Playoff Hockey Returns to Colorado

With their first playoff run since the 2013-14 season starting today, the Colorado Avalanche have their hands full with the number 1 seed, defending Western Conference champions, and Centeral Division foe, the Nashville Predators.

No matter what happens in the series, nothing but good can come from this season as a whole. Once the Avalanche hit their point total from last year (48) near the half way point, everything that came after is just a bonus. That means the Avs have nothing to lose. Even if they are swept in the first round, nobody will consider this season a loss.

On top of that, the Avalanche have the youngest end-of-season roster in the NHL. That’s not a lot of experience but at this point, all of those rookies are guaranteed four games of playoff experience. That’s huge and will benefit Colorado further down the road.

Looking at the steep hill to climb, many Avalanche fans are asking the question “How far can we actually go?” Thankfully for everyone wondering, the answer is, pretty far. While the Preds are supposed to handle Colorado easily, there are few clubs in the NHL who know the Preds like the Avalanche do. What does this mean? Everything. Throw seeds and the regular season out the window either team can win this series.

Everyone knows why the Predators are favored to win, so let’s look at what it’ll take for Colorado to do to Nashville what they did to Chicago last year. The Avalanche are coming off a historically awful season, yet managed to fight their way to the playoffs on the back of their buckets of young talent, top line, and spectacular goal tending from both Bernier and the now injured Varlamov.

The Avalanche are a fast team that need to push the pace of the game. Nashville doesn’t get the nickname of Smashville for no reason. Their defense is demoralizing, physical, and consistent. Scoring first has to be a must the entire series. If the Avalanche can force the Preds to play offensively, they can out pace them. The Avalanche this season have lived and died based on the first goal of the game. So step one is score first.

Step two is taking on of the first two games in Nashville. The Avalanche have shown they are nothing short of dominant when on home ice. If the Avalanche can win the first or second game of the series AND win both home games at home, a third game will come to Pepsi Center with the ability to win the series. Yes it’s a tall order, but this team can beat anyone, any day on home ice.

The third step to winning is staying on top in special teams. The Avalanche have a top 5 PK this year and a top 10 PP. Limiting the Preds on the power play shouldn’t be the biggest challenge, but scoring on their defense, even man up, is incredibly difficult given their stellar defensive depth and near unbeatable goal tending from Pekka Rinne. However, fast teams tend to draw more penalties against defensive teams. Finding a way to capitalize on those man advantages could be the difference in this series.

This series will be long and grueling, but one of the best first round matchups this postseason. If the Avalanche come out of round one, everyone else better watch out. The second round for the Avalanche (if they win in the first round) will feature yet another divisional rival. Either the Minnesota Wild or the Winnipeg jets will play in the second round. Both teams feature a 40 goal scorer and are lethal in the offensive zone with similar play styles. The only edge the Wild have on the Jets is goaltender Devin Dubnyk and the only edge the Jets have on the Wild is a terrifying home-ice advantage. The same thing goes for both of those teams as with the Preds. Throw the regular season out the window, because anyone can win. Divisional playoff games are always extremely intense affairs where the winner in uncertain until the dust settles.

Regardless of who is playing in the second round against the Avalanche, Colorado will have to continue to play fast, win their home games, and score first. This will be the formula all postseason for the 8 seeded Avs.

If the Avalanche move into the Western Conference final, they will most likely be playing the Vegas Golden Knights. The Avalanche struggled mightily this year against the Knights going 1-2 on the season, with the only win coming in a shootout at home. The Knights also have a stellar home record and will be a formidable foe. On the bright side, a bit of a David and Goliath situation may favor the Avalanche. Continuing to push the pace will be the Avs best chance at stunning the Pacific Division winning expansion team.

With a win in the third round, the Avs would move to the Stanley Cup Finals. Likely opponents are the Back to Back and defending Stanley Cup champions Pittsburgh Penguins or the Atlantic Division powerhouse of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both opponents are elite teams that know how to win and are no strangers to the Stanley Cup Finals. Both teams feature lights out goal tending, standup blue line defense, unstoppable playmakers, and experience far beyond that of the Avalanche. The Pens were swept 2-0 this year by the Avs, but that means nothing because playoff Pittsburgh is a whole different beast. The Lightning swept the Avs 2-0 this year in the regular season. The Avs put up a valiant fight against the Lightning in what was a 6-5 thriller and one of the best games in the NHL this season. A series against either team would be fun, fast, and ferocious.

So, in short…

Yes, it will be a challenge. Yes, the Avalanche are the underdogs. Regardless, yes, the Avalanche have a chance to win.

The Colorado Avalanche kickoff their 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs in Nashville, Tennessee, against the Predators. Coverage begins tonight, April 12th, at 7:30 P.M. MT on NBC Sports Network.


Way-Too-Early Super Bowl Prediction

We are quickly approaching the start of the 2017-2018 NFL football season (although not quick enough), teams are starting to form together once again. Those end of the season questions are starting to be answered while creating new ones (I’m looking at you Chicago… four picks to move up one spot for Trubisky? With Watson still on the board?). With the schedule released and the draft over, it’s time to start seriously looking at what this upcoming season will entail.

Here is my Super Bowl 52 prediction.

AFC Championship Game: Oakland Raiders vs New England Patriots

Now before all you Bronco fans start tying your nooses for me, trust me, I don’t want this to happen, but I have to be honest with myself. Plus, if you don’t deep down know this is a very likely possibility, you clearly don’t follow football. Let’s take a look at why this is going to happen:

  1. The Raiders should have been fighting for that AFC Super Bowl spot last year. It was just unfortunate that Derek Carr went down so late. This team also didn’t lose any major components (other than the loyalty of their fan base). They did, however, sign #BeastMode. Oakland’s run game last year was pathetic to say the least, yet Carr was still able to carry that team on his shoulders. Give him a legend of a running back who doesn’t take crap from any defense, and you have something scary.
  2. The Patriots still have Tom Brady and the majority of their Super Bowl 51 team. In addition to a team that didn’t need any more help, the Saints practically gifted them their best receiver. Come on New Orleans, it’s like your TRYING to give Brady another ring.

As much as I hate to say it, I have the Patriots going all the way once again. Assuming they’ll be playing the title game at Gillett Stadium, I don’t think this young Raiders team has what it takes to beat Bill at his own game.

NFC Championship Game: Green Bay Packers vs Dallas Cowboys

This one is pretty easy to justify. Nobody can deny that the NFC has been rather lack luster the last few seasons. The only other teams that I could see being a legitimate title contender would be Seattle or Atlanta, but after seeing how Atlanta responded to losing in the Championship game in 2012, I wouldn’t be surprised if they went 5-11 this season. And for Seattle, while they are a really solid team, they have been far too inconsistent the last two season for me to have any real faith in them beyond the first round. That leaves Dallas and Green Bay as the remaining power-houses left. For those of you still skeptical, here’s why these teams will make it this far.

  1. Aaron Rodgers
  2. The Cowboys were scary enough as it was last year with their kill rookie duo, but now they have experience. Also Dallas somehow managed to upgrade its already nasty O-Line. If the Cowboys don’t make it to the Conference Championship game, their season will be a disappointment, especially with the lack of competition in NFC as a whole.

The king of the NFC (which is not as glorious as it sounds) will end up being the Cowboys. Aaron Rodgers is probably the best quarterback of this era, but the fact is he just doesn’t have a Super bowl caliber team around him. Rodgers will be able to pick apart every other team in the NFC with ease without an all-star roster, but when he comes up against a team that can actually score, it will just be too much for him to do all on his own (see Atlanta-Green Bay last year).

This leaves us with a Dallas vs New England Super Bowl. Yuck. As much as I dislike both teams, I can’t deny the talent these two teams have. But the real question is, who will be the Super Bowl 52 Champs? Well that’s easy.

