We're down to the conference championship games. After going 4-2 in the Wildcard round and 3-1 in the Divisional Round, I'm here to tackle who will be going to the Super Bowl.
49ERS at EAGLES
Philly was sensational against the Giants last week, but the 49ers are a different kind of animal. Offensively they have an outstanding line and great playmakers. Defensively, the Niners are so physical and tackle so well. Of course, that also describes the Eagles. The difference is at quarterback. I just trust Jalen Hurts against the Niners more than a really game Brock Purdy against those Eagles. Eagles by 6
BENGALS at CHIEFS
This game is so hard to pick. Will the Chiefs really lose four straight games in 13 months to these Bengals? Both quarterbacks are elite, defenses playing well and everything is clicking. My main concern is Patrick Mahomes' ankle. Will he be able to make those off script plays against a defensive front that has played well in the playoffs. Bengals by 3.
Wednesday, January 25, 2023
Saturday, January 21, 2023
Last week I went 4-2 with the Vikings and Chargers letting me down.
JAGUARS at CHIEFS
The Chiefs have a week of rest while the Jags are coming off one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history. That won't happen this week. Chiefs by 13.
GIANTS at EAGLES
Man, this is tough. I have felt the Eagles have been the best team over the first 14 or so weeks of the season. Once Jalen Hurts went out, things have changed. The Giants have become more comfortable in who they are at the moment, but I still like Philly in this one. I think the week off has allowed Hurts to get a bit more healed up. Eagles by 4.
BENGALS at BILLS
This is the first meeting between Josh Allen and Joe Burrow, making this the best QB showdown of the weekend. The key will be if Allen can stop turning the ball over. He got away with it against Miami last week but won't against Cincinnati. I'm trusting Allen protects the football and gets the win. Bills by 4.
COWBOYS at 49ERS
To me, the Niners are better than the Cowboys everywhere ... except at quarterback. While I'm not the biggest fan of Dak Prescott, this is easily the toughest opponent and defense that the rookie Purdy has faced over his short career. The key is if Dallas can make him feel uncomfortable and puts real pressure on him to make plays. They will, but not to the point where it really damages San Francisco's offense. 49ers by 7.
Tuesday, January 17, 2023
So, let's get at it.
NO PROBLEM AT ALL
CHIEFS: Patrick Mahomes is likely the NFL MVP for 2022.
EAGLES: Jalen Hurts had an MVP-like season.
BILLS: Josh Allen.
BENGALS: Joe Burrow.
CHARGERS: Justin Herbert.
JAGUARS: Trevor Lawrence.
COWBOYS: Dak Prescott. Despite all of the noise surrounding him, Dak will be back. He's their guy.
VIKINGS: Kirk Cousins isn't the most popular Viking right now, but he's their guy.
SEAHAWKS: It would seem that Geno Smith is the guy for now in Seattle.
BROWNS: Deshaun Watson. They spent a lot of money and draft picks on him and hope a full offseason can knock off the ton of rust he showed in 2022.
STEELERS: Kenny Pickett was their first round pick last year and nearly led Pittsburgh to the playoffs.
BRONCOS: Russell Wilson may have had a horrendous season, but he's got to be the guy with all the money and resources used to obtain him last offseason.
BEARS: Chicago may be the worst team in the league and own the No. 1 overall pick, but they won't be using that pick to draft a quarterback. They are all in with Justin Fields.
A LITTLE BIT OF A QUESTION
DOLPHINS: You would think that Tua Tagovailoa would be the starter, but his concussion issues bring some real world questions about his health going forward. And don't forget that the Dolphins are losing their first round pick in the upcoming draft because they were tampering with Tom Brady.
GIANTS: It seems as if Daniel Jones has proven himself to be the guy for New York, but it is far from a done deal, contract wise. I expect it to get done, but it isn't 100%.
PATRIOTS: Mac Jones regressed last year, but that could be due to New England's messy offensive coaching and play-calling setup. It's doubtful New England looks to make a move right now.
LIONS: If I wrote this over a month ago, the Lions certainly wouldn't be in this slot. But Jared Goff had a fantastic second half to the season and darn near put Detroit in the playoffs after a 1-6 start. Goff was once the top overall pick and started a Super Bowl so it isn't like he is a bum.
FALCONS: I'm guessing Desmond Ridder will be given the opportunity to blossom next season. I doubt they draft anyone early in the upcoming draft, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't consider a later round pick. They also could look to bring in a veteran to mentor Ridder. It should be Ridder's job no matter what they do.
RAMS: This is Matt Stafford's team, but is he in the phase of his career where he'll be missing more time during the season? Baker Mayfield looked pretty good in Stafford's absence, but who could parlay that into a starting opportunity elsewhere.
CARDINALS: With Kyler Murray down with a knee injury, he could miss a sizeable chunk of the 2023 season. So Arizona will need to figure out who their guy will be in Murray's absence. A Jacoby Brissett type job.
DECISIONS TO MAKE
RAVENS: The Lamar Jackson saga has reached an ugly turn due to Jackson missing the end of the season and unavailable for Baltimore's playoff game against Cincinnati. With his contract status up in the air and the possibility of the franchise tag being used, this will be one of the main storylines of the offseason.
BUCCANEERS: Is the Tom Brady era over in Tampa? That will be the question for the second straight season. Will he retire? Will he look to go somewhere else (Miami? Tennessee? Las Vegas?) for a better shot at a championship? Is there any possibility he returns? After that absolute dud of a playoff performance against Dallas, that doesn't seem to be the case.
PACKERS: Does Aaron Rodgers retire? He sure looked like he was retiring the way he left Green Bay's final game of the season. Of course, he could decide to come back for another season with the Packers ... or he wants to play but the Packers may decide that it is time to go with Jordan Love and move on from A-Rodg. Another major offseason storyline.
49ERS: This is one of the weirdest situations in the league. Trey Lance was the No. 3 overall pick that the Niners traded up for, but who missed most of 2022 with an injury and was already a bit of a project. Jimmy Garopollo was the starter most of the year before he became injured. And, well, everyone just loves what Brock Purdy is doing right now in San Francisco. Jimmy G likely moves on and then a decision will need to be made about Purdy and Lance. I mean, it has to be Purdy, right?
TITANS: Look, Ryan Tannehill is expensive and the Titans can get out from under that this offseason. But Tennessee could stick with Tannehill, especially with Malik Willis clearly not ready.
COMMANDERS: Word is that the Commanders' brass is telling potential candidates for offensive coordinator that Sam Howell is the plan for next season. Howell showed a lot in college and came off well in his lone playing time (Week 18) during the 2022 season. Expect them to lock in an experienced backup or retain Taylor Heinecke.
