Super Bowl weekend: And the winners are…

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It surely has been a great season in the NFL. The playoffs were very exciting, and now we wait to see a Super Bowl champion crowned on Sunday. As we look forward to the Patriots vs. Seahawks game, let’s not forget the many standout performances during the regular season. To celebrate the many players who showcased their skills and talent, here are my picks to win this year’s NFL awards:

MVP: RB, DeMarco Murray (Cowboys)

The Cowboys have gone 8-8 in the last few seasons, until this one, where the running back broke loose, helping lead the Cowboys to 12 wins, while rushing for 1845 yards and 13 touchdowns, which led the league. The Cowboys much improved offensive line contributed greatly to those big numbers, but with his progress and production, Murray was the real reason the Cowboys thrived this season. Tony Romo was able to create big plays, only with the help of the rushing attack. As for Aaron Rodgers, he played phenomenally well, however he had a few blunders on the road and was too close in numbers to Romo, which is why DeMarco Murray deserves the MVP award.

Offensive Player of the Year: QB, Aaron Rodgers (Packers)

The superstar quarterback threw for 4831 yards, along with 38 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. As the Packers struggled in the beginning of the season, Rodgers continued to find ways to lead his team to victory, and to go undefeated at home. Another fantastic season for Rodgers, who in my opinion should win the Offensive Player of the Year award.

Defensive Player of the Year: DE, JJ Watt (Texans)

Without a doubt, this was the best season of this young man’s career, with many more to come after he signed a mega contract with the Texans for over $100 million. With 20.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 5 touchdowns (3 offensive), he proved to be the best defensive player in the NFL by a long shot. Unfortunately, Watt doesn’t play offense, although he had three touchdowns, and he can’t play quarterback either which is why the Texans missed the playoffs. Easy!

Coach of the Year: HC, Bruce Arians (Cardinals)

In his second year as head coach for the Cardinals, Arians led the team to an astounding 9-1 record, leading the NFC West. Carson Palmer tore his ACL and was marked out for the season, which certainly contributed to the 11-5 record. However, the Cardinals were disciplined on defense. Injuries to their two top quarterbacks and starting running back really hurt them moving forward, but still, Arians deserves a lot of credit for the team’s success.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: WR, Odell Beckham Jr. (Giants)

The 1st round pick out of LSU was an assassin on the receiving end of the ball this season, recording 91 receptions, 1305 yards and 12 touchdowns—oh yeah, in only 12 games played. As he shattered many Giants’ records, he made the season watchable, including having the catch of the year against the Giants archrival Cowboys where he caught the ball with three fingers.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: DT, Aaron Donald (Rams)

Although the Rams did not make the playoffs, this 1st round defensive tackle out of Pittsburgh solidified the Rams defensive line and complemented star defensive end Robert Quinn. With 9 sacks and 2 forced fumbles, he slightly outplayed runner up C.J. Mosley, the Ravens rookie linebacker from Alabama.

Comeback Player of the Year: TE, Rob Gronkowski (Patriots)

After undergoing major surgeries and being in and out of the lineup last year and early this year, Gronkowski has proven that he is still the league’s best tight end. With 82 catches, 1124 yards and 12 touchdowns, he has been the difference maker and has helped the Patriots become the team they are today.

Here are a few made-up awards that I believe these respective players would deserve.

Honorable mentions

WR, Antonio Brown (Steelers)

LB, Justin Houston (Chiefs)

QB, Tony Romo (Cowboys)

Best Free Agent Signings

CB, Darelle Revis (Patriots)

WR, Golden Tate (Lions)

WR, Steve Smith (Ravens)

 

Biggest Disappointments

LB, Jadeveon Clowney (Texans)

QB, Robert Griffin III (Redskins)

RB, Trent Richardson (Colts)

  

What’s your opinion?

About Me: I’m Spencer (Alexander) Zied, a 10th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball, football and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees, Oregon football and North Carolina basketball teams. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

NFL Playoffs: The Final Countdown

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What a wacky wild card weekend! So, to recap from previous predictions, I was on the money with my Sunday picks, choosing the Cowboys to defeat the Lions and the Colts to top the Bengals. But I blundered for Saturday’s games, incorrectly picking the Steelers and Cardinals to win, as the Ravens and Panthers advanced instead.

So now, the real playoffs begin, and it’s time for someone to take home the Lombardi trophy. Here are my final NFL playoff predictions including my picks for award winners and Super Bowl dark horses and champions.

NFC 

Divisional Round

Seahawks vs. Panthers

The Panthers came off a satisfying victory against the Cardinals on Saturday, but they will pose little threat to the vaunted Seattle Seahawks, a team on a mission to defend its beloved Super Bowl crown. The secondary of the Seahawks will stop Cam Newton in his tracks and control the game, with Marshawn Lynch putting the nail in the coffin.

Prediction: The Seahawks will win 23-10.

 

Packers vs. Cowboys

The Green Bay Packers are undefeated at home. However, the Cowboys are undefeated on the road. Aaron Rodgers will attack the Cowboys depleted, yet fighting defense. The Cowboys will match it with DeMarco Murray and their rushing attack. This game will get ugly, and ugly means it’ll be unpredictable. I see the upset with the Cowboys shocking the world and taking this game out of the hands of the want-to-be MVP Aaron Rodgers.

Prediction: The Cowboys will win 34-30.

 

Championship Round

Seahawks vs. Cowboys

We have a rematch of week six, where the Cowboys overpowered the Seahawks in their own building. It will be overwhelmingly hostile in Century Link. Not a single blunder all year, not from Dez Bryant, Tony Romo or DeMarco Murray. This will be a grudge match. As they usually do, they will find a way to scratch out a win.

Prediction: The Seahawks will win 20-17.

AFC

Divisional Round

Patriots vs. Ravens

The Ravens pose the biggest threat to the Patriots. However, this matchup slightly favors the Patriots simply based off of thirst and experience. The Ravens do in fact have all the pieces in place to accomplish the defeat, however Tom Brady’s greatness will prevail in the end. The Ravens are the dark horse Super Bowl champions, however they are going up against the real Super Bowl champions, and it will play out accordingly.

Prediction: The Patriots will win 33-28.

Broncos vs. Colts

Andrew Luck and the Colts are coming off of an impressive defeat against Cincinnati. Despite their record, the Broncos have looked shaky all year and the Colts will put Peyton Manning to the test. This will be a bloody battle, but the Colts will pull this one out.

Prediction: The Colts will win 31-27.

 

Championship Game 

Patriots vs. Colts

Tom Brady has yet to reach a Super Bowl since 2011, when his team was defeated by the Giants. Luck will pose a threat, but it will be no match for the Patriots underrated defense.

Prediction: The Patriots will win 38-27.

Super Bowl 

Patriots vs. Seahawks

Well, I know, it’s the same from my preseason prediction of Pats against Hawks. I think that it is extremely difficult to repeat as Super Bowl champions, especially against a team that has not won a Super Bowl in over 10 years, losing two in the last eight years to the New York Giants. Tom Brady will know what to do against that vaunted Seattle secondary and help his team pull away with the victory.

Prediction: The Patriots will win 26-21.

What are your predictions? Share them in the comments below.

About me: I’m Spencer (Alexander) Zied, a 10th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball, football and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees, Oregon football and North Carolina basketball teams. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

 

 

College Football Playoffs: Not What You Expect

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New Year’s Day 2015 was the first day we have ever witnessed College Football Playoff match-ups between the top four teams, battling it out in the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl to get to the National Championship.

We witnessed the Oregon Ducks and the Florida State Seminoles go at it in the first half of the Rose Bowl. Things got ugly as Oregon humiliated Florida State in the second half, forcing a total of five turnovers—most of which were cashed in for touchdowns. Oregon, known for blowing teams out of the building, did it again last night with Florida State. They scored a Rose Bowl record of 59 points, in part thanks to their defense and a very strong offensive attack.

