Volume I, Issue 6
NFL Weekend Recap
The NFL weekend went, surprisingly, as planned. The best teams in the league either won (Broncos, Chiefs, Dolphins, Ravens, Cardinals, Lions, Packers, Eagles and Seahawks) or were on bye weeks (Patriots and Colts). The only surprises were the Browns’ dominant victory in Cincinnati (granted, if you’re still taking Thursday Night Football seriously, meaning as anything other than the NFL’s display of scheduling brutality to the risk of player safety and the compromise of actual preparation and game planning, then you’ve got another thing coming) and the Steelers’ loss to the Jets, which is still a football team in the New York/New Jersey area, to my surprise.
So, not much has changed from last weekend’s mid-season review, but since it’s been a while since I’ve posted my deeply-subjective Fidelity Power Rankings (for good measure, I’ll add my beloved SRS rating from Pro Football Reference) here.
1. Denver (12.2)
2. KC Chiefs (9.4)
3. New England (9.3)
4. Indianapolis (9.1)
5. Green Bay (6.8)
6. Arizona (5.9)
7. Philly (6.1)
8. Baltimore (4.7)
9. Miami (7.8)
10. Detroit (2.3)
Chiefs vs. Seahawks Preview
For the record, Seattle is ranked #11 in my power rankings, and I’m excitedly looking forward to next Sunday’s showdown (dare I say, Super Bowl preview?) in Kansas City. Look how much the Seahawks and Chiefs have in common.
QB Russell Wilson: 1840 pass yards, 11 TD, 5 INT, 89.9 pass rating
RB Marshawn Lynch: 105.6 yards/game, 1.25 TD/game
Defense: 2nd in yards allowed, 10th in points allowed
QB Alex Smith: 1900 pass yards, 11 TD, 4 INT, 92.9 pass rating
RB Jamaal Charles: 94.3 yards/game, 1.14 TD/game
Defense: 7th in yards allowed, 2nd in points allowed
But don’t let the identical records and similar stats fool you: the Chiefs are a much better football team. Just look at their SRS ratings (9.4 to 4.6)! That means that the most analytical estimation of this weekend’s upcoming game puts the Chiefs at a 6.8 point favorite (SRS adds 2.0 for home field advantage). Why? Because the Seahawks play in the weaker conference (the top 5 teams in SRS rankings are still in the AFC). Comparing the Chiefs and Seahawks at this point is like comparing an 8-1 Alabama against an 8-1 Baylor. Yes, the records are the same, but the Strength of Schedule couldn’t be more different. (I’ll spare you my continued rant against conference imbalances—the East in the NBA, the NFC South, and the Big 12? Yuck.)
So I’ll go one step further than the SRS with my Fidelity prediction—always passionate, rarely accurate TM—as usual. (And for the record, I’m sticking with my season-long prediction that the Packers, not the Seahawks, will represent the NFC in SB49—Aaron Rodgers’ 6 first-half TD passes didn’t suggest anything otherwise.)
New Pictures for that Fidelity Life
Where did all these great new pictures of life in Kentucky come from?, you ask. I dropped my contract with the Kentucky Project—which I still support—in order to feature photography from our good friend Allison Wopata and her Grace of Wonder Photo. The pictures featured here—obviously, with exceptions made for ridiculous sports pics—have been taken from locations around the Commonwealth, including Cherokee Park, St Matthews, Anchorage, Jeff Memorial, and Red River Gorge.
2014/15 NBA Preview
Now, dear Fidelity faithful, the moment you’ve been waiting all fall for—the 2014/15 NBA Season Preview!!! This could/should be its own 4500 word essay, but since no one’s as big an NBA fan as me, I’ll condense this as much as possible. You are welcome.
Let’s take a look at our 2014/15 NBA (expected win totals out of 82 games, at right, according to the Fidelity Sports Council of Champions):
1. San Antonio Spurs (56)
2. Oklahoma City Thunder (52)
3. Los Angeles Clippers (58)
4. Golden State Warriors (54)
This year more than any other, regular season win totals don’t equal power rankings. The Spurs will run at about 80% speed all year, letting their aging stars rest, their bench to make major contributions, and their best play to come in May and June. The Thunder are the biggest threat to the Spurs, but injuries to Durant and Westbrook will mean a lower playoff seed for them as well. (As usual, these win totals probably don’t add up to a correct number, because ain’t nobody got time for that.)
Solid Playoff Teams
5. Houston Rockets (51)
6. Portland TrailBlazers (50)
7. Memphis Grizzlies (50)
8. Chicago Bulls (55)
9. Dallas Mavs (48)
10. Cleveland Cavs (52)
11. Washington Wizards (48)
12. Toronto Raptors (48)
13. Miami Heat (47)
Like last year, the Eastern Conference won’t have any true championship-quality teams, but will have to send someone. The only four teams that are deserving of playoff spots? The Bulls, Cavs, Wizards, Raptors, and Heat. The other three seeds should be given to the Suns, Pelicans, and Kentucky Wildcats. You’ve almost got to feel baad for the West’s Rockets, Blazers, and Grizz, because all three could have a chance to win the East. Instead, they’ll be fighting for the 6-seed out West. So it goes.
