Tar Takes 4.23.18: LeBron James, Ben Simmons, Lamar Jackson, Luke Maye

Philadelphia 76ers Guard Ben Simmons (Photo via Getty Images)

Watch the second Tar Takes broadcast with Ryan Lipton and David Matlock below! Tar Takes is presented by The JR Report and the brand new app Relevnt!

We discuss the latest in the sports world with debate segments of the hottest NBA/NFL topics of the week as well as the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Today, we take a look at LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ struggles against the Indiana Pacers, who we think the favorites are in the Eastern Conference, what we think of Luke Maye, Joel Berry, Theo Pinson and the NBA Draft, and the top storylines for the 2018 NFL draft.

For individual segments click the links below!

What do you make of the Cavaliers’ struggles?

What will be the Eastern Conference Finals matchup in the 2018 NBA playoffs?

Can UNC’s Luke Maye make it to the NBA?

Will Joel Berry or Theo Pinson be drafted to the NBA?

What are the top storylines for the 2018 NFL draft?

Is Patrick Reed commenting on our post?

Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and The JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

NFL: Rob Werner’s Week 13 picks against spread

Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford (Photo via Getty Images)

The JR Report’s Rob Werner has hit on 50% of his picks (26-26) of his picks this season.

Here are Werner’s picks against ESPN’s spread for Week 13 of the NFL regular season.

Rob Werner’s NFL Week 13 picks against the spread!

New England Patriots (-8.5) at Buffalo Bills

Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5) at New York Jets

Detroit Lions (+2.5) at Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-4)

Los Angeles Rams (-7) at Arizona Cardinals

*** The lines are taken from ESPN’s scoreboard***


For Ryan Lipton’s picks (34/54), 63% in 2016, click here. 

Rob Werner is a contributing writer for The JR Report. For more news follow him on twitter @robwerner28.

Ryan Lipton’s Raiders-Patriots weekly round-up

Photo via Getty Images

Here are some of Ryan Lipton’s articles from the last two weeks to get Raider Nation ready for the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots matchup this NFL Sunday in Mexico City.

One reason Raiders have better chance to beat the Patriots than you might think

Todd Downing to ‘take a new focus’ with Raiders after bye week

Patriots-Raiders fantasy football preview: Who to start, sit

Raiders’ fantasy forecast for season second half

Why Raiders need to pursue Ex-Colts CB Vontae Davis

Raiders midseason fantasy football grades

Obi Melifonwu could be the missing piece to save the Raiders’ season


Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and The JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

NFL: Rob Werner’s Week 10 picks against spread

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (Photo via John G. Mabanglo/ European Pressphoto Agency)

The JR Report’s Rob Werner has hit on 51.2% of his picks (20-19) of his picks this season.

Here are Werner’s picks against ESPN’s spread for Week 10 of the NFL regular season.

Rob Werner’s NFL Week 10 picks against the spread!

Seattle Seahawks (-6) at Arizona Cardinals

New Orleans Saints at Buffalo Bills (+3)  

Green Bay Packers (+5.5) at Chicago Bears

Minnesota Vikings (-1.5) at Washington Redskins

New England Patriots (-7.5) at Denver Broncos

Continue reading “NFL: Rob Werner’s Week 10 picks against spread”

NFL: Rob Werner’s Week 6 picks against spread (62% in 2017)

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (Photo via Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The JR Report’s Rob Werner has had an impressive start to the season hitting on 62% (13-8) of his picks and went 3-2 during Week 5.

Here are Werner’s picks against ESPN’s spread for Week 6 of the NFL regular season.

Rob Werner’s NFL Week 6 picks against the spread!

Continue reading “NFL: Rob Werner’s Week 6 picks against spread (62% in 2017)”

NFL: Ryan Lipton’s top 5 Week 4 picks against spread

Detroit Lions QB Matt Stafford (Photo via Al Bello/Getty Images)

After hitting on 63 percent (34/54) of his picks during the 2016 NFL regular season, The JR Report and Ryan Lipton are back with their top 5 picks against the spread for Week 4.

So far, The JR Report (Ryan Lipton) has hit on 56.3 percent (9/16) of its picks during this NFL season.

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Week 4 picks against the spread!

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-7)

Atlanta Falcons (-8) vs. Buffalo Bills

Dallas Cowboys (-6.5) vs. LA Rams

Detroit Lions (+0) at Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots (-9) vs. Carolina Panthers

*** The lines are taken from ESPN’s scoreboard***

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Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and The JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

NFL: 6 main takeaways after crazy Week 3

Week 3 of the 2017 NFL regular season may have been the wildest week in NFL history. It seemed that every morning game finished within five minutes of each other and there were nine upsets on the day.

