National Football Authority

Super Bowl LIV is almost here. Let’s run through 10 little know fast facts about the NFL’s championship meet and everything related to its celebration.

Peyton Manning Is DIFFERENT

Can you guess how many starting quarterbacks have won Super Bowls with more than one team? Don’t bother. The answer is one. Peyton Manning took home the Vince Lombardi trophy with the Indianapolis Colts in 2007 and again with the Denver Broncos in 2016. View Peyton Manning Stats.

Phil Simms Really Is a Legend

Remember after the New York Giants won Super Bowl XXI how quarterback Phil Simms yelled “I’m going to Disney World?” Well, that reaction wasn’t out of pure jubilation. He was paid nearly $100,000 to say that.

New England Patriots Dominance

The New England Patriots have won more Super Bowls than any other franchise in league history, having taken home a total of seven. The Pittsburgh Steelers are in second place with six. Third place is a tie between the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers, who have four titles apiece. Patriots’ QB Tom Brady has set and broken tons of records in the Superbowl – with nine Super Bowl appearances since the 2001 season

Super Bowl Tickets Are EXPENSIVE

In the event you want to go to Super Bowl LIV, it’s going to run you an arm and a leg—and maybe a second mortgage. According to Vivid Seats, the average Super Bowl ticket price on the secondary market roughly one month before the big game is more than $9,800.

Home-Field Advantage

Neither Super Bowl participant technically has home-field advantage—unless the hosting city’s team made the two-squad cut. Officially, though, the NFL gives the home designation to the NFC team for odd-numbered Super Bowls and to the AFC team for even-numbered Super Bowls.

Super Bowl Gambling

A lot of money is wagered on the Super Bowl every year. Like, a lot, a lot, a lot. Most recently, the dollar amount has spilled into nine-figure territory. Estimates have Super Bowl LIV taking in upwards of $115 million in bets at Las Vegas sportsbooks —and that doesn’t account for overseas sportsbooks or the Super Bowl pools individuals run with their friends, family, coworkers, etc.

No Shutouts???

There has never been a shutout in Super Bowl history. True story. The fewest points ever scored was by the Miami Dolphins in 1972, when they lost to the Dallas Cowboys by final score of 24-3.

Overtime Is Beyond Rare

Believe it or not, the first Super Bowl to ever reach overtime didn’t take place until…Super Bowl LI in 2017. The New England Patriots were crowned champions that year, completing a major comeback against the Atlanta Falcons.

Sad Fanbases

Only four NFL teams have never made a single Super Bowl appearances: The Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans. The Browns and Lions, however, did win titles before the NFL merger.

Holy Guacamole

Super Bowl parties are all the rage, in large part because of the decadent food spreads. Guacamole is a traditional favorite—so much so that every Super Bowl Sunday, roughly 8 million pounds of it are consumed. That’s right: Eight. Million. Pounds.

Visit The SuperBowl Official Site

January 10th, 2020

Posted In: features, NFL

Leave a Comment

Many NFL head coaches did a tremendous job this past season, but we managed to whittle the best of the best down to six stand out coaches who should be AP Coach of the Year candidates.

6. Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills

Did anybody see the Buffalo Bills coming this year? And if so, was their arrival supposed to hit in the form of 10 wins?

Didn’t think so.

Sure, they didn’t make the playoffs. That happens when you win 10 games yet still play in the same division as the New England Patriots. But the Bills still pieced together a damn impressive season.

Quarterback Josh Allen made some real strides as the year went on, and more notably, the defense was almost impossible to outdo. Pro-Football-Reference uses Defensive SRS to measure the quality of a team’s stopping power against their quality of competition and actual performance. The Bills ranked second overall in defensive SRS, behind only the Patriots. Sean McDermott deserves some love.

5. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots

Yes, the Patriots had a very crummy end to the 2019 season. Jokes are flying. A dynasty has fallen. We get it.

Still!

Few head coaches could have guided this version of the Patriots to 12 wins. Tom Brady isn’t what he was; people in New England aren’t even sure the team wants him back. The Patriots won thanks to their top-ranked defense, and an offensive scheme that was just creative enough to get by.

Let’s not forget that New England started the year 8-0. There were people who believed they might go undefeated. That matters.

4. Mike Vrabel, Tennessee Titans

Mike Vrabel’s candidacy is a given.

He coached the Tennessee Titans to the playoffs despite having to navigate a hellish quarterback dilemma. Ryan Tannehill was under center for them by season’s end. Seriously.

