Posts by Chris Stout
We’re at the midpoint of an exciting NFL season with tons of interesting storylines. Babyface meathead Richie Incognito has been dominating the NFL news cycle lately, but there are more important things to ponder, like why the hell the Steelers are 2-6.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have more championships than any other NFL team, but the 2013 season has been an absolute disaster. From the patchwork set of o-lineman that take each other out at the knees to the aging defense that allowed more points last week than any other game in Steelers’ history to the inability to convert and stop conversions on third down, it’s been a rough year. As a Steelers fan, I’m open to any and every bit of positive ju-ju that can help stop the bleeding.
So I took a look at the NFL Fan Superstition Index that Bud Light put together. The official beer of the NFL partnered with KRC Research and conducted more than 9,500 interviews among the 32 different NFL team fan bases. About 300 fans per team were asked more than 50 questions in an effort to calculate the superstition level of each NFL fan base.
Baltimore Ravens fans ranked as the most superstitious fans in the NFL. Coming off a Super Bowl victory, that’s totally understandable. Jets fans are most likely to try and curse or jinx an opposing team, which also makes sense seeing how miserable the average Jets fan’s life must be. Lions fans are most likely to engage in superstitious activities alone, likely so that no one will see them cry.
I thought this tidbit was interesting – Raiders supporters are the fans most likely to wear the same article of clothing (51%) or same hat or non-clothing accessory (38%) in order to help their team’s chances of winning. That makes sense when you think of the low football/life IQ of most Raiders fans, and the fact that they rarely wash themselves or their clothes.
Steelers fans rank fourth in the league when it comes to engaging in superstitious activities with their friends. Steelers fans rank seventh when it comes to setting out some type of team memorabilia to impact the outcome of a game. There’s a lot of terrible towels you see. And does it work? Well 36 percent of the Steelers fans surveyed believe that their superstitious practices actually influence the outcome of games. Maybe we all should try harder this year.
So there you have it. If you want to learn more about your team’s fan base tries to influence games with supernatural tactics, check out the full NFL Fan Superstition Index by Bud Light. Here are some more highlights from the survey:
The new Adidas Springblade is the first running shoe that’s actually engineered to propel you forward as you run. You can pick these up at adidas.com/Running or hit up #Springblade on Twitter to find out more about this electric shoe that features 16 individually tuned Energy Blades that’ll legit give you an extra boost in your step. Check out the video:
Washington -1.5 At Minnesota
The Vikes are riding a four game losing streak. They’re a one win team in divison with three other 5-3 squads. Despite some inspired play by Christian Ponder in a near-win last week, Minnesota has nothing to play for but pride. The Skins aren’t exactly road warriors (1-3 away from Washington), but they beat a decent Chargers team last week and at 3-5, they’re still in the mix in the NFC East. Both these teams are pretty ineffective on the defensive side of the ball, but the edge goes to the better offense.
Pick: Skins -1.5
At Carolina -7.5 Atlanta
Panthers got momentum. They get Stewart back as well.
Pick: Panthers -7.5
At Dallas -10.5 Minnesota
Big spread’s justified. Cowboys rally behind Demarco as the Vikings look for answers at QB.
Pick: Cowboys -10.5
New Orleans -6 At NY Jets
Jets should find room to run, but could be down early. Brees lights it up.
Pick: Saints -6
Tennessee -3 At St. Louis
Locker gets back to business. Rams are banged up.
Pick: Titans -3
Kansas City -3 At Buffalo
No Thad Lewis. Should be a ground and pound type game that favors the team that doesn’t turn the ball over.
Pick: Chiefs -3
San Diego -1 At Washington
Redskins are under siege to change their name and the Chargers are well rested. I like the home team here.
Pick: Skins +1
At Oakland -2.5 Philadelphia
Foles doesn’t inspire and Raiders are coming off a big home win.
Pick: Raiders -2.5
At Seattle -16 Tampa Bay
Spread seems a bit too high.
Pick: Bucs +16
Baltimore -2.5 At Cleveland
Browns continue their descent.
Pick: Ravens -2.5
At New England -6.5 Pittsburgh
Upset city as the Steelers bounce back after finding room to run.
Pick: Steelers +6.5
Indianapolis -2.5 At Houston
Colts are hot and the Texans have lost 5 straight. Schaub gets benched and Foster is a game-time call.
Pick: Colts -2.5
At Green Bay -10.5 Chicago
Cutler-less Bears will struggle in Green Bay.
Pick: Packers -10.5
Last Week: 5-8
Last Season: 136-121-5
Cincinnati -3 At Miami
The Bengals look to tighten their stranglehold on the AFC North with a trip to Miami on Halloween. This Bengals team is winning games that it previously would’ve tossed away. They’ve won four straight. After a hot start, the Dolphins have lost four in a row. These are two teams moving in the opposite direction and even if the Fins run the ball consistently, they’re up against one of the better run/overall defenses in the league.
