Archive for December, 2010

Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys – Andy vs David – It’s War.

Throw out the records. Throw out everything that has happened in the season so far. In the early hours of Monday morning, one of the biggest and nastiest rivalries in the NFL steps up for its next installment, as the Philadelphia Eagles travel to the Dallas Cowboys. This match-up sparks off a major rivalry in the towers of AGS(N) as well, as two of our three writers do battle. Each think their team can do the business come one in the morning, and here they discuss why:

David – The Cowboys Fan.


Ah, the Eagles. There is not a single team in the NFL I dislike more. For years, the face of Donovan McNabb has made me want to vomit in my mouth. When he leaves, what do you do to make me dislike your team more? Replace him with Michael Vick. Yeah, yeah, rehabilitation, he’s changed, blah, blah. I personally would love nothing better than to stuff the Eagles, halt the Vick/MVP talk and give Jason Garrett his fourth win in five since taking over from Waddlin’ Wade Phillips on Sunday night. I know we can, and here’s four reasons why.

 

1) Jason Garrett Has The Team On A High.


Last week the Dallas Cowboys, a team beginning the season 1-7, defeated the Superbowl runners-up Indianapolis Colts in their own backyard in a quite astonishing victory. Only a narrow defeat to the Saints has spoiled Garrett’s record as head coach, and the ‘Boys are riding high on confidence. Coming into their home stadium with a very, very partisan crowd behind them, they will need no inspiration to play their very best football against the Eagles on Sunday night.

 

2) If They Cowboys Run, Vick Stays Off The Field.


The Cowboys rushing game, amongst other facets of their play, stood in a horrendous state under the Wade Phillips regime. However, in the last four games under Garrett, the Cowboys have run for as many yards as they did in their last eight. Even Tashard Choice, scorned ever since his opening day fumble against the Redskins, picked up 100 yards in 19 carries against the Colts as part of the 219 yards the entire team picked up. If the Cowboys can run, they can keep the Eagles’ biggest threat in Michael Vick, off the field and frustrated. All of this whilst trying to turn the Eagles’ run defence back to their shaky ways of the opening four weeks of the season.

 

3) No Asante Samuel.


Whilst I should be focusing on the Cowboys’ positives as opposed to the Eagles’ weaknesses, the loss of pick-machine Asante Samuel for Sunday’s game will undoubtably harm the Eagles. John Kitna is far from the most reliable of quarterbacks, and with six interceptions in his last five games, Samuel could have made quite a difference to the Eagles defence come Sunday.

 

4) Vick v Ware.


Michael Vick has been the shining light in the Eagles offense this season, despite not even being available for all of it. He has broken all sorts of records and will, no doubt, relish coming up against a Cowboys secondary giving up all kinds of yards through the air. However, on Sunday he comes up against DeMarcus Ware, who lives for sacks against the Eagles, with 8.5 so far in his career. Not to suggest that the Cowboys would attempt to bend the rules in roughing up Vick, but considering his slight build and previous injuries, Ware could find terrorising Vick a significant tool in gaining victory over his favourite opponent.

David Dickson.


Andy – The Eagles Fan

Any game with an NFC East rival is vicious. Theres always more than the ‘W’ at stake.

Now, the Redskins & Giants – big games, sure. But playing the Cowboys…well that’s a whole different animal.

There isn’t a team in the NFL that I enjoy watching lose more than Dallas. One of my favourite games of the last few years was Eagles/Cowboys in week 17 of the 2008 season. We won, 44-6. Total domination. Theres nothing quite like a win over your biggest rival, which is why last year for the Eagles was just not fun.

3 games against the Cowboys, 3 losses, the second of which was a 24-0 shut out. If winning agains your rival is fantastic, losing to them is painful. All 3 of those losses stung, tonight it’s time to get some pride back.

The Eagles have been the better team this year. You all saw how the Cowboys started out…After 7 weeks I had 2 easy wins chalked up. Unfortunately, they got rid of Wade Phillips and now it seems they can play football again.

