One-Sided Sports Debate

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Tonight was supposed to be the second Presidential Debate of 2020. Instead, you will have to settle for the Great Sports Debate of 2020 via MikeDropSports.

Here are my thoughts on 5 relevant topics. To share your thoughts and dispute mine, feel free to comment on my latest Instagram Post which expresses my quick thoughts.

NFL: Can the Cowboys still win the NFC East?

Despite losing Dak Prescott on Sunday (and about a dozen other players, previously), I still think the Cowboys are the team to beat in the NFC East.

Right off the bat, you can remove the Giants (0-5) and Football Team (1-4) from the equation. Giants stink and Washington has QB issues (again). So, the question of who will win the NFC East comes down to a debate between the Cowboys (2-3) and Eagles (1-3-1).

Cowboys visit the Eagles during week 8 on November 1. Coming out of that game, we will have a pretty good idea of where these teams stand. Cowboys host the Cardinals and visit Washington the next two weeks, while the Eagles host the Ravens and then Giants. Eagles seem likely to go 1-1, while Cowboys have a shot at 2-0, but assuming they go 1-1, the game on 11/1 looms extra large.

Obviously, the big knock on the Cowboys right now is the injury to Prescott. Can Andy Dalton overcome a bad offensive line (he did in Cincinnati) and can the offense continue to score enough to compensate for their awful defense? They may need to change it up philosophically on offense. Through 4.5 games, the plan was to play fast on offense and score points. Now, they may have to revert to a slower style offense with an emphasis on the run game and clock management, to keep the defense off the field.

While Dallas is 2-3, two of those losses came on the road to the Rams and Seahawks, who are a combined 9-1 in 2020 and at home to the 4-1 Browns. The two wins both came on a last second field goal against the Falcons and Giants, who are a combined 0-10.

For the Eagles, their one win came against the 49ers on the road. Good win, but SF is depleted by injuries and are 2-3, with the two wins coming against Jets and Giants. They lost to Washington week 1 and in week 3 they tied the Bengals at home.

Carson Wentz leads the NFL with 9 interceptions, their #1 WR is a former college QB (Greg Ward) and this team has just looked out of sorts since week 1. If they can get healthy, the Eagles certainly have enough talent and an experienced coaching staff that makes you think they can turn it around, but the clock is ticking and the time to turn it around is slowly running out.

Dalton is no Prescott, but he doesn’t have to be. In 9 seasons with the Bengals, they made the playoffs 5 times. He is probably the best backup in the NFL and the Cowboys are as prepared for this situation as they could be. Given that this division is a disaster, going 8-8 or 9-7 is not unlikely and the truth is, this team wasn’t winning a Super Bowl with Prescott because of how bad the defense is. If the Cowboys could just get to the playoffs, it would be a major victory and show that the franchise is on stable grounds and can overcome adversity.


NFL: Better shot at #1 pick – Jets or Giants

I think the Jets are worse than the Giants and have a better shot at the #1 pick.

For the Giants, they have talent. I believe Joe Judge has them buying in and while the process hasn’t produced results, the Giants are in every game. They lost to Dallas on a last second field goal. They lost by 8 to the Rams and 4 to the Bears, both on the road and both when the Giants had the ball, in opponent territory in the final minute. There is still enough talent on this roster to give fans hope for the future.

Contrarily, the Jets have no such hope. Adam Gase is a loser, a bad person, and an awful head coach. In addition to the misery of Gase, the Jets have a significant talent deficiency. Since the end of last season, the Jets have let Robby Anderson, Jamal Adams, and Le’Veon Bell all leave (only Adams was traded and returned assets).

Unlike the Giants, Jets are getting blown out every week. On Sunday, they lost by 20 at home to the Cardinals, lost last Thursday by 9 at home to Broncos who started Brett Rypien at QB, they were blown out by 49ers even though SF lost Jimmy Garoppolo (and a ton of others) to injuries, and they lost by 29 to the Colts.

Jets will be underdogs in all 11 remaining games. There is no game I feel good about. Maybe the Dolphins at home on 11/29? But that’s assuming they regress from the way they are playing now.

Giants have two games with Washington, including this Sunday (they are -3.5 point favorites). They also have a game against Cincinnati, which is a possible win.

Follow up – should either team consider a QB in 2021 Draft?

At this point, either team should consider Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence if they pick #1.

For the Jets, I personally still like Sam Darnold. I know he’s been awful in 2020 (and at times, prior) and has made zero progress, but I blame this on the coaches. I have hope that a new staff can fix him, but at this point I assume that staff will be with another franchise. I think whoever coaches the Jets in 2021, will want his guy, whether that’s Lawrence or Ohio State QB Justin Fields. 

For the Giants, Jones has shown promise. But he’s also shown cracks. He has a turnover in 17 or 18 games. That’s insane, especially when you’re team isn’t that good. When you’re far from perfect, you jut can’t make mistakes and give the other team even more opportunities. I never liked Jones during the pre-draft process and i think GM David Gettleman will be fired after this disaster if a season, so there’s a decent chance that a new GM may very well come in and clean house. 


NBA: Should the Knicks trade for Chris Paul?

