Tag Archives: tom brady

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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2017-2018 NFL Preview: AFC East

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 

GET: WR Brandin Cooks, CB Stephon Gilmore, TE Dwayne Allen, RB Mike Gillislee, LB David Harris, WR Phillip Dorsett, CB Johnson Bademosi, DE Cassius Marsh, RB Rex Burkhead, DE Lawrence Guy

LOSE: RB LeGarrette Blount, LB Jabaal Sheard, LB Rob Ninkovich, OT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Martellus Bennett, DE Chris Long, CB Logan Ryan, DL Kony Ealy, RB Tyler Gaffney, TE Rob Housler, WR Andrew Hawkins, QB Jacoby Brissett, LB Marquis Flowers

RE-SIGNS: LB Dont’a Hightower, CB Malcolm Butler, DL Alan Branch, OL Cameron Fleming, CB Duron Harmon

DRAFT: 3rd round: LB Derek Rivers, Youngstown State     OT Antonio Garcia, Troy     4th round: DE Deatrich Wise Jr., Arkansas     6th round: OT Conor McDermott, UCLA

SUMMARY: New England has a scary roster. They lost some big names: Blount, Sheard, Ninkovich, Vollmer, Bennett. They added some big names: Cooks, Gilmore, Allen, Harris. The scariest name of all? Tom Brady. Brady’s revenge came to fruition and it was very sweet. The greatest of all time cannot be overlooked and should not be doubted. The Patriots are once again the surest bet in the AFC East and most likely to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Stephon Gilmore and Malcolm Butler should be one of the strongest corner duos in football. The receiving core has taken a hit. Julian Edelman will miss the season, putting Brandin Cooks in a more pressurized situation. Brady will be more than up to the task, with a healthy Gronkowski returning. The rushing game will likely dimish and I’m interested to see how Belichick adjusts, but it’s improbable that it causes any significant problems. New England has always been productive at substituting screens for the running game. If New England matches their 15.6 points allowed per game last year, they’ll be unstoppable.

Brady, Cooks, Chris Hogan and the Patriots defense, against a weak AFC East, should all thrive.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD:13-3

Week 1: vs. KC   Week 2: @NO   Week 3: vs. HOU   Week 4: vs. CAR   Week 5: @TB   Week 6: @NYJ   Week 7: vs. ATL   Week 8: vs. LAC   Week 9: BYE   Week 10: @DEN   Week 11: @OAK   Week 12: vs. MIA   Week 13: @BUF   Week 14: @MIA   Week 15: @PIT   Week 16: vs. BUF   Week 17: vs. NYJ

BUFFALO BILLS

GET: S Micah Hyde, WR Jordan Matthews, CB E.J. Gaines, FB Patrick DiMarco, G Vladimir Ducasse, K Steven Hauschka, LB Gerald Hodges, CB Shareece Wright, LB Ramon Humber, WR Andre Holmes, RB Joe Banyard

LOSE: WR Sammy Watkins, CB Ronald Darby, CB Stephon Gilmore WR Robert Woods, CB Corey Graham, LB Reggie Ragland, RB Mike Gillislee, K Dan Carpenter, WR Anquan Boldin, S Aaron Williams, OT Cyrus Kouandjio, WR Dezmin Lewis, WR Marquise Goodwin, WR Justin Hunter, QB E.J. Manuel

RE-SIGNS: QB Tyrod Taylor, LB Lorenzo Alexander, C Eric Wood, WR Corey Brown, P Colton Schmidt, FB Mike Tolbert, WR Brandon Tate

DRAFT: 1st round: CB Tre’Davious White, LSU     2nd round: WR Zay Jones, East Carolina     G Dion Dawkins, Temple     5th round: LB Matt Milano, Boston College     QB Nathan Peterman, Pittsburgh     6th round: LB Tanner Vallejo, Boise State

SUMMARY: The Bills have done what any smart team would do at this point: trade assets for picks and get ready for the future. The AFC East has already been won.

The Bills’ top four receivers from last year are all gone (Woods, Goodwin, Watkins, Hunter). The Bills’ top two corners (Gilmore, Darby) are both gone. They’ve infused youth into their lineup, saved some cap space and gained future considerations. They’re now in the best position of the three AFC East teams to surpass New England once Brady retires. If he retires.

Buffalo still has a capable defensive line, although they finished 29th against the run last year. That number should change with Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott coming in to coach the Bills. Micah Hyde is a nice addition to the secondary. Buffalo still sports a strong offensive line that hosted the best running game in the league last year, with an average of 164.4 a game. The issue is, with no receivers to fear on the outside, teams will likely stack the box against Buffalo this year, making it hard for LeSean McCoy to replicate his 5.4 average, 1,267 yards and 13 touchdowns.

