Detroit Lions vs Los Angeles Rams: My Kids Are Fighting

Written by :
Published on : October 15, 2016

 

I’m a life long Detroit Lions fan. No matter how much it hurts. I just can’t stay away. I know it’s bad for me, it ruins most Sundays but I love the stupid team. I moved to Los Angeles almost ten years ago and the Rams just relocated back to town. My love of football told me I could like two teams so I decided to adopt the Rams as my second football child.

 

So far, this hasn’t been a problem but the Los Angeles Rams (3-2) travel to the Detroit Lions (2-3) this weekend for a game both franchises need to win. Everyone is still in the playoff hunt (for now) and victories over conference opponents is huge when it comes to wild card standing at the end of the season. This may seem like an non-issue to some who support hometown over anything but the Rams are my way out of a bad relationship. This could be the perfect moment to break it off with the Lions and finally start fresh. Oh, what to do?

 

 

So far the teams have been weird opposites. Rams lost week 1 while the Lions won. They each changed directions with LA winning three in a row for a 3-1 record. While the Lions dropped winnable games to the Titans, Packers and Bears for a 1-3 mark. Week 5 saw another reversal where Detroit edged out Philly, and Los Angeles fell to Buffalo. What will happen Sunday? Are the Lions still trending up? Will the Rams right the ship? I feel like no matter who I pick I’m going to lose.

 

The Los Angeles Rams have a solid defense but the real threat is them running the ball with Todd Gurley. The RB could spell disaster for a Lions unit that has had trouble getting off the field and keeping folks out of the end zone all year. On the flip side, Rams may not be able to stop Stafford and company from racking up so many points that LA has to abandon the ground attack and force the ball down field.

 

 

My football brain says the Lions come out fast (again) at home after a big win and maybe play enough of a full game for a decently sound victory. My heart always wants the Honolulu Blue and Silver to win but it’s hard to pick them each week. I can also see flashes of how it could all burn down. I dare not even say my negative predictions aloud in case they come true and haunt me.

 

I’m trying to love the Rams. They are my new thing but the Lions are my blood. An LA win will be great for the organization as they grow in their new (old) market but I don’t think I can celebrate any part of that. Loyalty is a funny thing and you don’t get to choose family.

 

Sophie’s (almost) choice.

 

 


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.

 

 


Review of HBO’s 2016 Hard Knocks

Written by :
Published on : September 7, 2016

 

 

The Los Angeles Rams are the subject of this season of HBO’s Hard Knocks. A superiorly produced documentary series partnered with NFL Films that shows an exclusive behind the scenes look at training camp. All the highs and lows. It’s excellent and helps get me get pumped for the new NFL year. The Rams were a solid choice to focus on because this is their first season back to L.A. after relocating from St Louis. A team coming back to it’s old town is just a great story. Just like Alex said.

 

After watching all five episodes, there are some clear trends that shine through. Let’s get the most obvious thing out of the way now. There’s tons of swearing. Like fucking tons. This is why Hard Knocks is on HBO, they are the only ones that can air what these guys actually say. And it’s a lot of not-safe-for-work shit but that’s how pro football is. It can be a little shocking, even for me, who curses like a mother fucking sailor. So be warned. Earmuffs.

 

 

After the crazy swearing, the next standout is that Jeff Fisher and his staff are total dicks. But especially Jeff. Every time he talks I just hate him more. He speaks down to everyone and acts like such hot shit. I hate his hair cut but begrudgingly respect his mustache. For a coach with a career record of 170-156-1 who hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2008, he sure walks around training camp with some Hall of Fame swagger. Fake it till you make it, I guess. To be fair, he seems to be genuine when he cuts players from the team but everything else still applies.

 

In episode three, Mike Singletary makes a visit. He is awesome. Super intense but completely purposeful. You can tell why he was a great player. His tenacity is clear as day. That’s how you are supposed to coach.

