If Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t fully recover then the Pittsburgh Steelers appear to be Devlin Hodges’ team:

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Photo credit: Justin Berl

Author: Jon Kuzma


Everyone thought Mason Rudolph was the heir to the Pittsburgh Steelers throne but now it appears Devlin Hodges is. Rudolph was struggling with turnovers and with Hodges at least the Steelers don’t beat themselves. Even without James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Hodges has managed to keep Pittsburgh in the playoff hunt. And if Ben Roethlisberger’s elbow doesn’t heal up properly then we could see Hodges named the full-time starter. There could be other options out there like Eli Manning but it’s probably better to go with the younger and cheaper player. When you actually watch the former undrafted free agent play it becomes obvious that Hodges knows how to manage a game.


He’s very good in the pocket and some of his deep passes are right on the money. James Washington is usually on the receiving end of those throws and the two seem to have some chemistry. Then there’s the things that Hodges does on the short and intermediate stuff. It seems like he always makes the right decision and that’s why his quarterback rating is 103.2. Which is good enough to win in the NFL and it’s the reason Hodges has become a sensation around the league. Don’t forget he’s also a World Champion duck caller so this is a guy with many different talents. We could be witnessing the future of this franchise and it’s safe to say he came out of nowhere.

Charity of the day: Trout Unlimited

Go donate! www.tu.org

Darius Slayton has been more than a rookie wide receiver. It’s becoming obvious that he’s an impact player for the New York Giants:

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Photo credit: Emilee Chinn

Author: Jon Kuzma


Last night the New York Giants lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 23-17 but one player made a great impression. That was rookie wide receiver Darius Slayton who torched the Eagles defensive backs for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns. And if you watched Slayton while he was at Auburn then this should come as no surprise. This guy is simply faster than everybody else on the field and he’s so good at getting behind the secondary.



Eli Manning was lobbing his passes out in front of Slayton and letting the 22 year old pass catcher run underneath them. Slayton also hauled in a slant, broke a tackle, and then went for a 35 yard touchdown. When you’re a rookie entering the league and trying to make a name for yourself. Those are the type of plays that you have to make. Now we have to mention Slayton up there with D.K Metcalf and A.J Brown who are also having rookie breakout seasons. In fact Slayton has been better than those guys and when you consider that the Giants took him in the 5th round. It’s clear this selection has been tremendous value for New York. Dave Gettleman made the right call on draft night and it’s showing on the field each week.

Charity of the day: Trout Unlimited

Go donate! www.tu.org

Don’t write off the Philadelphia Eagles just yet. They’re tied for first place in the NFC East after beating the New York Giants 23-17:

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Photo credit: Steven Ryan

Author: Jon Kuzma


The Philadelphia Eagles came out flat against the New York Giants. This team fell behind 17-3 before going into halftime. Eli Manning and Darius Slayton carved them up but you have to respect Philly for not rolling over. Thanks to a big second half from Carson Wentz and Zach Ertz the Eagles were able to battle back. That’s despite the fact that Lane Johnson and Alshon Jeffery both got hurt and let’s be honest Doug Pederson’s ball club showed some character. Eventually they were able to send the game to overtime and that was a miracle after how slow they started. Once Philadelphia won the coin toss you kind of got the feeling how things were going to play out. Shortly after Miles Sanders broke free for a big run and got the Eagles into scoring range.


Then the Giants had a breakdown in coverage which resulted in a game winning touchdown for Ertz. Obviously this is huge because Philadelphia tied up Dallas in the NFC East. So the pressure is on the Cowboys because they can’t afford to lose any more games along the way. Doing so would give the Eagles a chance to leapfrog them and claim the division. Which is something that seemed out of reach at the beginning of the night when the Giants appeared to be heading towards a win.

Charity of the day: Compassion International

Go donate! www.compassion.com

Aaron Jones was the best player on the field in the Green Bay Packers 20-15 win over the Washington Redskins:

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Author: Jon Kuzma


What‘s been the secret to the Green Bay Packers 10-3 record? That’s an easy answer it’s Aaron Jones. The former 5th round pick has finally reached his full potential. That was on display against the Washington Redskins because he had 134 rushing yards and 1 touchdown. Jones also hauled in 58 receiving yards and this is what he’s done the entire season. Green Bay wears you down with their rushing attack and then they like to throw the ball to their running backs out of the backfield. Of course it helps when you have an elite talent like Jones who can make the most out of every touch he gets.


