In honor of the 29th edition of the M!KEDROP Mornings, given that 29 is my favorite number, here are 29 things to watch for in sports this weekend
- Texans and Dolphins are a great tale of teams going in opposite directions. After a 3-0 starting, the Dolphins are now 4-4 and it’s hard to see how coach Adam Gase survives this season. They seem like a team stuck in neutral. They aren’t bad enough to bottom out and they aren’t good enough to make a playoff run.
- On the other side, after an 0-3 start, the Texans have won 5 straight, Deandre Hopkins is the best WR in football and Deshaun Watson is playing outstanding. Even the run game has gotten going in recent weeks. Ironically, the Texans haven’t lost since I published an article listing out different options to replace coach Bill O’Brien. That list is certainly on hold but I strongly believe the Texans need an Offensive Coordinator moving forward.
- Either the Eagles or the Jaguars are going to fly back from London with a 3-5 record heading into their bye week. Losing team is likely to make major changes ahead of next week’s trade deadline. Eagles have been rumored to be pursuing offensive playmakers such as RBs Lesean McCoy or Leveon Bell or CB Patrick Peterson. While the Jaguars could permanently bench Blake Bortles and pursue a possible short term solution (Case Keenum, Sam Bradford, Josh McCown for example)
- Redskins don’t feel like a good team to me. And they are likely going to beat the Giants Sunday and improve to 5-2, giving them a commanding divisional lead. A big reason for their success is the resurgence of Adrian Peterson
- Four teams will likely be in the market for QBs next off-season – Broncos, Giants, Raiders, and Dolphins in a 2019 draft class that is defensive line-heavy and lacks star power at the QB position. Teams like the 49ers and Cardinals will be in excellent shape to trade down and maximize their depth to allow teams to get their QB of their choosing
- Browns fans have had the most frustrating season of any team. They are 2-4-1 but could easily be 6-1 or 1-6 (Chargers game only one that wasn’t close). Hue Jackson has not improved as an in-game coach. The talent is there and much improved from recent years, but similar mistakes are being made and Jackson doesn’t seem to have a clue what he’s doing.
- Remember when the Patriots were 1-2 and the sky was falling? They have virtually a two game lead on Miami (via tiebreaker) and as per routine, should clinch this division by Thanksgiving. Monday night’s game against the Bills will be a laugher.
- Amari Cooper might help the Cowboys this season. But the problem is he isn’t calling plays, throwing the football, or protecting the QB. Those are the three issues plaguing the Cowboys and holding them back this season. The players are only as good as the position they are put in and the coaching staff has not put them in a position to be successful for the most part this year.
- I love the way the Colts have played this year. Fans, media, and the whole league knows these is one of the least talented rosters and Andrew Luck truly lacks offensive playmakers beyond TY Hilton. Yet, they are 2-5, have been in almost every game and Luck leads the league in TD passes. Frank Reich will get this turned around soon enough, Indy just needs to be patient, but not too patient. Luck is approaching 30 and they need to build a defense and more WRs.
- I want a chaotic Rose Bowl! Not some tradition USC/Stanford vs Michigan/Ohio State classic. I want to see Iowa or Purdue take on Washington State or Utah. It’s possible, but it will take a few upsets, starting this weekend – Purdue over Michigan State, Iowa over Penn State, and Washington State over Stanford are musts, for starters, to get a crazy Rose Bowl game.
- Speaking of Washington St and Stanford – There’s no way Washington State beats Stanford, right? Coming off the emotional win over Oregon, the whole College Gameday scene, this feels like the perfect spot for a letdown. But if Bryce Love continues his struggles and Wazzou can contain QB KJ Costello, maybe the Cougars can survive?
