I was struggling to figure out what to write, until I remembered it’s always fun to play devil’s advocate.
Wes Welker is Non-Essential
Letting Wes Welker walk away was not a terrible decision. He is not vital. Forever and ever, the Patriots front office has never folded to player salary demands. Why should they? They’ve got Brady, Belichick, and the Patriot Way.
People say “you aren’t going to win a Super Bowl with guys like Kenbrell Thompkins”. Well, the Patriots didn’t win a Super Bowl with Welker did they? For all his gaudy stats, he brought zero championships to New England and was never viewed as someone with exceptional leadership qualities. To be clear, the Pats didn’t simply dismiss Welker. They gave him an offer which his agent felt was too low. Welker then got an offer from the Broncos. That's where it got fuzzy. The Welker camp says the Pats declined to match the Broncos offer while the Pats camp says they did their best to get him back and his agent said no.
Either way, the Patriots put the Welker issue to bed by signing Amendola (not a Welker replacement to this point) and moved on to essential fixes for the team, none more significant than resigning Aqib Talib – an absolute stud at CB. He shut down Jimmy Graham, who had been the league’s leading receiver until last week, is first in INTs and second in PDs (as well as a forced fumble).
It’s defense that is still the key for the Patriots to win another Super Bowl. Two of the last five winners have had defenses in the top two. The average ranking for scoring defense for the champions in this millennium is 8.7. The Patriots had defenses ranking 6, 1, & 2 respectively in their three Super Bowl seasons. This season New England only gives up 16.2 ppg, good enough for the fourth best scoring defense in the NFL (Denver is 24th). Let’s take stock of where they are right now and where we can project them to be. A record of 5-1, and a top five power ranking in every news outlet, seems to indicate that the Patriots are doing just fine.
“But Tom Brady is struggling!!”
The Patriots have had a slew of injuries on the offensive side of the ball (Vereen, Amendola, Gronk). They lost top pass catchers even before the season started (Hernandez, Welker, Lloyd). Brady has his worst passer rating in his career. But, THEY. STILL. WIN. New England just beat a team widely regarded as the best in the NFC, right? The Patriots offense is still the 6th best in the league when it comes to turnover ratio. Brady and Belichick DO NOT NEED WELKER.
Where New England is really struggling this year has more to do with Gronkowski's absence than Welker's. New England ranks 30th in Red Zone TD conversion % this year versus third in 2012. You know who will drastically improve that number once he decides to play football again? Rob Gronkowski, who hauled in the fourth most regular season TDs (11) in 2012 (over Welker’s 6).
So, where will they be in late December?
I think they’ll be the #2 seed (maybe even the #1 seed). New England’s remaining “tough games” are in Miami, in Baltimore, and hosting Denver.
It’s not inconceivable that the Colts, Broncos, and Chiefs carousel beats each other up, and New England gets the home win over Denver and gets the #1 seed. Even so, I’m conservatively putting them at #2. By then, Tom Brady will have his nobody’s in order and this team will be well on track.
- The Colts still host Denver, go to KC, play the Titans twice, and go to Cinci.
- The Broncos have 8 more games against opponents with a .500 record or higher including a brutal four game stretch of @SD, KC, @NE, @KC (plus @Indy this weekend).
- The Chiefs still host the Colts, as well as play Denver and SD twice.
Bottom line: The Patriot Way still works; Wes Welker has proved to be non-essential personnel for the Patriots. What Else?
As always, leave your questions, comments, and most likely complaints in the area below.
Game of the Week: New Orleans Saints @ New England Patriots
Last Week’s Forecast: KC @ TENN; Chiefs 24-13 (KC 26-17)
Probably the last thought that comes to mind in a matchup of the Saints and Patriots is defense, but that would be ignoring one of the biggest storylines thus far for both teams. Although these teams boast top 5 scoring defenses, I doubt this game will be low scoring yet it tells a lot about the early season for both teams. The Saints have gotten an unlikely contribution from their defense putting them atop the NFC at 5-0, while the Pats (4-1) have survived some shaky offensive moments in large part due to their defense.
The injury status of Rob Gronkowski has an obvious big effect on this matchup, but outside of Peyton Manning there is nobody I’d rather have on the field right now than Drew Brees. I don’t normally bet against Belichick/Brady at home, especially coming off a loss, but that tells you how special I think this Saints team can be.
Prediction: Neither team’s schedule through five games has had any ‘big wins’ but this week is a chance for just that. Sean Payton is still looking to make amends for a lost season last year, and he won’t be taking his foot off the gas anytime soon. Saints 30-27.
Matchup to watch: Sean Payton vs. Bill Belichick
Last Week’s Forecast: Ray Rice vs. Miami Front-7; 19 carries, 92 yards, 2 TD (27 carries, 74 yards, 2 TD)
So maybe this is a bit of an off-the-board pick, and redundant with the game of the week, but if there’s one thing I truly appreciate, it is great coaching. With all the piss poor coaching in the league (I’ll never understand how that happens at the highest level of professional football) it is so refreshing to see two coaches that get the most out of their team on a consistent basis. These are two coaches whose decisions I'll never question, even if they backfire. They have earned that right.
So come Sunday, we are in for a real treat. Leave the “what the hell is he thinking!?” tantrums for another game, and kick back and enjoy the masterminds on each sideline. All we can hope for is a close game going into the 4th quarter that will really show off the chess moves of each coach. At the end of the day, I think there is too much firepower and momentum on the Saints side right now, even for Belichick. I’m not saying it will be, but I certainly won’t be surprised if this isn’t the last matchup of the season between the two.
Prediction: It’s hard to put measurable on a coaching matchup, other than who gets the final laugh. From the above piece, you know my thoughts on this game. Payton wins: Saints 30-27.
