Not Worth It

Steven%20Stamkos%20Tampa%20Bay%20Lightning%20captain_1394776585783_3416359_ver1.0_640_480The NHL season is quickly approaching, and I thought about leaving this piece to join the others I’ll do for the season preview.  But I like it so much, I figured I would jump the gun.  Add to that, I don’t THINK anyone has wrote about this yet.  Sure, they’ll write about the Stamkos contract situation in Tampa and how he is in the final year of his deal.  But I haven’t seen anyone get into the trade aspect of it (though I’m sure a few have, so much media these days you can’t see/read it all).

 

I’m going to, because I strongly believe the Bolts should trade him.

 

Keep in mind, this is coming from a guy who feels like Stamkos, while being in a group with only Alex Ovechkin as the best snipers in the league, is overrated.  He is still very young, so his trade value, especially should he sign an extension with the team he goes to, will be very high.  So I’m going to look at this from the perspective of Jeff Vinik and Steve Yzerman.  Don’t forget that in 2011, it took a while for a contract to get done between the 2 sides and there were whispers at that time that Stamkos and Yzerman weren’t seeing eye to eye.  Vinik and Yzerman have to be the men who ask themselves “is Steve worth the contract he’ll get?”  Well, let’s look.

 

How would the team look without him?

The Lightning are coming off a Cup final run in that Stamkos wasn’t their top performer.  Tyler Johnson was the leading scorer, Victor Hedman was all world on D, Bishop was inconsistent but the good outweighed the bad.  So where did that leave Stamkos?  His own coach wasn’t playing him 20 minutes a night, and was putting him on the wing.  Now putting him on the wing might not seem like a big deal, but wingers don’t win Cups.

 

Jon Cooper was 100% right in doing this.  Stamkos game is that of a winger, not a center.  I’ve been saying this for years.  From what you hear around the league, and I’m not talking about Eklund’s trade rumors, but rather respected people like Elliotte Friedman and Darren Dreger were saying that Stamkos was pretty pissed about being put on the wing.  WHAT?!

 

Did you want to be a D-man while you’re at it Steve?  I know he seems like one of the best guys ever in interviews and he very well could be.  I’m not intending to bash the person here, but that doesn’t sound like much of a team guy.  He is far better suited for the wing, yet he wants to play the middle.  And this apparently has caused a rift between Stamkos and Cooper.

 

So how would the team be without him?  Well the PP would take a pretty good hit you have to think.  5 on 5, he gets all the tough matchups which is why Johnson’s line was able to cash in so much.  So they would take a hit.  But if Drouin steps up and becomes just kind of close to what his potential is, that’s 25 of the 43 goals, and more assists than Stamkos (Drouin only had 1 less last season in MUCH less of a role) which would mean that others are scoring more.  And then naturally others with a little more opportunity would produce more as well.

 

Add to all this, if you trade Stamkos and you’re upgrading your squad defensively in some way, that’ll reduce the need for those 17 goals that are missing as well.

 

Worth the cap space?

This one ties in a lot with what I just wrote about, but basically no.  Read again what I just wrote, they have guys coming either already on the team (Drouin) or in the system (Adam Erne) or who they could acquire should they move 1 of Bishop or Vasilevskiy down the road who can replace Stamkos scoring abilities.

 

And no doubt that he makes others better by his presence eating up those tough matchup minutes.  But does he make them THAT much better?  They have so much depth on that roster that I really don’t believe he does.  And he’s never shown the ability to fight through that tough checking he sees during the playoffs and put up big numbers.  Not that he won’t, that is normally something that doesn’t come for a player until he reaches his physical prime of 27-30.  But as of now, he hasn’t.

 

He is going to command 10-12 million per season.  Last I had heard reported or at least discussed was he would want more than Kane and Toews got (10.5 per).  With all the talent the Lightning have, they’re going to be tight against the cap for years to come should they give Stamkos that kind of deal and try to squeeze everyone else in.  Stamkos getting his monster deal, might mean Tyler Johnson can’t get his money and they have to let him walk, and Johnson is the better player right now.  Similar on draws, but Johnson plays 200 feet, gets his nose dirty, etc.

 

This team already has one awful contract that they’re going to be stuck with in Ryan Callahan (5.8 mil cap hit for 5 more seasons), can you really afford to give Stamkos 3 mil or so more than what he is going to give you?

 

Does he put people in the seats?

There is no doubt, Stamkos is an attraction.  That is rare in a sport like hockey where the star players maybe will play 1/3 of an actual game.  NBA, LeBron is on the court for 40 of the 48 minutes.  NFL, Tom Brady is on the field for over half the game a lot of the time.  NHL, lets be honest about it.  Nobody is coming to see goaltenders or D-men.  It’s about the star forwards, the guys who put the puck in the net.  So Stamkos is pretty unique in that sense.

 

But what draws fans a hell of a lot more than star snipers, is wins.  A winning team will always out draw a star player.  Even on the road, people are more inclined to go watch a great team than a great player.  But even if Stamkos is still a huge draw on the road, why would you care if you’re Jeff Vinik?  You only care about the St. Pete Times Fourm and whether or not fans are filling those seats.  And without Stamkos, they will because the Lightning have a team built for the long haul right now.

