Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Sports: NFL (Week 6)

This week was a bit strange where there were plenty of upsets to go around so I'll be highlighting teams that may have won this week but probably won't have a strong chance of making it to the playoffs. The season is still pretty young so anything could happen in the next few weeks to change the fate of these teams if they can ride the momentum of their recent win. I'm hoping the same thing is true for my fantasy team as I got my second win in a row and could be back in contention for a playoff spot if I win a few more. This season has proven a bit harder to predict with the final undefeated team falling.

AFC
AFC West
The Chargers have changed cities from San Diego to Los Angeles but that hasn't brought them much success. They did beat their division rival, the Oakland Raiders who aren't very strong either. The Kansas City Chiefs lost their first game to the Steelers while the Denver Broncos gave the Giants their first win.

AFC North
The Pittsburgh Steelers looked to be having a rough season but with a huge upset to the Chiefs, they are back in front of this division. The Bengals had a bye week but could be back in the fight after the Baltimore Ravens loss to the Bears in overtime. The Browns continue their abysmal season with their sixth loss to the Texans.

AFC South
The Tennessee Titans won a big battle on Monday night against their division rival the Indianapolis Colts. The Houston Texans improved their record with an easy victory over the Browns while the Jacksonville Jaguars fell to the Rams. The division now has a three-way tie with three teams with three wins.

AFC East
The Miami Dolphins are trying not to repeat recent seasons with a surprising upset over the Falcons. The New England Patriots avoided defeat against the New York Jets to take the division lead. The Bills had the week off.

NFC
NFC South
The New Orleans Saints were the only team in this division to get a win when they beat the Lions in a high scoring game. The Carolina Panthers lost the Thursday night game to the Eagles while the Atlanta Falcons were upset by the Dolphins. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the Cardinals despite a fourth-quarter comeback attempt.

NFC West
The Arizona Cardinals don't look great but they scraped by over the Buccaneers to get to the middle of the division. The Los Angeles Rams moved to the top of the division with a win over the Jaguars and a bye week for Seattle. The San Francisco 49ers have yet to win a game losing to the Redskins.

NFC North
The Minnesota Vikings triumphed in a game that could alter the division as the Green Bay Packers lost their starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Detroit Lions lost to the Saints while the Chicago Bears beat the Ravens 
NFC East
The New York Giants got their first win of the season as they beat the Broncos. The Philadelphia Eagles are climbing to the top of not just the division but the conference as they won the Thursday night game against the Panthers. The Washington Redskins just barely made it past the weak 49ers. The Cowboys had a bye week.

The game I'm looking forward to the most this next week if not all season is the Super Bowl rematch between the Falcons and the Patriots on Sunday night. I'm also curious about the Redskins and Eagles on Monday night. 

TV Show Review: Fear the Walking Dead (Season 3)

AMC has decided, as with other shows, to split up the season into 8-episode halves and I decided to skip the midseason review for a full review of the third season. The biggest shock of the returns of this zombie show was the sudden death of a major character. In the two-episode premiere, the Clark family finally comes back together but it is only because they are captured by a militia. Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) and her daughter Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) are held in an office while her son Nick (Frank Dillane) and her husband Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) are tied up in preparation for execution in a basement shower room. The militia is led by Troy Otto (Daniel Sharman) and his brother Jake (Sam Underwood) and it's pretty clear that they discriminate on who is allowed into the survivalist camp and who is used to experiment as zombies. The soldiers including Willy (Noel Fisher) collect data as the dead change into zombies.

Madison has none of jabbing a spoon into Troy's eye to escape while Nick tries to escape with Luciana Galvez (Danay Garcia) through a walker-infested sewer. They are forced to evacuated the camp as zombies invade but it is too late for Travis who dies from a wound and falls from the helicopter. The rest of the group travels to the survivalist camp led by Jeremiah Otto (Dayton Callie), Troy and Jake's father. Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) remained at the hotel pretending to be a doctor but he's exposed and forced to leave. Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades) searches for purpose in the wasteland and is helped by a religious man until he is captured by Dante Esquival (Jason Manuel Olazabal). Dante is in charge of a dam that controls most of the water in the area and he punishes anyone suspected of stealing the precious fluid. 

Jeremiah Otto's camp is at war with Qaletqa Walker (Michael Greyeyes) whose grudge against the survivalist goes back long before the undead walked. Walker works with Ofelia Salazar (Mercedes Mason) and she poisons members of the ranch. Madison navigates into a leadership position and undermines Otto in the conflict. Alicia forms a relationship with Jake while Troy violently lashes out at anyone who tries to leave the camp. All out war almost break out but Madison assassinates Otto to keep the peace. The second half of the season shifts to a soccer stadium that has become a marketplace as Daniel takes control of the dam and Madison leads the survivalist ranch. Troy leads a parade of undead towards the ranch that Alicia must fight off. Nick works with Jake to try to lead the zombies away but Jake is bitten and dies. Madison makes a deal to save Victor and argues with Daniel over water. Madison tries to reunite Daniel with his daughter Ofelia but she dies before they can be together. 

Alicia is traumatized from having to survive in a basement nearly suffocating as people turned into walkers. She sets out on her own and meets Diana (Edwina Findley) who agrees to work with her to survive. Their partnership doesn't last for long as a group of attackers smashes a truck into their vehicle. Alicia meets a man with a tumor and uses her medical experience to help with the post-apocalypse surgery. Nick and Troy travel with Madison to the stadium and begin to work with a bartender to collect brain stems of zombies. They head to the dam where Madison kills Troy and Daniel interrogates Nick. Madison's transformation into a stone cold killer seems to be a central theme of the show. The soldiers assaulting the dam turn out to be the same people holding Alicia captive. Proctor John (Ray McKinnon) is an interesting new villain. Alicia encounters Strand who is pretending to cooperate with Proctor. 

I'm not totally sure why I continue to watch this show other than I like zombies. Some of the characters like Colman Domingo's Victor Strand, Kim Dicken's Madison, Frank Dillane's Nick, and Rubén Blades's Daniel are fun to watch at times but the characters don't stand out as much as in the original series. The story lagged quite a bit in the middle episodes of each half season as the show does not have the benefit of Robert Kirkman's source material. the shocking death of a main character just did not pack the same punch as the original show's brutal demises. I honestly didn't play too close attention to the plot as many of the episodes were boring or forgettable and the zombie action was often on the periphery of the main story. I'll stick with it for another season because I'm curious how it will tie into the original series as promised.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sports: College Football (Week 7)

While there are not any games between ranked teams this weekend proved to be full of upsets right from the start. Two top ten ranked teams fell on Friday and two more on Saturday. This week will have repercussions that will play out all the way to the college football playoffs. I still think we have a few weeks to go to see what the official rankings will be but as of now, there are fewer undefeated teams. 


