Patriots humble Dolphins 36-7:

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Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Jon Kuzma

The New England Patriots rolled against the Miami Dolphins in Thursday Night Football 36-7. The Patriots were just a more sound football team in nearly every phase of the game. One thing that really stands out after reviewing the game film twice is the pass rush that the Patriots were able to bring. The Patriots defense sacked Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill 5 different times and made his night stressful all night long. That pressure led Tannehill to throw for 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions on the evening. The whole defense collectively only surrendered 7 points so that is a testament to their effort as a group. Belichick has to certainly be pleased with his defense’s effort from last night. Offensively just like any other week it was all about Tom Brady. The guy put up 4 touchdowns and no interceptions against the Miami defense. Showing why he is clearly the best quarterback in the league and a no brainer for the MVP award. Rob Gronkowski continued his dominance recording his 7th touchdown reception on the year. The guy was a match up problem all night for the Dolphins defense, whether it was on a post route down the middle or an out route up the sideline. Another notable Patriots performance that must be mentioned is Dion Lewis’ efforts. The Patriots scat back was able to haul in 6 receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown. He added a whole other dynamic to this Patriots offense and he is guy who beats you with his speed. Give credit to Belichick for finding another player flying under the radar and putting him in a role that not only optimizes his talents. It also adds a much needed passing threat out of the backfield to this Patriots offense. The Patriots won this match easily and walk into week 9 against the Redskins with a whole lot of momentum. This team just might have enough firepower to go undefeated again. Each week you have to become more and more of a believer.

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Tom Brady: Angry at the world

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Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Miami Dolphins always play the New England Patriots tough. In fact in 2013 the Dolphins beat the Patriots and in 2014 the teams split each winning a game apiece. Now after struggling in the beginning of the season the Dolphins have found their groove under new head coach Dan Campbell. Will it be enough enough to get past Tom Brady and the Patriots though? Not likely. The Patriots are undefeated for a reason and Tom Brady is a man on a mission. He is playing angry at the world for all the people who dragged his name through the mud and tried to dishonor his integrity. Sometimes the people follow the wrong path in life and many people chose to hop on the “I hate Tom Brady bandwagon”. Why though? He is the best quarterback of all time, and was a vital piece in building the new commercialized NFL that you see today. It’s simple quarterbacks are the face of the franchise and these quarterbacks are what sell the league to viewers. To turn your back on the guy who is arguably the clutches player of all time in any sport is just foolish of the American people. Do I believe Tom Brady is a cheater? No I do not, maybe you can accuse him of a little gamesmanship, but show me one franchise that doesn’t have that and I’ll pay my respects. The punishment Brady received for the alleged crime of deflating footballs was unfair. This has caused Tom Brady to become angry, and an angry Tom Brady is clearly a productive one. He has thrown for 16 touchdowns and only 1 interception on the season. While the Dolphins are red hot right now winning two in a row. They will come back down to earth tonight against the Patriots. And Brady will continue his dominance.

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Thursday Night Football Week 8 Picks:

New England Patriots at Washington Redskins 08/28/09

Photo credit: Keith Allison

 

New England takes on Miami in Week 8 of Thursday Night Football action.

Jon            Joey            Tammy

Patriots   Patriots       Patriots

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In a Game of Numbers, Who has the Upper Hand: Green Bay or Denver?

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Photo credit: Mike Morebeck

Author: Joey Carr

364. That’s the amount of yards the Green Bay Packers are averaging per game in 2015. 281. That’s how many yards the Denver Broncos allow per game. In the upcoming battle of offense and defense this Sunday between Green Bay and Denver, something will have to give, and there will be one less undefeated team in the NFL.

Taking a small detour, let’s take a look at something that won’t be talked about very much in the buildup for this game: Green Bay’s defense vs. Denver’s offense. Neither unit is remotely close to as dominant as their counterpart, but yet, both teams haven’t lost a game, which can only mean the other side of the ball is bailing them out each and every game. This scenario is primarily occurring in the Mile High City, with Peyton Manning and company getting some very good fortune with Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. catching multiple Pick-6’s to give the Broncos some breathing room. It’s no secret that the Denver offense has been bad, really bad; Manning has thrown an interception in each game this season, and the run game is either lackluster or nonexistent. So how well will this 29th ranked offense matchup with the 14th ranked defense of Green Bay? Maybe better than you think. If you go back and watch the week 6 matchup that had Green Bay fend off San Diego, you’ll notice that Phillip Rivers and Keenan Allen had career-high games, and the rushing attack was held to just 75 yards. Those stats bode well for The Sheriff and his high quality receiving corps, as Denver has a few more weapons than the Chargers and should be able to run all over the secondary. The one thing that has to happen for the Broncos to win this game though: Peyton Manning has to be somewhat accurate. We’re not used to seeing Number 18 throw more interceptions than touchdowns but this week, in order for Denver to have a shot at staying unbeaten, he has to be the Peyton Manning of old.

Now, getting back on track, let’s take a look at the real matchup of the day: the GB offense vs. the DEN defense. Both of these high-powered units have won the majority of their team’s games so far this season, but one unit will ultimately prevail. So which one will it be? I’m leaning towards the Green Bay offense. Once you consider the quality of quarterbacks that Denver has played this year, none of them come close to comparing to the skillset possessed by Aaron Rodgers. He has pinpoint accuracy and a knack for finding the open man, something the Broncos haven’t faced yet. I’m not saying that the dynamic duo of cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. aren’t up to the task, but there are very few cornerbacks in the league that have been able to stop Rodgers in the past. However, a banged up Randall Cobb and rusty Davante Adams aren’t exactly the receivers that can burn a defense but they, along with ageless veteran James Jones, haven’t had any problems so far in the season. The one thing that might derail the Packers offensive charge is the formidable Denver front seven and linebacker corps. Led by Von Miller and Demarcus Ware, the pass rush of Denver has been nearly impossible to stop so far this season and an average Green Bay offensive line might not be up to the task of stopping them. It’ll certainly be something to keep an eye when Sunday Night comes around.

All in all, this will be an absolutely fantastic game (at least everyone hopes). Two of the more dominant teams in the league battling it out under the lights on Sunday night is a recipe for a fun-filled night. In the end, however, I see Green Bay’s high flying offense getting the job done and the Denver offense continuing to struggle against an up and coming Packer defense.

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Cowboys heavy hitters will be returning shortly. Can they get back in the playoff picture?

 

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Photo credit: AJ Gruel

Author: Jon Kuzma

With news breaking out of Cowboys camp that Dez Brant is slowly returning to practice this week for the Cowboys. You have to wonder if the Cowboys are going to have enough firepower later on to get back in NFC East contention and the playoffs. While the team has been decimated by the loss of Tony Romo (they haven’t won a game without him) the team still has to find a way to win a couple games down the stretch to give this team a chance for Romo to come back and save their season. The Cowboys almost have to look at their season as a baseball game, and they have to get it to their closer (Romo) who will come in at the end of the season and get this team to the playoffs. Before that however they have to be able to beat some very good ball clubs which include the Seattle Seahawks who are just finding their stride again. Also they will have to beat the Panthers who have been red hot this season and are still undefeated. That’s if Tony Romo comes back by November 26th, there is still no telling when Romo will officially be ready to go. That’s if Romo will even be able to go again this year. You never know how long a collarbone injury is going to take with a quarterback and players tend to rush it when it trying to get back on the field. The last thing the Cowboys want to do is force their franchise player to play before he is physically healthy. Regardless if Romo is able to go or not, getting Bryant back will certainly help this ball club. Whether Matt Cassel or Brandon Weeden is in the game they will get a huge uplift from having Dez Bryant back on the field and that number 88 receiver lined up out wide. Were talking about a guy who had 16 touchdown receptions last season and has god given talents that are far superior than most. Bryant truly is an x-factor and getting him back couldn’t come at a better time for the Boys.

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A new class of NFL bad apples emerges:

 

