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Five biggest 'posers' in American professional sports

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

By Ryan Decker of Now On Deck.

Professional sports give us a few basic things every year, no matter the sport.

A villan – normally the team every other team is trying to beat, or the team with the biggest attitude. The contenders – the teams with the best chance at winning their league’s title. The non-contender and basement dwellers – the teams that definitely aren’t making the playoffs that season. And the posers – the teams that analysts say that can make some noise, but never do.

The villan, the contenders and basement dwellers normally change year to year. Sure some teams stay in their classification longer than others, but a lot of teams stay in a revolving door of classification.

Posers are different. Posers stay in their lane for a few years, sometimes even up to a decade. They’re fun to poke fun at, but generally speaking, are actually kind of annoying.

They muddy up the divide between, depending on the level of poser-ing they’re at, villan and contender, or between contender and basement dweller.

What teams in pro sports are muddying up the divide the most? Which teams are the biggest posers?

Honorable mention

Seattle Mariners

Washington Redskins

5. Dallas Cowboys

And a hush falls over the crowd.

How are the Dallas Cowboys posers? They were just an Aaron Rodgers-led drive away from going to the NFC Championship Game. How dare you?

Yeah, you’re right. They Cowboys were just an Aaron Rodgers-led drive away from going to the NFC Championship Game. Which is exactly why they are posers.

Sure, Dallas went 13-3 in the regular season, the team’s best mark since 2007. However, after a first round bye the ‘Boys looked no better than the four-seeded Green Bay Packers, which were a game away from being a Wild Card team.

And it’s those same Packers than you can easily make the argument that never should’ve beaten Dallas in the playoffs. Let’s not mix words, this wasn’t a Packers team destined to win a championship. Dallas, given the regular season it had, should’ve won by at least a touchdown.

The defense that gave up the aforementioned Rodgers-led drive late in the fourth quarter ranked 26th in the NFL in passing yards given up per game. Dallas’ defense, which got praised more and more as the season progressed as continuing to get better, never got better defending the pass.

Also, there’s a little thing called a sophomore slump. And Dallas’ two more important players will both be entering their sophomore years in the league this fall.

When Dallas has been as consistently average as it has been over the last nearly two decades – a winning season one year, a bad losing season shortly after with an 8-8 campaign somewhere close by – I’m not ready to say the Cowboys are a sure thing for 2017.

4. New York Knicks

Dear Santa,

All I want for Christmas this year is for everyone to stop treating the Knick like a glorious organization.

Sincerely,

Ryan

Historically speaking, the Knicks are an average franchise. New York entered this season with an all-time win percentage below .500, has endured a losing season 12 out of the last 15 years and is well on its way to another let down year this season.

Historically speaking, what happened last week between owner James Dolan and former Knick Charles Oakley is one of the more embarrassing things to happen in the NBA during the 21st century.

We use this saying a lot of times in sports, “Things like this only happen to bad teams,” and there’s no better way to describe the incident, and practically the entire Carmelo Anthony era in NY, better than that. Things like that only fail or happen at all on bad teams and bad organizations.

Enter the New York Knicks.

While plenty of other teams in similar markets – the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat – have been able to bring superstars together to compete for and win a championship since Anthony has been in New York, the Knicks have failed to make it past the second round of the playoffs (and that’s if they even qualify).

Once again this year, the Knicks were pegged as a team that should make the playoffs. Instead, Dolan and company are nearly a lock to be part of the NBA Draft lottery.

The Knicks don’t deserve The Garden, and if they were actually any good they’d be higher up on this list.

3. Washington Nationals

The Nationals have finished either first or second in the NL East each of the past five years, and will likely do it again this coming season.

Two years ago, they assembled what at the time looked like possibly the best rotation ever of Max Scherzer, Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister and Gio Gonzalez.

Washington has one of the most popular players in baseball in Bryce Harper.

And what have they done? …… Nothing!

A trio of bow outs in the NLDS.

But oh boy, twice the manager has been Manager of the Year, Harper was Rookie of the Year and Scherzer won a Cy Young Award.

