Tag Archives: Peyton Manning

One Team, One Jersey: Baltimore Ravens

With the beginning of a new year comes the beginning of a new series. I’ve spent hundreds of hours (not an exaggeration) enthralled in game film sessions, reading player profiles, scrounging through stat sheets and scanning the histories of all the NFL franchises. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Welcome to One Team, One Jersey.

As a jersey collector and connoisseur, I am constantly expanding my repertoire and so I thought I should probably expand my search to all the teams of pro football. Buying every jersey I want would be too expensive though. Picking one for each team is reasonable and so became the idea that is One Team, One Jersey.

If you could only have one jersey from each NFL team, who would it be? There are a few ground rules:

The player you choose must have played for that team more than any other AND must have been on that team’s roster during the 2017 season.

Aside from that, it’s up to you what you prioritize: character, statistical production, championships, a combination of the three. Your call.

Who will you choose?

The NFL was introduced to the Baltimore Ravens in 1996 when Art Modell decided to move the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore. All Browns records and their history was left behind in Cleveland and the Ravens were considered an expansion team. With that categorization, the Ravens became one of the most successful expansion teams in sports history. Their first ever draft picks were left tackle Jonathan Ogden and linebacker Ray Lewis. The two Hall of Famers had 24 Pro Bowl seasons combined, giving Baltimore the framework from the beginning of a contender.

Since the Ravens’ induction into the NFL, Baltimore has won two Super Bowls and 15 playoff games. It takes some expansions teams five or six years just to be competitive. Baltimore has achieved these heights in 22 seasons. They may be one of the younger franchises in the league, but Baltimore has come to play more often than not and their youth has put a chip on the team’s shoulder, the type of motor that attracts fans.

It was difficult to pick a jersey for Cincinnati and Cleveland. There are plenty of options in the stronghold of Maryland.

For example, it would be unfair to make this list and not include Marshall Yanda, who made six consecutive Pro Bowls beginning in 2011. He was named the top guard by Pro Football Focus in ’14, ’15 and ’16. If that doesn’t demonstrate how dominate he’s been in the trenches, I’m not sure what does.

The team is lacking on offense, but a 2008 first-rounder from Delaware is still behind center. Joe Flacco had one of the greatest playoff runs in NFL history in 2012, tying Montana’s record with 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions in the same postseason. He’s played in some rather large postseason contests. He’s gathered playoff victories on the road.

The argument goes, and I believe it to be the right one, that many of those playoff victories came on the back of an elite defense, not on the shoulder of a quarterback named Joe. He’s made big throws in big moments, but the Ravens did not beat the Patriots because Flacco outdueled Brady.

In his ten-year career, Flacco has thrown for 25 touchdowns only twice and broached the 4,000 yard plateau once. He’s the best quarterback Baltimore has ever had and that earns him sentimentality points and a spot in Ravens lore, but in actuality, he was never elite, nor extraordinary. Not the type of player you buy a jersey for.

For years, he’s been one of the game’s most overrated signal callers and one historic postseason doesn’t diminish that argument the same way Josh Gordon leading the league in receiving yards doesn’t mean he’s an otherworldly talent. Success is temporary and professional athletes are expected to reach it from time to time. Those who reach it regularly are elite and they reach these heights on their own merits. Brady never won MVPs because his defense was top-five. Peyton didn’t set passing records because Ray Lewis was phenomenal at playing middle linebacker. Joe Flacco isn’t in the same realm as these two legends and you can argue it if you want, but he’s not. He’s had a passer rating above 90 twice. He’s serviceable for the most part, although these past three seasons have been difficult to watch considering his Zeppelin of a contract. Ten years after his career is over, Ravens fans will remember the name with pride but football fans will remember the Mile High Miracle and the 2012 Super Bowl and think of that one great year he had. There’s a reason that’s the case.

Besides, Baltimore has always been known for its staunch defense and so it only feels right to pick a player on that side of the field.

Brandon Williams is quite the presence at defensive tackle.

CJ Mosley has proven to be a fine successor to new HOFer Ray Lewis in the middle, making three Pro Bowl rosters.

Jimmy Smith has been close to a top-ten corner for a majority of his career. He’s not quite a tier one star, but is a reliable player that can go one-v-one against most receivers.

There’s still one big name we haven’t mentioned, one of the most dominant edge rushers of the last 20 years.

There were three elite players on the Ravens’ defenses of the 2000s: Ed Reed, Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs. In my eyes, Suggs should be in the Hall. He played with a ferocity and aggression that personified the Ravens grit and tenacity and plays with that same motor today.

Suggs is one of only 37 players to win Defensive Player of the Year, a true honor for a terrorizing player. He also holds the Ravens franchise records for sacks (125.5) and forced fumbles (29) by wide margins. Those 125.5 sacks put him 17th on the all-time quarterback takedown list.

He was unanimously named Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2003 after setting a franchise rookie record with 12 sacks. He’s a seven-time Pro Bowler and a Super Bowl champion.

Routinely voted as one of the most hated players in the NFL, Suggs also carries the charisma of a performer, often putting opponents on edge with sack dances. Maybe he’s dirty, maybe he’s passionate. Maybe he just shows no mercy. Whatever it is, ain’t no one ever doubt his effort or his compete level. No one looks forward to playing that guy. That hostility, that grit, personifies the Ravens.

My pick: Terrell Suggs. My jersey: Home Purple.

Image result for terrell suggs home jersey free use


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Tim Sports Report for 2015 NFL Week 6

Top 5

  1. QB Andy Dalton 22/33 for 243 yards, 3 TDs, 118.6 passer rating vs. BUF

2. QB Philip Rivers 43/65 for 503 yards, 2 TDs, 99.7 passer rating vs. GB

3. WR John Brown 10 receptions for 196 yards, fumble vs. PIT

4. WR Keenan Allen 14 receptions for 157 yards vs. GB

5. RB Chris Ivory 20 carries for 146 yards, TD vs. WAS

Worst of the Worst

5. Cardinals get upset by Steelers with backup quarterback, turnover ball three times against Steelers defense

4. QB Sam Bradford 24/38 for 280 yards, TD, 3 INTs, 61.3 passer rating vs. NYG

3. Seahawks blow fourth quarter lead for second straight week

2. QB Marcus Mariota 21/33 for 219 yards, TD, 2 INTs, 2 Fmbs, 67.6 passer rating vs. MIA

  1. QB Peyton Manning 26/48 for 290 yards, TD, 3 INTs, 53.3 passer rating vs. CLE

Steelers Recap

The Steelers lost a game they should have won when they played the Chiefs weeks ago, but the game didn’t cause any worries in me. Prior to their loss to the Chiefs, the Steelers defense had beaten arguably two top-ten quarterbacks in Philip Rivers and Carson Palmer and the Steelers won those two games with Michael Vick and Landry Jones in at quarterback. So when the Steelers lose a game they shouldn’t lose after winning two games I didn’t think they’d win, especially against Arizona, I’m a happy man.

Game of the Week: Jets @ Patriots

The Jets gave the Patriots their first tough test of the season. The Patriots still own the AFC East, but the rest of the division is coming back to life.

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Tim Sports Report for 2015 NFL Week 5

Top 5

  1. Cincinnati vs. Seattle game

2. QB Andy Dalton 30/44 for 331 yards, 2 TDs, INT, 95.9 passer rating, 7 rushes for 18 yards, TD vs. SEA

3. RB Thomas Rawls 23 for 169 yards, TD vs. CIN

4. RB Doug Martin 24 carries for 123 yards, 2 TDs, 3 receptions for 35 yards, TD vs. JAC

5. RB Devonta Freeman 27 carries for 153 yards, TD vs. WAS

Worst of the Worst

5. QB Matt Ryan 24/42 for 254 yards, 2 INTs, Fmb, 55.1 passer rating vs. WAS

4. QB Matt Stafford 20/32 for 188 yards, TD, 3 INTs, 50.0 passer rating vs. ARI

3. Seahawks blow 17-point 4th quarter lead vs. CIN. According to Trey Wingo, teams had lost 427 straight games when down at least 17 in the fourth quarter.

2. QB Peyton Manning 22/35 for 266 yards, 2 INTs, 62.3 passer rating vs. OAK

  1. QB Nick Foles 11/30 for 141 yards, TD, 4 INTs, 23.7 passer rating vs. GB

Steelers Recap

The Steelers vs. Chargers game showed us one thing: Le’Veon Bell is the man. Yes, it showed us that Michael Vick needs to retire, that the Steelers offense is nowhere close to the same without Ben and that the defense has been great when all’s said and done, but when you need someone to turn to, Bell should be the go-to guy. A huge win over one of the better quarterbacks in the league, although a depleted Chargers o-line helped a lot.

Game of the Week: Panthers @ Seahawks

This is the game proved which team was for real.

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The Patriot in All of Us

*Originally posted on SportsTalkFeed

If there is one thing that everyone can appreciate, it’s an underdog. It is easy to stand up for the little guy, the guy who wasn’t given a shot until now because he was too small or too poor or didn’t go to a big school. We relate because we, the everyday people who keep the cogs of this country and its businesses moving, know what it is like to face such adversity and yet we would still sell everything we had to be in the same position as them. Proving someone wrong is one of the most exhilarating and relieving moments of one’s life. Doing it on national television? Doesn’t get any better than that.

Tom Brady was drafted with the 199th pick in the sixth round of the 2000 draft. Only two Hall of Fame quarterbacks were drafted later, Bart Starr with the 200th pick in the 1956 draft and Warren Moon, who went undrafted in 1978.

In his second season, his first in which he regularly started, Brady made it to the Super Bowl against the St. Louis Rams. The Rams sported the last three league MVPs and remain the only team to win three consecutive league MVPs with more than one player (Kurt Warner 1999, Marshall Faulk 2000, Warner 2001). The Rams were 14-point favorites.

With 1:21 left and no timeouts, Brady and the Patriots drove from their own 17 to the Rams 31. With seven seconds left, Adam Vinatieri kicked the game winning-field goal and the Patriots pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history.

