2017’s NFL Midseason Report

Written by :
Published on : November 8, 2017

 

 

In the immortal words of Bon Jovi: “we’re half way there“. The NFL season that is. Week 9 is in the books and the early playoff picture is starting to take shape. Already this year, we’ve seen some wild performances, brutal injuries and some interesting trades. Let’s take a few moments to do some inventory on what was happened so far. This is your 2017 NFL midseason report.

 

Everyone got hurt

There are always injuries in football, that is nothing new but the number of big profile players that have already gone down seems disproportionately high. So far this year we’ve seen major health issues for stars like: Aaron Rodgers, Odell Beckham Jr, JJ Watt, David Johnson, Julian Edelmen, Andrew Luck, Greg Olsen and Carson Palmer. That’s like one whole fantasy team. And speaking of fantasy, I owned rookie running back Dalvin Cook who was killing it for the Vikings and I until he tore something in his knee and was placed on IR. Bummers all around. By the way, this is by no means the full list of impact players who got hurt but simply the most notable ones.

 

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Wheeling and dealing

Jacoby Brissett left New England’s bench to start in Indy. Adrian Peterson moved from New Orleans crowded backfield to the feature spot in Arizona. Jimmy Garapollo dropped the Pat’s backup clipboard to take over in the San Fran rebuilding project. Wait, if both Brissett and Garapollo are gone then who will play if Brady gets hurt?

 

Then Kelvin Benjamin left Carolina and moved north to Buffalo. And Jay Ajayi departed Miami for Philly. Those guys both know their new stadiums are outdoors right? It’s about to get real cold. But all these moves are real hot.

 

Lions still give me heart issues

Detroit currently sits at 4-4 and have already had their bye week. They started 3-1 and then went 1-3. So it’s hard to say exactly how good this squad is. It’s easy to find positives and negatives on both sides. You hear that the Lions are 3-1 on the road, 2-0 in the division and they sound like they are playoff bound. Then you look at the awful rushing stats paired with the average-at-best pass rush and you think the season is going to be rough. So which is it?

 

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Who knows. The schedule lines up favorably but the Vikings are the current NFC north leaders (6-2) but Detroit beat them once already. A second win over Minnesota (on Thanksgiving!) would go a long way to setting the Lions up for a rare division crown. I can’t bring myself to predict the last 8 games but the schedule has some wins on it for sure. I pray it’s enough for a playoff ticket.

 

It feels like we wait for football all year and then it comes and just flies by. It’s slipping away already, I can feel it. As the last weeks play out and the post season picture comes into focus, my hope is we see some new teams playing in the Super Bowl. Lions vs Chiefs anyone?

 

Glass half empty kind of guy.

 

 


NFL Turkey Day Priveiw 2016

Written by :
Published on : November 23, 2016

 

For many, watching NFL action on Thanksgiving is as essential as mashed potatoes. Most of my Turkey Day memories include the Detroit Lions and eating way too much. Then watching watching the Dallas Cowboys and eating a little more. Then complaining about how the Lions played while having coffee and pie. Let’s look at the menu for Thursday’s football feast.

 

9:30 am (PT) – Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions

 

Time to wake up and jump straight into fire. The lead in the NFC North hangs in the balance as both teams are 6-4 and coming off wins. Lions beat the Vikings in OT just a few weeks ago and this looks to be another close one. The winner will have a commanding lead with only 5 games left. All while Green Bay continues to implode and Chicago celebrates the Cubs. This Thanksgiving day game may decide the division.

 

Make at least a light snack during or before the game. Better yet, do a full breakfast or meal. You may think skip the early meal and save the room for dinner but it’s the early calories that kick start your metabolism and allow you to consume the most food possible. When you skip an eating, your body goes into reserve mode where it burns calories slowly. That’s not what you want, you want a roaring fire of an appetite. Let there be meat! Let there be football! Glorious Turkey Day to you all!

 

Good news for Minnesota is that their defense is legit and that will keep them in any contest. Good news for Detroit is that all 10 of their games this season (NFL record) have been decided within 7 points and Stafford seems to have a knack for winning it late. So we know this is going to come down to the last few possessions. Great, another holiday filled with screaming and tension.

 

1:30 pm – Washington R-words at Dallas Cowboys

 

Another tough divisional bout. NFC East leading Dallas defends their 9-1 record against 6-3-1 Washington who have found their stride recently, winning the last two. It’s hard to pick anyone to beat the Cowboys in Texas but Washington is sneaky. Alright, time to eat. First plate strategy is to get a small taste of everything the dinner has to offer. This may be tough depending on how many side dishes your Aunt brings. Resist the urge to make some mountain of first portion or else there will never be seconds.

 

I’ve mentioned this before but why does the league always schedule the Cowboys against one of the Native American themed franchises on Thanksgiving? Washington is in the division, so that kind of makes sense but it seems more than just luck. It’s kind of like someone at the NFL thinks it’s cute to play cowboys and indians on Turkey Day. Also, I’ve stopped using the Washington mascot name in my writing and I hope Washington ownership makes a change.

 

Good news for the Cowboys is that rookie QB Dak Prescott is playing great and limiting turnovers. Good news for Washington is they found a spark with RB Robert Kelley and QB Kirk Cousins is slinging. Time for a second plate. This time load up on all the best stuff, extra gravy please. But do it quick, the second half is about to start. The Washington defense needs to slow down the Dallas rushing attack or there is no chance they can win. Let’s hope Washington can score enough so this stays interesting.

 

5:30 pm – Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts

 

More football? Pile it on. This third game was added a few years back and can be any two teams, while Dallas and Detroit always host games. The last matchup features two 5-5 crews that both need the win to keep their playoff dreams alive. Grab a strong cup of black coffee, cream or sugar not needed because of what’s next: a piece of every pie, cake, pie or pie that’s available. Add ice cream or whipped cream where applicable.

 

Indy has trouble slowing down opposing offenses and Pittsburgh knows how to score a gang of points but those 5-5 records means we aren’t really sure who is going to show up. The Steelers’ ground game is solid with Le’Veon Bell and Big Ben to Antonio Brown is money in the bank but they don’t always seem to be able to put it all together. The Colts and QB Andrew Luck are building some steam with back-to-back wins over Green Bay and divisional foe, Tennessee.

