2015 NHL Playoff Predictions – Round 1

Kings 2014 Champs

This year for the NHL playoffs features a team who lost in the finals last year as the best team in the league this season and the team who won it all being left out of the post season. The end of the season this season wasn’t as thrilling as last year, but does feature some potential collapses as well as some teams getting hot in the second half of the season. We have 5 Canadian hockey teams this postseason and 4 of them are facing each other in the first round. Lines up to be an exciting first round of the playoffs and my predictions for them are as follows:

Eastern Conference

USP NHL: NEW YORK RANGERS AT MINNESOTA WILD S HKN USA MN

1) New York Rangers vs. 4) Pittsburgh Penguins

Analysis: The Rangers made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals last year for the first time since 1994 and then dropped to the Los Angeles Kings. This year they came back with vengeance and won the President’s Trophy with the best record in all of hockey. They are lucky enough to play the Penguins first. Maybe that’s sarcastic and maybe it’s part truth. The Rangers were 3-0-1 against Pittsburgh this season with their only loss coming in a shootout way back in November. The Penguins skid into the playoffs and barely hung on over the Bruins to get in. The Penguins still have 43 wins this season and they have a guy name Sidney Crosby who can make a difference. The Rangers are clearly the stronger team and they carry more momentum over Pittsburgh as the Penguins managed to go 1-4-1 in the last month of the season.
Pick: Rangers in 5

Ovi - Caps

2) Washington Capitals vs. 3) New York Islanders

Analysis: This should be an excellent series and one of the best in the East. Unfortunately for the Islanders, they have to face off against one of the scariest teams in the East. The Isles and Caps went 2-0-2 in the regular season in which all but 1 went into OT. In fact, they are as even as it gets as they both finished with exactly the same number of points, 101. The Islanders took a bit of a collapse themselves as they lost 12 of their last 18. I give the edge to the Capitals goaltender which is most important in the postseason, but either way it will be punch for punch and wouldn’t be surprised with an incorrect pick in this one.
Pick: Capitals in 6

1004 sens habs 016.JPG

1) Montreal Canadians vs. 4) Ottawa Senators

Analysis: The Canadians missed the best record by just 3 points to the New York Rangers and they get the hottest team in the league in the first round because of it. This series features 2 of the 5 Canadian teams in the post season. Also, Ottawa owns the series during the course of the regular season by going 3-1-0 against Montreal which includes 3 of their last 4 and all by 2 goals or more. Impressive. Ottawa even won 21 of their last 27 games which includes a few winning streaks of 5 or more wins. Also impressive. The Canadians are the stronger team, but streaks in hockey, especially leading to the post season matter most. I’m playing the hot hand with my prediction.
Pick: Senators in 7

stamkos

2) Tampa Bay Lightning vs. 3) Detroit Red Wings

Analysis: Tampa leads the regular season series 3-1-0 and lost the last meeting against Detroit by way of the shutout. Mike Babcock may be on his way out, but only time will tell. It is still weird for me to see the Red Wings in the East and even more weird to see the Red Wings not as mighty as they used to be. The Lightning had a great season and last year in the first round they got screwed out of a few calls which cost them a few games in their series against the Habs. Tampa had a 50 win season and 7 more points than they finished with last season. They have a strong goaltender in Bishop who was hurt for the post season last season and are obviously led with Stamkos. It was once difficult to pick against Detroit in the post season, but not so difficult this season.
Pick: Lightning in 4

Western Conference

Montreal Canadiens vs St. Louis Blues

1) St. Louis Blues vs. 4) Minnesota Wild

Analysis: Does everyone remember last season when the Wild were the strong underdogs against my beloved Colorado Avalanche? They were awful in the regular season against them, but they threw a ton of punches on the young team and they pulled them apart. This season series could have happened last year, but now we are rewarded this season. The regular season between the two teams is tied 2-2-0, however St. Louis favors the Wild by 9 points. The Blues are 5th in the league in scoring, led by Tarasenko and Steen, 4th in Goals Against led by Elliott, and 4th on their power play percentage. They are also a top 10 team in killing penalties. This is a strong hold for any team going into the playoffs. We all saw what Minnesota was capable of doing last season and they likely have a stronger, more experienced team this season. They had the ability to win on the road last season and they were able to punch their opponents in the mouth. This season will be no different, but I predict a different outcome. Minnesota is 1st in the NHL killing penalties, however they struggle when they have a man advantage. Those can be frustrating and really wear down a team and their momentum and may be the difference in this series.
Pick: Blues in 7

Toews

2) Nashville Predators vs. 3) Chicago Blackhawks

Analysis: These teams are separated by just 2 points and that gave Nashville home ice advantage. Shouldn’t matter. The talent on Chicago is extreme and their experience is greater. They both had remarkable seasons, however the Hawks lead the season series 3-1-0. Chicago is always dangerous in the playoffs when they are lead with Toews and Kane. They did struggle at times scoring goals which hurt their ranking, but as always their goals against is top 5 in the league. They have a strong defense and time and time again it’s proven that’s what ultimately wins a Cup. Nashville on the other hand got off to a hot start and was best in the league for a time, but tampered off during the second half. They are led by young Filip Forsberg and Rinne in net, but I just don’t think they have enough fire power to beat out Chicago this season.
Pick: Blackhawks in 5

