Chicago

The Bulls are a solid team, without Derrick Rose. The Blackhawks are unstoppable. The Bears went 10-6 but still fired Lovie Smith, for some reason. And the White Sox and Cubs play 162 games a year, so we’ll see. I leave baseball at a loss because the Braves and Nationals pretty well have a lock on the NLCS and the Tigers, the one saving grace of Detroit sports (the Wings are 7-4-2, not really stellar though they are in 2nd in the Central division) aren’t going to lose any ground in the AL next season. This is a city that enjoys its markets. Even the Cubs will have better ticket sales than the Braves. Atlanta has a terrible pro sports market, and even with that stellar outfield, and the high likeliness they’ll win 100 games, Atlanta baseball ticket sales will still be worse than Cubs sales. The Blackhawks are stellar right now. I personally think they’ll drop off before the playoffs, but for now this is not a team you want to go visit, and certainly not a team you want in your arena. The Bulls are currently 5th in the East, but only 3 games out of 2nd. It’s a competitive season and they’re doing this without Derrick Rose, arguably the best guard in basketball. I used to argue that it’s a guard driven league now, but with Rondo and Rose being their teams’ go-to guy and being out its hard to continue that argument with the Celtics and Bulls success rate without these guys. Can the Bulls beat the Heat in 7 games without Rose? No. I dont think they could beat the Pacers in 7. Outside of those 2 teams, I think the Bulls are the 3rd best team in the East, over a 5-7 game stretch. And Rose has said he won’t play at all this season, but if he does play in the playoffs, they will be all the more dangerous. The Blackhawks are literally unstoppable. They’ve only lost in shootouts, which may as well be a draw as far as I’m concerned. But either way this team has what it takes to be very dangerous down the road. Too bad hockey playoffs are all about hot goalies. The Bears… I don’t understand this franchise. They build a 10+ win a year team, miss the playoffs and clean out the front office. You have a mental qb who may throw 5 TDs a game or 4 INTs. It wasn’t live Smith was the one throwing games away on bad last minute calls. And you’ve been consistent for years including I believe 3 NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl appearance with a QB half as talented as Jay Cutler. Some team is going to be in the NFC or AFC Championship in the next 3 years because of Lovie Smith. I dont expect the Bears to be as dangerous over the next few years. Chicago is in a hot spot for unlikliness in sports.

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Death of the Rivalry

Today in sports everyone is expected to be friends off the court/field/ice/pitch. Which is nice. The world needs more nice things. But as a fan of sports I want gladiators not metro-sexual friends in contrasting uniforms. It’s nice these guys have the money and the league enforces the authority to make them dress well but at least let Troy Murphy put LeBron on his ass when he drives to the basket. Let Wes Welker’s wife, who doesn’t have any direct ties to the NFL talk shit about Ray Lewis like a normal fan. We live in a such a PC world that it blows me away.

Two decades ago you couldn’t drive in the paint without getting bruised at best. Reggie Miller was grabbing his… Business at Spike Lee’s wife. Sports were brutal. ESPN had a video you could buy of all the biggest, nastiest, dirtiest hits in the NFL and a segment on Mondays called ‘Jacked Up’ featuring the biggest hits of the weekend.

People don’t sit and awe over a textbook wrapped up tackle. We watch Clowney’s hit during the Outback Bowl on repeat 1000 times. We know about Reggie making the choke sign at Spike Lee. We want that. We as fans grow up and hate (as an LSU, Denver Broncos, and Arsenal fan) Totenham, Alabama, Auburn, Kansas City and San Diego. We don’t want to see Charles trying to get Peyton’s autograph after a game, you’re supposed to rip his head off!

I’m not saying I want guys to beat up a father outside of a Giants/Dodgers game or a guy to sucker punch and subsequently get stabbed in the neck after a Falcons/9ers game. I’m not saying be violent about it. Play within the rules but just play with the drive and passion that the fans have that pack out arenas. No one wants to see Crosby and Ovechkin hug. No one wants Kobe and LeBron to share a laugh. No one wants Jon Jones and Rashad Evans to train together before they fight. Half the reason that fight was so built up was from all the trash talk. Guys talking on twitter before a fight is half of what makes MMA great. It has camaraderie and passion from its athletes. These guys want to smash each other and it’s great for the sport.

We are, at the end of the day, primal. We want sleep, food, and competition. It’s natural. So why make everything so coddled that there isn’t a true rivalry anymore?

We’re going to talk crap to coworkers on Monday anyway.

