Bruce Irvin poised to make NFL history again with Sunday’s game — Seahawks Wire

The Seahawks are making history this season in a lot of ways. The next item on the list is playing in the first NFL game ever in Germany. Seattle’s team looks a lot different than their peak during the Legion of Boom years. However, there is one familiar face who’s returned recently to be part…

Bruce Irvin poised to make NFL history again with Sunday’s game — Seahawks Wire

Seahawks honored to play in the 1st-ever NFL game in Germany — Seahawks Wire

The Seattle Seahawks will be one of two teams to play in the first-ever NFL regular-season game in Germany when they square off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 10 at Allianz Arena in Munich. Coach Pete Carroll talked about the magnitude of the opportunity on Monday. “Sure, and again, I’ll throw this number…

Seahawks honored to play in the 1st-ever NFL game in Germany — Seahawks Wire

NFL Week Nine Winners and Losers

We’re officially in the second half of the NFL 2022 regular season. Some teams are rising in draft position while others inch closer to the playoffs. Postseason hopefuls want higher seeding further into November. Without further delay here are the winners and losers after week nine.

Winners: Cole Kmet

Many analysts and viewers are ecstatic and relieved Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields is progressing and making the most with the limited talent around him. What many overlook is the elevated play of Cole Kmet when Fields plays better.

The third year tight-end caught two of Justin Fields’ three touchdown passes in a back-and-forth home game against Miami on Sunday. Kmet’s 41 yards gives him 200 after nine games. He’s struggled to find a place in the Bears’ offense because of horrible play-calling and coaching the last two years.

There’s progress with offensive coordinator Luke Getsy making better decisions and adjusting personnel to Fields’ strengths. Chicago needs a stronger redzone offense and Cole Kmet provides that if utilized properly.

The AFC East divisional race

Most people expected the AFC east to be competitive and have at least two teams make the playoffs. Few expected all four teams to have a margin of one game and a half for first place after week nine. Every team has a shot at winning the division and hosting a playoff game.

The Buffalo Bills are heavy favorites to win the division but they’re winless against their rivals. Both the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins are a half game behind the Bills and won’t sputter before December. The Jets defense is one of the best against the pass and has a better offensive line than most thought. Miami is well rounded with a top five offense and a solid defense and special teams unit. Last but not least, New England still has the best head coach in the NFL in Bill Belichick. He’s able to get the best out of his players regardless of position.

The AFC East winner won’t get the number one seed unless Kansas City bungles some December games, but it will be the most entertaining race in the conference.

Joe Mixon

Cincinnati’s thrashing of the Carolina Panthers was the most decisive game Sunday. Bengals runningback Joe Mixon had a career day scoring five of the six touchdowns Cincinnati scored.

You read that right. According to and Sportscenter’s Scott Van Pelt, he’s the sixth player in NFL history to score five touchdowns in one game (the last player to do it was Jonathan Taylor last season). His 30 points in three quarters sealed an easy win after a short week.

Many believe the Bengals offense goes through quarterback Joe Burrow when in reality it’s Mixon. Cincinnati’s had an up-and-down season because of their starting runningback’s mixed success running the ball and reading the field. His presence and taking pressure off Burrow creates opportunities to expand deep-ball plays. If the Bengals get back to the playoffs it’s because Joe Mixon consistently plays well.

Travis Etienne Jr.

Despite Jacksonville trailing 17-0 and 20-7 in the first half Sunday, the Jaguars won an eye-opening game due to new starting runningback Travis Etienne Jr. stepping up.

In his second game as the starter, he ran 28 times for 109 yards and two touchdowns. The first one gave Jacksonville their first points of the game and his second gave them their first and only lead.

While there’s discussion around the disappointing play of quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Etienne Jr.’s become a bright spot on offense and could be the spark that gets Jacksonville back into contention.

Losers: Aaron Rodgers

Every former NFL MVP has bad games. Yet it’s rare when those who won multiple MVP awards fall hard and can’t do almost anything right seasons after.

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has played poorly in all but two games half-way through the regular season. Sunday brought new lows for the Packers offense. Rodgers was picked off twice in the redzone and threw three interceptions total in Detroit.

The game wasn’t one sided either. Green Bay’s defense kept the game close but Rodgers couldn’t elongate plays and his top two receivers were Allen Lazard and Josiah Deguara (they combined for 128 of his 291 passing yards).

The Packers did nothing again at the trade deadline, declining to add a star receiver until the offseason. There aren’t many options at wide receiver in the upcoming free agency pool. If Green Bay wants to play better, Rodgers has to meet with the team and management to discuss what’s wrong.

Drake London’s terrible fumble to start the third quarter

The Falcons are masters at losing close games to playoff caliber teams. How they lost to the Chargers at home was classic Atlanta.

The Falcons went downfield on their first possession of the second half and got to the Chargers’ eleven yard line. Down four, quarterback Marcus Mariota completed a pass to receiver Drake London at the five. What happened after summarized why the team is a punchline.

Good news for Atlanta is they’re still tied for first place in the NFC South…whatever that’s worth.

