After an unscheduled week off, our co-hosts are back in action this week to decipher and debunk the latest and greatest sports mysteries. With the NFL officially in the second half of the season and the NBA sprinting toward the end of the “soft launch” before the league officially kicks off on 12/25/18, games and expectations are heating up for the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle Seahawks.
Since we like to see brains melt before our eyes as knee-jerk reactions are taken as permanent testaments to a person’s credibility, the co-hosts of Fireside Sports – Bryant Knox and Casey Mabbott – will be subjected to a five question lightning round. And after their responses are immortalized in print, they will be forced to defend or explain their answers live and on the air on their weekly show.
This week’s questions and their answers are below. Feel free to submit questions to their producer firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow our fearless contestants on twitter – @bryantknox and @oregonsportsguy
- Portland is 10-3 after beating Boston on Sunday. Starting on Wednesday, they kick off a six game road trip over the next two weeks, how do you expect them to fare?
(CM) Say you’re going on a trip for the next two weeks, across the country, with stops in two different time zones, then back across those time zones, with a minimum of 6 flights. Do you really expect to be at your best? And did I mention you need to practice for and compete against professional athletes? As good as the Blazers have been, they are going to drop two of these minimum. I think 4-2 is the best we can expect, especially with a major holiday right in the thick of it.
(BK) How hot are the Trail Blazers to start the season? Let’s just say it’s time to stop measuring them in terms of wins and losses and switch to the Scoville scale. But let’s be real: Portland can’t keep this up forever. So far, the Blazers have played nine of their first 13 games at home. They’ve only had to hit the road once, making this next trip only the second real test of the young season. Portland should find easy wins against the Jimmy Butler-less Timberwolves, Kristaps Porzingis-less Knicks and overall lifeless WIzards. However, Milwaukee will be out for revenge, Golden State at Oracle will be a reality check and despite the Lakers’ rough start, you can’t count out LeBron James on national TV. I’m going to call this a 3-3 road trip, but the team could prove me wrong against the Lakers and go 4-2, which would be a huge win before heading back to Moda.
- Seattle again lost a heartbreaker to the Rams, this seems to be their MO against quality opponents. With a tough second half schedule, do you expect them to shrug this off or does this spell danger the rest of the way?
(CM) They have a couple of “gimme” games in the division over the next seven, but most of the remaining games will be tough matchups against contenders that mean business. If they can win half of those they will be in good shape, and even though more than half are at home this could be tough. They were a fun surprise in the first half but I think we will see them start to back off as the season closes out and the true contenders seperate themselves from the pack. It’s a stacked conference so even if they get to 9-7 I don’t think it will be enough to get them in the postseason as a wild card even though they seem built for winter football.
(BK) The Seahawks currently sit outside the playoff picture, and as much as it hurts the 12th Man to hear it, it needs to be said: The Hawks probably aren’t getting back in the picture this year. Seattle needed that win against LA. It needed it badly. FiveThirtyEight.com has given the team just a 28 percent chance of earning a postseason berth, and quite frankly, that might be a bit generous considering the team has a tough schedule ahead, even with the Rams in the rearview. Philly’s loss to Dallas on Sunday helps, and so does Atlanta’s loss to Cleveland. But losing two straight (even after winning 4-of-5 before that) makes most games going forward must-wins.
- Green Bay travels to Seattle for Thursday night football, and it’s no secret these teams do not like each other. With both teams needing this win to stay in the wild card race, what kind of game do you think we will see?
(CM) Even though it’s a short week, I’ll be very surprised if Seattle gives up a win at home after so many road games including one across the pond. That said – the loss at LA could be more impactful than we think, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see Seattle come out looking out of steam. Wild card? It’s going to be a long shot for either team to make it without winning their division. In a stacked NFC both teams have bleak outlooks as they failed to capitalize on the weakest parts of their schedules with a brutal second half upcoming. The Packers have struggled in Seattle in the Russell Wilson Era, and are winless on the road so far this season, so I’ll give Seattle the edge in a hard fought game that will be played in cold conditions.
(BK) The Seahawks open as 2.5-point favorites against Green Bay, and I like those odds. You can never count out Aaron Rodgers—especially in his first game back to Seattle since the 2014 NFC Championship (Seattle 24, Green Bay 22)—but road teams are just 2-8 this season on Thursday nights, and the Packers themselves are 0-4 in road contests on the season giving up more than 30 points per game in those outings. Both teams need a win, but Seattle has home-field advantage and an ability to play up to its competition. I’m giving this one to the Hawks.
- This week we finally get to see the Chiefs-Rams showdown on Monday night in Mexico. How excited are you to watch what could be a preview of the Super Bowl? And how many combined points will be scored?
(CM) I. Can’t. Wait. It’s the first time that I can recall in a long time that I looked forward to a game on Monday Night Football. It’s insulting to say either team has a fair comparison in the league as they do so many things so well, but they might be exactly that to each other. So of course we fly them out of the country so neither team can enjoy the matchup at home. And if they score a rematch, it will be indoors in Atlanta, and how fun will it be to see a track meet between these teams for all the marbles. I expect to see at least 72 points, but even that might be too low. Patrick Mahomes already has 31 TDs this year, and he might have 30 more in this game. 106 points in one game is the highest combined score in the regular season in the modern era, (1970-present), and these two offenses might take a shot at it.
(BK) Although it’s a shame neither fan base gets to see this one in its own backyard, how cool is it that we get this contest on a neutral field in a non-domestic setting? This is a treat for football fans in Mexico, and quite frankly, it’s a treat for fans of the sport in general that we get a Super Bowl preview both in competition and setting—and entertainment. As of this writing, the over/under point total projection is at 63.5, which is 14.5 points higher than any other game throughout the week. Furthermore, consider that the gap between the second-highest game (Green Bay vs. Seattle) and the lowest-projected contest (Oakland Raiders vs. Arizona Cardinals) is a mere 8 points. This should be fun.
- Bryant Knox famously called Rashaad Penny’s number before the season as a break out player to watch. Have we seen the official passing of the torch in Seattle after a big game for the rookie in LA?
(CM) We know Chris Carson can’t handle a full season workload, and neither can Mike Davis, and CJ Prosise is starring in a movie called “Glass” later this winter. So why not Penny as the starter?? He looked great at LA, but we’ll see what opponents do when they know to prepare for him. On a short week, he’ll probably get the bulk of the carries, and could be the guy to lead the Seahawks to victory in a game that could be decided by which new workhorse back is more effective (versus Green Bay’s newly minted starter Aaron Jones). I had to cut Cooper Kupp and replaced him with Penny, which will hopefully be a lucky move given the sad state of Kupp’s season.
(BK) The week I finally decided to cut bait and ditch Penny on my fantasy team…go figure. I was glad to see the San Diego State product go from draft bust to having a bust-out performance against none other than the SuperRams, and I do think this is a sign of what’s to come…I just don’t think it’s a sign of what’s to come the rest of this particular season. Penny should see more run, and as a result, his confidence should get a nice boost as he (hopefully) finds the end zone a bit more frequently during the home stretch. But if I’m buying stock in Penny, it’s his long-term potential and not his immediate production. The Hawks have a lot to figure out still this year, and while that should create some opportunities for the team to experiment with the kid in different situations, it also means we likely won’t feel confident naming him the back of the future until next season.