Thursday, September 8, 2016

5 Must-Watch Teams on NFL Game Pass

There's always a handful of teams you should bookmark on NFL Game Pass. 
Not because they're ascending to greatness like the Panthers, or because they're endlessly atop the standings like the Pats, or even because their quarterback belongs on a daytime soap like the Texans, but because they're strangely interesting. You know, in a Charlie Whitehurst sort of way.

So here are 5 NFL teams to watch on Game Pass this season:

New York Giants

It's the Big Apple. It's the beloved Big Blue, one of the most unloved teams outside of New York. That means big drama. What further reason do you need? Old Man Coughlin is on gardening leave, there's new and menacing recruits, and there's still a Manning quarterbacking. So you know, buckle up, paisano!

San Francisco 49ers

How one of the sport's most iconic teams went from Super Bowl contender to outright dysfunction is befuddling. Teams like the Niners usually find their way, right? It's in their DNA: Montana. Rice. Craig. Young. And now ... Gabbert? Well, maybe. When your second-stringer gets more headlines than your starter, you know things are about to get weird.

Miami Dolphins

Being a Fins fan in 2016 is like being slapped with a groper. Hard. Who's running this club, anyway? That cadre of scantily clad celebrities? And why doesn't the dolphin in the logo wear a helmet anymore? That's clearly the wrong message in the concussion era, isn't it? Then there's young Tannehill. Can he throw down field, yet? The answer to that one is yes, provided you have no target in mind. All that said, what a mix of story lines.

Minnesota Vikings

They have a flash new billion dollar stadium, a new creaky veteran quarterback, and the breathless hopes of frigid fan base desperate for success. It's a moving story. At least there's still that furry horn-hatted dude ripping around on a chopper to keep hearts warm. Oh, wait ...

San Diego Chargers

Like a musty old bear at the city's famous zoo, the Chargers are constantly worried about moving house. Who moves from San Diego though, outside of a crazy NBA owner? Is this even worth discussing? Just sit back and sip on a Yellowtail, and watch Rivers zip the ball into the sun splashed horizon.
Honourable mentions:
  • New York Jets - FitzMagic, or fits of panic?
  • Jacksonville Jaguars - Still don't get the two-tone helmet. Do you dip it in water or something?
  • Chicago Bears - The offensive line has been sured up. Over to you Jay.
  • Houston Texans - Will Oz play, or bail to watch his girlfriend sing in the choir?

Buffalo Bills get no love in rankings ... and you know Rex likes it that way

Power rankings are a strange and cruel beast, sort of like Rex Ryan after a Quarter Pounder binge.

Often arbitrarily constructed, they tend to be short on logic and long to digest. Just how official are these things, anyway? About as official as Adam Gase's genius status, we'd say.

So how can we combat them? How can we reorganise what's been so carelessly jumbled? (I feel your pain Matt Warren of Buffalo Rumblings. We're here to help).

Don't poke the Buffalo

Let's just tackle it one team at a time. And what better place to start than Buffalo, where the home town Bills are treated like sons, and yet ranked like SOBs by people with access to the internet.

For example, Bleacher Report has the Bills 22nd on its before week 1 rankings. They also have the Jags 17 and the Raiders at 11. So, you know, why stop there? Why not say the '79 Bucs are among the greatest teams of all time?

SB Nation places the Bills slightly higher at 18, but then say the Jets are just one better.

For a more official ranking you could turn to, which has the Bills in 16th, with a nice blurb from Elliot Harrison about making the club great again.

USA Today seems less optimistic about Buffalo, starting with the line, 'Summer was unkind to Rex Ryan ...' Woah. Take it easy, America's paper. We were just joshing. Now you're taking it too far. They have the Bills at 19.

The World Wide Leader is slightly more generous, suggesting an 8-8 season, with a 16 ranking. Still ... does Boomer know about this?

Yahoo targets holes in the defence at season's open, with a harsh 20 ranking.

And don't expect any support from the gang at Fox Sports, who say it's playoffs or bust for Rex and Co. They've dropped them down to 22.

Then there's everybody's favourite online writer, Mike Florio, who has the guts to stash Buffalo at the bottom of the heap at 29. Don't fret Bills Nation, Mike has the Dak Prescott-led Cowboys at 14 and the Sam Bradford charged Vikings at 11. There's no adequate way to interpret this behaviour, though there are like 25 different 'Talk' tabs across that NBC site, so maybe Mike's logging too many hours.

Perhaps we should leave the last word to one of best comments on the PFT page from firecracker87:

  1. firecracker87 says:Sep 5, 2016 1:00 PM
    The Bills won the off season; why aren’t they at #1?

