Wassup Sports!?!?!?!?

17 year old Cale's very opinionated view on everything sports.

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The Favre-Retirement Game

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Possibly the most challenging, controversial, and over talked about issue in sports is the annual Brett Favre retirement situation. I have a special attachment to this, because Wassup Sports!?!?!? first post was a prediction of Favre coming back wearing purple and gold. Of course, I was right and this blog was off and running. Now here we are again, at a disappointing end to another one of Favre’s seasons, with an interception being a possible last memory of a brilliant career. Whether or not Favre will come back is now the most talked about topic. No, it’s not the New Orleans Saints going to their first Super Bowl, or the Indianapolis Colts upsetting the Cinderella story Jets. It’s all about Brett Favre. He is the center of the football world until the Super Bowl, and then beginning again right after the Vince Lombardi Trophy is to be handed out. The crazy part of it is that Favre’s decision won’t be made until mid-August, after training camp is over, and the preseason nearly done.

I think this situation is the most obvious for dear old Brett. He’s coming back. It’s my gut feeling. Why wouldn’t the man? Everyone told him that a 40-year-old quarterback couldn’t play in this league. He showed those doubters. Everyone told him that the Vikings couldn’t make a serious playoff run. Favre led the team to a first round bye, and a playoff victory, only to fall in overtime of the NFC Championship Game. Everything is set up for Favre’s return. He will have a year of chemistry built up with his receivers, and the Vikings can add some defensive depth during the offseason. Most importantly, Minnesota will have to give Adrian Peterson the “Tiki Barber Treatment” to get him to stop fumbling the ball.

Believe it or not, I also think that Favre keeps coming back for the records. There is no doubt in my mind that he wants to be remembered as the best to play the game, and wants the statistics to back that up. Every year that Brett keeps playing is a year that he keeps building his stats, while QBs Peyton Manning and Tom Brady continue to ride the wave behind him. Of course, Favre’s goal is to win another Super Bowl and go out on top, similar to John Elway. There is no reason that Favre couldn’t do that with the Vikings. They are a great team. Minnesota’s offense blew away the Saints’ defense yesterday, but it was the turnovers that blew the game. If Peterson gets fixed, I believe the Vikings win that game.

Finally, it does come down to Favre’s ball control. Yes, he has been known to throw the big interception. He has now done it to end the past two NFC Championship’s that he has played in. I believe the saying goes “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Favre’s feeling the shame, and put in that position again it is doubtful that he lets go of that ball.

Yes, it is early, but I believe Favre is coming back to lead the Vikings to a Super Bowl victory. Love him or hate him, the man is a great football player and a warrior. There is no reason that he shouldn’t come back. However, with my luck, the man will retire, crawl into a hole, and never be heard from again.

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Fan Voting for All-Star Games

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In the past decade, the MLB, NFL, and NBA have instituted fan voting to send players to the All-Star game. This was in effort to bring more attraction to the game, and get fans more involved in the process. However, this idea has backfired, and as recently as yesterday, it was very clear.

Yesterday, Sixers’ guard Allen Iverson was elected as a starter in the All-Star game. Iverson is averaging a career low in points per game with 14.4, which doesn’t even rank in the Top 40 in the league. Names that would surprise you that are in front of Iverson in this category are Toronto forward Andrea Bargnani, New York’s Al Harrington, and the Clippers’ center Chris Caman. Not only that, but Iverson has played for a total of 18 games this season. Yes, it is a nice way to honor Iverson, who may be in the last year of an illustrious career. However, it is the All-Star game. It’s not the honoree game. Cal Ripken Jr. played in the All-Star game during the last year of his career, but he was worthy of being there. He had the statistics that put him at the top of the league, and deserved the trip. Allen Iverson doesn’t have the statistics that fit in the All-Star game, not to mention being a starter. It is sad because I am a fan of Iverson, want him to succeed, and would love to watch him in one last All-Star game. He is just not worthy of it though, and some player will be snubbed of a roster spot.

Next on the list of the undeserved is Tracy McGrady. McGrady has not officially made the All-Star team, but was leading the voting for quite a long time. However, McGrady has played a giant total of 6 games this season, and is averaging 3.2 points per game. No that wasn’t a misprint. It is 3.2 points per game. That would surely be the lowest by any player to ever make the All-Star team, yet he lead the fan voting. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

This is not just a problem in the NBA. Players elected to the game undeservedly in baseball lately are Cubs’ OF Kosuke Fukudome in 2008, Red Sox DH David Ortiz in 2008, and Giants’ OF Barry Bonds in 2007. The NFL has also had issues with fan voting recently. Most of these issues stem from fan bases wanting “their guys” representing their team in the All-Star game. However, this should not be the case. It should be a game where the best players on a given year unite, and play a spirited, hard fought game. Although, it is never like that either.

