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Don’t Look Now, the NFL is Back

nfl-logoThursday, the NFL proves yet again it is the dominant beast in the sports jungle as the 2013 season kicks off. We haven’t seen one game yet, and the ball is already rolling quickly downhill for a tumultuous season if the weeks leading up to it are any indication. We’ve had RG3’s knee, Tim Tebow getting cut, Gronk’s arm, the dumpster fire of the Jets QB depth chart, and the most substantive concussion plan in the NFL ever, leading ESPN to wonder about the future of the sport. It’s that time of the year, boys and girls, where fanbases go crazy and coaches get put on the hotseat. It’s also a time of potential gain for you, the casual sports fan who stands to make a profitable weekend happen with just a few clicks of the mouse.

As we’ve said on OTP from time to time, and as Jason mentioned in his most recent video production, we have a propensity to make a wager or two on the sports we watch. As I hinted at last week, as the season progresses it gets harder and harder to make substantive money on your wagers, so week 1 is definitely where you want to take advantage of the lack of information. For this week and future weeks, you can look for online football betting to be the claim to fame for many who are feeling lucky. We’ll touch on picks and odds on our Twitter page also. It’s the least we can do for you.

Admittedly, I’m not a tremendous NFL fan, but for some reason, this upcoming season has me excited. Perhaps curious is a better word. I’m curious how the Bears will do without Brian Urlacher. I’m curious if the 49ers and Seahawks will live up to the giant expectations laid unto them. I’m curious if my fantasy teams will turn into the epic disaster that I’ve so often come to expect. It all starts Thursday, so batten down the hatches, boys and girls.

The Case of Aaron Rodgers in 2012

Ask anyone who plays fantasy football, myself included, who has been the biggest disappointment of the 2012 season and many will point you in the direction of Aaron Rodgers. The performance of the Green Bay quarterback hasn’t been terrible, but it hasn’t been stellar either and that’s what many (including myself) who drafted Aaron Rodgers in the first round were expecting. Perhaps I’m just a relatively inexperienced NFL fan, but how one player can go from eye-popping Sportscenter leading stat lines to the fairly pedestrian totals Rodgers has put up dumbfounds me.

At bare minimum, it begs the question about which year is the fluke. Is 2012 the norm? Is 2011 the norm and this season just a blip? One or two games below expectation and I think the argument about the flukey nature of 2012 is a decent one. We’re venturing further away from fluke and more toward consistency. A consistency that for all intents and purposes has been remarkably underwhelming. Take a look at how he has impacted the expected performance in the eyes of Las Vegas… click to read more.

Tonight, Rodgers gets the opportunity to not only break the lackluster trend, he gets to do it against a stellar defense and potentially knock off one of the two remaining undefeated teams in front of a national audience with only one game to capture their attention. Isn’t that what premier quarterbacks are made for? It’s been said that big time players make big time plays. I’d say tonight, there’s no bigger time to make those big plays by someone Packers fans laud as one of the biggest players around.

Injuries certainly haven’t been kind to the Packers and their defense has been downright dreadful, but that never seemed to stop the elite. There are countless seasons where a Colts fan could point to Peyton Manning overcoming the exact same confluence of factors to lead the Colts to another division title. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and a whole host of other top-level talent could say the same.

What can’t be taken away from Rodgers is his Super Bowl XLV win and the subsequent MVP, but like so many other things in sports and life to a certain degree, it’s all about the “What Have You Done For Me Lately?” sentiment. For Rodgers, the chance to change that narrative and redirect the critics and fitful fantasy owners begins tonight against the 5-0 Texans on NBC.

If Nate Davis Had a Time Machine

A friend of mine ask me about Nate Davis the other day as to where he was since being cut by the Colts. He suggested Nate Davis was in the Canadian Football League.

After the standard web search it turns out Davis was in the Arena Football League playing for the Kansas City Command. Keyword “was.”

Davis was let go only three games into the season on an Arena Football team. All three games were losses as the offense only scored 28 points in two of them. Scoring 28 points in Arena Football is like scoring 3 points the NFL.

Here is a quote in a press release from the team that did not mention Davis by name.

“We just felt like we had to do something,” said Command coach Danton Barto.  “We weren’t scoring points and in Arena Football you’re not going to win if you can’t consistently put the ball in the end zone.  When something’s not working you’ve got to move on and improve your football team.”

Apparently, Davis was cut two weeks ago on April, 3. I say apparently because even the Star Press did not publish anything on this as far as I can tell. I had no idea Davis was even in the Arena League. It seems as if this was something no one wanted to report.

