SummerSlam 2019 Recap!

This week on…  MIKE on the MIC :

 

SummerSlam 2019!

 

Despite a lackluster build up to the show and a match card that left some scratching their heads, all in all SummerSlam turned out to be a really good PPV. The matches were action packed and kept the fans on the edge of their seats throughout the show. There were also a lot of “THIS IS AWESOME” and “ HOLY S@!T” chants during the show – something not heard a lot nowadays.

Fans saw the return of “The Rated R Superstar” Edge on the kickoff show, as he hit the ring, cutting off Elias’ performance. No words were spoken between the two; only a thunderous spear delivered by Edge to the gut of Elias. The crowd went absolutely nuts and a huge Edge chant broke out. This was one of the coolest moments of the night. Many fans, myself included, never thought we’d get to see Edge hit the spear again due to his neck and shoulder injuries (the very same that led to his in ring retirement). That had to have been an awesome moment for Edge himself. 

 

Another hometown Canadian hero made her return as well, the one and only Trish Stratus. She put on one hell of a match with Charlotte. In spite of her age and not having competed in several years, Trish definitely held her own and looked as good as ever. Unfortunately, Trish was not able to leave the match victorious, but she did a great job of putting Charlotte over. The proverbial “torch” has thus been passed.

 

The absolute coolest moment of the night was the in-ringdebut of “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. I have been waiting to see how the build with his character and the feud with Finn Balor was going to culminate. The Fiend persona is genius and ridiculously over with the fans right now. Bray’s entrance to the ring for the match was wicked cool, nothing short of electric. The music, the lighting, and Bray Wyatt’s face as the lantern was phenomenal; perfect for his new persona. He and Finn put on a much longer match than expected, but it was a great match. The mandible claw as his new finisher completes the look and style of the new persona, making him look very strong. With Finn taking some rumored time off following the PPV, it appears that the feud is over for now. Who will be the next target of The Fiend?

 

 

THAT’S ALL FOR THIS WEEK.. STAY TUNED FOR MORE!!

Advertisements

Will Dalvin Cook Finally Put it Together in the 2019-2020 NFL Season?

By:  Justin Holden

Dalvin Cook missed 12 games in his rookie season (2017-2018) due to a season ending ACL injury, which required reconstructive surgery.  Cook missed 5 games last season (2018-2019) due to a nagging hamstring strain injury.  So yeah, his injury history is looking like a red flag at this point in his career.  Cook also shows a lack of agility and burst based off of his workout metrics, however, this has not appeared to significantly impact his on-field efficiency and production.

I led with the negatives right out of the gate, but let me explain why the arrow appears to be pointing up on Dalvin Cook for the 2019-2020 season.  We should all know by now that running back is one of the most interdependent positions in football.  Pair a replacement level running back (CJ Anderson, Thomas Rawls, etc.) with an all-pro quarterback on a high-octane NFL offense, and he will have the capability to produce like a superstar in the short-term.  By contrast, put an amazingly talented running back on an NFL offense that has poor offensive line play and a third string quarterback starting, and watch how much his productivity/efficiency drops.

Fortunately, Dalvin Cook’s situation this upcoming season is way better than the latter part of that analogy.  Kirk Cousins may not be a perennial pro-bowler at the quarterback position, but he’s much better than most analysts and football fans give him credit for.  Cousins is a reliable pocket passer throwing to two of the league’s best wide receiver talents in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.  Having that trio of players on the offense helps tremendously in not allowing opposing defenses to consistently stack the box against the Minnesota Vikings’ run game.

There are three other situational factors for Dalvin Cook that are noteworthy.  First, the Vikings addressed offensive line play by selecting Garrett Bradbury in the first round of the NFL Draft.  Second, Gary Kubiak was hired by the Vikings in the offseason as Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Advisor.  While I’m not big on coach-centric analysis, Kubiak does have an undeniably strong track record of having highly productive 1st string running backs on the teams that he has coached.  Across a sample size of 22 NFL seasons where Kubiak has been head coach or offensive coordinator, Kubiak’s lead running backs have averaged over 1100 rushing yards and 10.5 touchdowns per season.  Third, Dalvin Cook has absolutely no competition behind him on the depth chart.  The next man up is Alexander Mattison, a replacement level back that the Vikings unwisely selected in the third round of the NFL draft.  Mattison is slow (4.67 40-yard dash time) and was ridiculously inefficient with his carries (4.7 ypc, 14th percentile) in a weak conference in college.  The Alexander Mattison fan boys can come out of the woodwork to give me crap for this take, but I’m telling you right now that Mattison is not capable of siphoning off any meaningful snaps from Cook, barring a severe injury to Cook.