I think Buffalo will still surpass the Dolphins, narrowly, but they simply can’t contend with New England.

LeSean McCoy won’t rack the numbers up like he did last year, but is likely to run a lot this season.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD:6-10

Week 1: vs. NYJ   Week 2: @CAR   Week 3: vs. DEN   Week 4: @ATL   Week 5: @CIN   Week 6: BYE   Week 7: vs. TB   Week 8: vs. OAK   Week 9: @NYJ   Week 10: vs. NO   Week 11: @LAC   Week 12: @KC   Week 13: vs. NE   Week 14: vs. IND   Week 15: vs. MIA   Week 16: @NE   Week 17: @MIA

MIAMI DOLPHINS

GET: S T.J. McDonald, QB Jay Cutler, LB Rey Maualuga, LB Lawrence Timmons, CB Alterraun Verner, C Ted Larsen, DE William Hayes, TE Julius Thomas

LOSE: OT Brandon Albert, DE Mario Williams, DT Earl Mitchell, DE Jason Jones, CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, DE Dion Jordan, TE Jordan Cameron

RE-SIGNS: DE Cameron Wake, LB Kiko Alonso, WR Kenny Stills

DRAFT: 1st round: LB Charles Harris, Missouri     2nd round: LB Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State     3rd round: CB Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson     5th round: G Isaac Asiata, Utah     DT Davon Godchaux, LSU     6th round: DT Vincent Taylor, Oklahoma State     7th round: WR Isaiah Ford, Virginia Tech

SUMMARY: The Miami Dolphins are trending down. Ryan Tannehill has lost his right to the title “franchise quarterback.” Adam Gase may be the only person associated with the Dolphins excited about the arrival of Jay Cutler.  Starting corner Tony Lippett and Tannehill are done for the year. A young receiving core has promise and Jay Ajayi will have a chance to prove he’s not a fluke. The offense was ninth in rushing last year, a number heading downhill with Cutler behind center fresh off shoulder surgery. They were 26th with Tannehill in the aerial attack category last year. Cameron Wake had a third of Miami’s sacks last year (30.0, ranked 23rd). There’s a lot of pressure on a lot of individuals on this team. I’m not buying it.

Jay Ajayi’s the surest bet, though Jarvis Landry is worth WR2 consideration.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD:5-11

Week 1: vs. TB   Week 2: @LAC   Week 3: @NYJ   Week 4: vs. NO   Week 5: vs. TEN   Week 6: @ATL   Week 7: vs. NYJ   Week 8: @BAL   Week 9: vs. OAK   Week 10: @CAR   Week 11: BYE   Week 12: @NE   Week 13: vs. DEN   Week 14: vs. NE   Week 15: @BUF   Week 16: @KC   Week 17: vs. BUF

NEW YORK JETS

GET: G Brian Winters, CB Morris Claiborne, DE Kony Ealy, S Terrence Brooks, QB Josh McCown, OT Kelvin Beachum, WR Jermaine Kearse, K Chandler Catanzaro, RB Jordan Todman, TE Chris Gragg, DT Mike Pennel

LOSE: DT Sheldon Richardson, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, WR Brandon Marshall, CB Darrelle Revis,  C Nick Mangold, WR Eric Decker, OT Breno Giacomini, S Calvin Pryor, S Marcus Gilchrist, LB David Harris, K Nick Folk, WR Devin Smith, CB Dexter McDougle, QB Geno Smith

RE-SIGNS: LB Bruce Carter

DRAFT: 1st round: S Jamal Adams, LSU     2nd round: S Marcus Maye, Florida     3rd round: WR ArDarius Stewart, Alabama     4th round: WR Chad Hansen, California     5th round: TE Jordan Leggett, Clemson     DE Dylan Donahue, West Georgia     6th round: RB Elijah McGuire, Louisiana-Lafeyette     CB Jeremy Clark, Michigan     CB Derrick Jones, Ole Miss

SUMMARY: No team lost more notable names than the New York Jets this offseason. Management tried to remove every one of their franchise staples. They were mostly successful.

Let’s not sugarcoat it. The New York Jets are gonna suck. They had the worst turnover differential in the league last year (-20) and were one of five teams to finish with at least a -10 (Rams, Browns, Jaguars, Bears). They also scored 17.2 ppg, third-worst in the NFL. Quincy Enunwa is out for the year, leaving second-year receiver Robby Anderson as the number one target opposite Jermaine Kearse. Matt Forte is nearing the end of his career but might still have a little game left. Neither Bryce Petty nor Christian Hackenberg looks to be the answer at quarterback. Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams should provide some entertainment on the defensive line, but it’s gonna be hard to find other success points.

