In this week’s Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Bryan Bellanca, challenges Staff Writer Brandon Gould, Correspondent Johnny Sisto and Correspondent Kyle Knight to answer questions about who will win the NFL MVP this year, which team will come out on top when all is said and done in the MLB playoffs and the preseason favorites in the East and West for the Stanley Cup in the NHL.
1. There is no lack of talent in the NFL this year, and it has shown so far. Who do you think will win the NFL MVP and why?
BG: There is little to go off of, so it is premature to select who the NFL MVP will be. However, since the question has been asked, I would have to say Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers got hot at the end of last year, and that play has carried over into this season. The New Orleans Saints’ defense was picked apart by Rodgers, who finished the game with 312 passing yards and three touchdown passes. There wasn’t a coverage or blitz that Rodgers couldn’t handle that opening night, and I expect that performance to be foreshadowing the numbers he is poised to put up in 2011.
JS: The only wide receiver who has ever won the award for NFL MVP was Jerry Rice in 1987. The award is almost exclusively awarded to quarterbacks and running backs. This is no surprise, because these two positions are the cornerstones for almost all powerhouse offenses in the NFL. However, Andre Johnson of the Houston Texans can be the exception in the 2011 season. Andre Johnson has been considered one of the best (if not the best) wide receivers in the NFL for the past several years. With Arian Foster in the back field, defenses will be forced to protect against the run. Look for Matt Schaub to gain some confidence in the pocket and for Andre Johnson to put up Jerry Rice numbers this season.
KK: The NFL MVP will be Tom Brady. In two games so far, Brady has over 900 yards and seven touchdowns. Brady ripped apart the San Diego defense with minimal opposition. Competition within the league would be Arian Foster (who in two weeks has not performed up to expectations) and Drew Brees (who has done well), but Brady has triumphed so far. Brady was the uncontested pick as NFL MVP last season, and so far, there is limited competition.
BB: Kyle gets 3 for stating that Brady has dominated so far and shows no signs of slowing down. Brandon gets 2 for pointing out that Rodgers got hot last year and got off to a good start this year. Johnny gets 1 because although Johnson might be the best receiver in football, he’s forced to rely on his QB for stats.
2. With the baseball regular season coming to a close, who do you think will win the World Series and why?
BG: Again, this question is premature because we don’t even know who will make the playoffs at this point, but the best guess I could make right now would have to be the Philadelphia Phillies. I would love to pick my favorite team, the New York Yankees, but I just think the Phillies’ pitching is too much to handle. The Yanks definitely have the Phillies when it comes to offensive prowess, but it is defense and pitching that guides a team to a World Series title. Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano can knock in all the runs they want in the regular season, but things won’t be so easy if they have to go up against the “Four Aces.” Pitching wins championships and no one has better arms than the Phillies.
JS: There is no doubt in my mind who the favorite is to win the 2011 World Series. Good pitching beats good hitting almost every time, and if there is anything that the Philadelphia Phillies have, it’s good pitching. The Phillies’ pitching staff is a team of superstars, consisting of Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, just to name a few. This powerhouse staff has the most wins in the MLB and the lowest team ERA. Four of the Phillies’ starters and their closer have an ERA under 3.00. In
addition to their dominating pitching staff, the Phillies have a lot of postseason success in the past. Starting pitcher Roy Halladay has proven himself in the postseason by pitching a no-hitter in his first-ever postseason appearance. Also, any
member of the team that was with the Phillies in 2008 has already won a World Series. The Phillies are the team to beat this postseason.
KK: The New York Yankees will win the World Series. As a Red Sox fan, it goes against all that I stand for, but it is hard to pick against not only a good hitting team but a team with such a solidified bullpen. Most will argue for the Phillies, but they have not shown the hitting power that the Yankees have, as well as a strong bench. The Yankees’ starting pitching has come alive in September, which will carry momentum into October. The Yankees will hopefully face the Red Sox in the playoffs, which will be their toughest challenge.
BB: Johnny gets 3 for stating that the Phillies’ pitching staff is filled with post-season experience, and that proves vital in the playoffs. Kyle gets 2 for pointing out that the Yankees just might have the hitting tooutdo the Phillies. Brandon gets 1 for stating more why the Yankees wouldn’t win over why the Phillies would.
3. NHL preseason is about to start. Who do you think will represent the East and the West in the Stanley Cup this year, who wins and why?
BG: First, I’d like to say it is a breath of fresh air to hear that the season is starting after an offseason filled with so much turmoil. It’s always tough to pick favorites, especially in the beginning of a season, but I would say that the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Vancouver Canucks have the best chances to represent their conference in the battle for the Stanley Cup. The Penguins were decimated by injuries last year, which especially hurt considering that stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin missed large portions of the season. If those two are healthy and Marc-Andre Fleury is on his game, watch out. The Canucks are led by two of the best players in the game in Daniel and Hendrik Sedin, but the difference-maker is Ryan Kessler, who is a force on the ice. Factor in goaltender Roberto Luongo and you’ve got a championship mix on your hands. Overall, I think the Pens will end up hoisting the Stanley Cup.
JS: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That is the philosophy that the Boston Bruins have been following through the offseason. They’ve managed to keep all of their major contributors that led them to the Stanley Cup finals in 2011. Their goalie, Tim Thomas, is consistently mentioned as one of the best goalies in the NHL. Plus, their young talent in Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin are only going to improve this season. For the West (quack, quack, quack) I’m picking the Anaheim Ducks to make it to the Stanley Cup finals. The Ducks lost their goalie, Jonas Hiller, to injury in February of last season. If he managed to stay healthy, the Ducks could have been more of a threat in the playoffs. Now he’s healthy, and assuming Cory Perry can mimic the MVP season that he had last year, the Ducks will be a strong force in the Western Conference. However, I don’t think that the Ducks will be able to match the depth of the Boston Bruins’ roster. I predict that the Stanley Cup will be staying in Boston in 2012.
KK: The Philadelphia Flyers will represent the East and the Detroit Red Wings will represent the West. I feel that if Sidney Crosby is healthy, the Penguins will give the Flyers a run for their money, but his status is in question. Therefore, the Flyers, with their experience, will have no problems representing the East. The Red Wings, on the other hand, have been one of the most consistent teams in the last 10 years and will find their way back to the Stanley Cup final. I think in the end, the Red Wings win it.
BB: Johnny gets 3 for pointing out that Boston is returning almost everyone from last year and should have another successful season. Brandon gets 2 because the Penguins can compete but Crosby’s health is in question. Kyle gets 1 because the Flyers shook up half of their team and will have some struggles this year.
Johnny wins this week’s AtD, 7 – 6 – 5.