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Super Bowl LI Preview

2/3/2017 9:01 PM

 

 

NFL ratings are way down this year.  Thursday night games diluted any sort of exclusivity that the NFL has, and the Monday night games provided zero value.  Here in Atlanta, all that seems to be forgotten as our beloved Falcons won the NFC in spectacular fashion, and are heading to Houston to play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51.

Game: Super Bowl 51
Time: 6:30PM ET on FOX
Place: NRG Stadium, in Houston, TX
Odds: Patriots -3, O/U 58

Atlanta is a great sports town, but we only have one Championship to show for it (1995 Braves).  The Falcons win over Green Bay ranks high in terms of Atlanta sports moments, only behind the famous Sid Bream slide in 1992.  A Falcons win on Sunday would solidify Atlanta as a tier one sports town.  A Lombardi trophy would look nice in Arthur Blank’s new stadium.

To the game: The Patriots are making their seventh appearance in the Super Bowl since the Brady/Bilichick began 16 years ago.  They are favored to win, and by the sound of all the pundits, a win against the Falcons is just a formality.  However, the Falcons shouldn’t be overlooked.  Dan Quinn will be making his third Super Bowl appearance in four years, and he boasts one of the most dynamic offenses in history, with more tools than a Swiss Army knife.  This game should be great.

The quarterbacks are the most interesting storyline in this game.  Tom Brady vs. Matt Ryan.  Both are the preverbal faces of their respective franchises, and both got the Super Bowl via distinctly different paths.  Matt Ryan was squeaky clean, and managed a high-powered offense in as good a way as could be scripted.  Brady, on the other hand, missed the first four games of the season due to the deflate-gate suspension.  He never admitted fault, but took the four games to make it go away.  Since that suspension, he’s been playing like a man on a mission.  He REALLY wants to win the Super Bowl, and have Roger Goodell hand him the trophy.  

On the field, The Falcons offense is the story.  It all starts with the running game, featuring Freeman and Coleman who seem to get 6+ yards every time the touch the ball.  It’s usually a 2nd and 4, which allows Matt Ryan to pick apart the defense.  He loves to spread the ball around: if you put on a Falcons jersey and ran on the field, you’d catch a ball.  The New England offense is the usual machine, with Edelman seeming to catch almost everything that leaves Brady’s arm.  The Patriots don’t make mistakes, but they haven’t played a defense like the Falcons’.  

The Falcons’ defense is the game changer.  They know how to get stops.  Their pass rush is going to force Brady into hurried situations.  Now, he is Tom Brady, and he’s as good as there is, but getting chased around isn’t necessarily the best situation to execute a game plan.  Expect a timely pick, and a couple momentum-killing sacks by the Falcons, which will allow their offense to stay on the field.  Expect the Falcons to play the Super Bowl exactly like they played their last few games: get up early and fast, and let their defense wreak havoc.   The Patriots will put up a fight, but they won’t be able to answer.

Game Predictions:
MVP: Julio Jones.  He has 150+ yards and 2+ TD.  
Gronk plays, but is largely ineffective.  50 yards receiving.
Deion Jones wins defensive player of the game.  10+ tackles and a couple sacks.
Halftime Show: The Puppy Bowl will get more viewers than Lady Gaga.  Who cares.
Style MVP: Bilichick.  ‘Fashion Dad’ worst case scenario.

Final Score: Falcons 37 Patriots 27


Posted By Onward Reserve

 

Before we talk about Super Bowl Sunday, let’s talk about the following Monday.  You will never experience a day where more people are late to work, closing the door all morning, or postponing meetings.  The Super Bowl is a huge event – one of the most watched TV events all year.  Not to mention that it takes about five hours to play (after all the commercials and pregame/halftime festivities).  All of this is the perfect prescription for having a few too many adult beverages and an extra helping of nachos.

 

Embrace it.  Think of the Super Bowl as the adult version of Halloween.  Instead of going door-to-door looking for the goods, host a Super Bowl party so you can control the environment.  Choosing to throw a Super Bowl party shouldn’t be taken lightly.  There are certain expectations that come with having your closest friends and their friends over to watch the big game.  Here’s how to do it right:

 

  1. TV.  If you have some type of tube television, you are not equipped to host this party.  Upgrade immediately.  If your TV remote is adorned with duct tape, upgrade immediately.  The Super Bowl is to be watched in HD on some sort of LED-type television that is 50+ inches.  All the electronics places will have great deals leading up to the game, so don’t skimp.
  2. Invitations.  Send out invitations and ask for RSVPs.  It’s tough to gauge how much food/seating/beverages to supply if you don’t know how many mouths you have to feed.
  3. Seating.  Be sure that everyone has a seat.  The pregame, the game, and the postgame will take hours upon hours, and your guests won’t take floor sitting lightly.  They are leaving the comfort of their own La-Z-Boy to watch it at your party, so be sure that the accommodations are fitting.
  4. Food.  Hors Devours are easy.  Chips, dip, peanuts, finger food, etc.  Stuff that you can put out that won’t go bad.  As for the main courses, this can be a bit tricky.  While general logic says to have ‘football’ type food – hot dogs, hamburgers, nachos, pizza, etc., don’t subscribe.  Instead, show your guests your culinary skills by smoking a bunch of meat – like a few beef briskets or a couple pork butts.  You don’t want to cook something that will require a bunch of work, because you’ll want to watch the game too. Try preparing some of our Smoked Georgia Red Hot Wings.  For sides, go with the theme…baked beans, cole slaw, good buns, etc.  If you don’t feel like cooking, then have your party catered.  You’d be surprised at how cost efficient catering your event can be, especially when you consider all the clean up you don’t have to do.  The choices are limitless here... it’s your party, so you make the call.
  5. Drinks.  First, make sure you have an ample supply of non-alcoholic beverages.  It is imperative that there are more options than beer or liquor.  If you are having a large party (more than a dozen folks), it’s a good idea to ask the guests to bring their beverage(s) of choice.  Otherwise you’ll spend a fortune…  Do provide plenty of fridge space, ice, and mixers.  If it’s just a few friends, then do your duty and supply the booze.  Get a couple cases of preferred beer and/or a couple bottles of the spirit of choice.  You know your friends, and it’s best to keep them happy.  If they are worth their salt, then they’ll bring the host a generous gift in return.
  6. Décor.  Go light.  Let the new TV be the centerpiece.

 

Beyond these principles, have a little fun.  Super Bowl Box Pool is a relatively inexpensive way to get everyone invested in the game.  Have a ‘No Jerseys’ policy. The Super Bowl only happens once a year, so celebrate enough to last you until the next one.  

Posted By Onward Reserve

How to: Eggnog

12/16/2016 6:00 PM

 

This time of year, indulgences are commonplace. Whether it’s a second helping of dinner, an extra finger of bourbon, or a seasonal treat like eggnog, we are all planning on hitting the gym right in the New Year.

 

Originating in Britain quite some time ago, eggnog was a drink associated with the aristocracy. The Brits originally mixed it with brandy or sherry, but those spirits were quite expensive in newly-revolutionized 18th century America. Being the resourceful bunch that we are, we turned to domestic whiskey – bourbon in particular – as a substitute.

 

Eggnog is readily accessible. Pre-mixed cartons are available in the dairy section of any grocery store. Pour the chilled mixture in any glass with a little nutmeg on top and you are ready to go. For those that are interested in something homemade, this recipe from Alton Brown is as good as it gets. It’s an easy recipe that can be served chilled, or can be spiked with bourbon if you need to grease the Christmas party wheels:

 

Ingredients:

• 4 egg yolks

• 4 egg whites

• 1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon

• 1 pint whole milk

• 1 cup heavy cream

• 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

• 3 ounces of your favorite bourbon

 

Direction:

 

In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the 1/3 cup of sugar and continue to beat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in the whole milk, heavy cream, and grated nutmeg until combined.

 

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Beat in the one tablespoon of sugar into the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Whisk the egg whites into the chilled mixture. Chill and serve.

 

For the spiked version, add the 3 ounces of bourbon at the same time the whole milk, heavy cream, and nutmeg are added to the yolk-based mixture.

 

This recipe will make about 6 or 7 cups of eggnog.

Posted By Onward Reserve

Must-Watch Christmas Movies

12/14/2016 4:12 PM

 

 

There isn’t much better than a Christmas-themed movie. The holiday season is a great backdrop for some excellent flicks, whether it’s a classic like “A Christmas Carol” or a comedy like “Scrooged”. Christmas movies have that extra element of holiday spirit to add to the comedy, the romance, or the action flick (“Die Hard”).  Thanks to all the television networks and Netflix, you’ll have the opportunity to see any and all Christmas movies multiple times, so take advantage while you have some time off. Prop your feet up, pour yourself a tall glass of eggnog, and get to work on the remote.

 

Here is your guide to some of the best ones out there:

 

(In no particular order)

 

‘Miracle on 34th Street’ – The highly decorated 1947 film is one of the best ‘feel good’ Christmas movies out there. The real Santa (aka Kris Kringle) finds that the person hired to play Santa in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is drunk, and is in-turn hired by the beautiful Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara) to take his place. After knocking it out of the park in the parade, Kris is hired as Santa for the Macy’s store on 34th Street. Faith in the real Santa is restored in this classic…watching this one should be an annual family event.

‘A Christmas Story’ – Everyone can relate to this story. We’ve all had that one present that we couldn’t live without. For Ralphie, it’s a Red Ryder BB Gun. It’s all he can think about. While his behavior leading up to Christmas doesn’t warrant such a gift, he is pleasantly surprised on Christmas morning when his dad surprises him with the BB gun. Predictably, it doesn’t end well – for Ralphie’s glasses or for their Christmas dinner, which is ultimately celebrated at a Chinese restaurant.

 

 

 

 

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ – This is not only a great Christmas movie, but one of the best films ever made. Donna Reed and James Stewart star in the 1946 film about seeing what would happen if things would have been different. George Bailey (Stewart) gets to see what happens to his town of Bedford Falls, NY without him via his guardian angel Clarence Odbody. After a change of heart, George finds great fortune, and an angel gets his wings…

 

‘Elf’ – Some of Will Ferrell’s best work. Farrell stars as Buddy the Elf, who is adopted and raised as a six-foot tall elf at the North Pole. Papa Elf (Bob Newhart) reveals to Buddy that he isn’t a real elf, much to Buddy’s she-grin, and that his real father lives in New York City. Buddy tracks him down, starting the main plot of the movie – winning his dad’s favor and bringing the spirit back to Christmas. Highlights: Buddy’s reaction to the department store Santa (“You stink. You smell like beef and cheese. You don’t smell like Santa.”), Buddy’s reaction to the little-person author (“he’s an angry elf”), and the best way to answer the phone this holiday season: “Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?”

 

 

‘Christmas Vacation’ – If there were rankings, this would be number one. Numero Uno. The National Lampoon movie was an instant classic as soon as it was released in 1989. We’ve all be quoting Cousin Eddie lines for as long as we can remember.  The premise is a Christmas worst-case scenario when both sets of in-laws visit for the holidays, as well as an unannounced visit from a ‘salt-of-the-Earth’ unemployed cousin who’s holding out for a management position. After a destroyed house, a ruined turkey, and a one-year membership to the ‘Jelly of the Month Club’, all ends well for the Griswalds.

 

 

 

 

Posted By Onward Reserve

 

How great is this time of year?  Every weekend there are gridiron battles in the greatest Southern towns.  Fanatical fans, hopeful alumni, pledges guarding seats adorn the football stadiums, and the play on the field will be discussion on sports talk radio and around the water cooler for the next few months. 

 

There’s nothing like seeing a live college football game.  TV coverage gets better and better, but it will never replace being there, and the impact to ALL the senses.  We’ve dug through the schedules, and come up with the perfect road trip that hits all the right towns for all the right games.  Gas up and let’s go:

 

September 3rd: Clemson vs. Auburn in Auburn, Alabama.  It could be argued that Auburn is the best SEC campus for tailgating.  With that said, start the road trip out right.  This should be a better game than most are giving credit.  Prediction: Clemson rolls 41-23.

 

September 10th:  NC State vs. East Carolina in Greenville, North Carolina.  DO NOT SLEEP on Greenville, NC, folks.  It is as good a college football environment as there is.  Not to mention there is plenty of good golf…and BBQ.

 

September 17th: Alabama vs. Ole Miss at Oxford, Mississippi.  The ‘Frat Bowl’.  Alabama will be #1 or #2 in the country, and Ole Miss will be fighting off sanctions.  It’ll be a great game on the field, but Bama pulls ahead in the 4th quarter and wins by 10. 

 

September 24th: Florida vs. Tennessee at Knoxville, Tennessee.  No football season road trip is complete without a trip to Knoxville.  Take a boat if you can…  The SEC East is going to be very fun to watch this year, and the winner of this game will get a quick upper hand.  The Gators steal one in Knoxville.

 

October 1st:  Georgia Tech vs. Miami in Miami, Florida.  This could end up being a great game.  Add that to a late fall beach trip where you could get out and do some fishing as well…take advantage!

 

October 8th:  Virginia Tech vs. North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  This trip is as much about enjoying Chapel Hill as it is seeing a football game.  It’s a must-see on any southern road trip.

 

October 15th:  Missouri vs. Florida in Gainesville, Florida.  Even though the Gators are going to stomp Missouri, seeing a game in The Swamp is a memory worth making. 

 

October 22nd:  North Carolina vs. Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia.  This is the highly educated bowl.  Immerse in the culture, and the beauty of Charlottesville.  You’ll put this one on your list every year.

 

October 29th:  Clemson vs. Florida State in Tallahassee, Florida.  This is the biggest ACC game of 2016.   Both teams should come into this game undefeated, and it will be a very high scoring affair.  Tallahassee will measure on the Richter scale.  Clemson wins by a touchdown.

 

November 5th:  Alabama vs. LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  This is the biggest SEC game of 2016, and it’s in the loudest stadium in the Southeast.  The winner of this game has the inside track to represent the SEC West in Atlanta.  It’s impossible to predict this game.  Impossible.

 

November 12th:  Auburn vs. Georgia in Athens, Georgia.  How does heading to the greatest college football town in the south to see the South’s oldest rivalry sound?  The game is good, but it gives you a chance to stop in Onward Reserve’s first store.

 

November 19th:  Ole Miss vs. Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee.  This one is for the trip to Nashville.  What a great town, and Vandy is positioned just right.   Ole Miss will bring a huge crowd, and downtown will be rocking.

 

November 26th: Auburn vs. Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  This has become the Mecca of college football.  With all of Saban’s success and all the championships, this place is what winning feels like in 2016.  Pay homage. 

 

December 3rd: The SEC Championship in Atlanta.  The city does an excellent job of hosting the most important conference championship in the country.  Not to mention that both of these teams may very well make it to the final four…

 

What did we miss?  Where are you heading this fall?

Posted By Onward Reserve
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