Winds of Change

On Monday night, we all witnessed as the Clemson Tigers defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide to win their first national championship since 1981. It was a monumental game for viewers, a monumental win for Clemson’s football program, and marked a potential change in power over college football.

In their win over a perennial powerhouse like Alabama, Clemson proved to the world that they are the best in college football. Dabo Swinney built Clemson into a contender and he has finally led them to the promised land. Deshaun Watson’s performance throughout the season, especially in the title game, has had a huge impact on Clemson’s rise to the top of the college football world. After being snubbed for the Heisman, Watson only got better and proved he was the best player in college football right now.

Although Watson is on his way to the NFL, Clemson still has a very good chance of keeping their spot on top of the NCAA. After successfully recruiting 5-star quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Clemson can further cement their hold on college football for the future.

So with Clemson now on top, the power has not only shifted from Alabama to them, but the power has also shifted from the SEC to the ACC. If you look past Alabama, the SEC hasn’t been doing so hot lately. Teams that used to be near the top like LSU, South Carolina, Auburn, and Florida has since fallen off (South Carolina fell off so badly that Steve Spurrier didn’t want to coach anymore). After Alabama lost the championship game, the SEC’s time on top has officially ended. Meanwhile in the ACC if you look past Clemson, you will see surging teams like Louisville, Virginia Tech, and Florida State. Not to mention that the ACC went 9-3 in bowl games this year including Clemson’s win over ‘Bama in the national championship game.

It’s clear that things have changed in college football. Once gripped by the SEC, college football now belongs to the conference that was once thought of as only being good for basketball. Clemson, along with the rest of the ACC, have had to climb for a long time in football, and now at long last, they have reached the mountaintop.

 

Tampa Showdown: Alabama v. Clemson II

Round two, here we go!

Two will go toe to toe as the Alabama Crimson Tide face off against the Clemson Tigers. Last year, the world watched as these two went blow for blow in the national title game and Alabama came out on top. This year, we will be getting the same matchup in the same game, but there is a difference this time around.

For Clemson, they will come into this game better and hungrier than before. The Tigers will not only look to avenge last season’s loss to Alabama, they have something to prove in this game. They look to prove to the rest of the college football world that they are a force to be reckoned with along with the rest of ACC. They also want to help get coach Dabo Swinney the credit he deserves for building Clemson into the top-5 team they are now.

For Alabama, they look to keep their vice grip on college football and continue to bring the hardware back to Tuscaloosa. This is another chance for Nick Saban to add to his historic resume with the Crimson Tide.

Expect to see a shootout when these two teams play on the 9th. I think this will be a closely contested game, but not as good as last year’s game (Most of the time sequels suck anyway). I just think that Alabama will not put up as many points as they did in last year’s game due to the play calling by Lane Kiffin in the weeks leading up to the game not to mention the last minute change of offensive coordinators from Kiffin to Steve Sarkisian. On the other side, Clemson has been impressive on both sides of the ball. DeShaun Watson and Clemson’s offense has been lighting it up, and their defense has been stout. The Tigers made a huge statement in their blowout win over Urban Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes, while Alabama’s offense didn’t impress much in their win over Washington.

In the end, I think that Clemson has more to play for in this game. Not mention that Alabama doesn’t seem as dominant as they were earlier this year. I have Clemson winning this one 35-27.

Still Fishing

After former running back Eric Dickerson criticized current Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and vowed to not go to another Rams game until Jeff Fisher is gone, the Los Angeles Rams extended Jeff Fisher’s contract for the next two years. As a result of this, it looks like there won’t be any Eric Dickerson sightings at any Rams home games for the next two seasons at least.

This is a very head scratching move by the Rams. I don’t understand how you can continue to coach your team to four going on five straight 7-9 or below seasons and still keep your job. So the fact that Fisher still got a 2-year contract extension while his team is on the verge of missing the playoffs for fifth year in a row is shocking to say the least.