But lets be honest. This isn’t a pro’s and con’s preview. This isn’t about being fair to both teams. The Eagles are going to win this game.

The Cowboys are not the same team as last year. Neither are the Eagles, for that matter. However, the Eagles are a better team, Dallas are worse. The mismatches wont be there for the Eagles this time. Dallas’ pass rush wont shut down Vick’s game. They don’t have the mobility in their secondary to keep Jackson & Maclin quiet. It’s Philadelphia that overmatch the Cowboys this time round.

We simply have too much speed. In the Vick-led offence, “stopping” the Eagles has been keeping them under 30 points. Every team has issues trying to contain McCoy, Jackson & Maclin. Dallas have no chance of shutting us down as they did almost a year ago.

One of the best things about that 44-6 crushing was seeing how we almost made Tony Romo cry. I’m honestly quite upset he’s out for the rest of the year…there isn’t a QB in the league thats more fun to rattle for Philadelphia. Still, it’ll be a win against the Cowboys all the same, and they don’t come much better than that.

Andy Stuart

Side Note- As a Titans fan, I don’t see what the fuss is about, sure the Eagles are a playoff team, but the Cowboys are a bit average without Romo, just a regulation game with some pumped up fans right? Jamie

NFL Redzone on Sky Sports: THE DEBATE.

This Thursday brought the announcement from Sky Sports that during the last three weeks of the season, the NFL RedZone channel will be shown in the 6pm slot as opposed to a complete live game, in addition to a full game at 9pm. For those not in the know, NFL RedZone flies around the league whenever the ball reaches the red-zone in a game, often switching between multiple games swiftly in an attempt to bring the viewer every touchdown, major attacking play and score.
This decision has split the NFL-viewing British public, and has even divided us here at Any Given Sunday (Night). In the blue corner, looking forward to a new way to spend Sunday evenings is David Dickson, whilst wholly disagreeing with the decision in the red corner is Jamie Cutteridge. Let’s take a look at both side of the argument:

 
FOR

 

David Dickson (Dallas Cowboys fan)

 
Now, some may argue that as a Cowboys fan, I have no business whatsoever supporting the use of the RedZone channel, especially those at the humiliation-fest that was this year’s Wembley game. It will only bring me false hope, swiftly followed by pain with an infusion of heartbreak and embarrassment as each touchdown by say, the Jaguars, flies into the endzone.

 
Allegiances aside, however, I am fully in support of Sky’s decision to include the RedZone channel in our Sunday-night viewing package. Yes, the loss of a full game will always rub some fans up the wrong way. But as we move towards the latter part of the season, we are veritably saturated with football on Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays. We will still be able to enjoy four games a week live, whilst enjoying every single score during the tightly packed 6pm schedule. We are blessed at the moment with exceptional coverage of the sport throughout the various channels, and we should look at the positives of this decision rather than being afraid of the changes it will bring.

 
For years I have enjoyed setting up the NFL website with every score at my disposal during the early games, like an amateur Jeff Stelling in my own living room. To have an entire television slot devoted to this, with the ability to view the actual plays themselves, sounds like a dream come true. To draw on the Wembley game once again, the effect on those 80,000 people was there for everyone to see. Rather than simply showing the latest scores as in recent years, the actual video footage on the big screens at the stadium brought cheers, jeers and gasps at every interval. If this can replicate itself at home, it will be a success.

 
In addition, we have to look at the decision in context. RedZone will only be in place during the last three weeks of the season, where every score around the league has an impact on the playoff situation. Whilst watching one game will be thrilling, I believe it will be thrice as thrilling jumping between several relevant and exciting games throughout the evening. We will all be right on the button, all the time, and the playoff race will be made infinitely more exciting with its introduction.

