- Best NFL coverage in the World? Ireland!
- Heads are going to start rolling soon
- Kansas (AKA ‘The Patriots West’) might just be for real
- The Dallas Cowboys are seriously deluded
- It’s really, really hard to beat Seattle on their own turf
There has never been a better time to follow the NFL from Ireland. This weekend alone, it was possible to watch three live games in a row on Sunday, and then Monday night football live too. Four games, all live, all available on top sports channels accessible to all for a very small monthly fee. To add to that, NFL Game Pass, where you can watch any game you want, is available only outside the USA. That, however, is prohibitively expensive, only mentioning it here as it is another option open to Irish NFL fans, and not those in the place they actually play the game. Compare all this to the States, where unless you buy a very expensive monthly package you could be left out in the NFL cold.
Not only is there a wealth of choice, the quality of the package is better here too. The Sky Sports coverage, with Kevin Cadle and Nick Halling, is both informative and entertaining. They generally have good weekly guests, including the excellent and compelling Shaun Gayle. The late Sunday game is covered by Channel Four and, for me anyway, it provides the absolute best NFL live coverage available on the planet at this moment. Of course, it may not be for everyone. It consists of basically Gary Imlach and Mike Carlson sitting in a rather boring room talking at length about the game in question and the NFL in general. The graphics are deliberately retro in aesthetic, and there are no flashy gimmicks or loud, sponsored segments. What sets it apart is that Imlach and Carlson are both informed, intelligent and entertaining in getting their point across, in an enjoyably relaxed manner. The C4 coverage is a nice throwback to the early days of NFL on TV in Ireland. Imlach anchored the show in the eighties too. It is also a chilled, fun and still informative break from the norm, the norm being Fox or whoever ramming noisy, headache inducing twenty second ‘blurbs’ of NFL down our throats, interspersed with bland, clichéd punditry and endless advertisements about curing male erectile dysfunction. Do yourself a favour and check C4’s coverage out some night.
Heads are going to start rolling soon
The good families of Mike Singletary, Norv Turner and Wade Phillips have most likely been walking on egg shells the last 24 hours. The breakfast table will be a volatile powder-keg of emotion this morning, as each coach sips their morning coffee and reads over the sports pages. All four are presiding over teams that are not just underperforming; they are doing so in style. You can almost see it now, Turner’s wife asking, barely audibly, for the butter, only for the coach to shout ‘What? What did you say? I can’t coach them to pick (colourful expletive) the ball up off the floor, I can’t!!’ The 49ers, Chargers and Cowboys are stacked with expensively-assembled talent at all positions and yet have stumbled to a simply pathetic combined record of 4-16. The only question now is, who goes first? My money is on Phillips. Singletary has something resembling an excuse in that his QB is not top tier. Alex Smith leading the 49ers and all their offensive weapons is something akin to sticking Justin Bieber in front of the E-Street band and telling him, curtains raise in five. Turner? If the Chargers went 0-16 would he get the sack? Turner and his Chargers have been underachieving for years now, is there anyone actually awake in that owners box? Meanwhile, judging by Philip’s blank expression last night when Romo went all Humpty Dumpty on us, he may already be aware his time is short.
Kansas (AKA ‘The Patriots West’) might just be for real
Patriots West? That’s right, with coaches Romeo Crennell and Charlie Weiss leading the defence and offence respectively, with Matt Cassell and linebacker Mike Vrabel on board, the Chiefs have a distinctly ‘Patriotish’ gloss to their finish. The Chiefs own a nifty 4-2 record and lead the NFL in rushing. Fresh off an absolute tonking of Jacksonville, their remaining schedule is tricky but not overwhelming. The Patriots West should be able to carve out a 10-6 season, which should put them in the playoffs. Honestly, how many of you had the Chiefs in the playoffs before this crazy NFL season started?
The Dallas Cowboys are seriously deluded
Anyone catch Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones’s surreal big screen pep-rally pre game last night? Actually, scratch that, of course you did, inhabitants of far off planets caught it so you probably did too. Imagine having been Wade Phillips, standing on the sideline waiting for the game to start, only to look up to that absolutely ridiculous billion foot high big screen to see Jones’s mammoth face glaring down at him, his creepy pre-game speech must have been particularly chilling for the soon-to-be-sacked Dallas coach. From the content of the speech, you would have thought Dallas were a feisty underdog, on a 3-3 record with a bright future. Instead, ‘they are a bunch of underachievers’ (Tony Dorsett’s words, not mine) and for all the brash, arrogant talk and showboating, owners of a 1-5 record. Watching the game late, late last night in Ireland, I was left thinking, is there some kind of metaphoric connection between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Cowboys, with their arrogant personas and style, their audacious penalty count, their gazillion dollar stadium built in a time of great recession world wide and their fans, players and owners, completely oblivious to the Barbarians at the gates.
Or, maybe, they are just a really, really bad 1-5 football team. Either way, it's pretty funny.
It’s really, really hard to beat Seattle on their own turf
New coach, low pay-roll, ageing QB, injury issues, head cases like Mike Williams playing significant minutes. You wouldn't have been chastised had you predicted Seattle would struggle in '10. However, they are sitting pretty on 4-2 record, including a flawless 3-0 record at home. Have you seen a Seattle home game as yet? You can barely hear the announcers cover the game, the crowd is so loud. Hands down the best home field advantage in the NFL. With Oakland, St Louis, San Fran, Tampa, Carolina and Arizona to play still, the playoffs are very much in reach for the Hawks. If they manage to get a home game, anything is possible. Keep an eye on them.