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Please, Have Some Respect

As an avid NFL fan and as a woman, I have done my best to sit back and really soak in all of the facts before rushing to judgment or voicing my opinions on what has been a nightmare of a week for the League. I have watched and listened as the public, the media and the NFL leaders each added their two cents on domestic violence and child abuse, topics that, sadly, sit like a pink elephant squarely on the fifty-yard line in week three of the NFL season.

I have nodded along with Hannah Storm and shook my head at NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. I have watched as teams like the Minnesota Vikings make moves to punish the man whose idea of punishment is to lash a four-year-old child with a stick until he is bloodied and bruised. And then reverse the punishment for the man just 24 hours later.

In all my hours of observation, here is what I’ve learned:

The NFL is like Wall Street. It chooses to look past the crimes of its employees, whenever possible and convenient, as long as its stock continues to rise and it brings in ridiculous amounts of money for the wolves in the front office.  It has no problem stepping on the little guys, in this case women and children, to ensure an eight-figure salary and a million-dollar yacht. The NFL encourages its players to be violent on Sundays and do their very best not to be violent from Monday to Saturday. But it says, “If you slip up, just make damn sure we can’t see evidence of if because in that case we might have to sit you down, which could mean we both lose a dollar or two. And neither of us want that, now do we?”

And similar to the corruption that has engulfed Wall Street a time or two, when the NFL has no choice but to fess up to the mess, it will blame individuals and hire “independent” investigators. I have no doubt that the NFL saw that video of Ray Rice beating his now-wife unconscious months ago. But Ray Rice sells tickets in Baltimore. And no one else will ever see the footage, right? So they did what’s right for the NFL and slapped Rice on the wrist about 1000x softer than he hit his wife. Two-game suspension. Case closed. 

Oh crap.

Video leaked. Public and media outrage. Knee jerk reaction from the NFL – let’s lie and say we just got the tape and suspend Rice indefinitely. That should do it.

Oh crap.

Caught in a lie again. The AP is saying that the we got the video months ago. Let’s call for an “independent” investigation to be monitored by two of the aforementioned wolves, NFL team owners John Mara and Art Rooney. 

This is all a masterful game of deflection in which the NFL attempts to maintain its reputation as the keeper of all that is good and right in the football world, while dodging the real issue. One of its valued employees knocked out his fiance in a fit of rage and the League saw it all on tape. Is this about protecting the NFL’s image or is is about protecting that wolves and the wads of hundreds in their back pockets? You tell me. 

Now this isn’t to say that I am letting the men who committed the crimes that led to this nightmare off the hook. Quite the contrary.

The other thing I learned this week — The players don’t get it.

Playing professional football is a privilege. One in which you get to forgo a “real job” in favor of playing a game and in turn making lucrative amounts of money. Yes, I am aware that it takes a ton of talent, athleticism and hard work to play football at the highest level. But a “football player” isn’t a vital component in the function of healthy society. This isn’t something people have to do, it is something you get to do. It is a privilege. Football is a form of entertainment. It allows the doctors, lawyers, farmers and blue collar men and women that make America tick a form of entertainment and escapism from the grind of daily life.

As an NFL player, your job is to entertain. The least you could do is act as if you respect the fans that buy the tickets that subsidize your paycheck. Do you think that if you worked for any other employer, they’d allow you to face an indictment for beating your wife or child and then return to work on Monday? Do you think any other company in this country would allow a man who puts his hands on women and children to represent its brand without any retribution? Think again.

Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy — wake up and look at the opportunities you have been afforded by your athletic ability, by your hard work and by luck. When you put on that NFL jersey, you represent something bigger than yourself, on and off the field. You represent an American pastime and a Sunday ritual. You are heroes to thousands of  kids that yearn for the day that they might have the chance to play varsity, or college or maybe, just maybe play NFL football. You are a part of the fabric that makes up the American sports culture, a culture that thousands of men and women have died to protect. Have some pride. You can do much better. 

Life is about choices. Choose to be better men. Choose to protect your families with love. Choose to be more like Devon Still. Now that’s a guy I can get behind.

There Is Nothing ‘Embarrassing’ About It

According to “what’s trending” on Yahoo! right now, I’m not alone in having spent the majority of my morning reliving last night’s Super Bowl. I’ve listened to sports talk radio hosts dissect the first botched play of the game. I’ve read all the blogs about the MVP debate. I’ve watched 75 minutes of SportsCenter replaying the downs that I saw live less than 18 hours ago. Now, as I sit back and reflect on these last few hours of ingesting all things Denver/Seattle, I find that there is one word that I just can’t shake.

Embarrassing.

When a reporter asked Denver QB Peyton Manning last night if the 43-8 routing of his Denver Broncos by the Seahawks was “embarrassing,” he responded:

“It’s not embarrassing at all. I would never use that word. There’s a lot of professional football players in that room, that locker room, who put a lot of hard work and effort into being here and into playing in that game. The word embarrassing is an insulting word, to tell you the truth.”

I couldn’t agree more.

What could possibly be embarrassing about finishing second in a league of the best football players in the world? What could be embarrassing about having an off night when your name is on the short list of greatest quarterbacks of all time? What is embarrassing about preparing as hard as anyone on that field for the biggest game of the year, and coming up short?

Peyton Manning and the Broncos have nothing to be embarrassed about.

Now this topic of ‘embarrassment’ in sport sits very close to home with me at this moment in my life. For the past three plus years, I have had the privilege of working amongst some of the greatest skiers and snowboarders in the world. Now, as many of them head off to the Super Bowl of winter sports – the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia – I think about the headlines that are sure to follow not far behind.

For years, I have watched as these athletes endured a full-time training and competition regimen that often takes them away from family, friends and home for months on end. I have seen the sacrifice that they have made in the way of relationships, finances, education, knees, backs, heads and collarbones – all to chase a dream of competing at the highest level. While the media and fans watching at home may view Olympic success in the form of a medal count crawling across the bottom of the television screen, I know what a feat it is just to walk into the opening ceremonies.

On the other hand, I have witnessed those athletes, no less talented, who did not get the call to represent the USA in Russia. Many, I am sure, felt embarrassment at not making the cut. But again, I believe that there is no room for that word in this scenario. Embarrassment implies shame. What in the world is shameful about giving everything you have to a dream and coming up just short? Holding one’s head up, pushing forward and continuing to pursue on a path that so few will ever travel — that of a professional athlete — transcends humiliation. Holding steadfast to a dream you have fought your whole life for, even when you fail — that shows grace. A word and a character trait I would like to see more of in sport.