 

Good news for Indy is they are at home and indoors which doesn’t sound like much of an advantage until you consider playing outside, at night, at Heinz Field. Good news for Pittsburgh is that QB Ben Roethlisberger has feasted on the Colts in his career. Ben Hungry. This could be a shootout. Which is the best case scenario because we are all very sleepy, so if this isn’t gripping, I’m napping.

 

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Remember, Thanksgiving is day is about family and those close to your heart. Eat, drink, be merry but take a second to thank those around you. If you are away from the ones you love, call, text or fax. And if you go out into the world on Turkey Day, please be appreciative of the men and women who are working on the holiday.

 

Nap time.

 

 


NFL Halfway way report for 2016

Written by :
Published on : November 3, 2016

 

 

NFL Week 8 is in the books are we are officially halfway through the 2016 season. Damn, things are moving fast. Don’t blink because the postseason is around the corner. Let’s look back at the first part of the year and see what we’ve learned so far.

 

The Standings

The quickest and most superficial way to know a squad is by looking at their record. Who did they beat? Who did they lose to? Was it at home or on the road? These are all telling bits of information. Your current division leaders are:

 

NFC North: Minnesota Vikings (5-2)

NFC East: Dallas Cowboys (6-1)

NFC South: Atlanta Falcons (5-3)

NFC West: Seattle Seahawks (4-2-1)

 

 

AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)

AFC East: New England Patriots (7-1)

AFC South: Houston Texans (5-3)

AFC West: Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos (both 6-2)

 

With Brady back under center, the Pats are the best team in the league. They are the first to 7 wins and should be the favorite in every game for the next 8 weeks. The Cowboys are the only other 1 loss team and they lead the only division where all members have a winning record. The NFC East is finally playing some good football. Houston and Minnesota both seems like crews that could get pushed out of their current standings. The AFC West should be a three horse race going down the stretch as Kansas City starts to string wins together. Stats aren’t everything but number of wins is still huge in the playoff picture.

 

Surprises

One of the biggest shockers of the year has to be the Oakland Raiders. The 6-2 record is nice but it’s the 5-0 on the road that makes you double-take. They are on track for their first playoff appearance since 2003. The second longest postseason drought in football (only the Bills have been waiting longer). I hope they get there. Either by winning the AFC West or locking up a wild card spot.

 

 

How awful the Carolina Panthers are. They are 2-5 and last in the NFC South. Talk about a Super Bowl hangover. I don’t think anyone, including Cam Newton saw that coming. Their D is weak, Cam is getting lit up and nothing is clicking.

 

The Cowboys getting it done with rookies at QB and RB in Dak Prescott and Ezekial Elliot. Enough with the Romo talk. Prescott is winning, you don’t mess with success. Let Tony ride the bench for awhile. Maybe he can come back during the playoffs just time to to throw an interception.

 

How average the Packers look. They are 4-3 but have lost to every team over .500 they have played. Eddie Lacy is on IR, they can’t run the ball and defenses aren’t giving Rodgers all day to throw. This football giant seems very killable.

 

Less Surprising

The Jacksonville Jaguars still suck. Many talking-heads hyped the Jags in the preseason as some sort of dark horse. Their offense (mostly through the air) worked last year and they drafted all these great defensive players but it’s not that simple and this franchise is still years away. Also, what’s with the jerseys in the photo below? They look like the knock-off/unlicensed NFL uniforms from Any Given Sunday.

 

 

The Steelers are good. Even without some of their stars, this roster steps up and fills holes. They started without RB Bell because of a suspension, then QB Roethlisberger got hurt, but Pittsburgh keeps winning. Look for them to make another playoff run.

 

Everyone on San Diego is hurt. I can just save this part and copy-paste it next year because it’s the same story every time. Tons of talent and potential, awful luck and injuries leaves Phillip Rivers in a hole fighting for his life. One almost has to wonder, what would the Chargers look like healthy? A bizarre and perverse thought. Don’t linger on it.

 

The Colts can’t stop anyone. They are wasting QB Andrew Luck. Every game, Luck is forced to throw it downfield because they are playing from behind. Great for fantasy, not for reality. Kind of reminds me of Matthew Stafford. Anyway, Indy needs to shore up both sides of the line and spend some draft picks retooling the whole defensive unit.

 

 

The best part about all of this is there is still time. 8 games is a lot. Go 6-2 over the second half and you may just be in the playoffs. Stranger things have happened. At this moment, I can only guarantee maybe 5 teams will make it. That leaves plenty of spots for your team. All they have to do is get hot.

 

Playoffs?

 

 


Roger Pretzel’s Haunted Dungeon Week 6: Bernardrick McKinney Clobbers Andrew Luck, and “Hard To Be A God”

Written by :
Published on : October 19, 2016

 

Welcome back to Roger Pretzel’s Haunted Dungeon. In this spooky sanctum I’ve poured over all the replay tape to come up with my favorite NFL play of the week. Then it’s straight back to the projector to unspool a film you may have not been aware of…

 

The lights have dimmed, the remains have been entombed, and the storm rages outside.

 

Week 6: Bernardrick McKinney Clobbers Andrew Lunch on Third Down in OT


How about that Houston comeback on Sunday Night Football? To be fair, it may have been more of an Indianapolis meltdown but there were still a solid handful of brilliant plays executed by the Texans’ defense. My favorite came at a critical moment in overtime with only three yards to go on a third down when Bernardrick McKinney shot the gap and put Andrew Luck into the turf.

 

Both defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus come flying off their marks in a pincer attack that opens up a huge hole for Bernardrick McKinney to fly through. That D line is scary even without J.J. Watt. So much so that even with a struggling Brock Osweiler the Texans currently sit atop of the AFC South.

 

And while Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus are definitely two of my favorite football names, Bernardrick McKinney ain’t so bad either.

 

Week 6: Hard To Be A God

hardtobeagod1

 

Director: Aleksey German
Released: 2013

 

It’s hard for me to overstate how mind-blowing this movie is. Really. It was the hot ticket for the art-house set when it became available stateside, but I remain surprised that it didn’t find a broader audience.

