Tag Archives: Brock Osweiler

NFL17 Division Cherry Picks: Chaff Aside & Eight Seeds Alive, Goddess Ceres Asks, ‘Who’s Got Destiny?’

11 Jan

Green Bay Packers
New England Patriots
Pittsburgh Steelers
Seattle Seahawks

They are the juggernauts of the oh-so sticky-glove era, winners of four (4) of the last eight (8), seven (7) of the last thirteen (13) NFL championships and almost half (13) of the last thirty (30) American – National Football Conference Super Bowl births. That’s alot of Bowl Babies, “by gosh by golly.”

ceres-wc-france-late19c-jlpc-9mThey are the haughty half of the eight remaining teams in the division playoff round, teams who have in recent times won their respective Conference hardware (Halas / Hunt) and are again in position to punch their ticket to SB51 in hopes of hoisting the vaunted Lombardi trophy, again.

The rich getting richer? It’s been the unaltered economic state going back to Nixon and will likely continue on with Trump directing the flow, so why buck the trend, eh? Ugh.

It’s in divisional play where the bye guys (no pun) in the Patriots, Falcons, KC and Dallas will now be tested under the brightest of lights and fiercest of foes. Simply stated, this is “the best of times,” for football viewers.

wilson-2-5m-11-11-12-l-maurer-wcUnlike the NCAA championships (March Madness) where Rd-1 of 34 games displays some of the most exhilarating and unexpected outcomes, NFL’s wild card stage is largely an exercise in separating chaff (hull) from the wheat (seed), i.e., threshing or thrashing, as it were. While Derek Carr’s presence would’ve had an impact, injuries plague every team and the WC is becoming semi-pathetic.

Did any unbiased, rationally-minded prognosticator truly believe that the Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders or Miami Dolphins stood a snowball’s chance in Hades of advancing? And the one team some thought (moi) might put up a fight and make it interesting, the Giants, they too looked like they didn’t belong (13-38 GB).

Atlanta Falcons
Kansas City Chiefs
Dallas Cowboys
Houston Texans

They are the wannabes, the aspiring four remaining teams who’ve been out of the mix (Super) for so long (ATL, DAL, KC), or never in it (HOU), that they cannot rightly call themselves a standard-bearer, no matter the jersey sales (Dallas), and must earn their way back to where the big boys hang their hats (See; above).

kelce-wc-j-beall-9-14-14-1-5mThree of the four, Falcons, Chiefs & Cowboys, will play host to a juggernaut, boosting their chances a bit but had better bring their best game or next Monday they’ll be spending the day planning the next family cruise.

Winner’s Tale

1) Always able: Easy ability to matriculate (24+ pts);

2) Fourth-quarter defense that stops the scoring and bolts it down. Same holds true in college football and something that Alabama genius Nick Saban overlooked this time (“Clemson’s Dabo Swinney may have the nation’s best progression (75-27) since taking the Tigers’ reins (2008) and is a top candidate to topple cartel. Explains the raise ($5M) (9.2.16)”);

3) Fewest turnovers; and

4) Reliable kicking game (50 yd+).

cherries-hispalois-7-2-12-caceres-spain-wc-4-4m

Cherry Picks Division Grade

Seattle (11-5-1) @ Atlanta (11-5) 1.14 Fox 4:35 EST

Almost four years to the date (1.13.13) when in the divisional it appeared Pete Carroll’s building project hadn’t yet matured. Seattle played Swing Time in Atlanta to roar back for 21 points in the 4Q, only to lose on a late Matt Ryan-led FG drive (30-28). Falcons “Mighty (Dan) Quinn” was Hawks’ DC then and next year when Seattle hoisted (SB48). A-Birds are a scoring machine (33+) with best PS kicker in Bryant (92% (6-8 50+)) but DQ hasn’t built the top-stop (D) like he did in Emerald City. Awash in injuries, Seahawks’ defense still sticks while Rawls motors (6.ypc-DET). Earlier W6 battle is indicative (SEA 26-24): Close one where 4Q stoppage will decide it: Seahawks win.

Houston (10-7) @ New England (14-2) CBS 8:15

Osweiler battles Tannehill for ‘Rodney Dangerfield award (“no respect”)’ while facing maybe the best coach-QB tandem in history (Bill & Tom), in Foxborough, versus well-rested hosts with Tom in top form. Houston will need a Texas-sized shamrock to pull-off upset of the century. O’Brien has the defense clicking on all cylinders, even sans Mr. Celebrity (Watt), but the Pats, scoring experts they are, also play some D themselves, leading in all-important PPG rank (15.6), 2+ pts lower than next best, NYG (HOU 20.5), which goes to their W3 blanking of Texans (27-0). “Houston” would like to play for the crown in their NRG park come February but may have to satisfy still with the world’s Rollerball (‘75) championship (Ouch!). New England wins.

packers-cheer-9-26-10-m-morbeck309k

Pittsburgh (12-5) @ Kansas City (12-4) 1.15 NBC 1:05

Fans of this former AFL power hope Andy Reid’s plan gets Chiefs back where Hank Stram got ‘em when KC did “matriculate” all over the Vikes (SB4). Steelers defense is rated (342 ypg (12)) but KC bests their guest on PPG, 19.4 < 20.4. It’s former Chiefs guru Haley designing Pitt’s scoring scheme (24.9 ppg), a smidgen up on Chiefs OC Childress (24.3). Steelers have big weapons in Brown, Bell, Big Ben and SB coach Tomlin who wants desperately to prove he’s more than a “cheerleader.” No ICBMs in KC but QB Smith is cool customer, Ware aches (rib) but is all-purpose, Kelce a top TE and Peters a game-changer. Digits and W4 win (43-14) say Steelers favored but Ben’s gimpy (ankle) and Chiefs benefit from the home-field advantage: Kansas City wins.

Green Bay (11-6) @ Dallas (13-3) Fox 4:40

Packers get top TV slot, again, though, green & yellow would just assume face America’s Team sooner than later. Big Question: Will Dallas’ transplendent rookies in Prescott & Elliott hold up under bright lights or is middling GB defense (#22 / 21) enough to rattle their senses? Green Bay lit-up Vikes top D (#3 / 6) in W16 on a secondary that defected. No such discord in Dallas (#14 / 5). Boys W6 win at Lambeau (30-16) caught Pack in a state-of-funk, one since deodorized by a 7-game streak (sweet smell of success). GB still has a run void but Ramblin’ Man Rodgers is locked in. Long layoff helps veteran-led teams like Patriots but takes the edge off young Turks (Dak & Zeke). Nelson ribbed but was non-factor vs. NYG. Experience trumps exuberance. Packers win.

Record: 83 – 91 – 3

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: NFL-sign, wikiproject; Goddess-Ceres, France, late.19c., wc.cca, JLPC; R.Wilson, wc, 11.11.12, L.Maurer; T.Kelce, wc, 9.14.14, J.Beall; cherries, Hispalois, wc, 7.2.12, Caceres-Spain; Packers-cheer, wc, M.Morbeck, 9.26.10
Posted: 1.11.17 @ 11:14am, edit 3:35, pic-fix 1.13 @ 2:20pm; Copyright © 2017

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NFL16: Uff Da! Vikings Have ‘Miles to Go’ in Frosty North

4 Aug

Home Sweet Home

There’s nothing like getting new digs.

As school gets under way across America, that’s just what alot of folks are doing before the rains come and the snow flies.

