NCAAF Pick ATS Week 8

Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles at Liberty Flames -10

Libety is 5-0 for the first time since 2008. Their offense has been impressive averaging 34 ppg.  The running attack has been carrying the load, averaging 269 yard per game.  The difficulty of the Flames is they consistently varry up their looks.  They have a four-headed monster Joshua Mack (359 yards 6.1 AVG, 1TD), Shedro Louis (310 yards, 9.4 AVG, 3 TDs), Peyton Pickett (293 yards, 5.0 AVG, 3 TD), quarterback Malik Willis who has a team-best 398 yards and five touchdowns.  The run game will be a huge factor against Southern Mississippi, they give up 5.7 yards per attempt this season.  

Southern Mississippi has been living through the air.  69% of their offensive plays have come by way of the pass.  Liberty is 4th in the nation in stopping the big pass play, holding opposing teams to just 5.5 yards per attempt.  

Liberty has not played a great schedule but they have a lot of momentum after stomping Syracuse last week.  This is a great matchup for the Flames and they should be able to do whatever they want on offense. 

Pick: Liberty Flames -10

Houston Cougars -14 at Navy Midshipmen

Houston got run over by Zach Wilson and BYU last week giving up yards by the plenty.  Navy has tons of momentum coming off of a win over East Carolina last week, their third in a row.  Navy has seen a carousel at QB but it hasn’t stopped the offensive game plan for Navy.  They want to run the ball and that is what they have been doing.  They have averaged 191 rush yards per game.  They will have Tyger Goslin at QB which means they will continue to pound the run game on Houston looking to control the clock. 

Houston has a dynamic offense led by QB Clayton Tune.  They were able to go shot for shot with BYU until the 4th quarter.  It will be vital for Houston to take advantage of their time with the ball as they will struggle to stop the run game.  Houston likely pulls this one out because of Clayton Tune but they will not have an easy go on the road.  Houston wins, but 14 is too many points. 

Pick: Navy Midshipmen +14

Cincinnati Bearcats +2.5 at SMU Mustangs 

SMU is 5-0, featuring one of the most powerful offenses in college football.  The Mustangs rank ninth in the nation in scoring (40.9 per game).  They have done that against mediocre defenese to say the least.  They will now get one of the best defenses in the country coming off of a week off due to Covid-19 issues.  

While SMU is unbeaten they have not faced the competition they will face on Saturday.  Cincinnati has held teams to just 306 yards per game good for 12th in the nation.  SMU’s Shane Buechele has been on fire but he will be without his top target Reggie Roberson.  Without Roberson, SMU could have trouble doing the things that they want to do. Their 406 passing yards per game has allowed them to overcome defensive issues. No Roberson will hurt the game plan. 

Cincinnati will try to limit the decisions for Ridder by running the ball against the subpar defense of  SMU.  They give up 170 yards per game on the ground.  The Bearcats have been great with 121 carries for 534 yards and 7 touchdowns.  

The rested Cincy defense and the run game will be enough to take down SMU on the road.  May as well take the points to be safe.    

Pick: Cincinnati Bearcats +2.5 

Overall Season Picks Record: 4-2

Titans offense is the best in the league.

Are Titans the best offense in the league?

The Titans are 5-0.  Along with the Steelers and the Seahawks they are the only teams in the league with a still undefeated mark.  They have built their team around an offense that has been impossible to stop. Despite not featuring the premier names in the league they have built an offense that has a bit of old school in it while constantly evolving into the trends of the league. 

Tennessee features an offense that can do anything it wants to move the ball.  Ryan Tannahill has broken away from the cesspool that was Adam Gase to finally meet the expectations of a former first round draft pick. Ryan Tannahill since being named starter in 2019 (Week 7) has led the league in touchdown passes (40), and yards per attempt (8.6 YPA). He has the 4th highest QBR of the season (83.3), that puts him in front of Russell Wilson, Lamar Jackson, and Kyer Murray.  His ability to throw on the move and develop with the young receivers has made him an unstoppable force in a league that is seeing a boom in athletic quarterback play.  He has made stars of players that most teams had overlooked, AJ Brown and Jonnu Smith have emerged in this dynamic offense because Tannahill has led them to this point.  His trust in his receiving core allows him to make plays that we had not seen early in his career.  Looking at the highlights from Sunday’s victory over the Texans shows a couple of plays that utilizes his mobility (watch 2:19) and his trust of second year star AJ Brown (watch at 13:14). 

Highlights from Texans/Titans:

The Titans offense is built around the bell cow Derrick Henry.  Everyone knows he is going to get the ball but stopping him is another story.  His bruising runs punish opposing defenses to the point where they are forced to sell out to stopping him.  He currently leads the league in rushing yards by 100 more yards than the next ranked player.  He is as dominant as any player we have ever seen in the league.  The Titans added another weapon in the backfield, Jeremy McNichols, the 2017 fifth round pick out of Boise State brings a different tempo to the field when he is in the game.  He has a lot of Dion Lewis/James White in him.  He is a perfect fit to change the pace up when Henry gets a breather.  

The Titans offense is a throwback, built around the run to open up the pass.They have been able to run this efficient offesne despite being held backby multiple Covid-19 issues.  Wide receivers Adam Humphries and Corey Davis have missed time but they will all be healthy soon and this offense will continue to thrive. They are backed up by a coach that has all the confidence in his team that will allow them to go out and take chances.  The Titans are no longer a run first team that can’t be successful without Derrick Henry.  This is a team that can match up with the powerful offesnes of the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Titans are a real threat in the AFC, this offense is going to be tough to stop.

NCAAF Picks ATS Oct.14

Navy Midshipmen -2 at East Carolina Pirates

East Carolina has given up a lot og yards on the ground.  The Pirates rank 126th in the nation against the run.  The bread and butter of the Navy offense is on the ground.  Navy’s ability to run will allow them to control the clock and keep the high powered East Carolina offense off the field. 

Navy has had great success over their conference going 5-0 ATS in their last five games.  East Carolina is just 1-9 straight up in their last ten. Navy’s run game will be too much to handle, they win this one easily due to their ball control.  

Pick: Navy -2

Clemson Tigers at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Both teams are coming off of great offensive showings last week.  Georgia Tech put up 46 points versus the Louisville Cardinals, while Clemson continued their dominance putting up 41 against Virginia and 42 against Miami. These two teams have the ability to run and control the clock but they still move quickly and pick up yards in chunks.  Clemson ranks 10th in yards per play while Georgia Tech surprisingly ranks 28th.  

Clemson is a 27 point favorite in this game and they will likely be emptying the bench in the 4th quarter.  They will be able to coast at the end which will provide the opportunity for the Yellow Jackets to put up some points late in the game.  This one should be a scoring factory.  Lots of points and a blow out.

Pick: Over 64

North Carolina Tarheels -13.5 at Florida State Seminoles

Living in a world of North Carolina being a double digit favorite on the road against Florida State is the world we live in right now.  The Tarheels come into this matchup looking to continue to establish themselves as a serious contender in the ACC.  The Seminoles are just looking to salvage a bit of credibility as they continue to rebuild.  

Florida State replaced James Blackmon at QB with versatile sophomore Jordan Travis.  He showed signs of life from the Seminole offense, outscoring powerhouse Notre Dame in the first quarter until reality took over and Notre Dame blew them out the rest of the way. Travis though will likely not be able to play on Saturday which means they have to go back to Blackmon which has been less than successful. 

Florida State gave up 353 rushing yards to Notre Dame last week and now have to go up against the two headed monster Michael Carter and Javonte Williams.  Combined they have rushed for almost 700 yards and eight touchdowns.  The Tarheels need to not only win this game but do it in convincing fashion.  They will roll over the Seminoles by three touchdowns. 

Picks: North Carolina -13.5

Overall Season Picks Record: 2-1

Braves vs Dodgers; NLCS Preview and Prediction

The matchup of the two best teams in the national league will culminate in an epic showdown in the NLCS.  Both teams have gone undefeated throughout the first two rounds, they both feature great offenses and marquee names.  These teams have a history of winning, but not a recent history of winning the big one.  What will be the difference?  Let’s break it down. 

Can Braves pitching face the challenge?

Atlanta took some blows to their pitching staff throughout the season.  Losing offseason signees Felix Hernandez and Cole Hamels, one to injury and one to Covid worry set the Braves back right away.  The rapid decline of Mike Foltynewicz took another name off the table almost immediately into 2020.  The final straw in the deterioration of the staff was losing ace Mike Soroka to an achilles injury. 

Max Fried stepped up during the regular season. Despite getting knocked around in the NLDS he is still the clear #1 for the Braves.  Fried has limited hard contact all season holding opposing lineups to just a 23% rate.  The Dodgers are not a heavy strikeout team so limiting the contact will be important.  

Rookie Ian Anderson has been overwhelming to start his career.  He has held opposing hitters power in check so far giving up just a .7% homerun rate.  That ranks #1 in the league for any pitcher that has faced at least 156 hitters.  Anderson’s changeup has kept hitters off balance, as long as he continues to hit the strike zone and avoid free passes he matches up well with the Dodgers front line starters.  

The depth of the Braves bullpen has bailed them out from their injuries. Tyler Matzek, Will Smith, Darren O’Day and Mark Melancon all have been great with sub 3.00 ERA’s in at least 18 appearances each.  They have to ride the bullpen arms to overcome their young rotation that will have problems with the Dodgers patience at the plate. 

The Dodgers offense is matchup proof.

Los Angeles has the best offense in the league in every advanced statistic.  They have a wRC+ of 122, along with the Mets as the best in the league.  What makes the Dodgers extremely dangerous is their ability to score without utilizing the homerun.  They showed in the Padres series they have multiple ways of manufacturing runs.  There is not one person on the team that beats you, it could be anyone. 

The Braves feature an extremely young pitching staff that will have to throw strikes. The Braves sit at the bottom five in steals allowed per game.  The Dodgers will have a chance to make things happen when they get on base. 

The Braves are in the bottom five in stolen bases against during the season. The Dodgers have multiple players that can take advantage of the Braves issues with runners on.  Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, and Cody Bellinger are just a few that can swip a bag at any moment.  LA will make it tough for Atlanta as they also feature a low strikeout rate.  The power is real, accompanied by the ability to use their contact ability speed to cause trouble.  

Who will win?

Both teams feature the best offenses in the National League.  The Braves however will feature a rotation that includes Kyle Wright….and nothing else.  The Dodgers feature a perfect matchup with the Braves bats Julio Urias and Dustin May both feature great movement on their pitches that will be a problem for Atlanta bats.  The depth of the Dodgers pitching will ultimately outmatch the Braves.  

Dodgers in 5

NCAAF Picks ATS Oct 10

Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks at Liberty Flames -19

The Liberty Flames offense is overwhelming.  They average 81 plays per game, which is top 15 in all of college football. Dual threat quarterback Mailk Willis had the offense moving in their week one upset of Western Kentucky.  The Auburn transfer rushed for 168 yards and 3 touchdowns in against the Hilltoppers leading to a victory as 14.5 point dogs.  

The Flames followed up their upset victory with two more wins over Nortern Alabama and FIU. Both games missed the cover but the momentum of the victories should have them ready to take care of business against the lowly Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. ULM gives up rushing yards in bunches ranking 127th in college football against the run.  Willis should be able to control the game with his ability to run and his sneaky passing attack.  

Liberty is a veteran team that has won seven consecutive games at home dating back to last year and they will not look past ULM.  ULM is just 5-13 ATS in their last 18 games at home. 

Pick: Liberty -19

Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma Sooners -2.5 

Two teams that have underperformed to start the season meet in a rivalry game that will have a lot less impact on the college football playoff than most would have thought at the beginning of the season.   These two teams are both in need of a win and a statement game.  