SAINTS: The salary cap limits what New Orleans could do in free agency. Right now, Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton and Taysom Hill don't seem to be long term solutions but they may have to run it back with one or more of those guys. If not, they may be on the market to look at a Baker Mayfield or Carson Wentz to be a stop gap. Yeah. So maybe running it back is not a horrible option.
LOOKING FOR A BRAND NEW GUY
JETS: Sure, there may be an attempt to save Zach Wilson's career, but he's shine is all but gone from the fans and his teammates. With some bigger names out on the market and the Jets with a roster that can contend for a deep playoff run, New York will likely look for a better option.
RAIDERS: All we do know is that Vegas is done with Derek Carr. Carr will be one of the top free agent quarterbacks for several of the teams in this category, but Las Vegas doesn't want him back. Is his replacement Jarret Stidham the answer? Eh. Rumors of everyone from Tom Brady to Aaron Rodgers will stick in Sin City until we get that answer.
TEXANS: Houston is at rock bottom right now. They need a new coach, new quarterback and lots of talent. They also have the No. 2 pick in the draft and look to draft their next franchise quarterback.
COLTS: Well, the Matt Ryan experiment ... among other experiments that went on in Naptown ... didn't work and now they need a new plan. And a new coach. With the fourth pick in the draft, expect the Colts to look for their future QB there.
PANTHERS: Carolina has one of the most interesting quarterback cases in the NFL. Who will be their guy? Sam Darnold looked okay towards the end of the season as Carolina had a real shot at reaching the playoffs. PJ Walker likely isn't the guy. Could Matt Corrall, the rookie who missed all of 2022 with an injury, be looked at as the future hope for the Panthers? There is also the possibility that Carolina could be willing to trade up to draft someone.
Friday, January 13, 2023
The NFL Playoffs start this weekend, so here we go:
SEAHAWKS at 49ERS
Alright, is Brock Purdy ready for this? Is Geno Smith? Seattle combined for just 20 points in the two meetings this season. I think the Niners defense gets it done again. Niners by 9
CHARGERS at JAGUARS
Two young quarterbacks making their first playoff appearances of what both franchise hope to be a regular occurrence. I just like what's around Justin Herbert than what's around Trevor Lawrence. Chargers by 4.
DOLPHINS at BILLS
I picked the Bills to win the Super Bowl with my preseason predictions so I'm riding with them. Miami is starting Skylar Thompson so I think Buffalo flexes its muscle. Bills by 11
GIANTS at VIKINGS
Basically the question is, "do you trust Minnesota"? I do for this game, and this game only. Vikings by 3.
RAVENS at BENGALS
Like the Dolphins, the Ravens will be without their top quarterback as Lamar Jackson. This is a rubber match for these AFC North foes, and I think the Bengals beat Baltimore for the second straight week. Bengals by 7.
COWBOYS at BUCCANEERS
What's funny about this game is that we are seeing two of the biggest brands in the NFL facing each other (Brady vs Cowboys) but both are coming into this game not on the best of terms. Tampa Bay is an 8-9 division champ while the Cowboys looked awful in a loss to the Commanders last week. Dallas is more talented, but they can say that most weeks (like against Washington) and it doesn't always work out. Cowboys by 8.
Monday, December 26, 2022
The cheer of the holiday season makes way for the harsh reality that NFL head coaches will be fired in a couple of weeks. There is no shortage of disappointments this year and there could be a large amount of job openings looming. Here is where I expect those to happen:
Duh, since they've already fired Frank Reich earlier this season and hired Jeff Saturday off of ESPN's desks to come in and take over. The Saturday experiment likely won't last to 2023 so the Colts will be looking for a new coach ... and another new quarterback.
Carolina fired Matt Rhule early in the season, but Steve Wilks has kinda turned the season around. They aren't really good by any stretch, but he's playing to the team's strengths and they are a) competing and b) winning enough games to have a shot at winning the NFC South. Carolina will be sort of tearing it all down next season (they already traded away Christian McCaffery and dumped Baker Mayfield) so who knows where their head is at in regards to keeping Wilks
Denver has been an unmitigated disaster this season and the financial promises to Russell Wilson means he's not going anywhere. Hackett not only has run a miserable offense but the team has been so dysfunctional (they seem to get into a sideline fight every week) that it is clear he has lost control of this thing. Amazing how this was a buzz team to win a Super Bowl when the season started and now they are one of the more lost franchises out there.
There are already reports that Kliff Kingsbury will resign when the season is over, and from his body language in the Cardinals' loss to the Buccaneers he already looks like he's already packed up to move out. Arizona was a disappointment before they lost Kyler Murray for the season and next year could be just as rough with the expectation that he'll miss most of the season. I had a small feeling that the Cardinals would keep Kingbury on just one more year since it would be difficult to break in a new coach without having your franchise quarterback but it seems the decision has already been made.
No one knows why Lovie Smith was hired in the first place and he's proved the doubters right with the worst record in the NFL. Of course, that isn't all on Smith. They have no quarterback and the team has lost a lot of their top talent (Watson, Hopkins, Watt) over the last few seasons that the roster is pretty bare. On Smith's side is that the Texans have competed all season long despite not having the talent to win a lot of games. However, this has the look of a team that will draft a quarterback with the top pick and will want a new coach to come in and work with him.
This is so tough. There are many people who really like Brandon Staley ... and there are many others who have no idea why he does the things he does. Even though the Chargers will likely be in the playoffs despite a slew of injuries, it seems like the season is a disappointment. Like a lot of decisions on this list, the coaching job will tie to the quarterback for the foreseeable future. Justin Herbert is due to get paid and the Chargers will need to make a decision about who they want as their coach going forward.
There's no way Los Angeles is firing Sean McVay, but there is a chance he hangs it up and heads into broadcasting. There was a though that he could do that after the Rams won the Super Bowl in February but the team had a "run it back" sentiment in the offseason. Instead, the Rams looked fat and happy and weren't really competing at a high level even before Matthew Stafford's injury (which has some really big questions surrounding it). Maybe the guys who thought about hanging it up last offseason will do so this year. Maybe McVay heads to the booth.
It was starting to look like Josh McDaniels just isn't cut out to be a head coach, but the Raiders have gone on a late run. Of course, those games have been very fluky so you don't want to put too much stock into the end results when there seems to be issues below the surface. I don't see McDaniels as a one-and-done guy, but it may be better for everybody if Las Vegas gets a new coach and McDaniels heads back to run the Patriots offense.
Another one-and-done possibility? The Saints join the Broncos as teams whose seasons really went wrong fast. We know that their franchise quarterback isn't in the building. Andy Dalton will continue to be a solid backup quarterback but he's no longer a guy that can take you places. If Jameis Winston was the answer, well, he'd be playing. The NFC South is really ugly and the Saints haven't been able to take advantage of that (though at 6-9 are still in the playoff hunt). This looks to be headed to a rebuild situation and I'm not sure Allen could survive that. Then again, they may just decide to give him one more year as a babysitter for the team (a Lovie Smith situation).
