With the Championship round of the NFL season rapidly approaching, we saw some shocking, incredible, and audacious performances in the past week. The Cincinnati Bengals, for me the dark horse of the AFC have lived up to that tag with a dominant win against the Las Vegas Raiders, and a masterful defensive performance against the number 1 seeded Tennessee Titans, albeit Ryan Tannehill made it easy for them.
The return of the King Derrick Henry was not enough to stop this Cinci’ offense led by Joe Burrow. Being completely honest though, this is where the road stops for the Bengals after a Cinderella run, against Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs. The offensive line allowed Burrow to be sacked NINE times against the Titans, and if that were replicated against Kansas City, then there would be a blow-out. The only way to stop the Chiefs is to keep the ball out of the hands of Patrick Mahomes for as long as possible because as we saw 13 seconds is TOO MUCH TIME.
Cincinnati had shown resilience against the Chiefs earlier in the season beating them at Arrowhead and would love to repeat it but this is the playoffs. The Bengals have a great future if they can keep Joe Burrow protected for more than 1.684658367 seconds to find Ja’Marr Chase, and with coach of the year Zac Taylor at the helm, there is no doubt that they cannot repeat this feat next season. Burrow has massively improved from the kid who was OK and then picked up an ACL injury which ended his season early last time out.
Being the first QB in franchise history to throw over 500 yards in a single game, Burrow this season was compared to greats such as Joe Montana. Hearing these comparisons after one healthy season just spells trouble for league rivals, but utopia for fans and analysts everywhere.
I do believe that the Bengals have ran their course in the playoffs and have given their fans something to be hopeful for for the future. What a run it has been though. Nearly giving up the lead to the Raiders making the game so much more enjoyable, the no-look 52 yard field goal from Evan McPherson to eliminate the Titans in the divisional round. They have been a joy to watch so even if they are crushed at Arrowhead, they will go down like Bengal Tigers: with a rough and resilient fight.
Witnessing that absolute shootout between Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes last Sunday, one couldn’t help but recognize that even if Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger do retire this year, the league is in good hands for the better part of the next decade barring injuries. Rewind ten years where there were four top-tier QB’s, two in the AFC and two in the NFC. The AFC had Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, while the NFC had Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Yes there was Big Ben, and yes there was also Russel Wilson, but those four were a cut above the rest. Nowadays we do have four top-tier QB’s compared to this generation, but they are all in the AFC.
Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen’s slug show was reminiscent of when Tom Brady met Peyton Manning in 2015 with the latter winning that encounter 20 to 18. What a game that was with two greats going head-to-head. In that year, Manning ended up winning the Super Bowl so will it be the same for Mahomes? To be completely honest maybe only the Rams stand a chance. His new found running ability is a new dimension that defenders have to look out for, especially since he is already an unstoppable player.
I did mention four Quarterbacks, not just Pat and Josh, but you got two talented youngsters in Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert. The only reason three made the playoffs and Herbert didn’t is because of idiotic coaching in the final game of the season by Brandon Staley which made the player with the second-most passing yards (5,014 yards) not make the playoffs to have, what would have been a Cinderella run. Herbert, since his rookie year, has shown to many that the only way the Chargers lose is due to a soft defense, or coaching mistakes, but never down to him. If a QB puts the team up by twenty points, losing that lead is on the defense and defensive coordinator. Justin had the 3rd most touchdowns with 38 behind only Matthew Stafford (41) and Tom Brady (43). It was a disgrace to see that he was not at the playoffs because then, him against Burrow, would be like Farve vs Roethlisberger.
Usually, I would not recommend for a player to leave their teams, but seeing the last 4 years the AFC was decided at Arrowhead, and Mahomes is not on the decline so it would be a tough time for those guys for future years. Don’t get me wrong, Allen did beat Mahomes in that playoff game, with both legs and arm, but his defense allowed a team to travel 50+ yards in 13 seconds to go to Overtime and win the game. These four, I know there will be people who might bring up Lamar Jackson, Trevor Lawrence, and even Mac Jones, but with the same reasoning in mind; those four are a cut above the rest and it’s not even close.