Even the teams that were favored had to win in nail-biting fashion, including the New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers.

That afternoon and night, more of the same continued with the Cincinnati Bengals almost winning, the Tennessee Titans beating the Legion of Boom, and the Oakland Raiders getting manhandled by the Washington Redskins.

With the wild weekend in the rearview mirror, here are the main takeaways from Sunday’s action.

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Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (Photo via Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Seattle’s O-Line too much to overcome

The Seattle Seahawks began the season with a 1-1 start and needed to grab a win. As such, the Legion of Boom would have been expected to come out fierce and will the Seahawks to a tough victory.

Instead, quarterback Russell Wilson was left to carry the team on his own as the running game was nonexistent and the defense gave up 33 points to the Titans, an offense that mustered just 16 in Week 1 against the Raiders.

Seattle possesses an elite quarterback entering his prime but doesn’t have an offensive line to protect him, along with zero weapons on offense, and an aging defense whose window is closing.

The addition of defensive end Sheldon Richardson should have reignited the defense, however, the front seven aside from linebacker Bobby Wagner has been subpar, shown by the Titans’ 195 yards on the ground.

The Seahawks need to overhaul their offense and build an offensive line around Wilson. Until they do, Seattle will be wasting Wilson’s best years and be out of Super Bowl contention.

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Kansas City Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt scores touchdown vs. Patriots (Photo via Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Chiefs are doing the hunting

Some thought the Kansas City Chiefs’ time was running out. It seemed like quarterback Alex Smith was on his way out since they drafted quarterback Patrick Mahomes and that 2017 could be a slight down year.

Instead, Smith is having one of the best seasons of his career, throwing seven touchdowns without an interception through the first three weeks.

Coach Andy Reid is also showing us why he is a future first-ballot Hall of Fame head coach after victories over the Patriots, Chargers and Eagles, three teams many thought would make a playoff push before the season started.

The Chiefs also have an unstoppable weapon out of the backfield in running back Kareem Hunt, which could create a dangerous duo for the next half-decade of him and Smith. Hunt, in just three games, has 538 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns.

Wide receiver Tyreek Hill has continued improving after his impressive 2016 rookie campaign tallying 277 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns already.

Kansas City has it all. An elite head coach, good quarterback, stout defense and a plethora of offensive weapons. They might be the best and most complete team in the NFL.

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Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports)

Cam isn’t Super Cam

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s start to the 2017 NFL regular season has not been pretty. The one-time MVP has thrown for 566 yards with just two touchdowns to four interceptions. Not great numbers for a franchise quarterback.

Losing top target and tight end Greg Olsen along with wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin often being injured, Newton does not have much room for error. He has never been the most accurate quarterback, shown by his career completion percentage of 58.5%, and will be without elite pass catchers who can help catch a few errantly thrown balls here and there.

As such, it doesn’t look like it will get much better for the Panthers and Newton. They will need to go back to using a strong power running game, playing tough defense, and using Newton’s big arm to stretch the field when the opportunity presents itself.

Newton is a good quarterback, who can make incredible plays, but he isn’t good enough to win his team games each and every Sunday.

The next three games will be telling for Newton as they have New England (away), Detroit (away) and Philadelphia coming up.

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Photo via USA Today Sports

Brady back to being the GOAT

Midway through Week 3, the Patriots were staring a 1-2 start in the face. Was it the beginning of the end for New England if they lost to the Houston Texans and Chiefs at home?

No, it was quite the opposite. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady led an amazing eight play, 75-yard drive to take the lead with just 23 seconds left in the game.

The drive might have been lucky as there were a dropped interception and a fumble recovery, yet Brady still drove down the field in incredible fashion, throwing strikes while getting blasted.

The defense might be a little weaker in 2017, but Brady, despite the Week 1 outlier, is as good as ever at 40-years of age.

Remember, Brady didn’t have tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Brandin Cooks in 2016. Consequently, the former Wolverine will only look better as the season progresses.

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Photo via Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Falcons are Super Bowl Contenders

Admittedly, I was a major skeptic of the Atlanta Falcons coming into this season. They had an incredible 2016 season with an improving defense and one of the best offenses in NFL history.

However, I expected that the loss of coach Kyle Shanahan would hurt quarterback Matt Ryan’s performance. They would still be very good, but not historic. Moreover, I thought Ryan’s year was an arbitration.

