Week 9 Picks

Rams at Redskins 9/20/15
Photo credit: Keith Allison

Week 9 Picks Bitmap

Leaked Hardy photos provide backlash for Dallas Cowboys:

When the Dallas Cowboys signed defensive end Greg Hardy to a 1 year 11 million dollar deal, they knew what they were getting with Hardy. While Hardy is a gifted pass rusher his off the field antics have drawn several questions marks from GM’s around the league. That didn’t stop Jerry Jones and the Cowboys from signing Hardy. The Cowboys were all in on the 27 year old defensive lineman hoping that he would produce more sacks than letdowns. The Cowboys might be regretting that decision however. A photograph was leaked today of Hardy’s ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder. The photo shows a heavily battered Holden with injuries all over her back from Hardy. Showing just how violent Hardy’s attack was on his girlfriend during his time with the Carolina Panthers. The photo instantly became a public outrage since being released. People in the sports world and around the NFL have been taking to Twitter to voice their concerns with Hardy. Yet the Cowboys are still standing firm in their signing of Hardy and Jerry Jones has went as far to say he is a “leader” of the team. Those comments were made just a few days after Hardy was caught in a shouting match with Rich Bisaccia a Cowboys assistant coach. It’s clear that Jones has very little regard at this point for morality and ethics. He is far more concerned with putting the best players on the field so he can get one more super bowl before he passes away. Signing Hardy however was almost like selling your soul to the devil. It seemed like a good idea at the time but it always comes back to haunt you. You would think that Jerry Jones has to be at least reconsidering that deal with the backlash the team has received today. It doesn’t feel that way though. The Cowboys knew what they were getting into, they just didn’t care. The question now is will the Cowboys be rewarded for taking a risk on Hardy? Or will they get burned by him. The jury is still out.

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Bengals feast on Manziel and the Browns:

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The Cincinnati Bengals are as good as anybody in the National Football League right now. Something that is rare for this franchise, in fact this is the first time that the Bengals have ever started 8-0 and that is a feat this ball club should be very proud of. To get to 8-0 they had to go through their in state rival the Cleveland Browns. The Browns were starting Johnny Manziel and were hoping for a spark from the young gun slinger. That spark was put out late in the second half when the Bengals were able to end the game with 17 unanswered points. Andy Dalton continued to build upon his already terrific season throwing for 234 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions on the evening. Taking advantage of this Browns secondary and looking poised while doing so. Tyler Eifert continued to showcase why he is one of the leagues most promising tight ends by hauling in all 3 of Daltons touchdown passes. Eiffert was able to get open on a post route for the initial touchdown, his second touchdown he was able to score on a flag route. On Eifert’s third touchdown he was lined up wide and beat a Browns cornerback on a slant and go. The third year tight end out of Notre Dame showed he can beat a defense with a variety of different routes. At this point of his career Tyler Eifert has proved he is a complete football player. He leads the NFL with 9 touchdown receptions and is a big part of why the Bengals have been so successful. Defensively for the Bengals Carlos Dunlap played outstanding recording 4 solo tackles, 2 sacks, and 3 tackles for loss. Geno Atkins was also able to record another sack and a tackle for loss. Defensively upfront it all starts with those two players and their contributions are another reason the Bengals are 8-0. Finally give credit to Marvin Lewis, he stuck around with the team and is finally prospering. It’s been a long road for the old ball coach and he deserves every little bit of success that he is having this year.

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Charity of the day: Rainforest Action Network

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Week 9 Power Rankings

Dolphins at Redskins 9/13/15

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Week 9 Power Rankings by Joey Carr

1. New England Patriots

2. Cincinnati Bengals

3. Denver Broncos

4. Green Bay Packers

5. Carolina Panthers

6. Minnesota Vikings

7. Arizona Cardinals

8. St. Louis Rams

9. Oakland Raiders

10. Atlanta Falcons

11. Seattle Seahawks

12. New Orleans Saints

13. New York Jets

14. Pittsburgh Steelers

15. New York Giants

16. Philadelphia Eagles

17. Indianapolis Colts

18. Washington Redskins

19. Buffalo Bills

20. Kansas City Chiefs

21. Miami Dolphins

22. Jacksonville Jaguars

23. Dallas Cowboys

24. Baltimore Ravens

25. Houston Texans

26. San Diego Chargers

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

28. Chicago Bears

29. Cleveland Browns

30. Detroit Lions

31. Tennessee Titans

32. San Francisco 49ers

Week 9 Thursday Night Football Picks

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Jon               Joey              Tammy

