Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The 'Bradley Collegiate Rule'

If you ask a basketball fan whether they prefer college basketball or the NBA you'll probably get a very vocal response. Those who love college ball will enjoy the passion, the atmosphere, the rivalries, their school of choice and of course March Madness. Fans of the NBA will boast about the skill level, the athleticism, the pace of play and the superstars. I for one enjoy the college game mainly because my favorite school, North Carolina has sustained success while my local team, the Washington Wizards have struggled my entire life and my adopted favorite team from decades ago, the Detroit Pistons have had an uneven 25 years since the original Bad Boys era.

NCAA basketball hasn't changed much since I really started watching it in the early to mid 1990's. Sure there are more players who can shoot from further away, but the style of play is pretty much the same. What has changed is how long the student athletes are staying at their school. I'm speaking of the top talent. The NBA and the NCAA cannot figure out what is best for the best athletes and for both the schools and their future NBA teams. In the 90's you had the option to skip the NCAA all together and go straight to the NBA from high school and it had mixed results. For every Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, LeBron James and Dwight Howard you had a Korleone Young, Leon Smith, Kwame Brown and James Lang. Seventeen year old kids had to forego up to 4 years of NCAA eligibility and roll the dice that they were one of the best 400 or so basketball players on the planet. That's a huge gamble. NBA teams, who will forever by mystified by 'potential' had to use one of their precious two draft picks on a completely unknown kid. All they had was game film against other players who would never see the NBA and very rarely even play D-I college ball and hype. When you missed (like the Wizards did with Kwame Brown) you missed big. Not only were fans robbed of seeing these players play on the college level and get better over time, but the players careers were over because you get one shot to succeed in the NBA. By the age of 20 these kids were done playing pro ball in the United States. Other kids their age were just finishing their Junior year of college potentially.

Starting in 2006 the NBA enacted the rule that to be eligible for the draft you had to be a full year removed from your High School class or 19 years of age. Initially this sounded okay. Fans would get to see the most hyped high school players play at least 25 college games to see if they were really good (i.e.Kevin Durant at the University of Texas). Then the issues arose. Would high school kids go to Europe for a year like Brandon Jennings did? That would still keep the NCAA locked out of top talent. No good for fans. What about the one and done's (as they would be come to known) and their education? All you had to do was be eligible for a semester and then knowing you weren't coming back could just relax in the spring (see Ben Simmons at LSU). Not good for the NCAA again. Recruiting would become horrible as you wouldn't know how long your players would stick around for. Then schools like the University of Kentucky and Duke realized they could just gather 3-5 of the best high school players every year and play a single season together. With everyone on the roster knowing they had one goal of playing in the NBA the next year they could showcase their talent on what is basically a six-month super senior high school All-Star team.

I despise this.

I am so glad North Carolina hasn't fallen prey to this cycle. I like to watch players get better over a 3-4 year period. See your defending champions with Seniors Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks and Juniors Justin Jackson and Joel Berry II. Both UK and Duke have won a National Championship since adopting their one and done rosters while UNC has been to 3 championship games, winning twice since 2006, with their style of recruiting. For fans like me I would hate to see a player for one season just to watch him leave for the NBA whether he was ready or not. No consistency, no flow and in five years the players are mostly forgotten. I'm looking at you Brandan Wright.

As for NBA teams they now get 25 more games of film to watch for the player but drafting college freshmen is still basically a crap shoot. Current mock drafts have 20+ freshman/international players being selected in just the first round of the NBA draft. Again that is a huge gamble on such a small sample size. How can a NBA team rationalize drafting oft-injured Duke freshman Harry Giles who averaged just 3.9 points and missed his senior year in High School due to a torn ACL? Compare that to how it used to be where it was rare for for college players to leave even after playing three years. Shaq played three years at LSU, Michael Jordan played three years at UNC, Tim Duncan played four years at Wake Forest and Steph Curry played three years at Davidson. Of course I have cherry picked names. There are plenty of juniors and seniors who have flopped in the NBA just as there have been plenty of freshman and sophomores to have great success at the next level.

