*NFL WEEK 5 RECAP (2021 Season)

It was beyond distressing to watch our defense allowed score after score. I don’t know what Ron Rivera needs to do to address this problem, but this roster of top draft picks and big-name free agents has to start playing as a cohesive unit ASAP. 

The lackluster effort to defend the hail mary throw by Jameis Winston at the end of the 2nd quarter was embarrassing. 

The offense was inconsistent. Heinicke had a rough game throwing zero TDs and 2 picks. McKissick had 8 yards receiving and -1 rushing, a ridiculous stat for such a dynamic player. 

Week to week, Antonio Gibson continues to be our best offensive weapon. In addition, veteran receiver slash returner DeAndre Carter has emerged as a legitimate receiving threat to compliment Terry Mclaurin and Adam Humphries.

Ricky Seal-Jones is filling in nicely for Logan Thomas. But he needs to get more involved in the red zone.

Next Sunday, Washington hosts Kansas City. The Chiefs are a wounded team, with many deficiencies on defense. We should be able to move the ball and score on them; However, Patrick Mahomes might throw a party of our unreliable secondary; unless we make some urgent adjustments. 

A win over Kansas City could go a long way to change the course of our season.

WFT 22 — SAINTS 33

COWBOYS 44 — NY GIANTS 20

Dallas has got to be the luckiest team in the entire NFL. Daniel Jones left the game in the 2nd quarter when the game was 10-14. On top of all of that, NY had no Saquon Barkley, and because of injuries, they had to play musical chairs on the OL. So the Cowboys got another lucky break. Next week Dallas visits New England. Advantage, New England Patriots.

I root blue twice a year when the NY Giants play Dallas (the team I despise the most). The Giants will have no chance this season without Danny Dimes and Saquon Barkley. Next week, NY hosts the LA Rams. Advantage, LA Rams. 

EAGLES 21 — PANTHERS 18

The Eagles were able to hang on long enough for Carolina to self-destruct. Jalen Hurts showed how dynamic he could be with his legs. This was a massive win for Philly. Next up, Philly hosts Tampa Bay. Advantage, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Not having McCaffrey and a banged-up OL is a big part of Carolina’s two-game losing streak. Sam Darnold threw 3 picks and looked shaky, trying to do way too much. Next up, Carolina hosts Minnesota. Advantage, Minnesota Vikings. 

LA RAMS 26 — SEAHAWKS 17

The Rams played a well-balanced game here. Darrell Henderson Jr and Sony Michel combined for 117 yards with 28 carries. This was a solid bounce-back game for LA. Next week LA visits the NY Giants. Advantage, LA Rams

Seattle lost Russell Wilson to a finger injury — Geno Smith came in and looked pretty good. Wilson will be out for at least 4 weeks, which will be interesting to see how this will impact Russell Wilson’s future in Seattle at the end of the season. Next week, Seattle visits Pittsburgh. Advantage, Pittsburgh Steelers.

BUFFALO 38 — CHIEFS 20

This was supposed to be the most challenging game for Buffalo on the 2021 schedule, but the Bills made it look easy. Monster game for Josh Allen; he threw for over 300 yards with 3 TDs and rushed for 59 yards with 1 rushing TD. The Bills are looking like the best team in the NFL. Next up, Buffalo visits Tennessee. Advantage, Buffalo Bills. 

Patrick Mahomes losing Clyde Edwards-Helaire to injury early in the game made a huge difference here. And their defense could not figure out a way to stop Josh Allen. So it is time for Kansas City to press the panic button. Next up, Kansas City visits Washington. Advantage, WFT.

CHARGERS 47 — BROWNS 42

The LA Chargers might just be the surprise team of the year, and Justin Herbert is looking like an elite QB. They are now 4-1 and the clear-cut favorite to win the AFC WEST. Next week, LA visits Baltimore. Advantage, LA Chargers.

Cleveland threw everything they had on LA, turning this game into a wild shootout. Baker Mayfield had a great game, but a couple of crucial 3 and outs was the difference maker here. There is no reason to overreact with his loss; the Browns are still a dangerous playoff team. Next week, Cleveland hosts Arizona. Advantage, Arizona Cardinals. 

CARDINALS 17 — 49ERS 10

Arizona was kept in check by a solid San Francisco defense. This game was close and came down to one score. The Cardinals are now 5-0 and looking like the most dangerous team in the NFC. Next week, Arizona visits Cleveland. Advantage, Arizona Cardinals. 

San Francisco should not be too concerned with this 3-game losing streak, and Trey Lance will be lighting up the league soon enough. Kyle Shanahan has a better version of RGIII in his offense. Next week, San Francisco has their bye week. 

BUCCANEERS 45 — DOLPHINS 17

It was a career day for Tom Brady, throwing over 400 yards with 5 TDs and zero picks. The Bucs are putting together solid wins and putting themselves in a position to run away with the NFC SOUTH. Next up, Tampa Bay visits Philly. Advantage, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Brian Flores had a history of having Brady’s number, but Brady threw a party on Miami this time around. Jacoby Brissett needs to get some better help from the running game to have a chance at winning some games this season. Next up, Miami goes to London to take on the winless Jaguars. Advantage, Miami Dolphins.

BEARS 20 — RAIDERS 9

Chicago is alive and well in the NFC North at 3-2. Justin Fields didn’t have to do much to win this game. Chicago controlled this game by rushing the ball effectively and limiting any potential mistakes by their rookie QB. Next week, Chicago hosts Green Bay. Advantage, Green Bay Packers.

Well, Jon Gruden is out as the head coach, and things will not be pretty for Raider Nation from now on. Also, The Raiders should be highly concern about their lack of running game and defensive woes. They have lost 2-straight games and risk falling behind in the AFC WEST. Next week, Las Vegas visits Denver. Advantage, Denver Broncos.

VIKINGS 19 — LIONS 17

The Vikings barely survived to win this game with a 54-yard field goal with a few seconds left in the game to save their season. Next week, Minnesota visits Carolina. Advantage, Minnesota Vikings.

This was a heartbreaking loss for Detroit, and they are now 0-5. They need to find ways to put together some wins and build towards next season. Next week, Detroit hosts Cincinnati. Advantage, Cincinnati Bengals. 

FALCONS 27 — NY JETS 20

Matt Ryan and Kyle Pitts are starting to click, and Atlanta has life at 2-3 for the season. Next up, Atlanta has their bye week.

The NY Jets put together some scoring drives late in the game to make things interesting, but Atlanta is just better than their record shows. Next up, the NY Jets have their bye week.

TITANS 37 — JAGUARS 19

Tenessee will most likely win the AFC SOUTH, and Derrick Henry continues to dominate on the ground, rushing for 130 yards with 3 TDs. Next up, Tennessee hosts Buffalo on Monday night. Advantage, Buffalo Bills. 

Jacksonville is 0-5, but not all is lost. They seem to be getting better QB play from Trevor Lawrence every week. The critical factor here is RB James Robinson; Jacksonville needs to continue to get him more involved as they did in this game. Next up. Jacksonville stays in London to take on Miami. Advantage, Miami Dolphins. 

PATRIOTS 25 — TEXANS 22

New England struggled, and it took a field goal in the final seconds of the 4th quarter to pull away and secure the win. Unfortunately, Mac Jones is not looking as good as he did early in the season. Next week, New England Hosts Dallas. Advantage, New England Patriots.

Houston let this game getaway. Davis Mills had an effective game throwing for over 300 yards with 2 TDs and zero picks. New England kept Houston’s running game in check for most of the game, but WR Chris Moore stepped up from the practice squad to put up some impressive numbers. Next week, Houston visits Indianapolis. Advantage, Indianapolis Colts. 

PACKERS 25 — BENGALS 22

Missed field goals were the big story here. Mason Crosby missed 3 field goals and finally made a 49-yarder to put this game away. The Packers are now 4-1 and on top of the NFC NORTH. Next up, Green Bay visits Chicago, Advantage, Green bay Packers.

Joe Burrow and Ja’marr Chase are becoming a dangerous combination. Cincinnati is now 3-2 and still in a good spot to challenge for the AFC NORTH. Next up, Cincinnati visits the 0-5 Lions. Advantage, Cincinnati Bengals.

STEELERS 27 — BRONCOS 19

Big Ben got some much-needed help from the running game, and it made a huge difference. Najee Harris rushed for 122 yards, and because of this, the rest of the offense was more effective. Next week Pittsburgh hosts Seattle without Russell Wilson. Advantage, Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Broncos have lost 2 games in a row, and their schedule is about to get a little tougher with upcoming games against Vegas, Cleveland, Washington, and Dallas in the next 4 weeks. However, Denver has some good pieces on both offense and defense to make things interesting. Next week, Denver hosts Las Vegas Riders without Jon Gruden. Advantage, Denver Broncos. 

RAVENS 31 — COLTS 25

It was a thrilling Monday night game. Baltimore got hot in the 4th quarter, putting up 16 unanswered points to take this game into OT. The AFC NORTH is becoming as competitive as the AFC WEST. Next up, Baltimore hosts the LA Chargers. Advantage, LA Chargers.

The Colts kicker, Rodrigo Blankenship, is one of the most reliable kickers in the league; however, he was dealing with a hip injury throughout most of the game, which cost him to miss a few kicks, and ended up making all the difference in the final score. Next up, Indianapolis hosts Houston. Advantage, Indianapolis Colts.

*NFL WEEK 4 RECAP (2021 Season)

The Washington Football Team wins 34-30. This was a make-or-break game for Washington, a game that could have sent our season spiraling down a black hole of misery. However, Washington found a way to win — it wasn’t a pretty win, but in the NFL, wins are hard-to-come and this was a must-win for us.

The legend of Taylor Heinicke continues with a solid performance, throwing for 290 yards with 3 TDs and zero picks. Terry McLaurin and JD McKissic are playing at an elite level. They are both making spectacular, game-changing plays. 

I sense we have something special brewing in our offense. I was happy to see key players like Adam Humphries, Dyami Brown, Curtis Samuel, and Ricky Seal-Jones getting more targets… we just need to get them more involved, and this offense will be special.

It was a bummer to lose Logan Thomas early in the game; I hope his injury is not severe and can come back soon. If Thomas is a no-go for next week, then expect Ricky Seals-Jones to get more targets, and I don’t think they will activate Sammis Reyes just yet. Also, Brandon Scherff is banged up and will be out for 2-3 weeks — it seems like our OL depth will be tested earlier than I expected.

Our Defense is obviously not playing up to the level we all predicted. But our secondary seems to be the biggest issue here. We are getting killed through the air, and the entire secondary is out of sync, and they have become our weakest link; they are not playing as a cohesive unit, and this needs to be addressed immediately.

We lost Jon Bostic and Terry McTyer for the season. We will see how Ron Rivera adjusts the defense around these two losses. 

Washington is now 2-2 and about to go through a murderous row of dangerous teams. Next up, we host an inconsistent 2-2 New Orleans Saints loaded with talent. The Football team needs to win this game convincingly. Advantage, Washington.

WFT 34 — FALCONS 30

and for the rest of the NFL…..

COWBOYS 36 — PANTHERS 28

Dallas caught Carolina without some of their crucial weapons and still struggled to pull away. Nevertheless, Dallas’s record is a mirage; they will crumble soon enough. Next week, Dallas hosts the NY Giants. Advantage, Dallas cowboys.

Carolina will continue to struggle without McCaffrey, but I believe Sam Darnold will figure out a way to win some games here and there. Next week, Carolina takes on Philadelphia. Advantage, Carolina Panthers. 

GIANTS 27 — SAINTS 21

The NY Giants got their first win of the year in overtime, overcoming a deficit and some up and down QB play from Danny Dimes. Next week, NY visits Dallas. Advantage, Dallas Cowboys. 

New Orleans is very close to pushing the panic button if they don’t start winning some games soon. Next week, New Orleans visits Washington. Advantage, Washington.

EAGLES 30 — CHIEFS 42

The Chiefs were supposed to win this game, but going into the 4th quarter, this game was close, which should cause concern for Kansas City. The defense is allowing 31.25 points per game, and the offense has to make up the deficit. Next up, Kansas City takes on the Buffalo Bills at home. Advantage, Kansas City Chiefs. 

Jalen Hurts was excellent here, throwing for almost 400 yards with 2 TDs, zero picks, and rushed for 47 yards. The Eagles came out of multiple scoring drives with no points, and it made the difference at the end of this game. Next week, Philadelphia visits Carolina. Advantage, Carolina Panthers.  

CHARGERS 28 — RAIDERS 14

Justin Herbert looked fantastic against this highly regarded Raiders defense. Austin Ekeler was dominant running and receiving for a total of 145 yards and 2 TDs. The Chargers are 2-0 against their division, and when it is all set and done, they might end up winning the AFC WEST. Next week, LA hosts Cleveland. Advantage, LA Chargers.

The Raiders got behind early and could not catch up. Derek Carr tried to push some throws into difficult spots and got away from the run. They should have utilized Peyton Barber and Josh Jacobs better, but this wasn’t the case. Next week, Las Vegas hosts Chicago. Advantage, Las Vegas Raiders. 

COLTS 27 — DOLPHINS 17

The Colts got their first win of the season against a Miami team slowly falling apart. Carson Wentz played well, throwing 2 TDs and zero picks. The running game was effective; both running backs Jonathan Taylor and Marlon Mack combined for 26 carries. Next week, Indianapolis goes to Baltimore. Advantage, Baltimore Ravens.

Miami was supposed to be better than what they’ve shown so far this season. They have good weapons on offense and what seems to be a solid defense. However, I still feel that Jacoby Brissett is a better QB option for Miami than Tua. The Dolphins have to commit to their running game better to give Brissett a chance. Only 8 carries for their top running back is not a recipe for success. Next week, Miami takes on Tampa Bay, and the good thing is that Brian Flores has a history of success against Tom Brady. Advantage, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

BILLS 40 — TEXANS 0

Buffalo was too much for Houston and Davis Mills to handle. The Bills look like a well-balanced team; Buffalo’s offense averages 33.5 points per game and has allowed 11 points in the first 4 weeks of the season; extremely impressive. Next up, Buffalo has a primetime game visiting Kansas City. Advantage, Kansas City Chiefs.

Embarrassing loss for Houston — and things will remain pretty bad for them unless they get Tyrod Taylor back. The Texans should probably consider bringing Cam Newton in to add some spark to their offense. Next up, Houston takes on Belicheater. Advantage, New England Patriots. 

NY JETS 27 — TITANS 24

Overtime victory for the Jets — Rookie QB Zach Wilson and rookie Head Coach Robert Saleh won their first NFL career game against a very good Titans team. This was a significant victory for a struggling team looking to build some confidence and rhythm this season. Next up, the NY Jets travel to London for an overseas game against 1-3 Atlanta. Advantage, Atlanta Falcons.

Tennessee should have won this game; they had plenty of red-zone chances but came out empty. Not having Julio Jones and A.J. Brown made a huge difference here. Next up, Tennessee visits the 0-4 Jacksonville Jaguars. Advantage, Tennessee Titans

CARDINALS 37 — LA RAMS 20

Kyler Murray is slowly but surely becoming an elite QB, and Arizona looks like a legit contender. They are now 4-0 and in an excellent position to win their NFC WEST Division. Next week, Arizona hosts a wounded 49ers team. Advantage, Arizona cardinals.

Matt Stafford wasn’t really the issue here in the loss; the Rams struggled in every area of this game. Depth will be an issue all season long for LA. When they were healthy, and at full strength, they looked unstoppable. They are missing key players, and Arizona was too much to overcome. Next week, LA visits 2-2 Seattle looking to get into the running for the division. Advantage, Seattle Seahawks. 

SEAHAWKS 28 — 49ERS 21

Seattle turned it up in the 3rd quarter and held San Francisco back from getting back into this game. The Seahawks caught plenty of breaks against San Francisco, and they seem to be getting a similar injury-riddled team next week against the LA Rams. Advantage, Seattle Seahawks. 

San Francisco lost Jimmy G to injury early in the game, and we got to see Trey Lance come in. Lance looked shaky at first but got settled as the game went on. The injuries will continue to plague San Francisco, but the addition of Trey Lance will add a different dynamic to Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Next week, San Francisco visits Arizona. Advantage, Arizona Cardinals. 

BUCCANEERS 19 — PATRIOTS 17

Tom Brady was thrown everything Belicheater could throw at him, and it almost worked for New England. Finally, it came down to a missed field goal to pull off the well-deserved victory for Tampa Bay. Next up, Tampa Bay takes on a Miami team coach by Brian Flores that knows how to rattle Tom Brady. Advantage, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Mac Jones played well enough to keep New England within striking distance, but once again, I feel that Cam Newton would have won this game by a couple of scores. Next week, New England visits Houston. Advantage, New England Patriots.

BROWNS 14 — VIKINGS 7

It was a tight game, but Cleveland’s run game was the difference maker here. Minnesota had no answer for the Nick Chubb slash Kareem Hunt combo. The Browns are looking like an elite team. Next week, Cleveland visits the LA Chargers. Advantage, LA Chargers.

Minnesota got away from feeding Dalvin Cook, and it cost them the game. The Vikings have got to get more balance out of their running game and rely less on Kirk Cousin throwing the ball around. Next week, Minnesota hosts the 0-4 Detroit Lions. Advantage, Minnesota Vikings.

PACKERS 27 — STEELERS 17

Green Bay is putting together solid wins, but their schedule is about to get a little more challenging. We will learn how far this team can go in the next few weeks. Next up, Green Bay visits Cincinnati. Advantage, Green Bay Packers.

Pittsburgh cannot provide adequate protection for an aging QB like Big Ben. However, I don’t think Roethlisberger is the main issue here; 15 carries for Najee Harris is not enough to get more out of this Pittsburgh offense. Their defense is pretty good, and they will keep them in tight-close games, but they need more from the offense to have a shot at winning the AFC NORTH. Next up, Pittsburgh Host Denver. Advantage, Pittsburgh Steelers. 

RAVENS 23 — BRONCOS 7

Baltimore scored 16 unanswered points on what is supposed to be a good Denver defense. Latavius Murray is becoming a good complement to Lamar Jackson. Next week, Baltimore takes on the Colts. Advantage, Baltimore Ravens.

Denver’s offense looks completely different without Terry Bridgewater, and Drew Lock is obviously not the answer at QB for Denver. Next week, Denver visits Pittsburgh. Advantage, Pittsburgh Steelers. 

BEARS 24 — LIONS 14

This historic rivalry is not what it once was, and both teams are trying to rebuild and get back to their winning ways. Chicago has been more consistent lately in terms of success but far from their glory days. Chicago has something special in Justin Fields, and building around him will be crucial for their future in a division with two aging Quarterbacks — and Jared Goff. Next week, Chicago has a tough test against the Raiders. Advantage, Las Vegas Raiders.

Detroit cannot catch a break; they have lost some close games, and Jared Goff has actually played pretty well for them. However, they are still many pieces away from becoming contenders for the NFC NORTH. Next week, Detroit has another divisional game against Minnesota. Advantage, Minnesota Vikings.

*NFL WEEK 2 RECAP (2021 Season)

Insane and ridiculously wild finish, the Giants were a difficult, scrappy, tough team to play, but we found a way to win. This is precisely what good teams do; find ways to win close games. Especially, Divisional challenging games.