As Florida State suffered their first loss of the season, they were humbled and the country realized that the Ducks were no joke.

In the Sugar Bowl, Alabama went head to head with Ohio State. It was a back and fourth battle until running back Ezekiel Elliot ran for 85 yards to the house to put the Buckeyes up 40-25. This was eventually capped off by a two-point conversion that put the nail in Alabama’s coffin and sealed the deal for Ohio State.

So, we witnessed two great matchups last night. As these games finish, Ohio State and Oregon prepare for the National Championship that will take place on Monday, January 12th. We should all expect a dogfight until the very end.

Mariota and Oregon’s high-powered offense are a fantastic match for Ohio State’s blood-thirsty defense. On the flip side, Ohio State’s newly found offense knows it’s a big deal when the team scored 42 points against Alabama, a team with one of the best defenses in the nation. The Oregon defense now knows it’s just as tough as the rest, proving so against Jameis Winston’s FSU crew.

The offenses and defenses of both of these teams peaked on New Year’s Day, and both teams will look to eclipse each other’s highs next Monday to take home the gold. I expect a semi-high scoring game. I have watched Oregon and Ohio State play and to me they seem like polar opposites. For every punch they take, they throw another. I believe Ohio State is a more disciplined team and far better than Florida State. It pains me to say this as a Ducks fan, but my prediction is that the Buckeyes led by Urban Meyer will capture the gold, and win this game 43-36.

What’s your prediction? Share it in the comments below. 

About me: I’m Spencer (Alexander) Zied, a 10th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball, football and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees, Oregon football and North Carolina basketball teams. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

NFL Playoffs: Wildcard

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Wow. What a crazy season it has been. Who thought it would turn out this way? I certainly know I didn’t. With the season giving us surprise after surprise, there’s no doubt there will be craziness in the post-season as well.

As week 17 wraps up, the cold, ragged road to the Super Bowl begins. Here is how I believe it will play out.

Wildcard Round

NFC

Cardinals @ Panthers: This one will be a grind-it-out type of game. With two very strong defenses going head to head, we’ll see who packs a bigger punch to seal the deal. Cam Newton will be able to have some fun, but not too much fun as I believe that vaunted Cardinals secondary will definitely impact his decision making, forcing Cam to make mistakes.

Score: Cardinals win 23-16

Lions @ Cowboys: Tony Romo and Demarco Murray have been absolutely phenomenal this season. They have led the Cowboy squad out of the 8-8 doldrums as the seek prosperity for the first time in a long time. Without Ndamukong Suh, the Lions will still have a very strong defense, but with Romo and Murray, the Cowboys attack is too strong. Did I mention Dez Bryant and Jason Witten? Matt Stafford and Calvin ‘Megatron’ Johnson will certainly do some damage, along with the wildcard wide receiver Golden Tate. This game will be fun to watch.

Score: Cowboys win 34-31

AFC

Ravens @ Steelers: This division rivalry never gets old. If this were 2012, the Ravens defense with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed would be no match for the Steelers newly high-powered offense. However, those Raven players are gone, leaving the team’s  defense weaker. The Steelers have clicked on all cylinders and have been a ‘pick your poison’ offense this season. Joe Flacco will connect with Tory Smith and Steve Smith and will make it interesting.

Score: Steelers win 27-21

Bengals @ Colts: Andrew Luck has been nothing short of amazing this season. The Bengals have never won in the playoffs with Andy Dalton, and that trend will continue this weekend. The Colts struggle on defense, but Andrew Luck can crank it up a notch on offense to solidify a relatively easy victory.

Score: Colts win 31-20

Agree? Disagree? Share your predictions in the comments below. And be sure to check out my Second Take With Spencer A post next week for my divisional, championship, and Super Bowl picks!

Image of Peyton Manning via Sports Illustrated Kids.

