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

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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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There seems to be some friction between Jameis Winston and DeSean Jackson. Don’t surprised if things turn ugly in the future:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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DeSean Jackson recently went on television and said “Jameis Winston needs to stop trying to impress the world.” While some might look at this as a serious statement and agree with Jackson’s comments you have to remember the Buccaneers severely underachieved this past season. Clearly that hasn’t sat well with anyone in Tampa Bay’s organizations but keep an eye on whether or not Winston and Jackson’s relationship continues to regress? When this franchise signed DeSean Jackson as a free agent this past off-season this move was supposed to bolster their passing game. Instead it led to a decrease in production for Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson never really shaped up into a big contributor either. It almost feels like the the Buccaneers were better without Jackson because than all of those passes would be going to the more talented Evans. This whole situation can end up unraveling because DeSean Jackson believes that he should be the first option. Those are unrealistic expectations in Tampa Bay and calling out your quarterback isn’t going to make things any better. Winning would definitely cure some of the problems that are going on in Western Florida but if Jackson doesn’t keep his mouth shut there’s a good chance Winston will clap back at the veteran receiver. You almost have to wonder if this team would be better off cutting Jackson and moving forward with the other guys on their roster? Chemistry and morale are so important when it comes to winning in the National Football League. There’s a reason teams like the Patriots continuously have success and it’s because they block out the noise. To be honest Jackson might even be trying to push himself out of Tampa Bay by making comments like these. There’s no way the Bucs are going to move on from Jameis Winston because he is face of the franchise. The logical move seems like getting rid of Jackson because has been somewhat of a problem child throughout his career. Cutting Jackson would cost the Buccaneers around $22 million dollars but sometimes it’s better to keep a positive locker room and it’s not like Jackson’s 668 yards and 3 touchdowns aren’t replaceable.

Charity of the day: The YMCA

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What Deshaun Watson was able to accomplish in seven games was truly remarkable. We could be witnessing one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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If you watched Deshaun Watson’s National Championship win over Alabama in 2017 you knew he was a gamer. Watson threw for 420 yards and 3 touchdowns in a win over the Crimson Tide and everything that made the former Clemson QB sensational in college has translated over to the pros. In only seven games of action Watson threw for 1,699 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. Those numbers are impressive considering the rookie didn’t even play in half a season (there are sixteen NFL games). When you factor in Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor, and Marcus Mariota threw for less touchdowns than Watson despite playing in all sixteen games you begin to see just how effective the Texans quarterback truly is. The challenge for Watson isn’t skill or competence it’s the fact that he is battling back from an ACL tear. Obviously that’s going to be a tough task to overcome but keep in mind knee injuries aren’t what they once were. Back in the old days your career was over if you tore your a major ligament in your knee but medical advances have significantly decreased that time. In today’s era a lot of athletes are able to bounce back the following season and continue right where they left off. Well it sounds like Watson is going to be one of those guys because so far his rehabilitation is on track. J.J Watson and Watson have been training down in Houston and all signs point to the prolific passer having a big season in 2018. Bill O’Brien will be back next season as well so the playbook will be the same and that consistency bodes well for the Texans’ future. Expect to see even more touchdowns put up when Watson returns because this guy has a knack for making big plays on the football field. It will be interesting to see the additions the front office makes to the roster in order to put Watson in an even more favorable position? A good start would be signing or drafting some offensive linemen especially since Houston gave up 54 sacks this past season.

Charity of the day: National Council on Aging

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In an era where loyalty to seems to be lost, Drew Brees continues to prove he is committed to New Orleans:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Remember sports in the late 80s and early 90s? It seemed like every marquee player had the dream of staying with the franchise that drafted them. Things have changed in today’s era and players now days have no problem skipping town for a better offer. Drew Brees however isn’t one of those guys, the Saints future hall of fame quarterback is committed to staying in New Orleans despite the fact he is an unrestricted free agent. Any team in the league could make a mega offer to land the 39 year old signal caller but Brees has already made it clear he has no plans of testing the open market. Last time the Saints and Brees had contract negotiations it didn’t go as smoothly as either side would like. Hopefully this time New Orleans does a better job of making Brees feel appreciated but at the same time it’s not an easy deal to work out. Most teams aren’t in a position to sign a player who is almost 40 years old and that puts an odd twist on things. Especially when it comes to the length of the contract. It feels like a two year deal would be in the best interest of this organization but then again the Saints could settle with giving Brees a one year agreement. The Saints don’t want to sign Drew Brees for too long because then they will overpay for his services, you would think this team would have no problem doing that but that’s not how sports work. With so many other spots to fill on the roster most front offices try to save every penny they can in order to have some leniency when it comes to signing other positions. Which means if the Saints overpay for their QB they might have to pay less for a safety, linebacker, etc. By keeping Brees’ contract length / pay down that ensures this team can sign other talented players so hopefully everything works out for all parties involved. One thing is for certain the fans in Louisiana have to be excited that Brees will likely retire in a Saints jersey.