Trending Upward—Future Contenders
14. Phoenix Suns (45)
15. New Orleans Pelicans (42)
16. Utah Jazz (34)
In five years, the Pelicans and Jazz will be the NBA’s best–along with Washington, led by Wall, Beal, and Kevin Durant!!! The two heir apparents to Durant for NBA’s Best Player can be found here: New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, who at age 21 is already averaging 24 points, 12 boards, 4.5 blocks per game with a PER (player efficiency) of 34.9 (best in the NBA), and Utah’s 19-year old Australian phenom Dante Exum, who in his first week in the NBA is already averaging 14 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds per 40 minutes (starters’ minutes) while shooting 49% from the field and maintaining a PER of 15.1. LEGIT! Also not to be missed here: Utah is coached by none other than the man who cut me from the walk-on list at Mizzou in 2002, Quin Snyder. Although he clearly doesn’t recognize talent when he sees it in a Six-three, 175-pound “White Durant,” I’m rooting for him anyway.
17. Denver Nuggets (39)
18. Sacramento Kings (36)
19. Charlotte Hornets (40)
20. Atlanta Hawks (40)
21. Brooklyn Nets (39)
22. New York Knicks (38)
23. Indiana Pacers (36)
24. Detroit Pistons (32)
If I feel bad for anyone, it’s the Pacers. My favorite team in the East saw its Finals dreams dissolve when the best player in the conference, Paul George, had his leg snapped in half by an international hoop base that was approx. three feet too close to the rim in the FIBA Summer League. These teams’ seasons are wasted because they’re not good enough to make a playoff run and not terrible enough to land in the top six of the 2015 draft. Speaking of…
Tanking for Picks—And Their Rewards
25. Los Angeles Lakers (32): #6 Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Kentucky, freshman
26. Minnesota TimberWolves (30): #5 Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Lithuania
27. Boston Celtics (30): #4 Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona, freshman
28. Orlando Magic (28): #3 Aaron Harrison, SG, Kentucky, sophomore
29. Milwaukee Bucks (24): #2 Montrezl Harrell, SF/PF, Louisville, junior
30. Philadelphia 76ers (18): #1 Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke, freshman
It pays to be terrible!!
Playoffs and Awards
PG Steph Curry (Golden State)
SG Kobe Bryant (LA Lakers)
SF LeBron James (Cleveland)
PF Blake Griffin (LA Clippers)
PF Anthony Davis (New Orleans)
League MVP: Anthony Davis
Rookie of the Year: Dante Exum
Eastern Conference Finals: Bulls over Cavs in six
Western Conference Finals: Spurs over Warriors in six
NBA Finals: SPURS!!! over Bulls in five
I hope you’re happy, NBA haters—only 700 words.
Kanye West Lyric of the Week
50 told me, Go ‘head switch the style up
And if they hate, then let them hate
And watch the money pile up.
—Kanye West, “Good Life (feat. T-Pain)”*
* Not an endorsement in any way (contents explicit).
Which NFL Teams Get Relocated and/or Renamed in 2015?
(1) St Louis Rams
(2) Oakland Raiders
(3) Jacksonville Jaguars
(4) Washington Redskins
A. St Louis, MO
B. Oakland, CA
C. Brooklyn, NY
D. Jacksonville, FL
E. Los Angeles, CA
F. San Antonio, TX
G. London, England, UK
H. Washington, DC
I. Las Vegas, NV
J. Louisville, KY
Go ahead and make your guesses! Answers are listed at the bottom of this page.
2014 Book of the Year Nominees
Best books of the year—published between the fall of 2013 and the fall of 2014.
Dallas Willard, Living in Christ’s Presence: Final Words on Heaven and the Kingdom of God
John Ortberg, Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You
Richard Plass and Jim Cofield, The Relational Soul: Moving From False Self to Deep Connection
Alan Fadling, An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest (April 2013)
Life, Health & Education
Ben Mast, Second Forgetting: Remembering the Power of the Gospel During Alzheimer’s Disease
Paul Tough, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character
Diane Ravitch, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools
Jeff Speck, Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time
Tim Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering
Elyse Fitzpatrick, Found in Him: The Joy of the Incarnation and Our Union with Christ
James KA Smith, How (Not) To Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor
Daniel Montgomery and Timothy P Jones, PROOF: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace
Mike Cosper, The Stories We Tell: How Movies and TV Long For and Echo the Truth
Leadership & Work
Matt Perman, What’s Best Next
Steve Brown, How to Talk So People Will Listen
Stewart D Friedman, Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life
Jack Burns, et al., Organizational Leadership
Wendell Berry, This Day: Collected and New Sabbath Poems
Seth Davis, Wooden: A Coach’s Life
Malcolm Gladwell, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings: Poems
Tune in next week—or whenever I get around to it—for winners (and other books I think of that I liked and were published in the last 12 months).
See you next time, lovers and haters!!!
NFL Relocation Answers
1/E: Los Angeles Rams
2/F: San Antonio Lone Stars (formerly known as the Raiders, still black and silver)
3/G: London FC (formerly known as the Jaguars, now blue and red)
4/H: Washington Sporting DC (formerly known as the Redskins, still burgundy and gold)