Still I want to make it better for everyone. I want the NBA to receive players ready to play against the best talent in the world. This will allow coaches and GMs to have better success and teams to be able to build through the draft the way it was supposed to be. For the NCAA I want players to stay in school as long as possible. It will make the game better, help strengthen rivalries and force the kids to at least attend classes at a higher rate to stay eligible. Remember when Patrick Ewing went to three national championship games? Or when Christian Laettner went to four Final Fours or when Final Four MOP, Joel Berry came back for his senior season?

Here is my plan and how I came about it.

I was looking over drafts of years past and I noticed that Larry Bird was drafted sixth overall in 1978 by the Boston Celtics. Then it struck me...how was that possible?? Larry Bird played in the most famous college basketball game of all time in 1979 against Magic Johnson who was drafted first overall a few months later. Turns out Larry Bird was able to return to school and Boston had until draft night in 1979 to sign him or else he would go back into the draft. Apparently Bird had wanted to be the highest paid player on the Celtics or else he was going to go back into the draft where either the Lakers or Bulls would have been able to get Magic and Bird. Imagine that for a minute with Bird in LA and Magic in Chicago! The Celtics wound up making Bird the highest paid player in the NBA and I'd say that worked out for everyone including Chicago who continued to struggle until they backed into Michael Jordan five years later.

I don't like the fact that NBA teams could just draft a player whether they declared or not like how the Celtics did for Bird. What a huge risk for the NBA as the player has all the power once selected.

What I want to see is a hybrid of what Larry Bird got to do.

As the college basketball season ends, players can declare for the NBA up until mid-April. At the time they can not hire an agent, attend a NBA camp and then make a decision to stay in the draft or return to school. This decision needs to be made by the end of May so that the draft field is set for late June when the NBA draft is held.

Now for the twist.

Let the draft happen as normal, but as soon as it ends teams and players have 30 days to decide whether that player will stay in the NBA or go back to school for a final season. Either way the player signs their rookie contract with the same guaranteed money as it is now. This money would be held in a trust until the day that player finished in school to avoid any NCAA issues. If they returned to school as stated they can only play one season and will still be under contract to join their NBA team immediately following the conclusion of their college season. Imagine an NBA team getting a 'call-up' down the stretch in late March?

Not every player who gets drafted will be on team with an immediate need. Send them back to school. Maybe they are a long term project. Send them back to school. Maybe they are just full of  'potential' and could use another year of seasoning (or needed that money for the family). Send them back to school.

My case in point this year could be somebody like freshman center Tony Bradley from UNC. He has potential but he came off the bench for the Tar Heels. Let him get drafted but it would be wise of that team to send him back to school where he will be a focal point of the offense. Let him get stronger and develop a better offensive post game playing 30 minutes a game rather than coming off the bench for 4-6 minutes a game. This will also allow fans of that NBA team to track their future player the way MLB fans do with the minor leagues. Bridging the gap between those who watch the NBA and those who watch NCAA. The advantage to UNC would be getting back a pro-caliber player for another year. Roy Williams would now know exactly when Bradley was going to leave and would be able to recruit with that in mind. Tony Bradley would have a guaranteed payday and the ability to improve himself while missing most of his rookie year while playing far more than he would have anyways.

For the NCAA this would hopefully be the end to the 'one and done' super teams. With more players coming back for a sophomore season the talent pool would get spread around to smaller schools. In recent years the 'mid-major' schools have disappeared from the rankings and NCAA Tournament. It will be a trickle down effect. Top stars won't recycle annually forcing second tier players to get their playing time elsewhere in the hopes of catching the eye of pro scouts. More schools playing better basketball and better basketball players playing longer for their schools. Name recognition increases as do story lines, rivalries and quality of play.

Win-win-win. The NBA mitigates its risk of forcing players into their lineup before they're ready. NCAA schools get a better, more consistent product and elite athletes get that guaranteed money for when they leave school.

In 1979 it was known as the 'Bird Collegiate Rule' that ended the option of going back to school after being drafted. Now I will be more than happy to start the push for the 'Bradley Collegiate Rule' to try something new.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Redemption

'Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!' - Godfather III


I have not sat down and written a blog post in well over a year. It's been a combination of lack of ideas, time and mostly motivation. Now I sit here just over 24 hours away from another Final Four for my beloved North Carolina Tar Heel basketball team and after reading personal entries by Marcus Paige and Kennedy Meeks, I am now inspired.


I have poured my heart out onto paper about the best and worst times of being a Tar Heel fan. This was back in 2013 where I described the 10 best moments I personally have had and the 10 worst moments I have suffered through. Obviously the last shot of the 2016 season would now make the list and the last shot of the game on Sunday versus Kentucky would make that list.


I am now approaching 40 years of age, have a wife and a four year old son. I always assumed my passion for the men's basketball team in Chapel Hill would dwindle as I got older. After all, I didn't attend UNC and I have only seen a handful of games live in my lifetime.


It has not.


Every year I fall head over (pun intended) heels for the new team of 18-22 year kids who adorn those classic baby blue and white Nike jerseys. It is a slow build as I don't allow myself to live and die with every regular season game like in years past. When I was in high school I knew I had to face the mockery of my fellow students AND teachers after a Carolina loss. My sister had to field phone calls all night long on our house phone after a loss. A regular season loss! A loss to supposedly lowly Georgia Tech would have had me faking a cough and cold to get out of school. I had put way too much pressure on something I couldn't control.


This all changes when the calendar turns to March. The beast in me comes out. I resort back to my old ways of locking myself away from the public, turning the lights off and watching the tournament all alone. It is for the safety of everyone else. I'm just not safe to be around during those two hours. I'm an emotional wreck. During the second half of the Kentucky game I went through the seven stages of grief on multiple occasions. Picture below courtesy of Pinterest.




When Roy called timeout I was flying right through Depression and had hit Acceptance by the time the commercial break was over. After Kennedy Meeks failed to inbound the ball I landed on denial and then the corresponding three pointer sent me to Anger, Bargaining and Depression all at once. The last 14 seconds had me see all seven stages up until Luuuuuuuuuke saved their bacon.


I thought the National Championship of 2005 would have cured me of this. As the time ticked off on the longest 12 year drought in my life I let out a primal scream that I thought I could never replicate. Wrong again.


2006 was a rebuilding year, no expectations. It was the most fun I have had during a regular season. Tyler Hansbrough and the freshman class that would eventually cut the nets down three years later could not disappoint. Until March. Just when I was happy enough for UNC not to be terrible, they got really, really good. They faced George Mason in the 2nd round of the tournament. My wife of 7 months went to George Mason. She couldn't care less about the game, but when the Patriots shocked the Heels, she knew to avoid me for a day or two.


The next year UNC blew a late lead in the Elite 8 to my favorite team of my early youth, Georgetown, with a trip to the Final Four on the line. It was personal now, but it would get worse before it got better.


The 2008 Final Four was awful, just bloody awful. It was over before it started, but of course UNC made a run just to give me a second of hope before it was dashed away. That was to be the year. Everyone was going to leave and UNC was going to have to start all over. A funny thing happened though as everyone came back.


2009 from beginning to end was a coronation. Never once did I feel that UNC wasn't going to win the title. They made it look so easy. I didn't scream like I did in 2005, hell I barely broke a sweat. Then again maybe it was me drifting away from being a fanatic?? Nope.


I was able to make it through 2010 because I knew it was going to be a rebuilding year. Duke winning it all didn't help though.


2011 looked to be another rebuilding year until Kendall Marshall emerged. Then I was hooked. He has been far and away my favorite Tar Heel since the 2009 season. He had the ball on a string and made difficult play look effortless. He was also the first athlete that I followed to ever show a personality on Twitter. I grew closer to the team through social media with @Kbutter5 leading the way. The late surge by the Heels had me dreaming of another title, but once again another blue blood got in the way. This time it was Kentucky. How I hate Kentucky. I thought the band was going to break up after that defeat, but when they all came back I knew 2012 was going to be the year.


