2014 New York Giants Season Preview and Schedule

The New York Giants had two distinct seasons last year. The first was a 0-6 start with losses to their two biggest rivals. The second was a 7-3 finish including wins over the Packers and Eagles. It was ugly in the first season, with low points like a 38-0 loss to the Panthers and a 31-7 drubbing at the hands of the Chiefs. Eli Manning was turning the ball over like he had a clause in his contract that paid him $1 million every time he did it, and the Giants defense was equally horrendous.

What changed? Mainly, the defense shaped up. They went from giving up 31 points per game to less than 18 in the last 10 games of the season. Antrel Rolle and Justin Tuck were big parts of that, and the Giants have something to build on going into the 2014 season.  This year the slate is clean, and with no team standing out as the division’s best, they’re right back in the mix for the NFC East title. To help out, the Giants signed guys like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Mario Manningham in free agency, as well as Josh Freeman to help back up Manning.

Manning's trouble in the first six games of 2013

Manning’s troubles in the first six games of 2013

Outside of the normal divisional opponents, the Giants will welcome in team like the 49ers, Falcons, Texans and Colts to MetLife Stadium in 2014. The 49ers famously came oh-so-close to reaching the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year, and Colin Kaepernick will have the team fired up for another run at the NFC title. While the Texans and Falcons both had down years in 2013, both clubs have lots of talent and will likely be back in the playoff hunt this time around.

When the Giants hit the road they’ll be crossing the country a few times, including stops in Seattle, Jacksonville and Tennessee. The Seahawks won the Super Bowl last year by trouncing the Broncos in the big game, and they’ll be the favorites to do it all again in 2014. Seattle’s defense is one of the best we’ve seen in quite some time, so that game will be quite the test for Eli and the rest of the Giants offense.  Jacksonville should serve as a nice bye week with the way they have played the last couple seasons, but if they draft a starter with that first-round pick they could bounce back sooner rather than later.

Being in a division that has no top dog gives Giants fans all the hope they need to right the ship in 2014. Ending up only one game behind the Cowboys after starting 0-6 is commendable, but the fans want to reach the playoffs and not sympathy-pats on the back.

Schedule:

September 8 at Detroit Lions
September 14 vs. Arizona Cardinals
September 21 vs. Houston Texans
September 25 at Washington Redskins
October 5 vs. Atlanta Falcons
October 12 at Philadelphia Eagles
October 19 at Dallas Cowboys
BYE
November 3 vs. Indianapolis Colts
November 9 at Seattle Seahawks
November 16 vs. San Francisco 49ers
November 23 vs. Dallas Cowboys
November 30 at Jacksonville Jaguars
December 7 at Tennessee Titans
December 14 vs. Washington Redskins
December 21 at St. Louis Rams
December 28 vs. Philadelphia Eagles

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?

Average Ticket Prices trending up for UFC

Saturday, April 26, Jon Jones and Glover Tiexeira face off in UFC 172. Teixeira comes in with a 22-2-0 record. His last three major fights were all victories, with his most recent victory a TKO against Ryan Bader. Jones, with a 19-1-0 record also won his last three major fights, with his last TKO coming almost a year ago against Chael Sonnen. This Light Heavyweight Title Fight is sure to be a thrilling bout, but how does it stack up to other big fights?

First, we compared the past five big UFC fights: UFC 171 – UFC 167. While UFC 172 is finally showing an uptick in ticket price, it’s still a significantly cheaper average ticket than UFC 167. Back in November when Georges St-Pierre defeated Johny Hendricks in a round five decision, average ticket price was a whopping $591.72. Ticketholders for the next fight, UFC 168, Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva faced off in a rematch of UFC 162. You may remember this match as the fight when Silva broke both his left figula and tibia in the second round, resulting in a TKO and a second victory for Weidman. Ticketholder for this cringe-inducing fight paid an average of $550.57.

Maybe fans didn’t want to witness another severely broken leg, but average ticket prices for UFC 169 dropped substantially. Fans for Renan Barrao’s first round TKO of Urijah Faber paid the lowly average price of 162.83. Probably for the best as the title fight lasted under two minutes. Fortunately, the following two years showed slight growth. UFC 170, featuring Olympians Ronda Rousey and Sara McMann brought the average ticket price back above $200 to $213.29. Average ticket prices continued to trend up when Johny Hendrix defeated Robbie Lawler by decision. Ticket prices for UFC 171 averaged $260.01.

So far, Jones is on track to second his best average ticket price at a fight. He peaked at UFC 159 with an average ticket price of $274.43. Tiexeria isn’t even close to his best from UFC 160, though he wasn’t the title fight of that event. Average ticket price for that night was $315.12.

While ticket price can definitely show interest in the fight, there’s no way of knowing how exciting the fight will truly be. That’s one of the best part about checking out a UFC fight is that you never know how incredible of a fight you may see. From close five-round fights to first round TKOs to some of the more gruesome injuries in sports, there’s never a shortage of excitement at UFC.

The fight next Saturday will take place at the Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland. The rest of the main card is rounded out with light heavyweights Phil Davis and Anthony Johnson, middleweights Luke Rockhold and Tim Boetsch, lightweights Jim Miller and Bobby Green, and featherweights Max Holloway and Andre Fili. With Teixeira and Jones teased as the title fight for the past three UFC events, this fight is the culmination of quite a bit of anticipation. Who do you see walking away with the title? Sound off in the comments!

Red River… What? Texas vs Oklahoma Game Gets Rebranded Again

Each year, the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma face off in one of the most exciting and long-lasting rivalries in college sports. No matter how good either team is performing each season, all bets are off when they face off in Dallas. Since their first meeting in 1900, the two teams have faced off 108 times, with Texas leading the Head To Head 60-43-5. Known to fans as the Red River Shootout, the name was changed to the Red River Rivalry in 2005 to avoid condoning gun violence. The next year, the official name became the AT&T Red River Rivalry. Now, in 2014, they’ve re-branded once more. If you’re looking for tickets this year, you’ll want to ask for tickets to the AT&T Red River Showdown.

2014 AT&T Red River ShowdownChanges in old tradition can oftentimes rub people the wrong way. Heck, even a new Facebook layout can set people off. So, we took to Twitter to find out what the fans thought of the re-brand. So, here’s a quick breakdown of what we found. Spoiler alert: Longhorns and Sooners will find any opportunity for a little smack talking.

Red River Shootout – Is, was and always will be

Unsurprisingly, a lot of people still plan to use this moniker and stick with old traditions. I’ll admit, I was raised in a Longhorn family and even Red River Rivalry sounded a bit off to me. The new name is just simply not going to catch for many fans.

@Scanachi @TexasEx10 I still call it “The Red River Shootout.” Oh yeah, it’s 5:50 & ou STILL sucks! \m/ #HookEm #GodBlessTexas

@dgmiles Red River Shootout, always. #boomer RT @OU_Football: OU-Texas now “AT&T Red River Showdown” – No matter what you call it, #beatTexas

@Gatrbarb @CollegeGameDay always the Red River Shootout and always the World’s Largest Cocktail Party…too much political correctness!

Red River Rivalry – Say that five times fast

When I started this research, I expected to see certain trends and this was definitely not one of them. For many, the change is welcomed, if for no other reason, it’s easier to say. I never really thought about it, but while the alliteration is fun, Red River Rivalry doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

@theUNLVBigGuy  Guns to tongue twister to blah MT @EricBaileyTW: OU-Texas goes from Red River Shootout to Red River Rivalry to Red River Showdown

@OKCJoseph Changed the name of the Red River Rivalry to the Red River Showdown. The alliteration was too hard for the two-toothed sɐxǝʇ fans to say.

Room for improvement  what’s next for the name?

Some people welcomed a change, but there weren’t many voices that really loved replacing shootout/rivalry with showdown. Most of the positive reactions were just fans getting excited about the Showdown/Rivalry/Shootout later this year. Some people didn’t necessarily love it or hate it, but took it one step further and have facetiously suggested what could be coming next:

@JimMWeber Next up: Red River Hoedown RT @Jake_Trotter The Red River Rivalry is now the Red River Showdown. Used to be the Red River Shootout.

@GuerinEmig Recapping… OU-Texas was once a Red River Shootout, then a Rivalry, and now must settle for being a showdown. Next: a Social.

And my personal favorite:

@SliceOK The Red River “Shootout” became the “Rivalry” and is now apparently the “Showdown.” When do we get to call it the Red River Rumpus? #OUTX

So, football fans, what do you think of the new name? Sound off in the comments!

The Masters a Great Opportunity for Young Golfers

Matthew Fitzpatrick at The Masters

Photo: Harry How Getty Images

The 78th Masters is underway at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia with Round One beginning today. While Tiger Woods had to withdraw with a back injury, 19 past champions will see if they can add another Master’s title to their resume. Expectations for these athletes is high, which leaves newcomer and youngest player in the field Matthew Fitzpatrick, 19, an opportunity to fly under the radar for a Masters title. He’s hardly the youngest to have played in Augusta though. Let’s look back at the past five years and see where the bar is set for the youngest golfers in Augusta.

2009 – Ryo Ishikawa, Japan, 17 years old

Ryo Ishikawa received a special invitation to play at The Masters in 2009. As the only professional golfer at the time of his debut of the five youngsters in the list, he was the only one who failed to make the cut. He’s played every year since his debut, tying for 38th in 2013 and tying for 20th in 2011 – his best result to date. Ishikawa will not be participating in 2014.

2010 – Matteo Manassero, Italy, 16 years old

At the time, Matteo Manassero was the youngest player to ever compete in the Masters. He received his invitation by winning the 2009 Amateur Championship. Just a few months after the Masters, Manassero turned professional. He’s competed last year in Augusta, but failed to make he cut. He’ll try again this year to see if he can improve on his debut performance.

2011 – Hideki Matsuyama, 19 years old

After winning the 2010 Asian Amateur, Matsuyama received his invitation to play in the 2011 Masters tournament. Setting himself at the top of this list, Matsuyama had the highest finish in his maiden Masters with a tie for 27th place. Unlike most of the others on this list, Matsuyama waited until 2013 to finally go pro, almost two full years after his debut in Augusta. He’ll be back this year trying to best his 27th place finish from 2011.

2012 – Patrick Cantlay, 20 years old

The oldest on the list, Cantlay made his debut in Augusta after finishing runner-up in the 2011 US Amateur Championship. He finished tied for 47th place. Just a few months after the Masters, and a very successful Amateur career, Cantlay turned pro. Since his turn to professional golf, he has not returned to the Masters and will not be competing in 2014.

2013 – Tianlang Guan, 14 years old

The most recent young gun to make his debut is also the youngest ever to play the Masters. Guan earned his invitation by winning the 2012 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship. He placed 58th in Augusta and has decided, for now anyway, to remain an amateur. He will not be competing in 2014.

So what can we expect from Matthew Fitzpatrick in his debut at the Masters? There’s certainly a precedent for him to make the cut and there’s definitely an opportunity for him to finish higher than his five predecessors. He’s currently playing golf at Northwestern University, but if he has a good showing at the Masters, US Open or Open Championship, you’d have to imagine he’ll go pro soon enough.