 

Based on a Russian sci-fi novel in which a group of cosmonauts live on a planet identical to earth except that it’s trapped 800 years in the past in a permanent state of dark ages, the plotting is nearly impossible to follow and frankly the film is all the richer for it.

 

960

 

Comprised mostly of long takes with a constantly roving camera (albeit at a leisurely clip) the viewer is treated to a meticulously detailed world of filth and a parade of human grotesques spewing all manner of bodily fluids amongst the pervasive mud, grime, and ash. The wide angle black and white photography is revelatory in capturing all the ugliness humanity has to offer.

 

Shot in fits and starts from 2000 to 2006, and involving several more years of post-production with its director in failing health, this singular film has an idiosyncratic production history as well with German’s (pronounced Grrr-man, not Jer-man) wife and son putting the finishing touches on his messy swan song.

 

Hard-to-be-a-God-aleksei-german-2

 

With it’s near incoherence and three-hour running time it’s a challenging view, but every minute is worth it. Catch this carnal and visceral masterpiece of flying snot-rockets and dribbling slave piss as soon as you can.

 

I implore you to watch the trailer here:

 

 

Currently streaming on Netflix! Go now! Also available for rental on Amazon and itunes.

 

 


Concerns about the Lions defense

Written by :
Published on : September 15, 2016

 

 

In typical Lions fashion, the team gave up a late lead with less than a minute to play on Sunday. In not-so-typical Lions fashion, they managed to drive down the field and win the game with a late field goal. Much like the first game of last season, the team built up a 21-3 lead in the first half, only to watch it slip away as their defense withered against Andrew Luck. If not for superb play from Matt Stafford, and a long lost running game that showed up big time, this team could very well sit at 0-1 right now.

 

The offense was a pleasant surprise. The line held up fairly well (against a weak Colts defense), and the Detroit backs and receivers more or less did as they pleased all day. A win is a win and in the NFL, you have to take them where you can get them. It’s encouraging that the offense seems to be picking up where it left off last season with Jim Bob Cooter calling the shots. But there might be some cause for concern on the other side of the ball. After a strong first quarter, the Detroit Lions defense regressed as the game wore on. The way things unfolded in the second half has me wondering if the Lions defense might be in trouble. Here are some of my biggest concerns at each level of the defense.

 

Piss poor pass rush

Early on in the game, the Colts offense looked lost and the Lions defense looked pretty tight. I was specifically impressed with the play of the defensive line, going as far as to voice my pleasure on Twitter…

 

 

As usual, I was premature in my praise. Early on, the pressure was constant and guys like Kerry Hyder Jr (one of the last players to make the 53-man roster) were making plays. The team was using stunts and disguising the rush in order to confuse the Colts offense. Andrew Luck looked uncomfortable and the pocket was collapsing with regularity, causing some difficult throwing situations for the young QB.

 

About midway through the second quarter that began to change. The Lions had built up a comfortable lead and then it seemed like defensive coordinator Teryl Austin took his foot off the gas. The play calling went vanilla as the Lions switched almost exclusively into a two-linebacker package, after working the 4-3 with Kyle Van Noy early on in the game. The four man rush was inept and the guys looked slow off the ball. Big boys like Haloti Ngata got pushed off the line much more often than they should have been. Devin Taylor wasn’t much of a factor either, giving a bit of legitimacy to my original concerns about him being a full time starter.

 

 Ziggy just couldn’t get there.

 

There just wasn’t much going on up front and Andrew Luck took full advantage of it. Even when there was pressure the boys couldn’t get home. Like on the Colts final drive, when Ziggy Ansah allowed Luck to narrowly escape a sack that could have been a big boost to the defense. By the end of game, hell, by mid-game, the defensive line looked worn down. This is despite a pretty constant rotation of bodies. The defensive line has got to be the heart and soul if this defense is going to thrive. If they play against top level offensive lines like they did Sunday, then there are going to be some painful moments in Detroit this season. Two sacks against that Colts is unacceptable.

 

Linebacker issues

Tahir Whitehead started the game pretty strong. He made some big hits and looked good in man coverage. But as the game progressed, and the team asked him to play more zone coverage, he got exposed. Teryl Austin was clearly asking him to do more than he could handle. There were some suspect coverage hand-offs in zone that left me thinking Whitehead may have been out of place or indecisive about where he needed to be. The team should let him do what he does best and let other players who thrive in more complex coverages do their thing. That’s what we have our other stud linebacker for, right?

 

The only problem is that he didn’t look so great either. DeAndre Levy played a total of 17 snaps in 2015, and only a handful during this year’s preseason, but was on the field for all 70 defensive snaps in week 1. By no means was he a liability (except on that shit head taunting penalty), but he didn’t live up to what we expect from him either. He was solid enough but also much slower to react than Lions fans have become accustomed to with him. It was his killer instinct and quick reflexes that helped earn him a big contract extension before last season, but this was not the same bearded beast we are all used to seeing. It was obvious that there is some rust to be knocked off with Levy, but if by some unfortunate chance his play doesn’t improve, this defense could be in trouble. They need him to be game changer not an average guy.

 

Second(ary) Thoughts

We all know that the Lions have at least one star in the secondary with Darius Slay. They also happen to have one above-average safety in Glover Quin, although he had a bad game against the Colts. In the NFL, that’s the foundation of a pretty good secondary. If those guys do their job and you can get just a few more players to play up to, or slightly above, their potential then you can have some real success. On Sunday that didn’t really happen.

 

It remains to be seen if Tavon Wilson and Rafael Bush can combine to form a serviceable safety tandem, but they sure as hell aren’t going to do it if the defensive line can’t get any pressure. Slay and Quin can only do so much on their own, and without a consistent pass rush the entire unit will be a failure. Nevin Lawson and Quandre Diggs have shown that they can be better than adequate when given a fair shot in a defense that is functioning properly at all levels. When that was not happening on Sunday they couldn’t keep up and they shouldn’t be expected to. This secondary can thrive, but much like the defense as a whole, that is predicated on the defensive line.

 

 Nevin Lawson getting beat for a TD.

