NFL Turkey Day Priveiw 2016

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Published on : November 23, 2016

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

5:30 pm – Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

nfl-thanksgiving-madden-jpg

 

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

 

Nap time.

 

 


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?

 

 


Fantasy Football Draft Strategies

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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

 

 


Detroit Lions 2016 Win/Loss Predictions

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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!

 

 


NFL Quarterbacks who just got Paid

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Published on : March 20, 2016

 

 

Boy, oh boy, it’s a good time to be an NFL quarterback. It feels like almost every team is looking for a starter and is willing to pay handsomely for one. The apparent lack of quality arms has seen some teams shell out huge contracts for players who are mostly backups. And speaking of backups, you need one of those too. You can’t build a great team without at least preparing for the idea that your star QB may get hurt. Plan accordingly and that injury may not sink your playoff hopes.

 

Below are not the quarterback elite. That’s the whole thing about this. We understand when Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers gets a fat extension but some organizations are so desperate that they will sink their fortunes in someone a little less proven. Let’s take a look at some the big money deals that have been inked so far:

 

Case Keenum

 

The Los Angeles Rams got him for 1 year/$3.6 million. He is supposed to start. I don’t know much about him. I know I don’t want him on my team, holding the ball every play. Not a great beginning for the LA franchise. Maybe they can still go out and sign someone. What is Tim Tebow doing?

 

Sam Bradford

The Philadelphia Eagles gave Sam a 2 year/$35 million deal. With $22 million of it in guaranteed money, including a $11 million signing bonus. This guy has never played well or stayed healthy for a full season. But teams keeping thinking he can be the guy. Maybe he can. Probably not. He is becoming the new Matt Flynn.

 

Brock Osweiler

 

You know, Peyton’s backup. Oh yeah, the Houston Texans gave him a 4 year/$72 million contract with $37 million guaranteed. Part of that $37 is a $12 million signing bonus. Not bad for a guy who just won a Super Bowl ring for holding a clipboard. I’m being mean, Brock could become a great player. The only problem is we just don’t know yet but that contact says differently. For example, Joe Flacco, who has won the Super Bowl for his Baltimore Ravens just signed for 3 years/$66.4 million. Flacco is a proven commodity. Osweiler is not, even if he is 6’8”.

 

Mark Sanchez

With Peyton Manning retiring and Brock Osweiler moving to Houston, the Denver Broncos needed to do something. They picked up the phone, called Detroit and asked about Mathew Stafford. The Fords just laughed and hung up. So Denver got the next best thing: Mark Sanchez! I’m kidding. It’s an insult to Stafford that I mention him in the same breath as Sanchez. Both were drafted in first round of 2009. Matt 1st overall and Mark 5th and that’s where the similarities end. Denver acquired Sanchez through a trade with the Eagles for a draft pick. Last year Sanchez signed 2 year/$9 million deal. Denver will pay him $4.5 million this year. So Sanchez didn’t exactly just get paid but if he plays decently then another sizable contract is coming his way.

 

Kirk Cousins

 

Cousins played great in the second half of last season but Washington still wasn’t sold enough to give him a multi year deal. Instead, they slapped him with the franchise tag which will net Kirk around $19.7 million for the year. If he performs well in 2016, then he can expect a massive contact.

 

 

There are still quite a few teams that need quarterbacks. Browns, Niners and the Jets all come to mind. Will RGIII and Colin Kaepernick find new homes? Maybe Brett Farve will come out of retirement? Only time will tell. The only thing we know for sure is these signal callers are ballers with the checks they cash. And from the looks of it, the money train isn’t slowing down. Damn, is it too late to switch majors?

 

Cha-ching.

 

Contract info from spotrac.com


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.

 

 

 


The NFC Least

Written by :
Published on : December 27, 2015

 

 

Are you ready for another .500 division winner? Washington is now the the NFC East champ after beating the Eagles 38-24. Maybe an 8-8 Skins team can get the honor of getting destroyed by the Seahawks or Vikings as they host the wild card.

 

Currently, Washington is 8-7 with a 3-2 record in the division. Giants and Eagles both have 6 wins and Dallas brings up the rear at 4-10. Apparently, average is enough to secure a home field playoff game. This group gets coverage like no-other and I’m unfortunately adding to it. Or at minimum, trying to highlight that they shouldn’t always be featured on the big networks. No matter what. Below is a quick breakdown of the “powerhouse” NFC Least.