So far in 2017, Ryan has thrown for just under 900 yards and has led this team to an impressive 29 points per game. The offensive numbers are not as astounding as last season, but their defense has improved, surrendering just 22 points per game so far, making them as good if not better than last season.

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Ravens QB Joe Flacco after loss to Jaguars in London (Photo via Logan Bowles/NFL)

The AFC North is not good

The AFC North has two winless teams in the Bengals and Cleveland Browns. The two teams with winning records, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, couldn’t look worse.

Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore lost to a Blake Bortles led Jacksonville Jaguars team by 37 points. Quarterback Joe Flacco and this offense are nowhere near playoff caliber.

After playing three poor teams, who have a combined two wins, the Ravens have mustered just 17 points per game. In addition, Flacco is only averaging 122 yards per game through the air.

The big Flacco payday is finally catching up with the team in a debilitating fashion.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Despite having a winning record, the Steelers have looked quite bad to this point on the road. Their home victory against the Minnesota Vikings was nice, but then again quarterback Sam Bradford didn’t play.

On the road, Pittsburgh has lost to the Chicago Bears, a flat-out bad team, and played the winless Browns close.

The Steelers are still a good team and will easily win the division, but need to fix their woes on the road and get running back LeVeon Bell and the running game in gear if they want to seriously contend for a Lombardi Trophy in February.


Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and The JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

NFL: Ryan Lipton’s top 5 Week 3 picks against spread

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston (Photo via Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

After a hot start going 8-3 in the first two weeks or the NFL regular season, The JR Report and Ryan Lipton are back with their top 5 picks against the spread for Week 3.

Remember, The JR Report (Ryan Lipton) hit on 63% (34/54) of its picks during last year’s regular season.

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Week 3 picks against the spread!

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5) at Minnesota Vikings 

Houston Texans at New England Patriots (-14)

Seattle Seahawks (+2.5) at Tennessee Titans 

Dallas Cowboys (-3) at Arizona Cardinals 

Oakland Raiders (-3) at Washington Redskins 

*** The lines are taken from ESPN’s scoreboard***

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Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and The JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

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Why Saints QB Drew Brees should request a trade

Saints QB Drew Brees (photo via Getty Images)

The New Orleans Saints have won seven games for the past three seasons. After Monday night’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings, it seems 2017 will be more of the same.

The horrendous defense is too much for future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees to overcome.

Brees should flex his muscles and ask to be traded. Realistically, Brees would never turn his back on the city of New Orleans, but it would actually make a lot of sense for the rest of his career and maybe even the Saints’ future.

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Photo via David Grunfeld, NOLA.com / The Times-Picayune

The Saints’ defense couldn’t be worse

During Brees’ 12 seasons in New Orleans, the team has only had a scoring defense ranked better than No. 20 three times. The Saints have had the No. 31, 32, and 28 scoring defense in the past three seasons respectively.

No matter who Brees is facing, he knows he will have to display turnover free football and light it up in the passing game if he just wants to keep the game close.

On Monday night, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns while completing 84.3 % of his passes. At best, Bradford is an average quarterback. But against the New Orleans’ defense, Bradford looked to be a top 5 quarterback in the league.

Moreover, Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, who never played a down in the NFL until Monday night, had 137 yards from scrimmage and averaged over 5.7 yards per carry. It doesn’t matter who the Saints are playing, they find a way to make the opposing offense look like all-pros.

Even with the No. 2 ranked scoring offense from 2016, the Saints could only win seven games. Brees is doing everything he can, but a poor defensive group makes it impossible for him to ever dream of making the postseason again in New Orleans.

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Photo via David Grunfeld, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

GM Mickey Loomis can’t get it right

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis has not been able to do anything right since New Orleans won their first Super Bowl in 2010.

As mentioned above, the Saints’ defense has been pathetic. Even on offense, Loomis sent away the talented pieces that they drafted around Brees.

The lack of talent and success surrounding Brees falls squarely on the shoulders of Loomis. As such, here are the two main moves that display Loomis’ failures.

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Photo via Chris Graythen / Getty Images

Trading away Jimmy Graham

In 2015, New Orleans traded their star tight end Jimmy Graham and a fourth round pick to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for center Max Unger and a first round pick in the 2015 NFL draft (No. 31 overall).

At the time, Graham and Brees were arguably the best quarterback-receiving duo in all of football. For example, Graham had 86 receptions for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2013.

Despite the incredible success, Loomis thought it’d be smart to trade Graham away for Unger and the first-round pick.

