Week 8 Picks

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Photo credit: Joe Bielawa

Week 8 Picks

Endzoneblog staff battle it out for Week 8 picks.

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New York Giants welcome back Jason Pierre-Paul:

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Photo credit: Mike Morbeck

Author: Jon Kuzma

The wait is over for New York Giants Defensive End Jason Pierre-Paul. He finally re-signed with the team this past week and rejoins the Giants after that horrific firework accident that claimed his index finger. Now with only 9 fingers Jason Pierre-Paul looks to continue his life as a pro football player. While the Giants initially suspected that the injury would be career ending. Pierre-Paul took the opposite stance and voiced his concerns via Twitter stating “I can’t think of the last time my index finger got me a sack”. Clearly the 6th year player felt he could still contribute to this New York Giants defense and now the story is a tale of great recovery. It has been a long road back for Pierre-Paul who has been kept off the football field and unable to do what he enjoys most, compete. He was slated to make around 14.8 million dollars before the injury, however the contract Pierre-Paul had to sign now is a performance based contract worth a maximum of 8.7 million dollars. That means if Pierre-Paul is capable of playing at an optimal level he will make that 8.7 million. That optimal level being a production level of at least 10 sacks. His base salary is actually only 1.5 million a year. So when you look at what Pierre Paul was going to make before the accident to now, it’s a big swing. Still Pierre-Paul remains optimistic. He has stated that he is “just happy to be playing football”. He also mentioned in a press conference that he is “happy to be alive”. The fireworks accident has clearly given Pierre-Paul a new perspective on life and that maturity might bold well for the pass rusher. A humbling experience like the one JPP had to face can push an athlete to new levels. Adversity works in funny ways for some athletes. Some respond to it much better than others. Jason Pierre Paul seems like a guy who used this injury as fuel for the fire. Many people wrote him off and it’s time Pierre-Paul gets his victory. He will get it when he walks back out on that field.

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Bengals and Steelers will be a great way to measure the AFC playoff picture:

 

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Photo credit: SteelCityHobbies

Author: Jon Kuzma

We all know that New England is the front runner of the AFC playoff picture. The next two teams in line are clearly the Broncos and the Bengals. With the Jets and Steelers sitting just behind those two squads mentioned above. So when the Bengals meet with the Steelers sunday in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania it will be a great measuring stick of how the future AFC playoffs might pan out. The Bengals enter that match up undefeated and with one of the better offenses in the league. Andy Dalton has been sensational this far, and he has a talented cast of offensive threats around him including most notably A.J Green. Green and Dalton have hooked up for 3 touchdown scores and Green is the primary option in this Bengals offense. When you add in the other offensive weapons the Bengals have acquired in guys like Tyler Eiffert who actually has been the most productive receiver in the offense this year. They really have an aerial threat that can overwhelm you defensively, if you don’t have a good enough pass rush and cover guys guys on the back end that can make plays. On the other sideline the Steelers offense is also very dynamic. They have been slowly gaining momentum over the last couple years offensively by adding talented young players through the draft. Now with Ben Roethlisberger back this weekend this offense should be ready to soar. That is if Roethlisberger is in good enough shape health wise to play at the level he was at before the knee injury. This is the first time this year the Steelers offense have got Roethlisbeger, LaVeon Bell, and Martavis Bryant all on the field at the same time. Those explosive players along with Antonio Brown will give this team a chance to win a lot of games later on in the year. Winning at home vs the Bengals would set a good precedent for the future. However it looks like the Bengals will be able to take this one. They just are a complete football team this year and haven’t been beaten this far. It doesn’t seem like that will change Sunday.

