2 key games to look out for in week 6:

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Photo credit: Fred Swami

Author: Jon Kuzma

There are two key games that really stick out when looking at the week 6 NFL schedule. Those two match up are the Bengals vs the Bills, and the Cardinals vs the Steelers. We chose these two match ups because first off the Bills are a great test for the Bengals. The Bengals just beat the Seattle Seahawks last weekend and could further solidify their dominance by beating a very talented Buffalo Bills team. Rex Ryan has this team playing outstanding, but keep an eye on whether or not E.J Manuel can keep this team playing at an optimal level now that Tyrod Taylor has been ruled out. You would think that Taylor being out meant Andy Dalton and company could march to an easy win, but the Bills are loaded with talent at several positions. Still the Cincinnati offense has been outstanding ranking in the top 5 for points, yards, and passing yards per game. Andy Dalton has been sensational through the air, and A.J Green is around the 500 yard mark with 3 touchdowns on the year. One other notable piece to this offense is the offensive live. They’ve received high praise from NFL execs around the league and it is clear this Bengals line up front can open holes AND pass protect. Keep an eye on that match up and whether or not the Bengals can remain undefeated. In the second key game of the week we have the Steelers taking on the Cardinals. The Steelers have managed to stay afloat with Michael Vick at the helm and that is largely because this offense is loaded with talent. When you factor in that they will get back Martavis Bryant in mix, it just makes this offense that much more dynamic. The Cardinals on the other hand have been having an outstanding year earning a 4-1 record on the year. They also have the highest scoring average in all the NFL with 38 points per game. The 3rd best rushing attack with an average of 134.8 yards per game, and the 5th best defense with just 18 points surrendered a game. Offensively player wise for the Cardinals Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald have been phenomenal and will likely have a big day against this Steelers defense. Palmers has passed for 13 touchdowns on the year and 6 of them went to Larry Fitzgerald. Which could spell trouble for the Steelers and their 20th ranked pass defense. Both key games in determining these teams worth, and both key games because of how talented the teams are on the field. They should be interesting to watch.

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Taking a look at Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota’s progress heading into week 6:

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Photo credit: Erik Drost

Author: Jon Kuzma

The number 1 and the number 2 overall draft pick in the 2015 draft will forever be compared. Winston who was drafted number 1 overall believe it or not has been the worse player stat wise after 5 weeks of NFL action. While this might come as no surprise to Winston’s opposers who always stated “he has off the field issues.” It’s shocking to his supporters, who know that Winston has made a name for himself by stepping up in the big moment all of his football career. Currently though, it’s Mariota’s poise that has made the smoother transition to the NFL level in terms of passer production. Mariota has passed for 8 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. While Jameis Winston has passed for 7 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. So Marcus Mariota is the clear cut better choice right? Not necessarily. One other factor that must always go in to account when examining a players worth is their ability to win. Jameis Winston has led his team (the Bucs) to a 2-3 record. While Mariota’s Titans are just 1-3 on the year. Only a one win difference, but every single win in the National Football League is so valuable. So in the winner category Winston gets the edge. In the passer category Mariota has the advantage. You also should take in to account that Mariota has won the head to head match up when his Titans beat the Buccaneers 42-14. While it seems like all signs are pointing to Mariota being better, it’s to early to just give Mariota that nod. Especially if Jameis Winston can do something special with this Bucs team and turn it around. At the end of the day it really could come down to a team’s preference until several seasons are in the book and we have a clear cut more impressive career from one or the other.

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Chicago Bears gaining momentum thanks to Jay Cutler:

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Photo credit: John Martinez

Author: Jon Kuzma

It has been a long time since we’ve covered any Chicago Bears news here at endzoneblog.com. However after the Bears willed their way to second straight victory it’s only right that they get their fair share of FaceTime. The Bears have seen their play elevate when Jay Cutler returned from his hamstring injury in week 4. Since his return Cutler has been able to throw for four touchdowns and only one interception. That ability to take care of the ball and not commit turnovers is one of the key reasons that the Bears have been playing good football recently. It’s hard to win football games when you’re losing the turnover battle and it was something Cutler had to correct. Now on the season he has a total 6 touchdown passes and 3 interceptions. Which has led to high praise from Bears head coach John Fox who stated “Jay Cutler has impressed me since day 1”. That vote of confidence going forward is what Cutler needs to help take his play to the next level and really see how high this ceiling is for this Bears team. They are still sitting one game below .500 with a 2-3 record on the year. Yet you still have to give this team praise for not keeling over and giving up. This season could have easily got ugly Like the Detroit Lions season has. However Cutler and company have really stepped up to the plate. Another surprising thing about the Bears success is the fact that they just got rid of Jared Allen and Jon Bostic. Moves that you thought might set this team back a little bit. However they are winning games now, and could make a push for the wildcard. They also will get their easiest opponent of the season this weekend when they play the Detroit Lions. A team that has really taken a step back in the NFC North. Will Cutler do enough down the stretch of the season to pass the Vikings in the standings? Only time will tell but recognize things are improving in the windy city and much of that is due to Jay Cutler.

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Bortles has his best day as a pro looks much improved in second season:

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Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Jon Kuzma

Blake Bortles had his best day as pro yesterday completing 4 touchdown passes for 303 yards and only 1 interception. The performance was the showing that the Jaguars had hoped to get out of Bortles when they drafted him with the 3rd overall pick in the first round of the 2014 draft. After putting up only 11 touchdown passes in 2014, Bortles already finds himself with 10 touchdown passes just 5 games into the 2015 season. Showing that he will easily surpass his touchdown pass production from just a year ago. Another thing that has to stand out for the Jaguars front office is the fact that Bortles has only thrown four interceptions all this season. That had to be a concern for the team after Bortles threw for a lackluster 17 interceptions in his rookie campaign. That poor decision making that Bortles was committing last year is non existent in his sophomore season. He is making good reads and delivering the ball quickly to all the Jaguar receivers, most notably Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson. The young duo have emerged as promising threats for the Jags offense and much of that is due to Bortles ability to optimize this passing attack. If Bortles is ability to build on this performance confidence wise then it will be a huge step forward for this team. A quarterback that has the ability to toss for four touchdowns a game gives his team a much greater chance for success. That is why we have seen this Jaguars time slowly make strides and they are now being able to compete week in and week out. This was evident in their early season win against the Dolphins and they way they have played opponents much tougher. Oppose to past years when they often were a bottom tier team. The organization is clearly headed in the right direction and much of that success has to be credited to Black Bortles. A much improved player.

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Bengals show they are a force to be reckoned with by beating the Seahawks in overtime:

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Photo credit: Trevor Navin

Author: Jon Kuzma

The match up between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Seattle Seahawks was a big one because it was a game that the Bengals could really measure themselves as to where they stand in the playoff picture. The Seattle Seahawks have went to two consecutive Super Bowls and while they are not the team they used to be, they still are a formidable opponent. When the two teams finally met on the field yesterday in Cincinnati out of the gate it was all Seahawks. They marched to an early 17 point lead throughout the first 3 quarters of action. That is when Andy Dalton and company came surging back in the fourth quarter. Dalton would throw for 331 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception in the outing. Making his biggest throws when the Bengals needed him to step up the most. Those 17 points the Bengals scored in the fourth quarter showed that Dalton can be a big time performer even when facing adversity. Something a great team will always have to persevere through. And while Dalton and the offense rises up to the occasion, it was the defense who held the Seahawks offense scoreless in the fourth quarter. Effectively quarantining Russell Wilson with great efforts from Domata Peko, Rey Maualuga, and Vincent Rey. In overtime it was more of the same from the Bengals defense as they came up big again with the game coming down the stretch. A huge sack on third down by Emmanuel Lamar and Carlos Dunlap on third down forced another Seattle punt in overtime. That is where Giovanni Bernard was really able to bring this game home for the Bengals carrying the ball for four different rushing attempts putting the team in field goal range. Mike Nugent was able to close out the game with a 42 yard field goal in overtime on the following play. The win puts the Bengals at 5-0 on the season and makes this team a legitimate Super Bowl contender. They emerge as a direct threat to the New England Patriots in the AFC and will try to challenge that team throughout the remainder of the season.

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Week 5 picks from Endzoneblog.com

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Jon             Joey

Colts          Texans

Falcons     Falcons

Bills            Bills

Jaguars      Jaguars

Bengals     Bengals

Packers     Packers

Chiefs        Chiefs

Saints         Eagles

Browns     Ravens

Patriots     Patriots

Broncos    Broncos

Cardinals   Cardinals

Giants        Giants

Chargers     Chargers

 

Tammy

Falcons

Bengals

Packers

Bills

Chiefs

Saints

Jaguars

Ravens

Cardinals

Patriots

Broncos

Giants

Steelers

Football predictions for every week 5 game:

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Photo credit: Erik Drost

Author: Joey Carr

After four weeks of play in the 2015 Regular Season, it’s safe to say that it has been a pretty perplexing start to the year. There are an astounding six undefeated teams, which is an NFL record, but there are just nine teams total that have a winning record. Nine. That is unprecedented. To be fair, there are a fair amount of teams that are 2-2, but the fact still remains that there just aren’t that many above average teams this year. With that being said, it makes it extremely difficult to make predictions for the games. Upsets are bound to happen every week and you never know which teams will crack under the pressure. Can the Seahawks finally turn the corner and prove to everyone they’re legitimate by beating undefeated Cincinnati? Is the NFC South for real with 2 unbeaten squads? Which NFC East team will emerge as the frontrunner? All these questions could be answered this week with some marque matchups on the docket for Sunday.

Bills vs. Titans

In what looks like an underwhelming game on paper, this matchup could turn into an exciting thriller. The Bills are not what everyone expected them to be, as Rex Ryan’s team haven’t turned in consecutive consistent games all year. While they have a top 10 defense, they will be without their top two running backs, which could prove costly come Sunday. The Titans on the other hand are coming off a bye, and have looked decent thus far. Marcus Mariota is turning out to be exactly what Tennessee was looking for when they drafted him, and he’s going to have really be on his game when he faces that hard-hitting Bills defense.

Prediction: Bills 22 Titans 20

Browns vs. Ravens

It’s no secret; these two AFC North rivals have been nothing more than woeful. Cleveland has shown glimmers of improvement, but are still an average team at best. Their offense has talent, but not enough of it at this point. They still have Josh McCown at quarterback, and with him there they’re always going to be prone to losing football games. Baltimore has been a major disappointment this season, and they’re not going to be improving much in the coming weeks. Joe Flacco has been anything but elite thus far and the run game has been almost nonexistent. I see this game as a toss up that will come down to who commits less turnovers.

Prediction: Ravens 24 Browns 18

Bears vs. Chiefs

Before the season started, this looked like a better matchup than what it is now. Both teams have been an utter disappointment, as they are a combined 2-6. The Chiefs at 1-3 is a surprise, as they have tons of talent on both sides of the ball but have failed to put that talent to good use. However, they are seeming to figure out

how to execute on offense but they are still struggling tremendously on defense, which could prove to be an issue when they face the formidable Matt Forte.

Prediction: Chiefs 31 Bears 20

Seahawks vs. Bengals

Easily one of the more intriguing games of the afternoon, Seattle and Cincy are set to duel it out as one of the premier defenses in the league takes on one of the top offenses. Andy Dalton and company have been a huge surprise this year, taking a huge leap from last season and emerging as a legitimate threat in the AFC. The defense has some issues in the secondary but the Seahawks offense isn’t what you would call “pass-oriented”. Yes, they have been passing the ball more than previous years but they are producing the most points through the run game, which is where Cincy will be tested on Sunday. However, Marshawn Lynch will be out for the second straight week, making the Bengals job a lot easier. This game is going to come down to if Seattle can stop the Cincinnati offense, and with so many weapons for the Bengals, it might be harder than some people think.

