The Fight Between Jordan Poole and Draymond Green Might Be Exactly what the Warriors Need

We need to talk about the fight between Draymond Green and Jordan Poole.

Let’s get two things out of the way- violence is rarely ever the answer for solving problems, but not all violence is created equal. 

The word violence has become an all encompassing term from everything from military aggression to just not speaking up about an issue. 

Silence is violence? Really?

In sports, you’re taught that in order to be successful you have to be aggressive. You’re told you’re going out there into battle. As an NFL Tight End, I had to “fight” for my spot and “dominate” my assignment off the line of scrimmage. All of this involved some kind of violence or violent imagery. 

I went through plenty of training camps, and the purpose of those camps was to get everyone on the same page through competition, and to establish a pecking order. I saw my share of physical altercations, and participated in a few myself. 

For the most part, if your purpose in challenging someone is to uphold a standard, or establish a personal boundary, once the conflict is over, two men that are out from under the influence of surging testosterone are going to find a way to re-establish a connection and find common ground. 

It’s hard to explain unless you’ve experienced the phenomenon, but as a man, sometimes what it takes to get on the same page is to eat a punch, or serve one up yourself. 

Andre Iguoadala took to Twitter and explained that what happened between Draymond Green and Jordan Poole was family business. Chris Haynes reported that Poole’s behavior has changed as his payday nears, and that’s a believable situation I’ve seen unfold in person time and time again. 

We all know Michael Jordan punched Steve Kerr, and believe it or not, Shaq tried to fight Scott Skiles. As long as it’s a situation where the players involved are able to come together, talk it out, humble themselves, and extend forgiveness, the Golden State Warriors might be better for having this conflict play out publicly instead of simmering in the background until one or both players requests a change of scenery.

And the latter is a real possibility- just ask Kevin Durant.

To reiterate, I’m not defending violence. I’m endorsing the process of reconciliation, and the simple fact is you can’t have reconciliation without conflict. 

If Draymond Green had a history of sucker punching players, or if this wasn’t reported to be a “chest-to-chest” conflict, I might be singing a different tune. 

But as it stands, a four-time NBA champion with four All-Star selections and seven NBA All-Defensive team awards punched a 23-year-old role player that has shown flashes that he could be a future star when both players were face-to-face, talking trash. 

Draymond Green has an opportunity to humble himself here, while Jordan Poole has an opportunity to push his ego to the side and move forward. 

If both those things happen, and it helps re-focus this team, which in turn helps re-establish the Warriors dynasty… violence won’t be the catalyst, but reconciliation of violence will be.

Let that sink in.

Aaron Judge vs Barry Bonds- What Does it Mean to be the “Real Home Run King?”

MLB Aaron Judge Yankees

We need to talk about what it means to be the real “home run king.”

And before you think that I’m about to diminish either Barry Bonds, Roger Maris, or Aaron Judge, take a seat and listen up. 

I’m not here to diminish any of those guys. I’m here to diminish the very idea of diminishing those guys. 

When we call someone a ‘king,’ why do we completely ignore the way that monarchies actually function? When someone is a monarch, they are a monarch for their era. Queen Elizabeth II was the Queen of England. King Charles taking over the crown after her death doesn’t mean Elizabeth relinquishes her title as the longest-reigning monarch in British history. 

And no one I know is wasting time and energy putting an asterisk next to Elizabeth’s name for being a Constitutional Monarch instead of an Absolute Monarch. She was a product of her era, but she still wore the crown. The details of her rule are the footnotes and context that make her reign interesting.

That brings me back to baseball. Part of the beauty of baseball is the recognition of the variance from era to era. The Dead Ball Era, the Live Ball Era, the Integration Era, the Expansion Era, the Free Agency Era, and the Steroid Era are the footnotes and context we provide for the players that earned their crowns.


Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in a season. The context was that it happened in a 154 game season, and he did it without having to face a single black pitcher. There are no asterisks, those are just the details.


Roger Maris hit his 61st home run in his 161st game of the 1961 season. 1961 was the first season that the AL played 162 games. Through 154 games, Maris had 58 home runs. Not to mention, Mickey Mantle’s entire body fell apart in September of that season when he had 54 home runs himself, leaving Maris to chase the record alone. There are no asterisks, those are just the details. 


Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run this week to pass Roger Maris for the AL crown, and two of the home runs he hit this season would only be considered a home run in one park in the entire Major Leagues- an advantage provided by playing in Yankee Stadium with its short right field porch. There are no asterisks, those are just the details. 


