Category Archives: Football

You Have Probably Read a Million NFL Previews, so Here Is Another!

It is a glorious time of year, as the NFL season is upon us.  For me, the NFL is the only sports league in which I can watch and enjoy a regular-season game between any pairing of teams.  It was like that when I was a kid, as I knew that, with a 16-game regular season, every game was of monumental importance.  As much as I love MLB and the NHL, a May Athletics/Tigers game or a November Flames/Blues game has never exactly glued me to the TV.  Of course, as time and my life have progressed, my love for the NFL has increased with fantasy football and the many pools in which I take part.

Anyway, with the NFL season’s arrival, I am providing a preview.  I am not going to preview all 32 teams’ strengths and weaknesses.  I am merely going to make a few predictions about which I feel strongly.  Let us begin.

  • The Vikings’ Kirk Cousins signing will prove to be a mistake. Last year, Case Keenum stepped in for an injured Sam Bradford and led the Vikings to a 12-2 regular-season record a miraculous playoff win over the Saints.  Meanwhile, Kirk Cousins has been 26-30-1 as a starter and lost his only playoff game.  Of course, it is easy to argue that Keenum was pretty much awful before last year and pulled a shamrock-encrusted rabbit’s foot out of his butt to win last year’s playoff game, but that does not refute my point.  I would say that Case Keenum and Kirk Cousins would give the Vikings an equal chance for success this season, so it would have been more logical to re-sign Keenum for much less money than the amount for which Cousins signed.
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Image via ClutchPoints
  • The Giants will finish 9-7 and earn a Wild Card berth. Obviously, I hope that the Giants win the Super Bowl.  I hope that Eli Manning dominates from September through February en route to a third Super Bowl championship and makes me eat a giant plate of crow.  Realistically though, I see the Eagles winning the division at 10-6.  Even though the Giants have won two Super Bowls after playing on Wild Card Weekend, I am not ready to make that prediction when (to paraphrase Rick Pitino) Justin Tuck isn’t walking through that door.  Michael Strahan isn’t walking through that door.  Jason Pierre-Paul isn’t walking through that door.  Osi Umenyiora isn’t walking through that door.  OK, I will stop before I end up putting Jay Alford on the list.  That said; with a revamped offensive line, a healthy Odell, and a debuting Saquon; this offense should put up enough points to put the team in the playoffs.  If the offense does not dominate and people continue to say that Eli deserves to be the starter for as long as he wants, then I do not know what to tell those people.
  • The Jets will finish 7-9 in a season reminiscent of Geno Smith’s 2013 season. No, I am not making this comparison just to backhandedly remind people that I was actually rational in supporting the Giants’ move to start in Geno in Oakland.  I say this because Geno’s talent brought the Jets some exciting wins in 2013.  I was eliminated from my Survivor pool when Geno won Week 5 on MNF in Atlanta that year.  Devastating stuff for me, but wins like that and their win over the Pats (with some help from the officials) gave Jets fans major hope for the future at the time.  Of course, Geno proved to have discipline and dedication issues that kept him from taking that next step.  In 2018, I expect that Sam Darnold will similarly lead the Jets to a few exciting wins (as Geno did in 2013), but he remains a rookie taking over the reins of a 5-11 team.  7-9 would be a solid year for him, and Jets fans should feel good about that.  Unlike with Geno, I would expect that Darnold would build on this season in 2019 with a best-case scenario being Darnold mimicking Carson Wentz’s second season.  (Thus, the Jets should be ready to sign Nick Foles next season.)
  • For the same reasons; the Raiders and Islanders will be similar train wrecks this coming season and the coming seasons. Let us examine the traits:
  1. The game has passed by the team’s stubborn leader: Mike Francesa always says the biggest reason why NFL coaches do not succeed after long layoffs is that, after three years away from the game, it is difficult to assemble a coaching staff. After all, most of a coach’s former assistants have been gobbled up by the time the third year rolls around.  Moreover, the game changes radically over a few years.  Jon Gruden last coached in 2008.  Back then, it was still somewhat OK to try to decapitate opposing players on the field.  Now, there is a 3-inch-by-3-inch square in a quarterback’s midsection that opposing players are allowed to touch.  Anything else is a penalty.  Plus, I do not know that Gruden can be as harsh now as he was 10 years ago. Similarly, Lou Lamoriello is now the Islanders’ general manager, and I have a feeling that he will return to his usual Lou mantras: signing defensive defenseman, placing a large emphasis on veteran leadership, and avoiding star players with any egos.  All of those premises served Lamoriello well when he was (in my opinion) the best general manager in the NHL for 20+ seasons with the Devils.  However, his ways did not serve the Devils well at the end of his tenure in New Jersey, and I feel that Brendan Shanahan (Leafs’ general manager) was calling all the shots when Lou and Shanahan were in Toronto.  I do not feel good about Lamoriello being in full control of the Isles’ personnel.
  2. Both teams have lost their top players. The Isles were unable to re-sign John Tavares, who ironically moved to Toronto, Lamoriello’s former home.  Meanwhile, Khalil Mack has been traded from the Raiders to the Bears.  Both moves are obviously bad for the players’ former teams.  Plus, if Gruden had anything to do with pushing Mack away, some of his players might grow resentment toward Gruden.  That is a bad thing.
  3. Lastly, both teams are in geographic limbo. The Isles are spending part of the next few seasons at Nassau Coliseum and part of it in Brooklyn.  Having two different homes does not exactly seem like a recipe for success.  Similarly, the Raiders are finishing out their time in Oakland, as a future home in Vegas looms on the horizon.  Neither of these scenarios bode well for fan support or thus for the teams’ potential success.
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Image via The Mercury News
  • Anyway, let us wrap this up with my playoff predictions. Note that I made these before the season-opening games.

