Super Bowl LI

super-bowl

Is there a better a week in sports than Super Bowl week? And while we are at that, is there a better DAY in sports than Super Bowl Sunday? Of course, game seven of the NBA, MLB and NHL finals are all great, but the Super Bowl has a magic of its own. However, I figure that if you’re not a sports fan, you’ll never understand. But enough with dramatic (sort of) opening paragraphs and let’s talk about how the teams that will make sports fans happy all over the world this Sunday got to the biggest stage.

When the Patriots with Bellichick and Brady play a playoff game in Foxboro 100% focused it’s really hard to even think that they won’t beat anyone. After beating the Texans kind of going through the motions and raising some suspicions, they didn’t have any trouble beating the Steelers (okay, Bell’s injury was decisive to make things easier but even so…) and headed to their seventh Super Bowl since Brady and Bellichick joined them.

Everybody and their mother knew that Falcons and Packers was a game perfect for a shootout. What nobody expected was a single-sided shootout! There was only Matt Ryan playing against a nonexistent Packers defense and Aaron Rodgers having to deal with an offense plagued by injuries and Jordy Nelson playing with a broken rib. There was no contention and Atlanta easily smashed Green Bay.

Given the proper introductions, let’s talk about the main event.

SUPER BOWL LI: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS VS. ATLANTA FALCONS

There’s no shortage of people saying that we’re in for one of the greatest Super Bowl ever. That remains to be seen (remember how Seahawks and Broncos turned out?) but we certainly have all the ingredients for that to be confirmed.

The Patriots defense will face a huge test. Atlanta’s offense is firing on all cylinders and although underrated, Matt Ryan is a serious candidate for season MVP (despite what happened in the NFC final I still cast my vote to Aaron Rodgers). And as I said in my Conference finals post, they have the world’s greatest wide receiver in Julio Jones.

Having said that, let’s not forget that Bill Belichick is a defensive genius (he stopped Jim Kelly, Andre Reed and Thurman Thomas in Super Bowl XXV while defensive coordinator for the Giants) and didn’t give Antonio Brown any chance in the AFC final. I think he will use the cornerback and the safety to try and do the same with Julio Jones opening more space to Sanu and Gabriel, as if he was saying: “okay, let’s see if THEY can win the game for you.” The problem with that is: he did the same the two times he faced the Giants in the Super Bowl and it didn’t work out. That’s one of the things to keep an eye on this Sunday.

At the other side of the ball, Atlanta’s defense who was great against Seattle and Green Bay (the injuries notwithstanding) will face one of the greatest QBs of all time (if not the greatest) with a lot of experience in the greatest stage of all. And Hogan, Amendola and Edelman are playing great helped by a dangerous running game with Blount. Will experience make all the difference in the world? Who knows, that’s what we gonna find out.

This one is pretty difficult to predict, but as a Saints fan and somebody who thinks Boston is the greatest place in the Universe, I’m going with my heart: Patriots 35-33.

I’m counting the hours till Sunday, and obviously putting some craft beer in the freezer. Good game to you all!

Current playlist:

Listening:

The Outlaws – Playin’ to Win

Lou Gramm – Ready or Not

Union – Strike

Rough Diamond – s/t

City Boy – City Boy Book Early

Highway Chile – Rockarama

Heart – Live At the Royal Albert Hall w/ The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Watching:

Heart – Live At the Royal Albert Hall w/ The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

The Accountant

Westworld – Season 1

Reading

The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower – Stephen King

You Can’t Make This Up – Al Michaels

Be sure to check out my book “Straight and Lethal”

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

Follow me on twittter: @CarloAntico

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NFL Conference Finals

falcons_vs_packers

patriots-vs-steelers

The race to the Super Bowl is tightening and although in the Divisional Series we had two run-away victories and a rather tough, fought and not that interesting game (Steelers@Chiefs), what happened in Dallas was an instant classic and worth all playoff games. What a great game with a breathtaking finish! It reminds us all why we love football.

