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2017-2018 NFL Preview: AFC West

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

GET: DT Bennie Logan, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis

LOSE: RB Jamaal Charles, WR Jeremy Maclin, DT Dontari Poe, LB D.J. Alexander

RE-SIGNS: S Eric Berry, G Laurent Duvernay-Tardif

DRAFT: 1st round: QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech     2nd round: DE Tanoh Kpassagnon, Villanova    3rd round: RB Kareem Hunt, Toledo     4th round: WR Jehu Chesson, Michigan     5th round: LB Ukeme Eligwe, Georgia Southern     6th round: S Leon McQuay III, USC

SUMMARY: The Kansas City Chiefs have surprised me each year for a little while now because on paper, they’re simply not explosive on the offensive side of the ball. For a few years, Jamaal Charles was their only playmaker and the offense was fully reliant on both his health and execution. Last year, Kansas City really impressed me because they showed they could function with the ball without Charles. Spencer Ware finished with 921 yards last year, good for 16th, ahead of Todd Gurley, and carried a 4.3 clip (also 16th), better than names like David Johnson, Latavius Murray, Lamar Miller and Melvin Gordon.

Spencer Ware will miss 2017 with a torn PCL, which puts added pressure on third-round selection Kareem Hunt out of Toledo to serve as a backfield cornerstone. He looked pretty good against New England on Thursday, but that type of production, as Jamaal Charles found out, is taxing on one’s body and very hard to duplicate with regularity.

Alex Smith also played perhaps the best game of his career on Thursday, showcasing he can be more than a game manager. He can actually play a part in changing momentum and making key throws. Tyreek Hill last year was a wild card, but looked like a talented receiver in Week 1. The receiving core isn’t deep, but as long as the offense can perform with some continuity, Kansas City should continue to own the rights to a playoff spot. They were 20th in passing last year and 15th in the ground game, but a 24.3 ppg rate will lead to victories when your defense gives up 19.4 per game (7th). They gave up a lot of yards last year (20th), but total yardage is not always an indicator of a defense’s true potential. Kansas City led the league in turnover differential last year with a +16. Turnover differential is a number that fluctuates year to year and is nearly impossible to repeat, but one way to keep it positive is by increasing their pressure rate. Kansas City had 28 sacks last year, ahead of only the Jets, Browns, Lions and Raiders.

The Chiefs personnel on defense is stout and will keep the team in games. Marcus Peters is likely the best young corner soon to be on the market. Eric Berry’s season-ending Achilles injury will hurt, but Kansas City looks poised for another playoff run.

Tyreek Hill could be a capable fantasy asset as could Kareem Hunt, but I’m unwilling to take on that gamble. Kansas City defense, sign me up.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 11-5

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

OAKLAND RAIDERS

GET: RB Marshawn Lynch, TE Jared Cook, OL Marshall Newhouse, QB EJ Manuel, LB Jelani Jenkins, LB IK Enemkpali, WR Cordarrelle Patterson

LOSE: RB Latavius Murray, DT Dan Williams, OT Austin Howard, QB Matt McGloin, CB D.J. Hayden, LB Perry Riley, LB Malcolm Smith, OT Menelik Watson

RE-SIGNS: QB Derek Carr, G Gabe Jackson, WR Seth Roberts

DRAFT: 1st round: CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State     2nd round: S Obi Melifonwu, Connecticut     3rd round: DT Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA     4th round: G David Sharpe, Florida     5th round: LB Marquel Lee, Wake Forest     7th round: S Shalom Luani, Washington State     OT Jylan Ware, Alabama State     RB Elijah Hood, North Carolina     DT Treyvon Hester, Toledo

SUMMARY: There were three true MVP candidates last year: Matt Ryan, Tom Brady and Derek Carr. He threw for 3,937 yards, led his team to multiple comebacks over the course of the season and was by far the team’s best player. His team’s championship hopes were shot the minute his leg broke.

Carr has the chance for even better numbers this year behind one of the best offensive lines in football and with Marshawn Lynch taking additional pressure off of the young quarterback. General manager Reggie McKenzie has given his young quarterback one of the strongest supporting casts in professional football so any failings Carr encounters, in most cases, are his own doing. The team lives and dies on the shoulders of the 26-year-old, which is why he was given such an enormous contract so early in his career. I expect the Raiders passing attack (13th in 2016) to receive a nice boost with another year of experience under Carr’s belt. A sixth-ranked rushing attack will likely regress, but not enough to be a problem. If the Raiders can mimic their 26.0 points per game from last season, they will see the promise land of playoff football. They, and the Steelers, seem to be the only teams with enough talent to beat the almighty New England Patriots in a playoff game.

