NFL MVP contenders

2016 NFL MVP Predictions

Cam Newton won the 2015 NFL MVP and helped to drive his Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl, only to find himself and the Panthers outclassed by the Denver Broncos. While the Panthers record of 15 and 1 was impressive, in the Super Bowl Cam only passed for 265 yards and one interception and the Panthers were overwhelmed by the pass rush of the Broncos.

All this goes to show that the NFL is a team league more than one of individual performance and it is essential for a team to gel and to be cohesive rather than to rely on one star. Still, despite this, there will always be intrigue for which player will win sufficient respect to be considered the most valuable player each year.

The odds typically say that a player from a top team has the best chance to win the award.  Boyds Bets has the Packers, Panthers, and Patriots as top contenders so it’s no surprise the favorites are Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady.  I can easily see why Vegas thinks that way.  Here’s why.

Overall

The most likely candidate for a MVP in the NFL is of course a quarterback. Quarterbacks will touch the ball more than any other player in the game and therefore have the highest potential to have the most significant on the field. If you compare that to a running back, who touches the ball only a fraction of the time the odds will clearly be in favor of a quarterback. Teams can often game plan around a dominant defensive star and can thrown double teams in his direction or throw to another part of the field. However, a quarterback is hard to subvert and it is for this reason that most MVPs are quarterbacks.

Leading Quarterback Options

Peyton Manning was the winning quarterback of the Superbowl but his skills had long diminished despite his victory. Either way, Manning is now retired and there are only a few quarterbacks who seem capable of winning the MVP.

Cam Newton has a chance of repeating as MVP if his team can have the same type of year after a Superbowl loss. Teams that lose the Superbowl often falter the next yeas as well so it isn’t likely to see them do well again, which doesn’t bode well for Cam. Having said that Cam is still on the upside of his career and if he can continue to develop he can truly repeat as MVP.

One quarterback that you never can ignore is Tomy Brady. Tom Brady is almost as old as Peyton Manning was when he retired last year but unlike Manning, Brady has shown no signs of his age putting together magnificent season after season. Brady won the Superbowl in 2014 and the Patriots remain a perennial contender each and every year.

While there aren’t other quarterbacks that warrant individual mention there are a number of quarterbacks who can get there if they put together solid years. Andrew Luck, with an offensive line finally in place can realize his true potential as a quarterback. Eli Manning can further flourish under the west coast offsense and Odell Beckham and go on a real run with the Giants for an MVP. Or Aaron Rodgers can bounce back from a challenging 2015 to put together another great year.

Other Positions

There are other players outside of the quarterback position who can also shine and earn an MVP. On the defensive side of the ball Von Miller certainly looked like an MVP in the Superbowl and can earn the big contract that he has been lobbying for. JJ Watt has been a dominant defensive end for ages now and can truly receive the MVP that he has previously earned.

Alternatively a wide receiver like Odell Beckham or AJ Green can stand up and seize the MVP with a dominant performance. To do so they would likely need to get close to 20 touchdowns and 1,500 receiving odds which may be a stretch.

Conclusion

In 2016 expect a quarterback to win the MVP again. While Cam, Aaron Rodgers, or Brady can all take the prize, our bet is on Rodgers to have a bounce back year and seize the 2016 MVP award.

Trade Deadline

Best MLB Trade Deadline Targets

As we fast approach the All-Star game in Major League Baseball, it does also means that we are in approach of the trade deadline on August 1. Most teams will look to solidify their pitching, or their fielding core for a deep post-season run. Of course, others may have an aspiration of a late run at the Wild Card or perhaps just free up payroll before the off-season. Therefore, we will now look at players and teams looking to make those last minute deals before their rosters are locked for the remainder of the year.

The first and second men to watch for on the trading block are Will Smith and CC Sabathia. While Smith has missed the first two months of the season, he is sitting on a 2.70 ERA from last season and an average of 13 strikeouts per nine innings. This factor could make him a valuable asset to a team looking to fill gaps in a rotation. For the Yankees, who have had their share of rotational issues, may seek to trade and build a core of younger players, or free up room within the salary cap for off-season. Either way, CC Sabathia could see himself on the trading block, as the 35 year old, who has had a tough time lately, should be a valuable commodity on the trading block for any team. In both of these instances, I would see the Texas Rangers as the team of interest, as they will seek to fill gaps in their rotation moving in to the off-season.

For the Indians whose rotation seems to be playing well, however, World Series run may be problematic without an offense build up. In addition, for a team that has always watched the bottom line concerning payroll dollars does mean that Kole Calhoun may find himself on the block. Calhoun, who has had descent plate appearances, however, whose contract will be entering arbitration next season; for these reasons could find himself a vended commodity. Be prepared should Calhoun enter the trading block that the Los Angeles Dodger could be a team of interest. As the Dodgers are still trying to catch the Giants, and while that may not happen, a post-season match up may still, as the Dodgers are top of the Wild Card race.