Cook has the prospect profile of an all-purpose NFL running back.  Cook’s college dominator score, college yards per carry, and college target share are all above the 80th percentile for running backs.  Looking at Cook’s production at the NFL level, he was #2 in juke rate per touch and #8 in evaded tackles per game last season.  Cook is also well above average in terms of speed and strength, as evidenced by his 40-yard dash and bench press workout metrics.

So with Cook being in an NFL offense that is on the rise, with an exciting prospect profile and virtually no competition for touches, sky truly is the limit for Cook this upcoming season.  All he needs to do is stay healthy.  Cook’s ADP has him going in the second round of fantasy football drafts right now.  Despite the perceived injury risk, I’d be comfortable drafting Cook in the first round of a redraft fantasy football league.  There are very few players in the NFL that are truly “injury prone”.  The public once thought that Julio Jones was injury prone, and then he strung together five straight seasons of missing no more than two games.  I have no crystal ball, and injuries can happen to any player at any time, but Cook is healthy right now and that is what matters.  Don’t be scared to trust him as your RB1 in fantasy this year.

cook2

 

Fantasy Football Rankings 2019-2020: TE (Half PPR)

By:  Justin Holden

Lit Sports Online brings you fantasy football rankings for the 2019-2020 NFL season.  Today’s article covers tight end rankings in a half PPR scoring format.  Not only do we provide a ranked list of tight ends, but you will also see regular season stat projections for each player.  Then, a brief summary will be written on a few players that we see as significantly more valuable or less valuable versus their average draft position (ADP).  Without further ado, here are the rankings:

Rank Player Name Team Name Projected Stat Line
1 Travis Kelce Kansas City Chiefs 97 catches, 1250 yds, 9 TDs
2 O.J. Howard Tampa Bay Buccaneers 71 catches, 1070 yds, 9 TDs
3 George Kittle San Francisco 49ers 82 catches, 1100 yds, 5 TDs
4 Zach Ertz Philadelphia Eagles 85 catches, 1140 yds, 3 TDs
5 Vance McDonald Pittsburgh Steelers 72 catches, 960 yds, 4 TDs
6 Jared Cook New Orleans Saints 63 catches, 830 yds, 6 TDs
7 Hunter Henry Los Angeles Chargers 65 catches, 800 yds, 6 TDs
8 Evan Engram New York Giants 69 catches, 850 yds, 4 TDs
9 Chris Herndon New York Jets 62 catches, 810 yds, 5 TDs
10 Jordan Reed Washington Redskins 60 catches, 780 yds, 5 TDs
11 David Njoku Cleveland Browns 56 catches, 720 yds, 5 TDs
12 Jack Doyle Indianapolis Colts 54 catches, 660 yds, 5 TDs
13 Trey Burton Chicago Bears 53 catches, 630 yds, 4 TDs
14 Austin Hooper Atlanta Falcons 56 catches, 610 yds, 4 TDs
15 Kyle Rudolph Minnesota Vikings 54 catches, 590 yds, 4 TDs
16 Eric Ebron Indianapolis Colts 48 catches, 550 yds, 5 TDs
17 Delanie Walker Tennessee Titans 51 catches, 580 yds, 4 TDs
18 Greg Olsen Carolina Panthers 57 catches, 550 yds, 3 TDs
19 Jimmy Graham Green Bay Packers 50 catches, 510 yds, 4 TDs
20 Dallas Goedert Philadelphia Eagles 39 catches, 400 yds, 6 TDs
21 Mark Andrews Baltimore Ravens 44 catches, 490 yds, 4 TDs
22 Mike Gesicki Miami Dolphins 42 catches, 470 yds, 4 TDs
23 Noah Fant Denver Broncos 45 catches, 500 yds, 3 TDs
24 Tyler Eifert Cincinnati Bengals 40 catches, 400 yds, 4 TDs
25 Jason Witten Dallas Cowboys 49 catches, 440 yds, 2 TDs
26 T.J. Hockenson Detroit Lions 41 catches, 420 yds, 3 TDs
27 Gerald Everett Los Angeles Rams 37 catches, 390 yds, 3 TDs
28 Matt LaCosse New England Patriots 34 catches, 350 yds, 3 TDs
29 Ricky Seals-Jones Arizona Cardinals 30 catches, 320 yds, 2 TDs
30 Jesse James Detroit Lions 33 catches, 300 yds, 2 TDs
31 Jonnu Smith Tennessee Titans 26 catches, 290 yds, 2 TDs
32 Jordan Thomas Houston Texans 30 catches, 270 yds, 2 TDs
33 Luke Willson Oakland Raiders 29 catches, 270 yds, 2 TDs
34 Dawson Knox Buffalo Bills 30 catches, 250 yds, 2 TDs
35 Geoff Swaim Jacksonville Jaguars 29 catches, 260 yds, 1TD
36 Nick Vannett Seattle Seahawks 21 catches, 220 yds, 2 TDs
37 Hayden Hurst Baltimore Ravens 30 catches, 230 yds, 1 TD
38 Charles Clay Arizona Cardinals 20 catches, 200 yds, 1 TD
39 Jake Butt Denver Broncos 18 catches, 190 yds, 1 TD
40 Will Dissly Seattle Seahawks 19 catches, 180 yds, 1 TD