The New York Mets are pulling an offseason that’s impressive. The last time the Mets had a winter this impressive, it was 1992. Jeff Torborg was the genius manager, Bobby Bonilla was the sexy addition all star addition to the lineup, Eddie Murray was a veteran star reaching the end of his career, Bret Saberhagen was an ace Cy Young pitcher brought in to bolster a rotation with Mets stars form the 80’s lingering around….holy shit, this all sounds familiar. And suddenly, it sounds frightening! That 1992 Mets team ate mule ass. Murray was the highlight maneuver somehow driving in 93 runs while batting a poor .261 and with a meager 14 home runs.
How do the Mets avoid that same fate for the 2022 version of the team? By keeping the foot on the gas pedal. They made some very nice moves in Starling Marte and Max Scherzer. They made some good statistical moves in Mark Canha and Eduardo Escobar. But they aren’t done, not by a longshot.
There are thirteen steps that can- barring injury- make the Mets a devastating ballclub to face, both now and in the future. And of course, I’ll share all ten of these concepts with you in no particular order.
Step one (and two?): Trade JD Davis
Why? Because he expects it. He almost sounds like he wants it. AS far as I can tell, the Mets lack of fascination with the .288 as a Mets hitter goes back to when Davis did not accept a contract offer and went to arbitration. The Mets won that case – which was over about $300,000- but in winning, I’m sure they felt that if the arbitrator thinks Davis isn’t good, then maybe he isn’t. What can a JD Davis get for you as a team? The first base, third base, left field designated hitter and two time pitcher that has hit .288 over the last three seasons should get you a decent haul from either a major league roster or in minor league prospects.
The Mets acquired Kahlil Lee for just about nothing, and Mets fans think he’s a star of the future. He’s not. However, if some minor league trash gets you something, imagine what a .288 hitter should get you? I’d think immediate high level bullpen help, or two of a teams better prospects. Too much, Mets fans say? Sure. Now do the trade the other way. What, as a Mets fan, would you think the Mets have to give up to acquire a supersub that hits close to .300? Most Mets fans would say Brooklyn, because most fans in general don’t get how trades work.
Davis is good enough to think, maybe he can be moved to get the Mets another closer. Maybe it’s a package. Maybe that package is headed to Milwaukee and involves Davis and Edlose Diaz for Josh Hader. And that is not a crazy, impossible deal.
Step Three: Trade Dom Smith
Next up on the trade market is Dom Smith. Personally, I do not prefer to trade a guy on a down season (as you’ll see in my Jeff McNeil explanation later on), but here’s the thing: 2021 was a normal season for Smith. Dom Smith is a career .252 hitter. Smith hit .244 last season. His ONLY outliers as season were in season with less than 200 at bats. And his only season with heave work? He hit under his career average. And had a dip in power, as he hit just one more home run in 294 more at bats. Smith has never hit 12 home runs in a major league season.
Is Dom a good guy? Absolutely. Is he a linchpin to the World Series? Not at all. What could a Smith get you? Maybe a middle reliever. Maybe picks or prospects. I’m OK either way. You’ll see why shortly.
Step Four: Trade Robinson Cano
When the Seattle Mariners gave Cano that absurd 10 year contract, they probably weren’t expecting all of the performance enhancing drug issues that followed. The first time Seattle saw a drug suspension? They saved almost $12 million dollars in forfeited salary. And what did they do? Immediately traded Cano to a baby GM and ate $16.25 million of the remaining contract Cano saved Seattle $12 million of that, so basically the Cano deal costs Seattle $1 million a year until the deal ends.
With his second drug bust, Cano saved the Mets $20 million. It’s about time to use that money just like Seattle did.