 

Rookie QB and first overall pick in the 2016 draft, Jared Goff, looks to have a solid arm but the Cal product is kind of a dummy. In one episode, it is revealed that Goff doesn’t know what direction the sun rises and sets. That’s insane. It’s not like the sun is some regional thing. Goff is currently second in the depth chart behind Case Keenum. Maybe the rook will take over at some point but it will be because of his play making, not his brains.

 

Speaking of smarts. Defensive End, Will Hayes, doesn’t believe dinosaurs existed. Even when confronted with fossils and dinosaur bones. It all goes down in episode four when Hayes visits super fun looking museum called Dino Quest.

 

 

Todd Gurley likes to talk. The running back phenom is entering his sophomore season and is looking to build off his breakout performance last year. I knew the dude can ball but man, does he like to talk trash. It’s awesome. His mouth has a motor just like his legs. Gurley doesn’t even need to be on the field. He is easily the most exciting character the franchise has. As both a player and a personality.

 

Other great highlights include the big brawl in practice that HBO captures in beautiful slow-mo. Some of guys drive a golf cart to the In-N-Out drive thru. The spelling bee. And the heart break of the last round of cuts in episode five.

 

Hard Knocks kicked butt like it always does. It did its job. It got me all amped for the start of real NFL games. As a team, Los Angeles, possess some nice pieces. Beyond Gurley, they have offensive weapons in Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt, plus the defense is loaded with studs like Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn and Alec Ogletree. The NFC West is a pretty tough division so I don’t expect the Rams to surpass either Seattle or Arizona but who knows. HBO makes me think anything is possible.

 

Sorry St. Louis.

 

 


Preseason Questions for all 32 NFL Teams

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Published on : August 17, 2016

 

 

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

 

AFC North

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

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

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

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

 

 

AFC East

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

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

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

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

 

AFC South

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

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

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

Texans – Is Brock Oswieler really the guy?

 

brock osweiler

 

AFC West

Broncos – Will Mark Sanchez butt-fumble in Denver?

Chiefs – How long will Jamaal Charles last?

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

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

 

NFC North

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

Packers – Is Eddie Lacy too fat?

Bears – Why is Jay Cutler still there?

Vikings – Can AP carry them to another division title?

 

 

NFC East

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

Giants – Is Eli Manning still good?

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

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

 

NFC South

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

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

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

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

 

 

NFC West

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Are you ready for some football?

 

 


LA Rams are just the kind of exciting story ‘Hard Knocks’ needs

Written by :
Published on : March 28, 2016

 

The newest season of HBO’s Hard Knocks will feature the LA Rams, and if you ask me, it’s just the kind of exciting storyline that the show desperately needs. Since its debut in 2001, the award winning series has given fans an inside look at NFL training camp. By following a different team every season, Hard Knocks gives those on the outside a chance to see what the life in the big leagues is like for players, coaches and their families.

 

While I personally enjoyed last season’s show, which covered the Houston Texans, I think it was more driven by some of the stronger personalities in the organization. The format of the show itself has gotten somewhat tired and with the absence of particularly compelling characters, it can be hard to watch (see Falcons in 2014). That’s why the Rams moving to LA this offseason is one of the best things that could happen.

 

 

The last time a NFL team moved cities was when the Houston Oilers moved to Tennessee (they later changed the name to the Titans) in 1997. We, as fans, have never had a chance to see what such a colossal undertaking entails. From all the players and coaching relocating their families, to the team needing to find new facilities, there’s an endless amount of fresh ideas for the new season of Hard Knocks that should prove for some very interesting television. Hopefully the stress and tension of the move leads to some exciting training camp fights. I can just see Nick Foles angrily tackling Case Keenum to the ground as he begins to fear for his job.

 

I’m not sure Jeff Fisher will be as entertaining as Bill O’Brien was last year but there will be a battle for the starting QB position which is always exciting. Fans will have a chance to get to know some absolutely electric players who they might not yet be that familiar with. Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald are the young, rising stars to keep your eyes on.

 

 

Hard Knocks can be kind of a crap shoot. I’ve seen some great seasons and some utterly boring ones. But this year should be a big hit no matter what. With the dynamic of a team moving to a new city there is something seriously wrong if this year isn’t entertaining from start to finish. If this one sucks then maybe it’s time to stop doing the show altogether.

