Super Bowl 52 Patriots vs. Eagles

Two weeks ago the Eagles mauled the Vikings as an underdog and paved their way to the Super Bowl. Their 38-7 win over the Vikings changed the narrative for the next two weeks. The Super Bowl betting line opened up at Patriots -5.5 and is currently down to -4.5. There have been multiple million dollar bets placed in Vegas on the Eagles to win outright or lose by less than 4.5 points. RJ Bell the public face of the Vegas sports books have come out and said that the majority of bets are placed on the Eagles. Everyone is getting caught up by that NFC Championship game where Nick Foles looked like a legitimate quarterback.

The analysis points out that the Eagles are going to be able to get pressure on Tom Brady without sending extra men because of the talent they have on the defensive line. Their offensive line rates well and they are an overall well rounded team. They were excellent at the QB position until Carson Wentz was hurt and Foles has played just well enough to win, until the NFC Championship where he was excellent. Their weakness has been in playing against athletic tight ends, struggling against the Chiefs’ Travis Kelce. The Eagles have won a lot of games this year by big margins. They aren’t as tested in close matchups and how they play from behind or in high pressure situations could be key.

The Patriots have the greatest coach and quarterback tandem of all time. They are well coached and execute better than anyone. People point out that the Eagles have a better overall roster, but Belichick and Brady have built up so much trust over the last 18 years that they are the favorites. Generally picking the team with the best quarterback isn’t a terrible choice, but this postseason has been an anomaly. Brady had to beat Mariota and Bortles to get to the Super Bowl. Brees, Ryan, Roethlisberger have all been eliminated and great defenses have won games. Even Brady had to have an amazing comeback to beat the Jaguars. The Patriots have been terrible in giving up yards, but good at keeping teams from scoring points. The Patriots situational defense will be key to keeping the Eagles to field goals and not touchdowns.

So how do you beat the Patriots? Hit Tom Brady with a normal 4 man pass rush. It has been repeated so many times it is now cliche. That scheme seems to work against all quarterbacks. If you hit the quarterback like Snoop Dogg hits the hippie lettuce you are going to minimize his impact on the game and give yourself a chance to win. Brady has learned from those Super Bowl losses and can handle that pressure. He gets rid of the ball quicker and has such excellent timing with his receivers he can minimize the damage of an effective pass rush and that is why I am taking the Pats to win by more than 4.5 points. Nick Foles won’t be able to repeat his performance against the Vikings, he’ll remember he is a back up quarterback and play like one. Brady and Belichick get their 6th Super Bowl trophy together and Brady joins Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth as the greatest of the greats.

Eagles Vs. Vikings

I am taking the Eagles +3. The Vikings are not going to be able to come off that emotional rollercoaster from last week and perform this week. They are playing on the road and that Eagles defense held the Falcons to 10 points, they should be able to hold Keenum to as little. My picks have been terrible the last two weeks, so maybe pick opposite.

Sunday Divisionals

Steelers vs. Jaguars

To me this is simple. Blake Bortles is terrible. Roethlisberger is really good. I am taking the Steelerrs to win and to cover the 7 point spread.

Saints Vs. Vikings

Last week this was a no brainer, taking the Saints was easy. I haven’t watched many Vikings games and have felt they were overrated playing as easy schedule. This week though, I have heard a lot about how good their defense is and it has made me scared. The reminder of how different the Saints play on the road makes me hesitant, but I keep coming back to Brees vs. Keenum.

In this era of offensive football, I am sticking with Brees. The Saints defense isn’t terrible, but good enough. I trust Brees offense against a good defense more than Keenum against a decent defense. Saints cover the five points and win outright.

Saturday’s NFL Divisionals

Falcons vs. Eagles

The line on this game is Falcons -2 1/2. I’m picking the Falcons to cover. I am taking the superior quarterback over the well-rounded Eagles. The Falcons topped the Rams last week and I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t beat the Wentzless Eagles. Their defense is solid and they have a lot of offensive talent. The Eagles have a top 5 defense and the 7th overall offense. They are tough with an extra week of rest. I will take Dan Quinn over Doug Pederson and that is the main reason why I have the Falcons winning. They do have the better quarterback, but the Eagles have played well without Wentz. Foles is one of the better backups in the league and he will play fine.

Patriots vs. Titans

The Patriots are favored by -13.5. They are going to win this game by a lot. They are playing at home with a week of rest and will be very well prepared. The Patriots not only are the better team, but the Titans have no business being here. They had an unbelievable comeback win last week and there is 0% chance they win this week. I am betting $60 to win $7 on the money line, which means if the Patriots win, I get $7 (technically $6.98).

Sunday’s Wild Card Predictions

Buffalo Bills Vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars will win this game. Their defense is too tough and the Bills are too weak on offense. The Bills are playing on the road and their “happy to be there” attitude defined by their celebration last Sunday tells me all I need to know about them. There season was a success and it is over. They aren’t a very good team and there best player isn’t at 100%. Their only chance is if Blake Bortles gives them defensive points and the Jaguars fall behind. The Jaguars have the 2nd best defense in the league and beating Buffalo’s 29th ranked offense is a no brainer. But, then again, Mariota throwing himself a TD and the Chiefs ability to squander an 18 point lead at home reminds me that nothing is absolute.

