Jimmy Garoppolo threw his first touchdown pass as a 49er last weekend, now he will start against the Chicago Bears:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Jimmy Garoppolo 49ers era officially started last week against the Seattle Seahawks. With time winding down in the 4th quarter Garoppolo threw for a touchdown strike to end the game and while the 49ers lost 24-13 it was still quite obvious that a new chapter has begun in San Francisco history. The fans recognized this and celebrated loudly because a strong quarterback is a sign of brighter days ahead. That’s great news considering the scarlet and gold are 3-24 over their past two seasons combined. Garoppolo certainly changes things though specifically in the precision he brings to the table. Even though C.J Beathard was decent in his stint as the team’s starter, things are on a much higher level with Jimmy G commanding the offense. Even the 4th year quarterback’s stats prove that with Garroppolo airing it out for 6 touchdowns and 0 interceptions over the course of his career. What those numbers essentially mean is the 26 year old QB has a knack for throwing touchdowns and not turning the ball over. All of that was achieved in a part-time gig and now we finally get to see what this guy can do as a full time starter? There isn’t that many weapons on the 49ers offense but having an elite signal caller will bring out the best in everyone else. San Francisco really should have a chance to beat the Chicago Bears Sunday because these two teams are similar talent wise. John Fox’s team has been a little better but expect San Francisco to be fired up knowing they have their franchise player behind center. Everything has started so smoothly for Garoppolo so far if he wins this weekend against the Bears they will already start looking at the former Patriot as this organization’s savior. Those are big shoes to fill but the kid from Illinois seems poised for the bright lights.

Charity of the day: Hope For The Warriors

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The New York Giants are scapegoating Eli Manning for all of their problems, it’s a reflection of how bad things have gotten in the Big Apple:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The New York Giants made a bold move by benching Eli Manning in favor of Geno Smith. While Manning is aging and getting to the point where he is starting to lose a step on the field, it’s hard to believe that Smith is a better QB than Manning. It’s pretty obvious that the Giants are placing blame on Eli Manning for the team’s shortcomings and that’s being really unfair to a player who has won this franchise two Super Bowls. Head Coach Ben McAdoo is basically looking past the fact that his defense is ranked number 31st in the league and placing the blame on a guy who has achieved so much more than he ever will. Not only did this move outrage fans around the league, former Giants players even spoke out about how poorly Manning is being treated. There’s isn’t another quarterback on the roster right now that can give New York a better chance to win and to think that Geno Smith is expected to do better is a stretch. Davis Webb might be able to take over this team someday but clearly the coaching staff doesn’t want to rush him too soon. Geno Smith did look better in the preseason than he has in previous years but Smith has a track record of throwing interceptions. If this team thought things were bad with Manning in the line up there’s a good chance all hell could break lose when Smith takes over the reins this weekend. What’s next for Eli Manning is unknown as well, the 36 year old could wind up playing for another team or retiring? It’s worth mentioning that the Giants former starting quarterback is under contract until 2019. However it feels like New York might move on from Manning in the off-season.

Charity of the day: Seva Foundation

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If you put together all of Marvin Jones’ games tapes you’ll realize he’s been a human highlight reel:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Marvin Jones has been absolutely sensational for the Detroit Lions this year recording 731 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns. Jones gets the job done with his quick release, outstanding speed, and big time catching ability. Although the last of those three traits might be the most impressive. Marvin Jones has made some big time grabs over multiple defenders like he did on Thanksgiving against the Vikings. If that’s not good enough for you go back to the Saints game when Jones one handed a touchdown catch which looked on par with Odell Beckham’s from a couple years back. It’s pretty obvious that Jones is an elite receiver at the professional level and what an acquisition he has been for the Lions since signing with the team in 2016. Usually Detroit struggles to land elite players via free agency because players opt to sign with a more favorable location. The Ford Family struck gold when they opened their checkbook for Marvin Jones though and you have to believe Matthew Stafford played a factor in that signing. Receivers know that Stafford can bring out the best in them and improve their worth with big stats. Jones clearly saw the potential in catching passes from Stafford which ended up being a calculated decision by the fifth year receiver out of Cal. Detroit is a great home for Marvin Jones and he is actually the leading receiver on this roster. Remember Golden Tate is also in the Motor City so it’s not like it’s cakewalk for Jones when it comes to being the best wide out for the Lions. One thing is for sure though and that’s Jim Caldwell’s team has weapons that can put points on the board quickly. If Jones can continue to compile touchdowns the Lions might even be able to sneak into the playoffs. That would be a great accomplishment for a city that has historically struggled at football.