 

I’ll always be a die hard Lions fan but being an LA resident means that I probably have some sort of stake in how the Rams do. This will be my first chance to meet the new team in town, they better not disappoint.

 

 

 


Pro Football’s Changing of the Guard

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Published on : March 12, 2016

 

The NFL lost some of it’s all time greats this offseason. A handful of Pro Football’s best players at their respective positions decided to walk away from the game. Some before their time, and some who had long and fruitful careers before deciding to hang up the cleats. Whether too soon or at the right time, the game of football, the NFL and the sports world in general will miss them.

 

Luckily for all of us, the game is in good hands. Those who decided to walk away this offseason will be passing the torch to the new generation of superstars, who will make sure that our Sunday afternoons are still full of joy and wonder. Let’s take a minute to reflect on the great players we are losing and see which players will help us forget about them.

 

intothesunset

 

 

Megatron shutting down

 

This is especially hard for me to process. Calvin Johnson is a future hall of famer, despite what some people might say. He played for nine seasons and for more than half of that period he was the undisputed best wide receiver in football. He consistently faced double and triple coverage and still caught almost everything thrown in his direction. I’ve never seen someone of his size have that kind of speed, agility and body control. You don’t earn the nickname Megatron for nothing and while I’m sad to see him go, the next big star wide receiver is nothing to sneeze at either.

 

I really think Antonio Brown is going to be the one to carry Calvin’s torch for years come. I’ve already thought that he is the best wideout in the league for a year or two now. He has a knack for making eye popping plays just like Megatron, and with LeVeon Bell’s rash of recent injuries, I see him as the most important part of that Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense. He’s lucky to have had the same quarterback for his entire career and their chemistry is something to behold. If I were a Steelers fan it might even be enough to feel better about Calvin Johnson’s early retirement, but at least I’ll still get to see someone making unbelievable catches every week.

 

 

The Sheriff has turned in his badge

 

I think we all knew that Peyton Manning was going to retire after he and his Broncos won Super Bowl 50. It shouldn’t be surprising, especially when you consider that he wasn’t exactly propelling his team to victory in that game, or the playoffs for that matter. It was the Broncos’ defense that was the driving force behind that championship run and anyone with cursory knowledge of the game could tell that Manning was struggling out there. Like Megatron, injuries had begun to wear away his ability to stay on the field for a full season, but unlike Megatron, those injuries had also begun to take a huge toll on his ability to make plays. For most of the last two decades he was the best QB in the league but it is now evident that his arm can’t keep up with his beautiful football mind. There’s not a more perfect time to walk away and that’s exactly what he did, but don’t fret, the game is in good hands.

 

It’s kind of fitting that Peyton would be handing the torch off to Cam Newton, the losing QB of Super Bowl 50. Cam gets a lot of criticism from people because of his attitude or the way he carried himself after losing the big game, but you can’t deny this kid’s talent. It took me a little while to come around, but now that he has fully developed his pocket passing, it’s clear that he isn’t going anywhere and we should expect him to be one of the best quarterbacks in football for years to come. Last year he had 35 passing touchdowns to go along with 10 on the ground, and only had 10 interceptions. Expect to see him in a few more Super Bowls because he is finally putting it all together and that should be scary for defenses around the league.

 

 

Charles Woodson’s next phase

 

Man, what a career this dude has had. He was the first and only defensive player to ever win the Heisman Trophy and won a National Championship with the Michigan Wolverines that same year in college (1997). In the NFL, he won AP Defensive Rookie of the year (1998), Defensive Player of the Year (2009), was selected to the Pro Bowl nine times, and won Super Bowl XLV with the Packers. He literally has nothing left to accomplish, as a player at least… I think the next phase of this amazing player’s life should be a foray into coaching. With few years as an assistant he can eventually ascend the ranks and become a head coach. First in college, where he obviously wins the College Football Playoff, then into the NFL where he wins a Super Bowl. After that he will transcend his earthly vessel and rise to the heavens as the greatest soul ever to participate in the sport of football, on any level. They’ll probably rename the Lombardi trophy after him. But until then, let’s see who will be filling the void that Chuck is leaving.

