Archive for January, 2013

The Pro Bowl: Does Anyone Still Care?

pro bowl

Ah it’s that time of the year again, the NFL Pro Bowl. The National Football League’s effort to put on a exhibition game featuring the best players the game has to offer all on one field playing in beautiful Hawaii. Great idea right. However what is displayed on the field is a half assed snooze fest featuring the best players in the NFL who are not in the biggest game of the year (Super Bowl if you didn’t know), not injured, or players who couldn’t think of a good enough excuse to skip out. The only real reason to even go is to get a trip to Hawaii and the swag bag they give out.

The Pro Bowl has become such a joke that after the upset win over the New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens Linebacker Terrell Suggs told the Patriots to “Have fun at the Pro Bowl”.

The idea for the Pro Bowl is a fine one but it has a major problem. Football unlike basketball and baseball is a very tough sport to play and not play hard. When players play at 75% when they normally play games at 100% it is very noticeable and the product on the field suffers greatly. In football, you are taught to play 100 MPH until the whistle blows, hit the opposing players hard, and do whatever you can to get the win for your team. But its very difficult to keep that mentality when the atmosphere surrounding the game is all about relaxing and having fun rather than taking off someones head.

One major problem for the Pro Bowl is the possibility of injuries. Because football is a full contact sport, injuries always happen. So no team wants their best player to get injured in a meaningless exhibition game. And no player wants to get injured in a meaningless game and have the chance that the start to their next season for their actual team could be in jeopardy. As players like Alex Smith can tell us, getting injured and giving up your spot to another could have you looking for a new team. As a fan the only reason I would watch any part of the Pro Bowl would be to make sure players on my favorite team got through the game injury free.

Unlike the MLB, NBA, or NHL, the NFL’s all-star game is at the end of the season either the week before or the week after the Super Bowl. Some players are angry for making the playoffs but falling short of the big game and playing in an exhibition game is the last thing they want to do. Other players who missed the postseason have not played since week 17, almost a month ago, and its tough to get their motors running again for a meaningless game. There is no real ideal placement for the Pro Bowl to get the fans and players excited.Put in in the middle of the season like other sports and it would be tough to move the schedule of teams around it and the fact that players who did not get chosen to play would be getting basically another bye week in an already grueling season. Playing the game after the Super Bowl makes the game have no real excitement, no intensity between players, its basically like watching a walkthrough practice with pads on.

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The players often show up but never too much on the field. The idea of defense is non existent, which is why in back to back years the winning team has put up 50 plus points on the board. The offensive and defensive lineman are just there for show, not hitting each other too hard and not trying to get the quarterback or running back with much drive. The game breaks down into basically a 7 on 7 drill. Some players don’t even bother showing up, citing injuries as reasons to miss the game. For the 2013 Pro Bowl there will be 31 alternates playing for players either injured, in the super bowl, or who didn’t want to show up. All 3 quarterbacks for the NFC team chosen had to be replaced as well as several voted starters.

Even players and the commissioner of the NFL have realized the Pro Bowl is a pretty big embarrassment to the game. On October 24, 2012 in a interview with a Sirius XM show, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had second thoughts about the Pro Bowl taking place this year saying that if the players did not play more competitively, he is “not inclined to play it anymore”. Future Hall of Fame member Peyton Manning is begging players to play hard in the Pro Bowl, calling the play in the past few years “unacceptable”. If players and the head of the NFL have to ask players to get excited, put effort in and play hard in this game, maybe this game should no longer exist.

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The Pro Bowl has become a glorified two hand touch game played in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Its a joke to watch which is why hardly any NFL fans actually take the time to watch the game. The game is this sunday and I doubt I will even watch for a quarter and my favorite team, the Buffalo Bills, has three players in it thanks to the alternates rule (Running Back C.J. Spiller, Defensive Lineman Kyle Williams, and Safety Jairus Byrd). It may be time to either change up the format of the Pro Bowl drastically or just let it die entirely.

Oh and as for my pick? Ah… give me the AFC winning 76 to 62.

by Andrew Isaac

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Andrew’s NFL Championship Round Picks

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AFC Championship Game

Baltimore @ New England

The Patriots and the Ravens meet once again in a rematch of last years memorable AFC Championship Game where the Ravens had the Super Bowl in their hands and dropped it. Now they return this year to fight for the same prize, but on the Ravens side they have a little more inspiration then they have had in previous years. Now that the Super Bowl is in site, Ray Lewis in his final year will be pushing even harder (if that was even possible) to get back to the big game where he won his first ring over a decade ago. On the other sideline is another great to play the game, Tom Brady. He leads the Patriots back to the AFC Championship game where now it seems like a given every year. After last years tough loss to the Giants in the Super Bowl, the Patriots want redemption this year. Tom Brady will get the Patriots offense moving over the Ravens Defense to get out to a lead but the Ravens will find a way to get it close. The Patriots will pull away late and return to the Super Bowl. New England 27 Baltimore 20.

NFC-Championship

NFC Championship Game

San Francisco @ Atlanta

Speaking of teams returning to the Championship weekend, the San Francisco 49ers return after their own heartache last year. This year, lead by red hot QB Colin Kaepernick, the Niners have returned to the Championship game to extract a bit of revenge from the loss last year to the Giants. Playing the “Giants” this year will be the Atlanta Falcons who got their illusive playoff win last week by blowing a lead to the Seattle Seahawks and just getting it back to squeak out a win and advance. Speaking of future hall of famers who’s last ride will be this year, Tony Gonzalez has just about said he will hang up his cleats after this postseason and this is the farthest he has ever gone in the postseason. The Niners, after dismantling the Packers last week, will start fast against the Falcons but the Falcons will counter and the game will be close throughout. The Niners will score late and face off with the Patriots in the Super Bowl. San Francisco 31 Atlanta 28.

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Andrew’s NFL Divisional Round Picks

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Baltimore @ Denver
This is the reason why Denver brought in Peyton Manning, to win these deep postseason games and take the Broncos back to the super bowl. Peyton has already silenced all of his critics who didn’t believe he could play at his normal level again and now he must perform in the postseason to continue his magical season. One player standing in his way is Ray Lewis who in all likelihood is playing in his last game. Denver’s offense will pick apart the Raven defense and end the career of one of the best to play in the NFL. Denver 31 Baltimore 17.

Houston @ New England
Let’s all hope this will be a more competitive game than the week 14 beat down the Patriots put on the Texans. It should be after the Texans win last week over the Bengals and the added extra inspiration from the Boston Globe. However I still think the better team will win and that team is the Patriots. The Patriots offense needs to push around the Texans stout defense and possible defensive MVP J.J. Watt. The Patriots win, closer than the previous matchup, but still advance to the AFC Championship game in Denver. New England 27 Houston 14.

Seattle @ Atlanta
If Atlanta can’t win a playoff game at home this year, they may never. But they picked the worst matchup possible with the red hot Seahawks. It seems like the same story just about every year Atlanta is a top seed. They have a week off and play a low seed who is playing their best football and Atlanta plays flat and gets knocked out. They just can’t lose again. Matt Ryan will finally play a complete postseason game and the Falcons will eek out that illusive playoff win. Atlanta 20 Seattle 17.

Green Bay @ San Francisco
By far my favorite matchup of the weekend, the Packers vs the 49ers just has that classic game feel to it. This will be the first postseason game for the Niners electric young QB Colin Kaepernick and it will be interesting to see how he handles the moment. The Green Bay D will have to contain Kaepernick if they want a chance to win. The Packers offense will have to compete with the Niners always tough defense led by Aldon Smith. I will take Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to beat Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers and advance to the NFC Championship game. Green Bay 28 San Francisco 24.

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Andrew’s Wild Card NFL Picks

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Cincinnati @ Houston
Oh Houston, what happened to you? Two weeks ago you looked like a lock for the number one seed and now you could be the first team out of the playoffs. Now they run into winners of 7 of their last 8, Cincinnati. Cincinnati couldn’t have picked a better time to play the Texans and the combination of Andy Dalton to A.J. Green will be too much for the struggling Texans to handle. Cincinnati 27 Houston 17.

Indianapolis @ Baltimore
Earlier this week I was all but certain to take the Colts in this matchup. They are playing better football right now then the Ravens and Andrew Luck can make a huge difference in this matchup. But when Ray Lewis announced his retirement after this postseason making this week most likely his last home game, there is no way the Ravens can lose this one. Led by Ray Lewis one more time, the Ravens will squeak out a victory and send Ray off with a W in most likely his last home game. Baltimore 24 Indianapolis 23.

Minnesota @ Green Bay
The third meeting this year for these NFC North rivals will be a battle. Minnesota will travel into Lambeau Field with a little more swagger than in previous meetings coming off beating the Packers and getting into the playoffs because of it. Also having one of the favorites for MVP in your backfield doesn’t hurt either. The Pack will show up this week hungry and angry at the Vikings for last week and will show why when they are playing their best football, they are one of the most dangerous teams in the league. Green Bay 31 Minnesota 20.

Seattle @ Washington
I want to take Seattle in this one, I really do. But there is just something to the way RG3, Morris, and the Redskins are playing right now. Expect Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch to make it a very close game but Griffin will help the Redskins take this one. The fact that they are playing at home and not in Seattle helps Washington enormously and swings my vote to the Redskins. Washington 27 Seattle 20.

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Week 17 NFL Pick Standings

Week 17 Standings

Andrew Isaac: 12-4

Drew Kashmer: 11-5

Final Season Standings

Andrew Isaac: 170-86

Drew Kashmer: 166-90

Andrew Wins The Regular Season!

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