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Wednesday, 01 May 2019 10:18

Some brand-new New England Patriots

Another big chapter of the National Football League’s future unfolded this past weekend in Nashville.

The 32 NFL franchises landed in Music City for the 2019 NFL Draft, where over the course of three days, teams selected the players they hope will lead their respective organizations into the future. Team presidents, general managers, coaches and owners pored over stat sheets and tapes, looking to separate the cream of the collegiate crop from the chaff, all in an effort to put themselves in the best possible position to move forward toward a championship.

The draft isn’t always as exciting in New England as it is in other places – two decades of Patriots success has led to less-than-optimal selection slots as a rule, although that hasn’t stopped them from making some solid picks.

That said, the early consensus is that this has a chance to be one of the better draft hauls of the Belichick era (for whatever that’s worth – see the caveat a few paragraphs down). Rather than go with their usual tactic of trading down and stockpiling, the Pats apparently liked what they saw in the Class of 2019, selecting 10 players in all. And it’s a far-from-typical group to boot, but really, when have the Patriots ever been conventional?

Will all of these players succeed? Of course not. Hell, a good chunk of them may not even make the team at all. But hey – we’re talking about the reigning Super Bowl champions here. They don’t need to hit on every pick. Still, expect at least a couple of these additions to make a splash.

Let’s meet the new guys.

(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, 27 March 2019 14:33

A Gronking to remember

A New England Patriots legend has decided to hang it up.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has announced that he will be retiring from football after nine seasons in the NFL. He made his decision public via Instagram on March 24.

Despite a playing career that lasted less than a decade and featured numerous extended periods of injury, Gronk’s legacy is undoubtedly secure. He will take his place among the best to ever play the game, with numbers that ensure a Hall of Fame jacket despite his truncated time in the league.

Published in Sports

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has announced their Class of 2019.

The class will include eight men in all. For the second year in a row, a trio of first-ballot candidates – Tony Gonzalez, Ed Reed and Champ Bailey – will be inducted into the Hall. That threesome will be joined by Ty Law and Kevin Mawae. In addition, the Hall will be adding defensive back Johnny Robinson from the seniors committee, as well as Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and personnel executive Gil Brandt from the contributors list.

Published in Sports

Back in September, 32 NFL teams began a journey that they hoped would end with a trip to Atlanta and an opportunity to lift the Lombardi Trophy as the victors in Super Bowl LIII.

After 16 games in the regular season and some hard-fought contests in January, the field has been whittled down to just two. The New England Patriots – back for the third year in a row and for the ninth time in the 21st century – are set to face off against the Los Angeles Rams, who haven’t been to the big game since they lost to these same Patriots back in 2002.

This rematch is to be played 17 years to the day after that one, a New England victory that would prove to be the first championship of the team’s dynastic run.

Obviously, these aren’t the same teams that faced off on February 3, 2002. However, two very important figures from that long-ago Patriots squad remain. Quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick are still here, continuing to build on the astonishing legacy (nine Super Bowls, eight straight AFC Championship appearances and 13 total) that they’ve spent the past two decades burnishing.

On the other side, we have the Rams, representing the new guard in the NFL. Head coach Sean McVay is just 33 years old – half the age of his opponent. Quarterback Jared Goff is 24 years old and in his third season; he was just six years old when Tom Brady entered the NFL. They’re a young and hungry group predicted by some to be the successors to the Patriots atop the football world, but they haven’t won anything yet.

So what’s going to happen?

While I’m not one to give too much credence to the necessity of experience, the reality is that this Patriots team has been in this spot A LOT. Meanwhile, just about everybody on the Rams sideline is new to this kind of big game pressure. Will that make a difference? Almost certainly. The amount of difference will likely determine who ultimately comes out on top here.

Still, it’s all about the matchups on the field. Let’s have a look.

Published in Cover Story

All told, it wasn’t that tough to predict what was going to happen in the divisional round. The top seeds won and advanced. Try as we might to talk ourselves into thinking otherwise (like I did with Philadelphia and Stella did with Indianapolis), more often than not, it’s a pair of one- and two-seeds playing for the right to go to the Super Bowl.

Stella and I both went 3-1 in our divisional picks. We were both right on the Rams and the Patriots, while I had Kansas City and she had New Orleans. This leaves me with a lead of a single game.

However, as we differ on both conference championship games, the possibility exists for her to leapfrog me and surge into the lead going into the Super Bowl.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 09 January 2019 14:05

Kibbles and Picks 2019 – Divisional Round

Not exactly an auspicious beginning to our NFL postseason predictions, but it could have been worse.

I managed a mere 2-2 record, correctly picking the Colts and Cowboys as Wild Card winners and whiffing on my Ravens and Bears guesses. However, Stella did even worse – her sole correct pick was the Chargers, missing on the rest of the games.

Published in Sports

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has released their list of finalists for the Class of 2019.

This list – trimmed from 25 semifinalists – will be subsequently cut to 10 and then to five on Super Bowl weekend. The final five will then be put to a yes/no vote with regards to their potential induction; it takes 80 percent on that final vote to achieve enshrinement.

The list of finalists includes all three ballot newcomers and a number of extremely talented holdovers.

Published in Sports

Man – where was this a month ago?

I had the best week of the season – for either of us – putting up a 14-2 record. I went five-for-five in head-to-head picks; Stella went 9-7.

And for all that, my sole reward is the fact that I cut her final margin of victory to nine. Sure, I got beaten in this Godforsaken competition again – for the fourth year in a row and for the fifth time out of six years – but at least it wasn’t by double digits this time.

Stella has once more dominated Kibbles and Picks with an adorable iron paw, illustrating to me the ongoing foolishness of engaging in this exercise. I am forced to admit yet again that my dog is better at picking football games than I am.

Final Standings

Allen’s season record: 154-100-2

Stella’s season record: 163-91-2

Published in Sports
Thursday, 27 December 2018 21:30

Kibbles and Picks 2018 - Week 17

I almost didn’t bother writing this.

With a 10-game deficit and two weeks left, I had to gamble with my picks last week. It did not go well. I went 9-7 for the week, which isn’t terrible. However, Stella went a remarkable 13-3 to add another four games to her lead.

And so, sitting an insurmountable 14 games behind, I almost didn’t bother. But instead, I thought I’d just muster up my picks and finish strong. I’m not worrying about her picks – I’m simply making mine. And yet, even with all that, we still differed on five games. It isn’t much; my best-case scenario is that I get all five and manage to claw my way back within single digits. 

Published in Sports
Thursday, 20 December 2018 16:25

Kibbles and Picks 2018 - Week 16

So I bounced back somewhat this week. Thanks to a 10-6 record for me and an uncharacteristic 8-8 out of Stella – her second in as many weeks – I gained two games. Of course, that basically just makes up for the two that I lost last week, but regardless – I’m 10 behind with two weeks to play.

Time for my Hail Mary.

This week, Stella and I differ on fully half the slate. Eight games. If I can pull off a big (and I mean BIG) run, I can erase a significant portion of Stella’s lead. However, all Stella has to do is keep it close and she more or less assures herself of a victory. Seriously – I have to go at least six-for-eight to have any shot. So here’s hoping.

Stella is unconcerned.

Published in Sports
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