Category Archives: NFL

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


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


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.

Three Penalty Rules That the NFL Should Change

I admit it, I admit it.  I was wrong.  I hate being wrong, and I hate having to admit being wrong…but I will do so when necessary.  At the start of the season, I made a rambling post about how great the NFL is and how the ratings decline was nothing more a reflection of our struggle to measure media consumption in the current world.  My friend, Matt, contested that the incessant long replays and frequency of penalties had legitimately hurt interest in the NFL.  I disagreed with him at the time, but, after a full season to reflect, I know that Matt was right…and I was wrong.

Way too often, the excitement of a thrilling play is dampened by an unnecessary 5-minute review.  Way too often, we keep seeing ticky-tack penalties take away big plays or cause major changes in field position and in the control of the game.  The NFL needs to clean this up.  I have already spoken of my desires to cap replay reviews at one minute in length and allow coaches to challenge penalties.  That said, there are three additional changes that the league needs to make to its penalty system.  Let us now run through them:

  • Pass interference should default to a 15-yard penalty, with an option for a flagrant penalty. We see way too many cases of quarterbacks chucking up 40-yard passes and hoping for (and earning) pass-interference calls.  For example, on Sunday, AJ Bouye clearly committed pass interference on this play, but it does not seem to me that the Pats deserved to gain 40 yards of field position because of it.  Without the interference, it remains quite unlikely that Brandin Cooks hauls in Tom Brady’s pass.  Therefore, the 40-yard penalty late in the second quarter was a major game-changer that did not feel right to any unbiased observer.  The Pats started that play at the Jags’ 45, and the penalty put New England at the end zone’s doorstep.  The Pats ultimately scored the touchdown to pull within 14-10.

The better result would have been a 15-yard penalty.  This would have given the Patriots a first down at the Jags’ 30, but it would have not have moved them so close to a touchdown.  This would have made it more likely that the Jags would have held the Pats to a field goal.  The 15-yard penalty is a punishment that fits the crime.  Furthermore, I think that, when many quarterbacks heave deep balls, they do so looking solely for PI calls.  In these cases, the QBs often have little expectation that their receivers will catch said passes.  I think that this penalty change would decrease this practice a bit.

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At the same time, I know, I know, I know the counterargument to my proposal.  The counterargument to my point is, “But wouldn’t defensive backs just start tackling wide receivers?”  Well, most of the time, interference occurs because the defensive and offensive players are close to each other.  That fact alone shows that, without interference, the defender could have contested the pass.  Thus, without the penalty, it also would not have been an easy catch for the receiver.  Furthermore, if you ask a quarterback, “Would you rather have a sure 15-yard PI call or the chance for your receiver to beat a DB for a 40-yard catch, what would you choose?”  Most coaches would choose the former: the sure first down and 15-yard gain.

That all said, I would allow officials to have the right to call “flagrant pass interference” if the PI prevents a “sure, long reception”.  In other words, if a DB trips a receiver who is blowing past him for a potential wide-open and deep reception, that can be considered a spot foul as we see with the current rule.  However, officials are to reserve that call for the most obvious and flagrant of PI calls.  In my mind, that should satisfy people who worry that DBs would have motivation to tackle people left and right.

  • “Unsportsmanlike Conduct/Unnecessary Roughness/Face Mask” should be broken into two categories – 5-yard penalties and 15-yard penalties. Yes, in olden days this was how the “face-mask” penalty went.  If a player touched the mask but did not grab hold of it, the penalty was a 5-yarder with no automatic first down.  However, if a player pulled on the mask, it was a 15-yarder and an automatic first down.  This rule made perfect sense.  Usually, the NHL, not the NFL, is the league that gets rid of things that make perfect sense.  Thus, Gary Bettman should be proud of the NFL for making all facemask penalties 15-yarders.  It makes no sense. The NFL got rid of a rule that made perfect sense!  Granted, I am pretty sure that this rule change was made so that officials had one fewer thing about which to worry.  I do not care though.  Officials should be able to handle the decision between a 5-yarder and a 15-yarder.  Simply put, 15-yard penalties drastically alter games, so a 15-yard facemask penalty should come only from something fragrant.

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This same metric should be applied to all “Unnecessary Roughness” calls.   I get it – if a DB sprints head-first into a receiver’s head, that should be a 15-yarder.  If a lineman body slams a QB 3 seconds after releasing the ball, that too should be a 15-yarder.  However, if a defensive player is trying to make a clean hit only to have the ball carrier move his head into the hit at the last second, should that really be 15 yards???  No, 5 yards and no automatic first down should suffice.  Likewise, for the 350-pound lineman running full speed and having to stop on a dime when the QB releases the ball….let us give that guy 2 or 3 seconds before it is a 15-yard penalty.  If it is a late hit but only 1-1.5 seconds after the QB throws the pass, a 5-yard penalty seems fair to me.

