2015 Detroit Lions NFL Preview

The Detroit Lions are a team on the rise in 2015. The question is whether they can understand how much of a rise they can make to become an elite team in the NFL quick enough for fans to be happy.

Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions have to show that this is their year to become a true NFC contender for a SuperBowl run.


As we all remember, the Lions were bounced in the NFC Wildcard Playoffs in January against the Dallas Cowboys. The team didn’t complain for very long, well, not nearly as long as the fans did after the bogus referee calls in the game,.

Ameer Abdullah Detroit Lions

Ameer Abdullah will be counted on to be the speed running back in a 1-2 combination with Joique Bell.

Instead, the team worked on getting better. In the offseason, they let go of running back Reggie Bush & drafted Ameer Abdullah from Nebraska. Abdullah is a similar running back to Bush, but a bit smaller & can hit the holes between the offensive line much quicker at this point in his football life than the elder Bush.

With Abdullah & the powerful running back Joique Bell in the backfield, the Lions will have a nice 1-2 punch to give quarterback Matthew Stafford the offensive comfort he will need to succeed & keep defenses honest.

Speaking of Stafford, this has to be the year for him to become a true elite quarterback. We have said this before with him, but its more important than ever that Stafford is able to lead this team to a playoff victory & deeper into the playoffs. He has been healthy for the last couple of seasons & with the contract extension the team signed him to in the offseason, its now or never.  The team drafted Stafford to be the franchise quarterback to take the Lions into that SuperBowl level & fans are starting to grow a bit weary with him.

He has the weapons around him in a strong running game & not to mention, two of the most consistent wide receivers in the NFL in Calvin Johnson & Golden Tate III. Johnson is a clear Hall of Famer but he needs to have a bit of a bounce back season, at least based on the standards that fans & coaches have for Johnson. Johnson still had over 70 catches & 1,000 yards, but missing 3 full games during the season hurt those numbers & in 2 other games, he was used as more of a decoy than anything else.

Golden Tate was the true receiving star of the Detroit Lions last year, having 99 receptions for 1,331 yards. Tate was a great short to intermediate threat & a safety blanket for Stafford. This season, if Calvin Johnson is fully healthy, Tate should get over 100 catches & more opportunities to get into the end zone on a consistent basis.

Along with having great receivers, the Lions have two tight ends that will be strong in the running game but will be more effective in the downfield passing game in second-year player Eric Ebron & Brandon Pettigrew. Pettigrew has had the case of the drops over the last few seasons & was hampered by injuries last year, but if healthy, physically & mentally, Pettigrew & Ebron can help Stafford have so many weapons in the passing game that it could be very scary in the NFC North & NFC as a whole.

On the defensive side of the ball, losing DT Ndamukong Suh to the Miami Dolphins is a huge blow to the defensive line. The team signed former Baltimore Ravens NT Haloti Ngata to help fill that hole, but Suh has been one of the most disruptive forces in all of the NFL ever since he was drafted in 2010 from Nebraska. DEs Ziggy Ansah & Jason Jones will be needed to be explosive pass rushers & be able to assist in getting pressure in the pass rush while Ngata should be able to hold two blockers with his rush up the middle & open up some gaps for the linebackers to roam free, especially when the Lions will put 8 men in the box.

The linebacker core could be exceptional if DeAndre Levy is healthy. He is being held out of Week 1 against the San Diego Chargers because of an internal issue. He doesn’t need surgery but it has to come into the team’s mind about truly how severe Levy’s injury really is & if he is trying to tough it through because he just signed a new contract extension, showing his dedication to the team, but possibly harming himself in the long term.

The secondary looks to be strong, especially with Glover Quin & Jame Ihedigbo at the safety positions. They are strong playmakers, especially when it comes to making turnovers on a consistent basis. Cornerback Rashean Mathis is a 13-year veteran who is experienced, but the question will be how much help will he need over the top in man-to-man situations where he has to cover some of the top receivers in the league & does he still have the speed to hang in there.

Overall , the Detroit Lions should be an 11-5 team & win the NFC North. If there was any year to win the North, its this one, especially if the Green Bay Packers aren’t the same without Jordy Nelson for the season.

It is now or never for the Detroit Lions, but this year, we give them the benefit of any doubts. 


Jim Harbaugh Must Win on Saturday Against Oregon State

This coming Saturday’s game could be one of the most important in the very short reign of Jim Harbaugh being coach of the Michigan Wolverines. In order to not hear Michigan fans have a complete & utter meltdown all the way around, Harbaugh has to coach the team to a victory against Oregon State (Noon, ABC).

Jim Harbaugh Michigan

Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh has to lead the Wolverines to victory against Oregon State or face the chirping of Michigan fans who will start to question the hire.

The Michigan fans around the country have hailed Harbaugh as the savior & the guy who is going to bring Michigan football back to its glory days of Lloyd Carr & Bo Schlembechler. The boldness & the attitude that Harbaugh brought into the Michigan program, with the camps in SEC territory, the wild stories written about him, his stance on showing the American Sniper movie to his football team when the rest of the Ann Arbor community wasn’t showing it – it shows that he has worked to connect with students, alumni & fans alike.

But if this team starts off 0-2, the opinions & complaining will surface quickly.

Last week’s game showed a few glaring holes but also many bright spots in the Michigan team that fans may or may not think about when having Harbaugh on such a high pedestal. Michigan looked strong on defense against Utah, allowing 337 total yards, which, under a new coaching staff & in the first game, that’s an amazing feat. The defense looked inspired & looked ready for the upcoming season.