Charity of the day: Population Connection

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Baltimore is a winning football team again after beating up on the Houston Texans 23-16:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Baltimore Ravens took on the Houston Texans this week for Monday Night Football and it was the Ravens who walked away victorious 23-16. Quarterback Joe Flacco struggled in this match up throwing for only 141 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. On most nights that’s not going to get it done but luckily the Ravens had a huge game defensively. C.J Mosely was at the forefront of that defensive attack recording 12 total tackles. Tony Jefferson chipped in 3 tackles and 1 interception in the win as well. Maybe the biggest factor in Baltimore’s win was their running game though. Alex Collins played good racking up 60 yards and 1 touchdown on the ground. Javorious Allen rushed for 15 yards and 1 touchdown for the Ravens offense too. It should be noted that Justin Tucker was in the zone when it came to his placekicking duties. Tucker booted 3 field goals and kicked 2 extra points. Tom Savage did all he could for Houston but it wasn’t a big enough performance to lead his team to victory. Savage threw for 252 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions really hurting his team with those turnovers. Lamar Miller ran hard tallying up 51 yards and 1 touchdown. DeAndre Hopkins was also explosive as ever catching 7 passes for 125 receiving yards. Jadeveon Clowney put up 2 tackles and 1 sack defensively for Houston. While Cornerback Kevin Johnson led the Texans in tackles with 7 for the night. This win was big for the Ravens because now they are 6-5 on the year and John Harbaugh’s team actually has a shot at going to the postseason. If the playoffs started today the Blackbirds would be in but make no mistake about this franchise has to win as many games as possible over the next 5 contests. They don’t have any room to stumble.

Charity of the day: Population Connection

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The NFC South has been the most competitive division in all of football. The Saints, Panthers, and Falcons are all fighting for a playoff spot:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The NFC East is always one of the strongest divisions in pro football but so far the NFC South has been the toughest this year. Not only are there two eight win teams in this division with the Saints and Panthers. There’s also the seven win Falcons who’ve been really coming alive offensively the last three weeks. Those three teams alone can hang with some of the best in the business and it sure makes for some interesting football with the season winding down. Right now the hottest team in the division is the Carolina Panthers. The Saints just lost this past weekend and had their 8 game win streak snapped. Meanwhile the Panthers beat the Jets and actually tied New Orleans record wise at 8-3. It’s clear that Drew Brees, Sean Peyton, and the Saints now have to look over their shoulder for the rest of the season. Regardless though it looks like the Saints, Panthers, and Falcons will all be in the playoffs which definitely says something about the brand of football they play down in the Southeast region of the United States. Every one of these franchises can get hot in the postseason and go on to win the Super Bowl and to some extent that’s a compliment to each other. The teams in the NFC South have brought out the best in each other and that has prepared these three organizations for these inferior teams they face from the other divisions. It’s possible that the Falcons stumble over the next five games and miss out on the playoffs. Seattle is sitting at 7-4 too so it’s possible the Seahawks could leapfrog Atlanta and get in. If the big dance started today though the NFC South would have three out of the six spots and you have to tip your hat to everyone running those ball clubs. It’s been a hell of a year for them.

Charity of the day: FINCA International

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Quarterback battle: Roethlisberger and Hundley were in top form as the Steelers beat out the Packers 31-28

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Everyone knows that Ben Roethlisberger is one of the more gifted quarterbacks in the National Football League but man did Brett Hundley challenge the veteran QB. Hundley played the best game of his pro career throwing for 245 yard, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Only to have his big day shown up by Roethlisberger who ended up tossing for 351 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. The Steelers were trailing most of this contest but ended up hitting a 53 yard field goal to win the game late in the 4th quarter. It took a lot of resiliency to battle back against the Packers who clearly came to play and that say’s a lot about Pittsburgh’s character. Antonio Brown in particular was amazing recording 169 yards and 2 touchdown grabs. Le’Veon Bell also produced a number of big plays he finished the night with 95 rushing yards and 88 receiving yards. The Packers top offensive player outside of Hundley was Jamaal Williams. Williams rushed for 66 yards and 1 rushing touchdown, while hauling in 69 yards and 1 receiving touchdown too. Davante Adams and Randall Cobb were both able to catch a touchdown apiece for Green Bay as well but the Packers would come up just shy on the scoreboard. On the defensive side of things Pittsburgh got a solid performance from Ryan Shazier who had a team high 8 tackles. Cameron Heyward did his part in the Steelers win too he had 6 tackles and 2 sacks. In the opposite jerseys, Blake Martinez continued to light it up. Martinez finished with 15 tackles and 1 interception for the Pack. Morgan Burnett was also really impressive for the green and gold team he had 9 tackles and a forced fumble. Pittsburgh might have just squeaked out a win but it will go a long way for this team’s confidence especially since they were able to overcome all of the adversity they faced early on. It’s another step in the right direction for Mike Tomlin’s team although it’s safe to say Pittsburgh would like to start a little stronger out of the gate in their next match up.

Charity of the day: EngenderHealth

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Buffalo gets their sixth win of the season after knocking off Kansas City 16-10:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Bills were skidding after losing three straight games but luckily for Buffalo they were able to get back on track against the Chiefs. It’s not easy to go on the road to Arrowhead Stadium and pull out a win but somehow Sean McDermott’s team was able to do so. It feels like the defense was the main reason why Buffalo edged out Kansas City simply due to the fact the Bills only surrendered 10 points the entire game. When an NFL team is held under 14 points that’s the sign of a strong defensive performance and that kind of output will elevate McDermott and company down the stretch. E.J Gaines was the Bills best defender he finished the match up with 8 tackles. Lorenzo Alexander recorded 2 tackles and 1 sack in the win as well. Tyrod Taylor didn’t play great for the Bills but he was leaps and bounds better than the 5 interceptions Nathan Peterman threw last week. Taylor ended up throwing for 183 yards, 1 touchdown, and 0 interceptions for the day. Zay Jones hauled in that lone touchdown pass from Taylor and also contributed 33 receiving yards. There wasn’t a lot of production from the Buffalo offense but give them credit for scoring enough points to secure the victory. Alex Smith struggled to find the end zone for Kansas City he threw for 199 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Albert Wilson caught the Chiefs only touchdown in what would go on to be a lackluster offensive outing for Andy Reid’s ball club. One bright spot for KC was Reggie Ragland’s stat line, the former Bill led the Chiefs with 9 tackles. Daniel Sorensen put together a 7 tackle and 1 sack day as well. In the end the Bills were able to compile more big plays on both sides of the ball and ultimately that was the deciding factor.

Charity of the day: EngenderHealth

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With the season winding down the Steelers find themselves in a familiar place as the main threat in the AFC to knock off the Patriots:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Last year the Pittsburgh Steelers couldn’t match up with the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship losing 36-17. However it feels like this Steelers team has a much better chance than last year’s team to knock off the defending champs. One major reason why is because the Steelers have more playmakers on the defensive side of the ball now. In 2016 Pittsburgh’s defense was ranked 12th in the league surrendering 342 yards per game. While this season the Steelers have improved to the 4th best defense in the league letting up just 287 yards per contest. That eight spot jump has really helped this team become a better squad than they were in 2016 which has to be a concern for Bill Belichick. Especially since the Patriots defense has tanked this season ranking dead last defensively allowing over 400 yards each week. It’s pretty clear that players like Ryan Shazier and Vince Williams have been instrumental for the 2017 version of the Steel Curtain. Shazier leads the team with 79 tackles, Williams is second best with 54 stops. Getting Cameron Heyward back has also been a huge boost for this group Heyward has been a pass rushing force compiling 7 sacks. Then you have the young guys this team has drafted the last couple of seasons to infuse some youthfulness into the situation. Players like TJ Watt, Sean Davis, and Artie Burns who are all a part of the core of this team at such a young age. It’s obvious Kevin Colbert has done his job as General Manger and that goes without mentioning that Pittsburgh is better on offense too with the addition of JuJu Smith-Schuster. This team is primed to conquer the AFC with the playoffs quickly approaching and New England is weaker than they were when they won the Super Bowl a year ago.

