of this I came up with, I had TSM and C9 at the top. Immortals is a shot in the dark, but they have an incredibly strong roster and I have high expectations. Personally I think this is going to be a great season for Dig. Depending on who replaces Quas, Liquid could move up or down a few spaces. I don’t expect much from NRG, despite having a pretty decent roster, I just don’t see them as a powerhouse. CLG is going to struggle, if they sweep the first weekend I’ll be willing to bump them up, but I predict a mediocre split. Renegades is probably my personal favorite team, but I don’t see them being particularly competitive. Lastly Echo Fox doesn’t even have a roster yet, so until I see some names I’m placing them at 9.

(Courtesy of Paravine.com)

(Courtesy of Paravine.com)

EU Regular Season:

  1. Origen
  2. Fnatic
  3. Team Vitality
  4. Unicorns of Love
  5. Giants Gaming
  6. H2K
  7. G2 Esports
  8. Elements
  9. Splyce
  10. Roccat

 

I think Origen is a pretty safe pick at 1, and despite 3 new members Fnatic is never far from the top. Vitality is an intriguing team with a great roster. I love UoL’s new roster and I think they have lots of potential, I also think they’ll be my favorite this season. Giant’s spot depends on who they pick up, but I have high hopes. H2K looks okay, but I’m always apprehensive about FORG1VEN. G2 looks weak. Froggen is probably the best mid in EU, but I don’t think he can carry Elements. Splyce looks kinda meh, they did well in Challenger, but I don’t think it will translate. Roccat has no roster, so they are at the bottom.

Am I crazy? Am I a genius? I want to hear your thoughts, head on over to the forum and post your own predictions! And keep an eye out for my individual team analysis the next two weeks, I’ll be starting with TSM!

The Atlanta Braves Era Continues with Chipper Jones

Courtesy of, bleacherreport.com

Courtesy of, bleacherreport.com

Sometimes darkness can gloom over a sport organization that can weaken the hearts of those belonging to that organization. However, that same darkness can unite an organization that supplies the strengths of perseverance to continue the desires, dreams, and aspirations of what once was. I would like to give my dearest sympathies to the family and friends of Robert Walter “Bobby” Dews and the Atlanta Braves organization, whom have lost a legend who not only spent the last 35 consecutive seasons with the Atlanta Braves, but an additional 14 years spent as a coach on a major league. He helped establish some of the most respected names in MLB’s franchise history.
Although words cannot describe Bobby Dews’ loss to the MLB organization, the strength of endearment that Bobby Dews provided to fuel the players to not only play their absolute best with the skills that they practiced to perfection for, but for the passion and love for the sport. To find an individual to fill Bobby’s shoes is easier said than done. After all, it takes more than skills, passion, and experience within the sport. It takes pure heart.
When I think of the Atlanta Braves, my initial thought is of Bobby Dews, but my second thought is of Larry Wayne “Chipper” Jones Jr. After all, Chipper Jones, a well-known third baseman who spent his entire MLB career with the Atlanta Braves as well as a total of 23 years as a professional baseball player in the Atlanta Braves organization. As a notable switch hitter, he originally played shortstop, left field, and third base. The Atlanta Braves recently retired his number on June 28, 2013 and has offered him to continue his relationship with the Atlanta Braves by extending the special assistant to baseball operations to him.
Chipper Jones ended his career with a .304 career batting average with 468 home runs; 1,512 walks; and 1,623 RBI’s in 2,499 games with 8,984 at bats. He holds the current record for the most career RBI’s for a third baseman. As a switch hitter, he has reached a collection of milestones which have consisted of a .300 batting average; 400 or more home runs; amassed 5,000 at bats; had a batting average of .300; a .400 on-base percentage; and a .500 slugging percentage. These statistics are absolutely remarkable and are true accomplishments that were earned with hard work, dedication, and vast amounts of practice perfecting their skills. It is a well-known fact that Chipper Jones knows the strategies to successfully execute a baseball game. In addition to, his skills as a baseball player, his knowledge of the sport as well as his experience as a special assistant to baseball operations have only advanced his career within the Atlanta Braves organization.
Other than Bobby Dews, no one has more passion and love for the Atlanta Braves, the MLB, and the love of the sport, but Chipper Jones. It just makes sense to fill Bobby Dews shoes’ with Chipper Jones. I think Bobby Dews would have wanted it that way.

