Saturday, September 6, 2014

NFL Line Picks for 2014

NFL Picks for Week 1
My biggest line miss for week 1 was saying Detroit was a 6.5 point favorite against the Giants (Instead of the 4 point favorite that Vegas says they are), otherwise I was within 2 points for each game, and generally just a half point or full point off.

I'll take four underdogs (Each of them to win outright, as well, technically, but I'll just take the points), GB +5.5 (The next time GB is going to be giving 5.5 points.. Is not going to be in this season, that's basically a certainty), Cleveland +6.5 (This is a horrible line, I had it at +5 and I thought I was pushing it), Oakland +4.5 (Better team, but they stink on the East Coast, so this is probably going to end poorly, especially since the starting QB for the Raiders is still unrevealed for Sunday.), Tennessee +4.5 (Better team, but they are on the road in a tough environment, likely a bad play), and three favorites, NE -4.5 (Bad number to lay, but NE is far superior to the Dolphins.. And the other two teams in their division.), Denver -7 (Laying a TD is awful, but there is no way will the Colts be taking this game and it should be a blowout victory for the Broncos.), and Detroit -4 (Laying 4 here is also a bad idea, but it's a bad line, and I am high on Detroit while low on the Giants so I should also be getting some value there.).

Seven of sixteen games in play, obviously a fairly high percentage, at least for picking NFL spreads. Two or three games are probably technically bad plays, but I'm irrationally confident due to this being the first week there are real NFL games.

Results of Picks: GB ended up looking fairly bad, I don't think the process was all that bad, but it would have been better to stay away.  Cleveland had some serious struggles, but, overall, they probably should have won their game and ended up semi-easily covering their line.  If Oakland had decent QB play they probably would have won, this should have been a definite stay away.  Tennessee fairly clearly showed that they were the superior team, as expected, overall though it's hard to tell if this should have been a stay away as well.  I'm not certain what difficulties the Patriots were having, but they ended up playing quite poorly.  Semi-consequentially, a stay away may have been called for.. But, it's close.  Denver should have managed to cover easily, but they took their foot off the gas pedal, so the Colts nearly managed to take the spread.  The Lions effectively proved that they are a far superior team to the Giants.

Week 1 Record: 3-3-1
Overall Record: 3-3-1 (.50)

Picks for Week 2
Underdog picks: Falcons +5.5 (This is a joke.)  Browns +6.5 (Almost a touchdown in bonus points in a fairly evenly matched game?  I'll take it.)  Lions +2.5 (I get points to have the far superior team?  Horrible line.)  Eagles +2.5 (Once again I get the better team and a couple points.  Somewhat poor line.)
Favorite pick: Patriots -3.5 (Vikings are nowhere close to as good as they played last week, while the Patriots are going to play angry.)
Game line differential: Denver is actually a 13 point favorite, not 10 like I said.  Seattle by 5.5, not 3.5.  Gigantic difference: NO by 6, not 1 (Do people still not see that Browns are actually a competent football team?).  Washington by 6, not 3.5.
Overall, these five picks are much better than last week's selections, partially because I'm taking more underdogs and because a few of the lines are even poorer than week one.

Results of Picks: So apparently it wasn't a joke that the Falcons were getting 5.5?  Maybe the Falcons just leave their offense at home or something..  I still think I made the right pick though.  The Browns/Saints game was indeed a very evenly matched game, the Saints were the slightly better team, but the Browns got the breaks and were certainly the right side.  The Browns are a competent team?  No way.  The Lions/Panthers game was rather odd, the Lions leave their offense at home as well apparently, meanwhile the Panthers are somehow 2-0.  Finally playing the better team getting points on the road was the right pick.. The Eagles at least came through with a late rally.  On the favorites side of things, the Patriots dominated the AP-less Vikings.  
Possibly I should just be picking the biggest line differentials that I have with Vegas or something, because the four value picks that I saw versus Vegas all won somewhat convincingly, except for the Broncos' game which was just a solid win.  It was another semi-ugly week for me, especially considering that I'm doing pretty well in games that I'm not picking officially... So yeah, possibly I'll be able to turn this around.

Week 2 Record: 3-2
Overall Record: 6-5-1 (.55)

Picks for Week 3
Underdog picks: Chargers +2.5 (Here I try the better team getting points on the road strategy once again..)  Browns +1.5 (This is a decent line, I just think that the breaks will continue to go the Browns' way this week) Raiders +14.5 (I don't like picking this.. But I practically have to on principle, and because I slightly think that it is the right play since the Patriots aren't actually extremely good) KC +4.5 (I think I'll just call better team getting points on the road: BTPR) Steelers +3.5 (I don't really like the Steelers, but I don't understand how the Panthers could start 3-0, this will probably end up being correct, however it will also probably be a bad play regardless.) Bears +2.5 (BTPR, the Jests are the favorites?  Really?)
Favorite pick: Cowboys -.5 (The Cowboys may not be a good team... But they're playing the Rams) 49ers -2.5 (I lay less than a FG to take the 49ers on the road against some QB such as Carson Palmer or Drew Stanton?  Alrighty then.)  
I made eight picks this week.. I should really prune that down, but once again I am somewhat confident in a fair number of these picks.  (I forgot to say which games had the greatest line differentials, whoops.) Also I wanted to mention last year's SB matchup, the Seahawks and Broncos.  I had the game at Seahawks -5.5 while Vegas has it at Seahawks -5. I think the Broncos are in a very tough spot since they just played the Chiefs in a demoralizing way last weekend while the Seahawks are coming off a double digit loss for the first time in an extremely long time, in terms of the NFL time-frame anyways, thus regression is very likely to kick in, but I would still lean towards a Broncos play since I think the teams are closer to evenly matched this year and therefore the Broncos are getting a point or two fewer than they should.

