Football-less Sunday #1

Yup. The eerie and gloomy world has surfaced from the ugly depths of football fans hell and millions around the globe are grieving or try to cope with the sudden change of atmosphere that leads them to a great deal of shock. Football fans, beware! The off season’s here and the Patriots with their awkward and arrogant fan base are on top…
Most people from the sensible parts of the world will claim that Super Bowl LI was an epic defensive meltdown from the Falcons that basically threw the Lombardi trophy away…
Few crazy groups will call Tom Brady The Goat and give him all the credit for dissecting absolutely worn out Falcons D like he was some sort of demigod… He ain’t but I won’t waste my time here on writing about him or his “goatness“.
Just a bit from Super Bowl box score…
Matt Ryan‘s passer rating: 144.1
Tom Brady‘s passer rating: 95.2
.
There… The whole idea of QBs win and such is just a silly narrative that sells the news…

Anyways… I’m not really sure what I am going to fill my Sundays here with but I’m pretty sure I can find something to write about that won’t interest only me.

I should really start with reviewing Colts disappointing campaign but I actually have tried to write something about it and it took me nowhere. I mean there were shockers at the end as Jim Irsay finally sacking Ryan Grigson and sudden departure of Pat McAfee who decided to go all comedian on us but it is hard to get excited about such a disappointing season.

Perhaps looking forward to new Colts GM picks in the draft and possibly FA would be interesting but I don’t think I’m good in this areas so this week I should leave it as it is and ask you one big question:

How do you survive football off season???. Leave me your coping ways in the comment section and take care!

NFL Season Standings – Crystal Ball Edition.

I won’t manage to dissect every teams’ season here but I think I have a pretty good idea where the said teams are likely to stand (or be seated after a defeating beating) at the end of the season so we will have a look at the order of the teams without looking to deep into the season records and scores. Off we go!

(Teams in bold- playoff berth).

AFC East

Patriots – Jets – Dolphins – Buffalo 

AFC West 

Broncos Raiders – Chiefs – Chargers 

AFC North 

Steelers – Ravens – Bengals – Browns 

AFC South 

Colts – Jaguars – Texans – Titans 

NFC East

Giants – Eagles – Redskins – Cowboys 

NFC West 

Seahawks  Cardinals – Rams – 49ers

NFC North 

Packers Vikings – Bears – Lions 

NFC South 

Panthers – Saints – Buccaneers – Falcons 

Yes. I think I’m content with my selection considering I have only watched like 4 quarters of pre season action across 3 different weeks. Thing is in few cases it’s going to be very close and any injuries, suspensions and the likes will throw things up side out lol

I would like to hear your choices for playoff teams gals and gals so leave me a comment please!

Football’s back (sort of)! Four painful weeks of projections ahead.

With the Hall of Fame game way behind us and four weeks of painful pre-season semi action on the field ahead of us, it  the best time to point my fingers at four teams that have the most to lose in the coming season and which are more likely to blow it a big time during the course of the coming Autumn and Winter.

Let’s get picking , in no particular order, two AFC and NFC teams that will disappoint their fans the most in 2016.

  • Seattle Seahawks (NFC)- 

With Pete Carroll extended through 2019, there’s no less expectations than to try to repeat Super Bowl XLVIII but the Hawks are going to fail yet again.

They were granted two ‘extra lives’ in last two seasons, first by the Packers, throwing the NFC Championship away despite Russell Wilson doing whatever he can to lose that game. Last year the Vikings kept the game close thanks to their kicker and failed to capitalise on poor Hawks’ game thank to the same kicker.

Expectations will be high to return to the Super Bowl but the window here has closed a while ago. Why the fans won’t understand that?

New England Patriots (AFC)-

Tom Brady is suspended for four games, he then returns, rallies the Pats with short slants to Gronk into the playoffs and slowly fades away into retirement as his body can’t keep this nonsense up.

The Pats are always the team to beat in AFC and always high on list of favourites but this time around there’ll be one qb sneak too many for Tom to shake it off. While the Pats have some great pieces (Gronk, Hightower, Collins) it is time to just become mediocre.