That’s enough to make Vrabel’s case in its entirety, but his appeal received a boon once the postseason got underway. Because, as you know, the Titans dispatched the Patriots in the Wild Card round, shocking pretty much everyone, but most of all Bill Belichick.

3 (Tied). Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints and Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers

Talk about your close calls.

Kyle Shanahan’s case rests on the back of the San Francisco 49ers’ balance. They had one of the league’s top defense to go along with the absolutely most potent offense. Some had high expectations for them, but they turned in 13 victories, exceeding even the most optimistic projections.

The same goes for Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints—only more so. People understood the 49ers were for real after a while, and their season was never really in jeopardy. The Saints, meanwhile, lost Drew Brees for basically half the year and still managed to churn out 13 wins. Their loss in the first round of the playoffs notwithstanding, Sean Payton did one helluva job.

1. John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens

Who else?

Even before the Patriots fell to the Titans in the Wild Card round, the Baltimore Ravens were considered their heir apparent to the throne of “Best Team in the League.” It’s not hard to see why.

Quarterback Lamar Jackson is an MVP favorite, and no team in the league notched more impressive offensive numbers. Their defense isn’t quite the best, but it was among the top three in the AFC.

John Harbaugh, while not solely responsible, has overseen it all. He’s your NFL Coach of the Year.

January 10th, 2020

Posted In: features, NFL

Leave a Comment

First-year NFL players typically face a steep learning curve. Some, though, are statistical anomalies. Let’s celebrate the select few who stood out above everyone else.

Here are our five most impressive rookies from the 2020 NFL season.

5. Josh Allen, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars
Josh Allen’s rookie campaign went far too much under the radar. You can blame Nick Bosa. A fellow defensive end in his rookie season playing for a bigger market was always going to be a recipe for Allen to get overshadowed.

No matter, though. Allen made his presence felt. His ball pressure is already among the best on the defensive line—not just for rookies, but in the entire league. He turned in 10.5 sacks, 22 quarterback hits and 11 tackles for a loss.

Keep your eye on him long term. He’s going to contend for Defensive Player of the Year one day. Probably.

4. Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals
Some people thought the Arizona Cardinals gave up on Josh Rosen too early. They were wrong. He flamed out with the Miami Dolphins.

Even if he didn’t, doubters still would’ve been wrong, because rookie quarterback Kyler Murray is, already, clearly better.

Murray finished his inaugural year with 20 passing touchdowns on an impressive 64.4 completion percentage. He proved that he could pick up yardage on the ground with his legs, and concerns about his ability to protect the ball ended up being shortsighted. He closed the season with a 2.2 interception rate, which is a very good mark for someone so new.

3. A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans
The last Tennessee Titans player to rack up 1,000 or more receiving yards in a single season was Delanie Walker…in 2015.

That is, until A.J. Brown came along.

After being drafted at No. 51 overall, the rookie established himself as a viable No. 1 pass-catching option. That’s no small feat in ideal circumstances, but it’s even more impressive knowing how inconsistent the Titans’ quarterback play was this year.

2. Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders
Name all of the running in the AFC better than rookie Josh Jacobs. It won’t take long. There might be five.

Emphasis on might be.

A shoulder injury ended up limited him a little bit, but it doesn’t matter. He was a big part of why the Oakland Raiders remained in playoff contention for so damn long.

1. Nick Bosa, DE, San Francisco 49ers
Obviously.

Bosa played at a historic pace for the first half of the 2019 NFL season, amassing sacks seemingly at will. He slowed down a bit over the second half, but he was still among the most impactful players at his position overall.

That’s not normal—in a good way. And he, like fellow rookie defensive end Josh Allen, figures to be among the most impactful players on the less glamorous side of the ball for years to come.

December 30th, 2019

Posted In: features, NFL

Leave a Comment

Football fans know his name. They know his game. Equally important, they know his hair.

Troy Polamalu was a household name around the NFL for more than a decade. He spent 12 seasons in the league, all of them with the Pittsburgh Steelers, during which time he developed a reputation as one of the most effective defensive backs alive.

This all begs the question: Where does he rank on the Steelers’ list of all-time greats?

Answering with “pretty high” is fitting. But it’s interesting to consider just how high.

Polamalu racked up 583 solo tackles and 32 interceptions over the course of his career. With him in the secondary, the Steelers routinely fielded one of the NFL’s most feared defenses. He won the ultimate honor for someone on the less glamorous side of the ball in 2010, when he snagged the league’s Defensive Player of the Year.

For nearly a half-decade, Polamalu cracked the NFL’s top-100 list. That’s not easy to do as a defensive back. Those exercises typically favor quarterbacks, running backs and receivers. Polamalu, though, ranked as high as No. 6, a spot he earned in 2011.

Looking back, he essentially reinvented the safety position. So many of today’s versatile standouts owe their job description to Polamalu. He was a trail-blazer for those who didn’t want to be considered niche defenders in any specific packages. He was an every-down guy in the secondary at a time when those weren’t all that common.

Pinpointing where he ranks in Steelers lore isn’t exactly easy. The franchise has a rich history of immensely talented players. It makes most sense to start with those who we know rank in front of him.

That list is short: Joe Greene, Mel Blount and Jack Lambert are the only ones worth including. From there, you could also put Polamalu behind guys like Franco Harris, Ben Roethlisberger, Terry Bradshaw, Antonio Brown, Jack Ham and Donnie Shell. There are arguments to be had across the board here, many of which will end with split hairs.

Then again, Polamalu’s staying power has to matter. He didn’t just reimagine the functionality of the safety position. He stuck around for 12 years in a league where the average career span is less than four seasons.

So let’s call a spade a spade: Troy Polamalu is one of the five best players to ever suit up for Steelers.

September 21st, 2012

Posted In: NFL

Leave a Comment

Training camps are important for every NFL team. They give squads a chance to incorporate new additions, groom rookies, get veterans into shape and, of course, fill empty roster spots. No franchise will say training camp is unimportant.

At the same time, each and every year, it is more pivotal for select teams. Next season, the Cleveland Browns will be among that group of squads.

Most of the core players are expected back, and the team doesn’t have to worry about holding a quarterback tryout. Baker Mayfield has underwhelmed under center, but not so much that his job is in jeopardy entering the third year of his career. Continuity at the league’s most important position is a valuable ingredient.

However, the Browns have a ton of other battles and questions that will be facing them. Above all, they have to worry about the health of star wideouts Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr.

Both will be returning from offseason surgeries. Though neither one’s injury is considered particularly serious, they will each lose valuable time to train. Getting them in game shape could take longer than usual, and there’s always the chance one of them isn’t the same compared to seasons past. Cleveland might even want to think about spending big in free agency on another receiver or tight end to hedge its bets against potential regression from OBJ or Landry.

Equally important, the Browns will have a lot of new faces on the offensive line. They have holes both on the ends and the inside of the offensive line. They’ll no doubt draft a guard and tackle, and they’re expected to add at least one more in free agency.

And while the importance of offensive linemen is often overlooked, it really shouldn’t be. There’s a reason that quarterbacks and running backs buy gifts for their offensive linemen when they’re in the midst of a career season. They understand that run-blocking and pass protection is paramount.

Cleveland struggled mightily in both areas last year. That needs to be addressed immediately and in a big way if the team is going to clinch its first playoff bid since 2002. And no matter how many talented options they sign for the offensive line, they need Mayfield to get reps with the newest additions so that he can develop timing and chemistry on snap counts and every-down tendencies.

So yeah, the Browns are not unique in that they’ll have much to do during training camp this year. They will, however, have more riding on it than most others.

August 26th, 2012

Posted In: NFL

Leave a Comment

Tim Hightower had quite a bizarre NFL career.

The weirdness started before he even entered the league. He wasn’t invited to the Draft Combine and needed to stand out at a Pro Day to gain any sort of traction. He would up being selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the fifth round of the 2008 draft.

After a somewhat disappointing rookie season, Hightower came on strong during his second- and third-year campaigns. Through those two seasons, he totaled 1,334 yards and 13 touchdowns while averaging a solid 4.5 yards per carry. He also developed a reputation as a solid pass-catcher out of the backfield, adding another 564 yards through the air.

In the 2011 offseason, however, the Cardinals opted to go in a different direction and traded Hightower to the Washington Redskins. The latter badly needed a punch on the ground, and Hightower projected as the perfect fit, as someone who could both burst off the line scrimmage to rattle off big gains and also add a pass-catching dynamic out of the backfield.

Unfortunately, his tenure in Washington didn’t unfold as planned. Not only did Hightower’s average run plummet behind the Redskins’ shaky offensive line, but he tore his ACL a mere five games into the season, leaving him out for the year.

Though Washington re-signed him on a one-year deal that summer, the team ended up cutting him before the start of the regular season, mostly because they wanted to create more volume for rookie running back Alfred Morris.

In retrospect, there was nothing too wrong with that decision. Hightower ended up missing the next three NFL seasons before making a return with the New Orleans Saints in 2015. It was there, however, that he pieced together a stellar showing as Mark Ingram’s backup. His average yards per run hovered around four, and he continued to make the more-than-occasional play as a receiver.