 

There is more to the business side of this then just ticket sales.  Some of it I wouldn’t even know about.  But jersey sales for example.  I thought coming into writing this that he would be in the top 5 of jersey sales.  I couldn’t find the 2015 numbers, but in 2014 he was 16th, 1 spot behind Rick Nash.  If that’s any indication, Stamkos doesn’t generate the money away from the rink for the Lightning that I would have assumed he did.  But there is much more to that in which I would have no clue what he does or could bring in.

 

What does he bring back in a trade?

It sounds like I’m just crushing Stamkos, but I’m not meaning to at all.  It is just in regards to what Tampa needs him for.  And it’s clear by now that there really isn’t a big need for him in Tampa.  So then what could they get for him?  Well it really depends on if he’s willing to sign an extension or not, and I think everyone would agree that if Toronto were the trade partner, the Lightning could really clean up in a deal.

 

In division, so the ask would have to be greater, which I’m sure the Leafs would understand.  The Leafs have been desperate for a franchise cornerstone since Mats Sundin left town.  And if I’m the Leafs, I’m looking at Mike Babcock being the guy who could get through to Stamkos about being a 200 foot player.  About knowing that distributing the puck more frequently will not only make his teammates better, but open up more shots for him as well.

 

Because if the Leafs get Stamkos, they aren’t going to want to have him on the wing.  They are already LOADED on the wing.  They need that franchise center.

 

So I won’t go into what the ask is because the ask is always ridiculous.  But here is what I came up with, assuming that along with the deal comes a Stamkos contract extension.

 

Tampa gets: Morgan Rielly, Frederik Gauthier and a 2016 1st round pick.

 

Guarantee the response to that from a Toronto fan would be “we aren’t giving up Rielly to get him!!!”  And I guarantee the response from a Tampa fan would be “we aren’t giving him up just for that!!!”

 

Boom, perfect deal.  Just thinking about it to myself I wasn’t going to have Rielly originally.  But the Leafs don’t have a lot to give that Tampa would crave.  Marner probably wouldn’t be too tempting for the Lightning seeing how they have an overabundance of small skilled forwards as is.  And I think the Leafs would view Marner as the better asset, although it is really close in my opinion (I think that highly of Rielly).  Jake Gardiner isn’t worth a lot these days.  He gets you something, but as much as I’ve talked down about Stamkos today he is still a premiere sniper in the league with potential to be more.  So the centerpiece is Rielly which makes Tampa’s blueline pretty damn high end moving forward.

 

Gauthier gives the Lightning a potential elite 3rd line center down the road, and if you don’t think guys like that are vital then you must not know much about hockey.  And a 1st in this upcoming draft from the Leafs would still be a lottery pick (which remember now means top 14, not top 5 like it used to).  So that’s a really good haul for Tampa, and a price I believe the Leafs can live with to get their cornerstone.

 

If not a trade with the Leafs, who else makes sense?  Nashville might make a ton of sense.  They could part with Seth Jones in a deal, who should be in Tampa already.  They also could part with a Kevin Fiala who much like Marner wouldn’t be ideal for the Lightning, but a pretty valuable piece if packaged with Jones.

 

The Preds did win last season, but aren’t near the level the Lightning are (a much weaker conference helps Tampa).  Stamkos would add to the attendance there too I’m sure.  But the question would be if Stamkos would sign long term.  I don’t know, but I kind of don’t think so.  Amazing place to live and play from what I understand, but it’s not much of a stage and Stamkos really gives you the impression with his personality that he enjoys the spotlight.

 

So to wrap this up, I can’t come up with much of an argument as to why the Lightning should re-sign the guy.  Terrific hockey player.  But at the end of the day (to quote Chris Pronger) I just don’t think the contract would be worth it for the Lightning, and the right trade makes them better than Stamkos does.  You want to maintain a Cup contending team and a contract like that combined with the cap being in stalled for lack of a better term, it makes much more sense to trade the asset and build around guys like Hedman, Johnson, Drouin and others.  I should add, I don’t think you do it unless you get a trade which makes it worth your while, but then again you don’t want that albatross of a contract that you can’t move in 2 or 3 years.

 

Having said all this, I don’t think the Lightning will end up moving him.  It’s SUCH a tough thing to do, moving an elite player.  But I really do think its the smart move all around.

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Can’t Do It On Their Own

Andrew Luck, Eli ManningSo I’m going to focus on 2 guys today.  Andrew Luck, and Eli Manning.  Both are amazing talents.  Both were lauded as being the next elite QB in the NFL.  Both have had their successes and their failures.  And both have their critics.  I believe that both are a perfect example of how little the media and public ever looks at the team, and we get too caught up in just what the QB is or isn’t.

 

2 reasons this comes to mind.  1 is because I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to the greatness of Odell Beckham as his star just continues to rise.  The other is because on my favorite radio show on Friday, the Dan Patrick Show, Andrew Perloff offered the same opinion that I’ve had lately which is that: is their not a pattern with Eli Manning enhancing these WR’s?

 

Today it’s Beckham Jr.  3 years ago it was Victor Cruz.  Before Cruz it was Hakeem Nicks.  Along with Nicks it was Mario Manningham.  Before those guys it was Steve Smith and Plaxico Burress.