Like the entire division, the Falcons may be looking at replacing their head coach. Arthur Smith's offenses haven't been very good, and that's why he's there. Sure, Matt Ryan showed us all how old he was and Marcus Mariota was an interesting starter for 2022, while Desmond Ridder has yet to show us much. I think Smith may get one more year, but he better show a ton of progress.
The fact of the matter is that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were build to make a Super Bowl run this year. That's the way this roster is constructed and the reason Tom Brady un-retired. Sure, injuries to the offensive line early on hurt, but this hasn't looked anything like the team Bruce Arians ran the past few years and not one that Brady is going to win another title with. That begs the question: what will this team look like next year? If Brady retires or decides to walk to another team, does the roster get tore down? If so, does Todd Bowles survive that? Heck, if Brady comes back does he ask for a replacement for Bowles? This just doesn't seem to be working out, but how long do they keep trying?
Okay, so Kevin Stefanski just got Deshaun Watson to play with after nearly two years away from football. He likely gets to have a full season with Watson, even though it has gotten off to a slow start. If the final two weeks look ugly against the Commanders and Steelers, then a change may be warranted.
There is a lot to unpack here. First off, the team has been streaky all season. After starting 1-4, Washington went 6-1 over its next seven games before going 0-2-1 the last three weeks. Games at home to the Browns and Cowboys aren't easy, and Washington could look at a similar collapse like they had last season, which could cost Ron Rivera his job. Still, there is a lot to be said for what Rivera has done as the head coach of a franchise that had to navigate COVID, power through all the Daniel Snyder crap that seems to pop up every couple of weeks and having one of the weirdest quarterback situations any head coach has seen over a three year period (Dwayne Haskins, Alex Smith and his shattered leg, Ryan Fitzpatrick's hip injury less than a half of a game, Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinecke). Also, there is the universal assumption that the Commanders will have a new owner by next spring ... which could mean Rivera's job is safe for one more season at least.
Robert Saleh has made some questionable moves on the field and comments off the field but this team feels like a quarterback away from making noise in the AFC next year. I think he's likely to stick around for 2023.
Say what you want about Jerry Jones, but he's been loyal to his coaches of late. Unless Mike McCarthy embarrasses Jones, he'll likely be back once again in '23.
Friday, December 23, 2022
As the NFL's Week 16 begins in full today on Christmas Eve, it is fun to speculate what the Week 18 Sunday Night Football flex game will be. As you know, the NFL attempts to place the final game of the season as one that has meaning to the postseason. There are a couple of candidates.
TITANS AT JAGUARS
With Jacksonville's win over the Jets on Thursday, they are just a Week 17 win over the lowly Texans from making this a battle for the AFC South crown. The Jags are currently a half game back of the Titans and currently own the tiebreaker. As long as they are within a game of one another in the standings and this game will matter. This is the heavy contender for the Week 18 flex game.
BUCCANEERS AT FALCONS
This actually could be for the NFC South championship and an automatic playoff spot. Right now, the Buccaneers have a one game lead over the Falcons, Panthers and Saints and ... depending on how the next two weeks go ... this could be for all the division marbles. It is not unusual to have a bad division anoint their champion on the final game of the season. Just two years ago, the Washington Football Team needed to beat the Eagles to clinch the NFC East with a 7-9 record.
RAVENS AT BENGALS
By the time we get to this game, both teams will have clinched a playoff spot. The Bengals already have and the Ravens are on the verge of doing so themselves. However, this could be for the AFC North title and have meaning as it pertains to seeding. Right now, the Bengals are 10-4 and the Ravens are 9-5 with Baltimore winning their first meeting and the winner of the division likely lands the No. 3 seed and the loser goes on the road to face the AFC South champ.
COWBOYS AT COMMANDERS
Dallas may not be playing for anything on this day and the Commanders (with that tie) could need a lot of stuff to go on around them to make this game matter. If that does happen, the NFL would love to have the Cowboys in this game against a big rival.
JETS AT DOLPHINS
This could be a thing. The Jets have fallen out of the playoffs right now and the Dolphins are on a skid themselves, but still are holding on to the final postseason spot. The Jets won the first meeting, meaning another win gives them the tiebreaker if they both tie for that last spot.
LIONS AT PACKERS
Wouldn't this be a dream for NBC? Aaron Rodgers with a chance to forge a way into a playoff spot and taking on the Lions who has turned a 1-6 record into a 7-7 mark. Detroit won the first meeting but it may be a stretch to think Green Bay will be able to fight back to still be alive in a couple weeks.
BILLS AT PATRIOTS
Doubtful for this one because there is a lot that would need to happen earlier in the day to make this one matter. The NFL typically doesn't like to try to guess that things break a certain way for this game to matter but instead have this game run simultaneously with the other games that impact this playoff spot. Plus, who knows if the Bills have the top seed wrapped up and won't even need this game.
Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Honestly, there has only been a few times where there was a huge outcry about a team being snubbed in the College Football Playoff. Typically they get it right even if there are a few disagreements from those who feel left out. That will likely not be the case when the Playoff expands to 12 teams soon.
Usually the top four teams are fairly easy to identify because the criteria is so strict that you are debating a small amount of flaws between a small amount of schools. But when you are starting to split hairs between teams with multiple losses across a variety of conferences then it could get really dicey.
Going into this week's championship weekend, Georgia, Michigan, TCU and USC are pretty much universally agreed to be the schools most deserving of receiving the four berths. If they all win their conference titles this weekend, there will be no drama from the Selection Committee. Of course, if any of them lose then there will be a lot of debate about who deserves to get in, but that pool of prospects will revolve around a couple of candidates.
Now let's look at how chaotic the 12-team format will make this process. For starters, the top ranked six conference champions are guaranteed a Playoff spot. Typically that would be the champs from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC plus the top ranked Group of 5 champ. Typically. The other six berths go to wildcard teams. Forget that we have the championship games on Saturday for a moment and just look at those six wildcard teams according to the current rankings. It would have Ohio State (ranked 5th), Alabama (6th), Tennessee (7th), Penn State (8th), Kansas State (10th) and Utah (11th) in the Playoff. The "first four out" would be Washington, Florida State, LSU and Oregon State.
LSU could state that they have beaten Alabama. Florida State then says, "yeah, but we beat LSU". Washington really hasn't beaten anybody except Oregon and Oregon State. Factor in the fact that the "next four our" consists of Oregon, UCLA, South Carolina and Texas and you realize the Pac-12 just has a cycle of who beat who. Meanwhile, South Carolina beat Tennessee and Clemson (who would be Playoff teams in this scenario) in back to back games.
Now let's add those championship games back in and assume those games' favorites (Clemson, Michigan, TCU, USC and Georgia ... along with Tulane) win those conference titles. That adds losses to Kansas State and Utah (who are holding onto Playoff spots) as well as LSU (in that "first four out" scenario). Now how do you cut that? Kansas State, Utah and LSU would have four losses. Could Washington or Florida State work their way back in? Or could Utah (who currently is the only school to beat one of the current Playoff placeholders) cry foul that they had to beat USC twice to get a playoff spot. Would losing a conference championship be held against you as a normal loss?
Now, think about an upset.
Imagine Purdue, who isn't ranked anywhere in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, beats Michigan. First off, would they then become one of the six highest ranked conference champs? Probably, though it would make for an interesting conversation if we had two really stout Group of 5 champs ... like last year with Cincinnati, Louisiana and Utah State. Second, that would then vault Clemson into a first round bye. Yeah ... 8th-ranked Clemson. What if Kansas State upsets TCU? Then Kansas State would also likely receive a bye. How far would Michigan and TCU fall? Michigan couldn't possibly fall below Ohio State who they spanked in Columbus just last week, right? That's also a huge deal because four schools get to host first round games so how they rank will be extremely vital.
Right now, Clemson is ranked 9th and Penn State 8th which means Clemson would have to travel north to play a cold weather game instead of in the warmth of South Carolina. Hey, that's part of the deal and something I am looking forward to ... but let's break down why Penn State would be ranked ahead of Clemson for a moment.
Both Clemson and Penn State have two losses. Clemson's were to South Carolina (18th) and Notre Dame (21st) while Penn State's were to No. 2 Michigan and No. 5 Ohio State. Clemson has beaten Florida State (13th) and NC State (25th) while Penn State has beaten zero ranked teams. Sure, Penn State lost to better teams than Clemson but they haven't beaten anybody either. Clemson also in this scenario would be ACC champions. That must be a huge tiebreaker when considering who gets to host this game. Penn State finished 3rd in their division.
The NCAA tournament has 68 teams and has similar debates about who gets No. 1 seeds, who got left out of the dance and where teams were seeded. Even a 12 team format in football will have those exact same debates except there will be the added drama of byes and home field games. Of course, the debates mean that we care and that their event and sport are being discussed. That's always a good thing.
Tuesday, November 8, 2022
The College Football Playoff has announced their second ranking, so let's see how that would shake out with the future 12-team format.
12-Tulane at 5-Michigan
11-Ole Miss at 6-Tennessee
10-Clemson at 7-LSU
9-Alabama at 8-USC
USC/Alabama at 1-Georgia
LSU/Clemson at 2-Ohio State
Tennessee/Ole Miss at 3-TCU
Michigan/Tulane at 4-Oregon
So, what makes this interesting? For one, there's Alabama and Clemson right in the mix despite everyone declaring them dead. History doesn't mean anything when dealing with today's college teams, but know Georgia would have to play Alabama in a quarterfinal game is both exciting and feeling unfair. We'd also get Tennessee ... who was the top team last week ... playing the team the committee didn't respect in TCU. And due to the championship mandate of the byes, Michigan (No. 3) would play Oregon (No. 4) in the quarterfinal.
For over a decade, I've called for a 12-team playoff. We will get it soon, but not this year. With the College Football Playoff committee releasing their first rankings for the 2022 season, what would that 12-team playoff look like right now?
Here we go:
FIRST ROUND BYES
Remember that the four highest ranked conference champions get the byes. Of course, there are no actual conference champions named, so we'll assume the top ranked team of each conference is the defacto champion.
FIRST ROUND GAMES
12-Tulane at 5-Georgia
11-Ole Miss at 6-Michigan
10-LSU at 7-Alabama
9-USC at 8-Oregon
There's quite the rub here. For one, we get two conference matchups of the four games. LSU-Alabama happens this week while we may be treated to a USC-Oregon game in December. Also, Tulane is the sixth highest ranked conference champion, so we get to see them take on ... AP #1 Georgia.
What will be cool is to see playoff games between the hedges, at the Big House, in loud Eugene and at Bama. Even if it is in games we may have already watched.
SECOND ROUND GAMES
Oregon/USC vs 1-Tennessee
Alabama/LSU vs 2-Ohio State
Michigan/Ole Miss vs 3-Clemson
Georgia/Tulane vs 4-TCU
Wednesday, November 2, 2022
As a Washington Commanders fan, the news that Daniel and Tanya Snyder may be on the verge of selling some or all of the franchise gave the me most feeling of promise of my football team in a long, long time. I did have the feeling back in 2012 when RGIII was taking the NFL by storm and it turned out to be a false feeling of hope.
This could be, too.
If it isn't, we will soon be embarking on a great moment in the history of this franchise. Ever since Snyder bought the franchise and took control in 1999, a once proud franchise has been run like a cheap, rinky-dink organization filled with yes men and ego. On the field, the team has barely won -- just six playoff berths and two playoff wins in 23 seasons. Off the field, the organization has been the subject of Congressional inquiries, investigations into the workplace culture, constant battles over the team's former name, financial irregularities, letting the stadium turn into a dump, threatening to dish dirt about fellow owners and all kinds of missteps of the general running of the franchise.
Fans ... and I'm one of them ... are done with him. I used to think that having an owner who was willing to spend would trump his off-putting nature, but that changed when his money wasn't helping to win and his actions were too disgusting to defend. Under his watch, he turned the team into not just a laughingstock but one fans weren't embarrassed to embrace.
So what happens if he actually sells the team? What should we, the fans, hope for?
A NORMAL FRONT OFFICE
First and foremost, this needs to become a workplace that people want to be a part of. It should go without saying but ... employees need to feel safe. Cheerleaders don't need to be asked to hang out with friends of Dan. No one needs explicit photos of themselves emailed all over the place. It isn't too much to ask to have an exemplary workplace where great minds and talents want to work together to make this franchise great.
A NEW STADIUM
This is a big one for me. Obviously, FedEx Field is falling apart and was already an albatross of a stadium well before then. A new stadium is needed. What worried me is that the Commanders were going to end up with a second or third rate stadium because ... well ... that's the kind of guy Snyder is plus none of the local lawmakers wanted to really deal with the devil that is Snyder. What should be a race between locales in Maryland, Virginia and DC to lure the Commanders to their state/district turned into a hoarder trying to rent someone's B&B. My fear is that a stadium deal would be done under Snyder's watch and no matter who owned the team would be stuck with a newer, crappy stadium. A least a new owner could have better relationships with local politicians and architects (and fans) to give us the best stadium possible to compete for decades to come. There is already rumors swirling that the new owner may be able to built on the old RFK site, something Washington wasn't willing to do for Snyder.