As for those competing in Sochi, some will find the podium and achieve Olympic glory. Many will not. But no matter the outcome, these athletes should feel the utmost pride for reaching the highest level of competition. They are all in the Super Bowl. We as spectators should feel embarrassment for making them believe anything less. As Americans we were taught that success comes in the form of winning and that failure is both humiliating and something to fear. I reject that. Failing big is so much more admirable than refusing to try.

So as we reflect back on last night’s game and as we look ahead to the Games in Sochi, let’s not equate winning with success. And let’s also not forget that there is nothing embarrassing about second place.

Week 5 Recap – Water Cooler Wednesday      
Okay, did I tell you this was going to be the best week of football so far, or what!? I mean, talk about parody pandemonium! Man, I love this game!
So let me guess, your male co-workers who conveniently moonlight as NFL experts are having a hay day recounting this wild weekend of football around the water cooler. Am I right? Well I have an idea.  
You’ve been studying up on the big games each week, right? If you’re reading this, you already know more than most women in your office. So why don’t you join in on the chatter and add a couple of cents of your own. I mean, it’s better than rolling your eyes and hustling back to your cubicle, right?
I’m going to take an educated guess at the football topics floating around your office this week and give you a tidbit or two that will really blow the guys’ hair back. Enjoy!
Seahawks Lose
It is really hard to go undefeated in the 16-game, NFL regular season. So hard, in fact, that the last team to do it was the 1973 Miami Dolphins. We knew going into this game that facing Indy and Andrew Luck on the road was going to be a battle for Seattle. But I’m not sure anyone, especially the Hawks, saw Andrew Luck playing THAT well. Now don’t go overreacting.  There is nothing to say that one loss squanders the Hawks chances at a Super Bowl. In fact, an early loss like this might do Seattle some good. If anything, the questionable calls by the refs and superior play by Andrew Luck should light a fire under Russell Wilson and his crew. Statistically, the Seahawks were right there with the Colts (if not outplaying them for the majority of the game).  A few calls don’t go their way, and boom, Seahawks are 4-1. Let’s not start with the “overrated” banter quite yet. I believe that if that Hawks had just one more quarter to play, they would still be perfect.  
Peyton and Romo — Tale of Two Quarterbacks
Okay, let’s not go losing our minds over this unexpectedly tight game in Dallas. After all, things turned out just as we had suspected, didn’t they? Peyton Manning was clutch and Tony Romo was, well, not. I mean, this isn’t a new storyline. Romo is solid for three quarters of football then throws an interception at the worst possible time. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones called this a “moral victory” for Dallas. Last time I checked, there aren’t trophies for participation in the NFL. I’ll tell you what would be better than a “moral victory,” a REAL victory! Against Denver! And mother effing Peyton Manning! Who, by the way, was really, really good on Sunday. Through five games this season Manning has thrown 20 touchdowns, an NFL record. Manning is outplaying his opponents, but what is more impressive is how he prepares each week. Manning is a professor of the game of football. Romo should take notes.
Geno Smith Soars
Jets fans are hilarious. Hilariously fickle. After last week’s loss to the Titans, they were calling for rookie QB Geno Smith’s head on a pike. Fast forward to Monday Night, and he’s the NFL player of the week and the franchise savior. Smith’s performance in the Jets win over the Falcons was steady, all the way down to the last drive that led to a 43-yard Nick Foles field goal and a Jets victory. His poise is impressive for a rookie. But let’s not go all Gang Green on this one just yet. Give Smith some time to develop before you start guaranteeing a playoff berth. Remember what happened to Mark Sanchez.
Matt Schaub Stinks
Things have gone from bad to worse for Matt Schaub in Houston. Not only did he throw his fourth consecutive pick six on Sunday against the 49ers, but after the game a Texans fans showed up on the doorstep of quarterback Matt Schaub “and told him off.” The promising Texans now sit 2-3.  Star defensive end J.J. Watt has asked fans to “stick with us” through the Texas-sized turmoil. As for Matt Schaub, he is set to start on Sunday against the St. Louis Rams. It is important to note that he was replaced at the end of the 3rd quarter against San Francisco by back-up QB T.J. Yates. Head Coach Gary Kubiak said after the game, “I just told [Schaub] I was going to put T.J. in the game and we’re going to go from there and talk about it after the game or throughout the course of the week and see where we’re at.” Should be interesting to “see where they’re at” on Sunday. 

Week 5 Recap – Water Cooler Wednesday      

Okay, did I tell you this was going to be the best week of football so far, or what!? I mean, talk about parody pandemonium! Man, I love this game!

So let me guess, your male co-workers who conveniently moonlight as NFL experts are having a hay day recounting this wild weekend of football around the water cooler. Am I right? Well I have an idea. 

You’ve been studying up on the big games each week, right? If you’re reading this, you already know more than most women in your office. So why don’t you join in on the chatter and add a couple of cents of your own. I mean, it’s better than rolling your eyes and hustling back to your cubicle, right?

I’m going to take an educated guess at the football topics floating around your office this week and give you a tidbit or two that will really blow the guys’ hair back. Enjoy!

Seahawks Lose

It is really hard to go undefeated in the 16-game, NFL regular season. So hard, in fact, that the last team to do it was the 1973 Miami Dolphins. We knew going into this game that facing Indy and Andrew Luck on the road was going to be a battle for Seattle. But I’m not sure anyone, especially the Hawks, saw Andrew Luck playing THAT well. Now don’t go overreacting.  There is nothing to say that one loss squanders the Hawks chances at a Super Bowl. In fact, an early loss like this might do Seattle some good. If anything, the questionable calls by the refs and superior play by Andrew Luck should light a fire under Russell Wilson and his crew. Statistically, the Seahawks were right there with the Colts (if not outplaying them for the majority of the game).  A few calls don’t go their way, and boom, Seahawks are 4-1. Let’s not start with the “overrated” banter quite yet. I believe that if that Hawks had just one more quarter to play, they would still be perfect. 

Peyton and Romo — Tale of Two Quarterbacks

Okay, let’s not go losing our minds over this unexpectedly tight game in Dallas. After all, things turned out just as we had suspected, didn’t they? Peyton Manning was clutch and Tony Romo was, well, not. I mean, this isn’t a new storyline. Romo is solid for three quarters of football then throws an interception at the worst possible time. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones called this a “moral victory” for Dallas. Last time I checked, there aren’t trophies for participation in the NFL. I’ll tell you what would be better than a “moral victory,” a REAL victory! Against Denver! And mother effing Peyton Manning! Who, by the way, was really, really good on Sunday. Through five games this season Manning has thrown 20 touchdowns, an NFL record. Manning is outplaying his opponents, but what is more impressive is how he prepares each week. Manning is a professor of the game of football. Romo should take notes.