It is obvious to me that NY. Giants have a good Defense, and they gave us a hard time moving the ball around, but Taylor Heinicke was able to rally back and get Washington in a position to put this game away. 

Heinicke threw for over 300 yards with 2 TDs and 1 pick. His TD pass to backup Tight End Ricky Seals-Jones was spectacular. The offensive game plan to spread the ball around to our top receiving weapons like Terry McLaurin, Logan Thomas, Dyami Brown, and Adam Humphries was effective, but not where it needs to be; however, it is only week 2. This group will get better as the season progresses.

I was happy to see J.D. McKissic more involved in the receiving game, adding to a more balanced attack from our offense. But our running game was subdued, with Antonio Gibson only carrying 13 times. The rushing attempts need to increase in volume.

Our Defense looked anemic yet again, which is puzzling, considering all the talent assembled. My biggest issue was the lack of pressure on Daniel Jones — When the protection was solid, Daniel Jones looked pretty good. They gave Jones lots of room to throw the ball. This issue has to be addressed and fixed ASAP. 

Next Sunday, Washington takes on a dangerous Buffalo team with a dynamic QB in Josh Allen. This is the type of game where our Defense should shine. Advantage, Buffalo (on paper), but my heart believes in Washington to get it done.

WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM 30 — NY GIANTS 29

COWBOYS 20 — LA CHARGERS 17

Dallas got lots of help from the refs here. The Chargers got robbed with a bunch of bad calls, especially a sack call that wasn’t a sack. Dallas will crumble at some point this season. Next week, Dallas takes on Philly on Monday Night. Advantage, Dallas.

Like I said before, the refs stole this game from LA — I’m sure that Justin Herbert will get better as the season progresses, and they will contend in the AFC. Next week, the Chargers visit Kansas City for what should be an exciting Divisional game. Advantage, Kansas City. 

49ERS 17 — EAGLES 11

San Francisco had to adjust after losing running back Mosfert for the season. As a result, the offense struggled to get their running game going; however, Jimmy G relied on his legs in some crucial plays to keep the 49ers driving forward. Next week, Green Bay is visiting, and we will get a better sense of how the 49ers adjust to all the injuries already piling up on their roster. Advantage, Green bay.

The Eagles are all about Jalen Hurts; he seems to be their most dynamic and their most dangerous player at this early point in the season. Next week, they visit Dallas on Monday night for a big divisional game. Advantage, Dallas. 

RAIDERS 26 — STEELERS 17

I was initially very concerned about Josh Jacobs’s injury, and the signing of Peyton Barber did not really inspire much confidence in the running game. However, Derek Carr operated this Vegas offense effectively, throwing for 382 yards with 2 TDs and zero interceptions. Also, Henry Ruggs III is starting to get more involved in the passing game — getting Ruggs involved and getting Jacobs back healthy will be crucial for this team to contend in the AFC WEST. Next Sunday, Vegas hosts a Philadelphia team that lacks a balanced offense. Advantage, Las Vegas.

Pittsburgh was ineffective running the ball here. The Steelers have to get more balance out of their running game to have a chance in the AFC NORTH. Next week, the Steelers host Cincinnati with many questions on how the Bengals are running their offense. Advantage, Pittsburgh. 

LA RAMS 27 — COLTS 24

It wasn’t a pretty victory, but good teams find ways to win. The Rams scored late in the 4th quarter to put this game away. LA has got to get more out of their running game — the combination between Darrell Henderson Jr and Sony Michel needs to become more effective. Next Sunday, an overrated Tampa Bay team is visiting LA Advantage, LA Rams. 

The Colts were looking good until Carson Wentz got hurt, and their offense had to settle for field goals. Next Sunday, Indianapolis visits a resurgent Titans team. Advantage, Tenessee.

CARDINALS 34 — VIKINGS 33

Kyler Murray is electric; he threw for 400 yards with 3 TDs and 2 picks against a tough Vikings Defense. Next up, the Cardinals have an easier matchup against Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars. Advantage, Arizona. 

Anti-vaxxer Kirk Cousins, for once, did not cost his team this game. Instead, Minnesota struggled to contain Kyler Murray and company. Next week, Minnesota takes on a wounded Seahawks team looking to keep the Vikings winless. Advantage, Seattle.

TITANS 33 — SEAHAWKS 30

Tennessee pulled a victory out of nowhere. They looked like the dangerous playoff team we saw last season. Derrick Henry was dominant here, rushing for 182 yards and 55 receiving. Next up, the Titans host a Colts team with a questionable Carson Wentz. Advantage, Tennessee. 

The Seahawks did not have an answer for Derrick Henry, and next week they take on another tough running back in Minnesota’s Delvin Cook. However, I think Seattle will make the necessary adjustments. Advantage, Seattle. 

RAVENS 36 — CHIEFS 35

Lamar Jackson finally found a way to beat Patrick Mahomes. It was a thrilling game to the end. It came down to gutsy plays from both teams, but it was Baltimore’s night. Next week, the Ravens Host Jared Goff and the Lions. Advantage, Baltimore.

Kansas City let this game slip away as they got away from the run. Clyde Edwards-Helaire has got to get more than 13 carries per game. The Chiefs cannot put it all on Patrick Mahomes and the passing game; a better-balanced offense will be needed if Kansas City wants to get back to the Super Bowl this season. Next week, the Chiefs take on a dangerous LA Chargers team. Advantage, Kansas City. 

PACKERS 35 — LIONS 17

Aaron Rodgers silenced all his detractors with this Monday night performance; Rodgers threw for 255 yards with 4 TDs and zero picks. It was a shaky start for Green Bay, but Green Bay settled down and began to move the ball by the second half. However, I’m not sold on the Packers Defense under new coordinator Joe Barry. Next week, Green Bay takes on an injury-filled 49ers team. Advantage, Green Bay.

Jared Goff looked good and poised in the first half, but he began to unravel under Green Bay’s defensive pressure in the second half. Detroit got away from the run and relied on Goff for most of their rushing yards; this is not a good recipe for success. Next week, the Lions take on Baltimore. Advantage, Baltimore

PANTHERS 26 SAINTS 7

Sam Darnold continues to impress me, and he seems to be getting more comfortable under this new offense. Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore are finding solid balance with their new QB. Next up, Carolina visits Houston on Thursday night. Advantage, Carolina.

