Archive for February, 2013

Time to get NFL 'App'y

Time to get NFL ‘App’y

I stand corrected, the NFL offseason is not a deadzone as I reported in my last post, its full of thrills and spills of drafting, free-agency and the underwear Olympics.

For those of you who actually miss NFL games as opposed to watching men running around the RCA Dome in spandex, hotly pursued by a Prada suit wearing Rich Eisen, then for those of you with smart-phones I have some trivial relief.

Like many millions of people around the globe I find it hard to live without an iPod, and only recently I actually got my first iPhone.

I waited until the monthly bill was well under £30 before I took the plunge (thanks to Carphone Warehouse in Solihull) and got an iPhone.

I do have quite a tight grip on app spending, and have to admit I haven’t paid for an app for about two years. I love to check the Free app charts each week, and I download whatever is gratis, give it a try and then keep or delete depending if I see any value.

Bearing in mind I tend to play on apps on the bus or train too and from work it has been great to finally be able to play web-based apps whilst commuting now I have an iPhone.

So to anyone new to an iPhone and wondering what I have downloaded, here are some of my favourite apps that have direct or indirect NFL association.

My most used app – Tune in Radio (cost of download FREE)

As a Redskins fan nothing beats listening live to ESPN 980 – the home of Redskins radio. Having an app where I can listen to any sports talk radio station in America is pretty damn cool. Every weekend in fact I get up early with our 16 month old daughter so that my wife gets a well deserved lie-in. After watching some CBeebies I take my daughter to the kitchen for breakfast and we listen to ‘The Sporting Life’ on ESPN 980, which is a national ESPN radio networked show. There is normally a tear-jerking feature about an athlete who has suffered either injury, adversity, or a death to a close family member or friend. It gets me weeping into the Rice Krispies every time.

 

My favourite apps of the new year so far – NFL All-Stars Collection, NFL Shuffle and NFL Matchups (all FREE to download)

I love collecting NFL trading cards and first fell in love with collecting cards when I was a teenager in the 1990s. I was then introduced to the world of Ebay in about 2002, and I won my first NFL card auction soon after, a rookie card featuring 2001 Heisman Trophy winning QB Eric Crouch which had a piece of leather football built into the card.

My card collecting has been put on hold with a new addition to the family in 2011, so I was very happy to find three different NFL card collecting games all available as free apps. NFL All-Stars Collection, NFL Shuffle and NFL Matchups are all similar in nature. You get a free card or cards every day you log-in, you get bonuses for consecutive days logging in and you build up your team by developing the players that are the rarest or most valuable. You can of course pay real money to get prime time player packs in all of the games, but so far I have resisted spending any money on any of the three apps apart from my wi-fi connection. I would say download all three and give them a try, you will likely find one you bond with. My favourite of the three is NFL Matchups as I love to see a player ‘evolve’, which is where you combine two of the same cards to build a better version of the player, depicted by a dual image card.

Best NFL app during the season – ESPN Score Centre (FREE to download)

This is great on an iPod, but absolutely fantastic on an iPad, as you get an image of the two players if there is a passing play, and the stats and drive information are just superior to anything offered by NFL.com. The whole interface is slicker than a greased hog at the Texas State Fair, and the bonus is you can follow all the American sports you love. Being able to slide between games on a touch screen is very satisfying and also a great way to track your fantasy team players as they either light it up for three scores or have a 15 carry for 27 yards and a fumble kind of day.

More app musings to come soon. What NFL/American Football based apps do you recommend – either free or paid for?

And Mingo was his name-o

And Mingo was his name-o

It’s the dead-zone, the time between the Super Bowl and the NFL Draft.

It’s painful for NFL addicts like me as there is no real news, just speculation, conjecture and endless reams of pre-Draft analysis.

Well if you can’t beat ’em why not join ’em, so here is my first little pre-Draft vignette.

Now there have been some crazy named players in the NFL in my lifetime, from Yancey Thigpen to Peerless Price (named after his Mum saw the name Peerless on a removal truck).

LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo takes the scooby snack as the greatest name ever in my opinion.

Marketing agencies will be salivating worse than a deserted dog in the desert, lining up the likes of an online gambling site called ‘Mingo Bingo’ and ringing up canine cuisine providers to pitch ‘Bark’evious dog biscuits as they crunch the loudest.

Mingo enters the 2013 NFL Draft as a junior, having only started 15 games in the past three seasons. He has averaged a sack a game in those starts, and he did play in the 2011-12 BCS Championship loss to Alabama.

At 6ft5 and 240lbs Mingo is the sort of ultra-fit bendy body that NFL teams will hope turns into the next Jason Pierre-Paul. With 27 quarterback pressures in his college career and four forced fumbles KeKe (as he is affectionately known) is well versed in wreaking havoc in opponents backfields.

Looking at the first round of the 2013 draft Mingo has the potential to go as early as #3 (Raiders) or #4 (Eagles), but will likely go between 6th and 10th. He is clearly not the most decorated defensive end, and by the time he puts on an NFL uniform he could be converted to outside linebacker, a move he has said he would embrace with open arms (ginormous muscly ones that is).

I can’t wait to see Mingo plying his trade in the NFL, even if it is just to hear colour analysts say “…and with a real fly in his ear is Mingo, his merciless pursuit of the quarterback showing what dogged determination he has…”

My MVP - and now a record holder and Super Bowl winner Jacoby Jones.

My MVP – and now a record holder and Super Bowl winner Jacoby Jones.

Beyonce was told at  least five times not to plug in her hair-dryer in the third quarter, but she simply didn’t listen, as the world watched NFL athletes sitting and stretching all over the field.

The power cut that will go down in history was simply not enough to stop the Baltimore Ravens as they overcame all the odds to go from Wild-Card warriors to Super Bowl champions in the early hours of the morning today.