Upset Alert: Cincinnati Bengals @ (+7.5) Buffalo Bills
Last Week’s Forecast: Oakland 31 Chargers 28 (OAK 27-17)
I’m well aware E.J Manuel isn’t playing this week, or anytime soon for that matter, but here’s why it isn’t all doom and gloom for Buffalo. First, internally, this will mean a recommitment to the ground game. Sure, Spiller has been a disappointment – in part to injury and ineffectiveness – but in largest part due to poor play selection. Manuel, who has shown some flashes of being a quality NFL quarterback, had been averaging 30 pass attempts a game (a number that would be higher had he finished last week’s game in Cleveland). Regardless of the reason, Spiller has only touched the ball 16 times a game. What happened to the “we’re going to give him the ball until he throws up”
strategy? Fred Jackson has worked in successfully so far through five weeks, but there’s no excuse for Spiller not being more involved. A home run hitter like Spiller only needs one touch to change a game. So that gets us back to the quarterback situation, and why I actually think Thad Lewis getting the nod can be a positive for this team. Remember when it was supposed to be a joke Brian Hoyer was starting for the Browns in week 3? Admittedly I don’t have the same optimism about Lewis as I did Hoyer, but here's what I do like about him; in his last 3 appearances including the preseason (54 professional passing attempts) he has only turned the ball over once. Impressive, and key, for a young quarterback that doesn’t have to win this game for his team to win (if you follow the logic). Dubbed as a check down, conservative passer, Lewis could actually bring a blessing-in-disguise element for a team that desperately needs to get Spiller more chances through the air.
So what all that round-a-bout talk brings me to is the real reason I like the Bills (and 7.5 points) at home: the Bengals struggle on offense, and have really struggled as of late. This game won’t get out of hand early as a result, and that will only give more confidence to a team starting a young unproven quarterback. Weird things happen in Buffalo, and I don’t expect this week to be any different. Prediction
: Spiller is supposedly feeling better, Andy Dalton is regressing and the Bills have a certain mojo at home when they are least supposed to. Bills 20, Bengals 16League of Opportunity Opportunist of the Week: Garrett Graham, TE, Houston TexansLast Week’s Forecast: STL Starting RB; 14 carries, 62 yards, 1 TD (Stacy; 14 carries, 78 yards, 0 TD)
With Owen Daniels out at least 6 weeks, Garrett Graham has a golden opportunity to build upon an already successful start to the 2013 campaign. In a system that features two tight end sets more so than any other offense in the league, Graham has posted a 15/141/3 line through five games as the TE2. Now as TE1, Graham should get an increased amount of looks. Throw in Matt Shaub's recent considerable struggles (an understatement with a pick-6 thrown in 4 straight games) I’d expect a very conservative game plan from the Texans. Adding to the intrigue of Graham this week, the Rams give up over 250 passing yards a game. All signs point to a nice line this week for the product out of Wisconsin.
Prediction: Graham 7 catches, 78 yards, 1 TD. Texans 27-13 W.
BY: Timmy V
Monday Night Football brought us a fitting end to a wacky, at times bizarre, and mostly unpredictable first five weeks of the NFL season. If you aren’t Rex Ryan, or related to Geno Smith, you probably didn’t expect the Jets to go into the Georgia Dome and dominate (more so than the score indicated) the reeling Falcons. Vegas certainly didn’t with a -10.5 line. Talk about a wacky turn through the first quarter-plus of the season; the reeling Atlanta Falcons? Coming into 2013, the duo of Matt Ryan and Mike Smith had gone 56-24 in the regular season, spanning their first five years in tandem. Sitting at 1-4, the Falcons have undoubtedly been a disappointment, but it’s not the only unexpected story line in the standings. The Chiefs are 5-0. The aforementioned Jets are above .500. The Houston Texans are below .500. The New York Giants don’t look like a professional football team. But none of those records really indicate how bizarre this season has been thus far. Don’t believe me, keep reading…
Kiko Alonso. If you haven’t heard of him, I’m sure you are not alone. The rookie second round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills, from the University of Oregon, is tied for the league lead in interceptions. That’s not groundbreaking, but the fact he plays Middle Linebacker is a bit startling. Sitting at 4 INTs through the first 5 games of play, Alonso is already halfway to the single season record for interceptions by a linebacker. (7; Al Richardson, ’80, Lance Mehl, ’83). By those numbers I’m sure you can accurately guess no linebacker has ever led the league in this category during the modern era. Is it sustainable? No, not likely, but if you are like me now you will be watching for it.
Alonso isn’t the only stat leader, out of position, so to speak. Jimmy Graham leads the league with 593 receiving yards. Averaging over 118 ypg Graham (unlike Alonso) has a legitimate shot to hold onto this single-season title. You have to go all the way back to 1973 to find a receiving leader who could pass as a tight end, Harold Carmichael. At 6’8 Carmichael was in the mold of a tight end, despite being listed as a WR throughout his career following his rookie season (’70). Given that technicality, we’ll go ahead and say that Graham has a chance to be the first tight end in NFL history to lead the league in receiving yards.
Another record to keep an eye on; there are currently three defensive players on pace to break Michael Strahan’s single-season sack mark of 22.5, set in 2001. Robert Mathis leads the pack with 9.5 (over 30 for the season), with Justin Houston and Mario Williams also trending in the right direction to eclipse the mark. Talk about bringing the heat.
So to recap the overload of bizarre numbers, we could end 2013 with a linebacker leading the league in interceptions, a tight end leading the league in receiving yards, and three players breaking a record that was set 12 years ago. And a bonus nugget for this paragraph: 12 running backs are on pace to break the illustrious 1,000 yard rushing mark. In the past decade there has never been fewer than 15 backs to break the mark.
If none of those points were peculiar enough to illustrate the wackiness that is 2013 (we should’ve expected this in 20THIRTEEN) consider the past two Super Bowl winning quarterbacks. Joe Flacco and Eli Manning have combined for a 13:20 TD:INT ratio through 10 games collectively, while averaging a QB rating of 67.95. For perspective, Geno Smith has an 80.3 rating in his young career.
I think that stat alone is enough to close this article without much of a conclusion. And I’ll do just that.