* Kansas City Chiefs (AFC)- 

No. Nope. Manning-less Broncos have nowt to prove or keep the hype up, despite deadly defence. The Chiefs though… They have the hype of going from 1-5 to 11-5 and shutting out Texans in Wild Card to live up to, just to lose by a possession to the Pats.

With Charles, hopefully in 100% health mode and last serious hurrah to give his fans and some deadly pieces of the defensive team (yes, looking at you, Mr. Houston) this team is poised to make a lot of noise and to finish off quietly somewhere out there where no one looks past half January.

  • Carolina Panthers (NFC)- 

Well. It has already begun. Cam Newton imploded during the Super Bowl 50 and then sunk to the bottom shortly after. The Panthers gave up the rights of Josh Norman without even trying to get a compesation. The signs are here really.

Given the fact that Panthers had a fairly easy schedule ride last season the 15-1 record doesn’t really resemble the true value of the team which is bound to just carry on the implosion started by Newton in February. Poor fans, eh?!

And like that I have put another football- less Sunday to bed. Personally I’m going for Colts vs Packers in Super Bowl as both, Rodgers and Luck will be looking to put their 2015 misery deep in the ground.

What do you guys think? Let me know and until next week. Keep well.

ALL STATISTICAL DATA PER http://www.pro-football-reference.com 

NFL Sunday Game Day is still 18 weeks away!

image

18! Whole 18! Given Payton Manning’s departure this season it could be quite cool to do a little feature about his lows and highs and let him shine one more time as we prepare to see him coming back to NFL world in a different role, perhaps an owner, or a tv pundit. Time will tell.
This week I’ll just happily rumble through some odd statistics and see if I can find something quirky about the Number 18.
Let’s begin, “Did you know that?”

  • Peyton will be most known for his passing yardage and an incredible amount of touchdown passes he tossed to many receivers but did you know that The Number 18 finished his career with 18 rushing touchdowns in reg season? His career longest touchdown rush attempt was a 33 yarder against the Bills in 2001.
    Here’s that beauty:
    http://youtu.be/V_9NXO3Gjx8

The Sheriff also added three more rushing touchdowns in the post season. His last play off rushing touchdown dates back to 2006, while his very last rushing touchdown occurred in 2013 while playing as the Bronco and remains his only one for that franchise.

  • There were two seasons in Peyton’s career when he ended up with 18 sacks total in 2003 and 2013, making it evenly split between the Colts and Broncos tenures. His lowest amount of sacks in a season was 10 in 2009 (the age caught up with Peyton as in his last season where he missed 6 games he was sacked over 10 times); the highest total number of sacks the defenders lied on The Sheriff was 29, and dates back to 2001.

  • With plenty of passes comes the risk of turnovers and Manning encountered 3 seasons with over 18 picks thrown. Highest in one season stands at 28 when he was a rookie. And lowest and the only time he stayed below two digit amount of interceptions thrown is 9, and he accomplished the feat in 2006 season.

  • 2015 year was the only year when Peyton tasted playing a game as a back up and the only season (bar his missed one in 2011) when he did not reach 18 TD passes in a season In every other of his seasons he never finished below at least 26 passing touchdowns.

  • And just to top it all up with some oddities Manning has one receiving pass for minus 2 yards to his name and the best thing of it is that he threw it to himself. I’m not sure how but some quarterbacks are like that. Peyton also got halfway to 18 tackles in his career by finishing with nine total tackles.

And there is not going to be any more of record braking, book rewriting opportunities. Just a long and well deserved retirement and for me, another killed Sunday, meaning were one week closer the the NFL Fever to come down upon us. Keep well peeps!

ALL STATISTICAL DATA PER http://www.pro-football-reference.com 

Super Bowl 50 – The Jitters.

image

I don’t expect many (if any) players that will take part in the biggest show on Earth to have any pregame jitters but I do know that I will be having plenty of them.
My season finished ages ago with Andrew Luck injuries since beginning of the season but since I have a little bit of a sweet spot for Peyton Manning’s accomplishes and the legacy he’ll leave behind him, I’d love to see him riding into the sunset with another ring on his finger. Two is a great little number and it fits many narratives well. Hence. I’ll be all jittery.
This is almost like a Hollywood blockbuster. The David vs Goliath point of view. The classic vs modern point of view. The old vs young narrative. You can, if you want to, (although I don’t recommend it) make it even a racial narrative. The problem with it all is that despite all the talk of quarterbacks it takes 22 men plus some substitutes to deliver the result. The quarterback might be the Braun of the offence but it takes the defensive minds to confuse the generals.
It all isn’t as simple as Manning vs Newton although the story line is one for the movies. I’ll be rooting for Denver because I want Manning to win and I want them to take him where he can hoist the Lombardi Trophy once more; but he’ll be facing his demons whilst Newton will be trying to prove he has none that he fears.
Ultimately both men will need plenty of assist from their teammates to get where they want and I really don’t know how they are going to achieve that but my guess is, the Broncos will do their best in tiring Newton out, while the Panthers will try to bite quickly and control from then on. If Carolina stalls on the offence I think they’ll do anything to can to dare Peyton to go deep, as Indy did last year in playoff, and count on mistakes or quick three and outs which will ultimately tire out the Bronco’s pass rush.
I don’t think Denver has anything that the D as their plan A, B, C and even D. The run game struggled most if the year, passing game has been awful at times. If it wasn’t Peyton struggling then it was his receivers dropping the balls. I can see why the Panthers are heavy favourites. They have explosive offense and their defence is up there with the best ones.
Perhaps health of the both squads will be important to the final outcome. On Denver we have both safeties with some injuries from AFC Championship Game, both listed as probable and ready to go but it takes only one wring tackle, jump etc to go back to the locker room. With Panthers you have the linebacker Thomas Davis who is planning to play the game two weeks after fracturing his firearm and having surgery that resulted in a plate and 12 screws attached. How is it allowed for him to play? I’m not sure but at the end of the day it is his life, no matter how stupid I think it is to play in such state.
I’m not inside there. I don’t even pretend to know football. I just like having a discussion about, but having no one to discuss it with, hence the typing here. Given the lack of data of games played between these two teams it ius really hard to predict anything. Looking at their regular season games it is hard to miss 15-1 record that Panthers put on the resume, especially with Broncos 12-4 but the Panthers faced only 4 teams that ended the 2015 season with winning record and their best victory came against 10-6 teams. They did manhandle the Cardinals in the NFC Championship but I’m not sure how much of that was down to the Cardinals “stage fright”. Broncos on the other hand faced 7 teams with winning record two that had 12-4, and that were pivotal games for their seeding.
One odd team that stands out is the Colts who served Broncos their first loss of the season, only week apart after nearly upsetting Panthers on their turf only to cough it all up in OT. Not much to read into it beside the fact, that Panthers struggle with finishing while Broncos do hang about.
If the Bronocs D slaps Carolina’s offense from the go there is a big chance that Denver will pull this win off despite not being favoured by so many. But if the Bronocs offense has to chase the Panthers it is going be something like 31-13 for Panthers with the game decided in first quarter or at worst first half. If it is all in the balance after the half time show, then last dying effort of McManus and 21-20 win for Broncos should ease off Manning’s pain of losing in earlier games in Indianapolis where Vanderjagt simply didn’t hit it right.
But what do I know to predict Super Bowl 50 score??

Super Bowl 50 – 10 things you don’t need to know

image

With the Super Sunday upon us I thought it’d be fun to look for some quirky things that relate to the Super Bowl itself as well as people that’ll be involved in making us happy/angry(circle the appropriate) during the probably most watched event in history of the USA. Well at least in 2016. So let’s start this list to prepare us for some trivia during commercial breaks and the so obvious booth reviews and other usual occurrences.