Results of Picks: The Chargers made the BTPR strategy appear fairly decent in their matchup.  The Browns' line was indeed very decent, I just happened to be on the wrong side by half a point.  The Raiders laughed themselves to nearly upsetting the Patriots.  Yeah, the Patriots are a great team.  KC kept the BTPR strategy rolling with a fairly convincing win.  The Steelers finally did to the Panthers what most teams should do and came away with the convincing victory.  The Bears managed to pull off the trifecta of BTPR victories with their semi-solid win against the Jests.  Meanwhile the Cowboys nearly destroyed themselves in the first half against the Rams, but they just managed to come back and grab the victory.  Finally, the 49ers allowed Drew Stanton and the (somehow) 3-0 Cardinals to semi-dominate them in most phases of the game.
It was actually my worst week of picks overall, but I managed to have my best week in narrowed down selections.
Week 3 Record: 6-2
Overall Record: 12-7-1 (.63)

Picks for Week 4
Underdog Picks: Dallas +3 (NO isn't a great road team, just in case anyone hasn't noticed..), Tennessee +7.5 (This line is way too high, the Titans aren't getting enough respect.  Plus I would consider this a BTPR pick.)
Favorite Picks: Green Bay -1.5 (The Bears are coming off a short week while the Packers are coming off a physical tough loss..  Conflicting signals, but I think A-Rodgers leads a ho-hum 30 point offense this week.) Atlanta -3 (This is only a good pick if Atlanta actually packs an offense this game..) Detroit -1.5 (I am losing a bit of value with this pick, but I'll take the Lions to beat the TO prone Jests.) 
Game Line Differentials: Tennessee at +7 instead of +4.5 like I said.  Miami -4, +/-0.  NO -3, +1.  This week I finally did not see too many decent value or good picks to be had.

Results of Picks: Dallas comfortably defeated the Saints.  The Saints are a poor road team?  No way.  However, I should probably learn the same thing for the Falcons..  The Titans lost handily, but I did not know that the Titans would be without Locker.
The Packers gave up a lot of yards, but otherwise had a great day against the Bears.  (And the Pack-Attack was indeed back on track) The Falcons offense was available on Sunday, but the defense was not..  I think I should stop picking the Falcons on the road.  The Lions semi-easily defeated the Jets and semi-proved that they are clearly the better team.
I didn't know that Locker would be out for Tennessee so I get a pass on that.  The Dolphins dominated the Raiders, I don't think that I'll trust the Raiders anymore in my lines.  The Saints were giving three points on the road based on what exactly?

GL Differential Record in Previous Weeks: 4-0 (I only counted the four differences that I had in week 2 since I was somewhat official about those, from now on I'll try to remember to put up my GL differentials as well. The main criterion for the picks is that my lines have to differentiate from Vegas by at least 2.5 points.)
GL Week 4 Record: 1-2 
GL Overall Record: 5-2
Week 4 Record: 3-2 (Another semi-disappointing week, but in my two losses the Titans didn't have Locker and the Falcons didn't pack a defense on the road, while the other three games were either comfortable wins or blowouts.)
Overall Record: 15-9-1 (.63)



Picks for Week 5
Underdog Picks:
Favorite Picks: 
GL Differentials:

GL Week 5 Record: 
GL Overall Record: 
Week 5 Record: 
Overall Record: 

Monday, August 25, 2014

NFL Preview for 2014

AFC East

New England Patriots
I thought that the Patriots' first few choices were rather average compared to the rest of the league, but that their final five selections are all likely going to be decent NFL players (Belichick and company strike again.). B-
FA Additions: Brandon LaFell and Patrick Chung
Player Losses: LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Spikes, Aqib Talib, and Adrian Wilson
Overall Offseason Grade: C+ 

Regression Likelihood: 70% Fade

Overall Record: 7-1, 4-4, 11-5

Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins have close to average and below average players across the board on both offense and defense.
I don't really know what to expect from the Dolphins' draft choices.. (Not that I really ever do know.) C-
FA Additions: Knowshon Moreno and Cortland Finnegan
Player Losses: Chris Clemons and Jonathon Martin
Coaching Changes: OC, Mike Sherman to Bill Lazor (Okay, I don't really have an opinion on this coaching move, other than that the Dolphins made an upgrade in the name department. Lasers, people.) 
Overall Offseason Grade: C-

Regression Likelihood: 30% Fade 

Overall Record: 1-5, 5-5, 6-10

New York Jets
New York has an interesting collection of offensive weapons, overall, however, I do not expect that they will be able to provide a great level of play.
The Jets picked up three WRs and Tahj Boyd (Just because they could?), overall it was a somewhat solid draft. C+.
FA Additions: Michael Vick, Chris Johnson, Daryl Richardson, Eric Decker, and Jacoby Ford
Player Losses: Austin Howard, Isaiah Trufant, Santonio Holmes, Butt Fumble, Mark Sanchez I mean, and Antonio Cromartie
Overall Offseason Grade: B- 