Barry Bonds carried 3 MVPs and three On Base Percentage titles into the Steroid Era. He passed Ruth and Roger Maris to become the single season home run king in the 135th game of the 2001 season. He did it while leading the league in walks. He did it batting against pitchers that had access to every chemical resource that he did. And he did it in a season where Phil Nevin, Luis Gonzalez, Shawn Green, Todd Helton and Jim Thome all interestingly posted their best-ever home run seasons.

Jeff Chiu/Associated Pres


For Barry Bonds, there should be no asterisk. Those should just be the factual details and context surrounding Bonds’ place as the Home Run King, not only of his era, but of the NL, and MLB. 
The only thing left to legitimize not only Bonds, but the era in which Bonds played- an era that not only saved baseball from the disinterest brought upon by a work stoppage, but also provided a path forward for baseball to put guidelines in place for performance enhancing substances moving forward, is his inclusion in the MLB Hall of Fame. The same Hall of fame that chose to include Bud Selig in 2017, despite him being in charge of not only the Steroid Era, but also the work stoppage that many people claim necessitated the Steroid Era.


The same Hall of Fame that has no issue carrying the name of notorious asshole and attempted murderer Ty Cobb, and the same Hall of Fame that proudly carries the legacy of Gaylord Perry and his 300+ vaseline-aided wins and 3500+ spit-enhanced strikeouts.


I’m not advocating that anyone be kicked out of the Hall for the sake of purity, I’m asking that baseball simply recognize its royalty with respect to the details and context of their eras, as they’ve done with every era but the one Barry Bonds reigned over.


Baseball’s greatest shame isn’t the Steroid Era, baseball’s greatest shame has always been the exclusion of its Monarchs, starting with the Monarchs out of Kansas City of the Negro Leagues, and now with the refusal to recognize the true Home Run King.


Let that sink in

Unnecessary QB Competition Proves Jerry Jones Cares More About Your Attention Than Winning

2020 NFL Week Five Recap: Dak, Four Up Four Down, Top Game Week 6

We need to talk about the Dallas Cowboys

Of course, we don’t need to, but I want to, and that’s part of the problem.

The Dallas Cowboys dynasty came to an end against Sam Mills and the 1997 Carolina Panthers. 

As an aside, shout out to Sam Mills for his posthumous induction into the NFL Hall of Fame, and shout out to Emmitt Smith for being in attendance at the Panthers game yesterday to see Mills honored at halftime.

But back to the year 1997. That was over 25 years ago. The Dallas Cowboys are 3-10 in the NFL playoffs in the last 25 years, and there are 38 players on the current roster that hadn’t even been born the last time this team played in a conference championship.

The Cincinnati Bengals had the same number of playoff wins last year as the Dallas Cowboys have had in the last 25 years.

To Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, it’s never been about wins- it’s been about relevance. So here I am, wanting to talk about the Dallas Cowboys, knowing I’m giving Jerry Jones the thing he cares more about than those dusty Super Bowl trophies. 

And how did I fall into this trap? Well, for starters, the same man that gave Dak Prescott a $160 million dollar extension while he was out with an ankle injury wants you to believe that a competition is brewing over the starting QB job now that Cooper Rush has carried Dallas to a 3-1 statt, and is 4-0 overall as a spot starter. 

Jerry Jones is either a genius for trying to inflate Rush’s value before Dak comes back from his thumb injury, or, and I’m going to go ahead and tap the “3 playoff wins in 25 years” sign as a I say this, he’s willing to screw up the chemistry of a solid team and throw the entire salary cap into flux over the attention that an unnecessary QB competition brings. 

The simple fact is that Cooper Rush isn’t losing games right now, but he’s definitely not the reason they’re winning. Rush deserves credit, but not at the expense of the franchise QB to appease some old man’s attention kink. The Cowboys would have won all three of those games this year by even more with Dak Prescott under center, and Dak Prescott is Jerry Jones’ only hope at seeing another trophy in this lifetime, assuming he still cares about trophies.

Let that sink in

How Many Times Does Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts Need To Prove Himself?

We need to talk about Jalen Hurts

If anyone is proof that the line to success isn’t always straight, it’s Jalen.

