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.

 

 


Overreaction: NFL Week 2

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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?

 

 


The Best NFL Touchdown Celebrations

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Published on : September 12, 2016

 

 

Your favorite NFL player has just punched their way past the pylons and into the end zone. Touchdown. Now comes one of the most entertaining moments of the game: what will the player do? Are they going to dance? Maybe mime some funny looking activity like giving birth? Or look for help from the fans or maybe a teammate? Who knows. But we all care. Certain athletes have signature moves like Cam Newton dabbin, Victor Cruz doing the Salsa or Newton impersonating Superman with his trademark shirt-rip. Wow, Cam has two signature moves. That’s great. Well, let’s really get into it. Here is my college thesis on NFL touchdown celebrations.

 

Cam_Newton_dab

 

The No Fun League has really cracked down on in-game celebrations of all kinds. Which is a mistake, but whatever. I won’t let that bum me out. Look, I’m doing my happy dance. But for background, the league will currently penalize a player for “excessive celebration” which the NFL rulebook defines as:

 

(d) Individual players involved in prolonged or excessive celebrations. Players are prohibited from engaging in any celebrations while on the ground. A celebration shall be deemed excessive or prolonged if a player continues to celebrate after a warning from an official.

(e) Two-or-more players engage in prolonged, excessive, premeditated, or choreographed celebrations.

(f) Possession or use of foreign or extraneous object(s) that are not part of the uniform during the game on the field or the sideline, or using the ball as a prop.

 

Why so serious? Anyway, let’s enjoy some of football’s best movers and shakers before they ban dancing and turn football into the town from Footloose.

 

The Ickey Shuffle

 

Ickey Woods’ little jig isn’t too complicated, but it’s fun to do and is super infectious. Just like a catchy pop song.

 

Big Joe Fauria’s Bye Bye Bye

 

This guy didn’t last too long in the league but his moves will last in my memory. Easily the best game of Fauria’s career, he recorded 3 receptions for 34 yards and 3 touchdowns. Plus he did a different celebrations each time. That’s not easy because maybe he had one move ready to go but there is no way he planned on three. His ode to NSYNC is still the best.

 

Jamal Anderson’s Dirty Bird

 

This is an all-time classic. If you don’t like this then I don’t know what to say to you. You probably hate pizza too.

 

Joe Horn’s cell phone stunt

 

What is this guy? A prop-comic? Believe it or not, this was groundbreaking in terms of end zone creativity. He is the Carrot Top of touchdown celebrations. Let’s get Joe on the horn and thank him for his contribution to the world of wacky stunts.

 

Terrell Owens

TO popcorn

 

Now we are getting to the real showboat champs. Get your popcorn ready because TO knew exactly what to do with his post-touchdown time, and he made for some of the most enjoyable moments to date. The best was back when Owens was a San Fransisco 49er and he ran to the center star on the 50 yard line (twice) after scores at Cowboy Stadium. There is a great recap of the event HERE. Terrell was bold and inventive with it and I love that.

 

Chad Johnson

All hail the king. My personal favorite. At one point while in college, I started writing down celebration ideas with the thought of contacting Mr. Ochocinco so I could pitch him my stuff. I got as far as reaching out to his agent. Needless to say we never worked together. He did fine without me. Remember his Riverdance? Or when he operated one of the broadcast cameras? That’s just one of many classics. Enjoy this weird video someone made highlighting his best.

 

 

The above guys can really cut a rug. No wonder NFL players do so well on Dancing with the Stars. Also, I didn’t mention things like spikes or dunks of the ball. Those are too simple so I excluded them from this piece. Sorry Gronk, practice your steps and maybe you can make it next time. And don’t even say Lambeau Leap to me. Lastly, there are some great touchdown dances in Any Given Sunday and BASEketball, if you haven’t seen them then do it. Did I miss your favorite? Leave it on my answering machine below.

 

Bust a move.

 

 


Fantasy Football Draft Strategies

Written by :
Published on : August 1, 2016

 

 

Thank God, football is coming back. And with it, comes the evil step brother known simply as fantasy. Many drafts are still weeks away but some crazy leagues do them at the start of training camp. So it’s not too early to start talking about it, even though my girlfriend would disagree. But for once, this isn’t about her. This is all about the fantasy football draft and how you should decide to pick players. I’m talking Winston Churchill war room level. The draft is one of the biggest determining factors to who wins the championship. Waiver wire is hugely important but if you select a top trio of QB, RB, WR and they all stay healthy and productive then your path to a trophy is much easier. The big question is, who do you take? And when?

