NFL 2014 Teams to watch: NFC

Now that we’ve told you who to watch for from the AFC side of thing’s, let us take a look at the NFC’s representatives.

Packers: Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers are joined at the hip like nobody’s business. The Pack’s infrastructure is built from adamantium, and is usually the case with the “always mentioned” squads in the NFL who just seem to get it right year in and year out. These cats’ don’t rebuild, they reload!! If you’ve got your money on this bunch to be the NFC rep in this year’s Super Bowl, I’d say that ‘s about as safe a bet as you can make.

Eagles: I know D Jack is no longer in the mix, but that won’t slow down Chip and co. not one bit. As it stands, I seem to have been DEAD WRONG about Chip and his brand of offense. This guy has already shown that he understands how to use, and get most out of whoever is on the roster; something the Browns – 15 yrs and counting- have yet to figure out. His offensive philosophy can be downright scary at times. Again, D Jack is a big loss, but I believe Chip will find a way to compensate for the loss.

Saints: There seems to be a common thread amongst teams that figure to consistently be in the mix. A good head coach (Payton), and a franchise QB (Brees), and what you get is a greater than 75% chance your team will be in post season conversation each and every go round. Nothing says that more than how the Saints fared during the 1- year suspension of Payton; Brees, and the rest of Benson’s Saints had an ok year, but not like the Super Bowl year when Payton was on the sidelines. As long as those two (Payton/Brees) are together, Saints are a playoff foregone conclusion.

Seahawks: We all know the Russell Wilson story by now. It’s a high crime that “Wilson Mania” falls far below “Manznia”, and Wilson has down far more in the way of production on the field as Manziel has in filming TV commercials; blame it on the basanova. This squad was a Marshawn Lynch fumble (on the 2-yd line) in 2012 against the Falcons from going to the Bowl that year. As long as the mantra in Hawks camp- “every week is championship week!”- remains the same, I see know reason why they shouldn’t repeat.

Cowboys: The boys’ have an absolute dawg in Dez Braynt; the question is, can Romo finally get over the regular season phenom, playoff putrid player he is now known for? I could give a crap less about QBR and any other stat people use to try and justify a players performance. What Romo lacks is unquantifiable. There is enough talent on this squad to make some noise, but it all starts with Tony.

Sleepers:

Rams: I’m not so sure I clearly understand all the concern surrounding the loss of Bradford. He was slightly above average in my estimation, and not nearly worth the 13-16 million he is supposed to make next season. That doesn’t mean Shaun Hill will thrill, but Jeff Fisher is solid enough as an NFL head coach that I think the Rams will figure it out. Bradford going down does not hurt this squad like it would the Browns were Bradford in Cleveland. Because of Fisher, Rams will be a tough out for just about any team this season.

Cardinals: Arians, “Honey Badger”, Palmer, Peterson, and Fitzgerald. If the Cards are going to make any noise this season it’ll be up to these five to anchor a playoff push this season. I think it can be done, simply because Arians’ will give the oppositions DB’s a severe workout night in and night out, and a healthy Peterson/Honey Badger combo will make it a whole lot less stressful on the Cards’ pass rush. Not to mention Fitzgerald came very close to an 1,000 yrd season (952) in 2013 playing with what seemed like a myriad of qb’s.

Vikings: All Day Peterson should flourish under Norv Turner, who I think was prematurely ousted in Cleveland. If Vikes could get to a Wild Card (2012) against the Pack on “ALL DAYS” ┬áback, with Norv, they may just win a round this time.

Bears: Their version of ” The Big 3″ with Jeffery, Cutler, and Marshall, poses an offensive explosion that could be downright offensive once the lights come on. The question is, can the D bring something to the party? Anything? If so, Houston, the entire NFL will have a problem.

Well, that’ll do it for my teams to watch in 2014. As always, let us know what you think at: http://www.theshopreport.com.

Up Next: Week 1 matchup predictions

NBA 2K13 In Season Review: Memphis Grizzlies

I’ve mentioned before there are only a handful of NBA teams’ who’s style of play could survive- even thrive- were the 3-point line removed from today’s game. The Memphis Grizzlies’ were one of those teams’ until they dumbfoundedly traded away Rudy Gay. I don’t care what anyone says, trading your leading scorer (17.2 pts/g) for the past two seasons, franchise career leader in games, minutes, and steals, for the likes of Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye, and Ed Davis is straight “Paprikash” if I do say so myself. Not to mention, Gay left Memphis ranked second in points (8,562) second in field goals made (3,293) third in three-pointers made (488) third in free throws made (1,488), third in rebounds (2,758) and fifth in blocks (420). How do you legitimately replace that kind of production? You don’t; especially not with Prince, Day, and Davis.

What bothers me most is that the trade took place at a time when the Grizzlies’ were a strong 4th seed in the Western Conference and legit title contenders this year. Rudy was that guy who could not only guard the other team’s best player- on the perimeter and anywhere else- he was the one player who could successfully and consistently create his own shot! That’s why i’m not surprised the Grizzlies’ have gone 1-3 since the trade. Gay’s presence will be sorely missed; it allowed for all the other pieces to work in a way similar to what Ray Lewis had with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens. Not necessarily to the same degree, but a strong presence nonetheless. By the way, those three losses since the trade were to the Suns, Hawks, and Thunder; a Thunder team the Grizzlies beat back in November when Rudy completely undressed America’s next favorite Kevin Durant. The Griz’ are currently in the 5th spot and fallin’ fast with Golden State nippin’ at their heels.

I also don’t believe management’s position about Gay not being a “max player” and the over used “luxury tax” argument. Yes the penalties may be punative, and flexability a factor, but the CBA”s(collective bargining agreement) intended “take care of business now, so you don’t get penalized down the road” only applies to those teams’ who have misused their funds from day one. The Grizzlies’ would not have been affected by the ramifications of the luxury tax until two years’ down the road. Surely there are enough intelligent folks in the Memphis organization who could have figured out a way to keep Gay; at least another year anyway. I thought there was a good chance the Grizzlies could surprise come playoff time. I guess the surprise was getting rid of Rudy Gay before his time, and blowing up the franchise like a landmine. What a shame.