Andy Dalton has been a good player over the course of his career but if the Bengals don’t improve they could seek a change at the QB position:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Andy Dalton has been a pretty good quarterback since entering the NFL back in 2011 and his stats make that clear as day. Dalton has 25,534 yards, 167 touchdowns and 93 interceptions over his career for a QB rating of 88.7. When you take into consideration how difficult it is to find a competent quarterback it becomes apparent that Dalton is better than most. However with the Bengals regressing the past couple of seasons it’s only a matter of time before the leaders of this team are held accountable. Dalton will be one of the first players that are assessed and don’t be surprised if Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis decide to shake things up if the team has another losing record. Cincinnati had seven wins last year so it’s very possible that they can turn it around. Ultimately that means the Bengals are going to have to beat out their AFC North rivals. Pittsburgh has been the measuring stick of this division the last couple of years and they’re loaded offensively. Which means Dalton will have to fight fire with fire and put up some big numbers to outgun the Steelers. Dalton’s 2017 stats were 3,320 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. Those totals needs to be around 4,200 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions in order for this offense to hit that next gear. It’s going to take every little bit of additional output on Dalton’s behalf to get three more wins this upcoming season. Ten wins should get the Bengals back in the playoffs and from there it’s all about putting together a run. Cincinnati also has to be cautious about the emerging Cleveland Browns. There’s no room for any letdowns against the upstart team from Northern Ohio. Dalton needs to avoid coming up short in the two trap games against Cleveland because that would be a huge dent in their quest to claim a wildcard spot. The bottom line heading into 2018 is Andy Dalton needs to play like his job depends on it because it very well might.

Charity of the day: Mercy Corps

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Malcolm Butler needs to put up a big season with the Titans if he wants to prove Bill Belichick made a mistake by betting against him:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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New Tennessee Titans Cornerback Malcolm Buter should have more motivation than ever to succeed. After being the Patriots number 1 coverage guy for the entire 2017 season Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick decided to bench Butler in the Super Bowl. We all know New England lost that game to Philadelphia and shortly after Butler was on his way to Nashville. Really this is just the beginning of Butler’s legacy though. Yea there was the great play against the Seahawks back in Super Bowl XLIX which resulted in Malcolm Butler becoming instantly famous. However the way Belichick treated Butler is going to be a huge chapter in his story because now we get to see how well the 28 year old responds to adversity? If Butler loses his job or becomes irrelevant then it’s going to seem like New England was smart for letting him walk away in free agency. The flip side of that coin is if Butler lights it up and records 5 or 6 interceptions for the season that will really highlight Belichick’s error of benching Butler. All the drama behind this situation makes it one of the more interesting stories in the NFL and the Patriots will travel to play the Tennessee Titans November 11th at Nissan Stadium. Expect there to be plenty of discussion about Belichick and Butler leading up to that contest. It will also be interesting to see if new Titans Head Coach Mike Vrabel go head to head with Bill Belichick because Vrabel used to play for New England. Clearly Vrabel will employ a lot of the tactics that Belichick uses in his own approach. So that should mean both sides will proficient x and os wise. Of course Butler will be the main character in everything that is playing out because he is the only person who will actually be on the field. You know Malcolm Butler has circled this game on his calendar and he’ll do everything he can to bring home a win for the Titans.

Charity of the day: International Peace Institute

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The Giants release Brandon Marshall and make room for signing Dez Bryant:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The New York Giants have decided to release 34 year old Wide Receiver Brandon Marshall after a lackluster 2017 season. Marshall recorded 18 receptions for 154 yards and 0 touchdowns before being placed on injured reserve due to a banged up ankle. While it’s unknown how much Marshall has left in the tank and whether or not he’ll walk away from football to focus solely on Showtime’s television show Inside the NFL? Marshall has stated that he won’t retire but it’s unlikely he’ll receive a lot of interest after putting together horrible stats over the past two years. The good news if you’re a Giants fan is this opens the door for the addition of Dez Bryant. Bryant has stated that New York is his preferred destination and General Manager Dave Gettleman took action to pave the way for that move. Dez Bryant has a lot more football left in him than Brandon Marshall does and the stats prove that. The former Cowboys receiver hauled in 838 yards and 6 receiving touchdowns last season. There was also points during the 2017 season when Bryant would showcase how athletically gifted he still is (just look at the photo above). There’s no doubt this guy will add a huge boost to the Giants offense opposite of Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard. Imagine how much Bryant is going to help Eli Manning too? Manning is tactical when throwing the football and Dez was probably watching that during all those Cowboys and Giants games thinking “that’s where I’m going if something happens.” Marshall also failed a physical which is going to save New York $5 million dollars in cap space. That money saved can be used to to add Bryant. This team is sitting around $14.5 million dollars in cap space available which could end up turning into two year deal for number 88 (Bryant).

