The Oakland Raiders have to be considered one of the surprise teams of this NFL season. While I think most pundits had the Raiders improving on their 7-9 2015 record I don’t remember any of them saying the Raiders would get to double digit wins. Oakland has 10 wins right now and they have three games left in this season. The Raiders where in 1st place coming into Thursday nights game against the Kansas City Chiefs and they went out and had what was probably there worst game of the season. Oakland lost 21-13 to the Chiefs Thursday night and the game brought up some questions about the Raiders. Being that it was a short week; was it just a bad night? Is Kansas City that good? or the more pressing question could be; how hurt is Derek Carr? Carr injured the pinky on his throwing hand in the Raiders 38-24 win over the Buffalo Bills in Week 13. Carr left the game for a short period of time, but returned to lead the Raiders to a victory. Carr had his worst game of the season, but even with that he had the Raiders in position to possible tie the game late in the 4th quarter. Oakland had a 4th and 1 on the Kansas City 14 yard line with 2:06 left in the game. A false start penalty made it 4th and 6 from the Kansas City 19 yard line. Carr tried to connect with Seth Roberts on a possible game tying touchdown, but the pass fell incomplete and the Raiders turned the football over on downs allowing the Chiefs to run out the clock. Carr was 17 of 41 for just 117 yards. He was also sacked 1 time for -8 yards. The loss drops the Raiders into the first wild card spot, but they are three games ahead of the next closet wild card team. Should Carr be rested to allow his pinky time to heal before the Raiders head into the playoffs? or should he try to play through it? Week 15 has the Raiders in San Diego to face the Chargers. Week 16 they’re home against the Indianapolis Colts and they end the season on the road in Week 17 against the Denver Broncos. Now winning the division still isn’t out of the questions as the Chiefs play the Tennessee Titans at home in Week 15. Week 16 they host the Broncos and the Chiefs also end the season on the road as they play in San Diego against the Chargers in Week 17. The Raiders advantage is that the Titans and the Broncos are still in playoff contention and the Chiefs have to face both of them while the Raiders will just see the Broncos. So that makes the quarterback question even tougher. Is winning the division enough of a motive to continue to play Carr or is resting that pinky injury more important? If you’re a Raiders fan; what would you like to see them do with David Carr?
There was an interesting debate this week on which running back either Ezekiel Elliott or David Johnson is he front runner for M.V.P. Elliott is currently the NFL’s leading rusher with 1285 yards and has 12 rushing touchdowns through 13 weeks. Johnson is 3rd in rushing with 1005 yards and has 11 rushing touchdowns. Johnson is more involved in the Arizona passing game than Elliott is for Dallas. Johnson has caught 64 passes for 704 yards and has 4 receiving touchdowns. Elliott has 28 receptions for 322 yards and a touchdown. Of course Elliott’s Cowboys are 11-1 and are the first team to clinch a playoff spot. Johnson’s Cardinals are 5-6-1 and are currently 2 games out of a wild card spot. In most cases a quarterback is the front runner for M.V.P. so it’s a little different to see a couple of running backs being talked about for the award. While I’m still thinking that Tom Brady will end up winning the M.V.P. award, but how would you separate these running backs. I guess it depends on what the word valuable means to you. (Valuable meaning) Is a running back who’s going to be on a playoff team more valuable than a all around running back on a team that looks like it won’t make the playoffs. The Cowboys are touted as having the best offensive line in the NFL. Does that diminish Elliott’s accomplishments? On the other hand the Cardinals have just 5 wins and you have to wonder where they would be if Johnson wasn’t on the team. With three weeks to go will have to see what kind of numbers these two running backs continue to put up and if they can stay even it will be up to the voters to decide. Now if you had a vote who’s your NFL M.V.P.?
The baseball winter meetings wrapped up with two veteran players finding new teams. Fernando Rodney signed a 1-year $2.75 million dollar deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. There are appearance bonuses in Rodney’s contract that could boost it up tp $4 million if he hits them all. Rodney turns 40 next March and split last season between the San Diego Padres and the Miami Marlins. With San Diego Rodney was 0-1 with an E.R.A. of 0.31 with 17 saves. In Miami Rodney went 2-3 with an E.R.A. of 5.89 and 8 saves. Will Rodney be used as a closer in Arizona or will the Diamondbacks find someone else to close with Rodney as the set up guy with closing experience. The other signing saw Dexter Fowler leave the World Series champion Chicago Cubs to join there division rival the St. Louis Cardinals on a 5-year $82.5 million dollar deal. The Cardinals where in the market for an outfielder; preferably a centerfielder; so I’m not surprised they signed Fowler. What is a bit of a surprise to me is the length and the dollars involved with the signing. Fowler hit .276 last season with 13 home runs. Fowler has always been looked at as a lead off type of hitter, but he had just 13 stolen bases last season. Fowler did walk 79 times last season and had an On Base Percentage of .393. Fowler turns 31 next March; so he’ll be in a Cardinals uniform until he’s 36 as his deal also includes a full no trade clause. Do you like Fowler as the Cardinals centerfielder?
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