About me: I’m Spencer (Alexander) Zied, a 10th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball, football and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees, Oregon football and North Carolina basketball teams. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

Flawed NFL Playoff Format

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This NFL season has been a great one. There have been many surprises and intriguing match-ups so far this year. The question is, is there anything to look forward to? Of course there is! The NFL Playoffs are just around the corner!

The playoffs are sure to be riveting, but the flaws in the system could unfairly put some of the better teams at a disadvantage.

The format of the NFL Playoffs is a simple one. The top four division winners from each conference along with the two remaining teams with the best records will qualify. Then, the top two division winners have a bye week, in which the three seed plays the six seed, and the four seed plays the five seed. Then, the one seed and two seed matchup respectively and battle it out to the Super Bowl.

In my opinion, the current system leaves out some very important things that could contribute to exciting playoffs. The two division winners that play in the first week of the playoffs against the two wildcard teams get a home field advantage, even if their record is worse than the wildcard teams’. A few years back, the 7-9 Seahawks won their dreadful division and played the wildcard Saints who had a better record. The game was in Seattle, and therefore the Seahawks advanced due to their enormous home field advantage. So, the home field advantage should absolutely not be based on whether or not you won your division, it should be based solely on your record.

However, even if that much-wanted change took place, there would still be a gaping hole in the playoff system. If, for example, a division winner is 6-10, and the two wildcard teams have a 10-6 record and an additional team has a 9-7 record and did not win their division, the 9-7 team would be eliminated from the playoffs. If the playoffs began today, the Atlanta Falcons sitting atop the NFC South division at 4-7, would get home field advantage against the Seattle Seahawks at 8-4. Additionally, they would make the playoffs while the Dallas Cowboys (8-4) and the San Fransisco 49ers (7-5) would not. That, in and of itself, seems extremely flawed.

This brings up the question: Should there be home field advantage for division winners? The majority would agree that there should be.

But another lingering question remains: Should the NFL expand the playoffs? One idea by fans would have the NFL adding two teams, making the playoffs eight from a conference as opposed to six, and eliminating the bye weeks. Of course the arguments for or against this could require years before a decision is made.

I believe that the NFL playoff system is extremely flawed. I believe the top six teams should enter the playoffs so it remains a privilege rather than having half of the teams per conference being allowed to enter. I believe the NFL should do away with basing playoff seeds of division winners, and should take the top six teams from each conference and seed them based on records. That seems to be the most logical way to do it!

What do you think? Should the NFL playoffs change?

About Me:

I’m Spencer (Alexander) Zied, a 10th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball, football and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees, Oregon football and North Carolina basketball teams. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

Are New York Sports Teams Going Down the Drain?

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Over the last year, New York sports teams have been a shell of what they once were, causing stress and anger among its fans.

In the MLB, the New York Yankees and New York Mets missed the playoffs this season and it wasn’t pretty. The Yankees lost a lot—Robinson Cano went the Mariners, Alex Rodriguez was suspended, and Mariano Rivera retired. It doesn’t seem like the bleeding for the Yankees will stop anytime soon, especially after they lost their 20-year captain, Derek Jeter.

In the NFL, the New York Giants and the New York Jets have combined for five wins so far this season—that’s as many wins as the Buffalo Bills have achieved this season with Kyle Orton as their starting quarterback. The Giants have had many injuries, especially among their starters including Victor Cruz, Rashad Jennings and Prince Amukamara. The Jets have had a lot of quarterback changes, and have finally sidelined Geno Smith for Michael Vick, who on Sunday led them to their first win in two months. Their secondary is relatively empty and that has hindered the progress of their entire defense. In my opinion, the general manager of the Jets, John Idzik, is mainly to blame due to the fact that he did not go after big name defenders—their biggest weakness.