Dissenting Opinions:

O.J. Howard – ADP 4, our ranking is 2.

I have O.J. Howard penciled in as a safe, elite option at the tight end position.  Not only was O.J. Howard one of the most efficient tight ends last year and one of the leaders in air yards at the position, but he’s a young, complete tight end that is just starting to enter his prime.  We must also consider that Tampa Bay will have a poor defense and poor run game once again, which could lead to the Tampa Bay offense leading the league in pass attempts.  O.J. Howard will have to compete for targets with the likes of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, but at the end of the day, you can see from my projections that I’m predicting Howard to be a touchdown machine and make the most of every opportunity that comes his way.

Vance McDonald – ADP 10, our ranking is 5.

There is a significant difference between the value I see in Vance McDonald versus the value that the general mock drafting public sees in him.  While Vance McDonald has been pegged as a popular sleeper pick this season, I go further than that by straight up predicting him to finish as a top five tight end.  I don’t see McDonald scoring many touchdowns because of how run heavy this Pittsburgh Steelers offense will likely be in the red zone.  However, I do expect McDonald to smash with a healthy serving of catches and yards between the 20’s.  We must consider that Jesse James and Antonio Brown have both left town.  That’s a lot of vacated targets.  And I certainly don’t see them all going to Donte Moncrief or James Washington.

Chris Herndon – ADP 16, our ranking is 9.

It’s time to fade the public once again because they are straight up snoozin’ on Chris Herndon.  Herndon was a usable fantasy asset last year as a rookie, despite the fact he had limited targets to work with.  With Sam Darnold and the New York Jets offense on the rise, and Herndon now established as the unquestioned #1 tight end on the Jets’ depth chart, there’s no reason he shouldn’t exceed expectations this season.  Herndon is likely to be Sam Darnold’s favorite target in the passing game.  At this point, I believe that Herndon is significantly undervalued in both dynasty and seasonal leagues.

Jordan Reed – ADP 20, our ranking is 10.

Whether it be Duane Haskins or Case Keenum starting for the Washington Redskins this season, someone will have to be catching their passes.  News flash:  Jordan Reed is not dead yet.  There seems to be a narrative floating around that Jordan Reed is washed.  But the fact of the matter is, Reed is only 29 years old.  Tight ends can be productive far beyond age 29, especially if they have the athleticism that Reed does.  Reed has shown what he can do when healthy and in the starting lineup.  Is there risk in drafting Jordan Reed?  Absolutely.  His injury history remains a valid concern.  But if you’re in the final rounds of your draft and haven’t taken a tight end yet, it makes sense to take a flier on Reed.  He should produce admirably as long as he stays healthy, and that makes him a high upside selection when compared to other tight ends that are available in the final rounds of your fantasy draft.

Jack Doyle – ADP 22, our ranking is 12 / Eric Ebron – ADP 7, our ranking is 16

People must be thinking that Jack Doyle died after last season.  Granted, he only played 6 games due to injury, and finished last season with a poor stat line.  In Doyle’s absence, Eric Ebron smashed expectations en route to a 13 touchdown season.  In my view, both tight ends will be utilized this season in the Colts’ offense.  And given that Andrew Luck could have a career year, this makes Jack Doyle an incredible value where he is currently being selected in fantasy drafts.  Meanwhile, Ebron’s touchdown total from last year looks unrepeatable.  I expect Ebron to receive less targets this year and for his efficiency to drop.  Obviously, Ebron is still worth rostering in most leagues, but he should be going much later in drafts than he is.

Zach Ertz – ADP 2, our ranking is 4.

