Our Thoughts -2015 NFL Week 3 Recap

Our Thoughts - NFL Recaps Week 3 2015 The Snap Football Blog

If you’re new to the blog, welcome. If you’re not new, welcome back.

Today, we’re bringing you game summaries from week 3, along with an update on our Weekly Pick ‘Em league, AND an awesome selfie we took at the Taylor Swift concert this summer. (If you haven’t seen TayTay in concert, you should immediately put that on your list of life goals. There are no words for the Taylor Swift experience. #TayTayIsBae #SquadGoals #LifeGoals)

If you’re short on time, we’ve bolded the most important takeaway from each game.

Here’s what we thought about week 3 in the NFL…

Washington (21), New York Giants (32) – The Giants won this game as a team – no big mistakes on offense, three turnovers forced by the defense, and a safety by special teams. Washington looked uninspired, and their defense did not perform as well as it had the first two weeks. The game was as not as close as it may seem – there were four touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and three were within 32 seconds in garbage time. Both teams are lucky they play in the NFC East division, which has gotten off to a slow start overall.

Cincinnati (28), Baltimore (24) – This is the first time in franchise history the Ravens have started 0-3. Ruh-roh. QB Joe Flacco needs some more weapons on offense – he is relying on 36 year-old WR Steve Smith (2 touchdowns in this game), who has already announced he is retiring after this season. The Ravens came back from a 14-point deficit, but let the Bengals make big plays and did not help themselves by getting called for 13 penalties. Their defense misses Terrell Suggs. Bengals WR AJ Green put on a clinic with a career-high 227 yards and two scores off 10 catches.

New Orleans (22), Carolina (27) – Can’t help but feel bad for the Saints. Backup QB Luke McCown had a great game in place of Drew Brees and put his team in a position to win the game. It’s not his fault the Saints defense can’t stop their opponents. Saints coach Sean Payton and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan were seen arguing on the sideline – week 3 feels early to predict a firing, but if we had to guess, Rob Ryan will probably not be the Saints defensive coordinator next year. Panthers QB Cam Newton took advantage of the Saints’ weakness. TE Greg Olsen had a great game as New Orleans could not cover him. Although they won, the Panthers must be looking forward to getting LB Luke Kuechly back from his concussion as his absence was noticed when the Saints were throwing short passes in the middle of the field, where he usually covers. We’re conflicted about Cam’s post-game press conference outfit. There’s just a lot going on.

OK, we forgive you Cam.

Oakland (27), Cleveland (20) – The Raiders won a game in the Eastern time zone for the first time since 2009! QB Derek Carr is off to a solid start this year. He is getting help from rookie WR Amari Cooper and RB Latavius Murray. Oakland’s pass rush could be a strength with Justin Tuck, Khalil Mack, and Aldon Smith. It can’t be easy for Browns offensive players to be switching between QBs Johnny Manziel and Josh McCown to start the year. McCown got the start today after being cleared from concussion protocol, and threw an interception to end the game and seal Oakland’s victory.

Atlanta (39), Dallas (28) – After being down by 14 points, the Falcons remain undefeated after scoring the final 25 points of the game. WR Julio Jones is a beast – he has 34 catches so far this year, which is the most through three games by a player in NFL history. Dallas backup QB Brandon Weeden played better than expected in Tony Romo’s absence, but Dallas is still without play making WR Dez Bryant. The Cowboys’ strength is their offensive line, which helped them get their run game going. In the end, it wasn’t enough once Atlanta started pointing up points both through the air (Julio!) and on the ground (3 rushing touchdowns by RB Devonta Freeman).

Tampa Bay (9), Houston (19) – A game between two teams that are struggling – both teams missed an extra point attempt after touchdowns, and TB’s kicker missed three field goals. TB QB Jameis Winston plays like the rookie he is – some really good throws, and some questionable ones. He is lucky to have WRs Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. Houston’s offense needs a spark – QB Ryan Mallet had a lot of sloppy plays in this game. Houston really needs RB Arian Foster back (he has returned to practice following groin surgery, but has not been cleared for games). Overall an “eh” game, which is why J.J. Watt only made 3 tackles and 2 assists. (That’s 3 more tackles than we’ve made this week, so who are we to criticize?)

San Diego (14), Minnesota (31) – The Vikings defense was in charge of this game, forcing Chargers QB Philip Rivers to throw two interceptions. SD’s offensive line couldn’t contain the Vikings and the therefore wasn’t able to establish their run game. On the other hand, the Vikings got their star RB Adrian Peterson the ball to the tune of two touchdowns. Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater plays better when Peterson is on a roll.

Jacksonville (17), New England (51) – Tom Brady was on fi-yah yet again and joined the 400 touchdown club. Pats kicker Stephen Gostkowski broke an NFL record – he hit his 425th extra point. Pats punter Ryan Allen did nothing because the team did not have to punt – they scored on every offensive drive. (Can we order our Redemption Tour t-shirts yet?) Oh, and the Jaguars were there too, but not much to say about them.

Philadelphia (24), New York Jets (17) – While the Jets defense forced 10 turnovers in the first two weeks of the season, this week their offense committed 4 turnovers. The Eagles led most of the game up 24-0, and when Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick had to start throwing the ball to play catch-up, things didn’t go so well. The Jets were hurt by the absence of WR Eric Decker. The Eagles were without the services of RB DeMarco Murray, last year’s rushing champion who has a whopping total of 21 yards through the first two weeks of the season. It’s not known how long he’ll be out with his hamstring injury. The Eagles’ victory subsided some of the panic in Philly in combination with the close records of the other NFC East teams, and the team looked much better than it did in its first two games.

Pittsburgh (12), St. Louis (6) – The start of this game was delayed almost 30 minutes because the turf caught on fire from a pyrotechnics mishap as the Rams players were running through fireworks for their introductions. Then Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger left the game – he sprained his MCL and has a bone bruise and will miss 4-6 weeks. Bad news bears for the Steelers. Backup QB Michael Vick came into the game, and was lucky to have a great game from his defense and the fact the Rams were not able to capitalize on his mistakes. It also helped that RB Le’Veon Bell was back from his suspension. The Rams offense couldn’t get anything going. Their defense kept things close, but they couldn’t put points on the board.