ACC
The biggest upset of the weekend will be the Friday night loss of the 2Clemson Tigers to the Syracuse Orange. The Tigers did win the National Championship with one loss to an unranked opponent last year but their win over Auburn is not as impressive this year as they lost this weekend too, but I'll get to that later. Moving up after Clemon's defeat are the undefeated 11Miami Hurricanes and the 21NC State Wolfpack. Miami moves to seventh and NC State to seventeenth while Clemson drops to eighth.

PAC-12
On Friday, the California Golden Bears upset the 8Washington State Cougars who were planning dominance in the PAC-12. This unranked loss will spell the end of the Cougars hopes for appearing in the National Championship with an upset over Washington. It may also end the hopes of the PAC-12 appearing in the playoffs.
The PAC-12 really lost their hopes of an appearance in the playoffs when the 5Washington Huskies fell to the Arizona State Sun Devils. 23Stanford Cardinals move to the top of the PAC-12 North with a win over Oregon but two losses will keep them from traveling too far up. 

Big Ten
The Wisconsin Badgers move into the top 5 with a win over Purdue. Their schedule looks pretty easy as the only ranked opponent they have left is 15Michigan but they'll compete with a tough opponent in the Big Ten Championship if they win out. The Big Ten will get interesting next week as 3Penn State returns from their bye week to a host of new challenges from conference rivals Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State. Penn State vs Michigan might be the only game I'm looking forward to next week. 

Big 12
The TCU Horned Frogs have moved into fourth place as they beat Kansas State. They do face the challenge of Oklahoma in November but if they win that and triumph in the new Big 12 championships, then we may see the Frogs in the playoffs. 

SEC
Benefiting from all the chaos and floating at the top at number one are the Alabama Crimson Tide. They have defeated all challengers up to this point. The only ranked opponent that Alabama has to face is Auburn who lost to LSU this weekend and plummeted more than any other team that was upset from tenth to 21st. The Georgia Bulldogs have moved up into third place and they also only have Auburn to face as their last ranked opponent. It's going to be a crazy SEC CHampionship. 

TV Show Review: Halt and Catch Fire (Season 4)

The final season of AMC's brilliant period piece follows the rapid development of technology in the early nineties as search engines take the forefront of innovation. The latest season pushes the inventors into the 90s after years of building computers and programs, the work has turned to the internet. Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace) and Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy) are working on a new site but they rely on Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis) who is in Japan but not always communicative. Cameron has been working on a new video game that is so complicated, it frustrates average users. Donna Emerson (Kerry Bishé) is working at a new company as a project manager with Diane Gould (Annabeth Gish) and John Bosworth (Toby Huss). 

When Cameron returns to America, she strikes up a phone conversation with Joe that lasts nearly a whole episode as a bad review comes in for her game. Gordon faces competition from his ex-wife company as Donna promotes Tanya Reese (Sasha Morfaw) to help lead their competing browser. Gordon finds out about the web skills of his daughter Haley (Susanna Skaggs) and interests her on working on their new web browser with Joe. She finds a lot of success and melds with their new company well. Donna is not thrilled with Gordon employing Haley and she also struggles with their other daughter Joanie (Kathryn Newton) who acts out against her parents.

Cameron decides to buy a piece of land and move out there in a trailer. Bosworth is trying to hide his massive investment debts from Diane as he helps Donna on their web browser. Gordon starts a relationship with a new employee Katie Herman (Anna Chlumsky). Bosworth goes to Cameron for help on the coding issues for their browser unbeknownst to Donna but she's suspicious when the problems are suddenly fixed. Cameron also keeps it a secret from Joe as well even though he questions how their competitor has a major breakthrough. When Bosworth becomes sick in the hospital, a lot of truth comes out as Donna confronts Cameron and Cameron admits to Joe what she did.

The show has a real gut punch in the seventh episode when Gordon dies suddenly. The last few episodes are full of grief and reminiscing as the friends are forced to come together and deal with everything that Gordon left behind. In the end, Bosworth gets a clean bill of health and makes up with Diane to enjoy retirement. Haley takes up a new project as Joanie travel to Tibet. Donna gathers women in tech and makes a rousing speech only to have a comical splash end it as Cameron falls in the pool. Cameron had set out to leave but she proposes that Donna and she should work together again and it looks like they have a new idea. Joe disappears to return home and teach humanities but he keeps memories of his friends close.

I almost gave up on Halt and Catch Fire in the second season but I caught up before the third and I'm so happy I stuck with it because this show is amazing. The last few episodes were so funny and sad and just a beautiful show that ends so well. Looking back, it was an incredible journey led by extraordinary performances from Lee Pace's ambitious Joe to Kerry Bishé's cutthroat Donna. Mackenzie Davis will be a star but this is the role that brought her into the spotlight and while Scoot McNairy has plenty of small roles in films, this show could be a highlight in a huge career. Toby Huss is also hilarious as Bosworth. I enjoyed this show so much and will be thinking about it as one of the best of the year. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

TV Show Review: Room 104

A hotel room can be so much more than just a place to spend the night. It can be a home, a workplace, a church, bomb-making factory or a fighting ring, and in Jay and Mark Duplass's new HBO series, these possibilities are explored in twelve thirty-minute episodes. The series goes from religious to horror to dramatic to romantic and I never knew what to expect when starting each episode. The first episode is a horror of sorts when a young woman Meg (Melonie Diaz) arrives at Room 104 to babysit an odd boy who seems to have a split personality. In the second a pizza boy Jarod (Clark Duke) gets trapped in a couple's strange game as Scott (James Van Der Beek) and Jennifer (Davie-Blue) have other plans than just eating, but the episode concludes with a surprising twist.

The third episode, The Knockadoo, sees a woman Deborah (Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris) attends a strange ritual for a cult religion performed by a priest Samuel (Orlando Jones) including videos of a man known as The Father (Tony Todd). The next episode has a man Daniel (Jay Duplass) cope with guilt as he's visited by the ghost of his best friend Patrick (Will Tranfo) who drowned while they were out swimming years ago. The fifth episode, one of my favorite, The Internet shows the complex nature of a young man Anish (Karan Soni) trying to explain to his mother over the phone how to send a document of his novel by email. This anxiety-inducing episode also has a surprise ending that is as shocking as it is emotional. 

The sixth episode went over my head as a young woman (Sarah Hay) dances with the housekeeper (Dendrie Taylor). The Missionaries, the seventh episode, was also one of the more enjoyable ones is about two Mormon missionaries Noah (Adam Foster) and Joseph (Nat Wolff) exploring the forbidden things but there are consequences. A bizarre eighth episode, Phoenix, has the survivor of a plane crash Joan (Amy Landecker) deal with the trauma and an interview with a reporter Liza (Mae Whitman). A tennis play Boris (Konstantin Lavysh) confesses the trauma of his past to the housekeeper Rosa (Veronica Falcón) in the ninth episode. 

The tenth episode, Red Tent, was one of the most intense as a bombmaker Alex (Keir Gilchrist) is interrupted by an AC repairman Steve (Hugo Armstrong). The next to last episode, The Fight, shows two women Rayna (Keta Meggett) and Greta (Natalie Morgan) fight to see who would win an MMA match since they plan to throw it. The finale episode, My Love, is a sad story of an elderly couple Charlie (Philip Baker Hall) and Lorraine (Ellen Geer) reminiscing on their past. All of these stories were wildly different and seemingly unconnected much like the occupants of any hotel room but the stories are also often life-changing with major revelations or events.

Room 104 was hit-or-miss with some of the stories being really entertaining while others were boring or just confusing. The show attempts to capture the randomness of life and how it can often be frightening or heart-breaking or just plain weird. With it being HBO, the show is allowed to go places some shows wouldn't with violence or sex or language and the Duplass brothers use this freedom, and low budget, to explore grief, belief, and other difficult subjects. The room seems disconnected from the outside world but there are hints at current events and death is always lurking within the walls. I would be interested to see where the show goes in a second season. 

Sports: MLB Postseason (Championship Series)




The final four teams in Major League baseball have survived an exciting first round to move on to the league championship series. These series will feature the strongest pitching rotations and impressive offenses that will make for amazing games ahead. The team with the better record will get home field advantage for the first two game and then there will be three games at the home field of the team with the lower record. The advantage of playing at home doesn't have as great an impact in baseball but it can tip the momentum in favor. The American League goes first and then games will be played on the same day. Only a week or so until the World Series and I'm excited about the continuation of postseason baseball.

American League Championship Series
I'm still getting used to the Houston Astros playing in the American League but they have proven they are the most dominant team in the American League. The New York Yankees are a young, scrappy team with power hitters and solid starting pitchers to generate the same enthusiasm this classic team has had in years where they dominated the postseason. I am rooting for the Houston Astros as the win would not only change the trajectory of a team that hasn't had success in some time but also a city that has been ravaged by an awful hurricane.

New York Yankees vs Houston Astros
Game 1
A pitching duel started the ALCS with Dallas Keuchel for Houston and Masahiro Tanaka for New York. Houston moved out in front in the fourth inning with RBI singles from Carlos Correa (SS) and Yuli Gurriel (1B) to put them up 2-0. Ken Giles got the save but he did let up a home run to Greg Bird so the final score was 2-1. The Houston Astros win the first game of the series over the Yankees. 
Game 2
Another pitching duel makes the second game another low scoring affair. Luis Severino of the Yankees faced Justin Verlander of the Astros. Verlander pitched a complete game. The Astros took the lead in the fourth as Carlos Correa homered to make it 1-0. A ground-rule double by Todd Frazier (3B) gave the Yankees their only run and tied it 1-1. Correa doubled in the ninth of Aroldis Chapman to knock in a run. The Houston Astros won Game 2 over the New York Yankees 2-1 to go up two games to none. 
Game 3
The series heads to New York and the Yankees have the advantage. They started out with a three-run home run from Todd Frazier in the 2nd inning go up 3-0. Chase Headley (DH) drove in a run in the 3rd, Frazier scored on a wild pitch, and Aaron Judge (RF) broke his slump with a three-run home run to make it 8-0. The Astros only added one run from a walk in the ninth. The New York Yankees won 8-1 but are still behind the Houston Astros 2-1 in the series.
Game 4
The Houston Astros jumped out ahead in the 6th inning after a pitching battle between Houston's Lance McCullers Jr. and New York's Sonny Gray when Yuli Gurriel doubled in three runs but was thrown out to lead 3-0.  The Astros added another run in the seventh to go up 4-0. Aaron Judge homered and Gary Sanchez flied out for a run to make it 4-2. In the 8th, Brett Gardner grounded out but knocked in a run, Judge doubled in a run and Sanchez doubled in two more. The New York Yankees tied the series at two games winning 6-4.

National League Championship Series
The Los Angeles Dodgers swept their series while the Chicago Cubs won by one run in game five. The Dodgers come in with a well-rested team but the Cubs have experience with a recent World Series win under their belt just last year. This game is a rematch of last year's NLCS, which took six games for the result of Chicago winning. I think the Cubs can put their tough NLDS behind them but the Dodgers have a strong team that had the best record in the entire league. The Dodgers did have a worrying streak of losses but I'm still picking them to win the series.

Chicago Cubs vs Los Angeles Dodgers
Game 1
The streaming service for TBS is lacking so I was not able to watch as much of this game as I wanted. The Chicago Cubs pulled out in front first with a fourth-inning two-run home run from Albert Almora Jr. (CF) to lead 2-0. The Dodgers rallied in the fifth with a Yasiel Puig (RF) double and a sac-fly from Charlie Culberson (SS) tied it 2-2. Chris Taylor (CF) homered for Los Angeles in the 6th to put the Dodgers up 3-2. Another rally in the 7th with a Puig home run and a Justin Turner (3B) RBI single gave the Dodgers a 5-2 lead. The Los Angeles Dodgers win the first game of the ALCS.
Game 2
Addison Russell (SS) broke the scoreless run of the Dodger's pitcher Rich Hill with a solo home run in the fifth inning to lead 1-0. The Dodgers responded in the bottom of the fifth with an RBI single from Justin Turner to tie it 1-1. The game remained tied until the bottom of the ninth with John Lackey pitching, Turner hit a walk-off three-run home run to win 4-1. The Los Angeles Dodgers lead the series 2-0.
Game 3
Back in Chicago, the Cubs took an early 1st inning 1-0 lead off a Kyle Schwarber (LF) home run. The Dodgers tied it in the second off an Andre Ethier (RF) home run. Chris Taylor's home run in the 3rd put LA up 2-1. Taylor tripled in another run in the 5th to make it 3-1. A walk put the Dodgers up 4-1 in the 6th.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sports: NFL (Week 5)

Enough football has been played that the teams that are going to the playoffs are just starting to distinguish themselves while some teams are showing they are not sticking around to be competitive this season. There were some great matches of top teams and nail-biting conclusions as offenses kept their cool under defensive pressure. Some teams got a bye week so other teams took advantage of their absence to move up in the standings. Pro football is getting really exciting right as more sports are beginning or ending and our politicians desperately try to retain our attention with silly national anthem gimmicks during meaningless games.

NFC
NFC West
The top two teams in this division faced off against each other this week as the Los Angeles Rams hosted the Seattle Seahawks. Of course, I played Russell Wilson as my fantasy quarterback so Seattle won with only field goals. This ties the two teams at the top but the Seahawks appear to be the better team as of now. Neither the Cardinals or the 49ers, without a win, stand much of a chance. The 49ers are at least continuing to kneel during the anthem to bring attention to racial violence which I'm glad is pissing off the VP and disrespect these foolish leaders.

NFC South
The Carolina Panthers are at the top of this division as the Falcons and Saints had a bye week. The Panthers' quarterback Cam Newton ran into controversy over the week for a flippant response to a female reporter. He rallied the controversy into success topping the Detroit Lions. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers loss to the Patriots on Thursday night because they couldn't kick a field goal.

NFC North
No one should ever count out the Green Bay Packers while Aaron Rodgers is their quarterback as he has mastered the comeback tacking down the Cowboys this week with a touchdown in the last seconds. The Detroit Lions loss to the Panthers letting Green Bay take the top spot alone. The Minnesota Vikings beat the Chicago Bears on Monday night to put the Vikings at 3-2.

NFC East
The Philadelphia Eagles showed their dominance with a resounding win over the Cardinals. The Dallas Cowboys loss to the Packers giving them a losing record. The Redskins have a bye and the Giants have yet to win a game.

AFC
AFC West
The Kansas City Chiefs look like the best team in the NFL with a high scoring win over the Texans. Thier toughest opponent is the Denver Broncos who had a bye. The Oakland Raiders lost to the Ravens and the Los Angeles Chargers beat the weak Giants for their first win.
AFC South
The Jacksonville Jaguars got a surprising blowout win over the Steelers to have the only winning record in the division. The Houston Texans loss to the Chiefs as their offense gets better but their defense suffers a crucial injury. The Tennessee Titans loss to Miami and Indianapolis Colts beat San Francisco in overtime. 
AFC North
The Baltimore Ravens crushed the Raiders to tie the Pittsburgh Steelers who lost to Jacksonville. The Cincinnati Bengals won for the second time in a row over the Bills. I don't know if the Cleveland Browns will ever be good with a fifth loss to the Jets. 
AFC East
The New York Jets moved into a three-way tie as the New England Patriots won on Thursday against Tampa Bay. The Bills blew a chance to move into first after losing to Cincinnati and the Miami Dolphins are only behind after beating the Titans because of a hurricane bye week at the start of the season.

In the week ahead, I'm looking forward to the Thursday night game between the Eagles and the Panthers and on Sunday finding out if the Jets are real against the Patriots, the Chiefs defending their undefeated record against the Steelers, and the Packers facing the Vikings. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sports: College Football (Week 6)

Major upsets have disrupted the rankings in college football this week. New teams rise to near the top while old champions hold the highest positions. Some conferences had champions who fell while others who hoped to take the crown plummeted after losses to unranked teams. Only a few more weeks until the first college football playoffs ranking and the selections are starting to distance themselves from the pretenders. I'll look at a few conferences that I didn't get a chance to highlight last week and point the teams that have helped to create the recent chaos in the rankings.

Big 12
I had to look again when I saw the score of this game but I did not expect fourth-place Oklahoma to fall to the Iowa State Cyclones. The loss drops Oklahoma out of playoff contention and the top ten. Ranking at the top of Big 12 teams is TCU who has moved up two spots from 8th to 6th after staying alive against West Virgina. The Mountaineers fell from 23rd out of the top 25. TCU still has to survive Iowa State, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and a new Big 12 championship but this conference may not have a presence in the college football playoffs this year.

Big Ten
Another surprise victory from an unranked team that shattered the hope of a rising star, the Michigan State Spartans beat their interstate rival the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan falls from ten spots from 7th to 17th while Michigan State rises into the top 25 at 21st. This Michigan loss leaves the conference title open for Penn State but they'll have to survive a three-week run of Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State after their bye week next week. They'll have to contend with a still undefeated at this point Wisconsin Badgers ranked 7th in the Big Ten Championship. 

Also benefiting from these changes also are the SEC's Georgia Bulldogs and PAC-12's Washington Huskies. Georgia will have to defeat Auburn who crept into the top ten while Washington must fight off Washington State. I'm also keeping an eye out on the Miami Hurricanes who moved up to spots to eleventh and could be an ACC challenger. Remaining at the top are the Clemson Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide both pushing for a rematch of last year's championship. No matchups stick out to me next week but most teams will be fighting for survival. Still plenty of football left to play and I have no idea what is going to happen.

Movie Review: Blade Runner 2049

This film may be one of the longest I see this year at nearly two and a half hours. Films by Denis Villeneuve move at a slow steady pace with long shots. This sequel to the 80s cult classic is gorgeous and mesmerizing as it moves around various parts of this futuristic west from trash heaps in San Diego to the red desert of an abandoned Las Vegas. Los Angeles is constantly stormy or snowing as the detection takes place in drab buildings or on dark city streets. The film begins with text informing the viewer that in the thirty years since the original film the Tyrell corporation has become bankrupt and the Wallace corporation has taken over. Officer K (Ryan Gosling) is a new version of the blade runner but also a newer model replicant. He arrives at the house of Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista), a maggot farmer. He confronts him about his identity and the two fight until K finally kills Sapper with a pistol blast to the head. Before he leaves the site, his drone notices a strange box buried beneath a tree.

K must go through tests to keep him at a baseline as they monitor the replicants more closely. Madam Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright) is K's superior officer. Other people know K is a "skinjob" and yell slurs at him or write them on his apartment door. He has a virtual woman for company, Joi (Ana de Armas). He brings home a new update that allows her to travel around but he's called back to the office before he gets to use it. The box beneath ground contained bones of a recently pregnant woman but K zooms in to find a serial number etched mysteriously on the bones. Lieutenant Joshi is disturbed by the revelation that replicants can reproduce and orders K to destroy the evidence. Tracking the serial number brings K to the Wallace corporation where he is met by the replicant Luv (Sylvia Hoeks). She identifies the number as belonging to Rachel and plays the recorder from the first film when Deckard  (Harrison Ford) tested her. 

Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) knows that replicants can reproduce but not how. He wants to obtain the technology for himself so he orders Luv to track K who goes to interview Gaff (Edward James Olmos) to learn Deckard went missing. K returns to Sapper's farm and finds a date carved on the tree that triggers a memory, one he believes to be artificial. Luv retrieves the bones from the LAPD headquarters killing a medical examiner in the process. Joshi demands results of K and asks him to relate the memory he has of hiding a wooden horse in a furnace. He also encounters the robot prostitute Mariette (Mackenzie Davis) on the streets. Tracing the date with Joi in tow, K discovers that an anomaly genetic code was housed at an orphanage. K flies out to San Diego scrapyards and is shot down by scavengers and nearly killed but Luv drops drone bombs on his attackers. K goes to the orphanage led by Mister Cotton (Lennie James).

K believes the memory is his own and real meaning that he might be the offspring of Rachael and Deckard. Joi gives him the name Joe and convinces him that there is something special about him. He goes to find out if his memory is real by talking to Dr. Ana Stelline (Carla Juri) who confirms that it is a real memory. K returns to tell Joshi that the job is done and she tells him to run. K spends time with Joi who syncs with Mariette so that he can have a physical interaction. He then sets out to trace the wooden horse and follow the trail to an abandoned Las Vegas. Luv confronts Joshi and tracks K to Vegas. K encounters Deckard and interrogates him about the past until Luv and the Wallace henchmen attack them. Luv bring Deckard back to Wallace who tries to convince Deckard to give him the information by bringing out a clone of Rachael though it does not have the right eye color. Wallace sends Luv to take Deckard off-world so that they can torture the information out of him but K, who was injured but saved by Mariette and other rebellious replicants, shoots down the flying car. He fights Luv and drowns her. K has learned that he is not the offspring of the replicant, but Dr. Stelline is Deckard's daughter. The father and daughter reunite as K bleeds out in the snow.

While Blade Runner 2049 draws out the story quite a bit, I found the mystery and world interesting enough to engage me for the almost three hours of the film. The gorgeous visuals also help propel the film forward. The relationship between K and Joi seemed like the strangest part that could have been shortened but did deal with the need for affection by these replicants. Harrison Ford was not in the film as much as I thought though Gosling does well as the leading man. Rooting for a replicant was odd but wanting to know if he was actually born was a clever twist on the original story and a neat expansion that made the film compelling. I think this sequel did well in adding to the first film and continuing to depict an imaginative world first thought of by the creative mind of Philip K. Dick. 

Movie Review: Blade Runner

I wasn't sure which version to choose but landed on the final cut for this review. I remember seeing the film at a much young age but not understanding much of it at the time. I read Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? a few years ago and enjoyed it as I do most of the author's work. The world built in Ridley Scott's film and the novel along with the complex philosophical questions proposed by this work of fiction make this piece of entertainment more engaging than just simple sci-fi or action movie. The film begins with a block of text explaining that the Tyrell Corporation has advanced artificial intelligence to a stage where they are equal if not better than humans. The resulting replicants are used in off-world colonization until a violent mutiny makes them outlaws on the planet Earth. Blade Runners are bounty hunters that hunt down these replicants.

The initial scene shows Leon Kowalski (Brion James) undergoing a strange interview about a turtle flipped over in the desert and his memory of his mother when Leon stands up and shoots the interviewer. Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is eating noodles when Gaff (Edward James Olmos) picks him up in his flying car. The skyline is enchanting and the visuals in this film are still stunning twenty-five years later. Deckard receives an assignment from Bryant (M. Emmet Walsh) over whiskey. Skin-jobs, the derisive term for replicants, have taken over a ship and snuck back on Earth. Deckard refuses because he quit the job of being a blade runner but Bryant threatens him into cooperating. Deckard is given a list of Nexus 6 replicants to hunt down and heads to the Tyrell Corporation headquarters to test the Voight-Kampff machine to see if it can identify a replicant or human.

Deckard is met by Rachael (Sean Young) who questions his motives and Dr. Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel) who asks to test the machine on Rachael. After running through the series of questions, Deckard determines that Rachael is a replicant. Tyrell has made Rachael harder to identify with fake memories. Deckard and Gaff head to Leon's address and searches his apartment finding a scale and photographs. Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) rendezvous with Leon and they go to the laboratory of Hannibal Chew (James Hong) to find out about their four-year expiration date but Chew doesn't have answers since he only designs the replicant eyes but he does give him the name of J.F. Sebastian (William Sanderson).

Deckard returns home to find Rachael waiting in the elevator. She tries to prove to him that she's a human. He tells her the memories are fake but he feels bad and tries to play it off as a joke, but she storms off anyway. Meanwhile, J.F. Sebastian encounters Pris (Daryl Hannah) and believing she's just a lost woman, he invites her into his robot-filled apartment. Deckard investigates the photograph and the scale leading him to a bar. He tries to invite Rachel out but she doesn't want to come out. He finds the snake charmer, Zhora Salome (Joanna Cassidy) and infiltrates her dressing room under false pretenses, one of the better parts of Ford's performance. She catches on his ploy, elbows him and sets off into the futuristic streets. Deckard chases her and finally shoots her through a store window. 

Bryant informs Deckard that Rachael has also escaped and that he should hunt her down. Leon assaults Deckard and nearly kills him but Rachael shoots Leon in the head. Back at Deckard's apartment, Rachael struggles with the realization that she's a replicant and proposes the idea that Deckard might not pass the Voight-Kampff test. Deckard is too exhausted to listen to her. In Sebastian's apartment, Pris has painted her face and invites Roy over. The two replicants intimidate Sebastian into taking them to the Tyrell headquarters. Roy confronts Tyrell wanting more life but Tyrell won't help him so Roy crushes his skull in his hands. Deckard goes to Sebastian's apartment and searches among the robots. Pris attacks him but Deckard manages to shoot her. Roy returns to find Pris dead and Deckard shoot at him. Roy breaks Deckard's hand but allows him a head start running away. The blade runner and replicant fight through the apartment building up onto the roof. Before Roy can kill Deckard, his lifespan expires. Deckard returns to Rachael and the two of them set out on the run. I enjoyed revisiting this film a lot and look forward to watching the sequel. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Sports: MLB Postseason (Division Series)

The final eight teams of Major League Baseball all have a chance to win the best of five games to progress to the League Championship series. There are new teams, experienced teams, teams that are used to losing, and teams that have recently won. The top teams have home-field advantage against Wild Card teams that had to survive the one game elimination the previous two nights. The other teams won their division and face each other in what should be an exciting battle of the best pitching, fielding, coaching, and hitting in the major league. All teams have their sites on the World Series but first, they'll have to make it through the ALDS or NLDS.

American League Division Series
Boston Red Sox vs Houston Astros
The Houston Astros had the best record in the American League for quite some time but a surprising streak pushed them down into second place. Still, Houston has home-field advantage and can serve as a true inspiration after the city was hit by a horrible hurricane only weeks before. The Boston Red Sox have a history of success in recent playoffs but went out early last year and were at the bottom division in previous seasons. Boston faced a challenge to their AL East title but triumphed and will head to Houston to fight for survival. I'm picking the Houston Astros to progress to the ALCS.
Game 1
This game was airing when I was starting to craft this post so I'll skip the play-by-play for this one. The Astros dominated the first game of the series with an 8-2 win. Home runs were a major reason for the success with Jose Altuve hitting three, Former Atlanta Braves catcher, Brian McCann drove in two runs with a single and Marwin Gonzalez knocked in two runs with a double. Alex Bregman also had a home run for Houston. The Red Sox only got two runs on a single from Sandy Leon and a sacrifice fly from Rafael Devers. The Houston Astros take the series lead.
Game 2
The Astros are leading this game as I write this post winning 4-1 off a two-run home run from Carlos Correa, a one-run home run from George Springer, and an RBI single from Jose Altuve. Jackie Bradley Jr. knocked in Boston's only run with a single.
The Astros broke open the score in the bottom of the sixth Alex Bregman's sac-fly, Correa's double, and Evan Gattis's single gave Houston three runs. Bradley Jr. only conjured up another run for the Red Sox but it wasn't near enough. The Houston Astros beat Boston 8-2 to go up 2-0 in the series. 
Game 3
The Boston Red Sox fight for survival but the Astros struck first with a single from Josh Reddick and a two-run home run from Carlos Correa to go up 3-0. Boston took a bite out of the lead with a Sandy Leon single to make it 3-1 in the second. The third inning had a Hanley Ramirez single and two-run home run from Rafael Devers so the Red Sox take the lead 4-3.
In the bottom of the 7th, the Red Sox broke open the game with a rally started by Hanley Ramirez hitting an RBI double with the bases loaded and Rafael Devers singling in a run. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a three-run home run to top it off and put them up 10-3. The Boston Red Sox stay alive with the series at 2-1.
Game 4
Looking to move on to the ALCS, the Houston Astros strike first with a double play that also knocked in a run for Jose Altuve to go up 1-0. Facing elimination, the Boston Red Sox responded when Xander Bogaerts homered in the bottom of the first to tie the game 1-1. Astros went up again in the second with a single from George Springer to lead 2-1. In the bottom of the 5th, the Red Sox moved ahead with a two-run home run from Andrew Benintendi to make it 3-2. The Red Sox nearly avoided elimination but in the top of the 8th, the Astros got a home run from Alex Bregman (3B) and an RBI single from Josh Reddick (RF) to go up 4-3. The Astros added a run from a pinch-hitting double by Carlos Beltran to win the game 5-3. The Houston Astros advance to the ALCS winning the series 3-1 over the Boston Red Sox. 


New York Yankees vs Cleveland Indians
With an incredible streak, the Cleveland Indians rose up to take the top spot in the American League. Despite their obnoxious name and logo, Cleveland returns for a chance at redemption after losing the World Series last year. 
Game 1
The Cleveland Indians shutout the New York Yankees in the first game of the ALDS. The Cleveland Indians scored off of right fielder Jay Bruce's two-run home and later a sacrifice fly and Bruce also scored off of a double play groundout to win 4-0.
Game 2
Probably the most exciting game of the series went 13 innings after a huge comeback from the Cleveland Indians. The New York Yankees struck first with a two-run home run from Gary Sanchez to lead 2-0. Carlos Santana singles in two runs for the Indians in response to tie the game 2-2. Cleveland took the lead on a single from Jason Kipnis to go up 3-2. In the third, a single from Starlin Castro tied the game and a three-run home run from Aaron Hicks put the Yankees up 6-3. Greg Bird hit a two-run home run in the 5th to put the Yankees up 8-3. The seemingly insurmountable lead vanished when Francisco Lindor hit a grand slam to close the gap in the bottom of the 6th inning so that the Indians only trailed 8-7. Jay Bruce homered in the 8th to tie the game 8-8. The two teams battled into extra innings until Yan Gomes singled in the bottom of the 13th so the Cleveland Indians walked off with a win over the New York Yankees 9-8. to take a 2-0 series lead. 
Game 3
A pitching duel broke out in New York as Carlos Carrasco for Cleveland faced Masahiro Tanaka for the Yankees. The game remained scoreless until Greg Bird homered in the 7th so the Yanks went up 1-0. Aroldis Chapman closed out the game for the save. The New York Yankees remained in the series at 2-1.
Game 4
The New York Yankees established their home-field advantage dominance early with a 4-run 2nd inning from a rally. Todd Frazier (3B) doubled, Aaron Hicks (CF) singled, and Aaron Judge (RF) double put the Yankees up 4-0. An error allowed Starlin Castro (2B) to score in the 3rd and the Yankees went up 5-0. The Indians got on the board in the 4th from a 2-run home run by Carlos Santana (1B) to make it 5-2. Roberto Perez (C) homered in the 5th to make it 5-3. It was all New York for the rest of the game with a sac-fly RBI by Brett Gardner in the 5th and a home run from Gary Sanchez in the 6th. The New York Yankees tied the series 2-2 with a 7-3 win. 
Game 5
The New York Yankees won two games in a row to push the series to the elimination game and they started the offense with a home run from Didi Gregorius (SS) to go up 1-0. Gregorius added two more runs with his second homer to make 3-0 in the 3rd. The Cleveland Indians finally got on the board and started to mount a come back in the bottom of the 5th with RBI singles from Roberto Perez and Giovanny Urshela to make it 3-2. The Yankees extended their lead with a Brett Gardner single and an error in the 9th to make it 5-2. The New York Yankees won three straight games to beat the Cleveland Indians and head to the ALCS.

National League Divison Series
Chicago Cubs vs Washington Nationals
The reigning World Series champions don't have home-field advantage against a red-hot NL East champion, the Washington Nationals. The Nationals have some pitching injuries that could hobble their chances and the Cubs are bringing experience along with late momentum to help them go through. I'm going with the Chicago Cubs to win this series.
Game 1
A pitcher's duel between Chicago's Kyle Hendricks and Washington's Stephen Strasburg kept the game scoreless until the top of the 6th. Kris Bryant singled in a run and was knocked in by Anthony Rizzo to put the Cubs up 2-0. Rizzo knocked in another run in the top of the 8th so the Chicago Cubs went on to win 3-0.
Game 2
Pitching was a factor once again as Jon Lester faced Gio Gonzalez. Both teams had an early home run, the Nationals' Anthony Rendon and the Cubs' Wilson Contreras to it 1-1. In the fourth, Anthony Rizzo homered for two-runs to make it 3-1. The Cubs nearly had their second victory when Bryce Harper tied up the game with a two-run home run and Ryan Zimmerman followed that with a three run home run to win the game 6-3. The Washington Nationals tied the series.
Game 3
Easily the best pitching series in the postseason, Max Scherzer of the Nationals faced Jose Quintana of the Cubs. The first run wasn't scored until the top of the 6th by Ryan Zimmerman (1B) on a double to go up 1-0. Pinch-hitting Albert Almora Jr. homered to tie the game 1-1. The Cubs went up in the bottom of the 8th with an Anthony Rizzo single to lead 2-1. The Chicago Cubs go up in the series 2-1.
Game 4
Yet another pitching duel between Stephen Strasburg, able to start again after a rain delay, and Jake Arrieta kept the score low. The Nationals scored on an error in the third to lead 1-0. Strasburg pitched seven shutout innings and a grand slam in the 8th by Michael Taylor put the Nationals up 5-0. The Washington Nationals forced a game five with a win over the Cubs.
Game 5
The Chicago Cubs struck first with a groundout RBI from Anthony Rizzo after Jon Jay's aggressive double to go up 1-0. The Nationals struck back in the 2nd with a solo home run from Daniel Murphy and a 3-run home run from Michael Taylor to make it 4-1. In the top of the third, the Cubs chipped away at the lead with a wild pitch that Wilson Contreras scored on and an RBI groundout from Addison Russell to make it 4-3. In a crazy 5th inning, a double by Russell added two runs, then a dropped ball on a strikeout by Javier Baez and an error added another run, plus a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch puts the Cubs up 7-4. Addison Russell doubled in the sixth to add another run to the Cubs lead at 8-4. The Nationals responded in the bottom of the sixth with a bases-loaded walk and a double by Daniel Murphy to close the gap to 8-6. Kris Bryant grounded out to knock in an insurance run for the Cubs in the seventh to lead 9-6. Bryce harped sac-flied in a run in the 7th and Taylor singled in a run in the 8th to make it 9-8. Wade Davis came in relief for the Cubs and closed out the game against some of their best hitters. The Chicago Cubs beat the Washington Nationals to advance to the ALCS.

Arizona Diamondbacks vs Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers have the best record in all of Major League Baseball and this is even with a huge losing streak. The Diamondbacks survived the Wild Card round and will take on their NL West rival in Los Angeles. I'm picking the Dodgers to go far this postseason so I think Arizona won't be able to stop them.
Game 1
The Dodgers shot out of the gate with a four-run first inning from a three-run home run by Justin Turner and an RBI double by Yasiel Puig to lead 4-0. The Diamondbacks responded with a solo home run from A.J. Pollock in the third to make the score 4-1. A rally in the bottom of the 4th for the Dodgers including an RBI single from Corey Seager and Justin Turner and an RBI groundout from Puig put the Dodgers up 7-1. Arizona got another run in the top of the 6th from J.D. Martinez's home run to make it 7-2. Two more Arizona home runs in the 7th from Ketel Marte and Jeff Mathis made the score 7-4. In the bottom of the 8th, the Dodgers added insurance with a Seager triple and a Turner single to make it 9-4. The Diamondbacks only got one more run on a groundout from Jake Lamb but it wasn't enough. The Los Angeles Dodgers win the first game of the series over the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-5.
Game 2
These games run a little late and while I did stay up until the end, I had to listen to the last part on the radio in bed. The Arizona Diamondbacks started early with a Paul Goldschmidt two-run home run to lead 2-0. In the second, Yasiel Puig grounded out to knock in a run to make 2-1. The Dodgers took the lead in the fourth on a wild pitch and an infield single from Chris Taylor to make it 3-2. A rally in the fifth including a Logan Forsythe single, an Austin Barnes double, and a Puig single made it 7-2. Brandon Drury pinch-hit a three-run home run to shorten the lead 7-5. It wasn't enough as the Dodgers added another run from a Chris Taylor groundout to win the game 8-5. The Los Angeles Dodgers go up 2-0 in the series. 
Game 3
I fell asleep listening to this game but saw Cody Bellinger (1B) put the Dodgers up 1-0 with a groundout. Bellinger homered in the 5th to go up 2-0. Daniel Descalso for the Diamondbacks homered in the bottom of the 5th to make it 2-1.  Austin Barnes homered for Los Angeles to put them up 3-1 in the 6th. The Los Angeles Dodgers swept the series 3-0 over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Sports: MLB Postseason (Wild Card)

The MLB playoffs are set to begin with all of the teams decided and the final games played. Two teams from each league did not have a good enough record to win their league but managed to create a chance with enough wins to enter the wild card. These two games are extra intense because every out counts when there is only one game. I remember when this was not the case and teams would just be eliminated if they didn't have they had the second-best record not to win the division. I, unfortunately, did not have time to watch enough baseball this year so my predictions will probably be totally off.

AL Wild Card
The New York Yankees were unable to win the AL East but won enough games to get home-field advantage in the American League Wild Card. The Minnesota Twins came up 2nd in the AL Central and will travel to New York to face the Yankees. New York ahs hot rookies like the home run hitting Aaron Judge in right field and are starting Luis Severino on the mound. Brian Dozier leads off for the Twins who are pitching Ervin Santana. I'm picking the New York Yankees to win this game.


1st Inning
Brian Dozier led off with a home run to put the Twins up 1-0. Minnesota wasn't done scoring in the first with Eddie Rosario hitting a two-run home run to put them up 3-0. Though the Yankees had to go to the bullpen and bring in Chad Green to pitch, the New York offense tied up the game 3-3 with a three-run home run from Didi Gregorius in the bottom of the first. 
2nd Inning
The Yankees took the lead with another home run by Brett Gardner putting them up 4-3.
3rd Inning
Byron Buxton tied the game with a fielder's choice with the bases loaded with Twins, making the score 4-4. Greg Bird singled in the bottom of the inning, putting the Yankees up 5-4.
4th Inning
Aaron Judge, a highly potential rookie of the year, hit a two-run home run to put the Yankees up 7-4.
7th Inning
The Yankees did not look back scoring one more run from a walk to Aaron Hicks to put New York up 8-4.

The New York Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins to win the AL Wild Card and will face the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS. 


NL Wild Card
The NL West dominated the standings this year and while both the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies had records that could have got them into the playoffs any other season, the Dodgers regulated them to the NL Wild Card team. The Rockies have hard-hitting Charlie Blackmon in center field and are starting Jon Gray on the mound. The Diamondbacks' offense is led by first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and their starting pitcher is Zack Greinke. I'm picking the Arizona Diamondbacks to win at home.
1st Inning
After the Diamondbacks shut down the Rockies in the top of the inning, Arizona hopped out in front with a 3-run home run from Paul Goldschmidt to lead 3-0.
2nd Inning
Ketel Marte ended Jon Gray's night with an RBI triple putting Arizona up 4-0.
3rd Inning
The Diamondbacks continued their offensive dominance with a two-run home run from Daniel Descalso to go up 6-0.
4th Inning
The Rockies finally get on the board with a single from Gerardo Parra. Mark Reynolds grounded adding another run, Jonathan Lucroy doubled to add another, and the pinch hitter Alexi Amarista singled for yet another making the score 6-4. This rally ended Zack Greinke's night pitching.
7th Inning
The Rockies moved even closer to tying the game with a sacrifice bunt by Charlie Blackmon to make it 6-5.
The Diamondbacks responded with a two-run triple by the relief pitcher Archie Bradley and go up 8-5.
8th Inning
Back-to-back home runs from the Rockies from Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story bring the lead back down to 1 run at 8-7
In the bottom of the inning, the Diamondbacks rallied to extend their lead with a triple from A.J. Pollock to score two runs and a bunt single by Jeff Mathis for another run to go up 11-7.
9th Inning 
The Rockies attempted to mount a comeback a single from Carlos Gonzalez to knocked in a run but it wasn't enough at a final score of 11-8.

The Arizona Diamondbacks defeat the Colorado Rockies to move on the the NLDS against AL West divisional rival the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Sports: NFL (Week 4)

So my first year of fantasy football has turned out to be a bad experience because I, for some reason, always play the players that have the worst games while game-winning performances sit on the bench. This week in professional football saw some teams move further ahead while others dropped further behind, like my terrible fantasy team. I'll take a look at each division and see which teams have pulled ahead while taken notice of teams that look like they are already out of the running for the playoffs.

AFC
AFC East
The Buffalo Bills knocked off one of two remaining undefeated teams, the Atlanta Falcons, to put them atop this division as the New England Patriots lost to the Carolina Panthers. The Jets struggled to win against the Jaguar in overtime while Dolphins lost to the Saints in London.

AFC North
The top two teams in this division faced off in Baltimore but the Pittsburgh Steelers took the road win over the Ravens to lead this division. The bottom two teams also matched up but the Cincinnati Bengals avoided total embarrassment by routing the terrible Cleveland Browns. 

AFC South
The Houston Texans look like the best team in this division despite three teams all tied with a 2-2 record. One of those teams, the Tennessee Titans lost badly to Houston while Jacksonville got beat by the Jets. The Colts looked the worst with another loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

AFC West
The Kansas City Chiefs won late Monday night against the Washington Redskins to be the only undefeated at this point in the season. The AFC West will be a tough division though the Oakland Raiders lost their quarterback in the loss to the Denver Broncos, probably the greatest competition to the Chiefs taking the division. The Cheifs also palyed spoiler to my first possible fantasy win as their tight end Kelce is pretty good. The Los Angeles Chargers should have remained in San Diego because they have not won a game yet losing to the Philadelphia Eagles.
NFC
NFC East
As mentioned, the Eagles beat the Chargers and with Washington's loss to the Chief, Philadelphia stands alone at the top. The Cowboys lost to the Rams but will probably be the greatest opponent to the Eagles. The New York Giants have yet to win a game as well, surprisingly disappointing for this once promising team.

NFC North
The Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions are tied at the top of this division and both teams knocked off division opponents as the Bears lost to the Packers and the Vikings lost to the Lions. It's going to be a tough battle between Green Bay and Detroit but my fantasy team is now using Green Bay's defense so I'm biased towards them. 

NFC South
The Carolina Panthers had a rough year last year after going to the Super Bowl the year before but they showed that they are not to be discounted this year by beating the reigning Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots. The Falcons had a disappointing first loss while both the Saints in London against Miami and the Buccaneers at home against the Giants looked impressive. This is going to be an interesting and competitive division this year. 

NFC West
The Los Angeles Rams are a surprising team this year after moving cities recently and taking the top of the West with an impressive win over the Dallas Cowboys. The Seahawks showed glimmers of their old team, though against a terrible Colts team. The Arizona Cardinals just barely beat their weak divisional rival the San Francisco 49ers.

Thursday night will put us right back into the action with the Patriots taking on the Bucs. I'll also be keeping an eye on the Panthers vs. Lions, Seahawks vs Rams, Packers vs Cowboys, and Chiefs vs Texans on Sunday. The NFC West and North will have a clear leader as well as a chance for the Panthers to take command in the Sout with the Falcons off. Football continues to be the greatest sport to watch despite controversy but the baseball playoffs will tug at my attention this next week.