Cody Rivera’s Complete Archives

Welcome to the archives. Below, you can find just about every article/column I have written for various sites such as FanSided, Pats Pulpit, Over The Monster and others. Thank you for reading.       -Cody Rivera

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FanSided articles

Nationals should cling tightly to Bryce Harper (2018)

Lonzo Ball is lucky to be along for the ride (2018)

Brett Gardner is miffed about pace-of-play fines (2018)

LeBron James Lakers jersey sales are already going off the charts (2018)

Celtics fans should be more hyped about Gordon Hayward than Kawhi Leonard (2018)

New England Patriots: 5 burning questions in 2018 (2018)

Kevin Durant can get a massive payday and keep winning titles (2018)

Dwyane Wade doesn’t believe LeBron will make a ‘basketball decision’ (2018)

Suns are open to trading first pick, but they shouldn’t (2018)

Donovan Mitchell wants to bring Paul George to Utah (2018)

Can Jordy Nelson elevate Derek Carr to the next level? (2018)

Ryan Shazier’s determination to play football is incredible (2018)

Son of Roger Clemens drafted by Detroit Tigers (2018)

Charles Barkley: “Is Draymond Green annoying?” (2018)

Seahawks defense still has chops to excel (2018)

Bautista should become full-time DH (2018)

Terry Rozier finds the positives (2018)

Red Sox-Yankees slideshow (2018)

Warriors get shut out of NBA awards (2018)

Cubs fan wears jersey at Yankee Stadium graduation (2018)

Twitter reactions of the ‘Hamptons 5’ (2018)

Steve Kerr makes gambling jokes (2018)

Hue Jackson to jump in Lake Erie (2018)

Golden Knights vs. Jets: Game 2 prediction (2018)

David Price and video gaming (2018)

Don’t count out the Celtics (2018)

If the Red Sox beat the Yankees, they will have earned it (2018)

Hanley Ramirez should have no more doubters (2018)

Over The Monster articles

Baseball bliss in the Bronx (2018)

Dreading the potential Wild Card Game (2018)

Rafael Devers: awesome and irritating (2018)

Can Eduardo Rodriguez save my fantasy season? (2018)

Chris Sale’s bad days are the worst kind of days (2018)

Proud to be living in Mookie’s world (2018)

It’s good to be home (2018)

Confidence is low heading to the Bronx (2018)

Pats Pulpit articles

Which Boston team will win a title next? (2018)

Tom Brady to sign with Golden State Warriors (2018)

A nonsense column (2018)

Get ready for the ‘Edelman is a cheater’ taunts (2018)

Julian Edelman suspended … it’s my fault (2018)

Are things still the same with Tom Brady? (2018)

Brad Stevens and Bill Belichick (2018)

Have we seen the last of Ryan Allen? (2018)

Tom Brady’s shiny black and gold jacket (2018)

Drew Bledsoe reemerges onto the Boston sports scene (2018)

Draft day phone call with Isaiah Wynn (2018)

Befuddled by the lack of QB concern (2018)

I’m relieved Lamar Jackson is off the board (2018)

My choice for the Patriots’ QB of the future (2018)

Jordan Matthews, the new No. 80 (2018)

Gronkowski to compete in Kentucky Derby (2018)

The Hockey Writers articles

Capitals vs. Golden Knights: A Winner for Everybody

Golden Knights Bandwagon Easy to Hop On

Bruins fans, the future looks bright

BOS-TB: Takeaways from Games 3 and 4

BOS-TB: Observations after two

Biggest moments of Game 7

Game 7: Most thrilling experience in sports

Time for the ‘bounce back’ Boston Bruins

Bruins right where Maple Leafs want?

These Bruins are vicious and relentless

Difficult to pick a Bruins-Leafs winner

Bruins’ loss to Panthers is a red flag

Casual fans should want a Bruins-Leafs series

Carlo experiences cruel reality of sports

This Bruins team seems destined for June

Chara extension shows how beloved he is

Patrice Bergeron makes everything better

Tyler Seguin is the Bruin that got away

 

Below is a list of links to previous articles that I have published on PatsPulpit.com and TheHockeyWriters.com. 

