It seems as if every NFL season, there's always that one team who looks like they're going to win it all. Regardless of whether they actually go the distance of not, this is the time where people start to hop on the bandwagon for one team in particular. But with new elements such as the 17 game schedule this season feels different. This year, there's not one dominant team nor will any team remain dominant and here's why.
To start off, we must mention the 17 game schedule as a key component. With one extra game added, there's no breathing room for a team atop of their conference like the Arizona Cardinals, or a division leader like the Baltimore Ravens. For other teams that might have emerged in the hunt, this is an opportunity for them to not only sneak into the playoff picture, but gain significant ground. Take the Indianapolis Colts for example. Their new signal-caller Carson Wentz missed most of training camp with an injury and the Colts sputtered to a 1-4 start. But now they've won five of their last six games and currently hold the top wild card spot in the AFC. In the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles, San Fransisco 49ers, and Minnesota Vikings are gaining momentum at the right time. To say that we'll probably see two out of these three teams in the playoffs isn't a crazy prediction.
One key factor that will determine the playoff picture like any other year is injuries. Some teams such as the Ravens, Cardinals, and Packers have still managed to win despite injuries to key players. Other teams such as the Saints have been hit hard. They lost quarterback Jameis Winston for the season to a torn ACL. At the time of the diagnosis, they were 5-2 and had defeated the Buccaneers, but now they're on the outside looking in after losing four straight games. Another notable team worth mentioning is the Titans. With running back Derrick Henry bullying opponents, they slowly climbed to the top of the AFC. Even in their first game without him after a foot injury that will keep him out 6-10 weeks, they blew out the Rams. But now they face lots of questions after losing at home to the one-win Texans. Whether some teams are able to sustain their success going into the final weeks of the regular season will be interesting to see. It's worth wondering about the affect COVID could have on this year's playoff picture. If the Packers have to go down to Arizona for the championship game because they were behind by one game and lose, will Aaron Rodgers regret his decision to not get vaccinated? Had he got vaccinated, would he have been able to play against the Chiefs, a game the Packers lost without him? Maybe that one win would have given them the top seed.
Each week, there's one team that just had a statement victory and is on top of the world, only to get beat the next week. Just look at the AFC. The Chiefs looked like they're primed for another deep run defeating the Browns in a rematch of their divisional meeting to open the season. Then the Ravens seemed to snatch that momentum in a comeback victory that started a five game winning streak that temporarily put them atop the AFC. The Tennessee Titans currently hold the no. 1 seed but they fell back to earth after losing to the one-win Texans. In the NFC, the Cardinals have held on to the no. 1 seed thanks to their 7-0 start. It's the wild card spots which have made the playoff picture for that conference interesting. The Rams and Saints appeared to be locks for the top two spots but both teams have struggled as of late, opening the door to other teams like the 49ers and Eagles.
Whether this satisfies you as a fan or not, there's no dominant team this season. I was originally against the implementation of a 17 game schedule, but it has helped make this playoff race more interesting. Every week some team changes the outlook of the playoff picture and there's every reason to believe that this will continue until the season's over.
Every football season, there's one team that defies expectations and makes the playoffs after missing it in prior years. The 2017 Eagles and 2019 49ers are perfect examples of teams that bounced back after previously watching the playoffs at home. With certain teams poised to breakthrough, here are the ones that will likely get over the hump.
1. Los Angeles Chargers
Last season was a big transition for the franchise. They moved on from longtime starter Philip Rivers and drafted Justin Herbert who started sooner than expected, after an injury to Tyrod Taylor. Herbert made the most of his opportunity setting records such as most touchdowns passes for a rookie quarterback. However, they finished 7-9 which prompted the team to hire Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley. During the offseason, they upgraded Herbert's offensive line by signing all-pro center Corey Linsley in free agency. The Chargers are hoping he will have the same chemistry with Herbert as he had with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. They also drafted Rashawn Slater who played both left and right tackle in college. On defense, Staley will be overseeing a unit that's getting their two best players, Nick Bosa and Derwin James back from injury last season. They also drafted Asante Samuel Jr. who has already been turning heads in training camp and could provide an upgrade to the cornerback position.