This was my favorite team. Ever. I was glued to every moment of the 2012 team. The game versus Kentucky was a National Championship preview. They were the two best teams of year no questions asked. Then along came Creighton. {insert string of curse words and hand gestures}. I'm still angry. I feel like us fans were robbed of our chance. I know the players were. One dirty play and all that hard work those kids had worked for was gone. In an instant. I was depressed for a long time. UNC valiantly won a game without Kendall and almost stole one against Kansas. 'Wrist watch 2012' sucked.


2013-2015 were blurs. Maybe it was becoming a father. Maybe it was the hangover to the 2012 team. I thought my passion had run out. My son was my life now. Things had changed. Sure I was there watching UNC fall just short to Iowa State and Wisconsin in the tournament. I still watched all the games. Heck I even watched an ACC Tournament game in a public setting...voluntarily.


Then along came the 2016 team. Whether it was Marcus Paige being as good off the court as he was on the court or Brice Johnson finally developing into the player we had hoped for this team clicked with me. They loved each other and you could tell. The fun they had playing as a team family poured though my television on a nightly basis. I was in the Dean Dome for Paige's return to the lineup vs. Maryland. It was electric. I went to the quarterfinal and semifinal games of the ACC Tournament as it was played in D.C.. This was going to be the team to get another banner raised.


Through five games of the NCAA Tournament, UNC was hardly challenged. I was supremely confident that Carolina would defeat Villanova. I know the players felt this too. Read what Marcus Paige wrote, they loved to play with and for each other. Roy knew he had a special group of kids. Carolina didn't play great, but just when all hope was lost, they rallied. Of course they did. Marcus Paige hit the shot heard round Tobacco Road and at that moment everything was okay. UNC was going to win. They had escaped. 4.7 seconds later the season ended in the worst possible way. To be so close yet be so far away is maddening. I wasn't even 3 years old the last time UNC lost a championship game. This was new to me. I didn't know how to react. I'll never re-watch the game much less Paige's amazing shot. I know what happens next.


I knew the 2017 team was going to still be good. I didn't know how I'd feel as a fan. It is an odd feeling. I coasted through the regular season knowing that nothing meant anything to me save for six games in March and early April. Beating Duke, losing the Duke and Kentucky meant nothing. I was numb. Give me the tournament. Carolina breezed through their first game. Arkansas should have knocked them out, but this team wouldn't quit. It was that comeback that woke me up from my year long coma. I now knew they could do it. They spit in the face of adversity and proved they weren't caught up in memories of a year ago. They dismantled Butler. The brought up Kentucky. Again. That primal scream from 2005 returned for me. That shot was for Kendall Marshall, Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson. It was for everyone that didn't get to cut down a net and hoist a trophy that wore Carolina Blue or cheered for them like they were a part of the team.


If UNC happens to win their next two games I feel like Marcus and Brice should be there. I feel like this is still their team. The players are obviously playing for them and for themselves. The Redemption Season is how it is being dubbed and I'm okay with that. This is just an extension of what almost was last year. Whatever happens I know I am invested. Of course I am. Just when I thought I was out, they have brought me back.



Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Does This Make Me a Bad Fan?

I am a die hard Washington Redskins fan.

I am old enough to remember watching two of the three Super Bowls in their franchise history.

I have sat through the last 23 mostly pointless seasons.

I cried when Sean Taylor died.

I cried after Chris Cooley scored three times while I was at my first live Redskins v Cowboys games which was just days after my cousin died in a car accident.

I bought a RGIII jersey for me and my newborn son and had him on my fantasy team during that magical 2012 run.

I would be happy if the 2015 Redskins lost two of their final three games this season.