- The loser of Florida vs Georgia is essentially eliminated from SEC East contention, which makes next weekend’s Georgia vs Kentucky game the de facto SEC East championship. With the game in Lexington, all it takes is a little bit of magic to pull off the monumental, program-changing upset
- Kentucky first needs to survive Missouri in Columbia. Suddenly many eyes turn to Missouri with rumors that Oregon QB Justin Herbert might remain in school, Missouri QB Drew Lock will move up to the top option in the 2019 NFL draft
- Remember when Clemson vs Florida State used to mean something? The game will be played on ABC at noon, but with very minimal hype
- UAB‘s story is really amazing, from purgatory to 6-1, back-to-back bowls and on pace for a C-USA title game appearance. They face winless UTEP on Saturday.
- South Florida is 16-2 in 1.5 years with Charlie Strong as head coach and have wins over absolutely no good teams in that stretch. The Bulls play Houston on Saturday, one of the best teams they will have played over the last 2 years. Not saying USF is a bad team, but their record is inflated by weak competition and Saturday is a huge prove it game for the AAC
- Louisville hosts Wake Forest and this might be when apathy kicks in at Louisville. I expect there to be roughly 10,000 fans at PapaJohn’s Stadium. 40,000 less than capacity. Bad team, bad season and a coaching staff that is no doubt going down in flames as the season winds down.
- TCU has won 6 straight against Kansas, since joining the Big 12 in 2012. But this TCU team, this is Gary Patterson’s worse team at TCU maybe ever. Kansas is near the top of FBS is turnover margin, despite their 2-5 record. The game is in Lawrence, not that home field advantage means anything to Kansas. Two years ago, Kansas lost on a last second field goal. Is this the best and only chance Kansas has to get another win and their first in the Big 12 in 2 years?
- Nebraska finally got off “winless watch” knocking off Minnesota last week and now have a buy game against Bethune Cookman. This game is the result of the Akron game being cancelled week 1. Nebraska is improving but still has tough opponents remaining including Iowa and Purdue. It’s like they finish 3-9
- UCLA also has a tough schedule but at 2-5 find themselves tied for first in the dismal PAC-12 south.
- Red Sox are up 2-0 in the World Series with the series heading back to Los Angeles. Game 3 is Friday and game 4 is Saturday but beyond that we’ll see if there’s any additional games. The Red Sox didn’t win 108 games by accident. Alex Cora has proven to be an excellent manager.
- The Mets search for a new General Manager has gone from 3 candidates to 2. Former Rangers and Brewers GM Doug Melvin has been eliminated leaving just Brodie Van Wagenen, an agent, and Chaim Bloom, 35 year old player development exec in Tampa Bay. The great news for Mets fans is the elimination of the older Melvin, who likely would have had a hard time connecting with younger fans. The two options are both very interesting – Bloom fully understands and embraces analytics and would be a contrarian approach from what the Mets have done in the past.
- Van Wagenen though? This is odd. He’s a current agent, who amongst others represents NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom. How does one go from player rep to player personnel? Imagine his first week in charge, giving deGrom $200 million contract.
- Three unbeaten teams in the east heading into the weekend – Bucks play @ Minnesota and home vs Orlando; Pistons hosts Boston on Saturday night; Raptors host Mavs on Friday
- Pelicans are the west’s only unbeaten, after the Nuggets lost their first game to the Lakers Thursday night. NOLA hosts the Nets on Friday and the Jazz on Saturday
- On the other end of the standings, the Cavs, the team who has represented in the east in the last four NBA Finals, is the lone team with a 0 in the win column. They host the Pacers Saturday night
- The Thunder blew a 4th quarter lead to the Celtics on Thursday night to fall to 0-4. Their next game is Sunday in OKC against the Suns. If they don’t win that one, it’s very possible head coach Billy Donovan loses his job.
- Warriors play both NY teams this weekend – Knicks on Friday, Nets o Sunday. Which means get ready for a weekend of ridiculous media questions and articles about why Kevin Durant is going to sign with the Knicks in the off-season.
- Jimmy Butler trade watch is back on with rumors that the Rockets have offered four first round picks for the Wolves star. Is Butler worth mortgaging the future like this?