Category Archives: NFL

Super bowl LV Preview: The Old vs the New, but who will prevail?

It’s that time of the year once again for us British NFL fans to slog through the night to watch the Super Bowl. Super Bowl LV is less than a week away now and after 17 game weeks and 3 weeks of play-offs, we have just two teams remaining, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

I’ve not been a long-term NFL fan, however for the last six years I have always made sure to tune in for the Super Bowl. It is truly a sporting event like no other, and while some sceptics may not enjoy the sport, no one can deny that they like to put on a show.

So, let’s get into the two teams competing this year.

Kansas City Chiefs

The reigning champions are returning to the Super Bowl, but there are no signs that there is any complacency in the team. Kansas cruised to a 14-2 record in the regular season which saw them get a first-round bye in the play-offs.

They saw off the Cleveland Browns despite a late scare to Quarter back Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes was a back and fit for the AFC championship final against the Buffalo Bills, who were no match the might of the Chiefs who secured their second AFC title in a row.

This is the Chiefs fourth ever Super Bowl history and most of this squad will be used to it, having played in it last year. So, expect a confident Kansas team coming into this game.

Credit: Kansas City Chiefs

Who to look out for?

  • Firstly, you have to look at the Quarter Back, Patrick Mahomes. Even when the Chiefs look down and out, you can always count on Mahomes to pull something out the bag and turn the game around.
  • Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. The dynamic duo of the Chiefs’ offence. They have 26 touchdowns between them and well over 1700 receiving yards as well. That’s truly incredible. Expect to see them both used often during the game.
  • Finally, you can’t ignore the defence and Tyrann Mathieu is definitely one to look for. He’s not shy to get some tackles in and he also has the most interceptions in the Chiefs’ defence so Brady will want to avoid him.

This is a big year for Patrick Mahomes as he not only faces one of the greatest NFL players ever, but also, he will be looking to become the youngest ever Quarter Back to win multiple Super Bowls.

The Chiefs have all the pressure on their backs as they go in as strong favourites, and if last year’s Super Bowl is anything to go by, then we should expect the Chiefs to be able to deal with it. To be 20-10 down going into the fourth quarter and still turn it around to win 31-20 is an incredible feat. Will we see a repeat of it this year?

Credit: SB Nation

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

For the first time ever in Super Bowl history, a team playing in the Super Bowl will be in their own stadium. This year the Super Bowl will be played at Tampa’s home stadium, the Raymond James stadium.

This is the second ever Super Bowl that Tampa have ever got to in their franchise history. Their first appearance was 18 years ago, and Buc fans will be hoping that they win their second Super Bowl next Sunday and maintain their 100%-win rate in Super Bowls.

Tampa were not people’s choice to win the NFC championship and make it to the Super Bowl. It looked as though the Green Bay packers would be the ones to make it all the way, however Tampa stunned everyone with some great defensive plays to secure victory.

Who to look out for?

  • Who else but Tom Brady? The man may as well be the encapsulation of the Super Bowl. Brady is chasing his 7th Super Bowl title and during this season he has been on top form after a lacklustre time in his final year with the Patriots.
  • Brady has a great offense alongside him with the likes of Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, Mike Evans, or Chris Godwin. All of which are more than capable to take on the might of the Chiefs’ defence. With 31 touchdowns between them, they could be a handful.
  • You also have to look out for key players in their defence which got them here in the first place. Devin White has made a total of 140 tackles and 9 sacks this season which is incredibly impressive.

This game will be a true test of how good the Bucs defence really is. We saw it save them from a late attack from the Packers in the Championship final.

Tampa have taken us all by surprise by getting this far and the real question is now, can they go a little further? They are the underdogs going into this game and it’s been a few years since we’ve had a good Super Bowl upset.

If any man is to be able to do it then you look no further than Tom Brady. He is at home in this game and no matter what, we always see the best of him in the Super Bowl.

Credit: ESPN

Who will win?

Well, I think I would be a fool if I didn’t think that the Kansas City Chiefs will win and retain their crown.

Kansas have cruised to the Super Bowl this year and it has not looked for a single second like they can be bested. Even during the regular season, Tampa Bay were blown away like cotton wool by Kansas.

While it was a good showing from the Chiefs back in November, they need to make sure that they don’t get complacent because we have seen numerous times this season, Tampa Bay can surprise and shock us.

Kansas to win, but Brady will make it interesting.

To see more from me, check out view-from-the-crowd.com or search for ‘View from the Crowd’ on YouTube.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban Tests Positive, Will Miss Iron Bowl

Nick Saban

After a false-positive earlier in the season, Alabama coach Nick Saban has now tested positive for Covid-19 and is experiencing mild symptoms, such as a runny nose.

The coach will now miss Saturday’s visit by Auburn in the Iron Bowl as he enters the mandated isolation period of a minimum of 10 days.

With Saban sidelined, offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will take over the head-coach responsibilities, a well as his usual play-calling duties.

