Friday, 8/4 Quick Hitters: The Blaine Gabbert Edition

FOOTBALL IS BACK!! I’m as excited as anyone…but man, watching the 2nd halves of preseason football games is rough. A few thoughts on last night’s 20-18 Cowboys victory to kick off this column:

-Blaine Gabbert looked like a men among boys in the Hall of Fame game last night. 11 of 14 (two of the three incompletions were drops) for 185 yards.

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-I’m completely overreacting to a game where first-stringers for both the Cowboys and Cardinals didn’t play…but I honestly believe Gabbert has a strong chance to eventually beat out Drew Stanton to be Carson Palmer’s backup QB. He was at least serviceable for a while last season in San Francisco…unlike his tenure in Jacksonville.

-I know it was a meaningless game…but I truly believe that Gabbert will start multiple games at QB for the Cardinals this season. No, he won’t beat out Carson Palmer but if and when Palmer gets hurt, I predict that the former Jaguars first round bust will be the next man up.

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Fantasy Football 30: Players I like and don’t like this season

It’s August which means fantasy football season is just around the corner! Seriously – I can’t wait; my 6-8 drafts (yes, I’m in too many leagues) won’t come soon enough!

In the spirit of draft season, here are 30 players / situations I’m thinking about this season…to draft or stay far, far away from. Those I like will be in ALL CAPS and the ones I don’t will be in Italics.

(1) TY MONTGOMERY (RB, Green Bay): He’s added weight and is preparing to get even more touches as a full-time RB. Could be a potential league-winner in PPR (point-per-reception) leagues as a 4th or 5th round choice.

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Four Downs – July 31st: Making some early NFL predictions

Training camps are underway which means the NFL preseason is almost here! Before the Cardinals and Cowboys get things started on Thursday night, here’s a four-pack of what I think will happen in 2017-18. I’ve probably mentioned at few of these in previous blogs but here I’ll go in-depth:

FIRST DOWN: The New England Patriots will once again go undefeated in the regular season.

Hey they did it in 2008, why not again this season? After battling back from a 28-3 third quarter deficit to win Super Bowl LI in overtime, I have to believe the Pats’ momentum will continue into the regular season. In the offseason they made some key personnel changes:
RB: Mike Gillislee (from Buffalo) and Rex Burkhead (from Cincinnati) for LaGarrette Blount (went to Philadelphia)
WR: Brandin Cooks (from New Orleans)
TE: Dwayne Allen (from Indianapolis) for Martellus Bennett (went to Green Bay)
DE: Kony Ealy (from Carolina)
CB: Stephon Gilmore (from Buffalo) for Logan Ryan (went to Tennessee)

To sum it up, they acquired more running back depth, an elite wide receiver, a very solid backup tight end, an underrated defensive end, and a shutdown cornerback.

Oh yeah…and New England gets the best tight end in the league, (former UofA standout) Rob Gronkowski, back after missing the last half of the 2016 regular season and playoffs.

Rob Gronkowski

This roster is EASILY the best in the league and I’m not sure anyone else’s is close.

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Friday, 7/28 Quick Hitters: The Cardinals’ New Secret Weapon?

Which is worth more: the amount you’re paying for this column or Brandon Knight’s current trade value?

Answer: They’re both the same…ZERO!

-While that may have been a lousy joke, sadly the statement above is true. Knight is likely done for the 2017-18 season with a torn ACL suffered in a Miami Beach pick-up game last week. I would be very surprised if you ever see him in a Suns uniform again.

-But hey, at least the Suns have a shot at LeBron James next offseason (250-1 odds per BetOnline.ag)!

-An underrated signing to keep an eye on for Cardinals fans this season: Kicker Phil Dawson. Chandler Catanzaro was serviceable for Arizona the last three seasons but missed a staggering 10 field goals and 9 extra points combined in 2015-16. Dawson, despite being 42 years old and in his 19th NFL season, is about as reliable as they come. He’s only missed TEN extra points in his entire career and continues to make field goals at an 85%+ clip. Good move by Cardinals’ management here.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants

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2017 Pac-12 Football Predictions: It’s USC, Washington, and everybody else

In honor of Pac-12 Football Media Days today and tomorrow, it’s time to break down how I believe the conference will shape up in 2017. Below I’ll project each team’s record (overall and in-conference) and give a bold prediction (at least I hope so) for each team.

South Division

1. USC Trojans (11-1, 8-1)
There might be an upset along the way but I’d still give the Trojans a 98% chance to win the South. They’re just too talented and the other five teams have too many questions. A definite National Championship contender especially if they play a semifinal game in the Rose Bowl.
Bold Prediction: QB Sam Darnold is among the Heisman Trophy finalists and gets selected #1 overall by the New York Jets in the 2018 NFL Draft.

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2. UCLA Bruins (7-5, 5-4)
Remember when Josh Rosen was touted as the next great college QB in 2015? After an injury-plagued sophomore season, the talented QB no longer has the hype compared to cross-town rival, Sam Darnold. I expect the Bruins to win enough for a bowl game but otherwise Bruins fans shouldn’t get their 2017 hopes up too high.
Bold Prediction: UCLA will replace Coach Jim Mora this offseason.

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Four Downs – July 24th: Is Kyrie Irving to the Suns a real possibility?

Well I can tell you from on-scene experience, if you like to play the horse favorites at Del Mar, it’s a losing proposition.

FIRST DOWN: Does Kyrie Irving to the Suns actually make sense?

Yes, depending on the return. If the Suns can acquire Irving from Cleveland without giving up Devin Booker or Josh Jackson, then I’m ALL for it! But would Cleveland really consider that?

Eric Bledsoe, Tyson Chandler, and a future 1st round pick or two…is that enough? Maybe throw in T.J. Warren instead of the draft pick(s)?

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Irving is clearly unhappy and knows that the 2016 NBA Champions are a sinking ship. LeBron James is leaving (for L.A.) in 2018 and immediately Cleveland goes from the East’s best team to an also-ran.

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Friday, 7/21 Quick Hitters: The Cardinals’ 2018 QB Solution

Hanging out “Where The Turf Meets the Surf” this weekend. The summer racing season at Del Mar is always one of my favorite past times and it’s a nice bridge from the doldrums of Summer to football season. Please root for me to hit a sizable Pick 4 this weekend…

-On Tuesday’s episode of “Morning Fanatics” with Bauer and Fouhy, I was asked if I thought Kirk Cousins made sense for the Cardinals at QB in 2018 and beyond. My short answer: NO! Is it worth paying a quarterback who has as many playoff wins as you and I nearly $30 million a year?? That’s crazy talk.
Listen to the full interview here

-Don’t get me wrong…Cousins is probably a top-15 QB in the league. But if you think he’s worth 20-25% of the entire team’s salary cap, you’re drinking the kool-aid.

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