Boston Sports Teams Ranked; March 2020
Analyzing the position each Boston sports team is in while all sports are suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Boston Bruins:
The Bruins are currently in first place in the NHL, and they are playing like it. The word of the season for them has been consistency. They have not really had a single lull or losing streak this season. The Bruins strengths are really at all of their positions, but their biggest one is most definitely their first line. That trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak is the best line in the league, and it is not really much of a debate. David Pastrnak has scored a league leading 48 goals and his 95 points are third in the NHL. He has emerged into a superstar, and his goal scoring ability is paralleled by only a few other players in the game.
Brad Marchand has really put a lot of the dirty play in his game behind him, and focused on the skill side. He is one of the best players in the league with the puck, and is the playmaker of the line. Last, but certainly not least, is Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron is the best defensive forward in the league, and maybe the lines best player. Tuukka Rask has been the best goalie in the league this year, period. Boston fans constant criticism of him is absolutely ridiculous.
In my opinion the Bruins strongest position group is their defense. For starters, they have absolutely no holes. Even when regular players are out, they have depth guys to fill in those roles. Charlie McAvoy is logging the most minutes on the team, and is probably their best defenseman. He took some heat for his goal scoring drought, but we knew the goals would start to come, and they have. He is one of the smoothest skating players I have ever seen. Torey Krug is their best offensive defenseman, and runs the second best power play in the league.
Brandon Carlo is easily the most under appreciated player on the Bruins, and is growing into an absolutely shut down defenseman. We haven't even mentioned team captain Zdeno Chara yet, who is not just a stellar leader, but can still contribute on the ice as well. Critics of the Bruins worry about their depth scoring, and although it has not been amazing this year, I think there is room for optimism. They have skill on the middle six forwards, but it seems they just haven't quite clicked, and head coach Bruce Cassidy is still shuffling those lines. Either way, the Bruins currently hold the title as the best Boston team right now.
2. Boston Celtics:
This is the best team the Celtics have had in almost ten years, and they are a really exciting group to watch. They are currently third in the Eastern Conference, and have already clinched a playoff berth. While they have a slew of really talented players, their best player so far this season has been Jayson Tatum. In the final month of the season before the break, February, Tatum was awarded the NBA player of the month. He is by far playing the best basketball of his career, and while Boston has been plagued by injuries, his consistency has been huge for the Celtics. He is no longer just a projected star, he is the Celtics best player, and also one of the best in the league.
I can't speak enough as to how the culture has completely changed around this Celtics team. I hate to go back to the Kyrie Irving vs. Kemba Walker discussion, but that switch has been absolutely huge for the C's. Kemba's team play and attitude on and off the court has rubbed off on all of his teammates in a huge way. That is especially clear in Jaylen Brown's game this season. He has really picked up his play, and overall just looks a lot more confident shooting the ball. Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter have been really good at times, but are also inconsistent. Marcus Smart continues to be one of the hardest workers and best defenders in the game. Overall, a completely healthy Celtics team is no question a title contender.
3. New England Patriots:
The dynasty is over. It feels crazy thinking that Tom Brady is no longer a New England Patriot, but he's not, so let's move on. The Pats disappointing end to last season showcased a lack of offensive talent that really was apparent all year long. With Brady gone, and Edelman a year older, that offense will just get worse if Bill Belichick is not able to make a few changes. We can't avoid the quarterback conversation, so here goes it: The most likely player to start at QB for New England next year is Jarrett Stidham. Last year's fourth round pick out of Auburn has a good arm, and good fundamentals. We just really haven't seen him play any meaningful snaps though, so anything could happen.
Hopefully this doesn't happen, but the second most likely player to start at QB next year is Brian Hoyer. Hoyer is back to the Patriots for a third time, but the career backup is not a valid NFL starter. Belichick seems to like him, but hopefully just as a mentor to a younger starter. I believe that there are a few other guys that Belichick could go after. Most likely, former Patriot Jacoby Brissett. Brissett's Colts added Phillipp Rivers in the offseason, and Belichick always liked Brissett as well. A few other VERY long shots include the likes of Cam Newton and Andy Dalton, although I really don't see either of those happening.
While the defense has lost valuable players this offseason (Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Duron Harmon), remember that the Pats defense is not about stars, it is about systems. That defense makes stars, and then lets them go, it is just what they do. Don't worry too much about that side of the ball.
I truly believe that with Bill Belichick at the helm, the Pats could still contend. Do I think that's likely though? No. They just don't have a good enough offense. If I were to predict right now, I would say that the Buffalo Bills are going to win the AFC East. Every team in the division besides the Pats made significant strides forward this offseason as well. The AFC East will no longer be just a cakewalk for New England, and their eleven consecutive years as division champion run might just come to an end.
4. Boston Red Sox:
In many ways, next season is a fresh start for the Red Sox. A fresh start that is without their best batter and pitcher. Former MVP Mookie Betts is traded away to the Dodgers, and former Cy Young winner Chris Sale is out with Tommy John surgery. Last season was a bitter disappointment for the then reigning World Series Champs, as they failed to make the playoffs, finished third in the AL East, and were 19 games back of the first place New York Yankees. Yup, that one stings. Not much went right for the Red Sox last season, but that doesn't mean that next year will automatically be even more of a disaster.
The problems with the Red Sox last year all stemmed from their pitching. Find pretty much any pitching statistic, and the Red Sox will be in the bottom half of the MLB. Trust me when I say that it will be even worse next season. The Sox had four starters start at least twenty games last season. Three of those players are gone. Sale is done for the year, David Price is on the Dodgers, and Rick Porcello on the Mets. Those guys were not replaced either. Eduardo Rodriguez will be their ace, the ever inconsistent Nathan Eovaldi will also be a starter, but beyond those two is a huge, gaping hole.
Despite losing Mookie Betts, I honestly think the Red Sox offense is just fine. This opinion might take some flack, but I think Betts is over rated. He didn't hit 30 home runs, he didn't bat .300, and he didn't hit more than 80 RBI's. He did bat leadoff, but those numbers can be made up collectively. Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and J.D. Martinez are all frankly, really good. Devers was just 22 years old, but had a monster season, batting .311 with 32 home runs, 54 doubles, and 115 RBI's. Bogaerts' numbers almost exactly mirror those of Devers, as he hit .309 with 33 home runs, 52 doubles, and 117 RBI's. Martinez finished the year with 36 home runs, 105 RBI, and a .304 average.