The defense of Oakland, on the other hand, is poor. There is only one defensive category that they were good in: turnover differential. They tied Kansas City with a +16, but as I already mentioned, it’s a sporadic number that is based on skill, luck and schedule, and not in even portions.

In more important categories, Oakland was one of seven teams to allow over 6,000 yards of offense (New Orleans, Washington, Miami, Indianapolis, Cleveland, San Francisco.) Coincidentally, none of those teams are likely to make the playoffs this year and Oakland needs to change their setup if they don’t want to join the club (24th pass, 23rd rush, 24.1 ppg (20th)). They must improve from a league-worst 18 sacks last year. They also have a strong enough corner group (David Amerson, TJ Carrie, Sean Smith, Gareon Conley) to outpace 60 passes defended, a stat from last year.

Khalil Mack is sure to terrorize opposing quarterbacks, but there needs to be more of a team impact on the defensive side of the ball. The Raiders are also starting rookies Eddie Vanderdoes at defensive tackle and Marquel Lee at middle linebacker.  This won’t be a strong unit. It just needs to be a better one by the end of the season.

Derek Carr is a top-five quarterback for me this year and Amari Cooper, Marshawn Lynch and Michael Crabtree are also great selections in fantasy.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD:10-6

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

DENVER BRONCOS

GET: RB Jamaal Charles, G Ronald Leary, OT Menelik Watson, NT Domata Peko, QB Brock Osweiler, OT Menelik Watson, G Allen Barbre

LOSE: LB DeMarcus Ware, S T.J. Ward, LB Danny Trevathan, OT Russell Okung, NT Sylvester Williams, OT Ty Sambrailo, G Michael Schofield, RB Stevan Ridley, WR Marlon Brown, OL Michael Schofield, RB Juwan Thompson

RE-SIGNS: F

DRAFT: 1st round: OT Garett Bolles, Utah     2nd round: DE DeMarcus Walker, Florida State     3rd round: WR Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech     CB Brendan Langley, Lamar     5th round: TE Jake Butt, Michigan     WR Isaiah McKenzie, Georgia     6th round: RB De’Angelo Henderson, Coastal Carolina     7th round: QB Chad Kelly, Ole Miss

SUMMARY: The Denver Broncos have new faces at the linebacker spots including Shaquil Barrett and Todd Davis, along with second-year safety Justin Simmons taking the spot of hard hitter T.J. Ward. They also lost Wade Phillips, one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL, along with coach Gary Kubiak, who called it a career. In comes Vance Joseph, former DC for the Miami Dolphins. Step one: choose a quarterback and for week one, Joseph has chosen to stick with Trevor Siemian, a short-term solution until someone better comes along. Paxton Lynch has progressed little since being drafted, leaving Siemian, who performed admirably last year (3,401 yards, 18/10 TD/INT, 84.6 passer rating) for a seventh-rounder. With receivers like Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders flanking you, Siemian needs to do his best Alex Smith impression for the entirety of 2017 if he wants his team to have a chance. Denver and Kansas City are constructed the same way and will find success in the same manner.

The Broncos offensive line needs to be better this year after allowing 42 sacks (third-worst) and dragging a 27th-ranked ground attack through the mud. Jamaal Charles may very well get one last hoorah in Denver and by mid-season, could own the starting role if C.J. Anderson can’t get the wheels turning.

Conversely, Denver got run over last year (28th, 130.3 ypg), a stat that must change in a ground-and-pound division. If they sure up up front, Denver will be nearly unstoppable. They were first against the pass with the best corner duo in football (Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr.) and their 18.6 points per game was fourth-best. They have the tools to contend for a second wild-card spot. I’m just not sure it happens.

The Denver defense is the top pick from this squad for fantasy football. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders should be given WR2 consideration. If Jamaal Charles is available near the end of your draft, I believe he’s worth a selection.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD:8-8

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

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

GET: OT Russell Okung, QB Cardale Jones, G Michael Schofield, LB Korey Toomer, S Tre Boston

LOSE: OT King Dunlap, G Orlando Franklin, G D.J. Fluker, LB Manti Te’o, K Josh Lambo, QB Kellen Clemens, RB Kenjon Barner, TE Jeff Cumberland

RE-SIGNS: S Jahleel Addae, RB Brandon Oliver

DRAFT: 1st round: WR Mike Williams, Clemson     2nd round: G Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky     3rd round: G Dan Feeney, Indiana     4th round: S Rayshawn Jenkins, Miami     5th round: CB Desmond King, Iowa     6th round: OT Sam Tevi, Utah     7th round: DE Isaac Rochell, Notre Dame

SUMMARY: San Diego is no more. The Chargers are now onto Los Angeles and are likely the lesser of the two LA-based teams this fall. The Bolts carry a strong defensive line featuring Ohio State product Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram (combined 18.5 sacks), but they’re weak at the linebacker spot after the anchor of the unit, Manti Te’0, left for New Orleans. Kyle Toomer, fresh from Oakland, and Kyle Emmanuel are young players who’ve yet to make an impact on the field and Jatavis Brown has done only slightly more than those two. I expect San Diego to fall drastically in the run defense column (10th last year at 97.9) and their points against is unlikely to make a notable improvement from the 26.4 they allowed last year (29th). Casey Hayward and Jason Verrett are capable corners, but Verrett begins the year on the PUP list, which spells bad news for Los Angeles, San Diego edition.

Philip Rivers has top target Keenan Allen back, but for who knows how long given his injury history. Rivers has slowly become one of the better quarterbacks remaining in the league and has aged well, but at 35 is the only player keeping this team above water. He’s done much with little and it’s a shame he couldn’t have been this player about ten years ago during the LaDainian Tomlinson years. He would likely have a ring. Instead, Rivers is likely to end his career without reaching the playoffs again. When his inevitable retirement occurs, this team will find itself stranded at the bottom of the AFC.

Melvin Gordon should break the 1,000 yard mark after falling three yards short last year, but is unlikely to have double-digit touchdowns for the second straight year. All in all, the AFC West, the strongest division in the AFC, is just too strong for Los Angeles.

Rivers has the strongest fantasy upside for the Bolts and Gordon is a RB2.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD:6-10

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

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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 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.

Passing

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

Rushing

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

Receiving

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

Tackles

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

Sacks

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

Interceptions

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 9

Top 5

1. QB Ben Roethlisberger 25/37 for 340 yards, 6 TDs, Fmb, 136.3 QBR vs. BAL

First QB in NFL history to throw for six touchdowns in consecutive weeks. Sets record for touchdown passes in consecutive games (12). Most fantasy points by a quarterback in back-to-back weeks (79).

2. QB Tom Brady 33/53 for 333 yards, 4 TDs, INT, 97.4 QBR vs. DEN

3. WR Jeremy Maclin 6 receptions for 158 yards, 2 TDs vs. HOU

4. RB Mark Ingram 30 carries for 100 yards, 2 TDs vs. CAR

5. WR Antonio Brown 11 receptions for 144 yards, TD vs. BAL

Worst of the Worst

1. QB Cam Newton 10/28 for 151 yards, INT, Fmb, 39.4 QBR vs. NO

2. QB Philip Rivers 12/23 for 138 yards, 3 INTs, Fmb, 31.0 QBR vs. MIA

3. Jaguars allow two consecutive punts to be blocked vs. CIN

4. QB Colin Kaepernick loses two fumbles, including on last-second quarterback sneak for what would have been the go-ahead score vs. STL

5. Seahawks squeak past Raiders 30-24 despite 3 Oakland turnovers

Steelers Recap

Here are some fun stats: Ben Roethlisberger is second in passing yards (2,720) and completion percentage (68.3) this year. He’s also third in touchdowns (22) and QBR (110.6) and fourth in yards per game (302).

Le’Veon Bell is third in rushing yards (711) and has 47 receptions for 433 yards, giving him 1,144 all-purpose yards this year, third in the league.

Antonio Brown is second in all-purpose yards. That’s correct. Two of the top three players in all-purpose yards play for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brown leads the league in receptions (71), targets (103), receiving yards (996), and first downs (44). He’s also second in yards per game (110.7) and fourth in catches of 20-plus yards (14).

At his current pace, Brown is set to have 1,771 yards, which would be good for fourth in NFL history. Only Calvin Johnson in 2012 (1,964) and Jerry Rice (1,848) and Isaac Bruce (1,781) in 1995 would have more.

