Monday, August 4, 2014

Big, Bad and Bold Predictions for 2014-15 and Beyond

With an explosive World Cup and nearly a whole NBA free agency behind us, it's time to move forward to my favorite time of year. It involves College football and basketball (March Madness!), the NFL and NBA, and a little bit of golf and tennis (for those all-around sports enthusiasts). Without further ado, let's get to my big, bad and bold predictions for 2014-15 and beyond.

1. The A's will win the World Series

The A's have the best record, so this may not seem bold. But, I dare you to put up bookoo bucks on the A's. I'm guessing most will go with the bigger payroll teams like Detroit, the LA Dodgers or San Francisco.

The Oakland Athletics trading for two solid pitchers shows they are ready to win right now. Then, they went out and got Jon Lester! It was a bold move for a team and GM that doesn't let go of farm systems guys very often. But, it was the right move. Billy Beane knows this could be the year, and I think it will be. Detroit countered with David Price to make things interesting. Nevertheless, if Beane's boys pull it off, can we get a sequel to "Moneyball?"

2. Lance Stephenson will be a bust in Charlotte. 

Lance Stephenson had a solid season in Indiana, and for his efforts, he received a three-year, $27 million deal. I still think the guy is overrated, and will be a bust in Charlotte. Stephenson did lead the league in triple doubles, but I'm here to tell you that was an aberration. He was surrounded by very good players on a solid team. In Charlotte, he will be looked upon to lead and be the man, which I believe will lead to a weak season. As good as the guy was last year, his stats weren't off the charts: 13.8 PPG, 4.6 APG and 7.2 RPG. That's a solid all-around season and he played good defense, but he's no star. He's more of a wild card than anything. His attitude is awful, and he is not a good teammate. His career stats are meager at best for a player with this contract: 9.1 PPG, 3.1 RPG and 4.4 APG. All this adds up to a bust!

3. The Packers will win it all.

When the Green Bay Packers won it all in 2011, I think many people envisioned a dynasty or at least more Super Bowl appearances or championships over the next three years. That was not to be, but don't give up on fantasy virtuoso Aaron Rodgers and his Packers. Health has been the main concern since they won it all. But, if Rodgers stays healthy, you know they'll make the playoffs. Moreover, you know they are always in any game with his capabilities. I don't think the NFC West will be as powerful in the playoffs, and the additions of Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix and promising wide receiver Davante Adams were steals and add quality to an already solid team. Flying a little under the radar, Rodgers, who finally has a good running game with Eddie Lacy, will take the Packers to the promised land again!

4. Doug McDermott will be an NBA star.       
Many big-time college sharpshooters have come in the league and been decent or very mediocre. The most recent, JJ Reddick and Adam Morrison, come to mind. While Morrison has never amounted to much in the NBA, Reddick has had a solid career as a role player. But, I believe McDermott will truly be a star. Gordon Hayward is a guy that comes to mind, when discussing big-time college shooters of late. He has a solid all-around game, and thriving on a poor team in Utah landed him a max contract this off-season. I'm still not sure he's worthy of that sort of money, but more power to him for inking that contact and maximizing his NBA talents.

Now, back to McDermott. He had a stellar college career, but as many of us know, that doesn't mean anything at the next level. But, in Dougie McBuckets, I trust! And, it's more than just his shooting. He has a solid post game that will only get better. He has a great basketball IQ, which, as Jason Kidd can relate to, can provide you a longer career than your skill set allows. On top of everything, he has the height and build for an NBA player. He is a 6'8" small forward that can shoot from anywhere. After a few years in the gym, I believe he will be a star. With Chicago striking out on Melo, the Bulls better hope he is.

5. An SEC team won't win it all, and neither will Florida St.!

In the inaugural year of the playoff system, an SEC team won't win it all, and neither will favorite and defending champion Florida State. With what they lost, and Jameis Winston's eye for trouble and for the NFL, I believe they will falter in the end. In addition, the SEC is not as strong to me this year, with so many high-level quarterbacks departing. So, who will it all?

I believe there are three teams to truly keep an eye on. Those are Oklahoma, Oregon and Ohio St. All stand to benefit from the 4-team playoff, as their conferences aren't as strong as the SEC. Yet, they have just as much of a chance to beat the big-time SEC teams in my mind. Remember last bowl season when Trevor Knight announced his presence, scoring a resounding 45 points on the vaunted Alabama defense? He should be very scary this season, and if ex-Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham becomes eligible, they could be even scarier. They will have to get past fellow top 10 preseason ranked Baylor to get there. Baylor is a dark horse, and it seems one of the two will come out of the Big 12 and make the playoff.

Now to Oregon. This team is in the mix every year, and this year will be no different. Let's flash back to last season. They missed electric play-maker and running back De'Anthony Thomas for four games, and they were right in the mix late. Quarterback Marcus Mariotta reportedly played against Stanford with a bad knee and later, sprained his MCL. Even so, he and Thomas came back to lead Oregon to their fourth straight BCS win. Mariotta is now a senior, and is as motivated as ever. Even though Thomas graduated, don't be surprised if Mariotta wins the Heisman and leads the Ducks quacking to a national championship.

Finally to Ohio State. Like Mariotta, Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller is a senior looking to finish his storied career with a national championship. With one of the best coaches in college football and the talent around him, he is more than capable. And in the Big 10, as long as he can stay healthy, he has a good shot at winding up in the 4-team playoff.

6. Jim Furyk will win the PGA Championship

If the previous five predictions weren't bold enough, this one certainly is. Jim Furyk has had a stellar career, amassing an estimated net worth of $50 million. He has been a pro since 1992, but has won just one major. So, it's easy for many people to forget about his remarkably consistent career. Despite being ranked top-10 for over 360 weeks between 1999 and 2014, his one major win came in 2003, and ever since, he has been deemed to choke down the stretch. He was last year's runner-up at the PGA Championship, but this time will be different. Look for Furyk to take the golfing world by storm at age 44, and cement his legacy amongst the best and most consistent golfers of our time.

7. Roger Federer will win the U.S. Open

Forget the father time excuses or the past his prime declarations his fans and I give for him not winning a major lately. I cannot deny that this is biased, as Roger Federer is my favorite athlete in all of sports. It's undeniable that he hasn't had a big moment in awhile, and the sport is much stronger than when he was slaying it. But, he still has the tools and talent to win a major, and he badly needs to do so with Rafael Nadal chasing his grand slams streak.

The U.S. Open is a great venue for Federer, who has won it 5 times. This will be number 6. He had a fantastic Wimbledon, barely falling to Novak Djokovic in a compelling and resilient 5-set showing. He will carry that momentum into the U.S. Open and finally win another major.

Closing statements
Here is a handful of big, bad and bold sports predictions for this year and the near future. It's easy to always pick favorites, so why not go out on a limb? It's certainly more fun doing so. Regardless of what happens, baseball is getting old with the Rangers struggles, and it's time for some football and basketball. I can't wait, and I hope you're ready for this exciting year in sports. I know I sure am!