You read correctly and no this does not make me a bad fan. At 6-7 the Redskins are in the catbird seat of a very underwhelming NFC East. In my mind they have already matched expectations going into the season. Would a 9-7 season and a division crown be great? Sure, of course it would. But, and this is a big but, this team is not winning a Super Bowl. They still have far too many holes, have suffered too many injuries that crippled their growing depth and just cannot compete against the best the NFL has to offer. We have already seen them get outscored by the two Super Bowl favorites (the Panthers/Patriots) 71-26. They haven't won back to back games during their last 21 games played. They just snapped a pesky nine game losing streak on the road. To win a Super Bowl they would have to not only win 8 straight games, but four more road games including road games against the same Panthers and either Arizona or Green Bay. It is not happening.

For the first time since 2012 and maybe even more so because they didn't give up draft picks recently, I can honestly say that I believe the Redskins are on a good path. They have a proven person in charge of finding talent and depth. They have a quarterback who seems to grasp an NFL style offense. They have plus talent at some key skill positions and they are not cap strung nor have they mortgaged their draft picks. All this and they are still probably two years away from hopefully being a contender. They need to bring in 20 more draft picks, avoid the injury bug, stick with Kirk Cousins and the entire coaching staff and see what happens. This is how it is done in the NFL. You can't buy a Super Bowl. It comes via the draft and continuity.

Now the reasons why I want the Redskins to lose out this season.

1) I don't want to lose to Seattle by 30 on our home field in the playoffs.

2) I want a better draft pick

3) I want an easier (in theory) schedule next year

The East is locked in as the #4 seed for this years playoffs in the NFC. The Seahawks are the current #5 seed and can't win their division. The last three times the Redskins have made the playoffs, their season has ended with a loss to Seattle. No thank you, been there done that. They aren't ready for that.

{Counter-point}

You have to get playoff experience in order to know how to win in the playoffs. Yes and no. Making the playoffs is one thing, but being good and winning 10+ games repeatedly is far more important. Let's look at the last few champions:

2010 Season

Champion Green Bay Packers went 10-6 a year after going 11-5

2011 Season

Champion New York Giants went 9-7 a year after going 10-6

2012 Season

Champion Baltimore Ravens went 10-6 a year after going 12-4

2013 Season

Champion Seattle Seahawks went 13-3 a year after going 11-5

2014 Season

Champion New England Patriots went 12-4 a year after going 12-4

So the last five champs won their Super Bowl with 10.8 wins but also won 11.2 games the previous year. Only the Giants in 2011 failed to win 10+ in a year during or before winning a Super Bowl.

Fact: The Redskins can't win 10 games this year...but a few losses will serve two purposes.

It is about time Washington builds through the draft. If you count RGIII as all but gone, the Redskins will have just one 1st or 2nd round draft pick on their roster from 2012-2014. That is embarrassing. In 2015, their first year with new GM Scot McCloughan, the Redskins actually drafted both a first round pick and a second round pick! One small step for....well you get it. Do it again in 2016 and it's a trend. Do it again in 2017 and it's a miracle. The last time (and realizing this won't help prove my points) the Redskins had three consecutive years drafted in both the first round and the second round was 1993-95. As long as the Redskins don't need to draft a QB (Heath Shuler) this strategy might actually work.

Right now Washington would draft 21st overall. With 2 or more losses to end the season, they could crack the top 12. That's the easiest way to trade up in my opinion.

{Counter-point}

Kirk Cousins is average at best. The Redskins need to draft a QB.

Go away. This is how the trouble started in 2012. Kirk is good enough to win a Super Bowl. You don't have to be Tom Brady to win a Super Bowl, hell Eli Manning won two and he's downright awful at times. You can hide an average to above average QB around a great defense and quality offensive line. I'm looking at you Joe Flacco and Russell Wilson. It takes 53 people to win a Super Bowl. The Redskins have about 20 people so far that can get them there. That's up from 10 last year. Get it to over 40 and you're in the mix.

So how do you win 10+ games? For the Redskins it will involve not having to travel to the Meadowlands more than once, to undefeated Atlanta, New England and Carolina in 2016.

 We already know 14 of the 16 opponents for Washington next year. The six games in the division and four each against the NFC and AFC North. What is up for grabs could be the difference between 9 wins and 11 wins for them next year if they keep progressing.