December 29 Bowl Preview

December 29 Bowl Preview

Armed Forces Bowl: California Golden Bears (7-5) vs. Air Force Falcons (8-5), 2:00 P.M.

Cal has arguably the best quarterback in the country and still only managed to get seven wins. Quarterback Jared Goff is a potential first overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and threw for 4252 yards and 37 touchdowns. Goff’s arm has been the reason the Golden Bears were able to average 36.5 points per game, because they didn’t have much of arunning game. Cal’s defense has been the reason that they lost five games on the season. They allow 30.8 points pergame, due to a lackluster rush defense, which allows over 200 yards per game.

Air Force lost in the Mountain West Championship to San Diego State, but still had a successful season. Their 321.8 rushing yards per game is the second best in the country because of their triple option offense. The Falcons defense has been very complimentary to their offense by allowing just 190 passing yards per game and 23 points per game.

This game pits strength against strength with Goff going up against the good pass defense of Air Force. Goff has only had one bad game all year, and that won’t repeat itself in this game. Cal will put up too many points for Air Force to keep up.

Final Score: California 43 Air Force 29

Courtesy of, www.cbssports.com

Courtesy of, www.cbssports.com

Russell Athletic Bowl: #10 North Carolina Tarheels (10-2) at #17 Baylor Bears (9-3), 5:30 P.M.

North Carolina had a chance to be in the College Football Playoff had they beaten Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, but lost to finish their regular season with ten wins. Quarterback Marquise Williams had two bad games in the team’s two losses making him the key for the Tar Heels. He had a successful season by running and throwing the ball to help North Carolina average 40.9 points per game. The Tarheel defense was improved this season under defensive coordinator Gene Chizik. They allow fewer than 200 passing yards, but more than 200 rushing yards per game.

Baylor was so desperate for a healthy quarterback at the end of the season, that they were moving wide receivers to quarterback. The third string quarterback Chris Johnson will start the game, because he is the best quarterback healthy. He was the reason that Baylor beat Oklahoma State, which was a big win. To go along with Johnson, they have a great running back, Shock Linwood, and the best wide receiver in college football, Corey Coleman. Even with a third string quarterback, the offense will play fine. Baylor’s defense was average this season, but does have two stars on the defensive line. Defensive end Shawn Oakman is athletically gifted and great at getting to the quarterback. Defensive tackle Andrew Billings has a quick burst after the snap and is very disruptive.

This game will come down to the best offense as there will be a lot of points scored. Baylor’s run game will be able to exploit the North Carolina rush defense. Billings and Oakman will force Williams to make bad decisions and have his third bad game of the season.

Final Score: Baylor 55 UNC 39

Courtesy of, bleacherreport.com

Courtesy of, bleacherreport.com

Arizona Bowl: Nevada Wolfpack (6-6) vs. Colorado State Rams (7-5), 7:30 P.M.

Nevada had six wins with two games to play, but lost their last two games. They have a good rushing offense which averages 205 yards per game. The Wolfpack offense doesn’t put a lot of points on the board, but running back James Butler racked up 1156 rushing yards and does move the chains. Nevada’s defense is average, but is vulnerableto good running offenses.

Colorado State has one of the most talented receivers in the country in Rashard Higgins, who had 933 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns. The Rams boasted an offense that was balanced, averaging around 200 yardspassing and rushing. Colorado State on defense is vulnerable to the rush more so than the pass.

The Rams will win the game because of their balanced offense creating problems for the Wolfpack.

Final Score: Colorado State 32 Nevada 23

Courtesy of, www.csurams.com

Courtesy of, www.csurams.com

Texas Bowl: #20 LSU Tigers (8-3) vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-5), 9:00 P.M.