While I still expect Zach Ertz to have a top five finish this season, that is more of a testament to how low the bar is for tight end production compared to other positions.  I’m projecting Ertz to only score three touchdowns this season, as teammate Dallas Goedert is emerging as a clear red zone threat that is a lock to vulture touchdowns.  The Eagles will likely use their running backs in the red zone a lot as well.  Ertz remains a beast between the 20’s, but a projected reduction in catches and touchdowns compared to last season has him lower in our rankings for this season.

T.J. Hockenson – ADP 13, our ranking is 26.

Shiny new toy syndrome is on full display here with T.J. Hockenson’s ridiculous ADP.  I get that Hockenson is a complete tight end prospect and that the Lions’ offense will likely perform better this season.  But come on.  The dude is still a rookie.  Rookie tight ends almost never produce enough to be relied on as a fantasy starter, especially at the beginning of the season.  Drafting Hockenson as your starting tight end in a seasonal league is a mistake.  Let’s not forget that Jesse James is now in Detroit and will get his targets as well.  If you’re going to gamble on a rookie tight end this season, you’re better off taking a flier on Noah Fant, because he is a move tight end and Joe Flacco is notorious for targeting his tight ends.

Benjamin Watson – ADP 29, we have him unranked.

Benjamin Watson is on the New England Patriots now and will try to fill the shoes of retired Rob Gronkowski.  However, Watson will serve a four game suspension due to performance enhancing drug use.  With Austin Seferian-Jenkins cut from the team, Matt LaCosse is now the projected starter.  As of right now, LaCosse could be selected in the final round of your fantasy draft.  If you believe that Tom Brady won’t be able to avoid targeting his tight end heavily, then the recommendation is to draft LaCosse and pickup Watson off of waivers in the event that he eventually leapfrogs LaCosse on the depth chart.  The more likely scenario, however, is that Tom Brady heavily targets his slot receivers in all areas of the field.  Rookie wide receiver N’Keal Harry will likely emerge as a preferred target for Brady when passing into the end zone.

 

 

Fantasy Football Rankings 2019-2020: QB

By:  Justin Holden

1 Pat Mahomes Kansas City Chiefs
2 Andrew Luck Indianapolis Colts
3 Baker Mayfield Cleveland Browns
4 Russell Wilson Seattle Seahawks
5 Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers
6 Drew Brees New Orleans Saints
7 Deshaun Watson Houston Texans
8 Carson Wentz Philadelphia Eagles
9 Cam Newton Carolina Panthers
10 Matt Ryan Atlanta Falcons
11 Matthew Stafford Detroit Lions
12 Philip Rivers Los Angeles Chargers
13 Mitch Trubisky Chicago Bears
14 Dak Prescott Dallas Cowboys
15 Jameis Winston Tampa Bay Buccaneers
16 Lamar Jackson Baltimore Ravens
17 Tom Brady New England Patriots
18 Jared Goff Los Angeles Rams
19 Kirk Cousins Minnesota Vikings
20 Jimmy Garoppolo San Francisco 49ers
21 Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh Steelers
22 Derek Carr Oakland Raiders
23 Sam Darnold New York Jets
24 Kyler Murray Arizona Cardinals
25 Marcus Mariota Tennessee Titans
26 Josh Allen Buffalo Bills
27 Andy Dalton Cincinnati Bengals
28 Nick Foles Jacksonville Jaguars
29 Josh Rosen Miami Dolphins
30 Case Keenum Washington Redskins
31 Joe Flacco Denver Broncos
32 Eli Manning New York Giants

Key Differences – LSO Rankings vs Average Draft Position (ADP)

Baker Mayfield – Has an ADP of 5 but I have him ranked at 3.  With a season of NFL experience under his belt now, and an offense loaded with play makers such as the the newly acquired Odell Beckham Jr, I expect Mayfield to have a Pat Mahomes style breakout in his second season.  Ultimately I think AFC North defenses (minus the Bengals) will find a way to put a cap on Mayfield’s upside, preventing him from finishing as the #1 QB.  But he’s for damn sure going to get close.

Matthew Stafford – Has an ADP of 23 but I have him ranked at 11.  Stafford is coming off of a poor season where he threw just 21 passing touchdowns.  But ultimately, we are talking about a player who has finished as a top ten quarterback multiple times over the course of his career and more often than not returns value on his draft position.  Judging by Stafford’s current ADP, he will return value on his draft position in a big way.  Fundamentally, I do not see a huge difference between Stafford and similar pocket passers such as Ryan and Rivers.  This is why I have them all ranked similarly.  Expect a bounce back season for the Lions’ offense.