 

There were quite a few different players that I had to choose from here but I decided that Chuck Woodson would be handing his torch off to Arizona Cardinals defensive back, Tyrann Mathieu. I put him at the top of the defensive back totem poll because of his knack for making big plays and his ability to play all over the field. In the Cardinals aggressive, hybrid style defense, he is asked to play both cornerback and safety and he excels no matter where he’s at. He can play the run, he can rush the passer, he can play man, he can play zone. There’s really nothing that he can’t do in that defense, or any defense for that matter. There might be some defensive backs who are slightly better in coverage but there’s none that can to the variety of things that he can. It’s a shame that he tore his ACL in week 15 last year and missed the Cardinals’ playoff run because he could have been a difference maker. But he’s only 23 years old and will be making a difference for many years to come.

 

 

So long, Beast Mode

 

Oh Beast Mode, the NFL is really going to miss you, but not as much as I will. Marshawn Lynch was always a unique personality but just as unique was the talent he displayed out there on the football field. Fellow SBS sage, Roger Pretzel, talks a little more about his demeanor here, but I’m here to reminisce about his ability to run through an entire defense and leave them in his dust. I’ve never seen someone get swallowed up by tacklers only to come out on the other end of the pile and keep running the way that he did. He won’t go down as the best running back ever, but if you ask me, he’s the best tackle breaker ever to carry the rock. Fans in Seattle will be left wanting more from their now departed running back but at least NFL fans as a whole will have a new back to look forward to.

 

When the Rams, who at that point were still in St Louis, drafted Todd Gurley with the 10th overall pick in last year’s draft, I was both surprised and relieved. Surprised because he was still coming off of an ACL tear that was going to make him miss at least some of his rookie season, and relieved that he didn’t fall to the Lions. I was scared that they would jump on the chance to draft him because of his high level of potential despite recovering from such a serious injury. I was an idiot because I now realize that my team, and every other team in the league, would be very lucky to have this guy. He won the offensive rookie of the year award and was selected to the Pro Bowl in his first season with the Rams. It’s obvious that this kid is going places. I can easily see him being the best running back in football next year and beyond.

 

newdawn

 

As the sun sets on one group of legends, the dawn of a new age of NFL superstars is upon us. While there’s nothing wrong with remembering all of the good times that these now-retired legends brought us, we shouldn’t be sad. Life goes on, and with the talent that these young badasses have, it won’t be long before we are forget all about those old fogies. So pour out a little liquor for guys like Megatron and Beast Mode and get over it, because next season will be here soon and then it’ll be time to move on and enjoy some highlights from the new kids on the block.

 

 


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

Written by :
Published on : March 3, 2016

 

 

 

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

 

1. Adrian Peterson wins the rushing title

Result: CORRECT

 

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

 

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

Result: WRONG

 

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

 

3. Ray Rice will be back in the NFL

Result: WRONG

 

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

 

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

Result: WRONG-ish 

 

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

 

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

Result: WRONG

 

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

 

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

Result: CORRECT

 

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

 

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

Result: CORRECT

 

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

 

8. Peyton Manning will retire following the 2015 season

Result: To be determined…

 

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

 

9. Aaron Rodgers will win MVP, again

Result: WRONG

 

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

 

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

Result: WRONG

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 


Champ and Chump: Week 12

Written by :
Published on : December 3, 2015

 

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

 

Champ: Matt Hasselbeck

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

The Ageless Wonder, Matt Hasselbeck.

 

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

 

Honorable Mention:

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

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

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

 

 

Chump: The Cleveland Browns

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

 

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

 

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

 

Dishonorable Mention:

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

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

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

 

 


2015 College Football Predictions

Written by :
Published on : September 2, 2015

 

 

The 2015 college football season gets underway this week, headlined by some marquee matchups right off the bat. Last year’s football season was one of the all time best, helped by a new college football playoff system that removed a lot of the headaches created by the former BCS system. This year, I expect another action packed, hard hitting season that won’t disappoint. Here’s a quick look at how I expect the Power 5 Conferences to unfold and what teams/players may be lifting some hardware come January.

