On To The Super Bowl: Pats Find Rhythm, Rout Steelers

The Patriots had themselves a big win, topping the Steelers 36-17. Tom Brady had a huge game. He threw for almost 400 yards. More than half of the yards went to Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan, who combined for 280 yards and 3 TDs. The Steelers just couldn’t put up points.  
The Pats defense messed up Pittsburgh’s style of play. They prevented big plays and held Pittsburgh to 2 TDs and a field goal. The Steelers needed to score TDs to beat the Pats. The Patriots offense was unbelievable. Between trick plays, and lots of passing, they really tired out Pittsburgh’s secondary. The Pats even pulled off a flea flicker that went for a Chris Hogan touchdown. The Steelers struggled in the red zone, and struggled to make big plays under the pressure of the Pats D.  
The Pats got to a fast start. They tried a new strategy, accepting the ball and going no huddle early on. They made a huge completion to Julian Edelman for 41 yards. It was mostly yards after the catch, which the Patriots lead in this season. However, the Pats were held to a field goal. But a couple of drives later, the Pats took a bigger lead after a TD to Chris Hogan.  
Just after the quarter ended, the Steelers scored their first touchdown. Their drive lacked big plays, but the Steelers slowly moved downfield, even with Le’Veon Bell hurt. Bell injured his groin early, and missed the rest of the game.
When the Pats got the ball back, they responded. The Pats got a first down at the 34, and then the unbelievable happened. It looked like Brady was going to run to Dion Lewis again, but Lewis flicked it back, and Brady found Hogan for a touchdown!! Even Hogan tricked the Steelers on the flea flicker. He started the play moving leisurely but started to speed to the end zone just as Lewis flicked it back.  


The Steelers struggled to get to the end zone next drive, but scored a field goal right before halftime. It was 17-9 Pats. The Steelers wanted to try and double score, but New England wouldn’t let them. The Steelers instead went 3 and out. In addition to that, the Pats scored a field goal on the next drive to extend their lead!
The next time the Patriots got the ball back, Tom Brady reached 300 passing yards on a 39 yard pass to Chris Hogan. It’s his 11th career postseason 300-yard game, tying a Peyton Manning record. Hogan also broke a receiving record. Blount came in, starting what looked like a rush for a first down, but then he pushed through five Steelers defenders to get to the 1. The next play, he ran in the TD. 27-9 Pats.  


The Pats got the ball right back as well. On the first Steelers play, Kyle Van Noy knocked the ball out of wide receiver Eli Rogers’ hands after he had caught it, and Rob Ninkovich recovered it! The Pats quickly scored another touchdown, this time to Julian Edelman. However, the extra point was no good.  
The Steelers tried to respond, but the Steelers were stopped in the red zone. They went for it on 4th down, but still couldn’t score. The next time Pittsburgh had the ball, Eric Rowe made a huge interception!! He caught as if he was the receiver, than returned it for 37 yards!  

The Pats were held to a field goal after a Tom Brady sack, despite a good drive. It was 36-9. On their next drive, Pittsburgh trekked to the end zone for another touchdown. They even made the 2 point conversion. But it wasn’t nearly enough.  
All the Pats needed was a first down.

 Then after the two-minute warning, it was all over. The Pats won 36-17. They will advance to Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons, who somehow blew out Green Bay before the Pats game.  
It’s official, the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons will compete in Super Bowl LI.  

 Top 15 Remaining MLB Free Agents and Where They’ll Sign

The MLB off season is beginning to wrap up, but there are still some really good free agents on the market that are yet to be signed.  Most of free agency has wrapped itself up, and we now have a pretty good idea about what each team needs, and how good each team will be.  But final spring training rosters have not formed quite yet, and because of that I’m waiting until Februrary to release my 2017 MLB Preview and 2017 Ranking the MLB Teams.  For now, we’ll take a look at the best free agents left, and predict where they’ll end up.
Comment your thoughts on my Top 15  and my signing prediction.
Note: Tyson Ross, Jose Bautista and Colby Rasmus aren’t included due to supposed deals they’ve made that aren’t confirmed.

