What We Know After Week 1

So the NFL season has begun and here are few things we learned about each team in week 1. We will start in the AFC.

The Baltimore Ravens are the same team they were a season ago with a better Flacco, but the question still looms. Can he win in the post season when it matters most?
The Steelers are going to be on the decline this year. They may have some young talent on offense, but the defense is aging. A playoff team, but a not a championship team.
Then there are the Bengals and Browns. The Bengals didn’t show much, but they played Baltimore so another week might show us more. Cleveland, if you don’t want to be the doormat this year, start Colt McCoy.

The Patriot defense might be better than they were given credit for, and Tom Brady is still one of the best quarterbacks in the game.
Mark Sanchez however isn’t. And NO he isn’t the answer. Sure he looked good against and underachieving Bills defense, and what happened to Ryan Fitzpatrick? Rex Ryan, you are not the “great coach” you deem yourself to be.
Despite throwing 3 interceptions Tannehill looked decent for the Dolphins. It might not be as miserable in Miami this season.

Despite losing week 1 the Jags didn’t look to bad. This week shouldn’t be so pretty. Against a tough Houston defense, and against an offense that unlike themselves can actually move the football.
The Titans could be in for a long season. Jake Locker will be good, but the growing pains may take a while.
Indianapolis maybe should have taken RG3. They should get better this season, but it may take a while.

Maybe the Colts shouldn’t have let Payton Manning go? The Broncos are glad they did because we saw that he is still Payton Manning. Watch out for Denver this season. In Kansas City Matt Castle has looked good unfortunately, the defense didn’t.
San Diego restored some hope after the disappointment of last year. Good defense and an improved Phillip Rivers could spell trouble for other AFC teams.
The Raiders are not the same Raiders from last year. They could have success if they would cut out all the penalties.

In the NFC we saw Atlanta put up 40 on KC. Matt Ryan looked like what we thought we would see last year. If the defense can hold up they will be tough.
The Buccaneers and Panthers weren’t that impressive. We need another week to see where they stand.
And New Orleans. Not the team from last year and don’t expect them to be. No running game will haunt them this season.

How about RG3. What a debut for a QB. The Redskins may not win any Super Bowl this year, but they very well could be a playoff contender with Robert Griffin III leading the way.
The Giants showed they won’t dominate this year. Probably another mediocre season and then a strong post-season.
The Eagles aren’t turning any heads. Michael Vick showed up for the last 5 minutes of the game or Cleveland could be 1-0. Another disappointing year in Philly.
A good start for Dallas. They actually ran well and Romo looked usual for the regular season, but there is more disappointment on the horizon Cowboys fans because Romo can’t do it when it matters most.

The niners took it to the Packers, but
Packers fans don’t fret just yet. No 15-1 this season, but you still have a playoff contender. Now after a week 2 loss to the hated Chicago Bears and newly acquainted tandem Cutler and Marshall, you might want to show concerns. The Bears could be legitimate if the defense can stay healthy all year.
Minnesota is 1-0, but they beat Jacksonville. The Vikings should be 2- 0 after playing Indianapolis this week. Against a good team though they will have to be able to throw, and that has yet to be seen.
Matt Stafford, like Vick, showed up at the end of the game. We will see which Lions show up next game and talk more about them then.

The 49ers are for real. The defense is good and the addition of Randy Moss helps them a lot. Unless Alex Smith just digresses then they are a real contender for a Super Bowl.
The Seahawks and Cardinals are both going to have issues this season. Seattle at QB and Arizona offensively in general. Both teams are in for sub-par years.
The Rams should be better under Sam Bradford. Not a playoff contender yet, but a team that could turn a few heads and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

A lot learned after week 1. It will be interesting to see what happens in the upcoming weeks and ill make sure to voice my opinion on what transpires.

Advertisements

The Changing Path of Football

It is once again the Christmas season, and a busy one at that. I have not posted a blog for a while so I figured while I finally have some time to write, I will write about change.

