Roger Pretzel’s Haunted Dungeon Week 10: LeGarrette Blount Vs. Kam Chancellor and “Gutterballs”

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Published on : November 16, 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 voodoo dolls pierced, and the walls drip with blood.

 

Week 10 Twofer: LeGarrette Blount VS. Kam Chancellor

Sunday Night Football’s rematch of Super Bowl XLIX was a real treat, with both teams showing off what they do best. The game-ending goal line stand by Seattle was awe-inspiring, but we only got to that point because of New England’s well oiled offense and champion caliber determination.

 

We’re doing a twofer this week with a couple of highlights during the game that featured both my favorite players from each team: LeGarrette Blount in New England, and Kam Chancellor in Seattle.

 

 

There are few backs in league you’d want more in short distance red zone situations than LeGarrette Blount. After his floundering days in Tampa Bay, he’s blossomed under Belichick’s undeniable genius. This power run works like a surfer riding a wave, as Blount and the Pats o-line keep riding out a powerful but finite Seattle push along a horizontal trajectory towards the goal line that finally peters out, allowing Blount to push through. Kam Chancellor, a guy I consider the best safety in the league, gets in on the act pushing sideways against Blount, but it’s too little too late as New England takes a big go-ahead touchdown on a play that epitomizes the very best of both downhill offense and defense in the NFL.

 

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Come the end of the game, we’re in a similar situation, and why wouldn’t you give it to Blount again? Because of number 31: Kam Chancellor. Nothing wrong with Blount going up and over to try and break the plane, and damned if he wasn’t close, but Chancellor comes in from the side again and grabs the New England back around the knees, tugging him back the few inches necessary to prevent a TD.

 

Like so many plays in a league full of lighting quick dudes, the actual play didn’t look like much besides a strong goal-line stand, but watching Chancellor do what he does in glorious slow-motion is just amazing. Every play in that final New-England-knocking-at-the-door series was notable, but Chancellor’s stop on Blount was a stark exhibition of how remarkable these NFL payers really are.

 

Week 10: Gutterballs

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Director: Ryan Nicholson
Released: 2008

 

Here’s another genuinely awful one for the hardcore sickos out there. Canuck director, Ryan Nicholson, began his career as an SFX makeup artist for horror/sci-fi/fantasy television and films, and like many folks toiling away in different stations of the entertainment industry, he wanted to make his own flicks, and went the DIY route by founding his own company, Plotdigger Films.

 

Nicholson’s tastes definitely tend towards the tasteless, and I’ve only managed to make it through three Plotdigger productions, giving up after this movie’s follow-up, the truly reprehensible and nauseating “Hanger” (2009), about a disfigured back-alley-dumpster-baby abortion survivor who goes on to seek vengeance.

 

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This one’s plot actually becomes quite convoluted as it progresses but the basic premise revolves around a group of kids sneaking into a bowling alley after-hours to compete in a tournament over the course of two nights that devolves into a skin-crawling rape scene and later a whole host of creative murders by a mysterious killer with a bowling ball bag atop his/her melon.

 

While this is a truly balls-out exercise in extreme cinema, it does harken back in large part to the 80’s slasher movie with its direct-to-video feel and atrociously obnoxious cast of what appear to be 30-somethings playing potty mouthed teens.

 

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Hack ‘n slash is the name of the game here and Nicholson does a dandy job of spicing up the kills with a blend of the ghastly and amusing. The two most memorable set pieces involve murder by sixty-nine sex position (suffocation via genitals!), and a decapitation by shotgun that is remarkable from a technical standpoint.

 

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Like I said, I’ve only made it through a few of Nicholson’s films , eventually giving up after the trashy and utterly sadistic tone became too much even for my depraved constitution.

 

This trailer does the film no justice but it is the best I could find:

 

And an example of what you’re in for with one of the film’s kill scenes:

 

Rental available on Netflix (DVD only). Cheap DVDs available on Amazon.

 


Roger Pretzel’s Haunted Dungeon Week 8: Colton Schmidt Makes Up For Dropping Ball and “The Mask of Fu Manchu”

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Published on : November 2, 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 potions mixed, and the black cat curled up snugly.

 

Week 8: Bills Punter Colton Schmidt Makes Up For Dropping Ball

 

Sometimes when you make a big time boo-boo it’s best just to fix it yourself before taking any heat. Bills punter Colton Schmidt straight up drops this ball on the turf way back in Buffalo territory. Total tragedy. Maybe picking it up and punting again is possible, but a turnover on downs or a Pats fumble recovery is the most likely option. It’s best not to think about it too hard, and Colton Schmidt doesn’t.

 

After the drop and another failed attempt to retrieve the pigskin, Schmidt, decides to run like some kind of terrified animal as he finally gets a grip on the ball. Head down, looking to the sideline, he churns those legs until he’s past the first down marker and out of bounds with at least three big Patriots players breathing down his neck.

 

It almost looks like Brandon Bolden could have made the tackle, had his teammate Jared Mayo not made a dive at Schmidt. You gotta imagine the meticulous Belichick wasn’t too happy about his special teams performance on this one. On the other side of the ball, Schmidt gets to apologize to special teams coordinator Danny Crossman while his teammates smile, laugh it up, pat him on the back, and continue the drive.

 

Week 8: The Mask of Fu Manchu

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Director: Charles Brabin
Released: 1932

 

With a title like this, and with its 1932 theatrical release date you know you’re not going to be seeing the most culturally sensitive movie out there. The premise alone (lifted from a Sax Rohmer novel) is cringe-worthy with the mad Dr. Fu Manchu (Boris Karloff) questing to find the golden mask and scimitar of Genghis Khan, so he can rally all of Asia behind him and destroy white Christendom.

 

The picture provides an interesting mashup between the adventure and horror genres with its square-jawed English archaeologists in exotic locals pitted against a rival who is fond of esoteric means of torture, and a daughter who possesses a wicked and wildly pre-code penchant for sadism (a wonderful if underutilized turn by Myrna Loy).

 

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As obnoxious and offensive as the film’s general premise is, most of the actual racism onscreen is boneheadedly unspecific with a cultural hodgepodge of costumes and set decorations. The sets in particularly are gorgeous, and along with the expected chinoiserie there is statuary and bric-a-brac that actually impressively displays a whole catalog of ancient art styles from Central and East Asia. If the depictions on the screen may be juvenile and troubling, there is at least the sense that the production designer and art director took great care and love in seriously replicating ancient art from the region.

 

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If you can get past the backwards insensitivity, there’s some truly weird thrills to be had here: torture scenes involving a perpetually ringing bell, a pit of alligators, and a slowly closing room of spiked walls, a hypnotism serum made from the blood of venomous animals and “seven sacred herbs,” a knife throwing assassin, black musclemen in loincloths serving as Fu Manchu’s guards, the lavish tomb of Genghis Khan himself, a machine that arcs electricity all around the room that will later turn into a super laser-like weapon, and the ironic conceit that Dr. Fu was highly educated at a variety of top western universities (he’s a Harvard man amongst other things!).

 

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This is obviously the kind of picture that gets laughed at more for its ridiculousness than offensiveness, however there is a final joke in the last seconds of run time involving an Asian porter ringing a dinner bell that is genuinely mean-spirited and hard to stomach. I could picture that being a deal-breaker for many a viewer, so be warned.

 

The trailer can be found here in this triple-bill promo. Skip to 00:32 for your Karloff fix:

 

 

Full movie here

 

 


Halloween Costume Ideas

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Published on : October 30, 2016

 

 

Halloween is right around the corner and I bet most of you lazy bones still don’t have a costume yet. No worries, let SBS scare up some ideas for you. All Hallows’ Eve is a wonderful holiday where you get to shock and delight your friends and neighbors with a spooky getup while stuffing your face with candy. What’s not to love? Here are a few sports related Halloween costume concepts that are easy to pull off and are sure to be a hit where ever you go.

 

Zom Brady

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All you need for this one is a New England Patriots jersey or shirt. Preferably something with number 12 on it. Doesn’t need to be official merch, head to the thrift store and find something that fits. You can borrow from a friend but there is a chance it may get stained so be careful. Next, get some corpse makeup and do your best to look undead. Maybe splatter fake blood across the jersey. This can also be modified as a couple’s costume. The Gisele or Gizombie costume is the same: Pat’s gear, corpse paint, hair down. When it doubt, add names to the back of the shirts. Also, group costume idea, get a third person to rock the Belichick hoodie.

 

Steph Curry

stepth MOUTHGUARDS

 

You don’t need insane handles and an unstoppable three to dress up as Steph Curry. It’s actually quite easy to imitate the Golden State Warriors star. All you need is a clear mouthguard which is available at any sporting goods store. Then, wait for someone to ask you what your costume is then put the mouthguard in then starting chewing on one end and see how quick your buds guess the answer.

 

Gordie Howl-at-the-moon

First step is simple. Some Red Wings attire (jersey or t-shirt). Unlike clam chowder, we prefer the red over the white. But if it’s available, by all means. Next, you need either a wolf mask (full rubber or plastic face with elastic band) or some decent fur and makeup. A hockey stick is a nice accessory but lugging it around can be a pain. Remember, you are going as a play-on-words. And no ones plays harder than Gordie Howe. So really sell it. Practice your howl and do it like Gordie would have.

 

Steve Bartman

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The Cubs finally made it to a World Series, so we can all finally laugh about the Bartman incident. To pull this one off you need some eyeglasses, a solid blue Cubs hat, a black crew neck sweatshirt, a green turtle neck (for underneath the sweatshirt) and walkman with shitty 90’s style headphones. Any Chicago fan or serious sports nut will dig this look. But be carful, dress this way and Mike Bridenstine may take a swing at you.

 

All jokes aside, what could be scarier than being the quarterback for the Cleveland Browns? They are on their 6th QB in 7 games. Injury has taken them all out. Enough tricks already, these guys could use some treats. If you have a great costume idea then please leave it in the comments for everyone to enjoy. Send us all your sports Halloween costume photos and we will post them to our instagram.

 

Boo!

 

 


Understanding Why the Patriots are so Damn Good

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Published on : September 28, 2016

 

 

The New England Patriots are 3-0. That isn’t much of a headline because the Pats always seem to be good. Why is that? Why does one franchise seem immune to all the regular pitfalls that every other teams falls into? Are they lucky? Or magic? Or are they just cheaters? They are 3-0 with out suspended QB Tom Brady and have wins from the backup and third stringer. They have mostly been without super-monster tight end Rob Gronkowski. Did I mention the third string QB, Jacoby Brissett, is a rookie? And his first start ever was against JJ Watt and the Texans? Where they won 27-0?  It’s kind of insane. Let’s look at all the angles and figure out why New England is so damn good. Those winning jerks.

 

The System

They run a tight ship over there in Foxborough. They believe in a team first philosophy. Most squads preach some version of this idea but it is gospel in the Patriots locker room. That means, each player is a cog in a larger machine and no one is more important than the machine. If a cog stops being effective (or gets hurt) then it’s replaced. Do your job and you look like a star. Anyone remember Matt Cassel? The Pats don’t give huge paydays to free agents who threaten to leave. They draft well and find talent wherever they can. Often giving vets new life in a stripped down role where they can shine. Players like Randy Moss, Aqib Talib and LeGarrette Blount all thrived in Boston because the system only asks them to do what they are great at.

 

 

Competitive Advantage

The Patriots exploit every facet of the game for maximum returns. This hyper-aggressive efficiency has gotten them in hot water more than a few times. Some call this cheating. They broke the rules so yes, it is cheating. Spygate and Deflategate come to mind. Also, we need a new name for scandals, this constant “gate” bullshit is tired. The league issued their punishments and (for the most part) we’ve all moved on. But even in scandal we can see how the team uses each inch and thread available to them. They push right up and sometimes past the edge. This drive is incredible and responsible for their success and their failures.

 

The Coach

Time to stop pussy-footing around and get to the real answer to why the Patriots are so good. It’s coach Bill Belichick. It’s always been Belichick. And the franchise will continue to be successful as long as he is in charge. SBS’ Alex likes to refer to the coach as Emperor Palpatine. Cruel, funny and accurate in terms of his masterful planning prowess but even that is an oversimplification of Belichick’s amazing football mind.

 

Most teams focus on their strength and work to build that identity. This is how they know they can move the ball. New England doesn’t do this. They obliviously have plays and things they like but the basic ideology is different. Bill’s magic is that he molds his team into the exact creature perfect for hunting and killing your team. They change their identity week-to-week. Not only is it difficult to plan for them but they become your worst nightmare. If you can’t stop the run, then they will transform into a power back system and pound the rock. Weak or young cornerbacks? Deep shots all day. Rookie QB? How about a steady diet of all-out blitz? It’s like playing Rock-Paper-Scissors but Belichick knows what you are going to throw and changes his answer to beat you. It’s almost not fair.

 

 

Why doesn’t every team do this? Some try but most aren’t deep enough or well disciplined enough to pull it off. That’s why the Pats have such high standards about who they draft. Bill Belichick is a guaranteed Hall of Famer. Those silly scandals don’t stack up against 190 wins and 4 Super Bowl Championships with the Patriots franchise. He literally changed the game. It’s a trite saying but it legit applies. I take my hat (or hoodie) off to him.

 

The Pats play the Buffalo Bills at home this Sunday. Jimmy Garoppolo may be back from injury and will be looking for his third win on the year. Jacoby Brissett hurt his thumb in the last game and may be unavailable. If neither can go then wide receiver Julian Edelman will start under center. Which sounds bonkers but they would probably win. Either way, they get Golden Boy, Tom Brady, back for week 5 against the Cleveland Browns. I kind of feel sorry for the Browns because Tom is going to go ape all over their secondary in his return. Each touchdown will be a fuck you to Commissioner Roger Goodell and I expect it to rain f-bombs that afternoon.

 

A fully healthy and stocked roster means the Patriots should be the favorite in every game for the rest of the season. Don’t be surprised to see them stay nearly undefeated the entire year and probably win the Super Bowl. Again.

 

Gold Standard.

 

 


Will the Patriots let someone else win for once?

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Published on : January 17, 2016

 

 

By now I can only assume that everyone else outside of New England is as tired as I am of seeing the Patriots win. It’s like, c’mon guys we get it, you’re the great dynasty of our generation and have arguably the best quarterback in the history of the game, but why don’t you give someone else a chance to win for once? We all know that won’t happen because Brady and Belichick are Sith Lords, and Sith Lords aren’t accustomed to ceding power to the forces of good.

 

In all seriousness, this team is ridiculous on just about every level. The reigning Super Bowl Champions beat the Kansas City Chiefs yesterday in a game that was not as close as the final 27-20 score indicated, and advanced to their fifth straight AFC Championship Game. That’s right, five straight. That ties the record for consecutive conference championship appearances. And if they can beat the Broncos or Steelers next week, which seems highly likely if you ask me, then they will go to their seventh Super Bowl in the last fourteen years.

 

 The Chiefs were outplayed and overmatched on Saturday

 

That’s just gross. Give it a rest guys. There are plenty of other teams out there who have never won a NFL Championship. Why not let someone else in on the fun? Winning is fun right? I wouldn’t know, I’m a Lions fan. It looks like a lot of fun when you do it. EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.

 

Maybe even let the Browns win something for once. They might be the one other franchise that is as maligned as my beloved Lions. Like us, they’ve never won the big game, or even been to it for that matter. Both the franchises have been around since before the Super Bowl even existed and somehow have never gone to one. How is that even possible? The only other teams that haven’t been to Super Bowl are the Houston Texans and the Jacksonville Jaguars, and those franchises have only been around for 39 years combined. The Browns and Lions? They have brought shame to their fans for a combined 156 years. Sure they won some championships back in the pre-Super Bowl, caveman era of pro football but that doesn’t matter anymore. Come February 8th, 50 Super Bowls will have gone by without the Lions or Browns making an appearance.

 

 How many championship trophies does one man need?

 

So I beg you, New England Patriots, please just let someone else win for once. I know it’s hard when you have a sick defense, a living god at the QB position, a human touchdown machine at tight end and the best coaching in the NFL, but aren’t you tired of winning yet? It’s got to be getting a little old. So if you can find it in your cold, dead, New England hearts to share the wealth a little bit, the rest of the football loving world would really appreciate it. Until then I’ll just sit here in my den of shame and be happy that the Packers lost.

 

 

 


Champ and Chump: Week 16

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Published on : January 1, 2016

 

Happy New Year from myself and everyone here at SBS. As we ring in 2016, we make our New Year’s resolutions. Many of us we plan to make the gym a part of our daily routine, or put down our smokes or maybe it’s less drinking. For others maybe we just want to focus on becoming a better person overall, or get more in touch with our families and friends. While that all sounds great for you and me, we’ve chronicled a lot of athletes over the last 15+ weeks whose resolutions should have been to stay on the right side of this list. This week we take notice of a couple guys who outplayed the competition and also find a couple teams who were outplayed. We hit the hardwood a bit too, recognizing a great individual performance and could be on the way to seeing a first for a team in college ball. For the last time in 2015, let’s take a look at the picks for Champ and Chump, and I’ll see you again in 2016

 

 

Champ: Kirk Cousins

 Cousins has the Redskins headed to the playoffs.

 

How good is Kirk Cousins feeling right now? Out of nowhere the Skins have won the NFC East and are looking more and more like a contender every week. Defeating the Eagles on Saturday night, Cousins threw for 365 yards and 4 touchdowns without turning the ball over. Perhaps more importantly, the connection of Cousins to Tight End Jordan Reed (9 catches, 129 yards, 2 touchdowns in the game) has become lethal and seemingly unstoppable. I am not sure many people predicted a division title for Washington this year and I’m sure even fewer predicted a season like this for Kirk Cousins, but two things are for sure, Kirk Cousins is about to get paid and reporters and fans around the D.C. area definitely like that.

 

Honorable Mention:

Isaiah Ford- The Virginia Tech Wide Receiver caught 12 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown in a 55-52 Independence Bowl win over Tulsa, sending legendary coach Frank Beamer out with a W.

 

CJ McCollum- Starting in place of injured Damian Lillard, McCollum just missed a triple-double in a win over the Sacramento Kings. CJ finished with 35 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists and 4 steals.

 

Bryant McIntosh- Northwestern has never made the NCAA Tournament but is off to a 13-1 start and hoping for the school’s first bid. Sophomore guard Bryant McIntosh, leads the Wildcats including a 33 point/8 assist night against Loyola Maryland. McIntosh hit 11 of 14 field goals leading the charge.

 

 

Chump: Bill Belichick

 Belichick wearing his chump face.

 

Bill Belichick showed Shades of Marty Mornhinweg this past weekend, as Patriots’ coach was on the losing end following a very questionable decision to kick heading into overtime against the New York Jets. Belichick decided to play the wind, and trusted his defense to at least hold New York to a field goal, hoping Brady and the offense would then drive down and win the game. Unfortunately for Belichick, his defense couldn’t hold off Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets and they found the endzone on their first possession, ending the game and making Bill Belichick look foolish. I understand that with the new OT rules a field goal on the first drive no longer ends the game but when Tom Brady is your quarterback and you win the toss, go out there and trust Tom Terrific to lead your team to a touchdown on the first drive.

 

Dishonorable Mention:

Green Bay Packers- I keep waiting for the Packers to hit their stride but it appears they may not find it this season. Heading to Arizona and looking to make a statement, the Packers were overmatched everywhere on the field losing 38-8. The Cardinals defense swarmed Green Bay, finishing with 9 sacks and 4 takeaways.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers- In control of their own destiny for the playoffs, Pittsburgh had seemingly one of the easier matchups this past weekend when they headed to Baltimore. The 4-10 Ravens had Ryan Mallett making his first start with the team after being signed December 15, yet the Steelers couldn’t take advantage and now find themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture needing help to get in.

 

Manchester United- Winless in their last 8 games, Man U is fading fast. At one point they found themselves atop the table but those days seem incredibly far away. Manager Louis Van Gaal may be on his way out as the club struggles to find a long term replacement for the great Sir Alex Ferguson.

 

 

 


Coaches who really hate The Media

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Published on : December 22, 2015

 

If you think about it, being a head coach and having to deal with the media seems like a real pain in the ass. I’m sure there are some guys who relish the opportunity to be on national tv and have the cameras in their face. But for the vast majority of coaches, the ones whose main focus is improving their teams and winning titles, it seems like a real inconvenience. Aside from that, they probably believe that it distracts from the game and from the team, especially when they have star players who embarrass themselves and the organization by saying something stupid in front of the cameras.

 

We thought we would take a look at some coaches refuse to hide their disdain for the media. It also happens that their contempt for the cameras makes for some pretty hilarious interviews and press conferences. So sit back and take a look at some of the more hilarious coach/media interactions caught on film.

 

 

 

Gregg Popovich

This man has never made it a secret that he can’t stand dealing with reporters. From his court side interviews to post game press conferences, he continually let’s reporters know when they ask stupid questions and just trolls them in general. If I was a reporter and had to deal with him, I would piss myself. Here is is getting ready for the 2015 season, but fucking with a reporter at Spurs media day.

 

Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick might just be the best football coach of the modern era. Since he teamed up with Tom Brady, forming the most dangerous Sith duo in league history, they have dominated the NFL. While he is recognized for his coaching prowess, he is also known as a man of very few words. Especially when it comes to dealing with the media. Here is a compilation of some of his greatest moments on the camera.

 

 

John Tortorella

This dude is an absolute nut. He is currently the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, but has been around the NHL once or twice. And once as the coach of the Canucks he tried to enter the Calgary Flames locker room to confront their coach… You’ve got to love hockey. One shining moment in this compilation occurs early on at the 0:16 mark when he really gets into it with a reporter. Solid gold.

 

Bob Knight


I think it’s generally accepted that Bob Knight is a little bit crazy. It’s also well known that he does not like the media, at one point referring to the profession as “one or two steps above prostitution.” Take a look at these SportsCenter soundbites from coach Knight and prepare to laugh your ass off.

 

 


Patriots and Panthers. Who will lose first?

Written by :
Published on : November 24, 2015

 

 

After tonight’s 20-13 win over the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football, The New England Patriots are off to an impressive, if not entirely surprising, 10-0 start to the 2015 season. I say that the start isn’t entirely surprising because of the fact that the world has gotten used to seeing some very excellent football teams coming out of Foxborough in the last decade-plus. Seeing Tom Brady win football games and having to listen to the incessant gloating of Pats fans is just something that the world has gotten used to. We get it, you’re great and Tom is god. Shut up already.

 

So if the Patriots are the team that everyone was expecting to be undefeated as we approach the last quarter of the season, their partner in the 10-0 club has come as quite the surprise. That’s right, Riverboat Ron Rivera’s Carolina Panthers are everyone’s darling right about now. They are undefeated behind a nasty defense and an offense led by Cam Newton, who has been talked about as a potential MVP candidate.

 

So with the Patriots and Panthers as the NFL’s lone undefeated teams as we head into week 12, I try to figure out who will lose first.

 

Patriots

This is what evil geniuses look like.

Why they’ll go undefeated.

If the Patriots are somehow able to go undefeated the entire season, it will be because of two things. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. They have a pretty good defense too but nothing trumps Palpatine and Vader.

 

Why they’ll lose.

Because it’s really hard to go undefeated for an entire NFL season. They also have a pretty tough schedule remaining, with road games against the Broncos (this week), Texans, Jets and Dolphins. The Broncos are probably the best shot to hand New England a loss, even though Brock Osweiler is starting at QB. While I don’t necessarily see the rest of those teams as legit threats, they all have pretty good defenses and will at least make those games interesting. Add the fact that the team keeps suffering season ending injuries to its starters. The past few weeks have seen offensive stars Julian Edelmen and Dion Lewis go down for the year. It’s hard to sustain that kind of dominance when you’re losing players that have been that good.

 

Panthers

What you talkin’ bout Ron?

Why they’ll go undefeated.

Defense and running game. These are two things that couldn’t be more important to a team that wishes to keep their winning ways in the late part of the season. It just so happens that Carolina is very good at both.

 

Why they’ll lose.

Same reasons as the Patriots really, although injuries aren’t really as much of an issue. They did lose Kelvin Benjamin, but that was before the season even started and other players have stepped up in his absence. That said, I thought a lack of depth at receiver would eventually come back to hurt them. When they do lose, it could very well be because they got behind in a game and didn’t have the talent to make a quick comeback.

 

Who will be first to catch a “L”?

Let me start by saying that I don’t really think that either of these teams will go into the playoffs undefeated. There’s just too many things that have to go right for something like that to happen. Both of these teams are going to lose a game before the season ends.

 

Now that we’ve established that no team will be going 16-0, let’s see which team will lose first. I’m tempted to say that the Patriots will lose this weekend in Denver but I’m going to resist that temptation. It will be Brock Osweiler’s 2nd career start and that has got to have Belichick & Company foaming at the mouth. They are going to throw all types of looks at this kid and I’m just not sure he will be able to handle it. I think the Patriots first and only loss will come in week 16 on the road against the division-rival Jets.

 

You’ve got to think Cam Newton slips up before Tom Brady.

 

As far as the Panthers are concerned, I think they will drop a couple of games before the end of the regular season. They will still be the NFC’s top-seed but they will not be perfect when it is all said and done. I think they will also lose in week 16 to the Falcons, but that won’t be the first one. The Panthers will lose their first game while most of the country is trying to drown itself in turkey and gravy. That’s right, Carolina will lose on Thanksgiving to the 3-7 Dallas Cowboys. I’m sure this isn’t the safe bet, but with Tony Romo back under center and the fans in Dallas desperate for a winning streak, I think the time is ripe for the Panthers to trip over themselves and blow a very winnable game in front of the whole world.

 

 


The Ugly Breakup Between RG III and the Redskins

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Published on : September 1, 2015

 

 

With Kirk Cousins being named the team’s starting quarterback on Monday, Robert Griffin III’s tenure with the Washington Redskins seems to be coming to an ugly end. I thought about doing a full piece on the subject but decided instead it should reflect what RGIII’s career has been; short and painful. I truly hope that Griffin is able to latch onto another team without the pressure of being the franchise savior. It’s a bit late as I write this, but I can’t recall a player as highly touted as Griffin falling from grace in the way that he has.

 

Sure, there have been players that have come back from injuries to have successful careers. Two that come to mind are Drew Brees and Chad Pennington. Both suffered potential career-ending injuries during the course of their careers. Both overcame the odds. Pennington was a solid starter for both the Dolphins and the Jets, and Brees is a sure-fire Hall of Famer with several passing records and a Super Bowl ring in tote. But it’s not just injuries that are the problem with RG III, and it seems as though sometimes he doesn’t realize just how quickly an NFL career can be taken away.

 

RG III has spent the better part of his career on the trainer’s table.

 

Griffin needed this experience. As the famous “comedian” Bill Belichick once uttered, some players need a taste of ‘humble pie’ from time to time. The way I see it, Griffin’s issues are 80% mental, 15% personality (people skills), and 5% physical limitations. That’s pretty promising for a 24 year old quarterback that was formerly Rookie of the Year. The upside is still there as his arm strength and accuracy remain intact. His mobility has taken a hit to be sure, but he can at least scramble for a first down.

 

There are a couple of teams that I feel should give him a roster spot this season and sit him on the bench until the 2016 season, at best. The New Orleans Saints are one team I’d love to see him have a shot with. Brees has intimated that he may play into his 40’s. That would give Griffin ample time to learn from one of the great offensive minds, in head coach Sean Payton. Another team I think would be a great fit is the megachurch of the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys. I’ve toyed with the thought of owner Jerry Jones going after home state product, Johnny Manziel, but at this point of their respective careers I think RG III yields better upside than Manziel. Considering the chronic back problems that quarterback Tony Romo has had, the team could use some insurance at the position.

 

Or simply flat on his ass.

 

Unlike the Saints and Cowboys, the Houston Texans are in dire need of a quarterback right now. Brian Hoyer is nothing more than a stop-gap until the team finds the quarterback of the future. I do not see the team winning more than 6 games this season, especially with the declining health of running back Arian Foster. They could acquire Griffin, play him at the end of the season (ideally at full health) once things go South with Hoyer, and see what he has.

 

It didn’t work out for Griffin at his first stop. The commercial endorsements will cease. The ad campaigns will fade away. As his star begins to fall, there will be fewer reporters at his locker looking for ‘click bait’ headlines. All that will be left is the remains of what was once a promising NFL career. RG III must now make nice with his peers and earn the respect of a locker room. Better yet, he must be “All in” for the 2016 season, no matter where he ends up.

 

 


Roger Pretzel’s Cloudy Crystal Ball: AFC East Predictions

Written by :
Published on : August 6, 2015

 

The AFC East promises another season of domination from the whiney, albeit victorious Super Bowl champs in New England, along with a rejuvenated Buffalo, a front office in Miami that’s literally gambling on it’s future, and a sad sack Jets crew in need of some meaningful leadership.

The visions… They are upon me!

 

New England Patriots:

 photo patrionts_prediction_zpsmocwfry4.jpg

 

Let’s not pretend for one second that Tom Brady’s four-game suspension (should it hold up in court) affects New England’s season one iota. Jimmy Garoppolo is one of the better backup QB’s in the league and he’s got an arsenal of lethal weapons at his disposal. The Patriots fate doesn’t lie in the hands of Tom “The Unicorn” Brady, beautiful and mythical though he may be, but instead lies tightly clenched in the fists of its head coach. That’s right, the super-villain intellect and flinty heart of Bill Belichick is what keeps this team winning more than its fair share of games, and until he hangs up the hoodie for good it will continue that way like clockwork.

I’m curious to see if Brandon LaFell continues to improve and eventually wins the contest to become Brady’s “go to” receiver over Julian Edelman. Also, one of my favorite stories of last year’s playoffs was the miraculous resurrection of LeGarrette Blount from a shamed pariah to a clutch grinder, running with a chip on his shoulder.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

The Pats breeze into the playoffs, probably making it all the way to the Super Bowl. They lose the big one in another heartbreaker, as they’ve done about the same amount of times as they’ve won. Blount will disappoint without the fire to his feet, possibly leading the way for Jonas Gray (Michigan boy, just saying). Overall the run game will be a mixed bag, while the pass game will be frighteningly effective. Gronk’s gonna rack up a bazillion touchdowns, so get him for your fantasy team. My magic crystal ball, no matter how cloudy, feels utterly unnecessary in this case.

 

 

Buffalo Bills:

 photo bills_zpszgucf5um.jpg

 

This is one of the teams I’m most excited to watch this season. The introduction of a new, flashy, and often obnoxious, coach is just what a morose fan-base needs to shake out the cobwebs. The real story here though is the math equation of Rex plus Jim Schwartz, equaling the greatest meeting of NFL antiheroes in recent memory. It’s like if Bill Cowher and Jim Harbaugh got together, or Bill Belichick and the Devil ran a team.

You kind of know what you’re getting with a Bills ticket: solid defense and a committed and formidable running game. That’s only going to get amplified with Rex onboard, and I think it may ultimately be a detriment to making the team more well rounded. Sammy Watkins isn’t going to single-handedly turn around EJ Manuel’s career, and why would Manuel risk making himself look bad when he can hand the ball off to Shady?

 

The crystal ball says:

 

Ryan and Schwartz are characters for sure, but they’re characters worth paying attention to. If anyone can breathe life back into this franchise (without, you know, lots of wins) it’s Rex. The Bills will win more games this season, despite some serious weaknesses that will hurt them in the long run. The good news is that in the short term, talk of an impending move out of Buffalo will stop, and a proud team can continue playing in a town that deserves football.

 

 

Miami Dolphins:

 photo dolphins_zps52bccib8.jpg

 

There’s a spending spree going on down in Miami, and head coach Joe Philbin has been talking like he’s got something to prove. Yet, all the big words, and wheeling and dealing smacks of desperation. Miami’s not in the running for Super Bowl and these moves may create a “laugh now, cry later” effect. For the fans, the addition of Ndamukong Suh should be thrilling, and he’ll be worth the money, but let’s face it: no game has ever been won or lost on the shoulders of one player, especially not a defensive tackle.

Tannehill is a solid quarterback who has that increasingly rare attribute of consistency at the position, but the flip side is that he’s consistently above average, and almost never brilliant. I did look over the Tannehill contract and it’s not as crazy as some have suggested, but again, it’s another example of the money piling up for a team that’s going to have some financially lean years to deal with sooner than later. With Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller in the backfield you’ve got another argument for consistency, and that’s a good thing.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

I think Philbin’s going to partially get his wish with a roller coaster season that defies the workman-like nature of many of its players. When they win, they’ll crush it, and when they lose the team will collapse utterly, with Suh as the lone man trying to hold down the fort. At the end of the day they’re going to end up with an above .500 season, but it’ll be a frustration for Philbin and fans alike when the playoffs remain definitively out of reach.

 

 

New York Jets:

 photo jetssbs_zps1xoo7tjb.jpg

 

I am not envious of Todd Bowles. The guy is coming into a broken organization, with a presumed starting QB that is a poor decision making machine (who also yells back at frustrated fans), and a veritable hornets’ nest of injuries, arrests, and contract disputes. What I question most is the decision of the head office to hire a defense expert when the Jets ain’t exactly dying in that department. It’s the offense that needs the most work.

I don’t think it would be a terrible idea to start Ryan Fitzpatrick over Geno Smith and work a more ground-based, short passing game. Brandon Marshall is going to be a huge addition to this team, but like Eric Decker learned, you gotta have someone that can throw you the ball. There’s a chance that the one/two punch of Marshall and Decker can make some fun things happen no matter who slings, but… but… Exactly. Let’s also not forget that hell hath no fury like Rex spurned: those two divisional games between the Jets and the Bills are going to be absolute bloodbaths.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

More hurt for Gang Green with another losing season. Bowles is the silver lining as he works out a new identity for the team. The best to hope for is a year of productive adjustments, learning, and system jiggering, and then come back next year as a contender with a serious purpose.

 


Deflategate and the Patriot Way

Written by :
Published on : June 19, 2015

 

Let’s face it; Bill Belichick is not a nice guy (or at least he doesn’t show it). He is not likeable. His presence doesn’t inspire the people in the way that a Vince Lombardi would, and you surely won’t find many people outside of New England to sings his praises. He is monotone, flavorless and boring. Like Eeyore on Xanax, he seems like his whole face is going to droop right off his skull in every post-game press conference. But for what he lacks in people skills and likeability, he makes up for with the only thing that really matters. Winning.

 

In football winning is all that matters and Bill Belichick has done that consistently over his last fifteen years as the Patriots’ head coach. He is widely regarded as one of the best in the game and no one can deny that every squad that the Patriots put on the field, even when no one knows the players names, is among the best coached groups in the league, year in and year out. He has continually shown that he is willing to do whatever it takes to win, and that’s why no one should believe what he has to say about the team’s most recent equipment related antics.

 

In an NFL season that has been marred by controversy its only fitting that it would have come to an end in this fashion. From the Ray Rice domestic violence saga to Ndamukong Suh’s controversial suspension, and the even more controversial repeal of that suspension, there seems to have been a constant black cloud hovering over the 2014-15 season. Never one to disappoint, the league saved the best for last it seems, as The Patriots, once thought of as the new “America’s Team”, were revealed to be up to their old tricks with the latest controversy, aptly named deflategate. In Nixon-esque fashion, everybody’s favorite curmudgeon, the grumpiest of gusses, Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick, finds himself once again at the center of a scandal involving a violation of NFL rules, even though his team was already widely considered the best in the league.

 

Breaking or bending the rules is one thing (as they say, if ya ain’t cheatin, ya ain’t tryin), but the fact once again remains that the Patriots were probably the best team in the league regardless of if they were cheating or not. Like the typical evil villain he has become, Belichick can’t help himself but to do everything within his power to put his band of helmet clad henchmen in the best position to succeed. He doesn’t need to keep doing the things he does, but he does them anyways. It’s maniacal and inexplicable that he continues to foster a culture within the organization that allows for things like this to happen, or that owner Robert Kraft continues to look the other way.

 

Maybe Kraft doesn’t have any choice but to look the other way? Maybe he is under some type of undue influence at the hands of his championship winning head coach? Maybe Bill Belichick is hiding his true identity and powers from the rest of the world?

 

That’s right, as previously rumored, Bill Belichick is indeed the dark lord of the Sith, Darth Sidious aka Emporer Palpatine. He is a diabolical genius bent on complete domination of the galaxy, and he must be stopped.

 

For more evidence look no further than what he has done to former-America’s sweetheart; the clef-chinned California boy, Tom Brady. Darth Belichick has used his mastery of the dark side  to corrupt the once wholesome, yet insecure and unsure paduwan learner and turn him to the dark side, using him as a pawn in his evil plan to bring the entire NFL under his control. Through his manipulation of the young man’s good intentions, and his masterful coaching ability, The Dark Lord of the Sith has made his quarterback more powerful than he could have ever imagined, while also dragging Brady down to his level and making him into his own personal Darth Vader. Dispatching him throughout the football galaxy to do his bidding and quell rebellions among such factions as The Colts of Indianapolis and The Bronco’s of Denver, he has turned Tom Brady from Anakin Skywalker, the hero everyone loves, into Vader, the ultimate villain. Where once he was a new hope, he is now the phantom menace.

 

Under the Tudorship of Darth Belichick, Darth Brady has himself become a master of the force. Together they have flourished and the rest of the NFL has felt their wrath; all have at some point or another, bowed to their power. In their time together, Brady has grown into the best quarterback of our era, and arguably of all time. A four-time Super Bowl champion, ten-time pro-bowler, and two-time MVP, Tom Brady has been the gold standard of NFL quarterbacks for the last fourteen years. Like Peyton Manning and Brett Favre he is headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and hell, he deserves it, but I think it is safe to assume that the repeated infractions, and the teams willingness to be evil will leave a dark stain on the legacy of coach, quarterback and the entire Patriot’s organization.

 

Now I’m not actually claiming Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are fictional characters from the Star Wars universe (though I’m not entirely convinced otherwise), but it illustrates my point that they have become the supreme villains of the NFL. First it was spygate, with The Patriots videotaping opposing teams defensive signals during the game and even videotaping The St Louis Rams walkthrough prior to Super Bowl XXXVI. The organization and coach Belichick himself both received stiff penalties in the form of the loss of a first round draft pick and a $500,000 fine for the coach.

 

Now the allegedly innocent infraction involving under-inflated footballs used by the Patriots during the first half of their unrelenting beat down of the Colts in the AFC Championship game, has cemented the reputation of the Patriots as a dirty team and organization, in the hearts and minds of both fans and players alike.

 

It doesn’t matter that the Patriots put the final nails in the coffin in the second half of that game, after the balls were re-inflated by the officials. All that matters is that The Patriots are once again the bad guys. And you know what? I don’t think they care. They know they have lost the benefit of the doubt, and Belichick and Brady can have all of the press conferences they want. It wont change anything in the eyes of the fans outside of New England. Even after Belichick tried vainly to get scientific with his defense (Bill Nye promptly confirmed that he didn’t know what he was taking about), nobody is buying it. The simple fact is that these guys are great at everything having to do with football and are willing to cheat and get dirty in order to give them an extra edge in any given game. It doesn’t even matter if they were personally involved in the under-inflation of those 11 game balls, the damage is done and they are destined to go down as a couple of shysters with a handfuls of super bowl rings.

 

 


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