Tuesday, September 30, 2014

2014 Week 4 Fantasy Football Winners and Losers

MVP: Eli Manning (Giants)
Eli Manning channeled his brother Peyton this week as he dismantled the Redskins defense with a preposterous 300-yard, five TD performance (four passing, one rushing). Manning is finally starting to get a hold of offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's system and its paying dividends on the field. Manning hasn't looked this comfortable or been this productive under center since his nearly 5,000-yard season in 2011. Manning is still too inconsistent to trust as a weekly starter, but he's well worth a pickup as a QB2 right now.
Honorable Mentions: Andrew Luck (Colts), Eli Manning (Giants), Aaron Rodgers (Packers)

LVP: Nick Foles (Eagles)
For the first time in a long time, Nick Foles had a terrible game. Foles couldn't get a damn thing going on Sunday against the 49ers as he was under duress for most of the game and had practically no help from his receivers getting open downfield. Because of this, Foles ended Sunday with less than 200 yards passing and zero touchdowns. In Chip Kelly's offense, Foles is still as strong of a QB start as there is out there, so don't bench him due to this performance.
Dishonorable Mentions: Kirk Cousins (Redskins), Cam Newton (Panthers), Tom Brady (Patriots)

Running Back
MVP: Jammal Charles (Chiefs)
Jammal Charles owners can officially rejoice now because he has officially woken up from his offseason hibernation. After missing the last two weeks with injuries, Charles returned to the field for his first dominant performance of the season against the Patriots in primetime on Monday night. Charles was all over the field getting a combined total of 21 touches, 108 yards and three TD's (two receiving, one rushing). After the early season injury, Charles looks to be back to his dominant RB1 form.
Honorable Mentions: DeMarco Murray (Cowboys), Matt Forte (Bears), Matt Asiata (Vikings)

LVP: LeSean McCoy (Eagles)
Who would've thought LeSean McCoy would be the worst fantasy running back play two weeks in a row? McCoy once again stuffed as he managed just 17 yards on 10 carries against the 49ers stiff run D on Sunday afternoon. While McCoy hasn't looked as fluid in space or with his cuts than usual over the past couple of weeks, he can't absorb all of the blame for these poor performances. The Eagles line is currently riddled with injuries, so the rushing lanes just haven't been there in the last two games. McCoy has a strong chance to return to from against the weak Rams run D in Week 5.
Dishonorable Mentions: Donald Brown (Chargers), Rashad Jennings (Giants), Arian Foster (Texans)

Wide Receiver
MVP: Steve Smith (Ravens)
As most people-myself included-expected, Steve Smith had a huge game in his first meeting against his former team-the Carolina Panthers. Smith just could not be stopped as he reeled in seven receptions for 139 yards and two TD's in the Ravens blowout victory on Sunday. Smith, 35, has once again proven to be an ageless wonder this season and if he keeps up at this rate, he'll a guaranteed top 10 fantasy WR at year's end.
Honorable Mentions: Antonio Brown (Steelers), Randall Cobb (Packers), Jordy Nelson (Packers)

LVP: Calvin Johnson (Lions)
Even robot overlords like Megatron can play poorly sometimes. Calvin Johnson was visibly hobbled by an ankle injury- which limited his snaps and production substantially-throughout the Lions Week 4 matchup with the Jets. Johnson should return to his typical superhuman form in a couple of weeks, but he's not worth starting as long as his ankle continues to bother him.
Dishonorable Mentions: Pierre Garcon (Redskins), DeSean Jackson (Redskins), Michael Crabtree (49ers)

Tight End
MVP: Larry Donnell (Giants)
If you've watched the Giants play at any point this year, you may have asked yourself "Who the hell is Larry Donnell? The third-year undrafted tight end has become a fixture in the Giants offense overnight thanks to his steady hands and monstrous red zone presence. Donnell easily made his greatest impact of 2014 thus far in Week 4 as he found the endzone three times against the Redskins. Donnell has emerged as the breakout TE of this season and if he's somehow still available in your league, you need to pick him up immediately.
Honorable Mentions: Heath Miller (Steelers), Delanie Walker (Titans), Travis Kelce (Chiefs)

LVP: Greg Olsen (Panthers)
It was a long day for pretty much the entire Panthers offense in their matchup with the Ravens this past Sunday, but no one suffered more in their lopsided loss than Greg Olsen. The typically productive Olsen was basically shut out as he picked up a mere two catches for 30 yards on the afternoon. Even with this setback, Olsen is on pace for a career year and he remains the number two option in this offense behind Kelvin Benjamin, so keeping starting him.
Dishonorable Mentions: Antonio Gates (Chargers), Zach Ertz (Eagles), Jason Witten (Cowboys)

MVP: Miami Dolphins
After two straight disappointing performances, the Dolphins came back with a vengeance against the Raiders. The Dolphins forced four takeaways (three INT's and a fumble), picked up two sacks and got a defensive touchdown in Sunday's international showcase in London. The Dolphins are still a little sketchy to trust due to their tendency to allow a lot of points, but they have the capability to go off at any time thanks to their strong pass rush and takeaway ability.
Honorable Mentions: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers

LVP: Carolina Panthers
Now is the time to hit the panic button for the Panthers defense. A week after getting crushed by the Steelers, the Panthers farted once again against allowing 38 points and not registered a single sack or takeaway in Sunday's contest against the Ravens. The pass-rush just isn't the same without Greg Hardy in the lineup and their second-ranked run defense from a year ago is suddenly near the bottom of the league. Things aren't going to get any easier for this struggling unit either as they face the Bears powerhouse offense in Week 5.
Dishonorable Mentions: Chicago Bears, New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons

Monday, September 29, 2014

Concert Review: Coheed and Cambria-- Boston, MA-- September 28th, 2014

If you're an active concertgoer, you know that there are certain shows that stand out from the pack. Every once and a while you'll attend a show that feels less like a concert and more like a monumental, can't-miss event. Last night at the House of Blues in Boston was one of those special shows as progressive rock virtuosos Coheed and Cambria played their iconic 2003 album In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 in its entirety.

Opening the show was up-and-coming prog-rockers Thank You Scientist. All I knew about Thank You Scientist prior to the show was that they are signed to Coheed and Cambria frontman Claudio Sanchez's record label and that their 2012 debut album, Maps of Non-Existent Places, was universally acclaimed by critics and fans alike. After seeing them live, I'm downright ashamed of myself for not checking them out sooner. Thank You Scientist is the most experimental and unconventional act to come along in the progressive rock scene since The Mars Volta. The center of their originality comes from their inclusion of a brass section (saxophone and trumpet) and violinist in their full-time lineup. The prominent brass instrument and violin sections gives them a jazz-fueled sound that other bands in the genre simply can't play. It's really awesome to see a band work unconventional instrumentation into their music without it coming off as a cheap gimmick. While the jazzy instruments are a huge part of what makes Thank You Scientist so great, the other members of the band are just as vital to the success of their oddball sound. The soaring falsetto vocals of Salvatore Marrano add a gigantic burst of energy to the already chaotic music and guitarist Tom Monda possesses the versatility to tackle everything from soothing Latin-inspired melodies to metal-esque technicality with ease. Thank You Scientist was the perfect opener for this show and I'll be closely monitoring their career in the future.

After a half-hour wait, Coheed and Cambria hit the stage. In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 has been amongst my favorite albums of all-time since I first discovered it in 2005, so the fact I was going to see it played live from start to finish was incredibly exciting. As I'd anticipated, it was an absolutely surreal and euphoric experience to hear these songs in a live setting. While hearing longtime live set staples like the title track and "A Favor House Atlantic" was awesome, it was the deeper cuts that truly shined. Songs like "Cuts Marked in the March of Men", "The Crowing" and the epic three-part track the "Camper Velourium" were absolutely colossal live. A large part of the appeal of Coheed and Cambria's music to me is how massive every song sounds and the live version of these tracks are prime examples of that. I was actually surprised to see how well-received the non-album singles were. Basically everyone in my vicinity was singing along and generally losing their minds for every single song on the album. It's always awesome to see a group of fans that have the same amount of enthusiasm and passion for the rarities as they do for the singles. After they played through In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3, they returned for two encores that were just as fantastic and powerful as the material from In Keeping Secrets. Newer song "Number City" was the most pure fun song of the night thanks to its infectious hook and rousing horn section courtesy of the guys from Thank You Scientist while fan-favorite "Welcome Home" punctuated the set with the loudest sing-a-longs of the evening and a wild, spontaneous 12-string guitar solo from Sanchez. The only disappointment of the night for me was the fact they dropped "The Lying Lies and Dirty Secrets of Miss Erica Court" from the setlist. "Lying Lies" is one of my favorite tracks in Coheed's discography and I'd never seen them play it live before, so I was pretty bummed when they decided to drop from the setlist in Boston after playing it at all of the previous shows on the tour. Thanks to a spectacular setlist and crowd, this was the most fun I've ever had seeing Coheed and Cambria live.

Side Notes:
-The rush to the stage once the intro riff to "In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth 3" kicked in was the craziest I've seen since The Wonder Years headlining set at the Glamour Kills Tour in March 2012.  
-My friend D.J. describe Thank You Scientist as "...an orgy of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Coheed, Apocalyptica and The Mars Volta"
-Singing along to "Al the Killer" is the only time it's acceptable to yell "Die white girls" in public.
-The crowd was great on the whole, but there were a handful of morons who were trying to push their way up to the front when there was clearly nowhere to go. Seriously, if it's a packed floor at a sold out show, don't be that asshole causing unnecessary disruptions to move a couple of inches closer to the stage.
-Before the show, A cop threatened to put a drunk kid outside of the House of Blues in a "handcuff timeout" if his friends didn't get him away from the venue immediately.  
Thank You Scientist 8/10
Coheed and Cambria 9/10

Thank You Scientist:
Feed the Horses
Little Automatic
In the Company of Worms
My Famed Disappearing Act

Coheed and Cambria:
The Ring in Return
In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3
Cuts Marked in the March of Men
Three Evils (Embodied in Love and Shadow)
The Crowing
Blood Red Summer
The Camper Velourium I: Faint of Hearts
The Camper Velourium II: Backend of Forever
The Camper Velourium III: Al the Killer
A Favor House Atlantic
The Light & the Glass
21: 13
Encore 2:
Goodnight, Fair Lady
Number City
Encore 3:
Ten Speed (Of God's Blood and Burial)
Welcome Home

Saturday, September 27, 2014

2014 Rookie QB Watch: Week 4

By Liam Madigan-Fried

So I feel like I had to eat my words a little bit this week. Two weeks ago, I said that Matt Cassel looked like a solid franchise starter which would lead to Teddy Bridgewater seeing maybe two starts this season, and then last week I said that Blake Bortles wouldn’t see his first start until week six. Still, I can’t even say I care, because in my opinion, this season just got really interesting. We went from one rookie quarterback starting in week one to three lacing up for the first quarter in week four. So without further ado, let's get a closer look at how these guys are shaking things up in the league thus far.

Teddy Bridgewater: Well, the Matt Cassel story that might have been is over, and he’s likely seen his last stint as a starter in the NFL. The tenth-year veteran suffered a foot injury last Sunday versus the New Orleans Saints,  which forced Teddy Bridgewater into making his first NFL game appearance. After the game, MRI’s revealed that Cassel had fractured a number of bones in his foot, and would not be returning for the remainder of the season. So however the timeline for coach Mike Zimmer regarding his new quarterback may have laid out, they’re going to have to speed things up a bit, because ready or not, Bridgewater’s his man for the remainder of the season. Despite not throwing for a single touchdown, Bridgewater gave the Vikings a little glimmer of hope showing some poise in the pocket and going 12 for 20 through the air for 150 yards. If Bridgewater can click in Norv Turner’s offense like he did in the preseason and he can some help in the running game from Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon, there’s no reason why Bridgewater shouldn’t be on his way to a good (or at least decent) rookie season.

Derek Carr: Derek Carr made a big statement on Sunday versus the Patriots  when he targeted star cornerback Darrelle Revis’s side of the field a total of six times, completing five of those passes for 63 yards. Carr was obviously not intimidated about testing Revis on Sunday, but unfortunately that could not stop the massive pass rush created by Vince Wilfork and Chandler Jones from affecting him. That relentless pass rush ultimately led to Carr’s first game without a touchdown pass, as well as one interception coming from Wilfork himself. Carr would end the game throwing 21/34 for 174 yards, but it can definitely be argued that Carr got robbed for a score due to a pass interference call on the Patriots on a deep touchdown pass to Andre Holmes. Had Holmes been able to run unobstructed, the tide of the game may have turned in a very different direction for Tom Brady and co. Despite starting their season at 0-3, Carr still continues to improve in some areas-such as his poise in the pocket and defensive reads- yet remains weak in others, particularly when it comes to shoving passes into really, really tight windows, sometimes (and sometimes not) narrowly escaping an interception. Luckily for Carr, other than the whole two-fumbles-in-the-same-play fiasco, James Jones seems to be at least doing his part in contributing to this Oakland offense, leading the team in receptions with 189 yards and two touchdowns. Jones might not be putting up elite receiver numbers, but he has so far proven to be Carr’s best deep threat and red zone option. I still don’t see bright things on the horizon for the Raiders this season, but one thing they’ve got going for them so far is Carr.

Johnny Manziel: Despite their second loss of the season on Sunday to the Baltimore Ravens, the metaphorical scales representing the Browns quarterback debacle seem to be tipping in favor of veteran Brian Hoyer. The Money Manziel package that Browns head coach Mike Pettine has alluded to in numerous press conferences has yet to manifest itself on the field other than a quick three plays two weeks ago versus the Steelers. The Browns last two losses (as well as their one win) have been decided by three points or less, meaning their battling bald man under center has consistently kept them in the game until the very end. Hoyer has looked pretty good so far with a 97.5 passer rating, three touchdowns and no interceptions through the first three games. Like I say week after week, Manziel has talent and he might even belong in the NFL, but Cleveland isn’t looking like the place for him. The reason being, it just wouldn’t make sense to get rid of Hoyer as long as he continues to put up good numbers. If Hoyer can manage to lead the Browns to a winning season this year (unlikely), it’s very possible we could see Manziel offered up to the trading block for a top draft pick in 2015.

Blake Bortles: The Bortles era in Jacksonville is finally here! One of the few things I’m glad to have been proven wrong on is the subject of Blake Bortles redshirt status. Despite what teammates and coaches may have said prior to Sunday, Chad Henne got the boot in the second half on Sunday to make way for the first round pick out of Central Florida. Bortles ended the night going 14/24 for 223 total yards and two touchdown passes in his debut- an impressive showing in what many would call the "garbage pickup" portion of the game. Despite throwing for two interceptions, if you actually watch the game footage you’ll see many of those completions came under pressure and in some pretty tight windows as well (hence the two interceptions). The arm strength of Bortles was also let out of its cage on Sunday, with one particular rocket of a pass hitting Allen Robinson for a first down late in the fourth quarter. Now that Bortles is taking over the starting quarterback job, Henne may have seen his last start in a Jaguars uniform (or any uniform). He may have known it was coming, he probably was just hoping it would be later, rather than sooner. I’m going to make a very bold prediction right now: In two weeks win or lose, Bortles will be in contention for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Arthur Avanesov Northlane Audition

Hello all,
My good friend Arthur Avanesov is amongst the thousands of people that are trying out to be the new vocalist for Australian djent/metalcore band Northlane. Check out his audition video below and be sure to spread the word if you like what you hear. He's a killer vocalist and would be a great fit for an up-and-coming band like Northlane.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Album Review: The Contortionist-Language

If you're a fan of modern progressive metal in any form, you're probably well aware of The Contortionist. Since the release of their widely-praised debut album Exoplanet in 2010, The Contortionist has become one of the fastest rising bands in the genre thanks to their knack for combining intricate melodies with death metal intensity. Armed with a new vocalist and more subdued sound, The Contortionist's third LP Language marks the start of a new chapter for the Indiana sextet.  

Language sees The Contortionist further expanding on the more progressive sound they established on their 2012 LP Intrinsic. The deathcore elements that ruled Exoplanet are now all but gone from the equation. The Contortionist's transition from a progressive deathcore band to a straight-up progressive band is relatively seamless in large part due to the presence of new vocalist Mike Lessard. Lessard-who is also the frontman for criminally underrated prog metal act Last Chance to Reason- is a pitch-perfect fit for this band. Lessard is a phenomenal vocalist with a range that allows the band to cover more ground musically than ever before. While previous vocalist Jonathan Carpenter was an excellent harsh vocalist, his middling clean vocals prevented the band from thriving when they entered melodic territory. Lessard's ability to sing as well he screams erases any previous vocal limitations this band had and is one of the driving forces behind the success of Language.  

The first half of Language is pretty much prog-metal bliss. The Contortionist is firing on all cylinders out the gate with plenty of energy, emotion and exquisite melodies galore. Droning intro "The Source" is the perfect precursor to the two-part track "Language"-which perfectly embodies everything The Contortionist is about. "Language I" establishes the new, atmosphere-heavy sound with nothing but clean vocals, muted guitar lines and low-key synths throughout while "Language II" reminds the listener that even though this incarnation of The Contortionist is primarily focused on being a progressive band, they can still play heavy material with the best of them. However, "Language I and II" are just a warmup for the brilliance of the two proceeding tracks "Integration" and "Thrive". "Integration" and "Thrive" are two of the absolute best progressive metal tracks to be released in recent memory. The grand scope and complexity of the song structures, beautiful riffing from guitarists Robby Baca and Cameron Maynad, and brief bursts of Exoplanet-esque heaviness make these tracks completely invigorating listens that only grow more striking on repeat plays. 

Ironically, just about everything after "Integration" and "Thrive" backfires. The sixth track, "Primordial Sound", comes through and kills all the momentum Language built up in the first half. With a plodding, robotic vibe running through the duration of the song, The six-and-a-half minute runtime of "Primordial Sound" feels like at least twice that. The next track "Arise" briefly gets things back on track, before the lengthy "Ebb and Flow" and "The Parable" end the album with a whimper. The haunting musical landscapes and guitar harmonies that dominate the first half of the record are replaced by repetitive, lifeless riffing that gets really old really fast. Even the vocals of Lessard suffer a dip in quality from the first half.  While Lessard's technical chops remain impressive, his reliance on repeated lyrics and delivering the vocal lines with zero emotion severely take away from the strength of his vocals. It's extremely perplexing to see an album that starts off as such a triumph descend into a stilted snoozefest when it approaches the finish line.   

Ultimately, Language is one of the most divisive and flat-out strange listens of 2014 so far. It's too great to completely ignore yet far too meandering on the whole to get overly excited about. It's almost like two different bands recorded the two halves of the album. The first five tracks are about as strong as progressive metal can get while the last four sound like low-rent versions of Traced in Air-era Cynic. I'm completely content with the fact that The Contortionist will never put out another record like Exoplanet again, but the fact that they haven't been able to match the quality of that record with their subsequent efforts is agitating. Both this album and Intrinsic have plenty of moments of brilliance that are ultimately squandered by numerous sleep-inducing songs appearing throughout the duration of the album. If they could make a record that's as consistently inspired and efficient as Exoplanet with their new sound/lineup, they would be one of the undisputed torchbearers in progressive metal. Simply put, the first half of Language would've have a brilliant EP, but thanks to a lackluster second half, it's an enjoyable but heavily flawed LP.

3.5/5 Stars
Standout Tracks
3.Language I-II          

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football Week 3 Winners and Losers

MVP: Andrew Luck (Colts)
Andrew Luck's early season fantasy dominance continued in Week 3 with his decimation of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Luck played his best game of the year so far putting up 370 yards and 4 TD's through the air and adding another 15 yards on the ground to put a cherry on top of his stellar performance. As long as the Colts to struggle to run the ball, the offense will run through Luck and he'll be a weekly top-tier QB1.
Honorable Mentions: Kirk Cousins (Redskins), Nick Foles (Eagles), Matt Ryan (Falcons)

LVP: Matthew Stafford (Lions)
After a stellar week 1, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has failed to deliver. Stafford wasn't able to take advantage of a pretty favorable matchup against the Packers this week, as he failed to get the ball into the endzone and turned the ball over three times (2 INT's and a fumble). Stafford is easily one of the most frustrating QB1 starts in the league because of his inconsistent play and tendency to turn the ball over. Despite his struggles the past couple of weeks, Stafford is a must-start in Week 4 against the Jets weak secondary.
Dishonorable Mentions: Aaron Rodgers (Packers), Tom Brady (Patriots), Ryan Tannehill (Dolphins)

Running Back
MVP: Marshawn Lynch (Seahawks)
All hail Beast Mode. Marshawn Lynch continues to prove the "experts" who claimed prior to the start of the season that he had lost a step and was going to lose a substantial amount of carries to Robert Turbin and Christine Michael wrong with his absolutely ridiculous play to start off the year . Lynch found the endzone twice on Sunday against the Broncos and finished the day with 128 yards from scrimmage (88 rushing, 40 receiving) Barring any bizarre off-the-field incidents and/or injury, Lynch is a lock to be a top five fantasy running back in 2014.
Honorable Mentions: Rashad Jennings (Giants), Giovani Bernard (Bengals), Knile Davis (Chiefs)

LVP: LeSean McCoy (Eagles)
Like all LeSean McCoy fantasy owners on Sunday, I was baffled by just how bad his statline was against the Redskins on Sunday. The combination of the Redskins suddenly stout front seven and the Eagles injury-plagued offensive line led McCoy to rush for a paltry 22 yards on 20 carries on the afternoon. McCoy is too vital to the flow of Chip Kelly's uptempo offense for this performance to set off any major alarms, but it's still a huge disappointment to see a guy who was almost an undisputed top overall fantasy pick this year perform so poorly.
Dishonorable Mentions: Eddie Lacy (Packers), Bobby Rainey (Buccaneers), Matt Forte (Bears)

Wide Receiver
MVP: Julio Jones (Falcons)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers found out all too well last Thursday the effect a healthy Julio Jones has on a football game. Jones torched the Buccaneers all game long in route to a 161-yard, two TD performance. Jones continues to be Matt Ryan's favorite target and with the freakish numbers he puts up everytime he's on the field, I don't see that changing anytime soon.
Honorable Mentions: Jeremy Maclin (Eagles), Antonio Brown (Steelers), Pierre Garcon (Redskins)

LVP: Brandon Marshall (Bears)
After lighting up the 49ers last Sunday night, Brandon Marshall was practically invisible in the Bears' primetime battle with the Jets on Monday night. The Jets dedicated a vast majority of their attention to shutting down Marshall, and their tactics worked as Marshall ended up with just a single catch for 6 yards on the night. Marshall re-tweaking his injured ankle on a block late in the second quarter certainly didn't help matters as he was clearly in serious pain when he returned to the field in the second half. Marshall's ankle is certainly something to watch moving forward and it wouldn't be the least bit surprising to see him sit out a game in the next week or two to rest it.
Dishonorable Mentions:  Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals) Sammy Watkins (Bills), Randall Cobb (Packers)

Tight End
MVP: Martellus Bennett (Bears)
With the Jets taking Brandon Marshall all but completely out of the game, Martellus Bennett stepped up as the Bears primary redzone target. Bennett hauled in a pair of TD's from Jay Cutler and finished Monday night's contest with 52 receiving yards on five receptions. Bennett has emerged as one of the few consistent TE1 options in 2014 and can now be trusted as a weekly starter in a vast majority of fantasy leagues.
Honorable Mentions: Greg Olsen (Panthers) Rob Gronkowski (Patriots), Dwayne Allen (Colts)

LVP: Zach Ertz (Eagles)
It seems like Zach Ertz was the only receiver on the Eagles that didn't benefit from the team's pass-heavy attack in Sunday's game against the Redskins. Ertz was held to just 14 yards on two receptions while the rest of the Eagles receivers torched the Redskins secondary all game long. Ertz remains a bit of a risk because of his tendency to live and die by the deep ball, but his sky-high ceiling keeps him firmly in the TE1 conversation.
Dishonorable Mentions: Charles Clay (Dolphins), Antonio Gates (Chargers), Jordan Cameron (Browns)

MVP: Indianapolis Colts
The Jacksonville Jaguars have provided glorious afternoons for opposing defenses this season and this week was no exception. The Colts were the latest defense to pray on the Jaguars horrible offense picking up 4 sacks, 2 INT's, a fumble recovery and a touchdown in Sunday afternoon's blowout victory. Even with promising rookie quarterback Blake Bortles taking over the starting job this week, the Jaguars remain the safest bet to get manhandled by defenses week in and week out.
Honorable Mentions: Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals

LVP: Carolina Panthers
I'm still in shock of how bad the Carolina Panthers defense looked this week. This normally dominant unit was anything but as they allowed 31 points and got zero takeaways against the Steelers on Sunday night. Even the best defenses have meltdowns on occasion and I fully expect the Panthers to bounce back against the Ravens in Week 4.
Dishonorable Mentions: Houston Texans, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals  

Monday, September 22, 2014

50 Most Underrated Albums of the 2000's (So Far): #17

                                    17.Hatebreed-The Rise of Brutality (2003)
Since their inception, Connecticut hardcore group Hatebreed have been churning out relentlessly heavy and passionate records dealing with themes of depression, substance abuse and overcoming any obstacle life throws at you. Despite all their records following pretty much the same blueprint, none of their records are as inspiring, emotionally resonate and consistently hard-hitting as their 2003 LP The Rise of Brutality. What makes The Rise of Brutality stand out amongst the rest of Hatebreed and the sea of other similar hardcore bands is the anthematic quality that every song has. The massive sound of the album hammers home the power of the messages vocalist Jamey Jasta lays out in the lyrics. While the sheer scope of the songs makes The Rise of Brutality a standout hardcore record, Hatebreed would not be such an earth-crushing force without Jast leading the charge. Jasta is quite possibly the most energetic, passionate and honest frontman in heavy music today. Every time he opens his mouth, it resonates with the listener. He's overcome some serious adversity in his life and uses his platform as a musician to provide hope and spread love to people that are battling serious internal issues. In a genre that is built around honesty and raw emotion, Hatebreed are the gold standard. Some people may write off The Rise of Brutality as generic crap that's exclusively for the hxC-bro crowd, but if you dig beneath the chugging guitars and constant breakdowns, you'll find one of the most profound and unforgettable records to be released since the dawn of the new millennium.

Standout Tracks