Brady did all this in his first real season, becoming the third quarterback to reach a Super Bowl in his first or second season and second to win it at the time. I still remember watching this game. It was the first Super Bowl I watched (I was 7) and it was certainly one to remember.

15 years later, Tom Brady will be 38 years old entering his 16th season.

For most of his career, I hated Brady. I rooted for him to pull the upset and I rooted for him to beat the Panthers. He was the perfect underdog story but it was there that I began to root against him. I didn’t want to see a dynasty. I didn’t want any dynasty unless it was the Pittsburgh Steelers. As a Steelers fan, you are expected to hate the Patriots and Tom Brady. I gave into that hate for a while. I was young and didn’t appreciate the greatness that Brady has given us.

People will talk about how great Peyton Manning is. Peyton is an NFL icon and has set plenty of records, but it is worth noting his playoff struggles. When you consider he had Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and Edgerrin James as well as one of the best offensive lines in football for many years and managed one turnover-laden Super Bowl victory out of it, well, that’s very disappointing. It is also worth noting that Brady was never given such talent. Brady had Deion Branch, Wes Welker, Randy Moss for a short stint and now he’s playing with Julian Edelman. Hardly a comparison to what Peyton has had during his career. Peyton has had a better assembly of talent around him. Look at what Peyton has had to accompany him in Denver these last few years. Brady is throwing to a former quarterback from Kent State.

Edelman is a top-tier receiver right now, don’t get me wrong, but Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders against Edelman and injury-prone Danny Amendola? Not even a contest.

For me, that is why Tom Brady will always be a better quarterback than Peyton Manning. This is not a bash against Peyton in any way. Peyton’s work ethic and attention to detail is unparalleled and his miraculous feats innumerable, but Peyton has never been the clutch player that Brady has been, especially in the playoffs. Brady’s prevailing quality during his tenure in New England is clutch and with far fewer tools to work with.

Only four times during Brady’s career in New England has a Patriot running back broke the 1,000 yard barrier, a barrier equitable to a pillow cushion. To break 1,000 yards in a season, a running back has to gain 62.5 yards a game, a modest total. Only four times has that happened, all with different backs (’01 Antowain Smith-1157, ’04 Corey Dillon-1635, ’10 BenJarvus Green-Ellis-1008, ’12 Stevan Ridley-1263)

The Patriots depth at receiver, particularly in later years, has also been a cause for concern, but Brady has never struggled. Minus his first year as starter, Brady has never thrown for under 3,500 yards in a season and never had his yards per pass fall below 6.2. If you exclude the 2002 season, it’s never fallen below 6.84. He’s thrown for over 4,000 yards for four consecutive years. Including his first year as starter, he’s never had a completion percentage below 60.

With those statistics, you may find it surprising that only ten receivers have broken the 1,000 yard mark with Brady, including none between 2002-2006. For four of those years, the Patriots didn’t have a 1,000 yard rusher either. Fun fact: the Patriots won the Super Bowl in 2004 and 2005.

Yes, the Patriots won the Super Bowl in back-to-back years with Tom Brady throwing to David Givens, Deion Branch and David Patten. Peyton Manning was throwing to future Hall of Famers Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. Let’s not forget about Dallas Clark and Brandon Stokley or Edgerrin James, who had 1,259 and 1,548 rushing yards in those two years. Which team won the Super Bowl again?

Looking at Brady’s introduction on Wikipedia is almost hilarious:

13 full seasons as a starter, three SB MVPs, two league MVPS (’07, ’10), ten Pro Bowls; led the Patriots to more division titles than any other quarterback in NFL history (12), fifth on all-time passing and career touchdown list.

Tied for most playoff games in a career with Rice, holds record for most playoff wins (21), record for longest consecutive win streak with 21 over two seasons, most consecutive playoff wins with 10, first undefeated regular season since 16-game schedule began, more passing yards and touchdowns than any quarterback in postseason history, sixth highest passer rating of all time (95.9).

Brady and Montana are the only two players in NFL history to win the NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP multiple times. Only quarterback to lead his team to six Super Bowls and holds records for most Super Bowl touchdown passes. First quarterback to throw for 50 or more touchdowns in a season. NFL record for consecutive passes without an interception (358), highest season touchdown/interception ratio among players who’ve started a full season (9:1)

Brady and Belichick form the most successful quarterback-coach tandem in NFL history, winning 160 regular season games, 21 postseason games, and appearing in six Super Bowls, all NFL records.

As much as it hurts me to say as a Peyton fan, Peyton holds individual records. Brady holds the records that matter. Brady has done what has been asked of him, developing new receiver after new receiver from Welker and Gronk, to Brandon Lloyd, Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins, to Brandon LaFell and Shane Vereen.

Peyton Manning has played with a top-ten receiver every year of his career if you remove his rookie year. He has played with 22 top-twenty receivers, 17 top-ten receivers and 12 top-five receivers.

Tom Brady has played with nine top-twenty receivers, five top-ten receivers and two top-five receivers.

22, 17 and 12. 9, 5, and 2.

With less, Brady has done more. That is the sphere at the center of Brady’s legacy. For Brady, it’s always the same goal but the tools he’s been given have always been changing. Not once do I recall him complaining about his supporting cast. Not once has he complained about his contract. He’s taken pay cuts willingly. Not once do I recall him lashing out at the public for the unfair perception of him. Not once.

Tom Brady understands humility. He understands what it means to carry a team for not just a game or two, or a season, but for every year of his career and his knee has blown out only once.

Terry Bradshaw had Franco Harris, Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. Joe Montana had Roger Craig and Jerry Rice. Troy Aikman had Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. Tom Brady had Deion Branch. Wes Welker was there for a while, but they never won a Super Bowl together.

Tom Brady’s best teammate has been himself. The greatest dynasties are built on believing in your teammates. Even greater ones have been built by believing in no one but yourself (please see, Michael Jordan). Brady has done that to an absurd proportion and for that, he deserves respect.

There is nothing wrong with rooting against Brady. I still find myself doing that from time to time and don’t get me wrong, I loved the Giants destroying the Patriots’ hope of a perfect season in the Super Bowl, but there is something wrong with hating the man who has better exemplified NFL excellence than any player in the 21st century. No single individual in any sport has brought a dynasty to a city whose prior teams were lucky to eat the scraps off the floor. Not even LeBron James has accomplished that. No team has relied on an individual more heavily and yet still found success on the biggest stages. Again, no LeBron here.

And so, I mock those who say that Brady is a cheater for SpyGate, to my understanding a practice that was not legally against the rules until after the fact, or for those who point to DeflateGate, an investigation that blatantly said, “We have no concrete evidence” and is somehow justified to deliver punishment regardless.

If we’re pointing to tarnished legacies, let’s look at Drew Brees and Bountygate, a Super Bowl run that encouraged opponent disfiguration and mutilation. Do not for one second tell me that he did not know what was going on in the huddles of his teammates or what was coming out of the mouths of his coaches. Yet NFL fans have not blinked an eye over the toxicity and vileness that covers that Lombardi. No, instead, let’s look at the second-greatest quarterback of all-time and defame him for decimals of air pressure. How dare you.

In the words of Taylor Swift, “haters gonna hate”. No one says you have to root for Brady, but if you consider yourself a football fan, no, a sports fan, then you had better damn respect him because there has been no greater athlete in the 21st century than Tom Brady and to hate Brady is to hate all that we hold dear: the love of the game, the heart of the game and the underdog within us all. The Patriot in all of us.

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Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Week 17

Top 5

1. QB Geno Smith 20/25 for 358 yards, 3 TDs, Fmb, 158.3 QBR vs. MIA

2. WR Eric Decker 10 receptions for 221 yards, TD vs. MIA

3. RB Lamar Miller 19 carries for 178 yards, TD vs. NYJ

4. WR Michael Floyd 8 receptions for 153 yards, 2 TDs vs. SF

5. RB Frank Gore 25 carries for 144 yards vs. ARI

Worst of the Worst

1. Peyton Manning caused a lot of people to lose in the fantasy playoffs, including me. His last few games have been truly dreadful, so dreadful that I would not be surprised if the Broncos are upset in the playoffs. Here are some stats to think about:

In Dec: 77/121 for 990 yards, 63.6% completion, 3 TDs, 6 INTs, 76.8 QBR.

In losses: 127/204 for 1,441 yards, 62.3% completion, 7 TDs, 9 INTs, 76.4 QBR.

There is a strong correlation between those two stat lines. Just something to think about if you decide to bet on the Broncos.

2. Bucs drop 20-7 halftime lead vs. NO, grab number one pick in draft

3. QB Drew Brees 24/38 for 281 yards, TD, 3 INTs, 61.4 QBR vs. TB

4. QB Philip Rivers 20/34 for 291 yards, 2 INTs, 7 sacks, Fmb, 62.3 QBR

5. Eagles block Giants punt, Giants return for 73-yard TD, called back for holding

To conclude the NFL regular season, here’s the top five performers from each of the main stat categories.


1. Drew Brees, NO: 4,952

1. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT: 4,952

3. Andrew Luck, IND: 4,761

4. Peyton Manning, DEN: 4,727

5. Matt Ryan, ATL: 4,694


1. DeMarco Murray, DAL: 1,845

2. Le’Veon Bell, PIT: 1,361

3. LeSean McCoy, PHI: 1,319

4. Marshawn Lynch, SEA: 1,306

5. Justin Forsett, BAL: 1,266


1. Antonio Brown, PIT: 1,698

2. Demaryius Thomas, DEN: 1,619

3. Julio Jones, ATL: 1,593

4. Jordy Nelson, GB: 1,519

5. Emmanuel Sanders, DEN: 1,404


1. Luke Kuechly, CAR: 153

2. DeAndre Levy, DET: 151

3. Lavonte David, TB: 146

4. Curtis Lofton, NO: 145

5. Paul Worrilow, ATL: 143


1. Justin Houston, KC: 22.0

2. J.J. Watt, HOU: 20.5

3. Elvis Dumervil, BAL: 17.0

4. Connor Barwin, PHI: 14.5

4. Mario Williams, BUF: 14.5


1. Glover Quin, DET: 7

2. Tashaun Gipson, CLE: 6

3. Harrison Smith, MIN: 5

3. Brent Grimes, MIA: 5

3. Bruce Carter, DAL: 5

Next, how my division previews matched up with this season’s results. Some were on point (Broncos 12-4, Dolphins 8-8, Colts 11-5, Rams 6-10) and some, I don’t know what I was thinking (Titans 6-10, Bears 10-6, Redskins 8-8, Buccaneers 9-7).