Really, the entire NFL gave up on Hightower too early. There’s no way he should have been out of the league for that long, even with his injury history. Washington specifically, though, seemed to miss an opportunity.

They never needed to cut Hightower to make room for Morris. Hightower had cut his teeth as a No. 2 and No. 3 running back. He could have fit easily into the rotation and would have added more of a pass-catching dynamic Morris never fully sported. Chalk this up to another example of hindsight being 20/20.

August 9th, 2012

Posted In: NFL

Leave a Comment

In recent years, under head coach and president Jon Gruden, the Las Vegas Raiders, formerly the Oakland Raiders, have failed from a personnel perspective.

They traded Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears for future picks. They flipped Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys. And most notably, they traded for Antonio Brown from the Pittsburgh Steelers, only to see his stock both on and off the field combust and release him without any sort of compensation.

This is not the way to run an NFL team—trading guys who fit your more gradual timeline for win-now players who suggest you’re further along in your rebuild than you really are.

It would have been fine if the Raiders dealt Mack and Cooper and then acted like a normal rebuilding franchise. They didn’t. The Brown acquisition proved as much. Worse still, they don’t seem to have changed their ways. They’ve been linked to signing soon-to-be 43-year-old quarterback Tom Brady to replace Derek Carr under center.

This shouldn’t stand. It can’t stand. The Raiders are not ready to compete for a Super Bowl. They finished 7-9 last year, but they’re not on the precipice of anything special. To wit: They ranked 27th in Simple Rating System, a metric that grades teams by accounting for their point differential and strength of schedule. By this measure, the Raiders were, very comfortably, a bottom-seven team.

No one free-agency signing is going to change that. The Raiders have to recognize this. They have to get back to the more deliberate thinking that prevailed in 2012 free agency.

Indeed, that version of the Raiders wasn’t good either. But they had the opportunity to sign an aging Plaxico Burress, who despite not playing in 2009 or 2010, remained a Super Bowl champion and coveted free agent. They passed, and he ended up in Pittsburgh, where he appeared in just four games.

The Raiders, meanwhile, would go on to tally three straight seasons in which they won no more than four games. It was a tough stretch, but embracing that rebuild set them up for a more convincing 7-9 record in 2015 and then a 12-4 finish in 2016.

They need to recapture that kind of thinking now. It might be a long road back to the playoffs, but investing in players that don’t fit the bigger picture will only hamstring their ability to develop youngsters and build a lasting identity that carries them to something better than six or seven wins.

August 4th, 2012

Posted In: NFL

Leave a Comment

Following an improbable run to the NFL playoffs, the Tennessee Titans’ rumor mill is reaching fever pitch. Everything from free agency, to quarterback targets, to draft stuff is being tossed around. Let’s roll through the most important subjects.

Tom Brady Headed to Tennessee?
No one’s quite sure just yet if Tom Brady is going to return to the New England Patriots, the only team he’s ever played for. Though the Pats don’t exactly have a successor in place, everyone has thought that head coach Bill Belichick has wanted to move on for a while. Brady is going on 43 and doesn’t have the arm that he used to.

Plenty of potential landing spots have been kicked around, including the Las Vegas Raiders. But the Titans are apparently gaining plenty of steam. They appear to be over the Marcus Mariota era, and while Ryan Tannehill helped them beat the Patriots in the playoffs, he’s not what you would call an offensive stud. Running back Derrick Henry carried their attack.

Titans Eyeing Cornerback in the First Round of the Draft?
With so many incumbent free agents set to hit the open market, the Titans have to prepare themselves to recoup impact talent through the draft. They’re selecting No. 29 overall, and speculation is growing that they may select a cornerback.

Jeff Gladney of TCU is the name to watch here. He plays extremely physical pass defense and is a rookie who could replace Logan Ryan should he leave in free agency.

Tennessee Looking for a Wide Receiver in Free Agency?
Plenty of the Titans’ cap space will be devoted to retaining some of their own players. They’ll have even less money to work with if they end up being the team that wins the Tom Brady sweepstakes.

Still, they are expected to make a play for outside talent, most notably a bargain-bin wide receiver. They ranked 24th in passing yards and 17th in passing touchdowns last season. Getting a QB that can throw more than Mariota or Tannehill is key, but they also need someone who can make plays while running his routes.

Breshad Perriman’s name is starting to gain traction around Tennessee. He boasts elite speed, having run an unofficial 4.22-second 40-yard dash before being drafted in 2016. Whether his big-play potential would go to waste beside the limited arms of Brady or Tannehill is up for debate, but he’s both an impact player and affordable.