It’s alot of work getting settled in but once you unpack, make the connections, fill in the familiarities it’ll feel like home again. Course, it’s a little different for renters (moi): Fewer commitments but sometimes more surprises.

“Chris Stevens” explored the topic in Northern Exposure: There are two kinds of people, he said, “owners” and “renters.” The “Morning” man came into a small inheritance and tried the proprietor thing for a spell to help a friend (“Holling”) but soon discovered such was not the life for him. He bailed on the venture and let Vincoeur keep the stake. A truly inspirational TV show if there ever was one.

.........Favre.11.15.09.wc.1.2m.NG.MNThat vision on people aught not to be confused with the “Blondie” version (The Good the Bad and the Ugly): “There two kinds of people, my friend (“Tuco”), those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.” But I digress.

The Minnesota Vikings have new digs.

US Bank Stadium is built. It’s big, bodacious, glassy, steely and it recently held a 2-day grand opening for the public (7.23-24). Uff da! That’s Norwegian for booyah or wow!

Nixing a return to open-air design of Black n’ Blue rivals Green Bay (Lambeau), Chicago (Soldiers) and their own Metropolitan (d.1981) that saw so many wins in the 60s & 70s when Bud Grant’s teams were undisputed rulers of the Northwest Territory, the powers instead chose a fixed-roof (Ford) in an abstract expression that’ll keep bodies cozy and revenue rolling in (SB52).

I know what you’re thinking, are the Wilfs (Zygi) renters or owners of this brand spankin’ new stadium? Sure you are.

Though team owners and other investors covered 52% (+/-) of construction cost while tax dollars from State residents and Minneapolis visitors (“hospitality tax”) pick up the rest of the tab (48%), more or less, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, a body created by State legislature and comprised of government-selected membership will own, “control and operate (SMG)” the whole kit n’ kaboodle (Wikipedia). Purr-fect.

.........USBankStdm.wc.7.24.16.Darb02.2mNo longer laughing stock of the League as when the having-let-fall-into-disrepair Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (1982-14) roof collapsed on Vikings’ sad 2010 season (HHH’s memory deserved better), then relegated to semi-welcome guests at TCF Bank the last two seasons as University Regents pitched a PC fit right on cue when Purple hosted the Washington R-Words…oh, wait, aboriginal Americans are fine with the name (“9 of 10”), Redskins, the reigning NFCN champs (11-5) are ready n’ willing to make this season the start of a new era of championship play.

Question is, are these 2016 Norsemen able…to fulfill that mission?

They may have a ways “to go” before forging a destiny and own even their North division, one the Pack dominated for most of these past 25 years beginning with Hall of Fame inductee (8.6) and former Viking, Brett Favre’s GB tenure (‘92), and then which the Vikes had owned for most of 70s (Grant) and 80s (Burns).

Black & Blue Betters

No surprise then that NFL schedulers picked Vikings’ arch-nemesis the Packers to do the honors of helping break-the-seal on the new USB (interface) Stadium in W2 action (9.18) after the Minnesotans return from Tennessee (Pack @ Jax) to open divisional play and begin the trek to SB51 in Houston (2.7.17).

No surprise either that both Minny & Heebie-GB were saddled with juggernaut-caliber schedules, or, as our friends the Brits will soon be pouring into the frothy football colloquy, ‘That‘s one bloody tough sed-jewel, mate!’ I look forward.

........Rodgers.wc.cca.M.Morbeck.12.7.8.73kIt’ll be a good early test for both Northern toppers. And the Bears and Lions, like the quick-learner said, ‘fool me once, shame on you, fool me (10x), shame on (my sorry ass).’ Two tougher customers with zip you won’t find than Misters Cutler & Stafford but “forget about it.”

Pack hopes to right the ship after earlier-than-expected PS exit (@ AZ), due to an atypical middling offense (#23 ygpg / 15 pspg) led by Mr. Matriculator Aaron Rodgers who suddenly looked average, missing, maybe too much, his GTG in Jordy Nelson, along with the typical (since LeRoy Butler retired) just-good-enough D that ranked in middle-of-the-NFL-pack, again (#15 yapg / 21 papg).

For the host team, of primary importance is re-establishing divisional dominance not held since 2009-10 season when Brad Childress and All-Pros Jared Allen, Adrian Peterson & Favre, who gets Cantonized (OH) on Saturday and whose NFL story contains a brief but memorable closing chapter written in purple ink, bested their regional rival in both meetings leaving no doubt on top dog.

And that’s just what any aspirant need do if seeking to unseat a sitting juggernaut like Green Bay, New England or Pittsburgh. Winning ain’t enough and it certainly ain’t everything, “Steve (J.Wayne).” Eking out a win by a field goal won’t cut it, not as the competition stiffens, meaning, even had Blair Walsh not hooked it to close out a playoff loss (SEA), Vikes short-comings were sure to roost in what‘s become a snake-pit NFCC setting (’98 / ‘10) for the Minnesotans.

Minnesota’s road to titletown must go through…Titletown, whether in Brown County (WI) or the traveling version come to pay respects at USB.

........Zimmer.9.20.14.1m.wc.MN-NGThink GB’s offense was near-anemic in 2015? Purple people came in just under green & yellow in points scored per game (#16) and a pathetic 29th in yards gained. It was of course the defense that made Vikes playoff contenders, ranking #13 in yards allowed per (344.2), just 4y behind #10 Tampa, and a stellar #5 spot in points allowed (18.9), besting NFC winners Carolina (19.2) and a mere four-tenths (0.4) behind eventual Super champs, Denver.

If you follow pro ball you know the NFL’s a quarterback League. Field generals need not pile numbers like Misters Moon, Brady or Favre but he’d better enjoy airing-it-out as habit to build leads and be Eveready® to claim it back when behind, willing to take reasonable risks, i.e. eye for threading needles, or your team will too often have to rely on the foot of a kicker, a key cog but which is no good way to blueprint a championship run.

The names Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, Doug Williams and Jeff Hostetler don’t conger up images of bronze busts, not so far, but they’re all deserving champions who had the physical ability and collective wherewithal to put up big numbers in big games when it mattered most.

And ‘where’ exactly Vikings’ Teddy Bridgewater will end up and ‘with’ whom when his story is written, only the Sporting Gods know for sure.

Bridge Work Ahead

The second of Vikes two 1st rounders in 2014 (32) (Bruin backer and 2015 Pro Bowl selectee Tony Barr #9), QB Bridgewater (LOU), pegged by head coach Mike Zimmer and OC Norv Turner to lead Minnesota to the promised land, appears still seated firmly at the drafting board as yet unable to translate that blueprint into an easy on-field matriculatory style and scoring scheme.

......Bridgewater.8.4.14.wc.M.Deery.6.5mTeddy, a Pro Bowl selectee himself (Who wasn’t? Oh right, “Johnny Red-Flag”), TB sports a fine career C% (65) and keeps the picks to an acceptable quantity, averaging just over ten each campaign.

But when you won’t venture forth, take calculated risks, your picks can remain few. You gotta throw ‘em to make ‘em (TDs). The Miami native throws about as many TDs (28) as INTs (21) and the sticky-gloves aren’t helping much (8f ‘15). In his one playoff appearance last January versus the Seahawks, Ted again had that nice C% (71%) but only threw for 146y and zero (0) TDs.

Safe & simple won’t get ‘er done in the elite class of competition. I put Ted (5 (1-10)) just a notch below Mr. Mariota (5.5) and the set-for-life ($$) Mr. Osweiler (6 (HOU)) in the PPP assessment: Pro potentiality and progression.

