July 23, 2019
The 2019 NFL season can’t begin soon enough. Steelers fans everywhere are laying in wait to see if our team can prove all the critics wrong and head back to the post season let alone finish ahead of these highly rated Cleveland Browns.
The Browns hype machine has grown in such proportions that everyone that is believing in it is jumping on the gravy train coming out of Cleveland. I’m not a believer. Not even close. I don’t care what new talent they have added, this team is not ready to make a big jump where they will be a serious threat to make the Super Bowl or the playoffs.
When the season ends in January, I might look back and feel pretty stupid if they prove me wrong and win the AFC North Division and get to the playoffs but until they accomplish that I’m not climbing aboard the bandwagon. With that said, here are few of the professional “believers.”
Jason La Canfora, May 17, 2019
Cleveland. I'm buying the Browns. Big time. All this talk about juggling personalities and keeping all the receivers fed and happy is a debate for another day. Right now Freddie Kitchens is in a honeymoon phase and I expect this team to be young and hungry and out to make some noise. Love some of the additions to the staff – head-coach-to-be Todd Monken in particular – and the Browns are finally ascending at the right time, with the rest of this division in turmoil or rebuilding or just hiring a baby-faced head coach themselves. Who knows if they will be able to sustain things there, and that ownership group will always give you pause, but I will ride this team in 2019.
Pat McManamon, ESPN, April 17
Predicted record: 11-5. The NFL gave the Browns a December made for a playoff run. They close versus Cincinnati, at Arizona, versus Baltimore and at Cincinnati. Read the analysis from.
Jeremy Fowler, ESPN, April 17
Predicted record: 9-7. The NFL gave the Steelers quite the midseason break with a Week 7 bye, followed by three consecutive home games, against the Dolphins, Colts and Rams. The Steelers will go 32 days between road games with that setup. Read the analysis from.
Dan Parzych, NFL Spin Zone, two months ago
Cleveland Browns: 11-5
Pittsburgh Steelers: 9-7
Oddsshark.com, July 14, 2019
Cleveland is the +125 front-runner at Bovada to capture the division for the first time since the team returned to Ohio in 1999. The Pittsburgh Steelers (+195), Baltimore Ravens (+275) and Cincinnati Bengals (+1600) round things out at the shop.
So while the Steelers aren’t expected to win back the division by many, when it comes to fantasy football, the expectations for performance from the men in Black and Gold is not that great either. From theScore.com I give you some of their player rankings by position and the ranking in parentheses.
2019 Players Rankings Updated
Justin Boone, theScore.com
Get ready for your season with theScore's 2019 Fantasy Football Draft Kit and subscribe to push notifications in the NFL Fantasy News section.
(1) Patrick Mahomes
(2) Deshaun Watson
(3) Aaron Rodgers
(4) Andrew Luck
(5) Baker Mayfield
(6) Carson Wentz
(7) Cam Newton
(8) Matt Ryan
(9) Jameis Winston
(10) Kyler Murray
(11) Russell Wilson
(12) Jared Goff
(13) Drew Brees
(14) Dak Prescott
(15) Mitch Trubisky
(16) Ben Roethlisberger
(1) Saquon Barkley
(2) Christian McCaffrey
(3) Ezekiel Elliott
(4) Alvin Kamara
(5) David Johnson
(6) Nick Chubb
(7) Joe Mixon
(8) Melvin Gordon
(9) Dalvin Cook
(10) Damien Williams
(11) Le'Veon Bell
(12) James Conner
(1) Chicago Bears
(2) Los Angeles Chargers
(3) Los Angeles Rams
(4) Minnesota Vikings
(5) Jacksonville Jaguars
(6) Baltimore Ravens
(7) Cleveland Browns
(8) New Orleans Saints
(9) Denver Broncos
(10) Dallas Cowboys
(11) Buffalo Bills
(12) Houston Texans
(13) New England Patriots
(14) Philadelphia Eagles
(15) Indianapolis Colts
(16) Tennessee Titans
(17) Kansas City Chiefs
(18) Seattle Seahawks
(19) Green Bay Packers
(20) Pittsburgh Steelers
(19) Chris Boswell
(20) Brandon McManus
Ok…with Big Ben’s ranking, I mean REALLY? 16th? After the year he had in 2018? Get real. Carson Wentz, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Jameis Winston, Kyler Murray (he hasn’t even played a down in the NFL yet!), Jared Goff, Matt Trubisky, Dak Prescott, all ranked above Roethlisberger? Stats or not, I would not take any of them over our QB on ANY day. And take a look at where they have Drew Brees!
As for the running backs, it is interesting that Bell and Conner are back-to-back but Conner comes after Bell. It will be fun to watch the stats on these two as each game goes by this season. Then we have the defenses. Do you really think Pittsburgh’s ‘D deserves a number 20 ranking? There’s Cleveland again…#7 defense, #5 quarterback, #6 running back…you get the idea. As for the kicker ranking, Boswell deserves that spot and he is on the borderline of losing his job this summer.
