SBS Stadium Series: Super Fun at the Superdome

Written by :
Published on : December 16, 2016

 

 

The annual Lions road game/road trip continues. Year five of the pilgrimage finds the Michigang ditching the cars for plane tickets as my friends and I travel down to New Orleans for a matchup with the Saints at the Superdome. Let’s get inside the famous facility for the best live sporting event I have ever witnessed in this installment of the SBS Stadium Series.

 

A noon kickoff means the crew and I arrived to Champions Square outside the arena around 10am with Lions Mardi Gras beads around our necks and as many Coors Light as our pockets could hold. Despite some grey skies and light rain, the place was jumping. Tons of vendors, booze, all manner of snacks, a raffle and even a live band. It was a great atmosphere.

 

champions square

 

We toured the fan zone, destroyed various meats on sticks and took in all the outside had to offer. Later, we discovered a promotional Bulleit Bourbon table where they offered free mini shots of whiskey. You heard right, free whiskey. This could never happen in Detroit. People would kill each other. We hovered around the Bulleit table getting as many samples as we could. RJ and Joe even traded hats in effort to disguise themselves for extra shots. Totally worked. Needless to say, we all felt pretty good.

 

Michigang NOLA

 

We join the masses and head inside. Ramps, escalators and stairs later, we find our row in the 600 level AKA the nosebleeds. But the awesome thing about the Merceded-Benz Superdome is that there are no bad seats. Even at the tippy top, you have amazing views of the field. It’s just like TV but with no commercials!

 

image2 (3)

 

We settle in with fresh beers and watch the dope intro for each squad. Credit where credit is due, the Saints intro is HYPE. The video, the fog, the shower of gold sparks, the giant flames. It’s wild and really sets the tone. No wonder people love watching this team. The house lights come up for the coin toss and I finally have a chance to look around. That’s when I noticed that the roof looks an awful lot like the Death Star.

 

superdome deathstar

 

Kickoff. Saints get the ball first and go three and out after the Lions bring pressure and force a fumble that Brees recovers and throws away. They punt and Stafford gets his first chance with the ball. Lions drive and settle for a field goal. It is at this moment, the man in front of us turns around. He is a porky pig looking father of three, in a black Saints polo. He mimes a kitty cat licking and cleaning himself. As if to say to us, we aren’t Lions but tiny house cats. Needless to say, I was not happy about this act of aggression. Side note, why would you provoke this crew when you are at the game with children? Does he not know that I am loco? For reference, here is a picture of the back of his pumpkin, I mean head.

 

Superdome dad

 

I’m an adult, so I use my words and we move on. More football, the Lions keep rolling and we share nachos and some frozen drinks. The chant “8-4!” becomes our calling card for every first down or anything positive. And for the first time all year, the Detroit Lions have a lead at the start on the 4th quarter. It felt like I was on a wave that was growing and growing. The sensation was incredible. Then the dagger, on 3rd and 10 at the Detroit 34 yard line, Stafford hits Golden Tate who rumbles for a 66 yard touchdown. We explode.

 

Some excessive dancing causes an armed police officer to issue a warning to one of the crew. As soon as the cop leaves, the Saints fans next to me start apologizing, saying they are sorry someone snitched on us for cheering. They praise our enthusiasm and seem genuinely happy for us. This sentiment becomes a theme, where almost every opposing fan we meet for the rest of the trip was super friendly and complimented us on a well played game. I’ve never seen such a thing. The Lions win 28-13 and we “8-4!” our way out of the stadium. It was pouring outside but we didn’t care. Can’t rain on this parade.

 

superdome rain win

 

We don’t know that dude in the Lion suit, he just joined us for a bit. “One of us!” “8-4!”. Honestly, it was the best sporting event I’ve ever seen. It was an exciting game, that we won. Plus it was big for our team’s playoff chances and I got to share it with my best buddies in the breath-taking Superdome with nicest home town fans a traveler could ask for. New Orleans is a class town with wonderful people. Visit once and you’ll fall in love. Guaranteed.

 

NOLA

 

 


Building the Perfect Quarterback

Written by :
Published on : December 1, 2016

 

What makes a good QB? Physical gifts? High game IQ? killer instinct? Most would say the greats have all of these qualities. Let’s play Weird Science and build our own perfect quarterback by hacking up the existing NFL stars and stitching them into one marvelous creature. And then we can dress him and name him and teach him the playbook. Some quick guidelines, only current NFL players and can’t use any player twice. Alright, let’s start from the feet up.

 

Legs – Cam Newton

The one of best rushing quarterback in the league. He isn’t just strong and fast but he has shown some real illusiveness in the open field. With these wheels, my monster will always be able to roll away from pressure and scramble for drive-extending first downs.

 

Body/Frame – Ben Roethlisberger

This dude is a beast. A giant beast. He routinely shakes off pass-rushers and uses his body to help keep the play alive. This is an excellent frame to build on. Plus it doesn’t feature tons of tattoos so you can pick your own terrible ink. Bonus!

 

Arm – Matt Stafford

 

One of the strongest around. Can make all the throws. Even those side arm ones that Lions fans love so much. In terms of strength to accuracy ratio, Matt is top tier. I’d love to see all 32 starters line up and chuck the ball for distance. My guess, the deepest throws would be from Flacco, Newton and Stafford. Maybe Winston.

 

Heart – Tom Brady

Tom is the lion king. The roaring heart of a champion. He has the rings but that’s not what I’m talking about. Look at him on the sidelines when things aren’t clicking. He is pissed. He hates losing and he let’s everyone know. This is the muscle that pumps the blood of a winner. Plus, I hear he is a tender lover. Don’t ask how I know.

 

Head – Drew Brees

Calm, calculated and a master of the system. The perfect brain to run my Frankenstein. I just hope he doesn’t make my perfect quarterback do Wrangler jean commercials. What are we? Brett Favre? Who will sell any product, anyone has. Seriously, does Brett need cash or something?

 

Beard – Ryan Fitzpatrick

 

This is a no-brainer. This is also the only part of Fitzpatrick I’d let near my perfect quarterback. I was almost nervous putting him here thinking that the beard could make my QB throw interceptions but that’s crazy. Beards don’t do anything but make women think you’re cool. And sexy. And interesting.

 

This quarterback would be unstoppable. Unless he played on a team with no O-line and had zero running game. Because no one can succeed in that environment. Let me know how I screwed up in the comments below. There is no way you all agree with me.

 

Igor.

 

 


Re-Drafting the First Round of Fantasy Football after Week 3

Written by :
Published on : September 29, 2016

 

Hindsight is 20-20. If only we knew what we know now, back then. It would all be so different. If only we could go back in time and change things. This season saw a new trend from many fantasy football experts who suggested selecting wide receivers early and that the era of running backs first was over. I didn’t buy that and pushed for the classic RB heavy draft strategy. 3 games may not seem like much but when the playoffs start week 14 then 3 games is a huge chunk. Only time will tell who the real winners are.

