New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas is a match up nightmare for defenders. Teams are outgunned before they even step out on the field:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Most football fans like back and forth action and that’s why the Saints and Falcons week three game was the perfect event for spectators. Drew Brees and Matt Ryan combined for 10 touchdowns but there was one other star who really deserves some recognition. That player was Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas and boy what a year he’s having. Thomas leads the entire NFL with 398 yards and he’s clearly not the easiest receiver to line up against. Defensive backs are better off playing soft coverage on Thomas and trying to minimize his output but people want to go head up with him. That hasn’t went well for anyone and at some point team’s have to concede to Thomas and admit that they can’t guard this guy. Give up the underneath stuff and try to takeaway any big plays. To be fair though no matter what coverage teams run against Michael Thomas he’s going to end up winning that battle. He’s just physically superior than those undersized cornerbacks and Thomas’ ball skills are second to none. It takes extreme concentration in order to haul in those passes when a defender is trying to take your head off. Michael Thomas has show he can do that as well as anyone and now the former 2nd round pick is challenging Antonio Brown for the title of best receiver in the NFL. Brown has been the best but Thomas is emerging faster than anyone we’ve seen in a very long time. For the 2018 season there’s no doubt Thomas has been better and you have to wonder if there’s a passing of the torch going on? Michael Thomas is doing everything he can to seize the throne and he very well could wind up the receiving champion (most receiving yards). Playing with the future Hall of Famer Drew Brees doesn’t hurt either but Thomas has worked hard to be the number one pass catcher in New Orleans and it’s been a lot of fun to watch him dominate on Sundays.

Charity of the day: Operation USA

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Michael Thomas has been playing at such a high level lately. Defensive backs are outgunned before they even step on the field.

Clutch performance: New England had no answer for Kerryon Johnson. Detroit’s rookie running back ran hard all night and led the Lions to a 26-10 upset.

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The last time the Detroit Lions had a 100 yard rusher it was 2013 and Kerryon Johnson was still in high school. Luckily though the Lions had Johnson in their line up against the New England Patriots and boy did the rookie showcase his talents. Johnson ran hard on every snap showing off impressive footwork and spectacular ball carrier vision. The 2017 SEC Offensive Player of the Year (Johnson) was patient when he needed to be but also a downhill runner at times. It’s the combination of speed and power which makes this guy such a unique running back and it appears the Lions have a star. Johnson had 16 carries and produced 101 yards for Detroit’s offense. New England struggled to contain him and that was one of the key story lines in this match up. The other was Matthew Stafford’s big day. Stafford outplayed Tom Brady and really tilted the odds in Matt Patricia’s team’s favor. When the final whistle blew Stafford had thrown for 262 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay were on the receiving end of each of Stafford’s touchdown passes. Jones finished the night with 69 yards while Golladay had 53 yards. The Lions defense was led by Eli Harold who recorded 3 tackles and 2 sacks. Darius Slay had a clutch interception late in the game to seal the victory and New England didn’t get the best night from Brady. The future Hall of Famer threw for 133 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. That one TD was to James White on a halfback fade out of the backfield. Outside of that there wasn’t much going on. Rob Gronkowski hauled in 51 receiving yards and Sony Michel rushed for 50 yards. Defensively this organization wasn’t much better. Duron Harmon was the top defender for the Patriots he went for 8 tackles. Ja’Whaun Bentley also contributed 5 tackles and an interception in a losing effort. Detroit gets their first win of the season and Matt Patricia does it against his former team. As far as New England goes they need to regroup after two straight losses because they are falling apart right before our eyes. You have to wonder if the culture is toxic in Foxborough?

Charity of the day: Guttmacher Institute

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Clutch Performance: Kerryon Johnson ran hard on all sixteen of the hand-offs he got and that’s exactly why the Lions beat New England.

Sports Page: The Bears are clicking and it’s because their defense keeps coming up big