The offense is what the fans & media has been talking about the most, however. Graduate transfer quarterback Jake Ruddock was very mediocre on Thursday night, throwing for 279 yards & 2 touchdowns, but threw 3 bad interceptions. The interceptions were bad in the sense that twice it was on their freshman receivers cutting off their route, showing that they were not in strong connection with each other, which can be a reflection of preparation during the week & offseason. The 3rd interception was a pick-6 that Ruddock has to know better on.

Many Michigan fans may say that Harbaugh needs time to find the quarterback he needs on his team to make the system go well & Ruddock or Shane Morris may not be the guy this year. But still, Harbaugh has to find a way to lead this team to victory against a legit Pac-12 opponent in Oregon State.

Are the expectations a bit out of proportion? Of course. But Harbaugh brings that expectation with winning in college & getting to a SuperBowl in the NFL. He brings credibility & most importantly for Michigan fans, hope. Hope of a Big Ten Championship soon. Hope to be back in the BCS picture in some way, shape or form in the near future. Hope that Michigan can be……..Michigan again.

0-2 will quickly make people think about the Brady Hoke & Rich Rodriguez years, which no Michigan fan can yell “Go Blue” to.


Detroit Tigers: Pay David Price

According to Fox Sports baseball writer Ken Rosenthal, Detroit Tigers left-handed ace David Price will not be back with the Detroit Tigers in 2016.

Price, who is a free agent after this season, will most likely command somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 million dollars, has been the Tigers true ace this season, going 9-3, with a 2.31 ERA. Price has performed well on a team that has severely underachieved in a big way.

David Price

Detroit Tigers P David Price looks as though he will not be with the organization in 2016, according to Fox Sports reporter Ken Rosenthal.

And if the Tigers want any chance of being back in the playoff picture next year or in the next couple of years, the team has to pay David Price the money.

Yes, the Tigers will have nearly $300 million in Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander & Price (if he resigned) but the team needs an ace to build around. The Detroit Tigers are not in a position to rebuild; they have to reload if they stand a chance to not lose the fan base & go back to the 1994 – 2006 Detroit Tigers, the team that had 100 losses twice during that period & didn’t sniff a championship.

Owner Mike Ilitch is getting higher in age & from reports, his health hasn’t been the best over the years. The team has been committed to spending whatever it needs to do win a championship, but this is the time of the year where teams decide to be contenders or pretenders, & the Tigers look to clearly be pretenders right now, which will mean players will start to get moved to shed cost.

If the reports are true, the Dodgers, Cubs, Astros, Yankees & Blue Jays are all going to be contenders for Price, who will be a rental player for many teams during the upcoming playoff runs. The team that can really afford Price & his big salary demands in the future will be the Cubs. The Cubs have the team on the rise to give Price the opportunity to win a World Series right now & sign him to a long-term contract next year to go along with pitcher Jon Lester.

The Tigers could probably pay Price, but the team really doubled down on Justin Verlander, & unfortunately, it looks as though the deal for Verlander is proving to be a complete bust. The Tigers are on the hook for $28 million dollars to Verlander until 2021, when the number goes down to $21 million in his free agent year. The Tigers figured that they had to sign Verlander to the big extension when they felt that Max Scherzer was going to walk & couldn’t pay all three pitchers, which, in theory, was a smart business move.

From a baseball standpoint, it was terrible. Price & Scherzer were the two best starters for the Tigers last season, the team paid Verlander for his recent achievements, not so much for what he was or is going to do in the future. Verlander has missed half of the season & has had only one good start in the 5 that he has had this season.

Which brings me back to David Price. Price, 29, is right in the prime of his career. He is in amazing shape & he is able to pitch deep into games on a regular basis, and with the bullpen that is coming out for the Tigers right now, between Rondon, Alburquerque, Krol, Gorzelanny & the rest, the total team pitching staff ERA is 4.40. Price is the ONLY bright spot on this staff & is a guy the Tigers can build around with another good starter that can be signed in free agency.

It would be absolutely ridiculous for the Tigers, with all of the resources tied into this team right now, to let go of another pitching ace to show favoritism to a guy in Verlander, who has been one of the greats of all-time in Tigers history, but no one fully knows if Verlander can go back to being the guy who was absolutely dominant from 2006-2013.

Price has roughly 3-5 solid years of dominant, CY Young level pitching in him, barring injury. This is not the time to break up the unit & go back to the drawing board, but its the time to after the World Series with every resource available, even if it costs us our manager, Brad Ausmus. I may be a fan of the Detroit Tigers, but I speak from a rational point of view – the team would take so many steps backwards if they lose their best left-handed starter in many years. It is a big hill to climb & yes, there is a ton that needs to be invested to keep Price around, but if Price & even a 90% Verlander can dominate at the top of the rotation for the next 2 years together, there shouldn’t be a reason for the Tigers to not get back to the World Series & cashing in.

Detroit Tigers – It’s time to pay the Price.



2015 NFL Team Preview – Seattle Seahawks

One bad pass. One bad call. The Seattle Seahawks 2014 NFL season is going to be remembered for Pete Carroll calling the play for Russell Wilson throwing a pass into the end zone during SuperBowl 49, only to have it intercepted by the New England Patriots Malcolm Butler to clinch a championship.

Russell Wilson

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has proven that he is one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. He now has to prove it again, with having a new offensive weapon in Jimmy Graham.