Unger has been a solid player at center, but if the rest of the offensive line isn’t up to par, it doesn’t matter how good the center play is. All in all, Unger was a nice addition but was nowhere near as important to the team as Graham.

Unfortunately, that No. 31 overall selection turned in to linebacker Stephone Anthony who has just 128 tackles, one sack and one interception during his NFL career. He also acquired horrible Pro Football Focus player grades of 42.2 and 44.8 in his two seasons.

Overall, the trade did not do any favors for Brees and the Saints’ organization.

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Photo via Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Brandin Cooks

New Orleans did acquire a lot of picks including a first and third round selection by sending wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the New England Patriots.

Cooks was a dominant weapon with Brees hauling in 162 receptions for 2,311 yards and 17 touchdowns over the last two seasons in New Orleans, however, they decided to trade away Brees’ No. 1 target again.

The Saints have shown a trend to trade away their best homegrown talent. Unfortunately, they haven’t been the best drafting team. Therefore, they should hold on to the great pieces they do get instead of trading their talent away for future draft picks that the front office will probably end up missing on.

Consequently, New Orleans now has a franchise quarterback surrounded by a historically bad defense, a poor offensive line and a lack of weapons at the skill positions. Not a sound recipe for playoff success.

It was great to get tackle Ryan Ramczyk as he will help solidify the left tackle position, but third round pick Trey Hendrickson will need to become a starter before the trade can claim to be a win.

Even if the trade turns out to be good for the Saints, they still have a poor precedent of moving their own talent. The best teams draft well and re-sign those draft picks to keep them in town for many years.

If Brees doesn’t request a change in New Orleans or a trade out of the Big Easy, then many more seven win seasons will be on the horizon.


Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and The JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

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NFL overreaction Monday: What’s right and wrong

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Tomorrow will be overreaction Monday in the NFL. Fans across America will have seen their team play one game (except for Miami and Tampa Bay) and will be making assumptions about the rest of the season based upon on one 60 minute sample.

As always, many of these conclusions end up being very far from the truth.

As such, here is The JR Report’s advice on what overreactions are legit after the NFL’s Week 1 action.

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Sep 29, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) motions on the line during the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Where it’s wrong to overreact

The Patriots will be the Patriots

The New England Patriots were without wide receiver Julian Edelman. Wide receiver Philip Dorsett was just traded to the team and it was WR Brandin Cooks’ first game with quarterback Tom Brady.

Moreover, all-pro safety Eric Berry had the evening of his life completely taking tight end Rob Gronkowski out of the game.

Offensively, everything went against New England. Brady will be fine and the chemistry between him and the rest of the offense will only improve as the season progresses. Remember, they still put up 27 points against an elite Kansas City Chiefs defense on an off night with many injuries.

On defense, there were also many new pieces added during the offseason that included cornerback Stephon Gillmore. There was also an unfortunate injury to stud linebacker Dont’a Hightower.

Coach Bill Belichick will turn around the defense and Brady will do the same with the offense. The rest of the NFL should not think this is the end of anything with New England.

The Patriots will be back and better than ever during Week 2’s matchup against the New Orleans Saints.

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Photo via Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona will be OK

The Arizona Cardinals lost in ugly fashion as they gave up 20 fourth quarter points and quarterback Carson Palmer threw three inceptions. However, the Cardinals will not be a below .500 team like they were last season.

Arizona still has a good defense, a stellar running back and a pretty great duo in Palmer and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

The Cardinals were a little unlucky on the road against a possible playoff team in the Detroit Lions. Don’t overreact. Look for Arizona to bounce back in a major fashion against the Luck-less Indianapolis Colts in Week 2.

*** Update: With Cardinals running back David Johnson injured for what could be half the season, the future is not quite as bright. Nonetheless, Arizona will still look to be an improved team in 2017 and will stay afloat in the NFC wild card race until Johnson returns. ***

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Photo via AP Images

Jared Goff is still 1-7

Yes, Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff looked great today, however, it was against the Colts.

Remember, Indianapolis had what many people thought was the worst defense in the league in 2016. Even with quarterback Andrew Luck, they only won eight games. Now, they don’t have Luck so their league worst defense is now joined by a league worst offense as they have no hope without their MVP under center.

Without a doubt, Goff is an improved quarterback in 2017. But no Los Angeles fan should get ahead of themselves.

Goff will look good early, but 2016 Goff will be present shortly as their schedule becomes brutal with the Dallas Cowboys, (Jacksonville Jaguars?), Seattle Seahawks, Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings and Houston Texans all in the next 10 weeks.

(Next page, Where it’s right to overreact)


Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and The JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.