Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Not Quite 4 Guinesses, But 4 Thoughts

1) Is this Pats team going to be a throwback to the ones that you know, actually won Super Bowls? They may not be as exciting as what we saw last year, but I can't help but think if they can mix an efficient passing game and a great running attack with excellent defense and special teams play then they have to at least be in the mix right? Maybe they won't be able to match points with the Cowboys, but is this Cowboys team more explosive than the Colts teams of yore? I really don't know, but the Pats did own the Colts back in the day before their defense got old and slow. Furthermore, the Pats offense may look pedestrian right now but in a few weeks, you would hope that Matt Cassell will start making reads a bit quicker than he has to date and can start taking advantage of some Randy Moss plays down the field. Of course maybe the entire defensive game plan against the Pats now is to deny Randy Moss and let Wes Welker, Jabar Gaffney, and the running backs beat them. Honestly, I really don't mind those odds. Especially considering Moss did have one breakaway play in the Jets game in which Cassell under threw him causing an incompletion instead of a 60 or so yard touchdown. In a few weeks does Cassell hit that pass? Again, maybe.

I don't want to blow the first two games out of proportion as the precise skill levels of all the teams in the league are still TBD, but from what I saw especially in the Jets game, I think the Pats might just be alright.

2) If I still have one concern about the team however, it still remains their offensive line. It was a question mark going into the season and it still remains the unit most capable of submarining the season. The front four however look just outstanding and honestly it is a unit capable of boasting three All Pro - not Pro Bowl, All Pro - players in Richard Seymour, Adalius Thomas, and Vince Wilfork. Not bad.

3) So what will decide the AL East? If the Sox can leave Tampa tied with the Rays then I think the division will come down to what Tampa does in the two more games they have than the Sox between Thursday and the end of the year - a game on Thursday when the Sox are off and double-header in Baltimore next Tuesday.

Assuming the Sox leave Tampa tied with the Rays for the division lead, I think the Sox win the division only if Tampa loses both of their "extra" games. If Tampa loses both of these then that gives the Sox the outright one game they need to take the division - tie goes to the Rays if the two teams split the next two games. If Tampa splits the two games, the Sox will need to be one game better than the Rays over the other ten, and if Tampa sweeps them then the Sox need to be two games better. Make sense?

If you want to crunch schedules, I say it is a wash as after this series, Tampa has four at home against the Twins and then four in Baltimore and four in Detroit while Boston has three in Toronto, four at home against Cleveland, and then wraps things up with three at home against the Yankees. After the Minnesota and Toronto series respectively, both teams will be facing teams in full-on "let's finish this season ASAP" mode. Furthermore, while both managers will "want" the division, neither will go overboard in trying to win (overusing pitchers, not resting position players, etc) because both teams will make the playoffs and a division title is pretty empty if it comes at the expense of your first round playoff series. As such I figure it will be real hard to gain any ground on Tampa during the final week unless Tampa completely collapses or Tito goes balls to the wall to win, which you know he won't.

In short, if you want to know whether or not the Sox will take the division, monitor Tampa's "extra" games real close. Anything less than two Tampa losses there and the Sox are most likely looking at the Wild Card.

4) I love how Sam Cassell keeps on insisting that he is coming back to the Celtics for this season and then he is going to become an assistant coach. What cracks me up is how he is the only person saying anything. The Celtics have not said a thing! Do you really think they want him back? I mean, was there a more despised Boston Athlete from April-June than Sam Cassell? Not even close right? Sam Cassell's statements this offseason are so laughable to me, the only way I could imagine a more ridiculous situation would have been if last winter Eric Gagne announced that not only was he throwing his hat in the ring for the closers job in 2008 but that he expected to be brought back the following year as pitching coach. Of course this whole Sam Cassell thing will probably happen fueling speculation even further that he has compromising pictures of both Doc Rivers and the Ownership Group.

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