 

With all of that in mind, we have to remember that this is only the first week of the season. Many of these issues will probably get resolved as the team plays itself into game shape and the boys knock off some of that rust. With the limited amount of full contact practices during training camp nowadays, many teams need a couple weeks to get back up to speed, and after the last two seasons it’s clear that the Lions are one of those squads. This team seems to come out of the gate in sluggish fashion every year.

 

We often don’t see a team’s true self until they have played a few games. I suspect that may be the case with these guys too. DeAndre Levy had played only a handful of snaps in more than a year before Sunday. Time will tell if he will ever get back to being his pre hip injury self, but I’d be willing to bet that once he gets into shape we will see a better version of him than the one we saw against the Colts. Jim Caldwell and his staff once again has failed to have his football team prepared for 60 minutes of regular season gameplay coming out of training camp.

 

Speaking of the staff, defensive coordinator, Teryl Austin, deserves a big chunk of the blame for how the defense played Sunday. He displayed an unwillingness to play to the strengths of his players and the team suffered. By simplifying his schemes once the team had a comfortable lead, he gave Andrew Luck the window he needed to mount a comeback. It was a repeat of last season in San Diego all over again. This year, they were lucky enough to come out with a win in week 1, but they had better hope they get up to speed soon.

 

 


Preseason Questions for all 32 NFL Teams

Written by :
Published on : August 17, 2016

 

 

The sports gods have answered our prayers and brought NFL football back to us mortals. Huzzah! It’s only preseason action but it’s better than nothing. These early practice games are great because they give us a chance to see the team for the first time. Naturally, many questions will bubble to the surface about each squad. Will this rookie make an impact? Will this player stay healthy? Who will win the starting the job? There is tons of buzz out there but these are the big questions facing each NFL team. Find your favorite franchise below and see what they are dealing with.

 

AFC North

Browns – Can RGIII stay on the field for 16 games and be the QB Cleveland needs to move forward?

Steelers – Can this team stay healthy and out of jail?

Ravens – Will the defense improve enough to make them competitive again?

Bengals – Can Andy Dalton be the guy who takes them deep into postseason? Or just win one single  playoff game?

 

 

AFC East

Patriots – Can New England survive Tom Brady’s four game suspension under Jimmy Garoppolo and still win the division?

Dolphins – Will this squad ever play up to their potential?

Bills – How will Tyrod Taylor fare under center in his second year?

Jets – With Fitz back at QB, can the Jets score enough points to win games?

 

AFC South

Colts – Which Andrew Luck will we see? 2014 or 2015?

Jaguars – Is this the season everyone wakes up and believes in the Jags passing attack?

Titans – Tons of new pieces, how will they all work together?

Texans – Is Brock Oswieler really the guy?

 

brock osweiler

 

AFC West

Broncos – Will Mark Sanchez butt-fumble in Denver?

Chiefs – How long will Jamaal Charles last?

Chargers – Can anyone on the team stay off Injured Reserve?

Raiders – Can the Raiders finally get out of their own way?

 

NFC North

Lions – Can the o-line hold up so Stafford finally has some time?

Packers – Is Eddie Lacy too fat?

Bears – Why is Jay Cutler still there?

Vikings – Can AP carry them to another division title?

 

 

NFC East

Cowboys – Who will get hurt first: Tony Romo or Dez Bryant?

Giants – Is Eli Manning still good?

Eagles – What is the identity of this team? Seriously. And don’t say Sam Bradford.

Skins – Can Kirk Cousins keep up his play from the end of last year?

 

NFC South

Saints – Does Drew Brees have any tricks left up his sleeve?

Panthers – How does Cam respond to losing the Super Bowl? Is there any hangover?

Falcons – Can the defense figure out how to stop anyone?

Buccaneers – Bucs took a kicker in the 2nd round of the draft, how many misses before fans freak out?

 

 

NFC West

Cardinals – Is David Johnston really all that? And a bag of chips?

Niners – How much of a mess will the offense be under Chip Kelly?

Seahawks – Is this the year they start throwing Jimmy Graham the ball?

Rams – Can Todd Gurley keep up his dominance? Or will opposing defenses finally figure out how to stop him?

 

Real-deal NFL games are only a few weeks away. So close, I can almost taste it. The regular season starts Thursday, September 8th. Until then, let’s enjoy the rest of the preseason and hope no one gets badly injured. Leave any questions you may have in the comments.

 

Are you ready for some football?

 

 


A Look Back at My “Ten Bold Predictions for the 2015 NFL Season”

Written by :
Published on : March 3, 2016

 

 

 

Back in mid-August, I wrote a piece giving ten bold predictions I expected we would all see happen during this past NFL season. In this article, (which can be found here) I mentioned all of the obvious predictions like, “Who will win the Super Bowl?”, “Who will win MVP?”, as well as some other more “out there” ideas. So with the Denver Broncos winning Super Bowl 50 about a month ago, (spoiler alert: I didn’t get that one right) and thus concluding the 2015 NFL season, I figured now would be a good time to check back into that crystal ball and see how my picks turned out.

 

1. Adrian Peterson wins the rushing title

Result: CORRECT

 

I got off to a good start here as AP led the NFL with 1,485 rushing yards, edging out Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin. While drafting him didn’t help me win my fantasy football team this year, I had a feeling Peterson would come back strong this year after being suspended for much of last season and he helped the Vikings earn their first playoff spot since 2009.

 

2. The New England Patriots will finish 2nd in the AFC East

Result: WRONG

 

Well this took a quick turn. I think what makes this worse is I predicted Miami to win the division. Gross. Let me explain my rationale here though. At the time this article was published, Tom Brady was still set to be suspended for the first 4 games and I figured with Jimmy Garoppolo under center for those games, a 2-2 start was the best case scenario for the Patriots. If that were the case, New England finishes 10-6 instead of 12-4 and who knows what happens seeing as how the Jets also finished 10-6.

 

3. Ray Rice will be back in the NFL

Result: WRONG

 

I took a loss on this prediction as well and I still am a little bit surprised about it, especially once Greg Hardy put an NFL uniform back on. Now I fully understand the severity of what Ray Rice did and I don’t by any means condone it, but after being suspended for all of last season, I figured someone would be willing to take the chance and may have needed a veteran back. The Cowboys made the most sense to me when I made the prediction, fittingly, they wound up being the ones to sign Hardy.

