Blame for Packers’ Issues is Being Misplaced

Even with their win Monday night, the Green Bay Packers will need to be basically flawless from here on out to make the playoffs. Fans, analysts, and media alike have all chimed in on why the ultra-consistent Packers suddenly find themselves sitting at 5-6. In order to get to the root of the issue in Green Bay, you first have to look at what is not the problem.

I am not sure exactly when the “Aaron Rodgers is no longer any good” campaign got started by fans and media, but it is a joke. In his “off year”, he has thrown for over 3,000 yards, 27 touchdowns, and just seven interceptions through 10 games. He also has a flawed roster (I will get there later) still at least somewhat alive for a playoff spot. My goodness folks, does anyone have any clue how many quarterbacks would take Rodgers’ “off year” as the best of their career?

The Packers have a lot of issues, but Aaron Rodgers certainly is not one of them. With him, they will be playing meaningful games during the last month of the season. Without him, they would be picking in the top five of the 2017 draft.

While Mike McCarthy should not be completely absolved of blame like his quarterback, coaching is also nowhere near the top of the list of problems in Green Bay. Since McCarthy took over as head coach prior to the 2006 season, Green Bay has missed the playoffs only twice. Additionally, McCarthy has an above .500 record in the postseason and has brought home a Super Bowl title. He clearly knows what he is doing.

The whole “he had good players” argument is such a cop out when evaluating any coach. Every good player needs a good coach and vice versa. McCarthy’s record speaks for itself, and if he were let go by the Packers, he would be unemployed for an hour before another team made him their coach.

Also, he did not suddenly become dumb over this past off-season. As Bill Parcells once said, “if they want you to cook the meal, they ought to at least let you buy some of the groceries”. In the NFL, the meal is winning games and the players are the groceries. McCarthy is merely a coach. He has minimal to no control over the composition of the roster.

Packers issues

Photo from rrstar.com

Often times when a team struggles, it is as simple as looking at the head coach and/or quarterback, but this is an exception. In Green Bay, the majority of the blame for the sudden dip in performance should go to one man, General Manager Ted Thompson.

Ever since Thompson took over in 2005, the Packers have been about drafting well and developing their own talent. This approach has and continued to serve them well on offense. Everyone knows about the talent they have at the skill positions, but they are also really good along the offensive line. They have struggled to find a workhorse running back that can stay on the field, but McCarthy gets very creative in order to give the Packers some semblance of a ground game.

However, the same method has failed in grand fashion when building the defense. Prior to Monday night, the Packers had given up 30+ points in four straight games. That had not happened in Green Bay since 1953.

On the Packers website, all but two players on their defensive depth chart were drafted by the Packers. They are 26th in total defense. Quite frankly, I am surprised the ranking is that high after the last month. Their best draft picks like Clay Matthews and Morgan Burnett are closer to the end of their careers than the beginning. The players are giving their best effort, but the vast majority of the secondary and linebacker corps does not belong anywhere near an NFL field at the moment.

Yes, I know the Packers had been hit hard by injuries, particularly in the secondary. The fact is every team in the league deals with a ton of injuries by this time of year. All 53 guys on a roster should be ready to play at the drop of a hat. If the reserves cannot play, that is on the person who put the roster together.

Packers issues

Photo from rantsports.com

Thompson’s approach to free agency is also really starting to hurt the Packers. They are almost allergic to bringing in any sort of noteworthy free agent. In the last handful of years, I came up with only three free agent signings that were designed to make an immediate impact. There are teams who sign that many free agents in a week during the offseason.

Those signings were tight end Jared Cook, defensive end/linebacker Julius Peppers, and defensive tackle Letroy Guion. They are all nice players when healthy, but this roster still has a ton of holes. All this year has done is bring them to light.

I have never been one to advocate breaking the bank in free agency, but you have to look outside your own building for answers more often than the Packers do.

Monday night was a step in the right direction for the Packers. If they somehow sneak into the playoffs, no one will want to face that offense. To blame Rodgers and/or McCarthy for their issues is comical. They are both making the best out of what they have to work with. This franchise will go as far as Rodgers and McCarthy take it for a few more years. In fact, they are the only people keeping it competitive.

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Hagan’s Haus NFL Picks (Week 13)

Hopefully everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving last week! Picking games didn’t go so smoothly, but eating Thanksgiving Dinner sure did. As cold weather starts to cool down the country, the NFL playoff races are heating up. Week 12 shook up some of the standings. There are a lot of top headlines from the week as well. The Cowboys are the best team in the NFL and show no signs of slowing down. The Titans have a legitimate shot at winning their division. Atlanta has developed a pass rush and might have finally figured out how to finish a game and a season. Cleveland is still winless, and the AFC West is the best division in football.

unknownPlenty happened last week and this week could be just as fun. This will finally be the last week with teams on a bye and those two teams are Cleveland and Tennessee. Starting next week everyone will have played the same amount of games and the playoff picture will become more clear. The regular season is nearing its end so it is time to get this win total up. Here are Hagan’s Haus NFL picks for week 13.

