When talking about the NFL, the topic is either who’s the best team or who will win the Super Bowl. However, when talking about each team in particular divisions, everyone knows that the NFC West is the most challenging division in the NFL.
It’s crazy that all the NFC West teams have made it to the Super Bowl at least once in the past decade. For example, the Seattle Seahawks and the Los Angeles Rams made it to three Super Bowls; the San Francisco 49ers made it to two, and the Arizona Cardinals made it to one. In addition, just two years ago, the 49ers were the last team in the west to make the championship game.
With these numbers, the NFC West alone has the most Super Bowl appearances in the NFC conference.
NFC East: 5
Football team: 0
NFC South: 4
NFC North: 2
NFC West: 9
Speeding up to the upcoming 2021-2022 NFL season, once again, the NFC west poses as the most challenging division. Why, you may ask? Well, because along with the addition of Matthew Stafford, the Rams still have a top 3 defense, the49ers are healthy again, the Cardinals have their pieces together, and the Seahawks have Russell Wilson as their quarterback.
Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) celebrates with his teammates after hitting a big 3-pointer late in the second half against the Celtics on May 7, 2021, at the United Center. (Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune)
With the NBA offseason in full effect and the rookies displaying their talents in the summer league, It’s hard deciding who’s going to have a breakout season. Here are my picks for who I think will break out this NBA season.
1. At number one is the Chicago Bulls, kind of a weird spot, but with this new roster, they will have better performances and a better record this season. With the addition of Lonzo Ball, Demar Derozan, and Alex Caruso, I see them winning more than 30 games this coming up season. Not to mention Zach Lavine (27.4 ppg), Coby White (15.1 ppg), and Nikola Vucevic (21.5 ppg) coming off a good season. They should be able to get over the slump and make it into the play-in tournament this year or even achieve the eighth seed.
2. At number 2, the Huston Rockets recorded their worst record since 1998; the Rockets last season went 17-55. They obtained the 2nd pick with that record, which resulted in Jalen Green, who spent a year in the G League averaging an outstanding 30 points per game, five rebounds, seven assists, and three steals. In his Summer League debut, Green completely outshined the number one pick, Cade Cunningham, scoring 23 points to Cunningham’s 12. Huston is in good hands with John Wall, Christian Wood, and Josh Christopher on the court.
Houston Rockets’ Jalen Green (0) drives to the basket under pressure from Detroit Pistons’ Cade Cunningham (2) during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Chase Stevens)AP
3. Next up is Cade Cunningham; with all eyes on him, the young piston’s star is making a name for himself in this year’s summer league. The #1 pick in his last played game scored 24 points with an outstanding 7-10 shooting from the three. With given time, Cunningham will emerge to be a top point guard in the league.
Detroit Pistons’ Cade Cunningham celebrates a 3-point shot against the Houston Rockets during the first half of an NBA summer league basketball game Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Chase Stevens)AP
Big Changes Are Coming to one of WWE’s Hit Shows NXT. NXT Started way back in february of 2010. It’s been home to many of the greatest stars of the ring today including the first NXT Champion Seth Rollins, The Prince Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, and The Women’s Evolution which gave Women a chance to prove themselves on equal level as the men when it comes to wrestling. NXT has showcased many great pay per views over the years including NXT Takeover San Antonito, NXT TakeOver New York, and NXT TakeOver WarGames. Now the Landscape of the black and gold brand as we know it may change due to the twelve released NXT Names. WWE wants to bring younger and larger talent and more releases are expected to be on the way and it has USA Network Officials worried and upset about the changes.The Sad reality of wrestling for WWE is that it is all about the money and product and how they can grow from it. Never about the level of hardworking talent who have worked years and years to get to this point in their professional wrestling careers. It is why we are seeing these releases so much in 2021. Wrestling fans could be seeing the end of what was once known as a place to make a name for upcoming wrestlers and bringing in talent from all over the world. That is what made these Takeovers and NXT shows Big for what it was. Vince McMahon may have put the final nail in the coffin of NXT and with the changes comes a new logo, new production, new stage and the scary thought of a new commentary team. We at Off the Mat will keep you all updated as more information comes our way.
