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      Tuesday Takeaways 9/14: Forget Everything You Thought You Knew

      Tuesday Takeaways 9/14: Forget Everything You Thought You Knew

      Week Two of college football left us all wondering what the hell just happened, and Week One of the NFL felt a lot like a glorified preseason game. Here are our five takeaways from what we saw:

      1. DON’T “F” WITH THE SUN BELT CONFERENCE. 

      There were three massive “upsets” in college football this weekend:

      • Appalachian State beat Texas A&M 17-14 in College Station 
      • Marshall beat Notre Dame 26-21 in South Bend
      • Georgia Southern beat Nebraska 45-42 in Lincoln 

      What do all of these upsets have in common? They all came at the hands of the Sun Belt Conference. What’s important to remember is that these aren’t just one-off upsets either. Hell, just last week Old Dominion (ahem, also Sun Belt) beat Virginia Tech, while two years ago Coastal Carolina (yep, Sun Belt) beat 13th ranked BYU. 

      These teams play a fun brand of football and can clearly go toe to toe with almost anyone in the country. The best part? They’ll take your million-dollar payouts and come beat you in your own house. 

      All I’m saying is that after this weekend, I’d think long and hard about scheduling a team from the Sun Belt if you’re looking for an early season “easy-wins.”

      Sunbelt Conference

      2. You Don’t Want Bama.

      In what I’d consider the best game of the weekend, Texas and Alabama went toe to toe in front of 100k+ in Austin, Texas. The Longhorns looked better for most of the game but ultimately it was Bryce Young making plays, and a late field goal that sealed the win for the Crimson Tide. 

      The big story from this game (outside of the fact that Texas was almost “back”) was that Texas freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers was injured and knocked out of the game in the first half. As Ewers laid on the ground and the camera panned the stadium, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a familiar situation that hit close to home.

      In 2017, #1 Alabama opened the season against #3 Florida State and much like the Texas game, it was a back and forth affair. That was until the play that sent Florida State’s program into a free fall.

      FSU’s highly touted quarterback, Deondre Francois, took a hard (clean) hit from an Alabama defender and was knocked out of the game, and eventually the season with a knee injury…

      That season and injury proved to be the beginning of the end for the Jimbo Fisher era at FSU, and eventually put the program in a hole that they just now appear to be slowly climbing out of.

      Now I’m not saying that level of destruction will happen to Texas, but perhaps teams should think twice before they schedule Alabama. You never know what can happen with that Nick Saban juju…

      3. Contrary to last week’s newsletter, turns out the state of Florida might not be back.

      UCF lost at home to Louisville on Friday night, and the Florida Gators lost to Kentucky in The Swamp. I’ll admit, I may have jumped the gun last week claiming that the once-powerhouse state was back from the dead. Stay tuned. 

      4. The State of Texas could be in for a long year.  

      As if Saturday’s losses weren’t hard enough for the good-football-loving people of Texas (Baylor also lost to BYU), things only got worse on NFL Sunday. 

      To start the day, the Houston Texans blew a 17-point lead to end up playing for a tie in overtime vs the Indianapolis Colts. Meanwhile in Arlington, the beloved Dallas Cowboys lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19-3.

      However, the big story from Sunday was the injury to Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback, Dak Prescott. Midway through the fourth quarter, Dak pulled himself out of the game with a thumb injury to his throwing hands. After the game, Dallas’ worst fears were confirmed, and that thumb injury will require surgery, keeping the QB sidelined for at least two months. 

      5. NFL Week One is a Mirage

      Some results from Week One will leave a lot of people scratching their heads, but I wouldn’t look too much into what happened Sunday (and Monday.)

      Most, if not all, of the starters across the league hadn’t played a full game of football since last year and that “rust” won the day. 

      The NFL is a marathon, not a sprint – and a lot of these Week One losses were just an example of a couple vets being slow out of the gates. 

