Battle of the Fantastic Four

 

We’re down to the final four in what’s going to be one of the better conference championship weeks we’ve seen in the NFL for quite some time.  Ill call it the fantastic four so I can get my Jessica Alba reference out there.  For these teams sake we will say that in our first matchup we have LeGarrette “Ben Grimm” Blount and the Patriots taking on the Peyton “Sue Storm” Manning led Broncos.  I don’t think I need to explain why I gave Benn Grimm to LeGarrette Blount, but I went Sue Storm for Manning because often in the playoffs he becomes invisible but at other times he can cover up and shield the weaknesses the Broncos have on defense.  In our NFC Championship matchup we have the Russell “Reed Richards” Wilson led Seahawks hosting the Colin “Johnny Storm” Kaepernick led Niners.  Lets be honest Russell Wilson is a class guy so its just goes hand in hand with the goody two shoed Reed Richards.  Not to mention he gets the beautiful Jessica Alba!  Although in this scenario it would be Peyton Manning?  Yuck.  Colin Kaepernick gets the flame on boy not so much just because of him but because the whole 49ers team seems to be into themselves much like Johnny Storm.

Now let me get back on topic here.  I don’t think anyone is really shocked to see these four teams in their respective championship games.  Lets be honest the Seahawks and the 49ers were the two best teams in the NFC.  The only reason they aren’t the number two seed is because they are in the same division as the Seahawks.  On the other side of the bracket it comes as no surprise that we get a Tom Brady Peyton Manning game for the right to the Super Bowl.  However what is surprising is for a pass happy league that the NFL has become the 49ers, Seahawks and Patriots got to the championship game by utilizing the ground and pound game.  Who would have thought if the Patriots scored 43 points that Tom Brady would have ZERO touchdown passes? Well it happened last week versus the colts. It’s going to be interesting to see if the Patriots stick to this game plan.  People forgot that when the Patriots were winning the Super Bowls back in the early 2000’s they were doing it by establishing the run game and play action off it.  Cory Dillon has been reincarnated as LeGarrette Blount.

Our early game features the Broncos and Patriots at Mile High Stadium in Denver. The two met earlier in week 12 at Foxboro and it provided us with one of the best regular season games we saw this year.  Tom Brady and the Patriots climbed back from a 24-0 halftime hole to win 34-31 in overtime.  It was Peyton Manning’s worst statistical game during the regular season.  Bill Belichick dialed up an effective defense against Manning who went 19-36 for 150 yards.  Now part of that had to do with the fact that the Broncos were having such success running the ball.  But you would think with 36 attempts that Manning would find a way to reach at least the 200-yard plateau.  Brady finished the game with 344 yards and three touchdowns.  Score another one for the Brady Bunch over the Manning family.  But I have a feeling this game is going to very different in terms of the Patriot offensive game plan.  As we have seen the Patriots have recommitted to the run game of late.  And this is important to note because in all four losses the Patriots had this year not one of their running backs accounted for more than 51 yards rushing.  Furthermore in those games where they lost the Patriots had close to a 2.5-1 pass to run ratio.  If the Patriots find themselves with a 100 yard running back its pretty safe to say they will probably come out on top.  During the regular season every time they had a 100-yard rusher they won the game.  Going 4-0 in such situations.  Lets be honest the key to beating the Broncos has to be keeping Manning off the field as much as possible.  I expect a lot of running back by committee this time around. Defensively for the Patriots it has got to be pressure on Manning.  It seems the only thing that really gets Manning off his game is constant pressure early.  Bill Belichick is the master at getting in Manning’s head.  Hence why he is 4-10 against Belichick and the Patriots in his career.  I expect a lot of early blitzes to try and get Manning out of a rhythm early.  Maybe channel some inner Rex Ryan and stand everyone up around the line of scrimmage so not to give Manning pre-snap reads.

However there is something that I’m sure has got Belichick staying up late at night this past week.  Julius Thomas.  If there was one KEY cog of Manning’s arsenal that was missing in the defeat in week 12 it was Thomas.  Thomas has been one of Manning’s favorite targets in the passing game this year in the red zone and key situations.  I mean lets be honest when it was 3rd and 17 late in the game in the fourth quarter versus San Diego it was Thomas who he went to.  He like Jimmy Graham, Tony Gonzalez, and Jason Witten are nightmares in the red zone. His 12 touchdowns prove that.  Now when the Patriots went against a similar tight end in Jimmy Graham they decided to put Aqib Talib on him to shut him down.  It worked too, holding Graham catch less in the game.  However the Saints don’t have the same weapons around Graham that Thomas has in Welker, Demaryius Thomas, and Eric Decker.  If they decide to put Talib on Julius Thomas then the other Thomas should be in position to have a big game.  Oh did we mention that Knowshon Moreno rushed for 224 yards in their first meeting?  Yea so its just another weapon that the Patriots are going to have to try and shut down.  It’s a nightmare for the Patriots but its one they are going to have to figure out or it will be Peyton and not Brady taking a bite out of the big apple in New York.

At the beginning of the week I really liked the Patriots but I’ve talked myself into the Broncos. Sorry Patriot fans.  I started saying the Broncos were the Sue Storm of the Fantastic Four and I cant go against a Jessica Alba led character!

Jessica Alba’s Sue Storm takes out Ben Grimm in a doozie.

28-24

After Jessica Alba books her trip to New York we look to see if her brother joins her there or if her hubby will join her.  The Seahawks have owned the 49ers the last two meetings in Seattle by a total of 71-16 including a 29-3 beat down in week 2.  Colin Kaepernick had one of his worst games passing in that one going 13-28 for 127 yards and three picks and a fumble.  But he wasn’t getting much help either.  Frank Gore also was held in check rushing for only 16 yards.  Something that the 49ers will have to avoid so that Kaep isn’t left with long third down situations against that vaunted Seahawk secondary.

They really got back to this in the second matchup with these two squads.  Frank Gore rushed for 110 yards on 17 carries.  Including the big run that set up the game winning field goal late in the fourth quarter.  They were more committed to the ground game in this one rushing the ball 39 times versus 20 in the opener.  The 49ers are a whopping 10-0 including the playoffs when the former Miami running back goes for one hundred yards in a game.

So what we here’s what we need to look for when we watch these two teams go at it Sunday and this should tip the scale to the winning team.

1. Whose O-Line/Running back combo produces?

As we already mentioned the 49ers are undefeated when Frank Gore goes for over 100.  If the 49ers win the battle in the trenches that means they are taking the ball slowly down the field and keeping the 12th man at bay.  Where as if the Seahawks and Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch are controlling the line of scrimmage then it may mean he’s producing another earthquake at Century Field and sending the 49ers packing.  The team that has had more rushes and running yards in each game won. Not to mention the team that has won the time of possession in both regular season games also was victorious.

2. Can the 49ers set the edge on Russell Wilson?

The 49er combo of Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks has been deadly to opposing quarterbacks all year.  In the first matchup at Century Link Russell Wilsons lone interception came from Aldon Smith pressuring Wilson off the edge and forcing him to stay in the pocket and force a throw downfield.  Later in the game the pass rush of Smith created a sack for Glenn Dorsey.  Not to mention having two sacks of his own.   Ahmad Brooks sealed the opposing edge on both those sacks for Smith.  Setting the edge is key on Russell Wilson because when he gets out of the pocket he kills the 49ers.  Producing two plays of over 50 yards when escaping the pressure.  In a game where there wont be many yeards 50 seems like 200.

3. Can the Seahawk defensive line pressure Kaepernick?

In their week fourteen loss the Seahawks only had two sacks and ten quarterback pressures versus Kaep.  But in the Seahawks victory at Century Link they were able to get to him three times and pressure him 21 times!  It doesn’t take a brain scientist to know that the Seahawks need to get in his face early and stay there. According to Pro Football Focus Colin Kaepernick is statistically the worst quarterback in the NFL when he is being pressured.  And he’s not getting any better in such situations in the playoffs completing just 35 percent of his throws! We all know the trick to beating the 49ers is make Kaep pass the ball and not let him beat you with his feet.  Much like Russell Wilson it’s just about keeping him in the pocket and under duress.

4. Who wins the turnover battle?

The team that wins the turnover battle usually wins the game between these two.  In the first match up Seattle won it easily 5-1 contributing heavily to the 29-3 win.  However in the second match up it was even 1-1 but the Seahawks surrendered a blocked punt. Which to me is a turnover.  So we will score it 2-1.  Also something to note is who makes the turnover late in the game.  In the first meeting San Francisco had two fourth quarter turnovers where as the Seahawks in their defeat had a fourth quarter interception of their own.

5. Does Vernon Davis find the end zone?

Vernon Davis to me has been the biggest beneficiary of Michael Crabtree coming back.  It has opened up the middle of the field for him and taken away the abilities for safeties to key in on him when they get down to the redzone.  Since coming back Vernon Davis has a touchdown in six of the seven games.  Including a big touchdown to put the 49ers ahead in the win versus Seattle in week 14.  If he wins the battle with Earl Thomas and Cam Chancellor its could be costly for Seattle’s Super Bowl chances.

6. Who wins the Kicking game?

Plain and simple there’s not going to be a whole lot to separate these two teams so whoever has the best kicker may win the game.  The 49ers went out and got Phil Dawson just for this reason.  Make it when it matters, something that David Akers seemingly couldn’t do.  Steven Hauschka is having the best year of his career.  This year Hauschka is 36-38 kicking it through the ole goal posts.  Not to mention one of those was blocked because his tackle missed his block.  He’s three for three on kicks over 50 yards and made both of his game winning kicks.  So the question is who makes the mistake?  The answer may lie with the team who loses.

This is going to be a downright ugly defensive game.  Seattle hasn’t been clicking on offense of late. Since week 14 statistically they have been the second worst passing team in the league only averaging 144 yards.  It’s not going to get any easier versus the niners.  The 49ers can’t figure out how to attack this Seattle defense in Century link.  So all signs point to the under in this game.  I expect it to be a close one.

Richard Reed edges out Johnny Storm.

16-12

Thus creating a second honeymoon for Sue Storm and Richard Reed in New York City.

