On The Clock NFL Mock Draft from Fanspeak.com

NFL Weekly Transaction Tracker

January 23, 2015 in NFL Personnel

Not much occurred this week in the NFL, with only three transactions taking place. The Patriots signed an extra defensive lineman as they continue their postseason run and the Steelers added a player from the Canadian Football League (CFL).

Pittsburgh Steelers sign DE Shawn Lemon

With their season over, the Steelers have turned their focus to the offseason. At the top of their offseason list is to find some reinforcements on defense and the signing of Lemon is just the beginning.

Playing for the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL last season, the 26-year old Lemon was a force, recording 13 sacks and tying a CFL record with eight forced fumbles in a single season.

For the Stampeders, he played defensive end, but the 6-foot-2, 250-pound pass rusher will transition to outside linebacker in the Steelers' 3-4 scheme.

After playing college football at Akron, Lemon went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft and was never signed by a NFL team. He quickly signed with a CFL team and bounced between multiple CFL and Arena Football League teams for the next few seasons.

Steelers Fans

Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

Playing for the Stampeders in 2013 and 2014, he finally found success. His breakout season this year helped spur Calgary to victory in the Grey Cup (the CFL's version of the Super Bowl).

Players have made the transition from the CFL to the NFL before and the most notable pass rusher is Cameron Wake of the Miami Dolphins. Wake has had plenty of success in Miami, recording 63 sacks in six seasons.

Pittsburgh's defense was inconsistent last season and they need help at outside linebacker. Four players saw snaps at outside linebacker, three are set to be free agents and the one left has underwhelmed thus far in his career. James Harrison is a free agent and will be 37 years old next season, Jason Worilds is a free agent, Arthur Moats is a free agent and Jarvis Jones––a first round pick in 2013––has three sacks in 21 career games.

At best, Lemon becomes part of the outside linebacker rotation for the Steelers next season. At worst, he is cut in training camp. The monetary value of a contract like this is not going to be much, so there is nothing wrong with this move for Pittsburgh.

Other Moves:

The New England Patriots sign DL Joe Vellano.
The New England Patriots waive TE Steve Maneri.

Five Reasons to Watch the Pro Bowl

January 21, 2015 in Uncategorized

1- None.  It’s the true answer.  No one should watch this mess of a game.

No one cares in the end and they are playing for nothing.  President Obama and Hulk Hogan could quarterback the teams and no one would know.  But for the sake of this I will give you four reasons to watch.    tolbert-pro-bowl

2- There is a good chance at some point 3-5 of your favorite teams' players will be on a roster at some point.  Players drop out quickly when the game isn't played in Hawaii.

Arizona is nice but is not Hawaii for sure.  I think every starting quarterback has been named to the rosters at some point.  Johnny Manziel will be on the field by the 3rd quarter at this rate.  Really, Andy Dalton is a Pro Bowler.  CJ Anderson started like 4 games and is now playing.  His stats were great for that time he did play but no one knew who he was in late October.  I guess that is a great story though.

3- They have gone the way of the fantasy draft to get your interest.  So fantasy fans have the upcoming draft to get all excited for.

Problem with the draft is one of the coaches they selected, Cris Carter.  Did you know he is a hall of famer?  Don't worry he will probably draft each player saying this guy could one day join me in the Hall.  That is not a joke, I guarantee he does it.  Jerry Rice is the other coach I guess, at least with him he doesn't have to remind you he is in Canton.  Who will get picked last?  My money is on Money Manziel if he makes the list in time.       criscarter

4- If you are a gambling lunatic the over/under is actually something that is fun to watch.

And when I mean lunatic you are the kind of person who puts Madden on computer vs computer and bets on that from Monday- Friday.  The number looks to be around 77 which I think is low.  I have to think one team drops 50+ in this one.  And with no Seahawks playing all the NFL's great defenders are not going to be there.  And the game looks like it is a PK'em pre-draft.  So if you think Cris Carter or Jerry Rice is next Bill Polian jump now on that action.

5- Finally there is only one moment that matters from the history of the Pro Bowl.

And the hope they re-show it on the telecast. Enjoy!

 

 

NFL Rewind: Championship Weekend Edition

January 19, 2015 in NFL Observations

1. Crazy first game in Seattle as the Packers rolled in and rolled the Seahawks for 56 minutes Sunday.     seahawkspackers2

Somehow Seattle woke up and looked like they had a miracle win in regulation until Mason Crosby drilled another field goal.  Surprisingly the goat looked to be Russell Wilson as he had one of the worst quarterbacking efforts we had seen all season.  Not as bad as Andy Dalton against Cleveland but real close.  Wilson was saved by some dude named Bostick as he looked to be the goat in the end.

In the end Russell Wilson is a hero once again and that Brandon Bostick dude can't ever enter the state of Wisconsin again.  Jermaine Kearse killed Wilson all afternoon in causing multiple pickles.  But in the end a tight rope down the seam from Wilson to Kearse and the Seahawks once again are back in the Super Bowl.

Marshawn Lynch was a complete beast tallying over 150 yards on the ground even after he couldn't wear his gold shoes.  What a pain in the ass he has become.  I thought the rope around the car was kinda cool but now not so much.  Every Seattle hater has to be crushed especially with the Packers up 19-7 and continued shots of a beat-up Richard Sherman kept getting shown.  I am not sure if this Seattle team is as good as a year ago but I am waiting to make my call on the Super Bowl till next week.

2. So last week I looked genius when I called the Colts going into Denver in winning.  This week not so much, as I also again thought the Colts could win on the road in New England.  Not even close.