Last Week: 8-8

Season: 100-72-2

Thursday Night

(http://wallpapersdsc.net/sports/dez-bryant-776.html)

(http://wallpapersdsc.net/sports/dez-bryant-776.html)

Dallas (10-1) 23 @ Minnesota (6-5) 21: Dallas is clearly the best team in the NFL, which is why this is a trap game. The Vikings defense is not going to let the Cowboys run down their throat. Many times teams are upset on these Thursday night games, especially when going on the road. Minnesota is a desperate team and desperate teams are dangerous. Although this is a trap game, the Cowboys will just barely pull off the road win.

Sunday Morning

Kansas City (8-3) 26 @ Atlanta (7-4) 24: The Falcons better hope the Bucs lose because the Falcons are heading towards a loss with the Chiefs coming to town. The Chiefs are a good team with a great defense. The offense just needs to put up some points and take care of the football. Atlanta is a good team and they have finally found a pass rush, but the Chiefs are just better.

(US Presswire)

(US Presswire)

Detroit (7-4) 38 @ New Orleans (5-6) 41: The Saints defense has trouble stopping a nosebleed let alone a defense. Their offense can score on anyone. Last season the Lions went into New Orleans and won 35-27. The Saints can’t let the Lions win another one in the Superdome, especially when the Saints need to win out to make the playoffs. Drew Brees outplays Matthew Stafford in a shootout.

Los Angeles (4-7) 21 @ New England (9-2) 37: Since the Browns have the week off, NFL fans need someone to feel bad for this week. Everyone needs to feel bad for Jared Goff because Bill Belichick always gets the best of rookie quarterbacks. The Rams defense gets pressure, but Tom Brady will get the ball out too fast for the Rams defense. Tom Brady and the Patriots will continue to roll towards the playoffs.

Denver (7-4) 31 @ Jacksonville (2-9) 17: Denver is coming off a heartbreaking loss. They blew an eight-point lead and lost on a field goal in overtime that bounced off the post and somehow went in. The Jaguars are looking to solidify yet another top-five pick. This game will be competitive for a while, but eventually the Broncos pull away.

(Credit: Rick Wood)

(Credit: Rick Wood)

Houston (6-5) 14 @ Green Bay (5-6) 27: All season I’ve been saying the Packers would eventually find their mojo. Last week I conceded that this may be the year in which they don’t find that mojo. Then what do the Packers go out and do? Play one of their best games of the year and get right back into the thick of the playoff race. Houston is pathetic on the road and the Packers are about to get hot. Green Bay wins this one easily.

Philadelphia (5-6) 24 @ Cincinnati (3-7-1) 17: Cincinnati is bad and it is time for the Bengals to fire Marvin Lewis. A new voice is needed. Philly is still a decent football team that is young and still learning. The Eagles defense ranks fifth in points given up and the Bengals offense ranks 27th in points scored. The Bengals won’t score enough to win this game.

Miami (7-4) 24 @ Baltimore (6-5) 21: The Dolphins are the hottest team in the AFC and have a six-game win streak. Ryan Tannehill is getting no credit for how well he has played. He has seven touchdowns to just one interception during the win streak. All year I have been saying the Ravens are a .500 team and they won’t make the playoffs. They will lose this week to get to .500 and they will slowly fall behind the Steelers in the division. Miami needs a big win to stay in the wild card race and they will get it to win their seventh straight game.

San Fransisco (1-10) 32 @ Chicago (2-9) 31: There may be about 20 total people watching this game, but it is an important game. The loser of this game will be in prime position for the second overall pick in the draft. This is a game that neither team should want to win to solidify that draft pick. It is hard to pick a game in which two horrible teams are playing. Because of a flip of a coin, the 49ers end their 10-game losing streak and get a win in the Windy City.

Sunday Afternoon

(http://www.espn.com/nfl/player/_/id/12514/lesean-mccoy)

(http://www.espn.com/nfl/player/_/id/12514/lesean-mccoy)

Buffalo (6-5) 34 @ Oakland (9-2) 31: The Raiders look poised for a run at the Lombardi Trophy, but the injury to Derek Carr’s finger on his throwing hand will halt their progress a bit. The Bills are hard to figure out, but their offense is exciting. LeSean McCoy had a huge game last week. The Raiders have the seventh worst rush defense in the NFL and that will be their demise this week.

New York (G) (8-3) 34 @ Pittsburgh (6-5) 36: This is the best game of the week. Eli Manning and the Giants are playing great football at this point of the season and have a six game winning streak. Pittsburgh is fighting to win their division. This game could be an aerial display as the Steelers rank eighth in passing yards (263.9 yards per game) and the Giants rank 12th (256.5 yards per game). This game will be a dogfight and Big Ben will make one more big play to Antonio Brown than Eli will make to Odell Beckham.

Washington (6-4-1) 21 @ Arizona (4-6-1) 24: The Redskins have an impressive offense. Washington is second in passing yards (314.8), 11th in rushing yards (111.5), and ninth in points (25.5). The Cardinals are giving up the least amount of yards in the NFL (294). The Cardinals need Carson Palmer to take care of the football. This will be an upset and the Cardinals will get one game away from .500.