 

4. Jameis Winston and Amari Cooper win NFC/AFC Offensive Rookie of the Year

Result: WRONG-ish 

 

So the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Award went to Todd Gurley, and rightfully so as he finished third in the league in rushing yards. However, I feel like I should get half-credit or something because Jameis Winston won the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year at the same NFL Honors Award Show. Amari Cooper had a solid rookie year with Oakland as well.

 

5. Leonard Williams and Landon Collins win AFC/NFC Denfensive Rookie of the Year

Result: WRONG

 

Kansas City corner Marcus Peters won this award by a landslide after leading the NFL with 8 interceptions and helping to make the Chief’s defense one of the best in the league. Leonard Williams was third in the voting, and according to Mel Kiper Jr should have won, so I guess I had someone in my corner.

 

6. The Carolina Panthers will have the biggest increase in wins from 2014

Result: CORRECT

 

By finishing 15-1, Carolina easily had the league’s best record as they narrowly missed perfection during the regular season. Following a dreadful, 7-8-1 record last year, (granted they still made the playoffs in an embarrassing NFC South) I figured at least 11 wins was very realistic for the Panthers. Instead, Cam decided to put up video game numbers and they won 15. Either way, a win for me.

 

7. The Dallas Cowboys will have the biggest drop off in wins from 2014

Result: CORRECT

 

I knew the loss of DeMarco Murray would hurt this team…well I guess the loss of Tony Romo and Dez Bryant for much of the season didn’t help either, but regardless, I knew this team wasn’t duplicating its 12-4 season from 2014. While I didn’t predict 4-12, the Cowboys still had the biggest drop off in the wins column.

 

8. Peyton Manning will retire following the 2015 season

Result: To be determined…

 

Despite Peyton’s best efforts, the Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl last month after he had an absolutely miserable regular season. Easily his worst professional season, and one that even caused him to miss a stretch of games late due to injuries. Peyton came back just in time for the playoffs and looked rather pedestrian in the process. However, because of an absolutely dominating defense, Denver made it so Peyton could ride off into the sunset a now two-time Super Bowl champion. The question still remains as to whether he will take that ride or jump back into the saddle with another NFL team.

 

9. Aaron Rodgers will win MVP, again

Result: WRONG

 

After a 6-0 start to the season, the Packers fell flat after their bye week and never really turned it around. Aaron Rodgers never looked like himself. While his stats were nowhere near, say Peyton’s, they weren’t what we have come to expect from him. Again, a 31 touchdown, 8 interception season isn’t anything to sneeze at, but he had his lowest QB Rating since becoming a starter in Green Bay. Cam Newton wound up dabbin’ his way to the NFL MVP Award in what was a fantastic year for him.

 

10. The Green Bay Packers will defeat the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl 50

Result: WRONG

 

Ugh, this one is right up there with picking New England to lose the AFC East. First, allow me to defend myself a bit with my reasoning here. Jordy Nelson tore his ACL just days after this article was written, which certainly hurt Green Bay going forward. For Indianapolis, Andrew Luck missed most of the season as well, but frankly they were better off without him (record-wise) as Hasselbeck wound up winning 5 games for the Colts, while Luck finished 2-5 on the year.

 

Overall Record: 3 CORRECT, 5 WRONG, 1 WRONG-ish, (1 TBD)

 

So there you have it. Not the best showing, but with only 90% of precincts reporting (a little election pun for you), I still have a shot to steal one more if Peyton would just make up his damn mind. So help me out, Peyton. Grab a few of those Budweisers you were talking about after the big game, open another Papa John’s Pizzeria, and just enjoy what retirement has to offer: Growing thick beards, Wrangler commercials, and copper sleeves for aching joints. Hey, it’s working for Brett Favre.

 

 


Champ and Chump: Week 12

Written by :
Published on : December 3, 2015

 

As we flip the calendar to December, we enter championship season in college football as the conference championships take place this weekend, and we’ll get to see who makes it to the second ever College Football Playoff. The NFL enters it’s final five weeks and the Philadelphia 76ers have even decided to win a game. Can I just say, this NBA season is setting up to be the all-time worst. Aside from watching the Warriors and their quest to win 70+ or hell, even go undefeated at this point, the league is pure filth right now. But ’tis the season of giving and being nice so instead, let’s take the time to recognize this week’s great performances while also seeing who had NBA-esque moments. This week the champs and chumps all come from football and futbol, as their seasons begin to wind down. We’ve got old and young, teams that have surprised us and teams that just flat out don’t get it. To the Champ and Chump!

 

Champ: Matt Hasselbeck

26-42 for 315 yards, 2 touchdowns and 0 turnovers

The Ageless Wonder, Matt Hasselbeck.

 

Statistically speaking, Hasselbeck wasn’t the top quarterback this week, but it’s what he’s done over the course of the last four weeks that gives him the nod here. Hasselbeck is now 4-0 as a starter this year while filling in for injured Andrew Luck, and has put the Colts in a tie for first place in the AFC South. At 6-5, the Colts remaining five games aren’t the toughest, and Luck is only expected to remain sidelined until around mid-December. However, Indy can wait patiently with this 40-year old arm slinging it like he’s 25 again. Hasselbeck became only the third 40-year old quarterback in the Super Bowl era to win four straight, joining Brett Favre and Warren Moon.

 

Honorable Mention:

Jamie Vardy-  From Leicester City of the Barclay’s Premier League, he scored a goal in a 1-1 draw vs Manchester United. It marked the 11th consecutive game Vardy has found the back of the net, breaking Ruud Van Nistelroy’s record.

Ezekiel Elliott- A week after throwing his coaches under the bus, Elliott ran all over the Michigan defense for 214 yards on 30 carries and 2 touchdowns in a 42-13 victory for the Buckeyes over their rival Wolverines.

Iowa football- Debate all you want about their strength of schedule, it’s about time Iowa gets their due. Following a win in Nebraska on Saturday, Iowa is one of two undefeated teams as they head into the Big Ten Conference Championship this weekend where they’ll play Michigan State.

 

 

Chump: The Cleveland Browns

This organization has continually brought shame to its players, fans and the city itself.

 

“The Mistake by the Lake” is how a lot of Michiganders like to refer to Cleveland, and with the Cleveland Browns organization the mistakes seem to happen in bunches. Being a Lions fan, it’s hard to say too much about other NFL teams and their struggles, but it is the Browns. On Monday night, Cleveland lost in a way that only a few unfortunate teams have, when they had their potential game-winning field goal blocked and returned for a touchdown. Yet that isn’t even why the Browns find themselves as this week’s Chump. Instead, it’s because of how they have handled Johnny Manziel. Sitting on the bench as a 3rd stringer, Manziel watched Austin Davis take over late when starter Josh McCown went down with a broken collarbone. While Davis did relatively well and gave Cleveland a shot to win, Manziel needs to be the guy. To make matter’s worse, Austin Davis has been named the starter for next week over Johnny Football.

 

While it’s clear Manziel has to mature and has some issues to work out, we are talking about issues that don’t even involve arrests. While Cleveland tries to send a message to Johnny, what message are they sending to their fans? After years of mediocrity, they draft the most exciting player in football, and in almost two full seasons now, he’s started just a few games. This year in fact, those few games he has started in he has actually done quite well. With 5 passing touchdowns and just 2 interceptions Manziel has a QB Rating of 88.4 which would put him 20th in the league (Cam Newton has a QBR of 89.5), if he qualified with enough attempts. Even though 20th is just the final third of the league, you have to consider he has had no chance to establish a rhythm, one week he practices with the first unit, one week it’s the second unit, and this week with the practice squad. He’s had no chance to prove what he can do on the field consistently and the Browns have put themselves in a position where they eventually are going to have to make a decision to keep him or see him get the chance somewhere else. Meanwhile for coach Pettine, who keeps sending Johnny to timeout, he’s a few weeks from being a coordinator somewhere else.

 

Dishonorable Mention:

Tommy Armstrong- The quarterback for the Nebraska Cornhuskers finished with 4 picks in a loss vs the Iowa Hawkeyes and was held without a touchdown in a game the Cornhuskers needed to win to solidify a bowl game

Florida Gators- While the Gators will still play for the SEC Championship on Saturday, the last couple weeks are incredibly discouraging for their fans. Needing overtime to beat FAU a couple weeks ago, the Gators played Florida State with an opportunity to remain in the playoff hunt. Unable to score a single point on offense, the Seminoles dominated the Gators 27-2.

Todd Gurley- The St Louis Rams’ running back had a fantastic start to his NFL career rushing for 125+ yards in four of his first five games but is yet to hit the century mark since, and is averaging just 2.5 yards per carry in his last two games.

 

 


Football is a Cruel Bitch

Written by :
Published on : September 22, 2015

Mama said there’d be days like this.

Coming from Detroit, I’m used to football bringing me more pain than pleasure. It just comes with the territory of being raised a Lions fan. I’ve grown accustomed to Sundays that are filled with heartache and rage. Screaming at the TV and cursing the Gods, old and new. Like a true battered lover, I blame myself. It’s my fault for still investing so much in a team that I know was placed on this earth to bring grief to Southeast Michigan, as well as those poor fools like myself who have moved on geographically but can’t shake the Honolulu Blue and Silver disease of our homeland.

 

If this was about just another Lions loss then I probably would not be writing this. I can deal with a Lions loss, I’ve been here before. Sure, this was one of the more painful regular-season losses in recent memory, especially for a team with such high hopes for the season. But shitting the bed against a (in my opinion, lesser) division opponent is nothing new for me. This past Sunday, September 20th, was continuously brutal from beginning to end, and I feel like I just have to vent my rage and frustration in hopes that it will help someone else….. Or that someone will help me. Please, I beg you to help me.

 

I have no words

 

As if the Lions loss wasn’t enough, I may have had the worst day in the history of fantasy sports and it starts with my survivor pool. After having selected the Steelers to beat the 49ers at home, I stupidly overthought the decision and made a last second switch to the Rams. My reasoning was that St Louis looked very strong, especially on defense, against the Seahawks in their win at home in week 1, and that the Steelers had not. All of that vanished on the road when the Rams traveled to play the (previously thought) piss-poor Redskins. Everyone except the other person who took the Steelers in the pool were eliminated when they picked the Saints, Colts and Dolphins to win this week. If I hadn’t have tinkered myself to a loss, I could be one of only two remaining in the pool, vying for a nice chunk of change. Okay, what can you do, it was a crazy week and everyone lost. My dear friend, Trent, will be taking home the big prize after only two weeks. I guess I can live with that.

 

The struggle continued and I remained the butt of some cosmic joke as I limped to three losses in three different fantasy football leagues. It was truly a losing day for the ages. In my favorite league, where I am the commissioner, my starting running back tandem of Jeremy Hill and Ameer Abdullah combined to give me a whopping negative-one point. NEGATIVE-ONE! I would have been better off leaving those two positions empty. How the fuck does that even happen? If that wasn’t enough, I left Travis Benjamin on my bench with his 3 total touchdowns. I might have actually won if I had started him over Mike Evans, who also gave me a big, fat zero.

 

So my big money league team started off poorly. Maybe my other two leagues have greener pastures ahead. WRONG….. My starting QB in league #2 is Tony Romo, so those dreams are broken along with his left clavicle. Hopefully my backup, Eli Manning can keep the interceptions under control and help me get the wins I need until Romo comes back, but I’m not very optimistic.

 

Poor Romo

 

My other QB, my first round pick, Andrew Luck, is playing about as ugly as his beard through two weeks. Like, really bad. He has 3 touchdown and 5 interceptions, to go along with a 54.7% completion rate. I’m going to attribute this to the fact that he has played top defenses each week but still, he is supposed to be one of the best and he looks like Blaine Gabbert out there. But I digress.

 

Only two weeks into football and I’m already starting to lose hope. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. This was supposed to be my year. Two weeks ago I was so vibrant and full of life; ready to take on the world. Now I feel dejected, lost and alone. A broken soul and a lost heart, longing for something or someone to bring me back to life. I’m just not sure it’s going to happen and I don’t know why I continue to do this to myself.

