Gruesome Loss in Foxborough

Tom Brady. Super Bowl champions. Belichick. Foxborough.

These are the words that usually make lots of people nervous when playing the New England Patriots. Everybody except Andy Reid, that is. The NFL season has officially begun, and what a crazy epidemic match we witnessed on Thursday Night Football when the Kansas City Chiefs came in to the reigning Lombardi Trophy wielders, and made the champs look like chumps. Ironic how the 66,000+ fans in attendance had pictures of Roger Goodell with a clown nose, but the Pats were the ones with pie on their face at the end of this game. Considering we saw Brady play the best second half in Super Bowl history, we now witnessed one of his worst second half performances during the Patriots home opener.

There is no doubt the Patriots started off strong, collecting their first drive for a total of 78 yards and a touchdown. They looked unstoppable, just how we all expected Bill Belichick’s team to always perform since he took over as head coach in 2000. The touchdowns definitely came easy as always for New England, so where did they go wrong? Was it the bad luck? Did they lose momentum when Belichick decided to go for it on 4th down not once, but twice and didn’t convert on downs? Or could the crowd to be blamed for being silenced when Gronkowski catching the 20 yard bullet pass in the end zone, only for the play to be reviewed and ruled the ball touch the ground? Nobody can blame Belichick for believing in his offense, but maybe some credit needs to be noted towards Kansas City defense. Granted they allowed Mike Gillislee three touchdowns when on the goal line, they did stop the Patriots when it mattered most. They didn’t create any turn overs, but they did sack Tom Brady in the second half three times; two of them accumulating from Justin Houston himself.

The Patriots did have every opportunity to punish Kansas City for their mistakes. The very first play on their first drive the Chiefs handed the ball off to rookie running back Kareem Hunt, only for the 12 yard run to end in a fumble recovered by the Patriots defense. Patriots didn’t execute from the turnover, and basically just wasted time off the clock for Kansas City to set up a new drive, go down the field, and score. Tip of the hat goes towards Andy Reid, Alex Smith, and Kareem Hunt for not allowing the momentum the Patriots were stacking up get to them. They were like a vacuum, sucking out the crowd noise and the pressure building on their shoulders. Even when the Chiefs were trying to just give the game away — racking up 15 penalties for 139 yards — Alex Smith still came on the field to do his job.

Maybe signing Patrick Mahomes was the motivation to spark Smith to play the best we’ve ever seen him, and secure his starting position as quarterback. Smith was 28 for 35 passing completions, with an 80% completion percentage, 352 passing yards averaging 9.3 yards per play, and 3 passing touchdowns. That is some straight up Tom Brady statistics, only Brady wasn’t as fortunate with his numbers. Brady only had 247 passing yards, completing a mere 44% of his passes, averaging 6 yards per play, and ended the day with a big goose egg for passing touchdowns. Was it role reversal day in Foxborough that none of us were aware of? That may be one of the worst stats we’ve seen from Tom Brady since his rookie year playing in the NFL.

Despite the fumble his first play mentioned above, Kareem Hunt had himself one hell of debut being broadcast nationally. Coming home with a whopping 148 rushing yards, 98 passing yards, 3 total touchdowns. That’s a total of 246 scrimmage yards, which hasn’t been done since 1970. In the second half of the game, Kareem Hunt looked scary good. Whether it was momentum or motivation, the Patriots did not have an answer for Hunt. This might be a common theme going forward the rest of the season for other defenses, especially if Alex Smith decides to keep setting the bar high for himself. People expected good things from Hunt this season taking over for an injured Spencer Ware, and I was one of them. Nobody expected something this spectacular from a rookie going in to Foxborough. Was it beginners luck? Possibly. It would be foolish to expect Kareem Hunt to have explosive games like this every week. Then again, last year we saw Jay Ajayi have back-to-back 200+ rushing yard games, so anything can happen.

On the flip side of the coin, don’t expect the Patriots to look like this the remainder of the year. Maybe New England just underestimated what Kansas City has to offer this year. Perhaps Bill Belichick blames the Patriots being five weeks behind everyone else. One thing is for certain though: I wouldn’t want to be the New Orleans Saints next week. Between an angry head coach, a motivated Brady, and a defense that wants redemption, it looks like the Saints are going to have their hands full going in to week two.