Mitch Trubisky – Has an ADP of 19 but I have him ranked at 13.  Trubisky missed two games last season and still finished as QB15.  Trubisky showed that he is capable of putting up monster games, like the one against Tampa Bay where he threw for six passing touchdowns.  Other than the loss of Jordan Howard, who underwhelmed last season, not much has changed for the Chicago Bears offense.  Barring injury, I see no reason why Trubisky’s production would take a dip compared to last season.

Ben Roethlisberger – Has an ADP of 13 but I have him ranked at 21.  Roethlisberger is coming off of a huge season, there’s no doubt about it.  Despite throwing double digit interceptions, his 31 passing TD’s and 5,000+ passing yards returned great value for his fantasy owners.  So why am I so low on Big Ben this year?  The loss of Antonio Brown will hurt.  And every indication right now is that the Pittsburgh Steelers will be going to a run heavy offense this season.  Roethlisberger is 37 and has taken a beating over his career due to his style of play.  He’s always an injury risk, and I’d be shocked if he didn’t retire by the end of this season.

Tom Brady – Has an ADP of 14 but I have him ranked at 17.  I believe I’m actually being generous with my Tom Brady ranking because I have seen other websites rank him as low as 20.  Let’s face it, Brady’s team won the super bowl last season, but they did it without him throwing a touchdown pass.  Tom Brady is the oldest starting quarterback in the league.  Rob Gronkowski retired in the offseason.  Brady did not finish as a top ten quarterback last season and I see no catalyst for him to do so this season.  While Brady seems determined to wage war with Father Time, I suggest you let someone else draft him, as he will probably go even higher than his current ADP as we get closer to the start of the season.

Kirk Cousins – Has an ADP of 12 but I have him ranked at 19.  As much as I’d like to move Cousins up in my rankings, I just can’t do it.  Yes, he has Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs at his disposal, and both are excellent receivers.  However, I just don’t see game script allowing Cousins to be a big time fantasy quarterback.  The Minnesota Vikings have a strong defense, and Dalvin Cook is going to get his carries.  The way this team is built, I just don’t see them airing it out enough to make Cousins a huge factor in fantasy.  Significant injuries on the Vikings defense or to Cook would provide a catalyst for Cousins to air it out more and finish with more fantasy points, but this is not something that I am betting on.

  

 

 

WWE Superstar Shake Up Re-Cap

BY: Mike Thompson

img_9438

 

This week on…  MIKE on the MIC :

 

SUPERSTAR SHAKE-UP..

 

This past week on Raw and Smackdown we saw multiple superstars find new homes and the beginnings of new and fresh feuds. This two-night event brings the dissolution of tag teams, as well as the call up of NXT Superstars to the main roster. Anything can happen and anyone can end up anywhere!

 

So.. who ended up where??

 

RAW: AJ Styles, The Miz, Ricochet, Aleister Black, Erik and Ivar (The Viking Experience), Andrade, Zelina Vega, Rey Mysterio, The Usos, Naomi, EC3, Lacey Evans, Eric Young, Cedric Alexander, Samoa Joe

 

SMACKDOWN: Roman Reigns, Finn Bálor, Elias, Bayley, Ember Moon, Kairi Sane, Lars Sullivan, Buddy Murphy, Liv Morgan, Chad Gable, Apollo Crews, Mickie James, and Heavy Machinery (Otis and Tucker)

 

 

This was definitely one of the best shake-ups to date and one of the most interesting by far! I am really excited to see how this all plays out, what new alliances form, and what new feuds come out of it. This could definitely strengthen both brands overall, and give the WWE product a huge boost. 

 

On another note, who or what could be behind the creepy promos with the evil laughing doll in the rocking chair and the pterodactyl head puppet? Could it be the ominous return of Bray Wyatt and his family? Will the WWE Universe finally meet Sister Abigail? If the rumors are true, this could be game changing! Where would the Wyatt Family end up? Raw? SmackDown? Only time will tell..

 

 

 

 

THAT’S ALL FOR THIS WEEK.. STAY TUNED FOR MORE!!

2019 AFC North Outlook

The 2019 AFC North Outlook

img_7471By Jimmy Herring

Guess who’s back….back again…. No seriously, I haven’t been on the videos as much due to work beating me down as well as home life taking a little turn to the left. Just don’t think for one second I’m going to up and leave one of the best things I’ve had an opportunity to do in a long time. I’ll be making my on screen return very soon. Until then, it’s time for my annual, unfiltered, wild majestic  AFC North Outlook in which I dive into each teams transactions, who I see them potentially targeting in the first round of the NFL Draft, mixed with some banter to either get you laughing or piss you off. Pretty sure I’m going to piss a few people off on what I have to type….(cawwww cawwww)….. So let us get this party started!