 
Finally, this has worked before. The multi-view capacity of Sky Sports during the Champions League has worked wonders, and the best feature of the entire package is the ‘Goal Alert’ feature, allowing you to view goals as they go in, at will. RedZone essentially completes this task for the viewer, without forcing Spielberg-esque directorial skills upon the fans at home. This particularly works on a night where you have little interest in a particular team that’s playing, and just wish to watch as a neutral, and let’s face it, during the latter part of the season, a fair few of us will doing that! Cowboys fans especially. It’s not like our game would be the feature anyway…

 
…but then again, neither would Jamie Cutteridge’s Titans. Over to you Jamie!

AGAINST

Jamie Cutteridge (Tennessee Titans fan)

Redzone coverage on TV? Dear me. This IS on in the States, but only on NFL network, which doesn’t have the right to NFL games on a sunday afternoon. Your average football fan doesn’t sit down and watch that for 3 hours, but rather chooses one of the many games on other networks and watches that. Sky made the comparision with Gilette Soccer Saturday over here, and I see what they mean. But why is Gilette popular? Yes, Jeff Stelling is great (and if he was presenting Redzone maybe I would be keen) but in reality, there isn’t an option as there aren’t other games on TV. You ask the average fan and I guess they’d much rather watch a full game.

I understand why they’re doing this at this stage of the season as well. A lot of the games going on will have crucial playoff ramifications and Redzone does present a good way to keep up with multiple games. The thing is, how possible is it to keep up to date with all thats going on at once? Redzone say they can show 4 games at the same time, well I’d rather just watch one properly rather than 4 tiny screens. When I’m watching a 6PM game I like it to have all of my attention, sure, normally I have the NFL website open next to me, in the same way when I’m at a football game I keep up to date with other scores on my phone, whilst still concentrating on one game!

Part of the joy of the NFL is that you get to see a team struggling, a defense containing a top class running back, and sacking a quarter-back. In Red-zone, there’s no space for this. As fans we will be bombarded with offense-driven action, as teams pile on points, we might get to the see the odd goal-line stand, but more impressive is a defense stopping a team further upfield. I feel redzone takes away a lot of the drama as well, rather than seeing a team  start a drive from scratch, you’ll see the last parts of it, when a team has already found their rhythm, rather than scrambling for those early first down. Redzone will also not show the big plays live. The interceptions returned for touchdowns, the deep passes when the wide reciever destroys the corner back or the running back finding a gap and taking it all the way. We’ll get to see a game as points are ready to be scored, missing so much of the drama. In the same way that football fans will always prefer the drama of a full game to the nicely packaged highlights of Match of the Day, NFL fans revel in the mundanity of a 3rd down stop or the explosiveness of a big punt return.

To be honest, I feel a little bit patronised by the decision. It feels to me as if Sky are saying that we little UK-based fans can’t handle the full 3 hours of a live game (in their prime slot) and instead need to watch a watered down version of it. It doesn’t give fans any credit that maybe they have some interest in the game other than seeing Tom Brady throw one in from 15 yards. Part of what I’ve loved about the UKNFL coverage is being able to chat about the entirity of the game, and all the stuff outside of it (such as Brady’s hair) in the redzone coverage, it will merely be watching teams put points on the board. From our interaction with you guys I can fully say that UK-based NFL fans will not get enough credit in this decison, you’re dedicated and love the whole game. The first half of the Wembley game this year was amazingly low scoring with very little redzone action. Were people complaining, booing, leaving, no, becasue they realised that this sport is bigger than the 20 yard section at each end of the pitch.

In many ways, Sky’s decison serves as no more than providing a 3 hour advert for it’s full game coverage to follow. For those that have never watched NFL, it is probably an easier way in, rather than watching a full game, but rather than rewarding their loyal fanbase, Sky have made a choice to get more viewers, understandable, but at the same time, in my opinion, wrong. I’m sure Redzone will be entertaining, but so is the full match!

Others like me are still annoyed that the choice of multiple matches is no longer on the red button, in taking away another game, Sky will anger some more. And perhaps the red button is the answer here. For those that want to keep track of other games or try to get into the sport, stick it on there, for others like me, leave us alone.

I disagree with Sky’s decision and my Sunday night’s will be spent with an online stream on one window, and the NFL website on another.

