Cowboys survive MNF match up against Redskins 19-16:

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Photo credit: S.P Ablab

Author: Jon Kuzma

Who would of thought that after 13 weeks of NFL action the NFC East division would still be wide open? Three teams in the division are tied for first place and the Redskins who dropped last night’s match up against the Cowboys in overtime are coincidentally still in the lead of that division. The team who beat them the Dallas Cowboys are in last place in the NFC East but are only one game out of the division lead. Meaning the team that does win the NFC East still might have a top ten draft pick this off-season, showing just how crazy this year has been. The game itself was no different, neither team could really get going offensively and due to the lack of touchdowns the field goal kickers had their selves a nice little showdown. In fact the first 18 points in the game were scored by either Dustin Hopkins or Dan Bailey. Showing just how important placekicking can truly be to a pro football team. The deciding factor outside of the kicking game came down to the fact that Dallas was able to win in almost every phase of the game. The Cowboys passed for more yards, rushed for more yards, and caught more yards than the Redskins did. Additionally they were able to come up with more sacks and tackles for loss on defense. Showing that the Cowboys are still a tough team to beat even without Tony Romo in the line up. The Redskins on the other hand stumble in a game that they certainly should of won. The team entered the game with a chance to widen the gap of their division lead with a win last night. Instead they now drop back into a three way tie with the Eagles and Giants. The Desean Jackson -7 yard punt return and fumble ended up haunting this team. In a game that is so close one play can be the difference maker. That play will surely haunt Jackson and the Redskins for some time to come. They have to shake it off quickly however if they plan on clinching the division down the stretch. It’s still anyones for the taking.

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Week 14 Power Rankings

Seahawks at Redskins 10/6/14

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Joey Carr

1. Carolina Panthers

2. Cincinnati Bengals

3. Arizona Cardinals

4. Denver Broncos

5. New England Patriots

6. Pittsburgh Steelers

7. Kansas City Chiefs

8. Green Bay Packers

9. Seattle Seahawks

10. New York Jets

11. Minnesota Vikings

12. Indianapolis Colts

13. Houston Texans

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

15. Buffalo Bills

16. Washington Redskins

17. Atlanta Falcons

18. New York Giants

19. Philadelphia Eagles

20. Chicago Bears

21. Jacksonville Jaguars

22. Oakland Raiders

23. Miami Dolphins

24. San Francisco 49ers

25. Baltimore Ravens

26. New Orleans Saints

27. Tennessee Titans

28. Dallas Cowboys

29. Detroit Lions

30. St. Louis Rams

31. San Diego Chargers

32. Cleveland Browns

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What Happened to the Atlanta Falcons?

Falcons at Ravens 10/19/14

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Joey Carr

It all started off so good; a new head coach was taking the reigns, all of the receivers were back healthy, and the defense looked like it was finally going to do some damage and help out their quarterback. And for a while, it looked like the Falcons were, at last, back to being a team atop the league standings like we’ve grown accustomed to in years past. They were 5-0, scoring a plethora of points game in and game out, and causing turnovers like it was their job (well it is their job but last year you would of thought that the Atlanta D were just a bunch of guys found on the street if you didn’t know any better). Things were going perfectly for new head coach Dan Quinn to start the season; but then, something happened. It wasn’t one specific aspect of the game or one player, but games started to go south for the Falcons real quick, and suddenly, they find themselves at 6-6, losing 5 straight and getting outplayed in most of their recent games. So what happened to the Atlanta Falcons?

Teams make mistakes. It’s what every sports team in the world does. Some make fewer than others, and those that make less, usually go on to win Championships. However, the 2015 Atlanta Falcons have made more costly mistakes than any other NFL team this year. Now I’m not talking about a fumble here and an interception there, no, the mistakes made by the Falcons are the definition of costly. For example: Matt Ryan and the offense have 8 red zone turnovers, the most in the league. Ryan has also thrown 13 interceptions and lost a few fumbles to go along with those picks. Not exactly the stats you want from your quarterback if you have any hope of making a playoff run, which looked like a possibility for the Falcons in the first few games.

However, let’s not get too carried away with the Dirty Bird’s fall from grace, as their 5-0 record may have been padded just a bit.

