In Week Four of Around the Dorm, Correspondent Josh Steele is “The Ref.” The players, Sports Assistant Brandon Gould, Staff Writer Chris Rotolo and Correspondent Kevin Lee, are asked which NFL team will stay undefeated the longest, who will sneak into the wild card spot in both the AL and NL, and how long will it take Kevin Durant to get on Kobe, LeBron and Wade’s level.
1. In 2009 the Colts opened the season with 14 straight wins. Which team will stay undefeated the longest and how long can they make it last?
BG: After attending the Jets-Ravens game on Sept. 13, I would have to say the Baltimore Ravens will stay unbeaten the longest this season. The Jets offense was terrible against the Ravens and part of that is because the Jets just weren’t on their game, but the Ravens deserve a lot of credit for that. The defense is consistently strong and will only get better when Ed Reed returns. The scary part is that the offense is also going to be a strength for this team. Once Joe Flacco gets comfortable using all the weapons the Ravens have gotten for him this offseason – Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh to name a few – it’s just not going to be fair. They might slip up on the way, but I see the Ravens going 12-0 before losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who will have Ben Roethlisberger the second time around.
CR: The New Orleans Saints will remain unbeaten until at least week 15 when the Saints go to Baltimore, possibly the only team that can match up defensively with Drew Brees and company. The Saint are one of the best teams in the NFL playing in the worst division in the game. Between now and week 15 New Orleans will collect five divisional wins against the dismal Panthers, Buccaneers and Falcons, as well as non-divisional victories over the Rams, Cardinals, Browns, Seahawks and Bengals. Yes, the Saints will go to Dallas but that franchise is so blinded by all the pretty lights in the new stadium that it forgot to field a team that can beat Washington. New Orleans will also take on Pittsburgh at home, another storied franchise in shambles, that can’t cover all the Saint’s weapons, nor scored on the New Orleans’ team defense. None of these matchups scare me. My money is on the Saints.
KL: The New Orleans Saints will stay unbeaten the longest. Any game the Saints play with Drew Brees as quarterback gives the Saints a chance to compete, regardless of who they are playing. Last year, the Saints scored 31.9 points per game, which was first in the NFL. For the most part, the Saints have the same team offensively, but much improved. The improvements start with Pierre Thomas who is a breakout candidate this season and who can establish the run for the Saints. Reggie Bush is one the most dynamic and fastest players in the NFL who can receive, rush and return punts. Drew Brees has plenty of receivers to throw to since most of his targets are back this year, led by Marques Colston. Offensively, the Saints look more than great. However, the big question with the Saints is their defense as it ranked 20th last season. Week 1 showed people that the Saints have the ability to become a good team defensively, as they were able to hold a very good Vikings team to nine points. In addition, the Saints do have lockdown defensive players in Tracy Porter and Will Smith, to name a few. Looking at the Saints’ schedule, I think they can easily win their first 11 games, potentially losing in Week 12 to the Cowboys
JS: Kevin and Chris were both wise enough to pick the Saints. But Chris gets the 3 points since he has them staying unbeaten until week 15 and Kevin gets 2 points for having the Saints making it to at least week 12. Brandon gets 1 point, although the Ravens are great defensively, they will often have trouble scoring this season and will not stay unbeaten very long.
2. With less than 20 games left on the MLB schedule, who do you see either sneaking in or hanging onto that wild card spot in both the AL and NL?
BG: The American League playoff race is pretty much in the bag. The only debate is whether the Yankees or the Rays will win the AL East or the Wild Card. The National League is in a completely different situation. The NL West and the Wild Card are completely open for the taking at this point. The Braves were the feel-good story for most of the season, but it seems they’ve run out of gas. Chipper Jones is out for
the season and the fans aren’t showing up for games. The Padres have the best bullpen in baseball and Matt Latos is a stud, but they’ve hit a rough patch at the worst time of the season. With those two teams struggling, I see the Rockies sneaking in at either one of those spots. The Rockies have done this type of thing before and with Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and Ubaldo Jimenez carrying this team anything is possible.