I do not mean the change of seasons or the weather. I also am not talking about life changes or the changes we face growing up. I am talking about the changing National Football League (NFL). I have never been a big fan of change. I understand that change is sometimes necessary, but I have the mindset if it isn’t broke don’t fix it. Do not question methods, question results.

The NFL has already implemented change, and is looking to change more. These changes I do not feel are in the best interest of the league nor the fans.
Why the changes? To protect players from injury. That is the main reason for all the changes being made in the NFL or at least being considered. Helmet to helmet contact and hitting a defenseless receiver are a couple of examples that have recently been injected as penalties. Not any of these rules benefit the defense at all, and a lot of times cost a defense 15 yards for something that more times than not was not intentional. The game moves fast and if you have never been on a field trying to dislodge a football, or trying to break up a pass you can not say, well they could stop or move in time. No they can not. In fact to try could cause serious injury to the defensive player in that situation. Worst of all is when a defender is already low to make a tackle, the offensive player slips and it causes the defender to hit the other players helmet. 15 yards tacked on and a first down for an unintentional hit while tackling. Is tackling not a major part if the game?How about a receiver being thrown a pass in the middle of the field and a safety coming and putting a big hit on at the same time the ball arrives to force an incompletion. That is good football and a great defensive play, but now its hitting a defenseless receiver. 15 yards and a first down. Is the point of defense not to make stops?

Concussions are a big issue in the NFL today. I understand that it is serious, but why are they a bigger concern now as oppose to twenty years ago? Is it that the violence of the hits has increased, or is it that technology is better now enabling doctors to understand the effects more than they could twenty years ago? There are many who argue both sides. I believe both have merit, but the latter of the 2 is more relevant in my humble opinion. Either way are they cases for changing a game built around collisions with each other?

The answer is no. Why? The game is not safer now than it was. These hits continue to happen regardless of penalties. Defense i no longer allowed to play defense. You just let them catch the ball and run before you can attempt to hit them. Most of all and this stands to me above all others. It is a contact sport. This is becoming a dirty word in the NFL. The game is based around tackling and contact. That being said a player should understand that with any sport there is a risk of getting injured. The players know that risk before stepping on the field, and if a player does not like it then they should not play.

On to what changes the NFL is looking at making. No kickoffs. What? More players get injured on kickoffs according to the league. A lot of games are won and lost on special teams. One of the most exciting plays and momentum changers is the kickoff return for a touchdown. Lets take that out along with contact. Now you have pansy-ball instead of football. I would not watch that anymore. The NFL is also considering expanding the playoffs. I realize this is mostly a money thing, but come on, a team with a loosing record should not be in the playoffs. Expanding the playoffs would make that more likely. This also makes me think about little leagues and pee wee football. Give the kids a trophy for participating. You give a kid something for not accomplishing anything and you add to the downfall of society. Giving something for nothing does not teach hard work and sacrifice. It teaches that laziness is acceptable and you get something for nothing. Minnesota Viking defensive linemen Jared Allen said it best by making comments to the affect that all their games count, and you have to work your tail off to get in the playoffs. Expansion would allow teams to say oh we can lose and still make it we do not have to win this week. That is terrible. Allen is against the expansion for the record.

The NFL is on an ever changing road and I fear not for the better. I almost feel that in a few years, sooner than later, we will not even recognize a game we love to watch and get excited about. Something has to be done to preserve the game as it has and should be played. With contact and tackling and defense and kickoffs. If it is not soon we will see the Quarterback wearing a red practice jersey and no one can touch him. Not the football I know and love. The players understand the risk of injury they take when they suit up. Football is a contact sport and should stay that way.

Notre Dame “Relevant” Once Again

On November 13, 1993, the Seminoles of Florida State with their #1 ranking would travel to South Bend to take on The 2nd ranked Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. It was described as the game of the century and it lived up to its billing. The Irish would win 31-24 propelling them to #1, but that would only last a week, the Irish were upset by Boston College on a last second field goal by the rival Eagles. That was the last time Notre Dame was ranked #1. The last time Notre Dame was called “relevant”. The last time until now.

