Category Archives: NFL

Who Should the Patriots Keep? Part II

Our article series continues with who the New England Patriots should keep and let go for next season.

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Alan Branch – Branch has become an important piece in the Patriots front four during his time in New England. To me, his ability to rush and take on double teams is essential and I don’t think there’s another DT on the team who can do it. Hopefully he isn’t offered a lot of money elsewhere, but as a veteran tackle at a role player position I highly doubt it. Belichick likes him enough to pay him fairly. Stays.

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Chris Long – Chris Long was fun to have this season, providing depth with an adequate pass rush attack. Still, Long isn’t important or memorable enough to keep, especially with a budding Trey Flowers waiting to take on the pass-rush role full-time. If I were New England, I’d thank Long for his time and work and kindly show him the door. Leaves.

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Logan Ryan – Like him or hate him, Logan Ryan proved himself as a solid #2 cornerback in the NFL this season. He’s come a long way, but he finally has an opportunity to make some serious dough in the NFL. If I were him I’d look for the money, so I can’t blame him for leaving, but I really hope he stays. I believe the Patriots also think of Ryan as important for the defense, but it’s likely based on free agency climate that this Super Bowl Champion #2 corner gets offered a large amount of money. Leaves.

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James Develin – A literal cornerstone for the Patriots. In a league that has completely dismissed the Fullback position, Bill Belichick has found a way to make the position crucial for his offense to function. Now, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, because we DO function without him, but notice how much smoother things flow with Develin healthy. There’s literally no way he plays on another team next year. He’s too valuable and the position is so underutilized that signing Develin to a luxurious fullback deal is still a steal. Stays.

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Jabaal Sheard – See: Chris Long. Sheard didn’t step up to the plate this season like expected, as he was given a chance to take over the D-line and instead was used situationally. With a young stud on one side of the line and Rob Ninkovich on the other, I doubt Sheard is spoken to by New England for negotiations. Leaves.

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Michael Floyd – It’s a no-brainer for Floyd to stay on the Patriots, but honestly, I’m not even sure we will want him. Floyd was inactive in the playoffs, which proves he was really only brought in for depth during the playoffs. This doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t return with a bigger role after learning the basics of the system and playing with Tom Brady. His value must be low after his DUI, so this one is a true toss-up if you ask me. Leaves.

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Duron Harmon – This guy is the true underrated player of the Patriots. Harmon’s always making big plays in big moments, and he’s always the next man up when we use three safeties. He’s great in coverage, and could easily be a starter somewhere and begin to make a name for himself. I really hope he stays, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a team that needs safety depth gives him money. Leaves.

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Breaking Down Patriots Free Agents

Now that the Super Bowl has been decided, it’s time for free agency. The time of the year where every team is looking to build up their rosters, and the current Super Bowl winner is just looking to hold onto what they have.

As for the Patriots this year, it’s a big free agency year. The Patriots traded away Chandler Jones and Jaime Collins, two players that are sure to reel in a lot of cash. Although the Patriots have around 60 million dollars of cap room, it’s going to be tough to re-sign everyone they would like to keep. Let’s look at some players and my predictions.

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Malcolm Butler – Malcolm Butler is a restricted free agent, which means that the Patriots can counter any offer that is made for him. In these situations, restricted free agents are likely to stay with the team. I doubt this one goes any different. Mac loves New England, and New England loves him. Belichick has proven that he can succeed without a top-dollar cornerback, but I don’t see this being a factor here. Malcolm will be playing in New England next year. Stays.

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Martellus Bennett – Martellus Bennett, in his one year with the Patriots, helped bring back the dual TE threat, became a more important player when Gronkowski went down for the season, and has embraced the Patriot way like few other first-year players have. I have little doubt Bennett loves the Patriots, and I have little doubt that the Patriots would love to have him back. Sadly, things aren’t this simple. Put plainly, Martellus is going to get offered a fat wad of cash, and this is likely his last big paycheck in the NFL. He’s already stated that there’s more to his life than just football, as he has a budding children’s book company. Expect a team with a lot of money and few weapons to shell out until they reel him in. Gone.

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LeGarrette Blount – The scenario here is the same as Martellus Bennett’s. This dude loves the Patriots, and the Patriots love him. He was crucial to the success of the Super Bowl season, and there’s little doubt in my mind that another team is going to offer him a lot of money. Still, I see this one going the other way. Blount knows what it’s like leaving the Patriots, I doubt he wants to play in another jersey for the rest of his career. Stays.

