1. Would Devan Dubnyk be considered the MVP of the Western Conference so far this season?
Kras: He might be the MVP of the league for what he has been able to do for the Wild thus far. Dubnyk has a 15-6-3 record, which is impressive, but his 1.62 goals-against-average is even more incredible. He has returned to the form he had when the Wild first traded for him 2 seasons ago. I would like to see Dubnyk sustain this success as the Wild will need it over the long haul. Hopefully Dubnyk will be playing this well in February and March. If he is, the Wild should be in great shape in the Western Conference.
JJ Bens: You could definitely argue that he should be in the running. I would also put Vladimir Tarasenko and Connor McDavid in the running as well. It is still pretty early in the season but right now Devan Dubnyk’s save percentage would be the best all time. Most hockey fans know that hot goaltending can trump all. There is a long way to go but if he can keep up this pace it would help bring the Cup to its rightful state.
2. Is Mike Zimmer the right coach for the Minnesota Vikings?
Kras: I do think that Zimmer is still a good coach and I will need to see another season fall apart on his watch before I would start looking for his replacement. All the injuries that have stacked up and departure of Norv Turner are a lot to overcome in a season for any team. I will be interested to see where it goes from here for the Vikings. With the Vikings missing their 1st round pick in the draft, Adrian Peterson’s and Teddy Bridgewater’s futures still uncertain, and the O-coordinator position woes, there is a lot of work for this team and that doesn’t include O-line which may need the most help of all. We will see what happens with Zimmer going forward but I think it is safe to say that another season like this one and the heat will be on.
Nate Leer: I think Zim is still the right man for the job. He has made some mistakes this year – handling the offensive coaches and in-game time management among others – but this has been a challenging year to say the least. The injuries to the team plus his own physical issues have certainly contributed to the mid season collapse that this formerly 5-0 team has gone through. However, this is the first chink in the Zimmer armor so, like Kras said, a bad start to next season could see him on the hot seat.
3. Is there a chance the Minnesota Timberwolves trade either Zach LaVine or Andrew Wiggins if things don’t improve for the team?
Kras: I don’t believe the Wolves will trade either Wiggins or LaVine but, if it continues to go the way it has, I don’t think you can rule anything out. Ricky Rubio would still be the likely player to move in my opinion but if the right player and or package is on the table, it would have to be looked at. It is thought that a veteran starter would help this team develop, close out games and improve on defense but as for who exactly that person is, I do not know. I personally still believe this team needs time to gel under their head coach who is still only 27 games into his 1st season in with these players. I wouldn’t trade either Wiggins of LaVine, and I would let the team play together for a full season and then reevaluate after that.
JJ Bens: I don’t think the Wolves could get enough value back for either player. The other point that I would make is both of these players are still developing and haven’t had consistent coaching. I would argue that the ceiling of their value would be hard to match with any talent in the league, especially after a couple of years under coach Tom Thibodeau.
1. What NFL team is your favorite to make a deep post season run?
Kras: Is there any answer other than the New England Patriots? All the other teams that one might consider have areas of their game that would cause me to not pick them. The Patriots are as steady as ever as the season rolls along. They started the season without Tom Brady for the first 4 games and now they are without Rob Gronkowski and the Pats hold the best record in the AFC and are tied for the best record in the NFL. If a person had to put money on a team to go deep into the playoffs, and even make the Super Bowl, the Pats would have to be at the top of the list.
Nate Leer: The Patriots are the best answer but I think another team from the AFC that looks dangerous is the Steelers. Their D seems to be getting better as the season goes along and they have offensive weapons all over. The Steelers head coach, QB and many veterans have been playoff tested so will not be overwhelmed by going into New England and/or Oakland. Pittsburgh still has some work to do to get into the playoffs but if they do, they could make some noise.
2. Is there any team in the NBA Eastern Conference you view as a serious contender other than the Cleveland Cavaliers?
Kras: Probably not, since whoever will get to the Eastern Conference Finals will likely have to go through Cleveland. The Toronto Raptors and the Boston Celtics are the 2 teams that I believe could give the Cavs a bit of trouble in a best of 7 series but I would still pick the Cavs. The Cavs have an Eastern Conference best record of 19-6 with 4 of those losses coming in the last 10 games. I don’t think LeBron will be denied as long as he is playing in Cleveland.
Nate Leer: I think the Raptors have a very small chance, mainly if injuries decimate the Cavs. To me, Boston is the only team in the East who has any shot against Cleveland. It is still a very small chance but the Celtics have defensive stoppers for each of Cleveland’s big 3 – Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Al Horford for Kyrie Irving, LeBron and Kevin Love respectively. Boston is also deeper and has a talented young coach who could help make a difference. If Cleveland stays relatively healthy, I think there is less than a 5% chance they don’t win the East but injuries and/or a younger team emerging could change the conversation.
3. Who will or should be the next NFL Head Coach that is fired?
Kras: There have been rumblings that Rex Ryan could be out in Buffalo after the season, but I personally don’t think Rex has done a terrible job. Marvin Lewis and Chip Kelly are two coaches that I believe are far more worthy of being let go. Lewis has been bounced in the 1st round of the playoffs without ever getting past that hump and Kelly has turned San Francisco into a dreadful team this year after depleting the Philadelphia Eagles to nothing. There is still a chance Kelly gets San Fran turned around but I think it will be a short-lived stop before he heads back to the college ranks. It’s a hard job and if you’re not having above .500 seasons, you’re probably not going to last too long.
Nate Leer: I think those are 2 different very different questions. To me, Chip Kelly, Rex Ryan and Mike McCoy (SD) could be gone and Marvin Lewis possibly as well. I tend to think teams pull the trigger on coaching changes way too early and often. Someone like Hue Jackson in Cleveland looks like a candidate to be replaced but it would be foolish for the Browns to start over. Jackson and Chicago coach John Fox among others need to be given time to build their programs since these teams were dismal when they took over. I am not a Chip Kelly fan but he technically falls into the same category.