The Future of McNabb

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Unless you have been under a rock for the past weekend, you may have noticed that the Philadelphia Eagles lost in the playoffs again. For the first time in coach Andy Reid’s career, it was a first round playoff game. What makes this loss even worse is that it was against division rival, the Dallas Cowboys. On top of that, it is the second time in two weeks that the Eagles had their behinds handed to them by Dallas. Less than stellar play by QB Donovan McNabb has started up the questions that have become commonplace in the past few years. “Where is McNabb going? Will he be in an Eagle’s uniform? Will he retire? Who will be the starting quarterback of the Eagles?”

Of course, a day after their playoff loss, coach Andy Reid proclaimed that McNabb is his quarterback for 2010, which is the last year in his contract. Obviously, things can change, something could happen, and McNabb may not even be in an Eagles uniform next season. Who knows? Only time will tell. For now, many guesses will be thrown around, and it will be a topic for the offseason. Personally, I believe McNabb will be back next season, and it will be his last shot, and possibly last season in an Eagles’ uniform, regardless of performance. However, I will go through the many different scenarios that I could see happening this offseason.

McNabb is the Eagles’ QB in 2010

I believe this scenario is most likely. This means that backup QB Michael Vick will surely be gone, for Philadelphia will not waste $5 million dollars on a backup. QB Kevin Kolb will again be holding the clipboard on the sidelines, and the same core offensive group will return. It would be almost the same offensive unit that played throughout most of this season, barring injuries.

McNabb is traded

The trading partners for McNabb are more limited now than in year’s past. The possible destinations for this Eagle to land would be in St. Louis, Seattle, Buffalo, San Francisco, and Oakland. St. Louis is coached by former Eagles’ coach, Steve Spagnuolo, and needs a quarterback to bring along receivers. Seattle seems unlikely as well, for new coach Pete Carroll is looking to rebuild the franchise. Buffalo needs a quarterback to run their offense, but WR Terrell Owens may have to go for McNabb to play in Buffalo. The spot that makes most sense would be San Francisco, where the team is on the cusp of making the playoffs, but needs better quarterback play to be a contender. Oakland just needs someone to attempt to run their offense, as their expensive-bust quarterback, JaMarcus Russell is most likely done there. However, QB Bruce Gradkowski may have stepped up enough to claim the job. I can’t see the Eagles getting much from any partner for McNabb. He isn’t the cheapest player in the world, so teams may only be willing to give up a third round pick for him. They might also target a backup player that they might like from a team, and bring him in for McNabb.

In this case, QB Michael Vick’s option could be exercised. When Vick signed, there was rumor that coach Andy Reid wanted to transform him into a complete quarterback, and Vick’s big play against Dallas was almost the entire Eagles’ offense for the game. If Vick’s option isn’t exercised, QB Kevin Kolb, who played well in the couple games that McNabb was injured this season, would take control of the offense as the Eagles’ quarterback for the forseeable future.

McNabb is released

Ruling out no options here, the Eagles could release McNabb, and get nothing for him. If that happened, I wouldn’t be surprised if veteran RB Brian Westbrook got his walking papers as well, as he is due $7.25 million next season as a base salary. It is unclear how much Westbrook has left in the tank, as he was injured for more than half this season, but was ineffective in his limited time on the field. The quarterback scenarios for replacing McNabb would still be the same as above.

I don’t see the Eagles changing too much this offseason. They will obviously try to upgrade their offensive line and secondary, and add depth to their line backing core and defensive line. It is doubtful that any big splashes will be made, such as any move involving QB Donovan McNabb.

Wild Card Playoff Predictions

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NFC PLAYOFFS

#3 Dallas Cowboys vs. #6 Philadelphia Eagles

Personally, I am an Eagles fan. Unfortunately, I do remember sweeping the New York Giants three straight times last season, so I know it can be done. So far, the Cowboys secondary has shut down DeSean Jackson, and if he can’t make any plays, they are done for. Although, McNabb must step up his play to get Jackson the ball, for he looked absolutely lost last Sunday. I don’t see anyway my birds can pull this one out, as the Dallas defense is just on a roll, and they showed no way of stopping either the Romo-Austin or Romo-Witten connections last week.

