NFL Post Week Two Power Rankings

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Week Two gave us a lot of action as teams that seemed down like the Vikings and Chargers proved to us they still have a pulse. Where do all 32 teams stack up after Week Two? Let’s find out.

1. Denver Broncos E
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Denver hasn’t really lost much at the QB position. Last year Peyton Manning was basically a game manager and that’s exactly what Trevor Siemian is doing. The defense won the game on Sunday. That won’t be the last time I say that this season.

2. New England Patriots E

Sep 18, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) reacts after thrownig an intercepted pass against the New England Patriots in the last seconds of play at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Miami Dolphins 31-24.  Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) reacts after thrownig an intercepted pass against the New England Patriots in the last seconds of play at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Miami Dolphins 31-24. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy G went out and threw for three TDs on Sunday, then he went out…literally. That didn’t stop Jacoby Brissett from coming in and going an efficient six of nine passing for almost 100 yards. Don’t let the score fool you, the Patriots/Dolphins game wasn’t anywhere near close.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers E

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 18:  DeAngelo Williams #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates his touchdown reception with Alejandro Villanueva #78 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth quarter during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field on September 18, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 18: DeAngelo Williams #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates his touchdown reception with Alejandro Villanueva #78 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth quarter during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field on September 18, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

The Steelers defense was a big question mark coming into the 2016 season. Through two weeks, this group has forced four turnovers and allowed just 16 points in each game. Behind an already powerful offense, this recipe could spell trouble for the rest of the league.

4. Arizona Cardinals
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Arizona redeemed themselves on Sunday after stomping Tampa Bay by 33 points. That might’ve been the game this defense needed to get back on track.

5. Carolina Panthers

Sep 18, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA;  Carolina Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (13) catches a pass during the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (13) catches a pass during the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina put up 46 points on a defense that was coming off of a shutout. This offense has only gotten scarier with the return of Kelvin Benjamin (13 receptions, 199 yards, and three TDs on the season)

6. Minnesota Vikings
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Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson are injured, but that didn’t stop Minnesota from beating a rival foe in the Green Bay Packers. Behind Stefan Diggs and this defense, Minnesota is clicking.

7. Green Bay Packers
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As said above, Green Bay took an L to the Vikings. Aaron Rodgers is starting to show he is mortal after having more turnovers than he has TDs on Sunday.

8. Houston Texans
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The Texans have the pieces to make a lot of noise and they are showing it. This was the second straight week the defense allowed 14 points or less.

9. Bengals
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AJ Green is the heart of this offense. He was bottled up all game against Pittsburgh, and it was evident Cincinnati couldn’t move the ball. Somebody else has to step up to take the pressure off of AJ and Andy Dalton.

10. Seattle Seahawks

Sep 18, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) looses the ball as he is sacked by Los Angeles Rams defensive end Robert Quinn (94) during the first half of a NFL game against the Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) looses the ball as he is sacked by Los Angeles Rams defensive end Robert Quinn (94) during the first half of a NFL game against the Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle has looked bad two straight weeks. The offense has only scored one TD. If not for a great defense, Seattle could have a top 10 draft pick this year.

11. New York Jets
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After a heart breaking loss in Week 1, New York came out and took care of business in Buffalo. They may want to add some extra “security” on Revis Island as it looks like it is constantly being intruded upon.

12. New York Giants
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Two weeks in a row the Giants defense held their opponent to teen points. An even better sign is that they held Drew Brees under 300 yards passing and one TD.

13. Baltimore Ravens

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens throws a touchdown pass to wide receiver Mike Wallace #17 during the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH – SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens throws a touchdown pass to wide receiver Mike Wallace #17 during the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Baltimore looked horrible early on against Cleveland after being down 20-0. They fought back and scored 25 unanswered points to stay undefeated on the season.

14. Oakland Raiders

A big win last week against New Orleans had this team feeling good. That was short lived. They didn’t protect their house well as they let Atlanta travel 3,000 miles across country and beat them in the black hole. Oakland has work to do, especially on defense. Earth to Khalil Mack!

15. Philadelphia Eagles
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Jim Schwartz really has this defense looking good. You know who else looks good? That D-II rookie QB by the name of Carson Wentz. The biggest stat for this young QB so far is he has not turned the ball over in a game yet.

16. Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City didn’t score a single TD Sunday against Houston. If they want to keep up with Denver, points other than field goals have to be scored.

17. Dallas Cowboys

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys carries the ball against the Washington Redskins in the second quarter at FedExField on September 18, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD – SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys carries the ball against the Washington Redskins in the second quarter at FedExField on September 18, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Dak Prescott once again came out cool, calm, and collected Sunday against Washington. He looked like he found a new favorite target in Dez Bryant as well. If these two can get on the same page, coupled by a run game, Dallas looks to be back on track.

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A huge performance by Jameis Winston in Week One had many thinking he would take the league my storm this year. Those thoughts were put to rest after His pathetic performance against Arizona. Winston had a reverse game from last week. He threw four INTs and one TD on Sunday.

19. Atlanta Falcons
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Atlanta lost a tough divisional game in Week 1, and asking them to travel from coast to coast seemed like a tall task. Behind Matt Ryans three TDs, Atlanta took care of business and is showing the league this offense can be very scary.

20. San Diego Chargers

San Diego is a play or two away from being 2-0. After giving up a huge lead to Kansas City in Week One, the Chargers made sure they kept the pedal to the metal against Jacksonville. Melvin Gordon is starting to show this team why they used a first round pick on him a year ago.

21. Detroit Lions
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Detroit lost to Tennessee Week Two, but they moved up two spots this week because teams that were in front of them look a lot worse. If Stafford can control his turnovers, Detroit can win some games this year.

22. Washington Redskins
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No run game for Washington on top of red zone turnovers by Kirk Cousins is what has Washington at 0-2 this season. If the trend holds true for the Redskins not being able to beat a winning team, Washington will be 0-3 after Week Three.

23. Buffalo Bills

The offense scored 31 points on Thursday against the Jets, but were unable to get the win. A few days later, the offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, was fired. If Rex Ryan doesn’t stop using scapegoats and turn this team around, especially the defense, he will be the next coach on this staff to go.

24. New Orleans Saints
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For just the third time since 2012, Drew Brees was held to under 300 yards passing and only one TD. The Saints defense stepped up against New York, but not when it counted.

25. Indianapolis Colts

After a heart breaking loss in Week One, Indianapolis faced off against a terrific Denver defense. Andrew Luck was unable to continue his dominance over the Broncos as he turned the ball over twice.

26. Miami Dolphins

Miami has no identity. Their Week One performance seemed promising after almost beating Seattle, but they were brought back down to reality after being spanked by New England. The final score may have been 31-24, but we all know the Miami Dolphins, Ryan Tannehill specifically, are the kings of garbage time stats.