Just two years ago Chris Collinsworth was comparing him to John Elway after he made this pass in a preseason game.

The fact that he could only last three games speaks for itself.

When it comes to playing professional football he is out of options.

Where can he go to play football that is lower than the AFL?

This brings us to the biggest “what if” question for Ball State football.

What if Nate Davis stays for his senior year?

The odds of him improving to the point where he could have thrived in the NFL may not be there but I am sure it would have helped. He would clearly have helped Ball State big time during a 2-10 season. Heck, if Davis plays in 2009 Stan Parrish may still be coaching your Cardinals.

Now that is a scary thought.

The moral of the story is to choose carefully who you take advice from.

I do not know who was in his ear, but I’m fairly sure no one close to him said the following statement; “Mid-major players should never come out early.”

It is clear rule to live by for MAC players. NFL teams typically downplay smaller schools in drafts. Davis only had to look at a couple of mocks to know he was not going to be in the first two rounds. If you are not in the first two rounds it is best to wait till next year. Another basic rule.

There are plenty of variables. I do not know his financial needs. Maybe he needed the money badly? Maybe he did not want to play for Stan Parrish and a makeshift offensive line?

For the sake of argument, here are some games Ball State may have won in 2009 with Davis as its QB.

North Texas, lost 20-10

New Hampshire, lost 23-16

At Army, lost 24-17

Toledo, lost 37-30

At Temple, lost 24-19

Ohio, lost 20-17

At Northern Illinois, lost 26-20

That is six games decided by a touchdown or less. Throw in what should have been a cupcake in North Texas and that is seven extra games Ball State could have won in 2009 with Davis taking snaps. Potentially a 9-3 record. Might be time to take up drinking.

Soon I will be graduating and I will be hearing a lot of advice from friends and family as to what jobs I should apply for. What I have notice so far my friends tend to tell me things I want to hear vs. my parents who are more concerned. I am sure something similar happened to Davis. People had to have told him he would be a wealthy and a famous quarterback in the NFL. Then they must have told him if he got hurt at Ball State he would get nothing.

Where were the people telling him to stay? Where were the scouts and coaches that should have been more critical? Did Ball State football simply enable the man to make a foolish decision?

Sure, Davis made some cash but at what price? It is reasonable to assume Davis would have been a higher draft pick in 2010 and may have been in a better situation than he was in San Francisco.

This is a story players throughout the MAC should take note with. For the next decade any Ball State player that is thinking about declaring for the draft early will have the warning signs left by Nate Davis to observe.

Let’s hope future Cardinals take the time to read the signs and see what they mean.

Nate Davis Released from Seahawks

After getting our hopes up that perhaps the NFL dream for former Ball Stater Nate Davis may materialize in Seattle, the Seahawks dashed those hopes this week by releasing Davis. After signing a futures contract with the team after being released by the San Francisco 49ers last season, Davis now finds himself watching the labor dispute play out without a team to call home. The crummy thing about all of it is quite poor timing for Davis, as this collective bargaining agreement situation impacts teams’ willingness to sign anyone, but most especially a mid-round draft pick with a lack of experience and a significant questions surrounding their feasibility in the NFL. Best of luck to Nate catching on somewhere, but I’m not holding out a tremendous amount of hope. Looks like Brad Maynard and Reggie Hodges have the title of “Most Recognizable Current Ball State Alum in the NFL” pretty sewn up.

No number in your program, still #1 in our hearts. (AP Photo/Donna McWilliam, File)

Nate Davis Finds a New Home

Enjoy the Starbucks, Nate.

OTP is clearly all about the boys that play football as amateurs. That’s one of the reasons why we don’t cover Auburn. HEY-O! Seriously though, when it comes to the pros, I’m a casual fan at best. Part of that casualness manifests itself in rooting for the Bears and Colts. One team each from the AFC and NFC, both teams fairly local to my Indiana home. After the Colts were bounced last Saturday from the playoffs, my lone rooting interests have now shifted to the Bears. The Monsters of Midway face the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday, so clearly Seattle and their sub-.500 record became enemy number one. Leave it to the Seahawks to make me rethink that strategy.

Today it was announced that Seattle is expected to sign former BSU QB Nate Davis. What role Davis will play and what his contribution to the Seahawks will be remains unclear, but here’s hoping Nate at least gets a shot. His time with the 49ers was rocky at best and he ended the season on the 49ers practice squad. Seattle’s current QB roster includes Matt Hasselbeck, Charlie Whitehurst, and J.P. Losman so Nate certainly won’t be buried on the chart behind a firmly entrenched incumbent. Of course, the same could be said about the 49ers who let Nate toil away behind the talent rich Alex Smith, Troy Smith, and David Carr. Yes, that’s sarcasm.

