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NFL Weekly Transaction Tracker

November 21, 2014 in 2014-free-agency, NFL Personnel

While there was no headline grabbing move this week, two notable transactions occurred. These two are discussed below and, as always, the rest of the moves are down below with some of the more significant ones highlighted in red.

Kansas City Chiefs re-sign DE Allen Bailey

It seems like there is a contract extension every week, and Bailey is the beneficiary this week.

Set to become a free agent at the end of the season, he signed a four-year contract extension to stay with the Chiefs through the 2018 season. Over the course of this new contract, he will make $25 million, of which $15 million is guaranteed. There is a signing bonus of $10 million. Averaging $6.25 million per season, he is now the seventh highest paid 3-4 defensive end in the NFL.

Drafted in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Miami (FL), the 25-year old spent three seasons as a backup before earning a starting job this season.

In his first two seasons he flashed skill as a rotational defensive lineman, recording 15 tackles and one sack in 26 games (one start). Last season he earned three starts while playing in 15 games. He recorded 30 tackles and one sack.

Allen Bailey

Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

Due to free agent losses, Bailey was pushed into a starting role this season and he has embraced it. In 11 games this season––all starts––he has recorded 33 tackles and four sacks. Pro Football Focus has him graded as the 24th best 3-4 defensive end in the league. Two bad games are holding him back, as he would be number 13 if weeks two and five were taken out.

As the season has progressed, Bailey has looked better and better as he adjusts to being a full-time player.

He has become a key component in the Chiefs defense from his defensive end spot. Kansas City's defense has yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season and he is one of their main run defenders.

At this point in time, $6.25 million is too much to pay for a player of Bailey's skill level. Kansas City is paying him with the expectation that he continues to improve his play. If this occurs––which Kansas City clearly believes––then this contract will look better. A first-year starter in his fourth season and only 25-years old, Bailey is sure to be a mainstay of the Chiefs defense for years to come.

Cleveland Browns release and Minnesota Vikings claim RB Ben Tate

In a surprising move, the Cleveland Browns released running back Ben Tate. The Minnesota Vikings aren't complaining though as they claimed him off waivers the following day.

This move comes after signing him to a two-year contract worth $6.2 million as a free agent before the season started. Due to the structure of his contract, Cleveland is not saving any money this season by releasing him. In fact, they add $93,750 to their cap due the acceleration of his signing bonus which comes when released.

For the season, he had 106 carries for 333 yards and four touchdowns and in the air he caught nine passes for 60 yards. In the first game of the season, he suffered a minor knee injury which kept him out for two games. In his first game back from the injury, he had his best game of the season, rushing for 124 yards on 24 carries.

Since that game, his snaps and touches––starting one week after his 124 yard game––have decreased every game. Rookies Terrance West (third round pick) and Isaiah Crowell (undrafted free agent) had passed him on the depth chart the last few weeks as they had been more effective.

Not only were the two rookies running well, Tate was struggling. In his last five games, he had 53 carries for 90 yards and two touchdowns. This works out to a putrid 1.7 yards per carry.

Both West and Crowell have more rushing yards and better yards per carry on the season than Tate.

With his snaps decreasing, Tate was becoming frustrated with his role on the team and had complained about his playing time. When he signed with Cleveland as a free agent, he was expected to come in and be the lead back in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's run heavy offense. Tate was long rumored to be signing with the Browns, even before free agency started as he had played in an offense that was very similar Shanahan's while in Houston. (Shanahan was the Houston offensive coordinator from 2008-2009 before joining his dad in Washington. Tate was drafted by Houston in 2011, but the offense was still the same.)

While it was obvious the writing was on the wall for Tate with his lack of production and decreasing role, it is still surprising to see the Browns get rid of him while in the midst of the playoff hunt. Behind the scenes, the team must have been frustrated with him.

Expected to be the workhorse running back for Cleveland this season, Tate never lived up to the expectations that were set when he was signed as a free agent this offseason. Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell have both being playing better than Tate, making him expendable to Cleveland.

For Minnesota, it makes sense to claim him off waivers. He is still only 26-years old without much milage as he was a backup his whole career in Houston. The Vikings are dealing with their own running back problems as star Adrian Peterson has played in only one game this season as he deals with a child abuse case. The NFL has suspended him for the rest of the season after he reached a plea deal. He is in the midst of appealing this suspension right now.

Without Peterson, the Vikings have relied on third round pick Jerick McKinnon, a college quarterback, and Matt Asiata. Both have played well, but adding another running back was a good idea. After the season is over, Minnesota can move on from Peterson and save $13 million in cap space. With the addition of Tate––signed through 2015––the emergence of McKinnon and Peterson's criminal case, this has a very high probability of occurring. Adding Tate to their backfield is a smart move by the Minnesota Vikings.

Other Moves:

The Arizona Cardinals release LB Thomas Keiser.
The Arizona Cardinals sign TE Matthew Mulligan.
The Atlanta Falcons sign LB James Anderson.
The Buffalo Bills sign S Bacarri Rambo.
The Buffalo Bills cut RB Phillip Tanner.
The Buffalo Bills claim TE MarQueis Gray off waivers.
The Carolina Panthers waive WR Jason Avant.
The Chicago Bears sign WR/KR Marc Mariani.
The Chicago Bears waive S Ahmad Dixon.
The Cleveland Browns sign LB Keith Pough.
The Cleveland Browns cut LB Zac Diles.
The Green Bay Packers sign TE Justin Perillo.
The Green Bay Packers release OT Jamon Meredith.
The Houston Texans cut LB Ricky Sapp from injured reserve.
The Indianapolis Colts sign WR/KR Josh Cribbs.
The Indianapolis Colts sign TE Weslye Saunders.
The Indianapolis Colts cut LB Victor Butler.
The Miami Dolphins sign CB Jalil Brown.
The Minnesota Vikings waive TE MarQueis Gray.
The New England Patriots waive DL Casey Walker.
The New England Patriots sign RB LeGarrette Blount to a two-year contract.
The New Orleans Saints sign S Pierre Warren.
The New Orleans Saints sign CB Terrence Frederick.
The New Orleans Saints sign LB Moise Fokou.
The New Orleans Saints cut RB Edwin Baker.
The New Orleans Saints sign WR Jalen Saunders.
The New Orleans Saints cut RB Brian Leonard.
The New York Giants cut LB Justin Anderson.
The Oakland Raiders sign OL Khalif Barnes to a one-year contract extension.
The Oakland Raiders waive LB Kaluka Maiava from injured reserve.
The Philadelphia Eagles sign CB Roc Carmichael.
The Pittsburgh Steelers release RB LeGarrette Blount.
The Pittsburgh Steelers sign RB Josh Harris.
The San Diego Chargers sign S Adrian Phillips.
The San Diego Chargers cut LB Cordarro Law.
The Seattle Seahawks sign C Lemuel Jeanpierre.
The Seattle Seahawks sign DT Travian Robertson.
The Seattle Seahawks release OT Andrew McDonald.
The Seattle Seahawks release S Steven Terrell.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers waive WR/KR Trindon Holliday from injured reserve.
The Tennessee Titans cut LB James Anderson.
The Tennessee Titans sign LB Justin Staples.

NFL Readies for Stretch Drive

November 19, 2014 in NFL, NFL Game Preview, NFL Playoffs, NFL Predictions, Seattle Seahawks, Super Bowl, SUPER bOWL XLVIII, Superbowl 48

With Thanksgiving around the corner, the NFL is set to begin the all-important stretch drive. The weather is cooperating, if you think snow, cold and wind are a welcome part of the game once the holiday season arrives. They are currently measuring snow fall in Buffalo this week in feet—not inches. And an arctic blast has temperatures below freezing with driving winds in nearly every outdoor venue north of Texas.

Buckle your chin straps and hold on because what the NFL looks like this week is likely not what we will see once Week 17 is completed. The standings are close as NFL teams begin their playoff push. Through the first 11 weeks, there are 21 teams either in or within one game of a playoff spot.

Week 12 kicks off on Thursday night (8:25 PM ET, NFL Network) when the Kansas City Chiefs visit the Oakland Raiders in an AFC West contest. The Chiefs (7-3) are tied with Denver for the division lead. Kansas City, which knocked off the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks last week, is one of eight teams with a .700 or better winning percentage this season. The other seven are Arizona (9-1), New England (8-2), Dallas (7-3), Denver (7-3), Detroit (7-3), Green Bay (7-3) and Philadelphia (7-3).

The Song Remains the Same—-Sort of!

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Manning, Rodgers & Brady oh my

Week 11 provided some surprising upsets and tight finishes and as usual, the likes of Manning, Brady & Rodgers helped make the headlines. However, while two of them cruised to victories, one of them did not.

