By: Robert Bishop
Back again, and late Sunday night, the New England Patriots generated waves with a huge signing. The Patriots signed quarterback Cam Newton to an incentive-laden one-year deal. New England had previously appeared fully committed to Jarrett Stidham as its starter for the upcoming season. Still, Newton represents such a tremendous bargain that the Patriots simply couldn’t ignore the opportunity. This is a quintessential low-risk move that could potentially reap a massive reward for the post-Tom Brady Patriots.
Newton’s most recent stretch of play has been far from inspiring. However, injuries undoubtedly played a huge role in his dramatic decline in production. Now seemingly fully healthy, Newton will be motivated to erase the concerns surrounding his ability to remain a viable starting quarterback in the NFL. Newton won’t have an inspiring collection of pass-catchers at his disposal in New England, but he was able to win the 2015 MVP Award with a sub-par group of receivers.
In the recent past, New England illustrated an ability to fashion a creative game-plan built around a mobile quarterback when Jacoby Brissett started a few games in 2017. Even at a level below his peak from 2015, a healthy 2020 version of Cam Newton is far beyond Brissett in 2017. The Buffalo Bills remain the obvious favorites in the AFC East. However, Newton leading the Patriots for 16 games would make New England a legitimate threat. The Patriots will simply need to keep Newton healthy for the duration of the season to be back in contention next season.
Some exciting news from the world of baseball came yesterday. It was confirmed that Angels outfielder/pitcher Shohei Ohtani would resume duties as a two-way player at the outset of the upcoming 2020 season. Ohtani was initially expected to spend the first half of the year operating solely as a hitter as he worked his way back from 2018 elbow surgery. Now, as a side effect to the delayed start to the season, the Angels appear confident in letting Ohtani once again operate as one of the most unique—and exciting—players in baseball.
Few teams in baseball represent a higher chance to jump into the playoff fold than the Angels. Not only will the Angels be welcoming back Ohtani, who was strong during his ten-game stint on the mound for the Angels in 2018 before his injury, but L.A. also added one of the game’s best position players during the winter, third baseman Anthony Rendon. Rendon is coming off three straight superstar, MVP-caliber seasons. He will form arguably the American League’s best lineup duo alongside the perineal astounding Mike Trout. Another plus for the Angels is the return of shortstop and defensive wizard Andrelton Simmons, who was limited to 103 games in 2019 due to a lingering ankle injury.
In the NBA, the Brooklyn Nets are suddenly looking incredibly vulnerable within the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Nets were always going to be without Kyrie Irving for the playoffs. Now, both DeAndre Jordan and Spencer Dinwiddie have both tested positive for COVID-19. Jordan has already opted out of joining the Nets in Orlando for the resumed season, and Dinwiddie’s status is in doubt. Brooklyn holds the No. 7 seed in the East, but with a depleted roster, the Nets will have a difficult time winning.
The Washington Wizards are the only non-playoff team invited to Orlando from the East. While the Wizards face an uphill climb to reach the playoffs, Bradley Beal and company suddenly have a path to the playoffs. Of course, sneaking in at the back-end of the playoff fold merely guarantees Washington a shellacking from the Milwaukee Bucks. On the plus side for the Wizards, point guard John Wall—out all season with a ruptured Achilles—is said to be at full strength. Wall will likely be good to go for next season.