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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First the Chicago Bears played a tough game against the Green Bay Packers and just barely came up short 24-23. Then Chicago got it together against the Seattle Seahawks and won that contest 24-17. Now the Bears earn their second straight win by beating the Arizona Cardinals 16-14. After reviewing that score it’s evident that the defense is the underlining factor in all of this team’s success. Matt Nagy is a great offensive minded coach but Mitchell Trubisky has struggled to put up points. Luckily though Khalil Mack and the rest of the guys on the defensive side of the ball have picked up the slack. Mack led the way against Arizona with 5 tackles, 2 sacks, and 1 forced fumble. Akiem Hicks played well too he finished with 4 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble. The Bears also had three players record an interception and those defenders were Eddie Jackson, Bryce Callahan, and Sherrick McManis. So it was great night for this group and if they keep playing like this anything is possible. Trubisky on the other hand has to be better moving forward. The Bears quarterback threw for 220 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Chicago should also make sure Jordan Howard is the focal point of their offense. Howard ran for 61 yards and 1 touchdown but this was the first game they gave him more than 20 hand-offs. Nagy has to trust his top ball carrier and try to control the time of possession in order take pressure of Trubisky. It’s not how the Bears want to play but it’s going to give them better results. On the opposite sideline Sam Bradford started things off red hot for the Cardinals. Bradford threw for 2 touchdowns early on but he fell apart with 2 interceptions in the second half. When it all said and done he finished with 157 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Christian Kirk had a big day for Arizona’s offense. Kirk hauled in 90 receiving yards and proved he can handle a decent workload. Budda Baker was the defensive standout for Steve Wilks’ unit he finished the night with 10 tackles and half a sack. Tre Boston was also very effective with 7 tackles and 1 interception. Josh Rosen did make an appearance late in the 4th quarterback but he was quickly intercepted by Callahan. Ultimately that was the nail in Arizona’s coffin and the rest is history.

Charity of the day: Guttmacher Institute

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Sports Page: Khalil Mack is turning the Bears into an elite football team.

Championship caliber football? The Los Angeles Rams are the best team in the league and it’s not even close:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Everyone knew the Los Angeles Rams were one of the most improved teams in the league but they could be even better than most people expected. Wade Phillips and the defense have only surrendered 13 points throughout the first two games and you can’t beat this team if you can’t score. Phillips can dial up any kind of blitz he can think of because the secondary will excel in man to man coverage. Marcus Peters proved that when he intercepted a Derek Carr pass and returned it for a touchdown in week one. Sam Shields, Cory Littleton, and John Johnson have all recorded interceptions as well. Maybe the most surprising thing about this defense is the fact that neither Aaron Donald nor Ndamuking Suh have registered a sack. Michael Brockers and Samson Ebukman are the only two Rams defensive lineman to take down the quarterback but those guys are still collapsing the pocket on every single play. It’s just tougher for Donald and Suh to get into the backfield because LA uses a 3-4 scheme and those two defenders are often double teamed. Give it time though and the sacks will eventually come. Phillips also has to be happy with his group’s performance against the Arizona Cardinals. Very rarely do you see an NFL team get shut out but the Rams were able to put the clamps on Sam Bradford and that offense. Obviously that isn’t a good sign for the other teams in the league and Los Angeles will probably shut out someone else too. We all know defense wins championships therefore the Rams are the favorite to win the Super Bowl. To be honest it’s not just their defense either. They have the ability to rack up points quickly with Sean McVay calling the plays and Todd Gurley carrying the load. Jared Goff is also getting better which proves there’s a lot of great things happening for this organization. Put your money on the Rams they have too much talent and it’ll be a let down if they don’t win it all.

Charity of the day: Food and Water Watch

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The Los Angeles Rams are playing championship caliber football and that’s not good for all the other teams in the league.

People are waiting for Deshaun Watson to put up numbers like he did last year. Watson is still getting up to speed after a knee injury but it’s only a matter of time before he catches fire:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Deshaun Watson took the NFL by storm last year by throwing for 19 touchdowns in his first seven games. All of that success came crashing down when Watson tore his ACL in practice but fans shouldn’t lose too much hope yet. Even though Deshaun Watson is building up his confidence when its comes to his knee and playing in game situations. There was one good sign last week for Houston’s quarterback (Watson) and that was the results he produced against Tennessee. After only throwing for 176 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception in week one against the Patriots. Watson bounced back and threw for 310 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interceptions against the Titans. That’s quite a bit of progression from game one to game two and that trend is a positive indication for the Texans heading into a match up again the Giants. Dak Prescott was able to post a QB rating of 95.4 against the G-men and Watson is much more gifted passer. The former Clemson signal caller is also going to improve as the season goes on. Every rep in practice starts to add up over time and each contest also serves as an opportunity for development. So there’s a lot of factors that are working in Watson’s favor and he’s just shaking off the rust right now. Once the second year QB gets up to speed he’ll start to look like the guy that was a level above everybody else. The achievements Watson has had in the past are because he is exceptional at reading the defense. Tom Brady is often respected for being cerebral but Watson is no slouch either. He knows how to make decisions off of pre-snap alignments and he can manipulate defensive backs with his eyes. Add in exceptional arm talent and you have a player who can be a touchdown machine. Don’t be surprised when Deshaun Watson gets everything back on track and that’s exactly what the Texans need because they’re 0-2 at the moment.