After going 1-2 during their easiest stretch of the season (L 27-14 vs. TB, W 17-9 @ JAC, L 31-10 @ CLE), the Steelers playoff hopes appeared to be shouldered onto the Week 7 home match-up against the Texans. The Steelers played their best game of the year and won 30-23. “They played great, but there is no way they’ll beat the Colts,” I said. Ben and the Burgh proved me wrong again, winning another superb home game 51-34. To top it all off, the Steelers decimated the Ravens 43-23 to split the season series.

If the Steelers beat the Jets on Sunday, they will hold sole possession of first place in the AFC North and the third-seed in the AFC because they beat Indianapolis, the projected winner of the AFC South. Their stat line (4th pass, 12th rush, 20th vs. the pass, 11th vs. the rush) is impressive and they are averaging 27.6 points per game, good for 7th in the league.

At this point of the season, not only are the Steelers far better than I expected, they are a solid playoff contender if they continue their current play. If they continue to execute the way they’ve been executing and continue to get consistent pressure on the quarterback, this team should be able to win at least four more games at minimum, especially with the Jets, Titans, Falcons, and struggling Bengals on the schedule. Let’s go Steelers!

Game of the Week: Panthers @ Eagles

Cam Newton was pathetic last game and the Eagles have lost Foles for a substantial amount of time. Can *cough* Mark Sanchez *cough* keep the team together or fail as he’s always done when the team’s looking to him to lead? This game will be a good first test for Sanchez. With that said, I think the Eagles are the better team, even if Sanchez falters yet again.

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Tim Sports Report For 2014 NFL Week 2

Top 5

1. QB Philip Rivers 28/37 for 284 yards, 3 TDs, 124.2 QBR vs. SEA

2. QB Jay Cutler 23/34 for 176 yards, 4 TDs, 119.2 QBR vs. SF

3. WR Jordy Nelson 9 receptions for 209 yards, TD vs. NYJ

First Green Bay receiver to have over 200 yards since 1996

4. QB Peyton Manning 21/26 for 242 yards, 3 TDs, 143.9 QBR vs. KC

5. RB DeMarco Murray 29 carries for 167 yards, TD, Fmb vs. TEN

Worst of the Worst

1. Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg calls timeout to nullify game-tying TD pass, then lose vs. GB

2. 49ers commit 16 penalties for 118 yards, 4 turnovers, 2/5 in the red zone vs. CHI

3. QB Colin Kaepernick 21/34 for 248 yards, TD, 3 INTs, Fmb, 57.0 QBR vs. CHI

4. QB Matt Cassel 19/36 for 202 yards, TD, 4 INTs, 6 sacks, 39.1 QBR vs. NE

5. Jaguars QB Chad Henne sacked 10 times vs. WAS

Steelers Recap

The Steelers went to Baltimore and looked terrible. Nevermind the fact that Ben was hassled all night by the Ravens defensive front, the nine penalties and three turnovers the Steelers committed or the fact that a duo of Bernard Pierce and Justin Forsett managed to run for 152 yards versus the steel curtain. That’s without mentioning that Steve Smith was as open as a Walmart on Black Friday. However, the Steelers dodged the most dangerous bullet, which was losing star receiver Antonio Brown to what looked like a serious concussion. Thankfully, Brown returned later in the game and gave Steelers fans hope for the future. If there is any good to take away from this, it’s that it was a game versus the Ravens in Baltimore and such a game is hardly reflective of the team’s potential. That doesn’t mean the Steelers shouldn’t learn from their undisciplined play. They’ve got bottleneck the penalties and continue the steady pass protection we saw in week one against Cleveland. In Carolina, picking against the Panthers is difficult, considering the solid defense they have, but I’m taking the Steelers this week anyway. The Panthers starting running back, DeAngelo Williams, looks questionable at best for Sunday night’s game and Cam Newton has not looked himself lately. Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin are above-average pass-catchers, but I would hope the secondary, as shoddy as it is, can cover two people. It will definitely be a close game, there’s no doubt of that, but I think the Steelers will show they’ve learned something by beating Newton and the Panthers.

