What To Know : After Week 10

What to know this week? That in the NFL, no one really knows anything. Thus, this:

  • The Dolphins, looking like they could be a playoff threat last week, lose 37-3 to the Titans, who lost 51-20 to the Bears the week before.
  • The Patriots win a nail-biter…against the Bills. Final score: 37-31.
  • Kickers who never miss…missed. When it counted. And the result was a tie: Rams 24, Niners 24.
  • The Giants, who never look great in November but always retain a glimmer of Super Bowl hope throughout, looked particularly ungreat in a 31-13 loss to the Bengals.
  • The Jets…are the Jets.
  • The Steelers, overwhelmingly favored, had to go into overtime to win against the Chiefs, 16-13.

This is why we love the NFL…you never know what’s going to happen.

(And this is also why I am spectacularly failing in our Pick ‘Em league this year. Unpredictability: 1, Beka: 0.)

What to Know : Week 2

What to Know: Week 2

GAME TO KNOW: I think the game of the week already happened: Bears at Packers last night. It’s a classic rivalry, but more than that, it was a litmus test for both teams. The Bears put up 41 points on the Colts last week, an abnormality for their defensive-minded team. The Packers were just awful against the 49ers in Week 1, showing little to no improvement on the defense that was ranked 32nd in the league last season. So if Week 1 is to be believed, the Bears are an offensive powerhouse and the Packers are going to be last in the Division and miss the Playoffs.

But the 23-10 victory last night by the Packers is exactly why Week 1 should never be believed.

The Bears struggled to put points on the board. Jay Cutler threw 4 interceptions. The Packers sacked him 7 times, with Clay Matthews getting a career-high 3.5 sacks. Both showings should be taken with a grain of salt – I don’t think the Bears are as bad as they looked last night or the Packers are as improved on defense as they looked last night. But it definitely showed that both teams are capable of more than they showed in Week 1 – for better or for worse.

PLAYER TO WATCH: I’m going to go with Kevin Kolb on this one. The Cardinals paid a lot of money to get Kevin Kolb last season, but he didn’t quite live up to the high expectations they had for him. Consequently, former backup John Skelton was named the starter in a training camp quarterback controversy that lasted most of the preseason. He was playing well last week…but was injured near the ed of the game and could not return. Kolb came in and led the Cardinals to a 4th quarter win. Since Skelton is still out with the ankle injury Kolb will get the start this week against the Patriots. They’ll provide more of a challenge than the Seahawks did last week, but ultimately, this QB situation is far from set in stone so it’s not inconceivable to think that Kolb could win his job back with an outstanding performance against the Pats.

STORYLINE TO KNOW: Handshake Gate: Round II. If you didn’t see last year’s handshake mishap between head coaches Jim Schwartz and Jim Harbaugh, watch this. The teams will meet again for the first time since on Sunday for what is sure to be the most-hyped postgame handshake in recent history. It promises to be uneventful but highly anticipated.


fudgy brownies with cookie butter frosting

7 layer cookie a la mode

chocolate dipped salted nut roll bars

sweet potato skins

chick-fil-a bites with honey mustard sauce


What To Know : After Week 1

We’re adding another new feature to go hand in hand with Friday’s post: a postgame guide to what happened over the weekend. Here’s what you need to know about Week 1 in the NFL:

  • Peyton Manning: Peyton’s return to football was nothing short of glorious. Once he was given free reign of the offense and went into his classic no-huddle mode, it was the Peyton of old back in action once again. He led the Broncos to a 31-19 victory over the Steelers.
  • RGIII: AKA Robert Griffin the Third. He lit it up for the Redskins – one of the best starts ever for a rookie quarterback. It wasn’t just the fact that the Redskins won against a tough opponent in a volatile environment (Saints at home) and it wasn’t just his performance stats. It was the maturity and intuition with which he played. He made smart decision after smart decision after smart decision – completely uncharacteristic for a rookie quarterback in his first NFL game.
  • Alfred Morris: Another stand out Redskins rookie. He looks like a remarkable rookie running back so far. (If you are in a fantasy league and he’s still available: draft him. ASAP.)
  • Stephen Hill: As long as we’re talking about rookies who look like they have potential, let’s throw wide receiver Stephen Hill in the mix. He looked great in the Jets season opener.
  • Offense? Really?: Three characteristically defensive-minded teams put up 40+ points on offense over the weekend: the Bears, the Jets, and the Ravens.
  • Unfortunate Surprise #1: Michael Vick threw 4 picks against the Browns…and the Eagles still won. (Translation: the Browns are just that bad.)
  • Unfortunate Surprise #2: I should have known better. I jumped the Bills bandwagon after all of the good press and positive moves they made in the offseason…but after living in Rochester for 8 years I should have known that the Bills never fail to fail. Sorry, Buffalo. I was really rooting for you. But after a 48-28 smackdown loss against the Jets, it looks like the same old, same old, once again.
  • Unfortunate Surprise #3: This one was the most troubling for me…the Packers defense. OH, the Packers defense! Where fore art thou, 2010 Super Bowl Champion D?!?! The Packers loss to the 49ers on Sunday was just ugly…there is a lot of work to be done before the Bears come to town for the Thursday night game in 2 days.
  • Replacement Ref Grade: C+. Most egregious blunder: giving the Seahawks a 4th time out in the final two minutes of the 4th quarter by mistake.

Last but not least, as a big fan of Mike and Mike in the Morning I have to give a shout out to their new show, Mike and Mike’s Best of the NFL, which debuts at 3pm on ESPN this afternoon. If you miss it the first time you can catch the reair on ESPN2 at 6:30pm. If it’s anything like the morning show, it will be amazing!

What To Know : Week 1

Here’s a new feature for the regular season: a little pregame prep we’ll call What To Know. Every Friday I’ll post the game to know, player to know, and storyline to know for the upcoming week.

And…a handful of recipes to make for your football watching pleasure.

It’s the best of all worlds! You’ll be well-educated AND well-fed!

So, off we go. Here’s the crucial information you need to know about Week 1 of the regular season:

GAME TO KNOW: Steelers vs. Broncos

This marks Peyton Manning’s return to football…and in a new uniform. Last year the Broncos ended the season with Tim Tebow as starting quarterback. They beat the Steelers in the first round of the playoffs, which means two things 1: The Broncos are a playoff-capable, if not playoff-caliber, team, and 2: The Steelers have something to prove. They had no business losing that game. The Steelers are also starting their first season without star wide receiver Hines Ward (retired in the off season) and with new offensive coordinator Todd Haley (former Chiefs head coach), so there will be plenty to watch for on the Steelers side of the ball, too.


The Jets actually did a respectable job of not talking about something: how they are planning on using Tim Tebow. Watch for Tebow to be used in unconventional ways and in 4th down situations…or in a completely different way that no one is anticipating.

STORYLINE TO KNOW: Replacement Refs

The regular refs are in a lockout with the NFL over contract disputes. So the NFL has brought in replacement refs to officiate until the regular refs return…and homeboys are struggling. I mean, you can hardly blame them. They’ve been pulled from NAIA college leagues, the ridiculous but legitimate lingerie league, and other conspicuous places. So it’s not like they have NFL experience. But still…it’s been rough. Someone called an eight yard penalty during one of the preseason games. Eight yards. Now, I know we’re all still learning here, but I think it’s pretty cut and dry that penalties come in 5 yard increments. Oh boy.

The replacement refs pose a few sizable problems.

1: Player safety. It’s kind of like the “wait until your father gets home” complex – players will try to get away with more because the replacement refs might be less confident about making harsh calls.

2. Game timing. During preseason, games felt like they took an eternity because it took an eternity for the refs to discuss the penalties and decide on the correct call.

3. Game Integrity. More often than not, it hasn’t been the correct call.

For a hilarious insider’s view on this situation, check out Vikings punter Chris Kluwe’s article on deadspin.


3 Ingredient Mini Turtle Brownies

5 ingredient baked potato skins

grilled zucchini pizza

maple pecan popcorn

roasted garlic guacamole