Monthly Archives: September 2015

Movie Review: Everest

Survival. At the most basic level, beyond our emotions and thoughts, survival is what resides. It is a simple and yet extreme notion. It is a brash concept and at times a heartless theme because survival can lead to cannibalism and such. It is a fire we all have inside us and it is one that is hard to combat.

In Everest, we will see a journey of experts and everyday men and women as they test their wills against the worst nature has to offer.

At least that is what we are left to assume. There is a specific scene cataloged in the script where Jon Krakauer, whose novel this film is loosely based on, asks these regular Joes why they want to climb Everest. The room remains silent. Eventually one character will say he talked to a group of kids in a school and wants to prove to them that if he can do the impossible, they can, too. Another will say he feels composed on the mountain, an idea I struggle to accept since he suffers in the cold for the remainder of the film.

This is a missed opportunity for director Baltasar Kormakur, who directed the buddy cop film 2 Guns, starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. There are a lot of people who do not climb mountains and a large majority of them have never considered climbing one of the seven summits let alone Everest. That leaves the film with an uneducated and uninformed audience who knows little about the motivations or emotions involved with such a trek and yet the writing that can hook the audience in is left vague and to compound the problem, shooed under the rug. Removed from the thrill and rush that climbers may or may not receive from this film, the payoff of Everest is unclear if not non-existing.

This makes Everest‘s debut all the more depressing because at the beginning of 2016, the film’s eventual release was swarming with Oscar buzz. Its cast of Oscar-nominated actors Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal and actress Keira Knightley rose eyes and the visual spectacle that was betrothed for the screen was enticing.

While the film can be given a pat on the back for recording the biggest September worldwide IMAX opening with $7.2 million, it’s just as worthy, if not more so, to mention how far this film is from the cinematic mountain it’s trying to climb.

I saw this film in 3D and while the landscape is visceral and the visuals are inspiring, the hunger is there. This is Everest, one of the globe’s most enticing and dangerous endeavors. Surely there is more to offer than this.

Everest will make you feel the cold, and you’ll get chills down your spine, but they are the same chills you will get down your spine driving on the highway with your window down. It is not a tingle set aside for this film alone like it should be.

The tone changes whenever the plot requires it. Danger will set in but will soon flip to achievement when the group reaches the summit and then flip to something else in time for the next chapter of the story. Like Black Mass, which also received some Oscar buzz this past spring, the sincerity is absent and the tension is molded rather than birthed naturally.

The glamour and chill is there, but the tone that should accompany them is not. A very basic technique Kormakur samples is removing music from the film, instead allowing the silence to play to our ears. He lets our minds take hold of our emotions. This play requires us to feel connected to some partition of this film and since the motives of this expedition are never addressed, we find our hands grasping at air.

With a plot playing second fiddle to the true happenings of the story and tonal shifts too rampant, our cast of Oscar-nominated actors attempt to derive empathy from its audience. Connection to an audience can save a film. If audiences develop a care for the characters, they’ll be better engaged in the illusion of loneliness and cold that’s trying to be aroused here.

The script, however, especially in the dialogue department, competes with Everest for the Most-Barren-Item-On-Screen-Award. The dialogue is a sham and never diverts to themes of life, the pursuit of endurance, the empowerment of the human will, or the will to fight. Everything in this story is plot-based and call me cynical, but this plot is boring.

The characters, coupled with the writing, are the most downtrodden element of this debacle. Jake Gyllenhaal, who’s demonstrated great range in the recent films Prisoners and Nightcrawler, is flat-out ignored. Josh Brolin is given little screen time and Knightley is a sideshow. Jason Clarke is the high point of the acting gigs in Everest, but that isn’t saying much. The inability to originate emotion leaves an insensitive audience leagues from where the film should have wanted them to be: close and personal, engulfed in the snow and bitter wind.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Avengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe BabadookInterstellarChappie)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Black Mass, Enemy at the GatesAnchorman 2: The Legend ContinuesLeon: The ProfessionalEnemy)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Terminator: GenisysBlack SheepTwistedParkerHouse at the End of the Street)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (HerculesThe SentinelMad Max: Fury RoadBlitzThe Punisher)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (The Lost BoysZombeaversCrankErasedI, Frankenstein)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The VisitThe Fantastic FourThe Boy Next DoorThe ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (CyborgOutcastSabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. Evil)

My score for Everest: 57.

With a small clap for the visual department set aside, a ride down the highway with your sleeves rolled up might bring as much cold and indifference as Everest will force upon you. Kormakur’s youth as a director is exploited, leaving more experienced Hollywood thrills taking instructions from a novice storyteller. Had a greater emphasis been put on the crisp detail and magnitude of Everest, it might not have been so easily noticed, but as it stands, Everest is more of a climb for the people who made it then the audiences who watched it.

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*Originally posted on SportsTalkFeed

The seemingly endless drama ride known as DeflateGate has finally come to a close, at least temporarily and the result is as it should be: an exonerated Brady and a defeated, power-hungry commissioner. It is important that sports fans understand what this case was about. It was not about whether or not Tom Brady was guilty of tampering. That is irrelevant. DeflateGate was about the judicial process and executive power in the NFL.

The DeflateGate case was built on pillow cushions of “is more probable than not” and that Brady was “at least generally aware,” phrasing so vague that saying nothing might have accomplished more and made the NFL look more intelligent.

There were so many wrong turns in this case that I find it quite impressive that it took Judge Berman this long to make a ruling. From the Wells Report’s clear bias to its inability to factually state anything we didn’t already know to Goodell’s appointment of himself as the appeals arbitrator, this case managed to ignore every foundation of the American judicial system. The defendant was not given a fair trial by any stretch with Goodell holding the gavel. Brady was not given documents crucial to the investigation in order to form any type of defense, nor was he allowed to question witnesses crucial to the report’s findings or rather, its “findings”.

The fact of the matter is that Tom Brady, one of professional sport’s greatest champions, stands correctly vindicated in triumph. The foreign body known as the NFL, with its continual inability to correctly address domestic violence incidents involving its players, is a bigger joke than it ever has been. Everyone wants to play football and yet, the NFL with its continued mockery of human life stands as a stagnant deterrent. The National Football League, or perhaps more appropriately, the National Fools League, encompasses executive corruption to leagues only trampled by FIFA. Roger Goodell has officially earned the title as worst American professional sports commissioner and needs fired as soon as possible. An ignoramus this close to mental destitution does not belong in a position of power and the sad truth that Goodell has chaired this organization for so long is only more pitiful.

Few organizations have as much of a PR problem as the NFL does and yet it sadly isn’t an issue because sports fans, including myself, will continue to watch regardless. Yet, the question must be asked? What if we didn’t? What if we all boycotted football? Would the NFL change its tune then?

Trust me when I say if I thought there was any chance that my absence would cause a change, I would be the first to step up to the plate.

Perhaps no one has better said it than Tom Brady himself in a released statement after the decision was announced:

“I am sorry our league had to endure this. I don’t think it has been good for our sport – to a large degree, we have all lost.”

Truer words have never been spoken. That statement makes me want to stand up and root for the guy. Wouldn’t it be fitting if Brady won the Super Bowl again? It would be the ultimate rebuff to the NFL and especially to Goodell, who would be forced to hand the trophy over to Brady, who would be sure to win MVP. Now that would be the story. I’m not saying I want that to happen, because I don’t, but I’m not saying I don’t want it to happen, because I do.

