2018 World Cup Groups are Set

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Today marked the drawing of the 2018 World Cup being held in Russia. Obviously some notable names left out of the draw — United States, Italy, Netherlands, Ghana, Chile — but this is still the biggest competition in the world and thus deserves the attention.

Looking quickly at the draw:

  • Group A is a snoozer. Russia gets the opening World Cup game against…..Saudi Arabia. Horrendous. Uruguay & Russia to qualify.
  • Group B looked to get off to a fast start with Portugal and Spain both being drawn. Iran & Morocco make this a cakewalk for the top two. Spain to qualify first, their neighbors Portugal second.
  • Group C provides a little intriguing options under France. Love to see the Socceroos qualify but I think Denmark has the best shot.
  • Group D looks to be a fun one. Croatia is obviously a talented team but cinderella story Iceland looks to continue its magic from the Euros. A quick fan favorite, Iceland getting a result against Argentina will be all time. Argentina to qualify first and Iceland continuing their run
  • Group E should see Brazil qualify easily — and they better hope so because a possible reunion with Germany could happen in the next round if not (see: 2014 World Cup). Brazil to finish first, Switzerland second.
  • Group F is what I believe is going to be referred to as the Group of Death. Germany is still a force and is the defending WC champion. Mexico has looked great recently and are one of the fastest teams in the field, and Sweden is fresh off knocking Italy out of the tournament. Shouldn’t be easy but I still like Germany & Mexico to qualify.
  • Group G had some intrigue with Belgium and England but the two teams should qualify easily. Although it wouldn’t be surprising if England found a way to blow it..
  • Group H should see Colombia qualify easily and the second spot is up for grabs. Give me Japan to qualify second.

We’ll do a group by group breakdown as it gets closer to the summer.

Also — this man of the match trophy is exactly what I’d expect a Russia MOTM trophy to look like

 

 

 

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Bye Week Episode 3

Office Chatter’s fantasy football podcast returns with a preview to the last week of the regular season. The fantasy crew discusses whether you should start your studs or play the matchups if you need a big win. Other talk includes Kenyan Drake, if it’s seriously time to consider benching Kareem Hunt, and the big return that everyone is talking about. We finish up with the weekly Start of the Week segment.

https://soundcloud.com/allen-gray/bye-week-episode-3

0-11. How Shocking.

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Another one down.  5 losses to go.  We are well on our way to 0-16, and each week it gets more miserable.  This past week the Browns traveled to Cincinnati for their annual beating.

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This game came down to the Browns being fucking IDIOTS at the worst possible time.  Penalties, missed blocks, drops, turnovers.  The list goes on. It’s another game, where in the third quarter the outcome was on the table.  One team had to go out and get the win.  Of course, it was the Bengals who stepped up.

The Browns kicked off the scoring with a Zayne Gonzalez field goal early in the first.  DeShone Kizer moved the offense 66 yards in 11 plays.   Andy Dalton came right back, and lead the Bengals to a TD.  Dalton hit Tyler Boyd for an 8 yard score.

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In the second quarter the Bengals added three straight field goals to make it 16-3, but the Browns never quit god love em.  Towards the end of the half Kizer lead a 75 yard 11 pay drive ending in a Browns field goal.  The score was 16-6 going into the half.

In the third, the Bengals added another field making it 19-6.  Kizer again drove the Browns into scoring range.  Zayne Gonzalez added another field goal making it 19-9.  After a big defensive stand Kizer marched the Browns 89 yards on 15 plays.  He capped it off with a 3 yard touchdown run.

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With a chance to tie the game or take the lead with a stop, the officials called one of the most BRUTAL targeting penalties I have ever seen.  It came on 3rd down, and Andy Dalton threw a deep sideline pass to Josh Malone who caught it.  Peppers came over and leveled Malone causing the ball to pop free incomplete.  The officials flagged Jabrill 15 yards extending Cincinnati’s drive.  It was the most egregious 15yard could I’ve seen since Terelle Pryor was flagged 15 yards for dropping the ball after a catch.  Peppers struck Malone right in the chest.  It was a clean hit, and it would’ve given the Browns the ball back with a chance to tie the game, or even take the lead.  It was for not, the officials fucked us.  The game was officially over after that call.  Joe Mixon finished off the Browns with an 11 yard run for 6.  30-16 was the final.

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5 positives:

  1. DeShone Kizer put in his best day as a pro in my opinion.  He lead the team up, and down the field all day.  The Browns couldn’t capitalize when they needed to most.  He ran for a score, and had a beautiful TD pass taken away from him because Corey Coleman couldn’t close his arms.
  2. With injuries to major pieces on defense (Ogbah, Collins) the Browns defense can still keep them in games.  One side of the ball is nearly figured out.
  3. Theres only 5 more games left this season.
  4. Josh Gordon comes back next week.
  5. Josh Gordon hasn’t failed any drug tests this week (Knock on wood).

Tune in this Sunday to catch the return of Josh Gordon to NFL action.  Hopefully it leads to a few wins.  It won’t, but a guy can dream.  The Browns take on the Los Angeles Chargers.  They’ll likely kick the shit out of us, but hey Josh is back. Lets go Brownies!

Hack-a-Shaq Strikes Again — Ben Simmons Breaks Record for FT Attempts in a Quarter

Last night, the Sixers shot 64 free throws in a win against the Wizards. Thanks to the ‘Hack-a-Shaq’ strategy, the Wizards made a run in the fourth quarter and with a single point deficit — at 5 minutes left in the fourth, the Wizards had the lovely strategy to foul on 12 (!!) straight possessions. Ben Simmons was at the brunt of it and ended the game with 15 makes on 29 attempts from the free throw line.

He had his first 30 point game thanks to this and the fourth quarter dragged on for 48 minutes, which is absurd.

“It’s not my rule, it’s an NBA rule,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said about fouling Simmons. “Just trying to do whatever it takes to cut the lead. His free throw percentage is not good at the moment so it gave us a chance to shoot 3s while they hopefully miss free throws.”

Obviously, this is the fact with basketball and there’s really not too much you can do in regards to preventing this — but if this is happening and the game is clearly out of reach, I’m not about to sit here and watch a 48 minute 4th quarter between the Wizards and the Sixers. The Wizards did manage to cut the lead to 3 at one point, but ultimately ended up losing by 5. Hate the move but there’s not too much that can be done.

 

The Last Thunder Loss Has Broken Russell Westbrook

The Thunder dropped yet another game last night, this time to the Orlando Magic 121-108. After GM Sam Presti was hailed for winning the offseason, the Thunder have gotten out to an uninspiring 8-12 start. Combine that with their 0-5 record in the division and 2-9 record away from home, I think it’s time to start the panic button for this team.

Granted it’s only November and it’s not fair to judge a team full of new players on a slow start but I’m not sure if this team will be able to pull it together to actually make a run in the stacked Western Conference. Sure they brought in two stars to complement Westbrook but all of these players are all ball-dominant. Westbrook and Melo essentially play the same iso scoring game, both needing the ball to create. Paul George is a two-way player and probably was a great pickup — but at this point I think he is leaving after the year to explore greener pastures rather than staying in OKC. Westbrook put up 37 last night and the Thunder still lost by 13 — this shouldn’t be happening on a team touting 3 all-star caliber players. I expect the Thunder to turn it around but I don’t think anybody is expecting this team to make a run at the Warriors.

Tom Brady Wins Record-Breaking 10th AFC Offensive Player of the Month

The ageless wonder does it again, this time capturing his 10th AFC Offensive Player of the Month which is good for the most ever.

The 40-year-old has been lighting it up this season and would be a runaway MVP candidate had it not been for Wentz and the resurgence of the Eagles. He finishes November with a 128.1 QB rating going 73-99 for 833 yds, 10 TD, and 1 INT.  He managed to do this while playing the Raiders & Broncos on the road (and at elevation) and a division rival in the Dolphins. All games were won by at least 17 points and the Patriots look like they are back in peak form.

Much credit of this has to go to Brady, who should be #1 in MVP talks.  He leads the league with 3,374 yds and has the best TD-INT ratio at 26 TDs and 3 interceptions. Can’t forget about him on the ground either with 21 attempts for 24 yards. Kidding obviously but what TB12 is doing is unprecedented and should be appreciated even more than it already is.

The Four Year Anniversary of the ‘Kick Six’

November 30 marks the four year anniversary of arguably the best college football game ever.  The Iron Bowl usually is one of the most important games of the season anyway (including this year) but the one in 2013 was something special. The two teams were tied with 1 second left with a FG opportunity to send Alabama to their third consecutive National Championship. Nick Saban decides to send out kicker Adam Griffith to kick a 57 yarder to win it all and the rest is history.