It is nearly 2 decades since the Irish have been “relevant”, and nearly a quarter of a century since they last won the National Championship (1988). The funny thing is I was 3 in 1988 and 7 in 1993 and I remember my dad cheering in 88. I remember cheering in 93. I remember where I was and what happened during that game, and the disappointment a week later. I have been a Notre Dame fan all my life, and after the Lou Holtz era at Notre Dame it was rough being an Irish fan. I do not believe in bandwagoning. You have a team and you stick with them through good times and through bad. At last it is good times again as the Irish are a win away from playing for the National Championship.

Notre Dame is once again the number one team in the country for the first time in the BCS era. All that stands between then and a trip to Miami are the hated Trojans from Southern California (USC). On Saturday Notre Dame will travel to the Los Angeles Coliseum to battle USC. The Trojans are having a down year, but this is the greatest intersectional rivalry in college football. This Saturday will mark the 84th meeting between the two teams, and no matchup has had more National Championship implications than the Notre Dame, USC rivalry. This one is no different. USC has nothing left to play for except to ruin the season of the Fighting Irish. That would make the USC down season a success.

The question is, does Notre Dame deserve their number 1 ranking? I realize I am biased, but looking at it from a neutral point of view the answer is still yes. I realize there are a lot of Notre Dame haters out there, but why? Because they are Notre Dame and do not have to play in a conference? Maybe because they have a national broadcast contract with NBC? Thats all fine, but the Irish still deserve their top ranking. People liked Oregon because they won by huge margins and Notre Dame won by a few points over some bad teams. Well Oregon had not played anybody and then Stanford showed up and beat them. The Irish find ways to win and have won by big margins and by small. To be honest some of the teams on Notre Dames schedule had down years, but they still beat more ranked opponents than any other team in college football. Including the same Stanford team that beat Oregon. They say defense wins championships, Notre Dame has the best defense in the country. Sure they deserve their ranking. They may not play in a conference, but they still play arguably the toughest schedule in the country. The computers like Notre Dames schedule why does nobody else?

Regardless of whether you are a Notre Dame fan or not it is clear that college football draws more interest when The Irish are relevant. For the fans it has been a long time since we have been able to be this excited about this rivalry game on Saturday. The echoes have awakened in South Bend. Irish fans can once again send a volley cheer for history’s team, Notre Dame.

20121121-213347.jpg

NFL, Contenders and Pretenders

It is a little over halfway through the NFL season, and as I look over the teams that are in the playoff hunt I see some real contenders for a Super Bowl birth, and I also see some pretenders up there. Ill go through the top 8 teams in both the AFC and NFC stating the reasons why they can contend or not.

I will start in the AFC.

1. Houston Texans – Contender
The Texans are a serious contender. Boasting the best record in the AFC and one of the top defenses in the NFL; Houston can not only shut teams down, the offense under Quarterback Matt Shaub has improved from a season ago. The double threat of being able to throw the ball effectively or run the ball consistently with Arian Foster could prove to be a difference maker come playoff time.

2. Baltimore Ravens – Pretender
I may catch some flack for this one, but the Ravens just do not have it this year. With the injuries on defense the Ravens are not going to be able to stop a good offensive team like the Patriots or Texans. Simply Baltimore has to outscore teams. As far as that goes, offensively we all know too well the history of Joey Flacco in the playoffs. until he proves otherwise I can not seriously think of them as a contender.

3. New England Patriots – Contender
Tom Brady is still in the top 5 quarterbacks in the NFL. The defense is better than I gave them credit for earlier in the season. The hoodie always has them ready to go. In the playoffs it is very hard to go against Tom Brady.

4. Denver Broncos – Contender
The defense for Denver, which was questionable early, has improved each week and should continue to get better. Peyton Manning is still among the best quarterbacks, and they have a decent running game. Not many teams can stop Manning. If a good offensive team can slow him down they have a shot. Don’t be surprised if Manning takes them all the way to the Super Bowl.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers – Pretender
The Steelers have been at the top of the AFC for a while now, but Pittsburgh is on the decline. An aging defense with injuries will hinder them as the season wears on. They have some young offensive weapons and Big Ben is still good. A playoff team yes, but a Super Bowl team no.

