So yeah about “Rodgers and the NFC” /Ed Kracz Balance NFL Contributor
By Ed Kracz
Too many of the stars in the NFL heavens have begun to flicker out.
Another weekend of games are complete, and on this one, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers couldn’t make it to the finish line, breaking a collarbone in his throwing shoulder on a clean hit from Minnesota linebacker Anthony Barr during their game on Sunday. So Rodgers joins other stars such as the Giants’ Odell Beckham, the Texans’ J.J. Watt, the Cardinals’ David Johnson, the Vikings’ Dalvin Cook, and the Patriots’ Julian Edelman on the shelf for the remainder of the year.
It’s not good for the league or its fans when these types of high-quality players go down before the season has even begun to get within ear shot of trick-or-treaters ringing doorbells on Halloween.
Strictly from an on-the-field perspective, the injury to Rodgers may have the greatest consequences not only on his team, but across the entire NFC landscape, from the east coast where Philly is making plenty of noise to the west coast where Seattle’s defense keeps thumping right along.
Rodgers was arguably the best player in the league. He gave the Pack a chance to win any game they played, even though Green Bay is a flawed team. So is just about every team in the league, though, which made Rodgers the great tiebreaker and his team a perennial Super Bowl contender.
Now, Green Bay will attempt to stay afloat with a former fifth-round draft pick in Brett Hundley and a backup who played his college football at the tiny Division III Wesley University in Dover, Del.
Meanwhile, the rest of the NFC salivates.
Suddenly, the Eagles are the favorite to earn a No. 1 seed. They have the best record in the NFC at 5-1. Seattle is in the hunt for the top spot with a defense that is still ferocious and a quarterback in Russell Wilson who has been to the mountaintop once already in his career. Don’t count out Carolina, yet, either despite a 28-23 loss to Philadelphia last Thursday.
None of these teams have anything locked up, by any means, though.
Not now, not after the momentum Rodgers’ injury gives teams like the Falcons, who were a 13-point favorite at home on Sunday, yet somehow found a way to the Jay Cutler-led Miami Dolphins. Or the Detroit Lions, who looked like a team to be reckoned with until losing their last two games, giving up a whopping 52 points to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
The Washington Redskins fought tooth-and-nail to get to 3-2 by surviving an upset bid from the winless 49ers on Sunday.
Go right down the list … Minnesota, especially quarterback Teddy Bridgewater given the green-light to practice this week, the Los Angeles Rams with a 31-year-old coach in Sean McVay doing wonders with former No. 1 draft pick Jared Goff, and on it goes.
Really, there are only two teams who don’t look like they can make it into the playoff field of six and they are the 1-5 Giants and 0-6 49ers. Maybe the Packers are the third now that Rodgers is done.
Well, with Rodgers’ star now extinguished most of the NFC teams have an even greater chance to shine.
’NFL Films Presents: Touchdown in Israel’ Airs Friday, October 20 at 8:00 PM ET on NFL Network
“Bringing the game to the rest of the world…There’s nothing better.” – Joe Montana
NFL Films Presents: Touchdown in Israel airs on Friday, October 20 at 8:00 PM ET on NFL Network. The one-hour show produced by NFL Films and hosted by Katie Nolan follows the unforgettable spiritual journey of New England Patriots Chairman & CEO Robert Kraft and 18 Pro Football Hall of Famers to Israel to relish in the faith-filled culture and spread the gospel of America’s Game.
Touchdown in Israel follows Kraft and the team of 18 Hall of Famers including Jim Brown, Joe Montana, Roger Staubach, Cris Carter, Aeneas Williams and Joe Greene as they visit historical and biblical landmarks including the Mount of Beatitudes, Jordan River, Masada, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Western Wall, City of David and the Dead Sea. Together, the football legends absorb the Holy Land’s offerings and form powerful bonds with one another.
Included in Touchdown in Israel are reflections from Hall of Fame cornerback and founding pastor of Spirit Church in St. Louis Aeneas Williams discussing how God helped Williams through his football career, and Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter sharing his story on Christ saving his football career and helping him overcome drug abuse, as well as baptisms in the sacred Jordan River for many of the Hall of Famers.