Ryan Donato Is Living The Dream

Farewell Tribute No. 4: Nate Solder

Keep the Faith in Tuukka Rask

Farewell Tribute No. 3: Malcolm Butler

Farewell Tribute No. 2: Dion Lewis

Farewell Tribute No. 1: Danny Amendola

Bruins & Leafs Rivalry Revived in Playoffs?

A letter to Richard Sherman

Some football (and non-football) ramblings

Bruins Serve up Youth in Stanley Cup Push

Bruce Cassidy Deserves Extra Credit

Brad Marchand Continues to Prove His Worth

Could Belichick add Jonathan Stewart to his list?

Ranking New England’s five Super Bowl titles

Five Patriots game to look forward to in 2018

Trying to avoid the Tom Brady blasphemy

The first Sunday without football

Lingering thoughts as the Super Bowl loss wears off…

Denied by a pack of Eagles

Going for Trifecta 2.0

We’re going back, back, back again

Jaylen and the Jaguars?

Could this postseason get any weirder for the Patriots?

Titans at Patriots … I never saw this coming

Playoffs, baby!: Prediting the 2017 NFL Wild Card Round

It’s officially January in New England

Week 16: Happy Football Holidays

The world needs a Patriots-Steelers rematch

The Patriots do what they do best

Week 15: A weekend of football and ‘Star Wars’

The King’s Patriots-Steelers Preview

Basking in Super Bowl nostalgia

Week 14 picks: Sunday’s best matchups

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A Monday night of fun at the Garden

By Cody Rivera

Note: This column appears in the FanPosts section of CelticsBlog.com.

Just moments before the Celtics and Bucks tipped off at the TD Garden on Monday night, I sent out a tweet that said “Oh crap, the Celtics have to play Giannis tonight” followed by a bunch of nervous-looking emoji faces. After all, he is the Greek Freak. Is there a scarier player in the Eastern Conference other than LeBron James? Boston and Milwaukee had split the season series 1-1 coming into this game, and you never know when Giannis is going to drop a 40-pointer on you for a crushing defeat.

And sure enough, Giannis did drop 40 points on the Celtics … but on this night, it was just an afterthought. The Celtics won the game 111-100, and even though they wound up only separated by 11 points, the game was never really that close. Boston was the better team from beginning to end, highlighted by yet another superstar performance by Kyrie Irving (32 points, 13-24, 2-4 from three), who is my MVP hands down. And then after the game was over, Kyrie climbed to the top of the Prudential Tower and flew off the roof, landing safely in the center of Fenway Park while flexing his muscles. Why? Because he could.

This was pretty much your most ideal Celtics victory. They played like the better team, they held the lead throughout the game, the Bucks went on runs here and there but the Celts never really let them get back into it, their prize rookie (Jayson Tatum) started the game off absolutely red hot and finished 4-5 from beyond the 3-point line, the Celtics rebounded the ball, forced turnovers and never let up defensively, and despite being unable to stop Giannis from scoring 40, the Celtics never really looked like they were in trouble.

It was a stress-free evening for fans like myself who were watching the game. With the way they were playing, I wasn’t worried about them blowing the lead. Instead of fidgeting in my seat and sweating it out (like I’ve done during a good chunk of Celtics games this year), I just had fun watching. I relaxed and soaked in the fact that the Celtics were on their way to becoming the only 21-4 team in the NBA. A lot of times during the heat of competition, fans forget to bask in the excitement of what’s happening.

Not during this game though. Once it reached the second quarter, I knew the Celtics weren’t losing this one; they had a special flare about them. A special flare that said Giannis might someday be the best player in the world, but on this night, he has no chance. He’s not getting us tonight. And Giannis tried. As mentioned earlier, he put up 40 points on 14-24 shooting – no minor feat. But ultimately, it didn’t matter. He wasn’t beating this Celtics team on this night. It just wasn’t happening.

And because I realized this before we even reached halftime, I just kicked back and enjoyed the second half without worrying about a thing. I soaked it all in.

The 21-4 Boston Celtics, best team in the NBA. Sounds pretty good, no?

