The Ravens, Chargers, Cowboys, and Lions are the best teams that didn’t make the playoffs. Out of those four Dallas has the best chance of bouncing back in 2018:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Now that the postseason is slated to begin this weekend it’s time to reflect on all the teams that already finished their year. Out of all of those teams it has become overwhelmingly clear that the Ravens, Chargers, Cowboys, and Lions have the most talented rosters. While each of these franchises have a chance to bounce back with a good off-season, it feels like the Cowboys are in the best position to succeed especially with Ezekiel Elliott back on the field ready to make an impact. Dallas was a nine win team with Zeke out of the line up for six games and that tells you just how much talent there is in the Big D. Jerry Jones made a smart move by retaining Jason Garrett because that will allow this organization to maintain some stability. All of these factors make the Cowboys a force to be reckoned with in 2018. If Dallas can also land a couple of free agents and draft effectively in the spring this team will be primed for the big time. With that being said Garrett’s team did struggle a little throwing the football and that’s largely because the Cowboys’ group of receivers is aging. Dez Bryant is slowing down a little bit at twenty nine years old and Jason Witten could retire at any time now? The point is the Cowboys have to find a couple of pass catchers to improve their playmaking ability down the field. The final piece of the puzzle will be upgrading the defense. Dallas ranked eighth in the league in yards surrendered per game, if Jerry Jones can get this defense in the top three that would be huge for next year. Defense wins championships and the addition of a first round pick at receiver might be enough to put the Cowboys over the hump. Even if Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott can’t bring home a Vince Lombardi Trophy to Texas next season, these moves should at least get the Cowboys back to the playoffs.

Charity of the day: American Lung Association

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Jon Gruden will be the next coach of the Raiders, he’ll receive a 10 year 100 million dollar contract to lead Oakland back to the promise land:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Jon Gruden is returning to coaching after a decade away from the game. The Oakland Raiders compelled Gruden to leave the press box for the sidelines with a 10 year 100 million dollar contract. Initially Gruden stated that Tampa Bay would be the ideal spot for his coaching return but it seems like the Raiders won over the former Super Bowl winning coach with their superior roster. Even thought Raiders only won one more game than the Buccaneers record wise, the chance to work with Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, and Michael Crabtree was too much to pass up on. Not only that but Oakland sweetened the pot with a huge 10 year contract which obviously comes with a massive payday. There were also rumors that Gruden would receive a partial stake in the ownership of the Raiders, so Mark Davis was certainly willing to pay to land one of the top coaches around. Despite that massive cost this seems like a good deal for Oakland because now they will have better leadership. Jon Gruden has very unique prestige when it comes to the sport of football and the guys in this locker room are going to buy into that. Davis also knew he had to do something in order to generate fan interest before the team relocates to Las Vegas. Landing Gruden will help generate a buzz around this franchise and it should also translate to a few more wins on the field as well. The AFC west is going to be extremely competitive in the future because you have the Chargers, Broncos, and Raiders all trying to make a push in the division. The Chiefs better look out because their grasp on the AFC West will be weakened significantly now that Gruden is calling the shots for the silver and black.

Charity of the day: American Lung Association

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There are reports coming out of New England that Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and Robert Kraft are in a power struggle. This is a terrible distraction for the Patriots heading into the playoffs:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Have you ever stopped and wondered why so many great bands break up? Really it seems like there is three reasons why that ends up happening. Either the power struggle becomes too much or the attention becomes too unbalanced. There’s also the possibility that the situation just becomes stale and people are ready to move on. We’ve seen it happen so many times before and now it seems like the New England Patriots could be the latest trio to go their own way. Apparently Tom Brady went behind Bill Belichick’s back and asked Robert Kraft to force a trade with Jimmy Garoppolo. With Brady’s career winding down it’s possible he was threatened by an ascending Garroppolo and a trade ensured Brady will be the starting QB for the foreseeable future. Remember Brady won his job from an over the hill Drew Bledsoe early on in his career. By getting rid of his competition Brady strengthened his claim as the face of the New England franchise and apparently that isn’t sitting too well with Bill Belichick. Early indications out of the Boston area are that Belichick is the most likely of the three to move on and that’s huge news considering everything the Patriots head coach has accomplished during his time with the team. It’s hard to imagine New England without Belichick but things have to end sooner or later. The biggest concern about all of this is the fact that it’s coming out right before the postseason. That doesn’t bode well for the Patriots future and if they don’t win the Super Bowl expect to see some fireworks fly when it comes to the Belichick / Brady conflict. You’d hate to see a relationship that’s been great for so many years spoil but maybe Belichick and Brady are just sick of each other after all their years together?