  • “Defensive holding” should not be an automatic first down. This penalty is not interference.  This is a case of a defensive player obstructing a wide receiver when the ball is not on its way. Therefore, a 5-yard penalty with a replay of down seems more than adequate in the punishment department.  I do not understand why a hold on 3rd and 15 should automatically give a team a first down.  Maybe in an era when penalties were called less frequently, that rule would have made sense.  However, we do not live in that era.  I agree with Jon Gruden when he says, “The penalty should call itself”.  In other words, I wish that the refs would let the guys play and call only major penalties.  However, the game is not called this way right now.  We see “defensive holding” penalties called all the time. Therefore, let us knock that penalty down to 5 yards, and we will get rid of silly, undeserved first downs.  When a defensive player commits holding, the offense would continue to reap the benefits of 5 yards and a replay of the down.  That is an appropriate punishment for the crime and reward for the offense.

 Roger Goodell, I hope you listen to me.  If not, I am sure Vince McMahon would love to listen to my ideas!

Pros and Cons of Rooting for Either Team in Super Bowl LII as a Giants fan

Well that couldn’t have gone any worse, could it? In the AFC championship game, the Jaguars almost did what America so desperately wanted and knocked off the Patriots. Unfortunately, almost is they key word in that sentence, and Tom Brady & company came back from a ten point fourth quarter deficit to secure their eighth AFC Championship in the Brady & Belichick era. I wanted more than anything for this guy to be in the Super Bowl,

but the Football Gods decided Brady would represent the AFC for the third time in the last four years. This tweet I came across last night is also absolutely insane

I mean, that’s unreal. For a league that prides itself on parity and having everyone be relatively competitive, having only four quarterbacks represent an entire conference over a 15-year span is bananas. Regardless, if you had said at any point in the last year that Brady would be an AFC champ again, no one would blame you.

So as a Giants fan, or really any team, obviously the Patriots winning was not what you wanted. Rooting against the Patriots is like hitting on a girl that’s out of your league. You know how it’s gonna end the whole time, but then they give you a little glimmer of hope that maybe it’ll be different this time, only for it to end exactly how you originally thought. Moral of the story? The Patriots will always win and I will always get curved by girls but that is neither here nor there.

In the NFC game, you had the Vikings coming off one of the craziest finishes to a game probably ever, against the Eagles who have been thriving in the underdog role ever since MVP hopeful Carson Wentz tore his ACL. Although many people counted them out from that moment, “Big Dick” Nick Foles has more than risen to the challenge and has now put the Birds in the Super Bowl. I feel like I was pretty much in the same boat as most people thinking it would be a close game. The Vikings had momentum (and maybe a bit better of a team) on their side, the Eagles had home-field advantage. Well, that’s not what happened at all, and the Eagles handed the Vikings what my housemate and resident BTB hockey blogger Philly Phil would call a “Bully Beatdown.”

So us Giants fans are stuck in a pickle here. Super Bowl LII, Pats vs. Birds. Who do we root for? Let’s weigh our options.

The Case to Root For the Patriots

1. We’re Conditioned to Block Out Their Wins at This Point

Obviously no one likes it when the Patriots win. But you just know it’s coming at this point. If Brady wins another Super Bowl in two weeks, does it really matter anymore? The guy already has five. Not trying to take anything away from him because obviously every Super Bowl is an outstanding accomplishment, but you could tell me Brady’s gonna win twelve Super Bowls at this point and I’d believe you. Realizing the Patriots are probably gonna win the Super Bowl is the same as knowing the Knicks will be garbage every year. At a certain point it happens so often you just become numb to it.

2. Eli Would Still be the Only QB to Ever Beat Brady on the Big Stage

I’ve let it be known before that every sports highlight is better with Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On set to it, and this video is no exception. Brady scoffing at the notion that the Giants defense could hold the Pats’ offense in check at the beginning is also a great touch. But every Giants fan obviously knows how incredible it was to win those games (XLII especially, not to say XLVI wasn’t awesome but ruining their perfect season was the cherry on top of that game), and it’s something only Giants fans can say. Eli Manning is the only one to have beaten the Greatest QB of All-Time in the Super Bowl, and he did it twice. I’m no mathematician, but I know that if Brady is considered the GOAT, and Eli beat him in the championship game twice, then Eli must actually be the GOAT. No, I’m just kidding, but every Giants fan knows the pride that comes with saying your team is the only one to beat Brady on Super Bowl Sunday, and it’s the one thing that somewhat softens the blow whenever you see Brady get up on that podium and hoist the Lombardi.