If you take a look at the Falcons schedule during their 5 game win streak, it’s very obvious that it would’ve taken a lot of mistakes to not be undefeated. They played a bad Eagles team, a clueless Giants squad, a Tony Romo-less Cowboys, a Texans team with no quarterback yet, and the Redskins, a game which they could’ve lost if not for a trip by a receiver that led to a pick-six in overtime. So, while they did go 5-0, it was mostly due to mistakes by the opposing team and a soft schedule. However, the Falcons still have the easiest schedule in all of football. Yet, they are currently on a 5 game losing streak. So what can they do to turn the tide and secure a wildcard spot? Be smart with the football.

Being smart with the football doesn’t just mean not turning the ball over, it also means to make smarter throws and come up with better plays on offense. Atlanta possesses possibly the best receiver in football in Julio Jones, but yet they seemingly refuse to throw the ball more than 20 yards downfield to him. Jones, who stands taller than most cornerbacks and safeties in the league, has proven that he is perfectly capable of catching the long ball and being a deep threat. In my mind, he’s just a taller Randy Moss, and we all saw how Moss was at going deep. Jones can be a

Randy Moss-caliber long ball receiver, but offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, known as the “QB Killer” for his misusing of the skills of NFL quarterbacks, has to trust Matt Ryan throwing the ball and Jones’ ability to catch it. The, “Throw it to Julio a yard short of the first down every time except when Devonta Freeman is open” method of offense might’ve worked against sub-par defenses, but when a solid defense stands on the other side, that method goes out the window, and the Falcons are left scrambling. Due to this play calling, Matt Ryan has not looked like himself these past couple of games; he’s making far too many mistakes and costing his team games almost single-handedly.

Matty Ice is a good quarterback. He’s one of the better play callers in the league, but he’s probably not going to get the Falcons to the Promise Land like Atlanta thought he would when they drafted him. However, he’s too good of a quarterback to replace; it’s an extremely sticky situation that the Falcons find themselves, but it’s the situation that they’ve gotten themselves in, and somehow have to find a way to win with Ryan as their quarterback. A dynamic run game would be a start, and it seems like they’ve found a forceful and speedy back in Devonta Freeman and, along with the quick Tevin Coleman, should help the Falcons out tremendously in the years to come. Another thing that all winning teams need is a trustworthy defense, and that’s not what Atlanta has. They possess a capable defense that sometimes can’t make the plays they need to win games. Take the latest game against Tampa Bay: The Bucs had 3rd and 20 and were down by 4; Jameis Winston started scrambling and it seemed like he ran into a cluster of Falcons that were surely going to tackle him; of course they didn’t and Winston ran for 20 yards, eventually leading to a Tampa touchdown and another Atlanta loss. If the Falcons make that tackle, the game is probably over, but they couldn’t make the play, and it’s another L in the loss column for ATL.

If the Falcons want any chance at making the playoffs they need to do three things: Win out, which might prove difficult as they play Carolina twice; they need to stop making so many costly mistakes on both sides of the ball, and the offense must start trusting the arm of Matt Ryan and the ability of Julio Jones. If they can go 9-7 this season, which means only losing once more, and start to turn things around offensively, they should be in good position to make the playoffs and maybe even make some noise come January.

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Gang green is the king of NY after Jets top Giants 23-20:

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Photo credit: Marianne O’Leary

Author: Jon Kuzma

Ryan Fitzpatrick is a heck of a football player. There we said it, while some might argue differently no one can deny the impact that he has had for this New York Jets team. After the Jets were only able to win 4 games in all of 2014, the team is now sitting with 7 wins in 2015 and they are a legitimate playoff contender. Much of that success can be contributed to Fitzpatrick’s efforts. After managing to stick around the NFL as a journeyman, Fitzpatrick finally learned how to win at the NFL level. When you factor in the additions of Brandon Marshall, James Carpenter, and Darrelle Revis. You also have a Jets team with much more fire power than last year as well. How would that translate against the New York Football Giants? The New York team that has been better of recent. Apparently pretty well, after the Jets almost suffered an internal meltdown in the match. The team managed to battle back at the end of the game and eventually were able to knock off the Giants in overtime. Of course that was after the Jets were able to overcome a 10 point deficit with 9 minutes left in the game to even force overtime. Randy Bullock from there was able to give the Jets the go ahead 3 points that would eventually win them the game. One thing that stands out after reflecting back on the match is the duo of Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall. The Jets receivers both had over a 100 yards receiving. Both showing that they can make a play on the edge when their team needed them to. That was the difference in this game where on the opposite sideline Odel Beckham Jr. was the only playmaker for the Giants who could really get it going. It must also be noted that the Jets defense took away the Giants rushing game as well. Effectively making the Giants offense one dimensional. Just another reason the Jets were able to walk away with a victory Sunday. For 2015 they earned the right to be the king of New York.

