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6 July 2011 - 2:17am

American Football

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With American Football season about to get underway I am wondering if anyone on this site is a fan. I hope that the NFL works out its labor dispute so that I can try my hand at pro football betting. If you are a fan, what is your favorite team/player and who do you think will win the Superbowl?

If you aren't a fan, why not? Do people from other parts of the world follow follow the sport?

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7 July 2011 - 8:42pm
#1

I am most definitely a fan and, having grown up in the Boston area, I'm a big fan of the Patriots. Naturally, my favorite player is who else but Tom Brady lol Others I really like are Andre Johnson, Troy Polomalu, and Ray Lewis.

Watching the Patriots really feels like a privilege. I think every Patriots fan out there solemnly believes they root for the best-run franchise in all of American pro sports.....and I do as well!

You might be surprised to learn that American Football is gaining a bit of traction across the world. To give you an example, there is even a league here in Serbia. In fact, the team from the capital Belgrade is coached by one Ruben Droughns (remember him? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reuben_Droughns). They also regularly broadcast games here live with Serbian color commentary, which is quite a trip Smile

I also remember one day at work being amazed because I stumbled across a handful of Serbian colleagues intelligently discussing the sport. Needless to say I was very pleasantly surprised Smile About half of them root for the Patriots because that was the best team around when they started watching, but there were also Eagles, Steelers and Chargers fans sprinkled in there. It still blows my mind to tell you the truth!

The view from some Europeans - or at least some of the ones here - is that American Football is inferior to Rugby. What's interesting is that they claim it's inferior because Rugby is supposedly more hardcore than American Football. Now, I don't want to get into a debate about which is rougher because I do not know much about Rugby, but I think it's hysterical and a little absurd that anyone deems that American Football is not adequately physical. To try and dispel that I showed them the following clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwiMtGsFHwA

How about your own favorite team and players, Barbados? I hope you're not a Lions fan....

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8 July 2011 - 2:59am
#2

That was a nice hit. Lots of big ones during games, yet people claim it is "soft".

I am a Michigan native, so I root for The University of Michigan when it comes to NCAA and the Detroit Lions for NFL. My favorite players within the past few years are Drew Brees, Ladanian Tomlinson, and Charles Woodson. My homer picks are Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh.

And hey, I fully admit the Lions have sucked for a looooong time, but they are on their way up. If they can actually keep Matthew Stafford healthy this year (meaning the offensive line doesn't let defenders slam him into the ground), we may have an outside shot at the wild card. I mean even if you laugh at how feeble the team has been in the past, look at Arizona and New Orleans recently...a turnaround is possible and it looks like they are on their way.

Plus Suh and Johnson are pretty sick. I mean come on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygAK0TZLe8o

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8 July 2011 - 5:57am
#3

American football is a strange game. There are bits I like and lots I don't like about it. On the one hand its incredibly complex and intricate with all the set plays but on the other hand its simplistic, with rarely more than 1 or 2 guys touching the ball on a single play. I remember seeing this "amazing touchdown" where the players actually passed the ball to each other instead of getting tackled and it was some kind of revelation - whereas that is just a basic required skill in a game of rugby or league.

I used to like watching a one hour highlights package they showed here years ago. The best part was that it cut out the all the interminable interruptions and stoppages that are a blight on the game. I got a shock one time when I was in America and some friends took me out to a bar to watch Monday night football. I soon realised that this one hour long game was going to take 4+ hours to finish! And let me tell you, 4 hours of drinking Bud and eating chicken wings is not good for a man!

The contrast between the amount of work done by the quarterback or the running backs vs one of the fridge-sized guys who does nothing but block a runner is interesting. I mean some of these guys might go their entire career without ever touching the ball in a game. And having professional kickers is also strange. I guess its taking task specialisation to the ultimate degree.

In Australia the players are generally thought of as a bit soft. Sure they have big hits but it all looks a bit wussy talking about how tough you are when you're covered head to waist in padding, especially compared to something like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4bPiqBx8xI

That's rugby league, which is a slightly different game to rugby union (what people generally mean when they say Rugby). It is generally regarded as having bigger hits and harder tackles than rugby union due to not having a ruck and maul every time someone is tackled. League is only really played to any decent standard in Australia, England and New Zealand. I don't really like union or league that much though, I'm more of a wussy (!) football (soccer) guy.

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8 July 2011 - 1:38pm
#4

Since when is 4 hours of drinking beer and eating chicken wings BAD for a man? lol It might be bad for one's health but it's great for the soul (in moderation, of course).

I enjoyed the clip and do not question the 'manliness' of Rugby. Just one comment, though: It appears the American Football players get more speed under them before hitting one another. Remember that momentum is a function of both mass AND velocity. It seems like the Rugby folks have less room to run before intiating contact.

I'll admit it took me a little bit of time living in the States to learn to love American Football. Naturally, it happened when my local team, the New England Patriots, put together a solid team in the mid-90s. Now, I would say it's my favorite of the big 4 in the United States and perhaps the most entertaining sport out there.

Why? First, I love the strategy inovlved in the game. The first thing new players do when they join teams is learn and memorize hundreds and hundreds of plays that are created after hours of analysis, examining game tape the opposing team. I also enjoy when experts break down plays at the end of a play to demonstrate how big plays were made. There is a LOT of nuance and strategy in a lot of plays.

Second, the structure of the game makes it such that 1) rarely is a team 'out of it.' Big comebacks late in games are not uncommon at all and 2) it seems to me that it's easier for underdogs to pull off upsets in American Football than in other sports like, say, Football (soccer) or Basketbal. These two things of course make it very interesting.

Third, at least relative to the other major sports in North America each game has so much more weight to it. I think this is purely because each season only has 16 games, whereas Hockey and Basketball have 80'ish and Baseball has a whopping 162. Naturally, it's more entertaining when there's more on the line.

Fourth, the characters and rivalries in the game make it endlessly entertaining. Of the four in North America, American Football has the bigges number of legit rivalries (Patriots - Colts, Vikings - Packers, Broncos - Raiders, Steelers - Ravens, every game in the NFC East and so on and so forth). As for the characters, there are lots and lots of them out there which keep things interesting. One guy even changed his last name to his nickname which is tied to his number, Ochocinco Smile

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17 July 2011 - 11:40am
#5

I wanted to follow up on something said earlier by Barbados in this thread: You're completely right about the Lions. I had forgotten about then, like I think most NFL fans had in the past few years, but they do have a ton of potential. Suh and Calvin Johnson are, as the Youtube clip highlights, indeed amazing and Stafford appears to be a rock solid guy to have under center. There's a foundation there that could bear fruit for the Lions for a loooooong time.

They will make what is always an interesting division even more fun to watch, but perhaps more difficult for the Lions to emerge from.

How do you see that division panning out? Would you go so far as to say that that's the best division top to bottom in football? I probably would at this point.

Is there any other team out there that you think will make a splash?

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17 July 2011 - 2:11pm
#6

I see the Packers taking the division, but the Lions pressing them and I think it will be closer than a lot of people would expect. Take it from my Lions blind optimism, but I can see them finishing 9-7 and possibly having a shot at taking the wild card.

Ed- I totally respect and enjoy watching rugby (when I can find it on US television), but as BB84 pointed out, I don't think rugby players get the running start that football players do, so it is kind of apples to oranges. That being said, rugby is tough crap, and I won't knock that at all...although I do think that American football has one big thing up on rugby...the forward pass.

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17 July 2011 - 3:44pm
#7

The one comment made earlier by Cl-Ed that I wholeheartedly agree with is how annoying the stoppages in the game are. Anyone who has ever watched an NFL game is, I'm sure, familiar with this 10 minute procedure: Touchdown-Commercial Break-Kickoff-Commercial Break. It makes one want to bad things to the TV Smile

I also see how its a deterrent for potential viewers from abroad, though apparently the game is gaining traction outside the US. They've had the Wembley game for a couple years now (though it won't occur this year I don't think because of the labor talks) and there is even some talk about starting a franchise outside America, which would be very cool.

I think the NFC North will be a fun division. It's much more entertaining than my AFC East, which is usually a one or sometimes two horse race between the Patriots and every once in awhile the Jets and Dolphins. We're also lucky because we can pretty much count on two wins against the Bills.

When I lived in DC for six years I also got quite a bit of exposure to the NFC East, which is a lot of fun in itself. Very entertaining top to bottom and it seems like the Cowboys, Redskins, Eagles and Giants are all rivals who cannot stand one another! Seems to me that the NFC North is much the same way.

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26 July 2011 - 3:39pm
#8

The lockout is over. Now we can actually get to talking about football itself. First up though is a shortened, sure to be crazy free agency period! I'm counting the days until early September...

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26 July 2011 - 5:12pm
#9

They are calling the next couple of days the most chaotic in NFL history with drafted players, free agents and player trades all set to occur. I am super amped about the season getting underway. Let's face it, you can only watch so much baseball and soccer before it starts to wear on you a bit.

Are you ready for some football?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ahVTorF2OI (Being a Lions fan I don't have much to cheer about...This is about it)

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28 July 2011 - 9:27pm
#10

It seemed like Stafford spent most of that video being thrown to the ground!

Barbados, You know have McNabb in your division with the Vikes. Do you see the guys in purple making the playoffs this year, or is the division just too hard? What do you think is the biggest move out there so far? There's a flurry of them now!

I am quite ready for some football. This down period on the American pro sports scene when there's only baseball around tires quickly.

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18 August 2011 - 5:41pm
#11

I don't think McNabb is that great. I think its Green Bay's division to lose, and the Wild Card is a possibility for the Lions or Bears. Vikings, meh.

So far I have to really give credit to New England in terms of off season pickups. I think they have the best front office and picking up Chad Johnson (refuse to call him Ochocinco) and Haynseworth could be big...although I heard they may cut one of them already.

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22 August 2011 - 11:56am
#12

I don't think there's a single Pats fan out there who doesn't believe that New England has the best management in all of football. I have not heard any stories of them potentially cutting Haynesworth or Johnson (I'll roll with it and not call him Ochocinco Wink ), but even if they did I'm sure it would be in the club's best interest. It has literally gotten to the point where I do not question any of their decisions anymore.

What I also enjoy is the re-emergence of the Jets as a legit rival under Rex Ryan. We've always had the upper hand on them but their lineup is stacked and they have a great and very hateable coach. I think they're always stronger on hype whereas the Pats are better on the results.

I can't wait for things to get underway - we're so close now with the pre-season in full swing! We're only two and a half weeks away Smile

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5 September 2011 - 10:28am
#13

Turns out my Pats are favored to win the superbowl. Here are the ESPN expert picks: http://espn.go.com/nfl/preview11/story/_/id/6885090/espn-experts-nfl-pre...

Oddsmakers also have them as favorites. Here is the odds chart at Ladbrokes: http://sports.ladbrokes.com/en-gb/American-Football-c110000015#

This site actually has the Packers as equal favorites but many have the Pats as outright favorites.

I believe this is a curse and that my team won't win it all now! I'm the superstitious type Smile

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8 September 2011 - 9:29pm
#14

Peyton Manning will miss the first game of his career due to injury, and perhaps many more so depending on the recovery timetable. This truly changes the face of the AFC in general and the AFC south in particular. I cannot think of a player whose loss more hurts his team than Manning with the Colts. Incredible stuff....

As a longtime fan of the Colts' rival Patriots, I have to say I'm more sad than happy. On the one hand, yes, this does increase our odds of emerging from the AFC. On the other hand, I think it's bad for the game to have one of its top players go down like this...

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9 September 2011 - 12:30am
#15

I hate Peyton Manning. Dude is like an uber talented imp. But I have his best receiver on my fantasy team...so Reggie Wayne will be on the bench this weekend with Santonio Holmes taking the spot til I can figure out what to do.

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9 September 2011 - 8:34pm
#16

I have never wathced the hole play of american football.. I am very interesting in it . but I can't even understand the rulls

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11 September 2011 - 8:20pm
#17

Can't think of the last time I heard anyone call or be called an imp Smile

I do not like the guy (it's all the commercials that get me), but I think it's bad for the sport to have one of its best players out for the year. I say the same thing about Crosby in hockey. Obviously it improves my Patriots' chances in the AFC.

As for the Colts.....it looks like their season has ended before it even started. A measly 7 points today.

Soso - my advice is to watch a game with someone who follows the sport regularly. There are a LOT of rules but the overall concept and flow of the game is easy to pick up. If you do get to follow the sport for a bit, you will probably grow to LOE it. Most people do Wink

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11 September 2011 - 9:49pm
#18

My Lions picked up a big win today against Tampa Bay, but it didn't even compare to the college football game last night between Notre Dame and Michigan at the Big House in Ann Arbor.

For those who are unfamiliar, these two teams have played each other for over 100 years and are two of the most storied teams in the collegiate game. Last night the two teams played at night for the first time in the Big House, which is Michigan's home stadium. The attendance was over 114,000 and saw Michigan come back with 28 points in the final quarter including scoring a touchdown with two seconds left to win the game! It was incredible to watch, maybe one of the better finishes I have ever seen.

Footage here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSZeKhPMlXc

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14 September 2011 - 10:07pm
#19

Lions are on the up and up! Congrats - it must be nice to have some optimism early on in the year after a few really bad years. I'm pulling for them in the NFC North. I would say NFC in general, but as a longtime Washingtonian - I went to university there and lived there for a couple of years out of school - I kind of associate with the Redskins in that conference.....which is usually a hopeless proposition. That Dan Snyder....just does not know what he's doing.

My Pats got off to a fast start, with Tom Brady throwing for over 500 yards in a single game...an insane number. Only on a handful of occasions has a quarterback managed to accomplish that feat.

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18 September 2011 - 8:31pm
#20

Barbados - big win for your Lions today! Is there any room left on the Stafford/Lions bandwagon??? I'd also like to point to my last point to say that I hopped on it last week, just in case there's a rush to get on there Wink

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19 September 2011 - 12:36am
#21

Welcome aboard the bandwagon! I am so happy to hear that everyone saying Stafford is fragile having their mouths shut. Sure, the season isn't even close to being completed, but he is showing his true promise.

I wish I would have put money on the game today. I would have done quite well on the over/under!

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3 October 2011 - 12:09pm
#22

I watched the Lions comeback yesterday here in Serbia - great game and amazing comeback. I bet you're over the moon, Barbados Thumb Up

On my end, the Pats were back to it after their loss in Buffalo. Fairly routine game out in Oakland, and now I eagerly eagerly eagerly await this week's game against Rex Ryan and the Jets Smile It should be a good one but I think we'll pull it out.

By the way, four weeks in we have the following teams leading their division:

AFC East: New England / Buffalo
AFC South: Houston / Tennesee
AFC North: Baltimore
AFC West: San Diego

NFC East: Washington / New York Giants
NFC South: New Orleans / (probably Tampa also after tonight's game)
NFC North: Green Bay / Detroit
NFC West: San Francisco

Aside from the Chargers, who would have prognosticated that this list of teams makes up the division leaders???

Yes, there's a long way to go, but this what I love about the NFL. It is a league that has been moving towards parity, and it's a sport where it's not at all unusual for teams to drastically improve (or decline) from year to year.

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3 October 2011 - 11:30pm
#23
BB84 wrote:

Yes, there's a long way to go, but this what I love about the NFL. It is a league that has been moving towards parity, and it's a sport where it's not at all unusual for teams to drastically improve (or decline) from year to year.

I really like that about sports that have a draft and/or a salary cap (do they have a salary cap in NFL?). It makes a change from European soccer leagues that I follow that have the same rich and powerful clubs winning year after year.

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4 October 2011 - 12:28am
#24

Yes, the NFL does indeed have a salary cap. They just completed a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the players too, and with the new rules each team needs to spend at least 90% of the salary cap. That means that all teams will now be able to spend big money on free agents (as opposed to having crappy but still profitable teams with cheap players).

It is a good time to be a football fan, and even better to be a Lions fan! That 24 point comeback in less than 30 minutes was unreal. I really am happy to hear you watched the game BB84, it was a doozy for sure!

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12 October 2011 - 5:32am
#25

So they have a cap, but they also have a floor at 90% of the cap? That is kind of odd. That could lead to overinflated wages if they have to pay guys more just to fill out the cap spending. I know its a bit off-topic but whats going on in the NBA? The players are on strike there now?

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17 October 2011 - 7:43pm
#26

The NBA situation looks as bleak as ever. They've gone ahead and scrapped the first two weeks of the season and, with the way things are looking now, it is looking like a good chunk of the season or perhaps the whole shabang will be cancelled. It really is sad, but apparently there are some structural issues the players and owners have to work out. The shameful thing about it is that they could not get it done during the offseason and so the fans and everyone who counts on the NBA for their job or income has to suffer because of it.

As for the NFL, this sport, oddly enough, is not characterized by overinflated contracts a la the aforementioned NBA. I'm sure that a player would volunteer to restructure his deal and get paid more if his team team out there somewhere looking to spend up to the 90% threshold Wink It seems that the NFL players and owners worked out their differences this summer and that things are well for the foreseeable future.

ED - how is the rugby atmosphere down under?

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19 October 2011 - 4:29am
#27

I am astonished that the whole league can be held to ransom like that. Any chance of them brining in the 3rd rate players to play instead like they did with baseball a few years ago?

Australia were knocked out by New Zealand the other day in the rugby world cup semi final, and as promised it was the only game of the whole tournament I watched. It wasn't much of a game to be honest, NZ were by far the superior team and I think it was pretty much the expected result as Australia had not been playing well up until that match. Its NZ vs France in the final and I would bet on NZ smashing them.

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24 October 2011 - 9:31am
#28

No smashing apparently - heck the French nearly pulled off a colossal upset from what I understand!

Can anyone believe how bad the Colts have been this year? I think we all expected a sub-par year but they appear very 2008 Lions-like (sorry Barbados) without their leader, quarterback Payton Manning.

For those of you not in the know, the Indianapolis Colts have been one of the top teams in the NFL ever since he was drafted in the late 1990s. It is also safe to say he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame and will go down as one of the best players in the history of the league (again, sorry Barbados). This year he has been out with a neck injury and the Colts have been woeful. They are 0-7, have lost their games by an average of 16 points and yesterday lost 62-7 to the Saints.

Do people think they're a good candidate to finish with the worst record and hence have a chance at getting hot-shot prospect Andrew Luck? Also, does this season mean that we should give Manning the MVP award from every year from here on out Smile ?

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24 October 2011 - 12:36pm
#29

Its going to be hard to say who is going to "Suck for Luck" the most, but my bets are the Colts and Dolphins. Both teams are absolutely miserable and it is going to be rough for them to win any games.

I really do not know what to make of the NFL this year. It is hard to make predictions based on anything at this point. The changeover from year to year is remarkable and makes this sport totally unpredictable.

By the way, did you see they played a game in London yesterday? How would a franchise be received across the pond?

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25 October 2011 - 1:47pm
#30

Suck for Luck. I like that! I think I miss out on little things like that living on this side of the pond. I think you're right. The Rams are currently without a win but their division games are so much easier that one would think they'll pull one out sooner or later. One would have to think the Colts stand a better chance only because AFC East teams are generally stronger than AFC South teams (especially with Buffalo playing the way it has this season).

What do you think happens if the Rams or Colts get the #1 pick? Miami, which has gone through roughly 500 quarterbacks in the past decade, will likely take Luck, but the Rams and especially Colts appear to be set at QB. They would trade down wouldn't they?

As for the London game, first, I really love the idea of them doing this at all. The game is apparently a big hit, the players don't mind the trip, the 'home' team has not griped about losing a true home game and across the board everyone seems thrilled with it. What's not to like, after all? Likewise, I enjoy the NHL kicking things off in Central and Northern Europe and the MLB playing games in Japan.

I would like the idea of London getting a franchise because I think it would just add so many interesting twists and new flavors to the whole thing. Think about it - a superbowl in London? The coaching and training wrinkles needed for the long journeys to and from? Celebrity Brits and the sizeable American and other expat populations (one thinks the whole city is expats when walking down the street) getting into it? It would be a lot of fun and it seems doable, even if difficult.

That being said, I do not see the sport taking off for, well, the same reason I don't see football (soccer) taking off in the United States. I think the British sports scene is just too saturated for anyone to really get into it. Sure, the once a year game sells out, but half the reason why is because a hyped-up, one-off event. I'm not sure they could fill Wembley 8 or more times a season. It would require an enormous, years-long initial investment by the first owners for the game to take root and I'm not sure there would be takers out there. I don't even think eccentric, Russian oligarchs would be into this kind of thing.

To sum up, it would be quite cool and I am personally very much for it, but I do not think it would catch on.

What does everyone else think?

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