Mike’d Up: MLB postseason picks and NFL quarter-season evaluation

Baseball enthusiast and News Editor Ben Brown ’14 is pinch hitting for Kelley this week to talk MLB postseason predictions.

Brown: Since my pick for AL pennant, the Angels, had a hellish season, I guess it is time for a change. The Tigers will chew their way through the AL pack. Max Scherzer emerged as the staff ace ahead of former Cy Young and MVP winner Justin Verlander, who had a down year by his standards, but solid nonetheless. Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez, and even an injured Miguel Cabrera are a roaring offensive force, powerful enough to send balls flying out of the spacious home of the Oakland Athletics, their first round opponent.

I’ll stay pat with the Dodgers, my preseason World Series pick. The postseason is all about pitching, and they boast a nasty 1-2 punch with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, which could match Detroit’s aces. An offense led by Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, and Hanley Ramirez make Los Angeles’s lineup a difficult one to, well, dodge. If the bullpen can hold up and get the ball to closer Kenley Jansen in those close games, then the Dodgers are looking at their first taste of late-October champagne since 1988.

 

Kowaleski: Unlike you, both of my preseason picks are still in. How about that, Mr. Baseball?

I see no reason to stray from my initial choices. Gut-based though they were, the picks still seem like the best options. Tigers should lean on Scherzer and their offense to blow past the A’s and Red Sox.

On the NL side, my Bravos not only made the postseason this year but won the East and finished tied for the second-best record in baseball. Not only that, but they have their own ace ready to make his own case against Kershaw: Kris Medlen, who’s posted a 1.64 ERA in his last ten appearances. If Mike Minor and Julio Teheran can continue their solid seasons, the Braves have pitching that can match up with the class of the NL until they can get teh ball to Craig Kimbrel. Not only that, but their offense should be solid enough to fend off the upstart L.A. Puigs. But let’s pat ourselves on the back, Ben…I have a feeling whoever wins the Braves-Dodgers Divisional Series is taking the N.L. Pennant, even over the Cardinals, who finished with a better record.

Gotta stick with my boys though. Tigers over Braves in the World Series.

 

It has been four weeks since the NFL season kicked off. Who has surprised? Who has disappointed?

Kelley: Sean Payton has proven to be the difference between a 7-9 team and a Super Bowl contender. His Saints sit 4-0 and boast the offensive firepower and defensive strength to legitimately contend. No doubt about it, New Orleans has surprised.

Yes, the Saints still scored last season amidst the Bounty Scandal and a suspended Payton. But with his genius ability to maximize the Saints’ weapons, New Orleans is up there with the Broncos as the NFL’s most dangerous teams.

Through four games a season ago, the Saints stood at 0-4. Now 4-0, have fun arguing that Payton is not the X-Factor. They are easily the biggest surprise of the NFL this season.

Mike’d UP Nation will most likely expect me to pick the Steelers as the NFL’s biggest disappointment. To be honest, I expected a down year from the Black and Gold but not this down. Still though, the title for biggest disappointment goes to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team that has fallen apart by the seams.

Head Coach Greg Schiano has done an extremely poor job managing quarterback Josh Freeman and as a result, the Bucs have now inserted Mike Glennon under center. Yes, I had to look up the name too. If the losing keeps up much longer, don’t be surprised to see total reconstruction mode in an otherwise sunny Tampa Bay.

 

Kowaleski: I love Payton’s Old Orleans Saints. They look like the good old Fleur-de-lis of the early 2010s. However, I rather expected a return to form from Brees’s Boys (not so much Rob Ryan’s defense, but still).

What I haven’t expected, however, were the Detroit Lions to emerge as what looks like the class of the NFC North. The Lions have relied on the league’s third-highest scoring offense to wrest control of the North from Da Bearz, who looked great after three weeks. Reggie Bush has surpassed my expectations, rushing for 254 yards in three games played. Really, that should be 229 yards in two games, seeing as though he suffered an injury early in Week Two that also kept him out in Week Three.

The Lions could lock up a top-three seed in this year’s playoffs if their defense can hunker down.

Biggest disappointment doesn’t lie with just one team, but an entire division. The NFC East is a complete mess, from the imploding New York Giants to the broken-down Redskins to the sputtering Kelly Green Eagles. Dallas sits at the top at 2-2, and I have a feeling they could win the division with a 7-9 record if they had to.

Long live #MikedUPNation.

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