1. Super Bowl 50’s referee will be Clete Blakeman, the same super cool dude who somehow botched the coin flip during the Cardinals-Packers game causing Aaron Rodger’s slight confusion. Be aware, he’ll be flipping too. It can get scary.
2. For the first time in history of NFL two quarterbacks taken with first overall draft pick will go against each other during the Super Bowl. Manning was no 1 in 1998, Newton was no 1 in 2011.
3. Cam Newton not only works hard on Sundays during football games. He continued to take classes at Auburn during off season periods and he finished his degree in sociology in 2015.
4. There is 60 beer taps on the east side of the Levi Stadium at the 50-yard line and if you are lucky to attend the Super Bowl 50 in person and overdo on beers, don’t worry. There is 1620 women’s and men’s toilet fixtures. Splash away!
5. Peyton Manning is the only quarterback in NFL history to lead multiple teams (Colts, Broncos) to multiple Super Bowl appearances.
6. The number of Wilson factories that make the footballs used during NFL game is one. They produce around 700000 football per year. The air pressure matter we will leave in capable hands of the NFL.
7. Super Bowl 50 will mark the occasion where there was the largest age difference between the starting quarterbacks in history of Super Bowl, with Manning at 39 and Newton 26 the exact difference will be 13 years and 48 days.
8. It is estimated that over 1.3 billion chicken wings will be devoured by the fans watching the game from their premium spots in their lounges in front of the TV. Oh, it is expected that over 1500 litres of beer will be needed to wash the wings with.
9. When not busy tackling opponents or intercepting footballs, Panther’s Luke Kuechly likes to hunt. Its been a life passion for him as he started bird hunting at the age of four.
10. What is it with the linebackers and birds? Bronco’s Von Miller found his niche while minoring at Texans A&M and it is chickens. He already got some chickens and Miller Farms is his little side project.

So here. 10 things I didn’t know about Super Bowl 50 until I thought about it a bit more and poked my nose around.
I think my most anticipated moment of the Super Sunday will be a coin flip…yes definitely. It would be also a very special coin flip if it end up being needed to decide first possession in overtime as there has not been a period of overtime in Super Bowl history(oh did I just made an 11th fact?).

My case for NFL MVP winner.

image

We have only a week left where we all can speculate, guess, voodoo wish or simply pray for “our” man to be named the NFL MVP. If our man isn’t there really (like in my case, my man’s kidneys hopefully healed by now) then we cheer for someone we hate the most to lose or for some we kinda like to win.
image

With everyone convinced that Cam Newton is gonna get the award as he truly deserves it, I’m still hoping that some else does. I just don’t think that Carolina’s 15-1 is really down to Newton’s arm and legs. I do think it was much more of a team effort than some people want to see, plus as a passer Newton’s numbers through the season were very good at the very best.
Anyways I started thinking who could be named the MVP (it is a shame that in most cases the award lands in a quarterback hands) and initially I thought, that actually there isn’t any best candidate than Newton really and I resigned myself to curse at invisible things just out of not having a point to make but then I read a bit more and Carson Palmer with his, second in the league 13-3 record Cardinals’, came to mind and given his age and the team he had lead this season, made me realise he should really get a nod at the award.
And even straight comparison numbers stack in favour of Palmer (since quarterbacks are likely to win this award, it is easy to compare them by numbers) so I had a deeper look at the numbers and tried to find a category in which Newton was better than Palmer.
image

Newton destroyed Cardinals gun in rushing attempts, yards and touchdowns but when it came to passing stats he was soundly beaten winning only in category of interceptions (10 to Palmer’s 11), longest past (74 to 68 yards and hardly important) and that’s it. They both were even in touchdown passes with 35. We already knew Newton is better running threat than Palmer but does it make it him an MVP???
I could list and list and lust many things but there are some clever people out there and I’m lucky to find them and learn from them. Ryan Michael from quarterbackscore.webs.com/qbs2 provides you with a great tool to assess quarterbacks from the same season as well as across different generations.
I won’t be boring you to death as to how his tool works (it is all explained in his website) but it simply takes all important QB rankings and throws a simple number at us to show who was the best. And in 2015 there was no better quarterback than Carson Palmer, Newton was ranked 9th a place behind Tyrod Taylor from the Bills (who in my opinion had a great year and should be kept as a starter).
So yes… Carson Palmer for the MVP! No I say though.
Antonio Brown should be awarded with the MVP as I think he had much bigger impact on his team’s performance than Newton or Palmer.
The Steelers started without their premier running back, then they got him back just to loose their elite quarterback just to get him back and then lose their running back for good and then coping again without their star quarterback.
image

I think due to huge impact caused by phenomenal season that Brown just accomplished (nearly setting NFL record in catches in a season), the Steelers were relevant all the way through. I mean the dude put 168 yards and 2 touchdowns against Bronco’s defense that had a hell of a year. Add to it 284 yards put against the Raiders that are 9th all the time received yards in a game and you can see how much buzz and positive vibes this fella was able to create within the locker room and you can’t put a number on something as chemistry or leadership or just at the fact that one must never give up.
I know there hasn’t been an wide receiver that was named MVP but I also know that changes are something that ius needed to take matters to another level.