 

ACC

Paul Johnson and his triple option could surprise some people in the ACC this season.

 

The ACC has belonged to Florida State the last couple years, who lost just one game over the past two seasons. However, with Jameis Winston now in the NFL, the conference is up for grabs. Former Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson has been named the starter in Tallahassee. He is very talented and brings valuable experience, he also is very turnover prone. I think Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is the best QB in the conference, and I look for him to lead Clemson over visiting Florida State in a pivotal game that will ultimately decide the Atlantic Division. In the Coastal Division, Georgia Tech looks to be a step above the rest of the competition again. Paul Johnson’s success with the triple option has surprised many after he showcased it for six years at Navy. I think Johnson and the Yellow Jackets get over the hump this year, winning the ACC for the first time during his tenure.

 

Atlantic Division Winner:  Clemson

Coastal Division Winner: Georgia Tech

Conference Champ: Georgia Tech

 

BIG 12

Look for Trevone Boykin to lead TCU to the conference title.

 

Baylor or TCU. Might as well flip a coin in the Big 12 again this year. Baylor has won the Big 12 the last two seasons, but comes in ranked below TCU heading into this year. I think the conference champion will be decided when these two meet on the gridiron in late November. Last year, Baylor erased a 21-point deficit to stun TCU on the road, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of the Horned Frogs. This year, I think revenge will be served as Heisman hopeful Trevone Boykin leads TCU to a win vs the Bears and ultimately, a conference title.

 

Conference Champ: TCU

 

BIG 10

As long as they stay focused, Ohio State should roll through the BIG 10.

 

Last year, Ohio State wasn’t given much of a chance after news broke that Braxton Miller would miss the entire season due to a shoulder injury. We all know what happened after that, as the Buckeyes surprised everyone (multiple times) along the way to a national title. This season, Ohio State again looks unbeatable. By returning all three quarterbacks (though Braxton Miller has switched to wide receiver) and running back Ezekiel Elliott, they have Big 10 defenses getting ready to wave the white flag. It will be very interesting to see how Ohio State handles the pressure. Last year, while they of course won the national title, they did it without really ever having the target on their backs. This year, much like Kentucky in basketball, every team will be gunning for them. Ohio State will have to be mindful of that and make sure not to overlook anyone. The other big news in the conference is Michigan hiring Jim Harbaugh as head coach. This was the biggest hire of the year without a doubt. Harbaugh will surely bring the glory days back to Michigan, but with both of the Wolverines rivals (Ohio State and Michigan State) having some of the more successful years in their programs history it won’t be easy. In the West division, (formerly the Leaders division) Wisconsin has enjoyed a lot of recent success, making it to three of the four conference championship games thus far. Melvin Gordon heading to the NFL is a huge loss though, and road trips to Nebraska and Minnesota this season will prove to be too much. I see the Golden Gophers, led by Jerry Kill, getting the upset and winning the division this year.

 

East Division Winner: Ohio State

West Division Winner: Minnesota

Conference Champ: Ohio State

 

PAC 12

The Ducks will remain on the top of the PAC 12 this year.

 

The PAC 12 was the hardest conference to predict for me, and I feel the conference is wide open. In the North, I see it as a two team race with Oregon and Stanford, but the South has as many as four teams vying for a place in the Conference Championship game. At Oregon, Marcus Mariota finally left after an incredible career, but the cupboard is anything but bare in Eugene. Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams Jr takes over at quarterback, and the Ducks are loaded as usual with speed and athleticism at running back and wide receiver. Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan returns for his fourth season, and as always, a stingy defense gives the Cardinals a fighting chance in the division. On the other side of the conference, USC, Arizona St, UCLA and Arizona all will be contending for the division. I think quarterback play will be the difference, and USC’s Cody Kessler has the most experience of the group. Last year, Kessler threw for 39 touchdowns and wasn’t really talked about too much. This year I think he becomes a household name, leading the Trojans to the Conference Championship game.