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Dont’a Hightower – If there’s a world where the Patriots absolutely nose dive next season and become the laughing stock of the league, Donta Hightower is still playing linebacker for the Patriots. That’s how crucial he is to this team’s success. There’s no way he isn’t on the roster next season. Belichick will pay this man, he values linebackers highly. Stays.

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Sebastian Vollmer – This one’s a no brainer. The starting tackle lost his spot while injured all season to the emergence of Marcus Cannon, who was re-signed during the season. There’s not a lot of purpose in re-signing this veteran while the Tackle position is one that needs no improvement for the Patriots. Gone.

Stay tuned next week for Part II!

The Juice on Jimmy

After a sweet Super Bowl victory against the Atlanta Falcons, the dust is beginning to settle for the cast of Super Bowl 51 Champion New England Patriots.

On the roster there’s a lot of questions and a lot of people to retain. Defensive studs like Donta Hightower, Jabaal Sheard, and Malcolm Butler are all free agents. Safety-blanket tight end Martellus Bennett is likely gone via the highest bidder as well. Yet, the most talked about story lies within the fate of New England’s backup quarterback Jimmy Garapollo.

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Garapollo started 2 games at the beginning of the season during Tom Brady’s suspension; narrowly escaping with a win against the always-dangerous Arizona Cardinals to start the season and later smoked out the Miami Dolphins before getting injured for the remainder of Brady’s suspension. Jimmy G looked like an absolute stud on the field even though every fan had their doubts before his first start. It became clear Jimmy was the future QB of the Patriots if and when Brady decides to retire.

But then the Patriots announced they were shopping him around. In fact, they’re looking for a first round draft pick for the young quarterback. There’s a lot of opinions here as to what the Patriots actually should do, and every option has a case as to why it’d be good and why it would be a bad decision. Let’s begin.

First, let’s look at if Garapollo was to actually be traded. I’m working with the assumption New England gets a first round pick like they have vocalized, but it’s just as likely they could receive a package of lesser-round picks instead and be just as happy.

Jimmy’s Likely Trade Destinations:

Cleveland Browns – Let’s be real, Cleveland owes us one. Trading away star linebacker Jaime Collins for a mere third round pick was a steal. They should be willing to be a little thankful if a trade is pursued. Cleveland has two first round picks in this years draft, including the first overall and the number 12 pick. It’ll be hard to part with the first, so the 12th overall pick for Jimmy Garapollo seems to be the kind of reward the Patriots would love to walk away with. It’s kind of a win-win-win scenario, right? The Patriots get another first round pick, the Browns KEEP their first overall pick AND get a very young and NFL proven quarterback in a very QB-weak draft.

Lastly, Garapollo gets to be the starter on a team with a lot of young talent and a locker room with energy that could lead to the next Oakland Raiders situation (quote me on that – playoff team soon!). As Michael Scott once said, everyone loves a win-win-win.

San Fransisco 49ers – I truthfully don’t believe this trade will actually happen. Coach Kyle Shanahan is looking for some sort of rebound after a devastating Super Bowl loss, so maybe he will call the people that just embarrassed him and try to snag their backup QB? For this to work, the 49ers will have to part with their 2nd overall draft pick, which just seems absurd. A Top 5 pick is precious, it’ll be tough to sell this trade in the 49ers office. For the Patriots, a 2nd overall pick would be fantastic, but it just doesn’t seem realistic.

Lastly, this is the worst option for ol’ Jimmy G. The 49ers offense has nothing. Zip. Nada. Instead, look for Clemson QB Deshaun Watson to get drafted here, even if I think they should go with a less-attractive pick like defensive lineman Jonathan Allen.

Chicago Bears – The Chicago option is very interesting. Because I don’t personally believe a team with a top-5 first round pick is actually willing to part with said pick, I doubt this will happen (see above). The Patriots could receive a package of later round picks, and I think the Bears would probably pull the trigger on that seeing as they are notorious for not having a franchise quarterback.

Personally, Jimmy to the Chicago Bears is my favorite option of the three because it is likely the best option for Jimmy Garapollo to succeed. The Bears have a top wideout with Alshon Jeffrey (if they retain him), a breakout running-back in Jordan Howard, and a surprisingly stellar offensive line. They could easily spread the field and be able to attack with an already solid running game and an actual threat as a passer. It’s an exciting option to fantasize about.

If the Patriots stick to needing a first-round pick option, then knock it off the table. The Bears simply can’t give up the #3 overall pick for a QB who’s only played a handful of games.

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Jimmy Garapollo Stays With the Patriots

It’s possible the Patriots don’t receive the trade offer they’re looking for and instead hold Jimmy for the final year of his contract. This option is attractive for Jimmy because he gets to stay on a winning franchise and learn from the greats, and it’s attractive for the Patriots because they get to keep a starting-caliber quarterback as a backup option. In case Brady goes down or somehow declines (although he seems to get better with age like a fine wine), they have Jimmy G waiting to take over the game.

Once the season is over, they need to figure out if they want to let him walk, franchise tag him, or sign him. Weighing those three options seems like something to discuss in another article a year from now if they pursue this course.

The dominoes will begin to fall very soon for every team in the NFL. This deal is likely one of the bigger roster moves of the offseason, so the final decision is impactful on where every other free agent and trade ends up. Perhaps next Tuesday we will have an answer.

The Choke’s on You, Atlanta

Super Bowl LI was one for the record books, thanks to the greatest comeback in NFL history. Or was it the biggest choke job the World has ever seen? After trailing 28-3 in the third quarter, Tom Brady led the Patriots down the field time and time again, ultimately leading them to a 34-28 overtime victory. Brady easily solidified himself as the greatest quarterback to ever walk the planet, but was it solely because of his performance or are the Falcons to blame as well?

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Brady played out of his mind, throwing for a Super Bowl record 466 yards and two touchdowns. Accompanying Brady in the backfield was Patriots running back, James White, who caught 14 balls tallying 110 yards and 3 total touchdowns.

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On the other side of the ball, Dont’a Hightower made one of the biggest plays of the night, as he strip sacked Matt Ryan, leading to a 25 yard touchdown drive. When it came to crunch time each and every player on the Patriots roster made the plays they were supposed to make. The same could not be said for the Falcons.

With a 28-12 lead in the third quarter, the Falcons essentially had the game in the bag. With the game in hand the Falcons continued to drop back and pass, ignoring the fact that they had been averaging 6.8 yards per carry. With 9 minutes left in the third, the Falcons faced a 3rd and 1 from their own 36 yard line. Idiotically the Falcons decided to pass, leading to the Dont’a Hightower strip sack. This moment seemed to change the whole momentum of the game. Brady then drove down the field and capitalized on the opportunity, pulling the game to just one possession.

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The dumb play calls did not stop there. On the ensuing drive, Julio Jones made a circus catch to bring the Falcons within field goal range at the New England 22 yard line with about 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter. A field goal would have essentially sealed the deal. The Pats stopped Atlanta on first down, tackling Devonta Freeman behind the line of scrimmage. This led to a 2nd and 11 situation. Again the Falcons decided to pass the ball and as Ryan stepped back to pass, Trey Flowers bodied his way through the line to sack the quarterback for a 12 yard loss, pushing the Falcons back to the 35 yard line and almost out of field goal range. Freeman had been averaging 6.8 yards per carry and a run during that situation would have made the most sense. The Falcons then faced a 3rd and 23 in a clear passing down and again the Falcons choked, committing a holding penalty that pushed the Falcons back even further. The Falcons were then forced to punt the ball away and the rest was history.

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The New England Patriots were outmatched and outplayed for the first three quarters but when it came down to it, their experience and championship pedigree propelled them to become Super Bowl Champions once more. The Patriots performed when it meant the most but the Falcons crumbled under the bright lights. There is no doubt that the Patriots deserved this victory but it is evident that the Atlanta Falcons let this game slip through their hands.

Top 4 League All-Star Weekends

Ah, the All-Star games. While nobody is ever lining up outside a bar to get in and watch the All-Star game, it provides for a somewhat entertaining event. The constant battle between fans wanting athletes to take it seriously while also wanting six Hail Mary touchdowns in one quarter makes for an impossible scenario in which to enjoy the game.

One of the issues with these games is the leagues’ inability to pin down exactly what fans want to see. It seems like every year, they switch up the formula to try and get people to pay attention, just to confuse casual fans with a bunch of nonsense.

Some leagues do it better than others, but all four need some work. Here’s the big four U.S. sports leagues’ All-Star Weekend festivities, based on entertainment value:

  1. NFL Pro Bowl

The NFL Pro Bowl has never been known for holding anyone on the edge of their seat. For years, fans have complained that there is no defense, no competitive spirit and no effort. On top of that, many of the NFL’s actual pro-bowlers end up rejecting the offer to play in the game. Back in 2013, the league tried to spice things up by allowing former NFL stars to draft their own teams. This continued for several seasons, but in 2016 they reverted back to the traditional AFC v. NFC format. This year, the teams actually played some defense, and it still wasn’t that interesting. The AFC won 20-13, with Travis Kelce winning the MVP.

For the first time, however, the Pro Bowl wasn’t the only event of the weekend. This season, the NFL added on a Pro Bowl Skills Challenge. While it didn’t offer quite the same excitement that the NBA Slam Dunk Contest or Three Point Contest provide, the NFL may have something worth keeping around a few more years to see if it catches on. Any time you can get grown men to compete against each other catching footballs from a drone, it might be worth another look.

It seems odd that the most popular sports league in America has one of the least interesting “All-Star” events, but with the popularity of the NFL, the ceiling is very high if they can find something to latch on to.

  1. NHL All-Star Weekend

The NHL All-Star Weekend is probably the weirdest out of all four major sports. Instead of one game, the NHL plays three 20-minute games in a 3-on-3 elimination tournament, with a semi-final and final round occurring after elimination play. In addition to this, the NHL has a skills challenge similar to the NBA.

After John Scott in 2016, the NHL was fighting an uphill battle if they were trying to increase popularity with their All-Star Game. The bizarre concept that an unknown enforcer from the Phoenix Coyotes could get voted in, win the MVP and actually play well baffled minds everywhere, and made a lot of headlines in the process.

This year, there were several interesting storylines. A few days before the weekend was set to get underway, Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella told the Colombus Dispatch that he had a family matter to attend to and would not be able to coach the Metropolitan Division. In his place, Wayne Gretzky stepped in. Gretzky’s last official coaching experience came from 2005-09, when he was head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes for four seasons.

However, the real talent here was Ilya Bryzgalov. For those unfamiliar with him, he’s the one who brought us this gem:

Also, the dude has some deep thoughts on everything from the universe to Russian booze, as we see in this clip from Episode 1 of HBO’s 24/7 Flyers v. Rangers from the 2012 NHL Winter Classic:

This year, they let him be a guest reporter for All-Star weekend, and the results were exactly what you might expect:

And of course, he asks the universally unknown question: is a hot dog a sandwich?

  1. MLB All-Star Weekend

The MLB is the only league to put a real stake in their All-Star game, and they usually end up being pretty damn interesting. In recent years, the retirements of Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and David Ortiz have given the All-Star Game more attention, and the Home Run Derby almost always delivers on our expectations.

The Home Run Derby has given us plenty of action the past few years, with Yoenis Cespedes going back-to-back in 2013 and 2014, and Todd Frazier and Giancarlo Stanton followed up the following years.

The MLB also has the advantage of holding their All-Star festivities in July, the worst month for sports. Because of this, it’s one of the only interesting things going on all month, and it looks a lot better.

  1. NBA All-Star Weekend

The NBA does a great job promoting All-Star Weekend, and despite the lack of stars in the Slam Dunk Contest, it almost always ends up being a great show. Plus, there was that time last year that Kevin Hart accidentally beat Draymond Green in a 3-point contest.

Hopefully we get the same great theater this year. The league has been using #NBAVote to allow fans to have a say this year, but now players also can chime in. Some players have been campaigning with fans in order to secure a nomination, while others don’t seem to care as much.

The Three-Point Shootout will be interesting this year as well- Steph Curry won in 2015, while teammate Klay Thompson took the crown the following year. Who knows, maybe KD will take it now? NBA All-Star Weekend is only a couple weeks away, and while nobody is really out here getting pumped up for an All-Star game, let’s just hope it will at least be.. mildly entertaining.

What you might have missed?

The past weekend has been crazy. Rumors are swirling in the NBA, Super Bowl Media week started, two tennis legends are back on the mountain top, and the NHL and NFL all star game ensued.

NBA

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Rumors continue to swirl about Carmelo Anthony, but just how true are they? Well…unfortunately, for Anthony, it looked like his stock is way down and the Knicks are looking to get rid of him for next to nothing for the caliber of player he is. The Clippers, Celtics, and Cavaliers have been linked as potential suitors for Melo. The Celtics have come out and said they weren’t interested, but they might be interested in being the third team  in a deal to help the Knicks and Clippers complete a trade. The stumbling Cavs are likely out as well as the combination of Lebron, Kyrie, and Melo would probably sour in Cleveland very quickly.

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The rumor mill is also firing up with Jimmy Butler’s name in the center of it. Rajon Rondo’s comments about the Bulls on his Instagram page didn’t go unnoticed. Tempers are flaring and what was thought to be a contender in the East, has fallen a long way off. NBA analysts have talked about the Bulls calling the Celtics in regards to a trade between the two teams involving Butler.

NHL

2017 Honda NHL All-Star Tournament Final - Pacific vs. Metropolitan : News Photo

The NHL All star skills competition and game took place this weekend in Los Angeles. The Atlantic came out on top in the skills competition with 9 points, but the highlight of the night was when Ryan Kesler’s son took part in the final shootout competition. Kesler’s son took the puck down the ice and dangled Montreal goalie Carey Price and slid the puck 5-hole, then followed it with an even better celebration.

The All Star game took place Sunday afternoon in the new 3v3 format. The Metropolitan division took the crown with a 10-6 victory against the Atlantic, with Wayne Simmonds getting the MVP award.

Tennis

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Roger Federer and Serena Williams made history this weekend in Australia taking home the men’s and women’s title in the Austalian open, the first major championship of the year.

Roger won his 5th Aussie open title and 18th major championship overall, the most in the open era. Federer took on his longtime rival Rafael Nadal and took him down in an epic 5 set match.

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Serena Williams cruised through the competition winning her 7th Aussie Open title and her 23rd major championship overall, a record in the open era. Williams took on her sister Venus for the first time in a final since 2009. Serena coasted to a 6-4, 6-4 victory.

NFL

Pro Bowl : News Photo

The NFL held their first skills competition since the mid 2000’s and it was an extreme waste of time. If you didn’t watch it, you did not miss out. The Pro Bowl however was a much more entertaining game with the AFC edging out a victory 20-13. It was a rare defensive battle where there was multiple turnovers and somewhat entertaining football, something we have not seen a lot from in past Pro Bowls.

NFL: JAN 30 Super Bowl Opening Night - Patriots : News Photo

On top of the Pro Bowl, the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots made their way to Houston. Media week is under way and the rest of our NFL coverage including predictions will be posted later this week so be on the look out!

Another One

The New England Patriots will be entering their 9th Super Bowl. The opponent is the often-overlooked and underrated Atlanta Falcons. ATL Quarterback Matt Ryan may be the favorite for the league’s MVP award, but when it comes to winning, nobody is better than Brady.

Both Super Bowl-bound teams put on a display in their respective Conference Championship Games. The Falcons destroyed the Green Bay Packers by a score of 21 to 44 that was really a far greater blowout than the score would lead you to believe and the Patriots had the Steelers beaten from the get-go with a final score of 36-17.

Seriously, both teams were dominant in every aspect of their game. These victories are certainly huge confidence-boosters for both teams, especially going into the biggest game of the year.

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For Tom Brady and the Patriots it’s hard to ignore the storyline. They may never address it, but everyone knows what this game means for the Patriots. Its the redemption of Tom Brady, it’s his one moment to silent the critics for good. “Deflategate” would be erased, it’d be eliminated for good.

As many New Englanders know, opposing fanbases still wave around “Spygate” wisecracks every now and again. Tom Brady was hung out to dry, turned on, and labeled a villain by the NFL. He’s had to endure media and nation-wide criticism and hate since, and February 5th is his chance to erase the detrimental “Deflategate” demons forever. It will no longer be a headline, but a mere footnote. Make no mistake, Tom knows this is the case.

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I’m not saying that the storyline is greater than that of Super Bowl 49. Both that Patriots roster and that Seahawks roster will be remembered as historic, I’m not sure about the Falcons. This could be the start of a great team for years, but it’s far more likely the NFC South continues to cycle through their top teams as they have the past 15 years. But for the Patriots, this game is everything. It’s a defining moment. It’s the period at the end of a statement that has been 16 years and 4 Super Bowl victories.

It’s the punch to remind you how legendary this dynasty has been. This Super Bowl puts the Belichick-Brady era over any other in the NFL, if that wasn’t already the case.