Closing the Chapter on the 2015 NFL Season

2015 NFL Season Sumary

It’s in my nature to always have something to look forward to, which is why I immediately started a countdown to 2016 training camp after the Patriots lost to the Broncos in the AFC Championship. Don’t get me wrong – I was still experiencing rage and disappointment from the game (the type that only spoiled New England fans can really understand at the end of a season that doesn’t result in Tom Brady lifting the Lombardi), but I knew it was time to move on, even knowing that Peyton Manning still needed to face off against Cam Newton.

It doesn’t seem right to move onto 2016 without a recap of the some NFL season highlights. Here’s what we thought of 2015…

It was a good year for:

  • Cam Newton and the Panthers – They almost had a perfect season (15-1), but we’re guessing that a Super Bowl win would make everything good for this gutsy team from the NFC South. They spent the whole season with a chip on their shoulder, trying to ignore the haters who pointed to the difficulty (or lack thereof) of their schedule as the reason for their success. Cam is a front-runner for MVP.
  • Kirk Cousins – He won the starting QB position in Washington this year and gave us the best soundbite of the year with his fired-up, “You like that?!!”
  • The Houston Texans – This may seem like an odd choice because they were decimated by the Chiefs during wildcard weekend this year after winning the pathetic AFC South. However, they did give us one of the best Hard Knocks seasons yet and I think they deserve some praise for that.
  • Aaron Rodgers – The season may not have ended the way he wanted, but the guy had not one, but two spectacular Hail Mary catches this year. He’s an exciting player to watch.
  • The Bengals’ half-time monkey – Why doesn’t this happen at all football games? SOMEBODY PLEASE EXPLAIN!
  • Women in the NFL – We’ve still have much ground to cover when considering the involvement of women in the old boy’s club known as the NFL. However, seeing Jen Welter as an intern pre-season coach for the Cardinals and Sarah Thomas as the first full-time official felt like small victories and we’ll take what we can get. With the Bills promoting Kathryn Smith to become the first full-time assistant coach in the league earlier this month, hopefully this will be a sign of more female hires to come. Have we figured out the domestic violence issues linked to the sport? No, but hiring women into higher-profile positions and hearing rising sports world stars like Katie Nolan call people out seems like a good start.

 

It was a bad year for:

  • Injured players – Yes, everyone gets injured in the NFL. However, there were a lot of “big names” that went on injured reserve or missed a significant number of games due to injury, upsetting fans and fantasy football participants everywhere. A lot of these “big names” were quarterbacks, including Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton, and Joe Flacco. (Personally, all I can think about is how things would have been different if the Patriots didn’t have so many significant injuries. Sweet Jesus, it would have been great to see Roger hand the Lombardi over to Mr. Kraft and Brady.)
  • Officials – You couldn’t pay me enough to be an NFL official. The job is too stressful and the stakes are too high for something that is not full-time employment. The officials seemed to go through a rough patch in the middle of the 2015 season. Mistakes are understandable, but it was the size of the mistakes and how much of an effect they had on game outcomes that made them so newsworthy.
  • Catching – No one knew what exactly justified a catch this year. Expect this to be a topic addressed by the rules committee for 2016.
  • FanDuel and DraftKings – These two daily sports fantasy companies started out having a good year and then seven states declared that activities on these sites were a form of gambling. While there is certainly a lot of money to be had in the fantasy world, every day new hurdles seem to pop up and everyone wants their piece of the pie.
  • Rams fans in St. Louis – Can you imagine having your football team taken away from you? That’s what happened when Stan Kroenke and his mustache decided to follow the big money and move the team back to LA. Read these fan reactions and tell me you don’t feel bad for some of these people.

Other things worth mentioning:

  • Moving the extra-point line back – The NFL moved the PAT (point after touchdown) line from the 2-yd line to the 15-yd line this year. Kickers still made the majority of their PATs, but it did add an interesting twist to the game and we didn’t hate it.
  • Concussions – The NFL recently announced that diagnosed concussions rose 32% this season (including preseason and training camp), with a 58% increase when only considering regular-season games. The movie “Concussion” kept the topic in the headlines, highlighting this as a significant problem the NFL will have to contend with in the long term.
  • Shame on you – The Falcons lost a 2016 draft pick and president Rich McKay was suspended after the team was found guilty of pumping in sound noise during home games in 2013 and 2014. Browns GM Ray Farmer was suspended and the team was fined after a sideline texting scandal. The Browns and the Bills had to suspend coaches after alleged assault incidents.
  • Color rush uniforms – The NFL experimented with color rush uniforms and some of them were just hideous. We were not fans. Please don’t do that again.
  • Deflategate – Believe it or not, it’s not over yet, as the NFL’s appeal of Judge Berman’s ruling will be held on March 3. I think I speak for all of us when I say, just drop it Roger.

How will you remember the 2015 season? What do you think 2016 will bring us? Comment below to let us know.

– Michelle

 

Snap Chat: Joe Theismann

Snap Chat Interview - Joe Theismann

To say Joe Theismann is a busy man would probably be an understatement. As a retired NFL quarterback, he spends his time as a football analyst, restaurant owner, motivational speaker, and most recently, as an actor. His performance in “Love on the Sidelines,” a Hallmark Channel romantic comedy, is what we are discussing, but I can’t suppress my inner football geek.

“So…do you have any playoff predictions?” I ask.