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Seahawks and Vikings headline week 13 game of the week:

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Photo credit: Joe Bielawa

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Seattle Seahawks (6-5) will meet the Minnesota Vikings (8-3) in the week 13 game of the week. The Seahawks are playing for a playoff spot and the hopes to get to their third straight Super Bowl. Those chances looked dim early on when the team was struggling with a losing record. Now they’ve managed to turn it around and really look like a complete football team. The NFC is a tough conference this year and a win against the Vikings will go a long way in improving the Hawks chances of making the post season. On the opposite sideline Mike Zimmer is quickly proving why the Vikings did everything they could to lure him away from the Cincinnati Bengals. Zimmer who was a defense coordinator in Cincinnati has quickly shaped the Vikings into a legitimate contender. The team is favored to win the NFC North division after looking depleted for about 5 years after Brett Favre retired. Much of that success is due to Zimmer’s poise and ability to lead this football team. The Minnesota Vikings of the present are a very calculated team an approach that they take after their head coach. Adrian Peterson is most likely happy that he decided to stay in Minnesota and it just goes to show that you never can tell (yes that was a Chuck Berry reference). Overall look for a great match up when these two teams square off today. You get to see two of the NFC’s top defenses go at one and another. Also a very talented cast of offensive players as well. You will see names like Teddy Bridgewater and Russell Wilson battling out. Along with Thomas Rawls and Adrian Peterson going head to head in the rushing battle. An exciting match up and the reason why we selected it for game of the week here at Endzoneblog.com

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Aaron Hernandez had the world in his hands before throwing it all away for a life of crime:

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Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall

Author: Jon Kuzma

Aaron Hernandez was recently found with a shank in his prison cell and the former New England tight end’s story just seems to get darker and darker. Hernandez who is in prison for the murder of Odin Lloyd is also facing a double murder trial in Boston that is a separate case from the Lloyd murder. Not to mention Hernandez has been involved in two in prison incidents where he fought another inmate or was a look out man while a fight was happening. When you see Aaron Hernandez in news headlines these days you just turn your head and cringe. What if he would of chose the other route though? At one point stats wise Hernandez was just shy of Gronkowski numbers and the duo were nearly unstoppable. Hernandez over the length of his three year career averaged six touchdown receptions a season. If you factor in the experience he would of acquired in his later years of NFL action the guy could of consistently produced 10 touchdown reception seasons year in and year out. Could you imagine the Patriots offense with both of those tight end threats today? It just goes to show that the other route in life isn’t a more promising avenue. I bet Hernandez is wishing he shunned the “hard” mentality that he developed growing up in Bristol Connecticut now. He threw away millions of dollars to go sit in a prison cell and he still isn’t getting the message. It seems Hernandez’s troubles started to spiral out of control when his father passed away. Obviously the incident was very painful for Hernandez but we all go through things that we have a hard time getting through. That doesn’t give anyone the right to take another persons life. We only get one shot at this thing called life, Aaron Hernandez has to live that one life everyday regretting his life decisions. Don’t follow in the same foot steps.

 

What’s happening around the league week 13:

Author: Jon Kuzma

Rams plan to start Nick Foles

Case Keenum is still recovering from a concussion so the Rams have turned to previous starting quarterback Nick Foles to get the win Sunday. The Rams take on the Arizona Cardinals who have been playing outstanding football this year with a 9-2 record. Expect a heavy does of Todd Gurley to help make the job easier for Foles.

Coldplay will be Super Bowl half time performance

The NFL announced that Coldplay will be the halftime performance at this years Super Bowl 50 at Levi Stadium. The announcement has seemed to be followed by a mediocre response from football fans who seem so-so about the choice of Coldplay for the halftime performance. Sometimes we get ahead of our selves and write a performer off before even seeing the performance. It will be up to Coldplay to show us why they were selected and validate that selection. Right now personally it’s hard to be enthusiastic.

Mike Pettine announced Austin Davis the starter for Browns

Mike Pettine went all out in his hate for Johnny Manziel making sure he does his part in ensuring Money Manziel never starts during his coaching tenure. With Josh McCown out for the remainder of the season, Austin Davis has been named the starter from here on out. The move shows that Cleveland was never truly committed to developing Manziel as the starter. So one has to ask why did the Browns even draft him? We will see what Davis can do this week against the Bengals a tough start for former undrafted player out of Southern Mississippi. We’ll see if Davis can hold up in that match up. How ironic would it be if Manziel has to come in and be Pettine’s savior in that game after how poorly Pettine has treated Manziel in his two years in Cleveland.

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Free play dooms Lions: Packers connect on walk off hail mary in Motown

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Photo credit: Mike Morbeck

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Green Bay Packers were able to come back from a twenty point deficit to beat the Detroit Lions on the final play of the game. A play that was an untimed bonus play due to a penalty committed by Devin Taylor just a play before. It was a play that could end up be the turning point of the season for the Packers. After starting the season red hot the Pack have looked awful in their last five games or so. Even half way through this match most people were writing the team off. You truly have to give credit to Aaron Rodgers and company for persevering and coming back to win this game. One thing that has been a bright spot for the Packers lately is the fact that running back Eddie Lacy has finally been able to get it going. Lacy has rushed for over a 100 yards in his last two games for Green Bay. Lacy is the same reason the Packers were able to make it to the NFC championship game last year. It’s imperative that Green Bay makes him the focal point of the offense after Aaron Rodgers’ passing game. That one two punch of Rodgers and Lacy is lethal for opposing defenses and is something to keep an eye on moving forward. Still the Packers are banged up and don’t look like a team who is ready to win the Super Bowl this year. The team clearly misses Jordie Nelson, but believe or not they are hurting even more on the offensive line. They lost their third starting offensive lineman tonight when center Corey Linsley went down. Leaving the team with limited options about who to fill those holes with. At the end of the day the Lions drop a game that they had in their grasp. While the Packers find a way to overcome adversity. Just another week in the NFL.

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If the Browns Do Draft a Quarterback in 2016, what Happens to Johnny Manziel?

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Photo credit: Erik Drost

Author: Joey Carr

With the exception of maybe Tim Tebow, there has never been, in the history of the NFL, a more talked about BACKUP quarterback than Johnny Football. Yes, he was a polarizing figure in college football for two years. Yes, he won the Heisman Trophy as a freshman. Yes, he does party and get into trouble more than the average human being. And yes, he is a backup, and at one point third string, quarterback for the most laughable and disappointing sports franchise of possibly all time: the Cleveland Browns. So why do we talk about him so much? Because the media made him a much bigger deal than he needed to be, which can, to a point, contribute to his immaturity and partying ways. Think about it: has there ever been, in any sport at any level, a spotlight bigger than the one unwillingly placed on Johnny Manziel after he won the Heisman? Maybe, but Johnny has to easily take the cake for this century. He was only a teenager when all of this scrutiny and limelight was bestowed upon him; it just seems natural that no teenager or 20-year old could handle that kind of pressure. So, Johnny turned to partying. And that’s not to say that he wouldn’t have partied a lot even if he didn’t have so much pressure, but the media certainly didn’t help the maturity of the young Browns QB. But, even with all of the glamor and media attention, Manziel finds himself on the backend of the quarterback totem pole for Cleveland of all places and with the NFL Draft coming up, the Browns might end up having to take yet another “Franchise Quarterback”. And if they do, what happens to the former TAMU Aggie?

