English Football Season – In Review

The 2016/17 season has ended (but for the remaining play-off/FA Cup Finals). It has been a season where there were clear winners in almost every one of the top 4 divisions. This review is a general list of awards for over and under achievers, managers of the season, player of the season, biggest disappointment and biggest surprise.

Premier League 16/17 Review:
Champions – Chelsea.
Runners Up – Tottenham.
Top 4 – Liverpool and Man City.
Bottom 3 – Hull City, Middlesbrough and Sunderland.
Overachievers – Burnley.
Underachievers – Manchester United.
Manager of the season – Antonio Conte, Chelsea.
Player of the season – N’Golo Kante, Chelsea.
Biggest disappointment – Leicester’s title defence.
Biggest surprise – Chelsea’s run away title win.

Championship 16/17 Review:
Champions – Newcastle United.
Runners Up – Brighton & Hove Albion.
Play-Off Finalists – Huddersfield Vs Reading.
Bottom 3 – Blackburn, Wigan and Rotherham.
Overachievers – Burton Albion.
Underachievers – Birmingham City.
Manager of the season – Jaap Stam, Reading.
Player of the season – Tammy Abraham, Bristol City.
Biggest disappointment – Underperforming Derby and Norwich.
Biggest surprise – Gary Rowett’s sacking with Birmingham pursuing play-offs.

League 1 16/17 Review:
Champions – Sheffield United.
Runners Up – Bolton Wanderers.
Play-Off Finalists – Bradford Vs Millwall.
Bottom 4 – Port Vale, Swindon Town, Coventry City, Chesterfield.
Overachievers – Fleetwood Town.
Underachievers – Charlton Athletic.
Manager of the season – Chris Wilder, Sheffield United.
Player of the season – Bill Sharp, Sheffield United.
Biggest disappointment – Coventry’s continued fall due to ownership issues.
Biggest surprise – Scunthorpe finishing third.

League 2 16/17 Review: 
Champions – Portsmouth.
Runners Up (x2) – Doncaster Rovers and Plymouth Argyle.
Play-Off Finalists – Exeter City Vs Blackpool.
Bottom 2 – Hartlepool United and Leyton Orient.
Overachievers – Exeter City.
Underachievers – Accrington Stanley.
Manager of the season – Paul Cook, Portsmouth.
Player of the season – Danny Hylton, Luton Town.
Biggest disappointment – Leyton Orient’s turmoil.
Biggest surprise – Newport’s great escape.
Joining the EFL next season – Lincoln City and Forest Green Rovers.

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NBA Conference Finals

The NBA Play-offs have been a prelude to the inevitable. Warriors Vs Cavaliers for the third straight year in the NBA Finals. However, The Warriors must overcome The Spurs and The Cavs must beat The Celtics.

The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are both unbeaten in the play-offs which is no easy task. Both teams swept their way to the Western and Eastern conference finals. It is all but confirmed that these two will complete the third leg of their finals rivalry, with both teams having won one title each.

The Eastern Conference teams built their teams to beat Cleveland. The Western Conference built theirs to beat the Warriors. The Cavaliers built outside their big 3, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, to combat The Warriors. We will finally see both teams at full strength (hopefully) heading into the NBA finals (should both teams, as expected, win their conference).

The key players left in the play-offs for each team.

Eastern Conference Finals:

LeBron James – Cavaliers. The only man who can get close to Michael Jordan. Even at the age of 32, he is the dominant force of the NBA. He bought a championship to his home town and now he wants to repeat. The Celtics will struggle to guard him as they have no-one who is capable. They are either too slow or too small. The other teams The Cavs played had a player specifically to slow down LeBron. The Celtics, without one, will be doomed if they can’t find a solution.

Isaiah Thomas – Celtics. The smallest player on the court but he is the key player for Boston. He has a great year and continues to improve in the play-offs. He is a perfect fit for their system and he must be great in order to get The Celtics to the finals. Him playing at a high level is a must and if The Celtics fall short then it will not be Thomas’ doing.

Western Conference Finals:

Kawhi Leonard – Spurs. The Western Conference finals have already started. He is the key man because he will miss the rest of the season. Broken Ankle in game 1, sparking conversation about whether it was deliberate or not, The Spurs best player is out. This will hurt San Antonio tremendously. Kawhi is a great defender who could guard any of the Warriors perimeter players, Durant, Curry or Thompson. They had a big lead and his injury sparked a huge run for The Warriors who are in command in the series.

Kevin Durant – Warriors. The most controversial man of the off season, is now they key piece for the Warriors. It was hard to choose between the big four they have but Durant is now the key. The loss of Leonard will free him up to be a big factor in the WCF. It is important he continues his high level of play. He has to vindicate his decision to leave The Thunder and join The Warriors and a massive performance in this series will shut people up, having fallen at this stage a year ago.

Top 10 NFL Offenses in 2017

It is time to make predictions about next season and inevitably I will be horribly wrong like all other predictions. This is the start of a series where I make predictions about upcoming season. This time we look at the next NFL season. Next week, we look at the Premier League and we will keep things fresh.

Subject to debut the series: The Top 10 NFL Offenses in 2017.

You will notice a trend in the top 10 here. There is a key weapon or QB that will make theme great (outside of an injury)

Honourable mention –
Carolina Panthers – 
I like what they did in the draft and it will have improved options for Cam Newton. If they had done this 2 years ago they would be in the top 5 (Assuming it all worked out). It was a much needed boost that moves away from just slinging the ball long to a tall WR. McCaffrey gives them a do-it-all dynamic weapon. With Devin Funchess, Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin as receiving options it is a team with a high potential to break into the top 10 but right now there are too many uncertainties to include them as Rivers is the surer thing.