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 5-1          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 Saints 11-5

5 Bears 10-6        6 49ers 10-6         Redskins 8-8   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

Here’s what they were:

AFC North            AFC West                AFC East             AFC South

3 Steelers 11-5     2 Broncos 12-4      1 Patriots 12-4     4 Colts 11-5

5 Bengals 10-5-1     Chiefs 9-7            Bills 9-7                Texans 9-7

6 Ravens 10-6         Chargers 9-7        Dolphins 8-8       Jaguars 3-13

Browns 7-9              Raiders 3-13        Jets 4-12               Titans 2-14

NFC North           NFC West                 NFC East             NFC South

2 Packers 12-4     1 Seahawks 12-4     3 Cowboys 12-4   4 Panthers 7-8-1

6 Lions 11-5          5 Cardinals 11-5      Eagles 10-6           Saints 7-9

Vikings 7-9           49ers 8-8                 Giants 6-10            Falcons 6-10

Redskins 4-12      Rams 6-10               Redskins 4-12       Bucs 2-14

Finally, my predictions for the wild-card round.

5 Cardinals (11-5) @ 4 (7-8-1) Panthers

The Arizona Cardinals, despite their injury-riddled quarterback position, managed a 11-5 record. Since Palmer’s season-ending injury in week 10, the team went 3-4, including 0-2 under third-stringer Ryan Lindley. The Cardinals have not scored 20 points since losing Palmer and their rushing attack has dwindled after losing running back Andre Ellington. Their secondary, which highlights Antonio Cromartie and Patrick Peterson, has been awful, allowing 260 yards in the air (29th).

On the other side, Ron Rivera saved his job. After losing six consecutive games and dropping to 3-8-1, the Panthers won their final four games to clinch the NFC South title. Cam Newton’s inconsistency as well the Panthers lack of depth at receiver plagued the team about as much as I thought it would and it’s important to note the last four wins came against struggling teams.

Despite the Cardinals lackluster aerial coverage, the Panthers weak receiving core that relies far too heavily on rookie Kelvin Benjamin and tight end Greg Olsen most likely won’t be able to take advantage. It’s the Panthers 7th-best rushing attack versus the Cardinals 13th-ranked defensive front. I’m simply not willing to put my faith in Cam Newton and I think Arians will coach his team to victory.

6 Ravens (10-6) @ 3 Steelers (11-5)

The Ravens have not been themselves as of late and nearly missed the wild-card spot. The Steelers, on the other hand, truly dazzled. Ben Roethlisberger had the best statistcal year of his career, Antonio Brown led the league in receptions and total receiving yards and Le’Veon Bell turned the Steelers rushing attack into a real threat after being towards the bottom last year. However, Le’Veon Bell injured his knee in the team’s season finale and will miss today’s game. Despite that, Flacco’s poor play in December and Justin Forsett’s apparent disappearance make me believe the Steelers will pull out the win.

5 Bengals (10-5-1) @ 4 Colts (11-5)

If I’ve learned anything from this NFL season, it is that coordinators, not coaches, are more responsible for on-field performance.

Last year, Cincinnati was third in total yards allowed, behind only Seattle and Carolina and fifth against the pass (209.0), the run (96.5) and points allowed per game (19.1).

This year, the Bengals were 22nd in yards allowed, 20th against the pass (243.0) and the rush (116.3) and 12th in points allowed (21.5).

Keep in mind that the Bengals added a lot of depth this past offseason and it leaves you scratching your head. What happened?

Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer left, that’s what happened. Zimmer was the key to the Bengals defense and with him gone, they struggled mightily. Guess who was ahead of the Bengals in nearly every defensive stat category? Zimmer’s Vikings, who struggled against the run (25th) but outpaced the Bengals against the pass (7th) and in total yards (14th) and points (11th). The Bengals just aren’t the same team and if it wasn’t for the emergence of LSU rookie Jeremy Hill, the Bengals would not have made the playoffs, even with an easy schedule.

The Colts, my preseason Super Bowl pick, had the record I predicted but struggled in December, including a disastrous defeat against the Cowboys. The running game is still ineffective and I don’t think it’s because of the personnel. The Colts are just not a running team and never have been. Edgerrin James was the last overachieving running back they had, a decade ago. Getting Trent Richardson for a first-rounder was a bargain, but you have to put him in a system where he has a chance to succeed.

Andrew Luck hasn’t been himself of late, but the entire Bengals team hasn’t been themselves all year. Also considering A.J. Green’s doubtful status for Sunday’s contest and that the Bengals have never won a road playoff game, I’m feeling Luck-y.

6 Lions (11-5) @ 3 Cowboys (12-4)

I hate the Dallas Cowboys. With that said, bravo guys.

