The way too soon, season prediction. Part 5

Alright Card fans, this is a very important three game stretch for us and it will have big time playoff implications. As it sits now I have us at 9-2, but best case 10-1 and worst case 7-4 are both possibilities.

So in the event the the worst case does happen and we can rattle off three in a row here we will still be an 11 win team at worst.

This is not me walking any of my predictions back, but I just want to talk about a few end of season scenarios that could play out. I think that with the three wins that I am about to predict, we will be in the driver seat to win the division.

If you are wondering what the heck I am talking about go back to Part 1 and catch up with us.

Cardinals 27- Redskins 14

Kirk Cousins and Josh Norman make the trip to Arizona and will leave the Grand Canyon State disappointed. I think that both are very good players, but our defense is playing with fire after coming off a tough loss in Atlanta and they take it to the Redskins early. If I didn’t have as much respect for Cousins as I do, I might predict that they don’t score a touchdown.

I think that Palmer does a good job protecting the ball and finds Larry for a pair of touchdowns as our running game continues to be one of the best in the league.

The conversation of Harold Goodwin being a head coach next year really starts to intensify after this win.

Cardinals 24- Dolphins 10

I am going to predict that I will be going to this game. It is over my birthday weekend and if I put this into the universe it just might happen. The Cards will not disappoint on this trip.

The weather might be windy and or rainy, but our ground attack will be the difference again. I think this is a game where we are reminded just how explosive Andre Ellington is and he may score on special teams as well as the passing game.

Arian Foster could give us some trouble, but the depth of our defensive line will have us at peak performance at this point of the year, while everyone else is nursing bumps and bruises.

Cardinals 35- Saints 20

This is a high scoring affair with the Cards never really in trouble, but the Saints will keep it interesting throughout. They have a very potent offense with Drew Brees and Mark Ingram, but their defense is still expected to be one of the worst in the league. The 35 points we put up on their D will be more about how bad they are rather than how good we are.

Carson again has one of those games that gives us hope that he is everything we need him to be for this to be a special year. Alright everyone, one more post to go. We are at 12-2 with two games left in the regular season.

We are in command of the division, but like last year chasing the Panthers. I will try to cover a couple of the scenairos that could be happening as we are getting ready to head into the playoffs.

#LongBall

The way too soon, season prediction. Part 4

Alright, we are back after the Cardinals bye week and we have three very winnable games in front of us. I would love to see us come out of this stretch standing at 10-1, but I am afraid that is not going to happen.

You can check out the first part of this series here to catch up with us in this post, where I pick up in week 10.

Now for the predictions.

Cardinals 38- 49ers 10

This is an easy win at home against a division opponent. They are not very good and Chip Kelly likes to have his own players in his system and he has not been able to make that happen yet with this roster.

The 49ers are over-matched at every position and we will be able to take advantage coming off the bye. We have seen Chip Kelly’s offense and we know the personnel very well. That is a bad combination for a team with sub-par talent.

Carson gets some confidence and our defense is upset that they even gave up 10 points to this team.

Cardinals 20- Vikings 13

This was going to be a much more difficult game with a healthy Teddy Bridgwater, but we all know what happened there. I wrote an article about Adrian Peterson being the most important non QB to a team, you can check out that post here. As important as AP is to this team, it was so much more difficult to defend the Vikings with a decent QB leading the team. Now with Sam Bradford, who has to learn a new offense again in his career and is not as big of a threat to beat you over the top, slowing down AP seems possible.

The Cardinals do struggle with this defense on the road, but the Vikings won’t be able to get much going on offense either. We do enough and win with a comfortable one touchdown difference.

Cardinals 24- Falcons 30

The Falcons are as dangerous as any team in the league. They have an improved offensive line and a committee of running backs that can hurt you in many different ways. Oh, and some guy named Julio Jones that is ranked in the top 5 in every fantasy draft I have been a part of.

