2017 NFL Conference Championship Preview and Predictions

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The NFL’s final four is set with a group that includes the defending champions and three teams who missed the playoffs last year. Here are my previews and predictions for the AFC Championship and NFC Championship games.

Sun, Jan. 21st at 3:05 PM: #3 Jacksonville Jaguars at #1 New England Patriots (-7.5)

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After shocking the Steelers in Pittsburgh, the Jacksonville Jaguars advanced to face Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champions in Foxborough. The Jaguars will need everything out of their defense in order to slow the Patriots offense, which includes Dion Lewis, James White, Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, and Chris Hogan. Calais Campbell leads the Jaguars front line and will look to bring pressure to get to Tom Brady, while Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye anchor the secondary. On the offensive end, the Patriots will have to contain Blake Bortles to the pocket and force him to throw the ball. Belichick will look to neutralize Leonard Fournette on the ground as well. In the end, I think the Patriots will be too much for the Jaguars to handle. New England wins 23-16.

Sun, Jan. 21st at 3:05 PM: #2 Minnesota Vikings at #1 Philadelphia Eagles (+3)

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After pulling off the “upset'” last week against the Falcons, the #1 seed Eagles will stay at home to take on the Minnesota Vikings as underdogs once again. While the Carson Wentz injury cast doubt for many Eagles fans, the team knows that it still has a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. The Eagles can attack on the ground with Jay Ajayi and Legarrette Blount, or air it out to Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Aghuolor. Their defense may even be better than their offense with a solid pass rush and strong run defense. It was a defensive stand at the end of the game against Atlanta that sent Philly to the next round. Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see how the Vikings respond after a miracle win last week against New Orleans. Case Keenum will have yet another opportunity to prove doubters wrong if he can get the ball to Diggs and Thielen and effectively move the chains against the Eagles defense. I think this will be a very close game but the Eagles will squeak one out on a last second field goal. Philadelphia wins 23-20.

Let me know your thoughts and predictions in the comments down below.

Thanks,

Jeff

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2017 NFL Divisional Round Preview and Predictions

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Four more games kick off next weekend as we get to see each of the top 4 teams in action for the first time this postseason. Below is my preview and prediction for each game.

 

Sat. January 13th at 4:35 PM: #6 Atlanta Falcons @ #1 Philadelphia Eagles (+2.5)

Falcons Eagles Football

In a rare occurrence for the NFL Playoffs, the sixth seeded team will enter as favorites against the #1 seed. The Eagles looked dominant all year long but lost MVP candidate Carson Wentz to an injury late in the season. On the bright side, their backup QB is Nick Foles who has had prior success as a starter with the Eagles. However, Foles looked horrible at the end of the season, casting serious doubt on how far the Eagles can make it in the playoffs. Despite the injury, Philadelphia still has a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. Legarrette Bount and Jay Ajayi lead the ground game, while tight end Zach Ertz and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery provide threats through the air. On defense, Brandon Graham led the team with 9.5 sacks while cornerback Patrick Robinson had 4 interceptions. The Falcons enter this matchup coming off an impressive win in Los Angeles on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. I think Atlanta is hungry to return to the NFC title game again and will ride their playoff momentum through an undermanned Philly team and come out with the win. Falcons beat Eagles 26-17.

 

Sat. January 13th at 8:15 PM: #5 Tennessee Titans @ #1 New England Patriots (-13.5)

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After overcoming an 18 point deficit at Kansas City in the Wild Card round, the Tennessee Titans will travel to Foxborough to take on the top seeded New England Patriots. With running back Demarco Murray sidelined, Derrick Henry had a monster game for Tennessee with nearly 200 total yards. However, the Titans will need to get more out of Marcus Mariota in the passing game if they want to have a chance to keep up with Tom Brady and the Patriots offense. One thing that may help slow that vaunted Patriots offensive attack is defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau’s defensive scheme. The main reason the Titans earned a playoff spot, and came back in KC, is thanks to their defensive pressure which has slowed down the other team’s offensive attack. For New England, it’s business as usual as they play their NFL record 8th consecutive home divisional playoff game. While the Patriots are clearly the more talented team, they will still have to focus on avoiding big hits to Tom Brady and keeping Marcus Mariota in the pocket. While the Titans may keep it close early with defense, the Patriots will pull away and win 24-9.

