The Miami Dolphins hold off the Atlanta Falcons to win 20-17, Ajayi racks up 130 rushing yards:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Miami Dolphins have been struggling offensively this year but they still put up enough points to beat the Atlanta Falcons in a closely contested match up. Jay Cutler was slow out of the gate but started to make some big plays as the game went on. Cutler finished with 151 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception in a must have game for Miami. The Dolphins couldn’t afford to fall to 2-3 on the season and now both Atlanta and Miami are sitting with a 3-2 record. Jay Ajayi was also extremely effective on the ground for Adam Gase’s offense. Ajayi continues to prove he is a workhorse for this offense totaling up 130 yards for the day. Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills showed they have enough playmaking ability to create some opportunities for Cutler. Both Landry and Stills caught a touchdown pass and the Dolphins need to build on this positive momentum. Miami has been the worst scoring offense up to this point of the season but things should begin to turn around as Jay Cutler finds his rhythm for this team. Atlanta was uncharacteristically out of sync offensively against the tough Dolphins defense. Matt Ryan threw for 248 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Usually Ryan is good for multiple touchdown passes but there wasn’t much happening in the passing game. Tevin Coleman did contribute 32 rushing yards and 1 touchdown on the ground for Atlanta. While Marvin Haul added 40 yards and 1 touchdown through the air. Defensively Lawrence Timmons really stepped up for the Dolphins defense. Timmons went AWOL a couple of weeks ago but he showed he still has a lot to offer Miami with a team high 8 tackles. Reshad Jones was his usual self tallying up 7 tackles and the interception that sealed the game. Deion Jones was Atlanta’s best defender he had 11 tackles and 1 interception. Keanu Neal was pretty solid on the back end of the Falcons defense too, he went for 8 tackles in this one. Ultimately you have to give credit to the Miami Dolphins for going on the road into a hostile environment and pulling out a big win. Miami has a chance to turn the page on all of their early season struggles, this win will be huge for their confidence.

Charity of the day: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Go donate! www.lls.org

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Keenan Allen is back on track after playing in only nine games the past two seasons, Allen is a Top 5 receiver in the league right now:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Los Angeles Chargers Wide Receiver Keenan Allen has battled a number of injuries the past two seasons and as a result of that Allen only played in 9 games from 2015 to 2016. However with Allen suiting up for every game this year the Chargers pass catcher has reestablished himself as one of the premier receivers in the league. Allen is currently fifth in the NFL with 401 receiving yards but that’s a huge accomplishment with everything the 25 year old wide out has had to endure over the last couple of years. The Chargers missed this guy so much in the passing game because Allen is their big play guy. If you plug in the tape and watch film on the 5th year pro you immediately notice that Keenan Allen has a good burst. That’s despite the fact that Allen only runs a 4.71 40 yard dash but make no mistake about it when the pads come on number 13 for Los Angeles plays fast and fearless. Philip Rivers also has a lot of trust in Allen so that cohesion leads Rivers to target Allen as his first option most of the time. Defenses around the National Football League know this but they still have trouble stopping Keenan Allen. Which makes it pretty obvious that Allen is a special talent when completely healthy. Maybe the thing that is most admirable is the fact that Allen is a fiery competitor. The Chargers are struggling with a 1-4 record so they need players like the former Cal receiver (Allen) to uplift this team’s morale. The other players in the locker room know they can look to Keenan Allen for leadership and that says a lot about how much value this guy is to the Bolts franchise. Expect to see plenty of plays being made in the passing game regardless if Los Angeles is winning games or not. Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen are going to give everything they have week in and week out.