HOPE WITH THE ROSTER
One of Snyder's worst points as a fan is how he meddled in football decisions. His wants usually went against what the football people felt was best and it hindered the organization's progress. The RGIII draft pick is a perfect example. Head coach Mike Shanahan didn't want Griffin III as his quarterback but Snyder pushed for it to be done. Despite the then-Redskins selecting RGIII with the No. 2 overall pick, Shanahan still drafted the guy he wanted, Kurt Cousins, in the 4th round of the same draft. Cousins, while now with the Vikings, is still in the league. RGIII has been out of the league for a couple of years and hasn't been a starter for quite some time. That isn't the only instance of Snyder falling in love with a player that the football people didn't want (the late Dwayne Haskins is another example). Every team misses on draft picks, but not all do so at the behest of an owner that runs his franchise where no one can push back. A new owner doesn't promise this will happen, but the hope is that it will.
There will be a sizable section of the fanbase that will whine to the new owner to change the name back to the Redskins. Those people need to get it into their heads that this not only won't ever happen but it shouldn't ever happen. That's done.
Having said that, is anyone really married to "Commanders"? Sure, the NFL and Nike and a lot of other folks have had to align with the current name because, well, it was Snyder's pick and we all had to deal with it. I will admit that I hated the name when it was revealed as a possibility and was a little pissed when it was chosen. Even as the team is halfway through the season, I still cringe when I say the Commanders name (and it feels even weirder typing it). If the name stays, it stays, and I will eventually just be all in on it because I have to. But if the new owner wants to, ya know, revisit some of the more popular suggestions (like RedWolves or Football Team) then I'd be all for that.
CARE ABOUT US
One of Snyder's biggest problems is he cared about being the owner of the Redskins/Football Team/Commanders than about what he was before he owned them -- a fan. Not only did he routinely put an inferior product on the field, he gouged fans, let the stadium literally fall apart, sued fans, fought against anyone he felt went against him and then wasn't willing to really listen to the fans during the name change. The Commanders are the only team that suddenly has a large crowd for their opponents during home games, but it is heartbreaking for a franchise that once proudly proclaimed how long their season ticket waiting list was. For fans that watched Joe Gibbs and Jack Kent Cooke deliver three Super Bowl championships from 1982 to 1991 and was alongside the 49ers as one of the premiere franchises of that decade, the fans that have stuck around during the last 23 years deserve much better and should be applauded to stick with a franchise that has all but abandoned them.
It is a fractured fanbase. Some are very angry that the Redskins name was retired and will never really root for the franchise again. Others have moved on to a more healthier NFL relationship. Some like the Commanders name and others hate it. But we all hate Daniel Snyder.
Thursday, September 8, 2022
Here we go with another year of NFL predictions. Unlike recent years, there seem to be more questions than answers are more Super Bowl contenders than ever. After the Cincinnati Bengals went from not winning a playoff game in 30 years to minutes away from a Super Bowl championship, there really isn't any off-the-wall thinking anymore. Anything can happen.
We have new quarterbacks everywhere. Russell Wilson leaves Seattle for Denver. Matt Ryan leaves Atlanta for Indianapolis. Carson Wentz leaves Indianapolis for Washington. Deshaun Watson leaves Houston for (eventually) Cleveland. Baker Mayfield leaves Cleveland for Carolina. Remember that the last two Super Bowl champions had a veteran quarterback who was playing their first season with their new team.
So here is how I predict the 2022 season will shake out. As always, I'll hit on some and be wildly off on others. But here it goes:
Buffalo is the class of this division and I'm not wavering from that. I feel they're on a mission to dominate the regular season, earn the AFC's top seed, and watch teams have to go up to Buffalo in January to try to stop them. The rest of the division? Meh. The Patriots still have Bill Belichick running things so I'm giving them the second slot. I like the Dolphins' direction, but I think they may be a year away from being a playoff team in a stout AFC. And then there's the Jets.
The Colts were looked at as a dangerous team last season, and that was before Jonathan Taylor blew up and while Carson Wentz was their quarterback. With Matt Ryan running things, I think they get back to being division champs. The Titans take a step back, but don't count them out. Derrick Henry was un-freaking-real last season before missing the last couple months of the regular season. I do think the Jags make that run down the right track with a new culture, a more experienced Trevor Lawrence and the organization doing whatever they can to help him. Houston is in full rebuild mode but can bite someone along the way. Still, they'll be doing a lot of quarterback scouting this year.
This is a division filled with interesting stories. I mean, the Ravens nearly made the playoffs despite all of the injuries they suffered last season. I think they (plus Lamar Jackson betting on himself) will vault back up to that top status. That's not to say Cincinnati will be worse. They'll be a much better team now that they've tasted success and the front office working on protecting Joe Burrow. Remember that this was a 10-7 team a year ago that got hot. They could win 12 or 13 games and still finish second here. The Steelers made the playoffs despite having a statue at quarterback last season. Not to say that Mitchell Trubisky or Kenny Pickett will light up the league, but it opens up a lot of the play book. Cleveland is a wildcard. They have a ton of talent, but can they stay afloat until Deshaun Watson gets back. And when he does, it will be nearly two years since he played a regular season game.
The best division in football. I still have Kansas City winning the division. I know that Tyreke Hill is gone and this isn't the dynamic team it has been the last few years, but they have a great combination of Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes that I just can't let go of yet. I have the Broncos ahead of the Chargers just due to the fact that I think Los Angeles takes a couple of those confusing losses along the way. They are extremely talented and will soon be in that elite class with the Bills and Bengals in the next wave of AFC studs, but this will be a learning to win season. The Raiders are the best last place team there is and it will be so interesting to see how Josh McDaniels uses Derek Carr and Devonte Adams.
This race truly comes down tn.n.o the Eagles and Cowboys. Dallas may have the bigger names but Philly has the more reliable team and coach. I think the Eagles can work around Jalen Hurts' weaknesses and win the division. Dallas will still be a strong contender, especially if they figure out their offensive line. The Commanders have a puncher's chance if the defense plays to its potential and Carson Wentz is able to be counted on. They were 6-6 and in the division race before a four game losing streak (two to both the Eagles and Cowboys) tanked the season. The Giants are in full rebuild mode and are essentially taking stock of what they have.
I want to pick the Saints really badly, but despite all that feels weird in Tampa Bay I am still sticking with this veteran roster led by Tom Brady. New Orleans is extremely talented, but Jameis Winston is coming off a huge injury and there are a lot of variables to consider. I feel the Saints have a higher ceiling but a lower floor. Carolina and Atlanta will bring up the rear. For the second straight season the Panthers have traded for a quarterback that his former team didn't want anymore. If Christian McCafferty can stay healthy then they have a shot at a wildcard run. The Falcons start with a cast-off quarterback but will look to their future QB (Desmond Ridder) at some point during the season.
