BY ZACHARY KRUEGER
Twitter - @CentralBirdland
Orioles fans, rejoice! Ravens fans, move on, and everybody else just sit back and enjoy what was another great weekend in sports! The Orioles have been celebrating "Clinchmas" on a semi-regular basis since 2012 (2012, 2014, 2016), and are heading off to Toronto to face the rival Blue Jays in a one-game wild card matchup on Tuesday. If you haven't yet figured out just how much the rivalry between the Orioles and Blue Jays has grown, check out the Twitter banter between the two fanbases this week, it's sure to be fun!
In other news, the Los Angeles Rams moved to 3-1 on the year, Paxton Lynch led the Broncos to a victory and I will boldly predict that Tom Brady sets NFL records in his return to the league next week. Dive into the Monday Rundown now!
Experts Counted Us Out, Fans Sometimes Did Too, but We're In!!!
What an up-and-down season for the Orioles, with the biggest up coming yesterday when a 5-2 victory in the Bronx put Baltimore in the postseason for the third time in five seasons!
The saying tends to be, "it's not how you start, it's how you finish," but for this year's Orioles team, it may be the opposite. Baltimore started the season with a 51-36 record, and closed out the second half going 38-37 while being outscored 302-314 in that span.
Perhaps one of the most mind boggling stats of the second-half of the season was Ubaldo Jimenez going 4-3 with a 2.91 ERA since August 7th after, starting the season with an ERA of 7.06. Jimenez elevated himself from being one of the most loathed pitchers on the team, to one that some fans now want to start the wild card game in Toronto.
The Orioles spent the first half of the season smashing their way to the postseason (137 homers pre All-Star break), and the second half of the season pitching their way to it (314 runs allowed post All-Star break, 401 runs allowed pre All-Star break). Zach Britton has a legitimate shot at winning the AL Cy Young award after going 47-for-47 in save opportunities this season, and closing out the year with an absurd 0.54 ERA. Britton surrendered only four earned runs all season, long, and has given up only 32 earned runs over 204 games since 2014.
It wasn't always the prettiest of displays of baseball. Both fans and analysts began to lose faith that the Orioles could actually make a push for the postseason given their post All-Star performances, but for now, we have at least one more game to cheer on our hometown birds, and what better team to do it against than Donaldson, Bautista and the hated Blue Jays? BUCKLE UP BIRDLAND!!!
NFL Week 4 Recap - Welcome Paxton Lynch, LA Rising, Dak Improving and More!
It was another wild week in the NFL that saw multiple quarterbacks go down with injuries, a preseason underdog move forward and a historic performance from a wide receiver who was non-existent in Week 3.
- Trevor Siemian, Cam Newton and Carson Palmer all exited their Week 4 matchups with injuries. All three quarterbacks should be healthy heading into Week 5, but could Paxton Lynch have already taken Siemian's spot in Denver? The 26th overall pick is the impending future in Denver, and went 14-for-24 passing for 170 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
- After being blanketed by the dreadful Saints defense in Week 3 (1-16-0), Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones posted a historic line in Week 4 against the Panthers going for 12-300-1, in what was only the sixth game in NFL history where a receiver eclipsed 300 receiving yards. The NFL record is 336 by Flipper Anderson of the Los Angeles Rams in 1989.
- Dak Prescott led the Cowboys to a 24-17 win over the 49ers yesterday. The rookie quarterback is now 3-1 and has yet to turn the ball over this season, and has completed 67.9% of his passes for 1,012 yards and three touchdowns. He also has two scores on the ground and has run for 57 yards. With all of that being said, watch how often Prescott takes shots down the field. At some point this season, the rookie is going to have to open up the passing game and take some deeper shots.
- The Rams are an unprecedented 3-1 and have thrived on a defense that has held offenses such as Arizona and Seattle at bay for a combined 20 points. They are ninth in the league in points allowed per game (19.0) and have a turnover differential of +4. While their offense has remained relatively anemic (30th ppg, 31st ypg), they have done enough to upset two preseason Super Bowl favorites, and could have a legitimate shot to be 5-1. They host Buffalo next week, and travel to Detroit in Week 6. It would be nice to see Jared Goff take the reigns and try to put this team over the top.
- One final note on the Rams, they're 3-1 despite running back Todd Gurley averaging a dismal 2.6 yards per carry. That's not a typo.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick pushed for a big contract extension this offseason, and settled for slightly less to return to the Jets. Now his Jets are 1-3 and he is a big part of the problem. Fitz leads the league with 10 interceptions, and is completing 55.2% of his passes. The season doesn't get any easier for Fitz and the Jets, with their next three games being at Pittsburgh, at Arizona and home against Baltimore. Get your arm warm, Geno.
Brady's Comeback - Out For Blood, Revenge and an NFL Record...or Two?
October 9th has been circled on the calendar of anybody and everybody who is in some way associated with the New England Patriots. It has likely also been a week that most Browns fans, and perhaps even players would prefer to just take off. If you haven't figured out why, it's because that's the week that Tom Brady returns from his highly controversial Deflate Gate suspension. Brady isn't just returning, but he's likely coming back pissed off, and out to give a proverbial middle finger to the league, and anybody else who wanted to see him sit for an incident that is nearly two years old.
While that is great news for Pats fans, and anybody who owns Brady in fantasy, it's bad news for just about anybody else.
Brady has made his case as the best quarterback in NFL history, thanks in large part to the fact that he's spent his entire career pissed off. He had his body image laughed at when he went to the combine, he was selected 199th overall in the draft, and nobody outside of New England ever gave him a chance to even have much of an NFL career, much less a Hall of Fame caliber career. The only person who thought Brady could achieve what he has to this point, is Tom Brady, and now he's out to prove himself more than ever.
I went ahead and posted this tweet a few weeks ago...
and I still stand by it today.
The Browns are allowing 259.6 passing yards per game this season, and that's having faced Carson Wentz, Joe Flacco, Ryan Tannehill and Kirk Cousins. While these guys aren't the scrubs of the league, they're no Brady. Furthermore, none of these guys have even half of the chip on their shoulder that Brady does, or ever has had.
I'd never go out and guarantee any kind of an NFL record to be set, especially one of this magnitude, but is it really unrealistic to think Brady could do either of these on Sunday in his return against the hapless Browns?
As of today, the Patriots are tabbed by Vegas as a 10-point favorite, but 30 would be more realistic. This game should go down as one of the most lopsided lines for a game ever posted by Vegas. A returning Brady, a healthy Gronk, and an awful Browns team, it's a script that writes itself.
When Brady goes for 600 yards and eight touchdowns this week, don't be surprised, and don't say I didn't tell ya so.