3. The Eagles are Our Bigger Rivals

Sure, the G-Men have played the Pats twice in the Super Bowl. But we won both times. They’re in the AFC, we’re in the NFC, therefore we only play once every four years. It’s the same reason I don’t really consider the Jets our rivals. Well, that, and the fact that they are one of the saddest excuses for a franchise in North American sports (see also: Browns, Mets, Marlins.)

But we play the Eagles twice a year. They’re our division rivals. They’ve given us some heartbreaking defeats lately. Remember this one from when we actually still believed we could be a functioning football team in 2017?

Stayed with the Celine Dion there, don’t really know why. But that was a BRUTAL moment for us Giants fans. And who could forget this?

To this day, you can say “Fuck Matt Dodge” at any Giants tailgate/game and surely get a bunch of fans agreeing with you. So given everything I just said, how could you root for the Eagles?

1. It’s Still the Fucking Patriots

There’s still no shot anyone with a brain wants to see the Patriots win the Super Bowl. These are the same guys that got caught with Spygate and Deflategate. Their fans are insufferable. They win literally every year. The last thing anyone wants to see is them win another Super Bowl, regardless of who they’re playing.

2. I Hate Boston Sports Much More Than Philly Fans

I’m a baseball guy first. More specifically, a Yankees guy first. You know who our main rival is? The Boston Red Sox. In fact, that’s perhaps the best rivalry in professional sports. You know who else Red Sox fans root for? The Patriots. Any success for Boston sports makes me sick. Pictures like this showing how much recent success they have make me want to vomit.

The Patriots win every year. The Red Sox have won three since ending the Curse of the Bambino in 2004. The Celtics may be the best team in the East this year. And the Bruins sit near the top of the NHL standings. Seeing these fans get to enjoy yet another parade doesn’t get any easier, even if seeing Brady hold the Lombardi does.

3. What if it Never Ends?

I stand behind what I said that I’m pretty much immune to the Patriots themselves winning Super Bowls. I’ve seen them win five, what’s six or seven or even twelve gonna change? But what if it’s even more than that? What if Brady plays until he’s 80? Super Bowl 100 rolls around and they’re just still winning every single year? Call me crazy but that’s the way it’s looking at this point, and if an Eagles win could do one thing it would at least slow them down for now.

Conclusion: I came into this blog thinking I was gonna root for the Eagles. As started writing, however, the Patriots started to make more sense. However, I’ve come to a conclusion that I think every Giants fan can get on board with: drink a lot of beer on Super Bowl Sunday, hope your box pool numbers hit, and watch Saquon Barkley highlights on your phone in hopes that he’ll be a Giant in a few months. I can definitely get behind that plan.

Absurdly Ridiculously Incredibly Incredible Pats Stats

The New England Patriots are now playing in their seventh-consecutive AFC Championship Game.  This is a pretty clear indicator that the Brady/Belichick Pats have entered an area of absurd postseason stats.  Let’s examine more deeply.

1) Yes, the Pats are now playing in a record 7th-consecutive conference-championship game (and 12th in 17 seasons).  If you recall, Brady lost his first two playoff games after returning from his 2008 injury.  After he lost a Wild-Card Game to Joe Flacco’s Ravens and a Divisional Game (post-bye) to Mark Sanchez’s Jets, many people started to doubt the Pats’ status as a postseason force.  Since then, the Pats have reeled off seven-straight conference-championship-game berths.  So much for that doubt.  Meanwhile, Mark Sanchez remains the only QB to beat the Brady/Belichick Pats with the Pats coming off a bye.

2) The Pats are 3-3 in these six consecutive conference championships (0-2 in Denver, 1-1 at home against Baltimore, 1-0 at home against Indy, and 1-0 at home against Pittsburgh).  Game 7 happens this Sunday against Jacksonville.  While any cliche hockey announcer might love to say that “anything can happen in a Game 7”, I have trouble believing that these Pats could lose to Blake Bortles’s Jags, with all due respect to Blake’s decent game on Sunday in Pittsburgh.

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3) The Brady/Belichick Pats are 26-9 in the postseason.  This is absurdly ridiculously incredibly incredible.  A win this Sunday against the Jags would put the Pats at 27-9, good for a .750 winning percentage.  This percentage would mean that the Pats are playing at the same clip as a 12-4 team….playing at this pace over their entire playoff experience!  Usually, teams get to 12-4 in part by beating up on some cupcakes on the schedule.  In the playoffs, this is not the case.  Playoff teams are almost always good.  This leads me to Stat #4.