6. Indianapolis Colts – Pretender
This is a team I didn’t know what to think of at the start of the year. They have surprised a lot of people, and Andrew Luck has played exceptionally well; however, The Colts are too inexperienced to go deep and the lack of defense will hinder them later this year.

Miami Dolphins – Pretender
Miami is one of those teams that has a decent defense, but lack of offense is what prevents them from being good. Ryan Tannehill has played pretty well this year, but lack of running game and the inability to pick up first downs has worn the defense out.

8. San Diego Chargers – Pretender
The San Diego offense can be explosive when Phillip Rivers is on, but thats to inconsistent. The defense has been a disappointment. The loss to Denver after a 24 point halftime lead really showed that the Chargers are not a threat to make it very far.

On to the NFC.

1. Atlanta Falcones – Pretender
Go ahead and make your comments on this one. Regardless of the 8-0 record the Falcons are pretenders. They have been luckey and rightfully should have 3 losses right now. Sure they have an explosive offense, but there are better teams in the NFC that are going to exploit defensive weaknesses come playoff time. Oh and the offense will be slowed by a good defensive team.

2. Chicago Bears – Contender
This one was tough. The only reason I say contender is because of the defense. The Bears D has won them games this season when the offense sputtered. What makes them a contender or not is up to the offensive line. If they protect Cutler they can beat anybody, but against a tough front line they may become pretenders in a hurry.

3. San Francisco 49ers- Pretender
San Fran will get after you on defense. The ability of Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter to run the ball is key. Alex Smith will not beat you strictly with his arm. The running game is the key to the success of the 49ers. If a team shuts down the run Alex Smith will beat himself.

4. New York Giants – Contender
The defending Super Bowl Champions still have a good defense. They can rush the passer and stop the run. Eli Manning knows how to win big games and has delivered when the stakes are highest. You can not ever count them out and that is what makes them dangerous. What if there was a Manning vs. Manning Super Bowl?

5. Green Bay Packers- Contender
Another tough one. The reason for the contender status, Aaron Rodgers. Arguably the best QB in the league, and he can dissect a defense. They have some injuries that could hurt them and the defense will have to do a better job if they want to make a deep playoff run.

6. Seattle Seahawks – Pretenders
Despite the defense being decent Adrian Peterson ran for over 200 yards against them Sunday. The offense wont be able to get it done. The rookie QB is pretty good, but isn’t consistent enough to make a good playoff run.

7. Minnesota Vikings – Pretender
The Vikings play decent defense and Adrian Peterson is a beast, but the Vikings are still pretenders. Christian Ponder has played well, but the defense will let them down and against good defenses Ponder just doesn’t have it at this point to lead a deep run.

8. Detroit Lions – Pretender
Simply put the Lions defense is terrible and the offense is inconsistent. The Lions are not going anywhere this year.

So I have gone through and listed the contenders and pretenders at this point in the NFL season. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

The Classless Sports Fan

As a fan of sports we all have favorite teams and favorite players. We all have those teams that we despise and players we absolutely can not stand. Sure we boo and yell and even curse teams and players, and we cheer when our teams do well. Yesterday was the boiling point to fans that are going to far.

Fans beating up other fans because they support a rival team. Fans throwing trash onto fields and batteries and syringes. That was too far, but Kansas City fans yesterday cheering an injury to their own Quarterback is just ridiculous. As someone trying to make a career in the sports industry I do live and die with sports, but to what extent do I go? I’m not going to get in a fight with somebody because they don’t like the team I like. I was not happy that Barry Bonds broke Hank Aarons all time home run record, but I wouldn’t throw syringes at him during a game. I do not like players that are on teams that I cheer for, but I most certainly would not cheer at that player getting injured. Remember that I do live and die sports, and love sports so much that I am pursuing a career in the industry, but I know better than to take it to another level.

