Pettine and the Browns dropped the ball by sitting Manziel:

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Photo credit: Erik Drost

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Cleveland Browns had a chance to go 2-1 this past Sunday when they took on the Oakland Raiders. They had just beat the Tennessee Titans 28-14 a week before and the Raiders were another winnable game on the schedule. That was before the Browns made the poor decision of starting Josh McCown as their starting quarterback for the week. The Browns have been 0-1 this season when starting Josh McCown at the quarterback position. While Manziel had just led the Browns to a 28-14 win over the Titans. It was clear who the better choice was to lead this team after last week, yet Mike Pettine has remained firm in his flat out dislike of Johnny Football. While all last year and even in the preseason this year it was clear Pettine didn’t like Manziel. This past Sunday marked the first time that Manziel had produced enough where it was undeniable that he was the better option. Pettine showed his stubbornness by neglecting to realize the situation and ultimately deciding to stick with McCown. That decision single handedly cost this Browns team a win. Putting the team at 1-2 with their backs against the wall, rather than 2-1 and feeling optimistic about the rest of the season. While Pettine has made it clear that he wants to put a lot of emphasis on leadership. It’s his poor leadership in the end that has the Browns playing below the level they are capable of. While all offseason and in the preseason it was discussed whether or not this team needs to make a quarterback change. It is clear now that the only thing the Cleveland Browns need is a head coaching change. The most important form of leadership in football. Browns fans deserve better and so does Johnny Manziel.

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Why the Cardinals have the Best Shot to Win the NFC West:

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Photo credit: Todd Jones

Author: Joey Carr

For the past few years, the NFC West has been one of the better divisions in all of football, sending a team to the Super Bowl the past three seasons. Since the early 2000’s with the “Greatest Show on Turf” St. Louis Rams, to the recent dominance of The Legion of Boom in Seattle, the NFC West has always been one of the more fun and competitive divisions to watch. However, the trend for the past decade in the NFC West has been a change in first place every few years, and with the Seahawks at 1-2 and the Cardinals at 3-0, Arizona has a prime opportunity to capture their first division title since 2009.

In the past, the Cardinals have been known as a “fluke” team, which is a team that has a respectable record but only because of luck and/or a favorable schedule. Last year was a great example of this: Arizona did do some damage against legitimate teams (Cowboys, Eagles, Chargers), but for the most part got pummeled by squads with some real talent. They put up a combined 9 points in two games against Seattle, and got shook up by Denver, allowing 41 points. They did manage to make it to the playoffs but only by a slim margin due to the fact that Carson Palmer was sidelined with an ACL injury. The 7-9 Panthers destroyed them in the first round, however, and that was the telltale sign indicating the Cardinals were nothing more than a fluke team. Sure, with Carson Palmer maybe they could’ve beat Cam Newton and Carolina and added to their win column in the regular season, but that question will always remain a distant thought in the minds of the Arizona faithful. This year, however, Arizona is the real deal. It might be hard to accurately judge them based on their schedule thus far (San Francisco, Chicago, and New Orleans), but they’ve shown on offense and defense that this year is their year to create some pandemonium in the NFL rankings . Since 2008, when they lost the Super Bowl to Santonio Holmes and the Steelers, they’ve managed to skate by because of a few talented players on both sides of the ball, but didn’t have much else to complement those playmakers. This year, they’ve got more weapons than they know what to do with. Let’s start with the leader and play-caller, Carson Palmer. Besides Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, it’s hard to argue against the fact that this quarterback is the most valuable player to his team. Without him last year, they went 3-4 down the stretch, getting outscored 129-87 and eventually getting embarrassed in the first round of the playoffs. In 2015, they’re 3-0 and have scored 126 points in three

games, which is tied for the fourth most points in NFL history through three games. There’s no denying that Palmer is vitally important to the Cardinals, and with the talent he has surrounding him, you better believe the Cardinals are going to give Seattle a run for their money.

