Author Archives: Jake Brockhoff

About Jake Brockhoff

Writer for The Raider Ramble and ATB Newtwork.

NBA Power Rankings: Preseason Edition

At the time of this writing, we are a little over a month shy of the start of the 2023 NBA season. After an exciting end to last season, and some interesting offseason storylines, there’s a lot to look forward to this year. Without further ado, let’s take a look at our current NBA preseason power rankings.

Photo Credit: Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports

NBA Preseason Power Rankings: 30-16

#30) Detroit Pistons

Unfortunately for Detroit, they come in last on these NBA power rankings. They’ve been in the bottom-third of these rankings for a while now, and remain unable to change that pattern. They have some solid young assets, and some veterans on the team as well. In a couple years they should make some noise, but until then, it looks unlikely.

#29) Portland Trail Blazers

Portland, for the moment, still employs Damian Lillard. Dame wants to go to Miami, but the Blazers are doing the smart thing by waiting for what they think is their best offer. They’ve got Scoot Henderson to help build around their young core, but are likely a few years away from contention in the West.

#28) Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets are a team that has seemed to be on the cusp of contention in recent years, yet they’re never able to take that next step. They have a very young roster, with a lot of interesting faces. Right now, they’re on the downtrend.

#27) Houston Rockets

The Rockets made some big splashes in free agency, and they did get better. How much better, has yet to be determined. Fred Vanvleet and Dillon Brooks are the newest faces on the roster, and both are immediately some of the most accomplished players on their new team. Unfortunately, immaturity seems to be the norm, especially with Kevin Porter Jr. recently. These vets may bring some much-needed mentorship, and the team could take a step forward this season. For now, there’s some work to do.

#26) Washington Wizards

The Wizards and Bradley Beal finally parted ways this offseason, and a new era begins in the nation’s capital. They also let go of Kristaps Porzingis, while retaining Kyle Kuzma. Jordan Poole and Tyus Jones have entered the fold, as well. Washington is finally starting their rebuild. It will take time, but at least this team now has a direction.

#25) San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs were fortunate enough to land the first overall pick in this year’s draft. They made the right decision, grabbing Victor Wenbanyama. Wenbanyama has the potential to be a generational player, and will certainly be expected to lead this new era of basketball in San Antonio to the playoffs. Right now, there isn’t enough talent or experience in San Antonio for that to happen just yet.

#24) Toronto Raptors

The Raptor’s saw Fred Vanvleet leave this off-season, and they replaced him with Dennis Shröder. Schröder is a good facilitator, but this team will struggle even more at shooting. Vanvleet was the best shooter on a Toronto team that already struggled to score from distance. With him gone, Shröder won’t be enough to remedy that.

#23) Orlando Magic

Orlando has been in a rebuild for what feels like forever. The Magic might finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, though. Orlando has a solid, competent young roster, and added some veteran leadership in Joe Ingles. Anthony Black and Jett Howard join the fold as Orlando’s newest lottery picks this year. This team has potential, but it’s still a year or two away.

#22) Chicago Bulls

Chicago finished last season with a sub-.500 record, and missed the playoffs after becoming the first victims of Jimmy Butler’s playoff tirade. Since then, they’ve continued to commit to the same core group they’ve built around for the past couple of years. Right now, the future looks bleak.

#21) Utah Jazz

The Jazz made some strides last year, and for most of the season they turned a lot of heads. Their strong start floundered towards the end of the year, though, as they missed the play-in. Still, their rebuild seems to have accelerated, and their addition of John Collins over the summer will help that even more. With the load of picks Utah got for Gobert, the future looks bright for the Jazz.

#20) Indiana Pacers

The Pacers, like Utah, were in the race for the playoffs for most of the season. Indiana eventually ran out of gas, but they showed a lot of potential throughout the year. They’ve got Tyrese Haliburton locked down, and also grabbed Bruce Brown in free agency. In a couple of years, this Pacers team might become a legitimate threat in the East.

#19) New Orleans Pelicans

This team really does have the talent and potential to make the playoffs every year in the West, if only they could stay healthy. Zion Williamson has been injured for a large portion of his young career, and Brandon Ingram has battled injuries as well. The Pelicans mostly stood pat in the off-season, so those two need to stay healthy in 2023 for this team to truly contend.

#18) Atlanta Hawks

Ever since their run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2021, Atlanta hasn’t been able to repeat that success. They’ve become the perennial champions of the play-in tournament, but have failed to get any further than that. Their roster didn’t change much, barring the loss of the aforementioned John Collins. Here’s to hoping year two of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray yields some playoff success.

#17) Minnesota Timberwolves

Every decade has one trade that can be pointed to as the reason a franchise set themselves back multiple years. That Rudy Gobert trade looks like an early strong candidate for the 2020’s. The Wolves are going to need to figure this out, since their draft position for the next half-decade looks very unfortunate. They currently sit in the bottom half of these NBA power rankings, and that doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon.

#16) Brooklyn Nets

The Nets have done a nice job at recovering from the loss of their short-lived “Big Three”. Mikal Bridges made some massive steps, and Cam Johnson has shown loads of potential. If they can revive Ben Simmons from his grave, this team could legitimately make noise in the East this season.

MLB Playoffs: Most Exciting Playoff Races in September

As we enter the month of September, we also enter the final full month of the 2023 MLB season. At this point in the year, each team knows exactly what’s at stake. Some teams are out of the hunt, while others gear up for a push to the postseason. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most interesting races for the MLB playoffs.

Photo Credit: Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

AL East

The AL East is arguably the most competitive division in all of baseball this year. Up until a little while ago, all five teams had a winning record. Currently, the worst team, the Yankees, are just one game below .500.

Currently, the newest team on the scene is the Baltimore Orioles. They lead by three games with an 85-51 record. Still, the Rays are hot on their tail. Both of these teams are excellent in nearly every aspect, and this will be one of the most exciting races to watch. Will the newcomer Orioles have the poise to hold on, and likely secure a first-round bye? Only time will tell.

AL West

On the other side of the country, the western section of the American League has been very interesting.

Texas has led this group for most of the season, yet have gone on a skid as of late, and sit one game off the pace. The Astros have been holding steady all year long, and their persistence has them tied for first.

Meanwhile, Seattle has risen from the ashes, and currently hold a share of the division lead. After a rough first half to the season, they’ve gone on a tear, and have formed an exciting three-team race for the division as the year winds down.

NL Central

This race features a mix of old faces and new. None of these three teams stand out among the rest of the NL, yet all three are a team you’d want to avoid in the first round of the playoffs.

Leading the division is Milwaukee with a 76-61 record, led by their impressive pitching staff. The Cubs, like Seattle, burst onto the scene during the second half of the year. They’re just 2.5 games off the pace at this point.

Finally, there’s Cincinnati. The Reds have slowed down as of late, after a run to start the season that had them leading the division for quite a while. They’ve fallen back to reality, and sit just four games above .500, sitting 5.5 games behind the Brew Crew.

AL Wild Card

With just a month left, we can get a pretty good look at how the Wild Card race might end up. It seems whoever finishes second in AL East will get the first Wild Card spot, as Tampa Bay is currently over five games ahead of the Astros.

After that, currently the second and third-place teams in the West hold the remaining two spots. The Blue Jays are only half a game behind Texas for the third spot. The next closest team is Boston, at 4.5 games back.

NL West

This Wild Card race is much, much more interesting. The Phillies currently hold the first spot, five games clear. They’re followed by the Cubs, who have a narrower, three game cushion. Finally, the D-backs, who sit at 71-67, are just one game ahead of Cincinnati for the final Wild Card spot.

As I just mentioned, the Reds are the first team out of the race. Miami is right on their tail, at just a half a game back. The only other team close is San Francisco, who sits a full game out. This is a race that has been infected by new, young teams, and is much more exciting than usual for that very reason.

Current Playoff Matchups (At time of writing)


First round byes: Orioles (1), Mariners (2)

Wild Card matchups: Rangers (6) @ Twins (3), Astros (5) @ Rays (4)


First round byes: Braves (1), Dodgers (2)

Wild Card matchups: D-backs (6) @ Brewers (3), Cubs (5) @ Phillies (4)

Five Bold Predictions for the 2023 College Football Season

With week zero officially in the books, the 2023 college football season is officially underway. Excitement is high, and predictions from pundits across the country are flying off the boards. With that in mind, let’s make five bold college football predictions.

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The Pac-12 Will Have Two Teams in the College Football Playoff

This might be the boldest of all college football bold predictions. The glory days of the Pac-12 are well over. The days of the Pac-12 existing at all, unfortunately, are running short, as well. What would be more poetic than the conference sending two teams to the playoffs in its final complete season?