15.  Image result for alexei ramirez Alexei Ramirez SS


2016 Teams: San Diego Padres/Tampa Bay Rays


Ramirez isn’t the same anymore, but there are a few teams who don’t even have a better shortstop, or even a better shortstop option. I think he will be able to get a starting job somewhere, I don’t think he’s worth signing to a team that needs a difference maker at shortstop, but he will fill a hole. He’ll sign with a team that needs a temporary option at shortstop, kind of like Ryan Howard or Juan Uribe at their positions.

My Prediction: Seattle Mariners, 2 years, 12 million


Ramirez could actually be a good fit in Seattle, and Seattle doesn’t really have anyone to take over at shortstop, so I think Ramirez will get two or three years here. Since he has declined, he won’t get the same money he used to, but he will boost the imbalanced Mariners lineup.

 

14. Image result for brandon moss Brandon Moss OF/1B

2016 Team: St. Louis Cardinals

Moss had a good 2016 season in St. Louis, and he’s a powerful utility that could fit into many schemes.  Moss is 33, but he could get a good deal for a couple of years.  He will be able to boost a lineup that needs it, or be a final puzzle piece for a team that wants to contend.  I could see him fitting into so many schemes, so this prediction was hard.  But I was able to narrow it down to a few suitors and I made up my mind.

My Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers, 3 years, $29 million

This is a good fit for Moss.  Moss will bring veteran help to a young Brewers lineup, and he will boost the Brewers hitting power and playoff chances.  Due to his age, he won’t get that big a deal but he should get a good amount of money and a few years in Milwaukee.

13. Image result for ryan howard Ryan Howard 1B

2016 Team: Philadelphia Phillies

Howard sure isn’t in his prime anymore, but he would be a good veteran mentor in his last few years.  The Phillies don’t need him, they have Tommy Joseph now, but Howard should find a job elsewhere.  I don’t think Howard will sign a long term deal, but for his next couple years, he will not be left in the depths of free agency.  He will find a home in the MLB.  The question is, where?  Plenty of teams need help at first base.

My Prediction: Houston Astros, 2 years, $8 million

Howard won’t be starting at first base for long, but until Tyler White is a little more developed, Marwin Gonzalez can’t be number 1 on the first base depth chart.  They need another first baseman to fill in until White’s ready for an almost full time starting job.  Howard will also be a good veteran mentor to the many young developing players that Houston holds.  Howard had spent years winning titles in Philly before his decline.

 

 

12. Image result for juan uribe Juan Uribe 3B

2016 Team: Cleveland Indians

Uribe did do the job at third for the Indians, at least as an extra option.  Jose Ramirez did end up working out for them, so they won’t be needing Uribe back.  But he can fill in for another team like that.  He’s in a similar situation to Ryan Howard.  He’s not a long term commitment, just someone to fill in until a prospect is ready.  At his age, he’s not a premier player anymore.  He’s going to have to deal with smaller contracts until retirement, but for now Uribe is a helpful short term option for teams that need him at different times.  He may even get traded to another team with a similar situation midway through the season.  But I don’t think he’ll be left in free agency.

My Prediction: Cincinnati Reds, 1 year, $5 million

Like I said, Uribe is not a long term option, or even an everyday starter.  But the Reds aren’t quite ready for a full rebuild in the lineup, so signing a veteran for now will be a decent idea.  Uribe will boost the lineup until the Reds are comfortable with their prospects starting and trade all their veterans away.  That could happen this season, so I wouldn’t commit long term to Uribe.

 

 

11. Image result for chase utley Chase Utley 2B

2016 Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

Utley is no longer in his prime.  He was also part of the last era of the Phillies like Ryan Howard.  Utley has done pretty well with the Dodgers, and I think he fits nicely.  The Dodgers, who have lost Howie Kendrick (ironically, to the Phillies) and Utley, now have a hole at second base.  Enrique Hernandez and Micah Johnson aren’t quite ready to take over at second.  Will Utley return to LA or grab a contract somewhere else?

My Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers, 2 years, $16 million

Like I said, Utley fits in with the Dodgers and I think he has a couple more years of quality play in him.  By the time he enters free agency again, Micah Johnson will be ready to start and Utley might be ready to retire.  The timing and the situation work out perfectly.  Utley should return to the Dodgers for another two or even three years.

 

10. Image result for erick aybar Erick Aybar SS

2016 Teams: Atlanta Braves/Detroit Tigers

Aybar wasn’t a fit on the rebuilding Braves, but still could be valuable as a starting shortstop somewhere else.  Several teams have vacancies at shortstop, and some of those teams are good teams otherwise, and want to go for the playoffs.  Aybar would be a good addition for a team in need of a good shortstop with a powerful bat.  I think Aybar is still good enough to handle a full time starting job.  The question is, where will that happen?

My Prediction: Washington Nationals, 3 years, $33 million

The Nats lost Danny Espinosa this off season, so they are now in the market for a shortstop.  The Nationals need a powerful hitter who can also play well at shortstop, and that’s exactly what Aybar is.  If the Nationals want to run at a championship, another big hitter is going to help their case.  I think Aybar will fit in well in Washington, and rebound from a rough season.

 

9. Image result for austin jackson Austin Jackson OF

I don’t think Jackson is a long term commitment anymore, but I think he is worth a try for a team that could use a hand in the outfield.  I don’t think he’ll necessarily be looked in to by a playoff contender, but I think he could give a team who needs it some more power in the lineup.  he could also be used as a veteran mentor for prospects who are on the verge of breaking through.  But I don’t think he’ll be left in free agency.

My Prediction: San Diego Padres, 1 year, $11 million

Like I said, Jackson will be a mentor for prospects.  Jackson will be in a full time role to begin the season, but as the season goes on, I would give some of his playing time to younger players.  The Padres are pretty pathetic right now, in the middle of an endless rebuild, but a veteran mentor in the outfield will boost the lineup and help teach the prospects that are the future of this team.

 

8. Image result for pedro alvarez Pedro Alvarez DH/1B

2016 Team: Baltimore Orioles

Alvarez had a good season as a DH, and although he’s not worth much in the field anymore, he’s one of the best designated hitters on the market, and could be a powerful addition to the lineup for a team.  I think Alvarez comes at a low price, so inking him long term soon is a good idea.  There are plenty of teams looking for a powerful bat, and Alvarez could put up some pretty good batting stats.

My Prediction: New York Yankees, 4 years, $36 million

The Yankees are pretty good with the young guns, but could use some veteran power in the lineup.  I don’t think the rookies are quite ready to be everyday starters.  Alvarez will start out starting every day, and then later on start to rotate with the younger players.  I think that before the Yankees are playoff level again, their team will benefit from some veteran additions.  Even with good younger players, the entire team could use some fine-tuning.

 

7.  Mike Napoli 1B

2016 Team: Cleveland Indians

Napoli had a good 2016 season.  He’s still a boom or bust player, that either strikes out a lot or hits dingers,  but could be a very valuable lineup addition for a team.  He could play first base or DH.  Napoli is one of the best home run hitters on the market.  The question is, how big is the benefit for signing him?

My Prediction: Baltimore Orioles, 2 years, $24 million

Napoli will get a lot of money, but isn’t worth a 3+ year deal since he is aging fast.   The Orioles are a perfect fit for him, as they need a new DH.  He’s here to do that.  He is one player worth signing to big money.  A big one or two year deal is exactly what they’ll do.  Napoli deserves a bigger deal than he had on his last contract.

6.  Image result for kurt suzuki Kurt Suzuki C

Suzuki has spent several years in Minnesota, and boosted their lineup but was only okay behind the plate.  He could still be used as a catcher, but also a first baseman or DH, like Joe Mauer and Mike Napoli are now.  There are plenty of teams that could use a better catcher.  The team that signs Suzuki will sign him because they need to fill a hole at catcher.  Suzuki is meant to be a full time starter.  Where can he sign a deal for that?

My Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers, 3 years, $32 million

The Brew Crew lost Jonathan Lucroy on a team that lacks catcher depth.  Suzuki is a good fit to fill the hole and provide some veteran power in the lineup.  I know they may make a more interesting move, since they did sign Eric Thames.  But Suzuki makes sense for the Brewers, a lot of sense.  He’s a good fit, and I think they should sign him.

5. Image result for Peter Bourjos  Peter Bourjos OF

2016 Team: Philadelphia Phillies

Bourjos isn’t what he used to be anymore, but he is a potential bargain or steal.  I think if you’re looking for someone to fill an outfield hole, Bourjos is one of several options.  I don’t think he’ll necessarily be signed by a contending team, but he should be able to play in 2017.  The question is, where is he a good fit?

My Prediction: Cincinnati Reds, 2 years, 10 million

The Reds are trying to rebuild, but Bourjos will either be a veteran mentor or someone they can trade for more prospects.  They won’t trade him until the prospects they have a little more seasoning.  When he’s traded depends on how quickly the prospects develop.

4. Image result for jered weaver Jered Weaver SP

2016 Team: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Weaver may not be an ace anymore, but if you’re looking for another guy in your rotation with good experience, who can fill a bigger rotation role, Weaver could help your team.  Weaver could pitch some quality starts for a team that needs them.  There are plenty of people that need that, but where exactly where Weaver will fit.

My Prediction: Colorado Rockies, 2 years, $23 million

The Rockies have a really good lineup.  They also have an improving bullpen.  They have the potential to be awesome.  But they need starting pitching.  The Rockies don’t have any quality starters, despite a lot of depth.  Weaver would provide them with some good top of the rotation pitching.

3.Image result for DOUG FISTER  Doug Fister SP

2016 Team: Houston Astros

Fister still has several years of quality pitching left in him, and would take a similar role to Jered Weaver.  A middle of the rotation guy that helps a rotation improve overall.  Fister is past his prime, but could still do well on a team that needs him.  Another team like the Rockies could sign him, a team with a good lineup that needs pitching.

My Prediction: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 4 years, $49 million

The Angels need a quality starter badly.  Very badly.  They have a good lineup, so if they work to fine-tune what’s currently a terrible rotation over the next couple of years, they could contend.  Fister will help revamp an Angels rotation that really lost its steam lately.  But that’s just the first step.  They have a long way to go.  

 

2.Image result for jason hammel Jason Hammel SP

2016 Team: Chicago Cubs

Hammel had a really good 2016, helping lead the Cubs to win the World Series.  I don’t think he’ll resign with the Cubs though.  I think he’ll be a very reliable starter for a team that needs one.  He should get a big deal after how well he did last year, but you have to keep in mind that he’s 34.

My Prediction: Pittsburgh Pirates, 3 years, $40 million

The Pittsburgh Pirates are beginning to have rotation problems.  Supplying the rotation win young pitchers is good but adding another veteran is smart.  Hammel is hoping to repeat his 2016 season for the Pirates.  I think he could be their ace or second starter at his best.  He joins Gerrit Cole as one of the two good veterans in this rotation.

 

 

1. Image result for matt wieters Matt Wieters C

2016 Team: Baltimore Orioles

Wieters made a nice return from Tommy John surgery in 2015, and accepted his qualifying offer for 2016.  He had a good 2016 season, but was not given an extension before hitting free agency again.  Although he good give another team a chance at one of the premier catchers in free agency, the Orioles are in the market to resign him.

My Prediction: Baltimore Orioles, 5 years, $50 million

I could see the Orioles signing him long term.  The Orioles could really plummet without him.  There would be a hole in their lineup without him.  They would have to fill his spot with another player, as their current catcher cannot do what Wieters did in the lineup.  Securing him is the best thing you can do.