Charity of the day: Food and Water Watch

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Buccaneers fans haven’t had a lot to cheer for in the last decade. Tampa Bay hasn’t made the playoffs since 2007 but this is their best chance to break the streak:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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When people think about Tampa Bay Buccaneers football usually Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy come to mind. They’re two of the organization’s pioneers and certainly a part of the Buccaneers brand. However despite some of those past successes Tampa Bay has really struggled over the last 10 years. That’s why this 2018 campaign is so important for this franchise because Ryan Fitzpatrick has them sitting right where they need to be. There’s still a lot of football left but Tampa Bay has a 2-0 record and their in the best possible situation for them. From here it’s about taking it one game at a time and putting all their focus on their next opponent. That will be the Pittsburgh Steelers this Monday on prime-time television. Everyone is going to be watching Fitzpatrick to see whether or not this offense is the real deal? Fitzpatrick leads the entire NFL with 819 passing yards and DeSean Jackson has been on the receiving end of most of those passes. Jackson led all receivers in the league through the first two games. He has 275 yards up to this point and defensive backs struggle to match up with Jackson’s speed. If that wasn’t enough to get people in West Florida excited Vita Vea is also returning from a calf injury. So things are definitely looking up for this ball club and the biggest goal for them has to be the ten game mark. If the Buccaneers can win eight more games then they’re going to wind up in the playoffs. Of course they play in the brutal NFC South which means things won’t be easy by any means. Every game in that division is a grudge match and there are no bad teams. Ultimately it’s going to come down to Ryan Fitzpatrick and how consistent can he be? This team can’t turn the reins over to Jameis Winston if Fitzpatrick keeps lighting it up. Tampa Bay will be tempted though if Fitzpatrick starts to lose. It’s a pressure cooker situation for the Bucs current starting quarterback (Fitzpatrick). Up to this point he’s handled that adversity remarkably well.

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The last decade has been rough for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Total defeat. The Arizona Cardinals are already in ruins just two games into the season:

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Things haven’t got off to a good start for the Arizona Cardinals. They’ve only scored six points over their first two games and Sam Bradford hasn’t even come close to living up to his $20M dollar contract. Without competent play at the quarterback position the Cardinals are essentially a wounded bird. That’s also having a negative impact on the team’s running game. David Johnson can’t get anything going either. Johnson has recorded 85 rushing yards and 1 touchdown for the season. Still though it seems like Arizona should just keep handing the ball off if Bradford can’t create anything through the air. You have to go with the game plan that gives your team a chance to win. Sam Bradford can’t threaten anyone deep anymore so Steve Wilks should hand the ball off 25 or 30 times a game. It’s not going to be a pretty offense but it’ll be better than what they have going on right now. The other big concern is Larry Fitzgerald is losing motivation. Fitzgerald left the last game with an hamstring injury and he probably feels like he’s wasting his time. What value does a wide receiver have when the QB can’t get him the ball? Not very much and at some point this team has to look at other options. Mike Glennon isn’t going to play much better than Bradford so it might already be Josh Rosen time in the desert. To be honest the defense has been pretty awful as well. Head Coach Steve Wilks is supposed to be a defensive minded coach but Arizona has been outscored 58-6. Therefore there’s problems in every phase of the game for the Cardinals and that’s why this team is already at a breaking point. Morale can’t be high in that locker room and it’s only a matter of time before the fans start losing interest too. Owner Bill Bidwill may have a crisis on his hands if things continue to spiral out of control. Which means some tough decisions will have to be made.

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The Arizona Cardinals are facing total defeat after just two games.

Baker Mayfield to the rescue! The Browns rookie quarterback leads Cleveland to a 21-17 come from behind victory over the Jets:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The New York Jets jumped out to an early 14-0 lead over the Cleveland Browns in a Thursday Night Football showdown. Tyrod Taylor and the Browns offense couldn’t get anything going early on and Hue Jackson ultimately realized it was time to cut Baker Mayfield loose. Mayfield completed three out of his first four passes and led the Browns to a field goal on his first drive. However most of Mayfield’s magic came in the second half. Cleveland’s rookie quarterback rallied this ball club to 18 points over the next two quarters. Meanwhile Greg Williams and the Browns defense did their job only allowing the Jets to score 3 points the rest of the game. Mayfield’s heroics will go down in history as the beginning of his legacy. Remember Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold were the top two quarterbacks coming out of college this past draft and Mayfield stole the night with his pinpoint accuracy. From the get go number 6 (Mayfield) was looking for Jarvis Landry and targeting his top receiver on just about every play. That’s exactly what Cleveland needs to keep this offense churning and the results were much more offensive production. The Jets on the other hand let the game slip away and one of the main reasons why is because they went away from Isaiah Crowell. Crowell had 2 touchdowns in the first half but later on New York’s coaching staff put all the responsibility on Darnold’s shoulder’s instead. They should’ve of stuck with the running game because they had something going for them. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case though. The top performers for Cleveland were Mayfield who went 17/23 for 201 yards. Carlos Hyde had a big night as well he rushed for 98 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jarvis Landry cracked the 100 yards receiving mark he ended up with 103 when it was all said and done. Sam Darnold was overwhelmed in his second straight contest. He threw for 169 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. While Quincy Enunwa was the Jets best receiver with 57 yards. On the defensive side of things the Browns were led by Myles Garrett who had 3 tackles, 2 sacks, and 2 TFLs. Terrance Mitchell had 5 tackles and clinched the win with an interception. New York’s defense kept them alive for most the game but they couldn’t hold off Baker Mayfield’s comeback. The Jets got a big night from Avery Williamson he had 14 tackles. 1.5 sacks. and 1 TFL. Darron lee was tough as well he tallied up 7 tackles and 2 TFLs. Cleveland can now open their victory fridge which is a celebration of their first win since 2016. It was a great night to be a part of the dog pound.

