Tag Archives: predictions

Ninja Sports Pac-12 Football Preview

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Star Lotulelei will terrorize Pac-12 offensive lines this season

With the way things are shaping up, it looks a lot like 2005 in Troy as the Trojans are atop the AP Poll to start the season.  Much like the ’05 squad, the team is loaded with talent from the top of the roster to the bottom.  Resembling the players of the ’05 team are QB Matt Barkley (Matt Leinart), RBs Curtis McNeal and Penn State transfer Silas Redd (Reggie Bush and LenDale White), and WRs Robert Woods and Marqis Lee (Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett).  As you see, the possibilities for this USC team are endless.  The defense took a tough blow losing defensive end Devon Kennard to a torn pectoral muscle so look for T.J. McDonald and Hayes Pullard to step up big.

Chip Kelly’s high octane spread offense in Eugene continues to receive praise as they have averaged over 520 yards a game for the past two seasons.  Redshirt Freshman QB Marcus Mariota has received the nod to start week one for the Ducks after an intense seven month battle with sophomore Bryan Bennett.  Though Mariota is young, look for him to step in right away and make an impact taking over for Darron Thomas.  While Thomas had LaMichael James to help him lead the offense, Mariota will have Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas to share the load.  If the defense can hold strong for the whole season, USC better not blink because this team of olympic sprinters will blow by them if the Trojans aren’t at the top of their game.

The big question surrounding Stanford: Can they survive without Luck?  Coach David Shaw wasn’t very enthusiastic about naming Josh Nunes the starting quarterback earlier this week.  The offense that once relied on Andrew Luck seems to be focusing towards a run heavy style placing much of the load on running backs Stepfan Taylor and Anthony Wilkerson.  Stanford’s strength is definitely on the defensive side of the ball led by linebackers Chase Thomas and Shayne Skov.

Washington has great potential this season with an offense run by dual-threat QB Keith Price.  In case the name doesn’t ring a bell, Price is the QB who went toe-to-toe with RG3 in the Alamo Bowl last season where the two offenses combined for 123 points.  Though RG3 came out victorious, it was Price that played the better game completing 23 of 27 passes for 438 yards and four touchdowns.  Not only did Price throw four touchdowns but he ran for three more, accounting for seven total.  Expect to see “Teeth” (as his teammates call him for his award-winning smile in interviews) in New York within the next two years as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.  The Huskies may not win the conference this season, but they will be highly competitive and could play the spoiler roll for the Pac 12.

The main question posed by The Ninja:  Will this conference play any defense?  Last year’s numbers were quite ugly as half of the Pac 12 ranked 82nd or lower in total defense.

North South
Oregon 8-1 Southern Cal 8-1
Washington 7-2 Arizona State 5-4
Stanford 5-4 Utah 5-4
California 4-5 UCLA 4-5
Oregon State 2-7 Colorado 3-6
Washington State 1-8 Arizona 2-7

Keith Price will lead the Huskies into Oregon on 10/6

Games to Watch:

Sept. 15:  USC @ Stanford

Sept. 27:  Stanford @ Washington

Oct. 6:  Washington @ Oregon

Oct. 13:  USC @ Washington

Nov. 3:  Oregon @ USC

Nov. 17:  USC @ UCLA

Nov. 17:  Stanford @ Oregon

Nov. 24:  Oregon @ Oregon State

Championship:  Oregon vs. Southern Cal

Ninja Sports Preseason All-Pac-12 Team 2012

Offense Defense Special Teams
WR Robert Woods, USC DE Dion Jordan, ORE K Andre Heidari, USC
WR Marquess Wilson, WSU DE Wes Horton, USC P Jackson Rice ORE
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, WASH DT Star Lotulelei, UTAH KR De’Anthony Thomas, ORE
T Matt Summers-Gavin, CAL DT Justin Washington, ARIZ
T David Bakhtiari. CU LB Chase Thomas, STAN
G Carson York, ORE LB Patrick Larimore, ARIZ
G Sam Brenner, UTAH LB Shayne Skov, STAN
C Khaled Homes, USC CB Aaron Hester, UCLA
QB Matt Barkley, USC CB Nickell Robey, USC
RB Stepfan Taylor, STAN S T.J. McDonald, USC
RB Kenjon Barner, ORE S Marquis Flowers, ARIZ

Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year: Robert Woods, WR USC

Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year: Star Lotulelei, DT UTAH

2012-13 Pac 12 Football Preview

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What’s Next for Michael Phelps?