 

So we’ve re-picked the first round based on the stats and info collected over the first 3 weeks. Here is your new top 12. All scoring is from ESPN standard fantasy leagues (non PPR). This is not the list of the top 12 scorers because that would be almost all QB’s and that’s not how people pick when you only start one quarterback.

 

1. RB David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals

217 rush yards and 3 TDs. 169 receiving yards on 17 targets. Johnson is the most important piece of the Arizona Cardinals’ offense. If he stays healthy then he should be a top back for the whole year. If you had a chance to draft this guy and didn’t, then you suck.

 

2. RB DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans

 

When he left the Cowboys and tanked with the Eagles, many thought he was done. Well he is running hard in a system that feeds him the ball. He has 245 rushing yards and 1 TD plus 132 receiving yards and 2 TDs. That’s over 125 yards average of total offense per game.

 

3. RB LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots

Easily one of the biggest surprises. For reference, LaGarrette was selected with the #99 pick in my very competitive and informed league. Blount’s 298 rush yards and 4 TDs top the NFL. He is a true fantasy diamond in the rough. Plus he has a great name.

 

4. WR Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions

Jones only has 2 TDs so far but his 408 receiving yards are over 100 yards higher than the next guy on the list. He has the best start, in terms of yards, for any Lions player ever. Including the late, great Calvin Johnson. People wondered how Detroit would replace Megatron and I think we have an answer.

 

5. RB Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons

 

Not the Atlanta ball carrier that most took early but he is the one to own so far as Coleman has outproduced Freeman 49 to 39 in overall fantasy points. On less touches I should add. Tevin’s 3 TDs in the last outing gave owners a monster stat line.

 

6. RB Matt Forte, New York Jets

Another familiar face in a new place. Age and years of heavy workload in Chicago scared most away from Forte. If you were smart or lucky enough to look past that then you found an RB1 somewhere in the mid rounds. AKA a total steal. 261 rush yards and 3 TDs with 67 receiving yards.

 

7. QB Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

The first quarterback on the new board. No one predicted this. Not even Matty Ice himself. He is currently the #1 overall scorer in fantasy with 70 huge points. That’s 23.3 points per game on average. That is epic in terms of production and consistency. All that with only one turnover.

 

8. WR Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

Only the second wideout on this revised list. Evans has been beastly with young QB Jameis Winston looking for him early and often. Mike Evans is 5th among WRs in yards at 301 but second in targets with 38 and has 3 TDs. No reason to see this pace slow at all. Evans is a must start each week.

 

9. QB Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Drew’s team is 0-3 but you wouldn’t know from his stats. He already has over a 1,000 yards passing which leads the league and is tied for the lead with 8 TDs. The Saints defense sucks and can’t stop anyone so Brees should be launching it down field plenty to play catch up. These numbers should continue to balloon.

 

10. RB Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers

With touchdowns in all 3 games (4 overall), Gordon, has become the steady force the Chargers have been searching for. This is what they hoped for when they drafted him. The most impressive stat for Melvin is that he hasn’t scored less than 13 points in any contest.

 

11. QB Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions

 

Very similar numbers to Brees and Ryan. Stafford has 985 passing yards, 7 TDs and 2 INTs. Matt is the 3rd overall in scoring and ahead of such superstars as Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck. All who were taken way before the Lions QB. Look for Stafford to keep hooking up with Marvin Jones for big gains.

 

12. RB Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers

Not a sexy pick but Hyde keeps rumbling along and picking up yards. 225 rushing and 4 TDs is nothing to sneeze at. Only 2 points in week 2 but sandwiched around performances of 2o and 24 points gets him the last spot of our round one re-draft.

 

 

See any patterns other than guys whose name starts with M? Most of these dudes were not considered first round talent. Shows what you know. Big names missing that dominated many draft boards are Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, Odell Beckham Jr, Julio Jones, Ezekiel Elliot, Adrian Peterson (IR/RIP), Todd Gurley and Devonta Freeman. A special shout out to Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams who is the fourth highest scoring back in the league. I did not put him on the list as Le’Veon Bell is set to return and take his place, therefore he isn’t worth drafting in this new mock first round. But valiant effort so far. Cheers.

 

This order is sure to jumble itself in another 3 weeks of play. But the lesson is that #1 RB that gets a full workload is still the most valuable commodity in fantasy. The NFL is a throw first league and backs who snag a few catches a game, get 10-15 carries and goal line touches are worth their weight in gold. If you disagree, let me hear it in the comments.

 

Trade Bait.

 

 


Overreaction: NFL Week 2

Written by :
Published on : September 20, 2016

 

 

Week 2 is over. The 2016 season is officially off and running. Some would say it’s still too early to know anything about the identity of teams but those people have obliviously never met me. Listen up while I spout off wild, speculative snap judgements on all 32 NFL teams after only two games completed.

 

– The Bills are 0-2 and their season is already over. It was fun while it lasted Buffalo. Maybe they should have let Rock Star Bon Jovi buy the team a few years back.Well, better luck next time. Living on Prayer.

 

– The Jets offense is great as long as Matt Forte stays healthy and keeps moving them down the field. Without him, this team is doomed to be a sub .500 unit.

 

– The league office still hates the Detroit Lions. The conspiracy continues. In the 15-16 loss to the Titans, the Honolulu Blue and Silver were flagged 17 times for 138 yards. None worse than the two fantom calls that negated TD’s on back-to-back plays. Those calls completely changed the landscape of the game.

 

 

– The Titans are now 1-1 but this crew showed me little to make me believe in them. They exploited a super injury-weakened Lions D and scored some late points but that seems more situational than skill. It was mostly just smart play calling. I’m obviously still salty about this but this team sucks plain and simple.

 

– The Panthers got back on track in week 2 with a solid performance against the 49ers. Cam had 4 TD’s with two going to Kelvin Benjamin. This offense is even better than last year because Benjamin is back. Panthers look bound for another deep playoff run.

 

– San Fransisco blew out the Rams last week and no one knew what to make of them, but hanging with Carolina tells me they are more complete than most think. They leave the bottom of the barrel of last campaign and join the blurry middle of the pack.

 

– The Cincinnati Bengals cannot beat the Steelers. They melted down in the playoffs last year and failed again at Heinz field this Sunday. Marvin Lewis needs to figure a way to slay this dragon or else they might never get Andy Dalton that postseason win.

 

– The Steelers are legit. They score bunches of points and this is all without star running back Le’Veon Bell. If Big Ben stays off IR than the steel city boys are eyeing another division crown and maybe a meeting with the Patriots in the conference finals.

 

 

– Speaking of the AFC North, the 0-2 Cleveland Browns still suck. What’s new? Week 3 may see the Browns start their third QB of the year. Ouch. This team is done. Go hang out with the Bills. Your year is over.

 

– Baltimore is 2-0, sounds great but they barely came back against Cleveland and squeaked by Buffalo week 1. Two close wins against the worst of the NFL does not inspire confidence.

 

– Washington is 0-2 after losses to Dallas and Pittsburgh. Kirk Cousins is playing on the Franchise Tag trying to prove he is worth a big contract. So far, he hasn’t shown that moxie of 2015. Things better turnaround quick or the D.C. area may have to start rebuilding, again.

