The Carolina Panthers have the topped ranked defense after two weeks of action, they completely shut opponents down:

Photo credit: Streeter Lecka / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

Interested in advertising with Endzoneblog? Check out goo.gl/ekkvQk

The Carolina Panthers have been absolutely dominant after two weeks of NFL action surrendering only 196 yards to both opponents. When a defense is allowing under 100 yards a game they will get acknowledged quickly and clearly this is the backbone of Ron Rivera’s team. In the past Cam Newton and Kelvin Benjamin were known for turning heads but now Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, and Julius Peppers are making their mark down in Carolina. The Panthers have only given up 6 points all year so that tells you just how fantastic they’ve been and if they keep playing like this Carolina should be a playoff team. Maybe the most fundamental trait of successful football is playing outstanding defense and two recent Super Bowl Champions (Broncos and Seahawks) proved that’s still the winning formula. Carolina isn’t necessarily emulating what those teams did instead they get it done with their own style of play. That’s mainly made up of outstanding linebacker play and a good presence upfront. Obviously when you’re talking about the Panthers defense you have to start with the veteran Linebacker Thomas Davis. Davis has been outstanding so far leading the team in tackles with 14. Thomas Davis has also added 1 sack too so he is getting it done as a run stopper and a pass rusher. Luke Kuechly is the other stand out at the linebacker position. Kuechly has contributed 12 tackles and is always a force in the middle of the field defensively for Carolina. Julius Peppers leads the team in sacks with 2.5 on the year. The addition of Peppers has disrupted opposing quarterbacks and it gives the Panthers another gear on the defensive line. That acquisition alone has put Carolina in the elite category and Peppers is a big reason this team is ranked number 1 in the league defensively. Carolina has gotten a boost from Mario Addison and Wes Horton too, each guy has a sack this season and will be counted on to make significant contributions throughout the season. Together all of these players have gelled well and helped this franchise achieve a very impressive start in 2017. If Carolina can maintain this padlock style of defense the Panthers are going to challenge the Falcons in the NFC South. Remember defense wins championships.

Charity of the day: Action Against Hunger-USA

Go donate! www.actionagainsthunger.org

Bruno Mars

Carson Wentz is currently a top 5 quarterback in terms of passing yards, the Eagles need their young QB to keep up his high level of play:

Photo credit: Peter G Aiken / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

Interested in advertising with Endzoneblog? Check out goo.gl/ekkvQk

The Philadelphia Eagles knew they were getting a good player when they drafted Carson Wentz a season ago but so far Wentz has been very impressive in terms of passing yards amassed. Wentz is currently a top 5 quarterback with 640 passing yards over his first two games and that is significantly better than Eli Manning who Wentz will face off against this weekend. If the Eagles want to come away with a win from that match up they will need Wentz to be at his best and that means he has to elevate his level of play against a tough Giants defense. New York has struggled so far with an 0-2 record but make no mistake about it they will present a challenge to Philadelphia. The Giants are going to be as hungry as ever to get their first win and Wentz has to do his best to control the time of possession in this contest. If Philly can keep their offense on the field and keep Manning on the sidelines that will go a long way in securing a win. Philadelphia should trust LeGarrette Blount and Darren Sproles in the ground game and then let Wentz work against a defense that is on their heels. Ultimately that will help the Eagles entire offense be optimized which should help Wentz continue to put up big numbers. That’s a much better strategy than forcing Carson Wentz to throw 40 times per game and then completely abandoning the running game. When that happen Wentz puts up big numbers but Philadelphia’s overall chances to win significantly diminish. It will be a much better scenario for Doug Pederson’s team to walk away from this weekend with a 2-1 record than it would be for Wentz to be the league leader in passing yards. A 1-2 record would completely undermine all the success Wentz has on the field so while the Eagles need their second year quarterback to be better than ever they also have to play the game with fundamentals. Regardless you have to praise the second year quarterback’s offensive output heading into this weekend.