Contact Cody Rivera at crivera0012@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter at @theking01sports.

Week 13: ‘Beware of the Road Favorite’

By Cody Rivera

Before I dive into the picks for Week 13, here’s a quick story:

Several weeks ago, I was browsing through the old Bill Simmons column archives from when he used to write for ESPN Page 2, and I came across one of his really old columns: “The Playoff Gambling Manifesto.” It was a column he wrote in January 2002, while preparing for the NFL playoffs (coincidentally, right before the Patriots made their run to Super Bowl 36 on the shoulders of 24-year-old Tom Brady), and in the column, he wrote about a list of rules for picking NFL playoff games that he created with one of his college friends.

And because I love picking NFL games too, I found this column really interesting. I probably read over it a couple of times, trying to commit everything to memory. Rule No. 8 on the list was “Beware of the Road Favorite.” Essentially it means not to underestimate the home team even if the road team is favored in the game, unless you have a really good reason to (such as Sunday’s Pats-Bills game … there’s not really a good reason to NOT take the Pats on the road in that game).

Anyway, even though it wasn’t the playoffs, I embraced this rule during the Cowboys-Redskins game on Thursday night. I was all set to take Washington -1.5 on the road, since in the midst of the Ezekiel Elliott suspension, the Dallas offense has been deader than Mark “The Undertaker” Calaway. In their previous three games — all losses — the Cowboys were outscored 92-22. And no, you didn’t read that wrong. But then, after seeing that the Redskins were favored by 1.5 points to beat the Cowboys on the road, I suddenly felt the urge to put the “Beware of the Road Favorite” rule into play. After all, going against the odds makes up at least half of the reasons why picking games is so addicting. And so I did it.

And what happened? The Cowboys unleashed a monstrous 38-point attack on the ‘Skins. Dak Prescott bounced back from all of the “He can’t win without Zeke” accusations, completing 11 of 22 passes with two touchdowns, and Alfred Morris filled the Elliott void with 127 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Just like that, after a 38-14 win, the Cowboys’ playoff hopes were still alive, and my “Beware of the Road Favorite” pick turned out to be correct.

And I was way happier about that last part than I should’ve been. Believe it or not, I actually have no life.

Let’s move on to the Week 13 picks …

Lions (+3) over RAVENS

Two reasons I’m rolling with Detroit here:

1. The Lions are 4-1 on the road this season, just the fourth time in the Super Bowl era that they’ve won at least four of their first five road games.

2. One of my roommates, Nikki, is from Detroit and can never bring herself to actually pick the Lions (which is fair considering their history), so I try to pick them any time it’s feasible, just to counteract her negativity. I did this pretty much throughout the entire 2016 season, and the Lions ended up making the playoffs. And you know that? Nikki still hasn’t thanked me yet. Whatever.

49ers (+3) over BEARS

I was sold on the Niners in this game as soon as I found out Jimmy Garoppolo was starting at quarterback. Whoops, I didn’t mean to call him by his name. I meant to call him the future GOAT of the NFL, after Tom Brady retires, of course. Fun fact: Jimmy G has yet to throw an interception in his career, having thrown 96 consecutive passes without getting picked off. All aboard the Jimmy G hype train!

FALCONS (-3) over Vikings

Somebody has to end the Vikings’ seven-game win streak, and who better to do it than the Falcons at home? Atlanta, in the meantime, has won four of its last five after getting past its midseason struggle, Julio Jones is your current NFC Offensive Player of the Week following a 12-catch, 253-yard, two-touchdown performance against Tampa Bay last week, and last but not least, Devonta Freeman will be back on the field this week after being cleared from his concussion. I like the Falcons to halt the Vikings at home. I’m laying the points.

Patriots (-8.5) over Bills

OK, so even though I wrote earlier this week that the AFC East continues to be the laughingstock of the NFL, Buffalo’s playoff hopes aren’t totally dead yet. After all, they are 6-5, have won three of their last four, and most importantly, they quickly wised up and brought back Tyrod Taylor as their starting quarterback. (They quickly learned their lesson after they benched him two weeks ago, and rookie Nathan Peterman threw five interceptions in the first half against the Chargers. Yowza.) And maybe after they are done getting schooled by the Patriots this week, the Bills can continue their push for a wild card spot in the AFC. Best of luck to you all! Cheers!

