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ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL!?  If you’re gearing up to have some people over this Super Bowl Sunday then continue on for some tasty, fun party ideas that will surely impress your guests this year!  It’ll look like you went the extra mile, but will take minimal effort to pull off.

A party isn’t a party without FOOD, so let’s start there!  Since we’re talking stress-free, what better way to start the festivities than with some good old crock pot cookings.  Let your appliances do the work for you.  Chili and corn bread could kick a field goal with your guests, and it’s super easy to toss together!  Another option is a taco bar.  Mix your meat in the crock pot and put the cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and salsa in separate dishes for a self serve buffet.

If sandwiches are more your speed, there are a number of mini sliders that you can mass produce and whip up in no time.  The quickest would be the slider dog.  Grab some rolls and insert half a hot dog.  Top it off with a strip of ketchup or mustard in the shape of football laces for a fun twist!  Ham & Swiss or meatball sliders are some favorites that would be a huge hit as well.  If you’re looking for something unique, however, consider a chicken & waffle slider!  Sandwich a piece of fried chicken between two slices of mini waffles and pin together with a toothpick.  Drizzle with maple syrup and you’re ready to kick back and watch the game in no time!

It’s always good to consider an extra snack for the grazers.  Brown bags filled with chips and pop corn to grab on the go, rice crispy treats in the shape of footballs, or a quick Mexican dip with vegetables could liven up the bunch with a well rounded display of goods!

There’s more to Game Day than food, though.  This is a day of entertainment, so we can’t write a Game Day blog without including some actual game ideas too.  You might end up with a variety of people at your party who are at varying degrees of football fanatics.  Keep everyone entertained with a few small, fun games.  Lay out some bingo cards (try these free printables) and the winner can claim a bag of candy.  Make a mini football cornhole set using pumpkin seeds as footballs.  If kids are attending, print out some football helmet pictures for them to color and host a coloring contest.

 

 

 

With the Wild Card weekend in the rearview, it is time for the Divisional round of the NFL Playoffs. The top 2 seeds from each conference got their bye week and should be rested up. They will face the winners of the Wild Card. Each team that won during the Wild Card was the home team. This week, however, Green Bay, Houston, Pittsburgh, and Seattle will all be on the road. In the AFC #4 Houston will go up north to #1 New England and #3 Pittsburgh is off to #2 Kansas City. On the NFC side #4 Green Bay will face #1 Dallas and #3 Seattle will travel to #2 Atlanta. All of these games are rematches from earlier in the NFL season, which should make for some interesting games.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

To kick off the Divisional round is a great NFC matchup. The #3 Seattle Seahawks go down south to play the #2 Atlanta Falcons in what might be the most heated game of the weekend. These teams met in week 6 of the regular season in arguably one of the best games of the season. The Seahawks edged the Falcons with the score 26-24, but not without controversy. Richard Sherman had hands on Julio Jones that could have easily been called pass Image result for seahawks vs falconsinterference but was not. It should also be mentioned that this game was in Seattle where the Seahawks went 7-1 but on the road went 3-4-1. Either way, this game kicks off a great weekend but I see Atlanta getting by with a close win.

The late game on Saturday is up in Foxborough between the #4 Houston Texans and the #1 New England Patriots. This game is a rematch from week 3 but with one major difference. Tom Brady will be in the lineup this time and has been red hot this season. This is a baImage result for texans vs patriotsd scenario for Houston as they lost 27-0 earlier in the year to the Pats 3rd string QB. That fact, mixed with the extremely inconsistent play from all of Houston’s quarterbacks means the Texans are in trouble. One good thing for Houston is their defense and their pass rush, which may be their only saving grace. They can hope to pressure Brady but the Patriots will win by at least 14.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The first game on Sunday is set to take place between #3 Pittsburgh Steelers and the #2 Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. This has shaped up to be a very interesting matchup as Pittsburgh has all of their offensive weapons on the field. The key thing is that their defense is playing at the best they have all season. On the Chiefs side, they had the bye week to rest up. They also come in with one of the most balanced offenses and a defense that has been firing on all cylinders for the last half of the season. This will be a much differentImage result for steelers vs chiefs game than the week 4 blowout for two reasons. The Chiefs have gotten much better since their loss. This game is in KC as well where the Chiefs are a very good team at that. Another big concern for the Steelers is their quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger was injured in the wild card game and was seen in a walking boot. It has been reported that he is will play and it is only a sprain, but it may still have an effect come Sunday. I suspect this game will come down to a field goal, but both teams can win in this one.