On the week of July 16th, the trade rumors of the Portland Trailblazers point guard, Damian Lillard caused chaos all over social media. Although he denied it, reporters and writers still speculate that the all-star wants out of Portland.
With the recent performance of the team, Lillard himself even came out and said that this current Trailblazers team isn’t a championship-caliber team. In a quote tweeted out by an NBA reporter from Bleacher Report, Sean Highkin, Lillard said, “I don’t disagree that maybe Chauncey can change our team and make us a better team. But I think if you look at our team as it is, I don’t see how you say ‘this is a championship team, we just need a new coach.”
As a 42-30 win team (sixth seed in the west), the Blazers should consider rebuilding since they’ve been a mediocre team in the playoffs. If we’re being honest as well, without Dame the Trailblazers would easily be a bottom eight seed in the west. Dame is their whole team but at this point, the Blazers are wasting his prime.
Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images
Say the Trailblazer’s front office consider rebuilding their first move should be trading Dame and then eventually moving CJ McCollum.
Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images
Possible trade packages and contenders for this trade is the Golden State Warriors. Although the cap space might be tight, Dame to the warriors might be the best possible outcome for both sides.
For the Warriors package, it can possibly be Andrew Wiggins, Kelly Oubre, and the 7th and 14th pick. Or even Wiggins, Wiseman, and the 7th pick. However the second option isn’t the best but it benefits the Trailblazers giving them an sg/sf and solid 5 that can get advice and guidance from the current Trailblazers center, Jusef Nurkic. Not to mention they can move CJ to point guard or even start Anfernee Simons. But the first option is best for the Warriors because then the starting lineup can be Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and James Wiseman.
The sprint factory of the world has done it again! The little Caribbean island of Jamaica made a clean sweep of the medals at the Tokyo Olympics after Elaine Thompson-Herah, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and Shericka Jackson got the gold, silver, and bronze respectively in the 100-meter event on Saturday. Thompson-Herah won in a personal best, a national record, and an Olympic Record of 10.61 seconds, lowering the mark set by American Florence Griffith-Joyner of 10.62. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the most decorated female sprinter of history, secured the silver medal in 10.74 seconds with 2019 400 meter bronze medalist Shericka Jackson copping bronze in 10.76 seconds.
A clean sweep of the medals in any race is unprecedented at any level, and to do it at the pinnacle of athletics is special, but haven’t we seen this before? Beijing, 2008, the Jamaican women did it then as Kerron Stewart (10.98), Sherone Simpson (10.98), and the aforementioned Fraser-Pryce, then Fraser (10.78) led the way in the event 13 years ago. It was a fantastic moment as it was actually 1-2-2 because Simpson and Stewart could not be separated by time.
Seeing how brilliant female sprinting has been for Jamaica, it would be criminal to not remind everyone of London 2012 when Warren Weir (19.84 seconds) in 3rd, Yohan Blake (19.44 seconds) in 2nd, and the outstanding Usain Bolt (19.32 seconds) took the clean sweep of the 200-meter event. I still remember that day when there was a viewing party at Half Way Tree square in the capital of St.Andrew and while the spectators were celebrating a man took the mic and said “Half Way Tree was the place to be to see the history of 1-2-3.”
Telegraph (from left: Warren Weir, Usain Bolt, and Yohan Blake)
Congratulations again to Thompson-Herah for defending her Olympic title from 2016, to Fraser-Pryce to show that age is just a number, and to Shericka Jackson for her courageous step from the mile event to the sprints, and Happy “Emanci-pendence” (Emancipation and Independence) to Jamaicans everywhere around the globe.
I feel like Peter Jackson. Not because I’m fat and furry, but because I’m telling a story that suddenly has grown into at least 3 parts, and is going to be more likely six parts regarding the Islanders off season in 2021.