Well played sir.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Let's get Monday Night Football back to being iconic

By J.P. Pelosi

*NFL's MNF started tentatively in 1964, untelevised 
*The 'spectacle' as we know it kicked off in the seventies
*First game saw the Browns beat the Jets 31-21, Sep 21, 1970

Football on Monday night seems a grand idea, no matter which way you dial it up.

Unless you're Tony Robbins or Hugh Hefner, most weeks start with a thud, a cold hard realisation that work awaits, the clothes hamper is festering and dinner might well be frozen.

Indeed, many of us need the relief of Monday night sports to ease us into the five day circus. But there's a problem: the ringmaster has found his way into our TVs to mess up Monday football, too.

Take the first two Monday games of the upcoming NFL season: Steelers - Redskins, Niners - Rams. Sure, they're interesting enough teams, and I get it, an east coast match-up complimented by a west coast clash. But this is the once legendary Monday Night Football!

Cossell, Gifford, Michaels, Madden. Marino. Plunkett. Montana. That freaking fantastic theme song... ba ba baaaaam ... ba baaaaa ...

How did it all become so, well, pedestrian?

Surely Giants - Cowboys would see more chips spat across living rooms. Chargers - Chiefs, too, would ignite some action. But there's a weird shift toward airing second rate contests, a trend that's making Monday sports fixtures feel blander than date night with Bill Belichick.

A rugby scrum of content

It's the same issue with football in my backyard, the National Rugby League (NRL). Instead of being a beer cracking, after-work barbecuing extravaganza, Monday NRL games are really an afterthought.

I'm not even sure most fans know it's on, and that's largely to do with it being a cable TV offering only. Perhaps the TV stations are just happy to lock big deals in with sporting codes and the games have become throwaway details. Or maybe with all the content flying around now, programmers simply don't know what constitutes a feature game anymore.

Either way, rugby league won't be played on Mondays anymore and columnists are already rejoicing. Given its soft crowds, Thursday Night Football could well be next.

Strength in numbers

The NFL can get away with a casual strategy because of the size of the US population, and more importantly, the sheer number of cable subscribers. NFL games attract massive crowds, both to the stadium and the box, so there's no real danger of losing fans over, say, a lazy Jags - Bucs game. Oh, they'll be watching, even with three sheets to the wind.

In Australia, however, cable isn't as prevalent. Even if it was, I don't think fans care enough about Monday's night of football because the fixtures are rarely appealing, and consequently, crowds a smaller than at local kids pantomime. It's not a good look.

Top shelf old boy!

One sporting competition that seems to have the gist of things is the English Premier League, which sometimes will serve up a Monday nighter for the ages. Take a recent affair between London rivals Chelsea and West Ham: The Telegraph called it a whizz-bang of a match. No messing around, just give the people what they want.

The NFL equivalent might be heated iteration of Pats - Giants, or Packers - Bears. Not the Rams (sorry LA), just because you have a new stadium to show off. Or the Skins because, I don't know, it's an election year?

Pretty packaging enough?

Listen, you have to love the nostalgic themed intro by Peter Berg that ESPN's MNF now uses. It's perfect. I'm in. But the scheduling needs work. It needs to draw a throng and fill the stadium. It needs to set digital recording boxes into a frenzy. And certainly test a few marriages.

The point of non-weekend football is to make it an event, right? You know, something you put your best undies on for that day. We have to want to rush home to kick off our shoes and fire up the grill.

Otherwise it just ends up being something we click on and move past, eventually landing on something with more action, like The Bachelor.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Peyton will stand tall in Super Bowl 50

Just at the house.  from @Broncos

Despite some in the media doubting that Peyton Manning, 39, has much left in the tank for the upcoming Super Bowl, he still has his wonderful height and continues to boast a neat haircut. Should he walk away from the fiftieth iteration of this grand football occasion with only a stiff-brimmed runners-up hat, rest assured he'll wear it proudly - and highly.

Slow and steady

Let's not count the Sheriff out altogether, okay. He may look more like Doc Holliday than Wyatt Earp at this stage of his career, but there's one last stand in him. I know it. Manning completed 17 of his 32 passes for 176 yards in the AFC Championship Game, in a steady if not impressive performance, and that's all Broncos fans need. Certainly the ball didn't always spin along a tight line, but it reached its intended target when most needed, right? That's really all that counts in games of such magnitude. While, some commentators are hellbent on telling us that wounded duck throws are catastrophic, we now know this isn't always true. We also know that some commentators are hellbent on hyperbole.

