2015 NFL Pre-Season Power Rankings

By Gillikin and the Caveman

It’s the best time of year once again – football is just around the corner. And just like we do every year, Gillikin and I have each compiled our own pre-season power rankings. Here it goes!

Gillikin’s 32 – New York Jets. This team was going to be bad even before their QB went and got himself sucker punched for not paying a plane ticket and really Fitzpatrick will likely be better than Geno Smith…still, this team is terrible and at least a few years away from winning much of anything.

Caveman’s 32 – Washington Redskins. The ‘Skins were horrendous last year and haven’t changed a thing. Well, nothing that matters (coughRG3).

Gillikin’s 31 – Washington Redskins. The Skins are already decimated with injuries after the first pre season game and that doesn’t bode well for an already crappy team. RG3 had his 15 minutes of fame but is another stupid decision to not duck out of bounds before getting killed away from ending what was once a promising career.

Caveman’s 31 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They were the worst team in the league last year, and I don’t think that first overall draft pick Jameis Winston is going to single-handedly change that in his first year.

Gillikin’s 30 – Tennessee Titans.  The Titans have a bright future with Marcus Mariota but it’s very unlikely he will be a guy that will succeed in his first year in the league. Add the QB inexperience to a bad team and well…..it’s not usually a good thing.

Caveman’s 30 – Tennessee Titans. Just as Winston alone cannot lift the sorrows of Tampa, so too Marcus Mariota will fail to raise Tennesse from the depths of NFL suckitude.

Gillikin’s 29 – Jacksonville Jaguars. I really like the direction the Jags are going and Bortles showed some good signs last year but…they’re still the Jaguars. Several sites have shown that they have the least all around talent than any other team in the NFL and it’s not even close.

Caveman’s 29 – New York Jets. The names on their defense look impressive. But New York is about to discover how much Rex Ryan was worth.

Gillikin’s 28 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Jameis Winston is the next big things according to most folks who followed the crab eating big man from FSU. I’m not sure I agree but even if he turns into the next Cam Newton, he’s a few years away and this year will be rough for a young team.

Caveman’s 28 – Jacksonville Jaguars. They will be better this year. But that’s not saying much.

Gillikin’s 27 –  Cleveland Browns.  I will always have a soft spot for the Brownies and I actually like Johnny Manziel but it’s Josh McCown who will be the starter. Yikes. Go check out his career stats and you’ll be blown away by the whelmingness. They do have a good defense though and that’s what kept them out of the bottom four spots.

Caveman’s 27 – Cleveland Browns. If they had a good quarterback, they’d be a decent team. They do not.

Gillikin’s 26 – Oakland Raiders.  I actually think the Raiders are going to be significantly improved and they have some young players to keep an eye on in RB Murray and WR Cooper. Still, they just don’t have the talent and they play in a very good AFC West division. Hope is on the horizon though for Oakland.

Caveman’s 26 – San Francisco 49ers. Competing in the Super Bowl just three short years ago, the Niners continue their slump into mediocrity.

Gillikin’s 25 – San Francisco 49ers. The Niners had one of the roughest offseasons that I have ever seen. They lost their head coach, four starters on defense and their star running back and they didn’t seem to make any improvements. They have a coach who at least SHOULD be clueless and a QB in whom I have absolutely zero faith.

Caveman’s 25 – Oakland Raiders. The fact that they’re this high is a compliment. It’s actually cute how some analysts think the Raiders will be okay this year.

Gillikin’s 24 – New Orleans Saints. This is one of my bigger surprises to start the year but I don’t have much belief in the Saints. Brees had an iffy year and then lost his best target in Graham and the team added nothing on offense. Their defense has never been a strength and I think they seriously struggle like the 49ers and totally turn things over after this season.

Caveman’s 24 – Chicago Bears. They could very easily go 0-6 in their division. It’s going to be fun watching how Cutler and Foxy interact.

Gillikin’s 23 – Houston Texans. I love J J Watt as everyone does but he’s not their Quarterback. Who is their QB?…Seriously I’m not sure…..

Caveman’s 23 – New York Giants. I can’t wait to count how many total fingers the defensive line will have thanks to fireworks noob Jason Pierre-Paul. 38 or so? Sorry, that’s mean. But oh so funny.

Gillikin’s 22 – Chicago Bears.  They actually have a lot of talent on this team and I can see this ranking change as the year goes on. They do, however, also have Jay Cutler as their ball slinger. Dude is a proven loser and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Even Brandon Marshall thinks Cutler is a failure…bwa bwa bwa….

Caveman’s 22 – Atlanta Falcons. I don’t see them climbing out of the mediocrity into which they’ve plunged the past couple of years.

Gillikin’s 21 – Buffalo Bills. I love Rex Ryan and I love this defense but I just don’t think you can win without a QB. Defense wins championships but Tyrod Tailor doesn’t win games. ‘Nuf said.

