NFL playoffs: The New England Patriots edge the Atlanta Falcons out in overtime to win Super Bowl 51”

Photo credit: Mike Ehrmann /Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The New England Patriots completed a 25 point come from behind victory over the Atlanta Falcons to win their 5th Lombardi Trophy with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady at the helm. Atlanta scored the first 4 touchdowns in this game but that still wasn’t enough to keep the Patriots from battling back. After those 4 touchdowns the Falcons wouldn’t score another point, while the Patriots rattled off 4 touchdowns of their own. Including the James White touchdown run which clinched the win for the Patriots in overtime. Tom Brady finished the game with 466 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Believe it or not Brady looked terrible in the first half and missed Julian Edelman on several throws. That all changed halfway through the 3rd quarter and the rest is history. James White also had a big day for New England, not only did he score the game winning touchdown he also had 110 receiving yards and 3 total touchdowns (2 rushing and 1 receiving). With all do respect to Tom Brady you could make a great case that James White was the MVP, especially since in the first half White was the only offense the Patriots had. Defensively Trey Flowers had a big night for the Patriots defense, Flowers recorded 6 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Dont’a Hightower also contributed 2 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble to the Patriots defensive efforts. Matt Ryan was hot in the first half and actually finished the game with 284 yards and 2 touchdowns. Devonta Freeman had 75 yards and 1 touchdown setting the tone for Atlanta’s rushing attack. Austin Hooper and Tevin Coleman both had a receiving touchdown each for the Falcons as well. Jalen Collins was the team leader for the Falcons defense with 11 tackles. Robert Alford also had a big day for Atlanta he had 11 tackles and 1 interception for a touchdown. Give credit to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots though, they were nearly knocked out of this game and they never gave up hope. They believed they could battle back and win this game and that’s exactly what they did in the end. Brady and Belichick will both go down as the best quarterback and best head coach in NFL history and you can’t write a story much better than that. New England wins 34-28 to claim Super Bowl 51.

Charity of the day: International Peace Institute

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Vic Beasley is key to the Falcons chances of beating the New England Patriots:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Vic Beasley was the best pass rusher in all of pro football during the regular season. Beasley recorded 15.5 sacks and actually edged out Von Miller for the sack title. Everyone knows the key to beating the Patriots is with a heavy pass rush. That means Beasley has to play his best game of the season and find a way to get pass this tough Patriots offensive line. Nate Solder, LaAdrian Waddle, and the other offensive tackles will be tasked with taking on Beasley head to head. That will be a very tough task and if Beasley can work his swim and rip moves effectively, the Patriots could be in for a long night. That is such a key match up in this game and who ever controls the line of scrimmage will likely win the football game. In the playoffs Atlanta’s defensive line has dominated but they haven’t played a team that is of New England’s caliber. Belichick tunes his team in on a higher wavelength than the other teams in the league. That means Beasley, Freeney, and the other Falcons have to get after it and find a way to rattle Tom Brady. The emphasis has to be on defensive pressure for the Super Bowl and you know Dan Quinn is doing his due diligence to put this team in a position to succeed. Atlanta has been much better defensively since Quinn took over this team and now Atlanta is a complete football team. That’s in contrast to the past where they only had a good offense. So this team has certainly made strides under Quinn and it’s also because Thomas Dimitroff has done a good job of adding talent to the roster. Now the Falcons will put Vic Beasley and this defense up against New England and we get to see how everything will pan out. It will come down to who wants it more and ultimately who prepares better.