The Patriots disappointed a little but as everybody expected, as soon as they woke up, they didn’t have much trouble. Falcons offense dominated the Earl Thomas-less Seahawks defense and Andy Reid’s team again failed in the playoffs (and before anyone asks: it was heartbreaking, but the referee was right. It was a holding).

Anyway, let’s try predicting the Conference Finals.

NFC

Atlanta Falcons vs. Green Bay Packers: As I said in the divisional round post, Matt Ryan is a serious contender for MVP. He has great receivers and running backs and the Falcons defense showed last Saturday that it’s improving. There’s only one problem though: they are going against Aaron Rodgers. It doesn’t matter that the Packers have a lot of injuries. The same thing I said about the game against Dallas remains true now: I can’t see any team stopping him. He is doing magic and the O-line is protecting him greatly. The last performances are putting him in discussions about being the best EVER. Honestly, I don’t know about that, we’ll have to wait when he retires and we can assess his whole career, but right now, no one can beat him. I’m expecting a shootout. Packers 42-38.

AFC

New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers:  I just wrote that the Pats disappointed a little, unnecessarily struggling against a team they were clearly light years better. It was clear to me that they took the field thinking the game would be easy and then had to refocus during the football game. If they take the field against the Steelers like that, they can get in trouble (although I refuse to believe that a Bill Belichick coached team will commit this same mistake) due to the way Pittsburgh defense and the killer B’s (augmented by Chris Boswell now, he scored all their points against the Chiefs) are playing. However, New England’s defense is spectacular this year and when it’s all said and done the Steelers are facing Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in Boston in a postseason game. I don’t think they can handle it. Patriots 30-22.

Had the time finally come for us to witness maybe the greatest quarterback battle in the history of the Super Bowl, Brady vs. Rodgers? Let’s turn on our TVs this Sunday a find out. Good games to you all!

Current playlist:

Listening:

Starship – Greatest Hits (Ten years And Change 1979-1991)

John Mayall Bluesbreakers – Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton

The Cult – Electric

Watching:

The Warriors – The Director’s cut DVD

 

Be sure to check out my book “Straight and Lethal”

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

Follow me on twittter: @CarloAntico

 

 

 

 

Super Bowl XLIX: Delivering the goods

What a great game! Did Super Bowl XLIX meet our expectations or what? Although I didn’t get the winner right in my prediction (hey, the legendary Chris Berman also went with the Seahawks in his predictions, so I’m in good company), I did predict that it would be one for the ages.

Actually, it was the type of game we expected to see last year when the teams not only were the number one seeds (like this year), but it was the best defense (Seattle) against the best offence (Denver). However, that safety on the first play shattered the Broncos emotionally and the Seahawks soared above them.

Not this year, though. It was a contested game with emotions running high until the very last play and a great display of talent from both sides. It was one of those games that makes who likes the sport liking it even more and it is even able to flock some new fans.

Speaking of which, how about an audience of 1 billion people watching all over the world? When a sport that is mainly played in one country can reach this plateau of popularity, the league – the problems that we all know the NFL has notwithstanding – must be doing something right at least protecting the quality of the game inside the white lines.

Seattle defense showed his strength right in the beginning, intercepting Tom Brady in the Red Zone, but unfortunately for them they also lost Jeremy Lane, the very same guy who made the interception, who broke his arm falling badly after receiving a tackle.

However, Tom Brady and the Patriots have so much experience they didn’t let that first mistake put them down. Brady even threw another interception but not even that was able to make him lose his confidence and he finished the game with a deserving MVP title.

And the most interesting thing was that the two plays that decided the game didn’t have him involved: the magical reception by Jerome Kearse and the interception by rookie Malcolm Butler.

Now, about those two plays: as soon as Kearse had the ball it was impossible not to remember 2007 “helmet catch” and probably all New England fans thought: “Not again…” Lucky for them, it was really not again. And the interception? Well, I still can’t understand why Seattle didn’t run with Marshawn Lynch as they were on 1 yard line! Legendary Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith called it “the worst play call in football history” in his twitter account and although I don’t know if it’s that bad, it was head-scratching. Pete Carroll is a great coach and I heard his explanations but even so, it goes to show how pressure can impair your best judgment. And the rookie Malcolm Butler became one more of those improbable Super Bowl heroes with his first ever interception.

Last, but certainly not least, it is fair to discuss what this title means to Tom Brady’s legacy. Coupling his fourth Super Bowl title with his playoff numbers and his regular season numbers, is it fair to say that he is the greatest of all time? It’s an interesting and fair discussion. I, personally, think he is. However, there are people who might argue that today quarterbacks are much more protected by rules than they ever were, making their job less difficult. What is unquestionable is that he is a future hall of famer, certainly has the ability to improve his numbers even more and is up there with all other football legends.

Be sure to check out my book “Straight And Lethal” winner of the NABE Pinnacle Awards 2014 Fall edition.

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You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

Follow me on twittter: @CarloAntico

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super Bowl XLIX: So hard to choose

superbowl

Are you ready for some football? That was the chorus that dominated ESPN’s Monday Night Football opening theme sung by Hank Williams III. Afterwards he had a fall out with the network and he and the song were dropped. Anyway, the reason I started the post with it is that I do hope that you’re all ready for some football.

I mean, last year’s duel between those same Seahawks and the Broncos was primed to be a close game, but we and the Broncos offense were all shattered by the Seahawks defense. It was a rout nobody was expecting. This year we live the same expectation, but it will be an even greater surprise if we see another rout (either from the Pats or the Seahawks).

Therefore this year we are bound to have some serious contention about who will take the Lombardi home and my guess is that we gonna see some serious football played in Glendale.

First of all, it made me really happy that after so many wrong predictions in the Final Four, NBA Finals and World Series, I got the two finalists right. The Pats against the Colts were not rocket science, but I’m most glad that not only I was right about the Seahawks; I was right on the money that it would be a game for the ages. It was a monumental comeback, one with its story guaranteed in football history books.

Second, I’m not going to talk about “Deflategate” anymore. I read and listened to zillions of opinions about it and I couldn’t come up to a conclusion if it was a big deal or not. Therefore I decided that here at my blog I’m only talking about the game next Sunday. Whatever happened before it doesn’t matter.

As I said above everybody’s expectation is that this one should be a wonderful, tight game between teams that ended up with the best record in their respective conferences.

Another interesting thing is that we gonna see the last team to win back-to-back championships (Patriots) against the only team that have this chance over the last ten years! That should also contribute to a thrilling duel.

There’s so many things to keep both eyes open on this game is even hard to decide which to talk about. For example: will Tom Brady throw in the direction of Gronk if Richard Sherman is there? Will Gronk be able to receive passes in the slot? How New England will manage to stop Seattle running game with Marshall Lynch, assuming he will be on Beast Mode? Will Russell Wilson throw to any of his receivers if they happen to be where Darrelle Revis is? How the Seahawks will work if the Patriots decide to go to no huddle offense? As a matter of fact is impossible to answer those questions with 100% certainty.

And let’s not forget the coaches. As controversial as he is, Bill Belichick is regarded by many as one of the best (if not THE best) football coaches of all time. He will be up against another great (and one of the most intense) coach in Pete Carroll, who seemed to be loved by his players. They seemed to play for him.

All in all, after everything I wrote, I need to take a stand. In the end, who I think will be at the podium celebrating?  This one is really though. I can’t stress this enough and I wouldn’t bet a dime in any of the teams. But, just for the sake of choosing someone, I think Marshall Lynch can be a huge factor in the Patriots defense and Seahawks Legion of Boom can make Brady’s life a living hell. Seahawks 30, Patriots 27. It should be amazing to watch!

Current playlist:

Listening:

Stevie Nicks – 24 Carat Gold

Goatwhore – Carving Out The Eyes Of God

Watching:

Wayne’s World

Pistol Whipped

Be sure to check out my book “Straight And Lethal” winner of the NABE Pinnacle Awards 2014 Fall edition.

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You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

Follow me on twittter: @CarloAntico