That’s what we think, but what about you, please comment below with your view on Sky’s decision. Will it impact your viewing? Will you look elsewhere to watch a full game? Or have Sky made a decision that is going to enhance your sunday night? Let us know.

An Interview With…David Tuckman.

This week on Any Given Sunday (Night), we have an interview with Sky Sports NFL presenter and pundit David Tuckman. You will regularly see David debating the finer points of the game with Nick and Kevin on a Sunday evening, whilst in other areas, David covers poker on networks across the world and sits at the helm of Sky’s very-own NASCAR coverage. We spoke to David to ask him about his beloved New York Jets, his tips for the Superbowl, and his thoughts on a London franchise…

 

Welcome to Any Given Sunday (Night), David. Let’s begin by finding out about your own personal NFL background. Regular Sky viewers know you are a big Jets fan, but what path led you to support the New Yorkers, and what makes you proud to be a Jet?

My first JET game was when I was in my Mom’s womb. One of my basic rules of life: If you’re at the stadium after conception, but before birth, you kind of need to be a fan for life.

What do you think of the Jets season so far? Many predicted a fair degree of success for the team this year, but you must be pleased with how it has gone up until now?

Honestly I could write pages and pages about the Jets. I’ll keep it short. Coming into the season, the expectations were high and they had a target on their back. They were definitely setting themselves up for a letdown. They’ve responded, and with an 8-2 record, they are in good shape to make the playoffs.

They have a ton of holes that they’ll need to shore up if they want to get to where Rex believes they can go though.

What is your favourite story of the season so far? Randy Moss’ never-ending journey? The Cowboys’ self-destruction? Or something else?

My favourite story or the best story? My favourite story is the Brett Favre Saga. I feel dirty about it, but I’m kind of enjoying him go up in flames this year, probably only because I predicted it.

That and Mike Vick. I love dogs more than anyone; I had one for 11 years that I lost a little over a year ago and I’m very sensitive when it comes to animal cruelty. That being said, I’m enjoying watching Vick rebuild his life, his career and his legacy.

I think every fan has one particular play that is imprinted in their memory; that made them jump out of their seats. What is your favourite individual play of all time?

My favorite play of all time?! Wowsers, off the top of my head, I’ll go with a non-play. Dennis Byrd walking onto the field at the Meadowlands. I saw the game and the play that injured him and it still haunts me to this day. Watching him walk onto the field (I was there) was one of the most emotionally inspiring things I’ve ever seen.

On this very blog last week, we discussed the issue of a franchise in the UK. Would you support the idea? And if not, what are the major flaws in such a plan?

Of course I’d support the idea, but that doesn’t mean there still aren’t some major flaws. Most have been talked about at length. I just wonder if a team could be competitive in the free agent market. Would players want to live in the UK? I would, but I’m not so sure about others. Travelling across the Atlantic every week would just be so draining for the players and the team. Logistically it sounds like such a nightmare right now. I do think it’s something that can happen, but unfortunately, my guess is that it’s not happening anytime soon.

What I am in favour of for now is each team playing an extra game – a 17th game.  The 17th game for each team would be played at a neutral site – many of which would be international.

In your experience, how do fans in the UK compare to those in the US? Now the ‘cult’ aspect is lifting in this country, are we becoming almost as obsessive with the sport?

Fans in the UK are great, simple. ‘Cult’? Well, it’s weird because some of ‘cult’ aspect of following a team in the States is because you’re from that area. It’s kind of like being a fan of Liverpool FC because you live 10 minutes from the stadium. Nothing beats the impact of growing up with a team in your backyard and cheering for them because your Dad did and his Dad did.

The team at NFL Sunday seem to increase in popularity every year. What’s it like to work with Nick and Kevin?

Thanks for that! I love working with on NFL Sunday. I am very lucky to have that opportunity. As for Nick and Kev, they are both great guys. They both know a lot about the game and they are very welcoming to new faces on the show. They made my transition very easy.

