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Super Bowl 50: a tale of two quarterbacks

Well, football fans, the matchup for this year’s landmark 50th Super Bowl is set–and it’s a classic matchup of youth versus experience. The Carolina Panthers have five players on the roster who have previously played on Super Sunday; the Denver Broncos have a whopping 16. And then there’s the most obvious experience differential: the one between the two opposing quarterbacks, Peyton Manning and Cam Newton. It’s the first time ever, if you can believe it, that a Super Bowl will have two number one draft picks facing each other; but Manning and Newton were drafted in decidedly different eras and have made their marks in different ways.

Cam Newton is looking to make history in Super Bowl 50.

Manning reinvented the pocket passer, bringing in an audible-driven style that made him essentially an on-field offensive coordinator. He heralded a new age, in which pre-snap reads would come to be an essential part of the position. He’s quite possibly about to go under center for the last time in the NFL, and he’s obliterated records while establishing himself as arguably the best quarterback of all time. He’s almost certainly the best regular season quarterback of all time, and another Super Bowl could send him off to the Hall of Fame as possibly the best of all time, period. He’s already the first quarterback to take multiple teams–the Broncos and the Indianapolis Colts–to the Super Bowl multiple times. He’s also tied with Brett Favre for the all-time lead in victories, with 199, and a win next sunday would be number 200. There’s also a middling chance that, win or lose, this is his “last rodeo,” as he suggested was a possibility in a brief postgame chat last week with Bill Belichick.

Newton, along with Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson, headlines a new wave of dual-threat quarterbacks who are both legitimate pocket-passers and game-changing run threats. Until this season, Luck and especially Wilson were considered the cream of this new crop of signal-callers; but this year, Cam has taken the football world by storm. Though he set the NFL record for rookie passing yards, there were many lingering questions about his overall game–until this season. This season, Cam ran threw for 3,837 yards and 35 touchdowns with only 10 interceptions; he also ran for 636 yards and a whopping 10 touchdowns. He’s on everyone’s short list for MVP, and he’s consistently shown his growth as a pocket passer–as evidenced by his spectacular hot-read touchdown during last weekend’s beatdown of the formidable Arizona Cardinals. If Cam wins Super Bowl 50, he’ll be the third quarterback (along with Joe Montana and Joe Namath) to win the NCAA National Championship and the Super Bowl as a starter. He’ll also be the first ever to win the National Championship, the Super Bowl and the Heisman Trophy.

Peyton Manning is looking to add to his legacy.

There are other storylines in the big game, for sure, but the primary one will be the tale of two quarterbacks. The Panthers and Broncos have two of the toughest defenses in all of football this year, with line-crumbling pass rushes and elite crews of linebackers; both quarterbacks will have their work cut out for them. Will Peyton ride off into a Hall of Fame-bound sunset with a Super Bowl win and victory number 200? Or will Cam become the first to win the Triple Crown of quarterbacking, and answer his critics once and for all? Hit us up @Brackethead on Twitter and tell us what you think. You can also sound off on our Facebook page, make predictions and show the world how you’re planning to celebrate Super Sunday. Oh yeah–if you want to win prizes while you root for your team, head to gofancheer.com and download the FanCheer app so you can Play, Shout and Win!

May the brackets always bust in your favor!

The folks at FanCheer

Brady vs. Osweiler, vol. 1?

Ladies and and gentlemen, the NFL might have a new budding rivalry on its hands. On a cold, snowy Sunday night in Denver, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots‘ depleted receiving corps took on Brock Osweiler and the Denver Broncos. The Pats were looking to keep pace with the undefeated Carolina Panthers, and the Broncos were looking to stay on course atop the AFC East despite having lost legendary QB Peyton Manning.

Brock Osweiler looked clutch in his first start.

At first it looked like the Patriots would have an easy night, as they took a 14-0 lead on touchdowns to Rob Gronkowski and underrated tight end Scott Chandler. But the Broncos got the running game going, and things changed from there. No points were scored in the third, and the game remained 14-7 going into the last period of regulation. Then both offenses went to work! Brandon Bolden caught a touchdown to jump it off in the fourth, expanding the lead to 21-7 and seemingly putting the Pats in the driver’s seat. But Osweiler brought his team down the field, and CJ Anderson ran one in with lots of time on the clock. Osweiler continued to show poise, leading his team on yet another clutch drive that ended in a Brandon McManus field goal with six minutes to go.

With 2:49 to go, the injury bug bit the Pats once again. On a midrange incompletion, Gronkowski’s knee was struck at a bad angle by a diving defender. He fell to the ground, writhing in pain, and needed to be held down by staff as the trainers examined him. He left the field and was done for the game, and the look on Brady’s face said it all: the Patriots were in trouble. Still, Osweiler was down four points and had to get the ball back and lead one more drive. And that’s exactly what happened! The Pats were forced to punt, and Osweiler led a last-minute march all the way to the red zone. It almost looked like they might not punch it in, but Demaryius Thomas had his shoulder pads grabbed in the end zone and the Broncos had first and goal. Then, on a play that Osweiler reportedly changed at the line, Andre Caldwell caught a beautifully thrown pass in the back corner of the end zone with 1:15 left! 24-21 Broncos…but alas, too much time for Brady. Depleted resources and all, the Patriots’ clutch QB led a drive into Stephen Gostkowski‘s range, and a 47-yarder sent the game to overtime!

The Patriots got the ball first in OT, but Denver’s D held strong. The Broncos it and moved it close to field goal range. On 3rd and 1, CJ Anderson ran to the left side on what looked like a simple play. Then he caught a block and shot a gap, and 48 yards later the fans in Denver were celebrating a huge win! The race for home field advantage is tight once again, as the Pats fell to 10-1 and the Broncos went to 9-2.

What did you think of the Broncos’ new young quarterback? How will the Patriots bounce back from their latest injury? Hit us up @Brackethead on Twitter and tell us what you think. If you really want to show your stuff and win stuff while you support your team, head to www.gofancheer.com and download the app to Play, Shout and Win!

May the brackets always bust in your favor,

Brackethead & the folks at FanCheer

Duel in the Dome!

The week began with yet another big game from Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, who cooled off the Miami Dolphins with a 36-7 blowout. Brady threw for 356 and four scores, while the Pats’ underrated defense had the fins off balance all night. The Pats are now one of an NFL record four 7-0 teams, and talk of another 16-0 season in Foxboro is starting to gain real traction.

Drew Brees threw for a whopping seven TDs on Sunday!

The Seattle Seahawks beat the Cowboys in a bit of a snoozer in Dallas, winning 13-12 and keeping the cowboys out of the end zone. Things just keep getting tougher for the once promising New York Jets, as they lost QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to injury and got smoked 34-20 by the Raiders. Geno Smith took over for Gang Green, and he wasn’t particularly impressive in his first chance to win back the starting job. The Jets are reportedly already shopping around for another option under center.

The Cincinnati Bengals stayed undefeated with a road win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, while in maybe the week’s biggest surprise, the Denver Broncos went to 7-0 by pounding Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the Sunday night game. The final score of 29-10 was fairly representative, as the Packers’ offense couldn’t get going and the Broncos were in control on both sides of the ball. Rookie running back Todd Gurley went bonkers again for the St. Louis Rams, running for 133 yards and a touchdown at the Rams blew out the 49ers. The blowout helped seal the fate of beleaguered Niners QB Colin Kaepernick, as it was announced soon thereafter that he’d be benched for the long-forgotten Blaine Gabbert!

Unfortunately, the injury bug continues to run rampant this NFL season, and it continues to go after big names. Veteran receiver Steve Smith‘s year was cut short by a torn achilles, and running back Le’Veon Bell was felled by a torn knee ligament. Both are done for the season, removing the Panthers and Steelers of key offensive players.

Back to the good stuff: the real doosy of the weekend, ladies and gentlemen, took place under the dome in New Orleans. The Saints and New York Giants played a game that looked more like flag football or a 7 on 7 skill team drill, as Drew Brees and Eli Manning combined for a ridiculous 13 touchdown passes. Manning went 30 of 41 for 350 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions…and he was out-dueled. Brees went 39 of 50 for 505 yards; he had two interceptions, including a pick-six, but he also had seven touchdown passes, including the game-tying score with only 41 seconds to go. Believe it or not, though, this game was decided by a field goal! A facemask penalty by the Giants’ punter gave the Saints good field position, and Kai Forbath hit one from 50 yards as time expired. This was a game that will be talked about for years.

But there’s another week of NFL action just around the corner, football fans! Which of the four undefeateds will be the next to drop? Hit us up @Brackethead on Twitter and tell us what you think. If you really want to show your stuff and win stuff while you support your team, head to www.gofancheer.com and download the app to Play, Shout and Win!

May the brackets always bust in your favor,

Brackethead & the folks at FanCheer

Gronk doin’ Gronk things

Football fans, the day you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived: the NFL season has begun! It kicked off with the nationally televised Thursday Night Football broadcast, in which defending champions New England Patriots hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers. The night kicked off with a big celebration, with CEO Robert Kraft taking the field and the Pats’ faithful sporting an air of defiance after the latest Deflategate developments. At one point they even chanted “where is Roger?” in reference to widely criticized NFL commissioner Roger Goodell!

When the game kicked off, Tom Brady and the Patriots looked in mid-season form. They marched it up and down the field smoothly, and Brady’s timing with slasher Julian Edelman already looked crisp.

And then there was Gronk.

Rob Gronkowski, one of the most indefensible tight ends in history, had himself a day. His first of two touchdowns was classic Gronk, as he caught a ball near the sideline and broke a few tackles before rumbling to the end zone. His second was a simple route toward the back of the end zone, finishing with a perfect drop-in throw by Brady. Gronk’s third score was another red zone special, completing the hat trick and giving Brady his fourth TD pass of the game. When it all was said and done, Gronk had 94 yards on only five receptions, for three touchdowns and three HUGE spikes in the end zone. Edelman finished with 97 yards on eleven catches, and Brady went 25-32 for 288 yards and four touchdowns. Bill Belichick‘s crew handled their opponents from wire to wire, despite some solid looking numbers from the Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger threw for 351 yards, Antonio Brown had nine catches for 133 yards and a score, and DeAngelo Williams silenced his doubters with 127 rushing yards.

Is Gronk the most unstobbable red zone force in the NFL?

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Patriots game without controversy. In yet another example of New England opponents facing unexpected hazards, the Steelers’ headsets reportedly malfunctioned for most of the first half. And guess what they were listening to: the Patriots’ radio broadcast. The Pittsburgh coaching staff was, as you would expect, none too pleased. And as teams and players around the league nodded sympathetically, Steelers fans were left to speculate whether this was yet another instance of the Patriots bending the rules. The NFL released a statement to the effect that the matter was under full investigation, and Pats Nation celebrated a 1-0 start.

Where do you stand on the “dirty tricks” allegations against Belichick & crew? Do you think they stand a chance of making another title run? Is Gronk the most unstoppable red zone force in the NFL? As always, Hit us up @Brackethead on Twitter and tell us what you think. If you really want to show your stuff and win stuff while you support your team, head to www.gofancheer.com and download the app to Play, Shout and Win!

May the brackets always bust in your favor,

Brackethead & the folks at FanCheer

#GoFancheer

Football is coming!

It still feels like the dog days of summer, sports fans, but football season is already upon us! Quarterback controversies are brewing, roster spots are being fought for (literally in some places), and speculation about the 2015 NFL season has already begun.

Deflate & Brady’s fate are the leading story this offseason.

In the Philadelphia Eagles‘ training camp, they just can’t seem to shake controversy. More former players are questioning how coach Chip Kelly manages his personnel, and nobody has any idea how his mad-scientist college program will translate into the NFL. People are still calling the Eagles Oregon-lite, and with the NFC East in flux, the door is open for Chip’s Eagles to make a charge. The problem is the quarterback situation: The Eagles are discussing extending the contract of QB Sam Bradford, and it remains to be seen if he’s a bona-fide NFL signal caller. The other two QBs on the roster are Tim Tebow and the up & down Mark Sanchez. Another thing that might give Eagles fans pause: the past six running backs to carried the ball 390 times in a season failed to rush for 1000 yards the next year. Is DeMarco Murray due for a down year?

In Dallas, they’re scuffling among themselves on the field. This kind of thing happens from time to time, but here’s what’s different: ownership isn’t just tacitly endorsing it, they’re openly promoting it! Cowboys owner and mega-mogul Jerry Jones expressed pleasure at seeing wideout Dez Bryant mix it up with a teammate mid-play. Dez threw a pretty serious looking haymaker, but things never got too ugly. Trying to get out in front of the story (we guess?), the Cowboys posted the scuffle on their own official social media!

Elsewhere around the league, Cleveland Browns ownership says they ‘haven’t given up’ on QB Johnny Manziel despite the fact that he struggled early in camp and some observers thought he looked ill-prepared. For the Tennessee Titans, rookie QB Marcus Mariota reportedly looks ‘sharp’ so far. This seems in line with projections that he’s already ready for the pros.

Out west, the Seattle Seahawks dealt with their own personnel issues, as they haggled for a while with Super Bowl-winning QB Russell Wilson and safety Kam Chancellor continues to hold out.

And the biggest story of the offseason continues to be the Deflategate saga in New England. Quarterback Tom Brady‘s four-game suspension has been upheld–for now–and speculation abounds regarding balance of power, the appeal process, and what the Patriots will do if they lose their leader for a quarter of a season.

What do you think the biggest story of training camp is so far? Will Brady win his appeal, and if not, are the Patriots up a creek? Who will be this year’s biggest breakouts and busts? Hit us up @Brackethead on Twitter and tell us what you think. You can also us #FanCrazy photos and make bold predictions on our Facebook wall. If you really want to show your stuff and win stuff while you support your team, head to www.gofancheer.com and download the app!

May the brackets always bust in your favor,

Brackethead & the folks at FanCheer

#GoFancheer