Charity of the day: Prevent Blindness

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Case Keenum has done an excellent job of filling in during Sam Bradford’s absence, the Vikings are 3-2 without their starting QB:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Minnesota Vikings have been no stranger to quarterback trouble the last couple of years. Not only did Teddy Bridgewater dislocate his knee and tear his ACL in 2016, the Vikings current starting quarterback Sam Bradford is also suffering from what Minnesota’s medical staff have diagnosed as “knee wear and tear.” Ultimately that should have sank the Vikings chances of a winning season but back up QB Case Keenum has kept Mike Zimmer’s team afloat with Bradford out of the line up. Keenum actually started 10 games last year for the Rams while Jared Goff learned the ropes. That stint in Los Angeles really prepared Keenum for his time now as the Vikings signal caller. It just goes to show that development can unleash a player’s amazing abilities on the football field and if you’ve followed Keenum’s collegiate career you know this guy was a special talent from day 1. As a member of the University of Houston’s football team Keenum threw for 155 touchdowns and for a passer rating of 160.6. Those numbers are through the roof and everything that made this guy elite for the Cougars is now translating over to the pro level. In fact Keenum has started in 27 games out of the 30 NFL games he has suited up for. It’s obvious Case Keenum has a knack for playing the quarterback position and that’s been huge for the Vikings offense this season. Keenum has 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions stats wise in 2017. The thing that stands out there is the fact that the 29 year old quarterback hasn’t turned over the football. When you’re facing the best defenders on earth week in and week out it’s so easy to throw an interception here and there. Case Keenum has avoided those letdowns and now the Vikings are still competing for the NFC North title. That’s much better than say the Chicago Bears who are 1-4 and fading fast. So Keenum deserves a ton of credit for his ability to come in and get the job done, this guy is definitely going to be a full time starter in this league for some team if the Vikings don’t keep him around for the long term.

Charity of the day: National Hemophilia Foundation

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SPRI.com

Are J.J Watt and Rob Gronkowski’s best days in the rear view mirror? It’s so tough to maintain success in the NFL when you’re constantly battling injuries:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Last game J.J Watt suffered a season ending knee injury which will require a plate and screw to stabilize his leg. That setback will sideline Watt as a injured reserve for his second consecutive season and one has to wonder if the Houston Texans defensive lineman will ever get back to his Defensive Player of the Year caliber of play? Watt has been banged up with countless injuries over his career including a herniated disk, torn core muscles, a broke hand, an injured back, and now the tibial plateau fracture. Those health concerns are certainly going to affect Watt later on in life and you have to wonder if the once most feared defender in the league is contemplating retirement? It’s been a rough stretch for J.J Watt the last couple of years and the emotional toll has to be taxing. No one knows what the future holds for this guy but it feels like he will at least try to battle back and give it on more go. If things play out like they have the past two seasons though that could be all from a player who was easily one of the biggest stars the sport has ever seen. Rob Gronkowski is another guy who has seen his fair share of injuries as an NFL player. While Gronkowski is expected to suit up against the Jets the Patriots tight end has already battled back from ankle surgery, back surgery, and a torn ACL / MCL. Not to mention all the minor injuries Gronkowski has had to persevere during his playing days. So it’s clear both Watt and Gronkowski have endured quite a bit and when you’re such a big guy like both players are you’re also a big target. Just about every football fan out there will be rooting for Watt and Gronkowski but they play a tough game and at some point every player’s career winds down. Watch and see if Gronkowski can get back on track stats wise but we know J.J Watt will indeed be done for the year.

Charity of the day: Veterans Assistance Foundation

Go donate! www.vafvets.org

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Carson Wentz out shines Cam Newton in the Eagles 28-23 Thursday Night Football win, Ertz catches 2 TDs:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Philadelphia Eagles took on the Carolina Panthers in a Thursday Night Football match up and in the end it was the Eagles who prevailed 28-23. Carson Wentz was pretty special in this contest recording 222 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions on the night. That was a much better performance than Cam Newton who tossed 3 interceptions with only 1 touchdown. Newton did end up throwing for 239 passing yards but it wasn’t enough to lead Carolina to a victory and now it appears Philadelphia is the team to beat in the NFC. Zach Ertz was a big reason the Eagles offense were able to outscore the Panthers, Ertzs finished the game with 2 touchdown catches. While Nelson Agholor provided a spark for Philly with 55 yards and 1 touchdown reception. Christian McCaffrey was Carolina’s top offensive performer outside of Cam Newton. McCaffrey recorded 56 receiving yards and hauled in a touchdown pass. Kelvin Benjamin played well too, he caught 9 receptions for 99 yards. Mychal Kendricks was outstanding for Jim Schwartz defense. He led the Eagles defense with 15 tackles which is a great day at the office. Nigel Bradham was also a big contributor for Philadelphia he put together a 10 tackle effort. Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, and Patrick Robinson all grabbed an interception off Newton as well, which helped Doug Pederson’s team win the turnover battle. James Bradberry led the Panthers defense with 6 tackles and 1 sack. Thomas Davis put up the same exact stat line as Bradberry also tallying up 6 tackles and 1 sack. Julius Peppers continued his successful reunion in Carolina with 1 tackle, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble but Philadelphia wouldn’t be denied once the final whistle was blown. The two key factors for the Eagles were clearly Carson Wentz and the defense. Together that combination has propelled this team to 5-1 record for the 2017 season. This team could be a Super Bowl contender when the playoffs get here, ultimately because they are a complete football team in every phase of the game.