 

Sun. January 14th at 1:05 PM: #3 Jacksonville Jaguars @ #2 Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.5)

NFL: Preseason-Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville Jaguars

After squeaking out a win against the Bills in the Wild Card round, the Jacksonville Jaguars will head to Pittsburgh where they intercepted Roethlisberger five times on their way to a 30-9 win in Week 5. However, the Steelers have played much better since that Week 5 loss. The question for the Steelers will be the availability and effectiveness of wide receiver Antonio Brown. Brown had a monster season, and along with Leveon Bell, Juju Smith-Schuster, and Ben Roethlisberger the Steelers have one of the most formidable offenses in the league. However, the Jaguars counter with an elite defense led by Jalen Ramsey and Calais Campbell. I think the key to this game is the effectiveness of Blake Bortles. If the Steelers offense and Jaguars defense offset, the x factor in this game will be the play of Blake Bortles and the Jaguars offense. While they can rely on Fournette in the running game, it will be critical to have success in the air to keep a balanced attack, especially if they fall into an early deficit. I don’t think Bortles can repeat what he did on the ground against Buffalo and don’t trust him as a passer, so I think Pittsburgh wins this one 19-10.

 

Sun. January 14th at 4:40 PM: #4 New Orleans Saints @ #2 Minnesota Vikings (-3.5)

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The final game of the weekend may be the best one, with Saints traveling to Minnesota to take on the Vikings in a rematch of the 2009 NFC Championship. The Saints are coming off a thrilling win over division rival Carolina, while the Vikings are rested and ready to go. Minnesota has surprised everyone this season after losing their starting quarterback and starting running back. However, Case Keenum has stepped up and played at an MVP level for most of the season. The emergence of wide receiver Adam Thielen to go alongside Stefon Diggs has been a big reason why. On the defensive side of the ball, the Vikings are as solid as ever both with the pass rush and the secondary coverage. They will be tested with Drew Brees and the Saints dynamic offense – which includes a duo of running backs in Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram that have been deadly on the ground all year long. Add Michael Thomas and Tedd Ginn as deep threat wide receivers and this offense is hard to beat. I think this will be a very close game but the Saints pull the upset and move on 28-27.

Let me know your thoughts and predictions in the comments down below.

-Jeff

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2017 Year in Review + Bonus One Second Everyday Compilation

2017 was another great year for me. The Patriots winning the Super Bowl, buying a pet hedgehog, achieving ASA, purchasing Celtics half-season tickets, and witnessing a full solar eclipse were just a few of the many highlights from the year. Below is my annual slideshow recapping the best moments of 2017, in addition to my one second everyday video compilation.

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Black Mirror Season 4 Reaction

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Another solid season of Black Mirror was released on Netflix last week so here are my thoughts and reaction for each of the six episodes ranked from my least to most favorite.

 

6. Metalhead

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Metalhead is an episode about futuristic dog robots with the intelligence to hunt down and track human beings that they want to destroy. I found this episode the least interesting because the idea of futuristic robot dogs was the least creative idea from Season 4 in my opinion. It was still a decent episode to watch since there is some drama watching a woman trying to escape from this thing the whole episode and wondering if she’ll survive, but overall there wasn’t much else to this episode worth mentioning.

 

5. Crocodile

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Crocodile is about a woman who is inadvertently caught in a murder when an insurance woman looks through her memories for clues about a different accident. I thought it was interesting concept to have a device that can show someone else’s memories, but I thought this idea could’ve been used in a much more interesting plot. I can definitely see the practicality of having that technology to use in insurance or in court, but the path it went down in this episode seemed a little unrealistic in terms of how the insurance woman ended up at the murderer’s house. It also seemed aggressive to have a law that requires you to disclose your memories if you potentially witness an accident. However, this was still a good episode and the ending was definitely clever.