Prediction: Bengals 27 Seahawks 24

Rams vs. Packers

After a coming-out game for Todd Gurley last week, this game becomes much more noteworthy. The Packers don’t have the best run defense, so Gurley could spell trouble for the Pack. However, Green Bay does possess possibly the best offense in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers is having another MVP-type season and has all the weapons he needs to beat this Rams team. However, this has all the makings of an upset game, so don’t be surprised if St. Louis comes out of Lambeau with a W.

Prediction: Packers 28 Rams 21

Jaguars vs. Buccaneers

By the far the most underwhelming game of the day, no one knows what to expect from these two Florida teams. It could be a high scoring output where the two lackluster defenses stay lackluster, or turnovers could rule the game. It’s really a toss up at this point, but the Jags have shown more enthusiasm and ability on the season, as they were a field goal away from beating the Colts last week.

Prediction: Jaguars 17 Buccaneers 13

Saints vs. Eagles

In a battle of preseason Super Bowl picks, Sam Bradford looks to get the Eagles back on track. They still have a shot to win the mediocre NFC East if they can get the run and pass game going on a consistent basis. Demarco Murray has been flustered so far, but this could be a breakout week for him against a run-of-the-mill Saints defense.

Prediction: Eagles 28 Saints 19

Redskins vs. Falcons

This game could be one of the better clashes of the day. The Falcons are 4-0, a record no one thought they would have. Granted, they haven’t played the best teams, but the fact still remains that they have shown vast improvement from last year and are undefeated. The main aspect of this game to keep an eye on would be the Falcons newfound run game against the surprisingly respectable Redskins run defense. If the Skins can keep Devonta Freeman in check and limit the damage Julio Jones can cause, they will be sitting pretty atop the NFC East. However, the offense needs to step up tremendously, which might be a tough task with Desmond Trufant and Vic Beasley on the other side of the ball.

Prediction: Falcons 27 Redskins 23

Cardinals vs. Lions

The Detroit Lions were a penalty away from advancing to the NFC Divisional game last year. This year, they’re 0-4 and on the brink of fighting for a top 5 draft pick. I don’t think anyone would’ve guessed that the loss of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley would impact them this much. Their offense, on paper, looks like it should be one of the best in the NFL, but they’ve underachieved vastly so far. The Cardinals defense should be able to lock down Matthew Stafford and company and the offense should give the Motor City defense a handful to deal with.

Prediction: Cardinals 31 Lions 20

Broncos vs. Raiders

This divisional matchup might prove to be closer than most people are predicting. The Raiders are easily the most improved team from last year, with the AC/DC (Amari Cooper, Derek Carr) connection going strong and Latavius Murray leading the run game. Khalil Mack is a monster on defense, and should help make the Broncos rushing attack irrelevant for the fifth straight week. But Denver has other great weapons on offense and the best defense in the NFL, which should give them the upper hand in this divisional bout.

Prediction: Broncos 24 Raiders 17

Patriots vs. Cowboys

Definitely the Game of the Week, the two richest NFL franchises are set to go head to head under the lights in AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys are, in a word, depleted. They are without Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and Lance Dunbar on offense and have a banged up Sean Lee on defense. Their secondary is suspect, something Tom Brady will most definitely take full advantage of, but Dallas does get Greg Hardy and Ronaldo McClain back. Hardy is one of the best pass rushers in the league, and is set to give Brady all sorts of problems, but Number 12 should be up to the task. The Patriot offense is on an absolute tear as of late, and that trend should continue.

Prediction: Patriots 34 Cowboys 21

49ers vs. Giants

The Sunday Night game of the week is a bit of a let down, but should still be a competitive game nonetheless. The Niners have been exactly what everyone thought they would be: a basement team. Colin Kaepernick is a mess, plain and simple. If he keeps going the way he is, he will be benched by week 10. The only bright spot on offense for the Niners is Carlos Hyde, who should have a decent game on the ground. It might not be enough though, as Eli Manning and the Football Giants have looked like a contender as of late. They dismantled the Bills last week, and should do the same to San Fran this week on Sunday Night.

