Steelers top Bengals 33-20: Dalton injured with broken right thumb

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Photo credit: Steelcityhobbies

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Pittsburgh Steelers were all over the Cincinnati Bengals 33-20 Sunday in NFL action. The Steelers got a break when Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton went down with a right thumb injury. Making the match a much easier victory for the Steelers. There is an old saying in football “knock out the quarterback and win the game.” That is exactly what the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to accomplish. While I’m sure the Steelers didn’t want to see Dalton sidelined for the rest of the season which he very well might be. It still was a major factor in allowing the Steelers to win this AFC North match up and get one step closer to the postseason. The Bengals on the other hand look like they are in a world of trouble. After having a fantastic season and turning into one of the better teams in the whole league. The Bengals now find them selves searching for answers about how to overcome the problems at the quarterback position? AJ McCarron ended up finishing the game for the Bengals and will be tasked with filling the void throughout the rest of the year. The former University of Alabama quarterback is hoping to have a similar year to Tom Brady when he replaced injured quarterback Drew Bledsoe back in 2001 and went on to win the Super Bowl. Definitely a tough spot to be thrown into but McCarron did play in the tough SEC conference during his collegiate days. There were no easy games in that conference and while the pros is much tougher. Those development days at Bama might prove to be valuable for McCarron on Sundays. It will be interesting to see if McCarron can keep this team on track or not. The team is still extremely talented at a variety of different positions on the field However Andy Dalton has developed into a fine quarterback and it will be tough to match that production as the season continues on.

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Khalil Mack shows why he was the most raved about player in 2014 draft:

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Photo credit: Erik Drost

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos met today in a week 14 match up in which Khalil Mack absolutely dominated. Mack contributed 5 sacks to the Oakland Raiders defense. Putting him in rare company with other big name pass rushers such as Howie Long and Vonnie Holliday who also had 5 sacks in a single game. Mack was overwhelming the Broncos offensive line from the get go. Beating them with bull rushes, rip moves, swim moves, and spin moves. Showing that Mack is versatile in his pass rushing efforts. The one thing that really impresses you when you plug in the tape on Mack is the fact that he can penetrate deep into the offensive backfield on nearly every snap. Causing panic and frustration for opposing offensive units, while at the same time uplifting the Raiders defense. The number 5 pick in the 2014 draft class was a steal for the Raiders and now they are reaping the benefits of that choice. Can you imagine this Raiders defense without Mack? There is now way the Raiders would of beat the Broncos with out Mack’s production on the field today. Besides having those five sacks he also recorded 7 total tackles and 5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Showing that he is a complete player against the run as well. On one particular play Mack bull rushed Broncos left tackle Ryan Harris and absolutely ate the guys lunch. Harris was thrown to the ground on his back before Mack finished the play by sacking Brock Osweiler for his fourth sack of the night. Just when you thought Khalil Mack had turned the lights out on Sports Authority field. Mack was able to get his fifth sack of the night using his speed off the left edge to blow past the right tackle and bring down a fleeing Osweiler. Truly one of the most dominant performances we’ve seen all season and there will be plenty more of that for the silver and black as the season continues on.

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How the Chargers can become relevant this off-season:

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Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall

Author: Jon Kuzma

The San Diego Chargers enter week 14 with a 3-9 record on the year and they look like a team that is desperate to get something going. While offensively the Chargers have been sound. Ranking in the top ten in both passing offense and total yards. The team has still struggled to find it’s running game. Melvin Gordon is the teams leading rusher 565 yards on the season, but he has yet to score a touchdown during his rookie campaign. Having less of an impact than the Chargers had hoped for when they drafted him 15th overall in the first round of the 2015 NFL draft. So while it’s not their first priority this off-season adding a lineman or two mid-draft or even a running back would be a smart choice for this football team. Defensively is where this team starts to show their problems. The Chargers are ranked 26th against the run and 21st against the pass. In total yards surrendered they are the 24th ranked team, showing that at the end of they day they are just giving up too many yards both on the ground and through the air. The first thing you can do to improve any defense, is improve the defensive line upfront. Especially when you are running a 3-4 defense where so much depends on the nose tackle position and having a player who can control both A-gaps. Remember when the Chargers had Jamal Williams? The former 3 time Pro Bowl nose tackle was a nightmare for opposing offensive lines. The Chargers need to take his mold which was 6’3 348 pounds and do their best to find a player in the draft that fits that same profile in terms of ferocity. Maybe that is a guy like Andrew Billings out of Baylor or Kenny Clark out of UCLA. It’s just imperative that the Chargers assess every players’ game tape at the nose tackle position and make an educated choice about who would fit their team the best. The Chargers also have a few other spots to fill on the defense to be relevant. So maybe trading down and tacking a nose tackle with a later pick and going a different position on defense first might be key. That way the team can acquire more picks via trade and ultimately fill more holes. At the end of the day though, those first picks still have to be on the defensive front somewhere. If you can win upfront everyone on the back end gets better.

