The New England Patriots, after thumping the Houston Texans 27-0, were themselves the victims of being shut out by the Rex Ryan led Buffalo Bills 16-0. As the score indicates, it was an ugly, uneven game in which the Bills dominated for almost its entirety. There were flashes of hope here and there but almost all were negated by a penalty or a miscue that saw the Patriots shut out at home for the first time ever within the confines of Gillette Stadium the first home shutout loss suffered by the Patriots since 1993 (!).
Well, first things first, the Patriots are now 2-0 after beating the Miami Dolphins at home 31-24. Now, for the second thing;
The victory ended up coming at a potentially steep price as the Patriots backup-become-starter Jimmy Garopollo ended up leaving the game in the second quarter after a stellar first half which had most of New England getting ready to call a doctor after four hours. In an emotional roller coaster that would’ve had the most stalwart of thrill seekers turning green, Garopollo was taken down by Dolphins LB Kiko Alonso and landed hard on his throwing shoulder. Clearly shaken up, Garopollo struggled to get off the field but ended up going down onto one knee as trainers examined him on the field and Patriots fans everywhere opted out of their next beer for something a bit stronger.
In a week filled with more one point games than any other in NFL history the New England Patriots, sans Brady, sans Gronk, sans Ninkovich, sans Solder, sans Dion Lewis, and sans Vollmer went into the desert on Sunday Night Football and defeated the Arizona Cardinals. In a game most had tacitly accepted as an ‘L’ for the 2016 Patriots, the squad from New England was able to buckle down and hold on to a 23-21 victory thanks to a missed FG by Chandler Catanzaro in the waning seconds of the 4th quarter.
The time is almost upon us. That long, dark period from the first Sunday of February until September 8th is almost over and the sport America loves most is due to make its triumphant return. Obviously, the NFL has not been far from the minds of sports fans across the country but probably hasn’t haunted any one fan base as much as the Foxboro faithful. With Tom Brady’s suspension appeal denied and the GOAT forced to sit out the first four weeks of the season the Patriots are basically giving the AFC a 4 game handicap. Whatever. I’m not expecting any sympathy from the rest of the league towards a team that has been on an unprecedented run of success in the modern era. It’s going to make it that much sweeter when the Patriots hoist their 5th(!!!!!) Lombardi trophy right in that autocratic, soulless, NFLPA crushing robot named Roger Goodell’s face. The real question is how will they get there?
On the heels of Antwaan Randel El, yet another former pro coming forward disclosing health issues and regretting his playing days for the shield, it is becoming more and more evident that the NFL has to change. The way it is currently constructed, with Roger Goddell at its head, simply cannot stand the onslaught of public relations hits that they are taking. Granted, the NFL has proven seemingly invincible to the slew of revelations, realizations, testimonies, and events all of which have pointed to football being not only dangerous but calling into question the NFL’s handling of player health and care.
It goes much deeper than that though. Somewhere along the way the NFL went from a budding, beloved, and celebrated league representing, perhaps, the finest sport humanity has created and has become a shadow organization. A place where facts are hidden or distorted to control the message. Where responsibility is shirked with a check and an avalanche of non-disclosure agreements. Where families are told what to say and when to say it even when they are memorializing their own husband and father. Somewhere along the way, the NFL became evil.
After a nearly 24 year hiatus the Rams are back in LA. Beating out the Chargers and Raiders who also applied to relocate to the City of Angels the Rams are leaving the Cardinal red confines of St. Louis and returning to the California sun where the franchise originated in 1946. With an aging stadium and lackluster fan base I’m not shocked that the Rams were the team the NFL chose to move back to their original home. There is a history there that eager fans can tap into and LA has been a market black hole in the NFL’s empire since the twin departures of the Raiders and Rams after the ’94 season.
Even more exciting than football returning to that sprawling, dirty epicenter of the shallow and superficial though is which celebrity will become the head honk of the new LA Rams? Its a tremendous opportunity and in a town where being seen is paramount I don’t think there will be any shortage of candidates who run out (read: dispatch a personal servant/minion/assistant) to grab some blue and gold merch and pretend to know what college Todd Gurley attended to get those coveted invites to the sideline and have those ESPN producers come a knockin if Jeff Fisher manages to win more than 8 games and get into the playoffs. So, without further ado, lets handicap the top 5 candidates to be the new LA Rams pep rally leader.
The first slate of games in the NFL’s 2015 postseason could not have been more opposite if they tried. On the one hand you had the massacre of the Houston Texans (and Brian Hoyer’s career as a starting QB) at the hands of the Chiefs and, on the other, the gutter war that was the Cincinnati and Pittsburgh contest. If you watched any of the game last night or watch any sports coverage this morning you know what a circus that was.
Now, despite the fact that I called both outcomes, the results of both games and the way they went down have me questioning my outlook. I’ll stick to my guns though and hope that the injuries the Steelers suffered in their game are not as serious as they appear and that they can still challenge, and beat, Denver with Noodle-Arm McGee back starting. Before we get to the Steelers and yesterday’s game that everyone will be talking about let’s go over JJ Watt’s season ending first.
Hope everyone has their anti-government mind control sugar pills handy because we are about to take a trip to conspiracy town on a subject that has impacted the United States from sea to shining sea. More specifically, from football fields in Foxboro to Seattle. Ladies and gentlemen of course you know of what I speak of; the viral end zone dance.
Now, I know what you are thinking. There are so many big issues in the world today, do we really need to talk about a conspiracy dealing with end zone dance celebrations? YES. Because Football is awesome and consumes nearly 6 months worth of Mondays, MACtion Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays while generating billions of dollars in ticket sales, merchandise, and cable packages. Hell, its shaping actual laws a la daily fantasy sports which, let’s face it, is pretty much driven by football because scoring is awesome and no one wants to count on an assist from a 4th line center to win money (oooo shots fired NHL! SHOTS FIRED). So sit back, strap on that tinfoil helmet and get ready to take a trip down the dabbing nae nae running off the plug rabbit hole.
As we all know the real football season starts in January and is set to begin. In a surprise to no one the New England Patriots find themselves in the postseason for the 7th season in a row and enter the 2015 playoffs as defending Super Bowl champions and owners of the AFC’s #2 seed. However, not all is picture perfect in Patriot-land. The Patriots have been riddle with key injuries, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, and played uncommonly bad in the final month of the season losing 4 of their last 6 games and squandering the opportunity to lock up the #1 seed which has gone to the Denver Broncos instead.
Despite all of this though, I’m still confident that the Patriots will make it to Levi’s Stadium with a chance to defend their title and earn one for the thumb. While losing the #1 seed definitely hurts (I do not want to see the Patriots in Denver again. Once was good enough for me this season) fate is going to have the road to San Francisco not go a mile high but, instead, travel down Route 1. Allow me to explain how and why you should still feel confident in Bill and TFB as we break down the AFC Playoff picture.