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Tampa Bay (6-5) 27 @ San Diego (5-6) 24: The Bucs still have a chance to win the division, but they seem to lose games they are expected to win and win games they are expected to lose. If the Bucs are serious about winning the division and making the playoffs, they have to beat the Chargers. The Bucs are going to do what they need to and put pressure on the Falcons.

 

Sunday Night

(http://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/nfl/carolina-panthers/article40474167.html)

(http://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/nfl/carolina-panthers/article40474167.html)

Carolina (4-7) 20 @ Seattle (7-3-1) 24: The Panthers are struggling this year and it is hard to figure out why.  Seattle took a shocking loss on the road to the Buccaneers. The Seahawks have a good record, but they will not get to the Super Bowl if they continue to struggle along the offensive line. The Seahawks are still playing the best defense in the NFL by leading the league in points given up per game(17 points per game). Their defense will get to Cam and hit him hard to send Carolina to a surprising 4-8.

 

Monday Night

Indianapolis (5-6) 24 @ New York (J) (3-8) 27: The Colts versus the Jets may be the worst Monday night game of the year. The Jets have nothing to play for but pride. Indianapolis is still fighting for a chance to win the division. The Colts have the fifth-worst scoring defense in the NFL and have trouble stopping anybody. It is hard to pick a team to win this game, but the Jets are at home which is why they will win.

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Changing U.S. Soccer Landscape

 

The U.S. soccer landscape is changing on an eventful day. First, the MLS commissioner, Don Garber, arrived in Cincinnati to view the FC Cincinnati soccer facilities, a USL franchise, potentially for future inclusion in the U.S top tier. Second, the New York Cosmos, a second tier NASL franchise, are reportedly on their last leg and in serious danger of folding operations. Third, rumors are the NASL could fold entirely and their remaining teams may join the USL.

With Garber in Cincinnati many have put FC Cincinnati in the running to receive a MLS franchise. The second round of additions are scheduled after 2018, possibly 2020, when the league will expand to 23 teams, or maybe 24 if the Miami affiliate headed by David Beckham pull the proper resources together. If measures fall through in Miami, Cincinnati could be the next team included due to their excellent attendance and terrific fan support. It’s only necessary to see how many people showed up for Garber’s arrival at a local airfield to understand the support in Cincinnati.



The New York Cosmos had been rumored to be in trouble for a while. Reports coming out today have verified those rumors. Once the flagship franchise of the original NASL, which folded in 1984 returned under the same name in 2010, taking the field in 2013. They were successful on the field with three NASL Championship trophies, but a different story off the field with lagging attendance and no progress securing their own stadium.

Sad news surrounding the Cosmos was met with more bad news from the league. Reports from the league meetings suggest a possible NASL and USL merger. This is good for a league currently with ten teams scheduled to play next season, but bad for two of those teams in financial trouble, which could leave the league with eight.

If the merger goes through with all of the teams remaining there will be 39 teams in the new league. This is too many teams for one tier, but it can work in the short term. Long term, splitting into two tiers will be huge for the promotion relegation fight in the U.S. This long-term model would not be sustainable without the support of a television contract and the leadership of U.S. Soccer, including President Sunil Gulati.

A television contract will be the most important asset owned by MLS. This will be the surest way to expand the sport in the U.S. and pay the designated player salaries that drive attendance. For any USL/NASL potential merger to succeed there has to be either a partnership with the MLS or their own television contract to survive.

Five Lessons from Feast Week 2016

Thanksgiving week is a time for family, food, football and of course basketball! Over the past week, dozens of NCAA teams have made apparent their strengths and weaknesses. Here are the five most important insights that fans can pull from the plethora of Feast Week tournaments:

The Tar Heels are Elite

North Carolina won a not so climactic Maui Invitational and moved to 7-0. They won it with an average margin of victory of 30 points. Granted, one of those games was against Division II opponent Chaminade. Despite that, they obliterated the two Division I teams they faced, Oklahoma State and Wisconsin, by 32 and 15 points respectively.

These are not normal, run-of-the-mill teams. Wisconsin was on the preseason top ten list for many behind Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes. Jawun Evans leads the Oklahoma State Cowboys as an elite scorer at 24.7 points per game. Evans was one of only two Cowboys in double figures against the Tar Heels.

Freshman Tony Bradley (5) is an excellent back-up for Kennedy Meeks. (Photo courtesy of newsobserver.com)

Freshman Tony Bradley (5) is an excellent back-up for Kennedy Meeks. (Photo courtesy of newsobserver.com)

North Carolina currently has five players averaging over ten points per game. They can spread the ball well and do not rely on one player to stay above water. Returnees Kennedy Meeks, Joel Berry II, Justin Jackson and Isaiah Hicks have made it business as usual for Roy Williams. Five star recruit Tony Bradley is a nice addition at 10.7 points per contest and 6.3 rebounds.