 

Dallas Cowboys

 

As a Dez Bryant fantasy owner, this year has been rough. I kept him on the bench while he got healthy, hoping him and Romo would tear up the second half of the season, just as many Dallas faithful prayed for. That never really worked out. Now, Kellen Moore, of Lions’ 3rd string QB fame, is starting under center. It’s a mess in Jerry World. Which college player with a checkered past will they draft next?

 

Philadelphia Eagles

 

In the 40-17 loss to the Cardinals, RB DeMarco Murray had only 2 attempts for 3 yards. That’s inexcusable. Philly is one of the most Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde teams we have. They either drop 40 or more often then not, get 40 dropped on them. Coach Chip Kelly may get pushed out of office. Everyone talks about the offense but it’s the defense that can’t stop anybody. Who cares how many plays you can run if you can’t tackle on the other side of the ball?

 

New York Giants

 

Even with WR Odell Beckham Jr playing amazing, this offense hasn’t been great. They are now out of the post-season hunt so OBJ’s suspension doesn’t really matter to anyone besides fantasy owners. Once again, we will hear whispers of coach Tom Coughlin maybe losing his job. Like we have heard for the last ten years. It should be fair to note that since Peyton is out, Eli should be more powerful. Kind of like a weird Highlander type situation. Eli absorbs all the Manning power. And if Peyton returns then Eli will drop off. Simple Archie-nomics. But even that magic can’t save the G-men now.

 

Washington Redskins

 

They aren’t great but…….DJax is back! Four TD’s in the last six games has added the spark this crew needs. They can kind of run the ball with either Alfred Morris or Matt Jones and their D has mostly held up. But QB Kirk Cousins is the reason this team still has life. He has limited his turnovers and started to build some nice chemistry with the likes of Reed, Garcon and Jackson. I don’t see this franchise making much of a run towards the Super Bowl but I don’t think anyone picked them to win the NFC East either. Also, they should change their name to something less offensive. Seriously.

Last question is, which wild card team is going to get the chance to beat the Skins? Because they will lose in the first round.

 

Please, prove me wrong.

 

 


Champ and Chump Week 7

Written by :
Published on : October 30, 2015

 

A great time to be alive my friends, a great time to be alive. A little something for everybody to enjoy sports-wise right now as we have the World Series going on, the NFL season is almost at its halfway point, college football is in high gear, hockey has been great thus far and now the NBA is underway. Hell, for guys like Antoine Poutine and me, the English Premier League is off to a very interesting start. This week, we honor a couple slingers of the football, say goodbye to a legend with the futbol and we keep on wishing that Greg Hardy would just go away.

The Champ and Chump of the Week ladies and gentleman…

 

Champ: Kirk Cousins

33-40, 317 yards, 4 TD’s (1 rushing) – Game winning TD pass with 24 seconds left

Cousins rushes for a TD in the second quarter of their wins over the Bucs.

 

The Washington Redskins trailed by 24 points in the 2nd quarter on Sunday, and the sports writers at the Washington Post were all but set to send in their articles for Monday morning’s print. A quarterback controversy was back, would RGIII get another shot? Is Colt McCoy going to be the signal caller next week? Staring a 2-5 start in the face, Cousins came out in the second half and took over, helping the ‘Skins outscore the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-6 for the rest of game. Now, at 3-4 and just a game out of first place in the NFC East, anything is possible. While I don’t see the Redskins winning the division, a big swing of momentum like this has been known to get a team on a roll, and make things more interesting than they otherwise would have been.

 

Honorable Mention:

Ryan Tannehill- Finished 18-19 for 282 yards and 4 touchdowns in a blowout win against the Houston Texans. Also, Tannehill broke the NFL record for consecutive completions going back to last week, with 25 straight.

Abby Wambach- After an incredible career, Abby announced her retirement from the US women’s team. The all time leading goals scorer in international competitions (male or female), went out on top after capturing the World Cup championship this past summer.

Montréal Canadiens- Started the season 9-0 while leading the NHL in goals scored and fewest goals against. Very impressive start as they look to bring Lord Stanley back for Canada for the first time since 1993.

 

 

Chump: The U

Lost 58-0 at home to Clemson this past Saturday.