Again, I know what you’re thinking (It’s the ginkgo biloba): ‘Hey, AOTC, TB’s receiver crew was definitely not too awesome in 2015. That will change in 2016. With 1st-rounder (23) Laquon Treadwell (Ole Miss) a deep threat, Stefon Diggs (2y) taking the next level, Kyle Rudolph (TE) present n’ accounted for and Jarius Wright filling the slot, the Bridge is gonna’ start extending the field, dude!’

Maybe, but a so-so receiver corps is no good excuse for mediocre matriculate.

Top QBs, even the younger version (Luck / Wilson / Winston), make players around them better. It’s why the Nelson void does not entirely explain the Rodgers downturn in 2015. You’ve gotta’ challenge your receivers, yourself and set the bar higher, encouraging coaches to show faith and communicate (listen) all along the way. On a different team, Mr. Gronkowski is good but I doubt he‘s gronksome minus Tom Brady.

.......Peterson.1.28.12.wc.Arvee5.0.309kWith Nick Foles now in Chiefs’ fold, I say is it’s a damn shame a very capable, proven matriculator like veteran Shaun Hill who could teach a thing or two by example and was still rostered at this posting, must sit idle, only getting a start if someone goes down with injury.

And then there’s the indomitable Adrian Peterson.

All-Day had a terrific comeback season, leading NFL with 1485 yards (92.8) after sitting most of 2014 on susp’n. In 2016 he enters his 10th run. Gas left in the tank? Good guess says, yes. But big-time backs don’t often carry clubs to titles, not since John “loosen up” Riggins, Joe Morris, Ottis Anderson & Jamal Lewis were carrying the loads with capable QBs under center.

When the Vikes can turn one of those 4-team division title trophies into genuine, jewel-encrusted NFC Halas hardware and trip-to-the-Super-Bowl titles (‘77), I’ll sit up and take note. Hell, if Purple just get to an NFCC more than once a decade (98 / 10) the new digs will be worth it, even if monster trucks are the top tenant.

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: Viktor-Spc.M.Mecuk, wc.cca, 11.7.10, MN-NG; B.Favre, 11.15.9, wc, MN-NG; USBankStdm, wc, Darb02, 7.24.16; A.Rodgers, wc, 12.7.8, M.Morbeck; M.Zimmer, wc, 9.20.14, MN-NG; T.Bridgewater, wc, 8.4.14, M.Deery; A.Peterson, wc, 1.28.12, Arvee5.0; NFL-symbol, wikiproject
Posted: 8.4.16 @ 4:45pm, edit @ 11:15 EST; Copyright © 2016

Inking Kaep Krusader & RG3: ‘Strange Destiny’ or ‘Experiment(s) Perilous?’

6 Apr

It’s a strange destiny that has brought me to this new life, a new home (“Ben-Hur (C.Heston)” speaking to a gathering in celebration at the house of his adopted father Counsel “Quintus Arrius (J.Hawkins) (Ben-Hur (‘59))”).

Or…

Life is short, art long, decision difficult and experiment perilous (Hippocrates & “N. Bederaux (Lukas)” in movie by the same phrase (Experiment Perilous (44)).”

Rome would prove a strange place for “Judah” to call home.

Formerly enslaved on a charge of attempted murder upon the Governor (his jailed sister “Tirzah” the true culprit) then freed for saving the life of an Admiral (“Quintus Arrius”), the City was capital of the vast Italian empire and base for the army which occupied his own land of Judea.

Likewise, the Forest City on the banks of Lake Erie, even with it’s industrious people who ♫ rock ♫ the cradle in the State that theoretically gave birth to pro football (See; Canton, AAFC, NFL, etc.), could not have been where Bob Griffin even imagined a residence 4 years back when his newborn NFL career took it’s first baby steps in our own nation’s capital, DC.

I’m the metaphor guy, what can I say?

.....RG3.Baylor.8.15.9.wc.Caesarscott.thmBut like the charmed chariot racer and Christian convert “Ben-Hur,” Cleveland’s newest add-on at the quarterback spot in the former Heisman hoister and Redskins’ hopeful (2y, $15M), Rob too may find his new home provides the place where he can re-charge his battery to power a similar rebirth in spirit and success, sans any grizzly bone-crushing horse-trample (See: “Messala (S.Boyd)”). Ouch!

The Brownies and their Super Bowl starved fans sure hope so. It’s been a downhill ride ever since Bernie Kosar (‘92) and then the original team left town for the Crab Cake City in 1995.

What may be more surprising than where Bob has ended up is how last season played-out in DC, or more correctly, didn’t play-out for Washington’s former starter as he didn’t take nary a snap in Redskins regular slate.

After starting summer camp fit & ready to re-prove himself (All-Pro ‘12), Bob got concussed in a pre-season contest where Detroit coach Jim Caldwell apparently had his felines go full-tilt and Bob got his bell rung hard. The Sporting Gods were not all too pleased with Lions’ decision-making and as they will often do sent bad karma the offender’s way in-season (1-7 start, W13 L-GB, Calvin exit, etc.).

.....Cousins.7.31.12.wc.cca.K.Allison.thumbThat’s all it took for coach Jay Gruden to insert the man who’d prove to be the season long #1 in Kirk Cousins who made most of his opportunity by leading ‘Skins to a 9-7 mark, NFC East title, playoff birth and Fatty Arbuckle-wide stats.

So girthy were the digits (70C%, 29t-11, 4166y) that KC & Agency have been engaged in an off-season duel of contract-swords with owner Dan Snyder over how much coin the new franchise face will collect. Corked tips, of course, nobody wants blood.

Considering that Kirk played for relatively (pro) peanuts his first 4 years ($2.5M) and that we’re presently and likely to remain in a seller’s market for pro-style NFL signal-callers for some time, the man from Holland, Michigan who’s set to turn 28 in August should get a princely sum.

Ask Bob about Kirk’s situation and he’d likely not begrudge his former ‘mate the moolah and the same opportunity to succeed as he received in 2012-13 when hope was springing eternal for the former Baylor Bear.

.....Manziel.8.2.14.ED.Drost.wc.thmb.headThe Browns signed the now well-rested if a bit rusty RG3 to a widening QB klatch in Cleveland that no longer includes Jon Manziel who unfortunately probably disdains the java brew, benefits & all.

So where does Robert stand (sit) in the depth chart?

Checking in with Ourlads.com “NFL scouting services,” Bob sits at #2 behind last season’s early starter Josh McCown (1-7, 64C%, 12t-4i) and ahead of Austin Davis (0-2, 59.6C%), Connor Shaw and Pat Devlin. Johnny ‘Uh-Oh’ Manziel (2-4, 57.8C%, 7-5) was released in March, maybe on his Tebow-esque techniques (2-4, 57.8C%, 7t-5, 37ra-230), sans the wins, but more likely on as his juvenile and addictive mental states.

Josh is bit toothy, set to turn 37 in July and has not made the most of his chances in five stops (18-39, 59.5C%, 73t-63i) AZ, OAK, CHI, TB, CLE). But he’s always had good size (6’4), mechanics and must be saying the right things because coaches keep giving him a shot. In his defense, the teams he’s led have been short on top talent. Cleveland in 2016 is not much different.