Saban will miss being on the sideline for one of the biggest games of the season, however, the coach will have access to the same 22-camera angle feed that coaches use to analyse the game.

“I know how important it is for a lot of them. And I know how difficult it is sometimes when you have disruptions to overcome those. But we have a lot of very capable coaches. And the biggest thing I’m going to miss about it is being with our players, being a part of our team and helping those players have the best opportunity to be successful.”

“We’ll do the best we can to try to analyze what’s happening and see if there’s any way we can be of some kind of use. But I have confidence in our coaches and our players that they’ll be able to do what they have to do. I mean, we’ve all got to live with the consequences of what happens whether I’m standing there or not. So that’s something I hope everybody realizes.”

As we reach the pointy end of the college football season, the earliest Saban can return to the touchline will be the game against Arkansas on December 5.

However, his return is subject to passing SEC protocol that states “At least 24 hours must have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and symptom improvement (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, etc.) has occurred, in accordance with current [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidance for isolation.”

Saban is unaware of how he may have caught the virus.

“I’m around nobody. I go home, and I go to the office. I have no idea,” he concluded.

Tua Tagovailoa wins NFL debut against Los Angeles Rams

It was a moment he, his family, and indeed the the NFL world had been waiting for: Tua Tagovailoa’s NFL debut as starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins.

It was like a scene from a Hollywood film; the two-week build up after being named the starter for the Rams game, the passing of the baton from the veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick to the man who would replace him, and Dolphins legend Dan Marino in the stands watching.

Come the end of the show, Tagovailoa would leave with a 28-17 win on debut, 93 passing yards with one touchdown and no interceptions, and a success-starved city of Miami believing that this time, they have found their franchise quarterback.

While it wasn’t a vintage performance, it was a bright new day, and Tagovailoa was able to rely on the gritty Dolphin defence to lift him up.

‘I don’t think I played to the standard of what this offense is capable of. There were certain plays where I could have stepped up and made the right throw, made the right decision. But it’s good that we still came out with the win. Thank God we’ve got a good defense,’ Tagovailoa said.

Yet make no mistake, once he is back to the Tua everyone knows from his time at Alabama, there will be days where he carries the defence, offence, and indeed the franchise.

While this movie did indeed have a fairytale finish, it started as something of a nightmare for Tagovailoa who suffered a strip-sack from the Rams Aaron Donald on his first drop back.

He was also hit hard by Michael Brockers on the same play, the first significant hit he has taken since his career-threatening hip injury on Nov. 16, 2019.

‘It was a good hit. It’s football. Tried to step up and make a throw. Aaron Donald swiped at the ball behind me. I don’t know who the guy was that took me off my feet and pretty much body-slammed me, but that’s football. ‘I’m not going to lie; I did enjoy getting hit that first time. That was definitely a welcome hit,’ added the rookie quarterback.

Tagovailoa threw his first NFL touchdown, a tight goal-line slant to wide receiver DeVante Parker, and was mobbed by his teammates as he returned to the sideline with the ball – one he has vowed to keep – tucked firmly under his arm.

‘It was fun to be able to play a full, 60-minute game being that it was my first start in the NFL. We faced a really good defense. I’m proud of what we got to do offensively, and I know there’s still plenty of things that we need to correct,’ concluded Tagovailoa.

While there will be plenty of ups and downs ahead, for now, the 22nd quarterback to start a game since Dan Marino’s retirement in 2000 has given the city of Miami hope, and something to celebrate.

Crimson Tide Season Hits Low Ebb With Jaylen Waddle Injury

Just one week after blowing away SEC rivals Georgia, Alabama’s season hit a low ebb as star wide receiver Jaylen Waddle suffered an ankle injury on the opening play of the game against Tennessee that will keep him side-lined for the remainder of the season.

The most electric player in college football, Waddle is the Crimson Tide’s top receiver, a candidate for the Heisman Trophy, and before the injury, was an almost certain Top 10 draft pick if he elected to turn pro at the conclusion of the college season. That ranking is now in doubt.

Jaylen Waddle Suffers Broken Ankle

On the opening return of Alabama’s crushing 48-17 victory over Tennessee, Waddle was brought down, with his ankle pinned to the turf. At the completion of the play, he was carried from the field and didn’t put any weight on the injured ankle.

He was later taken to hospital in an ambulance, and coach Nick Saban confirmed the extent of the injury at half time.

‘He’s out for the year, and it’s a shame because he’s a great player. It’s exciting for college football to see a guy play like that. I hate it when he gets hurt on a play like that – you know, you’re not supposed to bring the ball out when you’re that deep in the end zone. But he’s a great player, so you got to let him use his judgement.’

Rehab Starts Now For Waddle

Waddle is being flown privately back to Alabama, where he will be assessed by team doctors before surgery to repair the damaged ankle.

Such a devastating injury will most likely mean the star receiver has played his last game for Alabama, with Waddle likely to declare for the draft.