Kraft pioneers the integration of Israeli culture and American football, opening the Kraft Family Sports Campus to develop another cultural link between the United States and Israel. Alongside Kraft, NFL football greats help foster football’s growth in Israel by coaching and mentoring local Israeli football squads in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Touchdown in Israel features the following Pro Football Hall of Famers:
Provided below are some select quotes from NFL Films Presents: Touchdown in Israel:
– “You see us with the equipment on. You see us with the helmets on. But at the end of the day, we’re just human beings that are in need of Christ…Learning to worship God helped me learn to overcome fear. So many people never reach their destinies, never reach their potential because they never learn that they are created in God’s image. As they learn to worship the One that created them, the fear begins to dissipate because God becomes bigger then whatever that fear is.” – Aeneas Williams
– “I continue to thank God for allowing my family and me, Jonathan, Daniel and Joshua to help continue to build Jerusalem the Holy City all together, as one nation, one city, and with a prayer for peace, the nation of Israel lives.” – Robert Kraft
– “I came here as just a member of the Hall, but man I am leaving with some special relationships.” – Marshall Faulk
– “Bringing the game to the rest of the world…There’s nothing better. What you’re doing with bringing American football here, it is something that brings people together.” – Joe Montana
FTF CFB TOP 5
Rick Riggin Official College Analyst for The Balance
When we have weeks where no ranked teams play each other, crazy things happen… Or maybe it was just because it was the Friday the 13th weekend??
This weekend we saw 4 of the Top 10 teams go down starting with Clemson and Washington State Friday night, followed by Auburn and Washington on Saturday. The fun didnt stop there though. It took OT for Michigan to finish off Indiana, and Texas had a late lead against Oklahoma, before Baker Mayfield put the Sooners on his shoulders to get the W in the final minutes.
So here is the ever evolving Flipping The Field Top 5 Rankings.
1. Alabama – No surprise. “To be the man, you have to beat the man, WOO!” – Ric Flair… And Arkansas really had no shot at doing that. Only A&M has been close so far.
2. Georgia – Just could be the man to beat the man but we won’t find out until the SEC Championship Game.
3. TCU – The Big 12’s only hope the way I see it right now. I know Oklahoma beat Ohio St at Ohio St, but man, the loss to Iowa St just looks really bad. As long as the Big 12 doesn’t cannibalize itself, TCU will be in the Playoff.
4. Penn State – I left them out last week, but not out of disrespect… I was just wrong. If they can avoid a disappointing loss, or a late loss, or just avoid losing is what I mean, the Big 10 Champ definitely gets in.
5. Ohio St – Yup, they’re on track to bust up the Playoff again with their proven formula of losing early. How bad does the loss to Oklahoma look now? They just need to keep doing what they’re doing like famously said by Charlie Murphy. That OSU-PSU game is growing large.
Oh by the way. There’s about a half a dozen 1 loss teams right now that can crash the party. Like I said, this ranking evolves weekly… Be sure to Subscribe, follow @Flipping_Field and @Riggin_Rick on Twitter.
By Ed Kracz
Official NFL Contributor to The Balance
The Dallas Cowboys have the weekend off thanks to their bye, but the drama that has surrounded star running back Ezekiel Elliott did not take a break.
Elliott’s on-again, off-again six-game suspension was reinstated earlier in the week. Elliott, the Cowboys and the NFL Players Association refuse to go quietly into the night, however.
The NFLPA has asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for an immediate recall so they can pursue a full-panel hearing with the court. If the recall goes through, Elliott may very well be able to play in Dallas’ next game on Oct. 22 against the winless 49ers. If it does not, he will sit out games against San Francisco, the Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angles Chargers. He would not be eligible to return until Nov. 30 against Washington.
By then, the Cowboys’ defense of the NFC East title they won last year, when they went 13-3, may be out the window, because the Eagles appear to be in good shape to unseat them.
The Eagles are sitting at 5-1, compared to Dallas’ 2-3, and Philly quarterback Carson Wentz has taken a huge leap forward from his rookie season. Wentz has thrown seven touchdowns in his last two games and has been over 300-yards passing in half the team’s games this year.
More importantly, the Eagles are playing team football and free of the drama that surrounds the Cowboys and also another NFC East team, the New York Giants, who are sitting at 0-5, have injuries galore at receiver and had to suspend cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie earlier in the week when he complained about being taken out of a recent game.
Elliott and the Cowboys seem to be affected by the suspension issue.
The offensive line, which is one of the league’s best, isn’t playing at the same level as it did last year when Elliott led the NFL in rushing with 1,631 yards.
Also, in his first five games last year, Elliott had 546 yards and five touchdowns. In his first five this season, he has 393 with one touchdown and was held to eight yards on the ground by the Denver Broncos in Week Two.
Should Elliott be lost for the next six games, the running game would be handled by Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden. Not bad, but not Elliott, either.
That means quarterback Dak Prescott, who was last year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, will likely have to shoulder a heavier load.
Prescott has the targets to be effective in future Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten and receivers Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, and Cole Beasley, but the quarterback also has an 11-game streak where he has failed to throw for more than 300 yards.
That would have to end if Elliott’s suspension remains in place.
On a day where we honored our battalion’s retired Commander, Gen. Manning, our Vice President seemed to concede an early defeat by leaving the battle arena as he faced the crouching enemy. Today was bittersweet as I, once again, was not able to join my men in the trenches. But we were able to come away victorious against the invading gold miners of San Francisco. Now we depart these blood soaked fields to battle Titans from Tennessee. The journey will be short, but the fight will be long.
The title is the question for this article… Well, this isn’t going to be much of an article, it’s really more of a question for you to comment on. So what’s the deal with USA soccer, more specifically, the USMNT? My thought is (money). I feel that our talented players go to Europe where they pay huge money for soccer, and they develope players on a different level than we do. My second thought is mindset and culture. What I mean is, we know that we’re not going to win the World Cup, but we’re perfectly content on just making it to the World Cup. (Example) – Indiana football knows it can’t win the National Title, but they’re perfectly happy with just 8 wins and a bowl game. I’m not saying the USMNT is the IU Football of the world, but I feel like as a soccer fan, that’s where the mindset is. So what needs to change as far as mindset/culture, and money/development? Our current coaching and mix of old guys and young guys clearly isn’t working. Feel free to leave a comment here, or tweet @Riggin_Rick or @Flipping_Field.
Thanks to Rick Riggin our official College Football Analyst
Before we begin, here is the actual AP Top 5…
Now let’s look at the FTF Top 5. Definitely debatable, but that’s what makes college football fun. (Disclaimer) All questions and complaints go to @Riggin_Rick on Twitter…
1. Alabama – Yes, obvious easy choice. Bama is the clear cut number 1. Even after a close win against A&M at Kyle Field, Nick Saban is right. “We’re not going to beat everybody 66-3.” Yeah the SEC might not be what it was 5 years ago, but then again, I think the conference is trending back up to the top. Which brings me to my #2.
2. Georgia – Talk about a complete turn around. Well, they were never really bad under Mark Richt, but they never played defense like this under him either. Kirby Smart has this team looking like a thorn in Bama’s side for years to come.
3. Washington – Washington at #3??? What the hell kind of hack job ranking system is this? The truth is, it seems like when you see a Washington score they’re winning by 40 (give or take). That just smells like dominance. Crazy good offense, good defense, and a really damn good Head Coach. But wait…. They still got a date with USC down the road.
4. Clemson – Kelly Bryant has big shoes to fill being the guy that follows Deshaun Watson. But he’s done a hell of a job so far and I might argue he’s actually a better runner. I said runner, not QB… Defense is strong, actually all around they’re good. The question is, would they beat the top 3 teams in this ranking on a neutral field? (Debate), and go!
5. TCU – What the hell, not Penn State?!? Have you seen TCU’s defense? They shut down what most of thought was the one of the best offenses in CFB. (Oklahoma St). Kenny Hill, Kenny Trill, whatever you want to call him, is playing on Baker Mayfield level. I put them at 5 because I’m showing some love. Plus their mascot is pretty damn cool.
So why did I not include Penn State? I love what James Franklin has done at PSU. My problem is I feel they rely on Saquon Barkley too much. Ask yourself this, then fight me on Twitter later. (Would they still be undefeated without Barkley?) Yeah they play tough D, but the offense goes when Barkley goes. No disrespect, college football is better when Penn State is relevant. But it looks like Ohio State finally got it’s sh*t together, and these two are on a collision course….
Indianapolis- So it’s been so much fun covering the month of May here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Its qualifications weekend and and we are under a rain delay. So I thought this was the perfect time for this story.
As you know what we always say over on the Balance Radio Show. “This is the ONE place where fanatics can come together and talk about their favorite teams. The Balance brings you an analytical breakdown of sports from a Fans point of view.”
So often we get caught up in the media side and forget our own slogan. So when I came across a “MEGA” Indy Car Fan, and not only a Indy Car Fan but the biggest Helio Castroneves fan it gave me an awesome opportunity to make slogan a reality… I would like to introduce you to Shelby Bohmer!
I asked Shelby to tell me about being such a huge Helio fan. I wanted her to tell her story in her words…. so here ya go.
A FAN’S LOVE FOR RACING: HOW ONE PLACE & ONE MAN STARTED IT ALL…
Sports…they’re activities that push athletes physical, mental, & emotional abilities with a competitive spirit and a strong sense of determination. Such mindsets and abilities fuel their senses-a fuel so powerful it leads toward success in climbing the “athletic ladder.” One sport requires 1 man or woman to put their trust in not just man, a team, or themselves, but also in machine, a machine in which they are the “pilot” of…a full on battle of Man VS Machine. It’s a machine designed to make any person see that speed has no limits. These machines rage at over 200+ miles per hour, are open-wheeled, run on pure ethanol, and are ready for people to experience one of the most “thrilling rides” ones eyes can behold. Have I peaked your interest yet? Keep Reading On To Hear My Story…
I, Shelby Bohmer, live in the Hoosier state of Indiana. If you’re a true race fan, one would know that Indiana is home to racing’s “Grand Cathedral, the “World’s Greatest Race Course.” This is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I grew up in a family that through the generations loved racing and the biggest event ever held at that grand 2.5 mile oval of glory, the Greatest Spectacle in Racing…the Indianapolis 500. Being in a race-loving family, I often heard stories of past legends of four-time winners Al Unser Sr., Rick Mears, & A.J. Foyt, among others like Johnny Rutherford, Bobby Unser, and Mario Andretti. On Memorial Day weekend we’d all listen and watch both the radio and T.V. broadcast of the race.
Knowing my family racing background, I found it was time I found out for myself what this place and racing was really all about. I was 16 years old when my step-dad took my mom and I to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a day of practice in May of 2009. Just seeing the place from a distance gave me chills and goose bumps, or should I say “race bumps!” The sights, sounds, and smells of the place made me feel like I was in a whole other universe-which I was; I was at “The Racing Capital of the World.” Race Fans were everywhere getting pictures, autographs, and seeing all the action of those glorious speed demons we call race cars. Now I could see what everyone means by IMS changing you when you visit such a place of immense history, tradition, and legacy. Since I was starting to gain a liking in the sport, it was time to choose who I thought would be my favorite driver. I noticed that the one driver I wanted to know more about happened to be driving my favorite number, 3. 3 has a significance knowing I was born on a “3” on my birthday. Therefore, I asked my mom and step-dad about the man who drove the #3 car. They told me all about how he had back-to-back wins, the 2 years a rising-star and Brazilian won as a Rookie in 2001 (Rookie of the Year) & again in 2002, how he climbs the fence with his victories, and how he overcame adversity to be able to come back and race again when his career and life were on the line that year, this driver being Helio Castroneves. I was inspired by what he had accomplished so far in his career and what he overcame, loved his race number, and saw how good he was to his fans. To add in a little humor, he isn’t too bad to look at either. 😉 In that moment I thought that he might just be “the one”, my favorite driver in my new favorite sport.