andrew ladd

1) Anaheim Ducks vs. 4) Winnipeg Jets

Analysis: The Ducks are 10 points better than the Jets and though they only played three times during the regular season, Anaheim is 3-0-0 against the Jets. The Jets return to the playoffs for the first time since returning to Canada. But like last year, I think the Ducks will have their hands full in the first round. The Jets finished 5th in their division and in the NHL ranks they are a mere average team, however, they are led with some great talent. The crowd will come rocking, but they just have to hope they manage 1 victory in sunny California between the first two games of the series. The Ducks are strong, but they are also beatable. They don’t dominate any category amongst the rankings in the NHL, but they are also led with Getzlaf and Perry and they are dominating in the post season. I’m going with a big upset here, because it happens to be a hunch.
Pick: Jets in 6

hudler

2) Vancouver Canucks vs. 3) Calgary Flames

Analysis: I don’t know what the preseason predictions were from analysts, but I’m willing to bet that Calgary wasn’t on any of their lists to make the post season. This series features the last 2 Canadian teams and the second of the match ups in their country. The Flames return to the playoffs and they have an aggressive fan base that will light up the Saddle dome. In the regular season these teams were even and tied 2-2-0. The Flames failed to reach 100 points, but they are 20 points better than they were last season. They are led by a guy named by Jiri Hudler. If you don’t know his name yet, you should get to know it now. He has 76 points for Calgary this season and leads the team in goals and assists. He’s 31 years old, but he isn’t talked about much, but is finally having a great season in goals. Calgary has also been successful in net this season with Hiller. On the other end with Vancouver, they are back in the rankings of scoring over 100 points and they no longer have Luongo, which has been a struggle in the past during this time of year. As always they have the Sedin twins leading the way and I’m honestly not sure how this series will go, but I’ll take a shot in the dark.
Pick: Flames in 6

MLB Predictions – 2015

Giants WS

There’s nothing like the sound of a crack of a wooden bat when hitting a fastball down the middle of the plate. When spring arrives, so does baseball and the excitement is back. Excitement for your favorite team to make a run to win it all. Excitement for fantasy baseball, and excitement to master predictions. I waited until the last moment last year to make my predictions and I am doing the same this year. As usual I don’t like to watch spring training for prediction purposes as spring training is more for a young talent type of exhibition to make the major league level or to grab a spot on the roster or rotation. Also as usual I made my picks on the gambling front, but won’t let that get in the way of making my long-term predictions. Baseball is a long season of 162 games and is an obvious marathon and not a sprint. Lets jump right on into the American League divisions.

Mookie Betts

AL East
1) Boston Red Sox
2) Toronto Blue Jays
3) New York Yankees
4) Baltimore Orioles
5) Tampa Bay Rays
Analysis: For those that know me know that this selection is probably somewhat painful. Putting the Red Sox at top of this division makes me ill. They finished in last, last year, but they made the most notable off season moves. Their pitching staff is stronger and the young talent they have in the field could be a difference maker. The Jays usually fall off, but I feel they hold their ground and stay healthy for most of the season. Places three through five is a toss up, but the Yankees are the most likely team to make moves down the stretch and they always find a way to compete to stay in the playoff hunt.

Cespedes Tigers

AL Central
1) Detroit Tigers
2) Cleveland Indians
3) Kansas City Royals
4) Chicago White Sox
5) Minnesota Twins
Analysis: Detroit continues to have a beefy lineup and their pitching is solid even without Verlander in the rotation to start to season. Cleveland is my pick to be this year’s Kansas City. They have a young staff, but Francona will do his thing and get this team to compete for the division. I still like KC and think they have a great team without Butler and Shields, but the odds for a team to have back to back killer bullpen seasons is rare, but they certainly have the potential to compete with both the Tigers and the Indians. The White Sox also improved in their holes, but just don’t feel like they have enough to beat out the three teams above them. It’s clear that the Twins are rebuilding and I just don’t believe they have enough to move any higher than 4th.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Seattle Mariners

AL West
1) Seattle Mariners
2) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
3) Oakland Athletics
4) Houston Astros
5) Texas Rangers
Analysis: This division is interesting, but it’s Seattle’s to lose. They have the strongest overall team, starting pitching, bullpen, and their lineup that is. The Angels will slug their way to the 2nd spot and they may even grab the division if Seattle falters. But honestly, their starting pitching is weak and they will rely on their power hitters to lead them through the season. Oakland is the opposite of the Angels as they always seem to produce young pitching talent and this year is no different, however, their hitters may not be big powerhouse names, but small ball has always worked for Oakland. Houston is still too young and inexperienced for me to pick them to climb the rankings. The division they are in is tough, but if it means anything, they will be best in Texas.

AL Playoffs
1) Boston Red Sox
2) Detroit Tigers
3) Seattle Mariners
Wild Card
4) Cleveland Indians
5) Kansas City Royals

American League Analysis: My wild card teams are the Indians and the Royals and they will compete to get a full divisional series. The reason behind it is solely because they both still can compete for 1st in the Central and I think they will be in a tight race all year. They’ll beat out the Angels and I just don’t see the Angels getting in with their weak starting pitching staff unless they make a move during the season to alter their roster. I still think the Blue Jays will have a decent year, but with recent inconsistencies in the second half of the baseball season is concerning for me to pick them to beat out the AL Central trio. If the AL Central get 3 teams into the playoffs the odds are in their favor. My pick for the AL representative should not be too surprising, especially for a team to have a history in making moves at the deadline.

AL Champions: Detroit Tigers

Nationals Max

NL East
1) Washington Nationals
2) Miami Marlins
3) New York Mets
4) Atlanta Braves
5) Philadelphia Phillies
Analysis: This is a pretty easy division for me to predict. The easy ones seem to always turn out awful, but we will see. The Nationals are the favorite to get to the World Series from the National League and the main reason is because they will most likely beat up on the teams in their division. The Marlins are the second best team, but they won’t compete for first. The Mets are counting on Wright, Granderson, and Cuddyer to lead the way with their bats and their pitching has a lot of young talent including the return of Matt Harvey. The Braves won’t really compete for anything, but they will at least be slightly better than the Phillies who will compete with the Rangers for worst in baseball.

Wainwright action

NL Central
1) St. Louis Cardinals
2) Pittsburgh Pirates
3) Chicago Cubs
4) Cincinnati Reds
5) Milwaukee Brewers
Analysis: The Cardinals have too much for me to pick them to lose this division. Both their pitching and hitting is solid as usual and they are consistent through the season. The Pirates may give them a fight for the division title, but I just don’t trust their starting rotation to carry them through the season or even to beat the Cardinals in a series victory during the season. I may be overvaluing the Cubs and getting Lester in the offseason. It’s no secret the young talent they have and if they decide to bring up Bryant, Russell, and Baez up, which they most likely will, but will they all be effective is the bigger question. The Reds have killer hitters, but the consistency of their pitching staff concerns me in the long run. I don’t think the Brewers will have a bad year and I wouldn’t be surprised if they finished in 4th, but I don’t see them going much higher by years end.

Kershaw pitching

NL West
1) Los Angeles Dodgers
2) San Diego Padres
3) San Francisco Giants
4) Arizona Diamondbacks
5) Colorado Rockies
Analysis: Even without Hanley Rameriz, the Dodgers are the best team in this division with their killer depth in hitting and pitching. They made an improvement in the middle of the diamond with Kendrick and Rollins and shipping off Kemp to a division rival to make room for Joc Pederson. The Padres made a ton of movies in the offseason stacking up their pitching, having a reliable bullpen and their outfield is stacked. I don’t believe the Padres will compete late in the season for the division, but they’ll compete with World Series defending champs, Giants. Even in an odd numbered year I think the Giants will have a good year with a reliable pitching staff and depth with the bat.

NL Playoffs
1) Washington Nationals
2) Los Angeles Dodgers
3) St. Louis Cardinals
Wild Card
4) San Diego Padres
5) Pittsburgh Pirates

National League Analysis: The Padres are the “sexy” pick going into the season based on all the offseason moves they made, but I liked them as an underdog pick last year for this division, when in fact it was the Giants that emerged. The Padres are led with Shields in their pitching rotation, but really leads the way for young talent like Ross and Cashner. The Padres haven’t been known for their hitting in quite some time but have some strength going into this season. The bottom half of the division might be weak enough where they can beat up on them and get in for wild card status. The Pirates are a shoe-in for me and I think being in a tough division they won’t get home field for wild card. I think the only team with a chance to get in the wild card that will be looking in from the outside will be the San Francisco Giants. I think the Marlins will phase out toward the end of the year and the Cubs just don’t have the experience to get in this season.

NL Champions: Los Angeles Dodgers

World Series Champions: Detroit Tigers

Tigers celebrate

2014-15 NBA Predictions

That time of the year is back around where the NBA preseason is complete and the regular season starts tomorrow night. I waited until the last day to write these picks, but rest assured these picks were not just randomly put together and some thought went into it, though it may not seem that way if you check back in June. As of right now, there is no “#1 Prize” if a team folds their cards early and hopes for the first pick in the draft. Last year that pick was Wiggins, however, the Cavs won bigger than him by having LeBron James go back to Cleveland. I think by James leaving Miami, it may open up the East a little bit and NBA fans are starting to see the East getting more competitive. I think there is still a clear favorite in the West with the San Antonio Spurs, with the unbelievable emergence of Kawhi Leonard in the Finals, but they will be challenged by teams several teams in the West. Good luck to all teams, but here are my picks for this season!

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

1) Toronto Raptors
2) Brooklyn Nets
3) New York Knicks
4) Boston Celtics
5) Philadelphia 76ers
Analysis: Yes, this is exactly the standings of how last year ended and it’s basically how I think this year will end. Toronto are the clear favorites to win this division. Brooklyn is said to drop down and the Knicks would fight for first, but I just don’t believe that quite yet. I think Brooklyn has a little more depth and I like Lionel Hollins at coach. Boston is still young and they are without Rondo for some time, even if he comes back healthy, he may be traded. Everyone with any type of interest knows that Philly is tanking…again.

Central Division

1) Chicago Bulls
2) Cleveland Cavs
3) Detroit Pistons
4) Indiana Pacers
5) Milwaukee Bucks
Analysis: This is one of the more interesting divisions in the Eastern Conference. With LeBron going back to Cleveland, the early favorite most analysts are saying is Cleveland. I think LeBron will win yet another MVP this season, but as a team they have some work to do. They are built with a younger big 3 adding Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving as teammates, but defensively and collaborating isn’t all there yet. If Derrick Rose stays healthy..big IF, the Bulls will win this division and I don’t even think it will be close. The Pacers will really drop down with losing Paul George and I still think my sleeper is the Pistons. Stan Van Gundy is just the coaching piece they need to get into the playoffs with a young talented team.

Southeast Division

1) Washington Wizards
2) Charlotte Hornets
3) Miami Heat
4) Atlanta Hawks
5) Orlando Magic
Analysis: This kills me to write that I think the Magic will finish in last again. I still think they are a growing team with not a lot of experience and this is a growing division. The shake up in my opinion is real and will happen. The Wizards have the team to beat now that James is out of the division. The Hornets will surge into the playoffs after having a decent season last year and added a strong piece with Stephenson in the offseason. I think the Heat have the chance to still finish 1st or 2nd pending any injuries to stars on the the Hornets and the Wizards, but the aging Wade is a big factor for why I dropped them to third. I think Bosh will come out of his shell, but we will truly see how big of an impact player LeBron is and how much he will be missed.

