Why the Falcons will make it to the NFC Championship Game

Falcons at Ravens 10/19/14

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Joey Carr

While it’s true that the Atlanta Falcons looked somewhat lost on Thursday night when they were defeated by New Orleans in the Superdome, there’s reason to believe that these Dirty Birds are only going to improve. On Thursday, their star receiver, Julio Jones, was a bit banged up with a lingering hamstring issue, and Matt Ryan made some uncharacteristic mistakes that included three fumbles. They were also facing a Saints team that had their season on the line, making the Superdome even more hostile than usual. However, they’re still 5-1, Devonta Freeman is continuing his torrid, un-human like attack in the run game, and they have by far the easiest remaining schedule in the NFL. If they can win 8 out of their next 10, we should be seeing them fighting for a chance to play in Santa Clara come January.

It’s easy to call the Falcons a fluke team this year after losing by 10 to a 1-4 Saints squad; but if you look at their previous games, they’re anything but a fluke team. They possess numerous lethal weapons on offense, Dan Quinn’s defense is performing like a true unit, and they’ve owned the comeback factor. Both their offense and defense have won them football games, which is the way it’s supposed to be if a team is to be successful. Matt Ryan, for the most part, has been making sound decisions and is proving to be an elite quarterback in this league. Devonta Freeman is an absolute monster on the ground, putting up Ladainian Tomlinson type numbers. If he can keep up that pace, then the receiving corps, which has been extremely reliable thus far, won’t have to make as many plays. Also, second-string running back Tevin Coleman makes him and Freeman one of the best 1-2 punches in the NFL. Desmond Trufant and Paul Worrilow, both of whom are having career best seasons, are leading the defensive charge. The Falcon defense so far has done a valiant job of containing the quarterback and limiting the amount of big plays, something that has kept them in games. However, as long as Trufant and company keeps games close, the Dirty Birds offense should be able to take care of the rest.

Another reason to add to the claim that the Falcons will make the Championship Game is the fact that Atlanta has the easiest remaining schedule in the league. Their hardest game left is against the Colts in Indy and beyond that, there’s not much of a challenge. They do have a tilt with the Vikings at home and two games against division rival Carolina left but they should be favored by at least 5 points in all of those games. If they can manage to go 8-2 the rest of the way, they should be able to secure a Top 2 seed in the NFC playoff picture, and likely be beside Green Bay or Arizona. The Pack have a fairly difficult remaining schedule, as does Arizona, so if Atlanta can finish 13-3, it’s completely plausible that they will be the top seed in the NFC.

Of course, all of this is based on conjecture. Maybe the Falcons were really found out by New Orleans Thursday, and 13-3 is a long shot at best. Maybe a top 2 seed in the NFC is wishful thinking; but based on their play the previous 6 games, it’s more than likely in the realm of possibility. Expect the Falcons to only improve, and go at least

7-3 the rest of the way. If they can accomplish this, a heavy weight matchup with either Arizona or Green Bay or maybe even Seattle is definitely on the table.

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All the spotlight on college football today as U of M takes on MSU:

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Photo credit: Brad Muckenthaler

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Michigan State football program has been the top dog in the state of Michigan for the last several years. When former Michigan football player Michael Hart referred to Michigan State as Michigan’s “little brother.” He had no idea how the future was going to unfold. Since that time Mark Dantonio’s Spartans have reigned supreme. They’ve been higher in the A.P rankings nearly every season and have won six out of the last seven meetings. However things got much more interesting in the rivalry when the University of Michigan selected Jim Harbaugh as their new head football coach this past off-season. Since that moment, Harbaugh has completely resurrected a program who despite being the most winning program in all college football history had fell to a level of mediocrity in recent seasons. Not anymore though, Harbaugh and the Wolverines enter the match up with a 5-1 record only falling in their season opener to number 4 ranked Utah. This match up between the Spartans and Wolverines hasn’t been this interesting in very long time. The coaches going head to head on the sidelines haven’t been this talented since Lloyd Carr and Nick Saban battled it out in the mid 90’s. One alarming stat that must be stated is the team that wins the running game is typically the winner in the contest. In fact the team that rushed for more yards in the game went on to win the game 42 out of 45 contests. Showing that the key to success on any level of football is truly the same. Run the ball and play outstanding defense. While today will be a great day for college football fans as they get treated to this great college football rivalry. Give credit to both programs for giving their whole state something to be proud of.