Trade Cano to whomever wants him. He will hit around .270 next year or two and play some second base and some DH, which will help preserve his body over the final two seasons of his no longer hall of fame career. A .270 hitter in the major leagues come in at around $15 million. So let the Mets use that $20 mil they saved last season and subsidize Cano over the next two years for $10 million per. Add Seattles $3.75 million, and any team taking Cano will have a final cost of $10.25 million. Cano is 29 doubles away from 600. Bad teams like to celebrate weird shit like that, and like a marquee name on the roster. See Mets with Gary Sheffield, Ricky Henderson, Bobby Bonilla part two, etc.
Cano will not bring you a massive haul because of all of the question marks after his second drug suspension. But he will save your $10 million by not being here, and will get your either a bullpen arm or some minor leaguers. The Mets can use either of those.
Step Five: Trade Carlos Carasco
Where? Back to American League, of course. Carasco has his entire career success in the AL. Send him back. Carasco had a nightmare year last year. He was trash. He was often injured. He threw batting practice to open games. And as previously noted, it’s bad to trade guys coming off of underaverage years. It’s worse to do so for career worst years.
But Carasco should be able to slot in as a starter for a team, which has some value. In the AL, he has a reputation. He has a contract in the last year of a deal, making not crazy money for a starting pitcher at $12 million. He does have an option after that at $14 million with a $3 million buyout, so if he’s good? It solves a two year issue for a team. And if he’s bad? Flush the turn for 20 percent of his contract.
Step Six: Sign Freddie Freeman
This makes Pete Alonso your backup first baseman and your DH. This improves the team in the lineup and in the field. Freeman is a former MVP. He’s a potential hall of fame player. Freeman is going to turn 32 next year, but put up numbers very similar to his career averages last season- he hit 300 with 31 home runs last season with a .393 on base and scored 120 runs.
As the Mets did with their interdivision rival Washington Nationals (and also on some level the Dodgers) with Max Scherzer, make Freeman an offer that is so massive that he can’t say no. 4 years, $140 million. The guy is a gold glover, silver slugger, all star, MVP, and world series champ. That kind of stuff will absolutely help change a culture. And when the deal is up? Pete Alonso will be 30, and not too worn down, so he can either go back to first or share in a position. Also, by sharing first with Alonso, Freeman will be better preserved as he ages.
And did I mention how this damages the Mets archrival, the Atlanta Braves? As a part owner of the Braves, I may not like this concept, but as a Mets fan? I love it!
Step Seven: Sign Seiya Suzuki
This one is a total no brainer on so many levels. First off, have you ever been to Citi Field? It you come from the east, you pass a million Asians along the way. And no, that’s not a joke. There’s a Chinatown in Flushing. Look it up. Northern Boulevard has more signs in foreign languages than in English, and almost all of those signs are Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. Why would the Mets from this day forward NOT have an Asian player on the team to draw a crowd? Did you see the reactions to Lindor and Baez among the many Puerto Rican Mets fans? It’s a great way to draw for a team that finished in the bottom third of attendance last year. Remember Linsanity? It’s time for Seiya Later!
Oh, by the way, in 2021 the 27 year old Suzuki hit .317 with 26 doubles, 38 home runs, 88 RBI, and an on base percentage of .433 thanks to his 88 walks. While he did strike out 89 times, on the Mets? That’s the team low. The three “starters” on the Mets are NOT going to play a full season. Mark Canha played in 141 games last year. Starling Marte was in 120 lineup cards last year. Brandon Nimmo showed up for 92 games. That’s 133 games they would be missing in a full season. That’s enough to make Suzuki a starter and to reduce workloads on everyone else so maybe they last a little longer.
Besides, Nimmo just hired Scott Boras as his agent. If Boras asks for insane compensation and forces free agency, which he is famous for, the Mets already have a replacement with similar on base stats and more power. Suzuki is expected to be paid somewhere in the $12 million range. Boras doesn’t look at anything under $20 million for a player. Not that the Mets have to penny pinch anymore, but having a player that’s 2 years younger and with more offensive diversity that plays both outfield corners is a pretty good backup plan.
Oh, Kris Bryant? Fuck off. He’s entered the declining part of his career. He’ll have a good year in 2024 after a declising 2022 and 2023, then fall off the planet in 2025. You read it here first.