Charity of the day: International Peace Institute

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If everything goes according to plan Shaq Lawson should be one of Buffalo’s better players next season:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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It’s been a slow start for third year Bills Defensive End Shaq Lawson after being one of the most dominant players in all of college football at Clemson. Lawson has somewhat struggled to find his stride in the National Football League recording 6 sacks in his first two seasons. Even though that’s not terrible Lawson’s expectations were certainly higher when he coming into the league. It felt like Shaq Lawson would have had at least 12 sacks by now but that just means he is a good player more so than a great one. Obviously we know the young Bills defender (Lawson) would like to change that and will do everything he can to get after the quarterback. Ultimately that production Lawson brings to the Bills is going to have a huge impact on whether or not this team can win games in 2018? We know Buffalo is coming off their first playoff appearance in 18 years which makes it clear Lawson has to dig deep and contribute a lot to keep this organization at the top of the AFC. There’s other franchises out there like the Chargers, Ravens, and Raiders who will all be clawing to get in. Luckily Lawson’s job is pretty straight forward all he has to do is focus on two stats. Those two categories are sacks and tackles for loss. By blowing plays up in the backfield regardless if they’re a run or pass plays the Bills will be able to limit opposing offenses and infuse their own sideline with momentum. It’s amazing how much that will energize Sean McDermott’s ball club and those type of plays will also end up having positive results in the wins column. With that being said Shaq Lawson should set a goal of at least 8 sacks for the 2018 season. By getting to that level he can begin to turn the page on his early failures and start to climb the ladder as one of the better pass rushers in the league.

Charity of the day: International Peace Institute

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With the draft one week away here is Endzoneblog.com’s 1st round predictions for all 32 teams:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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1. Browns – Sam Darnold
2. Giants – Bradley Chubb
3. Jets – Baker Mayfield
4. Browns – Saquon Barkley
5. Broncos – Quenton Nelson
6. Colts- Tremaine Edmunds
7. Buccaneers- Roquan Smith
8. Bears- Mike McGlinchey
9. 49ers- Derwin James
10. Raiders- Denzel Ward
11. Dolphins- Josh Rosen
12. Bills- Josh Allen
13. Redskins- Da’Ron Payne
14. Packers- Courtland Sutton
15. Cardinals- Vita Vea
16. Ravens- Calvin Ridley
17. Chargers- Taven Bryan
18. Seahawks- Billy Price
19. Cowboys- Isaiah Wynn
20. Lions- Joshua Jackson
21. Bengals- James Daniels
22. Bills- Minkah Fitzpatrick
23. Patriots- Jaire Alexander
24. Panthers- Marcus Davenport
25. Titans- Leighton Vander Esch
26. Falcons- Rashaan Evans
27. Saints- Lamar Jackson
28. Steelers- Maruice Hurst
29. Jaguars- D.J Moore
30. Vikings- Will Hernandez
31.Patriots- Kolton Miller
32. Eagles- Sony Michel

The big winners will be Sam Darnold going number 1 to the Cleveland Browns and Bradley Chubb going number 2 to the Giants. Tremaine Edmunds and Taven Bryan should also go a little bit sooner than expected.

The big losers of the draft are Saqun Barkley who once was considered the number 1 overall pick. Barkley will fall to 4 and then end up in Cleveland. Josh Allen is another player who could end up sliding due to his questionable accuracy. Finally Minkah Fitpatrick falls down the board and then ends up in Buffalo.