They couldn’t have guessed just how bad this game would go.

 

As embarrassing as that score reads, I am not making the Hurricanes my chump so much for that particular game. Instead, it is for the sad state in which the program currently sits. Similar to what I said about Texas a couple weeks ago (though they beat rival Oklahoma the next week), this team is so far from its glory days that I don’t even know where they should start. I suppose you could say they have started with the firing of Al Golden, but when you’re a program facing NCAA sanctions, how much growth can any coach get from his guys. With postseason bans on the horizon, recruiting is going to take a big blow. Who wants to go to a school that has nothing to play for? Then the following year or two, because no real talent went there, they are so behind the 8-ball, talent wise, that when the post-season sanctions come off they don’t have a chance to match the skill level required to compete for championships. I always think parody is great for sports, but having the usual powerhouses relevant is just as important. A very interesting year it will be as USC, Miami, and potentially Texas all could be seeking new head coaches for next season.

 

Dishonorable Mention:

Ryan Mallett- After missing the team flight this past weekend to Miami, Mallett had to book his own flight. He also slept in and missed a practice during training camp. Today, Mallett finds himself without a team as the Texans cut him saying it’s time to move on.

Greg Hardy- A guy who could be in my “chump” category every week. It’s debatable whether this guy should even be allowed to play pro football, of course leave it to Jerry Jones to give him a chance. His sideline antics after the Cowboy’s special teams gave up a game-winning kick return was the icing on the cake to finally put Hardy on this list. Although calling him a chump is actually being kind.

Florida State- Who would have thought just a week after the Miracle in Ann Arbor we would have another ranked football team fall on a crazy, game-ending play? Kick Six Part 2. Florida State’s kicker Roberto Aguayo, possibly the nation’s top kicker, is about to attempt a field goal with 6 seconds left in a tied ball game and it’s blocked! Georgia Tech scoops up the ball and runs it for the touchdown to end the game.

 

 


Roger Pretzel’s Cloudy Crystal Ball: NFC East

Written by :
Published on : August 27, 2015

 

There is no other division in the NFL in which the specter of injury looms so heavily over every team. Dallas has its brilliant but weary O-line protecting a fragile veteran QB, Philadelphia has built a winning crew that can sustain injury up to a point, the Giants are looking to rebound after two seasons of a seriously depleted squad, and Washington has brought a curse upon itself for not changing its unfortunate and offensive image.

 

Sweet crystal ball: murky and jumbled though your whispers may be, illuminate our way!

 

Dallas Cowboys:

 photo dallascowboys_zpsl1ytzif4.jpg

 

There was a brief period of time where I didn’t totally hate the Cowboys. I moved away from general knee-jerk disdain and grew to recognize their brilliant offensive line. I also realized that Tony Romo is a solid, likable, and hardworking quarterback, and even thought that Jerry Jones’s desperate ramblings became amusing, endearing even. Then along came Dez Bryant. The dude is by far my least favorite NFL superstar. He’s the epitome of a diva and I hate his whininess towards referees, as well as his frequent fights with coaches and teammates. I will never deny that he is a fantastic talent, but as a human personality, I’m just kind of grossed out by his ego and sense of entitlement. He is Calvin Johnson’s evil twin, no doubt about it.

So here we are in 2015 and I think that Jerry Jones knows in his wizened coal-black heart that last year was the ‘boys best chance at making a run for the title in a long time, and the best chance they’ll get for quite a while. Romo is good for another couple of seasons as long as he stays healthy, but that surgically repaired back is one hell of a sword of Damocles hanging over the entire organization. That previously mentioned O-line is the key to keeping things regular, but even they’re starting to show signs of wear and tear. Should they falter, this will prove very problematic for Darren McFadden.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

The crystal ball likes Dez much more than I do, predicting a stellar season for a big time receiver in his prime. Romo will hold down the fort, thanks to that crucial offensive line that will suffer only minor injuries, and remain more or less intact through the season. Darren McFadden will show promise at first and then eventually disappoint. Dallas has a shot at the wildcard spot but she’s still a leaky boat holding herself above the surface in a division that is returning to its highly competitive ways.

