Buy or Sell: Hurricanes, Raiders, Possible AFC Championship Game
On this week’s edition of Buy or Sell, we’ll be checking in on a coastal NHL team, an NFL franchise on the ropes, and whether NFL fans will be seeing a re-match of 2018’s Game of the Year (at least so far) to determine the AFC’s representative in the Super Bowl.
Cullen: The Carolina Hurricanes’ Fast Start is For Real.
RahimAli: I’m selling the Carolina Hurricanes’ fast start because they haven’t played the top teams yet. October 16th was the first game against a top team who went deep into the playoffs last year, the Tampa Bay Lightning (4-2). It was their third loss in seven games and second straight. They also lost to the Winnipeg Jets (3-1) and still haven’t gotten to play the top teams in the Metropolitan Division. If you don’t follow Hockey, let me give you the top three teams in that division and you tell me what you think about the Hurricanes’ hot start.
- Washington Capitals (2018 Champions)
- Pittsburgh Penguins
- Philadelphia Flyers
All of whom made the playoffs as a top seed, and the Hurricanes’ quick 4-1 start will slowly catch up to them like we have seen in the past few games. I do expect the Hurricanes to finish the season with at least 40 wins, but it’s still not going get them into playoffs and their drought will continue. The last time they made playoffs was the 2008-2009 season when they lost in the Conference Finals, but the competition is more competitive and makes it harder to win as many games as needed regardless of the points they earn.
Mickayeen: I’m gonna sell the Hurricanes’ fast start. They gutted out their team and will probably tank. I can’t even see them realistically winning 30 games, contrary to what RahimAli said. I’m not sure if you can have even a hockey fan who follows the NHL fairly closely name three players on their team. RahimAli did have a great point, though, about their schedule and their division. They haven’t played anyone good, and when they did, they lost. They are only a +3 with 4 wins. That is not sustainable.
RahimAli: The Oakland Raiders Will Finish With the Worst Record in the NFL This Season Under Coach Jon Gruden.
Cullen: I’ll buy the Raiders finishing with the NFL’s worst record. The Arizona Cardinals will give them a run for their money, but the Raiders play in a stronger conference and have fewer playmakers. Derek Carr’s regression is astounding, and the defense doesn’t look like it knows how to play a complete game.
Plus, Gruden–who, without a doubt, is the one making personnel calls–is trying to dump once-promising players for a nickel on the dollar while outright releasing recently signed veterans, like linebacker Derrick Johnson. Despite Gruden saying they’re not tanking, they’re tanking.
Now, I believe the Raiders will win at least one more game this season, so 1-15 won’t be happening. But 2-14, 3-13? Sure, I can believe that. What I’ll be curious to see, then, is what Gruden does with the #1 pick next year: nab Oregon’s QB Justin Herbert or try to patch up the defense by taking Ohio State’s DE Nick Bosa or Houston’s DT Ed Oliver? If they go with Herbert, Carr’s gone. Even if they go with Bosa or Oliver or any other position than QB, the Raiders can walk away from Carr with minimal damage after this year. The starting QB for the Las Vegas Raiders will not be Derek Carr.
Mickayeen: I will sell the Raiders being the worst team in the league, and I’m a Broncos fan. They will be very bad this season, but the Cardinals are worse. And on the topic of Gruden overall, he will be the most comfortable coach whose team picks in the top five the next two drafts. Here’s why: They still have one more year in Oakland after this before they go to Las Vegas. I’m not thinking the ownership cares about the people and fans in Oakland, so Gruden has two years to gut that thing out and start over in Vegas.
As Cullen said, Carr will likely not be the QB when they get to Vegas. Gruden will definitely last until Vegas–it’s why they hired him. And not necessarily because of his coaching skills (we are seeing how poor those are now), but because the name will put people in the seats. His seat is ice cold until Vegas.
Mickayeen: The Sunday Night Football Game Between the Patriots and Chiefs Was A Preview of the AFC Championship Game.
RahimAli: I’m selling the SNF showdown between Patriots and Chiefs as the AFC Championship game. I still like the Steelers and Jaguars to give both teams a run for their money despite each teams issues at running back.
The Chiefs have managed to beat both teams already, but that was early in the season. One thing we all know about Pittsburgh is that they start to take things to the next level after bye weeks, where they are currently. They may or may not have Le’Veon Bell returning. Jacksonville still has a lot of questions they need to answer. They were able to have an explosive offense against the Patriots in their win earlier this season and even in last years Conference Championship, but they got embarrassed against the Dallas Cowboys, 40-7. The same Cowboys team that doesn’t have a superstar receiver or playmaker other than Ezekiel Elliott.
Jacksonville should be able to bounce back and take control of their own fate. These four teams will likely be the division winners and all face each other. I do think Kansas City finally wins a playoff game to get to the Conference Championship, but the Steelers will beat them in another shootout after taking down the Patriots in the previous round.
Cullen: I’ll buy the Patriots and Chiefs heading to a re-match in the AFC Championship game.
First of all, that SNF game was incredible. Patrick Mahomes, for as poorly as he played in the first half, played a damn near perfect second half of football. But that Belichick-Brady combo at home is just too match. I believe first-time QBs in that environment are now 5-45.
These two teams look like two of the best in the NFL. I’m one of the few Chiefs fans who believes their defensive coordinator Bob Sutton can right the ship by the time the playoffs come around.
What will be key to this re-match taking place, is the Chiefs holding on to the AFC West and getting a bye that first week. Don’t sleep on the Chargers. They look great on both sides of the ball. Another team to watch out for is the Baltimore Ravens. That defense is menacing, and if Joe Flacco and the offense can just play consistent ball, they’ll be a tough out come the post-season.
I agree with RahimAli that the Steelers will be another team that must be overcome, but I’m not so sure about the Jaguars right now. I think they’re forgetting to play the games in front of them, instead looking ahead to the post-season. And Blake Bortles has regressed. The front office had their chance to upgrade on him in the offseason, but curiously didn’t. They need Leonard Fournette back and to be able to play on a consistent basis. He’s been too banged up to this point in his career.
Overall, I’m predicting the Chiefs and Patriots to each get a bye in the playoffs and to defeat whomever they play in the divisional round in Kansas City and Foxborough, respectively. That, of course, sets up Mahomes vs Brady part two.
What does everyone else think? Can the Carolina Hurricanes break their playoff drought? What team, if any, will fare worse than the Oakland Raiders the rest of the way? And will the Chiefs and Patriots play again this year, but this time for the right to play in the Super Bowl? Let us know in the comments!