DOLPHINS (+1.5) over Broncos

Remember the aforementioned “Beware of the Road Favorite” rule? I’m putting it into play again for this game. Yep, it works even for crummy games that nobody will want to watch.

TITANS (-7) over Texans

Want to know how weird this NFL season has been? In Week 4, the Texans obliterated the Titans 57-14, outgained them 445-195, forced five turnovers, and Deshaun Watson threw for four touchdowns and ran for a fifth. And now, in Week 13, the Titans are 7-point favorites over the Texans. That’s been the 2017 NFL season for you. Watson was on his way to being the most exciting young quarterback in the league this year, and now it feels like it’s been 35 years since we’ve heard anything about the kid. Injuries have been extra evil in 2017.

Colts (+9.5) over JAGUARS

This is my big upset of the week. And you know it’s a freaky season when you pick a team to cover against the Jags and it’s considered an “upset.” Anyway, my prediction for this game: Jacksonville wins the game, but the Colts cover the spread and only lose by six.

PACKERS (-2) over Buccaneers

Just to be clear, I have very little faith in Brett Hundley whether it be on the road or at home, even though he almost helped the Packers get a win in Pittsburgh last week (245 passing yards and three touchdowns). The week before that, Hundley had no touchdowns and four turnovers in Green Bay’s 23-0 loss at home to the Ravens. And that’s what makes this game so difficult to pick. I mean, it’s not like the 4-7 Bucs are an enticing pick on the road.

I’m forced to give the edge to the home team here, and only because the Packers have one of the best home field advantages in the NFL. So once again, I’m betting on Hundley. This kind of thing usually doesn’t end well.

Chiefs (-3) over JETS

Darrelle Revis will be playing at the Meadowlands on Sunday … as a member of the Chiefs. All I can say is this, Kansas City fans: DO NOT get too attached to Revis, because as soon as he gets the chance, he’ll walk right out your door and resign with the Jets. I’m speaking from experience.

SAINTS (-4.5) over Panthers

Don’t miss this game. First place in the NFC South is on the line. Does it get any better than a late-season divisional rivalry matchup when the top spot in the division goes to the winner? I look forward to these games more than I’ve been looking forward to the official release of “The Last Jedi” in two weeks.

OK, that was a lie.

Browns (+14) over CHARGERS

The only way to make watching a 2017 Browns game interesting is by picking them to cover the spread when they are a two-touchdown underdog. If they can pull this off against anybody, it’s gotta be against Philip Rivers and the LA Chargers, who will be playing in front of their three fans at the StubHub Center on Sunday.

(While we’re on the subject of the Browns, they’re supposed to be getting wide receiver Josh Gordon back for this game. He hasn’t played since the 2014 season due to suspensions. Not injuries. Suspensions. Will his next violation come before or after Sunday’s game?)

Rams (-7) at CARDINALS

The Cardinals may have pulled out a win at home against the Jags last week (with Blaine Gabbert, somehow), but it’s just not their year. The biggest reason why it’s not their year: their current quarterback is Blaine Gabbert. Even though Arizona won with Gabbert last week, you never pick a team that is starting Gabbert.

Besides, I’m still on the Rams bandwagon. They are on their way to winning their first NFC West title since 2003, and we just might get to see an NFC Championship showdown between Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, the No. 1 and No. 2 picks in the 2016 draft. Now who wouldn’t enjoy the heck out of that?

RAIDERS (-8.5) over Giants

I’ll admit it, I feel bad for Eli Manning. I never thought I would say that, but it’s true. He might not be the sharpest knife in the Manning kitchen, and he might make goofy faces, and he might not be the greatest quarterback who ever lived, and he may be the biggest reason why Tom Brady isn’t a perfect 7-for-7 in the Super Bowl, but he’s still a good guy and a two-time champ. If you watched him fighting back tears while being interviewed in front of his locker and you didn’t feel for him even a little bit, you might not be human.