The New England Patriots will repeat AGAIN, cementing their claim to the best dynasty in football history, and you can thank our friends down in The Big Easy for that. As this team showed against Atlanta in last year’s season finale, no matter how many points you put up on them, you will still lose. This team just has too much experience and talent. I hate saying this because I absolutely cannot stand the Patriots or Brady, but New England is just better than any team in the NFL by a long shot. While the Cowboys should put up a fight and not just roll over in the fourth quarter, their young team just won’t be able to hang on such a big stage. If there is one thing the Cowboys are good at, it’s disappointing their fans, and I expect nothing less from them this year.

So with only a few months until pre-season, let’s all keep our fingers crossed and hope I’m terribly wrong.

For sports talk for everyone, keep it right here, and thanks for reading!

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Champions League Semi-Final Battles

With the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League right around the corner, Europe’s best square-off in two epic ties that will decide who will move on to fight for the Champions League Crown. The four teams involved showcase some of the world’s best players.

Spain has a strong showing in this semifinal with two of the four teams coming from their premiere division. Better yet, both teams are based in one of the world’s top soccer powerhouses: Madrid. The team that has been favored to win the tournament from group stage, Real Madrid, will take on their intercity rival, Atletico Madrid. While Real is heavily favored in this match-up, the two teams are known for their top-class duels when playing in the Spanish league. Fighting for both the Champions League and La Liga titles, Real Madrid is led by the player who many consider the greatest footballer to ever grace the game. Cristiano Ronaldo, having just reached 100 all-time goals in UEFA Champions League games, will lead the charge. On the other side of the field, Atletico will be looking to exploit Real’s missing Welsh super star, Gareth Bale, who reinjured his leg in a competition against FC Barcelona last week. Atletico’s lightning-fast Yannick Carrasco and highly skilled Antoine Griezmann will be working hand-in-hand in an effort to upset their rivals, seeking their first ever Champions League title.

The other match-up features AC Monaco FC taking on Italy’s best, Juventus. While Juventus is favored in this competition, Monaco showcases an incredible young talent in Kylian Mbappe. Mbappe has torn up the competition in this year’s tournament, showing he is more than capable of competing at the highest level, even though he is only 18. However, Mbappe and his team will face their tallest order yet. Juventus boasts one of the best defenses in the world, backed by World Cup champion Gigi Buffon. Juve’s defense has only conceded five goals throughout the tournament, and was able to completely shut out their quarterfinals’ foe, and 2015 Champions, FC Barcelona. With such a daunting task ahead, Monaco must play a perfect game to advance to the finals.

So, who will emerge victorious and claim the right to play for the most coveted crown in European football? Only time will tell.

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Big Questions in Denver after 33-10 Loss on Christmas

After an exciting weekend of football, both teams who competed in Super Bowl 50 have officially been eliminated from play off contention. For Bronco fans this may come as a shock, but let’s really break this down and see what happened to the defending champs season.

With only a game left, the Broncos have let their playoff hope slip through their fingers with a lack luster performance on Sunday Night Football. The Chiefs were able to put up over 300 yards in the first half of the game. With a mix of consistent offensive play, explosive 70 yard plays from Hill and Kelce, and a denfense riddled with injuries, the Broncos went down early. The Broncos couldn’t over come a lack luster performance by the O-Line (once again) and of course the fumbles.

Now the initial reaction of the majority of the fan base when a team’s offense doesn’t perform well in a season two things are said. The first is blaming the quarter back. In the case of the Broncos, this is happening as I write, but I am here to tell you in words of one of the best quarterbacks of this era… “R-E-L-A-X… relax!” (Aaron Rodgers).

Trevor is not the problem with this offense. 12 Touch downs and 9 interceptions in 12 games is a stat very similar to that of Tom Brady’s first season being a starter. I’m by no means saying Trevor is the next TB12 but I’m saying I can get behind a TS13. The difference between Trevor and Tom’s first seasons, is Brady had both a run game and an offensive line protecting him. TREVOR HAD NEITHER.

