We are living in an era where we’re witnessing historical records are being broken, mesmorizing moments from deciding games are taking place, and once in a lifetime achievements are current. Clear examples of such greatness includes the Golden State Warriors winning 73 games in a regular season, the newly infamous Julian Edelman’s catch that helped propel the New England Patriots Super Bowl LI comeback, and the Chicago Cubs winning their first World Series since 1908.
We are also living in an era where we’re witnessing some of the best athletes to ever play. When I was a child, I saw Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Ken Griffey, and Jerry Rice. As I got older, I witnessed Kobe Bryant, Mario Lemieux, Derek Jeter, and Randy Moss. Now there’s LeBron James, Patrick Kane, Kris Bryant, and Julio Jones. Over the past 30 years, we’ve have seen athletes come and go, but we have all been witnesses to the greatness that certain professionals have displayed.
In the last 12 months alone, we have seen some of the best championship sporting outcomes in history. We saw March Madness end with a buzzer beater by Villanova to beat North Carolina. Two months later, the Cleveland Cavaliers ended the city’s championship drought by coming back against the Golden State Warriors down 3 games to 1 to capture their first NBA title in franchise history. Fast forward to October, we witnessed another drought end but on a more significant level. The Chicago Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians in the 10th inning of game 7 after being down 3 games to 1 as well. Last month, we saw Clemson get their sweet revenge against Alabama in of the most fantastic finishes in recent memory. Serena Williams won her 23rd Grand Slam title. Less than 2 weeks ago, we’ve witnessed the best Super Bowl ending in NFL history. The UConn women’s basketball team are currently on a 100 game winning streak (that is ridiculous!).
It seems like we’re at a point where we expect great things to happen at every major sporting event. From The Master’s to Wimbledon; the Stanley Cup to the World Series; the NBA Finals to the Super Bowl, we are spoiled by greatness. Appreciate these moments while you can because all things (including exceptional moments) must come to an end.
Today is bittersweet for the NFL. Even though this is the biggest game of the year, this is also the last game of the NFL season until the summer time. I do enjoy other sports that are active during the NFL offseason, but not having Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Football, and even fantasy football leaves an unreplaceable void. With that being said, let’s hope this game ends with a bang.
At 39 years old, Tom Brady is making his 7th trip to the Super Bowl. The New England Patriots have looked dominant the whole season, even with Brady being suspended the first 4 games of the regular season due to “Deflate-gate”. Even though New England has been without their superstar tight end Ron Gronkowski since November 13th, the additions of Chris Hogan, Martellus Bennett, and Michael Floyd have given the offense more depth. Already having Julian Edelman, LeGarrette Blount, Danny Amendola, and Dion Lewis, the New England Patriots have never lost a step.
This season’s league MVP, Matt Ryan, has led his team to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1999. Ryan is the ringleader to this high-power offense, who was the highest scoring team in the NFL (33.8 points per game) 2nd in the NFL in total offense. Center Alex Mack has been the unsung hero of this offense. Atlanta arguably has the best 1-2 punch at running back with Devonta Freeman and Tevon Coleman. Atlanta finished top 5 in the NFL in rushing this season. The Atlanta Falcons have improved their wide receiver core by adding speedster Taylor Gabriel and possession receiver Mohamed Sanu. I forgot to mention that Atlanta already has arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL with Julio Jones.
It’s kind of hard to bet against New England. They have had consistency at the coaching and quarterback positions between Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Also, those 2 individuals had plenty of experience in the Super Bowl. Their offense is good because of their versatility. Their defense has played well at times, but it’s not as consistent as their last Super Bowl appearance 2 years ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if New England wins today for these reasons alone. However, I believe Atlanta’s offense will be a problem. Once this offense gets rolling, it’s almost impossible to stop it (I think of it like a snowball running downhill). New England has never scored a touchdown in the first quarter of any Super Bowl. This will probably be the toughest offense New England has ever seen in the biggest game. As good as Malcolm Butler is, I don’t think he can stop Julio Jones by himself (if he is to cover him). Atlanta’s defense has stepped up in the playoffs, getting consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. I’m officially going with the “underdog” tonight. I have the Atlanta Falcons defeating the New England Patriots 27-21.
Note: This list is who is the best wide receiver right now. Past accolades and accomplishments alone will not move you higher on the list. This list is based on skill, talent, age, and the ability to perform.
Andrew Luck (Colts), Carson Palmer(Cardinals), Drew Brees (Saints)
5) Ben Roethlisburger, Steelers
When Jerome Bettis retired “Big Ben” was given the keys to the offense. Roethlisburger’s passing numbers have gotten better every season. When Pittsburgh added weapons Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, Roethlisburger numbers started to excel. Now the team is a contender again despite a subpar defense.
4) Russell Wilson, Seahawks
In the past, Seattle’s success came in the running game. However, with Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls being banged up last season, Wilson was forced to win games with his arm. Doug Baldwin had a career year due to Wilson’s efficiency. You add that with his mobility and intangibles, the newlywed is hard to stop.
3) Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Rodgers is the most gifted passer in the NFL. As a Chicago Bears fan, I despise him, but he’s phenomenal. Last season, Rodgers struggled without his number one target, Jordy Nelson. With Nelson back, that offense joins the best in the league. We’ll probably see more discount double checks in the near future.
2) Tom Brady, Patriots
Brady has been elite for the past 12 seasons. System or no system, Brady continues to be consistent and dominate no matter what weapons he has around him. However, he does have a great weapon this year in Rob Gronkowski. Brady’s high football IQ and allows him to succeed no matter what obstacles.
1) Cam Newton, Panthers
Newton is the true definition of growth. It’s hard to find any flaws. Physically he is 6’5, 240 pounds. His running ability gives him leverage over the other quarterbacks on this list. Last season he took an big step with his passing despite not having his best wide receiver. He elevated the play for the wide receivers he did have. Wide receivers who would not be starters on any other team. Without Von Miller, the Carolina Panthers are more than likely your defending champs.
This list isn’t me ranking the all time Superbowl games but just me pointing out my favorites that I’ve witnessed over the years.
Superbowl XXXII Denver Broncos vs Green Bay Packers
Even though I grew up to become a die hard Chicago Bears fan, Steve Young and Brett Favre were my quarterbacks growing up. Seeing Favre and John Elway go at it made the first Superbowl I remember special. Even though the Packers had weapons on offense (Antonio Freeman and Dorsey Levens), but nobody was touching Terrell Davis that year. I remember that game came down to the wire with a Broncos win.
Superbowl XXXIV St Louis Rams vs Tennessee Titans
The “Greatest Show On Turf” is arguably the greatest offense in NFL history. Engineered by Kurt Warner, him, Issac Bruce, Marshall Faulk, and Torry Holt set were bobbing and weaving while setting NFL records. The Titans came up a yard short in the final seconds of sending the game into over
*ALL OF THE SUPERBOWLS INVOLVING THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS AND TOM BRADY HAVE BEEN GOOD. ALSO I WOULD MENTION LAST YEAR’S SUPERBOWL BUT PETE CARROLL MESSED THAT UP*
Superbowl XLI Indianapolis Colts vs Chicago Bears
Even though my favorite team lost, just the fact they I’ve witnessed them being there (and Devin Hester run the opening kick off back for a touchdown) made it a special. My dad recorded and kept showing me the 85′ Bears Superbowl XX when they dismantled the New England Patriots. Hopefully one day they will win one in my lifetime.
Superbowl XLIII Pittsburgh Steelers vs Arizona Cardinals
This game was very exciting. Kurt Warner revived his career in Arizona after disappearing when he left St Louis. Him and arguably the most underrated wide receiver tandem in NFL history (Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin) didn’t disappoint on the big stage. However, Santonio Holmes didn’t disappoint either with one of the best game winning touchdown catches in Superbowl history.
Superbowl XLIV New Orleans Saints vs Indianapolis Colts
This was probably the most meaningful Superbowl win for a team in recent memory. Just about 3 years removed from Hurricane Katrina, Drew Brees and that explosive offense handed Peyton Manning his first Superbowl loss.
Another week in the books! We are getting closer to that final playoff push. Carolina and New England remained undefeated, Thomas Rawls is making the best of his limited opportunities in Seattle, and Matt Hasselbeck is undefeated this season as the Indianapolis Colts starter. What else did we learn?
Almost 3 quarters of the NFL regular season is completed, and the MVP race is basically coming down to two players: Tom Brady (the favorite) and Cam Newton (the underdog). Tom Brady’s main argument is his stats (3,320 passing yards, 25 TDs, 4 INTs, 28 rushing yards, 2 TDs) and their team’s record (10-0). Another claim is that their team has looked dominant for majority of the year. Over the past few weeks, New England has started to lose their weapons; first Dion Lewis, then Julian Edelman, and now Danny Amendola. If they were to finish the regular season undefeated, that will show how impressive Tom Brady and this well-oiled machine really is. On the other side, you have Cam Newton. His stats (2,283 passing yards, 20 TDs, 9 INTs, 382 rushing yards, 6 TDs) doesn’t tell the whole story. His best receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, hasn’t played a single snap this year due to a torn ACL. Besides Greg Olsen, I’m not sure anybody else on that offense that plays a skilled position would start on another team. He has done the most that he can with working with arguably the worst supporting cast on offense in the league…not mention that they are undefeated as well. Even though Tom Brady is still the favorite now, this race can get really close, really soon.
The Brock Osweiler Era?
Brock Osweiler made his first start for the injured Peyton Manning this past Sunday against Chicago on the road. He didn’t look bad by any means. Actually, it was kind of impressive. He completed 20 out of 27 passes for 250 passing yards, 2 TDs, and 0 INTs. Osweiler is listed at 6 foot 7, with a cannon of an arm. Denver has announced they he will make his second consecutive start next Sunday against New England. Manning hasn’t looked like the Peyton Manning that we are accustomed to, and he hasn’t made the best decisions either. This may be the end of number 18 in the Mile High City.
Jameis Winston Ahead Of The Curve
For being the number 1 overall pick and being thrown into the fire, Jameis Winston has responded well based on the circumstances. Winston had his best game of his young career Sunday against Philadelphia (completed 19 of 29 pass attempts, 246 passing yards, 5 TDs, and 0 INTs). Over the past 4 games, he has 9 total TDs, 2 INTs, and most importantly 3 wins. Obviously, he still has PLENTY of room for improvement but compared to Luck’s Newton’s, and Manning’s rookies season (I won’t dare put JaMarcus Russell in that category), he’s in the mix, if not better. Fantasy football wise, he’s looked incredible during that span and moving forward.
Baltimore has now without their top 4 players, with injuries to Justin Forsett (fractured arm) and Joe Flacco (torn ACL) this past Sunday against St. Louis. The other 2 players are Terrell Suggs and Steve Smith Sr.
Johnny Manziel allegedly partying over the bye week via video. His status on being the starter is now uncertain. UPDATE: Josh McCown is named the starter and Johnny Manziel is 3rd string.
Green Bay is now tied with Minnesota on top of the NFC North with Green Bay owning the tie breaker.
Bonus: Thanksgiving Outlook
For the longest, Dallas and Detroit always host a team on Thanksgiving. Over the past few years, the NFL has added a 3rd game during the evening. First game is Philadelphia at Detroit. Sam Bradford has cleared the concussion protocol, but it has not been determined if he will start or not. Detroit hasn’t played up to expectations, but they have looked better the past couple of weeks. Second game is Carolina and Dallas. Dallas is actually favored to win this game (and I don’t understand why). Having Tony Romo back under center has given “America’s Team” hope to make a final push for a playoff spot. Cam Newton and the Panthers are looking to continue their perfect season. If Dallas can’t run the ball, things can get rough in Dallas. Third game is Chicago at Green Bay. The NFL’s Oldest Rivalry will face off again Thanksgiving night. Jay Cutler hasn’t won a game at Lambeau Field in Chicago, and he may have to give it try without Alshon Jeffrey (hamstring). Green Bay is looking to get on a roll again after losing 3 straight prior to winning this past Sunday.
Week 7 is over with and we’ve seen quite a bit. We saw Tom Brady play an incredible game against a resentful Jets defense. We witnessed Matt Ryan to become the 5th fastest quarterback to reach 30,000 passing yards in NFL history. Also, I’m still trying to figure out which is the worst team in the NFL between Houston, Baltimore, and Detroit. But… what else did we learn?
The Real Miami Dolphins?
Ever since the Miami Dolphins fired their coach Joe Philbin and was replaced with interim head coach Dan Campbell, they have played like the team that quite a few people thought they could play like, including myself. Lamar Miller is running the ball with authority, Ryan Tannehill looks like the leader that the organization has invested in, and the defense has finally come to life. The Dolphins scored 41 points before halftime against the Houston Texans this past Sunday. We are really going to see how legitimate they are when they travel to New England on Thursday. If they somehow sneak away with a victory, this turnaround shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Ravens Aren’t Good Enough
Besides winning an improbable game against Pittsburgh, the Baltimore Ravens have looked helpless even though their efforts weren’t subpar. The fact of the matter is that the Ravens just aren’t talented enough. Their defense pedigree is a thing of the past. Even though their offense line has been struggling, Justin Forsett is a 2nd tier running back at best. Outside of Steve Smith Sr., Joe Flacco’s weapons are as real as the Easter Bunny. It’s about that time to officially rebuild while they still have movable pieces. Steve Smith Sr. has said he’ll quit if he gets traded, but I seriously believe that in the Carolina Panthers start making phone calls, he’ll be okay with returning to his home away from home. Baltimore is nowhere the same team as it was when the won the Super Bowl a few years ago. It’s time to start from scratch.
Open Season in the AFC South
Never really thought I would even have to mention open season and the AFC South in the same sentence. This division is usually the Indianapolis Colts to lose and lose hard. Shockingly, that’s what’s happening. I picked this team to go to the Super Bowl, and they have looked anything but super. It’s inexcusable that their record is below 500 after 7 games. Fortunately for them, Tennessee has a rookie quarterback who’s going through the motions, Jacksonville is still figuring out their potential, and Houston is looking like an NFL Europe team (Throwback!). They still have time to turn it around but c’mon man!
Is Arian Foster Done?
The most unfortunate news of the weekend was Arian Foster’s leg injury. The doctors have confirmed that he has torn his Achilles and will miss the remaining of the 2015 season. Arian Foster has missed a number of games due to injury over the past 5 seasons including a herniated disc in 2013 and chronic hamstring injuries. Along with J.J. Watt, Foster is the centerpiece of the franchise and the engine on offense. Without him, the team struggles and struggles significantly. With that being said, Will Arian ever be the same explosive player again? I pray he has a speedy and successful recovering and can play like the Arian Foster that we know, but it’s unknown if he can return to that stature.
Another week down in the NFL and things are starting to shape out. The richer getting richer (New England, Green Bay, Denver), the poorer getting poorer (Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit) and well..there’s Roger Goodell escalating his appeal. Besides that, what else did we learn?
Julio Jones For MVP
Usually, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or Aaron Rodgers would be the leading candidates on this award. Brady and Rodgers have started this season flawless… but have you seen Julio Jones this year? When was the last time a wide receiver won MVP? Jones was able to get a contract extension done before the season began and has earned every dollar thus far. He has 34 receptions through 3 games (most in NFL history) for 440 yards and 4 touchdowns, including 12 catches for 164 yards and 2 touchdowns against Dallas. What makes his numbers matter most is the fact that he has made spectacular plays in the clutch to keep the Atlanta Falcons from losing.
The Return Of Michael Vick
Michael Vick being a starting quarterback in the NFL again has come at a price for the Pittsburgh Steelers. With Big Ben out 4 to 6 weeks with a knee injury, Vick will be back in the limelight. Vick, who has played for Atlanta, Philadelphia, and the New York Jets, will have more to work with now than any other time throughout his career. The Steelers are made to win now. Hopefully, their fans will have a better response to Vick now than earlier this year (Click here for details).
Palmer Or Bust
So last season, the Arizona Cardinals were 8-1 until Carson Palmer was done with a torn ACL. The wheels came off quickly for the Cardinals as they went from a dark horse contender to the piñata of the postseason. With that being said, the Cardinals are off to a 3-0 start this year. Larry Fitzgerald looks like a top-tier receiver again, and their defense has been a turnover machine. Without an adequate backup QB again, the season rest of Palmer’s shoulders… again.
Devonta Freeman and AJ Green won and lost people some fantasy football league games on Sunday (depending on what side you was on). In one league me, I went against both (tear). Freeman had 193 total yards with touchdowns against Atlanta. Green provided 227 yards with 2 touchdowns from 10 receptions versus their division rival Baltimore. If Arian Foster plays this Sunday, he should have fun against the Falcons.
Not So Fast
Just when you thought the New York Jets was going to take off… and just when you thought the Philadelphia Eagles were going to sink like the Titanic… the opposite happened for both teams as they faced each other. Not saying that the Jets can’t be elite or the Eagles can’t drown, but this game just left quite a few people scratching their heads. The Eagles, who were the underdogs and was missing DeMarco Murray, shredded the Jets prominent defense led by Darren Sproles. The same Jets team that gave Andrew Luck problems a week ago had a few miscues of their own. Hopefully, both teams can right the ship.