 

North Division Winner: Oregon

South Division Winner: USC

Conference Champ: Oregon

 

SEC

Saban and Co aren’t headed anywhere just yet.

 

After winning the National Championship seven straight times, the SEC has now gone two consecutive years without a National Title. Last year, the SEC West showcased some of the most talented teams in all of football, giving us multiple top-25 matchups every week. This year, the division should again be strong, but not as talented top to bottom. I think the battle for the Iron Bowl will be a pivotal game again in Alabama, as the Crimson Tide visit the Auburn Tigers late in November. For both Alabama and Auburn, replacing their starting quarterback, leading wide receiver and arguably top running back all in the same season seems a bit overwhelming. Yet both teams, and the Crimson Tide especially, always seem to have an All-American waiting in the wings. I give the slight edge to Alabama. In the SEC East, Georgia lost Todd Gurley to the NFL but I love what I see in his replacement Nick Chubb. After an outstanding breakout campaign as a Freshman, Chubb has the backfield to himself and has a realistic chance at 2,000+ yards and getting the Bulldogs to the SEC Championship game.

 

SEC East Winner: Georgia

SEC West Winner: Alabama

Conference Champ: Alabama

 

 

Heisman Trophy Candidates

Keep an eye on Deshaun Watson as he challenges for the Heisman this year.
  1. Any Ohio State Quarterback
  2. Ezekiel Elliott- RB- Ohio State
  3. Trevone Boykin- QB- TCU
  4. Cody Kessler- QB- USC
  5. Deshaun Watson- QB- Clemson

Playoff Teams

  1. Ohio State
  2. TCU
  3. Oregon
  4. Alabama

 

Heisman Trophy Winner

Ezekial Elliott will end up hoisting the greatest trophy in college football this year.

Ezekiel Elliott

 

National Champion

Much to the ire of their northern neighbors, the Buckeyes will repeat as champs this season.

 

Ohio State Buckeyes

 

 


Fantasy Football Saints, Sinners and Sleepers: RB Edition

Written by :
Published on : August 28, 2015

 

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

 

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

 

Saints

Look for Le’veon to be stiff arming and breaking ankles all season long.

 

Le’veon Bell- There’s that two game suspension to worry about but even that isn’t enough to knock the halo off of this saint’s head. He’s just that good. DeMarco Murray got all the hype last season but the they both averaged 4.7 yards per carry. Bell is going to be much fresher though, having rushed the ball 102 less times than the now Philadelphia Eagle, Murray. He is going to benefit considerably from defenses focusing on Antonio Brown, and he will make them pay for leaving the box to cover the deep part of the field. Look for him to keep improving and solidify his role as the best running back, fantasy or otherwise. The offense in Pittsburgh will be miraculous this season and it will be Saint Le’veon who leads them to the promised land and elevates all those around him.

 

Marshawn Lynch- After some speculation that he was thinking about hanging up his holy cleats, Saint Beastmode re-upped with the Seahawks this offseason. The heavens have smiled upon the Skittle loving running back in recent years and he has shown no signs of slowing down. He has started all 16 games in the last three seasons, and rushed for 13 touchdowns last year. There is a little bit of concern surrounding the interior of the Seahawks line due to the fact that they lost their starting center and left guard from last season, but don’t be surprised to see Marshawn making miracles happen all season long. The addition of big play threat, Jimmy Graham, will only make the offense scarier and leave opportunities for Lynch, as defenses try to defend against the deep ball.

 

Adrian Peterson- After the suspension and arrest last season for child abuse, it’s hard to consider Adrian Peterson a saint, but we must remember that this is solely related to this player’s performance in fantasy football. I condemn the acts of AP the person, but praise the deeds of AP the saintly football player. This man is going to come back and immediately put the fear of God into opposing defenses. Last time he had a chip on his shoulder (after he tore his ACL) he went on to rush for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdown. And this time its personal. Peterson believes that he was mistreated by both the league and the Vikings organization. He is hell bent on showing the world that he still belongs in the pantheon of great running backs, both past and present, and is most certainly still a number one running back in fantasy football.