Bengals     Bengals         Bengals

Justice for Johnny: young Browns passer can be the hero Thursday

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Photo credit: Erik Drost

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Cleveland Browns have done a terrible job of handling Johnny Manziel. This was a guy who put Texas A.M back on the map in college football. A rare talent that is best used when unleashed instead of shackled. That is exactly what the Cleveland Browns did with Johnny Football, they shackled him and took away his swagger. Browns head coach Mike Pettine has criticized and downplayed Johnny Manziel every chance he has got. While he has catered to Josh McCown and made every excuse in the world for for him. Is it any coincidence that McCown can’t go against the Bengals? An undefeated team who looks like an unstoppable force on the football, I think not. While Mike Pettine wants to win this game because he is the head coach. He doesn’t want to see Manziel perform well because McCown is “his guy” and that would validate that he made the wrong decision in sitting Manziel. It should be noted that Manziel has started one game and has one win on the season. While Josh McCown has started seven games and has one win on the season. Clearly in the win percentage category it was a no brainer who the better quarterback was for this Browns team. Yet Pettine was bold headed in his decision and continued to stick with “his guy” McCown. Now when Manziel gets his number called again to lead this team he will have to face one of the best defenses in the league against the Bengals. Manziel has clearly been thrown into an almost no win situation. That is exactly why Johnny Manziel can step up and be the big winner in this Browns starting quarterback dilemma. When the odds are stacked so against you is when you can really step up and shine the brightest. When you have to overcome the pressure of your own head coach disliking you and maintaining a level of play that is NFL caliber. That is true adversity, and a true test of who Johnny Manziel is as a person. If somehow Manziel should lead this team to victory over the Bengals in Thursday Night Football. It’s Mike Pettine who is the real let down in Cleveland.

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Charity of the day: Air Force Aid Society

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No one in the world can question Tony Romo’s toughness anymore:

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Photo credit: Billy Bain

Author: Jon Kuzma

Tony Romo was back at Cowboys practice today throwing the ball and looking poised to make his return to NFL action. Romo is no stranger to playing through pain. The 13th year pro out of Eastern Illinois has battled some serious injuries in his career and has came back every time. Just last season Romo fractured the transverse process in his back in two different places. Romo only missed one week of NFL action before coming back and playing through the injury. In 2013 Romo herniated a disk in his back but managed to finish the entire game. While he would be sidelined the rest of that season, and ultimately needed surgery for the injury. Romo was back in action the following season ready to go in 2014. Besides those two injuries Romo also has had a slew of other injuries including a shoulder injury which caused him to miss 10 games in 2010. Which brings us to now in 2015. Romo is 35 years old and is banged up again returning as quickly as possible for his team from a broken collarbone. A very serious injury for a quarterback not only because of the pain that will be felt when he throws (Even though it’s his non throwing shoulder). It was also be tough for Romo because when he gets tackled he will sooner or later have to fall on that shoulder. Regardless you have to get credit to Romo, the guy has proved that he is willing to sacrifice his body for the betterment of the team. Now with the Cowboys in desperation mode and owner Jerry Jones stating “ we need Romo back”. Once again Tony Romo is going to roll the dice and put his best efforts forward to try to save America’s Team. The only question one has to ask is, is it too soon?

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Charity of the day: Air Force Aid Society

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Ken Whisenhunt struggles again as a head coach, relieved by Titans:

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Photo credit: Erik Drost

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Tennessee Titans chose to go in a different direction at their head coaching position today, deciding that Ken Whisenhunt was no longer the best choice for this team. Whisenhunt who was also a head coach for the Arizona Cardinals has compiled a 48 win and 71 loss record at the NFL level and looked lackluster during his time as the Titans coach. The Titans are just 1-6 this year and seemed to be losing momentum after what appeared to be a promising start to the season. Marcus Mariota was able to lead this team to a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jameis Winston. Who Mariota was selected a pick behind in the 2015 NFL draft (Winston #1, Mariota #2). It looked like there might be some promise with Mariota and the Titans only to have it all come unraveled. Mariota would eventually go on to get hurt, and the team would stumble from there. Whisenhunt’s offensive execution that he is often praised for couldn’t save the Titans. The Titans are ranked 31st out of 32 teams in yards per game offense. While a coach can only put players in a position to succeed. The teams front office was hoping to see a little bit more production on the field. One thing is clear, the talent level is clearly down in Tennessee. It doesn’t matter how bad your coach is, if you have talented players talent will find a way to win a few ball games. However these Titans were not only bad talent wise they were also bad leadership wise. That is why it was the right move for the Tennessee Titans to cut their losses from Ken Whisenhunt and move on. Hopefully Whisenhunt can find work again as a offensive coordinator somewhere and get back to doing what he loves most. Right now he just has to heal from this latest let down.