27. Tennessee Titans
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Tennessee has only allowed one offensive TD this year and Demarco Murray has given this team a legitimate threat in the backfield. If Marcus Mariota can get in rhythm, Tennessee has a chance to take the AFC South. For now, let’s take it one week at a time.

28. San Francisco 49ers

The game was close for a half, but San Francisco was unable to keep up with Carolina in the end. Like Washington, San Francisco has to get a consistent running game to help out Blaine Gabbert.

29. Los Angeles Rams
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I would say this is a big win for Los Angeles, but they seem to have Seattle’s number. This is the fourth win in five games against the Seahawks. Will this be the win to spark this team?

30. Jacksonville Jaguars
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Is it a little drastic I dropped Jacksonville nine spots? Maybe, but they will only go as far as Blake Bortles takes them and with his turnover problem, that won’t be far. They made some moves on defense but they look like the same Jaguars we’ve known for years.

31. Chicago Bears
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Jay Cutler has to be the worst QB in the NFL. Not only his physical traits as a QB but his mentality as well. I see zero effort from him and he is holding Chicago back.

32. Cleveland Browns
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A QB that is the complete opposite of Jay Cutler is Josh McCown. He almost lead Cleveland to win over Baltimore even after being hurt. He wears his emotions on his sleeve and wants to be out on the field fighting with his teammates. Unfortunately it was the same outcome as always for the Browns, a loss.

Y.G.A.M.F : Week 1 NFL

Welcome all to the first ever “You Got A Minute Fam.” Yes we have unofficially trademarked this troll phrase and are now in the process of marketing it. All the slander minus the Cory Stats….let’s get to it!

Week 1 is the worse time of the year for NFL fans. Nobody ever gets credit the first week, if you have a good performance “it was week 1 you know”, if you have a bad performance “it was week 1 you know”, if you picked Carolina in your Elimination Pool…eh, I guess you can’t really use that excuse there…just blame Goodell!

You know...after a while you get used to this face
When you picked Carolina over Denver week 1 and now the crew got jokes but you have no comeback

Best Individual Offensive Performances:

QB: Matthew Stafford, DET- 79.5% completion, 340 yards, 3 touchdowns and minus the greatest Decepticon of all time! (Week 1 excuse: “it was the colts defense”)

"This guy gets it!!"
“This guy gets it!!”

Honorable Mention: Drew Brees, NO- 66.7% completion, 423 yards, 4 touchdowns and one L….a common theme for the gunslinger (Week 1 excuse: “dahhhhhh George Bush doesn’t care about black people??”)

Thinking: " stupid mom never lets me have dessert first. I can't wait til i'm an adult!"
Thinking: ” stupid mom never lets me have dessert first. I can’t wait til i’m an adult!”

RB: Does the league really even use these anymore?

DeAngelo Williams, PIT- 26 rushes, 143 yards, 6 catches and 2 touch downs (Week 1 excuse: it was the Redskins)

"So glad I picked you up for fantasy these first four games!"   "Me too bro!"
“So glad I picked you up for fantasy these first four games!”
“Me too bro!”

WR: A.J Green, CIN- 12 catches, 180 yards, 1 touchdown, An island claimed, my God I didn’t realize his numbers were that good Sunday. No wonder everyone keeps trying to take Revis out back and put him down quietly. (week 1 excuse: none….he didn’t have to do Revis like that man)

Warning: Images of AJ Green v Revis are graphic
Warning: Images of AJ Green v Revis are graphic

Honorable Mention: Antonio Brown, PIT- 8 catches, 126 yards, 2 touchdowns, Breelands Soul, and permanent claim to the space behind the Redskins secondary (week 1 excuse: “it’s nothin to a boss”)

(Daily Double Sound) Alex:  Suspect behavior is often overlooked in this league in the name of Fandom Me: What is the NFL?
(Daily Double Sound)
Alex: Suspect behavior is often overlooked in this league in the name of Fandom
Me: What is the NFL?

Best Individual Defensive Performances:

DL: Leonard Williams, NYJ- 2.5 sacks and 5 QB hits, 3 tackles and 3 assisted geez slow down big fella, you gonna hurt someone big fella (week 1 excuse: look at him he’s huge…you go block him)

Treating Andy like a red headed step....never mind
Treating Andy like a red headed step….never mind

LB: Kwon Alexander, TB- 17 tackles, 15 solo and 1 sack the motor was running full throttle sunday for Kwon (week 1 excuse: dude, nobody cares about the Buccaneers)

Kwon was using a fully automatic sunday with 17 tackles
Kwon was using a fully automatic sunday with 17 tackles

DB: Baushaud Breeland, WAS- 7 catches, 110 yards, 2 touchdowns receiving and 1 rushing touchdown, helped power a potent Pittsburgh offense through the air and on the ground (week 1 excuse: none, I hope you don’t expect him to hang his head)

Breeland showing off the strong hands on this TD catch
Breeland showing off the strong hands on this TD catch

Thank You Wallace ( the three hottest takes segment and in no particular order)

1) Alex Smith is a good quarterback

"Hey 49ers hows that hot hand working out for ya?"
“Hey 49ers hows that hot hand working out for ya?”

G**da****……why in the name of tebow do we have to go over this every single year every 2-3 weeks. We get it. Alex can win football games yaay!! He’s the guy in the control room and the chiefs are the scud missles bombing the opposition. Yes, the chiefs came back sunday down by almost two scores, yes he ran in the game winning TD, yes every other QB gets credit for stuff like that but NO he did not lead the chiefs to victory. An act of God saved Peters and the chiefs defense from death by bludgeoning when Keenan Allen went down from a non contact injury. And people say there is no God or He doesn’t have a sense of humor!

2) The NFL doesn’t care about Black QBs

Never fear GQ Cam is  here! Combating all our racial tension one interview at a time.....
Never fear GQ Cam is here! Combating all our racial tension one interview at a time…..

The BQBM movement was in full force after the Thursday night loss to the Broncos because Cam Newton took quite a few shots to the head througout the game not resulting in penalties. Fine’s are coming and the league has reiterated that it is thoroughly invested in the Concussion research and development in concussion prevention and CTE. Couldn’t you tell after they put him back in the game and ran him a lot after the fifth blow to the head. The guy crashed his car and it rolled over and everything he got up, ran through the tunnel and led his team to victory.

3) NFC east reactions (minus philly of course)

Come on NFC East lighten up like these two.....
Come on NFC East lighten up like these two…..

Redskins suck, Cowboys suck, Giants are division champs!!! Seriously does anybody in that division have patience besides the Giants? I feel like people finally realized Eli is special (ed) and they are nice to him to make up for all times they wished him dead.