So congrats to Nate for being picked up by the Seahawks. In the past week, the Seahawks defended their field on Wild Card Weekend, beat the Saints, thus stopping anymore sob stories about Katrina and a city on the mend, and signed the premier BSU contribution to the NFL. After Sunday’s game I might just have to start rooting for them too. Casually, of course.

The Obligatory NFL Post

Since the BSU football front is fairly quiet now, and it will be until National Signing Day in February, we turn our attention, briefly, to the football players who suit up on Sunday and who get paid to play…. more than Cam Newton. It’s not that I don’t follow the NFL, far from it actually, but college football forever has my heart. The NFL is simply a stop-gap mistress when my first love is away or otherwise unavailable, and seeing as how this college football season is slowly winding down it’s time to at least start paying attention to the mistress, lest she find something more exciting than being second fiddle in my sports bedroom.

Being the loyal midwesterner that I am, I follow the Colts and Bears, and both are in good shape for the playoffs. The Bears have already clenched their berth and the Colts can do the same with a win on Sunday versus the trainwreck known as the Tennessee Titans. Do I think either team has a chance at the Super Bowl? Perhaps. Could a repeat of the 2006 season happen again and see the Colts and Bears square off in the Alan Bowl? Possibly, but that’s a long shot. Far too many teams in the AFC are just as talented and considerably healthier than the Colts, and the Bears have some glaring problems on both sides of the football and have been consistently inconsistent for most of the season. How they’ve won 11 games is beyond me, but it just goes to show that a steadfast defense wins you more games than a flashy offense. Take some notes, Coach Lembo.

So despite the fact that a majority of the playoff tickets have already been punched, the finale of the 2010 season actually has some meaning for me. In years past, it was an opportunity to check out the 2nd and 3rd string for the Colts, as they yet again took a couple weeks off after winning a baker’s dozen and rested up for the playoffs. This week, it matters. A win means the mistress and I are back on good terms. A loss and it means it’s back to the wife of college football for at least the next week or so.

For those of you who like to make money on the football you’re watching, there’s still time despite the season winding down. Super Bowl 2011 provided by BetUS is only two months away but great odds can still be found on a number of teams.  With so many things undecided in both the AFC Conference and NFC Conference, it makes sense for football handicappers with strong opinions to log onto the sportsbook and get those Super Bowl wagers down before the odds pass them by! Good luck with your wagers and cross your fingers that your payday, along with Indianapolis’ comes in.

Wear Your Support for Nate Davis

If you’re anything like me, you’re looking for a way to help support Nate Davis as he attempts to play his way into the good graces of Mike Singletary and his giant wooden crucifix. With Alex Smith facing some potential injury time, it’s time to fire up the bandwagon and drive it right into the heart of San Francisco to let them know there is a potential gem sitting on their practice squad. We as Ball State fans know the capabilities of Nate, but apparently those that be in 49erland have yet to sort of grasp this concept. Or they have and they just really enjoy losing. Either way, it’s time the Cardinals fans pay it forward for Nate. And you can do that by ordering one of these human billboard makers known as a Tshirt from Niners Nation Online. What does it look like? Glad you asked…

For any BSU fan or Niners fan who gets one of these puppies, photos themselves in it, and sends it our way we’ll not only publicize on the site, but we’ll send it to the 49ers. Picture by picture, email by email. Because we’re bored and we have nothing better to do than try to get our former Cardinal some NFL playing time, and this sure beats the pitchforks and fire-lit items we were going to use to make our point.

So order the shirt here, and send an email in your new duds to overthepylon[at]gmail. Winning photo deemed by either us or the commenters will get some sort of cool little prize. How do we judge who wins? Who knows. Could be location, could be background, could be anything really. Erin Andrews in the tshirt alone? Yeah… that’s gonna win. Buy the shirt, support Nate, have some fun.

Football Night? More Like Nate Davis Night

The gloved one... ready for prime time. (AP Photo/Donna McWilliam, File)

In case you are sitting there wondering how you’re going to spend your Sunday evening, then Cardinals fans, I have your answer. Say no to your significant other and their pandering for the Army Wives season finale. DVR Big Brother. Skip whatever else the networks are jamming down your throat. Tonight, at least for  Ball State football fans, there is only one option… Football Night in America on NBC.