Vance Joseph

Analysts and fans are buzzing about the sideline exchanges between quarterback Kyler Murray, the offensive line, head coach Kliff Kingsbury and receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Despite the problems on Arizona’s offense, the defense played one of their worst games of the season Sunday.

Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph did a good job holding Seattle’s offense to ten points in the first half. The game almost swung in the Cardinals’ favor when linebacker Zaven Collins intercepted Geno Smith and ran for a touchdown. Instead things went downhill.

Seattle’s offense had two straight 13 play drives over 6 and a half minutes each and scored 14 points. Rookie runningback Kenneth Walker III ran for two touchdowns in the second half, becoming the first Seahawk runningback since Shaun Alexander to have five straight games of 50+ rushing yards and a touchdown. Arizona’s offense might have played better depending on which key third down wasn’t converted against the defense. When veterans such as J.J. Watt jump offsides on third and short, it’s a sign things aren’t well. Seattle was 10-of-15 on third down and averaged six yards per play.

Joseph saw this offense not even a month ago and made no adjustments in either second half. While the defense is tough to demand better play from, second half adjustments make teams more focused, not sloppy. The Cardinals aren’t a good football team and they prove it by not getting off the field nor playing with urgency.

The NFL’s week ten late afternoon scheduling

Last month I gave the NFL credit for a well thought out week six schedule. Someone must hold the league accountable for the ire and negative emotions week ten’s late afternoon games will bring.

Next Sunday there are three late afternoon games starting with the Indianapolis Colts versus the Las Vegas Raiders at 3:05 CT. The Colts just fired their head coach and the Raiders are one of the worst disciplined teams in the NFL. We’re then treated to America’s Slaughterhouse of the Week between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys. The heavy advertising is irritable when one realizes Dallas had week nine off and can run through and end the Packers’ postseason hopes.

The last game is round two of the Arizona Cardinals versus Los Angeles Rams. Neither team has a functioning offense, making this a nightmare for any viewer. If the NFL wanted to contain outrage, they’d flex a better game into the late afternoon spot.

WATCH: Highlights from Seahawks victory over Cardinals in Week 9 — Seahawks Wire

The Seattle Seahawks beat the division-rival Arizona Cardinals in Week 9 of the regular season to advance to 6-3 on the year. Catch all the highlights from Sunday’s matchup below. List LOOK: Best photos from Seahawks Week 9 win over Cardinals Email Sign up Like this article? Sign up for the Seahawks Wire email newsletter…

WATCH: Highlights from Seahawks victory over Cardinals in Week 9 — Seahawks Wire

NFL Week Eight Winners and Losers

Week eight was a fun and wild end to October. There are some surprising teams in first place while some playoff seasoned teams are getting worse. The first two months of the season were anything but dull. It’s time to break down the week eight winners and losers on Halloween.

Winners: Dennis Allen

Here’s a story for anyone who didn’t follow or remember the 2014-2015 NFL season: Dennis Allen was in the third year of his contract with the then Oakland Raiders. At the time, Allen was the youngest coach hired in the league at 36 and the first defensive minded one the organization selected since John Madden’s tenure in about 40 years.

Dennis Allen’s last year with the Raiders is remembered for fielding one of the most porous defenses to play the game. Since it was one of the last years head-to-head tackling and vicious hits could take place, it’s considered a top three all-time worst defense. They gave up almost 500 points in 16 games. Allen was fired before October began and had eight wins in not even three and a half seasons.

Fast forward to Sunday and things couldn’t be more different. It’s undisputed he was hired way sooner than expected. Allen coached the New Orleans Saints to their third win of the season against his former team the Raiders. Las Vegas is supposed to be a much better team on offense but that wasn’t shown at any point. New Orleans shut them out 24-0 in the most dominant game a team’s played this season.

The Saints will struggle on offense and have defensive issues due to injuries for the remaining nine games but Dennis Allen proved he’s a superior coach over Josh McDaniels (another NFL coach who hadn’t led a team in over six seasons).

Dallas Cowboys (especially the offense)

Dallas is in a good place after October. Starting quarterback Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense had their best game of the season at home against the Chicago Bears.

The Bears played two impressive games in a one week span. It’s just Dallas is a better and more complete team. Prescott threw for 250 yards, two touchdowns, a 114.5 quarterback rating and 21 of 27 passes. Backup runningback Tony Pollard had a great game too. He ran for 131 yards on 14 carries (over nine yards per run) and three scores.

The defense played well too. The unit sacked sophomore quarterback Justin Fields four times and scored a touchdown after recovering runningback Khalil Herbert’s fumble.

A lot of people wondered if there was a quarterback controversy in Dallas after Cooper Rush kept winning games in Dak Prescott’s absence. Head coach Mike McCarthy has kept the team focused on playing their schedule and not overlooking opponents. Last but not least, the Cowboys went up in the standings after their division rival New York Giants lost their first road game of the season.

Tua Tagovailoa

Miami’s undefeated when their former first round pick starts and finishes every game. The offense is explosive and head coach Mike McDaniels’ play-calling flows better.

The Dolphins and Lions went back and forth in a high-scoring game Sunday. The last touchdown pass Tagovailoa threw gave Miami their first lead of the day.