LSU started off the season hot, but didn’t finish it off well by losing three of their last four games. Running back Leonard Fournette is one of the most talented players in the country and finished the season with 1741 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. Their offense is very bland at times, but quarterback Brandon Harris did a good job of protecting the football, only throwing five interceptions on the year. The Tiger defense wasn’t the best they have ever had, but they were solid, allowing just 24 points per game.

Texas Tech has a great offense this season using the air raid offense. Running back Deandre Washington rushed for 1455 yards and quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw for 4283 yards. Their tempo is a factor that a lot of teams can’t handle as they snap the ball very quickly. The Red Raiders are very bad on defense, giving up 42 points per game, which is the fourth worst scoring defense in the country. They give up 271 rushing yards per game, which is also makes them one of the worst rush defenses in the country.

Fournette will have one of the best performances of the bowl season by going up against such a bad defense. He will gain more than 200 yards rushing and the Tigers will win.

Final Score: LSU 38 Texas Tech 31

Courtesy of, www.cbssports.com

                        Courtesy of, www.cbssports.com

The 2015 Fantasy Championship Week Was Cruel

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(Vance McDonald contributed to week 16’s weirdness, Courtesy Getty Images)

Grinding through a long fantasy football season is only worth it in the end. Sure, the fun of setting your lineup and navigating trades in a fun pastime, but true fantasy fulfillment is only reached through winning a championship.

Although many people (including myself) set themselves up to bring home a first-place trophy, the fluke that was week 16 hindered far too many fantasy owners from reaching fantasy nirvana.

After reaching the playoffs with the number one seed and winning my first game in the playoffs to reach the championship, I was feeling pretty confident.

That probably was the case for many of you reading this.

The problem is, however, that many had to suffer through one of the most poignant weeks of fantasy football, in one of the most cursed seasons that has come to be in a very long time.

Many owners battled their way through injuries of Le’Veon Bell, Jamaal Charles, and Keenan Allen. Others sifted through the waivers to replace busts like Eddie Lacy, Jeremy Hill, and Dez Bryant.

After all our hard work, our fantasy lives screeched to a halt after setting up our team for fantasy glory.

My mood is bitter, as is this article. I’m basically going to use this article to vent to fantasy owners who are diving deep into the feels after a regretful second place finish.

In a PPR dynasty league, my lineup had battled through injuries of Le’Veon Bell, Jamaal Charles, and Arian Foster. Even with those chinks in my armour, I still had a killer roster for my championship.

I was lucky enough to start Ben Roethlisberger, DeAngelo Williams, Devonta Freeman, Antonio Brown, Eric Decker, Rob Gronkowski, and Stephen Gostkowski. I also decided to leave Julio Jones on the bench (a crucial mistake).

Who would’ve thought that a team of Kirk Cousins, Tim Hightower, Jerick McKinnon, Allen Hurns, Doug Baldwin, Vance McDonald, and Shayne Graham would come out on top to the team above?

You could’ve had the top scorers at each position in 2015, and still lost to the team above this week.

Week 16 was bonkers, and quite frankly, I’m mad about it.

To see how crazy the championship week really was, let me give you a Start ‘Em/ Sit ‘Em guide that would’ve sent me to the nut house had I released this prior to Thursday Night Football.

Quarterbacks To Start:

Kirk Cousins will throw for 365 yards and four touchdowns on the road this week. Cousins has thrown for over 300 yards on the road just once this entire season, and hasn’t thrown for more than one touchdown in any games in which he hasn’t played on his home field. That in mind, still expect to see Cousins score 32.2 points while losing a point for kneeling the ball with six seconds left in the first half.

Although Brandon Weeden has lost his last 11 starts and is 5-19 in his career as a starting quarterback, expect him to get back on track this week. He’ll throw for 200 yards and two touchdowns, while adding a rushing touchdown en route to a win over the Titans.

Also consider Sam Bradford and Brock Osweiler to carry you to a championship.

Quarterbacks To Sit:

Ben Roethlisberger may have a fantastic matchup against one of the worst secondaries in football this week, but leave him on your bench against the Ravens. For some reason, Big Ben will only throw for 215 yards and two interceptions and the Steelers will lose to Baltimore.

