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Wednesday, 05 May 2021 10:46

Meet the newest New England Patriots

The NFL Draft is over and the New England Patriots have added some new names to their ranks.

It has been a long time since the Pats have been in this position, drafting in the middle of the first round instead of the end, as they have more or less every season for the past two decades. Everyone was curious as to how Bill Belichick’s draft plan would unfold from this unfamiliar spot.

They seemed interested in potentially taking a long-term QB candidate, but with this front office, you just never know. Would they trade up if there was someone they liked? Would they trade down if there wasn’t?

And then Mac Jones dropped to them.

Jones will have every opportunity to succeed with this team. Some of the other names on this list might not have the same length runway. But that’s the joy of it – you never know when you might be meeting one of your team’s future stars for the first time. Best of luck, gentlemen.

And now, your new New England Patriots.

(Obligatory annual caveat: This is not an effort to grade the Patriots draft class. Literally nothing has changed about any of these players except that they have been given an opportunity to potentially make an NFL roster. As to whether any or all of them cash in on that opportunity, well … I can’t say. And neither can anyone else, no matter how authoritative they sound on TV or on the internet. Grading a draft that just happened is nonsense; a worthless exercise. This is just an introduction.)

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 10 February 2021 13:08

Pro Football Hall of Fame names Class of 2021

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has announced their Class of 2021.

The group rolls eight deep, including five players selected by the Modern Era committee (three first-time-eligible inductees among them) – Peyton Manning, Charles Woodson, Calvin Johnson, Alan Faneca and John Lynch. In addition, the class features one selection each from the Coach, Contributor and Senior committees: Tom Flores, Bill Nunn and Drew Pearson, respectively.

After starting with some 130 nominees back in September, the Hall has steadily whittled down the number. From 25 semifinalists in December to 15 finalists in January to this, the final group, the list has been narrowed and narrowed until now, we have the Class of 2021.

And even for a Hall of Fame class, it’s a strong one.

Published in Sports

Five months ago, 32 NFL teams set out on what would be one of the strangest seasons in the history of the sport. Playing games in the face of an ongoing pandemic, the league weathered some unique challenges. Should they have played? Depends on who you ask. But play they did.

Now, after all that, just two teams remain.

The Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face off on February 7 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. It’s a historic matchup for a number of reasons – you’ve got the returning champion Chiefs looking to go back-to-back, while the Buccaneers become the first team to ever play a Super Bowl on their home field. Oh, and there’s this Brady guy who is about to quarterback in his record 10th title game.

There’s a lot happening here, is what I’m saying.

Let’s take a stroll through the teams and break down some of the positional matchups to get a sense of which squad stands superior. Of course, the most talented team doesn’t always win. The most prepared team doesn’t always win. The team we think will win doesn’t always win.

You get the picture. Anyone who tells you they KNOW what will happen is a charlatan who is almost certainly trying to sell you something. No one knows how this will all play out, but here’s my best guess – the best guess of a guy who, in the interest of full disclosure, got absolutely housed by his dog in picking winners this season (though my postseason run was solid).

Let’s break it down.

Published in Cover Story

Well – isn’t this something?

I find myself in a rare position – well, rare for me, anyway. After the events of the divisional round, I now sit a perfect 10-0 for the playoffs thus far, having accurately predicted the victor in every single playoff contest. Stella, for her part, was 2-2 this weekend, putting her at 5-5 overall.

It’s over. I’ve won, even with the conference championships and the Super Bowl to come. And yet we press on, each with our reasons for continuing – perfection for me, principle for her.

Published in Sports

And we’re back in print!

For those unfamiliar with this feature, Kibbles and Picks is a web feature that we’ve been doing here at the Edge for the past eight years. Every year, I pick the winners of the entire season-long slate of NFL games. My dog Stella also picks the winners of these games.

She is better at it than I am.

This past season marked Stella’s sixth regular season victory out of the eight. My lone victories were in Year Two and last season, but to be clear, this isn’t because I am bad at picking games – I’m probably average or slightly above – but rather it is because Stella (who I remind you again is a dog) is actively good at it. Her season record of 167-88-1 gives her a success rate of over 65%. My 162-93-1 landed me at just over 63% - still good, just not good enough.

Published in Sports

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has announced the 15 semifinalists for its Class of 2021.

The list – reduced from 130 nominees announced in September and then again from the list of 25 semifinalists released in December – reaches 18 when including the nominees from the Coach, Contributor and Senior Committees (Tom Flores, Bill Nunn and Drew Pearson, respectively); the class is ultimately determined and announced during Super Bowl Week in Tampa.

There is no set number of inductees for any class, but the Hall’s bylaws state that there will be anywhere from four to eight enshrines.

It’s an impressive list of players – no surprise there – that includes at least one slam-dunk first-timer and a couple of other incredibly impressive first-year picks, all of whom will have legitimate shots at induction on their first ballot.

Let’s look at those first-time eligible names, shall we?

Published in Sports

And that’s that.

It was a moonshot anyway – I had to be correct on all seven of the games on which we differed to come out on top – but at least there was a chance. Alas, despite an excellent 13-3 record on the week, I was able to carve away just a single game from Stella’s lead, thanks to her own also-excellent record of 12-4. Thus, by a margin of five games, Stella is the 2020 Kibbles and Picks champion.

I did what I could – a blazing 46-18 in the final month – but it just wasn’t enough, leaving me to once more bow to the superior football picking acumen of my dog. For the sixth time in eight years, I tip my cap to Stella.

ALLEN’S PICKS

Week 17 record: 13-3

Season record: 162-93-1

STELLA’S PICKS

Week 17 record: 12-4

Season record: 167-88-1

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 30 December 2020 21:19

Kibbles and Picks 2020 – Week 17

And here we are. One week left.

I managed to chip away a little more at Stella’s lead, but only a little. Our respective weeks matched our Week 15 output, meaning that I put up a strong 11-5 and Stella managed a just-slightly-less-strong 10-6. The result? I’ve reduced her lead to a not-quite totally insurmountable six games going into the season’s final week.

This means that the possibility of my overtaking her is still on the table, albeit highly unlikely. We differ on seven games; basically, if I get every one of them right, I eke out the win by a single game. However, if she is right on even one game, she locks in her victory.

I think we all know how this is going to wind up.

Published in Sports
Thursday, 24 December 2020 13:29

Kibbles and Picks 2020 - Week 16

Time is running out.

Yes, I gained another game on Stella this week, putting up an 11-5 record against her 10-6; both of us would have had even more impressive weeks had the Jets and Bengals not managed unlikely wins. Still, one game a week is not going to cut it. Stella’s lead is still seven games, and I’ve got just this week and next to catch up.

It’s looking grim … but not impossible.

Heck, we’re at odds on seven games this week. If I could somehow sweep the lot, we’re in a flat-footed tie going into the regular season’s last week. That’s unlikely, obviously, but I could maybe swing five, which would give me at least a puncher’s chance come Week 17. If Stella holds serve or – God forbid – outpicks me, that’s probably a wrap, with me likely having to take some ludicrous swings in the last week to even have a shot.

Published in Sports

What? You didn’t think that a college football season utterly upended by the pandemic would be enough to keep me from undertaking this annual bit of nonsense, did you? That’s right – for the umpteenth year in a row, I am embarking on my lunatic quest to pick the winners of each and every college bowl game.

Now, 2020 being 2020, this is going to be a significantly different feature than it has been in the past. First of all, we’re starting later than we have in past years because the bowl selection process took place later in the year. This means that a few bowl games will have already taken place before this story sees print – we’ll be looking at games starting on December 23 and going forward. This means that you won’t see predictions for the Myrtle Beach Bowl, the Boca Raton Bowl and annual favorite the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Secondly, a number of the usual games have already been cancelled due to the pandemic. Those bowls are as follows:

Birmingham Bowl; Frisco Bowl; Guaranteed Rate Bowl; Bahamas Bowl; Celebration Bowl; Fenway Bowl; Hawaii Bowl; Independence Bowl; Las Vegas Bowl; Los Angeles Bowl; Military Bowl; Pinstripe Bowl; Quick Lane Bowl; Redbox Bowl; and Sun Bowl.

In addition, a number of programs have already opted out of bowl season participation. These schools include:

Arizona State; Boise State; Boston College; Florida State; Georgia Tech; Kansas State; Louisville; Maryland; Michigan State; Penn State; Pitt; San Diego State; SMU; Stanford; UCLA; USC; Utah; Virginia; Virginia Tech; Washington; and Washington State.

(Note: There exists a very real possibility that more games will be canceled and more schools will opt out. The preceding information is accurate as of press time.)

On top of all of that, the NCAA has done away with restrictions on bowl participants with regard to win-loss records. Basically, this means that every single FBS program is bowl-eligible this year, though again, many programs have and/or will opt out.

So what does this mean for Going Bowling?

Well, it means that I have fewer games about which to have unfounded opinions. And it means that I know even less about what is going on than usual. How much less, you ask? Well, would you believe that I have yet to watch any college football at all this season?

That’s right, friends. I am going to attempt to predict the outcome of each of these bowl matchups despite not having watched a single snap by any of the teams involved. Some of my predictions will be informed by research, but some will be simple wild guesses based on zero information. It’s up to you to determine which is which. Suffice it to say, I wouldn’t place any bets based on these picks. You wouldn’t think I would be able to make this exercise even more absurd after all these years, but here we are.

Let’s go bowling.

Published in Cover Story
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