Green Bay has Aaron Rodgers and no one else in the division has anything close. Sure, this doesn't feel like a Packers team that can win it all but maybe the window is still open. I'm loving the Vikings and feel if Kirk Cousins has a career low in dumb mistakes then they can take this division. They have such explosive weapons. The have-nots are the Lions and Bears ... oh my. Both are in stages of rebuilding and there's nothing to feel confident in that would make them sleeper contenders right now.
Like each of the NFC's divisions, there seems to be a clear divide between the top two teams and the bottom two teams. Same goes in the West where the defending champs will have to fight off complacency to get back to the big game. Remember that there were some who felt that this team would break apart after the Super Bowl (Sean McVay and Aaron Donald retiring, for example). Also remember that the Niners were thiiiiiiiis close to popping the Rams in the NFC title game and enter this season with the biggest wildcard in the country -- Trey Lance. Will Lance be the guy that unlocks the Niners' true potential or will his inexperience doom San Francisco? The Cardinals have talent, but with DeAndre Hopkins out they may not reach their potential before it's too late. Seattle will be competitive, but won't do any damage.
There will be eight teams fighting for those seven NFC playoff spots, and I think the Niners end up reaching the Super Bowl. I trust Kyle Shanahan and that he'll be able to get Trey Lance on task for a postseason run.
In the AFC, we will see another wild postseason with all seven teams as legit Super Bowl contenders. I think it is finally the Buffalo Bills time.
So we get the Chris Berman Super Bowl. If you remember in the late 1980s and 1990s, Berman used to always predict the 49ers and Bills matching up in a Super Bowl. Well, it happens in 2023 with the Bills winning, 34-21
Sunday, August 21, 2022
The funny thing about conference realignment is that there are all these rumors about who is doing what and who is in an alliance with who that the earth-shattering news usually pops up out of nowhere. I mean, we were all just living life one minute and then all of the sudden UCLA and USC are in the Big Ten.
So who really knows what's going on behind closed doors, what is being discussed and what brainstorming sessions have gone on. One thing is for certain is this isn't over.
I'm an ACC guy and am pretty concerned about what will eventually happen to the league I love. The Grant of Rights is currently keeping the ACC together but eventually it will either end or not be threatening enough to fight. So what can the ACC do? I've been crying for the ACC to try to get Pac-12 schools for over a year now. I'm not sure if that's been seriously discussed by the powers that be in the league or if the Pac-12 schools are even interested but it's something I feel should be vetted for the long term survival of the conference.
To put it bluntly, the members will be spending the next 14 years making A LOT less money than both the SEC and Big Ten schools with the possibility that the Big 12 and/or Pac-12 will either approach or pass them in television revenue along the way. We know that schools like Clemson, Miami, Florida State, North Carolina and others are attractive to both the SEC and Big Ten and if there was any way those universities could break the Grant of Rights deal and leave, they would already been courting an exit. So what can be done?
The Big Ten's recent deal with Fox, CBS and NBC could be a small light for the ACC to make a move. Why? Well, ESPN (who is currently in business with the ACC) just lost a lot of Big Ten inventory and will look to fill it with more ACC and SEC games. The ACC could argue that without Big Ten games, their games are a little more valuable to the network. ESPN will also look to solidify a deal with the Pac-12 to fill that late night window (games beginning at 10pm or later ET) which Fox/CBS/NBC won't really have aside from those Big Ten games at UCLA or USC. So the ACC may want to make a play for several Pac-12 schools to fill that void.
Again, in 2021, I said the ACC should add USC, UCLA, Stanford and either Cal or Oregon. That would be a strong attraction for Notre Dame to also join the conference since they already play five ACC games and now two of their other rivals (USC and Stanford) would also be in the league. That didn't happen with USC now bolting for the Big Ten. Still, Stanford, Cal, Oregon and Washington would be a nice grab with an opening for possibly Oregon State and Washington State to come aboard.
Now, does this move the needle? Not really. Aside from Oregon, none of those football schools do are true TV stars. But it does help fill those ESPN late night windows that they would be paying for anyway, and it could open up the ESPN/ACC contract to renegotiate their deal. Now, you have to make a deal that not only adds significant money to share with four or six more schools but one the other 14 (or 15 counting Notre Dame) programs. The selling point is that ESPN was going to have to spend money on the Pac-12 for those games anyway, that they would actually spending less to add money to a 20-team ACC deal and solidify a lot more content. Plus those ACC at Pac-12 games would be much more attractive to an East Coast audience than a Oregon State-Arizona game. As someone living on the East Coast, I'd only watch a Cal-Washington game if I had nothing better to do, but a Florida State-Washington game would be a bit more interesting to me just because it matters a bit more. The ACC has markets in New York City, Pittsburgh, Boston, Charlotte, Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Louisville that would now have audience caring about a game in that 10:30pm ET window that they really didn't before.
Again, this is likely a Hail Mary of sorts, but one that could work for the survival of the league. If nothing happens, the ACC will just be filled with angry members just waiting for the right time when it is financially feasible for them to leave. Remember that the Big Ten's deal runs only until 2030 and will be up for renegotiation then ... and ACC schools that want to bolt may be willing to make a deal to leave at that point. That may happen regardless of what the ACC does now, but it would soften the blow somewhat and allow the ACC the strength to build back up with more Pac-12 schools or going after the Big 12. It could also be in position to be the third league that would rise up to join the SEC and Big Ten in some other formed football enterprise.
Whatever, the ACC can not afford to just sit and wait this out.
Monday, July 4, 2022
The Pac-12 may be nearing its end. And if you think that a conference that was formed in the early 1900s can't just end this quickly, then you weren't paying attention to the Southwest Conference in the mid-1990s.
By now, you know that USC and UCLA are leaving the Pac-12 and heading to the Big Ten in 2024. That year is of important note since that's the window when Pac-12 teams can leave with no penalty, so expect this to go very quickly. Already, four teams are reportedly looking to bolt the conference for the Big 12.
Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Arizona State are looking at joining the Big 12, and the discussions are very real. The additions make a ton of sense and keeps two geographic "pairs" together. Those four schools would join with soon-to-be member BYU to form a nice mountain region wing of the Big 12. Colorado was once part of the Big 12, Utah will rejoin BYU in a conference, and the two Arizona schools would be aligned with a few Texas schools.