Football has been America’s sport for decades now and yet the irony persists that America’s sport is no more American than the clothes we wear or the flags we hang that clearly read “Made in China” on the pole. If it was American, it would be born and bred here, which it was. If it was American, it would be an honest organization that would fight for justice in all aspects, which it doesn’t, but perhaps most importantly, if it was American, it would be perfect. America, the red, white and blue, the unstoppable force, the immovable object, we can be that again. Why not start with the NFL, an organization that is as synonymous with America as Donald Trump is with wigs?

Let’s make a personal statement as fans to the NFL: Fire Goodell and make the NFL great again. It’s never too late to make a change. Let’s start now. Here’s to football, here’s to making America great again and here’s to the Patriots winning another Super Bowl to stick it to Goodell the fall of 2015.

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Tim Sports Report for 2015 NFL Week 2

Top 5

1. QB Tom Brady 38/59 for 466 yards, 3 TDs, Fmb, 105.6 QBR vs. BUF

2. RB Matt Jones 19 carries for 123 yards, 2 TDs, Fmb vs. STL

3. WR Antonio Brown 9 receptions for 195 yards, TD vs. SF

4. WR Larry Fitzgerald 8 receptions for 112 yards, 3 TDs vs. CHI

5. QB Derek Carr 30/46 for 351 yards, 3 TDs, INT, 100.9 QBR vs. BAL

Worst of the Worst

5. Romo suffers fractured clavicle. Cowboys now without two biggest play-makers.

4. QB Andrew Luck 21/37 for 250 yards, TD, 3 INT, Fmb, 52.8 QBR vs. NYJ

3. Giants choke again, drop to Falcons after 10-point 4th quarter lead

2. RB DeMarco Murray 13 carries for 2 yards vs. DAL

1. The Eagles-Cowboys game was one of the worst sporting events I’d ever seen. Dallas had 18 penalties for 142 yards. Philadelphia had 7 total rushing yards.

Steelers Recap

Against one of the weakest teams in the NFL, the Steelers exploded. Ben went 21/27 for 369 yards and three touchdowns, DeAngelo Williams had three touchdowns of his own on the ground and Antonio Brown delivered one of the best performances of the week, catching nine of 11 targets for 195 yards and a touchdown. The defense allowed three points in the game’s first three quarters, sacked the elusive Kaepernick five times and held Carlos Hyde to 43 yards on the ground. The Steelers throttled the 49ers all game long. The only down side was that Josh Scobee, the former Jaguars kicker that the Steelers traded for to replace Shaun Suisham, still can’t make a field goal, missing yet another extra point in Sunday’s contest.

Looking forward to this Sunday, the St. Louis Rams have played at their best and their worst in the season’s opening weeks. They defeated the Seahawks in overtime at home, scoring 34 points against one of the best defenses in the league. Last week, however, that team was nowhere to be found, as they struggled against the Redskins, one of the worst teams in the league, on both sides of the ball, including their defensive front being run over by rookie running back Matt Jones. They would go on to lose that game 24-10.

Given the Rams desperate offense, even with the planned introduction of Todd Gurley, I don’t expect many if any struggles from the Steelers defense. Meanwhile, Le’Veon Bell returns to the lineup and I can only imagine how lethal the offense will become with his return. I’m taking Pittsburgh in this one.

Game of the Week: Chiefs @ Packers

This week’s slate of games holds little interest aside from this Monday Night football  mash. The Chiefs and Packers both hold a top-ten spot in my power rankings this week. Got to take Green Bay at home though.

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Movie Review: Black Mass

A while ago, there was a handsome actor named Johnny Depp. Known for his unusual quips and odd role selections, no one knew what to think of Depp until a legendary pirate named Captain Jack Sparrow made his first appearance in 2003. A part that should have garnered Depp far more critical applause than it received, it may have derailed Depp’s career. While Depp has found some appreciation with films like Public Enemies, numerous animated endeavors and further Pirates of the Caribbean installments, there’s also no denying the flops that he’s left behind such as The Tourist and the three continuous deadpans that Depp has held a title role in, including The Lone Ranger, Transcendence and Mortdecai, which barely grossed half of its $60 million budget.

Depp has a mind like few in Hollywood, a creative enterprise very much like Tim Burton, one that is not easily discernible and may perhaps never be completely understood. However, with his latest exploits considered, I have wondered if Depp has been typecast as Captain Jack Sparrow for the remainder of his career. Every acting pursuit Depp has accepted since Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides has ended in indifference if not hatred towards Depp and his contribution to yet another film travesty.

And so Black Mass, directed by Out of the Furnace’s Scott Cooper, was shouldered with proving Depp’s relevance in film.

A gangster biopic surrounding Irish-American mobster Whitey Bulger, the head of an underworld syndicate known as the Winter Hill gang, was just what Depp needed.

One of the film’s brightest sunspots is Depp’s commanding screen presence. Depp’s intensity and pristine features produce a dynamic contrast to any previous Depp undertaking, many of which heralded stale comedy as their centerpiece. At no point are we subjected to Depp’s comedic timing. Instead, we fear him. Depp’s Bulger is unpredictable, a controlled fiend waiting for the right tick to let him loose like a dog chasing a wounded bird.

Black Mass offers Depp a pedestal, allowing him to express the width of his talents and to many critics and to myself, impressively so. With a dictator’s hand and no remorse or compromise, Bulger’s sane form of insanity is eye-catching and disturbing all rolled together. A man obsessed with his personal appearance knows how each one of the cogs of the crime machine works and while the inner character of the murdering loon is never dissected, there’s never any doubt that something is going on in his head.

Cooper’s atmospheric tinge, which was paraded in the Pittsburgh-filmed Out of the Furnace, is furthered here. While Cooper’s ability to scar and mutilate is nowhere near the legendary status created by Martin Scorsese, it is still one to garner acceptance. The standard for grit is set and raised on a steady slope during the film’s progression. It is blunt and straightforward both in character and plot, making the characters distinguishable but the plot simple.

The dialogue has its moments of impact but are not as hard-wired as gangster film loyalists will expect. Organized crime is built on delivering a message, whether through one’s words or one’s actions. This is the most basic component of any crime novel, but Cooper’s writers invoke only so much of the theme and harshness film critics expect. The brotherhood, belonging and unquestioning loyalty that one would expect is coaxed to the surface but any further travel into the muck of the unknown is left for another film, something I shouldn’t have to wait for.

This is where I feel like Black Mass lost some of its identity. I longed for the unfiltered brutality and to feel the hairs on the back of my neck creep up, but I cannot help but point out that Black Mass feels contrived. Depp as Bulger is an intimidating face to put on Black Mass and yet for a R-rating, Black Mass’ chaos is caged for most of the run time. Dare I say, Depp’s star may have been dimmed by the writers’ inability to manifest the detestable. The quick turnarounds in tonal shifts that many infamous gangster films utilize are not a central revolution of Cooper’s work. Depp’s character is unpredictable, but the screenplay dismisses some of Bulger’s character by its staunch disagreement to let the story flow naturally. Joel Edgerton and Benedict Cumberbatch feel like wasted entities, leaving Depp to shoulder a film yet again and we as the audience are left with our fingers crossed hoping the result is different. What did Einstein say again?

