Stafford looks like he’s in mid-season form:

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Photo credit: Mike Morbeck

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has looked phenomenal in preseason action this year never finishing a game under a 100 quarterback passer rating. The seventh year player out of the University of Georgia is looking like a polished veteran at this point of his career. His throws are impeccable and he has one of the strongest if not the strongest arm in the entire league. At this point of the preseason Stafford has completed 19 out of 25 passes for 3 touchdowns and zero interceptions. A pace that the Lions hope will transition over to the regular season. Which will likely happen for Stafford because at the end of the day he has put in the work. Stafford hasn’t had a year away from football since middle school school. When you think about all of the training camps he has went through from the younger levels to college, and finally too the pros. You begin to understand the amount of repetition and hard work number 9 has put into his craft. In the beginning of his career there were worries whether or not he was going to shape up into the player he is now. After facing a couple injuries early on in his career he has managed to overcome the label of a “glass football player”. Now Stafford is year in and year out one of the top passers in the league. He is also one of only a handful of players to ever throw for 5,000 yards in a season. Another impressive feat that puts in the ranks of good company (Brees,Marino, Brady, Manning). The Lions got the #1 overall pick right in the 2009 draft and now Stafford is holding up his end of the bargain and repaying the team. Look for this team to have another solid season,  and much of their success  will fall on whether or not Stafford can produce. If he plays well the team may be able to cover up the losses of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairly. If not the Lions will take that dreaded step back to mediocrity.

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Is this Peyton Manning’s last go?

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Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall

Peyton Manning has been in the National Football League for 16 seasons. Now at 39 years old Manning is returning to the Broncos to not only participate in the game he loves most but also to chase another Super Bowl ring. He has faced a number of injuries during his career which includes a serious neck injury that was operated on three times, and more recently a torn quadricep. With the hits and injuries piling up Manning sooner or later is going to have to ask himself the health question. Is playing football worth his long time health? Manning has clearly already weighed the pro’s and con’s in his head and at the end of the day the love for the game has always willed him to keep competing. On the field Manning has been anything but unproductive. He has never once passed for under 25 touchdowns in a regular season. In his career he has a total of 530 passing touchdowns which is the most ever. Now entering his 17th season Manning is just shy of breaking Brett Favre’s all time passing yards record. The record would solidify Manning as arguably the best passer of all time. The longevity of Manning’s career and the effectiveness that he executed at put him at the top of the mountain. While we are now watching Manning operate in the twilight of his career. He has still managed to be efficient especially in the regular season. It’s later on towards the end of the year that you start to see him wear down and struggle. With last year looking like Manning’s greatest falter physically, anyone observing Manning had to ask “how long does he have?” It feels like Manning has two years top but this very well may be his last ride. Lets see how far he can take the Broncos.

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Charity of the day: Food for the Hungry

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Julio Jones stats need to improve but he is worth the money:

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Photo credit:  Darrell Thomson

Julio Jones is good enough to be the cornerstone of a franchise flat out. While in four years of action he has managed to only go over a 1,000 yards receiving twice. One of those years he didn’t catch a 1,000 yards he was hurt, and the other time he was a rookie. The former University of Alabama player is a phenomenal asset for the Falcons and vital piece of Matt Ryan’s personal success. At 6’3 220 pounds Jones is the ideal size for an NFL wide receiver. He has the ability to go up above defenders and make a play on the ball. He also has the speed running a 4.39 40 yard dash to blow pass defenders and take the top off the defense. Julio is also a great yards after catch receiver similar to how Terrell Owens was. On several plays during the 2014 season Julio was able to break a tackle and take the ball for an additional gain for his team. Jones most impressive move on the field seems to be his back shoulder fade though. Him and Matt Ryan clearly have put in a significant amount of time on this particular throw. Now on Sundays they are using it to expose opposing defenses and look for that play to continue to have success in 2015. While Ryan and Jones are completing passes on the field, it is now up to Arthur Blank to open his check book and put together a contract that rewards Jones for his contributions. The two sides have both insisted that they are getting closer in negotiations. And a deal may be imminent before the regular season starts. Look for that deal to be in the 70 million ball park maybe just shy of 70. Dez Bryant received a 5 years 70 million dollar deal from the Cowboys and you would have to expect Julio’s contract would be just shy of that deal. Regardless Jones is worth the money.

