Thursday, 22 September 2022 19:23

Kibbles and Picks 2022 – Week 3

And so it begins.

With Stella’s correct call on the final game of Week 2 – Philadelphia over Minnesota – she ended the week with a 10-6 record, one better than my own 9-7. Hence, she is in the lead, a lead I don’t expect that she will relinquish for the rest of the season. It’s just a question of how deep the hole gets, you know?

Probably pretty deep, if history is any indicator.

That being said, there’s potential for a big week here – maybe even one of our biggest ever – because Stella and I are at odds on TEN of the week’s 16 contests. If I (unlikely) or she (much more plausible) should go on a big run, there’s a big lead that could be established. Sure, it’ll probably wind up being like 6-4 or whatever, but hey, if one of us goes 8-2 or 9-1, it’s going to be one hell of a hill to climb (apologies for the mixed metaphors – deep holes, tall hills, it’s chaos).

Published in Sports
Thursday, 15 September 2022 17:13

Kibbles and Picks 2022 – Week 2

Nothing like getting off to a lukewarm start, eh?

In a Week 1 packed with the unexpected, it probably shouldn’t be that surprising that both Stella and I struggled a little with our picks. We split the six games in which we were at odds, with the rest of the slate playing out in a similar fashion. The end result? Each of us finished about .500, but just barely – 8-7-1, thanks to the frankly ridiculous tie between the Colts and the Texans.

But hey – I’m not playing the scoreboard, I’m playing my opponent. And any week that doesn’t end with her having some kind of massive lead over me is a good week.

We’ve got a similar situation here in Week 2, but this time, we’re in disagreement on seven contests, which means that one way or another, one of us is almost certainly going to be in the lead come this time next week. And yes, I know that you have a strong suspicion about which one of us that will be – it’s the same suspicion I have … and it ain’t me.

Published in Sports
Thursday, 08 September 2022 18:46

Kibbles and Picks 2022 – Week 1

Holy crap! It’s back! The world’s greatest man-versus-dog NFL picks feature is gracing your internet once more!

That’s right – Kibbles and Picks has returned for a (I can’t believe I’m even typing this) tenth season. When this season is done, I will have spent a full decade cheerfully getting humiliated by my dog’s uncanny football predicting acumen.

For those who are unfamiliar – welcome! Also, Kibbles and Picks is a weekly feature wherein I pick the winners of every NFL game on the slate. My adorable pooch Stella also picks the winners of each game. We do that for the length of the season and at the end, I am inevitably defeated.

For those who are too familiar – and keeping score – of the previous nine seasons, Stella has achieved victory in seven. Yep, you read that right. I have only managed to outpick my dog in two of nine seasons, and it’s worth noting that one of those was in just our second season. So if you want to say that I’ve only won one of the last seven, that would also be accurate. Hurtful, but accurate.

Why do I subject myself to this nigh-inevitable humiliation each year? Who can say? Hope springs eternal, I guess; it’s tough to walk away from such a lengthy ongoing experiment, even if the results are most assuredly in at this point. Stella, on the other hand, just enjoys the process, though it should be noted that neither her enjoyment nor her fundamental adorableness mean that she’s going to take it at all easy on me.

It's on.

Published in Sports

Are you ready for some football?

By the time you read this, the 2022 NFL season may have already kicked off – the first game of this year’s slate is scheduled for September 8, with the reigning Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams hosting the Buffalo Bills, and I am a bit later than usual in putting this preview together – but with so much football ahead of us, there’s still plenty of time for making picks.

(And yes, before you ask, my very smart and very good dog Stella will be back for another season of Kibbles and Picks, the weekly feature wherein she proves to be much better than me at predicting the outcomes of regular season games. This year marks our tenth, and her victory last year means that she has come out on top in seven of the previous nine seasons. Will I be able to achieve some level of dignity here in year 10? Or will she continue her dominance? Those who have been following along likely already know the answer.)

I will be making my usual predictions regarding how I believe the season will play out. And as usual, I anticipate being wildly off-base with a significant percentage of these predictions. I have a long and storied history of middling picks, after all – why expect anything different this time around? Hell, I’m still getting used to the fact that there’s an extra regular season game, with the 17-game slate adding yet another variable of potential inaccuracy to my personal equation.

And so, here you have it, friends – my monkey-dart-throwing attempt at prognostication. Ladies and gentlemen, your sure-to-be-inaccurate 2022 Maine Edge NFL Season Preview.

(y = division winner; x = wild card)

Published in Cover Story

If you’re like me, you’re starting to get that football itch.

Sure, you could watch the reborn USFL or the gimmicky Fan Controlled Football league, but is that really going to cut it? Do you really want to watch an inferior version of the sport you typically enjoy come September?

Wouldn’t you rather check in with our neighbors to the north?

That’s right – the 2022 CFL season is on the verge of kicking off!

As the preeminent (read: only) CFL pundit in northern New England, I consider it my duty to share with you my thoughts about the upcoming season. The slate is filled again after 2021’s truncated schedule – 18 games over 21 weeks – and looks to be one hell of a competitive season.

It all kicks off on June 9 with the Montreal Alouettes making their way to Calgary to take on the Stampeders. From there, we’re off to the races, with all nine squads competing for a chance to play in the 109th Grey Cup, set to take place on November 20 at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan.

As with any efforts at prediction, there are going to be hits and misses. The truth is that while I consider myself to be reasonably knowledgeable about the Canadian game, I will inevitably miss on one or two of these predictions. A team that looks great now could wind up struggling and vice versa, and with just nine teams, well – there’s plenty of room for both over- and underperformance.

The Canadian game is definitely different than what we’re accustomed to seeing in our own NFL, but it’s those differences that make it fun to watch. It’s a fast-paced and wide-open game, one that offers its own energy and excitement. If you want to see for yourself, there will be plenty of opportunity thanks to ESPN’s broadcast partnership with the league; it might be ESPN+ or a broadcast arm, but keep an eye out and you’ll get your chance.

With all that said, here is one man’s opinion about how the 2022 CFL season will play out. Are you ready for some (Canadian) football?

Published in Sports

The NFL Draft has come to its conclusion and the New England Patriots have added some new names to their ranks.

The draft – which took place in Las Vegas – gave all 32 NFL teams a chance to replenish their ranks through seven rounds of picks from the collegiate ranks. This year proved to be an interesting one for a couple of reasons.

First, this is the first draft that takes into account the extra year of eligibility granted players due to COVID. In essence, it means that not only are there more players available than usual, but that many of these players are a bit older than the standard. This adds even more variability to an already fungible process.

Next, this draft didn’t feature any consensus elite quarterback prospects, meaning that teams were left to either reach for a QB or address other needs. The result is an order that we don’t often see; for the first time in decades, the first five selections were defensive players. It just means that we’re unlikely to see the same kind of paradigm shift that comes with a new stud QB.

Regardless, we’re here to talk about the Patriots, who had a … let’s call it unexpected draft. From a first-round reach to some late-round steals, New England continued its tradition of picking who they want to pick and consensus rankings be damned.

And that’s the thing. Just about every pundit out there is viewing this as a disappointing draft for Bill Belichick and company – and please include me among them – but in the end, what do the pundits know? Belichick wants what he wants and drafts accordingly, just like he’s done for the last two decades. Maybe we should see how this plays out.

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

ORONO – A homegrown Black Bear is taking a shot at the next level after signing a free agent contract following the 2022 NFL Draft.

The University of Maine announced on May 1 that wide receiver Andre Miller has signed a free agent contract with the New York Giants.

It’s a relative rarity for local athletes to make the leap to Division I football at UMaine, but Miller – an Old Town native – not only survived but thrived, becoming an integral part of the Black Bears offense.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 16 February 2022 11:09

Pro Football Hall of Fame announces Class of 2022

Eight men – six players, one coach and one official – will be joining the ranks of the immortals as part of Canton’s Class of 2022.

While it might not inspire the same level of debate as its more venerated cousin in Cooperstown, the Pro Football Hall of Fame leads to plenty of conversation about what it means to be a true pro football great. The Selection Committee met back in January to whittle down the 18 names on the list of finalists into this year’s group of inductees.

These eight will be officially inducted in early August: players Tony Boselli, Cliff Branch, LeRoy Butler, Sam Mills, Richard Seymour and Bryant Young; coach Dick Vermeil; and official Art McNally.

It’s always interesting to see who makes the cut for Canton. Many years, there are a handful of first-year candidates whose coronation is a foregone conclusion. This time, however, there weren’t any no-brainer newcomers. And so, we actually have a class featuring players who have waited a while – in some cases, a LONG while – to get in.

Published in Sports

Back in September, 32 teams hit the field with the opportunity to win a Super Bowl (though perhaps a few weren’t embracing that opportunity as fully as others). After a first-ever 17 game regular season and three rounds of playoff games, we’re down to just two.

The Los Angeles Rams are set to take on the Cincinnati Bengals for the chance to hoist aloft the Lombardi trophy as NFL champions. The game is set to take place at SoFi Stadium – the home of the Rams, marking just the second time in Super Bowl history that a team will play the game on their own home field. Granted, the first time was last year when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers played (and won) Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.

Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Eastern time on Feb. 13.

Neither team was expected to make it this far – both squads had to win three games to get here. Each came into the playoffs as the fourth seed in their respective conference; this is the first time in history that not one of the top-three seeds from either conference is in the Super Bowl.

But while these aren’t the teams we expected to see, there are plenty of compelling storylines at play here. You’ve got an all-in Rams team against a Bengals team that has arrived earlier than anticipated. Exciting young talent and record-breaking players on both sides of the ball. The Rams haven’t won the title in over 20 years … and the Bengals have never won it.

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

Fans of the NFL are probably aware that Sean Payton, longtime coach of the New Orleans Saints, stepped down after this past season. However, they might not be aware that a new film involving the last time Payton “stepped down” has hit Netflix.

“Home Team,” directed by Charles and Daniel Kinnane and starring Kevin James, tells the story of what Payton got up to during his year-long suspension following the headhunting “Bountygate” scandal that involved Saints players getting paid to outright injure opposing players (not that this movie is all that interested in digging too deeply into that story).

No, what we get here is a focus on what Payton did while he was gone. Specifically, he apparently spent some time working with his son’s sixth-grade football team in Texas. And so, with the full power of Adam Sandler behind it, “Home Team” turns one of the biggest NFL scandals of the past decade into fodder for a kid-friendly sports movie.

It’s not great, folks. Now, it isn’t quite as terrible as some of Sandler’s previous Netflix productions (it’s worth noting that the man doesn’t appear in this one, though the rest of his usual roster is present and accounted for – and yes, that includes family), but that’s a low bar. It’s derivative of pretty much every kid-oriented sports movie you’ve seen … and worse than most of them.

Published in Movies
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