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Buffalo Bills are better than the Philadelphia Eagles on paper:

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Photo credit: Erik Drost

Author: Jon Kuzma

When the Buffalo Bills and the Philadelphia Eagles meet on Sunday it will be a match up that showcases two teams fighting for a playoff spot. Both teams are on the bubble as far as the playoff picture goes, and a win or loss will go a big way in sealing either team’s fate down the stretch. If you’re in to projections and forecasting games, which we know a lot of you football fans are. You really have to look at the match ups across the board and determine who has the advantage. When you do a side by side comparison of both teams it becomes overwhelming clear that the Buffalo Bills have the advantage heading into this football game. Lets start at the quarterback position which is the most important position on the field. The Buffalo Bills have been riding high with Tyrod Taylor at the helm. Taylor has thrown for 17 touchdowns on the year compared to Sam Bradford’s 13 touchdowns. What is even more impressive is Taylor has done that with even less throw attempts than Bradford. Showing that Taylor not only throws more touchdowns but he is also more efficient as well. At the running back position you would think the Eagles have the clear advantage with their three running back backfield of Demarco Murray, Ryan Matthews, and Darren Sproles. Yet the running back who has run for the most yards on either team is Lesean McCoy who was shipped to the Bills by the Eagles this past offseason. McCoy has ran for 792 yards on the year compared to Murray’s 569 yards who leads the Eagles. When you factor in Bills back up running back Karlos Williams who also has contributed 5 touchdowns to this Bills offense. You have to give the advantage to the Bills at running back as well. When you go to the receiver position the Eagles finally take this one with Jordan Matthews who has 661 receiving yards on the year. Just barely edging out Sammy Watkins of the Bills with 635 yards. However it must be noted that Watkins has 6 touchdowns to Matthews 4, so while the Eagles win in reception yards the Bills win in touchdowns at the top receiver spot. Showing that collectively on offense the Bills should be the team that comes out and outperforms the Eagles come Sunday. As far as defense goes the Bills have surrendered fewer yards per game and are ranked better at 20th compared to the Eagles at 26. In the category of fewer points surrendered by a defense. The Bills also ranked better at 16th compared to the Eagles at 25th. So if you’re a betting man this weekend it would be wise to hop on the Rex Ryan bandwagon and lay your money on the Bills Mafia. They’ve been a more complete football team all year.

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Whats happening around the league: Week 14

Eagles at Redskins 10/04/15

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Jon Kuzma

Chip Kelly says he handled trading Lesean McCoy the wrong way:

Chip Kelly admitted that he didn’t do a great job of handling the situation when he traded running back Lesean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills. Apparently Chip stated “the money was too high” when asked about McCoy and a big reason they traded him for Kiko Alonzo was it was a good move salary cap wise for the Eagles. Kelly went on to acknowledge that he never got the chance to speak to McCoy because the deal was processed by the league sooner than expected. So by the time Kelly heard about the transaction it was the same time McCoy was hearing about the deal. Looking at Kelly’s statements it almost feels like he didn’t have enough respect for McCoy to tell him they were even negotiating a deal that included him. However Kelly tried to save face by saying “I’d still shake his hand” and he “regretted the way he handled it.” It’s easier to look back now and say I should of did it this way or that. Kelly should of been a man and told McCoy straight up he was thinking about dealing him. As much as I’m a Chip Kelly fan football wise. He seems to have a constant pattern or irking his players with his methods. Not a recipe for success in the NFL.

Julian Edelman returns to practice for New England Patriots:

The New England Patriots star wide receiver Julian Edelman returned to practice after missing several weeks with a broken bone in his foot. Edelman was rumored to look out of game form however due to the injury. Many witnesses reported that the Patriots receiver was having trouble in and out of cuts. Showing that the foot isn’t necessarily a 100% yet and it still could be some time before he makes it back to the starting line up. Still the fact that Edelman showed up and participated in practice is a good sign for things to come.