Pick: Bengals -3
San Francisco -15 Jacksonville
Sorry, London. Not all football games are this one-sided.
Pick: Niners -15
At Detroit -3 Dallas
Home team gets the edge in a god battle between two 3-4 teams.
Pick: Lions -3
At Philadelphia -5.5 NY Giants
Can the Giants make it two in a row? Not if Vick plays a full game.
Pick: Eagles -5.5
At Kansas City -7 Cleveland
Jason Campbell against the league’s best D.
Pick: Chiefs -7
At New Orleans -10.5 Buffalo
Thad’s not terrible, but the Saints at home are too much.
Pick: Saints -10.5
At New England -6 Miami
Tom Brady is under pressure to make things happen with less protection and fewer splashy playmakers. The Pats just don’t lose two in a row that often though.
Pick: Pats -6
At Cincinnati -5.5 NY Jets
The Bengals are looking like one of the teams to beat in the AFC, but can they be as physical as the Jets?
Pick: Jets +5.5
Pittsburgh -2.5 At Oakland
Pittsburgh doesn’t always perform well in Oakland, but with an inspired D and balance on O they’ll win three in a row.
Pick: Steelers -2.5
At Denver -11.5 Washington
This game’s going to be a points-fest. I think the Skins might be able to hang or at least not get blown out.
Pick: Skins +11.5
At Arizona -2.5 Atlanta
The Cards are hard to read, but the Falcons can still make noise despite all the injuries.
Pick: Falcons +2.5
Green Bay -7.5 At Minnesota
Maybe Freeman settles down a bit. Looks like he still needs more time though.
Pick: Packers -7.5
Seattle -11.5 At St. Louis
Whenever Favre comes up as a viable option for you at QB, you’ve got problems.
Pick: Seahawks -11.5
Carolina -6 At Tampa Bay
In a game that’s sure to grab the attention of dozens of football fans throughout the country, the Panthers are a lock. Schiano’s brand on Buccaneer Football isn’t resonating with his players. Doug Martin’s out. It’s never a good thing for a winless football team to lose one of their top offensive weapons. Factor in the lost locker room and it’s gonna be an uphill battle for the Bucs at home. The Panthers are coming off two straight wins by two scores. They should secure this one pretty early.
Pick: Panthers -6
Pick: Panthers -6
Think you can handle Antarctica? Can you write a good story? If so Air New Zealand wants to hear from you. The airline has partnered up with Antarctica New Zealand, the New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute and National Geographic to send one lucky winner to cold weather training in Christchurch, New Zealand and then team up with National Geographic photographer Jason Edwards to fly to Antarctica for two weeks. While in Antarctica, the winner will spend time exploring with Jason and writing about the experience in an effort to raise awareness about the scientific research and environmental issues in the coldest continent. Check it out:
If you think you got what it takes to win the Antarctica: No Ordinary Place, No Ordinary Assignment challenge, hit up airnewzealand.com/voiceforantarctica to learn more.
For the first time in 49 years, a running back was not selected in the first round of the NFL draft. The first running back to have his name called in the second round was Giovani Bernard. The 37th overall pick from West Palm Beach, Florida was the first running back from North Carolina to be taken in the first two rounds since Natrone Means. Six weeks into his NFL career, Bernard has already been a difference maker for the Cincinnati Bengals. He’s averaging 4 yards a carry, 10 yards per catch and he’s scored twice on the ground and twice through the air. His touches have been gradually increasing and he looks to be an integral part of the Bengals offense moving forward.
Bernard gained some notoriety during training camp when he was featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks. Other players on the team gave him the business for driving his girlfriend’s mom’s minivan. But Bernard took it in stride. “If something has automatic doors and it’s push to open, that’s perfect with me,” Bernard said to the cameras.
Bernard joined up with Pepsi to promote the Pepsi NEXT Rookie of the Week program, where fans can vote for their favorite rookie performers each week of the season on nfl.com/rookies. Bernard joined fellow rookies Le’Veon Bell and Denard Robinson for this Unbelievable Hidden Talents video where he showed off his mad snake charmer skills.
We caught up with Bernard a couple weeks ago and talked about his participation in the Pepsi NEXT Rookie of the Week program, his relationship with incumbent starter Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis, the intensity of James Harrison, what it’s like to be “owned” by fantasy football players and a lot more.