Step Eight: Keep Jeff McNeil as Supersub
The Mets want to trade McNeil. This is a bad idea for a few reasons. One is that McNeil had a down year by his standards. It’s not the best idea to trade a guy in a down year. Also, I get the feeling that if he left the Mets, McNeil would pull a Danny Murphy and compete for a batting title. If you have an absolute hard on for trading McNeil because he has a scuffle with the forever contracted Francisco Lindor, maybe you wait to see if he turns it around and make him a deadline deal piece for something bigger. And if he still hits .250, you trade him for the same haul that you’d get now. Also, lets not forget that McNeil can play second, third, left field, right field, and DH. Because he’s done that in his career. He’s probably fly the team plane as well, if he could get his hands on it. Having a multipositional guy lets you use roster assets in areas like the bullpen, where the Mets need love.
Step 9: Promote Brett Baty or Ronny Mauricio
the Mets need to start promoting youth this season. Mauricio is younger, but looks to be a better hitter. Francisco Alvarez should be on this team in 2023 to back up James McCann, and to take over the starting job by the last year of McCann’s deal in 2024. Mets can use one of those guys to rotate into the DH role as well. Adding youth helps mitigate the monster contracts that the Mets currently need to pay to attract talent, and puts a brutal lineup around them to protect them.
Step Ten: Sign the 2 Best Relievers on the Market
That’s subjective as to what GM Billy Eppler is looking for, but I would start with Colin McHugh because that’s a feel good story to reunite with a former Met. I’d also look at Kenley Jansen, due to this postseason experience, performance, and availability.
Step Eleven: Sign Clayton Kershaw
The Mets are absolutely in win now mode. It is what it is. So since that’s reality, the Mets need to sign the best available starter on the market. Right now that’s lefty Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw. Yes he is 33, which is…not ancient at all. Kershaw made $31 million last season. I think Cohen has shown the willingness to spend more than that on a player. You have to make the offer. $40 million dollars is the neighborhood you need to be in. If the Dodgers exceed it? Great. They aren’t willing to spend endlessly, so every extra dollar from their budget prevents them from making other power moves. To be interesting, I may look into signing Zack Greinke because he’d be a blast playing in New York, as he is a weird dude. Adding both may be the best option, as suddenly you have a rotation of DeGrom, Scherzer, Kershaw, Walker, and Greinke. Kershaw as a 3. Yikes.
But what of the Mets pitchers from last year? Yamamoto, Peterson and McGill all have options to head to the minors, which isn’t the worst thing for any of them. To be honest, I’m not sure Yamamoto even has a contract, or if he deserves one. Joey Lucchesi is here until 2025, so that’s a keeper as a long man/ spot starter if and when he gets healthy. McGill has a lot of potential, and that potential would be best served in learning the league protected by multiple Hall of Fame pitchers. They may even teach him a thing or two about pitching, and he may come in and blow guys away for 2-3 innings to hand a game over to a closer.
Step Twelve: Then what?
So, there’s the short term and long term plan for the Mets. Win now, unload players now to restock the minors, move some decent players for immediate decent bullpen help, and spend more money to make it so. Let us not forget, the Mets get rewarded for botching the 2021 draft by a compensatory first round pick. They will get extra picks for the Angels signing Noah Syndergaard and whomever signs Michael Coforto to hit .270. In short, the Mets will have 6 picks in the top 100 in this upcoming draft. That’s a good way to reload your system now, and also move some of those picks into the future so that your bonus pool is better spread out.
Step Thirteen: Be a Fan, Asshole
If the Mets payroll is $400 million, to quote the hilarious departed Otto and George, “Who gives a shit?” Mets fans already pay a ton of money to see the team. Adding $3 a ticket to see a 100 win All-Star team? That could possibly win a World Series? When is the last time the Mets could say they could possibly win the World Series? 1986, to be exact. So what fan says no to the extra bucks? For a winning team? Nobody, except negative, griping assholes that you can never make happy. At this point, all the Mets have to do is win. They have an owner that wants to win and can afford to spoil the team and the fanbase. So why not put them in the best position to do so, instead of more of the same half assing?