NFL Players – Crazy or Indestructible?

nflprofootballtalk_thomas_davis_panthers.jpeg

nflproofotballtalk_thomas_davis

Hey. How would you feel couple of days after having a surgery on an arm you broke few days earlier? I’m guessing you’d want to a)rest, b)wanting more pain relief, c) showing off the arm to few mates while still taking care of it or d) go and play in Super Bowl?

Wrong, wrong, wrong. The obvious answer is D. How could you not willing to re-injure the said arm that now has 11-12 screws in and a steel plate there. I mean its obvious that in this day and age where everything has to be available this instance, even broken bones are expected to heal like in two days.
I mean, take a look at DNewtonespn Tweet
This is photo of Thomas Davis’ arm he injured during the NFC championship game, he already had the surgery, had some nice metal pieces installed and hey, he is ready to go to play in a brutal game (the one that led him here) because…
Well… My imagination runs short here. I mean I understand he is an elite sportsman who has overcome some really bad luck and became the first ever NFL player to come back to playing football after tearing his ACL three times in three years and it is all inspiring and great but boy, besides the risk of hurting it again (screws, plates can break too), playing with some limitation I assume it’ll take some serious pain relief dosage to get through this Super Bowl game and the fact is, if Carolina wins without him in the field that particular day, he’d still be world champion as he was part of the team that got here.
Is one more appearance and risking your health, perhaps even becoming a liability during said game that important? I suppose the players are only seen as sources of income for the owners and they just don’t see that a broken arm can take up to 12 weeks to heal properly. 12 not ‘nearly 2’.
Fame? Money? Proving a point? Indestructibly? Or craziness? Or perhaps I’m being a big softie…?
Regardless of your answer, if you would like to cheer on Davis during his recovery or appearance at Super Bowl his NFL jersey can be found here. Wear it proudly 😉

AFC Championship. The Aftermath.

image

“Hey listen, it might be my last rodeo. So it sure has been a pleasure.” These were Manning’s words to coach Belichick after his team Denver Broncos won the AFC Championship Game. An event that many lights were pointing towards and many people expressed their view of what would happen. Including me.
In my preview I predicted the Broncos to win after a play that would spark them to run away fairly safely against the Patriots, but it didn’t look like that at all.
Firstly, while watching the game I thought that The Play was the lateral pass Manning threw to Hillman who just didn’t seem to have energy to catch it. It was ruled incomplete, challenge flag dropped shortly after and since the Pats recovered the loose ball it was theirs and two plays later Brady threw a touchdown pass to tie the game.
And that was the moment when I thought the fortunes were playing their magic cards at the moment of that pass/fumble- challenge sequence. I thought this is the spark the Patriots needed and shortly after, Gostkowski missed his first PAT since 2006. The game wasn’t tied. It was 7-6 for Broncos and that missed play was going to be talked about a lot.
But in the meantime the game continued quiet stadium when Broncos were on offense, an absolute hell of noise when Brady was under the center. I think the relentless pass rush and the Bronco’s fans were too much to overcome and soon enough Brady got outsmarted on a play and threw the ball into Von Miller’s hands (who became the first player in post season to sack and puck Brady in the same game).
Manning got the ball and completed another touchdown pass to Daniels who caught his cover out with the same double move he had done when scoring first touchdown earlier.
New England answered with a field goal, then Brady forced a bad pass to avoid the rush and another interception but the Broncos offense stalled and it remained stagnant through most of the reminder of the game. The lead was 17-9 at halftime and since Belichick unusually decided to receive the ball in first half, the Broncos were reviving the ball to start the second half and it almost seemed that a little effort could get them another score to put more pressure on Brady and Co. but it didn’t happen.
There were plenty of punts two field goals, each team getting one and the gruelling, nail hitting end to fourth quarter when with over 6 mins to go the Pats got stopped on 4th down conversion when they were within field goal range. Decision many people said was coach Belichick mistake.
I thought it was a right call, I expected another QB sneak but Pats played a well designed and confusing play but got stopped. And then they got stopped again and eventually they had to give in and the score was 20-18 with seconds left to spare.
They needed two point conversion but Brady got intercepted again, and after unsuccessful onside kick recovery attempt by New England the AFC Championship Game was over. Just like that. Finished. A wave of relief went through my body and a tiny spark of hope that Manning still has a chance to retire (if he chooses to) at the top.
And no, that missed PAT didn’t cost the Pats the win. The game would flow slightly different if Gostkowski didn’t miss. But that’s not the point I mention it again.
It was shocking to me see how great abuse Gostkowski got from the “(pseudo?) fans” on twitter for missing the kick. I mean it’s just shocking.
I missed most of the Brady-Manning rivalry but some long standing fans probably watched every single game between the teams led by these two well skilled and accomplished players and if it was their last one, that’s not the wat to finish it.
With some pointless abuse typed out on twitter… I bet that none of those “internet warriors” would have the guts to do it to the kicker’s face.
It sure has been a pleasure to watch and read about the rivalry and this game was worth watching on this dull January’s Sunday in England.