Steadiness is all the Broncos require on the offensive side. And Manning can be an oak for just one more game. Let Cam Newton chase the wind. That's his game. In truth, he'll need multiple plays to square the Broncos defence away.

One good throw

One play. Two plays. OMAHA! OMAHA! The talking heads also like to say that a game can be decided by one play, and if this is indeed the case, then Manning is also still capable of making that single pass - maybe even twice. Two good passes are not out of the realm of possibility here, especially when you're lifting less than the guy at the snack bar all afternoon.

Starring role

In the very first Super Bowl, played in California as well, Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr tossed 16 of 23 passes for 250 yards, and two touchdowns. He had one interception but the Packers thumped the Chiefs 35-10. Of course, it was a different era, and the Carolina Panthers might be slightly more menacing on defence than the 1967 Chiefs. But I can see Peyton posting similar numbers, and out-thinking the Panthers the way Starr did Kansas City.

Yes, his preference for shorter passes will likely mean fewer yards, first downs, and ultimately a lower scoring output for Denver. However, those numbers might also be just enough to win him the game's MVP prize, and ensure that he leaves just enough in the arm to lift the Lombardi Trophy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Starting QB Needed In New York: Apply Now!

 Quarterback Needed ASAP - Pro Football - Great Pay/Union Benefits! (New York, NY / Jersey) img [x]
Popular New York football team based in Jersey seeks urgent services of a professional quarterback - at least in name. Fill in for injured starter; win instant notoriety. Must have an eye for detail, be a team player, and get the best out of others under duress. Absolutely any clock management skills would be looked upon favorably. 

Good throwing mechanics are not essential, as long as candidate can move ball from A to B. Heck, we invite anyone able to toss a Nerf ball into a bucket to apply. 

Communication skills are a must. However, we don’t expect the successful candidate to be a Harvard Graduate. Having said that, we'll certainly consider those with an Ivy League education; but only if your thumb ligaments are in tact. 

Please send resume with video samples of your most recent work. Talking head show-reels from ESPN won’t be considered. 

Accepting applications from just about anyone, really. Although if your name happens to be Sanchez, we’ll require photo identification. 

Work with a great team that knows when to roll with the punches, and pull its thumb out.


post id: 000007L

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Ten Things I Thought While I Read Peter King

The NFL season has kicked off with more surprises than a Bachelor episode.

The Colts were done in by the Bills' monster defense, and the glare from their awesome helmets. I’m afraid of the Bills. I thought Miami would have a potent defense this year with Suh, and they looked fairly stout in week one, but Buffalo brought on cold sweats. Get Machine Gun on the line: time to dust off the vintage Bills jacket big fella.

The Chargers looked good too. I think it’ll be a fun year for them. That division is tough, but I think they make the leap into first place. As much as I love Peyton, and trust the Broncos defense, I think their short reign atop the AFC West might be over. They looked vulnerable. Peyton's passes were floaters. And Mile High should be far more intimidating to a Ravens squad that's hardly as intimidating as it once was.

Peter King's columns are really long aren't they? I mean, does he get paid by the word or hour?

The Giants just gave it away. Sounds like there was confusion about timeouts and Eli wasn’t thinking clearly on the last play. There’s no way they should have lost in that situation. Not against Dallas, the perennial end of game fizzers. People seem to really pile it on with Eli when the chips are down. I don’t get it. Nobody's perfect and no one can have a perfect season. He’s already won two Super Bowls for crying out loud. But it's New York, and you're only as good as your last hot minute.

Other teams I like and caught glimpses of were Chicago and Cincy. Though the Bears lost, they seem to have a smart game plan. Running it. With Forte. Who else do they need? Sure, Jay Cutler, the guy you love to hate. Fine, hate him. He has an Elway-like arm and I reckon he’s tougher than people give him credit for. He’s sulky, sure. But look at his hair.

Hey, they've squeezed King's column into a single scrolling page. Nice.

While we'e on the midwestern teams, I'm really fond of Cleveland – the club – not the current team so much. So I root for them when I can. How can you not? They seem to be cursed. To that end, Josh McCown was slammed early and then Johnny Gumball came in. I think if McCown can play the Brownies will be decent. He’s a guy I’ve always appreciated: just tough and can lead. Maybe he can teach Manziel a few things, like what the 'pocket' is. Side note: there are no words for those new Cleveland uniforms.

The AFC East is anyone’s really, but surely the Fish can scoop a wild card this year. They're overdue. Tannehill has started throwing some deep balls and I’m imagining the offense is set to score some exciting touchdowns with the receivers they have. Finally. Happy Birthday Dan. Laces out.