One of the main reasons Arizona has done so well to start the season is due to the amount of playmakers they have, both on offense and defense. Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson lead the defense while Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, and now, surprisingly, Chris Johnson head the offense. It’s safe to say that no one thought CJ2k would have the kind of impact he’s having on this Arizona rushing attack after being released by the Jets last season. While Andre Ellington has been out with a leg injury, Johnson has proved he can still be the workhorse that he used to be in his hay day, tearing up the field with 182 yards rushing over two games, along with two touchdowns. With him running the ball so effectively and Palmer making crisp passes, there’s no telling what that offense can do. Adding to their high-powered offense is rookie running back David Johnson, who surprised everyone in week 1 after he sprinted for a 55-yard touchdown. He was a bit subpar in week 3, but in the first two weeks combined he accumulated three total touchdowns, including a 108-yard kickoff return. His speed is something to marvel at and if Arizona can use him correctly, they will have a deadly weapon at their disposal.

However, maybe the key reason for their success so far has been the reemergence of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who is on pace for a monster season. After Kurt Warner retired in 2010, Fitzgerald didn’t have a quarterback that was able to get him the ball like he had become accustomed to with Warner, downgrading to his numbers to average at best. Fast-forward to today and it’s like those 5 years never happened. Number 11 for Arizona has 5 receiving touchdowns on the season (1st in the NFL) and 333 receiving yards (5th in the NFL), and he doesn’t seem to be pushing the brakes anytime in the near future. He’s running and catching like he did back in 2009 and his connection with Palmer is only getting stronger by the week, which should definitely frighten the rest of the NFL.

Every team knows, however, that to go along with a number one receiver, you need a couple of other pass catchers to make some plays when the main target is double teamed or jammed at the line of scrimmage. The Cardinals have three speedy, great handed receivers in John Brown, Michael Floyd, and Jaron Brown to complement

Fitzgerald. They haven’t made too much of an impact in the passing game yet, only combining for two touchdowns thus far, but they provide solid and reliable options when Palmer is scrambling of the pocket and looking for a receiver down field. Also, in addition to the depth at wide receiver, Arizona has equipped themselves with running backs that can catch the ball almost as well as they run the ball. For example, David Johnson caught a 55-yard touchdown in week 1, but it wasn’t a lengthy wheel route along the sideline or a blown coverage play; it was a pass that traveled maybe 5 yards before Johnson hauled it in and took off like a mongoose down the field, blowing by the secondary of New Orleans. In week 3, Chris Johnson caught a 40 yard pass that was almost a touchdown if not for a speedy cornerback. On that pass, Johnson was knocked down a couple times by defensive lineman before looking up to find the ball in the air half way to him after Palmer was chased out of the pocket. He sped down the sideline and made a classic old school Chris Johnson cutback move before being tackled near the goal line. To be able to have those kinds of weapons and that kind of depth on offense is a rare and valuable asset, and Arizona will continue to take advantage of those playmakers at the expense of the opposing defense all season long.

While the Seahawks are at 1-2, they look to be on the rise again, at least defensively. Kam Chancellor is back at strong safety after a two-week holdout, shoring up the defense for the time being. But Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson can’t seem to find a steady rhythm on offense, as they are ranked 18th in the league in total yards. Their offensive slump really showed last week, when they had a hard time getting capitalizing in the red zone efficiently, something like the Cardinals did with ease in week 2. Seattle needs to start gelling sooner rather than later or else the Arizona Cardinals will become the new NFC West champions, which won’t make the 12’s too happy. Arizona has the arsenal of talent to make a deep playoff run, especially with so few good teams in the NFC this year. The number one priority is health, shortly followed by the second priority of not taking their foot off the gas. Head Coach Bruce Arians has this team hungry and if they can manage to accomplish both of those things, the NFC Championship game is not off the table.

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The Bengals are the team to beat in the AFC North:

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Photo credit: Trevor Navin

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Cincinnati Bengals looked like they were going to be a team with struggles in the preseason. Fortunately for the Bengals the preseason doesn’t matter much. In the regular season entering week 4 the Bengals find themselves 3-0 sitting atop of the AFC North standings. Marvin Lewis has the team looking poised and disciplined, while the players on the field have executed their assignments. Andy Dalton whether you like him or not has been phenomenal for this team consistently making the big play when needed. Right now he has 8 touchdowns and just 1 interception on the season. Passing for a total of 866 yards over that three game span. While Dalton has been impressive throwing the ball, AJ Green has been outstanding at hauling in those throws. He has recorded 335 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns this far. Showing that he still has what it takes to be the Bengals number 1 receiver. An honor he has had since he arrived with the team in 2011. In fact Green has been so good he has been able to produce a 1,000 yards receiving in every season he has been in the National Football League. A testament to Green’s consistency as a pro football player. Defensively Adam Pacman Jones has led this team. He currently has the most combined tackles on the team with 25. He also has added an interception and a forced fumble on the season. Showing that he can be a factor for this Bengals defense in a number of different ways. Upfront for the Bengals defense Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap have done a great job of getting sacks and recording a number tackles for losses for this front 7. The collectively is clearly the team to beat in the AFC North and it will be interesting to see how they finish the season.

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Rodgers shows why he is the reigning M.V.P in win over Chiefs:

 

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Photo credit: Mike Morbeck

Author: Jon Kuzma

Aaron Rodgers continued his dominance for the Green Bay Packers in Monday night football leading the team to a 38-28 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Rodgers was excellent all evening recording 333 passing yards and 5 touchdown passes. Rodgers also threw zero interceptions during the game. Putting together a nearly perfect performance. On one particular touchdown pass Rodgers was able to catch the Chiefs’ Tamba Hali in the neutral zone before hiking the ball drawing a penalty and throwing a touchdown pass to James Jones. Rodgers showed on that play why he is such a good player. He showed the awareness to catch the defender off sides get the snap and take the defense up top for six points. Remarkable work and to pull it off so fluently on the go in a pro football game speaks volumes about the growth he has made as a football player. Rodgers would also go on to complete three touchdowns passes to Randal Cobb who also had a tremendous night. In fact 7 of Rodgers 24 completion went to Cobb for 91 yards. The tandem of Jones and Cobb were a terror for the Chiefs secondary all night. Ty Montgomery was also able to bring in a touchdown reception, showing that other players for this Packers offense can step up and fill the void that Jordy Nelson left. At the end of the day though it all starts with Rodgers. He has been phenomenal ever since he took over for Brett Favre and is building a tremendous legacy as a quarterback. Keep an eye out on whether or not he repeats as the NFL’s most valuable player. It looks like it will come down to him and Tom Brady for that award. It’s clear that those two players are the best players in the league.

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Colts are able to edge out Titans 35-33 in thriller:

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Photo credit: NFL News

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Indianapolis Colts were finally able to get in the winners column for the first time this year when they beat the Tennessee Titans yesterday 35-33. The game started out slow for both teams before seeing both offenses pick it up. Andrew Luck led the way for the Colts with 260 passing yards and 2 touchdowns. Frank Gore had a tremendous day on the ground and his best day as a Colt rushing for 86 yards and 2 touchdowns. Gore was able to take some pressure off Luck throughout this game and it could be a formula that helps the Colts as the season goes on. By having that strong running game to rely on the Colts can take pressure off of Luck. The less plays the Colts have to ask Luck to make in the passing game, the fresher they should be able to keep him throughout the season. Dropping back 40 times a game puts a lot of pressure on the quarterback to perform and even the best can crumble in the NFL when asked to do so. In the receiving game T.Y Hilton also turned in a notable performance bringing in 4 receptions for 94 yards. Hilton is still the Colts best option through the air but they are also seeing an emergence from Donte Moncrief. Moncreif has brought in 17 receptions and 3 touchdowns this year. One of those touchdowns coming yesterday against the Titans. While Marcus Mariota and company were expecting to keep pushing the bar. The Colts instead made the big plays when they had to and ultimately after 21 fourth quarter points were able to bring the win home for head coach Chuck Pagano. Now that this team has got their first win lets see if they can continue to progress and get back to .500 . The next step will be sunday against the Jaguars in an AFC south showdown.

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Falcons continue their rise, improve to 3-0 on the season:

Falcons at Ravens 10/19/14

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Atlanta Falcons took on the Dallas Cowboys yesterday in Arlington, Texas. While the Cowboys were without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant they still have a talented team that the Falcons couldn’t take lightly. In fact the Cowboys were able to get out to a 14-0 lead early before the Falcons really kicked it into gear. Matt Ryan started to heat up completing a deep pass to Leonard Hankerson for 46 yards on a post route. Several plays later Devonta Freeman was able to punch the ball in for six. Cutting the Falcons deficit down to 7 points. After a punt on the next possession for the Falcons. Julio Jones really took over this game for his team hauling in 2 touchdowns passes, one for 45 yards and the other for 2 yards. The two scores would allow the Falcons to come back from another deficit they were facing later on in the game trailing 28-17. Those Julio Jones scores were so critical because they gave the Falcons the comeback score and later after Devonta Freeman’s second score, Julio’s 2 yard touchdown helped the Falcons really pad their lead. Jones would finish the game with 12 receptions for 164 yards and 2 touchdowns. Having his third straight game of at least a 100 yards receiving. Showing he is well worth the 71.25 million dollars the Falcons paid him early this season. The Falcons would go on to win the game 39-28 and continue their dominance this far in the NFC. Look out for this team to make a deep run in the playoffs if they are able to keep playing at this high of level. Matt Ryan also is showing what he has been able to do for most of his career and that is win games. The dirty birds are sitting at 3-0 on the year and there seems to be no signs of slowing down.

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The Ruling On the Field Does Not Stand

New England Patriots at Washington Redskins 08/28/09
Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Tammy Kuzma

We’ve all sat in the stands and watched as our favorite team is humming along in perfect harmony on top of their game. Then it happens, a flag is thrown and one horrible call shifts the momentum of the entire game which changes what should have been an incredible outcome. You leave the stadium in disbelief and work through your week until the following Sunday when the slate is wiped clean and you start all over again.

In 1986, exactly 20 years before Roger Goodell became the NFL Commissioner (2006), the NFL introduced instant replay to the game. Not only did it make the game more entertaining for live television but it allowed the plays to be reviewed in order to ensure that one horrible call didn’t always go unchallenged.

Flash back to Super Bowl XLIX and the deflatgate scandal. The hypothetical flag was thrown. Goodell made the call and assigned the penalty. The courts reviewed the instant replay and turned over your call Mr. Commissioner. Move on.

Flash forward to current date. We just finished Week 2 of the current season. Tom Brady had 466 yards passing and 3 touchdown completions. He is considered the number one quarterback in the NFL by many internet sites and yet he still gets no recognitions from Goodell or the NFL. I highly suspect this will continue until Week 5. After all, that is the week in Goodell’s mind that Brady should be allowed to return.

It’s no surprise that Goodell wants to centralize instant replay to the leagues headquarters so that he can have added control over the outcomes in the NFL. It seems Goodell has become the big headed superstar that thinks this team can’t progress without him. The momentum is changing Mr. Commissioner. The fans want to idolize the players and love the game. Last year is gone. Last week is gone. Time to wipe the slate clean and start all over again.

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The return of Kam Chancellor a great sign for the Seahawks:

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Photo credit: Ryan Lock

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Seattle Seahawks are 0-2 on the season, however they’ve been without their star safety Kam Chancellor. Chancellor has been one of the keys to the Seahawks defense during their Super Bowl run in 2013 and their Super Bowl runner up appearance in 2014. The legion of boom get their boom from Chancellors big time hits and ability to make big plays in clutch situations. In fact when the pressure was on Chancellor was at his best. During the playoffs when a players’ clutch rating comes into account. Chancellors has managed not only to play at superior level, but also score points defensively and change the outcome of games for the Seahawks. So when Chancellor decided to hold out during the 2015 season, some Seahawks’ fans were angry while others understood that Kam had earned the right to renegotiate a pay raise. Regardless of how you felt about the issue one thing was clear. Chancellor was instrumental in the Seahawks runs and they would be hard pressed to have that kind of success without him. To get an example of how good he was during the 2013, and 2014 postseason you have to look at his stats. During those two post seasons he was able to record 61 tackles and 3 interceptions. Keep in mind some players don’t record 3 interceptions in a 16 game regular season. Chancellor was able to record those stats in 7 games. A testament of just how good he has been for the Seahawks. He will likely play a huge role in getting this team back on track. Only time will tell if it’s too late however sitting at 0-2. The team has more problems than just on the defensive side of the ball.Still with 31 in the defensive secondary it still makes for a brighter day.