Top 5 Running Backs in 2017

Can you believe it? The NFL season is officially here! With the anticipation of kickoffs and watching four quarters of all our favorite stars, also comes the excitement of fantasy football rosters. This year gives us quite the variety of running backs, and in that cluster of rookies is a big question mark on who will be the next big hit. There are five big names that people are throwing around, and despite all five of them have immense talent to bring towards the future, we can’t expect all of them will be the next Ezekiel Elliot. Here are the top five (in order) of most likely to have break out years for your fantasy football team:

 

#5 – Joe Mixon

This Oklahoma running back may have the most talent out of all the rookies this year, despite having a shady past. Mixon has already dealt with his suspension with the Sooners, but still dropped a little lower in the draft because of his actions. Looking forward, Mixon should eventually become a starting RB for Cincinnati — but it may not be this year. The Bengals have already announced that Jeremy Hill is their official starting RB, and Giovanni Bernard did not lose his spot as the #2 back on the roster. Might be a good move for Cincinnati to allow Mixon to learn the offense and pace of the game a little more, but it’s bad news for fantasy football owners who drafted Mixon early this year. Only way we’re seeing Mixon play is if there are key injuries, and that may not be towards to the end of the season, if at all. Although that’s exactly how David Johnson was discovered for his supreme talents in the league, so there is always hope for Joe Mixon… just maybe not this year.

 

#4 – Leonard Fournette

I know what you’re thinking. This must be a mistake, right? Fournette being this low must be some sort of a joke, as in an homage to him being picked #4 overall in the draft. The Jaguars definitely did a great job picking him up early in the draft, seeing the same thing we all saw at LSU: a hard-hitting, side-stepping, burst of talent running full speed ahead. The only vice on Fournette is that he becomes injury prone. While fantasy owners are going to biting their nails and crossing their fingers that Fournette stays healthy for them for a majority of a season, it also poses a good question of just how many touchdowns Fournette will obtain on the Jaguars. It’s not so much a secret anymore that Jacksonville has a young and talented defense, but their offense seems pretty lack luster with Blake Bortles behind center. Fournette may receive the majority of the hand offs in the first quarter, but if the Jaguars are constantly playing catch-up from behind they’re going to be handing off the ball less and less. Don’t expect to see too many garbage time touchdowns coming from the back field this year.

 

#3 – Dalvin Cook

This Florida State running back has some big shoes to fill in Minnesota this year. Cook is definitely talented, but nobody is entirely sure if he’s exactly Adrian Peterson caliber. Then again, who really is? Cook will most likely be splitting carries with Jerick McKinnon at first, and then going running back by committee once Latavius Murray when he returns from injury reserve. As of right now Cook is named as the leading RB for the team, but the Vikings are going to go with whoever is the hot hand when it comes to game time. Cook’s total touches is a pretty mild worry on whether to play him in fantasy this year though. The real problem is whether Minnesota’s offensive line can help or hurt the rookie RB. Last year Sam Bradford ran in to lots of troubles the last eight games by having constant pressure in his face. The Vikings O-Line were cursed with injuries across the board, and their second string were not ready for the task to take care of business. If the Vikings come into injury problems again this year, their line may not hold very well for such a young and promising Dalvin Cook.

 

#2 – Christain McCaffrey

As much as he gained love from NCAA affiliates, the biggest criticism McCaffrey received going into the NFL combine was he was too small, too slow, and too weak. The Carolina Panthers took a gamble on him regardless, and it looks to be the better end of the deal considering that McCaffrey had a great pre-season. Picking a great RB early in the draft was a pretty smart move coming from Carolina, who have an aging Jonathan Stewart on their roster. The only worry going in to this fantasy football season is how many rushing touchdowns McCaffrey will see his first year in the big leagues. When on the goal line the Panthers generally will still hand off to Stewart, but they also have the option of looking for their all-pro tight end Greg Olson, or they’ll have Cam Newton run it in to the endzone himself. McCaffrey is his own special breed, though. He will be utilized more so on the receiving end, running the flat routes or quick screens. We could potentially be talking about McCaffrey being up there as some of the greats such as Darren SprolesDanny Woodhead, or Matt Forte. Expect to see Christain McCaffrey have just as many receiving yards as he does rushing yards this year, which makes him extremely valuable for PPR leagues in fantasy football.

