It feels like the Ravens will end up getting in the playoffs over the Bills, Baltimore has a much easier schedule the next two weeks:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Baltimore Ravens are currently one spot out off the playoffs but don’t count out John Harbaugh’s team just yet. Baltimore will face the Colts and Bengals the last two games and that’s much easier than who the Bills will face (Patriots and Dolphins). The Colts and Bengals have combined for 8 wins this season while the Patriots and Dolphins have combined for 17 wins. So Buffalo’s upcoming opponents have more than doubled the winning output compared to the teams Baltimore will face. Another key component the next two contests will be how well Baltimore’s defense plays? The Ravens are a top 10 unit in a number of defensive rankings and that group will have to live up to expectations to will this team down the stretch. That means guys like C.J Mosley and Terrell Suggs have to play their best football and avoid any letdowns. The Colts will be a little bit easier to stop but the Bengals do pose a threat with Andy Dalton. You know Harbaugh is preaching execution to his guys and doing all he can to keep his players focused. On the offensive side of the ball the purple and black need two big games from Joe Flacco. The veteran quarterback has really struggled this year throwing for 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Flacco has also compiled a lackluster QB rating of 79.1. Tom Brady currently has a rating of 104 so the gap between an elite player like Brady and Flacco is pretty significant. Regardless of that though if Joe Flacco can put together a little magic like he did during the Ravens’ 2013 Super Bowl winning run. That would be the spark plug this team needs to pull a late season upset and steal that last playoff spot away from Buffalo. It certainly won’t be easy because every week in the NFL is a dog fight but expect things to play out this way once the regular season comes to an end.

Charity of the day: American Humane

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Chandler Jones has racked up 15 sacks this season, that’s more than anyone else in the NFL:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Arizona Cardinals are having a below average season but luckily this team has a bright spot in Outside Linebacker Chandler Jones. Jones has compiled 15 sacks this year and that’s more than anybody else in pro football. Calais Campbell and Demarcus Lawrence are very close to Jones with 14.5 and 13.5 sacks. However you have to believe that the 27 year old Cardinals LB is going stay hot and become the 2017 sack champion. Jones records over 10 sacks almost every single year but this season he has raised the bar for his own standards. Vic Beasley led the NFL in 2016 with 15.5 sacks so it’s possible Jones tops that by 2 or 3. It couldn’t have been easy for Chandler Jones to be traded to Arizona after playing for New England. The culture surrounding those two teams are completely different but the veteran pass rusher seems to be making the most out of his time in the desert. Arizona finally has an identity again after adding Adrian Peterson and several other young prospects. This team will need Chandler Jones to come out and give a repeat performance next year because the Cardinals will have a shot at a winning season in 2018. Especially if Arizona can continue to upgrade their defense and find a couple more wide receivers on offense. If you’re Steve Keim you have to be thinking about adding the best defensive lineman you can to the mix. Chandler Jones is the only player on this roster that produced over 5 sacks and having a marquee defensive end would sure go a long way. Swinging a deal and getting Bradley Chubb would be a dream come true for the Cardinals. Chubb and Jones would give this franchise a defensive tandem that could eventually compare to Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Keim should roll the dice and do everything he can to make that happen.

Charity of the day: Environmental Defense Action Fund

Go donate! www.edfaction.org

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It’s been a great week for Darius Slay not only does he lead the league in interceptions, Slay was also voted to the Pro Bowl:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Detroit Lions Cornerback Darius Slay has been playing outstanding football all season and finally his accomplishments are gaining recognition. Slay had two picks in his last game against the Bears and that gave him the most interceptions for any player in the National Football League with 7. If that wasn’t impressive enough Darius Slay was also nominated to his first Pro Bowl recently which is a great reflection of the 5th year cornerback’s game. Detroit was able to land a marquee talent when they drafted Slay in the 2nd round of the 2013 Draft and everything you’re seeing this guy do now is exactly what the Lions were hoping for. Now with only two weeks remaining in the season this team will do everything they can to win out and get to the postseason. The Bengals and Packers are the last two teams Detroit will face so it’s up to Glover Quin and Darius Slay to make as many big plays they can on the back end. In hopes of elevating this team above the Atlanta Falcons for that last wildcard spot in the NFC. During that time Slay will have to create turnovers left and right in hopes of holding off A.J Bouye, Kevin Byard, and Eric Weddle for the most interceptions. Andy Dalton will definitely present some opportunities for Slay this weekend, the Bengals love to throw the ball and that’s going to give the Lion’s secondary a chance to shine. Keep an eye on Darius Slay and whether or not he is able to get his hands on a few more passes? It takes a lot of factors for an interception to actually happen and for the defensive back who makes the plays it’s all about responding when the throw comes your way. So far nobody in football has been better than Darius Slay when it comes to defending his side of the field.