Indianapolis (35), Tennessee (33) – The Colts were very close to starting their season 0-3 before they managed to score three touchdowns in a four-minute span of the fourth quarter to overcome a 27-14 deficit. Their offensive line is still a weak spot. Titans rookie QB Marcus Mariota led a two-minute drill to score another touchdown, but with a chance to tie the game with less than a minute remaining, the Titans were unable to execute a two point conversion. In other news, QB Andrew Luck’s post-game attire was criticized by ex-Colts coach Tony Dungy. (We agree with this assessment. He should take a note from Cam Newton or Tyrod Taylor.)

San Francisco (7), Arizona (47) – The 49ers suffered a beat down for the second week in a row. Of QB Colin Kaepernick’s first 10 passes in the game, 4 were intercepted and 2 were returned by the Cardinals for touchdowns in the first six minutes of the game. Ouch. His offensive line did not protect him. On the other hand, the Cardinals played well in all phases of the game. QB Carson Palmer has had a strong start to the season and it helps that he has support from a run game led by Chris Johnson, lots of capable WRs, and a talented defense.

Buffalo (41), Miami (14) – This Buffalo team more closely resembled the one that embarrassed the Colts two weeks ago than the one the Patriots took care of last week. Their defensive line dominated the Dolphins, who can’t seem to find a rushing attack and lack big plays from QB Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins defense has been a disappointment after signing DT Ndamukong Suh. Bills QB Tyrod Taylor has been a pleasant surprise, but there are two injuries to keep an eye on for the Bills in RB LeSean McCoy (who spent a lot of the game riding a stationary bike on the sideline) and WR Sammy Watkins (who left the game with a hamstring injury and did not return). Also, Tyrod was on-point again in his post-game press conference attire.

Chicago (0), Seattle (26) – Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor returned from his contract holdout to help the Legion of Boom shut out Da Bears. Chicago was starting their backup QB Jimmy Clausen and was without their leading WR Alshon Jeffery. There were no turnovers in this game, but the Bears punted on all ten of their drives. The Bears defense did their best to keep the team in the game – the score was only 6-0 at halftime. The team already seems to be looking ahead to rebuilding for next year as they kicked Monday off by trading several players for draft picks. Seattle fans should be happy the offensive game plan finally got TE Jimmy Graham involved to the tune of 83 yards and a touchdown, but worried that RB Marshawn Lynch didn’t play the second half of a game after sustaining a hamstring injury.

Denver (24), Detroit (12) – The Broncos are having trouble establishing a run game, and lost more RBs to injury during the game. They won’t make it through the season without some reinforcements or better play from their o-line. Their defense is solid – they had three more takeaways. Talk of Peyton Manning’s demise seems premature; sure, his arm strength isn’t what it used to be, but the Broncos are sitting 3-0, so things are not bad in Denver. The Lions had a rough night going against Denver’s defense; their receivers were kept in check and the Broncos stopped their run as well.

Kansas City (28), Green Bay (38) – How about that Aaron Rodgers? Green Bay’s QB threw 5 TDs for 333 yards. Green Bay is a scary team and it’s only week three. The Chiefs came alive in the 4th quarter, ending their WR TD drought with a Jeremy Maclin catch in the end-zone. It’s about time they started using him considering how much he’s being paid each year.

We’ve had some minor changes in our top 5 in the our Weekly Pick ‘Em league. If you’re lower in the rankings than you would like, don’t give up yet – there are still 14 more weeks to redeem yourself. Here are the standings as of week 3:

Weekly Pick 'Em 2015 - Week 3

– Swifties Val and Michelle

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Our Thoughts -2015 NFL Week 2 Recap

NFL Game Recap Week 2 2015

Let me tell you – it’s a good thing that we don’t pay into our fantasy football leagues because we’d be going into debt after a wacky week 2 in the NFL. Themes of the week are upsets and injuries, both of which are not music to the ears of fantasy football enthusiasts.

Once again, we’ve bolded the big takeaways.

Here’s what we thought about week 2 in the NFL…

Denver (31), Kansas City (24) – What a crazy end to this game. The Broncos scored two touchdowns within a period of nine seconds in the final minute of the game, the second being a defensive touchdown off a Kansas City fumble. Even though it’s only week two, the Broncos defense seems to be for real. QB Peyton Manning looked so happy to win this game after hearing about the end of his career coming following a lackluster week one performance. Coach Gary Kubiak was smart to let Peyton go back to more no huddle that he excels in rather than his typical plays from shotgun. (Duh, Gary.) The Chiefs were doomed by their turnovers, but have to be happy with the performance of rookie CB Marcus Peters. This was a tough division game the Chiefs hoped to win at home.

New England (40), Buffalo (32) – Let me tell you, I don’t envy any team that has to play against a pissed-off Tom Brady this season. The Bills (including head coach Rex Ryan) did a lot of smack talking leading up to the game. Brady threw for 3 TDs and 466 yards, earning his spot in the “750 passing yards and seven touchdowns with no interceptions through the first two games of a season” club. Peyton Manning started this club in 2013. The Pats defense was in “bend, but not break” mode – they gave up a lot of yards and let Bills QB Tyrod get sneaky on them a few times. There were a lot of penalties in this game and a scary moment when Bills safety Aaron Williams was put into an ambulance after a funky hit. (He’s been released from the hospital.) Also, Pats WR Danny Amendola made this wicked awesome catch.

Also despite the loss, Tyrod’s shirt game was on point once again this week.

Carolina (24), Houston (17) – Panthers QB Cam Newton is carrying this team – they lack a #1 wide receiver, and he also led the team in rushing. He is lucky he has a solid defense to support him. The Texans started QB Ryan Mallett after benching Brian Hoyer last week. It took Mallett a while to get his feet under him, but coach Bill O’Brien is great at adjusting a game plan and almost got them to a point where they could have forced overtime. The Texans are also going to be heavily relying on their defense this season. Speaking of their defense, on this week’s edition of What J.J. Watt did, the freak of nature got his 60th career sack. This was his 7th consecutive game with a sack.