The saints were completely dominated here. Carolina took all of New Orleans’ top weapons like Alvin Kamara, Taysom Hill out of this game. Next Sunday, New Orleans visit Belicheater and his overrated rookie QB.; I think the saints will rebound here. Advantage, New Orleans.

BILLS 35 — DOLPHINS 0

Buffalo made a statement here by shutting out Miami, and this Bills team seems like the team we all expected them to be this season. Next Sunday, Washington is coming to town, and it will not be an easy day for Buffalo. Advantage, Washington.

Miami had nothing to offer here, and to make things worse, Tua got hurt but seems to be ok for next week. At some point, Miami needs to reach out to Cam Newton for a chance to save their season. Next Sunday, Miami visits the undefeated Raiders. Advantage, Las Vegas. 

PATRIOTS 25 — NY JETS 6

New England had their way with this rebuilding NY. Jets team. Next week, the Patriots take on a more balanced New Orleans team that looks to rebound after losing to Carolina. Advantage, New Orleans. 

Zach Wilson had a terrible game, throwing 4 interceptions and struggling to move the offense. I do not expect much this season from this rookie QB and rookie head coach. Next Sunday, things will not get any easier for NY as they visit the 2-0 Broncos. Advantage, Denver. 

BRONCOS 23 — JAGUARS 13

Terry Bridgewater seems to be finding his place in Denver. The Broncos are 2-0 and playing good football these first two weeks of the season. The balance on offense between Courtland Sutton, Javonte Williams, and Melvin Gordon III is pretty solid. Next up, Denver has a chance to go up 3-0 against a struggling NY. Jets. Advantage, Denver. 

Urban Meyer is learning pretty fast how different the NFL and the College game are. Meyer better get himself comfortable with losing because it will not get easier for them. Next up, Jacksonville takes on Kyler Murray and the Cardinal. Advantage, Arizona.

BUCCANEERS 48 — FALCONS 25

Brady threw 5 TDs and connected twice with Mike Evans and once with Rob Gronkowski — Gronk now has 4 TDs in two games. Next up, Tampa Bay will face their toughest test so far against Sean McVay’s well-balanced LA Rams team. Advantage, LA Rams.

Atlanta put up a good fight, but they just ran out of firepower to keep up with Tampa Bay. Next Sunday, the Falcons have a good chance to get their first win against Danny Dimes. Advantage, Atlanta. 

BROWNS 31 — TEXANS 21

This game was closer than the final score suggests. Cleveland scoring on every quarter and keeping Houston scoreless on the third quarter made the difference here. Next Sunday, Cleveland takes on a Chicago team with questions at QB advantage, Cleveland

The Texans struggled to get more out of Mark Ingram, and QB play was lackluster. Nevertheless, Houston was still pretty much into this game until the end. Next Sunday, the dangerous combination of Sam Darnold and Christian McCaffrey is coming to town. Advantage, Carolina.

BEARS 20 — BENGALS 17

Andy Dalton got hurt after throwing a TD to Allen Robinson in the first quarter. Justin Fields came in and did not do much. However, Chicago’s Special Teams and Defense chipped in with scores to pull this victory. Next Sunday, Chicago Visits Cleveland, and it will be a challenging game for the Bears if Andy Dalton doesn’t play. Advantage, Cleveland. 

Joe Burrow’s 3 interceptions and some of the questionable play calls on the offense were the difference maker here. Next Sunday, Cincinnati visits a dangerous Steelers team. Advantage, Pittsburgh.

*TV SERIES RECAP: THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA

The basic premise of The Plot Against America is to reimagine what would’ve happened if Charles Lindbergh and not FDR had won the 1940 US presidential election. It is based on the 2004 novel of the same name by Philip Roth. The story is told through the eyes of the Levins family; A Jewish working-class family living in 1940s Newark, New Jersey.

The background of the story is that Charles Lindbergh (Ben Cole) is campaigning hard all over the country, where anxious crowds are waiting to hear him speak. Lindbergh flies a plane down to his campaign rally appearances while selling an isolationist agenda to the American public, and he is also opposed to joining the war effort against Nazi Germany; Lindbergh even has a campaign slogan consisting of repeating the same phrase over and over again at every single rally: “The choice is simple. It is not between Charles Lindbergh and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It is between Charles Lindbergh and war.”

This show draws you in slowly; it takes the first two episodes to get a tangible sense of the characters and where the story is going. The tension grows in every episode; the plot moves slowly, but it works well. The world these characters inhabit feels authentic. And the clear depiction of this working-class neighborhood made up of mostly Jewish and Italian immigrants in 1940s Newark, New Jersey, was well crafted.

You get to know this Jewish family well; you get a good sense of this family and their suburban life. There are slow warnings of potential danger to their community through news reports on the radio and newsreels. The depiction of the slow and steady rise of fascism and the terror that it causes within the Jewish community is remarkable. All those things are put together brilliantly.

We get a closer look at the story through the eyes of young Philip Levin (Azhy Robertson), as he comes to terms with the reality of things. The audience also begins to come to terms with the high stakes at play alongside young Philip. We have to lean in and pay attention to each scene closely.

It is impossible not to avoid the obvious comparison between this show’s premise and the rise of Donald Trump. The idea that a celebrity with no political experience becomes a politician and turns out to be a populist and a right-wing nut job — appealing mostly to the lowest common denominator of voters is eerily similar — once elected, this right-wing hack turns the whole country into a fascist regime and The United States’ decline is set into motion.

It is chilling to see how Lindbergh uses a populist agenda and turns to members of the Jewish community to do his bidding. We have Rabbi Lionel Bengelsdorf (John Turturro), an influential leader in the Jewish community, who becomes a strong supporter of Lindbergh, normalizing many of Lindbergh’s rhetoric and, in a sense becoming the “token” Jew of the campaign.

I cannot help but see similar and modern parallels within many leaders and influential Hispanic community members who supported and continue to support Trump and his right-wing anti-immigrant agenda.

The performances are excellent. Morgan Spector (Herman Levin) and Zoe Kazan (Bess Levin) are fantastic. Both characters sense the danger of Lindbergh’s rhetoric but cope and approach the imminent threat to their community differently. Winona Ryder (Evelyn Finkel) is outstanding as this naive and over-trusting follower of Rabbi Bengelsdorf. The kid that plays Seldon (Jacob Laval) is a scene-stealer.

Kudos to David Simon for this remarkable and thought-provoking adaptation. I must confess that I have never seen The Wire; I’ll get around to it eventually. However, I’m a massive fan of The Deuce, which is one of the best things I’ve seen on TV in the last 20 years. Both of those shows were David Simon creations.

