Aaron Hernandez may only be a tight end on one of the best teams in the NFL, but that position probably has the most impact on the Patriots, just behind quarterback.
With Rob Gronkowski not ready for when the Patriots season opener and now Hernandez being caught up in a murder case, you have to second guess New England’s chances at winning the Super Bowl this season. Yet, over at the LVH Super Book, and many other books around Las Vegas, the Pats are listed as 5-to-1 co-favorites to win it all, along with San Francisco and Denver.
The Patriots have not won a Super Bowl since the 2004 season, but as long as Tom Brady has been at quarterback, they’re always going to be considered a contender.
The past few years, the tight-end combination of Gronkowski and Hernandez has been one of the most productive in the league. Last season, they combined for over 1,100 yards receiving and 16 touchdowns while each missing a few games.
If there is the possibility of both missing part of the season, things don’t look so promising for them in 2013. They also will be without Wes Welker and his 118 receptions from last season. Welker will be with the Broncos this season.
The one savior in this entire scenario for New England could be Tim Tebow, who threw passes to Hernandez at the University of Florida. Tebow still believes he can be a quarterback in this league, but under the circumstances, it wouldn’t be a crazy thought to suggest he starts practicing his talents catching the ball as a tight-end.
All would agree that he is an amazing athlete and his winning attitude is what makes him such a great teammate. He looks more like a tight end than a quarterback and has the body and skills to make it work.
There hasn’t been any word about Tebow filling in at the position, but if there is anyone who could get him to change his mind about quarterbacking, it would be Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels.
The one coach that has been a backer of Tebow was McDaniels, who drafted him in the first round while coaching for the Broncos. Tebow is a team player and wants to make the squad this season, so what better way to show your true character than filling the void where help is needed.
Angels walk the plank: The Pittsburgh Pirates pulled within one game of the NL Central division leading Cardinals by sweeping the Angels over the weekend. While we should no longer be surprised by the mediocrity the Angels play with, we should be pleasantly surprised by the consistent play of the Pirates. Their 46-30 record is the second-best in baseball, just behind St. Louis.
The past two seasons we have seen the Bucs fail miserably after good starts following the All-Star game, but this year’s version of the Pirates seems a little different. Their starting pitching has been outstanding and their bullpen is the best in baseball.
Their best player, Andrew McCutchen, has even started to hit consistently. That said, they’ve still been able to win without the type of contributions he offered the last two years.
The LVH has the Pirates listed at 25-1, a high number that still shows some skepticism. Can the Pirates actually make the playoffs for the first time since 1992, which was Barry Bonds’ final year in Pittsburgh. I think they can.
AL East beast: The entire AL East has a winning record with last-place Toronto and Tampa Bay sitting five games out of first. The Blue Jays, touted as being division favorites before the season started, have shown why they were thought of so highly by winning 11 straight games through Sunday.
Toronto’s pitching has been amazing and all the hitters are mashing the ball collectively. The Red Sox are considered the favorites and are 10-1 to win the World Series, followed by the Orioles (14-1), Yankees (25-1), Rays (25-1) and Blue Jays (30-1).
Heat big favorites for 2014: William Hill sports books posted the Miami Heat as +230 favorites to win the 2013-2014 NBA Championship. Should the Heat do it, it would be their third title in a row, almost getting close to the number LeBron James guaranteed to Miami when he signed with them three years ago.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are 9-2, followed by the Chicago Bulls with Derrick Rose expected back at 6-1. The defending West Champion San Antonio Spurs are 7-1.
Pens favored in 2014: The Pittsburgh Penguins are watching this year’s Stanley Cup from home, but LVH thinks they’re the team to beat in 2014 and has posted them at 5-1 to win it all next year. The Chicago Blackhawks are next at 6-to-1, followed by the St. Louis Blues (8-1) and Boston Bruins at (9-1).
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].