Don’t get me wrong, Jeff Fisher was a good coach…was. During his tenure with the Tennessee Titans (He began when the Titans were still the Houston Oilers) Fisher led the Titans to multiple postseason appearances. But ever since he started coaching the Rams, it just seems like he can’t find a way to put them over the edge. In one instance, I believe the Rams should just move on from Fisher and target other coaching options such as New England’s defensive coordinator  Matt Patricia.

But I also think I see what the Rams see in Fisher. In Fisher’s first five seasons as head coach for the Oilers/Titans, his teams usually finished the season at 8-8 (.500). Then in his sixth year, the Titans exploded to a 13-3 record and if Kevin Dyson wasn’t tackled one yard short of the goal line, Jeff Fisher would have been a champion. So it is understandable that the Rams might be patient,in hopes that Fisher will coach them to a Super Bowl appearance and hopefully a Super Bowl victory.

But only time will tell how smart of a move this extension was for the Rams. With Jared Goff in the wings and other weapons surrounding him, it might be possible that the Rams can build a contender in the years to come.

It’s Dak’s Team Now

Cowboys and Packers players run to the center of the field to greet each other as the final seconds of the game wind down to zero. After another impressive performance, Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott is greeted by reporters. Meanwhile, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones walks from his luxury box, knowing that this upcoming week he will be bombarded with the billion dollar question in Dallas now: “What are you going to do when Tony Romo is healthy?”

While Jones has already said that Romo will start once he’s healthy, that was before the impressive wins over Washington, Chicago, San Fransico and Cincinnati. Even after those games, Jerry Jones and Dak Prescott have said that this is still Tony Romo’s team. But after this crushing win over the Packers at Lambeau, it might be time to officially hand the keys over to Dak.

Dak Prescott has been on a record-setting pace as he broke Tom Brady’s record for most completions to begin a career at 177 before throwing his first career interception. Prescott has shown the Cowboys that they can win with him as he has led them to a 5-1 record heading into the bye week. Dak has been praised for his poise and patience as a rookie and has proven to us why he deserves to keep the starting job over Romo.

Of course, we all know how talented Tony Romo is and when he’s healthy he’s one of the best QBs in the league. However, there’s no denying that Dak Prescott has been playing like a franchise quarterback and his time should come soon rather than later. Not to mention that there are some huge risks be taking Prescott out in favor for Romo.

Prescott is one of the hottest quarterbacks in the league now, and his chemistry with the rest of the players is flowing right now. If you take Prescott out, you risk messing up the flow of that team chemistry. You could also risk creating a divide in the locker room by choosing someone who only played in four games last year over someone who currently has the team on a five-game winning streak going into the bye. And why would you take Prescott out; if he is playing this well now, he can only get better from here. He’s a very accurate passer who also has the ability to kill defenses with his feet, an asset that Romo cannot utilize as much due to him being so fragile.

The best option for the Cowboys would be to let Prescott play for the rest of the season (including playoffs if they make it) and if he starts to play poorly, put Romo back in. But there’s no need to put Romo in now if Prescott is out here playing like a 10-year, Pro Bowl vet. And besides, if the Cowboys really wanted Romo back and fully healthy, they should let him rest the rest of the season so he can probably come back next year stronger than ever.

 

Action Jackson

At the beginning of the college football season, we thought we knew who would be in the running for the Heisman trophy. We were thinking Deshaun Watson, Christian McCaffery, and Leonard Fournette. But since the start of the season, Louisville QB Lamar Jackson has been taking college football by storm and everyone is getting caught in his wake.

Jackson has skyrocketed to the top of the college football world, racking up 1625 passing yards with a completion percentage of 59.4 and 14 touchdowns in the air. Meanwhile, he’s been tearing it up on the ground with 688 yards with an average of 7.2 yards per carry and 14 touchdowns. He has 28 total touchdowns in just five weeks of action, which is why he is known as the touchdown machine.

His play has captured the attention of fans and players alike, even getting critical acclaim from former Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick. Even in a lost last week to fellow Heisman hopeful Deshaun Watson and the Clemson Tigers, Lamar Jackson put up impressive numbers. In the loss, Jackson threw for 295 yards, a touchdown, a pick, and 162 yards on the ground and 2 touchdowns.

Lamar Jackson is on pace to set historic NCAA records this season. With plenty of time left this season, Jackson can continue to prove his case for the Heisman trophy. And since he’s a sophomore, he has time to prove he’s worth a 1st round draft pick in a future NFL draft.

 

Romo’s Days Numbered?

 

Coming off a collarbone injury from last season, Tony Romo has looked sharp so far this preseason. In the time he has played this preseason, Romo is 5 for 6 in passing attempts, and has thrown for a total of 60 yards but no touchdowns. On Thursday night, however, Romo’s time was cut short with a back injury that gave Cowboys fans flashbacks of the tumultuous 2015 season. After Romo was forced to sit out the rest of the game, rookie sensation Dak Prescott came in and lit it up for the third week in a row. Prescott went 17 for 23 in passing attempts with 116 yards, one touchdown, and a QB rating of 99.2 during his time against the Seahawks. With the 4th round rookie playing at a surprisingly high level, he has managed to turn everyone’s heads towards his play and away from Romo’s return. Cowboys Nation can’t get enough off Dak Prescott, and with the potential Prescott has, could Tony Romo’s days as the face of America’s Team be numbered?

Asking that question may seem a little overboard considering it’s only the preseason, but given some of the circumstances, it could be a good question and a very real possibility. Romo hasn’t played a full season since 2012 due to back and collarbone injuries. Last season he went down with a collarbone injury twice and the Cowboys went 1-11 in games without him. While there is no doubt that when Romo is healthy, he plays at an elite level, it has to suck that after every single sack or hit he takes, you have to hold your breath and pray that he hasn’t broken into a million pieces. Eventually, you’re going to want to put in a guy that can play at a high level, win games and can stay healthy, and Prescott might be that guy. There’s a good chance that if Romo went down again and Prescott continues to play at a high level, he could take Romo’s job right up from under him.

Tony Romo has to find a way to stay healthy if he wants to remain the starter for the Cowboys. While Romo has been taking baby steps to get back from his injury, Dak Prescott has amazed many people with his accuracy, poise in the pocket and running ability. With this only being his rookie year, Prescott still has a lot of room to grow and become even better. If Romo’s recent injury is serious, Prescott will be thrown it the fire sooner than expected. And if Prescott can continue to go out there and light it up and help the Cowboys win games, we could see even less of Tony Romo than we already see now.

 

 

 

For the Land

The Drive, The Shot, The Decision

For decades, Cleveland sports fans have been tortured with painful reminders of the failures and unfortunate events that have happened to their professional teams each season. From the original Browns relocating to Baltimore and winning a Super Bowl, to LeBron James going to the Miami Heat and winning back-to-back titles, Cleveland sports fans have gone through plenty of heartbreak. Even with the return of LeBron James, Cavalier fans watched them make it to the finals only to fall to the Warriors last year. These fans had their hopes set high only to watch it fall and shatter to the ground like glass. After the Warriors went out to a 3-1 lead in the Finals, everyone counted the Cavs out…everyone except Cleveland. What we all thought would be another heartbreaking debacle for Cleveland turned into a magical moment in sports history.

The Cleveland Cavaliers overcame a 3-1 deficit, a tough Warriors team, and curse that has seemed to plague Cleveland teams for so long to win their first NBA title and bring Cleveland its first championship in 52 years. Cleveland, Ohio is once again the city of champions.

The fans of Cleveland have finally got their long awaited championship. Long gone are the memories of “The Drive”, “The Shot” and “The Decision”. Cleveland fans can replace those moments with LeBron James’ block on Andre Iguodala, or “The Block” and Kyrie Irving’s game-clinching 3-pointer, or “The Three”. These Cleveland fans have waited for this moment, and their patience has finally been rewarded.

Congrats Cavaliers, this one is for the Land!

 

Not out the woods yet

After getting blown out in the first two games of the Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers returned the favor and blew out the Golden State Warriors in game 3 of the Finals. The Cavs looked in sync again in game 3 as they dominated the Warriors in field goal percentage, rebounds, and three-pointers. Now the Cavaliers have the momentum heading into game 4 at home, but it will still be a tough uphill battle for them as the series goes on.