***Honorable Mention for Hot Takes: Week 1 power rankings***

umm.. Cody O_O
umm.. Cody O_O

No Slander Just Facts on Jeff Fisher:

In conclusion I just want to remind everyone in America, Jeff Fisher sucks at his job, Jeff Fisher is still employed at his job, when his job gave him an extension Jeff Fisher had recently benched the #1 draft pick and loss by 28 to a division foe and arguably the weakest link not named the Rams. Jeff sucks, don’t be like Jeff Fisher!

The real american dream....getting paid for nothing
The real american dream….getting paid for nothing

****Don’t forget to check out all the content on the http://www.iconoclasticallybombastic.com/ website, Cody Stewart has put a lot of time into his articles so at least take the time to look at them and tell him how much you disagree.ygamfintro

Week 2 NFL Predictions, Vegas Betting, and Fan Duel Lineups

Week 2 should give us a lot of great games as seven of the 16 slated are divisional. Who will be able to pull it out? Let’s take a look.

Week 1 record: 10-6
ATS Week 1: 9-6-1
Record to date: 10-6
ATS to date : 9-6-1

New York Jets(-1) @ Buffalo Bills
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The Bills struggled offensively against Baltimore last week. Things won’t get any better as the Jets head to town coming off of a SEVEN sack outing against Andy Dalton. Advantage New York.

Outcome: Jets 23 Bills 13

Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers(-3.5)

Peter Diana / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 12/15/2013  PITTSBURGH: Steelers Antonio Brown takes a look behind him as he heads to the end zone after scoring his second touchdown of the game against the Bengals at Heinz Field PIttsburgh PA
Peter Diana / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
12/15/2013 PITTSBURGH: Steelers Antonio Brown takes a look behind him as he heads to the end zone after scoring his second touchdown of the game against the Bengals at Heinz Field PIttsburgh PA

Speaking of Andy Dalton, he might’ve been sacked a plethora of times, but he was deadly accurate against a good Jets defense. Pittsburgh though, is coming off of an offensive showcase where Deangelo Williams and Antonio Brown had two TDs a piece. More of the same will happen for Big Ben and company this weekend.

Outcome: Steelers 27 Bengals 23

Tennessee Titans @ Detroit Lions(-6)
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Tennessee faced a tough defense in Week 1. My how things change from week to week. Against a weak defense and a big game by Demarco Murray (135 yards rushing and two TDs), Tennessee will bring the Detroit Lions down to reality from their victory last weekend.

Outcome: Titans 27 Lions 21

Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns
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Cleveland struggled to put double digit points on the board last week against Philadelphia. A lot of the same will happen against Baltimore this Sunday. Four turnovers forced by the Ravens defense will have this game out of reach early.

Outcome: Ravens 31 Browns 13

Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins(-3)
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Dallas showed a lot of heart in Week 1. Washington on the other hand did not. Look for an elusive Dak Prescott and chip on the shoulder Alfred Morris to control the clock and wear down the Redskins.

Outcome: Cowboys 27 Redskins 24

New Orleans Saints @ New York Giants(-5)
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Last year when these two teams met, Eli Manning and Drew Brees combined to throw 13 TDs. Those numbers won’t be quite that high this weekend, but lead behind a five TD game by Brees, New Orleans will do something they didn’t do last weekend…hold on.

Outcome: Saints 38 Giants 34

San Francisco 49ers @ Carolina Panthers(-13.5)
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At one point Monday night, it looked as if the Carolina Panthers defense were disguised in 49er uniforms. San Fran pitched a shutout against LA, but the competition gets much tougher in Week 2. Chip Kelly has this team clicking and believing. Can they pull off the upset? It’ll be a lot closer then many may think.

Outcome: Panthers 28 49ers 24

Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots(-6.5)

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 29:  Julian Edelman #12 of the New England Patriots scores a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on October 29, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA – OCTOBER 29: Julian Edelman #12 of the New England Patriots scores a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on October 29, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

A statement win by Jimmy G and the New England Patriots against Arizona last week has this team believing another undefeated regular season can happen. Miami may have something to say about that after being 31 seconds away from pulling off an upset against Seattle.

Outcome: Patriots 23 Dolphins 17

Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans(-2.5)
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For 45 minutes last week, Kansas City looked horrible on both sides of the ball. A better offense and defense hosts Alex Smith and the Chiefs this week. Look for Lamar Miller to total 150 yards and two TDs to help Houston pull off the win.

Outcome: Texans 24 Chiefs 23

Seattle Seahawks(-6.5) @ Los Angeles Rams
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Los Angeles always plays Seattle tough. Over the past two years, LA is 3-1 against the Seahawks and is averaging 23 points against a defense that has ranked first over the last three years in points allowed. The Rams will stick with the Hawks for the first half, but won’t be able to keep up when it matters.

Outcome: Seahawks 24 Rams 10

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Arizona Cardinals(-6.5)
arz

Will the Cardinals really start the 2016 season 0-2? Another offensive performance like last week by Jameis Winston and the Bucs, and it could happen. Look for Arizona to force a costly turnover late in the game to seal the deal.

Outcome: Cardinals 31 Buccaneers 23

Jacksonville Jaguars @ San Diego Chargers(-3)

Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Nic Jacobs (85) and linebacker Jordan Tripp (58) block on special teams punt against the San Diego Chargers in an NFL Game Sunday, November 29, 2015, in Jacksonville, Fl. (Rick Wilson/Jacksonville Jaguars)
Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Nic Jacobs (85) and linebacker Jordan Tripp (58) block on special teams punt against the San Diego Chargers in an NFL Game Sunday, November 29, 2015, in Jacksonville, Fl. (Rick Wilson/Jacksonville Jaguars)

San Diego lost their biggest play-maker last Sunday when Keenan Allen went down with an ACL tear. Travis Benjamin will step up, but he won’t be enough. The Jags, behind a four TD game by Blake Bortles, will keep the Chargers winless.

Outcome: Jaguars 38 Chargers 24

Atlanta Falcons @ Oakland Raiders(-5)
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Oakland draws another NFC South team this weekend, and if the game mirrors last weeks, we are in for a show…but it won’t. Atlanta started off slow against Tampa Bay in Week 1, and will start and end slow against Oakland at the black hole.

Outcome: Raiders 28 Falcons 17

Indianapolis Colts @ Denver Broncos(-6)

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) is sacked by Denver Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Ware (94) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) is sacked by Denver Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Ware (94) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Peyton Manning faces the his former team again…..uh? Oh he retired? Well it looks like the Broncos can actually beat the Colts now. Against a very vanilla defense, look for Trevor Siemian to triple his TD performance from a week ago.

Outcome: Broncos 24 Colts 20

Green Bay Packers(-2) @ Minnesota Vikings
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Minnesota may put up a fight, but it doesn’t look promising for a win in their stadium opener Sunday Night.

