Bro-Picks: NFL Week 12 Predictions

Turkey. Stuffing. And Thanksgiving Football.

Thanksgiving Day: A day in which we stuff our faces with food while watching the NFL mainstays of turkey day football, the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys, lose. The NFL on Thanksgiving has given us many memorable moments, including Dallas Cowboys DL Leon Lett’s ill fated fumble recovery attempt, Steelers RB Jerome Bettis’s botched coin toss at the hands of referee Phil Luckett, and Jets QB Mark Sanchez’s infamous “Butt Fumble.” Who knows what memories may be made with this slate of Thanksgiving Day games, but like Week 12 of the NFL season, they feature marquee match-ups that will alter the NFL’s playoff picture.

Last Week: 11-3

Overall: 98-62

 

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions (Thanksgiving Day)

The Vikings have gained control of the NFC North despite starting 3rd string QB Case Keenum. The Lions are still very much alive in the NFC Playoff picture, but it will be tough for them to beat this Vikings team a seconded time.

Winner: Vikings

Los Angeles Chargers at Dallas Cowboys (Thanksgiving Day)

This is a tale of teams going in opposite directions. The Cowboys look lost without RB Ezekiel Elliott, LB Sean Lee, and LT Tyron Smith. The Chargers, on the other hand, had five interceptions last week… in the first half. The Chargers have a tendency to let you down, so look for big D to rebound and keep their playoff hopes alive.

Winner: Cowboys

New York Giants at Washington Redskins (Thanksgiving Day)

The Redskins choked away a victory against an elite NFC team in the Saints, while the Giants somehow beat a superior Chiefs team last week. Go figure.

Winner: Redskins

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons

Sure, the Bucs have won 2 in a row, but they’re not going anywhere. The Falcons have one of the toughest schedules remaining, and will need this win in order to remain a wild card team in the NFC.

Winner: Falcons

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals

The 2nd battle of Ohio game this year means another “Oh- Why- No” joke.

Winner: Bengals

Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts

The Colts have played valiantly this season without QB Andrew Luck, but they’re still in line for a top 10 draft pick. The Titans remain a confounding team, and they need this game to keep pace with the AFC South leading Jaguars.

Winner: Titans

Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs

Bills head coach Sean McDermott made the dopiest move of the season benching QB Tyrod Taylor for rookie QB Nathan Peterman, who proceeded to throw five interceptions against the Chargers… IN THE FIRST HALF ON 14 ATTEMPTS. Meanwhile, the once dynamic Chiefs offense has sputtered, and could only score field goals against a bad Giants team. Neither team is heading in the right direction.

Winner: Chiefs

Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots

Dolphins QB Jay Cutler may be wishing he stayed retired after suffering a concussion last week.

Winner: Patriots

Carolina Panthers at New York Jets

The Panthers may be the most quiet 7-3 team we’ve ever seen. This team has the a top ranking defense and a dynamic play-maker in former MVP QB Cam Newton. No one will want to face them in the playoffs should they continue there winning ways.

Winner: Panthers

Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles shook off their bye week rust in the second half last Sunday en route to throttling the Dallas Cowboys and draining control of the NFC East. They have a “trap game” this week ahead of their match-up against NFC mainstay Seattle, but they should have no trouble dismantling NFC basement mainstay Chicago.

Winner: Eagles

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers are continuing to start CJ Beathard, leaving many to wonder when we’ll see Jimmy Garoppolo. The Legion of boom defense may be coming to an end, but Seattle should continue their dominance against their NFC West rival with QB Russell Wilson under center.

Winner: Seahawks

New Orleans Saints at Los Angles Rams

The Saints needed s comeback miracle to beat the Redskins last week, but there’s little doubt they are among the NFC’s elite. The same can’t be said of the Rams, who were pummeled by the Vikings last week, and may be showing signs they may not be among the NFC’s elite.

Winner: Saints

Jacksonville Jaguars at Arizona Cardinals

The Jaguars are shockingly 7-3 and on top of the AFC South, but it’s tough to start believing in this team with QB Blake Bortles under center. The Cardinals may be mailing it in, but they’re still a tough out for most.

Winner: Jaguars

Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders

The Broncos fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy due their awful offensive output. The Raiders fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. due to their awful defensive output. Both of these teams are in a tailspin.

