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Wednesday, 19 September 2018 14:23

Kibbles and Picks 2018 - Week 3

All right then.

We maintained the status quo after Week 2. Stella and I both wound up with identical 9-6-1 records (yet another tie – we’re hoping we’re done with all of that, but considering how lousy the kicking has been across the board, we might be in for more).

On our differences of opinion, we both batted .500. I was right on three, she was right on three and then there was of course Green Bay/Minnesota. For the record, I predicted victories for the Chiefs, the Colts and the Cowboys, while Stella picked Cincinnati, Miami and Chicago to win.

This week, we’re again at odds on seven different games.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 19 September 2018 11:38

‘Football for a Buck’ remembers the USFL

In many ways, the NFL is one of the last vestiges of American monoculture. In a world where the zeitgeist moves exponentially faster and more unpredictably with each year that passes, there are few entities that are as familiar, as entrenched, as overwhelmingly present as the NFL. Football is America’s sport and the NFL IS football.

But pro football was almost very different.

Jeff Pearlman’s new book “Football for a Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28) tells the story of the last pro football league to pose a serious challenge to the NFL’s domination of the football landscape. For a brief moment in the mid-1980s, the USFL looked poised to assume a spot alongside the NFL in the American sporting landscape. The pieces were there to succeed, but unfortunately – thanks to some massive individual egos and more than a little hubris – the league flamed out.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 12 September 2018 14:48

Kibbles and Picks 2018 – Week 2

Obviously, this isn’t going to last.

Yes, I have a two-game lead over Stella after Week 1’s games, sitting at 11-4-1 to Stella’s 9-6-1 (thanks to the still-kind-of-inexplicable Browns/Steelers tie). But does anyone out there REALLY think that this is any kind of harbinger of what is to come?

Basically, the Jets blowing out the Lions on Monday night was the difference between the 5-3 head-to-head record I put up and a 4-4 wash. Doesn’t seem likely that I’ll get that lucky every week.

As for Week 2, Stella and I are at odds regarding seven games on the slate. A lot of them have me picking the road team, while Stella prefers home cooking; we’ll see if that comes back to bite me.

Published in Sports

There’s no denying that Bill Walsh and Bill Belichick are among the greatest coaches in the history of football. One can argue about their relative placements in the pantheon, but it’s difficult to dispute either’s placement among the greatest of the greats. Meanwhile, Raiders owner Al Davis spent decades as the free-wheeling outlaw of the NFL’s leadership class, bringing his own unique ideas and passions to the game.

And Michael Lombardi worked under all of them.

Those relationships form the basis for Lombardi’s new book “Gridiron Genius: A Master Class in Winning Championships and Building Dynasties in the NFL” (Crown Archetype, $27). It’s a chance for Lombardi to impart the myriad lessons he has gleaned over his decades of working with some of the finest football minds in history.

Published in Sports
Thursday, 06 September 2018 10:51

Kibbles and Picks 2018 - Week 1

With the NFL season set to kick off mere hours from now, it’s time for the continuation of what has become a football season tradition.

That’s right – Kibbles and Picks is here again. For the sixth year, I will be picking the winners of every NFL game this season. And for the sixth year, my dog Stella will also be making her picks. We’ll go head to head in a classic battle of man versus beast … although to be honest, it hasn’t been much of a battle – Stella has beaten me the last three years and four years out of five overall.

Every year, it becomes increasingly obvious that my dog is a far superior football pundit (pun-dog? pup-dit?) than I am. But I’ll be damned if I’ll let that stop me. Besides – I feel good about what I’m bringing to the table this year.

Published in Sports

While the NFL season is poised to kick off soon – and you can learn more through The Maine Edge’s annual NFL preview cover story from yours truly; you had to pass it just to get here – the gridiron of the Great White North actually just passed the halfway point of its season.

This year, the CFL’s regular season runs 21 weeks to allow each team a third bye week; this past weekend marked 11 of those weeks in the books. As such, it seems like a good time to check in with how things are going, an opportunity to take a look at how that season is progressing before the NFL behemoth and college football settle in to dominate the rest of the 2018 pigskin conversation.

Here’s a check on the progress of the nine CFL squads; please note that due to the schedule’s two bye weeks, different teams have played different numbers of games thus far.

(x = playoff team as of Week 11’s completion)

Published in Sports

The 2018 National Football League season is upon us. We’re just days away from kickoff for the first game of the season – this year’s first matchup sees the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles hosting the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 6.

As always, there's plenty to anticipate. Lots that we know, lots that we don't know - and a whole lot that we think we might know but don't actually really know. Anybody who has read one of these previews in the past know that I live my life in that last category.

And so once again, I will be attempting to anticipate how the season will play out. Once again, I will do my best impression of a monkey with a dartboard in an effort to make some sort of sense out of the whole mess. I’m even going to try to predict the 2018 regular season records of each team – a fool’s errand inside a fool’s errand.

(For those interested, I will also be continuing our popular “Kibbles and Picks” online-only feature, wherein I attempt to pick the winners in each week's schedule of NFL games and try to achieve a greater rate of success than that reached by my dog Stella (who has defeated me handily the last three years in a row and in four of five seasons overall, by the way). Check our website at www.themaineedge.com every Thursday or find Kibbles and Picks on Facebook to see if man can even the score against beast; it's possible, but I wouldn't count on it. She’s far better at this than I am.)

And so here it is - your almost-certain-to-be-way-off 2018 Maine Edge NFL Preview.

(y = division winner; x = wild card)

Published in Cover Story

There are a lot of reasons that the NFL has become the preeminent league in American professional sports. The telegenic nature of the game, the strength of the marketing machine, the undeniably impressive on-field athleticism – all key components to the game’s massive success.

But one of the very biggest has to be the proliferation of fantasy football.

As we approach the season’s kickoff, thousands of fantasy football leagues are the in process of holding their drafts. Millions of people are making their selections, deciding which combination of players gives them the best chance of coming out on top and winning money, trophies and/or bragging rights.

There’s an entire industry built around giving advice to fantasy football players. There are experts out there who spend countless hours breaking down statistics and trying to project which players are going to have big years and which ones are going to regress. They’ll tell you why you should select a player and when.

I am not one of those experts.

What I am is someone who has played fantasy football regularly for nearly two decades. I’ve won a championship or two along the way. I’ve also finished dead last once or twice. Mostly, I’ve fallen somewhere in-between. And since I’ve lived my fantasy life as part of that vast middle class, I thought it might be interesting to pass along a few bits of wisdom that I’ve picked up along the way.

Published in Sports

It’s June. The sports landscape is in flux. Baseball is in full flower, but both the NBA and NHL have just crowned their champions, bringing their respective seasons to a conclusion. And while the NFL is a year-round sport in many ways, we’re definitely in the league’s largest lull right now.

But all is not lost! There’s football being played! And not just World Cup football … although it is an international game.

The CFL’s season kicks off on June 14, with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers playing host to the Edmonton Eskimos. All told, each team plays 18 games in 21 weeks (as of this season, each squad gets three byes backed into the schedule), all leading up to the 106th Grey Cup, to be played in November at The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.

The Canadian game has its quirks and differences from what we see on Sundays in this country, but it’s those quirks and differences that make it fun to watch. It’s a fast-paced, wide-open game that offers plenty of action and excitement.

Here’s a quick look ahead to the 2018 CFL season.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 22 May 2018 15:14

Johnny (Canadian) Football

Johnny Football is getting back onto the football field. Well … a football field, anyway. Just not the one to which he’s grown accustomed.

It’s a bit bigger, for starters. And probably a bit colder.

Quarterback Johnny Manziel, the Heisman Trophy winner and former first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns whose off-the-field issues contributed to on-field struggles and ultimately led to him being out of the game entirely for two years, has signed a two-year contract with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League.

Published in Sports
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