Outcome: Packers 30 Vikings 13

Philadelphia Eagles @ Chicago Bears(-3)
phi

Things aren’t going to get any easier for Jay Cutler as another good defense comes to town. Chicago won’t stand a chance behind the four turnovers Philly creates.

Outcome: Eagles 31 Bears 17

lv
Setup Game of the Week:
San Francisco 49ers @ Carolina Panthers (-13.5)

Five Team Parlay
Baltimore (-6.5)
New Orleans (+5)
Seattle (-6.5)
Green Bay (-2)
Philadelphia (+3)

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Last Week: 111.6 points (Will do better)

Drew Brees – $9,200
Lamar Miller – $7,700
Demarco Murray – $7,400
Kelvin Benjamin – $7,500
Desean Jackson – $6,600
Sterling Shepard – $6,200
Colby Fleener – $5,600
Nick Novak – $4,600
Seahawks D/ST – $5,200

Total: $60,000

Power Rankings: Post Week 1

Eight of the sixteen games Week 1 provided us with were won by four points or less. There were a lot of surprises and many disappointments. Where do the teams rank after Week 1? Let’s find out.

1. Denver Broncos
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A lot was lost in defense in the offseason, but Von Miller and company stepped up to the plate with a bend but not break attitude. QB Trevor Siemian wasn’t to shabby either in his first career start.

2. New England Patriots
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A win over a lot of people’s Super Bowl favorite, without the best QB and TE in the game? Yeah, New England did that.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 12: Running back DeAngelo Williams #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers scores a fourth quarter touchdown past strong safety DeAngelo Hall #23 of the Washington Redskins at FedExField on September 12, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD – SEPTEMBER 12: Running back DeAngelo Williams #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers scores a fourth quarter touchdown past strong safety DeAngelo Hall #23 of the Washington Redskins at FedExField on September 12, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

No Le’Veon Bell? No problem. DeAngelo Williams totaled for over 170 yards and two TDs. I would’ve harped over Antonio Brown but what’s the point? The performance he displayed Monday night has become expected. Anything less is considered a bad game.

4. Green Bay Packers

JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 11:  Jordy Nelson #87 of the Green Bay Packers runs after catching a pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars in their game at EverBank Field on September 11, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL – SEPTEMBER 11: Jordy Nelson #87 of the Green Bay Packers runs after catching a pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars in their game at EverBank Field on September 11, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Aaron Rodgers and company got into a cat fight with the Jaguars. Having Jordy Nelson back has opened this offense back up. Nothing to panic about over here.

5. Arizona Cardinals
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“This defense is going to be one of the best this year.” That wasn’t on display Sunday night. Arizona lost to a backup QB that was missing it’s best target.

6. Carolina Panthers

Sep 8, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) looks to pass the ball under pressure from Denver Broncos outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett (48) in the third quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 8, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) looks to pass the ball under pressure from Denver Broncos outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett (48) in the third quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

It’s nothing like ending your season last year and opening your season this year, in the same fashion. Losing to a great defense is acceptable, even though there were many missed helmet to helmet calls on Cam Newton. Carolina will bounce back, especially with a healthy Kelvin Benjamin.

7. Seattle Seahawks
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Speaking of panic, if you would’ve told me the Seahawks were going to beat the Dolphins by two measly points in Seattle, I would’ve called the insane asylum. Seattle needs to get that offensive line straightened out ASAP.

8. Cincinnati Bengals
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Andy Dalton had a helluva game against the Jets completing 77% of his passes for over 350 yards. More performances like that could lead Cinncy into the top 5 of this list in the future.

9. Kansas City Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 11:  Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs is congratulated by teammates after scoring a touchdown to win the game against the San Diego Chargers in overtime at Arrowhead Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO – SEPTEMBER 11: Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs is congratulated by teammates after scoring a touchdown to win the game against the San Diego Chargers in overtime at Arrowhead Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Many have this team as the AFC West favorite. If not for Chargers WR Keenan Allen going down with an ACL tear, Kansas City might’ve been booed out of Arrowhead Stadium.

10. Oakland Raiders

Michael Crabtree #15 of the Oakland Raiders catches a pass over Delvin Breaux #40 of the New Orleans Saints completing a two-point conversion to take the lead late in the second half of a game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 11, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Michael Crabtree #15 of the Oakland Raiders catches a pass over Delvin Breaux #40 of the New Orleans Saints completing a two-point conversion to take the lead late in the second half of a game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 11, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Go for two when you can just kick the XP and force OT? Hell yeah! Jack Del Rio lives on the wild side. These are the games Oakland has to win to be considered a threat.

11. Minnesota Vikings
The offense played horrible, but the defense stepped up and held Tennessee under 17 points. They have to get AP going to be successful offensively this year.

12. New York Jets
Apparently A.J. Green has bought Revis Island because he absolutely owned DR Sunday afternoon. This secondary can’t have QBs like Andy Dalton slanging the ball wherever he wants if they want to compete this year, even if the front seven sacked Dalton seven times.

13. Baltimore Ravens
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Baltimore did a good job of containing Lesean McCoy and Tyrod Taylor. Mike Wallace is proving he can still take the top off of defenses as well that could lead to one on one matchups for other WRs.

14. New York Giants

Sep 11, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz (80) reacts after catching a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. New York won 20-19. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 11, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz (80) reacts after catching a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. New York won 20-19. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants Run Defense looked really good, being able to get off of blocks against the best OL in the league and make tackles. The Run Offense looked pretty good as well.

15. Houston Texans
Brock Osweilers first career throw as a Houston Texan resulted in an interception. He was able to settle in after that. How about that Lamar Miller guy? Over 110 yards in his Texan debut.

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Jameis “The Great” Winston is starting the season off with a bang. Four TDs against a “new and improved” Falcons defense. The Tampa Defense was good last year and will do the same this year. If this offense plays like that every week, watch out!

17. Dallas Cowboys
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A tough divisional loss to start the season is pretty devastating, but with a rookie QB that showed poise and a backup RB that was very efficient, Dallas shouldn’t hang their heads to low. With a little more patience from Ezekiel Elliott behind that massive line, Dallas will win games this year.

18. Philadelphia Eagles
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Yeah, it may have been the Browns, but a very efficient first drive by rookie QB Carson Wentz that lead to his first career TD set the tone for the Philadelphia Eagles. That defense looked good with Jim Schwartz at the helm as Defensive Coordinator.

19. Buffalo Bills
Would’ve expected a better offensive showing from Tyrod Taylor and company. The defense played well, but the offense has to put up more than single digits to win these type of games.

20. Washington Redskins
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This game had the feel of a playoff atmosphere. And by that I mean the Redskins start off well and have all the momentum against a good team, only to self-destruct and have the game out of reach. Kirk Cousins threw at least one TD in every game last year. He started this season off with a goose egg against an average, at best, defense.

