The NFL is a wonderful place full of action and excitement. I started this blog 3 years ago with little knowledge of the sport as a whole and basically using this blog to teach myself more about a sport I was falling in love with.
I am a UK based NFL fan so most of my Monday's at work are me basically trying to keep my eyes open and as much as I would love to watch Monday night football I tend to crash before the pre game stuff. I have been to ALL but one of the International series games (I missed the first one because I didnt like the sport at that point). I havent blogged about the NFL in 2 years and that is because I didnt feel I could write about something I dont know but I actually feel like I know enough to blog about it.
So lets start with the shock of the season The Arizona Cardinals. Who saw them being the team with the best record in the NFL??? I for one thought they were a nothing team. An average Running Back a less than average Quarterback. OK OK I get that Palmer is a former Number 1 pick in the draft and his stats suggest he isnt a bad QB but he is not a top 15 QB in the league I think even he will agree to that.
The Cardinals have a really strong defense and they have had some really goo displays this year. Id normally say that a good offense wins you matches and a defense will win you championships and I believe this to be fact but lets face it the Cardinals are SCREAMING 1 and done in the play offs if they make it. They remind me a lot of the Chiefs last year. I think the Head Coach of the Cardinals is going somewhere though. You may remember that Bruce Arians was the stand in Head Coach of the Colts during the #chuckstrong times of Chuck Pagano's struggles with Cancer and did a cracking job in his time in charge of the colts. He is now doing a great job with much lesser a team with the Cardinals.
Now i'm a Steelers fan myself and I have to say that i'm actually surpirsed by Ben Roethlisberger this season. I Love Ben and you dont win 2 superbowls and guide a team to another without being one hell of a QB but at 32 I was thinking "how long has Ben got left". The guy has probably taken more hits and sacks than any QB in the history of the game. He hasnt played 16 games in a season for years and its always because he held on to the ball to long and would take massive hits. You have to remember as well that the AFC North is possible the hardest hitting division in the NFL. The ravens, Browns and bengels are all really hard hitting teams because they wouldnt compete with the other teams in the division if they were not (thats why the Browns have sucked so much in the last 8 or 9 years and dont anymore). I was starting to think at the start of the year that the offense this year would be better Without Ben in it and The Steelers would be better off Righting this season off and getting a good pick next year and using that Pick to bring in a brand new QB and maybe trading Ben to someone like the Cardinals for a first round pick. When The Browns destroyed The Steelers earlier this year I thought that an 8-8 record this year was achievable but maybe unlikely. Then The Colts game happened and Ben and the offense shut me up and made me question my knowledge of the game. But every QB in the league is able to perform out of their skin for 1 game. He repeated it against the Ravens and everyone in the league paid attention to the Steelers again. Is it just Ben? no the combo of Brown and Bryant is exciting all Steelers fans and if Ben has an off game then they are able to put the ball in Bell's hands and he should be able to grind out a TD or 2 himself. After years of watching a defense heavy Steeler team to now be a offense heavy team is taking a little time to get used to. I don't actually expect the Steelers to win the superbowl this year but it would be nice to get the Tebow Playoff demon off our backs and have a new memory of play off football.
The last thing I am going to write about today is the game I will be going to tomorrow at Wembley Stadium tomorrow. The Jacksonville Jaguars host the Dallas Cowboys. Having been to the previous 10 games London has hosted I can tell you that the Cowboys are a well supported team Here in the UK but they are also hated by most other fans. I have spoken to a few people about the atmosphere at the UK games before and the feedback Ive had is that it "sounds neutral" and being there myself I actually agree with that the Lions @ Falcons game was a perfect example of that. I think all the actual neutrals do try to support the home team (except the people who support rival teams maybe) as we appreciate the fact that they clearly annoyed their own fans to give us a game. But we have had some really bad teams hosting and its hard to keep supporting a team like the St Louis Rams when they are 45-7 down and they scored first so you're seeing a team lose 45 unanswered points its hard to keep focus on shouting if a team is on 3rd down. The Falcons game was different. We were all invested in the Falcons win we made plenty of noise on 3rd downs but as soon as the Lions won it with seconds to go Everybody cheered except the falcons fans. I think there would have been as big a cheer if he had have missed. I DIDNT cheer. I wanted the falcons to win so when they didnt I felt for them. I get the feeling that This game will NOT be the same. The Jags committed 3 years to us. They suck but we love an underdog in the UK. and we have embraced the Jags as our own. The Mascot last year was class and they really did put on a good show. I hope for the same this Sunday but Not only that but you can hear the hatred for "AMERICA'S TEAM" whenever the Cowboys play at the same time as the UK game. We get the scored and Redzone updates in the Stadium and Whenever the Cowboys are on the reaction is huge. The boo's when they are winning are sometimes louder than a 3rd down the cheering when they are losing are louder than a TD or Turnover. This weekend may be the first true Home game in London. I for one don't hate the cowboys but boy and I going to Boo them this weekend. No doubt the Cowboys will win but they are on the rocks a little of late and would be nice to see the Jags get a win under their belts.