Charity of the day: Environmental Defense Action Fund

Go donate! www.edfaction.org

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Falcons get a big NFC South win over the Buccaneers and improve to 9-5 on the season:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Atlanta Falcons playoffs dreams seem to becoming true after the Dirty Birds beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24-21. Matt Ryan was outplayed by Jameis Winston in this match but somehow the Falcons were still able to win the game. Ryan threw for 212 yards, 1 touchdown, and no interceptions in what would go on to be a good night for Atlanta. Devonta Freeman was sensational in this contest as well the Falcons running back rushed for 126 yards and 1 touchdown. Freeman also led Dan Quinn’s team with 68 receiving yards so it was a big night all around for the twenty five year old out of Florida State. Jameis Winston put up 299 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions playing a much better game than he did a week ago against Detroit. Unfortunately the Buccaneers came up short but if Winston can keep playing like this their luck will turn around sooner or later. Mike Evans hauled in 79 yards and 1 touchdown in Tampa Bay’s aerial attack. Adam Humphries and O.J Howard both caught touchdowns too so it was definitely a good night for this team’s passing game. Deion Jones was Atlanta’s top defender he contributed 9 stops for the night. Takk Mckinley chipped in 1 tackle, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble as well. Kwon Alexander was everywhere for the Bucs defensive unit. Alexander finished the game with 13 tackles which led Tampa Bay. Chris Conte had a solid performance also he chalked up 6 tackles and 1 forced fumble. It appears the Falcons are going back to the postseason which is big news considering this team was 3-3 at the end off week 7. Since then though the defense has tightened up and the offense has slowly improved. The combination of those two things are inching this team towards the playoffs and the Falcons will finish off their season against the Saints / Panthers in their final two games.

Charity of the day: Environmental Defense Action Fund

Go donate! www.edfaction.org

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Eli Manning was the best quarterback in all of football this past weekend, it’s clear the Giants got it wrong when they benched him:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The New York Giants recently benched Eli Manning and it seemed like the veteran quarterback was taking the fall for all of New York’s problems. Since that happened the Giants have fired Head Coach Ben McAdoo and General Manager Jerry Reese. Those two moves paved the way for new leadership for Big Blue and interim coach Steve Spagnuolo immediately inserted Manning back in the starting line up. Well it’s clear Eli Manning has responded positively to being renamed the starter because he was the best quarterback in all of football this past weekend. Manning threw for an impressive 434 yards, 3 touchdowns, and only 1 interception against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants ended up losing 34-29 but it was evident that Eli Manning was not the problem for this team. Instead New York has to improve the other areas of this roster and that starts with their 32nd ranked defense. If the Giants can’t get stops they shouldn’t expect to compete with the other teams in the league. So to blame Manning when this team also has these defensive problems is really an unfortunate occurrence. New York should be begging this guy to stick around and play QB for them. Even though Eli Manning’s career is winding down he is still much more competent than most of the other signal callers in the league. It’s pretty clear that if the Giants don’t respect Manning’s capabilities some other team in the NFL will. Could you imagine how much worse things would get for New York if they had to watch the guy who won them two Super Bowls strap it up for another team? That’s something the Mara family should want to avoid at all costs and it’s at a breaking point for this organization. The moves this franchise makes moving forward will determine whether or not they improve or regress? 2017 has already been a black eye for this franchise we will see if they can get things back on track this off-season?