To those who are not following a sports related career and who have nothing invested into the industry, what are you thinking? Shouldn’t all of your hopes and dreams be focused on what you can control in your own life. Sure we all root and cheer and boo and yell, but to have all of your energy and all of your dreams tied to how your favorite team or player does is a little crazy.

As a fan we look to sports for different reasons. To make us feel better about something. To forget something for a little bit. To watch history being made. Maybe Matt Cassel isn’t the best QB there is, but to cheer his injury in hopes he can’t play is absurd. I would be ashamed of myself for cheering that a player got injured, even if I do not like that player.

Fighting, throwing trash, batteries, and syringes was enough. Now fans are cheering injuries. What’s next? Fans are getting out of control and its time people take a look at their actions. In the end it is just a game, and for people to take it to heart, that have nothing vested in it is over the top. Your actions have consequences and affects. Not to mention your actions could land you on Sports Center as the village idiot, and remember just because someone else is doing it does not make it right.

What Will It Take For Goodell To Respond?

I was not going to post anything about the replacement refs, but after last night and some urging from a friend I have decided to do some writing.

Since week 1 of the NFL season we have heard about the replacement refs, and I didn’t have much of an opinion other than unions are terrible and are contributing to the downfall of society. Week 2 passed and I thought that the League would make some sort of attempt to fix the problem, but no, all that happened was coaches being told to not go after the refs and to hold back. Week 3 has now passed and it is clear that Roger Goddells nightmare came to life last night in Seattle.

I do understand that these replacement officials have a very tough job to do. They are not qualified to be in the position they are in. The commissioner just threw these guys in the Lions den and said have at it. To be fair even the regular refs blow calls, but not to the extent of the circus we have seen recently. I feel at this point that I know the game and the rules just as well or better than this group of guys. I mean this sincerely not mockingly, I could do a better job than these guys. Put me in Goodell! I’m ready!

So the question now is, will the NFL do something to come to an agreement with the officials? How can they not? Sure you can fine coaches for yelling or being ugly to the refs, but I get their frustration. These guys have jobs that depend on winning and losing and the officiating is coming into play with the outcomes of the games. I would be madder than a hornets nest too. The problem is I don’t believe Goodell cares. Will he care if the fans don’t show up to the games, or if the television audience no longer tunes in? That may be the only way to get the attention of Roger Goodell.

It is high time the NFL do something about this problem. Pay the guys. Obviously they are better than we gave them credit for. After this showing from the League its the least they could do to fix the problem. If that loss for GB or win for Seattle comes back to haunt a team in the end. That could mean job or jobless for somebody and the sad part is it isn’t their fault. They can blame Mr. Goodell, not the referees.

Look at the long term effect Mr. Commissioner and do the right thing for the sake of the fans and the product you are putting on the field.

Notre Dame Football Is Not In a Conference

After announcing a few days ago that all Notre Dame sports, except football, would be going to the ACC, broadcasters and analysts alike are really starting to aggravate me.

Yes, the Irish agreed to put 5 ACC teams on their football schedule, but rivals like Michigan, USC, Michigan State, and Purdue will not be dropped. Let’s look at why.

Notre Dame already plays Pittsburgh just about every year. They will be in the ACC next year, they play Wake Forest this season along with Boston College another rivalry match-up. Miami is on the schedule this year and Florida State is another team the Irish have played off and on for years. Let’s remember that it is only 5 games in a 12 game season. The other 7 weeks are going to go to Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, USC, and Navy. The Irish have a 4 year contract with Texas starting next year or the year after which will take another spot. Maybe the last will be Stanford, a team the Irish usually play toward the end of the year.
So the Irish will probably not be stopping their long rivalries with these schools just because their other sports will compete in the ACC. The Irish agreed to play 5 games against ACC opponents, but they already play 3-4 teams from that conference every year. It really isn’t the big deal everyone is making it out to be. I have been a Notre Dame fan since I was born and I always will be. The Irish shouldn’t be in conference and I hope never are. So get it out of your minds that this is a really big deal because it really isn’t.