The Patriots dominated the Colts the whole game and pounded them onto their way back to another Super Bowl.  All I had to do was remember the last couple meetings and the choice would have been easy.  But I didn't, I got cute and was way wrong.

The Patriots ran all over the Colts.  Well to make it easy LeGarrette Blount ran all over them just like he did a year ago and Jonas Gray did a couple months ago.  For the Colts side it is easy.  They couldn't stop the run at all and looked weak all day and Andrew Luck could not bail them out this time.  He was really bad which it seems he always is versus the Pats.  I thought it was Luck's time but we will have to wait another season for him to trounce his horrible division again and try the playoff thing.

So it’s the Patriots and the Seahawks in Arizona.  I hate them both and may skip the game if there is a Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad marathon on that day.  Joking.  I will watch and hope for a good game.

 

3. Quick Hitters    NFL: OCT 17 Miami at Jets

a. I brought up last week the hire of Rex Ryan by the Bills.  As the week went on I am still trying to figure it out, other than he aced the interview.  They had a good defensive coach already in Jim Schwartz so why Rex?  Team needs help working with EJ Manuel.  Can Greg Roman do it?  You have to say his work with Kaepernick was so/so at best.
b. The Bears quickly went for John Fox as their new coach.  Hoping he can turn around a dismal defense like he has done in the past.  They still need someone to get Jay Cutler right if they keep him.  Could it be Adam Gase rejoining Fox?  I would go with Kyle Shanahan if possible.
c. If Gary Kubiak leaves and returns to Denver to work for his friend John Elway I don't think it's as big of a loss for the Ravens.  I think Rick Dennison could move up and keep the Ravens offense getting better.  Or could they grab Kyle Shanahan?
d. Could another Shanahan, Big Tan Mike, really take the offensive coordinator for the 49ers?  Crazy he would go down to that but I think it’s a good call for him.  Good chance to win, get that offense right and have his choice of head jobs again in a year.  There is a lot there but not out of the question.
e. Good call for Cardale Jones to stay at Ohio State.  Let it play out in the spring and see if he can get the starting job.  Even if he doesn't play at all I think working with Urban Meyer for another season cannot hurt.

 

 

NFL Weekly Transaction Tracker

January 16, 2015 in NFL Personnel

The NFL postseason has reached the final four, meaning the season is almost over. While the season may be coming to an end, teams are always making moves to improve their roster. This week, one of the four remaining teams signed a starter to a contract extension. This is discussed below and, as always, the rest of the moves are down below with some of the more significant ones highlighted in red.

New England Patriots re-sign S Patrick Chung

In the midst of their playoff run, the Patriots re-signed one of their starting safeties, Chung, to a three-year contract extension.

An impending free agent––along with the Patriots other starting safety Devin McCourty––the 27-year old Chung will now be in New England for the next three seasons. Over the course of the deal, he will make $8.2 million––an average of approximately $2.7 million per season––and receives $3.4 million in guarantees. This pays him in the low end of the market for starting safeties.

Patrick Chung

Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

This season, he has 85 tackles, seven passes defended and one interception. Pro Football Focus (PFF) has him graded as the 12th best safety in the NFL, on the back of his work in the run game (third best for safeties).

Prior to this season, he had spent four seasons in New England and one season in Philadelphia. Drafted by the Patriots with the 34th overall pick in the 2009 draft, he didn't become a starter until his second season, 2010.

In 2010, he set his career-highs in tackles (96), passes defended (nine), interceptions (three) and touchdowns (one). Since then, he has failed to live up to the numbers he produced. (Though he bested his PFF grade this season.)

After four seasons in New England, he signed a three-year contract worth $10 million with Philadelphia as a free agent. He only lasted one season with the Eagles, starting only 10 games due to injury and recording 59 tackles, while forcing no turnovers. At the end of the season, they released him due to his struggles on the field and because it saved over $2 million in cap room.

As a free agent again, Chung quickly re-joined the Patriots on a one-year deal and was rewarded with his best season as a pro according to PFF. Now, he has a three-year contract that is worth slightly less than the one he received from the Eagles.

Chung had a bounce-back season this year with Bill Belichick, so it makes sense for him to stick around in New England. It also makes sense for the Patriots to keep him, as he had a good season. They aren't investing much in him, so there isn't much risk.

Other Moves:

The Cincinnati Bengals re-sign TE Kevin Brock.
The Dallas Cowboys sign sign RB Ryan Williams to a two-year contract extension.
The Denver Broncos sign LB Shaquil Barrett.
Free agent FB Greg Jones has announced his retirement from the NFL.
The Indianapolis Colts sign WR Griff Whalen.
The New England Patriots sign RB Brandon Bolden to a two-year contract extension.
The Pittsburgh Steelers re-sign LB Terence Garvin.
The Pittsburgh Steelers re-sign G Chris Hubbard.
San Diego Chargers OL Jeromey Clary has announced his retirement from the NFL.
The Seattle Seahawks sign QB B.J. Daniels.

NFL Rewind: Divisional Playoffs

January 12, 2015 in NFL Observations

1. Was it a catch or not?  That is the biggest question from the weekend.      NFL: JAN 11 NFC Divisional Round - Cowboys at Packers

Based on the rules I think the officials got this one correct.  Sorry Cowboy fans even your boy Dean Blandino agreed it was the correct call.  And even if they didn't reverse the call I still think Green Bay goes down the field and scores.  Rodgers had that offense going in the second half and the Dallas defense was starting to get worked.  It doesn't matter now though and the Packers and Rodgers calf head back to Seattle.  Will he test Sherman unlike week one?  I hope so.  And the Packers better bring their game with them if they want to prevent the Hawks from repeating.

