Buy or Sell Six-Pack: Murray, Patriots, Bears, Ariza, Big Ten Basketball, Doncic
In the last Buy or Sell of 2018 (yep, we’re taking off next week), RahimAli, Joel and I are taking an expanded look at the sports landscape.
We’re discussing the future of Kyler Murray. Then we’re taking a look toward the NFL playoffs: do the Patriots have any cache left? Will the Bears manage to snag a first-round bye?
Finally, we end with some questions to be determined on the hardwood: did the Lakers make a mistake by standing pat? Will a Big Ten team rise up in March? And is the NBA Rookie of the Year already determined?
Cullen: Kyler Murray Will Be on an NFL Roster in 2019
Joel: I really want to buy Murray being on an NFL roster in 2019, but I think I have to sell. Murray has said for a long time he’s going to pursue MLB over the NFL. I thought that may change after the incredible season he’s had at Oklahoma and winning the Heisman, but his plans are still MLB. Until some sort of news comes out that’s good enough to convince me Murray is changing his mind, I’m going to believe he’s pursuing MLB.
Do I think he should choose the NFL over MLB? Yes. That’s not for me to decide, though. If Murray did pursue the NFL, he’d have no trouble at all getting on a roster. He’s an electric player who could not only help a team win, but bring in sales because people want to watch him play. I think Murray could do great things in the NFL, but I just don’t know if he’ll change his mind.
RahimAli: I would love for this to be a buy, but it’s an easy sell! Though Murray has won the 2018 Heisman Trophy, his decision was already made. Nothing will be able to change that, but maybe his dad!
I say that because this question has been on my mind since I first found out about who he is. Ironically, I had the honor of having a conversation with a former teammate of Kyler’s dad, Kevin Murray. As this conversation went on, he was telling me how Kevin also had the same plans. That was until he had a gruesome ankle injury that forced him to retire. You see, Kevin played in NFL and got hurt. He now spends his time as a high school football coach.
But the difference between Kyler and his father is the athleticism Kyler has. We have been able to see what kind of athlete he is on the football field, but I’m really interested in seeing what he will do on a baseball diamond.
Why Murray made the decision to play baseball over football, I don’t know, but I’m looking forward to seeing the kind of explosive plays he’ll make as an athletic player with incredible skills. Whether he sticks with MLB or does have a career in the NFL, Murray is going to become a household name.
RahimAli: The Five-Loss Patriots Are No Longer the Team to Beat in the AFC
Cullen: With Tom Brady still at the helm and Bill Belichick still on the sidelines, the Patriots will be the AFC team to beat until someone beats them in the playoffs. So I’m selling this.
They looked bad Sunday against the Steelers. This offense is not at all explosive. Rob Gronkowski looks like a shell of his former self, and Josh Gordon’s usage has been perplexing, at best. Brady, who won the MVP as a 40-year-old, definitely looks his age in 2018.
But that may be an advantage in the AFC playoffs. There will be some young quarterbacks in the playoffs for the first time in the AFC, from the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes II to the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson to the Texans’ Deshaun Watson. I’d feel more comfortable with Brady’s playoff experience than those young gunslingers’ potential. With the Chargers and Philip Rivers–they have had minimal, if any, success in the playoffs. The Patriots’ biggest threat may very well be the team that just beat them. But even the Steelers are playing incredibly inconsistently.
All this is to say, don’t count the Patriots out of the playoffs just yet.
Joel: I’m going to sell on the Patriots not being the team to beat anymore. New England may not be the best team in the AFC this season, but they’re still the team nobody except Patriots fans wants in the Super Bowl. Until the Patriots have been beaten in the playoffs and aren’t going to the Super Bowl again, they’re going to be the team to beat.
I agree with what Cullen said about the young QBs some of the AFC teams have. We haven’t seen too many young QBs have a lot of playoff success. Most of the time it’s the experienced QBs who come out on top. Tom Brady has a proven resume of winning in the playoffs, as evidenced by his eight Super Bowl appearances and five Super Bowl wins.
If the Patriots are in the playoffs, they’ll have a target on their back regardless of how bad they’re playing right now. Their bad play recently will go out the door come playoff time. It’s a new start for every team. It’s a new game. The Patriots have consistently won that game, making them the team to beat.
Joel: The Chicago Bears Will Grab a First-Round Bye
Cullen: Selling on the Bears getting a first-round bye. For that to happen, Chicago needs to win out, defeating both a suddenly decent-looking 49ers team in San Francisco and defeating a Vikings team that’s vying for a playoff spot. Meanwhile, the Rams, with whom the Bears hold a head-to-head tiebreaker, travel to the pitiful Arizona Cardinals and host the 49ers. The Rams are a game up on the Bears, and I think they’ll keep it that way.
Now, about how each of these teams fare in the playoffs, that may be a different story…
RahimAli: I will sell the Bears clinching a first round bye despite their victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 14. I sell it because it’s just too late in the season. I do expect to see the Bears finish the season strong and have a nice 12-4 record with wins over the Niners this week and divisional foe Minnesota Vikings in the season finale. But because of injury to QB Mitchell Trubisky earlier in the season, the Bears lost some ground on the Rams and NFC’s No. 1 team, the New Orleans Saints.
For the Rams (11-3), it’s coming down to two of their divisional opponents, the Arizona Cardinals, and the same Niners that will face the Bears. The Cardinals are looking to get one of the top three picks in the 2019 draft (currently no. 1), and the Niners are just looking forward for their key offensive players (QB Jimmy Garrapolo and RB Jerrick McKinnon) to return next season. But the real thing is that this will give Rams QB Jared Goff a few more games to get his act together and bounce back nicely after having several interceptions and a fumble in the last two weeks.
