CBS Football slick but needs work

Spoiler alert! I don’t know what it is, but after Madden left, CBS was always the also-ran network when it came to NFL broadcasts. They managed to make the most exciting games seem rather ordinary. Their iPad app CBS Football looked promising when I first launched it, but after the first round of games I found myself underwhelmed.


Down here in Texas we sometimes wonder how they pick quarterbacks. Mac Brown, for instance, loves to stick with a quarterback long after he should be gone and when he does replace one Mac promises the world he could always get back his job.

Watching Garrett Gilbert at the beginning of the season made me wish for the days of Chris Simms (who got to throw away games while the talented Vince Young and Major Applewhite sat on the bench). Once he bowed to the inevitable, Brown insisted on a three quarterback rotation—the guy who can’t throw a pass, the kid brother and the guy who led Texas to Brown’s first losing season. Fortunately, Gilbert came up with an injury and made a graceful exit.

But this is nowhere near as bizarre as letting Tony Romo continue to quarterback the Cowboys. Everyone talks about how brave he is to play sick and injured, but isn’t he always injured? I guess they figured he might as well play injured as sit on the sideline since he will never finish a season healthy. Basically he had one good drive the week before and one good drive against the Redskins this week, but because he’s sick everyone’s blaming the rest of the team (who deserved a lot) and calling him a hero.

Now that I’ve made the objective observation, however, I have to say: Please Cowboys. Keep Romo. Every season Romo rallies and looks like he could finally lead the team and then he self-destructs. That will make it easier for anyone else to win the division, even the Redskins. And if the Redskins win the division Carol will be ecstatic and I will be happy as a consequence.

It’s possible the quarterback situations will be resolved by the time this is posted (I run a couple of weeks behind in real time), but Romo’s been around so long I can’t imagine Dallas will bench him unless his leg is broken. He hangs around like that blackhead you couldn’t get rid of as a teenager, clearing up for a day or two and then reemerging the night of the prom.

Fortunately, if Dallas does make the change I will know about it because the CBS Football app will keep me updated. I’ll probably be checking on NFL 2011 (which I reviewed Tuesday) because I tend to stick with one app once the reviewing comparisons are over, but CBS Football will do a good job too.

If you love CBS coverage of the NFL you’ll love this app, and the videos and news updates tend to be a little better than the NFL 11 coverage. Some of the stats are more comprehensive. The home page tends to focus away from the team logos and schedules and provides an interface more conducive to exploring news and videos.

CBS Football’s interface is built around news delivery, unlike NFL 2011’s schedule oriented approach.

Fantasy football players will really love it because fantasy leagues and news get two entire news tabs to the single news tab for real football. Fans can read fantasy analysis and news and even watch CBS fantasy football broadcasts live. This is a big leg up over the NFL app which limits fantasy to their fantasy leagues.

You can even participate in the game’s online fantasy league and login directly from the screen.

I never actually got fantasy football, or baseball either. It seemed to me if you were going to fantasize playing football you would be playing Madden or Stratomatic or the old Avalon Hill games where you could actually play real fake games rather than following stats on a roster. Sure, if you picked or traded for the better player, your chances were better with the dice rolls, but at least you were being a real fake man, not a fake suit counting beans for a few lousy dollars that you could win just as easily in a betting pool.

But then I write a blog about an online fantasy social network game so maybe I shouldn’t be talking.

CBS Football places a heavy emphasis on fantasy league play and analysis. You can watch CBS fantasy broadcasts live on your iPad or follow complex game analysis.

CBS Football does provide pre-game coverage and live game simulations as does NFL 2011. You can even check in for each game and pick your favorite in advance. The simulations aren’t quite as slick as those in NFL 2011. For instance the game board doesn’t differentiate graphically between passing, running and kicking plays.

On the other hand, the team stats are far more complete and game recaps easier to follow than those in NFL 2011. If you want a thorough breakdown of the game, you’re more likely to get the info here.

CBS Football’s game coverage lacks the graphic sophistication, nor are the pre game comparisons as comprehensive.

The most glaring difference between the coverage in the two games has to be the game preview analysis. CBS Football takes a different approach. Two or three days before a game a written analysis appears on the preview page. By Friday some current stats show up to compare the two teams. The rest of the week the schedule window remains blank, whereas NFL 2011 provides the current offensive and defensive stats of both teams and updates them the day after each game.

The stats CBS Football promises should be more complete than those of NFL 2011, but they aren’t updated as quickly (if at all). Hopefully they will catch up to their design a few more weeks into the season.

What bugs me the most is how hard it is to figure out how to jump from Sunday’s scores to next week’s (or week 12’s) schedule. I figured it out once, but when I returned to try it a second time (and third time) I’ll be damned if I could do it again. It’s possible to navigate between weeks, but it isn’t obvious.

Both apps feature banner ads, but CBS Football displays them in a bigger window, and lately they’ve added full age pop up ads (that cause the app to crash). I get that free apps need ads to fix bugs and add updates, but they shouldn’t intrude.

I’ve already made it clear that I prefer NFL 2011 to CBS Football. I don’t think the 2011 interface is quite as good, but I do think its overall coverage, both pre and post game, is slightly better. There’s a good chance that both apps will pick the best features of the other, so CBS Football may pull ahead at sometime in the future. The interface is cleaner, and the design more appealing.

Just because I prefer one doesn’t mean you will. Since they’re free it wouldn’t hurt to try both.

Jenny Manytoes rates CBS Football

Jenny Manytoes would purr next to CBS Football but more like a purr minus. Neither CBS nor NFL 2011 will replace the experience of watching the game on TV (which will never beat the experience of watching the game live), but the experience of browsing NFL game simulations, stats and reports on the iPad is still pretty cool.

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System

Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat

  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.
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About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
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