This is a very long Tar Heel team that possesses the ability to frustrate defenses by tipping balls away. Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks dominate the boards, keeping teams from getting too many second chance points. Each also possesses the ability to protect the rim with good size and length. North Carolina is not one-dimensional.  They are a threat to the two-headed monster of Duke and Kentucky come Phoenix in April. Their next test is Wednesday against Indiana.

Oregon is a Work in Progress

Dana Altman’s team was elite last year, achieving a one seed in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. With the big three returning for the Ducks, fans and analysts expected much of the same. With the early pre-season injury to Dillon Brooks, that has not been the case.

At the Maui Invitational, the Ducks dropped their first game to the Georgetown Hoyas. Rodney Pryor had 26 points and 10 rebounds for a stellar offensive performance against the Ducks. Despite that, Oregon’s problem has been offense, not defense. With Brooks still not at 100 percent, the team has struggled to put up points while holding every opponent below 70. That is including an overtime game against Tennessee.

Chris Boucher (25) had 13 blocks in three games at tghe Maui Invitational. (Photo courtesy of fox5vegas.com)

Chris Boucher (25) had 13 blocks in three games at the Maui Invitational. (Photo courtesy of fox5vegas.com)

Chris Boucher is the face of Oregon’s defense. He averages a whopping 3.0 blocks per game so far after setting the school record in 2015-16 with 110. As a side note, Boucher also leads the team with 15.0 points per game. That should change as Brooks transitions back into the line-up. As of now, Brooks has only 18.7 minutes per game. The most he has played all year is 25 against Tennessee which included overtime.

The bright spot in all of this is the development for the Ducks players in Brooks’ absence. Freshman Payton Pritchard has amassed a mountain of minutes, getting used to the collegiate game speed. His 29.7% three point mark is not the best but this should rise. As Pritchard’s role decreases and Brooks gets back into the swing of things, the freshman will see better looks with less defensive attention.

Despite the Ducks dropping a game to Georgetown and struggling against the Volunteers they showed some promise during Feast Week. Jordan Bell and Tyler Dorsey are each looking like their old selves, Brooks is settling in, and the Ducks have proven the ability to gnash their way to a win in a physical game. As Altman’s boys continue to mesh, watch for them to climb back up in the rankings.

 

Virginia Maintaining Identity without Austin Nichols

Examples of things that are certain in life: death, taxes and the Virginia Cavaliers as a defensive based team. Tony Bennett coaches this team year after year to the same sort of style. This year he has the added stress of doing it without key transfer Austin Nichols. Nichols played in only one game before being released by the team. He had previously violated team rules in October.

Virginia took down Providence for the Emerald Coast Classic Championship. (Photo courtesy of washingtonpost.com)

Virginia took down Providence for the Emerald Coast Classic Championship. (Photo courtesy of washingtonpost.com)

Regardless of the reasons for his dismissal, Virginia still looks like the top tier team that they have been over the past few years. Since Nichol’s discharge, the Cavaliers have been nothing short of brilliant. The team’s Feast Week exploits consisted of a dominating performance at the Emerald Coast Classic. They held their opponents to 42.3 points over the three game span of the tournament. While Grambling State is lesser competition, Iowa and Providence do not operate in the same category.

Better yet for the Emerald Coast champs are the two contests they played outside of Feast Week show their consistency. Virginia held Yale and St. Francis (NY) to under 40 points. Their points allowed average since Nichol’s left is 39.4 points.

The one detriment to the Cavaliers is that they do not score. Their 72.8 points per game through six games ranks them 214th in the NCAA. The only game which holds that average above water is the 90 point showing against Grambling State. Additionally only one player averages double figures in scoring: Darius Thompson at exactly 10.0 points per game. Virginia does play ten players, but they need someone to step up. Balance is great but they have no go-to player at this point. London Parrentes should turn into that player at some point this season.

UCLA is an Offensive Juggernaut

Okay, so with the exception of Texas A&M, UCLA has not exactly played anyone yet. Still, the offensive accomplishments and efficiency the team has put together is daunting. Putting up the numbers they have against anyone is impressive.

Lonzo Ball (2) has been one of the most impressive freshman in the country. (Photo courtesy of usatoday.com)

Lonzo Ball (2) has been one of the most impressive freshman in the country. (Photo courtesy of usatoday.com)

Lonzo Ball is the major recruit of this class for Steve Alford and he has not disappointed. Nothing short of brilliant, he averages 16.0 points, 9.1 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game.  Nearly averaging a double-double as a freshman is impressive. What about having two freshman nearly averaging a double-double on the same team? T.J. Leaf was the other stellar recruit for the Bruins and he sits at  17.1 points (leading the team), 8.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists.

Additionally, four other players are averaging double-digit scoring figures totaling six for the team as a whole. Bryce Alford is second on the team with 17.0 points per game. He also is first in shots made from behind the arc with 19 and is shooting at 44.2%.

There is a laundry list of personal accomplishments, but the team’s overall statistics are the most astounding. Through six games the team is second in the nation in field goal percentage, sixth in three point percentage and first in total assists. They average 96.9 points per game. UCLA has 249 made field goals and 169 assists meaning they assist on 67.8% of their baskets. Not only are they extremely efficient, but they also share the ball well.  That should be more than apparent with the aforementioned six players in double figures.

