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NFL POWER RANKINGS THUS FAR
BY: JOSEPH WILSON
October 19, 2018
We’re now a few weeks into the NFL season, and it’s been an interesting one to say the least. From the week to week drama surrounding the Cleveland Browns, to Jon Gruden’s disappointing return, there’s been lots to discuss this season. But, I want to focus on the best of the best. I’m going to rank the top 5 teams in the league right now, based of what I’ve seen this season.
Los Angeles Rams – The Rams are the best team so far in my eyes. They’re the most balanced team in the league, as they rank in the top 10 of virtually every offensive and defensive statistic. After a rough first year, Sean Mcvay has Jared Goff living up to his first overall pick potential. With dangerous weapons on both sides of the ball, the Rams look like the team to beat this year.
Kansas City Chiefs - With Alex Smith, the Chiefs had a game manager. Someone who never made costly mistakes, but never did anything special enough to take the team to the next level. Patrick Mahomes is a different animal. He can throw from inside the pocket, outside the pocket, and on the run. He’s like Aaron Rodgers but faster, which is scary to think about. The main reason why they didn’t rank first is their defence. They’ve given up the most yards this season and are statistically are one of the worst defensive teams in the league. If they tighten up the defence, and Mahomes stays hot, there’s a good chance they could move up this list.
Jacksonville Jaguars - In a league where quarterbacks throw for 250 yards or more every game, the Jaguars only allow 191 a game, which leads the league. Blake Bortles is starting to look like a quality quarterback. The biggest roadblock in the AFC has traditionally been the Patriots, who they beat handily a few weeks ago. Their loss to the Chiefs last week will keep them in this spot for now.
New England Patriots – After a slow start, they’ve won 2 games in a row. They appear to be back on track, and they recently picked up Josh Gordon. He’s had trouble producing on the field the past few years, but the Pats have a history of turning zeros to heroes. Bill Belicheck is such a genius that he could plug a grocery store cashier into his starting receiver spot, and turn them into an elite receiver (Hey Bill, if you guys need another receiver, I’m totally down).
New Orleans Saints - I seriously considered putting the Bengals in this spot. But, every time I put my faith in them, they let me down. I just can’t bring myself to trust them again (Sorry if I sound like a bitter ex-girlfriend). The Saints have a very potent offence, and I’m liking the strides that the defence is making.
Those are my rankings so far. Do you guys agree or disagree with them?
NURMAGOMEDOV VS. MCGREGOR: ANALYSIS AND PREDICTION
BY: BRENDAN BUTRIMAS
October 4, 2018
If UFC 229 will be your first time shelling out cash for a UFC pay per view in the last few years, you are certainly not alone. UFC 229: Khabib vs McGregor is expected to sell more than 2 million pay per views, despite dismal buy rates of late for the UFC (UFC 226: Miocic vs Cormier did just 380,000 buys).
Business and hype aside, this fight is one of the most intriguing matchups from a technical standpoint. On one hand, you have Khabib Nurmagomedov, the most feared ground and pound specialist in MMA right now. What makes Khabib so scary is the perceived inevitability of him getting his opponent to the ground and, once there, rendering them absolutely helpless to brutal punishment through unparalleled ground control and face-altering strikes.
On the other hand you have Conor McGregor, the most brash and outspoken character in the history of combat sports, and one of the best strikers in MMA. The last time we saw McGregor in action was against Floyd Mayweather in the boxing ring back in August of 2017, where, despite a strong showing in which the former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion managed to win rounds and even catch arguably the greatest boxer who has ever lived with an uppercut that stunned him, ultimately was finished in the 10th round via TKO.
It is no secret that the determining factor of this fight will be if Khabib can secure the takedown and impose his will on McGregor, as he has done to all 26 of his previous opponents in professional MMA, or, if Conor can keep the fight on the feet and pick apart Khabib with his striking. History would seem to indicate that Khabib will at minimum be able to secure a takedown or two when you consider some of McGregor’s past fights, most notably his fight against Chad Mendes back in July of 2015. Here, we saw McGregor taken down by Mendes in both the first and second round before McGregor worked his way back to his feet and picked apart a completely gassed out Mendes.
Both fans of McGregor and Nurmagomedov have used McGregor vs Mendes as a reference point in attempt to make a case for their fighter being the victor on October 6th. Fans of Khabib will point to the fact that Chad Mendes was able to take McGregor down relatively easily despite taking the fight on two weeks notice. McGregor fans, on the other hand, will point to the ability Conor showed to work his way back to his feet after being taken down. Both are valid points, but I believe that those arguing in favor of Khabib have a stronger case upon further examination. Yes, Conor was able to work his way back to his feet after being taken down and punished by a strong wrestler, however, I don’t believe that Conor will have the same success getting back to his feet in this fight, should he end up on his back. Khabib is simply unlike any other wrestler we have seen in the lightweight division. The ability he shows to first get his opponent to the ground and then hold them down and punish them is simply unparalleled.
I believe that if McGregor is to win this fight, it will look identical to his featherweight title fight win over Jose Aldo. In that fight, Conor slipped his dangerous left hand on the chin of a charging Aldo, rendering him unconscious. After Khabib displayed some holes in his standup game during his previous fight vs Al Iaquinta, this does not seem far-fetched, however, the betting line (Nurmagomedov -160, McGregor +130) seems to indicate that most believe it is more likely that we see a continuation of Khabib’s ground and pound terror in this fight.
I believe that Conor’s wrestling and ground game is not at a high enough level to prevent Khabib from taking him down or getting off his back once Khabib is on top of him, in fact, no one has shown the ability to do so.
Final prediction: Khabib by Unanimous Decision.