 

Let us start with probably the least active team and as of right now, the last place team in the AFC north…The Baltimo…. The Cincinnati Bengals! Yayyyy…. Or for the sake of our AFC North followers, who gives a damn about them? They finally canned Marvin Lewis after several lackluster seasons with either brief playoff visits or the 7-9 to 8-8 records they would usually have. Is it right to say the Marvin Lewis is a bootleg Jeff Fisher? He most likely is. They have problems to me across the board. Whether it’s the health of player, the production of player, the suspensions of players, the respect the players have for the coaches and ownership, there’s everywhere. Let us start with the good. They went and got a new head coach in Zac Taylor who I honestly know nothing about except he’s one of Sean McVay’s road dogs. A young coach with higher energy is something that can put the good stamp on the culture. There are plenty of coaches you want to play for and some I wouldn’t pay to play for. Marvin Lewis looks like the quiet uncle with no swag that sits in the living room of the family reunion and doesn’t know how to fit in. No one wanted to lay it all on the line for him. So a culture shift was due. Next and probably the best thing they’ve done was can Vontaze Burfict. Hallelujah! To change the culture you have to get rid of cancerous players in the locker room. That dude was one hit away from the opposing team whooping his ass, his own team whooping his ass, and a severe injury due to his dirty play nature. In the words of Duane “GET EM OUTTTT!”  No other big moves were made with the Bengals as of yet. Sometimes no news is good news. So who do I think they could go after in the draft? The biggest need is inside linebacker. I could definitely see a Devin White or Devin Bush at pick #11 if they decide to go defense. Both of those kids are athletic freaks who love the game and have the leadership skills that you want on your defense. If they decide to go offense, I could see an offensive lineman like Jawaan Taylor out of Florida or Jonah Williams from Alabama. You have to protect your Franchise Quarterback! That is something that they have ultimately struggled with for a few years. My petty pick would be to take any of the Quarterbacks and ship Andy Dalton off to no man’s land. But that contract he’s locked into looks pretty steep. They may have to keep him for another year or two.

 

Now it’s time to discuss my third place team at this point…. The Baltimore Ravens. Yes… I can hear Gerald and Duane in my ear lighting me up. Just stick with me here for a few minutes. The Ravens are probably one of the smartest teams in the AFC North at this very point. They are also one of the most delusional teams in the AFC North as well. This isn’t an opportunity for me to slander the Ravens. I can do that whenever I feel like it. From a football fan perspective, I’m so happy the Joe Flacco era is over. Yes, he brought a ring to Baltimore. Yes he had that playoff run that was incredible. He looked like a future superstar! After that playoff run and that fat payday, I believe he got complacent and said he got his bread. I’ll never forget last NFL offseason. I told BOTH of my best friends Lamar Jackson would be a Raven. And they scoffed at me. Matter of fact after the Ravens drafted Hayden Hurst, Duane went to bed. I stayed up as I was interested in what could happen. That’s when the Ravens traded back into the first round and selected Lamar Jackson.  I was happy and confused on how this was going to play out. Well it played out pretty well. Joe Flacco sustained an injury and Lamar took the wheel and never looked back. They made the playoffs and made the statement that they needed. The birds were back… and not the Orioles. This offseason for them hasn’t gone so well in my eyes. I know my Charm City Beat team hates when I talk about the Ravens. Let us not act like I haven’t lived in Maryland for 20+ years and have been forced to digest this team. I know them almost as well as I know the Steelers. They lost CJ Mosley, Terrell Suggs, Eric Weddle, Zadarius Smith, Alex Collins (he made his bed on that one), Michael Crabtree, John Brown, and probably a few that I’m missing. Mosley wanted his bag and deserved his bag. Suggs was a shocker. I thought he’d retire a Raven. But let’s not act like his playing time wasn’t declining. Can he still be a productive pass rusher? Absolutely he can. He just isn’t an every down guy at this point in his career. Weddle had up and down play but he was the defenses QB and a straight up Baltimore guy. It sucks that they let him go. I’m sure a contract could have been worked out for the both of them. Zadarius Smith played great and wanted his bag too. Alex Collins??? Weedman Weedman YEAH THAT’S MEEEEE! Crabtree was hot trash. John Brown was the surprise move. That deep threat and speed could have been deadly with Jackson getting the ball to him. So you lose all of that talent on the team. But the splash move of bringing in Earl Thomas is awesome. He brings a ball hawk and hard hitting mentality to the Ravens. He’s the new QB of the defense. He will do just fine and that type of play is needed in the rough AFC North.  Mark Ingram is a solid running back. I’m glad to finally see him in a 3 down role. He could easily top 1000+ yards in the new look Ravens offense. My biggest question with the Ravens is who is Lamar going to throw to? I know they have 16 tight ends but where’s the WR’s at? You got rid of your top 2 guys and haven’t brought anyone in at this point. Which leads to by draft needs… If they go offense in the draft, it has to be receiver and no other position. Luckily the receiver class this year is deep. They could go the speed route and take a Parris Campbell out of Ohio or a Hollywood Brown from Oklahoma. Be wary of WR’s with the last name Brown. Ask Pittsburgh how that has worked out for them. Especially since they are related. I’d steer clear of these egos. The only wide receiver with the last name Brown I’d take is A’s Brown out of Ole Miss which is definitely an option at this point in the draft. If they go defense, I can see a linebacker or pass rusher at this point. Look at a Mack Wilson out of Alabama or Brian Burns out of Florida State. If these needs get addressed in the draft and it pans out, the Ravens could move up to second place or even win the division again. With no good receivers on the roster at this point, I have to leave them in third. Plus the overall talent loss from this offseason makes them a little more vulnerable in my opinion. We shall see.