Charity of the day: World Vision

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NFL Patriots: Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan will play a crucial role in the Patriots Super Bowl chances

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The New England Patriots are known for their passing game out of the shotgun formation and the Patriots receivers play a key role in that scheme’s success. Two players in particular that will determine if New England can bring another Lombardi Trophy back to Foxborough are Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan. Edelman and Hogan are similar players and fit the Patriots wide receiver mold perfectly. Edelman and Hogan are both sure handed receivers that understand the Patriots route concepts extremely well. Both players also have good moves after the catch so they can make a defender miss and turn a small play into a big one. That’s why we see New England throw so many bubble screens to Edelman and keep an eye on those type of plays heading into the Super Bowl. If Atlanta’s defenders can’t match up with those wide receivers they are going to be in for a rough day. The Falcons were 28th against the pass in the regular season allowing 266 yards per game. That means Ricardo Allen, Keanu Neal, and the other Atlanta defensive backs are going to have to play their best game of the season to have a chance to compete. You have to like Edelman and Hogan in that match up and now it will come down to if New England can protect Brady. If Brady has the time to operate in the pocket you better believe Edelman and Hogan will get a little separation from the defense. Hogan has been coming on especially strong lately as well, so keep an eye on whether or not he can have another monster game Sunday. That is exactly what the Patriots need to burn Atlanta and it’s pretty amazing that New England is this deep on offense. The Patriots are the favorite to win the Super Bowl without Rob Gronkowski and it’s because of players like Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan.

Charity of the day: Keep America Beautiful

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Michael Vick officially retired from the National Football League and what a run it was:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Perhaps the most dynamic running quarterback of all time called it quits today when Michel Vick decided to walk away from pro football. Michael Vick is known for his ability to change the outcome of football games by using his mobility to keep opposing defenses on their heels. Not only was Vick faster than everyone else on the football field he also was a lefty which added to his unorthodox approach to the game. Those skills led Vick to become not only the biggest star in football but he was also one of the biggest stars in all sport. Ultimately Vick’s career came to a screeching halt when he was arrested for dog fighting but give Vick credit for making corrective measures in his life and ultimately making it back to the NFL. Michael Vick was one of the richest athletes in the world at one point as well and literally lost everything. Vick then came back to the NFL and signed with the Eagles and actually made most of his fortune back. Vick is estimated to be work $16 million dollars now and that is a hell of an accomplishment when you take into consideration everything he had to go through. Vick finishes his career with 133 touchdown passes and 88 interceptions. He also compiled 36 rushing touchdowns as well so he was certainly a good player in his prime and it’s sad to see another legend hang his cleats up. Vick has a chance to embark on life after football though and maybe that will bring new opportunities for the former signal caller. Vick still has enough respect from his playing days where maybe ESPN or Fox Sports 1 reaches out to him about a analyst gig, so there is definitely a future ahead for Vick and we wish him the best in life after football.

Charity of the day: Keep America Beautiful

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Michael Floyd and Kyle Van Noy are the real winners in the Patriots trip to the Super Bowl:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The New England Patriots are heading back to the Super Bowl and there are 2 players in particular who lucked up because of that. Those players are Michael Floyd and Kyle Van Noy 2 players who came to New England halfway through the season. Michael Floyd signed with the New England Patriots after being cut by the Arizona Cardinals for a D.U.I arrest. While most players might find themselves out of work after an incident like that, Michael Floyd instead was immediately picked up by the Patriots and went from a losing team to a Super Bowl team. If that isn’t a win than what is? This guy needs to improve character wise but he should have been in a situation where he was getting heavily disciplined. The exact opposite happened though Michael Floyd is getting a decent amount of playing time and he a chance to be a hero for his new team in Super Bowl 51. A pretty good turnout for Michael Floyd considering a couple of months ago he was getting chastised by the media for falling asleep at the wheel while intoxicated. The other Patriot who lucked up by getting traded to New England halfway through the year is Kyle Van Noy. Van Noy came over from the Detroit Lion and while the Lions made the playoffs this year they are a historically bad football team. To go from Detroit to New England is a huge win for Kyle Van Noy. Van Noy was a back up for the Lions, now he is playing almost every snap for the Patriots. So he went from a limited to role to a big contributor and he gets to play in the Super Bowl. We all talk about how good it is to be great, but sometimes a little luck goes a long way as well. Michael Floyd and Kyle Van Noy were extremely lucky to have their situations end up the way they did and now they will both look to showcase their talents in Houston.