All that means Bob has a good chance of becoming Browns 20th (+/-) starting QB (10 HCs) since post-Kosar. On opposite end of success spectrum, Packers have had just two, Favre and Rodgers (Flynn 6gs). But that’s anomaly cheese.

.....Jackson.8.12.8.wc.K.Allison.thmWhether or not Bob earns the starter’s job in autumn, and I’m confident Browns’ brass expressed it as such and Griffin agreed, it will likely come eventually. Whomever gets the nod in September the pressure to win will be high at FirstEnergy Stadium, as unrealistic an expectation as that my be with the current roster.

The Browns have more holes than a nightshirt come April (I’ll be damned if I can’t find a pair of quality long-johns anywhere at any price anymore) and first year head coach Hue Jackson will have his hands full.

Hue will need to utilize every bit of offensive know-how in strategy and development to get the Brownies scoring game in gear. In 2015 Cleveland ranked 25th in ygpg (331.9), just two spots behind the QB-set Packers (#23 / 334) and 30th in ppg (17.4), topping the terrible Cowboys (17.2) and 49ers (14.9). Browns didn’t fare much better on the D-side where returning DC Ray Horton will be expected to shore things up (CLE ‘13 (TN ‘14-15)), coming in at 27 (379 / yapg) and 29 (27 papg) in the key components.

Will Cleveland draft a QB in May? Best guess, no, late Rd possible, of course. Instead expect them to plug top picks elsewhere, especially that the collegiate QB talent pool’s been rated shallow this time around. Rated, not necessarily reality.

If & when Bob does happen to win the starter’s job, big question on most minds will be what style of quarterbacking will he and his coaches implement?

.....RG3.LBoyd.MGreen.USMC-NY.wc.4.26.12.thmWill he work in the office, behind the line of scrimmage, refine his read skills and learn to love the pocket or will he go back on the road and revert to the run mode that served him well at Baylor and his rookie campaign when he scampered for 800+ and led Redskins to 10-6?

Wise answer: The former, no matter the learning curve. His knee can’t handle the latter, not for long, anyway.

The prediction: Something in-between, a half-measure which’ll prove impotent. But life’s full of surprises and maybe Hue has one or two up his sleeve.

Old dogs, new tricks

Bob’s still fairly young in NFL terms (26) but like Shane (A.Ladd) said, “Man has to be what he is, can’t break the mold…the brand sticks.” That’s a high drama and flowed from a situation much hairier than Bob’s, but it does hold true most often for mature athletes, as well.

Once a flash-QB, always a flash QB.

There’s a stubbornness, an arrogance-in-athleticism, fed by the occasional burst of brilliance or playoff run, that will likely inhibit the conversion from run-under-pressure to cool-as-cucumber in the pocket. Those hunker skills are honed over time, a process starting in Jr. High when you learn to brave the first hard hits and fight natural instinct to rabbit. It’s a long, painful, educational process, not something you just pick-up spending a few extra hours in the film room on Wednesday before your next shoe-wear photo-shoot. Only those dedicated to the switch will survive and thrive. Maybe that’s Bob.

.....Kaep.2.3.13.wc.cca.Au.Kirk.thumbAnd it’s why Denver might be wiser to take a pass on the Colin Kaepernick deal, Super defense aside. But then maybe finding, fashioning that elusive good fit ain’t exactly keeping John Elway awake at nights anyway, feeling his oats & all after piecing together a team that made one of the best championship runs in NFL annals.

After letting Peyton retire (showing him the door?), arguably greatest QB in history, one I believe wanted to be ‘wanted back’ for one more, hopefully healthy and celebratory season in Broncos blue & orange (It’s just not the same on the links), and then parting ways with a ready-man starter in Brock Osweiler who should’ve been reminded that he will not be passing to J.J. Watt in Houston colors, the Mustangs seem…content.

Denver’s defense has Kaep Krusader déjà vu-ing “all over again (SF 2012-14).” And he’s got some call to feel cocky: He’s been there before (two NFCCs (SB47)), is not careless with the ball (brass love that) and he’s presently shopping his services in a seller’s market for established QBs.

But while Kaepernick will do his best to bust through brick walls, he’s so cautious, slow-to-read routes he won’t easily thread-the-needle (59-C%), is dealing with the #2 franchise in negotiation wherewithal (GB #1) and tenses-up in the red-zone (See; SB47 & NFCC14). Guy’s still a project of sorts and then not exactly made from the Denver Broncos‘ mold of quarterbacking.

Broncos clearly have the edge here, budget or not. Kaep & Co. are well advised to give some ($) now to make the deal, then make it up later, if he can win over the guys in the locker-room who already got their rings (SB50). Keep in mind new Denver QB in Mark Sanchez has guided teams to Conference games himself (Jets), though, like Colin (10-14 post-NFCC14), has looked more like a caretaker-QB (PHI 4-6) than a take-care-of-business field general (See: Patton).

What’s more, the run-around routine won’t often catch Ds off guard anymore.

.....Newton.2011.wc.thm.Pantherfan11Sure, their ‘athleticism’ will see they break off a 80-yarder now & then (See: Mariota), and it’s most successful adherent to date in Cam Newton did lead Carolina to only their 2d Super Bowl (50) last February, garnering the MVP in the process.

But Carolina got thumped like San Fran (SB47), before the lights went out.

Camster-the-Hamster is a special player. His size (6’6”) and not yet fully unrealized pass potential will extend his tenure beyond most (See; Young, Vick, Tebow, Manziel), that is if his ACLs can take the add’l tackles to which run-QB subjects himself. And like other flash-men, Sir-Runs-Alot is plagued by the same foible: Red zone funk: An indecisiveness wherever advanced reading skill is required (SB50). A deficiency Elway and Jackson may compensate but never overcome: Old dogs, new tricks.

And it’s why a setting like Cleveland is a good fit for RG3.

If Browns’ front-office can muster the patience, a rare virtù these days in any operation, a mindset that allows Bob to develop his own patience in the pocket, and then fashion an O-line that can protect (53sk 2015), find a pair or two of go-to hands that can assist and a ground-man who “run(s) to daylight (See; NFL Draft.16),” this “experiment” can be less “perilous” and more profitable for the history-laden franchise on the lake.

.....macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.2011.wcSteven Keys
MacroSport
Photo credit: Ben-Hur, Berti-Heston, MGM, 1959, wc; R.Griffin, wc, 8.15.9, Caesarscott; K.Cousins, wc, 7.31.12, K.Allison; J.Manziel, 8.2.14, ED.Drost, wc; H.Jackson, wc, K.Allison, 8.12.8; RG3-Lboyd-Mgreen, wc, USMC-NY, 4.26.12; C.Kaepernick, wc, 2.3.13, Au.Kirk; C.Newton, wc, Pantherfan11, 2011; macroecono, lamcasinoroyal, wc-11;
Posted: 4.6.16 @ 3:05pm EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16 Cherry Jam: Denver’s Inside Man & Peyton’s Plan

11 Feb

Michel Mode

..........Michel.TheDeposition(JA).wc.1553.Sailko.thmMichelangelo (1475-1564), the great Italian sculptor of the Renaissance, understood the art of masterpiece. He’s credited with saying something along this line: There exists inside every block of granite a form of which it is the task of the artist to find, give life.

Likewise, inside every football team is a champion’s medallion, a little Vince Lombardi trophy of which it’s the job of every coach, player and GM to help find, form and then ultimately showcase in pomp & pageantry for generations come.

The 2015-16 Denver Broncos found their little Vince.