Charity of the day: Action Against Hunger-USA

Go donate! www.actionagainsthunger.org
The Eagles tickets at Ticket Liquidator

Todd Gurley scores 3 touchdowns to lead the Rams to a 41-39 victory over the 49ers, Watkins catches 2 TDs:

Photo credit: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images Sport

Author:Jon Kuzma

Interested in advertising with Endzoneblog? Check out goo.gl/ekkvQk

The Los Angeles Rams are a completely different team than a season ago. After struggling to put together any offense during the Jeff Fisher era, Sean McVay has came in and completely changed the Rams culture. That has resulted in a whole lot of points being put on the board for Los Angeles and now this team has already put together two 40 point performances this year. Todd Gurley was especially impressive in the Rams win over the 49ers, Gurley scored 3 touchdowns and ran with heart the entire night. Whether it was with his initial burst or second effort attempts Gurley made San Francisco defenders pay all night and it was exciting to see the 3rd year player get back in his groove. Ultimately that paved the way for Jared Goff who responded by throwing for 3 throwing touchdowns in this game. Goff also looks like a brand new man and make no mistake about it the second year quarterback is the main reason Los Angeles has a wining record. Sammy Watkins has made the most of his time on the West Coast too, the former Bills receiver had 2 touchdowns in the Thursday night match up proving the change of scenery has benefited the former first round draft pick. When Goff, Gurley, and Watkins play like this the Rams are a lot of fun to watch and very tough to beat. In the opposite jerseys Brian Hoyer had a strong outing throwing for 2 touchdowns and over 300 yards. Carlos Hyde ran hard for most of the night as well churning out 2 touchdowns and 84 rushing yards. Pierre Garcon was San Francisco’s most notable receiver he hauled in 142 receiving yards. At the end of the day though the Niners were no match for the Rams potent offense and fell two points short of Los Angeles’ 41 points. Defensively Alec Ogletree played spectacular for LA recording 9 tackles. Connor Barwin and Aaron Donald both added a sack too. Jimmie Ford was the top performer for San Francisco’s defense he came up with 7 total tackles. DeForest Bucker also played well with 5 tackles and a forced fumble. Los Angeles improves to 2-1 on the season and should make a push for the NFC West division title. Kyle Shanahan’s team drops to 0-3 and they look like they could be in serious trouble.

Charity of the day: Unbound

Go donate! www.unbound.org

SPRI.com

Toilet Bowl: 49ers, Colts, and Jets are the worst teams in football right now

Photo credit: Icon Sportswire / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

Interested in advertising with Endzoneblog? Check out goo.gl/ekkvQk

Everyone thought the Jets were going to be the worst team in football for the 2017 season but it appears New York has some competition for that title. The San Francisco 49ers are 0-3 right now and seem to be fading fast in the Kyle Shanahan era. Now that’s not to say Shanahan is a poor coach it’s more about how depleted the 49ers roster truly is. Chip Kelly couldn’t win with this team in 2016 and Kyle Shanahan can’t win with this team now. San Francisco will have to acquire as many talented free agents as they can in the off-season and also draft extremely well if they want to be competitive next season. The Colts are in pretty rough shape too. After Andrew Luck failed to recovery health wise from a shoulder injury Indianapolis hasn’t been able to find any rhythm on the field. The Colts did make a good move by acquiring Jacoby Brissett in a trade but until Jim Irsay’s team adds a whole bunch of competent players they are going to continue to struggle Finally the Jets are who we thought they were. After opting to sign Josh McCown to a $6 million contract New York has fallen to 0-2 on the year largely because McCown has failed to put up over 200 yards passing in either contest. The best quarterbacks in the league throw for 300 and even 400 yards per game, something McCown will have to do if he wants to prove he is worthy of a starting job. The Jets should have started Bryce Petty after his strong preseason performance and then allowed the 26 year old quarterback to grow. Instead they decided to go with a 38 year old QB who has a very short future ahead of him. To be honest the Jets might not be the worst team on this list either. San Francisco has a long way to go in order to play winning football and the Colts would have been the worst team by far had they not landed Jacoby Brissett.

