Week 4 Predictions Of 2020 Six Nations

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England vs Wales

James Rowe: England. Wales really just hasn’t lived up to their potential this tournament and England is just loaded. This was easy to pick.

 

Scotland vs France

James: France. I’m all aboard with France now. They have a nice defense and their young talent is coming around.

 

Ireland vs. Italy

Postponed

Week 3 Predictions Of 2020 Six Nations

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Italy vs Scotland

James Rowe: Scotland. I mean, Scotland is clearly a better team, so this was an easy choice.

Aaron Craig: Scotland.

 

Wales vs France

James: Wales. This I think will actually be close, but I just feel like the Welsh will rebound against the French after a tough loss to the Irish.

Aaron: Wales.

 

Ireland vs England

James: Ireland. England really hasn’t played up to their billing thus far and the Irish looked strong against a very good Wales side.

Aaron: Ireland.

Week 2 Predictions Of 2020 Six Nations

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Ireland vs Wales

James Rowe: Ireland. There’s just a hunch I have about Ireland winning this match. It’s a home match which will help them a lot, but I am still not convinced that Wales is the better side. Sure they destroyed Italy, but that’s not really something to boast about.

Aaron Craig: Wales.

Scotland vs England

James: England. Yeah, I was shocked to see them lose last week too, but they are such a strong side that I have a hard time believing them not doing well in this tournament. Scotland will put up a fight, but England is the better side.

Aaron: Scotland

France vs Italy

James: France. The French stunned us all last week after beating England. Their defense was stout and it should have no problem beating Italy who was destroyed by Wales last week. If France wins this, they have a great chance at winning this tournament.

Aaron: France.

Previewing Super Bowl LIV

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Here it is, the mecca for all football fans (and casual for that matter) as the Super Bowl has arrived. We don’t have the usual teams here in this game, but these two are certainly deserving to be here. The two teams are the Kansas City Chiefs, representing the American Football Conference, and the San Francisco 49ers, representing the National Football Conference. These two are mirror opposites of one another, but that could mean this might be the most exciting game in years. This preview is not going to look at the teams, the previous Wild Card, Divisional Round, and Conference Championships previews already do that, but rather this will look at some key matchups and who the team’s x-factors are. With that in mind, let’s take a look at this game.

San Francisco run vs the Kansas City rush defense

It’s now known about how good the run is for the 49ers, especially with how good Raheem Mostert has been this postseason, but they also boast two others who can do a lot if Mostert falters a bit in Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida. The Chiefs rush defense will need to contain San Francisco as much as possible if they want to stay in this game as it has not been good this year, however, with how much they limited Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship and the Houston Texans in the Divisional Round, it seems as though they are up to the challenge.

Jimmy Garoppolo must establish the pass early against Kansas City secondary

If the run fails, San Francisco can rely on their quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to save the day. While he has been quiet this postseason, he has a lot of weapons he can use as wide receiver Deebo Samuel and tight end George Kittle are his biggest targets. That being said, Garoppolo must attack the secondary as much as possible early as the Chiefs have some pretty good players there with Tyrann Mathieu, Daniel Sorensen, Charvarius Ward, Kendall Fuller, Morris Claiborne, and Bashaud Breeland whom are all excellent in shutting down the pass. However, Garoppolo and the 49ers are all about the quick pass, something the Chiefs defense has had a hard time defending.

San Francisco’s defense must contain Patrick Mahomes as much as possible

The 49ers know what they are up against as they face one of the most exciting quarterbacks in the game, Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes has been fantastic for the Chiefs’ offense as he can find so many players open and is just absolutely dynamic. He has plenty of weapons on offense like Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Travis Kelce, Damien Williams, Mecole Hardman, and Anthony Sherman, which helps a lot, but Mahomes has been a big reason why they are so explosive on offense. San Francisco has an excellent defense, but their pass rush has a lot of great players like Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, DeForest Bruckner, Dee Ford, Solomon Thomas, and Kwon Alexander. However, their secondary must step up if the pass rush is unsuccessful and despite a career resurgence of cornerback Richard Sherman (with some help from K’Waun Williams and Jaquiski Tartt), it’s not an easy task for them. However, San Francisco’s pass defense ranked first this year.