New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers

This matchup is the hardest for me to pick. My inclination is that the Saints will win. They have a better running back, a better and more consistent quarterback, and a better coach. Their defenses are almost identical in terms of points per game, Carolina allows fewer yards, but both teams could win this game. The main question I have is how well will Cam Newton play?

Cam Newton at his best takes over games and is sensational; bad Cam is irrelevant and ineffective and I expect bad Cam. The Saints have played him plenty of times and can prevent Cam from taking over and winning. Sean Payton will scheme Cam into a bad game and will stifle him. Without an elite Cam the Panthers will lose this game.

Also, the 2013 postseason was a long time ago and Brees isn’t about to waste a home playoff game losing to a team he has beaten already 2x’s this year. Bree’s now has a balanced offense, and though he doesn’t have the gaudy total yard numbers like previous years, he is in the playoffs. Bree’s wait is over and I expect the Saints to make it to the NFC Championship game at least. I’ll take the Saints. I a not willing to lay money on this game, which tells you my confidence in a Saints cover, but I think you should.

Playoff Predictions

Kansas City Chiefs vs Tennessee Titans

Tennessee is a terrible team. There defense is average and their offense is 23rd in the league. They have lost 3 out of their last 4 games and have no momentum. While the Chiefs, have won their last 4 games and are on a tear. Kansas City’s experience and their talent in key positions is why I am picking them. Alex Smith will do enough and Andy Reid will have a great game plan. The Chiefs have the 5th ranked offense and which will make up for their poor defense, which is why Kansas City will end the Titans season.

Atlanta Falcons vs. LA Rams

I feel like the public is overzealous on the Rams. They moved to LA, have the new coach who turned Jared Goff into a viable QB and have been putting up a ton of points in games, yet their return to the playoffs will be spoiled by the Falcons. The Falcons have playoff experience and will win this game on the road. The Falcons have a better QB and Julio Jones is the best player on the field. The Falcons offense’s problem has been scoring points, not getting yards and I think that will give this weekend. Their defense is significantly better than the Rams, which will help deal with Gurley. Ultimately, I trust Matt Ryan in this game more than I do Goff and that offense. and pick the Falcons to win outright.

Predictions of the Raiders’ Demise have been Exaggerated

The headlines:

“Football Outsider predicts Raiders have worse record in 2017”
“Six ways the Raiders’ offseason could go off the rails in 2017”
“Six reasons why Raiders might not meet high expectations”
“Raiders hope grand expectations for season don’t instead deliver heartache”

Talking heads and columnists from coast to coast have been talking about the fact that last year 7 close games went in the Raiders favor and Lady Luck is now on vacation. The Raiders were not as good as advertised last year how they could have easily been 10-6 or 9-7. Well, those calling for the Raiders demise are going to be found wanting.

The columnists predictions act as if they are revealing that Bruce Willis’s character is actually dead in the Sixth Sense. The research that shows us that teams with a bunch of close wins the year before sees a correction the following year have been well talked about. We are aware this happens. We don’t need you telling us to expect an 8-8 season and to temper our expectations. After a playoff drought over a decade we aren’t tempering anything besides are cutlasses.

Secondly, we don’t expect to have 7 close games this year. Our offense has been upgraded and we will be lethal, not to mention that last year we learned how to win close games. This year we will learn how to keep games from being close. Carr, Cooper, and Crabtree have more time with each other, which breeds chemistry. The addition of Marshawn Lynch will help balance their offense and help convert short 3rd down and goal line plays. This will help us put away games that were too close for comfort last year. Besides, Whether the Raiders win more games or not than last year isn’t the important thing. Whether they are better than last year is important and I predict improvement. So the rest of analysts and columnists save us from your Raider’s demise takes and let us enjoy the Raider’s revival.

McGregor vs. Mayweather

Saturday night was an exciting night. The matchup that America demanded was finally delivered. Despite what some may tell you, that fight delivered what the majority of people rooted for. A chance to see two professionals from different sport worlds collide in an entertaining fashion. No surprise the boxer won the boxing match. It was an enjoyable fight. I went in on it with some family and enjoyed seeing two entertainers entertain. After I have thought about it for a while I have come away with a couple of things.

McGregor had no shot

McGregor won 3 rounds, but Glass Joe could have won those 3 rounds. Mayweather hardly threw any punches and did two things. He was studying McGregor and secondly he was letting McGregor tire out. Which is surprising to me because McGregor fell for it. McGregor tired wasting big punches on Mayweather’s gloves. He did connect enough to entertain, but they clearly didn’t affect Mayweather. I don’t understand how McGregor’s team hadn’t prepared him for this. We have all seen Rocky III when Clubber Lang wastes his energy hitting Rocky’s gloves, until he is too tired and Rocky finishes him the next round. This is more or less what Mayweather did and it worked great. Of course, it was only a matter of time until a Rocky reference came up. You can’t avoid it.

