Football

Who will be this season’s MVP?

My picks for MVP, and the rest of this year’s NFL awards.  (more…)

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Nick’s 2016 NFL Preview

I know it’s been a few years since I posted an NFL preview, but I really wanted to write something about sports and wrote about 3,000 words over the last two days to satisfy that urge. Below you can find the records I predict for each team in football, as well as who I think will make the postseason.  (more…)

2016 NFL Free Agency Review

by Nicholas Cicale (@nickcicale)

Giants sign OLB Olivier Vernon
5 years $85 million

Good lord that’s a lot of money! The Giants aren’t messing around, and with the three additions so far (Vernon, Harrison, Jenkins) have completely revamped their defense.

Jaguars sign DE Malik Jackson
5 years $85 million

After year’s of targeting the second tier of the free agency market and getting underwhelming returns, the Jags finally went for a big gun, signing one of the more impressive pass rushers down the stretch last season. The only concern is that Jackson was just one piece in a strong front seven in Denver, and will be “the guy” in Jacksonville.

Washington signs CB Josh Norman
5 years $75 million

When you consider Josh Norman wasn’t close to a household name up until this past season, and that he’s already 28-years-old, a 5-year deal for this much seems almost sure to give headaches down the road. However, right now, it’s the perfect addition for Washington. Their defense showed vast improvements last season but still missed a top-level piece in the secondary. Norman will give them more flexibility, more confidence and take pressure off the offense.

Texans sign QB Brock Osweiler
4 years $72 million

When looking at the numbers, Osweiler posted more or less the same numbers as Brian Hoyer last season. However, Osweiler offers a lot more upside, and gives the team a young quarterback to build around. It is a lot of money for a guy who’s played in seven games. (more…)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL RANKINGS: WEEK 14

by Nicholas Cicale (@nickcicale)

My final top four of the regular season is Clemson, Alabama, Michigan State, and Stanford, after each team won their conference championship game.

Oklahoma is the odd man out, after not playing this week and only playing 12 games this year, compared to 13 by the four teams ahead of them. Their average per game is actually higher than Stanford’s, but Oklahoma can’t get credit for a game they didn’t play now that we’re at the end of the season. I’m guessing the Playoff Committee will put Oklahoma in, but going by my metric, I’d leave them out.

After the championship games this weekend, the only non-bowl game left is Army/Navy.

last ranking

COLLEGE FOOTBALL RANKINGS: WEEK 13

by Nicholas Cicale (@nickcicale)

We’re one week away from knowing the answer.

Oklahoma is standing at #3 right now, but remember that their season is over. They won’t have any more chances to earn points because the Big 12 doesn’t have a championship game, and playing only 12 games instead of 13 will always hurt teams in the Big 12. A team can’t get credit for a game they don’t play.

This mean that the winner of Iowa vs Michigan State, as well as Clemson if they win the ACC should pass Oklahoma pretty easily.

Stanford also has a chance to squeak by Oklahoma (or even Alabama if they lose to Florida) if they take care of business in their game against USC.

The only other team that has an outside chance of cracking the top four is North Carolina. Doing the unthinkable and beating Clemson won’t be enough, but if they win and Stanford loses, they’ll have a shot.

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Update 11/29 2:50 p.m.: I double checked and went through every team’s points again for the whole season to make sure I had the math right. I found a few half point errors here and there, and as a result, Oklahoma moved down from #2 to #3, and Michigan and Northwestern swapped positions. Everything else stayed put.

 

COLLEGE FOOTBALL RANKINGS: WEEK 12

by Nicholas Cicale (@nickcicale)

There are only two weeks left in the college football season, but they’re the most important of the year and could cause the most movement in the ranks.

Rivalry week will bring up key games between ranked teams: Florida vs. FSU, Notre Dame vs. Stanford, Baylor vs. TCU, Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State, Ohio State vs. Michigan, UCLA vs. USC, Texas A&M vs LSU, and Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State. Also, one-loss Navy and Houston will square off to see which team was the best of the mid majors this season, and the winner will most likely find themselves in the top 25 at season’s end.

The most notable losses this week were Ohio State and Oklahoma State, but former undefeated teams that lost to games against their conference’s toughest competition. Oklahoma State still has an outside chance if they take care of business against Oklahoma, and some of the team’s ahead of them fall. Ohio State needs a lot of help from things out of their control and would have to win against two really difficult opponents to jump up into the top 4. It could happen, but it’s highly unlikely.

