Four Downs: Denver Broncos

1st Down: What do you make of the Broncos’ start to the season?

It’s been the usual standard from this Broncos team, from the sublime to the not quite ridiculous. The offense still looks like the gold standard in the league. The front office made the astute choice that Decker wasn’t going to be value for money with his new contract and Emmanuel Sanders would provide similar production for a much cheaper price; which has been borne out so far.

The defense still has more questions than answers, it looks like an improvement on last year but still hasn’t closed the large gap that the offense often covered up. So far after two games, the defense is the third worst in the league at stopping third down conversions (if there’s any small comfort from that stat, it’s that the Seahawks are currently the worst).

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Four Downs: Buffalo Bills

1st Down: What do you make of the Bills start to the season?

Actions definitely speak louder than words in my opinion, therefore when I read about Manuel’s speech the night before the first game of the season I didn’t let myself get too excited, after all pre-season had been rough for the 2nd year quarterback.

“”He stood up in front of the whole offense, had everyone’s ears about five minutes,” said wide receiver Robert Woods “Shut the whole meeting down pretty much. He just released what he felt about this offense and what we could do, all these weapons. There was nothing else that needed to be said after he spoke.”

Then came the Bears, first game of the season and on the road, the signs weren’t good and this was heading the way most expected when the Bears got off to a great start scoring on their first series only for the Bills to respond right back with a read option that saw Manuel running one in for a score.

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Four Downs: Chicago Bears

1st Down: What do you make of the Bears’ start to the season?

Jeckyll and Hyde. I’m not sure what surprised me the most, losing to the Bills at home or beating the Niners on the road in their new building. They should never have lost to Buffalo as they didn’t play THAT badly, but turnovers proved costly in the end.

The first half in San Fran was horrible and it was a miracle they went in only down ten at the break, but the second half performance was little short of of sensational.

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Four Downs: Miami Dolphins

1st Down: What do you make of the Dolphins start to the season?


After defeating the New England Patriots on opening day, there was little doubt Miami would go to Buffalo and lay an egg, which they did with even greater aplomb than I’d envisioned. It’s just what the Dolphins do. They summon a little excitement; tease an exit from the malaise of mediocrity before reverting to type.

We saw the very best of the Dolphins in Week 1 and the worst in Week 2. Where this leaves us is probably somewhere in the middle, which is where we all expected to be. While dropping a game in Buffalo is extremely disappointing, if not surprising, I’d have taken 1-1 after two games. The memory of beating the Patriots will live long.

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Four Downs: Washington Redskins

1st Down: What do you make of the Redskins’ start to the season?

When coming off the back of a very forgettable 3-13 season, having the Texans and Jaguars up first can only be seen as a bonus. Except of course, being a 3-13 franchise in 2013 doesn’t really equal any given victories on any given Sunday.

Houston game was troubling, RGIII continued to get hit, special teams went a step further in embarrassment by JJ Watt blocking the TD conversion and Rambo still looked decidedly non-Stallone heroic.

There were, however, some pointers to improvements, even on a poor first display – Morris was having his workload shared out a tad more with Helu Jr, meaning that every running play the Skins went hard. Under Shanahan, only Alfred seemed to carry the ball for Washington, with Griffin III the most likely to run with the ball (and get sacked/beaten up/nearly career ended every week).

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Unstoppable Marshall and Bears spoil 49ers housewarming

The Bears hadn’t won in San Francisco since their last Super Bowl winning year of 1985. Not only that, some of the losses since then at Candlestick Park had been the stuff of nightmares.

Two years ago the Niners destroyed Lovie Smith’s defence as Colin Kaepernick dazzled on his first NFL start, while in 2009 the Bears held San Fran to just 10 points yet still found a way to lose, as Jay Cutler threw five interceptions (including two in the red zone) in a 10-6 reversal.

That was a rare close one; usually these games are blow outs. A point differential of 271 to 39 since that 1985 win tells it’s own story, and coming off that bad home loss to the Bills in Week 1 most didn’t give the Bears any chance of upsetting Jim Harbaugh’s Niners.

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A Brady sandwich with added Dolphin

One of the major differences between US and UK sports is the mixed fan experience. It’s something I’ve struggled to adapt to when attending Dolphins games, because it’s just so different to everything we’re accustomed to as Brits.

Attending Liverpool games for 25 years at home and away, those co-ed experiences don’t come along too often. There might be the occasional exchange outside the ground or a jovial pint in the pubs, but never when we’re playing rivals. For example, the only time you see Manchester United fans outside Anfield is when the police are marching them in from the train station. It’s the same when we go there. 

So attending the New England Patriots vs Miami Dolphins season opener on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium brought both excitement and trepidation. Excitement because the NFL was back and I just love the game day experience; the tailgating, tossing the football around, grilling, daytime drinking, the Americana pageantry and, oh yeah, the football.  

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The more things change the more they stay the same

After all the talk about this year being “Jay Cutler’s time to shine”, all the rebuilding of a historically bad defence and all the expectation a new season brings, it turns out very little has actually changed in Chicago.

Cutler is still throwing inexplicable picks, the D line still aren’t getting any pressure on the quarterback and worst of all, running backs are still gashing the Bears up the middle. The loss to Buffalo was bad, especially in the context of the tough schedule the Bears have over the next few weeks. If you can’t beat the perennially average Bills at home what hope is there of winning on the road in San Francisco, New England and Green Bay?

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NFL pre-season leaves me cold

With the NFL season being so short in comparison to every other major sport, I always feel like I should pay more attention to the pre-season. It’s easier said than done though, as for the most part it’s pretty pointless.

At least from a fans point of view; these games are invaluable for coaches, GM’s and the players themselves of course. That doesn’t make them much fun to watch though.

Staying up for late night regular season games is not really difficult; I’m fortunate enough to work from home, so if necessary I can just go back to bed after doing the morning school run.

I haven’t missed a regular season game since I discovered the joys of internet streaming back in 2009, but the pre-season is a whole different ball game; it’s far more of a struggle. I am interested and I do make the effort to tune in, it’s just that they quickly descend into nothingness when you end up with players from both sides on the field who have no chance of making the final roster.

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In the Black Unicorn’s absence, Zach ensures it’s “Miller Time” in Chicago

It’s not been a good week for Bears tight end Martellus Bennett. The former Cowboys and Giants man, who refers to himself as ‘the Black Unicorn’, made national headlines on Monday when he completely over reacted to being knocked to the floor by rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller in practice.

Bennett lost it and slammed Fuller to the turf, a move that was frowned upon by team-mates, coaches and management alike, not least because Fuller is a 1st round pick expected to see a lot of playing time and also happens to be 70lbs lighter and 8 inches shorter than Bennett.

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