Oregon, USC, and Utah are the three teams who have a chance here. All three of these schools have rosters that are easily talented enough to win 11 games and sneak into the College Football Playoff. The only team with a question mark is USC on defense, but their Caleb Williams-led offense is good enough to keep up with anybody. For the first time since 2016, the conference will send not one, but two teams to the playoff.

Drake Maye and Jalon Daniels Will be Heisman Finalists

Drake Maye is going to be one of the quarterbacks to watch for in next year’s draft. He’s also going to be somebody to watch out for throughout this season. Maye should be considered a very big threat to win the Heisman itself, let alone be a finalist. Watch for him and North Carolina to go far this season.

As for Jalon Daniels, he’s been doing all he can to put Kansas back on the football map. Oddly enough, Daniels’ odds to win the award are currently at +10000, worse than Arch Manning, who is literally a backup. The college football world may sleep on Daniels, but I’m not. Daniels is an electric player, and if I were you, I’d throw some money down on his Heisman chances this year.

Penn State Makes the College Football Playoff

Penn State is one of the most interesting dark-horse candidates in all of college football this season. They’ve got an impressive defense, one that ranks among the best in the country. The real key to their success this season is Drew Allar. He’ll need to take a big step for this prediction to come true, but that defense should have his back all season long.

The Lions don’t have the easiest schedule, but they should be favored in nearly all of their games. If Penn State can handle their business and win the games they should win, while beating one of Michigan or Ohio State, they’ll be on a fast track to the playoff.

Texas Will (actually) Be Back

“Texas is back” is a saying that’s heard around the world whenever the Longhorns have a statement win. That statement win is usually followed by a disappointing finish to the season, leading many to realize that Texas is not actually back. This year, that should be different.

This is Texas’ last year in the Big 12, and they’ll end it with a bang before heading over to the SEC. The Longhorns have a ton of talent, even with the loss of Bijan Robinson. While the conference remains competitive, some of its top teams (most notably Oklahoma) have fallen off the map recently. Texas should be able to win 10 games this year, and make a serious playoff push. Whether they actually get in or not is a different story, but mark 2023 as a resurgent year for this school.

UTSA Makes a New Year’s Six Bowl Game

If there’s any team outside of the Power Five that can make some noise this season, it’s UTSA. The Roadrunners are beginning their first year in the AAC, and should be an immediate contender to win the conference, with their biggest threat being Tulane.

Frank Harris Jr. is entering his seventh year of collegiate football, and he’s become one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the country. Most of UTSA’s offense is returning, and their coach, Jeff Traylor, is looking for his third consecutive 10-win season. The Roadrunners are a team to watch this year. Don’t be surprised if you see them in a bowl game on New Year’s Day.

2023 NBA Schedule Release: Biggest Dates in 2023-24

Early on Thursday morning, the NBA officially released their 2023-24 schedule. This is always an exciting time for basketball fans, as it is one of the first real signifiers of the new season. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the biggest dates and matchups on the NBA schedule for the 2023-24 season.

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Opening Week

The 2023-24 NBA schedule will officially kick off with the Nuggets hosting the Lakers on October 24th. Before the game, Denver will be presented with their rings from their 2023 NBA Finals win.

Capping off the opening night double-header, we’ve got the Suns heading to the Bay Area to take on the Warriors. Kevin Durant heads back to play against his old team, and the two teams that lost in the Western Semis will face-off.

NBA In-Season Tournament

The 2023 season will hold the NBA’s first ever in-season tournament. This event will likely change over the coming years, but for now, let’s break down some of the key dates.

The tournament will begin on November 3rd, which is relatively soon after the season itself commences. The semi-finals begin a little over a month later, on December 7th. Finally, December 9th will feature the final game of the tournament, and its first ever champion will be crowned.

Christmas Day Games

Christmas Day is typically one of the bigger dates on the annual NBA calendar. This is a day that is dominated by the NBA, and we see several marquee matchups every year to boot.

As has become a tradition, the day starts with the Knicks hosting the early game, as this year they’ll host Milwaukee. Following that, the defending champion Denver Nuggets will host Golden State.

The Lakers and Celtics take the middle game on the day’s slate, and they’re followed by Philadelphia heading to South Beach to play the Heat. Finally, capping off the day, the Mavericks and Suns will face off in the desert.

Other Key Dates

Rounding out the 2023-24 NBA schedule calendar, we have a few key dates to cover: First, the 2024 NBA All-Star Weekend will take place in Indianapolis from February 16-18. Finally, rounding out the schedule, the final day of the NBA’s regular season schedule will take place on April 14th.

NFL Power Rankings: Preseason Edition

With training camp in full swing, and the first week of preseason football underway, the sports calendar has officially flipped to football season. With that in mind, let’s take a look at our preseason edition of our NFL Power Rankings.

Photo Credit: Travis Ellisort/Jacksonville Jaguars

#32 Arizona Cardinals

Coming in last on this list of our preseason NFL power rankings is Arizona. A mere two years ago, the Cards found themselves atop the NFC halfway through the 2021 season. Things have fallen apart since then, and the future looks bleak in the desert.

#31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa won the NFC South last year, but it was easily the least impressive division title in the league. The Bucs still have some stars on the roster, but too many question marks at key positions, with quarterback being the most notable.

#30 Houston Texans

Houston has become a regular at the bottom of this list over the past few years. With some very exciting young players in the mix, the future looks bright. Not so much this year, though, at least.

#29 Las Vegas Raiders

A year ago today, the future was very exciting in Nevada. However, as the Josh McDaniels saga has unraveled, so has the Raiders’ future. There are enough good players here for a decent season, but the Raiders have not earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to high expectations.

#28 Indianapolis Colts

The Colts had an awful season last year. Now, they will be without arguably their best player, Jonathan Taylor for the forseeible future. Anthony Richardson will be exciting to watch in his rookie season. Unfortunately for Colts fans, not much else will be.

#27 Carolina Panthers

The Panthers have some bright young players, as do many rebuilding teams in this part of the NFL power rankings. Unfortunately, their window for contention looks like it’s still a few years out

#26 Los Angeles Rams

The Rams do still have some talent from that team that won the 2022 Super Bowl. Unfortunately, most of the stars from that team are aging, or playing elsewhere. As the Rams slowly build their future back up, the next couple of years look bleak in LA.

#25 Washington Commanders

With the recent sale of the team, most Commanders fans are currently happy. Washington has a solid defense, but their offense is still putting the pieces together. This team could surprise some people, but it may be a year or two too early to seriously expect playoff contention in the nation’s capital.

#24 Tennessee Titans

The Titans don’t look like a bad team on paper. They still have Derrick Henry, some promising young receivers, and they also just acquired De’Andre Hopkins. However, after a disappointing 2022 season, with a quarterback on the decline, as well as holes on the offensive line, it’s not looking great in Nashville.

#23 Green Bay Packers

The Packers are a tricky team. They seem to be entering a rebuild, but still have plenty of talent. This is a squad that will go as far, or short, as Jordan Love takes them.

#22 Denver Broncos

Just like Green Bay, the Broncos are a difficult team to forecast. Russell Wilson and the offense looked awful last season, but with a new coaching staff in charge, we might see a completely different offense. Injuries in training camp haven’t helped the cause, though.

#21 Chicago Bears

The Bears have a lot of young talent, and they gained a ton of it by trading the #1 pick in this year’s draft to Carolina. They may still be a year or two away from the playoffs, but they might be a dark horse candidate to make some noise in 2023.

#20 New England Patriots

The Pats are a couple years removed from the glory days. Right now, this looks like a team that could sneak into the playoffs, but has a better chance of going 8-9.

#19 Atlanta Falcons

In a year or two, the Falcons will absolutely be playoff contenders. This team has a ton of young talent. As for this year, it largely depends on the play of Desmond Ridder. Although Ridder has upside, it seems doubtful this team can take the next step in 2023.

#18 New Orleans Saints

The Saints seem stuck in NFL purgatory. They won’t be bad enough to get a good draft pick, yet won’t be good enough to make a serious playoff push. They’ve got cap issues, and signed maybe the most average quarterback in football in Derek Carr. This looks like a middle-of-the-pack team.

#17 Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are a lot like the Falcons. They’ve got a nice young core, and seem to be on the come-up. For now, it will all depend on their young quarterback, Kenny Pickett.

#16 Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings won 13 games last season, yet saw an unfortunate exit in the Wild Card round at the hands of the Giants. They also lost Dalvin Cook and Adam Theilen. Compounding on that, Kirk Cousins is in his contract year, and Justin Jefferson is going to need an extension soon. This year will be very interesting for Minnesota.