When he got beat out for the starting job at Alabama in 2016, it was to a redshirt freshman. He could have packed his bags right then and there, but he stayed ready, had the job within a couple of weeks, and took Alabama to a national championship in his first year. 

After going 12-1 as a sophomore, he had to watch Alabama win a national championship from the sideline after being replaced by Tua Tagovailoa on the biggest stage. How did he react? Not only did he celebrate his teammate’s success as his own, he returned to Alabama as a junior ready to compete for the job.

When Tua won the job in Jalen’s junior year, did Jalen Hurts sulk or slink away? No. Jalen Hurts played the role of backup, supported his friend and teammate, and when the time came to step into the SEC championship game, he led two touchdown drives that secured a come from behind win over Georgia, and sent Alabama to another College Football Playoff.

After Jalen Hurts earned his degree, he left Alabama with the title of “game manager,” and bet on himself to be able to run Lincoln Riley’s spread offense at Oklahoma. The result? 51 total offensive touchdowns, another trip to the college football playoff, and a second place finish in the Heisman voting. 

The previous two Oklahoma quarterbacks went first overall in the NFL Draft. What happened to Jalen Hurts? Some people projected him as a receiver, and he ultimately fell to the 53rd pick in the NFL Draft.

But at least Philadelphia welcomed him with open arms as their QB savior, right? Of course not. He started his career third behind Carson Wentz and Nate Sudfeld. His first start came in week 14 of his rookie year, a game he won, and he threw for over 300 yards in his next two starts. Not bad for a skill position player, right? 

Well guess what, in week 17, he got benched, just like he did at Alabama. That led to a new head coach, and a complete restart on having to re-earn everything he’d gained. 

He earned the starting job in his second year, took the Eagles to the playoffs, and was named a Pro Bowl alternate, but spent the majority of the time having to ignore “Deshaun Watson to Philadelphia” trade rumors. 

He weathered that storm, and in his third year, he’s moving the Eagles down the field at will, and has the whole country talking for the first time about how lucky the Eagles are to have him as a franchise cornerstone. 

Success isn’t always a straight line, but take a lesson from Jalen Hurts- if your internal compass is pointed in the right direction, whether there are oceans, mountains or deep valleys in your way, you’ll find your way there. 

Let that sink in.

Tua Tagovailoa’s “Back” Injury Shows That The NFL Still Isn’t Right In The Head

We need to talk about Tua Tagovailoa. 

In the Miami Dolphins 21-19 win over the Buffalo Bills, a game that featured Ken Dorsey trashing the coaching booth and a punt safety off someone’s booty cheeks, the real thing we should all be reflecting on is the insane decision to send Tua back into the game after he was clearly concussed in the second quarter. 

If you haven’t seen it, Tua Tagovailoa took a hit from Bills linebacker Matt Milano, and his head bounced off the field. Tua looked like he was shaking off some dizziness when he first stood up, and after taking a couple of steps, he fell to his knees and had to be helped up. Tua was taken to the locker room, and the Dolphins informed the press that he’d be questionable to return with a head injury. 

Suddenly, in the second half, Tua was back out there, and the explanation that was given was that back spasms from a prior hit led to his wobbly legs.

I’ve had multiple back surgeries stemming from my time in the NFL, but you don’t have to be a former professional athlete to know what a back spasm feels like. If Tua’s back was seizing up, he’s not getting to his feet twice in 10 seconds. When you’re in the middle of a back spasm, you’re lucky to be able to breathe, much less get to your feet. 

We live in an age where people have 4k 1080p HD televisions, and it’s gaslighting to say that the thing the entire country saw as clear as day, didn’t happen.

Under no circumstances should Tua have been allowed to return to that game after showing signs of a concussion.

Now I’ve seen people say that it’s Tua’s responsibility to pull himself out of the game if he feels concussed, but why are we depending on the judgement of someone that just had their brain scrambled to make the best decision for his future? That’s like someone downing a bottle of Bacardi 151 and saying they feel fine to drive themselves home- there’s a chance based on the circumstances that they aren’t using their best judgement. 

NFL team doctors have to protect players from themselves, especially a guy like Tua, who is the ultimate team guy, and has the pressure of knowing that his owner Stephen Ross has spent the last two years looking for any and every reason to replace him. Ross was willing to risk his reputation to pursue Deshaun Watson, and lose draft picks and cash over tampering with Tom Brady. Beyond that, Tua’s second contract is around the corner, and there are hundreds of millions of reasons for a guy like Tua to try and play through a brain injury. 