McGregor never won another round after those first 3 and Mayweather worked him over pretty good the rest of the fight. From that point on it was the fight most expected. A professional beating on an amateur with a lot of heart. McGregor had a little bit of momentum into the 8th round in the beginning, but beside that, when Mayweather decided to box it was over.

Referee stepping in

At the point the referee stopped the fight, the fight was over. Mayweather was connecting on haymaker after haymaker and McGregor was stumbling like a 9 month old. The disappointing thing, was he was never knocked down, which I would have liked to see. The other part is the referee called the match after Mayweather barely grazed him instead of after a meaty fist sandwich. Had he stopped the fight 10 seconds early it would have felt right, but the end felt anticlimactic.

I will note, that if hits to the face are as damaging as the science experts like to make it sound, the ref probably did save McGregor damage. He was certainly going to take more and more of a beating.

Take Aways

It was fun and I think I could watch boxing with some regularity if they didn’t make it so difficult to watch. The fighters would make less, but they really do need a commissioner of boxing, like Dana White for MMA. It would do wonders for the sport.

I wish I would have emptied my 401K for this fight and made a quick 20%. Everyone was right, there was no way McGregor was going to win this fight. Also, getting “lucky” and knocking Mayweather out is much harder said then done. Clearly, no one in the previous 49 fights were able to, not sure why so many thought McGregor would be able to.

It was fun and worth the $25 that I spent on the fight. It was a good time and a perfect warm up to the College Football season this weekend.

Guaranteed 20 %

McGregor vs. Mayweather

The spectacle comes to a head tonight and is overhyped and despite the logical parity, I am excited. It seems that I am not the only one that wants to see this fight, America demanded this fight. Every analyst that I have heard has said they expect Mayweather to win easily. Some put in the caveat that maybe McGregor will get lucky, despite 49 other professionals failed. Then again, there might actually be an overseas millionaire that wants to leave his fortune to me, I could get lucky, right?

One thing I always come back to is that there is a reason they play the games. The 2007 Giants upsetting the Patriots, the 1980 USA Hockey Team, Appalachian State over Michigan, Utah over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, Cavs down 1-3 in the finals, or an 0-3 Red Sox comeback over the Yankees. Upsets happen far too often when logic dictates otherwise.

Also, wouldn’t an MMA fighter just be inherently tougher than a boxer? They are taking knees, kicks, and punches that have to land harder than overly padded gloves. When McGregor beat Diaz after going up a weight class he showed incredible moxie. There was a massive amount of punishment and McGregor won the battle. So, is it crazy to think that McGregor will be able to endure and get Mayweather? Yeah, it probably is, but we can hope right?

I hope McGregor can win. Mayweather’s history of domestic violence makes him the villain in this fight. McGregor’s no saint, but he does have a feel good story that is easy to root for. Nevertheless the spectacle may be more fun than the fight, so live it up. Today will be a fun day. College football opener, and a fight that America demanded. Carpè Díem.

BYU Prediction for 2017

Finally! It has been a long time since Brady came back and buried the Falcons like the New York Times buries a retraction. The football drought finally ends this Saturday. This is kind of a college football appetizer, but I am so hungry I am not being picky. Football is back!!!

What are the experts expectations?

Phil Steele, by his own admission, is the most accurate predicter of college football. I’ll touch on his two different ratings. His first ranking is where he predicts the final rankings at the end of the year. He has BYU ranked #27. Meaning that after the end of the bowl games, he thinks BYU will be ranked #27. Notables on BYU’s schedule is Wisconsin #10, LSU #13, Boise St. #45.

In Phil Steele’s power poll, which ranks best teams, not according to where they will rank, but how good they are. BYU is ranked #33. Other notables are Utah #43, LSU #13, Wisconsin #11, Boise St. #56, Utah St. 104.

In the AP poll BYU is #38 with Utah and Boise being ranked higher at 27 & 29 respectively. The coaches poll has BYU #42 with #25 Utah, #29 Boise St., and they even have Mississippi St. #35.

Their strength of schedule is #84. Similar to other years they have about 5 good games, and the rest are cupcakes. The tough games are: @LSU (technically neutral) Utah, Wisconsin, Boise State, @Miss St. (only because they are SEC). They have Utah, Wisconsin, and Boise St. at home. They are scheduled for 13 games.

BYU 2017 Prediction: 11-2

The main reason I believe that they will win 11 games is because of Tanner Mangum. Mangum is an elite QB and will carry this team to a great season. They will be closer to winning 12, then winning 10. This is Mangum’s 2nd year under Coach Sitake, with Detmer as his offensive coordinator. He played great when Taysom Hill was hurt, and I am expecting results as good or better than Max Hall and John Beck.

So, yeah, I believe they will beat Utah. I understand that none of my kids have ever seen a BYU win over Utah, but c’mon, Utah’s running a high tempo offense? Utah is a punch-you-in-the-mouth type of team, and trying pretend their something else won’t work. My only concern is that BYU’s receivers and running backs aren’t like last years, a good QB will equalize it out, which is why I trust Mangum to lead them to an 11-2 season.

Kyrie To Boston

Kyrie is out! Danny Ainge finally pulled the trigger and used his assets for a young star. The Celtics turned their back on Isaiah Thomas and and traded with their Eastern Conference threat. Wow. There is a lot to get to.

