Round 1 Matchup: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens
Photo: 2 Looks like it might be post-TD, but who can really tell?
Back: 2 I learned that Hawkins appeared on Michael Irvin's reality show. Huh? Michael Irvin had a reality show? Who knew?
Condition: 2 The top edge has a really rough cut.
2015 Topps Platinum #140 Maxx Williams
Player: 3 He hasn't done much, but he is a promising rookie.
Design: 4 I've decided to put together the Platinum set instead of Chrome this year. I have a box coming from Dave and Adam's Card World soon that I hope gets me mostly there. The smoky swirl is a little weird, but I love the bright color and big team logo in the background. Plus, every card has that refractor shine, and I love me some refractors.
Photo: 3 Looks like a good action shot, but I would guess that it was taken on a practice field as part of some rookie photo shoot.
Final Score: Baltimore 15, Cincinnati 10
Round 1 Matchup: Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Diego Chargers
Design: 3 Lots of 2013 Prizm in this round. I think this is the 3rd.
Photo: 3 Sometimes I like the practice photos with shorts and without pads.
1991 Pacific #644 Shawn Jefferson
Player: 1 So far the quality of players today has been weak.
Design: 2 This is such a cheap brand and has such a huge checklist, bloated by forgettable players that I never realized how good the design was. The colors are good, the photography is crisp, and the lines make a clean-looking card.
Photo: 3 I don't remember if Shawn Jefferson was a speedster or not, but this picture sure looks like he is about to take off.
Back: 3 The back is great. It's not messy, has a different picture, and includes some fun facts and trivia.
Final Score: San Diego 12, Kansas City 10
Surprisingly, the junk wax era no-namer card of about the cheapest brand around wins the round.
Round 1 Matchup: Seattle Seahawks vs. New York Giants
2014 Topps #256 Bruce Irvin
Player: 3 A pretty good player, but one who gets overshadowed by his teammates on an outstanding defense.
Design: 3 I like this Topps design. There may be a little too much white, but the design looks classy without being too obtrusive. The font for the name could be bigger though. It's too hard to see.
Photo: 2 Not bad, but not much going on either.
Back: 3 Gives a little story about how Irvin overcame poverty and other challenges to play college football. I like a story like that.
1980 Topps #395 Brad Van Pelt
Player: 4 A pretty good player, but one who gets overshadowed by his teammates on an outstanding defense. Sounds a lot like the last player. I like this matchup a lot. Van Pelt was actually outstanding himself, and was named the Giants player of the decade for the 1970s.
Design: 3 I like the simplicity of the design. It would be better if Topps had a license then, but on this particular card, it's not all too noticeable.
Photo: 2 The funny thing is, I look at this and think, "That's totally late 70s." But Van Pelt's look is also en vogue now, too.
Back: 3 It's got a cartoon. Love the random Topps cartoons.
Condition: 2 The centering is a little off, and there is a dark spot on the back. But it's pretty good for being over 30 years old.
Extra: 1 An extra point is awarded for being the father of long-haired outlaw QB Bradlee Van Pelt. He never made it in the NFL, but I remember his college days well as I followed the Mountain West while he was at Colorado State.
Final Score: New York 16, Seattle 15
Round 1 Matchup: Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers
2014 Panini Contenders #25 Carson Palmer
Player: 4 Can't argue with Carson Palmer, who played like he belong in the upper echelon of QBs this season.
Design: 4 Love 2014 Contenders. I'm a big fan of the giant team logo in the background. It's simple, clean, and interesting. Unlike some other Contenders issues, this one's ticket design doesn't get in the way. I've figured out that the seat number is the jersey number, but I'm stumped concerning the section and row. Anybody know if those numbers mean anything?
Back: 1 As much as I like the design, I don't really want to see it almost identical on both sides. Panini replaced player stats with team rankings, which I find annoying.
2014 Topps Greatness Unleashed #GU-CK Colin Kaepernick
Player: 3 I still like Kaepernick and appreciate the success he had early in his career. It'll be interesting to see how the rest of his career will pan out.
Design: 3 An interesting design, but it has been Photoshopped to death. Even parts of the player are missing, which is the biggest knock against it.
Photo: 4 I like the picture of Kaepernick on the move, which is what he does best. But the detail I love is the wristband on which you can see the writing. I've always been curious what exactly the QB is reading off the wristband. I know it has plays, but there has to be more than that. I would love to see one.
Back: 4 While Topps over-did the front in an attempt to make this insert look high end, the back does the trick. If all I could see was the back of the card, I would guess it came from Inception or something.
Final Round: San Francisco 17, Arizona 15
We're halfway through Round 1. Thanks for reading!