Greatest Ever

There are pictures all over the place of LeBron with his awards, overshadowed by Kobe with his awards, who is overshadowed by Jordan with all of his awards. People always want comparisons and to put company where it doesn’t belong. I think Kobe would’ve struggled with the physicality of basketball in the early-late 90’s where I don’t believe LeBron would’ve. For me that’s how you rate greatness. How would this player hold up if they were put in a different era? Could Ted Williams bat 400 in today’s era? Could Kobe survive in the era of the dream team? Could Jim Brown run against current defensive schemes? Could Messi score this way in a more physical league? If you’d have asked me last year if he was the best, I’d have said no CR7 is and then Xavi was better to me. But I’m coming around now. Soccer used to be a lot more brutal than it is today. Flopping and other shenanigans prevails more than dirty Ryan Shawcross tactics. But Spain is a more flop league than it is physical league. With that said, do I think Messi would score 86 goals in EPL, no. Could he stand up to the dirty defenses in Italy, no. But the guy plays UCL, International, and La Liga play and he’s always on screen for every goal. I think Spain has two really solid teams and 18 mediocre at best teams. And Messi takes one of those two teams and turns them from an A- to an A+. I’d absolutely love to see what he and David Silva would do together. There aren’t many players in any sport who can elevate a team. By elevate I mean take a great team and make them a championship team. The reason it is so hard is because they are team sports. And coming through when it matters is huge to defining a great player. The Lakers were terrible when it was just Kobe, LeBron chokes, even last year he had down games, for the longest time Peyton couldn’t win the big one. It’s a reputation that follows players, even some great players get outcast from the ‘elite’ class because of it like Barkley and Marino. And other players get put into an A team and take that team to all new heights.

Popularity Contest

ESPN and Sport’s Illustrated are run by morons.

LeBron James is not better than Lionel Messi.

LeBron won SI’s Athlete of the Year.  Coming from a guy who was completely absent in six playoff games, I find this completely unacceptable.  Without D-Wade, Little Ol’ Bron Bron would still not have a championship.  And If he played for Spain, he’d have a silver medal, not goal.  He’s surrounded himself with the pieces he needs to win.  If he didn’t have D-Wade he’d have another NBA Finals with nothing to show to for it.

Actually I take that back, the Heat wouldn’t have beaten the Pacers to be in the Finals.  Then no one would care at all.

Lionel Messi on the other hand is the best player in the world’s most popular sport and he’s playing better than he’s ever played before.  I was never sold in Messi before this season.  Seeing him play, pass, move without the ball, it’s incredible.  He does things you can’t do in video games.  It’s just absurd watching him play soccer this year.

If you can honestly make an argument that is anything other than “Americans have no idea what soccer is,” I’d love to hear it.

NFL Stars Photo App, vamp!, is now Available on Android and iOS

NFL Stars Photo App, vamp!, is now Available on Android and iOS

Been leading up to this for a while now, and I’m happy to say that vamp! is now available for download. It is a paid app, but portions of proceeds are going to be going to the United Athletes Foundation. 

You can take photos with Ray Lewis, Jamaal Charles, and Chris Culliver. 

Link to iOS Download

Link to Android Download

Jobs on the Line

https://i1.wp.com/cdn.caughtoffside.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Rafa-Benitez-RETINA.png

According to ESPN Ancelotti (PSG), Wenger (Arsenal), Benitez (Chelsea) are all on the chopping block.

Ancelotti is 4 points from the top in French Ligue 1.

Wenger is about to take Arsenal to their 17th straight Round of 16 in Champion’s League.

And Benitez is a week into his tenure.

When you change coaches, thus styles, and add in several new players, it takes a little time to get acclimated.

Wenger brought in three key players after losing his two best players from last season.  Cazorla has been great, and Wilshere is just returning from a year long injury.  Replacing RVP isn’t easy, but the transition takes time.  Also, no one feeds better on long balls than Alex Song.

Benitez just got out of a struggling style from Di Mateo, Torres is the biggest bust in sports history.  He’s been pretty good lately, and a great feeder for Chelsea but for the money he was exchanged for: it’s a bust.  Abromovach won’t give managers time to build their own system before he lets them go.  It’s a shit job and no one is going to come in and make a full English Cup, Premiere League, and UCL impact over night.  So, Chelsea, enjoy more time of mediocrity.

PSG did a complete overhaul.  Managers, money, players, everything…  And they are 4 points back…

Give it a little time to gel.  I realize the season starts in August and it’s now December, but you can’t bring in several players who replace your key players or become key players and expect things to be instant.