2. Miami Dolphins
Despite missing last year's playoffs, the Dolphins had a much better season than expected, going 10-6. While they blew their chance to clinch losing 56-28 in the finale, there's hope for the future. Led by cornerback Xavien Howard, Miami finished first takeaways and sixth in points allowed. Their coach Brian Floras has clearly established a foundation as they built of last season's finish where they went 5-3 after starting 0-8. Many of their best defensive players such as Howard, Byron Jones, Jerome Baker, and Emmanuel Ogbah will be returning this season. As for the offense, they surrounded second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa by signing Will Fuller IV, and used their draft capital to trade down for Jaylen Waddle. Tagovailoa and Waddle already have great chemistry dating back Alabama, which will be essential for his development. For the Dolphins to make the playoffs, their hopes will likely depend on whether Tagovaila becomes more comfortable with his command of the offense,
3. Arizona Cardinals
With the acquisition of all-pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the Cardinals sprinted out to a 6-3 start and appeared on their way toward a playoff birth. They then proceeded to lose five of their last seven games and missed the playoffs entirely. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury enters this year on the hot seat having failed so far to develop anyone besides Kyler Murray. To give him the tools to win, management has addressed some of the roster's flaws in free agency. They gave Murray an established no. 2 receiver in former pro bowler A.J. Green, along with one of the league's top centers, Rodney Hudson. But their most prized acquisition was on the defensive side where they signed former two time Defensive Player of the Year winner J.J. Watt. At 32 years old, Watt might not be the player he used to be, but he can still impact a game in many ways. However, this team is at the bottom of the list because their secondary, one of their weakest units, wasn't addressed this offseason and there's no reason to believe it will improve.
Football is a very unpredictable sport because there's that one team which surprises everyone and might even proceed to make a deep playoff run. While there are other teams who weren't mentioned, I believe the Chargers, Dolphins, and Cardinals are the three with the best chances of turning their fortunes around next season. They have the assets to make it happen and take that next step beyond the regular season into January.
In just three days, the NFL will begin it’s 102 season. One of the biggest storylines going into this season is the schedule change which will have 17 games instead of 16. This could have a huge impact on where teams finish in the standings and opens the door for new teams to reach the postseason. With that being said here are my playoff predictions going into this season.
#2 Bills over #7 Steelers
#3 Browns over #6 Chargers
#4 Titans over #5 Ravens
#1 Chiefs over #4 Titans
#3 Browns over #2 Bills
#3 Browns over #1 Chiefs
#2 Packers over #7 49ers
#3 Rams over #6 Seahawks
#4 Football Team over #5 Saints
#1 Buccaneers over #4 Football Team
#2 Packers over #3 Rams
#2 Packers over #1 Buccaneers
#2 Packers over #3 Browns
On April 29th, the New York Jets entered the NFL needing to set themselves up for success in the short term and long term. After hiring Robert Saleh as their head coach, and trading their quarterback Sam Darnold, Joe Douglas set up himself for his most critical draft yet as a general manager. With the selection of quarterback Zach Wilson, trading up, and their commitment toward building around Wilson, this draft class is going to define Douglas' tenure with the Jets. With that being said, here's my opinion about their draft class.
1. Drafting Zach Wilson
Three years after, drafting Sam Darnold to be their franchise quarterback, the Jets are once again hitting the reset button on the quarterback position. Personally, I would've liked to see them keep Darnold and trade down to draft another skill position, such as Kyle Pitts. While Zach Wilson had an amazing season at BYU throwing for 33 touchdowns and only three picks, it was in a season affected by COVID-19 and he played against an easy schedule. However, Douglas still deserves to be trusted by fans since he has been a part of two organizations that have won Super Bowls in the Ravens and Eagles. He was very intrigued by Wilson throughout the offseason and was all in on drafting him following his pro day. Wilson is a talented quarterback who should succeed in the NFL, but in order to make that happen, the Jets must surround him in an environment with the right players and coaches. Something they can't do again after Darnold's tenure.