Caveman’s 21 – New Orleans Saints. I love Drew Brees. But who’s he going to throw to?

Gillikin’s 20 – Kansas City Chiefs.  Kansas City is going to be solid…decent…they’ll do some things right and occasionally they’ll look okay. That’s KC…in one word… “Meh”.

Caveman’s 20 – Philadelphia Eagles. What were they thinking? Trading occasionally-injured Nick Foles for always-injured Sam Bradford? Playing time for Tebow is definitely a possibility.

Gillikin’s 19 – Minnesota Viking.  I think they’r a borderline playoff team but #19 is borderline. If anyone is bound for a sophomore slump, it’s Teddy Bridgewater.

Caveman’s 19 – Houston Texans. This is actually bordering on a serious suggestion: put J.J. Watt in at QB.

Gillikin’s 18 – Cincinnati Bengals.  The Ginja Ninja can’t succeed on iffy talent forever. I think they’ll be okay this year but they finally don’t make the playoffs.

Caveman’s 18 – Minnesota Vikings. Teddy Bridgewater looks to be the best QB taken in the 2014 NFL draft. I’d rather have him than Blake Bortles. And let me think about it…hmm…yep, I think Teddy is better than Johnny Manziel too.

Gillikin’s 17 – New York Giants.  The Giants have some offensive firepower but they have bleh on defense and Eli “pickmaster” Manning as QB.

Caveman’s 17 – Miami Dolphins. When your biggest free agent acquisition is Greg Jennings, you haven’t made a whole lot of progress. I prophesize missing the playoffs due to (in my mind) the two-headed division monster of New England and Buffalo.

Gillikin’s 16 – St Louis Rams.   IF they had a Quarterback I believed in, they would be higher but Nick Foles just doesn’t do it for me. I do like their coach and defense and a stellar defensive line.

Caveman’s 16 – Kansas City Chiefs – Won’t be bad, won’t be great. The ever-annoying Chiefs take the coveted half-way spot at #16.

Gillikin’s 15 – Atlanta Falcons.  They are a team that has a chance to big things this year. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones could really thrive under new OC Kyle Shanahan. I MIGHT have put money on the Falcons at 50-1 odds.

Caveman’s 15 – St. Louis Rams – I’m very jealous of the Rams’ trenches. With the Nick Foles acquisition, they have broken into the legitimate playoff contender discussion.

Gillikin’s 14 Philadelphia Eagles.   The Iggles are again going to be exciting and fun to watch but can Bradford stay healthy?  After losing a large amount of playmakers can they still be explosive? Can Murray run as well with them as he did with the Cowboys? Lots of questions for Philly.

Caveman’s 14 – Cincinnati Bengals – I made a really risky (please note dripping sarcasm) prediction last year that came true: the Bengals would make the playoffs, and then lose their first game. Here’s one for this year: they just miss the playoffs due to tough AFC Wild Card competition.

Gillikin’s 13 – Baltimore Ravens. I hate them so much but they’ll still likely be a playoff team. They’re well coached, always seem to find talent and have a solid Quarterback in Flacco.

Caveman’s 13 – San Diego Chargers – The Chargers gave their playoff spot away to the Ravens last year. They’ve improved since, and will be tough competition for our Denver Broncos.

Gillikin’s 12 – San Diego Chargers.  I actually really like them this year and I can’t say why. My gut tells me that they will find a way to challenge the Broncos for the AFC West but maybe that’s a stretch. Love me some Melvin Gordon.

Caveman’s 12 – Baltimore Ravens – Very nearly beat the Super Bowl Champion Patriots in the playoffs. You can never count Baltimore out.

Gillikin’s 11 – Carolina Panthers.  Like them, don’t love them. If not for an aggressive coach and phenomenal defense, Cam Newton would be okay at best.

Caveman’s 11 – Carolina Panthers. The Panthers will absolutely feast on their pathetic division. Cam Newton is a very good QB, and may crack into the “elite” range this year.

Gillikin’s 10 – Miami Dolphins. This is their year to do something. They have a chance to win this division for the first time since……forever it seems. Tannehille could be a beast and he finally has some weapons.

Caveman’s 10 – Detroit Lions. They are emphasizing the run this year. Combined with a very good passing game and defense, they could be dangerous.

Gillikin’s 9 – Detroit Lions.  That NFC North is going to be fun to watch this year and they still have one of the most underrated QBs in football with Stafford. They have some explosive receivers and I really like their rookie RB Abdullah.

Caveman’s 9 – Arizona Cardinals. This is the year the Cards finally break through and win a playoff game.

Gillikin’s 8 Dallas Cowboys.  I’ll believe it when I see it that their running game will be just as good without Murray. Romo gets them into the top ten but I’m not completely sold on this team.