First off, Kyrie wanted out and he got what he wanted. I would have enjoyed it thoroughly if they would have traded Kyrie to a terrible team, where there was no chance of contention. Yet, Kyrie was put in a great situation on another good team with a chance to succeed. There were many scenarios that could have played out much worse for Kyrie, but he has to be happy to be traded to the Celtics. They are well ran, with a great coach and a bright future. Kyrie wanted an opportunity to be the Alpha, now he has an opportunity. This year they will have more talent, but I expect their chemistry to be awful.

Kyrie is going to want to come in and prove something and play like Russell Westbrook. The Celtics chemistry is about to be disrupted and the Celtics will be worse off than they were last year, despite their talent and the addition of Gordon Hayward. Because the East is as frail as Venezuela’s currency they will make it to the Eastern Conference Finals, but no further. I project that Kyrie doesn’t have the leadership ability to produce the chemistry it takes to lead a team to the finals.

The NBA is a cold frigid business. Isaiah Thomas was a fan favorite, played out of his mind, while grieving for his sister, and played injured for the Celtics. He gave them everything they could ask for plus some and at first chance they shipped him off. I think that the chip will help Isaiah Thomas, but as Don Corleone said, “This is the business we have chosen”, and I don’t feel bad for anyone.

Also, Ainge finally cashed in his chips. Does he believe this is the right move, or did criticism influence his hand. He has taken heat for piling up assets and never using them. The Cavs did well considering the whole league knew they had to deal Kyrie. The Celtics made a mistake and should have been more patient. I also didn’t expect the two teams in the Eastern Conference Championship to deal with one another.

The NBA’s offseason has been mesmerizing for some time. Kevin Durant joining the Warriors, Kyrie Irving bailing out on LeBron, and the rampant and yet-to-be-denied rumor that LeBron is divorcing Cleveland next summer. Next year should be great. The Cavs vs the Celtics will be fun and another Cavs/Warriors final will be great. I love the NBA offseason.

Marshawn Lynch

Marshawn Lynch knelt during the National Anthem in the Raiders first preseason game. This was Jack Del Rio’s conversation with Lynch about this.

“[Marshawn Lynch] said, “This is something I’ve done for 11 years- it’s not a form of anything other than me being myself.” Del Rio responded, “So you understand how I feel, I very strongly believe in standing for the national anthem, but I’m gonna respect you as a man. You do your thing, OK, and we’ll do ours.”

People get far too upset, so I’m not calling for outrage. But, I think it is far worse to sit during the Anthem because you are too lazy, or can’t be bothered, than to sit without reason. This is a good litmus test to drill down people’s true reasons for hating Kaepernick. Those that are outraged, why are they outraged? Are they outraged because Kaepernick didn’t stand for the Anthem, or the reason why he didn’t stand? Those that were outraged, because he wasn’t showing proper respect to the troops, should have the same level of outrage, for Lynch who sits without reason.

If the real reason people are upset over Kaepernick is because of his political position, which is what I think it is, this will blow over without much fanfare. There is much doubt on whether Lynch has sat down for 11 years during his career, but nonetheless. I find Lynch’s dismissal of the anthem without reason, worse than Kaepernick’s reason for black social justice.

Where Olynyk’s Style Came From

Celtic’s game 5 is tomorrow and we get to see Olynyk.  Where does he get off with that hair and that head band.  I agree that the hair band is better than the man bun, which is an oxy moron, but either one is a winner.  It just hit me on Sunday watching the Celtics play that he would look more comfortable on a platform in the background of a Cher or Suzanne Somer’s workout video in the 80’s.  He would fit in perfectly there, on a basketball floor, he just keeps looking ridiculous.

Clippers Get Trashed!

Hayward's hair is explained.
The Utah Jazz just sent the Clippers home in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.  How?  The Clippers on paper seem to have a big three:  Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and Deandre Jordan.  Each are arguably one of the best 3 guys at their position in the whole league.  How they managed to lose in the first round to Gordon Hayward and an aging Joe Johnson still baffles me.  They should be competing for titles, but instead they are dumpster diving, yet again.

So should the Clippers break their nucleus and start over?  The truth is the Clippers don’t have an option.  Both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin  have player options and can return if they want to.  The Clippers themselves may not have a choice.  But aside from that, I think they should keep their core together and at least be good.

I understand that everyone wants to think they are striving to put together a championship team, but only one team wins.  Being a Jazz fan, they never won a championship, but 18 years of being really good was still a ton of fun.  Blowing up the Clippers and starting over sounds good, but in reality they will be mediocre bottom feeders.  The Clippers are putting together fifty win seasons and because of injuries haven’t had that many great chances.  The choice between winning 50+ games with an outside shot of making the Western Conference Finals, sounds a lot better, than 5-6 years of trying to rebuild and sign a Chris Paul and Blake Griffin type player.  Also, don’t forget one big fact:

The Clippers are the Clippers

If you think you are going to rebuild this team into a winning team think again.  This is by far and away the most success they have ever had and I doubt they get back to this level anytime soon.  You have the Donald Sterling curse, karma, plus your owner is a bafoon who couldn’t even realize the iPhone was going to be a success.  Stick it out and until you only win 40 games a year, enjoy them as long as you can.