 

NFL Playoffs: Wild Card Weekend Recap, Divisional Round Picks

I went 3 for 4 on Wild Card Weekend, in one of the most lopsided Wild Card Weekends ever.  All the home teams won, and outscored their opponents by a total of 76 points.  Of course I got my bold Lions over Seahawks pick wrong.  Today I will be sharing my Wild Card Weekend thoughts and Divisional Round picks.

Oakland Raiders @ Houston Texans

Texans, 27, Raiders, 14

Image result for jadeveon clowney vs connor cook

You can’t expect Oakland to do well with Connor Cook starting at QB.  Their entire offense got messed up, and with Houston having the home field advantage, it made things even harder.  The Texans defense was all over the Raiders offense.  I also don’t know why people thought that the Texans would lose because of their own hole at QB.  I understand the Raiders have a good defense, but Brock Osweiler can pass as QB when you’re facing Connor Cook.  It was stupid to even bench Osweiler.  However, they will have a very slim chance this week.

 

Detroit Lions @ Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks, 26, Lions, 6

Image result for paul richardson vs lions

I knew if the Lions won, it wouldn’t be by this much, but what happened is just about the opposite of what I wanted.  At least the Giants are done after goofing off in Miami.  The Seahawks proved to still be a good team, unless the Lions are just really bad and Matthew Stafford lost his momentum after his injury.  But I don’t think so.  The offense had not looked terrible, especially in Week 17, and the defense has made big improvements.  I think Seattle is just too tough an opponent at Century Link Field, where the Seahawks went 7-1 in 2016.  They went 3-4-1 on the road.  The defense did very well and the offense found good momentum as Thomas Rawls ran wild and Paul Richardson took on a bigger role.

 

Miami Dolphins @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers, 30, Dolphins, 12

Image result for antonio brown vs dolphins

As I expected, the Steelers held off and dominated the Dolphins.  Big Ben did get hurt, ruining the healthy Big 3, but he’ll be back most likely against the Chiefs.  However, whether he anbd other injured players play this week or not, I think injuries could really affect how the Divisional Round ends.  The Steelers offense did well as expected though, and Miami’s rhythm was ruined when they couldn’t find their run game.  Jay Ajayi is typically a big contributor, but didn’t even get 50 yards or a TD in this game.

 

New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers

Packers, 38, Giants, 13

Image result for aaron rodgers vs giants

The Giants seemed to have something going at The Frozen Tundra, but lost their momentum.  Early last week, four Giants receivers went boating in Miami on a day off.  Some of them, including OBJ, were affected by it, and were dropping passes in this game.  Brady actually defended OBJ, but I honestly think what OBJ did is wrong, when he had a NFL playoff game in 6 days, his first ever.  Despite an injury to Jordy Nelson which could affect Green Bay this weekend, the Packers offense thrived, and eventually got onto a big lead.

 

Okay, now that those games are over, it’s time to focus on the Divisional Round.  Who will win in your opinion?  Read my picks below, then comment your own thoughts and predictions.

 

Lock Of The Week

Patriots, 30, Texans, 23

Image result for Tom Brady vs. Texans

I’m going to make the same case that I did in my original NFL preview when I had this as the AFC Championship game.  The Texans offense is pretty good, but do you think that the Texans, despite their good defense, can outscore a dominant Tom Brady led Patriots offense?  The Pats have good defense as well, and Bill Belichick had coached them to 4 Super Bowl wins.  I think he’ll lead his 2016 14-2 team to a 5th.  I don’t think there’s any way that the Texans offense could possibly outscore the Patriots.

 

Upset Of The Week

Seahawks, 23, Falcons, 19

Image result for russell wilson vs falcons

I know the Seahawks have struggled on the road, but I don’t think the Falcons are legitimate Super Bowl candidates, and I don’t want to doubt the Seahawks again.  They looked really good last week, better than they have all season.  if they play the same way in this game, Matt Ryan and the Falcons will be severely overwhelmed, and will choke, ending their playoff run quickly.