Now, I’m sure that Joe gets asked football questions all the time and he probably wouldn’t mind continuing our conversation about his recent acting experience, but he humors me. Not only that, Joe seems more than happy to talk about the upcoming games.

“My picks for the Super Bowl are the Cardinals and the Patriots. The Cardinals are the most complete team in the NFL right now, and when New England is healthy, they are hard to beat,” says the man who hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in 1983.

As our conversation continues, we discuss the Redskins, recent coaching changes, and RG3. Not only is he extremely well-spoken, but he’s very friendly, insightful, and patient as I jump around from topic to topic.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me, as both Beth Grossbard (the executive producer of “Love on the Sidelines”) and Joe’s assistant, who helped me with scheduling, both praised him for his easy-going nature and genuine interest in connecting with people. Grossbard described Joe as better than any therapist and I totally get it after having the opportunity to chat with him.

——————-

If you’ve seen “The Blind Side,” you may recall that the movie opens with footage of a Redskins-Giants football game with a Sandra Bullock voice-over explaining why the left tackle, the guy who protects the blindside of the quarterback, is often the second highest paid player on a team. The footage shows a quarterback succumbing to a gruesome leg injury. That quarterback is Joe Theismann and sadly, that injury ended his career in the NFL.

More often than not, Joe’s name is synonymous with that injury. While it would be understandable if he tried to distance himself from that terrible moment, he doesn’t. In fact, he was recently quoted in The Washington Post describing it as “a blessing.”

The experience is actually one of the reasons Joe was drawn to his role in “Love on the Sidelines.” In the movie, Joe plays Owen Holland, the father of a quarterback who is in the process of rehabbing a serious injury.

“There was an emotional connection there,” says Joe, explaining that he understood the process that the injured character was going through. Having the opportunity to play the father, and one who showed pride in what his son had accomplished, was also appealing to Joe.

This wasn’t Joe’s first foray into acting, as he made appearances on “Necessary Roughness” in 2013 and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” in 2014. When I questioned him about the experience of acting, he described the challenge of transitioning from a public speaker. (Joe travels the country as a motivational speaker. You can check out a snippet here.)

“Speeches are about projecting, there’s more force to it. Acting is about capturing the moment. It’s about taking the written words and making them a part of who you are,” says Joe.

A highlight of the experience was the cast and crew. Joe had nothing but good things to say about the director and described Emily Kinney (pictured below with Joe at the Hallmark press party) and John Reardon, who play the lead roles, as “consummate professionals and fun to be around.”

Emily Kinney and Joe Theismann Love on the Sidelines Hallmark

From speaking with executive producer Beth Grossbard, it was apparent the feelings were reciprocated by the cast and crew. She appreciated the attention that he showed to everyone on set and fondly recalled how “he would make a touchdown signal any time he had a good take.”

Even though he was only on-set for one day, he signed autographs for everyone and he showed genuine appreciation for being part of the romantic comedy.

“I’m very excited about having [this] opportunity,” says Joe. “It’s a terrific movie. I think it will be enjoyed by a lot of people.”

——————-

It was an absolute thrill to talk to Joe, who was extremely generous with his time and left me the nicest voicemail, which I will probably never delete because I’m weird like that. Thank you so much to Joe Theismann for talking to me about acting and football, and to Beth Grossbard for arranging the interview.

(Oh and for those of you who are wondering, here are some of the interesting NFL tidbits I got from Joe: He thinks that despite the Redskins’ recent playoff loss, they were able to accomplish a lot in in the face of change and injuries, especially to the tight ends and corners. He thinks that the team’s priorities for 2016 should be corners and receivers (“You can always use more receivers”) and now they can start drafting for depth to fortify the team. As far as head coaches go, Joe thinks that Cleveland is walking away a winner with Hue Jackson and he was surprised that San Fransisco went with Chip Kelly.)

“Love on the Sidelines” premieres on the Hallmark Channel on Saturday, January 16, 2016 at 9/8 Central. Photo courtesy of Beth Grossbard / Hallmark.

– Michelle

2015 Fantasy Football Year-End Summary

Hi Mom…and hi to other Snap readers who have been anxiously waiting for our return from our unplanned hiatus. There was a lot that happened over the last month in the NFL – the regular season came to an end, new coaches got hired, existing coaches got fired (Chip Kelly! Did anyone see that coming before the last game of the season? NOT US) and St. Louis lost its football team. Just like the Rams in LA, we’re baaaaack and just in time for the start of the playoffs. Yay football.

(I promise you – there is a point to this post, but first I’m going to ramble. I figure it’s the best way to get you caught up on the last month and get the writing juices flowing.)

I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays and the conclusion of the 2015 NFL season. Our holidays were great, thanks for asking. Admittedly, they would have been better if we both didn’t get sick. We both became “one with the couch” for a few days before Christmas and it sucked. Not only did it interfere with our motivation to blog, but it also interrupted our holiday baking plans. Is it really Christmas if you don’t have Christmas cookies? I’m not quite sure it is.

We got to catch up on some movies (Jurassic World – awesome. Mad Max – terrifying and confusing and weirdly empowering at the end.) We enjoyed not having to look at our computer screens for hours a day. We watched a few football games and some us were able to finish our fantasy football seasons on a high note.

Generally speaking, people don’t care about any fantasy football team but their own. Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to zone out when people are talking about their latest waiver wire pickup unless there’s an opportunity for me to jump into the conversation and talk about my own fantasy team. (The firm exception to this rule is my mother’s fantasy team. We’re all emotionally invested in the success of her fantasy team. She is not a happy camper unless she is dominating the poor unsuspecting souls in her league. Life is just easier when she’s got a winning record.)