Perhaps no bigger upset occurred than when the St. Louis Rams dealt Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos a 22-7 setback. It was the Rams' third victory this season against a team that reached the Conference finals last season. Nevertheless, St. Louis, which had previous wins over Seattle (28-26) and San Francisco (13-10), remains two games below .500 (4-6). Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, only two teams finished with a losing record despite three wins over opponents who reached the previous season's "final four": the Raiders in 1992 and the 49ers in 2006. Both teams finished with a 7-9 record.

Peyton Manning was 34 for 54 for 389 yards—however, the Rams pass was relentless sacking No.18 and intercepting him two times each. He was held to a 42-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders, ending a streak of 15 consecutive games with at least two touchdown passes. More on that in a bit.

If you were forced to make a Super Bowl prediction today, you’d be hard pressed to pick any other teams besides the NE Patriots & Green Bay Packers. The Pats marched into Lucas Oil Filed Sunday night and once again ran all over the Indianapolis Colts with a 42-20 victory. Patriots running back Jonas Grey, who was on the practice squad this time last month, rushed for 201-yards and four touchdowns. Counting last year’s 43-23 playoff win in Foxborough vs. Indy, the Patriots own the Colts defense. New England has rushed for 480 yards and seven touchdowns in the two contests and have defeated young Andrew Luck and company by a combined score of 85-43 in the process.

Gray entered the game with no touchdowns on the season. The last time a player rushed for 4 TD’s after entering the game with 0 career TD was Herb Henderson of the Evansville Crimson Giants against the Cincinnati Celts on November 27, 1921.

If you think the Patriots, who are 6-0 since starting the season 2-2, could slow down, think again—–Since 2010, the Patriots are 30-3 in the second half of the regular season (Game #9-16),  by far the best record in the NFL in those games.

Since telling the Green Bay faithful to relax, everything would be OK, back in Week 4, Aaron Rodgers has kept his word. Rodgers continues to show why he is the best QB in the league these days. The Green Bay signal caller completed 22 of 36 passes (61.1 percent) for 341yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 120.3 passer rating in the Packers’ 53-20 win over Philadelphia.

Rodgers has thrown 322 consecutive passes at home without an interception, the longest streak in NFL history. He has thrown 29 consecutive touchdowns at home without an interception, the longest streak in NFL history. The Packers, who scored 30 points in the first half, are the first team in NFL history to score at least 28 points in the first half of four consecutive home games.

The rest of the NFC not playing in Arizona is hoping that if they make the playoffs, Lambeau Field won’t be their destination this playoff season if the Packers are fortunate to host a playoff game. In the four home games that have followed since Rodgers comforting words, Green Bay has led by scores of 30-3, 45-0, 38-3 and 42-0. Green Bay has hit the half century mark in back to back for the first time in the 93 year history of the franchise and are only the second team in NFL history to score 53+ points in back-to-back games, joining the 1950 LA Rams.

Rodgers' touchdown-to-interception is 31:0 over his last 13 home games. The Pack's average score over the past seven games overall is 39 to 21.

How Bout them Cards:

Bruce Arians Coach of the Year?

Bruce Arians Coach of the Year?

With a playoff like gut check performance vs. the Detroit Lions on Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals own the league’s best record at 9-1. It is only the second time in franchise history the Cardinals have opened a season with nine wins in their first 10 games, joining the 1948 Chicago Cardinals. Through the first 11 weeks of the season, the Cardinals have built a two-game lead in the race for the NFC’s top seed and own a three-game lead in the division. Arizona is the only team in the league yet to lose a conference game (7-0).

The Cardinals are the only team in the NFL with a 6-0 home record and one of only five teams yet to lose at home this season. This marks the first time since 1970 in which the Cardinals have won their first six home games to begin a season.

On offense, backup QB and former Lions draft pick Drew Stanton came out on fire against his former team Sunday. Stanton threw a pair of touchdown passes to Michael Floyd in the game's first 10 minutes and the Cardinals held on for a 14-6 victory over the Lions. Only two other players in team history caught two TD passes in the first quarter of one game: Gus Tinsley against Washington in 1937, and Anquan Boldin against Miami in 2008. WR Larry Fitzgerald’s reemergence has been a big factor for the Cardinals offense. On Sunday, Fitzgerald drew a ton of double coverage and had two catches for 33 yards. Fitzgerald, who now has 12,025 career receiving yards, became the second-youngest player in NFL history to reach 12,000 receiving yards (31 years, 77 days old). Randy Moss reached the milestone at 30 years, 306 days old.

On defense, the Cards slowed the very formidable Lions attack. With Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson, the Lions were held to just two Matt Prater field goals and were shut out in the second half. Stafford was held to a season low 183 passing yards. Led by Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles, Arizona has forced 20 turnovers this season, including 15 interceptions, the second-most in the league. Arizona has also limited turnovers on the offensive side of the ball and is tied for second in the NFL with a +11 turnover differential.

Head Coach Bruce Arians deserves a ton of credit. In his second season as Arizona’s head coach, Arians has compiled a 19-7 (.731) record. His 19 wins are the most by any head coach in franchise history though his first 26 games. Including his 9-3 record as the interim head coach with Indianapolis in 2012, Arians has a 28-10 (.737) record as an NFL head coach.

Arizona is looking to become the first NFL team to play in a Super Bowl where its city is hosting the game in their very own facility.

The Texans handed the Cleveland Browns a crushing home defeat on Sunday as Ryan Mallet outplayed Brian Hoyer in the team’s 23-7 road victory. The former backup to Tom Brady, Mallett, was 20-of-30 for 211 yards, two touchdowns and an interception Sunday, his 1st-career start. His counterpart, Brian Hoyer, who has kept his rock star backup Johnny Manziel on the bench this season, wasn’t nearly as effective as he’s been lately. Hoyer completed only 20 of 50 passes in the Browns' loss, setting a team record for incomplete or intercepted passes in one game. Otto Graham held that record from the time the Browns entered the NFL in 1950 until last season (tied by Brian Sipe in 1981), when Jason Campbell went 27-for-56 at Cincinnati.

It’s time to admit that JJ Watt may just be the best overall player in the NFL—on offense and defense. Watt, a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, caught his second touchdown pass of the season in Houston's win. Watt also scored on an interception return in September and with a fumble recovery in October. He is the first NFL player to score at least two TDs on both offense and defense since J.C. Caroline did it for the Bears in 1956 (2 rushing TDs, 2 on Ints).

Rookie Watch:

Last week in this column, I pointed out the play of some of the leagues rookies this season and questioned whether or not they were ready to hit the proverbial rookie wall. Based off the play of a few of them this past weekend, that doesn’t appear likely to happen.

In Washington, Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie WR, Mike Evans, caught seven passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns in his team’s 27-7 win over the Redskins. Over the last 30 years, only two other rookies gained at least 200 receiving yards and caught two TD passes in the same game: Eddie Kennison of the Rams in 2006 (vs. the Falcons) and Anquan Boldin of the Cardinals in 2003 (vs. the Lions).

Rookie WR Mike Evans

Rookie WR Mike Evans

Evans has caught seven passes in each of his last three games, totaling 124, 125, and 209 yards. The only other rookies to gain at least 120 receiving yards in each of three consecutive games were Billy Howton (1952 Packers), Jimmy Orr (1958 Steelers), and Marques Colston (2006 Saints).

Cincinnati rookie running back Jeremy Hill (Round 2, No. 55 overall) and Houston rookie running back Alfred Blue (Round 6, No. 181 overall) were teammates at Louisiana State University. Hill (152 rushing yards) and Blue (156) each rushed for 150+ yards on Sunday, becoming the first rookies from the same college to rush for at least 150 yards on the same day in NFL history. Hill, who rushed for 154 yards in Week 9 against Jacksonville, is the second rookie in franchise history with two 150-yard rushing games, joining Paul Robinson (1968).

Blue tied the franchise rookie record for rushing yards (Steve Slaton, 156 yards vs. Indianapolis on November 16, 2008), and set a single-game club record for carries (36), surpassing the previous mark set by teammate Arian Foster (33 attempts in two different games).

The San Francisco 49ers will most assuredly miss the leadership of linebacker Patrick Willis but it appears as if rookie linebacker Chris Borland is capable of picking up the slack in term of on the field production. The former Wisconsin Badger (Round 3, No. 77 overall) had 12 tackles and two interceptions in the 49ers’ 16-10 win at the New York Giants. Borland is the first rookie linebacker in franchise history with two interceptions in a game. He also joined Ken Norton, JR. (October 22, 1995) as the only 49ers linebackers with two interceptions in a game over the past 40 years.

The Battle for the North:

downloadWhile they are some solid divisional playoff races taking place, no race is as intriguing as the AFC North. With six weeks remaining in the regular season, all four teams are currently within a half game of first place in the division following the Steelers’ 27-24 win at Tennessee on Monday Night Football. Cincinnati (6-3-1) holds the slightest of edges over Pittsburgh (7-4), Baltimore (6-4) and Cleveland (6-4) for the top spot in the division.

