Posts by Bowser

Chiefs rout the Patriots; lingering thoughts from Sunday

NFL: New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs

There’s still a little part me that is trying to figure exactly what happened last night. Before last night’s game, the Chiefs were in an upswing while the Patriots were trending in the opposite direction. But last night’s game pushed both teams in the same direction at an exponential rate, something few could have seen coming. The Chiefs, in front of their raucous crowd, completely dominated the Patriots from start to finish last night. At halftime it was conceivable that Kansas City, shutting out Tom Brady and co, could hold the Patriots to a zero on the scoreboard. Nothing was working for New England on offense, nothing. The Chiefs did a nice job of completely eliminating New England’s running game, forcing the Brady to make throws that he didn’t seem comfortable making. The Patriots QB was abysmal (11.6 total QBR) as he was picked off twice and fumbled the ball. The stellar defense by Kansas City was matched only by their offense, led by pro-bowl running back Jamaal Charles. Wait, wasn’t #25 on the Chiefs supposed to be hurt? You wouldn’t think after Charles ran for a score and caught two more touchdown passes with some nice red zone plays by Kansas City. Alex Smith looked sharp (20-26, 248 yds, 3 TDs) as he spread the ball nicely among his weapons, executing an effective game plan that the Patriots defense had no answer for. It doesn’t hurt when the home crowd (record breaking atmosphere) is given reason, after reason, to becoming louder and louder. What now for these teams? Well, the Chiefs are trending in the right direction and are in San Francisco this weekend. Should be a great game. The Patriots though, might be in some real trouble. The Brady “elite” questions are a hot topic right now but if I were a Patriots fan, I’d be more worried about the coming schedule. Things might get worse before they get better in New England.

I’m tempted to make some power rankings right now, but seeing as four of the teams that would probably be in the top five (Denver, Seattle, Arizona and Cincinnati) were on bye week, it seems kind of pointless. We’ll leave the lists for next week. The latest breaking “news” coming out of the league right now if the firing of Dennis Allen, who is now the former head coach of the Oakland Raiders. I put the word news in quotation marks because it’s nothing unexpected. Rumors of Allen being fired this season were swirling before the season started and after an abysmal 0-4 start, it was only time until the Raiders made it official. Normally i’m not a fan of mid-season firing but considering that Oakland is the worst team in the league (I’d take the Jaguars on a neutral field) there had to be something done. Cue the Jon Gruden rumors everyone! Alright, so lingering thoughts from Sunday’s games. Is the NFC East all of a sudden one of the stronger divisions? Unfathomable before the season started. The NFC West will hold the title but the East is right up there with them, the AFC North and AFC West, as a strong division. Worst divisions in the league? The AFC South is the clear contender but I think the AFC East is giving them some real competition; the NFC South is heading towards that zone. The NFC is slightly ahead of AFC in terms of overall wins but it’s a little early to try and determine which conference. That’s the thing about the NFL, your first two weeks or your first month might set the trend for the season but it’s not an ultimatum. There’s still a lot of football to be played and much will be determined as we get into the real meaty part of the season. Let’s just hope the negative headlines don’t resurface.

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What we learned from Week 4 in the NFL

AP FALCONS VIKINGS FOOTBALL S FBN USA MN

With plenty of good teams missing because of their bye week, yesterday had the potential to be a very stale day in the NFL. Blowout wins were predicted throughout the set and we got plenty of those games, but we also got some very close games that came down to the final minutes of the 4th quarter along with some surprising results. Who could have predicted the Buccaneers incredible comeback against the Steelers? I think Pittsburgh lost that game more than the Bucs won it, but it was still an impressive drive by Mike Glennon to win the game with only seconds left on the lock. If not for Tampa Bay’s win, the entire NFC South loses yesterday, something that seemed crazy since it’s supposed to be one of the stronger divisions in the league. Staying in the NFC South, the Falcons were victims of Teddy Bridgewater’s first game as a starter with the Vikings. How amazing was Bridgewater? Sure, he wasn’t world-class with his passing but his dazzling plays throughout the game gave hope to Minnesota of a bright future with a young quarterback. Now let’s just hope his ankle injury isn’t anything too serious. What other teams dazzled yesterday? The Packers went into Chicago, one week after panic spread throughout Wisconsin, and routed the Bears built off of a huge second half. The Colts have climbed back to .500 after another huge win led by another huge performance by one Andrew Luck, who continues to be the biggest revelation in fantasy football this season. What about the Ravens? We’ll get to Steve Smith a little later but Baltimore was very impressive at home against the Panthers yesterday. Carolina had no response on defense and all of a sudden, the Ravens have some real pressure on the Bengals and makes the AFC North much more interesting. Don’t worry, I left my Cowboys for the end to save the best for last. Dallas had a very impressive win last night, routing the Saints in the spotlight of the final game of the day. I predicted a competitive game, but if anyone had predicted a lopsided win, it was in favor of New Orleans. Excellent win for the Cowboys.

So we know who impressed us as a unit, but which players are stealing the headlines? Which players are being features in “Top 10” lists around the sports world? And, more importantly, which players deserve the honor and distinction of being recognized as the performance of the day or my favorite play of the day? Well, if you know what i’m a fan of, you probably have an idea of who will get the honors. Unfortunately, I only have Steve Smith on one of my fantasy teams but I was very quick to put him as one of my starters. I had anticipated Smith playing against the Panthers from the start of the season and boy, oh boy, did he deliver. Yes, he had some luck with his first TD catch (or was it planned?) but it was just that kind of day for #89 of the Ravens. Smith’s “revengebig game yesterday gets honors for my performance of the day while Antonio Brown’s WR pass to Le’Veon Bell is my favorite play of the day. It was pretty obvious from the get-go that those would be my two choices but I have to recognize other players who performed well. I mentioned Andrew Luck (393 yds, 4 TDs) but have to include Aaron Rodgers (302 yds, 4 TDs) and Philip Rivers (377 yds, 3 TDs) as other quarterbacks who led their teams to victories with impressive performances. From the back field it was DeMarco Murray (149 yds, 2 TDs) who led the Cowboys to another impressive performance based off the running game. Let’s not forget about Matt Asiata (100 scrimmage yards, 3 TDs) who was very impressive in the red zone, scoring three times and racking up the fantasy points. One thing is for sure about this season, the Seahawks and Broncos might still be the favorites to return to the Super Bowl but they aren’t glaring favorites so that sets up for an exciting rest of the season now that we’re a quarter of the way into it.

Tonight’s game features the Patriots (-3) in Kansas City to take on the Chiefs. Normally i’d jump on the Patriots in a heartbeat but New England, despite winning, did not look impressive last week. The Chiefs, on the other hand, were thought to be pretty much done before their impressive win in Miami last week. The way these teams are trending, it’s temping to go with Kansas City. But I can’t bet on Tom Brady and co having back-to-back unimpressive performances. I like the Patriots but the Chiefs are certainly playing well enough to make tonight’s game very interesting.

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Giants rout the Redskins; what to look for in Sunday’s game

CORRECTED VERSION: New York Giants v Washington Redskins

Was anyone in New York watching the Giants-Redskins game last night? NY is, and always will be, a baseball town and last night all the attention was on Derek Jeter and his storybook ending at Yankee Stadium. It was a great story that will continue to fill headlines; much congratulations to Jeter, a class act and the model for not only being a professional athlete, but juggling world-class girlfriends. But this will be about football and there was a game last night. The Giants took advantage of Washington’s turnovers and routed their division rival last night. How many fantasy football games around the world did Kirk Cousins ruin last night? Six total turnovers for Washington but Cousins, accounting for five, threw four interceptions and also fumbled the ball in a nightmare game for the Redskins quarterback. It seemed like every time I looked up at my television, it was either an interception by Cousins or Eli Manning throwing a touchdown pass to TE Larry Donnell. Manning had five total TDs (one rush) and his favorite target was the young, relatively unknown, tight end Donnell who accounted for three scores. Donnell flourishes in the Giants style of offense and all of a sudden, the G-men have looked impressive for a couple games straight. The Giants have picked up steam and with two big games against the Eagles and Cowboys in October, next month could very well determine how much success they have. Washington is looking less impressive, still in the hunt but their last two losses have been against division rivals. With a sole win coming against the Jaguars, the feeling around the nation’s capital for their football team is looking pretty bleak right now.

