Deviating from the normal weekly routine, this week’s edition of Five Hot Takes focuses on the busiest NFL trade deadline of all time and provides a non-football prediction.

 

  1. World Series prediction

This space is usually reserved for football takes, but this MLB World Series has been too great to ignore.

The Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers have battled back and forth all series, with the Dodgers winning Game Six to force a series-deciding Game Seven. If the Dodgers were to win tonight, it would be the first time either team has won back-to-back games in this World Series.

Tonight’s Game Seven will feature a pitching matchup of Houston’s Lance McCullers against Los Angeles’ Yu Darvish in a Game-Three rematch. Neither pitcher was very good in their first matchup, as McCullers gave up three runs in 5.1 innings, while Darvish lasted only 1.2 innings, giving up four runs.

Both teams will have their full pitching staffs available for relief and will pull their respective starters at the first signs of trouble. This is huge, especially when the Dodgers have the best pitcher in the world, Clayton Kershaw, available out of the ‘pen.

This game is almost certain to be close. With the exception of Game 4, every game this series has been decided by two runs or less. The offenses have been matching each other run-for-run, especially with clutch late-game hitting.

I think the Dodgers win it tonight in their home ballpark. I think Darvish will redeem himself after getting only five total outs in his awful Game Three performance, and I think the Dodger offense will give him at least a few runs to work with.

Prediction: Dodgers 4, Astros 3

 

  1. 2017 Trade Deadline features a surprising uptick in action

For years, the NFL trading deadline has been just another day for football fans. Most years, not a single impactful trade happens by the deadline. It was a day defined by superficial rumors, followed by underwhelming results that never amounted to anything. That all changed this year with the busiest trading deadline of all time.

Since last weekend, there have been six official trades. Buffalo dealt defensive tackle Marcell Dareus to Jacksonville on Friday to start the crazy stretch. On Monday, Houston left tackle Duane Brown went to Seattle and New England quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was traded to San Francisco. Tuesday, the official day of the deadline, saw three completed deals. Miami running back Jay Ajayi went to Philadelphia, San Francisco cornerback Rashard Robinson was traded to the Jets and Carolina wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin ended up in Buffalo.

There would have been a seventh trade had the Browns not bungled the A.J. McCarron trade.

That’s a huge flurry of transactions compared to last year’s deadline, which featured only two trades, both with negligible playoff race impacts. The rise in deadline movement this year isn’t explainable, but it reshuffled the deck for some playoff contenders.

 

  1. The most impactful trades for this year and the future

The two most impactful trades were Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia and Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers.

Traded in exchange for a 2018 fourth round pick, Ajayi will have the biggest impact for his new team this season.

Philadelphia is currently atop the NFL standings. Its offense has already been unstoppable this year, and will become even more potent with the acquisition of the former pro-bowler Ajayi.

Ajayi is in the midst of a down year compared to last season, but a lot of that can be placed on Miami’s passing game. The 24-year-old has 465 yards on 138 carries this season, averaging 3.4 yards per carry. He hasn’t scored a touchdown yet, which is slightly concerning, but it shouldn’t be a problem — former starter and resident wrecking ball LeGarrette Blount will get the majority of the goal line carries for the Eagles anyway.

Ajayi’s trade to the Eagles will have the biggest ramifications for the playoff race this season, but the trade with the most franchise-altering potential is Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers.

Garoppolo has spent the last three and a half seasons as Tom Brady’s understudy, and is viewed as a future franchise quarterback. The 49ers got him for a 2018 second-round pick. This is a super cheap price considering that the Patriots wanted at least one first-round pick for him as recently as last offseason.

While the move is risky considering Garoppolo’s lack of experience, the former second-round pick has played exceptionally well in his limited appearances. In two career starts and miscellaneous spot duty, Garoppolo has completed 67 percent of his passes, and has five touchdowns and no interceptions. People may consider him a product of Bill Belichick’s infamous Patriot system, but he’s easily a better option for the Niners than Brian Hoyer or C.J. Beathard. For better or worse, Garoppolo will now be handed the keys to the 49ers’ future.