NCAA Champions Points Per Game
Year Team Points Forced Points Allowed
2015-16 Villanova 78.0 63.6
2014-15 Duke 79.3 64.2
2013-14 UConn 71.8 63.2
2012-13 Louisville 74.5 58.8
2011-12 Kentucky 77.4 60.6
*UCLA 96.9 Forced, 75.3 Allowed

The one caveat would be the lack of defensive efficiency. Sure, the team does not rely on one player for its scoring. However, they currently allow 75.3 points per game. They may have a high powered offense, but their defense needs to improve when they do hit the tougher schedule. Generally, championship teams do not allow that many points.

The Bruins won a lackluster Wooden Legacy tournament during Feast Week. The only game that caused them any trouble was the grind-it-out match-up Texas A&M. The Aggies have some surprising new faces contributing, but are not of the same caliber as the Bruins. December 3rd they will face Kentucky in Lexington. This will be the first true test for Alford and company.

Michigan State is Still Difficult to Trust

Tom Izzo’s teams are the epitome of March basketball. Right now they are searching for a legitimate identity. Between a rough early schedule and some early individual struggles the Spartans they have yet to establish consistency.

Michigan State started off the year 0-2 after a last second loss to Arizona and a less than stellar performance against Kentucky. After a 100 point performance against Mississippi Valley State, the Spartans won a controversial game against Florida Gulf Coast 78-77.

Miles Bridges (22) is the most dynamic athlete for the Spartans. (Photo courtesy of zagsblog.com)

Miles Bridges (22) is the most dynamic athlete for the Spartans. (Photo courtesy of zagsblog.com)

Tom Izzo’s squad spent their Feast Week at the Battle 4 Atlantis. They took down St. John’s 73-62 to start. They were then dominated by Baylor 73-58. Miles Bridges was the only player in double figures for the Spartans with 15 points. Bridges is the highest rated member of a stellar Spartan recruiting class. Bridges has had some up and down games, including struggles against Kentucky and Florida Gulf Coast, but is still the team’s leading scorer at 17.4 points per game. His dynamic athleticism has him averaging 1.7 blocks per game and defensive win shares. Bridges decision making is still a point of weakness with 3.4 turnovers per contest, also leading the team.

Michigan State finished up with a 77-72 win against Wichita State, but the Shockers nearly willed their way to a win in this one. Bridges led the team with 21 points, but this time four other players also achieved double figures. Senior Eron Harris, a West Virginia transfer, has had the most inconsistent year. In the contests against Arizona, Kentucky and Baylor this year he averaged 4.0 points. On the flip side he had 31 against FGCU. The Spartans will need Harris this year to have a deep tournament run and find some sort of team identity.

Armada Wins Second Consecutive Major at Dreamhack Winter

img_1260

Pic via the @Dreamhack twitter

Adam “Armada” Lindgren, after some sub-par showings in September and October, has dominated the month of November. Armada secured his second consecutive major tournament win over Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma at Dreamhack Winter in his home country of Sweden this past weekend.

Armada, since the famous 3-2, 3-2 loss in Grand Finals at Evo 2016, has been able to fend off Hungrybox in two of the highest paying tournaments in Smash. He’s faced him four separate times in the last month, but has won the overall game count 14-9 and the overall set count at 3-1. The biggest hurdle for Armada throughout 2016 has been Hungrybox’s Jigglypuff, but Armada’s starting to execute more efficiently in the last month.

Dreamhack is one of the only chances for Europe to challenge some of the worlds best players. It also gives top players an incentive to show up with a $30,000 prize pool. Unfortunately for Europe, outside of Team Heir’s own Trif beating McCain “MacD” LaVelle in Peach dittos, there were zero upsets from players outside the top 100.

The story, as it has been throughout 2016, was Armada vs. Hungrybox. Almost a month after their epic grand finals at Smash Summit 3, we got a rematch at Dreamhack. The road to grand finals was simple enough, Armada only dropped one game before the finals to Hungrybox’s own training partner and coach, Luis “Crunch” Rosias. Hungrybox had little trouble too as he swept Joseph “Mango” Marquez in Winners semis.

Courtesy of Liquidpedia.

Courtesy of Liquidpedia.

Hungrybox and Armada were clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the field. Mango played Falco almost exclusively and struggled in the Jigglypuff matchup and against William “Leffen” Hjelte, who swept him 3-0. Leffen, who’s only making his third appearance since he announced he’s back playing Melee full-time was the only one outside of Armada to push Hungrybox to a game 5.

Hungrybox matched up against Spacie mains (Fox and Falco) all afternoon. He played six consecutive matches against Fox or Falco. Even with all that matchup experience, Armada was still landing a majority of his up-throw to up-air kills against Hungrybox’s Jigglypuff, giving him the edge.