Thankfully, and contrary to past experience, Depp manages the task but I can’t stop believing Black Mass was meant to be a mound of cancerous carnage that horrified rather than a film that made us smile and confirm that Depp is alive and possibly over his ailment of Can’t-make-a-film-itis. I would have smiled had the film been grotesque, as it should have been, rather than the polished and clearly altered story we’re given here. Instead, I was left shrugging. Cooper’s artwork does not feature crisp dialogue nor does it do justice to its supporting cast but Depp’s main role grants the film some forgiveness.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Avengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe BabadookInterstellarChappie)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Enemy at the GatesAnchorman 2: The Legend ContinuesLeon: The ProfessionalEnemySleeping with the Enemy)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Terminator: GenisysBlack SheepTwistedParkerHouse at the End of the Street)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (HerculesThe SentinelMad Max: Fury RoadBlitzThe Punisher)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (The Lost BoysZombeaversCrankErasedI, Frankenstein)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The VisitThe Fantastic FourThe Boy Next DoorThe ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (CyborgOutcastSabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. Evil)

My score for Black Mass: 70.

Black Mass is not Depp’s greatest exploit nor is it a star in the hall of film noir, but it does serve as a defibrillator to an actor who desperately needed one.

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2015-2016 NFL Power Rankings: Week 2

1. Patriots (+0)

Tom Brady had one of this week’s top passing performances against the Bills’ defense, going 38/59 for 466 yards and three touchdowns. Dion Lewis has become a target out of the backfield and the defense sacked Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor eight times.

2. Packers (+0)

A 27-17 win over the Seahawks secures the Packers’ number two spot.

3. Cardinals (+3)

No Andre Ellington? No problem. Chris Johnson ran for 72 yards, rookie David Johnson made an impact, Carson Palmer is a top-five quarterback right now after going 17/24 for 185 yards and four touchdowns and Larry Fitzgerald just caught three touchdown passes. The Cardinals put up 48 points on the Bears.

4. Seahawks (-1)

Marshawn Lynch struggled again, this time against a team known for being blasted on the ground. Lynch had 41 yards on 15 carries. The Seahawks in the playoffs is a certainty but they’ve got to get Lynch going or this team’s chances at a playoff run are slim.

5. Broncos (-1)

Peyton Manning finally looked himself on Thursday night, throwing three touchdown passes and the defense held, but C.J. Anderson is nowhere to be found, as I expected. The question is, how long does it take Kubiak to make Ronnie Hillman the starter.

6. Jets (+5)

The New York Jets, one of the worst teams last year, are now in the top ten after an impressive win over the Indianapolis Colts and one of the league’s best quarterbacks, Andrew Luck. The offense should have scored more points on the lost Colts then they did, but they did their part.

7. Bills (+2)

The Bills battled it out with the Patriots and scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to make it close before Taylor’s third interception sealed the game. However, the Bills demonstrated if their defense struggles, their offense can keep them in the game. LeSean McCoy had 89 yards, showing some production against a top-ten defense.

8. Chiefs (+4)

A tough loss on Thursday to the Broncos, the Chiefs hung in there to the very end and against one of the best defenses in the league no less. The worries I have about the offense, at least in these first two weeks, seem to be ill-founded.

9. Bengals (+13)

I hate moving any team up this much in one week, but I’ve looked at the results and see no team that should surpass the Bengals outside of my top eight. A dominant win over the Raiders followed by a win against the Chargers at home is a good way to start the season and Andy Dalton looks competent.

10. Chargers (-5)

They lost to Cincy in a close one. Giovanni Bernard torched the defense and Dalton threw for three touchdowns, so that’s a concern but I still believe in this team’s offense. 3 AFC East and 3 AFC East teams in the top ten this week.

11. Cowboys (-1)

The loss of Tony Romo is huge and I expect the Cowboys to fall much farther after this week’s contest with the Falcons. I’m hesitant to give too much credit to the defense for their performance against the Eagles, who seemed to be shooting themselves in the foot all night.

12. Vikings (+3)

The Vikings got it done against the Lions, who are faltering the way I expected them to. Adrian Peterson looked more himself on Sunday. He was the league’s top rusher last week, carrying the rock 29 times for 134 yards. The Vikings defense was fine, causing fits for Stafford, who had to throw the ball 53 times.

13. Steelers (+2)

I’m tough on my hometown team and I acknowledge that the win came against one of the weakest teams in the league, but they looked unstoppable on Sunday against San Francisco. They bottled Carlos Hyde, didn’t allow any big plays and sacked Kaepernick five times. Next week, Le’Veon Bell is back from his suspension and DeAngelo Williams, who has looked very good, will be a backup. That should make for quite a tandem.

14. Falcons (+6)

No one can cover Julio Jones right now. Antonio Brown and Julio Jones are currently the top two receivers in the league and in fantasy. I have both in one of my fantasy leagues, so I’m a happy camper. Matt Ryan is Matt Ryan, but the real story is the emergence of the Falcons’ defense. Quinn’s made big chances to this squad and I look for that to continue against a crippled Cowboys team.

15. Ravens (-7)

Out of the top ten and falling, Baltimore needs a win, but I’m unsure if they get it against Cincy or Pittsburgh, their next two opponents. A defense that made Peyton look like a novice struggled with Derek Carr. That’s embarrassing.

16. Rams (-9)

One week after beating the NFC champions in a high-scoring game, the St. Louis Rams offensive and defensive units disappear against the lowly Redskins and lose handedly 24-10. The offense was nowhere to be found and neither was the ferocious defensive squad that throttled Lynch. My worries about the Rams are a reality.

17. Colts (-4)

As I mentioned in my preview, the Colts lost their entire defensive front. They still have no running game and the offensive line isn’t blocking for Luck. Indianapolis turned the ball over five times on Monday night. That’s unacceptable. The only good news for the Colts is that no one in the AFC South looks any better.

18. Panthers (+6)

They haven’t battled anyone a decent team yet. Their wins have come against Jacksonville and Foster-less Texans squad. Next up on their schedule are the Saints and Buccaneers. This team, despite their limited offense, could go 4-0 to start the season.

19. Lions (+0)

When your quarterback throws the ball 53 times, chances are you’re not going to win. The Lions running attack? A combined 16 carries for 38 yards. Depth like that won’t lead to wins, but for now, the Lions stay at 19.

20. Browns (+3)

A 28-14 win over the Titans brings the Mariota bandwagon to a stop. The Browns had three takeaways and Manziel did what was required of him. The Browns are reportedly starting McCown this Sunday against the Raiders. This game will show us where the Browns are really at.

21. Dolphins (-4)

There’s no reason the Dolphins should have come anywhere close to losing in Week 1 against the Redskins and there’s no reason they should have come close to losing to Jacksonville. Not only did they come close, they did. Allen Robinson burned the Fins multiple times and when you’re getting scorched by Blake Bortles, you’ve got problems. The Suh signing is looking like a poor one, as he’s done nothing thus far. It’s not going to get any easier with the Bills coming to town.

22. Texans (-4)

Ryan Mallett threw 58 times against Carolina. No quarterback should be approaching 50 pass attempts in a game let alone 60. The Texans need to find their running game. Their defense has been a big disappointment for me thus far.

23. Giants (-2)

The Giants managed to choke again. With the Redskins coming up next, is it possibly they do it a third time?

24. Redskins (+4)

The defense has given up 27 points in two games against the Dolphins and Rams. For the Skins, that’s pretty good. Cousins was 23/27 for 203 yards and a touchdown.