Charity of the day: World Concern

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Larry Fitzgerald announces he will return for his 14th pro season:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Arizona Cardinals can take a big sigh of relief after standout Wide Receiver Larry Fitzgerald announced he will playing in 2017. Fitzgerald was contemplating retirement but made it official today that he would indeed play. This gives the Cardinals a chance to compete from a wide receiver standpoint and Fitzgerald is such a big piece to Arizona’s offense puzzle. Larry Fitzgerald has been an Arizona Cardinal for every year he has been in the NFL and with 14,389 career receiving yards you can see firsthand how productive Fitz has been. Larry Fitzgerald is already the Cardinals franchise leader in terms of receiving yards and touchdowns (104). So to say Fitzgerald is the face of the Cardinals would be an understatement. No Arizona Cardinal wide receiver has ever been better than number 11 and he is vital for this offense because he keeps defensive backs on their heels. No other Cardinals receiver besides Fitzgerald had over 39 receptions either so you can see that Fitzgerald is the focal point in the passing game. David Johnson was actually 2nd in catches he had 80 receptions but keep in mind he is a running back, not a receiver. One other thing that needs to be done in order to help Larry Fitzgerald is the Cardinals need to improve a little bit at a running the football to help balance out their offensive attack. The Cardinals were ranked 18th offensively rushing the football, so the team was more effective through the air and opposing teams knew that. A good number 2 running back behind Johnson will give the Cardinals a boost in the run game. Which could mean more first downs and more offensive snaps for Larry Fitzgerald to make big plays. Regardless though, it’s a privilege for all football fans to watch Fitzgerald operate for at least one more season. The guy is a future Hall of Famer and he has always got the job done with integrity. What more can you want out of player?

Charity of the day: Veterans Assistance Foundation

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Jimmy Garoppolo is being pursued by at least a few teams:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The New England Patriots have a solid back up Quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo and rumors around the NFL are the Cleveland Browns are going to make a play for the 3rd year signal caller. Garoppolo was named the Patriots starter when Tom Brady was suspended for the first 4 games of the season. In that time Garoppolo recorded 502 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions and a passer rating of 113.3. That short stint as the number 1 quarterback helped raise Garoppolo’s profile and now other team’s have taken notice of the former Eastern Illinois quarterback’s efforts. The Browns have the number 1 pick in the draft so they will evaluate Deshaun Watson and Mitch Trubisky before committing to Garoppolo. Still the Browns are serious and maybe Garoppolo can come in and make something happen for Cleveland. Truthfully it felt like the Browns might be set at quarterback with Robert Griffin and Cody Kessler. That doesn’t seem to be the case though or the Browns wouldn’t have expressed interest in Garoppolo. The Arizona Cardinals also could be interested in Jimmy Garoppolo, apparently the Cardinals could be on the verge of moving on from Carson Palmer. If that does end up being the case that would mean Arizona will need to upgrade at the quarterback position. Drew Stanton will be under contract with the Cardinals for 2017 but Stanton is entering his 11th season and is in the twilight of his career. That means it would make a lot of sense for the Cardinals to acquire Jimmy Garoppolo and it will be interesting to see what team gives up the most to get the New England back up? Good quarterback play is key to success in the National Football League and if you have a chance to sure up that position you have to take it. Cleveland and Arizona both understand that and that’s why these 2 teams will be the front-runners to land Jimmy Garoppolo.