The Cardinals always struggle on back to back road games, especially when the second game is on the east coast. This will be a tight game and we may even have a chance to win in the last half of the fourth quarter, but I think this is one of those games that we fall short on.

Our run game and offense look good overall, but this will be the worst of defense looks all year.

If I am right on our record at this point of the season, I will be very happy. 9-2 with three non divisional games ahead is a great place to be. We will take a commanding lead in the division and that could change how we play our last two games of the season on the road.

But here I go looking too far down the road. It will be important the Cards don’t start looking ahead at this point of the year either. 

Next I will take my shot at predicting the Redskins, Dolphins, and Saints games. 

#LongBall

The way too soon, season prediction. Part 3

Here we go. I have just over one week to complete all my predictions, so I better get to writing. Here is week seven through nine, which gives me a little bit of a break since week nine the Cardinals are off on a bye.

I think that I have been procrastinating this post since it will be the first loss that I give to the Cards, but more on that in a minute.

In part one of this series I explain some assumptions so you can refer back to that here.

Now the predictions.

Cardinals 31- Seahawks 28

This will be the second home game in a row after a tough Jets team was in town. The Seahawks have already had their bye and are coming off of a home game against the Falcons. They are going to be ready for the trip and have won in AZ for five years in a row. That streak will end this week. It will be a high scoring game despite both teams having stellar defenses.

Jimmy Graham will take advantage of some match-ups on the outside and the Cards won’t be able to make the adjustments until late. But our improved run game will wear down that very good Seahawk front seven and we win on a late drive lead by David Johnson.

Cardinals 20- Panthers 28

The Panthers, like the Seahawks, are flying high at this point of the season and we have just played two very tough defenses. The trip to the east coast makes this an even bigger challenge. I think that Palmer will have some success through the air with the absence of Josh Norman, but Cam is just too tough to stop at home. His four touchdowns will be too much to overcome.

Our defense will make some plays though. It won’t be the Cam show that he will put on most teams this year. He has to challenge Peterson and P2 rises to the occasion with his first interception of the year. Maybe two.

Like I said earlier, week 9 is a bye and after these last three games we have earned it. Now let’s hope the Cards get back into our winning ways and build some momentum going into the back half of the schedule.

Let’s go Cards.

#LongBall

The way too soon, season prediction. Part 2

The second installment of my predictions for the 2016 cardinals season will cover games four through six and give you my thoughts for what to expect in each game.

Just like the first post, we will start with a couple of assumptions that I am making to create this breakdown. The Cardinals will stay relatively healthy. No injuries to the nine guys that made the most recent NFL top 100 list or who play thin position groups like cornerback or O-line. But, I am making that assumption for all of our opponents as well.

Cardinals 24 – Rams 10

The Rams always play the division tough and have caused most of the season ending injuries to the Cardinals in recent years. This game will start slow as both teams are more than familiar with each other, but the Cardinals are the better team so they will pull away late in the second and early in the third quarter.

Carson Palmer will throw an interception, but he will have a good game against one of our division rivals. This will also be a rough game for A.Q. Shipley going up against Aaron Donald, but the run game will be able to convert a couple critical third and short situations.

The Rams will not be able to move the ball on us much. Todd Gurley will put up decent numbers, but won’t break the 100 yard mark and we win this game easily.

Cardinals 40 – Niners 17

The second division game of the year for us and the first on the road. We have always been comfortable in Levi’s stadium and will be again. The Niners do not have the fire power on offense or anything that worries me on offense. We won’t overlook a division opponent and will take it to them.

Regardless of who they have under center, they won’t be able to move the ball until garbage time in the fourth quarter.

Carson has his best game yet and has a clean pocket all game. This will be the game that everyone points out to say what is possible if we protect Carson and give him time to throw.

Cardinals 27 – Jets 20

This is going to be a smash mouth football game. Todd Bowles will have his defense ready and they are talented. Revis island will take away an entire side of the field, but our tight ends and running backs will be the difference.