Winner: Raiders

Green Bay Packers at Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday Night Football)

Packers coach Mike McCarthy may regret spending the last couple of seasons trying to develop QB Brett Hundley. He can’t play. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who threw 4 touchdown passes last week, can still play at a very high level.

Winner: Steelers

Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens (Monday Night Football)

The Texans got a nice win over the Cardinals last week and are mathematically still alive in the AFC playoff picture. If only the had QB Deshaun Watson, they might actually have a chance against the offensively inept Ravens. ESPN is wishing they could flex out of this game.

Winner: Ravens

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Bro-Picks: NFL Week 11 Predictions

Another week, another slate of telling games.

Week 10 of the NFL taught us a lot about the contenders and pretenders for the Super Bowl this year. Just when we think we know everything there is to know about the league’s best teams, glaring flaws arise that make us question whether we should take those teams seriously. Week 11 of the NFL promises a plethora of telling games, and may be the final nail in the coffin for teams barely hanging on to their playoff chances.

Last Week: 10-4

Overall: 87-59

Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers (Thursday Night Football)

The Titans could easily be 3-6 this year considering their uninspired wins against the Browns, Ravens, and Bengals were close contests throughout. They end their stretch against the AFC North against the Steelers, who probably should have lost to the Colts last week considering their dreadful performance.

Winner: Steelers

 

Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears

Bears coach John Fox challenged a play on Sunday against the Packers thinking they scored a touchdown. The call was changed to a touchback. If that isn’t a perfect encapsulation of the Bears season, then maybe a loss to the Lions will be.

Winner: Lions

 

Baltimore Ravens at Green Bay Packers

The Packers seemed dead a couple of weeks ago, but they have a stretch of winnable games starting this week against the Ravens that could keep them in the playoff picture. Ravens QB Joe Flacco may no longer be elite, but his elite defense will stifle Packers QB Brett Humdley.

Winner: Ravens

 

Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns

The Browns browned by trying a QB sneak at the end of the first half last week, only to have time expire and without points before halftime. Jaguars QB Blake Bortles Bortled by throwing 2 interceptions late in the game, and somehow the Jaguars won. Imagine if the Jags had an actual QB.

Winner: Jaguars

 

Arizona Cardinals at Houston Texans

Both teams have had to resort to playing their back-up QBs this season due to their starters being injured. The Cardinals may have to start 3rd string QB Blaine Gabbert if Drew Stanton can’t go, but the Texans have to start QB Tom Savage, who can’t move to save his life.

Winner: Cardinals

 

Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings

This is the first of a four out of five game stretch that will tell us if the Rams are true contenders. Going on the road against a vaunted Vikings defense will be tough for the league’s top offense to overcome, and the Vikings may eventually have to re-insert QB Teddy Bridgewater into the lineup should QB Case Keenum revert back to his Jeff Fischer coached Rams days.

Winner: Vikings

 

Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints

The Saints are winning the good ‘ole fashioned way: running the ball effectively and playing stellar defense. It’s a luxury for them to also have future Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees, who finally does not have to carry the team on his back.

Winner: Saints

 

Kansas City Chiefs at New York Giants

The Giants have given up on coach Ben McAdoo after their embarrassing loss to the winless 49ers. Why the Giants haven’t fired him yet remains the most questionable coaching decision this year.

Winner: Chiefs

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Miami Dolphins

Playing on what was supposed the bye week for both of these teams, both teams have failed to match pre-season expectations. This battle of Florida will come down to which turnover-prone QB, Jay Cutler of the Dolphins and Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Buccaneers, commits the least amount of turnovers.

Winner: Buccaneers

 

Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Chargers

The Bills have benched QB Tyron Taylor for rookie 5th round pick Nathan Peterman, and are officially pretenders. The Chargers keep finding ways to lose, so this one is anyone’s guess.

Winner: Chargers

 

Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos

The Broncos’ offense has officially reached rock bottom, with their lone highlight last week being QB Brock Osweiler plunking some guy on the sideline with an incompletion. Remember when this team trounced the Dallas Cowboys?

Winner: Bengals

 

New England Patriots at Oakland Raiders (Game in Mexico City, Mexico)

Raiders owner Mar Davis yuked it up this week at the ground breaking ceremony for the team’s new Las Vegas stadium, playing a shovel like an air guitar and looking like s fool in the process. Patriots QB may have the Raiders secondary looking foolish this week, as they have yet to record an interception this season.