Eagles (-6) over SEAHAWKS

Carson Wentz is having such a phenomenal season that he should be playing in prime time every week. Seriously, it’s really hard to imagine the Eagles NOT winning the NFC this year.

Steelers (-5.5) over BENGALS

The Steelers are pretty much the only team standing in between the Patriots and the No. 1 seed in the AFC, and they’ll be facing off in Week 15. Before we reach that point, the Pats have to go through the Bills and the Dolphins (both on the road, but should still be a piece of cake), and the Steelers have to go through the Bengals and the Ravens (not quite as easy, but at least they’ll get the Ravens at home). If both teams go 2-0 over that stretch … oh boy … we might finally be feeling a sense of urgency come Week 15. As WWE announcer Michael Cole would say, I CANNOT WAIT.

(The sad part: that’s the second wrestling reference I made in this column.)

Last week: 9-7

This week: 1-0

Contact Cody Rivera at crivera0012@yahoo.com and follow him on T witter at @theking01sports.

Celtics dodge the Embiid bullet (and other thoughts from The King)

By Cody Rivera

Note: This column appears in the FanPosts section of CelticsBlog.com.

On Wednesday, I wrote a column in preparation for Thursday’s Celtics-Sixers game in Boston. Only problem was, I wrote it BEFORE I was aware that Joel Embiid wouldn’t be playing in the game, since it was the second game of a back-to-back for Philly, and he rarely plays in those games due to his injury history. So after it became apparent that he wouldn’t be suiting up, the column was officially rendered more useless than male nipples.

(I was a little bummed about that because I was really happy with how the column turned out. If you want to read the column, I posted it on my personal blog page, so feel free to access it here.)

Since that column went out the window, now it’s time for another Celtics-Sixers themed column. That’s right … we’re talking about how the Celtics dodged the Embiid bullet on Thursday, how they held Ben Simmons to just 15 points, and how Kyrie Irving dominated once again for 36 points and further cemented himself as my new sports hero. Seriously, I’m not kidding. As long as Kyrie doesn’t completely self-combust, he will be achieving Brady status, or Ortiz status, or best of all … Bird status … in the city of Boston.

Seriously, it’s happening, folks.

Seriously.

Going beyond just my sadness about the original column, I was somewhat disappointed after finding out Embiid would be a no-go. Getting another chance to go against Embiid and Simmons would’ve been a great test for this Celts team, especially since there’s a chance Boston and Philly could meet in the playoffs, and also because this duo could be battling with the Celts in the Atlantic Division for years to come. Thanks to Embiid and Simmons, and eventually maybe the possibility of some young point named Markelle Fultz, the Celtics-Sixers rivalry could be on its way back to making headlines. Someday instead of “Bird versus Dr. J,” it could be “Tatum versus Simmons.” I just got chills.

Anyway, the Celtics have already had one chance to take on Embiid and Simmons, back on Oct. 20 — a 102-92 win for the Celts that also doubled as their first victory of the season, and tripled as the first win of the famous 16-game winning streak. In that game, the 2017-18 Celtics clicked for the first time, held Embiid and Simmons to just 11 points apiece, and began their rise to the top of the NBA ranks. But in the meantime since then, Philly’s dynamic duo has done nothing but impress. Embiid is averaging 22.9 points and 11.3 rebounds (remember a few weeks ago when he went off for 46 and 15 against the Lakers? That might end up being the game of the year), and Simmons is averaging 18.7 points and 9.5 rebounds.

So yeah, getting a chance at both guys on Thursday would’ve been a great test for this team. They ended up holding Simmons (who played more minutes in the game than anyone else) to just 15 points, and pulled away in the fourth quarter on the backs of Al Horford (who put up a gnarly 21 and 8 on 9-12 shooting) and Marcus Morris (who had a pretty nice game himself, notching 17 points) for a 108-97 win (OK, I swear I’m done using parentheses). It was a great win, no doubt about it. The Celtics outplayed the Sixers in just about every category except for 3-point shooting and rebounding. But who knows? Had Embiid been playing, it may have been a different game, and I might not be sitting here writing this with a Joker-like grin on my face.