 

Nicks, Manningham, Burress or Smith were never better than with Eli.  But this just gets completely ignored for some reason.  And then Eli hasn’t been as good since winning his 2nd Super Bowl.  Well, you need an offensive line in football.  It is so undervalued.  Look at Tony Romo the last year as compared to when the Cowboys offensive line was trash.  The guy was the butt of everyone’s jokes and how he would never win anything.  Well he was carrying the Cowboys on his own!  Same with Eli recently.  He’s had to carry the Giants.  The offensive and defensive lines are nowhere near as good as they were in 2007 or 2011.

 

This leads me to Andrew Luck.  People in football will tell you that the Colts offensive line is the worst in football and has been the last 3 seasons.  The Colts front office is a bit of a joke.  Ryan Grigson seems like he knows what he’s doing, but he gave up a 1st round pick for Trent Richardson when it was already looking as though Richardson wasn’t the back he was thought to be.  In April’s draft, with the Colts DESPERATE for help on the O-line and on D, he took Phillip Dorsett.  Awesome talent, and absolutely ZERO need for a team that already had T.Y. Hilton, Andre Johnson, and Donte Moncrief.  Suspect moves to put it nicely.

 

This all comes up because I’m starting to hear people question Andrew Luck moving forward, and they’ve been questioning Eli Manning for years.  They are elite QB’s.  Luck getting these Colts teams to the playoffs is insane.  In 2011 the Colts were 2-14.  Without adding much at all other than Luck, they were 11-5 and a playoff team in 2012.  Think about that.

 

Does anyone think those Giants teams which won the Super Bowl were good?!  They weren’t.  Eli Manning made them a Super Bowl winner.  Do both guys throw a lot of picks?  Yes.  Because they both have so much talent and belief in their abilities, not to mention the burden of having to carry their franchises without much help, that they are naturally going to force balls into tight quarters in an attempt to make something out of nothing.  Brett Favre did the same thing, Terry Bradshaw did the same thing, Joe Namath did the same thing.

 

Tom Brady has BILL BELICHICK as his head coach.  I believe Brady is probably the best of all time, but he’s had maybe the best coach of all time his whole career…in a COACHES LEAGUE!  Tom Brady missed the 2008 season, and the Pats went 11-5 with MATT CASSEL!  This shit is NEVER black and white.

 

Manning has Tom Coughlin, a damn good coach and that is likely why they have 2 Super Bowl titles.  Luck has had a man nicknamed “the mad tweeter” as his owner, and a GM who gave up a 1st round pick for a bad running back (in a pass first league).  Chuck Pagano has done a solid job as head coach (not worth running off as it appears they’re going to), but he’s not Belichick.  Not even close.

 

It drives me up the wall when people just look at what the QB does and not at the entire team, in a sport that is as much of a team game as any.

 

As for my picks against the spread…yikes.  Week 1, 4-1, I was laughing.  Last week, 2-3.  I called the Steelers/Niners game pretty much bang on, then couldn’t have been more wrong about the 3 I got wrong.  I was also wrong about the Panthers and Texans but luckily for me it ended up with a Panthers 7 point win (came down to the final play).

 

Indianapolis at Tennessee

Colts -3.5

Everyone is down on the Colts, and a lot of people are likely still sky high on Mariota.  Remember, the Colts were stopped by elite D’s.  The Titans don’t have an elite D, and Mariota shouldn’t give the Colts D too many issues.  I don’t think the Colts run away with this one, but suggesting they win by 6 or 7 should be a safe bet.

 

Jacksonville at New England

Jaguars +13.5

I just have a funny feeling this will be a somewhat close game, closer than 14 points.  The Pats have had a habit of playing down to their opponents at Gillette (I’m thinking most recently of the Raiders game in week 3 last season).  And the Jags are ok.  They aren’t great, but they are at least starting to pull out of the gutter of the NFL and into respectability.  Pats win, but I don’t think its a blowout.

 

Buffalo at Miami

Bills +2.5

The only thing that scares me here is the humidity in Miami this time of year makes it a TOUGH place to play.  Supposed to feel like 34 Celsius, which is 93.2 Fahrenheit, so that’s pretty hot but I don’t think it is unbearable like it can get.  Before the start of the season I may have picked the Dolphins here, but the Bills are more talented and the Dolphins appear to have a lot of issues.  Not to mention, I believe the Bills in the short term (first month or so) are going to be a very tough offense to game plan for.  Very gimmicky.

 

Chicago at Seattle

Seahawks -14.5

This is a MASSIVE number, and I’m going with it.  The Seahawks are at home, desperate, and pissed off.  They easily could be 2-0.  It’s not as though they lost to the Browns and Raiders at home.  So with Jimmy Claussen at QB for the Bears, and a weak O-line, and a still weak D, and the Seahawks so pissed off, I just think even though it is so tough to swallow this many points that it’s the right/logical pick.

 

Denver at Detroit

Lions +3

So I got a pretty desperate Lions team at home which is likely better than they’ve showed to this point facing a 2-0 Broncos team which is likely worse than their record suggests.  Lions are winning this game outright.

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

It Isn’t ALL Bad

Edmonton Oilers v Detroit Red WingsMorning guys!  How did everyone’s weekend go?  Good?  Who me?  Yeah mine was ok, thanks for asking!  Except for betting football, that was a total shit show that I wish to never speak of again.  So I’ll talk hockey today!  That way you’ll all forget that I went 4-6 ATS until next weekend.