The same stages Hungrybox had success with against Leffen and Mango weren’t working against Armada. Armada went 3-1 on Battlefield and 2-1 on Dreamland in the Fox-Puff matchup. Up until his match against Armada, he was unbeaten on both of those stages. Armada’s platform and runaway game on larger stages proved to be the difference.

The win for Armada makes it his third super major win in 2016 including the recent Smash Summit 3 and Genesis 3. His recent winning streak will make it extremely difficult to choose between the current top three at the end of the year (Armada, Mango, and Hungrybox). I’ll have an update

2017 College Football Playoff Bracketology November 28

Four Playoff Teams

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (12-0)

This is the obvious choice yet again for the CFP committee. They haven’t lost and won a big rivalry game against No. 13 Auburn on Saturday. Alabama is most likely in the CFP even if they lose in the SEC Championship Game.

This Week: vs. Florida Gators (Atlanta, GA)

2. Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1)

(Photo Courtesy: Buckeye Extra- The Columbus Dispatch)

(Photo Courtesy: Buckeye Extra- The Columbus Dispatch)

A lot will be made of the fact that the Buckeyes aren’t conference champions, but they have the best case for the committee to include them in the playoff, as of now, other than Alabama. Ohio State beat the No. 3 team in the country this weekend, the Michigan Wolverines, but also have wins against Wisconsin (No. 6), Oklahoma (No. 8) and Nebraska (No. 16). If Penn State wins the Big Ten Championship, there will be some doubt about Penn State vs. Ohio State, which may happen even if Wisconsin wins the Big Ten Championship, but for now the Buckeyes are the number two team in the rankings.

This Week: N/A

3. Clemson Tigers (11-1)

Clemson moves back up to third after the Michigan loss. If they win the ACC Championship game, they will make the playoff. Their wins over Louisville, Florida State and Auburn are all solid enough that they only need to worry about winning their last game.

This Week: vs. Virginia Tech (Orlando, FL)

4. Washington Huskies (11-1)

Their out of conference schedule is really holding Washington back. Rutgers, Idaho and Portland State are all cake-walks, which will cost them. Washington’s wins aren’t that great either. The only team that they have beaten who will be ranked in the committee’s top 25 will be Stanford. They will come in at four in these rankings, but may be jumped by a Big Ten Champ for the CFP.

This Week: vs. Colorado (Santa Clara, CA)

First Four Out

5. Michigan Wolverines (10-2)

With wins over Penn State and Wisconsin, it would be hard to put Michigan behind those teams in the rankings. The Wolverines are a long shot to make the CFP with the loss to Ohio State, but it is still possible. They need Clemson and Washington to lose and need the committee to value their win over the eventual Big Ten Champion.

This Week: N/A

6. Wisconsin Badgers (10-2)

(Photo courtesy: gambling911.com)

(Photo courtesy: gambling911.com)

The Badgers have only lost to Ohio State and Michigan, and now find themselves in the Big Ten Championship Game against another Eastern Division power. Wisconsin’s victories over LSU and Nebraska are both solid. Winning the Big Ten Championship Game may not get the Badgers into the playoff, but they need to take care of business in case it does get them into the CFP.

This Week: vs. Penn State (Indianapolis, IN)

7. Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2)

Penn State’s win over Ohio State won them the Big Ten East and has them in playoff contention. Their next best win is Iowa, which doesn’t help them that much. They are in the same situation as Wisconsin and need to win and hope what they have done is good enough for the committee.

8. Oklahoma Sooners (9-2)

The Sooners may get jumped by Colorado, but they hold position and have the best win out of the two with their victory over West Virginia. They also scheduled tough out of conference games, and even though they lost, it will look good in the eyes of the committee. Oklahoma has a chance to become Big 12 Champions with a win this weekend. For the Sooners to make the CFP, they will need to have a lot of teams lose who are ahead of them and need the committee to value a conference championship

This Week: vs. Oklahoma (Home game)

Next Two Out

9. Colorado Buffaloes (10-2)

(Photo courtesy: denverpost.com)

(Photo courtesy: denverpost.com)

Colorado has had a surprising season and now finds itself in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Their best win was over Stanford, but they have some solid wins over Utah and Washington State also. The Buffaloes will face their biggest test in the Pac-12 Championship Game against No. 5 Washington. If they win they will likely need Oklahoma and Clemson to lose as well to have a chance at the CFP.

This Week: vs. Washington (Santa Clara, CA)

10. Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-2)

Oklahoma State lost to Central Michigan with the referees making mistakes, costing the Cowboys the game. That extra loss on the season is really holding the Cowboys’ CFP chances back. Wins over Pitt and West Virginia are good notches for the committee to look at. They need to beat Oklahoma and get the same type of help and generosity from the committee as the teams ahead of them in the rankings.

This Week: at Oklahoma (Away game)

 

 

Kjeldson and Oleson (Courtesy of Scott Barbour/Getty Images)Kjeldson and Oleson (Courtesy of Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Team Denmark Prevails, Tiger’s Long Awaited Return

Over this past weekend at the ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf in Melbourne, Australia, Team Denmark pushed its way out of a four-way logjam and successfully evaded the pack to capture the title.