Arizona (48), Chicago (23) – Cardinals QB Carson Palmer looks even better than he did last year before he tore his ACL. He let old friend WR Larry Fitzgerald get in on the fun by tossing three touchdowns his way. Bears QB Jay Cutler missed over half the game and will be out at least two weeks with a hamstring injury, possibly more. He was replaced by backup QB Jimmy Clausen, who was quickly overwhelmed by Arizona’s defense and gets to start against a victory-deprived Seahawks team next week. Good luck, buddy.

Cincinnati (24), San Diego (19) – Bengals QB Andy Dalton has had a great start to the year and the team sits at 2-0, despite the fumbling issues of RB Jeremy Hill. Chargers QB Philip Rivers also had a great game and almost brought the team to a come from behind victory. The Chargers had a strong run game with Danny Woodhead and rookie Melvin Gordan.

Cleveland (28), Tennessee (14) – It was a fall back to reality for Titans rookie QB Marcus Mariota after his record-setting performance last week. He faced a better defense with tougher schemes to beat in the Browns. His offensive line also took a vacation day as he was sacked 7 times. Ouch. Browns QB Johnny Manziel had an ok games in terms of stats, but made enough big plays to lead the Browns to victory. Manziel will go back to the bench when starting QB Josh McCown is cleared from his concussion.

Minnesota (26), Detroit (16) –  I wrote last week to not be surprised to hear that Lions QB Matt Stafford was already banged up more than the team wanted to admit. Well, now they’re admitting it – coach Jim Caldwell will not commit to Stafford playing next week. The Lions sit at 0-2 and have a hard stretch ahead of them (Denver, at Seattle, and Arizona), especially with a defense that is not as strong as last year. On the other hand, the Vikings turned back to Adrian Peterson, who looked like his usual self after a slow start to the season last week (although he did fumble twice). QB Teddy Bridgewater showed more poise than last week, and the Vikings defense made it hard for the Lions to get a run game going.

Tampa Bay (26), New Orleans (19) – Buccaneers rookie QB Jameis Winston bounced back from his rough start last week and the defense decided to show up! Saints QB Drew Brees will miss a to-be-determined number of games with what is believed to be a shoulder injury (rotator cuff).  Backup Luke McCown (of the Verizon commercials) will start next week. The Saints were counting on Brees to carry them since their defense is already banged up. They also seemed to have lost their once well-known home field advantage, they have lost six games in a row in New Orleans.

Atlanta (24), New York Giants (20) – The Giants become the first team in NFL history to blow two straight double-digit leads in the fourth quarter to start a season, and are also receiving criticism for some questionable play calls and clock management at the end of the game. While people are already starting to wonder who will replace Tom Coughlin as coach in NY next year, first year coach of the Falcons Dan Quinn is receiving praise for making Atlanta’s defense a tougher unit. It also helps that he has QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones to lead his offense. Julio was on fire on Sunday and makes some crazy catches.

Pittsburgh (43), San Francisco (18) – This was the beat down the score indicates it was. Pittsburgh has a lot of offensive weapons, and the 49ers defense could not stop them. The Steelers managed to put up 43 points without their starting running back, Le’Veon Bell, who returns from suspension next week. While Pittsburgh’s defense still has room for improvement, but they almost looked like a different unit compared to what showed up against the Patriots last week. 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick had a hard time moving the ball.

Washington (24), St. Louis (10) – There is no quarterback controversy any more in Washington; Kirk Cousins is a better fit for his coach’s offense than former first round pick RG3, who is keeping the bench warm. Washington’s offensive and defensive lines are improved since last year, and kept the Rams in check after their dominant performance against the Seahawks last week. Rams QB Nick Foles struggled.

Jacksonville (23), Miami (20) – Miami fans are disappointed in the performance of their defense thus far after paying fee agent Ndamukong Suh lots of money this off-season. They let JAX QB Blake Bortles lead his team on a game winning field goal drive. The Dolphins offense struggled, especially their offensive line after tackle Brandon Albert left with an injury. QB Ryan Tannehill also got a huge contract extension and is not moving the ball as he needs to. Everyone thought this was a great chance for Miami to win a game on the road, but the Jaguars showed improvement on both sides of the ball.

Oakland (37), Baltimore (33) – Last week we mentioned how bad we felt for the Raiders because more often than not, they don’t resemble a great football team. That would be why we did not pick them to win this game. However, while Baltimore’s offense looked much improved over week one, their defense struggled without the presence of Terrell Suggs, who is out for the year with an Achilles injury. Raiders QB Derek Carr took advantage and tore up Baltimore’s secondary, throwing the game winning touchdown with 26 seconds left. This was a break-out game for Carr and also showcased rookie WR Amari Cooper.

Dallas (20), Philadelphia (10) – The storyline for the Cowboys coming out of this game was injuries – QB Tony Romo fractured his left clavicle. He will not need surgery, but has been placed on the IR designated to return list, so he is not eligible to play until week 11. They will also be without the services of WR Dez Bryan longer than they expected after he had foot surgery last week. Back-up QB Brandon Weeden will lead the team going forward, although the team did trade for Bills QB Matt Cassel to build depth at the position. The storyline for the Eagles was what one could call an offensive meltdown. The offensive line couldn’t stop the Cowboys, QB Sam Bradford is still adjusting to playing football after missing most of the last two years due to injury, and the run game was non-existent. Coach Chip Kelly said he was embarrassed by the performance and is going to re-evaluate all areas of the team.

Green Bay (27), Seattle (17) – This was a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship game, where the Packers blew their lead and the Seahawks advanced to the Super Bowl. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was not going to let that happen again. He got the job done despite a rash of injuries that kept taking his receivers and running backs off the field at various points in the game. The Seahawks say they aren’t panicking at 0-2, but their offense isn’t clicking or targeting TE Jimmy Graham enough and their defense is missing Kam Chancellor (who is sitting out in a contract dispute).

