Kareem Hunt is fresh off a rushing title and if you followed his college or high school games you know that was no fluke:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Kareem Hunt is no stranger to success on the football field and that’s why it’s not surprising to see the former 3rd round pick playing well in the National Football League. Hunt was a dynamic football player at the University of Toledo rushing for nearly 5,000 yards and 44 touchdowns. Even before college Hunt was outstanding at South High School in Willoughby Ohio where he rushed for 5,204 yards and 83 touchdowns. Every step of the way Kareem Hunt has overachieved but at the same time through every phase of his life Hunt has been under appreciated. The good news is despite being a second day draft pick Hunt has once again defied all the odds and proven to be the best running back in pro football for the entire 2017 season. Nobody was more productive than Hunt’s 1,327 rushing yards and the rookie running back also scored a combined 11 touchdowns. Kansas City thought they had some problems early on when Spencer Ware went down with a torn MCL and PCL. We know now that Kareem Hunt can carry the entire workload and it will be interesting to see if this kid can have a repeat performance in 2018? The Chiefs had a disappointing season this year but there are a lot of bright spots for this football team. They’re a couple of pieces away from being a true contender but they have to find a way to improve their 28th ranked defense. It’s surprising Kansas City was even able to go to the postseason with that poor play but that just goes to show how good the Chiefs were on the offensive side of the ball. It’s because Kareem Hunt played well, and it’s because Alex Smith played tough. Those guys really willed this team to victories all season long and Andy Reid has to find a way to get them some help.

Charity of the day: Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund

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Takkarist Mckinley has a very bright future in the National Football League. McKinley recorded 6 sacks in the regular season plus 2 more sacks in the playoffs:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Atlanta Falcons season might have came up short against the Philadelphia Eagles a couple of weeks ago but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some promise in the ATL. Rookie Defensive End Takkarist McKinley looks like an emerging star and this guy has a real presence coming off the edge of the Falcons’ defense line. At 6’4 230 pounds McKinley is a little bit undersized for most NFL pass rushers but Atlanta’s defense has a philosophy of putting speedy defenders on the field. Star Middle Linebacker Deion Jones runs a blazing fast 4.38 40 yard dash and McKinley runs an impressive 4.59. Together that tandem of hitters are flying around at speeds that shouldn’t even be physical possible for players at their position and really that’s why the Falcons were a top 10 defense in 2017. McKinley missed a little bit of training camp at the start of the season due to an jury too. Which is exactly why you saw him come alive later on in the season when he was in peak condition. When you also factor in that McKinley is gaining experience and confidence every step of the way as well it becomes obvious this kid will be a dominant force in this league someday. All of the physical capabilities are there, now it’s about how much focus McKinley is going to have moving forward? If the former UCLA alum commits to preparing like a world class athlete he will be rewarded with phenomenal results. With 8 sacks in the regular season and playoffs combined that’s a pretty impressive resume for a rookie year. It will be up to McKinley to avoid getting complacent and he has to work really hard everyday to establish his legacy. Atlanta will get such a huge boost if McKinley can fulfill his own potential. This defense is on the rise and they could be like the Eagles and Vikings were this past year in just a short time.

Charity of the day: Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund

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Arizona Cardinals hire Steve Wilks as their new head coach which is a great fit considering how much talent the Cardinals have on defense:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Football teams always take the identity of their head coach and that’s why it was so important the Arizona Cardinals got it right when they hired Bruce Arians’ successor. We know now that is former Carolina Panthers Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks and most of the Cardinals’ players seem upbeat about that choice. Wilks did really well commanding the Luke Kuechly led Panthers’ defense which was ranked 7th in the league this past year. With Arizona having a talented group of defensive players which includes Chandler Jones, Patrick Peterson, Haason Reddick, Tyrann Mathieu, and Budda Baker. It just made sense for this organization to get a bright defensive mind who can optimize all those player’s abilities. One thing that could end up being interesting is whether or not Wilks changes the Cardinals scheme on defense? Arizona is a 3-4 team right not but the Panthers ran a lot of 4-3 cover 2. As good as Chandler Jones was at an outside linebacker spot in the 3-4, putting him at defensive end in a 4-3 could also be very beneficial for this team because that means he would rush the passer on every single play. Outside linebackers are asked to drop back into coverage at times and that doesn’t do Jones any justice. It almost would be ideal for this team to cut the chain off him and let him go after every single play. Remember Jones already led the league in 2017 with 17 sacks. So the elite pass rusher (Jones) could be a 20+ sack guy coming off the edge in a 4-3. Wilks should also improve things from a coverage stand point. The cover 2 is a simple but effective scheme and it will suit Peterson, Mathieu, and Baker well on the back end. You can already begin to see how things will change for the better moving forward and expect the Arizona Cardinals to significantly improve on the defensive side of the ball.