Regression Likelihood: 25% Fade

Overall Record: 1-6, 4-5, 5-11

Buffalo Bills
The Bills have some interesting offensive players, they aren't necessarily proven players but they have a fair amount of potential. The defense is not quite a top level defense, but it has the potential to be top 10. It's a pity that E.J. Manuel is starting for the Bills, because there are a handful of QBs in the league, and out of the league, that could help to lead the Bills to the playoffs.
Sammy Watkins is a good pick, but he is not a player worth trading away future first round draft selections. C-
FA Additions: Jarius Wynn, Mike Williams, Bryce Brown, and Brandon Spikes
Player Losses: Jairus Byrd and Stevie Johnson
Coaching changes: DC, Mike Pettine to Jim Schwartz (A bit of a step down, but it shouldn't be too major.)
Overall Offseason Grade: C+

Regression Likelihood: 50% Improve

Overall Record: 1-5, 5-5, 6-10

North

Cincinnati Bengals
I expect the offense to take a semi-major step back from last season's top 10 offense, but the defense should mostly continue their relatively elite play. It was a surprisingly good draft for the Bengals, Jeremy Hill and AJ McCarron have the potential to be quality starters.  B+
FA Additions: Jason Campbell (The Bengals were oddly devoid of major acquisitions in the offseason.)
Player Losses: Andrew Hawkins, Michael Johnson, and James Harrison
Coaching Changes: OC, Jay Gruden to Hue Jackson and DC, Mike Zimmer to Paul Guenther (On the bright side for the Bengals they should know that they likely had two decent coaches, given that they now both have HC jobs, however, this knowledge meant that the Bengals had to [unexpectedly?] replace these two coaches. As such the Bengals decided to replace them within their organization. While I do tend to like internal promotions, I kind of doubt that it will work out quite as well as expected in this situation.)
Overall Offseason Grade: C- (Even despite their very decent draft, the Bengals had a slightly below average offseason.)

Regression Likelihood: 60% Fade

Overall Record: 6-3, 2-5, 8-8

Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh has a decent amount of continuity on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, I think that both should improve slightly as opposed to last season. The Steelers made some decent draft selections. B
FA Additions: LeGarrette Blount, Lance Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Mike Mitchell
Player Losses: Jonathan Dwyer, Jerricho Cotchery, Emmanuel Sanders, Ziggy Hood, LaMarr Woodley, and Ryan Clark
Overall Offseason Grade: B-

Regression Likelihood: 60% Improve

Overall Record: 7-2, 2-5, 9-7

Cleveland Browns
Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer should 
provide a fair amount of hope
 and excitement for Cleveland. 
While I still believe that Colt McCoy or Tim Tebow could easily lead this team to the playoffs, I think that even Johnny Football or Brian Hoyer will be able to lead them as well. The offense may happen to be unproven.. Okay it is unproven, but I expect some very decent things from it. There was a bit of turnover defensively, but I expect the Browns' defense to be very decent once again.
Between the FA losses of WRs and Josh Gordon's suspension the Browns wide receivers core will look extremely different from last season's.
If Manziel is named the starting QB, then he will be set up to succeed in most respects, except for offensive weapons, but if he can just provide some explosive plays combined with the somewhat stellar Browns' defense, then Cleveland could see a few more wins than it normally sees.  However, I do not think that Manziel will translate extremely well to the pro level, I expect middling success, and for him to be a slightly above average starter (which is still much better than practically any QB, not named McCoy, has done for the Browns over the last decade), roughly the same amount of success as someone such as a Terrelle Pryor (Although I viewed Pryor's play as partially a success so there is that..).

FA Additions: Ben Tate, Andrew Hawkins, Nate Burleson, Miles Austin, Karlos Dansby, Donte Whitner, and Isaiah Trufant (Look at those acquisitions and then tell me that the Browns aren't going to be better than last season. I don't think you can/should do it.)
Player Losses: T.J. Ward, Brandon Weeden (Maybe I should have put this under additions.. /cough), Greg Little, and Devone Bess
Coaching Changes: HC, Rob Chudzinski to Mike Pettine (Who would have thought that Coach Chudzinski wouldn't have worked out very well.. /cough), OC, Norv Turner to Kyle Shanahan (On the bright side they fired Coach Turner, on the downside they picked up the younger Shanahan. /sigh), and DC, Ray Horton to Jim O'Neill (I would tend to think that both people are decent NFL coaches.)
Overall Offseason Grade: B

Regression Likelihood: 65% Improve

Overall Record: 6-2, 3-5, 9-7

Baltimore Ravens
Offensively the Ravens have some good pieces, and defensively they look to be somewhat strong.. With that said I will still probably pull as many losses as possible out of their schedule, thanks to Joe Fluko *Flacco. A fairly decent bottom half of the draft, but the top half was rather weak.  C-
FA Additions: Justin Forsett, Steve Smith, Owen Daniels, and Darian Stewart
Player Losses: Ed Dickson, Michael Oher, and Corey Graham
Coaching changes: OC, Jim Caldwell was replaced by Gary Kubiak (From one poor OC to another..)
Overall Offseason Grade: C+

Regression Likelihood: 55% Improve

Overall Record: 3-6, 4-3, 7-9

South

Indianapolis Colts
The Colts do probably have the best offensive weapons in the division, but that isn't really saying much. Defensively, Indianapolis needs some major help in the form of an acquisition or two which they will probably not attempt to carry out. The Colts only selected five players and I wasn't entirely impressed with them (though that does not really mean anything..). C-
FA Additions: Hakeem Nicks and Mike Adams
Player Losses: Darrius Heyward-Bey and Antoine Buffea
Overall Offseason Grade: D+ (While I may be punishing them too much for it, in the Colts' situation I consider complacency to be an incapacitating tactic.)