Charity of the day: Unbound

Go donate! www.unbound.org

SPRI.com

If the NFL renews Roger Goodell’s contract they deserve to fail, the commissioner is booed often for a reason:

Photo credit: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

Interested in advertising with Endzoneblog? Check ougoo.gl/ekkvQk

NFL insiders are already projecting that Roger Goodell will get a contract extension but that would be a huge mistake for the league. Goodell was an effective commissioner at the beginning of his run but since then the NFL has been plagued by a number of issues mainly in the form of disciplinary mishaps. NFL fans got sick of hearing about Tom Brady and the Deflategate case which loomed like a dark cloud over things for a couple of years. As soon as that situation got cleared up and we thought everything smooth sailing, Goodell dropped another bomb in our laps with the Ezekiel Elliott trial. The problem hasn’t been with the games or the talent on the field at all, it’s been the extra curricular off the field blunders that constantly happen under Goodell’s command. Obviously those circumstances are pushing some fans away from the game and it’s kind of hard to blame those people. Pro sports are supposed to be a release from all the struggles of our own life and now the NFL is full of drama itself. The NBA, MLB, and NHL handle similar setbacks with much more grace and all of these failures have to fall on the leader’s shoulders. Unfortunately for Roger Goodell those are his burdens to carry and it would be foolish for the league to give this man another contract. If you’ve been paying attention to attendance and the television ratings the NFL is trending downward for the first time in awhile. Goodell has played a large part in digging pro football’s hole and the best course of action would be to omit the current commissioner from the equation. There’s a reason fans boo Goodell every time he tries to speak publicly, it’s because they know the damage this guy has done to the shield particularly in the last five years. There has to be someone else out there who is qualified to run the show but understands how to handle the letdowns without giving the league a black eye. Finding that person would be the best course of action for the NFL.

Charity of the day: Gary Sinise Foundation

Go donate! www.garysinisefoundation.org
SPRI.com

The Vikings playoff hopes are squarely on Sam Bradford’s shoulders, If Bradford can’t play Minnesota is done for:

Photo credit: Brett Carlsen / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

Interested in advertising with Endzoneblog? Check out goo.gl/ekkvQk

The Minnesota Vikings looked extremely lackluster this past weekend against the Pittsburgh Steelers and a big reason why was because Sam Bradford didn’t play. Bradford looked exceptional in week 1 against the New Orleans Saints but suffered a knee injury in that match up which sidelined him for week 2. If Minnesota wants a chance to get to the postseason Bradford will have to suit up and this is a serious concern for Mike Zimmer’s team. The Vikings take a huge step back when Case Keenum is their starting quarterback and Bradford’s value means so much to this football team. The stat line will tell you that because Bradford had 3 touchdowns against New Orleans in week 1. While Keenum couldn’t even manage one touchdowns against the Pittsburgh defense. Now to be fair the Steelers are much better than the Saints defensively but it’s obvious when you plug in the tape that Bradford has much more throwing ability. That skill set allows the Vikings as a whole to be way more dynamic offensively and when you get guys like Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen involved, they will reward you throughout the game. Those receivers struggled to find their rhythm with Keenum commanding the offense and if Bradford can’t go maybe Minnesota would be better off with another option besides Case Keenum? In the National Football League you’re only as good as your QB and when a back up can’t give a team any offensive output that franchise becomes dead in the water. Minnesota has a great defense so they can keep games close but ultimately the Vikings have to be able to put points on the board in order to compete. This is something football fans should keep an eye on as the season progresses because Minnesota is a good team and they will be drastically handicapped if Bradford can’t take the field. Early indications are Bradford could play this weekend but if he can’t perform at an optimal level that also could hurt the Vikings significantly. It’s safe to say Minnesota is in quite the predicament.