Geno Smith Soars

Jets fans are hilarious. Hilariously fickle. After last week’s loss to the Titans, they were calling for rookie QB Geno Smith’s head on a pike. Fast forward to Monday Night, and he’s the NFL player of the week and the franchise savior. Smith’s performance in the Jets win over the Falcons was steady, all the way down to the last drive that led to a 43-yard Nick Foles field goal and a Jets victory. His poise is impressive for a rookie. But let’s not go all Gang Green on this one just yet. Give Smith some time to develop before you start guaranteeing a playoff berth. Remember what happened to Mark Sanchez.

Matt Schaub Stinks

Things have gone from bad to worse for Matt Schaub in Houston. Not only did he throw his fourth consecutive pick six on Sunday against the 49ers, but after the game a Texans fans showed up on the doorstep of quarterback Matt Schaub “and told him off.” The promising Texans now sit 2-3.  Star defensive end J.J. Watt has asked fans to “stick with us” through the Texas-sized turmoil. As for Matt Schaub, he is set to start on Sunday against the St. Louis Rams. It is important to note that he was replaced at the end of the 3rd quarter against San Francisco by back-up QB T.J. Yates. Head Coach Gary Kubiak said after the game, “I just told [Schaub] I was going to put T.J. in the game and we’re going to go from there and talk about it after the game or throughout the course of the week and see where we’re at.” Should be interesting to “see where they’re at” on Sunday. 

NFL Preview Week 5

What a week it is! You are in for a treat today with some of the most interesting match—ups we’ve seen all season. 

Luck vs. Wilson. Cutler vs. Brees. Peyton vs. Romo….okay that one doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. But you get what I’m saying.  

Make sure you’ve got your errands out of the way because you won’t want to leave your couch all day!

Don’t believe me? Check out the preview and see why week 5 may just be the most intriguing week so far this season. 

Seattle Seahawks (4-0) vs. Indianapolis Colts (3-1)

  • This match-up is, to me, the most interesting one this Sunday. I’m intrigued for several reasons. For one, the Seahawks and the Colts have suffocating defensive units ranking second and fourth, respectively, in the NFL for points allowed per game. Plus, these teams have a similar offensive style that is built around savvy quarterbacks (Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck) and hard-hitting running backs (Marshawn Lynch and Trent Richardson.) If this game were in Seattle, I would say that the Colts don’t have a shot. But, with another early road game, the Hawks have their work cut out for them. In last week’s road win over the Texans, it took a 4th quarter pick-six for Seattle to force the game into overtime. With the Seahawks down both starting offensive tackles, Indianapolis’ defensive line is sure to challenge Seattle all game. If the Seahawks want to remain undefeated, they will have to come out swinging offensively and control the play on the line. Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck will forever be connected as quarterbacks of the same rookie class and today is another day for them to prove who is top dog.
  • Sound Smart: The Seahawks have been brilliant at coming from behind on the road to remain perfect, but the Colts’ defensive line will look to expose Seattle’s injured O-line and close the door early. 
  • Seahawks/Colts: 1:00pm ET; FOX

New Orleans Saints (4-0) vs. Chicago Bears (3-1)

  • This week 5, Windy City slugfest is Chicago’s opportunity to prove that it is a legitimate contender in the NFC. But the Saints are no pushovers. The Bears defense struggled last week to contain Detroit’s RB Reggie Bush (173 yards) and TE Brandon Pettigrew (seven catches). Meanwhile on Monday Night, the Saints proved that its running game with Darren Sproles (114 yards in the first half) and passing game with TE Jimmy Graham (two touchdowns) might just be its bread and butter. This match-up will test Chicago’s preparation and see what, if any, adjustments the ‘D’ made this week in practice. New Orleans Rob Ryan-led defense is surely not in for a walk in the park against Chicago. Yes, Jay Cutler did turn the ball over four times last week against the Lions, but he also hung 32 points on the scoreboard. Plus the Bears have a competitive offensive core with WRs Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey, RB Matt Forte and TE Martellus Bennett. The only surefire way for the Saints to contain the Bears is for its defense to put consistent pressure on Cutler for four quarters. Once Cutler gets comfy, he is dangerous.
  • Sound Smart: If the Saints want to take a page from the Lions playbook, put Jay Cutler on his back and force him to turn the ball over. If Cutler gets comfortable, he has enough weapons in Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett to really do some damage. 
  • Saints/Bears: 1:00 ET; FOX 

Denver Broncos (4-0) vs. Dallas Cowboys (2-2)

  • Can Dallas stop Peyton Manning? In a word, no. Denver comes into Jerryworld on Sunday having scored 179 points in its first four games. 179! With a slew of targets including Demaryius Thomas, Erik Decker and Wes Welker, Peyton Manning is definitely smelling blood in Cowboys Stadium. Dallas’ defense appears well-stacked on paper with DeMarcus Ware, Sean Lee, Brandon Carr and more but they enter the match-up having just allowed 20 unanswered points in a loss to San Diego. We believe you Jason Garrett, it’s definitely NOT a coaching issue. The only thing on Dallas’ side is that it’s a member of the brutally brutal NFC East. As for Denver, Peyton Manning has been the key all season, throwing for 16 touchdowns and ZERO interceptions. It’ll take an out of body, out of this world performance from the Cowboys to overcome the rolling Broncos.
  • Sound Smart: You’re telling me that a defense that gave up 20 unanswered points to Phillip Rivers is going to be able to stop Peyton Manning’s 16 touchdowns and 179 points? Doubt it. 
  • Broncos/Cowboys: 4:25 ET; CBS

Houston Texans (2-2) vs. San Francisco 49ers (2-2)

  • When fans are burning your jersey in the parking lot of the stadium, you know the season isn’t going as planned. For Texans QB Matt Schaub, that means three pick-sixes in as many games and blowing a 20-3 lead on the Seattle Seahawks to lose in overtime. Some Houston fans are actually calling for back-up QB T.J. Yates. I think that’s a bit dramatic, but it is clear that the Texans aren’t living up to the Super Bowl hype surrounding them this preseason. But then again, neither are the 2-2 49ers. Colin Kaepernick has been, well, underwhelming thus far this season, ranking 27th in the NFL for passing. To put it in perspective, Kaepernick’s pass completion percentage ranks behind Christian Ponder and Sam Bradford. In his defense, Kaepernick is down two receivers with Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree out with injuries. And the bright side is that SF RB Frank Gore finally got his game going last week against St. Louis, which will be key in this match-up against the Texans. Both the Texans and the 49ers hang their hats on the play of their defense. The Texans defense leads the League in total yards allowed per game (252.2) and passing yards allowed per game (141). Texans LB Brian Cushing will be charged with keeping Kaepernick from running read option. Also watch for J.J. Watt to harass that Niners offensive line. As for San Francisco, their defense is ranked fourth in the NFL in total yards allowed per game (299.8) and third against the pass (190.5). Whichever offense responds and adjusts better in this game will win it. Random note, this will be the first game since Niners safety Donte Whitner legally changed his name to Donte Hitner. Dumb. 
  • Sound Smart: Brian Cushing all but shut down Russell Wilson and the read option last week before his concussion, it’ll be interesting to see how he handles Colin Kaepernick today.
  • Texans/Niners: 8:30 ET; NBC

Have a wonderful football Sunday!