After taking a week off to clear the mind, not really, but sort of (bye week?)… Tim’s Take is back for week 5. It isn’t
worth rehashing where we left off so let’s get rolling right into this week’s ction…
Game of the Week: Kansas City Chiefs @ Tennessee Titans
Jake Locker’s injury puts a huge damper on this game, but with relatively weak options elsewhere for the Game of the Week, we’ll roll with the editor’s pick. Tennessee has been a team I’ve been high on since the preseason, seriously, but without their fiery offensive leader, I obviously don’t like them as much. Ryan Fitzpatrick (former Buffalo, NY area bank robber) will look to rekindle some of the ‘FitzMagic’ that landed him a 6-year $59 million contract back in 2011. Seriously, that happened.
Okay, back to what we will actually see Sunday. The Chiefs are who we thought they would be on paper, but it’s always nice to see a team put that together on the field (* cough Bucs cough *). But then again, neither of these teams have had a very daunting schedule. What they both possess are opportunistic defenses that love to get after the QB - 1st and 3rd in the league in sacks, respectively. This could be a low scoring affair with the turnover battle being key.
Prediction: When it comes to the turnover battle there’s not many QB’s in the league I trust more than Alex Smith. Fitzpatrick on the other hand holds a 93:81 TD:INT ratio in his career. Cue the Scooby Doo voice. Chiefs 24-13.
Matchup to Watch: Ray Rice vs. Miami Front-7
A week after receiving as many touches as Joe Flacco threw interceptions; Ray Rice has been nabbed by Coach John Harbaugh to be the “focal point of the offense moving forward”. Well duh, Super Bowl winning coach and you don’t even realize what you have on your roster? I really don’t understand the NFL sometimes...
Miami has the 10th best rush defense in the league allowing less than 100 yards/game, granted last week’s stats against the run-depleted Saints offense helped that. Regardless if there is one thing I do actually find impressive about this overhyped Dolphins team, it is their front-7. But when push comes to shove if the Ravens actually commit to giving Rice his touches, he will get his yards, and touchdowns. Also in his favor this week is a nagging injury of Bernard Pierce that may bump up his carries even more.
Prediction: I think Baltimore goes into Miami and gets a win, and Ray Rice will be the key reason. Better late than never, I suppose, if Harbaugh figures out Rice needs to be the focal point of the offense. This team is better than people think, & Miami is worse than the hype-train thinks. Rice: 19 carries 92 yards, 6 catches 32 yards, 2 TD. Baltimore 27-20.
Upset Alert: San Diego Chargers @ (+4.5) Oakland Raiders
With so many tight spreads this week I didn’t feel right taking NE @ CIN, so I’ll take the underdog at home. Here’s why: regardless of what the score was, I was impressed with this Raiders team against Denver two weeks ago. Skip over last week’s loss without Terrelle Pryor and let’s go back to what they did at Denver. Yes, they lost by 16 but I saw a team that truly believes they can make plays with TP at QB and I see him getting better with every start this week. Throw in the QB-friendly defense in San Diego, a West Coast primetime start, and we could see the emergence of Pryor this week.
Despite the play of Fill-Up ‘stat sheets’ Rivers I’m not a fan of this San Diego team. Too much inconsistency, especially to be a 4.5 point favorite on the road against a division rival.
Prediction: With the spotty play of the next generation QBs, generally speaking, am I really wrong to think Pryor will be in that category by seasons’ end? Either way, I like the Raiders this week… I just hope I can stay awake to watch it. Raiders 31, Chargers 28
League of Opportunity Opportunist of the Week: Starting RB, St. Louis Rams
Maybe a bit of an unconventional pick, but seriously, whoever starts for St. Louis is going to have a monster day. Coming off a Thursday game, Coach Fisher and staff have had an extended opportunity to review the first 4 games and make some changes heading into the second quarter. One of those appears to be at running back, where Daryl Richardson claims he won’t be the starter this week. (“not this week man
” via his twitter account; how cool must that fan think he is, that he
started a national story!?)
So enter Isaiah Pead. Or Benny Cunningham. Or Zac Stacy. Or… Chase Reynolds? The point is, enter the Jacksonville Jaguars. Whoever gets the keys to the car is basically getting a steak dinner on the house, too. The realistic probability is there will be some sort of time share this week, but for my money whoever emerges as the lead back after this week, will continue to lead the carousel for the foreseeable future. One thing about the league of opportunity, if you prove yourself (doesn’t matter how, where or against who) you are likely to get another shot.Prediction
: Rather than blindly pulling a name out of a hat, or trying to get inside Jeff Fisher’s mind… I’ll roll the dice and say Benny Cunningham emerges as the lead dog. Why?
A) I think he has the coolest name, and I could see ‘Benny the Jet’ being a fad in the NFL,
B) he has the best story in terms of a guy you would root for – low profile school, Middle Tennessee State, went undrafted thanks to an injury that cost him much of his 2012 season, and
C) he was the backup as of week 4. Next man up theory, no? Cunningham 14 carries, 62 yards, 1 TD. Rams 27-16 W.
Game of the week: Atlanta Falcons @ Miami Dolphins
Last Week’s Forecast: SF @ SEA: SEA 27-23…. (SEA 29-3 W)
I don’t love the slate of games this week, so this pick is more out of curiosity than intrigue (if that makes any sense, which it doesn’t). I haven’t been a believer in the Dolphins since Dan Marino retired, but if you listened to the right outlets in the offseason this was going to be a Dolphins team to watch. Well, 2 weeks in I’m not sold, but they have done what they needed to against a subpar and average opponent. This sets the stage for their biggest test yet, a known commodity in the Atlanta Falcons.
Even with Roddy White hobbled, the Falcons still pose a fearful passing attack. One thing Miami will peg their success on this season is a pass rush, so what better way to test it early in the season? At the least, here’s to hoping the fans show up in Miami for this big game. Prediction
: This has the makings of one of those road games where the Falcons come out fairly flat, and do just enough to win. The Dolphins (Bryce’s High Alert Contender of Week 3
) have a chance to make a statement at home, but I’m not so sure it happens. Falcons 24-20. Matchup to watch: Eli Manning vs. Luke Kuechly (Carolina D) Last Week’s Forecast: Steven Jackson vs. St. Louis Defense; Jackson-19 carries, 81 yards,1 TD (3/0/1 rec)
Well last week’s forecast was a dud. After catching an 8-yard swing pass TD early in the ball game Jackson left with a leg injury and didn’t return… Moving on.