It’s one thing to have six teams on bye (why not four every time?) but it’s another thing to have four of the best 5 or 6 teams in the league on bye, depending on how high one rates the Cardinals. I like them and along with Arizona, we have Seattle, Denver, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Cleveland on bye week. Good luck to everyone in starting less-than-stellar players on their fantasy teams this week. So technically, if you wanted to avoid divorce from your wife or breaking up with your girlfriend, this Sunday would be the ideal day to not watch football for an entire day. I’m not in that camp because this weekend, we have the Panthers going to Baltimore and facing the wrath of Steve Smith. Why would you focus on any other game for the noon slate? Luckily my Cowboys are playing at night so i’ll be able to focus on Ravens-Panthers. But there are other interesting games, even if they don’t jump off the page immediately. Normally Bears-Packers is a great watch but Green Bay has been underwhelming and many are wondering what is wrong with the Packers. Can they bounce back? The Dolpins and Raiders are in England. What a treat for the British, huh? The Eagles are in San Francisco in the late afternoon games and i’m very interested in this game. Can the 49ers bounce back? How will Philadelphia deal with their lack of running game and injuries? Should be a good one. Things end in my neck of the woods as the Saints are in “JerryWorld” to take on the Cowboys. Can the Saints continue their momentum after their first win of the season last week? Remember, last year the Saints embarrassed the Cowboys in the night game with the number of first downs they were able to record. I’m nervous but expect it to be a competitive game this time.

Just because I feel so strongly about this subject, i’d like to claim my full support to Bill Simmons. #FreeSimmons

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Bears hold off Jets’ rally; lingering thoughts from week 3

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It was difficult to figure out what to expect from last night’s game. The Jets were lukewarm at best, their only victory coming in week 1 against the Raiders, who are fighting against the Bucs for the title of “worst team in the league” right now. Then we have the Bears who were coming off a very impressive second half, and fourth quarter, against San Francisco just a week ago in a night game. We didn’t know what Chicago team we would get and because of that, we didn’t know what kind of response the Jets would come out with. The Bears held off a late Jets’ rally that fell short as Chicago took the victory on the road, taking advantage of their opponent’s mistakes and inefficiency in the red zone. We were less than a minute into the game and the Bears already had a score coming off a “pick-six” thrown by Geno Smith. Bad start for the young quarterback and while Smith was better as the game went on, he really struggled to find his form up to that point. Geno’s TD pass to Kerley was nice but he had to go through another interception and the Jets were bad in the red zone. Praise Nick Folk for making his field goals but if they get into the end zone at least one of those times, there isn’t desperation at the end of the game. But credit Chicago for taking advantage of the situation and holding to their lead that they established early on. The Bears had a scare when star receiver Brandon Marshall but he returned; by that time Jay Cutler had turned his TE Martellus Bennett for the scoring in the end zone. The Jets might be in trouble. After their Lions game this coming weekend, they have a three game stretch where they face the Chargers, Broncos and Patriots all in a row. It’s not as tough for Chicago but if they want to establish themselves as the sole leaders of a division they need to win at home against the Packers this weekend, a game that doesn’t seem as daunting as it did before the season started.