Finally, another player to find his way to the trading block is Jonathan Lucroy of the Brewers. Lucroy has had descent plate appearances and a great performance at catcher. In addition, Lucroy has an attractive $5 million dollar contract that can up his overall value to a new team. A possible team of interest for Lucroy is the Houston Astros. The Astros are currently looking to be a Wild Card contender, and have a strong farm system of pitching. However, would be looking to solidify a youth core in other fielding positions to match the rotation.

Heisman Contenders

Heisman Contenders

The most coveted award in college football is the Heisman Trophy. The Heisman has been awarded to some of the most prolific and exciting college football players in history. Some of the winners have gone on to NFL stardom, and some have never seen their careers take off. This is who I believe will win the 2016 Heisman Trophy.

The Winner: Leonard Fournette – LSU

This is the running back that has all the tools necessary to become not only the Heisman trophy winner, but Rookie Of The Year in the NFL. He is one in a handful of collegiate running backs that can carry a football team.

In the 2015 season, Fournette had a November that wasn’t the greatest, in fact, a little questionable. But, the whole team had quite a bit to do with that. It is a team game, and, without the blocking necessary to get him to the next level on defense. Once he gets there, defenders better get a little help since he will run over the first one he sees.

The quarterback play for Fournette will be better and there will be plenty of talent on the field from the TE to WR position. That area of talent will open up the field for Fournette, and he will make the most of it. He will have a season that fans will always remember.

Runner’s up:

1. Deshaun Watson – Clemson

This is going to be a close race. I see it being neck-and-neck all season long. Watson is going to have a ton of offensive firepower back with him, especially at the skill positions. But, there is a small offensive line issue with many leaving to go to the NFL, so the skill players will have to produce.

On the defensive side of the ball, there are some problems. The D-line has lost many to the draft and that is on each level of defense. They are going to have to retool and be ready to keep the other defense from scoring. If they can’t, then Watson and crew will be on the field more than they want to but that may just pad Watson’s numbers.

2. Christian McCaffrey – Stanford

This guy broke all sorts of records, like the FBS single-season all-purpose yards record. That is a tough feat in college football. Even though I didn’t pick him to win the Heisman, he is going to be leaned on more this year since QB Kevin Hogan is gone.

Trying to repeat numbers from last year is going to be tough, especially when they lost four offensive lineman that opened huge holes for him to run through. But this guy is special, and he just might do it this year.

3. Dalvin Cook – Florida State

He is the most explosive running back in the country, but he is injury prone. He also finished 7th last year in the Heisman voting. But the best thing for Cook is he is going to have all the offensive line back this year to give him what could be a year to remember. And, since they have issues at quarterback, they will rely on Cook to lead them this year. Not a lock to win the Heisman, but darn close.

2016 MLB Surprises

Biggest Surprises and Disappointments for the 2016 MLB Season

This has been a great Major League Baseball season so far, with some pleasant surprises for teams like Cleveland and Miami. These two teams were projected to finish out of contention by most baseball pundits, but they have proved the predictors wrong so far. There is a half season remaining so a lot is going to happen, but the Cleveland Indians have just ended a fourteen game winning streak and people are starting to realize they are for real. They are currently leading the American League Central by six games and they look like a team of destiny. With the veteran leadership of players like Rajai Davis, who hit for the cycle recently, they just might be there at the end and continue the recent jubilation started by the Cavaliers in the city of Cleveland.

The Baltimore Orioles are not as much of a surprise, but the fact that they are fifteen games over five hundred at this point of the season is an accomplishment. They lead the American League East by four games with great pitching, timely hitting and solid defense. Pedro Alvarez has added some necessary power and seasoned professionals like Chris Davis and Manny Machado make the Orioles a probable contender in September.

In the National League, the Miami Marlins have managed to make themselves relevant in the strong National League East. With Washington and the Mets being the favorites in the division, Miami is challenging for a playoff spot. Giancarlo Stanton has become a star after surviving a near career ending injury when he was hit in the face with the baseball during a game against the Brewers in 2014. He has come back in amazing fashion and is leading the Marlins into the second half of the season.

The disappointments of the 2016 baseball season are teams that usually find themselves near the top of their divisions, but this year have fallen on difficult times. The Atlanta Braves have a rich baseball tradition with great players from the past like Hank Aaron and Chipper Jones. Pitching has always been their strength but so far this year that hasn’t been the case. The Braves are in last place in their division having won only twenty-eight games and are over twenty games out of first.

The Los Angeles Angels have to be considered a disappointment up to this point of the 2016 season. With a powerful roster including Albert Pujols and Mike Trout, many people are surprised at their mediocre record so far. They are eighteen and a half games out of first place in an impressive division that is going to be difficult to catch up to. But with imposing pitchers like 6’7″ Jered Weaver and veteran Huston Street, the Angels could put a good second half together and make some noise before it’s all said and done.

The Minnesota Twins are often one of the top teams in the American League, but this year they are mired in last place in their division. Joe Mauer and company have a long way to go to work themselves back into the picture, although it looks bleak for this year.

These are just a few of Major League Baseball’s biggest surprises and disappointments of the 2016 season. There’s still time for teams to improve, but the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians look to be the major contenders. It should be an exciting finish to this already entertaining 2016 Major League Baseball season.