Charity of the day: Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors

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Art Rooney backs Antonio Brown and shows why the Pittsburgh Steelers have such a great organization:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Art Rooney the 2nd is speaking his mind and letting fans in Steelers land know that the team enjoys having Antonio Brown around. As most football fans probably know by now, Brown video tapped his head coach after a big win over the Chiefs. That led to a whirlwind of drama blowing up in Head Coach Mike Tomlin’s face for calling the Patriots “ass holes” and the rest is history. Rooney stated the mishap by Brown was a little annoyance rather than a deal breaker. Rooney also said that Brown’s teammates love having him around and noted  “Antonio is a good guy, and a good person.” Clearly Rooney is doing everything he can to keep Antonio Brown comfortable and ultimately this is the right move for Pittsburgh. Brown produces far too much for the Steelers to just write him off and reiterating the front office’s commitment in Brown will be the right decision for this team moving into the future. There were rumors that the Steelers were fed up with Brown and the team might go another direction. Now we know that isn’t the case and the Steelers can patch some of the other holes on that roster this off-season rather than look for a wide receiver to replace Brown. The team would have a hard time finding a guy that puts up the numbers Brown does and he is such a vital piece to the puzzle if this team wants to get to the Super Bowl. Rooney deserves all the praise in the world for stepping up and putting all the rumors to rest. How the Steelers handled this situation gives you a glimpse of why this team was able to win 6 Super Bowls. It’s because they take care of their people and they do business with first class integrity.

Charity of the day: Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors

Go donate! www.taps.org

Wes Welker signs on to be an assistant coach for the Houston Texans:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Former New England Patriots Wide Receiver Wes Walker has a new calling in life and that is coaching for the Houston Texans. The 5 time Pro Bowler will be tasked with coaching an offensive role and a special teams role with the Texans. Houston is hoping Welker can come in and bring some of his insight to the team. That could be helping Deandre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and the rest of the Texans receivers with route running, reading coverages, or their ball skills. All techniques we know Welker is extremely qualified to teach and this is a great pick up for the Texans. If Wes Welker wants to come in and contribute to Houston, he will definitely iron out a few wrinkles. You don’t play in the National Football League for 12 seasons and not pick up on a few things mentally. Welker understands what it takes to be successful in pro football and he understands the approach you need to have in this league. That approach being hard work, commitment, and sheer will all traits that Welker displayed as a player, which will also likely translate to Welker’s coaching career too. So you can begin to see why Bill O’Brien was eager to welcome Wes Welker aboard and it will be interesting to see whether Welker tries to climb the coaching latter or if he is content with a lesser role? Maybe Wes Welker sees himself as a head coach someday and he is laying the foundation to get to that gig. Like everyone else in life Welker has to pay his dues to get to that ideal position, so we will see what direction he takes it and how long he sticks with coaching? Regardless he will be with the Texans for the foreseeable future which makes a Houston a better team than they were before Welker signed on.

Charity of the day: World Resources Institute

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The San Francisco 49ers made a big time hire when they landed John Lynch:

Photo credit: Denver Post / Helen H. Richardson

Author: Jon Kuzma

With news breaking out of the Bay Area that the San Francisco 49ers have hired former NFL Safety John Lynch 49ers fans have to be excited. While many analysts are saying “Lynch will have trouble personnel wise” or “Lynch needs time to develop into a successful GM” those analysts need think again. John Lynch is a football mastermind and knows the ins and outs of the game. Lynch was a 9 time Pro Bowler and former Super Bowl Champion during his playing days. So along the way of playing at the high school level, college level, and pro level he has witnessed first hand some winning football formulas. Those approaches and philosophies will go into making up Lynch’s own methods and make no mistake about it the 49ers made a hell of a hire when they inked John Lynch. Now this team has a true G.M who can come in and add the necessary pieces for success. That will be the bringing in best players available in free agency for the cheapest price and bringing in the most talented rookies coming out of the draft. The 49ers have the 2nd overall pick in the draft this year and that will be a great opportunity for Lynch to showcase his football prowess. Bringing Deshaun Watson to San Francisco or trading back and making a splash by acquiring picks could be 2 options for the 49ers. So we will see what San Francisco does and the impact it has on this football team? The good news for Lynch is no matter what the 49ers should be better this season. They only had 2 wins all last season and Kyle Shanahan should be able to come in and improve upon that record. So there is a lot of good momentum being built in Niners land and John Lynch will be around for at least the next 6 years. Certainly a good move for San Francisco.

Charity of the day: World Resources Institute

Go donate! www.wri.org

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