Caveman’s 8 – Buffalo Bills. My sleeper pick for 2015. Rex Ryan took a Jets team to two straight AFC Championships with Mark Sanchez as his QB. With the talent he has on both sides of the ball, particularly defense, the Bills could challenge the Pats for the AFC East title.

Gillikin’s 7 – New England Patriots.  They will likely lose Brady for a few games they lost almost their entire defensive backfield and they really don’t have a running game to speak of. I think this is a liberal spot for the Pats.

Caveman’s 7 – Pittsburgh Steelers. Their offense could be terrifying. Gone are the days of losing 13-7 to the Steelers. Here come the days of losing 38-35.

Gillikin’s 6 – Pittsburgh Steelers.  Steelers have a questionable defense but their offense could be the best in football. They seem to add pieces every year and Big Ben could have a mammoth season.

Caveman’s 6 – Denver Broncos. A Kubiak offense with CJ Anderson and PFM. A studly defense, coached by Wade Phillips, that could be top-3. Why so low, Caveman? I still have a sour taste from the complacent poop-show that was the Colts playoff game. They need to prove to me that they have grit, and that they really really really want to win.

Gillikin’s 5 – Denver Broncos.  Big changes in the offseason as the coaching staff was completely flushed and a new one brought in. Kubiak should do big things with this talent and they could actually have a top five offense and top five defense. The only reason they’re at five is because I’m not totally sold on their O-line and if PFM can stay healthy.

Caveman’s 5 – New England Patriots. The Pats lost some key defensive players, and Brady’s suspension looms large. But they’re still the #$@%$&# Patriots. They still have Tom Flat-Balls Brady and Bill B.S. Belichick.

Gillikin’s 4 – Arizona Cardinals.  Another team I put a bit of money on this Spring. If Carson Palmer can stay healthy, they can be one of the best teams in the NFL.

Caveman’s 4 – Dallas Cowboys. Put the Cowboys’ offensive line on the Denver Broncos, and just hand the Lombardi trophy to us.

Gillikin’s 3 – Seattle Seahawks.  I just can’t yet take them out of the top three. They are nearly the same team they were last year but PLUS Jimmy Graham…They should be a force yet again.

Caveman’s 3 – Seattle Seahawks. Paying Russell Wilson was a no-brainer, but it’s the beginning of the end for the Seahawks. Also, the Super Bowl loser’s curse is a very real thing. This dynasty is officially on the downhill slope.

Gillikin’s 2 – Green Bay Packers.  Aaron Rodgers.  Yup, that’s all I need to say.

Caveman’s 2 – Indianapolis Colts. What do you get when you take a really good team and make it much better? You get the team-to-beat in the AFC. The Colts could very easily go 15-1.

Gillikin’s 1 – Indianapolis Colts.  The Colts are LOADED on offense and they have the best QB in football. Luck with his new toys should be absolutely lethal and nearly unstoppable. If this defense can be even solid, they could push for an undefeated season.

Caveman’s 1 – Green Bay Packers. If the Packers didn’t have a completely epic second-half collapse in their playoff game against the Seahawks last year, I truly believe that they would be the reigning champs. I put them ahead of the Colts for one reason: the Packers are built from the ground up, while the Colts (with the exception of Luck) are mostly free-agent built.

(For some reason it won’t let me add photos but I’ll attach them later)

Goodbye Tulo, Hello Hope!

Tulo BJSeeing Troy Tulowitzki wearing a bright blue helmet and blasting a monster, double-decker home-run last night was one of the weirder sports experiences of my life. All the trade rumors over the past three or four years could never have prepared me to see the over-sized Shortstop wearing anything other than purple. Not only was he in a lineup for a team playing outside of the United States but he was batting….FIRST. Tulo…leadoff man for the Toronto Blue Jays.

It was bizarre to be sure and for years to come seeing his name on any leader board or on any highlight with anything other than the Rockies’ logo near his name will weird me out to no end. That being said, I’ve seen columns and posts by the dozens exclaiming how heartbroken fans are and how they have nothing to cheer for anymore. I just don’t see it that way.

I am as thorough of a Rockies fan as there can possibly be (at least in my own mind) and I have struggled through their horrendousness for 20 plus years and I still watch them every chance I get. I watch them without the hope of a great season and without the faintest expectation of making the playoffs. For years and years I went in to the season with an insane feeling that somehow THIS would be the year that they would figure things out and stay healthy and win on the road and…and..and…and….Then, year after year, nothing changed. The team is always terrible on the road, is always hurt and can never pitch.  No matter the manager, no matter the lineup and the superstars in the lineup, my beloved boys in purple sucked. Since 2009 just NOT finishing in last place in the National League has been a victory for the team and that is just depressing. Still, I watch, go to games and read endless recaps detailing how the Rockies lost yet another game because (insert excuse).