So I’ve had a chance to look at the scores and take a deeper look at the scores from this past weekend; there’s also the surprising standings. Does anyone realize that we’re left with only three undefeated teams in the league? I know, kind of a silly statement. But, it’s surprising to think since it seems like by week 5 or 6, there are still two or three teams left. Because the Cardinals and Bengals are on byes this week, it’s the Eagles have the biggest opportunity to be the first undefeated team to go down. They’re in San Francisco this weekend in a very interesting game. Meanwhile, the other teams are in a good position to take their bye weekend because both have a tough road game in the fifth week. The Cardinals are in Denver (tough) and the Bengals are in New England (not as tough) for week 5. Can’t wait for either of those games. The NFC is wide open, partly because three teams that were supposed to be early favorites (Saints, 49ers and Packers) have only combined for three wins. Crazy. The AFC is more in order, because even though Patriots (specifically the offense) have been underwhelming, only the Colts have caused confusion. Indianapolis has started slow but with their schedule, they should be back in order soon enough. Aside from that everything else in the conference seems to be in order. After this weekend we’ll be a quarter of the way through the season but since so many good teams are in their bye week, i’ll wait until after week 5 to do a power ranking of the best five teams in the league.

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Fourth Sunday of the NFL season stays at high level

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The NFL as a whole is getting a lot of negative attention right now; a midst all of the actual football headlines the league is dealing with what seems to be an endless amount of off-the-field activity. But that’s just the nature of the NFL beast these days. How goes the league redeem itself? Whatever Roger Goodell is doing right now to fix his league’s problems, it’s not very effective. I’d like to think that he’s just a puppet with the NFL owners right above him, pulling the strings. Alas, that’s another topic for another time. What can the players do? Aside from “simply” staying out of trouble, the players have to go out on the field and perform. The NFL at it’s best is when they let the games do the talking and we got plenty of that yesterday, overshadowing, at least for one day, all the negative press surrounding the league. Just like my good buddy Colin Cowherd said in this tweet. As Denver was driving against Seattle to try and tie the game, could anyone look away? It’s just a shame that we didn’t get to see Denver have an opportunity to score in overtime. Or what about the Cowboys, down 21-0 at one point, coming back to stun the Rams? Don’t tell me that the Romo haters weren’t waiting, eager to express their opinion as they waited for the inevitable interception that never happened. Did anyone watch Eagles-Redskins and have no idea who was going to win? Aside from the fight, that was the type of game the NFL hopes to showcase. Back and forth action between two bitter rivals where the losing team feels that they deserved to win just as much as their opponent.

Throughout all the chaos and action sits Cincinnati, winning another game convincingly and sitting alone at the top of the AFC mountain as the only undefeated team in the conference. AJ Green is limited because of injuries? No problem, they’ll just have Andy Dalton catch the passes and score their first touchdown of the game. Mohamed Sanu’s touchdown pass to his QB is my favorite play of the week, edging out Russell Wilson’s catch on a similar play. If the Seahawks’ play scores a touchdown, it’s a tie but simply because the Benagals’ play was for a touchdown, it gets the nod. What else impressed me yesterday? The Chargers going into Buffalo and getting a big win. I thought San Diego looked efficient and very much in sync as they carried their momentum from last week’s win over Seattle. The Giants, who looked really bad in their first two games, bounced back nicely against the Texans. The G-Men were able to take advantage of Houston’s mistakes to win big in front of their home crowd. The Chiefs, without Jamaal Charles, looked really good in Miami as they got their first win of the season. What about another road warrior? The Steelers were in Carolina and facing a tough defense but it didn’t appear tough last night as Pittsburgh put up 37 points, improving to 2-1 and making the AFC North a very interesting division heading forward.

The Bears are in New York tonight to take on the Jets (-2) and i’ll be watching this game pretty closely. I’m most interested to see Bears RB Matt Forte against the Jets’ run defense. Should be close early but I have a feeling that Chicago’s efficiency in the red zone is the difference and Bears pull away late.

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Falcons destroy the Buccaneers; questions for Sunday’s games