Team Denmark was made up of PGA Tour Pro Soren Kjeldsen and Web.com Tour Player Thorbjorn Olesen, who played stunningly and took advantage of choice conditions in their second round to shoot a 12-under, 60.

The win this weekend marks the best finish for Team Denmark since its third place finish in 2013.

Among the pack behind the Danish duo of Kjeldsen and Olesen was Team United States made up of Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler. Team United States stumbled off the starting block and continued to falter day in and day out in this tournament, but stayed in contention by always staying below par and trying to play to each other’s strengths. As Team United States went into the clubhouse to sign on their card, they were approached by officials who wanted the team and their playing partners from Team England to review footage of Walker to see if he improved his stance in the trees on the 16th hole. Walker would eventually be cleared, but had Team United States been penalized, it would have put them six strokes behind Team Denmark as opposed to four headed into the final round.

This next weekend, Tiger Woods makes his long-awaited return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge in Albany; New Providence, The Bahamas. This return marks the first time that Woods will tee it up competitively in 16 months. Barring any major injuries, a 72-hole finish would be a good start for Woods and a competitive set of scores would be more positive re-enforcement for the 40-year-old.

 

 

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“From our Haus to yours”

Can We Give Jerry Jones Some Credit?

Jerry Jones is mocked by a lot of people for not knowing how to run his franchise and being “senile” ever since Jimmy Johnson was head coach in the 1990s. In many cases the Cowboys have been laughable since the 1990s, with a few bright spots (including a 12-4 record two seasons ago that led everyone to wonder what a catch was). A lot of the heat from the down times fell on Jerry Jones because he was the owner and general manager of America’s Team. He deserved some criticism, although to what point is up for debate. The fact of the matter is that Jerry’s Cowboys have failed, but this season Jones has done something that has helped his team. His dealings with the media this season have been perfectly executed and has enabled a rookie quarterback to overtake the starting job from an injured fan favorite.

(Photo courtesy: si.com)

Phase One: “This is Tony’s Team”

Tony Romo was injured in the preseason, leaving Dallas and the Cowboys’ fans to worry. They had not played well without the injured quarterback the year before and they had a fourth round NFL Draft pick backing him up. This fourth round pick was a player that the Cowboys took as a last resort. They really wanted Paxton Lynch and Connor Cook in the draft, but were beaten to the punch by teams trading to pick ahead of them. When the pick number 135 came around the Cowboys took Dak Prescott, a guy they likely never thought they would have to take.

Jones had to reiterate time and time again that his team was Tony’s team, but that he had confidence in Prescott to do well while Romo was out.

Prescott took his opportunity and ran with it. He had already impressed in the preseason, but showed he was capable of holding the prestigious position of Dallas Cowboys’ starting quarterback through the first seven games of the season. He lost his first start and struggled against the Eagles in week eight, but overall exceeded any expectations anyone could have for a rookie quarterback. His performance at the end of the game against the Eagles, where he led them to a win in overtime, the tides turn for fans who loved Tony Romo as the starting quarterback of the Cowboys. Prescott effectively showed he could take a punch to the jaw, like a slow start, and bounce back to help his team win a game. Through the Philadelphia game, Prescott had nine touchdown passes, two interceptions and a 6-1 record.

How did Jones help the cause here? He took the pressure off of Prescott by saying that it was Tony’s team. This was a simple step, but remember this was the man who reportedly had Johnny Manziel’s draft card in his hand, before his son Stephen had to pry it from him. Prescott could go into the first weeks of his career as a Cowboy and let loose, because deep down he knew he had nothing to lose. Romo was going to be the quarterback when he came back, so Prescott could play with a clear mind.

Phase Two: “We’ve got a great luxury, a wonderful problem to have.”

(Photo couresy: Bleacherreport.com)

(Photo courtesy: Bleacherreport.com)

After beating the browns to go 8-1 on the season, Jones used this quote to answer the question of who would be the quarterback when Romo returned from injury.

Prescott played well for the Cowboys, and many people felt he should be the starter, but nothing was official yet. He had just beaten the Browns, which shouldn’t have been a surprise, but the perception of Romo-lovers had changed over the past couple of weeks. He now put Dallas in a great position to make the playoffs and at the very least, finish the season above .500, something that wasn’t a reality the last time Romo was hurt. He had won most of the team over and looked to be a great leader with composure.

This quote on the situation showed how much Prescott had done for the Cowboys, while at the same time should have been a confidence booster (if he even needed one). He had successfully made it a quarterback controversy in the eyes of Jones, one of the most loyal Romo supporters of them all. This was no small feat, as Romo is one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the Dallas Cowboys.

Phase 3- “You’d have to be outstanding to have Tony on the bench and backing up, but he has been.”

(Photo courtesy: Sacrementobee.com)

(Photo courtesy: Sacrementobee.com)

Prescott finally won over Jerry Jones. Jones had more love for Romo than most Americans have for turkey on Thanksgiving, making what Prescott did, a huge feat.