The Cardinals will have to convert again on some of those huge third and short situations and play nearly perfect in the red zone. We have to come up with points on every trip inside the Jets 25 yard line. This will be a tough game for D.J. Humphries, but he will grow during this match-up with the front seven of the Jets.

We are the better team here, but their defense and coaching will be somewhat of an equalizer.

I am excited to be 6-0 and this point with a game with our division rival coming up. Will we be able to keep our momentum or will we fail to protect the nest again? I will write my prediction soon and you can let me know if you agree.

#LongBall

Colin Kaepernick 

The entire country has been talking about a football player not standing for the National Anthem.

I have been quiet on the subject for days waiting to see what the conversation would be. On one hand, this is the largest dialogue I have seen on police brutality and people acknowledging that there is an issue. The other argument is that he took attention away from the real issue and made it about how he protested the violence.

Here is my truth. Carmelo Anthony got one mention in the news for his article, Jordan the same for his statement, the players at the ESPY’s overshadowed by John Cena’s monologue, and had the players from the Minnesota Lynx not been fined for their demonstration, they would have not been mentioned at all.

Kaep has had the news covering a real issue in our country for almost a week.

It is human nature to want people to believe and think like we do. We vote over it, we worship it and start wars over our own truths. One truth to most Americans is that the National Anthem and ceremony is sacred. Kaep made us question that and it is uncomfortable.

During the anthem at Cardinals games I watch thousands of people ordering their beer in line at the stadium, chatting with friends and being disrespectful for no reason at all. As a veteran, I am not offended by an American using his platform to peacefully protest. Maybe he should have chosen a different method to take a stand, but I can’t argue the effectiveness of starting the conversation.

#LongBall

Editors note: As this is being typed, this is the lead story on CNN.com ahead of any of the election coverage. 

The way too soon, season prediction. Part 1

Hello Cards fans. After looking at the schedule, measuring the Vegas odds, and even some fantasy projections; here is what I think is going to happen this year.

In this post I will look at the first three games of the year and I will follow up with another three game prediction shortly.

Let’s start with a couple assumptions that I am making to create this breakdown. We will stay relatively healthy. No injuries to the nine guys that made the most recent NFL top 100 list or to thin position groups like cornerback or O-line. But, I am making that assumption for all of our opponents as well.

Cardinals 23- Patriots 20

The offense has not looked like itself without John Brown stretching the field. He is going to be out of shape and out of sync when he does come back.

The Patriots D is tough even with the loss of Rob Ninkovich and will hold us to only two touchdowns. One on the ground and one through the air. But they will get an easy score themselves off of a bad Palmer turnover.

The three Catanzaro field goals will be the difference even if he does miss one of his tries.

Cardinals 31- Bucs 17

The Cardinals have a week under their belt and are a little more balanced in their attack. Both Johnsons will score on the ground and Palmer will throw a pair of touchdown passes. One may be to a running back, but a pass non the less.

The Bucs are outmatched and their front seven is better than in the past, but they are not ready for our road grading O-line.

Jameis Winston will throw a beautiful pass for a score, but will make enough boneheaded plays that his team will be out of the game by the second quarter. BA won’t be happy with how we finish.

Cardinals 20- Bills 13

Low scoring affair with two very good defenses slugging it out. We are lucky to have drawn this cold weather road game so early in the season. We will look bad on the east coast like we have in the past, but our D will win this game for us and bring us back home 3-0.

Honeybadger gets back into form against a team that likes to throw to the slot and people will start talking early about the DPOY race after this game. Catanzaro will have another miss outside in the wind.

I expect a fast start to this season like we have had for the last two seasons. Our D will be slightly ahead of the offense at this point of the year, but I think that will change as we go on.

I will follow up with games four through six in a couple days, but will have all 16 games before the start of week one.

Let me know if you guys would like to see predictions for any other teams.