21. Jacksonville Jaguars
Another game that came down to the final minutes, Jacksonville wasn’t able to complete the comeback against Green Bay. This team won’t be an easy out on the schedule.

22. New Orleans Saints
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Up 14 in the fourth quarter just to give up 22 points and lose by a late two point conversion? Yeah, that’s the summary for the Saints last weekend. The offense is there, but the defense has to get better to at least competed for a Wild Card spot.

23. Detroit Lions
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Theo Riddick came through for Detroit. Ameer Abdullah didn’t look bad either. Offensively this team doesn’t look like they miss Calvin Johnson. Shootouts will be the only way the win games this year.

24. Miami Dolphins
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Many believed it would be a blow out , but Miami had other plans. Even though they didn’t win the game, this team showed a lot offbeat and played one of the NFC’s toughest teams right down to the end. This type of game can give a team a lot of confidence.

25. Indianapolis Colts
Sunday was filled with comebacks. That’s exactly what Indianapolis allowed Detroit to do to them. Like the Saints, the Colts offense is basically there, but the defense is a liability.

26. Atlanta Falcons
Julio Jones was kept in check for most of the game, and Devonta Freeman looks to have lost his hold as the number one back in this offense.

27. San Diego Chargers
Losing Keenan Allen for the season is a huge blow to this San Diego Offense. Before he went down, they were clicking on all cylinders being up 27-10. After though, KC went on to score 23 unanswered points.

28. San Francisco 49ers

Sep 12, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Shaun Draughn (24) rushes against Los Angeles Rams strong safety T.J. McDonald (25) during the first half of an NFL game at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 12, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Shaun Draughn (24) rushes against Los Angeles Rams strong safety T.J. McDonald (25) during the first half of an NFL game at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Chip Kelly’s offense looked good Monday night against a decent Rams defense. The defense was what everybody was talking about though, as they pitched a shutout.

29. Chicago Bears

Sep 11, 2016; Houston, TX, USA;  Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) grabs the leg of Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) during the second half at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 11, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) grabs the leg of Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) during the second half at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Langford showed this team will be able to manage some without Matt Forte and Kevin White will help take pressure off of Alshon Jeffery . Outside of that, nothing has changed for Chicago

30. Tennessee Titans
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This defense played well against Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings. Not one offensive TD was allowed and AP was bottled up. If this offense can match the effort put up by the defense, Tennessee can surprise many in the AFC South.

31. Los Angeles Rams
Zero points in offense and 28 points allowed on defense is a recipe for disaster. To make matters worse, the player that LA drafted number one overall, wasn’t even active. On the bright side, the Rams were able to showcase there punter many, many times…..It’s going to be a long season in LA.

32. Cleveland Browns
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RGIII on I.R. after the first game of the season? Nothing will ever change. The end.

Week 1 Predictions and Fan Duel Lineup

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It seemed as if it was moving at a snails pace, but football is finally back. With a lot of interesting matchups in Week 1, we may find out quickly who is a contender, and who is a pretender. Which teams take home the W? Let’s check it out.

Carolina Panthers @ Denver Broncos

Feb 7, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart (28) against the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 7, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart (28) against the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Since the NFL moved the first game of the season to TNF with the host being the defending Super Bowl Champions in 2004, the team that held up the Lombardy Trophy seven months prior are 10-2. Make that 10-3 after the Carolina Panthers beat the Denver Broncos in a nail bitter thanks to Cam Newtons two passing touchdowns.

Outcome: Panthers 20 Broncos 17

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Green Bay Packers
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Many believe the Jaguars can be a playoff contender in 2016. They will be tested early, especially this week. Behind Eddie Lacys 120 yards rushing and one score, the Jaguars will have to build on something come week 2.

Outcome: Packers 28 Jaguars 24

Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens
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This game will be all about the defense. With a healthy Joe Flacco though, Baltimore squeezes out a win over the Rex and Rob Ryan led Bills.

Outcome: Ravens 17 Bills 13

San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs
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The Chargers come in the healthiest they have been in years, as the Vhiefs limp along missing a few pieces to that defense. In somewhat of a shootout look for the Chiefs defense to make a critical stop late in the 4th.

Outcome: Chiefs 31 Chargers 27

Minnesota Vikings @ Tennessee Titans
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No Teddy Bridgewater? No problem for Minnesota….at least in week 1. Look for the Minnesota Vikings defense to stop almost everything Tennessee throws, or runs for that matter, at them.

Outcome: Vikings 24 Titans 9

Chicago Bears @ Houston Texans

Nov 11, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA;  Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) makes a tackle on Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) during the first quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 11, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) makes a tackle on Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) during the first quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

A new signal caller and healthy running back has Houston feeling good about their chances this year. A matchup against Chicago in week 1 is exactly what the doctor prescribed. Behind Lamar Millers two rushing touchdowns, Houston will start the season off in a positive way.

Outcome: Texans 24 Bears 14

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons
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A great divisional matchup to start off the season will let us know if Tampa Bay is who we think they are. Thanks to the leg of second round pick Aguyo, Tampa Bay starts 1-0 on both the season and in the division.

Outcome: Buccaneers 23 Falcons 20 OT

Cleveland Browns @ Philadelphia Eagles
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The RGIII era has begun in Cleveland. So has the Carson Wentz era in Philadelphia. Thanks to a better defense, look for the Eagles to apply an ample amount of pressure on Griffin and force a total of four turnovers.

Outcome: Eagles 23 Browns 10

Oakland Raiders @ New Orleans Saints
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Oaklands defense will be great this year. It just won’t be on display in week 1 as Drew Brees and his new weapons light up the scoreboard.

Outcome: Saints 31 Raiders 23

Cincinnati Bengals @ New York Jets
Jets Bengals Football

With no weapon outside of AJ Green in the receiving corps, the Jets defense won’t have to game plan too hard. Behind a defense that will cause three turnovers and a QB that will throw two touchdowns, the Jets will take care of Cincinnati.

Outcome: Jets 24 Bengals 16

Detroit Lions @ Indianapolis Colts
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Andrew Luck is back and healthy. Can he return to form from two years ago? With a game against a soft Lions defense, Luck should be able to get back on track and lead his team to a W.

Outcome: Colts 27 Lions 24

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys
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Throw out the records and what each team looks like on paper when these two meet up. With a rookie quarterback starting, the Giants will be able to force a couple of turnovers and pull this game out at the end.

Outcome: Giants 31 Cowboys 20

Miami Dolphins @ Seattle Seahawks
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It’s hard to play in Seattle, that much we know. It’s harder to play in Seattle when traveling 3,000 miles across country. Seattle will have this game won at halftime when the score is 24-3.

Outcome: Seahawks 31 Dolphins 10

New England Patriots @ Arizona Cardinals
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No Tom Brady? A BIG problem for the New England Patriots. Jimmy Garoppolo won’t have an easy night against this fire powered defense. Will we see NC State alum, Jimmy Brissett, sometime during this game? It may run across Bill Belichicks mind when Garoppolo has three interceptions by halftime.