Fast forward a year. The Seahawks are back to looking like a SuperBowl contender, especially in the NFC West, a division that looks surprisingly easy & with only one real contender in the whole division – the Arizona Cardinals. The San Francisco 49ers have just about broken up their whole team & the St. Louis Rams have so much unrest around them regarding the roster & the team moving to a new city that the focus has not been on football as much this offseason.

The Seahawks & Russell Wilson will be looking to get a long-term deal done, & if Wilson doesn’t get that money, he could be seeing his final years in Seattle. Wilson, while not putting up the flashiest numbers in the NFL, has led the Seahawks to two consecutive SuperBowl appearance, winning SuperBowl 48 & outdueling Peyton Manning & the Denver Broncos, & the last second loss to the Patriots last year.

Win or lose, getting to the game is still getting to the game. Wilson has been to the show two straight years, more than what most NFL quarterbacks can say. Wilson has been helped immensely by the running game of Marshawn Lynch & backup running back Robert Turbin. This season, Wilson gets some help with having Pro Bowl TE Jimmy Graham on the roster now. Graham can stretch the field better than any other player on the Seahawks roster & can be a matchup nightmare for secondaries around the league.

If Graham is 80% of the player that he was in New Orleans during his years with the Saints, the Seahawks will be right back to winning the SuperBowl. Jimmy Graham was the only major move that took place this season. The Legion of Boom defense is back in tact with all of the key pieces together again for 2015. Graham’s addition helps that group even more due to being able to put up some points that will take some pressure away from the Seattle defense to constantly become playmakers every snap.

 Marshawn Lynch’s Last MVP Level Season

Marshawn Lynch is the heart of the Seattle Seahawks. No one will really question that. However, his running style is one of the most violent in the league, right up there with Minnesota Vikings Adrian Peterson. Lynch has been running hard like that for many years now & this season, we predict that this could be the last year that Lynch (also known as “Beast Mode”) will be able to run at this pace & be effective without a big time slow down.

Marshawn Lynch

Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has been notoriously quiet during SuperBowl media days, but makes a big noise on the field, running for over 1,000 yards the last few seasons with the Seahawks & being a big reason the Seahawks have been to two straight SuperBowls.

Lynch should have clearly received the ball at the end of SuperBowl 49 & not getting the ball had Lynch a bit on the salty side early in the offseason. He eventually realized that his value will be more to the Seahawks than any other franchise in the league & he resigned for two years. This is the season, however, that Lynch will need to leave it all on the table if he wants to receive one more good run to the SuperBowl. Lynch will be going for a third straight SuperBowl & for a running back in today’s NFL, that feat is almost unheard of.

Lynch will go down as one of the best & most clutch running backs in NFL history, but at this point, it has to be now or never, simply due to his style of bruising play. This contract is likely Lynch’s last big one in the league & he has to make it worth it, which I do believe he will, as long as he can avoid the big hits & can get “skinny” when he needs to when going through the tackles & needing to bounce outside & getting out of bounds when he needs to.


I won’t talk about the Seattle Seahawks defense because we honestly know exactly what to expect from them each season. The unit remains mostly in tact & should be a force all over the field, making plays & frustrating teams, especially at Quest Field.

The Seahawks are looking like a 13-3 team & a team that is going to be a big factor in getting back into the SuperBowl. The Seahawks should have home field advantage, at least through the NFC Championship Game.



NFL, Xbox One Sale at Sports Fan Playground

At the Sports Fan Playground, our store currently has many items available at some of the lowest prices online. These items are apparel pieces from the NFL, Major League Baseball & items from our video game store for the Xbox One & Playstation 4.

Here are the items that are currently on sale this week at the Sports Fan Playground.

Batman: Arkham Knight – Xbox One – $38.00

Batman Arkham Knight

The new Batman: Arkham Knight game on Xbox One is on sale for $38.00 at Sports Fan Playground.

Xbox One Console – 500GB Edition

Xbox One Console

The Xbox One 500GB console is on sale for $319.99 at the Sports Fan Playground Xbox One area.

Peyton Manning Denver Broncos NFL Youth Jersey

Peyton Manning Jersey

The orange Peyton Manning Denver Broncos NFL youth jersey starts at $59.99 at the Sports Fan Playground store.

Dallas Cowboys NFL Street Sign – $2.86

Dallas Cowboys Sign

Dallas Cowboys NFL plastic street signs are available for $2.86 here at Sports Fan Playground.

NFL Men’s Basic T-Shirt – Starting at $9.00

NFL t-shirts

NFL basic t-shirts for men are available for all 32 NFL teams & are available at low prices at Sports Fan Playground.

NFL New England Patriots Full Sheet Set

New England Patriots NFL Bedding

NFL New England Patriots sheet set for full-size beds are available at Sports Fan Playground for $52.95.

Xbox One Wireless Controller – $31.96

Xbox One wireless controller

Xbox One wireless controllers for the Xbox One console on sale for $31.96, down from $49.99 at Sports Fan Playground.

Tom Brady New England Patriots NFL Jersey – $56.95

Tom Brady Jersey

New England Patriots Tom Brady NFL jerseys are availale as low as $56.95 here at Sports Fan Playground.


WWE Summerslam 2015 – First Preview

The biggest event of the summer is set & we are going to a tried & true matchup – Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar for the main event. The pieces were set in motion after WWE Battleground on Sunday night when Undertaker cost Lesnar the WWE World Heavyweight Championship during his match with Seth Rollins.