Terminology Tuesday:
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away Fantasy Football was born.  
Are you like me and when you think about the name “Fantasy Football” you see a unicorn scoring a touchdown?
No? Just me, huh?! Hmm. 
But seriously, I think the dudes that invented Fantasy Football purposely chose a glittery name so women wouldn’t feel threatened by it. It’s sort of genius if you think about it.
I mean, we hear…
“Oh honey, the guys and I have a Fantasy Football draft tonight.”
…and immediately call up the girls for a wine night.
Because in our minds, a fantasy football draft sounds a whole lot like a Star Wars marathon. We get that you love it, but 8 hours in the land of make-believe is just too much. You’re Han Solo on that one. 
The tricky thing about Fantasy Football is it doesn’t just last one night. Noooo, this thing goes on for months. And men take it very seriously.  Don’t believe me? Check out this league. They also think we actually care about how their make-believe teams are doing.
News flash, no one cares about your fantasy team. It’s like your dreams. We will sit and nod politely while you recount every nuance of your REM sleep mind wanderings, but really we are thinking about what we’re going to have for dinner.
Anyways, I’m off track.
What I really set out to do this Terminology Tuesday, was give you a little background on how Fantasy Football works so that, even though you have zero interest in the game, you can at least ask thoughtful follow-up questions.
How does that sound? Out of this world right?! Ha.
Fantasy Football: An interactive game where players compete against each other as general managers of virtual teams built from real players. The different actions people are able to make are drafting, trading, adding or dropping players, and changing rosters.
Leagues
The two most popular types of Fantasy Football leagues are head-to-head and total points leagues.
Head-to-Head League
In head-to-head leagues, a team matches up versus a different team each week. The team who receives the most points of the two receives a win for that particular week. Points are dictated by the scoring system that is either standard set by the website or custom set by the commissioner. A team’s total is the sum of all players points in the starting lineup. The win-loss record is the most important statistic in head-to-head leagues, as it directly correlates with the league champion. Teams with the best win-loss record advance to the playoffs. If two teams have the same record, the tie-breaker is then decided by the total points scored in the regular season of the two (or more) tied teams. Further tie-breakers can be added based on league preference.
Total Points League
Total points leagues are leagues in which teams accumulate points on an ongoing basis. The league standings are determined by the teams’ total points rather than their win-loss record. The teams who accrue the highest total of points throughout the duration of the NFL-regular season advance to the playoffs. 
Starters
Each team owner must designate which players from the team roster will be starters each week - i.e. the only players who will “score” any points. The following example is similar to many common formats required for a starting lineup:
•                1 Quarterback 
•                2 Running Backs 
•                2 Wide Receiver 
•                1 Flex RB/WR/TE
•                1 Tight End
•                1 Placekicker
•                1 Team Defense/Special Teams
•                6 Bench players
This can vary according to the league.
Scoring
Players earn their team points based on their performance in their weekly games; for example, each touchdown counts as 6 points, a certain number of yards gained counts for points, and so on. In almost all cases, players earn points for passing, rushing, and receiving yards.
A typical scoring format follows. Again, there are many variations used:
•                1 point for 25 passing yards
•                1 point for 10 rushing yards
•                1 point for 10 receiving yards
•                1 point for a reception
•                6 points for a touchdown
•                4 points for a passing touchdown
•                -2 points for every interception thrown or fumble lost
•                1 point for each extra point made
•                3 points for each 0-39 yard field goal, 4 points for each 40-49 yard field goal, and 5 points for each 50+ yard field goal
•                2 points per turnover gained by defense
•                1 points per sack by the defense
•                2 points for a safety by defense
•                6 points for each touchdown scored by defense
2 points for each blocked kick
You see, the game is actually really simple because the computer does all of the math for you. The key is drafting a good team at the beginning of the season and then managing it well each week. For instance, you want to make sure you aren’t “playing” someone who is injured.
Drafts
In a traditional “snake” draft, owners take turns drafting players in a “serpentine” method, i.e. the owner who picks 1st in the odd rounds picks last in the even rounds, in the interests of fairness.
The most commonly used strategies for drafting are value based and opinion based drafting. Value base drafting entails projecting the total fantasy point value for each player in the draft and then figuring their value with respect to other players at their position, while standard cheat sheet based drafting requires ranking each player based on your opinion of worth, or other people’s opinion of said player’s worth.
Some leagues allow for trading players throughout the season.
As you can see, this game appears complicated but really it’s quite simple. You draft the “best” players according to the online rankings and make sure you play your “best” line-up each week.
And as much as you want to tune out your guy when he starts rambling on about his Fantasy team, try using your newfound knowledge to engage in the conversation.  
It’ll earn you plenty of points of your own, I promise. 

Terminology Tuesday:

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away Fantasy Football was born. 

Are you like me and when you think about the name “Fantasy Football” you see a unicorn scoring a touchdown?

No? Just me, huh?! Hmm. 

But seriously, I think the dudes that invented Fantasy Football purposely chose a glittery name so women wouldn’t feel threatened by it. It’s sort of genius if you think about it.

I mean, we hear…

“Oh honey, the guys and I have a Fantasy Football draft tonight.”

…and immediately call up the girls for a wine night.

Because in our minds, a fantasy football draft sounds a whole lot like a Star Wars marathon. We get that you love it, but 8 hours in the land of make-believe is just too much. You’re Han Solo on that one. 

The tricky thing about Fantasy Football is it doesn’t just last one night. Noooo, this thing goes on for months. And men take it very seriously.  Don’t believe me? Check out this league. They also think we actually care about how their make-believe teams are doing.

News flash, no one cares about your fantasy team. It’s like your dreams. We will sit and nod politely while you recount every nuance of your REM sleep mind wanderings, but really we are thinking about what we’re going to have for dinner.

Anyways, I’m off track.

What I really set out to do this Terminology Tuesday, was give you a little background on how Fantasy Football works so that, even though you have zero interest in the game, you can at least ask thoughtful follow-up questions.

How does that sound? Out of this world right?! Ha.

Fantasy Football: An interactive game where players compete against each other as general managers of virtual teams built from real players. The different actions people are able to make are drafting, trading, adding or dropping players, and changing rosters.

Leagues

The two most popular types of Fantasy Football leagues are head-to-head and total points leagues.

Head-to-Head League

In head-to-head leagues, a team matches up versus a different team each week. The team who receives the most points of the two receives a win for that particular week. Points are dictated by the scoring system that is either standard set by the website or custom set by the commissioner. A team’s total is the sum of all players points in the starting lineup. The win-loss record is the most important statistic in head-to-head leagues, as it directly correlates with the league champion. Teams with the best win-loss record advance to the playoffs. If two teams have the same record, the tie-breaker is then decided by the total points scored in the regular season of the two (or more) tied teams. Further tie-breakers can be added based on league preference.

Total Points League

Total points leagues are leagues in which teams accumulate points on an ongoing basis. The league standings are determined by the teams’ total points rather than their win-loss record. The teams who accrue the highest total of points throughout the duration of the NFL-regular season advance to the playoffs. 

Starters

Each team owner must designate which players from the team roster will be starters each week - i.e. the only players who will “score” any points. The following example is similar to many common formats required for a starting lineup:

                1 Quarterback 

                2 Running Backs 

                2 Wide Receiver 

                1 Flex RB/WR/TE

                1 Tight End

                1 Placekicker

                1 Team Defense/Special Teams

                6 Bench players

This can vary according to the league.

Scoring

Players earn their team points based on their performance in their weekly games; for example, each touchdown counts as 6 points, a certain number of yards gained counts for points, and so on. In almost all cases, players earn points for passing, rushing, and receiving yards.

A typical scoring format follows. Again, there are many variations used:

                1 point for 25 passing yards

                1 point for 10 rushing yards

                1 point for 10 receiving yards

                1 point for a reception

                6 points for a touchdown

                4 points for a passing touchdown

                -2 points for every interception thrown or fumble lost

                1 point for each extra point made

                3 points for each 0-39 yard field goal, 4 points for each 40-49 yard field goal, and 5 points for each 50+ yard field goal

                2 points per turnover gained by defense

                1 points per sack by the defense

                2 points for a safety by defense

                6 points for each touchdown scored by defense

2 points for each blocked kick

You see, the game is actually really simple because the computer does all of the math for you. The key is drafting a good team at the beginning of the season and then managing it well each week. For instance, you want to make sure you aren’t “playing” someone who is injured.

Drafts

In a traditional “snake” draft, owners take turns drafting players in a “serpentine” method, i.e. the owner who picks 1st in the odd rounds picks last in the even rounds, in the interests of fairness.

The most commonly used strategies for drafting are value based and opinion based drafting. Value base drafting entails projecting the total fantasy point value for each player in the draft and then figuring their value with respect to other players at their position, while standard cheat sheet based drafting requires ranking each player based on your opinion of worth, or other people’s opinion of said player’s worth.

Some leagues allow for trading players throughout the season.

As you can see, this game appears complicated but really it’s quite simple. You draft the “best” players according to the online rankings and make sure you play your “best” line-up each week.

And as much as you want to tune out your guy when he starts rambling on about his Fantasy team, try using your newfound knowledge to engage in the conversation.  

It’ll earn you plenty of points of your own, I promise. 

NFL Preview: Week 3

This is without a doubt the toughest week yet for predicting the outcomes of NFL games. The spreads in many cases are extremely tight. Plus, nearly half of the teams in the League sit at 1-1, meaning things could go either way for them this week.

That being said, I will give you my best guess at a few of today’s games, but chances are this post will receive an “A” for effort.

Baltimore Ravens (1-1) vs. Houston Texans (2-0)

  • Houston is one of only eight teams left with a perfect 2-0 record heading into week 3. It hasn’t come easy for the Texans, however. Matt Schaub and his crew pulled off a 4th quarter comeback in week 1 to beat the Chargers, and overcame an 8-point deficit against Tennessee to win in overtime last week. The bright spot for the Texans has been its offense, but it will be put to the test this week with wide receiver Andre Johnson and left tackle Duane Brown both questionable due to injuries. On the defensive side, J.J. Watt and company will need to limit turnovers that have plagued the Texans so far this season. The Ravens the season has been nothing to write home about so far. After being pummeled by the Broncos in week 1, Baltimore squeaked out a win in a defensive bout against the Browns last week. The offense will be the big question mark for the Ravens today. Baltimore will be without lead rusher Ray Rice, who is out with a hip injury. In addition to Rice, the Ravens have listed DE Chris Canty as doubtful, as well as WR Deonte Thompson, LB Arthur Brown, and defensive lineman Brandon Williams. They’re a little banged up, to say the least.  This game is an AFC battle with potential playoff implications down the line. The Texans have a tough couple of weeks ahead, facing Seattle then San Francisco, so they’ll need to find a rhythm against the Ravens if they want to have a chance at holding onto their perfect record.
  • Talking Points: The key for the Matt Schaub and the Texans today is remaining consistent offensively. They were 6 for 17 on third down conversions last week against the Browns, and you know that Baltimore is not going to allow them their third 4th quarter comeback. Houston needs to find its rhythm now before facing Seattle’s staunch defense next week. 
  • Ravens/Texans; 1:00 ET, CBS

 Miami Dolphins (2-0) vs. Atlanta Falcons  (1-1)

  • The Miami Dolphins are off to their best start in more than a decade, but the real test will come in the next few games. This week, their focus will be the injury-riddled Falcons. Ryan Tannehill and his new star target Mike Wallace finally clicked last week against the Colts for 115 yards and a touchdown. The Miami run game is also improving, with RB Lamar Miller notching 69 yards and a touchdown last week. But the Dolphins know as well as anyone that you can’t discount the Falcons. Atlanta is without fullback Bradie Ewing (shoulder) and defensive end Kroy Biermann (Achilles) for the season, plus linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (foot) for a minimum of eight weeks. Starting left tackle Sam Baker (knee, foot) also has been ruled out for this game, and a thigh injury could sideline cornerback Asante Samuel.  The key for Atlanta is not who they don’t have, but who they DO have. The Falcons offensive attack of QB Matt Ryan, TE Tony Gonzales and WR Julio Jones is as strong as ever. Gonzales, in particular, will test the Dolphins defense which has given up 177 yards and two touchdowns to tight ends so far this season. 
  • Talking Points: The Falcons took a big hit to the roster this week with injuries, but they’re still potent on offense with Matt Ryan, Tony Gonzales and Julio Jones. The Dolphins secondary will need to make some big plays to keep the Falcons from ruining Miami’s perfect record.
  • Dolphins/Falcons; 4:05 ET, FOX

Chicago Bears (2-0) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2)

  • In Pittsburgh, Mike Tomlin and the Steelers are trying their very best not to panic. Yes, they are off to their worst start since 2002. Yes, they are without the anchor of their offensive line, center Maurkice Pouncey. And yes, they have to face the 2-0 Bears tonight to avoid going 0-3 for the first time in 13 years. Keep calm and wave that terrible towel! The good news for the Steelers is that Pro Bowl tight end Heath Miller is set to make his first start since suffering a knee injury last December. Don’t expect him to be at full speed, but Miller’s return will definitely boost the morale of the Steelers offense, at least for now. Keep in mind, this is a team that has scored just 19 points in its first two games and has yet to record a defensive takeaway. In the Windy City, Jay Cutler appears to be settling into the Bears new West Coast offense. He has thrown for five touchdowns and only been sacked once so far this season. Cutler was sacked nine times in the first two games of 2012. The Bears ‘D’ looks strong as well, forcing six turnovers in the first two games.
  • Talking Points: The “terrible towel” appears to have taken on a whole knew meaning in Pittsburgh. Did you know that only Cleveland and Jacksonville have scored fewer points than the Steelers this season? With the Bears forcing six turnovers already this year, Pittsburgh could be on its way to its first 0-3 start since 2000.
  • Steelers/Bears; 8:30 ET, NBC
Happy Sunday, all!! 
Terminology Tuesday:
It’s all in your head; concussions and the NFL
Now, I am a pragmatist, so the idea that you can ever make football a “safe” sport is ridiculous to me. In my opinion, the only way to make the game safe is to remove the pads and helmets, get rid of tackling and call it rugby. Football is a brutal sport where some of the strongest men in the world slam into one another repeatedly with the intention of driving each other to the ground. There is a reason they only play 16 games a year.
So to think that the NFL is “making the game safer” is laughable to me. New rules will only result in more penalties and more fines. Oh, and who do you think gets that money?! But I do think that the topic of head injuries in this sport is worth talking about. And believe me, you will hear a lot of people talking about it this season. 
To make sure you aren’t the girl in the corner who can’t contribute to the conversation, here is a quick rundown of the latest in the NFL concussion saga. 
The Lawsuit:
Just prior to the kickoff of the 2013 season, the NFL settled a lawsuit filed by ex-players claiming that the League “for years denied the risks of long-term brain damage and propagated its own industry funded and falsified research to support its position.” In the settlement, the NFL agreed to pay $765 to ex-players as compensation for concussion related injuries, to help fund  concussion research and pay medical bills for affected players.
To prove that they are truly interested in players’ safety, the NFL has implemented new rules and regulations meant to reduce the number of hits to the helmet.
New Rules:
Hitting with crown of helmet
The new rule states that both runners and tacklers are prohibited from initiating contact with the crown of their helmet outside the tackle box. The components of an illegal hit are: (1) The player must line up his opponent, (2) the player must lower his head, and (3) the player must deliver a forcible blow with his crown to any part of the opposing player’s body.
Violations result in a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty, as well as potential discipline from the league if warranted. If both players are moving at an angle or haven’t lined up their opponent yet, then no foul will be assessed on the play.
Supplemental discipline for player safety rule violations
All violations of player safety rules are subject to potential fines or suspensions. All violations of rules regarding contact to the head of defenseless players shall be considered for suspension if: (1) the striking player took an unobstructed path, (2) the opponent’s position hasn’t been affected by another player, and (3) contact was clearly avoidable. Mitigating factors will be taken into account if they are available.
One or more prior violations of this type means the player will be suspended, even if there are mitigating circumstances.
Points of emphasis
Referees will make the following situations points of emphasis for the 2013 season:
Late hits near a pile or on the ground
Playing and making contact after a play is whistled dead
Offensive players cannot grab a defensive player’s facemask. Straight-arms are still okay but they can’t grab
Reaction:
The reactions to these rule changes by players, coaches and fans have been overwhelmingly negative. The general sentiment is that the new rules will change the game of football forever. In essence, many feel that the NFL is punishing players for making contact in what is, in fact, a contact sport. Some say that this is just the NFL’s way of appearing to care about players safety, when in reality, they would take away tackling altogether if that was actually true. The tough part about the new rules is that the either player involved in the play could change positions at the last second resulting in an illegal hit and thus a fine and/or suspension for his opponent. Ultimately, in one fail swoop the NFL has gone against the way this game has been played, and taught, for decades. While the intentions may be good, this just doesn’t seem to be a well thought-out amendment.
Here is a taste of what players around the League have to say about it:
Vikings safety Harrison Smith: “Soon everyone will get a trophy for participation.”
Bears running back Matt Forte: “Wow so they really passed that rule…last time I checked football was a contact sport. Calling bank now to set up my lowering the boom fund”
Bills running back Fred Jackson: I’m not Sliding!! #NewHelmetRule
Browns linebacker Tank Carder: “These rules are getting out of hand, I wonder when they realize they are going to have to change the name of the sport.”
Lions running back Joique Bell: “NFFL #NationalFlagFootballLeague#smh…”
Vikings defensive end Brian Robison: “My main concern is that the rules are just too confusing at times. Ex. When can a RB lower his head now to protect himself?”
Browns offensive tackle Rashad Butler: “Listen, American football is a violent sport. U choose to play at ur own risk. And with that u have to accept the injuries that come with it.”

Terminology Tuesday:

It’s all in your head; concussions and the NFL

Now, I am a pragmatist, so the idea that you can ever make football a “safe” sport is ridiculous to me. In my opinion, the only way to make the game safe is to remove the pads and helmets, get rid of tackling and call it rugby. Football is a brutal sport where some of the strongest men in the world slam into one another repeatedly with the intention of driving each other to the ground. There is a reason they only play 16 games a year.

So to think that the NFL is “making the game safer” is laughable to me. New rules will only result in more penalties and more fines. Oh, and who do you think gets that money?! But I do think that the topic of head injuries in this sport is worth talking about. And believe me, you will hear a lot of people talking about it this season. 

To make sure you aren’t the girl in the corner who can’t contribute to the conversation, here is a quick rundown of the latest in the NFL concussion saga. 

The Lawsuit:

Just prior to the kickoff of the 2013 season, the NFL settled a lawsuit filed by ex-players claiming that the League “for years denied the risks of long-term brain damage and propagated its own industry funded and falsified research to support its position.” In the settlement, the NFL agreed to pay $765 to ex-players as compensation for concussion related injuries, to help fund  concussion research and pay medical bills for affected players.

To prove that they are truly interested in players’ safety, the NFL has implemented new rules and regulations meant to reduce the number of hits to the helmet.

New Rules:

Hitting with crown of helmet

The new rule states that both runners and tacklers are prohibited from initiating contact with the crown of their helmet outside the tackle box. The components of an illegal hit are: (1) The player must line up his opponent, (2) the player must lower his head, and (3) the player must deliver a forcible blow with his crown to any part of the opposing player’s body.

Violations result in a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty, as well as potential discipline from the league if warranted. If both players are moving at an angle or haven’t lined up their opponent yet, then no foul will be assessed on the play.

Supplemental discipline for player safety rule violations

All violations of player safety rules are subject to potential fines or suspensions. All violations of rules regarding contact to the head of defenseless players shall be considered for suspension if: (1) the striking player took an unobstructed path, (2) the opponent’s position hasn’t been affected by another player, and (3) contact was clearly avoidable. Mitigating factors will be taken into account if they are available.

One or more prior violations of this type means the player will be suspended, even if there are mitigating circumstances.

Points of emphasis

Referees will make the following situations points of emphasis for the 2013 season:

  • Late hits near a pile or on the ground
  • Playing and making contact after a play is whistled dead
  • Offensive players cannot grab a defensive player’s facemask. Straight-arms are still okay but they can’t grab

Reaction:

The reactions to these rule changes by players, coaches and fans have been overwhelmingly negative. The general sentiment is that the new rules will change the game of football forever. In essence, many feel that the NFL is punishing players for making contact in what is, in fact, a contact sport. Some say that this is just the NFL’s way of appearing to care about players safety, when in reality, they would take away tackling altogether if that was actually true. The tough part about the new rules is that the either player involved in the play could change positions at the last second resulting in an illegal hit and thus a fine and/or suspension for his opponent. Ultimately, in one fail swoop the NFL has gone against the way this game has been played, and taught, for decades. While the intentions may be good, this just doesn’t seem to be a well thought-out amendment.

Here is a taste of what players around the League have to say about it:

  • Vikings safety Harrison Smith: “Soon everyone will get a trophy for participation.”
  • Bears running back Matt Forte: “Wow so they really passed that rule…last time I checked football was a contact sport. Calling bank now to set up my lowering the boom fund”
  • Bills running back Fred Jackson:
  • Browns linebacker Tank Carder: “These rules are getting out of hand, I wonder when they realize they are going to have to change the name of the sport.”
  • Lions running back Joique Bell: “NFFL …”
  • Vikings defensive end Brian Robison: “My main concern is that the rules are just too confusing at times. Ex. When can a RB lower his head now to protect himself?”
  • Browns offensive tackle Rashad Butler: “Listen, American football is a violent sport. U choose to play at ur own risk. And with that u have to accept the injuries that come with it.”
Monday Night Preview Week 2: Bengals/Steelers
For all of you East Coasters still wiping sleep out of your eyes after last night’s electric (ha!) game in Seattle — well done! You can now say that you were witness to some of the greatest NFL defense this season.  What Richard Sherman and the Seahawks did to the Niners last night by stifling Anquan Boldin and crippling Colin Kaepernick was both unexpected and incredibly impressive. Even San Fran head coach Jim Harbaugh looked stupefied (and unsportsmanlike?) after the game. Unbelievable football! Totally worth a groggy Monday at the office, no?!
Good news! A cure for your football hangover is less than 60 minutes away — the perfect amount of time to study up before the kickoff of Monday Night Football.
Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1)
Most casual football fans might be surprised to hear that the Bengals are actually seven point favorites in tonight’s match-up. We’ve become accustomed to hearing about the Steelers’ juggernaut of a defense and Big Ben’s domineering presence in the pocket. Well, allow me to introduce you to the 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers. This season’s Steelers are without RB Rashard Mendenhall and WR Mike Wallace. These Steelers allowed five sacks on Ben Roethlisberger in week one. And while Pittsburgh’s defense remains steady, allowing only one play longer than 15 yards last week, it will take a couple of special plays by the offense (who just lost center Maurkice Pouncey for the season) in order to hang with the Bengals in Cincinnati. For those of you who didn’t catch the Bengals on HBO’s Hard Knocks a few weeks back, I’ll give you a quick rundown of notable characters. First is James Harrison, who joined Cincy’s defensive roster this season as a free agent from, where else, Pittsburgh. Tonight will be the first time that Harrison lines up against his former teammate Ben Roethlisberger since college. In that game, Harrison sacked Big Ben four times. On the other side of the ball, watch for Andy Dalton to connect with wide receiver A.J. Green, again and again. Green had a brilliant performance in week one, with a nine-catch, 162-yard, 2-touchdown game against the Bears. You know that he’ll be Dalton’s number one target tonight. As with last night’s smack down in Seattle, this one is a divisional game (name that division!) and so there is a lot on the line for both squads.  Expect a physical, emotional and entertaining bout.
Talking Points: The Bengals are 7-20 against the Steelers since 2000, but you know that James Harrison is hungry for number 8. The Steelers offense struggled to find rhythm last week in Tennessee and now they’re without their starting center. Plus, A.J. Green and Andy Dalton looked impressive against Chicago and could light up Pittsburgh’s secondary.
Bengals/Steelers: Monday, 8:30ET, ESPN

Monday Night Preview Week 2: Bengals/Steelers

For all of you East Coasters still wiping sleep out of your eyes after last night’s electric (ha!) game in Seattle — well done! You can now say that you were witness to some of the greatest NFL defense this season.  What Richard Sherman and the Seahawks did to the Niners last night by stifling Anquan Boldin and crippling Colin Kaepernick was both unexpected and incredibly impressive. Even San Fran head coach Jim Harbaugh looked stupefied (and unsportsmanlike?) after the game. Unbelievable football! Totally worth a groggy Monday at the office, no?!

Good news! A cure for your football hangover is less than 60 minutes away — the perfect amount of time to study up before the kickoff of Monday Night Football.

Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1)

  • Most casual football fans might be surprised to hear that the Bengals are actually seven point favorites in tonight’s match-up. We’ve become accustomed to hearing about the Steelers’ juggernaut of a defense and Big Ben’s domineering presence in the pocket. Well, allow me to introduce you to the 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers. This season’s Steelers are without RB Rashard Mendenhall and WR Mike Wallace. These Steelers allowed five sacks on Ben Roethlisberger in week one. And while Pittsburgh’s defense remains steady, allowing only one play longer than 15 yards last week, it will take a couple of special plays by the offense (who just lost center Maurkice Pouncey for the season) in order to hang with the Bengals in Cincinnati. For those of you who didn’t catch the Bengals on HBO’s Hard Knocks a few weeks back, I’ll give you a quick rundown of notable characters. First is James Harrison, who joined Cincy’s defensive roster this season as a free agent from, where else, Pittsburgh. Tonight will be the first time that Harrison lines up against his former teammate Ben Roethlisberger since college. In that game, Harrison sacked Big Ben four times. On the other side of the ball, watch for Andy Dalton to connect with wide receiver A.J. Green, again and again. Green had a brilliant performance in week one, with a nine-catch, 162-yard, 2-touchdown game against the Bears. You know that he’ll be Dalton’s number one target tonight. As with last night’s smack down in Seattle, this one is a divisional game (name that division!) and so there is a lot on the line for both squads.  Expect a physical, emotional and entertaining bout.
  • Talking Points: The Bengals are 7-20 against the Steelers since 2000, but you know that James Harrison is hungry for number 8. The Steelers offense struggled to find rhythm last week in Tennessee and now they’re without their starting center. Plus, A.J. Green and Andy Dalton looked impressive against Chicago and could light up Pittsburgh’s secondary.
  • Bengals/Steelers: Monday, 8:30ET, ESPN

NFL Week 2 Preview

Hey party people! We’re just hours from the commencement of the best sporting spectacle of the week. It’s NFL Sunday. Better put that Prosecco on ice!

I apologize for not giving you more time to study up for today’s games, but I’m confident that this cram sesh will suffice.

Let’s get to it!

Green Bay Packers (0-1) vs. Washington Redskins (0-1)

  • The Redskins had the unlucky draw last week of becoming the first team to face, and fall victim to the Eagles’ new offense.  Things don’t look much better for RGIII and his Skins this week. Washington heads to Lambeau where Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are 26-2 at home since 2009. What’s worse, the Packers haven’t lost back-to-back games since October 2010. There is a reason that Vegas is giving Green Bay seven points in this one.  If the Redskins have a shot today, they’re going to need some big gains on Clay Matthews and the Packers defense. That isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Green Bay’s defense gave up 494 yards last week in San Fran. Plus, Green Bay is without cornerback Casey Hayward and safety Morgan Burnett is questionable. All that being said, Aaron Rodgers is Aaron Rodgers. I’d be shocked if he let this one slip away. 
  • Talking points: San Francisco exposed the Packers defense last week, but Green Bay is 26-2 at home since ’09 and haven’t lost back-to-back games since 2010.  It’s going to take a brilliant performance from RGIII to keep this one close.
  • Packers/Redskins: 1:00 ET; FOX

New York Giants (0-1) vs. Denver Broncos (1-0)

  • The Manning brothers each set records in week one. Peyton tied the NFL record with seven touchdowns in one game. Meanwhile, Eli and his Giants had six turnovers, the most for New York since 1987. This afternoon, the Manning brothers meet for the third time in their careers. Older brother Peyton has won the previous two match-ups, and barring some magical MetLife mojo, he and his Broncos should win the third. The Giants pitiful performance in Dallas last week exposed an inexperienced running back in David Wilson and a soft offensive line. The one bright spot for the Giants was the ‘D,’ who despite six turnovers, left Dallas only up by six as time expired.  But how will they contain Peyton and his scrappy new offense.  Peyton has a plethora of capable targets in newly acquired Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas, who each scored two touchdowns in week 1. While still thin on the defensive side, I think that the Broncos will prove too much for the unestablished Giants this week.
  • Talking Points: With the Giants coughing up the ball six times last week and Peyton having more Broncos targets than ever, I don’t see how Peyton won’t win his third Manning match-up.
  • Giants/Broncos: 4:25 ET; CBS

Seattle Seahawks (1-0) vs. San Francisco 49ers (1-0)

  • Is Seattle/San Francisco the greatest NFL rivalry this season? That is the argument some are making. One thing is for sure, tonight’s Sunday Night NFC West showdown will be one of the best games you’ll see all weekend. This one offers so many subplots. Two fiery coaches collide in Pete Carrol and Jim Harbaugh. Two young, capable quarterbacks square off in Russel Wilson and Colin Kaepernick. Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch going all Beast Mode in front of the loudest stadium of fans in the league, what Seattle lovingly refers to as its 12th Man. Plus, in a division as stacked as the NFC West, this game actually matters to both teams. Yes it’s only week 2, but mark my words, when it comes down to seeds in the playoffs, we will be talking about this one. On paper, the Niners appear to have the edge, with Seattle still “weathering the storm” of injuries and suspensions. But don’t forget that Century Link is one of, if not the hardest environments for visiting teams to play and could prove to be the x factor that results in a Seahawks victory.  Did I mention that the Seattle fans are trying to set the record for the loudest stadium tonight?! Grab a beer and enjoy, because games like this don’t happen every week!
  • Talking Points: There are so few rivalries like Seattle/San Francisco today in the league where both coaches are characters, both QB’s are capable and it really matters every time they play. The best part is that you never know what’s going to happen when they meet.  
  • Seahawks/49ers: 8:30 ET; NBC

Thursday Thoughts: Carrie Underwood Sings in Sunday Night 

There is something about the NBC Sunday Night Football theme song that sends chills down my back every time I hear it. Even though I’ve watched at least three full football games by the time the beat drops, I find myself singing right along every time.

“All right Sunday Night, where are you?!” 

Only part that wears on me a little: “Al and Chris are the best on TV.” Al is the man. A legend. Chris? Not so much. I’m tempted to rename the ‘mute’ button on my remote the ‘Collinsworth.’ He gets on my last nerves. Not a fan. Sue me.

Anyways, I digress. 

Personally, I loved Faith Hill as the matriarch for the week’s biggest game. She’s sexy without being skanky (take notes Miley). She doesn’t overdo the melody (cough cough Christina). Plus, she seems like a believable, down home NFL fan, even if she is cursed with the Titans as her hometown team.

When I heard Carrie Underwood was taking the over the reigns, I wasn’t surprised.

On paper, Underwood is the ideal predecessor to Mama Hill. She, too, is a southern belle who undoubtedly grew up in a football fervent town. She is classy, beautiful and has one impressive set of stems. What? That’s not weird to say. It’s a fact.  She also brings a fresh take on a classic song, breathing a little youth into NBC’s otherwise, how do you say, mature broadcast. All in all, her rendition is enjoyable.

My problem comes from the fact that I can’t watch Carrie sing about football without thinking about her ex-boyfriend Tony Romo. How is that not a conflict of interest?! Frankly, I don’t want to see Romo in my head every Sunday Night of this season. Watching him in week one was bad enough. To me, Romo is like Honey Boo Boo. Entertaining in small doses, but too much makes me feel bad about myself.  I mean, how many seasons do we have to watch him be mediocre before we quit believing that THIS is the Cowboys year?!

Yes, Dallas has one win in the books. But let’s be honest, the Raiders could’ve beat the Giants last Sunday. New York turned the ball over six times, for heaven’s sake. SIX!

So if it’s all right with the rest of you, I’m going to cool my jets on the Cowboys for a minute. Unfortunately, as I’m gearing up to watch two legit quarterbacks on Sunday Night, I’ll be picturing this guy