Archive for September, 2015

Week 1: What I liked, what I didn’t and quick picks

September 17, 2015

Christmas morning, Spring Break, your birthday or to a lesser extent,  the weekend. We look forward to special days with great expectations and anxious minds and before we know it, they’ve come and gone. It’s no different with the opening weekend of the NFL season. For months we break down positional battles, speculate about rookie or free agent additions and for a lot of us, pore over Fantasy Football rankings and mock drafts. We have get-togethers, some elaborate, some not so elaborate, with food, drinks and friends, and just like Christmas morning, it’s over in what feels like a blink of an eye. Despite the whirlwind feel, Week 1 started at 8:30 eastern on Thursday and didn’t end until well after midnight on Monday. I love sports, but dang, that’s a ton of football. With that block of time being consumed by one sport, there’s going to be a lot to digest. Some of it good, some if it bad. Let’s take a look at what I liked, and what I hated: (more…)

Week 1- part two

September 9, 2015

San Diego vs. Detroit: Living with San Diego sports fans is one of the strangest experiences I’ve ever had. If you were to listen to Chargers fans talk about their team, you would think they had gone through a stretch of losing seasons that could rival the Oakland Raiders. When you look at the numbers, you see that they have the 4th highest win total in the league since 2005. There is such a little brother syndrome when it comes to San Diego and Los Angeles that the fans can’t even appreciate the good things they have here. Every year there are calls for Philip Rivers’ benching, and every year he churns out Hall of Fame numbers. Last season, the Chargers went through the roughest offensive line season in recent memory, cycled through running backs like a high school team and still finished 10th in the league in weighted DVOA despite having the 30th ranked rushing attack. That credit has to go almost entirely to Phillip Rivers and his magical bolo tie. With a revamped line and some new weapons around him, he should have a little more support, and that’s going to make for a dangerous offense. (more…)

The year of the Whiners and Cheeseheads- Week 1 preview.

September 9, 2015

I’ve watched sports for a long time and I’ve seen off-seasons with labor disputes, free agent movement and even franchise  movement. I’ve seen some crazy things over the last 20 years, but nothing prepared me for how insane the NFL’s offseason was this year. We had an All-Pro and  two young linebackers walk away due to safety concerns, two franchise running backs change teams (Murray and McCoy) and the most asinine court case in recent memory (Deflategate). The only real positives to come out of the offseason were a steadily increasing awareness of the dangers of head trauma and an ever-growing outcry for Roger Goodell’s power to decrease. I already detailed my belief into how the heat and humidity gets us all riled up for the violence of football, but beyond the animalistic desire for blood, everyone is ready to move past the off-field nonsense and just watch the game we love. (more…)

Finally, fall sports are back.

September 6, 2015

As I’m writing this, I have the air conditioner on full blast, an ice pack on my neck and an egg frying on the sidewalk. My dog has given up on ever keeping his tongue in his mouth when we go outside and even beachgoers want nothing to do with this. Nothing makes you appreciate the fall quite like late summer, and that holds true for more than just the weather. Sports, like life, go in stages along with the changing weather. Every spring, we look forward to the warmth of summer and the nostalgia of baseball season. By the time the dog days of summer hit, we’re all ready to move on from the heat and relentless plodding of America’s Pastime. Similar to how Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer and the summer sports seasons, Labor Day brings us the pennant race and the beginning of football season. If Americans didn’t already have enough of a violent streak, the seemingly endless heat and humidity seems to make us even more anxious to watch things get destroyed. Whether it’s the figurative destruction of the opposition by eliminating them from playoff contention in baseball, or the literal destruction of our fellow human beings in football, our blood lust kicks up to an all time high every fall.
Over the last few years, more and more evidence has come out linking long-term mental disorders to the concussive and sub-concussive hits involved with football, and that combined with the rash of legal problems and other disciplinary situations the NFL has faced has put a bit of a damper on my enthusiasm for the sport. All of life is about compartmentalizing, finding ways to enjoy the positives of life while somehow ignoring the pain and ugliness that exists, but it’s becoming more and more difficult to take this step with a sport that is essentially killing it’s participants in a slow manner while we paint our faces and lustily cheer these gladiators on. With all that being said , I may not enjoy it or care as much as I did when I was in high school and college and these men will never be my heroes, but I still have some ability to sit back and enjoy the display of pure skill and athleticism that football brings.

Predicting records and award winners is a losing game, but it’s one that every writer plays at the start of every season. My baseball predictions were a mixture of self-proclaimed brilliance and horrifying ugliness, but that won’t stop me from taking a shot at the NFL. I already covered the specific players that I’m watching this season, the team side offers some fun as well.
Every season, 32 teams vie for 12 playoff spots and no league turns over its playoff participants quite like the NFL. No other sport offers the opportunity for fortunes to improve from year to year quite like football does. Seemingly every year, at least one team makes a jump from a losing record to the playoffs. Conversely, every year at least one team goes from contention to mediocrity or worse. There is a multitude of factors that can cause this; a jump or decline in turnover rate, injury issues or a lack thereof and even the team’s record in one score games. All 3 of these play a huge role in a team’s fortunes from year to year, and all 3 are primarily based on luck. Since these things are borderline impossible to predict, I use other factors to predict which teams will rise, which will fall and who’s going to stay strong from year to year. Improvement in quarterback play, upgrades to a coaching staff and either improvement to existing talent or an influx of new talent are the best predictors to how teams are going to perform from year to year. This offseason provided a lot of roster movement with star running backs moving around, coaches being hired and fired all around the league and hopeful franchise quarterback being taken in the drafts. Here are my picks for who’s rising and who’s falling, along with the two teams that will surprise and disappoint the most compared to last season. (more…)