Top 3 Chicago Bears Games to Attend this Season

Cutler has the tools to lead the league’s best passing offense. (Chicago Tribune)

NFL season is finally upon us as almost all teams have opened their training camps.  That includes the Chicago Bears who missed out on the playoffs last season for the sixth time in seven years. Second year head coach Marc Trestman impressed last season with his ability to develop the second-best scoring offense in all of football, despite quarterback Jay Cutler’s midseason injury that forced him to miss multiple games.  Nonetheless, the defense was not a bright spot for the 2013 Chicago Bears as they ranked 30th in the league, a drop from being the fifth-ranked defense in 2012.

Injuries were certainly a key element to the Bears downfall last season as cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Kelvin Hayden, alongside defensive tackles Henry Melton and Nick Collins, all missed time.  A healthy 2014 Bears team could lead to a significantly improved record, why many fans are eagerly anticipating the upcoming season.

For fans looking to see the Bears play at Soldier Field this year, there are a number of intriguing games to choose from.  They open up against the Buffalo Bills and also host the Miami Dolphins, the first time either team has made a visit to Chicago in eight years.  Tony Romo also makes an appearance as the Bears will be hosting the Cowboys on December 4th, a Thursday night showdown in the final month of the regular season.

Nonetheless, none of those games cracked our list of the top three Chicago Bears games to attend this season.  In reverse order, here they are…

3. Sunday November 23rd against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Why does an ordinary Sunday game against the non-descript Tampa Bay Buccaneers make the top three? Because the cost of tickets is lower than any other game this year.  Bears tickets begin for only $118 for this game and lower level seating starts at only $237.  The cheapest ticket for our next game on the list is $244, so you’re saving quite a bit by seeing the Bucs.  And with Tampa in rebuilding mode, there’s a good opportunity you’ll be able to see a Bears victory.

2.) Sunday September 28th against the Green Bay Packers:

There’s simply no way you can have a top games list and not include Bears vs. Packers.  Last year’s matchup was one for the ages, even though Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay broke the hearts of Chicago fans everywhere with his touchdown late in the game on fourth down.  The downside, of course, is that you’ll be paying top dollar to see these two teams play, with an average price on the secondary market of $586.

1.) Monday, December 15th against the New Orleans Saints:

The Bears always get their fair share of primetime games and the 2014 regular season schedule is no different.  Drew Brees will come to town in the middle of December for what should be a potential playoff preview played on Monday Night Football.  And the best part? Tickets currently begin for as low as $119, just a buck more than the Tampa Bay game. Sure, it can get cold at Soldier Field on a December evening, but at just $119, it’s too good of a deal to turn down.



Things to Know About the Home of the Dallas Cowboys — AT&T Stadium

As July gives way to August, we are reminded that NFL football is fast approaching.  And for fans of America’s team, training camp begins today.  The Dallas Cowboys will begin their quest for a Super Bowl championship this afternoon in Oxnard, California.  The Cowboys have been competitive over the past few years, but have come up short in the final game, all against divisional opponents.  Last year, Dallas fell short against the Philadelphia Eagles at home, just a year removed from losing to Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins on the road.  And three years ago, it was Eli Manning and the New York Giants defeating Dallas at MetLife Stadium, eventually advancing on to win the Super Bowl over the New England Patriots.

This season, Cowboys fans are hoping for better performance late in the year and, hopefully, a playoff berth. In order to do that, Dallas will have to navigate a difficult schedule that includes a home opener against the San Francisco 49ers, a Week 4 matchup with Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, as well as road games against defending champion Seattle and Chicago.

They will need to have a solid home record if they plan on advancing into the NFL playoffs, and that means Cowboys fans will need to come out in force for their eight games on the schedule this year. If you’re planning on catching a game this year, here are ten facts about AT&T Stadium, as well as the upcoming Cowboys season, that you should know.

Dez Bryant is the man in Dallas (Getty Images)

1.)    AT&T Stadium opened on May 27, 2009 with a ribbon cutting ceremony that featured Cowboys alumni such as Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin.

2.)    Though it was at the time, the four-screen, high-definition LED display that is prominently featured stretching across midfield at AT&T Stadium is no longer the world’s largest HD LED screen.  EverBank Field, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, has since taken that claim.

3.)    Speaking of that huge LED screen, the opening season at Cowboys Stadium had major concerns that punters could potentially kick the ball off the screen.  It even occurred during the preseason of 2009.  Yet, no football has ever touched the LED screen during a regular season game.

4.)    AT&T holds the naming rights to three other stadiums in the U.S.A: the AT&T Center in San Antonio, AT&T Park in San Francisco, and Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, home of the Texas Tech Red Raiders football team.

5.)    The highest get-in price for Cowboys tickets to any game this year is the home opener against the 49ers.  Currently, the cheapest ticket available at TicketCity is $152.  However, this will not be the most expensive game at AT&T Stadium over the next six months because…

6.)    AT&T Stadium is hosting the 2015 College Football Championship Game.  Tickets start at $621 currently for the game’s first ever championship game that will pit the winners of the semi-finals of the inaugural College Football Playoff.

7.)    The defending champion Florida State Seminoles will also appear at AT&T Stadium this year on August 30th in the 2014 Cowboys Classic.  Tickets are currently available for as low as $86 and the average ticket price for the game is $258.

8.)    In terms of other high profile events to take place in Arlington, Super Bowl XLV back on February 6, 2011 was hosted at AT&T with the Green Bay Packers defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25.

9.)    Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has a career 40-25 record at AT&T Stadium.  On the road? Just 35-30.

10.) Want to see the Cowboys this year but don’t want to spend a ton of money?  Disregarding preseason games, the cheapest ticket you can currently find for a Cowboys home game is on November 2nd when they host the Arizona Cardinals.  Cowboys tickets are available for as low as $35.



Top Games of the Cavs 2014-15 Season

It looks like the Cavaliers are the new force in the Eastern Conference this season after LeBron James returned to Cleveland last week. It looks like the Cavs aren’t done this off-season, with rumors swirling that they are going after Minnesota’s want-away power forward Kevin Love. The big man would be a great fit in Cleveland and they’d likely be heavy favorites to win it all this season with his help. The storylines will be plentiful for many reasons, including a few opponents that stick out as ones to circle on the calendar when the NBA schedule comes out next month.

LeBron has raised the stakes in Ohio once again. (GETTY)

Miami Heat

The Heat are going to have to move on with LeBron James this season, but they’ve brought back the rest of the big names on the team and added one more. Luol Deng will take LeBron’s spot in the lineup after signing as a free agent, and he’s a solid player — albeit one with impossibly-sized shoes to fill. His 16 points and 5.7 rebounds per game are small in comparison to Lebron’s 27 points and 6.4 rebounds. LeBron will gain the support of the Cleveland fans back pretty quickly, but how will be greeted in Miami? The Heat and Cavs could be the two best teams in the weak Eastern Conference.

San Antonio Spurs

The reigning champions have returned every player from a team that demolished the Heat in the NBA finals, and will be a force once again. You keep thinking they’ll be too old, they’ll keep on winning championships. If the Cavs pull off the trade for Love, this could be a very even match up — outside of coaching. Gregg Popovich has proven himself the best in the business, and he’ll have his Spurs ready for LeBron on the Cavs, like he did in the 2007 NBA Finals when San Antonio swept Cleveland.

Indiana Pacers

This is another possible Eastern Conference Finals match up, and the Pacers might feel this is finally their time to shine. Roy Hibbert played at his worst at a critical time and Indiana allowed the Heat into a fourth straight finals appearance, but the Pacers are a much younger team and will stay at a top level. The Cavs will be a young team outside of LeBron, and this Indiana vs. Cleveland matchup might be the one to watch for in the upcoming 3-4 years. Other teams like the Thunder, Lakers and Rockets could prove to have some great games against the retooled Cavs, but grabbing a ticket to any of the three matchups listed above would guarantee you some top-level, competitive basketball.



Ash and Swoopes Both in the Hunt at Texas?

Tyrone Swoopes might pry the job from Ash (Eric May)

The Texas Longhorns have been longing for that next great Texas quarterback since Colt McCoy was hurt in the first quarter of the 2010 National Championship game, and they still haven’t found him. Garrett Gilbert was supposed to take the torch from McCoy (to whom it was passed after Vince Young), but he fizzled out in Austin and transferred to SMU. David Ash was then the heir apparent, but he’s had mixed results and has had some recent health issues. Case McCoy had his moments, but no one on the 40 acres really saw him as a national-title contending QB before he graduated in May. The fans have grown restless, as heard by the boos that have been known to come out of the stands at DKR from time to time. The options have opened back up again before the 2014 season, so let’s take a look at who might energize the crowd in Austin this season.