Kansas City pass rush vs San Francisco offensive line

The Chiefs’ defense might blitz a lot in this game as there is one stat that stands out to them about Garoppolo, he has a 68.7 rating when he’s under pressure. That suggests he has a hard time handling the pressure and does not perform well in those situations. The offensive line for the 49ers must do their best to protect Garoppolo at all costs.

X-Factors

Kansas City on offense: Patrick Mahomes

Kansas City on defense: Tyrann Mathieu

San Francisco on offense: George Kittle

San Francisco on defense: Nick Bosa

Predictions

James Rowe: Chiefs. I just feel like this is going to be quite a game, one of the best ever. However, something tells me here that it’s destiny for Kansas City as they seem to want it more. While I think the 49ers are a great side and deserve to win a Super Bowl, the stars seem aligned for the Chiefs.

 

Week 1 Predictions Of 2020 Six Nations

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Wales vs Italy

James Rowe: Wales. Do I really need to explain myself? Wales=Good. Italy=Not Good

Aaron Craig: Wales

Ireland vs Scotland

James: Ireland. This match will be a close one, but I think the Irish just have more class.

Aaron: Ireland.

England vs France

James: England. England is more predictable than France, plus they have an extremely squad. This was an easy choice.

James: England.

Previewing 2020 Six Nations

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In what might be the best rugby tournament outside of the Rugby World Cup, the Six Nations is here and we here at RSTN could not be any more excited. This annual tournament could be the most exciting and competitive yet with so many talented and balanced squads. While there might be a favorite to win this tournament, it is going to be such a tight race for the crown. Let’s take a look at the contenders.

England

England is the favorite to win this tournament and for good reasons as they boast a very talented and experienced side. Head coach Eddie Jones has done a nice job with bringing the players that he has especially seeked out after bringing England from an embarrassing result in the 2018 Six Nations edition to a runner up finish in the 2019 Rugby World Cup. The team boasts such great names as Maro Itoje, Mako Vunipola, Tom Curry, Owen Farrell, and Manu Tuilagi, but this squad is absolutely stacked.

France

It’s unknown what the French are going to be like in this tournament as there were 19 uncapped players named to the squad, but one thing everyone should know is that they are going to be really good soon as lots of their players helped France win two U20 World Championships. Head coach Fabien Galthie is a no nonsense and tough coach, but he seems to have a plan that will make them successful. We don’t know what type of France will show up during this tournament as they have been a very inconsistent side for the last couple of years and this version is very inexperienced, but the French are building something that could be a force to be reckoned with. Some notable names are Antoine Dupont, Demba Bamba, Romain Ntamack, Damian Penaud, Gael Fickou, Teddy Thomas. However, keep an eye on Louis Carbonel, Mattheiu Jalibert, Arthur Vincent, and Julien Marchand.

Ireland

With a new head coach, Andy Farrell, having taken over for Joe Schmidt, Ireland are in a transition. With some question marks of whom is going to start where, especially at hooker, and the debate over whether Conor Murray should be the starting scrumhalf anymore, the Irish have put together a very strong team. The weakest part of their squad is the lineout, but they will be working on that during the tournament. With some fresh new faces like Caelan Doris, Max Deegan, and Ronan Kelleher joining the veterans like Jonathan Sexton, Murray, Devin Toner, and Keith Earls, it should be a fun squad to watch. Murray and John Cooney will battle it out for the scrumhalf position, so that will be interesting to watch. Other notable names include CJ Stander, Jacob Stockdale, Jordan Larmour, Tadhg Furlong, and Robbie Henshaw.

Italy

Italy has not been progressing that much ever since they joined the tournament in 2000, but there are some talented players on their squad. Whether or not the Italians shock the world and perform well remains to be seen, but after 20 years, they need to show progression. But with how some of their Italian clubs have done in the Pro14, Italy has been producing some very good players and there are some who are even playing in the Premiership. Players to keep an eye on are Luca Bigi, Jake Polledri, Braam Steyn, Tommaso Allan, Luca Morisi, Tommaso Benvenuti, and Matteo Minozzi.