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Andrew Luck will look to take the next step in 2015:

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Photo credit: Angie Six

The Indianapolis Colts had a long term plan when they decided to let Peyton Manning walk via free agency and decided to pick Andrew Luck number 1 overall in the 2012 draft. Their plan has seemed to pay off. While Manning was one of the top passers in the league, Luck showed promise that we haven’t seen in a quarterback prospect in years. The Colts recognized this fact and took the risky move of going with Luck over Manning, now four years into Luck’s career the Colts are back in Super Bowl contention year in and year out. Contention however is not good enough for Luck and his legacy. He is already recognized as one of best passers in the league but to truly elevate himself amongst the great quarterbacks in the league he must win more in the postseason. While last year Luck had one of his best years as a pro stats wise where he was able to pass for 40 passing touchdowns and 4,761 passing yards. He still came up short of making it to the Super Bowl with a prime opportunity to supplant the Patriots in the AFC division championship. In that game the Colts would flop suffering a devastating 45-7 loss and Luck himself would struggle completing only 12 of 33 passes and throwing for no touchdowns and two interceptions. In order to off set that underachievement the Colts decided to bring in Andre Johnson one of the leagues most prolific pass catchers. With another year under Luck’s belt and the addition of Andre Johnson that offense should be even more dynamic this time around. Especially since key players like T.Y Hilton will also have another year of NFL experience under their belt. Look for this team to take that next step in this next season of NFL action and it will all start with Andrew Luck. The same guy the Colts put all their faith in when they had to make one of the toughest decisions of their franchise.

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Charity of the day: In Defense of Animals

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Forty Niners might be in better shape than expected:

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Photo credit: Mike Morebeck

This off-season has been rough for the San Francisco Forty Niners. They lost their head coach in Jim Harbaugh. A guy who had taken the team to the Super Bowl and put up a whole lot of wins for the Niners. They lost star players for a variety of different reasons from Patrick Willis, Justin Smith, and Chris Borland retiring to Aldon Smith being released for off the field issues. There just seemed like a lot of turmoil going on out in San Francisco football wise and on paper it seemed easy to write this team off. Well that might not be the best thing to do because the Niners didn’t look terrible in their preseason action so far. While they did go 1-1 in terms of wins and losses over the first two weeks of the preseason. They more importantly showed they are capable of being a functioning football team. The addition of Torrey Smith will definitely help Kaepernick in the passing game. Smith was very productive in Baltimore hauling in 30 touchdown passes and 3,591 receiving yards for the Ravens. While they did lose Mike Iupati upfront from the offensive line. It will give the team a chance to let new young faces step up and fill the void. Another notable addition for the Niners offensively is they signed Reggie Bush. Who last played for the Lions and had a few productive seasons up in Detroit. Still this team team is in the process of finding it’s identity and it seems like they will be a couple seasons away from being a true contender again. Yet with the additions of Bush, Dockett, and Smith the team is doing their best to put together a quality product on the field. New coach Tomsula will be in charge of leading this Niners team in a new direction and so far he seems to be doing an aright job. The true test for this team will be how they perform in the regular season but so far in the preseason there is a little bit more hope than there was expected for this team. Finally watch out for Jarryd Hayne over these next two preseason games and keep an eye on whether or not the former rugby star is able to make the roster. John Madden believes Hayne is good enough endorsing the player by stating “He has to make the team.” It seems like everyone is rooting for Hayne and it will be determined whether or not he makes the team by the end of the preseason.

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