 

– The Cowboys got their first win with rookies Dak Prescott at QB and Ezikel Elliot at RB. This young team is lead by that great offensive line but I don’t see them going too far with all that inexperience running the show.

 

– Giants are looking good. I talked shit about them before but at 2-0 they are now the favorites to win the NFC East. The defense has played well and they have showed guts in two close contests.

 

 

– The Saints are winless. It feels like the same story every year with these guys. They can score lots of points and Drew Brees keeps it close but they can’t string the W’s together. No chance at the playoffs.

 

– The Miami Dolphins. A squad full of talent and names that never seems to be able to put it all together. Another slow start at 0-2 and Arian Foster is already dealing with health issues. Call the nurse, we have another dead team. Sorry not Sorry.

 

– The New England Patriots are undefeated and playing without Gronk or Brady. Their next two games are at home and untested rookie, Jacoby Brissett, may start at QB for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo. If the Pats are ever going to lose, it may be next week against Houston, but after that, they will probably run the table. As per usual.

 

– The Houston Texans will win the AFC South. They are 2-0 and the most complete team in the division. I’m sure JJ Watt can’t wait to introduce himself to Brissett on Thursday night.

 

– Kansas City Chiefs are a hard team to read. They beat the Chargers week 1 but lost to the Texans. They will hang around the Wild Card spot most of the year only to drop off at the end.

 

 

– The Los Angeles Rams are one of the worst teams in the league. It pains me to type that because they are now my second favorite. It’s a mystery how they beat Seattle but it was a 9-3 ugly affair. They should start planning their draft picks now.

 

– The Seahawks are 1-1 after that bizarre game with L.A. that saw injuries to Thomas Rawls, Tyler Lockett and Russell Wilson. Russ stayed in the game but was clearly ailing. Seattle will weather the storm and make a serious push for the playoffs.

 

– Arizona lost a close one with the Pats in week 1 and took their anger out on the Bucs in week 2. This is a solid team top to bottom. They will be hosting a postseason game. Hopefully Carson Palmer can last that long.

 

– Tampa Bay is 1-1. They have some nice pieces across the roster but don’t get too excited. They are not ready for prime time. Maybe they can finish second in the NFC South. No postseason though.

 

– Jacksonville Jaguars were a breakout pick from many talking heads in the sports world. I’ll admit they have many promising players but they still suck.

 

 

– San Diego Chargers are once again battling the injury bug. Already, key starters Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead are done for the year. This trend will unfortunately continue because that’s what happens in San Diego.

 

– The Falcons sit at 1-1. Matty Ice leads an even attack that is more than effective but the lack of close out defense will limit Atlanta’s potential. No playoffs for you, one year.

 

– The Raiders have all the tools needed to make the postseason and they will finally punch their ticket this year. Move over Warriors, Oakland’s true love is going to the dance for the first time since 2002.

 

– The Colts can’t stop anybody so they will keep losing. They are 0-2 and have zero chance of winning their division.

 

– Broncos will be playing without DeMarcus Ware for a bit but it’s okay, that defense is still so nasty that they will be in every game. Look for Denver to have another serious playoff run.

 

 

– Green Bay is 1-1 after a win over the Jags and a loss to the rival Vikings. Jordy Nelson doesn’t look 100% and Eddie Lacy is still fat. I hope and pray the wheels fall off but they will probably turn it around all over the my Lions this Sunday.

 

– The Sam Bradford project is working in Minnesota. The Vikings beat the Packers which is all you need to do to win over the locals. The team is 2-0 but may have lost Adrian Peterson for extended time. I still see them in the hunt for a Wild Card birth.

 

– Carson Wentz looks good in two games. The Eagles are 2-0 and those monsters in Philly must be smiling. Just wait for some adversity and those cheers will turn to boos. The Eagles can’t keep this up.

 

– Bears are really bad. Jay Cutler is worse. And the schedule doesn’t get any easier. At least the Cubs are good.

 

Is it week 3 yet?

 

 


Detroit Lions 2016 Win/Loss Predictions

Written by :
Published on : June 20, 2016

 

 

Last season was a disappointing one for the Detroit Lions. The team came out of the gates firing on all cylinders in the first half of their week 1 matchup against the Chargers, and then promptly fell flat on their faces. They started off 1-7, but managed to finish 7-9 by overhauling their offense midseason. They could have easily had two more wins and possibly made the playoffs, but last second insanity against the Seahawks and Packers killed those hopes.

 

This season the team is looking to build off of the second half of last year and keep improving. A full offseason in Jim Bob Cooter’s offense, improvements along the offensive line, and the return of DeAndre Levy should have the Lions looking better than many people in the national media are giving them credit for. Here is my 2016 Win/Loss Predictions for the Detroit Lions.

 

Week 1 @ Colts

The Colts were pretty awful last year, especially on defense. In my opinion, they didn’t really do enough to fix that. They do still have Andrew Luck, but they also have an aged Frank Gore slated to start in the backfield. Luck keeps the game interesting but I think the Lions have an advantage in defense, which gives them the edge. The Colts offense will have a good day, but the Lions will get just enough stops to come out on top. The Colts defense on the other hand will have huge problems containing the Lions offense. Lions win, 37-31.

 

Week 2 vs Titans

There are some folks out there who are pretty high on the Titans. They have some nice pieces on offense but with Mike Mularkey as head coach this team is going nowhere. They will fold under the pressure of that home opener Ford Field crowd. The defense will come up big and DeAndre Levy will have a pick 6. Lions win, 45-28.

 

 Look out for Levy in this one.

 

Week 3 @ Packers

The Lions are lucky to once again get to travel to Green Bay before winter has had a chance to wrap its freezing cold hands around the neck of that godforsaken wasteland of cheese. While that definitely helps their chances, I’m not sure the team will get as lucky this year as they did last year. It will be a hard fought battle, but I think Green Bay gets this in a close one. Lions lose, 27-24.

 

Week 4 @ Bears

Big thanks to the NFL for sending my favorite team to play their two biggest rivals consecutively on the road. The Bears are much improved, but luckily the Lions have their number in the last handful of years. The streak continues. Lions win, 17-16.

 

Week 5 vs Eagles

The Lions obliterated the Philadelphia Eagles last year on Thanksgiving. By that time of year, Detroit was starting to put it together on offense, and the Eagles meltdown was in full effect. Philly will still be recovering from what Chip Kelly has done to them. Lions win, 21-6.

 

Week 6 vs Rams

I’m not sure what the Rams plan on doing at quarterback just yet, but they could present some problems for the Lions. Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald are beasts and could very well both be in the running for OPOY and DPOY. I think they give the Lions enough trouble to hand them their second loss of the year. Lions lose, 24-17.

 

Week 7 vs Washington

I know Washington was a playoff team, and have some good pieces all over the field. But I find it hard to believe that Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins are going to have sustained success. The Lions will be sharp after getting worked extra hard in practice following their loss at home to the Rams. They come out on fire and win handily. Lions win, 28-10.

 

 Look for a win against Washington.