Yeah, it would be nice for Tua to ensure that his grandkids never want for anything, but it would be a lot better if he didn’t struggle to remember their names. 

The NFLPA has launched an investigation to ensure the Dolphins have proper concussion protocol, and that’s the right move, but the better move is to be proactive, not reactive. 

An NFL franchise isn’t worth a damn without a commitment to the health and safety of its players, and right now, the Miami Dolphins aren’t worth a damn.

Let that sink in.

ASU’s Ray Anderson Can Gain Credibility Back by Hiring Brennan Marion

We need to talk about the job opening at Arizona State.

I know how much it must have hurt ASU Athletic Director Ray Anderson’s pride to have to part ways with his friend and former client Herm Edwards. I know it stings to be this close to being able to give one of the biggest “I told you so’s” in the history of sports to everyone that doubted Herm Edwards could succeed at the college level, only to be derailed by the infighting of the staff underneath him. 

I’m a man. I have pride like anyone else, and I’ve gone all in on something only to walk away humbled and with a wounded ego. If Ray Anderson can get past the bitterness and temptation to place blame on anyone but himself for the failed tenure of Herm Edwards, he has an opportunity to bring in the savior that this program needs. 

Let’s remember exactly who Ray Anderson is- a lawyer and agent that helped break the glass ceiling on NFL teams hiring minority candidates, and who used his influence as an NFL executive to help bust up the good ‘ol boy network that kept minority coaches from even getting interviews.

I refuse to believe that Ray Anderson did all that work to just turn around and build his own good ‘ol boy network at Arizona State, and then fall into the same trap NFL GMs and athletic directors always do when it comes to taking responsibility for getting it wrong. 

The Ray Anderson that changed football forever for men that look like me is still in there, and he has an opportunity to get back to shaking things up and moving the game of football forward.

And he can do that by hiring University of Texas wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator Brennan Marion. 

Ray Anderson said Arizona State needs someone young and energetic. Brennan Marion is 35, and one of the top recruiters in the country. Ray Anderson said Arizona State needs someone that understands the current landscape of player branding and NIL- Brennan Marion has built his own brand as a pull-yourself-up-by-your bootstraps little known recruit, to NCAA yards per catch record holder, to FCS and FBS offensive coordinator, and now a Power 5 position coach at both Pitt and Texas. 

ASU is all about innovation, right? Well how about someone that literally wrote a book on an offense that fuses principles of the triple-option and the spread?

A lot of people laughed at Ray Anderson’s goals for Herm Edwards- top 3 in the conference, top 3 in the country, and a signing day full of four-stars out of California. 

I don’t think these goals are out of the question. Maybe not every year- only a handful of schools can pull that off, and Ray Anderson has already publicly stated that he’s not willing to do what it takes to play with the big boys when it comes to NIL

But ASU is more than capable of having a run like that every couple of years. Why not? 

And why not bring somebody in like Brennan Marion, who has recruiting and staffing contacts all over the country, has worked at Arizona State before, and won’t have to play two years of catch up just to figure out the rules to the game?

Hiring in America has often been about who you know, and not what you know. And when the people in positions to make hires don’t know certain segments of the population, they tend to get left out of the decision making process. Ray Anderson should know this, both as someone that worked to stop it from happening, and someone who participated in it the last time around. 

If the old Ray Anderson is still in there, the one that wants to shake up the establishment, and the one that still has an unused “I told you so” in the chamber, it might be time for him to get to know Brennan Marion.

Let that sink in.

Why I’m Buying the Jake Paul vs Anderson Silva Fight… and Every Jake Paul Fight After That One

We need to talk about Jake Paul’s October 29th boxing match with Anderson Silva

First, let’s get this out of the way- I’m buying this fight, and there’s nothing you can say to convince me that I shouldn’t.

Fans of the “sweet science” of boxing will tell you that this entire spectacle is unbecoming of their beloved sport.

So what? Gathering around to see two men that have agreed to battle until one relents is as old the earth itself. Boxing was born out of the sport of prizefighting, and the people responsible for keeping boxing relevant were never able to escape the temptation to keep prizefighting as the central motivation for everyone involved in the sport. Why has Mixed Martial Arts surpassed boxing? Because it’s structured in a way that the people that participate have to love the sport more than they love the money.

So when a prizefight comes along between a modern internet celebrity and a former MMA world champion, and it isn’t pretending to be anything other than a prizefight, it’s refreshing.