2. Trading Up
Although the Jets already had an extra first pick, Douglas wanted to move up. He traded the 23rd pick along with both third round picks to the Vikings for the 14th spot, which was used on offensive guard Alijah Vera-Tucker. Trading up to get an offensive lineman who plays on the interior is a risky move despite the fact that this position was their biggest need on the line entering the draft. On the other hand, Jets fans can get used to seeing Vera-Tucker playing on the left side next to last year's standout rookie and pancake machine Mekhi Becton. In addition, Vera-Tucker's ability to thrive in a zone blocking scheme, will be essential for their run game, which is based off the 49ers' system. It has been awhile since the Jets had stability at the offensive line, but Becton and Vera-Tucker can hopefully be cornerstones of that unit in the future.
3. More Skill Positions
In the following rounds, the Jets arguably already gave Zach Wilson more weapons than they did during Darnold's entire tenure. With their second round pick, they selected wide receiver Elijha Moore. Even though cornerback was one of their needs, Moore is a skilled receiver who was expected to go into the first round. He could be a huge steal for the Jets in the years to come. Moore is also from Ole Miss, which has produced two other talented receivers in DK Metcalf and AJ Brown. As for Wilson, this selection gives him a promising receiving core of Moore, last year's rookie Denzil Mims, and free agent acquisition Corey Davis.
The Jets continued to add weapons for Wilson with the selection of running back Michael Carter in the fourth round. Despite sharing touches with Javonte Williams at UNC, Carter had a very productive college career, and could work his way up the team's depth chart at running back. It's very common nowadays for a team to improve their running game through finding a running back later in the draft, and the Jets could be one of those teams if Carter establishes himself as an every down back. He must also establish himself as the better "Michael Carter" since the Jets drafted a cornerback who happens to have the same name.
This draft by the Jets had many positives. They hopefully selected their franchise quarterback who Douglas really trusts, and have committed themselves toward building around Zach Wilson. My original hopes were for them to keep Darnold while trading down, and select a cornerback in the second or third round rather than the fifth round. However, Douglas has experience with Super Bowl winning teams, most notably with the Ravens whose front office is one of the best in football. Therefore he probably knows what he's doing and hopefully, this draft will finally change the team's fortunes.
When the best running backs are mentioned, names such as Jim Brown, Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, and Barry Sanders are usually mentioned. With that being said, why isn't hall of famer LaDainian Tomlinson mentioned? Despite his incredible accomplishments, factors such as where he played and the fact that he never won a championship seem to have resulted in him being left out of the discussion for the greatest running backs.
Fresh off an amazing college career with TCU, Tomlinson was one of the top prospects and the San Diego Chargers viewed him as their savior in 2001. While winning didn't come right away, Tomlinson was immediately one of the league's best players. In his third season, he became the first running back to rush for 1,000 yards and catch 100 passes in a season. In the following year, the Chargers made the playoffs for the first time in a decade with Tomlinson scoring 17 touchdowns. In 2006. he rewrote the record books in one of the best seasons for a running back, rushing for a career high 1,815 yards while tallying 508 receiving yards. His most impressive accomplishment was breaking the record for total touchdowns in a season with an amazing 31. The Chargers made the playoffs with a 14-2 record, but were upset by the hated Patriots in a heartbreaking loss. Frustration for Tomlinson only grew when his beloved mentor, coach Marty Schottenheimer was fired along with the death of Tomlinson's own father. For the next two seasons, he was still one of the top running backs in the league, leading the league in rushing in 2007, but his workload slowly started to decrease. He also dealt with injuries during the playoffs, and the Chargers eventually released Tomlinson following the 2009 season, making him a free agent for the first time in his career.