#LongBall

Tragically Hip

This week, while I was traveling in Toronto and North Bay, Ontario there has been talk of a national event. It has been mentioned on every radio station that I have listened to, talked about by our tour guide, and pop up t-shirt carts have started selling commemorative apparel. It is not for hockey and it is not one the biggest MMA fights in the world and it is not for the Olympics. It is for a band. 

The Tragically Hip are playing their last concert ever in their hometown Kingston and it will be on multiple broadcast television channels. Lead singer Gord Downie has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and will be saying farewell to the stage tonight. 

I have been trying to wrap my head around a band’s farewell concert being broadcast equivalent to the way we broadcast the President’s State of the Union address on CBS, ABC, Fox and NBC in the States. 

The Tragically Hip are a national treasure in Canada. They have been around since the 80’s and without reaching fame in the US they have reached ultimate celebrity in the Great North. 

From my American perspective their level of stardom is mind blowing. I have yet to pass a bar that is not advertising a viewing party  for the Hip on the same night as UFC 202 and Canadians love MMA. I have even heard it called Tragically Hip Day, but I have not confirmed that. 

In the States we have been blessed with thousands and thousands of world class musicians and it would be impossible to call one our national band. 

I was trying to think of any band, if hit with the type of tragedy as the Hip is faced with, would garner this much national attention. Enough to cause a major network to change their programming and air their performance live.

Here is the list that I was able to come up with after some conversations with friends. 

Maroon 5: After hitting the national stage with their first album “Songs About Jane” and Adam Lavine staring in The Voice he could probably draw the attention of NBC with his relationship with the network. I am not sure that they have been around long enough to demand multiple networks covering the show.

Aerosmith: Even without playing a show together for years. If something were to happen to Steven Tyler it would draw the nation’s attention. Like Adam Lavine, Tyler may be able to draw the network he already has a relationship with, but I don’t think it would be covered on multiple channels. 

Bon Jovi: The east coast might come to a complete stop if something happened to Bon Jovi and he was forced to play only one last show. I am not sure it would be as detrimental to California as New York and Jersey. 

Beyoncé: I know she is not technically a band, but it would change the feel of the music industry, the way that Michael or Prince’s passing did. She might be one that is loved enough to get a farewell tour broadcast nationally.

Justin Timberlake: This is the one. Being from Memphis and living in LA, JT has coast to coast appeal. His appearances on SNL and roles in movies transcends him beyond his music career. But a farewell concert would draw as well or better than a Super Bowl. 

That is my list. I would love to hear yours. Once you get past the morbid thought of giving your favorite performers brain cancer, it is an interesting conversation to have with your friends. 

#LongBall

The Legend Of: Jerry Colangelo 

With Olympics in full swing and the US Men’s National Basketball Team a center piece of the United States’ dominant presence in Rio, I thought it would be a good time to talk about my guy, Jerry Colangelo.

I don’t know many people outside of Arizona or absolute basketball fanatics that even know the name, but he has had a major impact in our sports landscape.

I was introduced to Colangelo as the understated, but supremely respected owner of the Phoenix Suns. He was the man behind the Charles Barkley era and one of only two finals appearances in the team’s history.

This was an amazing time to be a Suns fan with a new arena in downtown Phoenix and Colangelo’s paint the valley purple marketing taking over the city.

I remember my mom selling Suns themed gift baskets and teddy bears to her friends. Business was booming during the championship run, but ended quickly when John Paxson hit that game winner at the end of game 6. My dad even took me to the arena for an away game where Colangelo opened up the stadium for us to watch the game on the jumbo trons. I don’t know how many teams were doing this in 1993, but it seemed genius to me at the time.

Now if this is where the story ended this would not be a tale of legend, but in fact the opposite because the next move that he made was to sell the team to an ownership group that included Robert Sarver. Sarver would be the worst owner in the league, if it didn’t already have some racist and genuinely crazy old guys.

