Thursday, October 3, 2013

NFL - Magna Carta...3 Hail Marys

by Sean Coffey

Jay Z live then the Niners, the REAL Super Sunday

"Thanks for checking out this link tonightYou could have been on any link in the world. But you’re here with me.I appreciate that"

When the winter comes, Sunday is my favorite day of the week. Football day! However, this Sunday is more special than others. I couldn’t have planned this Sunday any better. Niners are playing the late game on Sunday night. Before that, I’m heading to the O2 to see the one and only Jay Z. Although I’ve been to multiple Jay Z gigs, I still go on a big Jay Z buzz leading up to the gig. So whether I’m on the road, in the gym, cooking dinner or in the shower, my boy Jay Z is playing on some system all this week. 

So I could think of no other way to do this blog than reviewing every NFL at the quarter mark of the season to the lyrics of Hova.

Lets Go Get ‘Em Again

“I’m so far ahead of my time; I’m bout to start another life/ Look behind you, I’m bout to pass you twice.” - Hovi Baby

“Difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week” - Diamonds (Remix)

Ball So Hard, he’s definitely in his zone

There a very few rappers as good as Jay Z when it comes to boasting in their lyrics then backing it up. No. 18 of the Denver Broncos gets two lyrics dedicated to him (partially because the Diamonds Remix has one of the best Jay Z lyrics ever). Peyton Manning has taken his career to another level at the Broncos. While the Pats are quietly 4-0, Manning is getting all the attention as he is on a quest to set all kinds of QB records this season! His four TDs Sunday against the Eagles gave him 16 for the month of September, two more than the previous record set by Dan Marino. He’s also the only QB since 1960 to throw that many TDs without an interception. Right now, he leads the league in completions (117), completion percentage (75.0), yards (1,470), touchdowns (16) and passer rating (138.0).

“How you get so fly? From not being afraid to fall out the sky.” - Beach Chair

Beach Chair, featuring Coldplay’s Chris Martin, finishes of the 2006 Kingdom Come album. And this could be the year that the Seahawks reach the promised land. In my blog about Seattle, I put them as favourites for the NFC Championship if they can win on the road. Their comeback overtime victory against the Texans last week shows that they can. The Superbowl favourite matchup, at this stage of the season, has to be Seattle-Denver.

“If everyone body in your clique is rich, your click is rugged.
Nobody will fall cause everyone will be each others crutches” - Feelin’ It

Team mentality or not, that’s not cool!

The New England Patriots are quietly 4-0. With the exception of the victory in the late game Sunday, they’ve been largely unimpressive. But they’re winning. Despite Tom Brady’s superstar status in the NFL, Bill Belichick and the Pats have always personified a team mentality. The single introductions traditions at the Superbowl are done away with thanks to the trend New England set in their 2001 Superbowl victory over the Rams. Tom Brady was not himself during the first three games as it took a team effort to get the W. And they’re still missing their star receiver in tight end Rob Gronkowski as well as Danny Amendola, who could be dangerous if he manages to stay healthy. Big ‘if’ on that but the Patriots have proved over the years that their philosophy is a successful one. And nobody can rule them out. 

“Y'all think Michael Jordan bad?
N*gga I got a 5 more rings than Michael Jordan had,Elvis has left the building now I’m on the Beatles ass.” - Illest Motherfucker Alive

With 11 number one albums, 5 more rings than Jordan, Jay Z bypassed Elvis’ record and only the Beatles have more US number one albums than him. Adrian Peterson was in a league of his own last year. This year he’s got 421 yards and 5 TDs. By that standard, that's 1,684 yards for the season. Great numbers for a running back but well off the 2,500 mark he set for himself. 140 yards of them where against the lowly Steelers while 87 more yards were in one play against the Detroit Lions on the opening day. Calvin Johnson and the Lions are leading that division. Megatron has been setting records himself. He broke last year's receiving yard record by over 100 yards. That now stands at 1,964. At the quarter mark, he is on 312 yards. 

“Whatever in me guides my life, Dear Lord don’t Let Me Die tonight,But if I shall before I wake, what shall I say? It’s been a good run” - Don’t Let Me Die

Not one of my favorite Jay Z tracks, nor albums since half of it is with R.Kelly and I’d rather listen to Watch The Throne. But anytime a rapper gets quoted by The Rock, it’s an awesome line that somehow has to be shoe horned into this blog.

There is always one team that declines every year. While a lot of talk is on the Niners (more on that later) [Ed's Note: You're going to talk about the Niners? No way?] it could be the 1-3 Atlanta Falcons. They were unlucky against the Patriots. But last year a lot of luck was in their favour in close games. That luck seems to have gone as they're now losing those close games. A few more close loses like this could demoralise their team that has seen them already been taken over by the Saints as the NFC South’s best. It’s too early to tell which direction the 1-2 Green Bay Packers are going. After their bye week, you would usually expect them to beat the Lions. However, Detroit are top of the division after knocking off the Bears last week. I just can’t imagine Aaron Rodgers’ run to be over yet.

“If skilled sold then truth be told,I'd probably be, lyrically Talib Kweli, Truthfully I wanna rhyme like Common Sense,but I did 5 mil,I ain’t been rhymin' like Common since!” - Moment of Clarity

In this lyric, Jay Z tells us he doesn’t go at his absolute best lyrically because that doesn’t always lead to success. Colin Kaepernick showed last year that he can run the ball very successfully, you only need to look at the Packers playoff game to see that. However the Niners lost to a team that had a QB not known for running the football in Joe Flacco. The most dominant QB this year is Peyton Manning. Remember him getting 60 yard gains with his feet? Neither do I. Tom Brady run? And you really wonder now why he got drafted so low? (Apologies for the Jags quality on the video) 

So while Kaepernick can run when necessary, he’s passing a lot more because that’s the most successful formula. Even in last week's 35-11 rout of the Rams, there were times where Kap could have ran the football but chose to find Boldin with the pass instead. We are a quarter of the way through the season. There are a number of questions being raised on a Niners regression. Kaepernick doesn’t have last year’s number one receiver in  Michael Crabtree right now. But he will. He doesn’t the number two in Mario Manningham. But he will. Those two, along with Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis (who has a few TDs already) makes a scary receiving corp. Add to that the returning LaMichael James who was very effective in the playoffs last year. On defense, the Niners are still one of the best. They have arguably 2 of the top 5 linebackers in the league with Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman. They also have Donte Hitner... yep, he changed his name from Whitner to Hitner after being fined the last game against the Rams for a hit... yep. What more can I say?

“Conspiracy theorist screaming Illuminati,They can't believe this much skill is in the human body,He's 6'2, how the fuck he fit in a new Bugatti? Aw fuck it you got me” - Heaven

It’s very easy to write about Peyton Manning on this one... or, if this was last year, Adrian Peterson. But I’m going with Drew Brees here. With Sean Payton back as head coach, Brees is back doing what he does best. They’ve already beaten Atlanta on their way to 4-0. He has 1,434 yards thus far with 10 TDs. That’s an average of nearly 360 yards a game. To put that into a little bit of perspective, Seahawks 4-0 QB, Russell Wilson,  has 787 yards and 6 TDs.

“They say you can't turn a bad girl good, But once a good girl's gone bad, she's gone forever...And more forever,Shit I gotta live with the fact I did you wrong forever” - Song Cry

A slightly different context to this lyric (which Rihanna used for her album title that turned her into a mega star... the fuck that has to do with football I do not know). Mike Tomlin, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers are a good team gone bad. Really bad! The ending to the Wembley game, with Roethlisberger being stripped during a comeback drive, exemplifies their season thus far: pathetic. Losing to an 0-3 team, becoming 0-4 is the start of a good case to being the league’s worst team. This is a franchise with the most Superbowl wins ever (6). Don’t agree with me? 

"Right now, you could say we're the worst team in the league. That hurts." That quote is from Big Ben himself. Well, at least the London game was entertaining, if nothing else. 

“Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk. Martin Luther King walked so Obama could run. Obama's running so we all can fly” - My President Is Black

Jay Z illustrates the progression of how black people have impacted society up until the present date. Just like the NFL offense has progressed and evolved over the years, particularly the read option. With the US Government shut down (whether Obama is at fault or not is not something I’m capable of discussing in a football blog due to the off switch that goes in my head when it comes to politics) [Ed's Note: is and it isn't. Long story] the light on the 44th US President is not as bright as it once was. Neither is the read option. RG3 and the Redskins are 1-3, largely thanks to their defense last Sunday. Apart from the first half against the Washington, the Eagles have been hit and miss on the read option. They’re now 1-3 after that phenomenal first half of that game. Kaepernick and the 49ers have largely avoided using it, instead choosing to use Kaepernick to roll out to his right or going back to old way, Gore just pounding his way up the middle. And Seattle? Well they’re on fire, beating teams in any way they choose. Defense co-ordinators have seem to come up with the answer to the read option that ran rampant over the league last year.

“When you first come in the game, they try to play you,Then you drop a couple of hits, look how they wave to you” - Encore

Ryan Tannenhill was largely forgotten about last year when people talked about this new breed of QB [Ed's Note: AHEM! Not by some people!], with Wilson, RG3 and Andrew Luck making all the headlines from that draft class, while the number 8th pick (and first first round QB pick by the Dolphins since Marino in '83) was brushed aside. Throwing 13 INTs to 12 TDs will do that to a guy. Leading a team to 3-0 and drawing comparisons to Marino is a good start to being put on that list. The Dolphins were mauled by the Saints monday and he is 5 TDs and 5 INTs on the season thus far so it’s still early days on whether they can truly challenge the Patriots. 

“It gets tedious so I keep one eye open like CBS,You see me stressed right? Can I live?” - Can I Live?

Tony Romo and Joe Flacco got big contracts in the off season. Both are 2-2, yet both have broken the 1,000 yard mark on the season. The bench mark for a great season used to be 3,000. That’s been beaten too many times over the previous years as QBs are packing up more yards than ever. But that’s not to say that these two QBs are not on target for a good year. Romo and the Cowboys are in a horrible division and could win it by being 8-8 at this rate. The AFC North is up for grabs after the Bengals were beaten by the Browns. Both QBs must be feeling the heat to perform. They’re on track for a 4,000 yard season. That’s pretty damn good, even if they seem forgotten at times. Cheers Peyton for taking the spotlight off everyone else and making their numbers look below average!

“Everything evens up, you just wait, Even a garbage can gets a steak, You ain’t even a garbage can, you have faith!” – Guns & Roses

One of my favourite tracks of the Jay Z double album, the Blueprint 2. One team that has a blueprint of being the joke of the NFL for so long is the Cleveland Browns: a team you can never imagine in the Superbowl. So when they dumped Trent Richardson for more picks in next years draft, the word ‘TANKING’ appeared in big neon lights all over Cleveland, especially as they were 0-2 at the time of the trade. They’re now 2-2 after beating the Vikings plus division rivals (and favoured by some to win the AFC North, Bengals) Who had faith in this?

“You know the type: loud as a motorbike but wouldn't bust a grape in a fruit fight.” - 99 Problems

Probably my favorite Jay Z track since I first heard it live in the Point in 2006 with the AC/DC Back In Black instrumental over the second verse. There are certain teams who make headlines every year in the offseason with guaranteeing playoffs, Superbowls etc...only for them to come up way short. Tampa Bay are 0-4 and you can pretty much rule them out. Josh Freeman was not even available for selection last week in another loss after making some noise last year. Doug Martin, after single handedly giving fantasy owners victories last year, is below par. On Sunday he had 27 carries for only 45 yards against Arizona. Only 1 TD this year. The complete opposite of that quote is the 4-0 Kansas City Chiefs. Has there ever been a 4-0 team that has been given as little hope of winning their division as the Chiefs have?

“Dark knight feeling, die and be a hero... or live long enough to see yourself become a villain” - So Appalled 
Don’t cry, it’s not as if you have the same record as Jacksonville... oh, keep crying son. 

The Giants look really poor. 0-4 and they have one of the worst defenses in the league. Eli Manning doesn’t look like a 2-time Superbowl MVP. Tom Coughlin is a future Hall Of Fame coach. But he could be ending his time in New York on a sour note if this trend continues. Hindsight is 20-20, but this could be a case of him staying around too long after their Superbowl victory two years ago. A lot of the pieces to that Superbowl winning team are gone and his Giants team could just be too broke to be fixed, although he does remind me of the NFL’s version of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. And we all called for his head last year despite his previous successes. 

“I’m from the place where the church is the flakiest and n*ggas been praying to God so long that they atheist.” - Where I’m From

You can just see this quote going to Tim Tebow. No matter how hard Jacksonville fans pray, they are not going to be any good this year, let alone have any playoff hopes. They should be praying that they don’t go 0-16. Nobody wants to follow an 0-16 team, regardless of number one draft picks. Praying for Tim Tebow is not the solution either seemingly but at this stage, why not offer him a job? Especially when you consider how close their division could be with three good teams in the Colts, Texans and Titans. Colts added Trent Richardson but have a harder schedule than last year. They went 11-5 last year. But with their 3-1 start, 10-6 and a playoff berth is not out of their reach. Titans are on a comeback this year an it will be interesting to see how they progress. Texans have the Niners in the late game and could drop below .500 if they lose. Though it's too early to hit the regression button on them just yet. 

“So sick of n*ggas, “I want money like Cosby,” Who wouldn’t?This the kinda talk that make me think you probably ain’t got no pudding” - Dead Presidents

The Rams are a mess. Is it time to give up on Sam Bradford? The number one overall pick has not lived up to his potential after a decent start to his career. If St. Louis has a top 5 pick in next year’s draft, will they pick a QB? While the Chargers, Cardinals, Jets and Bills are all 2-2, I’m not sure if they have enough to make a big push for a wildcard spot this season. And they all have a zero percent shot at winning their respective divisions. The same goes for the Eagles unless that offense starts to click. That could all change with a huge confidence boosting victory over the Giants this Sunday. But if they were to lose Sunday and go 1-4, it could just be too much for a rookie head coach to over turn. 

“And all you other cats throwing shots at Jigga, 
Ya’ll only get half a bar, fuck ya’ll n*ggas” 
- Takeover

Jay Z killing every rapper he had beef with on his Sept 11 2001 release of the Blueprint... have I forgotten a team? 

On to this week’s picks, and damn you Chicago for killing my treble last week!

(HOME TEAM in Caps)

Saints (-1.0) over BEARS
Patriots (+1.0) over BENGALS
Seahawks (-2.5) over COLTS

Happy Football People!

Sean Coffey (formerly Angry Andy) is a former pro-wrestler, turned radio host/podcaster, turned sports gambling addict. He's a die-hard San Francisco 49ers and Miami Heat fan, is dying hard being a Villa fan this season and his favourite film is also, unsurprisingly, Die Hard. Follow him on Twitter @Coffey_23.

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