Tag Archives: Miami Dolphins

2017-2018 NFL Power Rankings: Week 2

1. Chiefs (+0)

Kansas City follows a dominant win against New England with an impressive home finish against Philadelphia, who’s playing like a playoff team right now.

2. Raiders (+0)

Derek Carr lights up the Jets with Michael Crabtree hauling in three touchdowns.

3. Broncos (+10)

They looked very good in week one against the Chargers and followed it up with a dominant performance against the Cowboys. Was arguably the best game on Sunday. Trevor Siemian looks like more than a game manager and the No Fly Zone is alive and well.

4. Eagles (+0)

Hard for me to fault the Eagles when they played a competitive game against the Chiefs. Carson Wentz is far superior to Jared Goff and looks like a young franchise staple, though we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves just yet.

5. Patriots (+0)

I’m reluctant to move them after a concerning start last week, but the Saints gave the Patriots a chance to sure up their secondary. They were up to the task. Brady looked like himself.

6. Cowboys (-3)

Dallas got throttled. The best offensive line in football could not contain the Denver pass rush. Prescott played well despite a lack of a running game. Not well enough that he can beat a team like Denver by himself, but well. Cowboys defense looked out of sorts.

7. Lions (+0)

Stafford beats a dismal Giants team. Not much news here.

8. Falcons (+2)

After a head-turning score against Buffalo, Atlanta beats Rodgers at home.

9. Packers (-3)

They played Seattle and Atlanta in their first two games, easily the toughest slate thus far. Winning one of those games is still a good start to the season.

10. Steelers (-1)

Offense got some consistency against Minnesota but nowhere near the production of last season. Ben looks like the wheels are slowing down, though not enough to hit the panic button. Offensive line played much better against a top-ten front seven. Unsure how good Steelers defense is given their lack of competition (Kizer, Keenum).

11. Titans (+1)

Clearly the frontrunners in the South right now, Tennessee pulled away from the Jaguars in the second half. Neither Murray or Mariota are in fourth gear right now and they still put up 37 against Jacksonville.

12. Ravens (-4)

Offense is still unsteady. Capable defense has played weak competition (Browns, Bengals).

13. Seahawks (-2)

This team better find an offensive line fast. Right now, looks like Russell Wilson and the opposing team’s entire defensive line is playing a game of tag. Seattle is at risk of not making the playoffs despite the Legion of Boom, which would be a genuine travesty.

14. Vikings (+0)

Without Bradford and against a better team, the Minnesota offense was contained. Defense played admirably against a top-five O-line.

15. Buccaneers (+3)

Winston has all the tools he requires to have a top-ten offense. Doug Martin isn’t even back yet.

16. Jaguars (-1)

The Jaguars’ run, run, run tactic waned against Tennessee, who caught on as quickly as expected. Jaguars desperately need quarterback help. This issue will likely leave them out of the playoff race for the umpteenth time.

17. Chargers (-1)

The Chargers choke more than any team in football. Getting that monkey off their back will lead to a lot of wins. Rivers can lead this team.

18. Rams (-1)

Got straight run over by Washington, who had 229 yards on the ground. Wade Phillips is the coordinator in Los Angeles. Need to bounce back against San Fran.

19. Panthers (+1)

Carolina might be the least interesting undefeated team remaining. Wins against the 9ers and Bills don’t tell us much about the Panthers.

20. Redskins (+3)

Ground game looked great. Cousins looks like he misses McVay’s play calls.

21. Saints (+0)

Saints had trouble in the red zone in week one. Waiting for them to utilize Adrian Peterson in some meaningful way. Defense is still set for historic numbers.

22. Dolphins (+2)

Not getting excited about Cutler. Ajayi has to prove he’s for real this year.

23. Bears (-1)

After a strong showing against Atlanta, a meh one against the Bucs.

24. Cardinals (-5)

We’re learning how important David Johnson is to this football team. Defense will earn them wins but they got lightly carved by Jacoby Brissett.

25. Bills (+2)

Buffalo hung with Carolina. Let’s get Shady going, shall we?

26. Texans (+2)

Houston really needed this one. Deshaun Watson will have some growing pains but had a connection with Hopkins on Thursday. Watt stepped up.

27. Browns (-2)

Cleveland’s team is young. They will win games and should win against the Colts next week.

28. 49ers (+1)

Held Seattle in check, lost 12-9. Score a touchdown and that’s a W.

29. Giants (-3)

The line is a mess and McAdoo’s scheme might be worse. A team with as talented a receiving corps as the Giants have to suck this much is inexcusable. McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese need canned. They have a top-ten defense that likely won’t see the playoffs.

30. Jets (+1)

They hung with Oakland for a bit there.

31. Colts (+1)

Brissett showed us how truly awful Scott Tolzien is. This team could use some Luck right now.

32. Bengals (-2)

Andy Dalton is likely seeing his last year in Cincy. The offensive coordinator was fired following Thursday’s game. Marvin Lewis still has a job in the NFL, for some reason.

Biggest Climb: Broncos (+10)

Biggest Fall: Cardinals (-5)

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2017-2018 NFL Power Rankings: Week 1

1. Chiefs

Kansas City had a historic night against the best team in football. Alex Smith played the best game of his career in a crucial game, not only because it was on the road in New England, but because draft pick Patrick Mahomes is now on the bench chomping at the bit for a shot. Kareem Hunt, after fumbling on his first NFL snap, exploded with the most fantasy points ever scored in a rookie debut in the history of the NFL. His stat line was quite impressive (17 for 148, TD; 5 receptions for 98, 2 TDs) and with Spencer Ware out for the year, was the type of game Kansas City needed to see from the Toledo product. Tyreek Hill looked like a star receiver. All this said, it’s important to put things into perspective. Tom Brady was clearly not himself on Thursday, two long touchdowns were scored off of blown coverages and again, Alex Smith has seen his best performance pass him by. It was the perfect start for the Chiefs, but just the start.

2. Raiders

Derek Carr looked fresh off his season-ending injury from last year and Marshawn Lynch looked like Marshawn. I’m hesitant to get too excited about the latter, just because it was one game, but I had no complaints. It was also against Tennessee, a likely playoff team. Finally, it was probably a fluke, but the Raiders didn’t allow a passing touchdown and DeMarco Murray didn’t get 50 yards rushing.

3. Cowboys

The second year matters a lot more to an NFL player’s career than the first because it shows whether or not he’s a one-hit wonder. Dak Prescott does not look like a one-hit wonder. Dallas has made a seamless transition at the quarterback position, found a running back that makes the absolute most of his offensive line and defensive coordinator Scott Linehan has done wonders with the Cowboys defense. Notre Dame star Jaylon Smith looked good.

4. Eagles

Carson Wentz looked improved with a valid receiving core and outperformed Kirk Cousins. The Philly defensive front looked insufferable.

5. Patriots

New England’s still my Super Bowl pick, but looked disorganized on Thursday. The Patriots defense set a record for most yardage allowed in the Belichick era and couldn’t get any pressure on Alex Smith. That element must change quick. However, New England fans shouldn’t panic. They face New Orleans on Sunday, the perfect team to face when you need to improve your defense and get your offense rolling.

6. Packers

Packers once again come out victorious against a powerful foe. Defense held Russell Wilson at bay, though that may say more about the Seahawks offensive line then the Packers defense. Still, a win against Atlanta in week 2 would be huge.