‘We’re going to fly him back privately with the doctors and take him back to Birmingham and see what we have to do right away. If that’s the case, and we’re pretty certain that it is, he would probably be out for the year.’

‘It’s really a sad time for me for Jaylen Waddle and for his family. The guy’s a great player, a great teammate, an exciting player to watch. I hate that people in college football can’t see him play more. We’re going to coach the players we have and do the best we can to try to get better,’ added Saban.

Injury Leaves Hole In Offensive Production

The injury to Waddle leaves a big hole in the Alabama offence, as the junior from Houston was posting frightening numbers early in the season.

In the first four games he had at least 120 yards receiving, leading Alabama with a staggering 557 yards off only 25 catches.

His production on punt returns had also been immense, clocking up 733 punt return yards, placing him 6th all-time for Alabama.

Almost a footnote in the game was Saban getting yet another win over a former assistant, improving his record to 23-0 and giving him four consecutive wins over former assistants this season.

‘It’s always a great win,’ Saban said. ‘It’s a great rivalry game. I know it means a lot to a lot of people in the state of Alabama and certainly proud of our players for the effort that they put in and the game we played. It’s always good to win.’

Saban and his coaches will need to work hard to instil the ‘next man up’ mentality in their charges over the coming weeks, or the tide could go out on what was once looking like a shot at another National Championship.

What Has Alabama v Georgia Told Us About College Football In 2020?

After a meeting of two SEC heavyweights, what has Alabama v Georgia told us about college football in 2020?

Well, it’s told us the more things change, the more they stay the same!

Off-field Drama

A week of turmoil saw master coach Nick Saban sidelined with COVID (a false positive it turns out). On the back of a terrible defensive showing against Ole Miss, this was supposed to be the week that the balance of power shifted in the SEC.

FALSE POSITIVE: Saban thankfully didn’t have Coronavirus

Only Alabama didn’t get the memo.

After three successive negative tests, coach Saban was cleared to don the headset and patrol the sideline, dealing a psychological blow to the Bulldogs of Georgia.

Going into this game, Saban was 21-0 against his former assistants.

In this match up of a high-octane offense vs a smothering defence, surely the tables would be turned and the all-conquering defence would strangle the Alabama offence.

This would’ve given Kirby Smart his first win against his old boss while atoning for defeats in 2017 and 2018.

But it wasn’t to be.

Game Day

After Saturday night’s 41-24 win, Nick Saban is now an incredible 22-0 against his former assistants.

Georgia had their chances in this match, but they lacked the composure and mentality needed to get over the hump.

Previous defeats are still fresh in the memory, and may have played their part.

On Saturday, Georgia led 24-20 at halftime, and lost.

In the 2017 Championship game, they led 13-0 at half time and had one hand on the bowl, but lost.

In the 2018 SEC Championship game, they led 21-14 at half time, but lost.

So, what does this result tell us?

Well it makes one thing very clear, Alabama are now the undisputed second best team in college football, behind the juggernaut that is Clemson.

After another Saban Masterclass, the coach was effusive in his praise for how his team handled a challenging week.

‘It felt great, it was a great win for our team, it was a great win for our fans. Georgia has a great team, this was the kind of game you come to Alabama to play.

‘Our players did a great job, they handled the disruption of the week very, very well. Showed a lot of maturity, played a lot better in the second half. Kind of got control of the game, I’m really proud of the players, the way they competed.

‘We knew it was going to be a street fight, we knew we were going to have to go 15 rounds. I’m really proud of the way they did that.’

And what of Georgia’s defense?

There is no shame in losing to a team that posts one of the most potent offences in the game today.

  • Mac Jones is firmly in the Heisman discussion after another week where he put up numbers eerily similar to his predecessor Tua Tagovailoa (Jones was also named SEC Offensive Player of the Week after the Georgia game).
  • Najee Harris is almost unstoppable. After five (yes, five!) touchdowns against Ole Miss, he followed up with 152 yards and one touchdown against a Georgia defence that was hell-bent on stopping him.
  • With a receiving core of Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and John Metchie III it gives Jones so many options to move the chains or take long shots and make explosive plays and keep the defence on the field, grinding them down.

However, you come at the King, you best not miss.

‘We couldn’t stop them. We got outcoached,’ said Georgia coach Kirby Smart.

After Saturday’s loss, Georgia have slipped to #4 in the AP Top 25 poll, with Notre Dame taking the #3 spot.

Naturally, Clemson stay in the #1 spot with an astonishing 54 votes, while Alabama are in the #2 spot with eight votes.

With Trevor Lawrence in devastating form it would take a miracle, a disaster, or both for Clemson to be dislodged from the top spot. And for Alabama, with no ranked teams remaining on their schedule, they should lock up that number two spot for the College Football Playoff.

However, the final two spots are well and truly up in the air, and as we have seen in 2020, anything is possible…