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Charity of the day: Young America’s Foundation

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Patriots humble Dolphins 36-7:

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Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Jon Kuzma

The New England Patriots rolled against the Miami Dolphins in Thursday Night Football 36-7. The Patriots were just a more sound football team in nearly every phase of the game. One thing that really stands out after reviewing the game film twice is the pass rush that the Patriots were able to bring. The Patriots defense sacked Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill 5 different times and made his night stressful all night long. That pressure led Tannehill to throw for 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions on the evening. The whole defense collectively only surrendered 7 points so that is a testament to their effort as a group. Belichick has to certainly be pleased with his defense’s effort from last night. Offensively just like any other week it was all about Tom Brady. The guy put up 4 touchdowns and no interceptions against the Miami defense. Showing why he is clearly the best quarterback in the league and a no brainer for the MVP award. Rob Gronkowski continued his dominance recording his 7th touchdown reception on the year. The guy was a match up problem all night for the Dolphins defense, whether it was on a post route down the middle or an out route up the sideline. Another notable Patriots performance that must be mentioned is Dion Lewis’ efforts. The Patriots scat back was able to haul in 6 receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown. He added a whole other dynamic to this Patriots offense and he is guy who beats you with his speed. Give credit to Belichick for finding another player flying under the radar and putting him in a role that not only optimizes his talents. It also adds a much needed passing threat out of the backfield to this Patriots offense. The Patriots won this match easily and walk into week 9 against the Redskins with a whole lot of momentum. This team just might have enough firepower to go undefeated again. Each week you have to become more and more of a believer.

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Charity of the day: Young America’s Foundation

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Tom Brady: Angry at the world

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Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Miami Dolphins always play the New England Patriots tough. In fact in 2013 the Dolphins beat the Patriots and in 2014 the teams split each winning a game apiece. Now after struggling in the beginning of the season the Dolphins have found their groove under new head coach Dan Campbell. Will it be enough enough to get past Tom Brady and the Patriots though? Not likely. The Patriots are undefeated for a reason and Tom Brady is a man on a mission. He is playing angry at the world for all the people who dragged his name through the mud and tried to dishonor his integrity. Sometimes the people follow the wrong path in life and many people chose to hop on the “I hate Tom Brady bandwagon”. Why though? He is the best quarterback of all time, and was a vital piece in building the new commercialized NFL that you see today. It’s simple quarterbacks are the face of the franchise and these quarterbacks are what sell the league to viewers. To turn your back on the guy who is arguably the clutches player of all time in any sport is just foolish of the American people. Do I believe Tom Brady is a cheater? No I do not, maybe you can accuse him of a little gamesmanship, but show me one franchise that doesn’t have that and I’ll pay my respects. The punishment Brady received for the alleged crime of deflating footballs was unfair. This has caused Tom Brady to become angry, and an angry Tom Brady is clearly a productive one. He has thrown for 16 touchdowns and only 1 interception on the season. While the Dolphins are red hot right now winning two in a row. They will come back down to earth tonight against the Patriots. And Brady will continue his dominance.

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Charity of the day: Homes for Our Troops

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Thursday Night Football Week 8 Picks:

New England Patriots at Washington Redskins 08/28/09

Photo credit: Keith Allison

 

New England takes on Miami in Week 8 of Thursday Night Football action.

Jon            Joey            Tammy

Patriots   Patriots       Patriots

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In a Game of Numbers, Who has the Upper Hand: Green Bay or Denver?

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Photo credit: Mike Morebeck

Author: Joey Carr

364. That’s the amount of yards the Green Bay Packers are averaging per game in 2015. 281. That’s how many yards the Denver Broncos allow per game. In the upcoming battle of offense and defense this Sunday between Green Bay and Denver, something will have to give, and there will be one less undefeated team in the NFL.

Taking a small detour, let’s take a look at something that won’t be talked about very much in the buildup for this game: Green Bay’s defense vs. Denver’s offense. Neither unit is remotely close to as dominant as their counterpart, but yet, both teams haven’t lost a game, which can only mean the other side of the ball is bailing them out each and every game. This scenario is primarily occurring in the Mile High City, with Peyton Manning and company getting some very good fortune with Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. catching multiple Pick-6’s to give the Broncos some breathing room. It’s no secret that the Denver offense has been bad, really bad; Manning has thrown an interception in each game this season, and the run game is either lackluster or nonexistent. So how well will this 29th ranked offense matchup with the 14th ranked defense of Green Bay? Maybe better than you think. If you go back and watch the week 6 matchup that had Green Bay fend off San Diego, you’ll notice that Phillip Rivers and Keenan Allen had career-high games, and the rushing attack was held to just 75 yards. Those stats bode well for The Sheriff and his high quality receiving corps, as Denver has a few more weapons than the Chargers and should be able to run all over the secondary. The one thing that has to happen for the Broncos to win this game though: Peyton Manning has to be somewhat accurate. We’re not used to seeing Number 18 throw more interceptions than touchdowns but this week, in order for Denver to have a shot at staying unbeaten, he has to be the Peyton Manning of old.

Now, getting back on track, let’s take a look at the real matchup of the day: the GB offense vs. the DEN defense. Both of these high-powered units have won the majority of their team’s games so far this season, but one unit will ultimately prevail. So which one will it be? I’m leaning towards the Green Bay offense. Once you consider the quality of quarterbacks that Denver has played this year, none of them come close to comparing to the skillset possessed by Aaron Rodgers. He has pinpoint accuracy and a knack for finding the open man, something the Broncos haven’t faced yet. I’m not saying that the dynamic duo of cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. aren’t up to the task, but there are very few cornerbacks in the league that have been able to stop Rodgers in the past. However, a banged up Randall Cobb and rusty Davante Adams aren’t exactly the receivers that can burn a defense but they, along with ageless veteran James Jones, haven’t had any problems so far in the season. The one thing that might derail the Packers offensive charge is the formidable Denver front seven and linebacker corps. Led by Von Miller and Demarcus Ware, the pass rush of Denver has been nearly impossible to stop so far this season and an average Green Bay offensive line might not be up to the task of stopping them. It’ll certainly be something to keep an eye when Sunday Night comes around.

All in all, this will be an absolutely fantastic game (at least everyone hopes). Two of the more dominant teams in the league battling it out under the lights on Sunday night is a recipe for a fun-filled night. In the end, however, I see Green Bay’s high flying offense getting the job done and the Denver offense continuing to struggle against an up and coming Packer defense.

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Cowboys heavy hitters will be returning shortly. Can they get back in the playoff picture?

 

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Photo credit: AJ Gruel

Author: Jon Kuzma

With news breaking out of Cowboys camp that Dez Brant is slowly returning to practice this week for the Cowboys. You have to wonder if the Cowboys are going to have enough firepower later on to get back in NFC East contention and the playoffs. While the team has been decimated by the loss of Tony Romo (they haven’t won a game without him) the team still has to find a way to win a couple games down the stretch to give this team a chance for Romo to come back and save their season. The Cowboys almost have to look at their season as a baseball game, and they have to get it to their closer (Romo) who will come in at the end of the season and get this team to the playoffs. Before that however they have to be able to beat some very good ball clubs which include the Seattle Seahawks who are just finding their stride again. Also they will have to beat the Panthers who have been red hot this season and are still undefeated. That’s if Tony Romo comes back by November 26th, there is still no telling when Romo will officially be ready to go. That’s if Romo will even be able to go again this year. You never know how long a collarbone injury is going to take with a quarterback and players tend to rush it when it trying to get back on the field. The last thing the Cowboys want to do is force their franchise player to play before he is physically healthy. Regardless if Romo is able to go or not, getting Bryant back will certainly help this ball club. Whether Matt Cassel or Brandon Weeden is in the game they will get a huge uplift from having Dez Bryant back on the field and that number 88 receiver lined up out wide. Were talking about a guy who had 16 touchdown receptions last season and has god given talents that are far superior than most. Bryant truly is an x-factor and getting him back couldn’t come at a better time for the Boys.

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A new class of NFL bad apples emerges:

 

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Photo credit: Erik Drost

Author: Jon Kuzma

If anyone caught the Dallas Cowboys game last week against the New York Giants. Then they most likely caught Greg Hardy’s meltdown on Cowboys special team coach Rich Bisaccia. After the game video clips of the incident hit the internet and fans were outraged when you could clearly see Hardy slap the coaches clipboard out of his hand and engage in a shouting match with the coach. This was beyond just a blatant disrespect for authority, instead this was a case of Hardy showcasing how truly dysfunctional he not only is as a football player but as a human being as well. What is even more dysfunctional is that just a few days after the incident. Jerry Jones is talking about extending his contract. That’s right the guy who beat up his girlfriend and threw her on weapons. Had no remorse about it in his first press conference back. And a guy who just pretty much slapped up his coach on the sideline is getting a contract extension (or at least is in talks for one). Jerry Jones is a great owner, he does a lot for the National Football League. He is dead wrong on this one. Does he need Hardy’s pass rush? Absolutely, but what happens when Hardy snaps and does something stupid as a member of the Cowboys? Doe the team become liable? There is no doubt the Cowboys will suffer if Hardy is removed from the team. The Cowboys might be avoiding an even bigger blunder by doing so however. The guy has red flags everywhere and is a ticking time bomb waiting to happen. That other team in Texas has a problem child of their own. That’s right we’re talking about Ryan Mallett formerly of the Houston Texans. Mallet who was the back up quarterback for this team has had several slip ups while competing for the starting job. First he missed practice the next day after Brian Hoyer was named the starter. Also just recently he missed a flight to a game and had to pay his own way to fly commercially. Eventually the Texans felt that Mallett had become too much of a distraction and parted ways with the troubled signal caller. In Cleveland there is another troubled signal caller. Johnny Manziel the second year player out of Texas A.M was seen driving recklessly and fighting with his girlfriend in Ohio. Eventually the two pulled over and were exchanging words when police arrived at the scene. What is troubling for Manziel is he admitted he had bit drinking, which surprised a lot of people considering he just got out of alcohol rehab this past off-season. The league is waiting for the legal process to play out, that is if legal action is taken. Right now it appears there wont be. Regardless Manziel must be cautious or he might find himself walking down a similar path as Ryan Mallett. Out of an NFL job and plenty of time to think about his mistakes. The NFL truly has a new case of bad apples.

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Charity of the day: Soldiers’ Angels

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Week 8 power rankings:

 

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Photo credit: Mike Morbeck

Author: Joey Carr

 

1. New England Patriots, 6-0

Another game, another win for the Defending World Champs. Keep an eye out for their matchup with division rival Miami this week, as the Fins have been playing great as of late.

2. Green Bay Packers, 6-0

The Pack returns from the bye and will duel it out with the undefeated Broncos in the best game of the season to date.

3. Cincinnati Bengals, 6-0

Cincy has been quite the surprise this year and with a potent offense and strong defense, look out for the Bengals in the coming weeks as they play a couple division games.

4. Carolina Panthers, 6-0

The Panthers just keep on winning and continually prove that they’re not a fluke team. If they can pull out a win against Indy this week, that thought should be solidified.

5. Denver Broncos, 6-0

The Broncos also come back from their bye week and will face off against the Packers in their toughest game of the year. Can the Denver defense bail out Peyton Manning again?

6. Atlanta Falcons, 6-1

The Falcons scraped by the Titans this past week, but are still a force to be reckoned with as long as Devonta Freeman keeps putting up 100-yard games.

7. Arizona Cardinals, 5-2

Arizona had a bit of good fortune last night, as Joe Flacco and the Ravens seemed to forget how to properly throw a football. They might not be the Super Bowl contender everyone thought they were.

8. Seattle Seahawks, 3-4

The Legion of Boom came through big this past week, holding San Fran to just 3 points. They seem to be back on track but get an interesting matchup this week with Dallas.

9. New York Jets, 4-2

It was a close one, but the Jets fell to the Pats on Sunday. They played great the whole game, however, and look to be like a legit wildcard contender.

10. Pittsburgh Steelers, 4-3

Well maybe Landry Jones isn’t the short term answer at quarterback that the Steelers thought he would be, but Big Ben should return this week (let Antonio Brown rejoice).