Justice League

Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Flash, Aquaman

The Justice League Trailer hit the internet and expectations for DC’s new blockbuster were set. It’s a great trailer and I am all in on seeing this movie. I am married with four kids, so I only see about 4-5 movies a year: my birthday, Valentines, anniversary, and 1 or 2 movies with the kids. So, the fact that this movie is in the top 5 movies this year says something. Maybe not too much, because, without a trailer I was going to go to this movie either way.  I am all in on Batman, whether, it is the Gold Standard (Dark Knight Series) or even the bad ones (Clooney, and Kilmer).  The trailer introduced the characters, showed you some action, made you laugh, and we didn’t have to see Superman.

My first takeaway, they nailed Aquaman. I am not familiar with Aquaman, besides snippets of the Justice League cartoon my son watches. He is like Thor in the Avengers, not afraid of a good fight, light hearted, and likes to drink.  Previously, Aquaman had never appealed to me.  After this trailer, you might as well sign me up to purchase his standalone movie as well.

Batman takes center stage as the architect of the Justice League.  His toys are incredible and his Batmobile wrecks havoc.  There is a scene where he is fighting an alien robot and he takes him out by grapple hooking into the robot pummeling it. This reminds me of his move in the video game Injustice, which is a nice easter egg.  The fighting seems a lit bit more superheroish, than the Dark Knight movies, that were more realistic.  Bruce Wayne himself actually answers the questions of whether or not he is a superhero, which is my favorite line in the trailer.  

There is no Superman to be seen.  I didn’t realize this until after the trailer was over.  They do show a picture of Lois Lane, but other than that nothing about Superman. Surprisingly, Doomsday killed him for longer than a couple of days, but I know it won’t be forever.  I am sure though, that he wouldn’t have died, but Batman had thrown him around and beat him like the lesser overhyped meathead that he is before his sacrificial death.

The villain?  I have no idea.   The truth of the matter is that I am not familiar with any Justice League villains, besides Lex Luthor and The Joker.  Who is a big enough force to need the entire Justice League?  Stereotypically, it will be an alien race with some all-powerful creature.  This will be good enough, as long as there are plenty of henchmen for them to tear through, and an actual Villain with form.  If we get another cosmic force like in the Green Lantern, I wil boycott DC movies.  Loki, was a great villain in the Avenger’s movie, I hope DC delivers.  A good movie can go to great with a good character villain.

Lastly, it seems that this movie is breaking away from the darker themes.  This seems much more like a Marvel movie.  They have injected humor into the diaglogue, which seemed more absent from the previous movies.  The overall themes may be darker, but it seems to be a replica of the Avenger movie.  Which is fantastic, because I love the Avenger’s movies.  I Can’t wait for this movie, besides when Superman will surely show up in the end and like a Captain Planet episode save the day.  

Super Bowl Prediction

Super Bowl 51.  I have listened to many sports podcasts and have been reading article after article all week.  Talked to my friends and during radio row I have heard many current and former players and analysts weigh in.  Which is what brings me to my opinion:

The Patriots Cover

Of course, there was no way I was going to pick any other team.  But, the real question is, “Do I always pick the Patriots because I like being right, or becuase I like them?”  Who knows, nevertheless they are my pick.

The Patriots have a weak schedule and haven’t been tested this year.  Their best win was against the Steelers last week in the AFC Championship and they dominated.  Their defense held the Steelers offense to less than 20  points and dominated the game from start to finish.  The Steelers, like the Falcons, had a prolific offense.  Back in 2001 the Patriots stopped the greatest show on turf and upset them.  Many would point out that the Patriots defense was the strength, which held the Rams to 17 points.  There is reason to belive that this Falcons team is comparable.

While, I agree that this Patriots defense isn’t as good as that years, their offense certainly is.  Brady and Belichick have now played in 6 of these and have won 4 of them.  They have dynamic receivers and running backs and have been able to play successfully against many teams.  The Patriots defense will hold the Falcons to under 30 and I believe the Patriots will score more than 30.

Many have pointed out that the Falcons defense  played well over the last part of the season.  Their opponents were 2nd and 3rd tier teams.  Green Bay last week was depleted and this week they are going to face the greatest quarterback of all time.  I understand, Ryan doesn’t have to beat the legacy of Tom Brady today, just his performance, but I doubt that he will be able to be as effective against the Patriots defense as Brady will be against the Falcons defense.

Brady will take advantage of the young Falcon players and will be the undisputed greatest of all time.  Go Pats!



How Belichick will attack Atlanta in Super Bowl 51

Belichick on Mike Lombardi

Mike Lombardi for the Ringer:

“Belichick’s first quarter will be all about building a lead and learning Atlanta’s plan. Taking away Julio Jones, eliminating the big play, setting the edge, creating the lead early, stopping the run — those are not independent thoughts. Belichick ties them together and makes them work together. If football were as simple as “taking away what the opponent does best,” then we wouldn’t be constantly bemoaning the lack of quality NFL coaching. Bill Belichick has lasted this long because he knows football is more complicated than that.”

I love listening to Mike Lombardi and reading him.  He spent  time working with Bill Belichick in Cleveland with the Browns and in New England with the Patriots.  He seems to be very knowledgeable and Belichick himself said that Lombardi is one of the smartest football guys.  I’ll be looking for this gameplan on Sunday to see if he was right, and to see if the Patriots will be able to execute the gameplan.

Ranking Patriots Super Bowl Teams

Charles Curtis for USA Today:

7.  2003 (against Carolina Panthers)
“they just barely eked out a Super Bowl win over Jake Delhomme (he had a pretty great game, to be fair) and the Carolina Panthers.”

6.  2001 (against St. Louis)
“The first team of the dynasty obviously sits toward the bottom because Brady was a rookie pushed into action when Drew Bledsoe went down.

5.  2011 (Giants)
“Another team that caught fire at the end of the season, only to run into the New York Giantsfor a second time in the Super Bowl. But the defense was just average, finishing 15th in points allowed that year.”

4.  2016 (Falcons)
“Are they really that good or is the competition weak? That explains why they’re smack dab in the middle of this list.”

3.  2014 (Seahawks)
“…Yes, they were one play away from losing the Super Bowl. But it’s hard to argue with a defense that could do it all”

2.  2004 (Eagles)
“When I think of the Patriots dynasty, this is the team I’ll think of.”

1.  2007 (Giants)
“If the 16-0 Pats hadn’t run into the Giants’ pass rush and the Helmet Catch, this squad would be in the conversation for greatest team in NFL history.”

Going back over these Super Bowls you realize that the Patriots have never won an “easy” Super Bowl.  All of these Super Bowls were games late into the 4th quarter, being decided by 4 points or less.  The endings of the last 3 Super Bowls were some of the best Super Bowl finishes, in terms of excitement.  All three had unbelievable catches in do or die situations against the Patriots.  Luckily for the Patriots, Pete Carroll refused to use Marshawn Lynch and Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson.  This has been an amazing run for Belichick and Brady and they have given us great games, lets hope that Sunday is no different.

Carolina Panthers: Where it went wrong


After posting a 15-1 win season in 2015, the Carolina Panthers were predicted to go 13-3 or 12-4 in preseason predictions.  They didn’t.  They fell short of preseason predictions and was analysts biggest miss. Where did it all go wrong?

David Newton for ESPN wrote:

The foundation that helped Carolina to an NFL-best 17-2 record (including playoffs) and a trip to the Super Bowl in 2015 for the most part remains intact. Blame an inexperienced secondary with three new starters, catastrophic injuries on the offensive line and inconsistent play by reigning NFL MVP Cam Newton for the huge step backward this past season. Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly’s absence in the final six games after suffering a concussion didn’t help either.


Their offense was all over the place.  One week they scored 46 points then the next week they scored 10.  They scored 25 points or more 7x and 16 points or fewer 6x’s.  Last year those numbers were completely different.  They scored 25 points or more 13x’s and under 16 points only once, which was the Super Bowl.  Without drastic changes to personnel, I would still say their transformation was more substantial than Bruce to Caitlyn Jenner’s.  Cam Newton, the offensive line, and losing Greg Norman headlined their decline.

Cam Newton

If Cam Newton was Superman last year, then consider him Robin’s sidekick after this year, his stats were pedestrian and his inconsistency showed up in the win column.

He had career lows in completion %, average yards per completion, QBR, and rating. He ranked last in the league in completion %, below Brock Osweiler and Fitzpatrick.  His touchdowns dropped from 35 to 19, and he threw more interceptions than any other year since his rookie season.  Besides a poor offensive line, what’s the problem?

Personally, I think what happened to Newton this year is the same thing that happened to Rocky III.  Rocky was pounded by Clubber Lang because he lost his eye of the tiger.  Cam was too well fed and lost his hunger.  He spent more time complaining about refs not calling hits on him and less time preparing and focusing on how to make plays.

Cam also complained that football wasn’t fun anymore.  Football isn’t fun?  That to me, explains his mental makeup.  He loves game day and being a superstar.  When the going gets tough Cam complains.  He needs to learn to enjoy the grind and be consistent.  Which is sad because has the Lebron James body of the NFL and this year he played like Dellavedova.

Offensive Line

Michael Oher, the only offensive lineman your wife might know, Ryan Kalil and Gino Gradkowski all were injured in the year.  These losses were too much and they weren’t able to protect Cam which helped result in Cam’s poor year.

Defensive Backs

David Newton for ESPN wrote:

2016 grade: D-plus. I debated going with a C-minus here because rookie corners James Bradberry and Daryl Worley showed marked improvement in the second half of the season. But it’s hard to ignore that starter Bene’ Benwikere was released after a Week 4 loss to Atlanta in which Julio Jones had 300 yards receiving. It’s hard to ignore that the corners played a major role in a 1-5 start from which the Panthers never fully recovered. It’s also hard to ignore the Panthers still ranked 28th in pass defense a year after ranking 11th in 2015 with Norman.