Charity of the day: Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund

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Philadelphia Eagles rout the Minnesota Vikings 38-7 and will represent the NFC in Super Bowl 52:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Nick Foles entered this season as a back up to Carson Wentz but tonight he is the hero the City of Brotherly Love needed. Foles continued to impress in Wentz’s absence and was nearly flawless against the number 1 ranked Vikings’ defense. Minnesota hasn’t been scorched like this all year but Foles managed to put up 352 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions. That was in complete contrast to Case Keenum’s 271 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions. So the difference in quarterback play was clear and the results on the scoreboard definitely reflected that. Jay Ajayi established the Eagles ground game with 18 rushing attempts for 73 yards. LeGarrette Blount put up 21 yards and 1 rushing touchdown in the win as well. Zach Ertz had a team high of 93 receiving yards for Philly, Alshon Jeffery was nothing short of spectacular hauling in 85 yards and 2 touchdowns too. Torrey Smith was the final Eagles’ receiver to catch a touchdown he also added 69 receiving yards. There wasn’t much going on for the Vikings’ skill players Jerrick McKinnon had a team high of 40 rushing yards. McKinnon was also the most productive receiver, he came down with 86 yards through the air. Stefon Diggs contributed 70 yards too but there wasn’t enough scoring from Minnesota at all and that ultimately doomed this team’s Super Bowl hopes. Mychal Kendricks was the top defensive performer for Philadelphia he ended up recording 8 tackles for the night. Corey Graham was also pretty solid he chipped in 5 tackles and 1 interception. Mike Zimmer’s defense were led by Eric Kendricks who made 6 stops in the loss. Danielle Hunter did all he could as well he tallied up 6 tackles and 1 sack. The Eagles will take on the Patriots in Super Bowl 52 and that should be a match up for the ages. Doug Pederson has Philly playing better than ever and we all know what New England is capable of. That should make for an exciting football game and what more can football fans ask for?

Charity of the day: American Red Cross

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Brady and Belichick advance to their 8th Super Bowl since teaming up, the Patriots beat the Jaguars 24-20:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The New England Patriots had their hands full in the AFC Championship but in the end Tom Brady did what he has done his entire career. Brady rallied the Patriots from an 11 point deficit to defeat the scorching hot Jacksonville Jaguars 24-20. Most people thought Jacksonville was going to win this game early on but the Patriots are still as resilient as ever and now they’re going back to the Super Bowl. Tom Brady ended up throwing for 290 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions against a tough Jaguars defensive front. Brandin Cooks was really consistent through the air he ended up hauling in 100 yards for New England’s passing game. Danny Amendola was also extremely explosive recording 84 yards and 2 touchdowns. We’ve seen Brady and the Patriots offense in this moment so many times before and it was the same outcome we’ve been seeing for the past decade or so. Blake Bortles really played outstanding for the Jaguars throwing for 293 yards, 1 touchdown, and no interceptions. Leonard Fournette ran hard out of the gate he finished the contest with 76 yards and 1 touchdown. Allen Hurns lead Doug Marrone’s offense with 80 yards through the air. Long time Jacksonville stand out Marcedes Lewis caught a touchdown from Bortles but the Jaguars couldn’t hold off the Patriots down the stretch. Kyle Van Noy led New England’s defense with 9 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble. James Harrison and Stephon Gilmore both had big games for the winning side as well. Telvin Smith was the top defensive performer for the Jags he had 8 tackles for the night. Dante Fowler was also tough as nails he went for 3 tackles and 2 sacks. Overall you have to tip your hat to everything Brady and Belichick have achieved throughout their epic run. We’ll never seeing anything else like this and there’s a very good chance they could end up winning it all again when were all done with things.