4) The Brady/Belichick Pats have played exactly three games in the Wild-Card Round.  While that stat might not be incredible for most teams, it is amazing for a team who has been in the playoffs 15 of the past 17 seasons.  Of course, the Pats have managed to earn 12 byes of those 17 seasons, so I think you can handle the math on that one.  That said, Wild-Card-Round games are usually good chances for good teams to pad their playoff win totals.  After all, the worst playoff teams usually get knocked out in this round.  No shock there.  In fact, Peyton Manning’s playoff record was hurt by the fact that he too rarely got to play in the Wild-Card Round.  One might expect that Brady’s playoff record would be hurt by this too, but somehow he has been just fine.  Meanwhile, only 3 of the Pats’ 26 postseason wins in this era are ones against teams I consider pushover opponents – the 2011* Tebow Broncos, the 2016 Texans, and the 2017 Titans – all wins at Foxboro in the Divisional Round.  

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5) Thus, who have been the Pats’ opponents in their 26 wins?  Here is the definitive list.

4: Indianapolis Colts (twice against Manning, twice against Luck)

3: Pittsburgh Steelers (all in AFC Championship Games, twice in Pittsburgh)

2: Baltimore Ravens

2: Houston Texans

2: Jacksonville Jaguars

2: San Diego Chargers (in 2006/2007, when the Bolts were really really good)

2: Tennessee Titans

1: Denver Broncos

1: Kansas City Chiefs

1: New York Jets

1: Oakland Raiders (“Snow Game”)

1 apiece for the five teams they beat in the Super Bowl: St. Louis Rams, Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons

6) Remember after Flacco’s and the Ravens’ second playoff win at Foxboro (2012 Season’s AFC Championship Game) when everyone started saying that the Pats aren’t that tough in Foxboro?  Yeah, about that….the Brady/Belichick Pats are actually 18-3 at home in the playoffs.  Wow.  If your name is neither “Flacco” nor “Sanchez”, then you are not a QB who has won a playoff game in Foxboro this millennium.  

Image result for mark sanchez beats patriots

7) Thus, the Brady/Belichick Pats began 8-0 in the playoffs at home and are currently on a 7-0 run in the playoffs at home.  Between those two stretches, the Pats had a 3-3 stretch in playoff home games.  Thus, a Pats win against Jacksonville on Sunday would put the Pats on another 8-0 streak and provide symmetry to their home playoff performances.

8) The Brady/Belichick Patriots are 5-2 in Super Bowls.  Most people know that.  Most people also know the delightful fact that the New York Giants are the only team to beat the Brady/Belichick stats in the Super Bowl….and they did it twice.  Let us never forget this glorious fact.

9) Speaking of which, the last time the Patriots won a road** playoff game, most football fans had never even heard of David Tyree….and the iPhone had not yet been released.  The Pats’ last road playoff win came in San Diego in the playoffs of the 2006 season.  In this win, the Pats took down a dominant 14-2 Chargers team.  

10) In fact, the Pats have only 3 road playoff wins in this era – the two AFC-Championship wins in Pittsburgh (2001 and 2004 seasons) and this San Diego game.  Granted, while this number of 3 road wins might seem paltry, keep in mind that these Pats have played only 7 road playoff games among their 29 non-Super-Bowl playoff games (including the game this coming Sunday).  All 4 of the Pats’ road playoff losses fall inside the Venn Diagram of “Losses in Denver” and “Losses against Peyton Manning”.  Two of these losses are in the overlap region (the 2013 and 2015 AFC Championship Games).  One was the loss in the 2006 AFC Championship Game in Indy, when Peyton led an 18-point comeback.  Of course, the other loss came in the 2005 AFC Divisional Round at Jake Plummer’s Broncos.  I should note that, in all 15 of these Pats’ 17 playoff seasons, New England has won the AFC East and thus started the playoffs with a home game (either in the Wild-Card Round or Divisional Round), hence greatly decreasing the number of opportunities for the Pats to have road playoff games.

11) As a result, these Pats have played in as many Super Bowls as road playoff games (7 to 7, with a chance for Super Bowls to increase to 8 on Sunday).  Furthermore, these Pats have two more Super Bowl wins (5) than road playoff wins (3).  Wow.

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12) Lastly, the Brady/Belichick Pats’ records per round are:

2-1 in Wild-Card Round (2005 season: home win over Jacksonville, 2006 season: home win over NY Jets, 2009 season: home loss to Baltimore)

12-2 in Divisional Round

7-4 in AFC Championship (three losses to Peyton, one to Flacco)

5-2 in Super Bowl


*When I say “2011 Tebow Broncos”, I mean the Broncos of the 2011 season, although the playoffs took place in 2012.  I use that same method of labeling seasons throughout the post.

**Super Bowls are considered neutral-site games, not road games.