Charity of the day: National Federation of the Blind

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Next Gen Stats confirm that Leonard Fournette is in a league of his own, Fournette plays faster than any other player:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Everyone in the National Football League is obsessed with 40 yard dash times but sometimes that doesn’t reflect a player’s true speed on the field. One particular reason why is because each player is wearing around 20 pounds of padding (helmet, shoulder pads, leg pads). So on game day it’s all about who can carry those pads well and who can play the fastest on the field? According to Next Gen Stats no player in the NFL has been faster than Leondard Fournette. In fact Fournette owns the top two records for the season one where he ran for 22.05 miles per hour in week 5. The other was the following game (week 6) when Fournette hit 21.76 miles per hour. Obviously the Jaguars rookie running back has supreme confidence in the abilities he has developed over his lifetime. Another factor is Fournette’s strength which allows him to simply play fearless. You would think the wide receivers on the list (Tyreek Hill, Marquise Goodwin) would have beat out Leonard Fournette. Both Hill and Goodwin ran faster 40 times with Hill running a 4.24 and Marquise Goodwin running a 4.27 compared to Fournette’s 4.51. However it’s obvious that those 20 pounds of padding are much easier for Leonard Fournette to haul and that translates to a faster miles per hour speed. That’s such a huge weapon for the Jacksonville Jaguars and it’s been a big reason that team in Northeast Florida has been able to go from 3 wins in 2016 to 7 wins already this season. If Head Coach Doug Marrone knows what’s best for his team he will feed the former LSU Tiger early and often. Fournette blends well with the Jaguars outstanding defense and that should be the recipe for success over the next 6 games. Remember Leonard Fournette plays faster than anybody in the league next time you check out a Jacksonville Jaguars game.

Charity of the day: Mental Health America

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The Los Angeles Chargers are making a run for the AFC West division title, they’ll have to surpass the Kansas City Chiefs to get it done:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Los Angeles Chargers absolutely dismantled the Dallas Cowboys 28-6 on Thanksgiving and it looks like LA could be gearing up for an AFC West title run. The Chiefs currently lead the division but have been on a 2 game losing streak while the Chargers have been the exact opposite riding a 2 game winning streak. Kansas City recently signed Darrelle Revis to help solidify their defense but they don’t look like the team that started the year off with 5 straight wins. Andy Reid’s team might be losing their rhythm but that opens up the door for Philip Rivers and the Chargers. Not only is the Los Angeles’ offense ranked 10th in the league with 249 points on the year. Their defense is also ranked 3rd in the league in sacks and when you take those two stats into consideration you can begin to see why this team is having success. Rivers is a top 5 quarterback, Keenan Allen is really coming alive, then you have Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram racking up sacks. All of the pieces of the puzzle are there for this ball club and the future is certainly bright. From here on out it’s about being consistent if you’re the Chargers and finding a way to put together a string of wins. That starts with those 4 players mentioned above really playing at an optimal level and leading this team through the trials ahead. One other player who has to step up during that time is Melvin Gordon. Gordon has only went over the 100 yard rushing mark twice this season and if Los Angeles wants to hit that next gear they need this guy to play out of his mind. Other than that there’s only good things to be said about the Chargers right now and this team is definitely hungry to overthrow the Chiefs.

Charity of the day: Oxfam-America

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