CS: Coach Gruden mentioned that you’re going to see a lot more playing time as the season progresses. That has to put you in an interesting situation with incumbent starter, The Law Firm. How does that relationship play out where you know that you’re coming in as a high-draft pick, there’s veteran presence on the team at running back, and you know that you’re slowly going to eat away at his snaps?
GB: I think the big thing about me and Benny is that—well I call him ‘Benny’ and we call him ‘Benny’—is that we’re just trying to help the team win. At the end of the day, we obviously want to keep our jobs and we all want that, but we want the team to win. We want to be successful as a team.
He’s really the closer. He’s a leader in our running back room. He’s the type of guy that, you know, there’s four minutes left in the game, they’re going to put him in to secure the ball and just churn out the yards. He’s just a hardnosed kind of guy and everybody here knows that just how he is and that’s his mentality. And he’s a great guy. He’s a great leader and he definitely shows that on the field.
CS: Coming from college to the NFL, what would you say is the biggest transition that you’ve had to get used to? I mean everyone talks about the speed, but is there anything else that really stands out to you as being a difference?
GB: I think the thing between the NFL and college is that you realize that this is a job. I think that’s the biggest thing. You realize that at any second, at any moment, you could be gone. No matter what the situation is, no matter how great you are, you could be gone the next day. And you see that with Trent Richardson. You know, I think somebody said he found out through Twitter –or whatever it was—that he was being traded to Indianapolis. You just have to realize that this is a job and nobody is out there to help you out. You have to work hard each and every single day.
CS: So coming in as a rookie you were nominated for the Pepsi NEXT Rookie of the Week, can you tell me a little bit about that program and your involvement there?
GB: Yeah definitely. We’re basically just letting fans know that all season they can vote for Pepsi NEXT Rookie of the Week. And people think that Pepsi NEXT has a real cooler taste with 60% less sugar, so they kind of asked me to do this web series that shows our hidden talents as rookies. Mine’s actually pretty cool, fans out there can go check that out at nfl.com/rookies. It’s actually really cool how people can just see our brighter side and our more enjoyable side of things off the field.
CS: So I saw that snake charmer video, and you were there with Denard and Le’Veon Bell. Have you talked with Le’Veon at all, because you guys are in the same division and you’re coming out of the same draft class? Do you think he’s going to help the Steelers?
GB: Definitely. Well you know, for me, that whole experience with Pepsi NEXT, the whole snake charming thing, was really cool. But I had the relationship with Denard even before that, because I played against him at a high school in South Florida. And then me and Le’Veon, we met each other through the whole Combine experience and workouts and all that kind of stuff. Knowing that he was going to play for sure, we kind of became friends in that way.
I followed him after that first Monday night game and I just told him to keep his head up. After the injury I sent him a text message as well, you know, just praying for him. I mean that’s a great guy, a guy I’m really close with, a guy who’s a great athlete and an even better person off the field. So I know he’s going to make headlines one of these days and he’s going to do a great job. A lot of people are doubting him but he’s definitely a guy that you should keep your eye on as a rookie.
CS: So you see a guy like James Harrison in the weight room or on the practice field, does he just have that intimidation face all the time or that’s just kind of an outside persona that people who aren’t on his team wouldn’t necessarily understand?
GB: I think it’s a little bit of both. As we get closer to game days, you can tell he becomes that fearful James Harrison. But the day after the game he’s very chill and relaxed and he’s just trying to get better. He’s just a guy that always has a chip on his shoulder no matter what the situation is. He’s the type of guy that’s going to go out there and play his heart out. You can tell that he has that mentality each and every single day whether that’s an off day and he’s in the weight room lifting or in his treatment, whatever it is he’s a real veteran in the league and he has definitely shown that through the years.
CS: So how weird was it to enter the NFL, which has to be a unique experience in itself, and then have that whole Hard Knocks film team documenting everything from your personal life to training camp and all the practices and stuff?
GB: Well for me I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it completely. There are days where, you know, obviously I was tired and doing the whole training process. It was my first training camp, and all that kind of stuff. I just had to find the brighter side of it and let the fans out there know what training camp is really like. It helped me out in a sense. It got my name out there and it’s cool in that sense. But for me, I knew I was there to do one job and that was not to be an actor. It was not to be a Hard Knocks star. It was just to be a football player and have fun and just let everything else really take care of itself.
CS: Do people still give you shit about the minivan?
GB: Yeah (laughs). I’m still getting beat around about that so, it is what it is.
CS: Have you decorated that apartment yet?
GB: (Laughs) No, the apartment still looks basically like a bachelor pad and I think it’s going to stay that way.
CS: (Laughs). So have you had a “welcome to the NFL” rookie-type moment yet?