Troy Tulowitzki has been one of my favorite players since he was called up in 2007 andTulo trophy the team made the historic run of 21 wins in 22 games and made it all the way to the World Series. His jump throws and twirling/jumping pirouettes to somehow make a play on defense will always be one of my favorite things I’ve watched as a Rockies fan. His incredible September where he hit something like 15 home runs in one month and his fiery, winning nature  are all memories that will never, ever be taken away. Something I try to forget though is the simple fact that even with him in the lineup and healthy and playing well…the team continues to lose. Even with a lineup that’s been healthy nearly an entire year (which is unusual for the team) and has Allstars all throughout the lineup,  the Rockies head into tonight’s game 13 games below .500. SOMETHING had to change.

Tulo JumpThe front office now led by first year GM, Jeff Bridich, warned players and fans alike this Spring that if this team didn’t perform as they should and if they had a sub-par season, big changes were coming. As baseball fans in the Mile High City we are used to having zero trust in the front office and we all really put little to no significance behind his words. In our minds he was a Dan O’dowd disciple who would be as gutless and worthless as his predecessor….(s?)   Bridich made a few small signings in the offseason, picking up Brett Hundley (who’s been a stud), John Axford (who had been a stud before falling to pieces) and Kyle Kendrick (who has straight up been the worst pitcher in baseball). These moves didn’t help in giving the fan base happy thoughts towards the F.O of the Rockies. That all changed on Monday night when Mr Bridich pulled off the biggest trade in franchise history. Like the trade or not, it was a change and a shakeup of things that this organization has needed for years. The front office has finally come to the realization that in today’s baseball there’s ONE THING that you must have to win baseball games. Pitching.

The Rockies got back three young, studly pitchers in the deal as well as veteran speedy SS, Jose Reyes. As for if Reyes is here for the long term or to just be turned around in another trade for more young pitching has yet to be seen. Still, the biggest pieces were the young pitchers that have bolstered the farm system to better pitching depth than the team has ever had. All three of them are big bodied guys that throw high in the 90’s and have high ceilings in terms of talent. The big bodied, fireballers are clearly becoming a trend in the farm system and it’s nice to see a new idea and path to winning and pitching at Coors Field. Will the youngsters pan out? No one knows nor will they know for another 3 to 5 years. Tulo could become the Hall of Famer that he has the ability to become if healthy, the prospects could be duds as many, especially pitching prospects become but for now we can only judge it as a change in the lineup a change in the team and a change in the culture.

I don’t like losing one of the most talented players in franchise history near the height of his

June 11, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (2) comes out of the dugout during the game against the Washington Nationals at Coors Field. The Rockies defeated the Nationals 8-3. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

June 11, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (2) comes out of the dugout during the game against the Washington Nationals at Coors Field. The Rockies defeated the Nationals 8-3. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

prime for a bunch of guys that are too young to crack open a beer after a game. As any fan, I hate losing a guy I’ve cheered for since I was 18 years old and hoped would be there til I’m 38. But in sports like in life, change hurts and is confusing and hard but often times it’s the best thing that could happen and maybe it’s a breath of fresh air this team needs to find a way to win.

After all, winning cures all.

(I’ll be whole heartedly cheering for the Toronto Blue Jays for the remainder of the season and as long as Tulo is part of the team!)

2015 Denver Broncos – What Are We Getting?

By the Caveman

Denver-Broncos-Take-Field-Mile-HighIn early pre-season rankings (obviously to be taken with a grain of salt), the Denver Broncos are ranked anywhere from 4th best to 10th best in the NFL – a marked decline from the previous couple of years. The team’s struggle down the stretch in 2014, ending in a blowout playoff loss to the Colts, is reason number one. Next on the list is an entirely different coaching staff – which historically is a crap-shoot.

So what are we getting? Are the Broncos better or worse than they were last year? Here are the 5 biggest offseason changes in my mind, and how I think they will affect the Broncos’ 2015 performance.


The Broncos’ offensive line, both by choice and by injury, is nearly entirely different from oline2014. Only Louis Vasquez is carried over into the new season as a projected starter. The undecided lineup is most fully showcased in the fact that rookie Ty Sambrailo is projected to start at left tackle. If this makes you nervous, it should.

That said, the offensive line was arguably the weakest unit of Denver’s team in 2014. In this case, starting over might be exactly what the doctor ordered. Especially because the scheme is also a major change.

Conclusion: Draw


kubeIt’s hard to put a finger on what scheme the Broncos ran in 2014. It started out in a continuation of the prolific 2013 pass-first offense, but then transitioned into a power-running attack after the St. Louis game (and Manning’s injury). The defense was a vanilla bend-don’t-break, and it was in nickel most of the time.