Eastern Conference Playoffs

1) Chicago Bulls
2) Washington Wizards
3) Toronto Raptors
4) Cleveland Cavs
5) Charlotte Hornets
6) Miami Heat
7) Detroit Pistons
8) Brooklyn Nets

Eastern Conference ChampionsCleveland Cavs

Western Conference

Northwest Division

1) Portland Trailblazers
2) Oklahoma City Thunder
3) Denver Nuggets
4) Minnesota Timberwolves
5) Utah Jazz
Analysis: Not to brag, but I did predict the final standings for this division last year. I really liked Portland last year when not a lot of people did and I like them even more this year. A lot more experience and a lot of depth. This is a somewhat weak division aside from the obvious top 2 teams, but OkC will have a “down” year, which is still very good, but will miss Durant for the time he will be out of play. Minnesota will drop back a spot after losing a guy like Kevin Love. Another team with a lot of young talent, but they are too young for me to pick to get to the playoffs. Denver will have a better year as long as they stay healthy. I wouldn’t be too surprised if they were in the two spot by the halfway mark.

Pacific Division
1) Los Angeles Clippers
2) Golden State Warriors
3) Sacramento Kings
4) Phoenix Suns
5) Los Angeles Lakers
Analysis: Well, how the times have officially changed. The top 2 teams are obvious as this rivalry gets stronger and stronger every year. I think the Warriors have the potential to overtake the Clippers for first, but my uncertainty of how the team will be coached with Steve Kerr and not Mark Jackson holds that back. This is the year the Kings break through and have the best opportunity to get to the playoffs. I think they’ve built a strong core and should be another exciting team to show some flare. The Suns were a bit of a surprise team last year, but they don’t have a lot of front court depth that makes me confident on being consistent throughout the year. As for the Lakers, they are just bad. Who knows if they will have any team chemistry, which may possibly be Kobe’s last season. Steve Nash is already done for the season and have a lot of no-namers or aging players (Boozer). The Lakers should get that experience for Randle and look forward to next years draft.

Southwest Division
1) San Antonio Spurs
2) Dallas Mavericks
3) Houston Rockets
4) New Orleans Pelicans
5) Memphis Grizzlies
Analysis: My motto at this point is pick the Spurs until they fail. This is a tough division to pick for me as I think a lot of these teams are stacked to full potential. The Spurs depth is just insane and they have made a point to rest players throughout the year to be strong for the post season and almost always works. Dallas got stronger and deeper and I think they will pass Houston, who had struggled to defend. There’s a lot of movement of players within this division, which should make match ups throughout the year very enjoyable. The Pelicans are still young, but I feel they have stronger talent where they will pass the Grizz, but may still be a year away from the post season.

Western Conference Playoffs

1) Los Angeles Clippers
2) San Antonio Spurs
3) Portland Trailblazers
4) Dallas Mavericks
5) Oklahoma City Thunder
6) Golden State Warriors
7) Houston Rockets
8) Denver Nuggets

Western Conference Champions: Los Angeles Clippers

NBA Champions: Los Angeles Clippers

There you have it. I picked the Clippers to topple the Cavs in the NBA Finals this season and that would make a great series. It’s tougher to get out of the west and I was really thinking the Mavs might actually make a run in the playoffs, but not gutsy enough to pick a Mavs/Cavs Finals, as catchy as that is. I think the Cavs will put it all together by the time the playoffs start and though they won’t have home court, the experience from James may prevail. Regardless, I’m sure some will disagree with these picks, but they are only predictions, so give it a shot and hopefully this wasn’t your reaction to my picks…

Enjoy!

2014-15 NFL Predictions

Seahawks Champs

It’s finally that time of the year when football is back! Fantasy football drafts are starting to take place and preseason football is in progress and the regular season is starting to sneak up. Last season I made my predictions and had a lot of picks that were hit and miss, but I did hit on the NFC and AFC champions and most importantly on the Super Bowl Champion and congrats to the Seattle Seahawks for that. Most would and did say before the season started that it was an easy pick, however, going into the Super Bowl most didn’t see the Seahawks stopping the overpowering offense of the Broncos. I even started to doubt myself, but my gut was proven correct. Lets jump right into the predictions for this season!

lesean mccoy TD dance

NFC East
1) Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)
2) Washington Redskins (10-6)
3) New York Giants (9-7)
4) Dallas Cowboys (7-9)

Analysis: I still believe the Eagles have the most talented team in this division. I picked the Redskins to finish in 2nd last year also and they finished at a whopping 3-13. The key to Washington’s success rides on the health of RGIII and they have improved their WR core and also their defense appears to be better this season. The Giants had a lot of injury issues last year both offensively and defensively and I can imagine they would improve this season. The Cowboys will put up points this season, but will struggle defensively and I just don’t see them competing for higher than 3rd.