There’s a stark contrast with Miami’s offense when Tua’s comfortable and reads the field. He picked Detroit’s defense apart most of the game even in a ten point second half. Tagovailoa has the Dolphins third in passing yards this season while receiver Tyreek Hill has 961 yards in eight games (the most for any receiver this season). Defenses will have headaches figuring out how to contain Miami’s offense the rest of 2022.

Christian McCaffrey

The former Carolina Panther star is already a playmaker in coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense. In Sunday’s sweep against the Los Angeles Rams (more on them later) McCaffrey did everything on offense to get the 49ers back to .500.

The second score of the game was a trick play toss to the runningback, who threw a dazzling 34 yard touchdown pass to receiver Brandon Aiyuk. McCaffrey would later catch a touchdown pass from quarterback Jimmy Garappolo to give San Francisco their first lead of the game. They never trailed after.

Christian McCaffrey would later run for a one yard touchdown, giving the 49ers a double digit lead. Despite injuries San Francisco has this season, trading for a dynamic runningback takes pressure off the passing game and creates havoc for opposing defenses. Viewers shouldn’t be surprised to see Shanahan’s team have an ascent to the playoffs similar to last season’s.

Have you ever watched a movie inspired by real events and wonder where the people are now? Or about how much of what was shown really happened? Before the Script is your podcast that has the answers. Check them out wherever you get your podcast fix. New episodes drop on Sunday night, so take a listen to Jazzy’s educational and fun podcasts. You won’t be disappointed by the last two Halloween themed ones on Spotify.

Losers: Kenny Pickett

Whenever a team drafts a quarterback in the first round of the NFL draft, fans and analysts expect that player to start at some point in the upcoming season. Yet it personally irritates me when there’s a starting quarterback struggling not even a month into the season and almost everyone leads a conversation about the rookie starting for the rest of the season just so things look better.

The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t better with rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett behind center. One might say the loss to an undefeated Philadelphia Eagles team shouldn’t warrant such criticism, but this was a point I made after a close loss to the New York Jets in his debut.

While Pittsburgh heads into a bye week, three of their next five games feature teams that play great on defense, and the Steelers haven’t scored more than 20 points since week one. In Pickett’s four starts since he was named QB1 after the the Jets loss, the Steelers have scored three, 20, ten and 20 points. The lone touchdown in that blowout loss to Philadelphia was a one yard pass from receiver Chase Claypool.

It feels like this lesson has to be learned by viewers every year. A team shouldn’t thrust a rookie quarterback into the starting role unless there’s no other option. It wouldn’t be surprising if coach Mike Tomlin makes a change again sometime before Thanksgiving.

Eddy Pineiro

We made it eight weeks before a kicker was named to the loser’s section (I consider it a win with everything going on this season). There’s a lot of discussion and anger being directed towards receiver DJ Moore after he scored what would’ve been the game winning touchdown for Carolina because he took his helmet off after the play. It drew a flag and a longer extra point attempt for his team’s kicker.

A 48 yard extra point attempt is pretty bad. It’s not as bad as missing an easy 33 yard game winning field goal attempt in overtime. If Pineiro made the kick there would be an all-out tie for first place in the awful NFC South. The discussion about the division would transform into how the duo of quarterback P.J. Walker and interim coach Steve Wilks are turning things around mid-season.

Good old Eddy is in the losers section, so you can guess how that game ended.

Los Angeles Rams

If you were told the Rams were the current Super Bowl champions, you’d never know based from their play. In fairness to viewers who watched last season’s games, you can make the case that Los Angeles went from winless all of November to the Super Bowl. Many things went into that reversal of fortune. However more change is needed this year in order for the Rams to make the playoffs.

Los Angeles was again swept by their in-state rivals Sunday. Every team has a divisional foe they can’t get past at some point, but the Rams’ bye was a week before the sweep. They looked awful after the first quarter.

It’s also fine to acknowledge Los Angeles is also one game under .500 despite the ugly play. They’re in third place ahead of Arizona, a team they barely beat. The Rams’ other two wins were a shocking nail-biter versus Atlanta and an ugly win against Carolina in what was Panthers’ head coach Matt Rhule’s last game.

There’s nothing stellar, fun or reminiscent of last year’s Super Bowl contending team. The running game is second-to-last in the NFL. The offense is bottom five in a lot of categories while the defense is ok at best. The schedule gets easier after November but it’s hard to see how this team improves and keep playoff aspirations given the competition in the NFC East and the two teams ahead of them in the west.

That hilarious penalty on Pete Carroll where referee Jerome Boger had no idea who Seattle’s football team was

There aren’t many hilarious penalties drawn from head coaches but the one called on Pete Carroll was a good laugh. Carroll was hyping his offense, got caught up having fun on the field and hit a referee. It drew a flag for illegal member of the home team. Even funnier was referee Jerome Boger thinking Seattle’s football team was the Mariners and not the Seahawks. The Mariners are Seattle’s baseball team that was eliminated from post-season play at the beginning of October.

