Super Bowl Talk

This year the Super Bowl features a highly anticipated matchup. The New England Patriots are chasing history because their quarterback, Tom Brady, is on track to become the lone quarterback in NFL history with five Super Bowl victories. It will not be an easy task because they face a high powered Atlanta Falcons team.

The Falcons are soaring into the Super Bowl after scoring a total of 80 points in their first two playoff games. The Patriots look to be a much tougher opponent. The Patriots have scored 70 points in their first two playoff games so they are bringing a highly efficient offense of their own into the big game.

Tom Brady is hard to beat in the big game. In the two Super Bowls he lost, he faced pressured the whole game. He took a lot of big hits and sacks throughout both of those games. Both losses came to Giants teams that were built around a pass rushing defense. The Falcons do not have that type of defense. Tom Brady is going to have time to sit back in the pocket and pick the Falcons apart.

The only chance the Falcons have in this game is to outscore the Patriots. The Falcons have the weapons to score on offense and I think their secret weapon is Mohamed Sanu. If Sanu is able to score two touchdowns, the Falcons will win the game. Sanu has been versatile on offense taking snaps at quarterback and taking tough hits after running routes over the middle. The Falcons will have to exploit the Patriots with special packages if they look to overtake the majestic Tom Brady.

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Tom Brady — Hero or Villain

If you have been a football fan since 2000, there is one name that stands out. That name is Tom Brady. You either love him or you hate him. It’s that simple. He has been one of the best quarterbacks ever, on and off the field. Not only has he been playing at the highest level of football his entire career, he is also married to a supermodel. It is very, very easy to hate/be jealous of someone with Brady’s resume. As a lifetime Steeler fan, my hate for Brady started in 2002. It was after Brady lead the Patriots over the Steelers in the 2001–2002 AFC championship game at Heinz Field. The Patriots beat the Steelers 24–17. I was eight years old. I vaguely remember watching the game, but I do remember being excited before the game for the Steelers to make the Super Bowl. My parents attended the game, and I watched the game at my grandparent’s house. I remember being so upset and angry that they lost. Obviously, being an eight-year-old, I rooted for the Rams in the Super Bowl in spite of the Patriots. There was no way I was rooting for the Patriots after they beat the Steelers. It was easy to root for the Rams though. They were the greatest show on turf. At that time Marshall Faulk was my favorite running back. So I rooted for the Rams. Once again, the evil Patriots made a young boy upset. At that time, I was too young to realize that I was watching the rise of a star. I don’t remember all the plays, but I do remember Brady driving the field to set up the winning field goal.

I remember people saying that Brady was a flash in the pan, that this success would not continue. Two years later he took the Patriots back to the big show against the Panthers. I of course rooted for the Jake Delhomme lead panthers. And once again I was disappointed by Brady driving the field and setting up a game-winning field goal. I am going to sound like a broken record, but the very next year Tom Brady was once again back in the Super Bowl. This time he was up against Andy Reid’s Eagles, which was led by Donovan McNabb who was throwing to Terrell Owens. I thought for sure I would finally see Brady lose in the Super Bowl. I was wrong again.

However, as the years went on, one thing remained the same. Brady as the quarterback of the Patriots, and he won football games. Year in and out he played great and won games. My hate for Tom Brady grew as he became more successful and commonly beat the Steelers and won the AFC championship. At last, I received some joy when the Giants prevented the Patriots from winning the Super Bowl and going a perfect 19–0. Honestly, looking back that 2007 Patriots team was probably the best NFL team ever. If they would have won the Super Bowl, they would easily be recognized as the best team ever. Then in the 2011–2012 Super Bowl, the Patriots had the opportunity to get revenge on the Giants. The underdog Giants upset the Patriots again, and I was very happy. I thought the Patriots would once again fall in the Super Bowl against the Seahawks, but the Patriots pulled it off. A late controversial throw by Russel Wilson, which turned into an interception, sealed the game for the Patriots. The Patriots won the 2014–2105 Super Bowl. Tom Brady went to 4–2 in Super Bowls with three Super Bowl MVPs.

Now, this weekend Tom Brady is going against the Falcons in Super Bowl 51. This is his 7th Super Bowl appearance. The most by a quarterback ever. I am now 23 years old, and my feelings for Tom Brady have drastically changed. For the first time in my life, I am rooting for Tom Brady. As I type these words, I am honestly shocked. My eight-year-old self would not be very happy, to say the least. Now that I am older, I respect Tom Brady. I don’t really like him because he plays for the Patriots, but I can acknowledge the fact that he is the best quarterback in the game. I want the Patriots to win this weekend. I want the conversation of the best quarterback to be over. If Tom Brady wins this weekend, he will have five Super Bowl wins, the most by a quarterback. It will be more than Joe Montana, and Terry Bradshaw who both have four championships. With a Super Bowl win this weekend, the conservation is over. I will be rooting for the Patriots this weekend, and I want Tom Brady to win the Super Bowl.