10 – Los Angeles Chargers.
Any team led by Philip Rivers has a chance of being a Top 10 offense. They have a WR1 in Keenan Allen, but the injury bug keeps striking. Melvin Gordon can help ease the load on the ageing QB and provide a nice change of pace to a potentially high powered offense. The addition of Mike Williams will be a welcome one as it will take pressure off of Keenan Allen and giving the Chargers two legitimate WRs. Add in Hall of Fame TE Antonio Gates. Then there is high potential in this team. There is question marks over their Offensive Line but Rivers is experienced enough to over come this.

9 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Jameis Winston has continued to improve in the NFL and Dirk Koetter has done a great job in helping his young QB. Mike Evans in a top 10 WR. They still have questions at RB with Doug Martin but the addition of O.J Howard in the draft will give Winston a much needed safety net to ensure the Buccaneers are competing for their division.

8 – Tennessee Titans.
The Titans are a young team with an old school style. The Titans want to run the ball down you throat and seem to enjoy doing it. The experience of DeMarco Murray has added a solid, dependable piece to the team and with Derrick Henry they have a pair of tough up the gut runners. Marcus Mariota has wheels too but question marks will remain over his injury at the end of last season. The addition of Corey Davis in the draft gives them a WR who can take the top of a defense and open up their run game. Look for them to lead the league in Team Rushing.

7 – Oakland Raiders.
A team that showed potential to be a Super Bowl contender until Derek Carr was injured and they faded away in the Play-offs. With Derek Carr back on his feet and back at his best then there is no doubt they will do it again. It is how Carr comes back that will determine the Raiders success, as the back up options are not too inspiring but better than they were last year. Amari Cooper is legitimate. He has been every bit as good as advertised and is a true number 1 receiver who was dominating the day he got into the NFL. Michael Crabtee fits the system perfectly and is a great number 2 for the team. Jared Cook and Pharaoh Brown are a nice TE pair and a continuation in the development of a team that Oakland have deserved for a long time, especially if this is one of the final years in the Bay.

6 – Green Bay Packers.
These next two entries will be eerily similar but maybe they are a touch too high but they both have Hall of Fame, Super Bowl Winning QBs that you can’t discount. Aaron Rodgers has had to carry the Packers in the last couple of years with limited offensive weapons but still manages to put them in the top 10 offensively every year. Jordy Nelson playing 16 games will be key for this Offense. He is the go-to guy for Rodgers and will help Randall Cobb and DeVante Adams be more of a threat by having the defences number 1 CB on Nelson. Martellus Bennett was a nice signing in FA and will complement Richard Rodgers and Lance Kendricks given Rodgers 3 good options at TE.

5 – New Orleans Saints.
The Saints have a Hall of Fame QB no doubt. Much like the Packers, Drew Brees is carrying their offense and they will put up huge numbers for as long as he can sling it. The loss of Brandin Cooks would destroy most teams but Brees is good enough to cover most of the holes on that side of the ball. The lowest amount of yards he has thrown for in the last 6 years is 4,870, which is impressive. Despite having no help on defense he keeps this team in the discussion. They have fallen short of the playoffs in the last 3 years.

4 – Pittsburgh Steelers.
Top 5 Wide Receiver? Check. Hall of Fame QB? Check. Top 5 Running Back? Check. The problems lie on the other side of the ball for The Steelers but they have an explosive offense that can go toe-to-toe with any team in the league. It is important that their big three avoid injuries as this has held them back in the last 3 years. Ben, Brown and Bell have rarely been on the field together but if they can put together 16 games it will be a tough offense to look past for the number 1 spot at the end of the season. The doubt about all of them playing 16 games drops them a place.

3 – Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys have a dominant offensive line. A Young QB looking to take the next step and young stud RB who should only improve and a dependable receiving core. Dak Prescott surprised everyone last year with solid QB play, making smart decisions on throws and runs helped by Ezekiel Elliott, the Offensive Rookie Of The Year. They are a team that should improve with their two young players. Des Bryant and Jason Witten are dependable pieces that will give Prescott chance to develop and The Cowboys should once again have a top offense in the league again.

2 – Atlanta Falcons.
The Falcons came so close to capturing the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl 51. An explosive Offense helped their Quarterback Matt Ryan to MVP honours last season and there is no reason to believe they are about to slow down. They will remain one of the top offenses in the NFL. Sanu and Gabriel are nice options outside of the beast Julio Jones who will catch anything within 5 yards of him. The problems lie on the other side of the ball and with a better defensive rotation they would be coming into 2017 as Super Bowl Champions.

1 – New England Patriots.
Speaking of Super Bowl Champions. The epic 25 point comeback from a Tom Brady led team hoisted this team to their 5th title in 17 years. They didn’t stand by. They stacked their offense with supreme talent. Brady is the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) in the NFL. He will be as good as ever next season there is no reason to doubt the man, despite him being 40 years old. They added explosive WR, Brandin Cooks from the Saints. Mike Gillislee from the division rival Buffalo Bills. Along with Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, Rex Burkhead, James White, Dion Lewis, Julian Edelman, Malcom Mitchell, Chris Hogan…you get the picture. They are loaded. They can run, throw to Running Back, Wide Receivers and Tight Ends. Brady has everything he needs to be the first man to win 6 Super Bowls. They are the safest bet, along with the Falcons, to be the top offenses in the NFL, if not ever.