We know what we’re getting in 2015 – a zone-blocking, run-to-set-up-the-pass scheme. I’m not saying that this is the best scheme ever instituted in the NFL by any means. But it is what Denver used in the late 90’s when they won their Super Bowls. On the defensive side, Wade Phillips is an X’s and O’s mastermind.

Conclusion: Improved


Part of me really wants to hate on Foxy and his coordinators for being bad coaches, but in reality we traded a nice guy for another nice guy. The benefit of this new coaching staff is solely in scheme.

Conclusion: Draw


He’s one year older…which is good from a mental perspective, bad from a pfm2physical perspective. A lot has been made about the fact that he’s in a new scheme that will require much less of him. That should be a good thing – Elway went through the same exact sequence in his career, only becoming great (Super Bowl winning great) when he allowed his old body to be carried by the team around him. We’ll see if Manning will take the same approach, particularly when it comes to the interesting topic of changing plays at the line of scrimmage. And while part of me is hopeful, I’m not counting on it. Even if he stays healthy, I’m not sure Manning is a top-10 QB this year.

Conclusion: Decline.


DI saved this one for last because I wanted to leave on a high note. Wade Phillips might just be the best offseason addition to this team. With the defensive tools he has (particular pass-rushers), I’m convinced the Broncos will be a top-5 defense. I can see, with only slightly rose-colored glasses, Von Miller having a career year (topping even his 18.5-sack 2012). I can see Shane Ray making a bid for defensive rookie of the year. I can see Chris Harris getting only 2 interceptions because opposing QB’s will only throw at him a handful of times the entire year.

Inside linebacker scares me a little bit, but the lack of a stud is hugely minimized with what will be some crazy looks from Phillips. I’m really looking forward to the true return of the Orange Crush.

Conclusion: Improved

Overall conclusion: Slightly Improved

Greatest Week in Sports….History?

Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration for the upcoming sporting events this weekend. It might even be way over the top but this may be the most jam packed few days in my sports filled life.

The weeks of the NFL Divisional and Conference Playoffs are in the conversation each and every year but that’s still only one sport (albeit the most popular one). This first weekend of May isn’t about just one sport but rather seven from all over the world.

Clear your schedules and buy some beer because this week is going to be a doozy!

Major League Baseball

Let’s start with the MLB:

The sport of baseball has been around for nearly 150 years. It’s one of the oldest andorioles_06mr2zj6_j0zw50pk most traditional sports you will find in the world and the amount of games played throughout the years would have you thinking you’ll never see something you’ve never seen before. Baseball somehow continues to surprise us with with new, unusual happenings and there’s one today that may be the strangest seen in many seasons.

Everyone knows at this point what’s going on in Baltimore. Nevermind your stance or opinion on the situation, the entire thing is unfortunate and bizarre. It’s rare to see a game affected by outside circumstances but due to the rioting and danger outside the gates of Camden Yards, the police advised the team to not risk further issues with a large crowd. The team decided that they wouldn’t delay the game against the Chicago White Sox but rather would do something that has NEVER been done in the history of the sport. There will be no crowd. There will be no fans. There will not be one single spectator outside of the media. Bizarre. No one knows what to expect and as it’s a free game on MLB T.V, everyone should check it out and watch this little bit of history. (Prayers and thoughts for Baltimore in this tough time)

The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox rivalry is surely not what it once was. The fire isn’t there, the fighting isn’t there and the once inevitable drama has disappeared. Still, it’s the biggest rivalry by name in the sport and that makes it something worth watching. The 2015 baseball season is still in it’s infancy but there are plenty of worthwhile games and match ups to check out this week.

As a Colorado Rockies fan, I have to mention that they play the Chicago Cubs at home this weekend and both teams have a lot of youth, talent and upside. The Cubs especially have a young team that’s as exciting to watch as any group in baseball. Both teams are trying to keep pace in their Divisions early on and it should be a fun series to watch whether you’re a Rockies or Cubs fan or not.

The 2015 baseball season is still in it’s infancy but there are plenty of worthwhile games and match ups to check out this week.

Baseball, however, is by far the least interesting sport of the week. Think of it as a filler during the commercials of the other fantastic programming.

National Basketball Association

635647986734002319-USP-NBA-LOS-ANGELES-CLIPPERS-AT-SAN-ANTONIO-SPURS-70482322The playoffs are a bit up in the air at the moment for what games will be played this weekend. Depending on what teams move forward from the first round or whether teams can keep their respective series alive.

Friday you could see game six of the Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trailblazers but as Memphis leads the series 3-1 the Blazers need to win on Tuesday to get to game six. There will be a game six between the Brooklyn Nets and the Atlanta Hawks as that series is currently tied 2-2.