Charity of the day: Gary Sinise Foundation

Go donate! www.garysinisefoundation.org

SPRI.com

The Falcons have the ultimate two back system, Freeman and Coleman can wear down opposing defenses:

Photo credit: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

Interested in advertising with Endzoneblog? Check out goo.gl/ekkvQk

The Atlanta Falcons are 2-0 on the season after beating the Green Bay Packers 34-23 and if you’ve watch Atlanta play you probably noticed their two dominant running backs. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are tasked with carrying the load for the Falcons and each player brings a unique running style to this offense. Freeman is the lead back and is extremely shifty. Devonta Freeman can beat you with outstanding lower body strength and a downhill running style. He is a little bit smaller than Tevin Coleman but what Freeman lack in size he has made up in production (121 yards, 3 touchdowns). On the other hand Tevin Coleman is a little bit bigger and actually a step or two faster than Freeman. Coleman hasn’t been able to put together the body of the work that Devonta Freeman has but he is an excellent back up and provides Atlanta with a decent spark every time he comes on the field. The best thing about these two players is when the defense gets tired, the other running back can come on field fresh and make exhausted defenders pay. That naturally creates a match up advantage for the Falcons and to be honest Atlanta doesn’t have to throw the ball to beat teams. Everyone thinks about Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Mohamed Sanu when talking about the Falcons. However this team can beat you with it’s running attack and that helps set up the dynamic passing game. Every team in the National Football League strives to have a balanced offense, fortunately for the Falcons they have one of the best offensive groups and these two guys(Freeman/Coleman) are big part of that. There’s a reason Atlanta went to the Super Bowl last year it’s because they’re so explosive when it comes to putting points on the board. Expect Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to score a boatload of touchdown before the season ends. There’s no stopping the Falcons stable of running backs.

Charity of the day: Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

Go donate! www.christopherreeve.org

SPRI.com

Ziggy Ansah’s 3 sacks help the Lions knock off the Giants 24-10, Stafford outplays Manning:

Photo credit: Steve Dykes

Author: Jon Kuzma

Interested in advertising with Endzoneblog? Check out goo.gl/ekkvQk

The Detroit Lions went on the road and took it to the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Ziggy Ansah led the way for the Detroit Lions recording 6 tackles, 3 sacks, and 1 forced fumble. Ansah was a force off the right edge of the Lions defense and frequently hit Eli Manning throughout this football game. That set the tone for the Lions and there was no looking back for Jim Caldwell’s team. Matthew Stafford played exceptionally well in this contest too, he showed up Eli Manning throwing for 122 yards and 2 touchdowns. Ameer Abdullah also ran the ball hard for the Lions offense racking up 86 yards on 17 rushing attempts. Eric Ebron and Marvin Jones both had a good night for Detroit receiving wise, both Ebron and Jones hauled in a touchdown reception. Manning struggled for most of this game he was sacked five times and could never find a groove. Manning’s stat line ended up being 239 passing yards, 1 touchdowns, and 1 interception. That 1 touchdown pass that Manning did throw went to rookie Tight End Evan Engram. Special teams also played a huge role in this game, Detroit rookie Jamal Agnew took a punt return 88 yards for a score. On the defensive side of the ball Glover Quin made some big time plays for the Lions and finished with 6 tackles. Tahir Whitehead put up 8 tackles and an interception for Detroit’s defense as well. The Giants were led by Dominique Rodgers Cromartie’s 11 tackles. Calvin Munson, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Kerry Wynn all had a sack for New York’s pass rush. In the end the Lions rolled and had the momentum for all four quarters of the game. At no point did the Giants lead in this match up and that has to be concern if you’re a New York fan. Detroit on the other hand improves to 2-0 and look like one of the better teams in the NFC.