(Benching Big Ben probably never crossed any fantasy owners’ minds this week, Courtesy USA Today Sports)

As an elite fantasy quarterback, Tom Brady will look to bolster his numbers and playoff positioning against the New York Jets. Shy away from the future HOFer this week, though. He’s only going to score 11.14 points and will throw just one touchdown.

Leave Cam Newton and Aaron Rodgers on your bench even though your championship life hangs in the ballots this week.

Running Backs To Start:

Even though Adrian Peterson will see his normal workload, start Jerick McKinnon this week. It is certainly gusty, but I have a feeling he’ll put up around 89 rushing yards and two touchdowns against the Giants.

Although Frank Gore has failed to reach double-digit scoring in eight of the last ten games, start Frank Gore. Even though he’ll probably be wheelchaired into the stadium, I can see Gore scoring two touchdowns and adding 95 total yards this week.

Oh, and I heard you’re worried about which Buffalo Bill running back to start. Pfff, don’t worry about it! Start them both of course.

Running Backs To Sit:

Chris Ivory has been pretty consistent this season, but starting him this week will be a huge mistake. He’s probably going to rush for around 38 yards and will have four receiving yards. I don’t see him scoring either.

A hot commodity on this week’s waiver wire, Cameron Artis-Payne is better off unowned this week. Even though he’ll see plenty of work with Jonathan Stewart out, Artis-Payne will uneffective this week. I don’t expect anything more than 56 total yards this week.

Forget about starting Matt Forte and Doug Martin this week, even though they could go off for huge numbers in any week (except week 16, of course!)

Wide Receivers To Start:

You mean to tell me you’ve never heard of Dontrelle Inman? Nonsense! This Charger wideout will chalk up 82 yards and one score on Thursday night. 14.20 points is a solid night, especially for someone who won’t be started by anyone in championship week.

It’s not 2013, but don’t tell Pierre Garcon. He’ll play like he did two years ago, and have 80 yards and a touchdown. I know it sounds risky, but he’s bound to have his second double-digit game of the season sometime, right?

Josh Norman isn’t even that good. Start Julio Jones with confidence, and leave Eric Decker on the bench if you’re experiencing that conundrum.

Wide Receivers To Sit:

Are you dull? Why would you start Antonio Brown in the biggest week of your season? He’s obviously going to have just 61 yards on seven catches. Leave the Pro Bowler out of your lineup this week.

After scoring exactly 65 points in the past three weeks, don’t even think about starting Ted Ginn Jr. this week. He’ll only have one catch for nine yards, and I have a feeling he’ll aggravate his calf before the first half ends and be out for the rest of the game.

Playing star wide receivers is so last week. Leave Demaryius Thomas, Sammy Watkins, and Larry Fitzgerald out of your lineup as well.

Tight Ends To Start:

Vance McDonald

I know you haven’t had a good feeling about playing anyone from San Francisco, but I have a good feeling McDonald will put up a quality day. He should score one touchdown and have 61 receiving yards on the day.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins has been injured all year, but Sunday’s game against Chicago will be one for the craftbook for this tight end. 60 yards? Yep. One touchdown? Boo yah.

I can’t pronounce his name, and neither can you. But all you need is your thumb to insert Michael Hoomanawanui into your championship lineup.

Tight Ends To Sit:

Gary Barnidge has been a breakout player in fantasy football this season, but he’s not even that good. I mean, what guy that just turned 30 is named Gary anyway? Sit the Barnyard Dog, as he’ll only score 4.70 points this week.

Julius Thomas has resurrected his season in recent weeks, but he’ll have to wreck fantasy owners’ worlds this week with a 12 receiving yard performance. How do I know? Well, I promise.

So there you have it, folks. The theme for week 16’s championship is to bench your stars, and pick random players out of a hat.

I’m stuck with a second-place finish this season, and if anyone has any similar outcomes, I feel for you.
Let’s sulk together.