Normally, I would rather watch two urinal gnats consummate their union before suffering through a preseason NFL game, one that will of course be dominated by an old man who has no business anywhere near the NFL. Of course, Peter King has to work somewhere I guess. ZING! Seriously though, tonight’s broadcast will be overwhelmed by Brett Favre, who of course came back to football, shocking no one, infuriating even more than were pissed last year after the Favre dog and pony show.

No, we aren’t making (or even recommending) you watch to see Favre’s loose skin and old man balls or Peter King’s subsequent washing of those low hangers. Watch with purpose, and that purpose has to do with the Vikings’ opponent tonight… the San Francisco 49ers, who happen to have one particular player wearing #7 that matters to all of us. After watching him suffer in a 3rd string role all of last season, tonight may very well be the coming out party for Nate Davis, as the 9ers have announced that he will see significant action with the 1st team from the start of the game.

Exactly how much Davis gets used, and in what format in terms of time or series, hasn’t been released, but Nate’s finally getting a shot to shine. National television, first teamers, in a game where many many many people will tune in just to see Favre. Here’s his chance to show the people focused on the past just who is the future, and OTP wishes him well as this opportunity unfolds. Make us proud, Nate, we know you will.

***Tune in to NBC at 8pm this evening for Nate’s coming out party.***

A Little Nate Davis News

I remember these times.

Granted, OTP is a college football site, but we always keep a watchful eye on the big boys that play on Sunday, especially now that former Ball Stater Nate Davis stands on the verge of making an impact in the League. Nate would have to beat out Alex Smith and David Carr for the starters job, and while certainly not easy, it isn’t as if he’s battling an entrenched sort of Manningesque Pro Bowler. That’s a good thing. Will it be this year? Perhaps not, but Davis still has a future in this League, a fact not lost on 49er fans and faithful. Are they expecting Nate to come in and tear the NFL up the way he did the MAC? Of course not. But they already know what Smith and Carr can do. Davis is the great unknown, and sports perhaps more so than any other avenue doesn’t subscribe to the “Devil you know…” mantra.

So is relative unknownness, a boatload of talent, and youth enough to start laying all your paychecks on the 49ers? If you think so, then head on over and check out the NFL Lines, because it’s never to early to start preparing for that dare to be rich moment.

Some Davis news from aroujnd the Web…

  • Dave Razzano, NFL scout and son of legendary 49er scout Tony Razzano, thinks Davis may very well be the answer for the 49ers QB problems, and is certainly better for their success than Alex Smith. “When I evaluated him, I thought he was the same guy as Mark Sanchez,” Razzano said. “I thought they were very similar. But you have to put a guy on the field and let him play. There’s a reason Ball State was, like, 12-1 or 13-1 for the first time ever. And now they’re back to winning two games. That guy was a heck of a quarterback. “They might say, ‘He doesn’t learn this or that.’ If they just handed him the keys, that’s their answer. He’ll make mistakes, but he won’t make the same mistake twice. This kid made every throw imaginable. It wasn’t a short-passing game (at Ball State). There would be guys in his face and he’d roll out, man, he hit guys on a 30-yard freakin’ strike between defenders. The kid was unbelievable. I knew he’d fall (in the draft) because in the spring all that garbage comes in.”  (linky)
  • Nate’s been involved in some charity work around the bay area. He lent his time and appearance to the Robert Julian Robbins dedicated to gun safety after a tragic shooting of a 3-year old. ND… always a class act. (linky)
  • In case you were wondering, and you’re a Madden fan, Madden 11 has Davis rated as a 65 overall, same as David Carr. That’s also below Alex Smith’s 77. (linky)

Brandon Crawford: Work Out Madness

NFL offenses... beware

Got sent a link this weekend for a pretty insightful little piece about Brandon Crawford as he attempts to break his way into the NFL. Crawford is of course an interesting piece for any reader of this blog, simply because of his Ball State career, but truthfully, what makes Crawford so must-watch is his overall story. Marine, non-traditional student, and resident bad ass anchor of the Cards’ defense over the last several seasons, it’s a story worth watching. So watch away…

Embedding? Not possible. But you can see the video here.

The link to the site that brings it to the masses is Indy Sports Nation, a great site that focuses on sporting news for the Indy crowd. There’s always some BSU focus, as there is a former alum on staff in Jeremiah Johnson, who you probably know as Fox59’s roving sports reporter. If you’re not checking ISN, you should be.