 

4. Arkangel

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Arkangel examines the benefits and drawbacks of a parent knowing where and what their child is doing at any given moment. A woman has an experimental technology from a company called Arkangel implanted in her daughter’s brain which acts as a GPS device but also literally lets her see exactly what her daughter is seeing at all times via an ipad-like device. While not a new idea by any means, what I did find interesting was this concept where there is a parental control option that allows you to filter out potential negative experiences. It detects a heart rate spike when the child is exposed to violence or other negative influences and blurs that out from the child’s vision. The child is essentially experiencing real-life TV censoring. I thought the episode did a good job of demonstrating why this can have negative side effects. I liked how the episode took you through life of the daughter from very young up until teenage years, but the main criticism I have is that the ending seemed a bit more extreme than necessary.

 

3. USS Callister

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USS Callister takes virtual reality to another level as Chief Technical Officer Robert Daly uses the DNA of others at his company to create real life clones of them to be placed into a video game that he has created. I thought this episode was very interesting because the “clones” still represent the actual people whose DNA was used to create them – they are self aware and understand that they were created and trapped in this video game. Meanwhile, the real people on the outside have no idea what is really going on. I thought this episode probably had the most creative plotline of Season 4. Sidenote: I couldn’t believe that the main character was not actually Matt Damon after I looked at the cast.

 

2. Hang the DJ

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Hang the DJ is an episode about how dating has evolved in the future. People can participate in a program where they each receive a device the size of a Staples Easy button that acts as a dating coach and matches you up with other people. The unique thing is that each relationship has an expiration date and the dating coach device logs your experiences in each relationship in order to provide you with your “ultimate match.” I thought this was a very interesting idea and was well done throughout this episode in terms of how people would actually respond to experiences in these types of relationships. However, the most interesting part was the ending when you find out that your soulmate is not actually the person who is your “ultimate match.” The participants are actually in a simulation and its the couple who defies the dating coach and chooses to run away with someone else that is actually the best couple in real life. When this happens in 99.8% of simulations of these couples’ experiences, that is when the program ends. It seems like everyone is always trying to find the best app or best website to try and find true love, so I found this episodes particular take on what dating could look like in the future to be very fascinating.

 

1. Black Museum

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Black Museum is about a woman who visits a crime museum and learns some very interesting stories behind some of the artifacts from the owner. This was my favorite episode because I am fascinated with neuropsychology and the technology behind it which is what this episode explored. One of the stories was about a doctor who volunteered to test out a technology in which a device implanted in his head allows him to feel exactly what his patients are experiencing but without any of the physical side effects. I thought the episode did a fantastic job of exploring the effect that this could have on someone. Initially very beneficial, we very quickly see the dark side of this type of power. The second story explored the idea of transferring someone’s consciousness who was in a coma into somebody else’s mind. This allows that consciousness to experience and see all of the sensations that the person with the physical body experiences. However, it’s not hard to see why having somebody else’s voice inside your head for your whole life could get old pretty quickly. The last story is about a criminal on death row who opts to have his consciousness saved before he is killed so that it can be recreated as a type of hologram. I thought this storyline was the least interesting of the three but it resulted in a twist ending to the episode which was cool.

Let me know your thoughts on this season of Black Mirror in the comments down below.

Thanks,
Jeff

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2017 NFL Wild Card Weekend Preview and Predictions

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With just two teams that made the playoffs last year participating in this year’s Wild Card Weekend, the first round of the NFL playoffs should provide some interesting games.

Saturday, January 6th at 4:35 PM: #5 Tennessee Titans at #4 Kansas City Chiefs (-7.5)

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The Titans enter the playoffs for the first time since 2008 while the Kansas City Chiefs enter the playoffs as AFC West champions in back to back years. The Chiefs started out the season on fire before slowing down significantly in the second half. Alex Smith looked like an MVP candidate to start the year and rookie Kareem Hunt had a phenomenal season. The Chiefs certainly have the weapons and experience to make a deep playoff run. Coach Andy Reid is no stranger to the playoffs, and Travis Kelce is a playmaker on the offensive end. When you add a good defense with a great pass rush, the Chiefs can be a formidable team to beat. Meanwhile, Tennessee has not looked a like a playoff team all year. They have some weapons on the ground with Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry, but Marcus Mariota has been very inconsistent and committed too many turnovers this year. The Titans may keep it close initially with a solid defense, but I think Chiefs win this one 27-17.