My NFL Awards: As the end of Week 16

Courtesy of, blogs.buffalobills.com

                      Courtesy of, blogs.buffalobills.com

NFL MVP: Cam Newton (QB) Carolina Panthers– He is the QB of the only one-loss team in the NFL. If you want more here are some stats: He has 3,544 passing yards this year and has 33 passing touchdowns, which is fourth in the league. But Cam does lead the NFL in total touchdowns with 41. He has the most rushing yards by a QB with 626 yards and has the most rushing touchdowns by a QB with 8, which is the third most in the whole league. As a rusher, he has picked up 52 first downs on the ground, which is 4th in the whole league and 1st by QBs. Also he leads QBs with 126 rushing attempts. As a passer, he has thrown for 183 first downs. He also leads the league in swag.

Courtesy of, www.endzonescore.com

                      Courtesy of, www.endzonescore.com

Offensive Player of the Year: (Based on if they don’t pick a QB) Julio Jones (WR) Atlanta Falcons– He is maybe the most electrifying offensive weapon in the game. Maybe the most unguardable player in the league, sorry Gronk you get hurt too much and sorry OBJ, he is just so much taller and bigger than you. Jones is first in the league in receiving yards, 1,722 yards, first in receiving yards per game, 114.8 yards per game, first in the league in receptions with 127, and first in the league in catches that result in first downs with 84. He has 22 catches over 20 yards or more which is tied for second in the league. Third in the league in yards after catch, and first by WRs. He has eight receiving touchdowns. One of those touchdowns was over one of the league’s best linebacker, Luke Kuechly. Think if Julio had consistent QB play from week to week.

Courtesy of, ftw.usatoday.com

                            Courtesy of, ftw.usatoday.com

Defense Player of the Year: Charles Woodson (FS) Oakland Raiders– For Woodson its not even a lifetime achievement award to an extent. He is balling at 38 on defense, not kicking or passing, but on defense. He is tied for 6th in league in interceptions with five and is has the most fumble recoveries at 3. Only one other player in the league is top six in both of these categories. As an individual, has the second most takeaways with 8. And he gave Oakland fans something to cheer about and that’s REALLY hard.

Courtesy of, www.kansascity.com

   Courtesy of, www.kansascity.com

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Marcus Peters (CB) Kansas City Chiefs– As a rookie drafted from Washington, Peters has 8 interceptions which is tied for the most in the league. And he has one forced fumble. He is already corner you don’t want to throw to and he is only a rookie. In a different year, he could definitely be the DPOY but since Woodson is retiring this year and is still balling in his 18th season I give my imaginary vote to Mr. Woodson.

Courtesy of, www.univision.com

    Courtesy of, www.univision.com

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Todd Gurley (RB) St. Louis Rams– Because of an ACL tear he suffered at Georgia Gurley had to rehab during preseason and part of the regular and because of it he has played in only 13 games. Todd Gurley has 1,108 rushing yards, which is 3rd in the league. His average of 4.8 yards per carry is second in the league with rusher of over 200 or more carries only behind Doug Martin of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Also is second in rushes over 20 yards or more with 12, one behind Doug Martin. He has 10 rushing touchdowns, which is the second most in the league, first among rookies. He is also fourth in rushing yards per game, first among rookies (85.2). Pittsburgh Steeler, Le’Veon Bell, is second in this category and only completed 5 games as he was injured in a game earlier this year against the Bengals.

Courtesy of, www.muthead.com

                         Courtesy of, www.muthead.com

Come Back Player of the Year: Eric Berry (SS) Kansas City Chiefs– Yes, Carson Palmer had a tore ACL, and is completely balling out, could definitely get a few MVP votes and in a different year could won the award. Chris Johnson even got shot. But did Carson Palmer or Chris Johnson beat cancer and then after that comeback and play football? Answer: NO! This is the definition of a comeback not only a comeback in football but a comeback in life.

Courtesy of, onpointpress.net

                           Courtesy of, onpointpress.net

Coach of the Year: Ron Rivera Carolina Panthers– He is 14-1. PERIOD. And no one thought the Panthers would be this dominant year.