Scotland

Scotland is a hard one to figure out as they have a lot of talented players and they looked like they were on the rise. However, there has been some struggles and questions have been brought up about whether they can compete consistently. That being said, head coach Gregor Townsend has named a very strong team. The biggest question will be who starts at flyhalf after Finn Russell was dismissed from the team. The other question is who will replace Greig Laidlaw at scrumhalf in the long-term. Either way, this will be a huge tournament for the Scottish. Players to keep an eye on are Jonny Gray, Hamish Watson, Sam Johnson, Sean Maitland, Stuart Hogg, and Blair Kinghorn.

Wales

The Welsh are the reigning Six Nations champions and Grand Slam winners, but there are questions as to whether they are out of form as they peaked early in 2019. That will be answered come this tournament, but new head coach Wayne Pivac has named an incredibly strong team who looks to match up well with England, Ireland, and Scotland. Some notable players to watch for are Alun Wyn Jones, Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Taulupe Faletau, Ross Moriarty, Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, Dan Biggar, George North, Leigh Halfpenny, Jonah Holmes, and Liam Williams. Also, some new faces to keep an eye on are Nick Tompkins and Louis Rees-Zammit.

Predictions

James Rowe: Honestly, I don’t know what to make of this tournament as it looks evenly matched. I agree that England looks to be the favorite to win this, but Ireland, Wales, and Scotland have something to prove. That’s why I think this table is going to be hard to predict. One loss to one of these nations will make a huge difference. There might be some upsets and I think there will be a lot of gasps. This has the makings to be a very fun tournament that could be decided on the last day and I believe all four I mentioned will have a chance to win it on that last day.

  1. England
  2. Ireland
  3. Wales
  4. Scotland
  5. France
  6. Italy

Shamrock Thoughts: James’ 2020 Baseball Hall Of Fame Ballot

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It’s that time of the year again as the debate about whom should be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Outside of the season, this is a very exciting time to be a baseball fan. Now, I am not a voter, but if I was ever given the chance, this is how my ballot would look. Here was my ballot from last year and this column that I wrote two years ago explaining the process of how it works. Here is my ballot for 2020.

Roger Clemens

Clemens might be one of the best pitchers during his time, if not the best of all time. While the second part of that last sentence is debatable, there is no doubt that he was a great player. The accusations of doing performance enhancing drugs have hurt his chances, but there is no denying how great he is.

Barry Bonds

The all-time home run king has also been accused for doing PEDs, but Bonds is one of the greatest hitters I ever saw. Some of his numbers were like as if he was playing in a video game as they were ridiculously good. Watching him hit the ball was just amazing as what he did was absolute mastery. There is conversation as to whether he is the greatest hitter ever, but in the last 20 years he most certainly was.

Larry Walker

Walker was always seen as a great player by many, but when digging a little deeper his numbers suggest that he is most definitely worthy of making the Hall of Fame. Problem with his candidacy was playing for the Colorado Rockies as playing in that climate tends to help hitters a lot as the air tends to inflate numbers. That being said, Walker was a fantastic athlete as his all-round game was great. He was a fun player to watch.

Omar Vizquel

Vizquel is arguably the greatest shortstop to ever play, but he certainly was the best I ever saw. Vizquel shouldn’t get in based on his defense, but he was certainly valuable to the Cleveland Indians during the 1990s and his numbers show that. Sure, he played well into his 40s, but he was a great player during his tenure in Cleveland.

Jeff Kent

Kent is arguably the best second baseman of all-time, but Kent was such a good player that he was an MVP candidate every year he played. During his time in San Francisco, he and Bonds formed one of the best 3-4 combos in the game as they each complimented one another. His advanced numbers suggest he should be in the Hall of Fame, but honestly, even without looking at his advanced numbers, people wouldn’t even blink an eye at his candidacy.