Needless to say there will be excitement and attention payed to these playoff match ups and it should be a full week of awesomesauce from the National Basketball Association. Spurs/Clippers should be really good and if they go to game seven it’ll be insane and must watch! Definitely some games to tune in for this week…if you have time.

National Hockey League

Then there is maybe the greatest playoffs in sports each and every year…the NHL post Tampa Bay Lightning v Washington Capitals - Game Twoseason.

Does it even matter who the teams are in the playoffs for the National Hockey League? Every game gets you on the edge of your seat, every period has that explosive energy and every goal is just lights out crazy. If you aren’t already watching the playoffs….get with it and start NOW!

In the second round of the playoffs you’ll see the Montreal Canadiens, the Washington Capitols, New York Rangers, Anaheim Ducks and obviously more.

I’m going to admit sadly that the NHL is the sport I know the least but I would still sit and watch a random playoff game rather than an NBA playoff game where I know and understand the game and teams much better. Just turn on the game sound in the background and you can feel the energy that is unmatched in ANY other playoffs.

UEFA Champions League

UEFA-Champions-League-2015Futbol..football..soccer…the world sport may actually have the biggest event of all this week. Though here in the U.S there are relatively few who will give a care. This week is the semi-finals for the UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) which is taking place in Spain and Italy.

Three of the top teams in the world are involved in these two games and it should be some of the best soccer action we see all year. Real Madrid squares off against Juventus (from Italy) while Barcelona matches up against Bayern Munich.

These teams put some of the greatest sports stars in the world on the field and that in itself should be a must watch. Christiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar, Arjen Robben, Thomas Muller and Bastian Schweinsteiger are just a few of the names that will play in these matches. I’m no soccer guru but I know all of them as household names and four of the best teams in the world in on semi-final has to equal greatness. Right? We will find out next week. The games are on March 5th (Read Madrid at Juventus 8:00 pm ET) and March 6th (Bayern Munich at Barcelona 8:00 pm ET)

Fortunately they are on relatively slow nights for the next week and they are an absolute must watch for any true sports fan whether you like the sport or not. (I’m pulling for Bayern since my girlfriend is from Germany….though she hates Bayern….)

National Football League – Draft

So far we haven’t even touched on the event from the most popular sport in the Unitednfl-2014-nfl-draft25 States. Though it’s a highly overrated and not incredibly entertaining watch, the NFL draft is an immensely important few days for any die hard football fans. The future of every team could be changed for better or worse by each and every pick of the draft. The lives of these young men hang in the balance and the human drama is part of the huge draw of the goings on.

Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston and a few hundred names that only a handful of people know will have their fortune made or lost in just a few hours. ESPN has the complete coverage and at very least the first round on Thursday night is a must watch event of the year. Fans for every team in the league have something at stake and there’s just something about the nonstop coverage that’s addicting.  Coverage on the four letter network starts at maybe 11am but you won’t see a draft pick on Thursday until maybe 9:00pm ET. It’s a slow process and can get dry at times but still it’s one of those things that everyone will stop and watch and it’s maybe the most anticipated event of every Spring.

The Kentucky Derby

P5010190Of course on May 2nd we have the greatest two minutes in sports. The king of buildups and anticipation, culture and tradition, the Kentucky Derby.

Let’s be honest, horse racing is not hugely popular in America. In some circles and maybe in some states it’s bigger than others, but in general most folks couldn’t name a single horse in a single race of the year. That is until the Derby. One day of the year millions of people throughout the country are race fans and horses with crazy names have a chance to become part of legend. It’s an old sport, an old event and the tradition is unlike any other. The only comparison perhaps could be The Masters in Augusta as the first major golf tournament of the year. Still, it’s a day that stands by it’s own in terms of what it offers. Besides, who doesn’t like putting a few bucks on a horse named “Woah, Shut Up!”. Ha…..

Boxing – Mayweather/Pacquiao

Finally, the one event that I think puts this week into the discussion of greatest of all time. i6731_20140917223441The welterweight fight that folks have waited on for far too long is finally, finally here.

The fight that should have taken place five or even ten years ago has arrived and it should be good and could be great. Sure, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr are getting older ( 36 and 38 respectively) but it’s the most anticipated fight that I can remember. Since I was born in 1989, I haven’t gotten to experience many of the great boxing matches. The days of Frazier and Ali, Tyson and Holyfield are over and it’s been quite a while since an fight has had anticipation of any kind.

The drama before the fight has been nothing short of epic and drawn out for way too long. The accusations of drug usage, delay after delay after delay and finally the long awaited contract have made this a must watch over any other. So much so, the pay-per-view is costing each bar that chooses to purchase it, $30 per person. That’s per person that can POSSIBLY fit in the bar per fire code regulations and not just per person that shows up. A bit much? No doubt that some bars are still buying the package and will be packed beyond anything they’ve ever seen.