Time to start taking the Oakland Raiders seriously:

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Photo credit: Erik Drost

Author: Joey Carr

We all knew this day would come. Many people compared this day to an Armageddon or the zombie apocalypse, but every sport fan knew that one day the Oakland Raiders would be on the rise. Ever since the Tuck Rule Game in 2001 and their Super Bowl loss in 2002, Oakland has been a huge laughing stock in the NFL. They’re draft picks have blown up in their faces (Jamarcus Russell, Darren McFadden, etc.), and free agency hasn’t been too kind to them either. But in the past couple of years, some of their higher draft picks have been paying off tremendously (Khalil Mack, Derek Carr, Amari Cooper), and they got some talent in the offseason (Aldon Smith). And here in 2015, sitting at 4-3, we have to start taking the Raiders seriously for the first time in a long time.
If I told you before the season started that the Oakland Raiders would be in the playoff picture through Week 8, you would’ve told me I was psychotic; it’s the Raiders for goodness sakes. But when they drafted stud Alabama wideout Amari Cooper in this year’s draft, many people around the league began to wonder how far Oakland could go with the talent they had on hand. The answer: as far as they want. They possess a surprisingly potent offense, with Derek Carr at the helm, Latavius Murray as the workhorse, and Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree as the deep threats. Also, let’s not forget about Khalil Mack, Aldon Smith, and Charles Woodson leading the defense. This is an Oakland team that has tons of talent, and so far, has shown the rest of the league that they are not to be taken lightly. They’ve dismantled two high-powered AFC teams in the past two weeks in the Chargers and Jets, and look to continue their hot streak when they visit the Steelers, another highly touted AFC team. If they can manage to escape Heinz Field with a victory, they would control their own destiny in terms of the playoffs, and could surprise a few teams come January.
Why have the Oakland Raiders been so successful? They’re finally playing with some tenacity and smarts. In the past, the Black and Silver haven’t exactly been the smartest team in the league, as proven by last year’s embarrassing play against the Chiefs in Week 12 when they almost lost the game due to two players celebrating a sack 13 yards behind the line of scrimmage while time was still running. However, this year seems to be different, as the Raiders squad is playing like a legitimate playoff contender. Derek Carr and Amari Cooper are clicking on all cylinders, and have the hottest connection in all of football right now. Latavius Murray is proving to be a true workhorse out of the backfield, and contributors like Michael Crabtree are meshing well in their roles. The defense, led by ageless veteran Charles Woodson, is standing its ground, forcing punts and causing multiple turnovers. With the Raiders playing at this high of a level and a majority of the AFC struggling for wins, it looks the stars are aligning for Oakland to make it’s first playoff appearance since 2002.

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Charity of the day: Starlight Children’s Foundation

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Denver Broncos land Vernon Davis for a steal:

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Photo credit: John Martinez Pavliga

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Denver Broncos landed Vernon Davis and a 2017 seventh round draft pick in exchange for a 2016 and 2017 sixth round pick that was sent to San Francisco. The deal seems like a steal on the Denver Broncos behalf because they finally will have a tight end in their offense that can minimize the loss of Julian Thomas. On the opposite side of the deal you have to really start to feel for the 49ers. The franchise has entered desperation mode and now we will likely see a sell the house mentality from Jim Tomsula and company. While the Niners receive two 6th round draft picks for Davis and if you looked at his recent stats you might think “that’s a good deal”. It isn’t because if you wanted to move Kaepernick and take that offense into the future, Vernon Davis would of been a nice weapon for that next quarterback coming into the fold for the 49ers. Vernon Davis’ production has struggled because Kaepernick struggled to make all of the throws at the NFL level. Don’t be surprised when Davis has a career resurrection playing in that Broncos offense. Manning could use that easy throw down the middle to his tight end to help build his confidence back up. Davis should do the trick nicely, and give credit to John Elway for realizing how close this team is and understanding what he has to do to get this team there. The defense has been terrific in Denver and adding another weapon on offense should yield great results.
One other note there is always weird trades happening in the NFL. Remember when Randy Moss was traded from Oakland to New England for a fourth round draft pick? Or how about when Brandon Marshall was sent packing from Miami to the Chicago Bears for for two 3rd round picks in 2012 and 2013? There have been several head scratchers when it comes to trades in the NFL. Sometimes you have to wonder how experienced these General Managers truly are?

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Charity of the day: Doctors Without Borders USA

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