 

On paper, my second place team is the Pittsburgh Steelers. Yes, throw some bias on it too. I recently had a discussion with Gerald and we both agreed on paper this can switch between both the Ravens and Steelers holding down the 2nd and 3rd ranking in the AFC North. I give Pittsburgh the edge on paper because they are the more complete team at the moment. We have limited areas of concern as of right now. We will dive into that issue in a moment. Let’s talk the elephants in the room. To be completely honest, I gave Lev Bell a ton of shit for not taking the contract that was offered. 5 years 75 million with about 33 million paid in the first two years? Not a bad look to me. I do agree that NFL players deserve guaranteed money as this is a violent game at the pleasure of the consumer. They have to learn to not cut off their noses to spite their faces. I am a firm believer that Lev Bell is a talent player who is a major product of his offensive line and QB. He will be missed but he has been replaced. Enter James Conner who didn’t miss a beat with the team. As a matter of fact he outplayed Lev Bell stat wise from the last full year Lev played. We will be fine in the RB department. Hopefully we add a set of legs in the draft this year. Now let’s talk Mr. Big Chest, Blonde Mustache…..yeah the asshat himself, Antonio Brown. He was my favorite player. He deserves to get paid. He is a top 2 receiver in the NFL and in my opinion, he isn’t # 2. What disappointed me is the growth of the ego, childish behavior, interviews, crying, pissing, and moaning.  He ran his mouth so much that he damaged his value and in turn the Steelers got a Checker burger and fries in picks for him. The locker room cancer is gone. His feelings are probably hurt. Should I be that guy and say his stats are because he gets the ball forced to him? Yes. He is definitely a product of the system as well. I think we will be okay in the WR room. Juju, Moncrief, and Washington should hold up fine. Also, I’m a firm believer in a WR being taken as early as round 1. The need is there for sure. Sooooo, now the reason why I think the Steelers are better than the Ravens right now? We didn’t lose as many players as they did. We are a better defense on paper. We are a better offense on paper. Just saying again that this is all ON PAPER. Paper is different than on the field. They have beaten our ass with less. It’ll always be one of my favorite matchups. When drafting this year, I can see the Steelers going many ways. Some of us say we will trade up since we have the ammo from a few trades. I’m saying we will stay put unless someone crazy is dropping. If we trade up into the top 10, look for a WR or LB. A D.K Metcalf, Devin White, or Devin Bush would be my move but it would have to be for a trade up. If we stay put, I can see a best player available scenario. Look at Nassir Adderly, the safety from Delaware or Noah Fant, the blazing tight end from Iowa. The reason I even slotted Noah Fant here is to do the New England Patriots dirty. Gronk just retired. Do not let Brady get another athletic tight end. For the love of god please don’t.

 

