As the D.C. Area gets over a week where mother nature threw high and inside, the Las Vegas odds on the Washington Redskins chances for success this season have not changed in city's eyes. Also, I will play Jimmy The Greek without the racism and provide another reminder of how bad the Dan Snyder/Vinny Cerrato duo was, especially in 2008. Also, for better or for worse, the Nationals are ready to celebrate Strasmas Part II, and LeBron James does what he does best: joining the winning team in a regional grudge match.
That and more gets covered in this week's edition of Chain Reactions.
Vegas Says 6.5 Wins for Redskins
There has not been any bandwagon betting on the Redskins' season despite the team's play in the preseason so far. The over/under on wins opened at 6.5 in Las Vegas, and it is still at 6.5 right now. They are 25-1 to win the NFC and 40-1 to win the Super Bowl. As encouraged as I have been about the Redskins' preseason play, I can't say I'm ready to call them a playoff team.
The NFC South has three teams that could make the playoffs in Atlanta, New Orleans and Tampa Bay. The North could have two representatives again between Green Bay, Chicago (who won the North last year and hosted the NFC title game, if you remember) and maybe even Detroit (yes, the Lions). The West stinks still stinks and will have just one playoff team thanks to league rules.
So what does that leave for the Redskins? Win the NFC East or stay home. The folks in Vegas have the Eagles and Giants at 9.5 wins and the Cowboys at 9. That's not exactly dream team numbers for the Eagles. Dallas has best odds to win the NFC and Super Bowl among NFC East teams.
I actually think the Redskins, if healthy, can play over the 6.5, but they will need to ride the running game and minimize the mistakes defensively, especially in the secondary. If I were taking bets on who will be the Redskins' starting QB, I would still put my money on John Beck being named the starter seconds before kickoff on September 11. I would also take bets on there being a "quarterback by committee" by the time the season is over.
Vinny Cerrato's 2008 Draft Really Stunk
It was a long time coming as the Redskins finally released former second-round draft pick Malcom Kelly, who was part of the horrific 2008 draft. Kelly had more injuries than touchdowns in his career. Despite his 6'4''. 217-pound frame and 21 college touchdowns at Oklahoma, Kelly never became the red zone go-to-guy the Redskins envisioned when they drafted him.
The most frustrating part is you can't say whether Kelly could have been that guy because he never really played. Mike Shanahan on Tuesday finally figured enough was enough.
Shanahan: "It's really a shame that Malcolm wasn't able to stay healthy. He's feeling better now than he has been in a while, but still hasn't been able to go. Hopefully in a week or so he is ready to go because his weight's down. But we had to make a decision on what direction we had to go since we had some depth at the wide receiver position, so we released him."
Kelly's release means that the Redskins' 10-player 2008 draft class has only four players remaining on their roster: tight end Fred Davis, safeties Kareem Moore and Chris Horton and linebacker Rob Jackson. However, the
highlight lowlight is the second round where they took Devin Thomas at No. 34 (cut last year), Davis 14 picks later at No. 48 and then Kelly at No. 51. Did we mention they passed on Eagles Pro Bowler DeSean Jackson not once but twice in that round? He went at No. 49 to Philadelphia, and a running back named Ray Rice was selected by Baltimore with the No. 55 selection. Thanks Dan and Vinny, and please never work together again.
Strasmus a Home-Only Celebration for Nationals
Stephen Strasburg, barring any set back in his final minor league start, will pitch for the Nationals on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. It will be a huge boost to the Nationals, perhaps more so off the field than on it. Strasburg starts are not just games. They are events. As MASN Sports Ben Goessling points out, his first three starts will likely be at home.
Assuming Strasburg stays on an every-fifth-day schedule, he'll likely make his first three major league starts at home, facing the Astros on Sept. 11 and the Marlins on Sept. 16 before making his final two starts of the year on the road. He'd return to Philadelphia on Sept. 21, pitching in the ballpark where he injured his elbow, before ending his season at Florida on Sept. 26. All that assumes Strasburg is healthy and pain-free, but it's a reasonable schedule for him to end his year
Certainly, the Nationals are leaving themselves open for criticism here by putting the franchise's ace on the mound in meanlingless big league games at this point. However, I will side with the Nationals here and look like a fool if there is a medical setback. I think he needs to get this out of the way in order to make sure he's ready to anchor the staff next season. It is also the same track the Nationals took a season ago with Jordan Zimmermann, who was also coming off Tommy John surgery.
Sure, it makes good business sense too. By the way if I was a season ticket holder I would be thrilled these games are happening in Natstown and not at someone else's park. The fans who show have certainly earned it.
LeBron Finally Picks Right Ride-Along Program
LeBron James finally found the right combo in a ride-along program, as he joined the Melo League team who beat team the Goodman League team, 149-141, on Tuesday night at Morgan State. Kevin Durant unofficially scored 59 points (no stats kept) in the loss. These games are cool for the charities involved, fans and highlight shows, but for those concerned about the real thing, this week should be a big day as the two sides in the NBA Labor dispute are actually meeting.
Maryland Prepares for Miami Lite Under the Lights
OK, time to get the lame Hurricane reference out of the way here. No, it was not a Category 3. Instead, it was just a Category 1 for Miami, as only 8 players will have to sit out the opener against Randy Edsall's Terps due to their connection to booster Nevad Shapiro. The most notable will be quarterback Jacory Harris. Edsall's Terps are not getting a ton of attention but with quarterback Danny O'Brien under center, they should be able to compete at a high level in the ACC.
Monday Night's primetime game on ESPN could get the Edsall era off on the right foot and perhaps wash away any leftover hard feelings in the fanbase for those that wanted a splashier hire at head coach. It's crazy to call it a must-win, but it should be a game the Terps do win with what Miami is missing.