Formation | Community | Culture

The Monday Review | 22 Sept. 2014

Welcome to The Monday Review, folks. That’s right, each Monday (or at least every now and then) you’ll be able to find award-winning[1] reflection on the world of sports and culture from Fidelity Sports.

What happened over the weekend? What should we make of this new development? What should I be watching for this week? It’s all here, y’all. Cancel your newspaper and magazine subscriptions and consider taking Mondays off work. This is going to be fun.

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NFL Review

We’re just three weeks into the NFL season, and here’s what we’ve learned off the field: (1) The league is a complete mess, and Roger Goodell needs to be fired yesterday. (2) The NFL can be saved, and we have some ideas on how/who might do it. (3) But admittedly, the responsibility for the league’s problems lie not solely with Goods, but also with the 32 team owners who apparently are in near-unanimous support of the Commish, meaning: don’t hold your breath on changes coming any time soon.

On the field, here’s what else we’ve learned: (1) The Seahawks and Broncos are the best teams in the league, but they are anything but locks to return to the Super Bowl. Both have shown significant deficiencies. Denver could easily be 1-2 right now, and has spent roughly 7 of its 13 quarters (counting last night’s OT) looking like a 9-7 team. Still, in those other six quarters, Peydey has thrown for about a million yards and a hundred touchdowns. Similarly, Seattle’s capable of dominance on both sides of the ball, but both sides are far from perfect. We’re only three games in, of course, but I wouldn’t rule out a 10-6 season from Seattle. How good is Russell Wilson? We really have no idea: according to his QB Rating (108.9), he’s one of the best in the league; according to the more sophisticated QBR scale (54.2), he’s the 23rd best QB in the league so far. IMHO, I think he’s a smaller Alex Smith with a team/system that better hides his weaknesses. Hear me on this: Russell Wilson is not a Pro Bowl quality quarterback.

With that said about the ‘Hawks and Bronc’s, here are your three-weeks-in Fidelity NFL Power Ranks (including anticipated final records):

1. Bengals (13-3)
2. Seahawks (12-4)
3. Eagles (12-4)
4. Broncos (11-5)
5. Cardinals (11-5)
6. Chargers (10-6)
7. Panthers (10-6)
8. Lions (10-6)
9. Colts (10-6)
10. Patriots (9-7)

Also, of note: two first-round rookie picks, Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles and Minnesota’s Teddy Bridgewater (Teddy B!!!) made their debuts yesterday. Including 3-game Oakland starter Derek Carr, here are your updated Rookie QB Grades:

Bridgewater: B+
Bortles: B-
Carr: C
Manziel: IC

Lastly, my beloved Chiefs pulled out a BIG win in Miami yesterday afternoon, pounding the ‘Phins 34-15 despite resting seven starters with injuries (including All-Pro’s Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry, and Derrick Johnson). Counting last weekend’s slim loss at Denver—a game we should have won, and certainly would have won by 10+ points with a healthy roster—you’ve got to be pretty happy with the Chiefs right now, despite the 1-2 record. We’ve got a tough stretch of games ahead against the Patriots, 49ers and Chargers, but I’m still expecting a 9-7 finish and Wild Card appearance. Hate all you want. This is still a playoff team.

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College Football Review

Just like in the NFL, there’s no early-season favorite in college football. Basically, everyone has played two or three games well and had one game that was a near/complete embarrassment. Here are the tiers of greatness just 1/3 of the way into the season:

Tier One: Playoff Locks

Oregon
Florida State

Even with a loss (such as Oregon at UCLA and Florida State at Louisville), both of these teams will be in the first-ever four-team January 1 playoff.

Tier Two: SEC Greats

Alabama
Texas A&M
Auburn
South Carolina
Georgia
Ole Miss
Mississippi State
LSU
Missouri

The other two playoff teams will come from the SEC. It’s just that simple. All nine of these teams have the potential to win out, and my prediction is that Alabama and South Carolina win out and take the spots. The SEC is so good right now, if the season was ten games and a 16-team playoff (which would be AWESOME!!!), the Southeastern Conf would probably send nine teams, and maybe ten, if Florida gets their crap together.

Tier Three: Good Teams in Bad Leagues

Oklahoma
Baylor
UCLA
Stanford
Southern Cal
Michigan State
Notre Dame
Ohio State

Sure, Oklahoma or Baylor could win out and steal a second playoff spot from the SEC, but if history has told us anything, it’s that a couple Former Big 12 teams will look really good all year then lose on the last week to Iowa State, Oklahoma State or some other mid-major.

Also, the Heisman race is essentially a two-man race between Oregon QB Marcus Mariota and Georgia RB Todd Gurley. There are a handful of other great players this year, but most of the serious threats to the hardware just stood up on a table at the student union, yelled obscenities like a moron, and relegated himself to the third round of the NFL draft.

***

2014 Fidelity Music Awards: 2014 Album of the Year

Lecrae wins.

Yes, I know there’s three and a half months left this year. But he wins. That is all.

Runners-up include albums from U2, Coldplay, The Black Keys, Iron & Wine, Over the Rhine, Lord Huron, Sandra McCracken, and the Inside Llewyn Davis soundtrack.

***

Major League Baseball

That’s right, I’m finally writing something about baseball! Why has it taken so long? Two reasons:

1. Baseball Season Starts in September: The first 140 games are basically preseason. You can’t possibly play 162 3-hour-long games at full speed—as Jerry Seinfeld so brilliantly compared to every other form of daily work (including stand up). Now, it’s September and it’s on!

2. I’m Deathly Afraid of Jinxing the Royals: Because the first 140 games are just preseason, I have been trying not to take the KC Royals’ best shot at making the playoffs since 1985. But then Sports Illustrated went and put us on the cover, so I’m pretty sure we’re jinxed anyway.

Royals Manager Ned Yost

Royals Manager Ned Yost

But on the plus side, the SI Jinx induced losing streak put us 2.5 games back of Detroit on Saturday, which effectively made us The Underdogs of the AL Central. Back where we feel comfortable (out of first place), we got our swagger back, beat Detroit on Sunday, and re-launched our playoff run with that “nobody believes in us” chip on our shoulders.

Think about it, fellow Royals fans: Would you rather win the division by taking a big lead in September and hold on for dear life, fending off a clearly better team—or by coming back from 2.5 games back with eight to go to steal the division from the stunned-and-shocked Tigers?!?

By next Monday, we’ll have an AL Central Champion. By then, the Royals could have as many as 91 wins. Or we could have 88-90 and a respectable wild card play-in game card. Or we could have completely missed the playoffs, giving up a big ALC lead just like in 2003. No, no, no!!! Don’t let the thought enter your mind!

THE KC ROYALS WILL MAKE THE PLAYOFFS!!!!!!!!!!

See you next Monday, friends.

***

[1] “Award-winning” is a phrase used very loosely around the Fidelity Sports offices.

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