Regression Likelihood: 85% Fade

Overall Record: 4-3, 3-6, 7-9

Houston Texans
The offense should be alright, except for the quarterback, and the defense should be bringing quite a few tenacious Texas tackles to opposing QBs. Amongst their eleven draft choices the Texans picked up quite a few players who may end up being starters for a handful of years. B-
FA Additions: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Andre Brown, Chris Clemons and Jerrell Powe
Player Losses: Ben Tate, Antonio Smith, Matt Schaub, Owen Daniels, Daniel Manning and Terrell McClain
Coaching Changes: HC, Gary Kubiak to Bill O'Brien, OC, I was a little confused as to what happened with the offensive coordinator, and DC, Wade Phillips to Romeo Crennel (Overall, I would say that the Texans improved their coaches, but only by a slight margin.)
Overall Offseason Grade: C+

Regression Likelihood: 85% Improve

Overall Record: 5-1, 4-6, 9-7

Tennessee Titans
The offense is somewhat poor, but made up of underrated players. The defense is slightly below average, but I think it will likely overachieve this season. The Titans somehow only had five picks in the draft and kind of squandered those picks. D
FA Additions: Charlie Whitehurst, Dexter McCluster, Michael Oher, and Shaun Phillips
Player Losses: Kenny Britt, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Chris Johnson
Coaching Changes: HC, Mike Munchak to Ken Whisenhunt, OC Dowell Loggains to Jason Michael, and DC, Jerry Gray to Ray Horton (The previous coaching staff was probably a little bit below average, imho, but I think that this new coaching staff may happen to be in the top ten of the league.)
Overall Offseason Grade: B- (Here the coaching staff ended up carrying the grade upwards a letter and a half.)

Regression Likelihood: 55% Improve

Overall Record: 5-5, 4-2, 9-7

Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars' offensive weapons.. Excuse me while I laugh.. are just a bit limited, their best player may be newly acquired Toby Gerhart, and while he's a nice player he is certainly not a top offensive threat. Defensively the Jaguars need some improvement, but they aren't too poor of a unit. The additions of Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson are two good pickups, but considering that the Jaguars still do not have a competent quarterback to get the Jaguars WRs the ball (With apologies to Chad Henne and Blake Bortles.), those two talented players were semi-wasted picks. C
FA Additions: Toby Gerhart (Great pickup), Ziggy Hood (Great name), and Chris Clemons (Great player)
Player Losses: Maurice Jones-Drew, Kyle Lowe, Dwight Lowry, Blaine Gabbert (Whoops, I think he goes in the 'Additions' section.. Addition by subtraction anyways. Gabbert was set up to fail in Jacksonville, but, the excuses for him aside, he provided a horrible level of QB play.), Terrance Cooper, Justin Forsett, and Jeremy Ebert
Overall Offseason Grade: C- 

Regression Likelihood: 55% Improve

Overall Record: 0-11 (I don't think that will happen, especially if Bortles gets decent playing time.), 3-2, 3-13

West
Kansas City Chiefs
The offense is lacking something... Like playmakers. Defensively the Chiefs are still loaded though. Overall, I would say that while the Chiefs will be better this season than last, I think that their record will fall slightly. I like Coach Andy Reid, but a lack of pickups in FA and a regression to the mean are going to hurt the Chiefs this season. Very decent value picks in De'Anthony Thomas and Aaron Murray. B-
FA Additions: Kyle Love
Player Losses: Dexter McCluster, Branden Albert, Dunta Robinson, and Brandon Flowers
Overall Offseason Grade: D+ (The lack of moves hurt the Chiefs' final grade.)

Regression Likelihood: 60% Fade

Overall Record: 3-6, 4-3, 7-9

Denver Broncos
With their first three selections the Broncos picked up three players who played college ball in the Big 10, so that was probably a mistake.. C-
FA Additions: DeMarcus Ware, Emmanuel Sanders, Aqib Talib, and T.J. Ward (Somehow the rich get richer..)
Player Losses: Knowshon Moreno, Champ Bailey, Eric Decker, Robert Ayers, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Overall Offseason Grade: B-

Regression Likelihood: 55% Fade

Overall Record: 4-2, 8-2, 12-4

San Diego Chargers
The Chargers have decent offensive weapons, and an improved defensive unit. Very decent draft selections for the Chargers. B+
FA Additions: Kellen Clemons, Donald Brown, and Brandon Flowers
Player Losses: Charlie Whitehurst and Derek Cox
Coaching Changes: OC, Ken Whisenhunt to Frank Reich
Overall Offseason Grade: C

