Five Teams, Nine Spots

Five Teams, Nine Spots

AFC Preview(Part One)
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For what has to be the millionth straight year, you can expect the AFC to run through New England.

The rules of logic and age thus far do not appear to apply to sir Tom Brady. If last year was any indication, he might even be getting better as he inches closer to 40. If last year did teach us anything else, it was that father time is undefeated in sports, with its latest victory over Brady’s greatest rival, Peyton Manning. But as unforgiving as time is, it is still on number twelves side. So like as the Patriots field the greatest coach, quarterback, and tight end in history, they are a near lock to appear in their sixth straight AFC Championship, suspensions be damned.

But what about the rest of the conference? The NFL is all about parity, and with the salary cap and the structure of the NFL Draft, it’s tough to stay too good for too long. The reality of the NFL is that there is a thin line between a 10-6 team and a 6-10 one. This year, there seems to be a massive middle group vying for a chance to knock New England off of its throne, but only so many of them will have a chance in January with only six playoff spots to go around, with one of them reserved for those Patriots. This year, nine teams look like they are poised to duke it out for them. Nine teams, five spots.

Teams are listed in order of how strong they look headed into the season. Any one of them could be a breakout away from a Super Bowl trip or an injury away from blowing up the machine. Today I’ll look at just how life could go so well or so wrong for them. Let the games begin.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Luck never seems to favor the Steel City. If not for the absence of Pro Bowl talent in Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers would be considered immune like New England behind the best quartet of offensive talent the NFL has seen in years.

Poll Points

  • Can Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown stay healthy all year?
  • Will DeAngelo Williams be able to carry the ground game over the first month?
  • Can someone step up in the young, patchwork secondary?

Prediction:12-4, 2nd Seed in AFC, Super Bowl Berth

Cincinnati Bengals

Oh the Bengals. Five straight playoff trips, five straight one and done trips. Just when it looked like Andy Dalton was ready to take the next step, he suffered a key injury down the stretch and the team fell at the hands of their most hated rival. This year, they have to prove to us all that they deserve to be taken seriously.

Poll Points

  • Will Dalton sink the team with the inconsistency of his first four years?
  • Who will step up to fill the void with Tyler Eifert injured and Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu gone?
  • Is this a team that can win big games?

Prediction: 11-5, 5th Seed, Wild Card Loss

Chiefs

The Chiefs certainly seem to have taken on the personality of their third year coach, Andy Reid. Quiet, not flashy, but good enough to get the job done. They don’t get the talk of the Broncos or Seahawks, but this defense has the potential to take over games week in and week out. The offense just has to keep afloat.

Poll Points

  • Will Justin Houston be the same player coming off of an ACL tear?
  • Is Marcus Peters ready to jump into the upper echelon of cornerbacks?
  • Can Jamaal Charles carry an offense with a vertically challenged passing game at age 30 after a torn ACL?

Prediction: 11-5, 3rd Seed, Wild Card Loss

Colts

In a Super Bowl or Bust season, the Colt’s face planted publicly and horribly and somehow escaped with their dignity, as well as front office stability. After being trendy picks to win it all a year ago, Indianapolis is flying under the radar in what looks to be a more competitive AFC South. They may be the single least balanced team in the conference, with an offense set to return to its 2014 heights and a defense suspiciously void of playmakers.

Poll Points

Can Offensive Coordinator Rob Chudzinski finally scheme up a way to protect Andrew Luck?

Who is rushing the passer on this talent-challenged defense?

Is Frank Gore still a viable starting running back at age 33?

Prediction: 11-5, 4th Seed, Divisional Playoff Loss

Broncos

The Broncos have faced more offseason turnover than any other Super Bowl Champion in recent memory. New quarterback, retooled offensive line, and out their top inside linebacker and defensive lineman, with their number one cornerback in question. John Elway deserves all the credit for building a championship roster on the fly with an aging Peyton Manning, but even he might not be enough to get this team back to January.

Poll Points

  • Umm….quarterback?
  • Can the defense rely on as many points off of turnovers as it did last year?
  • Can Bradley Roby live up to the billing as a top tier corner with Aqib Talib potentially gone?