 
Saturday, January 6th at 8:15 PM: #6 Atlanta Falcons vs. #3 Los Angeles Rams (-6)

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The Falcons have looked very disappointing this year after their Super Bowl run a year ago. The offense has struggled without Kyle Shanahan, and Matt Ryan has not looked like last year’s MVP. That being said, Atlanta still has most of the talent from last year’s team and the experience of last year’s Super Bowl run on their side. The same cannot be said for the Los Angeles Rams, who are returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2004 under first year coach Sean McVay. The Rams defense has been dominant behind Defensive Player of the Year candidate Aaron Donald, and the offense has made one of the most impressive single season turnarounds led by second year quarterback Jared Goff and MVP candidate Todd Gurley. With an over/under of 48.5 points, the sportsbooks in Las Vegas certainly expect this to be a high scoring game. Despite the experience of Atlanta and the youth of LA, I just think the Rams have more talent and are playing better on both sides of the ball this season. I think the coaching matchup favors Los Angeles as well. The Rams win 37-31.

 
Sunday, January 7th at 1:05 PM: #6 Buffalo Bills vs. #3 Jacksonville Jaguars (-7.5)

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Nobody would have believed that Bills vs. Jaguars was even remotely a possible playoff matchup at the beginning of the season. However, a weak AFC and two teams that exceeded expectations has landed us here in the Wild Card round. The Jaguars will play their first playoff game since 2007 after winning the AFC South behind a resurgent defense, a rookie running back, and bounce back season from quarterback Blake Bortles. Meanwhile, the Bills ended the longest NFL playoff drought at 17 years by grabbing the sixth playoff spot in the AFC on the final weekend. The strength of the Bills is also their defense, with the offense being led by Pro Bowl running back Lesean McCoy and two dimensional QB Tyrod Taylor. In more ways than one, I think the Jaguars are just a better version of the Bills. Their defense is better than the Bills defense. Leonard Fournette is having a better season than LeSean McCoy, and Blake Bortles is better than Tyrod Taylor. I think this will be a low scoring defensive battle, with Jacksonville winning 16-13.

 
Sunday, January 7th at 4:40 PM: #5 Carolina Panthers at #4 New Orleans Saints (-6)

New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers

The Panthers will look to get revenge against the NFC South champion Saints when the only intra-divisional matchup of the weekend kicks off Sunday afternoon. Carolina lost by double digits to New Orleans in both previous matchups this year. Drew Brees has been having another solid year at quarterback and wide receiver Michael Thomas has filled the role of the missing Brandin Cooks very nicely. However, the emergence of rookie running back Alvin Kamara and a much improved defense are the key reasons for the Saints return to the playoffs. On the end, Cam Newton is back in the playoffs for the first time since losing Super Bowl L. Carolina traded receiver Kelvin Benjamin but drafted rookie Christian McCaffery to help the offense this year. The defense has been solid as usual but Cam Newton will have to have a big game to keep up with the Saints attack. Although it is very difficult to defeat the same team three times in a season, I think New Orleans is just the better team. Saints win 33-24.

Let me know your thoughts and predictions in the comments down below.

-Jeff

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Movie Review: Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi picks up right where Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens left off. Rey (Daisy Ridley) encounters Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) on a secret island hiding out and tried to convince him to help her fight against the First Order. Meanwhile evil emperor Snoke (Andy Serkis) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) are launching an all out attack against General Leia (Carrie Fisher) and the Resistance in order to take control of the galaxy. Luke is adamant about being left alone, but after enough perseverance from Rey he decides to teach her the ways of the Jedi and there is hope for the Resistance in the battle against the First Order after all.