Charity of the day: Environmental Defense Action Fund

Go donate! www.edfaction.org

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Cowboys hold off the Raiders to win Sunday Night Football 20-17, Dallas will get Ezekiel Elliott back next week:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Dallas Cowboys took on the Oakland Raiders last night on Sunday Night Football and it was the Cowboys who persevered in the end. Dak Prescott struggled throwing the football tossing two interceptions and not one touchdown pass. Prescott did put up 212 yards through the air but it wasn’t the second year QBs best offensive performance by any means. Fortunately for Jason Garrett’s team Prescott was able to rush for one touchdown and that was big considering Dallas only scored 20 points. Alfred Morris led the Cowboys in rushing yards with 61 yards, there wasn’t a lot of scoring in this contest but Jerry Jones organization did make more plays when it was all said and done. Derek Carr actually played really well for the Raiders throwing for 171 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Carr did have one huge blunder late in the game though when he fumbled into the end zone and the play got ruled a touchback. Ultimately that cost Oakland the game and will pretty much crush the Silver and Black’s playoff hopes. Marshawn Lynch did run hard against a tough Dallas defense, Beast Mode racked up 76 yards. Michael Crabtree had a huge day in the passing game he brought in 2 touchdowns for the Raiders. If Oakland didn’t lose that fumble in the 4th quarter this game could have been completely different. You could feel the frustration Jack Del Rio’s ball club was feeling on that play. It’s something they’ve had to suffer through all season especially since this team was a playoff contender last year. The Cowboys on the other had rose to the occasion and kept their postseason hopes alive. That’s good news considering Ezekiel Elliott will be back next game. There’s a lot of good momentum surrounding this franchise and Elliott seems to have turned up his training regimen during his suspension. The former Ohio State alum looks prepared to make a splash in his return and it will come at the perfect time for this football team.

Charity of the day: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Go donate! www.lls.org

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The Los Angeles Rams hang 42 points on the Seattle Seahawks and take a commanding lead in the NFC West:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Rams and Seahawks met up for an NFC West clash and it was the Rams who walked away with a 42-7 victory. Todd Gurley led the way for Los Angeles with 152 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Gurley also caught a receiving touchdown so it it was an electric 4 touchdown performance for the third year running back. Robert Woods had a decent day catching the ball for the Rams too he hauled in 45 receiving yards and 1 touchdown reception. Russell Wilson struggled in the loss for Seattle. Wilson threw for 142 yards, 1 touchdown, and no interceptions the lack of scoring really hurt the Seahawks. Luke Wilson did grab a touchdown reception for Pete Carroll’s team but not one player went over 100 yards in the rushing or receiving categories. The lack of offensive output and the nonexistent defense ultimately doomed the team from the state of Washington. It looks like LA will run away with this division and what a year it’s been for Sean McVay. The Rams had the worst offense in all of football in 2016, now with McVay at the helm this team is the highest scoring offense in the entire NFL. That drastic improvement is because McVay allows Goff to be himself. What that means is Goff is able to operate out of the shotgun more frequently and do what he is best at. The other main thing McVay did was unleash Todd Gurley. Those two adjustments have helped completely turn around the Rams organization which has been a lot of fun to watch. With Carson Wentz out for the season with a knee injury the Eagles aren’t the threat they were for most the season. That opens the door for Goff and the Rams who will be a serious contenders when the playoffs begin.

Charity of the day: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Go donate! www.lls.org