NFC Championship. The Aftermath.

image

It’s ugly. It’s beautiful. It makes me numb. It makes me so full of buzz! One event and it can create such opposite emotions and feelings. NFC Championship Game wasn’t anything I expected. In my preview I did say Carolina would win but it was meant to be closer and the game was meant to be played gingerly. And to certain extent it was.
The problem with the cautious approach was that no one told the Panthers about how important the game was and how precious each possession if the ball was and it was essential to try to work out the opposition. That what it seemed the Cardinal’s plan was. Or perhaps they got eaten by a stage fright or the whole team came into this game unprepared.
Carolina on the other hand just did what they had been doing lately. Firing on all cylinders with no remorse or worrying about thee consequences. The problem I came across pretty quickly was that the Cardinals game plan really wasn’t matching Carolina’s.
First three offensive possessions of Arizona ended with a punt. On the other side of the field Carolina went field goal, touchdown and touchdown. And I started loosing the interest even before the matters just got out of hands for the Cardinals. Was it 7 times total? I think so.
Fumble after Palmer gets sacked leads to a defensive stand by the Cardinals and my interest creeps back in. I’m starting to hope that Arians guys are waking up realising the importance of the game, especially after the offense strikes back with a touchdown and it is still manageable 17-7 and with another defensive stand the Cardinals can be back in business but then moment of laps leads to muffed punt return and the Panthers get the ball back and turn it into 7 points few minutes later.
Nearing to half time, Palmer trying to lead a two minute drill to bring the deficit back and boom, he gets sacked and fumbles again! Thus time they get a break as Newton get intercepted shortly after and after an enormous effort by Peterson who gets the ball and returns in for 72 yards the Cardinals are in a striking distance of trying to keep their chances alive going into halftime, and whoops, Palmer throws first pick of the game.
Carolina start second half with a field goal but Arizona takes it steady for another punt and my focus on the game just completely drifted away. I felt sorry for Palmer and rest of his team mates but they really didn’t look like a second seed in NFC.
It was a very flat performance, almost lifeless before it got to the point where nerves and pressure must had been felt by players of Arizona (I guess here) and one mistake kept chasing another one.
On the other side of football field was a bunch of guys who seemed to enjoy the moment and knowing what to do and how. They followed their plan that was prepared to their strengths and they came out victorious. And it seemed like it was just an effortless formality, like putting a stamp on an envelope, or shaking old friends’ hand.
I really don’t know what the possible outcome of Super Bowl 50 might be but NFC Championship Game ended up being a total annihilation that Panthers delivered to Cardinals on a silver plate. The wounds will take long time to heal…