If the Redskins win the NFC East here is who they play:

Home vs Carolina (3 time defending NFC South Champion)
Road at Arizona (Won 10, then 11 and already with 11 wins with 3 to go last 3 seasons)

If the Redskins finish 3rd in the East here is who they play:

Home vs either Tampa Bay (Redskins beat), New Orleans (Redskins beat) or Atlanta (lost 7 of 8 since squeaking by Washington)
Road* at St. Louis Rams (Redskins beat) *Also this game would be played on a neutral site in London where I'm sure Washington fans would outnumber St. Louis fans, because St. Louis is an apathetic fan base for football.

A third place finish gets Washington 8 home games, 6 true road games and two games in London (as they are already guaranteed a 'road' game vs Cincinnati across the pond.

Current win/loss % of 2015 non-NFC East opponents: 70-60 .538
Current win/loss % of 2016 non-NFC East opp (1st place schedule): 75-55
Current win/loss % of 2016 non-NFC East opp (3rd place schedule): 62-68

It's not often you can double your wins and get a potentially much easier schedule the following year. Plus you only have to play 6 true road games!!

This is the best case scenario for the Redskins if they hope to get to double digit wins in 2016. This will lead to dreams of a 2017 Super Bowl season which is what we all want, right?

So please Washington, do us all a favor and lose to Buffalo and Philadelphia and then beat the crap out of Dallas. Lock in that 3rd seed, draft well and take advantage of a very soft 2016 schedule.

I'll see you back in Minnesota in February of 2018 where the Redskins will defend their Super Bowl crown there.

Friday, October 9, 2015

My Dream Theater

If I had all the money in the world...

How many of us have started a journal entry like this? I have just returned from watching 'The Martian' in theaters and no I'm not going to give you a review (go see it). I always have the same thought when watching movies, especially now that I'm older and have seen multiple generations worth of movies.

Why aren't there theaters that show older, similar, versions of the new movie you're going to see? I'm going to cut out all the red tape and live in a world where movie studios have worked out an agreement to share revenue made off of this idea and the SAG have done likewise for all revenue generated to be split up to the actors.

Now that we have cleared that up, here is what I would like to see:

I want theaters to offer double features for $2-$3 more where I could have watched 'The Martian' and a combination of either 'Apollo 13' 'Red Planet' or 'Mission to Mars.' Provide a 5-10 minute intermission between films and in house food/drink and you're all set for a good time.

If you assume two movies would run about 4-5 hours total you could still have time slots of 11a-3:30p 4-8:30p and 9p-1:30a. Some of the losses of less showings will be made up in food costs (just stop offering free refills for large popcorn/soda) along with alcohol costs for the adults.

Most blockbuster movies are sequels/remakes anyways nowadays so there shouldn't be an issue finding a suitable pairing of movies. This could also revitalize the dwindling numbers of Drive-Ins. It's amazing that outdoor movies are so popular during the summer, but Drive-Ins are nearing extinction. The last time I went to a Drive-In was to see the low budget, but effective thriller 'Open Water.' Imagine if they had paired that up with 'Jaws?' (which I have also watched outdoors) Don't you think the allure of seeing Jaws again on the big screen would give a bump to Open Water and bring together generations of movie watchers?

Recently I took my wife to see the original 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory' on the big screen. The theater brought two of the original cast members in to sign posters and do a Q&A. I love the thinking behind this. There were older people in the audience and obviously younger people attending and the theater charged extra, but guess what, it was sold out. Now take out the Q&A and add in a screening of Johnny Depp's version for the same cost or a bit less and who would have complained? Not me.

In my life I've tried to see re-releases in theaters or at outdoor film fests as much as possible. Especially for the movies I never had a chance to see during their original theatrical run.

If you look back at the top grossing movies of 2015 what would you have paired them up with?