 

Man, the first exhibition game hasn’t even been played yet and I already want to talk about the Oilers.  Of course it is about the fat new 7 year contract Oscar Klefbom signed over the weekend.  7 years, 4.1 mil per.  I love it.  The Hall deal, loved it.  Nuge deal, loved it.  Eberle deal, didn’t LOVE it but it’s still a good deal.  And Klefbom should be in this group of guys you’re going to build around.

 

I’ve told this story before but I’ll tell it again.  Leading into the 2011 draft, about a month out I started reading about this kid who was shooting up draft boards, specifically Redline Report’s draft board.  Kyle Woodleif was RAVING about this kid.  What I had read (never saw him play that season) is that the safe projection on Klefbom was that he would be another Jason Smith (gritty, a leader, not flashy but effective, etc), but could move the puck a lot better.  Jason Smith was one of my favorite players, so I was all in on this kid who would be picked around 19 in that draft, where the Oilers had a pick.  When they selected him I was literally jumping around my buddies basement.  And while I definitely wouldn’t suggest that he is a Jason Smith type, he’s the goods.

 

So I’m a massive Oscar Klefbom guy, and last season he showed a lot of flashes of becoming what he was projected and then some.  I think after seeing him last year that he’s going to become the Oilers bomb from the point on the PP with how much he loves to fire it.  The kid has a presence about him.  A swagger that he plays with.  All the intangibles that every team craves.  So giving him a similar deal to Victor Hedman, Roman Josi, Jonas Brodin and Adam Larsson is exactly what needed to happen.  Brodin and Larsson he was in the same draft class as, and I would argue he has more upside than both.

 

So why am I writing this?  Well once again, the haters for the Oilers were out once this deal was signed.  I laugh when uninformed people start talking out their ass.  It’s really what Twitter was built for.  I have no issue with it really, but I would like to educate people yet again that just because the Oilers have been the worst team in the league for 6 years, doesn’t mean that EVERYTHING they do is wrong.

 

We saw this last year with the David Perron trade.  Everyone was screaming for them to make a trade, then they made a trade (a guy who wanted out) and everyone hated it.  While I didn’t like the value that went to the Islanders for Griffin Reinhart, I’m doing Perron for Reinhart every day if I am running the Oilers who were overloaded with average/small wingers and desperate for D.

 

It doesn’t just happen with the Oilers.  Yesterday morning I was listening to a fantasy football show on FAN 960 in Calgary and the hosts of the show were asked a question of “who should I start?”  I can’t recall who the one option was, but the 2nd option was Marcus Mariota who faced the Cleveland Browns.  The Browns have one of the top defenses in the NFL.  But the host apparently had zero idea of this and said (paraphrasing) “of course the answer is Mariota, the Browns are terrible”.  MAYBE you shouldn’t host a fantasy football show bro, because if you don’t know something as simple as the Browns having a good D, I question how much else you know.  Add to that, Mariota had played 1 game.  It was a good game, but you’re just going to assume he will be amazing??

 

It’s just what fans do these days.  They can’t pass up the chance to bash teams or players or management or owners or commissioners.  Doesn’t matter how wrong they are, the thought immediately runs through their skulls “hahahahaha ohhhhh man this is going to be so funny cause they suck and everyone knows they do”.

 

Idiots can try to bash the Oilers and troll their fans all they want, the fact is that locking down the kids has been absolutely the right move.  It might be the only thing they’ve done right this whole time.  None of those contracts have diminished the players value, which is what you’re going for when signing a player.  If these guys were getting contracts that made them unmovable, THEN they’re bad deals.  But the fact that the team has been terrible doesn’t make the contracts bad at all.  If the Oilers want to move any of them tomorrow, they can and they’ll get back great value for them.

 

The LA Kings have been largely built on players with these types of deals.  Dustin Brown just finished a 6 year deal, Mike Richards was on a 12 year deal, Jeff Carter is on an 11 year deal, Drew Doughty is on an 8 year deal, and these were all deals done prior to any of these players winning a Cup.  Brown and Richards really hadn’t done much of anything when they signed their deals.  This is how you can win in this league is by signing players to deals that will have them at lower cap hits then they’re worth in the long run.

 

7 years of Oscar Klefbom, after this season, at what is likely going to be fair/total bargain of a contract.  Excellent move by Peter Chiarelli.  Looking forward to Darnell Nurse getting a similar deal in 2 years.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

They Know How to Do It

DirecTVIsn’t it so trendy to go after the NFL?  If I’m in the actual media and not pretending to be or being a wannabe on here, that’s definitely what I’m doing to hang out with the cool kids.  “FIRE GOODELL!!!”  “He messed up Deflategate so he needs to go”.  Don’t look at factual things, like how many progressive and money making things they have done on his watch.  Don’t look at how he does…you know…his job.  Just look at the PR side of things because we are the media and that is all that matters.

 

But I’m not here to pick on the geeks.  I did that enough in high school (shout out to my man Leeland Schneider).  No, today I’m just simply here to give the NFL some praise.  I’m not close to saying they are without blame, but they do a lot right too.  Like TV.  They do TV far better than any other league.