Micheal phelps what's next, future plans, golf, video games, charity work

Michael Phelps is a man of many persona’s. Subway pitchman? Guy with the crazy diet? United States Olympic hero? Partier? Philanthropist? Likely, you would choose some combination of all those things. Although there are always haters out there, it is tough for them to find material on Phelps. Today, he announced his retirement. As sports fans, we have been lucky to witness the most decorated Olympian of all time. It is a relatively easy argument to call him the best swimmer of all time. After we take a moment to reflect on his greatness, the question arises: What’s next for Phelps?

Quick numbers:

Total Medals– 72
Olympic– 18 Gold, 4 Silver
World Championship– 38 Gold, 9 Silver, 3 Bronze
World Records– 39 (more than any other swimmer in history)

Now that you have numbers to bust out when somebody challenges you to a 'greatest Olympian argument', let's try and dissect what Phelps will do next. An AP article published today quotes Phelps, "there are other things that I want to do in my life, and I'm not sure staring at a black line for four hours a day is one of those." Many different angles have been taken on this story already, so it's best to give a summary and let you figure it out.

Regular citizen– For now Phelps wants to stop. Very simply, he wants to travel, engage in leisurely activities, and sleep. There was also mention in this story about Phelps doing some TV analysis, poker, playing video games and golf, traveling, and cage-diving with sharks. Must be nice.

Philanthropist– Phelps' track record as a philanthropist is already superb. In 2008, he donated a $1 million bonus from Speedo to set up the Micheal Phelps Foundation, which promotes healthy lifestyle. The Huffington Post is reporting that Phelps is planning to have his foundation comprise much of the next chapter in his life. Phelps, who focuses on ensuring that kids learn how to swim, discusses fear of kids not being able to enjoy the sport of swimming:

“There are a lot of pools being shut down, and kids are not able to come out and enjoy it like I did growing up,” “I think over time, hopefully, I will have the opportunity to make an impact to cities and states all over the world and hopefully be able to change that.”

Football fan– NBC’s Pro Football Talk, is loving a recent interview in USA Today with Phelps. He discusses his love for the Ravens and says he plans on playing fantasy football this season. He also brags about an epic fantasy season last year, and talks about his plans to prepare for two weeks prior to his team’s fantasy draft.

Phelps should be fine as a philanthropist and football fan, but has no chance to be treated like a regular guy. If I were him, I would not expect to live a life anywhere close to normal. TMZ is already airing a story about Phelps bringing some gold medals into the club with him to show off. A vacation, a lot of personal time, and sleep are much needed for Phelps after announcing his retirement today. After the dust settles, he is well rested, and perhaps herbally enlightened, Michael Phelps should accept his status as a guy who is not regular. Although he has completely earned the right to sit and do nothing for the rest of his life, Phelps should not. With his earnings, image, and work ethic, he should continue to be a philanthropist and role model to kids, athletes, and swimmers everywhere.

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Why the Rays Could Win the AL East

David price Rays MLB playoffs AL East

A few days ago, I pointed out to a fellow ninja that the Rays (winners of 6/10) could come back and win the AL East this season. He pointed out to me, as most baseball fans would, that I am nuts. At the moment, the Tampa Bay Rays are 6.5 games down with 2 months remaining, which makes a come back feasible.