So, how do you fix the Broncos? Whelp, lets look back two off seasons. Specifically, the off season following the loss in Super Bowl 48 (you know the one we don’t talk about). John Elway saw we needed a defense. Then he went out and signed T.J. Ward, Aquib Talib, and Demarcus Ware. Fast forward two years, the Broncos are back in the Super Bowl, but with one of the best defenses in the history of the game. Now (hopefully) John Elway will do John Elway things and magically make our offense work, but I don’t want to get my hopes to high. Just an Offensive line member or two and maybe a Christian McCaffery would suffice.

The second thing that gets thrown around after an unsuccessful season is it is the head coach’s fault. This is also happening in the Bronco fan base (though not as much as the call for Trevor’s head, however). This is also a knee-jerk reaction to a rough season. If you blame Kubiak for the season being bad that means you are blaming Kubiak for CJ Anderson’s season ending injury in October, Derek Wolfe’s neck inury, Brandon Marshal’s foot injury, the injuries Trevor suffered causing him to miss two games (one of which we narrowly lost), and the fact that Trevor only has an average of 2.3 seconds to throw the ball. The only thing about Kubiak that needs a change is he needs to stop calling the plays. The play calling this year continually put the Broncos, and more specifically Trevor, in very difficult situations.

The Moral of this article is, it’s going to be okay. This is the first time since 2010 they have missed the play offs, and that year Denver had a 4-12 record under Josh McDaniels. This is still a good team. The Broncos had an incredibly tough schedule and lost a many games by a single score. You can expect to be the best every year. Now lets all just enjoy some good winter football, and look forward to the off season!

It’s time for the Playoffs

With the recent end to the college football season, we get to look forward to all the bowl games, and of course the most important, the College Football Playoffs. Featuring four premiere teams, its going to be a great post season.

In the Semifinals we have the favorite in Alabama playing the Pac-12 champion Washington. This game is going to be full of high powered offenses clashing together. With Alabama boasting an undefeated record through the regular season, its going to take a perfect game from Washington on both sides of the ball to hand the first and most important loss of the season to Alabama.

On the other side of the bracket, the 2015 champions are up against a hot Clemson team lead by arguably the best quarterback in the nation. This is going to be the game to watch in the semifinals. The winner of this game has the best chance to take down a scary Crimson Tide that is on a mission.

In the predictions apartment, I’m going to have to give the edge in the first game to Alabama. While yes Washington made the playoffs, I just cannot see this team knocking off ‘Bama. In my eyes, this year there are only 3 top tier teams in the league and Washington is not one of them. Playing the unstoppable Tide in the final is going to be the 2015 champs, THE Ohio State University. Ohio State not only has had an incredible season (despite not winning the Big 10), and has the best chance to keep Alabama from repeating.

One thing we know for sure, the playoffs this year will be incredible.

Defeating the Undefeated

Going into week five of the regular season, three teams remain unbeaten. Teams around the league hit the drawing boards to wonder how to put the first blemish on the record. The question is, how does one do that?

Lets start with the defending Super Bowl Champs, the Denver Broncos. Now with a functional offense to keep the dominant defense rested, it seems no one can solve the puzzle of Wade Philips. To beat this defense a team needs to win on defense. You cannot throw against the best cornerback duo in the league, and a dominant front seven prevents any runs from breaking out. The best chance a team has is to force the young quarter back Trevor Siemian to make mistakes behind a questionable offensive line. Starting with a short field is the best hope of getting points on the Orange Crush Defense.

Moving on the the Purple Rein defense of the Minnesota Vikings. Lead by a formidable front seven, this teams defense is being placed among defenses like the ’85 Bears, 2000 Ravens, and the 2015 Broncos. With DBs more than capable of shutting down receivers like Odell Beckham Jr. in one on one coverage, causes the quarterback to spend to much time with the ball in their hands. This is one of the reason this team is ranked second in sacks this season. The defense of this Vikings team controls the game. If you let this team smother you, your defense will eventually wear down allowing a steady offense lead by Sam Bradford to work its way into the end zone. Scoring points early is another good way to beat this team. With such a suffocating defense, they wait until the opposition is worn out then strikes. The final way to beat this team takes it back to the basics… PROTECT THE FOOTBALL. Giving a quarterback like Bradford a short field to work with is a sure fire way to let up points and deflate your defense.