This would leave the Pac-12 down to six schools: Cal, Stanford, Washington, Washington State, Oregon and Oregon State. In all likelihood, Oregon and Washington are leaving at the first chance they get (they've already contacted the Big Ten). Stanford is trying to form a conference pairing with Notre Dame if they join a league, or they could seek independence. We're then down to Oregon State, Washington State and Cal ... none of them attractive options for any of the other four Power 5 conferences. If the Big 12 passes, they could then look at joining the Mountain West.
This is an amazing development considering just one year ago it looked as if the Pac-12 was set to poach Big 12 schools as vultures were circling the league that Oklahoma and Texas left. Now the tables are turned and the Pac-12 is at risk of being a defunct league ... or one that looks nothing like it once did.
With USC and UCLA heading to the Big Ten, the ACC is on alert. The fact of the matter is that the Big Ten and SEC will be paying their schools out around $100M in television money while the ACC is stuck in a long-term deal with ESPN that will pay their members less than half of that. The gap in money is way too large to ignore for the ACC's biggest properties -- namely Clemson, Florida State, Miami and North Carolina.
The grant of rights deal that lasts another twelve years is pretty much the only thing holding the ACC together. Rest assured that schools, lawyers and accountants are looking at ways to circumvent that if they need to break out.
So how does the ACC hold this thing together? Can it avoid watching a max exodus of schools and then forcing to rebuild and rebrand as a Group of 5 type conference?
GO GET NOTRE DAME
If it was that easy, it would already be done. A year ago, I laid out a plan that would've been much more enticing for Notre Dame to join the ACC in football. With both USC and UCLA now off to the Big Ten, that plan is out the window.
Honestly, I don't know how the ACC could now convince Notre Dame to join a league. Sure, of all the "morality" that doesn't exist in college athletics, Notre Dame's approach to football independence may be the only thread that remains. They don't do it just for the money, but because they want to. Obviously, all these giant leagues will begin to squeeze possible opponents out and the Irish will be forced to look to Group of 5 teams to put on their schedule. For instance, it isn't out of the realm of possibilities for USC to end their rivalry with Notre Dame because their nine-game Big Ten schedule just doesn't allow for their own flexibility. That's why Notre Dame got into their soft football relationship with the ACC in the first place -- an inventory of games due to difficulty scheduling. And, as of now, Notre Dame is tied to the ACC if they want to join a conference -- barring an ability to find a way out of that grant of rights deal.
One way to entice Notre Dame is just give them everything they want. Allow Notre Dame to keep their ability to sell their own home games as they've been doing, and the ACC has the rights to the road games. That wouldn't necessarily break the bank with a new TV deal, but it could work with other options I'll list to stabilize the league. Yes, Notre Dame would get what they wanted from the Big Ten and SEC, but the Irish have a long history of not liking the Big Ten and a move to the SEC, while lucrative, is exactly the opposite of the national free reign that the school desires.
GO AFTER THE PAC-12
Last year I wrote that the ACC needed to go after the Pac-12 and try to lure USC, UCLA, Cal, Stanford and either Washington or Oregon to create a western wing of the conference. That way, Notre Dame would see rivals USC and Stanford already in an ACC where they schedule five yearly games and decide it might as well just join the ACC.
Since USC and UCLA are off the table, it isn't as simple anymore. Still, adding Oregon and Washington, as well as Cal and Stanford would be worth looking into as possible additions. Right now, the Pac-12 is where the Big 12 was a year ago and at the crossroads of rebuild or implode. If the ACC comes calling for those schools, they may take the bait instead of either trying to rebuild with San Diego State or Boise State or waiting for the Big Ten to extend membership.
The rumors are that Oregon and Washington are looking to get out of the Pac-12 and have already contacted the Big Ten (who said they're not expanding anymore ... for the time being). The ACC needs to make a play for them. Stanford also wants to be a partner with Notre Dame if they are interested in joining the Big Ten. So why not the ACC go after that as well, especially with what I mentioned earlier. Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah are already looking at moving east to the rebuilt Big 12, which could make the other six remaining Pac-12 members (the four I mentioned, plus Washington State and Oregon State) desperate to get on the first plane out.
Adding four schools puts the ACC at 18 and may be a little better sell to Notre Dame. The league would stretch from New York and Boston, down to Florida, through the south and midwest and out west. As mighty as the SEC and Big Ten are right now, no league would be that broad.
GO AFTER THE BIG 12
The ACC really needs to look at the Big 12 ... namely Texas schools. While the biggest Texas programs reside in the SEC now, Baylor has a great football and basketball programs and they ... along with TCU or Houston ... could move the league into a key football state. While we are on the subject, add in Oklahoma State in the mix. Oklahoma State has already been ready to break out of the Big 12 for a year now and would certainly listen to the ACC's pitch. Pairing them up with a Texas school makes it a bit better for the Cowboys to stomach geographically speaking.
Baylor and Oklahoma State are programs who feel they have downgraded in the newly constructed Big 12 and may opt for a better situation in the ACC ... if they feel it is a better situation.
These are the Big 12 schools to go for. Kansas would also be interesting from a basketball standpoint, but that may be a little too cute. West Virginia, Cincinnati an UCF don't break any new geographic ground, BYU just doesn't fit right in the ACC (though it wouldn't be a bad call to join with that western wing) and Iowa State and Texas Tech don't really move the needle.
REBUILD AS A LOWER TIER LEAGUE
The least popular ... but possibly the most likeliest scenario ... is letting what happens happen and then the ACC rebuild as a lower tier league. Basically take the Big 12's playbook of a year ago, or what the Big East did when the league split a decade ago.
Everything I mentioned before takes a lot of convincing and a lot of things breaking the ACC's way. It also doesn't take into account that the league could still be unstable even after making some or all of those moves. Remember that the ACC was at the forefront of all of this in the early 2000s and 2010s to ensure their survival, and that current grant of rights came when Maryland left for the Big Ten. The league isn't in a position of power, and there is a strong case to be made that Clemson, Florida State, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia Tech and Pitt leaving the league for the SEC or Big Ten, with schools like Virginia Tech, Boston College or Duke able to hitch a ride or join the Big 12 as rats jumping off a sinking ship.
No matter what happens, not all 15 member schools will be leaving the league if it is still an entity. There could be six to ten schools that won't be invited to either the SEC or Big Ten and will need to figure out their next move ... and the Big 12 may not really feel the need to over-expand and add second or third tier ACC schools. That means the league needs to look for new members to keep the league alive and pivot to stay in that tier after the SEC and Big Ten.
When the Big East crashed, the football schools created the AAC (the ACC won't need to form a new league). Last year, the Big 12 raided the best brands of the AAC for their own survival. The ACC could look to add Memphis, SMU, Temple, UAB, Appalachian State, East Carolina, North Texas or Louisiana. Again, this isn't a great option to keep the ACC we know and love the same, but it is a survival inevitability for a proud conference.