Many remember that Lesnar defeated the Undertaker at Wrestlemania XXX, thus ending Taker’s famed Wrestlemania streak, which was at 21-0. WWE is going back to the well & going back to the good money draw, which is always Lesnar & Taker. This is special for Undertaker especially because this will be the first Summerslam that Taker has participated in since Summerslam 2008 when he defeated WWE Hall-of-Famer Edge.

Brock Lesnar Undertaker Summerslam

Brock Lesnar will face The Undertaker in the main event of WWE Summerslam 2015.

WWE is clearly putting all of its chips on the table for this Summerslam weekend – having NXT Takeover: Brooklyn is the Saturday night before Summerslam with NXT being the hottest overall brand in the company because of the wrestling styles & having the top stars. Since Triple H has had much more of a say in the company in terms of booking & matches, he has been able to put his finger on what is clearly working.

Having Undertaker & Lesnar – while people may say that it shouldn’t be the main event because you are putting on part-time guys at the top of the card thus taking away from the up-and-coming stars, the idea is to push sales of the WWE Network & boost up subscriber numbers for the 3rd quarter, which will probably include a Stone Cold podcast special either right before or right after Summerslam on Monday night.

At this point, we know that Undertaker has only so many matches left in his WWE career & the fans realize this so it will be a real treat to have Undertaker at this event, especially since it looks as though he is going to work the heel to Lesnar’s face. It doesn’t sound like it would work, but if you watch how Undertaker was being so aggressive towards Lesnar when he interfered at Battleground, you realize that its a much different Taker than what was being seen at the past Wrestlemanias. Undertaker should avenge his loss to Lesnar here so that he looks strong in a potential match against Sting in Dallas at Wrestlemania 32, which WWE has been teasing as a big money match. Undertaker & Sting both have to look good going into Wrestlemania season, especially with trying to fill up at 100,000 seat stadium at AT&T Stadium, which looks to break the all-time indoor attendance record held by the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit for Wrestlemania III.

However, Undertaker/Lesnar won’t be the only big match on the card. For the first time in a long time, the WWE Divas are being heavily promoted as former NXT divas Charlotte, Becky Lynch & Sasha Banks all made their debuts in the last couple of weeks on Raw.  This is after the WWE Universe voices made themselves heard with the #givedivasachance campaign


NXT (now WWE) Diva Charlotte.

Becky Lynch

NXT (now WWE) diva Becky Lynch.

Sasha Banks

Sasha Banks, the NXT Women’s Champion.

Having the Divas so prominently focused in what will most likely be high-profile & well wrestled matches shows how far WWE has come in showing what these ladies can do inside the ring as well as outside. It shows that women can be beautiful but just as good performers as the male counterparts.

We will write more about Summerslam soon.


2015 NFL Team Preview – Detroit Lions

The 2015 Detroit Lions are a team that is truly a mystery going in. The team lost their best DT in many years in Ndamakung Suh, who signed in the offseason with the Miami Dolphins. The team also lost Reggie Bush to the San Francisco 49ers. But through those big losses, much of the core of the team is still coming into 2015 intact & should be able to build on the playoff run from last season.

Detroit Lions Offense

The offensive unit of the Lions should be one of the best in the NFL yet again. Matthew Stafford at quarterback is still one of the best weapons in the entire league, no matter what the ratings or experts say. The guy has a cannon for an arm & can make throws that many other QBs can’t even fathom making, especially into tight traffic windows.

Matthew Stafford

ESPN.com rated Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford as a second-tier QB. It is time to put up or shut up for the former #1 overall pick out of Georgia.

The team drafted speedy, shifty running back Ameer Abdullah out of Nebraska, who will be asked to replace Reggie Bush with his pass-catching ability out of the backfield. Abdullah will pair up with power back Joique Bell to form a 1-2 punch & give defenses honest, especially during play-action sequences where Stafford can really do damage.

The Lions are the most stacked at WR in a long time. Pro Bowler Calvin Johnson is still the #1, but injuries & age are starting to catch up with him, especially in the knees. Johnson has been incredibly consistent over the years, but Detroit fans have to realize that the ride can’t last forever. #2 receiver Golden Tate III, who the Lions signed last year in a free agent deal from Seattle,  has become the every down receiver, as he had over 100 catches last season, a personal record for him in the league. We saw what he could really do when he was in a pass-happy offense that valued getting the ball vertical, as opposed to the power style that is featured in his old team, the Seattle Seahawks.

It will be imperative for Stafford to become more efficient in getting rid of the ball quicker in the pocket to make sure the line can give him the 3-4 seconds he needs to find the big play down the field. To take care of this situation, the Lions drafted Laken Tomlinson from Duke, a player who can run block very well, but also is able to pass block with the best in college football. He may have a big of a learning curve, but in time, Tomlinson will be a stud guard in the league. Having Tomlinson should help with Stafford having more protection in the pocket, especially with the improvement of Riley Reiff on the line.

Last year’s #1 pick, Eric Ebron, has to step up & take the starting TE job from Brandon Pettigrew. Pettigrew has been a solid player & can be a big play target & safely blanket for Stafford, but his drops are what kills the Lions at the most pivotal times of the game. Ebron didn’t show much in his first year, but he was able to show some athletic ability & make some plays  downfield. If that can continue, the Lions could have either two big tight end targets to help Stafford or Ebron will be the #1 guy by midseason.

The offense will be okay with a close to 50/50 balance in running & throwing the football.