This game features two teams that really need to get back on track. There should be a sense of urgency on both sides of the ball. Eli needs to be better than he was last week for the Giants to stay relevant this season, and as bad as Carolina’s offense has been the Panthers could be 1-1 minus the 60th minute last week in Buffalo. This game will go a long way in determining which of these teams’ stay in the hunt this season. I wouldn’t completely count out Eli at 0-3, but if the young Panthers squad stumbles further I might. (Is it too early for this kind of talk? I don’t think so). Expect a big game out of Luke Kuechly, whose costly pass interference put Buffalo in an opportunity to steal the game last week at the buzzer.
Prediction: Eli will take better care of the ball this week, but moving the ball against this Carolina unit is no easy feat. I’ll go with the home team in this one, in another game that will come down to the 4th quarter for the Panthers. Manning 27-42, 330 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT. Carolina 23-21.
Upset Alert: St. Louis Rams @ Dallas Cowboys
Last Week’s Forecast: New Orleans Saints @ (+3.5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Bucs 34-31 W) (Saints 16-14)
Yet again an underdog covers in Tim’s Take, but this time we were denied full satisfaction thanks in large part to more Schiano Shenanigans in Tampa Bay. Let’s get a winner this week…
St. Louis winning this game wouldn’t be much of an upset in my book, but according to Vegas it would be. This has as much to do with the lack of confidence I have in Dallas as it does with a belief in the Rams. I do think St. Louis has a chance to contend for the second wild card spot this season, and if they are to do so, winning games like this is a must.
Prediction: Sam Bradford builds off a strong second half last week in Atlanta, and the Rams pass rush continues to give O-lines fits. (Especially an O-line as weak as the Cowboys unit). Rams 27, Cowboys 20
League of Opportunity Opportunist of the Week: Chris Ivory, RB, New York Jets
Last Week’s Forecast: Terrelle Pryor 20-32, 242 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT, 9 car, 81 yds, 1 TD (15-24, 176 yds, 0 TD, 0 INT)
This week’s pick will be a bit different than the past two. There’s not a lot of flash with this pick, it’s more of a hunch building upon last week. Ivory was brought into New York, for what was expected by many to be a workhorse role however that has not the case. Here’s why he’s my pick this week: I loved the way he ran, and finished his runs, last week @ New England – even though Bilal Powell stole a goal line carry, and he gets a pretty nice matchup with Buffalo’s run defense. The Jets have been surprisingly competitive so far on the young season thanks to a stout defense. If that is going to continue, they will need to rely on the ground game more. Chris Ivory is the man for that job.
Prediction: Playing at home I expect the Jets to come out with an increased commitment to the ground game. I doubt Rex looked at the offenses game film, but somebody probably did, and if they saw what I saw, they know Ivory needs more carries. Ivory 22 carries, 95 yards, 2 TD. Jets 17-13 W.
BY: Kyle K
With football season in full swing, I'm once again reminded at how a simple game of pigskin is slowed to a crawl by commercials. Despite not having the highest ratings every week, Sunday Night Football on NBC still demands the most per :30 second spot (mainly because the only things that advertise at that time are cars, beer, phones, and boner pills). With advertising for every little thing from the Old Spice Red Zone to the Mercedes Drive of the Week to Wonderbra Cheerleader Cam, you are flooded with ads for an entire broadcast. They all end up blending together into one giant mixture of beer pouring into the front seat of an SUV while Pit Bull sings terrible sounding side effects to you over a cell phone for thirty seconds. However, a few commercials have caught my eye recently, such as this Nike Ad challenging the viewer across multiple sports while being self-referential in honor of the Just Do It campaigns 25th birthday.
15. I’m gonna cheat on this one a bit and do one that has no sport being played or even mentioned throughout the whole commercial. However, I am also not going to do a list about commercials that doesn’t have Peyton’s five head on it somewhere. His MasterCard commercial takes the normal routine that we get up until “Priceless
” but instead of being something sentimental (seriously, 27 bucks for all that food? What stadium do they go to?) it is literally Peyton just making an ass of himself and being amazing at it. I mainly mention this so I can link to this fake commercial from when Peyton hosted Saturday Night Live
, arguably the best pre-taped sketch that show has done in the last ten years.
14. This next one is on the list not so much for its original version
, but more for the spinoffs
which got endlessly quoted by me in pickup games all the time. Due to this I got a lot of freakish looks, not because of my awkward jump shot but more rather like “Who the hell invited this kid?” and “Make sure we don’t pick him next time.” Long story short, this commercial reminds me that I don’t have friends and have to communicate to people through writing articles for a betting website. Jesus, that sounds sad once I type that out.
13. This next one is also kind of cheating because if combines a series of shorts, rather than one commercial. Reebok spent roughly a bazillion dollars to be the official apparel provider of the NFL and they realized that they had to sell more shirts. They looked around and saw the game that everybody plays, regardless of how much they know about the NFL, and decided that they needed to jump on this fantasy football bandwagon so that they can sell more shirts to those girls that always end up winning your league even though they draft solely based on the good looks of the players. I remember when these commercials came out and I had so many arguments about whether or not they were real. Seriously? Jason Campbell throwing accurately should have been your biggest clue as to how CGI’d these were.
12. For number twelve, I give you a blast from the past. The Bo Knows commercials aired before I was born but continued to air until after I sprung from my mother and into this world so I’ll allow this to be on the list. (I wasn’t alive during the famous Mean Joe Greene Coke commercial
so I’m not sure I can place it on this list since I’ve never seen it not on YouTube or other countdowns on television.) Bo Jackson was just a freak of nature in two sports while just missing the cut for the Olympic sprint team and picking up semi pro basketball in his spare time. Despite his Heisman trophy, his performance versus the Seahawks on Monday Night Football, his wall run catch with the Royals, this commercial will always be his legacy, along with a video game
which is partially awesome but partially sad. Regardless, all those athletes came together to sponsor another man’s shoe, showing the respect Bo had across the sports world.
11. As long as I am throwing old commercials that I don’t really remember but I know aired in my lifetime, I might as well mention Charles Barkley’s “I Am Not a Role Model” commercial . Good Lord this is a thing of beauty. The black and white makes his message more poignant in that people see grey (screw it, I’m no Scorsese
. I don’t want to try and explain why the director chose to do black and white but I’m sure there was some meaning). Sir Charles might be the dumbest person on television today
but I love him to death. This message was praised by politicians and turned Sir Charles into more of a controversial figure which is strange considering he dated Madonna, had a terrible gambling problem (wait, it's only a problem if you can't afford it), this golf swing
, and, despite not wanting kids to look up to him, was in Space Jam (which randomly had one of the better movie soundtracks of all time).
10. We reach the point on the countdown where I end up not really knowing how to rank these but rather just throw them up there based on how I feel whenever I start typing. So, next is a Nike campaign that I ate up. I really did. I even visited the website and followed the fake team (Once again, I do not have that many friends). I am talking about Nike’s “Briscoe High” commercials. I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for cameos especially when a few years later they don’t make any sense *cough* Matt Leinart
*cough*. This commercial was great because of all the famous people gathered around the shoot. Imagine being the actor having to lineup at the coin toss across from Urlacher, Vick, and Polamalu? They tower over the normal high school kids. My biggest complaint about these is that no way a team led by Vick and Tomlinson score that few points versus a high school team while being coached by Don Shula and Urban Meyer. On a side note, Nike really hit a home run with its Gridiron campaign that year between these spots filled with famous faces juxtaposed with this one filled with no faces
at all. (that commercial literally gives me goose bumps).
9. This next commercial ranks highly because of the stories that came from the commercial set. This commercial is my favorite of Tiger Woods’ roughly half a million ads. Between him and Peyton, I bet they have been involved in at least twenty percent of sports related commercials over the past decade. Supposedly, they had a completely different commercial planned for this shoot but Tiger just began bouncing the ball on the club to pass the time between takes. The director saw this, filmed it happening, and got this ad after two takes proving once again that whenever Tiger messes around, it’s incredibly entertaining for the general public
8. While we are mentioning over the top Taiwanese animation (really..make sure you watch the link listed above the last video), I have to put the most over the top sports commercial ever on this list - Terry Tate: Office Linebacker. What blows my mind is that this commercial aired during the Super Bowl in 2003. A giant man cussing and killing people on television aired during a Raiders game. I’m surprised Al Davis didn’t sign him at the half. I cannot really concentrate while writing this because I keep laughing at the video. This thing is just flat out funny and I praise Reebok for putting two commercials on this list despite being in the midst of Nike consistently dominating with its ad campaigns.
7. This next commercial - Nike Freestyle Rhytm - makes this list for several reasons:
- The sheer simplicity of this is beautiful. No fancy backgrounds, no special effects, just the players showing skills.
- It shows Rasheed Wallace getting a technical in a commercial.
- This. If your ad gets so ingrained in a culture that it is spoofed in a pretty popular film, you know you made it.
6. Along with getting spoofed in a Hollywood production, getting a t-shirt with your slogan on it sold in nearly every MLB stadium means you made it as well. Of course, I’m talking about the Chicks Dig the Longball commercial, which has a Rocky montage, Greg Maddux being super nerdy, Tom Glavine not being able to hit off a tee, and capitalizes on the late 90’s syringe powered home run fest (even the McGwire billboard coincidentally mirrors the famous Sports Illustrated steroids cover
). This commercial is immensely funnier fifteen years later because we all know that no chicks would be digging Mark McGwire’s tiny steroid balls.
5. This next one rides my freedom boner
into the top five. In 2008, the United States realized that we are the best at basketball and nobody should be able to touch us after forgetting the fact that we invented the game and are quite frankly better than everyone else at it. This commercial got us caring about invoking our will on other nations by using Marvin Gaye’s superb rendition of the Star Spangled Banner
over highlights from the practices of Team USA to create a masterpiece. I love this commercial, this version of our anthem, this country, and my freedom boner. If you don’t, then you’re a commie terrorist
4. My number four spot requires me to cheat quite a bit. This ranking goes to SportsCenter commercials. I could easily make a list of the top commercials promoting ESPN’s flagship show and how they are incredibly quotable, ingrained into the average sports fan mind, are consistently funny, and have such a high bar set for them and consistently meet the expectations. No single one can crack my top three but if I could group them all together, then they’d easily be number one. Here are a few of my favorite ones:
3. I am going to group two commercials together since after watching both of these commercials, I have to get up and work out. The Excuses commercial and The Jogger, both done by Nike, are flat out amazing. Both have surprise twists. Both inspire. Both go against the normal commercial that has a famous person holding up a product and smiling into the camera
(this makes me cringe). Both only have one person on camera. And finally, both are short, sweet, and direct. Both of these commercials deserve awards.
2. Making a list like this and not having Michael Jordan on it would be sacrilegious. Thus, I saved his best one for my number two spot. This commercial is part Nike Gridiron (#10) and part Nike Exercise (#3). This commercial doesn't make me want to watch a Jordan highlight tape, or the aforementioned Space Jam, but rather to lace up my shoes and hit the gym. It inspires. Flat out. It is so sad watching MJ waste his commercial appeal on Hanes when he was in so many classics for companies like McDonalds
, and more Nike
1. This will be a controversial selection because of the sport featured because I know that none of the people reading this will care about soccer at all, but the best sports commercial of all time is without a doubt Nike’s Take It To The Next Level. I could do a list of just soccer commercials from Europe because nearly every one made in the last decade or so are fantastic. From this recent one
, to ones from the last World Cup
(which is strangely Roger Federer’s best commercial
) to earlier in the century
. Even here in the States, we can churn out a good Soccer ad
. However, the Take It To The Next Level one is just so different than anything we as fans have ever seen before. The first person point of view, the acknowledgement of the lower leagues (which is fantastically spoofed by the English Football Association
), the behind the scenes of the games, the practice, the internationals, the fame, and the dozens of stars in this commercial that even the most novice soccer fan will recognize (Rooney, Ronaldo, and Ronaldinho). This commercial is so different that it has no choice but to be number one.