Outcome: Cardinals 27 Patriots 16

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Washington Redskins
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Josh Norman has his work cut out for him in the first three weeks of the season. Just focusing on week 1, be prepared to see Antonio Brown dominate him when the two are matched up. Big Ben will find Brown for two touchdowns and lead the steelers to a W.

Outcome: Steelers 27 Redskins 17

Los Angeles Rams @ San Francisco 49ers
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I guess the NFL struggled to pick a second MNF game during week 1. Les by a better defense, the Rams will pull off the win and spoil Chip Kelly’s first game with the 49ers.

Outcome: Rams 20 49ers 13

Fan Duel
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Carson Palmer – $7,900
David Johnson – $8,800
Latavius Murray – $6,800
Deandre Hopkins – $8,400
Golden Tate – $6,900
Travis Benjamin – $5,600
Travis Kelce – $6,400
Roberto Aguayo – $4,500
Eagles D/ST – $4,800

Total: $59,900

The RC Report with special guest Ross Tucker

Ross and RC preview the upcoming NFL Season.

0:00- 2:45-Ross’ trademark podcast intro

2:45-6:00-Free Agency and Josh Norman

6:00-7:55-Bosa holdout

8:00-10:20-Will the Panthers and Cam Regress?

10:21-12:45-Breakthrough teams

12:45- 13:46-Are the Cowboys legit Contenders?

13:46- end-NFC contenders(Green bay, Arizona, Seattle)

Tucker is the host of the popular Ross Tucker Football Podcast as well as the Fantasy Feast: Eatin, Even Money, and The College Draft podcasts all available at RossTucker.com

If you enjoyed this interview or any of our others help spread the word by subscribing on Itunes and giving us a rating. And as always you can find all of our content at Iconoclasticallybombastic.com

Thurman v Porter: The Road To Supremacy Starts Here

On this day, June 25, 2016 two young guns face off to what most are hoping will be the start of a series of challenging match ups at the 147 pound division. Keith “One Time” Thurman, a knockout artist with the potential to end a fight with one punch versus Shawn “Showtime” Porter, a gritty blue collar fighter. The records of both men are impressive given their young careers as Thurman is 26-0 and Porter is 26-1-1 but how will they match up inside the ring?

Thurman’s Assets

Although it has been a few fights...."One Time" power is still very much a concern for opponents facing Keith Thurman
Although it has been a few fights….”One Time” power is still very much a concern for opponents facing Keith Thurman

Thurman is a very athletic fighter with strong hands. I would say after watching both fighters for a while that he’s the more fundamentally sound fighter. He keeps his guard high and works behind quick feet and hands. Rare is it that we find a combination of both speed and power but in Thurman’s case there has been flashes of that throughout his career. Thurman has shown a wide array of punches in his repertoire all with ko potential as he’s managed to stop fights with hooks, jabs, uppercuts both to the body and head. Defensively Thurman is no slouch as he fully utilizes his athletic ability able to slip the majority of hard punches thrown back at him. He has a more traditional guard with his chin tucked and ,thanks to his quick hands, has shown the potential to be an effective counter puncher which makes him extremely dangerous in the ring. For a young fighter Thurman seems to be fully aware of his capabilities as both a knockout puncher and effective counter puncher however if there is one flaw in his attack it’s his reluctance to build behind the jab. With his quick hands he is more than capable of firing off jabs that can be effective due to his strength. Unfortunately with a name like “one time” he gets caught looking for that “one punch” and it can lead to fights being made a lot harder than what they should be, especially if his opponent has a strong chin and good stamina. I personally worry about Thurman’s love for power punching, in the fight before last versus former champion Robert ” Ghost” Guerrero, Thurman landed 211 punches the entire fight. Out of that 211 a 172 were power punches. In his last fight according to compubox Thurman landed just 13 of his 137 jabs thrown for a 9% connect rating. Words can’t really describe how bad that is and if there isn’t any improvement in this area from Thurman he will be in for a tough fight tonight.

Porter’s Assets

It's not always pretty but it wins for Shawn Porter who used to go by the nickname "Pitbull Porter" for his aggressive style
It’s not always pretty but it wins for Shawn Porter who used to go by the nickname “Pitbull Porter” for his aggressive style

Porter does not possess the athleticism of Thurman inside the ring. He’s not as slick or fluent in his movement with his offense or defense as a matter of fact in contrast to Thurman he’s far more rugged. But what he lacks in the skill department he makes up for in tenacity and grit. Porter is an in your face type of fighter, he loves to make fights ugly and uncomfortable for opponents. When I say he likes to make fights ugly it’s rare that Porter allows opponents to box by staying on the outside. He seems very comfortable in fighting throwing wild punches and pushing his opponent around. I hate to say it so bluntly but there’s just not much special about Porters offensive or defensive attributes. He’s a solid fighter and has come a long way with his father as his trainer but I don’t think he does anything better than Thurman. However, with that being said the one thing that has always kept him in the fights and allowed him to become a champion is his will. In my opinion Porter has gotten this far by outworking his opponents more so than relying on any type of skill. In the loss to Kell Brooks a few fights ago I think we got a glimpse of what Porter can do when placed in the ring with someone who possesses a little boxing IQ and skill. Porter did not look good in that fight and was beat to the punch by a cleaner and smarter attack. Brooks effectively countered Porter’s aggression with sharp counter punches and footwork. He also dictated the spacing in the ring due to Porter’s inability to walk him down. The fight was close but in the end the victory went to the sharper fighter in Brooks. Many people like to point to the victory over Broner when they talk about Porter but honestly Broner isn’t that skilled of a fighter.

Keys To Victory

it's been a while since boxing has had two up and coming fighters face off.  Porter v Thurman has generated some excitement among fans of the sport
it’s been a while since boxing has had two up and coming fighters face off. Porter v Thurman has generated some excitement among fans of the sport

For Thurman to win I believe he has to utilize his quick feet and counter punching ability. If he falls in love with the power punches and gets himself tired that’s when Porter can capitalize. Thurman possesses all the tools to dispose of Porter in 7-8 rounds max but he’s yet to fully tap into that potential. He loves knock outs and hasn’t realized that they don’t come so easily when you step up in competition. All the skills like power, speed, and footwork favor Thurman so I think he just needs rely on those things inside the ring in unison. Not just speed or power and sometimes his footwork, but rather everything that he possesses at his disposal.