NFL Week Seven Winners and Losers

As October ends there’s a separation of which teams are closer to clinching playoff seeds and which ones will have a high draft pick. Coaching plays a part in who advances or goes home. A lot stood out in week seven’s action, so it’s time for the winners and losers.

Winners: Cincinnati Bengals offense

Many were wondering when the Bengals’ offensive barrage would break out. It finally came Sunday in a decisive victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

Quarterback Joe Burrow had another career game throwing almost 500 yards, three touchdowns and a 138.2 quarterback rating. Burrow and runningback Joe Mixon each ran for a touchdown. Wide receivers Tyler Boyd and Ja’Marr Chase both had eight catches for 130 yards or more and scored eighteen total points.

Atlanta has a good chance of making the playoffs by winning their division. The Bengals ran up 28 points in the first half and could’ve broke the all-time yards record if the game was closer. Head coach Zac Taylor has to be thrilled his team’s finally resembling last year’s conference winning unit.

Underdog quarterbacks

If you told viewers heading into week seven that P.J. Walker would beat Tom Brady, Taylor Heinecke would outperform Aaron Rodgers and Geno Smith would be the better quarterback instead of Justin Herbert, those people would laugh it off. No one’s laughing after those three games.

In the most shocking upset, P.J. Walker led the Carolina Panthers to a decisive win over Tom Brady’s Buccaneers. Walker completed one throw past the line of scrimmage (one yard in fact) in week six versus the Los Angeles Rams. Walker threw two touchdowns and completed 16 of 22 passes. It was better than Brady’s 32 completions and no scores.

In D.C., Taylor Heinecke threw more yards than Aaron Rodgers in a close win. Both threw two touchdowns but Heinecke has a better understanding of his offense and completed three or more passes to four different receivers. His touchdown throw to Terry McLaurin gave the Commanders their first lead of the day.

Seattle’s win in Los Angeles was also unexpected. Geno Smith finished the game with a 105.5 quarterback rating and is still the league’s most accurate passer. While Smith and Justin Herbert threw two touchdowns and an interception each, the latter attempted 51 passes for under 300 yards. Smith faced adversity at multiple points and progressed. The winning effort helped cement Seattle’s rise to first place in the NFC West.

While Geno Smith has been consistent most of the year, it’s unknown if Walker or Heinecke continue to build off the success. It does keep Seattle, Carolina and Washington relevant until November.

Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City’s struggles last season made the team evolve into a more dangerous unit. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes II learned from the losses and is more comfortable reading the middle of the field. His receivers have grown into their starting roles and the defense plays better in the second half of games.

The Chiefs offense slammed the number one defense in the NFL with a 500 yard performance. Receivers Juju Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling had 100 yard games. Receiver Mecole Hardman ran for two touchdowns and tight-end Travis Kelce caught six passes for 98 yards.

Kansas City’s defense recorded a safety (two points given to the defense for stopping an opposing offense in their endzone) and gave up 13 points after the first quarter. The Chiefs defense will always be the lesser of the three units on Andy Reid’s team but coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s turned things around in four seasons. The front seven is getting more pressure on quarterbacks, the secondary defends passes better and most importantly they adjust against high scoring opponents.

The Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles are seen as the complete teams in professional football at the end of October. Kansas City is the third team to put in this category. No one will want to face them come January.

Clint Hurtt and Sean Desai

There’s a lot to say about the Geno Smith-led Seattle offense. However the Seahawks are over .500 and in first place in the NFC West because both the offense and defense are in-sync and frustrate teams each week.

Ken Norton Jr.’s firing after last season was viewed by many in the Pacific Northwest as a popular move knowing the defense could play better. The organization promoted Clint Hurtt and hired Sean Desai from the Chicago Bears. The issue was how both coaches were going to get a bunch of young players to switch from a 4-3 defensive scheme to a 3-4 one.

While it’s still early in the season for a definitive result, there are positive signs. In the last two weeks the defense gave up 24 points. 17 of the 24 came from long offensive drives (Geno Smith’s interception gave Los Angeles an easy, seven point drive to trail 17-14 before Seattle scored again). What many thought was an anemic defensive line has nine sacks in the two game span. Linebackers and safeties are tackling better since the week three fiasco versus Atlanta and they’re limiting extra yard chances for opposing receivers or runners.

Seattle faces three more star-studded offenses before the bye week but should improve in each game. Even if Geno Smith and the offense slow down, there’s relief knowing the defense can step up.

Have you ever watched a movie inspired by real events and wonder where the people are now? Or about how much of what was shown really happened? Before the Script is your podcast that has the answers. Check them out wherever you get your podcast fix. New episodes drop on Sunday night, so take a listen to Jazzy’s educational and fun podcasts. You won’t be disappointed by the last two Halloween themed ones on Spotify.

Losers: The hype around Davis Mills being a franchise quarterback

Anyone watching the Houston Texans is learning about the risk-reward of having a third round quarterback be a starter. A lot of people were high on sophomore pick Davis Mills heading into the season. Most of it was deserved. After seven weeks we’re learning he probably won’t be the guy who propels the Texans to the playoffs.