      The Parcells Effect

      [caption id="attachment_1209" align="alignright" width="300"]Parcells Little-known fact: In 1978, Bill Parcells helped shape young military minds as the head coach of the falconing team at the Air Force Academy.[/caption] By Erez Ladetzky, Smack Zone Contributor The Giants meet the Bills Sunday in Buffalo. Twenty-five years ago, these two teams squared off in Tampa for an epic Super Bowl XXV. We hear Scott Norwood still can’t find a house anywhere in Buffalo. With the game this weekend, we thought it would be fun to stroll down memory lane and take a look at the career of Bill Parcells and his historical impact on pro football.

      1. The Big Tuna -- if this isn’t the best nickname in football, we don’t know what is. He received this name while he was on the staff with the Patriots, because, well ... he had the shape of a tuna. The nickname has stuck ever since, and has become a household name over the years.
      2. Gatorade bath -- when a team wins a big game, either a championship or a massive come from behind win, the players usually dump the Gatorade cooler all over their coach. Bill Parcells was the very first coach to have that happen (yes, we know some claim that Mike Ditka was first in 1984, but we choose to believe that Parcells got it first a few weeks before that. Besides, Harry Carson made it famous two years later, so Tuna owns it). Clearly, Parcells is the ultimate trend setter for coaches. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtODeVwJ0XY] 3. Legendary coaching tree -- Parcells recruited so many great coaches under him, many are now head coaches in the NFL. The tree includes Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin, Sean Payton, Todd Bowles and Mike Zimmer. Belichick, Coughlin and Payton have all won Super Bowls as head coaches. If it weren’t for Parcells, Belichick might not even know how to spy or oversee the proper deflation of footballs. [caption id="attachment_1213" align="alignleft" width="283"]Parcells celebrates victory in Tampa at Super Bowl XXV. Parcells celebrates victory in Tampa at Super Bowl XXV.[/caption] 4. Impact of a team he never coached -- we all know the effect he had on the Giants, Patriots, Jets and Cowboys. But what about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? He had an agreement to become their coach in 1992, but then decided it wasn’t right for him. Although Tampa has won a Super Bowl since, this franchise has mostly been at the bottom of the league. Who knows where they would be right now if the Big Tuna decided to make landfall in the Bay area? (Oh, and bonus what if: Remember when Payton was suspended for that whole Saints season after Bountygate? Guess who he wanted to coach the team in his absence. Yep. Tuna.)

      The Greatest Question of the Age

      [caption id="attachment_1204" align="aligncenter" width="800"]We can't decide. You? We can't decide. You?[/caption] Meh. It's probably six of one, half-a-dozen of the other. While you contemplate the implications, why not give our weekly football picks contest a try? Enter for a chance to win Smack Apparel merch. Click here to register and record your picks.

      Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Sleepers

      [caption id="attachment_1109" align="aligncenter" width="474"]Picks Contest Enter the weekly Smack Apparel picks contest to win t-shirts! Share it with your friends and prove your superiority as a pigskin prognosticator![/caption] By Erez Ladetzky, Smack Zone Contributor So your fantasy team is off to a rough start. Or one of your star players is hurt and you need a replacement. Maybe you have succumbed to all of the daily fantasy commercials and have joined FanDuel or Draft Kings (I started FanDuel last season). Here is a list of 5 players either potentially on your waiver wire or who have good value every week in daily/weekly fantasy:

      1. Karlos Williams, RB Buffalo Bills -- word out of Buffalo is Shady McCoy could very well miss this week’s game against the Giants. McCoy’s hamstring will probably linger on most of the year. Williams is coming off a 110 yard performance against Miami, including a highlight reel TD. Look for Williams and McCoy to split carries the rest of the way.
      1. Devonta Freeman, RB Atlanta Falcons -- coming into the season, many people thought Atlanta would use their 3rd round draft pick Tevin Coleman more than Freeman. Last week Coleman injured his hip, and Freeman took advantage of the opportunity, scoring the most fantasy points this week with a 3 TD game against the Cowboys. Freeman is a very solid RB2/value pick in daily fantasy sports (DFS).
      1. Tyrod Taylor, QB Buffalo Bills -- Taylor is available in a lot of leagues and definitely worth the pickup in case your starter has a tough matchup or is injured. Taylor has a great supporting cast around him with Mccoy, Williams, Watkins, Harvin and Clay. Not to mention he can run for yards and TD if necessary.
      1. Darren Sproles, RB Philadelphia Eagles -- Sproles is Mr. Do it all for the Eagles. He runs, catches and returns punts/kicks. He is an excellent value play in DFS and allows you to take two high-priced WR or a high priced RB and WR. He might not play a lot of snaps, but the snaps he does play turn into fantasy gold.
      1. Marvin Jones, WR Cincinnati Bengals -- teams have to start doubling A.J. Green. No team wants him to be the reason they get beat. Enter Marvin Jones. He had 94 yards and a TD against Baltimore this past weekend, and I expect him to be consistent the rest of the year. Dalton is playing his best football yet, and Jones should be the beneficiary of Green having a monster start to the season.
      After you scroll through the waiver wire for these guys, enter the Smack Apparel Weekly Picks Contest to try and win free t-shirts! Here is a look at the NFL games you'll be picking: Jets at Dolphins: Miami is so bad this year, they are playing this “home” game in London so the fans won’t have to suffer. Vikings at Broncos: Manning was supposed to be too old and not strong enough to throw 20 yards this year. The 3-0 Broncos just don’t care. Packers at 49ers: Rodgers has 10 TD and 0 INT to start the season. Kaepernick is coming off a 4 INT game. Can the NFL enforce a mercy rule? Cowboys at Saints: Brees could be cleared for this game, but if not it will be a Sunday night showdown between back QBs Brandon Weeden and Luke McCown. Get your popcorn ready! Rams at Cardinals: Arizona is looking like the class of the NFC West, and someone forgot to tell St. Louis that after you beat Seattle week 1, you have 15 more games left. Chiefs at Bengals: the mighty Daltons are off to a scorching start. But then again, it’s not January yet. Panthers at Buccaneers: the first of many Newton vs. Winston matchups. Let’s see if the Bucs can win their first home game since 2013 and if they are "Carolina ready." Lions at Seahawks: this Monday night game might be over before it even starts. Eric Ebron still thinks the 0-3 Lions are a great team. Maybe he will change his mind after this game.    

      Tom Brady's Revenge Tour Rolls On

      Tom Brady Revenge Tour Tom Brady joined Peyton Manning, Dan Marino and Bret Favre as the only QBs in NFL history with 400 or more TD passes. (Illustration: Steve Hill) Three games into what might have been a four-game suspension, were it not for a judge in New York, Tom Brady seems determined to make the league pay for the Deflategate fiasco. It's been eight years since Brady, at age 30, blasted through the NFL record book to become the first quarterback with 50 touchdown passes in a season. At age 38, coming off a spring and summer of court appearances and embarrassing -- and ultimately, still unproven -- accusations by Commissioner Roger Goodell, Brady is wrecking dudes. A 51-17 victory Sunday against the Jaguars was no surprise, actually. As long as tight end Rob Gronkowski is upright, and as long as Brady's right arm stays limber, New England will post big, big offensive numbers against lesser opponents like Jacksonville. What is mildly surprising is that Brady has not been merely good, or even very good. Or even great. He has been just about perfect. Through three games, he has nine touchdown passes, a 72.2 completion percentage and 1,112 passing yards. Oh, and ZERO interceptions. And by the way, even as he tears through yet another early season, he's smashing all-time milestones. How's 400 touchdown passes? Not bad, especially when you consider his elite company: Dan Marino, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning. Now, he and the Patriots take a little breather with an early bye week before heading out for back-to-back road games against the Romo-less Cowboys and scuffling Colts. Frankly, the game we're waiting for is Nov. 29, Pats at Broncos, Tom at Peyton. That looks to be the only potential loss on New England's schedule, except for one detail: Brady is 11-5 lifetime against Peyton. We're looking at history here, folks. The Tom Brady Revenge Tour rolls on, and there seems to be very little the league can do to stop it.