Still though, Embiid’s absence doesn’t take away from the monster game Kyrie had yet again. 36 points, 5-8 from three. He seems to have gotten used to the protective face mask he’s been wearing for the last several games after having his face broken by the elbow of Aron Baynes. In the first game in which he wore that thing, he hated it so much that he took it off and slammed it to the ground like a Gronk Spike. Now, he just plays as if it’s not even there.

One more note before I wrap this baby up: heading into the fourth quarter, I noticed the Celts had held Simmons to just nine points during the first three quarters. I quickly tweeted this, and added that I hoped Simmons wouldn’t go off for 25 points in the fourth. He seemed due for a big quarter after all. But ultimately, even if Simmons did have a big quarter, I wasn’t worried about the game slipping away from the Celts. I knew that if Simmons dominated, Kyrie would step up to match him. I’ve written about this topic more than any other this season, but Kyrie has evolved into one of the best closers in the NBA. If the Celtics need him to have a dominant fourth quarter in order to put the game away, a lot of times he can’t miss. In a close game, I always want the ball in his hands. I want him taking that crunch time 3-point shot, because I know that when the situation demands it, he’s going to knock it down.

But fortunately on Thursday, the Celtics played one of their better fourth quarters as a team, gradually pulling away from the Sixers throughout the period, and late-game heroics from Kyrie weren’t needed.

Which was fine by me. Save those moments for the playoffs. Or possibly … the Finals.

Contact Cody Rivera at crivera0012@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter at @theking01sports.

Embiid is coming to town

By Cody Rivera

Note: This column was originally posted in the FanPosts section of CelticsBlog.com, but was removed after the announcement that Joel Embiid would not be playing against the Celtics the following night.

I remember monitoring the Celtics during the 2013-14 season, rooting for them to lose games night after night. Yep, that was Boston’s “tanking” season. It was the first season following the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade. The team was young and inexperienced. We had no chance at making the playoffs, and so all I wanted to do was lose and lose and lose, and then lose a little more.

Why? I really wanted a chance to draft Kansas center Joel Embiid. That was the most intrigued I had been in the NBA draft in years, mostly because the Celtics were going to get a lottery pick, and also because there was some serious talent expected to go in the top 10 … Embiid, Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle, Marcus Smart among others. I really liked Embiid though. The Celtics lacked size, and I thought he was exactly the kind of player they needed.

Of course, the Celts didn’t tank as well as I’d hoped, and they ended up with the sixth pick. Embiid was long gone by then and we ended up taking Smart (whom we’ve all had mixed emotions about over the years). Embiid was on his way to Philadelphia. I was a little jealous at the time, but then he barely played at all over the next three seasons thanks to injuries, so that put a quick end to that. It seemed like his career was going to end before it even really got started. I probably even made fun of him and the Sixers a little bit, because I’m a terrible person and I like to laugh at big time draft prospects who end up being busts. (Anyone remember that Greg Oden guy Boston missed out on in the 2007 draft?)

But as always, I’m a total moron. Turns out Joel Embiid is nowhere near “bust” status. Thanks to really bad injury luck, he was just a late bloomer, and now he’s turned into a full-blown superstar. Along with Ben Simmons, the top pick in the 2016 draft, he’s currently helping revive the Sixers … finally … who are no longer tanking, after doing it for about 109 consecutive seasons. Embiid is averaging 22.8 points and 11.2 rebounds, and shooting almost 50 percent. He’s made headlines on SportsCenter a number of times already this year. And if he keeps getting better, it could be scary for the Eastern Conference. Imagine having Embiid in Philly and Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee, two seven-footers dominating the conference for years to come.

I’m rambling about Embiid, but for good reason. The Celtics get to play him on Thursday at the TD Garden. They’ll get a firsthand look at Embiid and Simmons, a duo they could be competing with in the Atlantic Division for years, which is equally exciting and petrifying. On Thursday night, I won’t have to watch ESPN highlights or check Twitter to find out what kind of gaudy numbers Embiid put up. I’ll get to watch him do it against my team, and I should probably get used to it.

To add to it, the Sixers just finished off a 118-113 win over the Wizards at home. Simmons dropped an incredible 31 points with 18 rebounds, while Embiid put up 25 and 14. Now these guys are hopping on a plane and are headed up north to Boston, and they’ll be on the TD Garden floor in less than 24 hours.

Here is your understatement of the week: the Celtics will have their hands full on Thursday.

Contact Cody Rivera at crivera0012@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter at @theking01sports.

Urgency is nonexistent in the East

By Cody Rivera

Note: This column appears in the FanPosts section of PatsPulpit.com.

Earlier this season, I thought I was going to be really pumped for the Patriots-Bills showdown in Week 13. I thought there might be some competition going on. New England went 2-2 to start the season, and Buffalo started 3-1. For a brief period, the Bills were in first place in the AFC East and the Pats weren’t. That was a different feeling. I was actually kind of excited about the possibility having a late-season divisional game that might have some stakes. After all, that’s what makes sports fun, right?

But since then, the Pats have reeled off seven straight victories, and the Bills had their three-game skid in the middle of the season, losing to the Jets, Saints and Chargers (the latter game forever known now as the Nathan Peterman game), and that really hurt them. Now, there’s not much significance for this Sunday’s matchup anymore. New England has a three-game lead in the division. The rest of the season is more or less a formality, with the exception of their Week 15 matchup in Pittsburgh (first place in the AFC could be on the line).

That’s two weeks away though. Before we get there, the Patriots have to play at Buffalo and at Miami – two divisional opponents they should beat handily. I’ll watch the games and I’ll have fun watching the Pats win. But I’m not going to lie, I kind of miss having a sense of urgency in regular season games. The Patriots have been so good over the last several years, and the rest of the AFC has been so bad, that the regular season division matchups just don’t really mean anything anymore. These games are supposed to be exciting. Fans are supposed to spend the entire week building up the anticipation, discussing the possibilities of what could happen if one team wins, and what could also happen if the other team wins. For Patriots fans, that just doesn’t happen anymore. Everyone knows they are going to win most, if not all, of their divisional games. We usually don’t get our sense of urgency until the playoffs.

I shouldn’t be complaining that my favorite football team wins too much. Don’t get me wrong, I love the winning. There’s nothing much better than rooting for a Super Bowl contender every year. But winning all the time comes at a cost, especially when it’s been years since your division has fielded more than one decent team. (And yes, I know the Dolphins squeezed into the playoffs last year as the second wild card, but they were never even remotely a threat to the Patriots claiming the division title, and everyone knew they weren’t winning a playoff game.) You lose that excitement and urgency that comes with a competitive division, and that’s part of what makes the regular season so much fun and exhilarating.

We had that for a quick minute this year, when the 3-1 Bills were in first place and the 2-2 Patriots were in second. But then we quickly came back to the reality that is the AFC East, and now Sunday’s matchup between the 9-2 Patriots and the 6-5 Bills is no longer a must-see event. It’s just another soon-to-be W for New England. And you know what? I’m not even a little bit nervous.

The King’s pick: Patriots 30, Bills 18

Contact Cody Rivera at crivera0012@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter at @theking01sports.

Congrats to the former No. 0

By Cody Rivera

Note: This column appears in the FanPosts section of CelticsBlog.com.

Have you ever had a friend or a cousin that you used to be really close with, that you hung out with all the time, and just absolutely loved being around that person? Then out of nowhere, that person moves away. You wish that person the best of luck in their future endeavors, and then suddenly, that person is out of your life just like that. You move on, and they move on. After a while, you don’t think about that person as much. But then one day, the old friend comes back to visit, and you’re suddenly reminded of all the great times you used to have together.

I don’t know about you, but that was how I felt when Avery Bradley returned to the TD Garden on Monday night as a member of the Detroit Pistons. I loved Avery Bradley. For a few years, he was my favorite Celtic. He wouldn’t be able to pick me out of a police lineup, but still, Avery felt like family to me. It might sound silly, but that’s just how it was.