Charity of the day: Oxfam-America

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Telvin Smith has been hands down the best defender in the postseason. He’s also been extremely impressive over the first four years of his career:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Jacksonville Jaguars have been putting together a great playoff run so far and Telvin Smith has been leading the charge for the Jags. Smith has 27 tackles in the postseason which is 10 more than the second best defender (Von Bell). Not only has Smith been a machine when it comes to producing defensive stops, he also scooped and scored a 50 yard fumble recovery against the Pittsburgh Steelers. That was such a crucial play in that contest because Jacksonville one by a narrow margin of 45-42. If Smith doesn’t make that play Pittsburgh very well could be moving on to the next round and it just goes to show how much of an impact the fourth year linebacker has made. Telvin Smith hasn’t just been good in the playoffs either, the former Florida State alum has recorded over 100 tackles all four years he has been in the league. This guy is just another young dynamic player on the Jaguars defense and it’s safe to say this roster is built for the long run. If Jacksonville can play lights out against the Patriots anything is possible, success for this team starts with disrupting Tom Brady in the pocket. If you let Brady have time to operate he will pick you apart. It will be up to Calais Campbell, Marcell Dareus, and Telvin Smith to find a way to get pressure on the Patriots QB and rattle him. If Smith can score another defensive touchdown that would also go along way towards winning that match up. Regardless Jacksonville and New England should be a showdown for the ages you have one the hottest up and coming teams vs the reigning champs. Jacksonville’s coaching staff has to put an emphasis on winning the turnover battle if they want to win that game. Everything else should fall into place from there.

Charity of the day: Oxfam-America

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Mike Mularkey deserved more from the Tennessee Titans after guiding them back to the playoffs:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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With news coming out of Nashville that the Tennessee Titans are firing Mike Mularkey you have wonder what the team is thinking? Mike Mularkey not only took the Titans to the playoffs this season he also helped his squad upset the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Wild Card. You’d think those accomplishments were enough to secure his job but it’s clear Tennessee’s ownership has other plans. When you factor in that Mike Tomlin underachieved with the Steelers and gets to keep his job. Yet Mike Mularkey overachieved and gets fired it becomes obvious how much politics are involved in the National Football League. It seems like the Titans didn’t like Mularkey but who cares if your team is heading in the right direction? We all have to work with people that we aren’t too fond of and that’s just a part of life. This could end up being a terrible decision for this franchise because they were heading in the right direction. There was no reason to interrupt the growth that would have happened had Mularkey been retained. The rumor is Mike Vrabel is being targeted to replace Mike Mularkey but it’s still a questionable decision based on everything that has transpired this past season. Even though the front office did a great job of putting together a talented roster heading into 2017. You have to give credit to Mularkey for delivering results which isn’t easy to do at all in the NFL. A lot of people think the Titans offense was lackluster and that’s why they couldn’t be the Patriots. While that is true it’s hard it’s to put all of the pieces together when there isn’t enough weapons on the outside to match up with a team of that caliber. It just feels like this organization should have been more appreciative of everything Mike Mularkey has done and this could back to haunt the Tennessee Titans in the future.

Charity of the day: ProLiteracy Worldwide

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Mike Tomlin has to be on the hot seat after his poor situational football strategies cost the Steelers:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Mike Tomlin is one of the more liked football coaches in the National Football League because he brings a lot of charisma to the table. However Tomlin has to be held accountable for costing the Steelers the AFC divisional round match up against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Tomlin had a loaded roster entering this season with players like Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Even the role players like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Brant prove how much depth that Pittsburgh has on their roster. It’s clear the front office did enough to put together a Super Bowl winning team but Tomlin made so many bad decisions against the Jaguars that it all fell apart. How you lose a football game when your quarterback (Roethlisberger) throws 5 touchdown passes is unfathomable but somehow Tomlin managed to let that happen? It’s not just the offense that was stacked either. T.J Watt, Artie Burns, and Sean Davis these were all key acquisitions that put Pittsburgh in a very favorable position. Throw in the fact that James Harrison was released and will probably win a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots and it’s clear the coaching staff didn’t do their job this season. Team’s weakest links usually get exposed late in the year and it was obvious that this coaching staff was the shortcoming for the Steelers. Even though Tomlin is a good coach sometimes you need a guy who can get more out of the players. If the Steel City lost to New England in the AFC Championship game again that would have been one thing, but to lose to the Jaguars twice in one season is definitely a red flag. The Steelers should have been blowing teams out all season, instead they were usually putting together come from behind wins. That can’t sit well with ownership because the fans in Pittsburgh deserved more with every acquisition this team has made over the last couple seasons. Don’t expect Tomlin to get fired but you have to reevaluate him and at least consider it.

Charity of the day: ProLiteracy Worldwide

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The Minnesota Vikings score with no time left on the clock to beat the New Orleans Saints, Stefon Diggs caught the touchdown pass that sent the Vikings to the NFC Championship:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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If you love back and forth action then the Vikings vs Saints game was everything you hoped for. The Vikings jumped out to an early 17-0 lead entering halftime but that’s when New Orleans came battling back. The Saints put together 24 second half points and were leading with one minute left in the contest. That should have been enough to clinch the game but Case Keenum had other plans. Keenum threw a pass to Stefon Diggs with 10 seconds left and Diggs made one Saints defender miss. From there it was off to the races and Diggs scored on a 61 yard pass with no time left on the clock. The energy in U.S Bank Stadium was electric after that play and what a way to advance to the NFC Championship. Case Keenum ended up throwing for 318 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception when it was all said and done. Latavius Murray and Jerrick McKinnon each added a rushing touchdown on the ground. Stefon Diggs was Minnesota’s top receiver with 137 yards and 1 touchdown. Adam Thielen was pretty good in this one as well he chipped in 74 receiving yards. Drew Brees left it all out on the field throwing for 294 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Michael Thomas was pretty stellar in this one too, he hauled in 85 yards and 2 touchdowns. All New Orleans had to do was make a tackle on the final play and they would be moving on. Unfortunately for the Saints their safety Marcus Williams whiffed on that play and the rest is history. Minnesota will take on the Eagles next week in the NFC Championship and you have to be excited for the big defensive battle. Case Keenum vs Nick Foles will also be an exciting match up and the better QB performance will go a long way towards a win.

Charity of the day: National Psoriasis Foundation

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