Houston had a mediocre performance in Las Vegas Sunday. The Raiders secondary is porous and Mills struggled against them. One might say Las Vegas got things together during the bye week, but the Texans shared the same week off and finished the game with two ten point quarters.

Keep in mind owner Cal McNair is investing heavily in Davis Mills since he’s the quarterback replacing DeShaun Watson. The team needs better pieces on offense but an ok passer isn’t what the franchise envisioned this season.

NFC South

There isn’t a worse division in the NFL than the NFC South. Before the season started many people predicted Tampa Bay would win the division and New Orleans would get a wild-card spot. It’s hard to see either happening after seven weeks.

The Buccaneers have the talent and coaches to turn things around but they’re tied with Atlanta for first place at 3-4. Atlanta and Carolina were teams no one saw doing well. Arthur Smith’s Falcons play hard almost every week and feel they have the best chance to win the division. Carolina’s been one of the worst teams to watch all season and somehow thumped Tampa Bay in a double digit home win.

While it’s week eight it’s hard to see how anyone wins the NFC South over .500. If there’s no team in this division that clinches a wild-card berth, it opens the door for a struggling team like Los Angeles or San Francisco to make the playoffs and do some damage.

Brett Rypien

Despite a lot of upsets on Sunday due to quarterback play, no one believed Denver’s backup quarterback Brett Rypien would outperform New York Jets starting quarterback Zach Wilson.

Everything that can go wrong for the Broncos this season, is. Starting quarterback Russell Wilson has underperformed all season. He’s also out for a month due to a partial hamstring tear. That means Rypien has three more weeks after Sunday to show he can be a starting quarterback given the week-to-week preparation. It doesn’t look promising so far.

Rypien threw 100 yards more than Zach Wilson but it took 46 passes. He threw one interception and posted a quarterback rating of 56.9. Denver’s receiving core consists of Cortland Sutton, K.J. Hamler, Jerry Jeudy and an emerging Greg Dulcich. They mustered only nine points.

The Broncos are a disappointment due to inept offensive play and it won’t change with Brett Rypien under center.

Amari Cooper

Cleveland can complain about the referees for that terrible false start penalty but the real culprit is Amari Cooper a couple of plays before that mishap.

On a third and two, Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett found Cooper one-on-one versus Marcus Peters and threw a well-timed pass. Cooper caught it but pushed off against Peters for an uncontested completion and ran into the endzone for a touchdown. It was called back for a blatant offensive pass interference call.

Commentator and former quarterback Trent Green even said, “He (Cooper) didn’t even have to do that because the pass was far enough ahead to catch.”

The Browns mishandled every play after and lost by three points.

Geno Smith credits Pete Carroll for Seahawks’ success: ‘He knows how to coach ball’ — Seahawks Wire

The Seahawks will be facing the Giants this coming week, making for a matchup between the two most-surprising good teams in the NFL this year. How Seattle started the season 4-3 and is currently leading the NFC West is a complicated story with a lot of moving parts. That said, at the top of the…

Geno Smith credits Pete Carroll for Seahawks’ success: ‘He knows how to coach ball’ — Seahawks Wire

2022-23 NBA Western Conference Playoff Picks

The NBA is back to pre-pandemic levels of sold out arenas and fan interactions with players and the western conference boasts the last NBA championship team. Fans and analysts are excited to see Kawhi Leonard, Jamal Murray and Damian Lillard return to play. Many people will focus on how well the Pacific division featuring the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers perform in the regular season. LeBron James could break Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s scoring record, Draymond Green could be traded before the All-Star game, and the Utah Jazz might bottom out for a top five pick.

That’s a lot to process, so let’s turn the attention to which eight teams have the best chances of making the western conference playoffs.

Memphis Grizzlies

Both the Grizzlies and Clippers are expected to keep the momentum from last year going and clinch a top seed for the playoffs

Memphis was one of the most exciting teams to watch last season. They lead the league in points scored, rebounds per game and have an energetic roster. The Grizzlies won a playoff series and learned valuable lessons in their second round defeat to the champion Warriors. Expect an even better season for Grind City.

Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers bulked up on depth acquiring John Wall, Reggie Jackson, Robert Covington, Nicholas Batum and Norman Powell one year since Kawhi Leonard’s leg injuries. Los Angeles has one of the best coaches in the league with Tyronn Lue and get both Leonard and Paul George back fully healthy. Barring a plague of injuries, the Clippers will be hard to beat.

Denver Nuggets

The Warriors exhausted the star players on each team they eliminated to win a title. One of the stars, Nikola Jokic (middle), has a better roster this year to counter championship level threats.

Jamal Murray finally returns this season and will play his first game since tearing his ACL in what was Steph Curry’s highlight performance surpassing Wilt Chamberlain as the Warriors’ all time top scorer. Nikola Jokic is in the peak of his career and the offseason signings of Ish Smith and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope finally give Denver the upgrade in shooting and point guard depth.

Golden State Warriors

The reigning NBA champions extended Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole before their season opener versus the Lakers. That means Draymond Green could be moved before the season ends after punching Poole’s face in practice. Even if Green is traded before the All-Star game, there’s no doubt the Warriors can return to the playoffs. Unless there are a multitude of season ending injuries to Golden State’s core players, pencil the champions in for a high playoff seed.