 

If the draft scares you or you think this sounds like too much work then just set your team to auto-draft and sleep easy. We call these people “draft dodgers.” To be fair, I’ve had some pretty decent squads the few times I let the computer pick. My first team back in 2003 was auto drafted and I made the playoffs. Another year, I was hungover and a slept through the draft. Still made the playoffs. Damn, maybe the robots know more than me? Fuck that. I reject that theory. Let’s get to business.

 

1st pick

 

The old fantasy football draft rule was go running back, running back with your first two picks. This is still a viable route because the value of a solid RB is unmatched. Then we saw freak wide receivers and quarterbacks going in the top ten. Players like Aaron Rodgers and Calvin Johnson changed the game. These guys are fantasy studs. No question. But is it smart to use your first pick on a WR or a QB? I say no, because of the the drop off between the production of ball-carriers versus other positions is way out of balance.

 

That means a top QB may get 30 points in a week while a waiver QB may score 20. But when it comes to RB’s it will be a difference of 30 to 3. If you play in a 10+ team league then there just aren’t quality and consistent players available to add. You can find a serviceable QB while there will be zero starting RB’s. For example, last year, I used a combo of Kirk Cousins and Ryan Fitzpatrick (both claimed off the waiver wire) in the final weeks and playoffs. They equaled or out performed my highly drafted competition. I also won the championship. There will always be these type of finds.

 

So, your first pick should be a running back. You can never guess who will get hurt but try and draft someone with a decent o-line and hopefully, a short injury history.

 

2nd pick

 

With your second pick, go either a top pass-catcher (WR/TE) or another clear starting RB. If the back is in a timeshare situation then I go with the receiver who is most likely to either see higher volume and or lots of red zone targets.

 

Note: tight end is another role that has little middle class. Getting an every week starter is a blessing. One less slot to stress over. Just leave Gronk in the lineup until the bye.

 

3rd pick

So we have an elite running back, a big WR and we are back on the clock. I’d still go after a RB. There are lots of attractive QB’s and number two wideouts but they will mostly be there next round. Get that other bell cow now and then you can move to deep threats while everyone else is scrambling and buying high on guys who only see 10 carries a game.

 

4th round and beyond

So far we picked RB, WR, RB. Now get that TE. The top three names will be gone but there’s plenty talent left. If for some reason, all good the tight ends are drafted then grab another WR or your favorite of the remaining QB’s. These are the suggestions for next round anyways. After rounds 4 or 5, it’s hard to recommend position picks, mainly because we don’t know what the board will look like. The draft is all about finding value.

 

The one stat that would best explain this concept is the baseball metric WAR (Wins Above Replacement). WAR relates to a players performance against the average athlete. Keep that idea in mind when you are picking. Where are you finding the best values? And don’t fall into trends. If WR’s are going like hot cakes, don’t sell out your plan just to not be left out. Because after all those teams have receivers, they are going to start taking the other things you need. Stick to your guns.

 

The double down and handcuffing

 

No, I’m not talking about a wild weekend in Las Vegas, I mean the double down aka the double dip, which is drafting players on the same team. Like Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. So when Ben tosses a TD to Antonio, you get points from both players for one touchdown. It’s nice when it can happen but I try and not count on it. Don’t move up/change your draft plan just for a double down. The NFL season is crazy. Tons will get hurt, traded, arrested. Who knows. Diversity is key to a deep squad. Don’t bet the farm on Tony Romo playing all year with Dez Bryant.

 

Handcuffing is when you draft the backup to a popular player. Just in case they get injured. I like this for one skill player per roster. Find that guy you would be screwed without and invest in their nightmare. Look, if your first round pick goes down and someone else scoops the backup then your team lost a huge asset and you handed it to your jerk friend. At least this way, no other franchise gains because of your loss.

 

Wrap up

Take backs early and often, then top pass catchers and more backs. Wait on the QB and stock up on depth. Standard formats see lineups with two RB and two WR with one TE and a FLEX (can be any RB, WR, TE) so it makes sense to address the biggest need. Yes to hand cuffing but no to the double down. And always beware of the celebrity trap. It tricks us, makes us take Russell Wilson too early or draft a defense in the 6th round. Stay strong and you can get through this.

 

Champs

 

 


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