It’s race day for the 93rd Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 24th, 2009. I was in my living room ready to cheer Helio on as he raced with 32 other drivers looking for glory-Helio looking for win number 3. The excitement and intensity built as each lap came and went, when in one BIG moment, Helio made a pass around New Zealander Scott Dixon for the lead! I was shouting and jumping up and down like crazy! Each lap winded down until the moment came; the announcer Mike King said, “Open the Door to the 3-Time Winners Club; there’s a brand new member, and his name is Helio Castroneves!” To see his pure joy, passion, and emotions pour out that day made me realize I knew my gut instinct was right. I had chosen the right driver for me. Not only had I chosen a winner but also I had fallen in love with the man and driver who is Helio Castroneves.
The next year following Helio’s 3rd win at IMS, 2010, continued to grow my love for him and the sport. That year I attended IMS Pole Day to witness Helio gain his 4th Indy500 Pole (his previous 3 being in 2003, 2007, & 2009) with an average speed of 227.970mph. I also went to IMS Community Day to attend his book signing (his book entitled: ‘Victory Road: The Ride of My Life’) where I had one of my first up-close and personal moments with Helio. IMS even posted a picture of our meeting on their website. The next year (2011) went by and so did another season now leading into the next season in 2012-the BIG year that changed EVERYTHING.
It was that time of year again, a new race season in 2012. Helio opened up the season in St. Petersburg, Florida with a win and a touching tribute to the late Dan Wheldon. The season rolled on to the the time when racing came to town in Indianapolis for the “Month of May.” That year was my first time to ever have a bronze badge garage pass. Walking into the paddock gave me a behind the scenes look of how the sport fully ran. I couldn’t believe how much it really took with the mechanics feverishly working to make a perfect car set up, drivers out and about signing autographs for fans, cameras clicking for pictures, and interviews galore for the media. Being that up close & personal with the race world got me hooked for life, as we all are a part of one big race family. That was the first year that started a now up to 2017 6 year tradition of getting a picture of Helio and I together at IMS and having him sign each picture. That was also the year I noticed Helio was on social media with Facebook & Twitter, so I decided to “like” his Facebook page as well as give him a follow on Twitter to support him and follow along with the rest of his 2012 season, where him and I did a bit of interacting throughout it.
That season for Helio ended with him in 4th place in the championship. Now, what to do to help the off-season go quicker…any ideas? I had one up my sleeve, as an immediate light bulb came on inside my head. Feeling inspired by Helio’s 3 Indy500 wins, I wanted to make a tribute to commemorate them. After working hard on the video for a good couple weeks or better, the final product was ready to be released for all to see. I put my video up on my Twitter page (@SHELBYB03) and tagged Helio (@h3lio) in hopes he may see the tribute I created for him. Low and behold I got online on October 26th, 2012 to see that my video was highly received by the man himself. Helio cried tears of happiness as he watched the tribute before him unfold and said in his own words: “Thank you, Shelby, for such a great honor of having this beautiful video made for me. This is amazing! This is the reason I admire all the fans, Shelby…this was the best gift ever-THANK YOU.” It was a fair trade…a video tribute for a follow as he followed me back on his Twitter that very day…thus a camaraderie was born.
Throughout the next 4 seasons, 2013-2016, my relationship with Helio and his family, sponsors/marketing partners, race team, & PRs grew. Now they all know me by a name and face basis when I go to IMS each year. In 2013 I created a fan motto for Helio and his team: the motto being #TeamHelio…WeBelieve in October of 2013 for his run for the championship where he placed 2nd and received his 4th Texas win. Going back to sponsors and marketing, I have been asked to help with promoting products from his sponsors and have been able to help grow his fan base in the process of helping with such promotions, one of the biggest milestones being both 100,000 & 150,000 Followers on Twitter. It is often been said by fans that I am the “Walking Helio Catalogue,” as doing this has been an outlet to allow me to connect with the race community on a multitude of levels. Even members of Helio’s family-his sister Kati & girlfriend Adriana, and his team all have expressed their thanks for supporting Helio and how they saw me as his “Number One Fan.”