I’m sure that I forgot a bunch of good ones. Feel free to add your favorites in the comments. This list is by no means perfect and I would love to hear other opinions.
Tampa Bay did it again. They snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. They played New Orleans toe-to-toe and lost the game on a last second field goal (just after missing a FG that would've extended the lead to 4). When Tampa Bay fans aren't complaining about the Adrian Clayborn penalty
, they're blaming HC Greg Schiano
for the loss. This team has potential. They've got a competent QB and a hard hitting defense, they just need to put it all together. The Dashon Goldson suspension won't help...Though it's not his fault, Steven Jackson's reunion with the Rams (touted as the match up to watch in Tim's Take) was a big let down as he suffered an injury after only four touches for eight yards & one TD.
High Alert: The New England Way
I called out the Eagles and AFC North as Pretender's in last week's Bulletin
. Philly's defense looked highly suspect in a home loss to San Diego while the AFC North just happened to be playing each other. The Ravens topped the Browns in unimpressive fashion while the (decent) Bengals beat the Steelers soundly, fighting included. So far, still pretenders.
I struggled to decide whether to list the Redskins as disappoints or pretenders. I came to the conclusion that RGIII is an unjustified disappointment (Blame AP for setting the bar so high) and the Redskins are flat out pretenders. The offense is shoddy and the defense is non-existent (dead last so far). In an effort to get any kind of spark, there is talk over benching RGIII in favor of Kirk Cousins while RGIII continues to get mentally and physically 100%. After all, isn't that what a back up QB taken highly in the draft as an insurance policy is for?
High Alert: Indianapolis ColtsContenders
Seattle makes a big step forward towards claiming the top spot in the NFC (and NFL?) defeating the 49ers soundly Sunday night. However, I still think this team's downfall will be in their scheduling (almost all their quality opponent games are on the road) and that San Fran will win the division. Again, still saying that whoever wins this division wins the NFC.
Side Bar: I have a friendly wager going on whether or not Anquan Boldin puts up 1000 yards receiving this season. Thankfully he doesn't face Richard Sherman every week.
High Alert: Miami DolphinsGood Reads
Each video or article will take you 2 minutes or less to finish; you're welcome.
Tim’s Take got off to a great, good, eh, ugly effort in Week 1. The great was Atlanta @ New Orleans, where we correctly had the Saints by 6. The good was the Steelers on upset alert against Tennessee. We hit it, but not out of the park – as I predicted the Titans would cover the spread but in a losing effort (of course, they won 16-9). We’ll take a double off the wall. The ‘eh’ was Steve Smith v Richard Sherman. I was 2 for 2, with Smith reeling in 6 catches, and was close on his yardage (off by 20), but the problem was not much of that was against Sherman. With Brandon Browner out the Panthers were able to keep their playmaker away from the ‘Hawks top corner throughout much of the game. The ugly without a doubt was our first ‘League of Opportunity Opportunist of the Week’, David Wilson. The only opportunity Wilson was involved in was creating one for Da’Rel Scott (NYG 3rd stint RB). Wilson put the ball on the turf twice in 7 touches, losing both. Yikes.
After some careful study in the film room to correct our mistakes, here’s what we’re looking at in week 2: Game of the Week
: San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle SeahawksLast Week’s Forecast: ATL @ NO: Saints 34-28…. (Saints 23-17 W)
This one is pretty obvious after one glance at week 2’s slate. These teams went toe-to-toe for the 2012 NFC West Division crown, and 2013 is shaping up to be no different. You can throw out last year’s meeting in San Fran as Alex Smith was still under center for the 9ers, and in a lot of ways the week 16 matchup in Seattle as well, where the ‘Hawks embarrassed the eventual division winners 42-13.
It’s no secret Seattle (-3.5) is really good, and really hard to beat at home. In no stadium does the ‘12th Man’ play a bigger role. But if one thing stood out to me from Colin Kaepernick’s week 1 performance, was how much more poised he looked in season 2. Take away the read option; take away #7’s game, right? Not exactly. He looked like a seasoned vet willing to sit in the pocket delivering throws on point, which will make him nearly unstoppable. The acquisition of Anquan Boldin didn’t look half bad either, did it? ‘Q showed a burst that quite honestly we haven’t seen to this explosive extent since his Cardinals days. (Don’t believe me just look at his YAC/season)
Seattle had a ho-hum victory in Carolina, very similarly as they did in 2012. Russell Wilson impressed, but not much else did for the west coast squad traveling east other than the end result. Expect the Seahawks to come out hot in their home opener, and a much more efficient Marshawn Lynch this week.
Prediction: This game for me comes down to turnovers, and I’ll never go against Seattle in Seattle when it comes to the turnover battle. A hot start and ‘special’ special teams (I’m looking at you, Golden Tate) will make the difference in this one. Seahawks 27-23
Matchup to watch: Steven Jackson vs. St. Louis Defense
Last Week’s Forecast: Steve Smith vs. Richard Sherman; Smith- 6 catches, 73 yards, 0 TD (6/51/1)
After spending his first 9 season in St. Louis Steven Jackson won’t have to wait long to face his old team. Jackson didn’t look near the workhorse he once was last week, but then again the Falcons aren’t really looking for him to be. Still, whether players want to admit it or not, there’s always a little extra juice going against your former employer. Mike Smith and company realize that too, and I’d expect Jackson will be more heavily involved than he was in his 11 carry debut. His highlight came on a 50 yard scamper.
The Rams run defense (predictably) impressed week 1, in part because they are a solid unit but also in part because they hosted the Cardinals. The rushing attack of Arizona won’t put fear into an opponent this season; nonetheless the Rams held them to just over 3 yards a carry week 1. I won’t be surprised at all to see the Falcons try to force feed SJ39 carries, especially early, and certainly look to get him some touches down around the goal line.
Prediction: Jackson will have a nice day in a winning effort.19 carries, 81 yards, 1 TD, 5 catches, 54 yards, 0 TD. Falcons win 27-21.
