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Week 3 In Review

September 24, 2014 in Baltimore Ravens, NFL, NFL Game Preview, NFL Personnel, Seattle Seahawks, Super Bowl

And then there were three. With three weeks in the book, only three teams remain unbeaten in the National Football League. The Cincinnati Bengals remain the lone AFC team without a loss while the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles sit atop their respective divisions in the NFC, with 3-0 marks. The chance to make the playoffs starting 3-0 are very good in the NFL. Since 1990, when the current playoff format was adopted, 75.2 percent of teams (91 of 121) to start 3-0 have qualified for the postseason.

Of the three current unbeaten and despite finishing 10-6 last season, only the Cardinals missed the playoffs in 2013. Excluding the postseason and going back to last season the hottest team is the Philadelphia Eagles. Head Coach Chip Kelly and his high flying birds have won 10 of their past 11 regular season games.

Bengals & Dalton are No.1

Bengals & Dalton are No.1 in some power polls

The other birds in the mix, the Cardinals aren’t far off their ornithological foes, in terms of carrying over success from last season. Arizona has won 10 of their past 12 regular season games and done so competing in the tough NFC West. It is only the third time in the past 41 seasons (1974, 2012); the Cardinals have started a season 3-0. And with a bye this week, Arizona will finish the first month of the season with a perfect record, marking the third time since the 1970 merger that the franchise posted an undefeated record in September (1974, 2012). Philadelphia is 3-0 for the first time since 2004 when the Eagles last appeared in the Super Bowl. That season, the club finished 13-3, claimed the NFC East division title, earned the top seed in the conference, won the NFC Championship Game, and advanced to Super Bowl XXXIX.

The Eagles have reached their undefeated mark in the most dramatic fashion of the three unbeaten. The Eagles have overcome deficits of at least 10 points in each of the team’s first three games and are the first team in NFL history to start 3-0 when trailing by at least 10 points in all three games. That includes wins in the club’s first two games when Philadelphia trailed by at least 14 points in the second half. The Eagles are the only team in league annals to start 2-0 after trailing by at least 14 points in the second half of each game. Philadelphia has scored 74 second-half points – the most in the league – and the club’s +50 point differential after halftime leads the NFL.

Philadelphia has scored 101 points (33.7 per game), the second-most in the league (Atlanta, 103), and is the only team in the NFL to score at least 30 points in all three games. They have the sixth best offense in the NFL and since Kelly took over as the head coach in 2013, the Eagles have scored at least 30 points in a game 11 times and are 9-2 (.818) in those contests.

While the Eagles are getting it done with offense, the Bengals and Cardinals are playing great on defense. Cincinnati (33) and Arizona (45 tied with Detroit) have allowed the fewest points in the NFL this season. For the third straight week, the Cardinals had a shutout in the fourth quarter. Arizona has now outscored its opponents 30-0 in the final 15 minutes.

FROM TOP TO BOTTOM:

Seven teams entered the week with an opportunity to remain winless. Three of the seven teams cashed in and enter week four 0-4. The Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Oakland Raiders remain the NFL’s only winless teams. Being winless after three weeks isn’t an enviable position if you entered the season with playoff aspirations. Coming back from an 0-3 start is a feat only five coaches in NFL history have managed to accomplish: Bobby Ross (Chargers, 1992), Walt Michaels (Jets, 1981), John McKay (Buccaneers, 1982), Wayne Fontes (Lions, 1995) and Wade Phillips (Bills, 1998). One of those seasons was a strike year, and obviously, no one has done it since 2000.

THE NOT SO SUNSHINE STATE

nfl-fan-map-floridaNotorious for its football talent, the state of Florida is currently home to the reigning national champions of college football and No.1 team in the country in the Florida State Seminoles. The Florida Gators have stumbled in the mighty SEC the past two seasons but not so long ago won two (2008 &2006) BCS National Championships. In fact, Florida college teams won five of the 16 BCS crystal footballs. Most of that talent was recruited from Florida High Schools.

However, the NFL in the state of Florida is another story altogether. The Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Jacksonville Jaguars are a combined 1-8 and have been outscored 147-297 (-150). Combined, they are averaging 16 points per contest while allowing 33 points.

Poor play and injuries on offense has led to change at the QB position in two of the three cities. In Tampa Bay, quarterback Josh McCown has a sprained right thumb and is expected to miss at least one game. With McCown expected to sit out Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh, second-year pro Mike Glennon is expected to get the start. In a strange way, that’s a good thing for new head coach Lovie Smith. For better or worse, the coach is going to find out what he has in Glennon. Smith previously has called Glennon the quarterback of the future. That time period might be coming faster than Smith wanted, but he has no choice.

In Jacksonville, head coach Gus Bradley stated that the No.3 overall pick in May’s NFL Draft would sit the bench and develop and then step onto the field as the team’s starting quarterback in 2015. Many considered the strategy a smart approach, especially with the struggles that emerged along the offensive line and the three rookie receivers that made double-digit mental mistakes. By the end of third quarter in Jacksonville’s Week 2 loss to the Redskins, QB Chad Henne had eight completions and had been sacked eight times. This past Sunday and after a lackluster first half in which the offense gained only 55 yards, generated two first downs, and scored zero points, Bradley benched Henne and handed the job to Bortles. The Jags QB of the future starting in 2015 took the field for good just 10 quarters into the 2014 season.

tannehillBortles completed 14 of 24 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns. He started 1-for-5 on his first drive and went 13-for-19 the rest of the half. He also threw a pair of interceptions, including one on a terrible throw across his body that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. But in the end, the standout at Central Florida, who passed for 7,598 yards and 56 touchdowns in his career there, breathed life into the Jags offense and that’s all it took. Following the game Bradley announced Bortles would start this week vs. San Diego.

In south Florida, the Ryan Tannehill era began at the start of the 2012 season and it appears to be in danger of ending sooner than later. The former Texas A&M Aggie is under fire in Miami. Following Sundays’ 34-15 loss at home to the Chiefs, many believe Tannehill has not made the proper strides thus far in an important third year, and fans in Miami are tired of waiting. Tannehill’s passer rating has gone down each week. He had an 80.0 rating in Week 1, a 73.6 rating in Week 2 and 70.4 rating in Week 3. At least statistically, Tannehill has regressed in Miami’s new offense under Bill Lazor. There is talk and “no talk” that a quarterback change could soon be in the works. During his Monday presser, Philbin, on four separate occasions, declined to answer whether Tannehill be the starter for this week.

In all fairness, Tannehill isn’t getting much support. According to Pro Football Focus research, the Dolphins are second in the NFL with 11 drops after three games. Only the Baltimore Ravens (12) have more dropped passes. Miami had three drops in Sunday's 34-15 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He was sacked and NFL high 58 times last season and so far this season, has been sacked nine times, which is tied for third most through weeks and on pace for 48 total in 2014.

SPEAKING OF ROOKIE QB’s:

downloadFive quarterbacks, Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles (3), Cleveland’s Johnny Manziel (22), Minnesota’s Teddy Bridgewater (32), Oakland’s Derek Carr (36), and the Patriots Jimmy Garoppolo (62), were selected in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft in May. Only Carr has started for his team, as he beat out veteran Matt Schaub during the preseason. Carr has performed like a rookie on a bad team. His completion percentage is nearly 63 percent but he’s averaging less than 200 yards passing per game with three TD’s and three INT’s. Only Garoppolo has yet to see any game time—in one form or another.

The Browns are creating packages for Manziel where he shows up for a play or two and then exits the game. Manziel lost out to Brian Hoyer in Cleveland and is 0-1 passing this year. But he was involved in some illegal trickery Sunday vs. the Ravens. After replacing starter Brian Hoyer and handing off on a running play, Manziel appeared to be leaving the field when he ran toward the sideline. He stopped a little short of the sideline, and with his back to the action, pretended to have an animated conversation with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan when the ball was snapped. Shanahan, who was keeping an eye on what was going on behind Manziel, told him”, ‘Go”, and the former Heisman Trophy winner took off.

Manziel caught a short pass from Hoyer and sprinted down Cleveland's sideline before he was shoved out of bounds at the Baltimore 23. The play worked to perfection but Browns rookie running back Terrance West was called for an illegal shift, negating Manziel's 39-yard pickup. However, the play was illegal because the NFL ruled on Monday that a player who lines up less than five yards from the sidelines cannot do so between the 32 and the 32 yard line—this is the area the teams are allowed to stand on the sidelines.

Teddy Bridgewater debuted in Minnesota this past week after starter Matt Cassel left the game with a foot injury. Bridgewater hit 12 of his 20 passes for 150 yards and ran six times for 27 yards. He was impressive versus Rob Ryan’s blitz packages as well. When New Orleans brought extra pressure, though, Bridgewater was poised, which is what many NFL teams like about him last spring. He went 6-for-9 against the blitz, throwing for 70 yards, and scrambling once for another 15. Bridgewater also completed four of his five passes that traveled at least 10 yards in the air, according to ESPN Stats & Information, and gained 69 yards on those throws. He connected with Greg Jennings on a 30-yard corner route — on a play where Cordarrelle Patterson was also wide open in the vicinity of the throw.

Cassel is expected to miss significant time with broken bones in his left foot. Along with the Bortles era starting in Jacksonville this week, it’s likely so is Bridgewater’s. It’s worth pointing out the Patriots currently have the NFL’s 26th ranked offense and Tom Brady is struggling to get the offense moving—could Garoppolo see some snaps in his future—not likely!.

Other news & Notes from around the NFL Week 3

With a little Luck:

The Colts avoided a disastrous 0-3 start with a 370-yard, four-touchdown day from quarterback Andrew Luck (31-39-4-0). In doing so, Luck became the first Colts quarterback with 350+ yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 75+ completion percentage in a game since Johnny Unitas did so in 1967. Luck completed eight passes for 20 yards or more, one short of his personal high, and he became only the second player in Colts history to throw four TD passes of less than 10 yards in one game. The first was Jack Trudeau against the Dolphins in 1989

Those Browns:

In losing for the 12th time is their past 13 games against the Ravens, the Cleveland Browns once again figured out how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. But losing may start to become a thing of the past as their young players continue to develop and find the end zone. Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West both scored in the Browns' 23-21 loss to Baltimore. That marked the first time since 1990 that a pair of rookie running backs both scored a rushing TD in the same game for the same team this early in a season. The last rookie RB teammates to do so in Week 3 or earlier were Johnny Johnson and Anthony Thompson of the Cardinals in 1990.

Staying with the Browns & Ravens—with a 101-yard receiving game Steve Smith now has 25 career 100-yard receiving games on the road. Only Jerry Rice (39) and Marvin Harrison (26) have more since 1960. Smith passed Randy Moss, Isaac Bruce, Michael Irvin, and Terrell Owens. The five catches for 101 yards pushed Smith to 290 yards for the season, the most by a player in the first three games with the franchise since Anquan Boldin's 287. Ravens fullback Kyle Juszczyk caught a nine yard TD pass from Joe Flacco and is the first player from Harvard with a receiving TD since Pat McInally on Dec. 21, 1980. McInally was the Bengals punter from 1976 to 1985, and also was a wide receiver during the first half of his career. In that game, the Harvard grad scored on a 59-yard touchdown pass to tie the score at 24 against—you guessed it—the Cleveland Browns. The Browns actually won that game, 27-24, when Don Cockroft booted the 22 yard game winner. `

Americas Comeback:

The Dallas Cowboys erased a 21-0 deficit to defeat St. Louis 34-31. This marked the fourth time this season a team has overcome a deficit of at least 17 points to win, tied for the most through the first three weeks of a season since the 1970 merger (2011). This is the first time each of the first three weeks of a season has had at least one 17+ point comeback win since 1982.

Super Rematch:

download (6)The Seattle Seahawks defeated the Denver Broncos 26-20 in overtime. The game was the sixth Super Bowl rematch in the following regular season and the first since 1997 (Green Bay vs. New England). The defending Super Bowl champion has now won four of the six meetings in the rematch.

QB Russell Wilson was a big reason why legendary QB Peyton Manning didn’t complete his comeback. Wilson was at his best with his legs in overtime Sunday. Five of Wilson's six pass attempts during the game-winning drive came from outside the pocket, and he completed three of them for first downs. Wilson also rushed four times for 21 yards on the drive, earning two first downs via scrambles. Wilson is a now a combined 6-0 vs. Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees.

Despite the game tying drive and subsequent two-point conversion to help his team force overtime, Peyton Manning threw a costly pick in the fourth quarter deep in Seahawks territory. Since the start of the 2013 season, six of Manning’s 11 interceptions have come in the 4th quarter.

ACCORDING TO THE ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU:

Eight touchdown passes in three games for Cutler

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw two touchdown passes in Chicago's 27-19 win against the Jets on Monday night. Cutler has thrown eight TD passes in the Bears first three games this season, which breaks the old franchise record of seven in the team's first three games, set by Sid Luckman in 1946.

Foles and Cousins put on a show

Norm Snead vs. Sonny Jurgensen in 1967, Joe Theismann vs. Ron Jaworski in 1982, and yesterday, Nick Foles vs. Kirk Cousins. The Eagles and Redskins have faced each other in 158 regular-season games, but only those three quarterback matchups produced a pair of 300-yard passing performances. And among those three games, only yesterday's shootout, which resulted in the 37-34 Eagles, featured three or more TD passes by both QBs.

Murray sets all-time rushing mark vs. Rams

DeMarco Murray gained 100 yards on 24 carries in the Cowboys' 34-31 victory at St. Louis. Murray, who rushed for 253 and 175 yards in his two previous games against the Rams, set an all-time NFL record for rushing yards in a player's first three games against one team. Murray's total of 528 rushing yards versus St. Louis exceeded Eric Dickerson's three-game total against the St. Louis Cardinals by 3 yards.

Seattle's long OT drive denies Denver, ties record

The Seahawks drove 80 yards in 13 plays to deny the Broncos possession in overtime and win the rematch of Super Bowl XLVIII, 26-20. Seattle made a total of only five Touchdown drives of 13 or more plays over the past four seasons (2010-13), and added another in its opening-day win over Green Bay two weeks ago. But of greater historical importance, the Seahawks tied the NFL record for the longest overtime touchdown drive, as measured by the number of plays, in a regular-season game. Two other teams drove 13 plays to an OT TD: Denver at Kansas City in 1978, and the Giants at Philadelphia in 2006.

Sanu & Dalton reverse roles

Andy Dalton didn't throw a touchdown pass in the Bengals' 33-7 win over the Titans. But wide receiver Mohamed Sanu did, to Dalton himself. Sanu is now 4-for-4 as a passer in his three seasons in the NFL, and his 18-yarder to Dalton was the shortest of those four completions. He previously connected with A.J. Green (a 73-yard TD), Giovani Bernard (25 yards), and Brandon Tate (50 yards last week). Over the last 30 seasons, only one other player completed each of his first four passes in the NFL, each for more than 10 yards, and he wasn't a quarterback either. Frank Wycheck, a tight end, did it for the Titans (1999-2001).

 

Monday NFL Rewind – Super Bowl Rematch Recap & MNF Prediction

September 22, 2014 in NFL Observations

  1. Game of the day was expected to be the Super Bowl rematch between the Broncos and the Seahawks.            012314-sports-super-bowl-denver-broncos-peyton-manning-seattle-seahawks-russell-wilson

And for most the game the Hawks dominated like last February’s matchup. The way the game was going had many praying for a Super Bowl rematch not to happen again.  Peyton Manning and Broncos got it going and made a great game of it.  For the Broncos, it has to be confidence builder against the Legion of Doom.

It was tough for Manning that he brought his team all the way back to tie the game late with a two pointer but didn’t get a chance to touch the ball in overtime.  The new Broncos defense has to at least hold Russell Wilson to a field goal, but they couldn’t.  Seattle is obviously still very good after a tough loss in San Diego last week.  Both teams are playoff bound and maybe a 3rd matchup in 12 months is a possibility.

 

  1. The game of the day was the matchup between the Eagles and Redskins easily.

It had points and a huge brawl after a cheap shot on Nick Foles that saw both teams lose key players.  The talk of the game will most likely be about the losing quarterback more than the winning quarterback.  Maybe because we have seen Nick Foles do what Kirk Cousins did plenty of times.  But for the Redskins the talk should be positive as Cousins made plenty of plays in the game, especially early on.  The pick he threw was huge and a bad throw, but remember this is a guy who has seen limited action.

For the Redskins the biggest concern has to be building up injuries after going through the preseason pretty clean.  The biggest loss that could crush the Skins is the Achilles tear that Deangelo Hall suffered in the second half.  Hall not only is needed for his play but he has amazingly become a leader and now the Skins may be going with two guys at cornerback who have played less than two seasons.  Jason Hatcher is a huge concern also because he has changed the defense and he needs to be out there.  Haslett’s crew got solid reviews after Jax but came back to reality yesterday.

 

  1. As for the winning team the Eagles, they once again came back after an early deficit.

    Jason Peters

    Courtesy of ICON SMI

Foles was able to work the Redskins defense for most of the game as Kelly was able to get them in good matchups like safeties on Jeremy Maclin.  The Eagles offensive line needs to get healthy and are fortunate Jason Peters didn’t get tossed earlier or the game could have been very different.

I saw a huge negative for the 3-0 Eagles team though they will have to figure out.   The Eagles will have to find a way to generate a pass rush very soon or matchups against better teams than the Redskins are going to be tough.  It may not matter how good the offense can be if the defense cannot get off the field.  I think this could be a huge difference come playoff time against teams like Seattle or even the current 1-2 guys like San Fran, Green Bay or New Orleans.  If Cousins can pick apart the secondary I would be worried what Rodgers or Brees can do.

 

  1. Quick Hits

A. The Saints didn’t blowout the Vikings to get their first win but they won and I wouldn’t be surprised if they get it going.  Carolina did a 180 Sunday night and Cam Newton just isn’t right.  How long can he last?

B. Even though it was something you see on grainy high school highlights at the end of SportsCenter, I did like the pass to Manziel though.  It almost worked for a huge play in a tight game.

C. Impressed but not surprised by the Cardinals.  I thought they would be very good but I hope for Arizona fans the injuries don’t get too overwhelming and bring the Cards back down.  Stanton has been impressive to step in the past two weeks and get two victories.

D. How bad is Tampa?  Lovie hasn’t been able to turn them around and they are worse than Schiano left them.  I think it started by just dropping a talent like Revis.  Why would they do that?  Julio Jones destroyed them Thursday.

E. Green Bay and Detroit crushed the fantasy world unless you are in a 32 team league and played the Lions defense.  But huge home win for the Lions which could go a long way in a tough three team division.

 

  1. Monday Night Football Prediction:    cutler2

As for tonight.  I hate when the Jets play in primetime because they are so boring to me.  I think Chris Johnson busts one for 70-80 yards tonight for the Jets but the Bears even with hobbling receivers are too much for the Jets in the end.

Bears 20 Jets 10

 

 

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by pjmoran

NFL Week 3 Games to Watch

September 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

Here are the top five games to watch for Week 3 of the 2014 NFL season:

 

  1. Chicago Bears at New York Jets

These teams are both 1-1, and they were each involved in wild comebacks last week. Unfortunately for the Jets, they were on the wrong side of the comeback. They managed to blow an 18-point lead at Green Bay, but they were impressive and got some bad luck along the way. We knew how good the Jets’ front seven was heading into the season, but the effectiveness of their running game has taken everyone by surprise. The offensive line has been great, and Chris Ivory is averaging 6.3 yards per carry. The same cannot be said about the Bears’ running game, but their passing attack was as good as advertised last Sunday. Jay Cutler led his team to a 17-point comeback on the road against the 49ers, and Brandon Marshall caught three touchdowns in the contest. Against a Jets secondary that was just torched by Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson, they might be able to repeat their performances.

Edge: Chicago

The Bears’ secondary is decimated by injuries, but luckily they shouldn’t be too worried about getting torn up by Geno Smith. Cutler and his receivers should have another big game, and I like the Bears to win on Monday night.

 

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers at Carolina Panthers

The good news for the Panthers is they have Cam Newton back, but the bad news is that they will be without Greg Hardy. The Pro Bowl defensive end has finally been suspended from the team, but the Carolina front seven should still be fine without him. If Newton plays as well as he did last week, then this team will be solid on both sides of the ball. Pittsburgh needs a win following a 26-6 loss last week against Baltimore, and they got three extra days of rest for this game. The Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown has been great, but besides them the team has been very average. The defense will have to be way better if they are going to stop Newton and Co.

Edge: Carolina

I think this will be a low scoring game, and I’ll take the home team to come out on top. I don’t think Cam Newton has to be sensational for them to win; he just can’t turn the ball over. The defense should slow down Le’Veon Bell, and I don’t expect Roethlisberger to tear up the secondary. I’m going with Carolina.

 

  1. Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions

Both of these NFC North teams are at .500, so the outcome of this game will really shake up the division. Green Bay pulled off an improbable comeback last Sunday against the Jets, mainly because Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson could not be stopped. Nelson had 209 receiving yards in the game, and there is no doubt that he is now one of the league’s premier receivers. But in this game, he will be sharing the field with the best receiver in the league. Calvin Johnson has been his usual, dominant self so far this year. The Packers will have to get a lot of pressure on Matthew Stafford, or else the Lions offense will shred their defense.

Edge: Detroit

This game will be an absolute shootout, and I think the Lions will pull it out for a huge win. Green Bay’s defense has looked terrible, and the Detroit offense has been known to be unstoppable at home. Aaron Rodgers is good enough to keep his team in the game until the end, but I like the Lions to get the victory.

 

  1. San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals

Arizona is 2-0 and atop the mighty NFC West, but they will be without their starting quarterback once again in this one. Carson Palmer is out, so Drew Stanton will get the nod for the second straight week. Stanton was mediocre against the Giants last week, but he did enough to earn a win for his team. Luckily for him, the Cardinals defense is almost good enough to win games on their own. They can force turnovers as much as anyone, and Colin Kaepernick threw three of them last Sunday. Kaepernick will have to be way better in this one if the 49ers are going to win. He usually plays well in big games, so I think the entire 49ers offense will rebound nicely.

Edge: San Francisco

The Cardinals are for real and have a legitimate chance at making the playoffs, but I don’t like Stanton’s chances against the 49ers defense. Throw in solid performances from Kaepernick and Frank Gore, and that should be enough for the 49ers to move to 2-1.

 

  1. Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks

Well, you had to see this coming. This rematch of last year’s Super Bowl is the most anticipated regular season game I can recall in a long time. It’s no secret that Seattle absolutely embarrassed Denver in the Super Bowl, so Peyton Manning is out for revenge. The Broncos offense has picked off right where they left off last regular season, and the team is 2-0. And with its new additions, the defense has been much improved too. The Seahawks are coming off of a pretty shocking defeat against the Chargers, and the Legion of Boom looked vulnerable for the first time in a while. But this is a home game, which makes all of the difference for the Seahawks. Russell Wilson ups his game when they are in Seattle, and the rest of the team should as well. This one feels more like a playoff game than a regular season game.

Edge: Seattle

This one will be much closer than the Super Bowl, but I still think Seattle will come out on top. The Seahawks offense is just too good at home, and the defense will return to form. Peyton Manning will get his numbers, but he won’t get the win.

Plenty to See In Week 3

September 21, 2014 in NFL, NFL Game Preview, NFL Observations, Seattle Seahawks, Super Bowl, SUPER bOWL XLVIII

WEEK 3:

Three weeks into the NFL season and teams are already in danger of missing the playoffs. Crazy isn't it? The week kicked off Thursday night in Atlanta as the Falcons destroyed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 56-14. The Falcons' 56 points were the second-most in a single game in team history, just six shy of the team record set against the New Orleans Saints in 1973. It was also the second-largest margin of victory in team history, behind the 55-point win versus the Saints in that same game. As for the Buccaneers, the 56 points allowed are tied for second-most allowed in team history, while the 42-point loss is tied for third-most in team history.

Is the Marcus Mariota watch on in Tampa and are the Falcons really that good. The answer is yes and no respectively. The Bucs will need a franchise QB in the years to come of they are going to compete with Carolina, Atlanta and New Orleans. Somehow, McCown and Glennon just don’t have the ring of Newton, Ryan and Brees. images (1)

Under the current playoff format, only three of the 121 teams that started 0-3 have rallied to make the playoffs: the 1998 Bills, 1995 Lions and 1992 Chargers. In fact, the Chargers are the only team under this format to start a season 0-4 and not only make it to the playoffs but win a playoff game.

The Falcons are 2-1 and look better than the team that finished 4-12 in 2013. However, their defense won’t be good enough to be the 12-4 team they were in 2012. Coming into this contest, Atlanta entered Thursday night with the worst defense in the NFL in terms of yards, third worst in the NFC in points allowed and were the only team in the NFL this season without a sack. The streak has spanned 96 dropbacks and 166 minutes and 49 seconds of game time. They did record in Thursdays win. Coming into Thursday, the Falcons had allowed 100-plus rush yards in 15 straight games. That was the longest active streak in the league (the Texans are next with six such games).

The Falcons are a team that will likely struggle on the road and if they don’t win all six of their remaining home games, it’s likely they will be on the outside looking in come playoff time in a tough NFC.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WEEK 3:

The chances of making the playoffs after a 2-0 start are good but far from a sure thing. Since 1990, when the current playoff format was adopted, 124 of the 196 teams (63.3 percent) to start 2-0 have qualified for the postseason. However, with 14 games remaining, there’s plenty of time to turn things around. Since realignment in 2002, nearly 60 percent of the playoff teams (59.7 percent, 86 of 144) started the season at either 1-1 or 0-2. That includes five of the eight division champions from last year: Carolina (NFC South), Cincinnati (AFC North), Green Bay (NFC North), Indianapolis (AFC South), and Philadelphia (NFC East)

Being 3-0 is no guarantee either but numbers don’t lie. Seven teams are undefeated through the first two weeks of the season – ARIZONA, BUFFALO, CAROLINA, CINCINNATI, DENVER, HOUSTON, and PHILADELPHIA – and hope to move to 3-0 this weekend – 75.2 percent of teams (91 of 121) that started 3-0 since 1990 made the playoffs.

REMATCH:

When the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos meet tomorrow, it will be the third time since 1980 — and the first time since 1997 — that the participants from the previous Super Bowl meet the following year in the regular season. On Sept. 12, 1993, the Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys lost to the visiting Buffalo Bills 13-10 in Week 2. The Cowboys had clobbered the Bills 52-17 in the Super Bowl XXVII in January. In the rematch, the Bills took a 10-0 lead before the Cowboys rallied to tie the score in the fourth quarter on a 5-yard touchdown run by Kevin Williams. Bills kicker Steve Christie won the game with a 35-yard field goal to lift the Bills to 2-0.The Cowboys turned the ball over four times. Of course, the Cowboys won the rubber match, which unfortunately for Bills fans happened to be Super Bowl XXVIII.

On Oct. 27, 1997, the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers defeated the host New England Patriots 28-10 in Week 9. The Packers had beaten the Patriots 35-21in Super Bowl XXXI. In the rematch, Brett Favre threw for 239 yards and three touchdowns. Dorsey Levens caught a TD pass and ran for another score. All of the Patriots’ points came in the second quarter. Drew Bledsoe was intercepted three times in the loss.

ATS INFORMATION: As we head into Week 3, here are the hot trends this week:

The Buffalo Bills are 2-22 AGAINST THE SPREAD (ATS) in games after defeating the Miami Dolphins.

The New England Patriots are 2-13 ATS in their last 15 games as double-digit favorites.

Since returning as an expansion team in 1999, the Cleveland Browns are 12-2-1 ATS in their second home game of the season.

The last 14 teams seeking to exact single revenge against Seattle are 1-13 straight up and 2-12 ATS. Single revenge situations are when the team lost only the last meeting between the teams, not two or more games in the series. The San Diego Chargers defeated the Seahawks in this role last week. The Broncos are up next.

MATCHUP OF THE WEEKEND TO WATCH: Courtesy of USA Today

Seahawks secondary vs. Peyton Manning

Richard Sherman

Courtesy of ICON SMI

The skinny: Manning and his weapons have been champing at the bit to atone for their 43-8 Super Bowl humiliation seven months ago. While they have improved pieces from that four-turnover debacle, the Seahawks are a different team playing at CenturyLink Stadium, where they have won 18 of the last 19 games. And it doesn't help Manning and company that Seattle is smarting from last Sunday's road loss to the San Diego Chargers. Expect Manning to target Emmanuel Sanders early against cornerback Richard Sherman. Sanders leads the Broncos in receptions and is tied for fourth in the league with 14 receptions for 185 yards, giving Manning the sleek weapon to open up the field for his other weapons.

Why it matters: This is the biggest chance yet for Manning and the Broncos to show they are much improved from their Super Bowl meltdown. Left tackle Ryan Clady is back after missing all but two games last season due to a Lisfranc injury. The hope is that Manning won't feel as if he's operating inside a phone booth as he did under Super Bowl siege. The Broncos need to stick with the running game and get Montee Ball going since one of Seattle's weaknesses is its front four stopping the run since losing left end Red Bryant to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Who has the edge? Seahawks. This is the right time for the Broncos to be getting Wes Welker back from his suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing policy at a time when the Seahawks are down two nickel cornerbacks. The Broncos got tougher on both sides of the ball this offseason. But this is still not a good matchup for Manning and his weapons. Bobby Wagner is one of the best cover linebackers in the game and can run with tight end Julius Thomas, who leads the Broncos with four touchdowns when safety Kam Chancellor doesn't. Marshawn Lynch, Christine Michael and Robert Turbin can keep Manning off the field with methodical drives. Even with payback driving them, it's hard to see the Broncos going to the league's loudest cauldron and coming away with a win. Earl Thomas is the best free safety in football, and with his range and ball skills allowing the Seahawks to play single high, the Seahawks "Legion of Boom" secondary in effect shrinks the field, taking away the deep ball and again causing Manning to feel as if he's operating in the red zone most of the game.

INJURY REPORT:

Baltimore Ravens running back Bernard Pierce (thigh) is questionable, but he practiced fully. He should play

Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Cameron (shoulder) was limited in practice all week and is listed as questionable. Running back Ben Tate (knee) is out again

49ers TE Vernon Davis has been deemed a game-time decision for the 49ers first divisional game of the season at Arizona.

The Chargers Melvin Ingram’s injury comes at an unfortunate time. The 25-year-old played maybe the best game of his young career against Seattle, picking up a sack and six QB hurries. Ingram is also a good run defender, and the Chargers will miss that going up against a team the leans heavily on its run game.

The Bengals listed linebacker Vontaze Burfict as doubtful, but two concussions in two weeks may make that a hopeful designation. Guard Kevin Zeitler (calf) is also doubtful, but things are looking good for wide receiver A.J. Green (toe) after a full practice on Friday.

In New England, running back Shane Vereen (shoulder) and linebacker Jamie Collins (thigh) are the biggest names among six questionable Patriots while tight end Rob Gronkowski (knee) and wide receiver Julian Edelman (back) are probable.

The Redskins and Eagles contest could be affected as wide receiver DeSean Jackson’s return to Philly (shoulder) is questionable since being released by the Eagles. If he doesn’t play, he’ll join tight end Jordan Reed (hamstring), linebacker Akeem Jordan (knee) and cornerback Tracy Porter (hamstring) on the sideline. Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks (calf) won’t play and safety Earl Wolff (knee) is questionable after missing Friday’s practice.

TOP 10 POWER POLL:

In my humble opinion, these are the ten best teams in the NFL heading into Week 3.

1 BENGALS- For the first time in eight years, the Bengals are off to a 2-0 start, and they’ve done it in convincing fashion. After upending the division rival Baltimore Ravens in the season opener, on the road, Cincinnati had another impressive display by holding the Atlanta Falcons to 10 points—the same Falcons that just scored 56.

2 SEAHAWKS- the San Diego Chargers showed Sunday that the Seahawks are not invincible, especially on the road, where QB Russell Wilson’s record is 9-8 after San Diego’s 30-21 victory. Seattle’s defense allowed 377 yards on 75 plays, and the Chargers converted 10 of 17 third-down plays Sunday. That resulted in San Diego controlling the ball for 42:15, defense yet to prove worth.

3 PANTHERS- You don’t have to like it or believe but the whole country is about to find out how good the Panthers are in 2014.

4 EAGLES: Chip Kelly might just be the best head coach in the NFL. With a big Monday Night win on the road in Indianapolis, the Eagles announced they are contenders in the NFC.

Bengals & Dalton are No.1

Bengals & Dalton are No.1

5 BRONCOS- I’m not afraid to put them here. Their second half defense is horrible and there is a clear cut formula to beat them and several teams in the league will be able to execute it. Besides, history doesn’t lie. The last Super Bowl runner up to win the big game the following season was the 17-0 Miami Dolphins. If they lose big in Seattle tomorrow, will anybody really care what they do for the rest of the season?

6 PATRIOTS- DE Chandler Jones (two sacks, 58-yard TD off FG he blocked) might have officially arrived as a dominant force. If the Pats are indeed a Top 5 defense, as the stats indicate (4), then they will likely be one of two teams left standing in Arizona in February

7 CARDINALS- Beat the Giants in New Jersey last Sunday coming off a Monday night game—and did so with a backup QB. Defense is missing a lot of star players from 2013, but it sure doesn't seem to be missing a beat.

8 49ers- The 49ers lack the depth that carried them to three straight NFC Championship games. Following four turnovers last Sunday night, it isn’t a stretch to say Colin Kaepernick is regressing.

9 PACKERS- More dangerous combo: Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson or Matthew Stafford to Megatron?

10 CHARGERS- San Diego and Philip Rivers are playing solid, consistent football and it isn’t even December yet.

Enjoy your Sunday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFL Weekly Transaction Tracker

September 19, 2014 in 2014-free-agency, NFL Personnel

Many minor moves occurred this week as teams set their rosters for week two of the season––I'm looking at you Chicago. On top of these moves, there was a major contract extension. This contract extension is discussed below and, as always, the rest of the moves are down below with some of the more significant ones highlighted in red.

St. Louis Rams re-sign DE Robert Quinn

Two weeks ago we looked at the massive contract extension that Texans' defensive end J.J. Watt received which paid him as the best defensive player in the NFL. Now Quinn receives a contract extension that pays him as one of the best in the league as well.

A four-year contract extension worth $57 million, the 24-year old is now tied to the Rams through the 2019 season as he had two years left on his rookie contract. The first year is from his rookie deal and the other year is from his fifth-year option that St. Louis exercised earlier this year. There is a signing bonus of just over $4 million and $40.2 million in guaranteed money, though around $15 million is only guaranteed from the start.

Robert Quinn

Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

With this new contract he averages $14.25 million per season which makes him the second-highest paid 4-3 defensive end in the NFL behind Mario Williams of the Buffalo Bills. This makes Quinn the third-highest paid defensive player in the NFL behind Watt and Wiliiams.

Drafted by the Rams with the 14th overall pick in the 2011 draft, he played in 15 games as a rookie in a rotational defensive end role. He earned one start and recorded five sacks.

By his second season he was a starter and quietly recorded 10.5 sacks and one forced fumble. His breakout season would come the following season.

Last season he recorded 57 tackles, 19 sacks and seven forced fumbles, breaking into the scene as the best 4-3 defensive end in the league. His amazing season rewrote the records at Pro Football Focus where he recorded a grade that was 23.4 higher than any previous grade. A grade of +23.4 is considered an excellent season by itself, let alone breaking a record and grading at +74.6. Most of his grade came from his elite pass rushing grade that saw him abuse offensive tackles all game long.

After this outstanding season, he is in the conversation as the second best defensive player in the NFL behind Watt. Personally, I believe Quinn has reached this status.

Players as good as Quinn at such a young age don't come around very often, so the Rams made a great move to lock him up. While he still had two years left on his contract, if a player of his caliber is willing to sign a contract extension, you get him to sign. St. Louis made the right move to sign him to a contract extension.

The money is fair on both sides. Williams is overpaid at $16 million per season, so the Rams weren't likely to give Quinn more than that. He is fairly paid as the third-highest paid defensive player in the league.

It is scary to think that he is still only 24-years old. Imagine what he can do as he becomes a better player over the next few years. It will be fun to watch––unless you play offense.

Other Moves:

The Arizona Cardinals release LB Marcus Benard.
The Arizona Cardinals sign LB Victor Butler.
The Arizona Cardinals release P Drew Butler.
The Arizona Cardinals sign RB Jalen Parmele.
The Atlanta Falcons sign P Matt Bosher to a five-year contract extension.
The Atlanta Falcons sign LS Josh Harris to a four-year contract extension.
The Buffalo Bills sign LB Larry Dean.
The Chicago Bears waive QB David Fales.
The Chicago Bears cut FB Tony Fiammetta.
The Chicago Bears cut CB Kelvin Hayden.
The Chicago Bears sign WR Josh Bellamy.
The Chicago Bears sign WR Chris Williams.
The Chicago Bears sign C Taylor Boggs.
The Chicago Bears sign CB Isaiah Frey
The Chicago Bears sign WR Rashad Ross.
The Chicago Bears cut CB Shaun Draughn.
The Chicago Bears cut WR Chris Williams.
The Chicago Bears cut TE Matthew Mulligan.
The Cincinnati Bengals sign TE Kevin Brock.
The Detroit Lions sign CB Danny Gorrer.
The Houston Texans sign LB Ricky Sapp.
The Houston Texans release LB Jason Ankrah.
The Indianapolis Colts sign DT Kelcy Quarles.
The Indianapolis Colts cut RB Dion Lewis.
The Jacksonville Jaguars waive DE Chris Smith.
The Jacksonville Jaguars sign S Craig Loston.
The Jacksonville Jaguars waive OT Cam Bradfield.
The Jacksonville Jaguars sign WR Tavarres King.
The Jacksonville Jaguars sign TE Marcel Jensen.
The Kansas City Chiefs sign CB Jamell Fleming.
The Miami Dolphins sign RB Daniel Thomas.
The Minnesota Vikings sign RB Joe Banyard.
The Minnesota Vikings cut FB Zach Line.
The New England Patriots cut LB Darius Fleming.
The New England Patriots sign LB Deontae Skinner.
The New York Giants sign LB Dan Fox.
The New York Giants sign WR Julian Talley.
The New York Jets sign CB Ellis Lankster.
The Oakland Raiders sign LB Bojay Filimoeatu.
The Oakland Raiders sign WR Vincent Brown.
The Oakland Raiders release LB Bojay Filimoeatu.
The St. Louis Rams waive DT Matt Conrath.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign DE Scott Solomon.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign LB Brandon Magee.
The Tennessee Titans sign LB James Anderson.
The Washington Redskins waive S Bacarri Rambo.

AFC Mid Week News & Notes

September 17, 2014 in NFL

The AFC enters Week 3 of the NFL season with four (Buffalo, Houston, Cincinnati & Denver) of the seven undefeated teams in the league. They also possess four of the leagues seven winless squads in Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Oakland & Kansas City.

The chances of making the playoffs after a 2-0 start are good but far from a sure thing. Since 1990, when the current playoff format was adopted, 124 of the 196 teams (63.3 percent) to start 2-0 have qualified for the postseason. However, with 14 games remaining, there’s plenty of time to turn things around. Since realignment in 2002, nearly 60 percent of the playoff teams (59.7 percent, 86 of 144) started the season at either 1-1 or 0-2. That includes five of the eight division champions from last year: Carolina (NFC South), Cincinnati (AFC North), Green Bay (NFC North), Indianapolis (AFC South), and Philadelphia (NFC East).

The power of the number 12 also reigns supreme when it comes to starting 0-2. Since 1990, only 23 teams have recovered from 0-2 starts to make the NFL playoffs.  That’s just one team per year that’s been able to pull it off on average or just 12 percent of those teams.

The Carolina Panthers did it last season. They held a 7-6 fourth quarter lead at home against Seattle and lost 12-7 and the next week gave up a TD pass with 2 seconds left at Buffalo to lose 24-23.  They’d finish the season 12-4.  In making the playoffs, they became the first team since 2008 to overcome a 0-2 start to advance to the postseason.

The Giants, Saints, Bucs, Colts, Jags, Raiders, and Chiefs are all 0-2 to start the 2014 season. Three of the 7 teams were playoff teams a year ago. Some people projected Indy and New Orleans to make it to the Super Bowl. Those odds now appear to be extremely long when you consider that both of them have an 88 percent chance of missing the playoffs altogether.

The odds of making it to the Super Bowl after an 0-2 start are very long. Only three teams have ever pulled off the feat, the most recent being the 9-7 NY Giants, who beat the undefeated Patriots in 2007.  Almost as stunning was New England in 2001, who also started 0-2 before they upset the Rams.  Not shocking at all were the 1993 Dallas Cowboys, who were without Emmitt Smith who was holding out those first two weeks.

What are the odds if these teams start 0-3? Since 1990, when the NFL expanded its playoff field to 12 teams, only three teams have survived 0-3 to reach the postseason: the 1992 San Diego Chargers, the 1995 Detroit Lions, and the 1998 Buffalo Bills.  All three were wild-card teams and none reached their conference championship games. Of the three, only San Diego won a wild-card game, but then lost in the divisional round.  Those Chargers are the only 0-4 team to make it to the playoffs in NFL history.afc

There are exceptions, but usually there is a reason your team is 0-2.  You’re not good, or not good enough to be a playoff team. For most of the 0-2 teams, it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

For the record, while there is no guarantee of future success, a strong start to the season is a good omen – 75.2 percent of teams (91 of 121) that started 3-0 since 1990 made the playoffs.

Which 0-2 AFC teams are likely to make the playoffs?

Looking at the four teams, the easy pick, as well as the only pick is the Indianapolis Colts. While it’s surprising the Colts are 0-2, it’s not a shock. They began the season on the road in Denver facing Peyton Manning and the Broncos record setting offense from a year ago and then hosted the Eagles on Monday night, who currently own the NFL’s No.1 ranked offense. Factor in no Robert Mathis and a Colts defense that ranks 28th and it is understandable to see Indy at 0-2.

With Andrew Luck at QB, the Colts have the eight ranked offense in the league and still have six games against their own division, which they went undefeated against last year.

The Jaguars have allowed and NFL high 75 points through two games, while the Chiefs and Raiders have combined to score just 55 points in weeks. Kansas City played the Broncos tough last weekend but RB Jamal Charles suffered a high ankle sprain and a nagging injury like that could affect his play all season.

Which 2-0 Teams Could Miss Playoffs?

Potentially, only one out of this group could miss the playoffs. Of the conference’s four remaining unbeaten teams, the surest picks to make it are Denver and Cincinnati with a possible pick being the Houston Texans to return after a 2-14 season in 2013. After all, it’s almost a tradition that a 2-14 makes the playoffs the next season in the NFL. The Chiefs and the Colts have both accomplished the feat in each of the last two seasons, so why not Houston in 2014?

Fred Jackson

Fred Jackson

There are concerns in Denver and they will know exactly where they stand among the league’s best after a rematch with Seattle this week. Those concerns involve the second half. John Elway spent over $100 million revamping the Broncos defense after last year’s Super Bowl loss but so far this season they have allowed an average of 237.5 yards a game in total offense after halftime. Considering Atlanta ranks 32nd in defense with 472.0 yards allowed — which computes to 236 yards a half — the amount of bend in the Broncos' second-half defense is alarming.

The Bengals play in the tough AFC North but have already beaten the Ravens in Baltimore and decimated the Falcons at home. They have only allowed 26 points in two games versus two offenses that are supposed to be pretty good. Offensively, the Bengals are fourth in the league with weapons seemingly everywhere.

The Texans are an intriguing possibility to be a playoff team simply because they play defense. While they currently rank 26th in the NFL in total defense, they have surrendered just 20 points in two games vs Washington & Kansas City. The Redskins possess a Top 5 offense, while KC is 26th in the NFL. Many question whether Ryan Fitzpatrick can lead them under center but with new head coach Bill O’Brien there; Fitzpatrick may just have a turnaround season. Having worked with the likes of Tom Brady, O’Brien is considered a QB magician and was lauded for his work with Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg last season.

In two games this season, the Texans signal caller has three TD passes and no INT’s. Fitzpatrick has completed nearly 64 percent of his passes, as Houston is once again leaning on a healthy Arian Foster. The former NFL rushing champ is first in the AFC with 241 rushing yards.

The one 2-0 team I'm comfortable saying won't make the playoffs at this point is the Buffalo Bills and I'm not sure how comfortable I really am making that statement. It’s just hard to imagine the Bills making the playoffs with the Patriots in the division and the Jets playing capable of winning nine games this season. I will make a week 3 bold prediction and say they will finish ahead of Miami this season.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK IN THE AFC:

OFFENSE: TE ANTONIO GATES, SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

Gates had seven catches for 96 yards (13.7 average) and three touchdowns in San Diego’s 30-21 win against

DEFENSE: DE CHANDLER JONES, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Jones had eight tackles and two sacks and blocked a field goal that he returned for a touchdown in New England’s 30-7 win at Minnesota.

SPECIAL TEAMS: RB-KR C.J. SPILLER, BUFFALO BILLS

Spiller returned two kickoffs for 122 yards (61 average), including a career-long 102-yard touchdown, in Buffalo’s 29-10 win against Miami

AFC STATS OF THE WEEK:

0ap2000000310994_video_cpWith the NFL’s late-season schedule packed with division games, the September slate features many exciting interconference matchups, including eight in Week 2. With a 30-7 victory at Minnesota on Sunday, the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS now have a 40-9 (.816) record in interconference games, the best mark of any team in the regular-season since realignment in 2002.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has caught at least five passes and recorded at least 50 receiving yards in 18 consecutive games.

Last week, San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers connected with tight end Antonio Gates for three touchdowns, extending their NFL record for the most touchdowns by a quarterback-tight end duo (65).

Buffalo’s C.J. SPILLER had a 102-yard kickoff-return touchdown and a 47-yard run as the Bills improved to 2-0 with a 29-10 win over Miami. He is the first player since 1973 to have a 100+ yard kickoff-return touchdown and 45+ yard run in the same game. Houston Oilers running back BOB GRESHAM had a 103-yard kickoff-return touchdown and a 52-yard run against the Cincinnati Bengals on September 23, 1973

With the New England Patriots’ 30-7 victory at Minnesota, quarterback TOM BRADY earned his 149th career win, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer JOHN ELWAY (148) for the third-most victories by a starting quarterback in NFL history. Brady now has a 149-46 (.764) record as a starter. Did you really expect anything else? Tom Brady now has a 34-8 record after losing his previous start (same season only), the best such mark by any NFL quarterback in the expansion era. The second- and third-highest winning percentages in that category belong to two other QBs who, like Brady, led their teams to multiple Super Bowl wins: Joe Montana (.769) and Terry Bradshaw (.738).

New England’s BILL BELICHICK became the sixth head coach in NFL history to reach 200 regular-season wins. Belichick now has a 200-106 (.654) record in the regular season.

The Following are courtesy of The Elias Sports Bureau:

Billy Cundiff's 29-yard field goal with 3 seconds to play gave Cleveland a 26-24 victory over New Orleans, snapping the Browns' streak of nine consecutive losses in home openers. Cleveland had tied the longest losing streak in NFL history in a team's opening home game, set by the Cardinals from 1988 to 1996. None of the players from the Browns' last win in a home opener in 2004 remains on the team.

Mohamed Sanu caught three passes, including a 76-yarder, and he completed a 50-yard pass to Brandon Tate in the Bengals' 24-10 win over the Falcons. Only two other players during the NFL's expansion era both threw and caught a pass for at least 50 yards in the same game: Pittsburgh halfback Tom Tracy against Dallas in 1960, and New England WR David Patten against Indianapolis in 2001.

Dan Carpenter kicked five field goals in Buffalo's 29-10 victory over Miami, a team for which he played five seasons (2008-12). Only two other players in NFL history gained revenge against a former team by kicking five or more FGs in one game: John Carney against the Rams (2001 and 2004) and Steven Hauschka against the Ravens (2011).

Sammy Watkins caught eight passes for 117 yards in Buffalo's victory. That was the highest receiving yardage total by a Bills rookie since Chris Burkett caught five passes for 127 yards against the Jets in 1985.

 

 

Monday NFL Rewind – Big Injuries Top Stories Sunday

September 15, 2014 in NFL Observations

My recap on Sunday's NFL action & Monday Night Football Prediction:

 

1. The Sunday games started with the major news of big time players going down early.     NFL: SEP 14 Jaguars at Redskins

The Redskins were the biggest losers as they lost both Robert Griffin and Desean Jackson in the first.  It didn't seem to affect them as they rolled the Jags with Captain Kirk.  Griffin most likely will miss the season which is devastating for him.  But maybe it isn't bad for the Skins who seemed very in sync with Cousins.

Next week will be a better test in Philly for Cousins and hopefully we see Desean make his return.  You have to think it will take a lot for Jackson to miss.  Now the Redskins get a full season to see what they have in Cousins and if he and not Griffin will be the man in 2015.

 

2.  Another major injury was the Bengals losing AJ Green early versus Atlanta.

Like the Skins, the Bengals stilled rolled to an easy win without their star.  A foot injury will be a tough one week to week for Green and the Bengals.  If Green misses a few weeks it hurts but the Bengals can survive it.

In the past we have laughed at the Cincy organization but the past few years have been strong when it comes to building a roster.  The Bengals have drafted and development depth all over the field and it has put them into the playoffs.  Can they do something in the playoffs is still the question.  And they can thank Hue Jackson who is back home after the Carson Palmer trade.

 

3.  Biggest surprise at 0-2 is the Saints to me.

I thought they would win in Atlanta and in Cleveland but didn't.  They have Brees and Payton and are back on the same page with Jimmy Graham.  I also thought the defense would be strong again especially adding Byrd to the mix.

Are they in trouble?  I actually think they may be because the Panthers look like there is no let down like many expected.  Cam is back and so are the guys on defense with or without Greg Hardy.  The Saints may need to sweep Carolina to get back into the division race.  And at 0-2 the wildcard race may be even tougher to overcome.

 

4.  Quick Hits

-Green Bay got down big early and was looking at 0-2 but recovered behind Rodgers and Nelson to save the day.  That combo is becoming one of league’s best.

-Dallas after two weeks does not have the worst defense of all time as many expected.  If they want to contend they will need to continue to play at least at the level they have so far.

-Impressed that Philip Rivers went after the bored Richard Sherman.  Should be a wake-up call for Sherman and the Hawks.

-If Lovie and the Bucs wanted to contend for the playoffs they needed to win against the Rams.  They didn't.  And they could be done.

-Probably could add the Chiefs and the Giants to the done list.  The Raiders have been on it for years.

 

5.  Monday Night Prediction:    espnMNF

At first I was thinking the Eagles are gonna go into Indy and win but I think the Colts hold them off at home.  Reminds me of the Denver/ Indy game last season where the Colts won.  Going with:  Indianapolis 34  Philadelphia 27

 

 

AFC Sunday Recap

September 15, 2014 in NFL, NFL Preview

Week 2 still has the Monday night affair between the Colts and Eagles but 15 of the 16 contests have been completed. Ironically, seven teams remain unbeaten while seven teams remain winless. The 12 playoff teams from a season ago are a combined 12-10 (6-5 in each conference). The biggest stat that seemed to be most prevalent heading into the week pertained to teams that were in danger of falling to 0-2 on the short season. History has shown that teams that are victorious in their season openers are more than twice as likely to reach the playoffs than losers of an opening game. But that doesn’t mean an 0-1 start is impossible to overcome as nearly 25 percent of teams that lost the opener went to the playoffs.

Since 1978 when the NFL went to the 16-game schedule (and excluding the abbreviated season of 1982): Of the 523 teams which won opener, 274 went to the playoffs and 164 won division titles. Of the 524 teams which lost the opener, 124 went to the playoffs with 70 winning the division.

At the end of Week 2, no more than 13 teams will be able to claim a perfect 2-0 record, leaving at least 19 clubs at 1-1 or 0-2. Since realignment in 2002, 86 of the 144 playoff teams (59.7 percent) began the year at either 1-1 or 0-2, including five of the eight division champions in 2013 – Carolina (NFC South), Cincinnati (AFC North), Green Bay (NFC North), Indianapolis (AFC South) and Philadelphia (NFC East).  A look at how playoff clubs in 2012 and 2013 began their seasons:

Here are some key stats from today’s AFC winners:

Bills (2-0) 29 Dolphins (1-1) 10:

The Dolphins offense had no answer for the Bills defense in the first half. The unit had three sacks and didn't allow the Dolphins to cross the 50-yard line. Miami QB Ryan Tannehill was sacked four times and tossed one INT.  Bills starter, EJ Manuel, who missed both games against Miami last injury due to injury was an efficient 16 for 26 for 202 yards and one touchdown.

Last week Bills RB Fred Jackson made the big play with a 38-yard run in overtime to set up the winner, today it was CJ Spiller. Following a Caleb Sturgis field goal which cut the Bills lead to six points, Spiller returned the ensuing kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown. It was the longest of his career. His only other kickoff return touchdown came in Week 3 of his rookie season in 2010 against the New England Patriots.

Patriots (1-1) 30 Vikings (1-1) 7

The Vikings started strong without their deactivated star running back Adrian Peterson but the Patriots, who had been outscored 30-0 over the last two and a half quarters going back to last week woke up and scored 30 unanswered points to salvage a 1-1 start to the 2014 season. QB Tom Brady was average at best but his defense was outstanding. The Pats registered six sacks, four interceptions of Matt Cassel and a blocked field goal for a touchdown. The win was the 200th for HC Bill Belichick.

Bills sacked Tannehill 4 times on Sunday

Bills sacked Tannehill 4 times on Sunday

RB Matt Asiata had only 36 yards on 13 carries in place of Peterson, who was deactivated after being charged with child abuse Friday in Texas. The Patriots let Miami rush for 191 yards last week in a season-opening loss, but they held the Vikings to 54 yards on 19 attempts without Peterson.

The pass-run ratio last week for the Patriots was 60-20 in a shaky loss at Miami, but they established a much better balance here. Stevan Ridley carried 25 times for 101 yards, and Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes wasn't able to keep up with Julian Edelman, who finished six catches for 81 yards and a touchdown.

The Patriots revamped secondary held the speed of the Vikings receivers in check. Matt Cassel was 0-for-8 with three interceptions on throws deeper than 10 yards downfield. Cassel only attempted three throws deeper than 10 yards downfield (1-3, 18 yards) in Week 1. Cassel is the first quarterback in ESPN Stats & Info's data set (since 2006) to start Week 1 and 2 without completing multiple attempts deeper than 10 yards downfield.

Browns (1-1) 26 Saints (0-2) 24:

The Browns (1-2) broke an eight-game losing streak in home openers, while the Saints (0-2) lost their first two game for the first time since the 2012 "bounty" season in which coach Sean Payton was suspended.

Drew Brees must not like playing against the Browns. The Browns upset the Saints 30-17 the last time the two teams met in Week 7 of 2010. In that game, Brees threw 4 interceptions, 2 of which were returned for TD. While he wasn’t that bad today, he wasn’t good enough to outduel Cleveland QB Brian Hoyer, who was very good today, especially at crunch time. The numbers won’t dazzle but he was marvelous in the clutch, moving the Browns from their own 4 to the New Orleans 11, allowing Billy Cundiff to hit the 29-yard game winner with .03 seconds to play. Hoyer completed several big passes on the final drive, including one on fourth down to tight end Gary Barnidge and a 28-yarder to Andrew Hawkins with 13 seconds to go. In all, he was 8 of 11 for 78 yards on the last drive and finished 24 of 40 for 204 yards and a TD. He came out for a few plays as Manziel, the hyped rookie, handed the ball off twice and had one incompletion.

With starting tight end Jordan Cameron and running back Ben Tate both inactive, Cleveland's backups at tight end and running back stepped up on Sunday. Terrence West had 90 yards from scrimmage Sunday, the first running back with at least 90 yards from scrimmage in his first two games since Chris Johnson and Matt Forte in 2008. Hoyer consistently got production from his backs and tight ends in the passing game as well.

Drew Brees finished 10-of-13 for 118 yards, two touchdowns and an interception targeting Jimmy Graham. Five other Saints had three catches in the game, but no one had more than that. Drew Brees' interception was returned 62 yards by Tashaun Gipson for a touchdown. It was his first pick-six since Week 2 of last season against the Buccaneers. Brees has had 10 interceptions returned for TDs in the last five seasons, three of which came in two games against the Browns.

Bengals (2-0) 24 Falcons (1-1) 10:

460xThe Cincinnati Bengals took care of business at home on Sunday, with a dominating presence on both sides of the ball. Cincinnati's 24-10 win over Atlanta marks the third-time (2005, 2006) that the Bengals have started the season 2-0 during the Marvin Lewis era.

A week after shredding the Saints, Matt Ryan, and the Falcons passing game was shut down by the Bengals secondary. Ryan finished 4-of-9 for 79 yards and two interceptions on throws at least 15 yards downfield, his first game with multiple interceptions on deep throws since Week 8 of last season. Ryan was 5-of-12 for 45 yards and an interception against at least five pass rushers Sunday (3.8 yards per attempt). Ryan averaged 7.2 yards per attempt last week against the Saints (7-of-12, 86 yds. TD).

A.J. Green left in the 1st quarter with a toe injury. Sunday marks the 1st time Green's been active and didn't record a catch. However, the Cincy rushing attack picked up the slack. Led by Giovani Bernard, who ran 27 times for 90 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown. He also caught a team-high five passes for a career-high 79 yards, including a 46-yard catch-and-run when Dalton flipped the ball to him as he was getting hit. The Bengals wound up with 472 yards and averaged 6.8 yards per play. Rookie Jeremy Hill ran for 74 yards and a touchdown, and the Bengals rushed for 170 overall. The inability to stop Cincy's running game should be particularly concerning for Atlanta, as its beefed up defensive line looked like the feeble group from 2013.

The Falcons were very excited about beating New Orleans last week at home. The Saints are now 0-2 while Atlanta has to have concerns about its defense. The Falcons have given up 450+ yards of total offense in back-to-back games for the first time since Weeks 6-7 of the 2010 season.

Chargers (1-1) 30 Seahawks (1-1)  21:

Check the calendar, the San Diego Chargers played perhaps their best game today under coach Mike McCoy, who was visibly excited following his teams nine point victory over the defending Super Bowl champs. Normally a performance the Chargers give with their season on the line in December, they were the better team for 60 minutes on Sunday—in September.

Not many offenses have been able to come up with an answer for the Seahawks tough hard hitting secondary known as the Legion of Boom but Chargers QB Philip River and Future Hall of tight end Antonio Gates sure did. The 34-year-old Gates scored TD’s on catches of eight—eight and 21 yards. Rivers, who passed for 284 yards and no INT’s, is the first QB with 3 TD passes against the Seahawks since Week 8 in 2012, when Matthew Stafford did it. Those are the only two players to throw 3 TD passes against Seattle with Richard Sherman on the field. The three touchdown receptions tied Gates' career high.

Seattle’s vaunted defense allowed 377 total yards to the Chargers but it was SD’s defense that played better on the day. They held the Russell Wilson and Seahawks to less than 300 total yards, including just 36 rushing yards to Marshawn Lynch. The six carries today tied for Lynch’s fewest since joining Seattle.

The Chargers (1-1) dominated time of possession and wore out the Seahawks' vaunted defense on a hot day in southern California. San Diego had the ball for 42:15 compared to 17:45 for Seattle, and gained 26 first downs to 14 for the Seahawks. The Seahawks loss was their first by more than 7 points since Week 9 of 2011 against the Cowboys

Texans (2-0) 30 Raiders (0-2) 14

The Texans have now starred 2-0 for five straight seasons. However, they are hoping that starting 2-0 this season yields much different results than when they did so last year. After starting unbeaten through two games in 2013, the Texans dropped 14 straight games to finish the season with the No.1 overall pick in May’s NFL Draft. Houston is the first team to start 2-0 in five straight seasons since 1994-1999 Dolphins.

J.J. Watt

Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

The Texans didn't have to range too far outside to beat the Raiders Sunday… – The Texans rushed 36 times for 151 yards and a touchdown in between the tackles Sunday. Arian Foster gained 123 of his 136 yards on those rushes. – Ryan Fitzpatrick was 11-of-13 for 111 yards and a touchdown when passing between the painted field numbers. He attempted only 6 passes outside the numbers. The march up the middle allowed the Texans to cruise to a 30-14 victory. The Texans last pass attempt came at 4:02 of the third quarter, and was followed by 17 rushes…

The 2012 NFL Defensive Player of the year, JJ Watt, didn’t have his usual day on defense, registering just a lone QB hit but he added to his athletic resume regardless. On second-and-goal at the one, the Texans first scoring drive of the game, Watt lined up at tight end and was wide open in the end zone when two Oakland defenders covered RB Arian Foster. Watt caught his first pass since his days as a tight end at Central Michigan in 2007 to give the Texans a 7-0 lead.

Rookie Derek Carr continued to play like a rookie. Playing against the team that drafted his big brother David first overall in 2002, Derek Carr went 27 for 42 for 263 yards with a late TD pass to James Jones and two interceptions. The Raiders committed four turnovers, all in scoring territory.

Broncos (2-0) 24 Chiefs (0-2) 17:

The Broncos did just enough to eke out a win over division rival Kansas City on Sunday. KC outgained the high octane offense of the Broncos and if you looked at the stats alone, may have figured the Chiefs won the game. The Chiefs (0-2), without All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles for much of the game due to an ankle injury, converted 11 of 16 third-down opportunities overall. They just couldn't capitalize in the biggest moments as the Broncos mustered two goal-line stands for the second straight week.manningnew

The Broncos (2-0) didn't think it would come down to another goal-line stand. But Aqib Talib's pick-6 earlier in the drive was negated by Quanterus Smith's offside penalty. Then, Nate Irving's fumble recovery following DeMarcus Ware's sack and strip was changed to an incomplete pass after a review. The Chiefs ninth life was expunged when Terrance Knighton deflected Alex Smith's fourth-and-goal pass from the two- to Dwayne Bowe with 15 seconds left. He was engaged with center Rodney Hudson when he reached up and felt the football smack into his right arm.

Manning was 21 of 26 for 242 yards and three TDs with no interceptions, but spent most of the game on the sideline. The Broncos had the ball for less than 10 minutes in the second half. Manning was also 6-of-6 for 122 yards and a touchdown on throws deeper than 10 yards downfield. Manning has a league-high 19 touchdowns on throws deeper than 10 yards downfield since the start of last season, but passed even his own standard in Sunday's win. – Manning is the only quarterback to open 2014 with three touchdowns and no interceptions in back-to-back weeks. This is the 47th game of Manning's career with at least three touchdowns and no interceptions. All three touchdowns came against standard pressure.

Emmanuel Sanders led the Broncos with eight catches for 108 yards, the first 100-yard game of his career. Demaryius Thomas had an 80-yard TD catch negated when right tackle Chris Clark was whistled for being downfield. Denver will head to Seattle next week in a rematch of Super Bowl XLXIII. The result may not be much different, as Seattle will be looking to get back on track after losing to the AFC West Chargers today.

NFL Weekly Transaction Tracker

September 12, 2014 in 2014-free-agency, NFL Personnel

The NFL season finally started and the week one games didn't disappoint. On top of that the week saw a bunch of moves including two contract extensions and one high profile release. These three moves are discussed below and, as always, the rest of the moves are down below with some of the more significant ones highlighted in red.

Baltimore Ravens release RB Ray Rice

Due to all the extensive coverage of Rice over the last few days, I won't cover him much here, but it does deserve notice.

Ray Rice

Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

A two-time All-Pro, the Baltimore Ravens decided to release him due his domestic abuse charge that happened this offseason. Originally he was only suspended two games by the NFL for the offense, but a new video of the event surfaced this week which changed everything.

Previously nobody had seen the actual video of the event, only the aftermath. With this new video out, there was a public outcry and the Ravens quickly released him. Soon after the NFL suspended him indefinitely.

Without Rice the Ravens running game is going to suffer as nobody on the roster has as much skill as Rice.

However, the Ravens made the right move here to release him. They just couldn't keep him on the roster and it is highly likely that his NFL career is over.

Minnesota Vikings re-sign G Brandon Fusco

One of two contract extensions that happened before the season, the Vikings locked up their 26-year old starting guard to a five-year contract extension.

Worth $24.25 million over the five years, the average value of $4.85 million per season doesn't pay him as one of the best guards in the league. There is only $6 million guaranteed including a $4 million signing bonus and $2 million of his 2015 base salary.

Drafted by the Vikings in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Slippery Rock, he played in only two games as a rookie, but became a starter in 2012.

In his first year as a starter, he was the ninth worst guard in the league according to Pro Football Focus.

Starting 15 games at right guard last year for Minnesota, Pro Football Focus graded him as the eighth best guard in the league. His run blocking grade was the fifth best of all guards in the NFL. In his 920 snaps last year, he gave up only two sacks.

After this outstanding season last year, it is a bit surprising to see him get only $4.85 million per season. This is a very team friendly contract especially with only $6 million guaranteed.

If he had waited for the season to end, he could have been payed much more if he had another season like last year. This makes it very surprising to see Fusco sign a contract like this when he could have earned even more money.

This is a great contract for the Vikings as they keep one of the better guards in the league for a contract that doesn't pay him as one. If for some reason he regresses, there is only $6 million in guaranteed money so they can easily get rid of him.

Pittsburgh Steelers re-sign CB Cortez Allen

Less than 24 hours before the Pittsburgh Steelers kicked off the regular season, they signed cornerback Cortez Allen to a new five-year contract extension.

Entering the final year of his rookie contract, the 25-year old Allen is set to earn $1.431 million this season as he reached a contract escalator. Instead of a four-year contract extension on top of the last year left on his old contract, the Steelers have torn up the old deal and given him a brand new five-year deal. This five-year deal is worth a total of $26 million, an average of $5.2 million.

Earning $6.5 million per season in new money, he is now the 21st highest paid cornerback in the NFL in terms of average value per season.

Drafted by Pittsburgh in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, he has started 11 games over three seasons and has appeared in 44 of a possible 48 games.

Last season he recorded 51 tackles, 13 passes defensed and two interceptions in eight starts. One of these interceptions was returned 40 yards for a touchdown against Green Bay.

Pro Football Focus graded him as the Steelers second best cornerback last season––behind William Gay. As a whole Allen was ranked as the 36th best in the NFL out of 110.

Opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of 88.1 when throwing to a receiver covered by Allen last season.

In 2012 Allen only started three games, but recorded 55 tackles, three forced fumbles, 10 passes defensed and two interceptions. Pro Football Focus graded him as the 17th best cornerback in the league. Quarterbacks had a quarterback rating of 68.5 when throwing against him.

In terms of monetary value, Allen isn't the 21st best cornerback in the NFL right now. He has shown the ability to be a good cornerback in the NFL, but he hasn't been on the field enough.

At the moment this contract pays him too much money. However, Pittsburgh is paying him for how they believe he will perform––which is at a high level. This is the third similar contract from the Steelers this offseason. The other two went to center Maurkice Pouncey and right tackle Marcus Gilbert.

Since Allen has only 11 career starts, it may seem strange for the Steelers to reward him with a contract that pays him $5.2 million per season. However, he has been a consistent performer in the secondary for Pittsburgh. Stability is needed at the cornerback position in Pittsburgh and Allen is clearly the best cornerback on the roster.

Other Moves:

The Arizona Cardinals release LB Desmond Bishop.
The Arizona Cardinals sign P Drew Butler.
The Arizona Cardinals sign LB Marcus Benard.
The Baltimore Ravens cut CB Derek Cox.
The Baltimore Ravens sign RB Fitzgerald Toussaint.
The Baltimore Ravens claim DT Christo Bilukidi off waivers.
The Baltimore Ravens cut RB Fitzgerald Toussaint.
The Buffalo Bills cut DE Jacquies Smith.
The Chicago Bears sign S Ahmad Dixon.
The Chicago Bears cut CB Demontre Hurst.
The Chicago Bears OL Eben Britton.
The Chicago Bears cut WR Michael Spurlock.
The Cincinnati Bengals waived DT Christo Bilukidi.
The Cincinnati Bengals sign CB Onterio McCalebb.
The Cincinnati Bengals waive CB Onterio McCalebb.
The Cincinnati Bengals sign DT Devon Still.
The Cleveland Browns cut OL Ryan Seymour.
The Cleveland Browns cut CB Aaron Berry.
The Cleveland Browns sign TE Gerell Robinson.
The Denver Broncos sign TE Dominique Jones.
The Denver Broncos waive WR Nathan Palmer.
The Detroit Lions sign G Garrett Reynolds.
Free agent CB Jabari Greer has announced his retirement from the NFL.
The Indianapolis Colts sign RB Dion Lewis.
The Indianapolis Colts sign LB Chris Carter.
The Indianapolis Colts waive RB Zurlon Tipton.
The Kansas City Chiefs sign DT Kevin Vickerson.
The Kansas City Chiefs sign LB Jerry Franklin.
The Kansas City Chiefs cut S Daniel Sorensen.
The Miami Dolphins sign LB Kelvin Sheppard.
The New York Jets waive CB Leon McFadden.
The Philadelphia Eagles sign G Wade Smith.
The San Diego Chargers sign OL Doug Legursky.
The San Francisco 49ers release WR Kassim Osgood.
The San Francisco 49ers cut RB LaMichael James.
The San Francisco 49ers sign WR Kassim Osgood.
The Seattle Seahawks cut WR Phil Bates.
The Seattle Seahawks sign OT Andrew McDonald.
The Seattle Seahawks sign CB Josh Thomas.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers release CB Quinton Pointer.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers release WR Louis Murphy.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign CB Brandon Dixon.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign WR Solomon Patton.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign DE Larry English.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers claim DE Jacquies Smith off waivers.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut LB Scott Solomon.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign CB Crezdon Butler.
The Washington Redskins sign S Akeem Davis.

NFL Rewind & MNF Predictions: Manning & Broncos Impressive

September 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

1. Peyton Manning & Broncos as good as we expected:    manningnew

After the Broncos were manhandled by the Seahawks in the Super Bowl, they went out and added some more pieces to make another Super Bowl run. And Manning & the Broncos looked like they forgot all about their Super Bowl nightmare and picked right up from where they left off last season, dominating on offensive. Manning had 3 TD passes to Julius Thomas in the 1st half and he put on a clinic as always. While Andrew Luck & the Colts made it a little interesting at the end, Manning showed they are still the AFC favorite. And Peyton Manning has now defeated all 32 teams in the NFL, joining Brett Favre.

2. Surprising Upsets:

Let's see…Titans over Chiefs, Dolphins over Patriots, Bills over Bears, Falcons over Saints, take your pick, because their were several surprise upsets Week 1. Even the Vikings rolling over the Rams was a bit surprising to see a win by that margin. Does it mean the sky is falling for the losing teams? Of course not, every year favorites get upset early and come back to have a great season, playoff run, etc. But besides the Falcons, no one really saw these wins coming. Maybe its a sign of more parity in the NFL, which is never a bad thing.

3. Close Calls in PA:

Both the Steelers and Eagles pulled out wins at home but without a scare. The Eagles were down 17-0 at halftime to the Jaguars (we thought Gus Bradley would have his team ready to play). They came back to score 34 unanswered points in the 2nd half to then win easily.

The Steelers started the game on fire and were up 27-3 at halftime, only to let the Browns get back in the game and tie it. But they were able to get last drive that set up a last second field goal to win. So both PA teams are 1-0, but easily could have been 0-1 in home loss shockers.

4. MNF Predictions:       espnMNF

Of course opening week we have 2 games this Monday Night. So here are our predictions…

Giants @ Lions – In a shootout the Lions win at home 34-31.

Chargers @ Cardinals – Palmer & co. pick up from last year and win in home opener 24-20.

Who do you think wins tonight and why?