 

Look at how today’s schedule goes down.  In the morning games (well, 1 EST, but 11 AM here) we have a bunch of games that are just ok.  Bills/Pats is pretty good, but not THAT good.  The only game which you might label as bad features the 2012 and 2014 Heismann trophy winners going head to head.  10 games start at 1 eastern, 11 mountain.  A whole lot of solid but not special.

 

So why is that brilliant?  That’s when you watch NFL Redzone.  NFL Redzone is awesome, but in the last few years the league has figured out how to use it best.  And how to use it best is to stack up a bunch of ok games early.  Not one game really grips you unless you’re a fan of one of those teams.  So NFL Redzone is the perfect channel to watch.  It’s especially geared towards fantasy football fans as it keeps a close eye on those who are having big days.  Add to that, you never miss an important play.  They show everything you need to see, don’t just bounce around for games in which the ball is actually in the redzone.

 

Then at 2:05 mountain, my GAWD it’s a couple of games that nobody outside the four fan bases could care less about.  Baltimore v Oakland, and Miami v Jacksonville.  Well, why not put those on with the early games you may ask?  They want all eyeballs on Fox at 2:25 when the marquee game of the afternoon is on, Dallas v Philly.

 

That game is going to have massive ratings, so why put any real competition up against it?  Fox pays for it’s game of the week, and the NFL is going to give them there money’s worth.  If the Pats and Bills are on at the same time, people might want to watch Tom Brady.  Nobody wants to watch Matt McGloin v Joe Flacco!

 

And then of course you have the game of the week in Green Bay on Sunday night, and an intriguing Monday nighter with the Colts and Jets.

 

But I think people believe they just put a bunch of games on at 11 and a bunch more on at 2:05/2:25 every week.  No no.  They know exactly what they’re doing and how to maximize their audience.

 

On to the picks, and I was a very decent 4-1 to open the season.  Now that’s the games I picked in which I wanted you to use.  The games I did for fun, I was freaking terrible!  That’s why I didn’t want you to use them!  But in games I did write up’s on and explained my stance, 4-1.  I believe that’s the best I’ve ever started, on the site that is.  I believe the 2010 season I made my picks about a month out, getting some sweetheart lines and killed it.  But that was a long time ago.  Oh right, you want the picks and not to hear my successful gambling stories.

 

Arizona at Chicago

Bears +2.5

Sooooooo why are the Bears less than 3 point dogs in this game?  Feels like a bait game to me.  Bears were solid in week 1, as were the Cards.  But the Cards got injuries at RB and on the O-line.  The Bears can put up points, and John Fox will improve this defense a lot by seasons end.  I don’t know why in the freaking hell the Bears are only getting 2.5, so take them.

 

Houston at Carolina

Panthers -3

You know I don’t like the Panthers at all, and always bet against them.  I’m done.  Cam Newton…I don’t know if he’ll ever be a Super Bowl winning QB, and I wish he would grow up because if he did ever get a little more serious (doesn’t have to be Peyton Manning, just Tony Romo), he could be really special.  Anyway, the Panthers are better than we all give them credit for.  And Ron Rivera is a better coach than we give him credit for.  Cam just finds a way to put up points, and the Texans don’t seem to have a running game without Arian Foster and don’t have a QB who can scare a defense.  No Luke Kuechly is bad for the Panthers, but they have a high end D.  Low scoring game, but I believe the Panthers win by 10-14 at home.

 

New England at Buffalo

Bills +1.5

Rex Ryan isn’t anywhere NEAR the coach Bill Belichek is.  But his teams always play the Pats tough.  Even in some of the Jets worst seasons under Rex, they seemed to beat the spread, minus the butt fumble thanksgiving night game.  The Bills D is loaded, the Bills will be tough to game plan for in these first few weeks with coaches not having much game film on Tyrod Taylor, and they have a lot of multi faceted players (Taylor, Harvin, McCoy, Watkins, etc).  Bills beat the Pats and have everyone asking the stupid question this week of whether or not the Bills have over taken the Pats as kings of the AFC East.  No, they beat them ONCE.

 

San Francisco at Pittsburgh

Steelers -6.5

WOAH!!  The Steelers are 6.5 point favorites?!  They lost week 1 and the Niners won though!  Only thing dumber would be Campbell taking that bet….and I am.  Niners are on a short week, the Steelers have had 10 days off.  The Niners are going across country which is never easy.  Mike Tomlin is in his 9th season as head coach, Jim Tomsula is a rookie head coach.  The Niners beat a very overrated Vikings team at home, the Steelers lost to the pissed off defending champs on the road.  The Steelers secondary is awful, but the Niners aren’t capable of exposing it.  Steelers in a blowout.

 

St. Louis at Washington

Rams -3

Jump on this line now if you can because it is likely going to move to 3.5.  The Rams are just simply better coached, more talent, and if the Redskins couldn’t beat the Dolphins playing average they aren’t going to give a much better Rams team too much trouble.  It’ll be low scoring, but the Rams will dominate.

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

If You’re Going to Gimmick, Get the Gimmick Right

hockey_canada_640Every blog I write I need to choose which category it is going under.  This one could go under the IIHF heading, but let’s be honest about the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.  It is the league and the players association putting on this production, and it is 100% a cash grab.  It’ll be ok to watch, but it’s not for anything.