Upset Alert: New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week’s Forecast: Tennessee Titans @ (-7.5) Pittsburgh Steelers (Titans 16-9 W)
I’m well aware the Buccaneers looked just as bad as any team in the league last week, given their opponent. After 2 delay of game penalties, one AFTER a timeout, 2 false starts, and a safety on their first two possessions of the season, you had to figure it couldn’t get any worse for the team. Wrong. More bonehead football and undisciplined coaching led to a last second defeat at the hands of the Jets.
So why do they have a chance this week? Two reasons: 1) the moves made in the offseason upgrading their secondary were made for matchups like this, and 2) there is no choice but to go with a more aggressive offensive game plan. Very bland, conservative football is the reason the Jets stuck around for 60 minutes last week, and I’d expect Schiano and Co. would realize that won’t fly against the Saints. Throw in the fact it’s the home opener for the Bucs and a division rivalry, there’s reason to think this game will at least be decided in the 4th quarter.
Prediction: A 3.5 point dog at home, I’d expect Tampa to at least cover. Shoot, I’ll even one-up my correct, but conservative upset alert from last week, and say the Bucs pull it out. Once again, SHOW ME SOMETHING 5. Bucs 34, Saints 31
League of Opportunity Opportunist of the Week: Terrelle Pryor, QB, Oakland Raiders
Last Week’s Forecast: David Wilson 21 carries, 125 yards, 2 TD (7 carries, 19 yards, 0 TD, 2 fumbles lost)
Looking to rebound on the worst prediction in world history last week, I’m once again going with a pick that I don’t think is putting me too far out on a limb. Terrelle Pryor looked good on opening week. After starting in week 17 last year, Pryor was once again destined for a backup role in 2013. However Matt Flynn was unable to capitalize on the job (sound familiar?). Making his first start in Oakland, Pryor couldn’t have hand picked a better opponent. After looking completely uncompetitive in week 1, there’s little reason to think that will change this week for Jacksonville. Pryor put up a serviceable stat line at Indy: 19-29, 217 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 13 rushes, 112 yards, and had a chance to lead the Silver and Black on a game winning drive in a matchup nobody gave them a chance.
Prediction: I expect TP to build upon this performance that he self-proclaimed as “awful”, and get the Raiders their first win of 2013. Not saying much against Jacksonville, but for Oakland they will take any win they can get. Pryor 20-32, 242 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, 9 rushes, 81 yards, 1 TD. Raiders 31-13.
Pittsburgh seemed to be the biggest disappointment of Week 1 while San Fran and Green Bay are who we thought they were. Some things certainly haven't changed though, as the Chargers choked away a huge MNF lead yet again. I'm curious which group of fans are the most upset right now, the Steelers, Bucs, or Chargers fans. Losing multiple key players (and the game), losing to the Jets, and blowing huge leads on National TV are all pretty unsettling.
Now, I know AP had an awesome first carry, but what the hell was with his performance the rest of the game?! To get 78 yards on the first carry and not even break 100 for the game? Sure, he put up 3 TDs but for a guy that said he'd go for 2500 yards this year, this one gets marked with a frowney face.
Another disappointment in my mind was RGIII. I'll attribute most of the let down to his Superman persona but this was not a satisfactory performance for most fans. You can't expect him to be perfect after coming off an ACL injury and not playing a single snap in the preseason, but being completely and totally inept in the first half really surprised me.
Last but not least, David Wilson. Slotted as the most recent Opportunist of the Week in Tim's Take
, David Wilson shit the bed. There really is no other way to put it and I simply feel bad for the kid. Seven carries for nineteen yards and two fumbles is no way to claim the top RB spot. Unfortunately, this let down isn't new for Wilson, having had a similar performance last season. Good luck kid, keep your chin up and try, try again.
Chip Kelly made a successful NFL debut. Though the first half was pretty stunning, I ultimately do not see a lot of success for Chip Kelly's offense as long as all of his players play like bone heads. Michael Vick simply can't make the quick and intelligent decisions necessary to run Chip's offense for 16 weeks while talented but undisciplined players like DeSean Jackson will continue to excite but ultimately be a liability. Learn to protect the damn ball!
However, I can harp on DeSean Jackson's flaws til the cows come home, but the real flaw to the Eagles will be lack of resiliency. Michael Vick is still going to get hit, the team can't control and kill clock, and the play frequency will cause mistakes like you saw on the first series. Vick says that they only unveiled 60% of the offense on Monday night. You already saw some of the mistakes and inaccuracies, will the other 40% overwhelm him? The best cure for a gimmicky offense is a punch in the mouth, we'll have to see how the Eagles fare as the season wears on against more capable defenses than the Redskins. However, I seem to be one of the minority skeptics; Vegas moved the Eagles Super Bowl odds from 60-1 before Monday night to 25-1 this morning.
There are two ways to look at the AFC North. If you're a fan of one of those teams, you're optimistic, thinking "Hey, we are tied for first." If you are an outsider, you are probably thinking this division could end up being the weakest in the NFL. Starting off 0-4 as a division is not good. The injury bug is biting some of the better teams in this division while Brandon Weeden is redefining inept. The AFC North faces the NFC North and AFC East, both more formidable divisions than the AFC North which should contribute heavily to the division's loss column. In the end, I see the Bengals finding their way to the top of this pile of mediocrity.
Soooo, Peyton Manning's neck is fine. Should we expect the Broncos to steamroll their way to an 19-0 record? Maybe. Their defense is alright, but vulnerable. However, you have to wonder if that really matters? What the Broncos did on Thursday was no fluke, it was systematic. So, sure, a better offense than the Ravens could score more and spell the defense, making them a little more capable of stopping Denver's offense. The question to ask is, "What happens when Peyton has a bad game? What happens when he plays in cold weather again?" The real thing to wonder is if it might actually be beneficial to not have to play the AFC championship game in Denver. It's a little early obviously, but Peyton's record in games played under 45 degrees is horrible.