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Can Denver Survive with such a weak offense?

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Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall

Author: Joey Carr

Prior to season’s begin, if I told you that the high and mighty Denver Broncos would have the 26th ranked offense in the NFL, you would’ve more than likely laughed in my face and drafted C.J. Andersen in the first round of your fantasy draft just to spite me. Well, here we are, Week 6 of the NFL season, and the Peyton Manning-led Broncos have one of the most inefficient offensive units in the league. Many predicted a Manning decline was on the horizon, but none could’ve predicted the turmoil the run game is in right now. Their rushing attack has been virtually nonexistent, which ultimately weakens the passing game and explains why their offense has been playing so poorly to start the season. However, even with an average passing attack and porous run game, they’re still undefeated at 5-0. Can their defense keep carrying the offense or will Manning and company start costing their team games? My guess is the latter.

Just two years removed from having one of the more triumphant and brilliant seasons a quarterback has ever had, Peyton Manning is now in the twilight of his career (let the AFC West rejoice). It’s apparent that his arm strength and accuracy just isn’t what it used to be back when he was tossing touchdowns left and right to Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne as a Colt. However, to Number 18’s credit, his average skillset is still significantly better than some of the other quarterback’s skills in the NFL today. Still, the fact remains that the Denver offense is sputtering in mediocrity to start off the 2015 campaign and, if not for their formidable defense, they could easily be 2-3 right now. Take last week for example: if Chris Harris didn’t pick off Derek Carr and return it for a touchdown, the Broncos wouldn’t of had the breathing room they did, and the Raiders could’ve definitely won that game on a last minute drive. The Bronco defense has bailed out the Bronco offense more than once this season, and we all know that in the NFL, you need both sides of the ball working together in concert to get to February and win. Just ask the 2011 Patriots.

These offensive problems for Denver can be fixed, however, but it will require vast improvements on the offensive line. The blame for the lackluster running game is being placed all on C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman, but in reality it’s not completely their fault; if you watch the tape on any Bronco game, it’s obvious that the running backs have no room to run due to the fact that they are being antagonized by the defensive lineman before they can even maneuver their way to the line of scrimmage. Between the two feature backs, Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson, only Hillman has eclipsed the 100-yard mark, but just once. They’ve only accrued 2 rushing touchdowns on the year, both by Hillman, and have done minimal damage in the passing game. They are being asked to block more to compensate for their trivial production, putting more pressure on Peyton Manning and the passing attack. Simply put, Manning doesn’t need that kind of pressure this late in his career. In order for him to succeed and be more efficient as a passer, he needs his run game to step up, gain some solid chunks of yardage, and chew up some clock. 50 passing attempts isn’t what will propel this Denver team to the Super Bowl, even with a number 1 defense.

To be blunt, if the Broncos offense keeps going the way they’re going, the defense will eventually follow suit, to a point. They won’t completely collapse because they’re simply too talented to not be a top 5 defense. However, they can’t keep winning their team games all by themselves; that’s not what a defense is designed to do. The offense is supposed to put points on the scoreboard and the defense is supposed to stop the other team from scoring. So far, the Broncos game plan has relied on their defense scoring and securing ideal field position for their offense, which can’t last all season. Once they face off against a worthy offense, it will be interesting to see how Denver’s offensive unit responds if they have to put up 34 points to win the game. As of now, however, the Denver Broncos can’t survive without at least a middle of the pack offense.

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Football predictions for every week 6 game

Panthers at Ravens 9/28/14

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Joey Carr

Not many could’ve predicted the utter chaos that has been the 2015 NFL season. There have been countless different story lines to follow and so many surprises thus far. The Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals are undefeated. The Denver Broncos have the 26th ranked offense. Chacandrick West and Knile Davis lead the Kansas City backfield. The Seahawks are 2-3. The Miami Dolphins have a new head coach. Chris Johnson is second in the league in rushing yards. At this point in the season, it’s virtually impossible to accurately predict who will emerge victorious in each game, but it’s always worth a go.

Bengals vs. Bills, 1:00 P.M.

This is possibly the Bengals first real, difficult challenge. Yes, they did play and beat the defending NFC Champion Seahawks last week, but that was at home and against a depleted Seattle team. This week, they’re facing a highly energetic atmosphere in Buffalo and are playing an unpredictable Bills squad. Rex Ryan’s team has shown glimpses of potential but has so far been inconsistent. This matchup could go either way, but the Bengals seem to have more talent overall and are playing on a hot streak.

Prediction: Bengals 27 Bills 17,

Broncos vs. Browns, 1:00 P.M.

If I had to pick an upset game for the week, this would be the game. The Broncos offense has been below average at best. Their run game is nonexistent and Peyton Manning is a middle of the pack quarterback this year. Their defense is elite however, but will be tested when they face Josh McCown, who just last week threw for over 450 yards. This Cleveland team is hungry, they’re at home, and will definitely put up a fight when Denver comes to town Sunday.

Prediction: Broncos 17 Cleveland 16

Bears vs. Lions, 1:00 P.M.

Before the season started, no one would’ve dreamed that the Detroit Lions would be the last winless team in the NFL. But, that’s where we are, and the Lions are simply a mess; Matthew Stafford has thrown 8 interceptions and Calvin Johnson hasn’t eclipsed 100 yards receiving yet. The defense could make Tom Brady look like a good running back and the pass defense isn’t a lot better. The Bears, on the other hand, have looked much more improved since Jay Cutler returned form injury and have one of the best backs in the game in Matt Forte, which should be a major issue all day long for the Lions.

Prediction: Bears 31 Lions 20

Texans vs. Jaguars, 1:00 P.M.

Unless you’re a Texan or Jaguar fan, you probably won’t be watching this game. Both of these teams are peddling in mediocrity this year, and a change doesn’t appear to be on the horizon. Brian Hoyer has overtaken the quarterback position for Houston and has looked sharp in his last

two outings and DeAndre Hopkins leads the league in receiving yards. However, for some reason, the Texans seem to commit a turnover at the worst possible time, which usually loses them the game. This game will ultimately come down to which team commits less turnovers.

Prediction: Jaguars 23 Texans 21

Chiefs vs. Vikings, 1:00 P.M.

The Vikings are coming off a bye and facing a Jamaal Charles-less Chiefs team. Minnesota has performed admirably so far this season, and should be able to continue playing well against an underachieving KC defense. Look for Adrian Peterson to have a big day on the ground and keep an eye on the Chiefs backfield, which now consists of Chacandrick West and Knile Davis.

Prediction: Vikings 28 Chiefs 20

Dolphins vs. Titans, 1:00 P.M.

Miami has vastly under cut expectations this season and will try to get back on track when they visit the Titans this Sunday. They’ll have problems, however, when Marcus Mariota and company try to overcome back-to-back losses. Mariota presents numerous matchup problems for the Dolphins defense and he should be able to exploit those problems come Sunday. If the Dolphins want any chance at winning though, they’ll need Ryan Tannehill to step up and be the quarterback they expected him to be.

Prediction: Titans 27 Dolphins 22

Redskins vs. Jets, 1:00 P.M.

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the season, the New York Jets sit at 3-1 and look poised to go 4-1. They’re playing an average Redskins team at home, and will cause tons of problems for Kirk Cousins. However, the Jet offense will need to take it up a notch in order to get past the stingy Washington defense that yielded just 19 points to the Falcons high-powered offense last week.

Prediction: Jets 24 Redskins 19

Cardinals vs. Steelers, 1:00 P.M.

By far the best 1:00 o’clock game this week, this Arizona, Pittsburgh matchup should be a shootout. Last week on Monday Night, the Steelers showed the world they don’t need Big Ben to win football games, as they have Le’Veon Bell leading the offensive charge. However, their defense could be tested heavily when the Cardinals come to Heinz Field. The Cards have a surprisingly strong run game with Chris Johnson as the feature back, and Carson Palmer looks as impressive as ever. Look for this game to come down to the fourth quarter.

Prediction: Cardinals 27 Steelers 24

Panthers vs. Seahawks, 4:05 P.M.

It’s a rematch of last year’s NFC Divisional matchup, but you would think this year’s records for both of these teams are swapped. The Panthers stand at 4-0 and the Seahawks at 2-3, but these records are a little skewed. Carolina has yet to play an above .500 team, and the Seahawks have played nothing but above average teams. The Panthers will be feeling the pressure on Sunday when they enter the home of the 12th Man, and will more than likely be undefeated no longer.

Prediction: Seahawks 26 Panthers 14

Ravens vs. 49ers, 4:25 P.M.

In a rematch of Super Bowl 47, a win could benefit both these teams greatly. The Ravens have disappointed, to say the least. They’re 1-4, at the bottom of the AFC North, and are basically fighting for their lives at this point. In order for them to have any shot this season, they need to secure a W against a 49er team that has been extremely inconsistent. If Baltimore can contain Carlos Hyde and limit the damage that Kaepernick can cause, they should be able to walk out of Santa Clara with a much needed win.

Prediction: Ravens 20 49ers 13

Chargers vs. Packers

Definitely the marquee matchup of the afternoon, the Bolts will try to slow down Aaron Rodgers and the Pack at Lambeau, which isn’t an easy task to accomplish. Rodgers has been near impossible to stop at home but the Chargers will be up to the test. This game should be close throughout but the Packers always seem to find a way to win at home. However, don’t be surprised if San Diego gives Green Bay their first loss of the season.

Prediction: Packers 30 Chargers 27

Patriots vs. Colts, 8:30 P.M.

This is the game we’ve all been waiting for. The Revenge Game. It was nine months ago that the Patriots crushed the Colts in the AFC Championship Game, thus beginning the saga known as Deflategate. You couldn’t ask for a better story line going into a game, and New England looks ready to pay back Jim Irsay and the Colts for telling the NFL about supposedly deflated footballs. Tom Brady is playing some of the best football of his career and always performs at a high level when he plays Indy. Andrew Luck on the other hand, seems to play his worst football when he matches up against the Pats. Expect New England to pass the ball with efficiency but also expect a high-powered running attack that has succeeded in the past against Indy.

Prediction: Patriots 37 Colts 21

Giants vs. Eagles, 8:30 P.M. (Monday Night)

An NFC East rivalry is renewed this Monday when the Giants travel to Philly to take on the Eagles. Both teams could really use a win, as they are both battling for the wide-open NFC East division. Eli Manning and the Giants have been on a hot streak as of late, winning three games in a row after dropping their first two. However, the Eagles might finally have something going

offensively, after DeMarco Murray broke out for 83 yards rushing and Sam Bradford passed for over 300 yards yet again. This game should be a thriller, and is anyone’s game at this point. However, New York could be in trouble in if receivers Odell Beckham and Reuben Randle can’t play.

Prediction: Eagles 30 Giants 27

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Drew Brees catches fire, leads Saints past Falcons in rivalry match up:

Saints at Ravens 8/13/15

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Jon Kuzma

Thursday night football was all about Drew Brees whose precision helped uplift the New Orleans Saints past the Atlanta Falcons 31-21. Brees finished the game with 312 passing yards and 1 touchdown pass . Looking tremendous passing the ball all night. Every time the Saints needed to make a big play it was Brees connecting with Watson, or Brees connecting with Cooks that would keep Saints’ drives alive. Watson had a big day for the Saints offense finishing the game with 10 receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown. Having his best day as a Saint, and showing there is life after Jimmy Graham at the Tight End position in New Orleans. The Saints landed a much needed win and hand the Falcons their first loss of the season. Brees might have commanded things offensively for the Saints but he received a huge gift from his defense tonight. The Saints defense looked great all night hassling Matt Ryan nearly every time he dropped back. In fact the Saints were able to sack Matt Ryan 5 times on the evening. Making it tough for Ryan to get in a groove or find a rhythm. Three of those sacks came from Cameron Jordan who also recorded five solo tackles and 3 tackles for loss as well. Showing he truly is one of the most talented defensive lineman in the NFL. The performance by Jordan was so dominant because he finished six plays behind the line of scrimmage( 3 sacks, 3 TFL’s). Quite a bit of production for just one player. If this Saints team can come out and play every game like they did tonight they are a force to be reckoned with. The challenge for them will be the consistency. They can’t go back into their shell and fold up next week against the Colts. It’s just like your old football coach used to tell you back in high school. Enjoy this win for 24 hours if you’re the Saints, then get back to business. If the Saints do all the little things right and rattle several wins off in a row there is no telling what they could achieve. The question is, is it too late?

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Week 6 Thursday Night Picks:

Falcons at Ravens 10/19/14
Falcons at Ravens 10/19/14

Week 6 Thursday Night Picks from Enzoneblog.com

Jon               Joey             Tammy

Falcons     Falcons         Falcons

Why the Lions are Struggling So Much to Start the 2015 Season

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Photo credit: Mike Morbeck

Author: Joey Carr

January 4th, 2015, a date that will live in infamy for the city of Detroit and their Lions. It was the NFC Wildcard Round of the playoffs and the Lions and Cowboys were dueling it out at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. After a blistering first half and strong fourth quarter, the Lions were on their way to winning their first playoff game since 1991, a divisional matchup that was also against Dallas. However, the football gods had different plans in mind for Matthew Stafford and company. About halfway into the fourth quarter, Detroit was marching down the field and looked to extend it’s lead over America’s Team, which would’ve almost sealed a W and sent them to Green Bay for the NFC Championship. Everyone on the Lions sideline was cheering and jumping up and down with a Grinch-Like smile on their face, knowing they came into Dallas and left victorious. Then came the flag. On a pass downfield from Stafford to tight end Brandon Pettigrew, linebacker Antony Hitchens jumped and tried to block the pass with his body, which he succeeded in doing, but a little contact was drawn, and referee Pete Morelli threw a penalty flag. But the call never came for pass interference or holding or illegal contact; instead Morelli walked to midfield, picked up the flag, put it back in his pocket, and said there was no flag on the play, giving no explanation. This started a chain reaction that led to Dallas winning the game on a last minute drive, breaking the heart of Detroit Lion player and fan alike. However, there was hope for this season. This was the year the Lions would finally win a playoff game and make their mark. Fast-forward to today, and the Lions are looking like the worst team in the National Football League.

To be fair, Detroit was blessed with one of the more daunting schedules in all of football, but they haven’t put up much of a fight in any of their games. They haven’t scored more than 28 points in any game and have given up at least 24 points in all but one game. Their offense has been one of the least efficient units in the league and their defense has really felt the losses of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. I don’t think anyone expected this kind of production from a team that was a penalty away from making the NFC Championship Game just a year ago. So why have the Lions been so bad? Their lack of execution on offense.