Charity of the day: Government Accountability Project

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Bruno Mars

Juju Smith-Schuster has been providing a big impact in his first season of professional football, the Steelers have to be excited:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Pittsburgh Steelers might have some concerns with Ben Roethlisberger losing a step but rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster has definitely been a blessing for this team. Smith-Schuster has recorded 160 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns this season so far and that’s been a huge impact opposite of Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. The Steelers offense was already loaded with weapons and now that Smith-Schuster is emerging this group has a chance to be extremely potent. When you plug in the film and watch the 20 year old wide receiver play the first thing that becomes evident is that Smith-Schuster plays with no fear. Whether you ask him to run a post or a slant route Smith-Schuster will sell out everything he has to make the catch. Most wide receivers are hesitant about going over the middle but that doesn’t seem be the case with this kid. As the season progresses on Smith-Schuster will become even more confident in his abilities. So look out for this first year player as the second half of the season rolls around. Experience is so key in the National Football League because as you get familiar with the speed of the game and the competition you become more aware of what it takes to be successful. With Juju Smith-Schuster’s immediate impact that’s a good indication that he has a bright future in this league. Keep an eye on how many touchdowns Smith-Schuster hauls in at the end of the season. If this guy can get anywhere north of 5 touchdowns that will set the bar high for his second and third years in the league. As a wide receiver development is all about proving to yourself that you can make plays against the best defenders in the world. Luckily for Juju Smith-Schuster he has proved that isn’t an issue.

Charity of the day: Government Accountability Project

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Bruno Mars

 

After avoiding a six game suspension Ezekiel Elliott has been putting together a pretty solid season this year:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Ever since August there’s been questions whether or not Ezekiel Elliott was going to be suspended for a domestic violence case that happened before he was even a pro player? After avoiding that suspension up to this point Elliott has put together a pretty productive year rushing for 393 yards over the first five games. Ezekiel Elliott is currently 4th in the league in rushing yards only trailing Kareem Hunt, Leonard Fournette, and Todd Gurley. It’s safe to say the Cowboys have been lucky to have Elliott this far and it will be interesting to see if the court eventually come down on the Dallas running back? As long as that doesn’t happen expect to see the second year ball carrier running downhill with a head full of steam. Elliott gives maximum effort on every single hand off and he always seems to make at least one defender miss. With the Cowboys sitting with a 2-3 record on the year they will need Elliott to be at his best down the stretch in order to take some weight off Dak Prescott’s shoulders. This Dallas team is going to have to grit their way back to the postseason down the stretch. Which is in completely contrast to the 13-3 record the Cowboys posted in 2016. So the odds are stacked against this franchise at the moment but there is still plenty of time left to turn things around. Dallas will have a bye this week, so it will be nice for this team to get a little rest this weekend. Then Jason Garrett’s ball club has to put together a special run over the course of the next 11 games. One of the best ways they can put themselves in a position to succeed is to feed Ezekiel Elliott early and often. By making the running game the first option for this offense the Cowboys should be able to wear down opposing defenses. That’s the formula for success moving forward.

Charity of the day: Center for Constitutional Rights

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Don’t look now but the Cincinnati Bengals are on a two game winning streak, they are now 2-3 on the year:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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After starting the season with three straight losses it appears the Cincinnati Bengals are finally getting things back on track. The Bengals have won two consecutive games against the Browns and Bills which has put Marvin Lewis’ team in a position to turn things around. The most significant reason why Cincinnati has been able to win those game is because of their defense. The Bengals have the 2nd ranked defense in the league surrendering just 262 yards per game. Not only that but the secondary has been quite remarkable as well they are also ranked second in the league allowing just 159 yards per contest. With the NFL being a pass now league it’s vital that teams are able to shut down the aerial attack. Dre Kirkpatrick, Adam Jones, and the rest of the Bengals defensive backs have rose to the occasion all season long which has made this team competitive again. There’s still enough time for Cincinnati to get back to the postseason, they will just have to follow the formula they’ve used in their past two wins. Really that strategy breaks down into three different goals. First the Bengals have to stop opposing ball carriers to the best of their abilities. Next the defensive line has to do everything they can to put pressure on the other team’s quarterback. Finally the secondary has to do what they’ve done all year which is break up passing plays. The defense is the heart and soul of this team right now which is a good sign as the season progresses forward. Now it will be up to the offense to come alive and put some points on the board. The good news is A.J Green is really starting to get it going, so things collectively are starting to look better in Southern Ohio. If the Ravens and Steelers aren’t careful Cincinnati could definitely put some pressure on them in the hunt for the AFC North title.

Charity of the day: Humane Farming Association

Go donate! www.hfa.org
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Adrian Peterson is traded to the Cardinals in exchange for a 6th round draft pick, the 32 year old running back struggled to get it going the last two years:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The New Orleans Saints finally admitted that Adrian Peterson isn’t going to work out for their team and the Saints traded the veteran running back to the Arizona Cardinals for a 6th round draft pick. It’s kind of hard to get excited for this trade because Peterson has finished with less than 100 yards for three out of the last four seasons. That was 48 games Peterson had to put something together and he totaled just 228 yards in all those contests. Now to be fair in 2015 Peterson did have a big season rushing for 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns. If the Cardinals can get even a glimpse of that kind of production from Peterson they will be happy, don’t hold your breath though. While being in a lead back role will certainly help Peterson be better than he was in New Orleans there is a reason the former Viking and Saint has been beat out by younger players recently. It’s because Adrian Peterson is losing a step due to his age and it will be truly amazing if 11th year pro can recapture his top form. When a running back gets in the twilight of his career the fast twitch muscles in their body begin to fire much more slowly. Ultimately that’s a big reason why Peterson has averaged under 4 yards per carry this season. So it’s definitely going to be interesting to see if the Cardinals can put Peterson in a position to succeed? There’s also the hurdle of learning the new playbook which Peterson will have to do in Arizona. That means the odds are clearly stacked against Peterson and if things don’t work out with the Cardinals it’s safe to say the future Hall of Fame ball carrier will most likely retire at the end of the year. This is really Peterson’s last chance to prove his worth to the league so he certainly has to make the most of it if he was wants to continue playing.

Charity of the day: Humane Farming Association

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Bruno Mars

Vikings defense overwhelms the Bears for a 20-17 victory, Keenum outplays Trubisky:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Minnesota Vikings have a 3-2 record on the year after defeating the Chicago Bears 20-17 in a Monday Night Football match up. Sam Bradford started the game at quarterback for the Vikings but it was eventually clear that Bradford isn’t healthy. That led Mike Zimmer to replace Bradford with Case Keenum and that ended up being the right move because Keenum outplayed Mitchell Trubisky in the rookie’s first ever start. The Vikings back up quarterback (Keenum) ended up throwing for 140 yards, 1 touchdown, and 0 interceptions. Which was in contrast to Trubisky’s 128 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. The main difference between both quarterbacks was the fact that Keenum didn’t turn the ball over and Trubisky did. Anyone who has ever played football knows just how detrimental turnovers are to your team and experience is what Trubisky will have to develop as time goes on. Jerick McKinnon had a big night for the Vikings offense as well, he recorded 95 yards and 1 touchdown. While Kyle Rudolph caught Minnesota’s lone touchdown pass from Keenum. Jordan Howard had the biggest impact out of any of Chicago’s offensive players, he rushed for 76 yards against a tough Mike Zimmer defense. Zach Miller also caught Mitchell Trubisky’s first ever regular season touchdown on a 20 yard pass. The Bears got away with a little trickery when Punter Pat O’Donnell faked a punt and threw a touchdown to Benny Cunningham. There’s no doubt that was big play for Chicago but it wasn’t enough to get Trubisky a win in his debut. On the defensive side of things Harrison Smith did a great job recording 3 tackles and nabbing an interception to seal the game. Everson Griffin did his part for the Vikings too, he added 2 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble. Chicago’s defense was led by Leonard Floyd who contributed 6 tackles and 2 sacks. Akiem Hicks also played well putting up 4 tackles and 2 sacks. In the end the Vikings were clearly the better team in this game and it was largely due to the fact that Minnesota eliminated any offensive threat the Bears unveiled. The Vikings now are tied with Detroit in the NFC North with a 3-2 record for the year. The Packers currently lead the division at 4-1.

Charity of the day: Doctors Without Borders USA

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