GB: I think it was probably the first time that I walked into the facility…or my second time walking into that facility, when I saw James Harrison because he had to do his first press conference for the Bengals. I was walking towards the lunch room. In my mind I totally forgot about it. During the whole Combine experience you’re not really looking at trades, you’re more so worried about draft picks and all that kind of stuff.
So for me it was kind of that moment where I realized that yes, I’m in the NFL, and yes, I need to step my game up because we’ve got guys like James Harrison that will take your head off and continue to keep playing. So for me, it’s just going out there and just playing and competing and having fun.
CS: Now tell me something about Marvin Lewis that most people probably don’t realize. He’s been around for a really long time, is there any particular moment that you’ve had with him that kind of sheds light maybe on a side that most people don’t get to see?
CS: Do you ever get annoyed when fans come up to you and talk about you as if they own you because of fantasy football?
GB: (Laughs) Yeah it actually happened last night. This guy was like “Dude I had my doubts about you but I started you this past week”.
GB: Well I’m glad you had doubts about me and now you’re just like (laughs) bowing down to me. But you know, fantasy football is just a whole other experience. I mean, I’m not going to say I’m not a fan of it, because it’s cool how they kind of do all that stuff. But I’ve never played it before. I’ve got my friends on it, my friends … it’s crazy, I’ll just say that (laughs).
CS: Who is a sneaky player to watch on the Bengals, who may be prime for a breakout?
GB: Prime for a breakout …
CS: Outside of yourself obviously, Gio.
GB: (Laughs) Well honestly I think there are guys across the board who are just breakout players that are continuing to make plays, but one of the guys that I really admire –good game—is Dante Ridgeway, the middle linebacker. He’s just a hardnosed kind of guy and he’s a guy where I definitely admire his energy and his passion for the game. He’s the guy that really just works hard for what he has and he’s done a lot of good things. I mean he’s just doing a great job of being a leader defensively and offensively as well.
Seattle -5.5 At Arizona
The Cards have a good thing going on D and should be able to shut down Seattle’s passing attack.
Pick: Seahawks -5.5
New England -3.5 At NY Jets
The Pats keep rolling and maintain their hold on the division.
Pick: Pats -3.5
San Diego -7.5 At Jacksonville
The streak of the Jags covering the spread ends after one week.
Pick: Chargers -7.5
At Kansas City -6 Houston
Houston has problems. The Chiefs are flying high. With a new QB under center going up against a fantastic defense in a hostile, record-breakingly loud environment, odds are the Chiefs winless streak will continue.
Pick: Chiefs -6
At Detroit -2.5 Cincinnati
The Lions seem like a different team when they’re playing in the comfort of their own dome. The Bengals seem a bit weaker on the road. Close game edge goes to the Lions.
Pick: Lions -2.5
At Miami -7.5 Buffalo
The Dolphins have lost two straight but now they get a chance to get back to their early winning ways. They can outscore a Thad-led Bills team.
Pick: Dolphins -7.5
At Washington PK Chicago
The Bears are the better squad. More efficient, more consistent and more than capable of beating a Skins team that can’t seem to put it all together week in and week out.
At Philadelphia -3 Dallas
Nick Foles looked pretty good leading that offense. Vick’s injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. If he doesn’t get back on the field soon, he may not have a starting job to reclaim. I think Foles will take full advantage of a favorable matchup against a not-so-stout pass D.
Pick: Eagles -3
At Carolina -6 St. Louis
The Rams got a huge win over the Texans to move to 3-3. Their offense leaves a lot to be desired, but this defense can keep them in it, even on the road.
Pick: Rams +6
At Atlanta -7 Tampa Bay
The Falcons get win number to as the Bucs continue to search for answers.
Pick: Falcons -7
San Francisco -4 At Tennessee
Locker’s return won’t stop the hurt. Niners win on the road.
Pick: Niners -4
At Green Bay -10 Cleveland
It woulda been nice to see what the Browns season could have been with Hoyer under center, but Weeden ball is back and the optimism has dissipated. Green Bay may have some banged up weapons on offense, but with a new found balance they should be able to cover at home.
Pick: Packers -10
At Pittsburgh -2 Baltimore
The Steelers are back. With a viable option at running back and a defense that’s suddenly capable of creating turnovers, the Steelers will win their second game against a familiar foe.
Pick: Steelers -2
Denver -6.5 At Indianapolis
Jim Irsay’s attempts to irk Peyton backfire as Manning unleashes his full fury in front of familiar faces.
Pick: Broncos -6.5
At NY Giants -3.5 Minnesota
What a terrible game to feature in primetime. Must’ve looked good on paper in the offseason. Josh Freeman gets the chance to take over starting duties this week. But the Giants have been off long enough to get their shit together and finally pull off their first win.
Pick: Giants -3.5
Last Week: 7-9
Last Season: 136-121-5