Charity of the day: JDRF International

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The Browns were in trouble but Baker Mayfield came to the rescue. This was a huge first game for Mayfield’s legacy.

The Indianapolis Colts hit the jackpot when they drafted Darius Leonard in the 2nd round. First Leonard won a starting job as a rookie and now he’s the AFC Defensive Player of the Week:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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It’s no secret that the Indianapolis Colts are starting to turn their luck around. Things took a turn for the better when the Colts selected Frank Reich to be their head coach. Then the Colts traded down in the draft and acquired several picks. All that was followed up by Andrew Luck’s return from injury. One thing that also has to be added to that list though is outside linebacker Darius Leonard. The former South Carolina State alum was drafted in the 2nd round (2018) by the Colts and he’s been an elite player from the moment he’s stepped on the field. In fact Leonard has been so good the NFL named him the AFC Defensive Player of the Week after a strong performance against the Washington Redskins. During that match up Darius Leonard was everywhere recording 19tackles, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble. Leonard also leads the entire league with 28 tackles for the season. When you average 14 tackles per game people are going to notice the impact you’re having for your team. We could be witnessing one of the next great defenders emerge right before our eyes. It’s awesome to watch someone go from an unknown out of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference to someone who’s dominating at the highest levels of the sport. Leonard is on the cusp of evolving from a very good football player to a flat-out superstar and that’s going to come with international recognition. More importantly though Darius Leonard is helping the Colts clamp down on opposing offenses. By surrendering very little Indianapolis has a chance to keep contests close and that puts Andrew Luck in a position to work his magic late in the game. It’s easy to see that’s a winning formula and this franchise is starting to move beyond their past struggles. To keep that good momentum going Leonard in particular has to keep raising the bar and willing this defense towards their goals. At the moment though there’s no denying the fact that Darius Leonard has overachieved every step of the way.

Charity of the day: JDRF International

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Indianapolis hit the jackpot with Darius Leonard. The rookie 2nd round draft pick has been anchoring  the Colts defense.

Jimmy Garoppolo got all the credit for the 49ers success at the end of last season but now it’s DeForest Buckner who is keeping San Francisco afloat:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Everyone raved about Jimmy Garoppolo when the San Francisco 49ers finished their 2018 season with five straight wins. However it’s Deforest Buckner who is keeping this team in the hunt now. The 49ers haven’t been great defensively but if you take Buckner out of their line up then everything would completely unravel. Reuben Foster has been sidelined with a suspension too so Buckner really had to step up during Foster’s absence. The result was a closely contested match up against the Vikings and a win over the Lions. That’s impressive because the 49ers still have portions of their roster they have to fill out. Adding two wide receivers is definitely a priority and there’s some work to be done in the secondary as well. Despite all of that there’s one constant Kyle Shanahan can count on and that’s Buckner’s ability to rush the quarterback. At 6’7” 300 pounds the former first round pick is physically superior than most offensive lineman. Buckner is relentless in his pursuit and eventually he always finds a way to break free into the offensive backfield. He’s also very well equipped with a variety of different techniques including rips, swims, and a bull rush. This guy can lower his head and drive those blockers back into the QB’s lap. What that does is it allows those linebackers to flow and make tackles. Deforest Bucker also helps the secondary because he cuts down on his opponent’s time to throw the football. Ultimately that creates ill-advised decisions and errant passes. From there the 49ers defensive backs have to capitalize on those mistakes and creates some turnovers. Lets be honest Jimmy Garoppolo will always get a lot of the spotlight because he’s one of the highest paid players in all football but it’s time Buckner gets a little bit of love. Buckner the one who is picking up the slack and grinding out wins for this franchise. Over the first two games there’s no doubt he’s been San Francisco’s MVP.

Charity of the day: Bob Woodruff Family Foundation

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DeForest Buckner is keeping the 49ers afloat while Jimmy Garoppolo has been so-so.

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