Charity of the day: Food and Water Watch

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The Raiders biggest weakness is the fact that they can’t get enough stops on defense. Expect Oakland to try to change that with this upcoming draft:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Everyone knows the Oakland Raiders offense is in good hands with Derek Carr, Marshawn Lynch, and Amari Cooper. Therefore the defense is the side of the ball that needs to be addressed in this upcoming draft. It feels like Oakland should pick a defender with their top two picks and a good haul would be Roquan Smith out of Georgia and Harrison Phillips from Stanford. General Manger Reggie McKenzie brought onboard Tahir Whitehead to solidify the linebackers a little bit. The combination of Bruce Irvin and Whitehead will definitely be a decent group as far as stopping the run goes. Now McKenzie and the front office should pick up Roquan Smith two put next to those other two guys. Suddenly that becomes a trio linebackers that have a ton of speed. You know Irvin, Whitehead, and Smith are going to cover a lot of ground and generate stops. Smith also has great instincts and was a Butkus Award winning player at the collegiate ranks. Which adds a high achiever to this defense and should help raise the excellence of that group collectively. Plus Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther has a nice blitz package and Smith will mesh perfectly into all of that. So it’s easy to see why Roquan Smith fits this team he has the speed to guard the pass and will be an above average rusher just like Irvin. From there the Raiders need to beef up the defensive line a bit to clog up some holes. Harrison Phillips is the ideal guy for that role and his 42 bench press reps of 225 pounds prove the former Cardinal standout has brute strength. Phillips has also put together some pretty good tape. When you plug in his film you notice that Harrison Phillips usually works a swim move to successfully get into the offensive backfield. Even though you can see that move is coming it’s much harder to stop when you’re on the field and trying to contain the talented defensive lineman. Together those abilities upfront (Phillips) would mesh with the speed behind him. Oakland should be able to keep some points off the board if they pursue these top defensive prospects and that’s going to be a recipe be for success.

Charity of the day: Food and Water Watch

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All eyes are on Derrick Henry after DeMarco Murray’s departure from Tennessee. Henry has the Titans backfield all to himself:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The past couple of seasons the Tennessee Titans have had Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray splitting offensive carriers but now Murray is no longer with the team. That opens the door for Henry to step up and carry the workload all by himself. The 23 year old (Henry) is heading into his third professional season and wants to crack the 1,000 rushing yards mark for the first time in his career. One thing that hurts Henry’s chances of doing that is Jack Conklin’s status. The Titans starting right tackle is recovering from surgery for a torn ACL. If Conklin isn’t up to up par then Henry will have a less talented offensive line upfront. Which means Henry himself will have to be even better. When you look at what Henry’s strengths are? You immediately begin to notice this is a 6 foot 3 inch 240 pound downhill runner who can flat out intimidate defenders. When Derrick Henry gets a head of steam and barrels through people that will strike fear in the Titans opponents. Anything that involves power Henry is going to excel at. Whether that’s a stiff arm or running up the middle and racking up the tough yardage this guy can handle it. We know know Head Coach Mike Vrabel has a defensive minded philosophy. Henry is almost the perfect back for that type of system because he can control the time of possession and keep Vrabel’s defense on the sidelines resting. That’s when the Titans will find themselves in more favorable circumstances. Then when this team gets down by the goal line there’s no doubt about who’s getting the football and Henry will covert often in those situations too. There’s going to be a lot of fans in Nashville wearing the number 22 Titans jersey this upcoming season. Derrick Henry has been a really good every step of the way leading up to the NFL and now it’s his time to have success at the pro level as well.

Charity of the day: Food and Water Watch

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Kenny Clark has been the perfect run stopping defensive tackle for Green Bay. The Packers have been much better upfront ever since Clark came onboard back in 2016:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Before the Green Bay Packers drafted Kenny Clark they were ranked 21st against the run back in 2015. Since then the Packers have finished 8th and 17th against the run so there has definitely been some improvement. Especially when you consider Aaron Rodgers was injured last season and therefore the offense had a lot of three and outs. Ultimately that kept the defense on the field much longer but when Rodgers returns the Packers defense will find themselves in a much better position to succeed. Regardless though Kenny Clark is going to do his part in the trenches. Clark recorded 55 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season which is pretty good for an interior defensive lineman. Now going into his third year of action Clark could take the next step and really start applying pressure. Keep in mind the former UCLA run stopper also plays the nose tackle position which is double teamed very frequently. To be able to withstand all that punishment and still put together quality stats shows the 22 year old (Clark) is a talented player. It’s not easy to thrive in those conditions but then again the 6’3 313 pound Clark has a physical advantage. Offensive lineman simply struggle to match up against the young Packer and that’s going to be something to keep an eye on this upcoming season. If Kenny Clark gets it going that means the linebackers behind him will be protected from offensive lineman who are trying to get to the next level. So it’s like a chain reaction when a defense can win at the line of scrimmage and Green Bay will have to get into the backfield if they want to create real chaos. Clark is a guy that can make that happen and the future is definitely bright for number 97 in Green and Yellow.