 

Like some devil-filled junkie, I’m still chasing the dragon. The memory of how sweet it once was fuels my quest to get back to that feeling. I remember making the playoffs and winning the league. I remember the Lions’ winning a playoff game (sad but that’s as good as it’s ever gotten). I just need to get back on my feet, that’s all. It won’t always be this bad, I just know it. If just a few things go my way then it’ll all be better. So here’s to hoping and praying that the Football Gods have some mercy on me before I break. Cuz this drug is something I just can’t quit.

 

anymore touchdowns

 

 

 


Roger Pretzel’s Cloudy Crystal Ball: AFC South

Written by :
Published on : August 21, 2015

 

This season’s AFC South promises a strong showing from the Colts despite Pagano being under extra post-season scrutiny, a Texans team itching to break into the big time, and a group of Jaguars and Titans still searching for an identity.

Simmer down. I’m trying to listen to the danged old ball…

 

Houston Texans:

 photo houstontexans_zpsdtpcwqvw.jpg

 

The Texans certainly have the potential to pop-off this season. A healthy Jadeveon Clowney alongside the indomitable monster that is J.J. Watt is going to provide for one of the best pass rushes in the league. And let’s not forget the addition of big man Vince Wilfork. Veteran Andre Johnson’s departure doesn’t hurt so much with the ascendency of DeAndre Hopkins, and Cecil Shorts could blossom under a new system. But the big offensive questions remain: can anything get accomplished at the QB position, and can Arian Foster stay healthy? Unfortunately it looks like the latter has already been answered with a pre-season groin injury, but there’s still hope in the backfield with Alfred Blue.

The QB question is much tougher. I like how Bill O’Brien is working with Hoyer and Mallett equally, but unless Mallett makes some amazing moves in the pre-season, I think it’s a no brainer to give the job to Hoyer. The guy’s got more starting experience, and while not being a top-tier quarterback in any capacity, I think he’s a lot better than he gets credit for.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

Another solid year for the Texans with more scratches in the W’s column than L’s. The offense will just squeeze by, propped up by a defense that will surely put the fear of God into every quarterback they come across. The good times don’t roll on forever though as a costly divisional loss or two at the hands of the Titans or Jaguars leads to a repeat of last year’s near miss of the wildcard slot.

 

Tennessee Titans:

 photo tennesseetitans_zpsd2wnvfb3.jpg

 

Ken Whisenhunt was my top man for the job in Detroit when Jim Schwartz was given his walking papers, but with a frightful 2-14 record last year for his coming-out-party, I’m thinking Jim Caldwell is looking pretty good right about now. Obviously it’s not all Whisenhunt’s fault, as he came into a team that’s seemed to struggle in every department, hell, every facet of the game.

Second overall pick Marcus Mariota has a lot of expectations weighing on him coming into his rookie season. I love the draft call and think he’ll be a great fit with this team… eventually. It would be foolish to think that Mariota is gonna turn this Titanic around, especially with the limited weapons at his disposal. I could see Mariota and Kendall Wright achieving some chemistry together, and am super curious to see if veteran Hakeem Nicks boosts the offense or simply phones it in.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

Mariota makes a difference, especially with the fire under Whisenhunt’s ass. The Titans improve gradually around their new QB and the whole thing begins to jell. David Cobb and Bishop Sankey will share most of the touches, creating an unspectacular, but reasonably effective run game. The Titan’s aren’t contenders yet, and they won’t be by the end of the season, but with a little luck they will manage to escape a repeat of having the worst record in the NFL.

 

Indianapolis Colts:

 photo indianapoliscolts_zpsdrodosvx.jpg

 

Indy’s at the top of the heap in the AFC South and it looks like it’s going to remain that way for at least another year. Andrew Luck is killing it, and T.Y. Hilton, perhaps the best deep threat receiver in the league, got resigned this offseason. The Colts finally have a bit of stability in the backfield with Frank Gore. Sure, Gore’s lost a bit of his speed and he’s not going to get as many touches as he used to, but his instincts are still good, and he still has that battering-ram toughness that makes him so fun to watch and so frustrating for defenses. He also has the coolest nickname in the league (The Inconvenient Truth). In any case, one would be hard pressed to say that he’s not a huge step up from Trent Richardson, who I mistakenly thought was really going to make a go of it with the Colts.

With the Indy chumping it the past few years of playoffs, questions about Chuck Pagano’s competency are being raised. I think it’s a issue worth talking about, and the buck stops here, but I think it’s difficult to peg those losses, no matter how spectacular, on a guy who regularly racks up winning seasons for his team. Plenty of teams would be so lucky as to have Chuck Pagano as their head coach.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

The offense is there, but the defense will continue to have trouble keeping up with the other side of the ball. The divisional situation gives the Colts another free ticket to the playoffs where they once again lose a heartbreaker. Questions will continue about Pagano’s coaching. He’s out of Indy in the next three years.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars:

 photo jacksonvillejaguars_zpsgpmw3vju.jpg

 

I like Blake Bortles, and not just because of his funny name. I like his arm when he’s on the run and I like his release. There’s plenty of room for improvement, and I think we’re going to see some of it this year. Julius Thomas was a nice off-season present for a guy in need of quality receivers, but let’s be honest, I think plenty of teams will be comfortable double teaming Thomas in the red zone while leaving Marqise Lee open. I like the multiple options at running back, and I think Bernard Pierce makes the roster and has an impact.

Something I’ve noticed: I never see a dude in just a Jaguars hat or jersey. It’s always an entire outfit with hat, jersey, shorts, and even team color sneakers. Just on the street. Just walking around. Crazy people like that deserve to see Julius Thomas succeed with his new team.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

The most exciting games for the Jags this year will be divisional matchups, particularly against the Titans and Texans. Jacksonville has a solid shot at spoiling Houston’s playoff dream, and leaving Tennessee in the dust. The crystal ball says both these things happen. The non-divisional games on the other hand will be mostly losses with a tough schedule for a team in transition.

 

 


Fantasy Football Saints, Sinners and Sleepers: QB Edition

Written by :
Published on : August 15, 2015

 

“Here we lay bare the souls of those who play the game for our entertainment. We praise the saints, condemn the sinners, and root out the sleepers who can help your fantasy football team stay on the righteous path.”