Finally we come to the surprise breakout team of the season. The Rookie lead Philadelphia Eagles are sitting at a comfortable 3-0 and taking out the Pittsburgh Steelers in week three and taking a rest on the bye week. This team is built around rookie QB Carson Wentz. So far Wentz has shown poise in the pocket, completely over 50% of his passes. However, these passes are predominantly short passes. This slow offense burns out opposing defenses between quick passes, strong running, and time consuming drives. To beat this team, you have to force Carson to throw over the top. Playing a press coverage and making the Eagles receivers beat your DBs and have Carson test his long game would be the best way of toppling this unexpected giant. A soft spot on this team is their defense. Wear out the defense with long strong drives. Keep Wentz off the field. Those are the keys to victory.

Looking forward to another Sunday of football, all we can do is wait for to see how who comes out on top.

Wild, Wild, Wild Card Race

With the 2015-20156 MLB regular season coming to an end, there are still many questions surrounding the post season. Six teams are currently fighting for four wild card spots, and the race could not be any closer.

Starting the NL, the Mets, who are notorious for causing the NL leaders the Chicago Cubs post season fits, hold the first wild card spot, but are only a game and a half above the second spot San Francisco Giants. However, only half a game behind the Giants are the Saint Louis Cardinals. This race is extremely tight. Fortunately for the Mets, both its competitors are just can’t squeak out a win playing below .500 teams. The race for that second spot is the real point of interest. Instead of watching these two playoff worthy teams seeing which one will drop a game and give the other a lead, everyone is watching to see which team will win a game. Both teams are on a down skid at a time most teams need to be heating up. All we can do now is sit back and watch.

On the the AL, Toronto and Baltimore’s Oriels are in a dead lock tie only a game and a half up on the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers are known for being scary at this time of the year and into the post season. The race for the second wild card spot is the opposite from the NL as if either Toronto or Baltimore drop games now, the Tigers are in prime position to steal that second spot. With the season ending on Sunday, it will be interesting to not only see who the two teams that make it to post season are, but in which spot they land.

To keep up with the Wild Card race, check out this link ( )

Who Can Stop Barcelona?

With the UEFA Champions League back, all eyes fall upon the 2015 champs and current favorites which just happens to be one of the best teams to ever play the game. Of course I am talking about FC Barcelona. With and formidable front three in Neymar, Messi, and Suarez, backed by the veteran captain Iniesta and the Croatian super star Rakitic, and a stone wall keeper in ter Stegen, this team looks poised to reclaim their title as champions.

Although this elite squad may seem unbeatable, many teams believe they have what it takes to knock the Spanish juggernaut off their mighty throne. The only question is, who can ACTUALLY do it?

The first team that comes to mind when someone says Barcelona is none other than their mortal La Liga rivals and 2016 Champions League victors, Real Madrid. Boasting a player that many would argue as the best player to ever play the game, Cristiano Ronaldo plans to lead his incredibly stacked team to sit upon the Champions League throne as the greatest football club. Real Madrid has a wicked attack that gives even the best defenses in the world problems. Lead by the infamous Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, the fast pace, relentless pressure the team is capable of makes teams wilt allowing, these star strikers to put up goals late in the game. A solid midfield led by the young James Rodriguez, runs circles around their opponents with sharp passing, incredible pace, and even incredible shooting talent of their own. A roster like this stacked with big names such as Luka Modric, Pepe, Toni Kroos, and Sergio Ramos, wouldn’t be complete without a lights out keeper. Fortunately for them, that is exactly what Keylor Navas is. This Spanish squad is here to win and needs to be seriously considered for the crown.