Now that I’ve established that you probably don’t care about other people’s fantasy teams, I’m going to tell you all about the fantasy results for our family.

  • Our mom won her fantasy league again this year with her team, Wilfork You Up. Not only did she win, but she dominated the finals with a season-high number of points. This year she displayed some mad draft skills and had some impressive pickups early in the season that paid dividends later. (Her fantasy intuition, as well as her smack-talk, are reasons why I will not be in a league with her.)
  • Our brother was in the same league as mom (glutton for punishment that child is) and he didn’t do quite as well. Actually, he probably wouldn’t want me to share just how far behind our mom he finished, so I won’t.
  • Val didn’t have a fantasy team, but I’m going to give her the GM of the year award for helping Momma O manage her team. Thank goodness you didn’t screw up too badly or else you might have been looking for new fantasy football employment on Black Monday.
  • I was only in three leagues this year.
    • We’re going to skip going into too much detail about the one I did with some college friends, as it was the worst performance I have ever had in a fantasy league. Completely mortifying. Where’s my cone of shame?
    • I made it to the semi-finals in my work league and finished in 4th place overall, which wasn’t terrible considering the number of injuries I dealt with (and by that I mean injuries the real life players dealt with) and the large number of people in the league.
    • For research purposes, I joined a Battle Red fantasy league. Battle Red is the Texans women’s fan club. I’m happy to report that I won that league and I will be receiving an autographed picture of a Texans player in the mail to recognize my accomplishment. Booyah.

Speaking of fantasy football results, our Weekly Pick ‘Em Challenge is continuing through the playoffs. While Val and I are secretly competitive and enjoy sitting on top of the leaderboard, we realize that this is not a good way to make friends or get people to join our league in the future. I would promise to not try as hard next year, but realistically that won’t happen. Here are the standings as of the wild card weekend:

Weekly Pick 'Em 2015 - Wild Card

We’ll try to be better about blogging through the playoffs. Let us know what you want us to write about in the comments below and we’ll do our best to give the people what they want.

– Michelle

Our Thoughts – 2015 NFL Week 10 Recap

Our Thoughts NFL Weekly Summary 10 2015

Chances are that you don’t care about week 10 in the NFL since week 11 has already started, but we could never forgive ourselves if we didn’t share a video of a monkey riding a dog during halftime.

Seeing as though that monkey video is at the bottom of the post, you may as well skim some of our other game recaps. After all, this was a really weird week in the NFL and we would hate for you to still be questioning why you had so many incorrect picks in Weekly Pick ‘Em.

Here’s what we thought about week 10 in the NFL…

Buffalo (22), New York Jets (17) – Bills coach Rex Ryan was victorious in his return to MetLife Stadium to play his former team. It was an ugly game in the rain with turnovers, missed snaps, dropped passes, and questionable play calls. Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick had an off-game, but part of that could be due to the fact he had torn ligaments in his thumb (he had surgery last Friday for that injury). Bills QB Tyrod Taylor had a rough night but was able to rely on his run game to pull through. However, Taylor’s fashion game was on…

Interesting tidbit – The NFL is conducting color blindness tests after this game. Both teams sported Nike’s new “Color Rush” uninforms (all green for the Jets, all red for the Bills). Colorblind fans couldn’t tell the difference between the two uniforms, especially with the Jets green against the playing field. For those of us that could, it looked like a bunch of Christmas elves running around on the field.

Detroit (18), Green Bay (16) – The Lions tried their best to let the Packers win (2 missed PATs, 1 failed on-side kick), but instead won their first game in Green Bay since 1991 (a quarter of a century!) after the Packers missed a 52 yard field goal on the last play of the game. Green Bay’s offense is struggling, having scored less than 20 points in three games, and got booed by the home crowd. Ouch. Their WRs dropped a lot of passes and their starting RB was demoted this past week. This popular pre-season Super Bowl pick team is on pace for their worst statistical year of QB Aaron Rodgers’ career.

Jacksonville (22), Baltimore (20) – The Jaguars broke their 13 road game losing streak, which dated back to 2013, on a field goal as time expired. Initially, the Ravens sacked QB Blake Bortles as time ran out, but they were called for a facemask penalty. Since a game cannot end with a defensive penalty, the Jags got one more shot at field goal. To add insult to injury for the Ravens, the NFL released a statement on Monday saying the Jags should have been penalized for a false start penalty that would have negated the field goal and resulted in a Baltimore win. Ravens QB Joe Flacco is doing the best he can with his depleted group of offensive players.

Miami (20), Philadelphia (19) – The Dolphins can thank their defense and some pure luck/Eagles mistakes for this win. Their offense struggles to be productive, and they tied a NFL record by giving up a safety for the third week in a row. Their go-ahead touchdown bounced off an Eagles player’s helmet. Eagles QB Sam Bradford left the game with a sprained AC joint and concussion. Backup QB Mark Sanchez came in the game and missed a lot of chances to win this one for the Birds. Bradford’s injured shoulder is not his throwing shoulder, but he is expected to miss next Sunday’s game as well as Thursday’s game.

Cleveland (9), Pittsburgh (30) – Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger was supposed to be the back-up QB as he deals with a mid-foot sprain. However, QB Landry Jones was carted off with an ankle injury so Big Ben stepped in and had his way with the Browns, who have not won in Pittsburgh since 2003. The Browns had trouble with their run game, blocking, and racking up penalties. The Browns have decided to start Johnny Manziel at QB for the remainder of the season – at 2-8 they need to see if he has the skills to be their quarterback of the future.

Chicago (37), St. Louis (13) – St. Louis’ offense is basically plays that feature RB Todd Gurley or gadget plays with WR Tavon Austin. After the Rams fell behind by two scores, they let QB Nick Foles start throwing the ball to play catch-up. It didn’t go so well. On Monday, coach Jeff Fischer announced that Foles was being benched in favor of backup Case Keenum in an attempt to spark the offense. Kudos to the Bears for getting the most out of the talent on their roster, and continuing to mess up game picks for those of us still saying “well, they’re the Bears/Jay Cutler, they’re going to lose” as we pick against them incorrectly week after week.

Dallas (6), Tampa Bay (10) – That’s 7 games lost in a row for the Cowboys since QB Tony Romo was injured (Romo is expected to return next week). WR Dez Bryant missed some key plays that would have helped the team. The Bucs managed to score a touchdown with 54 seconds left after a rough game for rookie QB Jameis Winston, who threw two interceptions and a goal-line fumble.

Carolina (27), Tennessee (10) – The undefeated Panthers became the first team since the 1989-1990 Bears to rush for over 100 yards in 20 consecutive games. While QB Cam Newton got in trouble for #Bannergate last week, this week he’s being criticized by the Titans for too much dancing in celebrating his touchdowns. Cam says if teams don’t like his dancing, they should keep him out of the end zone. Touché. (We’re surprised their isn’t more criticism for his cropped pants, but that’s besides the point.) The Titans defense is underrated, but QB Marcus Mariota needs more weapons on offense.

New Orleans (14), Washington (47) – What a beat down by Washington. After more sideline arguments by players and coaching, cue more stories on a change of coaching regime in New Orleans by next season. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan didn’t make it past Monday; he was let go as the team starts its bye week. The Saints became the first team in NFL history to allow 4 touchdown passes and no interceptions three weeks in a row (vs WAS, NYG, TEN). The Saints defense let Washington QB Kirk Cousins throw for 324 yards, 4 touchdowns, and a perfect passer rating of 158.3. Kirk was able to give a game ball to his father – this was the first game he was able to attend all season while he fights cancer.

Minnesota (30), Oakland (14) – The Vikings handed the ball off to RB Adrian Peterson as much as they could, and it worked well as he ran for 203 yards as the Vikings won their fifth straight game. With the Packers loss, this puts them in first place in the NFC North division. The Vikings are fortunate to have a strong defense to back second year QB Teddy Bridgewater as he continues to develop. Raiders QB Derek Carr has already matched his rookie year total of 21 touchdowns.

Kansas City (29), Denver (13) – The good news for Broncos QB Peyton Manning is that he passed Brett Favre to become the all-time passing yards leader in NFL history. The bad news is he was unable to break Favre’s all time regular season wins record – he was benched in favor of Brock Osweiler as the Chiefs blew out the Broncos. Manning had a really rough day; his first pass was intercepted, and it would be his first of four interceptions on the day as he finished with a 0.0 passer rating. (Not a typo.) Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said there is no QB controversy and Peyton will start going forward as long as he is healthy. Kubiak took the blame and said he should have made the call to sit Peyton, who is dealing with foot and rib injuries. The Broncos announced Monday that Peyton is dealing with plantar fasciitis, and will not play next week, perhaps longer. Peyton can’t entirely be blamed for the loss – the Bronco’s o-line, run game and route running did not play up to par. The Chiefs defense has picked up steam as the season has continued, and helped their team pick up a victory that will be critical in the contest for a play-off wild card spot.

New England (27), New York Giants (26) – “I feel like I’m going to throw up.” Those were Momma O’s words after this game, where the Giants led in the 3rd quarter, and twice in the 4th. In the last 1:47 of this game, Pats QB Tom Brady drove his team down the field and set kicker Steve Gostkowski up to kick the game winning 54 yard field goal with one second left on the clock. Yes, slightly stressful for Pats fans. It was not Brady’s best day; these two teams always play each other tough (see Super Bowls XLII and XLVI). Giants WR Odell Beckham scored an 87-yard touchdown, which is the longest touchdown allowed by the Patriots since Bill Belichick became coach in 2000. After that play, Super Bowl hero cornerback Malcolm Butler kept Beckham in check to the tune of 3 catches for 17 yards on 11 targets. Pats TE Rob Gronkowski had a 76-yard touchdown of his own. Bad news for the Pats is that WR Julian Edelman broke a bone in his foot and will miss the next 6-8 weeks. The Giants also announced WR Victor Cruz is heading to IR following calf surgery; he has not played in any games this year. Rest assured, Momma O recovered from the game just fine as her post-game rant included “I hope Roger was choking” in reference to Commissioner Roger Goodell being in attendance at this game.  Just venting a little Post-Deflategate frustration.

Arizona (39), Seattle (32) – If Panthers QB Cam Newton wants to have a dance-off, we have a candidate: Cardinals back-up QB Drew Stanton. Check out his moves as RB Andre Ellington was scoring the go-ahead touchdown for the Cardinals…

As far as the football game went, it was a great one. The Seahawks came back from a 19 point deficit, and then managed to convert two Arizona fumbles into two touchdowns, which gave them a 4 point lead. That lead didn’t last – in fact, in all five of Seattle’s losses this year, they’ve given up the lead in the 4th quarter.  Aside from those two big fumbles, QB Carson Palmer had his way with Seattle’s secondary with the help of WRs Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald. We’re used to seeing the Seahawks play at such a high level after their last two Super Bowl appearances, but that’s a standard that is hard to maintain in the NFL. This was a division game they needed to win to start closing the gap between themselves and the Cardinals, and it didn’t happen. Realistically, barring injuries or a Cardinals collapse, they’re looking at a race to a wild card spot at best if they can get their act together.

Houston (10), Cincinnati (6)  – The Texans came off their bye ready to play! After QB Brian Hoyer left the game with a concussion, backup TJ Yates came in and threw the only touchdown of the night to WR DeAndre Hopkins, who has excelled this season despite the Texans’ carousel of quarterbacks. The Texans defense has not surrendered a touchdown in 10 quarters, and forced a 4th down fumble on the Bengals last drive to seal the win. Bengals QB Andy Dalton and Co. had a tough night. Texans defender J.J. Watt, who had one sack of Dalton, said “Our goal was to come out here and make the Red Rifle look like the Red Ryder BB Gun. I think we did that tonight.” Not going to disagree, J.J. The Bengals had a tough time swallowing their first loss of the season and apparently this statement upset Dalton, who said it was an insult to the integrity of the game. If you don’t want your opponents to be able to say things like that about you, then beat them. It’s all ok Andy – your team wrangled up some exciting halftime entertainment.

OK, one more monkey video. Sorry, we’re not sorry.

What does Soneil324 know that the rest of us don’t? Apparently, he’s got some insider info regarding NFL games. He widened his lead this week in our pick ’em league and doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. Other than that, not much movement in the top 5. Here are this week’s standings in our Weekly Pick ‘Em league.

Weekly Pick 'Em 2015 - Week 10

– Val and Michelle

Our Thoughts – 2015 NFL Week 9 Recap

NFL Week 9 Summary 2015

Have you guys seen the DirectTV NFL player commercials? You know, when normal Peyton or Andrew or Tony has DirectTV and a weird/creepy version of each dude has cable.

I feel like the weird/creepy versions of these guys would have skipped our Snap reader survey.

Don’t be like Arts and Craftsy Tony Romo. Click here to complete our Snap reader survey.

Here’s what we thought about week 9 in the NFL…

Cleveland (10), Cincinnati (31) – Bengals QB Andy Dalton threw 3 TDs to TE Tyler Eifert as the Bengals remain undefeated. Browns QB Johnny Manziel was playing in place of the injured Josh McCown. He struggled to make his reads but wasn’t helped much by his supporting players on offense. The Browns defense held their own for the first half of the game, but couldn’t stop the Bengals run game from running out the clock. Coach Mike Pettine says McCown will start again when he is healthy.

Miami (17), Buffalo (33) – Bills QB Tyrod Taylor and his snazzy press conference attire returned after missing two games with a knee injury. Bills WR Sammy Watkins had a career day – 168 yards and a TD, and RBs LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams both went over 100 yards from scrimmage. The Bills defense still let Miami QB Ryan Tannehill throw for over 300 yards and RB Lamar Miller had 141 yards from scrimmage. Miami interim coach Dan Campbell is still learning about in-game management. The high after their first two blow-out wins is gone after two consecutive losses that have the Dolphins’ record in their division at 0-4.

Green Bay (29), Carolina (37) – The Panthers stopped a comeback by the Packers with a goal-line interception of Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers. Carolina’s defense pressured Rodgers all afternoon and didn’t let the Packers get their run game going. Even though Rodgers put up 376 yards and threw for 4 TDs, the Packers weren’t in sync until the second half. Panthers QB Cam Newton is getting the job done with lesser known offensive skill players. Of course, he’s also getting criticized for “bannergate.” A Packers fan living in NC hung a “North Carolina Cheesehead” sign, which Newton saw during warm-ups and removed to protect his “house.” The fan wanted to keep the banner for his man room, so he reported the theft to stadium police. Cam’s teammates are supporting him, but the Panthers are going to replace the banner for the fan.

St. Louis (18), Minnesota (21) (OT) – The Vikings managed to hold Rams rookie RB Todd Gurley in check and under 100 yards for the first time in more than a month, and now are in a tie with the Packers for first place in the NFC North division. QB Teddy Bridgewater did suffer a concussion after taking a late hit, but is expected to be cleared to play next week. The hit created some entertaining coach-TV analyst beef.

Washington (10), New England (27) – The Pats are still on a roll despite a lack of healthy offensive linemen. The big news coming out of this game is the loss of breakout star RB Dion Lewis for the season due to a torn ACL. Washington QB Kirk Cousins can’t be entirely blamed for this loss – his receivers dropped a lot of passes like they were hot.

Tennessee (34), New Orleans (28) – Titans rookie QB Marcus Mariota returned from a knee injury and led his team to a win in OT in their first game under interim coach Mike Mularkey. Their success was due in large part to a better blocking scheme that did not allow Mariota to get sacked. What a great idea. Saints QB Drew Brees managed to put up plenty of yardage against a Titans defense that was missing two of its starting CBs, but the Saints couldn’t get their run game going. The Saints defense continues to disappoint.

Jacksonville (23), New York Jets (28) – The Jets escaped with a win to break a two-game losing streak. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick played through his injured thumb ligaments. However, their run game wasn’t very effective and their defense hasn’t been the strength it was in the first few weeks of the season. The Jags had several chances to win this game, but penalties and turnovers in the last 6 minutes put the game out of reach. They have to be disappointed with how TE Julius Thomas is playing after giving him a lot of money this off-season.

Oakland (35), Pittsburgh (38) – Steelers RB DeAngelo Williams took over lead back duties from the injured Le’Veon Bell to the tune of 170 rushing yards and 55 receiving yards, plus 2 touchdowns. WR Antonio Brown had 284 receiving yards. That’s not a typo. The bad news for the Steelers is QB Ben Roethlisberger is going to miss some time after spraining his foot. The Raiders can no longer be viewed as an easy match-up by opponents. QB Derek Carr and his crew of WRs, plus RB Latavius Murray, are making plays every week.

Atlanta (16), San Francisco (17) – For a team that started off hot this season, the Falcons didn’t look so great on Sunday. They were upset by the 49ers, who benched their starting QB Colin Kaepernick in favor of Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert was surprisingly solid and won the starting job for week 11 when the team returns from their bye week.

New York Giants (32), Tampa Bay (18) – Despite some bad decision-making by QB Eli Manning, the Giants kept their lead in the NFC East with this win. Giants DE Jason Pierre Paul and his oven mitt made a return to the field and seemed to be in good shape (except for the whole “missing a few fingers” thing). QB-WR bromances were in full display – Eli and Odell Beckham Jr. connected for 105 yards and Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston (who has been steadily improving) connected with WR Mike Evans for 152 yards.

Denver (24), Indianapolis (27) – The undefeated Broncos fell this week. This was the Colts first game with their new offensive coordinator and they were able to make plays against Denver’s top ranked defense. The Colts stopped the Broncos ground game, overcame their own injuries on defense, and took advantage of two interceptions thrown by Broncos QB Peyton Manning, as well as injuries and penalties against Denver’s defense. DeMarcus Ware missed the second half of the game after re-aggrevating a back injury (and will miss another 2-4 weeks). CB Aqib Talib poked Colts TE Dwayne Allen in the eye and has been suspended for one game. (Seriously, dude? Talib, you’re better than that.) Peyton Manning fell 3 yards and 4 points shy of setting new NFL records for career passing yards and quarterback wins. Andrew Luck is going to miss an undetermined amount of time with a lacerated kidney and partially torn abdominal muscle. Ouch. What’s crazy is that he suffered the injury in the fourth quarter, and continued to play, even throwing a TD pass to Ahmad Bradshaw. QB Matt Hasselbeck will start in Luck’s absence – he won the two starts he made earlier this season when Luck missed time with a shoulder injury.

Philadelphia (33), Dallas (27) (OT) – The Cowboys have lost 6 games in a row since QB Tony Romo broke his clavicle. QB Matt Cassel didn’t have a bad night, finding WR Cole Beasley for two TDs and WR Dez Bryant also coming up with a TD. The Eagles brought an effective run game to Dallas, evenly splitting snaps between RBs DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. As a side note, the non-football story in this game was the criticism the Cowboys received for letting Greg Hardy play after photos from his domestic violence arrest surfaced.

Chicago (22), San Diego (19) – “It’s pretty sickening…but we are what we are, and right now, that’s 2-7 on a five game skid.” Those words belong to Chargers QB Philip Rivers, and that pretty much sums up his team. They’ve been decimated by injuries at almost every position, with Monday night’s addition to IR being WR Malcolm Floyd (who planned to retire after this season). Rivers somehow manages to put points on the board and basically keep his team in games and currently leads the NFL with 3,034 passing yards. Bears QB Jay Cutler is quietly having a solid season under new offensive coordinator Adam Gase, taking advantage of San Diego’s injuries to lead his team to a comeback win.

Here are this week’s standings in our Weekly Pick ‘Em league.

Weekly Pick 'Em 2015 - Week 9

– Val and Michelle

Our Thoughts – 2015 NFL Week 8 Recap

Our Thoughts - NFL Week 8 2015 Game Summaries

Before we get into the juicy goodness that was week 8 in the NFL, we’re going to start out with a shameless request for help. We recently set up a four-question survey for our readers. If you have two minutes (we swear, that’s all the time it would take), it would mean a lot to us if you could answer the survey questions and tell us how we can improve The Snap. You will have our eternal gratitude and could possibly be rewarded with another picture of Michelle in a mascot costume. Click here to complete our survey.

I guess we can also take this opportunity for apologize for skipping week 7 game summaries. Val was still in Europe (“I don’t know how the NFL can expect people in Europe to consistently watch games with the time difference unless they’re in London”) and she does the heavy lifting on these posts. Michelle was in DC cheering on (and carb loading) with Snap Super Fan Laura, who ran the Marine Corps Marathon with our friend Caroline. Doesn’t Laura look good after running 26.2 miles?

Marine Corps Marathon 2015

OK, that’s enough with the non-football stuff. Let’s get down to business.

Here’s what we thought about week 8 in the NFL…

Miami (7), New England (35) – We’re trying not to get ahead of ourselves here, but it might be easier to just copy and paste the following sentence in every New England game summary the rest of the year: Tom Brady is a beast. The AFC Player of the Week continued his revenge tour with 4 TDs against a tough defense. Pats RB Dion Lewis and his shifty spin moves continue to be a lot of fun to watch. The Dolphins lost defensive end Cameron Wake to Achilles injury that will keep him out the rest of the year.

Detroit (10), Kansas City (45) – After a rough start to the season, the Lions fired their offensive coordinator last week. Things didn’t look too much better as the offensive line struggles to block and QB Matt Stafford continues to struggle with his decision-making. WR Calvin Johnson (a.k.a. Megatron) did become the fastest player in NFL history to reach 11,000 receiving yards. The Chiefs defense is better than their 3-5 record would indicate.

Tampa Bay (23), Atlanta (20) (OT) – The Falcons lost this game in OT despite another great game from WR Julio Jones and QB Matt Ryan. The Bucs were able to score 20 points off Falcons turnovers. Bucs rookie QB Jameis Winston continues to show more improvement as the season progresses. The Bucs defense stepped up – in particular rookie Kwon Alexander was recognized by the team for his performance (11 tackles, interception, fumble recovery), which came only two days after his younger brother was killed.

San Diego (26), Baltimore (29) – Both QBs, the Ravens’ Joe Flacco and the Chargers’ Philip Rivers deserve credit for anything they’re able to accomplish on the field with all the injuries their teams have suffered. The Chargers will be without their main weapon WR Keenan Allen for the remainder of the season after he lacerated a kidney. The Ravens lost WR Steve Smith for the rest of the year with a torn Achilles. Smith planned to retire after this season, but rumors are starting he doesn’t want to end his career being carted off the field. We’d love to see him come back to finish his HOF career on a high note, in part for the entertainment value. A few plays before his injury he passed Cris Carter for 10th place on the all-time receiving yards list.

Minnesota (23), Chicago (20) – Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater was not very consistent in his play, but led the Vikes to 10 points in the last 5 minutes for the win (it was his 5th career 4th quarter or OT comeback for a win). Besides having the services of RB Adrian Peterson, he’s being helped by the play of rookie WR Stefon Diggs, who is probably getting snapped up in fantasy leagues after having 80+ yards in the last four games. Bears QB Jay Cutler is quietly having a solid season under new offensive coordinator Adam Gase. He’s also been helped by the return of WR Alshon Jeffery. The bad news for the Bears is RB Matt Forte left the game with a knee injury, and could be out for a while.

Arizona (34), Cleveland (20) – This game looked like it was heading for an upset when Cleveland took the lead and the Cardinals fumbled 4 times. Then Arizona and QB Carson Palmer found their groove and put up 27 unanswered points. The Browns are hurt by their lack of a run game. QB Josh McCown took another big hit and will be out this upcoming week.

Tennessee (6), Houston (20) – Football is a tough business. To the surprise of many, Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt was fired on Tuesday, not even making it through two full seasons in Tennessee and leaving with a record of 3-20. Mike Mularkey has been named interim coach. It’s hard enough to adjust to life in the NFL, but rookie QB Marcus Mariota (who sat out Sunday with injury) will now have to adjust to a new coach and system going into his second year. This was the type of dominant defensive performance people have been expecting from the Texans all year – they had a franchise record 7 sacks! J.J. Watt had 2.5 sacks, 8 QB hits, and a forced fumble.

New York Giants (49), New Orleans (52) – There are a few ways to look at this game: Stellar QB play by Drew Brees and Eli Manning or terrible defensive performances that allowed a total of 101 points. Brees’ 505 yard, 7 TD performance tied an NFL record for most TDs in a game. Manning passed Joe Montana to move into 10th place all-time in passing TDs. Neither team is out of the play-off race yet.

Cincinnati (16), Pittsburgh (10) – The Bengals are 7-0 for the first time in franchise history, despite having trouble handling the Steelers’ young defense. They sacked Bengals QB Andy Dalton 3 times and forced 2 interceptions. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger returned after missing several games and got off to a great start. However, the Steelers lost star RB Le’Veon Bell for the rest of the year with an MCL injury, which will have a huge impact on their offense going forward.

San Francisco (6), St. Louis (27) – The Todd Gurley show continued this week. The Rams rookie RB had his fourth straight game with at least 120 yards. The other big story to come out of this game was the concrete slab that caused an injury to 49ers RB Reggie Bush. 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick did not have a good day. In fact, it was a “we’re benching you for Blaine Gabbert in week 9” kind of a day. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with Gabbert, he has a 5-22 record in the NFL.) Niners coach Jim Tomsula said two weeks ago that there was no quarterback controversy, but watch the video below and you might understand why some people think Kaepernick is regressing.

New York Jets (20), Oakland (34) – The Raiders have been the butt of jokes for years, but there is optimism QB Derek Carr and rookie WR Amari Cooper are turning things around under the leadership of new head coach Jack Del Rio. Shout out to 39-year-old CB Charles Woodson, who currently leads the NFL in interceptions. The Jets encountered some QB issues – Ryan Fitzpatrick tore ligaments in his thumb. He’ll need surgery, and it will be able to wait until after the season. Geno Smith (he who missed the first few weeks of the season after being punched in the jaw by a teammate) came into the game before he was injured and Fitzpatrick had to come back in to replace him for a few plays. As of Wednesday, both players were able to participate in practice and the plan is for Fitzgerald to start this upcoming week. The situation bears watching as the only other QB on their roster is Bryce Petty, who the Jets were hoping could use this year to red shirt.