Always enjoy the Saints. With Brees they’re a chance. But there’s little confidence with them on the defensive side. They gave up so many yards in week one against the Cards, and that’s a problem. Then again, that NFC South division is quite ordinary. The Panthers and Bucs aren't scaring the pants off a Penzance Pirate.

I actually like the Falcons more than in previous seasons. Matt Ryan is one of my favorite QBs. Take another look at his throw to the corner to Julio Jones this past weekend. Money. They're onto something in Georgia. Again.

The Eagles are entertaining. Bradford is a sound player. But I do worry he’s going to get hurt. He has a funny physique – skinny and tall. So I cringe whenever he's hit. Honestly, I think Mark Sanchez will be sent in at some point, and when that happens, cash out all of your Eagles bets.

Does PK ever drink instant coffee? Nespresso? Or guzzle the beans from the bag? Surely he must.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Which quarterback would you want if your starter went down?

To play our new game, which should have Hasbro knocking at the door any minute now ... you have to imagine a rather zany world order in which pro football contracts are superfluous and players can come and go as they please. (Didn't Brett Favre set this precedent?)

In this scenario, you’re a cowboy general manager – not specifically of the Dallas variety – and have the ability to cut ties with your signal-caller at the drop of a hat---quite possibly a Tom Landry style hat---which then, sure, would be of the Dallas variety.

The basic premise is that there must be a QB out there you covet more than a Kardashian home movie. So let's tap into your sub-conscious and talk about it. That's why we're here. If you’re a New York Giants fan, for example, and inextricably tied to Eli, you can, for just a moment, imagine having a quarterback that's less opportunistic, and more reliant on Montana-like accuracy and Elway like-arm strength. Or if you’re a Cardinals fan, maybe you envisage a QB with the ability to play all 16 games and reach the playoffs without a hobble. Imagine that!

Meanwhile, Dolphins fans could conjure a situation in which the Marino Era is a simply a sepcial chapter in Miami’s history book and not persistent nostalgia, impossible to supplant until another QB leads the team back to the AFC Championship Game, or dare we say it, the Super Bowl.

To this end, the below is a shortlist of NFL players we think would be the most coveted of all 32 current starters behind center, should your ace, your big cheese, go down. These players haven't been selected because they're necessarily better than Shane Falco, nor do they boast superior stats (no emails FiveThirtyEight), but because they possess the sorts of intangibles that make having a cool and impossibly professional quarterback the envy of every fan outside of New England, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Indy and Baltimore.

Sure, you could make arguments for other QBs and other towns being mentioned in that last sentence, but we don’t have the time nor the inclination to complicate this soon-to-be party favorite, which we call Spin the Pigskin. A good game's a quick game, kids.

So who would you choose?*

Matt Ryan – They call him ‘Ice’, which is catchy and perhaps even more applicable when he freezes mid-play. Calm down Falcon fans, we see Matty’s improved movement. What we like here is his level head and ability to lead.

Johnny Manziel – "Let Johnny loose!" the mob cries, while Brian Hoyer devotees sob into their Blackout Stouts. What’s ailed the Browns is a distinct lack of well, quarterbacking, and while Manziel offers no guarantee of addressing this issue, he has bravado. That's right - bravado. You can’t buy it. Oh sure, you can make misguided money gestures, but you won’t be able to finalize a purchase. Not in this town, bub.

Derek Carr – He’s the young buck, the potential savior of Raider Nation, and yet nobody knows if it's all black smoke and silver mirrors at this point. Listen, he’s got guts and seems to be learning fast, so there’s plenty to like.

Cam Newton – Cool Hand Cam, the man with visor and superhero grin. He’s got a cannon that can be loose at times, and all that means is victory is one Hail Mary away.

Russell Wilson – Straight-laced and straightforward, he minimizes errors and runs away from trouble. He’s Tarkenton in the modern era. Smart, confident and frank.

Jay Cutler – Do customers come much cooler than Cutler? Maybe if they’re in a Sears browsing for a new fridge. Otherwise no. The hair, the despondency, the wife. He should be fronting Grizzly Bear not the Chicago Bears.

Phillip Rivers – He’s mad as hell and that’s why you love him. Come on. It’s sunny outside and he’s tossing a football around the park. And yet, instead of dancing around like the always effervescent Buggs, he's more agitated than Yosemite Sam. IT'S PHILLIP! NOT PHIL DAMMIT!

*If your starting QB is on this list then you obviously have fewer choices. That's the game folks - you already have a cool QB so really shouldn't be afforded any advantage.