A major highlight of those seasons was in 2014. I was able to drive around the famed track on Community Day and had the ultimate experience of going to my 1st Indy500 in person on May 25th, 2014, the 98th Running. Helio was in the Yellow Submarine, bringing back a design that was drove by legends past, and now it was Helio’s turn. Boy what a race it was! Him and Ryan Hunter-Reay battled it out to the end where sadly it ended just 6 hundredths of a second shy of win number 4. I almost witnessed history before my eyes to see Helio become the next 4-time winner-gut-wrenching and heart breaking-but still proud of him knowing he gave it his all and more. A week later couldn’t be sweeter as redemption was Helio’s in gaining his 29th career win in Detroit, where years ago in 2000, “Spider-Man” was born knowing this was the race that he first climbed the fence as an act of celebrating victory. 2014 was a solid year with a 2nd place championship finish to his Penske teammate Will Power.
2015 was another solid year with Helio being 5th in the championship. 2015 was also when I joined an Helio fan group on Facebook, Helio Castroneves Fans. I there kept record of the 2015 season, keeping fellow fans in the loop on race season stats and Helio’s appearances and special events throughout the year. It is a place for fans to connect and get to know each other better and to show support with pictures and messages. I still take part in that group and encourage other fans to join. I felt after having a season without a win, it was time to get Helio pumped for the next season…a light bulb idea went off again in my head, the “Cheer On Helio Project.” I proposed after the 2015 season ended in our fan group that I would take up to 100 fans to join in to send Helio messages that I put together in a video to begin his 2016 off right. He saw this video too with much positive feedback: “Oh My Gosh! It’s because of fans like these I feel so pumped for another WE BELIEVE season. Let’s Do This! Thank You! I’m very touched…I’m telling you I will win this season…We together will win this season.” This video was said to be Helio’s favorite one I had made for him.
With 2016 ahead of him and the fans behind him, Helio started it off well with 2 pole positions, one in Long Beach and Phoenix, where in Phoenix, he became the “Speed King” with a new track record! After Phoenix Indy came again. He gained momentum with a 2nd place finish in the GP of INDY race. He started 9th in the field of 33 that year and gained him and his team an 8th pit-stop competition where right before me, I saw his trademark victory celebration as “Spider-Man” climbed for the fans. He did so in knowing he felt the energy of the crowd raving and roaring after the win. What a sight! I know it will be one that stays with me forever. The 500 looked good until he was clipped in the back rear bumper pod of his car, but he took it with dignity and moved forward to finish his 2016 season in 3rd place in his 17th season with Team Penske, it’s 50th year as a Team went 1-2-3, and was named by his fans in a competition Penske held as “Captain’s Finest.” I was able to go to the IndyCar Championship banquet that year, as it was held in Downtown Indianapolis, where I surprised Helio, as he didn’t know I was coming. His reaction…priceless, a huge smile on his face and saying, “Hey! Look who is here…SHELBY!!!” It was an honor to be there to celebrate his season with him and the other IndyCar drivers and to be able to congratulate him on the year. We even discussed and know that in our minds that someday he will become a 4-Time Indy500 Winner and IndyCar Champion he deserves and knows he can be, as Helio told me and I agreed: “We will keep moving forward and now look to next year…one day that door will be open to us. We just have to keep believing.” To cap off the 2016 year, I went to the Penske50 Exhibit at IMS in November to see Helio’s first winning car and many more achievements he earned as a driver for one of the most elite teams in all of sports.
2017…Here we are into what is my 8th year of knowing who Helio is and 6th year of knowing him on a deeper level and supporting his career in a way I never thought imaginable. I feel blessed to know and have him be a part of my life. To put it simply, Helio’s passion, drive, and love for what he does in racing, his fans, family, and in life is inspiring…he helps me strive to do my best in all areas of my own life. We both look forward each year to the Greatest Month in Racing, as IMS is, as Helio likes to say, “magical.” We both make each other’s Mays special, ones to remember, with moments such as pictures together, chats at autograph sessions, giving him gifts I’ve made for him, or him seeing me by his pit stand to watch him do what he loves most preparing for the biggest race. He knows even if I am at home cheering him on, I am ALWAYS along with him for the ride each race. IMS…thank you for being the place that brought me a spark for racing and being a place I can now call my 2nd home, and to Helio…thank you for being the one who made my racing spark grow and become full blaze. I’m your fan for life & my love and support will be with you always! May you continue striving toward achieving your goals and beyond with a 4th 500 and championship. Stay DRIVEN BY PASSION!