11. New York Giants, 4-3

The Giants retook the NFC East lead with a win over the Cowboys on Sunday night, and should be able to retain that lead in the coming weeks.

12. Minnesota Vikings, 4-2

Don’t look now, but the Vikings are 4-2 and are in contention for a playoff spot. The Vikes are clicking on both sides of the ball and look like the team everyone expected them to be.

13. Philadelphia Eagles, 3-4

The Eagles offense once again was no match for the opposing defense, as Sam Bradford didn’t toss a single touchdown. If the Eagles want any chance this season, the offense needs to get rejuvenated.

14. Indianapolis Colts, 3-4

Yikes. That’s the only word to describe the Colts loss against the Saints at home on Sunday. Chuck Pagano, take your last look around Lucas Oil Stadium.

15. New Orleans Saints, 3-4

Who would’ve thought the Saints would be 3-4 after their terrible start to the season? Maybe a playoff spot is in the cards after all.

16. Miami Dolphins, 3-3

Just call them the Miami Dan Campbell’s, because it’s pretty much a fact at this point. New head coach Dan Campbell seems to have this Dolphins team turned around and now looks to take down their arch rival, the Patriots.

17. Oakland Raiders, 3-3

Wow. I was at a loss for words when I saw the halftime score of the Raiders and Chargers game. Derek Carr and Amari Cooper dominated and the Raiders might actually have something this season with the AC/DC connection.

18. San Diego Chargers, 2-5

Oh San Diego. Los Angeles isn’t going to take you if you keep losing games, no matter the fashion in which you lose those games.

19. St. Louis Rams, 3-3

Look out for these Rams; they’re playing their best football in years and should contend for a playoff spot with Todd Gurley putting the team on his back.

20. Dallas Cowboys, 2-4

The Cowboys really need Tony Romo and Dez Bryant back. That is all.

21. Buffalo Bills, 3-4

Excuses, excuses, excuses. Those were all Rex Ryan had after his team’s embarrassing loss to the Jags in London.

22. Kansas City Chiefs, 2-5

Maybe it was Tony Gonzalez banging the drum before the game at Arrowhead, but the Chiefs played great against a Big Ben-less Steelers team. Also, congrats to Eric Berry, who intercepted his first pass since being diagnosed with cancer.

23. Washington Redskins, 3-4

Call it the Comeback of the Year, but Kirk Cousins knows that “You liked that!” dramatic win over Tampa Bay on Sunday.

24. Chicago Bears, 2-4

The Bears return from their bye and will look to keep on being an average squad.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars, 2-5

The Jags definitely have a bright future if they can keep the receiving corp and T.J. Yeldon together. They dismantled Buffalo in London and should keep on scoring in high volume.

26. San Francisco 49ers, 2-5

Someone should let San Francisco and Colin Kaepernick know that throwing the ball out of bounds every other play won’t win you the football game.

27. Detroit Lions, 1-6

So close, yet so far, is an accurate tribute to the Lion’s season so far. They just need to find a way to pull out victories.

28. Houston Texans, 2-5

Being outgained 275-0 in yards in the first half isn’t usually a good thing, Houston. Also, someone needs to get Ryan Mallett a watch, as he had to fly commercial to Miami because he missed the team plane (he was released by Houston this morning).

29. Baltimore Ravens, 1-6

Man, are the Ravens worse than anyone could’ve dreamed of before the season began. If it weren’t for Steve Smith Sr., the Ravens would not have their single win.

30. Cleveland Browns, 2-5

Well Cleveland, it might be Johnny Football time yet again, as Josh McCown went down with another injury. Enjoy it while it lasts.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2-4

It’s safe to say that Jameis Winston needs some time to mature in the league, but that Tampa defense needs some serious readjusting.

32. Tennessee Titans, 1-5

On the bright side of losing on Sunday, the Titans held the powerful Falcon offense to only 10 points.

 

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Charity of the day: Soldiers’ Angels

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