It wouldn't take long however, for Tomlinson to find a new suitor. The New York Jets signed him to a two year contract. Tomlinson had a strong season rushing with 914 yards while totaling over 1,000 scrimmage yards. In the playoffs Tomlinson helped the Jets win a rematch of the AFC championship game over the Colts by rushing for two critical touchdowns. The next week, Tomlinson finally got revenge on the Patriots with a touchdown reception in another victory. After a quiet 2011 season, Tomlinson signed a one day contract to retire as a Charger.
As of now, Tomlinson is seventh on the rushing list with 13,684 yards. He is third all-time in 162 total touchdowns, and his 624 receptions ranks third among running backs. His all-around game made him stand out apart from other running backs. Besides running and receiving, he was known to buy his quarterbacks extra time to throw thanks to his ability to pick up blitzes. On top of that, Tomlinson was able to throw the ball. His seven career touchdown passes are the second most in NFL history for a non-quarterback.
So for all of his greatness on the field, why doesn't he currently get the recognition he deserves? One reason might be the increasing number of fans who never saw the Chargers play in San Diego. With the Chargers now in L.A., many fans in San Diego have abandoned the team. In addition San Diego was a really small market team on the west coast which kept Tomlinson from the spotlight. The Charger's failure to win a Super Bowl also played a factor the lack of recognition for Tomlinson's game. Although people might not realize it, Tomlinson deserves to be mentioned in the best of the best without debate.
On Thursday, the New York Jets announced Robert Saleh as their new head coach. Saleh was the defensive coordinator of the San Fransisco 49ers since 2017, where he inherited a defense that was historically bad, and turned it into one of the top units. His energy on the sidelines during games is noticeable and is something that the Jets need. Fans will be counting on him to turn the team around following one of the worst seasons in their history.
Jets fans have a lot to look forward to with the hiring of Robert Saleh. To begin with, he's a fresh start following the tenure of previous head coach Adam Gase, who set the franchise back during his last two seasons. On game days, he brings much-needed energy and passion to the sidelines, which has been demonstrated on numerous occasions when the 49ers would come up with a big stop. His motivational and player-friendly demeanor, was well appreciated by players on the defense such as Sherman and Warner. So far, he has already reached out to every Jets players and they seem to like him despite not having played a game under him yet. Even with his motivational tactics, Saleh also has a technical approach on Sundays. With the hiring of fellow offensive coordinator Mike LeFleur, the offense will likely be run-oriented with lots of receivers in motion and play action passes.
Robert Saleh is a protege of one of the league's top coaches, Pete Carroll. During Saleh's tenure with the 49ers, his first two years weren't the easiest and there were calls for him to be fired. In 2019 however, the defense was one of the best units. Running a cover three defense, he finally had the group of pass rushers to really make his system work in Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner, Erik Armstead, and Dee Ford. Fred Warner served as the perfect linebacker for that scheme, and Richard Sherman who he was with in Seattle, anchored the secondary. They were a big reason why San Fransisco made the number one seed and breezed through the playoffs en route to a Super Bowl. While they didn't win, it was still a successful turnaround for the defense. In 2020, many of the key players suffered injuries, but the defense still remained a productive unit. Saleh's last two years proved to be more than enough for the Jets to hire him.
Overall, this is a very good hire for the Jets. Saleh really knows how to bring a winning attitude. This is illustrated through his 10 lessons of coaching:
If there's someone who can really put all of the Jets' dreadful years behind them, Robert Saleh could be the answer. His energetic and technical approach on Sundays could be a critical factor to the team. It doesn't often happen that a team makes a hire that everyone seems to love, but the Jets have made it. Now the results must come next.