Phoenix Suns

While Phoenix fizzled against Dallas, New Orleans didn’t go quietly against a favored Suns team. Hopefully both teams stay healthy and make the postseason.

While not the reigning champion Warriors, the Suns need to find a suitable trade partner for disgruntled star forward Jae Crowder.

If Crowder is traded, Phoenix still has one of the best guard duos in the NBA. Monty Williams is still a top ten coach in the league and the added depth at forward and center solidifies the Suns as favorites to enter the playoffs.

New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans should have an even better season than last year barring any major injuries to their starting lineup. CJ McCollum will be the starting pointguard when the season starts. Jonas Valanciunas, Brandon Ingram and Jose Alvarado will give opponents fits on one-on-one matchups.

Last but not least, franchise star Zion Williamson should play minimum half the scheduled games this year. He’s already slimmed down and looks to be in the best shape of his life. New Orleans could be scary good early and often.

Los Angeles Lakers

Both LeBron James and Anthony Davis need to stay healthy for the Los Angeles Lakers to reach the postseason.

This pick and the next will be unpopular because of how low they’re ranked. However let’s be honest on what is now the category of play-in: the six teams mentioned above have better depth, quality coaching and younger franchise stars. I’m not saying Los Angeles is a bad team, but the age and current roster can’t beat out their inner city rivals the Clippers on a nightly basis.

The Lakers still have quality starters in LeBron James and Anthony Davis (when healthy). However the guard positions will be filled with drama since both point guards are Patrick Beverley and Russell Westbrook, and the shooting guards are Kendrick Nunn and Dennis Schroder.

This is also a dark-horse pick. Either the Lakers are good enough to make the playoffs or become a franchise crippling dumpster fire. They have the talent to at least surpass teams such as San Antonio, but the coaching and locker room chemistry need to be at least average to propel the team forward.

Before I talk about the last pick, I wanted to ask the reader if they’ve ever watched a movie inspired by real events and wonder where the people are now? Or about how much of what was shown really happened? Before the Script is your podcast that has the answers. Check them out wherever you get your podcast fix. New episodes drop on Sunday night, so take a listen to Jazzy’s educational and fun podcasts. You won’t be disappointed by the last two Halloween themed ones on Spotify.

On to the final pick.

Dallas Mavericks

Luka Doncic (middle) might have led Dallas to the Finals if the Golden State Warriors didn’t have a veteran core and one of the winningest coaches in all of American sports.

The Mavericks might have added better talent around star pointguard Luka Doncic but that has to be consistent throughout the season. Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith take some pressure off, but an aging JaVale McGee at center and Tim Hardaway Jr. at shooting guard can only do so much.

Still, Dallas has a premier player that pushes them past teams such as Portland and Minnesota who need to rely on everything available just to stay relevant in the standings.

Play-in losing teams: Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs

2021-22’s Western conference prediction record: 6-4

2022-23 NBA Eastern Conference Playoff Picks

Despite last season’s finals loss, the east gained more talent. The conference finally looks superior in terms of quality teams. Cleveland is close to being a dangerous playoff unit. Chicago and Philadelphia desperately want a championship. Brooklyn, Milwaukee and Miami view anything less than a finals appearance a failure. It’ll be a fun and competitive regular season.

Have you ever watched a movie inspired by real events and wonder where the people are now? Or about how much of what was shown really happened? Before the Script is your podcast that has the answers. Check them out wherever you get your podcast fix. New episodes drop on Sunday night, so take a listen to Jazzy’s educational and fun podcasts. You won’t be disappointed by the last two Halloween themed ones on Spotify.

Now it’s time to break down which eight teams in the eastern conference have the best chance of getting to the playoffs.

Milwaukee Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris should lead their teams to the top three spots in the eastern conference.

Anchored by Giannis, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, there’s no way Milwaukee misses the playoffs unless all three players have season ending injuries.

Philadelphia 76ers

Stars Joel Embiid, James Harden and Tobias Harris will be a fun trio to watch. The signing of P.J. Tucker in the offseason should elevate Philadelphia to the top three in the eastern standings if all remain healthy.

Miami Heat

Jimmy Butler v. Jayson Tatum was a fun seven game conference finals last year. Both Miami and Boston can make another deep postseason run.

The Southeast is still the weakest division in the Association but Miami’s a top team in championship contention. While Tucker signed with the 76ers, Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo draw a lot of attention. Last but not least the Heat still have one of the best coaches in Erik Spoelstra.

Boston Celtics

No one expected coach Ime Udoka to be out the whole season due to sexual relations with staff (not players thankfully). Boston will have a hard time re-grouping after a Finals loss and an interim running the team. However the Celtics have a deep roster and started off the season with a win at home to the 76ers. As long as forward Jayson Tatum starts every night, the Celtics are a serious contender.

Chicago Bulls

Demar DeRozan and Kevin Durant were standout players in the east last year. Both should elevate their teams to middle seedings.