Jurassic World (Sequel) Pick a Jurassic movie
Avengers: Age of Ultron (Sequel) Avengers
Inside Out - Anything Disney/Pixar
Furious 7 - (Sequel) Any Fast & Furious or go outside the box with Paul Walker's 'Into the Blue'
Minions - (Spin off) Despicable Me
Cinderella (2015) (Remake) A Cinderella Story or the original Disney animated version
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (sequel) Stay in the franchise or older Tom Cruise with 'Top Gun'
Pitch Perfect 2 (sequel) Pitch Perfect since it gathered steam after it left theaters
Ant-Man (spin off) Lots of Marvel to choose from, I say the Edward Norton version of 'The Incredible Hulk'
Home (2015) Dreamworks' 'Antz'
Fifty Shades of Grey - Basic Instinct
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water - I'd go with The Rugrats Movie
Straight Outta Compton - 'Notorious' or 'Menace II Society'
San Andreas - Pick an end of the world movie like 1974's 'Earthquake' starring Charlton Heston
Mad Max: Fury Road - (Remake) Mad Max 2
The Divergent Series: Insurgent (Sequel) Divergent
Kingsman: The Secret Service - The Original Austin Powers
Spy - 'If Looks Could Kill' with Richard Greico (a guilty pleasure of mine)
Trainwreck - How about 'The 40 Year Old Virgin'
Hotel Transylvania 2 (Sequel) or 'Casper' with Christina Ricci
Tomorrowland - You could stay safe with Disney or go with 1973's 'Westworld'
Get Hard - Black/white buddy films...I'm going 'Money Talks'
Terminator: Genisys (Sequel/Prequel) 'The Terminator'
Taken 3 - (Sequel) Taken or a more classic good guy vs all the bad guys like 'Dirty Harry'
Ted 2 - (Sequel) Ted or the cult classic 'Meet the Feebles'
Pixels - 'Wreck-It Ralph' or 'The Wizard' with Fred Savage
Paddington - 1998's 'Madeline'
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (Sequel) Paul Blart
The Martian - 'Apollo 13' 'Red Planet' 'Mission To Mars'
Magic Mike XXL (Sequel) Magic Mike or 'The Full Monty'
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (Sequel) Maze Runner or 'Cube' because you probably missed it

 The options are really endless as Hollywood continues to regurgitate the same story lines, but updated with better special effects and higher budgets. Bringing back movies of your parents generation would help keep people going to the theaters for years to come. 




Tuesday, September 8, 2015

NFL Crystal Ball 2015

The only question that should be on your mind is: 'Can he do it for a third straight season?'

Let's look back at my Super Bowl prediction from two years ago... HERE

And then for good measure, last year... HERE

Two years in a row I picked the correct teams in the upcoming Super Bowl and two years in a row I picked the wrong outcome.

I made my all too early Super Bowl prediction again at the end of last year and it was Green Bay over Indianapolis, but that was before Frank Gore was brought to Indy and before Jordy Nelson tore his ACL for the Packers. So much has changed so I went back to my XBOX this past weekend and played every single NFL game to come up with another practically perfect prediction.

The one part about my predictions that never come true is the individual performers. My breakouts become busts and my busts challenge for MVPs. No worries, I'm a results oriented person and nobody can take away my playoff predictions from a year ago (especially the AFC bracket).

Here are your 2015 break out candidates:

QB - Teddy Bridgewater - probably because I follow way too many people from the Minnesota area on Twitter for someone who lives in Virginia, but I'm on board with everything Teddy and the Vikings this year. AP is back, Kyle Rudolph will be healthy and the wide receivers can't be as awful as they were last season as a group. The playbook will open up and Bridgewater will flourish. 27 TD passes and 3 more on the ground for Teddy.

RB - Isaiah Crowell - Everyone and their mother is picking Duke Johnson to be the Browns running back to own in fantasy football, but not me. Sure he will get his touches, but Crowell gets the first shot and with a healthy Browns offensive line, it'll be his breakout season, not Johnson. 10 rushing touchdowns for him on the season.