The Ugly Swan and Cowardly Lion Podcast 1.13.14

 

We start with Gene Deckerhoffs radio call for the Florida State National Championship game winning touchdown.

0:00-0:25

College Football

-Including our 4 teams that we think will make the playoffs next year!

0:25-24:45

 

NFL

-We talk NFL playoffs.  Who we think will win and what teams the hottest.

24:45-37:30

 

Premier League

-Suraez keeps up his run of goals. Another terrible officiating call costs a Premier League squad a chance at a point.  Even go over the game going on live in Aresnal v Aston Villa. We go over it all.

37:30-49:10

 

Transfer News

49:10-61:45

 

Lads Banter

Random chit chat.  The best part of our shows as always. Rory McIlroys future plans.  Whose hotter?  Messis wife or Ronaldos girlfriend?  We discuss Anchorman 2. CHELSEAAAA!

61:45-71:20

The Most Exciting NBA Teams No One Talks About

Keep paying your big money prices to watch teams like the Heat, Lakers, and Knicks but ill buy the cheaper tickets and watch some of the most exciting basketball going on in the NBA.  Sure are the Heat very entertaining to watch?  Sure they are.  But when your like me you’re on a budget I like to “take my talents” to an entertaining but not financially killer game.  For you east coasters out there let me awaken you to some of the most entertaining and young teams in the NBA.  These teams are the Phoenix Suns, Portland Trailblazers and Golden State Warriors.

No one really expected much from the Phoenix Suns coming into this year the leagues fourth worst team at 25-57 and last place team in the western conference.  But this year is different.  After hiring Jeff Hornacek to be their coach in the off-season the team started to rebuild.  Sure was Hornacek the sexy name that everyone in Phoenix was jumping out of his or her seats for? Heck no.  And this is important because often teams with mediocre fan bases or as I like to say fair-weather fans will go out and look for the biggest name possible.  But lets be honest going out and getting the right guy to win early and build up the youth is far more important than a big name.  Wins translate into butts in seats, which translates to money, which translates to happy bosses.  Good call front office.  Hornacek wasted no time cleaning up the past mess left by his predecessors. He wanted to go young and high tempo.  So his first order of business was trading Luis Scola an aging but productive 33-year-old power forward for Gerald Green Miles Plumlee and a 2014 first round pick.  Neither the Phoenix Suns front office nor I are Charlie Sheen or anything but we can all agree….Winning! They then traded Matin Gortat to the Washington Wizards for an expiring contract in Emeka Okafor and a 2014 First Round draft pick.  Are you catching what the suns are doing here?  Acquiring draft picks for next years loaded class. Obviously the biggest move the Suns made was trading for Eric Bledsoe.  The team finally has their superstar they can build around.  Not only does he bring offensive skills the guy can play defense too.  He combined with Goran Dragic combine for a lethal offensive fast break game giving the Suns an exciting product on the court.  Sitting at 20-13 the Suns are very much in the mix for a playoff spot in the West.  Regardless if they make it or not they are going in the right direction.  Not to mention they are EXCITING to watch.  Because the team rotates 10 deep with 8 of those players averaging 23 minutes a game or more and none averaging more than 34 this team is deep.  Which plays right into their game plan.  Go, go, go, and go some more.  By the fourth quarter teams find themselves with hands on their hips and the young suns are asking when the second game is going to be.  Its like if they were in an intramural league back in college. But then again some of these kids are just out of college.  The team averages 103.2 points a game, good for 9th in the NBA, and gets up and like I said get up and down the court quite regularly.  #3 team on Hambinos bang for your buck!

We head northwest for our #2 bang for you buck.  That would be your Portland Trailblazers.  People that don’t watch much NBA are probably thinking what they heck how are you going to start your article with the Suns and go next to the Portland Trailblazers?  Aren’t they called the jailblazers?  Well let me tell you the Blazers are far removed from the jailblazer days of old.  This team, much like the suns, are young and refreshing to watch.  I don’t know about you but I was starting to get tired of watching the Lakers and Celtics go at it in an epic 78-72 game.  No no no these guys don’t roll that way.  The Blazers channel their inner T-Pain and

they go up, down

blazers aint got not problems scoring all them buckets

Trying to see whats up now

They can score like this all day it aint nothing

Sorry had to do it.  I’m back.  They average 109 points a game.  That is good for the best scoring team in the NBA.  Which is crazy because the team isn’t that deep top to bottom. Something I will address shortly if there is a weak spot on the team. But lets get back to praising the team. Either way this team is exciting no matter how you dice it up.  Lets start with their young stud point guard Damian Lillard.  After winning Rookie of the Year last year he didn’t waste any time getting better.  It seems that every time I’m putting on Sportscenter the guy is making some kind of game winning shot.  The stage is not too big for the youngster.  Let me throw these stats at you when comparing him to some of his other NBA point guard brethren.  In games the NBA has defined “close” which they’ve either been ahead or behind by five points or fewer in the final five minutes Lillard has risen to the occasion. He leads the league with 55 points under the aforementioned parameters while shooting a remarkable 50 percent overall and 50 percent from beyond the arc, according to NBA.com.

Player

Points

FGM

FGA

FG%

Damian Lillard

55

15

30

50%

Kyrie Irving

50

15

43

34.9%

James Harden

48

9

26

34.6%

Arron Afflalo

47

13

32

40.6%

Eric Bledsoe

46

14

32

43.8%

Not to mention lets look at what he does in the final 30 seconds of a game one possession game.

Player

Points

FGM

FGA

FG%

Damian Lillard

14

4

5

80%

Russell Westbrook

11

3

3

100%

Arron Afflalo

9

2

5

40%

Jrue Holiday

9

3

4

75%

Michael Carter-Williams

8

2

4

50%

Not to shabby eh?  The guy is a stud and is someone that if he stays focused is bound to be an NBA superstar.  Shoot even Kobe is respecting the youngster by tweeting that fans should vote for Lillard and not Kobe for the all-star game.  Now people will be saying of course they should because Bryant hasn’t played really at all this year but don’t forget Yao Ming made countless All Star games without playing a game so it happens.  Not to mention Kobe never likes to admit anything that puts him down so for him to say this is impressive. But as we know you don’t have the 5th best record in the league without having a stud wingman and that wingman is LaMarcus Aldridge. You want to talk about an underrated player?  This man has to be at the top of the list.  When healthy all the guy does is produce 20-10 nights.  He unlike his previous Trailblazer big men (Bonzi Wells, Rasheed Wallace, Zach Randolph) conducts his business quietly.  And unfortunately for him playing in a small market on the west coast doesn’t help.  But the guy is a stud.  He boasts a top 20 PER (Player efficiency rating) this year and provides to presence down low to give his team one of the best point guard big man combos in the NBA.  Im going to give a quick shout out to Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum because even though Lillard and Aldridge get the attention these guys can ball out too.  Both players post a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio which is something you always want in role players.  Both players can extend the court with their three point ability.  And both players can play defense, Batum with his lengthy frame makes it tough for defenders to shoot over him and Matthews with his ability to stay with players off the dribble. People will always say fast break offensive based teams don’t win when it matters but this team has the third best record versus teams with winning records only behind Oklahoma City and Miami.  Not to mention this team went toe to toe with both. They beat OKC and lost on a last second three pointer by Chris Bosh versus Miami. Now if there is a weak spot in this team to me its their depth.  They really only go 7 deep and if someone were to get hurt it could cripple this team.  Look for them to address this with some role players closer to the trade deadline.  This team could be dangerous.  #2 team on Hambinos bang for your buck.

But there can only be one love for Hambino and that was stolen during the NBA playoffs last year.  That belongs to the lads from Golden State and the splash brothers.  I was privileged enough to watch the Warriors play the Suns earlier in the year and let me tell you it was a high paced exciting game throughout.  I was sitting in an all you can drink and eat seat but I couldnt get myself to leave my seat to go get the beer and food.  Its just that entertaining.  By the way by no means am I an NBA lover but I do like to watch fun teams.  The Warriors sputtered early with newly acquired Andre Iguodala battling injuries early in the season but since his return they have been on fire.  They have won 10 in a row coming into tonight and they really seems to finding their form from the end of the season last year.  Obviously its easy to focus on Stephen Curry on why this team is successful but Mark Jackson’s boys have skill, depth, and now experience to make this team a formidable force in the Western Conference.  But we have to start with Steph Curry.  The guy is an animal.  But it’s a different kind of animal.  Hes more the Lebron James animal rather than the Kobe animal.  Curry goes about it very lackadaisical and laid back fashion rather than high strung and in your face style.  Steph the kind of superstar that always has a smile on his face.  I don’t know but for some reason I find it refreshing to see superstars like that because I feel like I’m watching someone that truly loves what he’s doing and it really is just a game to him.  But regardless if I like him or not the guy can flat ball out.  He ranks in the top 15 in PER.  Curry is averaging 23 points and 10 assists.  So its not like the guys just jacking up threes the whole game.  He can dish it out too.  With the assists he also picks pockets averaging 1.8 steals a game.  So the guy can do it on both ends of the court.  His other splash brother Klay Thompson isn’t to bad either.  He is the perfect complement to Stephen Curry because both players shoot the long ball well.  Defenders cant start to gang up on Curry when he’s about to shoot because of Thompson’s ability to knock down any shot.  If they do however load up on Curry, Thompson is the beneficiary of Curry’s vision and will always end up with the ball in a good position.  Analysts think this could be the best backcourt in the NBA and I tend to agree with them. Both of them are shooting 40% from behind the arc and that’s nothing to laugh about when they combine to shoot 15 a game between the two. The thing I like though other than the splash brothers is its not just about them.  They have built a good team around their young superstars.  The aforementioned Andre Iguodala has provided this team with the defensive presence they need when they are going to go up versus a high powered wing player ie. Kevin Durant. Not to mention Curry and Thompson seemed to have sprinkled their magic three point shooting dust on Andre who has one of the top three point percentages going in the NBA at 46%.  But I think the lynch pin in this team is David Lee.  People forgot he went out of the playoffs last year injured and they still found a way to give the Spurs all they can handle.  He can score on the post and get the rebounds alongside his playing partner Andrew Bogut.  They’re the grit to the baby faced Warriors.  Lee a 20-10 power forward gives this team the inside outside game they want to play.  And hes still athletic enough to get up and down the court when the number 7 scoring team in the league is playing out of the fast break.  Oh did I mention they have two young studs in Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green?  Yes college basketball fans the Warriors have these guys on their bench! These guys would be starters on pretty much every team in the eastern conference without question.  Their ability to go 8-10 deep makes this team a very exciting team to watch and to keep an eye on in a 7 game series with much older teams come playoff time. That’s why I think this team is going to make waves come playoff time and why they’re Hambinos #1 bang for your buck.

The NFL Season in Review

This was yet another topsy-turvy year in the NFL.  We had changing of the guards in some divisions and we had some old vets continue their dominance at the top.  Not to mention for some of the old vets we saw them make history.  Take notes youngsters. However we did see some of the young guns get better and some take steps back.  We definitely have exciting playoffs to look forward to but that’s for another day. Enough about these random topics lets find out what we really learned this year in the recap of the NFL Regular Season.

Peyton Manning is still well…Peyton Manning. 

His 55 regular season touchdowns were a record setting mark.  Breaking the previous record of 50 set by his rival Tom Brady.  Not to mention he took away Drew Brees passing record of 5,476 eclipsing it by one yard and getting to 5,477. It was a big part to the Denver Broncos setting the record for most points scored in the regular season.  Chalk another accomplishment to the many Peyton has in the REGULAR SEASON.

Cowboys still cant get out of their December slump.

            The Cowboys again found themselves in a win or go home game in the final week of the regular season. Again they find themselves on the outside looking in for the third year in a row.  This time however they did it without Tony Romo.

Chicago again can thank the Cowboys for covering up their December blunder.

            Again the Chicago bears fell apart at the end of the season.  It seems that every year the Bears start hot. This year 3-0 and last year 7-1 only to see them falter down the stretch and miss the playoffs.  Ending this year 2-4 and last year losing five of their last eight.  Much like the Cowboys they had a win or go home versus a team on their own field and couldn’t come away with a victory.  Suddenly the switch back to Cutler doesn’t look so good does it?

The NFC West is no longer the laughing stock of the NFL

            Remember 4 years ago when the NFC West was atrocious? Well that’s not the case anymore.  Three teams finished with 10 or more wins.  Those teams being the number 1 seed Seattle Seahawks, reigning NFC Champions San Francsico 49ers, and Arizona Cardinals.  Not to mention its not like the Rams at 7-9 were anything to laugh about. Its without a doubt the new black and blue division in the NFL.

The Panthers aren’t a team built around Cam Newton anymore.

            This team is winning games not because of Cam Newton but more in large part to Luke Kuechly and that loaded defense.  Does it help that Cam Newton is there?  Yes. But now he doesn’t have to feel the need to shoulder the weight of the team on his back.  This team is dangerous right now.  Its not a team to take lightly if they are to find themselves in Seattle fighting for the right to represent the NFC.

The defensive coordinators halted the second coming of Jesus on the spread option.

            Sure did we see the spread option continue in the NFL this year? Yes.  But it wasn’t nearly as effective as it was last year.  When you get an entire offseason to prepare for the spread offense it certainly makes its less effective.  However teams that had mobile AND accurate quarterbacks still made life miserable for opposing defenses.  Those teams being the Seattle Seahawks and the Nick Foles led Philadelphia Eagles.  Whereas teams that had quarterbacks that were a bit more inaccurate saw their offenses take steps back.  Those teams being Washington, San Francisco and the Michael Vick led Eagles.

Steeler fans still think the NFL has it out for them.

After the last week of the season and all the blown calls in the San Diego Kansas City game last night its only fitting that Steeler nation is cry fowl again.  I cant begin to tell you how many status, tweets I saw about this last night. The conversations amongst these fans around the water cooler is definitely going to be about how Roger Goddell has it out for the Steelers.  Well you may have a case Steeler fans but maybe next year don’t start out 0-4.  Take care of business early and you wont have to count on other things to go your way.

The Houston Texans fans are quick to turn their back.

            This team for the past three years has been one of the most successful teams in the AFC.  Did they win the Super Bowl or anything?  No.  But they certainly put a good product out on the field.  After a terrible first three games under Matt Shaub the Houston faithful started mocking him.  Making sandwiches called the Matt Shaub Burger saying “Pick Six” toppings after all of his pick sixes to start the year.  To “top” it off when Matt Shaub went down with a nasty looking ankle injury the crowd cheered that he was down for the count.  Shame on you Texans fans. SHAME. ON. YOU.

 

The Raiders, Browns, Buccaneers, Jaguars, and Bills are still fighting for worst franchises in NFL football.

            While the Browns and Raiders have an early lead on the chasers its still the same swan song for fans of these franchises.  The Browns and Buccaneers have amassed talented rosters only to see the promise go unfulfilled.  Raiders and Jaguars were plagued by sloppy penalties, turnovers and a revolving door at QB.  Meanwhile the Bills were decimated by injuries all season long.  The question is who will turn it around the quickest?  One thing we do know is that these fans aren’t surprised to see their teams picking in the top end of the draft….Its customary for these teams.  Its like turkey on Thanksgiving.  Couldnt have it any other way.

Black Monday continued in the NFL.

It started late Sunday with the Browns firing Rob Chudzinski after one season.  Then came the firing of Greg Schiano of Tampa Bay, Jim Schwartz of Detroit, Mike Shanahan of Washington and Minnesota’s Leslie Frazier. The writing was on the wall for coaches like Schiano and Shanahan from mid season on.  However the inconsistency of Minnesota under Leslie Frazier is what did him in even with a playoff trip under his name last year.  Then came Jim Schwartz, sitting at 6-3 in a division when the Bears and the Packers were without their starting quarterbacks for the entire second half of the season. Just pencil the Lions in right? Nope they found a way to crap the bed.  Losing six of their final seven games.  Shocking to say the least.

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady led teams are again the teams that sit atop the AFC.

            No shocker here the teams that have the bye week in the AFC come from teams that have Tom Brady or Peyton Manning at the helm.  It only seems like a collision course for these two at Mile High in three weeks.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are the best of the worst.

            The Pittsburgh Steelers are the front runners to win the consolation bracket.  This team started so poorly only to see themselves finish 8-4 to end the season.  If it weren’t for Antonio Brown stepping out by a half inch on the final play against the Dolphins on that wild lateral filled finish in week 15 it would be the Steelers and not the Chargers that would be facing Cincinnati this week.  Below you can see just how close they came.

Nick Foles made NFL History.

            Nick Foles finished the year with a 27-2 touchdown to interception ratio.  Who would have seen that coming from Foles at the beginning of this year?  Certainly not me.  Foles also added a seven touchdown performance versus the Oakland Raiders tying the NFL record for most TD passes thrown in a game.  He sat the entire third quarter or I’m sure he would hold the record.

Chip Kelly added another win for the ex Pac-12 coaches.

            Chip Kelly put another notch in the Pac-12 alumni coach belts.  He (Oregon) along with Pete Carroll (USC) and Jim Harbaugh (Stanford) made the leap from the college ranks to the pro rank by winning their division in their first year at the helm.  All three are in the playoffs this year as well.  TAMPA HIRE DAVID SHAW!!!

Rex Ryan is still a great DEFENSIVE coach.

            Ok we can all make fun of how bad the Jets are at times.  But lets be honest what Rex Ryan was able to accomplish this year was impressive to say the least.  This team has absolutely ZERO offensive playmakers and still found a way to win eight games this year.  Ill let you take a pick of the litter in terms of Jet playmakers on offense and I would be willing to bet that not only would none of them start on any other NFL team but that only half would even crack the second team offense in other systems.  Now some of that can be pinned on Ryan for not addressing this in the draft but what he was able to squeeze out of this roster this year was great. Maybe it was the magic belly rubs?

The Rams won the gamble.

Two years ago the Rams traded away the rights to the number two spot in the NFL Draft to the Washington Redskins so they could draft RGIII.  What they received in return were three first round picks and a second rounder.  Well now the Rams, thanks to the Washington Redskin debacle this year, earned the number two pick in this years draft.  The Rams are already loaded and improving and now it will only get better after they won “the gamble”.

The teams at the top of the draft order this year were one year to early.

            Teams that finished at the bottom of the league were a bit premature with their ability to suck the most.  This years quarterback draft class is average to say the least, especially if Teddy Bridgewater goes back to school. Sure will Johnney football sell tickets?  Yes.  But I still don’t buy that he’s a franchise quarterback.  I look at him much as I did Vince Young.  But next year you have the likes of Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Bryce Petty and potentially Teddy Bridgewater.  I pray the Buccaneers are picking number 1 next year.  GM’s wont have to squint at all the names on the big board if they’re picking number one next year.  It will simply show a big name that even J-boo can read.  JAMEIS WINSTON.

If the Premier League Table were Reflective off Clubs Salaries

Here at Six Beers Deep Sports we like to look at things from all sorts of angles.  One of my pet peeves with sports that dont have salary caps has always been that I felt teams were simply buying wins.  Sure is it fair play when any club or team could spend as much as they want?  Sure.  But you see more parody in the NFL and NHL than you do in the MLB or Premier League because those leagues have salary caps that equal the teams out.  So the question is what would happen if you were to take the clubs/teams salaries and then factor that in their final point total or win total.  It would surely make things more interesting right?  It would help you have a better understanding on which front offices and who manages their budget the best.

So for this arguments sake lets take the final table from last years Premier League and adjust it taking into account the teams budget.  So for as an example of how we’re going to do this lets take Manchester City.  Their Salary in pounds is 200 million.  They ended the year with 78 points.  So to find out the number of points they earned by pounds spent we simply took the 78 points and divided it by their salary, in this case 200.  78/200 = .39.  So for every million pounds they spent they earned .39 points toward their final point total.

So putting our methods into action (See table below)  we can see all the Premier League clubs and their clubs budget next to their final points.  Based off this table we can see which clubs under-performed and what teams are over-performed.

The clubs that under-performed the most in order were QPR (.36) Manchester City (.39) Chelsea (.44) Liverpool (.48) Arsenal (.50) and Aston Villa at (.54).

The clubs that over-performed the most in order were Swansea (1.35) Southampton (1.1) Norwich (1.1) West Brom (1.0) and Everton (1.0).  These teams were the only teams that earned positive points in relation to their clubs budget.  Pretty impressive front offices at these clubs to say the least.

Clubs

Salaries in Pounds

2012/2013

Final Points

Points Per Pounds Spent

Manchester City
200£
78
0.39
Chelsea
172£
75
0.44
Manchester United
162£
89
0.55
Arsenal
144£
73
0.51
Liverpool
127£
61
0.48
Tottenham
93£
72
0.77
Aston Villa
75£
41
0.55
QPR
69£
25
0.36
Newcastle
65£
41
0.63
Sunderland
62£
39
0.63
Everton
62£
63
1.02
Stoke
55£
42
0.76
Fulham
55£
43
0.78
West Ham
51£
46
0.90
West Brom
48£
49
1.02
Norwich
41£
44
1.07
Southampton
37£
41
1.10
Wigan
37£
36
0.97
Reading
34£
28
0.82
Swansea
34£
46
1.35

So lets take the Premier League table and readjust it in relation to points earned during the 2012/2013 season and multiply it by each teams adjusted PPPS (Points per pounds spent) and see where the teams ended up.  For this example we will stick with Manchester City who finished the season with 78 points.  Their PPPS was .39.  So our formula for their readjusted points for Manchester City is  78 X .39 = 30.073, or 30 points.  This would be good for 14th place in the table.  A far cry from their 2nd place finish they ended up with before SBDS’s changes.

According to our SBDS Premier League table the club that would have taken the title would have been David Moyes Everton side with 64 points. Sorry Fergie, you dont end your career on top.  You actually lose out to your eventual replacement.  Mind blowing.  The teams that would fill the the Champions League spots (Highlighted in dark green) would have been Swansea with 62 points, followed by AVB’s Tottenham side with 56.  West Brom (Light Green) snuck in the Champions League playoff spot with 50 points just ahead of Manchester United (Silver) who would have to settle for a Europa spot with 49 points.  The teams that end up going down to the championship (In red) are QPR with a whopping 9 points.  A pathetic total to say the least. Bigger club Aston Villa also go down with 22 points, and joining them are Reading with 23 points.

What’s interesting in this is that two of the clubs in the SBDS adjusting table that got relegated (QPR and Reading)  got relegated in real life too.  The biggest jump in the rankings were Swansea who went from 9th to 2nd and Wigan who went from 18th to 11th.   Each jumping 7 spots respectively.  Reconfirming the thoughts that Michael Laudrup (Pictured Below) and Roberto Martinez were some of the Premier Leagues top managers. The biggest drops were of course Manchester City who went from 2nd to 14h. Dropping 12 spots. Confirming the firing of Roberto Mancini.  Chelsea weren’t to far behind them going from 3rd to 12th, who also fired their manager Rafael Benitez.  Along with the other disappointing sides were Liverpool who went from 7th to 15th.

Clubs

Final Points after the SBDS adjustments

Everton
64
Swansea
62
Tottenham
56
West Brom
50
Manchester United
49
Norwich
47
Southampton
45
West Ham
41
Arsenal
37
Wigan
35
Fulham
34
Chelsea
33
Stoke
32
Manchester City
30
Liverpool
29
Newcastle
26
Sunderland
25
Reading
23
Aston Villa
22
QPR
9

Its obviously something that no fan of teams like United, City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool will ever want to look at. But to the fan who hates leagues without salary caps its certainly something thats very entertaining.  You really get an appreciation for the clubs front offices and how the mangers produce results with seemingly less talented sides.  Dont worry you can be sure that Six Beers Deep Sports will produce another final table at the end of the 2013/2014 season to crown the TRUE champion of the Premier League.  But for now its Everton who have taken the title.

 

SBDS Weekly Podcast

00:00-28:30

Luis Suarez heroics and go over the Manchester City Arsenal game.

 

28:30-47:30

Winston Heisman, Discuss the National Title Game

47:30-60:00

Which Bowl game we think will be the best outside of the title game, Who is the best fit for Texas.

60:00-63:53

Random chatter from the lads.

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Song choice – Kryptonite – 3 Doors Down-  Because the only thing that can stop Luis Suarez is some Kryptonite.  It still might not be enough because the man is greater than Superman.

January Transfer Guide: Swansea

Now lets be honest, when its 11:59 on the 31st of December and everyone is getting ready to celebrate the start of the New Year. But people like Tuck Sauce and I are anxiously awaiting the start of the transfer window in the Premier League.  But where it really gets important and where people start to really tune in is when we start talking Swansea City transfer rumors! That’s when everyone starts to get all riled up and excited.  Am I right?!  People at this point are probably asking themselves who the hell is Swansea?  Are they some African team?  Well for all your background on Swansea check out one of our previous articles (Not to mention they’re Hambinos favorite team).   But in all seriousness lets dive into some of the players Michael Laudrup could be planning on bringing in this January.

Unfortunately for Swansea when you’re a lower tier team your buying of players has largely a lot to do with what others do to your team.  For Swansea’s sake it will have a lot to do with what teams will do in terms of potentially buying Michu or Ashley Williams.  Over the summer it was widely speculated that Arsenal were going to make a move for Spanish striker Miguel Perez Cuesta otherwise known as Michu.  Thankfully for the Swans fans Arsenal decided to dump their lump sum on the Real Madrid stand out Mesut Ozil.  With Michu’s recent call up to the Spanish National Team his asking price has gone up significantly, to the point where Michael Laudrup has upped the asking price to the range of 30 million pounds for his superstar.  Obviously if Swansea were to get that bid from a big team like Arsenal or Liverpool (The two clubs he has been linked with) they wouldn’t be able to turn it down.  That being said they would be able to reinvest that into big name players.  Which we will get to shortly.

The next big name player that could be on his way out of the Liberty Stadium is captain Ashley Williams.  Most people remember him because he was the one who according to Alex Ferguson could have “Killed Van Persie” with his kick to the head versus Manchester United last year.  But lets be honest Williams if he wanted to kill Van Persie he could do it any day, anytime.  He’s a tank, and Van Persie is just Fergies little princess.  That being said Mr. Williams is definitely the more likely of the two to be moved during the window.  We have seen on multiple occasions this year the glaring need in some of the top clubs in terms of their central defending.  Clubs like Manchester City, Arsenal, and Liverpool.  Now am I saying that Ashley Williams is at the level to be at City?  No, but he certainly cant be any worse than what Vincent Kompanys replacements have produced.  In all likelihood it’s looking more and more likely that he will go to Arsenal or reunite with his former boss Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool. Up until this afternoon I definitely thought he would be on his way to reunite with his old boss Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool. They have a chance to secure a Champions League spot and to do so they need to sure up their back four.  They have a great keeper in Simon Mignolet who has covered up some of the weaknesses but if they really want to contend Williams may be that guy. But Arsenal just watched their team get scorched for six goals against Manchester City.  And to make matters worse it looks like their center back Laurent Koscielny could be out for a while after suffering a deep laceration to his knee.  So its anyones guess where Williams could be heading but either way the asking price for the Swans captain will be in the neighborhood of 10-12 million pounds.

The last of the players to potentially leave Swansea is young left back Ben Davies.  Not a lot of people will know who Ben is unless you follow this team quite regularly but he’s a great attacking left back.  He makes great runs and always has great overlapping play.  Davies has already proved he can score goals in the league with a goal against Arsenal and West Brom earlier this year.  The team that’s linked with the Welsh back is Everton.  Why this makes sense is Roberto Martinez likes playing the tika-taka style football that Swansea also plays so he’s a good fit for the scheme.  With Manchester United being linked with Leighton Baines it would be a perfect replacement for Everton.  Not saying Davis is of the same quality as Baines but it certainly will make sense for the money and the age that Davies brings to the squad.

Now that we have gone over the potential players Swansea could lose in the transfer window lets talk about some of the players they could be bringing in to strengthen the squad.  It’s evident that Swansea still lacks depth in the squad to compete in Europa and the Premier League, and its showing most in their strikers.  Throughout the season Swansea have almost always been without one of their strikers.  Last week they had to play an entire game without a striker, all be it a 3-0 win over Newcastle.  The Bony Michu partnership has yet to hit full stride and Alvaro Vasquez has been anything but special this year.  So I expect Swansea to look for another striker.  If we’re going to throw out names Blackpools Tom Ince has to be on the top of the list.  Swansea and rival Cardiff were seeking his assets back over the summer and it fell through. But with the current injuries to the squad expect those talks to resume, especially if Cardiff show interest again in the youngster.  It wont be easy with suitors like Tottenham, Ajax and Inter all lining up for him but Swansea can almost guarantee something that none of these teams can.  And that little advantage is constant playing time.  Ince would provide that quick sharp movement that combines well with Wilfried Bony’s power and hold up play.  It would seem if Michu goes, this would be the ideal Swansea partnership going forward.

If Tom Ince falls through there have been rumors that Swansea was going to try and lure Juventus forward Fabio Quagliarella.  People say why would Quagliarella leave a loaded Juventes team to go to mid table side Swansea? Over the summer Fernando Llorente and Carlos Teves arrived to the Gaetano Scirea.  Unfortunately for Quagliarella it has significantly limited his playing time for the Italian side.  So the chance to have regular first team football should definitely tempt the 30-year-old Italian international player.  Remember he may be thinking that a move to Swansea could drastically increase his chances of working his way back into the national team set up with the World Cup looming just around the corner.

Anything can happen in the transfer window, unfortunately for the smaller clubs it isn’t what they can go out and buy, it’s whom they have to try and ward off.  It’s a very trying time for Swansea; they can’t afford to lose Michu or Ashley Williams.  But in the business side of every sport you have to make decisions and every player has a price tag that you can’t turn down.  Come January 31st Swansea will know if they will be fighting for a spot on the top side of the table or if they will be fighting relegation come April and May.