The Flat: Cowboys are team to beat, not the best

Here’s how the NFL playoffs are shaking up as we watch Week 14:

As the NFL enters the final quarter of the season… 19 teams are either in or within 1 game of a playoff spot.

A photo posted by NFL (@nfl) on

Let’s take the No. 1 seeds first. The Cowboys, as I wrote in my title, are the team to beat in the league, but not the best. They’re certainly a very good, even a great, team, but when it comes playoff time there’s going to be a team that pushes up against how they play: chew the clock with smart, efficient, big runs with Ezekiel Elliot and downfield throws with Dak Prescott. As for the Patriots, they’re well-coached and QB’d, but their defense is shaky.

Continue reading “The Flat: Cowboys are team to beat, not the best”

The Flat: Trade deadline comes & Jamie Collins goes

As I was leaving work around 3 p.m. Tuesday, I pulled out my phone from my pocket to check if I’d missed any calls, texts or notifications. It was the usual on the first two fronts, a few family and friends reaching out, but the third was the unusual one. “BREAKING: Patriots trade Pro Bowl LB Jamie Collins to Browns for third-round compensatory pick.” My initial reaction was understandably shocked, however, once it sunk in I wasn’t surprised.

Continue reading “The Flat: Trade deadline comes & Jamie Collins goes”

The Flat: Domestic violence is most serious of NFL’s other issues

On Tuesday Oct. 25, the Giants released their now former kicker Josh Brown, who was suspended for domestic violence a mere game until more information came to light. First off, good on New York for putting team first and realizing how bad Brown was to their brand. In having someone like that in your lockeroom, you’re pretty much condoning the act he’s connected to. Up until they finally rid themselves of him, they were only distancing themselves through their words and not sort of actions.

Continue reading “The Flat: Domestic violence is most serious of NFL’s other issues”

The Flat: New info on Giants kicker Josh Brown surfaces

After serving a one-game suspension to start the 2016 NFL season for domestic violence, Giants kicker Josh Brown looks like he’s headed toward more games to sit out this year or even being left without a job completely. Either or would be a just punishment, although he should’ve been given a much harsher penalty the first time around. Call me a jaded Patriots fan, but why does Tom Brady serve four games for allegedly being involved in the deflation of footballs while Brown receives one for physically harming his wife?

The NFL has already walked a fine line in how it comes down with a verdict in situations such as these. Need I remind you of Spygate and Ray Rice? For whatever reason, it punishes one athlete or organization differently every time. It’s worth listening to the Saints’s QB, Drew Brees, who eloquently puts the league in its place on this very subject in a podcast interview with the MMQB’s Peter King, which I embedded below in my weekly suggestions. Why is that? If you do wrong, you should be punished accordingly.

Continue reading “The Flat: New info on Giants kicker Josh Brown surfaces”

The Flat: Quarter-season awards

To say it’s been a while since I’ve written is an understatement, and it bugs me. It bothers me so much because, if you know me, writing isn’t just a hobby; it’s a passion and one of the things I absolutely love in my life.

I’d had a pretty consistent schedule for posting much more frequently with this weekly NFL column and my personal posts, or so I thought. Now with my new job, a subject I’ll talk more about in my next blog, time has been harder to manage because, well, I’m frankly tired when I finally make it home. That’s on me however, so I’ve already started to rethink how to not find time to write but rather to make it.

Continue reading “The Flat: Quarter-season awards”

The Flat: RIP Jose Fernandez

Late again… I’ve been trying to figure out whether posting my weekly power rankings would be best posted before Thursday night football or Sunday mornings. I’ll figure it out.

Before video and podcast of the week and rankings, I want to take the time to embed my tweets commenting on the way beyond horrific loss of 24-year-old Miami Marlins’s ace Jose Fernandez.

Continue reading “The Flat: RIP Jose Fernandez”

The Flat: Writing Much?