Prediction: 8-8, Out of the playoffs

Texans

30-0. That score haunted the Texans all offseason as they completely reinvented their offensive identity, injecting a dosage of speed and name-recognition into an offense that relied on gadget plays and 50-50 balls to Deandre Hopkins last year. It could be argued that the team would have changed less if they missed the tournament altogether. General Manager Rick Smith is pushing all of his chips to the center, and nothing less than another division title is acceptable.

Poll Points

  • Can Brock Osweiler do enough to justify the massive contract that the team gave him?
  • Will Lamar Miller justify the offseason buzz and become a centerpiece of the new-look offense?
  • Can JaDeveon Clowney stay healthy and play up to his potential as a former number one overall pick?

Prediction: 10-6, Out of the playoffs

Raiders

The Raiders have been a model of patience, draft and development, and how all of the lies that teams tell their fans through their teeth in the offseason can actually work. Like the Vikings a year ago, a promising young quarterback and a now exciting defense have lead this downtrodden franchise to be a trendy playoff pick among analysts. They’ve put together the best offensive line west of Dallas, added chess pieces on defense, and suffered no major losses. What could go wrong?

Poll Points

  • Is Latavius Murray the kind of running back that can carry a running game for sixteen weeks?
  • How soon can Karl Joseph become a difference maker on defense?
  • Are Derek Carr and Amari Cooper the players from the stars of the first half of last year or the ones who sunk the offense down the stretch?

Prediction: 10-6, 6th Seed, Divisional Playoff Loss

Jets

As if any of us cared in the first place, the tiresome Ryan Fitzpatrick negotiations have finally come to an end and we as the public have finally been freed from this nonsense. General Manager Mike Maccagnan remade a depressing roster in a year, but it’s easy to forget that this was a 4-12 team in 2014 that is relying on 30-something stars to headline their team and repeat last years performance. As the season finale reminded us, these may be the Same Old Jets.

Poll Points

Can teams catch up to Chan Gailey’s spread offense in year two?

Is Darrelle Revis still a shutdown cornerback after being burned one too many times last year?

Can Matt Forte still be a high end playmaker on his second team and third contract?

Prediction: 7-9, Out of the playoffs





Cover Image Credit: Post Gazette

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I'd Rather Be Single Than Settle – Here Is Why Being Picky Is Okay

They're on their best behavior when you're dating.
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Dating nowadays described in one word: annoying.

What's even more annoying? when people tell you that you're being too "picky" when it comes to dating. Yes, from an outside perspective sometimes that's exactly what it looks like; however, when looking at it from my perspective it all makes sense.

I've heard it all:

"He was cute, why didn't you like him?"

"You didn't even give him a chance!"

"You pay too much attention to the little things!"

What people don't understand is that it's OKAY to be picky when it comes to guys. For some reason, girls in college freak out and think they're supposed to have a boyfriend by now, be engaged by the time they graduate, etc. It's all a little ridiculous.

However, I refuse to put myself on a time table such as this due to the fact that these girls who feel this way are left with no choice but to overlook the things in guys that they shouldn't be overlooking, they're settling and this is something that I refuse to do.

So this leaves the big question: What am I waiting for?

Well, I'm waiting for a guy who...

1. Wants to know my friends.

Blessed doesn't even begin to describe how lucky I am to have the friends that I do.

I want a guy who can hang out with my friends. If a guy makes an effort to impress your friends then that says a lot about him and how he feels about you. This not only shows that he cares about you but he cares about the people in your life as well.

Someone should be happy to see you happy and your friends contribute to that happiness, therefore, they should be nothing more than supportive and caring towards you and your friendships.

2. Actually, cares to get to know me.

Although this is a very broad statement, this is the most important one. A guy should want to know all about you. He should want to know your favorite movie, favorite ice cream flavor, favorite Netflix series, etc. Often, (the guys I get stuck on dates with) love to talk about themselves: they would rather tell you about what workout they did yesterday, what their job is, and what they like to do rather than get to know you.

This is something easy to spot on the first date, so although they may be "cute," you should probably drop them if you leave your date and can recite everything about their life since the day they were born, yet they didn't catch what your last name was.

3. How they talk about other women.

It does not matter who they're talking about, if they call their ex-girlfriend crazy we all know she probably isn't and if she is it's probably their fault.

If they talk bad about their mom, let's be honest, if they're disrespecting their mother they're not going to respect you either. If they mention a girl's physical appearances when describing them. For example, "yeah, I think our waitress is that blonde chick with the big boobs"

Well if that doesn't hint they're a complete f* boy then I don't know what else to tell you. And most importantly calling other women "bitches" that's just disrespectful.