July 21st, 2012

Posted In: NFL

Leave a Comment

Everyone will be looking at one position battle when the Cincinnati Bengals next enter training camp: The competition for starting quarterback.

After nine years under center for the team, Andy Dalton’s time has seemingly come to an end. He is technically still on the roster, but the Bengals are expected to waive or trade the soon-to-be 33-year-old, depending on what happens at the draft and in free agency.

Everyone who’s anyone expects Cincy to use the No. 1 pick on LSU signal-caller Joe Burrow. He has been the consensus first-overall selection since he smoked Alabama’s offense in November of the 2019 season.

The real question is whether the Bengals will start him right away. Top picks are usually thrown right into the fire, but it’s tough to tell if the franchise is truly committed to a thorough rebuild. They might have designs on treading water in the playoff picture while grooming Burrow for the long term.

Of course, this all assumes the Bengals have someone to compete with the inbound QB for the starting position. Ryan Finley didn’t show enough during his reps in the 2019 season to warrant that consideration, though the possibility exists. He was selected in the first round of the 2019 draft, so the Bengals have plenty of asset equity in him, albeit not enough to pass on the chance to select Burrow, who is considered a potentially generational talent under center.

It stands to reason the Bengals will at least give Finley a chance to win the job. He could show out in training camp or the preseason, or Burrow himself could struggle to grasp the ins and outs of the NFL early on.

What the Bengals absolutely won’t do is sign another high-end quarterback to enter the fray. They’ll have two first-round signal-callers on their roster. Bringing in another would be excessive.

The only way their QB battle becomes a three-way competition is if Dalton returns to the team. He has no plans to retire and is still under contract. Many have theorized the New England Patriots could look to trade for him, but if a deal doesn’t materialize, the Bengals have the option of keeping him around to mentor both Finley and Burrow while giving him a shot to win the starting gig.

That might seem counterintuitive on its face. Dalton isn’t the future of the team. At the same time, many franchises have elected to begin the season with veterans before pivoting to their rookie QB. The Bengals could be the next squad to do so. We’ll just have to wait and see.

July 20th, 2012

Posted In: NFL

Leave a Comment

The early 2010s New York Jets remain a symbol for squandered potential around NFL circles. And no what-if is more emblematic of their fast decline than running back Shonn Green.

Heading into the 2011 regular season, the Jets were in a great spot. They had rattled off 11 victories the year before, sported one of the league’s best defenses and were fresh off an appearance in the AFC Conference Championship, a mere one victory away from making a Super Bowl appearance.

Greene played a pivotal part in their success during that 2011 season. He was not their every-down at that point; said honor belonged to LaDanian Tomlinson. But the Jets preferred to control the pace and milk the clock by leaning on their ground game. Only one team tallied more rushing attempts than them in 2011. Ipso facto, they needed more than just Tomlinson to get by. And Greene provided that second-option punch, averaging a stellar 4.1 yards per carry.

By 2011, in fact, he had superseded Tomlinson as the team’s every-down runner. He responded to the additional responsibility fairly well, averaging a rock-solid 4.2 yards per carry, scoring six touchdowns and mixing in some possessions as an early-down pass-catcher.

With quarterback Mark Sanchez firmly removed from the stardom track for which he was originally ticketed by this point, the Jets struggled to gain any sort of momentum. They finished just 8-8. Still, their running attack carried them to a top-13 offense. The infrastructure of a better team appeared to be in place.

But then the 2012 season came around.

Greene was the every-down back by this time, and he turned in another admirable year. He amassed over 1,000 rushing yards, rattled off another eight touchdowns and kept his average gain per rushing attempt right around four years. And yet, behind a shoddy passing attack, the Jets still placed 28th in points per game. Those struggles lead to a 5-11 record, and the decision not to retain Green leading into 2013.

Talk about a free fall. The Jets went from defensive darlings and Super Bowl hopefuls to non-threats. And while no one decision is to blame, you can’t help but wonder if things might’ve changed had they deployed Greene more properly.

Depending on him more in the red zone would’ve been a good start. Then-head coach Rex Ryan was too trusting in Sanchez. More importantly, it would’ve helped to use Greene as a receiver more frequently. He had the jukes and misdirection footwork to make defenders miss in the open field.

Whether it’s because Sanchez wasn’t the QB to maximize Greene’s skill set, or because the offensive line was too crummy, or because the Jets weren’t well-coached, the verdict is clear in hindsight: They did a terrible job deploying Shonn Greene after the 2011 season.

July 2nd, 2012

Posted In: NFL

Leave a Comment

Next Page »