Bradley started at shooting guard for the Pistons on Monday, played 38 minutes (the second most on the team behind only Andre Drummond), and scored 13 points with two buckets from 3-point land. The Pistons knocked off the Celtics 118-108 — only the fourth team to beat Boston this year. Sure, it was a bummer that we lost the game, but I just felt happy for Avery. If nothing else, I was glad just to see him win, just like I’m glad to see his team doing well this year. I really miss him.

I remember hearing the news on July 7. The Boston sports scene was a little dull at the moment, as the Red Sox were the only team in season and they were hitting their brutal July skid, just before they made their run after the trade deadline. Hearing the Bradley news didn’t help me feel much better. I woke up that morning, checked my phone, and the notification was right there waiting for me. Avery had been dealt to Detroit. Everyone knew the reason behind the trade; the Celtics were trying to clear enough cap space so they could sign Gordon Hayward in free agency, which they did.

(It seems ironic now, considering Hayward’s ankle injury ended his season after just five minutes, and meanwhile, Avery returned to Boston to help the Pistons get a victory. Sports, man. Sports.)

I just felt sad after hearing that Bradley had been traded. Like I said, he had been my favorite Celtic for the last few years. Drafted in 2010, Bradley was the last player on the team who played with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Other than Isaiah Thomas, he was the most reliable guy on the roster. You were always comfortable when the ball was in his hands. He consistently came through in the clutch, he played gritty defense, and you never had to question his work ethic. He played a hard 48 minutes every single night. Jayson Tatum might be wearing the No. 0 for the Celtics for years to come, but before him, it was Avery Bradley’s number. For a guy who wasn’t fortunate enough to win a title in Boston, Avery was a true Celtic.

As mentioned above, Bradley drilled a ton of clutch 3-pointers during his seven seasons with the Celtics, but two of them stand out above all else. Coincidentally, both of them happened in Cleveland.

The first one, which to this day remains one the all-time greatest basketball moments of my life, happened in a regular season game on Feb. 5, 2016. The Celtics were trailing the Cavs (the best team in the East at the time) 103-101 with 3.1 seconds remaining. Jae Crowder inbounded the ball to Isaiah, who briefly tried to move toward the basket before dishing the ball behind him to Avery, who was making a move to the left corner. As the clock expired, Avery let the ball fly. As soon as it left his fingertips, he turned and started walking the other way in celebration. He didn’t even need to watch; he knew it was going in. And it did. Celtics 104, Cavs 103. There was something very Bird-like about the way he did it. He was immediately swarmed by his teammates in front of 20,000 stunned Cleveland fans. I’ve probably watched the YouTube clip of that shot about a million times since then, and it never gets old. It never gets old.

The second one, which was one of the last memories we have of Avery Bradley as a Celtic, happened in the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals. Once again, the Celts were playing the Cavs in Cleveland, and trailing 2-0 in the series. Boston was overmatched against LeBron and his cohorts in that series, but we were just hoping we wouldn’t get swept. And thanks to Avery Bradley, we didn’t. The game was tied 108-108 with less than 10 seconds remaining when Marcus Smart passed the ball to Avery, who had gotten away from two Cleveland defenders and was suddenly wide open. Avery took the shot from beyond the arc and the ball hit the rim, bounced up and around the rim for a second or two, took a tip from the invisible Celtic leprechaun that travels with the team on occasion, and then rolled in. Celtics 111, Cavs 108. Once again, the Cavs and their fans were stunned. Avery Bradley had done it to them again.

Of course, Cleveland won the next two games of the series to finish the Celtics off, and that was that. We didn’t know it at the time, but we had seen the last of Avery Bradley in green. Nonetheless, he gave us that everlasting memory in Game 3 of the 2017 East Finals, when we were clearly overmatched and probably should’ve been swept … but we weren’t. Thank you, Avery.

So yes indeed, while I’m sad the Celtics lost to the Pistons on Monday night, I’m glad to see Avery Bradley’s new team get a win. I hope Detroit continues to play well. Maybe we’ll see them later on in the playoffs. Nevertheless, Monday night was like a family reunion. Because even though he’ll never be remembered as one of the all-time Celtic greats, Avery Bradley was like family.

I wish I could’ve been there to give him a standing ovation.

Contact Cody Rivera at crivera0012@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter at @theking01sports.