Chicago Bears gaining momentum thanks to Jay Cutler:

3971241158_914b435952_o

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.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/virtualsugar

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

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

Jaguars at Ravens 12/14/14

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.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

Charity of the day: World Vision

Go Donate! www.worldvision.org

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

9390372386_6ec1316d3a_o

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.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/navin75

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

Charity of the day: World Vision

Go Donate! www.worldvision.org

Football predictions for every week 5 game:

20965255214_62304f4073_o

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

https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrost88

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

 

 

 

Todd Gurley: Ready to make an impact

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 1.56.24 AM

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.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/93558439@N05

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

Charity of the day: League of Women Voters of the US

Go donate! www.lwv.org

 

 

 

With Luck out Hasselbeck steps up (again)

20905784045_4107c0e6ed_o

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.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/angiesix

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode

Charity of the day: League of Women Voters of the US

Go donate! www.lwv.org

Fantasy Sleepers to Pick up for This Week

Falcons at Ravens 10/19/14

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Joey Carr

Four weeks into the regular season and fantasy football is still in a whirlwind. Talent from last year isn’t transferring over to this year and backups like Devonta Freeman are becoming instant legends and making the person who started him look like a modern day Vince Lombardi. Quarterbacks aren’t putting up very high numbers and unless you own Rob Gronkowski or the tight end that is playing the Raiders, chances are your tight end isn’t performing well on a consistent basis. Running backs such as C.J. Anderson are producing little to no points week in and week out but then there are the rare outbreaks like the one Matt Jones had in week 2. It’s impossible to know who is going to have a good week based off of the previous Sunday and even last year. The waiver wire targets are really making or breaking most fantasy player’s seasons, and I’m here to help you identify which of these sleepers to pick up, and which ones to leave behind.

Allen Hurns, WR Jacksonville Jaguars

It might not be known to a lot of people, but the second year man leads Jacksonville in receptions and is not far behind his wide receiver counterpart, Allen Robinson, in targets. He’s quietly developed quite the rapport with quarterback Blake Bortles and has caught a touchdown in back to back games. With a favorable matchup against Tampa Bay this week, Hurns is definitely in the mix for the Flex spot in your lineup on Sunday.

Advice: Pick up if available and Start if in need of a Flex

Leonard Hankerson, WR Atlanta Falcons

In case you haven’t been paying close attention to the Falcons this year, Hankerson has zipped past the aging Roddy White in terms of production so far. It’s clear that Hankerson is Matt Ryan’s number 2 option behind Julio Jones and he has proved to be quite the commodity in the passing game. He hasn’t dropped too many passes and has tallied a pair of touchdowns in the past three weeks. He’s not someone I would start for this week, but he’s certainly a receiver I would pick up now before he starts making more headlines.

Advice: Pick up if available

Duke Johnson Jr., RB Cleveland Browns

At the beginning of the season, many of the fantasy analysts predicted this the rookie out of Miami would have a breakout year due to the production issues the Browns backs had last year. However, it was Isaiah Crowell who got most of the touches through the first couple of weeks, although Johnson did get his fair share. After a lackluster week 3 for Crowell however, Johnson got his chance in week 4 and made the most of it. It wasn’t in the rushing game where he succeeded, but the passing game, where he caught 9 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. Pair that with 6 catches the week before and a decent amount of carries out of the backfield, and you’ve got a risky Flex play, which is what Johnson is at this point.

Advice: Pick up if available and Start if in need of a Flex

Eddie Royal, WR Chicago Bears

To be honest, there should only be three players on the Bears that you should own: Alshon Jeffrey, Martellus Bennett, and Matt Forte. Yes, Eddie Royal did have a touchdown last week but that that was without Jeffrey in the lineup and now that he’s back from injury, Royal should see only about 4-5 targets a game, nothing that will justify dropping another player for him.

Advice: Don’t Pick up

Alex Smith, QB Kansas City Chiefs

With weapons surrounding him at all angles, the Chiefs quarterback should merit more consideration in the starting QB conversation. He’s got Jamaal Charles, Jeremy Maclin, and Travis Kelce, who are all dynamic and reliable player makers. He’s had one off game that came in week 2 but other than that has put up at least 17 fantasy points each game. If you own Cam Newton or Ryan Tannehill, who are on bye this week, and need a quarterback, Smith is a solid option as he plays a weak Chicago secondary.

Advice: Pick up if in need of a quarterback

Robbie Gould, K Chicago Bears

In a league where there are no safe options at kicker, except for Stephen Gostkowski, Adam Vinateri and Justin Tucker, you should always be on the prowl for kickers in your fantasy league. Robbie Gould of the Bears proved last Sunday that he is capable of being trusted. He hasn’t missed this season and came up clutch last Sunday against the Raiders, kicking the game winning field goal. If your kicker is on a bye or isn’t performing well, Gould is as close to a sure fire option as you’re going to get this year.

Advice: Pick up if in need of a kicker

Charles Clay, TE Buffalo Bills

After a disappointing start to the season, Charlie Clay has emerged as a top tight end in the league. Tyrod Taylor has connected with him for 14 catches and 193 yards over the past two games with a touchdown, makes him an extremely solid option at tight end.

Advice: Pick up if available

As a side note, there are multiple players that are returning from suspension this week. Greg Hardy and Ronaldo McClain return to the Cowboys defense, making them a little tougher but they face a difficult task in defending Tom Brady. On the offensive side of the ball, both Antonio Gates and Martavis Bryant come back to their

respective teams, with one being way more valuable than the other. Bryant is behind Antonio Brown and has Mike Vick at quarterback, making his fantasy value less than that of Gates. Last year, he and Phillip Rivers developed a great connection, especially in the redzone. If he’s available, pick him up and start him no matter what (except if you have Gronk). Bryant on the other hand, if you’re in need of receiver depth, give him a shot but it’s more likely that he won’t see great production until Big Ben returns.

Other Notable Waiver Wire Targets: Crockett Gilmore, Ronnie Hillman, Sam Bradford, Kendall Wright, Kamar Aiken, Michael Crabtree, Doug Baldwin, Reuben Randle, Darren McFadden, Stevie Johnson, Tavon Austin, Jamison Crowder.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

Charity of the day: Vietnam Veterans of America

Go donate! www.vva.org

Detroit Lions in low place after dropping to 0-4 on the season:

15831139534_b23bc0c1b2_o

Photo credit:

Author: Jon Kuzma

Losing is one of the most destructive things that can happen to a football team’s morale. Players become frustrated and lose faith in the coaching staff. While coaches seem lackadaisical and begin to disconnect from their players. Fortunately for the Lions they seem to be holding it together due to Jim Caldwell’s clam presence. Or so it seems. Caldwell’s calm demeanor might be able to give the impression that the sky isn’t falling in Detroit. Yet the record speaks for itself. This team is on the verge of letting this season spiral out of control and each loss takes this franchise closer to the 0-16 season that they had to face in 2008. Caldwell was praised by Detroit fans last year when the roster was loaded with talent. Now he is being picked apart by local fans for being an under performing coach. To be fair the talent level of this team is much inferior too last years team. So in some respects it truly isn’t Jim Caldwell’s fault that this team is taking a step back. The offensive line has been absolutely atrocious through these last four games and although they played a little better against Seattle. They still have to find a way to allow Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Stafford time to go through his progressions. This team chose to be an offensive first team when they chose to let Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley walk. Two former first round picks for this team who helped the defensive line become one of the best in the league. Now this team has neither a dominant offense, nor a dominant defense. Leaving the team without a true identity. It will be up to Caldwell to get things in order in Detroit or he will be sent packing. He isn’t coaching to make it to the playoffs anymore. He is coaching for his job.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikemorbeck

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

Charity of the day: ActionAid International USA

Go donate! www.actionaidusa.org

 

Eli Manning willing the Giants back into NFC East contention:

6743537971_7e59449836_o

Photo credit: Mike Morbeck

Author: Jon Kuzma

With the NFC East all tied up with Dallas, Washington, and New York all sitting at 2-2 on the year. Much praise must go to Eli Manning. His efforts in the comeback have been phenomenal and he has recorded 7 touchdowns and only 1 interception this season. It’s Manning’s ability to handle the pressure when his back is against the wall that is most impressive. After the Giants started 0-2 on the season Manning willed this team to 2 straight victories. One against NFC East rival the Washington Redskins and the other against the much improved Buffalo Billis. In those games Manning had to overcome the loss of Giants receiver Victor Cruz who has been sidelined with an injury. Yet that didn’t stop Manning from rising to the occasion time and time again and doing really what he has done all his career. Step up, when the team needed him the most. How many times has this team struggled only to see Manning rise up and lead this team to a Super Bowl win? While it seems like the Giants have been down in recent years, it must be noted that the defense this year has been stellar. Which could be a formula for success moving forward during the season. Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has led the team to a first overall ranking in run defense. Which makes Manning’s job on offense that much easier. A good defense will allow the Giants’ offense to have more time of possession on offense. Which is always a good fundamental for success in football. While two weeks ago this team was in the dumps and we were all writing them off. They are now tied for the division lead, and could easily come out the big winner in the NFC East now that Tony Romo is injured. Right now you have to go with the Giants in the NFC East. It’s all because of an improved defense and Manning’s ability to limit turnovers offensively.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikemorbeck/

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

Charity of the day: ActionAid International USA

Go donate! www.actionaidusa.org

Do the Bengals have what it takes to win the AFC?

Bengals at Ravens 9/27/15

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Joey Carr

Since the turn of the century, in order to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, a trip to Beantown is usually on the docket. The Patriots have been terrorizing the AFC for years now, and it’s very rare that another team besides a Peyton Manning led squad makes it past New England. Tom Brady just seems to find a way to win in January, and that makes it extremely difficult for another team to gain entry to February football. The Broncos have done it once and the Ravens did it a few times in the past but there is just a consistency to having the Pats in the Super Bowl that is unprecedented. However, there is a team on the rise this year in the AFC that looks poised to give the Patriots a run for their money. They’re unproven in the playoffs but an extremely hot start to the year has people wondering if this is the year they finally make it over the hump. That team is the Cincinnati Bengals.

In years past, the AFC has been the Patriots stomping ground, and to be honest, that probably won’t change anytime soon. As long as Tom Brady is still healthy, the No. 1 or 2 seed in the AFC will be occupied by New England. Although, just like both the Ravens and Jets have in the past, the Pats can be beaten; and with no other immediate threat, with the exception of Denver, Cincy looks to be in position to have a great chance at terminating the Patriots trip to Santa Clara. They have the talent, the right coaching staff, and the benefit of a relatively easy division with the Ravens barely staying afloat and the Steelers without Big Ben for the next four weeks. They even have the praise of another NFL head coach, as John Harbaugh of the Ravens called them “the most talented team in the league”. While that might be a tad bit exaggerated, it’s not too far off from the truth. Let’s take a look at the roster: at quarterback, they have one of the most underrated players in the game in Andy Dalton, who is more known for his blunders than accomplishments. He’s performing close to the level of Rodgers and Brady so far, and with a great dynamic core of players around him, it seems like he will only get better. One of those players is receiver A.J. Green, who is easily one of the best pass-catchers in the game. He’s capable of breaking the 100-yard receiving yard every game, which is simply a deadly weapon to have at your disposal if you’re a quarterback. Running backs Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard are perhaps the best “1-2” backfield punch the NFL has to offer and continue to wreck havoc for opposing coaches and defensive lines. However, in order for a great team to succeed, they need talent on both sides of the ball, and the Bengals certainly have their fair share of talent on defense. Geno Atkins and Michael Johnson are a terrific pair up front on the line, and A.J. Hawk and Rey Maualuga are adept linebackers that get the job done. Adam Jones is a bit underwhelming as a number one cornerback but he’s been performing okay for the most part of the season.

All the talent is there for the Bengals, and it’s showing thus far in the season. They’re 4-0 and rank second in the league in offense (behind who else, the Patriots) and are doing a fair job on defense. They’ve managed to skim by in a couple of their games, the Baltimore game especially, but overall have been playing some extremely

decent football. However, they’ll be tested to the fullest next week when they take on Seattle and we’ll get to see what this “Who-Dey” team is really made of. Although, as of now, they’re playing great, gelling very well, and are having fun as a unit. They’ve got a tough task come January when they try to win their first playoff game under head coach Marvin Lewis but if they can pull out a win, a date with the New England Patriots and maybe even Santa Clara, California is certainly a possibility.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

Charity of the day: Random Acts

Go donate! www.randomacts.org

1 192 193 194 195 196 207