Playoff Seeds:

AFC:

1 New England

2 Jacksonville

3 Pittsburgh

4 Kansas City

5 Houston

6 Los Angeles Chargers

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Image via Roster Resource

NFC:

1 Atlanta

2 Green Bay

3 San Francisco

4 Philadelphia

5 Los Angeles Rams

6 New York Giants

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Image via Washington Post

Wild-Card Round:

Pittsburgh over Los Angeles, Houston over Kansas City, San Francisco over New York Giants, Los Angeles Rams over Philadelphia

Divisional Round:

New England over Houston, Jacksonville over Pittsburgh, Atlanta over Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay over San Francisco

Conference Championships:

Jacksonville over New England, Green Bay over Atlanta

Super Bowl:

Green Bay over Jacksonville

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Enjoy the season, everyone!

The Sophomore Slump: Why You Should Be Hesitant with Second-Year Running Backs

In athletics there are trends that coaches, players, and fans all make a note of. In baseball, it’s struggling after the Home Run Derby or a World Series Hangover. In football, there’s the Madden Curse. And in every sport, there’s the Sophomore Slump.

This trend is particularly notable in football, and to be even more specific, in running backs. If you look back, there have been a countless number of running backs who have gone from exciting rookies to disappointing busts in the matter of a few seasons. Some have picked their career back up the next season, and others you’ll be left saying “Oh shit I forgot about that guy”.

There are countless reasons why it happens, whether it be injury, suspension, or just lack of productivity. No matter the excuse, a striking consistency exists and you have to wonder…why?

Take a look at some of the guys. I made an extraordinarily average and plain chart that will document exactly what I mean, dating all the way back to 1972.

PLAYER, Rookie Season ROOKIE SEASON SOPHOMORE SEASON
Ezekiel Elliott, 2016 1,631 rush yards, 15 TD 983 rush yards, 7 TD
Todd Gurley III, 2015 1,106 rush yards, 10 TD 885 rush yards, 6 TD
Thomas Rawls, 2015 830 rush yards, 4 TD 349 rush yards, 3 TD
Zac Stacy, 2013 973 rush yards, 7 TD 293 rush yards, 1 TD
Trent Richardson, 2012 950 rush yards, 11 TD 563 rush yards, 3 TD
Doug Martin, 2012 1,454 rush yards, 11 TD 456 rush yards, 1 TD
Steve Slaton, 2008 1,282 rush yards, 9 TD 437 rush yards, 3 TD
Cadillac Williams, 2005 1,178 rush yards, 6 TD 798 rush yards, 1 TD
Kevin Jones, 2004 1,133 rush yards, 5 TD 664 rush yards, 5 TD
Rashaan Salaam, 1995 1,074 rush yards, 10 TD 496 rush yards, 3 TD
Don Woods, 1974 1,162 rush yards, 7 TD 317 rush yards, 2 TD
Franco Harris, 1972 1,055 rush yards, 10 TD 698 rush yards, 3 TD

I’m sure the more you dug, the more you’d find guys just like this. I had to exclude guys who burst onto the scene into their second season, but first as a starter, then declined the next year because that is “technically” not a sophomore slump. These were the more obvious and overt ones. Players like Gurley, Doug Martin, and Cadillac have had their moments after their slump, and we expect Elliott to do the same. But a lot of these players completely fell off.  Like where the hell is Steve Slaton? Probably doing maintenance at a Walmart somewhere in Houston. Trent Richardson? He’s the poor man’s Eddie Lacy and turned in a pretty sad NFL career.

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Image via Yardbarker

My guess for why these things happen is people get complacent (in Zeke’s case, stupid or conspired against if you’re a Cowboys fan). They feel they’ve accomplished the world because they see they can dominate the NFL. Or, they get figured out…and all they had on teams was the element of surprise. Once teams are prepared for them, they are simply not good enough to adjust and be effective again.

This trend exactly is what makes me scared to draft, or be confident in if I’m a fan of these teams, players like Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey, Kareem Hunt, and Leonard Fournette. All these guys achieved at par or above their rookie expectations. It’s hard to predict who is going to actually fall, but I’ll give it my best.

Kamara: Possibly the most surprising of the bunch, but I actually think he will continue to perform at a high-level. Usually, small and quick players don’t last but Kamara proved last year he can do it. When Ingram was the starter throughout the first few weeks, Kamara was still forcing playing time because of his big play ability. By the time the year ended, he was getting more snaps and getting better each and every week. Now that Ingram is gone for the first four weeks, it’s Kamara’s job to run with. The only problem, which could lead to a decline, is can he handle the heavy workload? That remains to be seen, but due to the fact he had an increased role towards the end of the year, I believe he can.

McCaffrey: He only ran for 435 yards last year, while totaling 651 through the air. I can’t imagine he puts up similar numbers receiving-wise with Greg Olsen back, Cam more comfortable with Devin Funchess, and rookie D.J. Moore coming in. But with that said, Jonathon Stewart is no longer there to hog carries, so McCaffrey’s run game should improve, as well as his TDs. I don’t see him declining from an overall perspective.

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Image via Panthers Wire

Hunt: With essentially a new mindset on offense, the Chiefs are going to be very different this year. Mahomes plans to throw the ball deep with heavy consistency, making Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and maybe even Sammy Watkins great options. But that leaves Kareem Hunt, somebody who excelled in the Alex Smith check-down game, with a somewhat smaller role. With the Chiefs barely ever running the ball last year and a healthy Spencer Ware on the sideline in 2018-2019, I can definitely see him taking a step back this year.

Fournette: Not much has changed in Jacksonville, so nothing should change for Fournette. He should be another success story this year, and I strongly believe he’ll have long-term success similar to Adrian Peterson thanks to his size and speed.

Again, this is just my analysis. I wish all these guys success, but ya never know. One of them is bound to be a different player this year, but it could be anyone of them. That’s why you play the games.

You Know Your Team is Screwed When Their Best Draft Pick is a Punter

Pls watch:

The Seahawks pretty much did everything I told them not to during the offseason, so if they wind up being horrible, I can at least say I was right.

But man, how sad is it that the best player out of this class could be the damn punter? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for downing the ball inside the ten yard line, but when your team misses the playoffs the year before it’s not very encouraging to hear that field position is your biggest improvement.

For some reason, the Seahawks used a first-round pick on a backup running back in Rashaad Penny. Yes, he’s talented and certainly has potential, but when Michael Dickson and his knuckleball fucking punts are being raved about while Penny is coming back from finger surgery, I wouldn’t say we’re in a solid spot.

In all reality, this punter fella seems like a stud. He’s an Australian trick shot specialist-converted NFL punter that the Seahawks traded up to get, as stated in the video. He’s also making open field tackles on returners that are putting linebackers to shame, and if you Google “Michael Dickson” you’ll see that the Seattle media has a collective middle school crush on the guy. Could he be the very first punter to win Rookie of the Year? Maybe, I’d certainly love to see it.

I have also learned to never doubt Peter Clay Carroll and the Seahawks front office. They’re definitely a little obscure, but let’s not forget what the magnificent Shania Twain once said:

“I find that the very things that I get criticized for, which is usually being different and just doing my own thing and just being original, is the very thing that’s making me successful.”

Bottom line, In Pete I trust. But dude, a punter?

Tom Brady is the GOAT

It seems that most football fans decided several years ago that Bill Belichick was the GOAT (“Greatest of All Time”) when it comes to coaches, yet there are still plenty of fans who have not wanted to call Tom Brady the GOAT among quarterbacks.  To those individuals, I say it is time to give it up.

Seriously, on what grounds can one claim that Tom Brady is not the GOAT?  Let me now rebut any argument in favor of a non-Brady being the GOAT:

  • If you think the GOAT is anyone who played before 1980, you are picking a quarterback who played in an era when a) QBs threw somewhat rarely, b) the running back was the focal point of the offensive backfield, c) teams did much less elaborate scheming than you see now, and thus d) quarterbacks spent much less time perfecting their craft. Sure, Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, and Terry Bradshaw played when there was a different bar for “greatness” for a quarterback.  It is just that said bar was 75% lower than the current bar.  Nobody in his/her right mind would say that a Night at the Roxbury cell phone is the GOAT of the cell-phone world, simply because that phone was considered amazing in 1998.  The same premise goes for calling an old-time QB the GOAT.  Brady is an iPhone, so please do not tell me you would rather have a Cingular

 

  • It is not John Elway, Troy Aikman, Brett Favre, or Dan Marino. Remember that Tom Brady has a 196-55 regular-season record and a 28-9 playoff record.  He has 488 touchdowns and 160 interceptions in the regular season and 71:31 numbers in the postseason.  Oh, he also has been to a record 8 Super Bowls and won a record 5 of them as a starting QB.  The four guys I have mentioned cannot come near a resume like that.

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  • It is not Aaron Rodgers. Yes, when Rodgers is healthy, he is the best quarterback in the league right now.  However, Brett Favre and injuries have kept his career performance down a bit.  Plus, consecutive seasons of legendarily devastating playoff defeats in Seattle and Arizona quite possibly kept him from having three championships, instead of 1.  I cannot say that a guy with one Super Bowl appearance is the GOAT.  Rodgers still has much of his career ahead of him.  Therefore, I cannot count him out in terms of taking over as GOAT.  However, he has a long way to go.

 

  • It is not Peyton Manning. Yes, there were times when we thought that Peyton was better.  However, Brady ultimately surpassed Peyton everywhere that matters.  Manning’s regular-season record of 186-79 falls short of Brady’s.  His 9-10 playoff record falls light years short of Brady’s.  While it is fair to say that Peyton’s playoff record is hurt by having several byes (and thus avoiding easy Wild-Card-Round wins), Brady’s is hurt by the same factor, and his record is doing just fine.  Both Brady and Peyton put up gaudy numbers on some very talented teams, while both dragged a few untalented teams to 10-win seasons.  Yes, Peyton threw for nearly 72,000 yards, while Brady threw for a little more than 66,000, but that is a negligible difference in the grand scheme of their careers.  Plus, Peyton was not good in Super Bowls.  He was average while winning Super Bowl MVP against the Bears (I thought Dominic Rhodes should have won the honor), was decent in the loss to the Saints, put up an epically horrendous performance against the Seahawks, and was dragged to a championship by Von Miller and the Broncos’ defense to finish his career.  Meanwhile, Tom Brady has played well to incredibly well in all eight of his Super Bowls.  In big game after big game, Brady has fought back through adversity.  However in big game after big game, Peyton performed worse as things got worse.  (Save for the 21-3 comeback against the Pats in the 2006 season).  Seriously, when the Broncos were down 8-0 in the first quarter of Super Bowl XLVIII, Peyton already had a look on his face of “I don’t want to be here anymore.”   Having watched Peyton and Brady for their entire careers, I can say that Peyton Manning is incredible.   However, Brady is clearly better.

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  • It is not Joe Montana. Montana has the best non-Brady case for being the GOAT, outside of Brady.  However, it is still not Montana.  A 117-47 regular-season record and a 16-7 playoff record are impressive, but Brady’s are better.  Plus, Montana threw for 40,551 yards, which is a far cry from Brady’s numbers.  I know that Montana played in an era when defensive players tried to murder any receiver cutting across the middle of the field, but a 26,000-yard difference is too sizable to attribute solely to that fact.  (Keep in mind that it was not until the second half of Brady’s career that the rules changed as mentioned here to receivers’ and QBs’ benefits.)  Therefore, I do attribute much of the yardage difference to the difference in eras (see the cell-phone analogy).

 

That said, I know the #1 argument that people make in favor of Montana being the GOAT.  These people say, “The guy never lost in the Super Bowl.  Brady has lost three times.”  OK, that argument would have merit if quarterbacks were randomly assigned Super Bowl trips.  However, it does not actually work that way.  Because a QB must earn a trip to the Super Bowl, a Super Bowl loss is a positive for a quarterback’s resume.  Of course, it is nowhere near as big a positive as a Super Bowl win, but it is positive nonetheless.  Furthermore, if Brady were 3-3 in Super Bowls, Montana sympathizers would have a leg on which to stand.  However, Brady is not 3-3.  He is 5-3.  He has won more Super Bowls than Montana, and he has been in twice as many.

 

Also, some people talk about how Montana “dominated” his Super Bowls, while Brady “has not”.  Yes, Montana dominated 3 of his 4 Super Bowls, his first being the only one in which he had pedestrian numbers.  People remember that two of his Super Bowls ended 38-16 and 55-10.  Yes, that is incredibly impressive.  However, Brady put up great numbers in all except his first Super Bowl, in which he led a game-winning drive in the last minute.  It is also worth noting that the Niners allowed 21, 16, 16, and 10 points in Montana’s four Super Bowl wins.  Meanwhile, the Patriots have allowed 17, 29, 21, 17, 21, 24, 28, and 41 points in Brady’s eight Super Bowls.  While I am not going to list all of Brady’s Super Bowl game stats, I can tell you that they are quite impressive (especially Sunday’s 505 yards with zero interceptions!) and rival Montana’s on a per-game basis.  I can also tell you that Brady’s lack of a dominant Super Bowl win is more of a function of the Pats’ and Niners’ defenses than it is of Montana’s and Brady’s play.  That said, Montana does get a point over Brady for having two lopsided Super Bowl wins.  I have to acknowledge that, so that Point #6 does not later turn me into a hypocrite.  (Montana should also lose a point for having a 49-3 playoff loss to the 1986 Giants.  Brady has no playoff losses that were so lopsided.)

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All that said, I feel strongly that 8 total Super Bowls, 5 Super Bowl wins, and 4 late-game Super Bowl-winning drives more than offset Montana’s two blowout wins and 4 total SB wins/appearances.

 

  • Sure, Brady’s career has been helped immensely by Bill Belichick, but that does not keep Brady from being the GOAT. All great players in team sports are functions of their teammates, coaches, and other external factors.  If Drew Bledsoe never got hurt or if Tom Brady were drafted by the Cleveland Browns, Tom Brady might not have become anything special at all.  However, you could say play the “What if?” game with anyone.  What if Bill Walsh were not in San Francisco with Montana?  What if the Colts picked Ryan Leaf and Peyton ended up on the Chargers?  Heck, what would Michael Jordan be if either Phil Jackson, Scottie Pippen, or both had never shown up in Chicago?  We do not know.  Nobody knows.  Therefore, we can judge greatness only by what we do know.

Yes, being the GOAT often requires some luck, but many people get good luck.  To be the GOAT, a player has to make the most out of every single morsel of luck that he receives.  Tom Brady was forced into action on an 0-2 Pats team that was following up a 5-11 season.  Let us not act like he was gifted a Hall-of-Fame career on a platter.  For every Tom Brady, there are countless John Skeltons, Brian Hoyers, Greg McElroys, Tim Rattays, Charlie Whitehursts, Trent Edwardses, and so on who make very little out of their good fortune.

Simply put, Tom Brady was given an opportunity in September of 2001; he grabbed that opportunity; and he has spent 17 years becoming the GOAT of NFL quarterbacks.

This One’s For Philadelphia

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Finally. It’s here. The Philadelphia Eagles are in the freaking Super Bowl. It doesn’t even feel real yet, and if you’re anything like me, you don’t have any idea what to think. Going up against the Evil Empire in the Belichick and Brady led Patriots is a pretty scary thing. Ten Super Bowl appearances, five wins, and currently going for their third in the last four years, this team is no stranger to winning. Seems like just about every year the Patriots are favorites to win the whole thing. Some Pats fans don’t even watch games until the postseason this is just so routine to them. But hey New England, this is our year. Take your five rings and deflated footballs and go back to Massachusetts. We deserve this one. Philadelphia deserves this one for all that we have been through. We have had so many of its sports hopes and dreams crushed. Not this year. This year just feels different. This year is for Joe Carter hitting a three-run homerun to bury the Phillies in 1993. This year is for Patrick Kane sneaking an impossible goal by Michael Leighton in overtime and watching the Blackhawks celebrate the Stanley Cup on our home ice. This year is for the Lakers crushing our spirits in 2001 by winning four straight to win the NBA finals after Allen Iverson stepped over Tyronn Lue in a Game 1 victory. This year is for our 2005 revenge. This year is for Philadelphia. When the Birds come running out of the tunnel to “Dreams and Nightmares” the Patriots are going to piss their pants and Philly fans across the country are going to have goosebumps shooting down their spine. These fans, this city, this team have waited seemingly forever to have a year like this. A year when the doubters were countless. Before the season even started the predictions had us winning no more than 7 games. Well we won 13 and two playoff games. It seemed like this team could do nothing right. Time and time again they would go out there and demolish a team and still hear criticism. Remember when the argument was that they never played a good team and all their wins were easy? Or how about when Carson Wentz went down and people wrote our season off. In the Divisional round of the playoffs this team held the Falcons to just 10 points (and don’t forget both scores were off turnovers). The same experts who said watch out for a streaking hot Atlanta team coming into the playoffs were also the same experts to downplay the Eagles after beating a “not-so-good” Falcons team. After the whole world gave them no chance to beat the Vikings and their stout defense, the Eagles DESTROYED them by 31 points… an absolute bully beat down. So go ahead, give a 40-year old Brady and a so-so defense the edge in this game. Give us no chance. Remind us how we have never won and how all the Patriots have done is win… it just makes us hungrier. We love being the underdogs because that is what Philadelphia is about. Blue collar, hard working, passionate people who thrive when doubted. Tell us your “expert” picks in the pregame show, I have a feeling they’ll be wrong once again.  A Super Bowl victory is going to be the only thing to finally give this team their respect and oh boy is it going to feel good. Malcolm Jenkins said he thought he was going to go deaf during the NFC Championship game because of how loud it was and I can’t wait to see how crazy these fans get all the way in Minneapolis. Eagles fans already made two away games in LA home games this year when they took over the Coliseum and the Stub Hub center. Now they are going to take over U.S Bank Stadium on Sunday. We are projected to outnumber Pats fans 3-1 at the game. An Eagles Super Bowl victory will mean everything to this city and these players know that. We have waited since 1933 for this. We are the most passionate fans in all of sports and man do we deserve this. This one is for us. This one is for Philadelphia. Go Birds.