Charity of the day: American Red Cross

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Kirk Cousins is definitely an exceptional player especially in an era when good quarterback play is so rare:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Recently former Redskins General Manager Scot McCloughan said he “doesn’t see special” when looking at Kirk Cousins and that’s a completely profound statement. We live in an era where only the top 15 quarterbacks in the league are exceptional players and with that being such a small group there’s no doubt Kirk Cousins is a special football player. Cousins has recorded 3 straight 4,000 yard seasons and also put up 16,206 passing yards plus 99 touchdowns since putting on a Redskins uniform. To cast doubt on Kirk Cousins abilities as a football player is not only a shameful act, it’s flat out wrong. The only reason Washington was able to win the NFC division back in 2015 was because of Cousins and this team needs to be focusing on their 21st ranked defense more so than questioning whether or not their 7th ranked quarterback can play? Now to be fair McCloughan isn’t a part of Washington’s organization anymore but his comments seem to reflect the same feelings most people in that front office have. If the Redskins don’t appreciate Kirk Cousins that’s fine some other team will sign him real quick and watch how fast the fans in the D.C area miss the former Michigan State QB when he is throwing a whole lot of touchdowns somewhere else. This idea that you can’t give a long term deal to Cousins is absolutely absurd and right now this very instant there’s no doubt about it this guy is special. The problem is the owner, front office, and higher ups aren’t bringing it as well as Kirk Cousins is and they are all being resentful towards him instead of owning up to their own shortcomings. It’s a very unfortunate situation to be in but give Cousins credit he is handling it like a pro and that’s why is going to get paid the big bucks one way or another. Most people would have had a meltdown in that kind of toxic environment.

Charity of the day: International Peace Institute

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Mike Vrabel is a good hire for the Tennessee Titans, he is one of the rising stars in the coaching industry:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Tennessee Titans recently chose to let go of Mike Mularkey which was a surpassing move considering Tennessee went to the postseason and upset the Kansas City Chiefs. However now we know why the Titans were so comfortable with letting a good coach like Mularkey walk away. Mike Vrabel was recently hired as the new head coach of the Tennessee Titans and this is a splash for this organization because Vrabel is one of the brightest coaching minds climbing the ranks right now. Vrabel was a good player recording 57 career sacks, earning 1 pro bowl appearance, and winning 3 Super Bowls with New England Patriots. Yet Vrabel has the chance to be an even better football coach and that’s why he has had such tremendous success with a a clipboard in his hands and a whistle around his neck. Some people play the sport of football and they’re high IQ guys as far as the x and os side of the game goes. It appears Mike Vrabel fits that mold and now everything he has learned over the course of his playing career and coaching career will be tested every Sunday as a head coach. It’s a whole lot more responsibility but Vrabel wouldn’t have made it to this point had he not had success at Ohio State as a linebacker coach and then with the Houston Texans as a linebacker coach / defensive coordinator. Those gigs refined Vrabel’s skills from a coaching stand point and they also perfectly polished this guy to lead the Tennessee Titans. All the pieces are in place for the Titans to take the next step and expect Vrabel to continue to bolster things on the defensive side of the ball. That’s what Mike Vrabel’s specialty is and it could be similar to how Bill Belichick handles himself in New England. Remember Mike Vrabel is familiar with how the Patriots do things having played there for 8 seasons. So you can say Vrabel was essentially mentored by Belichick and that’s definitely something Tennessee’s ownership had to appreciate when they considered him as the ideal candidate for the job.

Charity of the day: International Peace Institute

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The Chargers desperately need to improve their 31st ranked run defense. Acquiring a middle linebacker and a nose tackle should help solve that problem:

Charity of the day: Helen H. Richardson / Denver Post

Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Los Angeles Chargers were on the cusp of making the playoffs but ultimately ended up coming up short at the end of the year. One of the most glaring weaknesses this team has is the fact that they can’t stop the running game at all. The Chargers were the 31st ranked run defense in the league and it’s hard to sustain success in the league when you can’t play fundamental football. Not one middle linebacker on this roster recorded 100 tackles and that’s concerning when you consider that some teams had two linebackers on their roster that achieved that feat. One player who could really be a splash for the Chargers would be free agent Zach Brown. Brown was sensational for the Redskins recording 127 tackles and he has been one of the best middle linebackers in football the past couple of years. If Brown can’t be signed then Los Angeles could settle for Demario Davis. Davis had a great year for the Jets recording 133 tackles but Brown has been a little bit more consistent. Those two guys have to be the top priority heading into the off-season and obviously the goal is to come away with at least one of them. From there the Chargers should go into the draft and do everything they can to select Da’Ron Payne. Payne would bring a great run stuffing presence on the defensive front and then Brown or Davis can fill those running lanes as they open up. Now instead of being ranked 31st this team could hopefully be around the 15th-20th range. Believe or not that improvement would be substantial for this organization and that could be enough to get the Chargers into the postseason. We know Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are going to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. It’s time Los Angeles gets serious about clamping down on the rushing attack and these moves would go a long way in turning things around.

Charity of the day: Trout Unlimited

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Eli Manning should be back better than ever after getting a vote of confidence from Dave Gettleman:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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To say Eli Manning had a rough year would be an understatement. Not only were the Giants absolutely horrible finishing with a 3-13 record, Manning was eventually benched at one point for Geno Smith. Now to be fair Manning was the fall guy for all of New York’s problems and the demotion wasn’t a true reflection of his play. Make no mistake about it Eli Manning is easily the best quarterback on Big Blue’s roster and apparently new General Manager Dave Gettleman feels the same way. Gettleman and Manning apparently had a good meeting and it looks like the future Hall of Fame quarterback will be New York’s starter for the foreseeable future. Not only that but the Giants next head coach Pat Shurmur also believes Eli Manning has a lot of gas left in the tank so it seems like things are finally coming full circle in the Big Apple. Number 10 for the G-men should respond well to all that support from the higher ups and remember this guy still threw for 19 touchdowns and 3,468 yards last year. If this franchise can find a way to somehow improve the talent collectively on this roster things could turn around quickly and Dave Gettleman is the perfect guy to make those adjustments moving forward. A healthy Odell Beckham Jr. will also make the offensive line up much more dynamic so expect the Giants to significantly improve in 2018. One key area that needs to be addressed is the running back position. This team only scored 6 rushing touchdowns in all of 2017 and drafting Saquon Barkley would instantly cure those problems. Barkley would help Manning too because now New York wouldn’t have to pass the ball as often. Ultimately that means less hits/sacks on the quarterback and expect Gettleman to take the Penn State running back if he is there at the number 2 pick. Just the thought of these moves makes this organization more exciting and bet on a comeback year for Eli Manning.

Charity of the day: Trout Unlimited

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Nick Foles will have to raise the bar if he wants to lead the Eagles pass the Minnesota Vikings:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Philadelphia Eagles are coming off a big win against the Atlanta Falcons but things will be much tougher this weekend against the Minnesota Vikings. In order for the Eagles to gain an edge on the Vikings Quarterback Nick Foles will have to do his part by outperforming Case Keenum. Foles has been pretty good since taking over for Carson Wentz throwing for 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in the regular season. However Foles has yet to throw a touchdown in the playoffs and that has to be a concern for Philadelphia moving forward. If the Eagles plan on winning the Super Bowl at some point they are going to need to put some points on the board. Especially with Minnesota’s outstanding defense coming to Lincoln Financial Field this weekend. The good news is Foles has posted a quarterback rating of 100.1 which is actually really good. It will be up to the 28 year old (Foles) to play with confidence and work the ball downfield to Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, and Torrey Smith. Foles should get better each game he plays because his comfort level will improve with each snap. How big would it be for this football team if Nick Foles has his break out game against one of the best defenses in the league? That’s exactly what Philadelphia needs to give them a boost down the stretch and it would go a long way towards winning this high profile match up. It should also be noted that Vikings Safety Andrew Sendejo is a little banged up with a head injury so maybe Nick Foles can take advantage of Sendejo in the vertical passing game. Nagging injuries sometimes affect a player’s confidence which can hinder their play on the field. There’s really no other weakness for Minnesota so that’s a good spot to start for the Eagles when it comes time to play the game.

Charity of the day: The YMCA

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