The final Divisional game of the weekend might be the most exciting too. The red hot #4 Green Bay Packers are going to Jerry World to take on the #1 Dallas Cowboys.  This game has a lot of interest as the Cowboys have been the best team all season, but they are facing arguably the best quarterback in the league in Aaron Rodgers. The last time these teams met in week 6 the Cowboys went into Lambeau and won 30-16. One big difference between then and now is the emergence of some Green Bay defense. The Cowboys are a tough matchup for any team. This is because of Zeke Elliot and the way he can run the ball. I see this game being a shootout with a ton of points scored even without Jordy Nelson. I think the veteran puts the rookies in their place, 45-35 in favor of Green Bay. This pick could easily go for the Cowboys as well especially with the season they’ve had. The Boys have a lot of upsides and I expect to see them in the same place next season. Image result for packers vs cowboys

Water Cooler Talk isn’t too proud to admit that he was wrong in the prediction of Sunday’s game. While I was confident in my pick and potential game situations, I may have either had too much bias or allowed the betting line to sway my opinion. Either way, it’s all said and done now, so let’s recap the game before taking a short recess from NFL talk. Sit back, relax and enjoy the memory of Super Bowl 50 one more time while enjoying the sweet site of snow coming down.

The Broncos had a great start to the game as they marched down the field with ease to open the game, but couldn’t quite cap off the drive as they only came away with three points. Carolina seemed nervous while Manning and the Broncos offense seemed to have just been playing a typical game on a Sunday in America.

Carolina’s offense on the other hand struggled mightily to start the game, and it really didn’t improve much moving forward thanks to a smothering Denver defense and mental mistakes. Cam couldn’t be Cam, receivers had a hard time getting open and the running game just couldn’t get a flow.

When you look past Denver’s opening drive, there really wasn’t anything to talk about. With the exception of C.J. Anderson, who had 90 yards on 23 carries with a TD, there wasn’t a bright spot. 191 yards was the total offensive output from the Broncos, the fewest yards gained by a Super Bowl winner. But as I and the other 147 million people watching now know, the offense didn’t need to do anything to win this game.

Forcing four Carolina turnovers assured the Broncos that they would never trail in this game. It appeared that when the Panthers were finally gaining some momentum, a turnover, penalty, dropped pass or sack stifled any chance of a shift in confidence.

I’ve heard some of the rumblings, as I’m sure you have as well, that the game was rigged since the NFL figured this would be Manning’s last game. While there were some questionable calls on the field, don’t think for one second that this game was rigged for Carolina to lose. Carolina lost this game, simple as that. They averaged less than two turnovers per game over the regular season…they committed four on Sunday. They averaged six penalties per game prior to Sunday…they got flagged 12 times on Sunday. Carolina averaged 31.3 points during the regular season…they could only muster 10 in Santa Clara. Cam had not been hit more than six times in any game this season…he was sacked seven times on Sunday and hit repeatedly.

When you think about the Panthers season, they went 17-2 and lost by a total of 21 points. While that seems redundant to most, it’s impressive when you think about how Carolina was without Kelvin Benjamin all season, Luke Kuechly for three games and having Charles Johnson and Jonathan Stewart missing time during the season as well. This team will be one to watch out for in the years to come, this will not be another Carolina one-trick pony.

Denver needs to enjoy their moment for as long as they can. They had a very up-and-down season with an extremely inconsistent offense along with QB changes between Manning and Brock Osweiler that called for Manning to retire before the season even ended.

It’s going to be a tough offseason for Denver now as it appears Manning will retire and having a slew of to-be free agents to include Von Miller, Brock Osweiler, Malik Jackson, Evan Mathis, Danny Trevathan, C.J. Anderson and Brandon Marshall. They can’t keep them all, so it looks as if John Elway will have to do a bit of rebuilding. Considering all of this, it’s still tough to say that Denver will take a backseat to competing for another Lombardi trophy for next season.

It’s sad to know the NFL season is over, but before we know it the Scouting Combine will start which means the NFL Draft will soon arrive, then OTAs, and then training camp will start. It’ll be a fast six months, so fight back those tears.

Thanks for reading this week, be sure to come back as we’ll begin delving into college basketball and start gearing up for the upcoming MLB season. Everyone have a great week and have a fun time in the snow!