McGon’s Picks: Super Bowl LII w/Prop Bets

The greatest Sunday of the year is finally here…

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…and the Super Bowl favorites from midseason are meeting in the big game. What a ride this has been to get to this point. This matchup seemed impossible once Carson Wentz went down in Week 14, and seemed even more impossible after Nick Foles’ subpar performances against the Raiders and Cowboys in Weeks 16 and 17. But things have come full circle, and the top seeds will matchup for the 4th time in the last 5 Super Bowls (when someone reminds you that the 2016 Cowboys are the only top seed to not make the Super Bowl over the last 5).

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Maybe the fact that this has never been the most stressful Sunday of my life is why I love this day so much.

To quickly recap the championship games, I nailed the AFC game for my first perfect spread and straight up winner of the postseason, before being completely wrong in the NFC game. Here’s a look back at the picks I made (winning team in red, spread winner in red):

Jaguars (+7.5) at Patriots

My Pick: Patriots 27, Jaguars 23, Actual Final Score: Patriots 24, Jaguars 20

Vikings (-3) at Eagles

My Pick: Vikings 20, Eagles 13

  • Eagles 38, Vikings 7- Jesus Christ, this was painful to watch. I forget the exact numbers, but stats show that a team who wins a playoff game on a walkoff TD has lost their next game every single time. After an easy score on the opening drive, that Vikings team was nowhere to be found the rest of the night. Nick Foles had his best game by far in his second stint with the Eagles, and everything was going right for the home team on both sides of the ball the entire night. Philadelphia was sent into a frenzy, and hopefully they will be sent into a frenzy this Sunday as well, except this time out of anger, burning the city down (except for Pat’s and Geno’s).

2017 Playoffs Straight-Up: 5-5, 2017 Playoffs Vs. Spread: 3-6-1

The last Sunday is the year is finally here.

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We’ll start it off with some of my favorite prop bets for the big game (odds for these are different based on the site, so I’m taking mine from Odds Shark).

Coin Toss

Heads: -105

Tails: -105

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My Pick: Heads

  • Tails never fails right? The public will be hammering tails, and a smart bettor fades the public, so I’m going with heads (Tails leads Heads in Super Bowl coin tosses 27-24).

How Long Will it Take for Pink to Sing the National Anthem? 

Over 2:00: -200

Under 2:00: +150

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My Pick: Over 2:00

  • Take a listen to a couple of Pink songs. You think there’s any chance she doesn’t milk out this anthem? Raise your glass and hammer the over on this one.

Which Team Will Score First?

Eagles: +115

Patriots: -145

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My Pick: Eagles

  • The Patriots have never scored in the first quarter of a Tom Brady Super Bowl. The Eagles will score first, and I think it will come on a Jake Elliott field goal in the 1st quarter.

How Many Times Will Carson Wentz be Mentioned During the Broadcast?

Over 3.5: -150

Under 3.5 +110

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My Pick: Over 3.5

  • This is an easy one for me. Carson Wentz’s name will be mentioned even when the broadcasters don’t have a specifically planned segment for it. His injury, his season before the injury, how he has supported Nick Foles, how Nick Foles took over for him, and how excited he is on the sidelines will all be mentioned at the very least. Hammer the over here.

What Color Will the Gatorade be That is Poured on the Game-Winning Coach?

Lime/green/yellow: +225

Orange: +250

Red: +275

Clear/water:+375

Blue: +1000

Purple: +1000

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My Pick: Clear/water

  • This is an especially tough one to pick as you have to factor in who you think will win as well. Since I’ll be taking New England, and that TB12 method probably suggests drinking zero calorie water instead of sugary Gatorade, I’m going with clear/water.

What Color Will Bill Belichick’s Shirt be at Kickoff?

Blue: -150

Gray: +140

Red: +900

White: +900

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My Pick: Blue

  • Side note, when Bill came out in a red sweatshirt instead of the ugly gray sweatshirt he had worn all year prior to Super Bowl XLII, I had a bad feeling. Bill has worn blue each of his last two Super Bowls, and the Patriots wore white both of those games, as they will be on Sunday, so I’m sticking with blue here.

How Many Clips From Super Bowl 39 Will be Shown During the Broadcast?