Easily the biggest surprise of the season, at least for me, the Dallas Cowboys went from having one of the worst defenses in NFL history ever to a middle-of-the-road group that was 15th in points allowed (22.0). Plagued by injuries up to this year, not only did DeMarco Murray play the full season, he set some records. He eclipsed the 100-yard mark 12 times and scored at least once in 11 games! A truly incredible year, especially considering he faced the NFC West, rushing for triple digits in three of the four contests. A dominant running back is exactly what the Cowboys needed because Romo can’t shoulder the offense every game and that showed this year. Aikman had Emmitt and Romo needed someone. Too bad it took forever for Jerry Jones to find one.

The Lions under Jim Caldwell, a former coordinator, became a new team this year as their defensive line of first-round picks finally played to expectation and became the best rushing defense in the league. Their mediocre secondary is sustainable due to the constant pressure on the quarterback. Their rushing game is falling apart as the Lions are seeing Reggie Bush become a non-factor in the NFL. Bush had 76 carries this year. Stafford had more than half that (43). Joique Bell has taken over the starting role and has shown promise but a better offensive line is required if this team is to be balanced. The Lions’ December play was also questionable. After throttling the Buccaneers, the Lions squeaked past the Vikings with a two-point win and beat the Bears by 6. The defense allowed only 14 points in both match-ups and yet they still barely won. The offense has to show up now because the defense can’t play much better than it’s playing now.

This is the game to watch this week and as much as I hate the Cowboys, they’re the more balanced team. I’ll be rooting for them to choke in crunch time though.

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Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Week 16

This one is really late and I apologize. Week 17’s will be out tomorrow as well as a regular season recap. Get ready for the playoffs!

Top 5

1. QB Russell Wilson 20/31 for 339 yards, 2 TDs, 122.9 QBR, 6 carries for 88 yards, TD vs. ARI

2. QB Ryan Tannehill 35/47 for 396 yards, 4 TDs, INT, 118.8 QBR vs. MIN

3. WR Odell Beckham, Jr. 8 receptions for 148 yards, 2 TDs vs. STL

4. RB Frank Gore 26 carries for 158 yards, TD vs. SD

5. TE Zach Ertz franchise-record 15 receptions for 115 yards vs. WAS

Worst of the Worst

1. 49ers drop to Chargers after 21-point lead

2. Colts smashed 42-7 vs. DAL

3. QB Joe Flacco 21/50 for 195 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs, 41.7 QBR vs. HOU

At one point, 4/22 for 80 something yards.

4. QB Peyton Manning 28/44 for 311 yards, 2 TDs, 4 INTs, 61.8 QBR vs. CIN

5. QB Andrew Luck 15/22 for 109 yards, 2 INTs vs. DAL

Steelers Recap

Despite the narrow win the box score may give those who didn’t watch Sunday’s game against the Chiefs, it was one of the Steelers’ best games of the year. The offense may have struggled against one of the best defenses in the league, accumulating only 282 total yards of offense, but the steel curtain came to play, limiting one of the league’s best running backs to 29 yards rushing and forcing a fumble. Six times the Chiefs entered the red zone and they left with four field goals, a fumble and a failed fourth down conversion. This defensive highlight was only more impressive when you consider that the Chiefs were second in the league in red zone touchdown percentage coming into the game. The Steelers are 7-2 since losing to the Browns and dropping to 3-3 in October.

In my week 13 Steelers Recap, I said I was disappointed with the team this year because of their lackluster play against substandard opponents. As we’ve been saying in Pittsburgh for the last three seasons, the outcome of Sunday’s game usually doesn’t depend on who we’re playing. It depends on which Steelers’ team decides to show up.

This season has been one of the most stressful seasons of Steelers football that I’ve watched but looking at the blooming talent the team has right now, including the B3 attack of Ben, Bell and Brown, the Steelers look to have a bright future right now, especially with the Bengals poor season this year.

The Steelers will win on Sunday night and will clinch the division. And they did by the way.

Game of the Week: Lions @ Packers

Week 17, aside from finalizing playoff spots, is the least exciting week in football, leaving for few big games. However, the Lions were looking to hold on to a NFC North division title and Aaron Rodgers is probably this year’s MVP. It was a game to watch, but as always, the Lions choked in December and the Packers maintain their dominance of the division.

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Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Week 14