Sculpted Sorrow

.....Newton.2011.wc.thm.Pantherfan11Team success requires not only coordination, a synthesis of skills but a subjugation of the brimming selfishness that fills the vessel of the star athlete (or Cufflink) and can turn a roundtable of knights into a sniveling pack of paupers or, after an especially hard defeat, “sore loser(s) (See; C. Newton, 2.9.16, BoA-Stdm).”

That line between “sore” and insolent is a fine one but as bright as the gleen that streams off the Vince Lombardi silver.

“Sore loser” may make it’s way onto t-shirts, hats and into rap lyrics but it ain’t never gonna’ be “cool,” Cam.

All in the Family

And like the sculptor’s quest in quarry, the gridiron version of chop n’ block does not happen overnight. It can be a long, arduous journey, sometimes an Odyssey, fit with demons and demi-gods all along the way.

........Bowlen.wc.9.26.10.J.Beall.thmDenver’s discovery process began in 2011 when owner Pat Bowlen, acting a modern day de’ Medici, hired former Carolina coach John Fox and VLT – QB John Elway for front office duty. Four consecutive playoffs followed, including the Tebowmania win in 2012 (v PIT) and Super Bowl runner-up at MetLife (SEA) with the emotionally indomitable Manning (‘12) under center.

Out goes Fox, in comes Gary Kubiak who, before a brief stopover in BAL (OC ‘14), had guided the Texans (‘06-12) to their first 9-7 and playoffs (2012-13), as well as having served as John Elway‘s back-up in pads (‘83-91). Gary brought with him his offensive coordinator (DEN) and QB-coach (BAL) in Rick Dennison, then signed former frequent head coach (NO(i), DEN, BUF, ATL(i), DAL, HOU(i)) and his DC in Houston (‘11-13), Wade Phillips (‘15).

The nucleus of granite (players) was already set in stone. Now, all the artisans had to do was finish the form with a whittle here, a hammer there, and, le voilà, there it was, the pièce de résistance: 2015-16 Denver Broncos.

........Ware.8.7.14.wc.J.Beall.thmWhile finding that matriculatory QB is critical to the sculptor‘s success, a top D is clearly key in this age of Sir-Runs-Alot and aging pocket passers.

But like many great works and ideas before them, public appreciation is not always immediate (See; Copernicus, Columbus, Van Gogh, Bill Belichick, Marshawn Lynch (’07-15); Jim Plunkett ‘71-86), etc.).

Adversity Trail

Typically, any memorable creation is fashioned in a journey that was visited by some sort of adversity. And these Denver Broncos had their share.

.......Harpie.wc.JJ.Zeiller.Bavaria.W.Sauber.thm.1748The harpies (See; Clash of the Titans (‘81)) made their first appearance in SB48 when the Mustangs took a drubbing at the hands (talons) of Seahawks (43-8). Nothing’s so painful as having something within your grasp to only see it slip away.

But Denver stayed the course and returned to the PS in 2014-15 (IND (L)). As this season got off to a fine start (7-2), Manning went down midway but capable back-up in Brock Osweiler, bolstered by stout lines on the O and D sides both, kept the ship steady until Peyton’s return where Broncos proceeded to run the playoff gauntlet of AFC favorites (PIT / NE) and punched their ticket for a return visit to the Super Bowl, this one in Santa Clara.

Odd Bowl

Forget sabrmetrics. Look no further than simple team stats in SB50 comparison and you soon discover this may‘ve been the strangest of all NFL title tussles.

......Broncos.IF@MH.6.27.11.Jkinsocal.tm1) Though they lost 24-10, the Panthers had nearly double (21) Denver’s 1st-down total (11) while both clubs were a combined 4 for 29 in 3/4th down efficiency. Ugh.

2) Panthers out-paced Denver in nearly every offensive category (plays, avg.per, total yards, rush, pass, TOP), but also key red-flag tallies in fumbles-lost (3 to 1) and penalties (12 to 6); and

3) Glory stats (INTs / sacks) get the ga-ga (CAR: 5; DEN: 7). But it’s tackles that set the tone and close the deal. There the Denver bested the Cats, 48-38, while their place-kicker Brad McManus was perfect for the PS: 10-10 (3-3).

Manning Over Mind?

Denver had the answer for the Carolina question in SB50. Now, the League and it’s followers have two more questions for the Broncos’ Peyton Manning: The fans, Denver brass, friends & family all want to know if he’ll lace ’em up to play another season, while the NFL wants to know all the facts behind the Al-Jazeera / HGH story that ran last January.

.....Manning.thm.9.14.14.J.Beall.wc.ccaThe first query is a two-parter: On Pey-Dirt’s pondered pathway, 1) Should he return for 2016-17, and 2) will he decide to get “♫ back in the saddle ♫?”

The first one’s the toughie.

His domestic side says, ’Go out on top as you did what Mr. Favre made valiant effort to accomplish (MIN) but couldn’t do (SB Ws w/2 clubs), give My bones a break (breather), get My golf clubs primed, line up My endorsements, spend more time with My and wife Ashley’s two kids and help My legal team by boning-up on issues & facts relevant to the claimed ‘Indiana Connection (HGH)’ NFL is investigating.

The answer awaited on the League’s Manning et al inquiry is “The ($50 million) Question.” It’s a game-show in which the powers-that-be want no part. The last two NFL titlists QBs (Brady) have had legal clouds hanging over their heads and it’s no way to close a Super season.

Manning undoubtedly has his sources in the League office. What they tell him on the tenor of the investigation must be minimal at this early stage. If he returns for another season in Denver, and the Broncs should be his only desire, the notion that NFL would go easy on an active, reigning champ is a poor one indeed. Whether playing or retired, neither state will have any bearing whatsoever on the thinking of Roger Goodell, as it shouldn’t.

......Osweiler.8.4.12.wc.J.Beall.thmBut being in uniform may, emotionally, be a better place to be if the news is bad. If it’s good, Peyton is clearly still vested with the spirit to play or he’d not be pondering it now. His throwing arm, well, that’s another story. From the looks of it his wily wing is pining for the La-Z-Boy® and remote control.

Broncos, they want their titlist QB back for a celebratory year, even if that means he’s on the sideline giving Brock pointers and back-up as needed. His ego can stand it. The contract, not an issue. Bowlen & Co., Manning, they’re all on cloud 9 and will work the deal to all’s satisfaction.

Will Peyton return for one more year? Little man inside says, ‘yes.’

Qurious Quote

“I’m too young to retire.” Sentiment of former New York Giants and currently contemplating NFL return…coach, Tom Coughlin (Fox News / 2.8.16).

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: P.Manning, wc.cca, 11.12.15, D.Overstreet, CO-NG; Michelangelo, Italy, The-Deposition-(JA), 1553, Sailko, wc; C.Newton, 2011, Pantherfan11, wc; P.Bowlen, wc, 9.26.10, J.Beall; D.Ware, wc, J.Beall, 9.26.14; Harpies, JJ.Zeiller, wc, 1748, W.Sauber, Bavaria; IF@MHS, Denver, wc, Jkinsocal, 6.27.11; Manning, wc, 9.14.14, Beall; B.Osweiler, wc, 8.4.12, Beall; NFL-sign, wikiproject.
Posted: 2.11.16 @ 11:53am, edit 11:20pm; pic-fix 5.13 @ 10:51pm EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16 Minute Waltz: Closing Take 2015

6 Jan

Now that the 2015 curtain’s come down on NFL’s regular play, a four-month run filled with more surprises than a Christmas day at the Cratchit household, (post-raise), it’s time to reflect back on the good, bad, the happy & sad.