Seattle (13), Dallas (12) – Even though QB Matt Cassel had WR Dez Bryant back from injury, the Cowboys offense couldn’t capitalize on the strong performance by their defense as well as several miscues by the Seahawks. They managed only four net yards in the 4th quarter and remain winless since QB Tony Romo broke his clavicle. A positive sign for the Seahawks was that their troubled offensive line did not allow a sack of QB Russell Wilson. A scary moment during the game was when WR Ricardo Lockette was knocked out cold and had to be taken out on a stretcher. Don’t know about other people, but it certainly brought up some uncomfortable feelings for us. It was definitely a reminder of how violent the sport is and made us wish we liked baseball more.

On a lighter note, Dez Bryant has a pet monkey now. His name is Dallas…because what else would you name your monkey when you play for the Cowboys?

Green Bay (10), Denver (29) – What a game for Denver’s defense, their run game and QB Peyton Manning as they handed the Packers their first loss of the season. It looked like the offense put their bye week to good use in continuing to adapt to head coach Gary Kubiak’s offense. Manning tied Brett Favre for most wins by a QB in NFL history (186). The Packers couldn’t get much going – their WRs were held to 37 yards, and QB Aaron Rodgers passed for only 77 yards and was sacked 3 times – which speaks to the talent of Denver’s defense.  Green Bay doesn’t have a strong run game, and they are feeling the impact of being without WR Jordy Nelson this year. Denver defensive coordinator Wade Phillips threw some shade at Green Bay over Twitter and probably got away with it more than most coaches could.

Indianapolis (26), Carolina (29) – The drama continues for Indy after they had a bizarre rainy game full of turnovers (on both sides) against the perfect Panthers. Injured QB Andrew Luck is facing some serious adversity for the first time in his career and his performance probably didn’t help Pep Hamilton, the Colts offensive coordinator who was fired after the game. Despite a 3-5 record, the Colts remain in first place in the AFC South. Carolina is one of four teams that remains undefeated – the Patriots, Broncos, and Bengals are also in that club.

Buffalo had a bye week, but they have made headlines by contributing to the great “Is a hot dog a sandwich?” debate.

Aaaaaand here are this week’s standings in our Weekly Pick ‘Em league.

Weekly Pick 'Em 2015 - Week 8

Before we end this post, we’d like to give a well-deserved shout-out to Momma O, who recently won our family’s survivor league. The woman says she has no clue what she’s doing, but her results say otherwise.

– Val and Michelle

State of the Female NFL Fan: 2015

State of the NFL Female Fan 2015

Where are all my ladies?

It’s the question NFL teams should be asking themselves, with women making up about 45% of the sport’s fan base. We’ve featured what some individual teams have done here on The Snap through our Women and the NFL series, but today we’re taking a “big picture” look at women’s initiatives across the league as of November 2015.

Through our research, we identified areas where teams are doing well and where teams are making progress for female fans.

For those of you who are wondering, our research was primarily composed of extensive Googling. The most reliable information came directly from the team’s sites, but we pulled in information from other sites if relevant.

Let’s start with some good news…

State of Female Fan - Mom's Safety Clinics

Most teams run their Mom’s Safety Clinics in cooperation with USA Football, the sport’s national governing body, which leads game development for youth, high school, and other amateur players. We were honestly surprised this number was not at 100% and we are predicting that this type of event will be around for the foreseeable future.

State of Female Fan - Official Fan Clubs

Fees for the fee-based fan clubs range from $40-$100 and usually involve team swag and access to exclusive events. It’s important to note free fan clubs usually charge a fee with some of their events. Also, we want to point out that teams without fan clubs for women still hold events for women. Speaking of events…

State of Female Fan - Events

We love the fact that about half of the league hosts Football 101/201 or annual Ladies Nights. Football 101/201 events generally cater toward women and include the opportunity to run drills on the field and participate in game Q&A with team personnel. Ladies Nights can offer player interaction, shopping opportunities, panels, facility tours, and refreshments.

We would like to see the numbers for the other events (training camp, community service, health and wellness, and tailgating) increase. We understand that not all of these events will appeal to women in different markets, but they are a great opportunity for teams to show their creativity with their female fan bases.

State of the Female NFL Fan - Events by Division

We thought it would be fun to break up event statistics by division to see if there were any trends. We did not include Mom’s Safety Clinics in this event count – only the team events in the “Hey…Can We Get An Invite?” image. Kudos to the AFC South and the NFC West.

State of Female NFL Fan - Women's Association

It didn’t seem right to forget about some of the biggest female fans – team employees and the female family members of team employees. There is not a ton of information available for these groups, so we’re assuming they do a lot more behind the scenes.

State of Female Fan - Lifestyle Sites

The Buccaneers also have a section on their site devoted to Red, their women’s fan club, which includes info about their upcoming events, as well as some great behind the scenes posts and media from Casey Phillips, the team reporter. The Patriots have a Lifestyle section on their site. While some of their content is fun, there is definitely room for improvement, especially in comparison with what you see from the Colts and Cowboys.

We like to give credit where it’s due, so we’ve decided to sort the teams into four tiers based on the extent of their activities for women.

State of Female Fans - Tier One

State of Female NFL Fan - Tier Three

State of Female NFL Fan - Tier 3

State of the Female NFL Fan - Tier 4

The plan is for us to complete this assessment on an annual basis.

If you would like to see some of our underlying data, shoot us a note through our Contact page and we can send you our handy-dandy Excel spreadsheet.

– Michelle & Val