 

New York Giants:

 photo newyorkgiants_zpsohv8rzx3.jpg

 

I think it’s pretty easy to get hyperbolic over New York’s potential this season, but I’m afraid that’s more from what’s expected of them than actual evidence. Sure, Eli’s too good to keep playing so poorly, and it’s easy to write off the last two seasons because of the mass of injuries sustained by Big Blue, but that’s also the lazy approach. Like many, when it comes to analyzing the Giants, I want to have my cake and eat it too. Yes, I think a healthier team will win more games, but I’m still dubious that this is a club that’s going to sweep back into the division.

I’m not particularly concerned about the stories surrounding Eli Manning’s contract, but regardless of what he purportedly wants, the fans and coaching staff need to see his ratio of INT’s to TD’s drop precipitously. He’s certainly proved it can go either way. I also didn’t like how Jason Pierre-Paul dealt with his team following that unfortunate sparkler accident. It looks like he’ll be returning to the Giants, and will play before the first half of the season is out, but his cagey statements from the hospital and seeming lack of interest to meet with the team’s officials had me seriously doubting his return to New York, or anywhere. At least JPP can rest assured that he won’t go down in history as the NY Giant guilty of the stupidest unnecessary injury of all time…

 

The crystal ball says:

 

Eli will bring his pick numbers down to below Andy Dalton levels, which will be considered a victory. There will be lots and lots of speculation as to whether or not Tom Coughlin keeps his job. He will, while chomping angrily on his gum the whole time. Jason Pierre-Paul will come back. He’ll do fine. Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz will be frustrated with the heavy coverage they receive from defenses that aren’t particularly scared of the run game. The Giants improve, making them a viable threat, but not as much as expected. THEN things will get crazy with Eli’s contract!

 

Washington Redskins:

 photo washingtonredskins_zpsvrcgzusi.jpg

 

It’s pretty obvious to me that the central cause of the Washington’s woes over the last few years have been due to a longstanding Native American curse brought on by owner Dan Snyder’s absolute refusal to change the franchise’s name and image in the face of good taste or common decency. RGIII is constantly nursing a bum knee or sitting concussed on the bench; relegated to selling sandwiches alongside a once obese pedophile. Now, Niles Paul and Junior Galette are out for the whole damn season. It doesn’t seem fair, and it shouldn’t be… Unless you remember that this team is named after a derogatory term coined during the genocide of an entire population. Feel free to write Dan Snyder a letter telling him how you feel.

Thanks to the curse, we’re left with an extremely weak offensive line supporting a glass-jawed QB. However, the defensive line is really interesting, and I think it’s the best thing the ‘skins have got going for them. There’s a good pass rush to be had there, and a good defense overall if the secondary can hold up. I don’t care if it’s Kirk Cousins or Colt McCoy, but either of these dudes will fare better than Griffin.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

More deserved suffering for a team with a shamefully behind-the-times character. RGIII will continue to fail and the Redskins will focus more on a mediocre ground game because of it. Fans can expect some joy through the defense, and some excitement when either of the backup QBs start airing it out to DeSean Jackson, the most electric offensive weapon this team has.

 

Philadelphia Eagles:

 photo philadelphiaeagles_zpsckjzuez0.jpg

 

Chip Kelly is the closest thing the NFL has to a mad scientist. He’s a singular coach in that his megalomaniacal vision for his club’s success is less predicated upon individual player performance and more so on the crazy scheme in his head. I mean that as a compliment. The Foles/Bradford trade wasn’t about Foles’ merits or deficiencies on the field; it was about Sam Bradford working better in Kelly’s vision.

So Bradford and Murray are going to be the experiment and the gamble. Both are players that fit with Chip Kelly’s Eagles (trademark registered), but both are also injury prone. Unlike other teams in the NFC East, Philadelphia has a deeper bench. Mark Sanchez works well in this offense and Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles can certainly help take some of the pressure off of Murray. All the meticulously planned and thought out offense in the world can’t cover a weak defense that ranked near the bottom of the league last season. If things looked as exciting for the Eagles on the other side of the ball then they would be a true Super Bowl contender.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

The ball likes the Eagles this year, and thinks they’re the frontrunner to win the division, thanks in part to a cushy schedule. The mad scientist has the offense that he wants and I think it’ll come through for him. The defense will improve incrementally but there’s going to be plenty of shootouts to keep Bradford’s throwing arm in shape. Finally, I’m proud of myself for having made it this far without making a single Tim Tebow joke.

 


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