Over 2.5: +150

Under 2.5: -200

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My Pick: Under 2.5

  • Most people will remember that these two teams met in the Super Bowl 13 years ago. While basically everything else has changed, there’s one constant: Brady/Belichick. These highlights will be shown once, and the only chance they are for a second time will be if there is a similar situation, however, this game did not have a dramatic ending. This is an easy pick for the under.

Prop bets are fun, but it’s time for what really matters.

Super Bowl LII from Minneapolis, MN

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Eagles vs. Patriots (-4)

Patriots 27, Eagles 20

  • As much as I love this Patriots to win this matchup, I cannot see this Eagles team going down without a fight. I (and many others) have doubted them throughout the playoffs, and all they have done is gone out and got the job done. This team has rode the underdog mentality, and throw in the fact that every Patriot Super Bowl has been a close game, I expect a great performance out of the Eagles. But there’s no way I’m taking Nick Foles to beat Tom Brady on the biggest stage in sports. Foles has done his job, there’s no denying that. But it’s very easy to get caught up in recency bias with Nick Foles’ performance against the Vikings, as Foles really has only done alright in his other starts. He looked good against the Giants, bad against the Raiders, bad in a short stint against the Cowboys, and alright against the Falcons. He could easily build off of two weeks ago, as this is one game and his performance on Sunday is all that matters. However, don’t bet against Brady here. The Eagles will play a great first half and we will have a very close game at halftime, but I see Brady and the rest of the team’s big game experience playing a major factor in the second half as New England pulls away. The Eagles will fight enough to lose by just a TD, but in the end, Brady and Co. will be too much and they will win their 6th Lombardi trophy. The more this spread moves down, the easier it becomes to bet the Patriots. This won’t be an all time classic game, but it will be a great effort by both teams as the Patriots will win and cover.

  • 2015 Eagles-Patriots matchup, the last time these two teams met.

  • This is the 6th Super Bowl matchup to have a rematch, as the Patriots defeated the Eagles 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX to win their 3rd title in 4 years (will history repeat itself?).

That’s it for the 2017 NFL Season. Hopefully we’ll be back winning more games and making more money in September 2018. Will Boston win its 11th major sports title this century, or will Philadelphia win just its 2nd in the last 35 years?

Carson Wentz Wants the Patriots to Win the Super Bowl

Carson Wentz wants the Patriots to win the Super Bowl.  Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

Sure, we might hear an interview this week with Wentz in which he says something like, “I’ll be rooting harder than anyone for Nick Foles and the Eagles.”  Sure, reporters will inevitably blow this up into a full-page story about what a great team guy Wentz is, as if he had not simply uttered the obvious cliché line that any player in his situation would say.  However, let us be clear: If Wentz says anything at all about rooting for the Eagles, he is full of you-know-what.    Allow me to explain.

Carson Wentz was an MVP candidate as of the time of his Week-14 injury.  The Eagles were 10-2 at the time and on the verge of an 11th win.  Wentz was injured in the third quarter of that 11th win, and Nick Foles was ultimately behind center as the Eagles scored the winning points.  Thus, the Eagles entered Foles’s first 2017 start with an 11-2 record.   Since that time, Foles has started five games – two dominant efforts (against the Giants and in an otherworldly performance in the NFC Championship game against the Vikings), a solid effort in the Divisional Playoffs against the Falcons, an underwhelming performance in a win against the Raiders, and a bad but brief and meaningless performance in the season finale against the Cowboys.  In the modern NFL, it is not unusual for any starting quarterback to have two dominant games, a decent game, a below-average game, and a bad game over a 5-game stretch.

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However, it is a big deal that Foles’s most dominant game of this stretch did come in the NFC Championship.  In that game, he threw for 352 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and a passer rating of 141.4.  That dominant performance against Minnesota has caused many people to shed a more positive light on Foles’s Divisional-Round effort with 246 passing yards and a 100.1 passer rating.  Furthermore, Foles’s win over the Giants saw Foles throw 4 touchdowns and bring the Eagles to a 99% probability of earning the top seed in the NFC.  Therefore, it is easy for Eagles fans to ignore Foles’s bad efforts in Weeks 16 and 17, as the games were essentially meaningless.

That all said, Carson Wentz did lead the Eagles to a 10-2 record this season and had them on the doorstep of 11-2.  Carson Wentz did all the heavy lifting to earn the Eagles the top seed in the playoffs.   In 13 starts, Wentz threw for 3296 yards, 33 TDs, 7 interceptions, and a 101.9 passer rating.  For good measure, Wentz also added 299 rushing yards.  Yes, Foles has had two dominant games and one respectable game over a 5-game stretch, but could Foles have done what Wentz did for 13 games?  I do not know.  Furthermore, if Wentz is as fierce a competitor as Eagles fans would want him to be, Wentz should think that Foles could not have done it.