Porter on the other hand has to be the intelligent fighter. This is also something that I worry about a little as I have not seen Porter and his camp execute any other game plan besides out lasting his opponent and overwhelming them with pressure. This tactic will not work this fight. Porter can try it but I honestly would not recommend walking into Thurman punches as a gameplan. It’s not talked about much but the early portion of Porter’s career was at 154 pounds and I believe as an amateur he has fought as high as 160 so it is not like he can’t take a punch. The combination of the speed and power of a clean Thurman punch however can lead to flash knockdowns and if that happens Porter will find himself in an uphill battle that he does not want to participate in. Porter will need to box to score points but also make it the typical ugly Porter fight. I have noted Thurman’s lack of jab accuracy and that can come into play with a guy who likes to come forward and crowd. If Porter can avoid the one timer he shouldn’t have much of a problem in the later rounds from Thurman much like Robert Guerrero did.

Fight and Prediction

Who will it be One Time?
Who will it be One Time?
Or Showtime
Or Showtime

Thurman has all the tools and in all honesty a guy like Porter should not be hanging around after rounds 8 and 9 with someone of Thurman’s caliber. Porter to me is just a tough kid and Thurman is the real rising star in the sport of boxing. With that being said, Thurman does not fully utilize all his tools in his fights. He’s been somewhat of a dud for the last year and Porter always gives his best effort and that could be enough. I have the fight starting a little slow with both fighters feeling each other out. I do not expect a display of high skill as these are still two guys finding their way in the game. Thurman always goes for the knockout but he will find himself in his third consecutive fight where quite honestly “one time” will not be enough. This fight will go to the cards with a unanimous decision for Keith “One Time” Thurman

….who will call out Floyd Mayweather and say Pacquiao retired to avoid fighting him!

Porter v Thurman
Porter v Thurman

“It’s Not Bragging If You Can Back It Up!” Why Muhammad Ali Truly Was The Greatest Of All Time

There will always be nothing but respect from me for Muhammad Ali as an athlete and as a man. Ali was a polarizing individual, quite possibly the most polarizing individual in American Sports history. From his stance on the Vietnam war and civil rights, to his ability to rhyme and entertain the masses with his words, wherever Muhammad Ali went the world was watching and listening. There are so many people who have so many personal stories and interactions with the Champ and I truly wish I could have met him before he passed however the closest I could get to Ali was one of his old training sites in Miami. I was on my way back to Richmond and had stumbled upon the gym looking for a gym to exercise in while I was in Miami and every day I went by it was closed. It just so happened that someone was cleaning the place when I was headed out and allowed me to walk in. To think that I was standing in the same spot that an 18 year old Ali (at the time he was still known as Cassius Clay) stood when he requested the services of Angelo Dundee, trained and beat Sonny Liston, it was almost too much for me to handle as a boxing fan. I remember standing there looking at the pictures on the wall, a few of his belts and even throwing some punches at a heavy bag that he apparently used (not really sure I believe that but it looked extremely ancient) bouncing around attempting to shuffle my feet. I might have stayed in there for hours if the janitor did not kick me out. I soaked in the moment one final time, took a few pictures before my phone battery died and went on to board the plane back to Richmond. Looking back it never dawned on me to think of a time when Ali would not be here but that day has sadly come and while others have more credentials than I when it comes to speaking about Ali, I feel the need to put some words to paper for someone that has inspired not only me but so many others.

‘It’s hard to be humble, when you’re as great as I am.’

A young Ali was quite the entertainer
A young Ali was quite the entertainer

Nobody had the gift of gab like Muhammad Ali. His only match for wit and comebacks might have been his partner in crime Howard Cosell. Their back and forth interviews are as comical as they are informative. A young Ali was surgical with his verbal barrages on opponents outside the ring. It did not just start with calling Foreman ugly or Frazier a gorilla, Ali was rapping and styling around fighters before he even got a championship fight! ”To make America the greatest is my goal, so I beat the Russian and I beat the Pole. And for the USA won the medal of gold. The Greeks said you’re better than the Cassius of old” This was just one of many examples of a young Ali establishing his place as one of the best talkers in boxing early and has he would later hint, it was all part of his plan to build himself to be larger than life. Boxing is just as much of a mental sport as it is a physical sport and while we can say that about every sport, there is something about 1 v 1 competition that takes the mental game to a whole other level. When Ali said something you know he meant it and he had no problem with letting you or anybody else know about it. Ali was so good at trash talking that there is even some out here who think he helped create rap as we know it. He was without a doubt one of a kind when it came to trash talk.

‘I am the greatest, I’m the greatest that ever lived. I don’t have a mark on my face’

After defeating Liston  ( a man many viewed as indestructible) a young Ali really shocked the world at the age of 22
After defeating Liston ( a man many viewed as indestructible) a young Ali really shocked the world at the age of 22

Often times when we look back on our sports legends and heroes we tend to skip over the beginning and just start at the good part. With that being said most people when they talk about Ali just start with Sonny Liston, the iconic picture, and the “I am the greatest” quote. I always find it funny that prior to the Sonny Liston fight and young Ali had be hurt a few times in his career and even had Liston ringside at a fight commenting that he couldn’t fight Ali because “they would arrest him for murder.” Ali did not do himself any favors before stepping in the ring with Sonny Liston as he had been knocked down twice and in one fight against Henry Cooper needed the assistance of his corner to stall long enough to get his wits about him before the bell. With that being said I think a lot of people do not realize just how imposing of a champion Sonny Liston was at the time. Liston was so intimidating that the man who had Ali out on his feet , Henry Cooper and his trainer, were quoted as saying if Liston won they had no intentions of meeting him in the ring or “walking down the street.” So when the 7:1 underdog Ali won and declared himself “The Greatest” he kind of had a point. There have been many claims to the title of the greatest since Ali’s time but in regards to boxing there hasn’t been many who have a resume as impressive as Ali. He was a champion at 22, defeated two of the hardest punchers in the sports history in Liston and Foreman, and has one of the most memorable rivalries in sports history with Joe Frazier. If not for the layoff and political distractions involved with his affiliation with Nation of Islam Ali could have been even greater as a fighter than what we know now.

‘I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.’

Not everyone was happy about Ali's conversion to Islam.  Malcolm X guided him early in his career but when Malcolm split from the Nation, he and Ali grew distant
Not everyone was happy about Ali’s conversion to Islam. Malcolm X guided him early in his career but when Malcolm split from the Nation, he and Ali grew distant

Often times when we as fans look at sporting events we never learn the full story behind what it took to create that event. Those stories behind the events are more entertaining than the event itself at times and Ali versus Liston is no exception. Leading up to the first fight Ali was known to hang with Malcolm X and members of the Nation of Islam (henceforth referred to as the NOI). At the time of the first Liston fight the NOI was considered a radical group of African-Americans who hated white people and preached violence. As the story goes the promoters threatened to call off the fight if Ali did not renounce the NOI and his affiliation with Malcolm X. Ali’s father even spoke out against he NOI stating ” They ruined my two boys, muslims tell them to hate white people, hate their mother, and hate women.” There’s no telling how hectic things became but Malcolm X eventually agreed to keep a low profile until the night of the fight and through all the criticism and pressure Ali never renounced the NOI. It is said that the promotion loss close to $300,000 because of this and you can imagine the reaction from the world when before the second fight with Liston, Muhammad Ali publicly embraced the NOI, Malcolm X and Elijah Mohammad. The NOI did not fully embrace Ali until after he defeated Liston the first time, under the guidance of Malcolm X, Ali would learn to embrace his new found platform as heavyweight champion and also find his calling in the Islamic faith. Elijah Mohammad himself gave the name Mohammad Ali to the young Cassius Clay and although there seems to be a few different translations the consensus is that it means “one worthy of praise.”