How to sum up the final game for the Cowboys season……..frustration is not enough. Sadness, disappointment maybe, but it was absolutely frustrating. The Dallas Cowboys threw away their season on an awful final play in Arlington on Sunday, losing to the San Francisco 49ers 23-17. Talking about the final play Dallas should not have needed the final play to win the game as throughout the season they have averaged 32 points per game and over 400 yards per game, this should have been a comfortable win, especially seeing that Jimmy G did sod all in the game.
First point; penalties. 14 PENALTIES?!? I spoke about this being a problem for the Cowboys, the indiscipline of the team. Randy Gregory and Connor Williams seem to get penalised for holding or false start penalties twice every game and it annoys me. I counted eight penalties that either gave the Niners a 1st down or took one from Dallas. In the first half, the Niners ran the ball about twice down the field, and the other yards were covered by penalties. It is stupid, it is indiscipline, and it is downright lazy. What the Cowboys do is rely on their talented defensive playmakers to win the game for them (Micah Parsons/Trevon Diggs) and when that doesn’t work then they are in real trouble.
(Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News)
Well, I gotta say that the performance of one $120 million quarterback proved my point that he is overpaid and overrated. How can you play a home playoff game and finish with a QBR of 27??? That’s atrocious, it is ridiculous, but it is the true Dak Prescott. I mean he turned up in the 4th quarter as usual, but the game’s gone. Why now? Where were you the previous three quarters? Throwing picks, overthrowing targets, not targeting CeeDee at all because Cooper wanted to say “oh I’m not being targeted enough” man up! You aren’t targeted because you aren’t performing, simple!
Over $100 million was placed on him and now I want him as far from Texas as possible. Send him to the Jets or the Jags because he has become useless. Zeke has not been Zeke all season and last night the most memorable moment was when he took out two guys to protect Prescott in the pocket. After the game on Cowboys OT, he mentioned he played with a torn PCL which may explain a bit but not all. Tony Pollard who is young, playoff debut, even returning from Covid-19, but he was starved. T.P had about 5 carries in the game and all were between four to nine yards, but the ground game wasn’t chosen. I’m not even gonna talk about Cedric Wilson’s crucial drop on 4th & 11 because he was only in the game because Michael Gallup is out for a few months.
As owner, CEO, and General Manager Jerry Jones said after the game to the media “when you have a team like this you expect success.” Expect a busy offseason from the ‘boys in the coaching staff with the futures of offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore and Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn uncertain as both are up for Head Coaching jobs for next season. You can expect moves on the roster as well because you don’t get paid that much to play that bad, this is not Barcelona.
(FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM)
Randy Gregory is a brilliant player but a costly player. Amari Cooper can be a top-five receiver on his day, but those days are too far apart, Dak Prescott, for me, was never a top 10 QB in the league. Demarcus Lawrence was paid $100 million for a 10+ sack season, and ever since he has barely made it half that. The team needs a shake-up, a cultural reboot, and this is the offseason to do this.
To compete with the likes of Tampa Bay, Green Bay, Arizona on the NFC, and Kansas City, Buffalo, and Cincinnati on the AFC, you need a strong coaching staff, a defensive lineman who puts the fear of God in opponents, receivers who show up in any condition, and a QB that doesn’t leave it late every time. Quinnen Williams is an interior defender that would massively upgrade that Cowboys defense.
Back to my earlier point, trading Cooper to the Jets for Williams should be a no-brainer especially since New York wants to build a team around their QB, Zach Wilson. Williams brings a quickness that Neville Gallimore lacks, and awareness with his six sacks last season, second compared to only Micah Parsons (13). The 24-year-old is inexperienced, yes, but if the Cowboys can keep Dan Quinn, this boy would be an absolute beast.