 

The Canada Cup was a good way to bring in more money, but it meant something.  The 1996 World Cup of Hockey meant something.  2004 did to, although it was played with a sense of doom lurking as the 04/05 lockout was to commence immediately following the final game.  But this one means nothing.  This is basically the model that MLB uses for their World Baseball Classic.  They have the countries best, but then they have gimmick teams like Italy in there made up of players of Italian descent.  Not players who are actually from Italy (full disclosure there may have been a few, but for the most part it was guys who maybe had never even been to the country).

 

I understand what they’re trying to do.  The U23 team is to showcase the young stars in the game.  Peter Chiarelli is the GM for the team, and he even said the other day that he’ll be looking at Auston Matthews for the team(projected top pick for the 2016 draft).

 

And then we have team “Euorpe” which again, I get it.  You have a scenario where countries like Germany, Slovakia, Latvia, etc. have some players, but not nearly enough to be a threat.  Anze Kopitar is about the only player even to be drafted from Slovenia.  So again, I understand it.  I’m not sure why you’re calling it team “Europe” though when you already have Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic and Russia already in the tournament.  There must be some other name you could give them, no?

 

Anyway, so we have 8 teams.  That’s a nice number.  But they missed out on a gimmick that could have been awesome.

 

It has been suggested lots before that Canada really could send 2 powerhouse teams to the Olympics every time around.  That should have been the case here.  The U23 team will be solid, but it still leaves probably 10-12 all-star calibre players from Canada off in favor of probably 7 or 8 kids who really have no business in an event like this.

 

One option if you were going to go with 2 Canadian teams would be to split the country in half and go with Canada East (Ontario East) and Canada West (Manitoba West).  But what is the fun in that?!  This whole thing is a cash grab, remember?

 

What should have been done is 2 Team Canada’s, and then in mid July next summer, in a made for TV event, you have a draft.  You do it in Toronto, you do it on the Wednesday or Thursday after the MLB all-star game when there is no other sports on, 2 GM’s and their staffs are all there at their own tables strategizing, and you have a simple coin flip to determine who gets the top pick, and then it is a snake draft.

 

So allow me to play the role of both GM’s here and give an example of how this would shake down.  No, I’m not going to go pick by pick on here, but I have done the leg work and this is how it shook down for me:

 

Canada 1

Tavares (8) – Crosby (1) – Stamkos (9)

Benn (12) – Seguin (17) – Carter (24)

Ladd (36) – Monahan (20) – MacKinnon (33)

Nugent-Hopkins (44) – Couture (37) – Gallagher (41)

Johansen (40)

 

Barrie (28) – Weber (5)

Keith (4) – Seabrook (13)

Hamhuis (32) – Burns (21)

Letang (29)

 

Holtby (16)

Luongo (25)

Crawford (45)

 

Canada 2

Hall (19) – Toews (2) – Giroux (14)

McDavid (23) – Getzlaf (7) – Perry (11)

Lucic (34) – Bergeron (18) – O’Reilly (26)

Marchand (39) – Duchene (31) – Shaw (43)

E.Staal (42)

 

Giordano (10) – Doughty (6)

Bouwmeester (27) – Pietrangelo (15)

Vlasic (30) – Subban (22)

Ekblad (38)

 

Price (3)

Fleury (35)

Dubnyk (46)

 

I forgot guys at times.  I may still have forgot some guys.  I still ended up leaving some pretty good players off.  And I put some guys on there who I don’t think will be factors next summer.  Anyway I tried to split it as good as I could and as realistic as I could.  I didn’t simply take the BPA, because you’re splitting hairs with most of these players.  So I built them both with the biggest need in mind.

 

But how cool would that be?!  It’s better than a U23 team.  Hell, the U23 team will have a lot of D-men and goaltenders who won’t even be in the NHL this season and might not be there next season!

 

This way you get more of the actual stars in the league showcased, and the Americans can actually have some of their top players like Jack Eichel, Brandon Saad, and Seth Jones.  It is beyond ridiculous that the Americans won’t have access to some of what would be their top players.

 

But what do I know.  It isn’t as if Gary has ever introduced ridiculous concepts before and made the league look amateur…

 

I just really believe that if you are going to go the gimmick route, do it full on.  Don’t treat the fans like they’re stupid.  Anyone who watched that sham presser the other day with Stamkos, Doughty and Chara could tell these guys aren’t going to take this tournament seriously.  Having 2 team Canada’s and having an actual draft of the 2 teams, it would be huge ratings and even more cash.  We’ll all watch next fall, but we would watch next fall if there were 2 team Canada’s, AND we would watch in huge numbers if they held a draft like this.

 

I can’t stand this gimmick no matter how they do it.  BUT…if you’re going to go this route, then do it right and milk it for all it’s worth.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

Just Make Picks and Enjoy

web1_SPORTSBOOKMuch like my college football piece last week, I never know how to start these things other than to say it is so AWESOME to have football back!  It’s not to piss on the CFL, but everyone who knows the CFL is well aware of the fact that the league doesn’t really pick up until this time of year anyway!

 

But let’s not sugar coat it, the NFL is where it is at both North and obviously South of the border.  The excitement in the CFL has gone way down, and the excitement in the NFL has gone way up in the last 10 years at least, maybe longer.  Back in my day…the CFL was never dull.  I don’t think that’s hindsight on my behalf.  The CFL was wide open, the NFL was really conservative.