It seems like this guy is always breaking at least one tackle on each run and it’s made up for Aaron Rodgers declining stats. We’ve seen a similar situation when John Elway had to lean on Terrell Davis late in his career. Clearly this approach is working for Green Bay and they’re going to have a chance to win another Super Bowl this year. It’s not going to be easy with San Francisco and New Orleans as the two top dogs in the NFC. However if Jones goes off then the Packers can give anyone fits. It’s been a while since there’s been this kind of optimism for this franchise. The key is to keep feeding Jones.

Charity of the day: Wildlife Conservation Society

Go donate! www.wcs.org

The Los Angeles Rams are right on the Minnesota Vikings’ heels for the final NFC playoff spot:

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Photo credit: Ezra Shaw

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Los Angeles Rams defense came to play against Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks. Aaron Donald was absorbing multiple blocks and that freed up Samson Ebukam and Dante Fowler off the edges. On one play Fowler and Donald worked a twist and took Wilson down for a sack. And that was pretty much how the night went for the Seahawks. We could see throughout the season that the Rams defense had a lot of potential and now they’re starting to put it all together. Wade Phillips is getting so much out of his players and this is exactly what Los Angeles needs since they’re trailing the Minnesota Vikings by one game in the NFC playoff picture.


Let’s be honest keeping Russell Wilson in check isn’t easy to do but with the pressure they’re bringing up front and with the addition of Jalen Ramsey in pass coverage. Things are starting to work themselves out for the Rams. Todd Gurley is also getting it going on offense and it’s been the exact opposite story as a year ago. Gurley was suffering from arthritis in his knee last year but now he’s carrying this team during the final stretch of the season. That’s a big reason their playoff hopes are still alive but they still need Minnesota to stumble.

Charity of the day: Wildlife Conservation Society

Go donate! www.wcs.org

Jaylon Smith went from a risky draft pick to the top linebacker in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys nailed that selection:

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Photo credit: Andrew Dieb

Author: Jon Kuzma

If you go back to the 2016 Fiesta Bowl it was a rough night for Jaylon Smith. The best defensive player in college football tore his ACL and MCL and would fall all the way to the 2nd round in the NFL Draft. Eventually Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys would take Smith and that was one of the better decisions this organization has made recently. Smith currently leads the NFL with 120 tackles and it’s amazing how quickly he closes in on ball carriers. This is a very instinctive player and because his awareness is much higher than most other players it helps Smith create a lot of opportunities for his team. Unfortunately it hasn’t been the best season for Dallas but they have to take everything in stride. They’re still first in their division and that will get them a playoff birth. Then their players have to step up and make a miracle happen. Guys like Jaylon Smith and Ezekiel Elliott have to be at their best. The reason why it’s those two is because they’re Dallas’ most gifted athletes. They play on opposite sides of the ball but Elliott and Smith can get hot and help this team at least win a playoff game. No one in the world thinks they’re capable of it but everyone in that locker room has to believe. For Smith this is a small hurdle for everything he’s been through because he came a long way after that knee injury that cost him his entire rookie season.

Charity of the day: Compassion International

Go donate! www.compassion.com

Latavius Murray has been a pleasant surprise for the New Orleans Saints. Murray has provided a spark on the ground:

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Photo credit: Jonathan Bachman

Author: Jon Kuzma

Latavius Murray has always been a better football player than people gave him credit for. Back when Murray was with the Oakland Raiders he had two really good seasons in 2015 and 2016. That probably should’ve resulted in a contract extension but instead Murray signed with the Minnesota Vikings and split time with Dalvin Cook.



Because Cook eventually became one of the top running backs in the NFL it led Murray to pursue an opportunity elsewhere. We know now that was with the New Orleans Saints. And when Alvin Kamara went down with an injury it was Murray who stepped up and kept this team in the hunt. This guy has combined for 6 total touchdowns this year and that’s great value for the $3.5M that the Saints pay Murray annually. Clearly Sean Payton knew that Murray was being overlooked. It’s been the story of his career but every time he’s given an opportunity Murray makes the most out of it. From the outside looking in you have to love that characteristic because it shows how resilient his personality is. Obviously that’s been crucial along Murray’s journey and now New Orleans is going to need him to prove he can do the same thing in the playoffs. Everyone is keying in on Alvin Kamara and if Latavius Murray can stay hot then the Saints will be much tougher to beat.