Matthew Stafford

NFC North
1) Detroit Lions (11-5)
2) Chicago Bears (10-6)
3) Green Bay Packers (10-6)
4) Minnesota Vikings (7-9)

Analysis: This should be a fun division to watch all season. The coaching change with the Lions I believe will be the difference in succeeding this season. They have the offensive firepower and added a piece with Golden Tate to compliment Calvin Johnson. Detroit needs to stay consistent on defense and I think they can take division. The Bears and Packers will be competing for first and second and wouldn’t be surprised to see any of these teams finish with the division title. The Vikings will find some success, but other than Adrian Peterson they have to find consistency and they have a primarily young team that will experience some growing pains.

drew brees celebrates

NFC South
1) New Orleans Saints (13-3)
2) Atlanta Falcons (12-4)
3) Carolina Panthers (7-9)
4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-10)

Analysis: The Carolina Panthers won this division last year and by my predictions this year I’m basically saying it was a fluke. The Panthers had a suffocating defense last year which accounted for most of their wins. Their receiving core is nothing great, Cam Newton can still be erratic slinging it, and they do not have a consistent run game. More importantly, they appear to have a brutal schedule and it won’t help their record. I also think last year was a fluke year for the Falcons. The year before Atlanta went to the NFC title game and last year they had a ton of injury issues including that of Julio Jones. They’ll compete with the Saints for division, but the Saints just have too much firepower. I apologize to my friends who are Bucs fans, but other than Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, who else do they have? I think their defense can start to keep them in games, but too much inconsistency on offense to get a better record than my prediction.

Richard Sherman

NFC West
1) Seattle Seahawks (14-2)
2) San Francisco 49ers (12-4)
3) St. Louis Rams (9-7)
4) Arizona Cardinals (8-8)

Analysis: This should be another fun division to watch. The main question for all four teams in a division with solid defense is, where is the offense? I don’t think the Seahawks will have a Super Bowl hangover, but their only question to me is on offense. Will Russell Wilson be better than he was last year? Will Percy Harvin stay healthy for a full season? Will Golden Tate leaving effect their production? There are no questions on the defensive side of the ball and they will continue to dominate until proven otherwise. The 49ers will have a respectable good season, but unless Kaepernick performs better than I think he is worth, I don’t think they’ll win division. St. Louis has been improving over the seasons defensively and I think their offense is the question just like the two teams previously mentioned. 

Playoffs
1) Seattle Seahawks
2) New Orleans Saints
3) Detroit Lions
4) Philadelphia Eagles
5) San Francisco 49ers
6) Atlanta Falcons

Saints celebrating

NFC Champions: New Orleans Saints

gronkowski

AFC East
1) New England Patriots (13-3)
2) Miami Dolphins (9-7)
3) Buffalo Bills (9-7)
4) New York Jets (4-12)

Analysis: I can’t remember the last time the Patriots didn’t win this division. They still have the best team because even with Brady getting older and injury issues they’ve had, they still find a way to win football games. I think their defense will be better this year if they can remain healthy and also with the addition of Revis. I think the Dolphins can also have a pretty decent season if Tannenbaum continues to improve and with the addition of Moreno at tailback. They also have a solid defense to lean on. The Bills have a lot of potential on young stars, but it’s hard to predict off of potential. If Spiller and Manuel manage to stay healthy and Watkins is what he appears to be, the Bills can look at a season in the right direction. The Jets record may be a bit harsh on my end, but that’s saying Rex Ryan sticks with Geno Smith all season. If he decides to try and save his job and go with Mike Vick, the team may manage more than 4 wins.

AJ Green TD

NFC North
1) Cincinnati Bengals (11-5)
2) Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)
3) Baltimore Ravens (9-7)
4) Cleveland Browns (4-12)

Analysis: The Bengals have the most solid talent and the least amount of questions about them. They may finish with a better record than how I have them, but their real struggles are in the playoffs. In the past, I’ve always picked the Steelers to not have a great season. This year is a bit different for me and apparently see the light. The Steelers have a very favorable schedule to start the season and can potentially carry that momentum into winning the division. In Flacco I don’t trust. I’m still unsure about his capabilities and there is only so much the defense can carry an offense. Ray Rice will be suspended for the first two games (vs Pittsburgh and vs Cincinnati). Those are two divisional games and if they lose those, there may not be much to come back from, even though its very early on. The Browns are the most talked about worst team in the league. Johnny Manziel may not even start, but the press is on his every move. Josh Gordon may miss the whole season with a suspension and after him, there is little depth. Cleveland will be looking forward to basketball season very early on.

Andrew Luck TD

AFC South
1) Indianpolis Colts (13-3)
2) Tennessee Titans (10-6)
3) Houston Texans (8-8)
4) Jacksonville Jaguars (7-9)

Analysis: This division seems like a no brainer to me. The most talent belongs to the Colts and they added Nicks to their options offensively. Andrew Luck will continue to get better and so will his team, however they have a bit of a difficult schedule, I still think they’ll finish on top, but maybe not 13 wins. Tennessee is improving and I think this year will be no different. The hope is that Locker stays healthy, but I think he has the weapons to fight for a playoff berth. I don’t believe Ryan Fitzpatrick will lead Houston back to the playoffs, but they still have a solid offense with Andre Johnson and Arian Foster, but they just don’t have much depth. Their defense, if healthy, can keep them in games and maybe even steal a few. It will be enjoyable to watch Watt and Clowney at their best. The Jaguars are much like the Bills with a lot of potential with young stars. Will Bortles start at all this season? How will Lee and Robinson effect the offensive firepower. Too many questions, but I don’t think it’s out of the question for them to finish in 3rd.

The Denver Broncos vs Baltimore Ravens AFC Divisional playoff game.

AFC West
1) Denver Broncos (11-5)
2) San Diego Chargers (10-6)
3) Kansas City Chiefs (9-7)
4) Oakland Raiders (3-13)

Analysis: I still think Denver can be dominant, but the record I have them at is a decline from last season. The Broncos no longer have Decker and Moreno and my hunch says that Manning will be on a decline. San Diego may have a chance at overtaking them for division, but they have a brutal schedule to end the season and may slide out of the playoff hunt all together. The Chargers have improved both offensively and defensively and I think they can at least knock off the Broncos once. The Chiefs just don’t have a lot of depth offensively and unsure if Alex Smith can perform how he did last season. Like I mentioned before, I think Kansas City can overtake San Diego based on a brutal end of year schedule. Not much to say about Oakland and they may get Carr into action midway through the season and see what the kid can do, but overall I see them being the doormat in this division.