R.I.P. “NFL Scoreboard”

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbTo kick-off coverage of early action on NFL Network (1:00 EST), a scoreboard format, featuring 6-8 games at one time, offered an oasis, a sanctuary for those who love everything football offers in highlights, sensible stats, clear, clever & concise radio commentary and a minimum of commercial interruptions.

But sadly, Scoreboard is no more.

In their finite wisdom (Sorry, but I‘m steamed), the Suits & Skirts at NFLN opted in 2015 to perpetuate the tired trend (See; Disney et al) in walkie-talkie, where a host (or ‘tess) toggles takes, usually standing, from former footballers on games-in-progress. Yippee.

A reversion back to the scoreboard format won’t ever happen. TV does not improve today. But I’ll always have my memories of how good NFL coverage could be. Like Fred sang it so long ago, “♫ No no, they can’t that away from me ♫ (Shall We Dance (Gershwin ’37)). No they cannot.

Green Bay Packers

....McCarthy.wc.cca.8.11.7.TJ.Grant.thmLosing at Lambeau to their biggest rival to close the regular (It ain’t da’ Bears), letting the North slip through their green & yellow sticky-gloves on a night the Vikes’ QB couldn’t crack a 100 (99, 0-1) and All-Day only made it part-way (67y), does not bode well for the playoffs nor Mike McCarthy’s Fox Valley future.

New York Giants

Whomever’s responsible for the long-running deficiencies in defense and run, that person(s) (Mara, Tisch or Reese?) should give up the calling. If that’s Tom Coughlin, his exit makes sense. If it’s not, his exit still makes sense, for it was unlikely the 2-time winning (& weary) Super Bowl coach would’ve been given much more to work with, regardless.

When eligible, Tom should be Cantonized, no matter the result of any future gig. Quickly turning an expansion (Jags) into a contender and besting one of the top teams to ever lace ’em up (Patriots), twice, in bringing two NFL championships to the Metropolis is Hall-worthy. But at near 70, golf may be his game

Miami Dolphins

There are valid reasons for not re-investing in an interim coach (Mularkey (TN 2-7); Campbell (MIA 5-7, fired) but I’d not use W-L records as the sole basis. Taking reins from a fired former (Philbin – Whisenhunt, both questionable moves at the time) in-season is insufficient test of a man’s leadership and planning ability.

Given Miami’s tumultuous times of late, and a pretty nifty win over rival powerhouse Patriots in the closing contest, staying with Dan Campbell for at least another season seemed a prudent course. So much for prudence.

Cool Quarterback Continuity

....O'Brien.8.9.12.wc.BenJones88.thmHistory shows QB platoons can work (old Rams) but what happened in Houston in 2015 may be unprecedented in the near 100 years of NFL annals (1919). What Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien and OC George Godsey worked is something of a teensy-weensy miracle: Making the post-season (9-7) on the leadership of four different starting QBs, all having snagged a win to help the effort.

The four links in the chain-of-victory: Hoyer (5-4), Mallet (1-3), Yates (2-0) and Cowboys’ cast-off, Weeden (1-0). Kudos, relay-men.

Not Like This, We Didn’t

For those who remember George Allen and his Fearsome Foursome, early Eric Dickerson and even a few old-timers who can recall the glory days of Van Brocklin & Waterfield calling the signals, the return of the NFL to Los Angeles seemed a good idea long in coming.

But not like this, it didn’t. Uprooting established clubs and leaving fan-bases out in the cold was not how we envisioned the LA addition to the NFL family of franchises, Misters Goodell and Smith.

Rams return to their 2d home (CVD-LA-STL) has plausibility but charter AFL’ers the Bolts belong in San Diego as do Raiders in Oakland, just as much as Packers belong in Green Bay and Vikings in Minneapolis.

Ownerships of the Chargers, Raiders and Rams have all reportedly this week applied for the job in Los Angeles. Whoopty friggin’ do.

“Surprise, surprise!”

Chip Kelly firing (26-21 (PS 2 of 3y)):

The Murray (3.6) signing for big bucks that only a Dickerson-like résumé should support, putting one too many ‘cooks in the backfield kitchen,’ plus the odd QB exchange with St. Louis for talented but oft-injured Sam Bradford (Kolb) were wild dice rolls that came up snake-eyes. The problem: Owner Jeff Lurie and club President Don Smolenski had their hands on one of those dice.

Chuck Pagano contract ext’n (41-23 (PS 3 of 4y)):

One .500 season (8-8) in amongst three double-digit years is not necessarily cause for change, but Pagano’s failure to even consider keeping his resurgent 17-yr substitute QB in Matt Hasselbeck (5-3) in starter‘s role upon Luck’s healthy return, flying in the face of mojo, couldn’t have helped Colts’ moral, not Matt’s, anyway, and calls into question coach’s appreciation for the spirit of sport.

NaVorro Bowman

....Bowman.wc.9.8.13.D.Hartwig.thmHaving sat for all of 2014 regular in recuperation by repair of a torn ACL, the 49ers All-Pro linebacker returned to a different 49ers’ team in 2015, from staff (Tomsula) to co-workers (Willis retire). No matter, for NaVo took up right where he’d left off: top-notch tackle-machine, leading the NFL in solos (116) and combo (154) and aught win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year honor over surging sack specialist, J.C. Watt.

Dousing Dilemma in Denver and Cincy

Mustangs understudy Osweiler played like a pro (5-2) and will have his day in the sun (& snow) again but is a work-in-progress and likely did not exhibit enough natural inclination to matriculation to win total trust of team & staff where a healthy Pey-Dirt stands on the sideline. His first stalled drive and eyes would be turning to the old war horse. Of course, it’s fair to write, if Manning stalls those eyes will be turning Brock’s way just as likely, though not as quickly.

Same holds true for fill-in signal-caller A.J. McCarron in the Queen City. The former collegiate champion (Ala.) similarly performed in admirable fashion (2-1)) but a fit Andy Dalton, even at 0-4 in playoff games, gets the no-brainer nod.

The PED Monster

Reporting last week, Al Jazeera attempted to tie one of the faces of the NFL, Peyton Manning, to the use of PEDs (HGH) by way of mailings he supposedly received at his home addressed to his wife Ashley from an anti-aging clinic in Indianapolis in 2011.

Though the report would seem to cry out for clarification and possible corroboration or disproving of claims and may trigger legal actions in libel or defamation, it has a small upside: It shines a necessary light on NFL/PA’s poor PED-prevention policy that leaves wide open window of opportunity (invite) to those who cheat the game, fans and themselves with HGH and the like.

Goodell, like Manfred, must use his bully-pulpit and press union leadership (DeMaurice Smith) to in turn to press player membership to vote to close that window tight (in-season blood draws for every…rostered…player), once and for all. “Build (a movie (“concussions”)), and they will (listen)?” Denzel Washington, Harrison Ford, Matt Damon, Joe Pesci & Angela Bassett could all star.

As to the report, too soon for this reader to vest, up or down. I’d let this soufflé sit for a time, see if it stands or sinks. More facts is always “a good thing.”

MVP 2015

......Newton.9.28.14.wc.K.Allison.thmThe Cam campaign would look now to be set to pop those champagne corks 2.6.16, in celebration of taking home the MVP trophy, though, no bubbly for Mr. Newton if he and his Cats are still vying for the VLT.