This NFL season was unique in many ways. Throughout the season, COVID-19 threatened to derail the season. Many teams suffered outbreaks causing games to be rescheduled. Nonetheless all 256 games were still able to happen. Another thing that made this season unique was the introduction of a new playoff format. After previously having a six team playoff format with two teams having a first round bye, the NFL expanded its format to seven teams with only one of them having a first round bye. This caused the final weeks of the regular season to be very crucial with a handful of teams playing for a playoff spot, better seeding, or a first round bye. Here are the fourteen teams that are left standing.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Following their Super Bowl title last February, the Chiefs have looked as good as they are last year if not better. With an offense that was healthier than last year, Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce once again put up ridiculous numbers. In addition, they also have an improved running game led by rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The defense led by Chris Jones and Tyrann Mathieu has also continued to make life difficult for opponents dating back to the end of last season. For the cherry on top, the Chiefs have home field advantage locked up for the playoffs, making their chance to repeat more likely.
2. Buffalo Bills: After a surprise 10-6 season that put them in the playoffs as a Wild Card, the Bills have only gotten better. The defense, which was a big reason why they got in last year, didn't have the same kind of year, but were still a good unit. It was the offense however, that was their main strength. With career years from third year quarterback Josh Allen as well as the newly acquired Stefon Diggs, the offense was one of the best in football. Under Sean McDermott, he and his coaching staff are hungry for a playoff win after losing in their previous trips.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers: There was a time where the Steelers were undefeated for the first 11 games of the season. Ben Rothlesberger was enjoying a resurgent year. His receivers of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, and Diontae Johnson were wrecking havoc in secondary. The defense, led by sack leader T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick was dominating opponents. However, this team is sputtering into the playoffs with a 1-4 record. If there's any time for them to recapture their magic, now is the time.
4. Tennessee Titans: They are another team entering the playoffs riding a potent offense. While the passing game led by Ryan Tannehill along with A.J. Brown has been very effective, it's their running game that has really been stellar. Derrick Henry became the eighth running back in NFL history as well as the second Titan to top the historic mark of 2,000 rushing yards. Like last year, this team is primed for a deep playoff run.
5. Baltimore Ravens: After a 14-2 season, many expected the Ravens to win the Super Bowl. But with five games left, they appeared to have no shot at even getting to the playoffs. After that, they finally started to show shades of last year winning out to get to the playoffs at 11-5. With Lamar Jackson looking like his MVP self, the offense has been very efficent. The defense with a well balanced mix of young players and veterans has had a knack for takeaways all season.
6. Cleveland Browns: After 18 painful years of missing the playoffs, it's only fitting that in 2020, the Browns were finally able to break through. With a strong running game led by Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt along with a defense led by Myles Garrett, they rode two stretches of four game winning streaks which was enough to earn them a playoff spot. However, there are questions surrounding the passing game with Baker Mayfield, and teams will be willing to led Mayfield beat them.
7. Indianapolis Colts: They are the first AFC team to benefit from the new playoff system. Riding a stingy defense with Darius Leonard and DeForest Buckner, the Colts appeared to have a playoff spot locked in going into their game against the Steelers. But after blowing a 17 point lead, they needed luck to get in the playoffs with a Dolphins loss and a win. Both scenarios happened, allowing the Colts to return to the playoffs. With Philip Rivers likely nearing retirement, this will be a chance to send him into the sunset with a long-awaited championship.
1. Green Bay Packers: This year, Green Bay showed that last season's 13-3 record wasn't a fluke. If anything, they've looked better. Aaron Rodgers put up one of his best seasons yet throwing for an absurd 48 touchdowns and only five interceptions. Davante Adams had his own specular season with 118 receptions, over 1,300 yards, and 18 touchdowns. The run game and defense once again complemented their offense. With the no. 1 seed, the Packers will have their long time home Lambeau Field, as a bonus to their advantage.
2. New Orleans Saints: Just like last year, the resilience of this team was on full display. Despite a 1-2 start with age noticeably catching up to Drew Brees and wide receiver Michael Thomas missing nine games, the Saints were still able to rally with a 12-4 record. Sean Payton deserves a ton of credit for fielding an offense that finished fifth thanks to the skills of running back Alvin Kamara. The defense was also a well balanced unit finishing in the same ranking. With a healthy roster and a chip on their shoulder from previous heartbreaks, this team will be ready.
3. Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks have many reasons to feel confident going into the playoffs. They started off 5-0 due to the amazing play of Russell Wilson. Later on in the season, they did slump going 3-4 in their next seven games, but rallied to close out the season with four straight wins. The catalyst of this team is Russell Wilson without question. Whether it's perfectly placing a ball to D.K. Metcalf or completing a pass to Tyler Lockett scrambling out of the pocket, he has found ways to get it done and that must continue.
4. Washington Football Team: When Washington changed its name from the Redskins to the Football Team, it seemed like it was a sign of how laughable this team was going to be on the field. However, they weren't focused on all the off-field opinions. Rallying around coach Ron Rivera's defeat of cancer and Alex Smith's comeback from a brutal leg injury the Football Team finished 7-9 which was enough to make the playoffs.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tom Brady still has Buccanneers fans wondering how they got him, but here they are in the playoffs for the first time since 2007. While the team did have a streaky season, they were more than good enough to make the playoffs. Brady enjoyed the luxury of having big-time weapons at his side once again and the defense make significant strides after a solid finish last year. Whether they can compete against the top teams still remains a question.
6. Los Angeles Rams: After a season in which they missed the playoffs following a Super Bowl appearance, expectations were low for the Rams entering this season. This time, they overachieved going 10-6. The offense enjoyed a resurgent year thanks to Jared Goff along with wide receivers Robert Woods and Cupper Kupp. With Aaron Donald dominating backfields and Jalen Ramsey locking up receivers the defense also enjoyed a bounce back year. The big question is how can the Rams compete against non NFC East teams in which they went 6-6 against in the regular season.
7. Chicago Bears: Out of all the playoff teams, this is probably the worst one. After a 5-1 start, they dropped six straight before reeling off 3 wins in their next four games while receiving help from the Arizona Cardinals losing their last two games. Led by pass rusher Khalil Mack, their defense is a tough unit to play against but questions remain about the offense. Despite having two solid skill players in David Montgomery and Allen Robinson.
Bills over Colts
Steelers over Browns
Titans over Ravens
Chiefs over Titans
Bills over Steelers
Chiefs over Bills
Saints over Bears
Seahawks over Rams
Buccaneers over Football Team
Saints over Seahawks
Packers over Buccaneers
Packers over Saints
Chiefs over Packers
This year was filled with uncertainty that extended to the world of sports. It started during March, when all of sports shut down due to concerns over COVID-19. Then, social unrest began to erupt prompting many athletes to stand up not just for themselves, but in support of others. Sports eventually resumed but that didn't stop notable sports figures from meeting these challenges head on. Here are some notable people who made a big influence in the sports world.
1. LeBron James
On the court, LeBron James made his mark. After being derailed by injuries last year, he put up MVP numbers, led the Los Angeles Lakers to the best record in the Western Conference, and won his fourth NBA championship as well as Finals MVP. When James retires, this will be remembered as one of his most impressive seasons. To maintain the same skills and still have a winning effect on his team in his mid 30s is really amazing. James has almost made as big an impact off the court as he has on the court. He spoke out on police brutality through social media and during press conferences in the bubble. This included a video in which he concludes, "This is why we can't just stick to sports. Do you understand now?" In addition, he launched a website More Than a Vote, which focuses on giving Black people access to voting. By the time of the election, James had successfully prevented many people from having their voices suppressed, Last month, James's efforts of social activism were rewarded with the Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, and the Time's Magazine Athlete of the Year.
2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Throughout his career, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar established himself as one of the most dominant big men in NBA history. His accolades include a record six MVP awards, the most career points at 38,387, and six championships. Along with his success, he is one of the first basketball players to speak out against social issues. Last July, he delivered a powerful message on the fight for social justice in an edition of the NBA on TNT. He reflected on the turning point toward using his voice when he, along with other athletes, supported Muhammed Ali's refusal to fight in Vietnam. During the video, he stated "To witness Ali's unwavering integrity even as the government spent years trying to destroy him was a turning point for me. How could I do any less? How can any American do any less? How can any American athlete do any less?" That same month, Kareem also cited the importance of fighting against other forms of discrimination amid the Black Lives Matter movement such as anti-Semitism. Although his playing days are long passed, his voice is still as important as it was over 50 years ago.