 

Week 8 @ Texans

The Texans always have a scary defense with JJ Watt out there. They will be the big difference here and will give the Lions trouble all game. The Lions offensive line will be much improved but there aren’t many answers for JJ Watt, who will have 2 sacks. Lions lose, 24-14.

 

Week 9 @ Vikings

The Vikings are definitely the darlings of the division this season. Most people seem to think that they will challenge the Packers for the NFC North title. I think they are pretty good too, and they are definitely going to be a tough test for the Detroit Lions in Minnesota for this matchup. Lions lose, 28-27.

 

Week 10 BYE

 

Week 11 vs Jaguars

The Jaguars should be pretty solid this year, but on the road in Detroit, a win won’t be likely. Ameer Abdullah goes off in this one for 120 yds rushing and 2 TDs, while adding 60 yds receiving. Blake Bortles will also throw interceptions to both DeAndre Levy and Glover Quin. Lions win, 34-13.

 

 Look for Ameer Abdullah in the end zone in this one

 

Week 12 vs Vikings

Watching the Lions on Thanksgiving is a long tradition. I’ve seen many Turkey Day loses through the years, but as of late they have really shown up. I’ll be damned if I call them to lose this year, even if it is against the infallible Vikings. Lions win, 14-12.

 

Week 13 @ Saints

The Saints had an AWFUL defense last year, and Drew Brees started showing signs that he might be past his prime. I’m flying across the country to go to this game so my boys better show up, and get some vengeance for that 2011 playoff loss! Lions win,  21-9.

 

Week 14 vs Bears

Lions rule, Bears drool. Jay Cutler throws three interceptions. The streak continues for another year. Suck it, Chicago. Lions win, 45-6.

 

Week 15 @ Giants

The Giants are the first of two consecutive road games against the NFC East, a division that was truly awful last season. In typical Lions bad luck fashion, I believe the NFC East will be much improved in 2016. The Giants threw around some serious money in free agency and I think that by this time it will start to pay dividends, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Coming off of a big win over the hated Chicago Bears, I think the team is in for a big letdown. The offense has trouble and Eli Manning frustrates the defense all day. Lion lose, 31-17.

 

 Eli will rule the day in week 15

 

Week 16 @ Cowboys

The Detroit Lions return to the “House that Jerry Built” for the first time since getting worked over by the refs in the 2014 Wild Card game. The team is going to come out hot and I see early touchdowns from Marvin Jones and Eric Ebron. Then things will slow down as the Cowboys adjust. In the second half things will get a little hairy for Detroit and the ‘Boys will take the lead. Dez Bryant catches a late touchdown. Lion lose, 28-24.

 

Week 17 vs Green Bay

This will be a game that decides whether or not Detroit heads to the playoffs as a wild card team. Teryl Austin is going to have the Lions defense totally fired up and I envision Ezekiel Ansah having a monster game. Ziggy will get to the quarterback three times, including a late one that seals the game for Detroit on 4th down. Lions win, 17-14.

 

The Lions will be the #6 seed in the NFC at 10-6.

 

 

This is my prediction for the Detroit Lions. It’s quite a bit more positive than most of the win/loss predictions I’ve seen for the team, but I think it’s totally realistic. Most people seem to underestimate the amount of talent on the team. This is a solid squad that has improved both lines and should be able to control the trenches. Playoffs here we come!

 

 


Dr James Andrews: Surgeon to the Stars

Written by :
Published on : February 19, 2016

 

 

It used to be that if you blew out your knee, your career was over. Now it’s just a 6-8 month setback. Crazy advancements in medicine have allowed our top athletes to bounce back sooner and sometimes even stronger. We see this across all sports, not just your high impact ones. Leading the pack in the future world of sports medicine is Orthopedic Surgeon, Doctor James Andrews. So when a star player goes down, this is the Doc you call. Let’s get to know James a little bit better.

 

Doctor-James-Andrews-and-Robert-Griffin-III
Doc and Robert Griffin III

 

He specializes in repairing damaged ligaments, you know like those ACL, MCL, LOL or whatever injuries in the knee. And for those who don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy, a ligament is the rubberband-thingy that connects bones or holds together a joint. The doc is based out of Alabama but travels for work regularly. In addition to a full schedule of surgeries, Andrews serves as Team Doctor for both Alabama and Auburn football teams as well as the Washington Redskins in the NFL. That’s crazy. You think Nick Saban ever asks him for insider info about the Auburn players?

 

James Andrews has worked on some of the biggest names in sports. And at an estimated net worth of $100 million, he is richer than most players. Notable patients include: Matthew Stafford, NFL (Shoulder), John Smoltz, MLB (Tommy John), Scottie Pippen, NBA (Elbow), Roger Clemens, MLB (Shoulder), Bo Jackson, NFL and MLB (Shoulder and Hip), Drew Brees, NFL (Shoulder), Peyton Manning, NFL (Knee), Hulk Hogan, WWE (Knee) and Troy Aikmen, NFL (Elbow and Shoulder). This list is just SOME of the big names he has done surgery on. He has also consulted on pretty much everyone. If you are star and you get hurt, you go see James Andrews. That’s the end of it.

 

james cena
Doc and John Cena

 

I don’t know this for sure, but I bet he golfs and is pretty good at it. He is a doctor. He must golf. Don’t get confused though, he still performs surgery on non-famous folks. This guy is just one of the best scalpels we have and he works his hardest to help as many hurt people as possible. That is really commendable. So if you’re ever in the south and you rip your shoulder, smash your elbow or destroy your knee then you know who to call. Ghostbusters! No, I mean my man James. The hardest working man in scrubs.

 

 

Now let’s all go throughly wash our hands before we give him a high five.

 

 


New Faces In New Places: 2016 NFL Quarterback Edition

Written by :
Published on : January 4, 2016

 

 

The NFL playoffs are primed to begin. Every playoff bound team is set with a signal caller for next season, and it’s said that to have a chance in the NFL, a team needs a good quarterback. If that is the case then that would explain why 20 of 32 teams in the league currently have a record of .500 or below. That’s astonishing considering how much money is paid not only to NFL quarterbacks but the front office personnel that are entrusted to secure the services of a competent field general. Next season, teams will shell out millions in free agency. There are only a few first round prospects at the quarterback position and they aren’t necessarily considered elite players. Their draft stock has more to do with necessity than it does to pure talent that translates to the NFL.

 

Here are a few free agent quarterbacks I feel may be on the move and the team(s) they’re likely to play for.

 

Colin Kaepernick

(Currently under contract with the San Francisco 49ers until 2020)

 

Best options for new team: Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals

 

Why? There are a few things to note about Kaepernick’s contract. It was considered to be a record breaking deal, however, the contract is only guaranteed for injury and has several criteria that could lead to de-escalators. It can be voided by April 1st and the 49ers can release him without penalty. With that said, there are rumors that he could remain in San Francisco next season. Head coach Jim Tomsula is not a lock to remain at the helm next season and a fresh start could help the struggling franchise.

 

If Kaepernick does leave, the Philadelphia Eagles (now without former head coach Chip Kelly) could be an ideal destination. Pairing him with running back DeMarco Murray and wide receiver Jordan Mathews could be a good start to rebuild after Kelly’s failed tenure. The Browns will be in the market for a quarterback and drafting the third first round QB in five years is not ideal. The Browns would be better suited to draft a mid-round quarterback and get a veteran such as Kaepernick with a team friendly contract. The Cardinals come to mind as the team desperately needing a backup quarterback for potential 2015 MVP Carson Palmer. Who has come back from an ACL injury and the team is too good to entrust to a mediocre backup. If Palmer was to go down, at least the team has insurance in Kaepernick to continue to compete in the NFC West.

 

Drew Brees

(under contract with the New Orleans through the 2016 season. Projected cap hit of $30 million for 2016)

 

Best Options for New Team: Houston Texans, wherever Sean Payton is.

 

There are conflicting stories as to what the Saints plan to do with both head coach Sean Payton and Brees. After a remarkable run to a Super Bowl and multiple passing yard titles, the end seems near for Brees in The Big Easy. Payton may also be on the move as the team has missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons and the NFC South is rather young at quarterback. Jameis Winston (21), Cam Newton (26), and Matt Ryan (30) have plenty of time to create havoc for the 37 year old Brees. The Saints defense has also been historically bad the last few seasons and regardless if Payton is an offensive guru or not, the league has caught up to his schemes. A ‘mutual’ split may be on the horizon and there is one perfect fit for Brees should he leave the Payton nest.

 

The Houston Texans have a talented team that has been derailed by a lack of a competent quarterback. Head coach Bill O’Brien hitched his future to Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett. Both quarterbacks have been so bad this season that the team had to call T.J. Yates back into the fold. They have passed up on several quarterbacks in recent drafts that could have at least been serviceable, most notably Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. If Brees were to leave New Orleans for Houston then the Texans would be an instant AFC contender. Running back Arian Foster should be returning from injury, they have a budding superstar in wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, and let’s not forget their formidable defense led by super-alien defensive end J.J. Watt.

 

Brees and Payton could decide to be a package deal with another team, like the Miami Dolphins or Philadelphia Eagles, but I think the two would be best off without each other.

 

Robert Griffin III

(under contract with Washington Redskins through 2016 with Team Option)

 

Best Options for New Team: New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks, St Louis Rams.

 

Most people would think that RGIII’s career would be best suited on a team where he can become the instant starting quarterback. I think that is the worst thing that could happen. The Redskins have done him a favor by not playing him. RGIII has been relegated to 3rd string by a team that drafted him 2nd overall. The quarterback selected to back him up is now the starter and may receive a near-massive contract extension. Yet, I think RGIII is the winner in this situation.

 

How is that?

First of all, RGIII needed a public relations makeover. By not suiting up for many games this season, we have not heard much of anything from him. That helps. Moreover, he has had the time to get healthy. He can’t learn much by watching Kirk Cousins play, but what he should have learned this season is a sense of humility and how to become a student of the game. All the physical tools are there, from arm talent to mobility. Hopefully, he has a handle on his ‘handlers’ and he can go back to just playing football, drama free.

 

If Payton and Brees were to stay in New Orleans, RGIII would be a great fit. He is young enough where he can still sit another year or two as an understudy. Payton will find a way to utilize RGIII’s talent and when Brees is gone, the team would have the cap room to build around Griffin. The best scenario for RGIII is to be on a team with an established star quarterback that is exiting his prime and near retirement. The Cowboys are a good choice, as he can back up Tony Romo, whose health entering the twilight of his career should be a concern of owner Jerry Jones. Having a player of RGIII’s stature would fit into Jones’ “entertainment before winning” business model.

 

The Seahawks are a stretch, as they are a team that does not do well with distractions. However, if Russell Wilson were to get severely hurt, would the team want to rely on Tarvaris Jackson for multiple games? RGIII’s skill set is similar to Wilson’s and would at least give the team short-term insurance if Wilson goes down. The Rams are only intriguing considering that the team took all the Redskins draft picks to give up RGIII. I don’t see Jeff Fisher being pleased to have RGIII in the lockerroom as he does not do well with high maintenance players. However, the Rams will be in the market for a quarterback and with Fisher in the middle of his contract, he would have to put his faith in a veteran to secure his job. Irony?

 

Johnny Manziel

(under contract with the Cleveland Browns through the 2017 season)

 

Best Options for New Team: Dallas Cowboys, CFL, Kansas City Chiefs.

 

All signs point to Manziel being released by the Browns after only two years on the team. Now that Mike Pettine has been relieved of his duties, there’s a chance he could stick around. The two seemed to be at war. Their personalities clashed and there was no trust. A new coaching regime could help Manziel, but looking at how the organization is run, it may not do any good. A change of scenery may benefit all parties involved.

 

The Dallas Cowboys would be the ideal destination for Manziel. Jerry Jones would love to have the Texas native backup Romo. Manziel would be able to maintain his star appeal in Dallas with an owner that is known to give players multiple chances. The Cowboys have gambled on reclamation projects before (La’el Collins and Rolando McClain), so Manziel would not be an issue. As for his value on the football field, the Cowboys have one of the best offensive lines and pairing with that and wide receiver Dez Bryant could lead to an interesting team.

 

The Canadian Football League is also an option. There have been many college stars that the NFL deemed not talented enough that have found success up north (Troy Smith of The Ohio State University comes to mind). A few years of seasoning in another league may do Manziel some good.

 

A far stretch is to backup Alex Smith in Kansas City, Head coach Andy Reid is still an innovative mind and could put Manziel in the best position to win when his time comes to be a starter.

 

 

Honorable Mention

Peyton Manning (Houston Texans), Sam Bradford (Jacksonville Jaguars), Geno Smith (San Diego Chargers)

 

 

Let us know who you think is on the move and where they are going.

 

 


Champ and Chump: Week 8

Written by :
Published on : November 7, 2015

 

As we reach the halfway point of the NFL season, and the first college football playoff rankings are revealed, we crown a true champion in this week’s Champ and Chump. The World Series is over, the dust has settled on the infields soon to be covered by snow in many parts of this nation and we bid farewell to America’s past-time for 4-5 months. This week we welcome a couple first timers to our Champ and Chump section, but also see a familiar face. Spoiler alert: My Detroit Lions are the definition of “Chump”. Alex always said in his NFL Spread picks, “Always bet on the Packers”, well you might as well always bet against the Lions. But before I go on a 6-page tangent that goes through all the feels, six beers, and a box a Kleenex, I’ll just cut to the picks for Champ and Chump this week.

Champ: Kansas City Royals

The Royals getting hype in the 9th inning of their series winning game 5 matchup with the Mets.

 

Not too much of a surprise here. Let’s face it, if you win the World Series, or any championship for that matter, you have a great shot at finishing as my Champ of the week. A year after losing Game 7 of the World Series to the San Francisco Giants, the Royals had one goal all season long, and for the most part they played pretty consistent baseball to get there. As a Tigers fan, I know all too well how good these Royals are and have been the past few years. Often described as a gnat, or pest, that just won’t go away, they battle for 9 innings, and most times end up on top. They made great moves at the trade deadline, and I declared them winners there, and a few months later, those moves paid off. A quick 5 game dismantling of the New York Mets gave the Royals their first World Series title since 1985. Hats off to them.