This says it all.

The Panthers were unable to build upon the success of 2015.  If Cam can humble himself, get back to work, and revive his career like the Italian Stallion, they can return to prominence.  Cam has all the tools, lets just see if he has the discipline.

Preseason Predictions: Who saw it and who didn’t?

Every year after surviving months between the NFL draft and the first NFL game, websites everywhere make their preseason predictions.  Some people enjoy picking teams that have no business being there, for shock value, ie the Jaguars.  They back it up with stats, offseason acquisitions, coaches, and draft picks.  I like to review some of these predictions the week of down time before the Super Bowl.

Researching these preseason predictions, my biggest takeaway is that 75% were pretty spot on this year.  Everyone seemed to miss the same things.  The biggest misses were the Panthers and Cardinals taking a nose dive this year.  Most had those teams competing for a Super Bowl.  Many had the Colts followed by the Texans in the AFC South.  The biggest omission was the Falcons and Matt Ryan.  Matt Ryan wasn’t on anyone’s MVP list and the Falcons were pegged to be awful this year.

Plenty predicted the Cowboys good fortune  and  were accurate about the Raiders playoff birth.  Read on to see those who picked the Jets to make the playoffs.

CBS Sports

5 out of 7 CBS predictors predicted the Falcons to take last in the NFC South.
Only 1 of 7 predicted the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
All 7 of them had the Panthers as NFC South division winners
5 of the 7 had the Broncos as third in the AFC West.
1 had the Jets in the Playoffs.


First Take

Max Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith did not Pick Falcons for playoffs
Stephen A. Smith picked the New York Jets to make the playoffs.


0/43 Predicted Matt Ryan to win MVP
3 out of 43 picked Tom Brady for the MVP
0/43 picked Falcons as NFC Champ
17/43 picked the Patriots to play in the Super Bowl
6/43 picked Patriots as Super Bowl Champion


Colin Cowherd
Had Texans last in AFC south
*Guaranteed Andrew Luck will be an MVP Candidate
Had Falcons last in NFC South
Had Jets in playoffs
Predicted demise of Bengals

Skip Bayless

*Watch out for the Bears
*Did Pick Cowboys to win NFC East, 10-6 conservative
**Picked Chargers to win AFC West

*1st Video **2nd Video




Brees 5:4 Blessed are they that Mourn

At Brees 2014-206 Grave
Mourn with those that mourn

Brees Chapter 5 verse 4  says,

“Blessed is he that puts up 5,000 yards in vain, he shall get nothing.”

Can we all take a moment for Drew Brees?  He continues to be a top quarterback in this league, but his team is awful.  It would be like if Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was stuck on The Power Rangers.  He has been so consistently good, we see his 5,000 yards and we collectively sigh, “meh”, it’s Brees.  Like he is some how given 5000 yards every season by the football gods and it should go without note.  I say we take the time to look at his season compared to the odds on favorite for MVP.

Drew Brees vs. Matt Ryan

Take a look at Drew Bree’s numbers and compare them to MVP favorite Matt Ryan’s and you won’t see a stark difference.  People are heralding Matt Ryan’s season epic.  So, let’s compare the two.  Touchdowns?  Matt Ryan threw for 38 and Drew Brees threw for 37.  Yards?  Drew Brees threw for 5,208 averaging 314 yards per game.  Matt Ryan threw for 4,944 averaging 7.7 yards.  Sacks?  Matt Ryan was sacked 37 times and Drew Brees only 27.  Interceptions?  Matt Ryan threw for 7 interceptions with a int% 1.3, while Brees threw for 15 with a int% of 2.2.  Their ratings were 117.1 to 101.7 for Matt Ryan.  It should be noted, Drew Brees was the whole team.

Their numbers aren’t that different, but their seasons were the difference between The Godfather and Mickey Blue Eyes.  Brees went 7-9 while Matt Ryan finished 11-5 on his way to his first Super Bowl.  The Saints have good coaching, a top quarterback, consistency in the organization, and still can’t put together a winning season. They are 31st in the league in points allowed per game.  Not even Brady could drag his team in the post season with that defense.  (He really would though, but then again he is the g.o.a.t for a reason)

Something needs to change, or Brees needs to get out of town and go  to a team in contention that lacks a quarterback.  This leads us to the Texans, the Broncos, or even the Chiefs.  Those teams need a quarterback and Brees would make them contenders immediately.  I am sure contractually it isn’t an option, but the NFL would be better off if that happened.  Seeing, Brock Osweiler, Alex Smith’s 16 points and Matt Moore in the playoffs isn’t good for anyone.

Brees last 3 years have been wasted on a terrible team.  I feel for the aging statistician.  He deserves more than a defense built like the French.  So take a moment and mourn Brees last 3 seasons today before we completely lock onto the Super Bowl.

Prediction: Belichick and Patriots will lock up Bell

Comic: Patriots' Bill Belichick lock up Le'Veon Bell

The Patriots will invite the Steelers into Foxboro on Sunday and send them home packing up and they can Facebook live their way home on a cold long flight back to where they come from.  That is what happens to teams in the playoffs at Foxboro and this year will be no different.  Here’s why.