The next team that has a legitimate chance at stealing the title is German FC Bayern Munich. Bayern builds its team off of the best keeper in the world. Manuel Neuer showed the world in the last world cup why no one can compete with him. His ability to in goal allows his team to put teams away with very few goals. Not that they can’t score though. The German attack led by Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller provide a tough match up for the highest tier defenses in the world. Shown time and time again, this club is simply stacked. Combined with midfielders Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Arturo Vidal, and the Portuguese star Renato Sanches, and the shutdown defense of David Alaba and Mats Hummels, this team is no pretender to the throne.

Finally, you cannot forget the 2015 runners up Juventus. For any of you who forgot how the 2015 championship game went, here’s the highlight real ( I’m sure Juventus wishes they had those 4 minutes back. They came SO CLOSE to glory. If it wasn’t for those two back to back goals, that game may have ended very differently. However, despite the loss, they’re back… and they won’t be stopped this time. With the summer acquisition of one of Barcelona’s star backs Dani Alves, their defense consisting of Medhi Benatia, Leonardo Bonucci, and Stephan Lichtsteiner, looks to shutout even the most impressive assaults on goal. Backed buy a veteran keep in Gianluigi Buffon, and Gonzalo Higuain at the tip of the spear, Juventus is looking to take whats their this season.

With these four teams fighting it out for the title, this years Champions League is going to be just ridiculous. Who do you think has what it takes to take it all?

Two Ships with out a Captain, Trying to Stay Afloat.

The position of quarterback is likely the most important position. This is true for teams whether they are run heavy, pass heavy, or even defensive heavy. The quarter back, other than throwing or handing off the ball, is responsible for being a game manager. This is something that takes years to master.

You may be wondering why I reminded you of this. Well if you haven’t heard two teams destined for seasons ending deep in the playoffs are with out their captains at the helm. With Teddy Bridgewater of the Minnesota Vikings out for the season with a torn ACL, and Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys out for 6-10 weeks with a fractured vertebrae, many questions surround these once hopeful teams’ seasons.

In week 3 of the preseason the Dallas Cowboys were in a show down with the recently hot Seattle Seahawks. On a scramble play Romo was taken down from behind while trying to slide, landing with the weight of Cliff Avril on his shoulders. Immediately Romo grabbed his back writhing in pain. Now if your a cowboys fan you were pry thinking, “Here we go again…”, while watching your franchise quarterback being helped off the field. A few weeks later, news got out that Romo would be out somewhere between 6 and 10 weeks.

Well, lucky for the Cowboys, Romo isn’t out for the season. This means if the Cowboys can get to week six with a .500 record, they might just be able to make a late season push for the play offs. The only question is, can they do it? If so, where do they start?

I’ll tell you where, Dak Prescott.

“But Baylor, He’s a rookie!” Exactly. He’s a very talented Rookie. To get a .500  the Cowboys need to win between 3 and 5 games. So why does this Matter?

With Prescott being a rookie, he has no NFL tape. That means the Cowboys coaching staff can do whatever they want with him and no team in the NFL will be able to prepare like they normally would.

With an unpredictable, athletic rookie behind a monster O-line, armed with the number 4 overall pick in Ezekiel Elliot, the Cowboys might just be able to scrape together some wins before the rest of the league catches on to Dak and his fellow rookie teammate Ezekiel.

Now what about the Vikings. With their quarter back out for the seasons after tearing his ACL in a non-contact drill in practice, the Vikings, and their fans, are searching for answers.

Fear not my friends in purple! Adrian Peterson is here to save the day (or season).

Arguably the best active running back in the NFL, Adrian Peterson has the potential to do enough damage to opponents’ defense to open up for Sam Bradford (A ridiculously underrated quarterback) to carve up.

The only issue that may be a point of concern is Bradford is known for being injury prone. If the Vikings O-line and Bradford can stay healthy, the Vikings can still be the scary team they boasted in the playoffs last year and going into the off season.