“Slow down!” you say, “The Rays offense is abysmal this season, they couldn’t hit if the pitcher was throwing beach balls!!” This fact is true, the Rays indeed cannot hit. MLB Ranks: 20th in runs, 29th in batting average, 27th in slugging %. Going deep into the MLB playoffs usually requires a potent offense, and the Rays do not have one, but great pitching is enough to win a division. One could also point out the Red Sox have been playing well lately (winners of 5/10), and they could steal the East as well.

When the AL East battle is finally done in late September, the Rays will be the winners. The standings will show them on top of a worn-out Yankees team, and looking down at an injury-prone Red Sox team. The Rays will win the AL East with a poor line-up that should improve when Evan Longoria and Luke Scott return from the DL (news is still unclear, but these ninjas believe Longo should be back soon). There are 3 key factors that are positive news for Rays fans: pitching, youth, and ability to beat the Yankees head up.

Remaining schedule: Out of the major contenders in the AL East (Sox, Jays, Yanks, Rays), the Rays have the toughest opponent schedule to face. They also have 29 away games vs. 27 home at Tropicana. Although this is bad news, the Rays are 7-5 vs. New York this season, 5-4 vs. Baltimore, and 5-7 vs. Boston. The Red Sox will get healthier, but their slumping pitching should keep them in 3rd or 4th. Baltimore is fading fast, falling from 5th in ESPN’s power rankings in week 12, to 16th in week 18. This is a two horse race, between the Rays and Yankees.

Pitching: Rays pitching has been phenomenal this year; their consistency is shown in the numbers. Lead by AL Cy Young hopeful David Price, the Rays have posted MLB ranks of: 5th in ERA, 6th in WHIP, and 2nd in batting average against. In case you haven’t been paying attention, closer Fernando Rodney is on pace to join only 11 other pitchers since 1900 to post an ERA under 1.00, and could join Dennis Eckersley as the only relievers with 40+ saves and an ERA under 1.00. During the Ray’s recent 6-4 stretch, which included 3/4 shutouts, manager Joe Maddon said, “As long as our pitchers are on a roll, we have a good shot.”

Head to head: The Rays are not scared of the Yankees; they are 25-21 head-to-head against the Yanks the past three seasons. The Yankees pitching is slumping, posting the highest team ERA in July (3.97) of any month this season. The recent return of Joba Chamberlain to the pen may not be much help, he gave up 2 runs on 4 hits in his return on Wednesday. With shaky pitching, the Yankees could be in trouble. Although they also posted +18 run differential in July to balance their poor pitching, the Yankees lineup will suffer with Alex Rodriguez on the disabled list. The Ray’s younger legs (avg age 28.5 v 29.5) could be a deciding factor in the AL East, but they will have to deal with a deep Yankees offense.

After a win this Wednesday over the A’s, an optimistic Carlos Pena told reporters:

“This is good, this is really good. Winning on the road is always a challenge, I think for every single team. To win on the road is always more difficult people will say, historically. So to come out of this road trip after playing great ballclubs like we did, and win all three series, is a very positive sign. And we want to ride this positive momentum.”

The Rays are confident, even as they find themselves the proverbial David staring up at the Goliath Yankees once again. Many Rays on this years team have been in this situation before at the start of August, and remember how they ended up in the playoffs when October rolled in. Their young pitching and consistent bullpen will carry them through the dog days. Tampa Bay is sitting at 55-50, the same record they had at this point last year. At the very least, we will see the Rays in the wildcard play-in game.

Red Sox, O’s, and Jays fans, I counted you guys out! Let me know why I am wrong:
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Twitter: @ninjasblog, @rammer05
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Predictions: Busts and Badasses

ryan kalil makes bold superbowl prediction carolina panthers
As many of you Ninjas may have already seen, Panthers Center Ryan Kalil took out an ad in today’s Charlotte Observer. In this full page ad, Kalil guaranteed Panthers fans a Lombardi Trophy this season. There have been many bold predictions throughout the history of sports, and it remains to be seen where Kalil’s Superbowl prediction will rank. Often times, a prediction will fall flat on it’s face. In some cases though, athletes or coaches can back up a bold prediction with acts of badassery.