CR: I see the Yankees taking the Wild Card and as a fan of the team it’s tough to admit this but, like many teams coming off a championship, the bombers do not seem to have the same fire, or hunger to overcome the Rays. Tampa is fighting like I’ve never seen them before. The Rays believe New York can be beaten and proved it this past week. In his last start David Price pitched with a swagger never before seen and almost willed his team to that extra inning victory. Tampa isn’t afraid of the Yankees anymore and that team will take the division. In the NL, I believe the Rockies will take the wild card. This is a team with “young-veterans” in the sense that its best players are youthful and have been in Colorado since this team has developed into a playoff contender. Jimenez, Tulowitzki, Clint Barmes, Ian Stewart and don’t forget about Todd Helton, these guys know how to win in September with playoff hopes on the line. These guys were in a world series a couple of years ago. This team has the experience and talent to take the wild card and possibly steal the division from San Francisco next weekend.
KL: In the AL, the wild card will come down to either the Yankees or the Rays with the other winning the division. The Rays will win the division because they face the Mariners, Orioles and Royals to finish off the final nine games of their season. On the other hand, the Yankees play the Red Sox twice and the Blue Jays once for their final nine games of their season. In addition, I believe the Rays are a better team regardless of schedule. The Rays have five very good starters in their rotation right now, and a sixth in Jeremy Hellickson, if a starter gets hurt or if a starter needs rest. Aside from Sabathia, the Yankees really do not have much. Burnett and Vasquez have struggled throughout most of the year, Hughes is being limited for the playoffs, Nova has pitched more than six innings once, and Pettitte is returning from injury. In the NL, the Giants will win the wild card. The Giants, like the Rays, also have a much easier final set of games than the Braves and the Rockies. Lincecum and Cain lead the Giants pitching staff, but it does not thin out from there; Zito, Sanchez and Bumgarner are more than just “rotation fillers.” Furthermore, rookie Buster Posey has sparked the Giants offense and has given the Giants a legitimate offensive threat they have not had in some time.
JS: As everyone is in agreement as to how things in the AL will play out, I’ll have to go purely by the NL. Chris gets 3 points for providing the best argument for the Rockies. Brandon gets 2 points for providing a good overview of all of the NL teams and Kevin gets 1 point because if the Giants have the easiest schedule they will win the division, not the wild card.
3. Last weekend Team USA and Kevin Durant dominated the FIBA World Championships in Turkey. Durant shattered the record for points in the tournament with 205. How much longer will it be before people include him in the same class as Kobe, LeBron and Wade?
BG: After last season I think you’d have to put Kevin Durant’s offensive ability up there with anyone else in the league – he led the NBA with 30.1 points-per-game. However, the difference between Durant and those other players is that they play good defense. Kobe Bryant is seen as the best player in the game not only because he scores a lot of points and can make a clutch shot, but also because he can limit the
points scored by the other team’s top players. Durant is young and his time will come, but his rise to superstardom and the rise of the Oklahoma City Thunder will come down to Durant’s willingness to improve the defensive part of his game
CR: I already do, but others will not because of the market he plays in. Oklahoma City is not L.A. or Miami. Although Durant may put up the same, or some cases better, numbers than the three guys mentioned, he isn’t going to get a Most Valuable Puppet commercial on ESPN. Oklahoma City is not a basketball town. Those people love their college football, but professional basketball is not their cup of tea. If it was, there wouldn’t have had to rob Seattle’s franchise. So to answer the question, Kevin Durant will be viewed as a superstar on the level of Lebron, Kobe, and D-Wade when he sells out and signs a free agent contact in New York or Chicago.
KL: In my opinion, Durant is in the same aforementioned class of Kobe, LeBron and Wade right now. Durant is just as talented as Kobe, LeBron and Wade in every facet of the game. Specifically, Durant’s offensive game, which has taken enormous strides each year. His points per game has risen each year since his rookie season, starting with 20.3 ppg, 25.3 ppg, and a league leading 30.2 ppg, last year. As mentioned before, Durant will become that “superstar” once people start paying more attention to the Thunder, which seems to be sooner rather than later.
JS: Brandon gets 3 points for acknowledging the fact that defense is just as important as offense when it comes to being a superstar. Kevin and Chris both argued the same general point but Kevin gave a much more complete answer so he gets 2 points and Chris gets 1 point. So after three questions the score is Chris 7, Brandon 6 and Kevin 5. Chris takes this week’s AtD.
Chris wins this week’s AtD, 7 – 6 – 5