It’s a sad day for Water Cooler Talk. We had to watch the 2015 MLB season come to an end on Sunday night (or Monday morning rather). Today marks the official halfway mark in the regular season of the NFL…weren’t we just getting excited for the preseason? Water Cooler Talk was right on some predictions…but the guilt felt for missing on others weights heavily. Let’s try to turn those frowns upside down, and let’s get Water Cooler Talk on the right track for this week as we prepare you to be the sports guru of the office.
The series didn’t go seven games as I predicted and Lorenzo Cain didn’t win the MVP despite a phenomenal performance in game five. The bullpens for both sides were the difference, and the Mets were on the losing end of that prediction. Games 1, 4, and 5 were blown by the Mets, but give credit to the Royals, they made opportunities happen when the chances arose.
The Royals just seemed destined to win it all this season after what happened to them last year in the World Series, and after 30 years of waiting, that organization and that patient fan base can now call themselves champions. Now we can look forward to free agency and wonder what will happen with Johnny Cueto. The Royals need an “A” starter on their squad, but the question is whether they’ll be big spenders. I know the Royals would like to have Cueto back rather than just having him as a three-month rental. Expect a signing to happen at the Winter Meetings.
Credit has to be given to the Mets as well. No one expected them to win the NL East and no one gave them a chance against the Dodgers in the NLDS. The front office made the right moves during the season to bolster their bench with Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson, and of course made the big splash by acquiring Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline. The rebuilding is complete and now it’s time to spend money. Cespedes and Daniel Murphy are free agents, both of which should be priority 1A and 1B to keep on the squad. The Mets should also look to upgrade the bullpen as they need arms that can solidify the 7th and 8th innings and they could probably use a shortstop. The starting rotation is set for at least the next four years, so the organization can build around that and have little doubt of contending for the NL East crown during that stretch.
I haven’t given much attention to this sport despite being in the playoff season, and for that I apologize. I’ve failed to mention the drama since the Chase began…until now. Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth got together for the third straight week, resulting in Logano desperately needing a win or top-five finishes in the next two races to compete for the crown at Homestead. Would Logano have won if this incident didn’t occur? It’s hard to say. Jeff Gordon was solid as he usually is at Martinsville, and ultimately did win which assures him he’ll contend for the title at Homestead in the finale.
The drama is exciting for fans like myself and helps with ticket sales and TV ratings. However, a line must be drawn somewhere. If Kenseth isn’t parked for Texas this week I’d be surprised.
Temple held their own on Saturday as they hosted Notre Dame, a game which surprised the “experts”, but not me. I thought Temple would win by two, but lost by four. Still, it’s nice to see small schools contend with the “big boys” of college football and I expect the Owls to win out and contend for a bid in a major bowl. Then there’s the Tar Heels of UNC, who jumped into the AP Top 25 after their defeat of Pitt. The ACC race is getting exciting…and no one is talking about it.
Speaking of an exciting ACC, did you see what happened between Miami-Duke? The officiating crew has been suspended, but if you ask me that crew should never officiate in the ACC again. Perhaps the Southern Conference would be a fitting conference for that crew (and that is not a knock on the SoCon…I’m just speaking hypothetically).
The game to watch for this week is LSU-Alabama. The 7th ranked Tigers and the 4th ranked Crimson Tide look to secure their spot in the SEC Championship game this week. Bama has no chance with a loss since they lost to Ole Miss earlier in the season. LSU and Bama have had fantastic battles over the last several years and I expect the same for Saturday night. I give LSU the edge because they can control the clock with Leonard Fournette in the backfield and they have the better defense. LSU wins 28-21.
Was I wrong about the Packers-Broncos game or what? Of course I wasn’t the only one, as everyone expected the Packers to win outside of the state of Colorado. That defense is legit, so legit that Aaron Rodgers was held to 77 yards passing…the entire game! Peyton threw for 340 yards and Demaryius Thomas looked like DT again with 8 for 168. The Broncos should cruise to week 12 when they face the Patriots.
It was a rough Sunday for Steelers Nation. First, they watched Le’Veon Bell get carted off the field with what is now a torn MCL, finishing his season. Then they had to watch the Bengals come from behind to win 16-10, which pretty much wraps up the AFC North. I know it’s only week 9, but let’s face it…that division is locked.
We may have seen the end of Steve Smith after he tore his Achilles on Sunday, which ends his retirement season. As a huge fan of Smitty, I hate to see this happen to him. Will 2015 really be his last season? It’s tough for anyone to come back from this injury, let alone a 36-year old player. But if anyone can do it, it’s Smitty, and I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he ‘Iced Up Son’ and came back for a 16-game farewell campaign in 2016.
Scoring is what the fans want, that’s what I’ve heard for years anyway. Well they got it on Sunday when the Saints and Giants left their defenses in the locker room, as the Saints won the game 52-49. Drew Brees had 7 TD passes while Eli Manning had 6. Call me old school, but I like defense and don’t care to see triple-digit points put up in a game.
For the first 50 minutes of the game there wasn’t much to talk about except how the torrential downpour made both teams sloppy. It was those final 20 minutes that are worth talking about between the Colts and Panthers on Monday Night Football. Andrew Luck and the Colts looked awful offensively through three quarters, with Luck throwing 2 INTs and losing a fumble while throwing for less than 90 yards. Then when the Panthers took a 23-6 lead, the Andrew Luck we know and love showed up and made the comeback to force overtime. After exchanging field goals on the opening possessions, Luck threw his third pick which let Graham Gano kick the game-winning 52-yard field goal to keep the Panthers undefeated at 7-0.
The Colts did make a miraculous comeback by opening up the field and wearing down a thin defensive line for the Panthers. But the other story of this game was the awful officiating. They missed offensive pass interference on Andre Johnson in the 4th quarter when he scored a touchdown, called Greg Olsen for a hold that didn’t happen, marked Griff Whalen out of bounds when he was inbounds on the Colts last drive of the 4th quarter, and those are just the big calls. Trust me…there were more. That officiating crew will not be at Super Bowl 50.
Now I look ahead to Week 9 and the intriguing matchups just aren’t there this week. There is however the Packers and Panthers which should be an exciting matchup. Both teams have injuries, the Packers have linebacker and secondary issues while the Panthers have offensive and defensive line issues. The Packers haven’t lost to Cam Newton since coming into the league in 2011, until this week. Carolina moves to 8-0 with a 27-21 win.
That’s all for this week. Be sure to follow me on Twitter to share your thoughts and to send those pictures of you standing around the water cooler talking to your co-workers. Have a great week everyone.