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Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady Stand Above the Rest of the NFL

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Photo credit: Mike Morbeck

Author: Joey Carr

So far in the 2015 campaign, most of the quarterbacks in the league are doing more poorly than most predicted. Andrew Luck had the worse QB Rating in the league, Peyton Manning appears to be on the decline, and Russell Wilson can’t seem to get the ball to one of the biggest targets in the game in Jimmy Graham. Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer have both looked good but have played some underwhelming teams. Big Ben beat up a banged up 49 defense in week 2, but struggled against New England in week 1. Palmer has played the Saints and Bears, who are both 0-2 and both have terrible defenses. The only 2 quarterbacks that have played above average teams and thrived? Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. Rodgers did play Chicago in week 1, but picked apart the ferocious Legion of Boom last Sunday. Brady faced off against an uncertain Steelers defense, but was dead-on accurate the whole game, once going 19 passes without an incompletion. Last week, the Bills defense suffered the most passing yards in their history at the hands of Brady, who threw for 466 yards and dropped back 59 times. The similarity between these two quarterbacks? They don’t make mistakes. Neither one of them has an interception this year, which is extremely rare this year among quarterbacks as only 6 other signal callers in the entire NFL haven’t recorded a pick.

Brady and Rodgers seem to defy all odds every year, as they are easily the most consistent quarterbacks in the game today. All quarterbacks seem to have their down years, but with Brady and Rodgers, they just seem to get better as the years pass. Brady is making age sincerely look like just a number, as he is on track to have the best season he’s ever had at 38 years old. Rodgers is perhaps one of the greatest home-playing quarterbacks of all time, as he has a streak of 451 pass attempts without a pick at home; he last threw a pick at Lambeau in 2013, when the song “Somebody that I used to know” by Gotye was number one of the charts. That seems like light years ago. It’s one of the more amazing streaks for a quarterback to have in recent memory and the Discount Double Check Guy isn’t slowing up anytime soon.

These two Number 12’s are the best quarterbacks in the game right now. Period. Many had predictions of Andrew Luck or J.J. Watt winning the MVP this year but as of right now, the race isn’t even close. The Packers and Patriots are firmly atop the NFL rankings, and rightly so. The Patriots are on a mission to get to Santa Clara and have Roger Goodell hand them the Super Bowl Trophy, just one year removed from the Deflategate saga. Wouldn’t that be the picture of the he century? And Green Bay is on a revenge track to make up for Brandon Bostick’s fumbled catch in the NFC Championship game that would’ve sent them to the Super Bowl to face off against the Patriots. It’s consistently these two teams in the hunt for a ring and it will continue that way until one of them retires, and it seems unlikely that either one is planning on retiring anytime in the foreseeable future.

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Giants get much needed win over Redskins. Improve to 1-2 on the season:

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Photo credit: Mike Morbeck

Author: Jon Kuzma

The New York Giants were playing with a pep in their step in Thursday night football last night. They came out of the gate and started hammering the Washington Redskins early. The Giants would never even look back beating the Redskins 32-21. In fact the Giants had the lead the whole game, and never once surrendered it. Eli Manning played well for the Giants contributing 23 completions of 31 passing attempts for 279 yards. Eli made big throw time and time again in this game showing just how much superior he truly is than Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins. Whether it was connecting with Odell Beckham Jr. on a 30 yard touchdown catch, or hitting Ruben Randle for 41 yard strike. The Giants were on in their passing game, and the Redskins’ secondary could do very little to slow them down. Randle was the leading receiver on the night for the Giants with 7 receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown. It was the break out game that Randle needed confidence wise, and the Giants hope he will be a big contributor for this offense down the stretch of the season. Beckham Jr also finished with 7 receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown. Defensively Prince Amukamara had a big night picking off Kirk Cousins early and swinging the momentum in New York’s favor. Giants middle linebacker Uani’ Unga was able to continue his defensive dominance recording 9 total tackles, an interception, and a forced fumble. Currently Unga leads the NFL with 26 tackles, and has been stellar for the G-Men. The win was huge for the Giants who now find themselves back in NFC East competition. At 1-2 they are now are in second place in the division and have to be optimistic with Dallas losing both Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. Keep an on the games this weekend to see how the others teams in the division do. If they slip up the Giants are right back in the mix.

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