9-19

Don’t let the final score fool you. A 56-14 win by Atlanta over Tampa Bay isn’t indicative of how lop-sided last night’s game was. In fact, it was worse. If the Falcons continue to play at full strength, they definitely break the NFL record for biggest shutout and most points scored by a winning team (73-0) in an NFL game. After scoring 56 unanswered points from the start of the game, the Falcons pulled some of their starters and the Buccaneers scored a couple of touchdowns to save some of their dignity and avoid being shutout. Like I said, it was as bad as the score shows or worse. The first drive showed it all. The Falcons started the game at their own 30-yard line and marched down the field with little to no resistance, taking less than three minutes to score their first touchdown of the game. From there, it was a snowball effect against the Buccaneers. Atlanta started the game with two passing TDs by Matt Ryan but after that it was more of a “pick your poison” style of scoring for Atlanta. Fumble recoveries, interceptions, sacks, punt returns etc. Anything and everything was working for the Falcons and it was the most lopsided NFL game that I’ve seen in a while. Atlanta’s Devin Hester gets most of the headlines, breaking the NFL’s record for return TDs and now holds the top spot by himself with 20 scored. Normally i’m against celebrating before you get into the end zone, but its not every single day you get to break a record set by Deion Sanders so i’ll let it slide. So what’s next for these teams? Atlanta can hold the top spot of the division, depending on what happens with the Panthers so they’re looking alright with a somewhat favorable schedule coming up. And for Tampa Bay, things can only go up from here.

Now that last night’s game is over, we’re going to get better games on Sunday, right? It appears so. Just like in week 1, we’re getting a massive early slate of games. Only a couple of those ten games immediately jump off the page but all-in-all, there are plenty of games that should be very interesting. Can’t wait to see the Chargers in Buffalo, a good test for both of these teams that should reveal how good they are. What about all these early division games? Can Kirk Cousins continue good play when they’re in Philadelphia? Ravens in Cleveland should be fun. Is the Browns defense, specifically the front part, one of the best in the league? With the Packers at the Lions in a dome, how high can the score be? Over/under is 53 points for that game and I love the over. Also, people are underestimating the Jaguars and with the Colts in town, what’s stopping them from having an exciting game? There are only three late afternoon games but two are very good and the other one probably won’t be as great. I’ll have the 49ers in Arizona on a side screen but of course everyone will be tuning into the Broncos in Seattle. Super Bowl re-match…blah blah blah. We know the headlines and all the possible talking points. Just watch the game. The Steelers are in Carolina to finish things off and a part of me wants to pick Pittsburgh but I have to stop doubting the Panthers and their stellar defense.

My two picks were terrible last weekend. I’m going with the big spreads this weekend. The Patriots (+14) against the Raiders and the Saints (+10) against the Vikings. Betting against the Raiders and betting the Saints at home seem like the logical way to go. Enjoy the games everyone.

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Eagles rally in the 4th to take down Colts

Philadelphia Eagles v Indianapolis Colts

Last night I predicted that it would be Andrew Luck leading the Colts to a 4th quarter rally. He almost did, with a chance to drive his team to a game-winning score, the Colts and Luck weren’t able to it happen. The play calling was terrible and thus the Eagles got the ball back with a chance to win the game. Various Philadelphia players stepped it up during the 4th quarter and rallied to win in Indianapolis, winning big on the road to stay undefeated and atop the NFC East. Just when the Eagles looked like they were going to be out of the game, their three best players made the plays necessary to stay in the game. Simply put: it was a back-and-forth game and when it mattered the most, Eagles’ players Nick Foles, LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles were the difference for their offense. When 3rd and long came around, it was the Philadelphia running game that converted, uncharacteristically with the type of high-octane offense that head coach Chip Kelly typically runs. What a game for Sproles, who looked like a young running back trying to earn his spot on the team and not a veteran who is backing up one of the best backs in the league. Let’s not ignore that the Eagles did have a bit of help from two different sources. The first was the Colts and their turnovers, both of which came at the hands of their running back Trent Richardson. Richardson actually had some good runs but because of those two fumbles, teamed with how back up Ahmad Bradshaw played, it’s very likely that Richardson will see his carries decline as the season progresses.

