The Future of Sports Consoles
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Since the earliest gaming platform came out, programmers and designers have always been trying to one-up each other (and themselves) each year by delivering a more interactive and realistic gaming experience. Sports games are notoriously difficult to make playable, which is perhaps why every year studios attempt to hone their pre-existing model with something even better. Both hockey and soccer seem to have pushed themselves to the front of the line in recent years, with corporate sponsorships from the NHL and FIFA allowing them to push the boundaries.
The most notable changes to hockey and soccer games has been advances in how a player is able to control and entire team. This has involved easier methods of switching between players (for instance, when you pass the ball to a designated player, being able to switch to the receiving player with the click of a button). Many games have suffered from clumsy interactions between the players on the screen, especially soccer games where the gameplay is constantly shifting and which makes for difficult transpositions.
Another has been trying to incorporate the feel of the sport into the game – many golf games are successful not just because of their gameplay, but because they’re able to take the player onto the golf course and give them the impression of actually being there. Likewise, the audio in FIFA and NHL games is crucial. When you bicycle kick the ball into the net, not only do you hear the fans roar with applause, but the announcer is just as excited.
Another key movement in the world of sports games has been, again thanks to sponsorship and the assistance of actual athletes, realistic portrayals of players. Using mapping techniques and with graphics that are unprecedented in terms of being able to render human faces, you can now in a very literal sense step into the skates of Wayne Gretzky or golf shoes of Tiger Woods. Although perhaps this appears as a merely decorative addition, the ability to play with players who actually look like the real athletes makes for an increasingly immersive experience.
On top of this, sports has always had a certain psychological niche in the minds of fans. People have been betting on hockey-pools and fantasy leagues since the game’s inception, and it will be interesting to see where technology will take us. It’s conceivable that in the future fantasy football, hockey, basketball, and soccer could just as easily be rendered for us in a videogame.
Although we’re still a long way off in making gaming completely digitalized, the level of realism we’ve seen in the past five years can only be expected to increase, and both gamers and fans alike are at the forefront of this experience. However, it’s also interesting to think about how this will affect the actual sport itself, if at all. There is little chance that we will start to enjoy the virtual more than an actual soccer match, and it’s the relationship between the two – being able to see a soccer game, and then play it – that allows both the sport and its videogame counterpart to work so well together.
Can the Kansas City Chiefs keep it going?
The Kansas City Chiefs had the top pick in the latest NFL draft, and now they’re sitting at 7-0 with everyone calling Andy Reid a genius. But are they really that good, and does this make them a good bet in Vegas?
Andy Reid deserves a ton of credit for turning around this team. Everything revolves around the defense, where the Chiefs already had a lot of talent. They play very aggressive defense and they’v been causing a ton of turnovers. With the defense being the core, Reid went out and got Alex Smith to fit into his natural role as a game manager. The Chiefs love to run the ball, and then they don’t ask Smith to take any chances. This conservative approach has been critical to their success so far this season.
Still, is this sustainable? With an excellent defense they of course will be a contender all season long. But will they keep getting the critical turnovers? There’s always some luck associated with that. The Chiefs have had the good fortune of playing some terrible football teams. Also, they’ve faced a string of backup quarterbacks in Case Keenum and Ryan Fitzpatrick, and this week they get Jason Campbell. Later this year reality may set in as they will face Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning twice, Philip Rivers twice and RG3.
Then we have the issue of the offense. How long can they ride Alex Smith and his low yards per attempt numbers?
If you look at the NFL lines this week you’ll see the Chiefs as a 7.5 favorite over the Cleveland Browns. This game is interesting for a number of reasons. With Campbell starting, it’s really impossible to predict what we’ll see with the Cleveland offense. If he’s rusty or plays like he did last year, the Chiefs will have another win to celebrate. But if he can be a competent quarterback like the guy who was 4-2 in 2011 with the Raiders before getting hurt, then the Browns be come a formidable opponent.
The Browns do have an aggressive defense, and DC Ray Horton has promised to let them get more aggressive this week now that they’re healthy. And while he didn’t say it, Alex Smith is no Aaron Rodgers. The Browns will likely stack the box and blitz often in order to stuff the running game and dare Smith to throw passes downfield.
So be careful of this game. With the large spread this one seems like a coin flip that will turn on the unpredictable play of Jason Campbell. And if you’re in a n elimination pool, then this is a classic trap game. It should be a fun one to watch.
Posted in: NFL
Tags: Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith, Andrew Luck, Andy Reid, Case Keenum, Jason Campbell, Kansas City Chiefs., Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Ray Horton, RG3
NFL Week 8 Free Picks
Bills vs. Saints, 1:00PM ET
Even with Jimmy Graham likely to miss the game with a foot injury, the Saints offense should score plenty against a Buffalo defense that allows 25.4 points per game. Conversely, the Bills haven’t had issues reaching pay dirt themselves, as they’re the only team in the NFL that has scored at least 20 points per contest. The over is 5-1 in Buffalo’s last six games overall and 6-0 in New Orleans’ last six games following a bye week.
FREE PICK: Over 48
49ers vs. Jaguars, 1:00PM ET
The Jaguars have been a disaster this season and the Niners are rounding into the same form that made them NFC title champs a season ago. That said, San Francisco hasn’t been home in two weeks after its players traveled to Tennessee last Sunday and then hopped a flight directly after that to head to London for today’s game. With all of that traveling, plus an inflated spread due to Jacksonville’s overall ineffectiveness, the Jags should cover today over seas. The Niners are 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games versus a team with a losing record and are due to have a letdown.
FREE PICK: Jaguars +17
Redskins vs. Broncos, 4:25PM ET
The over has cashed every week in Denver games and there’s no reason to believe the combined score won’t sail over again with Washington in town today. Over the past three weeks RGIII has looked more like the dynamic player he was a year ago as he’s beginning to have more success as a runner. He’s still highly inaccurate but the Redskins racked up 45 points last Sunday on the Bears and should have success today versus a Broncos defense that has struggled. The over is 4-1 in the last five meetings between these two teams and while the total is set high for this contest, both teams should reach the 30s.
FREE PICK: Over 57.5
Falcons vs. Cardinals, 4:25PM ET
Atlanta is highly banged up but will get running back Steven Jackson back this week after he missed over a month with a hamstring injury. The Falcons proved a week ago versus Tampa Bay that they can still move the ball effectively thanks to Matt Ryan’s ability to find weaknesses in the defense and get the ball out of his hand quickly. On the flip side, Bruce Arians is having a difficult time with his offense. The line has had massive issues protecting quarterback Carson Palmer, who is turning the ball over on a game-by-game basis. Atlanta’s pass rush has been non-exsistent this year but it should drum up enough pressure to keep Arizona’s offense at bay for another week. The Cardinals are just 2-10-1 against the spread in their last 13 games in October while the Falcons are 5-1 ATS in their last six games in Week 8.
FREE PICK: Falcons +1
Tags: Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, football free picks, free picks, Jacksonville Jaguars, jimmy graham, New Orleans Saints, nfl free picks, NFL London, RGIII, San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins
Bud Light NFL Fans Superstition Survey
Bud Light – the official beer of the NFL – recently conducted a survey to find the most superstitious fans in the NFL.
More than 9,500 interviews were fielded among the 32 NFL team fan bases, including approximately 300 fan interviews per team.
More than 50 questions were asked and, out of that, an “NFL Fan Superstition Index” formed. The index calculates the superstition level of each NFL fan base by each fan’s game-day habits – everything from wearing dirty jerseys, chanting and kissing team trinkets to superstition consistency and true belief levels – and aggregates those into a score from 0 to 100. In addition to ranking the teams, the survey also gathered open-ended responses from fans about their individual superstitious activities.
The result is a fascinating glimpse inside the minds of NFL fans who will do whatever it takes for the win. After all, it’s only weird if it doesn’t work:
- Super Bowl and superstition champions: Baltimore Ravens fans rank as the most superstitious in the NFL.
- That’s dedication: Carolina Panthers fans are four times more likely than the average NFL fan to have a relationship end due to their game-day superstitions (8% versus the NFL fan average of 2%).
- New Orleans Saints fans are most likely to say a certain saying, phrase, cheer or song for the win (37%).
- New York Jets fans are most likely to try to curse or jinx the opposing team (37%).
- Some quality me time: Detroit Lions fans are most likely to engage in superstitious activities alone (30%).
- Lucky duds: Oakland Raiders fans are most likely to wear the same article of clothing (51%) or same hat or non-clothing accessory (38%) to boost team performance.
- Arizona Cardinals fans are most likely to grab a Bud Light for the win; 27% incorporate the official beer sponsor of the NFL into their game-day superstitions or rituals.
To check out stats relating to YOUR favorite NFL team, follow this link.
College Football Week 8, NFL Week 7 Free Picks
USC vs. Notre Dame, 7:30PM ET
Last year this was the marquee matchup back in November as Notre Dame was on a mission to play for a national title. This year, it’s merely a game on the Week 8 schedule as both teams are 4-2 and fighting for bowl contention. The Trojans finally showed some life under interim coach Ed Orgeron in a 38-31 win over Arizona that wasn’t as close as the final score would indicate. Nelson Agholor caught seven passes for 161 yards while Javorius Allen rushed for two touchdowns in the victory. Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish have been out-gained in each of their previous three games and has been inconsistent offensively this year with Tommy Rees under center. Notre Dame is 3-7 against the spread in its last 10 games following an ATS win and 1-5-1 against the number in its last seven games overall. Look for the Trojans to win outright.
FREE PICK: USC +3
Minnesota vs. Northwestern, 12:00PM ET
The Wildcats have been leaking oil for two weeks now. They fought like hell in a 40-30 loss to Ohio State before being blown out by Wisconsin in a brutal 35-6 showing in Madison last Saturday. On the other side, the Golden Gophers have scored just 20 points in their last two games combined, losing to both Iowa and Michigan before taking a much-needed bye last week. This isn’t a sexy matchup but there’s value to be gained in the underdog Minnesota, which has high hopes to reach a bowl game this season. Northwestern is 0-4 against the spread in its last four games overall and 1-5 ATS in its last six games following an ATS loss.
FREE PICK: MINNESOTA +12
Bengals vs. Lions, 1:00PM ET
The Lions have won two of their last three games but they’ve also been out-gained in their last three contests, including in last Sunday’s 31-17 win over the Browns. Matthew Stafford hasn’t thrown for more than 262 yards in each of his last three games and he could have a tough time moving the ball efficiently against an underrated Cincinnati defense. Meanwhile, the Bengals suffered a scare last weekend in Buffalo but they should be more prepared for this Sunday’s road test. The Bengals are 10-4-1 against the spread in their last 15 games overall and 4-0 ATS in their last four games after accumulating more than 250 yards passing in their previous game.
FREE PICK: CINCINNATI BENGALS +1
49ers vs. Titans, 4:05PM ET
The 49ers will travel to Tennessee on Sunday before heading overseas to face the Jaguars in London next weekend. That makes this game a prime letdown spot for San Francisco, which hasn’t been nearly as dominant on defense without star pass-rusher Aldon Smith. The Titans have been hampered offensively by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, but their defense has been outstanding when it comes to generating pressure and takeaways. Tennessee is 5-1-1 against the spread in its last seven games overall and 4-0-1 ATS in its last five games following a straight up loss. Look for the Titans to keep things close, just as they did last Sunday in Seattle.
FREE PICK: TENNESSEE TITANS +4