3. Patrick Mahomes
Despite only having three full seasons under his belt, with two as a starter, Patrick Mahomes is already on top of the football world. He has already become the fastest quarterback to reach over 10,000 career passing yards, as well as over 100 touchdown passes which took him only 44 games to surpass that milestone. Earlier in February, Mahomes led the Kansas City Chiefs to their first Super Bowl championship in 50 years, in a game where he led what turned out to be the game winning drive. After the game, he was announced as the Super Bowl MVP, the youngest to ever win the award. When it has come to social justice, Mahomes has put his accolades to the side and has been an advocate. In June, he participated in a Black Lives Matter video with fellow athletes, pushing the NFL to publicly condemn racism. He was also one of the high-profile athletes to join James' More than a Vote campaign. A month later, Mahomes signed the richest contract extension of any athlete at over $500 million. With the Chiefs currently aiming toward another Super Bowl, Mahomes is slowly becoming an icon.
4. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
For his first six seasons, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was a regular starter for the Kansas City Chiefs. Like Mahomes, he won his first Super Bowl with the Chiefs in February. However, it was off the field where Duvernay-Tardif wanted to make an impact. During July, he became the first NFL player to opt out of the season because of COVID-19. Duvernay-Tardif wanted to join the front lines in the fight against the virus. He did this by working long term at a healthcare facility in his native hometown of Montreal. Weeks ago, Duvernay-Tardif's impact was recognized by Sports Illustrated who named him as one of their Sportspeople of the Year. In addition, he was awarded the Lou Marsh trophy, which is given to the top Canadian athlete every year. This is well deserved for Duvernay-Tardif, who decided to give up football for a year to help prevent COVID-19 off the field.
This was a year that presented different challenges beyond sports. From COVID-19, to the fight for social justice for Blacks, there has been a lot of uncertainty and unrest in the world. Everyone has taken on these challenges in their respective ways. These current and former athletes not only faced these problems, but have done so in a way that should continue to inspire people into the new year.
This year, the NBA will be starting its 2020-21 season during Christmas week, on December 22 specifically. The late start is a result of the last year's unusual stretch known as the NBA bubble, dating back from July to October with the L.A. Lakers winning the championship. While the NBA on Christmas has always been one of the most popular events of the season, it might not be the best idea to start basketball during that week.
In the past, the NBA on Christmas is one of the season's most popular events. Usually, the matchups consist of the top teams and players with high expectations coming into the season. These games are highly anticipated with both teams battling for a statement win. Most of the time, they live up to the hype with highlight plays and fantastic endings. Additionally, this wouldn't be the first time the NBA began on Christmas, as they began following the conclusion of the 2011 lockout.
However, this doesn't change the fact that the NBA shouldn't start during this time of year. For one, the resting period for the teams who weren't in the bubble will be significantly longer than teams who did. To be specific, teams not in the bubble will have over 200 days of rest by the time the season begins, whereas the Finals participants - the Lakers and Miami Heat - will have under 70 days of rest. Even teams that bowed out of the playoffs early will have less than 100 days of rest compared to teams who weren't invited to the bubble. Players such as LeBron James used social media as a source to show their unhappiness when the schedule announcement was made. In particular, he pointed out this offseason, consisting of 71 days, will be the shortest in any sport.
Another reason why the season shouldn't start around Christmas is that it will be occurring shortly after the offseason. NBA trades along with the draft occurred just about a week ago, and free agency is still going on even though most teams have probably moved past it at this point. This will make it difficult for teams to prepare for the season following their recent offseason moves. As for the players, they probably have to adjust to their new teams, along with their life off the court. Currently, this schedule will consist of a 72 game season, with the finals concluding in August. Its announcement coming three weeks before the season is a far cry from other years, where teams had a lot more notice.