7. Lions

Matt Stafford started the first game following his bloated contract signing in the worst way, throwing a pick-six, but, as Stafford does, slinged his way to yet another fourth quarter comeback. However, as has always been the problem with Detroit, they still have no idea how to run the ball. Ameer Abdullah was nonexistent. This continual reliance on Stafford will come back to bite the Lions for the umpteenth time in a row.

8. Ravens

Yes, they played the Bengals, who are awful, as I expected. Yes, Joe Flacco was mediocre at best. Yes, the Ravens defense played way better than I anticipated in its opening game and yes, that alone is worth a top-ten spot after a rather mundane week 1 for the NFL.

9. Steelers

Ben looked frazzled, the offensive line struggled, Le’Veon Bell was clearly not prepared after his holdout and the offensive play calling was lacking. However, T.J. Watt and the defensive pressure on rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer was great, totaling seven sacks and Antonio Brown showed why he’s the highest-paid receiver in the league with an 11-reception, 182 yard performance. That is why Brown got the extension with the Steelers and not Bell. They play the Vikings on Sunday, which will give the offensive line a chance to redeem themselves against one of the best defensive lines in football.

10. Falcons

Nothing flashy. Actually concerning that they couldn’t beat Chicago until the last play of the game.

11. Seahawks

Russell Wilson needs help up front. Badly. He can perform insane athletic feats as he scrambles for his life, but he can’t be expected to do that every game. A running game would be a huge help, too. The Seattle defense is excellent, but if you hold Aaron Rodgers to 17 points and still lose, you need to take a real look at your offense.

12. Titans

Marcus Mariota wasn’t flashy and Murray didn’t thrill against the Raiders defense but it’s worth noting their defense held the Raiders to 26. They kept them in the game. Look to make a big step in 2017 and hopefully, a playoff spot.

13. Broncos

Trevor Siemian looked fine in his first start of the year. Broncos defense will give teams fits all season.

14. Vikings

Not going to get excited about Sam Bradford carving the worst defense in the league. Dalvin Cook looked good and one of the best defenses in football did great in the red zone against Drew Brees.

15. Jaguars

I had them ranked highly after they were able to contend with Green Bay in week one last year. We’ll see if something similar happens. Last year, following the Green Bay game, they went 2-11. Fournette looked good and Jacksonville looks content to run the wheels off of him, but that strategy won’t work against everyone. They’ll need to get more creative as the season progresses.

16. Chargers

A late rally nearly got the Los Angeles Chargers a W. They lost a lot of close games last year, a stat that needs to change if they want a postseason birth.

17. Rams

Not going to get excited about the Rams beating on Scott Tolzien. Rams defense will be good this year with Wade Phillips in town.

18. Buccaneers

Bye. Jameis should be a lot better with added weapons on the offense.

19. Cardinals

Loss of David Johnson will hurt this team tremendously. Carson Palmer looked washed up.

20. Panthers

Carolina won against the 49ers. Yay.

21. Saints

The defense is awful but if they performed in the red zone, they likely beat the Vikings.

22. Bears

Nearly pulled off an upset of an Atlanta.

23. Redskins

Ryan Kerrigan is really good and the defensive front will get some pressure. Offense looked stagnant.

24. Dolphins

Bye. Not thrilled to see Jay Cutler.

25. Browns

Looked like an actual football team. Offensive line should allow for a strong running game this year.

26. Giants

McAdoo needs fired. Offense, despite multiple weapons, is bottom five. Great defense will help them contend for a playoff spot but already regret picking them for a wild card spot.

27. Bills

Struggling to beat the Jets is nothing to be proud of.

28. Texans

Defense struggled with Jags. Hopefully Deshaun Watson can get the offense going.

29. 49ers

Kyle Shanahan should get some fresh energy in the locker room.

30. Bengals

Andy Dalton is approaching a cliff. Marvin Lewis has been off the cliff for years but continues to have a job.

31. Jets

Who would have thought the Jets wouldn’t be at the bottom of the power rankings after week one?

32. Colts

The defense is thin and without Andrew Luck, we get to see how awful Indy really is.

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2016-2017 NFL Power Rankings: Week 7

1. Patriots (+0)

New England is simply too good, railroading anyone who dares to get in their way. Brady is on pace to be the first player ever to win the MVP without playing a full season (can’t recall anyone who has ever done that).

2. Vikings (+0)

Vikings drop their first game of the year. Philly showed their vulnerable on the offensive line (Minnesota’s two starting tackles are both out with injury). With that said, Minnesota is going to have to drop another game before they lose command of this spot.

3. Falcons (+0)

The loss to Seattle is hard to penalize them for. San Diego in the last few weeks has shown they can be dangerous. That said, a home game vs. Green Bay is a must-win.

4. Cowboys (+0)

Bye. Pumped for DAL and PHI on SNF.

5. Broncos (+1)

Denver humiliated Brock Osweiler. Established dominance. C.J. Anderson’s injury will certainly change the offense. Curious to see how they adjust.

6. Eagles (+5)

Who would have thought we’d have two NFC East teams in the top-ten this year? Philly dropped their last two but silenced the doubters with a win over the Vikings.

7. Raiders (+1)

I’m still perplexed how this team sits here on my board but there just aren’t a lot of teams I’d take over Oakland.

8. Seahawks (-3)

What we witnessed on Sunday Night Football was torturous in every sense of the word. Every time Seattle has a change to put the division under lock and key, they give analysts a doubt as to how good they really are. With ten minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks had yet to have multiple first downs on a possession. Russell Wilson is playing hurt and Seattle has decide how long they want to deal with that handicap.

9. Steelers (-2)

A Pittsburgh team led by Landry Jones lost to 11 to New England. Teams who were healthy and faced New England have lost by more. A well-deserved bye week for the Steelers should give them the recuperation time they need.

10. Chiefs (-1)

Shouldn’t have had troubles with New Orleans. AFC West is toughest division in football right now.

11. Lions (+7)

Consecutive wins over Philly, Los Angeles and Washington look pretty good, especially for a team near the bottom in rushing. Stafford hasn’t lost a step without Calvin and has looked better this year than he has in recent ones.

12. Redskins (+0)

Narrow loss to Washington doesn’t diminish their ranking this week.

13. Packers (+0)

A win over a Chicago team that had to play most of the game with Matt Barkley at quarterback is not astounding.

14. Bills (-4)

The foolish Bills started McCoy with a bum hamstring. McCoy promptly injured his hamstring further and is now unlikely to play against New England in a must-win game if they want any chance of capturing the AFC East. Foolish indeed. Oh and they got torched by Miami, too.

15. Bengals (-1)

Win a meaningful game. Please, for the love of all that’s holy, win a meaningful game, Cincinnati, or your fall in the rankings will continue.

16. Giants (-1)

OBJ saved this team last week. Case Keenum saved the Giants season this week.

17. Chargers (+7)

Wins over Denver and Atlanta in back-to-back weeks have saved San Diego’s season and shown, had it not been for failing in the clutch multiple times early, they could be the front runners in the West. As I said, West is the best right now.

18. Rams (-1)

Todd Gurley has the third-worst ypc (3.0) among qualified players. Keenum just threw four interceptions.

19. Cardinals (+1)

That game on Sunday night was a crime against humanity. David Johnson was the only entertainment to be had.

20. Dolphins

Jay Ajayi became the fourth runningback in NFL history to run for 200 yards in back-to-back games. He has single-handedly resurrected the Dolphins’ season.

21. Texans (-2)

Embarrassed. Brock Osweiler threw for the second fewest passing yards on 40 attempts in NFL history. $72 million for this guy.

22. Ravens (-6)

The Ravens skid continues, dropping their fourth consecutive game.

23. Panthers (+0)

Bye.

24. Saints (+1)

The offense is killer. Nearly beat Kansas City.

25. Titans (-3)

Should’ve beat Indy and grabbed the AFC South throne. They did not. The South is the weakest division in football, again.

26. Buccaneers (+0)

Beat San Fran. Yay.

27. Colts (+0)

Beating the Titans is nice and all. Show me more.

28. Jets (+0)

They beat the Ravens and ended their slip n slide but that doesn’t excuse said slide.

29. Bears (+1)

Cutler returns next week. That’s good.

30. 49ers (-1)

Own that six-game losing streak, San Fran!

31. Jaguars (+0)

This team is horrid despite the talent they have. Need changes in the staff if they want to move forward.

32. Browns (+0)

They’ve been close to winning a few times. I’m taking them against the Jets.

Biggest Climb: Lions, Chargers (+7)

Biggest Fall: Ravens (-6)

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2016-2017 NFL Power Rankings: Week 6

1. Patriots (+0)

The Bengals were no match. New England remains the king.

2. Vikings (+0)

The Vikings had a bye and maintain their spot. They play Philly next week, another tough test.

3. Falcons (+1)

Atlanta nearly pulled off the trifecta and if it weren’t for a blatant pass interference no-call, Atlanta wins in Seattle. Their strength of schedule and competitiveness in those games moves them up a spot.

4. Cowboys (+2)

Elliott is a bulldozer and Prescott the perfect game manager. I believe in the Cowboys this year.

5. Seahawks (+3)

Seattle gets a big win over Atlanta, showing they can compete with the big boys.

6. Broncos (-3)

Back-to-back losses drops Denver out of the top five but remain a dangerous team.

7. Steelers (-2)

Pittsburgh has another drastic collapse, flailing against the Dolphins. Ben is now out. Unless they’re competitive against New England, they’ll likely be out of the top ten next week.

8. Raiders (-1)

Oakland falls to Kansas City but have accomplished too much thus far to fall out of my select group.

9. Chiefs (+2)

The Chiefs strength of schedule will likely kick them out next week but an impressive return from the bye week can’t be ignored.

10. Bills (+4)

LeSean McCoy is having a great year and the Bills defense has shown up the last few games. LeSean is hurt and unlikely to be himself next week. How will the offense respond?

11. Eagles (-2)

Wentz was hassled all game and lose an inter-divisional game to the Redskins. I can hear people talking jumping off the Eagles bandwagon already. The team has been competitive in their last two losses. I’m not concerned yet.

12. Redskins (+9)

I have not given the Redskins the credit that they’ve deserved. This week, I make up for that and they give me a reason to, topping Philly at home.

13. Packers (-3)

Green Bay falls to Dallas. Their stats were bloating going into this game, especially on defense. The Cowboys set the record straight. Rodgers is not himself this year. Don’t sound the alarm, but their playoff hopes are shrinking.

14. Bengals (-2)

Cincinnati is 0-4 in meaningful games (PIT, DEN, DAL, NE). Wins against sub-.500 teams will not get you to the playoffs.

15. Giants (+2)

The media and the Giants organization have been giving Odell Beckham Jr. an earful. He may have just saved their season.

16. Ravens (-1)

The Ravens are now 1-3 in meaningful games and on a three-game losing streak. They need to beat the Jets next week.

17. Rams (-1)

As I said in my sports report last week, the Ram defense is not what it was. Todd Gurley cannot carry this offense. With that said, LA showed on Sunday that they can find a way to put up points if they need to. They put up 28 on Detroit.

18. Lions (+0)

Detroit had a tough streak of losses to Tennessee, Green Bay and Chicago but have bounced back with wins over Philadelphia and Los Angeles. They have Washington next week.

19. Texans (-6)

Houston’s offense looked dysfunctional versus Indianapolis. Imagine how they’ll play against Denver next week. Osweiler has not demonstrated he’s worth that contract.

20. Cardinals (-1)

Arizona has to do a lot to redeem himself. Beating a limping dog like the Jets is a small step.

21. Dolphins (+2)

Miami torched Pittsburgh. An injured Ben certainly helped but Jay Ajayi’s historic rushing performance was something.

22. Titans (+0)

Tennessee might be the frontrunner of the AFC South. I’m not calling it but it could happen. They’ve got the Colts next week.

23. Panthers (-2)

Carolina suffers a fourth-straight loss. They have a bye now. Hopefully they can regroup.

24. Chargers (+6)

Finally get a win and against Denver. Let’s see if they improve now that they have the monkey off their back. Bad news: they play Atlanta on Sunday.

25. Saints (+4)

The Saints top the Panthers at home. Believe in Brees, New Orleans. There ain’t no defense to believe in.

26. Buccaneers (+0)

Tampa Bay has the tools on offense that they could be higher than this. Still waiting for them to demonstrate it.

27. Colts (-3)

A blow lead by the Colts against a team they manhandled for almost an entire 60 just isn’t gonna cut it.

28. Jets (-3)

They’re bad.

29. 49ers (-2)

Kaepernick looked better than Gabbert but the team doesn’t have the talent to compete.

30. Bears (+1)

Narrow loss to the Jaguars. Brian Hoyer doesn’t look like a backup quarterback at least.

31. Jaguars (-3)

They have all the reason to improve. They just don’t.

32. Browns (+0)

The Browns.

Biggest Climb: Redskins (+9)

Biggest Drop: Texans (-6) 

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2016-2017 NFL Power Rankings: Week 5

1. Patriots (+1)

Tom Brady is back with no rust to show from his absence. The Patriots are healthy. The Patriots are lethal.

2. Vikings (+1)

I’m still amazed that Minnesota has accomplished what they’ve accomplished without Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson. Truly an astounding feat.

3. Broncos (-2)

Denver missed Trevor Siemian on Sunday. Paxton Lynch showed his potential but made some youthful mistakes.

4. Falcons (+3)

Over Carolina. Over Denver. Not only that, they’ve set a franchise record for most points through five games (175). Can they beat Seattle on the road and complete the trifecta? If they do, it’s likely they find themselves at number one next week.

5. Steelers (+0)

Pittsburgh maintains its spot at five after a dismantling of the Jets.

6. Cowboys (+11)

I hate the Cowboys but the team is good this year. There’s no denying that. While a lack of competition is a valid argument, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have achieved. Elliott is the third rookie to have 130 rushing yards in three straight games. Despite how high I have them ranked, I see an upset in the forecast. I have Dallas beating Green Bay at Lambeau. If they do that, I’ll know for sure they belong in this conversation. They also have Philly the following week.

7. Raiders (+2)

Oakland is a peculiar team. They’re dead last in yards allowed and near the bottom in every defensive category. They’ve allowed over 2,200 yards and 150 points through five games. They’re only the fourth team to accomplish that in NFL history. They’re also the only one to accomplish it and still have a winning record. That might be because, according to my rankings, they’ve played two top-15 teams in five games. As the schedule hardens, I don’t know if this team will be able to overcome its defensive failings but thus far, they’ve found a way, somehow, and that can’t be ignored.

8. Seahawks (+0)

Bye. Seattle’s defense is at the top in ypg, but they also haven’t played a top-15 team yet. Let’s see how they do as the game heats up. They’ve got Atlanta, their first true test.

9. Eagles (+1)

They lost their first game because of a late fumble. Can’t penalize them for that, especially when two other teams in the top ten did so much worse.

10. Packers (-6)

I’m fed up with Green Bay. Lacy is the best player on offense right now. Not Rodgers, not Nelson and not Cobb. That pass attack needs to figure it out. Rodgers told us to relax and played well against Detroit, but let’s not forget that was Detroit. They struggled with the Giants, a team that just built their defense this offseason.

11. Chiefs (+0)

Bye. Steelers crushed them. They come back and face another flying offense, Oakland.

12. Bengals (-6)

They’ve faced three top-ten teams and haven’t beaten any of them. If you can’t compete when it counts, you don’t belong in the top-ten or the playoffs. Of course, Cincy knows about the latter all too well. I’ve said it for years. Cincinnati needs a receiver opposite of Green. Last year, Sanu showed he could be that guy. They chose not to re-sign him. Right now, they’re asking Brandon LaFell to be that guy. That’s laughable.

13. Texans (+0)

Hard to penalize a team as limited on offense as Houston for having troubles with Minnesota but another loss won’t be overshadowed.

14. Bills (+9)

Buffalo had a rough 0-2 start. They’ve won their last three. I see no reason why they can’t make it four against San Francisco. If they don’t, expect them to drop. Not much of an aerial attack in Buffalo with Taylor’s inconsistency and Watkins’ absence, but the defense has come together. They don’t have tough competition until the middle of the season. That’s when we’ll know who this team really is.

15. Ravens (+0)

Narrow loss to the Redskins can’t be skipped over. My concern with Baltimore’s stats and record thus far was strength of schedule. I might have been right about that.

16. Rams (+0)

The Rams have a tough schedule. 3-2 three weeks in, with this offense, regardless of competition, is a feat. That said, LA is middle of the road, nothing more.

17. Giants (+1)

The defense impressed against Green Bay but that very well could have been Green Bay’s recent ineptitude. On offense, it’s a battle of who sucks more, Eli or the run game.

18. Lions (+2)

They grab a narrow win against Philly. I want to see more before I jump up and down.

19. Cardinals (+0)

No points for a win over Blaine Gabbert. None.

20. Panthers (-8)

No Newton. No Panthers defense. No Panthers win. A loss to Tampa Bay at home is very unsettling.

21. Redskins (+1)

They sneak past Baltimore. DeSean hasn’t lit it up. Cousins is hanging in there. Not much to say here.

22. Titans (+3)

I picked Tennessee over Miami even though ESPN Pick ‘Em had that as an upset. I didn’t think it was. I was correct.

23. Dolphins (-2)

The Dolphins are drowning. Get it? Because they’re fish, they’re not supposed to drown? I’m gonna move on now.

24. Colts (+0)

I couldn’t tell you what this team did on Sunday. Probably because a win over Chicago does nothing to change my mind about them.

25. Jets (-11)

The Jets suck. Who knows where the 2015 team went.

26. Buccaneers (+4)

Tampa Bay gets some valuable points for a road win against the NFC champs, though at this point, it seems like a disservice to the term to call them that.

27. 49ers (-1)

They lose a point not for losing to Arizona but for letting David Johnson steamroll them. Kap starts on Sunday. Looking forward to it.

28. Jaguars (+0)

Bye. Jacksonville versus Chicago. Oh boy.

29. Saints (+0)

Bye. We’ll get to see if they got a defense over the last week. Probably not.

30. Chargers (-3)

They blew another one. How can you blow this many games in a row?

31. Bears (+0)

Here the Bears are likely to remain for the 2016 season.

32. Browns (+0)

Here the Browns are guaranteed to remain for the 2016 season. Last week, I said the Browns would start five quarterbacks this season. They started Charlie Whitehurst this week after Kessler was knocked out. Four down, one to go!

Biggest Climb: Cowboys (+11)

Biggest Drop: Jets (-11)

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2016-2017 NFL Power Rankings: Week 1

1. Broncos

A 21-20 win showed us Denver hasn’t changed. The defense is still full of pressure cookers and once again, the Panthers couldn’t protect Cam in the Super Bowl rematch. C.J. Anderson warranted a top-five slot in my sports report and Trevor Siemian didn’t do half bad considering he was facing the second-best defense in the league.

2. Panthers

The Panthers still haven’t found an answer to the labyrinth that is the Broncos defense, but otherwise look to be a top contender for the Super Bowl.

3. Patriots

No Brady. No Gronk. On the road in Arizona. None of it mattered. New England remains the king of the AFC.

4. Steelers

Not far behind them is Pittsburgh, who put up an offensive clinic on the Redskins. Granted, it’s Washington but the Steelers manhandled the entire game.

5. Packers

Green Bay got it done against the Jaguars, who look like a real football team this year.

6. Bengals

A.J. Green desolated Revis Island and the Bengals defense held its own against the Jets. Cincinnati surrendered seven sacks, however, and were forced to quit on the run game halfway through, something that they can’t lean on in the future.

7. Jets

If it wasn’t for Revis not showing up to play and Fitzpatrick being Fitzpatrick and throwing a fourth quarter interception, the Jets could have won. The front seven looked especially lethal and Forte didn’t appear to lose a step in his first game in New York.

8. Cardinals

They looked bad. They struggled at home against a Patriot squad without Brady and Gronk. There’s no reason they should have lost. I have little faith in a Palmer-led offense when it comes to the postseason. Performances in big games like the one on Sunday night give me all the reason to doubt.

9. Jaguars

Most likely too high of a rating for Jacksonville, but they impressed me in their game against Green Bay. They didn’t just look like a football team. They looked like a good one. I’m interested to see how they fare against a more balanced team. Green Bay doesn’t have an exceptional defense.

10. Chiefs

It’s hard to rank after just one week of play but it’s hard to leave a team off the top-ten that came from 17 points down to win in overtime. Shows some determination, especially when they did it all without their best player, Jamaal Charles.

11. Raiders

The Raiders defense does not match with the hype. That said, the offense kept them in the game. Now we just have to see if the defense can do the same down the stretch.

12. Texans

Texans looked comfortable with Lamar Miller in the backfield and Brock Osweiler at quarterback. I just wonder how long that’s going to last.

13. Giants

Giants should have won the NFC East last year and had it not been for three losses because of bad time management, it’s likely they would’ve. I expect them to win it this year. One down and 15 to go.

14. Seahawks

The offensive line is weak. Russ can’t run forever, can he? There’s no Lynch to rely on behind him. There’s a lot of pressure on Russ this year, perhaps too much.

15. Dolphins

Gave Seattle a run for their money. Will the defense start performing the way it should have last year?

16. Lions

Stafford didn’t seem to lose a step against Indianapolis. Granted, not a tough defense to deal with.

17. Colts

Andrew Luck looked like himself but as with Stafford, not much competition.

18. Vikings

Without Bridgewater, the offense will struggle, but Minnesota was a top-ten defense last year and fifth in points against per game. I see no reason why they can’t reach similar numbers this year.

19. Buccaneers

A scoring fiasco it was yet again with the Bucs but will the ship remain steady or collapse midway through its voyage?

20. Chargers

It was so like San Diego to fall apart with a huge lead. I wasn’t even surprised. It just felt like something San Diego would do.

21. 49ers

San Francisco is trying to identify themselves again and time will tell if Chip Kelly is the head of that new dogma.