But the Colangelo legend doesn’t end there. He brought baseball to the valley in 1998. I was in junior high and remember the newspaper front page showing the purple and teal uniforms with the moniker of the Diamondbacks. I was stoked. I didn’t really follow baseball, but had an affinity for the Yankees (I know but I was a kid and they were always winning). But now that we had our own team, I was 100% on board.

It was only a few years later that I remember watching Game 7 of the World Series with my future wife. Jesse Maguire played the national anthem on the trumpet, a B2 stealth bomber did the fly over and we were playing the Yankees.

It was the bottom of the 9th and Luis Gonzalez hit a blooper over Derek Jeter’s head as Jay Bell and his wire-framed glasses scored the game winning run.

Colangelo had brought a championship to Phoenix. Our first and only championship in any of the four major sports. Sure we have been dominate in arena football (Colangelo also owned this team from 1992-2005) and have since had some pretty good women’s basketball played here, but it still stands as our lone beacon of hope.

Again Colangelo sold the team to an ownership group that has not been able to duplicate the success that he had.

In 2005, Colangelo was asked to help take over the US Men’s Basketball Team. The team had not won a major international tournament since the year 2000. With now real leadership and guidelines, the team had believed that they could just show up and win in the Olympics. Colangelo’s first move was to bring in Coach K. This helped him secure the top talent in the NBA to participate and he also made it mandatory that players join the program for the smaller FIBA tournaments to be included on the Olympic roster.

It has obviously worked. We are undefeated since then and by the end of this Olympics will have won three gold medals.

Locally in Phoenix he took over and restored the bankrupt Wigwam resort, a local treasure that has been in the west valley of Phoenix since just after World War I.

He has also taken a major role in Grand Canyon University with sponsoring their sports marketing program and helping them to obtain Division One status for their basketball program that is coached by Thunder Dan Majerle.

Phoenix and our entire sports culture would look extremely different without Colangelo’s experience and leadership. Recently, the Philadelphia 76ers recognized his leadership and have brought him in as a consultant to help rebuild that team.

After all of this, I think I am still mad at him for selling the Suns. But, when asked why he has not helped the struggling Suns as he is with Philadelphia he had a pretty clear answer, “I was not asked.”

#TheLegendOf

#LongBall

The Legend Of: Pat Tillman

It was hard for me to decide how best to approach this article. Pat Tillman is a legend and a hero across the country. But what he has meant to the state of Arizona is immeasurable. How do you capture that kind of life with words on a screen? I can’t, but if there is a story worth telling over and over, it is this one.

I am a huge football fan and no secret that I have a love for the Cardinals that some would describe as unhealthy. I am not a big fan of ASU athletics, but as a Phoenix native and my wife being an alumni, they have been something I am more than familiar with.

This is how I learned about Pat Tillman. For a few hours a week, I would watch him work. How he handled himself on the sidelines and sprinted on and off the field regardless of circumstance. The announcers constantly touting his academic prowess as well as his hard hitting attitude.

From my perspective, the best way to describe the Pat Tillman I watched, is an underrated star. Even as he was coming out of high school where he was great and helped lead his team to a division I title. He was told he was too small to play at the next level. Not only did he play, but he excelled and not at a small Division 2 school, but a major PAC-10 (at the time) school. Of course as he ended his college career he was not high on many teams draft boards and once again was told he was too small to play at the pro level.

But again, Pat defied his critics and was drafted by the Cardinals keeping the local star in the valley, but as the seventh round pick he was not ensured of even making the roster. He continued to fly around and make plays like he always had in high school and college, and so he made the roster.

However, making the roster also meant he would be buried on the depth chart and never see the field, but that changed quickly getting 10 starts in his rookie season.  In 2001 he set a team record with 224 tackles in a single season.

This is where the story becomes legend. Many players have silenced doubters and overcome long odds to make it to the NFL. But Pat Tillman truly was unique. He was more introspective and intellectual than he was jock or brute. He didn’t let football define who he was or who he was going to be. After the Cardinals were set to extend his existing rookie contract to give him millions of dollars, Pat walked away. He walked away from a career that millions of people envy, to join the military.

In the wake of September 11th Pat Tillman was inspired. He wanted something bigger and more meaningful than playing a game on Sundays.

Pat told a reporter, “At times like this you stop and think about just how good we have it, what kind of system we live in, and the freedoms we are allowed. A lot of my family has gone and fought in wars and I really haven’t done a damn thing.”

Joining the military or Army doesn’t really describe what he did though. Pat was an Army Ranger. He wanted to be on the front lines with his brother Kevin that joined with him to fight for our country. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting for the freedoms that he cherished.

Pat was shot and killed by friendly fire on April 22nd of 2004. I was sworn into the Air Force 6 days after that on April 28th, 2004. The news didn’t reach me until a few months later after I had completed basic training and technical school in Texas. I was home assisting my local recruiter before heading to my permanent duty station in Las Vegas when I remember thinking about the tragedy and how it could have been different. The coward in me was thankful that I picked the Air Force. For the most part, I would be safe from that type of firefight in a canyon in the Middle East that took Pat’s life. At the time I found out, it was not disclosed that it was friendly fire and speculation  of an attempt to cover up the incident by high ranking Army officials was rumored, but it didn’t matter to me.

What I knew was the guy I grew up watching and admiring was gone. In the service of his country and all that he held dear, he gave the ultimate sacrifice. Pat was a hero the day that he swore this oath;

 “I, Pat Tillman, having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of Second Lieutenant do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.”

But out of this tragedy his legend grew. He lives on through the Pat Tillman Foundation, the annual Pat’s Run, the PT42 mantra adopted by ASU football, but most importantly his family.

I am really looking forward to watching “A Football Life: Pat Tillman” airing October 28th of this year. I think this story is worth remembering and worth retelling to our kids and their kids and their kids.

Thank you Pat.

#TheLegendOf

#LongBall

The Legend Of: Micheal Phelps

This is the first installment of a series that I am calling the #TheLegendOf. I will cover world class sports figures that I have been able to watch and enjoy in my lifetime.

With the news tonight of Michael Phelps getting his 22nd gold medal, I thought starting with him would be fitting.

Darren Rovell put it fantastically in a recent tweet.

16 years ago, the 2000 Olympiad Michael Phelps splashed onto the scene (Sorry about that, I couldn’t help myself). He was a 15 year old kid that still had braces on his bottom teeth. He finish fifth place in the 200m butterfly.

His teammate and gold medal winner of that event patted Phelps on the back and told him, “The best is ahead of you,” according to “No Limits,” one of Phelp’s autobiographies.

I don’t think the man that beat him that day had any idea how much was still ahead of Phelps.

He is now the most decorated Olympian of all time.

He has the most overall medals, the most gold medals and the most individual wins of any competitor ever,  beating out Leonidis of Rhodes from 152 BCE. The previous 2168 year old record fell to our 6’4″ tall (but only 32 inch inseam) canoe of a man in 2016. Phelps has as more medals than 84 different countries. Morocco is tied with him at 22 gold medals and they have competed in 13 different Olympiads.

Phelps has a beautiful wife and adorable baby with him in Rio. He can walk away now and will be remembered as the greatest of all time and he should. There is nothing left to prove. No mountain to climb and nothing but the future in front of him.

Now, not to be a downer, but…

I would throw any of these accomplishments into the most unbreakable records of all time with Brett Farve’s career wins and Cal Ripkin’s Iron Man records. But the standout of them all is a young girl named Katie Ledeke.

That is how good she is. In an article that is meant to show the greatness of the best swimmer to ever walk on this earth; Ledeke has a shot to top her teammate Phelps and I will be writing an article about her legend in 16 years.

#TheLegendOf

#LongBall