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Next Boston Champion? Red Sox or Patriots?

What a great time to be a Boston sports fan!  The Red Sox are riding a ten game winning streak with a magic number of three to clinch the AL East title with seven games to go.  The Sox are quickly rise as one of the top contenders to win the World Series this year.  The Patriots are 3-0 without Tom Brady and the big story is the mastermind Bill Belichick winning despite the odds being against the Patriots. As always, the Patriots are a major threat to win the Super Bowl this season.  Today, the question is which team is more likely to win the championship this year?  Both teams have a legitimate shot!  We’ll provide arguments for both teams and then provide an opinion on which team is most likely to win the title this year.

 

Boston Red Sox

As we stand today, the Red Sox are now the clear-cut favorites to represent the American League in the World Series.  If you had asked about a month ago, they probably wouldn’t have ranked in the top three.  Things changed quickly in September and they’re peaking at the right time.  For starters, they have the best offense in MLB.  They have three players who are going to reach 30+ home runs and 110+ RBI in David Ortiz, Mookie Betts, and Hanley Ramirez.  They also have the #3 hitter in the AL in Dustin Pedroia who is on his way to a 200 hit season.  Not to mention 20 home runs and 88 RBI for Xander Bogaerts and 26 home runs and 87 RBI from Jackie Bradley Jr.  Let’s be clear.  No one wants to face this offense in the playoffs!

What about the pitching?  The general consensus all year was that it wasn’t good enough.  Many fans would be surprised that the Red Sox actually rank third in the AL with a 4.00 team ERA.  Only Toronto and Cleveland have better pitching statistically.  In addition, the starting pitching has been very strong recently.  Take a look at the Red Sox top four starters ERA’s in the second half of the season:

Rick Porcello:  2.51

David Price:  3.34

Eduardo Rodriguez:  3.21

Clay Buchholz:  3.59

Granted, the overall numbers for these four pitchers are not as impressive.  However, baseball is about who is peaking at the right time.  This team is hot and they’re starting pitching is the main reason why.  Going into the playoffs, having these four guys pitching this way with the likely AL Cy Young Award winner in Porcello at the top is going to be tough for any team to win against.

As far as the bullpen goes, this was the biggest concern for this team heading into September.  They were average at best through the majority of the season.  Then September 1st came.  The Red Sox have the best bullpen ERA in MLB in the month of September.  Craig Kimbrel, Koji Uehara, and Brad Ziegler have been lights out.  In fact, between the three of them, they have given up just one earned run in 23 innings in September.  Wow!  This bullpen went from being a huge weakness to a major strength.

Going into the playoffs, the Red Sox are the team to beat in Major League Baseball.  Yes, the Cubs have a better record.  However, name a team that has nine All Star caliber players like the Red Sox do.  David Ortiz, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr, Hanley Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia, Rick Porcello, David Price, Craig Kimbrel – there’s your list.  The talent on this team is, perhaps, better than any Red Sox team heading into the postseason.

In the American League, there isn’t a team, on paper, that matches the Sox offense and pitching.  However, as we all know, baseball is a sport where any team can get hot (or cold) at any time and the best team doesn’t always win.  The Rangers, Indians, and Blue Jays are all certainly capable of beating the Red Sox.  However, the Red Sox are clearly the most likely to represent the AL in the World Series.  If they get there, what a series would it would be if they played the Cubs.  However, would it shock anyone if the Cubs lost in the first round?

 

New England Patriots

No Tom Brady? No problem!  The Patriots are off to an impressive 3-0 start without their star quarterback.  Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett have both played well with Garoppolo standing out as an elite QB in the first two games.  Offensively, they have showed some great strides in the first game against Arizona and then they went off against Miami.  This was a game where Garoppolo looked like the future QB of the Patriots before he injured his shoulder.  Brissett filled in nicely and managed the game.  System QB has been the talk of the town, but the reality is that the Patriots looked much different with Brissett in.  However, that was not the case with Garoppolo.  They didn’t skip a beat with him.

OK, enough about the QB situation.  Let’s get to the overall team.  Offensively, with Rob Gronkowski back, they’re going to be a top five offense once again this year as long as everyone is healthy.  The issue there is that both Gronk and Julien Edelman are becoming injury prone players.  Hopefully, they can get through the year and make a big playoff impact.  Yes, playoff impact.  They’re locked in already.  We’ll get to that later.

Defensively, the Patriots have looked elite at times and very poor at other times.  They played great in the first half of all three games.  However, they played poorly in the second half against both Arizona and Miami.  It looked like two different defenses.  They rebounded nicely on Thursday Night against the Texans by pitching a shutout.  This D is a Top 10 D, but not an elite D like the Denver Broncos or Seattle Seahawks.  It will, again, be the offense that carries this team.

So, now to the competition.  Once again, the AFC East Division Title is already locked up.  Yes, that’s right.  The Patriots are the AFC East Champs after Week 3.  Sorry, Jets fans.  This continues to be one of the weakest division in the NFL and the Patriots continue to benefit from getting a minimum of four wins in the division every year.  But, what about the rest of the AFC?  This is much different from baseball.  Home field is crucial!  The main competition is likely going to be the Steelers and Broncos and the Pats have to play both of those teams on the road.  Those two games could have a big impact on the playoff seedings.  The Bengals and Ravens will also be in the mix and the Pats get both of those teams at home.  The Pats are the favorites, but getting this #1 seed and home field advantage is not going to be easy.  If they don’t get it, the road gets a lot tougher.

 

The Verdict

Both teams have a tremendous shot to win a championship.  With that said, the Red Sox are more likely to win a championship this year.  We’re a week from the playoffs and this team is the clear-cut favorite in the AL.  If they were to play any team besides the Cubs in the World Series, they would also be the favorite in that series.  The Patriots may very well be in a similar position at the end of the year, but as of today, their road to a championship is more difficult for them including the overall competition in the league.

Time will tell if we have a repeat of 2004 with both teams winning the title!

 

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