The AFC North is the first division in which every team is at least two games above .500 at any point in the season since the 1935 NFL Western Division. The four AFC North clubs have combined for a 17-7-1 record (.700) against non-division opponents in 2014, the best of any division in the NFL. This also includes their record of 8-1-1 vs. the NFC South. Including this week’s games, the North will face the South six more times this season with Pittsburgh (vs Saints Nov 30, @ Falcons Dec. 14)  and Cleveland (@Falcons Nov.23 & @ Falcons Dec. 21)  playing the struggling division twice. The Ravens will travel to play New Orleans this Monday Night for their final matchup of the season vs. the division while the Bengals travel to Tampa on Nov. 30.

Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, only seven divisions have finished with a combined winning percentage of .700 or better outside the division. Three of those divisions produced that season’s Super Bowl champions, including the 2013 NFC West. All seven of the divisions to accomplish the feat have featured at least two playoff teams, with four sending three teams to the postseason.

The Seattle Seahawks, who were one of three 10-win teams in the NFC West last year, finished with an NFC-best 13-3 record en route to the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history. The 2007 NFC East also produced the Super Bowl XLII-champion New York Giants (10-6), one of six Wild Card playoff teams to win a Super Bowl title. And the 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers (12-2) of the AFC Central went on to their second consecutive Super Bowl title. With six weeks remaining in the NFL regular season and 12 teams in the AFC sporting records of .500 or better, all four AFC North teams are in a strong position to challenge for playoff spots.

Speaking of the Seahawks:

Despite a strong ground attack, the Seattle Seahawks dropped a tough road loss on Sunday to the Kansas City Chiefs. Seattle gained 204 yards on 37 carries at Kansas City, and assuming the Seahawks won by just looking at the box score wouldn’t have been too big of an assumption. Prior to Sunday, defending Super Bowl champions gained 200 or more rushing yards in a game 95 times. They lost only two of those games, both by the same team (the 1985 49ers), and had won their last 41 such games, including three by Seattle earlier this season.

However, with a pretty solid rushing attack their own, the Chiefs defeated the Seahawks, 24-20, (190 yards and three touchdowns). KC gained 190 yards and scored three rushing TD’s. The attack was led by RB Jamaal Charles, who gained 159 yards on 20 carries. Charles extended his rushing success vs. Seattle. Charles also had a 173-yard game versus Seattle four years ago. The only other players with two games of 150 or more rushing yards against the Seahawks are Terrell Davis (both in 1998) and Frank Gore (2006 and 2009).

Super Bowl Rematch looking less likely:

The Seahawks and Broncos both dropped games on the road this past weekend. If the playoffs started today, the Seahawks would become the latest victim of the Champions curse. Nearly half (seven) of the SB Champs from the past 15 years have failed to make the playoffs the following season, the Pittsburgh Steelers did it twice. In fact, all time, one third (16 of 48) of Super Bowl-winning teams don’t make it the postseason the next year. Seattle would be the third straight team to fail to qualify—following the Giants and Ravens. Even if they do make it, winning a game in the playoffs following a SB winning season is no easy task. The last defending Super Bowl champion to win a playoff game was the 2005 New England Patriots, who won a wild-card game before losing in the next round at Denver. Seattle does control their own destiny. Starting this week at home, the Seahawks still have five division games to play, including two against the hated 49ers and two vs. the division leading Cardinals.superbowl

Speaking of Denver, spending $100 million to revamp its defense may not be money well spent if they cannot stop a pass rush. Denver is also looking to breaking a curse when it comes to the Super Bowl. The last Super Bowl runner up to win the big game the following year was the Miami Dolphins, who won Super Bowl VII in January 1973 after losing Super Bowl VI the previous year. That’s a 41 year drought.

In fact, it's only happened twice in the Super Bowl's 46-year history. The numbers are a little more favorable for Denver to at least return to the Super Bowl. Seven Super Bowl runners-up have repeated as conference champions in 48 years—I said a little better.  Most recently, the Buffalo Bills bounced back from three Super Bowl losses to return to the Super Bowl in the 1990-93 seasons. No.18 will look to stop the streak at 18 years, as 18 straight SB runner ups have not returned to the big game.

 

Research and stats courtesy of NFL Communications, ESPN Stats & Information and The Elias Sports Bureau.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 11 NFL Rewind & Monday Night Football Prediction

November 17, 2014 in NFL Observations

1. Top game of the day was supposed to be the Eagles battling the Packers at Lambeau, but just like last week Green Bay ended the game quick.

Jordy Nelson

Courtesy of ICON SMI

Green Bay dropped 53 on the 7-2 Eagles and it was ugly.  Aaron Rodgers once again lit up an opponent at home and looked like a MVP.  I obviously still think the Eagles are a solid contender but I wasn’t shocked that Rodgers took it to the Eagles corners, which have never impressed me.  I still think Philly is going to have issues with top QBs come playoff time.

One week after getting praised Mark Sanchez struggled and went back to his Jets days as a turnover machine.  Nick Foles was not Foles of last season but he is still better than Sanchez and Philly needs him back.  I am very interested in the two match ups upcoming versus Dallas and how that goes when it comes to finding a division champ.

 

2.  No two teams are up and down as much as the Saints and Bengals this season.  Both were considered title contenders at points before or during the season.

So thinking the Bengals came in struggling and the Saints couldn't lose two at the Superdome in a row was everyone's call.  But it doesn't always work out like that.

The Bengals took it to the Saints and won pretty easy.  AJ Green looked like himself which was a huge boost for Dalton who needed a good game.  He produced and so did the Bengals D which held down Drew Brees.  I don't know what to make of either of these crews so I just can't trust them come playoff time.

 

3.  Great win for the Rams and I wasn't shocked because the way their defense was coming around.

Manning was due to have a struggle and losing two key weapons really hurt.  The Broncos will bounce back but now they have a real challenge in the Chiefs.  I wonder if the AFC can learn from how the Rams defense went against the Broncos.

Jeff Fisher is a very good coach who has had some bad luck since going to St. Louis.  But bringing his buddy back Gregg Williams should continue to pay dividends.   The bounty issue was important but Williams paid his dues.   I just wish the Redskins would have worked hard to bring him back to coach their defense…or maybe as head coach.

 

4. Quick Hitters

How impressive are the Chiefs currently.  Andy Reid can coach and he is clearly proving it once again with a team many thought were phony last year.
B.  Nice one Browns.  Again a chance to back up a huge win and they dud out.  They have gone from talk of winning the division to when its Manziel time.
C. Dud of the week goes to the Redskins though.  I could go one for 5000 words about the organization again but won't waste your time.
D. Final four playoff:
1. Alabama
2. Oregon
3. Florida State
4. Baylor

5. Monday Night Match-up          espnMNF

Awful game this week, bad enough they should have Berman or Mike and Mike do the broadcast and rest Tirico and Gruden.

Tennessee   17
Pittsburgh     3

 

 

NFL Weekly Transaction Tracker

November 14, 2014 in 2014-free-agency, NFL Personnel

After a week without a major move, this week saw a $50 million contract extension go to a quarterback, only for him to suffer a season-ending injury on Sunday. This move is discussed below and, as always, the rest of the moves are down below with some of the more significant ones highlighted in red.

Arizona Cardinals re-sign QB Carson Palmer

At 34-years old––35 in December––Palmer secured what will likely be his last professional payday, with what is his third professional team.

A three-year contract extension on top of the one year left on his old contract, he is now tied to Arizona through the 2017 season. These three new years are worth a total of $50 million and includes $20.5 million in guaranteed money, with a signing bonus of $6.5 million. Only $10 million of this is guaranteed from the start and there is no guaranteed money left after the 2015 season. This means the last two seasons are essentially pay as you go seasons. Arizona is only committed to him through the 2015.

Carson Palmer

Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

The design of the contract is even more important now that Palmer is out for the season after tearing his ACL in Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams. With the injury coming in November and given his age, it is unknown whether he will be able to play at the start of next season.

This isn't the first time he has torn his ACL. In the playoffs of the 2005 season, he tore his left ACL––the same one he tore this week––on the first play of the game. Coincidently, that injury came just 10 days after signing a $119 million contract extension. Two teams later, this is the same contract that expires at the end of the season.

After a disappointing 2010 season for the Cincinnati Bengals, who drafted Palmer with the first overall pick of the 2003 draft, he asked to be traded and said he would never play for the Bengals again. He said he would rather retire than play for Cincinnati again. Halfway through the season, the Oakland Raiders called and traded a first and second round pick for Palmer. This is one of the worst trades in recent NFL history, giving up two high-value draft picks for a quarterback who played only 25 games in Oakland.

At the end of his second season in Oakland, he was traded to Arizona for two late round draft picks. He quickly led the Cardinals to a 10-6 season, but they missed the playoffs due to the strength of not only the conference, but the NFC West division, where the team finished third.