Detroit Lions Defense

This is the area where the Lions may be lacking in big ways. Losing Suh in free agency to the Dolphins will be a huge blow to the running game & even the passing game. Suh was a guy that teams had to gameplan for & put a guard & center over to his side, opening up lanes for linebackers & safeties playing in the box to blitz more & cause more chaos.

To replace Suh or…..better yet……..soften the blow that losing Suh brings, the team traded for Baltimore Ravens former all-pro Haloti Ngata. Ngata is as big as Suh, not as young & as fast, but can be very disruptive in stopping the run & taking on multiple linemen to allow the linebackers to run free, particularly if the team goes into a 3-4 defense, as opposed to the 4-3 the team has been running for several years.

The linebacker group looks as strong as it has ever been going into a season. Kyle Van Noy will be back from his injury & is a solid LB against the run & can defend the pass relatively well. Deandre Levy had a breakout year in 2014, having 117 tackles & assisted on 34 extra, working on the weakside. Stephen Tulloch will be back in at middle linebacker & hopefully recovered from his torn ACL after a celebration of a sack took him out for the season early in the year.

The secondary is headlined by Glover Quin & James Ihedigbo, two players who played Pro Bowl level at safety last year. Both guys were playmakers all season & when the Lions needed a big sack, or turnover, you normally saw those guys right in on the action.

The Lions resigned Matt Prater, the kicker who became the go-to guy after the team went through so many different guys trying to prove themselves to be worthy replacements for Jason Hanson. Prater isn’t the best kicker in the league, but he should be enough to where the team wouldn’t be afraid to go to him late in games.

The Lions look like a 10-6 ball club, could be better if Stafford shows more consistency & the running combination of Bell & Abdullah are average over 160 yards per game combined. They are still a year away from truly competing for a championship, but can definitely make a deep run in the NFC.



2015 NFL Team Preview – New England Patriots

The New England Patriots are coming off of another SuperBowl victory – their first since 2004. But this was a different championship to win. The team beat the Seattle Seahawks in SuperBowl 49 on one of the most talked about plays in the history of the NFL.

New England Patriots Tom Brady

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will be looking to make people pay for all of the talk about Deflategate this summer. I expect Brady to have a monster season, assuming that he doesn’t miss his full 4 games early in the year.

Even before that though, the Patriots were mired in controversy with what ended up becoming known as “deflategate,” the situation where it was alleged that Patriots QB & franchise player Tom Brady knew that footballs were being deflated by team staff in order to allow Brady to have a better grip on the football & be more accurate with passes.

As we write this, Brady is preparing to find out what is fate is in terms of a suspension or fine or both. The team opens the season on September 10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the annual NFL Kickoff game to salute the SuperBowl champions from the past season. While we all wait to find out what “Tom Terrific” is going to do or not do, we have to look at the season as a whole for the team.

New England Patriots 2015 Offense

The Patriots are always going to be a contender with Brady at the helm, but if he has to miss any games early, backup Jimmy Garoppolo will take over as the starter. Garoppalo has 2 complete seasons in the Patriots offense & from all accounts, he seems to be comfortable in the pocket & confident with the offensive unit as a whole.

As always, his job will be much easier when he has the best tight end in the NFL, Rob Gronkowski, as one of the most amazing safety blankets in the league. Gronk played a whole season healthy last year, & was able to continue to show why he has revolutionized the TE position. He can split out at the WR position, he is a complete mismatch for all defenders……..to fast for linebackers & corners & safeties can’t cover him one on one down the field.

Gronk should see more one-on-one matchups this year, however. The receiving core for the Patriots returns in tact & with another year of maturing & learning how to become even better playmakers, the Patriots are going to have a strong vertical passing game. Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola & Aaron Dobson give the Patriots a great deep game & with Edelman & Amendola, they can catch the slot pass & take it to the house on almost any play or place on the field. A sleeper in the wide receiver core is Devin Gardner. Gardner was brought in to be a wide receiver, which he played a bit of during his time at Michigan. Gardner is 6’4″, with experience at the position, & has the speed to take the top of the defense & jump for the 50/50 balls.

With the offensive line returning back mostly in tact, the protection in the pocket should be great for Jimmy or Tommy when they are at the quarterback position. The running game will be done by committee, with LeGarrette Blount getting a slight bit more of the share of carries.  If Brady is healthy through the entire season from the beginning & not suspended, the Patriots will go 12-4 & host a playoff game in Foxboro, just on the offense alone.

The team came to terms with the best kicker in the NFL in Stephen Gostowski so the special teams should be a positive in 2015.

New England Patriots 2015 Defense

This is the area that could be a question mark for the Patriots. They lost two great cornerstones of their SuperBowl-level defense this offseason – Darrelle Revis (signed with New York Jets) & Vince Wilfork (signed with Houston Texans). Revis was a true lockdown cornerback & took away half of the field each week & was normally paired up on the #1 receiver on each team. Revis showed that he still has energy & can still cover with the best in the league.

The Patriots will be able to still hang with some of the better defenses in the league, though. The team drafted heavily on defense this year, bringing in DT Malcolm Brown from Texas & in the safety area, using a draft pick on strong safety Jordan Richards from Stanford.

The defense will be anchored by three players, however, that can make an impact this year immediately – DE Chandler Jones, LB Donta Hightower & CB Devin McCourty. All three of these guys are veterans now & will be looked upon to be the leaders on the defensive unit & make sure the offense has the opportunities to put up tons of points, as last year, which it looks as though they will be up to the challenge. The first game against the Pittsburgh Steelers & their pass-happy (so weird saying that about the Steelers) offense added with the scrambling ability of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger.

New England Patriots Record Prediction

The Patriots should go 12-4 this year. The AFC East is still not where it needs to be to truly knock them off of their throne. They will get tested for the first time in many years, but if Tom Brady is there, or even when he comes back from whatever suspension he may get, he is coming for revenge against any & every team in the NFL, particularly in division. The Patriots will still make a deep run in the playoffs & should be the true favorite to come out of the AFC yet again for SuperBowl 50.



Hottest WAGS In Sports – Summer/Fall 2015 (NSFW)

It has been a while since Sports Fan Playground has had our WAGS list, but the hottest sports wives & girlfriends for summer & fall of 2015 list is here & it is our biggest list ever. We have worked to make sure that we included women from all sports & those from NFL, NHL, NCAA, NBA, WWE, UFC & other areas.

Some women may make the list again – but our staff worked to make sure that we include as many newcomers as absolutely possible. Also keep in mind that relationships come & go very often so some women may end up being former girlfriends or even mistresses of athletes. No matter whether a woman was on the list before or not, the goal is to get the hottest WAGS in all of sports as a whole & we feel as though we have accomplished this.

Without any more delay, let’s get to work on this fun & sexy list!

Jenna Renee Webb – Ex-Girlfriend of UFC Fighter Travis Browne

Jenna Renee Webb

Sexy blonde Jenna Renee Webb is the ex-girlfriend of UFC fighter Travis Browne.

Jenna Renee Webb

Jenna Renee Webb in blue.

Jenna Renee Webb Travis Browne

Jenna Renee Webb in a very, very skimpy bikini.

Jenna Jameson – Ex-wife of UFC Fighter Tito Ortiz

Jenna Jameson

Former adult porn star Jenna Jameson.

Jenna Jameson Tito Ortiz

Jenna Jameson is the ex-wife of UFC fighter & hall-of-famer Tito Ortiz.

Amanda Dufner – Ex-wife of golfer Jason Dufner; Reported Partner of Tiger Woods

Amanda Dufner

Amanda Dufner, ex-wife of golfer Jason Dufner.

Mindy Robinson – Randy Coulture’s Girlfriend

Mindy Robinson

Mindy Robinson is the girlfriend of UFC Hall-of-Famer Randy Coulture.

Brittney Palmer, Linked to UFC fighter Donald Cerrone; UFC Ring Girl

Brittney Palmer UFC

Brittney Palmer, UFC ring girl & at one time, dated UFC fighter Donald Cerrone.

Holly Madison – Ex-Girlfriend of UFC Fighter Josh Koscheck

Holly Madison

Former Playboy playmate Holly Madison once dated UFC fighter Josh Koscheck.

Amber Nichole Miller – Girlfriend of UFC Fighter Tito Ortiz

Amber Nichole Miller

Former UFC ring girl Amber Nichole Miller, current girlfriend of former UFC fighter Tito Ortiz.

Ariany Celeste – UFC Ring Girl; Girlfriend of Travis Barker

Ariany Celeste

Ariany Celeste, UFC ring girl & girlfriend of Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker.

Jayden James – Linked to UFC fighter Chuck Liddell

Jayden James

Porn star Jayden James was once linked to former UFC fighter & hall-of-famer Chuck Liddell.

Jayden James Chuck Liddell

Jayden James posing for a scene. In 2009, both James & Chuck Liddell both reportedly denied being linked together, despite other media reports.

Amy Schumer – Ex-girlfriend of WWE Superstar Dolph Ziggler

Amy Schumer

Amy Schumer, movie & comedy star, is the star of the new movie “Trainwreck,” & is also the ex-girlfriend of WWE superstar Dolph Ziggler.

Michelle McCool – Wife of WWE Legend The Undertaker

Michelle McCool

Michelle McCool is a former WWE Divas champion & is now the wife of WWE legend the Undertaker.

Ciara – Singer & Wife of Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson

Ciara Russell Wilson

R&B singer Ciara is the girlfriend of former SuperBowl champion & quarterback Russell Wilson

Galina Becker – Wife of WWE Superstar Roman Reigns

Galina Becker Roman Reigns

Galina Becker is the wife of WWE Superstar Roman Reigns.

Renee Young – Girlfriend of WWE Superstar Dean Ambrose

Renee Young

The beautiful WWE announcer Renee Young. Young has confirmed that she is dating WWE superstar Dean Ambrose.

Kelly Kelly – Former WWE Diva & Girlfriend of NHL player Sheldon Souray

Kelly Kelly

Kelly Kelly, former WWE Diva & girlfriend of NHL player Sheldon Souray.

Khloe Kardashian – Girlfriend of Houston Rockets James Harden

Khloe Kardashian

Khloe Kardashian is the new girlfriend of Houston Rockets guard James Harden.

Savannah Brinson James – Wife of Cleveland Cavs LeBron James

Savannah Brinson

Savannah Brinson is the wife of NBA superstar & Cleveland Cavs star LeBron James.

Caroline Wozniacki – Girlfriend of Houston Texans J.J. Watt

Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki is one of the best tennis players in the world & is now dating Houston Texans J.J. Watt.

Lisa Ann – Porn Star; Has Dated Many NBA Players

Lisa Ann

Former porn star Lisa Ann in her Sarah Palin look a-like apparel.

Lisa Ann XXX

More of Lisa Ann, who reportedly hooked up with Notre Dame WR Justin Brent earlier this season.

Lisa Ann Ass

Earlier this year, Lisa Ann posted an article about why she prefers to have sex with NBA players, which was one of the most revealing articles in recent memory in GQ.

Kim Kardashian (Married To NBA Player Kris Humphries & Dated NFL Player Reggie Bush)

Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian had a relationship with former USC & New Orleans Saints standout Reggie Bush.

Kim Kardashian Bikini

Kim Kardashian hanging out in her bikini. She was linked to former Brooklyn Nets NBA player Kris Humphries. The two were married for a very short amount of time.

Hope Solo (USA Goalkeeper; Wife of Former NFL TE Jeramy Stevens)

Hope Solo

Team USA World Cup winning goalie Hope Solo is married to former NFL TE Jeramy Stevens.

Hope Solo USA

Hope Solo looking beautiful in white.

Updated 7/23/15 – New additions to the ultimate WAGs list for summer/fall 2015!!

Katherine Webb – Wife of Cincinnati Bengals QB & Former Alabama QB A.J. McCarron

Katherine Webb

Katherine Webb is the wife of Cincinnati Bengals backup quarterback A.J. McCarron. Webb was featured prominently during McCarron’s last two seasons at Alabama after Brent Musburger pointed her out in the crowd.

Katherine Webb

Katherine Webb turned her overnight fame into appearances with ABC, ESPN & other top outlets.

Kate Upton – Girlfriend of Detroit Tigers Pitcher Justin Verlander

Kate Upton

Kate Upton is one of the most beautiful models & actresses in the world. She has been featured in several movies with the likes of Cameron Diaz & Leslie Mann & has also been featured in Game of War ads.

Kate Upton Justin Verlander

Kate Upton has been dating Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander for the last several years, though if you ask Detroit Tigers fans…..she has possibly been the reason Verlander can’t focus.

Gabrielle Union – Wife of Miami Heat Guard Dwyane Wade

Gabrielle Union

Model & actress Gabrielle Union is one of the hottest women in the world. But sorry guys, the beautiful star is married to Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade.

Gabrielle Union

Gabrielle Union is currently the star of the BET series, “Being Mary Jane.” She has appeared in major films such as Bad Boys II where she played Martin Lawrence’s sister.

Kim Dejesus – Wife of MLB Player David Dejesus

Kim DeJesus

Kim Dejesus is the wife of MLB player David Dejesus. She is a first-timer on our list.

Kim Dejesus

Kim Dejesus has come on the scene lately for her beautiful looks & sexy photos from Instagram.

Charissa Thompson – Girlfriend of Former Bulls Guard & ESPN Analyst Jay Williams

Charissa Thompson

Charissa Thompson is a reporter at Fox Sports 1 as well as Access Hollywood.

Charissa Thompson

That’s all for this list. If you would like to see some of our other lists, please click on the links above in the category “Hottest Women in Sports.”

We will see you later this year for our winter edition!


NBA Free Agency Review 2015

The main part of the NBA Free Agency season for 2015 has come & gone & as usual, the NBA always gives us some fireworks during the free agency season. This year, the contracts were completely different. Mid-level guys who have no business making the money that they are are going to get $60 million just because they are just functional enough to look like an NBA player & not your typical 6th grader who can barely play defense or shoot a free throw…..but I digress.

The reason for the big salaries is the new TV deal that the league signed with ESPN & TNT that will kick in next season & will give teams millions of dollars of extra spending money & a higher cap ceiling. This spending didn’t necessarily help out all teams, however.

This piece, however, will break down the most important signings of the NBA free agency period.

The Mavericks were treated like that other woman who you want to kinda date but not really have a relationship with by DeAndre Jordan, who went back to his old love flame, the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers, a team who Jordan reportedly wanted to leave behind in the rear-view mirror because he didn’t like to play & get along with Chris Paul because Paul wants to do something that is obviously frowned upon in sports…….win. Paul held Jordan accountable for being a complete offensive liability & didn’t seem to want to have Jordan back in the middle & Jordan felt that he should see if the grass is really greener on the other side.

But alas………..he went to that other side, to that sexy woman – the Mavericks – who you think might be the one & is looking out for you in all ways & is going to show you how much love you really deserve. But wait……Jordan learned that there is some baggage in that potential relationship. The Mavericks really don’t have a lot of pieces there other than Dirk Nowitzki, who is barely hanging on at this point. Still a good player, but not on the level he was at even in 2013 & definitely not where he was when the Mavs won the NBA Championship in 2011.

Enough railing on DeAndre Jordan though…….I want to look at some of the other free agency deals around the league & break those down.

LeBron James Resigns With Cleveland Cavs

The top player/coach in NBA history – LeBron James – resigned with his hometown franchise (as if he had any type of choice whatsoever) Cleveland Cavaliers on a 2 year deal, which is really a one-year deal & a player option on the second year, where he could become a free agent yet again. LeBron is putting himself in position to be a $50 million a year player when the new TV money comes in next year & at this point in his career, LeBron wants to make sure the Cavs are putting together a winning roster & holding Dan Gilbert to the fire a bit after Gilbert completely disrespected him after James made his initial “decision” in 2010 to go play for the Miami Heat. Gilbert made sure to write that James wouldn’t get a championship before the Cavs did.

LeBron James

LeBron James is always the biggest free agent to resign with his team, even if we all knew it was going to happen. James always wants to make sure the Cavs are in the best position to win.

Fast forwards………Cavs were in last place after James left & LeBron went to the Finals all 4 years he was in Miami & won the NBA Championship in 2012 & 2013.

Not much to say about this move except that James is pretty much the entire franchise & that anytime the Cavs even think that James may leave, the Cavs organization needs to bend over completely backwards, forwards or any other position he would want them to bend in. James has made that franchise worth well over a billion dollars just with him signing back in Cleveland & when he wasn’t in Cleveland, the franchise was worth have of that.

Kevin Love Resigns With Cleveland Cavs.

The Cavs showed that they were determined to stay in the NBA Championship hunt early on in free agency when they found that Kevin Love was going to resign with the Cavs at the 5 year, $110 million dollar max contract. Love, who was injured much of last season & didn’t find his rhythm in the offense until late in the year, is going to be a key person in the Cavs getting back to the NBA Finals & actually winning the title.

Kevin Love

Power forward Kevin Love is looking to get back to the NBA Finals with the Cavs & finally win an NBA Championship to go along with a stellar career statistically so far.

In the NBA Finals, when Kyrie Irving went down with his foot injury, the team didn’t have another true scorer to help LeBron against the on-slaught of three’s & tough inside play from Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes & others. Love will give Cleveland that strong play on the inside & on the perimeter, he is dangerous from three-point range & his passing is the stuff of legends. A healthy Love can end up being major hate from the rest of the NBA in 2015-16.

LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan & Manu Ginobili All Resign With San Antonio Spurs.

The more that the league changes, the more that the Spurs increase their dominance in the NBA. When we last saw the Spurs, we saw them losing a heartbreaking game 7 to the Los Angeles Clippers on the night of Mayweather vs Pacquiao (May 2). The team looked as though the run was finally completed & possibly the era of the Spurs dominance would take a backseat to a rebuilding period.

LaMarcus Aldridge Spurs

NBA, get a great look at this picture. This is going to be the best duo in the league next season – Tim Duncan & newest Spur LaMarcus Aldridge.

Don’t tell that to Gregg Popovich or Spurs General Manager R.C Buford.

The Spurs go out & land the best big man available on the market in former Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge & sign him to a 4-year, $80 million deal. Days before, the team announced that future Hall-of-Famer Tim Duncan is resigning with the Spurs for his 19th season. Duncan looked like he hadn’t lost a step last season & Popovich used him the perfect way in making sure he was fresh down the stretch & is ready to perform in the playoffs, which he did.

Having Duncan paired up with Aldridge in a twin towers scenario is similar to how David Robinson mentored Tim Duncan & taught him how to win. Duncan will do the same with Aldridge & will have an easier time working with him, especially because Aldridge has proven himself in the league but is coming into his own right now as a true elite player at the forward position in the NBA. Having that veteran leadership & that valuable teaching from Popovich, Duncan, Ginobili & others will only help Aldridge become the cornerstone of the Spurs to go along with Kawhi Leonard, who also received a max contract this offseason.

The Spurs are looking as though they will be the #1 team in the Western Conference this coming season & its not close. Golden State got stronger with bringing back Draymond Green, but no other team in the west truly got much better through adding talent more than the Spurs, who weren’t bad coming into free agency.

The return of Manu Ginobili will be helpful for Leonard & for the bench to be strong again, as Ginobili has become one of the best 6th men in all of the league. With his unorthodox European style of basketball play, Manu is looking to go out in his final NBA seasons in style & with more championships.

Los Angeles Clippers Sign Paul Pierce, Josh Smith & Lance Stephenson & DeAndre Jordan

While the Clippers did beat the Spurs in the first round of the NBA playoffs, the team still didn’t get past the second round, losing a 3-1 series lead to the Houston Rockets. That type of loss in a series shows a lack of leadership & no one to really stop the sinking ship.

(I promise I will not pick on DeAndre Jordan in this piece.)

Head coach Doc Rivers is one of the most respected coaches in the league & has strong superstars around him in Chris Paul & Blake Griffin, but the Clippers needed toughness & a bit of nasty with them. So the team signed Paul Pierce, who played under Rivers in Boston during their NBA Championship run in 2008 & their playoff runs through 2012. Pierce will give that championship leadership on the court & that tough defense & clutch shooting down the stretch in games. He isn’t there to give 20 points a night anymore but in the playoffs & in the 4th quarter, there are few players more dangerous than Pierce, especially now with all of the talent that will be around him to not always show that he is the main option.

In Lance Stephenson, the team gets a tough, rugged defender that isn’t afraid to mix it up & be a tough guy. Stephenson is a bit of a throwback to the 80s in the sense that he is not afraid to get in someone’s face & really make sure that he is shown & known to the offensive player that he won’t get any easy shots for 4 quarters.  Stephenson is an instant upgrade on a defense that has been considered very soft for many years now & with Jordan manning the middle & Stephenson on the perimeter & having Paul be an average to above-average defensive player, the Clippers have a strong, solid base to compete in a deep western conference & having those veterans who know how to play in clutch situations will be the Clippers best chance to overtake the NBA Champion Warriors & perennial contenders the Spurs.

In Josh Smith, the Clippers get another shooter to go along with J.J. Redick, which is important in the playoff run. At this point in his career, we all know what Smith is – a 6’10” three-point guy. He will not be a guy who is going to go down low & really try to get to the free throw line often, especially because he is terrible as a free throw shooter. Smith will be good in doses though, especially coming off the bench & with Jamal Crawford, giving the Clippers one of the most explosive bench units in the league.