 

  1. Cleveland can’t even trade correctly

It must be tough to be a Browns fan. The fanbase has endured an everlasting list of starting quarterbacks, a new head coach almost every single year and countless front office letdowns and gaffes.

Apparently, the Browns had completed a trade with the Cincinnati Bengals to acquire quarterback A.J. McCarron for the Browns’ second and third round picks in 2018. It seemed as though the Browns had found a quarterback with the potential to lead them out of their decades-long rut. Then the Browns pulled a move only they would do.

Reports state that the trade was agreed upon at 3:55 p.m. on Tuesday, five minutes before the trade deadline. The Bengals called the league office to inform them of the deal. However, the Browns forgot to phone the league to confirm the trade. Rumor has it they were celebrating so hard that they forgot to call until it was several minutes too late.

They tried to appeal to the league, but the league denied their request to approve the trade.

It seems like only the Browns would make this mistake. How does a team forget to call the league about a potential franchise-changing move because they were celebrating? I have no words…

As for the Bengals, they are the real losers here. The Browns were agreeing to overpay for a backup quarterback who hasn’t seen the field in two years. Even though McCarron is talented, he wasn’t doing Cincinnati any good by sitting on the bench. Now the Bengals will likely lose McCarron for nothing in free agency this spring when his contract expires.

 

  1. Are this year’s Heisman candidates legitimate NFL prospects?

It’s getting to be the nitty-gritty of the college football season, when big-time matchups happen and Heisman Trophy candidates start to reveal themselves.

This year, top Heisman contenders include Penn State junior running back Saquon Barkley, Oklahoma Redshirt senior quarterback Baker Mayfield and Ohio State Redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett. Many people are now wondering if these individuals have the skill sets to play at the next level.

Saquon Barkley is the current Heisman frontrunner. He is having a fantastic season, as the focal point of a Penn State team currently ranked seventh in the nation. Barkley has rushed 138 times for 801 yards and nine touchdowns. He also has 36 catches for 471 yards and three touchdowns. He’s even thrown a touchdown pass.

Barkley is a complete do-it-all running back. He carries the Penn State offense, while also returning kicks (he has two touchdown kick-off returns this season). He’s being labeled as the next Ezekiel Elliott, and is considered a lock to be picked within the top-five picks of the 2018 draft.

The NFL futures of the two quarterbacks are a bit murkier.

Mayfield was considered a late round prospect coming into this season. He was deemed too small and inaccurate for the NFL. His play also bears a striking resemblance to Johnny Manziel’s, which isn’t good seeing that Manziel flamed out of the league after two seasons and only a handful of starts.

However, Mayfield’s play has changed many opinions this season. Even after losing his top-three offensive weapons last offseason, he’s completed 72.5 percent of his passes for 2,628 yards and wields an incredible 23:3 touchdown to interception ratio. He’s also added four scores on the ground.

Just this week, the senior was given a first round grade by Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller. I don’t see Mayfield being drafted that high, but it is definitely conceivable to think he’ll be drafted between the second and fourth rounds.  

J.T. Barrett threw himself back into Heisman consideration this week with a heroic performance in the clutch, as he led his Buckeyes to a 39-38 win over Penn State. He completed his last 16 passes as Ohio State came back from being down multiple scores to win the game.

Barrett has completed 69.4 percent of his passes for 2,155 yards and 25 touchdowns to only one interception. He has also run for five touchdowns.

Before this season, Barrett wasn’t even close to the radars of NFL scouts. He had the same knocks as Baker Mayfield, in that he was too small, too inaccurate and too slow with his decision-making.

These opinions have somewhat changed in the last several weeks. Since a week two loss to Oklahoma, Ohio State has gone undefeated. This is mostly due to Barrett stepping up his game to uncharted heights. In the six games since that loss, Barrett has thrown 22 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Barrett won’t be a first round pick, but his stock is rising. If his hot streak continues, I see him as a mid-round project pick.

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