It would be a deserved awarding for Newton but with timely assists from fellow QBs and former leaders in Brady and Palmer whose pedestrian play in closing, along with the traditional voter bias for offense (See; defenders N. Bowman & R. Jones), opened the door for Cam’s probable first win of the honor.

Rushing stats must be assessed with a different eye where QBs (single-wing tail back) are concerned, even a deduction of points on the rabbit-habit (vs mobility (Wilson, Young, Tark)). It will too often leave the field general’s mind wanting in the clutch, as recent times have shown (See; Kaep (SB47 & NFCC14)).

.....macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.2011.wcSteven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credit: B.O’Brien, wc, BenJones88, 8.9.12 ; NFL-symbol, wikiproject; M.McCarthy, wc, 8.11.7, TJ.Grant; N.Bowman, wc, D.Hartwig, 9.8.13; C.Newton, 9.28.14, wc, K.Allison; macroecono, lamcasinoroyal, 2011, wc
Posted: 1.6.16 @ 1:36pm EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL15 – W16: Bengals Nor Broncos a House of Cards

21 Dec

Besides the inevitable pink-slip or eagerly encouraged exit, it’s the biggest fear of every single NFL head coach, that his starting quarterback will go down & out for extended time with an injury.

In 2015, head honchos of the Ravens (Flacco), Colts (Luck), Broncos (Manning), Eagles (Bradford), Cowboys (Romo) and Bengals all had that fear realized and were forced to improvise as their top signal-callers went out with hurts that sidelined them for anywhere from two games (Sam) to indefinitely (Peyton).

.....Romo.10.13.10.bigcatsliar.wc.thmbHalf of those clubs were struggling as it was (BAL – PHI – IND) whereas the Cowboys (2-0) were looking back-in-the-saddle and the Mustangs (7-2) and Bengals (10-2) were well on their way to Playoff-land when trouble hit.

But as things have gone with the clip-board boys at the controls both Denver’s Gary Kubiak and Cincy’s Marvin Lewis might say, ‘Embrace the fear!’ as their teams have been fairing pretty well since their stars-under-center exited the field to heal.

Fourth-year man Brock Osweiler (62%, 8t-4i) has played competently during a 3-2 run keeping the Broncos in the hunt, losing a close one at Pittsburgh in W15 play (27-34), while not-far-removed from Crimson campus A.J. McCarron (70%, 2-0, 3t-2i) has guided the Tigers offense with a similar calm, cool & collected demeanor.

That dread that will drape over coaches, crew & coliseum faithful at losing their favored gladiator is not unfounded.

.....McCarron.0.17.13.EOoP-USGov.wc.thmMore often than not those proverbial wheels come off the winning wagon as the under-study usually doesn’t have the playbook down nor exhibit the same rapport with his co-workers as did the injured field general. Pull out the key card and the structure will usually come crashing down, tumble like a house of cards that never should‘ve stood in the first place.

So when the wheels stay on sprockets it feels like a blessing.

And so far the Broncos and Bengals are “Houses of the Holy (Led Zeppelin ‘73),” set to square off in a Battle of the Blessed in the Monday Night feature (12.28 / 8:30 EST) at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver.

Odds-makers will have a tougher time picking a favorite in this holy war than they will the point-spread, but this worn & weary NFL15 prognosticator, one that advises against making any wager beyond the friendliest sort, is tabbing the Bengals (11-3) to pull-off the win over the Broncos (10-4). Neither Dalton nor Manning are expected to make a return at this stage in the season, aiming, at best, for the post-period.

....Osweiler.wc.9.29.13.J.Beall.thmWhile Bengals (#11 / 4) advantage over Broncs in team offensive ranks (#22 / 18) was compiled largely with Andy at the controls, McCarron’s shown a talent-in-transition that inspires confidence while his defensive ‘mates are leading (papg: #1 v 4 (DEN)) and closing the gap on their equally orange-clad enemy’s season-long hold on the key stoppage category (yapg: #9 v 1 (DEN)).

This Denver donnybrook will be one of three certified mettle match-ups that will highlight Week 16 action as Patriots (12-2) visit division rival and unexpectedly resilient New York (9-5) in Sunday’s early slate (12.27 / 1:00 EST) as the Packers (10-4) travel to the land of saguaros to take on fellow NFC contender Arizona (12-2) in later play (4:25).

.....macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.2011.wcSteven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credit: M.Lewis, 9.16.13, wc.cca, emeybee; M.Lewis, wc, AJ.Allmond, 6.29.10; T.Romo, wc, bigcatsliar, 10.13.0; A.McCarron, wc, 10.17.13, EOoP, US-Gov; B.Osweiler wc, 9.29.13, J.Beall; macroecono, lamcasinoroyal, wc, 2011
Posted: 12.21.15 @ 11:59am EST; Copyright © 2015

NFL15 Cherry Picks W11: Bad Blood

19 Nov

Purple Cheese

“♫ Bad…BAD…blood…BLOOD, is takin’ you for a ride,
The only good thing about bad blood is lettin’ it slide (N.Sedaka ‘75)) ♫.”

Schedulers at NFL Central tabbed Week 17, the League’s closing act-in-regular, as rivalry weekend. Pick a team and there’s good chance you’ll guess their final foe:

The Chiefs? That’d be the silver & black, the Oakland Raiders.

The Falcons? It’s the Saints, of course, and so on & so forth.

....cheese.purple.GNOME.app.wc.Siegal.Nilsson.Vybiral.Perusin.thmWeek 11 will offer-up an appetizer plate of what may be the most heated rivalries in the game when the reeling Packers (0-3) bus-ride West (Wouldn’t that be a hoot?) to the land of lakes to face the Vikings, old AFL opponents Buffalo and New England square-off in Foxborough and the new brand of pigskin w/ premium on mobility and serious D will be on display in Seattle when 49ers come calling on regional rival Seahawks.

It’s rivalry that fires the sport furnace.

Celebrity is big (check out # of followers for Kim Kardashian on soc-media (had to Google her spelling)), but like “glory,” celebrità too is “fleeting (Patton ‘70).”

Rivalry has substance. It lasts. It’s what college cufflinks refuse to concede in their dinero-driven game of Conference musical chairs.

Players and coaches will come & go but teams and their familiar foes will, by & large, always be there with it’s raucous rivalry evident in times of feast or famine.

Family feuds, while constituting bread & butter of sport, do have their downside.

Besides the chucklehead-fan contingent (3.5%) present at every meet, piling-on, salting the wound of a rival who’s feeling the heat is another bad by-product.

......Ryan.10.23.11.wc.M.O'Leary.thmbYou won’t hear Bills’ Rex Ryan mouthing about Deflategate. Rex tends to play the clown but in truth is a savvy customer who knows full well the high caliber of competition he’s been facing in New England during his NFL tenure.

The same sensible tack can’t be said for Jim Kelly (“He (Brady) didn’t need to do it (Tell us something we didn’t know, Jimbo (See; 2H v Indy & SB49 (SEA))”) and Don ‘Get Me Some Ginkgo Biloba Fast’ Shula (“we didn’t deflate”). Ugh.

Other grudge matches thrive for a time but seem predicated more on cult of personality than franchise feud, i.e., NE v NYJ (Ryan to BUF) , Seahawks v 49ers (JH to UM) and KC / SD v Denver (aged Peyton).

Packers (6-3) @ Vikings (7-2)

Gander at that final slate and you’ll notice something…atypical (?): It’s the Vikes vs the Pack, not da’ Bears, 2d oldest rivalry in NFL annals (Cards v. Decatur Staleys (Bears) 1919). Purple People Eaters displaced Monsters of Midway as Green Bay’s biggest rival sometime in early 2000s. Packers would never stoop to concede such a state, being NFL blue-bloods they are, but ‘it is what it is,’ as the guys say in 2015.

....Zimmer.9.20.14.wc.MN-NG.thmHow so? Not because the Vikes have been hauling in NFL title trophies (1 (‘69)). Truth be told, Minnesota’s been nearly as bad as once great Lions (30s-50s) since their last Super appearance (SB11 (’77): OAK 32-14). But in head-to-heads, Norsemen were even-Steven with Green Bay, until Rodgers took the reins.

This rivalry won’t look too imposing to fans outside Upper Midwest. Pack’s been a formidable force since Wolf, Holmgren, Favre & White worked a renaissance in the Fox Valley while Minnesota seems the ultimate snake-bitten club.

.....McCarthy.wc.cca.8.11.7.TJ.Grant.thmDon’t know if it’s common cultural threads running through these two Northwest Territory terrains, making ‘similars distract’ or that one’s championship pedigree (GB) has, traditionally, had little effect in the usually competitive nature of their frothy head-to-heads, but the rivalry rocks with best of ‘em.

And it’ll get rockier as the pro football future in the Land of 10,000 Lakes looks brightest than it’s been since Brett Favre landed on the Minneapolis tarmac back in 2009.

Don’t be deceived by today’s cordiality between opposing players. You’d think they and families were all booked on Carnival Cruise lines. Rival fans share no such cute camaraderie. Despise is the word. The mutual dislike between GB and MIN faithful runs so deep it’s safe to say a loss by the hated rival can sing sweeter in their frostbitten ears than hearing news of their own team’s win. Major malice.

Bills (5-4) @ Patriots (9-0)

Given the lop-sided nature of this rivalry in recent years (pro-Pats), younger NFL fans likely see it as the natural order of things.

.....Belichick.8.28.09.wc.cca.K.Allison.thumbBut it was Buffalo, starting back in days of the AFL (1959-69), who were typical top-dogs in the grudge match, having won back-to-back championships (1964-65) with names like Saban, Kemp & Gilchrist, and then the Super Levy years (1987-97 (4 SBs)). Pats had some runs, an AFL title game (’66) and Fairbanks (70s) and Berry (80s) decades, but it never ended well (SB20 (Bears)).

With Lions shocking win at Lambeau, heck, the whole mind-blowing 2015 NFL season, it would be foolish to make brash prediction about the defending champs stomping the upstart Bills. And then Tom Brady is without his favorite target in Mr. Edelman (foot break). Suffice to write, Patriots should be favored.

49ers (3-6) @ Seahawks (4-5)

The western version of bad blood.

Would’ve preferred schedulers had pitted the granddaddy of grudge-matches West of the Mississippi, the Chiefs v. Raiders. Both have been showing some life of late. This Pacific Northwest duel, however, should fill the bill just fine.

.....Carroll.wc.12.29.13.M.Morris.thmThough under .500, Seattle is still a contender for finagling a playoff spot in a woeful NFC. It’s been a strange ride for the team that looked a template for title-hood, coming off a tough loss in SB49 where they were ahead, only to fall short in final moments by way of a play-call knuckleheads just won’t let go.

Defense is where it begins with ‘Hawks and their leader Kam Chancellor rolled the dice on a holdout that set things off on the wrong foot. Four Ls in the first six (including first two) and they’re now just starting to get it (mojo) back.

.....SF.Sourdough.Sam.2.4.09.M.Hayden.HI.thumbCarroll’s a coaching genius in division that’s been loaded. There’s Pete, Jeff Fisher, Bruce Arians and 1st-year man Jim Tomsula who replaced Jim Harbaugh (UM) and served as 49ers’ DL coach under three regimes (‘07), helping shape those tremendous teams earlier in this decade when San Fran made two NFCCs.

The season started nicely for the burgundy & gold, giving Vikes a thrashing in W1 (20-3) but went downhill from there, losing 5 straight (7 of 9) and seeing former star-in-the-making Colin Kaepernick getting benched for Blaine Gabbert.

On the upside, superstar linebacker NaVorro Bowman has made what looks to be a complete recovery from torn ACL suffered in 2014 NFCC and the guys pieced together a nifty win versus then 6-2 Falcons (17-16) heading into the bye.

Down in Denver But Not Out

While youth-minded media push hard to youth-enize the storied career of veteran Peyton Manning, hoping his latest injury-exit is the first step into retirement, 4y man Brock Osweiler has been handed the ball and will stand under center when Denver (7-2) visit’s Soldier Field to take on a rejuvenated Bears squad (4-5) on Sunday.

.....Osweiler.wc.9.29.13.J.Beall.thmWhat does Brock bring to the table? How ‘bout picks, but with “more feeling (The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (’66))?” That would be the smart-aleck take.

The smarter take: The 6’7″ Idahoan and former Sun Devil (pre-“fork”) will bring a Manning-esque poise-in-pocket to the field of play, likely put more horsepower behind his throws, if not as well timed (yet), and show a youthful vigor not seen since days of Tim Tebow. Whether “mania” is part of it, that’s doubtful, with the schedule and paid-like-a-Prince Peyton healing-in-the-wings.

.....cherries.B.Kua.wc.cca.thumb.6.1.08

Cherry Picks Week 11: Rise of the 2-7s

OAK (4-5) @ Lions (2-7): 11.22 CBS 1:00: DET wins
Colts (4-5) @ Atlanta (6-3): CBS 1:00: Falcons win
STL (4-5) @ Ravens (2-7): Fox 1:00: Baltimore wins
Tampa (4-5) @ Philly (4-5): Fox 1:00: Eagles win
Broncos (7-2) @ Chicago (4-5): CBS 1:00: Bears win
Jets (5-4) @ Houston (4-5): CBS 1:00: Texans win
Redskins (4-5) @ Carolina (9-0): Fox 1:00: Cats win
Cowboys (2-7) @ Miami (4-5): Fox 1:00: Dallas wins
Kansas City (4-5) @ SD (2-7): CBS 4:05: Bolts win
Pack (6-3) @ MIN (7-2): Fox 4:25 (GTW): GB wins
49ers (3-6) @ Seattle (4-5): Fox 4:25: Seahawks win
Cincy (8-1) @ AZ (7-2): NBC 8:30 (GTW2): Cards win
Buffalo (5-4) @ Patriots (9-0): ESPN 8:30: NE wins

Record: 45 – 53

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: Pack-Vikes, 11.14.11, wc.cca, M.Morbeck, Loadholt-Matthews; cheese-purple, GNOME.app, Siegal-Nilsson-Vybiral-Perusin, 12.20.09; R.Ryan, 12.23.11, M.O’Leary, wc; M.Zimmer, 9.20.14, MN-NG, wc; M.McCarthy, wc, 8.11.07, TJ.Grant; B.Belichick, wc, 8.28.09, K.Allison; P.Carroll, wc, 12.29.14, M.Morris; Sourdough-Sam, 2.4.09, HI, M.Hayden; cherries, B.Kua, wc, 6.1.08; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 11.19.15 @ 2:53pm; Copyright © 2015