Archive | AFC RSS feed for this section

NFL17 Pre-Play: Triumvirate Intact, Patriots Grip On Power Remains Firm

1 Jun

Hail the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft!

Never in the history of sport has a tightly-woven triad of money (owner), brain (coach) & brawn (player) so effectively organized and implemented an operation of success over such a long period of time and with so little apparent friction as have these three, compatible personalities.

Historically, the triumvirate has shown mixed results.

The ancient Romans, building blocks to Western civilization, triumvirated a couple of times (Caesar – Crassus – Pompey 60 BC / Antony – Octavian – Lepidus 43BC), without much claim to victory, save brief respites from war.

Jumping forward to the North American pro sport scene, you’d be hard-pressed to find the same owner, coach (mgr) and top player remaining together winning titles for anywhere near as long as the Foxborough Three have been doing it.

There were the Habs (1944-79), Yanks (1923-62), Celtics & Lakers, dynasties we’ve been talking about for generations but none a triumvirate of top-level talent staying intact for as prolonged a period as these Patriots powerbrokers.

There were the Lombardi – Green Bay teams where ownership (EC – BoD), coach and key offensive player in Bart Starr, the way under-rated Bart Starr, won lots o’ titles but in a much more concentrated timeline (1961 – 68). Condensed greatness is potent (70s Steelers / 80s 49ers) and terrific in its own way but not of the championship continuum on topic here and special too itself.

It’s in the NBA where is found the only real comparison to the Patriots trio-of-time-tested-title-takers, that being the San Antonio Spurs.

The trifecta of Peoria native and current owner Peter Holt (1993), coach Gregg Popovich (1996 >) and recently retired center and championship nexus in Tim Duncan (1997-16) garnered five NBA titles (’99, 03, 05, 07, 14) in sixteen seasons, though never back-to-back (NE: 04-05), requisite for the dynasty.

But that was then, this is now, and wow, the Foxborough Three are defending NFL champions again after their Swing Time SB51 OT win over the ‘gotta’ still be stunned’ Falcons, having made the grade even as their starry starter in Brady had to sit the first four on his Deflategate susp’n. The red, white & blue bunch have been setting and maintaining a standard of sport excellence unlikely to be matched for a long, long time. Never say never, right?

Detractors will bemoan, ‘Hey dingdong, don’t forget Spygate, you fool!’ Always class-acts, and never redundant, the bemoaner boys. Rules violations are wrong, some even bad, i.e., failing to cooperate with an investigation (destroying a phone). But the general public, those with no serious rivalry axe-to-grind or having little interest in promoting their own brand of team who seek ’The Greatest’ award (Cowboys, Steelers, Packers, 49ers), just won’t be too bothered by black-marks on a team’s historical ledger that involve spying or stretching of the rules, outside game-fixing and PEDs. Spys have helped us win wars. A bit off-track here but that’s how the more rationally-minded fan will think.

Can they keep it going? Not forever, they can‘t, as hard as that is to imagine in 2017. Someday Tom will hang up his cleats, Bill hand in his headset one last time and Rob just won’t care anymore. All three have accomplished just about everything they can in the business of football, personally and as a team.

With Tom and Bill both having set the new standard in SB tandem wins with five and the team having set the record for Super Bowl appearances last February in Houston with their ninth (9) (5-4) (Pitt – Dallas – Denver all at eight (8)), about the only achievement unattained is to match and then surpass the Steelers league leading six (6) victories in the Big Game.

But as long as Brady stays healthy and the Foxborough Triumvirate keeps itself amused, an NFL bound to get more amusing, and lengthy, if not better, with Raja Goodell’s kow-tow in relaxing celebration rules, Pats should keep winning.

If you’re expecting to read here roster depth-chart chatter, draft break-downs and musings on New England’s 2017 schedule, forget it. Trust, in Belichick & Company’s judgment and future performance, has never been more earned.

Besides, who’s gonna’ stop ‘em? Anyone in the AFC?

Ben’s a trooper but needs sideline help; Denver & Houston have D but the Os are iffy; Colts & Titans have Os but Ds are doubtful; Raiders Las Vegas engagement came at a bad time for a still maturing Carr; Harbaugh & Flacco know how but is owner listening; KC will play out the string with Reid & Smith; Miami has a good QB in Tannehill but no good game-plan and Cincy, well, they’re Cincy.

In the weaker NFC the Cards turned conundrum; Wilson has D but needs a plan from Pete, not protest (CK); Rodgers needs a run-buddy and a D; Saints showed spunk late; Bucs are rising; Cats didn’t claw back in 2016; Eli is locked-in (‘20); Cousins may’ve peaked and that leaves Atlanta who need to shake off the shame.