 

Anyway, we’re back and for this week I don’t really have anything special I want to talk about.  I just want to do my picks.  So I got my 5 picks, but at the bottom I make a selection on every game.  This is just more so to see how I do.  Don’t use those picks.  But I am hot picking games.  4-1 yesterday in college, and I love some of these picks today.

 

Ok, I’m done.  Let’s get the season going.

 

Miami at Washington

Dolphins -4

This is a big number to swallow for opening weekend.  But the Washingtonions are a mess.  Oh right, RGIII is the big story now so we can all go back to calling them the Redskins until the media remembers that story again.  Anyway, it’s a big mess and the Dolphins are definitely coming into the 2015 season with a lot of momentum as they are a sexy playoff pick for many.  I don’t know if they’ll get in the playoffs, but I see them having a statement game in this one.

 

Seattle at St.Louis

Rams +3.5

So I’ve had a rule for a while now that I shouldn’t bet against Seattle.  They’re not invincible, but I never seem to win when I pick against them.  HOWEV-A as Screamin’ A Smith would say, giving the Rams 4 points at home in the opener is a bit much in my opinion.  Seahawks win, but in a tight one.

 

New Orleans at Arizona

Cardinals -2.5

I’m pretty high on the Saints again this season.  I believe the Jimmy Graham trade will prove to be the right move for them and with an improved offensive line, Brandin Cooks a year older, C.J. Spiller joining the team, and more Mark Ingram that the offense will be just fine.  But I’m also sky high on the Cards and we know the Saints have a lot of trouble on the road.  Take the Cards giving less than a field goal as I just feel like this one will be a 7-10 point Cards win.

 

Cincinnati at Oakland

Raiders +3

Why are the Raiders only 3 point dogs?  Seems low.  Bengals are a good regular season team, Raiders are awful…right?  Opening weekend, the Raiders will play them TOUGH.  David Carr could be ready to take the next step, Jack Del Rio will have this team playing their balls off every week, Amari Cooper is going to be an elite WR.  I expect a tight, low scoring game here, and if 3 scares you, the number looks as though it will move to at least 3.5 if not 4 by kickoff Sunday.

 

NY Giants at Dallas

Giants +6

It’s just too big of a number to give a team in the opener.  Division rival, so the G men will play the Boys tough, they’ll want to spoil the party so to speak, and I think the Giants will be nicely improved.  Hey, this is a proud franchise with a proud coach.  The last thing they want is more of what’s gone on the last 2 seasons.  Dallas is damn good, and they should win, but again it’s just too big of a number to give the Giants.

 

As for the rest of the games…

Jaguars +3

Browns +3

Bears +6.5

Bills +1.5 (under 45 too while you’re at it)

Texans -1

Chargers -3

Ravens +4.5

Titans +3

Falcons +3

49ers +2.5

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

 

2015 NFL Season Preview

150202001711-tom-brady-super-bowl-xlix-exlarge-169_zpsaa2b7f8fThese Season Preview’s are becoming less and less.  I used to try and do a whole magazine on each team.  Now, I feel like 1 or 2 sentences are the max I want to do!  And I have much more to say on each team than that, but it gets so exhausting!  All the typing, my poor fingy’s (yes, fingy’s).  So if you don’t like this and prefer the old way….piss off, it ain’t coming back!

 

AFC East

New England Patriots – Defending champs, no Revis and Browner will hurt, but they’ll still run away with the division after yet another boring offseason with no drama…

 

Miami Dolphins – They had a good offseason, I still don’t think they’re anything great or ready to compete for the division though.

 

Buffalo Bills – The D is going to be amazing, and I expect an initial boost from Rex Ryan’s arrival.  But over time he will fail because he doesn’t know how to build an offense.

 

NY Jets – Todd Bowles has his work cut out for him.  Great D just like the Bills, but no offense just like the Bills.

 

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens – They look REALLY solid yet again.  Lost in all the NFL offseason talk was that they really should have gone to the Super Bowl in the AFC had it not been for a 2nd half collapse against the Pats.

 

Cincinnati Bengals – So much talent, too much Andy Dalton.  I don’t know what else to say, other than along with everyone else I’m just waiting for this team to stop making the playoffs every season and release Dalton.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers – They’re right there with the Ravens and Bengals, but that secondary could get lit up bad all season.

 

Cleveland Browns – They don’t rent this spot in the division, they own.

 

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts – They don’t rent this spot in the division, they own.

 

Houston Texans – Solid all around…except where it matters most.  Brian Hoyer is better than Cleveland treated him, but I don’t think he’s good enough to get this team over the hump.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jags are going to play hard, and Blake Bortles has the tools to become a top 15 QB in the league.  But they still are likely a 6-10, 7-9 team.

 

Tennessee Titans – I could see Mariota giving them a jolt initially, I think out of the gate he’s going to be much better than Jameis Winston, but over time I honestly see him going more the way of Kaepernick/RGIII than Russell Wilson.

 

AFC West

Denver Broncos – Don’t over think this.  They’re still the class of the division.  Their problems are in December and January, not September or October.

 

Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs are getting some buzz this offseason but I don’t really get it.  2013 they were in the playoffs, last year they just missed, they’ll be in that race again this season and might get in, might not.

 

San Diego Chargers – I like them, but I worry the “moving to LA” talk could be a distraction this season.  Getting the Rivers extension done was huge though and I do think Melvin Gordon is going to give them an elite running game.

