Vikings and Raiders a tale of two up and coming teams:

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Photo credit: Joe Bielawa

Author: Jon Kuzma

When the Vikings and Raiders face off this Sunday it will be a match that pits two up and coming teams against each other. The Minnesota Vikings have been having a tremendous season. They are 6-2 on the year and have a solid core of young talent that should keep this team relevant for a long time. Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson lead the way offensively for the Vikings. They even have managed to get quite a bit of production out of rookie Stefon Diggs. Will the trio be enough to get past the Oakland Raiders who are led by David Carr and Amari Cooper? It should, the Vikings are sitting in first place in the NFC North for a reason. They have the best running back in football and are ranked 7th defensively in yards surrendered per game. The improvements across the board for the Vikings make this team a serious contender. When a team is able to run the ball effectively and play solid defense that will always be a winning formula when it comes to football. Mike Zimmer deserves a lot of praise for his efforts he has contributed to the Minnesota Vikings and give the front office praise for putting a more talented product on the field collectively. On the opposite side of the field there is more optimism than there has been in a long time. Jack Del Rio leads a new era for the Oakland Raiders one that sees them more competitive than they’ve been in a long time. Much of that success is due to David Carr and the talent they’ve added around him. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are very talented weapons and together this Raiders team is a much greater threat than they’ve been in the past. When these two teams meet up Sunday it will be a treat for football fans. If you’re a gambling man it would seem wise to bet on the Vikings.

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Charity of the day: American Bird Conservancy

Go donate! www.abcbirds.org

Bills and Jets match up could be determining factor for second AFC East playoff team:

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Photo credit: Marianne O’Leary

Author: Jon Kuzma

When the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets meet this Thursday a lot is at stake, particularly in the AFC East. With the Patriots being the clear cut division leaders, both the Bills and Jets are fighting for a wild card spot the second half of the season. Winning this game would go a long way in terms of momentum for the future. The Jets enter game with the advantage, they are 5-3 and played the Patriots awfully tough in their last match up. While the Bills are 4-4 and are slowly bouncing back from a handful of different injuries. One that notably put starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor out for a couple games. With Taylor back and a heavy dose of rushing attack from Lesean McCoy and Karlos Williams. The Bills are finally looking like a solid football team again. Will it be enough to get past the Todd Bowles New York Jets? Only time will tell. While the Jets have played better football over the course of the season so far. They still have had their let downs. The Jets could of beat the Raiders a couple weeks ago in Oakland. Only to allow Derek Carr and company to pull away with the win. If they want to be the team they truly could be then they are going to have to beat the teams they should beat. Another great example of a team the Jets should beat is the Buffalo Bills. The Jets have a better record so far and have been the better team. Yet none of that means a thing when these two teams meet up. It will take an outstanding performance from either team to walk away the winner. One thing that could be a factor is quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s nagging hand injury. If Fitzpatrick can’t go that makes the Bills a heavy favorite. Geno Smith can’t lead the Jets to a victory over the talented Bills. Something to look out for in tonights action.

Charity of the day: American Bird Conservancy

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Colts lose Luck 2-6 weeks due to a lacerated kidney:

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Photo credit: NFL News

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Indianapolis Colts will be without their star quarterback Andrew Luck for the next 2-6 weeks due to a lacerated kidney. The play happened when Luck took a shot to the midsection late in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos last Sunday. Keenan Allen of the San Diego Chargers recently suffered the same injury and was put on injured reserve. The Colts are fortunate that Luck won’t have to go on injured reserve but with it already being week 10, the hopes of him returning and saving the season are slim. In a strange twist Matt Hasselbeck who will get the starting nod has actually been better this year for the Colts. Luck has had a rough year and never really got into a rhythm. When he finally did start making things happen for this team that is when he sustained the injury. Hasselbeck on the other hand is 2-0 on the season and has risen to the occasion every time this franchise needed him to. In his last win Hasselbeck was sick all day and even at the hospital in the emergency room hours before kick-off. The character that Hasselbeck showed by playing in that game and winning that game for his team is something that you can’t fake. His teammates respected him for that gutsy performance and the Colts ultimately know they can win with Matt Hasselbeck at the helm. With a 4-5 record believe it or not this team is still sitting in first place in the AFC South division. Hasselbeck has what it takes to help guide this team to a division championship and a playoff birth. The Colts will have to hold off the Houston Texans who are in second place with a 3-5 record. Also you have to keep an eye on the the Jags and Titans in the 3 and 4 spots. With Mariota and Bortles both playing well both of those teams could be a threat to the Colts as the season goes on. Still the Colts are sitting pretty in the division for the time being. It will be up to Hasselbeck to keep it that way, and keep an eye on whether or not Luck returns this season.

Charity of the day: Alaska Conservation Foundation

Go donate! www.alaskaconservation.org

Whats happening now around the league:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Aqib Talib is suspended by the NFL for poking Dwayne Allen in the eye during the Broncos and Colts match up yesterday. Talib stated that he plans to appeal the decision because he “didn’t intentionally poke him in the eye” as Talib put it. The NFL came down on the pro bowl cornerback with a 1 game suspension this afternoon and while Talib said he “expected discipline”, the punishment is another strict decision from the league office. Now the Broncos will be without one of their best defenders when they take on the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday at Sports Authority Field.

Wes Welker signed a one year deal with the St. Louis Rams today. The 34 year old pass catcher has had a number of concussions that have slowed down his career. Yet the Rams thought he brought enough to the table still to add him to the roster. The Rams were replacing Stedman Bailey who was suspended by the league for four games due to substance abuse. Welker’s contract will allow him to earn up to 770 thousand dollars in total salary. With St. Louis being a strong contender Welker should be able to mix well into this offense and add a spark for the Rams.

Matt Flynn signed with the New Orleans Saints today. The NFL journeyman quarterback is now looking at a back up role behind Drew Brees, and apparently tweeted “Looks like my hunting season is over”. Flynn has played for the Packers, Seahawks, Raiders, Patriots, Bills, and Jets in the past. A good insurance policy for the Saints if Brees should ever go down.

Dion Lewis appears to have torn his ACL yesterday in the Patriots match up with the Washington Redskins. The elusive running back was having a heck of a year for the Patriots, Lewis had 234 yards and 2 touchdowns on the year. Showing he was a very dynamic weapon out of the Patriots backfield.

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Charity of the day: Paws for Purple Hearts

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Vikings quietly improve to 6-2 on the year:

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Photo credit: Keith Engman

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Minnesota Vikings were able to improve to 6-2 record on the year with a win over the St. Louis Rams. The victory was in overtime and the Vikings were able to edge out the Rams 21-18 in the game. One thing that stood out during that match up was the fact that the Vikings were able to hold Rams rookie sensation Todd Gurley to less than a hundred yards rushing. Much of that was due to Chad Greenway and Linval Joseph each adding 10 tackles apiece to this Vikings defensive effort. Gurley had rushed for a 100 yards in his last 4 games, so keeping him in check went a long way in the Vikings win. Offensively it was all about Adrian Peterson who stole the show for the purple people eaters. He finished the day with 125 yards and 1 rushing touchdown. Peterson has 758 rushing yards on the season and 4 touchdowns. Showing that he is still the player he once was after having to sit out all of the 2014 season with legal troubles. In a scarier moment later on in the game. Teddy Bridgewater was hit while sliding to the ground and was knocked unconscious. He would eventually be replaced by Shaun Hill and Bridgewater wouldn’t return to the game. From there it was all Peterson who helped carry the load for this Vikings offense after Bridgewater was out. The Vikings chose to put the ball in their best players hands on a number of different carries. Which resulted in Peterson moving the chains for the Vikings time and time again. Eventually in overtime the Vikings would get down near field goal range. Blair Walsh would eventually end the game for the Vikings with a 40 yard field. Propelling Minnesota to their sixth win of the season.

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Charity of the day: ActionAid USA

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Tennessee outlasts the Saints in overtime:

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Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Tennessee Titans were able to notch an overtime victory yesterday 34-28 against the New Orleans Saints. What stood out most in that victory was the fact that rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota finished the day with 4 touchdowns and no interceptions on the day. It was a nearly perfect outing for Mariota who completed 28 out of 39 passes. He really looked poised in the pocket and made quick decisions all afternoon. Delanie Walker also added 95 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns to this Titans offense. Looking like a huge playmaker at the tight end position and really bailing Mariota out time and time again. Walker had his best game of the season and look out for the Mariota to Walker connection later on down the road. Antonio Andrews provided a spark in the Titans running efforts as well. He was to finish the game with 88 yards rushing against the Saints defense. Showing that he can handle the Titans’ rushing duties and effectively taking pressure off of Marcus Mariota. Defensively for the Titans Brian Orakpo looked outstanding recording 2 sacks and 4 total tackles. Orakpo and company were able to hold Brees in check when it mattered the most in the fourth quarter. After a missed field by each team the Titans were finally able to get the ball back in overtime. From there they were able to hit several passes downfield and get into scoring range. Finally Marcus Mariota was able to hit Anthony Fasano for a 5 yard pass to win the game. After struggling most of the year the Titans get a huge uplift by knocking off the Saints. Make no doubt about it when Mariota is on this team can roll. The rookie has two games where he has posted 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. It’s tough for opposing teams to beat that kind of production. It’s safe to say as Mariota goes, so do the Titans.