25. Eagles (-11)

This team looks awful on every level. Sam Bradford has no help, DeMarco Murray had more carries than yards last game and the defense is on the field the whole game because of Kelly’s insistence on an up-tempo style. Embarrassing. The Cowboys’ loss of Romo and Bryant has left the door to the division crown wide open for Philly, but I don’t see them jumping through it any time soon. They face the Jets so good luck with that.

26. Buccaneers (+5)

The Bucs broke their losing streak to the Saints. Not much else to report here.

27. 49ers (+0)

Obliterated by the Steelers. Was definitely a wake up call for San Fran.

28. Raiders (+4)

Big win over the Raiders and a bigger day for Derek Carr. Let’s see how they do against the Browns secondary.

29. Jaguars (+1)

Narrow win over the Dolphins but a win’s a win.

30. Titans (-1)

Mariota played great against a terrible defense Week 1. He had to play a great secondary in Cleveland and was thrown off guard.

31. Saints (-6)

Brees might miss time and if he doesn’t, hasn’t looked himself. Mark Ingram last week had 53 yards.

32. Bears (-6)

The new cellar dwellers should get comfortable. The defense is nowhere to be found and Jay Cutler is still a joke. However, Bears fans will wish they had him when Jimmy Clausen steps on the field against the legion of boom. This game might be aired on Comedy Central.

Biggest Climb: Bengals (+13)

Biggest Drop: Eagles (-11)

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Tim Sports Report for 2015 NFL Week 1

Top 5

1. Rams upset Seattle in opener, 34-31

2. QB Tom Brady 25/32 for 288 yards, 4 TDs, 143.8 QBR vs. PIT

3. WR Julio Jones 9 receptions for 141 yards, 2 TDs vs. PHI

4. RB Carlos Hyde 26 carries for 168 yards, 2 TDs vs. MIN

5. WR Keenan Allen 15 receptions for 166 yards vs. DET

Worst of the Worst

5. Injuries galore. Plenty of stars fell to injuries this week, including Dez Bryant, T.Y. Hilton, Andre Ellington, Antonio Cromartie, Luke Kuechly, Bryan Bulaga, Mike Iupati, Eugene Monroe and Reggie Bush.

4. Byron Maxwell, the new top corner for the Philadelphia Eagles, was destroyed by Julio again and again.

3. Colts dropped to Bills. Some experts have picked the Colts to make it to the Super Bowl. I laugh every time I read that.

2. The Vikings vs. 49ers game was easily the sloppiest game of the week. There were 13 penalties and plenty of miscues on both sides of the ball.

1. The New York Giants had the Dallas Cowboys give them the game multiple times on Sunday night but the Giants managed to give Dallas the game right back with some awful clock management. The Giants also apparently didn’t watch the last Super Bowl because they passed from the one-yard line on third and goal and Eli threw it out-of-bounds, leaving just enough time on the clock for Dallas to run down the field and score the game-winning touchdown.

Steelers Recap

The Pittsburgh Steelers were what I expected them to be. The offense was dynamic and DeAngelo Williams had a great day in place of the suspended Le’Veon Bell, with 21 carries for 127 yards. The defense struggled heavily. Gronk was left open on multiple occasions and scored three touchdowns. Basically, the defense looked horrid compared to what we’re used to and we can only hope it gets better throughout the year. Today against San Francisco, the Steelers will face against Week 1’s leading rusher, Carlos Hyde. The result will depend on the Steelers’ rush defense. I believe against Kaepernick the Steelers can pull out a win.

Game of the Week: Seahawks @ Packers

A rematch of the NFC Championship game from last season is one everyone is looking forward to and deservedly so. In Lambeau, I’m taking Green Bay.

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2015-2016 NFL Preview: NFC West



GET: TE Jimmy Graham, CB Cary Graham, CB Will Blackmon, RB Fred Jackson, DT Ahtyba Rubin

LOSE: CB Byron Maxwell, C Max Unger, DT Kevin Williams, OLB Malcolm Smith, OLB O’Brien Schofield, G Stephen Schilling, G James Carpenter, QB Tarvaris Jackson, TE Tony Moeaki

RE-SIGNS: RB Marshawn Lynch, FB Will Tukuafu, DT D’Anthony Smith

DRAFT: 2nd round: DE Frank Clark, Michigan     3rd round: WR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State     4th round: OT Terry Poole, San Diego State     G Mark Glowinski, West Virginia     5th round: CB Tye Smith, Towson     6th round: DE Obum Gwacham, Oregon State     DE Kristjan Sokoli, Buffalo     7th round: S Ryan Smith-Murphy, Oregon State

SUMMARY: The Seahawks look primed to return to the Super Bowl for a third straight year. If they do, it will be the first time since Jim Kelly’s Bills that a team made it to the Super Bowl three consecutive years. With the play-makers and talent this team has, they come into this season as my favorite to win the Super Bowl. They signed a lot of their young talent over the offseason and re-signing Lynch was huge. Lynch comes into this season as the league’s top back and the Seahawks success hinges on him carrying this offense. With that said, the offensive line needs improved. Trading for Jimmy Graham may have been the biggest move of the offseason, but I remain skeptical of how he will be inserted into the offense. Graham isn’t known for his run-blocking and with the Seahawks being so run-heavy, I’m unsure how he’ll make an impact. The insane contract Seattle signed Russell Wilson to was a gross overpay. When Wilson has to be the star of the offense, he struggles. He’s a game manager, similar to Alex Smith, and making him one of the league’s highest-paid players is a move I think management will regret.

However, the only way Seattle loses their grip on the NFC is if Dan Quinn’s departure causes the defense to lose their identity and if the offensive line struggles to run block. If Lynch is stuffed, I have little confidence in the receiving tandem of Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse. Tyler Lockett looks like an exciting commodity though.

For fantasy, Lynch, the Seahawks defense and perhaps Lockett in deeper leagues.


Week 1: @STL   Week 2: @GB   Week 3: vs. CHI   Week 4: vs. DET   Week 5: @CIN   Week 6: vs. CAR   Week 7: @SF   Week 8: @DAL   Week 9: BYE   Week 10: vs. ARI   Week 11: vs. SF   Week 12: vs. PIT   Week 13: @MIN   Week 14: @BAL   Week 15: vs. CLE   Week 16: vs. STL   Week 17: @ARI


GET: QB Nick Foles, DT Nick Fairley, OLB Akeem Ayers, QB Case Keenum

LOSE: DE Alex Carrington, LT Jake Long, RB Zac Stacy, QB Sam Bradford, DT Kendall Langford, OT Joe Barksdale, QB Shaun Hill

RE-SIGNS: TE Lance Kendricks, WR Kenny Britt

DRAFT: 1st round: RB Todd Gurley, Georgia     2nd round: OT Robert Havenstein, Wisconsin     3rd round: OT Jamon Brown, Louisville     QB Sean Mannion, Oregon State     4th round: OT Andrew Donnal, Iowa     6th round: WR Bud Sasser, Missouri     G Cody Wichmann, Fresno State     7th round: ILB Bryce Hager, Baylor     DE Martin Ifedi, Memphis

SUMMARY: The St. Louis Rams may have the best defensive line in football. The Seahawks are great but the argument could be made that the Rams have surpassed them. Chris Long, Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, Robert Quinn, and Nick Fairley complete an undersized defensive line, but they make up for it with their speed. Few backs will surpass 100 yards against this defensive front. Alec Ogletree, the always reliable James Laurinaitis and Akeem Ayers complete what should be one of the best front sevens in football. The secondary will have room to grow with the buffer this front seven will deliver. On offense, 20th in rushing and 23rd in passing should improve considerably now that the offense is playing with starters instead of the second-stringers and in some cases third-stringers that had to start last season. The offensive line is still struggling. That’s got to change. If it does, the Rams will contend for a wild-card spot.


Week 1: vs. SEA   Week 2: @WAS   Week 3: vs. PIT   Week 4: @ARI   Week 5: @GB   Week 6: BYE   Week 7: vs. CLE   Week 8: vs. SF   Week 9: @MIN   Week 10: vs. CHI   Week 11: @BAL   Week 12: @CIN Week 13: vs. ARI   Week 14: vs. DET   Week 15: vs. TB   Week 16: @SEA   Week 17: @SF


GET: G Mike Iupati, DE Cory Redding, LB Sean Witherspoon, RB Chris Johnson, LB LaMarr Woodley, LB Darryl Sharpton, DT Corey Peters, CB Alfonzo Dennard

LOSE: CB Antonio Cromartie, DT Darnell Dockett, LB John Abraham, LB Larry Foote, S Adrian Wilson, DT Dan Williams, RB Jonathan Dwyer, DT Tommy Kelly, TE Rob Housler, WR Ted Ginn, Jr., QB Ryan Lindley

RE-SIGNS: WR Larry Fitzgerald

DRAFT: 1st round: OT D.J. Humphries, Florida     2nd round: DE Markus Golden, Missouri     3rd round: RB David Johnson, Northern Iowa     4th round: DT Rodney Gunter, Delaware State     5th round: DE Shaq Riddick, West Virginia     WR J.J. Nelson, UAB     7th round: TE Gerald Christian, Louisville

SUMMARY: Arizona was hot to start last year but once Palmer was ruled out for the year, Arizona’s future slowly crumbled. Palmer’s inability to stay healthy is a concern and the Arizona backfield is weak. Arizona is the only team in the NFC West that hasn’t boosted their backfield in recent years. Andre Ellington has great burst but also has suffered injuries in recent years, leading to the team finishing second to last in rushing in 2014. Larry Fitzgerald on almost any other team would be a top-15 receiver but has slowly disappeared into the background because of the continued setbacks in Arizona. He and Michael Floyd form an adequate receiving tandem and when Palmer’s healthy, the chemistry is there but injuries have plagued this team the last two seasons and I don’t see that changing because these players have just gotten another year old. The departure of some of the team’s franchise players, including Antonio Cromartie, Darnell Dockett and Adrian Wilson leaves Arizona with a young group and little veteran leadership. With the secondary the Cardinals have, there’s no excuse for their 29th ranking against the pass. I just don’t think Arizona is built for the long run.

If you have a solid backup, Palmer is a competent starter and I’ve been drafting Ellington despite his recent injury issues. I’d wait to see how the Cards’ defense does before I draft them.


Week 1: vs. NO   Week 2: @CHI   Week 3: vs. SF   Week 4: vs. STL   Week 5: @DET   Week 6: @PIT   Week 7: vs. BAL   Week 8: @CLE   Week 9: BYE   Week 10: @SEA   Week 11: vs. CIN   Week 12: @SF   Week 13: @STL   Week 14: vs. MIN   Week 15: @PHI   Week 16: vs. GB   Week 17: vs. SEA



GET: WR Torrey Smith, CB Shareece Wright, RB Reggie Bush, LB Philip Wheeler, WR Jerome Simpson

LOSE: G Mike Iupati, LB Patrick Willis, LB Chris Borland, LB Dan Skuta, DL Justin Smith, RB Frank Gore, CB Chris Culliver, CB Perrish Cox, WR Michael Crabtree, T Jonathan Martin, WR Steve Johnson, WR Brandon Lloyd, WR Trindon Holliday

RE-SIGNS: CB Chris Cook, S Craig Dahl, QB Blaine Gabbert

DRAFT: 1st round: DE Arik Armstead, Oregon     2nd round: S Jaquiski Tartt, Samford     3rd round: OLB Eli Harold, Virginia     4th round: TE Blake Bell, Oklahoma     RB Mike Davis, South Carolina     WR DeAndre Smelter, Georgia Tech     5th round: P Bradley Pinion, Clemson     6th round: G Ian Silberman, Boston College     7th round: G Trent Brown, Florida     TE Rory Anderson, South Carolina


The 49ers had quite possibly the worst offseason I’ve ever seen in my 21-plus years on this planet. Half of their team left shop. Four starting linebackers, (Willis, Borland, Skuta, Smith) gone. Three starting offensive lineman, (Iupati, Martin, Davis) gone. Two starting defensive lineman, (McDonald, Smith) gone. Both starting corners, (Culliver, Cox) gone. A starting running back and receiver, (Gore, Crabtree) gone.

Whether it was Jim Harbaugh’s brash coaching style or the fact that all of them felt like it was the right time to retire, I don’t know, but the 49ers that made two straight NFC Championship games are no more. They had one of the best defenses in the league for the last five years, but that train has left the station. Any 49ers fan that expects the same is being unrealistic.

Before the season has started, it seems fair to say the 49ers are back in the cellar of the NFC West. No stats from last year matter because this is a completely different team. There’s no way to determine how bad this team will be, but it’s not looking good. Kaepernick, as I originally predicted, was a one-hit wonder, and has shown to be an immature and not-at-all polished quarterback. With the offensive line San Fran has, it’s embarrassing that Kap found a way to get sacked 52 times last season, tied for third-most in the league.

The signing of Torrey Smith is interesting when you consider Kap’s inability to throw the deep ball and while I have a lot of confidence in Carlos Hyde, it seems unfair he’s expected to carry the whole offense by himself. Despite all of the losses on the defensive side of the ball, I could easily argue Frank Gore was the team’s biggest loss. Gore had been a stalwart in the backfield for a decade. He broached the 1,000-yard mark in eight seasons and missed 12 games in ten years, including none in the last four seasons. Frank Gore is the oldest starting running back in the league and while many consider that a cause for concern, I would argue it demonstrates his incredible ability to endure. Is his career coming to an end? Of course, but I think the signing of Gore should have been the 49ers’ top priority.

Next on that list should have been G Mike Iupati, one of the best guards in the league, but he was allowed to go to division rival Arizona.

The team just looks desolate. All of this team’s best play-makers have departed or retired. The departure of LB Chris Borland, who led the team in tackles last year, was especially painful. The team was hoping he could be their next franchise linebacker.

San Francisco’s secondary was weaker last year than it had been in the past and now has only fallen farther off the cliff. Safeties Antoine Bethea and Eric Reid will be expected to bail out its young corners. Thankfully, the Niners are deep at the safety position, with second-year safety Jimmie Ward ready to come in at a moment’s notice.

This team’s depth and starters have been cut in half and given their competition of the AFC and NFC North, San Francisco is looking at a down year for sure. It will give the young team a chance to prove themselves and show new coach Jim Tomsula what he has to work with, but little more than that. If the Niners expect to compete, these are the things that have got to happen:

  1. They’ve got to get pressure on the quarterback. Last year, San Francisco had a below-average 36 sacks. That won’t cut it.
  2. The secondary must hold. They led the league with 23 interceptions but there’s no way they can repeat that. The 86 passes defended, good for fifth in the league? That should be their goal.
  3. Hyde has to eclipse 1,000. With Kap’s imminent struggles ready to resume, Hyde must outperform him and make the transition from Gore as easy as possible.
  4. They’ve got to find offense. Last year, they averaged 19.1 ppg, 25th in the league. The teams below them? Washington, Cleveland, New York Jets, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Oakland and Jacksonville. Not the bunch you want to be with. The defense allowed 21.3 last year, good for tenth-best. That’s right, even with that highlight-reel roster, the team allowed more points than they scored.

Those are the four things that have got to happen if the Niners want to remain relevant, but I’d be surprised if two of those things happen let alone four. It will be an interesting year in San Francisco. We will know this team’s identity early on.


Week 1: vs. MIN   Week 2: @PIT   Week 3: @ARI   Week 4: vs. GB   Week 5: @NYG   Week 6: vs. BAL   Week 7: vs. SEA   Week 8: @STL   Week 9: vs. ATL   Week 10: BYE   Week 11: @SEA   Week 12: vs. ARI   Week 13: @CHI   Week 14: @CLE   Week 15: vs. CIN   Week 16: @DET   Week 17: vs. STL

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2015-2016 NFL Preview: NFC North



GET: None

LOSE: CB Tramon Williams, LB A.J. Hawk, CB Davon House, LB Brad Jones, LB Jamari Lattimore, WR Jarret Boykin, QB Matt Flynn, RB DuJuan Harris

RE-SIGNS: WR Randall Cobb, DT B.J. Raji, DT Letroy Guion, OL Bryan Bulaga, FB John Kuhn

DRAFT: 1st round: S Damarious Randall, Arizona State     2nd round: CB Quinten Rollins, Miami     3rd round: WR Ty Montgomery, Stanford     4th round: OLB Jake Ryan, Michigan     5th round: QB Brett Hundley, UCLA     6th round: FB Aaron Ripkowski, Oklahoma     DE Christian Ringo, Louisiana-Lafayette     TE Kennard Backman, UAB

SUMMARY: The loss of one of the league’s best receivers in Jordy Nelson was a huge hit to the deadly Packers offense. However, if there’s any team that can overcome this loss, it’s the Packers. Aaron Rodgers, fresh off a league MVP and 38:5 touchdown-interception ratio, no longer has to face an elite Bears’ squad or a decapitating Lions’ defensive line. In other words, Rodgers is set for a huge year, Nelson or not. Eddie Lacy should expect more carries this year but I still remain skeptical of his production since he still stars for a pass-happy team.

The defense, however, remains awful. On paper, this team doesn’t look bad, but the defensive line is completely shot minus Raji. Imagine this defensive line if they hadn’t re-signed him.

Outside linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers are sure to pressure quarterbacks and add to the team’s 41 sacks, tied for ninth-best. The secondary, at least on paper, should be more than adequate. Sam Shields is a serviceable corner and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is an emerging star. While the stats are middle of the road for this team, it’s worth noting the Packers played the weak NFC South last year. Against the NFC and AFC West, the Packers will have a much tougher time.

However, there’s no one in the NFC North that can dethrone Green Bay and they’re one of the few teams who can beat Seattle, so a division crown and a playoff run is a given.

For fantasy, Rodgers, Lacy, Cobb, James Jones and Davante Adams are all great pickups.


Week 1: @CHI   Week 2: vs. SEA   Week 3: vs. KC   Week 4: @SF   Week 5: vs. STL   Week 6: vs. SD   Week 7: BYE   Week 8: @DEN   Week 9: @CAR   Week 10: vs. DET   Week 11: @MIN   Week 12: vs. CHI   Week 13: @DET   Week 14: vs. DAL   Week 15: @OAK   Week 16: @ARI   Week 17: vs. MIN


GET: WR Mike Wallace, CB Terence Newman, OLB Casey Matthews, QB Shaun Hill, TE Brandon Bostick, S Taylor Mays

LOSE: WR Greg Jennings, DE Corey Wootton, FB Jerome Felton, OT J’Marcus Webb, QB Matt Cassel, LB Jasper Brinkley, OT Vladimir Ducasse, QB Christian Ponder

RE-SIGNS: LB Chad Greenway, OL Joe Berger, OL John Sullivan, RB Matt Asiata

DRAFT: 1st round: CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State     2nd round: ILB Eric Kendricks, UCLA     3rd round: DE Danielle Hunter, LSU     4th round: OT T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh     5th round: TE MyCole Pruitt, Southern Illinois     WR Stefon Diggs, Maryland     6th round: OT Tyrus Thompson, Oklahoma     DE B.J. Dubose, Louisville     7th round: OT Austin Shepherd, Alabama     OLB Edmond Robinson, Newberry

SUMMARY: The Vikings had a great year without their star player, Adrian Peterson, in 2014, going 7-9 with little offensive talent. Mike Zimmer’s squad finished 14th in total defense, including an impressive 7th against the pass and 41 sacks. However, they need to improve against the rush. Without Peterson, the Vikings averaged 20.3 points per game, 20th in the league, a stat that needs to be improved.

The expectations for the Vikings are high. The running game should be huge with the return of Peterson and Teddy Bridgewater’s inaugural highlight reel demonstrated potential. They should contend for a wild-card spot.

For fantasy, Adrian Peterson and Teddy Bridgewater catch my eye, although I don’t know if I’d select Bridgewater as a QB1.


Week 1: @SF   Week 2: vs. DET   Week 3: vs. SD   Week 4: @DEN   Week 5: BYE   Week 6: vs. KC   Week 7: @DET   Week 8: @CHI   Week 9: vs. STL   Week 10: @OAK   Week 11: vs. GB   Week 12: @ATL   Week 13: vs. SEA   Week 14: @ARI   Week 15: vs. CHI   Week 16: vs. NYG   Week 17: @GB


GET: DT Haloti Ngata, C Manny Ramirez, DE Corey Wootton, WR Lance Moore, WR Greg Salas

LOSE: DT Ndamukong Suh, DT Nick Fairley, DE George Johnson, RB Reggie Bush, DT Andre Fluellen, DT C.J. Mosley, C Dominic Raiola, G Rodney Austin, FB Jed Collins, CB Cassius Vaughn, TE Kellen Davis, QB Kellen Moore

RE-SIGNS: K Matt Prater, CB Rashean Mathis

DRAFT: 1st round: G Laken Tomlinson, Duke     2nd round: RB Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska     3rd round: CB Alex Carter, Stanford     4th round: DT Gabe Wright, Auburn     5th round: FB Michael Burton, Rutgers     6th round: CB Quandre Diggs, Texas     7th round: OT Corey Robinson, South Carolina

SUMMARY: The Lions had one of the worst offseasons this year, losing Suh, Fairley, George Johnson, Mosley and Fluellen, all defensive line contributors. Haloti Ngata may be one of the league’s most dominant forces in the trenches, but he’s 31 and I don’t know how much gas he has in the tank. Either way, it’s a temporary fix and Detroit will need to address that in the draft. Jim Caldwell has a lot less to work with this year.

Detroit might have been 13th against the pass last year, but I’d like to emphasize that ranking did not come because of the play of Darius Slay, James Ihedigbo, Glover Quin and 35-year-old Rashean Mathis. Without the insane amount of pressure the Lions were able to cause up front, there is no way Detroit replicates its 20 interceptions last season, tied for third-most, or its 42 sacks. Detroit was 28th in rushing last season and there’s no way that total with prove adequate this season. Matthew Stafford has thrown more than 600 passes for four consecutive seasons, a trend that must change in Detroit. Do you know when the Lions were last in the top-half of the league in rushing? 1998. Do you know who the star running back was that year? Barry Sanders.

That’s correct. It has been 17 seasons, nearly two decades, since the Lions were ranked 15th or better in rushing. During those 17 years, Detroit has ranked 28th or lower in rushing nine times, including dead last twice. Hopefully newcomer Ameer Abdullah can be the franchise’s back of the future because Detroit hasn’t had one since Sanders left. With the loss of its defensive line and with a one-dimensional offense, expect the Lions to fall, especially given their schedule of the AFC and NFC West.

I’d avoid everyone on the Lions with the exception of Calvin Johnson. Stafford is trending down and the Lions defense won’t be dominant nor Tate as efficient as he was last year.


Week 1: @SD   Week 2: @MIN   Week 3: vs. DEN   Week 4: @SEA   Week 5: vs. ARI   Week 6: vs. CHI   Week 7: vs. MIN   Week 8: @KC   Week 9: BYE   Week 10: @GB   Week 11: vs. OAK   Week 12: vs. PHI   Week 13: vs. GB   Week 14: @STL   Week 15: @NO   Week 16: vs. SF   Week 17: @CHI


GET: S Antrel Rolle, LB Mason Foster, DE Pernell McPhee, WR Eddie Royal, LB Sam Acho, CB Alan Ball, OT Vladimir Ducasse, DE Ray McDonald, C Will Montgomery, RB Jacquizz Rodgers, TE Bear Pascoe,

LOSE: WR Brandon Marshall, CB Charles Tillman, LB D.J. Williams, LB Lance Briggs, C Roberto Garza, C Brian De La Puente, S Chris Conte, S Danny McCray, DT Stephen Paea, WR Josh Morgan, LB Darryl Sharpton, K Jay Feely

RE-SIGNS: TE Dante Rosario, QB Jimmy Clausen

DRAFT: 1st round: WR Kevin White, West Virginia     2nd round: DT Eddie Goldman, Florida State     3rd round: C Hroniss Grasu, Oregon     4th round: RB Jeremy Langford, Michigan State     5th round: S Adrian Amos, Penn State     6th round: OT Tayo Fabuluje, TCU

SUMMARY: If you want to know why the Bears have been struggling, I give you two stat lines: 16th and 27th. That’s how Chicago has finished in rushing the last two seasons under Trestman. Matt Forte, still underrated after all these years in the league, is the guy who defines the Chicago offense. As dominant as Brandon Marshall was as the number one receiver and now number one Alshon Jeffery, Forte has been the cornerstone in the offense. My favorite stat from last season: Guess who was fourth in receptions last year? Matt Forte. That’s right, a running back last year had more receptions than everyone not named Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas and Julio Jones. Forte was second in the league in rushing in 2013 with 1,339 yards. Last year, he was 12th with 1,038. If the Bears want to succeed on offense, the Bears need to make Forte the figurehead again. As for the defense, there’s not many positives here. They were third-last against the pass last year. Kyle Fuller is an emerging star as is new OLB Pernell McPhee, but the team is aging with Jared Allen and Antrel Rolle expecting to lead this team. They can still ball, but this team needs to find some franchise players on defense quick.

Forte should be a huge pickup this year and I think Jeffery, if he can get healthy, should have the targets to become a top-15 receiver.


Week 1: vs. GB   Week 2: vs. ARI   Week 3: @SEA   Week 4: vs. OAK   Week 5: @KC   Week 6: @DET   Week 7: BYE   Week 8: vs. MIN   Week 9: @SD   Week 10: @STL   Week 11: vs. DEN   Week 12: @GB   Week 13: vs. SF   Week 14: vs. WAS   Week 15: @MIN   Week 16: @TB   Week 17: vs. DET

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2015-2016 NFL Power Rankings: Week 1

Week 1 was a blast and a long time coming. Now it’s time to see how the tables have turned. The numbers after team names are how they’ve progressed from last week’s rankings.

1. Patriots (+4)

Of all the teams in my top five, the Patriots were the only team that had a dominant win on all fronts. The offense was impressive, with Brady having one of the best performances of the week and Gronk proving he’s surpassed Jimmy Graham as the league’s best tight end. The defense needs to do better against the run. They got run over by DeAngelo Williams, one of four backs to eclipse 100 yards this week.

2. Packers (+0)

The Packers maintain the number two spot after an expected win over Chicago. Rodgers had a quiet day, going 18/23 for 189 yards and 3 touchdowns, but sometimes quiet is good. The defense struggled, giving up 23 points to a struggling Bears squad and got scorched by Forte, who had 24 carries for 141 yards.

3. Seahawks (-2)

The only thing that can go wrong for Seattle is the offensive line struggles and that’s what we saw on Sunday. The Rams got six sacks on Wilson and bottled Lynch. Wilson can’t be expected to throw 41 times a game. Seahawks look like they’re in the middle of a loss of identity. The defense giving up 34 points to Nick Foles and Benny Cunningham is inexcusable.

4. Broncos (-1)

The Broncos defense looked incredible on Sunday, holding the Ravens to 173 total yards. However, Manning struggled and the electric Broncos offense was held to 219. If I’m a Broncos fan, I would be a little concerned since Manning hasn’t looked himself for quite a while now.

5. Chargers (+2)

Trailing 21-3 in the second quarter, Rivers earned his new contract, completing 35/42 for 404 yards and two touchdowns. Melvin Gordon’s limited action is partly due to the Chargers having to come from behind.

6. Cardinals (+0)

A solid win for the Cardinals. Carson Palmer had one of the week’s strongest fantasy performances, completing 19/32 for 307 yards and three touchdowns. Ellington’s injury leaves a hole in the backfield and it will be interesting to see how they adjust.

7. Rams (+10)

What a performance for the Rams. Against the best team in the league, Nick Foles threw for 297 yards and a touchdown and the defense sacked Wilson six times and held Lynch to 73 yards. What more can you ask for? For a team to beat Seattle with a third-string running back, an offensive line that struggled heavily last year and a weak receiving corps, that’s no small accomplishment.

8. Ravens (+0)

The defense played phenomenal against the Broncos but the offense was nowhere to be found. Another week like that on offense and the Ravens will find themselves outside the top ten.

9. Bills(+9)

Tyrod Taylor proved how weak the Colts defense is, going 14 of 19 for 195 yards and a touchdown in his debut. The defense held Luck to a 53.1 completion percentage and Frank Gore to a measly 31 yards. Be warned, however. The Bills run-blocking proved to be awful once again and McCoy struggled behind it.

10. Cowboys (-1)

The Cowboys might have won the game, but that was only because of the Giants’ poor clock management. The Cowboys committed far too many turnovers despite controlling the game and had it not been for an awful pass interference call against the Giants in the end zone, the Cowboys would have had seven fewer points on the board during their final drive. The running game looked fine without Murray.

11. Jets (+1)

The Jets had a little trouble getting out of the gate, but Ivory shined against a Browns defense that struggled against the rush last year. Fitzpatrick threw for 179 and two touchdowns and the defense was great.

12. Chiefs (+2)

Alex Smith had one of the best stat lines of the week: 22/33 for 243 yards, 3 TDs. Not shabby, Smith. Not shabby at all. It was against the Texans defense no less.

13. Colts (-9)

The Colts are worse, yes, you read that right, worse than they were last year. Despite all of the buzz around this team, this team still lost its defensive line last year and still can’t run the ball. What did we see on Sunday? A team with no defensive line and who couldn’t run the ball. If T.Y. Hilton misses time, it’s not looking good for Indianapolis, especially if Luck’s woes continue.

14. Eagles (-4)

I was away from the TV working for my school newspaper but I wish I had gotten to see this game. Through one half, Murray still hadn’t gained a yard. So much for a debut. Instead, Sam Bradford was asked to throw 52 times and as you could guess, threw two interceptions. When your backfield includes DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles, there is no reason that should happen. The defense got destroyed by Tevin Coleman and Julio Jones. Maxwell, who the Eagles are severely overpaying, looked silly.

15. Vikings (-4)

Minnesota might have been the only team not to score a touchdown in week one, but the team didn’t look awful against San Francisco. Granted, they should have won this game but Norv Turner gave the ball to Adrian Peterson ten times. That’s it. Learn to run your offense, Turner. The Vikings D didn’t look bad the first three quarters.

16. Steelers (+0)

The Steelers were what I expected them to be: electric on offense, embarrassing on defense. Gronk was somehow invisible on the field, as the Steelers couldn’t cover him all night.

17. Dolphins (-4)

The Dolphins offense struggled against the Redskins. Let that sink in for a second. Tannehill had his best season last year and if Dolphins fans expect a playoff spot, he and Lamar Miller have got to perform. Mishaps like last Sunday cannot happen. Suh and the defense got shredded by Alfred Morris so keep that in the recesses of your mind.

18. Texans (-3)

The defense was torn limb from limb by Alex Smith and the offense with Brian Hoyer was nothing to be excited about. Rumors are Mallett is starting week 2.

19. Lions (+0)

The Lions lately have choked more than the Cowboys. That’s an impressive feat. Jim Caldwell turned this team around last year but he had a lot more to work with then.

20. Falcons (+4)

The Falcons defense stuffed 2014’s leading rusher, forcing Bradford to throw a ridiculous 52 times. Rookie Tevin Coleman ran for 80 yards, good for 7th-most this week and Julio Jones had the best performance among receivers, catching 9 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns. If the team’s improved this much in one week, imagine how much Quinn could do over the course of a season.

21. Giants (-1)

Probably some of the worst clock management we’ll see this year, the Giants managed to blow a game where the Cowboys gave them every chance to win. Makes me wonder if Coughlin watched the Super Bowl. When you’re on the one, RUN THE BALL.

22. Bengals (+1)

They beat the Raiders. Big deal.

23. Browns (-1)

Hung in there with the Jets for a bit but fell apart in the second half. Run defense still needs work.

24. Panthers (+1)

They beat the Jaguars and the offense, as expected, struggled. Interested to see how Cam does when he has to face better competition.

25. Saints (+1)

Brees and the Saints are in for a tough year.

26. Bears (+1)

Hung in there with the Packers. They could have gone up a solid five spots had they won. Huge day for Forte.

27. 49ers (+2)

Carlos Hyde’s first start led to the best rushing performance of the week. Few passes for Kap. Defense was capable.

28. Redskins (+2)

They hung in there with the Dolphins until the very end and Alfred Morris has proved his reliability time and time again.

29. Titans (+3)

Huge day for Mariota but let’s remember this was against the Bucs.

30. Jaguars (-2)

They’re the Jags. Honestly don’t know what else to say here.

31. Buccaneers (-10)

I had hopes this team could improve from the get-go but based off Sunday’s throttling, I guess I was wrong.

32. Raiders (-1)

Destroyed by Cincinnati. Oakland being Oakland.

Biggest Climb: Rams (+10)

Biggest Drop: Buccaneers (-10)

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2015-2016 NFL Preview: New York Giants

*Originally posted on SportsTalkFeed

The New York Giants’ Odell Beckham, Jr. is a boss, plain and simple. In 12 games, OBJ still cracked the top ten in receptions (91), receiving yards (1,305) and touchdowns (12). Already infamous for what can only be called the catch of the century, Odell Beckham, Jr. will be the focal point of the New York Giants offense. Hopefully the Madden curse doesn’t stick to him.

With no running game to be found last year (23rd) and Victor Cruz losing his knee, the Giants’ offense was Eli to OBJ all day and they had some success with that. As I said, OBJ is set to become one of the league’s best receivers for years to come and Eli finished with 4,410 yards passing, sixth-most. That’s the most passing yards Eli’s had since the 2011 season. The Giants went on to defeat the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Does that mean you should expect a Giants’ Super Bowl appearance? Hahahaha, no. Not a chance, but it does show Eli has the potential to carry this team. Last year’s 30 touchdowns to 14 interceptions was a huge improvement over 2013’s 18:27. In fact, Eli’s 30:14 last year was the best ratio of his career and that ratio came from throwing the ball 601 times last season, the most he’s ever thrown in one season.

Given the team’s faulty play in the backfield, Eli will have the opportunity to repeat those numbers. Whether he does, I don’t know. Eli’s not the most consistent quarterback, but the chance is there is what I’m saying. If I’m not being forward enough, Eli and Beckham should be huge fantasy pickups. Victor Cruz might even have a resurgence.

With that said, the Giants don’t have a lot of excitement elsewhere. In 2014, the Giants started the second-oldest lineup in the league and are 25th this year. While there are plenty of older players in the league that still make huge contributions to the team, such as Frank Gore, the Giants personnel doesn’t have any of them.

The entire left side of the Giants offensive line is fresh out of the gate with rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers,third-year left guard Justin Pugh and second-year center Weston Richburg. Youth like that brings hope and promise for the future but not the immediate one. The NFC East gets a breather in some regards, playing the defensive lines of the NFC South but will be tortured by the boosted defenses of the AFC East. Regardless of how they do, I don’t see how the running game can succeed given last year’s numbers, only putting more onus on Eli’s play-making ability and the defense.

Let’s talk about that defense. The front seven is screaming for help, finishing 3oth against the run last year. The linebackers and the defensive line have no real play-makers aside from Jason Pierre-Paul who managed to blow his finger off this season and currently isn’t on the team’s depth chart. Imagine how much worse it would be without JPP. JPP isn’t amazing but when compared to the Giants’ current front seven, he’s like the new Lawrence Taylor which means JPP definitely has the upper hand in future contract negotiations. The Giants drafted S Landon Collins, who looks to be a strong candidate for rookie of the year but no linebackers got on their draft board at its conclusion, in my opinion, their most dire need. Offensive line was a huge one, too, but the Giants best linebacker is Jon Beason. Jon Beason!!!

Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are serviceable but neither in my mind opinion has the talent required to guard a top receiver. In case you forgot, the top receivers in the other NFC East clubhouses are Dez Bryant, Jordan Matthews and DeSean Jackson. Good luck with that, New York.

Half the defense is too young and the other half isn’t good enough. Five projected starters have less than three years experience. That’s almost half if you struggle with math.

In closing, the Giants are not going to contend for a division title, nor compete for a wild-card spot. They’ll have their games and the fans will still have stuff to see in the passing game, but there’s not any developed talent on this team’s defense. On the other hand, they’ll be better than the Redskins.

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