Lock Bell Up

Lock him up!  Belichick has had the Patriots do this for years.  He takes your best asset and locks them up and makes them effectively useless.  That is what happened when the Patriots played the Steelers earlier in the year.  Le’veon Bell had 21 carries for only 81 yards.  If Bell has a similar performance the Patriots will win this game and be headed to their 7th Super Bowl.

Dion Lewis

Dion Lewis is another reason that the Patriots will win Sunday.   He is 15-0 in games that he has played in.  He has always been a duel threat and after returning a kickoff for a touchdown last Sunday, he is now a triple threat.  Lewis’s explosiveness will help them recover from what they lost when Gronkowski was hurt.  The Patriots haven’t used him a ton and I feel like they have been waiting for the right time and not show their hand too early.  Last week was his coming out party and this week watch Pittsburgh try and contain him.

The Flu

Pittsburgh’s first match this week was the flu, which won’t help them on Sunday. Add this ontop of having to go on the road, Antonio Brown’s Facebook live distraction, going up against Bill Belichick, who has had more time to prepare than you, and facing the greatest Quarterback of all time.  This is too much for an undisciplined Steelers team.  They had a good run and a good season after a mediocre start.

NFL Playoff Weekend Recap, and what I learned

I missed big on this playoff prediction

Rodgers torches Cowboys in Playoffs

This weekend we finally had some exciting playoff football games.  They didn’t come until Sunday, but both games came down to the end.  The above comics were my playoff predictions heading into the weekend, along, with Brady’s beat down of the Texans, which was far from Nostradamic.  So I  picked 2 out of the 3 games correctly.


It is time to admit that Earl Thomas was key to Seattle’s defense.   The Seattle defense showed signs of decay after his injury and showed up against good offenses.  They gave up too many points against elite offenses and 20 points wasn’t going to beat the Falcons.

I have been stubborn to relegate the Seahawks from a great team to a good team, but not being able to flip the switch in the post season, consider them relegated.  Their offense can’t score enough and their defense now doesn’t keep them in games when the offense struggles.


Aaron Rodgers and the Packers look unbeatable.  The last throw to put them in field goal range was incredible.  The story goes that he drew that play up on the spot and just told each receiver what to do, grade school style.  All-time quarterbacks need all time stories.  Rodgers recent success with Hail Mary’s and making up a game saving plays on the spot are all time stories.  If he finishes this year off with a Super Bowl ring, he wil be added to the top tier of all-time quarterbacks.

Kansas City

Kansas City tastes playoff disappointment again.  A different season and we have the same story.  Holding the Steelers to just 18 points going against Roethlisberger, Brown, and Bell, is quite an accomplishment, only to have your offense  muster 16 points.  The Chiefs are consistently good, but never great as they exit the playoffs again.  Alex Smith is good, but not quite good enough.



The Inevitable

John Breech describes the Patriots inevitably of going to the AFC Championship:

You know you’re in trouble when the oddsmakers in Vegas have basically given up on you. That is kind of what has happened here with the Texans. Houston is a 16-point underdog in this game, which I’m only letting you know because it’s the largest playoff point spread in 18 years.

The Texans have played at New England four times in franchise history and they’ve been blown out every time (27-0 in 2016, 41-28 in the 2012 playoffs, 42-14 in 2012 regular season, 40-7 in 2006).

To give you an idea of how hopeless things are for the Texans, the odds say that Tom Brady has a better chance of being elected president in 2020 than the Texans do of winning this game.

Sean Tomlinson from Bleacher Report talks about the Texans only chance:

Now the Texans’ ability to pull off a colossal upset as 16-point underdogs (per OddsShark) doesn’t rest with the quarterback, as it so often does in the playoffs. Brock Osweiler is still a liability and free-agency bust despite his brief flashes of competence Sunday.

It rests with running back Lamar Miller to some degree… it rests with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins a bit, too, but he was wasted by Osweiler in 2016 and finished with just 954 receiving yards.

…That’s where Clowney comes in with his ability to be a constant menace…The hallmark of a dominant pass-rusher often lies in how much they can tear down the opposing offense and alter plays even when not recording sacks. That’s what Clowney did frequently against the Raiders, a game that ended with four pressures from the 23-year-old.

The Patriots are going to roll the Texans and roll them big. They have a superior offense, coaching, quarterback, experience and team. They are playing at home and I give the Texans no chance at all. In sports, we always know that upsets can and do happen. Any doubt that Patriot fans may have is how Osweiler beat them last November with a good defense and an out of character successful performance.

The key to any and all QB’s from Bart Starr to Tom Brady is to hit the quarterback. Any and all quarterbacks play significantly worse when they don’t have time and they are constantly getting hit. This isn’t good analysis, it is the key to beating any quarterback. The Texans finished with the Top Defense in the league and if they can hit Brady early and often it will be much more difficult for the Patriots. This is how Denver beat the Patriots last year.

They had an incredible defense that hit Brady over and over. It keeps the game low scoring and gives them a chance. Osweiler was the quarterback last year in that Denver game and he threw some great passes and beat the Patriots last year. If the impossible happens, that will be how.

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