Matthew Stafford. Calvin Johnson. Golden Tate. Ameer Abdullah. Joique Bell. Eric Ebron. These names are all on the Lions offensive unit, however they’ve all vastly under exceeded expectations. Stafford is just a year removed from throwing for 5,000 yards and Calvin Johnson has gone from one of the most feared receivers in the game to a middle of the pack

producer. Their running game has been very inconsistent, causing them to rely more on the passing game, which is just making things for the offense worse. On a roster with all those big names, third string running back Theo Riddick is the only one putting up decent numbers week in and week out. He’s been extremely reliable in the passing game, finding the end zone a couple of times and out pacing rookie Ameer Abdullah. This bottom of the pack offense is what is really holding back this Detroit team and if Stafford and company don’t fix their problems sooner rather than later, we might be seeing more of Dan Orlovsky (like we did last Sunday).

It’s not that the Lions are a bad team, they’ve just executed so poorly on both sides of the ball. Through five games, they’ve given up 1877 yards on defense, ranking 23rd in the league, and have accumulated only 1607 yards of offense, also 23rd in the league. To put those rankings in perspective, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, and Cleveland are all ahead of Detroit in total offense. Now, it’s easy to blame the quarterback for the majority of the offensive problems, but Stafford hasn’t been as bad as his numbers indicate. Yes, he’s thrown 8 interceptions, but if you watch the tape, these picks haven’t been entirely his fault. Take a look at this interception in Week 1:

If you count the seconds, Matthew Stafford had about 1.5 seconds before he was on the ground. His offensive line put up no fight whatsoever, causing him to be pressured extremely quickly and not wanting to take the sack, he tried to get rid off it but was hit too soon and was intercepted on an amazing catch by the defensive lineman. A lot of Stafford’s interceptions have been like that, with acrobatic catches by the defense. So yes, it is partly the quarterback’s fault but there are many other factors to consider when talking about their offensive struggles. Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate haven’t exactly given their QB any help, dropping about a third of their targets. Johnson, a usually perennial receiver, hasn’t graced 100 yards receiving yet this season and only has one touchdown. Tate hasn’t been any better, also not getting to 100 yards and has no touchdowns. It’s easy for fans to blame Stafford because of how many picks Stafford has this season, but truth be told, it’s not all his fault.

In addition to their offensive woes, the defense hasn’t exactly pulled their weight, as they have given up an average of 375 yards a game thus far. Their pass defense is definitely worse than their run defense in terms of yardage, but that might be attributed to the fact that they have faced an above average quarterback in each of their games. However, that should be no excuse when it comes to desire to win. They are playing largely uninspired on

D, and it shows late in the game when their offense needs them to get a stop but instead they allow a long, time-wasting touchdown drive. If the offense has any hope of improving, a large factor in that improvement will be the defense allowing them to get on the field more often.

The Detroit Lions are loaded with talent. They’ve got great weapons on offense and potential on defense. However, they’re 0-5 and are one of the worst teams in the NFL. With a somewhat easy schedule going forward (easier than their first 5), they have the ability to turn their season around but need to start executing on both sides of the ball. More importantly though, they need to start playing like a team.

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Seattle Seahawks: A season on the brink

Seahawks at Redskins 10/6/14

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Seattle Seahawks could be in serious trouble if they don’t come out and perform in their match up Sunday with the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers enter the game with a 4-0 record and a ton of momentum on their side. While the Seahawks seem like a shell of the team that went to back to back Super Bowls just the previous two seasons before. Russell Wilson has regressed from the player that won the Super Bowl two seasons ago and that regression was clear in last year’s Super Bowl as well. The guy is so caught up in the glam and glitz of being a star NFL player that he has failed to realize the Seattle Seahawks are 26th in the league in passing. Now to be fair some of that drop is due to losing Max Unger and James Carpenter upfront on that offensive line. Still it seems like this team has had one problem after another all year long. Whether it be Wilson putting himself above the team by being attention hungry, Kam Chancellor holding out, or Marshawn Lynch getting injured. Even the trade for Jimmy Graham didn’t pan out in their favor. Yea they added a dynamic playmaker at tight end, but they also gave up Unger and had to watch Carpenter walk out the door as well. Give credit to Pete Carroll for doing the best he can to keep this thing together. He always says the right things, he always seems to be the glue that holds things together when this team is on the verge of a meltdown. Without that charisma and positivity Pete brings to the table. This whole team would of fell apart a long time ago. While very talented on paper this locker room is full of ego and not easy at all to manage. That ego works in the Seahawks favor most of the time, lately it has not. You hate to see a team that has had such a dominant reign implode. Sooner or late though all reigns come to end. That is unless Pete Carroll can save this franchise yet again.

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2 key games to look out for in week 6:

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Photo credit: Fred Swami

Author: Jon Kuzma

There are two key games that really stick out when looking at the week 6 NFL schedule. Those two match up are the Bengals vs the Bills, and the Cardinals vs the Steelers. We chose these two match ups because first off the Bills are a great test for the Bengals. The Bengals just beat the Seattle Seahawks last weekend and could further solidify their dominance by beating a very talented Buffalo Bills team. Rex Ryan has this team playing outstanding, but keep an eye on whether or not E.J Manuel can keep this team playing at an optimal level now that Tyrod Taylor has been ruled out. You would think that Taylor being out meant Andy Dalton and company could march to an easy win, but the Bills are loaded with talent at several positions. Still the Cincinnati offense has been outstanding ranking in the top 5 for points, yards, and passing yards per game. Andy Dalton has been sensational through the air, and A.J Green is around the 500 yard mark with 3 touchdowns on the year. One other notable piece to this offense is the offensive live. They’ve received high praise from NFL execs around the league and it is clear this Bengals line up front can open holes AND pass protect. Keep an eye on that match up and whether or not the Bengals can remain undefeated. In the second key game of the week we have the Steelers taking on the Cardinals. The Steelers have managed to stay afloat with Michael Vick at the helm and that is largely because this offense is loaded with talent. When you factor in that they will get back Martavis Bryant in mix, it just makes this offense that much more dynamic. The Cardinals on the other hand have been having an outstanding year earning a 4-1 record on the year. They also have the highest scoring average in all the NFL with 38 points per game. The 3rd best rushing attack with an average of 134.8 yards per game, and the 5th best defense with just 18 points surrendered a game. Offensively player wise for the Cardinals Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald have been phenomenal and will likely have a big day against this Steelers defense. Palmers has passed for 13 touchdowns on the year and 6 of them went to Larry Fitzgerald. Which could spell trouble for the Steelers and their 20th ranked pass defense. Both key games in determining these teams worth, and both key games because of how talented the teams are on the field. They should be interesting to watch.

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Taking a look at Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota’s progress heading into week 6:

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Photo credit: Erik Drost

Author: Jon Kuzma

The number 1 and the number 2 overall draft pick in the 2015 draft will forever be compared. Winston who was drafted number 1 overall believe it or not has been the worse player stat wise after 5 weeks of NFL action. While this might come as no surprise to Winston’s opposers who always stated “he has off the field issues.” It’s shocking to his supporters, who know that Winston has made a name for himself by stepping up in the big moment all of his football career. Currently though, it’s Mariota’s poise that has made the smoother transition to the NFL level in terms of passer production. Mariota has passed for 8 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. While Jameis Winston has passed for 7 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. So Marcus Mariota is the clear cut better choice right? Not necessarily. One other factor that must always go in to account when examining a players worth is their ability to win. Jameis Winston has led his team (the Bucs) to a 2-3 record. While Mariota’s Titans are just 1-3 on the year. Only a one win difference, but every single win in the National Football League is so valuable. So in the winner category Winston gets the edge. In the passer category Mariota has the advantage. You also should take in to account that Mariota has won the head to head match up when his Titans beat the Buccaneers 42-14. While it seems like all signs are pointing to Mariota being better, it’s to early to just give Mariota that nod. Especially if Jameis Winston can do something special with this Bucs team and turn it around. At the end of the day it really could come down to a team’s preference until several seasons are in the book and we have a clear cut more impressive career from one or the other.

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