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I thought this movie did a great job of incorporating all of the characters – old and new – from the Star Wars series. We saw the new characters from the Force Awakens – Rey, Finn, Poe, BB8, Snoke, and Kylo Ren – continue to play a significant role in the new trilogy while veterans Luke Skywalker, Leia, R2D2, C3PO, Chewbacca, and even Yoda made appearances in the movie as well. I thought some of the battle scenes went on a little bit too long for a 2.5 hour movie that could have been shortened to 2 hours, but it was tolerable considering the uniqueness of Star Wars battle scenes.

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I found it very interesting that the good/evil theme with the Force was brought up once again and forced key characters to make crucial decisions regarding which side they belonged on. While we did get some very interesting backstory with Luke in this movie, I would have liked to get some more questions answered on some of the new characters, specifically Rey and where she came from. I enjoyed some of the comedic relief in this movie, but also thought it was a bit cheesy at times. You can tell that the new trilogy is trying to be more family friendly, and more inclusive as well (female protagonist, black main character, Aian woman main character, etc).

Overall I enjoyed this movie. I didn’t think it was the best Star Wars movie out there but definitely worth seeing and sets the stage for what should be highly anticipated Episode IX, set to be released in 2019.

IMDB: 7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 91% critics, 51% audience
My final rating: 6.5/10

Let me know your thoughts in the comments down below.

Jeff

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2017-18 CFP Preview and Prediction

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The 2017-18 College Football Playoff is set as four teams will battle it out on New Year’s Day 2018 for a chance to play in Atlanta for the National Championship. Defending champion Clemson enters as the #1 seed to face #4 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, who will look to avenge last year’s National Championship loss. Heisman trophy winner Baker Mayfield leads #2 seed and Big 12 champion Oklahoma to take on #3 seed and SEC champion Georgia in the Rose Bowl.

Monday, January 1st at 5 PM: #3 Georgia Bulldogs vs. #2 Oklahoma Sooners (+2)

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It will be a battle of offense vs. defense in the Rose Bowl as Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma Sooners take on the Georgia Bulldogs and one of the best defenses in the country. The Bulldogs allowed just 270 YPG and 13 PPG, both good for 4th in the nation, on their way to a 12-1 season. Their only loss was against Auburn, which they avenged in the SEC title game to earn a berth in the CFP. On the offensive side of the ball, Georgia relies on their running game and senior running back Nick Chubb. Chubb has put up 4600 yards and 42 TDs over his four year career at Georgia, including 1175 yards and 13 TDs in 2017. The Bulldogs will look to get him going early to take the pressure off freshman quarterback Jake Fromm. Oklahoma clearly has the advantage at QB with Baker Mayfield who threw for 4340 yards 41 TDs and just 5 INTs. However, Oklahoma struggles on defense and is vulnerable to rushing attack. I think Georgia gets an early lead and their defense clamps down to get them to the National Championship. Georgia wins 27-16.

 

Monday, January 1st at 8:45 PM: #4 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #1 Clemson Tigers (+3)

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The defending national champion and #1 seed in this year’s CFP Clemson Tigers will have plenty of motivation in the Sugar Bowl as they will enter the New Year’s Day matchup as underdogs against #4 Alabama. This will also be somewhat of a rubber match for these two teams in the CFP, as Alabama won the 2015 National Championship against Clemson and the Tigers defeated the Crimson Tide in last year’s National Championship. This year, however, Deshaun Watson is in the NFL and Jalen Hurts is still the quarterback for Alabama. Kelly Bryant has done a phenomenal job following in Watson’s footsteps, but it’s Clemson’s defense that has really carried the team. Outside of a lone blip against Syracuse, Clemson has looked dominant on their way to a 12-1 season an ACC championship. Meanwhile, a loss to Auburn prevented Alabama from reaching the SEC title game but they still had a strong enough resume to reach the CFP for the fourth straight season. The offense has weapons with Bo Scarborough and Damien Harris at running back, and Calvin Ridley at receiver. The defense has been dominant as usual for an Alabama team. Despite the last two matchups being shootouts, I think this will be a defensive battle and Clemson will win the 3rd installment of this rivalry 16-13.

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: CLEMSON DEFEATS GEORGIA 24-20

Let me know your predictions and thoughts in the comments down below.

Thanks,
Jeff

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