22. Ravens

Baltimore struggled last year and with Buffalo and Cleveland in weeks one and two, it’s gonna be hard to tell early on if they’re back to their old selves.

23. Eagles

I’m not high on Philly, not with that defense and a rookie quarterback. Against Cleveland, I didn’t learn much, aside from Cleveland is still Cleveland.

24. Redskins

Washington paid Kirk Cousins $20 million for a franchise tag season. Through game one, two interceptions and zero touchdowns. Not the type of production that you’re looking for. I thought tagging Cousins was a bad idea. It’s looking that way thus far. And let’s not talk about how bad the Washington defense looked against Pittsburgh and that Jay Gruden thought the best spot for highly-touted Josh Norman was not opposite Antonio Brown but on the whole other side of the field.

25. Cowboys

Dallas has a rookie QB and RB. I’m not expecting much.

26. Falcons

Matt Ryan? Check. Julio Jones? Check. Defense? Still looking.

27. Bills

That offense isn’t looking good and with Rob Ryan coaching the defense, it’s looking like a down year for Buffalo.

28. Saints

I don’t care how great Drew Brees is. The run game isn’t helping and the defense is aimless.

29. Bears

Bears are a team that’s hard to read. Sometimes I think they have potential and other times I don’t. I’m still surprised they let Forte leave but I’m interested to see how Chicago plays without him.

30. Titans

DeMarco and Derrick Henry in the backfield and Marcus Mariota behind center. Wide receiver is still a question and the defense isn’t exactly full of starlets but there might be a bright future for this team. In like five years.

31. Rams

This team looked bad. Real bad. Bad like a malnourished college team bad. Todd Gurley and nobody on offense and the defense was a no-show. Against San Francisco. No matter how you phrase it, it sounds awful.

32. Browns

Cleveland. RG3 on injured reserve already. Do I need to say more?

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Tim Sports Report for 2015 NFL Week 4

Late again. Finally getting on top of things. Stay tuned.

Top 5

  1. RB Chris Ivory 29 carries for 166 yards, TD vs. MIA

2. QB Eli Manning 20/35 for 212 yards, 3 TDs, INT, 91.6 passer rating vs. BUF

3. RB Devonta Freeman 14 carries for 68 yards, 3 TDs vs. HOU

First running back to score three touchdowns in his first two starts. Seven touchdowns in his first four games, the most since LaDainian Tomlinson had eight in 2005.

4. RB Todd Gurley 19 carries for 146 yards vs. ARI

5. RB Justin Forsett 27 carries for 150 yards vs. PIT

Worst of the Worst

5. Eagles blow game late to Washington, fall to 1-3

4. Dolphins crushed by Jets, fire Philbin

3. QB Jameis Winston 26/43 for 287 yards, 2 TDs, 4 INTs, 57.0 passer rating vs. CAR

2. Blown call in endzone for illegal touching in DET-SEA game

  1. Josh Scobee misses two late field goals, leads to Steelers losing in overtime.

Steelers Recap

Josh freaking Scobee. I don’t think I’ve hated a Steelers player this much since Tommy Maddux. I don’t know what kicker we traded for, but I’m fairly certain it wasn’t Josh Scobee because Scobee could kick when he was in Jacksonville. The player that was in the lineup for the Steelers these past few weeks clearly could not. Scobee missed two crucial field goals against the Ravens, allowing Baltimore time to regain its composure, tie the game, and win it in overtime. There also was Todd Haley’s questionable play calls on two fourth down opportunities in the fourth quarter, a quarterback designed run, which failed miserably, and a pass that Vick threw over the head of Antonio Brown. In short yardage, handing it to Le’Veon Bell, who ran over the Ravens defense most of the game, was the clear choice and I still remain dumbfounded why the Steelers didn’t take that option.

The Steelers should have beat this team. The Ravens are far worse than I expected them to be this year and you cannot lose to division rivals at home, not in the AFC North. They go on the road to San Diego this week, who is also falling behind my expectations. Melvin Gordon hasn’t been the dynamic player everyone expected and the Chargers defense struggled to hold Cleveland. I still have the Chargers for this game though because of the Steelers poor secondary. It’s definitely a winnable game for Pittsburgh though.

Game of the Week: Seahawks @ Bengals

If you didn’t get a chance to see this game, you missed out big time. Best game of the year thus far.

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2015-2016 NFL Preview: AFC East

AFC EAST

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

GET: CB Bradley Fletcher, LB Brandon Spikes, OLB Jabaal Sheard, RB Travaris Cadet, WR Brandon Gibson, TE Scott Chandler, LB Dekoda Watson, CB Robert McClain

LOSE: CB Darrelle Revis, CB Brandon Browner, DT Vince Wilfork, CB Alfonzo Dennard, RB Shane Vereen, RB Stevan Ridley, CB Kyle Arrington, OLB Akeem Ayers, G Dan Connolly

RE-SIGNS: S Devin McCourty, DE Rob Ninkovich, K Stephen Gostkowski, S Patrick Chung, WR Danny Amendola, DE Alan Branch

DRAFT: 1st round: DT Malcom Brown, Texas     2nd round: S Jordan Richards, Stanford     3rd round: DE Geneo Grissom, Oklahoma     4th round: G Tre Jackson, Florida State     C Shaq Mason, Georgia Tech     5th round: LS Joe Cardona     6th round: OLB Matt Wells, Mississippi State     TE AJ Derby, Arkansas     7th round: CB Darryl Roberts, Marshall     DE Xzavier Dickson, Alabama

SUMMARY: Coming off yet another Super Bowl championship, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick come back to the drawing board to try to lead the New England Patriots to a fifth title. However, the mountain that these two gridiron wizards will have to climb is much higher than it has been in the past.

The offseason for the Patriots was not a good one. Starting corners Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner both departed, as did running backs Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley, along with defensive stronghold Vince Wilfork and corners Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington. Those are just some of the more prominent ones. As a start, the Patriots grabbed CB Bradley Fletcher from Philadelphia, a questionable addition given the corner’s struggles lately but I digress. The Patriots added OLB Jabaal Sheard, which should be a welcome addition to the front seven. The front office also secured deals with DE Rob Ninkovich, S Devin McCourty and K Stephen Gostkowski.

Because of the loss of Revis and Browner, the Pats secondary depth chart looks like a black hole is slowly consuming any talent on the back end not named Devin McCourty, which is a huge problem for a team that is looking to defend their Super Bowl title. However, it is worth noting that with Darrelle Revis, arguably the best corner in the game, and Brandon Browner, who isn’t too shabby himself, and McCourty, who is easily a top-three safety, the Patriots still managed to be a below-average 17th against the pass last year. That’s right, with two top-tier corners and an elite safety, the Patriots secondary was middle-of-the-pack. That is both embarrassing and hopeful for Patriots fans. It means the unit can’t get much worse and that clearly the need for such talent wasn’t a must for the franchise. The team can have an effective secondary with average middlemen filling the holes. Should it still be a concern? Absolutely. Would I be losing my mind over it? No.

It’s also worth noting the Patriots’ awful run game. The leading rusher for the Pats last year was Jonas Gray with 412 yards. That’s laughably pathetic and yet makes it all the more remarkable that a one-dimensional team won the Super Bowl, which brings us to the bright side of the coin.

Only a quarterback as splendid and inspiring as Tom Brady could dissect the best defense in professional football on the biggest stage with so few opportunities and so much pressure. With yet another top-ten season, Tom Brady will look to captain the Patriots’ aerial threat with last season’s top tight end Rob Gronkowski and the always dependable Julian Edelman.

The front seven is one of the best in the league, with Chandler Jones and Ninkovich on the ends. If the linebackers stay healthy, you have Jamie Collins, Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower. That’s a scary trio to look at when you take the field.

When Brady leads this team, the Patriots find a way to get it done. Brady should enjoy tearing apart the weak defenses of the NFC East and AFC South this season in what I think is a welcoming schedule for the champs, and while an established running game would be nice, I don’t see it as a necessity for success. The Patriots are the Patriots and when two of your competing quarterbacks in the division are undetermined, well, that only makes your job a whole lot easier.

Honestly, the AFC East’s inability to create a football team is part of the reason the Patriots are so dominant. Will the Dolphins give them a run for their money again, as they have for the last two years? Yes. Will they surpass them? No. You don’t mess with the champs and I don’t see the Pats losing their division title.

With that said, I don’t see them going too far in the playoffs. I’d be amazed and astonished if Brady dismantles defenses like Fischer Price toy sets and is able to counteract the poor play of his defense that is sure to happen  at one point or another. I have no confidence in Bradley Fletcher as a starting corner, let alone a playoff one, and Devin McCourty, as great as he is, can’t cover the whole field by himself. The Patriots had a great draft, focusing on defensive line assets, but I’m surprised they didn’t draft a corner early to aid this limited crew. It was more of a need and the most pressing one. Regardless, don’t underestimate Brady and Belichick. I’m confident they still have some tricks up their sleeve and I wouldn’t be surprised if they hoodwinked us all one last time.

As for fantasy, Brady, Edelman, Gronk and the Patriots’ D/ST are all great picks. Avoid anyone involved with the running game.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 11-5

Week 1: vs. PIT   Week 2: @BUF   Week 3: vs. JAC   Week 4: BYE   Week 5: @DAL   Week 6: @IND   Week 7: vs. NYJ   Week 8: vs. MIA   Week 9: vs. WAS   Week 10: @NYG   Week 11: vs. BUF   Week 12: @DEN   Week 13: vs. PHI   Week 14: @HOU   Week 15: vs. TEN   Week 16: @NYJ   Week 17: @MIA

 

NEW YORK JETS

GET: CB Antonio Cromartie, Darrelle Revis, CB Buster Skrine, WR Brandon Marshall, S Marcus Gilchrist, LB Jamari Lattimore, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, LB Erin Henderson, OT James Brewer, G James Carpenter, RB Stevan Ridley

LOSE: S Dawan Landry, CB Kyle Wilson, WR Greg Salas, QB Michael Vick, FB John Conner, WR Percy Harvin

RE-SIGNS: OL Willie Colon, LB David Harris, DE Leger Douzable,

DRAFT: 1st round: DE Leonard Williams, USC     2nd round: WR Devin Smith, Ohio State     OLB Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville     4th round: QB Bryce Petty, Baylor     5th round: G Jarvis Harrison, Texas A&M     7th round: DT Deon Simon, Northwestern State

SUMMARY: I hate the New York Jets, but what an offseason they had. Easily the best offseason in the NFL this summer, the New York Jets are a completely different ball club. Brandon Marshall, if he’s healthy from his rib injury last year, is a huge addition. The offensive line is more than capable with Ferguson, Mangold and Colon. It’s on the defensive side of the ball that my eyes nearly jump out of my head. Muhammad Wilkerson, Leonard Williams, Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison on the defensive line. Just nasty. David Harris is an above-average linebacker and the secondary is brand new. Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie have both returned to the Big Apple as has Cleveland star Buster Skrine. Todd Bowles is like a kid in the candy store.

This secondary could be great without a pass rush but with the pass rush the Jets are sure to put up? They could be elite, a one-year rags-to-riches story. I hate the Jets, but if they could pull that off, you’d have to respect that.

Geno Smith’s absence will probably be a plus for the team since Ryan Fitzpatrick is a far more accomplished quarterback, but it’s still a question mark for this team. I have the Jets in the two spot right now because if they are who I think they are, they can pass up the Dolphins, grab a wild-card spot, and make a postseason run.

Chris Ivory and the Jets defense are both hot picks this year.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 9-7

Week 1: vs. CLE   Week 2: @IND   Week 3: vs. PHI   Week 4: @MIA   Week 5: BYE   Week 6: vs. WAS   Week 7: @NE   Week 8: @OAK   Week 9: vs. JAC   Week 10: vs. BUF   Week 11: @HOU   Week 12: vs. MIA   Week 13: @NYG   Week 14: vs. TEN   Week 15: @DAL   Week 16: vs. NE   Week 17: @BUF

MIAMI DOLPHINS

GET: DT Ndamukong Suh, TE Jordan Cameron, WR Kenny Stills, CB Brice McCain, WR Greg Jennings, OLB Spencer Paysinger, OT Jeffrey Linkenbach

LOSE: DT Randy Starks, DT Jared Odrick, WR Mike Wallace, TE Charles Clay, RB Knowshon Moreno, LB Dannell Ellerbe, C Samson Satele, G Shelley Smith, WR Brian Hartline, WR Brandon Gibson, CB Cortland Finnegan, LB Philip Wheeler

RE-SIGN: QB Ryan Tannehill, OL Mike Pouncey, S Louis Delmas, OL Jason Fox, QB Matt Moore

DRAFT: 1st round: WR DeVante Parker, Louisville     2nd round: DT Jordan Phillips, Oklahoma     4th round: G Jamil Douglas, Arizona State     5th round: CB Bobby McCain, Memphis     RB Jay Ajayi, Boise State     S Ced Thompson, Minnesota     WR Tony Lippett, Michigan State

SUMMARY: Tannehill had a career year in 2014, finishing with the league’s fifth-highest completion percentage (66.4) and just outside the top ten in passing yards with 4,045.

Lamar Miller, who was a question mark the last two years, also had a career year in ’14, rushing for 1,099 and averaging 5.1 yards a clip, the second-highest among running backs behind Justin Forsett’s 5.4.

At receiver, the Fins upgraded, trading away Mike Wallace’s overbloated contract and releasing the aging Brian Hartline. They traded for the explosive Kenny Stills to start at the one spot and Greg Jennings and Jarvis Landry on the outside and in the slot, respectively. Rishard Matthews as a fourth receiver is more than satisfactory and they’re all set there.

But wait! For some reason, the Miami Dolphins need to use their first-round pick on a receiver! Why? Who knows?! Honestly, it was probably my least favorite pick in the draft, that or the Colts taking Phillip Dorsett. This team’s need for offensive line and linebacker is dire but they skipped both of these needs for yet another receiver. Koa Misi is struggling to hold the linebacking core together, illustrated by the team finishing 24th against the rush last year. The secondary is superb with Brent Grimes as their number one corner and Reshad Jones at safety. They were sixth against the pass last year.

If Tannehill and Miller are as successful as they were last year and Misi has an All-Pro season, the Fins will be looking at a division title. However, the offensive line still has questions and Misi is only one guy. With that said, a wild card spot is more than feasible. To do so, they’ll have to pass the Jets. If the Fins can’t, they’ll have to looked at the missed opportunity of last year when they choked down the stretch.

Tannehill and Miller are sure starters, Jarvis Landry should be one of the best slot receivers in the league this year and I’d take a gamble on Stills as a fifth receiver option purely for his deep threat ability. The Fins have a great defensive line, so investing in their defense wouldn’t be a bad pickup either.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 8-8

Week 1: @WAS   Week 2: @JAC   Week 3: vs. BUF   Week 4: vs. NYJ   Week 5: BYE   Week 6: @TEN   Week 7: vs. HOU   Week 8: @NE   Week 9: @BUF   Week 10: @PHI   Week 11: vs. DAL   Week 12: @NYJ   Week 13: vs. BAL   Week 14: vs. NYG   Week 15: @SD   Week 16: vs. IND   Week 17: vs. NE

BUFFALO BILLS

GET: RB LeSean McCoy, QB Tyrod Taylor, TE Charles Clay, DE Alex Carrington, FB Jerome Felton, WR Percy Harvin, G Richie Incognito, QB Matt Cassel

LOSE: RB C.J. Spiller, LB Kiko Alonso, LB Brandon Spikes, LB Keith Rivers, S Da’Norris Searcy, QB Kyle Orton, TE Scott Chandler

RE-SIGNS: DT Kyle Williams, DE Jerry Hughes, DE Jarius Wynn, WR Marcus Easley

DRAFT: 2nd round: CB Ronald Darby, Florida State     3rd round: G John Miller, Louisville     5th round: RB Karlos Williams, Florida State     6th round: OLB Tony Steward, Clemson     TE Nick O’Leary, Florida State     7th round: WR Dez Lewis, Central Arkansas

SUMMARY: The Bills made the first big splash this offseason in one of the biggest trades in recent memory, trading one of the league’s best young linebackers, Kiko Alonso, to Philadelphia for one of the league’s best running backs, LeSean McCoy. For a few days, Philadelphia fans were fuming over the trade, wondering how many screws had gone loose in Chip Kelly’s head. However, after everyone calmed down and looked at the trade objectively, it was a good trade for both sides. Should the Eagles have gotten more for McCoy, say, a draft pick consideration? Yes, definitely, but the Eagles strengthening a weak defense and the Bills took their offense, that finished 26th in league last year, in a whole new direction. The Bills’ defense was stellar last year without Alonso, finishing third against the pass and 11th against the rush, far better than many expected. They finished 9-7 in the AFC East with Kyle Orton as their quarterback (Yes, Kyle Orton) and just missed the playoffs.

Here’s the thing though. Even with this defense, that is sure to be elite once again after leading the league with 54 sacks last year, I don’t see how the Bills can hold onto second place. The Bills run-blocking last year was ranked 31st by Pro Football Focus, with makes me wonder if bringing in McCoy was the right solution. Percy Harvin is a huge wild card, leaving no serious threat opposite Sammy Watkins. Tyrod Taylor will be starting at quarterback and I think few know what to expect from him. The defensive line for this team is top-three, easily, but they also have a lot of pressure on them also. This secondary, despite last year’s stats, is not top-five. Without that insane pass rush, this secondary would be torn limb from limb. If the Bills defensive line, which is starting to mimic that infamous one in Seattle, maintains the pressure from last year, the Bills could jump out of the cellar. However, it will be very difficult to skip past the Jets, who are a completely different team than they were last year, and the Dolphins, who I doubt will choke like they did last year.

The Bills are not a bad team. They have a ton of potential. The AFC East is just far more competitive than it has been in a long time.

For fantasy, the Bills D is a steal, but given the poor run-blocking from last year, despite some additions, I’m avoiding McCoy.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 7-9

Week 1: vs. IND   Week 2: vs. NE   Week 3: @MIA   Week 4: vs. NYG   Week 5: @TEN   Week 6: vs. CIN   Week 7: @JAC   Week 8: BYE   Week 9: vs. MIA   Week 10: @NYJ   Week 11: @NE   Week 12: @KC   Week 13: vs. HOU   Week 14: @PHI   Week 15: @WAS   Week 16: vs. DAL   Week 17: vs. NYJ

 

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Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Week 11

Top 5

1. Eight RBs had over 100 yards this week, five over 150 and two over 200. Also, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon set the NCAA record for rushing yards in a single game (408), proving the point he’s been trying to make all year: running backs still matter.

2. WR Mike Evans 7 receptions for 209 yards, 2 TDs vs. WAS

Evans (21) is the youngest player ever to have a 200-yard receiving game and the first rookie with seven catches for 100 yards and a TD in three straight games.

3. RB Jonas Gray 37 carries for 201 yards, 4 TDs vs. IND

4. RB Jamaal Charles 20 carries for 159 yards, 2 TDs, Fmb vs. SEA

5. RB Le’Veon Bell 33 carries for 204 yards, TD vs. TEN

Worst of the Worst

1. Steelers’ safety Mike Mitchell goes ballistic on Twitter. I wrote a post about this.

2. RB LeGarrette Blount walks off the field in the middle of the game vs. TEN

3. QB Eli Manning 22/45 for 280 yards, TD, 5 INTs, 36.6 QBR vs. SF

4. QB Robert Griffin III 23/32 for 207 TD, 2 INTs, 73.3 QBR vs. TB

5. NFC South Standings: Atlanta 4-6, New Orleans 4-6, Carolina 3-7, Tampa Bay 2-8

Steelers Recap

Overall, the Steelers’ performance on Monday night was frustrating. The offensive fluidity fans had seen just a few weeks ago was gone. The team looked uncoordinated and unorganized. The fact that the Steelers had to come back to win this game was exactly the opposite of what Steelers nation wanted to see on Monday. They, like myself, wanted to see a dominant win against a struggling team. Instead, the Steelers gave the Titans boatloads of confidence going into their next game, while Tomlin needs to start re-evaluating the team depth chart and playbook. Le’Veon Bell and the offensive line were excellent during the second half but against the Titans front seven I think it’s important not to give them too much credit. The fact that Bell ran for over 200 yards and we still almost lost is pretty sad. This bye week could not be more well-timed. They need a break to recuperate some players but they also need to silent these off-the-field issues immediately. Mitchell’s tirade was a catastrophe on so many levels and I’m very happy they cut Blount almost instantaneously, but his actions need to be a reminder to the whole team that this is a team effort and if you’re not happy with your role, then get off the field.

Game of the Week: Dolphins @ Broncos.

I have the Broncos for this game but the Dolphins are surging and looking like a top-ten team right now. Their defense is excellent as I expected and if it weren’t for the lack of play-makers on offense, this team could probably threaten New England. It’s important Denver get’s back on the right track after dropping two of their last three. Expect a close one and don’t be surprised if an upset occurs.

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2014-2015 NFL Preview: Playoff Picks

First off, if you haven’t gotten a chance to read my division previews, here were my predictions.

AFC North               AFC West               AFC East               AFC South

4 Bengals 10-6        1 Broncos 12-4      3 Patriots 10-6     2 Colts 11-5

6 Steelers 8-8          Chiefs 8-8              5 Dolphins 8-8     Titans 6-10

Ravens 8-8               Chargers 8-8         Jets 6-10               Texans 5-11

Browns 5-11              Raiders 5-11          Bills 5-11                Jaguars 4-12

 

NFC North               NFC West               NFC East               NFC South

3 Packers 11-5         1 Seahawks 13-3    4 Eagles 8-8          2 New Orleans Saints 11-5

5 Bears 10-6            6 49ers 10-6           Redskins 8-8         Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9-7

Lions 6-10               Cardinals 7-9          Cowboys 5-11        Falcons 7-9

Vikings 4-12            Rams 6-10               Giants 3-13           Panthers 6-10

 

Wild Card Round:

4 Bengals vs. 5 Dolphins

The Bengals defense is arguably the best in the AFC which will prove to be a tough match-up for Tannehill and his sub par offensive line. The Dolphins running game was terrible last year and I’m not sure how much of a difference Knowshon Moreno will be able to make. The Dolphins defense is pretty good but I think they’ll struggle to contain A.J. Green and keep their eye on Giovanni Bernard at the same time. It’ll be a low-scoring game, which means you pick defense, and the Bengals have the better one hands down. I’d watch out for the Dolphins though. They have potential.

3 Patriots vs. 6 Steelers

I love my Steelers but this is a tough one. Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and Big Ben are all great players but it’s hard to see them bettering the Patriots. The Patriots might be thin on receivers and runningback but their defense is top-notch and probably the only one that can be argued to be better than the Bengals. There are so many big names on this defense from Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, Jerod Mayo, and Dont’a Hightower to Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Devin McCourty. Defensively, the Steelers can’t match up with a battered Polamalu, declining Ike Taylor and young Lawrence Timmons. Unless the Steelers manage to play their best game of the season on the day they play the Patriots, I got to go with Tom Brady’s Pats.

4 Eagles vs. 5 Bears

This one is a serious toss-up because neither team has a very good defense and both are offensive-minded. I’ll take Cutler over Foles this year, but McCoy over Forte, leaving me to debate the receiving cores, which isn’t much of a debate at all. Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey and Martellus Bennett vs. Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper and Zach Ertz. Do I have to answer that? Taking that into consideration, the Bears also have some veteran linebackers and two of the best corners in Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, so I got to take the Bears in an upset.

3 Packers vs. 6 49ers

This match-up has come to the board in two of my last three playoff predictions. Both times I took the 49ers. Both times I was right. The Packers have a great offensive scheme with Rodgers, Lacy, Nelson and Cobb, there’s no doubting that. However, if you watched the Thursday night game between the Packers and Seahawks, it was disgusting. The Seahawks dominated in every facet. McCarthy couldn’t get Lacy into a groove and after the first half, Rodgers lost sync with his targets. I was reminded how bad the Packers defense is. They were really bad. QB Russell Wilson didn’t have to make any big plays. He just had to throw it to the open receiver seven yards down the field and let them run through the open field again…and again….and again. I don’t know who the defensive coordinator is for the Packers and I don’t feel like looking it up right now, but he’s terrible and so’s this defense. The 49ers have bigger chinks in the armor than before but they have all the offensive weapons they need to dismantle this one-layer defense.

Divisional Round:

1 Broncos vs. 4 Bengals

This is super tough. As I said earlier, the Bengals have arguably the best AFC defense. The Broncos have the best offense in the league. Peyton Manning’s better than Dalton, but I’ll take the Bengals backfield, leaving us with Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Wes Welker vs. A.J. Green. Not very fair is it? What really pisses me off is that the Bengals are one step away from being the best. If only they would draft a receiver in the first round. Until they do, I got to take the Broncos in a close one.

2 Colts vs. 3 Patriots

The Colts got the two-seed because of a weak schedule and an even weaker division but that doesn’t mean they should be underestimated. Andrew Luck’s limited his mistakes and Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton are fantastic. The defense receives a lot of hate it doesn’t deserve because stats say they’re a top ten defense. Trent Richardson needs to prove he can produce when it matters. Tom Brady has been to the playoffs many times before but I think this Colts team can do it. I’m not as high on Stevan Ridley as I used to be and the receiving core for Brady is going to end up being the deciding factor in this one and I don’t think they’re up to the task. The Patriots D will be rock-hard, but Andrew Luck will find the will and the luck to win.

1 Seahawks vs. 5 Bears

The Seahawks defense is record-setting. The Bears offense could be record-setting. It depends on if Jay Cutler decides to play this year. If the offensive line can provide Forte the alleys they provided him last year, the Bears could pull the upset. The Seahawks defense is fantastic but the offense is weak. As great as they were on Thursday against Green Bay, that was Green Bay. When they are truly tested, how will the Seahawks offense fair? Against the Saints in last year’s divisional round, QB Russell Wilson threw for just 103 yards. All the offense was Marshawn Lynch and while he’s one of the best runningbacks in the league, he’s still only one man and one man can only do so much. See Adrian Peterson. With all that said, I think the Bears will come up short but reveal the Seahawks may not be as perfect as we think.

2 Saints vs. 6 49ers

The Saints defense is thousands of times better than it used to be, which is why the Saints should be able to grab the two-seed this year. However, the running game and receiving depth are problems and those are even bigger problems when your team can get too comfortable being offense-based. The 49ers have one of the best aerial squads in the league and if Colin Kaepernick can be a middle-of-the-road quarterback, this team should find tons of success. Frank Gore is still trucking as is this offensive line and the defense has some bruises and injuries to deal with but I think they will find a way to overcome them whereas the Saints will collapse when they can’t get the ball to Jimmy Graham. Relying too much on one man will do that to you as you advance in the playoffs and I think that’s what will happen here.

Conference Round:

1 Broncos vs. 2 Colts

The Broncos put everything they had into making a Super Bowl team. Veteran defensemen were brought in to replace youthful inexperience. The price tag wasn’t a question and that’s because the end of Peyton Manning career’s coming to a close. He’s probably got two years left, maybe three. Based off last year’s performance, he might be able to go even longer but I think deep down he might be tired. Moving on, I complained that the Bengals, had they had another aerial threat, would have made it here over the Broncos. You know who has more than one aerial threat? The Colts. Do you know who has a top ten defense? The Colts. Do you know who’s lucky? Andrew Luck. You know who’s going to win? The Colts in probably the best game of the year.

1 Seahawks vs. 6 49ers

The Seahawks offense worries me but Kaepernick’s indecision, rookie mistakes, and the defense’s wound wrappings worry me more. With the 12th man at their side, the Seahawks overpower the older version of themselves and assert themselves once again as the NFC’s best.

Super Bowl XLIX

2 Colts vs. 1 Seahawks

Taking the Colts over the Broncos is a gutsy call. The Broncos could easily see themselves in a rematch with Seattle but I hate picking rematches because very rarely do they happen. Luck will be tested more than he’s ever been tested before. If Trent Richardson gets stuck in the mud, he’ll have to face the Seahawk secondary a lot. He’ll have to be precise and overly cautious but not so cautious that he fails to act when he should. That balance of composure and controlled action must be found. I know reading that I’m even contemplating picking the Colts over the Seahawks is lunacy, but keep in mind a couple of things. This is the same team that beat the 49ers, Seahawks and Broncos in five weeks. This team doesn’t quit. If you watched last year’s Super Bowl, you know the Broncos quit on themselves. They got beat down and they stayed down in front of millions of onlookers who had waited all year to see this game. The Colts don’t quit. They were losing by 28 points in the third quarter of last year’s playoff game with Kansas City and they came back and won when no one believed it was possible, including me. Luck, as a leader, showed some real heart, some dedicated passion and an unbending resolve and in turn, so did his team. This is what I think we’ll see on Super Bowl Sunday. The Seahawks will jump ahead early. Luck will rally the troops, deliver a speech that we all in the audience wish we could hear, and he will make us believe in young underdogs again. He will tear down the era of Peyton and become the Colts’ Aaron Rodgers. No one could replicate Brett Favre, said everyone. Everyone but Aaron Rodgers. Any Luck doubters will, if not like Luck, at least respect him by the end of this game if it goes the way I visualize.

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