At its core, The Plot Against America is speculative and alternative history. Notwithstanding, it is also a clear warning of a dystopian horror that might await us in the not-so-distant future if we allow populist, isolationists, and xenophobic demagogues to rise into political positions of power.

Five out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿

THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA (2020). Streaming now on HBO

*MOVIE RECAP: THE UNITED STATES VS BILLIE HOLIDAY

At first glance, this movie had the makings of a powerful story — sadly, it did not live up to my expectations. 

The United States vs. Billie Holiday takes its name straight out of the US government’s prosecution case of Billie Holiday, and it is based on the 2012 non-fiction book Chasing the Scream: The First and Last days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari.

Decades have passed since Billie Holiday’s death. Yet, it seems like we still do not have a complete grasp and understanding of how important and influential she was in our culture, not just musically but also on civil rights activism. She died when she was only 44 years old. Suffering indignity after indignity and humiliated by her own government, handcuffed to a hospital bed as she was dying. 

At the center of the story, there is the song Strange Fruit. The song became controversial in the late 30s and 40s for being a protest song to the lynching of Black Americans, and it is considered to be the launching point in the awakening of the civil rights movement. The song drew the attention of the US government, most notably, the attention of a government agent and known racist Harry J. Anslinger (Garrett Hedlund), who was the first US official to declare war on drugs; targeting minorities and artists. Demonizing blacks and Jazz musicians as drug users and bad influences on the so-called authentic American culture.

Anslinger was the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and launched what has become known as the original version of the US war on drugs in the early part of the 20th century. One of Anslinger’s initial targets was Billie Holiday. He was obsessed with taking Billie Holiday down, primarily for her activism and defiance — but also as a symbolic gesture to any other potential civil rights activists out there. 

They used every tool at their disposal to destroy her life and career. They tried to censor her in multiple ways, even went as far as to block and deny her a cabaret license, which was crucial for performers; they needed a cabaret permit to perform at live music venues in those days. 

In this movie, we see how Aisnlinger assigns an undercover agent to infiltrate Billie Holiday’s inner circle to report and keep tabs on her. This undercover agent, Jimmy Fletcher (Trevante Rhodes), becomes emotionally and romantically involved with Holiday.

The weird thing is that apart from Johann Hari’s book, there isn’t much verifiable evidence about this love affair between Billie Holiday and Jimmy Fletcher — and there seems to be an evident exaggeration of this story by this movie’s director Lee Daniels.

Andra Day is outstanding here; she Portrays Billie Holiday convincingly. Still, the highlight of this movie for me was the soundtrack along with Andra Day’s performance of Billie Holiday’s music. She actually sings all the songs herself and captures the essence of Billie Holiday’s signature sound.

The United States vs. Billie Holiday is a movie that comes across as messy, cluttered, and all over the place. There is way too much focus on the romance between Fletcher and Holiday. Their love affair gets in the way of the story a bit. I wanted to see more about Holiday and her band members and the relationship dynamics between them. There was a powerful story here to be told. Unfortunately, this movie missed a huge opportunity to convey the core story of Billie Holiday’s life and struggles. And on top of all that, it also wasted away Andra Day’s top-notch performance.

Three out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿

The United States vs. Billie Holiday (2020).

*MOVIE RECAP: COMING 2 AMERICA

Ok, sad to say this but Coming 2 America sucks ass — It is a terrible sequel, and it failed to live up to the greatness of the original Coming to America movie (1988).

First of all, Coming to America is a classic comedy; if it’s on TV when I’m browsing through channels, I always stop and watch it, regardless of how deep in the story the movie might be on. The original was rated R, and this sequel is PG-13, a major red flag right off the get-go.

Our old friend Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) from the fictional African kingdom of Zamunda is now king, and Lisa (Shari Headley) is the Queen; they have three young daughters. The central plot conflict here is that their marriage has not given them a male heir, which tradition dictates that only a male heir can lay claim to the throne of Zamunda.

Warlord General Izzy (Wesley Snipes) from a neighboring nation wants to marry his son with one of Akeem’s daughters to unite both kingdoms, bring peace, and avoid war. Obviously, King Akeem, Queen Lisa, and their daughters are opposed to this idea.

Akeem discovers that he has a son living in New York from a wild one-night stand during Akeem’s first visit to New York City. So now, presented with this new fact, Akeem decides to return to Queens in search of his long-lost son and convince him to take his rightful place as the future ruler of Zamunda.

Returning to NY, Akeem tracks down his illegitimate son Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler) and convinces him to move to Zamunda. But first, Lavelle will need to go through a training and learning process before establishing him as the future heir to the throne.

From this point on, whatever little promise this movie initially showed goes completely over a cliff.

Akeem becomes just another character here. The premise of this sequel entirely undoes Akeem’s journey of self-discovery from the original movie. Prince Akeem discovered something about himself through his 1988 journey while living and working in New York City, which he seemed to utterly forget 33 years later. His trip to America was also fun and hilarious, with the whole fish out of water angle. He was so unaware of the real world, hell-bent on finding his future wife in Queens. King Akeem spends almost no time in Queens or in NYC, which contradicts this sequel’s title. Maybe they should’ve just called this movie “Zamunda” or “Coming to Zamunda” instead of Coming 2 America.

I wanted to see a lot more of Semmi (Arsenio Hall), and we don’t really get much of him this time around. Wesley Snipes is hilarious; there is a level of Pageantry to his performance — I can tell he was having a blast with this role. Plus, the chemistry between Murphy and Snipes is excellent, probably my favorite thing from this movie.

Jermaine Fowler needed more time to develop his Lavelle character, similar to how Akeem was developed in the original film. Also, Leslie Jones and Tracy Morgan are annoying as fuck, especially with what they are given to work within their characters.

This next generation of Zamunda rulers was also poorly developed. And the jokes delivered by the new cast members don’t hit at all and fall flat…. I think I laughed once and chuckled a few times throughout the whole thing.

Nevertheless, the throwbacks to the original film are pretty cool. Watching John Amos, James Earl Jones, and Louie Anderson return was pure nostalgic awesomeness. I wished Eriq La Salle (Darryl) and Allison Dean (Patrice) had returned in some capacity.

It was great seeing the Barbershop guys back, you know, the old characters played by Arsenio Hall and Eddie Murphy. Although, it is hard to believe that those guys could still look the same as they did in ’88 or even be alive 33 years later. But hey, sometimes you have to suspend disbelief and go along for the sake of mindless entertainment.

Now, here is the potentially redeeming storyline if this coming to America franchise continues—so hear me out.