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Kansas City Chiefs stay on top of the AFC West by beating the Los Angeles chargers 30-13:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Chiefs needed to beat the Chargers in order to maintain control of the AFC West division and luckily for Kansas City they were able to get it done. Alex Smith was very sharp in this match up throwing for 231 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Smith was also able to complete 23 passes out of 30 passing attempts for an impressive 76%. That set the tone for this offense and the rest of Andy Reid’s players followed suit. Kareem Hunt had a dominant performance on the ground for Kansas City, Hunt rushed for 155 yards and 1 touchdown. The rookie running back (Hunt) managed to bring in 1 receiving touchdown and 56 yards through the air as well. Tyreek Hill was the top wide out for the Chiefs he brought in 5 receptions for 88 yards and 1 touchdown. Chiefs Kingdom had to be happy with the big outing against such a hot team. Philip River struggled for Los Angeles he threw for 227 yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 interceptions. Usually the Chargers QB overwhelms NFL defenses but the Chiefs had his number in this one. Melvin Gordon was the bring spot for this team tallying up 78 yards and 1 touchdown for the Bolts rushing attack. Gordon racked up 91 receiving yards too so it was a huge night for him. Antonio Gates caught the Chargers only passing touchdown it was the 86th time Rivers and Gates connected for a TD. On the defensive side of the ball Derrick Johnson led KC with 6 tackles. While Marcus Peters was stellar in coverage he recorded 3 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 1 forced fumble for Reid’s defense. Adrian Phillips led LA with 8 tackles in this contest. Melvin Ingram put up 5 tackles and 1 sack in what would go on to be a losing effort. All signs point to Chiefs winning the AFC West, all they have to do is win one more game. If the Chargers or Raiders lose another game Kansas City would also clinch the division that way. Charity of the day:

Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance

Go donate! www.ocrfa.org

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Detroit Lions’ defense comes up big in a 20-10 win over the Chicago Bears, Darius Slay records 2 interceptions:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears had a close game in their first meeting of the season but this time around Detroit won convincingly. One of the main factors in Detroit’s domination of Chicago was the Lion’s defense which only gave up 10 points. The Bears didn’t score a touchdown until late in the fourth quarter and that suffocating performance by Detroit was instrumental. Darius Slay was the hero for Jim Caldwell’s team he recorded 5 tackles and 2 interceptions. Quandre Diggs played extremely well too he added 3 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 interception. Matthew Stafford looked sharp especially in the first half of action. Stafford threw for 237 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions which ended up being leaps and bounds better than Mitchell Trubisky. Eric Ebron and T.J Jones were on the receiving end of both of those touchdown passes. Things were clicking for the Lions in this one and they play much better indoors at Ford Field opposed to outside at Soldier Field. Mitchell Trubisky threw for a lot of yards but he didn’t do a good enough job with his touchdown to interception ratio. Trubsiky threw for 314 yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 interceptions obviously the turnovers were very costly down the stretch. Jordan Howard was kept in check this time around he only had 37 rushing yards. Benny Cunningham hauled in 33 receiving yards and caught the Bears only touchdown pass. Defensively Chicago was led by Lemarr Houston who had 3 tackles and 2 sacks. Eddie Jackson continued to play well also, he finished the night with a team high 8 tackles. Detroit improves to 8-6 on the year and seem to have a lot of confidence heading into the final two games. The Lions will take on the Bengals and then the Packers so things should be interesting the rest of the way.

Charity of the day: Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance

Go donate! www.ocrfa.org

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Kevin Byard has proved he is a ball hawking free safety, the Titans have an emerging star in their secondary:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Tennessee Titans Free Safety Kevin Byard has come a long way in a very short time. The former 2016 third round draft pick went from being a rookie just a season ago to being tied for the most interceptions in pro football this year. Byard’s development has been incredible and suddenly the Titans have one of the best defensive backs in all the NFL. When you have one guy that is as good at taking away the football as Kevin Byard is that significantly increases your chances of winning football games. Playmakers are hard to find and the fact that Tennessee’s scouting department was able to peg the former Middle Tennessee State alum as legitimate third round choice says a lot about their work. Most staffs can pick out the first and second rounders but once you get beyond that it becomes tougher because the players are much less known. Byard recorded 19 interceptions during his collegiate career so he was no stranger to making plays on Saturdays. That doesn’t always translate over to the pros but fortunately for Byard he seems to be making the same explosive plays at the next level. We know Titans Defensive Coordinator Dick Lebeau likes to dial up a lot of blitzes. Having Byard roaming around over top allows Tennessee to run a very effective cover 1. The corners can man up and then Byard gets to play freely in the middle of the field. Really Byard thrives in a cover 2 or cover 3 as well because his ball instincts are so responsive based off the quarterback’s eyes / throwing motion. It’s the ability to do so many different things well which make Byard one of the up and coming free safety’s behind Earl Thomas. Expect to hear a lot more about the young defender in the future.

Charity of the day: CARE USA

Go donate! www.care.org

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