Dallas again now becomes an interesting watch this offseason.  If it is true that Rod Marinelli is already rolling to Tampa that is a huge loss.  He did a solid job with the cast of characters he was given.  Dallas can't have a good cap situation and will have to decide on Dez and Spray Tan when they still could use help on the other side of the ball.  Kicking the can down the road the past few seasons when it comes to the cap has to pay a price at some point.

 

2. I predicted New England to take down the Baltimore Ravens but for awhile Saturday night it wasn't looking good.

Baltimore came out rolling and got up quickly but the Pats didn't fold like the past time these two met in the playoffs.  Brady stepped up and so did Gronk like I predicted and the Pats move on.  Huge play in the game had to be Julian Edelman tossing a touchdown pass as he continues to do a little of everything.  Flacco had a chance in the end to continue his playoff legendary status but it was for not.

Can someone win in New England?  I think so.  And I think the Colts do it next weekend.  Andrew Luck is now not only the future of the league but now the present.  He may throw a few picks but someone else did who had long term success in Drew Brees.  I think he can go there and get the Colts back to Super Bowl by taking down Manning, Brady and…..Dalton!

 

3. As for the Colts I was very impressed by what they were able to do in Denver but I called it on Friday that they would be the road team that would come home still alive.

I have said enough about Luck and don't want to turn into Colin Cowherd.  So you got him, Rodgers, Brady and Wilson next weekend.  Proving how important QB play is in this league.  Jets, Bills, Redskins etc. should be listening or their new or future GMs should be.

Peyton's arm is just not that strong but that is not new news.  I wonder if he comes back to play another season.  I figure he won't want to go out on horrible note like last season but can his body take it another calendar year?  I am not so sure.  And what do the Broncos do?  Shakeup?  They already shook up the defense after last season?  Can John Fox?  Del Rio?  Gase may have a head coaching job by Wednesday.  Tough call but it all starts with Manning's future.

 

4. Quick Hitters      download (1)

I got nothing on the Seattle/Carolina.  Had a little too much fun watching the Ravens and Pats and didn't see much of the second game.  But no shock Seattle won by double digits.
b. Rex Ryan to Buffalo.  Surprised he took a job without a good QB situation again.  Does he keep Jim Schwartz also?  You think he would after what their defense did this season.
c. I am surprised Kevin Sumlin's name hasn't come up.  Maybe he told teams he isn't looking but after the noise Chip Kelly has made with his offense I thought Sumlin would be a hot candidate.
d. Jameis is going pro after everyone but Jameis said he is returning.  I would take him for sure if I needed a quarterback.  It is worth the risk.  Would I make a Griffin trade to move to get him?  Wouldn't do that.
e. I am tired of the Marshawn Lynch deal though.  Grow up.  It’s not funny to me at all.

 

 

NFL Weekly Transaction Tracker

January 9, 2015 in NFL Personnel

As the NFL heads into the Divisional Playoffs, not much was going on in terms of transactions. Only three moves occurred this week and all three were minor transactions.

Seattle Seahawks sign DT Landon Cohen

In the biggest news of the week––big is a very relative term here––the Seahawks added Cohen to their roster as they attempt to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

At the end of the season, the Seahawks released defensive tackle Travian Robertson and they didn't fill his empty roster spot right away. Cohen has been signed to fill this spot.

Landon Cohen

Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

Another reason for the addition of Cohen is the injury suffered to backup defensive tackle Jordan Hill. Hill suffered a calf injury and when Cohen was signed, it was unknown if Hill was going to be available for the playoffs. Now, Hill has been placed on injured reserve––leading to the signing of Steven Terrell (see Other Moves).

Drafted by the Detroit Lions in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft, the 28-year old Cohen has bounced around the league his entire career.

He has appeared in games for the Lions, Jaguars, Patriots, Cowboys and Bears in his career, while also spending time with the Seahawks, Cardinals, Eagles and Bills.

With the Lions from 2008-2009, he appeared in 20 games, recording 25 tackles and starting four games in the 2009 season. In 2010, he spent two games with the Jacksonville Jaguars and two games with the New England Patriots, recording five tackles between the two. He played in one game for the Patriots in 2011, recording one tackle.

Cohen didn't appear in a game during the 2012 season. The 2013 season saw him start with the Dallas Cowboys, playing in two games and recording one tackle. He was soon waived and picked up by the Chicago Bears, where he played in 13 games, starting three. In these 13 games, he had his second best season, recording 14 tackles.

If it wasn't obvious already, this was a depth signing by Seattle. They needed another defensive lineman for their playoff run. Cohen was deemed to be the best available, so they signed him. At this point in the season, there isn't much available in terms of free agents.

Other Moves:

The Indianapolis Colts sign RB Michael Hill.
The Seattle Seahawks sign S Steven Terrell.

Divisional Round NFL Playoff Predictions

January 9, 2015 in NFL Predictions

Baltimore at New England   hi-res-9826c5fb2fc667acd31aeca139837db4_crop_north

I think there are a lot of people out there thinking Baltimore can do it once again and pull off another huge road win in January.  I even have thought about it all week but I think there are two huge words for the Ravens.  Gronk and Revis.  Both of these guys will be on the field on Saturday and will make a huge difference.  Gronk showed he changed the Pats whole offense when he recovered from the ACL.  And Revis was a huge get for New England.  Also I hope Steve Smith Jr and Brandon Browner match up some, since that could get interesting like Talib and Smith.  Baltimore can expect Flacco to be playoff Flacco but to win they will need Dumervil and Suggs to be all over Brady for 60 minutes.  I think will make enough plays to move on.

