Drew Brees has a great shot at MVP this year. Michael C Hebert/Saints team site
All we’ve heard about over the last two years is sniping and arguing about the NFL’s television ratings and whether any decline was due to Colin Kaepernick and players kneeling for the national anthem. Granted, it’s calmed down some this season, but you couldn’t go a day without hearing, reading or watching stories and arguments about it.
Through all of that noise, football was busy having three teams quietly building offensive juggernauts the likes we’ve rarely seen in NFL history. The addition of Alvin Kamara to the Saints has given them a next level offense and new age weapon to deploy. The Chiefs combination of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce was already lethal, but it took an “Air Raid” quarterback from Texas Tech to unleash total hell on the rest of the league. The Rams? They are just hoarding offensive talent, and they use the first pick of the 2016 draft to the tune of 35.3 points per game.
College offense comes to the pros
On November 4th, the Saints and Rams combined for 80 points and 970 total yards. To put that in perspective, the Texans and Redskins combined for 44 points and 598 yards this weekend. Of course the Rams and Chiefs weren’t going to be outdone, so they combined for 105 points and 1001 yards in their historic Monday Night Football game. College offenses have infiltrated the NFL and the results are actually very entertaining.
The Saints and Patriots have been running spread offenses for years, but the Rams and Chiefs added legitimate, every-down running backs to the mix to keep their train moving in case the passing game ever goes sideways (which it rarely does). Stringent officiating against defenses along with the addition of RPOs (run-pass-option) and jet sweeps almost makes these three offenses unfair. However, it may surprise you to find out that all three of these explosive offenses are unlikely to end up as the top dog all-time.
Ask anyone who the greatest NFL offense was and one of the first answers will be “The Greatest Show on Turf” Rams team from 1999-2000, but they averaged 32.8 ppg. The 2007 Patriots were unstoppable until they got to the Super Bowl, and they averaged 36.8 ppg and 295 ypg passing. The winner? Peyton Manning’s 2013 Denver Broncos offense averaged 37.9 ppg, 340 ypg passing and finished with 55 passing touchdowns and 71 total touchdowns.
Now keep in mind that Peyton Manning didn’t have RPOs and jet-sweeps and was a statue in the pocket. He was also coming off a season where he didn’t even play football because of an arm injury, and had a weak arm even before his injury. For as great as these offensive explosions are in 2018, what Peyton Manning and the Broncos did in 2013 will likely never be touched. Oh yeah, they also lost in the Super Bowl just like the 2007 Patriots did. Stats are great, but rings are better. One of the “big three” is going to get the ring this season. There simply isn’t any other team who can keep up with them on the scoreboard.
It's a new year for the Houston Astros as they return to action for their first game of the spring against the Washington Nationals on Saturday.
Every season we see some adjustments to the roster which means we also see some changes in leadership. As Astros fans, we're all aware of Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker's contract situations. Breggy could be gone after the season, and Tucker could follow one year later.
Which means it's pretty clear who the leaders of the team will be for the foreseeable future. Not only are these guys two of the best players on the club, but they're also under contract for several more years. In Altuve's case, through the 2029 season. For Yordan, he won't sniff free agency until 2029.
While these guys aren't your typical vocal leaders, they are both highly respected and lead by example. Leadership is something that's front of mind for Yordan this season, according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome.
On Yordan Alvarez the leader, one of two constants in a clubhouse bracing for change and the responsibility he wants to shoulder as a result - https://t.co/sZGlI5taBQ
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) February 21, 2024
Another way to be a leader is to do everything you can to be available for your team. Alvarez changed his diet in the offseason hoping it will help him stay healthy this year.
Manager Joe Espada said Alvarez is fully healthy and he plans on playing him earlier than normal this spring.
Currently, Yordan is trending down in games played for three straight seasons. But he's such a great player that he needs fewer games to put up massive numbers.
He finished 3rd in MVP voting in 2022, and he only played in 135 games out of a possible 162.
So with that in mind, how many games does Yordan need to play this year to win an MVP?
Plus, who's going to protect him in the lineup? With new manager Joe Espada in place, it's hard to know what the lineup will look like.
One thing we do know, Espada immediately named Josh Hader his closer when spring training began. He also told the media that he wants Jeremy Pena to know where he's going to hit every day when he comes to the ballpark.
Espada values players knowing their roles, and getting comfortable in their routines. Something very different from last season when manager Dusty Baker moved Pena all over the lineup throughout the season.
So what does all this mean for Yordan?
Be sure to watch the video above as we break it all down!
Catch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every Monday on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel.