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It’s safe to say that the second quarter of the Patriots season was a heck of a lot better than the first quarter. After a rough start to the season, New England has cruised to victory in each of the last four games.

They haven’t all been easy. And a couple of them have been quite a bit closer than fans might like. There has been an uncomfortable amount of doing just enough to win – one-score victories over the Chiefs and the Bears left us sweating it out until the end.

But in the end, a win is a win. And four wins is four wins.

The offense definitely picked up steam and the defense held up its end of the bargain (albeit just barely at times). It’s the sort of strong stretch of play against some good teams that instills confidence in the team’s viability going forward.

The .500 team from the first quarter is gone. This is the New England Patriots squad we expected to see – one that appears poised to march to yet another AFC East title and a deep postseason run.

On to the Progress Report.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 24 October 2018 14:34

Kibbles and Picks 2018 - Week 8

I suppose I should be grateful. After the drubbing I took in Week 6, getting beaten by just one game last week doesn’t seem so bad.

Of course, it means that Stella’s lead is now five games. It’s typical really – she lets be hang around for the first few weeks, then drops a monster week on me to establish a solid lead. From there, she just slowly (and adorably) grinds me into the dirt.

But hey – I’ve got a shot to get some back this week. We’re at odds on over half the slate; eight of the 14 games are in dispute. There’s potential for me to make a big move. There’s also potential for the hole I’m in to get MUCH bigger. We’ll have to see how it goes.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 17 October 2018 22:05

Kibbles and Picks 2018 - Week 7

Holy s—t.

In the years since I started Kibbles and Picks, I’ve grown accustomed to the notion that my dog is better at picking winners than I am. It’s not a great feeling, mind you, but it is one that I’ve gotten used to.

However, every once in a while, there’s a week where she just lays the smack down in such a brutally thorough manner that I find myself wondering why I put myself through this week after week, season after season.

We were at odds on six games in Week 6. I was correct on exactly one of them – Stella nailed the other five. That means that I’ve gone from a tie to a four-game deficit in a single Sunday. And if the Buccaneers had managed to pull off a comeback, it would have been a shutout.

And with the byes coming faster, the opportunities to catch up are going to become fewer. This week, for instance, we’re going head-to-head in just five games. The only way I can fully catch up is to sweep them, but honestly, any gain will be welcome.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 10 October 2018 14:26

Kibbles and Picks 2018 - Week 6

It was only a matter of time.

I had been maintaining my slim single-game lead over Stella through the past couple of weeks, but Week 5 finally gave her the chance to close that gap. She went 10-5 for the week – one game better than my 9-6 – and so we are now all tied up, thanks to an ugly victory by the Texans over the Cowboys that gave her four wins to my three across the seven games on which we differed.

This time through, we’re at odds on six games. Usually, things stay pretty close, but the truth is that one of us could make a serious move if we go on a run within that half-dozen.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 10 October 2018 12:15

Brees eclipses Manning’s yardage record

There’s a new all-time NFL leader in passing yardage.

In an Oct. 8 game against the Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees became the most prolific passer in the history of the NFL, passing Peyton Manning.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 03 October 2018 15:02

Kibbles and Picks 2018 - Week 5

That’s more like it.

After a solid performance in Week 4 from both sides – identical 10-5 records for Stella and myself – I maintain my slim one-game lead through the season’s one-quarter mark. We split the six games on which we differed – for the record, I had the Bears, Texans and Saints; Stella had the Cowboys, Raiders and Ravens.

As for Week 5, we’re at odds on almost half the slate – seven out of the 15 scheduled games.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 03 October 2018 12:26

Patriots Progress Report 2018 – First Quarter

It seems like just yesterday that the Patriots were utterly failing to stop the Philadelphia Eagles offense in the Super Bowl. And yet here we are, already a quarter of the way through the new season.

It has been a rocky road for the Pats thus far – and that’s putting it in far gentler terms than some of the team’s more hardcore supporters might. It hasn’t been an outright dreadful start, but considering the expectations, 2-2 isn’t exactly great.

New England has only looked really good once so far, and that was against a suspect Miami team. They were OK at best against the Texans and worse than that against the Jags. And of course, they were awful against the Lions.

Add it all up and it starts to look like maybe this season won’t be the cakewalk to the playoffs that many of us anticipated. Still, what’s done is done – let’s look back at how we got here.

And now, ladies and gentlemen - the Progress Report.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 26 September 2018 14:30

Kibbles and Picks 2018 - Week 4

Not going to lie to you – that one was rough.

Neither Stella nor I had anything resembling a good week. However, since Stella’s was marginally less terrible than mine – she went 8-8 while I stumbled to 7-9 – she’s cut my lead down to a single game. And if the Steelers hadn’t pulled it out on Monday night, we would have been tied.

As for Week 4, we stand in opposition on six of the 15 games on the slate.

Published in Sports
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
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