As a Knicks fan, I am torn on this. Paul, 35 years old, was extremely productive this past season and helped guide a young OKC Thunder team into the playoffs. This Knicks team isn’t that different from the Thunder. RJ Barrett, in year 2, could turn into the star that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander became in year 2. Mitchell Robinson and Steven Adams have similarities. The Knicks do lack a Danilo Gallinari-type, but you can certainly see similarities between the teams, if Paul were to join the Knicks.

But the truth is, Paul is past his prime and will cost a hefty price on two fronts. He has 2 years remaining where he is owed $41 million in 2020-21 and $44 million in 2021-22. While the Knicks don’t have many large contracts on the books, this does affect future flexibility, plus it’s likely that the salary cap decreases.

Is it worth it? I would he much more enthusiastic about the player on a friendlier contract, but the assets don’t bother me as much. The Knicks can’t keep adding rookies, at some point you need a veteran like Paul. Acquiring Paul will cost assets, such as at least one first round draft pick (they have 5 in the next 3 drafts), probably 2018 first rounder Kevin Knox and more.

Beyond the flexibility of cap space, there’s also PTSD on trading draft picks. What if Knox becomes a star in OKC? What if the future pick becomes a star (like Jamal Murray, whom Denver drafted with Knicks pick via Carmelo Anthony trade).

It’s a tough debate, but I say no. I think the Knicks can better utilize assets to build a playoff contender in 2021 and beyond.

For Paul’s sake, he is certainly better off going elsewhere. At this stage in his career, he can still be a key piece of a championship contender, which the Knicks obviously are not. As a CP3 fan, I’d love to see him on the Bucks or 76ers, as that’s where he could make his biggest impact. Paul would be a legit third star with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton in Milwaukee and, even past his prime, is an upgrade over Eric Bledsoe. On the Sixers, he would reunite with Doc Rivers, who coached him on the Clippers from 2013-2017. Acquiring Paul would allow even more flexibility for Ben Simmons position-wise and would also set up a potentially dominant pick and roll game with Joel Embiid.

We’ll see what the future holds for Chris Paul, but it seems unlikely to be as part of the Thunder as they embark on a rebuilding project.


MLB: Are the Rays America’s Team?

YES! Emphatically, yes.

Forget the America’s Team moniker for the Dallas Cowboys. Last week, I wrote how if the Cowboys are America’s Team, that America is in trouble. Of course, the reason for the nickname is their global brand, fan-base, and overall value (worth over $5 billion).

So, why the Rays? They have none of the above. Rays are one of the least recognizable brands in America and are consistently ranked near the bottom of MLB in attendance.

Well, the answer is simple. The Rays beat the Yankees in the NLDS and are one win away from beating the Astros in the NLCS. Those are two of the most universally despised and polarizing teams, not just in baseball, but in all of sports.

Because of the Yankees’ historical success and annual spending and because of the Astros’ cheating scandal, you either love these teams, as a fan, or you hate them. There is no in-between.

America’s Team should be someone that people can rally around. I can’t name a single player on the Rays and their payroll is always among the lowest in the league. It’s a fun, scrappy group of guys who overcome the odds and beat the best. You love to see it.


CFB: Will Kirby Smart be the first former Nick Saban assistant coach to beat him?

DISCLAIMER: Late Wednesday, Nick Saban revealed he tested positive for COVID-19, which means he is unlikely to coach on Saturday IF the game is played as expected. I still think the write-up is relevant.

21-0. That’s the record of Alabama head coach Nick Saban when their opponent is coached by a former assistant of his. On Saturday, #2 Alabama hosts #3 Georgia, coached by Kirby Smart.

Smart worked under Saban in 2004 as LSU’s defensive backs coach, 2006 as the Miami Dolphins safeties coach and then 2007-2015 as defensive coordinator at Alabama, before accepting the Georgia job in 2016.

Since arriving at Georgia, he is 0-2 against Alabama and Saturday will be the first regular season matchup. Alabama won the National Championship Game in 2019 against and then 11 months later, beat Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.

Through three games, Georgia’s defense is allowing 12 ppg, while Alabama’s offense is scoring 51 ppg. Of course, this isn’t all that straight forward. For example, Alabama’s defense gave up 48 last week to Ole Miss, which forced the Tide to keep scoring.

Georgia is scoring 36 ppg, but here is a catch to this number. In 2 of their 3 games, most of the points have come after halftime. In week 1 against Arkansas, they scored 32 of their 37 points in the second half and last week against Tennessee, they scored 27 of 44 after halftime. That is not a sustainable strategy, especially against Alabama.

Georgia must come out strong if they want to win. Alabama’s offense is once again loaded, and as talented as the Georgia defense is, they have shown some weaknesses. Tennessee played well last week but couldn’t capitalize. Alabama is more than capable of taking advantage of the type of opportunities that the Vols couldn’t.

I like Alabama to win because of a few factors – momentum of home-field advantage, Najee Harris, speed and talent at WR, Dylan Moses, and the experience of Mac Jones (in comparison to Stetson Bennett).

Kirby Smart may beat Saban one day. But one day, won’t be Saturday.


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Mike is a member of the FWAA (Football Writers Association of America) and an alum of the University of Cincinnati.

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