Prediction: Giants 26 49ers 13

Steelers vs. Chargers

A battle between two contenders in San Diego and Pittsburgh should produce a fourth quarter thriller. Phillip Rivers and Co. have been a bit inconsistent recently, but with Antonio Gates back in the mix, the Bolts offense should improve against a weak Steelers secondary. The Charger defense on the other hand has the impossible job of stopping Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, but with Mike Vick at quarterback, you never know what you’ll get. In the end, this game will come down to which Antonio (Gates or Brown) has the better game.

Prediction: Steelers 28 Chargers 27

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Todd Gurley: Ready to make an impact

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Running hard: Gurley photographed above at the University of Georgia

Photo credit: Kevin Thomson

Author: Jon Kuzma

Todd Gurley has officially made his presence felt in professional football. After being a star at the collegiate level while attending the University of Georgia. Gurley would tear his ACL during the end of his season which was a concern for most teams during the NFL draft. That didn’t stop the St. Louis Rams from drafting the talented running back however and while he wouldn’t be able to play right away the Rams were confident in their investment.Fast forward to week 4 of NFL action, Gurley had played in week 3 but didn’t show anything too promising. Then it all began. In that week 4 match up against the Cardinals Gurley would run all over the Bruce Arians led Cardinals for 146 yards on 19 carriers. Showing exactly the big play capability that he showed during his time in Athens. It was Gurley’s effort that helped the Rams run past the Cardinals to a 24-22 victory. Suddenly the Rams who seemed like a team that was destined to skip town on St. Louis and head to Los Angeles. Finds themselves 2-2 on the season with their stock rising. Give credit to Jeff Fischer and company for reviving this football team. Now if Gurley can keep up these amazing performances the Rams might be a serious contender in the NFC West. And that might be just enough to get this team to stick around in St. Louis. A city that desperately needs the National Football League and the attraction that the team brings to the city. Much more might be riding on Gurley’s shoulders than he realizes. Still whether he acknowledges it or not. He will likely continue to run wild throughout the rest of the season. He has been an electrifying player all his life. That won’t stop anytime soon. A potentially franchise saving draft pick for the Rams.

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With Luck out Hasselbeck steps up (again)

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Photo credit: Angie Six

Author: Jon Kuzma

The photo above might be of Andrew Luck but it is Matt Hasselbeck who deserves all of the praise for the Colts last two wins. In those games which Luck didn’t play due to an injury, Hasselbeck came in and showed why he is a bona fide pro. Leading this team to two straight victories and giving the Colts life this season. As far as back up quarterbacks go, Hasselbeck is officially the gold standard. While many teams have a number 2 quarterback that they would dread putting on the field, the Colts have the luxury of having a guy they can rely on. In fact the teams front office has to feel great knowing that if Luck were ever to go down in the future the team still has a chance to win the game. In the two games that Hasselbeck has won he has put together 3 touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 95.0 overall. While luck has put together 5 touchdowns and 7 interceptions on the season for a 65.1 overall passer rating. At this point of their careers regardless of stats Luck is a better player. He is younger, and one of the elite quarterbacks in the National Football League. Matt Hasselbeck on the other hand is an aging pro who is in the twilight of his career. However if he keeps playing like this maybe Hasselbeck’s pro career might be longer than expected. Clearly he is a great choice as a back up quarterback and some teams might even be able to use him as a number 1. There are many times during a season when a team in the league will be playing with a quarterback that is far inferior to Matt Hasselbeck. You really have to give this guy a lot of praise for his efforts. Especially since he was able to overcome sickness to lead the Colts over the Texans. A truly remarkable story.

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Thursday Night Football picks

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Jon                 Joey

Colts            Texans

 

Chuck         Tammy

Colts             Colts

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