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Charity of the day: ActionAid USA

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Running game: Bills get by with the legs of McCoy and Williams

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Photo credit: Erik Drost

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Buffalo Bills were able to beat the Miami Dolphins 33-17 in NFL action yesterday. What stood out most in that game was the Bills ability to take it to the Dolphins in the running game. The Bills were able to produce not one but two 100 yard rushers against the Dolphins defense. LeSean McCoy was back at it for the Bills and looking healthy. McCoy racked up 112 yards on the ground and 1 rushing touchdown. Looking fluent in his cuts, and really showing why he is such a dynamic threat in space. Karlos Williams also had a terrific day running the ball for the Bills as well. He rushed for 110 yards and 2 touchdowns. One particular play Williams was able to take a hand off out of shotgun formation cut up inside a Miami Dolphins defender and finish the play 38 yards later in the end zone for six. The play showcased just how bright Williams future is in the NFL. The two back system for the Bills was very effective and should be a staple of the Bills offenses going forward. We all know Rex Ryan is a ground and pound football coach. The two back system really seems to fit Rex’s philosophy and this team is very dangerous when they are able to get both of those running backs churning. Tyrod Taylor showed just how valuable he can be playing off of that ground game. He finished the game with 11 passing completions on 12 passing attempts for 181 yards and a touchdown. Sammy Watkins also had a tremendous day and made Taylor’s job much easier. Watkins finished the day with 8 receptions for 168 yards and a touchdown. Showing that when he is healthy he can also be a huge contributor to this offense. Now that Bills are slowly getting healthier they are showing why they started the season off so hot. Look for this team to make a push for the playoffs late in the season. Will they be able to edge out the Jets for the wildcard later on? That might be something to keep an eye on.

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Charity of the day: ActionAid USA

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Green Bay and Carolina headline week 9 match ups:

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Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers are on a collision course to determine who is top dog in the NFC. While the Packers suffered their first loss of the season to a very tough Denver Broncos team last week. The Panthers on the other hand were able to outlast the Colts in an overtime thriller 29-26. With the Panthers being undefeated they will be the favorite to win, and it should also be noted that the game will be played in North Carolina. That home field advantage might be what the Panthers need to get by Aaron Rodgers and company today. Rodgers struggled against the Broncos last week because of the pressure the Broncos were able to put on the Packers quarterback. If Carolina wants to win this game they will have to follow a similar approach and have to try to rattle Rodgers. A task that won’t be easy but this Carolina defense will certainly be up for that assignment. They’ve been a solid defensive unit all season and are ranked 10th in yards surrendered. Proving that Ron Rivera’s impact has been significant during his tenure with the Panthers. Ultimately this game will come down to what quarterback will perform better today. Cam Newton has done a great job in terms of winning for this team. His stats might not be the most impressive in the league but the guy always finds a way to win. Rodgers on the other hand has been impressively stat wise recently. After winning the leagues MVP award last year he started very strong this season. If Carolina’s D can’t shake the reigning MVP then it will be a long day for the Panthers and they will suffer their first loss of the season. Regardless it will be an intriguing match up.

Week 9 Picks

Rams at Redskins 9/20/15
Photo credit: Keith Allison

Week 9 Picks Bitmap

Leaked Hardy photos provide backlash for Dallas Cowboys:

When the Dallas Cowboys signed defensive end Greg Hardy to a 1 year 11 million dollar deal, they knew what they were getting with Hardy. While Hardy is a gifted pass rusher his off the field antics have drawn several questions marks from GM’s around the league. That didn’t stop Jerry Jones and the Cowboys from signing Hardy. The Cowboys were all in on the 27 year old defensive lineman hoping that he would produce more sacks than letdowns. The Cowboys might be regretting that decision however. A photograph was leaked today of Hardy’s ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder. The photo shows a heavily battered Holden with injuries all over her back from Hardy. Showing just how violent Hardy’s attack was on his girlfriend during his time with the Carolina Panthers. The photo instantly became a public outrage since being released. People in the sports world and around the NFL have been taking to Twitter to voice their concerns with Hardy. Yet the Cowboys are still standing firm in their signing of Hardy and Jerry Jones has went as far to say he is a “leader” of the team. Those comments were made just a few days after Hardy was caught in a shouting match with Rich Bisaccia a Cowboys assistant coach. It’s clear that Jones has very little regard at this point for morality and ethics. He is far more concerned with putting the best players on the field so he can get one more super bowl before he passes away. Signing Hardy however was almost like selling your soul to the devil. It seemed like a good idea at the time but it always comes back to haunt you. You would think that Jerry Jones has to be at least reconsidering that deal with the backlash the team has received today. It doesn’t feel that way though. The Cowboys knew what they were getting into, they just didn’t care. The question now is will the Cowboys be rewarded for taking a risk on Hardy? Or will they get burned by him. The jury is still out.

Charity of the day: Rainforest Action Network

Go donate! www.ran.org

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