A Little Football Preview

So football season starts on Wednesday, and I will be rooting for the Giants. I root for anyone playing the Cowboys. These are my picks to make it to the conference finals and the Super Bowl. Also I will list my dark horses to watch out for.

First, in the NFC. In the NFC Championship I see the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers. I think Green Bays offense can put up enough points against a tough 49er defense. I also think that Alex Smith won’t be able to get it done. Green Bay to the Super Bowl

Now to the AFC. The AFC Championship will consist of the New England Patriots and the Houston Texans. This will be a good game. A tough Texans defense should be able to get enough stops because the NE d isn’t what it has been in the past. The running game of Arian Foster should prove too much and Shaub is underrated as a QB. Houston to the Super Bowl.

The dark horses that could give some trouble this year to some of the top teams are 1. The Oakland Raiders. Carson Palmer at QB should help them open things up for Darren McFadden to run the ball more effectively and catch passes in space out of the backfield. 2. The Buffalo Bills. If they can stay healthy they will cause problems for teams. The defense is pretty stout as well. 3. The Detroit Lions. If the defense has grown up and not have stupid penalties they will be a tough match up for teams in the NFC.

As always these are my opinions and are open for criticism and discussion. If you disagree tell me why not just that you don’t agree.

NASCAR Boring?

I was reminded a few days ago that there are people who read this blog and I have been remiss recently at posting. I apologize and will do a better job at keeping up.

I am huge NASCAR fan. I watch every lap of every race. If I can’t be home it gets recorded and I watch it when I get home. I understand that not every sport is for everyone, but the part that gets to me is when someone says “I don’t like NASCAR” but they have never watched it. Try it before you knock it.

For the most part the reason is “why do I want to watch 43 cars turn left for 3 or 4 hours.” It is so much more than that. I don’t think that most people understand how hard it is to get that car to turn, or how trying it is on the drivers. There is so much that goes into strategy and the decissions they make to try and get a fast race car. The little adjustments that seem minuscule actually can be the difference between winning and coming in second.

I realize that at first it may be difficult to understand the lingo, especially if you know very little or nothing about cars, but if you listen and really pay attention with an open mind it is easy to pick up on. Its really very interesting to me how taking one pound of pressure out of a tire can make such a huge difference in turning the car and making it faster.

The part though that really is entertaining is the way the drivers drive the car. Its not as simple as it may seem and drivers get frustrated with other drivers easily. To drive at the speeds they do and within inches of each other is astounding. Most would not be comfortable doing that at 50mph let alone 200.

Like I said, I realize its not for everybody, but before you make your judgment just watch a race. Understand what happened. It may take more than one to really get all the little parts that make it so interesting. Follow a few drivers throughout the race and see how their car responds to spur of the moment decisions the crew chiefs make, or if they made the right call on fuel. If after watching you still don’t like it then its not for you. You may find however that it is more entertaining and interesting than you first thought. Its the same with anything. Don’t say you don’t like something if you never have tried it out. As for me, NASCAR is a weekly must and that won’t be changing anytime soon.

Baseball and Replay

So Bud Selig has decided that baseball will expand instant replay. I am of the belief that there should be no replay in baseball. I never complain about pace of game because its the time in between pitches that makes baseball even more intriguing, but for those who do, what now? The people who complain about pace of play are also some of the ones calling for replay. Yea, because that won’t slow the game down more. Make up your minds people.

Baseball is a game based on judgment calls and umpires blowing calls. It happens and that’s baseball. Its a part of the game we love. Arguments and ejections are part of the game. Just like railroading a catcher and a pitcher knocking someone down because the opposing pitcher did it to his team. This is baseball and slowly we are moving farther away from what the game is and how it should be played. During the Golden Age of Baseball there was no replay and the game was great. People loved baseball and now a blown call and everyone is in an uproar. Yes it sucks to be screwed over by a bad call, it has happened to me, but that’s baseball and people should learn to deal with it instead of having everything the way they want.

I know I may catch some flack for this one but I’m prepared to deal with it. For those who complain that baseball is boring just remember that baseball is boring to those with boring minds.