Rumors leak out of Philadelphia about Demarco Murray being unhappy:

We first heard that Demarco Murray was trying to be cut by the Philadelphia Eagles so he could return back to the Dallas Cowboys and continue his career where it all started. Now we are being told that Eagles might be looking to potentially deal Murray in the offseason. With Murray, Matthews, and Sproles in the Philadelphia backfield the position is clearly overloaded. The team went heavy at the running back position and it seems to have caused some conflict chemistry wise. Murray is unhappy and seems to be a bad fit for that scheme. So what would be the point of the Eagles keeping him? Look for both parties to part ways in the future, that is unless they can resolve their issues.

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Charity of the day: Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors

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Cardinals soar past Vikings 23-20 in Thursday Night Football:

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Photo credit: Todd Jones

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Cardinals and Vikings played each other in a quality Thursday Night Football match up. The game showcased two teams going back and fourth punch for punch all night long. As most football fans are probably aware, football is a momentum game. Almost in the way that boxing was a momentum sport. Teams have to capitalize on that momentum in order to achieve success in the game of football. This game was just one of those matches where every time a blow was given to a team. The team responded by giving a blow right back. The scoring started early and often where the teams combined for 17 points in the first quarter alone. Which included a Chandler Catanzaro field goal and a John Brown touchdown for the Cardinals and an Adrian Peterson touchdown for the Vikings. In the second and third quarters the action really slowed down. Only a Blair Walsh field goal was scored for the Vikings. While Michael Floyd was able to grab a 42 yard touchdown pass from Palmer. The scoring picked up again in the fourth quarter when each team was able to hit a field goal early on. Giving another field to Blair Walsh’s and Chandler Catanzaro’s season stats and at the same time making the game 20-13 with the Cardinals leading. With 10 minutes left in the fourth Teddy Bridgwater was able to lead the Vikings down field on a 11 play 88 yard drive. Which was capped off by a 7 yard touchdown reception by Mike Wallace compliments of Teddy Bridgewater. With four minutes left in the game however it was David Johnson who would step up and be the hero. The young Cardinals running back was able to beat the Vikings defense both on the ground and through the air catching the football. Johnson touched the ball on four plays of that final drive. Showing that this Cardinals offense can rely on him when they need him to make a big play down the stretch. The Cardinals would go on to close out the game 23-20 and clinch a playoff spot. A heck of a run so far in Bruce Arians third season as the head coach of the Cardinals. Give him and Palmer a ton of credit for the Cardinals accomplishments. They look like an unstoppable force heading into the playoffs.

Charity of the day: Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors

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The two top AFC North teams will square off when Steelers meet Bengals:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The game of the week in week 14 certainly has to be the Steelers vs the Bengals. The match up will showcase two top tier offenses going head to head. The Steelers had to overcome missing personnel all season long and still have managed to be one of the most dynamic offenses in the league. Now with Martavis Bryant back up and running on all cylinders the team adds that much needed second option. We know Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are going to produce week in and week out. When Bryant is going as well it gives the Steelers that wide out that can go deep and create big plays behind the safeties. Together the tandem give Roethlisberger the best chance to win in a long time. On the opposite side of the ball the Bengals offense has been no slouch either. Andy Dalton has played phenomenal this year throwing for 25 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions. Dalton’s poise has been a big reason the Bengals have been one of the most dominant teams in the AFC. When you factor in the weapons he has around him like A.J Green and Tyler Eifert you understand why this Bengals passing attack is so feared. Don’t be surprised if they are able to gash the Steelers defense through the air when the game is on the line. The x-factor of the match up seems to be the Bengals defense. Both of the offenses are good, however the Bengals defense is truly special. With Atkins, and Dunlap upfront they can get pressure early and often. Making it a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. Look for that to be the difference maker in this match up.

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Charity of the day: Wounded Warrior Project

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Reflecting back on the Herms Edwards outburst:

Author: Jon Kuzma

Herm Edwards had an emotional outburst on NFL live yesterday. The former New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs head football coach sounded off when discussing the LeSean McCoy and Chip Kelly situation. Stating that “it’s not even about the game of football any more.” “It’s about the media and all this other non-sense” coach Edwards said. Everything he said in those statements rang true. The media today is more focused on matters like are Chip Kelly and Lesean McCoy friends? Instead of how are the two teams going to match up this weekend? No one can argue with coach in that sense and he is absolutely right. We need to make the game more about football and less about drama and pro wrestling like story lines. Unfortunately that is not how the NFL sees the game today. The NFL is a business and the NFL will do whatever it can to sell tickets and merchandize. That is why press conferences are mandatory and players like Marshawn Lynch make statements like “I’m just here so they don’t fine me” to the press. All of these discussions, and media updates keep the NFL machine churning revenue. So the angles of players personal lives are always going to be used to market the game in today’s era. One point that coach Edwards seemed to be undervaluing is the fact that it truly is a different era today. Trey Wingo and Darren Woodson tried to tell coach Edwards it’s different and even though Edwards acted like he was hearing it. He wasn’t really hearing it. It’s a digital age of media and information. Every single player has a microphone in their face. They are all tweeting and updating Facebook statuses constantly. There are so many different avenues to voice your opinions in today’s world it makes it much tougher to balance the teams’ goals and the individual player’s goals. In the past those voice outlets were’t even available so it’s hard to compare the past eras to today’s era. Does that give modern era players the right to throw out all values, absolutely not. It’s just much harder to have that old school mentality when the world has evolved past that point in time. For better or worse that is the world we live in today. It’s up to the media and people following the game to adapt with the times. Coach’s points should be echoed throughout the league, we do need to get back to that hard nosed football mentality. We will just have to do it with more cameras, microphones, and social media updates in our faces.

Charity of the day: Wounded Warrior Project

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Cam showing he can do it at any level:

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Photo credit: Parker Anderson

Author: Jon Kuzma

First it started at Westlake high school in Atlanta Georgia. Cam Newton was a highly recruited athlete who received offers from every prestigious college in the country. Then in college after a short stint at the University of Florida. Cam decided he would enroll at Blinn College in Texas, a top tier junior college college that was known for their excellence on the gridiron. There Cam Newton would lead the Buccaneers to a junior college national championship. After that season Newton Transferred to the University of Auburn, where he would go on again to win a national championship. This one being much more respectable since it was at the NCAA division 1 level. Fast forward to now, Cam’s is in fifth year as a pro and the Panthers are 12-0. Newton is inching closer and closer to doing what he done at every level before now, succeed. With the Panthers being the only undefeated team left in the NFL. They are certainly a Super Bowl contender and a team to be reckoned with. It’s not just Cam’s his ability to beat you with his arm, which he has done by throwing for 25 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. It’s also his ability to beat you with his legs as well. Cam has rushed for 7 touchdowns and nearly 500 yards on the ground. Truly making him the NFL’s best version of the dual threat quarterback. When you also factor in that the guy is a remarkable leader as well he deserves to be recognized as a complete football player. The Carolina Panthers were heading towards long term football irrelevance before drafting Cam Newton 1st overall in the 2011 draft. From there its been nothing but uphill for the Panthers. Proving that Cam Newton can get it done at any level of football. It will be interesting to see how far he can take this Panthers team?

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Winston shows he truly is a winner by turning the Bucs back into a contender:

Buccaneers at Redskins 10/25/15

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Jon Kuzma

Jameis Winston is showing why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers chose to take him number 1 overall in the 2015 draft. Winston has been outstanding for the Buccaneers this year inspiring a football team that was depleted of hope just a season ago. The Buccaneers only won 2 games in all of 2014, and now in 2015 they are 6-6 in the middle of a playoff hunt. The team has been completely different from the get go. Winston’s leadership was on display from day one as he approached every early season practice with his youthful attitude. With his naysayers campaigning against him, Winston never once got caught up in the “noise”. Instead he was as cool as ever throwing for 17 touchdown passes and only 11 interceptions. Pretty impressive when you consider players usually struggle their rookie season. In fact the great Peyton Manning finished his rookie season with 26 touchdowns and 28 interceptions. If everything keeps going in Winston’s favor he should be able to have a more productive year than Manning did his rookie year. A huge accomplishment when you compare the two at the early point of their careers. One other thing that stands out with Winston is the fact that he hasn’t turned the ball over that much for rookie standards. Usually young players have a hard time adjusting to the speed of the NFL level. Meaning quarterbacks tend to throw more interceptions early on in their career opposed to when they become veteran players. Winston has shown football experience far beyond his age and that is exactly what sold GM’s in the league that he was the true number 1 pick. Now with the Buccaneers one game behind the 7-5 Seattle Seahawks in the wild card hunt. It will be up to Winston to lead this team to the promise land. If the past has taught us anything about Winston and pressure. It’s that he always rises to the occasion during the big moment.

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