The Best:

5. Rasheed Wallace, Detroit Pistons, 2004 Easteren Conference Finals

The prediction: “We will win game 2.”
Success: ‘Sheed had enough power within the locker room to make the prediction work. His teammates backed him up and they went on to beat the Lakers in the NBA finals.

4. Plaxico Burress, New York Giants, 2007 Super Bowl

The prediction: Burress predicted that his 10-6 Giants will win 23-17.
Success: Plaxico caught the game winner in the Super Bowl XLII, helping his team along to a 17-14 victory.

3. Jim Fassel, New York Giants, 2000, Week 12

The prediction: “I am raising the stakes right now. If this is a poker game, I am shoving my chips right in the middle of the table…..Anybody who wants out, can get out. This team is going to the playoffs. Okay? This team is going to the playoffs.”

Success: The Giants, 7-4 at the time of the prediction, ended up making it all the way to the Super Bowl before losing to the Ravens.

2. Mark Messier, New York Rangers, 1994 Stanley Cup Finals

The prediction: Messier promised that his Rangers would beat the New Jersey Devils in game 6. The Rangers were behind 3-2.
Success: This was an intentional move to motivate his team. Messier answered on the first question he was asked the day before game 6, that they were going to win the game. Most importantly, Messier delivered on his prediction with a hat trick. The Rangers won their first title in 54 years, and Messier did this all before predictions were in style.

1. Joe Namath, New York Jets, 1967 Super Bowl

The prediction: “The Guarantee” as many call it, was straight to the point and simple. Joe Namath went down in history when he guaranteed his Jets would beat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.
Success: After a victory over the heavily favored Colts, Namath became an instant celebrity, and some speculate that this game and prediction is what brought the AFL and NFL together.

We can’t forget Babe Ruth calling his shot in the list above. Badass predictions are cool, but let’s be honest, we all enjoy a good bust.

The Worst:

5. Vince Young, Philadelphia Eagles, 2011 Preseason

The prediction: Vince Young gave his Eagles a ‘dream team’ label after the the Eagles signed a few highly touted free agents and implemented a new defensive scheme.
Failure: After a 1-3 start, Quarterback Mike Vick explained, “I think the “Dream Team” — that word is dead now. You can’t talk “Dream Team” anymore. Maybe it put pressure on some players, maybe it didn’t.”

4. Sam Cassel, Milwaukee Bucks, April 17th 2002

The prediction: PG Sam Cassel promised that his Bucks would would be the Pistons on the night of April 17th.
Failure: The Bucks did not show up that night, losing by 34. Horrid.

3. Rex Ryan, New York Jets, 2011 Preseason

The prediction: Rex Ryan predicted for the third straight year that his Jets would win the Super Bowl.
Failure: I understand establishing to your team that the Super Bowl is the clear goal at the beginning of the season, but failing on his prediction three years in a row just makes Rex look like a clown.

2. Lon Kruger, Atlanta Hawks, 2002 Preseason

The prediction: The Hawks head coach promised season ticket holders a $125 refund if the Hawks failed to make the playoffs.
Failure: Although Kruger was excited about the team’s attainment of Glenn Robinson, there is no excuse for publicly announcing a refund of any sort. His promise, along with a terrible record, lead to his termination midway through the season.

1. Ryan Leaf, San Diego Chargers, 1998 NFL Draft

The prediction: More like a quote… “I’m looking forward to a 15-year career, a couple of trips to the Super Bowl and a parade through downtown San Diego.”
Failure: With a career passer rating around 50, many consider Leaf the biggest bust in NFL history. The sheer boldness of his statement gives Leaf the top spot in this Ninja’s worst predictions list.

To follow a current prediction in progress, refer to Matt Kemp who mentioned the possibility of a 50-50 season.

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