Game of the Week: DEN @ SEA

Is this even a question? It’s a Super Bowl rematch and hopefully this time we’ll be able to describe it as a sporting event. The Chargers made the Seahawks defense look elementary last week and the offense struggled mightily without Lynch carrying the rock. He’s questionable for the game and without him, the Seahawks win probability is cut in half in my opinion because of a limited receiving core. The Broncos are healthy and have plenty of people to rely on. I’m biased on this, I don’t deny it, but I’m still taking one of the greatest quarterbacks in history over Seattle.

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Tim Sports Report for 2013 NFL Week 12

Top 5

1. Patriots have biggest comeback in franchise history, overcoming 24-point halftime deficit to the Denver Broncos to win 34-31 in OT.

2. QB Philip Rivers 27/39 for 392 yards, 3 TDs, 127.3 QBR vs. KC

3. WR Josh Gordon 14 receptions for 237 yards, TD vs. PIT

4. RB Knowshon Moreno 37 carries for 224 yards, TD vs. NE

5. WR Julian Edelman 9 receptions for 110 yards, 2 TDs vs. DEN

Worst of the Worst

1. Broncos blow 24-point halftime lead in loss to Patriots

2. QB Geno Smith 9/22 for 127 yards, 2 INTs, Fmble, 22.3 QBR vs. BAL

3. Vikings-Packers game ends in tie. I don’t know why the NFL hasn’t made a rule change to eliminate ties yet. No major sport aside from soccer allows ties. The NFL needs to change that rule for reals because ties are stupid.

4. QB Peyton Manning 19/36 for 150 yards, 2 TDs, INT, 70.4 QBR vs. NE

*Sidenote: I don’t understand why Peyton can’t beat Brady. Last year I picked Brady and he won…again. This year Peyton had every tool he needed to get a win and he still couldn’t do it. The overall series between the two is 10-4 in favor of Brady. Brady has not lost to Peyton since 2009.

5. QB Andrew Luck 20/39 for 163, TD, INT, 60.1 QBR vs. ARI

Steelers Recap

Despite being 4/14 on third down, the Steelers got the win in Cleveland 27-11. They forced four turnovers, got a defensive TD and had five sacks. However, they allowed Josh Gordon to get 14 catches for 237 yards and a touchdown, something they cannot allow to happen again. Facing the Baltimore Ravens this week on Thanksgiving Day in Baltimore makes me inclined to pick the Ravens, but they have struggled as of late and the Steelers have not, including that big upset of the Detroit Lions. Don’t fail me now Pittsburgh, because I’m trying to get caught up in our pick’em tournament.

Game of the Week: Saints @ Seahawks

It’s offense versus defense. The Seahawks are at home though, which spells L-O-S-S for the Saints.

 

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Tim Sports Report for 2013 NFL Week 4

Top 5

1. QB Drew Brees 30/39 for 413 yards, 4 TDs 144.5 QBR vs. MIA

Threw for 400 yards for 10th time, 2nd-most all-time behind Dan Marino (13)

2. QB Philip Rivers 35/42 for 401 yards, 3 TDs, INT, 120.3 QBR vs. DAL

3. QB Peyton Manning 28/34 for 327 yards, 4 TDs, 146.0 QBR vs. PHI

16 TDs in first 4 games most in NFL history

4. TE Tony Gonzalez 12 receptions for 149 yards, 2 TDs vs. NE

5. RB Reggie Bush 18 carries for 139 yards, TD vs. CHI

Worst of the Worst

1. QB Blaine Gabbert 17/32 for 179 yards, 3 INTs, 30.6 QBR vs. IND

2. QB Joe Flacco 25/50 for 347 yards, 2 TDs, 5 INTs, 46.4 QBR vs. BUF

3. QB Ryan Tannehill 22/35 for 249 yards, TD. 3 INTs, Fmble, 57.9 QBR vs. NO

4. QB Jay Cutler 27/47 for 317 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs, Fmble, 65.6 QBR vs. DET

5. QB Andy Dalton 23/42 for 206 yards, INT, Fmble, 58.2 QBR vs. CLE

Steelers Recap

The Steelers lost to the Minnesota Vikings this past Sunday in London 34-27. The Steelers were 3/6 in the red zone and failed to force a turnover for the fourth consecutive game. I’ll be honest when I say I was disinterested with this game in the middle of the third quarter. I still watched, but I was only half watching and it was because I knew the Steelers were going to lose…again. The Steelers didn’t play bad offensively. There were a lot of positives to take away from Sunday’s game. For example, rookie Le’Veon Bell had 16 carries for 57 yards and two touchdowns in his debut. The problem was the same as it had been for the previous three games before it: the Steelers didn’t make big plays and they let the other team make them.