Playoffs
1) New England Patriots
2) Indianapolis Colts
3) Cincinnati Bengals
4) Denver Broncos
5) Pittsburgh Steelers
6) San Diego Chargers

AFC Champions: New England Patriots

brady gif

Super Bowl Champions: New England Patriots

It may be Tom Brady’s last hoo-rah as a Super Bowl Champion. In my opinion the AFC is more competitive and there are harder schedules. If the Patriots get the overall number one in the AFC, I don’t see them going down to anybody. The Broncos would be my next pick, but Manning has shown he struggles in cold weather and especially on the road. 

2014 NBA Finals Prediction

Image

By the time this is posted, it will be the day of game 1 of the finals on the east coast and are people looking forward to this rematch of the NBA Finals from last year? I think there is some excitement here, especially after last season’s series which should have ended with the Spurs hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy.  Instead the Heat won back to back and they are looking for the 3peat this season. In my opinion, the NBA playoffs are a hit or miss every season as of late, especially being that the Eastern Conference is as weak as it is. The Pacers were expected to give the Heat a run for their money before the season started and after this the Eastern Conference Finals it seems that Indiana took a step backwards. The Heat took an easy road to the NBA Finals this year after sweeping Charlotte, defeating the Nets in 5 and finishing off the Pacers in 6. The Heat were never pushed to the brink where the average fan thought, “Hmm, maybe the Heat will actually drop this series”. That has been an afterthought over the last couple of seasons and maybe this will be the last year where the big 3 are together in Miami, but only time will tell. I’ve listened to the analysts as much as I possibly could since this matchup has been finalized and I heard a few “experts” say that the Heat had a stronger team last year, than they do this year, and I respectfully disagree. I would be the first person to tell you I hate the Heat and I disliked them before it was popular to dislike them as an Orlando Magic fan. But regardless of Wade’s injury issues — those are not issues when they are four wins away from a championship. Winners will play like winners and injuries are not a concern in analyzing this year’s matchup. 

As for the Spurs, they escaped a tough matchup against Dallas in round 1 by winning in 7, they cruised to defeat the Blazers in 5, and until Ibaka came back for two OkC home games, San Antonio dominated that series and clearly looked like the stronger team even without Tony Parker on the floor. The Spurs have proven year after year they can compete for championships and they would admit they let one slip through their fingers last season. The one disadvantage if you have to pick one for this team would be they are aging, but some may even consider that an advantage. San Antonio is deep and can get production from any of their starting five along with any of their supporting bench cast. They earned the right to be in the Finals again and achieve redemption. Will Tim Duncan retire if his team wins? Time will tell with that as well. Lets jump into the analyses and final prediction of the season in regards to the NBA.

NBA Finals

1) San Antonio Spurs vs 2) Miami Heat
3rd Round Predictions: Spurs in 7, Heat in 6
3rd Round Outcomes: Spurs in 6, Heat in 6

Image

San Antonio Spurs Analysis: As I mentioned before, the Spurs must feel like they let them title slip between their fingers last season in the Finals and they are looking for redemption. At times during this postseason, the Spurs have looked unbeatable and they are on a mission to take it all. They have the main core to do it, but if Parker misses any time in this series, they may not be able to hang around. They will need to get production from their bench players like they have been in previous series’ this post season. Tim Duncan has also looked unstoppable in the paint and definitely had his way with the Thunder and can be a nightmare for defenses. Chris Bosh has told the media earlier this post season that he would prefer to shoot threes than to battle in the paint and sure, if you can knock them down, it’s more an efficient way to score points and to stay on the floor longer. Will Birdman Anderson be able to handle Duncan all to himself or will he need some assistance from Bosh under the rim? Last series I had picked Boris Diaw to step up and be an impact in the series against the Thunder. He got off to a slow start in the first two games of the series, but to his credit, the Spurs blew the Thunder out both games and didn’t need a lot of minutes from the Frenchman. He got stronger as the series extended and in game 6, Diaw finished with 26 points and shot 57% from the field and 50% from beyond the arch in a quality performance. Other than the big 3 having to do what they do in Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili, my player to watch for this series is Kawhi Leonard. He put up nice numbers in the last series but he still has not located his shot as he’s struggling from a percentage standpoint on the floor. If he ends up being a 4th reliable option for the Spurs and Danny Green is effective on the road like he is at home, it will be a tough series for the Heat to take.

Image

Miami Heat Analysis: Pat Riley’s built up Heat team is looking for the 3peat. Will it be the last hoo-rah for the Heat with the big 3 as they know it? A lot of questions that still remain to be answered in the off-season and no matter how this Finals plays out should not be the difference maker. The Heat seemed to be toying with the Pacers last round at times and there was never a time in the series where anyone thought Miami could actually fall. Chris Bosh played an exceptional series and is playing with a brand new confidence. In the last series, my player to watch was James Jones and I missed on it. He played a whopping 10 minutes in all 6 games combined so needless to say he did not make much of an impact. His services were not needed to win out in the series and the Heat didn’t need much bench help to get by Indiana. Other than the big 3 in LeBron James, D-Wade, and Chris Bosh and even Ray Allen who the Spurs will not sleep on no longer — I’m going to stick with James Jones along with Norris Cole. Cole didn’t make a large impact in the point production, but he made the hustle plays that kept him on the floor. He averaged 23 minutes in the 6 game series and any type of production when the stars need their rest gets you extra opportunities. I think the Heat will need to trust their bench performers in a hard series against the Spurs and I expect Jones and Cole to have solid games…even if it isn’t exactly putting the ball in the net.

Prediction: Heat in 6

Image

2014 NHL Stanley Cup Finals Prediction

Image

The NHL playoffs have come and gone for every team, but two. The teams that remain come from two of the largest cities in the country, New York and Los Angeles. It’s also the first time a team from LA and a team from NY across all sports have played each other in a championship game/series since the Dodgers played the Yankees back in 1981. While I was watching game 1 for the Kings vs Sharks in round one, the Sharks were up 5-0 going into the 3rd and I was texting with my friend saying, what are the odds the Kings come back in this game? Down 5-0 with one period to go the chances are slim to none and any hockey fan would tell you that. Even on a day where several series’ had comebacks or had several overtimes, would there be magic in San Jose? To recap, the Kings scored the next 3 goals, but fell short 6-3. They then fell 7-2 and 4-3 to fall down 3-0 in the series. The same question then came up with my friend — what are the odds the Kings come back in this series? Not many teams have came back to win a series down 3-0 in ANY sport, but it has been done and it has been done in hockey. The Kings went on to win that series in 7 games… they also went on to beat the Ducks in 7 games… and the Blackhawks in 7 games. Did I also mention that all 3 game 7 victories came on the road? Impressive to say the least.

Meanwhile on the other coast, the Rangers also went through some adversity. The thing the Rangers and the Kings both in common while I’ve been writing my predictions is that I predicted both would lose in their first round match ups. I am not surprised either team won those series’ and even the series’ that followed. In the Rangers first round series against their rival from Philadelphia, it was a tale of two different teams within one. The Rangers won every other game and took the series in 7. The one thing that proved immediately was that they can win on the road if they need to. The next series they played Sid the Kid and the Penguins. I had predicted the Rangers to win that series and that’s what they did, however, not in the fashion I was expecting. The Rangers came back from 3-1, winning their last three, two of which in Pittsburgh. Lastly, the Rangers handled Montreal in six games. Both teams have had their share of battles, both fought back from being on the brink, both had to go to OT several times, and both played in at least two series that went the distance. 

Stanley Cup Finals

2) New York Rangers vs 3) Los Angeles Kings
3rd Round Prediction: Canadians in 6, Kings in 7
3rd Round Outcome: Rangers in 6, Kings in 7

Image

New York Rangers Analysis: I did not pick the Rangers to be playing in the Stanley Cup Finals, but the captain-less team has shown they can have multiple leaders offensively and defensively. Given the Rangers won the series in 6 games, they tired out Montreal and they were hanging on by a limb. After Carey Price went down, it really gave the Rangers the final edge they needed to take the series as long as King Henry was on top of his game, which he was except for game 5. My players to watch from last series for the Rangers was Brad Richards (2 points) and Rick Nash (5 points). I hit on Nash and missed on Richards, but proves the Rangers have several goal scorers that can step up at opportune times. As for this series, other than Henrik having to do what he’s expected to do and that’s to be close to lights out and Martin St. Louis do what he has been doing for the whole postseason, my player to watch in this series is Ryan McDonagh. The defenseman came out of nowhere against the Habs by recording 10 points (2G, 8A) and he will need to do just about the same against a strong offensive team with the Kings. Another player on the Rangers that may make a difference is Chris Kreider. Kreider had 8 points in their last series (3G, 5A), but he may be more of a force on the power play and just getting the puck in the Kings zone in general. He’s a speed guy and if he gets the right match ups, he may be overlooked. This is the first time the Rangers have been playing for the Cup since 1994 when they defeated the Canucks. 

Image

Los Angeles Kings Analysis: I had predicted the Kings to win their series in 7 games and they did just that. As a hockey fan, it was one of the most exciting, even-matched, great all around series that I’ve seen in quite some time. In the Kings last Cup series win, Jonathan Quick was a strong case as to why they won it. This year, he’s been good when he’s had to be, but he’s patchy at best. The reason why they’ve gotten to this point is their offensive game and make no mistake, Quick plays well on the brink. The Kings led 3-1 and couldn’t wrap it up. They played as the “underdog” by trailing 2-0 early in game 7 and that’s where the Kings seem to be most comfortable. The players I picked to watch last series (aside from Kopitar and Gaborik) were Justin Williams and Alec Martinez. I can’t pass up talking about how great Kopitar has been this whole postseason so he has 24 points (5G, 19A) in 21 games. Justin Williams simply doesn’t lose in a seventh game and he had a goal and an assist to help his team win. Alec Martinez was pretty quiet until game 7.. he only scored the game winning goal in OT. Gaborik wouldn’t want it any other way to dominate the Rangers after his nightmares from his past at MSG and I’m sure the fans won’t let him forget it either. But my players to watch other than the normal players to mention in Kopitar, Quick, and Carter, I’m picking Drew Doughty and Jarret Stoll. Doughty played an unbelievable series and ultimately one of the more consistent players in the post season. He always seems to be around the puck, he’s an excellent defenseman on the poke check, he’s great on special teams, and he also has a sharp shot. He is almost guaranteed to make a difference in at least one game. As for Jarret Stoll, he isn’t a flashy player and won’t record a lot of points, but he’s one of the unsung heroes on the ice. The one thing that doesn’t get a lot of discussion or notice is face-off wins. In the post season, Stoll has won 57% of his face-offs and if he stays around the same average, the Kings will carry the momentum.