Billy Wagner

How Wagner is not in the Hall of Fame is beyond my comprehension as he was one of the best closers the game has ever seen. The fact that a reliever would even be in the running for the Cy Young or even MVP voting speaks volume about Wagner. His numbers were eye popping and even when he got older, they were still incredible.

Todd Helton

Helton has a similar problem as Walker for his candidacy having played in Colorado, but he was always one of the best first basemen in the game especially with his glove. His numbers took a dip when he got into his 30s, but he was always a valuable player to the Rockies. While he may not make it in this round, he certainly should make it at some point.

Paul Konerko

Some will find this controversial and call me biased because of my fandom for the Chicago White Sox, but Konerko really should be considered for the Hall of Fame as his numbers were so good. If it wasn’t for injuries towards the end of his career, he most likely would’ve hit 500 home runs. He was so valuable to the White Sox during his tenure there that when he got hot, he could carry a team. Konerko never got the type of recognition that he deserved because of playing for the White Sox, but Pale Hose fans knew what he was about and would try to push hard for him to get in the Hall of Fame. That being said, he might get in through the Veterans Committee vote.

Andy Pettitte

Pettitte was one of the most dominant southpaws in the game during his time with the New York Yankees, but he was just masterful to watch. Oh, and he might as well have had the best pickoff move ever as he was so deceptive. Pettitte was a big reason why the Yankees won five world series championships during his career.

Derek Jeter

Now, there are some baseball fans who will be mad at me for making this vote as some feel like he should not be unanimous despite being a first ballot hall of famer. That being said, I can’t not vote for him as he was such a good player. He was instrumental in making the Yankees as good as they were during his career, but he was one of the best shortstops to play the game. He was also a great leader on the field. He is a first-ballot hall of famer in my book as he was one of the best I ever saw and voting against him is absurd. Oh yeah, he also has over 3,000 hits.

Notable Omissions

Gary Sheffield

Sheffield was a potent hitter with 500 home runs in his career. The accusations of PEDs hurts his case.

Sammy Sosa

Similar to Sheffield with the accusations, but he hit 600 home runs instead. That’s a lot of home runs.

Manny Ramirez

Ramirez was one of the best right handed hitters I ever saw as he hit over 500 home runs. However, he was actually caught for taking PEDs. That will always hurt him.

Curt Schilling

Despite his politics and his personality, Schilling makes a great case for being a hall of famer. I just think there were more deserving players than him this time around.

Previewing 2019 NFL Playoffs: Conference Championship Round

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Here it is football fans, the Conference Championships. The round before the mecca, the Super Bowl. With what should be a very exciting two games, it will also feel a little different as some of the big name teams were eliminated and a new champion will soon be crowned. Let’s take a look at each of the matchups.

American Football Conference Championship

Kansas City Chiefs vs Tennessee Titans

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs were down 24-0 at one point in their game against the Houston Texans last week in the divisional round. Well, to give an example of how great their offense is, they went 51-7 the rest of the way in the game to advance to the Championship round. The Chiefs were here last season and lost out on a disappointing chance to go to the Super Bowl as they lost to the New England Patriots, but now they have a great chance of advancing. One of the most important parts of this game will have to be how they handle the run on defense as Tennessee’s running back Derrick Henry is a monster. If Kansas City can effectively shut him down, it should be smooth sailing from there.

Tennessee Titans

Can the Titans now be crowned as the upset kings? Tennessee shocked the football world as they beat the Baltimore Ravens in convincing fashion after upsetting New England the week before. The Titans absolutely shut down a potent Baltimore offense and Derrick Henry carried the team on his back as he absolutely obliterated the Ravens defense. One of the the most important parts of this game that Tennessee needs to shut down is in their secondary as Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes has a ton of options and is deadly with his arm. Stopping the pass at all cost will help the Titans.

Predictions

James Rowe: Kansas City. I think this game is also ripe for another upset by the Titans, but I think the Chiefs are so good that they will win a close one.