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Photo credit: Erik Drost

Author: Jon Kuzma

If anyone caught the Dallas Cowboys game last week against the New York Giants. Then they most likely caught Greg Hardy’s meltdown on Cowboys special team coach Rich Bisaccia. After the game video clips of the incident hit the internet and fans were outraged when you could clearly see Hardy slap the coaches clipboard out of his hand and engage in a shouting match with the coach. This was beyond just a blatant disrespect for authority, instead this was a case of Hardy showcasing how truly dysfunctional he not only is as a football player but as a human being as well. What is even more dysfunctional is that just a few days after the incident. Jerry Jones is talking about extending his contract. That’s right the guy who beat up his girlfriend and threw her on weapons. Had no remorse about it in his first press conference back. And a guy who just pretty much slapped up his coach on the sideline is getting a contract extension (or at least is in talks for one). Jerry Jones is a great owner, he does a lot for the National Football League. He is dead wrong on this one. Does he need Hardy’s pass rush? Absolutely, but what happens when Hardy snaps and does something stupid as a member of the Cowboys? Doe the team become liable? There is no doubt the Cowboys will suffer if Hardy is removed from the team. The Cowboys might be avoiding an even bigger blunder by doing so however. The guy has red flags everywhere and is a ticking time bomb waiting to happen. That other team in Texas has a problem child of their own. That’s right we’re talking about Ryan Mallett formerly of the Houston Texans. Mallet who was the back up quarterback for this team has had several slip ups while competing for the starting job. First he missed practice the next day after Brian Hoyer was named the starter. Also just recently he missed a flight to a game and had to pay his own way to fly commercially. Eventually the Texans felt that Mallett had become too much of a distraction and parted ways with the troubled signal caller. In Cleveland there is another troubled signal caller. Johnny Manziel the second year player out of Texas A.M was seen driving recklessly and fighting with his girlfriend in Ohio. Eventually the two pulled over and were exchanging words when police arrived at the scene. What is troubling for Manziel is he admitted he had bit drinking, which surprised a lot of people considering he just got out of alcohol rehab this past off-season. The league is waiting for the legal process to play out, that is if legal action is taken. Right now it appears there wont be. Regardless Manziel must be cautious or he might find himself walking down a similar path as Ryan Mallett. Out of an NFL job and plenty of time to think about his mistakes. The NFL truly has a new case of bad apples.

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Week 8 power rankings:

 

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Photo credit: Mike Morbeck

Author: Joey Carr

 

1. New England Patriots, 6-0

Another game, another win for the Defending World Champs. Keep an eye out for their matchup with division rival Miami this week, as the Fins have been playing great as of late.

2. Green Bay Packers, 6-0

The Pack returns from the bye and will duel it out with the undefeated Broncos in the best game of the season to date.

3. Cincinnati Bengals, 6-0

Cincy has been quite the surprise this year and with a potent offense and strong defense, look out for the Bengals in the coming weeks as they play a couple division games.

4. Carolina Panthers, 6-0

The Panthers just keep on winning and continually prove that they’re not a fluke team. If they can pull out a win against Indy this week, that thought should be solidified.

5. Denver Broncos, 6-0

The Broncos also come back from their bye week and will face off against the Packers in their toughest game of the year. Can the Denver defense bail out Peyton Manning again?

6. Atlanta Falcons, 6-1

The Falcons scraped by the Titans this past week, but are still a force to be reckoned with as long as Devonta Freeman keeps putting up 100-yard games.

7. Arizona Cardinals, 5-2

Arizona had a bit of good fortune last night, as Joe Flacco and the Ravens seemed to forget how to properly throw a football. They might not be the Super Bowl contender everyone thought they were.

8. Seattle Seahawks, 3-4

The Legion of Boom came through big this past week, holding San Fran to just 3 points. They seem to be back on track but get an interesting matchup this week with Dallas.

9. New York Jets, 4-2

It was a close one, but the Jets fell to the Pats on Sunday. They played great the whole game, however, and look to be like a legit wildcard contender.

10. Pittsburgh Steelers, 4-3

Well maybe Landry Jones isn’t the short term answer at quarterback that the Steelers thought he would be, but Big Ben should return this week (let Antonio Brown rejoice).

11. New York Giants, 4-3

The Giants retook the NFC East lead with a win over the Cowboys on Sunday night, and should be able to retain that lead in the coming weeks.

12. Minnesota Vikings, 4-2

Don’t look now, but the Vikings are 4-2 and are in contention for a playoff spot. The Vikes are clicking on both sides of the ball and look like the team everyone expected them to be.

13. Philadelphia Eagles, 3-4

The Eagles offense once again was no match for the opposing defense, as Sam Bradford didn’t toss a single touchdown. If the Eagles want any chance this season, the offense needs to get rejuvenated.

14. Indianapolis Colts, 3-4

Yikes. That’s the only word to describe the Colts loss against the Saints at home on Sunday. Chuck Pagano, take your last look around Lucas Oil Stadium.

15. New Orleans Saints, 3-4

Who would’ve thought the Saints would be 3-4 after their terrible start to the season? Maybe a playoff spot is in the cards after all.

16. Miami Dolphins, 3-3

Just call them the Miami Dan Campbell’s, because it’s pretty much a fact at this point. New head coach Dan Campbell seems to have this Dolphins team turned around and now looks to take down their arch rival, the Patriots.