                  Surprise…. The Browns are the projected first place team for the AFC North…. No I haven’t been smoking crack. I may have to if the Browns go 12-4 with a first round bye and on paper there is nothing leading me to the fact that they can’t win the division. They hit big time in the draft last year. Baker Mayfield has the swag and attitude. The kid is a winner. The kid can ball out too. As he got more comfortable, he was slicing teams up. Yes, he had his ups and downs. I still haven’t forgiven him from not getting the Steelers in the playoffs. However, if it’s up to him, he may keep the rest of the north out of the playoffs. The defense is ready and willing to play. Myles Garrett, Sheldon Richardson, Olivier Vernon, and Denzel Ward will lead up a more physical and talented defense. Just thinking of that defensive line gives me nightmares of the havoc they can put out. Then on offense, the have the kid Mayfield, Kareem Hunt (even if he’s suspended for 8 games, he will still be a problem), Nick Chubb who had a great rookie year, Duke Johnson, who may be one of the best receiving backs in the league, David Njoku, Jarvis Landry, and then they had the nerve, the audacity to trade their first round pick and Jabril Peppers for Odell Beckham Jr…. Are you freaking kidding me?! The weakest part of the Browns to me is the offensive line. Also, middle linebacker could be an issue as well. Without a first round pick, they won’t get the top half of the talent. However, with the offseason moves, who needs a first round pick? I truly think they aren’t done at all. I haven’t even dove into the second round of the draft so I’m not going to sit here and throw random names out. It would be crap. Just wait and see with the Browns. I’m excited for them from a NFL standpoint to see how high they can go.

 

                      So after reading this, I’m sure there are upset fans everywhere with me. I could honestly care less. Just look at things from a NFL perspective and not a homer perspective. I’m not telling you to not root for your team. Just be a realist and take your head out of your ass for a few minutes and you may realize something about your own team. I welcome all criticisms and feedback. I welcome new ideas as well as teaching me something I may not know about your team. I’m still a rookie at being a journalist so feel free to beat me up! I look forward to talking to all the readers and listeners of Littube Sports throughout the year. I apologize for the on screen hiatus but don’t worry; I’ll be back and better than ever! Until next time!

Road to Wrestlemania RAW/SMACKDOWN recap

THE ROAD TO WRESTLEMANIA..

 

As ‘Mania gets closer and closer, the build continues to get crazier and crazier! There has been so much going on in various storylines as of late and while some of it has been insanely fascinating, other things have left me scratching my head. I am left wondering – What is creative thinking? What sense does that make? Why are things being taken in that direction? What surprises could WWE have in store?

Social media has also been buzzing with both anticipation and disappointment. Here are a few examples:

  • Disappointment – Kurt Angle vs. Baron CorbinKurt was afforded his choice of an opponent for the final match of his career. He decidedly picked the man who had “made his life a living hell as of late”, former RAW GM Baron Corbin. While this does make sense on one hand, fans on social media offered a different opponent – John Cena. The fans do make a good case – John Cena’s opponent in his debut match was none other than Kurt Angle; the match won by Cena. What better way is there for Angle to end his career than to go out on top against the man whose career he helped launch? Could WWE somehow sneak Cena into the match, perhaps have him take out Corbin and take his spot?

 

  • Anticipation – Seth Rollins vs. Brock LesnarThe build to this match has been absolutely phenomenal – from Seth winning the Royal Rumble Match to the weekly promos. Given Rollins’ past matches and his intensity, Rollins is most definitely the fan favorite to win this match. Fans are tired of seeing Lesnar with the belt and lack of title defense. We are ready to see the Universal Championship on RAW every week. If Rollins does emerge victorious, it would set up some very interesting potential future feuds; including Roman Reigns’ possible quest to recapture the title he was forced to vacate.

 

  • Disappointment – Kofi Kingston / Mr. McMahon storylineI don’t even know where to begin with this one – I can only scratch my head. Kofi has never been more over with the fans, and this is his time! He was given a huge opportunity at the Elimination PPV, and boy did he deliver! He and Daniel Bryan put on one hell of a show as the final two competitors in the EC match, elevating Kofi to be the most over he has probably ever been with the fans in his career. Fans demanded Kofi vs. Daniel Bryan at Fastlane. At first, it looked like a lock, with the contract signing on SmackDown. Cue the interruption by Mr. McMahon, and the announcement that Kofi was being replaced by the returning Kevin Owens. Kofi has proven beyond measure that he belongs in the title picture, and this is the storyline that WWE Creative comes up with?! It is seriously lame, and it’s gotten old quickly having to watch Kofi prove himself every week, only to have Mr. McMahon go back on his word. KOFI 4 CHAMP!

 

  • Anticipation – RAW Women’s Championship MatchWhile at first I disagreed with Becky being replaced by Charlotte Flair, this storyline has actually turned out to be quite intense and interesting. The build up to the eventual insertion of Becky Lynch back into the match was crazy. The intensity these three women bring to the ring, coupled with the explosive promos as of late could turn this feud into one hell of a match. With rumors of Ronda Rousey’s exit following ‘Mania, who knows what the future holds for the winner of this match and the RAW Women’s Championship?

 

THAT’S ALL FOR THIS WEEK.. STAY TUNED FOR MORE!!