New England 23  Baltimore 17

Carolina at Seattle

The least interesting battle of the weekend and I am thinking it won't be much of a game.  I think Cam goes out there and gives it his all but the Seattle defense will be way too much for the Panthers other 10 on offense.  And Marshawn Lynch is able to pound the Panthers D easily.  And not to mention the game is in Seattle where the Seahawks always have a huge advantage.  I don't think it’s quite the blowout as some but Seattle moves on without a huge scare.
Seattle 24  Carolina 13

Dallas at Green Bay

All week the discussion has been the referees last week in Dallas and the calf of Aaron Rodgers.  I am over the pathetic officiating in Dallas but the calf is a real concern.  My guess is Rodgers toughs it out and plays close to 100% on Sunday.  Dallas has been great on the road but Green Bay can just crush teams at Lambeau when their offense gets going.  And I still think the Dallas defense is due a whooping from a good offense.  I just go back to the Philly game in Green Bay and see similarities.  And not the Giants or Niners wins against the Packers in the playoffs.  Dallas doesn't have the Giants D line or the Niners defense to make Rodgers work all day.  This is a Clay Matthews kinda game also where he is all over the place.
Green Bay 34  Dallas 17

Indianapolis at Denver    download (1)

A road team has to win don't they?  But I am not just picking Indy on the road because of that. I have said all week they will take a step up this season.  Luck has proven its time to win the big playoff game.  Something bigger than a home win over Cincy or KC.  And I think Sunday is his time.  It's almost like I forgot about the other quarterback.  I haven't, I just feel like many Manning isn't completely right and I am going with the young kids arm over Manning.  Which kinda sucks to me because Manning was cut to get Luck and it is BS that the Colts are going to have like 24 of 25 years of Manning or Luck playing for them.  I think the Colts get up on Broncos and the Broncos can't make it back.
Indianapolis 30  Denver 22

 

 

 

 

 

One Last Look at Wild Card Weekend

January 7, 2015 in NFL, NFL Observations, NFL Playoffs, Super Bowl

The NFL’s divisional playoffs have arrived and last weekend’s Wild Card round results should have surprised no one that watches the NFL with regularity.

Ravens Rule Again in January

In the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens continued their Superman like phone both transformation once the playoffs arrive. As a team, the Ravens struggled in December—- much the same way they did before going on to win the Super Bowl two seasons ago. Losing in Week 16 in Houston to the Texans and looking bad doing so, the Ravens lost control of their playoff destiny. However, in Week 17, they secured a win over Cleveland and got the needed and necessary help to secure their sixth playoff berth in seven seasons.

In 2012, the Ravens entered the playoffs as the only team in NFL history to have lost four of their final five games. So after their most recent December struggles, the M.O. is a familiar one in 2014 and that could be bad news for the league when you consider what this franchise does once it actually gets into the postseason tournament.

They began their January assault in Pittsburgh on Saturday night with a convincing 30-17 win over the Steelers, who won the AFC North regular season crown with a Week 17 win over the Bengals. The Ravens had previously beaten future Hall of Fame quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady on the road in past January's but never Ben Roethlisberger—- until Saturday night. The Ravens were 0-3 all-time as a franchise vs. Pittsburgh in the playoffs. This and the fact that Roethlisberger tossed six TD’s in their last game vs Baltimore led the pundits to pick Pittsburgh. The historical numbers were not in Baltimore’s corner. In nine previous games when facing a team for the third time in a season, the Steelers were 9-0 in the third contest— three of them against the Ravens. The Steelers were one of four teams to go 4-0 in December this season, won eight of their last 10 and possessed the No.2 offense in the NFL. Despite not having one of the best multipurpose running backs in the league due to injury, Le’Veon Bell, many experts still felt the Steelers would beat the Ravens easily. Steelers-Ravens-1

What wasn't considered is how Joe Flacco transforms into Joe Montana this time of the year. Since 2008, the year Flacco was drafted and Harbaugh replaced Brian Billick, the Ravens simply win on the road in the playoffs. During Harbaugh’s seven year tenure and with Joe Flacco under center, Baltimore has played 13 playoff games—four more than any other team in the NFL. The Ravens have only played two of those games at home, meaning 11 times they were forced to play away from Baltimore in the playoffs. It’s been no problem since 2008 and was no problem again on Saturday night, as Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh each recorded their seventh road playoff win during that span. Flacco moved to 7-4 on the road in the playoffs. How impressive is that? —–no other QB in NFL history has started and won more than five road games in the postseason. Somehow, Flacco manages to shed the inconsistency that plagues him from time to time from September through December. He was his usual January self-Saturday night as he moved to 5-0 in his last five post season games. During that span Flacco has tossed 13 touchdowns and 0 interceptions and has had a QB rating over 100 in each game. He helped lead the Ravens to the franchises second Lombardi Trophy during that time while taking home the Super Bowl XLVII MVP trophy for himself.

Harbaugh needs one more road playoff win to stand alone. Right now he is tied for road wins in the postseason (7-4). The only other head coaches with seven are Tom Coughlin (7-4) and Tom Landry (7-7). He could get that win on Saturday as the Ravens travel to New England to take on the 12-4 Patriots. It's over for the Ravens right—-well maybe not.

Since 2008 the Ravens are 2-1 at Gillette Stadium in the playoffs. This includes a 33-14 thrashing of the Pats in 2010 Wild Card game and an AFC Championship game beat down of Brady & company in 2013. If it weren't for a Lee Evan's dropped touchdown or a Billy Cundiff missed chip shot in the 2012 AFC Championship game, the Ravens could be undefeated in the playoffs in New England—–stay tuned!

“The Bungles Again

While the Ravens shine come playoff time, their AFC North rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals sputter. Leading the division for most of the 2014 season, Cincy lost in Pittsburgh to close out the regular season and as a result finished second and became a Wild Card team.

Bengals & Dalton are gone again in round 1

Bengals & Dalton are gone again in round 1

Despite that, many believed the Bengals would be OK. Their defense was getting healthy, their rushing attack was playoff ready and they would be facing a Colts team that wasn’t all that impressive this season and clearly benefited from playing in the AFC South. But the signs became ominous that trouble could be ahead. Starting late Thursday night the team found out star wide receiver AJ Green would miss the contest with a concussion. Also not playing would be TE Jermaine Gresham. The two combined for 1,500 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in 2014.

The other worry the Bengals had was whether or not QB Andy Dalton could pick up the slack from his previous playoff performances—ones in which he combined to throw one touchdown and six interceptions. His completion percentage in those games were higher than his QB rating and while The Red Headed Rifle didn’t throw any interceptions on Sunday— he didn't throw any touchdowns either. Dalton managed just a measly 155 passing yards.

As a result, the Bengals lost in Indianapolis to the Colts 26-10 and became the first team in NFL history to lose four consecutive opening-round games. Dalton tied Warren Moon for the most consecutive opening-round playoff losses by a quarterback, dropping to 0-4 all-time. Without Green to throw to Dalton was 0-for-9 on throws deeper than 10 yards downfield. Dalton's nine deep attempts without a completion tied for the most by any quarterback in a game this season (Colin Kaepernick, Week 13 vs Seahawks). When targeting wide receivers, Dalton completed 21 percent of his passes (3 of 14) for 31 yards Sunday. Both numbers are the lowest of his career.

He also wasn’t very good under pressure—literally. Dalton was 3-of-11 for 2 yards when the Colts sent at least five pass rushers, the lowest yardage total against the blitz in his career. Dalton's 0.2 yards per attempt average against the blitz is the lowest by any starting QB in the playoffs in the last 9 seasons. While Dalton struggled, Colts QB Andrew Luck was his usual 300 passing yard self. Luck threw for 376 yards against the Bengals, moving him ahead of Kurt Warner for the most pass yards by a quarterback in their first four postseason games in NFL history. Luck had help as former Ohio State running back Daniel Herron gained 141 yards from scrimmage Sunday (56 rush, 85 receiving), the most by a Colts running back since Week 15 of the 2011 season (Donald Brown– 163 yards)

Coach Marvin Lewis tied Marty Schottenheimer, Jim Mora and Steven Owen for most consecutive playoff losses (six) by a coach. Lewis also tied Mora, the former Colts coach, for most consecutive playoff losses to start a career, and tied Owen for most consecutive playoff losses with one team.

The Bengals franchise still have not won a playoff game since George Bush one resided in the White House. Their last playoff victory came 24 years ago today on January 6, 1991 when they beat the Houston Oilers 41-14. While losing four straight playoff games is better than the alternative (not making the playoffs), there has to be some type of change made during the offseason. The Bengals have scored 10, 13, 10 and 10 points in Dalton's four career playoff games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Bengals’ streak of four games with 13 points or fewer is tied for the longest streak in NFL postseason history.

It likely won’t be Marvin Lewis that moves on so it should be an interesting offseason in the Queen City—–one that is starting way too early according to Bengals fans.

Cats on the Hunt!

Charlotte, North Carolina is also known as the Queen City and the football team that plays there had a better outcome than the one that resides on the Ohio River and borders the state of Kentucky.

Over in the NFC, the Cardinals entered the playoffs, as the lone team “without” a so called “franchise quarterback”. It showed as the Carolina Panthers continued to ride their successful formula of playing great defense sprinkled with a good rushing attack to smother Arizona for a 27-16 victory.

Carolina’s franchise signal caller, Cam Newton, overcame two turnovers and threw for 198 yards and two touchdowns and RB Jonathan Stewart ran for 123 yards and a score on a rain-soaked afternoon. The story of the day, as it has been for the last quarter of the season in Carolina is the play of the defense. The Cardinals finished with 78 total yards, the fewest in a postseason game in NFL history. The previous record was held by the 1958 Browns (86 vs. Giants). Arizona had 51 passing yards, the fewest by a team to throw multiple interceptions in a playoff game since the 1977 Broncos (26 passing yards, 4 interceptions vs. Cowboys). Their starting quarterback in that game (Super Bowl XII) was Craig Morton.

The Panthers D is leading the way to Seattle

The Panthers D is leading the way to Seattle

Cards QB Ryan Lindley had 82 passing yards, the fifth-fewest in a playoff game by a player with at least 25 pass attempts and the fewest since Daunte Culpepper (78 vs. Giants) in 2000, according to the Elisa Sports Bureau.

The Panthers defense also forced three turnovers to earn the franchise's first postseason victory in nine years. Carolina’s defense continued to play stingy football as they entered the playoffs allowing an average of just 11 points per game over their final four regular season games.

If you’re wondering how Arizona scored at all –let’s just say they were lucky. The Cardinals managed two touchdown drives on Saturday that started on the Carolina 17- and the Carolina 30-yard line. And they were helped by 15 penalty yards.

The Cats finished 4-0 in December to finish 7-8-1 but by winning the sorry NFC South, were able to host Saturday’s game.  With their Wild Card win, Carolina has now won five in a row and will travel to Seattle to take on the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks—-who will have the No.1 defense in football waiting for them.

How Bout Dem Cowboys!

Americas Team, the Dallas Cowboys got a controversial 24-20 home win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

The controversy occurred when Detroit was driving with a 20-17 lead midway through the fourth quarter. Referee Pete Morelli announced a pass interference penalty against the Cowboys Anthony Hitchens on a third-down pass to Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew. But officials reversed the call and picked up the flag without explanation. Lion’s punter Sam Martin had a 10-yard punt after the Lions tried to draw Dallas offside on fourth-and-1, which gave Dallas great field position.

you be the judge

you be the judge

Much of the pressure for the Cowboys laid squarely on the shoulders of QB Tony Romo and head coach Jason Garrett. Heading into Sunday, this was Romo’s eighth career "win-or-go-home" game, including playoff games and Week 17 games that the Cowboys had to win in order to make the postseason. Romo was 1-6 in his previous 7 such games. His only win came 5 years ago in the Wild Card round against the Eagles.

Matthew Stafford entered the game 0-16 in road games against teams that finished the season with a winning record, the third-most losses without a win in such games for any quarterback since the 1970 merger.

Romo, who was sacked six times in the contest, stood in the pocket and took advantage of the nullified penalty and bad punt. Never once throwing off his back foot, as he had done in several of the win or go home losses that resulted in game ending interceptions for the opposition, Romo led the Cowboys on an 11 play- 59 yard drive. The drive included a 21-yard pass to Jason Witten on a critical fourth-and-six and ended when the Cowboys QB found Terrence Williams for an eight yard TD pass, which turned out to be the winner.

This is the 1st time in franchise history that the Cowboys have won a playoff game after trailing by double digits at halftime. They previously were 0-8 in those games.

Undefeated on the road this season, the Cowboys will travel to Green Bay to take on Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. No other team won more than five games away from home this season but something will have to give as the Pack went 8-0 at home this year. The only other team not to lose at home this season was the Denver Broncos, who host the Indianapolis Colts this weekend.

 

 

NFL Rewind: Wild Card Weekend Edition

January 5, 2015 in NFL Observations

1. To me there were two matchups I looked forward to watching this weekend and two I really didn't.  First was the last game between the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys.     tonyromo2

Much controversy in this one as the refs decided to play a factor.  I could talk about the play on the field but what the refs did is a joke.  Would Detroit have won if they didn't pick up the flag?  No one knows.  It was just a ridiculous decision the refs made to pick up that flag.  How?  It was a clear penalty and if they didn't throw a flag at least I would just say it was a badly blown call.  But to pick it up?  I can't believe what I heard Mike Perreira say that the officiating crew was working together for the first time all season.  Again, why?  I am over it.  Dez taking off his helmet too?  Ok, over it now.

Tony Romo played well enough to win but so did Matt Stafford.  I am still waiting for this Dallas defense to implode and next week in Lambeau could be the time.  But then again these are the games the Packers seem to blow recently come playoff time.  But I like the Packers still.  I think it could be bad also like their beatdown of the Eagles during the season.

2. The other matchup I had interest in was the great rivalry between the Ravens and Steelers.

Going into I was very unsure who I thought would win.  Well, the Ravens did and were convincing in the end.  They outplayed the Steelers who could have really used Le'Veon Bell on Saturday night.  Not an excuse but he was surely missed in all facets of the Pittsburgh offense which was one of the league's best.

Enough about the losing team though let’s go back to Baltimore which once again has their fans believing they could make another road run.  I don't expect this Ravens team with the secondary issues to go into New England and win but in the back of my head I have something telling me it could happen.  The Ravens always seem to have the Pats and Brady's number.  And when it turns into January, Joe Flacco becomes a new player and cements himself as a big time postseason quarterback.  Gonna go with the Pats, but wouldn't put any cash on it!

3. As for the other games.  Carolina and Indy won those.

A few notes I have include first of all that Ryan Lindley shouldn't ever be starting a playoff game.  You can't blame the Cards who lost two QB's but I would think I would have taken a chance early with Logan Thomas.  What was a great season it looked to be for the Cards eight weeks ago is now quickly over.  As for the Panthers I as many thought a Lindley-led Cards would be a victory for Cam.  I don't expect them to go into Seattle and win but Cam is not scared.  Flip his car and he barely misses any time.  Cam and Benjamin won't be afraid to challenge Richard Sherman also.

And to no one’s shock the Bengals lost another playoff game.  Tony Romo is now off the hook and Andy Dalton and Marvin Lewis have that spot locked up.  Now can Andrew Luck finally go back to back wins in the playoffs?  I act like he is in his 8th year or so.  I have a feeling he wins this game next week in Denver and then maybe the following week as well.  Luck is going to make the Super Bowl at some point soon.  Then again 2 years ago I would have said the same thing for Robert Griffin!

4. Final hits

a. Next to how much money the Redskins give Suh, the Cowboys offseason to me could be interesting.  I think they find a way to pay Dez but Spray Tan not completely sure.  Running backs again get screwed.  Maybe the Cowboys let Murray walk and end up waiting on Jerry's boy AP?  I wouldn't be shocked.
b. Doug Marrone just walked away for a team that seemed to be on a rise.  I don't know all the inside stuff but if it’s mainly over the Sammy Watkins trade I would be shocked.  I think really overpaid but not bad enough to walk.
c. Philly fired a personnel guy in Tom Gamble after two seasons with winning records.  So he was in with Chip Kelly but got fired and now Kelly is the main decision maker?  Wouldn't you just keep him?  More to this than I know.  Sal Pal needs to help me out.
d. I don't think I would take Mariota at the top of the draft even I needed a QB.  But I may take a chance on Jameis.  Even after the Seminoles got smashed at the Rose Bowl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 2014 NFL Season Rewind

January 3, 2015 in 2014 NFL STATS AND FACTS, NFL Observations, NFL Playoffs, Super Bowl

As the NFL playoffs begin, I’m not quite ready to put to bed the fabulous 2014 regular season. One of the reasons the NFL has taken over as the most popular sport in this country is that the game appeals to nearly every sports fans biggest needs when watching pro sports.

Thanks in part to revenue sharing and a hard salary cap, the NFL offers parity which in turn offers nearly every fan the hope each summer that their team can be the Cinderella in the upcoming season. Fans love scoring, which is why, ‘the other futbol” has failed to catch on in this country–there simply isn't enough of it on the "pitch" and certainly the action on the gridiron, while it can be slow at times, moves at faster pace than it does on a soccer field. There is another reason futbol hasn’t quite caught on and football reigns supreme—the physical nature (or lack thereof) of the game. Fans love the big hits that go hand in hand with the NFL.manningnew

The 2014 NFL season offered it all—close games, dramatic endings, high scoring and of course big hits. Speaking of parity and competition, heading into the final week of the regular season, 16 teams were in contention for a trip to Super Bowl XLIX. Entering Week 17, 10 of the 16 games had playoff implications.

This is a two part series on the 2014 season as I, with the help of NFL Communications, take a look back at some of the better performances of the season. In part one we will look at 10 of the best overall stats and facts from the 2014 season and recap what some of the teams accomplished and in part two, we will look at some of the better individual efforts of the 2014 season.

With Wild Card Saturday here, here is one final look back at a great regular season.

The Beat Goes On:

Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs that were not in the postseason the year before. Five teams – Dallas (12-4), Arizona (11-5), Detroit (11-5), Pittsburgh (11-5) and Baltimore (10-6) – accomplished the feat this year. The normal amount of teams accomplishing this amazing feat is usually, five, six or seven teams. Since 1990, four teams has happened only three times while five teams making the playoffs after failing to the previous season has happened 10 times. On 11 occasions six or seven teams has accomplished this feat and in 2003, eight teams made the playoffs that did not make them in 2002.

It’s Not Over Until it’s Over:

Games continued to have a flare for the dramatic, as comebacks were a frequent theme. In 2014, there were five comeback victories of 21+ points, the most in a single season in NFL history. There were also 43 comeback wins of 10+ points, tied for the most in a season in NFL history (43 in 2013).

The most comeback wins of 21+ points in a single season in NFL history:

SEASON 21+ POINT COMEBACK WINS

2014–5

2013–4

2011–4

1999—4

Plenty of Scoring in 2014:

Nine teams scored at least 400 points this season – Green Bay (486), Denver (482), Philadelphia (474), New England (468), Dallas (467), Indianapolis (458), Pittsburgh (436), Baltimore (409) and New Orleans (401) –tying the 2009 and 2012 seasons for the second-most all-time. Those nine teams combined for a .674 winning percentage, and seven qualified for the playoffs.

Year of the Quarterback:

NFL QBs put together a historically proficient and prolific year in 2014. The league-wide completion percentage (62.6), league-wide passer rating (88.9) and league-wide touchdown pass totals (807) were at historic levels, topping the previous records set in 2013 (61.2 completion percentage; 86.0 passer rating; 804 TD passes). The league-wide interception percentage of 2.52 percent was the lowest of any season in NFL history, surpassing the previous mark of 2.63 in 2012.

Mistake Free Performances:

There were 58 individual performances with three touchdown passes without an interception in 2014, the most of any season in NFL history (55 in 2013). There were nine individual games with five or more TD passes this season, the second-most in a single season in NFL history (11 in 2004). An NFL-record nine quarterbacks had 30+ touchdown passes – Luck (40), Peyton Manning (39), Aaron Rodgers (38), Tony Romo (34), Tom Brady (33), Drew Brees (33), Ben Roethlisberger (32), Philip Rivers (31) & Eli Manning (30) – surpassing the previous high of five (2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013).

The More the Merrier:

Games averaged 696.2 total net yards per game, the second-best mark in NFL annals (697.0 in 2013). Explosive passing offenses fueled that trend, with an average of 473.6 net passing yards per game, an all-time high (471.2 in 2013).

Time is of the Essence:

The 2014 season featured an average game time of 3:05:53, the shortest average game time since 2010 (3:03:30). It is also the first time the average game time has declined from the previous season since 2008.

Return to Sender:

The league-wide kickoff return average of 23.8 yards was tied for the best in NFL history (23.8 in 2011).

Defense-Defense-Defense:

With all that offense, defenses were heard from as well. The top three NFL teams in total defense all qualified for the playoffs and won at least 11 games each – Seattle (267.1), Detroit (300.9) and Denver (305.2). Those three clubs had a combined win percentage of .729.

Team Effort:

Many NFL teams accomplished amazing feats in 2014, here are some of the more noteworthy stats and facts from some of the leagues better performances throughout the season.

larryfitzgeraldARIZONA CARDINALS:

The Cards had 11 wins, tied for the most in a season in franchise history (1975, 1948, 1925). Arizona’s seven home wins are the most for the franchise in a single season since 1925, when the team won 11 of its 13 home games and became the first team since 1982 (Green Bay) to start 2-0 after trailing entering the fourth quarter in both games and not allowing a single fourth-quarter point.

Head coach Bruce Arians, who should win coach of the year honors, has 21 wins in his first two seasons, the most by a head coach in his first two seasons in franchise history.

Baltimore Ravens:

Set a single-season franchise record with 409 points scored and reached the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons under John Harbaugh.

Buffalo Bills:

One of the more surprising moves in the NFL this week was Bills head coach Doug Marrone opting out of his contract—however, his Bills defense led the NFL this season with 54 sacks.

Carolina Panthers:

The Panthers reached the playoffs despite posting a regular season record of 7-8-1. However they were one of only four teams to post a 4-0 mark in December and became the first team in NFC South history to win back-to-back division championships.

Dallas Cowboys:

The Dallas Cowboys finished the regular season 8-0 on the road and became the sixth team with a perfect 8-0 road record since the 16-game schedule was adopted in 1978. Four of the previous five teams to accomplish the feat advanced to the Super Bowl.

Denver Broncos:

The Broncos defeated Kansas City, Oakland and San Diego on the road this season, and have won 12 consecutive divisional road games (2011-14), tying San Francisco (12 from 1987-90) for the longest such streak in NFL history. The Broncos have not lost to an AFC West opponent on the road since December 19, 2010 (39-23 loss at Oakland).

Denver scored at least 20 points in 30 consecutive games, the longest streak in NFL history. The St. Louis Rams (1999-2000) previously held the record with 28 consecutive game with at least 20 points scored.

The Broncos spent $100 million to fix a leaky defense that many in Denver felt cost them an opportunity to win the Super Bowl—through 17 weeks of the NFL’s regular season it appears to have worked. Denver led the AFC in total defense, allowing 305.2 yards per game. The team’s offense ranked third in the AFC (402.9 yards per game).

Detroit Lions:

The Lions became the first team since the 1994 New York Giants to score the game-winning points inside of the two-minute mark of the fourth quarter in three consecutive weeks (Weeks 7, 8, 10, with a bye in Week 9).  In Weeks 7 and 8, became the fifth team in NFL history 8 to win back to-back games when trailing by at least 14 points one week and by 21+ points the following week.

Green Bay Packers:

The Pack became the second team in NFL history with 700 regular-season victories (710-541-37). The Packers joined the Chicago Bears (735-545-42) as the only teams ever to accomplish the feat. Became only the second team in NFL history to score 53+ points in back-to-back games (Los Angeles Rams, 1950)

Houston Texans:

Under new head coach Bill O’Brien, Houston became only the fifth team in NFL history to start 2-0 in at least five consecutive seasons: Dallas Cowboys (1965-73), Los Angeles Rams (1966-70), Dallas Cowboys (1975-79), Chicago Bears (1984-91) and Miami Dolphins (1994-99).

Indianapolis Colts:

With Andrew Luck under center the Colts scored six touchdowns of at least 30 yards in Week 13, becoming the first team to accomplish the feat since Washington (seven) did it on November 27, 1966 against the New York Giants.

Minnesota Vikings:

Rookie Head Coach Mike Zimmer had an impressive first year posting a 7-9 record with a rookie QB. However, the Vikings became the first team since the 1975 Detroit Lions (September 21, 1975 en route to a 30-16 win at Green Bay) to return two blocked punts for touchdowns in a half.

New England Patriots:

After starting 2-2 and getting blown on Monday Night Football by the KC Chiefs, the Patriots went onto to accomplish a lot in 2014—especially for a team that was washed up and finished on that cold October night in Kansas City.

New England won their sixth consecutive AFC East division title (2009-present), which is tied for the second-longest streak in NFL history. Only the Los Angeles Rams (seven, 1973-79) have posted a longer streak. The Patriots, who also won five consecutive division titles from 2003-07, are the first team in NFL history to win 11 division championships in a 12-year span.0ap2000000310994_video_cp

BUT WAIT—THERE IS MORE—MUCH MORE!

They finished the year 12-4 and earned a first-round bye for the fifth consecutive season, the longest streak of any NFL team since the current playoff format began in 1990, surpassing Dallas (1992-95) and San Francisco (1992-95).

Once the Pats recorded their ninth win over the Lions on November 23, they became the sixth team in NFL history to post at least 14 consecutive winning seasons and the first to do so since the San Francisco 49ers (1983-98, 16 seasons). Those 12 victories allowed New England to join the 49ers (1983-1998; 16) as the only teams in NFL history to record 12 consecutive 10-win seasons.

And if all of that isn’t enough to make you hate the Pats or love them even more—there is this. New England became the first team in NFL history (Weeks 9, 11 and 12, with a bye in Week 10) to win three consecutive games by 20 or more points, each against an opponent with a record of at least three games above .500.

New Orleans Saints:

The Saints missed the playoffs but it wasn’t because of their offense. With Drew Brees at QB, the Saints led the NFL in total offense, averaging 411.4 yards per game.

Philadelphia Eagles:

2014 was a tough luck year for Philly, as they became this year’s version of the Arizona Cardinals. The Eagles finished with a 10-6 record but did not make the playoffs. However, Philadelphia did accomplish some “special” things in 2014.

The Eagles scored 11 return touchdowns (three blocked punts, two kick returns, two punt returns, two interception returns and two fumble returns) this season, the third-highest total in NFL history. Ten different Eagles scored a return touchdown, the most in a single season all-time.

They also set single-season franchise records in points scored (474) and total touchdowns (54).

Coming from behind was a major theme for Philly in 2014. In a 34-17 Week 1 win against Jacksonville, became the first team in NFL history to win a game by at least 17 points after being shut out and trailing by 17+ points at halftime. They became the first team in NFL history to start 3-0 and overcome a 10 plus point deficit in all three games.

Seattle Seahawks:

The defending Super Bowl Champs became the first team to lead the league in scoring defense (15.9 points per game) in three consecutive seasons since the Purple People Eaters of the Minnesota Vikings defense did so from 1969-71.

When the Seahawks defeated Washington 27-17 in Week 5, it was their ninth-consecutive win on Monday Night Football. Their nine-game winning streak on MNF is tied for the second-longest such streak since 1970 (Oakland, 14).

In part 2 we will examine the the better individual performances from the year.