And for those of you that think I’m getting tricked by the celebrity of it all- my generation is the one that repeatedly rejected the idea of celebrity boxing. And why did we do that? Because above anything, we want to see people that can actually fight. Todd Bridges and Vanilla Ice weren’t going to give us anything better than we can see in the stands at a Raiders game.

Yes, Jake Paul is practically brand new to the sport, but he’s taking it seriously, and wins over professional fighters in Ben Askren and Tyron Woodley show that he’s not just some Hollywood pretty boy.

The other problem with celebrity boxing is that most people we tried to throw out there were beloved for some type of artistic or athletic contribution to society. Nobody hated Screech, or Manute Bol, or Refrigerator Perry. And hate is one of the three pillars, aside from skill and storyline, that sells a fight. 

Who is more hateable than Jake Paul? And people don’t just hate Jake Paul, they hate people that don’t hate Jake Paul. More than half the money that came in on Floyd Mayweather fights came from people rooting for his demise, and with Jake Paul, it’s going to be the exact same. 

People want to see Anderson Silva, a man that defended the middleweight UFC title 10 times over almost 7 years, score a win for Generation X over the entire Zoomer generation. And they’re willing to put money into Jake Paul’s pocket in order to see it happen. 

At the end of the day, sports are as much about entertainment as they are human accomplishment, and Jake Paul has tapped into finding a way to entertain people. On October 29th, I’m going to be one of those people.

Let that sink in.

The NBA Let Us Know Their Real Values With Robert Sarver’s Suspension and Fine

We need to talk about the NBA’s suspension of Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver

One year. Ten Million Dollars. 

That’s the penalty for the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury’s managing partner after an 11-month investigation that revealed 17 years of Robert Sarver acting cringier than the Scott’s Tot’s episode of the Office.

One year. Ten Million Dollars.

Since it doesn’t look like he’s going to be forced to sell the team, let’s take a closer look at what that ten million dollars bought Robert Sarver.

Ten million dollars bought a pass from Adam Silver for at least five confirmed occasions over the span of 12 years where Robert Sarver had to be reminded by people around him that it wasn’t appropriate for him to repeat the n word, whether it was during a free agent courting session in 2004, or in an angry tirade about Draymond Green’s on-court language in 2016.

Ten million dollars bought Robert Sarver out of any proper consequences for unnecessarily pulling his penis out in front of a physician, talking about his penis in front of a female employee, and walking around naked in front of male employees.

Ten million dollars bought Robert Sarver out of having to face the music for depantsing an employee in front of coworkers, talking in a sexual manner about his players’ significant others, and getting caught in a lie by the lawfirm that investigated this case about his habit of shouting and cursing at employees. 

Ten million dollars in exchange for the ability to tell a pregnant female employee that she should be at home nursing babies, commenting on another female employee’s breast augmentation, and organizing a lunch for female employees to try and toughen up one staffer that cried about being screamed at.

That’s what ten million dollars gets you. 

Let’s take the NBA’s investigating lawfirm, and Adam Silver at their word for a minute.

Let’s say that Robert Sarver isn’t a racist. Let’s say that Robert Sarver isn’t sexist. Those two things could absolutely be true. And if they are true, what it means is something equally discomforting-

Robert Sarver is a dangerous idiot. That’s what the NBA wants you to believe. We’re not dealing with a trained assassin here- we’re dealing with a milk-drunk toddler with a loaded gun.

How is that supposed to make us feel better?

And how does it rectify 17 years of damage that a supposedly non-racist, non-sexist, dangerous idiot toddler did?

Adam Silver and the NBA owners want to be able to chalk this up to a locker-room talk culture, and claim that the Suns, and the league as a whole have already begun to get a handle on it.

Putting aside the irony that Robert Sarver was saved from being forced to sell the team by the fact that his own HR department spent over a decade doing anything but their job, the idea that an owner should have ever been a participant in locker room talk leaves out the very important point that owners are not part of the locker room any more than Elon Musk is part of the Tesla factory floor. 

The term locker room talk was popularized when Donald Trump had his Access Hollywood “grab them by the pussy” tape leaked. In that tape, Trump said, “When you’re a star, they let you do it.”

Thanks to Adam Silver and the NBA, we know the ‘star’ is Robert Sarver. 

Let that sink in.