Prediction: 24-14, Dallas

#4 Arizona Cardinals vs. #5 Green Bay Packers

I see this game as a bit of an easy matchup as well. Green Bay blew apart the Cardinals last week, and there is no reason to believe that they won’t do it again. The Cardinals are most likely going to be without WR Anquan Boldin, who can barely walk now with his MCL sprain and an upper ankle sprain. Yes, the man is tough, but even if he does play it would be a very small contribution. Without Boldin, the Packers can put the NFL’s best cornerback, Charles Woodson, up against WR Larry Fitzgerald all day, and blitz Warner nearly every play.

Prediction: 30-14, Green Bay

AFC PLAYOFFS

#3 New England Patriots vs. #6 Baltimore Ravens

This could be the best game of this weekend, as the Patriots prolific offense will matchup against the always ready Baltimore defense. However, the Patriots are missing the NFL’s leader in receptions, Wes Welker, and will be relying on rookie Julian Edelmen to replace him. Frankly, the x-factor in this game is Ravens’ QB Joe Flacco. He has had a pretty inconsistent season, but if he can play a good four quarters, with passes setting up the running game with RB Ray Rice, than the Ravens should come out on top.

Prediction: 24-21, Baltimore

#4 Cincinnati Bengals vs. #5 New York Jets

Yes, the Jets held Carson Palmer to zero yards on eleven passing plays. Yes, Chad Ochocinco injured his knee in pregame warm ups and was a non factor. Yes, the Jets walloped the Bengals 37-0. However, the playoffs are a different animal. Rookie QB Mark Sánchez will have to learn that mistakes are more critical now than in the regular season, and have to be held to a minimum. Also, the Jets must realize that just because their coach, Rex Ryan, calls them the favorites, doesn’t actually make them the favorites. The Bengals had absolutely nothing to play for last week. That’s why I expect a totally different team to take the field, and beat the New York Jets. I believe this was the toughest call on Wild Card weekend, as I had felt that the Jets were going to win earlier in the week. However, as we creep closer and closer to game time, something inside of me is telling that the Bengals will run through the Jets top defense, setting up the passing attack to WR Chad Ochocinco and former Jets’ wideout, Laveranues Coles.

Prediction: 20-16, Cincinnati

A Talent Anomaly

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The Washington Redskins are a talented football team. Yes, I really did just write that. If you take a look at the ‘Skins’ roster, it contains RB Clinton Portis, S LaRon Landry, CB DeAngelo Hall, LB London Fletcher, and offensive linemen Chris Samuels and Randy Thomas. These are talented players, when healthy, which has been a big part of the Redskins problem this year. However, after a terrible blowout loss at home against the Giants, fans everywhere are calling for the job of head coach Jim Zorn. That is not entirely wrong because he should have been able to do a better job with the players he did have healthy. However, I believe the problem lies deeper within the Redskins than anyone is realizing.

In 2005, the Redskins finished 10-6, and lost in the playoffs to the Seattle Seahawks. That team consisted of most of the ‘Skins core players now, such as RB Clinton Portis,

Jim Zorn (above) has endured a tough season with the Redskins.

 QB Jason Campbell, and WRs Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El. Ever since 2005, the Redskins have finished 5-11, 9-7, 8-8, and are looking at a possible 4-12 finish this season. Over that time period, Washington has had several different offensive coordinators and two head coaches. On defense, the team has fluctuated from a rating of 7th – 29th in a span of one season. The obvious thing that is lacking is consistency, but it is something that runs deeper.

In Washington, there is no chemistry. QB Jason Campbell is not the quarterback that you want to be airing the ball out all game, but someone who you let move the ball slowly down the field through his running game and short passes. However, WRs Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El are speed receivers that are best at running deep routes. On the ground, any team with RBs Clinton Portis and LaDell Betts should be a running minded offense. However, Campbell had 506 pass attempts in 2008, which was a year where Portis almost gained 1,500 yards.

There has been similar cases of very talented teams that just couldn’t get over the hump because of lack on chemistry issues. The most recent and obvious example would be another team in the NFC East, the Dallas Cowboys. Throughout the years of 2006-09, WR Terrell Owens clouded the ‘Boys locker room, and had many chemistry issues with QB Tony Romo. Romo was a young quarterback in those years, and didn’t need the stress of making sure that Owens was happy with how much he got the ball. This all led up to the crazy accusations that Romo and TE Jason Witten were having secret meetings with their offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett, in order to keep Owens from getting the ball.

Wade Phillips (above) was able to turn the Cowboys around this season.