Regression Likelihood: 55% Fade

Overall Record: 5-3, 3-5, 8-8

Oakland Raiders
The offense could use a few more playmakers, but I expect it to improve, once again. The defense should be a bit improved from last season. The Raiders made alright draft selections, but I thought they could have made better talent based acquisitions rather than position oriented, since they are a little bit weak basically across the board. C+
FA Additions: Maurice Jones Drew, Greg Little, James Jones, LaMarr Woodley, Matt Schaub, and Justin Tuck (The Raiders should really rename themselves to something like The Oakland Castoffs. Man, it's almost like every player the Raiders' grab is old, past their prime, but since they had a decent career Oakland wants to see if they can still get a year or two out of them.)
Player Losses: Jacoby Ford, Rashad Jennings, Vance Walker, Terrelle Pryor, and Tracy Porter
Coaching Changes: Wait, there were no coaching changes? Really? Really.
Overall Offseason Grade: B-

Regression Likelihood: 65% Improve

Overall Record: 3-3, 2-8, 5-11

NFC East
Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles' second best WR is...? Riley Cooper? Other than some concerns at wide receiver, the Eagles offense is set up for success. Defensively, they should be a bit improved. Picking up two WRs in the draft was likely a good choice for the Eagles given the genius of Chip Kelly and the lack of WRs on the team. B-
FA Additions: Mark Sanchez (Hopefully Sanchez never has to play in the regular season, except for possible mop-up duty, but even if Sanchez does get significant playing time, I still would not actually be too worried as an Eagles' fan since Chip Kelly can probably make virtually anyone a competent quarterback.), Darren Sproles, and Malcolm Jenkins
Player Losses: Michael Vick, Jason Avant, Bryce Brown, and DeSean Jackson
Overall Offseason Grade: C+

Regression Likelihood: 60% Fade

Overall Record: 6-2, 4-4, 10-6

Dallas Cowboys
Offensively the Cowboys have a few great pieces and a few sub-par pieces. Defensively the Cowboys are expected to be a poor team, but I think they have a chance to be league average, which is what the Cowboys will likely need to be if they are going to have any chance at capturing the division title. The Cowboys had a fairly weak draft overall. D+
FA Additions: Brandon Weeden, Terrell McClain, Rolando McClain
Player Losses: Jarius Wynn, Miles Austin, and DeMarcus Ware
Coaching Changes: OC, Bill Callahan to Scott Linehan, DC, Lane Kiffin to Rod Marinelli (Two decent upgrades, but they aren't extreme improvements.)
Overall Offseason Grade: D+

Regression Likelihood: 60% Fade

Overall Record: 6-4, 1-5, 7-9

Washington Redskins
The Redskins' offensive firepower is quite possibly a top 10 unit. Defensively they have a decent chance to be slightly above league average. The Redskins were having an alright draft until they picked up Lache Seastrunk, which elevated their draft to the top 10 of 2014 (Imho). I find it very odd that Seastrunk somehow fell to the 6th round, I would have preferred that he would have gone to the Eagles, but it will be fun to see him playing alongside the speed of DeSean Jackson and RG3. B
FA Additions: Colt McCoy (The Redskins now have two QBs who likely happen to be better than RG3, which isn't meant as an insult to RG3, it's just that I think highly of Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins), Andre Roberts, DeSean Jackson, Ryan Clark, and Tracy Porter
Player Losses: Josh Morgan and Josh Wilson
Coaching Changes: HC, Mike Shanahan to Jay Gruden, and OC, Kyle Shanahan to Sean McVay (I don't entirely like the new staff of coaches that were kept for the Redskins, I'm not sure if that was meddling by management or not, but I do like a Gruden is back to being a head coach in the NFL. Jay Gruden should provide a nice uptick in skilled game-planning.)
Overall Offseason Grade: B+

Regression Likelihood: 80% Improve

Overall Record: 3-6, 5-2, 8-8

New York Giants
Offensively the Giants have some potentially decent pieces, but, overall, the offensive pieces seem to be below average. Defensively the Giants should show improvement from last season. The Giants may have reached on a couple players, but that will provide some more boom or bust potential to the Giants' season. C+
FA Additions: Rashad Jennings, Trindon Holliday, and Mario Manningham
Player Losses: Andre Brown, Hakeem Nicks, Brandon Myers, Justin Tuck
Coaching Changes: OC, Kevin Gilbride to Ben McAdoo (The new OC should provide a boost for the Giants, if in nothing else than at least in the cool name department.. I kid. But seriously, McAdoo should provide an improvement.)
Overall Offseason Grade: C+

Regression Likelihood: 60% Improve

Overall Record: 3-5, 2-6, 5-11

North
Detroit Lions
Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford,
and the rest of the Lions should have
a superb offense this season.
(Author: Mike Morbeck)
I really wish that Ken Whisenhunt had ended up taking the coaching job at Detroit, I think that the fit of him and Stafford would have been close to perfect and they could have put him in situations where he could excel. Offensively the Lions have some very decent firepower, but the defense is a little lacking except for Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. The Lions picked up even more offensive additions in the draft, I'm not certain about why they went that route, but they should be decent players. C+
FA Additions: Dan Orlovsky, Golden Tate, and Jed Collins
Player Losses: Shaun Hill, Nate Burleson, and Louis Delmas
Coaching Changes: HC, Jim Schwartz to Jim Caldwell, OC, Scott Linehan to Jon Lombardi, and DC, Gunther Cunningham to Teryl Austin (Overall, I would say that the changes were getting rid of poor coaches in favor of sub-par coaches, so not exactly a major improvement for the Lions, sadly.)
Overall Offseason Grade: B-