No Lonzo Ball for what might be the whole regular season will sting and drops the Bulls to middle playoff seeding. They do have point-guard depth with Alex Caruso coming back and Goran Dragic if the first few months get bumpy. Andre Drummond is a solid backup center who can give Nikola Vucevic some rest. Coach Billy Donovan has to get more out of his role players and his new starting point-guard Ayo Dosunmu.

Brooklyn Nets

Like last year, I’m hesitant on where to put the Nets for playoff seeding. The sixth spot is generous not because of last season but because Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons should know how to play well with their teammates by December.

There’s also speculation coach Steve Nash could be fired early if the team doesn’t start well. Drama aside, Brooklyn has a talented roster that shouldn’t miss the postseason. Therefore, a middle ranking is fine until the All-Star break.

Atlanta Hawks

Dejounte Murray’s move to the Hawks puts the other 14 eastern teams on notice. Atlanta now has one of the top guard duos in the NBA.

The guard duo of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray will captivate audiences this fall and winter. Clint Capela returning to the starting lineup helps solidify the defense and Bogdan Bogdanovic is a needed role player.

Coach Nate McMillan needs to get this team on a faster start than last season. Atlanta’s capable of getting a sixth seed or better but they need to show it or else people will start to wonder if more change is necessary.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Fear the…land? Center Jarrett Allen (31) and point guard Darius Garland (10) will give opposing teams headaches as they hope to build off of last season’s success.

Like Atlanta, the Cavaliers need one of the six teams above to falter while playing good basketball to not be in the play-in round. Unlike the Hawks, Cleveland is a younger team that needs more playoff experience and time to grow. The addition of Donovan Mitchell makes the starting lineup stressful to face. Even if the Cavaliers are the last team to clinch a playoff berth, the east’s number one seeded team will have a tough time winning four games against them.

Play-in losing teams: Toronto Raptors, Charlotte Hornets

2021-22 Eastern conference prediction record: 8-2

NFL Week Six Winners and Losers

Week six was full of eye-opening play and revealed who is closer to being playoff-bound. On the opposite end, some teams are close to preparing for the offseason. Time to break down who or what won or lost the week.

Winners: Marcus Mariota

The former second overall pick in 2015 has a roller coaster career. His former offensive coordinator in Tennessee is the Falcons’ head coach, and Atlanta took a risk naming him starting quarterback after trading franchise icon Matt Ryan. Marcus Mariota is having a good season, but Sunday’s game against San Francisco should make other teams pay attention.

Mariota threw two touchdowns and 129 yards in a lopsided win versus the league’s best defense. He completed all but one pass for a 144.6 quarterback rating and also ran eight times for 50 yards (over 8 yards a carry). While the Falcons offense didn’t need much (due to the 49ers sputtering on offense and losing more players to injuries on defense), it did step up and exceed expectations.

This is the best season he’s played since last starting with the Titans during 2018 and even then he played eight of 16 games. Mariota hasn’t been sacked as much and he’s finding open receivers on better reads. While new head coach Arthur Smith is a factor, the roller coaster effect he brought every weekend is gone. He’s lead Atlanta to a first place tie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Unless something drastic happens, the Falcons could stay in the playoff race thanks to their new starting quarterback.

Frank Reich and the Indianapolis Colts

Everyone who watched that atrocious Thursday night football game on October sixth might have forgotten Indianapolis won a critical second game in their season. The week and a half off worked when the Colts outperformed a division rival that’s embarrassed them two of their last three games.

The Jaguars haven’t looked the same since their five turnover game in Philadelphia, but they ran the ball well against Indianapolis’ defense the first three quarters. Things changed when the Matt Ryan-led offense took advantage of coverage breakdowns. Ryan had his best game of the season throwing for almost 400 yards, three touchdowns and posting a 107.6 quarterback rating. His 32 yard scoring pass to Alec Pierce gave Indianapolis their second lead of the game, and the two point conversion after put more pressure on Jacksonville’s offense to score with 23 seconds left. That wasn’t going to happen against a better adjusted defense.

Head coach Frank Reich is muddling through most of 2022 with an underperforming roster that needs overhauling once the season ends. The pressure to beat a Tennessee Titans team that was on a bye last week will build, but there’s no denying the Colts needed a winning streak to stay in the middle of the AFC playoff race. Reich is showing there’s still time for everyone to find their rhythm.

Tariq Woolen

Seattle has one of the worst defenses in terms of total points and yards allowed this season. A big part is on the defensive line and linebacker core that plays up front. Most of the secondary has shown promise, especially rookie cornerback Tariq Woolen.

Woolen is a rookie drafted in this year’s fifth round. On Sunday, Woolen recovered a Kyler Murray fumble and later intercepted Murray to help Seattle pull off their third win of the season. He’s the first starting cornerback in Seattle to have an interception in four straight games since 2011.

There are comparisons of Woolen to former cornerback Richard Sherman, and they are valid. During Sunday’s home win against the Arizona Cardinals, FOX showed a graphic that compared their Seahawks profiles. Both were drafted in the fifth round, but the separation is one pick (Sherman at 154, Woolen at 153). Most importantly, Woolen and Sherman played wide receiver at one point in college. It explains why the duo worked together in the offseason on form, reading quarterbacks and shutting down star receivers.