Winner: Patriots

 

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (Sunday Night Football)

While all of us focused on the loss of RB Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys missed T Tyron Smith and LB Sean Lee even more against the Falcons last week. It’s too much of an ask for them to beat a scary good Eagles team coming off their bye week.

Winner: Eagles

 

Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks (Monday Night Football)

The Falcons toyed with the Cowboys last week, proving they’re the most inconsistent team in the NFL on a weekly basis. They should be able to move the ball on a Richard Sherman-less Seattle secondary, but given their aforementioned title, Seattle could sneak away with an important home game to keep pace with the NFC West leading Rams.

Winner: Seahawks

 

Bro-Reviews: Justice League

Injustice for all.

The DC Extended Universe, or DCEU, has never quite found its footing. Man of Steel experienced mixed results at best, Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice was an unmitigated disaster, and Suicide Squad was a dumpster fire. The only one of the DCEU’s films to be legitimately good is Wonder Woman, which is universally regarded as one of the top films in the comic book movie genre and a potential awards contender. Many had hopes with the success of Wonder Woman, the DCEU could be salvaged with the arrival of Justice League, which promised to be the epic universe building film DC fans were waiting for. The only question remains, does Justice League deliver justice for the wrongs of its previous failures?

Justice League sees Bruce Wayne/ Batman (Ben Affleck) discovering an other worldly enemy arriving after the demise of Superman (Henry Cavill). This other worldly presence reveals itself to be Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds), who along with his Parademons seeks the three Mother Boxes in order to unleash an even more powerful cosmic figure to destroy the world and rule it. To stop Steppenwolf, Bruce calls upon the help of Diana Prince/ Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Barry Allen/ The Flash (Ezra Miller), Victor Stone/ Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and Arthur Curry/ Aquaman (Jason Momoa), to help defeat Steppenwolf and deliver justice to the world.

It’s hard not to hold the wrongs of previous DCEU entries against Justice League, but Justice League doesn’t do itself any favors by having many of the same flaws that plagued the universe’s previous films. Most of those flaws point to the director and architect of what now most be classified a failed universe, Zack Synder. The man continues to use slow motion ad nauseam, even for insignificant happenings such as an angry man knocking over fruit baskets outside of a corner liquor store. Synder does have an eye for visual effects and action sequences, but most of those end up looking cheap despite its big budget and hard to follow due to the studio going into full blown panic mode after the film that was supposed to kick everything off wet the bed.

Other trademark Synderism include setting up scenes with no background at all, using exposition to explain away whatever confusion you may have had with those scenes that weren’t set up properly, and a total lack of characterization for most, if not all the characters involved. Why does Steppenwolf want to take over the world? Why does Synder insist on Amy Adam’s Lois Lane being the emotional crux of this universe just to give her something to do even though she’s terrible? Why did Joss Whedon of Marvel fame decide to get involved in this mess and change the already awfully dark color pallet to an even more off-putting colorful one?

We learn next to nothing regarding the new characters introduced to the universe, particularly Ezra Miller’s Flash and Jason Momoa’s Aquaman. Miller’s Flash is an encapsulation of millennial stereotypes, and is unfunny and annoying throughout. Despite his impressive physique and stature, Jason Momoa lacks any sort of screen presence, and Aquaman’s rebellious surfer-dude demeanor feels out of place entirely. Henry Cavill somewhat suffers the same fate as Momoa’s Aquaman, and it’s clear Synder and the filmmakers don’t have a clear understanding of the Superman mythos. Even Ben Affleck, whose older and battle-worn Batman/ Bruce Wayne is a welcome change for the character, seems disinterested, and turning him and Jeremy Iron’s Alfred into wise crackers feels out of sync.

It’s only Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and Ray Fisher’s Cyborg who get anything out of what clearly was a heavily re-edited script to fit everything into one film instead of making a two part film and to ensure a run time of under two hours. Gadot’s Wonder Woman continues to be the only beacon of hope in an otherwise lost universe, but even she can’t save the movie. Ray Fisher definitely commands the screen whenever he’s on and his brooding makes for an interesting backstory, but it’s all cut short instead of being explored further so we can get back to a hacked to the bone film that lacks any sort of substance.