Charity of the day: Hearing Health Foundation

Go donate! hearinghealthfoundation.org

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Adam Gase continues to blame everyone else for the Dolphins problems. For as good as he is at calling plays, he is equally as bad at managing talent:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Halfway through the regular season Adam Gase seemed to throw former Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi under the bus by trading him away to the Philadelphia Eagles. Today Gase made another poor management decision by somewhat blaming Jay Cutler for the Dolphins’ 2017 dreadful season. While Gase didn’t publicly speak poorly about Cutler, Miami’s head coach instead announced Ryan Tannehill is the team’s starter. Most coaches would allow both QBs to compete for the job but it’s clear how Gase really feels about Cutler from this approach. The only way Cutler would comeback to Southern Florida is if he is the main guy and Gase essentially pushed Cutler out by already naming Tannehill his starting quarterback. It’s becoming overwhelmingly obvious that as good as Gase is at the xs and os side of football, he is equally as bad at managing talent. That can spell disaster in the league because you have to be able to connect with your players. All the second year coach has done is scapegoat the people in his locker room every time things got rough. Now to be fair it’s easier to talk about character when you’re watching everything unfold oppose to actually living it. However Adam Gase has to humble himself a little bit and learn how to take the fall for his team. Good leaders sacrifice themselves for the better of the organization and there might have been some upsides of going with Jay Cutler. The first thing is Cutler is almost $8 million dollars cheaper than Tannehill so that extra money could have went towards improving the other positions on this roster. Not only that but Tannehill missed all of this season and that’s going leave some rust on his game. Cutler would have benefited from taking all of those snaps this past year and therefore the Dolphins should have went with 34 year old veteran moving forward.

Charity of the day: Center for Constitutional Rights

Go donate! www.ccrjustice.org

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The Seattle Seahawks’ season just ended three days ago but Pete Carroll already sees big changes on the horizon:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Seattle Seahawks missed out on the playoffs and that has caused Head Coach Pete Carroll to reevaluate his entire roster. Carroll specifically stated that his team’s lack of a running game was to blame for the collapse and that doesn’t bode well for the running back’s on the roster. Seattle signed Eddie Lacy this past off-season in hopes of solidifying a rushing attack but that signing never panned out. Seattle was so bad on the ground that Russell Wilson ended up having the most rushing yards (586) and rushing touchdowns (3). Not one other player on this roster rushed for more than 300 yards and only one player besides Wilson scored a running touchdown (J.D McKissic). You can’t win in the National Football League with those kind of stats and Carroll has to go all in on a running back in order to improve his team. There’s also some big changes coming to the Seahawks defense specifically when it comes to Cliff Avril and Kam Chancellor. Both Avril and Chancellor suffered career threatening neck injuries and right now it looks like those two players will retire. Clearly that will be a huge hit for this defensive group especially losing Chancellor. Not only was the veteran safety the field general on the back end of this defense, he is also unbelievably clutch. Seattle will miss all those pick sixes and there isn’t another player who can fill Chancellor’s shoes. When you also factor in that Earl Thomas seems to be growing frustrated with life in Washington you can see how this team could be in trouble? Another thing Pete Carroll has to deal with is all the distractions surrounding his ball club. Michael Bennett and Richard Sherman are great players but sometimes they need to be focused on football instead of all the stuff that’s going on off the field. By reeling those guys in or parting ways with them Carroll can help improve his culture a little bit. These are moves that need to be made in order to turn things around out West. Expect the Seahawks to shake some things up this off-season and that could mean some key players departing from Seattle.

Charity of the day: Medical Teams International

Go donate! www.medicalteams.org

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If Cam Newton saves his best football for the postseason, Carolina could make a serious run at a Vince Lombardi Trophy:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Carolina Panthers lost a little momentum when they were defeated by the Atlanta Falcons last week but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. The Panthers are still a very dangerous football team especially with Cam Newton at the helm. The 28 year old quarterback has game changing capabilities and if Newton saved his best football for the postseason, Carolina could wind up being a force in the NFC. The team to beat in this conference is clearly the Vikings but the Panthers have already beat Minnesota once this season. Obviously the Panthers have to be thinking about the Saints before then and that’s going to be gauntlet in itself. New Orleans is one of the most dynamic teams in the league and they have two elite running backs. Luke Kuechly and Julius Peppers will do their best to shut them down but you have to expect the Saints offense will put at least 20 points. Therefore it’s going to be up to Cam Newton to start this game off hot and play up to his standards. Really that means Newton has to get Devin Funchess and Christian McCaffrey going immediately. The Panthers can’t wait around to the 2nd or 3rd quarter to pick it up. It’s very unlikely you can come from behind and beat the Saints because they are just so explosive offensively. Instead Ron Rivera’s team has to take it to New Orleans and force them to play catch up. By keeping Drew Brees and the Saints on their heels maybe Carolina can cause the veteran quarterback to make a few ill-advised throws. There’s no pressure in the NFL like trying to mount a comeback especially with the season on the line. If Newton comes out in a rhythm this is a situation Brees could find himself in and what a sweet upset it would if the Panthers knocked off their division rival? It all starts with Newton executing for all four quarters.

Charity of the day: Medical Teams International

Go donate! www.medicalteams.org

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The Buffalo Bills are going back to the playoffs after a 17 year drought, Sean McDermott has overachieved all season:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Just when you thought you’ve seen it all the Buffalo Bills step up and end their 17 year playoff drought. The biggest strength of the Bills all season long has been their running game which ranks 6th in the league. LeSean McCoy is at the forefront of Buffalo’s rushing success that’s why it’s so concerning that McCoy is banged up heading into this weekend. The Bills play the Jaguars in the wildcard round and Jacksonville presents a tough challenge defensively. McCoy would have a tough time against this defense when he is healthy therefore it’s going to be really tough to have success with a bum ankle. The other key for this team will obviously be the defense. Sean McDermott made a name for himself as a defensive coordinator in this league before landing the head coaching job in Western New York. McDermott has his hands all over the Bills scheme and system which has been a huge part in this team’s turnaround. If Micah Hyde and the rest of this defense can rattle Blake Bortles that will go a long way in helping Buffalo upset Jacksonville. The other huge factor will be how well Tyrod Taylor ends up playing? Taylor has been underappreciated all season by McDermott but he has a chance to step up and prove his worth in the postseason. Could you imagine how big it would be for this franchise’s confidence if they can put together a deep playoff run? That would set a great precedent for the future and suddenly the other players around the league would believe they can win if they sign with the Bills. It’s been a long time since that’s been the case so give everyone in this organization credit for overcoming all the odds. It’s not an easy task to put a 17 year playoff drought to an end but this team got the job done.

Charity of the day: Grameen Foundation USA

Go donate! www.grameenfoundation.org

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The Green Bay Packers fire Dom Capers and reassign Ted Thompson, big changes are coming in Wisconsin:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Green Bay Packers are known for their prestige and that’s why this franchise isn’t taking it lightly when it comes to missing the playoffs. The Packers decided it was time to part ways with Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers and that was largely because this defensive unit was ranked 22nd in the league. Now to be fair Ted Thompson made a huge mistake when he let Julius Peppers walk in free agency last off-season but there were also some concerns with Capers’ performance throughout the past couple of years. Ultimately another season of underachieving led the Packers’ higher ups to part ways with Capers which will drastically change things for Green Bay. It’s unknown whether or not Mike McCarthy is going to change schemes defensively but you have to think he’d be willing to do so if the next defensive coordinator preferred a different system. A move like that will completely alter the identity of McCarthy’s team but as long as their improving it’s the right choice. Ted Thompson is also transitioning to another role within the organization which hasn’t been announced yet. Thompson has really came under fire lately for not pulling the trigger when it comes to signing free agents. Thompson was a very conservative general manager and preferred to build his team through the draft. The problem with that strategy was the fact that Aaron Rodgers was wasting away with an under-talented team around him. You have to be willing to push all of your chips in the middle of the table sometimes and that means taking risks. Ted Thompson kept this team competitive for a very long time but it was clear it was time to move forward. The next general manager will have put the right roster together and give the Packers a chance to win some Super Bowls while Rodgers is still at the helm. The only way to do that is by getting back to the playoffs.

Charity of the day: Grameen Foundation USA

Go donate! www.grameenfoundation.org

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Coaches are getting fired left and right it just goes to show how competitive the National Football League truly is:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Every off-season several NFL coaches get the pink slip and this year has been no different. The Raiders, Lions, Bears, and Colts have all fired their head coach in hopes of finding a guy that is a better fit for their program. In order to get a better look into each scenario we’ve broken down all four cases and what each team’s future looks like.

The Raiders- The Oakland Raiders didn’t hesitate when it came to firing Jack Del Rio and the plan is to hire Jon Gruden shortly. It seems like this move was a little soon considering Gruden isn’t officially in the mix yet but it’s very possible Gruden and Oakland have a verbal agreement in place. Derek Carr, Michael Crabtree, and Amari Cooper will be the prefect weapons for Gruden to execute his x and os. It will be interesting to see how Gruden’s fiery personality blends with Marshawn Lynch’s laid back approach? The situation could be combustible if not carefully tended to.

The Bears- John Fox has been doing everything he can to turn around the Chicago Bears but apparently those efforts weren’t enough. Fox is known as a very conservative coach and maybe the Bears want someone who can open things up for Mitchell Trubisky? This move was somewhat surprising because it felt like things were heading in the right direction. Now Chicago will have to find a teacher that can prep Trubisky for the big time, so expect an offensive minded coach to replace Fox.

The Colts- Chuck Pagano was on the hot seat last off-season and the Colts coach didn’t do enough to overcome the odds. Indianapolis will have a high draft pick and a big dig decision to make with Andrew Luck. Jim Irsay decided that someone else beside Pagano would be better suited to make those decisions and this is critical moment for this franchise. If Indianapolis makes the right moves they will start to climb the NFL ranks, it not they will continue to be a bottom of the barrel team which doesn’t bode well for this franchise.

The Lions- The last coaching change which was somewhat of a surprise is the Detroit Lions firing Jim Caldwell. Caldwell had the best record out of any Lions coach and you would figure that would secure his spot with the team. However Bob Quinn wanted to bring in his ideal coach into the fold and that appears to be Matt Patricia who is currently the New England Patriots defensive coordinator.

Charity of the day: International Peace Institute

Go donate! www.ipinst.org

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NFL Wild Card: Step Your Game Up Show (playoff edition)

NFL Wild Card weekend started off with two upsets. First the Tennessee Titans beat the Kansas City Chiefs and then the Atlanta Falcons beat the Los Angeles Rams. Host Jon Kuzma discusses all the action in this special playoff edition of Step Your Game Up. A few of the topics covered include the Titans 18 point comeback and the Falcons strong defensive performance . We also discussed Derrick Henry’s big offensive performance and the fact that the Rams high scoring offense was held to just 13 points. It was a great opening day of postseason action and remember Endzoneblog brought you the scoop first. Thanks for tuning in each week and enjoy the video above!

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