The New England Patriots can’t afford to lose another game and they play the undefeated Miami Dolphins this weekend. It’s been a while since Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have been in such dire straits:

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Sport Author: Jon Kuzma

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Losing two straight games is something that doesn’t happen very often in New England and that’s why things will really spiral out of control if the Pats lose three in a row. To make things even more challenging Bill Belichick’s team will take on the undefeated Miami Dolphins this weekend. Tom Brady will have to play better than he did against the Lions if he hopes to keep the ship afloat. Falling to 1-3 would be a lot of ground to make up and if the Patriots don’t make the playoffs we could see this whole organization disband. To be honest New England still might break up even if they win it all. Everyone knows Tom Brady seriously considered parting ways with Belichick due to the coaching staff preferring Jimmy Garoppolo over him. That insulted Brady and all off-season we’ve heard about the friction between both sides. You have to wonder if that’s played a role in the team’s regression? One other notable problem has definitely been the revolving door at the wide receiver position. The Patriots have signed and released several wide receivers (Eric Decker, Jordan Matthews, and Corey Coleman) and they haven’t been able to build any continuity. How is anyone supposed to master the rhythm and timing of the passing game if they aren’t getting any chance to develop chemistry with Brady? Look it’s easy to see that a lot of New England’s problems are starting to build up to a boiling point. Everything will be fine if they can pull out a win against Miami and you know they’re motivated after going through a rough two weeks. The problem is if things don’t go their way against the Dolphins then the media will come after Belichick and Brady like we haven’t seen in a very long time. There might even be some finger pointing too because we know both Belichick and Brady are on the cusp of airing out their grievances.

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New England can’t afford to lose another game or they’re going to be in a lot of trouble.

While some NFL evaluators were looking past Calvin Ridley’s talent. The Atlanta Falcons stayed true to their beliefs and took a shot on the former Alabama wide receiver. Now Ridley leads the league with 4 touchdown receptions:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Sometimes for whatever reason people are going to bet against you. We see it all the time throughout the draft process when NFL talent evaluators are playing favorites and boosting the stock of any players they personally prefer. It happened to Mike Evans when everyone put Sammy Watkins over him back in the 2014 draft. Then history repeated itself when D.J Moore was selected before Calvin Ridley. The problem with that whole situation is Calvin Ridley was hands down the best receiver in all of college football a season ago. People undervalued Ridley’s abilities after an average combine performance but all of those scouts forgot to plug in the tape and watch the 23 year old receiver operate. If they did that they would’ve seen a guy who has a knack for getting behind the secondary and those are the same skills were seeing on display with Atlanta. Calvin Ridley has been so good that he leads the entire NFL with 4 touchdown receptions. Obviously that has helped bolster this Falcons passing attack and think about all the weapons they have. Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Ridley are a trio of wide outs who can get into the end zone three or four times a game. At some point Ridley is going to be the top guy of that bunch if he keeps catching touchdowns at such a high rate. Jones has always been the one who received all the attention but Ridley is starting to make a name for himself. The real winner is Matt Ryan because this a very quarterback friendly situation to be in. One of those three players is going to get it open and if not they can usually make something happen in a one on one situation. Calvin Ridley in particular has shown that early on and good things tend to happen when a rookie starts their career off so strong.

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Carlos Hyde came to a deflated Cleveland Browns team and helped them change the culture. Hyde has been one of the biggest free agent acquisitions of the past off-season:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Playing running back in the National Football League is one of the toughest things to do. Not only does is take a level of athleticism that is second to none. Ball carriers in pro football also have to endure a ton of big hits and contact on just about every single play. Luckily for Cleveland they have a player who has been holding up well under those circumstances. In fact Carlos Hyde has actually flourished since joining the Browns and there’s no doubt he’s been one of the biggest free agent acquisitions of the past off-season. Kirk Cousins has somewhat underachieved so far with the Vikings while Hyde is in the process of turning around Cleveland. With 203 rushing yards and a league leading 4 touchdowns Carlos Hyde is a guy who can carry a huge portion of the offensive responsibility on his shoulders. We all know it’s a long season and Hue Jackson must do his best to keep Baker Mayfield healthy. That’s why the Browns should rely on Carlos Hyde’s legs as the primary attack. Hyde is such a good football player and he’ll only get better with an increased workload. Myles Garrett and the defense are going to do their job. By running the ball more it’ll control the time of possession and keep Cleveland’s defense well rested. All of those tactics can end up being the difference between winning and losing games. A lot of teams have gotten away from that gritty style of the play but so many Super Bowl champions have won it all with those methods. Everyone wants to pass these days and have an offense that is appealing to the fan base but it drifts away from the fundamentals of the game. Carlos Hyde is this organization’s chance to implement a ground and pound mentality. It’s been such a long time since the Browns have had that opportunity and it’s one they should seriously consider heading into the next thirteen games.

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The Browns were deflated before Carlos Hyde arrived but now they’re turning their luck around.

Pittsburgh had their backs against the wall coming into week three but they finally got their first win of the season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Steelers came out on top 30-27:

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Sport Author: Jon Kuzma

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Ben Roethlisberger knew the Steelers had to respond to all of the adversity they faced early on in the season and the Pittsburgh quarterback started off the game hot against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Roethlisberger had 3 touchdowns and nearly 300 passing yards in the first half alone. That was too much for the Buccaneers to overcome but they definitely made it close. Tampa Bay’s defense shut out the Steelers in the third and fourth quarters. Ryan Fitzpatrick rallied Tampa Bay within 3 points but they couldn’t catch the breaks they needed at the end. Roethlisberger threw for 353 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception in the win. Vance McDonald had huge night too he hauled in 112 receiving yards and 1 touchdown. JuJu Smith-Schuster was the other notable Pittsburgh receiver he finished with 116 yards. Antonio Brown and Ryan Switzer also caught touchdowns and it was a great night for the Pittsburgh offense. Tampa Bay was led by Ryan Fitzpatrick who threw for 441 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Fitzpatrick was the first NFL player to throw for 400 yards in three straight games. Mike Evans was the Bucs top receiver with 137 yards and 1 touchdown. Chris Godwin and Cameron Brate also found the end zone at one point or another (Both throws were from Fitzpatrick). Defensively Bud Dupree led the way for the black and yellow with 3 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 interception that he returned for a touchdown. Mike Hilton and Terrell Edmunds also picked off Fitzpatrick and helped the Steelers get out in front early in the game. Jason Pierre-Paul was solid for the Buccaneers he recorded 5 tackles, 2 sacks, and 1 forced fumble. The other notable defender was Lavonte David he had a team high of 9 tackles. Give Mike Tomlin and the Steelers credit for persevering through that rough patch over the first two weeks. Obviously they couldn’t afford to lose and now they’ll have a shot at turning things around. The Bucs on the other hand will have to regroup and decide if they should stick with Ryan Fitzpatrick for the rest of the year? Based off everything we’ve seen from Fitzpatrick there’s no way Tampa Bay can turn the page on him. Jameis Winston will have to stay in a back up role until Fitzpatrick losses the job.

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Pittsburgh played well against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They got a head early and never looked back.

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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