Changing Seasons on the KSAT

I took these four pictures on the Karl Stirner Arts Trail in Easton, PA between October, 2016 and January, 2017, one each month, capturing the change in seasons. All pictures were taken with my iPad Pro 9.7.

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Super Bowl LI: New England vs Atlanta

The Championship Round games certainly weren’t as competitive as most fans, including myself, expected them to be, but the I think the decisive fashion in which both New England and Atlanta leaves no doubt that the best teams from each conference remain and that will set the stage for a potentially great Super Bowl Game.

I think Vegas installing the Patriots -3 as the favorite is about right. I picked the Patriots to win the whole thing in a pre-season blog post and I’m not changing that prediction now. Here is what I wrote last September…

AFC Conference Champion: New England–Steelers, Bengals, as well as Kansas City and possibly Denver could provide tough tests to the Patriots in the play-0ffs. It will be interesting to see how the Patriots fare with Jimmy G at QB. If they go 2-2 with Garoppolo at the helm I think there a good chance that they will be able to amass the best record in the AFC and secure home field advantage in the play-offs and that will be important.

NFC Conference Champion: Green Bay–I think there are at least four teams that have a good shot at winning the NFC. In  addition to Packers I would add Arizona, Seattle and, of course, the defending NFC champions, the Carolina Panthers. I won’t be at all surprised if any of those wins the NFC, I’m going to go with the Packers.

Superbowl Champion: New England–Any doubts about Belichick and Brady both being GOAT’s  will be put to rest when the Patriots win Super Bowl LI in Houston.

 
Packers came close, but obviously collapsed in the end. I must admit that I did not see the rise of the Falcons coming. They really exceeded expectations this season.  I am concerned about the Falcons because of their prolific offense. I think highly the Falcons coaching staff and I like Ryan. He was definitely the league’s MVP this season.
However, I think Belichick and his coaching staff will have the Pat’s well prepared and they will take away a few of Ryan’s weapons on offense. They may not be able to shut down star WR Julio Jones, but they will stop other guys. I also expect the Patriots to limit the Falcons offense simply by keeping it off the field. I know, easier send than done, but I think NE’s offense can do that. I expect they will run the ball a lot and Brady will throw a lot of short passes to pile up 1st downs and time of possession.
If the Falcons offense does drop bombs early and they jump out to a big lead the Pat’s will be in deep trouble, but I think they can avoid that.
So, I’m going to take Patriots -3.
The Over/Under is a SB high 59 and I will take the Under.
Patriots 31 Falcons 27

 

 

NFL Playoffs 2017 – Championship Round

Two very intriguing games today.

Frankly, I won’t be surprised if any combination of the remaining teams end up in the Super Bowl because they are all good teams with excellent coaches and QB’s. However, I’m still sticking with my original picks: Patriots as AFC Champ’s and Packers as the NFC Champ’s.

 

 

 

2017 NFL Playoff Predictions (Divisional Rd)

Well, I can’t say the first round offered anything really surprising. It was OK, but all the teams that were supposed to lose did indeed lose.

Now, moving on to Round Two, with the #5 and #6 seeds eliminated from each conference the games in the next round should be more competitive and certainly more interesting.

I was right on three out four predictions in Round One. I was wrong on the Oakland vs Houston. That was a tough game to call. In retrospect I should have just defaulted to the Texans with their home field advantage.

Seattle at (-5) Atlanta

A game that could go either way, but I favor the Falcons at home. With QB Matt Ryan playing the best football of his career I think Atlanta’s high octane offense would difficult to stop for any team, and even  Seattle’s vaunted D will not be able to do that, especially without safety Earl Thomas.

Atlanta 34 Seattle 24

Houston at (-15) New England

Unless Tom Brady and about half the starters on NE’s offense are knocked out of the game early there is no way the Texans will win this game. That ain’t gonna happen. Houston’s defense actually did look good and the offense was half decent at times vs Oakland, but of course the Raiders were a mere shell of themselves with rookie QB Conor Cook  QB playing in his first game instead of Derek Carr, who was a legit MVP candidate this season. Big, Big step up in the quality of the opposing QB for the Texans defense now facing Tom Brady.

NE 35 Houston 14

Pittsburgh at (-1.5) Kansas City

This will be a brutal game. The 1.5 point spread justifiably reflects two even matched teams who finished strong in the regular season. I can’t say I would want to bet on this game. If this game were being played in Pittsburgh and if Ben Rothlisberger was totally healthy I would be picking the Steelers, but I think KC, with home field advantage, has the edge here.

KC 31 Pittsburgh 27

Green Bay at (-4.5) Dallas

In a weekend a games that look great on paper, this is arguably the best of the bunch. In Dallas, we have the team that was unexpectedly the best regular season team, elevated by the play of their spectacular rookies, QB Dak Prescott and RB Zeke Elliot and an awesome offensive line. In Green Bay we have one of the hottest teams in the league, led by the Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback who is still arguably the best in the league. The loss of star  WR Jordy Nelson does concern me, but I was impressed by how well the Packers played against the Giants highly rated defense in the second half last week. I’m going to go with the Packers pulling off the upset here.

GB 28 Dallas 24

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017 NFL Playoff Predictions (Rd One)

All right, here we are, it is playoff time and it is time to find out which team is truly the best in the NFL. I just reviewed my pre-season picks for each division, which I posted on this blog back in September, and I did pretty well. My predictions for all four AFC division winners were correct and I predicted that the Patriots would have the best record and secure home field advantage. Check and check.

In the NFC I did not fare quite as well. I only went 2 and 2. I was right about Green Bay and Seattle winning the NFC North and West, respectively, but I did not see the Cowboys winning the East or Atlanta dethroning the Carolina Panthers in the South. I always thought NFC East would be a real dogfight and that the Redskins would win the division again. I thought the Cowboys would struggle to take the division after they lost starting QB Tony Romo for the first half of the season. I knew Dallas had a lot of weapons on offense and a terrific O-Line, but I did not think rookie RB Zeke Elliot and rookie QB Dak Prescott would be truly great as they were. Both were real stars this season and they will make the Cowboys a Super Bowl contender for years to come.

As for the Giants, they delivered an unexpected Christmas present by making the playoffs. I must admit they exceeded my expectations. I never thought they would do any better than 8 and 8 this season, but the D and Beckham carried them to playoff!?! I have to give GM Jerry Reese some credit this time around. He bet big on the FA’s he signed for the defense and won.

I did predict the Panthers would suffer more losses this season as the rest of the league focused on them, but I was surprised by their really poor start (1-4). They never recovered from that. Atlanta, on the other hand, made a marked improvement in HC Dan Quinn’s second year. Hawks QB Matt Ryan was masterful this season and he would be my choice for league MVP this season.

Now, who will win the NFC?  It appears to me at least 3 or 4 teams could win the conference, but there is no question that Dallas should be considered the favorites with home field advantage at AT&T Stadium.

Back in my pre-season Blog post I ended up picking Green Bay to win the NFC and face the New England in the Super Bowl. I must admit I really questioning myself when the Packers still under .500 at the 10 game mark, but then they got their act together and ripped off 6 straight victories to end the season 10-6 and Packers that we saw at the end of the season was the team that I expected. I’m going to stick with the Packers. I think they are the one team in the NFC that can take out both the Cowboys and the Atlanta Falcons.

However, winning the NFC is one thing, winning the Super Bowl is another. I predicted that Patriots would win Super Bowl this season and I see no reason to change that prediction.

OK, on to the first round games.

Oakland at Houston

Houston -4.0

The Oakland Raiders would have been a real threat to win the AFC, but the loss of QB Derek Carr effectively ended their hopes to reach the Super Bowl. Houston wasn’t very good this year, in large part because new QB Brock Osweiler has been a big bust. So, we have two teams here that will be offensively challenged. I think the Raiders will win, but I don’t see them to winning any more playoff games after this one.

Oakland 21 Houston 17

Detroit at Seattle

Seattle -8.0

Detroit had a pretty decent season, going 9-7, and gave the Packers some serious competition for the NFC North. However, the Lions still seem like a work in progress and  I don’t think the Lions have enough weapons to defeat the Seahawks at home, where they are extremely tough to beat.

Seattle 31, Detroit 21

Miami at Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh -10.0

I think it fair to say Miami exceeded expectations this season, going 10-6 with rookie head coach Adam Gase. Well done, welcome to playoffs. The Fins are now taking a big step up facing a veteran Steelers team in cold, snowy Pittsburgh. The Steelers  were up and down at various points this season, but when they bring their A game they can complete with any team in the league.

Pittsburgh 27, Miami 14

NY Giants at Green Bay

Green Bay -4.5

This is the definitely the best of first round games. I’m conflicted here because I am a big NY Giants fan, but predicted that the Packers would go all the way to the Super Bowl. The Giants excellent defense gives them a chance against any team in the league, but they catching a Packers team that is peaking at the right time. Giants WR O’Dell Beckham will be a problem for Green Bay, but I don’t see the G-Men putting up enough points to win this game. I won’t be real disappointed if I’m wrong because that will set-up a very interesting 3rd game vs the Cowboys. The Giants, of course, were the only team to beat the Cowboys during the regular season,

Green Bay 24, New York 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manhattan in December

I made a trip into Manhattan this past Sunday to do a little Christmas shopping and just see New York during the Holiday Season. It was an overcast, cold and rainy day, but I still throughly enjoyed my visit. I arrived in the city before noon, so I was pretty much able to spend a full day in the city and was able to make stops at all the stores I planned to visit. First I went down to the West Village, then walked over to the Union Square area and finally  headed up to the Midtown area.

While I was in the West Village I was able to pay my first visit to the new Whitney Museum of Art at 99 Gansevoort St, which has been on my to-do list since the museum opened on May 1st, 2015. I had to go to a few stores on West 14th St. and while I was in the neighborhood I figured I finally go to the Whitney. I must say that really enjoyed my visit to the “new” Whitney. I had visited the Whitney back at it’s old home on the Upper Eastside several times, but it was a real treat to see the new Renzo Piano designed building, which I must say is a dramatic improvement over the old building. More on the Whitney later, I’m going publish a separate post on my first impressions of the museum.

I really enjoyed seeing the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center and visiting St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which I visited while mass was in progress. It was inspiring to see so many of the faithful at the historic Cathedral.

 

 

Here are a few of the pictures I took as I made my way around the city…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Walk Along the La Jolla Coast Trail

This weekend the Wall St. Journal published a good article about San Diego and highlighted many places that visitors would enjoy. The article made me consider some of my favorite spots in “America’s Finest City”, a place that I know well as a result of living there from 2003 to 2014. There are so many beautiful, scenic places in San Diego that it is very challenging to choose one spot as the best, but certainly one of my favorite places is the Coastal Trail just north of La Jolla Village where the views over the California Coast and the Pacific Ocean are truly stunning. I have walked along that trail many, many times and took several videos that I think capture the beauty of the area. I took the video posted below on a quiet Monday back in March of 2011.

la-jolla-coastal-trail

 


George M. Fattell.

The gmf journal is a general subject blog that reflects my thoughts and opinions on a variety of topics that are of interest to me. Current home base is Easton, Pennsylvania, USA. Retweets do not equal an endorsement.

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