Tariq Woolen is one of three rookie cornerbacks to hold a quarterback to a 40 rating or below when there’s a receiver targeted in his direction this season. He’ll be fun to watch as Seattle fights for a playoff spot.

The NFL’s week six scheduling

Commissioner Roger Goodell knew what fans wanted to see before the regular season started and slotted week six’s games perfectly.

The early afternoon games were entertaining but there was nothing that grabbed headlines or stood out. Yes, Joe Burrow’s return to Louisiana, the Ravens versus Giants and a divisional game in the AFC South were fun, but the most anticipated games were in the late afternoon and nighttime.

Buffalo versus Kansas City was a close game and lived up to expectations in what could determine playoff seeding via tiebreakers. Sunday night’s divisional game between Dallas and Philadelphia had a captivating second half before the Eagles pulled away late to stay undefeated and assure audiences Dak Prescott really is the Cowboys’ starting quarterback when he returns.

There’s a lot of complaining about the NFL not flexing games earlier than expected because of disappointments (like next Sunday night’s featured game), but this time everything went right.

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Losers: Green Bay Packers

When star receiver Davante Adams signed a massive deal with the Las Vegas Raiders, a lot of people asked who would quarterback Aaron Rodgers throw to for 17 games. We’re still trying to figure that out after week six.

Rodgers’ top target through six games is Allen Lazard. He’s not a bad receiver but he isn’t a starting number one on another roster. Robert Tonyan is a good number one tightend. After those two, it’s anyone’s guess.

Both Marcedes Lewis and Randall Cobb look their age and can’t stretch a field. More alarming is Rodgers overthrowing his receivers regularly, the latest example being runningback Aaron Jones on what would’ve been a touchdown drive Sunday.

A big part of this is on Packers management for neither drafting nor signing an elite receiver who can make big plays and expose disguised coverages. A lot of teams last offseason signed or traded for big name pass catchers. There were also two recent drafts where quality receivers wanted to join Aaron Rodgers and be a focal point in coach Matt LaFleur’s offense. Green Bay declined them all.

It doesn’t help they extended a 38 year old quarterback who’s offseason workouts consist of psychedelics. This team might be uncomfortable to watch the rest of the season if there’s no move for a receiver at the trade deadline.

Amazon’s Thursday Night Football package

Online shopping site Amazon has been trying to get into the NFL since creator Jeff Bezos said he wanted to buy a team. The digital empire outbid t.v. network FOX to carry Thursday night games. Since entering they’ve spent a lot of money on games, broadcasting crews, streaming and a pre and postgame analysis roster.

Surprisingly, everything Amazon’s done has been money well spent…unless we’re talking about the games they’re stuck with every Thursday night.

The last two games featured two Pro-Bowl quarterbacks who threw four combined interceptions and no touchdowns in five quarters, then two teams who have no idea how a professional offense works in the 21st century. The next two weeks aren’t hopeful either.

The upcoming Thursday night game features a below average New Orleans team and an Arizona squad that can’t protect the football and score. The Thursday after has an average Buccaneers team against a Baltimore Ravens roster that for the first time ever has held double digit leads in every game but doesn’t have a winning record.

I don’t think Amazon had this in mind when they signed an 11 year, $13 billion deal to stream games. For those keeping track, that’s over $78.8 million for each lackluster game aired. Ouch.

Cleveland Browns defense

The main topics from New England’s win in Cleveland consist of Bill Belichick tying league founder George Halas in all-time wins and excitement over third string backup Bailey Zappe, who’s undefeated after two starts. The bigger storyline is how bad the Browns defense is despite the amount of acquired talent.

Cleveland’s defense has given up less than 20 points once this season: a Thursday night win against the Mitchell Trubisky led Pittsburgh Steelers. That took a lot of effort since Pittsburgh continually pushed downfield but blundered drives. Zappe threw over 300 yards and two touchdowns against a secondary consisting of Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome II and John Johnson III. Many analysts thought these players would strengthen a unit that’s struggled to defend the pass. It also didn’t help franchise star and defensive game-changer Myles Garrett left with an arm injury. That exposed Cleveland’s vulnerable interior.

The Browns have to play Baltimore and Cincinnati before their bye week and it’s already bleak at 2-4. While much of the talk will be on quarterback play later in the season, it might not matter if the defense keeps giving up 30 or more points a game.

Steve Keim

A team usually fires a general manager when they’ve done illegal drugs such as cocaine instead of their job. The alternative what if said general manager stays instead of losing his job is playing out in Arizona right now.

I’ve pulled no punches when it comes to how bad the Cardinals are this season but what’s worse is how the team has to stick with the roster moves and contract extensions of players and coaches after this year. Coach Kliff Kingsbury has four years left on his deal after the flame-out 2021-2022 season. Offensive captain and starting quarterback Kyler Murray also has four years left on a contract that guarantees $160 million.

Both Murray and Kingsbury cannot adapt and haven’t worried about some aspects of the game nor security because the general manager has assured them everything is fine. When an offense scores three points against the league’s worst defense, changes need to be made. Arizona can’t do much because the people signed and hired are locked in for at least two more years.