Prediction: Kings in 6

Image

2014 NBA Playoffs Predictions – Conference Finals

Image

The second round of the playoffs were a lot less dramatic than the first round as expected and nothing too out of the ordinary as the top 2 seeds in both conferences advance to their respective conference championship. None of the series in the second round went to a final and seventh game and for the most part the better team clearly won each of their series. The Eastern Conference Final opens up tomorrow afternoon, so lets jump right in.

Eastern Conference

1) Indiana Pacers vs 2) Miami Heat
2nd Round Predictions: Wizards in 6, Heat in 7
2nd Round Outcome: Pacers in 6, Heat in 5

Image

Indiana Pacers Analysis: Well this is clearly the series everyone wanted from the beginning for the eastern conference finals match up, even though the way the Pacers got here wasn’t exactly how it was drawn up. The Pacers lost 6 games at home all season, however they have already lost 4 home games in the playoffs by Atlanta and Washington. In fact, even in most of those home losses in the playoffs it has been ugly. Are the Pacers just tripping over their feet because they were looking ahead to this series? Now is the time we will find that out. To me, it’s clear which player on the Pacers has to step up in order for them to win this series and it’s Roy Hibbert. Paul George is going to be an obvious factor as well, but Hibbert is the key to the Pacers success. The Pacers have proven in the past they can keep up with Miami and challenge the big 3, but several doubts have weighed in over the last month. Indiana barely found a way to grab the 1 seed in the East during the regular season for this reason, but their struggles at home in the playoffs may burn them. The Pacers are looking to get back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2000 (pictured) where they lost in 6 games to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Pacers are looking for their first NBA championship.

Image

Miami Heat Analysis: There was no question going into the playoffs that Miami would be playing for the eastern conference championship once again and little to no question that they would be playing the Pacers. The Pacers are really the only other competition for the Heat in the underwhelming Eastern Conference. I felt that the Nets could give the Heat some issues last round, but the Heat took care of them in five and they are playing a number 1 seed who struggled to get to this point. I don’t believe home court advantage exists in this series and Miami will be quick to turn that around. It would also be easy to say that the player to watch would be LeBron James or Wade or Bosh, but I’ll go with a supporting role player for who to watch other than the big 3. James Jones. This guy is a three-point specialist and though he won’t play a lot of minutes he may make an impact by grabbing momentum or making a big shot out of a timeout. The Heat have a lot of reliable supporting players like Ray Allen, Birdman, and Chalmers, but I think the Pacers should keep their eye on Jones when he’s on the court. The Miami Heat are looking to get back to the NBA Finals after winning it last year (pictured) and in the year prior. Miami is looking to be back-to-back-to-back champions. 
Prediction: Heat in 6

Western Conference

1) San Antonio Spurs vs 2) Oklahoma City Thunder
2nd Round Predictions: Blazers in 6, Clippers in 6
2nd Round Outcome: Spurs in 5, Thunder in 6

Image

San Antonio Spurs Analysis: Well I certainly missed on my predictions in the Western Conference when I went for two upsets. The Blazers may have used up all their energy and adrenaline in their first round series with the Houston Rockets, because they had the potential of getting swept and swept pretty easily. The Spurs look to have had just a tough matchup in their first round series with Dallas, because they rolled through Portland. The Spurs look like a team on a mission to get back the NBA Finals and no team can stand in their way. Well…. the NBA MVP stands in his way for this series. Over the past decade, you know exactly what you are going to get with San Antonio. Solid guard play, Duncan to make play after play in the paint, and role players no one has heard of coming off the bench performing at the highest level. Coach Pop knows how to coach this team during the regular season for moments like this and one of their advantages in this series is their playoff/big game experience. I also trust Coach Pop in a series like this over Coach Brooks, but who wouldn’t? There are loads of players I can pick to keep an eye on for this series and last year it was Danny Green that lit it up, but for this series I’m going with Boris Diaw. Diaw had a fantastic series against Portland and he may not put up 20 points or have countless double-doubles, but he will be a difference maker in at least one game. The San Antonio Spurs are looking to win their first NBA championship since 2007 (pictured) where they swept the Cleveland Cavs. The Spurs fell to the Miami Heat in the Finals last season.

Image

Oklahoma City Thunder Analysis: I also thought this team would fall in the second round, but to the LA Clippers in 6 games. Clippers fans would probably say they had the opportunity to do that where they lost game 5 after leading by 7 points going into the last minute. A few questionable calls got them to lose that game going back home down 3-2 and the rest is history. The two players in the spotlight at all times for this team is this year’s MVP, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Westbrook struggled scoring in game 6, but it’s nice to struggle when you have Durant and other role players that make it a habit of stepping up. In the last series, the Thunder led games by a lot and blew the lead late and they also did the opposite, but I’m not so sure if they fall behind against the Spurs, that they would let up at all. A big note to mention for this series is that Ibaka will miss the remainder of the playoffs after injuring his calf in game 6 versus the Clippers. Ibaka is a huge loss every way you look at it. He is a major presence in the paint with shot blocking, rebounding, and just being disruptive defensively. Can OkC replace that? They may have to get close in replacing that if they stand a chance. Other than the two obvious players to watch in Durant and Westbrook, I think it’s going to be key that Steven Adams and Nick Collison step up to have a good series. If you hear those names consistently, then you may see the Thunder steal this series. The Oklahoma City Thunder are looking to win their first NBA championship since 1979 (as the Seattle Supersonics, pictured) defeating the Washington Bullets in 7 games. The Thunder lost in the NBA Finals in 2012 to the Miami Heat. 
Prediction: Spurs in 7