Charity of the day: Wilderness Society

Go donate! www.wilderness.org

Rumbling towards the playoffs. Derrick Henry has been rolling for the Tennessee Titans and now they have a shot at winning the AFC South:

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Photo credit: Wesley Hitt

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Tennessee Titans have two division games left on their schedule and both of them are against the Houston Texans. If Tennessee can win each of those games they’re going to be very close to getting in the playoffs. This is the opportunity of a lifetime for a team that didn’t have a lot of hope at the beginning of the season. Yeah benching Marcus Mariota for Ryan Tannehill was huge. But we can’t overlook how good Derrick Henry has been for this team. Henry has 1,140 rushing yards this season and he’s been fundamental in the Titans three-game winning streak.


Now isn’t the time to cool off either. Henry needs to keep his foot on the gas and help Tennessee go 4-0 over this next month. With how much power Henry runs with its very possible. This guy is like a battering ram destroying anything that’s in his path. And he’s also showing a good burst for being a 238 pound ball carrier. That’s why Henry has 3 consecutive games with at least 100 yards and 6 touchdowns during that same span of time. When you’re getting that kind of production on the ground it’s so much easier to win games. The return of Taylor Lewan has certainly helped but give Henry his dues as well. There’s no stopping him when he’s in the zone. We also have to acknowledge that Henry is only 35 yards behind the NFL’s rushing leader, Nick Chubb. So there’s still a possibility that Derrick Henry could end up as the best running back in pro football for the 2019 season.

Charity of the day: Center for Biological Diversity

Go donate! www.biologicaldiversity.org

Mitchell Trubisky and the Chicago Bears were better than expected in their 31-24 triumph over the Dallas Cowboys:

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Photo credit: Jonathan Daniel

Author: Jon Kuzma

Mitchell Trubisky has been under a lot of pressure lately and rightfully so. The third year quarterback has struggled for most of the season but that wasn’t the case against the Dallas Cowboys. Chicago started the game off hot and it was because Trubisky was throwing the football extremely well. Believe it or not the Bears offense is serviceable when they get this kind of play from the quarterback position. Trubisky finished the night with 244 yards, 3 touchdowns, and, 1 interception. Plus he also made an impact with his legs like we seen him do last year. It’s the inconsistency which has held back the former Tar Heel’s development but he was dialed in against the Cowboys. Early in the game J.P Holtz got involved and gave this offense a spark. Allen Robinson also had a great night with 2 touchdowns. So Trubisky got some help from his supporting cast and it’s what has to happen if they want to compete on that side of the ball.



Chicago still needs to add another receiver opposite of Robinson but it doesn’t matter if Trubisky doesn’t play up to his potential. Tonight he carried the torch well and that’s the way it has to be from here on out. Mitchell Trubisky is on very thin ice and he’s trying to hold on to be the Chicago Bears starting quarterback job. Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy are evaluating his play each week so Trubisky has to get back on track and this was a good night for him.

Charity of the day: Center for Biological Diversity

Go donate! www.biologicaldiversity.org

No stranger to success. Shaquil Barrett is reaching his full potential and it’s not surprising if you know his history:

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Photo credit: Alex Burstow

Author: Jon Kuzma

Good players help teams win Super Bowls. Which is why Shaquil Barrett got a ring with the Denver Broncos back in 2015. And if you go back before then Barrett won the Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year award during his senior season at Colorado State. So when you dig into Barrett’s history he’s been a good player for most of his life but somehow he slipped through the cracks and went undrafted. Well none of that matters now because Barrett is leading the NFL with 14.5 sacks. This guy has developed a nice set of pass rushing moves and it’s helped him become a much more confident player. On film it’s amazing how far Barrett is willing to go in order to complete his mission of sacking the quarterback. He reacts instantly and his relentless pursuit took him to that next level. When Barrett is coming off the edge it’s a force to be reckoned with. And he’s the perfect match for Todd Bowles’ system. Bowls knows that Barrett’s at his best when they blitz him. So most of the plays are designed so that Barrett can play to his strengths. Other defensive players don’t have the speed and tenacity that he’s playing with right now and it’s clear that Shaq Barrett deserves to be recognized as one of the true stars of the 2019 season. Offensive linemen haven’t figured out how to block this guy and it’s causing a lot of problems. Which means Barrett will make way more money in 2020 because he’s heading into free agency this off-season. Someone will pay this man a huge salary because he can get their team off the field on third down.

Charity of the day: Children’s Defense Fund

Go donate! www.childrensdefense.org

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