Charity of the day: Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

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Chicago’s running backs are some of the best around. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen are a tough duo to contain:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The NFC North is shaping up into one of the better conferences and Chicago is a team that seems to be getting things back on track. Last year people started to notice that the Bears were improving and it’s only a matter of time before they have a shot at a winning record. A lot of that is because of the stable running backs they have up there in the Windy City. The most notable of that bunch is the former Indiana University alum Jordan Howard. Howard is coming off back to back 1,000 yard seasons and has emerged as a marquee player in the National Football League. That was surprising considering Howard was drafted in 5th round but if you watched this guy play at UAB or after when he transferred to Indiana. The game film doesn’t lie Howard has a knack for making plays on the football field. Howard was All-Conference USA (2014) at UAB and then All Big Ten (2015) for the Hoosiers. He continued that great run by going to the Pro Bowl his rookie season (2016) and now Howard is on every defensive coordinator’s radar. The problem with trying to stop Chicago’s running game is they have another running back who can be very effective. That player is Tarik Cohen who also has a very strong football background. Cohen was the all time leading rusher in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference coming out of North Carolina A and T. Chicago thought very highly of Cohen and drafted him in the 4th round of the 2017 draft. It’s shocking that a 4th and 5th rounder eventually turned into one of the most formidable rushing attacks at the highest level of the game. Both ball carriers help control the time of possession for the Bears offense. Everything else seems to falls into place from there. Mitchell Trubisky has the luxury of handing the ball off to two very talented guys this upcoming season. Which can really wear down opposing defenses especially late in the game.

Charity of the day: Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

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Nick Foles made it clear he would like to become a starter again and he also acknowledged a trade would be the best move for him:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Philadelphia Eagles back up Quarterback Nick Foles has had name thrown around in trade negotiations all off-season and we finally got some clarity how Foles feels about all of this. Foles told a member of the Philadelphia Inquirer that he has heard about all the possible trades going on and “he would like to be a starter again.” Basically that gives the indication that Foles is willing to part ways with the Eagles if it means he gets to be some other team’s number 1 quarterback. This is significant because it shows even though Foles has outstanding character (which has been obvious in his effort to work with and develop Carson Wentz) he still wants to pursue his own path and go his own way. That’s part of being a professional when you get to this level and you’re working to establish yourself you almost become a like a hired gun going to the highest bidder. Nobody can blame Foles for wanting to move up the depth chart and truthfully he has earned the right to have those discussions. Nick Foles put the Philadelphia Eagles on his back and brought a Vince Lombardi Trophy home to the City of Brotherly Love. Foles also earned a Pro Bowl appearance (2013) the last time he was a full time starter which means all signs are pointing to the 29 year old being the real deal. There’s no doubt Howie Roseman and the rest of the Eagles front office would like to keep Nick Foles but at the same time if the price is right it’s very possible the talented signal caller could be exchanged for draft picks or even a player(s). We know if Foles has it his way that would happen sooner rather than later so we’ll see if Philly is willing to pull the trigger on a trade before they’re comfortable? Two possible destinations that come to mind are the Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawks. Pete Carroll already showed his cards when he made it clear he wanted to select Patrick Mahomes in the last draft. If Carroll brought onboard Foles he could then trade away Russell Wilson for a very high price (Wilson led the NFL with 34 passing TDs 2017). Wilson is a stats machine but his style of play isn’t ideal for NFL success. Mobile QBs don’t do too well in this league and that could compel Carroll to make a move especially since Wilson would yield some nice returns. The Colts are in a similar situation and they have already acquired a boatload of draft picks (9) after trading down in the 2018 draft with the Jets. If the Colts used two of the second round picks they have to pick up Foles. Indianapolis could then turn around and trade Andrew Luck and Jacoby Brissett. That’s going to put the Colts in a position where they have a brand new gunslinger to lead the Frank Reich era. Not only that but Indy would also have a lot of draft capital to build around Foles.

Charity of the day: Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

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