For the Saints, they could lose one of their next two games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers. I think they will lose to the Steelers as a pick in this week’s picks. Read my explanation there. But still one more loss will still leave the Bears a game back of the Saints. It’s okay though, because I really believe this Bears team could be the team to beat, and I’m a Rams fan.
Cullen: The Lakers Made a Mistake in Passing up Trading for Trevor Ariza
Joel: I buy it was a mistake passing on Ariza. Ariza may not be the player he once was, but he’s still a very effective player who could significantly help the Lakers. Just his presence as a veteran could help them. Look at what Tyson Chandler has done for the Lakers. He’s helped their defense and gives them valuable experience. I think Ariza would have done the same for the Lakers. Ariza is a very good defender, who is also capable of scoring. He’s shooting 36% from three this season and has been a pretty consistent three-point shooter throughout his career. With a guy like LeBron James demanding all the attention, Ariza wouldn’t have had to do much but move around and take open shots LeBron gave him. I think that would have worked out nicely.
When playoff time comes around, Ariza would have been very effective. The Lakers are going to need as many defenders as they can get if they want to beat the Warriors, Nuggets, Thunder, etc. in the playoffs. Ariza could have been one of the defenders the Lakers needed. They’ll be fine without him, but I believe they would have been better with him on their team.
RahimAli: As a Lakers fans since 1998, I’m buying this as a huge mistake.
When Ariza was first a Laker from 2007-2009, he wasn’t like what he is now, but I’ve always wished there was a way to get him back to the Lakers. I understand the reason for moving on the first time, but passing on him this late in his career, I don’t like it.
Looking at what was given up in the trade to get Ariza, you can’t tell me the Lakers don’t have pieces to move. I mean, they could’ve moved one of their veteran players like Lance Stephenson, Micheal Beasley or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and paired them with a rookie and a pick. I mean, the Suns are the worst team in the NBA and anything is better than what they have. They just waived Austin Rivers, too, as he was a part of the deal.
But for Lakers, it’s about getting the veteran presence around the young guys like Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma. That’s why the Lakers have made the moves they did signing all these veterans to one-year deals. Like Joel said, the addition of Tyson Chandler has already made a huge impact on the Lakers defensively, and Ariza would have been another great piece. Ariza not only is a good defender like he has been his entire career, but he’s become better and better every year. That’s what the Lakers need to do. Having the presence of a player with Ariza’s caliber to help Ingram, Kuzma and even Josh Hart defensively would’ve helped make the Lakers a better team and an instant top three team in the West. Although being fourth isn’t bad right now, how long will they be able to stay there with other teams like the Thunder and Warriors looking like tough opponents?
But I hope the Lakers do address the concern of more defense before the trade deadline comes around.
RahimAli: A Big Ten Team Will Win the National Championship in Basketball This Season, Ending an 18-Year Drought
Joel: It’s still too early in the season for me to really buy a Big Ten team winning the National Championship. There’s still a lot of basketball left to be played and you just never know what will happen in College Basketball. However, as the top 25 sits right now, the Big Ten has the most teams out of any conference to be ranked. Seven teams, to be exact. Those seven teams are Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa and Nebraska. It’s because of these seven teams being ranked in the top 25 that I’ll buy the Big Ten being home to the champs, but I’m going to leave that buy subject to change as the season goes on. The numbers are in favor of this happening right now, but again, you never know what can happen in College Basketball.
Cullen: Selling on a Big Ten team winning it all. It’s still too early to make that kind of prediction. So I’ll take the field. I expect the Big Ten teams to beat up on each other all through conference play and the Big Ten Tournament. That could do one of two things: make the eventual champion that much stronger, or weaken every team to the point that none go the distance in the NCAA Tournament. Right now, my guess is the latter situation playing out.
Joel: Luka Dončić is Already a Lock to Win Rookie of the Year
RahimAli: I will buy this! Out of all the players drafted in the top five, Dončić was put in the best situation. That situation was the Dallas Mavericks, who have always been known to make the playoffs. However, the past two seasons have been rough for the Mavericks.
With them losing so many games, it landed them into the draft lottery. It’s interesting though, because the Atlanta Hawks had drafted him third overall, but traded him to the Dallas Mavericks for PG Trae Young. Young is probably the only player right now who has a chance to catch Dončić. But Dončić has used the team around him to better himself and get the Mavericks into playoff position. Now I know it’s still early in the season, but I have told you previously in my “NBA Review” articles to watch out for the Mavericks. They might have had a few bad seasons, but this season will end with a playoff spot and the rookie of the year. There is no question about it! Dončić is the best player from the 2018 draft class and he will continue to show it as the season goes on. Playing alongside veterans like Dirk Nowitzki, Deandre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and Harrison Barnes will only help him in his progression this season. Let’s not forget about the 2017 Slam Dunk champion winner, Dennis Smith Jr. He and Dončić are the future of the Mavericks team. Boy does that look like a great future!
Cullen: I’ll sell that he’s already a lock for Rookie of the Year, but he is the favorite, for sure. I think he’ll win it. But it’s still so early. I wouldn’t completely count out Collin Sexton or Trae Young. One thing that could surely derail Dončić’s shot at Rookie of the Year is injury. Overall, I sell, yet if he stays healthy and, at the minimum, keeps doing what he’s been doing, he’ll get that hardware.
There you have it! Our last thoughts of 2018. What does everyone else think?
- What’s Kyler Murray going to ultimately do?
- Will the Patriots show up for the playoffs?
- Can the Bears get to help and snag a first-round bye?
- Will missing out on Trevor Ariza hurt the Lakers?
- Can a Big Ten basketball squad finally win it all this season?
- Who can overcome Luka Dončić for NBA Rookie of the Year?
As always, thanks for reading. Hit us up in the comments with your thoughts on these six matters. See you all in 2019!