Sooner redshirt freshman Spencer Rattler has been a roller coaster in his first three starts throwing for 290, 387, and 300.  He has had a problem with turnovers in the clutch with four picks against Big 12 opponents.  The pressure will be on in his first go round in the Red River Showdown.  His matchup with the Texas Longhorns will be favorable. Texas is coming off back to back games giving up 56 and 33 to Texas Tech and TCU respectively.  

Texas will have senior Sam Ehlinger running the offense looking for a big win in his final showdown with Oklahoma. The Texas offense is averaging 518 yards and 51 points per game.  Oklahoma has not shown the ability to stop anyone this season and a veteran team that is desperete for a win will be a problem.  

Both teams have great offenses, they will show them off this weekend.  I look for Ehlinger to make the big play down the stretch to win but I am more comfortable with taking the over. 

Pick: Over 72 (lean Texas ML)

LSU Tigers -14 at Missouri Tigers 

This game was supposed to be played at Baton Rouge, due to hurricane Delta this game was moved to Columbia, Missouri.  The move caused a line change from -20 to -14.  Missouri is 1-9 ATS in their last ten games.  They have given up 35 and 38 respectively over their last two games.  Matching up with an LSU offense that isn’t the same national title contending group but they are still no walk in the park. 

Missouri found some offense once they inserted Connor Bazelak into the lineup over TCU transfer Shawn Robinson. They will have to be on their game early because if they let LSU grab a lead they still haven’t figured out how to turn yardage into touchdowns.   

Missouri’s inability to get stops on third down crushed them last week against Tennessee.  If they can’t get off the field their defense will wear down. LSU QB Myles Brennan has thrown for 330 or over in each game along with seven touchdowns   If he finds it early and grabs a lead they will coast the rest of the way. 

Pick: LSU -14

Ranking top three offensive free agents for the St. Louis Caridnals

The Cardinals offense sucked in 2020.  There were a lot of factors that played into that, including the long layoff from positive Covid tests but, to be honest they were not much better in 2019.  Heading into the 2021 the rotation and bullpen is loaded with options that are above league average.  The biggest need will be on the offensive side of the ball.  The upcoming offseason doesn’ feature the Manny Machado, Bryce Harper or Mike Trout’s that the fanbase would crave over but there are some options that can bring some much needed production to the lineup. 

This list is focusing on just the offensive free agents.  Guys like Liam Hendricks, and Trevor Bauer (whom both should be on the Cardinals radar) will be completely excluded from this list  

3. DJ LeMahieu, 32, INF

Who wouldn’t want a two-time batting champion with position versatility?  No one is the answer.  The reason LeMahieu isn’t number one on this list is that he has already verbally stated that he wants to resign with the Yankees. 

LeMahieu has the ability to play every infield spot including SS if in a bind and he can do it at a high level. His batting statistics jump at you but quietly he has amassed a nice collection of gold gloves (3) in his career. After two terrific seasons in New York amassing a WRC+ of 135 and 177 respectively.

The experiment of Paul DeJong at shortstop has been unsuccessful.  DeJong’s power has shown through his career hitting 35,19, and 30 homers over the last three seasons before 2020.  Moving DeJong to the bench, would be the best option for the team.  Resigning Kolten Wong, moving Tommy Edman to shortstop and having LeMahieu at third would be the best option for the team.  

2. Nelson Cruz, 40, DH

The DH in the national league is here to stay. The Cardinals have a chance to add a monster bat and not hurt themselves on the defense.  The ageless wonder Nelson Cruz is the answer to all the problems that you have in the ISO department. Since 2014 Nelson Cruz’s ISO has not gone below .250.  In comparison the highest Cardinals outfielder ISO was Harrison Bader at just .217.  St. Louis needs power and they need it badly.  With a team slugging percentage of .373 they rank 27th in the entire league.  

The protection of Nelson Cruz can open up a lot of possibilities in the Cardinals lineup.  Their lone star Paul Goldschmidt has had literally no protection behind him, with the Cardinals cleanup hitters in the bottom five in every offensive category. Cruz is the perfect fit for the Cardinals because he brings one thing to the table and that is power.  It is exactly what the Cardinals need; he can be gotten at an affordable price for a likely one-year deal. 

1. Marcell Ozuna, 30, OF/DH

Marcell Ozuna’s first go round with the Cardinals wasn’t ideal.  His two seasons with the redbirds Ozuna saw just a grand total of just .777.  Ozuna played his Cardinals tenure with a serious shoulder injury that held back his offensive abilities.  

Ozuna took a shot on himself signing a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves. Through sixty games Ozuna not only put himself in the conversation for the MVP, but his protection for Freddie Freeman took his ability to the next level. Ozuna led the National League in homers, RBI, and total bases.  A motivated Marcell Ozuna can be a game changer the Cardinals thought they had traded for. 

A second go around in St. Louis doesn’t seem likely but on the list of things that Cardinals need he fits the bill.  A contract of four years and $125 million would be the likely number that would bring him in, at just 30 years old he is still young enough that the Cardinals can have him for the prime years of his career. He can be the staple of the offense along with Paul Goldschmidt and the newly emerging Dylan Carlson.  A core lineup featuring those three can immediately make them a contender.  

Preview and Predictions for AL first round.

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Toronto Blue Jays

The Tampa Bay Rays took the #1 seed in the American League by playing every matchup perfectly throughout the season.  Dealing with injuries up and down the lineup and rotation they seemed to find the right mixes to be successful no matter what.  They will face an opponent that knows them very well in the Toronto Blue Jays.  

The Blue Jays have a powerful lineup, seeing a surge from Lourdes Gourriel Jr. over the last month to go along with Bo Bichette, Vlad Guerrero and Teoscar Hernandez.  Toronto actually has the advantage on the offensive side, averaging 5 runs per game.  The Blue Jays offense will be the lone advantage they have in this series.

Tampa Bay marches out a rotation of Blake Snell in GM1, Tyler Glasnow in GM2 and Charlie Morton in GM3.  Their rotation along with the best bullpen in baseball will be enough to hold down the Toronto offense.  Tampa Bay’s offense plays the matchup game very well and will be too much for the Blue Jays. Toronto’s best chance will be in game two when they have off-season signing Hyun Jin Ryu who brings some experience in a playoff setting, but the Rays have some great right-handed bats that will thrive. Rays are built for this situation. 

Pick: Rays in 2

Cleveland Indians vs. New York Yankees

The Yankees narrowly avoided a matchup with their “daddys” in 2020 the Tampa Bay Rays.  Instead they get the Cleveland Indians and potential MVP and guaranteed Cy Young winner Shane Bieber in game one.  Bieber versus Cole in game one will be a classic matchup of two bulldog pitchers that will go deep in the game and the first one to miss a spot is going to likely give up the game. The big problem for the Indians is that their lineup doesn’t feature nearly the amount of hitters that can provide the big pop when needed. 

Cleveland’s pitching will give them a chance but their team batting average of .228 and a major lack of power ranking 27th in the league in team ISO.  Jose Ramirez has carried the offense of late but he will need help against the powerful Yankee bats.  New York is healthy again and has the horses in the bullpen to clean up any trouble the starters run into.  Indians don’t have enough to pull this one out. 

Pick: Yankees in 3

Minnesota Twins vs. Houston Astros

The Twins have not won a playoff game in a very long time, losing 16 straight playoff games dating back to 2004.  This series should give the Twins their first game win and series win.  The Astros have dealt with a loss of injuries in 2020, yet somehow found themselves in the playoff due the new expansion. Houston has been offensively challenged at times in 2020.  Recently seeing a resurgence of power with George Springer and Alex Bregman.  Still the Astros have a team ISO ranking 18th in the league and team batting average of .240 ranking 20th in the league.  

Minnesota has the advantage with their rotation for the first two games going with Kenta Maeda and Jose Berrios in the first two games.  At this point the Astros have only announced Zack Greinke as their game one starter with the other TBD.  Minnesota loves right handed pitching, as a team they are #1 in the league in overall home run percentage versus righties.  That is a big factor in the Minnesota offense as they are a team that thrives on scoring runs due to the long ball.  

The Astros haven’t announced who will start game 2 or game 3 yet, my money would go on Framber Valdez to offset Minnesota’s dominant numbers against right handed pitching. The Twins have more depth in the bullpen, rotation and lineup.  They have to get over the mental hump of consistent playoff losses.  They have the talent and should make quick work of the injury riddled Houston Astros. 

Pick: Twins in 2

Oakland Athletics vs Chicago White Sox

I’ve reviewed the Oakland Athletics numbers over and over again and still can’t figure out how the Athletics score runs.  Horrible seasons from Matt Olson, Khris Davis, Marcus Semien and Ramon Laureano, coupled with losing Matt Chapman for the season has left the lineup underwhelming. The pitching staff has stepped up to mask the offensive problems.  The Athletics bullpen has been impressive, leading to the Athletics having a record of 27-0 when leading after the 7th inning.  Liam Hendricks, Yusmeiro Petit, and Jake Diekmann have been lights out for the Athletics all season.  

The Athletics are going to go with Sean Manaea in game one despite the immaculate White Sox record against left-handed pitching. Breakout starter Chris Bassit will likely pitch game 2. Oakland is going to have to get a lead early and that will be tough against the White Sox top two starters Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel. 

The White Sox offense is better in nearly every single position bat for bat and if they are able to grab a lead I can’t see the Athletics offense being able to come back.   Chicago has found a niche in the back end with Alex Colome being set up by Matt Foster, Aaron Bummer and their new weapon rookie Garrett Crochet.  The White Sox have more talent and better pitching.  The Athletics have the experience.  The talent will win out in a short series.  

NFL coaches that have to be fired.

Football is always built around overreactions.  The shortest professional sports season means every game is given ample time to critique each and every decision.  Coaching careers can be dictated by their ways of adjusting from week to week.  

Matt Patricia – Detroit Lions

I believed that Matt Patricia was going to finally commit to the run last year. Kerryon Johnson looked like a future star that could take a lot of the pressure off of Mattew Stafford.  Utilizing the run has all but disappeared due to the lack of the ever having an actual lead.  

Patricia’s record is a  dismal 9 – 23 since taking over in 2018.  While win/loss records can have asterisks needed around them due to injuries, notably last year, when Mathew Stafford missed most of the regular season it’s the complete ineptitude of the Lions on the defensive end that has to force the hand of the organization.  Patricia came to Detroit as the former defensive coordinator of the vaunted Patriots.  In his first season with Detroit the Lions ranked 16th in overall team defense.  It was middle of the pack and somewhat acceptable in his first season.  In year number two The Lions declined to 26th in the league.  

The Lions collapse in the 4th quarter of game one of the season was an example of the decline of the organization.  The Lions continually add talent to the team on both ends of the ball but the leadership has not been able to find the right mix to be successful.  The NFC North has been up for the taking over the last few seasons, but the Lions continue to take no steps forward.  

Dan Quinn – Atlanta Falcons

Dan Quinn has been in Atlanta for six years. He took them to a superbowl in 2016 where they infamously blew a lead to Tom Brady and the Patriots. Quinn followed up the superbowl appearance with a 10-6 record in 2017.   Since then the Falcons are 14-18 and have lost games in ways that will make their teams puke.  

Atlanta has wasted one of the best offenses in the league over the last two years.  In 2018 the Falcons actually ranked top ten in the league in total defense but they gave up a staggering 401 yards per game. The defense was way worse in 2019 and has continued to give up yards in the first two games of 2020.  They inexplicably play man to man coverage allowing teams to pick apart the secondary of their choosing.  The lack of defensive adjustments is staggering to watch.  

The Falcons blew a lead to the Dallas Cowboys this weekend due to the stupidity of the coaching staff.  The refusal of Dirk Koetter to lean on the outside zone runs is baffling.  The Cowboys were dealing with multiple injuries that opened up the possibility of running out the clock. 

Quinn is a problem because he refuses to make the changes to coaching concepts.  A team that continually gives up big leads has no other option but to blame the head coach. 

Adam Gase- New York Jets

The New York Jets seem like a cursed franchise.  An organization that has a great history in the league is snake bitten by bad decisions.  The worst of those decisions could be maintaining the services of Adam Gase. 

Gase was the coach in Miami when they drafted Ryan Tannehill.  Tannehill had zero progression in his time with Gase, he actually lost his job and eventually found himself in Tennesee.  Now away from Gase, Tannehill has established himself as an offensive threat.  Gase’s inability to connect with his team and quarterback could not only hurt the organization but waste the talent of Sam Darnold.  Darnold’s numbers on paper aren’t horrible but his decision making seems to continue to be a problem.  That shows a lack of preparation from the coaching staff.  

The Jets picked up Le’Veon Bell last season and instead of focusing the offense on the premier runningback, they focused on Sam Darnold continually throwing the ball.   The Jets offensive approach doesn’t make any sense.  They are going to waste a great talent if they don’t move on from Gase now.  Darnold may not get a second chance like Tannehill.  

Bill O’Brien- Houston Texans

The Houston Texans will likely find a way to win the AFC South.  That’s what they do.  Houston has had a tough start to the season, playing the defending champion Chiefs and the powerful Balitmore Ravens. Excuses will come his way but we can never forget that he has had tons of problems with relationships with his players and a history of stupid decisions.  

No matter what happens this season, he moved DeAndre Hopkins and didn’t even get a first round pick.  Brandin Cooks, Joey Galloway and Percy Harvin are just a few of the wide receivers that all were moved for first round picks.  This is unforgivable. 

Oh and the fake punt last year against the Chiefs.  Just plain stupid.  How does this guy really have a job right now?

How to fix the St. Louis Cardinals offense.

The Cardinals have featured some of the best pitching in all of baseball. Despite a lot of injuries to the bullpen the birds have gotten terrific performances from Kwang Hyun Kim, Dakota Hudson, Austin Gomber and pretty much everyone they have called on to replace the injured mainstays.  The Cardinals offense on the other hand has been the epitome of frustrating.  Yesterday’s double header highlighted  the struggles of this team as they were not able to pull out game one despite an amazing performance from KK.  With the trade deadline passed and their super prospect Dylan Carlson being given up on until 2021, there are really only internal options to consider.  What can they do? Here are a few suggestions. 

Move Tommy Edman down and Brad Miller up versus righties. 

Brad Miller’s power is legit.  A former 30 homer player always has had the ability to send the ball over the fence but he is not a guy that can be the protection for Paul Goldschmidt by batting behind him.  Miller has the second highest OBP (.390) on the team and the highest slugging percentage on the team (.490).  He has shown the ability to get on base by doing more than just hitting homers.  Edman has been hitting the ball well lately but he has an inability to get on base at a consistent rate.  Miller has a 12% walk percentage versus righties compared to 4% for Edman.  

Miller being put in a spot where he is protected by Goldschmidt will force him to get more pitches to hit.  This can help the entire lineup because more men on base is like have a powerful bat behind you.  The more runners on the more they are forced to piutch to him.  Inserting Miller in front and DeJong behind is worth the effort to try and get more at-bats for your hitters that are actually producing.  (Hopefully DeJong can produce)

Carpenter leads off versus lefties.

Matt Carpenter has sucked for a while.  It seems like his 2018 near MVP season was actually a decade ago and he is just hanging on to finish out his contract.  Carpenter still has the ability to get on base, while St. Louis needs power; but they have to take advantage of the positives that each player brings to the table.  Despite his issues hitting lefties his consistency at getting on base does not go away.. In a small sample size of 2020 he has a OBP of .389.  His numbers in 2019 are what grab my attention, Carpenter was able to keep his OBP at .343. Carpenter is not producing at the level the team needs but if you are going to continue to give him at bats then he needs to be put in a situation that suits him best. 

Play Rangel Ravello or Tyler O’Neil 

The Cardinals need more power.  They are last in the league in homeruns and ISO.  Baseball in this era has been built on on-base percentage and power.  The Cardinals have had problems driving in runs in scoring position, the addition of two power bats in the middle of the lineup would help them get those runs across the plate. 

Ravello’s position is a problem,  he is a negative defensive player in the outfield.  If you place him beside Harrison Bader you should be able to hide his defensive issues somewhat.  His .478 sluggin percentage in the minors would be a welcomed asset in the lineup.  He has to be given the chance while Carlson continues to find consistency and Lane Thomas figures out what he is. 

Tyler O’Neil has his issues but what do the Cardinals have to lose at this point.  Put O’Neil in the lineup and let him find his swing.  Give this dude at bats and he will drive the ball over the fence.

Eastern Conference Championship Preview and Prediction

The Miami Heat have had the luxury of sitting by the pool watching as the Boston Celtics grinded out a seven game series against the defending champion Toronto Raptors.  Boston’s bench is already much shorter than the Miami Heat and they will truly be tested in this matchup.  Heat Coach Eric Spoelstra has no problem running a 10 man rotation that allows them to keep up the pressure on the defensive end, while still having dynamic players that can put the ball in the basket.  

Boston will be in their second conference title game in the last three seasons.  They have the experience of being there but are still led by young stars on the offensive end and will have constant pressure put on them by a couple of different defenders that bring length and tenacity.  Jae Crowder, Duncan Robinson, Andre Iguadola and Tyler Herro are all guys that can defend the perimeter, driving shooters toward Bam Adebayo in the middle.  

Key Players-

Goran Dragic, Miami Heat

Dragic has been an underappreciated player during his entire career.  After spending most of the pre-bubble season in a bench role he was inserted as the starter and has not looked back.  Dragic was a dominant force in the first round, slicing up the Pacers averaging 22.8PPG, 5 APG and shooting 40% from three.  He continued his offensive onslaught in the semifinals, dissecting the best defensive team in the NBA the Milwaukee Bucks.  Dragic shot 44%, averaging 19.8 per game.  

Boston had issues with Kyle Lowry throughout the last round and Dragic has multiple weapons that Lowry doesn’t have.  If Boston chooses to put Marcus Smart on Dragic that will leave Jimmy Butler to be guarded by either Jaylen Brown or potentially Jayson Tatum. That is not where you want your two biggest scorers on the defensive end.  

Kemba Walker, Boston Celtics

Kemba has not been in this situation since his time at UCONN.  His performance during the Eastern Conference semi-finals was not great.  Averaging 17 ppg, shooting just 27% from three, Walker was not at the top of his game and it won’t get any easier against the stout defense of the Miami Heat.   

The Heat will have Jimmy Butler working against Jayson Tatum which means the offens will have to come through Walker.  If Walker can perform as the dynamic scorer we know he can be it will open up shoots for the young stars Boston will have to lean on for offense. 

Conclusion

The Miami Heat have a lot of momentum coming into this matchup.  Boston’s lack of depth is my biggest concern in this series.  The lack of rest that you get while in the bubble will be a problem for a Celtics team that just doesn’t have the guys on the bench that can give their stars the chance to take a breath and not find themselves in a bad spot.

Boston will have a huge problem matching up with Bam Adebayo in the middle.  He has been a force versus Boston in every matchup averaging a double double in the three games this year.  His ability to put Daniel Theis in foul trouble early means that they will be forced to either go small or utilize the still developing Robert Williams.  Adebayo will have his run of the middle, especially if Goran Dragic and Jimmy Butler drive the middle the way I believe they will be able to do.  

The Celtics feel like this is their time to win the East but they face a team that is just deeper and havs more scorers then they have faced in the last two rounds.  While the Celtics may think this is their time the Heat are on a mission led by the most tenacious player in the league.  The depth will win out and Jimmy Butler and his squad will find themselves in the bubble finals. 

Prediction- Heat in 7