#15 Seattle Seahawks

Seattle was expected by most to finish towards the bottom of the league in 2022. They didn’t care, though, sneaking into the last Wild Card spot in the NFC and hanging tough with the 49ers in their playoff game, at least for a while. They went ahead and added one of the most exciting players in the draft in Jaxson Smith-Njiba. This offense should be dialed in, and the Seahawks should be expected to make a return to the postseason.

#14 Cleveland Browns

The Browns are a tough team to predict, and they’ve been all across the board on different “way too early” mock drafts this season. This team will go however far Deshaun Watson takes them. There’s a lot of talent, but it all depends on how Watson does in his first full season back in action.

#13 Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers should have won their playoff game last year. Instead, they lost it in the most Chargers fashion possible. This team brings back a lot of the same talent, and might get their first full season out of J.C. Jackson. Expect Los Angeles to make their way back to the playoffs in 2023.

#12 New York Giants

The Giants shocked the football world last season, and even knocked off the aforementioned 13-win Vikings in the playoffs. They went on to add Darren Waller and speedster Jalin Hyatt in the receiving game. New York was also able to retain Saquon Barkely, which was not an easy task. If Daniel Jones can build on his breakout 2022 campaign, the sky is the limit for the G-men.

#11 Detroit Lions

It feels weird ranking the Lions this high in our NFL power rankings, but they absolutely deserve it. Detroit made a huge jump last year, and just barely missed the playoffs. They made some excellent moves during the off-season, including adding C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Cam Sutton, and Brian Branch. They had an excellent offense in 2022, and have built a very formidable defense to pair. Could 2023 be the year we see the Lions back in the playoffs? It looks likely.

#10 Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys have gone higher on many other mocks, but I’m not that sold on them this year. They beat up on Tampa Bay in the Wild Card round last year, but yet again couldn’t get past San Francisco. With no real changes this offseason, it looks like another typical early-round playoff exit in Dallas this year.

#9 Miami Dolphins

Miami had a very interesting 2022 season. They started off very strong, but injuries derailed that success. Miami managed to make it to the playoffs, and nearly beat the Bills in Buffalo with Skylar Thompson at quarterback. If the Phins can stay healthy in 2023, they can realistically contend for the AFC championship.

#8 New York Jets

Coming into the off-season, most viewed the Jets as being a quarterback away from true contention. They solved that problem by adding Aaron Rodgers, one of the best quarterbacks in recent memory. This is now a very well-rounded team, ready to make a name for themselves.

#7 Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jags lept onto the scene in the 2022 season, thanks to a breakout year from their young quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Now, this team on the rise adds Calvin Ridley. Fresh off a massive playoff comeback, this team should be near the top of any NFL power rankings list for years to come.

#6 Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens are a perennial playoff contender, and 2023 should be no different. Lamar Jackson is sticking around, after all. It also seems his new receiver Zay Flowers happens to be a star in the making. If their new offensive coordinator, Todd Monken, can figure things out — and they stay healthy — Baltimore should be considered one of the best teams in football.

#5 San Francisco 49ers

The Niners’ seem to be in contention every year, yet never seem to get it done. Without a clear plan in place at quarterback, this year may continue that trend. San Francisco has an incredible team outside of the quarterback position, as they have for quite sometime now. As Brock Purdy continues his rehab, and if he isn’t 100% at the start of the season, Trey Lance will have to play well enough to win some games.

#4 Buffalo Bills

Von Miller is still recovering from injury, and Tremaine Edmunds left in free agency. Still, this Bills team is built to contend. They’ve got a sour taste in their mouth after their defeat to Cincy in the divisional round, and will carry that with a vengeance into the 2023 season.

#3 Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals missed repeat AFC championships by the skin of their teeth after a brutal late-hit penalty. They’ll run it back this year with the same core group. The defense did lose some pieces, but the Bengals appear to have some impressive young players, especially in the secondary.

#2 Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles were a holding penalty away from a Super Bowl championship last season, and carry a team just as impressive into this season. The only big change here is at running back. Miles Sanders is gone, and he’ll be replaced by D’Andre Swift.

#1 Kansas City Chiefs

The defending Super Bowl champions don’t belong anywhere else on this list. Even though they have a very below-average receiving corps, they have Patrick Mahomes, so does it really matter? Expect the Chiefs to contend to repeat their title.