17. Oakland Raiders, 3-3

Wow. I was at a loss for words when I saw the halftime score of the Raiders and Chargers game. Derek Carr and Amari Cooper dominated and the Raiders might actually have something this season with the AC/DC connection.

18. San Diego Chargers, 2-5

Oh San Diego. Los Angeles isn’t going to take you if you keep losing games, no matter the fashion in which you lose those games.

19. St. Louis Rams, 3-3

Look out for these Rams; they’re playing their best football in years and should contend for a playoff spot with Todd Gurley putting the team on his back.

20. Dallas Cowboys, 2-4

The Cowboys really need Tony Romo and Dez Bryant back. That is all.

21. Buffalo Bills, 3-4

Excuses, excuses, excuses. Those were all Rex Ryan had after his team’s embarrassing loss to the Jags in London.

22. Kansas City Chiefs, 2-5

Maybe it was Tony Gonzalez banging the drum before the game at Arrowhead, but the Chiefs played great against a Big Ben-less Steelers team. Also, congrats to Eric Berry, who intercepted his first pass since being diagnosed with cancer.

23. Washington Redskins, 3-4

Call it the Comeback of the Year, but Kirk Cousins knows that “You liked that!” dramatic win over Tampa Bay on Sunday.

24. Chicago Bears, 2-4

The Bears return from their bye and will look to keep on being an average squad.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars, 2-5

The Jags definitely have a bright future if they can keep the receiving corp and T.J. Yeldon together. They dismantled Buffalo in London and should keep on scoring in high volume.

26. San Francisco 49ers, 2-5

Someone should let San Francisco and Colin Kaepernick know that throwing the ball out of bounds every other play won’t win you the football game.

27. Detroit Lions, 1-6

So close, yet so far, is an accurate tribute to the Lion’s season so far. They just need to find a way to pull out victories.

28. Houston Texans, 2-5

Being outgained 275-0 in yards in the first half isn’t usually a good thing, Houston. Also, someone needs to get Ryan Mallett a watch, as he had to fly commercial to Miami because he missed the team plane (he was released by Houston this morning).

29. Baltimore Ravens, 1-6

Man, are the Ravens worse than anyone could’ve dreamed of before the season began. If it weren’t for Steve Smith Sr., the Ravens would not have their single win.

30. Cleveland Browns, 2-5

Well Cleveland, it might be Johnny Football time yet again, as Josh McCown went down with another injury. Enjoy it while it lasts.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2-4

It’s safe to say that Jameis Winston needs some time to mature in the league, but that Tampa defense needs some serious readjusting.

32. Tennessee Titans, 1-5

On the bright side of losing on Sunday, the Titans held the powerful Falcon offense to only 10 points.

 

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Is any team going to run away with the AFC South?

Jaguars at Ravens 12/14/14

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Joey Carr

On paper, the dreadful AFC South should be dominated by one team and one team alone: the Indianapolis Colts. They have the most talent by far, highlighted by a top tier quarterback in Andrew Luck, great receivers like T.Y. Hilton, and playmakers on defense such as Vontae Davis and Robert Mathis. However, through 7 weeks the Colts stand at 3-4, and have just a one game hold on the division they’ve dominated for the past few years. With a daunting schedule ahead of Indy and mediocrity lurking in the rest of the AFC South, will we see another below .500 team win their division?

Everyone who follows the NFL knows that the AFC South division has been the poorest division in terms of winning percentage for the better part of 8 years. They rarely have a tight race for the division title and usually have at least one team fighting for the number one draft pick. It’s well documented that a few teams in the NFL have been in the basement of their division for several years, and two of them are in the AFC South: the Tennessee Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars. For some reason these two southern teams can’t find that one player that will turn their entire franchise around, like the Colts found in Andrew Luck and the Rams seem to have found in Todd Gurley. Sure, every year they have tons of “potential” but never any concrete, known playmakers. Take the Jaguars for example: Blake Bortles was taken with the 3rd overall pick in 2014, and was labeled as the next franchise quarterback. As most know, he had an average rookie season at best and is still trying to find his way this season. T.J. Yeldon looks promising in his rookie campaign but so did Jamarcus Russell, so we’ll wait and see if the former Alabama running back can energize the Jags offense. Things just haven’t been working out draft wise or offseason wise for this Florida team, which has put them at the bottom of the NFL for almost a decade. However, with a young and encouraging receiving corps along with the unknown ceiling of Blake Bortles, the Jags might be finding the light at the end of the tunnel sooner rather than later.