National Football Conference

Green Bay Packers vs San Francisco 49ers

Green Bay Packers

The Packers made it to the next round on a very controversial call, but nonetheless here they are after defeating the Seattle Seahawks in the Divisional Round. Green Bay will now have to face a very strong defense in San Francisco, so they will have to establish the run game early and find some holes in the secondary when passing the ball. Their pass rush will also have to be at the top of it’s game if the Packers want to win this one.

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers have waited a long time since their last appearance in the NFC Championship, after defeating the Minnesota Vikings in the Divisional Round, but this time they have a very strong team that could actually win the a title. San Francisco’s defense will be the key here as Green Bay’s quarterback Aaron Rodgers is still one of the best despite a down season. And the 49ers can’t rely just on tight end George Kittle in the passing game, they need to spread out the wealth to tire the Packers secondary.

Predictions

James: San Francisco. I actually don’t think this will be close as I believe the 49ers to be the far superior side.

Previewing 2019 College Football Playoffs: National Championship

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This is it, the final college football game of the season. It could not be any more exciting as two teams whose mascot is a tiger will be squaring off in the National Championship game. LSU will face off against Clemson in what could be one of the best college football games ever. With that being said, let’s take a look at this matchup.

LSU

The Tigers are led by quarterback Joe Burrows who absolutely went off on Oklahoma a couple of weeks ago. That being said, LSU has a lot of weapons on offense, but what really makes them so good is that they have an excellent defense. The best part of LSU’s defense though is their secondary. Going up against Clemson’s offense won’t be easy, but the secondary will be key here.

Clemson

The Tigers are back in the National Championship once again after defeating Ohio State and look to defend their crown. This Clemson team has an excellent offense with players like Tee Higgins and Travis Etienne, and they will be hard to stop for LSU’s defense. Clemson’s defense is also excellent, but with LSU’s high powered offense their secondary will be on their heels. Their secondary is ranked number one in the country for pass efficiency, so we will see how they hold down Burrows.

Predictions

James Rowe: LSU. LSU seems like the perfect blend of high powered offense and great defense. Just watching them do what they did to Oklahoma was masterful, and that’s why I think Clemson just doesn’t have enough to win. That being said, I see this as being as one of the best college football games of all time.

Previewing 2019 NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round

NFL: AFC Divisional Playoff-Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots

After an exciting Wild Card weekend where there were two upsets and two overtime games, it goes to show why the National Football League playoffs are exciting to watch. Now we enter the Divisional Round where some of the big teams who earned Byes will start their postseason runs. Let’s take a look at some of the matchups.

American Football Conference

Tennessee Titans vs Baltimore Ravens

Tennessee Titans

The Titans pulled off the upset over the defending champion New England Patriots last week in an epic 20-13 victory Wild Card Round game. They will need to continue with their running game, but their defense will have to tighten up this week as they will face a very dangerous Baltimore offense. They won’t need to blitz too much this game as the Ravens run a lot, but the secondary, the weakest point of their squad, will have to be on their heels with their receivers even though the passing game for Baltimore ranked 27th this year.

Players to watch out for: (read this article for both the offense and defense)

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens offense is very similar to Tennessee’s, but a bit more productive and a very different type of quarterback. The offense is led by quarterback Lamar Jackson who has been an X-factor for their success all year. Jackson uses his legs a lot, similar to what the Atlanta Falcons did with Michael Vick, but he can beat a team through the air when needed. He is also an MVP candidate. Baltimore’s defense is absolutely fantastic, especially against the pass, but their pass rush is exceptional as they blitz, a lot. The biggest problem they face against the Titans is Derrick Henry’s running game, but the Ravens should be able to find a way to mitigate his damage.

Players to watch out for on offense: quarterback Lamar Jackson, running back Mark Ingram

Players to watch out for on defense: linebacker Matthew Judon, safety Chuck Clark

Predictions

James Rowe: Baltimore. I like what the Titans have done, but man, Baltimore is really good. It’s too hard to go against them.