One way to solve the flaws within this year's schedule would be to have all offseason transactions occur earlier than their actual time. That would usually be about two to three weeks after the Finals, which should've been the case for this year, rather than over a month following the season's conclusion. This could've allowed players who were drafted, or have signed with a new team, to get comfortable in their new situation. Another possible way of fixing the schedule would be to start the season one or two weeks later. That method can satisfy the players who stayed in the bubble until late September or October, giving them more time to rest. Both solutions could have been options for the NBA to smoothly move forward into next season.
The NBA bubble was a period that we won't forget. It was a cool experience to watch, but the NBA should have done its best to get back on schedule where all players can have an adequate amount of rest before the season starts. Starting the season only two months after the Finals isn't the way to go.
While this year has been unusual in many ways, it isn't an excuse for another abysmal year of New York Sports. With basketball not starting until December, the Jets and Giants - both at the bottom of the standings - are the only option for fans to watch. Here are all the teams we'll be looking at: the Jets, Giants, Knicks, Nets Yankees, and Mets.
New York Jets - The Jets have been so bad this season that fans are just hoping for the team to tank for a higher draft pick. Head coach Adam Gase is at the center of this storm, not only for how terribly the team is playing, but for Sam Darnold's regression. In addition, Gase's lack of adjustments during halftime and failure to take responsibility after losses hasn't sat well with players. The team is currently in line to select Clemson's phenom quarterback Trevor Lawrence, but they have many more improvements to make, starting with a new coaching staff.
New York Giants - Despite Head Coach Joe Judge making a solid impression, it hasn't translated to wins, as the Giants are in the midst of another rough year at 2-7. Their franchise cornerstone Saquon Barkley is out for the season with a torn ACL, which hasn't helped Daniel Jones in what has been a disappointing sophomore season. General Manager Dave Gettleman will likely get axed at the end of the year, leading the Giants to find a new GM to pair with their rookie coach.
New York Knicks - This upcoming season will likely be another rebuilding year, as the Knicks are still far away from contention. They do have some bright spots such as R.J. Barrett and Mitchell Robinson, who are both building blocks for this franchise. To become a playoff team, they must trade for a proven leader such as Chris Paul to really give some of their young players a boost of confidence. However, their owner James Dolan, who's responsible for the team's dysfunction over the years, has most recently been blamed for his refusal to condemn systematic racism which could make players reluctant to join.
Brooklyn Nets - This team and its fans have many reasons to be excited for next season. With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving poised to share the court for the first time following injuries, hopes for a possible championship are high. They also have a new coach in Hall of Fame point guard (and Durant's friend) Steve Nash, who knows a thing or two about winning dating back to his playing career. Brooklyn's only issues, are Durant's sensitivity and Irving's occasional criticism towards teammates, which could lead to a tumultuous season.
New York Yankees - As of now, there is still a sour taste of disappointment stemming from the team's loss against the Rays in the divisional series. In what was another season filled with injuries, they weren't able to adapt this time compared to last year, leading to a roller coaster season. There's no question that it would've helped if the team adjusted better to baseball's new environment this season, like other teams with high expectations such as the Dodgers. Fortunately with the strong possibility of MVP candidate DJ Lemahieu resigning, they will likely have a chance to run it back next season.
New York Mets - For the Mets, this season was very disappointing. With optimism heading into the season, they never came close to sniffing the playoffs. They do have talented players such as Jacob DeGrom, Pete Alonso, and a couple of impressive rookies in David Peterson and Andres Gimenez, who could have important future roles. Their biggest and most recent change is Steve Cohen's purchase of the team, which may be the fresh start this team needs.
Although there are some reasons for fans to be positive, most New York sports teams still have ways to go before a championship is on the horizon. When the Yankees, who are the city's best team, exit early in the playoffs, that just doesn't add up to a good year. Whether these teams are losing because of their ownership, coaching, or players, disappointment is the perfect term to sum up New York sports.