Scott Frost Was The Right Hire, But It Didn’t Work- Four Names Nebraska Football Should Look To Next

We need to talk about Nebraska football

First, let’s get something straight- Scott Frost was the right move. We don’t need any revisionist history here. He was an excellent offensive coordinator at Oregon, turned UCF into a national brand almost overnight, and the last time Nebraska was truly relevant, they had Scott Frost at quarterback. 

On paper, this was a match made in heaven, and no amount of revisionist history can say anyone could have anticipated he’d go 5-22 in one-score games.

With the amount of support and resources afforded to Nebraska football, enough to do right by Frost and pay him his full buyout instead of waiting three weeks for it to be cut in half, there should be no excuse for Nebraska to miss on a third consecutive hire.

And here are some of the names I think you should pay attention to:

First- Washington’s Kalen DeBoer. 

I know Huskies fans think I’m being a shit-stirrer, but take it from a man that watched Willie Taggart and Mario Cristobal leave not very long after they got to town- if the money is right, and Mel Tucker can tell you that Big Ten money is right, there’s nothing the Huskies are going to be able to do. DeBoer had success as a Big Ten offensive coordinator at Indiana, he’s shown he can be a successful head coach while at Fresno State, and he has Washington looking relevant again.

Second- Carolina Panthers Coach Matt Rhule

Matt Rhule is getting the Nick Saban treatment right now from the national media, and while I don’t think he deserves it, the media is pointing out that Saban had successful runs with multiple colleges before an average run in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins as a way to compare Matt Rhule making Tempe relevant and resurrecting Baylor. It doesn’t matter that he stinks in Carolina- most of the gripes about him are that he’s running a pro franchise like it’s a college team anyway. The problem for Nebraska is that they won’t be the only school trying to land Matt Rhule.

Third- Iowa State’s Matt Campbell

Matt Campbell has been linked to so many jobs in the last three years that people are starting to wonder if something’s wrong with him- like a Mel Kiper top 10 pick slipping into the second round of the NFL draft. Nebraska might be a good fit for Campbell though- he recruits the same areas, has shown he can develop three star recruits into NFL prospects, and his players love him. 

Last up, a name I haven’t hear anyone mention, BYU’s Kilani Sitake

I’m convinced that as long as the Cougars get a chance to hold onto Offensive Coordinator Aaron Roderick, they’ll be fine. And it might be hard to lure a former BYU player away from a school that just inked a deal with the Big 12, and someone that is 28-6 in their last 34 games, including wins over six ranked opponents in the last 4 seasons. And if you’re a Nebraska fan thinking to yourself “only six?” Let me remind you that Scott Frost had none. 

And the only thing about Sitake is, he actually figured out how to win one score games. After a rough start, going 5-11 in one score games in his first 3 years at BYU, Sitake has gone 9-6 in those games since 2019, including last week’s double overtime win over top-10 Baylor. 

BYU was a program carried by nostalgia that has actually built a successful modern brand- isn’t that what Nebraska is looking to do?

Look, it’s been forever since Nebraska showed it was even competitive, much less relevant. But the fan support is there, the money is there, and the team has plenty of untapped potential on its current roster. They just need a coach that can mix the ingredients correctly and cook up something that doesn’t taste like 3-9.

Let that sink in

George Wrighster Picks NFL’s NFC Conference Division Winners

Tom Brady goat

The NFC is home to the greatest QB of all time, and the back-to-back MVP- will either of them make a run to the Super Bowl this year? There are my picks to win each division in 2022 (Playoff teams in bold)

NFC WEST

Prediction:

  • Los Angeles Rams
  • San Francisco 49ers
  • Arizona Cardinals
  • Seattle Seahawks

This division has the defending Super Bowl Champion, and most of the players on that team, outside of Odell Beckham Jr and Von Miller, return. The Rams are a lock to win the division.

Next up is the San Francisco 49ers, and not only do I have them making the playoffs, I’m going to go against the grain and say it’s *because* of the way Trey Lance leads this team, not in spite of it. With Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk by his side, Lance is going to score a lot of points.

I trust Kyler Murray to lead the Arizona Cardinals to the playoffs. I do not trust Kliff Kingsbury to lead the Arizona Cardinals anywhere outside of a decent Scottsdale cocktail party. The Cardinals did not upgrade the roster anywhere during the offseason. Every unit is either the same as last year, or slightly worse. That’s not going to get it done.