 

Honorable Mention:

Drew Brees- 39-50 for 505 yards with 7 touchdowns. 91.7 QBR and a passer rating of 131.7 begs the question, “Is this a video game?” Big win over the Giants and Eli, mentioned below

Eli Manning- Weird to have a loser from a game in the same “Champ” category but what else could you have asked Eli to do vs the Saints? 30-41 for 350 and 6 touchdowns with zero turnovers. QBR or 94.1 and a passer rating of 138.2, insane.

Andre Drummond- Pistons fans haven’t had much to cheer about the past six or seven years but they have an absolute star in the making at center. Through four games, Drummond is averaging 20/20 a game following a monster performance vs Indiana where he scored 25 and ripped down 29 boards.

 

 

Chump: Minnesota Golden Gophers’ late 4th quarter clock management

Because of the terrible clock management, Michigan once again holds the Little Brown Jug.

 

A little over a week ago, Minnesota football coach Jerry Kill had to resign due to health reasons. In a very sad press conference, Kill was emotional as he knew that coaching the game he loved was taken away from him far too soon. Kill was building a very successful program at Minnesota, a tough feat to achieve. From a 3 win season in his first year, to coming one win shy of a Big Ten West title last year. He led the Gophers to a 4-2 start before having to say goodbye. Tracy Claeys, an assistant under Kill, took over the job as interim head coach and figures to have a legitimate shot to become the long term replacement. After an emotional week, the Gophers and Gopher fans were ready to “win one for the gipper” as they say. They welcomed the Michigan Wolverines for a game on Saturday night. A back and forth game had Minnesota driving deep into Michigan territory, down 3 with under a minute to play. Then with 19 seconds left Minnesota thought they had it, a touchdown pass to win the game, but it was reviewed and called down. Minnesota had the ball, first and goal at the 1-yard line. Apparently, Minnesota spent no time drawing up a play just in case their touchdown was reversed because they got to the line, the ball was spotted, the clock began and they went on to waste a dozen seconds before even snapping the ball. Minnesota’s quarterback then ran around and threw the ball away leaving them 2 seconds left. They called timeout (yes they had a timeout) and ultimately opted for a quarterback sneak which came up short, and they lost. Two things really bothered me about this complete mismanagement of the clock: For one, call timeout as soon as the play is reversed and you would have four cracks at it from the 1-yard line, and secondly, you’re down 3, kick the field goal and force OT. Michigan was down to their backup quarterback due to an injury, so trust that your quarterback can outduel him in overtime. Also to quote Brian Piccolo from the famous Brian’s Song, “When you dedicate a game to somebody, you are then supposed to go out and win it, idiot. Pat O’Brien never said let’s blow one for the gipper.”

 

Dishonorable Mention:

Detroit Lions- Congratulations to the Lions as they now suck on two continents, a tough feat. Falling to 1-7 across the pond to the woeful Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 45-10 has led to the firing of their President and General Manager, a week after firing a couple coaches. Cheers Lions fans, it literally cannot get worse (we’ve already achieved 0-16), so hang your hat on that.

Los Angeles Lakers- The Lakers and NBA fans couldn’t wait for Kobe Bryant to return this season, and in what may be his final season he is far from riding off into the sunset on a high note. Sitting at 0-4 Kobe’s $25 million per year contract is easily the worst contract in sports right now… well, aside from Bobby Bonilla still getting paid in New York. The guy is shooting 32% from the field, and just 20% from 3-point land, averaging just 16 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists per game. To make matters worse, first round pick Deangelo Russell appears to be struggling compared to a lot of the other top-10 picks from this past draft.

Chelsea Football Club- In England’s Premier League, Chelsea has enjoyed much success in the 21st century and have done so while having some of the most loathsome creatures take the pitch in their all blue kits. Being a Manchester United fan, there isn’t much I enjoy more than seeing Chelsea completely crumbling right now. Currently sitting in 15th place in the table, just four points from relegation, has Chelsea frantically clawing to stay above the cut. While I am sure they will avoid relegation, it is still a bit satisfying to watch them struggle.

 

 

 


NFL MIDSEASON QUICK HITS

Written by :
Published on : November 3, 2015

 

 

Before this NFL season, I asked some questions and made some proclamations and predictions. The season has been filled with surprises, as well as injuries that have changed the fortunes of some prominent franchises. In this edition of Quick Hits, we’ll look at what I talked about before the season, and let you know if I was right or wrong.

 

I Said:

Adrian Peterson could POSSIBLY rush for 2,500 yards. He stated that he felt it was possible and I hopped one leg into the bandwagon. However…

What Happened:

I’m not a “rocket doctor” but 633 yards rushing midway through the season is not indicative of a running back heading for a 2,500 season. True, he has not shown much rust from taking a year off. He is on pace for, at best, a 1,400 yard season. That would be commendable considering his age and the normal attrition for running backs over a long career. His new goal should be to play until 34 and eclipse Emmitt Smith’s career rushing yardage record. My half-ass prediction was wrong but he will still be a top-5 back for a few more years. Or at least until Leonard Fournette comes into the league.

 

He may not gain 2,500 yards but he’s still got it.

 

I Asked:

Could this crop of rookie wide receivers be as good as last years? The first round featured 6 wide receivers taken. There were two 1,000 yard receivers from last year’s draft. Could this year’s crop compete with that?

What Happened:

Injuries and inconsistency have hampered this year’s draft class. Oakland Raider, Amari Cooper, has lived up to his potential. He has nearly 600 yards receiving thus far for an overachieving Raiders ball club. But the Indianapolis Colts’ Phillip Dorsett, Baltimore Ravens’ Breshad Perriman, and Chicago Bears’ Kevin White all sustained season ending injuries, the latter two before the season even began. We will be forced to wait until next year to watch most of this year’s receiver class, and they will not outshine last year’s class.

 

Only Amari Cooper has lived up to the hype this season.

 

I Said:

Peyton Manning should hang em up after this year. Manning showed last season that his arm strength had fallen below even his standards. His appearances on Papa John commercials would become more frequent once he decided to retire.

What Happened:

I WAS RIGHT! By far the worst start to a season for Manning. He has only 7 touchdowns to pair with 11 interceptions. It looks as though he can’t throw accurately beyond 15 yards, which has stagnated the offense. Despite his shortcomings, the Denver Broncos are undefeated after beating the Green Bay Packers. In comparison, New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees just threw for 7 touchdowns this past Sunday and the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady has 20 touchdowns with only 1 interception this season. Manning is not even close to his counterparts in terms of production. The Indianapolis Colts’ Matt Hasselbeck played relatively better than Manning in a short stint as a starter despite being a few years older.

 

The Broncos are undefeated but they mostly have the defense to thank for that.

