Monthly Archives: September 2016

Cam is coming to Atlanta to get some! Falcons-Panthers preview.

atlfalconsVs.
panthers

With Tampa Bay and especially New Orleans sputtering, the NFC South race may be between the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers. But more than a playoff race is at stake. Last Monday the anniversary of the reopening of the Superdome game the Saints the hope of proving once again that they own the Falcons. It didn’t happen. Next Sunday, the Falcons will be in a similar position. Carolina was 14-0 and two opponents with non-winning records left. They had clear sailing to 16-0.

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You know what happened. Don’t bullshit me.

Historically, the Falcons have tended to beat the Panthers.  And when the Panthers came to the Georgia Dome, it appeared that no matter how good the Panthers were… they were still the Panthers.

Now they want revenge. And Vegas has them getting it, despite them being 1-2 while the Falcons are 2-1. The logic is, “who has Atlanta beaten?” The 2-1 Raiders. Maybe their defense is statistically terrible, but how much of that is because they played Atlanta? Also — although analysts who track all teams might miss this detail — the Falcons, and for that matter, the Panthers, face a Saints team that is very different from the one the rest of the league faces.  For example, while the 2012 Saints were also horrible defensively, they twice held the 13-3 Falcons under 30 points and probably would’ve gotten the sweep if not for the 5 interceptions Drew Brees threw in Atlanta. Also, New Orleans twice came close to beating Atlanta to Carolina’s first loss last year. With a backup quarterback the first time. Plus, we faced them at their anniversary. Make no mistake, they gave it all they usually give the Falcons and Panthers.

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Nice of Brees to take time out of making commercials to play us.

As far as Carolina goes, who have they beaten? OK, Denver is really good. But losing to a Vikings team with a broken offense? If you think that excellent defense and horrible offense wins championships, I respectfully refer you to the Houston Texans and at least last year, the New York Jets.

Getting back to the rivalry, there’s actually a chance the Atlanta gets a decent pass rush going. Yes, it’s horrible. It’s always horrible. Nonetheless, we have averaged two sacks a game on Cam Newton over the last two seasons. Oh, and offensive tackle Michael Oher is out.

Do I think we can win this game? Yes. It all depends on how well the offense plays. If we get anything close to the amount of yardage we’ve been getting, we should win. But getting Julio Jones more involved can’t hurt. Perhaps the defenses we’ve been playing against have inflated the numbers. Then again, Carolina is on track to get 32 sacks compared to 40 in 2014 and 44 in 2015. And they’ve been up against bad Minnesota and San Francisco offenses, though San Fran did score 27 points. So I see little indication that it will be that easy for them the reach the backfield on defense. Finally, ball security has been a serious problem with seven turnovers in the last two games, four of which against that very bad San Francisco team.

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Go back to college.

The final point I want to make is that how this game will look is unpredictable. Because Atlanta has faced offense-first teams and Carolina has faced defense-first teams, I really can’t tell how the score will be. But I think that if the Falcons can put up points, they’ll win. RISE UP!!!

How high can we go? Alabama-Kentucky preview.

AlabamaIf this were college basketball, I would chalk this game up as a certain loss. Kentucky basketball is among the best of the best in their collegiate sport, whereas Alabama basketball finished barely above .500 last season.

But college football is a different story. At 4-0, Alabama seems headed for anywhere from a SEC West title to another National Championship. Kentucky is .500 and has given up an average of 35 points a game. The victor is clear.

Of course, when our basketball team meets John Calipari, it'll be clear on the other end. *Sigh*.

Of course, when our basketball team meets John Calipari, it’ll be clear on the other end. *Sigh*.

And the timing couldn’t be better. Damien Harris was hurt last Saturday and may not be 100%. We’ll have trials by fire for the three straight games afterwards: Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas A&M.

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19th century guns are no good against Alabama.

So what are the keys to this game? Just one key: Kentucky doesn’t have the talent to beat us. Their defense is terrible and they can’t compete with us in a shootout.

Since we Alabama fans know we’ll win and Kentucky fans are still waiting for basketball season, watch for something besides the outcome. I’ve said before that, thanks largely to how much Jalen Hurts has delivered as a quarterback, our offense looks much better than in the previous three or four seasons. So how many points will we score?

Me? I’m hoping for fifty-one. If we get less than 42, I’m be disappointed. ROLL TIDE!!!

Crashing the party. Falcons@Saints recap.

Falcons win!

Falcons win!

Predictably, this Monday Night Football game was a tribute to the New Orleans Saints a decade after the reopening of the Superdome. Actually, last year’s Thursday Night Football game had more or less been as well, despite there being no anniversary as such. They didn’t go too far this time. Whereas the last year’s tribute game began with a narration about how great New Orleans was and that you had to respect the capital of the state in which Huey Long and David Duke became powerful politicians even if, “God forbid,” you cheer for the Falcons. In other words, we were made out to be bad guys.

To be fair, it hasn’t been easy for Saints fans to be humble, at least as far as this rivalry goes. they have been consistently beating us for ten years. So even though we’ve been playing better than them so far this season, I feared that it wouldn’t matter. After all, we had a better record than them last year when we missed the playoffs on the two games we lost to them. Plus, they’d especially elevate their play on this historic occasion. Not to mention that they were desperate for a win. Go 0-3 and you’re pretty much dead.

Well, your playoff hopes were probably riding on this, so why not?

Well, your playoff hopes were probably riding on this, so why not?

In particular, would the Saints celebrate by repeating Steve Gleason’s blocked punt for a touchdown? Some on Twitter were putting up the #neverpunt hashtag in anticipation. It didn’t happen. Instead, De’Vante Harris muffed an attempt to return a punt to keep Atlanta on offense and LaRoy Reynolds recovered it at New Orleans’ 11. How’s that for irony?

Tied 7-7, the rest of the first half was all Falcons, outscoring the Saints 21-10, though they did get an amazing 57-yard field goal to enter Halftime. Second half consisted of score trades. We got up 35-17 on a score early in the third quarter. They did fight back, but couldn’t stop us from scoring more. In fact, their offense wasn’t perfect as Drew Brees’ no pick streak was broken by a defensive touchdown.

Lifelong Saints fan Deion Jones is not showing any love for his former team. Good!

Lifelong Saints fan Deion Jones is not showing any love for his former team. Good!

We could have blown them out because a huge run by Devonta Freeman took us in range of another easy touchdown near the end. Instead, we just took a knee.

How did we get so much offense going? Believe it or not, Matt Ryan only had 240 passing yards. However…

The Flash and his sidekick.

The Flash and his sidekick.

Good offensive line play too. Not only were holes opened up for Freeman and Coleman, Cameron Jordan was held in check. A year after getting 4 sacks in two games on Matt Ryan, pressure was largely prevented.

Yeah, this offense is on fire! But then again, we have yet to hold a team under 28 points. Part of it may be the rookies at linebacker and strong safety, but our pass rush looks no better than last year. If this turns out to not merely be a work in progress, defensive line has to be the top priority in the offseason.

I’m not ready to make predictions about this season yet, but it’s encouraging to embarrass the Saints in the setting in which you know they gave us everything they had it. No, they’re not good or even average, but if the Dolphins can beat the Patriots repeatedly at home and the Rams can beat the Seahawks three times in a row, then this is a great victory! RISE UP!!!

Next week…panthers

This is who he is

Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump reacts during the first presidential debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas JacksonIt was believed by many that Donald Trump would tone it down for last night’s debate. He would act in a mild-mannered, civil way. He would have no embarrassing moments like those he had earlier in the campaign. And with polls tight and expectations down, he’d be declared the victor by the media and possibly take the lead in the presidential election.

It didn’t happen. He turned in a miserable performance. According to the CNN/ORC snap poll of debate viewers, 62% of them believe Hillary won the debate. Only 27% believe Trump did. I was watching the twitter reactions along with the debate and his supporters disappeared after a while, although #TrumpWon has emerged after the fact, based on cherry-picked website polls.

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Actually, many of those people wouldn’t be caught dead in Egypt, but you get the idea.

What was so terrible about Trump’s performance? Well, for starters he interrupted Clinton a reported total of fifty-one times. That’s bad enough in and of itself, but when you have a reputation for sexism and are up against a female opponent, it’s downright devastating. Also, he looked grumpy throughout the entire debate, which hurt his attacks on Clinton quite a bit. Truth be told, he probably should have opted to save his email and Clinton Foundation attacks for a more competitive debate. Of course, this is presuming a lot about Trump’s self-awareness.

Clinton, on the hand, looked very presidential,  had a pleasant demeanor about her throughout and seemed concerned rather than vicious when she attacked Trump on his tax returns and history of sexism. If I’m not mistaken, Clinton never brought up Trump University, so it will be available for a later debate.

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Despite the under-reporting of this scandal, it’s probably still coming.

Perhaps Trump never had a chance to win this debate. He wasn’t remotely impressive in the Republican debates but succeeded by throwing red meat to his base. Problem is, that wouldn’t work in the general election, what with it being decided by indies. But his bad attitude truly made the worst of things. But he’s gotta be him. He has a long history of making racist and sexist remarks, which may merely be because tabloid and reality stars feed on controversy. Now, in a realm in which there actually is such a thing as bad publicity, Trump’s in way over his head.

If Clinton truly needed a boost to salvage her lead, she probably got it last night. And the first debate is almost always the most important. Example: President Obama’s debate meltdown in 2012 that changed the polls from an Obama lead to a virtual tie, even as Obama won the other two debates. So Trump’s best chance to secure victory just might have come and gone.

Different definition of victory. Alabama-Kent State recap.

Alabama

Alabama wins!

I pretty much gave Kent State no chance in Hell. I had given USC a chance in Hell and Western Kentucky a realistic chance. I still believe that had we not irritated W. KY quarterback Mike White all game, that one would have been close. So no one can call me a blind homer. You might say that the Atlanta Falcons have made me a pessimist, but I’m also a Nashville Predators and Atlanta Hawks fan, so it’s not like Alabama is my only experience of winning.

Anyway, with a 41-0 score at Halftime, this game was over before the field was painted. We passed down the field; we ran all over the field; we prevented Kent State from budging the ball; even when Jalen Hurts was pressured, he managed to get well beyond the line of scrimmage before getting tackled.

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“Here’s my articulate coach’s advice for when pressure comes: run like f*ckin’ Hell!”

It got to the point where backup quarterbacks got a significant combined percentage of snaps. In fact, garbage-ass Blake Barnett got a majority of his pass attempts and his first touchdown of the season. Oh, he was still statistically awful, but he threw his first touchdown!

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My aren’t you special!

Why was Barnett even on the field? Probably because we couldn’t lose And Nick Sabin and Lane Kiffin wanted to not risk Hurt’s health. And perhaps to give the backups some on-the-job practice. Smart, ’cause Barnett having to play at his current rate of performance is horrifying!

When a shitty backup quarterback gets to score on you, you’re not good. At all. No offense to Kent State fans, but you’ve got a long way to go.

Frankly, when you’re watching your team play a game of this sort, you shouldn’t look for a win or a loss. You should think more in terms of miscellaneous feats like the Achievements and Trophy systems on the XB One and PS4 that you can earn only by doing really difficult things. What would they be for the Crimson Tide?

For starters, we got 41 at Halftime and could have had 70 if we wanted them. So despite the stats (which meant nothing with Barnett and Bateman under center a lot), we got that Trophy, which is the more appropriate term for this subject.

Defensively? Kent State couldn’t get 170 yards of offense. So that’s good.

The only real Trophy left to get: a shutout. At least officially, Kent State never scored. They did enter chip shot range down  48-0. They could have scored but went for it on fourth down and didn’t get it. But we didn’t ask them tho go for it. So we got that trophy as well.

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‘Cause if there’s one thing we need, it’s more trophies.

All in all, we accomplished even the altered definition of victory. ROLL TIDE!!!

Next week…

kentucky

Why Nintendo going mobile is a good move

nintendomobileWith Pokemon Go an incredible success, Nintendo had gotten better recognition than it has at any point since 2009 or 2010, the years the Wii boom ended. For all you can say about the people who walked into traffic playing Pokemon Go (and I do question the decision to require people to walk as they play, which was asking for a disaster), there’s no question that people love this game.

Capitalizing on this success, Nintendo has wasted no time releasing plans for a mobile Mario game: Super Mario Run. This has some gamers disappointed. They don’t like simple games meant to be accessible to casual gamers and as so many gamers start with Nintendo, they don’t like losing the company to these other people.

Here are the reasons why I must disagree:

1.) Console gamers don’t play Nintendo anymore. Nintendo has always been the most casual of all the console giants. While there have been exceptions like Metroid and Goldeneye, Nintendo has generally favored simple titles like MarioZelda, and Wii Sports. Additionally, such simple third party games as Mega Man and Castlevania have had Nintendo as their natural homes.

Not a Nintendo player.

Not a Nintendo player.

Sure, part of this is Nintendo’s own fault. Famously, it has always had a third party developer-hostile strategy that worked in the immature industry of the late 1980s, but not now; not for decades. But you can’t ignore that console gamers have seen Nintendo as something you grow out of and that casuals don’t. If you didn’t want Nintendo to enter mobile gaming, you should have bought their systems.

2.) Give them a chance. Do all games have to be complicated? I’m not a mobile fanboy by any means, but I have played Plants vs. Zombies and Angry Birds and found them to be quite fun. Simple gameplay can be great gameplay.

Besides, if you think a title this gore-dependent is "hardcore" or "sophisticated," you've got bigger problems than Nintendo.

Besides, if you think a title this gore-dependent is “hardcore” or “sophisticated,” you’ve got bigger problems than Nintendo going mobile.

3.) You don’t have to buy a Nintendo console anymore. While I’m not sure I’d recommend that Nintendo abandon the consoles wholesale, gamers who like Nintendo’s franchises but fear slapping down a lot of money for systems that have nothing else are liberated.

4.) Technology is not a problem (for the most part). Some may argue that technical limitations of the mobile market will decrease the quality of these games, but other than Super Smash Bros. and maybe one or two other exceptions, the basic nature of these games make them so that they do not require much power. The only sacrifice is graphics, which didn’t much help Nintendo beat Sony in the N64 and Gamecube eras.

5.) It’s only Nintendo. As noted, Nintendo has always favored simple games. Sure, it’s been very inventive in spinning new twists, but at the end of the day, it’s casual gamer’s biggest repper.

"Imma casual icon!"

“Imma casual icon!”

So if Nintendo has always been making simple games for casual gamers anyway, what has this move really changed?

In conclusion, this is a good move on Nintendo’s part with few drawbacks.

Discipline, discipline, discipline! Falcons@Saints preview.

Falcons win!At

saintsThere are some teams I really hate. The San Francisco 49ers, Boston Celtics, Auburn Tigers, LSU Tigers, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Mets, and New Orleans Saints. And this week, the Atlanta Falcons are coming to the Saints’ Superdome.

Why do I hate this team? Well, for starters, the rivalry between these two of the first southern NFL teams dates back almost fifty years. That’s one way to build a hated rivalry. Another thing is that this team (warning to the easily offended: stop here) represents probably the worst state of the union. Louisiana can match up with with any other ridiculed state’s reputation for bigotry, political corruption (Huey Long, Edwin Edwards, William Jefferson, David Vitter), organized crime (possibly the mafia’s lone significant foothold in the South), and being close to last in everything.

I just have to laugh when Saints fans, despite supporting the representatives of this sad state, have the gall to bitch about what a dump Atlanta, if not the state of Georgia as a whole, supposedly is.disciplinedisciplinediscipline1

Now that I’m through with that rant, I can move on to this game. While the Falcons have historically dominated the Saints, things have changed a lot since Drew Brees came to New Orleans. Last year was one of several in which they swept us. Now we go to the Superdome in what I assume will include a narration about the ten-year anniversary of the post-Katrina game, complete with replays of the infamous blocked punt.

Can we win this time? With Matt Ryan finally seeming to have adjusted to Kyle Shanahan’s scheme, Alex Mack at center and what appears to be a more complete receiving corps than last year, I’m not worried about our offense repeating last year’s turnovers that cost us the games against the Saints, along with a number of others. What does concern me is defensive bungles.

With two games in the books, our defense is the 4th worst in the NFL rankings, but it hasn’t been as consistently bad as some have thought. two or three Tampa Bay touchdowns and another couple Oakland touchdowns were enabled by oafish defensive penalties on third down that extended drives that were about to end. Otherwise, instead of 1-1 we’re 2-0 with a blowout of Oakland!

Watch for these on third down.

Watch for these on third down.

So here’s my main key to the game: get the defense to play more disciplined. Don’t give Drew Brees extra chances. He’ll make you pay. If we can just avoid that, I think we can impair New Orleans’ offense enough to come out on top. RISE UP!!!