Charity of the day: CJ First Candle

Go donate! www.cjfirstcandle.org

SPRI.com

Julius Peppers has been dominant for the Carolina Panthers over the first two weeks, Peppers has 2.5 sacks this year:

Photo credit: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

Interested in advertising with Endzoneblog? Check out goo.gl/ekkvQk

The Carolina Panthers made a huge acquisition when they signed free agent Julius Peppers away from the Green Bay Packers. While Green Bay may have thought Peppers was getting too old and losing a step on the field. Clearly that hasn’t been the case so far and Peppers has recorded 2.5 sacks over the Panthers first two games. It’s become apparent that Peppers is more than just a role player, he is instead a huge contributor. Which helps raise the bar for the Carolina defensive line. Not only do the Panthers have Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis who can get it done on the defensive side of the ball. With Peppers there too quarterbacks are constantly on their heels and doing everything they can to escape the veterans overwhelming pass rush. At 37 years old nobody could have predicted that Peppers would come out of the gate this hot but then again this is a future Hall of Famer and anything is possible with the right determination. The Packers foolishly undervalued Peppers significance and now Carolina will get a boatload of production from Peppers who actually started his career in Carolina back in 2002. Eventually Julius Peppers would suit up for the Chicago and then Green Bay but it’s pretty special story that the North Carolina native would wind up back in his home state playing for the team that drafted him (Panthers). Ultimately that has to help Peppers with his comfort level because there is no place like home. Sometimes the support you have around you can pay big dividends and so far that seems to be the case with the 16 year pro. Keep an eye on how Peppers plays for the rest of the season and whether or not he can maintain the success he has had over the first two games? It won’t be easy but then again Julius Peppers is a very rare type of athlete.

Charity of the day: CJ First Candle

Go donate! www.cjfirstcandle.org

SPRI.com

Broncos thump the Cowboys 42-17, Trevor Siemian threw for 4 touchdown passes:

Photo credit: Dustin Bradford / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

Interested in advertising with Endzoneblog? Check out goo.gl/ekkvQk

The Broncos and Cowboys game was rain delayed for an hour but when it was all said and done the Broncos stood victorious 42-17. Trevor Siemian had a great day throwing the ball for the Broncos offense, Siemian finished with 231 passing yards and 4 touchdowns. That was Trevor Siemian’s second game of at least 4 touchdowns passes, he also threw 4 TDs against the Cincinnati Bengals last year. Emmanuel Sanders caught 2 of those touchdown receptions for the Broncos offense. Sanders also added 62 yards and was Denver’s most significant contributor through the air. CJ Anderson played extremely well for the Broncos too, Anderson rushed for 118 yards and 1 touchdown. One year removed from a season ending injury Anderson also caught a touchdown pass showing he can make an impact as a ball carrier and as a pass catcher. When Denver’s offense plays like this they can be flat out lethal and expect to see Vance Joseph’s team in the postseason when everything plays out. On the opposite sideline Dak Prescott struggled throwing 238 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Prescott threw 4 interceptions in all of 2016, so he already has half that total after facing Denver’s defense. Jason Witten had 97 yards and 1 touchdown for Dallas, Dez Bryant also caught a touchdown pass and added 59 receiving yards. Chris Harris and Aqib Talib both had interceptions for the Broncos defense. Talib managed to turn his interception into a pick six though returning the pass all the way for a Denver score. Von Miller was virtually unstoppable in this contest too, he finished the game with 2 tackles and 2 sacks. Sean Lee led the way for Dallas with 9 defensive stops. Demarcus Lawrence was a force as well he had 7 tackles and 2 sacks for the Cowboys. Denver is now 2-0 in 2017 and have taken significant strides from the team they were a season ago. Dallas on the other had seems to be struggling to maintain the success they had last season.

Charity of the day: FINCA International

Go donate! www.finca.org
SPRI.com

1 2 3 143