WR - I'm not going to chicken out here, but it seems like everyone is picking from the group of Jordan Matthews, Davante Adams, John Brown and DeVante Parker. Who is left to choose? Do I go other obvious rookies like Amari Cooper, Nelson Agholor or Devin Funchess? How about vets in new places like Jeremy Maclin or Andre Johnson? No I'm going with Allen Robinson of your favorite team that you forget is in the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars. As I explained to a fellow fantasy drafter, he is the number one WR in Jacksonville and not Allen Hurns. 1100 yards and 8 touchdowns for the true Allen.

Here are your 2015 bust candidates:

QB - Russell Wilson - Yeah he got Jimmy Graham and yeah he can run like the wind, but cracks are forming for the Seahawks. The offensive line is in shambles, Wilson has suffered a concussion and thinks he can fix it with water and the team will still lean on Marshawn Lynch. This year Wilson misses 2 games and struggles at other times as he doesn't live up to his high fantasy rating. 19 total touchdowns.

RB - So many choices: DeMarco Murray who is bound to injure himself after his 9000 touches last season? LeSean McCoy who is already injured and on the Bills? Alfred Morris who everyone assumes will be relegated to a backup role my Week 6 in Washington? AP who missed a full year and passed 30 years of age? Matt Forte who will catch about half the passes as he did last year with a new offensive coordinator? Justin Forsett who could be a one year wonder when we look back? More rookie busts like previous seasons with Melvin Gordon and T.J. Yeldon? Well I'm going off the board with Mark Ingram. I actually think the Saints will surprise, but it will have to be an entire team effort. The Saints just do not lean on a single running back for a whole season. He fails to top 1000 yards and scores just 6 times.

WR - Alshon Jeffrey - As go the Bears horrible season goes the production level of the already injured Jeffrey. He is fully elevated to the #1 WR in Chicago as Brandon Marshall has left for New York so he gets all the attention from defenses and he still has Jay Cutler throwing to him (at least until Cutler is benched in Week 7 as the season becomes lost).

MVP - Andrew Luck narrowly edges out a pissed off Tom Brady

Here are your future 2015 NFL Standings:

NFC EAST

Philadelphia Eagles 11-5

Dallas Cowboys 10-6New York Giants 8-8
Washington Redskins 6-10 

NFC NORTH

Green Bay Packers 11-5

Detroit Lions 10-6
Minnesota Vikings 9-7
Chicago Bears 4-12

NFC SOUTH

New Orleans Saints 12-4 

Atlanta Falcons 8-8 
Carolina Panthers 5-11
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-12

NFC WEST

Arizona Cardinals 11-5

Seattle Seahawks 9-7
St. Louis Rams 4-12
San Francisco 49ers 4-12

AFC EAST

New England Patriots 13-3

Miami Dolphins 9-7
Buffalo Bills 7-9
New York Jets 3-13

AFC NORTH

Baltimore Ravens 10-6

Cincinnati Bengals 10-6
Pittsburgh Steelers 10-6
Cleveland Browns 6-10

AFC SOUTH

Indianapolis Colts 13-3 

Houston Texans 8-8
Jacksonville Jaguars 4-12
Tennessee Titans 3-13

AFC WEST

Denver Broncos 12-4
Kansas City Chiefs 10-6

San Diego Chargers 7-9
Oakland Raiders 6-10

Playoffs:

NFC

1. New Orleans 12-4
2. Green Bay 11-5
3. Philadelphia 11-5
4. Arizona 11-5
5. Dallas 10-6
6. Detroit 10-6

Wild Card Round:

Arizona over Dallas
Philadelphia over Detroit

Divisional Round:

Arizona over New Orleans
Green Bay over Philadelphia

NFC Championship:

Green Bay over Arizona

AFC

1. Indianapolis 13-3
2. New England 13-3
3. Denver 12-4
4. Baltimore 10-6
5. Kansas City 10-6
6. Cincinnati 10-6

Wild Card Round:

Kansas City over Baltimore
Denver over Cincinnati

Divisional Round:

Indianapolis over Kansas City
New England over Denver

AFC Championship:

Indianapolis over New England

Super Bowl:

Green Bay over Indianapolis 27-24 - Aaron Rodgers Super Bowl MVP