There are moments where Justice League does deliver, particularly when you can actually see the action clearly. The final sequences continues the DC tradition of CGI infested climaxes, but I’d be lying if I said my inner 10 year-old didn’t admire all of the classic DC heroes posing in their action shots while doing battle with the insignificant flies that were the Perademons. But for a film that was so supposed to be an epic team-up and a response to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Justice League felt like a throwaway obligation instead of an epic, universe building answer to The Avengers. If anything, the film is a processed version of that superior film, and tries to mimic Marvel to the point that it’s during and after the credits scenes feel like cheap imitators threatening us with more bad movies rather than significant, anticipated reveals.

Justice League is yet another chore in the DC Extended Universe that seems to be our punishment for enjoying the gluttony of great comic book movies Marvel has released for nearly the last decade or so. It’s a soulless bore that could’ve been something great had it not been altered due to its predecessor’s failures and to resemble an already far better product. In the end, Justice League not only fails to do its source material and universe justice, it should be categorized as something no fan would want its beloved source material to be: an injustice.

Rating: 2/4 Stars. Rent it.

Justice League stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, J.K. Simmons, Amber Heard, Billy Crudup, and Ciarán Hinds. It is in theaters November 17th.

Bro-Reviews: Murder on the Orient Express

Well-groomed but not the smoothest ride.

As I’ve stated before, adapting treasured literature into a film is always a tall order. The studio and filmmakers want to make a movie that will not only satisfy fans of the work, but will also appeal to mainstream audiences. This seems nearly impossible for the works of Agatha Christie, as Christie purists are notoriously snobbish in regards to adapting her work. If there were ever a person who could do it, however, it would be celebrated actor and director Sir Kenneth Branagh. Surely a knighted man could faithfully adapt one of Christie’s most famous novels and remake the classic 1974 critically acclaimed film, Murder on the Orient Express, right?

Murder on the Orient Express sees famed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) traveling from Israel after for his upcoming holiday after expertly solving another case. He does so aboard the Orient Express, a luxurious but overcrowded train holding a wide array of passengers. One night after the train is derailed due to a snow storm, a passenger is discovered dead. Believed to be murdered, Poirot takes the case to solve the murder on the Orient Express.

The first quality of the film that must be noted is its grand settings and slick look. Shots of the city of Israel, the main train station, the snowy mountains, and the sets of the train cabins are nothing short of award worthy. They transport you to the film’s setting in the 1930s, and Branagh’s excellent staging makes you too feel as if you are a passenger aboard this claustrophobic train. There’s not doubt the film is beautiful to look at, and is the epitome of stylish to say the very least.

The all star ensemble cast delivers when necessary, but it’s Daisy Ridley and Michelle Pfeiffer as Mary Debenham and Caroline Hubbard respectively who make the most of their limited screen time. Ridley proves there’s a future for her beyond Star Wars, and Pfeiffer continues her career renaissance with her performance. Though the film’s advertising highlights Johnny Depp as one of the main characters in the film, he’s hardly in it. But he too shines as the gangster Samuel Ratchett in the film, showing that somewhere buried deep within him there is still a man who can deliver an excellent performance.

Of course, the main star of the film other than his trademark mustache is Branagh as Poirot. Branagh is one of our finest actors living today, and does a splendid job as the famed detective. He is able to deliver scenes of intensity and scenes highlighting Poirot’s unique intricacies with ease, showcasing both his dramatic and comedic range. Branagh is also able to put the audience in Poirort’s shoes as he tries to uncover the mystery, and you too have as difficult a time piecing all of the evidence together, which also shows Poirot as vulnerable for the first time in his life despite his reputation.

While I stated earlier that the ensemble cast does their job, some members of the cast do feel underused. Penélope Cruz seems to fall victim the most to this as a missionary aboard the train, and feels as if she was cast to sell the movie despite not putting her academy award winning talent to much use. Dame Judi Dench also feels under utilized in the film, as her role as a snobbish Princess doesn’t quite resonate the way Judi Dench should resonate as we have grown accustomed to.

Having never read the book nor seen the 1974 Sidney Lumet directed version, I cannot necessarily say Agatha Christie fans will be pleased with every aspect of the film, but that is to be expected whenever adapting famed literature into a mainstream film. However, I would love to ask readers of the novel and Christie purists if the twists and reveal of who committed the crime pay off better in the book, as those reveals don’t payoff as much as they should upon being revealed. I felt I should’ve been shocked or at the very least felt a gut punch in the film’s climatic discoveries, but that unfortunately did not happen.

Overall, Murder on the Orient Express is a solid re-make and adaptation. It’s a glossy, well-groomed whodunit that doesn’t have the climax one anticipates after watching the film. Murder on the Orient Express may not be the smoothest ride, but its solid ensemble cast, terrific lead performance, and elaborate visuals and sets more than make up for its underwhelming final outcome.

Rating: 2.5/4 Stars. Pay Matinée Price.

Murder on the Orient Express stars Kenneth Branagh, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, and Daisy Ridley. It is in theaters November 10th.

 

 

Bro-Picks: NFL Week 10 Predictions

This is where the men separate themselves from the boys.

Week 10 of the NFL is coming at us fast, and at this point in the season, most teams know what direction they are heading in. That means there are opportunities for teams to separate themselves from others as true contenders, but there’s also just enough time left for teams who got off to slow starts to recover and make a push for the playoffs.

Last Week: 9-4

Overall: 77-55

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals (Thursday Night Football)

The Seahawks defense embarrassed themselves last week allowing the Redskins to drive all the way down the field for the game winning touchdown with under two minutes remaining in the game. They’ll have a bounce back performance against the Drew Stanton led Cardinals.

Winner: Seahawks

Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans

The Titans were a popular pick to win the AFC South this year, but they haven’t lived up to expectations as a team taking the next step towards contention. Meanwhile, the Bengals are too busy having MMA matches involving star WR A.J. Green to focus on winning.

Winner: Titans

 

Cleveland Browns at Detroit Lions

Even with the 6-2 Vikings in their division, this is the perfect season for QB Matt Stafford to lead the Lions to an NFC North title considering Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is sidelined with a collar bone injury. They have to take care of business against the Browns, who recently reinstated former All-Pro WR Josh Gordon, who apparently was intoxicated in one form or another every game of his NFL career. That’s what playing for the Browns will do to someone.

Winner: Lions

 

Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars won without stud rookie RB Leonard Fournette last week, who was suspended by the team for missing the Jaguar’s team photo. That didn’t matter much, as the Jaguars defense held the Bengals to 7 points. While the Chargers have somewhat rebounded from their 0-4 start, it’s a tall order for them to travel across the country and beat a team that boasts one of the best defenses in the league.

Winner: Jaguars

 

New York Jets at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston won’t be tasting any “W’s” any time soon, as he’s out for a couple of weeks with a sprained shoulder. The Buccaneers will start Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB, who will want to enact revenge against his former team. This is the type of game the Jets need to win if they want to continue to avoid tanking,

Winner: Jets

 

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is going to be desposed in former NFL QB Colin Kaepernick’s case in which he is accusing the league of collusion. Kaepernick may not have documentation of this, but anyone looking at how terrible the Packers are starting QB Brett Hundley in place of the injured Aaron Rodgers has to start to wonder if Kaepernick’s kneeling during the National Anthem last year is the reason as to why he remains unsigned.

Winner: Bears

 

New Orleans Saints at Buffalo Bills

The Bills had a chance last week to show they’re for real, and then they laid an egg on Thursday Night Football against the Jets. The Bills have had a record of .500 or better after playing eight games eight times since 1999. They failed to reach the playoffs each of those times. That trend seems like it could continue with a rough second half schedule, starting with a revived Saints team this week.

Winner: Saints

 

Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts

In immortal words of Nelly and Tim McGraw, “cause it’s all in my head.” That lyric best describes Colts QB Andrew Luck if you’re listening to Colts owner Jim Irsay and former Colts coach Tony Dungy. Do you think Luck wants to play for Irsay?

Winner: Steelers

 

Minnesota Vikings at Washington Redskins

The Redskins pulled off an impressive victory over the Seahawks in Seattle last week, and they could still make some noise in the NFC East. The Vikings will have a decision to make between QBs Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater, and Sam Bradford in regards to who their starter will be, but with a defense that allows 282 yards per game, it might not matter much.

Winner: Vikings

 

Houston Texans at Los Angeles Rams

Say it loud: THE RAMS ARE FOR REAL. They’ve scored 30 or more points 5 times this year, and they’re 5-0 in those games. It’s a shame Texans rookie sensation QB Deshaun Watson is out for the season with a torn ACL, as this could’ve been a match-up featuring two young and now promising QBs in him and Jared Goff.

Winner: Rams

 

Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday denied Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott’s appeal, meaning he will be suspended for at least this game against the Falcons. The Cowboys have a ferocious defensive line that will cause problems for the sputtering Falcons offense, and Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is more than capable without his troubled star RB.

Winner: Cowboys

 

New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers

The Giants are awful, and coach Ben McAdoo has supposedly lost the locker room with his constant player fines, throwing players under the bus, and tough practices. This is one of the few games remaining on the 49ers schedule they could win, but the 49ers are 0-9 for a reason, and 0-16 remains a real possibility.

Winner: Giants

 

New England Patriots at Denver Broncos (Sunday Night Football)

Including the postseason, Patriots QB Tom Brady is 7-9 in his career against the Broncos. Fortunately for him, the Broncos offense can’t function to save their lives this season. They will trot out QB Brock Osweiler for the second straight week, and if you take Broncos head coach Vance Joseph’s word for it, Osweiler gives the Broncos confidence. Did he watch the beating his team took in Philadelphia last week?

Winner: Patriots

 

Miami Dolphins at Carolina Panthers (Monday Night Football)

People keep doubting the Panthers this season for some odd reason. It could be because Panthers QB Cam Newton compared his team to the Titanic when asked about the team trading away WR Kelvin Benjamin. If he wanted to use the Titanic metaphor correctly, he would’ve used it to describe the Dolphins’ playoff chances, as it’s a miracle this team is 4-4 despite being one of the worst ranked offenses in the league. QB Jay Cutler probably should’ve stayed retired.

Winner: Panthers

 

Bro-Picks: NFL Week 9 Predictions

The second half has begun.

We have now entered the second half of the NFL season with the arrival of Week 9, and it’s safe to say teams and their fans are starting to realize their team is either a Super Bowl contender or a pretender. Teams that have realized they have a legitimate shot at winning it all made trades at the NFL’s trade deadline that made the NBA’s trade deadline look boring by comparison. The pretenders stood pat at the trade deadline, while even some of the worst teams in the NFL made moves to at least get their off-seasons started early. Will these moves pay off this season or in the future, or will the bust and prevent a team from winning the Super Bowl or slow down rebuilding efforts?

Last Week:  10-3

Overall: 68-51

 

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets (Thursday Night Football)

The Bills acquired Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin at the trade deadline, a move shows the Bills believe they are contenders and one that will help their 30th ranked passing offense in the NFL. The Jets traded for 49ers CB Rashard Robinson, otherwise known as the human embodiment of pass interference. Maybe they’ll finally start tanking like we thought they would.

Winner: Bills

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints

Neither of these teams made notable moves at the trade deadline, and both teams are heading in directions opposite their expectations coming into the season. The Saints have experienced a revival after an 0-2 start, and the Buccaneers haven’t taken the next step towards contention like many believed they would.

Winner: Saints

 

Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers

In a move that surprised many, the Panthers traded away their number one WR, Kelvin Benjamin, to the Bills. Panthers QB Cam Newton won an MVP award without him in 2015 when Benjamin was out for the season, so Newton is used to life without Benjamin. The Falcons were a punt return touchdown away from losing to the Jets, and QB Matt Ryan has yet to regain his MVP form from last season.

Winner: Panthers

 

Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants

Maybe it’s time to admit the Rams are for real, as head coach Sean McVay has turned QB Jared Goff from an all-time bust into a capable starting QB. The Giants seem to enjoy suspending their once vaunted secondary, as CB Janoris Jenkins has been suspended indefinitely for failing to report to the team after their bye week. Coach Ben McAdoo may have lost the locker room in a season that somehow had Super Bowl expectations.

Winner: Rams

 

Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans

Just when you think the Ravens are yesterday’s news, they find a way to creep back into the playiff picture. In their dominant 40-0 win over the Dolphins, QB Joe Flacco experienced one of the most vicious hits you ever see, yet somehow he is starting this week. The Titans remain in the playoff picture as well, yet for a team that was expected to win the lowly AFC South, it was a curious decision as to why they stood pat at the trade deadline and were thinking about trading RB DeMarco Murray to the Cowboys.

Winner: Titans

 

Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars

The Bengals nearly traded away back-up QB A. McCarron to the Browns at the trade deadline. Luckily that trade fell through due to the Browns failing to notify the league office before the trade deadline, thus further showcasing the Browns’ utter incompetence. McCarron could be inserted into this game should the Jaguars live up to their Sacksonville name and terrorize starting QB Andy Dalton. And just as a reminder, the Jaguars are winning with Blake Bortles as their starting QB. It helps when you have a stud rookie RB in Leonard Fournette lining up behind him.

Winner: Jaguars

 

Denver Broncos at Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles added to their already potent rushing attack (*4th in the NFL with 129.3 yards per game*) by trading for Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi at the trade deadline. The Broncos have benched QB Trevor Siemian  for QB Brock Osweiler, who couldn’t even make the Browns 53 man roster.

Winner: Eagles

 

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans

The Texans traded away LT Duane Brown after he denounced Texans’ owner Bob McNair’s “inmates running the prison” comments. That won’t matter much, as Texans rookie QB Deshaun Watson is the clear favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year after throwing 19 TDs through his first 7 games, surpassing the mark set by Hall of Fame QB Kurt Warner back in 1999. The Colts have a stud QB as well in Andrew Luck, but he’s not on the field, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be returning any time soon.

Winner: Texans

*UPDATE 11/3/17*

Texans Rookie QB Deshaun Watson tore his ACL in practice, surely ending the Texans’ playoff hopes. They’ll still get the win against a bad Colts team, who placed QB Andrew Luck on IR, but this is a devastating blow to a team primed for a run at the playoffs.

 

Washington Redskins at Seattle Seahawks

Redskins QB Kirk Cousins got burned at the trade deadline, as it does not appear like he’ll be heading to the 49ers after they acquired Patriots back-up QB Jimmy Garoppolo. The Seahawks meanwhile look like Super Bowl contenders, with a top 10 ranking offense led by QB Russell Wilson and a defense that still has the legion of boom.

Winner: Seahawks

 

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers

The Cardinals are going nowhere, especially with back-up QB Drew Stanton having to start for an injured Carson Palmer. The 49ers indicated they are clearly building towards the future by trading a second round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft for Patriots back-up QB Jimmy Garoppolo. He may not be playing this week, but it’s the type of move that at least gives 49ers fans hope for the future.

Winner: Cardinals

 

Kansas City Chiefs at Dallas Cowboys

The ongoing suspension saga featuring Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott has seemingly no end in sight. Had he just sat out the first six games of the season, he’d be back by now and the Cowboys would’ve gone 4-3 without him, i.e. their record right now with him through seven games. Now they’ll be without him against a Chiefs team that wants to prove they are the team to beat in the AFC.

Winner: Chiefs

*UPDATE 11/3/17* 

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott will play Sunday against the Chiefs after being granted a request for an administrative stay by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This on-going saga has no end in sight, and while Elliott will definitely be a help for the Cowboys Sunday, he won’t be enough for the Cowboys to beat the Chiefs.

 

Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins (Sunday Night Football)

The hope that the Raiders finally turned their season around last about 9 days, as they were physically dominated by the Bills last week. They stood pat at the trade deadline despite the fact that they need secondary help. The Miami Dolphins seem to be in disarray after trading away their best offensive player in RB Jay Ajayi, and head coach Adam Gase seems to be pointing fingers at everyone but himself for the Dolphins inept offense.

Winner: Raiders

 

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (Monday Night Football)

The Lions have faltered after looking like one of the best teams in the NFL early on in the season, and made no moves at the trade deadline to help improve their roster. The Packers are a one man roster: QB Aaron Rodgers. They’ll be lucky to make it to 6 wins this season without him.

Winner: Lions

Bro-Reviews: Thor: Ragnarok

Ragnarok Rocks.

Ever since the release of 2008’s Iron Man from Marvel Studios, the Marvel movie making machine has not slowed down. The output of Marvel movies increased further when Marvel Studios was purchased by Walt Disney, as there have been at least 2 Marvel Cinematic Universe films released every year with the exceptions of 2010 and 2012. While most if not all of those films have been successful, the mighty Thor has somewhat struggled with critical acclaim. 2011’s Thor received mixed to positive reactions, and it’s sequel, Thor: The Dark World, is often regarded as one of the weakest entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the arrival of Thor: Ragnarok finally here, can the God of Thunder finally lay claim to his own great solo outing?

Thor: Ragnarok sees Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleson), discovering a secret buried deep within their family history involving Hela (Cate Blanchett), the goddess of death. Hela disposed of them quickly, and Thor finds himself on the planet Sakaar. There, he must recruit his former Avengers teammate and now celebrated gladiator, the Incredible Hulk/ Bruce Banner (voiced by Lou Ferrigno, portrayed by Mark Ruffalo), and a former Asgardian warrior, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), to battle Hela before she takes over Asgard and the cosmos.

While Thor is indeed an Avenger, he’s always felt like one of the B-level members of the team, and his solo outings don’t quite compare favorably to his teammates, Captain America chief among them. Thor: Ragnarok, however, finally delivers everything we’ve ever wanted in a Thor movie. Thor: Ragnarok is the most colorful, and quite possibly the funniest, Marvel Cinematic Universe film to date.

Chris Hemsworth may be exploited mainly for his chiseled abs and chest, but he’s always done an excellent job as the God of Thunder. He oozes charisma and has excellent comedic timing this time around, making his third outing as Thor his finest yet. Tom Hiddleson is as sleazy as ever as the God of Mischief Loki, making him an excellent counter to Hemsworth’s Thor. The combination of Lou Ferrigno and Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk brings the most laughs we’ve ever seen from the character, and it’s good to finally see Marvel take a more light-hearted approach while still delivering enough emotional baggage with the big guy.

Cate Blanchett may seem like she’s above material such as this, but she brings her Oscar caliber chops to the table as Hela. Sure, she suffers from the same issue seemingly all Marvel villains have, i.e. “I want to be the ruler of them all” syndrome, but she’s one of the more memorable villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Tessa Thompson also gives a knockout performance as Valkyrie, proving she’s an actress to be reckoned with. While Jeff Goldblum is essentially playing the new internet parody version of himself as the Grandmaster of Sakaar, he’s equally funny as he is odd. Other supporting cast members including Idris Elba returning as Heimdall and Anthony Hopkins reappearing as Odin do their jobs as well, and even the Thing knockoff Korg played by director Taika Waititi is a comic delight. Even Karl Urban is able to add to the film in his small role as Skurge, proving that director Taika Waititi can get the most out of what is a stellar ensemble cast.

The real star of Thor Ragnarok, however, are the special effects and environments. Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s creation come to life in Thor: Ragnarok, as one of the most vibrant and lively comic book settings are fully realized like never before. Asgard is as breathtaking as ever, and remains of the key staples to Marvel’s other worldly universe. The latest addition that takes the cake in terms of new environments is the planet Sakaar. Sure, on the surface it looks like a glorified landfill in space, but within the city and the palace of the Grandmaster is a colorful setting that transports you to another universe that is nothing short of breathtaking.

The action sequences also deliver in a big way. The battle between Thor and Hulk on Sakaar is one of the best fights Marvel has ever choreographed, and the final battle on Asgard is as compelling of a climatic battle as you’ll see on film. Director Taika Waititi delivers the most vivid and lively Marvel film yet, and that’s no easy feat considering it’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s clear he and Marvel decided to go all in on the visuals and effects for Thor’s third outing, a welcome move considering Thor is Marvel’s most creative and vivacious comic book. One must take full advantage by viewing the film in IMAX 3D to get the full scope of the landscape.

Thor: Ragnarok is gem. It’s got great performances, tremendous action, and vibrant visuals. Just when you think comic book movie fatigue may be setting in for moviegoers, Marvel delivers another must-see comic book movie. Thor: Ragnarok should rank towards the top of Marvel’s best films, as it is the perfect Marvel movie, and it may one day be widely considered one of the best comic book movies of all time. Make no mistake about it, Thor: Ragnarok rocks.

Rating: 4/4 Stars. Pay Full Price.

Thor: Ragnarok stars Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleson, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, and Anthony Hopkins. It is in theaters November 3rd.