 

Chiefs, 27, Steelers, 19

Image result for travis kelce vs steelers

Big Ben may not be at 100%, and the Steelers have a flaw that may cause them to drop this game, besides the fact that it’s in Kansas City.  The Steelers defense isn’t the greatest.  It’s imbalanced, which will work against them.  The Chiefs went from a decent team in previous seasons to a good all-around team this season.  The Chiefs’ backfield has gained a lot more depth, and they’ve developed a nice group of receivers.  The Chiefs have a couple of advantages in this game, and although the Chiefs and Steelers will be on each other’s tails and beat each other up, the Chiefs will grab the win in the end due to those small advantages.

 

Cowboys, 27, Packers, 23

With Jordy Nelson hurt, the Packers offense is still good, but this is a battle of two great offenses.  The Cowboys offense is superior without Jordy Nelson playing.  Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have really shined this season, and they will lead the Cowboys onto the NFC Championship.  I think whoever wins this game is capable to beat Seattle or Atlanta to go the Super Bowl, so this game means a lot.
Things are looking good for this week! Who’ve you got in the games?

Melican Takes Tough Loss As Trottier Thrives

The Melican boys basketball team took a tough loss to Trottier on Tuesday, 49-34. Trottier’s #34was clearly the biggest contributor, scoring an unimaginable 21 points. That’s nearly half of the entire team’s scoring! #8 also chipped in 11 points. Combined, they scored over 65% of the team’s points. For Melican, #23 Zachary scored 11, and #33 Greg scored 8. Both continued to be big contributors to the team as they have been all season. #5 Gabe, #21 Nathaniel and #32 Ethan each scored 4 points as well.  
Trottier played very aggressively, which was hard for Melican to keep up with. Some of the calls made were questionable, but Trottier had a pretty good lead all game. 
To begin the game, Trottier outscored Melican 14-5. #23 Zachary got all 5 points. Getting to the basket quickly was good, but led by #34, Trottier played very well offensively. #8 was also a big contributor for Trottier.  
The 2nd went a little bit better, but Trottier pulled away with a 23-15 lead, due to more aggressive shooting and foul shots by #34, and #00 and #11 also got to the basket frequently. However, #10 James, #21 Nathaniel and #23 Zachary led a strong all-around offense to gain some points on Trottier before halftime.  
In the 3rd, #23 Zachary led an attempt to continue the Melican comeback, but #34 and #8 led Trottier to outscore Melican 18-8 in the quarter. #34 continued aggressively shooting, scoring 8 points in just the 3rd, just as much as the entire Melican team. 
Unfortunately, Melican could not come back from that. Although #33 Greg scored 6 points in the 4th, and Trottier began to slow down, Trottier had an 18 point lead going into the quarter, and that was too much for Melican to come back from. Melican did outscore Trottier 11-8 in the 4th, but it wasn’t enough to get the win. They lost 49-34. After the 1st quarter, Trottier never lost the lead.  
Here are the stats for both teams:

Melican 
# Name Points Scored Fouls

3 Jacob — —

4 Beau — 2

5 Gabe 4 1

10 James 2 —

12 Chris — 3

13 Aaron 1 1

14 James — —

21 Nathaniel 4 1

22 Brendan — 1

23 Zachary 11 3

24 Ian — —

31 Harrim — —

32 Ethan 4 1

33 Greg 8 2

TOTALS 34 15

Trottier
00 5 1

1 — 1

3 — 1

5 — —

8 11 —

10 — 1

11 2 1

12 — —

15 — —

17 2 2

18 2 3

20 — —

22 2 1

33 2 1

34 21 1

TOTALS 49 13
End 1st 14-5 Trottier

End 2nd 23-15 Trottier

End 3rd 41-23 Trottier

Final 49-34 Trottier
Melican still has two more games against Trottier this season. Will they win in a rematch?