Needless to say, if his conversations are similar to ones you'd hear in a frat house, ditch him.

4. Phone etiquette.

If he can't put his phone down long enough to take you to dinner then he doesn't deserve for you to be sitting across from him.

If a guy is serious about you he's going to give you his undivided attention and he's going to do whatever it takes to impress you and checking Snapchat on a date is not impressive. Also, notice if his phone is facedown, then there's most likely a reason for it.

He doesn't trust who or what could pop up on there and he clearly doesn't want you seeing. Although I'm not particularly interested in what's popping up on their phones, putting them face down says more about the guy than you think it does.

To reiterate, it's okay to be picky ladies, you're young, there's no rush.

Remember these tips next time you're on a date or seeing someone, and keep in mind: they're on their best behavior when you're dating. Then ask yourself, what will they be like when they're comfortable? Years down the road? Is this what I really want? If you ask yourself these questions you might be down the same road I have stumbled upon, being too picky.. and that's better than settling.

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Andy Ruiz Jr. May Not Look Like The Typical Boxer, But It Doesn't Make His Victory Any Less Deserved

Andy Ruiz Jr. just proved that dreams can come true.

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On June 1, boxing fans witnessed something special as Andy 'Destroyer' Ruiz Jr. defeated Anthony Joshua via TKO after going seven rounds in the ring at Madison Square Garden in New York City to become the first ever Mexican-American heavyweight champion of the world. Ruiz Jr. (33-1) was a heavy underdog (+1100) heading into the match-up with Joshua (22-1) but ultimately flipped the script to hand the British fighter his first professional loss ever. Surely the fight will go down as one of the greatest moments in sports history.

Some members of the media and fans have been quick to label the fight as a 'fluke' and 'rigged' which in the end is no surprise to me. That always happens in the sports world. Many did not believe we would get this result yet failed to remember the one rule of sports -- expect the unexpected. Over the past week, I've been coming to the defense of Ruiz Jr. in the wake of others choosing to call him a joke.

I was shocked and surprised to hear two of my favorite sports analysts, Stephen A. Smith and Shannon Sharpe, make fun of Ruiz Jr. and frame him as just a guy that looked like 'Butterbean.' When I viewed their tweets on social media it honestly made me upset. Sure, Ruiz Jr. may not have fit the mold of what a professional boxer should look like, but they simply should not have just judged a book by its cover.

Personally, I thought it was disrespectful for Smith and Sharpe to throw shade at Ruiz Jr. in the way they did. I felt like they should have done a better job of acknowledging the winner considering the result of the match. Yet choosing to bash someone because of their physical composition appeared like a low blow. The very foundation of sports allows people of all shapes, sizes, genders, races, and backgrounds to compete -- that's why most people follow them in the first place.

Smith was open behind his reasoning for his tweets in which I'd like to shed some light on. Smith was upset about how boxing time after time contains elements of corruption with fans having to wait years until promoters schedule big fights. He along with other followers of the sport were looking forward to the highly anticipated yet potential future match-up between Joshua and fellow heavyweight Deontay Wilder. Smith believes that by Ruiz Jr. beating Joshua it essentially diminished the chances of that fight ever happening with the same amount of buildup, but that still doesn't provide any excuse for mocking the new heavyweight champ.

Ruiz Jr. was there for a reason and ultimately seized the opportunity that was right in front of him -- that's not his fault for getting the job done. Just because someone doesn't look like the part doesn't mean they don't possess the same qualities and characteristics as their counterparts. The following pair of videos display the amount of talent Ruiz Jr. does have in the ring. Even fellow boxer Canelo Alvarez and former UFC lightweight/featherweight champion Conor McGregor acknowledge that and have come out to say something on their behalf.

Unfortunately, I don't expect much to change because most will stand their ground and continue to behave the same way. All I'm saying is I did not enjoy some of the top figures within sports media stereotyping Ruiz Jr. based on his looks. I would think that we would be better than that and recognize that anyone can accomplish something great in this world. It all just starts with a simple dream.

I understand and respect other people's takes on this subject, maybe I'm looking into things deeper than what they are, but it struck a chord with me and I felt the need to say something about it.

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