Wednesday, April 20, 2022
With the Showtime documentary Cypress Hill: Insane In the Brain premiering on Wednesday, April 20th, I figured I'd list their studio albums according to what I like. No critics. No record sales. Me. So here we go.
10 - BACK IN BLACK (2022)
The album is just ten tracks long and Muggs is nowhere to be found. There's solid cuts on their newest album but nothing that really makes you point to as one of their top performances. "Open Ya Mind" is one of their more political sounding songs, while "Come With Me" uses Tupac's "Hail Mary" to a nice effect. There's nothing spectacular on this album and it barely sounds like a typical Cypress joint.
Favorite song: "Open Ya Mind"
9 - STONED RAIDERS (2001)
Stoned Raiders, to me, is kind of all over the place. This is the first Cypress Hill album to feature rap and rock songs mingled together on the same album. As someone who is not a big fan of their rock stuff (note: I do love "Real Thing" when it came out as well as when they rocked out their hits on their live album, but I'm really not into the other stuff). Saying that, "Trouble" was one of the better attempts at the rap/rock mix, but the others really fall flat. This album had more features than what you're used to on a Hill album, though it is a nice roster of Method Man, Redman, Kurupt, MC Ren, King Tee and Kokane. "Here Is Something You Can't Understand" is a great callback to their first major hit and bumps really well with Kurupt's flow. Still, the best track is "Lowrider" which is so catchy and chill, but still hits hard.
Favorite song: "Lowrider"
8 - TIL DEATH DO US PART (2004)
This album has some outstanding tracks on it ... and then filler the rest of the way. One of my favorite Cypress Hill songs of all time is "Street Wars". It combines Muggs' eerie sound with B-Real's potent gangsta swagger to perfection ... and it moves quickly. "Latin Thugs" may be their best spanglish song since "Latin Lingo". "What's Your Number" adds a reggae touch and puts B-Real in a different position -- chatting up a girl at a bar/club. I mean, I applaud the group for branching out and trying new stuff, but "Ganja Bus" seems out of place. Now, when I originally bought the album, "Ready To Die" ... one of my favorite Hill tracks ... wasn't on it. It is now.
Favorite song: "Street Wars"
7 - RISE UP (2010)
I'm in the minority by saying I really like a lot of this album. It is the first non-Muggs album and it really shows. However, it is interesting to hear B-Real and Sen work off a different style of hip-hop beats -- though just like their later albums, it is uneven. I absolutely adore the hard hitting tracks like "It Ain't Nothing", "Get Em Up" and "Carry Me Away". "Take My Pain" with Everlast knocks, and "Armada Latina" is a cool anthem. Again, there are several rock-based songs that I skip which gives the album a weird flow. I will say that "KUSH" may be their most fun pot anthem, especially with all the name drops.
Favorite song: "KUSH"
6 - SKULL & BONES (2000)
This is a double-album with the first CD (Skull) filled with cleaner and hard-hitting rap tracks (just ten songs and an intro) and the second, Bones, containing six hard rock songs. Just my taste, but I don't listen to the rock CD at all ... but will say that "Rock Superstar" is better than "Rap Superstar" just due to Sen Dog's verse is included. I don't like that they took it out of the rap version. There are some really good tracks on here that hit hard, but the album is very short ... especially if you aren't into the Bones album. I do love "Cuban Necktie", "Stank Ass Hoe" and "Certified Bomb", but it's an album filled with solid songs but not many greats.
Favorite song: "Rock Superstar".
5 - ELEPHANTS ON ACID (2018)
It took eight years after Rise Up for us to get a new Hill album, and this didn't disappoint. While their last album (and their next) were without Muggs ... this is all about Muggs. He even has the trippy "Muggs Is Dead" which was accompanied by a fantastic animated video. Now, there are a ton of interludes on Elephants and several short tracks, but this is their most concept-y album which makes it seem like one long soundscape. For me, there are a couple of huge moments -- "Band of Gypsies" is something I'm sure you've never heard before. When I did, it just grabbed me. "Oh Na Na" and "Reefer Man" are the go-to stoner songs while "Crazy" is a fun trip. "Pass the Knife" begins like it is an interlude and then turns into ... something. "The 5th Angel" may be the most beautiful piece of music Muggs has ever produced.
Favorite song: "Oh Na Na"
4 - IV (1998)
The song most affiliated with this album is "Dr Greenthumb", which not only introduced B-Real's alter ego but became the catalyst for now-legal business ventures among other things. Continuing with the darker sounds of their second and third albums, IV is more ... eerie, with Halloween-type squeals and noises. There are some droplets of rock sounds which will become a major part of their next several albums. Barron Ricks is featured heavily on this album ... and then never heard from again on a Hill track. "Audio X" has B-Real speed rapping, "Looking Through the Eye of a Pig" is sort of a sequel to "Pigs", but from the view of a cop. I worked at Target at the time and this CD came in my shipment two weeks before street date. And I was loving having this album before the masses (back before leaks).
Favorite song: "Dead Men Tell No Tales"
3 - III: TEMPLES OF BOOM (1995)
The third album continued with Black Sunday's dark sound, but mixed with a more Hindu sound and imagery. Songs like "Illusions" were slower and had more of a hazy tempo, while dealing with darker subject matter. There's also the Ice Cube diss track, "No Rest For The Wicked" which opened up one of the better beefs in the mid-1990s. Temples Of Boom also began DJ Muggs' interest in placing more short interludes throughout the album. I bought this on Halloween and didn't listen to anything else through Thanksgiving.
Favorite song: "No Rest For The Wicked"
2 - BLACK SUNDAY (1993)
This was their most popular album with their most popular song. While their first album had a lot of gang stuff mixed with faster-paced party songs, Black Sunday was a lot darker. This album came out just a week before my 18th birthday and was my soundtrack for the summer. I remember first hearing "Insane In the Brain" on the radio like it was yesterday -- driving my car on Albemarle Road in Charlotte, right in front of The Regency. I didn't know a hip-hop album could sound so dark. The wailing sounds mixed with their typical gun play and weeded content made for an exceptional album.
Favorite song: "Cock The Hammer"
1 - CYPRESS HILL (1991)
There's nothing better than the original. I remember first hearing Cypress Hill on BET's Rap City and I was hooked. Obviously it was "How I Could Just Kill a Man", and B-Real's voice was nothing like I had ever heard before. I was 16 years old when I tried to buy the album. The record store wouldn't let me because I wasn't 18 years old (that was B.S.). My mom was in the store, so I gave it to her to buy. She looked at the track listing and saw "How I Could Just Kill a Man", "Hand On the Pump" and "Hole In the Head" and said "should I be buying you this?". She did.
Favorite song: "Light Another"