Now, it’s impossible to ignore the officiating late in the game. In every single game there are calls deemed “questionable” but it’s very rare that we get two calls around the same critical point in the game that fit the category. A key interception teamed with a key “horse collar” penalty favored Philadelphia, putting them in position for their game-tying drive in the fourth quarter. On the interception, it was clear that Colts’ T.Y. Hilton received some contact by the Eagles’ defender before his teammate came and intercepted the ball. Indianapolis protested but nothing came from it. Not too long after that, the Colts had the Eagles in a 3rd and long and tackled McCoy much before the first down line but were flagged for a personal foul. The replay clearly showed that McCoy was taken down by his jersey and not his collar. Eagles get a fresh set of downs and continue their drive to tie the game. But let’s not place the blame complete on the officiating because the Colts had their chances to keep their lead and overtake it late in the game. Sure, the calls went Philadelphia’s way but they still deserve praise for taking advantage of the situation. The Colts are 0-2, something that no one predicted before the season started. Luckily for them, they play in a bad division and their schedule doesn’t look too tough heading forward. The Eagles on the other hand sit 2-0 with some important games coming up so that will make a big difference if they hope to stay atop the NFC East.

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Second Sunday of NFL season brings more surprises

AP SEAHAWKS CHARGERS FOOTBALL S FBN USA CA

Gotta love the NFL. After the first Sunday of action brought plenty of surprises, week 2 followed suit with it’s own shocking results and impressive performances. Where do I even start? The logical direction is to just go through the more notable games in the order in which they happened, but i’d to discuss them in most expected to least expected.

Although these games were closer than expected, we knew that the Broncos would beat the Chiefs, the Packers would beat the Jets. More lopsided victories include the Redskins over the Jaguars, Texans over Raiders (back to them a little later) and the Patriots over the Vikings. My Cowboys, with running and defense, got an impressive victory on the road but they aren’t even the toughest team to figure out. The Bills, with two impressive victories to start the season, rolled over the Dolphins and are leading the division. Or even the Panthers, one of the two hot picks for a regression year, shut down a potent Detroit offense and won convincingly at home. In the end, i’m torn between three games for most impressive victory of the day. Cleveland rallied to beat the Saints at home, getting their first win of the season and the first win for new head coach Mike Pettine. But we all know that the Saints can be very shaky on the road, and yesterday proved that home field will matter a lot to their success. The same goes for Seattle, who haven’t been world-beaters when it comes to their road tendencies. The Chargers, who always seem poised for a big win, scored all over the Seahawks defense and probably had the biggest win of the day. Then I remember last night’s final game between the Bears and 49ers. And how deep the Chicago had to dig in order to get a gritty, 4th quarter comeback victory in San Francisco on opening night of their shiny new stadium. The Bears get this round slightly over the Chargers. After their stunning lost to the Bills last week, Jay Cutler and co had no choice but to bounce back in incredible fashion. Success for them as the standings get more and more interesting to start the season off.

So now that we’ve quickly gone through the most impressive win of the game, what about individual players themselves? Well I talked about how impressive Jay Cutler (23-34, 167, 4 TDs) was, especially in the 4th quarter where he showed plenty of poise and leadership. Fellow NFC North quarterback Aaron Rodgers (346 yds, 3 TDs, 38 yds rush) was also impressive, most of his big plays going to Jordy Nelson (209 yds, 1 TD) and most of them coming in the second half. What other pairing could challenge them? Philip Rivers (284 yds, 3 TDs, 17 yds rush) making it rain all over the Seahawks, with the touchdown catches going to his TE Antonio Gates (96 yds, 3 TDs) is strong candidate. Because of how many pure yards he got, partnered with his big 80-yard touchdown reception, Jordy Nelson gets performance of the day but play of the day clearly goes to J.J. Watt. If anyone has ever read  about my favorite plays that happen in the NFL, they know that obscure or bizarre plays are my absolute favorite. Fake field goals, fake punts, reverses, direct snaps etc. And although my number one favorite play is a TD pass by a half-back or running back, i’m also a big fan of when a defensive player scores a touchdown on offense. Sure, it was an easy wide-open catch by Watt, but when’s the next time we’re going to see something like that? Big ups to the Texans for that play.

For a couple of different reasons, i’ll be watching tonight’s game between the Eagles and Colts pretty closely. I expect for Philadelphia, who can be deadly inside of a dome, to race out to an early lead before Andrew Luck does his thing and makes it close late. Close game that either team could win. Should be a fun one.

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