 

Oakland Raiders – I could use the “they don’t rent, they own” line again here, but they are massively improving.  Carr has a lot of really intelligent football people excited, not just homer fans.  Fans and media also forget that Jack Del Rio built some damn good teams in Jacksonville.

 

Wildcard Winners

Cincinnati – I just think there is no reason to believe they won’t still be a good regular season team.

Kansas City – Like I said, they’ll compete for it, and this year I believe Alex Smith has some improved weapons to get them back in.

 

AFC Title Game

Indianapolis vs Baltimore

I’m not that sold on the Colts, but they play in such a soft division that I see them as the top seed, then they win the divisional game at home.  The Ravens are just damn good and proven in big spots.

 

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys – I have them first, but while they were very smart for letting Murray walk, virtually not replacing him is scary and they brought in a lot of head cases which almost never works.

 

Philadelphia Eagles – 10-6?  I’ll say 11-5 or maybe even 12-4 should Sam Bradford stay healthy.  But man…that is such a big IF.  They’ll be damn interesting to watch.  I fully trust Chip Kelly though.

 

NY Giants – The O-line is improved which is so key for them.  When Manning has time to throw, he can pick a D apart.  Don’t let the INT’s fool you, it’s a result of trying to do too much, not being an inept QB.  But I still think they only go 8-8 or 9-7.

 

Washington Redskins – Bring your brooms, cause it’s…a mess!  Solid movie, awful character who said that line, but it’s very apt here.  I honestly feel bad for Redskins fans, but at least the mess has distracted the media from their nickname.

 

NFC North

Green Bay Packers – No Jordy Nelson, no problem.  Having James Jones pop available was so perfect for them, I don’t think they’ll skip a beat on offense.

 

Detroit Lions – The D line isn’t as good but they were a completely different team under Jim Caldwell, after I thought it was an awful hire.  Shows how much I know…

 

Minnesota Vikings – This seasons offseason darlings.  They made a lot of noise, they now have a lot of weapons, everyone is gushing over Teddy Bridgewater, there is a team like this every year.  They’re on the right path, but they aren’t a playoff team yet.

 

Chicago Bears – They’re in the middle of a rebuild.  This in no way looks like a John Fox team right now, so it’ll likely be 2 or 3 seasons before they’re back to competing with the Pack.

 

NFC South

New Orleans – Most years I pick them based on Sean Payton being the best coach, Drew Brees being top QB.  I still think that, but I think they’re going to benefit big time from the Jimmy Graham trade.

 

Carolina Panthers – I never like them, but I give them credit.  Ron Rivera gets the most out of his teams.  No Kelvin Benjamin is going to hurt a lot this season.

 

Atlanta Falcons – Improved O-line and a much overdue (in my opinion) coaching change should help a lot, but I still have a tough time saying they’ll compete for the division.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – I believe Winston will make a lot of big mistakes which will hurt their win totals, but I do think he’ll put up pretty big numbers.  Lovie will eventually turn this mess around like he did with the Bears.

 

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals – If Palmer had stayed healthy they were going to win this division last season.  Well coached, well quarterbacked, great D.

 

Seattle Seahawks – Still going to be dominant for at least 1 more season, but I think it’ll be tough to sustain the regular season success they’ve had with this division being so tough.

 

St. Louis Rams – Is Nick Foles legit or was it Chip Kelly?  Spoiler alert, it was Chip Kelly.  But Foles might be solid enough to finally get this team to the next level.

 

San Francisco 49ers – What a difference a year makes.  They were 1 play away from their 2nd straight Super Bowl appearance in January 2014, with a really young group.  Now, I think they’re going to be one of the worst teams in football.

 

Wildcard Winners

Seattle – Easy Seahawks fans who seemingly jump down my throat any time I don’t think they’re the greatest team of all time.  Still going 11-5 or so.

Detroit – 2nd year in a row they’ll be the 2nd wildcard team, and this year I believe they may do some damage in January.

 

NFC Title Game

Green Bay vs Seattle

Same time, next year.  Only this time the Seahawks will travel to Wisconsin.  The Packers have the best QB in the league in his prime, and enough weapons and D to push the Pack to this spot.  The Seahawks again I state will have a bit of a down year in the regular season, maybe will take a while to find their swagger like last season, but come January they’ll be a beast yet again.

 

Super Bowl

Baltimore vs Green Bay

I believe this is the same as Peter King has, but trust me I’m not looking to copy anyone.  I just can come up with reasons why the rest of the teams won’t make it to the Super Bowl, and can’t find many to support the Ravens and Packers not getting there.

 

Super Bowl 50 Winner

Baltimore

More balance than the Packers.  I’ll let you in on a little secret…I’m a pretty big Packers fan.  I don’t really have a team but the Packers are probably as close to “my team” as it gets.  But the Ravens are just a much more balanced team.  WR core is a little shaky coming into this season, but I believe they’ll get that figured out, the D is fully rebuilt since Ray Lewis and Ed Reed retired, John Harbaugh is maybe the most underrated coach in the league, and Joe Flacco might be boring but the guy isn’t intimidated by any moment.  Ravens win their 2nd Super Bowl in 4 seasons.

 

Ok, so those predictions will proven wrong by about week 3.  So let’s get this party going!

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups