KISS’ “Destroyer” Turns 45

by Terri Bey

Do you remember the very first album you ever bought with your own money? Do you remember the album that turned you into a fan of that band? Well, the album “Destroyer” by KISS that I bought with my own money which turned me into a KISS fan for life was released on this day, March 15, 1976, 45 years ago. Let me tell you how it happened. When I was in grade school. During recess, a classmate had brought in a spooky looking album with what looked like to me, four grossly painted guys in ugly makeup and ghoulish costumes. The large letters on the record cover in red said, “KISS” and in tiny letters was the word, “Destroyer.” I was so grossed out as a 9 year old. I was wondering if the music was any good. Remember, I was a 9 year old.

When the record started to play the first song, “Detroit, Rock City,” my ears pricked up. I thought the music was pretty good. Only the first side of the album was played, as when my then classmate was trying to turn the record over, some girl took it from him and the record fell and broke. Regardless, I was hooked. This band’s music was terrific, despite the ghoulish looks.

A couple of weeks later, I went with some older friends to Sam Goody’s in Woodbridge Center in Woodbridge, New Jersey and bought “Destroyer.” Yes, readers, I am aging myself. When I brought it home, my mother was not happy and initially refused to let me keep the record. However, she relented and I played the record to death. The one song that annoyed my mother was the repetitive, “Do You Love Me,” so I had to avoid playing it. As I looked at the album cover and figured out whom was who, the one member that attracted me was the one who looked like a space figure. It was original guitarist Ace Frehley, the Spaceman. He became my favorite member of the band, and still is, even though I love every one who has been and is currently in the band. I eventually got other KISS albums, but it was “Destroyer” which made me a KISS ARMY member for life.

In this blog, I will be giving my personal opinion of each song and discuss how I have felt about the song over the years. I am not going to go over any of the origins of the song or do any serious analysis. This will be a fun blog where I will be discussing an album that means a great deal to me on it’s 45th Anniversary of its release. I hope you enjoy this blog. Feedback is welcomed and encouraged.

MY ANALYSIS OF “DESTROYER” by KISS

  • Album Title: “Destroyer”
  • Producer: Bob Ezrin
  • Band: KISS
  • Personnel: Paul Stanley (Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar), Gene Simmons (Bass, Lead Vocals), Ace Frehley (Lead Guitar, Vocals), Peter Criss (Drums, Lead Vocal), Dick Wagner (guitar solo on “Sweet Pain and “Flaming Youth,” and the Harlem Boys Choir

“Detroit, Rock City” (Paul Stanley, Bob Ezrin)

Lead Vocals: Paul Stanley

This is one of my all-time favorite KISS songs. I love the beginning, where Gene Simmons is reading the report of a youth getting killed by getting into a head-on collision with a Mack Truck. The song’s subject is about a young man who on the way to said show and runs into a Mack Truck. I love the storytelling in this song. The lyrics, “Twelve O’Clock, I gotta rock.” “There’s a truck ahead, lights staring at my eyes.” tell a vivid story of the kid who about to die. I love the car crash at the end, as well. Out of the car crash, you can hear a distorted guitar sound, which leads into the next song.

Source: KISS Official YouTube Channel

“King of the Night Time World” (Stanley, Kim Fowley, Mark Anthony, Ezrin)

Lead Vocals: Paul Stanley

I liked this song quite a bit when I first heard it. I have since learned that “King of the Night Time World,” was originally done by Kim Fowley and The Hollywood Stars. Regardless, over the years, this song has become one of my favorite KISS tunes. Actually, it has become my favorite song on this album. The song is a fun party song. I wish this song would be put back in the current setlist. I will talk about that later.

Source: KISS Official YouTube Channel

God of Thunder” (Stanley)

Lead Vocal: Gene Simmons

Yes. Paul Stanley wrote this song. This is the definitive song about the Demon Character that Gene Simmons has played on that KISS stage for nearly 50 years. The lines “command you to kneel” and “darkness to please me” are so awesome and are indicative of how great a songwriter Paul Stanley is. “I am the lord of the wastelands.” Yep. That is the Demon.

Source: KISS Official YouTube Channel

“Great Expectations(Gene Simmons, Ezrin)

Ludwig Van Beethoven is my favorite classical composer and my all-time favorite musician. What does that have to do with this album or song? Well, if you listen closely, the melody from “Great Expectations” is from Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata, Sonata No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 13. I could see Simmons and Ezrin getting credit for the lyrics, but Herr Beethoven should have gotten a mention. After all, it is his piece, that the song’s melody is based upon. The song is obviously about Gene flirting with some wide-eye fan and how the fan is wishing she could be with him, etc. The addition of the Harlem Boys Choir is a great touch.

I used to really love this song, because of the Beethoven connection. Over the years, I don’t think the song holds up, because of the lyrics. I mean, they are the typical “I want to screw the girl in the audience” type of lyrics.

Source: KISS Official YouTube Channel

“Flaming Youth” (Ace Frehley, Stanley, Simmons, Ezrin)

Lead Vocals: Paul Stanley

This song was just alright, in my opinion. I was never in love with it. I had to be in the right mood to listen to it and it was just “filler” to me. This song and the following song, “Sweet Pain” featured Dick Wagner on lead guitar, as Ace Frehley did not show up for sessions. This was one of those anthem-like songs that Ezrin wanted the band to write, so the band would “expand their horizons.”

Source: KISS Official YouTube Channel

“Sweet Pain” (Simmons)

This is another “screw me” song from Simmons with different kind of lyrics. I have always found this song annoying, so I am not exactly in love with it. This song and “Flaming Youth” can be thrown out the window, as far as I am concerned. This song and “Flaming Youth” don’t hold up at all. Dick Wagner plays lead here, too.

Source: KISS Official YouTube Channel

“Shout It Out Loud” (Stanley, Simmons, Ezrin)

Lead Vocals: Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons

This anthem and concert staple is a pretty cool tune. I like this song quite a bit, even though at this point in my life, I really could do without hearing it. One idea for the album was to have more anthems, and this song certainly is. Personally, as the saying goes, I am just “over” this song.

Source: KISS Official YouTube Channel

“Beth” (Peter Criss, Stan Penridge, Ezrin)

Lead Vocal: Peter Criss

Here is the song that became a hit for the band. The song was a “B” side to “Detroit, Rock City” and DJs started playing “Beth.” I liked the song right away, when I first heard it. Peter Criss, who also has a great rock voice, had the perfect voice for this song. The song had become a concert staple, when Peter was in the band, and is still a concert staple with Eric Singer in the band. The late Eric Carr recorded a version which appears on “Smashes, Thrashes and Hits” (1988), as well.

Source: KISS Official YouTube Channel

“Do You Love Me” (Stanley, Fowley, Ezrin)

Lead Vocals: Paul Stanley

This song is just OK. The song is about another interaction with a fan. However, this time, Paul asks said fan if the fan “really loves” him for him or for his fame and money, etc. The song is so repetitive and I don’t think it is particularly special. If I am in the right mood for it, I will listen to it and enjoy it. I would drop this song from the setlist and put “King of the Night Time World” in its place. I realize the band loves to play songs from “Destroyer,” and I respect that, but I think “King of the Night Time World” would be a great replacement for this song. I just think “Do You Love Me” is tedious.

Source: KISS Official YouTube Channel

“Rock and Roll Party” (Stanley, Simmons, Ezrin)

This is just some sort of instrumental. Nothing to comment on.

Source: KISS Official YouTube Channel

OVERALL CONCLUSION:

Forty-five years after “Destroyer’s release, does the album hold up? I would say a resounding “YES.” Even though there are a couple of songs I am not crazy about, like “Sweet Pain” and “Flaming Youth,” overall, the album sonically and musically is just a fresh and just as good as it was, when it was first released. The first three songs that kick off the album are classics. Paul Stanley’s song writing shines particularly on those three songs, as well as the anthem, “Shout It Out Loud.” The diversity of the album, using various styles of music, such as classical, heavy metal, etc., is another great quality. I highly recommend this album as a rock fan and not just a KISS fan. “Destroyer” is an overall album that should be in every music fan’s collection.

That is my blog about the album that not only made me a KISS fan, but changed my life. If I hadn’t become a KISS fan, I wouldn’t have met many of the great friends I have now. I have had the pleasure of traveling to see the band and meeting ever member who has been in the band, with the exception of Vinnie Vincent and sadly, the late Eric Carr. I am very fortunate and blessed to have done so, thanks to this great album.

Happy 45th Anniversary to the KISS album, “Destroyer.”

FEEDBACK:

Email: Alydace@yahoo.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/missedgehead

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/gioponti

Posted in Music | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The On and Off the Field Aftermath of Super Bowl LV

by Terri Bey

It has been a couple of days since the G.O.A.T, Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady led his team to a rout of the then defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, who were led by QB Patrick Mahomes, by a score of 31-6. I needed a couple of days to process everything that has happened, both on the field and off the field. There is much to unpack concerning the game itself, that is true. There is also quite a bit of fallout concerning the game, concerning some very agenda-driven reactions and narratives being pushed by certain groups. There is much to unpack and I have quite a bit to say about it.

I am not going to do a lot of the off-field stuff as I think it takes away from the game, but I will discuss it. People had some strange takes. It will be in the second section of this blog, as the first section will discuss the game.

So, without further ado, here is my recap of Super Bowl LV and the aftermath, both on and off the field. I hope you will enjoy this blog and feedback is encouraged and welcomed.

SECTION 1: AN ANALYSIS OF THE GAME:

Overall Analysis: My readers, you can call what happened in Tampa a shellacking, a beat-down, an ass-whooping, or whatever you like. I am going to use the following song, by P.O.D. to sum up what I saw from Tampa Bay:

I had picked the Buccaneers to win the Super Bowl and had stuck with the pick all season, despite their growing pains, but I certainly wasn’t expecting a complete annihilation on both sides of the ball. Let’s examine why.

The Buccaneers learned quite a bit from their 27-24 Week 12 Loss to the Chiefs. The offensive line blocked well for Brady, who threw 3 TDs and 0 INTs. Two of the TDs were thrown to TE Rob Gronkowski and the other was caught by WR Antonio Brown. What really helped the offense was the run game. Great running by RB Leonard Fournette. The run game opened up the play-action passing game and gave Tom Brady time in the pocket. The Buccaneers had a more balanced offensive attack. Great job by Super Bowl MVP Brady, head coach Bruce Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.

Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles should have been voted co-MVP along with Tom Brady. Bowles called a perfect defensive game. The Buccaneers laid off the blitzing and only blitzed about 5 times all game. They brought only 4 guys and used 2 single high safeties. Tampa Bay defenders Shaq Barrett, Ndamukong Suh, Jean Pierre-Paul were relentless. They were just terrorizing Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and chasing him all over the place. They forced him to run to his left, instead of his right. Tampa’s defense also did a great job of preventing WR Tyreek Hill and WR Travis Kelce from being their usual selves.

Looking at the Chiefs, I think their head coach Andy Reid and staff were just flat out out-coached. I also think they were coaching arrogantly. What I mean is that they went into the game with the mindset of, “We beat the Buccaneers the last time and don’t need to change anything.” The Chiefs figured that they were going to walk into Tampa and play the same way. I didn’t see or notice any sort of adjustments. It appeared to me that they thought that Mahomes would be able to work his magic like usual, and they’d repeat. I will say that Mahomes threw some otherworldly passes. That I will say. People will say that their offensive line was battered up, with LT Eric Fisher and Matthew Schwartz out. Well, you have to play with the players you got. I remember in the 2015-16 AFC Championship Game in Denver, CO, also in a losing effort, that Tom Brady was behind a Patriots offensive line that was similarly battered. Good enough for Brady. Good enough for Mahomes. I don’t think it was Mahomes’ toe, either. It was all the pressure from the Tampa Bay defense.

Other Tidbits:

Of course, the referees made their presence felt. There was the usual nonsense spewed that “Brady gets all the calls,” usually by folks who are not football fans. All the calls were legitimate, even the ones called AGAINST the Buccaneers. Funny how no one complained about the ones which went against the Buccaneers. I have a little more to say about this later. The only one I thought was ticky-tacky was the one called against the Chiefs for pass interference, when Buccaneers WR Mike Evans was “tripped up.” I thought that one was the only one that was a little iffy. The rest of the referee calls were straight up legitimate.

In the next section, I will be discussing a particular referee call that got a lot of people’s attention.

Tampa Bay QB Tom Brady won his 7th Super Bowl and reinforced his legacy as the G.O.A.T. Brady also won his 5th Super Bowl MVP. It is really unfathomable to think that Tom Brady, at 43 years old, would not only go to his 10th Super Bowl, but win it with a new team, one season after leaving the New England Patriots, with whom he had won 6 previous Super Bowls in 9 previous appearances. Brady has led a team who was 7-9 last year, and had not been in the playoffs for 13 years to a Super Bowl win. This is an incredible feat.

In my view, we are witnessing pure greatness before our very eyes. You are not going to see this kind of dominance again. Brady’s greatness deserves to be appreciated.

Unfortunately, as you will see in Section II, there are people who are trying to discredit Brady with some strange takes.

SECTION II: ANALYZING SOME STRANGE OFF THE FIELD TAKES

I have seen some people discredit Tom Brady, but seeing the Social Justice Warriors, the Wokerati, the Woke Crowd, or whatever you want to call these people, triggered by Tom Brady is a sight to see. They go on their Woke Twitter accounts and make outlandish comments and when normal people like myself call these folks out on their horse manure, these woke crowd people will play the victim and some will even make their account “private.” What babies. You are going to falsely accuse Brady of being a racist and when people prove you to be a LIAR, you are going to run and hide?

The woke crowd on Twitter and Facebook were whining how Brady wore that MAGA Hat and he was a “terrible person” and he was “a loser.” It didn’t matter to them that Brady has never done one thing that was racist, nor did it matter that Brady never said he supported Trump politically. Brady has not done anything that states his political views. These Social Justice Warriors want to try to think for everyone and try to force their opinions on everyone else. People have to believe Brady is racist because of a damned hat, because these Social Justice Warriors say so? Get out of here.

Remember I previously said there would be a particular call I would discuss later? Well, here we go. During the first half, Tampa Bay QB Tom Brady and Kansas City DB Tyrann Mathieu were jawing at one another. After one TD, Mathieu aggravated Brady and Brady ran down to him. Mathieu then stuck his finger in Brady’s face, cause the referee to throw the flag on Mathieu for “unsportsmanlike conduct.” Brady did apologize after the game via text to Mathieu for the jawing and trash talking.

What is particularly interesting about this incident is this tweet which Tyrann Mathieu posted after the game, but then deleted:

This was very interesting. If you read it carefully and judging by the way he wrote it, one could get the impression that he could be, what I call, “pulling a Myles Garrett.” What I am referring to is the incident where during the 2020 NFL Regular season, near the end of a game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland, Browns DE was suspended for hitting Steelers backup QB Mason Rudolph in the head during a scuffle of some sort. Garrett made a claim that Rudolph supposedly used a racial term, which the NFL mics didn’t pick up.

What I think happened here is that Mathieu tried to imply Brady said something, until he realized that Brady was mic’d up, and then Mathieu had to delete it. Trust me. If Brady was caught on a LIVE MIC saying something “racist,” believe me, CBS would have announced it and ESPN and social media would have had that out in two shakes. There is no doubt about it.

Of course, we have the Brady haters in the media. Shall we start with ESPN’s Max Kellerman? How that man has a job, I have no idea. He was asked by Molly Qerim on “First Take,” about Brady’s Super Bowl run, “Is this the greatest playoff run in Super Bowl history?” OF course, Kellerman says, “No.” and gives this nonsense about how both of ELI MANNING’S playoff runs were better. Did I say that Kellerman and Qerim are Giants’ fans? Kellerman was absurd. Of course, because Manning beat Brady both times, that is why Kellerman said that. Panelist Marcus Spears just ripped Kellerman and even Qerim, the Giants fan, disagreed with Kellerman.

The other Brady hater who said something stupid was FS1’s Rob Parker. He is a notorious hater of Mr. Brady. Chris Broussard asked Parker if he will change his mind and say Brady is the “G.O.A.T.” Predictably, Parker said, “No way. No how.” Parker then whined about how “weak” reporters are “jumping on the bandwagon.” Of course, it is very difficult to take Rob Parker seriously, when about 5-6 years ago, during the Deflategate horse manure, Parker said that Tom Brady was “Lance Armstrong with a football.” Well, that comment comes from a man who has a vote on the MLB Hall of Fame, or at least had, at least a year ago, who voted for BARRY BONDS to be inducted in to the Hall of Fame. I believe “Character” is one of the qualifications of the Hall for voters to consider. Yes, Rob Parker voted for Barry “the cream and the clear” Bonds into the Baseball Hall of Fame. I’d take Parker’s words about Brady with a grain of salt.

What will these Brady haters do when Brady FINALLY retires? I mean, slamming Tom Brady is a cottage industry. It’s sad, but true.

However, there are plenty of folks like myself who appreciate greatness and are going to be along for the ride.

Thank you for reading.

Feedback is below.

FEEDBACK:

Email: Alydace@yahoo.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/missedgehead

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan

Posted in NFL, Politics, Sports, The NFL, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Wrap-Up of Super Bowl Week and My Super Bowl 55 Preview and Prediction

by Terri Bey

Despite the COVID pandemic and the prognosticators of doom, Super Bowl LV is just about upon us. This Sunday, February 7th, at Tampa, Florida’s Raymond James Stadium, the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs of the AFC will take on the NFC representative Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers will be playing in their home stadium, which is also in the host city, and that is the first time in Super Bowl history this has happened. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, age 25 and Buccaneers QB Tom Brady, age 43 have the largest age gap between two starting Super Bowl quarterbacks in Super Bowl history of 18 years and 45 days. Mahomes was in kindergarten when Brady won his first Super Bowl. Buccaneers QB Tom Brady is starting his 10th Super Bowl and is looking to win his 7th ring, while Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes is hoping to lead his team to back to back championships, which hasn’t been done since the New England Patriots did that in 2004-2005.

I am definitely looking forward to this game, regardless of who wins. It should be a good game. I usually look forward to “Super Bowl Week.” Of course, if this were a normal Super Bowl Week, both teams would have been in Tampa on Monday and would have been asked some of the usual softball question and also some off the wall questions. There would have been a whole bunch of activities for children and such. Sadly, the pandemic took that all away. Hopefully, next year, some of that can come back. However, pandemic or no pandemic, there was some sort of Super Bowl Week, where both teams were asked questions, even though it was done virtually. There was other off-the-field stuff that happened during this week that involved other teams too. Last, but not least, Super Bowl Week ends with the announcement of the 2021 Profootball Hall of Fame Class.

In this blog, I will be examining some of what has transpired during Super Bowl Week. I will do my best to keep that short, because my readers likely have heard all of it, already. Besides, I am pretty sure my readers want to know which team I am picking to win Super Bowl LV. I hope you enjoy this blog, as this is my favorite one to write.

SUPER BOWL WEEK WRAP-UP

Tom Brady had a hat in his lockerroom and it is still triggering people. Oh brother. Even after the NFC Championship Game, this stupid nonsense over a SIX YEAR OLD photo of a MAGA HAT in Brady’s locker started percolating. All over social media, the woke crowd started calling out Brady and bringing up Colin Kaepernick, etc. This week, known Brady hater Shannon Sharpe on FS1 tried to portray Brady as a racist, saying that Brady gets a pass for his associations/friendship with Trump because he is white and if he were black, he wouldn’t get a pass. Good lord. There are plenty of celebrities of color who openly support Donald Trump, Mr. Sharpe. Have you ever heard of Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher, Mariano Rivera or Herschel Walker or Kanye West? They support Trump. Besides, the woke crowd need to get over the damned hat. It is 6 years old. Brady’s wife, Gisele Bundchen said back in 2016, they don’t support Trump. Brady never said he supported Trump politically. If you want my opinion, the woke crowd is ruining everything. I am NOT a Trump supporter, but this is getting ridiculous. The Buccaneers have minorities and women on their coaching staff. Isn’t minority hiring what the woke crowd is clamoring for? Instead of praising the Buccaneers for that, they are obsessed with a hat. To quote Henry Hill, in “Goodfellas,” “Forget the f***ing hat.”

The media needs to stop asking Brett Farve questions. Farve was asked about the situation concerning Texans QB DeShaun Watson. Farve said that players “make too much money to voice an opinion.” Farve also said that players get paid a lot to “do a job” and “to just do it.” While I realize the man played in a different era, I really think Farve should have kept his mouth shut. I don’t think a player, even a legendary one like Farve, should be commenting on another player’s business decisions. I am also old enough to put up with Farve’s own drama every year. Is Farve going to retire or not. I also seem to remember that Farve “retired,” and then got traded for a conditional pick to the New York Jets, then eventually played with the Minnesota Vikings. Farve needs to stop throwing stones from his glass house.

The rest of the Super Bowl Week consisted of Roger Goodell’s discussion of the NFL. He said the other day that he does not know if next season will be normal, with fans in the stands. Goodell also said that virtual things will be happening in the future. The commissioner also praised Kaepernick for bringing up important social issues, and that he wished that the NFL had acted earlier. Goodell lamented the lack of minority hiring in the coaching ranks. Goodell agrees with Dr. Anthony Fauci that Super Bowl parties be kept to only your household and not have people over who don’t live with you, to prevent the spread of COVID.

That is my wrap-up of Super Bowl Week. Now, here is my Super Bowl Preview and Pick.

SUPER BOWL LV PREVIEW AND PICK:

SBLV will take place at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fl. The game will air on CBS. Game time will be at 6:30PM, EST.

Grammy Award winning artist H.E.R. will perform “America the Beautiful” and Grammy Award nominated artists Jazmine Sullivan and Eric Church will collaborate to perform the “Star Spangled Banner.”

The last time these two teams met, the Chiefs won by a score of 27-24 in Tampa this season. The Chiefs jumped to a lead and held off a valiant comeback by the Bucs. That was a regular season game. This time, it’s for all the marbles. This is for the chance to have the confetti fall on their heads and also to hear this classic blaring from the speakers, while hoisting the Lombardi Trophy and passing it around:

Source: Queen’s Official YouTube Channel.

Which of these two teams will it be? Let me get started by congratulating both organizations and their fans. Both teams worked very hard to get to this point. Everyone should feel very proud that they made it, while 30 other teams are sitting home. However, only one of these teams can win, so let’s go.

How the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS can defend their crown:

As everyone has seen, this Chiefs team is loaded. Much has been said about how great QB Patrick Mahomes is. Many are already calling him, “Baby GOAT.” I don’t mean to rain on the parade, but even though he has been lights out as a starter, I think we need to see him keep up this kind of play for more than 3 years. Can he do this for 10 years? I just think it is a bit too soon. This “Modern Day GOAT” and “Baby GOAT” is just ridiculous. Mahomes MAY EVENTUALLY be an all-time great, and MAY surpass Tom Brady as the GOAT, but let’s slow down and see where his career goes, before crowning him anything at all. Besides, as I said, the team is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball.

On offense:

Mahomes may be under more duress than usual, as he won’t have either starting tackles, due to injuries, so he will have to get out of the pocket and make short passes to his receivers. Chiefs fans will have to hope that his Turf Toe won’t be a problem. Per reports, Mahomes has been lights out in practice. There are supposed to be storms on the day of the game, but hopefully, it won’t affect the game for either team. RB LeVe’on Bell may be questionable for the game, but I think he will play. The Buccaneers have a battered secondary, so Mahomes will definitely take advantage of them.

On defense:

The Chiefs have in defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, the man who is a huge reason why SB42 was one by the New York Giants. It was Spagnuolo, who was the defensive coordinator of that Giants defense who attacked and harassed Brady in that Super Bowl. Chiefs’ key pass rusher Chris Jones will also be key in helping to stop the Buccaneers offense. Spagnuolo will have to call a great game to help Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and his team win another Super Bowl.

How the TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS can win the Super Bowl:

Regardless of the outcome of this game, Buccaneers QB Tom Brady is and will still be the GOAT. The man has transcended the position and is the best to have ever played it. To get to another Super Bowl at 43 is just astounding. There are great quarterbacks that have not even gotten to one, like Hall of Famer Warren Moon, never mind ten There are great also players in other positions like Hall of Fame WR Cris Carter who have never gotten to one, never mind ten. It is mind blowing that Brady could win his 7th ring on Sunday. Brady also has the stats and records as well.

On Offense:

The offensive line must protect Tom Brady at all costs. The offensive line must play well together. If Brady is not protected, then it will be a long day for the Buccaneers and we may be looking at a Kansas city blowout. From reading practice reports, it looks like Brady will have his complement of weapons. While WR Antonio Brown is officially listed as “questionable,” from other reports, it looks like Brown is expected to play, as is TE Cameron Brate, who suffered a minor back injury in practice on Thursday. Brate is also listed as “questionable.” These two injuries are ones to watch.

TE Rob Gronkoski may have to help block. Brady will need to distribute the ball to his receivers. However, Brady, offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and head coach Bruce Arians can not depend on the long ball too much and must use it when necessary. They can’t get too greedy as the Chiefs will take advantage of every mistake you make. The Buccaneers need to run the ball against Kansas City. I don’t know why teams won’t run the ball against the Chiefs. The Buccaneers have to have a balanced attack.

On Defense:

Todd Bowles can NOT get aggressive against Patrick Mahomes. Bowles has to have a different game plan this team. Bowles has to put pressure on Mahomes, as the Chiefs have backup tackles. Bowles has very good pass rushers like Shaqil Barrett, Ndamukong Suh, etc., who can get to the quarterback. Fortunately, both starters in the secondary, Safeties Antoine Winfield, Jr and Jordan Whitehead will be playing on Sunday.

The defense for the Buccaneers must also find a way to contain Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill. Hill is so fast, that if you don’t double or triple-team him, he will be gone like Secretariat in the Belmont. He needs to be double-teamed at the very least. Chiefs TE Travis Kelce also needs to be contained. He is a scoring machine and moves the sticks. Bowles has to call a near-perfect game, as the Chiefs have so many weapons.

SUPER BOWL PICK:

I don’t expect a shootout, nor do I expect a blowout from either side. I think this will be a closer game than most people expect. I think this will be a good game and I hope that the 22,000, including 7,500 vaccinated healthcare workers, in the crowd do get a good one.

As for my pick, since the beginning of this crazy season, my pre-season pick to win the Super Bowl was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While I realize that Kansas City is loaded and the experts are all over them, and are promoting Mahomes and the Chiefs as unstoppable. Well, a certain White Star Liner was called “unsinkable,” also. I could be wrong, and very well be, but I am sticking with my original pick, even if I have to go down with this ship.

Your winner and SBLV Champion is the TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS.

That is my preview and I hope you enjoyed it. Feedback is encouraged.

Feedback:

Email: Alydace@yahoo.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/gioponti

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/missedgehead

Posted in NFL, Politics, Sports | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

See You in Tampa for SB55, Kansas City and Tampa Bay: The Aftermath of 2020-21 NFL Championship Sunday

by Terri Bey

Nothing is guaranteed in life, except death, taxes and star QB Tom Brady going to a Super Bowl. Well, the last item is ALMOST guaranteed. Wow. What a career Brady is having. Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady is going to his 10th Super Bowl, on a quest to win a record 7th Super Bowl, the most Super Bowl wins by any NFL player in Super Bowl history, breaking his own record. What is even more remarkable is that Brady has accomplished this after leaving the New England Patriots, the team that drafted him with the 199th pick in the 2000 Draft. In Brady’s 19 seasons with the Patriots, coached by the legendary Bill Belichick, the Patriots went to 9 Super Bowls and won 6 of them. In Brady’s 20th season in the NFL and with a brand new team, the Tampa Buccaneers and a brand new coach in Bruce Arians, not only does the future first-ballot Hall of Famer lead his new team to an 11-5 record and a Wild Card playoff spot, the man leads them to a Super Bowl appearance. We are talking about a team that went 7-9 last year and had not even seen the playoffs since the 2007 season, when Jeff Garcia was their QB, mind you. In addition, the 2020-21 Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be the very first Super Bowl participant to play on their home field, as Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL is where Super Bowl 55 will be held. Tom Brady made some more history also, by playing in the playoffs as a Wild Card. I don’t have to tell you that he is 43 years old and this accomplishment is just that much more amazing.

Let’s discuss how this happened and also how the Kansas City Chiefs have a chance to do what only the 2003 and 2004 New England Patriots have done, and that is to win back to back Super Bowls. In other words, I will start this blog with what went wrong for the Green Bay Packers and what went right for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game and later, I will discuss what went right for the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs and what went wrong for the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. I hope you will enjoy this blog and feedback is welcomed and encourged.

THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME:

Even though I correctly predicted in my previous blog that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would win, I was quite impressed with how the team won the game. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers came into the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field like swashbuckling pirates and took over the game faster than Fletcher Christian commandeered the H.M.S. Bounty and got rid of Captain Bligh in that infamous mutiny. Buccaneers QB Tom Brady led his offense down the field and drew first blood with a touchdown to WR Mike Evans and the Buccaneers never looked back, winning 31-26. One particular offensive highlight for the Buccaneers was Brady’s touchdown to WR Scotty Miller at the end of the first half with 1 second remaining. It was awesome.

The Buccaneers’ offense was very good during the game, especially the first half, but they got a bit sloppy during the second half. Brady threw 3 INTs in a row, which are very un-Brady like. I do think many are making way too much hay over them. Two of them were like a bad punt and the other should have been caught by WR Mike Evans. In speaking of dropped passes, there were a few by WR Chris Godwin and Evans. These mistakes need to be corrected, especially against the Chiefs. Tom Brady usually returns with a great performance, so I am not worried about him. I will also add that RB Leonard Fournett did a nice job running the ball. There is more good news for the team’s offense as WR Antonio Brown, who missed the NFC Championship game due to a knee injury suffered during the Saints game, is expected to play in the Super Bowl.

The Buccaneers’ defense was amazing. They harassed Packers QB Aaron Rodgers all day long, especially in the second half. The Buccaneers caused critical turnovers and sacked Rodgers multiple times. When the Packers’ offense scored a touchdown on a Brady INT, and they tried for the 2pt conversion, the Buccaneers defense clamped down, preventing the Packers from converting. Overall, the Buccaneers defense was outstanding, even with two backup safeties. Rookie sensation Antoine Winfield, JR could not play, due to an ankle injury suffered during practice and Jordan Whitehead had left the game, due to a shoulder injury. As of this writing, both are expected to play in the Super Bowl.

Let’s get to what went wrong for the Green Bay Packers. The Packers had all the advantages: home field, the cold weather, a southern team coming to town and the expected MVP Aaron Rodgers under center. What happened? Let’s see what happened.

Let’s start with the obvious. Many fans and experts are pointing to the Packers’ final offensive possession, where it was 4th down, and Packers head coach, Matt LeFleur decides to go for a FG, instead of going for the TD, as the reason why the Packers lost. Some would argue that Aaron Rodgers could have run the ball in or had run and got it closer to the goal line. There are those who point to the referees calling a hold on Packers CB Kevin King, who grabbed the jersey of Buccaneers WR Tyler Johnson as the deciding play, as the Buccaneers were then able to get the crucial first down and end the game. Well, while it is true that the refs were pretty much silent, with the exception of a couple of legit calls against the Buccaneers defense, which no one complained about, I might add, this particular call had to be made. You can see King grabbing Johnson’s shirt. If you watch it on replay, a ref will call it every time. I can’t help but notice that every time a referee makes a call in favor of a team quarterbacked by Tom Brady, the false narrative of “the NFL/referees favor Tom Brady” pop up by misinformed fans. No one said anything when in the second quarter, there was a no-call on one of the Packers defenders who committed an obvious roughing the passer penalty against Brady. You could see Brady’s neck twisting on the turf in the replay, but sure, the refs favor Brady.

The way I see it, the Packers had plenty of chances to win this game earlier. RB Aaron Jones’ fumbling the ball at the beginning of the second quarter didn’t help. Aaron Rodgers’ was only able to put 6 points on the board, after a total of three INTS by Tom Brady. This is another reason, besides what I said earlier, why I didn’t make a big deal about Brady’s INTs in the game. Aaron Rodgers should have made the Buccaneers pay for every one of those turnovers, but he didn’t. On the one that he DID, he did score the TD but failed to convert the 2pt conversion. Did I also mention that star WR Davante Adams dropped several passes and a crucial one in the endzone? Rodgers threw to several different receivers, but I thought he relied too much on Adams. I also notice that Rodgers has a difficult time with games, where he is trailing. I don’t know what it is. Rodgers is now 1-4 in Championship games as well.

Now, let’s get to the defense. Defense Coordinator Matt Pettine did not have a great game, especially in the first half. What was he doing at the end of the first half? He never heard of a prevent defense, I guess. CB Kevin King’s technique was awful and that made it worse. Terrible. I will admit that Pettine made good adjustments in the second half and put more pressure on Brady, causing the 3 interceptions.

THE AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME:

As I correctly predicted, the Kansas City Chiefs would not only hold serve in their home stadium at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday night but would defeat the Buffalo Bills and go on to Tampa Bay to attempt to repeat as Super Bowl Champions in Super Bowl 55. I also mentioned in my predictions blog that I thought it would be a close game as the two teams were pretty evenly matched. I was wrong, or as WWE Hall of Fame Inductee Edge, who returns this Sunday at the Royal Rumble would say, “Wrong. Wrong.Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.”

I wound up being wrong, because the Bills got their rear-ends handed to them by the Chiefs. The Bills were massacred. Bills QB Josh Allen was under duress all night long, after a 9-0 lead, thanks to a special teams fumble by Chiefs WR Mecole Hardman. The Bills didn’t run the ball very well. The Bills were forced to be one dimensional and it was not pretty. Late in the 4th quarter, when Allen was sacked by Tanoh Kpassagnon and Alex Okafor of the Chiefs. In frustration, Allen threw the football at Okafor, and then Bills offensive linemen Jon Feliciano and Dion Dawkins attacked Okafor. When I watched this, I thought there was going to be a sideline clearing brawl. The referees, with help from the New York offices, ruled off-setting penalties. I still don’t get it. I definitely thought someone should have been ejected. I don’t make the rules, though.

On defense, it was not much better for the Bills either. The Bills defense were sliced, diced and just destroyed by the Chiefs offensive juggernaut. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier could not figure out how to stop that lightening quick offense of the Chiefs. Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill just ran through that Bills defense, especially that secondary like that iceberg did to the hull of the RMS Titanic.

If anything, the Buffalo Bills showed that they did have a very good season and an excellent post-season, but they definitely have work to do, before they are ready for prime time. I will say they are going to be competitive in the AFC for years to come, as long as Josh Allen stays healthy and he and WR Stefon Diggs can keep building that chemistry. I also want to add that my prayers go out to Josh Allen as I know he lost his grandfather during the season and his father is battling COVID.

As for the Kansas City Chiefs, head coach Andy Reid called a great game. QB Patrick Mahomes showed no signs from the concussion he suffered in the Divisional Round game. Mahomes had a great game, per usual, and just destroyed the hapless Bills defense. TE Travis Kelce and WR Tyreek Hill had great nights. Kelce scored 2 TDs and Hill had nine catches for 172 yards. WR Mecole Hardman, who was consoled earlier on the sidelines by Mahomes and Kelce, after his fumble, came through and made up for his mistake, and scored a touchdown. I also thought Kelce and Mahomes demonstrated great sportsmanship and great leadership by not only consoling their teammate but cheering him up and encouraging him. Steve Spagnuolo’s defense also did its job as well in harassing Bills QB Josh Allen.

Now, you have your Super Bowl participants. The AFC is represented by the defending Super Bowl Champion Kanas City Chiefs and the NFC is represented by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Good luck to both teams and I will be looking forward to seeing them in Tampa on February 7th on CBS.

FEEDBACK:

Email: Alydace@yahoo.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/missedgehead

Posted in NFL, Sports, The NFL, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NFL 2020-21 NFC and AFC Championship Game Preview and and Prediction

by Terri Bey

I am writing this blog with a heavy heart as one of my favorite sports heroes, MLB Hall of Famer Henry “Hank” Aaron passed away today in his sleep at age 86. Aaron is known to most baseball and sports fans for breaking New York Yankees legend and fellow Hall of Famer Babe Ruth’s then home run record of 714 home runs on April 8, 1974 in 1974 in Atlanta, GA by hitting #715. This is important as Atlanta was still considered the “Deep South” and leading up to the big moment, Henry Aaron was receiving 3,000 racist letters a day. Even though Aaron still retains other records, it was the dignity and grace that he carried throughout his quest for #715 that made him a legend and a hero in every sense of the word. He became a part of the Braves front office for over 40 years and has been an inspiration for millions. To me and many others, he is the real home run king. Rest in Peace, Mr. Henry Aaron.

Now, let’s get to the subject of this blog. Last week, the NFL saw the 2020-21 NFC and AFC Divisional Round games. Let’s discuss the games, briefly. I also was a bit under the weather this weekend and missed some of each game, so I had to watch highlights, particularly the two Sunday games. As for my picks, I went 3-1, and only got the Baltimore Ravens vs the Buffalo Bills game wrong. I really thought that the Bills run defense was going to collapse and Ravens QB Lamar Jackson and the Ravens’ running backs were going to have a field day. I was wrong. Both defenses kept the scoring low, which I expected, but I have been saying that Lamar Jackson needs to be more proficient at throwing the ball for a long time and also the team needs to get him more weapons. That pick-six Jackson threw was a killer. Bills QB Josh Allen didn’t set the world on fire, but he played well enough to win.

The Green Bay Packers vs Los Angeles Rams game went as I expected. The Los Angeles defense did what they could to keep Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers off the field, but their pop-gun offense did not help them out at all. I was not surprised at the 32-18 win by the Packers. The Cleveland Browns vs Kansas City Chiefs game on Sunday, from looking at the highlights, looked like a game that the Browns could have won. I did see parts of the game. From looking at the highlights, I don’t understand why the Browns didn’t run the ball more. As most of my readers know, during the game, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes suffered some sort of toe injury and later in the game suffered a concussion, after getting hit, so backup QB Chad Henne had to take over. I was able to watch the last few minutes of the game, so I want to know how on earth was the Browns defense not able to stop backup Qb Chad Henne? We are talking about Chad Henne, a journeyman QB, mind you. The play call by Chiefs head coach Andy Reid to seal the game was awesome, though. I will say that the Kansas City safety Daniel Sorensen got away with a “clear and obvious,” head to head hit that was missed, when Browns WR Rashard Higgens fumbled the ball in the end zone, which was, by rule, called a touchback for the Chiefs. That rule HAS to be changed. Nonetheless, the Browns organization and their fans should be proud. They are definitely set at QB in Baker Mayfield and at head coach in Kevin Stefanski and I see this team being very competitive in the future.

I only saw the first few minutes of the New Orleans Saints vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers game. I watched the highlights and I felt badly for Saints QB Drew Brees, in that this was a terrible way to go out. I know he was battling physical injuries and had just turned 42, but I felt bad as he had given so much to the game and to the city of New Orleans. He, along with head coach Sean Payton, brought that city, battered by Hurricane Katrina, hope and a Super Bowl Title. Whatever decision Brees makes, he will always be a hero to that city. He wasn’t the only one who made errors, though. Sean Payton deserves some blame, too. Why didn’t he use RB Alvin Kamara more? This was a weird decision. WR Michael Thomas was playing hurt, so why not lean on Kamara? WR Jared Cook had the ball punched out, and was not happy. The turnovers killed the Saints in the game.

The Buccaneers played a clean game, as QB Tom Brady threw for 199 yards and 2 TDs. Brady also rushed for a TD. The Buccaneers’ running game was efficient. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles called a very good game. The Buccaneers defense was aggressive. They picked off Drew Brees three times. The kicking game was also efficient. Unfortunately, WR Antonio Brown injured his knee and will not play this weekend.

So, now the Conference Championship games are set for this Sunday, January 24, 2021. The NFC Championship Game will feature the Green Bay Packers vs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the AFC Championship will feature the Kansas City Chiefs vs the Buffalo Bills. In this blog I will preview and give my predictions as to which two teams will be going to Tampa for Super Bowl 55. I hope you enjoy this blog. Feed back is welcome and encouraged.

NFL 2020-21 NFC AND AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PREDICTION AND PREVIEW

2020-21 NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Green Bay Packers

This game will be played at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI and will air on FOX. Kickoff will be at 3:05pm, EST.

PREVIEW: This should be the best of the two games, considering the two quarterbacks involved, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady. If you look at the four quarterbacks remaining, the Super Bowl match-up, no matter how you slice it, will be a battle of youth (Mahomes or Allen) vs experience (Rogers or Brady). As a woman of a certain age, I am certainly going to be pulling for the QB with the experience.

All jokes aside, we are looking at two pretty evenly matched teams. Green Bay is 5th in offense, while Tampa Bay is 7th. Green Bay is 9th in defense, Tampa Bay has the 6th ranked defense.. Green Bay is 9th in passing and Tampa Bay is 2nd in that category. The only category where there is a huge disparity between the two teams is the Rushing category. Green Bay is 8th, while Tampa Bay is 28th. On paper, this looks like it might be a close game for awhile, until someone screws up.

Of course, they don’t play the games on paper. NFL fans are looking at two quarterbacks who are playing as well as anyone at this point. Aaron Rodgers is the leading candidate for the NFL’s highest honor, the MVP of the league and is playing like one. Despite the prognosticators of doom, Tom Brady has been sensational. I am expecting both to play well.

PREDICTION: Matt LeFleur and Bruce Arians are going to have to out-wit one another. Tampa Bay Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles has to come up with a slightly different game than the last time the two met, when the Buccaneers blasted Rodgers in Tampa during the season, as Rodgers and LeFleur will know what to expect. The Buccaneers secondary must contain WR Davante Adams and must contain Aaron Rodgers or Rodgers will just eat them alive. Buccaneers Rookie Antoine Winfield, JR has been listed as questionable due to an ankle injury, so this injury is one to watch. Some good news for their defense is the activation of their DT Vita Vea. While not having WR Antonio Brown hurts, other guys like WR Scott Miller, WR Mike Evans and TE Rob Gronkowski should help the Buccaneers offense. WR Chris Godwin needs to hold on to some balls as well. Bruce Arians also has to use the run game as well, because snow is expected and it will be cold.

I know this game is in Green Bay and a southern team is going up to the “frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.” I know certain media people have jumped off their picks of Tampa Bay to go to the Super Bowl to pick the Green Bay Packers to win (cough Stephen A. Smith cough). I realize that it is a good chance that the Packers may wind up winning, but an NFL MVP winner has not won the Super Bowl since the St. Louis Rams QB Kurt Warner in 1999, either. I am sticking with my Super Bowl 55 pick to win this game and if I am wrong, so be it.

Winner and NFC Champion: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The 2020-21 AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME:

This game will be played at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO and will air on CBS. Kickoff will be at 6:40PM, EST.

PREVIEW: The good news for the home team is that Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes told reporters that he passed all the concussion tests and will play on Sunday. Of course, the Chiefs have to make the official announcement, but from watching the news reports, it looked like he was going to play. Nothing against Chad Henne, but I think the game would have been terrible with Henne vs Josh Allen.

Like we have in the NFC Championship Game, this game also features two teams who are fairly evenly matched. We have the two teams with the #1 offense (Chiefs) and the #2 offense (Bills). The Chiefs have the #16 defense, while the Bills have the #14 defense. The Chiefs are #1 in passing. The Bills are #3 in that category. Finally, the Chiefs are #16 in rushing, while the Bills are #20 in rushing. The last time these two teams met, the Chiefs won by a score of 26-17 on October 19, 2020. I expect another tight game.

PREDICTION: If there is a team that has a real chance to stop the Chiefs from a possible Super Bowl repeat, it is the Buffalo Bills, in my view. Many times, it is the team that is play the best football that winds up with the Lombardi Trophy and the Buffalo Bills could be that team. Their defense is peaking at the right time. QB Josh Allen is playing well and he and WR Stefon Diggs have great chemistry. Head coach Sean McDermott, however, needs to call a perfect game to out-coach Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.

As we all know, the Chiefs have a team made up of all stars. The Bills have to play lights out to win this game. The Bills have a pretty good secondary, but they will have to have an answer for Chiefs TE Travis Kelce, in particular. Josh Allen is going to have to play the game of his life. As for Patrick Mahomes, it is great that he is playing and will be cleared to play. I guess we will find the answer as soon as he takes the field, but my question concerning him is how effective will Mahomes be? I do expect him to play well, but a concussion is no joke. His toe injury may be a factor also.

I have picked against the Buffalo Bills each weekend and I have been wrong every time. While I think they could prevent Patrick Mahomes and the gang from going to a second consecutive Super Bowl, I don’t think they will I am pretty sure I am going to be right, this time.

Winner and AFC Champion: Kanas City Chiefs.

That is my blog. I hope you enjoyed it. Feedback is below.

Feedback:

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan

Email: Alydace@yahoo.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/missedgehead

Posted in NFL, Sports, The NFL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2020-21 NFL Divisional Round Preview and Predictions

by Terri By

The NFL 2020-21 Wild Card Weekend is in the books. If you would like to catch up on what happened, please check out Tuesday’s blog, 2020-21 Wild Card Weekend-The Aftermath | edgerocks (wordpress.com) . This weekend’s games will decide which teams will advance to the AFC and NFC Championship Games. There are some very interesting storylines going into these games. Can the Cleveland Brows keep their success going against the formidable defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs? Can the Chiefs take the next step to defending their crown? How healthy will the Los Angeles Rams be, going into the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field and will this be Green Bay Packers QB and likely NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers’ best chance at another Lombardi? Can Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson lead his team to another playoff win? Can the Buffalo Bills’ Cinderella-like season and post-season continue? In what I lovingly call the “old-geezer” matchup, will we finally see the shoot-out that many NFL fans have been hoping to see? Will we see 41 year old New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees advance to what will likely be the final NFC Championship Game of his career, or are we going to 43 year old Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tom Brady advance to his first NFC Championship and take the next step to a possible 10th Super Bowl appearance in hope for a 7th ring?

This blog will answer all those questions and sort out those storylines. I hope my readers will enjoy this blog. I welcome feedback and encourage it.

2020-21 NFL DIVISIONAL ROUND PREVIEW

Games for Saturday, January 16, 2021:

(6) Los Angeles Rams @ (1) Green Bay Packers

This game will be played at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI and will air on FOX. Kickoff will be at 4:35pm, EST.

PREVIEW: As I said, can the Los Angeles Rams come from sunny Southern California to defeat the Green Bay Packers in a very cold Lambeau Field. According to Accuweather.com, the high is only supposed to be 35 degrees and a low of 23, so the Rams have that working against them. Star defender Aaron Donald is still battling a rib injury, but as of this writing, is expected to play. Even if he is not as effective, there are plenty of other defenders along that Rams defensive line for Packers QB Aaron Rodgers to worry about. DB Jalen Ramsey will also wreak havoc in the secondary as well. I should remind readers that the Rams have the #1 ranked offense.

The Packers do have all the other advantages, besides home field. They are the 5th ranked offense, 8th in rushing and 9th in passing. The Packers also have a guy named Aaron Rodgers, who has clicked with his head coach Matt LeFleur. This will be a tall task for the Rams to beat, even though Rams head coach Sean McVey is no slouch as a head coach, himself. The question for McVey is: Can he and starter Jared Goff lead their offense against the Packers’ 9th ranked offense? As of this writing, it is not certain whether WR Cooper Cupp will play, but it has been confirmed that QB Blake Bortles will be the backup as injured QB John Wolford has been ruled out.

PREDICTION: I am expecting this game to be a mid to high scoring game, but the result is going to be very close. I don’t think it would be impossible for the Rams to win, but the Packers have way too many advantages. 6,000 fans will be allowed to watch the game in person, so there is another advantage for the home team. PACKERS: 31-28.

(5) Baltimore Ravens @ (2) Buffalo Bills

This game will be played at Bills Stadium at Orchard Park, NY and will air on NBC. Kickoff will be at 8:15pm, EST.

PREVIEW: This is going to be another hard hitting game between two tough teams. The Buffalo Bills are coming off of what I would call a somewhat lackluster performance in their win over the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card Round. The Baltimore Ravens are coming off of a tough and rather emotional win over the Tennessee Titans as well. I am expecting a similar game between these two teams as well.

I would like to add something, before I continue. I hope BOTH the Bills and the Ravens don’t act like childish brats in this game, like the Ravens and the Titans did last weekend. If you watched the game, you know what I am talking about. For those who didn’t, here it goes. The Titans and the Ravens have some sort of rivalry or “bad blood” between them. One of the ways it came out was that when the Titans beat the Ravens in Baltimore, there was some sort of incident involving Titan players on the Ravens’ symbol in the middle of the field. Well, last week, after the team secured the first down to end the game, a whole bunch of Ravens players ran onto the Titans’ symbol. Yeah, I know that there is a history of players messing around on the opponents’ logo. See Terrell Owens and the Dallas Cowboys Star. However, this is getting way out of hand. These are grown man getting tons of money to play a game. They need to grow up.

Now, that I am off my soapbox, back to this game. The Ravens were able to shut down “King” Derrick Henry in Tennessee. We will see if the Ravens can shut down the Bills’ #2 ranked offense completely. Can the Bills defense stop the Ravens’ #1 ranked rushing attack, especially QB Lamar Jackson? The Bills defense needs to stop Jackson. They can not let him escape, like the Titans did. If one paid attention, there were plenty of occasions where the Titan defense had Jackson in their grasps, but he was able to pull a Houdini act and escape and get critical first downs. The Bills QB Josh Allen needs to be protected or the Ravens defense will eat him alive.

For the Ravens, they have to make holes on the offensive line so Jackson can run, as he is their best weapon. Jackson also needs to throw the ball as well. Is Jackson a “special player,” like the announcers and experts say? No doubt. Randall Cunningham also was considered “a special player.” Cunningham could win throwing the ball, though. Call me old fashioned, but I would like to see Mr. Jackson win more games with his arm.