This season, Palmer was completing 62.9 percent of his passes for 1.626 yards, 11 touchdowns, three interceptions and a quarterback rating of 95.6. This is the second-highest quarterback rating for him in his career, behind the 101.1 he recorded in 2005. He missed three games due to a nerve issue in his shoulder.

Arizona is currently the only one-loss team left in the NFL, sitting at 8-1. The loss of Palmer is a huge one as they have Super Bowl aspirations––it is being hosted in their own stadium. Drew Stanton will take over a quarterback. The team was 2-1 under him when Palmer missed time to his shoulder injury.

Even though Palmer just tore his ACL, this contract is still very good for Arizona. They are only tied to him through the 2015 season in terms of guaranteed money. After that, they can cut him and save double digits in cap room.

Other Moves:

The Arizona Cardinals sign QB Ryan Lindley.
The Arizona Cardinals sign DE Josh Mauro.
The Baltimore Ravens sign CB Rashaan Melvin.
The Buffalo Bills cut S Jerome Couplin.
The Buffalo Bills sign DE Bryan Johnson.
The Chicago Bears sign TE Blake Annen.
The Chicago Bears waive CB Teddy Williams.
The Chicago Bears waive WR Santonio Holmes.
The Chicago Bears sign G Ryan Groy.
The Cleveland Browns release FB Kiero Small.
The Cleveland Browns sign FB Ray Agnew.
The Dallas Cowboys waive LB Tim Dobbins.
The Dallas Cowboys sign LB Dekoda Watson.
The Denver Broncos claim LB Todd Davis off waivers.
The Green Bay Packers sign OT Jamon Meredith.
The Houston Texans waive LB Zac Diles.
The Houston Texans sign LB Max Bullough.
The Jacksonville Jaguars claim CB Teddy Williams off waivers.
The Jacksonville Jaguars cut LB Dekoda Watson.
The Jacksonville Jaguars waive CB Peyton Thompson.
The Kansas City Chiefs waive LB Jerry Franklin.
The Kansas City Chiefs sign TE Phillip Supernaw.
The Kansas City Chiefs sign RB Charcandrick West.
The Miami Dolphins sign RB LaMichael James.
The New Orleans Saints sign S Jamarca Sanford.
The New Orleans Saints cut C Eric Olsen.
The New Orleans Saints sign RB Brian Leonard.
The New Orleans Saints cut LB Todd Davis.
The New York Giants sign RB Orleans Darkwa.
The San Francisco 49ers sign LB Chase Thomas.
The San Francisco 49ers sign RB Alfonso Smith.
The Seattle Seahawks sign TE RaShaun Allen.
The Seattle Seahawks sign LB Allen Bradford.
The Washington Redskins cut LB Jackson Jeffcoat.

Excitement Building In NFL After 10 Weeks

November 12, 2014 in NFL, NFL Preview, NFL RECAP WEEK 10

With just a few weeks until Thanksgiving, the NFL playoff picture is becoming cloudier by the day. That’s not a bad thing if you like parity and excitement in the NFL. In the AFC, 11 of the 16 teams have a winning record. If the season ended following the Monday Night game, two– six win teams would be on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. The biggest reason is the AFC North where every team in the division has at least a .600 winning percentage or better and only the Bengals (5) have less than six wins.afc

The AFC North is the first division in which every team is at least two games above .500 at any point in the season since the 1935 NFL Western Division. The west in 1935 is essentially the NFC North now minus one Chicago team and adding Minnesota. The Detroit Lions led the way with a 7-3 mark while the Green Bay Packers were second at 8-4. How is that possible you ask? The Lions had 2 ties during the season, which gave them a winning percentage of .700, better than the Packers .667. Bringing up the back end of the West division in 1935 was the two Chicago teams—that’s right two.

The Chicago Bears and Chicago Cardinals each finished with identical 6-4-2 records. There were a lot of ties back in those days and not every team played the same amount of games. Were it not for the cancellation due to heavy snow of a few games, this would have been the first season where all NFL teams played the same number of games. This standardization was formalized the following year and has continued ever since, with the number of games being slowly increased to sixteen. The Lions went on to beat the Giants for the NFL title in 1935.

If the Bengals (@Saints), Browns (vs. Texans) and Steelers (@ Titans) all win this weekend, Week 11 will go down as the longest in NFL history every team in one division has been at least two games over .500. That would of course be a nightmare scenario for the Ravens, who have a bye this week.

Take a good look at the standings, it is likely they will be changing following Monday Night’s game at Tennessee. Just three weeks ago, the Ravens were all alone in first, while the Bengals, Steelers and Browns followed. Today, the Browns own the top spot while the Bengals are in second with the Steelers and Ravens bringing up the bottom.

The problem isn’t as prevalent in the NFC where seven of the 16 teams own a winning record. However, if the season were to end today, the six win Green Bay Packers would not be in the playoffs but the 4-5 NFC South leading Saints would be.

More Lions:

Matt Stafford climbing the ranks

Matt Stafford climbing the ranks

With their dramatic comeback from behind last minute victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, the Lions matched their 2013 win total, joining the Cleveland Browns (6-3; 4-12 in 2013), Houston Texans (4-5; 2-14 in 2013) and Washington Redskins (3-6; 3-13 in 2013) as the teams to accomplish the feat this season. Looking ahead to Week 11, the Atlanta Falcons (3-6; 4-12 in 2013), Buffalo Bills (5-4; 6-10 in 2013) and Minnesota Vikings (4-5; 5-10-1 in 2013) can also join the list.

Sticking with the Lions theme, Detroit QB Matthew Stafford was a different looking QB with Megatron running around Ford Field on Sunday. With Calvin Johnson back and healthy and the Lions defense ranked first in the league, Detroit could finally be ready to remove their names off the Super Bowl drought list. The Lions are one of four teams to have never played in the big game. Cleveland, Jacksonville and Houston are the others

At least Houston, Jacksonville and Detroit have hosted Super Bowls, in consecutive years, oddly enough (2004-06). Houston also hosted in 1974. Sorry Cleveland.

Moving back to Stafford, the 11-yard touchdown pass he flicked to Theo Riddick with 29 seconds to play gave the Lions a dramatic 20-16 win over the Dolphins. It was Stafford's fourth game-winning TD pass in the final 30 seconds of the fourth quarter, tying an all-time NFL record. Stafford shares the mark with six players: Steve Bartkowski, Drew Bledsoe, Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Joe Ferguson, and Tommy Kramer, all of whom started at least 100 regular-season games. Stafford has started only 70.

Stafford passed for 280 yards in that 70th career game on Sunday against Miami. His 19,953 career passing yards are the most passing yards in NFL history through a player’s first 70 games. The former No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft also has 122 career touchdown passes, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas for the fourth most in the first 70 games of a career in NFL history.

No.18 & More No.19:

No.18 passed for 340 yards and five touchdowns in the Broncos’ 41-17 win at Oakland, extending his own NFL-record streak of consecutive games with multiple touchdown passes to 15 games. Peyton Manning has also thrown a touchdown pass in 48 consecutive games, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas (47) for the third-longest streak in NFL history. Manning’s first touchdown of the game was a 51-yard pass to running back C.J. Anderson. The scoring play marked Manning’s 44th career touchdown pass of at least 50 yards, eclipsing Brett Favre for the most such TD passes of any quarterback in the Super Bowl era.

The Return of Vick?

New York Jets quarterback Michael Vick passed for 132 yards with two touchdowns and added 39 rushing yards in a 20-13 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Vick now has 6,006 career rushing yards and is the first quarterback in NFL history to reach 6,000.

Points, Points & More Points:

All of these yards and points have to be totaling up to some kind of record in 2014—-don’t they? You bet- So far this season teams have combined for 6,862 points this season, the most points through 10 weeks in NFL history. The previous high was 6,836 last season. Teams have combined to score 781 touchdowns and have thrown 499 touchdown passes, both of which are the most ever through Week 10. The previous highs were 762 TDs and 462 TD passes last season.

Rookie Update:

We are rapidly approaching the time of the year where first year players hit the “rookie wall”. Used to only playing 11 to 13 college football games per year and with many only playing three years in college, the 17 week NFL schedule can be grueling. Training camps start in the late July heat and by now, the young legs are starting to tire and bumps and bruises are starting to be felt more than usual. The wall usually starts to build around 11 and by the time Weeks 12, 13 & 14 hit, even the top rookies start to fade. Detroit Lions rookie TE Eric Ebron said, "I've already hit my rookie wall. I felt like that last week of the learning process and getting over the curve that was it for me. Now it's about staying true to who I am and doing everything that got me here, and better." By the way—that’s a quote from August 5.

How the rookies doing in 2013, here are is a quick look.

AFC:

Buffalo wide receiver Sammy Watkins has been a focal point of the Bills’ offense, while three AFC rookie quarterbacks have taken over starting roles this season. Oakland’s Derek Carr earned the job in training camp, while Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles was tapped by the Jaguars in Week 4. Most recently, Tennessee’s Zach Mettenberger took the reins for the Titans in Week 8.On the defensive side of the ball, two rookie linebackers are leading their teams in tackles – Baltimore’s C.J. Mosley (87) and Buffalo’s Preston Brown (67). And Miami’s Jarvis Landry, who earned a starting role at wide receiver in October for the Dolphins, leads the NFL in kickoff return average (32.0).

Bortles leads the Jags into the future

Bortles leads the Jags into the future

As the third overall pick at Radio City Music Hall in May, the Jags Blake Bortles leads NFL rookies with 1,921 passing yards and has eight touchdown passes. He aims to surpass Byron Left which’s club rookie passing records (2,819 yards and 14 touchdown passes in 2003) and has also been an effective runner, posting 204 rushing yards on 34 carries (6.0 average).

Oakland’s Derek Carr, who the Raiders selected in round two with the 36th overall selection, leads NFL rookies with 13 touchdown passes and ranks second with 1,903 yards. Last week, he surpassed Tom Flores franchise rookie records in both categories (1,738 yards and 12 touchdowns in 1960).

In Buffalo, the fourth overall pick, Sammy Watkins, who Buffalo traded up with the Cleveland Browns to draft, has emerged as the Bills’ primary receiving option and leads AFC rookies with 617 receiving yards on 42 catches with five touchdowns, including three 100-yard performances this season.

In Baltimore, where the Ravens 11th ranked defense has been looking for a long term replacement for the man that tackled everything for 17 years, finally may have him in the 17th overall pick in May’s draft. Former Crimson Tide star, CJ Mosley has started every game for Baltimore, ranks second among all AFC players with 90 tackles (58 solo) and leads the Ravens in that category. He is looking to become the first Ravens rookie to lead the team in tackles since Ray Lewis in 1996.

NFC:

Rookies at the wide receiver position have put up impressive numbers. Seven rookie wide receivers have at least five touchdown receptions, which is already the most for an entire season in NFL history. Carolina’s Kelvin Benjamin leads the class with seven, followed by Arizona’s John Brown (five), Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans (five) and Philadelphia’s Jordan Matthews (five). New Orleans’ Brandin Cooks has scored four total touchdowns (three receiving, one rushing) and the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham, Jr. has the most receiving yards (264) in the NFL among all players over the past two weeks.

Offensive guard Zack Martin has been a key component on the Cowboys’ offensive line, which has led the way for rushing leader DeMarco Murray. And on defense, linebacker Anthony Barr of Minnesota, defensive tackle Aaron Donald of St. Louis and cornerback Kyle Fuller of Chicago have all played a significant role for their clubs.

The ninth overall pick of the Minnesota Vikings, Anthony Barr, leads NFL rookies with four sacks and his three defensive fumble recoveries are tied for the most among all players. In Week 8 (October 26), he was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week. In that game, he forced a fumble and returned it 27 yards for the game-winning touchdown in overtime.

The Panthers first round selection of WR Kelvin Benjamin has paid dividends. The former FSU wideout, who hauled in the game winning catch in the final BCS National Championship game vs. Auburn, leads all rookies with 659 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. He ranks third in the NFL among rookies with 43 receptions. Five of Benjamin’s seven touchdowns have been for at least 20 yards. He was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of September when he became the only rookie in the past decade with a 25+ yard touchdown catch in three of his team’s first four games.

The Bears defense may be struggling and that’s putting it mildly but the 14th overall pick in May’s draft is having a solid season. Kyle Fuller leads NFL rookies with three interceptions and three forced fumbles. He is the only player in the league to record at least three interceptions and three forced fumbles this season. Fuller was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of September when he became the first player in the past 20 years with at least three interceptions and two forced fumbles in the first month of a season.

Cardinals and ———more Lions!

At 7-2 why not stick with more Lions news. Matt Stafford wasn’t the only passer in Detroit making history. On Sunday, punter Sam Martin completed two passes out of punt formation. Over the last 10 seasons, only one other NFL player had two pass completions and two punts in the same game: Johnny Hekker of the Rams in 2012. The last Lions player to do so was Earl Morrall, Detroit's starting quarterback in 1963 who assumed punting duties at midseason after Yale Lary was injured.

Stanton & Stafford

Stanton & Stafford

The Lions may be good but they aren’t the best team, at least record wise in the NFC. That distinction belongs to the Arizona Cardinals. If Arizona is going to continue to win in the tough NFC West, they will have to do so without Carson Palmer, who his ACL, the same one he tore when facing the Steelers in the playoffs back in 2006. Drew Stanton takes over, who was 2-1 in Palmers absence earlier this season as Palmer recovered from a shoulder injury. Without Palmer for a significant portion of the game on Sunday, Arizona still managed to improve its record to 8-1 with a 31-14 victory over St. Louis. The Cardinals have been seven games above .500 in only four previous seasons-twice in Chicago (1925 and 1948), and twice in St. Louis (1974 and 1975).

With that win, Arizona maintained a one-game lead over Detroit (7-2) in the NFC race. The Cardinals entered the NFL in 1920, the Lions in 1930. This is the first time that both teams are at least five games above .500 simultaneously. (When those franchises began, the Cardinals played in Chicago, with home games at old Comiskey Park, and the Lions were known as the Spartans and played in Portsmouth, Ohio, with a population of 42,560 at that time.)—Ironically, the two teams meet Sunday in Arizona on Fox at 4:25.

That sets up the whole Drew Stanton versus the team that drafted him storylines. The Lions selected Stanton from Michigan State in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He appeared in 13 games for the Lions, starting four while posting a record of 2-2 in four seasons. Stanton tossed five touchdowns and nine interceptions during his days in the Motor City. In three games this season, the former Spartan has three TD’s and no INT’s

Mr. November:

Mr. November isn’t retired after all. Well, maybe the real one is in former NY Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who exited for good with the completion of baseballs regular but in the NFL, Mr. November is Dallas QB Tony Romo. On the pitch across the pond on Sunday, Romo threw three touchdown passes in the Cowboys' 31-17 victory over the Jaguars, improving his career record to 27-6 (Pro Football Reference) in the month of November. That's the second-highest November winning percentage by any quarterback in NFL history (minimum: 10 starts), trailing only that of Otto Graham (.875, 21-3-1).

The big difference in being Mr. November in baseball and football is this little thing called a championship. Romo has not fared nearly as well during the month of December and January—or crunch time in the NFL. During the months of December and January, Romo is a combined 15-21. He has 67 TD’s and just 18 INT’s in the 11th month. Those numbers drop and rise in the wrong direction, significantly (52-29), in the two months that follow—And we all know about his 1-6 mark in so called elimination games.

However, it’s not all about Romo, The Jaguars did their part in London to appear in this paragraph. The loss dropped Jacksonville to 1-9 this season. In doing so, the Jags became the first team in NFL history to lose at least nine of its first 10 games in three consecutive seasons.

Looked like a College Game:

Former Oklahoma Sooners coach Barry Switzer has been credited by some for having “perfected” the use of the wishbone offense and former OU quarterback Jack Mildren is often referred to as "the Godfather of the wishbone" throughout College Football. The Sooners wishbone offense set the all-time NCAA rushing average in 1971 of 472.4 yds per game, a record which still stands to this day. On Sunday, it appeared as if The Seattle Seahawks may not have been running the wishbone but they put up wishbone numbers. Seattle ran for 350 yards and five touchdowns in a 38-17 win over the Giants. In the 1940 NFL Championship Game in which the Bears routed the Redskins, 73-0. Chicago rushed for 382 yards and seven TDs in that game. Since then, there have been 12,924 regular-season NFL games. In only six did either team run for as much yardage and as many TDs as the Seahawks did on Sunday. The most recent of those games was also against the Giants, by Buffalo in 1978.

The 350 yards Sunday, the most in a game since the Chiefs rushed for 352 yards in Week 16 of 2012 against the Colts. Seattle rushed for more yards than the Giants gained total yards (324), and the Seahawks' 4.0 yards after contact per rush was the most by any team in a game this season. The Seahawks had as many rushes gain at least 20 yards as they had gain negative yards (three). – Marshawn Lynch had 21 rushes for 140 yards and four touchdowns. Lynch gained 75 rush yards after contact Sunday, the fifth player with at least 75 YAC in a game this season. – Lynch gained at least 10 yards on six rushes Sunday, the fifth player this season to have six rushes of at least 10 yards in a game. Arian Foster, DeMarco Murray, Rashad Jennings and LeSean McCoy (also vs Giants) each has six rushes for double-digit yards in a game.

Russell Wilson rushed for 107 yards on Sunday. He joins Michael Vick (2004 & 2006) as the only QBs since the 1970 merger to have three 100-yard rushing games in a single season.

BEARS-PACKERS:

The Green Bay Packers destroyed their division rivals, the Chicago Bears on Sunday. The Pack scored 55 points and held the Bears once scary offense to just 14 points. Aaron Rodgers was masterful, albeit versus a very——very suspect Bears defense. With a game like this, there had to be the good, the bad and the ugly. We will add a category, the very good.

The very good;

Aaron Rodgers was the second quarterback in NFL history to throw six TD passes in one half (either first or second). Daryle Lamonica of the Raiders did it against the Bills in 1969. Rodgers was the sixth player with three TD passes of 40-plus yards in the same quarter: Sonny Jurgensen (1962), Jack Concannon (1967), Jim Hart (1968), Randall Cunningham (1998), and Tony Banks (1999).

The still very good:

Rodgers threw 10 touchdown passes against the Bears this season, two short of Adrian Burk's NFL record (12 TDs against the Redskins in 1954). Rodgers was the first player with 10 TD passes in a season versus one team since Dan Marino threw 10 against the Jets in 1986, and he was the first ever with 10 TD passes and no interceptions against one team in a season.

The Good:

The Packers became the third team in NFL history to lead by 42 or more points at halftime (42-0). The Packers joined the 2009 Patriots (45 against Tennessee) and the 1983 Packers (42 against Tampa Bay).

The Bad:

When Jay Cutler connected with Brandon Marshall on a 45-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter on Sunday, it ended the Packers' streak of 69 unanswered points against the Bears, dating back to the first half of their meeting at Soldier Field in September. That was the second-longest such streak by either team in the history of this rivalry, which spans 188 regular-season games. The Packers scored 87 straight points against the Bears over a span of seven games from 1928 to 1930, including five shutouts.

The Ugly:

The Chicago Bears are the second team in NFL history to allow 50+ points in consecutive games after surrendering 55 to Green Bay in Week 10 and 51 to New England in Week 8. The other was the Rochester Jeffersons in 1923. The 55 points scored by Green Bay tied the most points for the Packers in a game at Lambeau Field. The team record is 57.

Looking Ahead:

Week 11 gets underway on Thursday night with a game between two division rivals, the Bills and Dolphins. Buffalo travels to Sun Life Stadium, as both teams enter play with identical 5-4 records and are currently tied for second in the AFC East. This is the latest in a season that the Bills and Dolphins will play with each boasting a winning record since 2000 (December 3, 2000; Buffalo, 7-5 and Miami, 9-3).buffalo-bills-vs-miami-dolphins-nfl_photo

Buffalo enters Week 11 looking to rebound following a 17-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Buffalo’s defense ranks first in the league with 34 sacks. It is the team’s highest sack total through its first nine games in franchise history, topping the previous mark of 32 sacks through nine games in 1997.

The Dolphins will need solid play from QB Ryan Tannehill. The former Aggie from Texas A&M completed 27 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown last week. In the past six games, Tannehill has 1,490 passing yards and 11 touchdowns for a 99.7 passer rating. During his career, Miami is 15-1 when Tannehill has a passer rating of 90 or better. On defense, the Dolphins are tied for second in the AFC with 28 sacks, led by defensive end Cameron Wake, who has 6.5 sacks in his previous five games.

 

 

 

 

Week 10 NFL Rewind & Monday Night Football Prediction

November 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

1. I have to start with the worst quarterback performance I can remember seeing.

Last season Josh Freeman played for the Vikings in New York against the Giants and was horrendous.  That was the worst I have seen until Thursday night.  Andy Dalton is the new victor because was as horrible as you can be.

Dalton's stats don't even show how bad he was as he missed receivers badly all night. AJ Green is back but that didn't matter because he was blanketed by Joe Haden.  We talk a lot about the Bengals because we have no clue who this team is.  If you know, please let me know.

2.  For the record I wouldn't have had Tony Romo make the trip to London.  He went and played well as the Cowboys got on track against the sorry Jags.

With the bye upcoming I thought, as many did as well, the Boys should be cautious with their QB.  He has a history now of back issues and reinjured it against the Skins.

Weeden was Dalton bad last week but I think they could have beaten the Jags with him.  Dallas is in a battle with the Eagles for the division so I understand why Garrett, or most likely Jerrah, wanted Romo on the field.  They obviously jokes about big game performances aside need Tony Romo for the stretch run so risking him was a mistake I think.

3.  One more QB who didn't light up the box score to discuss and that is Colin Kaepernick.

His stats looked like Dalton and Weeden but he won a huge game in New Orleans.  He made a huge play hitting Crabtree on 4th down to save the day.

I think as I have said before the Niners roll from here.  They are getting Aldon Smith back and Navarro Bowman will soon follow.  I have no idea what the real deal is with Harbaugh but it seems certain he is gone after the season.  I bet the team rallies around that nut job and makes the playoffs.  Then anything can happen in the playoffs. Could we see the Seahawks and Niners as the wild cards?

4.  Quick Hitters

If the Cardinals are going to win the NFC West it may be without Carson Palmer.  They need him even though Arians believes in Drew Stanton, who could be carrying a 9-1 team to the end.
B. It seems like the Lions always play crazy games at home that Stafford somehow pulls it out.  Tough loss for the Dolphins who have a big one next versus Buffalo.
C. Quick college take.  I was about to push Nick Marshall into the Heisman mix then he coughed up the ball twice to maybe end Auburns chances.
D. Congrats to the Jets, as Rex Ryan said finally.  Pittsburgh came in rolling and the Jets struggling and what happens?  The Jets win.  Crazy league.
E.  I can't see Adrian Peterson playing this year.  Sponsors ran from the Vikings when the reinstated him and I think they will again.  The pictures are too horrible.

5. Monday Night Prediction:             espnMNF

Even with the Sanchize back as a starter this game says Philly big versus a struggling Panthers D.  I think the Eagles win, but not by much as Sanchez keeps them in with 2 or 3 pickles.  Eagles 17-14.

 

 

NFL Weekly Transaction Tracker

November 7, 2014 in 2014-free-agency, NFL Personnel

In terms of total moves, there was a lot of activity in the NFL. Most of these moves involved teams sorting out the bottom of their rosters though, leaving little in terms of impact transactions. One move is discussed below and, as always, the rest of the moves are down below with some of the more significant ones highlighted in red.

Kansas City Chiefs re-sign FB Anthony Sherman

You know it was a quiet week in the NFL when the most significant move comes with a fullback.

The Chiefs re-signed Sherman, their 25-year old fullback, to a three-year contract extension worth up to $7 million with just over $3 million guaranteed. This makes him the highest paid true––not a tight end/fullback hybrid––fullback in the NFL.

Anthony Sherman

Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

Drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the fifth round of the 2011 draft out of Connecticut, he spent two seasons playing for the Cardinals before joining Kansas City.

During the offseason before the 2013 season, the Cardinals deemed him expendable after hiring Bruce Arians as their new head coach. Arians' offense doesn't use a fullback, so Sherman was traded to the Chiefs for cornerback Javier Arenas.

In Kansas City, Sherman has found a home in Andy Reid's West Coast offense. With Sherman leading the way in the run game, running back Jamaal Charles ran for the third most yards in the NFL last season and the Chiefs had the 10th best rushing offense.

This season, the Chiefs have he sixth best rushing offense, despite Charles missing one game and most of another.

Pro Football Focus graded Sherman as the best fullback in the NFL last season and he is leading the way this season. His excellent run blocking is what causes him to receive such high grades.

In his 24 games for the Chiefs, he has ran the ball four times for 11 yards and caught 23 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns. While the game plan doesn't call for him to receive the ball, he is an essential piece of Chiefs offense.

Fullbacks almost always go unnoticed and Sherman is no different. However, he is a very important player to the Chiefs offense, so it makes sense to keep him around as he was set to become an unrestricted free agent.

Other Moves:

The Arizona Cardinals sign RB Kerwynn Williams.
The Arizona Cardinals cut DT Bruce Gaston.
The Baltimore Ravens waive CB Chykie Brown.
The Baltimore Ravens release TE Phillip Supernaw.
The Baltimore Ravens sign CB Tramain Jacobs.
The Baltimore Ravens claim CB Danny Gorrer off waivers.
The Baltimore Ravens waive CB Dominique Franks.
The Buffalo Bills claim S Jerome Couplin off waivers.
The Carolina Panthers cut RB Chris Ogbonnaya.
The Carolina Panthers cut WR DeAndre Presley.
The Carolina Panthers sign RB Chris Ogbonnaya.
The Chicago Bears sign DE David Bass.
The Dallas Cowboys sign DT Josh Brent to a one-year contract extension.
The Dallas Cowboys cut DL LaVar Edwards.
The Detroit Lions cut S Jerome Couplin.
The Detroit Lions cut TE Jordan Thompson.
The Detroit Lions sign DT Andre Fluellen.
The Detroit Lions waive CB Danny Gorrer.
The Green Bay Packers cut OT Derek Sherrod.
The Indianapolis Colts waive CB Jalil Brown.
The Indianapolis Colts waive OT Jamon Meredith.
The Indianapolis Colts waive FB Stanley Havili.
The Jacksonville Jaguars sign LB Khairi Fortt.
The Kansas City Chiefs cut DL Damion Square.
The Kansas City Chiefs sign S Daniel Sorensen.
The Miami Dolphins sign S Jordan Kovacs.
The New Orleans Saints sign OT Nick Becton.
The New York Giants claim CB Chykie Brown off waivers.
The New York Jets waive WR Chris Owusu.
The New York Jets sign QB Matt Simms.
The Philadelphia Eagles sign S Chris Prosinski.
The San Diego Chargers sign S Adrian Phillips.
The San Diego Chargers cut RB Shaun Draughn.
The San Diego Chargers claim DL Damion Square off waivers.
The San Diego Chargers cut S Adrian Phillips.
The San Francisco 49ers sign CB Leon McFadden.
The San Francisco 49ers sign RB Kendall Hunter to a one-year contract extension.
The San Francisco 49ers waive DL DeMarcus Dobbs.
San Francisco 49ers RB Marcus Lattimore has announced his retirement from the NFL.
The Seattle Seahawks sign S Terrance Parks.
The Seattle Seahawks cut WR Bryan Walters.
The Seattle Seahawks sign TE Tony Moeaki.
The Seattle Seahawks sign WR Bryan Walters.
The Seattle Seahawks cut LB L.J. Fort.
The Seattle Seahawks claim DE Demarcus Dobbs off waivers.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers waive-injured WR/KR Trindon Holliday.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign RB Marcus Thigpen.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign DT Matthew Masifilo.
The Tennessee Titans sign TE Brett Brackett.
The Washington Redskins sign S Phillip Thomas.
The Washington Redskins release DE Clifton Geathers.
The Washington Redskins waive CB Chase Minnifield.

Week 9 NFL Rewind & MNF Prediction

November 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

1- The most hyped game of the week ended up not being much of a competition as Tom Brady once again outdueled Peyton Manning in Foxboro.      NFL: JAN 19 AFC Championship Game - Patriots at Broncos

By the time they finally kicked off I had enough hearing about the Brady/Manning respect for each other, how they got there, and then we had to add 6 hours of weather coverage.  Which ended up not being much of a factor.

The Pats have done a complete 180 since they left the field in KC over a month ago.  And the main reason is the play of the offense and their ability to get Brady and Gronk reconnected.  As long as Gronk is 100% that offense is going to be tough to stop.

I still like the Broncos a lot and don't take a lot from this loss.  They should roll the rest of the schedule and end up in a solid spot come playoff time like the past two seasons.  The defense which had played better took a beating Sunday but they should recover and the Broncos will be just fine.

2- How much do the Cowboys need Tony Romo?  A lot it looks like.

The drop off from Romo to Weeden was monumental and the Cardinals rolled them to the best record in the NFC.  The Cowboys need to get Romo back but you have to be worried about his short and long term future if he does play as soon as next week.  But I do expect Romo to do whatever he can to get back versus the Jags.  Weeden screwed up everything from Murray's 100 yard game streak to his old college pal Dez's game.  Crazy how things in the NFL can change in two weeks.

The Cards have not changed in the last few weeks as they continue to win games and lead the NFC West by two games.  I liked Arizona before the season but was then concerned after losing some important defensive players. But they have been solid.  Carson Palmer rallied back from an early pick six to lead the Cardinals to victory.  I am far from counting the Seahawks out in this division but we may want to count out the 49ers.

3. Most impressive win of the week has to go to the Dolphins who destroyed the Chargers in Miami 37-0.

Miami has been the forgotten team in the AFC especially after it was just a few weeks ago they were debating benching Ryan Tannehill.  Joe Philbin didn't and it has paid off as Tannehill has played very strong.  They are able to run the ball and play defense and make plays with potential Defensive MVP candidate Cameron Wake.  The Dolphins look to have enough to at least challenge Brady and the Pats.  Please someone for once make this division interesting.

The Chargers like the Cowboys have quickly gone from “Super Bowl talk” to “what is wrong with them talk”.  Now the Chargers are no longer in the division race talk and have a battle to just grab a wildcard as division rival Kansas City have passed them.  I still wouldn't count out Philip Rivers but the Chargers have quickly made it an uphill battle to return to the playoffs.

4. Quick Hitters

a. RG3 return was OK.  I think it was the right call to play him.  I liked the deep balls to DeSean Jackson but didn't like how the game ended.  And as always with the Redskins, the talk will be more about reports from reporters and not the actual game.
b. I think the Saints have finally become the team to take over the NFC South since it was an embarrassment untilThursday.
c. Cleveland just doesn't want to take the step up to contending for a playoff spot.  Another lackluster performance against a team like the Bucs, Jags or Raiders.
d. If I was an Eagles fan I would hope that Nick Foles is back quick.  They can get all hyped about Sanchez coming in and winning a game but he had two picks and I think there are more to come if he starts down the stretch.
e. Nice win by the Steelers at home as look to be the team to challenge the Bengals in the AFC North.

5. Monday Night Pick        espnMNF

Indy is the better team here but maybe the Giants can pull of a much needed win at home behind Eli Manning?  Another week of Gruden gushing over a young star for three hours.  That young star is Andrew Luck and he leads the Colts over the Giants 38-17.

 

 

 

 

 

NFL Weekly Transaction Tracker

October 31, 2014 in 2014-free-agency, NFL Personnel

Tuesday, the NFL trade deadline passed with little drama, as usual, and two trades were completed at the deadline. One of these trades is discussed below along with a massive contract extension and a retirement. As always, the rest of the moves are down below with some of the more significant ones highlighted in red.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers re-sign DT Gerald McCoy

With all the roster change that is going on for the 1-6 Buccaneers––they were involved in both trades at the deadline––they decided to lock up McCoy, who they deem to be the face of their franchise.

A seven-year contract extension, the total value of the deal is just under the $100 million mark that J.J. Watt set earlier this offseason. McCoy receives $95.2 million with $51.5 million guaranteed. The average value of $13.6 million per season makes him the highest paid defensive tackle in the league right now and in NFL history.

Gerald McCoy

Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

Drafted by Tampa Bay with the third pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, he has quickly become the best 4-3 defensive tackle in the NFL.

So far this season (six games), he has recorded 19 tackles and 2.5 sacks for the struggling Buccaneers. The team may not be performing well, but he is. Pro Football Focus (PFF) has him rated as the best defensive tackle in the NFL. His 19 tackles and 2.5 sacks may not show this, but the impact of interior defensive lineman can not be shown in the box score.

Last season was the best of his career. Statistically, he set career highs in tackles (50) and sacks (9.5). PFF as the best defensive tackle in the league, a full 16 points ahead of the more well-known Ndamukong Suh who was ranked second. (Suh is a free agent at the end of the season. It will be interesting to see what contract he signs.)

In first two seasons he was limited by injuries, but flashed the playmaking ability that has made him the great player that he is today.

When Watt signed his $100 million contract extension before the season started, the bar was set for McCoy. He was always going to get less than what Watt received in terms of total and guaranteed money.

Tampa Bay needed to keep their best player, no matter the cost. The team isn't playing well right now and is one of worst in the NFL. McCoy is viewed as their franchise player so he had to be kept.

CB Champ Bailey retires

After spending the first eight weeks of the season as a free agent, Bailey has announced his retirement from the league.

This offseason he signed a two-year contract worth $7 million with the New Orleans Saints. However, he failed to make their roster, being released after training camp. In the following weeks he worked out for a few teams (Detroit and Baltimore), but he wasn't signed. It was reported that he favored his foot, that he injured last season, in his workout with Detroit and wasn't conditioned enough in his workout for Baltimore.

Drafted by the Washington Redskins with the seventh overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, Bailey spent five seasons in Washington before spending the rest of his career, 10 seasons, in Denver.

After five seasons in Washington, where he developed into one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, he was surprisingly traded to the Denver Broncos along with a second round pick for running back Clinton Portis. Bailey was upset over his contract situation so the team decided to get rid of him.

With Denver, he continued to play as one of the best cover cornerbacks in the league. His best statistical seasons––with either team––came in 2005 and 2006. In 2005, he recorded 64 tackles, eight interceptions and had 15 passes defensed. The following season he set career highs in tackles (84) and interceptions (10) while breaking up 11 passes.

Over the course of his career, he made 12 Pro Bowls (2000-2007 and 2009-2012) and seven All-Pro teams (2000, 2003-2007 and 2012). These 12 Pro Bowl selections are the most ever for a defensive back. In the Pro Bowl, he has intercepted four passes, which is also a record.