Regression Likelihood: 85% Improve

Overall Record: 6-1, 6-3, 12-4

Chicago Bears
The Bears have two great WRs, but are lacking at other positions. Defensively they appear to be fairly solid, or at least a fair amount better than last season. Good job filling needs through the draft.  B+
FA Additions: Josh Morgan, Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, and Ryan Mundy
Player Losses: Josh McCown, Devin Hester, Major Wright, Michael Bush, Earl Bennett, and Julius Peppers
Overall Offseason Grade: C+ 

Regression Likelihood: 60% Improve

Overall Record: 5-4, 5-2, 10-6

Green Bay Packers
Despite a lack of offseason moves, offensively and defensively the Packers are still loaded this season. The Packers are not loaded because of the draft.. C-
Complacency with players tends to impair the overall play of other players, even if you do get the benefit of continuity, but I still think that Packers will be able to overcome this and be a quality team in the NFC North.
FA Additions: Julius Peppers
Player Losses: James Jones and C.J. Wilson
Overall Offseason Grade: C-

Regression Likelihood: 50% Improve

Overall Record: 8-1, 4-3, 12-4

Minnesota Vikings
Offensively the Vikings have quite a few poor players, except for AP, and the defensive side of things is not any better than the offensive side of the ball. Teddy Bridgewater aside, the Vikings kind of had an odd draft. D+
FA Additions: Linval Joseph, Derek Cox, and Kurt Coleman
Player Losses: Joe Webb, Toby Gerhart, and Greg Childs
Coaching Changes: HC, Leslie Frazier to Mike Zimmer, OC, Bill Musgrave to Norv Turner, DC, Alan Willams to George Edwards (Changing out poor coaches to average coaches should provide a nice boost for the Vikings).
Overall Offseason Grade: C (The coaching changes elevated this grade a letter.)

Regression Likelihood: 40% Improve

Overall Record: 1-7, 4-4, 5-11

South
New Orleans Saints
The offensive weapons for the Saints are only about league average, except for Jimmy Graham. The defensive side of the ball still looks like it will have some semi-serious problems. The Saints did not really do anything special in the draft. C-
FA Additions: Jairus Byrd and Champ Bailey
Player Losses: Malcolm Jenkins, Lance Moore, Darren Sproles, and Roman Harper
Overall Offseason Grade: D+

Regression Likelihood: 50% Fade

Overall Record: 4-4, 7-1, 11-5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers vastly underachieved last season, and I think that they will improve this season. Offensively they lack well known names, and are fairly young, but I think that they can mesh together to become a decent unit. Defensively, the Bucs look to be a bit improved from last season's very poor defense. The draft selections were all solid, though it was a bit odd that they were very offensively focused selections. B
FA Additions: Josh McCown (While other FA QBs may have more potential, Tebow /cough, I thought the Bucs made a great choice to pick up McCown.), Lavelle Hawkins, Brandon Myers, Major Wright, and Michael Johnson
Player Losses: Dan Orlovsky, Tiquan Underwood, Michael Hill, and Mike Williams
Coaching Changes: HC, Greg Schiano to Lovie Smith, OC, Mike Sullivan to Jeff Tedford, and DC, Bill Sheridan to Leslie Frazier (While I did actually think that the previous coaching administration was competent and decent, I think that the new coaching staff will be even better.)
Overall Offseason Grade: B-

Regression Likelihood: 55% Improve

Overall Record: 3-5, 2-6, 5-11

Carolina Panthers
Across the NFL landscape I tend to focus on the positives of teams, while somewhat ignoring the negatives that they have.. The Panthers, however, are an exception to that general sentiment. Cam Newton has always been a decent quarterback in the NFL, not great, but also not horrible. He has been a very consistent player, overall. If the Panthers are going to compete for the NFC South division title this year, then that will have to change. The offense looks like it will be semi-disastrously bad, while the defense should not be able to maintain their level of play from last season. Fairly decent draft selections across the board.  B+
FA Additions: Joe Webb, Jerricho Cotchery, Tiquan Underwood, Jason Avant, Ed Dickson, and Roman Harper (Those were certainly some decent FA acquisitions for the Panthers, which is part of the reason why I don't have the Panthers' record falling further this season.)
Player Losses: Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn, and Steve Smith
Overall Offseason Grade: B

Regression Likelihood: 60% Fade

Overall Record: 3-6, 4-3, 7-9

Atlanta Falcons
Offensively the Falcons have a fair amount of talent, defensively they need more depth and talent at various positions. I think that the Falcons will receive a fair amount of value in their picks.  B
FA Additions: Devin Hester, Javier Arenas, T.J. Yates, and Dwight Lowery
Player Losses: Tony Gonzalez and Asante Samuel
Overall Offseason Grade: B-

Regression Likelihood: 75% Improve

Overall Record: 7-2, 4-3, 11-5

West
St. Louis Rams
St. Louis is lacking in the offensive weapons department, other than Greg Zuerlein anyways, so there's that. In most other divisions I would like the Rams' chances at challenging for the division title, but in the NFC West, I doubt that they will be able to challenge beyond second place. The Rams' draft was surprisingly weak, it's very unlikely that any of their draft selections will end up getting even a fifth of the media attention that Michael Sam has received this offseason. D+
FA Additions: Shaun Hill and Kenny Britt
Player Losses: Kellen Clemens, Daryl Richardson, and Cortland Finnegan
Coaching Changes: DC, Tim Walton to Gregg Williams
Overall Offseason Grade: D+ (Exactly what were the Rams trying to do in the offseason?)