Leisuremen Debate

I saw an interesting debate that was posted on Twitter by Andrew Perloff (Member of the Dan Patrick Show) during The Leisuremen. It was a debate about who’s best game is better, Larry Fitzgerald or Julio Jones. This is a very interesting debate. At first, I immediately thought that Julio Jones would be the clear favorite in this discussion. However, I thought about Larry Fitzgerald’s career, and I remembered Super Bowl XLIII.

While Julio Jones put on a clinic in the NFC Championship game against the Packers, Larry Fitzgerald balled out against the Steelers on the biggest stage, the Super Bowl. Larry Fitzgerald had 7 catches for 127 yards, and two touchdowns against a Steeler defense that was anchored by Troy Polamalu, James Harrison, and James Farrior. That defense lead the NFL in almost every defensive statistic, and the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, James Harrison. Larry Fitzgerald dominated the game, and scored a 64-yard touchdown catch to put the Cardinals up late in the game, which appeared to be the winning score. That score did not win the game, but it showcased Larry Fitzgerald’s ability to break a game wide open.

Larry Fitzgerald’s 2009 season landed him sharing the front of the 2010 Madden cover with Troy Polamalu. Throughout Larry’s career he dominated defenses and made big time plays. Dating all the way back to his college days at the University of Pittsburgh, Larry was unstoppable in the red zone. Until Julio Jones has a Super Bowl performance like Larry had in Super Bowl XLIII, I believe Larry Fitzgerald’s best game is better. This could all change in the upcoming Super Bowl, but until then Larry Fitzgerald wins this debate.

NFL Championship Games Recap and First Video Podcast

I am solo on this podcast as I am beginning to test video equipment for our show. This will help expand our reach and build up content for our YouTube channel. So if you don’t follow us already, head over to YouTube and subscribe to Southbound Sports.

The NFL Championship games featured prominent matchups. The four teams left were the teams most people expected to see in the championship round. In the NFC, the high flying Falcons took on the hot Packers. In the AFC, the dominant Patriots faced the gritty Steelers.

The Packers have been on a hot streak lately, but it took a wildly accurate throw to get them to advance into this game. The Falcons tore them apart and made them look like they didn’t belong. The Falcons controlled the entire game and were never really challenged by the Packers. They look to continue the hot streak as they move on to the Super Bowl.

The Steelers tried to keep the Patriots in check, but the methodical drives of the Patriots helped pave the way for New England to once again return to the Super Bowl. The Steelers are an aging team in key positions so it hurts to have them come so close to reaching another Super Bowl. Rumors are swirling that Ben Roethlisberger may retire this offseason. That makes this loss even more bitter for Steelers fans.

The Super Bowl is setting up to be another classic game. The Falcons are able to score at will on offense and will face a stout Patriots defense. Something will have to give in the big game.

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Matt Ryan’s Playoff Turmoil

This weekend is a critical point in Matt Ryan’s career. In his eight-year career, he has an unflattering 2–4 playoff record. While he has been coined “Matty Ice” during the regular season, his playoff experiences have been far from elite quarterback status. This could all change this weekend.

He finally has the tools needed to get over the hump. However, he is up against Aaron Rodgers. While the Falcons are an overall much better team, Aaron Rodgers is at the top of his game. Rodgers is simply on fire right now. The final drive against the Cowboys showcases his unbelievable run. The throw he made to Jared Cook, on the run across his body, was amazing. Not many quarterbacks have the athletic ability to make that throw unbalanced and on the run. While Aaron Rodgers is hot as fire right now, Matty Ice is statistically playing better than Aaron Rodgers right now. This is Matt Ryan’s chance to cement himself as an elite quarterback.

When you talk about the all-time great quarterbacks, you talk about Super Bowl wins. If Matt Ryan can beat Aaron Rodgers’s Packers then either the Steelers or Patriots, then his name will finally be brought up in that conversation. He is currently playing in a time period with Brady, Roethlisberger, Rodgers, and Eli Manning who all have multiple Super Bowl wins. If he does not win this weekend and take the Falcons to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1999, his playoff record will fall to 2–5 without a Super Bowl appearance. Also, he will be scrutinized by the media and will have to wait another year to make a Super Bowl run. Big players make big plays in big games. That is the bottom line. This weekend we will see if Matt Ryan is a big player and if he will be on his way to be recognized as an elite quarterback.

Burfict vs DeCastro — Head to Head

The ball is snapped, you see the lineman firing off the ball. Out of the corner of your eye, you see the backside guard pulling, you instinctively know the ball is coming your way. Your eyes glance to your right, you see the tight end blocking down, it’s time to fit the run. You break towards the line of scrimmage, knowing the backside guard is pulling down the line like a train at full speed. You know you need to cut the guard to disrupt the play. What you didn’t know is that he is anticipating it, and he’s coming low as well. It happens so fast, crossing the threshold of the line, you go low. In a split second, everything goes black. You’re lying on the ground, uncertain of what just happened. Grass sticking through your face mask, and in one motion you slowly push the ground away, and you’re now on your feet. Looking around you see teammates, and you realize what just happened. You got your bell rung and you’re playing football.

Any person that ever played football has experienced this sensation of uncertainty at least once. Let’s not sugar coat this, it’s the feeling you experience when you get a concussion playing football. Vontaze Burfict experienced this the last time the Bengals played the Steelers when he and the 6’5” 316 pound David DeCastro met head to head in the football game. The real question is, “how was Burfict allowed to finish the game?” I watched an NFL LB stagger, like a toddler who just started walking, after this vicious collision. While walking off the field you could tell by his body language that he was fighting with trainers telling them he was okay. The fact of the matter is that anyone that has ever played football can tell you he got his bell rung. With today’s medical knowledge of concussions and CTE, how in the world was Burfict cleared to continue to play in a football game?

A drawing of Steelers and Bengals helmets colliding

There had to be someone on the sideline that knew Burfict suffered a concussion. Not only was his personal well-being being threatened by him continuing to play, what message was being sent to thousands of kids across the country? With years of experience playing football at the high school and collegiate level, I am certainly not one that wants the game watered down or the level of physicality lowered. However, with that being said, it is very important to keep player safety in mind. Not only at the NFL level, but all the way through the ranks to the Pop Warner and Pee Wee levels. Let’s be frank, there is without a doubt a trickle-down effect in football. Not only do we have to keep NFL players’ safety in mind, we need to keep young players in mind with regards to safety and the fundamentals of football and tackling. People need to be held accountable at the NFL level. Every level of football tries to mimic what they see displayed by the professionals on Sunday afternoon. The NFL cannot turn a blind eye to players playing or continuing games after suffering a concussion. Someone needs to be held accountable. It has to start at the top, and it will trickle-down throughout football.

How to Fix Women’s Basketball

I have a solution to fix women’s basketball. Make it different from men’s basketball. The rules for basketball were created by men. Men adapted the rules over the years because of the changes in the athletes as workout routines improved. The rules that are currently set in place are the same ones that men are constantly tweaking to improve the game. Why are women using the same rules as men?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at time of writing, the average height of males is 5’ 9.3”, while the average height of females is 5’ 3.8” That is a difference of 5.5” in height between males and females. Basketball uses a rim that is ten feet off of the floor for both men and women. Why? The rim should be lowered for women basketball teams because it would make the sport more exciting.

The problem with women’s basketball is that no one cares. Look up attendance figures and you will see that the stadiums are mostly empty for games. There is no difference in attendance between women’s amateur and professional leagues either. There is just not a market for women’s basketball.

I say lower the rim to eight feet high. I know this is a drastic difference from where it is now, but the women’s game should be different than the men’s game. Some coaches are already advocates for lowering the rims. By lowering the rims you will have more dunks. That is what makes the game exciting. The NBA has a whole All-Star event dedicated to dunking. Lower the rim to add dunking to the women’s game. This is not a slight at women. I love women. They just aren’t as tall as men so there are fewer of them that can dunk.

I am a fan of getting rid of goaltending in women’s basketball. This would allow for more physical play. Let women scrap it out down low. Blocking shots. Dunking over each other. These are things I want to see when I watch women’s basketball. This would open up recruiting and encourage shorter women to try the sport.

The counter-argument would be that there are no facilities in place that allow for rims to be lowered. High schools all around the country already have separate facilities for women’s softball. So basketball would not be the only sport that has separate equipment for women. The lowering of rims could be done by crank or machine and a lot of elementary schools already have a system in place. It would not take long for a universal system to be put in place to lower rims. I say that we push for change to put women’s basketball front and center in the sporting world.

The Domination of Brittney Griner

If you do not know who Brittney is, you need to go to YouTube and search for her basketball highlights. She is a two-time recipient of both the Best Female College Athlete ESPY award and the Naismith Women’s College Player of the Year award. She single-handedly led Baylor to a National Championship and was the first overall draft pick in the WNBA when she graduated from college.

She is amazing. Tons of people talk trash on Brittney online. They call her ugly and man-like because she has the qualities that those males lack. She is confident and strong. She acts with conviction. She is well spoken and one of the best professionals in her field. She has been invited to training camp with the Dallas Mavericks. How many men would kill for that opportunity? Here is a woman, who would dominate basketball games around most guys and their friends. She would dunk on them and make them appear to be fools. Guys cannot deal with the ridicule that would follow.

Another reason that she gets heat online is because of her sexual preference. She has publicly announced that she is a lesbian. Many followed the announcement by asserting they were right all along about her being a man. But they were wrong. Sexual preference has nothing to do with someone being male or female. Members of either sex can be attracted to whatever sex they please. I openly applaud her decision of announcing her sexual preference publicly.

Female athletes do not get the same media attention as male athletes. That does not diminish their talents. Do yourself a favor and enjoy some Brittney Griner basketball highlights.

NBA Imbalance

The 2016–2017 NBA season has just started. Once again, the league is filled with top-heavy teams giving the rest of the league no chance to win a championship. This makes the NBA completely unbalanced compared to the other major sports leagues. When feeling out the idea of Southbound Sports, I wrote this preview for the 2014–2015 NBA playoffs. I included some tweaks that would help balance the NBA postseason. I know it is still early in the season, but some of these ideas hold true two years later.

It is that time of year again. The NBA regular season schedule is wrapping up and the playoffs are about to begin. Fourteen of the sixteen playoff teams have been decided into the last day of the regular season. Once again, the East is an embarrassment for the league and quality teams from the West will get left out of the playoffs.

Even though the final spots have not be finalized, the Eastern Conference will allow two teams under .500 into the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Western Conference will have a team much better than the bottom two in the East left out. The Pelicans go into Wednesday’s game as part of a win and they are in. The Thunder have the same exact record as the Pelicans and need the Pelicans to lose with them winning to take the final spot in the West. Both the Pelicans and the Thunder have a potential MVP candidate on their team, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook respectively. It is a shame that a superstar of their level is going to be left out of the playoffs due to the West being a tougher conference. It is time for something to change.

Since the current format is leaving quality teams on the outside, something has to change. The current playoff format was created when travel was tough. That is not the case anymore. Teams have their own private jets now that reduce travel from across the country. Regional locations can still take precedence in the playoff seeding. Instead of having the two sides set before the playoffs, have them flexible going into the playoffs. The top sixteen teams based on record will make the playoff regardless of the division that they are in. The top sixteen teams as of today, are listed below.

  • Hawks — Southeast (60)
  • Wizards — Southeast (46)
  • Raptors — Atlantic (48)
  • Celtics — Atlantic (39)
  • Cavaliers — Central (52)
  • Bulls — Central (49)
  • Bucks — Central (41)
  • Trail Blazers — Northwest (51)
  • Thunder — Northwest (44)
  • Spurs — Southwest (55
  • Rockets — Southwest (55)
  • Grizzlies — Southwest (54)
  • Mavericks — Southwest (49)
  • Pelicans — Southwest (44)
  • Warriors — Pacific (66)
  • Clippers — Pacific (56)

This is still not a perfect system, as the Celtics make the playoffs with a record under .500. With the way the scheduling is set up now by regional pods, the entire Southwest division would make the playoffs. All of the other divisions had at least two teams make the playoffs. Now, all we have to do is set up the playoff bracket.

The bracket would then be set up based on actual team records with no regard to conference. This would create a March Madness-style bracket, where matchups would affect the outcome of the playoffs. No longer would the top-seeded Warriors get penalized for having the best record and playing in the West. They will now get matched up against the true lowest seed, the Celtics. If there is a tie for wins, the team ranked highest in the division would get the first tiebreaker. So, therefore, since the Mavericks and the Bulls have the same amount of wins, the Bulls would take that tiebreaker. This would penalize teams for not finishing higher in their division, even if the teams have the same record.

Cubs End the Curse

The Cubs picked up where they left off in game 6 by scoring a run in the 1st inning of what turned out to be a classic game 7. It was a Dexter Fowler home run that got things started for the Cubs, but the Indians were able to tie the game at 1 in the 3rd. Coco Crisp scored on a single by Carlos Santana.

The Cubs answered with 2 runs in the 4th and 2 more in the 5th to give themselves a comfortable lead over the Indians. But the Indians would not go away. They scored 2 in the bottom of the 5th and were able to tie the game in the 8th with 3 runs after the Cubs had scored one more in the 6th.

The ninth inning was a tense one in which no one was able to score. This pushed this classic back and forth game 7 into extra innings. A rain delay pushed this game even further into the night. But a celebration by the Cubs would happen soon enough. They scored 2 runs in the top of the 10th inning and even though the Indians scored one of their own, it was not enough. The Cubs held on to take the game and the series by a score of 8–7.

It took over a century, but the Chicago Cubs were finally World Series champions once again. The celebration will surely last a long time, but with a core group of players, it looks as if the Cubs could be competing for years to come.