With these accolades and the great performances Bailey has had in his 15 years in the NFL, we should be seeing a bust of his face in Canton in the near future.

St. Louis Rams trade for S Mark Barron

In the biggest move at the trade deadline, the Buccaneers traded Barron, their starting strong safety who was rumored to be on the block, to the St. Louis Rams.

To acquire Barron, the Rams gave up a pick in the fourth and sixth rounds of the 2015 draft. This is a far cry from the seventh overall pick where he was selected in 2012.

Since being drafted, he has underwhelmed, not performing as the difference maker the Buccaneers envisioned him to be on the backend.

So far this season he has 49 tackles and three passes defensed. In his two prior seasons he had a combined 176 tackles, three interceptions and two sacks.

Statistically this looks good, but PFF rated him as the 70th best safety in 2012 and the 55th last season. This season he is ranked as the 71st best.

With Lovie Smith being hired as head coach this season, Barron was less of a fit for the defense. The cover two style isn't the best fit for Barron, as his performances showed. Now Major Wright will take over at strong safety for Tampa Bay. Wright played for Smith when he was the head coach in Chicago.

In St. Louis, Barron should be a much better fit. Defensive coordinator Greg Williams loves to run aggressive defenses that utilize multiple blitzers from different angles. The strong safety is an essential component of this defense––think Roman Harper in New Orleans a few years ago. Barron will come in and takeover this role for Williams.

Moving to St. Louis should help Barron improve his career. The Rams defense has had their struggles at the safety position over the last few seasons. At the end of the season, the Rams must decide whether to exercise his fifth-year option. If they don't, then they still have at least one and a half seasons of Barron before he hits free agency.

Tampa Bay got a few picks out of a player that obviously wasn't in their future plans anymore. Still, a fourth and sixth round pick for a player that was the seventh overall pick just a few years ago is a major loss on investment.

Other Moves:

The Atlanta Falcons sign S Charles Godfrey.
The Atlanta Falcons cut S Sean Baker.
The Baltimore Ravens waive TE Ryan Taylor.
The Baltimore Ravens sign TE Phillip Supernaw.
The Carolina Panthers sign OT Mike Remmers.
The Carolina Panthers sign S Robert Lester.
The Carolina Panthers cut RB Darrin Reaves.
The Cleveland Browns waive TE Gerell Robinson.
The Cleveland Browns claim TE Ryan Taylor off waivers.
The Dallas Cowboys sign LB Tim Dobbins.
The Detroit Lions sign S Jerome Couplin.
The Houston Texans sign LB Zac Diles.
The Houston Texans waive CB Elbert Mack.
The Jacksonville Jaguars waive WR Tavarres King.
The Jacksonville Jaguars sign CB Peyton Thompson.
The Jacksonville Jaguars sign CB Tommie Campbell.
The Miami Dolphins waive WR Damian Williams.
The New England Patriots waive OL Chris Baker.
The New England Patriots cut LB Deontae Skinner.
The New Orleans Saints cut TE Tom Crabtree.
The New Orleans Saints sign RB Edwin Baker.
The New Orleans Saints sign TE Tom Crabtree.
The New Orleans Saints waive TE Tom Crabtree.
The New Orleans Saints sign LB Todd Davis.
The New York Giants sign CB Mike Harris.
The New York Jets release LB A.J. Edds.
The New York Jets sign CB Marcus Williams.
The Oakland Raiders sign DE Denico Autry.
The Oakland Raiders cut LB Bojay Filimoeatu.
The Oakland Raiders sign S Larry Asante.
The St. Louis Rams sign CB Jemea Thomas.
The St. Louis Rams sign LB Korey Toomer.
The St. Louis Rams waive QB Case Keenum.
The St. Louis Rams sign WR Damian Williams.
The St. Louis Rams cut CB Jemea Thomas.
The St. Louis Rams sign G Brandon Washington.
The St. Louis Rams cut S Kadron Boone.
The San Diego Chargers release CB Richard Marshall.
The San Diego Chargers sign CB Richard Crawford.
The San Francisco 49ers sign S Ray Ventrone.
The Seattle Seahawks sign WR Phil Bates.
The Seattle Seahawks waive WR Phil Bates.
The Seattle Seahawks waive TE Brett Brackett.
The Seattle Seahawks sign LB L.J. Fort.
The Seattle Seahawks sign FB Will Tukuafu.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers waive QB Mike Kafka.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade LB Jonathan Casillas and a sixth round pick to the New England Patriots for a fifth round pick.
The Washington Redskins sign S Akeem Davis.
The Washington Redskins cut S Jamaica Sanford.

Monday Week 8 NFL Rewind & MNF Prediction

October 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

1. The game I was most looking forward toSunday was the matchup between the Packers and Saints.  Green Bay came in on a roll and New Orleans was wobbling to stay in the NFC picture.  So what happens?     drewbrees

Of course, the Saints roll the Packers at home with a huge second half.  New Orleans looks to be back as the favorite in the NFC South now as Drew Brees got it rolling with the help of a huge game from Mark Ingram.  Ingram has run the ball strong all season before and after the hand injury.  If the Saints can play defense like they did after the first few Packer drives they could get right back in the NFC mix.

As for the Packers, after those first few drives it looked like it was going to be another monster effort from their offense and Aaron Rodgers.  Rodgers looked like he was going to throw from 600 yards on a day where vet QBs put up crazy numbers.  Even with the Lions wild win in London I still feel Green Bay is the team in the end to win that division.  As long as the slant to Julius Peppers is not a regular part of their offense.

2. Speaking of the big monster crazy stats put up by vet QBs how about Tom Brady and Big Ben.

Brady started the day almost going perfect against the Bears and lighting up their sorry defense.  He found Gronk and found him regularly to torch Chicago for an easy win.  Any questions about Brady are now long gone and you have to like the addition of Brandon LaFell to his offense.  Since LaFell started seeing the field the Pats have been moving the football.  And once again the Pats look to be the class of the AFC East although the Dolphins and Bills are not fading like the last ten years.

Once Brady was done and Lamarr Houston was carted off the Pats home field, most of us got to see what Big Ben had in store for us.  Like Brady, Roethelisberger faced questions about his team’s offense but those were all answered at least for 3 hours Sunday.  Big Ben threw for over 500 yards and the Steelers got a huge win versus Indy.    If the Steelers can find that second receiver option like they did Sunday they could be scary.  Bell has become one of the best all-around backs and Brown one of the best wideouts in the league.  The AFC North is wide open once again.

3. Another huge game yesterday was the battle of one loss teams in Arizona.

The Cards pulled out a crazy late win in the desert crushing what sounded to be a ton of Eagles fans there.  Carson Palmer went over the top of the Eagles to knock roll the Cardinals into a solid lead in the West.  I am still not completely sold on Arizona but I should be now.  Bruce Arians is looking like a top coach in the league.  That is all I need to say on that.

As for the Eagles I do think this a crushing loss since it looked like they had this one won.  Foles is tossing picks and that has to be a concern since he didn't throw any last season.  I never liked this Philly defense or any of the NFC ones so I thought it would be good enough to win the division still.  But they have to get it together now.  Two huge plays once again worked them.  I think their secondary is bad and the best QBs of the NFC won't fear them at all.  So can they get a rush?  That is the question if they can't get help by the trade deadline in the back end.

4. Quick Hitters

Going back toThursdayI have to say Denver showed they are the class of the AFC still to me.  The defense is getting better and when is Manning's neck going to give?
B. Lamarr Houston gets the clown of the week award although he may be laughing after the contract the Bears gave him for one sack.  And that's where he will end the season with.  At least Brian Orakpo gave us some solid on field audio for his half sack.
C. Was it offense pass interference or not in Cincy?  I think it was but the real problem is the new rules and all the flags being thrown.  It is out of hand and needs to be looked at again this offseason.  Dez Bryant will probably get 10 illegal contact calls tonight.
D. Golden Tate may be a shady character but he is having a monster year and keeping the Lions in the mix while Megatron watches.  Hide your wives but throw him the ball because he continues to make plays when you have to think the defenses are keying on him.
E. It's crazy to think all the young quarterbacks who now look to be done in their current homes.  Geno Smith, EJ Manuel and Kirk Cousins feel like they were just drafted.  All three could be battling elsewhere to try and stay as starters in the league.

 

5.  Monday Night Prediction      espnMNF

Who is the idiot who makes the schedule and puts the Washington Redskins in prime time? They should just go by the Washington Generals once the sun goes down.  Dez Bryant should have a monster night if the Cowboys are willing to get away from the 534 carries Murray usually gets.  If I were the Cowboys I may have said Demarco's ankle is acting up and get rest him here.  The only hope the Skins had went away when DeAngelo Hall's achillies snapped.  I would put him out there on crutches to jabber at Dez.  Probably work better than the young corners he will be facing.

Dallas 31

Washington 10