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“Red Light Sports Ramble” ~ Friday night baseball; the American League wildcard race is becoming interesting!

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The American League wildcard race is heating up heading into September. Six teams are within 2.5 games of claiming the final wild card spot. The Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees will battle for the American League East title, with the runner-up most likely being the number one wildcard. The Houston Astros have increased their lead to five games, over the Texas Rangers. Kansas City continues to cruise at 78-49, which is the best record in the American League.

The National League playoff picture is beginning to take form. The Pittsburgh PIrates and Chicago Cubs have a strong hold over the San Francisco Giants. The Giants are only 2.5 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers, in the NL West, and that could be the only way they will make the postseason. The New York Mets have increased their lead in the NL East to 6.5 games, while the St. Louis Cardinals just keep winning and have the best record in baseball.

With September baseball, on the horizon, is there a team that will put together a big winning streak and make a surprise run into the postseason? Listen in and call the show with your thoughts.

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“Red Light Sports Ramble” ~ AFC West ~ NFL Preview; Can three teams make the playoffs from this division?

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When a coach wins four AFC West division championships; in a row, you would not think that a coaching change would take place. John Fox led the Broncos to the Super Bowl, but could not bring the Vince Lombardi Trophy back to Denver. John Elway decided to make a coaching change and hired Gary Kubiak. Peyton Manning battled injuries last season and did not look like an elite quarterback. The expectations are high, and it is apparent that it is Super Bowl or bust.

San Diego and Kansas City have been the bridesmaids, in this division. Is this the year that they can overtake the Broncos? The Chargers had a rotating door at running back last year, so they drafted Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordan. The Chiefs passing attack has been weak in the red zone and getting touchdown production from their wide receivers. In free agency, they signed Jeremy Maclin. The Oakland Raiders signed a lot of veteran free agents, on defense, in 2014. That project failed, but they have many young pieces on offense.

Can this division claim the two wild-card spots, in the AFC? Listen in and call the show with your thoughts.

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“Red Light Sports Ramble” ~ NFC South ~ NFL Preview; will division winner eclipse the .500 mark this year?

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The NFC South was created, in 2002. The Atlanta Falcons are the only team who has not played in the Super Bowl. No team had won back to back division titles, until last year. The Carolina Panthers defended their NFC South title. However, there was much debate about them hosting a wild card game, because of their 7-8-1 record. Will this years division champion eclipse the .500 mark?

Can the Panthers make it three division titles, in a row? The Panthers did not make any major moves in free agency. They picked up a few role players, and the only real loss was DeAngelo Williams. However, he has had a history of nagging injuries, and signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The biggest news before the season is the loss of Kelvin Benjamin. He tore his ACL during practice. This is a big blow offensively. Defensively, they have Luke Kuechly, who is one of the best tacklers, in the NFL. They have a good front seven, and added depth by drafting linebacker Shaq Thompson. The secondary could be a question mark, but with a good pass rush, you can take pressure of average cornerbacks.

After failing to make the Super Bowl, and then having a disappointing 2014, Mike Smith was fired as the Falcons coach. The Atlanta defense can only go one direction, and that is up. After finishing dead last in yards allowed per game, they signed a handful of defensive players, and then added more with their first two picks. Vic Beasley and Jalen Collins could be inserted into the starting lineup sooner than later. Offensively, Matt Ryan has Julio Jones and Roddy White to toss the ball to. Devonta Freeman will get his chance at running back, once his hamstring is 100%.

Jameis Winston was the first overall pick, by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Lovie Smith will need to turn this team around to keep his job, after a disappointing 2-14 season. Having the first overall pick puts you in a no win situation. Winston will have all of the pressure on his shoulders to become the face of the franchise, and bring them back to the Super Bowl. He has a number of doubters, that don’t think he should have been the first pick. Either way, the Buccaneers have to play better team football. To help Winston, they will need to establish a running game. Doug Martin will be the starting running back, and has shown signs of being able to carry the load. On paper, this team looks much better than 2-14, but it has to carry over to the field.

The New Orleans Saints have slowly descended from playoff talk, but they still have Drew Brees. The departure of Jimmy Graham seems like a big loss. However, Brees has been making average receivers better since he arrived, in New Orleans. There are bigger questions on the offensive line, and at running back. Sean Peyton will have an offense, the problem will be on the other side of the ball. Knowing the defense was poor at best, the Saints used six draft picks, on defense. They also added Jairus Byrd (Buffalo) and Brandon Browner (New England) to the secondary. It is apparent that Peyton knows this defense has to get better, if they want to win the division.