by Preston Tolliver
Gone are the boring days where you could buy a basketball game and focus on silly things like controlling a player whose primary focus is to play basketball, because “NBA 2K17” has realized that there are more important things than that. Finally, it’s come around to what I’ve believed for a long time – that the one thing basketball needs to make it entertaining is some daytime soap opera-level of drama.
In the game’s MyCareer mode, you’re a high school and college standout, nicknamed “Pres,” which is short for “President,” but could also be considered short for “Preston,” which, if you’ll look above here, you’ll see is my name and so that’s pretty dope. You declare for college – you can choose one of eight schools, and so I decided to take my talents to Michigan State, where I quickly cemented my place as the school’s best player to ever don a Spartan jersey (Suck it, Magic).
From there, you’re thrown into the draft, but don’t worry – you’ll still have plenty of time for things not revolving around basketball. For example, you have ample opportunity to set the controller down and watch the long, several minutes-long, one-after-another cutscenes of you and your college roommate playing video games (it’s almost surreal playing a video game in which you get to watch your player play a video game), or of you and your girlfriend sitting outside in the dark, talking about things that people in relationships usually talk about, or answering a million text messages after each practice, a task that feels almost like work, which is awesome because there’s nothing I like to do more while I’m at home than to field almost as many complaints from people as I do at the office. The game actually gives you the opportunity to ignore those messages, but half of them are from your mom telling you she loves you, so you really get to develop your player, right down to just how big of an asshole you are.
Now, because the game takes realism to a new level, prompting you to endure through practice after practice with Michael B. Jordan, there’s a lot I haven’t been able to check out on the game just yet. After all, the life of a basketball star is a pretty busy one, especially when 80 percent of that life is spent dealing with all the other crap. But I have a few notes:
The game obviously has its flaws. All games do. But there’s one thing 2K has proven with their latest installment, and it’s that damn, do they know their demographic.
by Eric Fulton
The National Football League’s regular season kicked off on Thursday (Sept. 8) right where it left off last season with the Denver Broncos defeating the Carolina Panthers in a rematch of Super Bowl 50. There are many storylines to follow as a new season enters: How will the Broncos fair now that Peyton Manning has retired? How many games will the New England Patriots win without Tom Brady? Will Robert Griffin III rediscover himself in Cleveland? What about the return of Andrew Luck? Can Luck lead the Indianapolis Colts back to the top of the AFC?
I would say there are over half of the teams I believe that have a strong case to make the playoffs. However, only 12 teams can make it. And only one will raise the Lombardi Trophy as champions of Super Bowl LI.
Here are the 12 teams I believe will make the playoffs in 2016.
East- New England Patriots
The Patriots will not have the services of Tom Brady for four games, but if they can win two or three of those games without Brady, they will be favorite all the way until the Super Bowl.
North- Pittsburgh Steelers
Even though they won’t have Le’Veon Bell for three games, the Steelers seem to be the biggest threat to the Patriots in the AFC. If everyone, including Ben Rothelisberger can stay healthy throughout the season, Pittsburgh has a very good shot at making the Super Bowl.
South- Indianapolis Colts
The AFC South is the toughest of all divisions to pick who will win. Last year, the Texans won with only a 9-7 record. The Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans are both young and should improve this season. However, this division will be decided on the health of Andrew Luck and his offensive line. If both things are a positive for Indy, they will return to winning the division.
West- Kansas City Chiefs
Now that Peyton Manning is gone, the AFC West seem to be open a little bit. The Oakland Raiders will be the team everyone will watch. The San Diego Chargers always seem to make things interesting. Right now, this is Andy Reid’s division to win. Kansas City should not have any problems winning the division. By the way, the only chance the Broncos have a shot at winning this division is if the defense can shut out everyone every week (Not likely to happen).
Wild Card: Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets
The Bengals should compete for a playoff spot once again. Can they finally win a playoff game under Marvin Lewis? The return of Andy Dalton should help tremendously.
The Jets got a huge confidence boost when Ryan Fitzpatrick re-signed with New York. Now with the addition of Matt Forte at running back, the Jets are poised to have double digit victories and this time get in the playoffs.
East- New York Giants
It seems as though the NFC East is a crap shoot every year. You never know who will win that division. This year, I will say the Giants should win the NFC East, but I won’t be surprised if they don’t win. You just never know about that division and the teams.
North- Green Bay Packers
With the terrible injury to Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the Packers are now the favorite to win the NFC North. Once again, Green Bay is led by Aaron Rodgers who gets his main target back in Jordy Nelson. But the Vikings defense under head coach Mike Zimmer will give it all they have when defending their division championship.
South- Carolina Panthers
The defending NFC Champions will return wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, which will help Cam Newton. The Panthers also have a great defense with a healthy Luke Kuechley leading the way. They will have a major target on their back, but Ron Rivera’s team seems to be built for the long haul of the NFL season.
West- Arizona Cardinals
Carson Palmer had the best year ever as a quarterback in his NFL career as the Cardinals made it to the NFC Championship game last year. Having safety Tyron Mathieu return from an ACL injury will be huge as he along with fellow LSU Tiger Patrick Peterson form the best defensive back duo in the NFL. Bruce Arians will have his team ready to go and poised to go back for the Super Bowl.
Wild Card: Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints
Seahawks – Seattle will once again try to return to the top of the NFL Mountain. However, it will have to do so without the services of running back Marshawn Lynch as he decided to retire. Quarterback Russell Wilson will once again try to lead the offense into another deep postseason run. Meanwhile the defense will try to prove themselves as still the best in the NFL.
Saints- There should be a handful of teams fighting for at one more playoff spot in the NFC. But I think the Saints will be the main team to take on the Panthers for the NFC South crown, but will ultimately be a wild card team. While the defense is not that great, they still have Drew Brees. With Brees now at the final stages of his career, the Saints are poised to make at least one more playoff run with their future hall of fame quarterback.
by Eric Fulton
With college football’s 2016 season kicking off this weekend, this is shaping up to be a fantastic year all around. Although last year’s Heisman winner Derrick Henry has moved on the to the National Football League, there is still plenty of star power in the college game.
Here are my 10 best players in college football, including the finalist who I believe will be invited to New York City in December.
1. Leonard Fournette (Running Back, LSU)
Through the first two years at LSU, he has been everything advertised. Early last year, he was the frontrunner until he ran into Nick Saban and Alabama’s Defense. This year he is ready to make a loud roar. In doing so, he will lead the Tigers to not only the SEC, but a berth in the College Football Playoff. That would cement his place as one of the greatest running backs of all-time in college football history.
2. Christian McCaffrey (Running Back, Stanford)
The Cardinal running back had an outstanding 2015 that compared him to another Stanford running back who was also a finalist for the Heisman, Toby Gerhart in 2009. McCaffrey is poised to make 2016 an even better season with him leading the charge for not only a Pac-12 title, but a national title as well.
3. DeShaun Watson (Quarterback, Clemson)
Watson and the Tigers had a magical season in 2015 until they lost to Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship game. Watson will have to be even more spectacular than the year before in order to lead Clemson back to the playoff. If he does that, he will make a return trip to New York.
Players who have a shot of going to New York- These are the players whose teams are in contention to not only win their conference, but also have the opportunity to lead their team to a College Football Playoff berth. That would make their case for an invite to New York City.
Baker Mayfield (Quarterback, Oklahoma)
Mayfield left after one season at Texas Tech and he probably does not regret making that choice. Mayfield helped the Sooners win the Big XII last year with high expectations of a repeat. Can Mayfield deliver once again in big games? If so, he and Oklahoma could have a date with destiny.
Chad Kelly (Quarterback, Ole Miss)
Kelly will likely be the first quarterback to be taken in next year’s NFL Draft. He came off an amazing season leading the Rebels to a Sugar Bowl victory. Now can he do something at Ole Miss that has not been done in a long time, win the SEC? I’d say he and the team have a chance. One major concern for Kelly is who will be his new best target with LaQuan Treadwell going to the NFL?
Dalvin Cook (Running Back, Florida State)
The Seminoles will open the season starting a freshman quarterback in Deondre Francois. Cook is one of the best running backs in college football. If he can take pressure off the young quarterback, he and Florida State will once again have a special year to remember.
Jabrill Peppers (Linebacker, Michigan)
Peppers is the only defensive player on my list. It also does not hurt to be versatile as he plays not only linebacker, but also defensive back and wide receiver. I believe there once was a guy who did the same thing for Michigan in the mid-to-late 1990s and ended up winning a Heisman. Does Charles Woodson ring a bell to anyone?
Players who probably won’t be invited to New York, but could make things very interesting with great individual and team seasons.
Joshua Dobbs (Quarterback, Tennessee)
Dobbs is one of the better athletic quarterbacks in all of college football. He has the size and speed to make a great quarterback on Sundays. Can he lead the Volunteers into the promise land of the SEC for the first time in a long time?
J.T. Barrett (Quarterback, Ohio State)
Last year, Barrett was a part of the three headed quarterback competition in Columbus. Now that Cardale Jones and Braxton Miller have both moved on, Barrett will be handling the starter duties in Urban Meyer’s offense for the Buckeyes, who are once again favorites in the Big Ten.
Nick Chubb (Running Back, Georgia)
Chubb was lost for the season after a devastating leg injury in last season’s loss at Tennessee. If he can be the explosive running back he once was prior to the injury, Kirby Smart’s first year as head coach could be a memorable one.
by Eric Fulton
It is hard to believe that the 2016 college football season is here. It only seemed like a month ago that Alabama was celebrating another national championship. Obviously, since then every fan in America has been ready for a new season of college football to start.
2016 will mark the third year of the College Football Playoff system. Through the first two years, the CFP has been something positive for college football. There are more games and matchups that matter in November and December. If a team is in the top four come November when the first College Football Playoff rankings are revealed, there’s pressure for those teams to keep winning. The last two national champions, Ohio State and Alabama, each lost their only games in the season in September and won their remaining games the rest of the way. Recent history has shown that if you lose two games then you lose any shot at winning the national championship.
Before the we kick off the 2016 season, I am going to reveal my top four teams who I think will be in the college football playoff. Once again, the two semifinal matchup will occur on New Year’s Eve (December 31) and the national championship game will take place on January 9th in Tampa, Fla.
These are my top four teams to play for the 2016 College Football National Championship:
The Sooners are major contenders to win the Big XII once again led by quarterback Baker Mayfield. However, the biggest downfall could be the fact they will likely beat a team within their conference twice even though the Big XII just has 10 teams.
2. Ohio State
Coach Urban Meyer will be looking to avenge missing out of last year’s playoff. There is no quarterback controversy in Columbus this year as once again the Buckeyes are the favorite to win the Big Ten.
Could you imagine the SEC being totally shut out of the College Football Playoff? Non-SEC fans would love to see this happen, but I don’t see it. On paper, this appears to be Les Miles’ best team in quite a while. Also having the best running back in college football does not seem to hurt at all. Will the Tigers be able to put it all together in 2016?
4. Florida State
The Seminoles are looking to return as the best team in the ACC. The good thing is that the ACC is getting better and proving it can be compete with the rest of the big boys. Coach Jimbo Fisher will have an experienced group of starters return in a what could shape up to be a really good year in Tallahassee.
Other teams that I believe will make a serious run in 2016:
Alabama- You never want to count out a Nick Saban coached team. However, they won’t have the services of Jake Coker, Derrick Henry and Reggie Ragland. A tough road schedule could prevent the Crimson Tide from defending their national championship.
Tennessee- 2016 could be the year the Volunteers return to the top of the SEC East. Head Coach Butch Jones has seen improvement from his team the first two years. Lead by quarterback Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee is one of the most experienced teams coming back in the SEC East, but they need wins over Florida and Alabama to finally get over the hump.
Oregon – There is not a lot of hype for the Ducks to not only win the Pac-12, but also be a serious contender for the national championship. However, Oregon always finds a way to be in serious contention in the Pac-12.
Houston – If the Cougars beat Oklahoma in week 1, the rest of the schedule sets up very nicely for them. Also Greg Ward, Jr. will be among the dark horse Heisman candidates.
Louisville – Bobby Petrino’s Cardinals will be a serious threat to Clemson/Florida State in the ACC. If they can beat one or both the Tigers and Seminoles, look out.
Clemson – The Tigers are a major player to once again be a serious contender for the National Championship. However, the rest of the ACC is catching up to Dabo Swinney’s team. The ACC race will be very interesting to watch.
Boise State – Seems like the better part of over a decade, the Broncos have been the Cinderella of college football. This year seems to be another case where if they can go undefeated, they could play themselves into a top four seed for the college football playoff.
Notre Dame – Coach Brian Kelly’s Irish is once again a great talk for college football. However, who will start the first game at Texas: DeShon Kizer or Malik Zaire? Once the quarterback situation is resolved, the Irish will be all business as they make noise to get in the final four of college football.