I’m sure a lot of you are suggesting that Johnny should just cool down, lay low, pay his dues, and return to Cleveland for a third year and enter another quarterback competition during training camp. While that seems all nice and dandy, there’s one person that might throw a cog into that plan: head coach Mike Pettine. Pettine does not like Manziel at all, that much is clear. He refuses to let him develop as a starter and he’s constantly finding new ways to keep Manziel off the playing field. Of course, Johnny doesn’t make it easy on Pettine to let him get playing time with all of his off the field antics. For example: Just a couple of days after being named the full time Starting Quarterback for the Browns, a video surfaces of Manziel partying on the team’s bye week (week 11). The video shows Johnny holding stacks of money while clearly intoxicated, which violates his rehab probation. The Browns wasted no time in demoting the former Heisman winner to third string, effectively ending Manziel’s reign as starter after only one short week. However, after Josh McCown was sidelined with a collarbone injury after Monday’s dramatic loss to the Ravens, you would think, “Well now they have no choice to start Manziel. I mean who are they going to start instead, Austin Davis?” Well as it turns out that’s exactly what Cleveland did. That move makes it apparent that the Browns have no interest in furthering developing the young playmaker, thus raising the question, “What happens to Johnny in the offseason if the Browns draft a quarterback?” The answer is simple: Manziel gets shipped off to a willing buyer/risk-taker.

While it’s known that Johnny Football is a troublemaker, it’s also known that he is a natural playmaker. He can maneuver his way out of trouble in the backfield (if only he could do that off the field) and escape a sack better than almost anyone in the NFL. His passing is average, but can get much better if he’s given the opportunity to develop it. The Browns, clearly, aren’t interested in doing that. With an aging and injury-prone Josh McCown as their number one QB going into 2016, Cleveland might have no other choice but to take a quarterback given that they are poised for another high draft pick. There are a couple of appealing options that they could consider: Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma, Paxton Lynch of Memphis, Trevone Boykin of TCU, and the list goes on. Although, given their rich history of drafting quarterbacks in the draft, the Browns might want to steer clear of yet another wasted draft pick. But it’s the Browns, and if anyone can screw something up, it’s them (refer to Monday’s loss to the Ravens).

It’s obvious that Cleveland and Johnny Manziel aren’t a good fit, and perhaps never were. In the eyes of most NFL fans and experts, it would best for the two of them to go their separate ways and try to advance themselves without one another. The big question is, however, who would be willing to take a chance on the former Aggie? That question might soon be answered, and we might be seeing Johnny Manziel don some new colors and be partying in a new town come next fall.

Possible Landing Spots for Manziel (In order from most likely to least likely): Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams.

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Battle of New York a much closer match than years past:

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Photo credit: Mike Morbeck

Author: Jon Kuzma

When the New York Jets and the New York Giants take each other on this Sunday in the Battle of New York, the match up will be much closer than in the past. Usually it’s the Giants who have the advantage heading into the game, the team who clearly has been the more significant New York team of recent. However it’s the newly led Todd Bowles Jets that come into the match up with a better record sitting at 6-5 on the season. Which leads one to believe that the Jets at the moment are the king of the big apple. In a city that Eli Manning has brought two Lombardi trophies back to. Gang green is all the talk of the town with their talented wide receiver duo in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Along with their very stout defensive front which includes Muhammad Wilkerson, Leonard Williams, and Sheldon Richardson. One notable loss for the Jets however is the fact that the team will be without star player Darrelle Revis who is out nursing a concussion. For all the defensive pressure the Jets can get upfront it will be tough to win without key pieces on the back end like Revis. Especially when you factor in how truly talented the Giants are in their passing attack. While Peyton Manning has struggled this year and has been sidelined by injury. Brother Eli Manning has been striving, throwing for 23 touchdowns and 3,021 yards on the season. With talented wide receivers like Odell Beckham Jr., Rueben Randle, and Hakeem Nicks. The Giants can beat you a number of ways through the air. Will those key players be enough to get pass the Jets this Sunday? It’s hard to say, the game could really go either way. It will come down to which team wants it more and which team can execute better. Right now the trend tells you the Jets are going to win. However you should never count out Manning and the Giants. They’ve earned their respect through winning on the big stage. Regardless it will be a great match up this year at MetLife stadium.

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