 

I Said:

I wanted to see NFL defenses step up after a lackluster 2014 season. Even though the NFL is now a passing league, we have yet to see teams catch up on the defensive side of the ball. Wide receivers are being drafted taller, at an average height of 6’1″, while defensive backs, at their peak height, are 5’11”. It makes for a game with more offensive possessions than we have been accustomed to.

What Happened:

This past Sunday the New York Giants and New Orleans Saints combined for over 100 points, 13 passing touchdowns, and 36 first downs. The league has to better officiate the games and hold offenses accountable instead of always focusing on the defense. In comparison, Oklahoma State University and Texas Tech University combined for a 123 point game. Few players are drafted from the Big 12 Conference. The NFL should not have games that are similar to high scoring college shootouts and it appears that defenses have not heeded my call to step their game up.

 

There was zero defense between the Saints and Giants on Sunday.

 

I Said:

Some teams came into the season prepared to make a Super Bowl run. There have been additions to some that make them more attractive than others. The usual suspects (Patriots, Packers, and Broncos) are doing very well but…

What Happened:

The San Francisco 49ers are one of the worst teams in football. I felt that even though they had a coaching change that they would be at least competitive. The team has now traded 10 year vet Vernon Davis to the Broncos and are fielding trade offers for the entire roster. The Arizona Cardinals are doing well this season with a healthy Carson Palmer under center, but it remains to be seen if running back Chris Johnson can keep up his amazing production.

 

With a healthy Carson Palmer, the Cardinals have been better than I thought they would be.

 

Clearly I missed the mark on a few teams and players. However, this season has been worth the price of admission and more.

 

 


Champ and Chump: Week 2

Written by :
Published on : September 26, 2015

 

 

 

I’m a little late with my winners and losers of the champ and chump awards from this past weekend. But better late than never I suppose, and I used the extra time to nominate someone for an achievement from Tuesday even though it came after the weekend.  It’s my own article after all, so if you take issue with that then I’ll see you in the comments section! Without further adieu, here are my picks for champ and chump from this past weekend.

 

Champ: Jason Day

Won the BMW Championship on Sunday, becoming the #1 ranked player in the world.

Jason Day has been killing it recently.

 

About a month ago, I wrote a piece about how golf was in great hands with a young star like Jordan Spieth. In the article, I gave just a small nod to Jason Day as well by saying he also appeared to be ready for stardom, but apparently that compliment didn’t do him justice because since then, Day has been the one to take over the PGA Tour. By winning this past weekend’s event, Day has now won 4 out of his last 6 tournaments and is within striking distance this weekend to take home another prize. The winner of the Tour Championship this weekend ultimately could also decide the PGA Player of the Year award, an award that is likely up for grabs between Spieth and Day.

 

Honorable Mention:

Chicago Cub Starter Jake Arrieta- First pitcher in MLB to reach 20 wins this season. 2015 stats- 20-6, 1.88 ERA, 0.90 WHIP

LSU Running Back Leonard Fournette- Heisman hopeful ran for 228 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 45-21 thumping of Auburn.

Our very own Treasure Gutierrez- Perhaps less knowledgable than some of us here at ScoreBoredSports when it comes to football, but comes out and wins the week in NFL Staff Picks, going 9-7 here at the site, making the rest of us look like the Chumps.

 

 

Chump: DeMarco Murray

By far the coolest thing DeMarco has done this season.

 

DeMarco Murray was the catalyst behind the Cowboy’s season last year, rushing for over 1,800 yards. As he went, so did the rest of the offense. This past off-season, Murray decided to sign with the division rival Philadelphia Eagles and was expected to put up similar numbers in Chip Kelly’s high-powered offense. Through two games however, that has not been the case at all, as Murray was completely shut down against his former team. Murray finished with 2 just yards rushing and has just 11 yards for the season on 21 carries. How bad is his start to the 2015 season? Well, consider this, while it’s only been a couple games, last year Murray rushed for almost 2,000 yards, at this rate this season, he is projected to finish with just 88 yards.  Philadelphia is off to an 0-2 start and while Murray isn’t their only problem, averaging 0.5 yards per carry is definitely isn’t helping.

 

Dishonorable Mention:

NFL Survivor Pools- For thousands of leagues, (mine included) week 2 busted many survivor pools this past week. Upsets like Tampa over New Orleans, Oakland beating Baltimore and Jacksonville shocking Miami eliminated a lot of us before we even saw it coming. Damn you Drew Brees!

Ndamukong Suh- This is perhaps unfair because it’s somewhat speculation, but the guy makes the headlines for the wrong reasons seemingly every week. The latest being some reports that Suh “freelances” plays on defense, ignoring his assignment for the plays that are called.

Jamaal Charles- He put up good stats against Denver on Thursday night, but had two critical fumbles. The last one returned 21 yards for the game winning touchdown with 27 seconds left.

 

 


Roger Pretzel’s Review ‘n Brew: NFL Week 2

Written by :
Published on : September 24, 2015

 

 

In this little corner Roger Pretzel will review his favorite play of the week along with a thoughtful review of what beverage he was imbibing at the time.

 

 

Week 2: Chris Conte Picks-off Bad Brees Throw, Then Hands-off For Big Gain

Link for video: HERE

Verner gets some extra yards after the interception.

 

My heart breaks for Drew, but this play action toss had bad ball written all over it and was unsurprisingly picked off by Chris Conte in double coverage. The strong safety is quickly wrapped up around the ankles but gets great looks from Alterraun Verner (good Star Wars name) who gets behind Conte for the handoff. Verner then breaks tackles and weaves up the field for a 20 plus yard gain after the INT. I love it when a defensive back or safety causes a turnover then takes that slow, winding trek to get more yards as the offensive players awkwardly try and tackle him. It’s like watching a regular down in super slow motion.

 

This is the Lovie Smith defense I’ve been waiting to see outta’ the Bucs.

 

Week 2: Extra Gold Lager

 

 photo coorsextragold_large_zpsrgfxljtn.png

 

Truth be told, my taste in beer runs more towards the craft side of things than the blue-collar stuff, so sue me already. However, it’s still a lot of fun if you’re traveling, especially to more remote or rural places in America, to take in all the local shitty canned lagers. They usually look really cool and esoteric because the labels weren’t cooked up three months ago by a twenty-person team of graphic designers hired to “disrupt” the beer can paradigm. My all time favorite is Stroh’s because it used to be made in Michigan and touted that it was “fire brewed,” which just sounds hilarious and dangerous. Some other cool options are Carling Black Label and the mother of them all: Hamm’s.

 

 photo Hamms-Hamms-Beer-Can-Safe_zpsvcatvnzs.jpg

 

Back when I lived in New York I would sometimes go to these hip lofts where hip artists would throw these hip benefit concerts. I remembered I always liked going to this one spot because they sold Extra Gold out of a trashcan full of ice for a buck a pop. It didn’t really matter what was playing, even if it was electroclash, because I knew the Extra Gold would be plentiful and cheap, and I could never seem to find it anywhere else. The beer itself is really sweet and smooth, almost like Genesee Cream Ale, but not quite as cloying. Hops? Forget it. Balance? Forget it? Malt? You bet’cha.

