Archive for September, 2013

Big opportunity for Tom Brady's former backup on Sunday

Big opportunity for Tom Brady’s former backup on Sunday

Well, we are under 24 hours away from the NFL returning to play its 7th annual regular season game in London, England, and I am excited, despite both visiting teams being winless.

The biggest storylines are going to be the performance of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel, making his first start for an NFC franchise, and his first appearance for his third NFL team.

For the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers the headlines will be dominated by former Michigan State rookie running back Le’Veon Bell, who will be making his regular season debut. The Steelers are 0-3 for a number of reasons, but perhaps the biggest is the abysmal rbbc (running back by committee) approach by Pittsburgh.

There is a lot of expectation on Bell to become the next big Steelers tailback, but he has a long long way to go before he can even shine the shoes of former Pittsburgh running back Franco Harris, a Super Bowl winner who was in London today to take part in the festivities on Regents Street.

Common wisdom says the game tomorrow will be a high scoring affair, as both teams have superstar defenders (Jared Allen for the Vikes and Troy Polamalu for the Steel Men), but this is a team game, and the 11 starting defensive players for both teams are simply not collectively two of the better units in the game.

Some players I will be paying extra special attention to include;

  • Steelers tight-end Heath Miller. The Vikings have been slayed by big athletic tight-ends (Martellus Bennett and Jordan Cameron) and I don’t see too much changing tomorrow; and
  • Vikings rookie wide-receiver Coradelle Patterson. With a return touchdown already under his belt in just 180 NFL minutes this is one guy who could find an immediate spark with veteran quarterback Matt Cassel.

Prediction

I am going to be a Vikings fan for the day, not because Minnesota are the ‘home’ team, but because I will be meeting a friend from Minnesota for the first time. These are dark days for the Pittsburgh Steelers and it is not the time to expect a rookie running back to shoulder the load. Adrian Peterson is not human, he is built from the same stuff as the Terminator, and I see him gunning down the Steelers for four quarters.

Vikings 27-10 Steelers

2 rushing tds from AP and a Kyle Rudolph catch for Minny and a consolation Jerrico Cotchery td from Big Ben Roethlisberger. AP to be leading rusher, Antonio Brown to lead in receiving yards. Jared Allen to get one sack Рdriven by his lovely mullet.

See you all there on Sunday – and Scott the first round is on me !

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A picture I took from the last NFL game I attended in London (2010)

A picture I took from the last NFL game I attended in London (2010)

It has taken a few years to say the least but I am now starting to mix in some more influential NFL circles….well almost.

I was approached by USA Today’s London based reporter Kim Hjelmgaard by email earlier this week to see if I would offer my opinion on the NFL in London and the game this weekend. Kim had found my blog which made me very proud considering it is non-commercial and I have written every word of copy on it myself.

Kim asked me a number of questions, none any surprise, and she even looked me up on Linked In – where I have a minimal but functional profile.

I was told the article would appear on the USA Today website today, and lo and behold when I got back from work this afternoon I checked my recently downloaded USA Today app (a very easy to navigate and user-freindly app) and there was the article that I featured in.

Was very proud to think that some people will read the quotes that Kim decided were worthy for her article.

To read the full article CLICK HERE.

See you in London on Sunday – I’ll be wearing my white #81 Art Monk shirt. If you spot me come and say hello.

One little extra bonus on Sunday will be meeting a virtual friend for the first time. I run a few web based NFL game leagues and this chap Scott is a Minnesota native. I just hope I spot him as he will be one of hundreds of people wearing an Adrian Peterson Vikings jersey.

He told me that he had some Fish n Chips today near Liverpool Street Station – now all he needs to do is have a Doner Kebab with extra chilli sauce and he is in the club.

Two 0-3 teams going nowhere - oh wait going to London this week

Two 0-3 teams going nowhere – oh wait going to London this week

The Steel Curtain prevailing over the Purple People Eaters – no not the name of two fantasy football teams that squared-off on Sunday, these were two of the most dominating defenses in NFL history.

For the Steel Curtain, a Pittsburgh Steelers team led by the likes of Mean ‘Joe’ Greene, there were four Super Bowl wins. For the Purple People Eaters there were an equal number of Super Bowl contests fought, but for the Minnesota Vikings no wins.

That was the 1970s when sideburns ruled and disco dancing was the thing you did on a Saturday night.

Fast forward to the 21st century and these two teams are again under the media magnifying glass, but this time it is for two reasons, and neither of them are anything remotely to do with winning football games.

The 0-3 Steelers travel to London this Sunday to lock horns with the 0-3 Minnesota Vikings, in the first of two, yes two regular season NFL contests being played on this side of the pond.

Both teams sit at the foot of their respective divisions, having failed to muster a victory between them in six contests.

The Vikings, the home team in London, have conceded 31 or more points in each of their losses, and the Steelers have managed to score just 42 points in three games. The Denver Broncos managed 49 in their FIRST game of the season.

When I saw the two games announced last year that were to be played in London this year, the other being the San Francisco 49ers against the London…I mean Jacksonville Jaguars, I was like the majority of UK and European fans, most excited about seeing the six-time Super Bowl winning Pittsburgh Steelers play the Minnesota Vikings.

I did think at the time that the Steelers were on a downward slide, after two Super Bowl wins in the last 7 years (2006 and 2009) and an additional Super Bowl loss in 2011. No team in this modern age of free agency can sustain winning and winning big for such a long period.

I also thought that it would be amazing to see Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, the leading rusher in the NFL in 2012, live in front of me, just two hours away from where I live. I had a bad feeling he would be injured before the game, but thankfully he made it through a week 3 loss against the Cleveland Browns in one piece.

One thing is certain on Sunday, one team will be travelling back over the pond with their first win of the 2013 season, and one team will have reached the quarter mark of the season with no wins and a rather embarrassing 0-4 record.