Inevitably it was the quarterback on the winning team that won the Most Valuable Player, in this instance Joe Flacco, but it was Jacoby Jones the Ravens wide receiver that was the TRUE gamebreaker.

His combination of smarts and speed were the difference in Ray Lewis walking into the sunset with two pieces of bling and not just the one.

Yes I do have a sweet tooth.

Yes I do have a sweet tooth.

Just about 7 hours to go until kickoff in NOLA as it is affectionately known and everything is in place.

Everyone has Super Bowl traditions I am sure, and I have to confess I am no different.

Ever since I watched my first Super Bowl (XXI Giants beating Broncos in 1987) I have always done the following:

– Bought a can of Pepsi, a bag of peanut M and Ms, a Snickers (back in the day called a Marathon) and a bag of Beef crisps. Back then in the 80’s Beef crisps were common place, nowadays they don’t exist so I have replaced them with Doritos and added some toffee popcorn.

– I will move the sofa from it’s normal position to right in front of the tv, lining up some small tables in front of me with the food and drink so I don’t miss a second.

– Most importantly I make sure I book the Monday off work. I am sure there are millions who simply report in sick to manage the late night and a potential hangover, but I don’t drink much but do need some sleep.

– I put on a few bets, see my previous blog post.

A few things have changed. With a 16 month old daughter I cannot listen to the game loud on surround sound, instead I have a wire that links my earphones to the back of the tv.

Also here in England we have two channel choices when it comes to watching the Super Bowl tonight. BBC HD with no adverts and the cult (carefully spelt) Mike Carlson, or Sky HD with former Eagles fullback Cecil Martin (who has the biggest hands I have ever seen). I think I will record both and watch the game on the BBC tonight, after all we don’t get the legendary American adverts.

Now all I have to contest with is clearing enough room on my Sky+ box to record both channels.

For all 49ers and Ravens fans I hope your team wins, as for the neutrals I hope the game is played in the spirit of many recent Super Bowls, and that we have a close game, full of twists and turns, and maybe the crowning of a new hero.

The party will begin in my household around 7pm when I put our daughter to bed. Time for the potato skins and jalapeno poppers to go in the oven, and for a chilled Bud to make its way down my parched throat.

To all NFL fans around the world enjoy Super Bowl XLVII as it is a long long time until competitive football returns to our screens.

And if you see anyone kissing their bicep on the bus or the tube tomorrow morning during the commuter rush then you can simply wink back!

 

My sneaky first touchdown bet - rookie Lamichael James

My sneaky first touchdown bet – rookie Lamichael James

I’m not normally a betting man. In fact I only venture into the bookies twice a year, once for the Grand National and once for the Super Bowl.

I have had a few big Super Bowl winning payouts, but really any gambling undertake is simply for fun and I expect to win nothing.

I’ve put on five bets this year with only four that’s can possibly reap rewards.

Most Valuable Player

Michael Crabtree (20-1) 49ers wide receiver. Crabtree is very clearly Colin Kaepernick’s number omen target and Ravens cornerbacks are good but not All Pro standard. Wide receivers have won MVP awards in recent memory, and whilst it’s all about the quarterback, Crabtree has been a true crutch for three months. I have to laugh as I got 20-1 on Friday, just checked online Saturday night and Crabtree is now 16-1 with the same firm.

Ed Reed (66-1) Ravens safety. This is my outside bet for sure. Ray Lewis already has an MVP award, so if the Ravens D pull it out the bag it could be Reed who does the biggest damage. Reed is a turnover monster, and say he gets two interceptions, one being a pick=six then this could be a reality. Unlikely, but hey if you don’t speculate you certainly won’t accumulate.

First Touchdown Scorer

Frank Gore (7-1) 49ers running back or Lamichael James (25-1) 49ers running back. Now sods law says that because I have bet on either the number one or number two San Francisco running back to score first that either the Ravens take the opening kickoff and return it for a touchdown or Colin Kaepernick scores on the ground first himself. The first td scorer really has no true science to it, as there are far too many things that could happen. I have gone 49ers ground game because I rate the 49ers offensive line as one of the top units in the NFL. If the Niners try to establish the run early they will give the rock to Gore, who is capable of 8 carries in a single drive. Rookie James, the former Oregon Duck, has chosen the right time to be injury free and has some major grease in his wheels. Fantasy football fans hate touchdown vultures, those players who come in for the score after the rest of the team has left body parts on the field in an energy sapping drive, arise sir Lamichael James flying through the air like a vulture*/duck* (*=delete as applicable).

Winning margin

Now this may offend any Ravens fans, so apologies in advance, but I have gone for the 49ers to win by 13-18 (7-1). My actual score prediction is 31-17 to the 49ers. My rationale for this score is as follows. I see the first half being cagey with both teams trying to establish the run and get the tight-ends involved to get outside linebackers a bit spooked into contemplating the virtues of prolific blitzing. I have it 17-10 to the 49ers at half-time on the back of a Gore run and something like a Delanie Walker or Bruce Miller catch.

I then have the 49ers defense coming out of the locker room having learnt how to contain the Ravens deep passing, getting an early third quarter Flacco interception. From there 24-10 behind a second Gore run. Flacco to then make it interesting with a big drive of his own ending in an Anquan Boldin score. I then see Kaepernick and the ball control offense putting the nail in the coffin mid-way through the final period with an Anthony Dixon plunge. Flacco to mount a late comeback but turn the ball over again.

OK this is all in my head and about as likely to happen as Alex Smith throwing the winning score in double overtime, but betting is no science, its a bit of fun, and win or lose it always makes my Super Bowl viewing that bit tastier, alongside my big ol’ bowl of toffee popcorn and peanut M and M’s.

Anyone else got any predictions?