 

Houston Texans vs Kansas City Chiefs

Houston Texans

The Texans managed to get an overtime win over the Buffalo Bills after finally getting their offense to start scoring against a very good Bills defense. Houston’s offense will be the key in this game especially if quarterback Deshaun Watson continues to play at a high level. Problem is that their defense has not been all that great this season and they will have to face a juggernaut Kansas City offense. The Texans defense will need to come up with some answers if they really want to beat the Chiefs.

Players to watch out for: (read this article for both offense and defense)

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs are looking to avenge a loss to the Texans earlier this season, but with having a Bye, Kansas City looks poised to be fresh and ready to go for this matchup. The Chiefs’ offense is incredible as they are led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but they use a lot of fast weapons like wide receiver Tyreek Hill to put points on the board. Their defense on the other hand is still not great despite it being significantly better than in 2018. Kansas City’s defense will have to expect Houston to run the ball a lot and be well aware of it as the numbers showed that they ranked 28th in the league in stopping the run. That being said, their passing defense is exceptional as they ranked 8th, so the Texans might not be able to do anything on offense if the Chiefs’ rush defense holds them.

Players to watch out for on offense: quarterback Patrick Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelce

Players to watch out for on defense: linebacker Reggie Ragland, safety Tyrann Mathieu

Predictions

James: Kansas City. The Chiefs are just a very explosive team and honestly look hungry to avenge their loss in the AFC Championship last year.

 

National Football Conference

Minnesota Vikings vs San Francisco 49ers

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings pulled off an upset in overtime over the New Orleans Saints as quarterback Kirk Cousins showed that he can actually win in prime time against a playoff caliber side. Now with that narrative pushed to the side, they have to face off against the best team in the NFC. The defense here will be key as their secondary, a weak point, stepped up against a very good passing attack from the Saints. While San Francisco doesn’t quite have that same fire power, it’s still pretty good.

Players to watch out for: (read this article for both offense and defense)

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers have had an awesome season in 2019, no doubt about it. A big key for them in this game is their pass defense which has been exceptional and while Cousins doesn’t throw for many yards, locking down receivers will help a lot. However, their rush defense has struggled a bit this campaign so expect the Vikings to use running back Dalvin Cook a lot. On offense, they are led by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo who has plenty of weapons to share the wealth with. What will be key is their running game against Minnesota’s defensive line.

Players to watch out for on offense: quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, tight end George Kittle

Players to watch out for on defense: linebacker Kwon Alexander, defensive tackle DeForest Bruckner

Predictions

James: San Francisco. This game should be close, but the 49ers have been a very good team all year, plus they played in a much more difficult division which should help them.

 

Seattle Seahawks vs Green Bay Packers

Seattle Seahawks

With as beat up as they were, Seattle handled Philadelphia pretty well. Now they enter a frozen tundra in Green Bay where it will be another hostile environment. They will need quarterback Russell Wilson to continue what he does best, but also establish the running game early on as Green Bay’s biggest weakness on defense is stopping the run. The Seahawks will also have to get their passing game going early on too because the Packers’ secondary has been fantastic in 2019.

Players to watch out for: (read this article for both offense and defense)

Green Bay Packers

A first round Bye always helps, but with it coming at home like Lambeau Field, Green Bay will feed off the crowd. Their pass rush is one of the best in the game, so expect them to do that a lot and the Packers will try to hold Wilson at bay as Seattle’s offensive line has struggled to protect their quarterback all year long. The Seahawks’ ability to stop the run has been frustrating and Green Bay will look to exploit that weakness. The offense is led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers who is one of the best passers in the game, but Seattle’s secondary has been one of the best in the game and Rodgers will need to find a way to get around that.

Players to watch out for on offense: running back Aaron Jones, wide receiver Davante Adams

Players to watch out for on defense: linebackers Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith

Predictions

James: Seattle. While there is a lot to like about Green Bay, Russell Wilson is just a game changer and knows how to win. Yes, so does Aaron Rodgers, but something seems off about him this year and Wilson has more skills in his pocket to make the offense go.