I’m a bit late to posting my weekly NFL power rankings, anything for that matter on my website, because I’ve been writing extensively about “Star Wars Rebels” for “The GWW.” I have two posts over on their site from this week that I’d greatly appreciate you taking the time to reading:

One more note before this week’s power rankings. Each week to couple with the list, I’ll embed a YouTube video that talks about something, anything regarding the NFL that is of interest to me. In my last post, I shared one of Rich Eisen, host of “The Rich Eisen Show,” and Eric Davis, former NFL cornerback. And again I’ll be passing along another Eisen, Davis video, but this time former NFL linebacker, Willie McGinest, joins them for part of the interview. I’d eventually like for you the reader to share a video with me to include.

Continue reading “The Flat: Writing Much?”

The Flat: Season MVP

It all started with my anxious anticipation for the ’16 NFL season to finally kick-off, and oh boy did it ever. Let me just say that the game between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos, which the latter won 21-20 on a missed field goal by Panthers’s kicker Graham Gano, proved me right in being so stoked for football for the first time in, well, ever.

All of this has led to me writing my predictions for the season from the standings to the playoffs to the Super Bowl. And the plan in my head was that it’d satisfy me, not one bit. After watching Rich Eisen, host of “The Rich Eisen Show,” talk with former NFL cornerback, Eric Davis, about picks for the Super Bowl, choice for season MVP and the top five teams (aka power rankings) in the league right now; I had an itch to chime in myself.

Continue reading “The Flat: Season MVP”

The Flat: First-ever NFL season preview

When I first started blogging back in high-school, I’d always have posts with my predictions of how the upcoming MLB season would shape out, including mid and end of season awards. I enjoyed writing about that because baseball is my favorite sport, but for the first time I’m now going to do the same but for the NFL. I’m still trying to figure why, all of a sudden at 22, football has caught my attention outside from just my usual “I only follow the Patriots” mantra.

Over the past few months, I’ve read, listened to and watched any information I could get a hold of in order to learn about a game I was barely a fan of before this season. My No. 1 source throughout, and it’s one I’ll preach for any football fan to read, has been “The MMQB,”  which I try to read everyday. And the more I’ve dived into the Xs and Os of the NFL; the more I’ve fallen into really, really liking it. I don’t want to go as far as saying I love the sport until I’ve watched games other than the New England Patriots.

Continue reading “The Flat: First-ever NFL season preview”

The Flat: Can the 2016 NFL season start already?

I’ve never been the biggest NFL fan. Please, don’t mistake me for thinking it’s not an enjoyable sport to watch, it is. It’s fast-paced. It can be brutal. (Rules changes over the years have made it a softer game than it used to be.) The story lines in-season and now in the off-season, mostly negative, keep the intrigue surrounding the league constant throughout the year.

Maybe that’s why more than ever I’m so stoked for the newest season to get underway. I’m a New England Patriots fan; I have been ever since they won Super Bowl XXXVIII, 32-29, against the Carolina Panthers. (That story is best left for another post.) So I follow the team’s goings on and watch as many of their games as I can.

Continue reading “The Flat: Can the 2016 NFL season start already?”

Final Third on the MAAC Pitch: Dreams of winning while at Disney World

This is a column that takes a look at all of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference men’s soccer teams throughout the course of the ’15 season.

In a year when we could safely assume who the MAAC regular season title champions were going to be — Monmouth University — by the end of September, which is about a quarter of the way through. The conference was still unsurprisingly, to at least one coach: Iona College head soccer coach Fernando Barboto, competitive.

At the start of non-conference play, he said “last year the conference had a really good year” and predicted “the league is going to be even stronger this year.” He was half-right. Six teams had winning records, both last season and the one we just had. So the MAAC had another “really good year” but it wasn’t “even stronger.” The last time the conference had less than five teams with winning records was in ’12 when there was four. It has had consistent competitiveness since.

Continue reading “Final Third on the MAAC Pitch: Dreams of winning while at Disney World”

Final Third on the MAAC Pitch: Seeding out personal goals

This is a column that takes a look at all of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s men’s soccer teams throughout the course of the ’15 season.

With the MAAC regular season coming to an end, the teams with the best records are Monmouth University — clinched regular season title, Rider, Iona College and Marist. Two takeaways from those four is Monmouth, who are the defending conference champions, and Quinnipiac not seeding at the top.

The former is self-explanatory, as for the latter, the simple reason is that Cesar Markovic, Siena head soccer coach, told “The ‘J’ Effect” this a few weeks ago:

“The MAAC is up for grabs. You have your usual suspects but you also have some teams that can surprise people from the bottom. The preseason poll is worthless, it doesn’t mean anything. The first or second conference games don’t exactly decide everything. If you check back around game five or six, that’s when you really start to see who’s shaping up and what’s happening.”

Continue reading “Final Third on the MAAC Pitch: Seeding out personal goals”

Final Third on the MAAC Pitch: Mountain Hawks are regular season champions… so far

This is a column that takes a look at all of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference men’s soccer teams throughout the course of the ’15 season.

The non-conference matches have come and gone. Conference play is finally here. This is when the win-loss record begins to matter

Monmouth University, Marist College, Siena, Iona and Saint Peter’s are the current top five seeds in the MAAC, in that order. Although the teams mentioned are in the upper-echelon, the conference is tightly contested based on the margins of wins; losses; and draws. In the words of the recently passed Yankees legend Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

The teams at the bottom have been faced with loss after loss with a couple of frustrating draws sprinkled in. One of those is Niagara, led by second-year head coach Eric Barnes, who said his squad was tested during non-conference but now feels prepared and complete, in terms of his roster.

“We haven’t gotten the results that we would like,” he said, “but we’ve been dealing with a couple of injuries. We should have everyone back and healthy by conference, so that’ll be helpful. The guys have really stuck together even with the results. They’ve bought into what we’re trying to do, so we should be good to go going forward.”

Meza running the ball down field against Lehigh on Sept. 2. Photo taken by Kevin Furhmann.
Meza running the ball down field against Lehigh on Sept. 2. Photo taken by Kevin Furhmann.

Manhattan is similar to Niagara in that its games haven’t gone the way that it’d like them to go. Jose Meza, Manhattan midfielder/forward, said the 2-2 draw with NJIT on Sept. 20 showed when the team controls possession, allows time, creates chances and lands shots on goal it can reach its ceiling.

Continue reading “Final Third on the MAAC Pitch: Mountain Hawks are regular season champions… so far”

Final Third on the MAAC Pitch: Jasper senior co-captain, Alex Shackley, on the ’15 season’s outlook

Disclaimer: This interview was conducted prior to the start of the ‘15 MAAC men’s soccer season.

If there ever was to be a definition for how ‘14 was for Manhattan College last season. Look no further than the second to last “Back of the Net” column “Season Meanings.” Its opening read as follows:

The Manhattan Jaspers found themselves looking up at every other school in the MAAC after failing to win 12 straight games from early September to late October. … To this point in the season, the offense was inconsistent. They went through a 587-minute goalless streak in a span of six games and followed that up with only three goals in the five games leading up to Niagara. … Throughout the entire season, Scott’s message was about how all it took for either team playing on the soccer field was one mistake, one moment of brilliance, one horrific decision.

Three games into ‘15, Manhattan is off to an 0-3 start. Jon Reyes recently conducted a conference call interview with one of the team’s midfielders, Alex Shackley, to discuss the state of the squad going forward.

Continue reading “Final Third on the MAAC Pitch: Jasper senior co-captain, Alex Shackley, on the ’15 season’s outlook”

Final Third on the MAAC Pitch: Mountain Hawks set up for repeat?

This is a column that takes a look at all of the MAAC men’s soccer teams throughout the course of the season and off-season.

As the ‘14 regular season came to a close, Quinnipiac University had to have felt pretty good about itself heading into the postseason as the No. 1 seed in the MAAC conference. Its goal, as is every other teams’, is to win the MAAC final for the championship title. It lost to Fairfield on penalty kicks, 3-1, before it could even think of a rematch with Monmouth.

Monmouth won its match against Iona College, 2-1, to advance and face-off with Fairfield in the championship. On a Dave Nigro golden goal in the 104th minute, Monmouth won 2-1. For its stay in the NCAA tournament, that didn’t last long because it lost in double overtime to No. 14 nationally ranked Xavier in the first round 2-1. Talk about irony to win or lose by the same exact score.

Continue reading “Final Third on the MAAC Pitch: Mountain Hawks set up for repeat?”