PREDICTION: I am expecting a close game. The Bills have the home team advantage and the weather that is predicted for the game calls for snow showers. Lamar Jackson hasn’t played in the snow, that I remember. This might help out the Bills. The Ravens won the last meeting between the two teams, but that was in December of 2019 and the Bills are a different team, as Josh Allen is a much better quarterback now. This game can go either way, and even though the Bills have a bit of an advantage, I think the Ravens win in a close contest. RAVENS: 24-23

Games for Sunday, January 17, 2021:

(6) Cleveland Browns @ (1) Kansas City Chiefs

This game will be played at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO and will air on CBS. Kickoff will be at 3:05pm, EST.

PREVIEW: The Cleveland Browns have arrived. Unless you have been living under a rock, the Browns have shocked the NFL world and defeated their “big brother,” the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 45-37 win on Wild Card Weekend. What is the prize behind Door #1 for the Browns? It’s a trip to Kanas City to face the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. You know, QB Patrick Mahomes, TE Travis Kelce, WR Tyreek Hill and the gang. Andy Reid, the head coach of the Chiefs, will be there as well, waiting for their next victims, I mean, the Browns.

There are a few things that are going for the Browns. It looks like they are getting their head coach Kevin Stefanski, corners Denzel Ward and Kevin Johnson, as well as Bill Callahan, the team’s offensive coordinator, all of whom missed the Steeler game due to COVID. Even though the Browns clobbered the Steelers without these guys, their return will be obviously a huge boost to the team. Having Ward and Johnson will help the Browns against the Chiefs’ #1 ranked offense immensely.

One huge question is can Stefanski outcoach the more experienced Andy Reid? Andy Reid is especially brilliant after a bye week. In his 22 year coaching career, Reid is 18-3 in the regular season, after a bye and is 5-2 in the post-season, after a bye. The defenses of the two teams are evenly matched, as the Browns have the #17th ranked defense and the Chiefs have the #16th ranked defense. Where the Chiefs might be vulnerable is when the Browns run the ball, as the Browns are ranked #3 in rushing. The Browns are going to have a hard time with star QB Patrick Mahomes as the Chiefs have the #1 ranked offense and are #1 in passing.

If the Browns want to shock the world again, they are going to have to look at what the Miami Dolphins defense did and force Mahomes into mistakes. The Browns defense have to force more three and outs and the Browns offense has to keep Mahomes on the bench. The Chiefs defense can be run on. I would stick with the run game, if I were Callahan. RB Nick Chubbs should have a field day. Mahomes and the starters also have not played for nearly three weeks, either. I don’t think the rust will make a lot of difference, but that is something to watch.

A huge advantage for the Chiefs is the loud stadium. There will be 16,000 fans, instead of a full stadium. Will that make as much of a difference as it has before? It might. I know a lot of people dismiss the “home field advantage” theory, but I don’t. This also an afternoon game and the high on Sunday is expected to be about 41 degrees. That should not make a difference. Anyway, the Chiefs are definitely the better team and the defending champions.

PREDICTION: I have watched the Chiefs this year and they look like they could repeat. Many experts and commentators have said the Chiefs are a “lock” to repeat. Well, I have been watching the Chiefs and if one is paying attention, the team doesn’t look as unbeatable as some would want you to believe, even though the team is 14-2. The Chiefs definitely should have had more losses on their record, as their opponents played them pretty close, but made dumb mistakes and the Chiefs’ Mahomes was able to pull a Houdini act and get the team the victory. What I am saying is that they don’t seem as intimidating and appear to be vulnerable and could be had. The Brows must be aggressive, but not make a lot of dumb mistakes. Kevin Stefanski has to call a perfect game against Reid and I am not sure that will happen. In my view, the Browns are not experienced enough. CHIEFS: 35-31,

(#5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ (#2) New Orleans Saints

This game will be played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA and will air on FOX. Kickoff will be at 6:40pm, EST.

Well, as a fan of great players and a fan of both of these men, I was SO hoping that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints would wind up playing each other in the NFC Championship game. I am almost sure I am not the only fan hoping for that. Like the Stones sing, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” though. This should be a great game between two undoubtedly great quarterbacks, Saints QB Drew Brees and Buccaneers QB Tom Brady. This will likely be the final time the two greats meet.

The Saints come into this game off of a win over the Chicago Bears in the Wild Card Round in a game that was closer than I thought it would have been. The Buccaneers come into this game off of a win, after a bit of a dogfight with the Washington Football Team, a team that hopefully will find a name in the off-season. The key injuries to watch for both teams are for the Saints: gadget player and backup QB Taysom Hill has not practiced Wednesday or Thursday, due to a knee injury. For the Buccaneers, keep an eye on the status for RB Ronald Jones, who returned to a limited practice due to calf and finger injuries on Thursday. Buccaneers WR Mike Evans has been limited in practice and hopes to be “closer to 100%” by Sunday. The absence of G Alex Kappa will be one to watch during the game.

PREDICTION: Much has been made of the 46 point differential between the two teams, as the Saints beat the Buccaneers both times in the regular season, the first time by a score of 34-23 and the second time by a score of 38-3. The Saints also have the advantage of having the game at their home. In the past 50 years, there were 21 playoff games where a team had a chance to sweep an opponent, after winning both regular season appearances. Those teams went 14-7. The Saints have that advantage. QB Drew Brees will also have his complement of weapons and that Saints defense knows how to disrupt an offense.

How can the Buccaneers reverse this and do what the 2007 New York Giants did to the Dallas Cowboys in the 2007-08 post-season? The Cowboys swept the Giants in the regular season, but the Giants turned the tables on the Cowboys in the 2007-08. I mean, talk about irony? The truth is stranger than fiction.

Regardless, here is how the Buccaneers can turn the tables on the Saints: The offensive line must protect Tom Brady at all costs. The Saints defense was able to tee off of him and sack him constantly and force him into mistakes. This can not happen, if coach Bruce Arians wants to advance his team to the NFC Championship game. Arians can not pull that “risk it or biscuit” nonsense. Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich must RUN THE BALL. This has to happen. Hopefully, their best runner, Ronald Jones will be active. Running the ball will keep the Saints defense honest and will help open up the passing game, so Brady can get the ball to his weapons. The Buccaneers offense is also finally clicking, so I definitely expect a better performance. Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles has to call a better game than he did against Washington. If Taysom Hill can’t go, it will definitely be of some help.

As to who wins this game and advances to the NFC Championship Game, I am expecting a high scoring game. I expect both quarterbacks to play well and I also expect the teams to play well, also. I expect the Tampa Bay defense to play much better and to step up their game as LB Devon White and DT Steve McLendon return from the COVID reserve list. I also expect the Saints to score more than 21 points. I picked the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win the Super Bowl at the very beginning of the NFL Season. I realize there is a strong case to make for the New Orleans Saints to win. I am one of those people who will stick with my pick, even if I wind up being wrong. BUCCANEERS: 32-27.

ADDENDUM: I want to add that regardless of the Ssints-Buccaneers outcome, we are going to be watching two legendary quarterbacks in Tom Brady and Drew Brees go at it. One of these two legends will be leading his team to the NFC Championship and a possible trip to the Super Bowl. I know I have to be unbiased, but to me, it doesn’t matter which one of these two quarterbacks it is . Both men are amazing quarterbacks and both men are both great character guys. They are both great family men, as well, so either team will have a great quarterback and a great person in the NFC Championship game. It’s a “win, ” either way.

That is it for the blog. Thanks for reading. Feedback below.

FEEDBACK:

Email: Alydace@yahoo.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/missedgehead

Posted in NFL, Sports, The NFL | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

2020-21 Wild Card Weekend-The Aftermath

by Terri Bey

The 2020-21 NFL Wild Card weekend is in the books. What a crazy set of games it was. There were the predictable winners in most of the games. One game featured a mild upset. The final game of the weekend featured a surprising upset and at the same time, a not so surprising upset, if one was paying close attention to both of the teams involved. As there were 6 games total, I went 4 for 6 on my picks on my Wild Card Predictions blog. That’s not too shabby.

In this blog, I will be discussing the aftermath of the past weekend’s games and the implications for the winners and losers. I will also include a little bit of NFL news as well. I hope you will enjoy this blog. Feedback is encouraged and welcomed.

THE AFTERMATH OF THE 2020-21 NFL WILD CARD WEEKEND

Saturday’s Games:

Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills.

Result: Bills win by a score of 27-24 and face the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round.

I picked the Bills to win this game and I got this one right. Both teams appeared to be a bit tentative, especially the home team, the Buffalo Bills. I expected the Bills, especially, to play a lot better, considering how loose and relaxed they have been, coming into the game. QB Josh Allen made critical plays with his legs, including running in for a TD.

The Colts really puzzled me. I didn’t understand why head coach and former Buffalo Bill backup QB Frank Reich was so aggressive at times. He should have taken points when he could, instead of going for it, and coming up with nothing. It didn’t help when his kicker missed a field goal, either. This is not the only game where I saw questionable playcalling, either.

While Josh Allen advances with his Bills team to face the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round, it will be interesting to see whether Colts QB Philip Rivers will come back next season or retire.

Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks

Result: Rams win by a score of 30-20 and face the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round.

My pick to win this game was the Seahawks and they let me down. After the injury to Rams QB John Wolford early in the first quarter, one wondered how regular QB Jared Goff was going to do with that thumb injury. Goff came in and did the job well. It helped that the defense, led by DE Aaron Donald, just ran roughshod over the Seahawks offense. Donald did suffer a rib injury and WR Cooper Kupp suffered a knee injury. Coach Sean McVey was optimistic both would play, but wasn’t sure at this writing.

The Seahawks just could not get out of their own way. The relentless pressure from the Rams defense forced Seahawks Russell Wilson into turnovers. Wilson and WR DK Metcalf were not on the same page, either and you could see Metcalf having a fit on the sidelines. The Seahawks offense had cooled down late in the season and it showed. Russell Wilson is going to need help along the offensive line and will need more weapons.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington Football Team

Result: Buccaneers win by a score of 31-23 and face the New Orleans Saints in the Divisional Round.

My pick for this game was the Buccaneers and they came through. As I said in my Wild Card preview blog, much was made about Washington Football Team defender Chase Young’s “I want Tom.” comment. Well, on Saturday night, Mr. Young learned the expression, “If you come for the King, you better not miss.” I will admit that it was cool to see both Mr. Young and Mr. Brady hugging and showing one another respect.

As for the game, I have to tip my hat to Football team QB Taylor Heinicke. He was on the Patriots’ Practice Squad in 2017. Talk about irony. Henicke started in the place of started Alex Smith, who could barely practice this past week, due to a calf injury. Heinicke was excellent. Heinicke knew where to go with the ball and even dove to the pilon for a score. He didn’t win, but he made a good showing of himself.

What else is there to say about Tom Brady, who won his 31st playoff game? That is the most playoff wins in 1950. Brady threw for 381 yards and 2 TDs. While Brady is all about team, his stats would have looked a lot better and the score would have been higher had his receivers, specifically Chris Godwin, not dropped passes. The WR core does deserve praise though, especially Antonio Brown and Mike Evans who fought through his knee injury to get key first downs. The running game was also functioning well and needs to be including in the game against the Saints. What also needs to improve is the defensive play, especially that secondary, especially since they are facing the Saints for a third time on Sunday.

Sunday’s Games:

Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans

Result: Ravens win by a score of 20-13 and face the Buffalo Bills in the Divisional Round.

Despite all the prognosticators of doom, who said that Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson could not win a playoff game or win a game when down 10 or more points, Mr. Jackson and his Ravens came through for me, as I picked the Ravens to win. This game was the hard hitting game I expected. The Ravens offense was led by none other than Lamar Jackson, who pulled his Houdini acted and ran for a touchdown. What was more impressive was the Ravens defense. Now, they are not the second coming of the 2000 Ravens defense, but what was so impressive about their performance on Sunday was that they stopped Tennessee Titans star RB Derrick Henry. I couldn’t believe it. The longest run that Henry had all day was for 8 yards. Their game versus the Bills will be awesome.

This game also featured some very strange play-calling by Titans coach Mike Vrabel. There was about 10 minutes left in the entire game and they were at a 4th and 2 situation. Instead of trying a play, Vrabel punts. I didn’t understand that. They were down 17-13 and had a great offense and they could not try anything to get another possession? Also, QB Ryan Tannehill was also terrible. I don’t know if the Ravens defense was exposing him or what, but he was awful.

Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints

Result: Saints win by a score of 21-9 and face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Divisional Round.

Remember in my Wild Card Preview blog, when picking this game, I posted a video playing “No Chance in Hell,” which is Vince McMahon’s WWE theme, when I spoke of the Chicago Bears’ chances of defeating the New Orleans Saints? Well, I was right about that and I was correct in my picking the Saints to win.

I don’t know if I got worn down from watching all that football this weekend or what, but this game was boring. The Saints started out with a touchdown, but then, even with QB Drew Brees having virtually ALL of his weapons at his disposal, it would not be until the third quarter when the Saints would score another touchdown and then in the fourth quarter, they’d score another touchdown. Yes, the Bears defense did its part to keep the Saints offense to 21 points, but the hapless offense, led by QB Mitch Trubisky was just that, hapless. They scored a field goal in the second quarter and a touchdown in garbage time. In the first quarter, Tribusky threw a perfect throw that should have been a touchdown, but the receiver let it go through his arms. Even the Saints had their own mishaps which were a missed field goal and a fumble.

This game was not what I was expecting. I know Brees is aging and beat-up. I realize that this is more likely his final season. I was expecting a bit more of a beat-down. As for the Bears, it is obvious that Trubisky was a miss. Backup Nick Foles is not the answer, either. The team needs to fix their quarterback issues. What the Saints will do at quarterback, should Brees retire, will also be interesting.

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers

Browns win by a score of 48-37 and face the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round.

I screwed up. I, like most folks, experts, and fellow bloggers picked the Pittsburgh Steelers to win, because of issues I raised in my preview blog. I mentioned the COVID mini-outbreak affecting players and their head coach Steve Stefanski, the Cleveland Browns not winning in Pittsburgh since 2003, the Browns only having one practice day and the Steelers being the better team. Well, those of us backing the Steelers were WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. The Browns’ win is the game where the outcome was a surprise and at the same time, not a surprise.

The result was a surprise, in that one would have thought that the lack of practice and the lack of playoff experience would have hampered the Browns. After all, you can’t go through the game plan in a Zoom meeting. Players have to physically practice the installed game plan. Coach Stefanski’s absence was definitely going to be a hindrance, since he wasn’t going to be there physically to call plays and coach.

I was really surprised and very impressed by the way the Cleveland Browns played. Overall, the Browns played with poise and were very aggressive and just took it to the Steelers. Browns QB Baker Mayfield was awesome. The running game was fantastic . RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt cut through that Steeler defense like the defenders were standing still. The Browns also took advantages of every Steeler mistake. What was most impressive was that the Browns played like a team. This was a great team win by the Browns. They earned it and deserved it.

Now, here is where the result was NOT much of a surprise, if you paid attention. As I have said previously, the Steelers started out hot at 11-0 and I think they “read their own news clippings” about all the “undefeated season” talk and somehow got sidetracked, and lost to the Washington Football Team and the Steelers season went downhill from there. I realize their season got messed up because of the COVID outbreaks on the Titans, and that did contribute to the Steelers’ season going sideways.

However, Pittsburgh wound up as the AFC North Champions and with a 12-4 record. Despite all this, the Steelers did seem vulnerable coming into this playoff game. Even though I thought they could possibly lose, I still thought they were the better team and their experience in the playoffs coupled with the Browns’ issues would carry the Steelers to a win. That is why I picked them. I wound up being wrong.

The Steelers stumbled out of the starting gate by botching the center to quarterback exchange. That is not a typo. The very basic move in the NFL is botched on national TV and not only that, the ball went over Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger’s head and into the end zone, where a whole bunch of Browns defenders pounced on it for a touchdown. IThat wasn’t all. Roethlisberger threw a couple of interceptions. The Browns took advantage and it was 21-0 Browns. This is not a drill. This is real. Before one could say “I want to go to Primanti’s at halftime.” the score was 35-10 in the favor of the Browns.

The Steelers DID make a comeback, but the comeback was not enough and Roethlisberger threw 2 more interceptions, for a total of 4 INTs, along with 4 TDs. The Steelers QB also threw for 501 yards in the loss. Pittsburgh had no running attack and the defense was non-existent. Someone also needs to tell WR JuJu Smith-Schuster to stop giving opponents “bulletin board material.” I am not saying his stupid comment, “Browns is the Browns” was the reason the Steelers lost, but saying something like that gives the opponent more motivation. The opponent SHOULD ALREADY have motivation, anyway. They just should not have any extra ammo.

The Steelers organization is going to have to make some hard decisions about its team during the off-season. They will have several players becoming free agents, including Smith-Schuster. The one big decision surrounds their QB Ben Roethlisberger. His cap hit is about $41 million, if he is on the roster next season. Should he be on the roster, Roethlisberger will be 39 and I am not talking about an “in shape” 39. Roethlisberger has had a long history of injuries. Roethlisberger missed all of last season with the elbow. Big Ben is no longer mobile and has been in decline. The team needs to draft his replacement. They should have done it a long time ago.

FOOTBALL NEWS:

The Philadelphia Eagles have fired the most overrated coach in Doug Pederson. I suspected they would, especially after this tumultuous season. It wasn’t just a bad season, it was just horrendous, especially since it was obviously more than met the eye when it came to QB Carson Wentz. There had to have been some tension between him and Pedersen. Also, Pedersen’s strange decisions in games and that tank job to allow Football Team to win the game had to have bothered Eagles Ownership. Evidently, Eagles owner Lurie was looking at the long term future of the team and Pederson was more concerned with next season. I guess they were not “having much fun.”

I will say that it is obvious that the conflict between Carson Wentz and Doug Pederson had something to do with Pederson’s ousting. Obviously, ownership chose the quarterback. How attractive will the Eagles job be to prospective head coaching candidates? It depends on how willing the candidate wants to work with Wentz. Whomever lands the job, Wentz is going to have to play lights out next year, should he stay.

As most people know, soon after the Eagles’ winning Super Bowl 52 over the New England Patriots, the Eagles erected a statue to honor the “Philly Special,” which was the famous play that QB Nick Foles came up with to help win the game. Doug Pederson admitted he stole the play from the Patriots. The play is shown here: https://youtu.be/pGcSWCfnRNw . The statue shows Foles and Pederson talking to one another. To celebrate a sideline about a single play to celebrate a team’s first Super Bowl was silly then and it looks even more silly now. This latest incident is why you erect a statue for a player or coach, AFTER he/she has retired, not to celebrate one play and to inadvertently take a shot at your opponent.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick turned down the Presidential Medal of Freedom that was going to be awarded to him by the outgoing President. Here is Coach Belichick’s statement below:

When it was initially announced that Bill Belichick was picked to receive this award, the usual anti-Patriot rhetoric came out from the mainstream media. For example, CNN’s Jake Tapper went on Twitter and listed minor Patriots violations like Spygate (filming in the wrong place) and Deflategate (missing molecules of air in a ball, thanks to the weather) as if that had anything to do with the coup attempt in the Capitol, all because Trump had been a friend of Belichick, etc.. Here is his tweet: https://twitter.com/jaketapper/status/1348457974608637955?s=20 Mr. Tapper is also an Eagles fan, so there is that. I know people hate the Patriots for reasons real (greatest NFL dynasty ever, led by the greatest QB ever, etc.) and imagined (Patriots get all the calls and the NFL wants the Patriots to win the SB every year), but this nonsense by Tapper and others is way too much. Missing air is in the same category of an offense as an organized attempted coup and attempted assassinations on Vice President Michael Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by Insurrectionists. Wow. Talk about a reach.

I was pretty sure that Coach Belichick would reject the award. His late father, Steve Belichick, served in WWII in the Navy, and spent 34 years as a football scout at the United States Naval Academy. Bill Belichick has been very supportive of the military, especially the Naval Academy. Given this background, I always thought that Belichick was the type of person who would put the country first. After all, his football philosophy is “team first” and there is “no ‘I’ in team.” I just didn’t think he would accept the award, especially considering what happened on January 6th. Anyway, Bill Belichick, per the above statement, rejected the honor. I will say that the President will not be happy at the very least.

Well, that was my blog. Feedback is welcome. I will be back on Friday to give my picks for Division Round weekend.

FEEDBACK:

Email: Alydace@yahoo.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/missedgehead

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan

Posted in NFL, Politics, Sports, The Constitution, The NFL, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Predictions for the NFL 2020-21 Wild Card Weekend

by Terri Bey

On Tuesday, I wrote my blog recapping the NFL regular season. For those who missed it, here it is: A Wrap-Up of the NFL 2020-21 Regular Season | edgerocks (wordpress.com). For those who read it, thank you for reading it. I greatly appreciate it. I am here again to write another blog with my predictions for the first weekend of the NFL 2020-21 playoffs, on the way to Super Bowl 55, which is scheduled to be played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on February 7, 2021.

Thanks to a change in the playoffs seeding, because the NFL just HAD to just adopt the “everyone gets a trophy” method of doing things and add a seventh team to each conference. Therefore, only the #1 seed in each conference get the bye week off, instead of the #1 and the #2 seed in both conferences getting the bye week off. I personally think this is ridiculous. Winning a title in any sport is supposed to be difficult and it is also supposed to be difficult to qualify for the tournament as well.

There are very interesting storylines going through each of the games this weekend. As there are six of them, three on Saturday and three on Sunday, I am going to get right into discussing them, as there is much to discuss. I hope you will enjoy this blog and feedback is welcomed and encouraged.

WILD CARD PREDICTIONS:

Games for Saturday, January 9, 2021

Buffalo Bills (#2) vs Indianapolis Colts (#7)

This game will be played at Bills Stadium in Orchard Park, NY and kickoff will be at 1:05PM, EST on CBS.

The Buffalo Bills, who won the AFC East for the first time since 1995, are coming in with the #2 ranked offense and the #14th ranked defense against an Indianapolis Colts team with the 10th ranked offense and the 8th ranked defense. The Bills are the most complete team in the entire playoffs in both conferences, in my view. This will be a tough game for the Colts to beat, despite the veteran presence of QB Philip Rivers, who has been prone to making that critical mistake, while Bills QB Josh Allen is having a fantastic year that is so impressive that some feel he should be in the MVP discussion.

The Colts do have a pretty stout defense and would need to try to make the Bills one dimenstional as the Bills are ranked 20th in rushing. The Bills are 2nd in passing, so it is fortunate that the Colts are getting Safety Kharl Willis from the concussion protocol. A couple of injuries to watch for are Bills WR Stefon Diggs’ oblique injury and Bills Wr Cole Beasley’s knee injury. Diggs claims he will be playing, but coach Sean McDermott said that Diggs’ status is uncertain as Diggs was limited in practice this week. If one or both can’t go, that will hamper the Bills chances.

PREDICTION: The Colts have a good team and made the playoffs. I think they will score points, but the game is at Orchard Park. As of this writing, there will be fans allowed, so Bills Mafia will be there and the Bills are playing as well as anyone and are having fun. I expect the Bills to win handily. Bills 35-14.

Seattle Seahawks (#3) vs Los Angeles Rams (#6)

This game will be played at Lumen Stadium in Seattle, WA and kickoff will be at 4:40PM, EST on FOX.

This is an obvious divisional rivalry game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Los Angeles Rams. From looking at where each team ranks in the various categories, both teams are pretty evenly matched, with the exception of one category, defense. The Seahawks have the #1 ranked defense in the NFL, after that unit stumbled out of the gate so badly that QB Russell Wilson had to pretty much carry the team. Well, now they are the #1 defensive unit in the league. The Rams have the #22nd ranked defense in the NFL, even though they still have DT Aaron Donald.

Even though defenders like Jamal Adams, Jarren Reed and Shaquill Griffin have battled injuries, word is that they will play and Seattle will be coming into the game healthy on both sides of the ball. Rams QB Jared Goff has been battling a broken finger on his throwing hand. Will he finish the game? We will see.

PREDICTION: As both of these teams are division rivals, I don’t expect a high scoring game at first, due to their familiarity with each other. However, I do expect the Seattle defense to take over and Russ Wilson, along with D.J. Metcalf to help pull away from the Rams. Score: Seahawks 27-18.

Washington Football Team (#4) vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (#5)

This game will be played at FedEx Field in Landover, MD and kickoff will be at 8:15PM, EST on NBC.

This will be a pretty interesting match up. Here is the greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady with his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, facing the Washington Football Team and their 7-9 record. Brady also comes in as a Wild Card for the first time in his career. Remember, in last year’s playoffs, he came in during the Wild Card weekend as a Division winner. Did I also say that Brady is coming off one of the best seasons of his career, where he threw 40 TDs and for 4600 yards and rushed for 3 TDs? Did I say he is 43? The Football Team has two feel-good stories in QB Alex Smith, who is returning from a severe and nearly life-threatening leg injury and head coach Ron Rivera, who was battling cancer and defeated it during the season. The Washington Football Team also conquered another cancer in problematic former 1st round pick in Dwayne Haskins, by releasing him, when his behavior was just out of control. There were many instances of this outrageous behavior, but the straw that broke the camel’s back was video of Haskins in a club without a mask, openly violating the NFL’s COVID protocols. Haskins had to go. His poor playing didn’t help, either.

One particular storyline that plays into the match-ups is Football Team’s Defensive End Chase Young. After the team defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, with the assistance of the Eagles, Chase Young was recorded calling out the G.O.A.T Tom Brady, as he ran off the field, saying, “I want Tom.” He even doubled down on it. Of course, ESPN and the sports media went crazy. I think the young man is just enthusiastic about playing against the G.O.A.T. I mean, what young player wouldn’t. If he gets to sack Brady, he could tell his kids and his grandkids about how he sacked the greatest quarterback to ever play the game.

Regardless, the Washington Football Team has the #2 ranked defense in the NFL, so this team is no joke in that department, so the Buccaneers offensive line has to protect Tom Brady at all cost. The Buccaneers have the 6th ranked defense vs the Football Team’s 30th ranked offense. The defenses definitely could keep the scores low or maybe into the 20s. However, I do feel that Brady, who is still brilliant at 43, has too many weapons, such as TE Rob Gronkowski and RB Leonard Fournette, to name a few, and Football team’s secondary is a bit suspect. In fact, one of Brady’s weapons, WR Mike Evans, who hyperextended his knee in the Week 17 win over the Atlanta Falcons, has a chance to play on Saturday. He finally practiced in a limited role on Thursday and is a game-time decision. Even without him, that wide receiver core will be able to handle their duties.

PREDICTION: I think Washington’s defense will keep the score close for a bit, but I just don’t think their offense will be able to put up enough points to win them the game. QB Alex Smith is a nice story, but he is also battling a calf injury and head coach Ron Rivera said he may have to use both QB Taylor Heinicke and Smith. In fact, Heinicke has been taking most of the snaps in practice, per reports. The Buccaneers have been playing well, of late. They need to get started a bit quicker and coach Bruce Arians and his offensive staff need to keep out of Brady’s way. Will Chase Young get a sack, just to say he “sacked the G.O.A.T?” Possibly. However, I do think that Brady’s Bucs get the best of the young man. See what I did there? Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 30-20.

Games for Sunday, January 10, 2021:

Tennessee Titans (#4) vs Baltimore Ravens (#5)

This game will be played at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN and kickoff will be at 1:05PM, EST on ESPN.

This game should be a very interesting match-up between the Balimore Ravens and their #1 ranked rushing offense and the Tennessee Titans and their #2 ranked rushing attack. The Ravens have the #7th ranked defense and are facing the #3 ranked offense in the Titans. The Titans come into this game, having just fending off rival Houston in a crazy finish to win their division and the Ravens had to make a five game winning streak just to make the playoffs, after losing to Pittsburgh and also dealing with a huge COVID outbreak.

Some interesting storylines here concern MVP candidate Derrick Henry of the Titans and Ravens QB Lamar Jackson. Can Derrick Henry once again run all over an opponent’s defense and take over this game, like he did last year to the Patriots? Can Titans QB Ryan Tannehill take care of the ball and help score enough points?

On the Baltimore side, can QB Lamar Jackson stand in the pocket and throw or will he have to depend on his legs? Can the Titans defense stop Jackson when he breaks containment, especially on short yardage situations? Jackson is also going to want to win this game, so he can win his first playoff game of his career, as he is 0-2 in playoff games.

PREDICTION: I think this will be a low to mid-scoring game Derrick Henry will get his yards and a couple of scores. I know the Titans are at home and I am sure coach Mike Vrabel will have something up his sleeve, but I think Baltimore and Lamar Jackson are going to be a bit too much. Baltimore: 28-20.

New Orleans Saints (#2) vs Chicago Bears (#7)

This game will be played at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA and kickoff will be at 4:40PM, EST on FOX.

The Chicago Bears needed two starting quarterbacks, Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles to get to the playoffs, but they got here. They are headed to New Orleans to face New Orleans Saints’ QB Drew Brees and his teammates. This game, on paper, is a definite mismatch. They don’t play the game on paper, so I am going to have to give you my opinion.

Do the Bears have a chance? If you watched their game against the Green Bay Packers a few weeks ago, there were points in the the game, where the Bears kept up with the Packers. There were a few times where Bears defenders should have intercepted Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Trubisky played decently at times. The Bears are going to have to step up their game, if they want to take down Brees and his team.

PREDICTION: Drew Brees, even though he is going into this game horribly banged up with rib injuries, is still one of the best in the game. I realize he has been playing to get back into “shape,” but I expect him to play well in this game. Like Brady against the Washington Football Team, Brees has too many weapons also. One particular weapon, RB Alvin Kamara was on the COVID-19 Reserve list and has been practicing with the team via remote. Kamara made a cryptic tweet, saying he will play. We will see.

Regardless, the Saints defense is ranked 4th in the league and the Bears have the 26th ranked offense. Well, I have bad news for the Chicago Bears. Cue WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon’s music.

Credit: MrCMPunkHD

Saints 35-10.

Pittsburgh Steelers (#3) vs Cleveland Browns (#6)

This game will be played at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA and airs on NBC. Kickoff will be 8:15PM, EST on NBC.

This Sunday will be the third time the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns meet. However, one moves on and the other goes home. Both teams come into this game with auras of uncertainty. Which Steelers team are we going to get? Are we going to get the Steelers who started out red-hot at 11-0, or are we going to get the stumbling and bumbling Steelers who won 1 of their last 5 games? I mean, their backups lost to the Browns, who weren’t at full strength, thanks to COVID. In speaking of COVID, the Browns are dealing with that. How hampered are the Browns going to be, thanks to COVID? The team is going to be down several players and even their head coach, Kevin Stefanski, who tested positive for the disease. There are also more players testing positive, causing the practice facility to be closed, but the game will go on, per the NFL.

The Steelers have a great advantage in that they have the #3 ranked defense. The defense will be without Joe Haden, who tested positive for COVID. The team does have a whole list of injuries, including WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was added to Thursday’s injury report with a knee injury and didn’t practice, so that is one to watch. I hate to call him the wild card, no pun intended, but QB Ben Roethlisberger fits the description. His play was very concerning in the last several games. I don’t know if it his elbow injury or the knee or he is in some decline, but he has to play better.

On the Browns side, the loss of head coach Kevin Stefanski is a major blow. QB Baker Mayfield has flourished under Stefanski. Of course, it hasn’t been perfect for Mayfield and for the entire team. COVID affected the availability of the team’s entire receiver core before their encounter with the hapless New York Jets. The Browns lost that game, even though they should have won it. The Browns do come into this game with the #3 ranked rushing attack. I expect RB Nick Chubbs to get his yards. The Browns defense isn’t too bad, being led by DE Myles Garrett, is ranked at #17.

PREDICTION: I am expecting a hard-hitting and fairly low to mid-scoring game, given the two teams being very familiar with one another. Can the Browns win this game? It is possible, but I think the fact that they are going to be without their head coach and other players will be too big of an obstacle. The Browns would have to play a near perfect game. The Steelers can not let their guard down and “play down” to the Browns’ level, like they have a terrible habit of doing, even though they are the better team. The Steelers need to knock the Browns out early and not let them back into the game. The game is at Heinz Field and even though there won’t be a stadium filled with Terrible Towels, I think this is still an advantage for the Steelers. Steelers 24-20.

Those are my picks for the NFL 2020-21 Wild Card Weekend. I wish all teams and their fanbases good luck and for no major injuries. I hope everyone will enjoy the games. Thank you for reading and feedback is below.

Feedback:

Email: Alydace@yahoo.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/missedgehead

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan

Posted in NFL, Sports, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Wrap-Up of the NFL 2020-21 Regular Season

by Terri Bey

I first want to wish my readers a very happy new year. I know last year was tough for everyone, due to the COVID pandemic. I want to extend my prayers and condolences to my readers and to everyone who has either been diagnosed with COVID or has a family member/friend who has been diagnosed with the illness or has had a family member/friend die from this terrible disease. I also want to say I hope that this pandemic ends soon and I hope that this year will be the beginning of the end of this pandemic.

In speaking of COVID, the 2020-21 NFL regular season ended on January 3, 2021 and it was a rather strange season, to say the least, thanks in part to the COVID pandemic. The pandemic wrecked havoc on teams and scheduling, as just about every team had to deal with positives and closings of practice facilities, etc. Games had to be moved, much to the dismay of players and to the detriment of teams. COVID positives are even affecting teams going into the playoffs, but I will discuss that in my upcoming playoff blog.

In this blog, I will be discussing the ups and downs of a very strange NFL season. I will be discussing the controversies and the good, the bad and the ugly of the 2020-21 NFL regular season. I hope my readers enjoy this blog. Feedback is welcomed and encouraged.

THE GOOD:

The NFL’s ability to finish all 256 games during the COVID Pandemic.

The COVID pandemic was causing life to pretty much stop, including the majority of the sports world. With the exception of was deemed “essential,” like grocery shopping, certain medical appointments, etc, everything was shutdown. Concerts and live events canceled. Restaurants and cosmetologists and other “non-essential businesses were shut down. Sports were not immune, as the NCAA Finals were canceled. The NBA and NHL seasons were paused and the MLB season opener was postponed. The ONLY sport that was fully functional, even though no fans were allowed, was Thoroughbred Racing, a fact which the media ignored.

While the NBA and NHL and MLB figured out ways to complete their seasons, NFL fans wondered what the NFL was going to do about their upcoming season. After all, the months that make up the NFL season, post-season and the Super Bowl, September to February, are the months where people are inside more and the virus will more quickly spread. Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, the foremost expert on communicable diseases, was skeptical of the NFL season even happening at all. There also the naysayers and many in the media who didn’t want the season to even happen.

Well, even though the NFL eliminated the OTAs, only allowed training camp, allowed virtual meetings and canceled the pre-season games, the NFL was able to start the season on time and complete the season, without canceling a single game. Was it perfect? No. The NFL had to change their COVID protocols several times. There were penalties for violations of COVID protocols. Games were moved because of outbreaks and it definitely hurt some teams, like the Pittsburgh Steelers who lost their bye week, because the Tennessee Titans’ outbreak and then had to have their Thanksgiving game against the Baltimore Ravens moved a couple of times, because of the Ravens having an outbreak.

It wasn’t perfect, but it was a great accomplishment by the NFL. As someone who loves the NFL and loves to watch football, I was glad to see the NFL being able to have their season. I am also very well aware of the pandemic and the damage it has done to people, physically and mentally. I am giving the NFL praise here, because the pandemic has also taken away so much joy from people who were looking forward to various events. It was good to see something normal, like watching the NFL on Sundays, as the sense of normalcy has been taken away by the pandemic.

The AFC East Champs Buffalo Bills.

The Buffalo Bills won the AFC East for the first time since 1995 and not only that, they made the playoffs as the #2 Seed. Had the NFL not added an extra team in the playoffs, the BIlls’ having the #2 Seed would be a bigger deal, as they would have gotten a bye, but this was cool. This looks like a fun team to watch. One of my favorite announcers was the late Tim Russert, who died at age 58, would have been so happy. This team looks like it could make some noise in the playoffs.

Washington Football Team‘s QB Alex Smith and Head Coach Ron Rivera

If there was a shoe-in for the award for “Comeback Player of the Year,” it would be Washington Football Team QB Alex Smith. I personally think it should be Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger, but I digress. Smith returned to the field, earlier this year, and while his stats don’t light up the board, the fact he was able to return at all is a miracle. As most of my readers know, Smith has come all the way back from a very severe leg injury, which after surgery, Smith developed infections and nearly needed amputation and he nearly lost his life. Smith led the Washington Football team to the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

If there was such a Comeback Coach of the Year Award, it should go to the team’s coach, Ron Rivera, who was coaching while battling cancer. Rivera was undergoing cancer treatments. What a testament to Rivera.

Tom Brady’s Play with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What else is there to say about the G.O.A.T? Tom Brady is just that special. After a few rough patches and a “getting to know you” period with Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach, Bruce Arians, Brady is on fire. Brady has thrown for 40 TDs, 11 INTs, and 4600 yards and ran for 3 TDs. Sure, Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers will likely be voted MVP. Kansas City Chiefs Patrick Mahomes has all the fancy moves on the field and all. Give me Tom Brady as the best QB in the NFL.

The Cleveland Browns Making the Playoffs

The Cleveland Browns, on January 3, 2021, kicked off the new year by defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers and made history by making the playoffs for the first time in team history since 2002 This is an awesome achievement by the Browns. Yes, the team did beat the Steelers’ backups as Steelers coach Mike Tomlin sat Roethlisberger and other starters, but the Browns won, so they made it. Congrats to them.

THE BAD

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Inconsistency

The Pittsburgh Steelers came out like a house on fire, with an 11-0 record and then faltered down the stretch, finishing with a final record of 12-4 and only winning once in the last five games of the season after losing their undefeated season to Washington Football Team. While I do concede they were affected by both of the aforementioned COVID outbreaks of the Titans and Ravens and they were affected by a ton of injuries, but seeing Roethlisberger miss open receivers and seeing receivers dropping passes as if the balls were hot potatoes is very concerning. Even during their 11-0 run, I saw some issues, like playing down to their opponent.

New England Patriots Media and Fans, in reaction to Tom Brady’s Patriot Departure

When Tom Brady left the Patriots in free agency, I correctly guessed that the media was going to play the old, “Belichick vs Brady” routine. I was also interested to see how fans would react to Brady’s leaving and being on another team. I also wanted to see the reaction to a new quarterback. I was not surprised at the responses.

Some of the fans who were hating on Brady for making his own business decisions were just petty. Many were so ungrateful for the man did for their franchise. I was embarrassed for them. The media was even worse. During each game of the season, some in the media acted as if Brady was “playing” against Belichick. I thought it was just ridiculous.

When former NFL MVP Cam Newton took over as quarterback, there were mixed responses. Newton started off well, and then got COVID. He struggled for a lot of the season. There were a lot of fans calling for Stidham. There were some fans and media trying to discredit Belichick, which was absurd, like it was his fault half the defense opted out due to COVID.

THE UGLY

The NFC EAST, AKA The NFC (L)EAST

Where do I begin with these teams? None of the NFC East teams, the Philadelphia Eagles, the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys and the Division winning Washington Football Team have a winning record. All of them have sub-.500 records. These teams were so horrendous that seven games was all that was required to win the division. I know the Cowboys had a major injury strike QB Dak Prescott and the Giants lost RB Saquon Barkley for the season, but seriously. The Eagles had quarterback issues as did Washington What a mess this division was.

Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Doug Pedersen’s Tanking the Game on NBC in Week 17.

Everyone in the NFL got through 255 games during a pandemic. It just HAD to be the 256th and final regular season game where a head coach had to do something so outrageous that even his own players were mad at him. I am just stunned.

On NBC, during a live broadcast on national TV, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pedersen, the most overrated head coach in the NFL, sees his team down 17-14 in the 4th quarter. Pedersen yanks QB Jalen Hurts and puts backup QB Nate Sudfeld, because in Pedersen’s own words, “to give him some reps.” Well, for anyone who saw the game like I did, Pedersen’s decision torpedoed his team’s chances of winning. Fans, media and those in the NFL were perplexed and some were angry at Petersen’s decision. Even some of his own players were angry with him. Per CBS Sports, some players had to be restrained from approaching their head coach. (Doug Pederson’s benching of Jalen Hurts outraged Eagles players and led to sideline confrontations, per report – CBSSports.com )

I realize that the outcome of the game would have decided whether Washington or the New York Giants would have won the division. Had the Eagles won, the 6-10 Giants would have won the division, as they eliminated the Cowboys earlier that day. As the Eagles lost, Washington wins the division and the Giants were eliminated. I get all that. Of course, the Giants should have won more games. However, what Pedersen did was tank in front of a nation-wide audience. Pedersen is supposed to be coaching to win and not take out the QB who was giving his team the best chance to win, because he “wanted Sudfeld to get some snaps.” If you watched the game, Jalen Hurts WAS the offense as he scored two TDs by himself. If anyone wants to talk about “integrity of the game,” well the stunt that Pedersen pulled is an integrity issue. Should the Eagles be investigated? Yes. Will they? Of course not.

The Los Angeles Rams and the Cleveland Browns losing to the New York Jets.

The Rams were kicking butt and taking names for awhile. They were looking like world-beaters after winning 4 out of their last 5. They even got “revenge,” if you can call it that, by crushing the New England Patriots. The Rams are on such a high, until they faced the then 0-14 New York Jets. The Jets were pretty much finishing out the string to land Trever Lawrence. However, the Jets players had a different thing in mind. They played their butts off and beat the Rams. The Rams were defeated by an 0-14 team. How on earth do you lose to a team like that?

The next win that the New York Jets got, came at the expense of the Cleveland Browns in Week 16. All the Browns had to do was beat the Jets. Well, COVID got in the way as because one of the Browns’ receivers got COVID and because most of the receivers were in “close contact,” most of the Browns receivers were on the COVID list, so poor Browns QB Baker Mayfield had practically no one to throw to. However, even with a couple of backup, the Browns should have won the game, but no. Thanks to some boneheaded decisions by Mayfield and other screwups, the Browns lost to the Jets, who also fired that terrible Adam Gase, who was their head coach.

The New York Jets Organization.

The New York Jets are a terrible organization from top to bottom. The hiring of Adam Gase as head coach was the first mistake. Keeping him for a second year and their general manager Joe Douglas’ doubling down on his support for Gase during this season was even worse. QB Samuel Darnold’s confidence has to be shaken and I am not so sure his career can even be saved, thanks to the team’s mismanagement. The one good thing this organization did was fire Gregg Williams, the defensive coordinator when his boneheaded playcall cost the team a win against the Raiders.

Overall, I don’t think this is a very good organization. I think the team needs new ownership.

That is my blog to wrap up the NFL 2020-21 Regular Season. I will be back Thursday or Friday with my Wild Card Weekend Preview Blog. I hope you enjoyed this.

Feedback:

Email: Alydace@yahoo.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/missedgehead

Posted in NFL, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thirty Years Gone-Alydar’s Passing Still Hurts

by Terri Bey

Before I start this blog, I want to emphasize that the absolute TWO WORST days of my life was when I lost my parents. No two days in my life were as bad as those two days. I write this disclaimer, so no one gets the wrong idea.

Tomorrow will be the 30th “anniversary” of one of the worst days of my life. I remember it all too well. On the evening of November 15, 1990, I was at home in Edison, NJ, where I was living with my mother at the time. My father had passed four years earlier and my mother would pass away around seven years later. Anyway, on this particular evening, we had the local CBS news on and my mother was lying down and waiting for me to finish cooking dinner. I had just closed the the oven after checking on the chicken we were going to have, when I heard CBS sportscaster Warner Wolf say something about Alydar, the famous rival of 1978 Triple Crown winner of Affirmed.

As Alydar’s my all-time favorite racehorse, I had to go see what Warner Wolf had to say. In the back of my head, I was hoping it wasn’t bad news. After all, a couple of weeks earlier, three horses had died at the 1990 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, including the brilliant 3YO filly Go For Wand and the legendary Secretariat had died 13 months earlier from laminitis. Unfortunately, Warner Wolf announced the news that I didn’t want to hear. Alydar had to be euthanized one day after surgery. He was 15. Wolf also showed the 1978 Belmont, where Alydar and Affirmed had that famous head to head battle with Affirmed just holding off Alydar for the win and the Triple Crown.

I remember shouting, “No!” My mother was semi-awake and asked, “Who died?” I told her it was Alydar. She was a bit sad about it. I could not believe it. I was absolutely heartbroken. I cheered him on during the 1978 season. I followed just about all of his sons and daughters, such as Althea, Miss Oceana, Easy Goer and Alysheba, and every horse that had him in his or her family. As we horse people say, he was and still is my “heart horse.” I didn’t want to believe that my beloved Alydar was dead. I remember switching to the two other channels, NBC and ABC, as all three local networks ran their sports news at about the same time. Both reported Alydar’s passing and showed the 1978 Belmont. Here I am. I am changing the channels, as if the news was going to be different on the other stations. Grief certainly does do a number on you. It certainly did a number on me that night.

I was also a student at Middlesex County Community College at the time and it was very tough for me to get through my homework that horrible night. After going to bed, I got up and went downstairs just in time to hear Warner Wolf announce Alydar’s passing. I cut out the small article about Alydar’s passing in the News Tribune, our local paper. The next morning at the bus stop, I saw a man with the New York Post in his hand and I could see the sports headline saying, “ALYDAR DEAD.” Seeing that was like a punch to the gut. It was so final. My favorite horse ever was gone and I had to accept it.

As most racing fans and those in the industry know, the official word from the legendary Calumet Farm who owned and bred Alydar was that Alydar kicked his barn door and broke his right hind cannon bone. An operation was done and Alydar’s leg was put in a sling. In the recovery room, Alydar was fighting the sling and also got attracted to some mares outside and the sling was removed. Alydar tried walking and unfortunately slipped and broke his femor and had to be euthanized. I don’t want to get too into this, but as sad as I was about what happened, I realized that these things are unfortunate and do happen. However, when rumors of some suspicious activities surrounding Alydar’s injury started circulating, I was stunned. You can read more in, “Wild Ride: The Rise and Fall of Calumet Farm Inc. , America’s Premier Racing Dynasty” by Ann Hagedorn Auerbach. I am NOT saying the suspicions are fact, not at all, but I found them to be interesting and IF true, to be quite upsetting. Ms. Auerbach’s book definitely is a recommended read and has shaped my opinion of the racing and breeding business and of business in general.

To get through my grief, I knew there would be a few more crops of Alydar’s offspring to come. One particular offspring did bring a lot of joy to my broken heart and his name was Strike the Gold. Strike the Gold was bred by Calumet, but due to the farm’s financial difficulties, he was sold as a yearling to B. Giles Brophy, William J. Condren, and Joseph M. Cornacchia for $500,000. Trained by Nick Zito, Strike the Gold broke his maiden, meaning won his first race as a 2YO, ironically, on November 15, 1990, the very day Alydar died. This is a great example of a symbolic passing of the torch, if I ever saw one.

The passing of the torch would be an omen of good things to come because as a 3YO the following year, Strike the Gold would go on to finish second in the Florida Derby, a prep race for the Kentucky Derby to Fly So Free, the prohibitive 1991 Kentucky Derby favorite Three weeks later, Strike the Gold turned the tables on Fly So Free and won the Bluegrass Stakes, a race his late sire Alydar had also won back in 1978 In the 1991 Kentucky Derby, despite being about a dozen or so lengths back, Strike the Gold with the late Chris Antley aboard, made his move down the backstretch and was about 5th or so at the top of the stretch and was way outside. Coming down the stretch, Strike the Gold took the lead and won the Kentucky Derby.

I was cheering Strike the Gold all the way. I was jumping up and down and crying. I was so happy that Alydar had sired another Derby winner, Alysheba being his first. Even though Strike the Gold would not win another race for almost a year, even though he did run a valiant second to Hansel in the 1991 Belmont, I still cheered him on and over the years, I was still able to “follow Alydar,” by looking at horse’s pedigrees. There have been many horses I love who have Alydar in their family, like Gio Ponti, Point Given and Hard Spun. What I mean is that it has to go through the horse’s dam, as stallions can have many offspring and mares can only have one a year on average. I will “cheat” a little and be happy if Alydar is in the horse’s sire’s family also, like Blame, who is sired by Arch who has Althea on his (Arch) dam’s side.

Even so, every time November 15th rolls around, I can still remember the sadness of losing Alydar. After all, he was only fifteen when he died. Whatever the circumstances of his injury were, he was robbed of at least another 5-10 years of life. As a stallion, he was robbed of at least five or six years of breeding and the racing and breeding world were also robbed as well. Alydar was undoubtedly a champion sire. Alydar’s influence on the breeding world was and still is greatly missed as he is a Classic Chef-de-race, according to the Roman-Miller dosage system. While his sons didn’t turn out to be good sires, he was an awesome broodmare sire.

Why do I mourn Alydar or a racehorse, for that matter? Well, it is the same concept as why I and many of my fellow rock fans are mourning the loss of guitar great Eddie Van Halen or mourning the loss of drummer Neil Peart. It is why fans of any celebrity or sports star mourn the loss of their favorite when said favorite passes. Well, Alydar grabbed my heart and I just loved how he never gave up against Affirmed. As human celebrities become part of our lives and in many ways parts of our family, so do racehorses to us horse racing fans. To us horse rans, these brave horses are athletes just as much as humans are. We horse fans cheer for them and are happy when they win and are disappointed when they lose, just like our favorite human athletes. We horse racing fans even have debates over horses, just like other sports fans who debate which team or which athlete is better. When a racehorse dies, we fans mourn them, too.

Alydar has meant so much to me. Like Seattle Slew before him, he was one of the first heroes I ever had, before the human ones came along, one being Muhammed Ali and a little rock band called KISS, both of whom I am sure you have heard of. Losing Alydar was like losing a part of my childhood, when I heard the news, back in 1990. Thirty years later, the pain is there, but I realize that I am grateful for the time that Alydar was on this earth and through some of today’s horses, his legacy remains.

Thanks Alydar for everything. I will see you again.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this blog. Feedback is welcomed and encouraged.

Feedback:

Email: Alydace@yahoo.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/missedgehead

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan

Posted in Sports, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment