Patriots Week – or Is That Weak? – One Recap

Bill Belichick is no genius
Smug Bill – Look into his eyes

Last week I picked the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl. Later, I found out ESPN host Mike Greenberg of Mike and Mike in the Morning also picked the Patriots to win the Super Bowl. The cumulative effect of these two predictions may be too massive a hurdle for the 2014 Patriots to overcome. Forget the play on the field. This dual hex is crippling to the Patriots’ chances at winning even a game this season (forget the Super Bowl).

Perhaps Tom (not so) Terrific agrees with my sentiment, uttering this eye-opening statement after the 33-20 shellacking at the hands of the Miami Dolphins, “You can’t go out there and play the way we played today and think you will win a game this season…”

Could the Patriots actually go defeated this year?

AL East and AFC East standings
Boston Strong

It wouldn’t be a first in Boston this year as the last place Red Sox have essentially gone defeated a year after winning the World Series (see standings to the right).

Still, it’s unlikely that a group of veteran players like Vince Wilfork, Tom Brady, Darrelle Revis and Jerod Mayo will fail to produce a victory. But with the horrible coaching schematics and game planning along with obviously under-conditioned players, it could happen.

One has to think the Evil Genius Bill Belichick will move to improve the poor planning that went into creating turmoil in an already weak offensive line (he opted to trade Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins a week before the season started). Mankins wouldn’t have made yesterday’s game any closer, but maybe playing a consistent set of players instead of rotating so much inexperience in and out of the O line would have.

The Patriots started the game looking good, cruising to a 20-10 halftime lead. Then they proceeded to give up 23 straight points while looking absolutely gassed and overwhelmed, left behind in the (Cameron) Wake of the Dolphins. Pun intended. (This piece is honoring the quality of play produced by the Patriots yesterday, btw.)

The offensive offensive line was not the only problem. As it turns out, Revis Island is located somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle, where incompletions, pass break-ups and interceptions disappear into Mike Wallace touchdowns. And why wasn’t there a game plan for defending against that future HOF running back (read with sarcastic inflection) Knowshon Moreno?

I have a notion that most Pats fans know Knowshon, considering he gashed them for over 200 yards last year while with the Broncos.

And keep in mind the Patriots are heading to the land of Adrian “All Day” Peterson next week. He really is a future Hall-of-Famer and just might break the single game rushing record if he suits up (fantasy owners take note).

Needless to say, the Patriots may want to work on their off day this week and study up extra hard on the Vikings. But after having five months to game plan for the Dolphins, it remains to be seen whether five days is enough time to plan for the Matt Cassel-led Vikes.

The good news is that New England really can’t play much worse than they did in the second half against Miami. So there’s plenty of upside left for the season. I still expect them to win the division, but another performance or two like this one and I’m bailing on that idea faster than Josh Gordon can grab a quick joint, er, car sale (was that too blunt?).

Stay tuned for more glowing reviews of the 2014 Patriots as the season progresses. For the record, I plan to conduct a little experiment during next week’s game by standing barefoot on a pile of glass shards during the Patriots game. We’ll see what hurts less, the Pats play or the glass.

Or maybe it’s just your eyes that hurt…from reading this.

—Ryan Varney

2014 NFL Season Predictions

NFL Logo
Expert predictions for the 2014 NFL season

The 2014 NFL season kicks off tonight with the Green Bay Packers taking on the 12th Man, er, the Seattle Seahawks. Could very well be a preview of the NFC Championship game… No matter what, though, the game is sure to get pro football kicked off with a deafening bang.

Now that all the preseason exhibitions, practices and roster moves are behind us, I’ll give you my expert take on how the season will shape up.

Regular Season Predictions

X = Division Champion; Y = Wild Card

AFC North NFC North
x-Pittsburgh (10-6) x-Green Bay (11-5)
y-Cincinnati (9-7) y-Chicago (9-7)
Baltimore (9-7) Detroit (7-9)
Cleveland (4-12) Minnesota (5-11)
AFC East NFC East
x-New England (11-5) x-Philadelphia (10-6)
NY Jets (9-7) NY Giants (7-9)
Miami (8-8) Washington (6-10)
Buffalo (4-12) Dallas (4-12)
AFC South NFC South
x-Indianapolis (10-6) x-New Orleans (11-5)
Tennessee (8-8) Tampa Bay (9-7)
Houston (7-9) Atlanta (8-8)
Jacksonville (3-13) Carolina (7-9)
AFC West NFC West
x-Denver (14-2) x-Seattle (12-4)
y-San Diego (10-6) y-Arizona (9-7)
Kansas City (8-8) San Francisco (9-7)
Oakland (4-12) St. Louis (4-12)