Stats Courtesy of: ESPN and NFL.com

David vs. Goliath, are player salaries worth it?

RickFox

(courtesy of esportsedition.com)

This off-season has seen much change within the Esports community.  In the last couple months, there has been a lot of hype surrounding League of Legends specifically.  Rick Fox’s purchase of Gravity Gaming’s LCS slot, along with Marc Cuban’s participation in an ARAM with Intel CEO, Brian Krzanich at IEM San Jose have generated a lot of interest in this game.  As the off-season continues, the more spots are bought out by potential leaders in a growing competitive scene.  A thing that has come with this massive investment in the League of Legends scene has been the argument over whether teams should make the salaries of their players public to the world.  To the average sports fan this may seem like a good idea since this is how all pro sports teams run their organizations but this could actually ruin the pro scene in League of Legends.

In a market that is seeing more and more large investors enter the scene, making salaries known to the public could potentially be the end of the small organizations we see come up through the Challenger Series every year at the end of every season.  In a world where LCS spots are just sold to the highest bidder, we will no longer see teams like NME esports or Team Coast (now NRG) rise through the ranks to try to prove to the world that they belong with the pros.  We will begin to see an impure community where passion and love for the game isn’t the tool that drives organizations to do their best every season, but instead players working to cash that paycheck for millions of dollars.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it would be great to see a world where Esports pros are able to earn millions of dollars from playing a game they love, but we as a community have to work to get there.  League of Legends, despite being a few years old now, is still in its infancy stage as a sport.  Pouring this much money into a market in it’s infancy stage can cause a bubble to pop before it reaches its maturity, ending in a massive breakdown of the entire system.  In other words, League of Legends and possibly Esports as a whole would see a shut down in operations due to the small return to the investors.  CLG’s CEO, Devin “Mylixia” Nash, weighed in on the situation by releasing a TwitLonger on Sunday afternoon also rebuking the need to release player salaries to the public.  At one point in his post Mylixia notes that the potential bubble burst in the future would be very real because “people see the return isn’t there and run to get money out of the failing system.”  Due to this, he says “we experience an e-sports EMP and player salaries are back to $1000/month.”  Is this a world we want to live in?  This entry by Venture Capitalists will do nothing but destroy a game we all love to watch and experience.  In the future there may be room for investors with millions of dollars to invest, but at the moment all it does is slit the throat of a community that is just taking its first steps.

cropped_EmberHeader

(courtesy of thescoreesports.com)

This massive explosion wouldn’t happen because there is no return to gain from Esports, but because the massive return just isn’t there yet.  The industry is just gaining steam.  No team has really begun to figure out how to monetize this sport and maybe this is where the Venture Capitalists come in.  Afterall, they are good at making money right?  We have seen one team give in to the urge to release their player’s salaries and that is the new North American team, Ember.  A team that seems to offer a different methodology in how they are run all together.  Their key belief?  Believing that better humans become better athletes.  Not to say that all athletes are bad people, but this is a new idea that no Esports athlete has began to explore.  Most gamers sell their souls to the organizations they pledge to; playing endless hours of their game each day.  They wake up thinking about the game and go to bed thinking about the game, there is no end.  As you can imagine this
can create massive depression within these young players and can take a massive toll on their performance.  What Ember suggests for their players is a lifestyle that is outside of this.  They want their players to experience deep relationships and love.  They believe this will help their team perform on a constant basis.  There is basis to this claim.  Look at traditional sports stars like Stephen Curry.  Curry is arguably one of the best basketball players of our generation and has started a family.  He also makes his faith in Christianity well-known, which by many it is believed religion helps one lead a happier life.  Maybe Ember is on to something?  Ember has a lot to prove this season because of these new ideas they hold and their release of their player’s salaries.

Overall, I believe it is a good idea to release player salaries, but not yet.  The Esports world has more to prove before this is something to worry about.  The community is gaining ground as Twitter just announced last week that Esports athletes now have verified Twitter accounts but there is still more ahead.  All members of this amazing group of supporters can do is hope that these new investors help the game rather than destroy something we have created.

 

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