Finally, no interview would be complete with you giving us your tips for the ‘Bowl. Who do you fancy to bring some rare quality football to Cowboys Stadium this year?

My pre-season Superbowl pick was the Packers vs the Jets. Do I stay with it? Jets’ defense has been good, certainly not great. Green Bay have been decimated by injuries. Every other week a new team emerges as the favourite.

I think the season doesn’t really start until Thanksgiving. That’s when it turns cold and the contenders/pretenders start to show their true colours. Who is going to get hot at the end? Who will have that momentum heading into the playoffs?

The Patriots? I still don’t think a defense that inexperienced will be able to hold up come playoff time. The Ravens? A vastly overrated defense, but Flacco is for real. The Colts? Not sure they can overcome the bevy of injuries. The Steelers? This is team you can get behind, but they are struggling with injuries on their offensive line. The Jets? They’re still getting abused week in and week out by opposing tight ends, and Sanchez, whilst brilliant one week, shows his inexperience the next. They’ve been winning a bunch of close games and that should help them come January.

One of those 5 will represent the AFC and I see no reason to change my preseason pick yet.

In the NFC, Atlanta? If and only if they can get home field throughout, have you seen Matt Ryan’s home and away splits? New Orleans? If they can get more balance on offense. They need a running game. The Packers? So many injuries. Might be too much to overcome. Chicago? Really? Seriously?! I look at that team and wonder how they are 7-3. In fairness, their defense is playing lights-out ball. The offense is killing them. Running game too inconsistent and Cutler too mistake-prone.

The Giants? Defense is top notch and so well coached. Good balance on offense. Definitely a team to watch in January. The Eagles? They are everyone’s pick right now! Give top defensive coordinators a few weeks to figure out a game plan to stop Vick and then I want to see how Vick responds before I annoint them Champions. The Giants showed the rest of the league how to slow down Vick and the Eagles on Sunday night, and this is a copycat league. How does Vick respond? Finally, Tampa Bay? They’re not ready for big time yet, although I do like Josh Freeman.

Gun to my head, I have to choose one team to represent the NFC? I’d go with the Giants. Wait. And all New York Superbowl? It’s never happen…

Thank you for your time David, and good luck to the Jets for the rest of the season!

David Dickson.

Thursday Night Football: Texans @ Eagles.

 

In Thursday’s late night match up on ESPN, the Eagles will look to bounce back from their 31-26 defeat to the Bears on Sunday night, whilst the forever inconsistent Houston Texans will aim to take themselves to a 0.500 record.

 

The major talking point since Sunday night refers to the conduct of Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson, who was involved in a shocking display of fisticuffs with Tennessee Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan. Both players were fined $25,000, but surprisingly avoided suspension, providing a major boost to a Houston offense that might otherwise struggle in Philadelphia. This being as the Eagles have had a rather decent record against the rush for much of the season, which may provide a barrier to runaway league rushing leader, Arien Foster.

 
Foster has 1147 yards for the season on the ground, coupled with a connection with Matt Schaub through the air, which brought him 77 yards in receiving alone in the victory against the Titans on Sunday night. Foster may meet his match on Thursday night, however, as the Eagles only allowed an average of 73 yards per game before their defeat against Chicago (where they allowed 131).

 
A bigger test for the Texans will come in stopping Michael Vick. Despite becoming a fumble machine in recent games (with six in his last two match-ups), Vick has inserted himself into the minds of many experts for the season’s MVP award, despite not even playing for the entire season so far. When he’s not bombing passes through the air at an average of 308 yards per game, he’s running in touchdowns in his trademark fashion on the ground. Against a Houston defense that is the worst in the NFL for allowing touchdown passes, and 31st in the league for allowing passing yards, Vick could be in for a field day.

 
The Eagles have won both previous match-ups between the two sides, and will look to extend this run on Thursday to take them to 8-4 in the division. The Texans won’t see their challenge ended with defeat, but with the Colts heading to Dallas on Sunday night, a two-game gap would be opened up between the sides should the Texans lose.

 
Prediction: Eagles 28 Texans 14.