Thursday, June 12, 2014

2014 World Cup

Admission: I'm not a big soccer, er..., futbol guy. That said, I find the World Cup immensely entertaining for various reasons. The somewhat bracket format has a March Madness feel and there are always sports books eager to take action on individual games as well as the entire tournament.

All in all the World Cup has become a must-see at the Mackinder household.

Here's my best crack at predicting the this year's results in Brazil. (GO ARGENTINA?)

Let the games begin!

[UPDATE] - Here's a great interactive infographic via that breaks down each country's odds of advancing at the World Cup:

Friday, May 9, 2014

CHART: 2014 Draft Needs of Every NFL Team

Pro Football Focus (@PFF) always does an excellent job with all things NFL related. One of their great tools for use during this year's NFL Draft was the offensive and defensive starting 22 for all teams color coded with the replacement/upgrade need at every position. It's broken down by division.

I'll lead off with the NFC North and then the rest of the NFC before the four division in the AFC. Enjoy.

Eric Ebron?

Like clockwork the Lions disappointed their fans again by ignoring many needs and taking another "offensive weapon" in the first round.

Eric Ebron is the best tight end in this draft - by far - but that doesn't mean he's a good draft pick. If the Lions had an average back seven and needed offensive help then the pick isn't terrible. (Some would argue, and I'm one of those people, that taking a tight end in the Top 10 and even the first round doesn't make sense). He has good measurables (6-foot-4, 245 pounds) but he's not what Detroit needs.

The newest "offensive weapon" for the Detroit Lions - TE Eric Ebron.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

2014 NFL Draft Needs: The Detroit Lions

For the second-straight year (and ninth time in 14 seasons) the Lions have a Top 10 pick in the NFL Draft. You would think a team with the practice of picking high in the draft would get it right, wouldn't you? Of course, it could be argued there is a reason the Lions pick early in most years.

It's why I think the team takes a big leap this season as long as the draft yields some of those necessary pieces.

There is your basic Lions draft board with no original fourth rounder but added compensatory picks at the end of the fourth and seventh rounds, respectively.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

FINAL 2014 NFL Mock Draft

Jadeveon Clowney's unblocked hit against Michigan's
Devin Smith in the 2013 Capital One Bowl was only the
beginning of his rise to the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft.
Believe it or not the excitement towards this year's NFL Draft doesn't quite seem to be at the fever pitch of previous years. The only explanation - this is the NFL of course - is the draft being pushed back a few weeks into May.

The delay gives teams a little more (necessary?) time to vet potential draft picks and to study film but it unfortunately has draft talk shoved down NFL fans' throats for an additional two weeks. At some point even the NFL can be ad nauseam, right?

This all being said, Thursday will still be another banner day in the NFL. Ratings will soar and there will be no less intrigue than in previous NFL Drafts.

The only certainty - and it's very debatable calling this a certainty - is that Jadeveon Clowney will be the No. 1 overall pick. (That seems to be true whether Houston keeps the selection or if another team such as Atlanta trades up). Other near certainties are Sammy Watkins being the No. 1 WR off the board and Khalil Mack being the first linebacker picked. Other than those listed above everything is a complete crap shoot.

Here's my final mock draft, derived from talking with people in the know and gathering information to the best of my knowledge. Chances are, like everyone else making mock drafts, I was breathing too much smoke.

No RBs, again? Last year was the first since 1963 that no running backs were picked in the first round. (Giovani Bernard was the first RB picked, coming off the board at No. 37 to the Cincinnati Bengals).

Big Ten gets back in Round 1: 2013 was the first year since 1953 that no Big Ten players were selected in Round 1. It seems a lock that Michigan's Taylor Lewan and Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard will go in the first round this year (as well as Ohio State's Bradley Roby and Ryan Shazier). Even Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman has been in many first round mocks as he is here.

Previous Mock Drafts: 2013 , 2012

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Egg Beaters: A History

2013 Finals: While technically both Chris' eggs, Nick held the
"UPS" egg while Chris held the winning "#2" egg. 
[UPDATE - April 18, 2014 - with 2014 Bracket and results at bottom]

For as long as I can remember we've cracked or "shucked" eggs at Easter Dinner. We would say, "Christos Anesti" (Christ Is Risen) followed by "Alithos Anesti" (Truly He Is Risen) before hitting eggs with one another.

Being as competitive as I am and with Easter Sunday typically falling around March Madness I found that it made perfect sense to create an Egg Brackets.

In 2009, the annual Egg Beaters Tournament was born.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

National Championship Defensive Score Sheet: Connecticut 60, Kentucky 54

UConn, your 2014 NCAA National Champions. (Sporting News)

Chalk up another victory for those "defense wins championships" people. Led by scrappy guard play on both ends of the floor the 7th-seeded Huskies defeated the 8th-seeded Wildcats for the 2014 NCAA National Championship.

This was the third game in a row I charted both UConn's and Kentucky's defense. And for the third straight game the Huskies' defensive numbers were off the charts while Kentucky proved it was trying (or only could) win via its offense.

In the end the defense prevailed thanks to a pair of incredible defensive performances by Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier.

Here's the Defensive Score Sheet from the 2014 national title game: