Philadelphia Eagles 2014 Schedule Preview

Despite a 2 point loss to the Saints in the NFC Wild Card game, the Eagles 2013 season was a far cry from a bust for Chip Kelly’s debut season in Philadelphia. At 10 – 6 and first place in the NFC East Philadelphia fans welcomed the changes Kelly put in place including keeping second year quarterback Nick Foles under center. The big story of the offseason in Philly has been centered on Desean Jackson who was released by the Eagles after rumors of gang affiliations surfaced. As one of the most dominant big play receivers in the game last year, this could cause some major problems for Foles who had a 71% completion rating with Jackson. With Riley Cooper, Jeremy Maclin, and Brent Celek having already established a connection with Foles look for them to step up and fill the shoes of the missing Jackson and Avant. Along with Desean Jackson the Eagles parted ways with Michael Vick in a swap that landed New York’s infamous butt-fumbler, Mark Sanchez, a home in Philadelphia. If the Eagles can keep their offensive production on the same path as last year they’ll have no problem scoring with the best in the NFL, only trouble stopping them. Finishing the year at number 29 in points allowed, Philly’s defense is where the big holes remain. While the front-seven progressively got better as the season went on to end up at 10th against the run, the release of Cromartie in the secondary appeared to hurt the Eagles quite a bit. Outside of Boykin’s career-high six interceptions, there was not a lot of positives to come from the Philadelphia secondary, something that will need to change heading into the 2014 season.

Philadelphia’s top notch performance in 2013 landed them some premier matchups in the upcoming season but as far as big games go you can always count on the slugfest with Dallas to produce; especially after the way the season ended for the Cowboys last year. Like every year the Eagles will get the Cowboys twice in 2014, once at AT&T Stadium and another at Lincoln Financial Field. After a 3 year hiatus with the Seattle Seahawks, Philly will get another shot at the defending Super Bowl champs on their own turf after losing at CenturyLink Field in 2011. Other big home games include the Eagles NFC East rivals, the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, which will also follow a one at home one away schedule. If you are planning to hit the road with Philadelphia in 2014 don’t miss the San Francisco game which will be played at the 49ers new facility, Levi’s Stadium, in Santa Clara, California.

Though there will be some big shoes to fill on offense this year the Eagles are more than capable of coming out on top of the NFC East heading back to the postseason once again. Foles will be good but fans, players, and coaches alike shouldn’t be expecting anything better than last year’s performance. While it was definitely no fluke season for Foles it was an amazing and rare one that his standards shouldn’t be characterized by. He’s got plenty of weapons to run one of the most productive offenses in the game and will likely do so in 2014. With draft pic predictions leaning towards a free-safety, Louisville’s Calvin Pryor and Alabama’s HaHa Clinton-Dix, Philadelphia fans can be assured that Kelly knows where his weakness is and he’s looking to fix it. Assuming the defense snags some talent from the draft and possibly off the wire the Eagles will likely be the favorite to defend its NFC East title in 2014.

Schedule:
September 7 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
September 15 at Indianapolis Colts
September 21 vs. Washington Redskins
September 28 at San Francisco 49ers
October 5 vs. St. Louis Rams
October 12 vs. New York Giants
Bye week
October 26 at Arizona Cardinals
November 2 at Houston Texans
November 10 vs. Carolina Panthers
November 16 at Green Bay Packers
November 23 vs. Tennessee Titans
November 27 at Dallas Cowboys
December 7 vs. Seattle Seahawks
December 14 vs. Dallas Cowboys
December 20 at Washington Redskins
December 28 at New York Giants

New York Jets 2014 Schedule Preview

When it comes to the New York Jets, no one could have expected an 8-8 performance from a team that looked close to a complete collapse. Even more unsettling for the 2013 Jets was having to trust rookie quarterback Geno Smith with the offense. While there were plenty of disturbing performances from Smith, none were out of the ordinary of what you would expect from a first year starter. With a solid year under his belt at the position and veteran QB Michael Vick added to the roster for guidance, there is no reason Geno’s sophomore year in the NFL won’t be exciting to watch. If it’s not, there is always a chance to have Vick as your starting quarterback, and as most Jets fan will tell you any quarterback is better than a butt-fumbling quarterback. Along with Vick, in an attempt to beef up the skill positions surrounding Geno Smith, the Jets took a shot on former Tennessee Titans running back, Chris Johnson. While the once elusive back has been somewhat of a disappointment lately, Johnson’s best years were with a mobile quarterback. With Smith and Vick as viable options under center it will be interesting to see if the 28-year-old speedster still has some juice left. As for Rex Ryan, he may have pulled out the most impressive season in his career in 2013 with his fate as head coach hanging in limbo. The 8-8 finish landed Ryan a multi-year contract proposing that New York has uncovered a renewed confidence in the head coach. While a losing season will surely land Rex back on the hot seat, this move is great for the franchise as it provides some stability to the locker room, besides, the players love Rex.

The New York Jets have some marquee matchups to look forward to in the upcoming season. Though it will only be a preseason game, the bitterness between the Giants and Jets always produces some exciting football. Outside of their divisional games, which includes two matchups with the New England Patriots, the NY Jets have a daunting schedule ahead of them. At home New York will host the Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Oakland Raiders. While they faced Oakland and Pittsburgh last year, it will be the first time the Jets have faced the Lions, Broncos and Bears at home in more than half a decade. The schedule doesn’t get any easier on the road as the Jets head to Lambeau Field, Arrowhead Stadium, Qualcomm Stadium, and LP Field. The Jets lead the series with the Green Bay Packers 9-3, but in their last meeting 4 years ago the Packers took the cake 9-0 at Lincoln Financial Field. In a much closer bout, the series between the Jets and Kansas City Chiefs is neck and neck with New York leading by one, 18-17-1. The last time the Jets played at Arrowhead Stadium, we were still waiting on the iPhone, the first generation. It was also the last time the Chiefs beat the Jets, which makes it all the more intriguing to attend.

While the Jets appear to have a lot going for them heading into the 2014 season, there are some areas of much needed improvement before aspiring to get back in the playoffs. First and foremost offensive talent. More importantly a clear cut number one wide receiver. Chris Johnson should offer some great options for the offense to use and adding a solid option on the outside will balance this offense and keep their opponents guessing. While the defense seemed to be a diamond in the ruff last year, their #11 ranking among defenses in the NFL can be attributed to the front seven, who were quite possibly the best in the league. Beyond the line of scrimmage the Jets are hurting for some secondary weapons. The selling of “Revis Island” proved to be a mistake as the secondary seemed to crumble upon his departure while creating havoc for teams playing Tampa Bay. While there still hope for Cromartie and Milliner to be solid defensive backs some reassurance might be necessary to get the two back on top.

Schedule:

September 7 vs. Oakland Raiders
September 14 at Green Bay Packers
September 22 vs. Chicago Bears
September 28 vs. Detroit Lions
October 5 4:25PMEDT * AT CHARGERS
October 12 vs. Denver Broncos
October 16  at New England Patriots
October 26 vs. Buffalo Bills
November 2 at Kansas City Chiefs
November 9  vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
BYE
November 23 at Buffalo Bills
December 1 vs. Miami Dolphins
December 7  at Minnesota Vikings
December 14 at Tennessee Titans
December 21 vs. New England Patriots
December 28 at Miami Dolphins

The 2014 Austin City Limits Music Festival Lineup is here!

The Austin City Limits Music Festival lineup for 2014 has finally been announced! When festival goers make their way to Austin’s Zilker Park in October, there will be plenty to choose from. Whether you’re going weekend 1 (October 3-5) or Weekend 2 (October 10-12) you’ll be able to enjoy one of the finest lineups we’ve seen from C3 in years.

Austin City Limits Music Festival 2014 Lineup

If you’ve been waiting for Austin City Limits to bring back some more rap/hip hop, you’ve got to be pleased with headliners Eminem and Outkast. Eminem will be headlining Lollapalooza in just a few months, so surely we’ll hear lots of buzz heading into ACL about his performance there. Outkast had coming off a rough reunion show at weekend one of Coachella – general sentiment was that the show was a bust. But, they’re Outkast, so they turned it around for weekend two. I have high hopes that they’ll work out the kinks further and put on an amazing show when they hit Austin. Just a month removed from a killer show at SXSW, Childish Gambino makes the lineup for ACL to add a little more to the rap enthusiasts out there.

For those less interested in rap, the headliners have plenty of other genres to choose from. Pearl Jam, Skrillex and Beck will be rounding out the Friday and Saturday night headliners. Pearl Jam have been rocking for over 23 years now, so you can count on a solid set from them. Dubstep guru Skrillex played ACL a few years back, but this year the stage will be bigger. I saw him play a few years back and have to say, this will be a show you can’t miss. His high-energy shows will get the crowd moving! Somewhere in between throw back and dance party, Beck, promoting his new album, is sure to be quite the crowd pleaser. His new album is fantastic, but you know he’ll play plenty of his older hits to keep the festival goers happy.

Before you buy tickets, make sure that the acts you’re interested in are going to make it on the weekend you’re planning to attend! There are a handful of acts playing only one weekend this year, but the only really major act that’ll only be attending one weekend is Lorde, who will be gracing weekend two with her unique music. So, if you’ve been dying to hear Royals, make sure you get your pass to weekend two!

Per usual, there’s a pretty big indie presence at ACL. Broken Bells, Chvrches, Phantogram and Capital Cities and Jagwar Ma will all be great sets to check out. Phantogram was all over SXSW and crushed just about every show.

If you’re at ACL to dance, then you’ve got plenty of opportunity. Calvin Harris – best bio on the ACL website, “I make music and I love my food” – just performed at Coachella and left the crowd very pleased, so expect a high energy showing at ACL. Diplo’s Major Lazer will be at ACL as well. They’ve played nearby at the White Water Amphitheatre down in New Braunfels and I still hear people talking about how great the show was. I’d imagine they’ll take advantage of the ACL stage and leave people talking.

Personally, I’m most looking forward to Jagwar Ma, Beats Antique and Rebelution, since I’ve got to get a little reggae in! What do you think of the lineup and who are you looking forward to checking out this year at Austin City Limits?

San Francisco 49ers Schedule Preview

Coming off another frustrating loss for the third season in a row, it’s now or never for the San Francisco 49ers. At 12-4 on the 2013 season the Niners came one play away from heading to their second straight Super Bowl appearance only to have their dreams shattered by Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. To make matters even worse, offseason headlines have been all but promising of a 2014 comeback with the possible loss of Aldon Smith and troublesome ventures of Colin Kaepernick. In any matter the 49ers remain grounded and determined seal the deal in 2014.

With the end of Colt McCoy’s contract San Francisco reached out to the Jaguars to obtain Blaine Gabbert as their number 2 quarterback for a sixth round pick. While the club is hoping to only use Gabbert as a number 2, having a solid first round pick to take over the reins if necessary is always reassuring. Brandon Lloyd will join forces with Crabtree, Boldin, and Patton as the 49ers newest wide out and has the potential to be the solid #3 receiver Harbaugh has been looking for. Lloyd has taken on a persona of a downfield highlight reel receiver in the past but at 33 years old has had to reinvent his game as a reliable pass catcher anywhere on the field. The offense will also return Mario Manningham and Marcus Lattimore from injuries to hopefully provide another spark in the huddle. While the presence of Aldon Smith on the field is no doubt significant, losing him in the 2014 season is not the end all be all for San Francisco’s defense. There is no getting around the fact that Smith is a rare athlete (40 sacks in his first 38 starts) but with high reward comes high risk and a defense with plenty of weapons it’s a risk the 49ers must pass on to reach their pinnacle in 2014.

The 49ers were in control throughout most of the 2013 NFC championship game.

The 49ers were in control throughout most of the 2013 NFC championship game.

For 49ers fans all home games this year are going to be big as the Niners will break in their newly constructed Levi’s Stadium after bidding farewell to Candlestick Park last year. Look for visits from the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears, and San Diego Chargers to Santa Clara to take on the red and gold in their new home. While these are all great games to check out at Levi’s Stadium, the game at the top of the list should be when Alex Smith brings his Kansas City Chiefs back to the Bay for the first time since departing from the team he helped build. Smith was a Niner for seven seasons before he took over in Kansas City and lead the Chiefs to an 11-5 record and will surely get a warm welcome back to the Bay. If there was one game to take it all though, it would have to be the 2013 NFC Championship rematch against the Seattle Seahawks. You can be certain blood will be boiling when this rivalry hits the field in San Francisco, especially between a certain cornerback and “mediocre” wide receiver.

Having spent the past three season on the brink of the Super Bowl there is no reason to think the 49ers won’t head right back to the playoffs in 2014. With another year of experience under Kaepernick’s belt the offense should be at the top of their game, especially when it comes to clock management, something Kap has struggled with in his first few years. To get back to the Super Bowl San Francisco is going to have to win in Seattle. They went 2-0 at CenturyLink Field in 2013 and it cost them the NFC Championship both times. With 11 picks in the upcoming draft the 49ers are poised to load up on some fresh new talent and don’t be surprised if Harbaugh works out a deal to move up from the 30th overall pick like they did last year to get LSU Safety Eric Reid.

2014 MLB Ticket Prices Show Huge Increase in Demand Among Marlins Fans

The 2014 MLB season is well under-way.  Heading into the fourth week of the regular season, most teams sit at the .500 mark; however, a few MLB teams like the Marlins seem to be playing an entirely different game than 2013. So how are fans reacting to early-season surprises and shake-ups? Ticket demand compared to this point in the season last year tells an interesting story about the fan bases that are most excited about 2014, and those that appear to be less than hopeful.

St. Louis Cardinals (Most Expensive)
After losing the World Series in 2013 to Boston, the Cardinals have jumped 1 spot in the rankings due a 10% increase in average ticket price compared to last season.  Heading into 2014, the NL pennant winners shored up their two most glaring weaknesses in the offseason.  Add the fact that Baseball Prosepctus ranked the Cardinals first among the 30 teams in 25-and-under talent, and it’s easy to see why Cardinals fans are willing to pay a premium for Cardinals tickets- both this season and for years to come.

Pittsburgh Pirates (Least Expensive)
The Pirates perennially sit at the bottom on the list for ticket prices on the secondary market.  However, after breaking a two-decade streak of sub-.500 records in 2013 and gaining their first postseason berth in 20 years, the Pirates have seen a 22% increase in average ticket price in 2014. Still, it wasn’t enough to catapult them from their #30 ranking, most likely due to the fact that the Pirates did little during the off-season to address potential weaknesses, and fans are well aware.

Miami Marlins (Biggest Increase)
The league’s worst offense in recent history last season is, as of Saturday night’s win over the Seattle Mariners, the third-highest scoring team in baseball in 2014.  In year two of their rebuilding project and with All-Star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton finally healthy after missing 85 games the last two seasons, excitement among Marlins fans has led to an 81% increase in average ticket price.  Whether or not the Marlins can maintain their momentum, it won’t be the heartbreak season of years past- halfway through April Miami has already reached 16 homers, after claiming just 12 in all of April in 2013.

Cincinnati Reds (Biggest Drop)
For Red’s fans, who go into each season expecting to make it to the postseason, 2013 was a disappointing year- and they’re demonstrating this disappointment with their pocketbooks.  The average ticket price to a Reds game has decreased by 44% compared to 2013. Additionally, no team has had to deal with the amount of key injuries that the Reds have dealt with this spring. The three highest-paid members of the bullpen – Aroldis Chapman, Sean Marshall, and Jonathan Broxton all started the season on the disabled list.  With all three players now officially cleared to play as of this Saturday, ticket prices could increase over the course of the season after reaching record lows.

Below is full ranking of all MLB teams based on average ticket price for the 2014 season.

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