Look at the Miami Heat…

NFL Stars Team Up With Atlanta Tech Company for Charity

I know I was talking about this a few months back when the company I work for, MoZeus Worldwide, was planning on releasing an app that allowed you to take a photo with NFL all-time great, Ray Lewis. Well, I have an update! We have actually just recently signed two more NFL players – Kansas City Chiefs star running back Jamaal Charles, and rising star from the San Francisco 49ers, Chris Culliver.

The release will happen in the first week of December, and the app, when downloaded will give you ability to take photos standing next to the three NFL stars. The proceeds will also help benefit a great charity that these men are part of, the United Athletes Foundation. I suggest you take a look at their site and get a good idea of what they’re about. It’s a great mission.

The app will be available on Android and iOS.

Losses Don’t Add Up

In college football you need to win, win, win, no matter what.  All this stuff about “don’t worry boys, we’ll bounce back” from USC following a loss to Stanford is outrageous.  You played a team who lost their offensive line, their quarterback, and has never had a noteworthy defense and you think having an off week was the problem?  Don’t expect a national championship.  You play 11 games a year before your respective conference championships, and then you play a bowl game.  Potentially 13 games a year.  There isn’t a playoff yet, and making a case when you lost to this team who only beat this 6-5 team by a field goal, but you beat this team by four touchdowns…  it’s football math.

But I have a better recommendation.  Don’t lose.  Ever.  Just don’t.  The Pac-12 is way up right now, the Big 10 I’m not sure could beat the Big East right now.  If you think LSU is going to drop a game against anyone and expect to “bounce back” you’re out of your mind.  Bouncing back isn’t having another team control your destiny.  When you’re number 2 and you lose to number 22…  better luck next season.  Go ahead and focus and recruiting.
And I’ve been very impressed with the Pac-12 so far, but when your National Championship contender comes out and blows one against a team that is rebuilding, you can’t chalk it up to a bad game.  You can’t have an off game in college football.

That’s the reason why these Calvin Johnsons and RG3s now come into the league and have immediate success.  The pedigree in college has gotten better.  The big teams spend a week traveling 3000 miles and play without having an off game.  That’s what separates the elite and the A teams.  The two best coaches and two beat recruiters are both in the SEC West, and likely will play each other twice this year again.  The only two teams outside the SEC that look to be in that BCS argument so far are Oklahoma and FSU.  Florida State plays Clemson this weekend and a loss puts you out the door.  The ACC isn’t strong enough to build you back up,  and the Big 12 is so far down it should just dissolve into other conferences.  OU stands alone here.  The Pac-12 may hold redemption for USC, but they will need a lot of help.

When you have a playoff system, you afford a down game.  But this is tournament time for a whole season.  Fall madness.  One and done.  So comfort your team but don’t expect the bounce back.  Unless you’re expecting to bounce to the Rose Bowl.

Goal of the Day – Oscar vs. Juve

It’s a few days late, but good Lord was that an amazing goal.

NFC Picks

Continuing with our picks this week we are jumping into our NFC picks.

South:

I’ve never been sold on the Falcons, but I’m starting to come around.  I had pegged the Saints in the preseason to do well just based on talent.  Now the Saints look poised to finish below .500 and the Falcons look ready for a 1 seed in the playoffs.

Joseph Champey: Saints/Falcons
Tim Herb: Falcons/Falcons

North:

I think it’s pretty hard for anyone to pick against the Packers.  The Lions look better than I expected but I’m sticking with my preseason pick.

JC: Packers/Packers
TH: Packers/Packers

East: 

I know every year people want to talk about the Super Champs and how well they’ll do and blah blah.  But realistically the Giants aren’t a great team.  They get hot at the end of the year so it compensates for a dismal start to the season.  The Eagles were my preseason pick, but I’m not sold on this team either.  They have a great D but their offense likes turning the ball over way too much.  This division could be won at 8-8.  This is a tough call but it’ll be a toss up between Eagles and Redskins.
JC: Eagles/Eagles
TH: Eagles/Giants

West:

I’ve picked the 9ers through and through.  The Rams don’t look bad and the Cardinals look like a tough team to beat but after beating arguably two of the top 4 teams in the NFC in back to back weeks I can’t find any reason why the 9ers won’t roll.

JC: 49ers/49ers
TH: 49ers/49ers

Wild Card:

There are going to be a lot of hard games and a lot of teams at 8-8 shooting for the wild card position.  But ultimately I think it’ll be the Cardinals and Lions.

JC: Giants/Lions (Preseason)
JC: Cardinals/Lions (Regular Season pick)
TH: Lions/Saints (Preseason)
TH: Cardinals/Cowboys (Regular Season pick)

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