It doesn’t make sense to me that Pete Carroll would think of his Seahawks as being in rebuild mode, which means he actually believes in Geno Smith. I like Geno, and I’m rooting for him to have a redemption story, but I don’t think it’s going to happen in Seattle.

This is one of the tougher divisions in football, but it’s definitely less tough for the one team that has Aaron Donald.

NFC South

Prediction:

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Carolina Panthers

Tampa Bay is going to win the division in a tightly contested race with the Saints. I’m predicting that injuries take a toll on the Buccaneers, but the marriage of Tom Brady and Todd Bowles, and the retention of Byron Leftwich, is going to be enough to take the division. 

I’m seeing a big year for Jameis Winston. People forget that in his last full year as a starter, he led the NFL in passing yards. With improved eyesight, footwork, and decision making, he’s ready to FINALLY take that next step to Pro Bowl caliber. And another bold prediction for this Saints offense- Chris Olave is going to be the rookie of the year. 

Speaking of former first round quarterbacks having a career resurgence, Marcus Mariota is in Atlanta, and I believe he’s going to leave no question that he deserves to start in this league. I know they’re young, and I know it’s a full rebuild, but I believe the Falcons will be competitive.

The Panthers on the other hand… is David Tepper even trying out there?

It’s an interesting division with Baker Mayfield, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota all trying to show that their QB legacies didn’t end on the Heisman stage, while a 45-year-old with nothing left to prove chases an eighth Super Bowl Trophy to put in a case without a Heisman trophy.

NFC North

Prediction:

  • Green Bay Packers
  • Detroit Lions
  • Minnesota Vikings
  • Chicago Bears

This is an interesting division. Maybe the most interesting one-playoff team division in the NFL.

And that playoff team? The Packers, of course. Green Bay’s front office just keeps stripping the Packers offense down to bare bones year after year in a bizarre grudge match with their own starting QB, and all Aaron Rodgers does is get better and better. 

Coming in second, I have the Detroit Lions putting together a 7-10 season where all 10 of the teams that beat them come away worse for wear. I’m a believer in Dan Campbell and his staff, and while I don’t think this is the year they make the Zac Taylor Bengals leap to the Super Bowl, they might just bludgeon their way to being relevant in the NFC North.

Third, I have Minnesota. If they want to win, they need a change under center. They have damn near everything else, but I can’t in good conscience ride with Kirk Cousins. Can you?

Last up, the Chicago Bears. The only team in the NFL that might trade receiving corps with the Green Bay Packers. This just isn’t a competitive roster, and you’d have to be crazy to blame Justin Fields for how this upcoming season is going to turn out. They just better hope they don’t ruin him.

Another year of watching one of the best QBs of all time bully his division without the tools to contend for a second Super Bowl.

NFC EAST

Prediction:

  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Washington Commanders
  • New York Giants

I like the Eagles. Jalen Hurts doesn’t have to do much to make this offense run, and that’s good for him, because Shane Steichen doesn’t call much of an offense. This team’s success is going to be driven by talent and depth, and when you take a 9-win team and add Haason Reddick, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and AJ Brown, that ain’t bad. Now if the running back by committee could share some of those touchdowns with Miles Sanders, maybe we could make some fantasy owners happy.

In second place, and squeaking into that 7th playoff seed, I have the Dallas Cowboys. I’m not sure I can say they got better this offseason, but as long as you have Dak Prescott, you have a chance. Dak was 7 points away from going 13-3 as a starter last year, and if he had 30 extra seconds, might have staged a playoff comeback against the 49ers. If the Cowboys offensive line keeps Prescott upright, they’ll be in every game. 

The Commanders and Giants are interchangeable at the bottom of the division, but I think the Commanders might start out hot enough with Carson Wentz to give them some cushion to not surrender the #3 spot to the Giants late in the season. The Giants are far too dependent on Saquon Barkley’s health for relevance in the division. 

Being at the bottom of this division might not be the worst idea. Can you imagine Alabama’s Bryce Young in a Brian Daboll offense?

George Wrighster is a former Pac-12 and long-time NFL tight end. As a television/radio host, opinionist, and analyst, who is UNAFRAID to speak the truth. Contrary to industry norms he uses, facts, stats, and common sense to win an argument. He has covered college football, basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB since 2014. Through years of playing college football, covering bowl games, coaching changes, and scandals, he has a great pulse for the conference and national perspective.