Detroit Lions Fire Jim Schwartz

Jim Schwartz

So, here we are. I haven’t written anything for more than a year, but this moment seems too big to not write about. Especially as a Lions fan and considering Schwartz’ long tenure with the organization, it’s a big day for the team and fans. So I thought I’d just add my input.

I guess I’ll start with my original opinion before today. I wanted Schwartz fired before the Ravens loss, but the Ravens loss cemented my position.

It took me a while to come around on the idea of firing Schwartz. I was a defender of him after 2012’s 4-12 season, as I argued that the injuries the Lions’ suffered weren’t small enough to overcome. To jog your memory, at one point last year, the Lions were playing without: Chris Houston, Bill Bentley, Chris Greenwood, Nate Burleson, Titus Young & Ryan Broyles. Obviously we know what happened to Titus, but the Lions were playing without their #1, #2 & #3 CB’s, leaving them with Jonte Green and Drayton Florence as their outside guys. And weren’t playing with their #2, #3 & #4 WR’s, leaving them with an outside duo of Calvin Johnson and Kris Durham. This, to me, had nothing to do with Schwartz, was just awful luck and wasn’t a fireable reason.

However, this year, there were no injury excuses. Chris Houston regressed badly, Calvin played through torn knee ligaments since September, but still put up close to 1500 yards and 12 TD’s. Stafford regressed badly, as well, basically leading the Lions to their 1-6 record after starting 6-3. Stafford was awful, he couldn’t stop turning the ball over or making dumb throws to bring up fourth down. His mechanics got worse than what they already were, including some awful decision making, like throwing sidearm to Joique Bell on a 3rd down screen with no defender in his face. You can’t make stupid decisions in key situations, which Stafford did after the bye.

There’s been reports the coaches weren’t hard enough on Stafford, nor made him accountable for his mistakes. Now, any knowledgeable Lions fan knows Shaun Hill wasn’t the answer to win games, so benching Stafford wouldn’t have helped the team win games, however if the reports are true, then the coaching staff has to bear a lot of the weight of what happened this season.

Along with Schwartz, Scott Linehan and Tim Lappano were also let go. Both of which I agree with. I know very little of Tim Lappano, as do a lot of people when they’re not front and centre like Head Coaches and Coordinators, but the WR play was not good this year, leading the league in drops along with being ineffective in their routes, it was a bit of a no-brainer. Linehan was a complete no-brainer, though. He and Stafford were the major factors for what happened, in my opinion. Linehan’s playcalling was awful a lot of times. The infamous ‘3rd and short, empty backfield’ sets drove fans insane. The plays almost never worked, because Stafford was playing so poorly, he’d either miss the receiver or the opposition would only rush 3 or 4 and were able to cover up any open receivers. A lot of games were lost on the ‘3rd and short, empty backfield’ plays. A smart decision to let him go.

No other coaches, outside of those three have been given their marching orders and Tom Lewand (Lions’ President) and Martin Mayhew (General Manager) said other coaching choices would come down to the new head coach.

In reality, the Lions don’t need a complete coaching overhaul. Gunther Cunningham absolutely deserves to stay on. The Lions going 1-6 was all on the offense. Cunningham had the defense playing at an absolutely great level in those losses, but they couldn’t overcome the Lions awful offense turning the ball over and putting them in positions of the opponent starting their drive in the Lions’ half. I wouldn’t be adverse to changing the D-Line coach (Kris Kocurek), though. He just hasn’t gotten enough out of this D-Line to stick around, in my opinion. You have the best Defensive Tackle, and arguably best Defensive Tackle tandem, yet Suh and Fairley didn’t do enough to stop the opposing QB. Suh did grade out as one of the top players according to Pro Football Focus, but I’m still not convinced Kocurek’s the guy for the job. Suh has unbelievable skill and talent, but it needs to be more refined.

A few other coaches who deserve to stick around: Offensive Line coach, Jeremiah Washburn. Special Teams coach, John Bonamego, Running Backs coach Curtis Modkins (this guy should get some calls to be an Offensive coordinator, in my opinion) Linebackers coach, Matt Burke (could get some Defensive coordinator inquiries) and Secondary coach Marcus Robertson. Considering what Robertson had to work with at Cornerback, specifically, the guy definitely deserves to stay on.

One name not on there is Todd Downing, QB’s coach. He deserves to be fired, as well. If his job is to try and make Stafford better, then that was a complete and utter failure.

Having said all that, let’s see, both, who the new Head Coach is and who he wants to bring in.

Lewand and Mayhew taking questions at Monday's Press Conference

Tom Lewand and Martin Mayhew taking questions at Monday’s Press Conference following Jim Schwartz’ firing.

Moving on to the coach I want to lead this team.

There’s a lot of ranging opinions on this, with a lot of people wanting Bill O’Brien, though this seems unlikely as he could sign with the Texans any day now. Others want Ken Wisenhunt from the Chargers, which would be my second choice. And others want Lovie Smith.

Honestly, I don’t think any of them are bad choices, but the Lions need a leader who’ll be hard on players, while still able to get the best out of them.

With that in mind, my ideal coach is Mike Zimmer, Defensive Coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals. Zimmer won’t be interviewing until the Bengals’ season finishes, but he’s proven he can keep his players inline. Players that include Vontaze Burfict and Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones, two players no other teams would touch with a ten-foot poll. But not only has he gotten those guys under control, they’ve become very respectable starters on a very good Bengals defense. Vontaze Burfict even led the league in tackles.

Obviously this is all completely hypothetical, and there’s a lot more to it than just getting Zimmer and all problems are solved. The Lions need an innovative OC who can get the best out of the players and take some pressure of Stafford, along with a guy (OC/QBC or otherwise) who can help Matthew Stafford get to that next level.

Zimmer may fix the locker room, but he’ll need help with other coaches who have a plan to fix Stafford and implement a winning mentality in that locker room.

NFL Tips: Week 11 – Thursday Night Football

Miami at Buffalo: It really is hard to fathom how the primetime options were so, so poorly chosen. Just in the past four days we’ve had: Steelers vs. Chiefs and now we get this masterpiece of Miami vs. Buffalo. Now, who knows, maybe this game will be exhilarating, filled with skill and oh so much fun (not bloody likely). Regardless of these crappy circumstances, I guess it’s worth having a quick look at the teams. So both teams last week were on the opposite ends of the spectrum as the Dolphins got destroyed by Tennessee (yes, really) and the Bills were one TD away from beating the Patriots (yes, really). So this game does actually makes for a bit of a mixed bag. If the Dolphins defense returns to it’s pre-week 10 form, then I think the Bills will have a tough time of doing much to threaten the scoreboard. But if Tennessee can put 37 points on you and the Bills just matched it with the Patriots, then anything’s possible. Very tentative pick of Dolphins in this game, though.

Prediction: Miami 17, Buffalo 7

NFL Tips: Week 9 – Sunday And Monday Games

New York Giants at Cincinnati - Prediction: New York 31, Cincinnati 17

Tennessee at Miami - Prediction: Miami 26, Tennessee 13

Detroit at Minnesota - Prediction: Detroit 35, Minnesota 14

Buffalo at New England - Prediction: New England 45, Buffalo 20

Atlanta at New Orleans - Prediction: Atlanta 31, New Orleans 24

San Diego at Tampa Bay- Prediction: Tampa Bay 28, San Diego 24

Denver at Carolina- Prediction: Denver 30, Carolina 26

Oakland at Baltimore - Prediction: Baltimore 27, Oakland 20

New York Jets at Seattle- Prediction: Seattle 22, New York 7

Dallas at Philadelphia - Prediction: Dallas 29, Philadelphia 23

St. Louis at San Francisco - Prediction:  San Francisco 20, St. Louis 10

And then there were two…

Houston at Chicago - Prediction: Houston 14, Chicago 3

Kansas City at Pittsburgh - Prediction: Pittsburgh 38, Kansas City 21

NFL Tips: Week 9 – Sunday And Monday Games.

Denver at Cincinnati - Prediction: Denver 35, Cincinnati 20

Baltimore at Cleveland - Prediction: Baltimore 27, Cleveland 19

Arizona at Green Bay - Prediction: Green Bay 40, Arizona 17

Chicago at Tennessee - Prediction: Chicago 30, Tennessee 10

Miami at Indianapolis - Prediction: Miami 21, Indianapolis 13

Carolina at Washington - Prediction: Washington 35, Carolina 27

Detroit at Jacksonville - Prediction: Detroit 48, Jacksonville 10

Buffalo at Houston - Prediction: Houston 28, Buffalo 0

Tampa Bay at Oakland - Prediction: Tampa Bay 31, Oakland 26

Minnesota at Seattle - Prediction: Seattle 21, Minnesota 7

Pittsburgh at New York (Giants) - Prediction: New York 26, Pittsburgh 20

And then there were two…

Dallas at Atlanta - Prediction: Atlanta 26, Dallas 16

Philadelphia at New Orleans - Prediction: Philadelphia 33, New Orleans 21

NFL Tips: Week 9 – Thursday Night Football

Kansas City at San Diego: My God, what an awful match-up this is. Both these teams are awful and that often makes for a pretty poor game. The Chargers didn’t score a TD last week and Kansas City is basically inept in every category. I’m unlikely to bother with this game, but for those who do. Godspeed.

Prediction: San Diego 20, Kansas City 10

NFL Tips: Week 8 – Monday and Sunday Games

Carolina at Chicago - Prediction: Chicago 31, Carolina 7

San Diego at Cleveland - Prediction: San Diego 28, Cleveland 17

Seattle at Detroit - Prediction: Detroit 24, Seattle 13

Jacksonville at Green Bay - Prediction: Green Bay 48, Jacksonville 20

Indianapolis at Tennessee - Prediction: Tennessee 26, Indianapolis 21

New England vs. St. Louis in England - Prediction: New England 17, St. Louis 13

Miami at New York - Prediction: Miami 27, New York 24

Atlanta at Philadelphia - Prediction: Atlanta 31, Philadelphia 26

Washington at Pittsburgh - Prediction: Washing 28, Pittsburgh 27

Oakland at Kansas City - Prediction: Oakland 30, Kansas City 17

New York at Dallas - Prediction: New York 29, Dallas 26

And then there were two…

New Orleans at Denver - Prediction: Denver 45, New Orleans 38

San Francisco at Arizona- Prediction: San Francisco 24, Arizona 0

Have a good weekend, everyone.

NFL Tips: Week 8 – Thursday Night Football

Tampa Bay at Minnesota: Unfortunately, this week doesn’t offer a mouth-watering match-up of any sorts. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be a competitive game. Tampa Bay did just score 28 points on the hapless Saints, though clearly their defense is pretty well non-existent. Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, Adrian Peterson just ripped the Cardinals (who aren’t a bad run defense) a new a-hole, so Tampa could be in some trouble here. Although on their side, they have the 3rd ranked rush defense so it might even be a stalemate. And if that occurs Ponder will have to carry the team, which could be interesting considering his poor game last week. I think Minnesota will win this game, but hopefully it’s not as boring as it could very possibly be.

Prediction: Minnesota 26, Tampa Bay 14

NFL Tips: Week 7 – Sunday and Monday Games

Tennessee at Buffalo - Prediction: Buffalo 24, Tennessee 20

Cleveland at Indianapolis - Prediction: Indianapolis 31, Cleveland 26

Green Bay at St. Louis - Prediction: Green Bay 28, St. Louis 17

Arizona at Minnesota - Prediction: Minnesota 21, Arizona 14

Washington at New York - Prediction: New York 35, Washington 28

New Orleans at Tampa Bay - Prediction: New Orleans 40, Tampa Bay 30

Dallas at Carolina - Prediction: Dallas 28, Carolina 3

Baltimore at Houston - Prediction: Houston 19, Baltimore 14

Jacksonville at Oakland - Prediction: Oakland 24, Jacksonville 17

New York at New England - Prediction: New England 27, New York 16

And then there were two…

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati - Prediction: Pittsburgh 31, Cincinnati 23

Detroit at Chicago - Prediction: Chicago 23, Detroit 20

Enjoy your weekend and the games, everyone. :)

NFL Tips: Week 7 – Thursday Night Football

Seattle at San Francisco: I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty damn excited about this game. A lot more excited than I would have been had both of last week’s results with these respective teams been different. The results of a 49ers loss and a Seahawks win couldn’t have been better for this game’s anticipation. I know a lot of people are expecting a win by the 49ers, but I’m far from convinced. The Giants were able to do something no team has done for a while. Run on them successfully and break the 100 yard barrier. To go along with that, Alex Smith played like he did prior to the 2011 season and considering how the Seahawks made Tom Brady look, a repeat is highly probable. I think the tide is turning a bit in the NFC West and this game could prove to be a season-defining intra-division game which would give either side a 1 game lead in the division’. I’m excited!

Prediction: Seattle 17, San Francisco 14

NFL Tips: Week 6 – Sunday & Monday Games

Here are the rest of my tips for the weekend.

Oakland at Atlanta - Prediction: Atlanta 40, Oakland 28

Cincinnati at Cleveland - Prediction: Cincinnati 27, Cleveland 19

St. Louis at Miami - Prediction: St. Louis 17, Miami 14

Indianapolis at New York - Prediction: Indianapolis 26, New York 17

Detroit at Philadelphia - Prediction: Philadelphia 30, Detroit 27

Kansas City at Tampa Bay - Prediction: Tampa Bay 21, Kansas City, 10

Dallas at Baltimore - Prediction: Baltimore 27, Dallas 26

Buffalo at Arizona - Prediction: Arizona 27, Buffalo 7

New England at Seattle - Prediction: New England 27, Seattle 17

New York at San Francisco - Prediction: San Francisco 30, New York 17

Minnesota at Washington - Prediction: Minnesota 28, Washington 13

And then there were two…

Green Bay at Houston - Prediction: Houston 17, Green Bay 13

Denver at San Diego - Prediction: San Diego 33, Denver 27

Have a good weekend.

NFL Tips: Week 6 – Thursday Night Football

From now on I’ll be doing 2 separate articles on the weekend’s game. So here’s my first post about Thursday Night Football’s game.

Pittsburgh at Tennessee: To be fair to the NFL and NFL Network, this match-up did look like it could be a good encounter until the season started and the Titans stunk…Well, until the Lions played them of course. But outside of that game, where they still let up 41 points, they have been horrible and possibly even more so than the Browns, who haven’t won a game yet. Pittsburgh’s season is going better, but not by a lot. The Steelers are only 2-2 and have struggled the past two weeks, barely getting over the Eagles on a last-second field goal after having the same treatment thrust upon them in week 3. Despite the team’s differences in talent, I think this TNF game could be quite similar to the game we saw two weeks ago with the Ravens and Browns facing off. Although, like in that contest, I’m pretty confident in saying that the Steelers will triumph.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 27, Tennessee 20

Look for my next article in a couple of days.

NFL Tips: Week 5 – Coming Into Their Own

I think it’s fair to say that Week 5 is around the time where team’s identities are starting to be a lot more solidified than before. It was great to see the proper refs back, and obviously they made some mistakes, like always, but everything was smoother and cleaner. Except for the massive hike in PI calls. Seriously, they need to fix that stupid rule. Anyhow, onto another fantastic bye-week schedule.

Thursday Night Football

Arizona at St. Louis: This week gets underway with a division battle between the Rams and Cardinals. Two teams who can both hold their own in the NFL these days. With the Cardinals being 4-0, it would seem like a bit of a gimme for them, but don’t underestimate the Rams. Their defense is underrated and division games are always more high-stakes and closer than other games. I do think Arizona will triumph, but it should be a good test and game.

Prediction: Arizona 21, St. Louis 16
Sorry, but gotta do quick-fire for the rest.
Miami at Cincinnati - Prediction: Cincinnati 27, Miami 17

Green Bay at Indianapolis - Prediction: Green Bay 30, Indianapolis 24

Baltimore at Kansas City - Prediction: Baltimore 45, Kansas City 20

Cleveland at New York - Prediction: New York 31, Cleveland 20

Philadelphia at Pittsburgh - Prediction: Pittsburgh 21, Philadelphia 19

Atlanta at Washington- Prediction: Atlanta 28, Washington 24

Seattle at Carolina - Prediction: Seattle 17, Carolina 6

Chicago at Jacksonville - Prediction: Chicago 40, Jacksonville 13

Tennessee at Minnesota - Prediction: Minnesota 30, Tennessee 10

Denver at New England - Prediction: New England 31, Denver 30

Buffalo at San Francisco - Prediction: San Francisco 24, Buffalo 7

And then there were two…

San Diego at New Orleans- Prediction: San Diego 28, New Orleans 27

Houston at New York Jets - Prediction: Houston 27, New York 0

Have a great weekend and good luck!

Dexter Season 7: Premiere Review & Thoughts

September and October are pretty much my favorite time of the year. Football is back, hockey is (supposed to be) back, TV shows that I watch religiously each week are back for another season.. and  here in Australia, the weather is starting to warm up. It’s all coming up aces for Mackk.

6 seasons of Dexter have graced our TV screens so far and no doubt there have been highs and lows. Critics have been right to criticize Dexter in the past few seasons, as the plot seemed to be repetitive and fans grew tiresome of the same old present, just wrapped differently. We could go on and on about plot-holes, weird turns & story arcs, Deb falling in love with Dexter, the whole Lumen thing after Rita’s death etc but what’s done is done and nothing could prepare us for the season ending finale of season 6, where Deb walks in on Dexter during his kill of Travis Marshall. The shit is really going to hit the fan in season 7.

I was anxious all offseason. I couldn’t wait. We knew that Deb would have to find out eventually and there had been some close calls that teased us in seasons past. We wanted this day to come, we wanted the one “bad person” that Dexter would have to face to be Deb; his own sister. When it finally happened everyone was still shocked, but also a little excited as we knew it would flip the show on its head and put Dexter into deep, boiling, hot water. As we know the show is at its best when Dexter has to dig his way out to avoid being found out & arrested.

It’s like any sporting event; the best action is in the 4th quarter when a team has to rally from behind to win. It’s the classic underdog story.

From the opening scene of the premier episode “Are You…?”, it looks to be an emotional and thrilling season and hopefully one that provides us with the best material to date. However the writers at Dexter best save some of the good stuff for season 8 which has been confirmed that it will be the last and final season for HBO’s Dexter.

In my opinion, fair enough. As a fan you don’t want the show to end because you’ve followed the show for so long where it’ll be weird not having Dexter there every Sunday night. But you can only run a show for so long before it becomes unrealistically long, drawn out and diluted to the point people stop watching and it ends up getting cancelled. (See Scrubs , Lost and many other shows.)

Many fans and critics would say that the show should’ve ended 2 seasons ago. That this season should’ve happened post-Rita. I’m indifferent. The back story provided in the past 2 seasons has been like a long prologue for what should be the best season to date. You have to know when to quit and I applaud the executive producers and HBO for knowing when to say, “It’s been a great ride.”

The amount of awards and accolades the show has collected along the way is enough to have the team walk out with their heads held high, no regrets.

The season kicked off with a bang last Sunday, as season 7 of Dexter started with Dexter, racing towards Miami International Airport, as if he was on the run. He’s low on gas, stops at the gas station to re-fuel on the way, only to find all his cards declined. He opens a bag with passports, money and phones in it, grabs some cash that has been saved for a rainy day and continues onto the airport. Budapest is where he’s headed and the immediate viewer’s assumption is that everything has gone pear-shaped following Deb walking in on him. However, it’s merely a flash forward further along in the episode and a flash in Dexter’s mind, about running as soon as Deb has witnessed his kill. From there, we resume inside the church where we left Dexter at the conclusion of season 6. There Dexter stands, opposite his sister and standing over Travis in his serial killer uniform, holding a knife and trying to pick his jaw from the church floor, as his sister Deb has interrupted the kill.

Fans everywhere, critics, haters and casual Dexter-watchers were captivated and sucked back in to an outstanding first episode. Redemption time for many.. finally. A return to form of season 1 & 2.

We see Deb holding a gun, asking Dexter to step away. Dexter pleads with Deb, “Deb, it’s me,” as if to re-assure her that it’s not a dream.

Dexter tries to explain himself to Deb, lying about how Travis is the only one and that it was a ‘moment of temporary insanity.’ A classic self-defence story but Deb has a hard time believing it, wondering why Dexter has plastic sleeves, a set of knives, an apron and a change of clothes. “It’s a kit every blood spatter analyst carries with them,” Dexter later explains. Deb observes after Dexter’s story, “..it still doesn’t explain why he’s wrapped up like that.” Dexter tries anything and everything to get Deb to call off the dogs, including using the family card of his son Harrison and the death of Rita, as ways to shake Deb off his tail in the discovery that her brother is a murderer. After trying to get Deb to go home so he can finish off his killing routine, the 2 eventually agree to cover up the scene with a fire, make it the Final Tableau for the Doomsday Killer, an apparent suicide. We see Deb offer to get some fuel for the fire, linking her as an accessory to the murder and slowly, pulling her into Dexter’s dark world.

Honestly, with another season to go after season 7, the writers could’ve easily dragged this type of discovery for the end of season 7, then have the final season be the end game season, where Dexter has everything to lose and everything comes unravelled. But credit the writers, they went with the juicy content to start season 7 and had Deb grill Dexter where it made it believable and still, even after all his lies, she has an uneasy feeling, telling Dexter that it “Doesn’t feel right.” Dexter agrees with her, as if to reinforce the questions that would be circling inside Deb’s head over the next 24 hours.

The psychology that has been opened up by the writers after the one person who wasn’t supposed to find out in all this time, has now been exposed to this other side of Dexter, is fresh and exhilarating as a viewer. Dexter has now become even more sociopathic in his bid to try and cover up the real truth. He lies, but each lie falls flat when Deb digs deeper. Every word that leaves Dexter’s mouth, Deb questions. It’s the detective in her.

Deb’s psychology in this isn’t to be overlooked in all this either as she tries to come to terms with what she’s just seen in the church. Hours later, the 2 get called in to the crime scene of the now burnt down and smoldering church. Dexter offers his forensic opinion, manipulating and leading the team at Miami Metro to believe his every word that it was a suicide. Deb watches Dex closely, trying to understand how easily he just lied, getting himself out of trouble like that and wondering, how many times has this happened before?

Deb then digs herself deeper into the mess as she goes to the press stating that Travis Marshall probably committed suicide because he knew “Miami Metro were closing in on him.”

Midway through the episode, she goes to old case files from the Ice Truck Killer case and struggles with flashbacks of her on Brian and Dexter’s table, wrapped in plastic. From there, her thought process begins to get going. Wondering how Dexter could be so well prepared for a moment of self-defence and rage, it simply doesn’t add up for her. By the end of the episode, the first episode provides us with perhaps an even better cliff-hanger than the one at the end of season 6. After Deb questions Batista’s sister and babysitter Jamie about Dexter’s whereabouts that night and his work hours (knowing for a fact she knows he told Masuka he was leaving work early to start early the following day), Deb goes to Dexter’s apartment to find evidence to back up her suspicions.

Meanwhile, (hours before, moments after the crime scene of the church) Detective Mike Anderson is killed after trying to help a man on the side of the road with a flat tire. Mike opens the trunk to get the tire iron, only to find a dead girl. The man, who turns out to be a mobster (Viktor), shoots and kills Mike. The team gets called to the scene, which starts to eat away at Dexter who needs to feed his dark passenger, especially after all the stress. The suspect who killed Mike, would be the perfect target for Dexter’s next kill. Hours later and we re-visit the airport scene, as the mobster is on the way to the airport with Dexter actually pursuing him to catch him and kill him. He’s 3 steps ahead of Miami Metro as always and buys a ticket at the airport under an alias, so he can take matters into his own hands by bashing Viktor’s head in with a fire extinguisher.

What’s interesting in this episode is Dexter’s careless desire to feed his need to kill, despite being under the microscope from Deb and others, he manages to find a lost baggage area of the airport, set up a make-shift kill room and transport the body, all in the name to help with his stress. Classic Dexter, always finding places that people should walk-in on, yet don’t. Another intriguing part of the episode was Dexter, questioning himself and trying to move on by killing another bad guy, thinking a kill would be all he’d need to ease the stress, try and put it behind him. It had him wondering if maybe now, he should run. Get away from it all.

Killing Mike Anderson off was also an interesting sub plot, as he didn’t for a moment trust the idea that the church fire and suicide of Marshall was legit. He didn’t buy it and it was right after he hung up on Deb regarding that, that Anderson is killed off and the mob-world of characters is seemingly opened up, ready for season 7. Having Anderson not there to be suspicious of Dexter, opens up the possibility of Quinn taking over that role, perhaps he later discovers Deb has something to do with the scene.

LaGuerta is another wildcard in this season, as she discovers a blood slide that Dexter forgot to take from Travis Marshall, once again opening up the curiosity for LaGuerta that Doakes wasn’t in fact the Bay Harbor Butcher. She was once likeable, but in my opinion grew to be annoying and irrelevant in seasons past. Maybe she too can redeem herself or perhaps she’ll be on Dexter’s table by the seasons end, just like Doakes (sort of was.)

After disposing of the body as usual on his boat, Dexter returns home to find Deb sitting there, with his knives, blood slides and mountains of evidence that uncover Dexter’s big serial killer secret. She simply looks at the blood slides and asks, “Did you kill all these people?” “Yes.” Dexter simply responds, honest and open with his sister discovering the truth. “Are you a serial killer?” Deb asks, to confirm what she already suspected. “Yes.”

And that’s it. End of episode 1, but not the end of the questions that will be thrown around all season long.

What an episode. And that was only with 1 murder being discovered by Deb. I didn’t want the episode to end and immediately looked for episode 2 trailers just to feed my Dexter hunger, much like he feeds his dark passenger. A well-written, carefully layed out episode and a very promising start for what should be the first season of the goodbye tour for Dexter. Now we wait until tomorrow night. What now, that the whole truth will have to come out and the true identity of Dexter will be finally revealed to Deb? How does Deb cope? How does Dexter evolve and deal with this? Does she try to understand or does she let the cop inside of her come out and turn her brother in? Does he try and change finally or does he try and take Deb out? Can he control his desires? Can he outrun what seems to be an end game that he’s talked about in seasons past, of the outcome being of him in a chair, facing the death penalty? What becomes of Harrison? What becomes of Louis and past characters that have had inklings of suspicion about Dexter?

The ideas and prospects that loom for Dexter are mouth-watering. To think how suspenseful and thrilling this season could be.. I cannot wait. I’m positive, optimistic that this could be the best Dexter season to date. Dexter and Deb are the core of the show and are finally, all that matter now. There will be the usual sub-plots to help carry the season and fill in holes but the main story is on the right track and if episode 1 is anything to go by, the other 11 episodes of season 7 should not disappoint in any way. By the end of season 7, Dexter will hopefully have us wanting more, rather than less.

Here are some clips on the season, for your viewing pleasure.

Season 7 Trailer

Season 7 Sneak Peak

Season 7 Behind the Scenes Look

Some predictions for Season 7:

1. Dexter & Deb will team up and be vigilantes together, whilst carrying on with their day jobs.

It will be the only way Deb & Dexter can repair their relationship, as they work through it together, using Harry’s Code as the main baseline, having Deb buy into what Harry taught Dexter and helping her realise there’s more than the law-way of doing things. In the end, Deb will have an understanding of Dexter and be there to protect him from the FBI.

2. Someone from Miami PD gets killed and Deb wonders if Dexter had anything to do with it.

Before this episode, I would’ve said maybe Masuka, his intern Louis or Quinn gets killed from some nutjob. But it ended up being Mike. I can still see Quinn or Louis getting killed off, most likely by Dexter. I can see a department man hunt for Dexter, which Deb gets tangled up in and possibly LaGuerta gets killed because of this hunt, much like the Doakes ending.

3. Dexter will hook up with some hot girl who gets naked, only to send Deb into a jealous & weird rage.

I wonder if the step-sibling romance will come into play again & if it does, no doubt it will become a point of contention when Deb gets jealous as Dex has a love affair with a girl, only to have Deb scare her off (or kill her) which leads to Deb confessing the weird truth about her feelings for Dexter.

Notes:

-I wonder if Dexter’s step-kids will ever make an appearance again? Will most likely be there for a reunion of sorts in season 8, would be my guess.

-Looking forward to seeing what happens with Australia’s Yvonne Strahovski (from Chuck) throughout the season. We know she’ll be helping Miami PD with an old case and she was a suspect in the killing of her partner, which has Dexter intrigued of course. Do they hook up?

-The sooner they get rid of Louis, the better. I can’t stand him, and the writers probably are doing that on purpose, for a reason.

-I may have just eaten a whole bag of Skittles while writing this. I should probably see a dentist this week. 

 

NFL Tips: Week 4 – Original Officials Return

Seeing as this week’s slate of games is a bit lackluster, the very recent news of the proper officials returning is going to be the leading story on every game. Especially on how many wrong calls they make and how easily they spot the ball where the replacements had monumental troubles in doing so. And I, for one, welcome our old punching bag overlords. So let’s get cracking.

Cleveland at Baltimore: Thursday Night Football couldn’t kick the week off any more boringly, I don’t think. The stinky Browns head to Baltimore to battle the Ravens who played in a great contest on Sunday night against the Patriots. I know I should expect the unexpected, but there’s no way I can see the Browns triumphing over the Ravens in this one. Unless the Browns come up with a gameplan that completely bamboozles the Ravens, I don’t see the Browns doing much at all.

Prediction: Baltimore 35, Cleveland 13

Carolina at Atlanta: Clearly my tip of the Panthers 2 Thursdays ago didn’t go too well, and the Panthers got hammered by the Giants. Welp, I’m not falling for that one again. Atlanta are one of three 3-0 teams going around these days, and they’re looking pretty damn good. Their offense is firing on all cylinders and their defense is keeping their own so far. I don’t think the Panthers will put up a similar performance as their last time, out, but I also don’t think they’ll win in this divisional match-up.

Prediction: Atlanta 33, Carolina 24

New England at Buffalo: This game was the absolute talking point last season, up until the saviour started for the Broncos, then no one could get any story in. But going back to last season, this 1st match-up made everyone think the Bills were the real deal, which they were until they eventually fell apart and reverted to their former selves. Which, unfortunately for the Bills fans is now the current selves even though they’ve won two of their games (Kansas City & Cleveland). New England’s start has been surprising and disappointing to say the least. I remember reading a legitimate article about them going 16-0, which sounds more preposterous now than it did then, before the season had started. Of course, at that point, Arizona was the worst team in the league and Baltimore was a one-dimensional team with an old defense who just lost their best player etc. That’s a lot of blurb for a pretty easy seeming decision here.

Prediction: New England 28, Buffalo 13

Minnesota at Detroit: With both teams having surprising results last week, I’m pretty confident in saying neither team’s fan base is truly confident about a victory in this one. Of course, before last week, Minnesota seemed like an easy beat, just the same as Tennessee. But 85 combined points later and the Lions are 1-2 up against a team who man-handled the 49ers, a team the Lions couldn’t beat just two weeks earlier. Although the Lions have won 3 straight match-ups against the Vikings, they’ve all be down to the wire. Including last year’s 2nd match-up where Ponder was so poorly destroyed, he got benched for a QB who can’t really throw and they still almost won. My inkling says Ponder won’t be sitting at any point in this one, and Lions fans hope Stafford doesn’t either. Neither team can stop the pass, but both have been fairly good against the run, so last week’s score in the Lions game isn’t completely unfathomable. And I’m really split down the middle, so bias is coming in to break it (sorry, just being honest).

Prediction: Lions 30, Vikings 28

San Diego at Kansas City: The Chiefs put in a valiant effort last week against the Saints and pulled off the overtime victory with one of those awesome Field Goal endings. Jamaal Charles went OFF! Putting up College Football like numbers, with 233 rushing yards. Unfortunately for the Chiefs the San Diego defense has been pretty great against the run thus far, with just an average of 59 yards allowed per game. Of course playing the titans helped those numbers quite a lot. But I still don’t see Charles putting up that sort of yardage, nor do I see the Chiefs passing game keeping them in it. San Diego put in a pretty crappy effort last week against the Falcons, scoring just 3 points. However I definitely expect them to rebound this week and put up a pretty good score.

Prediction: San Diego 32, Kansas City 20

Seattle at St. Louis: Thank you, Seattle, for single-handidly bringing back the proper officials. Your bullshit TD decision has saved the NFL community from crying even more than usual after Monday night. To be fair, though, outside of the winning TD, they played very well on defense, limiting the Packers to just 12 points. The Rams predictably stunk against the Bears, although they’re still doing pretty well on defense, and I expect this to be another low scoring in-division match-up.

Prediction: Seattle 17, Seattle 10

San Francisco at New York: Even though the 49ers had a surprising loss last week, I still think they’re a Super Bowl favourite, every team has off-weeks. The Jets stunk, again, barely getting past the Dolphins and only did because of poorly-timed timeout by Joe Philbin which won the Jets the game. If Philbin hadn’t called a timeout, the Jets would have had their kick blocked and subsequently stayed tied at 20-20. But of course the Dolphins somehow found a way to ruin it. Anyhow, the Jets still aren’t a good team and the 49ers are. Even if this is a bit of a defensive battle, it won’t be a very good game for the Jets

Prediction: San Francisco 27, New York 17

Tennessee at Houston: I don’t expect the Titans to put up 44 points this week. Hell, 14 would be a surprise for me, maybe even 4 would be a surprise? You get the point. The Texans defense has been as good as advertised thus far, even though they allowed 25 points to the Broncos last week. The Titans offense also isn’t in the same league as the Broncos, so that’s not a concern. I think the Texans get another easy win here.

Prediction: Houston 30, Tennessee 10

Oakland at Denver: The Raiders pulled the massive upset over the Steelers last week and look to continue that as they head to Colorado, the Sarcastiball capital, as they take on the Broncos. Even though the Broncos put up a good effort last week, they couldn’t beat the Texans. But I don’t see that being much of a problem this week. Denver has a pretty good overall team and the Raiders are just very inconsistent.

Prediction: Denver 35, Oakland 24

Miami at Arizona: Arizona are the real deal and could be a force in the league this year and their defense will be frothing at the mouth with this match-up. They hit Michael Vick 20 times last week, so imagine what they can do to Ryan Tannehill? I know I’d be worried about his health if I was a Dolphins fan.

Prediction: Arizona 24, Miami 7

And it’ll be quick-fire to finish off. Apologies again.

Cincinnati at Jacksonville- Prediction: Cincinnati 28, Jacksonville 19

New Orleans at Green Bay - Prediction: Green Bay 30, New Orleans 27

Washington at Tampa Bay - Prediction: Washington 34, Tampa Bay 16

And then there were two…

New York at Philadelphia - Prediction: New York 20, Philadelphia 14

Chicago at Dallas - Prediction: Dallas 23, Chicago 21

Enjoy the weekend and games.

NFL Tips: Week 3 – Final Week of 16.

First off, I’d just like to reiterate Sam’s comments about Steve Sabol. It’s an unbelievably great loss to the NFL and the Sports world as a whole, and it’d be nice if other sporting codes could take his vision(s) and apply them to their respective sport. So, RIP Steve Sabol, you’ll be truly missed.

So here we are in week 3, and this marks the final week of a 16 game schedule until week 11, amazingly. Week 4 only has 1 less game, but I’m still technically correct. Anyhow, let’s get on with the tipping.

New York at Carolina: This week’s Thursday Night Football gives us the intriguing match-up of the Giants vs. the Panthers, this storie…OK, so this game is somewhat of a rarity, but it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable or intriguing. And I’m definitely looking forward to watching it. Based on last week’s results, Eli’s arm didn’t fall off and Brees arm didn’t really work too well. The Panthers fought out a gutsy and convincing win over NFC South foes, the Saints. The other end was the Giants beating the Buccaneers, but still having a cry, anyway. Stupid East teams, right? Anyhow, I think Carolina’s Pass D has definitely improved this season, and if they can limit the Giants to a respectable rushing total, they could far alright. The Giants are off to a pretty poor start, despite being 1-1. They lost to the Cowboys, without really threatening and they barely got over the line in the touchdown for touchdown battle with the boys from Tampa. The Giants can still be lethal if they put it all together, but if the Panthers defensive backfield can keep it together, then I think the Panthers will, too. I’m actually going to give Carolina the slight edge, even though I think this will be a very tight contest, and either result wouldn’t surprise me.

Prediction: Carolina 30, New York 27

Unfortunately, I’ve left this a tad late, so will only give predictions.

St. Louis at Chicago -Prediction: Chicago 30, St. Louis 17

Buffalo at Cleveland – Prediction: Buffalo 27, Cleveland 24

Tampa Bay at Dallas – Prediction: Dallas 38, Tampa Bay 24

Detroit at Tennessee -Prediction: Detroit 45, Tennessee 17

Jacksonville at IndianapolisPrediction: Indianapolis 21, Jacksonville 18

New York at Miami – Prediction: New York 27, Miami 21

San Francisco at Minnesota – Prediction: San Francisco 24, Minnesota 10

Kansas City at New Orleans -Prediction: New Orleans 30, Kansas City 27

Cincinnati at Washington -Prediction: Cincinnati 20, Washington 16

Philadelphia at Arizona -Prediction: Arizona 24, Philadelphia 17

Atlanta at San Diego – Prediction: Atlanta 30, San Diego 26

Houston at Denver – Prediction: Houston 17, Denver 6

Pittsburgh at Oakland -Prediction: Pittsburgh 37, Oakland 14

And then there were two…

New England at Baltimore – Prediction: Baltimore 26, New England 21

Green Bay at Seattle -Prediction: Green Bay 24, Seattle 13
Have a great week of Football. :)

313 NFL Awards: Week 2, 2012.

What a week of football and we’re only 2 weeks into the season. Just the tip of the iceberg my friends. A roller coaster start like many NFL seasons before.

Preseason predictions are already proven wrong, ideas of what was supposed to happen are long gone and new ideas on what could happen are forming. However, don’t count on anything just yet. No need to put 1k on the Niners for a SB win. Geez. Calm down, climb down from the roof, take a deep breath and maybe put some pants back on because you’ve still got 15 more weeks of this grey-hair producing NFL season to go.

And with that, here are my prestigious Week 2 NFL Awards.

QB of the Week:

Eli Manning, New York Giants.

Wow. Way to rebound son. You ever think about playing basketball?

The younger Manning was awful in the first half of the game vs. the Bucs, throwing 3 picks and struggling to get anything going offensively. Here we go again Giants fans thought as week 1, Eli was also sub-par vs. the Cowboys in the season opener.

But something at halftime vs. the Buccaneers must have clicked. Maybe something was said, maybe he just likes to idle the machine for a while before he can finally put it into drive. Either way fans rejoiced as he produced numbers in one half of football that most would take 60 minutes to produce and helped pave the way for an outstanding comeback win to lead his team to a 1-1 record before their Thursday Night game in Charlotte vs. the Panthers.

For the record, he finished with 510 yards passing, 3 TDs (to go with his 3 picks) and a passer rating of 89.5, with a 60.8 completion rate. In the 2nd half alone, he threw for 295 yards, tying for the eighth most in NFL history and coming up 3 yards short of Phil Simms’ club record. An impressive 80-yards in 4 plays won the game for the Giants, which featured a 2pt conversion for backup RB Andre Brown. The duo of Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz helped Eli, combining for 21 catches, 378 yards, 18.0 yards per catch & 2 TDs.

Offensive Player of the Week (Other than a QB.. and someone not named Manning):

Reggie Bush, RB, Miami Dolphins.

Wait.. did I just write that? Reggie Bush?!

Yep, Reggie Bush. The same Reggie Bush that we all thought was nothing more than a scat-back, change of pace back, pass-catching back, punt returning/kick returning special-play-making back. Not an every down back like he showed on Sunday. What is this crap? Is 2012 really coming to an end, because he can carry the ball more than 12 times a game in a starters role? Well.. we’ll have to wait and see about that but one thing is clear, he certainly proved for one game at least, that he has it in him to be what he believes he can be: A starting RB in the NFL who can rush for 1k yards.

He helped Miami to a pivotal win in an AFC home opener over the Raiders, finishing with 26 touches for 172 yards and 2 TDs, including a 60 yard TD run. With a 6.6 ypc average, if he can produce the kind of explosiveness like he showed on Sunday for 20+ carries, it will alleviate pressure from rookie QB Ryan Tannehill and help keep the opposing defence honest. Add in his ability in the screen game, and you have a RB like Matt Forte. How his knee holds up over the course of the season, depending if he carries it 300+ times, will be the real test as well.

Many running backs have tried and failed to hold down the starting role as a NFL RB.. but for week 2, he certainly looked like the player that was drafted 2nd overall in the 2006 NFL Draft. I for one, will jump on his bandwagon if he proves me and the rest of the NFL wrong.

Honourable Mentions: Marshawn Lynch, Danny Amendola,CJ. Spiller, Hakeem Nicks.  

Defensive Player of the Week:

Clay Matthews, LB, Green Bay Packers.

Those golden locks are flowin’.

The former Defensive Player of the Year had a monster night on Thursday Night Football vs. the Chicago Bears. What a start The Machine is off to in 2012. 2.5 sacks in week 1, 3.5 sacks against Jay Cutler to go with 7 tackles (4 solo) and constant pressure that rattled Cutler enough to force him into 4 interceptions and more excuses. Matthews is one of only 6 players in NFL history to record 6 sacks or more in the first two games of the season, and he is the only player to do it twice. With DJ Smith making his presence felt as the other OLB, the Packers may have the player they’ve been looking for to help Clay. If teams double Matthews they’ll have Smith to answer for, making the Packers D a scary force for teams to game plan against. At his current pace, Matthews has his sights on the single season sack record and most likely, another Defensive Player of the Year award.

Special Teams: Adam Jones, CB/PR, Cincinnati Bengals.

Pacman packs a punch against the Browns.

The former electrifying and controversial CB is still around, just for those who haven’t heard his name in a while. Blast from the past maybe, but the guy is still playing ball and provides solid depth for the Bengals secondary. After much turmoil, it’s clear he’s found a home and in week 2, he helped the Bengals to a W over the Browns by returning the first Cleveland punt 81 yards for a touchdown.

2 minutes into the game and the Browns were setting up to punt. Jones caught the ball at the 19 and as soon as he caught it, he evaded one Browns defender. Then he started up field and sidestepped about 4 Browns defenders before cutting to the sideline, all the while weaving around other Browns. By the time Jones was at the 50 yard line, he was home and the crowd was on their feet as Jones looked like the player the Titans drafted in the first round many years ago. As he crossed the goal line, he threw the ball into the stands, jumped onto the goalpost and hugged the padding like hugging an old friend he hadn’t seen in 10 years.

Say what you will about his past, but the guy knows how to make plays when the ball is in his hands and he has some room to move.

Coach of the Week: Ron Rivera

Carolina Love to Chico for his Week 2 W over the Saints.*

I know, I know. Of course, I could put any of the 16 winners from the weekend here. But I won’t. Not yet. The Panthers haven’t won a home opener since it seems forever and haven’t beaten the Saints* since 2009. Going into week 2, the Panthers were looking at an 0-2 start if they played the way they did in week 1 vs. the Buccaneers. Had they lost, they would’ve gone into week 3 with a short turnaround and potentially gone 0-3 and before you know it, season is pretty much over in September. Not many teams get to the Super Bowl or even playoffs after 0-2, let alone a 0-3 start.

But the Panthers took care of business, thanks largely to head coach Ron Rivera and his coordinators of Rob Chudzinski and Sean McDermott. The offense was able to get its mojo back, lead on the ground by Cam Newton with 71 yards rushing. Along with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart both gaining 50+ yards on the ground, all 4 of the Panthers running threats of Newton, Williams, Stewart and FB Mike Tolbert, were able to score. On the day, the Panthers totalled 219 rushing yards and look to continue that on Thursday Night Football vs. the visiting Giants.

On defense, the Panthers were able to slowly strangle Drew Brees, pressuring him, disrupting him and forcing him into 2 interceptions; one of those a pick 6 to Panthers safety Charles Godfrey. The Panthers shut TE Jimmy Graham down in the 2nd half and held WR Marques Colston to 1 reception, late in the game. The only success Brees had was checking down to RB Darren Sproles, who finished with 10 receptions. The defence was able to help the offense take advantage of the field position and with the running game and read option working like a well oiled machine, the Panthers controlled the game at their tempo, keeping Brees on the sideline, worrying about where he was going to get hit from next. If the Panthers can consistent play solid D, the unit and team will go places.

Goat of the Week:

The NFL and their continuing effort to wreck the game’s integrity.

I could also put the replacement referee crew of week 2’s games here but I won’t because the referees themselves aren’t at fault. They’re doing the best they can, under extreme pressure and unbelievable circumstances where they just can’t keep up with the speed of a NFL game. Embarrassing for all to watch, if the NFL doesn’t feel red faced from MNF alone and the debacle that was the 3 & 1/2 hour game, then I don’t know what will force them to do something.

Honourable Mentions:

Jay Cutler. Stop pouting and take it like a leader and man should. Enough with the excuses.  

Josh Morgan: Seriously. You throw a football at a guys groin in front of the referee late in the game and exactly.. what were you thinking? How old are you again? And how are you not cut yet?!

Rookie of the Week:

Who needs Luck to get his first win?

Congrats rookie. Luck lead the rebuilding Colts to a 1-1 record with a win over the Vikings, throwing for 221 yards on 20/31 passes, 2 TDs and no picks for a passer rating of 107.5. It was Adam Vinateri that clinched the winner with a 53 yard FG, with 8 seconds left but it was the new face of the Indianapolis franchise that steered the new-look Colts to the W. After Minnesota had tied it up thanks to a 6 yard Kyle Rudolph score, Luck marched the Colts 45 yards in 23 seconds, with back to back 20-yard completions before drawing the defence off-side, and then spiking the ball. On a day when we wondered what RG3 would do, I was wondering what Luck would do and as luck would have it, the rookie certainly didn’t look like a player who had been drafted 1st overall in April. Most impressive was his ability to allude defenders and still be poised to make the play. Moving forward, it’ll be interesting to see which rookie QB fares better.

Quote of the Week:

Ray Lewis, on the passing of NFL Films legend Steve Sabol.

“I think young kids in this business … really need to understand the impact that Steve Sabol had. We lost a great pioneer a few days ago with Art Modell and now lose another one. These men had a vision to do something great. The beautiful thing about what they were doing is it wasn’t for them, they had a vision to expand our league to expand our game and to expand our brand.”

When Ray speaks, I listen. Kids of today, take note.

Upset of the Week:

Cardinals over Patriots, at Foxboro.

Quiz question for $200: When was the last time the Patriots lost a home opener? 2002. Bonus round. What year is it currently? 2012. Show them what they’ve won Doug.

That’s right, a fantastic upset in Boston. And what a bit of a snore-fest it was to begin with. New England QB Tom Brady struggled and the Cardinals did their usual thing of not scoring. Both defences were holding their own and looked to be a New England win after Cardinals RB Ryan Williams fumbled in the crucial stages of the 4th with the Pats recovering the fumble with 1 minute to play. However, TE Rob Gronkowski was called for holding on a Danny Woodhead 30 yard TD run. New England were able to gain 6 yards before Brady spiked it where the Pats would settle for the FG try. And that’s when kicker Stephen Gostkowski shanked the 42 yard attempt; his first missed FG of the day after going 4/4. The Cardinals had escaped victorious by 2 points and Ryan Williams breathed a sigh of relief. In all honesty, he could’ve gone in my GOAT column, and so could’ve Gostkowski.. but both teams made so many bad plays it’s hard to just pin it on the one mistake.

Disappointing Team of the Week:

Dallas Cowboys.

I expected better from you. Actually, not really. But I should’ve known better than to tip you. Kudos to the Hawks though, for taking care of business. Couldn’t be happier for Wilson and Lynch in Seattle, as well that fearsome defensive backfield.

Top Plays of the Week:

Eric Wright, Pick 6 vs. the Giants.

Bucs DB Eric Wright’s pick of Eli Manning’s pass with 20 seconds remaining in the first half was impressive enough as he caught the bullet from Manning from about 5 yards away. From there, it’s like watching a Div 1 player go against a Div III team as Wright makes some incredible moves to get down the sideline and score.

Tom Crabtree, Fake FG Reception vs. the Bears.

It was Thursday Night Football and both teams were struggling to get anything going offensively. Enter, Tom Crabtree. Backup TE. With punter Tim Masthay holding for kicker Mason Crosby, Masthay would take the snap and shovel pass to Crabtree who took it from the left guard to the right tackle, straight up and the gut of the Bears D for a 27 yard TD that would spark the Packers into a beating of Jay Cutler’s Bears.

Honorable Mentions: Eagles TE Brent Celek for his ‘white-men-CAN-jump’ leap over Ravens safety Ed Reed, Reggie Bush’s impressive 23 yard TD run & Bengals WR Andrew Hawkins’ 50 yard TD catch and evade vs. the Browns.  

(For more “Plays of the Week”, click here to go to NFL.com.)

Hardest Hit of the Week:

Golden Tate on Sean Lee, Seahawks vs. Cowboys.

Boom. Cowboys Sean Lee gets layed out by a WR. ..Wait, what?

WR takes out a LB. Golden Tate, take a bow. Hines Ward would be proud. That’s how I want my WR’s to block when or my Panthers RBs are running up-field. Way to help the team and fire up the crowd. Lights out.

Headline of the Week:

NFL Films President Steve Sabol Passes Away

Worst-Play-of-the-Week:

Phantom PI Call on Steelers DB Ike Taylor.

Seriously. How?

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/0ap1000000062826/What-were-the-refs-calling

Ryan Clark comes in to lay Santonio Holmes out over the middle, like an safety should. The hit is clean, Taylor makes no contact and in fact loses Holmes before Holmes makes the catch and then proceeds to fall backwards, courtesy of Clark. It doesn’t take much for these replacement referees. Apparently asking for a penatly now results in the request being granted. Either way, you Mr. Ref get the Worst Play of the Week.

That’s it for Week 2 of the NFL Season already. Hard to believe but week 3 is just around the corner as we look towards Thursday night’s blockbuster NFC clash of the New York Giants visiting the Carolina Panthers.

Stay tuned for my preview of that game and more.

Remembering Steve Sabol: NFL Films Storyteller

Let me be clear. If there’s one thing that you read today, let it be this:

Steve Sabol is the reason why you watch the NFL.

Steve Sabol

Steve Sabol, co-founder of NFL Films passed away Tuesday, aged 69.

You may argue that it was your dad who introduced you to the game, maybe you fell in love with the game through playing it in school or heck it may have even been Madden 2003 with Marshall Faulk gracing the cover.

Ultimately though, it was Steve Sabol who reached out through that TV and pulled you into the game, where you stood for the first time with wide eyes, unable to take your eyes off the poetry in motion that was unfolding before you.

Steve Sabol wanted people to “See the reality, not as an instant replay but rather as a motion film.” It was this kind of vision and creative genius that along with his father, helped revolutionise sports broadcasting and the way that we saw the game.

Today we mourn the loss of Steve Sabol, who passed away at the age of 69; 2 weeks shy of his 70th birthday after an 18 month battle with brain cancer.

However, although we mourn the loss of the loss we should also celebrate the life of the long-time president and mastermind of NFL Films. And what a life it has been for the brilliant cinematic mind of Sabol, who was undoubtedly the heart beat of NFL Films.

In an interview (as seen in Peter King’s SI column on Sabol here) Sabol spoke of his life and legacy.

“So they talk about heaven, and I don’t know what is waiting for me up there. But I can tell you this: Nothing will happen up there that can duplicate my life down here. That life cannot be better than the one I’ve lived down here, the football life. It’s been perfect.”

Perfect indeed. Just like the product he produced on film. There wasn’t a detail Steve would miss. A lineman’s taped up hands covered in mud, blood dripping from a broken nose. The smallest detail, helped paint the picture for the story he wanted to tell and we’ll never see someone like Sabol again; that much is certain.

His genius, his artistry and vision with the camera, his talent with the sound, writing, directing, editing.. it all helped transform what we see before us on Sunday. For more than half a century, he put his heart, his soul into NFL Films and he created a legacy that will always be remembered.

To better paint the picture of the man, here is a perfect clip from the very network that wouldn’t be possible without Steve’s decades of countless work.

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-videos/0ap2000000063280/Remembering-Steve-Sabol

Steve, as an art history major at Colorado College and an All-American running back, was able to entwine the 2 seamlessly, as if it was something that had always gone together. But up until NFL Films, America had not known such storytelling, especially in relation to sports.

It was the 1962 Championship Game, Packers vs. Giants at Yankee Stadium. Steve’s father Ed, who had founded Blair Motion Pictures, had won the rights to film the game, at a cost of $3,000.

Steve recalled the moment he received a call from his father, after winning the bid. “I see from your grades that you’ve been doing nothing but playing football and watching movies,” Sabol told his son. “But that makes you uniquely qualified for this new position I have in mind.”

Steve took the field on that blistery, cold day as a cameraman. The elements were so strong, team benches blew over during the game and cameramen from TV networks had to defrost their lenses with bonfires in the dugouts. One cameraman suffered frostbite. It was truly a horrid day, but a beautiful beginning as the birth of NFL Films. It was the game that impressed then NFL Commissioner Pete Rozell, who asked the owners of the NFL to purchase Ed Sabol’s company. It was then, that NFL Films was born, co-founded by Ed and Steve.

Jim Taylor

From there the Sabol’s brought in Sam Spence to compose the iconic NFL Films soundtracks that would play over the clips of legendary running backs charging towards the camera in slow motion or players standing on the sidelines, the cold air visible through their facemask. On top of Spence, the team added John Facenda – the man with the voice of silk. As Ed Sabol said, he could make reading a shopping list sound like the Declaration of Independence. To NFL fans, he is known as “The Voice of God.” Facenda’s soothing baritone voice was the perfect match for the dramatic nature of the footage he narrated.

And it was Facenda himself who famously read a poem written by Steve Sabol. Titled, “The Autumn Wind” which described the Autumn weather of the football season, it’s also known as the “Battle Hymn of the Raider Nation.”

http://www.nfl.com/videos/a-football-life/09000d5d8235036b/A-Football-Life-The-son-the-sound-the-symphony

(If watching those clips I’ve linked above doesn’t give you goose bumps, nothing in the NFL on Sunday will.)

The way in which Ed and Steve worked together as a team, was remarkable. But it was Steve, who helped innovate and orchestrate the footage. He would chronicle characters, deftly describe a play with slow motion, convey emotion with a composition as well as humour, just like a Hollywood film; just like a storyteller would.

“We see the game as art as much as sport,” Steve Sabol told The Associated Press when his father was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

People were only watching football. Then Steve came along with his eye for detail, his love of film, football, art and with a work ethic and passion that no one could match, he moulded a product that helped teach us about the game, more so than anyone else ever could.

He introduced slow motion and reverse angle replays, close up shots of players. There was the close up shot of the pigskin in the air (labelled “Tight as a Spiral” shot.) There were microphones on players, coaches, along the sidelines to pickup the sounds of the game as well as sideline chatter. NFL Films also featured the home team’s radio broadcast dubbed over the film, as the radio commentators tended to convey more passion.

With the dramatic orchestra soundtrack by Spence, the deep voice of Facenda (and later Harry Kalas) it was like combining ballet and football onto the small screen.

Sabol also helped us take the game less seriously and help show it for what it was.. a game. We were able to laugh at football (and at first, made coaches scorn as the footage made them “look like chumps”) with the Follies series, which debuted in the late 60s and was proven to be a popular staple of the NFL Films product.

No doubt, Sabol leaves behind a legacy.

Commissioner of the NFL Roger Goodell released this statement on the passing of Sabol:

“Steve Sabol was the creative genius behind the remarkable work of NFL Films. Steve’s passion for football was matched by his incredible talent and energy. Steve’s legacy will be part of the NFL forever. He was a major contributor to the success of the NFL, a man who changed the way we look at football and sports, and a great friend.”

 A true icon, Steve wanted to be the best. Master his art. In his own words, he wanted to “bring an understanding, to something that has already been seen; to bring creative treatment, to reality.”

What started as a father’s dream, became a reality because of his son. I for one am thankful for Steve, Ed and the NFL Films team that pioneered the way we see football. Without their hard work, their talent, leadership and brilliance, I believe the NFL would not be as popular as it is in 2012.

Throughout his career, Steve has won over 40 Emmy awards himself for writing cinematography, editing, directing and producing. NFL Films as a company, has won over 100 Emmys since its 1962 establishment.

Steve and Ed both received the Lifetime Achievement Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2003 & Ed Sabol, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year as a contributor to the game.

I  would love to see Steve in there posthumously, as he is above any other player in deserving such an honour and should be right there with his father. I believe the NFL would put him there in a heartbeat, but that will be up to the Pro Hall of Fame committee to decide what’s best for the man who embodied exactly what ‘A Football Life’ is.

Steve is survived by his wife Penny, his son Casey, his parents Audrey and Ed, and his sister Blair. Rest in Peace.

If you love reading up on Steve or NFL Films and want to read some other fantastic articles on those very subjects, here’s a few links worth checking out: 

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/peter_king/09/18/steve-sabol/index.html?sct=nfl_t12_a0

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1165530/1/index.htm

http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2012/03/26/Champions/Sabol.aspx

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000063659/article/the-nfl-world-reacts-to-passing-of-steve-sabol?module=HP11_hot_topics

 Enjoy.

NFL Tips: Week 2 – Handshake-Gate

Well, thank goodness proper Gridiron is back! Coupled with College Football, the weekends can’t get much better. And after a very enjoyable and infuriating (*coughrefscough*) spate of games, I’m back to do it all again for week 2. Which I’m going to title Handshake-Gate, even though it sounds as crap as the hype around the post-game festivities. Let’s get going, shall we.

Thursday Night Football

Chicago at Green Bay: Week 2 kicks off with a doozy between the Packers and Bears, the classic NFC North grudge match. In week 1 the Packers took the loss to the 49ers as Rodgers couldn’t overcome the 49ers’ defense, to lead the Pack to victory (boy what a great prediction that was). On the other side, Chicago welcomed Andrew Luck and the new-look Colts with quite the hiding. The Bears ran up 41 points on the Colts, with Brandon Marshall having quite the field day with 9 receptions for 119 yards and a score. The Packers defense looked frightfully poor against quite a tame 49ers’ offense, so this definitely has some worry signs and a score of 40+ for both teams isn’t out of reach, by any means. This really is a tough match-up to call, as Chicago have the more complete team, but the Packers have the supreme offense and the home field. I’ll give it to the Pack in a tight, high-scoring affair

Prediction: Green Bay 40, Chicago 38

Sunday & Monday games

Kansas City at Buffalo: With both teams coming off rather poor performances last week, where they both had a 40 burger put on them, the Chiefs and Bills will be looking to replicate their opponents performances from last week. Buffalo has lost Fred Jackson again for a few weeks, so the entertaining CJ Spiller will carry the bulk of the work in their backfield. Kansas City was upstaged by the very real and deadly Atlanta offense. Of course it helped that the Chiefs were without their best CB, Brandon Flowers, who is likely to return this week and shadow Stevie Johnson. With the results of last week in mind, this will either be the opposite of the Green Bay vs Chicago game, or the same. Both defenses were heavily talked up before the season got underway, and both didn’t show up. So they’ll either show up this week, or we’ll get a high-scoring game. This could be quite an under-the-radar game in the scheme of things, but there isn’t much to choose from the 1pm games. I think Kansas City has the better real offense, so that’s who I’m going with.

Prediction: Kansas City 28, Buffalo 17

Cleveland at Cincinnati: Another match-up of two teams who lost, and played quite poorly. Let’s just hope for both fanbases that their QB’s play a little better. Cleveland were a lot closer last week than Cincinnati, but that was with Joe Haden, who’s been suspended for 4 games for a banned substance. The Bengals showed no signs of their playoff form last week, or perhaps I’m underrating the Ravens, or both…Anyway, Cincinnati got torched on the scoreboard as well, and their offense wasn’t really clicking. But the Cleveland defense shouldn’t be anywhere near the problem that Baltimore’s was. Cincinnati should get a relatively easy win.

Prediction: Cincinnati 26, Cleveland 14

Minnesota at Indianapolis: Here’s an interesting point. If Minnesota win this game, they will be leading the NFC North. Early days of course, and the Jaguars nor Colts are some sort of significant win, but it’s still the truth. Anyhow, the Vikings got over the aforementioned Jags in overtime while the Colts got demolished by Chicago. The Colts poor season is expected, and to a point so it Minnesota’s, but if they can’t get past the Colts, then there’s some problems in Minny.

Prediction: Minnesota 31, Indianapolis 20

Oakland at Miami: If you were unfortunate enough to see the 2nd Monday Night Football game, you’d realise that back-up long snapper could be the most important position in Football. At least back-up QB’s actually know what the hell they’re doing and it’s their natural position. The Raiders, obviously, never planned on training a back-up long snapper. Miami don’t seen to have any natural players, or any with skill on their roster outside of Ryan “3 straight picks” Tannehill, who wasn’t terribly accurate against the Texans. Oakland’s defense CAN be good, as I mentioned last week in my crappy tipping exercise and they should be able to come together for the Dolphins, who could be in a race with Indianapolis for the #1 pick next year. And Jarvis Jones will be going to whoever gets it.

Prediction: Oakland 27, Miami 13

Arizona at New England: Arizona have won their last 7 games dating back to next year, but their fortunes against the Brady’s isn’t so fortunate. New England’s defense was stout last week, keeping the Titans to 20 rushing yards and making big plays with a fumble TD. They haven’t lost to Arizona since 1991, so it doesn’t seem like anything is going to change, even with Kevin Kolb under center. And the Patriots have lost one of their last 25 games at home. Very impressive and gives Arizona next to no shot.

Prediction: New England 45, Arizona 20

Tampa Bay at New York: The Giants Super Bowl defending campaign didn’t get off to the start they wanted, going down to their hated rival Cowboys to open the season. Although any knowledgeable Football fan knows the Giants only show up in the 2nd half of the season. Tampa Bay looked alright against the Panthers, though the Panthers looked quite poor. The Giants will need to win the easy games to keep pace in the East this season, and this is one of them.

Prediction: New York 24, Tampa Bay 7

Baltimore at Philadelphia: Easily the worst performance last week was Michael Vick, throwing 4 interceptions and beating the Browns by 1 point. But that’s the beauty in NFL, if you suck, but win, it doesn’t matter! Although the problem is that Cleveland’s defense is second rate to Baltimore’s and Vick and the Eagles could be in for a long day. Baltimore came out of the gate scorching hot, completely destroying the Bengals in all facets of the game. And although Philly is better than Cincinnati, this game will only show by how much, because Baltimore won’t be taking a backseat, I don’t imagine.

Prediction: Baltimore 30, Philadelphia 21

New Orleans at Carolina: Both coming off surprising losses, the Saints head to North Carolina to take on the Panthers. The Saints got lit up by the Redskins and their rookie QB, Robert Griffin III. Carolina had a great chance to open the season with a division win, but couldn’t capitalise on their game in Tampa Bay and before they know it, they could be 0-2 in their own division. Last season’s encounter at Bank of America Stadium was rather enthralling contest and there was a blatant sign of Bountygate with Roman Harper’s late hit on Steve Smith, after he had scored a TD. The Panthers will definitely be looking for a lot of revenge, but I’m not confident they can stop Brees and his offense.

Prediction: New Orleans 28, Carolina 17

Houston at Jacksonville: Houston looked as good as I expected in week 1, against a poor Dolphins team. And now they take on a Jacksonville team who got over the Vikings in overtime. Even though both of these teams of 1-0, I don’t think Houston will have much competition to make it 2-0.

Prediction: Houston 30, Jacksonville 13

Washington at St. Louis: The ‘Skins shall be flying high after their impressive win over the Saints. RGIII was fantastic in his NFL debut, and their defense got 2 interceptions off Brees. The Rams couldn’t overcome the Lions offense in the dying seconds, but will be pleased with their CB duo, both getting interceptions off Stafford, with Finnegan’s going to the house. I think this could be a bit of a danger game for Washington, and this is my upset of the week.

Prediction: St. Louis 24, Washington 20

Dallas at Seattle: Dallas looked pretty impressive in the opener against the Giants and were able to take the win. Seattle went down to the wire with Arizona, but just couldn’t get the ball into the endzone when it counted. I think this could be a bit of a tough contest for both teams, and could be a tad low-scoring. In the end, I think Dallas will be able to take their record to 2-0.

Prediction: Dallas, 17, Seattle 14

New York at Pittsburgh: The Jets were the surprise of the week, for me. Without their first team offense scoring a single Touchdown in the preseason, they put up 48 points as a team against the hapless Bills. Pittsburgh weren’t able to get over the Peyton Manning-lead Broncos, but didn’t play horribly as a team. It’s only one game, so I’m not completely convinced about their offense, but Pittsburgh is a good test to see if they’re for real or not. Pittsburgh have a very good chance to get off the snide and I expect them to.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 28, New York 17

Tennessee at San Diego: The Titans were shown up by the Patriots and their offense looked anaemic. The Chargers played well, but got pretty lucky that the Raiders’ long snapper got injured and basically turned the match. However the Chargers’ defense was outstanding, against the run. Tennessee is buoyed by the return of Kenny Britt and Locker could play a lot better, despite his injury. This is another tough game to call, I think. But I’ll back the Chargers at home.

Prediction: San Diego 21, Tennessee 16

And then there were two…

Detroit at San Francisco: Even though the media love to focus on a handshake, this game could be the game of the week. The Lions only won by 4 points last week, but kept the Rams to under 200 yards of passing and under 75 yards rushing. The 49ers stopped the Packers at every turn and beat them convincingly. If the Lions can produce the same defensive performance and Matthew Stafford can cut down on the turnovers, they’ve got a very good chance in the game. But of course, the biggest factor is the 49ers defense, which is easily the best in the game and the most consistent. I think people are somewhat underrating the Lions, but the 49ers definitely deserve the favouritism from fans and media. I’ll be taking the 49ers on here, but not by much.

Prediction: San Francisco 24, Detroit 20

Denver at Atlanta: Two very good offenses face off in the Monday Night Football fixture. Peyton Manning returned in style being able to put up good numbers in a win over the Steelers, while the Falcons offense dominated the Chiefs and looked like the hype predicted. The defenses won’t be talked about a lot, but Denver’s played pretty well, getting a pick-6 and racking up quite a few sacks. And the Falcons did a good job, as well. I’m going to give the edge to Atlanta, because of the home field.

Prediction: Atlanta 34, Denver 27

Good luck with your teams and have a great week!

NFL Tips: Week 2 – Handshake Gate

Well, thank goodness proper Gridiron is back! Coupled with College Football, the weekends can’t get much better. And after a very enjoyable and infuriating (*coughrefscough*) spate of games, I’m back to do it all again for week 2. Which I’m going to title Handshake-Gate, even though it sounds as crap as the hype around the post-game festivities. Let’s get going, shall we.

Thursday Night Football

Chicago at Green Bay: Week 2 kicks off with a doozy between the Packers and Bears, the classic NFC North grudge match. In week 1 the Packers took the loss to the 49ers as Rodgers couldn’t overcome the 49ers’ defense, to lead the Pack to victory (boy what a great prediction that was). On the other side, Chicago welcomed Andrew Luck and the new-look Colts with quite the hiding. The Bears ran up 41 points on the Colts, with Brandon Marshall having quite the field day with 9 receptions for 119 yards and a score. The Packers defense looked frightfully poor against quite a tame 49ers’ offense, so this definitely has some worry signs and a score of 40+ for both teams isn’t out of reach, by any means. This really is a tough match-up to call, as Chicago have the more complete team, but the Packers have the supreme offense and the home field. I’ll give it to the Pack in a tight, high-scoring affair

Prediction: Green Bay 40, Chicago 38

Sunday & Monday games

Kansas City at Buffalo: With both teams coming off rather poor performances last week, where they both had a 40 burger put on them, the Chiefs and Bills will be looking to replicate their opponents performances from last week. Buffalo has lost Fred Jackson again for a few weeks, so the entertaining CJ Spiller will carry the bulk of the work in their backfield. Kansas City was upstaged by the very real and deadly Atlanta offense. Of course it helped that the Chiefs were without their best CB, Brandon Flowers, who is likely to return this week and shadow Stevie Johnson. With the results of last week in mind, this will either be the opposite of the Green Bay vs Chicago game, or the same. Both defenses were heavily talked up before the season got underway, and both didn’t show up. So they’ll either show up this week, or we’ll get a high-scoring game. This could be quite an under-the-radar game in the scheme of things, but there isn’t much to choose from the 1pm games. I think Kansas City has the better real offense, so that’s who I’m going with.

Prediction: Kansas City 28, Buffalo 17

Cleveland at Cincinnati: Another match-up of two teams who lost, and played quite poorly. Let’s just hope for both fanbases that their QB’s play a little better. Cleveland were a lot closer last week than Cincinnati, but that was with Joe Haden, who’s been suspended for 4 games for a banned substance. The Bengals showed no signs of their playoff form last week, or perhaps I’m underrating the Ravens, or both…Anyway, Cincinnati got torched on the scoreboard as well, and their offense wasn’t really clicking. But the Cleveland defense shouldn’t be anywhere near the problem that Baltimore’s was. Cincinnati should get a relatively easy win.

Prediction: Cincinnati 26, Cleveland 14

Minnesota at Indianapolis: Here’s an interesting point. If Minnesota win this game, they will be leading the NFC North. Early days of course, and the Jaguars nor Colts are some sort of significant win, but it’s still the truth. Anyhow, the Vikings got over the aforementioned Jags in overtime while the Colts got demolished by Chicago. The Colts poor season is expected, and to a point so it Minnesota’s, but if they can’t get past the Colts, then there’s some problems in Minny.

Prediction: Minnesota 31, Indianapolis 20

Oakland at Miami: If you were unfortunate enough to see the 2nd Monday Night Football game, you’d realise that back-up long snapper could be the most important position in Football. At least back-up QB’s actually know what the hell they’re doing and it’s their natural position. The Raiders, obviously, never planned on training a back-up long snapper. Miami don’t seen to have any natural players, or any with skill on their roster outside of Ryan “3 straight picks” Tannehill, who wasn’t terribly accurate against the Texans. Oakland’s defense CAN be good, as I mentioned last week in my crappy tipping exercise and they should be able to come together for the Dolphins, who could be in a race with Indianapolis for the #1 pick next year. And Jarvis Jones will be going to whoever gets it.

Prediction: Oakland 27, Miami 13

Arizona at New England: Arizona have won their last 7 games dating back to next year, but their fortunes against the Brady’s isn’t so fortunate. New England’s defense was stout last week, keeping the Titans to 20 rushing yards and making big plays with a fumble TD. They haven’t lost to Arizona since 1991, so it doesn’t seem like anything is going to change, even with Kevin Kolb under center. And the Patriots have lost one of their last 25 games at home. Very impressive and gives Arizona next to no shot.

Prediction: New England 45, Arizona 20

Tampa Bay at New York: The Giants Super Bowl defending campaign didn’t get off to the start they wanted, going down to their hated rival Cowboys to open the season. Although any knowledgeable Football fan knows the Giants only show up in the 2nd half of the season. Tampa Bay looked alright against the Panthers, though the Panthers looked quite poor. The Giants will need to win the easy games to keep pace in the East this season, and this is one of them.

Prediction: New York 24, Tampa Bay 7

Baltimore at Philadelphia: Easily the worst performance last week was Michael Vick, throwing 4 interceptions and beating the Browns by 1 point. But that’s the beauty in NFL, if you suck, but win, it doesn’t matter! Although the problem is that Cleveland’s defense is second rate to Baltimore’s and Vick and the Eagles could be in for a long day. Baltimore came out of the gate scorching hot, completely destroying the Bengals in all facets of the game. And although Philly is better than Cincinnati, this game will only show by how much, because Baltimore won’t be taking a backseat, I don’t imagine.

Prediction: Baltimore 30, Philadelphia 21

New Orleans at Carolina: Both coming off surprising losses, the Saints head to North Carolina to take on the Panthers. The Saints got lit up by the Redskins and their rookie QB, Robert Griffin III. Carolina had a great chance to open the season with a division win, but couldn’t capitalise on their game in Tampa Bay and before they know it, they could be 0-2 in their own division. Last season’s encounter at Bank of America Stadium was rather enthralling contest and there was a blatant sign of Bountygate with Roman Harper’s late hit on Steve Smith, after he had scored a TD. The Panthers will definitely be looking for a lot of revenge, but I’m not confident they can stop Brees and his offense.

Prediction: New Orleans 28, Carolina 17

Houston at Jacksonville: Houston looked as good as I expected in week 1, against a poor Dolphins team. And now they take on a Jacksonville team who got over the Vikings in overtime. Even though both of these teams of 1-0, I don’t think Houston will have much competition to make it 2-0.

Prediction: Houston 30, Jacksonville 13

Washington at St. Louis: The ‘Skins shall be flying high after their impressive win over the Saints. RGIII was fantastic in his NFL debut, and their defense got 2 interceptions off Brees. The Rams couldn’t overcome the Lions offense in the dying seconds, but will be pleased with their CB duo, both getting interceptions off Stafford, with Finnegan’s going to the house. I think this could be a bit of a danger game for Washington, and this is my upset of the week.

Prediction: St. Louis 24, Washington 20

Dallas at Seattle: Dallas looked pretty impressive in the opener against the Giants and were able to take the win. Seattle went down to the wire with Arizona, but just couldn’t get the ball into the endzone when it counted. I think this could be a bit of a tough contest for both teams, and could be a tad low-scoring. In the end, I think Dallas will be able to take their record to 2-0.

Prediction: Dallas, 17, Seattle 14

New York at Pittsburgh: The Jets were the surprise of the week, for me. Without their first team offense scoring a single Touchdown in the preseason, they put up 48 points as a team against the hapless Bills. Pittsburgh weren’t able to get over the Peyton Manning-lead Broncos, but didn’t play horribly as a team. It’s only one game, so I’m not completely convinced about their offense, but Pittsburgh is a good test to see if they’re for real or not. Pittsburgh have a very good chance to get off the snide and I expect them to.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 28, New York 17

Tennessee at San Diego: The Titans were shown up by the Patriots and their offense looked anaemic. The Chargers played well, but got pretty lucky that the Raiders’ long snapper got injured and basically turned the match. However the Chargers’ defense was outstanding, against the run. Tennessee is buoyed by the return of Kenny Britt and Locker could play a lot better, despite his injury. This is another tough game to call, I think. But I’ll back the Chargers at home.

Prediction: San Diego 21, Tennessee 16

And then there were two…

Detroit at San Francisco: Even though the media love to focus on a handshake, this game could be the game of the week. The Lions only won by 4 points last week, but kept the Rams to under 200 yards of passing and under 75 yards rushing. The 49ers stopped the Packers at every turn and beat them convincingly. If the Lions can produce the same defensive performance and Matthew Stafford can cut down on the turnovers, they’ve got a very good chance in the game. But of course, the biggest factor is the 49ers defense, which is easily the best in the game and the most consistent. I think people are somewhat underrating the Lions, but the 49ers definitely deserve the favouritism from fans and media. I’ll be taking the 49ers on here, but not by much.

Prediction: San Francisco 24, Detroit 20

Denver at Atlanta: Two very good offenses face off in the Monday Night Football fixture. Peyton Manning returned in style being able to put up good numbers in a win over the Steelers, while the Falcons offense dominated the Chiefs and looked like the hype predicted. The defenses won’t be talked about a lot, but Denver’s played pretty well, getting a pick-6 and racking up quite a few sacks. And the Falcons did a good job, as well. I’m going to give the edge to Atlanta, because of the home field.

Prediction: Atlanta 34, Denver 27

Good luck with your teams and have a great week!