AFC Playoffs

Wild Card

San Diego Chargers over Pittsburgh Steelers
Indianapolis Colts over Cincinnati Bengals

Divisional Round

San Diego Chargers over Denver Broncos
New England Patriots over Indianapolis Colts

AFC Championship

New England Patriots over San Diego Chargers

NFC Playoffs

Wild Card

Green Bay Packers over Arizona Cardinals
Philadelphia Eagles over Chicago Bears

Divisional Round

Green Bay Packers over Seattle Seahawks
New Orleans Saints over Philadelphia Eagles

NFC Championship

Green Bay Packers over New Orleans Saints

Super Bowl

New England Patriots over Green Bay Packers

In a rematch of Super Bowl XXXI (or 31 as I like to say), I have the Patriots coming out on top this time.

Some people are bold enough to pick actual scores, regular season, playoffs, Super Bowl or all three, but that’s just getting a little too crazy. There is no real sample population yet to help us determine just how potent each team’s offense or defense is going to be. Except that we know Jacksonville’s offense will be anemic.

Other Predictions

Here are some things I will be watching for during the season.

Johnny Manziel – not when he’ll start (week 5, BTW) but when he’ll get hurt (week 9 against the Bucs).
Rob Gronkowski – not when he’ll get hurt (week 5 against the Bengals) but which body part this time (ankle, BTW).
Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick – not which one has the better season (Kaepernick) but which one gets hurt running outside the pocket (Wilson – which is why Kaep has the better year).
Bill Belichick – just the over under on how many times he smiles this season during press conferences (cumulative). I have him at six. Six smiles.
Marshawn Lynch and Pete Carroll – when does Carroll finally realize he should just lead a trail of Skittles from the line of scrimmage to the end zone, thereby ensuring a Marshawn Lynch touchdown on every drive (for a blueprint of this plan see E.T.) and victory for Lynch fantasy owners everywhere.
Dallas Cowboys – Over/under on how many games it takes for a team to put up 50 against that stalwart D (4 games).
Andy Dalton – After signing the big money, does he live up to his salary a la Joe Flacco? What’s that – Joe Cool didn’t live up to his salary? Well then, sucks to be you Cincy.
Michael Sam – Will he or won’t he play in an actual game in 2014 – who cares? When do the nudes get leaked?

Finally, to all you fantasy football players out there, good luck from the bottom of my heart. My only advice: it’s not about the talent of the players, but how the coach’s game plans incorporate them. That being said pick up Tim Wright (TE, New England) now. I have no idea just how good he is, but you can bet Belichick will work him into as many plays as he can.

—Ryan Varney

Where to Watch Football in Cincinnati

UPDATE: The 2014-15 NFL season is about to kickoff. Hopefully your team pulled through the pre-season with no devastating injuries and it’s time to enjoy some actual real football. The only problem now is figuring out where to watch, especially if your team isn’t local. With that in mind, it’s time to revisit this blog post from last year. It’s still 100% relevant, meaning nobody went out of business and no other sports bars made the leap into my top five.

Where to watch football in Cincinnati
Watching football at Buffalo Wild Wings in Rookwood

One of the first things I asked about when I moved here was where to watch football in Cincinnati. I can’t believe that was four years ago. Even more troubling is that I’ve never written about my findings (and this is some serious research, mind you).

If you’re already thinking blah blah blah…just tell me where to go., then feel free to skip ahead to find the best place to watch football in Cincinnati.

First, I’d like to encourage you not to get fooled by this compilation from Metromix – like I did when I moved here. It’s fine if you’re only interested in watching one or two games, with the Bengals game being both of them. These are mostly fine establishments, but they DO NOT cater to the fan that wants to watch EVERY NFL game.