Once again, the Nats will likely win the NL East in 2017. Only really the Mets stand in their way.

And once again, they’ll likely make a first-round exit from the playoffs.

There’s a reason the growing opinion in baseball is that Harper won’t be back when his contract expires in two years. Not because of the money (although it’s a LARGE factor) but because he wants to get a ring. And it’s not happening in Washington.

2. Toronto Raptors

I’m done thinking that this is the Raptors year. I’m done with it.

We as basketball fans have been led down this train of thought for the last two or three years and we’ve basically gotten the same result every time.

The current makeup of this team is not of one that can beat the Cavaliers in a seven-game series. Nor do I think they’d beat Boston in a series, and I think the Wizards would also beat them.

Since Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have gotten together in Toronto for the 2012-2013 season the Raptors have: missed the playoffs, suffered back to back first round exits including being swept, and then took advantage of one of the easiest routes to a conference finals ever and then got wrecked by the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals.

And then they got arguably worse in the offseason.

To me, at best they’re the 4th best team in the East, and I’m not buying them at all as a team that could make the Finals.

Even the recent addition of Serge Ibaka doesn’t propel the Raptors to any higher than second-best in the East.

At least Toronto can say it only has one superstar-caliber player is DeRozan. This next team doesn’t have that same excuse.

1. Los Angeles Clippers

Ever since the Clippers Big 3 of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan was assembled in the 2011-2012 season, the Clippers have been picked to be the team that can contend with whatever team is the top team in the West.

And every year, they’ve underachieved.

The best LA has finished is 3rd in the West, and they’ve never made it past the second round of the playoffs.

As a franchise, the Clippers have never been to the conference finals, let alone the NBA Finals.

A couple things to also consider:

1. This team still has to hang selfies instead of banners. If that doesn’t scream poser to you, you’re either a life-long Clippers fan, or just haven’t been paying attention.

2. The Clippers franchise has a .395 winning percentage. Entering this year they had 800 more losses than wins. I know we’re in a time period where title droughts go to die, but let’s stay within reason

. This isn’t a championship team.

Currently battling for fourth place in the West with the Utah Jazz, there’s no way the Clippers are going to the NBA Finals. But that doesn’t mean analysts won’t pick them to be a team to watch out for in the playoffs.

Sure, we can watch LA. For the first round. After that, they’ll be watching with us.

Make sure to listen to Thursday’s episode of Moose-Talkas, presented by U-92, as Joel Norman and I will be going through our list of the five biggest posers in pro sports.


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Simple solution for the Cavs

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

By Ryan Decker of Now On Deck.

Cleveland Cavaliers (36-16) head coach Tyronn Lue hinted to the media prior to his team’s game in Oklahoma City Thursday night that he might rest all three members of the Cavs’ Big 3.

All three – LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love – played in the nine-point loss to the Thunder, amid national scrutiny of resting players for big, marque games.

Getting more rest this season has been something that James himself has talked plenty about, but hasn’t been able to get.

Well Cleveland, there’s a simple solution to all of your problems.

Even though just 32-years old, James is in his fourteenth season in the NBA.

He’s been to each of the last six NBA Finals, and barring an enormous upset, will play in the seventh straight this summer.

En route to yet another chance to play for a title in the Association, James has been vocal this season about two things: him playing fewer minutes, and his team getting another playmaker. In both instances, LeBron hasn’t gotten what he’s hoped for to this point.

While bringing another playmaker to the Cavs is complicated, figuring out a way for James to rest his body prior to the postseason has a fairly simple solution.

That solution – get off to better starts.

Graphic created by Ryan Decker

Cleveland has played 20 games since January 1, playing to just an 11-9 record after struggling mightily in the first month of the new year.

During those twenty games, Cleveland only outscored its opponents by a total of 27 points, or an average of just over 1.3 points per game. Over that same time period, not only were the final scores close, but the score heading into halftime were even closer.

The Cavs led by just a combined 12 points at the break during the twenty-game stretch, or by less than one point per game.

These close games, many of which were played against teams with losing records, forced James to be on the court longer than he should be.