Like the Kentucky Derby this is a night that if you’re a boxing fan or if you’ve never seen a match in your life, you just must watch. It could possibly be the last great fight we see in ten years  because the sport is just simply not in good shape. There are no newcomers that have the household names of Mayweather and Pacquiao and it could be years and years before we see another match up like this one. Watch it if you can, enjoy it for what it is and appreciate that you may never again see another fight with the hype that this one has.

Wrap up

We’ve gone through seven of the biggest sports in the world and they all have some of their largest events THIS week. Baseball craziness, NHL and NBA Playoffs, NFL Draft, European Soccer Championship matches, The Kentucky Derby and the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight make this an absolutely insane week of sports.

If you can name a week that you can remember a week of anytime of any year that has more going on in the world of sports than this one, I’d love to hear it.

Whether agree or not that it’s the greatest week ever, sit back, relax, pack your fridge and get ready for one heck of a week of sports.

Leadership is the Key for the Denver Nuggets

2009NHLTeamsofDecade_btb_mainBelieve it or not, including all  four of the major sports in the Mile High City, the last championship trophy was lifted way back in 2001 (Avalanche Stanley Cup). Not a good number for a city that prides itself as a “sports town”.  It’s been almost fifteen years since any of the Denver teams have been world champions in anything other than soccer and fans are starting to get impatient.

For comparison, the city of Boston has nine championships since the year 2000. NINE! The Patriots have won four Super Bowls, The Red Sox have three World Series titles, and the Celtics and Bruins have one first place finish each to their names.
Most Denver sports fans don’t want to hear anything about New England teams and their success (many of their championships have at one point or another caused heartbreak here) but it’s a good comparison. Same amount of time, same (ish) amount of money and a relatively level playing field in all four sports. So…..
What does Boston have that Denver doesn’t?
What has put their sports teams head and shoulders above ours in terms of success?
Why do the Broncos, Rockies, Avalanche and Nuggets never seem to have the ‘IT” factor? Or at least not enough to win the biggest of games…
Some may say it’s all coincidence. Others will point out that it’s due to New England being on the East Coast and the city of Boston drawing more star players than our beloved “cow town”. Maybe, in some cases (Red Sox) it’s just simply about one team having more money that the other. All are likely factors but there’s another piece to the puzzle that is more important than money, location or luck.
“Leadership is severely, severely undervalued in sports and if you can find good leaders you’ve got to keep them.” – Chauncey Billups
The Patriots have Belicheat, Doc Rivers was with the Celtics and Francona and Theo Epstein for the Red Sox were all a huge part of the winning in the New England area since the turn of the century. You can also add in players like Tom Brady, Big Papi, Manny Ramirez Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to the list of factors, but attitude and leadership start at the top of any organization.
Denver Broncos vice-president John Elway explains his reaction to receiving the call from new quarterback Peyton Manning informing him of his decision to sign with the Broncos in EnglewoodThe Broncos saw a clear lack in leadership since John Elway’s playing days and knew that the one guy who could bring them back to winning ways was in fact, number seven himself, John Elway. The team sadly hasn’t won a Super Bowl (still too soon to talk about) but they have been headed in the right direction and hopefully will at least go out with a bang in Peyton Manning’s last year or two in the NFL.
The Avalanche did much the same as the Broncos in terms of changing their culture. They wanted a change in the top of their organization and decided to go with two heroes from the past to get the job done. Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy came to town and in one season turned the team into a playoff contender. Sadly, we know what happened from there and the first round playoff loss followed by this season of disappointment hasn’t left a great first impression of the new top dogs. Fortunately though, there is still a trustworthy duo of leadership atop the organization that gives Avs’ fans hope for the future of their team.
The Rockies….well they have a new GM in Jeff Bridich but it’s way too early to bring down any judgement on him or the new regime. They’re off to a hot start in 2015 but let’s hold our horses on the Rox and talk about them in a few months.
Finally I’ve come to the long awaited point of this post. The Denver Nuggets.

The Nuggets for a large portion of the last decade were led by head coach George Karl


(Elise Amendola, The Associated Press)

and his 2003 lottery pick from Syracuse, Carmelo Anthony. The pair never missed the playoffs but in the eight years they were together they made it past the opening round only once (2009 season). The success in 2009 was in large part due to the veteran point guard they had acquired in trade the year before with the Detroit Pistons. The home town kid, the 2004 NBA champion, “Mr Big Shot”, Chauncey Billups.

The closest to total victory the team had gotten in decades wasn’t when they traded for superstar, Allen Iverson or when they drafted a young College phenom in Anthony but rather when they picked up an aging point guard who had been labeled as the best player on a starless team after the 2004 championship. The old man on the team brought a new feeling of leadership and a calm, sensible voice in the locker room. A presence on and off the floor who earned instant respect and admiration from his teammates by his work ethic and personality, Billups was a breath of fresh air in Denver.
Washington Wizards v/s Denver Nuggets January 25, 2011Unfortunately for the folks in Denver, the fan favorite was unceremoniously traded to the Knicks along with Carmelo Anthony for Danilo Gallinari and a handful of other semi-decent players. The trade drastically changed the makeup of the team and though they made the playoffs the next several years, the high pace, high energy team never made it past the first round of the playoffs. George Karl was fired, Brian Shaw was hired and  the team quickly became the laughing stock of the NBA.
Shaw was fired after an embarrassing few months (or longer…I try to forget) and the hapless Nuggets finished the season 30-52 at the bottom of their Division. Melvin Hunt showed some grit and personality as the interim head coach but the the Denver basketball team seems to float now, completely rudderless, captainless and planless.
“When you’ve fallen like they’ve fallen, you need to take baby steps on your way to getting better.” – Chauncey Billups
Rumor has it that Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried and anyone NOT named Nurkic could be headed to the trading block this off season and no one really has a guess as to who will be the next head coach.
No coach, no direction and no stars is not where this once proud franchise wants to be. It’s a team that needs a face of the franchise, a name that players, coaches and fans can trust. The Denver Nuggets need their version of John Elway or Joe Sakic and the answer may be right in front of them.
“They’ve got some personnel decisions, some coaching decisions, some critical decisions that they have to make and I can tell you one thing, that Western Conference isn’t getting any worse.” – Chauncey Billups
The answer seems obvious to at least one casual observer. If the Nuggets want to regainimages success, respectability and leadership, they should look no further than THE hometown Denver hero, Chancey Billups.
All of Chauncey Billup’s quotes were taken from an interview on KKFN 104.3 the Fan in Denver, earlier this month.

Does Draft Round Matter for Quarterbacks – A Statistical Adventure

By the Caveman

The 2015 NFL Draft is nearly upon us. As is the norm in our quarterback-driven NFL, theJameis - Copy bad teams are looking to get a pigskin-flinger in the first round, while the adeptly-helmed teams discuss late-round QB picks to develop.

But is one approach better than the other? Much is made of Tom Brady being a lowly 6th-round pick with 4 Super Bowl victories to his name. And it seems that every year, multiple first round picks are busts for the desperate teams that draft them. My draft question (this is especially appropriate for the Denver Broncos and their soon-to-be void at QB): is it generally more successful to get early round or late-round/undrafted QB’s?

I started by ranking the QB’s who had significant playing time in 2014 (1,500+ yards passing…sorry, Johnny Manziel). I used QBR to rank them. I then plotted the draft round of each of those QB’s versus their ranking. If there was any statistical correlation between draft round and QB success in 2014, it would show up on the plot as a trend.

One note on the below plot: a point in the “8th round” simply means undrafted…it was the only easy way to manipulate the data in Excel.


The easiest way to read this graph is to start on the x-axis, from left to right. The best statistical QB in 2014 (Tony Romo of all people) is #1. He was undrafted, so he’s at 8 on the y-axis. The second-best was Aaron Rodgers: he’s #2 on the x-axis, and he’s a first-rounder on the y-axis. Etc., etc.

At first glance, it looks like there might be a slight trend – a lot of the best QB’s in 2014 were 1st round picks. Then the math started happening. The R2 value is a measure of how well a trend line fits to a data set. If the R2 value is 0, there is absolutely no correlation. If it is 1, there is perfect correlation. In this case, R2 = 0.0038…which means there is no correlation whatsoever. My takeaways from this:

  1. There is no correlation between QB performance and round drafted for starting QB’s.
  2. Over 50% of the starting QB’s in 2014 were first round draft picks.
  • This suggests that my initial approach was misplaced – my data doesn’t take into account all of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. round picks that aren’t good enough to start in the first place.

So, did I just waste all your time and mine? Not so fast – this “worthless” data actually tells us something. We either need to take into account all of the QB’s drafted who don’t start, or we need to narrow the data down to a more specific set with fewer variables.

Because it’s less work, I of course chose the latter.

What is a simple way in which to determine the worth of a QB? If we could just take one measurable and apply it to QB’s by draft round, what would that be? All die-hard football fans will agree with me on the most important valuation: Super Bowl victories.

A simple plot of the last 10 Super Bowl winning QB’s by the round in which they were drafted looks like this:


Boom. 7 out of the past 10 Super Bowls were won by 1st round QB’s. Obviously, there’s something to be said for the evaluation of scouts and teams who take these guys with their first pick in the draft. Maybe the NFL Draft is a bit more than a crapshoot after all!

That’s all I have for now. This whole post is very much me thinking out loud. I would apologize for wasting your time, but really – did you have anything better to do?