Regression Likelihood: 60% Improve

Overall Record: 2-8, 4-2, 6-10 (I did this before Bradford was determined to be out for the season, but that doesn't really change my prediction for the Rams.  Possibly it should, but I don't have time to go over schedules again anyways.)

San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have some great pieces on offense and their defense isn't far behind. I am not entirely convinced that Colin Kaepernick is a top half QB, however he has the weapons to mitigate his weaknesses. The 49ers have the luxury of being relatively loaded at practically every position and as such had the liberty to select players that had fallen down the draft board and thus get great value picks. B+
FA Additions: Brandon Lloyd, Chris Cook, Antoine Bethea, Stevie Johnson, and Chris Cook
Player Losses: Colt McCoy, Anthony Dixon, and Donte Whitner
Overall Offseason Grade: B+ (The 49ers are currently running the danger of not having a decent QB behind Kaepernick. Otherwise the '9ers did some great stuff.) 

Regression Likelihood: 60% Fade

Overall Record: 7-1, 5-3, 12-4

Seattle Seahawks
Percy Harvin is an extremely great offensive weapon, when healthy, but other than him I find the Seahawks to be somewhat lacking at offensive skill positions. On the other side of the ball, however, Seattle is looking like a great unit, per the usual, and should be a top 5 defense. The Seahawks are a somewhat loaded team, however I found some of their draft choices to be questionable selections given the spot that they were selected. C-
FA Additions: Kevin Williams, Terrelle Pryor, and Phillip Adams
Player Losses: Chris Clemons, Golden Tate, Clinton McDonald, and Brandon Browner
Overall Offseason Grade: D+ (Some player losses are to be expected from any SB winner, however the Seahawks seemed to be oddly complacent in regards to how they tried to replace those lost players.) 

Regression Likelihood: 65% Fade

Overall Record: 7-2, 3-4, 10-6

Arizona Cardinals
Logan Thomas is an interesting pick, although I don't really expect him to succeed in the NFL, otherwise it was a fairly nondescript draft for the Cardinals.  C-
Additions: Jonathan Dwyer, Tedd Ginn, and Antoine Cromartie
Player Losses: Karlos Dansby, Javier Arenas, Rashard Menhall, and Andre Roberts
Overall Offseason Grade: D+

Regression Likelihood: 55% Improve

Overall Record: 5-5, 1-5, 6-10

For some reason the formatting ended up being a little messed up so there appears to always be an extra line between the Overall Offseason Grade and the Regression Likelihood lines, I don't have time to try to fix it again, so I ended up just leaving it how it is.  There were a few other things that I would have liked to include in my NFL Preview, but, overall, I'm still somewhat satisfied with how it turned out.  Thanks for reading.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

NBA Playoffs Preview 2014

THE NBA PLAYOFFS
1 Pacers vs 8 Hawks
It almost seems like this matchup has happened before.. Maybe it happened last year..  Overall this looks to be a fairly boring matchup in multiple respects, but there should be some good defensive play.  Atlanta is a little better than their win/loss record would indicate, but they still are not a very good team.  Indiana has been fairly bad as of late, but I think that the Pacers will start the playoffs by rolling over the Hawks.  Some people have seen the Pacers swoon and thought that the Hawks have chance to make the series interesting, but I do not think that is the case.  I could certainly see the Hawks taking one game, but beyond that possibility the series should never be in doubt, as opposed to what some experts think..  The Pacers should be able to dominate the paint, I fail to see how the Hawks will be able to stop them.  I might be influenced by going against the public perception of the Pacers right now.. If the Hawks had Al Horford then this series could go six or seven, but since they do not I think that Indiana will get out their brooms.  Pacers in 4, despite being approximately the eighth best teamin the NBA

4 Bulls vs 5 Wizards
The Bulls may have the lowest PPG in the NBA, but they also have the best defense, in terms of PPG.  The Wizards are a fairly interesting team, they lack quite a few things, but they make up for that with superior speed and decent play-making by Wall.  The Bulls seem to have a somewhat high variance in that they tend to blow teams out or get blown out, which is especially odd considering how their games are in effect shortened by their style of play.  Chicago has a very even distribution of points across their team.  Noah has taken another step forward in his play this year.  The Bulls are actually the slightly better team with the superior coach, but I'll take Washington.  Wizards in 6.

3 Raptors vs 6 Nets
The Nets certainly have the advantage over the Raptors in terms of playoff experience.  The Raptors actually have a fairly impressive starting lineup and bench, other than Salmons they are all fairly decent players to vaguely decent.  Once again Tyler Hansbrough should be getting more playing time.  The Nets lineup is rather ehh, although Plumlee is quite decent and should be getting a lot more playing time.  This series has some excitement value, but it shouldn't be all that close in the end.  Raptors in 5.