In Cleveland’s 13 games against teams with losing records, including four games against the two worst teams in basketball – the Brooklyn Nets and Phoenix Suns –, the Cavs only managed to outscore opponents by 3.7 points per game and less than five points per contest heading into halftime.

In James and company’s seven other games against teams with above-.500 records during the stretch, the Cavs are actually getting outscored, on average. And with the Cavs trailing for much of those games, it’s forced James to be on the floor for close to 40 minutes per game.

Cleveland may have the best record in the Eastern Conference y 2.5 games, or the fourth-best record in all of the NBA, but its struggles since the start of 2017 have been well documented.

James is averaging 37.7 minutes per game this season, which even though is his fourth-fewest of his career, is the most since his return to Cleveland two seasons ago.

It might be harder than it sounds, but a simple solution to the Cavs problems and James’ desire to spend less time on the court is to get off to better starts while he’s on it in the opening two quarters.

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Super Bowl LI: Fact or Fiction

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

By Ryan Decker of Now On Deck.

Super Bowl 51 Sunday night was truly one for the ages.

Some are calling it the best Super Bowl in the game’s history.

Obviously that’s up for interpretation, but there were a few things that happened Sunday night that have been the subject of some debate, including on Monday’s episode of Moose-Talkas presented by U-92, like whether or not the New England Patriots’ comeback was the best of all-time, and whether someone in the Atlanta Falcons front office jinxed the team.

Below are four of the biggest reactions from Super Bowl 51, as I put some truth to the matter in fact or fiction.

Pats comeback greatest in SB history

Fact: At the simplest level, the fact that the Patriots 25 point deficit was 2 ½ times larger than any deficit that had ever been successfully erased in the 51-year history of the game proves what Tom Brady and company did in the second half was special.

Then you add in the fact that Matt Ryan and the Falcons had looked like one of the best offenses the NFL postseason had ever seen through their first 10 quarters of the playoffs, and it only further validates the statement.

Not to mention that analytics only gave New England a 0.5 percent chance to win midway through the third.

Atlanta blowing its lead is worse than the Warriors or Indians

Fiction: Yes, the Falcons had a 99.5 percent chance to win the game with 20 minutes to go.

Yes, Atlanta gave up the largest lead in Super Bowl history. I’ll give you that.

But to say that Atlanta losing one game is worse than Golden State or Cleveland failing to win one of three games is silly.

The Patriots, like the Cubs, went into the game (or series) as the favorite to win. They were supposed to win. New England was appearing in its seventh Super Bowl since the turn of the century, whereas the Falcons hadn’t been in the NFL championship game since the author was two-years-old.

Atlanta also has one of the youngest defenses in the league, starting seven players in either their first or second year in the NFL, meaning the veteran Brady was bound to find the weakness.

Most importantly, it was just one game. Both the Warriors and the Indians had three games (and home field/court advantage) to get it done.

In terms of “choke jobs” done in recent history, Atlanta’s, though bad, isn’t nearly as embarrassing as the other two mentioned.

Arthur Blank jinxed his own team

Fiction: If you watched the end of the game Sunday night, you likely saw the camera cut to a dejected Falcons owner, Arthur Blank, on the Atlanta sideline along with his wife.

For the average fan, it looked like a bad omen. The owner’s not supposed to head down to the field before the game is truly over, right?

Well, even though some began pointing fingers at Blank as a possible reason for the loss, Falcons fans know that Blank is a regular for heading to the sideline prior to the end of the game. So no matter how bad it looked on the telecast, he technically didn’t jinx the team since he has been doing it all season.

Atlanta was the No. 2 seed in the NFC and was on a roll in the playoffs after all. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Julio Jones is currently the best WR in football

Neither: With as many extremely talented wideouts that are in the NFL today, this is too hard to definitively say.

In my opinion, though, it’s a two-horse race between Julio Jones and the Steelers Antonio Brown for best in the league.

They both do some things better than the other looking at them head to head, but at least for now, I think you have to give the nod to Julio, if for nothing else, just look at this grab.


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