Colin Jost shows up early in this movie, playing Mr. Duke, a direct relative of the Duke Brothers from Eddie Murphy’s first film, Trading Places (1983). The Duke Brothers (Don Ameche & Ralph Bellamy) had an important cameo in Coming to America, which brilliantly ended up linking the Trading Places slash Coming to America universes together. And, if they continue to build upon this connection, therein lies the makings of a potential reboot of those two movie universes. Get Dan Akroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Eddie Murphy on board, and here we go.

Despite taking 33 years to make this sequel, Coming 2 America is a sequel that we did not really need or wanted but expected to be better. It simply does not have the long-lasting comedic effect that the original 1988 movie had. Look, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a shameless exercise of fan service. Hell, I even welcome those types of movies from time to time. However, this movie just did not quite work for me. It is definitely a more family-friendly movie. But still, it comes off as lazy, unfunny, and not as edgy as the original.

One out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿

Coming 2 America (2020).

*TV SERIES RECAP: RUN

RUN was a guilty pleasure watch. The premise and concept of this limited HBO series are somewhat irresistible to me. We have two former lovers, Billy (Domhnall Gleeson), and Ruby (Merritt Wever). They made a pact to each other during their college years, that if either one of them ever texted the word “RUN” to the other, followed by a return text with the same word—then they will both drop whatever they are doing, and meet at Grand Central Station and be there for each other.

Now in their 30s, Ruby is married with kids. Billy is a successful motivational speaker and author. It seems like they have previously texted RUN to each other throughout the years, but this is the first time that the text was actually returned. The ex-lovers meet up and embark on a cross-country Amtrak train ride.

The whole idea of dropping everything in your life and making a wild run has crossed my mind multiple times, and perhaps this is why this show appealed to me from the get-go.

Episodes for the first season are roughly about a half-hour long with 7 episodes. Pretty easy to power through the whole thing in one sitting. It is a fun show, with lots of tension and slow revelations. Layers and layers of information about the characters are slowly revealed, so you have to be patient to see where the story is actually going. The tension keeps on building up with each episode.

The supporting characters are essentially the main obstacles in this love story. Billy’s assistant Fiona (Archie Panjabi), is stalking and blackmailing Billy — she is holding some dark and compromising secrets regarding Billy.

Ruby’s husband, Laurence (Rich Sommer), seems to be aware that his wife has run off to be with someone and is willing to forgive her if she returns home to her family. All the supporting characters added along the way add a very compelling dynamic that worked well for me. Most notably, the inclusion of the character Laurel (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), A taxidermist, who collects roadkill, and gets involved in the plot.

There is this exciting sub-plot between Laurel and police officer Babe Cloud (Tamara Podemski) that develops midway through the first season,

Merritt Wever and Domhnall Gleeson have solid chemistry together. I was all-in on the idea that these two were once lovers. The sexual tension was believable. Wever’s performance is pretty intense and remarkable. She has this uncanny ability to deliver lines in a very deliberate manner. The character flaws between both characters are worth exploring further…. if there is a second season, which I hope there is.

Three out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿

RUN (2020). Streaming on HBO MAX

*TV SERIES RECAP: HOLLYWOOD

The whole concept of this series is to essentially reimagine and reinvent Post-World War II Hollywood as an alternative history of the golden age of American cinema; Where real-life Hollywood figures are mixed in with a bunch of fictional characters.

At the center of the story, we have a group of aspiring actors, writers, and directors attempting to challenge the bigotry, sexism, and homophobia of the Hollywood studio system. Created by Ryan Murphy, Nip/tuck (2003-2010) Feud (2017), there are 7 episodes, each running roughly about one hour long.

There are many things that work well with this show, and there are a bunch of things that do not work well. To me, the real-life characters were much more complex and a lot more interesting than the fictional characters.

Jim Parsons sheds his Sheldon Cooper persona brilliantly playing real-life Hollywood agent Henry Wilson who was Rock Hudson’s real-life agent. Wilson was a highly controversial figure in Hollywood’s golden age, known for developing a unique and specific “look” from his young male clients. Henry Wilson comes across as this awful person, but he is probably the most compelling character in the whole show. I could not wait to see more of this character. Rock Hudson (Jake Picking) is excellent as a young version of Hudson, who has recently arrived in Hollywood and is signing on with this nasty piece of work, Henry Wilson as his talent agent.

There are plenty of well-written scenes, and the costumes are excellent. The show is beautifully shot, capturing the glitz and glamour of the era. But on top of all that, my other favorite thing from this show was Dylan McDermott (Ernie), based on real-life Hollywood pimp Scotty Bowers. Ernie operates a male gigolo prostitution racket out of a gas station, where rich men and women would pick up young men from the station to have sexual encounters with. It was also well-known that closeted older rich gay men will often use this system to meet young men.

Many legendary and infamous Hollywood real-life stories are depicted throughout the show, like the notorious “Hollywood Orgy” parties organized by George Cukor. The show explores the predatory and abusive level of exploitation of young stars by people in positions of power and influence, which resonates deeply with the current MeToo movement.

And, of all the fictional characters, Mira Sorvino (Jeanne Crandall) has some of the best scenes, mostly relating to the abuse of power and the level of exploitation by powerful men. Her character is super compelling, considering Sorvino went through similar issues with Harvey Weinstein.

Queen Latifah (Hattie McDaniel) is terrific here, completely owning her scenes. Noel Coward (Billy Boyd), making a brief appearance, was a nice addition. Anna May Wong (Michelle Krusiec), Vivien Leigh (Katie McGuinness), Tallulah Bankhead (Paget Brewster): All of them portraying real-life figures are exceptional.

However, to me, the show became less and less interesting as the fantasy and alternate history element took over. Discerning what was real and what was not became murky and confusing at times. I sense that the main point here was to expose the level of prejudice, racism, and sexism that existed in Hollywood in that era — and how complicit Hollywood studios were in elevating certain stereotypes. Still, this show would have been much more effective in delivering their intended message by minimizing this parallel reality within the real-life storylines and remaining a lot closer to the truth. Nevertheless, HOLLYWOOD is a hyper surreal and compelling show to watch.

Three out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿

HOLLYWOOD (2020). Streaming on Netflix

*MOVIE RECAP: THE SOUND OF METAL

Some movies need time to settle in your mind to fully digest and reflect on what you have seen… maybe even watching them a couple of times is required. For me, Sound of Metal is one of those movies.

Ruben (Riz Ahmed) and Lou (Olivia Cooke) are rock musicians touring the United States — they live and drive from show to show in an RV. It seems like their whole life is in their RV.