Now, if we all travel back a year ago, the memories of Dallas getting shut out of the playoffs should come back to us. At the time, all of the Cowboys’ fans were calling for coach Wade Phillips’ job. However, the firing never came, and instead, Owens was released. This allowed QB Tony Romo to spread the ball through the offense at his will, and it has run more efficiently. Now, the Cowboys are 9-5, and most likely heading to the playoffs.

I’m not saying that the Redskins can get rid of or add one player to turn the ship around. It is just simple moves that help put players into positions in which they can succeed which define a season’s outcome.

The Chris Henry Effect

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Early Thursday morning, Cincinnati Bengals’ wide receiver, Chris Henry, passed away from serious injuries sustained in a car crash. The details aren’t quite clear yet, but it is known that he was fighting with his fiancée at the time of his unfortunate death.

Chris Henry (above) passed away early Thursday morning.

While alive, Henry had a troubled life. Arrested numerous times for various crimes, Henry reached rock bottom after being suspended from the NFL for eight games of the 2007 season, and he was released by the Bengals. However, Henry worked to clean up his act, and succeeded by returning to the NFL, and kept a relatively low profile for the past two years. At 26, it is no doubt that Henry, even though troubled, died too young. However, his life may lift his team, the Bengals, to heights that they have never reached, being the NFL and Super Bowl Championship.

Currently, the Bengals are 9-4, and are in first place in the AFC North. They are the third seed for the AFC playoffs, and have a shot of catching the Chargers, who they play this Sunday, and clinching a first round bye. After this weekend, the Bengals play the Chiefs and New York Giants, and both of those games should be relatively easy wins. However, I expect the Bengals to not only clinch a first round bye, beat the Chargers this weekend, and sweep their final two games, but they are now my Super Bowl favorites.

Over the years, this core group of Bengals has proven to be good, but not great. This year, they have been quite surprising, but have struggled during the past month. If there was any team in need of inspiration, it was Cincinnati. Bengals’ QB Carson Palmer has even suggested the idea of dedicating this season to Henry, and defensive coordinator, Mike Zimmer’s wife, Vikki.

I expect this team to be on a mission. The Bengals could very well go and blowout the Chargers this weekend, and storm into the playoffs. If the standings were to finish as I think they will, with Cincinnati as the No. 2 seed, and the first round of the playoffs sporting New England and San Diego as winners, the Bengals would face the Patriots. Not only is New England reeling, but I think the Bengals will be unstoppable. After that, I would predict that Cincinnati would face the Colts in the AFC Championship game, and storm into the Super Bowl.

A Two Month Recap

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I’ve had a busy couple months, and of course, schoolwork comes first. Realizing that I have left my blog undated, I will make it a priority to keep writing about important stories everyday.

Here’s what has happened in the past couple months:

The New York Yankees won the World Series: This saddened me greatly, being a Phils Phan. It has taken me a couple of months to come to grips with the loss, but I am already looking forward to our revenge next October. The Yankees just out pitched the Phillies starters, and hit in the clutch. Although, the Yankees got some help from a well placed camera, the Phillies got their own help from the umpires. All in all, it was a great and entertaining series. In attendance for Game 5, I can honestly say it was one of the greatest times of my life.

Surprising Teams in the NFL: Previously, I have predicted how I thought the season would unfold in the NFL. So far, I have pretty accurately

Cedric Benson (above) has led the Cincinnati Bengals to the AFC North Division lead.

predicted the positions of teams in the standings, but greatly miscalculated their records. Teams such as the 10-0 New Orleans Saints, the 7-3 Cincinnati Bengals, and the 7-4 Denver Broncos have overachieved by my standards, as I had these teams much lower in the standings. However, teams such as the 6-4 Pittsburgh Steelers, 4-6 Tennessee Titans, and the 5-5 Baltimore Ravens have really underperformed. My surprise pick for this year in the NFL was the Kansas City Chiefs, as I predicted them shocking the world and finishing the season with a 9-7 record, and a second place finish in the AFC West. However, the Chiefs have gone 3-7, and its looking very doubtful that they will win their final six games. I was wrong, I admit it.

Jimmie Johnson won his 4th consecutive championship: In a sport that goes highly unpublicized, a dynasty is occurring right before our eyes. Yes, NASCAR is not my favorite thing to watch, but even I can appreciate a champion like Jimmie Johnson. He has done nothing that no one else has ever been able to do, and there is a lot to be said for that. It takes much drive to succeed year in and year out, and Johnson has proven that he has more drive than anyone.