Top 5

1. QB Derek Carr 22/28 for 254 yards, 3 TDs, 140.2 QBR vs. SF

2. RB Le’Veon Bell 26 carries for 185 yards, 2 TDs, 6 receptions for 50 yards, TD vs. CIN

3. WR A.J. Green 11 receptions for 224 yards, TD vs. PIT

4. WR T.Y. Hilton 10 receptions for 150 yards, 2 TDs, Fmb vs. CLE

5. WR Julio Jones 11 receptions for 259 yards, TD vs. GB

Worst of the Worst

1. QB Colin Kaepernick 18/33 for 174 yards, TD, 2 INTs, 5 sacks, 54.4 QBR vs. OAK

2. 49ers lose to Raiders

3. QB Brian Hoyer 14/31 for 140 yards, 2 INTs, 31.7 QBR vs. IND

4. QB Peyton Manning 14/20 for 173 yards, 2 INTs, 56.9 QBR vs. BUF

5. Eagles held to 139 total yards vs. SEA

Steelers Recap

I didn’t watch much of last Sunday’s game because I didn’t expect a win. Pittsburgh disappointed vs the Saints and the game was at home, only irking more further. Cincinnati was on the rise and Pittsburgh was on the decline. However, Le’Veon Bell certainly was not, putting up 41 fantasy points in standard leagues with the stats I listed above, earning the number two spot on my top five this week. A playoff spot is still in the cards, but the team’s losses to poor teams may get the better of them this year. It’s against the Falcons this week, who nearly pulled off a comeback against the hottest team in the league, the Green Bay Packers, so don’t be surprised if the game is close. It’s a must-win for Pittsburgh so I’m taking them, but don’t be blown away with Matt Ryan’s Falcons leave with a win.

Game of the Week: Cowboys @ Eagles

It’s the only game this week that pops out to me and it’s a game that matters in the NFC playoff picture. I’m rooting for the Cowboys to miss the playoffs again, #MerryDALmiss, and after the Cowboys were throttled at home, I’ll take the Eagles this time.

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Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Week 12

Top 5

1. QB Ryan Tannehill 26/36 for 228 yards, 3 TDs, INT. 104.9 QBR, 4 carries for 15 yards, TD vs. DEN

2. WR Odell Beckham Jr. 10 receptions for 146 yards, 2 TDs vs. DAL

Also had one of the greatest catches I’ve ever seen.

3. RB C.J. Anderson 27 carries for 167 yards, TD vs. MIA

4. RB Justin Forsett 22 carries for 182 yards, 2 TDs vs. NO

5. QB Peyton Manning 28/35 for 257 yards, 4 TDs, 135.4 QBR vs. MIA

Worst of the Worst

1. Jets allow seven sacks, only get 218 total yards vs. BUF after Buffalo had no practice because of snowstorm

2. QB Brian Hoyer 23/40 for 322 yards, 3 INTs, 52.3 QBR vs. ATL

3. QB Josh McCown 25/48 for 341 yards, TD, 2 INTs, Fmb, 64.7 QBR vs. CHI

4. QB Robert Griffin III 11/19 for 106 yards, five sacks, Fmb, 73.6 QBR vs. SF

5. QB Matt Stafford 18/46 for 264 yards, INT, 49.5 QBR vs. NE

Steelers Recap

The Steelers had their week 12 bye, which hopefully allowed them to resolve some in-house issues with the team. CB Ike Taylor and S Troy Polamalu are expected to return for this Sunday’s game against the Saints. The Saints have been deflating since the beginning of the year and I expect that to continue when they come to Heinz Field, where in his last two game, Ben has thrown a combined 12 touchdowns.

Game of the Week: Patriots @ Packers

Probably the easiest pick I’ve made all year, it’s the first time Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers will face off, which is surprising considering the amount of time they’ve both been in the league. Aaron Rodgers missed the previous meeting in 2010 with injury. Matt Flynn started the game but the Patriots won in Foxborough 31-27. Rodgers came back the next game and went on a six-game winning streak in route to winning Super Bowl XLV.

However, these teams are very different from what they were four years ago. In 2010, the Patriots had BenJarvus Green-Ellis behind Brady and Welker was Brady’s top target. Jerod Mayo led not just the team, but the league in tackles (175). He’s out for the season with a knee injury. New England also led the league in points per game (32.7).

The Packers had Greg Jennings and Donald Driver.

Despite all the changes, this should still be one of the best games of the season and I’d be surprised if it was a blowout. In Lambeau, I got to take Green Bay.


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Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Week 7

Top 5

1. QB Peyton Manning 22/26 for 318 yards, 4 TDs, 157.2 QBR vs. SF

Breaks Favre’s 508 TD record

2. QB Russell Wilson 23/36 for 313 yards, 2 TDs, 110.1 QBR, 7 carries for 106 yards, TD vs. STL

First player to throw for over 300 yards and run for 100 yards in the same game

3. Steelers score 24 points in 2:54 (21 in 1:13) in second quarter vs. HOU

4. WR Demaryius Thomas 8 receptions for 171 yards, 2 TDs vs. SF

5. RB Le’Veon Bell 12 carries for 57 yards, 8 receptions for 88 yards, TD vs. HOU

Sets Steelers record for most yards from scrimmage in player’s first two seasons.

Worst of the Worst

1. Bengals shutout vs. Colts, 0-2-1 and outscored in 107-54 in last three games.

1/13 on third down, 54 plays for 135 yards (2.5 ypp) 10 3-and-outs, punted franchise-record 11 times

2. Seahawks lose to third string QB, third string RB and second string RB tops receptions in Rams win.

3. QB Brian Hoyer 16/41 for 215 yards, INT, Fmb, 46.3 QBR vs. JAC

4. QB Blake Bortles 17/31 for 159 yards, TD, 3 INTs, 40.3 QBR vs. CLE

5. Bills lose Spiller, Jackson to injury

Steelers Recap

I went to the Steelers game on Monday and it started the way I feared it might, with Arian Foster gouging the Steelers defense with 102 yards in the first quarter and the Texans jumping to a 13-0 with 7:16 remaining in the second quarter. The Steelers looked pretty bad, but as I noted to one of my friends in the stands, all the Steelers needed was a big play: a sack, a big run, anything to give the Burgh some momentum. After a Suisham field goal and a Texan 3-and-out, Roethlisberger escaped a sack and screened it to Bell, who ran for a 43-yard gain. The very next play, Big Ben found their fourth-round pick, WR Martavis Bryant, in the end zone for his first touchdown of the season. The ensuing kickoff was bobbled by the Texan returner and left the Houston with poor field goal position. On the second play, Foster fumbled the ball and Antonio Brown threw, yes, threw, a touchdown pass to Lance Moore. The next Houston offensive possession, a deflected pass wound up in the hands of Brett Keisel and RB Le’Veon Bell scored on the next play.

It was a demonstration of how deadly the Steelers can be if they execute. The last three minutes of the second quarter was some of the best Steelers’ football I’ve seen in a while. Despite how well they played, they face the second-best team in the league right now, the Indianapolis Colts. Got to side with Luck on this one.

Game of the Week: Eagles @ Cardinals

Both teams are 5-1 and with the Cowboys on a hot streak, the Eagles have to keep pace if they want to win the division. The Cardinals have a good defense but their pass defense has been one of the worst in the league, a huge surprise for many. Going to take the pass-heavy Eagles.

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Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Week 5

Top 5

1. Patriots dominate the Bengals 43-17 and Tom Brady surpasses 50,000 yards. The Patriots outgained the Bengals 505-320 in total yards, 220 of those on the ground. New England also allowed zero third down conversions the whole game. A superb performance just one week after their 41-14 loss to Kansas City sparked criticism.

2. Browns rally from 25-point deficit to stun Titans at home. It was the largest comeback in league history by a road team.

3. WR Demaryius Thomas 8 receptions for 226 yards (franchise record), 2 TDs vs. ARI

4. Broncos’ record-setting game. The Broncos had their best offensive output in franchise history (568 yards) against two of the best cornerbacks in the game, Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie. Peyton Manning set a career-high with 479 yards and threw his 500th touchdown pass, joining Brett Favre in the elite club. Finally, Wes Welker’s seven receptions moved him past Rod Smith for the most catches by an undrafted player (854).

5. RB Arian Foster 23 carries for 157 yards, 2 TDs vs. DAL

Worst of the Worst

1. Jets obliterated by the Chargers 31-0. QB Geno Smith was benched at halftime. New York didn’t make it past the 50-yard line until 7:35 left in the fourth quarter, which was only thanks to a 33-yard pass interference call. They had only four first downs through three quarters. At the game’s conclusion, the Jets had run 54 plays for 151 total yards (2.8 yards per play), committed 12 penalties for 94 yards and two turnovers, and gone 1/12 on third down.

2. Bears blow 14-point lead, commit four second half turnovers in loss to Carolina. The Bears have been outscored 34-3 in the second half the last two weeks.

3. QB Christian Ponder 22/44 for 222 yards, 2 INTs, 6 sacks, 95.8 QBR vs. GB

4. QB Drew Brees 35/57 for 371 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs, 70.1 QBR vs. TB

5. Someone shoots laser pointer in Bills’ field goal holder’s eyes during field goal try. Come on, man!

Steelers Recap

The Steelers beat Jacksonville 17-9, a score that was much closer than it should have been. A late interception for a touchdown solidified the win, but the fact the win needed to be solidified in the fourth quarter is not encouraging. Props to ESPN for trying to give the Steelers more credit than they deserved.

As the recap says, “Pittsburgh’s defense looked somewhat suspect in the first four games, giving up 350 yards and 25 points a game.”

That sounds a lot more than suspect to me. Sounds like criminal negligence.

“The Jaguars finished with 243 yards and were 3 of 12 on third-down conversions.”

When you’re complimenting a team’s defense for throttling the Jaguars, you know you’re desperate for results.

“Jacksonville’s defensive effort was more surprising. The Jaguars had been gouged in every game this season, giving up an average of 451 yards and 38 points in the first four weeks.”

I don’t like stats that average things because it doesn’t account for outlier performances. Jacksonville forced three first half turnovers and led 17-0 at halftime against the Eagles in week one. I would also mention that the Jaguars had the misfortune of playing Indianapolis and San Diego in back-to-back weeks, two prolific pass offenses.

What all that comes down to is that the Steelers are trending down and need a decisive win. In Cleveland, they’ll have the opportunity. Let’s go Steelers.

Game of the Week: Cowboys @ Seahawks

I hate picking the same teams each week for Game of the Week, but the Cowboys-Seahawks matchup looks like the game to watch in week 6, with the Packers @ Dolphins matchup being a close second. I’ve got a lot of upsets picked this week, including the Dolphins, the Bills at home vs. the Patriots, the Jaguars on the road against Tennessee, the Bears in Atlanta, and the Redskins in Arizona. Not in that list? The Cowboys in Seattle. Tony Romo is overrated and as good as DeMarco Murray is, I think this is the week he struggles.

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