Pretty soon into the story, Ruben notices that his hearing is weakening, and all of the sounds around him are beginning to sound muffled. He hides this fact from Lou and continues with concert gigs, hoping things will return to normal at some point.

Ruben consults with a doctor who breaks the bad news that his hearing is deteriorating rapidly — the doctor tells him that his first responsibility is to protect the hearing he has left. Ruben completely disregards this advice and continues playing another concert gig.

During their next concert, his hearing deteriorates to the point where Ruben can no longer keep up with the show and rushes off the stage. He now has no choice but to come clean to Lou and explain the situation regarding his hearing loss.

Ruben’s life and his entire sense of self are completely changed almost overnight. He has to face some complex decisions moving forward. Playing the drums and continuing with the rest of the concert dates are no longer an option. Ruben believes he can still manage and work around his deafness; however, Lou disagrees and urges Ruben to get some professional help.

Here is where Joe (Paul Raci) enters Ruben’s life. Joe is a Vietnam War vet who runs a community home for deaf people. In this community, they do not see deafness as a disability or as something to be fixed. They see deafness as a concept of empowerment.

Joe has very strict rules for joining his community home. Ruben has to move in, learn ASL and begin the process of learning how to live with his new reality. Ruben also has to give up the keys to his RV, his cell phone and be completely away from Lou during his time in the program.

Ruben’s whole life is turned upside down; his music, lifestyle, and relationship have all fallen apart. He is now forced to look deep within himself in the wake of this trauma. He is holding on to the hope of regaining his hearing. The prospect of receiving implants through surgery is his last hope for things to go back to normal. And he is willing to risk it all for the return of his old way of life.

Riz Ahmed is exceptional here, delivering a soulful performance. He conveys so many emotions with his eyes and face — through his eyes, you can see this tortured, wounded soul. Riz Ahmed brilliantly portrays the rage and bewilderment of Ruben losing his livelihood. I heard that Ahmed actually learned to play drums and learned American sign language preparing for this role.

Paul Raci is outstanding here, delivering an authentic and human performance. Joe provides tough love and raw honesty to Ruben in every scene they are in together. A well-deserved Academy Award nomination for best-supporting actor. I am excited to see where the success of this performance takes Paul Raci next.

This movie is a fascinating exploration about a person attempting to put his life back together after losing his reason for living. The film takes you inside the central character’s experience while crafting a world where the details are as accurate as possible. The subtle things done with the sound effects are remarkable. The specific details of the deaf community are well executed.

The Sound of Metal is essentially a story about identity and loss. One of the most thoughtful, well-made movies of the year. An extraordinary achievement by Director Darius Marder, showing us what cinema can still do when passionate, creative filmmakers are allowed to put forth their vision.

Four out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿

The Sound of Metal (2020).

*MOVIE RECAP: JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

Here is another socially and culturally relevant film that shines a spotlight on a recent time in our history that we all should be aware of.

Judas and the Black Messiah is the true story of a disciple’s betrayal; in this case, Judas is William “Bill” O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield), and the Messiah is Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya).

Fred Hampton was the Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers and one of the most notorious figures in the civil rights movement of the late ‘60s. He was a leader in the fight for Human rights and a prolific community organizer, attempting to make life better for Black Americans, minorities, and poor people. Fred Hampton believed that uniting with other race groups was crucial for the movement to succeed. He also started things still instituted today, like the Free Breakfast program. Feeding the poor earned him a Folk hero status in the community. This film, however, only covers a short period of his life, focusing primarily on Fred Hampton’s last days alive.

Bill O’Neal was a petty criminal caught by the police for impersonating an FBI agent. He was coerced into helping the FBI to keep tabs on Fred Hampton’s activities and to infiltrate the Black Panthers as an informer for the government. O’Neal eventually becomes close to Fred Hampton and has to choose between his freedom and betraying his friend.

FBI director J. Edgar Hoover believed that Fred Hampton could unite a coalition of oppressed minorities into working together towards one unified goal. Hoover saw this potential union as an inherent threat to the National Security of the United States; thus, declaring war on the Black Panthers and stopping Hampton at all costs became one of the top priorities for the FBI under Hoover.

The performances alone make this movie a must-watch. Daniel Kaluuya transforms completely into Fred Hampton; he delivers a powerful performance. He captures the complexities and magnitude of this real-life character convincingly. We get to see how charismatic Hampton was in public and how reserved and measured he seemed in private life.

However, the narrative centers mostly around William O’Neill. And how he was equally a victim of the system. We see how he was coerced into becoming a reluctant informant. This character’s inner conflict and the constant struggle between opposing allegiances are at the center of this story. O’Neill is pulled in many different directions, which is the central idea of all undercover stories; A character that goes into a world, and then the character becomes a part of said world. Lakeith Stanfield is excellent here — He establishes a strong physical performance, where the facial gestures anchor most of the core emotions of Bill O’Neill.

The relationship between Fred Hampton and his girlfriend, Deborah Johnson (Dominique Fishback), is exceptionally depicted. Their love story was complex, and it was superbly dramatized. Dominique Fishback has been on my radar ever since I saw her in the outstanding HBO series the Deuce. She is fantastic here.

Kudos to director Shaka King. I dig everything about this film — how it was shot, the dialogue, and the acting. The shootout and the raid scene were pretty intense and well-executed. My only issue is that we don’t get a real sense of how young Fred Hampton was when he was murdered. Fred Hampton was just a kid, barely 21, and Bill O’Neill was 17 when all of this went down in 1969. I feel that the movie needed to emphasize this fact better.

Nevertheless, Judas and the Black Messiah is a bold and thought-provoking film. It is not one of those movies that romanticize the FBI as the good guys vs. the bad guys while completely ignoring their dark history and shady tactics, especially during its early years under Hoover. The fact is that Fred Hampton was murdered by his own government, executed in his own home. There is solid historical value here — We get to see how the FBI used shady and perverse tactics to hold people like O’Neill under their control in their ruthless pursuit of Black Panthers, minority revolutionaries, and anyone who displayed any progressive or radical ideologies. This film unapologetically exposes the dark history of the FBI brilliantly.

There is a direct connection between Judas and the Black Messiah and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Both films have been nominated for Academy Awards, and both movies tackled similar and relevant issues. Both stories parallel each other, and both stories are centered around government oppression, corruption, Police brutality, freedom, human rights, and social-economic issues. Their significance cannot be understated.

Four out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿

Judas and the Black Messiah (2020).