 

Yup, drinking one or eight of these is a great way to take the sting out of watching the Lions lose to the goddamned Vikings as poor Stafford is drilled into the ground over and over again…

 

Until next time, I’ll be crying in my beer.

 


Roger Pretzel’s Cloudy Crystal Ball: NFC South

Written by :
Published on : September 11, 2015

 

Ah the NFC South, the only division where you can make the playoffs without a winning record. It was a wacky scene last year, and I don’t see it getting any less wacky with a young Saints crew deep in reconstruction, a Falcons team with a potentially explosive offense (which they’ll need considering their defense), a tantalizingly improved Buccaneers gang, and a Panthers team flirting with a serious drop in production.

 

Listen up you weisenheimer, the ball’s got some crass opinions to share…

 

New Orleans Saints:
 photo neworleanssaints_zpsi3uqpgml.jpg

 

I’ve got a lot of affection for the Saints, but the team has changed so drastically in such a short amount of time that they’re nearly unrecognizable. The Junior Galette debacle was a costly embarrassment, and I’m not fully convinced that C.J. Spiller will be successful even if he seems like a great fit in Nola’s offensive system. It’s not all bad news of course. Having a young team means that some guys are going to inevitably crawl out of the woodwork and become big playmakers. Drew Brees still has some great options to throw to: Marques Colston will remain a solid end-zone threat and will be perfect for those third-and-short surprise pass plays. I also love how Brandin Cooks has emerged as Drew’s go-to receiver. I expect great things from him this season.

 

From the coaching perspective, I think Sean Peyton is one of the best in the league, even if that signature visor makes him look like a white-boy rave DJ from the Wisconsin suburbs of the late 90’s. This is also going to be a terribly important season for Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator. All the wild, free flowing, blonde hair isn’t going to help him keep his job if the Saints defense crumbles under injuries and inexperience.

 

The crystal ball says:

Rebuilding. Rebuilding. Rebuilding. Even if a passel of these young players emerge as studs, it’s still going to take a bit of work getting everyone on the same page. Jimmy Graham’s loss is definitely going to hurt, as is the absence of some of the defensive vets (due to injury), like Jairus Byrd. The Saints don’t make the playoffs this year, but Rob Ryan keeps his job and lives to fight another day.

 

Atlanta Falcons:
 photo atlantafalcons_zpsnhsgpfyx.jpg

 

Deflategate was an interesting litmus test for a league that sometimes struggles with its successes in the face of scandal. I was a little shocked that more attention wasn’t paid to the story of the Atlanta Falcons pumping extra volume into their arena to mess with the other team. In my mind this is way more egregious than the PSI of a football in terms of actual game outcome, so I’m quite comfortable labeling the Falcons as cheaters right from the get-go.

 

What happened to Atlanta anyway? Seems like just a couple years ago they were poised to make a serious Super Bowl run. Certainly a decaying running game and the retirement of Tony Gonzalez were big factors, but this is also a team that’s had some defensive deficiencies for some time now. Maybe that changes with Vic Beasley starting the season as a rookie DE, but I’m not holding my breath. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are definitely going to create some offensive fireworks together along with Roddy White thrown in for good measure, but like many other middling teams, there’s only so much you can hope for with this current group.

 

The crystal ball says:

Dan Quinn is coming into a tough situation as a first time head coach, and while I respect his WWE wrestler look, I don’t think we can expect a whole lot outta Hotlanta this season. On the plus side, it’s a very weak division with a once dominant Saints team regrouping. So the Falcons have a shot at doing well within the NFC South, but personally, I still like the Panthers for the division, making a wild card slot highly unlikely for the dirty birds. We’re going to see plenty of beautiful highlights from Matt Ryan and company in game recaps next to losing scores.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
 photo tampabaybuccaneers_zpsduqwerej.jpg

 

Lovie Smith is not to be trifled with even if he does have a habit of making willfully bad decisions and betting on the wrong horse. I like his reworking of the Bucs and with Jameis Winston we might finally have a team on our hands. Vincent Jackson is a mammoth-sized receiver, and the perfect type of guy for a talented young QB to pitch to. There is this nagging sense however that Mike Glennon wasn’t exactly the worst QB ever, so really how much better can Jameis Winston make this team?

 

As far as Winston is concerned, he could be golden in the NFL as long as he can keep his off-field extracurriculars in check. We’ve seen plenty of dudes who are prone to bad behavior wreck themselves in the NFL. Hell, guys who aren’t prone to bad behavior land in hot water too. The Winston pick was a hopeful gamble and I hope he keeps it together long enough to play. On the other side of the ball, Tampa Bay does have a pretty solid defense despite what last year’s stats might suggest. That D is only going to get better with the addition of George Johnson who had a great last season with the Lions. Like the Falcons, this is another club that has problems with the run game, but I’m not totally ready to give up on Doug Martin. Sure, he’s not going to light up your fantasy scoreboard, but I think the muscle hamster (worst nickname ever) can provide an adequate run game to bolster Winston’s arm.

 

The crystal ball says:

It’s so tempting to imagine the Buccaneers popping off. I do think they make some huge strides. Winston will behave, at least for his rookie year, but watch out for the offseason and the following one. I see steady improvement all around as Lovie Smith gets his hooks deeper in the team and Winston settles in. At first the crystal ball was telling me that the Bucs had a good chance to make the playoffs but then she admitted that she had been drinking too much white zin the night before. The Bucs have a good shot at a .500 season, and at this point, that’s almost as good as making the playoffs.

 

Carolina Panthers:
 photo caronlianpanthers_zps1ptd7kr7.jpg

 

No Kelvin Benjamin. Yeah, Aaron Rodgers can survive without Jordy Nelson, no sweat, but Cam Newton is going to have a really hard time without his number one receiver. Greg Olson can only catch so many; and how much can really be expected from Ted Ginn Jr. and Stephen Hill? There’s a lot of talk about the Panthers running the ball more, but if they don’t throw it enough that will prevent Cam from running, which is arguably his greatest asset. Look, Superman ain’t exactly known for his arm accuracy. I think Jonathan Stewart has some promise in the backfield, old as he is, and let’s not forget that Carolina has a strong defense. I can’t pronounce the dude’s name right but I can’t wait to see some of those big tackles Luke Kuechly is bound to make. Say it with me now… “Keek-Ly.”

 

He obviously doesn’t see it this way but I think this will be a great chance for Ron Rivera to show off his chops as head coach. “Riverboat Ron” is working in a division that will be up for grabs all season, and will likely be emboldened to make some risky player decisions based on that. He’s shown in the past that he has the balls to go for it on fourth and short, and he’s going to need all that chutzpah with a diminished offense and a quarterback just starting to show signs of decline.

 

The crystal ball says:

This is Carolina’s division to lose. The Falcons will do well statistically but aren’t a major contender. The Saints are sidelined in rebuilding, and the Bucs might just be nipping at their heels. My sweetly murky crystal ball still sees Carolina as the strongest group in the bunch mostly thanks to a stout defensive backbone and an offense that’s not afraid to be unorthodox. I think they make the playoffs and are once again promptly eliminated in the first round.

 

 


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