How did I do? I mean, some writers suggest or say or infer ideas or rumors. I predicted EXACT EVENTS. My Islanders foil Kool Aid Rob critiqued me saying that if I was so smart, why wasn’t I an NHL GM, and my family should be disappointed in my not raking in NHL GM dough. Based on Garth Snow, that dough is Cookie. But he’s probably right.
Why can a layperson see so many obvious things that a professional can not.
Now, when I say professional GM, understand that a professional GM is not exactly the same thing as a professional teacher or doctor. Those jobs have qualifications.
But hockey GM? Before he had the New York Islanders playing “Smaht” and “Haard”, Jack Capuano was a hockey GM. So how hard can it be?
But I digress. The gist of the article was that the Islanders needed to do more than just add one new player.
I suggested Vladimir Tarasenko at forward, Zdeno Chara to replace Andy Greene, and to promote the most deserving AHL player at 6th defenseman to be budget conscious.
So far I’m 67% exactly precise with the moves Lou Lamoriello has made. But I think there’s a better ending to my predictive ability and actual NHL Hall of Fame GM foresight. And it’s right in the face to be snatched up.
Don’t get me wrong, Tarasenko is still a possibility. It’s just that the bait to get him has changed. The bait however will still be by trade. Unfortunately, Islander fans have two ideas in mind about what a trade means. Anything on the Islanders roster has no trade value. Also, anything on the Isles roster is invaluable. Example?
“Who would want Leddy? He sucks. We’d have to include 4 1sts to move him.”
Reality? Contract moved to the EXACT TEAM I predicted, and the return was a 2nd and a player with Detroit retaining half the salary.
#IslesKoolAid the usual zero, #IslesRealists for the win.
“Ladd is untradeable.”
Reality? Ladd moved for 2 draft picks going the other way, which is very fair.
“Bailey unprotected? We’re fucked.”
Reality? No GM in the NHL WANTS Bailey. Not without inducements to take the zilch preventing the Islanders from winning a Stanley Cup. So technically, #IslesKoolAid is right on this one. We are fucked, because Seattle didn’t pick Bailey and the Isles are still stuck with him.
“Komorov is untradeable.”
Realty? You’re going to be wrong on that call, too.
As per my thesis in this piece, the Islanders can not take a step forward without a better infusion of new blood. By new I don’t mean teenagers. By new I mean guys who did not get to the highest stage of their career and fail. Parise is baby steps toward that. Tarasenko – a cup winner – would help that. Dunn – a cup winner – would help that.
Wait, did you say Vince Dunn?
Whereas I predicted the Isles reuniting with Chara, my mistake was Lou’s ties to the New Jersey Devils. Hello, Palmieri and Parise? Greene is done, but Lou is looking to fulfill something on a personal level that most people have no understanding of. It’s called loyalty. Old school. Respect.
But I did predict Tarasenko. And I’m feeling Dunn would be something interesting. But why would the Seattle Kracken trade Dunn?
Well, anyone watching Seattle’s expansion draft would be underwhelmed. Seattle needs contracts to reach the league floor. And Dunn is a restricted free agent. Dunn can hold a new team hostage for an overpriced contract. So what would help everyone?
Trade Josh Bailey to Seattle for Dunn.
Seattle benefits. Bailey and Eberle can combine to form….something. Maybe Seattle can become the best #IslesKoolAid first line in the NHL, and Bailey will prove how amazing he is. My guess is about as amazing as arena food Seattle gets contract security. They acquire a “top 6” forward for a defenseman that may bend them over. Seattle hits the cap floor. Joy! Just…don’t hold your breath waiting.
And the Islanders? They wrap up the defensive acquisitions that they need to and waylay a rookie from joining the league for one more season.
And Tarasenko? After the St. Louis Blues management trash talked VT, they ruined his asking price. So if I’m the Islanders? My offer is salary offset and a 1st. So see ya Komarov, Hickey, and a 1st. Next years first will be 32rd anyway, as with the removal of Bailey from the top 6? The Islanders become instant Stanley Cup favorites.
But Tarasenko has a messed up shoulder! He can break? True. 100% true. So what to do?