The list of Quarterbacks is long this offseason with many out of contract or wanting to move from their current organization, so there are options. Torn between two options to lead the offense next season; either Russell Wilson or re-unite Mike McCarthy with the man who brought him to the promised land: Aaron Rodgers. Wilson I believe has 1-2 good years left in him and he would think he has a lot to prove after his finger injury earlier in the season, which led to his poor run of form.
Rodgers expressed his desire to leave the Packers for the last couple of years and putting him in America’s team would be a fairy-tale ending to a star-studded career. The reigning MVP is lights out, aging like fine wine and would revolutionize the team for the better. Think about it, if you are Aaron do you continue to be in an offense with Davante Adams as your only target, or do you go to Jerry world, be the face of the franchise, and have CeeDee Lamb, a fit Michael Gallup, and even a 3rd receiver of his choice, Allen Robinson comes to mind.
Finally not to say you bring these players in then the Super Bowl is wrapped and the season should be canceled already, who is to say McCarthy is the man to lead them to that prestige? A head coach the Cowboys could be looking at is Brian Flores, but that won’t be a Super Bowl push. The ideal coaching option is the best African-American coach in the league, Mike Tomlin. After that coaching debacle when you call a QB draw with no timeouts, 14 seconds left, the writing was on the wall for McCarthy.
With Ben Rothlisberger retiring and rumors of the GM doing the same, it does not make sense for Tomlin to return either. Leading the team with the largest fanbase in the league, and Tomlin is a man who welcomes pressure, might as well sit back and relax because the proper Mike is in charge. A coach that can manage a game, has great play designs and execution, yes, please!
The dynasty above was the 1997/98 season of the NBA season, Chicago Bulls undoubtedly had the best starting five including Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen, and the great Michael Jordan. Fast forward 22 years and the Bulls are looking like a team that may finally after all this time to make a playoff run. With the offseason additions of DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic, and Lonzo Ball to team up with Zach LaVine, some people wrote them off as just “names.” I wonder how they feel now.
The Bulls are the best team in the Eastern Conference (by record) with a 1.5 game lead on second-placed Brooklyn, and 2.5 over the defending champion Bucks. Led by a scorer like DeRozan with 26.9 points per game, a glass bully like Vooch with 11.6 rebounds per game, Ball who shoots 41% from 3 point range, Alex Caruso who leads the league in steals per game (2.0), and monster Zach LaVine who would dunk on his mama if she’s in the lane shooting nearly 50% from the field, Chicago could see more than four games in the playoffs this season.
DeRozan was a trade that people frowned upon but he has shut up all his haters this season. The 6-foot-6 forward has been a revelation since arriving in Illinois with his MVP caliber performances, yes I said M-V-P. Performances when it matters and consistency is what puts him in this conversation. I mean yeah he is probably behind LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Trae Young, and Ja Morant, but he has been a breath of fresh air for the Bulls fans.
Chicago tried to recreate the playoff pushing team when they assembled a roster including the likes of Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, and Jimmy Butler in 2013 but was unsuccessful in making a real charge, whether it was poor shooting or Rose’s knees, it was never enough.
Now is the time they can take advantage of. Having a consistent scorer like DeRozan, and an all-around player like LaVine, a playmaker like Lonzo, sticky hands like Caruso, and a big like Vooch and the tutelage of Billy Donovan, I don’t see why they cannot go to the Conference Finals.
If the season was to end today, the playoff picture would suit the Bulls so well. As number 1 they would play the winner of the play-in tournament game between the number 9 (Wizards) and number 10 (Knicks) team. This makes it favourable because say the Bulls breeze the first round, one of Miami or Philadelphia would not be in the 2nd round. Yes they have a chance of meeting Giannis in the second round, but it is a game of four quarters and seven games; anything can happen.
If Chicago was to have a Cinderella run like the Phoenix Suns unexpectedly did last season, it would cause an uproar especially in Oklahoma City where Donovan was for the past decade and was unable to win with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden. We still have a long way to go, the Eastern Conference is up in the air so a prediction would not be ideal at this moment, but if DeRozan balls like the rap songs suggest he can then things are gonna get scary, but not for them.