 

Sinners

This duo is just bound to upset and disappoint Cowboys fans.

 

Darren McFadden- I don’t know how there are people out there who believe that this fantasy football sinner can still redeem himself. Sure, the Cowboys have a great offensive line, but not even they can cleanse this man. He just can’t play anymore, plain and simple. McFadden hasn’t averaged more than 3.4 yards per carry since 2011 and has had the second lowest yards per carry of any back over the last three seasons. The writing is on the wall for the former 1st round pick from Arkansas, and with him splitting reps with Joseph Randle this season there just isn’t any reason to believe that he can turn his career around and shake his status as a sinner.

 

Reggie Bush- As a Lions fan, I’ve had the chance to watch every game that Reggie Bush has appeared in over the last two seasons. In 2013 he was a breath of fresh air for the team up in Detroit, but in 2014 he couldn’t shake the injury bug and it seemed as if he had lost a little bit of the burst that made him a threat on the outside corner and in the passing game. The former Heisman Trophy winner and Super Bowl champion doesn’t seem to be durable enough to run between the tackles, as he did in Miami. With the deterioration of all of these skills, as well as his body, it’s hard to see how anyone could justify drafting this sinner. He has yet to appear in a preseason game which points to the questions about his durability, but either way, stay away from Mr Bush, lest he turn you into a sinner as well.

 

Isaiah Crowell- Last year people were high on the undrafted rookie out out of Alabama State after he rushed for 2 touchdowns in week 1, but this is an entire team of sinners that should be banished to the fires of Hades. The Browns are a mess and in the Cleveland’s two preseason losses, Crowell has rushed for a sinful 20 total yards. To be honest, I don’t see many players at any position on the Browns roster that are worth drafting this year in fantasy football. The only possible exception, Duke Johnson, has a good amount of hype (we’ll get to that later), but has yet to see any preseason action. Either way, this offense is not going to be very good, especially when you consider that defenses have nothing to fear in the passing game. Because of that, the run game is going to struggle even more with sinners like Crowell getting carries. I think there’s a strong chance he stays on the sideline until he can atone for his poor play.

 

Sleepers

Tre will be getting his groove on in the end zone a lot this season.

 

Tre Mason- All the hype in St Louis this season revolves around 1st round draft pick Todd Gurley, but former SEC Offensive Player of the Year and last year’s 3rd round draft pick, Tre Mason should not be forgotten. In 12 games last season he rushed for 4.3 yards per carry in an offense that ranked near the bottom of the league. If Gurley’s left knee isn’t ready to go by the beginning of the year, it’s easy to see Mason making his mark on the ground in St Louis and hanging onto a large share of the total carries for the Rams. He will probably be available in the later rounds of most drafts and will be a definite steal for anyone with the foresight to draft him. Plus his dad is Maseo from De La Soul, which is totally badass.

 

Ryan Matthews- Hopes for Philadelphia’s running game were high when they signed Ryan Matthews early in the offseason. Then they also went and signed DeMarco Murray, making the backfield very scary, while simultaneously turning Matthews into a bit of an afterthought. Make no mistake though, Matthews will see the field early and often come game time, and with Murray’s injury history, there’s a strong chance that Matthews starts a few games this year. He has averaged at least 4.3 yards per carry in four out of his five seasons as a pro and will benefit from the downhill running style that is typical in Kelly’s high flying offense. If he falls to you in mid-to-late rounds, you would do well to draft him.

 

Duke Johnson- I already talked about the young man out of Miami (Fl) when telling people to avoid the evil doer Isaiah Crowell in the Sinners section above. He was much talked about coming into April/May’s NFL Draft and to tell you the truth, I’m pretty surprised that he dropped all the way to the 3rd round. He averaged 6.7 yards per carry during his career with the Hurricanes, which is pretty damn impressive. With the running backs in front of him looking pretty awful during the preseason and two quarterbacks who have looked the same, odds are that the ball is going to be in the explosive running back’s hands more often than not. If he continues to fly under the radar, then you should grab him late.

 

 

 


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