Luckily, Peyton plays in the AFC. The defenses in the AFC just aren't as physical as those in the NFC. Most likely, any team facing the Broncos in the playoffs will be offensive minded. Let's look at the top two teams in each AFC division as potential candidates to disrupt the Broncos march to the Super Bowl. The Bengals and Ravens both play solid defense, but we've already seen Denver handle Baltimore. The Bengals play a good brand of defense, but they don't strike fear into anyone. Looking at the AFC East, the Patriots don't have the defense to stop Denver and the offense isn't gelled yet. You're guess is as good as mine for who the second team is in that division, none of which would stump the Broncos. The Texans don't really have a "shoot out" offense and the Colts were just challenged severely by the Raiders.
So, that leaves us with the Chiefs? Well, that's not the longest shot when you look at it. It's very difficult to beat a team three times in one year and the Chiefs certainly have the defensive names to match up with Denver. Tamba Hali and Justin Houston can get after the QB while Flowers, Smith, Berry, Robinson, and Lewis make up a very elite secondary that (if meeting in the playoffs) will have seen Denver in action first hand twice very near the postseason. Perhaps it's the homer in me, but if I were Denver, I'd much rather face teams like Houston or New England, than Kansas City.
San Francisco has a real quarterback. He isn't a "read option QB," he is a passer and a leader. Their defense has teeth and their bark has bite. I know that head coach Jim Harbaugh has been taking to the media to bemoan the targeting of his quarterback. Some may say it's childish and whiney; I think its gamesmanship at it's finest. When Phil Jackson complains to the refs during a playoff series so that his players can get a few more calls when going to the rim, he is called a Zen Master. Why can't that strategy be used in the NFL?
Obviously, the Seahawks are the 49ers biggest threat. In truth, whoever wins the division will win the conference. I don't see either team losing at home to the other and that'll hold true when they meet in the playoffs. As mentioned in the NFC West Preview
, I think the 49ers take the division given favorable scheduling.
Stay tuned for Week 2, it should be fun. Leave your comments, questions, and complaints below!
It's that time of year again. The MLB All-Star break is over and for Kansas City residents that means only one thing..
It's time to start planning for Fantasy Football season! Maybe you pick up three different Fantasy Football magazines and DVR every segment on ESPN and NFL Network. Or, maybe you auto-draft. Either way, this probably isn't your first rodeo. Perhaps your league already has it's Ruxins, Rafis, Jennys, and Tacos and IDP
is a dirty yet exciting acronym you toss around each year. Or, maybe, your league is in shambles and your looking to regroup. Either way, we're here to help. Let's get started.
Why do you play fantasy football? Is it to keep in touch with friends? Is it to show of your football knowledge? Either way, you ALWAYS want to play for something, and not just for the first five weeks. It's important to keep people motivated, either through shame or monetary incentive. I highly recommend a double entry fee for the league loser. Figure out a strategy that will best suit the persons in your group to help sustain a competitive season.
The size of your fantasy football league has big implications. I've never played in a league above 12 people. I've done a 10 person 2 QB league and that was pretty intense. Anything below 8 is garbage. Hopefully you've figured out that you shouldn't have odd numbered leagues, most hosts won't even allow it and it just makes scheduling a real bitch. It's important to remember that the free agent pool needs to retain enough talent so waiver wires & mid-season moves matter! My suggestion? 12 teams. Armchair All Stars will be taking on two random fans to join our league this year to round us out to that number.
When should they start? How many teams should get in? Everyone knows that Week 17 is a nightmare for fantasy football. You should have your Super Bowl on Week 16. Given the 12 team league size, you should let six teams into your playoffs meaning the playoffs occur in Weeks 14 and 15. Further, some leagues will let you have a toilet bowl, do it. Bragging rights and shame are great motivators in the right circles. In deciding the playoff format, you also need to look at divisions. I recommend three divisions of four teams. Each division winner gets in, followed by three wild cards. Be sure to randomize the divisions in the beginning.
In a 12 team league, I recommend [1 QB, 2 WRs, 2 RBs, Flex, TE, Def, K]. Yes, there are 32 starting QBs so you could have 2 QBs in your lineup, but that is pushing the limits.Try it, but know it'll make things a lot more difficult. While we are on the topic of restricting numbers, the size of the BENCH should also be regulated. If you allow too many people to ride the pine, you'll drive yourself crazy. I like to think you should allow one spot per position (QB, RB, WR, TE, K, D) for a grand total of 6 bench spots (maximum). You can be more strict if you want to make things tougher. Definitely don't introduce Keeper Settings to your league if it's a young one. For me, I always enjoy starting from scratch each year. But what about IDPs? Leave them be. Do you really want to be kicking yourself over which D-Lineman you didn't start? C'mon. Stick with Team D/ST.
"PPRs? PPRs? I'm barely sure of who to take with my first round pick!?" Well, here is a hint. PPRs make WRs more valuable (shocking, I know). Its a style of play that's come about with all the push towards passing in the real NFL. I've never done it but we are going to try it in the AAS league. As for the basic scoring structure, ESPN standard is definitely the way to go. However, b
e careful what quirks you add. I thought it'd be cute to add a 20pt bonus for 60 yard field goals until I ended up facing David Akers in Week 1 last year. Let me tell you, it was adorable!! I do suggest you tinker with the Kicker points though. Any misses under 35 should carry a three point penalty. I HIGHLY recommend using decimal places. Every yard counts in football and it should count in FF. There's nothing like sweating out the last series in a MNF game because if the QB kneels three times, you'll lose by a 1/10th of a point. Extra Takeways
There are a few other settings you should look into. Restrict the amount of roster moves that can be made, or institute a trade deadline. Nobody likes a cereal drop/adder and every league has someone who will try and sell his team for a cut of the prize. A lot of people have issues with Waiver Wire settings, but its a better method for keeping the playing field level. Another thing we never touched on was an Auction draft
. This method allows everyone to have a shot at any pick. It takes a lot more maintenance but those that have tried it live by it. It's certainly not a great method for beginners. AAS Fan Sweepstakes
In a few weeks, AAS will hold a few contests to draft two readers into our AAS League. The fans will have their entry fee waived (but can still win) as well as the opportunity to blog about the experience and join in all our weekly discussions. Stay tuned for more details.
BY: Bryce; Leave your comments, questions, and most likely complaints in the section below!