 

#1 – Kareem Hunt

Possibly the most over-looked running back in the draft this year, Hunt has the most potential to make an identity for himself among the fantasy football world. With Spencer Ware tearing his MCL, it has the gate wide open for Hunt to take over as the new face of their offense. For fantasy football owners, there is no question that Hunt will be taking the majority of the work load on the Chiefs. It’s a nice sigh of relief knowing that Hunt is the starter, but it only adds to the value knowing that the Kansas City is a run-first type of offense. The only question when it comes to their offensive roster is whether or not Patrick Mahomes will take over as starting quarterback this year or not. Andy Reid is one of the most well respected coaches in the NFL, so whether he sits or starts Mahomes people will just his judgement. If Mahomes does become a starter this year, they may capture the same type of lighting in a bottle magic that the Dallas Cowboys had last year with Dak and Zeke. Either way, Hunt has looked impressive during his pre-season, and no matter which quarterback is under center he has a good offensive line to help him out, and an even better defense to rely on to keep the time management on their side. Alex Smith doesn’t throw too many passing TD’s, so the majority of the Chief’s scoring is going to be coming from the running game.

Don’t Be A Super Fan

We are officially in the Hunt for October! That means the post season fever is hitting all baseball fans, and turning avid sports fans to at least pay attention to the standings in between college football and the NFL pre-season. The one type of fan to look out for are the Super Fans. You know the type — the people at the bar or in the stands who may take the game a little too seriously. That’s unfortunately who my wife and I ran in to on August 29th at Miller Park during the Brewers vs. Cardinals game.

Miller Park. What a beaut.

Great seats, great day, great friends. What could go wrong besides maybe a loss? The day was going by blissfully as we entered the stadium. We saw Bernie’s Slide walking from the parking lot, took some great candid photos inside the atrium, and of course had to get ourselves a Leinenkugal’s beer with a bratwurst. Living off that humble Wisconsin atmosphere. The National Anthem was sung beautifully, the roof stayed open, and you could almost hear Bob Uecker’s voice ring out “We’ve got a good one here; come on out!” before the first pitch. The mood was merry and joyful, and just when the strings were all set for an enjoyable evening of baseball, they all were cut at once in the bottom of the third inning when this man sat in front of us.

Meet our Brew Crew Super Fan himself. A middle aged ex-little league coach who didn’t come with any friends nor family, who has been kicked out of numerous beer leagues, and is absolutely convinced that his spiritual motivation is the turning tide for his favorite team to win. Any time between batters (or innings) this man would whistle louder than a freight train at ear piercing volumes, along with yells across the baseball diamond that shook the entire section of seats we were unfortunate to share with him. The Super Fan was convinced that if he yelled the player’s names loud enough that they would come in to the stands and high-five him with an 80’s montage level of reassurance that his attendance is important. The worst part of being a Super Fan? They. Do. Not. Stop. Always at the most inopportune times will he stand up and begin screaming over and over again, so much so that parents became fearful for their children. Children giving him looks of pure Baby Shade. You know that look that toddlers give to people they’re unsure about, where you can just tell on their face that they’re thinking in their little noggins “what the hell is wrong with this guy”? That’s Baby Shade.

His favorite phrase. The sonic booming, “Let’s Go” that eventually became a joke. People all around us reaching for their phones to capture his overabundance of character. Admittedly, by the sixth inning the Super Fan went from irritating to entertaining. A few trips to the Leine’s beer stand may have had some influence on this attitude change, or if could have been the crowd around us making their riffs on the Fan. Every ten minutes or so a man three rows above us would give us his own “Let’s goooo” in the most mockingly non-chalant tone he could spout off. The group in the row behind us became our Brewer buddies as we all laughed over the Super Fan’s antics. As one man put it, “If you can’t beat him, join him”. And that we did, which despite the grueling loss (the final score 10-2) being seated next to the Super Fan ended up being one of the more enjoyable, albeit unique, experiences while at Miller Park. At the very least the it makes for a good anecdote, and with every good story there should always come a lesson. Cheering and hollaring are always in good fun for any sporting event, and no matter how excited being in the presence of our favorite stars may be, please for the sanity of those around you… never become a Super Fan.