One of the most surprising things of this NFL season has been the Colts performance. They currently sit at 3-4 and while they have a lead in the division, it’s safe to say that no one believes in Indy’s ability to keep hold of that lead. They’ve been thoroughly embarrassed in a majority of their losses and their wins are tainted with some good fortune and timely mistakes by the opposing team. If not for three division wins, the Colts could very well be 1-5 right now. They’re not performing close to what was expected of them in Andrew Luck’s fourth year as a starter, and if they keep trending in the direction they are, some coaching and player overhaul could occur. It’s no secret that head coach Chuck Pagano seems to be on his way out, but he can’t be entirely blamed for his team’s lack of production. The injury bug has been a big factor for this team this year and while Pagano did authorize the attempt of possibly the worst trick play in history last Sunday against New England, he doesn’t deserve all of the responsibility for the Colt’s 3-4 record. Still, the fact remains that the likes of Houston and Jacksonville are only 1 game out of first place, and with the Colts remaining schedule (CAR, DEN, ATL, TB, PIT, etc.), it will be no

surprise to see another team take the reigns from Indy. However, no one is going to run away with this division, considering the fact that there is simply not enough talent or execution in the division as a whole right now.

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St. Louis Rams are able to notch another victory in 2015:

Rams at Redskins 9/20/15

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Jon Kuzma

St. Louis Rams are able to notch another victory in 2015:

Lets face it, the St. Louis Rams haven’t been an overwhelmingly spectacular team the last 12 years or so. In fact the last winning season the Rams had was back in 2003 when Torry Holt was still hauling in touchdowns after the fall of the Greatest Show on Turf. Since then the city of St. Louis has been so desperate when it comes to pro football, there have even been talks of moving the Rams back to Los Angeles to capitalize on Southern California’s emerging market. The 2015 Rams however are doing all they can to prevent that from happening. The team is sitting at 3-3 on the year and showing the most promise it has in a long time. Jeff Fishers football philosophies are finally paying off in St. Louis and that simple formula of running the football and playing solid defense is ideal for success. Todd Gurley has played outstanding for the last 3 weeks and coach Fisher is a smart enough guy to keep feeding the rookie. Gurley has rushed for over a 100 yards in his last three games and has 442 yards total on the season. He was a key part in the win over the Cleveland Browns yesterday and should continue that success moving forward. The other notable factor in the Rams formula for success has been their outstanding defensive play. Mark Barron finished the game with 16 total tackles yesterday against the Browns. Playing sideline to sideline and hawking opposing offensive players. Trumaine Johnson also had a big day for the Rams defense coming up with 8 total tackles. Even though this team is only sitting at .500 on the season. That is still far more successful than any Rams team of lately has been at during this point of the season. A little sign of hope for the Rams and the city of St. Louis. Now if this team can win some games during the second half of the season we might witness the full turn around.

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Patriots outlast a strong Jets performance win 30-23:

New England Patriots at Washington Redskins 08/28/09

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Jon Kuzma

The New England Patriots were able to overcome a very strong New York Jets team and improve to 6-0 on the season. In fact during the third quarter the Patriots were trailing the Jets 17-16. Tom Brady and the Patriots were able to come fighting back in the fourth quarter putting up 14 points and holding the Jets to just 6 points. Brady would finish the day with 2 touchdowns, no interceptions, and 355 passing yards. Improving on his already terrific season he has put together this year. Rob Gronkowski had another big day for this Patriots offense hauling in 108 yards receiving. Danny Amendola also had an outstanding day recording 8 receptions for 86 yards. And he (Amendola) and Gronkowski each had 1 receiving touchdown apiece. Defensively you have to give a lot of credit to the Patriots for being able to hold Chris Ivory in check. Ivory was only able to rush for 41 yards on the ground. Proving that the Patriots defense could effectively clamp down on one of the leagues better running backs. The Patriots have to be happy with the victory but also slightly nervous with how far the Jets have come. This is a team who was the laughing stock of the league when linebacker Ik Enemkpali punched Geno Smith in the face. Since then this team has done a complete 180, now being a serious threat to the Patriots not only in the AFC East division. Also in the AFC playoffs when the Patriots look to make their return to the Super Bowl. The Jets definitely closed the gap between the two organizations and that is something Patriots fans have to be worried about. Still this team is 6-0 and still the team to beat right now in the NFL.

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