Make the trades. If Tarasenko does go down with an injury? You have $7.5 million to replace him. For this season and probably next season, if the team is smart. You know what you can acquire for $7.5 million?
Here’s an example: Patrik Laine. He just signed a 1 year deal with Columbus, which has a history of losing trades for good players. A pick and a prospect gets that deal done. Also, anyone else that has a cap hit under $7.5 million and is productive. That’s a long list.
And you want to know what else? The Islanders with Komorov, Hickey, and Bailey gone can roll 4 productive lines. Looking back at the Tampa Bay elimination series, what line could you call effective? The first one? 2 goal scorers on line 1 is not effective. The second line? One goal each is not effective. Did Tampa’s second line only score 3 goals in 7 games? Isles third line? No goals whatsoever? Ouch. Isles 4th line? They don’t score, they break balls. And they did…although there was zero significant, momentum changing hits from that entire line over 7 games. But at this point, they are the identity line. Sadly, our identity is almost aggressive enough hits, and low scoring.
You may say, why do you want to unload Bailey? In the playoffs, his game always steps up. Statistically, that is true. So let’s do a fast review of Bailey’s “stepping up:”
First two playoff series ever? Isles lose. Losing isn’t stepping up.
Then Florida? Thomas Greiss and Fuckface Scumbag puts the team on their back. Isles win, then promptly get destroyed by Tampa Bay. Amazing that Tampa Bay has been competitive since 2016. We have 2 competitive years out of 20 and we want to retire 24 jersey numbers.
The most recenf ECF against the Lightning? What did Bailey produce? What, he had 20 points in the playoffs? How many came in the Eastern Conference Finals?
Reality says, when the going gets tough, Bailey is wet toilet paper. Smears shit all over himself, does nothing for his team. Ask Yanni Gourde, who was assited on his game winning short handed goal by I Josh you not Bailey. #Elite.
If assists to opponents counted, Bailey would be the next Wayne Gretzky.
Also…that’s it. Baileys first decade in the NHL was 4 playoff series, 3 losses, 1 miracle. What changed since then? Bailey? Or the coaching staff?
It is insane to think that Bailey is the catalyst.
To wrap this mini reality lesson up., Bailey is absolutely replaceable, and is overdue to be replaced. Look at hockey reference for his modern counterparts, production wise. Most of those guys were on 4 or more teams, because they produced as much as Bailey, which means they were unimportant.
The Islanders are a team that is built for the playoffs. They are the second best playoff team of the last 2 seasons. The issue is that those seasons were shortened.
So if the Islanders roll the same team in a shorter season, when that late season decline starts, the team can in reality fall out of playoff position. And a playoff team that doesn’t make the playoffs is kind of like when a tree falls in a forest and nobody is there to see that tree fuck up.
In short, the Islanders made one significant change. On the third line. The need a significant first line change, and a significant top 4 defense change. And could make a cap saving statement in goal, but I don’t think Lou or Barry Trotz trusts Ilya Sorokin that much yet. Thus, they have no free salary cap money to sign free agents. Personally, if we are not promoting young talent, I would like Sami Vatanen and Vince Dunn to fill out the defense at the expense of Greene at Bridgeport, but cap space is cap space.
But here is what I do know. With the offseason moves of Tampa Bay acquiring Brent Seabrook’s dead contract? They have the funds to reload the bottom six that left, and they have locked up Brayden Point for the productive part of his career.
Some people think that Bailey should retire with the Islanders as a career player. If Bailey was a true Islander? He would gladly leave the team so that they could win a Stanley Cup two, and then sign a one day contract at the end of his disilustrious career to truly become an Islanders legend.
You telling me that’s an improvement? If so, I have a bag of dogshit you may be interested in acquiring. For cash.
The Islanders went from losing in 6 to Tampa to losing to 7 in Tampa. Trotz went from being run over by Hedman, Kucherov, Pointe, and Vasilevski to just being destroyed by Pointe and Vasilevski.
Tarasenko and Dunn for Bailey, Hickey, Komarov, and a draft pick. Less than that? Next season is going to be more of the same.