In the Titans game, RB Isaac Redman fumbled on the TEN 5 yard line which was then recovered by the Titans. Later in the game, Ben threw an interception, which the Titans then took down the field for a touchdown. Big plays: TEN-2 PIT-0

Against Cincinnati, the Steelers had a 3-0 lead and Ben completed a 34 yard pass to TE David Paulson to get the Steelers into the redzone, only to watch Paulson get stripped by CB Adam Jones. The Bengals went on to score a touchdown and a field goal on their next two possessions and the Steelers never recovered. Big plays: CIN-1 PIT-0

After the Bears scored a field goal on their first drive, Ben fumbled the ball on the third offensive play for the Steelers. The Bears go on to get two touchdowns on their next two possessions. Ben throws a pick-six to give the Bears 7 more points and RB Felix Jones fumbles the ball on the opening second half drive and the Bears score again. Oh, and let’s not forget about Julius Peppers’ fumble return for a touchdown. Big plays: CHI-4 PIT-0

Then the Vikings game they allow a 70 yard touchdown catch to WR Greg Jennings and later on a 60 yard touchdown run from RB Adrian Peterson. Take away those two big plays: Steelers win the game 27-20. The defense was nowhere to be found on Sunday and so the Steelers lost again. The Steelers’ problem is not one that requires a brainiac to figure out. The Steelers need to take advantage of chances, make the big plays, and stop turning the ball over while getting some takeaways of their own. It’s not that difficult.

Game of the Week: Texans @ 49ers

Both teams have met unexpected adversity in the first four weeks of the NFL season. This is the chance for both teams to show they’re for real.

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Tim Sports Report for 2013 NFL Week 2

Top 5

1. QB Aaron Rodgers 34/42 for 480 yards, 4 TDs, 146.0 QBR vs. WSH

2. QB Philip Rivers 36/47 for 419 yards, 3 TDs, 124.3 QBR vs. PHI

3. RB Marshawn Lynch 28 carries for 98 yards, 2 TDs, 3 receptions for 39 yards, TD vs. SF

4. WR DeSean Jackson 9 receptions for 193 yards, TD vs. SD

5. DE Mario Williams 6 tackles, 5 solo, 4.5 sacks vs. Car

Worst of the Worst

1. QB Colin Kaepernick 13/28 for 127 yards, 3 INTs, fumble, 20.1 QBR, 9 carries for 87 yards vs. SEA

2. QB Josh Freeman 9/22 for 125 yards, TD, INT, fumble, 56.1 QBR vs. NO

3. 49ers 0/2 in red zone, 5 turnovers, 12 penalties for 121 yards

4. QB Russell Wilson 8/19 for 142 yards, TD, INT, 63.9 QBR vs. SF

5. QB Tom Brady 19/39 for 185 yards, TD, 71.0 QBR vs. NYJ

Steelers Recap

The Steelers looked slightly better in their loss against the Bengals but only slightly. They were 3/12 on third down and failed to reach 100 yards for the eighth straight game, tied for the longest streak in franchise history. They ran the ball only 16 times in the game, 10 of those to Felix Jones for 37 yards. In order for this team to get better and win some games, they have got run the ball more than 16 times a game. If you don’t make the defense respect your running game then they will continue to blitz on crucial downs and Ben will continue to get sacked. Tomlin must decide who the starting runningback is going to be and stick with him. They can not continue to cycle runningbacks and just hope one of them clicks. They need to figure it out. The runningback game plan is in total disarray and it needs to get fixed. The defense must get takeaways. The Redskins defense last year ranked 28th in ypg and 22nd in ppg, but they had a +17 in turnover differential, good for third-best in the league. The Steelers defense needs to try to get turnovers if they want to give their team any chance at winning. Against the Chicago Bears this week, the Steelers will face the 2nd-best turnover differential team in the league last year. I don’t see the Steelers changing their fortunes in this game. I’ll take the Bears.

Game of the Week: Chiefs @ Eagles

These were two of the worst teams in the league last year, but this year they’re totally different teams. I took the Eagles in this one because I was impressed with what Chip Kelly has done in Philly, but the Chiefs pulled it out last night 26-16.

 

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