Ruthless NFL 2019 Preseason Preview Featuring Detailed Hall Of Fame Game Breakdown!

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Just kidding. It’s the Hall of Fame Game for Christ’s sake. You can’t – or, to be adamantly clear, you should not under any circumstances – gamble on it. Come on, you knew that already. You know where you are. We don’t suffer fools around here, gladly or otherwise. This is a gambling column. Don’t gamble on stupid shit.

Sorry, I meant to say hey! Welcome back! Yep, just when I thought I was out, they…answer the phone when I call, sobbing about being broke and desperate until they agree to give me any partially-eaten KFC sides left in the break room fridge after 9 p.m. in exchange for 2000 words about which casino a highly-intoxicated Jon Gruden will get tossed out of first after the big move next year.

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And just like that, it’s football season again. Hard to believe, right? The forces that align against us have somehow managed to fuck with the concept of time, so much so that the Christschurch shooter told people to “subscribe to Pewdiepie” on March 15th! Of this year! Unbelievable, right? This hell-world will age us faster than parmigiano reggiano.

If you’re coming back for another year, bless you, you know how much I appreciate it. If you are new, welcome. Typically what we do in the first preseason column is catch up, outline preseason gambling rules, and discuss the really important off season news. The vociferous mail I get from certain lovely folks would indicate that they want a detailed recap of all of the political bullshit we’ve been subjected to over the last six months, but there will be plenty of that to come over the course of the season, I’m sure. Christ, as I type this that dumb son of a bitch is floating the idea of buying Greenland. I wish I was kidding. HEY LOOK FOOTBALL (news).

TOP THREE OFFSEASON STORIES:

Tyreek Hill flies business class from Dubai and calls his girlfriend “bro.”

If you’ve been here before, you might remember our in depth discussion of Tyreek Hill, as we wrestled with the conundrum of supporting an athlete with a less-than-reputable past. Of course, back then he was but a neophyte in the world of scumbags, having only to plead guilty to strangling his pregnant girlfriend. That all changed this past March, when he lost custody of his son for allegedly breaking his arm. Horrifying charges of that ilk dash the hopes of any redemption story in the eyes of most, though I’m certain that some boat-owning dickhead in Gashland has tried to spin it as proof positive that he meant the girlfriend no harm back in 2014.

Then of course came the audio. The discussion they had neither proved nor disproved any allegation, but why the hell any long-term couple would have that little chat at an international airport gate is beyond me. Honestly, having any discussion deeper than “does that Sunglass Hut sell beer?” prior to essentially being chained to each other for the next 14 hours is anathema to me. That might disqualify me as a romantic, but at least I don’t call my wife “bro” every three seconds.

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Both offensive and defensive pass interference calls are now subject to review

Gee I wonder why? Yes, we all agree that certain blown calls suck, and for you newbies, I literally mean that we all agree, especially on that one. But leave it to the pizza nazi to kill a fly with a sledgehammer. You know damn well that if the same blown call had taken place in that Bills v. Dolphins barnburner that ended their respective seasons on New Year’s Eve Eve, this never would have happened.

In all honesty, I am generally in favor of replay. It’s a pretty simple proposition: if the technology exists to make certain that a call is right, then it should be used. But pass interference is already so nebulous and ill-defined that the whole concept can sway from one extreme to the other and back over the course of a half, let alone a full game. Worse than strike zone, less predictable than a Metallica album, and now we’re gonna break out the overtly-branded Microsoft tablets over hand-fighting? The average age of an NFL referee is 51 years old! Those guys still wrestle with the concept of lapel microphones. I assure you we’re going to see a game called off mid-quarter if some hacker ever loads some old History Channel WW2 docs onto those things during a TV timeout.

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Patrick Peterson’s GoPro footage

Who would have thought that GoPro footage of a guy in an empty stadium, surrounded by teammates, catching balls on a whistle would be so…terrifying? Everything you see professional athletes do is always way harder than it looks, but the punt fielding footage, by itself, really grabs you in the moment. The ball is so airborne it looks like screen lint at first, and less than a second later it hits him so hard the footage quakes.

I’m sure some marketing parasite came up with the idea, and it’s a bit of a shame that it’s wasted on a team in the middle of yet another fruitless rebuild, but they should at least balance it out a little. If we’re going to be jarred by watching Paterson skate between defensive backs running at ludicrous speed, they should intersperse more calming footage every one in a while. Like Larry Fitzgerald inspecting prospective real estate for his inevitable Phoenix-based car dealership and / or mayoral campaign headquarters. Or Kliff Kingsbury hanging out in front of a grocery asking people to buy him beer.

As I type this, the second week of Thursday night preseason games are winding down. The purpose of this column is to try and win us some money, but we again face the issue of not having any meaningful football yet. If, like me, you simply must watch preseason football because you are a hopeless nerd and/or addict, there are ways to gain a slight edge, so long as you understand that you are gambling on games that the participants are not necessarily trying to win.

As we’ve discussed before, you can look at prior preseason records in order to determine which coaches view the games as cattle call auditions and which guys can’t help but treat it like a real contest. Based on what we’ve seen so far, Jon Gruden seems hell-bent on claiming anything he can technically define as a win, likely because he can correctly anticipate what a long season it’s going to be in Oakland, so that’s a place to start. Contrast him with Jason Garrett, who’s had two “winning” preseasons in nine years of coaching in Dallas.

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You should also pay attention to press conferences, team-specific blogs, and game plans, though again, you must remember that the games don’t count, and some of the guys on the field could give a damn about the final score. Listen, I get it, believe me, but better to wait just a little bit longer, as we will discuss futures and props over the next two weeks, as is tradition around here. Then we hit the ground running with Bears v. Packers on September 5!

I’ve missed you degenerates. The world is on fire but for the time being, at least we’ve got the game back. Study the games, get your reputable preseason guides, and let’s see if we can’t top last year.

Good luck!

About J.J. Duquesne

J.J. is an attorney in New York City. He loves NFL Football...a LOT.