 

The first installment of Saints, Sinners and Sleepers will explore the quarterback position heading into the 2015 NFL season. These are the best of the best, the worst of the worst and some of the most underestimated in their field. The following players can help you gain entry into the pearly gates of a fantasy football championship, or send you to the seventh circle of a losing season. Heed the words you are about to read, and know that it is truth.

 

Saints

Number 12 will be giving opposing defenses trouble once again this season.

 

Aaron Rodgers– The best quarterback in the NFL is also your best option in fantasy football this year. He and Andrew Luck are just about neck and neck, but Rodgers is much more of a proven commodity. He has been slinging the pig skin with pinpoint accuracy for years now, and doesn’t look to be slowing down. Despite some nagging injuries last season he managed to throw for 4,381 yards and 38 touchdowns. He can make plays on the ground as well as through the air, and with a running game led by Eddie Lacy, he’ll have less pressure on him and more defenders in the box than in recent years, which should translate to some big play opportunities. He is a perhaps the biggest saint among QBs in the world of fantasy football and can do no wrong this year if he is your starting quarterback.

 

Andrew Luck- The football chucking ogre in Indy will be carrying his team once again this year and that means lots of yards through the air and touchdowns. In the last few seasons, the Colts have left a lot to be desired in the areas of running game and defense, and this year doesn’t seem to be any different. Hoping that an over the hill Frank Gore can resurrect the ground game seems like a long shot and they just didn’t add enough pieces to improve a bad defense. Once again, the Colts will be trying to hang 50 points a game and outscore their opponents. For owners charmed enough to land Luck this is great news and there’s no reason he can’t come close to the 4,791 passing yards and 40 touchdowns he racked up last season. He is still a very young saint with room to improve on his already very good numbers. If he is still available in the end of the first round then draft him.

 

Ben Roethlisberger- The Steel City has been fortunate to have Big Ben as their quarterback for the last decade. He has helped them win two Super Bowls, and is coming off of his best season yet, statistically speaking. His 67.1 completion percentage, 4,952 yards and 32 touchdowns were all high points in an already impressive career. Oh yeah, he also has arguably the best receiver in the game, Antonio Brown. These two are just hitting stride together and should be a potent combination for years to come.  If that wasn’t scary enough, Le’veon Bell will back after he serves his two game suspension and will have defenses stacking the box and leaving plenty of room for Ben to work miracles. The offense in Pittsburgh is going to score a ton of points, and if Ben Roethlisberger can stay healthy he will be a true saint as your fantasy football QB, helping you win it all.

 

Sinners

Expect more of this if Ej Manuel takes the field for the Bills.

 

Whoever starts in Buffalo- Matt Cassel, EJ Manuel or Tyrod Taylor; it’s all garbage. The three QBs combined for an astounding 1,263 yards, 8 touchdowns and 16 interceptions last season. Compound their collective ineptitude with new head coach, Rex Ryan, who is notorious for staunch defense, strong running game and terrible quarterback play, and you have a recipe for an awful passing attack. I don’t think this really warrants further explanation, but they are bound to live up to their reputations as bums. No matter who wins the starting job, they are sinners and should be banished to the depths of fantasy football hell. Should you be unfortunate (or stupid) enough to end up with them on your roster, don’t say you weren’t warned, and may God have mercy on your soul.

 

Whoever starts in Houston- When Arian Foster went down with a gruesome groin injury in the opening days of training camp, life got considerably harder for whichever QB comes out on top. The two guys vying for the starting job are Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett, and neither of them should have fans down in Houston very excited. Mallett passed for 400 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in three games with the Texans last year. Hoyer actually gave fans up in Cleveland a fleeting moment of hope last season, only to collapse in the second half of the season and finish with 3,326 yard, 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Without their starting running back to keep opposing defenses occupied, you can be sure that both of these guys will see the field at some point, and will perform poorly when they do. DeAndre Hopkins can only do so much to cleanse these sinners and mask their deficiencies. Avoid them at all costs.

 

Whoever starts in Cleveland- This committee thing is becoming a common theme for the QB sinners, but hear me out. Gone are Brian Hoyer, a troubled but talented Josh Gordon and pass-catching TE Jordan Cameron, and in their place are Josh McCown, Brian Hartline and Dwayne Bowe. None of these names are scaring anyone and the fact of the matter is that Josh McCown and his competition, Johnny Manziel, combined for 2,381 yards, 11 touchdowns and 16 interceptions last year (Manziel contributed zero touchdowns to that total). Neither of these guys have ever given the indication that they were any good at the pro level. If you draft either of these sinners you are either desperate or crazy, and guaranteed to a fantasy football season full of pain and despair.

 

Sleepers

The number 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft will be putting up some numbers this year.

 

Jameis Winston- It’s never all that smart to put your faith in a rookie QB in fantasy football, but you could do a lot worse than former Heisman winner and national champion, Jameis Winston. Having two stud wide receivers, in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, to help ease the transition to the big leagues doesn’t hurt either. There will be interceptions for sure, but look for Winston’s talent to shine through often. Leading to good numbers in his first season under center in Tampa Bay.

 

Matt Stafford- It’s hard to consider Matt Stafford a sleeper at this point considering the fact that he has put up some very big numbers at times. Passing yards have always been fairly easy for Mr. Stafford but he has been inconsistent and had issues with interceptions at various points throughout his career. That changed last year with the arrival of head coach Jim Caldwell, and Stafford threw the fewest interceptions in any of his seasons as a full time starter. Stafford was much more careful than in years past and even seemed to be going against his gunslinger instincts. As a result, touchdowns were down along with interceptions. Look for Caldwell to give his young QB a longer leash and allow him to sling the ball downfield to the bevy of weapons at his disposal this year.

 

Derek Carr- The young quarterback in Oakland did an admirable job in his debut season for a Raiders team that was not very good, passing for 3,270 yards and 21 touchdowns. With the addition of Amari Cooper, look for Derek Carr to improve vastly over the course of the 2015 season. Cooper is a game changer and will be an easy target for Carr, and I see them connecting for at least 12 touchdowns this season. Opposing secondaries will learn very quickly that they must key in on the rookie wide receiver out of Alabama, leaving Carr plenty of opportunities to spread the ball around, and build on a strong rookie campaign.

 


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