Maybe it’s like those other eras with one, or two, dominant clubs, Pack in the 60s, Pitt – Dallas in 70s, 49ers in the 80s: Until the big dog (NE) loses its bite, everyone keeps focusing on the leader of the pack, tripping over their tail at the worst possible times. Course, having a defense that can close the deal is key, its absence to continue to be the biggest issue for most teams in 2017.

But in every NFL season there is the unexpected, that turnaround team where everything begins to click (Falcons / Raiders 2016-17), or sustained success sprouts from where no special tillage had been undertaken (Dallas draft).

As long as Robert Kraft, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick remain together in good spirits and keep “calm(ing) the envious spirit” in those sporadic challenges to their predominance, efforts that will require a charmed season aided in no small part by a capricious Sporting God set (See; Carolina ‘15 – Dallas ‘16), this 21st century will remain the Patriots Period, period.

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: NFL-wikiproject, wc.cca, Ixnay-Beao; Belichick-Kraft-Kerry, wc, US-Department-of-State, 4.25.15; T.Brady, wc, K.Allison, 8.28.09; W.Wood, Topps, 1970.
Posted: 6.1.17 @ 2:13p EST, edit 6.26; Copyright © 2017

NFL17 – SB51: Lombardi’s Legend Lives But It’s Bill Belichick’s Trophy Now, Vince

27 Jan

When the Big Game (SB51) is over n’ done, when all the “whohoopers” have blown and “tartookas” have bung, when the champions raise the Lombardi as a prize they’ve just won, serious discussions should begin at NFL Central about the prospect of re-naming the Big Trophy, after he hangs up his headset, of course, for the New England Patriots head football coach Bill Belichick who has for the better part of two decades mastered the sport like no other before.

— — —

It is Vince Lombardi’s name that is etched onto each Super Bowl trophy since 1971 (SB5), the year after the great NFL coach, teacher and cultural icon died from colon cancer in the nation’s capital city, Washington, D.C.

belichick-wc-d-shankbne-4-24-12-m176Vince’s pro journey began as the offensive coordinator on the 1950s Jim Lee Howell Giants (Landry as DC), then on recommendation of the Packers first choice, Iowa’s Forest Evashevski, was offered and accepted the project of resurrecting the greatness that had been Green Bay football under its founder, Curly Lambeau. When he was done in the Dairyland (‘68), having piled up five (5) NFL titles, including Super Bowls I & II, the Brooklyn-born taskmaster (Thurston: “He treats us all the same, like dogs”) was the standard of excellence in coaching and then started to tackle a new project in Washington, D.C. in guiding the long-suffering Redskins to their first winning season since Harry Truman’s first year as President in 1945 (7-5-2 (69)).

Lombardi’s Packers dominated much of the 60s, became the pride of Wisconsin football fans once again and, in its earlier days, the source of no small joy for the #1 Catholic and Vince’s friend in the White House, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

With his winning ways and confident, at times arrogant air, his legend grew to colossal size, so big that the name Lombardi become sacrosanct in sporting circles. All of which means a call to replace the name on the Silver Swag would lead Packer-backers and media friendlies to just about freak.

But the Vince Lombardi brand of ball is as old as a pair of Johnny Unitas high-tops. Not lesser in its importance, just older.

His style of coaching (“Captain Ahab” to Mike Tomlin’s “cheerleader(ing)?”) and game plans that dominated the gridiron are long gone, unknown to younger fans as the NFL’s Network rarely showcases their vintage & voluminous NFL Films library, fixated instead on gab & top ten lists to bring in the teeny-boppers.

lombarditrophy-wc-safetycap-6-16-16-619kThe last remnants of the Lombardi / pre-pass game retired when his rival Bud Grant handed-in his clipboard (‘85). Though personalities far apart (See; MMQB – SI.com), Vince & Bud were like-minded in their passion and emphasis on ground-game, team-play and toughness: No gloves, warming or sticky, nor heaters on the Metropolitan Stadium (d. 1983) or Lambeau Field sidelines, no matter the frigidity (-13°). It was a man’s game, though, on occasion, brutish ball (See; Ice Bowl).

‘So what’ you say, ‘Lombardi’s name is a terrific tie to the NFL’s glorious past!’ Agree. Nobody loves history more than this scribbler but the trophy should be fairly current in name-plate, more representative of the National game as it stands. Not to cue a change every ten (10) years but when 2+ generations have spanned and a good candidate is present (BB), a renovation is in order. Frankly, the Tiffany-designed trophy needs an update, a new model to lose the tail-fins.

This pitch isn’t about pegging the best head coach in NFL history. We know who the best assistant coach is in Buddy Ryan (d.2016), Hall-worthy anyway, voting snobs, but trying to make permanent the best ever by etching a name is foolish.

There’s never been a better football coach, motivator, than Vince Lombardi. But then one could safely say the same about Chuck Noll, Tom Landry, Paul Brown, Joe Gibbs, NFL founder George Halas (NFCC trophy), Weeb Ewbank, Hank Stram, Curly Lambeau, John Madden and so on and so on.

sb-trophy-wc-2-5-12-l-tyrnes-s-lukeNot just any ol’ championship coach should be knocking the great Vince Lombardi off of his lofty, symbolic perch.

And Bill Belichick ain’t just any ol’ champion coach.

New England’s hoodie-wearing, gridiron guru is nonpareil and stands as the League’s new standard of excellence, a winning method as clear and consistent, as admired and feared by opponents as was the Green Bay Packers power-sweep in the 1960s. Success seems almost automatic.

What about Spygate? With ever-changing technologies there’s a corresponding rapid change in societal mores and then challenges in defining new boundaries.

His detractors might diss this on Bill, ‘Without Brady, Belichick is fair at best.’

But every great coach has his great player(s): Holmgren had Favre, Jackson had Michael, Huggins had Ruth…and Gehrig, Pop Warner had Thorpe, Riley had Magic, Bill has Tom and Vince had Bart Starr, who, if not the master-motivator behind the success was the master implementer of Lombardi‘s vision.

The difference? Some have a flair for innovation. In the Big Name group, men like Pop, Amos Alonzo Stagg, Sid Gillman, Hank Stram, Halas, Walsh, Lambeau, Paul Brown, Lombardi, Tommy Gorman, Bear Bryant, Nick Saban, Dick Irvin, Adrian “Cap” Anson, Pete Carroll, John Wooden, Red Auerbach, Knute Rockne and Belichick invent ways to win while putting an emphasis on fundamentals.

lombardi-starr-wc-cca-gbBeauty of Belichick is best illustrated, not in Pats 2016 regular season mark (14-2), almost ho-hum for a B&B team, but that even as Tom was out, NE went 3-1 (Ws v. AZ, MIA and HOU), guided by two quarterbacks who, though played with composure, had zero (0) starts prior between them in Jim Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett.

By the time Bill retires, probably not long after his #1 (Tom) hangs up his cleats, Lombardi’s name will have graced the Big Trophy for over fifty (50) years. That’s a long, respectful time.

When the Powers-that-Be named the trophy in 1970, it was about excellence, empathy & remembrance. Another naming (2020+) could be about excellence, remembrance and relevancy. But even if, Belichick, as was Lombardi, is proud and would likely refuse the honor. Great minds think alike. Vince wasn’t all too keen either about renaming City Field for the legendary Lambeau. But one can hardly imagine today the famous frozen tundra titled any other way.

Will Bill Belichick hoist his 5th Lombardi when SB51 comes to a close? That I have not yet decided. Whether he does or doesn’t, the name game will begin.

ford-851k-wc-grfl-1933-umSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: NFL-symbol, wikiproject, Ixnay-Beao; B.Belichick, wc, D.Shakbne, 4.24.12; LombardiTrophy, wc, Safetycap, 6.16.16; SB-Trophy, wc, 2.5.12, Tyrnes, S.Luke; Lombardi-Starr, wc.cca; G.Ford, wc, GRFL, 1933, UoM
Posted: 1.27.17 @ 1:40pm, edit (+BW) 1.28 @ 9:42 EST; Copyright © 2017

NFL17 Conference Cherry Picks: Top Dogs Hunting & Halasing on Way to Houston

17 Jan

If the Pittsburgh Steelers chatty guru Mike Tomlin is a “cheerleader” coach as one sport personality recently opinionated, then all I’ve got to say (write) is this:

Give me a W!
Give me an I!
Give me an N!
Give me another N!
Give me… … you get the picture. Mike’s a winner.

tomlin-wc-m-rooney-9-16-07-405kWhether he’s a skilled tactician in offensive (Sid Gillman) or defensive (Bud Ryan) scheme or a leader who prefers delegating those duties to specialize in the emotional game (rah-rah), Mike wins alot, regular (.644), post (.615) and is 1-1 in Supers. Tomlin & team went through a rough playoff patch in recent period (2012 – 2016 (1-3)) where Steelers went one n’ done, twice, then lost in 2016 divisional.

But Pittsburgh is 2-0 in their march on Houston (SB51), prevailing over a slightly off-center Miami club who were without starter Tannehill, and then Sunday won a gutsy road game over a scoring-lite Chiefs who’re back to the drawing board.

Tomlin is a bit off-center himself, showing poor judgment in the nationally-televised 2013 Thanksgiving contest in Baltimore, stepping into the pathway of Ravens return-man in a clear effort to disruption, hence the whopping $100G fine. More recently Mike was recorded making crude reference to his next week’s Conference title opponent, the Patriots. Stay classy, MT. Ugh.

halas-1922-wc-therakishfellow-188kThere’s been speculation that former Steelers Super Bowl QB and present Fox analyst, Terry Bradshaw and his curiously-timed critique of Tomlin, just prior to playoffs, was more than simple opinionating but instead intended to stoke the fires of Steel City players, a crew that’s been fizzling out early in recent playoff ventures.

Whether staged or sincere, Bradshaw’s statement on Tomlin’s coaching style seems to have had no negative impact on the Pittsburgh Steelers championship run, one that looks to be unified and motivated to the gills, a necessary group mental state given that their next destination has been most typically an opponent’s graveyard-of-dreams in Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts.

cherries-ripe-chirak-wc-605k-6-24-7

Conference Cherry Picks 2017: Crème de la crème

Packers (12-6) @ Atlanta (12-5): 1.22 Fox 3:05 EST (Halas Trophy)

Conference play presents the best in competition as none of four remaining teams is a pretender. Nobody gets this far on smoke & mirrors. Experience over exuberance is how GB got back to the NFCC (2012). A-Birds punched their return ticket (2013 (Smith)) by topping the same Seattle and being the most offensively juggernautious team in NFL16, ranked #2 in YGPG, #1 in points scored and led by MVP-caliber Matt Ryan. Packers ranked at #8 / 4 and were rising at W17. For most of his coach career (1994 W&M), Falcons Dan Quinn has been a defensive specialist but that skill has not been apparent in Atlanta with poor 2016 team ranks indicate (#25 / 27). Lucky for the hosts, Packers didn’t fare much better on the D-side (#22 / 21), a group that nearly served up a Cheese-Melt II (See; Seattle 2015) in the Dallas divisional game. I like Falcons’ resolve: Behind early to the Seahawks (0-7), roar back with a killer 2Q (19), maintain matriculation and the D bolts it down (2H-10p). Kicker Crosby was cool late for GB (2-50+) but A-Birds Bryant (K) & Bosher (P) are toppers too. Clubs are very comparable, as it should be, except Atlanta’s run game is more est’d, and then they’ll be Benzing…the dome, not the hydrocarbon. Pack should’ve gotten hot earlier. Falcons win.

afc-hunt-trophy-a-kirk-wc-2-4m

Steelers (13-5) @ New England (15-2): CBS 6:40 (Hunt Trophy)

Media pounced on New England who lost but one quarter ((2) 10-3) to offensively tepid and defensively cranky Texans (34-16). Only surprise is that Brady’s O-mates failed to pounce on the QB’s crank (Clowney). Not in their job description (ugh)? Tom’s 2 INTs of tipped variety. Pitt had tougher time in KC but like Falcons, showed resolve. Must go back to ‘05 for Pittsburgh’s last AFCC visit to Foxborough, a 41-27 loss. Cowher’s out and Big Ben wants to forget (3 INT). Comparable clubs, too, on both O-side (NE: #4 / 3 – PIT: #7 / 10) and the stoppage (NE: #8 / 1; PIT: #12 / 9). Steelers #1 horse is clear (Bell) but I wonder why Blount (8c (HOU)), Pats proven gainer, fell to #2 behind Lewis (13c)? Pressure on the QB sets the tone: Pats OL is a wall (24sk (HOU 2)), Pitt’s is a bigger one (21 (KC 1)). Putting on pressure, both were…capable, Steelers made 38 sacks (1 KC), New England 34 (3 HOU). Weather folk see Sunday in Boston metro as 42°, clouds and no flakes, not from above, anyway (See; Mike). If not the AP-MVP, Tom should have shot at the Super variety. Patriots win.

Record: 85 – 93 – 3

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: NFL-symbol, wikiproject; MikeTomlin, wc.cca, M.Rooney, 9.16.07; GeorgeHalas, 1922, wc.cca, therakishfellow; cherries-ripe, wc.cca, 6.24.07, Chirak; AFCC-LamarHunt-trophy, wc.cca, A.Kirk;
Posted: 1.17.17 @ 11:37am, edit 7:59 EST; Copyright © 2017

NFL16 Cherry Picks W12: Who Makes Your Playoff Final Four?

25 Nov

Minute Waltz Thanksgiving

Late-game INT aside, Bradford’s value to Vikes’ roster is unquestionable;

Lions Tahir Whitehead goes John Lennon (Here, There & Everywhere): 11 solo;

Cowboys’ Sean Lee goes Paul McCartney v. Redskins with 14 tackles, 9 solo;

Cowboys half-time show: Grotesque, in the contemporary Super Bowl tradition;

Steelers @ Colts: A proven back-up QB on roster is no luxury, it’s a necessity.

Minute Waltz Week 11

brady-8-28-09-k-allison-wc-cca-862mCards miss their Sun King, Tyrann Mathieu;

Likely less than ten 1000-yard rushers in 2016;

Tannehill = Rodney Dangerfield (“no respect”);

It’s “Future Shock” for the Green Bay Packers and the Cheesehead Nation who are now fast approaching Mediocre City;

Quarterback GWD totals are driving much of the excitement this 2016 season.

The Jell-O® Four: Proof is in the Pudding

For clothing, proof is in the wear…and the wash.

manningeli-wc-4m-aj-guel-10-10-10In the culinary creations (food), the proof is in the tasting…and then the digestion (Burp!).

For football teams, evidence of a championship caliber (SB) is found in week-to-week play.

At the two-thirds mark of this NFL 2016 season there’s been plenty of game action, mettle testing from which to glean who are those top (four) contenders for hoisting the 2017 Lombardi trophy. That all making it possible for some bold predictions.

Not the Super Bowl forecast, mind you. Picking those two teams at Week 12 would be like pre-season prophecies on the Big Game, which are about as valuable as four-day old turkey. Hash it, Honey!

Instead, it’s time to select your AFC – NFC Conference championship teams for the games that often prove more competitive than the Super (Snoozer) Bowl.

roethlisberger-9-9-12-wc-cca-j-beall-3-9mTime to cut through all the crap, i.e., playoff pretenders (NFCN, AFCS champ), and settle on the four juggernauts who are just one win away from the Big “Par-taaay (D.Heffernan),” teams that’re most likely to run the gauntlet and come out Top Dog. Woof, woof!

And because it’s possible that your (my) Conference picks will face-off earlier in the PS, consider THAT game to be the championship bout between the two best with its winner making the final four, or too possible that none of your chosen CC teams at W12 will even land a playoff spot (0-4), you could end up with some sizable egg on your face when the title tussles actually kick-off in mid-January. But no risk, no reward, like if you go all Rogers Hornsby with the picks (4-for-4).

What to look for in Conference championship combatants?

1) Balance (offense / defense team rankings);

2) 1st-Team All-Pro talent at key positions;

3) ‘In good’ with the Gods (at / below League average on injuries), and

4) Small point-margins in losses. How you lose is as relevant as how you win.

wilson-2-5m-11-11-12-l-maurer-wcJuggernaut Club cues: D-mettle and composure (GWD).

2017 NFC Championship: Seattle v. Giants
2017 AFC Championship: Patriots v. Steelers

Seahawks: It’s Carrolling Time.
Giants: Gathering of veterans (Eli)
Patriots: Bill, Tom & Pax Patriotana
Steelers: Big Ben Roethlisberger

cherries-ripe-chirak-wc-605k-6-24-7Cherry Picks Week 12

Titans (5-5) @ Chicago (2-8): 11.27 CBS 1:00: Bears win
Bengals (3-5-1) @ Baltimore (5-5): CBS 1:00: Cincy wins
Cardinals (4-5-1) @ Atlanta (6-4): Fox 1:00: Arizona wins
Los Angeles Rams (4-6) @ New Orleans Saints (4-6): Fox 1:00: Saints win
San Diego Chargers (4-6) @ Houston Texans (6-4): CBS 1:00: Chargers win
Seattle Seahawks (7-2-1) @ Tampa Bay Bucs (5-5): Fox 4:05: Seahawks win
Kansas City Chiefs (7-3) @ Denver Broncos (7-3): NBC 8:30: Denver wins
Green Bay (4-6) @ Philadelphia Eagles (5-5): 11.28 Disney 8:30: Pack wins

Record: 49 -58 -2

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: P.Carroll, wc, K.Allison, 10.6.14; T.Brady, wc, Allison, 8.28.9; E.Manning, wc, 10.10.10, AJ.Guel; B.Roethlisberger, wc.cca, 9.9.12, J.Beall; R.Wilson, wc, 11.11.12, L.Maurer; cherries, wc, Chirak, 6.24.7; NFL-symbol, wc, wikiproject
Posted: 11.25.16 @ 1:13pm EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16 Cherry Picks W8: Poise’n in the Pocket, Philip Rivers Just Keeps Rollin’

27 Oct

Live-wire.

Fully charged.

Gung-ho, go-getter.

The Decatur Dynamo.

Jay Cutler’s bizarro-world opposite (Sorry JC, it‘s not you, it’s ‘dem (‘da Bears)).

All tags that hang well on San Diego Chargers sanguine quarterback, Philip Rivers. Some seem tailor-made, given that Rivers (‘04) has been signal-calling for over a decade on a team nicknamed, the Bolts.

rivers-1-12-14-wc-j-beall-2mIn the football vernacular, Phil Rivers is best described as such: Prototype pro-set pocket passer, aka, PPPP. And with all those peas it’s no wonder Phil’s “bursting with country fresh (goodness) (ahem).”

Why the fawning over a signal-caller with a career playoff mark of 4-5? Because in all sport there are men, top-tier players, who 1) Seem destined to toil on teams that are incapable of fully utilizing their talents (under-staffed), 2) happen to join a club just after the cork-popping has ceased (Lafontaine (NYI) / Murcer (NYY)), or 3) get traded the same season it all comes together, his former acquiring what’s supposed to’ve been the missing piece to a championship puzzle.

In baseball, such a soul would be Ernie Banks, though, you could just as well throw in Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Fergie Jenkins.

Then there’s Akron’s first great NBA power-player, HOF center Nate Thurmond (d.2016) who for thirteen San Fran seasons battled the best big men in history, then got shipped to Chicago (C. Ray) the year the Warriors got title #2 (‘74-75).

In the NHL it’s current superskate Alex Ovechkin (DC) and past greats Gilbert Perreault, Marcel Dionne, Rod Gilbert and Peter Stastny to name a few.

It’s always a somewhat tenuous claim that one particular player could’ve won titles on a better club or should be held largely blameless for their current team’s struggles, no matter the stat-line and pollyannaish persona he may possess.

chargers-cheer-wc-1-2m-dirk-9-4-9The dynamic of team sport is a complicated creature.

Who knows then if Rivers would’ve gone deeper into the playoffs and made a Super had the Chargers opted to keep Drew Brees on board (30-28) and chosen to jettison Phil instead to New Orleans? You just can’t know.

What you can know are the numbers.

Here then are the numbers Phil has compiled in his 10+ at Chargers’ helm: 98-76, 65C%, 43K+ pass, 294-139 TD-ratio and 25 GWDs. If he keeps matriculating as he has PR’s gonna’ have his #17 retired and join that Cantonese sect like former Bolts’ quarterback great, Dan Fouts (’93 (#14)).

Interesting to note is the steady rise in the Bolts QB-sack totals.

In the Decatur Dynamo’s first 4 years as a starter, Chargers averaged just under 25 sacks per (24.75), whereas, since 2010 that number’s risen to 37+, a figure the 2016 Chargers’ offense is on pace to match (17). And though not privy to numbers on quarterback-hurries, common sense would say they’ve increased at a like rate.

So what’s in store for the Chargers the rest of 2016?

Standing at 3-4 in the AFC West and the NFL in the full throes of parity, Bolts are still very much in the thick of the playoff hunt. But if there’s a team more plagued by injuries than San Diego, I know not who they be. I count 21 in SD sick-bay.

mccoy-wc-8-28-13-tl-fenney-usn-471kHead coach Mike McCoy is in his fourth season with a win-loss mark of 25-30.

An undrafted QB out of Utah – LBS (b. SF ‘72) and having brief stints in both NFLE and CFL, Mike’s signal-caller savvy was expected to be the tonic to turn Phil’s game up a notch and the Chargers into Super Bowl contenders.

Things looked promising early on as San Diego went 9-7 in 2013, made the post-season, beat the Cincinnati Bengals convincingly in the wild-card (27-10) and then played eventual AFC titlist the Denver Broncos close in the Divisional, falling 24-17.

But since then, progress has stalled.

Going 9-7 again in 2014, the Bolts missed the PS and then stumbled badly to 4-12 last season. Inconsistency has marked the 2016 campaign, not helped by all those hurts, but nevertheless playing every Sunday to win, their four (4) loses, three on the road (@ KC, IND & OAK), having happened by a total of just 14 points.

Encouraging as well are the team ranks: In yard gained per game (ygpg), Bolts come in at a respectable #13 (365.3 (#1 ATL 433.6)) and hold down the vaunted #2 spot in points scored (pspg (29.4)), then defeating the #1 in the Falcons (32) in OT last weekend on the road in Atlanta. A-1 confidence booster.

On the defense side is where SD’s injuries have taken their biggest toll as the Bolts rank a pedestrian 21st in yards allowed per game (yapg) and are trending trouble at 24th in points allowed per (papg). Ugh.

rivers-k-allison-wc-10-1-06-1-5m-baltimoreSchedule-wise, the Chargers have to be hopeful.

A challenging game at Sports Authority (DEN) awaits in W8, but the Bolts’ bye comes at an opportune time (W11) while the rest of the slate is not too imposing, meaning, most opponents wouldn’t frighten a Girl Scout troop on Halloween. Boo!

With a steady offensive attack that can recall & retain what seems a lost art of pass-protection, a tightened-up D, especially late, a little luck from the sporting gods (injuries) and San Diego should slip into the playoff party, by the backdoor, but in. Then, as any sport fan worth their units in amperes knows, anything can happen.

For Philip, a man who appears iron-laden in not having missed a start in ten-plus campaigns (See Also: D.Brees), he could have 3-to-4 productive seasons left in those limbs, if those offensive sack totals start trending the other way (down).

So while most in the sporting biz are preoccupied with the movements of Colin Kaepernick, the musings of Tom Brady and the whereabouts (bench or under-center) of hotter than a West Texas sidewalk in July, Rayne Dakota Prescott, Phil Rivers will just keep playing and lighting up that scoreboard.

cherries-hispalois-7-2-12-caceres-spain-wc-4-4mCherry Picks W8: Even Steven

DC (4-3) v. CIN (3-4): 10.30 Fox 9:30a (L): Cincy wins
Chiefs (4-2) @ Colts (3-4): CBS 1:00: Kansas City wins
Cardinals (3-3-1) @ Carolina (1-5): Fox 1:00: Cards win
Oakland Raiders (5-2) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-3): CBS 1:00: TB wins
Seattle Seahawks (4-2) @ New Orleans Saints (2-4): Fox 1:00: Saints win
Detroit Lions (4-3) @ Houston Texans (4-3): Fox 1:00: Houston wins
New England Pats (6-1) @ Buffalo Bills (4-3): CBS 1:00: Buffalo wins
San Diego Bolts (3-4) @ Denver Broncos (5-2): CBS 4:05: Chargers win
Green Bay Packers (4-2) @ Atlanta Falcons (4-3): Fox 4:25: Falcons win
Philadelphia Eagles (4-2) @ Dallas Cowboys (5-1): NBC 8:30: Eagles win

Record: 35 – 35 – 1
Chargers (LA – SD (b.1960)): 424 – 424 – 11

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: Chargers-wordmark, wc.cca, sportslogos, 8.25.15; P.Rivers, wc, 1.12.14, J.Beall; Chargers-cheer, wc, 9.4.9, Dirk; M.McCoy, wc, TL.Fenney, 8.28.13; Rivers, wc, K.Allison, 10.1.06; cherries, wc, Hispalois, Spain, 7.2.12; NFL-symbol, wikproject
Posted: 10.26.16 @ 11:14pm EST, edit 10.28 @ 11:15am; Copyright © 2016
References: Pelletier’s greatesthockeylegends.com; (PFR).com; Wikipedia

NFL16 Cherry Picks W3: Whosit at QB? Whocares…with Belichick’s Brain

20 Sep

Sittin’ Pretty

It’s one of the rivalry weeks in this early going of NFL16 as the Redskins take on the Giants, Lions visit Lambeau, 49ers with flair for football fend-off distraction and head north to Seattle, Steelers head East to Philly and the enigma that are the Falcons fly West to face conundrum that’s become their nemesis, the Saints.

Should be a ratings bonanza, even with the self-serve, i.e., Kaep Krudesader & Company. When being different (anthem boycott) morphs into just more of the same old same old (finger-point, blame shift & Change-in-$pecie).

Biggest news heading into Week 3‘s slate: With Patriots starting QB and Tom Brady understudy, Jimmy Garoppolo suffering a 1st -half shoulder bang at what appeared behest of Dolphins well-traveled linebacker Kiko Alonso in Sunday’s win over the visiting Miamians, NFL standard-bearer New England is now down to one rostered field general. That’s rookie Jacoby Brissett (NCSU), with end Julian Edelman, a 3-year flash-QB at Kent State, ready as the emergency guy.

brissett-wc-5-5m-b-salama-10-24-15*On Monday the Patriots’ braintrust in Bill Belichick and OC Josh McDaniels had few answers for media folk on whether Jim could go for their Thursday night game in hosting 2-0 Houston Texans, and then whether another quarterback would be rostered.

In limited duty on Sunday in subbing for the injured Garoppolo, Brissett, who went 91st (3R) in the 2016 draft and hails out of North Carolina State where he guided Wolfpack for two seasons as a run-QB, taking to rabbit nearly 10+ per, did pass his first test in going 6 of 9 with 0 TDs but no turnovers.

If the Continentals lose any more quarterbacks don’t be surprised if these names get dropped into the Foxborough discussion:

Tim Tebow: Timbo’s doing the national pastime thing now (Mets) but the man’s always in football shape. Too bad for Tim he didn‘t push for tight-end a few years back when given a Patriots pass-key and that big muscles won’t help much in hitting those nasty curves: Odds on call: 1000 – 1;

Jon Manziel: Last I read, ‘Johnny Big Hands’ had re-enrolled at his former school, Texas A&M, for what, only god knows because “Skittles® and beer” will not be part of that fine institution’s classroom curriculum. Odds: 500 – 1;

Shaun Hill: The former Maryland Terrapin (See Also: S.Diggs) started W1 for the Vikes and got a win (0 TD) but got handed back his clip-board in favor of Eagles cast-off, Sam Bradford who sports a career 26-37 mark but warmed Minnesota hearts with a big win over their dreaded rival the green & yellow on Sunday. A bit long-in-the-tooth by QB standards (36, 17-18, 62 C%), nobody in NFL deserves one more shot like patient Shaun. Odds: 200 – 1.

brady-8-28-09-k-allison-wc-cca-862mMike Vick: Currently a free-agent, Mike seeks a 5th team to keep the dream alive. Though he’s lost a step, ever since Vick returned to NFL action in ’09 (PHI) after 2-year susp’n for dog-fighting he’s appeared a model citizen, supportive teammate and now qualifies for the wily-veteran tag. What a “long and winding road” a Patriots finish would be for Mike. Odds: 100 – 1.

But with Tom set to make his return in W5 (@ Browns) after serving his 4-game Deflategate susp’n, marking the official display of NFL’s open-for-business sign, the Pats are sitting pretty at 2-0 in an AFC not exactly brimming over with stiff competition and then Garoppolo not expected to be sidelined for extended time, rostering another QB doesn’t presently appear the highest of priorities.

Whomever handles quarterbacking duties for the football version of America’s Team (sorry, Jerry, but apart from apparel sales it’s not even close, not as long a B&B click), you can be sure Patriots’ genius-in-residence in Bill Belichick will have matters well in hand, knowing when to tune it up and when to let it ride.

Best Equation in W2

New Digs (USB) + New Diggs (9r-182-TD) = Vikes win (v GB (17-14)).

cherries-wc-cca-b-kua-6-1-08-3-3mCherry Picks Week 3

HOU (2-0) @ NE (2-0): 9.22 CBS 8:25 (GTW): NE wins
Cardinals (1-1) @ Buffalo (0-2): 9.25 Fox 1:00: AZ wins
Raiders (1-1) @ Titans (1-1): CBS 1:00: Oakland wins
Detroit Lions (1-1) @ Green Bay Packers (1-1): Fox 1:00: Packers win
Denver Broncos (2-0) @ Cincinnati (1-1): CBS 1:00 (GTW2): Tigers win
Minnesota Vikings (2-0) @ Carolina (1-1): Fox 1:00 (GTW3): Cats win
Los Angeles Rams (1-1) @ Tampa Bay (1-1): Fox 4:05: Buccaneers win
San Francisco 49ers (1-1) @ Seattle Seahawks (1-1): Fox 4:05: ‘Hawks win
New York Jets (1-1) @ Kansas City Chief (1-1): CBS 4:25: Chiefs win
San Diego Chargers (1-1) @ Indianapolis Colts (0-2): CBS 4:25: Colts win
Pittsburgh (2-0) @ Philadelphia (2-0): CBS 4:25 (GTW4): Steelers win
Atlanta Falcons (1-1) @ New Orleans (0-2): 9.26 Disney 8:30: Saints win

Record: 8 – 11

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: B.Belichick, wc.cca, D.Shankbne, 4.24.12; Belichick, wc, 8.28.9, K.Allison, DC; J.Brissett, wc, B.Salama, 10.24.15; T.Brady, wc, DC, 8.28.9, K.Allison; cherries, wc, B.Kua, 6.1.8; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 9.20.16 @ 6:07pm EST; Copyright © 2016