The genius of how Jerry Jones handled the media is shown by his ability to start off by taking the pressure off of Prescott and then boosting his confidence as the season has gone on. This created the perfect environment for Prescott to grow and lead his team to a stellar start.

So most of the time Jones is mocked for how he has handled the franchise since the 1990s, but giving credit where credit is due needs to happen here. Prescott is the one thriving on the field, but Jones created the environment for him to succeed. 

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and eSports articles from other great TGH writers along with Joe!

 

“From Our House to Yours”

A Happy Game Haus Thankgiving

We decided a couple of weeks ago that we wanted to do a Thanksgiving piece and give our readers a chance to get to know us a little better! Below are some of the staff members of TGH telling you all what they are thankful for this holiday season. From Our Haus to Yours, have a very happy Game Haus Thanksgiving!

Jared MacAdam- Head of Esports: Well, I’ll go first, being the only Canadian and my Thanksgiving has passed quite some time ago. I’m thankful for the way this site has grown since its inception, how many great writers we’ve had and all the awesome content we’ve produced. I’m also immensely thankful for the way esports has matured in the past year; we’re seeing leaps and strides in key areas like players well being and stability. It’s an exciting thing to experience and to have a little part in. I’m also thankful for all the weirdos in the Front Office who lovingly mock my Canadianisms.

Josh Burris – Editor: I am thankful for sports. I am a proud Cleveland fan and with the exception of the Browns, good things are happening with our teams. I’m thankful I got to see a Cleveland team win a title. I am also thankful for my family and friendships I have at home, school, and from this site.

Ryan Moran – CFO: I am thankful for family, friends, and football. I am also thankful to be working for TGH and to belong to such an exciting community of sports and esports. I am also thankful of the unifying power of sports and their ability to bring anybody together win or lose.

Tim Miller – Vice President: Of course, when talking about being thankful, I have to be thankful for the opportunity to help lead The Game Haus. I’m also thankful to root for the mighty Ohio State Buckeye football team, and that Marvin Lewis should get fired after this year. I’m also thankful for a loving family and loving girlfriend. Finally, I’m thankful to live in a great country with freedoms like no other (no matter how you feel currently), and to go to a solid, christian university in Cedarville University.

Robert Hanes- President: While these last 365 days have been some of the most challenging times in my life, I can say that I have so many things to be grateful for. To start, everyone here at The Game Haus. These people are incredible, as you can read in their paragraphs of what they are thankful for. They have all gone through many things and have worked their butts off while working here. So thank you to all of the Front Office Members, Writers, Podcasters, and League Team Members! I am also very thankful for my friends. They have helped me through some tough times throughout the last year and I do not know where I would be without them. The same can be said for my Father, Mother and Sister. They have been my rocks as I have struggled many times this year. Lastly I am thankful to God and his son, while it sounds cheesy I know they have been with me every step of the way. From Our Haus to Yours, thank you and have a wonderful holiday season!

Terrance Singleton- Social Media Director: I am thankful for the life God has given me. Every time the holiday season comes around I think about how easily I couldn’t be here. My grandfather died on November 19, 2010 right before Thanksgiving. And I was in a pretty bad car accident on December 27, 2012 that broke my neck and cut my scalp open. So every time the holiday season rolls around I always think about how precious life, family, friends, and faith are important in my life and everyone’s life. So on this Thanksgiving when you are watching NFL football games and eating food until you can’t move, tell your loved ones how much you love them because tomorrow is not promised.

Dylan Streibig- NFL Writer: Whether we realize it or not, we all have a lot to be thankful for.  I am no exception this Thanksgiving or any other year. I am thankful to have a roof over my head and a family that loves me. I am grateful for the fantastic sporting events that go on all around the world. They provide me a momentary escape from my life with a physical disability. I am also thankful for my dog and the fact that I am now a published sports writer thanks to The Game Haus. Most of all, I am thankful for the loyalty of my close friends who do not give up on me, even when I give up on myself.

Matthew Hagan- Columnist: I’m thankful for the opportunity The Game Haus has presented me with. Writing about my favorite sport, football, and offering me a column has been one of the best things in my life. I am thankful to have parents, family and friends support while trying to get a degree in college. My mom has been the biggest reason I have made it this far and I am so thankful that I get to fly back to Vegas to spend Thanksgiving with her. I am also thankful I got to see the Cubs win a World Series and attend the victory parade in Chicago. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life. I am thankful for all the opportunities I have had in this amazing country. I am proud to be an American and this Thanksgiving is going to be one of the best ever. Thank you to everyone who reads my articles, weather you agree or disagree with them. I want to wish anyone who reads this, and anyone who may not, a safe, fun and amazing Thanksgiving.

Alex Keller- Recruitment and Retention: What am I thankful for? Where can I even begin… I guess it would have to be with my family and friends. I wouldn’t be in the position I am today if not for their love and support. But it’s so much more than that… the opportunity to even attend an institution like Georgia Tech, let alone graduate from it is an experience I’m incredibly thankful for. And of course, I have to thank everyone who’s been a part of making my experience with TGH so awesome. So, from our haus to yours, have a Happy Game Haus Thanksgiving everybody.

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