No fantasy assets here.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD:2-14

Week 1: @BUF   Week 2: @OAK   Week 3: vs. MIA   Week 4: vs. JAC   Week 5: @CLE   Week 6: vs. NE   Week 7: @MIA   Week 8: vs. ATL   Week 9: vs. BUF   Week 10: @TB   Week 11: BYE   Week 12: vs. CAR   Week 13: vs. KC   Week 14: @DEN   Week 15: @NO   Week 16: vs. LAC   Week 17: @NE

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Tim Sports Report for 2016 NFL Week 6

Top 5

  1. RB Jay Ajayi 25 carries for 204 yards, 2 TD vs. PIT

Second Dolphin to run for 200 yards and 2 TDs in a game

2. WR Odell Beckham Jr. 8 receptions for a career-high 222 yards, 2 TDs, Fmb vs. BAL

3. QB Tom Brady 29/35 for 376 yards, 3 TDs, 140.0 passer rating vs. CIN

4. RB LeSean McCoy 19 carries for 140 yards, 3 TDs vs. SF

5. QB Matt Ryan 27/42 for 335 yards, 3 TDs, INT, Fmb, 102.8 passer rating vs. SEA

Worst of the Worst

5. Seven teams with double-digit penalties this week.

4. QB Aaron Rodgers 31/42 for 294 yards, TD, INT, Fmb, 90.8 passer rating vs. DAL

3. Blatant pass interference call missed in ATL vs. SEA

2. Steelers implode again

  1. Carolina drops another, now four straight

Steelers Recap

The Steelers game was another implosion, demonstrating the debacle we saw in Philly was not a one-time occurrence. There are real problems with this team and now with Ben gone for at least two weeks, the future for the Steelers is hazy at best.

Game of the Week: Vikings at Eagles

Two powerhouse defenses is sure to be a fun watch and Philly could very well pull the upset. I’m taking Minnesota but the Eagles have the tools to surprise.

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Tim Sports Report for 2016 NFL Week 5

Top 5

  1. RB Ezekiel Elliott 15 carries for 134 yards, 2 TDs vs. CIN

2. QB Ben Roethlisberger 28/40 for 380 yards, 4 TDs, Fmb, 124.4 passer rating vs. NYJ

3. RB David Johnson 27 carries for 157 yards, 2 TDs vs. SF

4. WR T.Y. Hilton 10 receptions for 171 yards, TD vs. CHI

5. QB Tom Brady 28/40 for 406 yards, 3 TDs, 127.7 QBR vs. CLE

Worst of the Worst

5. QB Ryan Tannehill 12/18 for 191 yards, 2 INTs, 62.3 QBR vs. TEN

4. Cleveland is still Cleveland.

3. Rams D. Where are you? They’ve allowed 28+ points in four of six games this season.

2. Carolina continues implosion, drops to 1-4

  1. San Diego blows another one, misses field goal to force game into overtime.

Steelers Recap

The Jets of 2015 are gone. They were dismantled. The secondary is being torn apart. The d-line is doing all it can but it hasn’t been enough. The quarterback situation in New York is a mess. The Steelers beat them handedly in all aspect and had all the reason to.

Game of the Week: Cowboys @ Packers

I could easily pick Atlanta in my game of the week, facing Seattle on the road, but I’m taking Dallas vs. Green Bay. Dallas is a vastly different team from last year and I’m taking them in an upset at Lambeau.

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DeflateGate

*Originally posted on SportsTalkFeed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tim Sports Report for 2015 NFL Week 2

Top 5

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

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

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

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

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

Worst of the Worst

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

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

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

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

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

Steelers Recap

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

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

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

Game of the Week: Chiefs @ Packers

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

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Tim Sports Report for 2015 NFL Week 1

Top 5

1. Rams upset Seattle in opener, 34-31

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

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

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

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

Worst of the Worst

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

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

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

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

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

Steelers Recap

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

Game of the Week: Seahawks @ Packers

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

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The Culture of the NFL

*Originally posted on LastWordOnSports

This offseason has been one of the loudest ones the NFL has ever had, but not for the reasons one would expect. Usually it would be a big signing or a big trade and while the summer of 2015 had those story lines, the infamous DeflateGate case was the leading proponent of the NFL’s latest media storm. However, that is not what this article is about. No, this is about the culture of the NFL.

For many years, Brandon Marshall has taken it upon himself to be a voice for NFL players and on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” Tuesday, the now New York Jets receiver made some comments that were less than flattering.

“There are a lot of players out there that believe that white players, specifically at the quarterback position, are treated differently,” Marshall said, as reported by Brett Pollakoff of Complex Sports. It’s been reported that Marshall also said that if it were Cam Newton who was suspended instead, the judge may have gone in a different direction.

I would like to make it clear that this was not a discussion about Tom Brady. ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini reported that Brandon Marshall called those who wanted Brady suspended, “cowards”, also saying “I don’t believe in that.”

The fact remains that Brandon Marshall, when asked if black players were held to a different standard than white players, responded in the affirmative, according to NJ.com’s Dom Cosentino:

“Absolutely. At times, at times, at times, yes.”

On one hand, I thank Brandon Marshall for his comments. Marshall has always been an outspoken guy that’s never been afraid to speak his mind and shed a light on conversations had in the locker room. With that said, his comments have no factual basis and if these are the conversations being had in locker rooms, it makes me wonder how many NFL players have read the DeflateGate case or any recent discipline case for that matter and how many of them are educated about what’s going on in their profession.

Sports Illustrated’s Amani Toomer on Pro Football Now decided to jump in on the conversation, saying, “When you look at our judicial system, I mean whenever there’s punishment handed down, usually there’s more people that look like me, get longer sentences. That’s the way it works.”

Um, no? No, that isn’t how it works. That’s why Goodell is in the spotlight, Mr. Toomer, because he tried to hand down different sentences than he was allowed to. The collective-bargaining agreement is very specific and clear about what punishments are and when Goodell has tried to go outside those details, he has been shut down by the federal courts every time.

“But was Ray Rice really worse than the quarterback down in Pittsburgh? Was it worse than Ben Roethlisberger? I mean, they’re two of the same situations. I mean, Ray Rice is still out of the league.”

Yes, they are the same situation. Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for four games, as your co-host who is clearly more educated than you, mentions on live television and you counter by saying, “I mean, Ray Rice is still out of the league” which has nothing to do with player discipline. Ray Rice is out of the league because no franchise has decided to sign him, not because the NFL is racist. He got caught on camera knocking his fiancee out and with the negative publicity that is sure to come with his signing, franchises have decided to avoid him. His race has nothing to do with his current non-employment with the NFL.

Race has had nothing to do with the league’s discrepancies in regards to player discipline. Ray Rice was African-American and his unfair indefinite suspension was overturned by the federal courts. Adrian Peterson, who is African-American, had his indefinite suspension for child abuse overturned by the federal courts. Even Greg Hardy, who has violated the league’s personal conduct policy multiple times and could probably knock a woman’s head off and still be cleared to play the following season, correctly saw his 10-game suspension reduced to four games because as arbitrator Harold Henderson said, the baseline punishment for cases like his in the NFL is a six-game suspension.

In all of these cases, African-Americans were unjustly punished and in all these cases, their punishments were corrected according to the written rules of the game. In no case was the player’s race a factor, nor was unjustly punishment kept in place.

There is no basis for playing the race card in this conversation and I remain dumbfounded that NFL players can remain adamant about this. There are plenty of players that think Tom Brady should have been suspended and no one with adequate knowledge of the Wells Report thinks this, leaving me only to conclude they know nothing about the case but decide to make opinions with no backing anyway. Now it comes to our attention that some believe Tom Brady got off not because of the clear lack of evidence in the DeflateGate case, the unquestioned violations of basic judicial process or of the punishment given with no former precedent. No, apparently NFL players think that Brady got off because, of all things, he is white.

Some players are clearly finding any reason they can to argue Brady should have been suspended, but if there are players that truly believe this as Marshall claims, the NFL has a serious identity problem.

I have witnessed more than my fair share of racism and in every case I have reacted in the only humane way to act, defending African-Americans and asking ignorant people what is wrong with them. However, there is also a huge difference between clear, racially motivated injustices, such as Ferguson, and playing the race card where it doesn’t belong.

This is not a slight towards African-American players. People of many races in the NFL believe this according to Marshall:

“It’s just not African-American players,” said Marshall. “I’ve had this conversation with Caucasian players as well. The most important part of this whole discussion is the process for the players. They just want the process to be fair and right. They just want to get it right.”

That is what every fan and player of the NFL wants, is to get the discipline process right. The first thing to do when you encounter a problem is to address what the problem is and racism is not the problem in the NFL. The problem is a corrupt figurehead that has yet to be ousted by the owners. Let’s put the blame where it belongs. This is no time to play cards.

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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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2015-2016 New England Patriots Preview

*Originally Posted on SportsTalkFeed

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. To replace those holes, 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, 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 just as 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.

With the Brady suspension still in limbo, the Patriots’ first four games are an uncertainty but 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 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.

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