The UFC has another big card this Saturday with UFC 240 and the card looks like this:
Challenging Cyborg in the co-main event is a relatively unknown named Felicia Spencer. The former Invicta FC champion thinks she has a chance to win, but my prediction is she will be finished, knocked out in a violent way in the first round. I’ve been watching film on her and listening to her as well as checking out her training and she appears slow and with the Cris Cyborg coming off the devastating loss to Amanda Nunes, she is going to want to win and win big. That spells disaster for Spencer. She is facing a beast in Cyborg and everyone knows that the former champion can beat you silly with strikes. This could be ugly.
Spencer however is confident:
“I’m guessing that the UFC's assuming I won’t win. So I’m going to just spoil the party and ruin whatever plans they are making with Cyborg. I can absolutely see a finish happening. Honestly, I don’t pigeonhole my head into thinking I’m going to finish in one specific way. I’m going to let the fight happen and take it where I need to take it. Chances are almost every fight I'm in always ends up on the ground. It’s a place I’m very comfortable and most people have seen my success there. But what people haven’t seen of my stand-up game hopefully will shine bright on Saturday as well.”
Finish? Yikes. Stand up? She would be making a fatal mistake to take that path. My predictions on the major fights come later this week.
So as I reported yesterday, Jon Jones is in the news again in a negative way. Another UFC fighter, Corey Anderson Tweeted his opinion of Jones
“So last week it was his past like he was a changed man. This morning we see he's still the same ol 'Can't get right'...from pregnant woman to strippers. @JonnyBones deserves a Grammy for his acting skills, cuz he selling the media that changed man roll like Denzel.”
The Pittsburgh Pirates are becoming more of a mess on a daily basis. Another game last night and another loss and this one a blown loss as well. Tied 2-2 heading into extra innings, the Bucs gave up a grand slam in the 10th and then tried valiantly to come back in the bottom of the inning with three runs of their own but fell short and lost again 6-5 this time around.
Paul Goldschmidt’s grand slammer put the pressure on Pittsburgh when they came up for a final shot and as the tying run was heading for home plate, the Pirates runner was thrown out handing Pittsburgh another loss. Part of the problem this second half of the season is that Josh Bell has cooled way off.
Bell’s average is now down to .289 and he’s stuck at 27 home runs, now way behind the league leader, Christian Yelich who has hit 35. Bell still does lead in RBI’s with 86 but Eduardo Escobar is closing in with 79, Freddie Freeman has 78, and Cody Bellinger 77. Bell’s .611 slugging percentage ranks third behind Bellinger’s .691 and Yelich’s .718.
As a team, the Pirates are 11th in fielding, 10th in batting, and the most damaging stat, the Pirates are next-to-last in the National League in Pittsburgh sitting in the 14th spot. The team ERA is 5.52 whereas the Dodgers lead the N.L. with a mark of 3.34. While the Pirates struggle, ex-Bucco and now Houston Astros starting pitcher Gerrit Cole is thriving.
With his 200th strikeout of the season last night against the Oakland A’s, Cole became the second fastest in Major League Baseball history to reach that mark for a season. Cole did it in just 133 ½ innings. Randy Johnson holds the top record when he reached 200 in 2001 in just 130- 2/3 innings. Additionally, not since the 1996 and 1997 season has a pitcher had back-to-back 200 strikeout seasons but has now done that as well.
If you are wondering where the Pirates rank among all other teams in Major League Baseball, I give you the Power Rankings from theScore.com.
MLB Power Rankings: Red-hot A's and Giants making things interesting
22. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates' recent rough patch has likely made it easier for the front office to sell, and there could be significant movement from the team. Starling Marte, Corey Dickerson, Felipe Vazquez, Melky Cabrera, Jordan Lyles, and Francisco Liriano could all be traded, but also expect the unexpected. This is the same front office that pulled off the blockbuster Chris Archer trade last deadline.
Yesterday I wrote about the 40th anniversary of the last time the Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series in 1979 and some thoughts about the players that made up that championship team. Today, I’ll do the same but for my favorite Pirates team ever, the 1971 Pirates who like the ’79 version, won the World Series and did it as well also while playing the Baltimore Orioles.
An interesting fact about that ’71 squad is that it appeared that on September 1 of that year, when the Bucs took the field, all nine players on defense were black and as far as everyone knew, it was the first time in the history of Major League Baseball that a team had fielded nine men none of whom were white.
The nine men were Rennie Stennett; Gene Clines, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Manny Sanguillén, Dave Cash, Al Oliver, Jackie Hernández, and Dock Ellis. Now for what I remember most about the key players of that team beginning with the starting lineup.
So from that 1971 team of the players mentioned above, gone and having passed away are:
Stargell, Clemente, Pagan, Sands, Ellis, Moose, Briles, Kison, Hernandez, and Miller.
The remaining men are alive and well aged between 65 and 82.