Draymond Green said that the Cavs were hungrier than the Warriors in game 3, so expect the Warriors to come back starving for a win  in game 4. They will give the Cavs a hard time just like they did in games 1 and 2. It will not get any easier for the Cavs; after game 4, the series will head back to Oakland where the Warriors have enjoyed a huge home-court advantage as they own an 11-1 record at home during this postseason.

The Cavs win at home over the Warriors was impressive, but they are not out of the woods yet. The Warriors will put up points, and stiffen up their defense. Down 2-1, the Cavs will fight to even up the series and win the rest of the games to finally bring a championship to “The Land”. With the momentum now on Cleveland’s side, let’s see if that momentum can lift them to a game 4 victory tonight and help them win the rest of the series.

 

The rematch we all saw coming…

Having a little  Déjà vu? Don’t worry, I know how you feel.

Once again we are going to see LeBron James and the Cavaliers battle Steph Curry and the Warriors in the NBA Finals. It’s the matchup we all saw coming: from the Cavs 30-11 start and dominant post-season play to the Warriors record-breaking season and miraculous comeback in the Western Conference Finals against the Thunder. It seems this rematch was written in the stars for these two teams (or in a script…but that’s another topic for later ).

For the Cavs, this matchup presents a chance to avenge the heartbreaking loss from last year and finally bring the people of Cleveland the championship they deserve. For the Warriors, this is a chance to put the cherry on top of the record-breaking season they have put together. Steph Curry looks to get back to back championships to go with his back to back MVP awards while Lebron is appearing in his sixth consecutive NBA Finals.

This is bound to be an exciting rematch that will come down to the wire. Both teams are more explosive this time around and will make this year’s Finals far more entertaining than last year.

I see this series coming down to a game 7, and with the Cavs now healthy, I think they will win the series 4-3.

 

NBA Conference Finals: Analysis and Predictions

After the Raptors win over the Heat in Game 7 yesterday, four teams remain in the hunt for the NBA title. The Toronto Raptors will battle the Cleveland Cavaliers for the East while the Oklahoma City Thunder will take on the Golden State Warriors for the West. Let’s take a deeper look at these matchups and predict who will advance to the finals:

Golden State Warriors vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

This is the matchup that everyone was hoping for: two talented, excellent scoring teams battling for a spot in the Finals. The Thunder put up a good fight in last matchups against the Warriors, but the Warriors always came out on top. The games against the Thunder have been a huge part of Stephen Curry’s MVP season highlight reel as we saw him hit a near half-court shot against them in overtime to win it. The Warriors have had a challenge with the Thunder, and that challenge will not be any easier this time around. Throughout the playoffs, we have seen the Thunder improve and we even saw them take down the mighty Spurs in six games. Just like their games during the season, I think this will be an exciting and very entertaining series to watch and there will be plenty of offensive fireworks to see. I think the Thunder will put up a great fight, but Stephen Curry and the Warriors will have the edge once again. Prediction: Warriors 4-3

Cleveland Cavaliers vs Toronto Raptors

 So far, the Cavs have been unstoppable and are currently 8-0 now in the playoffs, but I don’t think that trend will continue in this series. Unlike the Pistons and Hawks, the Raptors have superstars like Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan who can be true difference makers in this series. The Raptors have forced a game 7 against both the Pacers and the Heat while the Cavs have cruised to victory in their series. Many think the Cavs will also sweep the Raptors in this series as well, but the Raptors are too talented of a team to go out like that. I see the Raptors winning a game or two before the Cavaliers eliminate them and punch their ticket to the Finals against the Warriors. Prediction: Cavaliers 4-1

So there you have it. I see the Warriors and Thunder being an entertaining series that might go to seven games and the Cavaliers beating the Raptors in five games. We will most likely see a rematch of last year’s finals. The Warriors and Thunder tip-off tonight at 9 and the Raptors and Cavs face off tomorrow at 8:30.