In the NBA, the New York Knicks haven’t been impressive either. Although they resigned star forward Carmelo Anthony, they still have a void of surrounding talent. With Derek Fisher as its new coach, the Knicks have struggled mightily in the triangle offense, so much that the commissioner even took a shot at their horrendous play. Due to their lack of talent and everything associated with them, they have been awful. They traded for a new point guard in Jose Calderon. However, he has been sidelined with injury and has not played yet. Ironically enough, the Knicks have beaten two hyped up machines—the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Charlotte Hornets. However, they still sit at 2-6 and do not look like they will get any better. As for the Brooklyn Nets, they sit atop the Knicks at 4-2 and have looked relatively good so far. Besides the Bills and Nets, who are a couple of games over .500, New York sports has been an absolute disgrace. Something needs to change quickly! Fans expect more and want what they want when they want it.

As for the Knicks, they need to get Calderon back, and need to acquire a good interior defender who can also help out on offense such as Marc Gasol. They also need to shop J.R. Smith, Tim Hardaway, Jr.,, and Iman Shumpert in order to find value that we can use because all three shooting guards have similar strengths and weaknesses. They also need to develop Cleanthony Early into a productive NBA player.

The Giants need to fire their defensive coordinator and acquire new, young talent on defense. At the end of the season, they also need to fire Tom Coughlin and acquire at least two new good offensive linemen.

I’m still a fan of New York sports teams, especially the Knicks and the Giants. But I hope things change for the better, and soon, because it’s gotten ugly and painful and I’m not sure how much more I can take.

Who’s to blame for the poor performance of (most) New York sports teams? Owners? Coaches? Players? Fans? Media? Weather?

Check out some of my recent Second Take With Spencer A posts here.

About Me:

I’m Spencer (Alexander) Zied, a 10th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball, football and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees, Oregon football and North Carolina basketball teams. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

NBA Preview

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This off-season was full of excitement. With Lebron James returning home to Cleveland to join Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in exchange for number one pick Andrew Wiggins, Lance Stephenson joining the Hornets, Chandler Parsons and Tyson Chandler joining the Mavericks, Loul Deng joining Wade and Bosh in Miami, Paul George sidelined for the season with a broken leg, Bradley Beal and Kevin Durant also out for six to eight weeks with injuries, and the Knicks resigning Carmelo Anthony and adding a new head coach, Derek Fisher, are all big and crucial moves that will impact the NBA season.

Here are my predictions:

Eastern Conference Playoff Standings:

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers (58-22)
  2. Chicago Bulls (56-24)
  3. Miami Heat (53-29)
  4. Washington Wizards (51-31)
  5. Charlotte Hornets (50-32)
  6. New York Knicks (47-35)
  7. Toronto Raptors (44-38)
  8. Boston Celtics (41-41)

Western Conference Playoff Standings:

  1. San Antonio Spurs (62-20)
  2. Los Angeles Clippers (53-29)
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder (53-29)
  4. Dallas Mavericks (51-31)
  5. Golden State Warriors (50-32)
  6. Portland Trail Blazers (47-35)
  7. Houston Rockets (46-36)
  8. Los Angeles Lakers (45-37)

NBA MVP: Blake Griffin; Projected Stats: 24 PPG, 12 RPG, 5 APG, 2 BPG, 1 SPG , 55% FG, 36% 3pt FG

With the additions to the Cavaliers, Lebron James will be dominant. However, he will share dominance with Kyrie Irving. As for reigning MVP Kevin Durant, he will miss the first six to eight weeks of the season and it will take him a while to get back into the flow. I predict Blake Griffin will win MVP since he has shown major improvements in the last three seasons and has taken his game to another level, adding an effective three-point shot to his loaded arsenal.

Eastern Conference Finals: Cavaliers over Bulls in 7

Western Conference Finals: Spurs over Warriors in 6

NBA Finals: Spurs over Cavaliers in 6

NBA Finals MVP: Tim Duncan

The old, boring and slow San Antonio Spurs will find a way to yet again reach the NBA Finals for a third straight year. They share the ball like nobody else and have fantastic team chemistry. The Spurs cannot be stopped, and will repeat as NBA Champions.

What are your predictions for this upcoming NBA season?

About Me:

I’m Spencer (Alexander) Zied, a 10th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball, football and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees, Oregon football and North Carolina basketball teams. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

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