New York Jets (20), Indianapolis (7) – Last year the Jets defense forced 13 turnovers, but under new coach Todd Bowles they have 10 in their first two games. It helps that they have CB Darrelle Revis back. The Colts offense is struggling – their o-line isn’t pulling their weight, veteran free agents WR Andre Johnson and RB Frank Gore disappointed again, and QB Andrew Luck hasn’t looked confident in his decision-making. The rough end to last season in the AFC Championship game and 0-2 start to this year has started rumors of dissension between Coach Chuck Pagano and the front office/ownership, which could easily become a distraction. Pagano already had to backtrack from comments he made in his post-game press conference that some said criticized Andrew Luck and personnel decisions made by the general manager.

In other news, our Weekly Pick ‘Em league is off to an exciting start. Here are the top Snappers in the group as of week 2:

Weekly Pick 'Em 2015 - Week 2

– (Football Summary Powerhouse) Val and (Graphics and Formatting) Michelle

Our Thoughts – 2015 NFL Week 1 Recap

Our Thoughts Week 1 2015

Screw pumpkin lattes. The only thing that makes the end of summer remotely bearable is the return of football. NFL marketing must be salivating because week 1 gave us some juicy headlines.

Val tried to limit the number of fun facts, but it was just so hard. We’ve bolded the one key takeaway for each game.

Here’s what we thought about week 1 in the NFL…

New England (28), Pittsburgh (21) – He can deny it all he wants, but there was no better way to kick off the 2015 season than a pissed-off Tom Brady! Tom now owns the NFL record for most wins with one team (161), breaking a tie with Brett Favre. He went 25 of 32 for 288 yards and 4 touchdowns. This was the Tom and Gronk show all the way. TE Rob Gronkowski became the first player in NFL history to deliver multiple games with at least three receiving touchdowns against Pittsburgh, and only four TEs in history have more touchdowns than he does (and he’s only 26 years old!).

The Patriots defense sure looks different than it did a year ago with Darelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Much to the chagrin of Pats fans everywhere, they bent but didn’t break. (Seriously guys, it’s not good for our hearts.) The Steelers defense on the other hand is under the direction of a new coordinator and needs an upgrade in their secondary. They’re going to be relying on QB Ben Roethlisberger to carry them while they get on the same page. They might also get a new kicker after Josh Scobee missed two field goals. “Headset-gate” almost became a thing when it became known that the Steelers’ coaches’ headsets were getting the Patriots radio broadcast in the first half. Turns out the Patriots were having headset issues as well, and the NFL issued a statement absolving the Pats of blame and noting the equipment is provided by the league, and the rainy weather caused issues.

Buffalo (27), Indianapolis (14) – Don’t let the final score fool you into thinking it was a close game. Buffalo’s defense dominated the Colts. Free agent acquisitions RB Frank Gore and WR Andre Johnson did not have an impact – Gore actually missed parts of the game with calf cramps and Johnson tipped a ball to be intercepted. WR T.Y. Hilton could miss 1-2 games with a bruised knee. While most people thought Bills QB Tyrod Taylor was an afterthought in the Buffalo QB competition this summer, he delivered a solid performance. We also loved his snazzy post-game shirt.

Green Bay (31), Chicago (23) – Same old story here – Aaron Rodgers is a really good quarterback. He benefited from the resigning of WR James Jones, who played for the Raiders last year and is familiar with the Packers’ playbook. (Remember, they lost WR Jordy Nelson for the year to an ACL tear in the preseason.) He would probably appreciate a better offensive line, though. RB Matt Forte was the star player for the Bears, who are still working out the kinks as they adjust to a new defensive scheme under head coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

Kansas City (27), Houston (20) – This game was also not as close as the score indicates. QB Alex Smith, RB Jamaal Charles, and TE Travis Kelce were the stars of the show for the Chiefs. Smith led the team on five straight scoring drives in the first half. It didn’t go as well for the Texans, who benched QB Brian Hoyer for Ryan Mallett after he committed too many turnovers. Bill O’Brien won’t announce the starting quarterback for next week before game, and says you have to watch first snap to find out who it is (actually, you probably don’t – the decision will leak before then). It’s not a Houston game summary without “What J.J. Watt Did.” The reigning defensive player of the year had two sacks and six tackles for a loss.

Carolina (20), Jacksonville (9) – Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles looked more at ease with a year experience under his belt, but still didn’t deliver. The Jaguars also missed an extra point attempt – one of several missed in games this week after the rules were changed to make kicks longer 33 yard attempts this off-season. However, their defense had some stellar plays – coach Gus Bradley is trying to build a copycat of the defense he used to coach in Seattle. Carolina has a wide receiver problem – they need more dependable ones after losing Kelvin Benjamin to an ACL tear in training camp. Their strong defense helped them win this game. Another important injury to watch going forward for the Panthers is linebacker Luke Kuechly, who left the game with a concussion.

New York Jets (31), Cleveland (10)Johnny “Football” Manziel came in at QB for Cleveland after veteran starter Josh McCown left with a concussion and he will retain the starting job week 2 due to McCown’s injury. Manziel threw his first NFL touchdown, but then threw an interception and lost two fumbles. Bummer. The Browns totaled 5 turnovers, which the Jets converted into 21 points. It was a nice debut for Jets head coach Todd Bowles, as the Jets managed to put up more than 30 points (they didn’t manage to score 30 points in a game last year until the season finale).

St. Louis (34), Seattle (31) – Everyone is calling this an “upset” and “stunner.” I (Val) disagree – Seattle can’t stay on top forever and St. Louis has a defense with tons of potential. Seattle’s o-line is a weakness, and TE Jimmy Graham and QB Russell Wilson are still getting on the same page. There were actually two punts returned for touchdowns in this game (one by each team). Seattle scored 18 unanswered points in 8 minutes in the fourth quarter to take the lead. Then Rams QB Nick Foles led a tying touchdown drive to force overtime. Seattle kicked what appeared to be an on-side kick to begin OT, but it turns out the kicker just screwed up because the ball was supposed to go a lot farther down the field. The Rams took advantage and their defense helped win the game when they stopped Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch on a 4th down and 1. Rams players later said they knew all along the Seahawks would turn to Lynch to run the ball in that situation because of the backlash Seattle got after passing the ball in the infamous play that ended their hopes of a consecutive Super Bowl victory this past February. Even Marshawn Lynch’s momma was upset by the play calling.

Miami (17), Washington (10) – Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill did not have a good game; the Dolphins won thanks to a special teams touchdown. Free agent signing Ndamukong Suh did’t really show up on the stat sheet for Miami (he did make headlines for “accidentally” kicking off RB Alfred Morris’s helmet, but what’s new?), but Washington altered their schemes to avoid him, so it will help the Dolphins that teams are adjusting around him. Washington QB Kirk Cousins played more consistently then he did last year, so don’t expect any quarterback changes for the team…yet. WR DeSean Jackson is out 3-4 weeks with a pulled hamstring, which takes away the team’s deep threat.

Arizona (31), New Orleans (19) – Cardinals coach Bruce Arians calls aggressive plays to win. His QB Carson Palmer looked great in his return to the field following last year’s season-ending ACL injury. Saints coach Sean Payton is hearing criticism after a questionable call to punt when his team was down by 5 with 2 minutes to go. When Drew Brees is your quarterback and your defense is decimated by injuries, most people assume you’re going to go for it on fourth down.

San Diego (33), Detroit (28) – The Chargers bounced back from a 21-3 deficit thanks to beastly play by QB Philip Rivers and WR Keenan Allen. Lions QB Matt Stafford’s play declined in the second half after he took a hit and had to wear a sleeve over his arm. He says he’ll play next week, but rumor is this could be worse than it looks, so keep an eye on it if he’s your fantasy quarterback. A positive for the Lions was rookie RB Ameer Abdullah’s performance.

Denver (19), Baltimore (13) – The defenses controlled this game – there were no offensive touchdowns scored. Broncos QB Peyton Manning needed the Denver defense to bail him out as he adjusts to new head coach Gary Kubiak’s offense. You’ll be hearing lots of talk about how Father Time is catching up with Manning and his arm strength is deteriorating. It’s only week one, so too soon to overreact. Calm yo’ self. Neither team could get their run game going. Terrell Suggs is out for the year with a torn Achilles, which is a big hit for Baltimore.

Cincinnati (33), Oakland (13) – We just feel bad for the Raiders. Their debut under new head coach Jack Del Rio was underwhelming. To add insult to injury, QB Derek Carr bruised thumb in the first half and was replaced by Matt McGloin. Carr could play Sunday, but the team was hoping he’d have a chance to show improvement from year one to year two. Bengals TE Tyler Eifert had a breakout performance after dealing with injuries most of his first two years in the league.

Tennessee (42), Tampa Bay (14) – This game featured the first and second draft picks from this year’s draft, Marcus Mariota for the Titans and Jameis Winston for the Bucaneers. Mariota set a rookie NFL record with four touchdown passes in the first half of his debut. He finished with a perfect passer rating and was pulled in the fourth quarter because the Titans were so far ahead. Winston’s very first pass, on the other hand, was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. (The last quarterback this actually happened to was Brett Favre!) He was not helped by a shoddy offensive line, and certainly didn’t get any help from Tampa’s defense either.

Dallas (27), New York Giants (26) – This game was RIDICULOUS. The Cowboys basically spent the first 58 minutes saying, “Here Giants, you take this one.” The Giants seemed willing to oblige and then it went up in flames for them – no other way to describe it. Coach Tom Coughlin and QB Eli Manning are both taking the blame for bad calls that left Dallas with too much time on the clock and resulted in massive amounts of Manningface. Tony Romo then played lights out and threw the winning touchdown – after he picked up the fumbled snap. Cowboys WR Dez Bryant suffered a broken bone in his foot. He had surgery and will be out 4-6 weeks, which will definitely have an impact on Dallas’s passing game.

Atlanta (26), Philadelphia (24) – What a hard game for Eagles fans to watch after all the off-season hoopla surrounding Chip Kelly’s roster moves. The Falcons came to play under new head coach Dan Quinn and jumped out to a 20-3 lead. Their new offensive coordinator Kyle Shannahan has to love the toy he has in WR Julio Jones. The Eagles did storm back to take the lead and after the Falcons pulled ahead again, the Eagles kicker missed a potentially game winning field goal. QB Sam Bradford hasn’t played much the last two years due to injury, so he’s still got to get into game form. The Eagles run game was disappointing after signing last year’s rushing champ DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews.

Minnesota (3), San Fransisco (20) – Also a rough start to the season for the Vikings. The 49ers defense owned Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater all night. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson underwhelmed after missing almost all of last year due to suspension. Expectations were not high for the 49ers after a change in coaching regimes and many retirements on the defensive side of the ball over the off-season, but they impressed, especially NaVarro Bowman, who missed all of last year due to injury. RB Carlos Hyde also showed why the 49ers were ok with letting RB Frank Gore walk in free agency – he had 182 yards and two touchdowns. Also, the 49ers had red and black jerseys that didn’t match their helmets and we felt like they violated our eyeballs.

If you still can’t get enough, you should read the recap of Minnesota – San Fransisco game from the point of view of an Australian. He live-blogged the game since Jarryd Haynes, a famous rugby player, was making his debut for the 49ers. Full of gems like “Here’s the Hayne Plane! His first touch in the NFL. And… he drops it? Oh my goodness me, he drops it!” and “The kicker’s like a little Hobbit! A tiny little man! He’s a jockey! Ha. Top stuff, Walshy.”

You can still join our Weekly Pick ‘Em League on NFL.com. Even though you’ll be a week behind the rest of us, you can still catch up by making great picks throughout the season. It’s easy. It’s fun. It might get you some free prizes. So, what are you waiting for?

– (Mostly) Val and (kinda sorta with some help from) Michelle

Snap Road Trip: Patriots In-Stadium Practice 2015

Patriots In-Stadium 2015

A few years ago, Val and I made a good friend at training camp. After connecting over a mutual love of taking football photographs, he offered us tickets to the annual in-stadium practice the Patriots hold for season ticket holders and Foxborough residents. Every year since then, he has kept us in mind if he finds himself with extra tickets.

Well, this year he had extra tickets and naturally, we told him we would take them off his hands.

Before I delve into all the juicy details, you’re probably wondering why Val looks so different in the picture above. Well, I fired her.

JUST KIDDING.

(We all know that would never happen. She’s done so much for me, she’s got dibs on my first 14 kids.)

Sadly, she just couldn’t get her butt up to Massachusetts in time. Lame.

Luckily, my amazing friend and Snap super-fan Laura went out of her way to make sure I didn’t have to sit alone at practice. (When a friend makes a rush-hour trek from north of the city to Foxborough, you realize she probably has dibs on your 15th child, but I digress.)

This year, the in-stadium practice was held on Wednesday, August 5. The Patriots Hall of Fame induction ceremony for Willie McGinest was held immediately before the practice right outside the stadium.

Pats In-Stadium Practice - Willie McGinist

For those of us in the stadium, the ceremony was broadcast on the large screens. My favorite moment was when Mr. Kraft presented Willie, who played for the Pats from 1994 to 2005, with a ceremonial one-day contract so he could retire as part of the team.

Practice started at the conclusion of the ceremony. Per usual, the night kicked off with some brief special teams work and then team stretching.

Pats In-Stadium Practice 2015 - stretching

Love the “buddy stretching” between 27 and 53.

Besides seeing the players up close, one of my favorite parts of the in-stadium practice is getting the opportunity to sit in seats that most of us can’t usually afford for a regular season game. Case in point – Laura and I sat in the first row near the fifty yard line on the visitor’s side of the stadium, which allowed for some excellent photographs. (Usually this is Val’s domain. I did the best I could without her, but she always seems to capture some pretty great moments.)

Pats In-Stadium Practice 2015 - observe snap

Early on in the night, we also got a close glimpse of Coach Belichick and coaching staff assistant Mike Lomardi. Bill – this could have been a great picture if you hadn’t blinked. We’ll try again next year.

Pats In-Stadium Practice 2015 - Belichick and Lombardi

A strong contender for most photogenic player of the night was RB LeGarrette Blount. Dude is always cheesin’.

Pats In-Stadium Practice 2015 - cheesin Blount

One of the other perks of attending the in-stadium practice is that an announcer intermittently explains what’s happening on the field. The running commentary on the drills and the purpose behind them can be really helpful.

Pats In-Stadium Practice 2015 - DB drills

The definite highlight of my night was when the quarterbacks moved closer to our section of the stands. One very loud fan (he was a grown man, shocking, I know) started yelling Tom’s name to get his attention. Brady kept a straight face until the fan offered to buy him a frozen lemonade and for some reason, that comment cracked through Brady’s facade. With a big grin on his face, Brady started laughing and shaking his head. (I didn’t quite capture the moment on camera because it was so unexpected and I was laughing as well.) It was nice to see a human moment like that from one of the most high-profile athletes in the country, especially considering the stress of the Deflategate debacle.

Pats In-Stadium Practice 2015 - Brady

I can’t complain about much, but if I had to make one recommendation to the event organizers, it would be to move the VIP on-field seating, or escort some players behind the VIP seating to the fans in the stands when it comes time for autographs.

I recommend the in-stadium practice to friends looking to get autographs because, unlike regular training camp practices, almost all the players are allowed to sign at the conclusion of practice. Your chances of getting an autograph are pretty good, even if it’s from a guy who may not make the final cut. Unfortunately, our section and many of the sections of the visitor’s side were directly behind VIP on-field seating. The people in those seats rushed all of the players in that area, keeping many of them from reaching the plebeians in general seating. Sorry if it sounds like I drank some Hater-ade this morning (I’m sure some of those VIPs were very deserving), but I can’t tell you how disappointed some of the kids next to me were.

Although Gronk and LeGarrette looked like promising autograph signers for my section, they didn’t quite make it over. We did get FB Eric Kettani (who was sadly released today in order for the Reggie Wayne signing to happen) and TE Scott Chandler.

Pats In-Stadium Practice 2015 - Scott Chandler, Gronk

Also, the autograph portion of the night showed what a better person Laura is than me. She moved up to the second row so that some little kids could have her first row spot. I stuck it out in the first row, not necessarily wanting an autograph, but definitely not ready to give up prime real estate for short people who don’t even have all of their adult teeth. (Was it wrong of me to judge them when they didn’t even recognize Scott Chandler? He was only one of the MOST EXCITING SIGNINGS OF THE OFF-SEASON. Kids these days…)

I also may or may not have been the ringleader of some aggressive player name chanting.

All in all, I would call the night a success – great company, beautiful weather, and all the football drills a girl could ask for. Can’t wait for next year!

– Michelle

Snap Road Trip: Patriots Training Camp 2015

Val and Michelle - 2015 Training Camp

There’s a quote I keep seeing on Pinterest about soul mates. Apparently, someone’s got a theory that when you meet your soul mate, instead of a pounding heart, shaking hands, and weak knees, you feel complete calm. No anxiety, no agitation, just calm.

If that’s true, then Patriots training camp is our soul mate. This was our seventh year making an appearance at camp and as soon as we entered through the gates, we both felt a sense of amazing calm come over us. When we’re back on the practice fields in Foxborough, it’s as though all is right in the world.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Group Walking

If you’re unfamiliar with training camp and how it works, it is a series of practices held by each team prior to the regular season. The majority of training camp practices are open to the public and are generally free to attend. It’s the best way to be up close to the football action if you can’t afford tickets to a game.

If you need more reasons to go to your nearest training camp, check out our post on the Top 10 Reasons to Go to Training Camp.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Brady, McDaniels

We’re planning on attending a few more days of camp this year, but Val got some excellent shots on day one and we couldn’t wait to share them with you!

Pats Training Camp 2015 - WRs

We’ve taken 543 pictures so far this year at training camp. Bless the person who invented large memory cards. Of course, we’re only posting the best shots here on The Snap, just for you. You’re welcome.

You can only imagine what a hardship it was for us to sort through these pictures of our favorite team…

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Nate Solder

The crowd this year was unlike any other that we’ve been a part of the last few years. Considering current events (starts with “deflate” and ends with “gate”), it was awesome to see such a vocal crowd. Support for Tom Brady was unquestionable – he got loud cheers coming onto the field and throughout the two and a half hour session.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - action shots

Coach Bill Belichick is always really easy to spot on the field. He’s usually rocking a visor, some shorts, and the navy top you see below, or a hoodie with the sleeves cut off. Considering how warm it was (in the 80s, but it felt like hotter when we were sitting in the direct sun on the bleachers), we understand why the hoodie was a no-go.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Brady, Belichick

Last year’s camp was all about the battle of the long snapper. This year, the core special teams members weren’t facing much competition, as Belichick used a fifth round draft pick for LS Joe Cardona, and P Ryan Allen and K Stephen Gostkowski just signed three and four year deals, respectively, with the team.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Kickoff

How about this great photo of tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, a.k.a. Hoo-Man? The tall guy next to him, number 88, is Scott Chandler, who was a free agent this year. He used to be a pain for the Patriots to cover each year when he played in Buffalo. As Pats fans, we’re pretty psyched to see him line up with Gronk. We did notice QB Jimmy Garoppolo taking some time to work separately with the two towering tight ends and it gave us all sorts of warm fuzzy football feelings.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Hoo-Man

We found it pretty entertaining when the entire offense had to run a penalty lap. We didn’t realize it at the time, but according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, the defense apparently returned the ball during an 11-0n-11 drill and Belichick was not happy.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Offense Lap

The pictures you get really depend on your proximity to certain position groups. The Patriots have two practice fields, so the players and coaches are spread over a relatively wide area and there numerous drills going on at any given time.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - QB handoff

We love the fact that the Patriots hand you a roster as you enter camp. With 90 players on the team at the start of training camp, it’s helpful to have a cheat sheet, especially considering the number of rookies.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - 11 on 11 drill

The only bad thing about the roster is that it also contains all of the players’ ages, and considering that we are now both older than many of these guys, it doesn’t do much for our egos. Yes, we may still get carded, but when we start to admire the players’ athletic assets (not going to lie, it happens), you wonder if you’ve entered cougar territory.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Hightower

One of our favorite parts of camp every year is when the team runs two-minute drills. This gives the offense a chance to practice making their way down the field with plays that they would use once the two-minute warning has been given in a game. Overall, we did notice the quicker pace with which the team was doing just about everything. The Patriots are known for their fast-paced offense, but it’s interesting to see how that is incorporated so early on in the season.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Garappolo at line

At the end of practice, after the big team huddle, the team breaks out into position groups to debrief and stretch.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - QB Stretch

Each day at training camp, a different group of players signs autographs. On the day we went, the quarterbacks (Brady, Garoppolo, and Flynn) and some of the running backs made the rounds. The players were given about 15 minutes and a Sharpie marker to make the dreams of kids and grown man-children come true.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Autographs

We don’t usually go for autographs on these days. Unless you have a baby that you can offer up Simba/Rafiki style to get signed, it’s difficult to get a signature without people getting unnecessarily aggressive. We just stand back and take pictures, like the ones of Brady and Flynn below.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Brady and Flynn

The shot below of Jimmy Garoppolo gives you some perspective on the amount of people waiting for autographs. There’s a lot of them.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Autographs Jimmy

At the end of practice, the families of players and coaches join them on the field. Training camp involves long days for the players and the coaching staff, so it’s nice to see them get a few minutes with their families.  We love these shots we got of Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels and his family.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Josh McDaniels and family

This year was also great because we were sitting next to some really friendly people. It’s nice to be surrounded by people who share your affinity for football and don’t mind swapping stories.

Pats Training Camp 2015 - Thank You Exit Sign

Did you go to training camp this year? What was your favorite part? Tell us in the comments below.

– Michelle and Val

Our Thoughts – 2014 NFL Playoffs – Super Bowl Recap

Super Bowl 2015 Recap

We interrupt the first non-football Sunday of 2015 to bring you our long overdue Super Bowl recap. Can you believe it’s been a week since the Super Bowl? We can’t. In fact, we’ve been on a week-long celebration bender.

Juuuuust kidding.

Seriously, though, we were pretty thrilled about the Patriots win. Even if you didn’t like either of the teams in the championship game, we’re not sure you could have asked for a more exciting end to a game. Let’s all take a trip down memory lane.

Here’s what we thought about the Super Bowl…

New England (28), Seattle (24) – What. A. Game. After the disastrous year the NFL had, they lucked out by having an exciting game to end the season. (Unlike last year’s Super Bowl where the Seahawks walloped the Broncos by a final score of 43 to 8 in a game that was a laughter by halftime.) This game was the most watched television show in U.S. history. Even if you aren’t a fan of either team, real football fans have to appreciate this one.

Where to start? The Patriots looked like the better team in the first half, even though the score was tied 14-14 at halftime. Tom Brady had 27 pass attempts while Russell Wilson didn’t have his first completion until there were 6 minutes left in the half. Tom did have one nasty interception in the end zone by Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane. However, Lane broke his arm on the play and missed the rest of the game. He was replaced by Tharold Simon, and Brady started picking on him right away. The Seahawks managed to score two touchdowns in two and a half minutes. Seahawks wide receiver Chris Matthews, a former Canadian Football League standout that didn’t have an NFL catch to his name until Sunday night, made some huge plays.

Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett would have been an MVP candidate had the Seahawks won – he had four quarterback hits and forced both of Brady’s interceptions.

Seattle scored the next 10 points coming out of halftime. Then Tom Brady went to work in the fourth quarter and led a comeback against a defense that was the best in the NFL this year in points, total yards and passing yards allowed. Brady completed 13 of 15 passes for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was helped by the fact that Seahawks pass rusher Cliff Avril left the game with a concussion this quarter and was ruled out of the game. After Brady’s final throw of the night, a 3 yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman with 2:06 remaining in the game, his passer rating for the quarter was 140.7. The score was 28-24 with New England in the lead.

The Seahawks got the ball back and it was looking good for the Patriots until wide receiver Jermaine Kearse made an absolutely ridiculous catch to set Seattle up at the goal line.

You could feel the energy drain from the New England side line – their last two Super Bowls had been lost on freak catches like this. (It was the worst kind of deja vu possible if you were a Pats fan.) A Marshawn Lynch run put the Seahawks on the half-yard line with 26 seconds left. All they had to do was punch the ball in the end zone and more than likely the Pats wouldn’t have had enough time to run another scoring drive. What everyone was expecting was for the ball to be handed to Marshawn Lynch, arguably one of the best running backs in the NFL, to stick the fork in the Patriots. What actually happened was the play call that many have since called the worst in Super Bowl history. The Seahawks’ offensive coordinator decided to throw the ball on a pick play (these are illegal by the way), hoping to burn some more time off the clock. However, what he had not prepared for was Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler. Butler jumped the route and intercepted the throw on the goal line with 20 seconds left, securing the victory for New England.

Russell Wilson’s pass was the 109th time a QB threw from the 1-yd line this season – but it was the first time it was intercepted. Wilson played efficiently the whole game, averaging 11.8 yards per attempt, but that will be overshadowed by the pick he threw at the end of the game.

Talk about a feel good story – Malcolm Butler is an undrafted rookie cornerback whose last interception in a game was in November 2013 when he was playing for Division II West Alabama. The attendance at the game was 2,843. Butler said after the game he recognized the Seahawks’ play from his film study. In fact, the Patriots scout team ran the same play against the defense in practice this week, and Butler was beat for the touchdown. Coach Belichick told him he had ‘to be on it.’ He wasn’t going to let that happen again, and now the kid will never pay for a drink when he’s out and about in the New England area. Quite the turn of events for a player who was kicked out of school and working at Popeyes at one point. The Patriots were the only team to offer him a spot on their roster for training camp. As the game’s MVP, Tom Brady won a 2015 Chevy Colorado, but plans to give the truck to Butler for making the play to seal the win.

On the next to last play of the game, following Butler’s interception, frustration boiled over from the Seahawks side and a tussle erupted. Bruce Irvin from the Seahawks was ejected for hitting Rob Gronkowski in the face. He later apologized. Fines were issued for players on both teams.

The rest is history – the confetti cannons exploded with red, white, and blue, Darrelle Revis cried, Julian Edelman and Malcolm Butler announced they were going Disney World, and the Seahawks World Champion t-shirts got shipped off to a third-world country.

(For those of you still questioning the integrity of the Patriots’ footballs, the procedures for the Super Bowl have always differed. While the teams are still allowed to condition the footballs during the week, there is an independent equipment manager and ball attendants.)

Now for some fun facts because we love them so much. There’s a lot of them because we couldn’t choose. Sorry, we’re not sorry.

Fun Facts and Records Set in Super Bowl XLIX:

  • This was the 10th Super Bowl since 2000 where the game was decided by 7 points or less.
  • There have been 13 Super Bowls decided by 4 points or less. The Patriots have played in 6 of these games. (It’s a wonder more Pats fans don’t have heart issues.)
  • Seattle had not lost a game it led in the fourth quarter by 10 points or more since 2004, where they lost to the Rams in overtime. Since then, they have had 49 fourth-quarter double-digit leads. (Sunday night was the 50th game.)
  • Russell Wilson has held a lead at some point in all 56 of his career games.
  • Until Sunday night, the 29 teams that have held a 10-point second half lead in the Super did not lose. This was only the third Super Bowl where the score was tied at halftime.
  • The Patriots became the 4th team to lose the turnover battle and win the Super Bowl.
  • The Patriots became the youngest team to win the Super Bowl with an average age of 25.2 years.
  • Patriots running back Shane Vereen had 11 receptions, the most ever for a running back in the Super Bowl.
  • The Patriots became first team to win a Super Bowl without having a player with 100 rush attempts during the regular season.
  • The 10-year gap between Tom Brady’s championships (2004-2014) passed Roger Staubach’s 6 year gap as the longest in NFL history for a starting quarterback.
  • Tom Brady has won more Super Bowls (4) than 26 other NFL franchises.
  • The Patriots became the 6th team to win 4 Super Bowl titles. All wins have come since Robert Kraft bought the team in 1994 with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
  • Tom Brady is now tied with Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw as quarterbacks to win 4 Super Bowls. Brady also tied Montana with his third MVP award.
  • In this game, Tom Brady threw a Super Bowl record 37 passes (out of 50 attempts) for 328 yards and 4 touchdowns (plus two interceptions). Brady now owns the Super Bowl records for passes, completions, yards, and touchdowns, as well as most post-season comebacks (6, passing Joe Montana on Sunday night) and post-season game winning drives (9).0020
  • Patriots Coach Bill Belichick is now tied with Chuck Noll (former Steelers coach) as one of two coaches to win 4 Super Bowls. Belichick also has 2 Super Bowl rings he won as the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants. (Bill owns a boat that is named Five Rings . . . if we had to guess, the boat is getting a paint job with a new name this off-season.)

– Val and Michelle

Favorite Link Friday – January 30, 2015

Favorite Link Friday NFL January 30

We’re kicking off Super Bowl weekend with some of our favorite NFL stories from the web this week.

Here’s your Super Bowl edition of Favorite Link Friday:

If you have 5 minutes to kill…

1. When They Were Younger – Continuing their series from last year, the MMQB reached out to Super Bowl players’ former college and high school coaches and asked them to share favorite memories. Stories include QB Tom Brady being stuffed in a locker, Pats tight end Tim Wright and his hair-cutting skills, and Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka’s 3.8 GPA as a neuroscience major.

If you have 10 minutes to kill…

2. The Real DeflateGate Scandal Is That Anyone Cares – Chris Kluwe was known for being an outspoken player during his eight seasons as a punter with the Vikings and he doesn’t hold back in this essay posted on Time’s website. Whether you agree or disagree with him, he brings up some interesting points related to the league and DeflateGate.

If you have 20 minutes to kill…

3. Tom Brady Cannot Stop – Maybe you think Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time or maybe you think he’s a pretty boy and he annoys the heck out of you – either way you should read this in-depth profile on Tom from the New York Times. Well-written and full of interesting details, this article shows what makes this 37-year-old tick. Just think of it as a human interest story, where the subject happens to be married to a super model.

There’s no “if” here – this is a must-watch…

4. Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch (a.k.a. Skittles) and Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (a.k.a. Gronk) hang out with Conan O’Brien and play video games. Almost wet ourselves watching this. Too many good one-liners to count. Gronk is always entertaining, but this is the side of Skittles we don’t get to see and we love it.

Hope these articles get you ready for what is sure to be a great Super Bowl!

– Michelle & Val