David Ash will likely go into camp as the front runner for the QB job, but will Charlie Strong hold him in the same high regard that Mack Brown did? Brown gave Ash every opportunity he could, even when it was obvious Ash needed to be taken out of the game. The leash might be a lot shorter, especially with Strong trying to get the Longhorn faithful on his side early on. You don’t do that by leaving a bad quarterback in the game for too long. Ash will need to prove himself to the ex-Louisville staff and offensive coordinator Joe Wickline as well.

The other main option will be dual-threat QB Tyrone Swoopes. The sophomore got in at the tail end of five games in 2013, all with the game already in hand for either Texas, Oklahoma State, or Oregon. Swoopes had a tremendous second half at the Texas Spring game, making lots of fans wonder whether Strong is seriously considering giving him the job out of the gate. For his sake, Strong has said a decision won’t be made until right before the season.

The last, long shot option is Jerrod Heard. The freshman out of Denton is not expected to get much playing time this season, but if Ash and Swoopes don’t produce, why not? Heard is also a dual-threat guy, but he’s a very polished passer that likes to use his legs to give himself time to throw instead of just taking off down the field.

Texas fans having been aching for a quarterback to lead them back into the national title hunt, and 2014 could produce that guy if Strong is willing to take a chance on a young guy should Ash not pan out.



Major League Soccer — Players Worth the Price of Admission

The World Cup has come and gone, but unlike our European counterparts who are in the off-season, American soccer fans they can get right back into the swing of things with MLS action. For a quick catch up on what’s going on in the MLS:

- the Impact and Dynamo are bad

- the Sounders are good

- Bradley Wright-Phillips leads the league in goals

- you can’t score on Eric Kronberg

Now if you’re looking for some top tier play in the MLS, these days that’s available to you as well. There is a lot of talent in the league you wouldn’t have seen 6-7 years ago, so let’s take a look at some of the guys that are worth the price of admission.

You have a pretty good chance of seeing a Keane celebration on a nightly basis. (AP photo)

Obafemi Martins/Clint Dempsey

The Seattle Sounders strike force is a big reason why the Sounders lead Major League Soccer in goals scored, with 17 between the two. Dempsey was brought into Seattle after six season in London playing for Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur. Martins has played for Inter Milan and Newcastle United, and his partnership with Dempsey makes the Sounders the most exciting teams to watch in the league. Couple that with the great atmosphere you get at CenturyLink Field, and it’s impossible to not have a great experience at a Sounders game.

Robbie Keane

Another former Tottenham star, Keane has ripped through the MLS since his introduction to the Galaxy a few years ago. Keane has made a big impact, scoring 51 goals in 81 MLS games thus far, as well as winning two MLS Championships. Keane is a master passer as well, and he’s one of the most technically gifted players to ever come out of Ireland. When Keane, Donovan and Beckham were all on the field at the same time, it was a beauty to watch.

Jermaine Defoe

Defoe is the newest big addition to Major League Soccer, and he’s proven to be worth every dollar thus far. Another former Tottenham player, Defoe scored 152 goals in his Premier League career that spanned 16 seasons. He’s a striker in every sense, and can finish from any spot in the box. He’s diminutive in stature, but has scored 11 goals in 13 games so far in Major League soccer. He might be the best goal scorer in the league at the moment.

Thierry Henry

I’ll just leave this here.

Bradley Wright-Phillips

Another player making the move from England, Wright-Phillips comes from a pedigree of football. His dad scored over 100 goals for Arsenal in the 90s and played for the England national team, while his older brother currently plays for Queens Park Rangers after spells at Manchester City and Chelsea. This season for the New York Red Bulls, Wright has scored 17 goals to the league by three. He plays alongside the aforementioned Thierry Henry, so if you want to see good football, make your way to the New York metro area.

David Villa/Frank Lampard

These two won’t play in the MLS until next season, but they’re two huge gets for the nascent New York City FC. Villa is a top-notch Spanish striker who just feature in a Champions League final, and Lampard is a Chelsea legend. Both are being paid a lot to come to the United States, but they’ll definitely be worth the price of admission in 2015.