Second, if you’re wondering why you should listen to me, let me present some credentials. I moved from Chicago, my home for a decade and a somewhat transient city, that hosts a wide spectrum of NFL team fans besides da Bears. They know how to do a football Sunday Funday. I also go out just about every Sunday with my wife. She will validate any of these assessments. We root for different teams, neither local, so it’s important for us to see all the games. Plus she actually runs a money fantasy football league, so she’s double-y invested. Yeah, we’re serious about the NFL.

So what makes a great place to watch every NFL game?

Three things: TVs, TVs, TVs.

Actually, there’s more to it than just TVs. Food and atmosphere help round out the contributing factors. But the TV setup is clearly the most important thing here. So here are my picks for the places doing it right.

Top 5 Places to Watch NFL Football in Cincinnati

These are not listed in any particular order. The viewer’s proximity to the location plays a big role in determining where to go. Just know that all provide a great football-watching experience.

Buffalo Wild Wings (Rookwood/Hyde Park/Norwood)
http://www.buffalowildwings.com/

Buffalo Wild Wings Norwood - where to watch football in Cincinnati
2692 Madison Road
Cincinnati, OH 45208

If you can get a seat in the bar area, you’re pretty much set up for every game. They have four large TVs (two side by side above the bar) and five smaller TVs in a line. Plus you have good sight lines to catch some of the bigger TV displays in the dining area. They work with you to make sure you can see the games you’re interested in, but it is first come first serve. So get there early.

The atmosphere is pretty festive, especially when the Bengals are on. If you go semi-often, you’ll definitely be able to turn strangers into friends as there is a regular crowd.

Drink specials generally include 23 oz drafts of either Miller Lite, Bud Light or Coors Light for $3. And while they’re working on expanding the menu, it’s still your typical bar fare. Just get the wings.

Putter’s (Liberty Township)
http://putterstavern.com/

Putter's in West Chester - where to watch football in Cincinnati
6575 Cincinnati Dayton Rd
Liberty Twp, OH 45044

Putter’s has a more limited setup, but the south bar has a nice wall of TVs (two large screens surrounded by several smaller ones). There are also many TVs scattered across the entire restaurant, but depending on where you can get a seat, they may not be viewable.

The atmosphere is usually pretty noisy and you may find yourself involved in some trash talk, so be prepared.

During the early games, they have a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar that is excellent. Choose from a variety of mixes and garnish with several cheese choices, olives, pickles, celery, salami, hot peppers and so much more. If that’s not meal enough, enjoy a gameday steak hoagie and fries for five bucks – your choice of mushroom or Italian and mozzarella.

Holy Grail (The Banks/Downtown)
http://www.holygrailcincy.com/html/banks/banks.php

Holy Grail at the Banks - where to watch football in Cincinnati
161 Joe Nuxhall Way
Cincinnati, OH 45202

The Holy Grail has really expanded its TV setup. All screens are large and crystal clear. There’s really not a bad seat in the house and they do a good job of labeling each TV so you know what game will be where.

It’s always loud and rowdy and quite often you can find ESPN radio personality Mo Egger there watching the games. Y’know, if you’re into that kind of thing.

They have your typical bar food fare and they do a good job with it. I don’t think they have any gameday deals that will really draw you in.

Buffalo Wild Wings (Newport/Ft. Thomas)
http://www.buffalowildwings.com/

Buffalo Wild Wings in Newport, KY - where to watch football in Cincinnati
83 Carothers Road
Newport, KY 41071

Best TV setup in Cincinnati. While the whole place is relatively small, they somehow packed in over 45 TVs, all 48” screens or larger and all crystal clear HDTV displays. Plus they have home theater-sized screens above the bar on both sides. The bar is in the middle (so it’s oval) and there are four sections surrounding the bar. Each section has at least eight TVs – needless to say, you can find all the games here. They’ll also work with you to get any game you want on any TV you want. This is where you will find me most Sundays.

The atmosphere isn’t as good as the Rookwood location (above), but it’s new and needs time to develop. It’ll come around, especially when people realize just how AWESOME the TV setup is.

I’ve already commented on the food. It’s the same here as Rookwood.

Willie’s (Covington)
http://www.williescovington.com/

Willie's - where to watch football in Cincinnati
401 Crescent Ave
Covington, Kentucky 41011

Willie’s has the Great Wall of Television. If you can get a seat in the bar, you can sit and stare at four huge screens surrounded by several smaller ones. If you sit in the dining area, the view’s not so good.

Willie’s is a fun place and the food is very good for bar fare – and pretty reasonably priced. The only thing that keeps me from going back more often is the smoke. One of these days NKY will get with the program and ban smoking.

Honorable Mention:

Thirsty’s Oasis (Mason)
http://www.thirstysoasis.com/ordereze/default.aspx

Willie's - where to watch football in Cincinnati
5579 A Ohio 741
Mason, OH 45040

Thirsty’s has a boatload of TVs, well-positioned throughout the bar and you can see all the games from just about wherever you sit. They even have an outdoor patio/bar with enough TVs to show all the games. However, they’re not real adept at working the remote, so you may have to wait awhile before the game you want hits the TV you’re watching.

They have a great selection of beers, but no real gameday specials. The food is good and varied, but I’ll recommend the Flying Pig Wings. And the Bloody Mary.

Did I Miss Your Fave?

Drop me a comment if you think I missed one. I’m always willing to try other places in my quest to find football heaven.

—Ryan Varney

Cincinnati Reds at the 2014 All Star Break

Cincinnati Reds Logo courtesy of MLB.comHeading into the All Star break, the Reds were hot – winning seven of their last ten. Despite not having Joey Votto or Brandon Phillips (and even Skip Schumaker), the Reds managed to gain some ground on Milwaukee, St. Louis and Pittsburgh. Jay Bruce hit three homeruns during that stretch and was primed for one of his team-carrying hot streaks.

Then the break came and the Reds broke.

Since regular season baseball resumed, the Reds have dropped four straight. And it’s been ugly, ugly, ugly. Dropped pop-ups, flubbed grounders, base running blunders and an inability to hit with RISP have put serious doubts into whether the Reds should be buyers or sellers in the second half.

Oh, and Jay Bruce is 0 – 11 with 5 Ks since the break.

But the fact remains, this team is only three and a half games out of first place. They’re still over .500 and the starting pitching remains above average – if not superb. The bullpen has improved, though both Broxton and Chapman have been touched up a little as of late. And for the amount of money being spent on those guys (see my previous rant on that for more details), well, they’d better improve. Only JJ Hoover can’t seem to get it together (see below for my thoughts on him).

They’re not getting Phillips or Votto back anytime soon, but if they can snap out of this little funk before leaving the land of brats and cheese wheels, I think the Reds should still be buyers. Cautious buyers, but buyers nonetheless.

Please don’t give up top-end prospects to land a mediocre rental player. Trade a guy you’re probably not going to re-sign that’s proven to be successful.

This mostly consists of pitching as the Reds can’t afford to lose any position player that can even hit at least .240. Now this is a very limiting strategy, I’ll admit, but this Reds team is probably not worth mortgaging the future.

Alfredo Simon, as much as I love what he’s done this year, might be a flash-in-the-pan as a starter. His arm might not be used to this many innings. Deal him while he has value. If you truly believe in Homer Bailey (money talks), and you trust Mike Leake and pray to God that Cingrani seasons well, you still have a solid staff. And in the playoffs, you’ll only need Cueto, Latos and Bailey.

However, if the Reds get swept out of Milwaukee or lose three or four games over the next seven, I’d start selling.

Should be easy, right? Who wouldn’t want the likes of Ryan Ludwick, Chris Heisey, Zack Cozart, Ramon Santiago, Brayan Pena, Donald Lutz or Skip Schumaker? Teams are probably salivating to take on the contracts of Brandon Phillips or Joey Votto. GASP – did I just say to unload Joey? Yes. Yes I did.

Of course, none of this will happen. The Reds will continue to get diminishing returns on BP and JV, and no contender is looking to part with prospects for the rest of the gang.

All we can do is hope these guys continue to play as a cohesive unit and that somehow, someway, someone picks up the slack.

If only the Todfather had a daughter. And it was the day of her wedding. Every day. And he had to grant all us Reds fans our wishes: more bombs (of the three- or four-run variety), the healing touch on Votto and Phillips and a post-season berth. Surely the Home Run Derby runner-up has the clout.

Final Thoughts on JJ Hoover

JJ Hoover Meme

Seriously, though, Hoover’s stats are horrific. He’s given up 8 homeruns in 34 appearances (41 IP) and 25 earned runs for a 5.49 ERA, all leading to a 1 – 7 record. He might have good stuff and may eventually become a quality reliever, but right now? He’s killing the Reds. Get on the phone, call Louisville and tell them they have a project on the way.

JJ Hoover statistics

—Ryan Varney

2014 Reds First Quarter Review

2014 Reds Bullpen
2014 Reds Bullpen

Somebody needs to get fired…and it’s not Bryan Price. Whoever decided to drop $22.5 million dollars on the Reds bullpen this year come get your pink slip.

You. Failed.

Every time I see Price picking up the phone to the pen, I think “Who you gonna call? Winbusters?”

Reds upper management paid a combined $22.5 million to a group of “pitchers” to produce the following:

  • 5.77 ERA (worst in baseball)
  • .274 Batting Average Against
  • 4 Blown Saves
  • 3 Saves
  • 90 Innings Pitched (fewest in NL)

The only saving grace for the Reds bullpen is the fact they’ve worked the fewest innings in the National League so far this year. Can you imagine how much damage they could do in 120 IP? Well, give them time. You won’t have to imagine.

I’d also like to point out the number of blown saves versus saves. Surely, leaving the starters in could produce the same results? Reds starters are already pitching more innings than any other staff, so what’s a few more? BTW – Reds starters are only making $12 million more than the Reds bullpen collectively. Go ahead and put that in your back pocket for a bargaining chip next off season, guys.

Except you Homer Bailey. We’d like your $105 million back.

Better idea: just move him to the bullpen. He’ll fit right in.

Too bad the Reds can’t hit off their own bullpen. Currently, only Brandon Phillips is hitting higher than all National Leaguers batting against the Reds. He’s at a whopping .276. Everyone else is vying for the Mendoza Line. They could really use the lift of batting against their own pen.

$22.5 million. Could’ve added a bat to the lineup. Maybe pick up some extra runs to cover the ones the relievers are giving away.

Looks like I picked the wrong year to buy season tickets.

—Ryan Varney

Homer Serves Them Up At An Alarming Pace

Homer Bailey bobblehead

David Dewitt Bailey. His nickname, and the name you know him by is “Homer” – not a bad nickname for a baseball player. Except Homer Bailey is a pitcher and unfortunately for the Cincinnati Reds, a team that just shelled out $105 million for his services, Homer is serving them up at a rate of 1 every other inning in 2014.

It’s early, and that number will no doubt get better as the season progresses, but it’s alarming nonetheless. Besides the long balls, Bailey’s ERA this season at 8.16 is almost double his career average of 4.32. His WHIP is nearly a point higher, too.
Homer Bailey career statistics
Further, the Reds gave Bailey SEVEN years to reach the potential they felt he had in him – which they thought they saw realized in the pair of no-hitters he tossed in one calendar year. Hence the deal for a cool $105 mil over six years. That’s an average of $17.5 million per year. In other words, that’s ace money.

While I do think Homer Bailey has shown improvement over his first seven seasons, he’s no ace. People will quibble over the definition of what an ace is, but everyone agrees, an ace is the team’s best option when they need a win – someone you can bank on virtually every appearance. You can’t bank on Bailey. Like most of the Reds staff, he’s just too inconsistent and his career stats bear this out.

Too often the trend in baseball has shown that players receiving huge contracts have rather suspect performances the ensuing season. And with the Reds anemic offense, they really need Bailey to rise above the norm. Based on the early returns, he is not.

But it’s not all doom and gloom Reds fans. The team was smart enough to back load the contract with Bailey getting $9 million this year, $10 million in 2015, $18 million in 2016, $19 million in 2017, $21 million in 2018 and $23 million in 2019. Plus they set a buyout price at $5 million. So if Bailey doesn’t get back to his 2013 numbers, they can get out of the deal without taking too big a hit.

I certainly hope Bailey gets back into form in short order. He’s got dynamic stuff and he’s fun to watch. Plus, the Reds have enough guys in the bullpen willing to give up bombs – good thing Uncle Walt spent so much on such quality middle relievers (it’s enough to make you think he’s still on the Cardinals payroll – but that’s a post for another day).

I digress.

As does Homer.

—Ryan Varney

Proposed NFL Ban On N-Word

proposed NFL ban on n-wordThe NFL has plans to crack down on players using N-bombs. The big debate is whether or not they can successfully implement and enforce such an idea. A secondary debate then ensued over whether this will be the straw that broke the camel’s back in regards to the Washington Redskins (R-word) franchise.

What troubles me is that this even needs to be addressed. Why is the N-word still being used?

Obviously I hear it being dropped in rap songs – though of the “-a” or “-ah” variety as opposed to the original “-er” version – (“-a” or “-ah” being considered okay), and occasionally from the mouths of white, self-proclaimed “old-school” types (decidedly not okay). The former usage is apparently a term of endearment while the latter screams “Racist.”

It all depends on who uses it and how. Context, they say, is everything.

So here we have a word that those advocating human rights and racial equality worked hard to eradicate from the English vocabulary. The N-word stood as a representation of all backward and racist thinking and its elimination from use is a way to show progress in our thinking about racial equality.

Maybe that’s why such in-house usage of the N-word feels like two steps forward, one step back. Isn’t it going against what past elders have championed? Why resurrect something so hateful?

Is it really an attempt to change the connotation of the word? Or is it merely an attempt to rub it in the face of those on the outside? We can use it, but you can’t. I hope it’s not the latter because that really feels like driving a stake through the heart of progress through self-segregation.

Based on this line of thinking, let’s take a look at another cringe-worthy word: faggot (at least it makes me feel as uncomfortable as the N-word).

Straight white rapper Eminem slings this epithet in several of his songs and he has been labeled a homophobe because of it. Why? Because the term has a negative connotation and denigrates an entire group of people.

Now I don’t follow a lot of gay culture, but I am friends with a fair number of gay people. I can say that I’ve never heard any of them refer to another using this term. However, by N-word logic, it would be fine if they did.

But would it further the progress of our acceptance of gays and gay rights? Unlikely.

Now, about the R-word.

If the connotation of the term “redskins” is as negative and ugly as the N-word or faggot, then the Washington NFL franchise needs to change its name. In fact, I would argue that the use of redskins is even more egregious than the use of the N-word.

I don’t know anyone, including Native Americans, who drop R-bombs. Other than to reference the Washington football franchise or potatoes, this term has long since disappeared from our lexicon. There are no attempts to bring it back into vogue or to use it as a racial slur. Let’s move on.

Besides, the Washington Redskins could stand a makeover. That franchise provides the only negative connotation to the R-word these days.

I think it was comedian Chris Rock who observed that having a team called the Washington Redskins was like having a team called the New York N-words. Obviously, that would never happen.

And yet, use of the N-word persists: who can use it, who can’t use it, and if you do use it in the NFL, will it draw a 15 yard penalty? (What’s the equivalent of a 15 yard penalty in life, BTW?)

In the end, those who still insist on using the N-word bring to mind a group of mentally-disabled people sitting around calling each other retards.

Endearing, isn’t it?

—Ryan Varney

Who Needs to Win More, Brady or Manning?

Manning versus Brady
Image courtesy of Seekonk Speedway

The 2014 AFC Championship pits Peyton Manning against Tom Brady…again. The debate swirls this week as to which quarterback needs to win this game more, Manning or Brady. Here are two quotes, one from each side of the debate.

Manning Needs It

“I believe that the football community as a whole will continue to keep Peyton Manning one tier below the best of the best if he doesn’t win another Super Bowl.” – Lyle Graversen on Fansided.

Brady Needs It

“Sunday, Tom Brady has a chance to not only end the never-ending-debate of Manning vs. Brady, but he takes one more step to restoring his legacy as one of the great post season players in NFL history.” – Dylan Smith on ChowderandChampions.com

Verdict

Regarding Manning, I’m not sure the football community views him one tier below the best of the best. The guy set the record for TDs in a season, saw it broken and then set it again – and this time with the total yards record tacked on. He’s won multiple MVPs, but gets dinged because he has one lonely Super Bowl ring. Ridiculous. That a QB’s greatness is determined by a singular game is absurd (more on this notion later). Manning is one of the all-time greats.

Regarding Brady, he has two MVPs and three Super Bowl rings. He broke Manning’s TD record (only to cede it this year). He also has more playoff wins, though he’s “struggled” as of late. He is just as great in the regular season as in the post season. Again, he gets a boost because of his SB rings. Even if he doesn’t win this weekend, he is still one of the all-time greats.

If New England wins and then goes on to win the Super Bowl, well, now we’ll have an interesting debate: who is the greatest QB of all time, Brady or Montana?

If Denver wins out, no one will be asking, “Who is the greatest of all time, Montana or Manning?”

Why Super Bowl Rings Are Over-rated (in terms of legacy and ratings)

Football is a team sport. Um, duh, you might be thinking. Why is it that the number of Super Bowl rings plays such a minimal role when arguing for the greatest running back, tight end or wide receiver? How about linebacker, cornerback or tackle?

While quarterback play is increasingly important in today’s NFL, he’s still just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to winning a championship.

The Patriots won Super Bowls with Brady because they had a better than good defense (not great) and a productive running attack. They lost Super Bowls when the run game was weak and the D and offensive lines were overmatched. Brady wins when Brady gets protection, which only happens when the team is strong. Manning operates the same way.

Joe Flacco proved that Super Bowl rings means big money, but ask any Baltimore fan, “Is he worth the money?” No, Hon, not a chance. The football community will never regard Flacco as one of the all-time greats, even if he wins another Super Bowl. The salary demands we do, but the play is just too inconsistent.

Manning and Brady have consistently been amazing, leading their teams to scads of regular season wins, post season successes and some Super Bowl victories. It’s the combination of these that cement their legacies.

I will concede that if everything is equal, then you can use the number of rings to tip the scales.

So Who’s the Best – Manning or Brady?

Regular season wins, post season wins, MVPs, passing records, Super Bowls…they’re all for the birds. Manning is the best. He never went to Michigan.

—Ryan Varney

Christmas Gifts for Patriots Fans

Christmas gifts for Patriots fans

Need a last minute Christmas gift for the Patriots fan in your life? Why not spread the cheer this holiday season with the smash CD “A Very Tom Brady Christmas”! Your Pats fan will love the merry tunes and joyful lyrics, celebrating our boys in red, white and blue. Check out some song and lyric samples below –

Here Comes Belichick

Here comes Belichick!
Here comes Belichick!
Right down Patriot Place!
Brady and Ridley and Gronkowski
are making all the plays.
Gillette is ringing, fans are singing;
All is merry and bright.
Don your jerseys and say your prayers,
‘Cause Belichick comes tonight.

Here comes Belichick!
Here comes Belichick!
Right down Patriot Place!
He’s got a book that is filled with plays
to beat those Jets again.
Hear those Brady passes sizzling by,
What a beautiful sight.
Stand and cheer, guzzle down that beer,
‘Cause Belichick comes tonight.

Playoff Time is Here

Playoff time is here,
happiness and cheer,
fun for all that Pat fans
call their favorite time of year.

Snowflakes in the air,
drunkards everywhere,
Brady finds an open man
with seconds left to spare.

The kick is in the air;
Gostkowski knows it’s fair;
Confetti falls, we’ve won it all
with such dramatic flair.

Playoff time is here;
the Superbowl is near;
oh that we could always see
us win it every year,
us win it every year.

O Little Town of Foxborough

O little town of Foxborough,
Gillette’s lights shining bright;
Above the D, past cornerbacks
The TD pass sails by;
Then in the end zone shineth
Gronkowski’s famous spike.
The hopes and dreams of all Pats fans
Come true for us tonight.

Brady Baby

Brady baby, give the handoff to Vereen,
been an awful good back,
Brady baby, so hand it off for six tonight.

Brady baby, Amendola wants in, Ridley and Gronk, too.
So spread out the cheer,
Brady baby, and let it all fly tonight.

The Christmas Song

Opponents roasting on an open fire
Brady nipping at your D
Forty yard bombs being slung by our hero
All the fans wearing ol’ number twelve.
Everybody knows a touchdown
with an extra point
Help to make the season bright
Pat fans with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight.

They know that Ninky’s on his way
He’s coming with such speed
and power on his sack sleigh
And every quarterback is gonna drop
As five-o comes ‘round the edge
And makes another stop.

And so I’m offering this simple phrase
To Pat fans, one to ninety-two
Although it’s been said
many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you.

Enjoy other holiday Patriot favorites too –

Joy to Gillette
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Another Ring
I Saw Mommy Kissing Brady Claus
Ridley the Rock Hands Fumbler
Buffalo Got Run Over by the Patriots
Chandler the Sackman

—Ryan Varney

This CD is not actually available for purchase.