Additionally, I am sure that Carson Wentz has thought from Day 1 in Philadelphia, “I am gonna be the guy who finally brings a Super Bowl Championship to Philly.  I am gonna be loved and adored in that City forever.   They will love me even more than they love Rocky, and they actually think that Rocky Balboa was a real person.”  Look, I hate the Eagles and hope that they go up in flames on Sunday, but, if the Eagles had drafted me to be their savior quarterback, I am certain I would be thinking the afore-mentioned quote as well.

Anyway, let us now take a quick journey through Carson Wentz’s career in Philly.  He had a strong, albeit losing, first season in Philly.  Then, he went out and dominated Season 2.  By midseason, the Eagles were the clear favorites to win the NFC.  Wentz put the Eagles on the doorstep of clinching the #1 seed, and then BOOM!…He got hurt.  By that point, Wentz’s replacement needed only to win one of three games to guarantee the #1 seed.  That replacement, Foles, took care of business in that first game.  Then, he stunk his way through Weeks 16 and 17.  After that, he played a very pedestrian game against the high-powered Atlanta Falcons.  Foles lead the Eagles to a mere 15 points but lucked out because his defense played a stellar game in holding Atlanta to 10.  The next week, Foles went out and played “the game of his life” against the Vikings to put the Eagles in the Super Bowl.

Now, we do not know what will happen this coming Sunday in Minneapolis.  However, if the Eagles win, Nick Foles will forever be the guy adored by Eagles fans for bringing Philly its first Super Bowl Championship.  It does not matter that Wentz got the Eagles to 10-2 this season.  Foles will be the guy hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.  Even if Wentz ultimately wins (shudder) six future Philly championships as the starter, Foles will always be the guy who brought the city its first Super Bowl Championship.  That has to kill Wentz inside.  In fact, if it does not, and if I were an Eagles fan; I would be mad that my starting QB is not competitive enough!

Now I know many of you might be thinking of parallels between Wentz/Foles and Phil Simms and Jeff Hostetler of the 1990 Giants.  We Giants fans loved Hostetler for stepping in for Simms and winning the last two regular-season games, two NFC-playoff games, and the Super Bowl.  However, we never thought that Hostetler could legitimately replace a healthy Simms (although a QB controversy did ultimately emerge in 1991 and 1992).  The Giants won those five Hostetler starts in the 1990 season on the strengths of an elite defense and a strong rushing attack.  Hostetler did just enough to win.  In fact, the Giants used a formula similar to that which the Eagles used with Foles against the Falcons.  That said, unlike with Foles against the Vikings, Hostetler did not have any “the game of his life” playoff games.

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In fact, when I put “the game of his life” in quotes for Foles’ NFC Championship performance, I did so because Foles did go 8-2 in 10 starts for the 2013 Eagles.  He threw for 2891 yards, 27 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, and a passer rating of 119.2.  Wow, those are some great numbers!  Also, Foles threw for 7 touchdowns in one game against the Raiders that year.  In fact, I would argue Foles’ 2013 numbers are more impressive than Wentz’s 2017 numbers, and Wentz knows that such a case can be made.  To the contrary, Jeff Hostetler was a career backup, and neither Simms nor most Giants fans ever felt that Hostetler could outplay Simms for any significant period of time.  Moreover, prior to Hostetler’s Super Bowl victory, Simms had already won a Super Bowl, the Giants’ first.  Therefore, even though Hostetler did win Super Bowl XXV with “Simms’ team”, Phil Simms knew he would remain more legendary than Jeff Hostetler in the minds of Giants fans.   On the other hand, the analogous scenario is not true with Wentz and Foles.  Wentz knows that Foles had an all-time great (by any QB’s standards) season 4 years ago and that Foles was temporarily ruined in 2015 by known QB wrecker Jeff Fisher.  It is not completely unreasonable for a person to think that Foles is better than Wentz…Wentz knows that and cannot be happy about it.  Meanwhile, Wentz does know though that, if Foles loses the Super Bowl, fickle Philly fans will immediately criticize Foles and talk about how they will win the Super Bowl next year when the superior Wentz returns.  Wentz has to know that.

On the other hand, if the Eagles win the Super Bowl, not only does Wentz have to deal with the “scene” of Foles basking in the glory Wentz feels should belong to him……but Wentz also knows that it is actually fathomable that he would then find himself in a “Goddamn arms race” with Foles.  Boom. That is a double whammy that would eat at my soul if I were Wentz.

Therefore, Wentz can say whatever he wants…but, deep down – in his heart, in his brain, and in his soul; he wants to be the guy to bring Philly its first Lombardi Trophy.  Carson Wentz is absolutely rooting for the Patriots.