One team to keep an eye on is North Carolina. They haven’t lost since the first week of the year, and if they can somehow upset Clemson in two weeks, they would have a really strong resume. Probably not top-4 worthy, but it’s cool to see a new face near the top.

cfb week 12

COLLEGE FOOTBALL RANKINGS: WEEK 11

by Nicholas Cicale (@nickcicale)

There are only three weeks of games left before the College Football Playoff, but there is still plenty of time for things to change near the top of the polls with rivalry week and conference championship games on their way.

One rank I would like defend is Ohio State at 12. I know they’re defending champions and they’re undefeated, but the best two teams they’ve played this season are Minnesota and Penn State, neither of which are all that impressive, and they haven’t completely blown out the weak teams they’ve been up against either. This shows that these ranks are doing their job: to grade a teams based on what they’ve done so far this season, and not to factor in their preseason perception. Also, just because Ohio State is ranked 12 doesn’t mean they’re far out of the playoffs. Their last three games will be against Michigan, Michigan State, and Iowa in the Big 10 Championship game, and if they win all three, there’s no way they get left out.

Another similar situation has been happening in the Big 12. The top teams in the Big 12 were all lower than their record would probably indicate for the majority of this season because they all scheduled their hardest games the last three weeks of the season. Therefore, even with one loss already, Oklahoma, TCU and Baylor have a chance to really jump up the rankings if any of them go through these last three games unscathed. That would, however, require them to beat undefeated Oklahoma State, who’s the best chance for the conference to cement themselves in the playoff picture.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL RANKINGS: Week 10

by Nicholas Cicale (@nickcicale)

There were a lot of games between ranked teams in week 10, and as a result a lot of change near the top of the rankings. Clemson clinched their division, and beat FSU for the first time in four seasons, making them a pretty strong number 1 with a really good chance to go undefeated. Even with one loss, Alabama cemented themselves in the playoff race by beating LSU. TCU, who hadn’t been tested by a decent team all season, lost big to Oklahoma State, who is now up in the top 4 and has two more chances to impress to close out the season. Also in the top four, Iowa, probably the most consistent Big 10 team this season. Iowa’s only flaw is they have had a very week schedule and their only chance of being test is in the Big 10 Championship game.

Undefeated teams that lost this week were LSU (dropped from 1 to 8),TCU (3 to 12), Michigan State (8 to 15),   Memphis (21 to unranked), and Toledo (23 to unranked).

 

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College Football Rankings: Week 9

by Nicholas Cicale (@nickcicale)

The College Football Playoff Committee unleashed their first rankings of the season Tuesday night, so I felt it was a good time to release my own rankings.

I developed a basic system to rank teams at the end of last season called the NPI (Nick Power Index, because I’m narcissistic like that), and have been tinkering with it over the first nine weeks of this season. The goal is to grade a teams based on what they’ve done so far this season, and not to factor in their preseason perception. I also wanted a system that didn’t cause a team to plummet just because they lost a close game or against a really great team.

As a result, I came up with a basic point system that helps me evaluate teams after each game they play. Obviously, there’s no perfect formula to calculate points, so the system is pretty subjective, but here are the rough guidelines I use each week.

Each week a team will earn:

  • 5 Points after decisive win against an elite opponent (I haven’t given out a 5 all season
  • 4 Points after a win against a potential top 10 school
  • 3 Points after win against a top 25 school
  • 2.5 Points after a win against a top 30 school
  • 2 Points after a win against a lower-end power five school, or a strong non power five school
  • 1 Point after a win against a non power five school
  • 0 Points after a loss or bye week
  • -1 Point after a loss while either being a heavy favorite or vastly underperforming expectations.

*(half points can be added or taken away from a weekly total depending on the team’s performance/opponent)

As you can see, a team will always get some kind of points for a win, no matter how ugly or poor their opponent was. Teams will also rarely lose points for a loss, unless it is truly an inexplicable upset.  Also, because team’s have an opportunity to earn points every time they play a game, a team that has played less games could have a lower point total by default (hence why I’ve added a column showing a team’s average).

One final note, I do go back and re-evaluate the points team’s earned in previous weeks with the knowledge we gain throughout the season. For example, if a team that was considered good to start the year really suffers down the stretch (like Auburn this season) I could go back and change a win against them from being worth 3 points, down to 2.5 or 2.

Without further ado, here is my current top 25.

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Team Battles: Players That Should Have Their Team’s Trust (and Yours)

by Nicholas Cicale (@nickcicale)

This piece is pretty easy to figure out. Throughout you fantasy football draft there are a handful of teammates that have similar value, are fighting for roles in their offense, and are going in or around the same spot. Here, I go through a few of these situations for each position (other than quarterback) and explain who should be getting your vote of confidence.

Running Backs

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