2 Heat vs 7 Bobcats
I am certain that the Heat were upset that they would be matched up with a team that just recently set the record for futility in the NBA.  Then in the next round they either get a team that got bounced in the first round last season or a team that hadn't even made the playoffs since Bosh was on their team.  The East is very weak.  If a team like the Warriors or Timberwolves would be in the quarter of the bracket with the Pacers, then I would probably take that team to advance to the EC finals.
Anyways though, the Bobcats are a very bad team and in various aspects should not even be in the playoffs.  The Heat, meanwhile, most definitely should be in the playoffs and should be in essence gifted with a first round bye.  I think that the cleaning crew will be busy for the second time in the playoffs.  Heat in 4.

Western Conference
1 Spurs vs 8 Mavericks
I really would have preferred that the Grizzlies would be facing the Spurs and the Mavericks would be facing the Thunder, but because of a bounce of the ball that is not what is happening.  The Spurs are an extremely good team, as evidenced by their impressive record, but still I think that they're a somewhat vulnerable team.  However, I don't think that the Mavs are a team that can exploit their weaknesses very well.  The Mavs are a team that I don't really understand in that, in the games that I have watched they tend to launch a high portion of their shots in non-quality locations, and yet they are still a fairly decent team.  I could see this series going in a couple different ways to the Spurs, but I'll go ahead and split the difference and take the Spurs in 5.  This series could easily be a sweep, my mind was just blown by the Spurs players' Win Shares.  I don't understand..  How can a team have only players (those who consistnently get minutes) that are pluses for their team?  Wow.

4 Rockets vs 5 Trail Blazers
The Rockets may be in the second tier of teams, but due to my affinity to the team, the players, and the way and places that they shoot the ball, the Rockets will probably end up being my dark horse team to win the Finals.  The Trail Blazers are a nice surprise, in some regards anyways, and should offer some challenging play to the Rockets.  A healthy Patrick Beverly and Dwight Howard will be key for the Rockets.  Rockets in 6.

3 Clippers vs 6 Warriors
The Clippers have the distinct advantage in this series because of the one-two punch of CP3 and Blake Griffin, however Iguodala and Steph Curry offer a serious challenge.  The Clippers have a serious upgrade from last postseason in that they now have Doc Rivers as HC.  I think that this series has quite a bit of potential variance, I could see Lob City in 4 or Warriors in 7.  The Warriors are kind of an underrated team by me, but my mind was just partially blown by how good the Clippers are. Consequently, I'll take the Clippers in 5.

 2 Thunder vs 7 Grizzlies Two of my favorite teams are matched up here, which further increases my confusion as to what to do with this series.  I don't like how either team is meshing right now, but I could still see either team challenging for a title.  KD nearly produced 20 wins for the Thunder according to Win Shares, wow.  And his PER was an unreal 29.8.

Whether I look at the conventional stats, the unconventional stats, the advanced stats, the basic stats, the eye test, the ear test, just about any test really, Tayshaun Prince does not seem to pass any of them.   Like seriously, every single stat and almost all the times that I have watched the Grizzlies and him play, they seem to be against him.  And yet Prince starts and provides a black hole on offense and mediocre to poor defenses of shots.  I don't understand.

If Westbrook would be healthy (unless that would change the way he plays the game..) and Prince would be out of the lineup for the Grizzlies, then I would actually peg the Grizzlies as the favorites, but since neither of those things happen to be the case I still like the Thunder to win the series.  If KD would be on the Grizzlies, then I would pick Memphis to win the NBA Championship.. But again that isn't the case..  Also, why does Westbrook jack up an average of 5.5 threes per game?  That is efficient basketball at its relative worst.

Perkins played 1200+ minutes for the Thunder this season.  That happens to be 1200+ minutes too many.  He has the same problem as Prince, he fails every single test, other than the have hands that cannot catch passes test which he passes with flying colors.  Thunder in 5.

A lack of upsets in the first round once again.  But I think that things will change in the second round.

Second Round
At this point I needed to get to doing other things, so I didn't go into too much detail for these series.

1 Pacers vs 5 Wizards
Pacers in 5.

2 Heat vs 3 Raptors
The Raptors are a surprisingly young team.  Heat in 5.

1 Spurs vs 4 Rockets
Finally a completely legitimate upset.  Rockets in 6.

2 Thunder 3 Clippers
Redick is the difference in this series, Clippers in 6.  Someday the Thunder may learn that playing bad players tends to hurt your chances of winning... It isn't all rocket science people.

I gave a little thought to getting cute and picking an upset in the second round for the Pacers' and Heat' games, but I didn't get very close to pulling the theoretical trigger.

Championship Games
The matchup that has seemed to be inevitable all season indeed does come to fruition and
home court advantage proves to be the deciding factor in it.  The Heat are the better team, kind of by far, but I again decided to pull the upset.  Pacers in 7.

3 Clippers vs 4 Rockets
I think that there is a bit of rock-paper-scissors to the NBA in that if the Rockets were to play the Thunder instead of the Clippers, then they would most likely lose in 5, but against the Clippers they have a legitimate chance to win the series.
This was another tough series to pull, but I ended up with Rockets in 6.

Championship
1 Pacers vs 4 Rockets
I would be a bit bored with something conventional like Heat vs Clippers or Heat vs Spurs, so that is part of the reason why I ended up with this series.  That and also I think that it has approximately an 9% chance of happening, which isn't great, but there are a lot of different possibilities for championship series and I would put it in the top 5 most probable.  Thankfully the  NBA Finals home court format has finally been changed to the decent format that it should be.  Although in this case that change actually favors the Pacers.  Rockets in 6.