‘Get up and fight, sucker!’

probably the most iconic photo of his boxing career.  The short lived Ali v Liston II is still debated today.  This photo is often misinterpreted as Ali gloating but in actuality he was upset that the anchor punch had actually knocked Liston down.  " Get up and fight sucka"
probably the most iconic photo of his boxing career. The short lived Ali v Liston II is still debated today. This photo is often misinterpreted as Ali gloating but in actuality he was upset that the anchor punch had actually knocked Liston down. ” Get up and fight sucka”

Prior to the first fight there was a carefully worded rematch clause that allowed Liston’s promoters to promote Ali’s next fight. Rematch clauses are the norm in today’s boxing however at this particular time the WBA forbid rematch clauses and seeing that the information was kept separate from the main contract it did not sit well with the sanctioning body. So when the rematch was announced the WBA stripped Ali and dropped Liston from their rankings. Due to his open affiliation with the NOI and controversial figure Malcolm X the second fight with Liston was more of a circus than an actual fight. Several months before the fight would take place Malcolm X left the NOI and severed his friendship with Ali. When he was assassinated rumors spread that his supporters would retaliate by attacking Ali. There was controversy with Liston as well, rumors started to circulate that his promoter was tied to the mafia then Liston was arrested for drunk driving and carrying a pistol. This scared many boxing commissions from approving the fight so when Massachusetts said they would host it looked as though the promotion was saved.All the commotion and fear surrounding both fighters is ultimately why the fight ended up in a little known town of Lewiston, Maine. The second Liston fight proved to be one of the most debated knockouts in boxing history. The fight started and ended before most people even sat down and at the time was one of the quickest knockouts in heavyweight history. I’m sure we have all seen the iconic photo of Ali standing over top of a groggy Liston but many people don’t like to talk about the actual event that led up to that photo. Liston went for the kill on Ali and was countered with a right hand flush on the chin. The debate comes in as to whether Liston was actually hit or not and some say the photo taken isn’t Ali bragging but angrily telling Liston to get up because he did not think he hit him. The distraction caused by Ali interrupted the refs count and while Liston eventually got up the timekeeper had officially counted him out. The fight ended at exactly 2:12 and Ali had once again shocked the world.

‘Man I ain’t got no quarrel with them Vietcong’

The draft dodging accusations were detrimental to Ali's early career.  In the face of extreme public scrutiny he never backed down
The draft dodging accusations were detrimental to Ali’s early career. In the face of extreme public scrutiny he never backed down

With such a quick rise to fame and the backing of powerful figures around the nation it would have been very easy for Ali to lose himself. Yet we find that the young Ali was willing to risk everything for what he believed in. I think a lot of people are unaware that Ali had enlisted in the military two years before he was arrested for draft dodging. His IQ score wasn’t high enough and when the government wanted to increase their military presence in Vietnam they lowered the standards which meant Ali qualified. It is said that support of the Vietnam war was over 50% when Ali refused enter the draft. A month after Ali’s famous line, support for the war dropped below 50% and in a year it was as low as 27%. Ali essentially destroyed his career after denouncing the war, he was stripped of his boxing license in all 50 states and publicly ridiculed. People he once considered friends, like Jackie Robinson, spoke out in opposition to Ali’s stance. How could Ali, a man who has found success in America, turn his back on his fellow Americans fighting in Vietnam? Ali remained steadfast though, questioning the reasons behind the war and methods of recruitment. “The government had a system where the rich man’s son went to college, and the poor man’s son went to war,” he said. In order to try to maintain some level of income Ali was forced to fight outside of the United States but no closed circuit establishment show his fight so all the promotions lost money. Eventually Ali started traveling the country speaking out on the war at colleges and rallies around the country. Knowing what I know about Ali the person I feel as though he would frown at the idea of calling his three and a half year hiatus from boxing a waste. In fact he was very productive and influential to the civil rights movement and anti-war movement of the 60’s and as support for the war faded many people began to support Ali and in 1971 his conviction was overturned. For all that he did in his career Ali’s stance on the Vietnam war and willingness to stand fast to his beliefs amid criticism from even people he called friend was undoubtedly one of the main attributes that make him The Greatest of All Time.

‘Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.’

"I had seen Frazier kill many a man with that left hand.  Ali took it and then got up in three seconds" - Ringside observer at the "Fight of the Century"  which would see Ali lose for the first time in his career
“I had seen Frazier kill many a man with that left hand. Ali took it and then got up in three seconds” – Ringside observer at the “Fight of the Century” which would see Ali lose for the first time in his career

Post Vietnam protest Ali bothers me a little. I have always personally wondered when he should have stopped fighting and why he kept going. Ali did not seem to possess the lust for money that his predecessor to boxing greatness Sugar Ray Robinson had. He clearly did not care what others thought about him or his legacy in the ring. So I always find myself looking for something, some bread crumb as to why he kept going. Most men take a lay off from boxing and fight a few tune ups, exhibitions and call it a career. Ali came back did the tune ups, exhibitions and then went straight for the top. And it is in his second ascension to the top that I start to see quotes and interviews with Ali that tell me that he knew his work towards greatness was not done. Ali’s fights of the 70’s solidified his hall of fame status and supremacy over the best heavyweights of his era. There’s the trilogy with Joe Frazier their first fight being called ” the Fight of the Century.” The trilogy with Ken Norton and of course the infamous Rumble in the Jungle with George Foreman. The Rumble in the Jungle posed the same threat as the Sonny Liston fight, a strong, knockout artist champion who was coming off a dominant victory. Ali was passed his prime by that time to many observers and his rope-a-dope tactic was ill advised and extremely dangerous. If you look the 70’s Ali took a lot of punishment from some of the heaviest hands in boxing history. This combined with his longevity in the sport is what many believe led to him being diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Ali’s career personified him as an individual, sure he liked to talk to the talk but it was always more satisfying to prove people wrong and defy the odds. As he stated “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

‘I’ve made my share of mistakes along the way, but if I have changed even one life for the better, I haven’t lived in vain.

“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”
“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

It amazes me how many things he has done that have went under the radar but seem to be jumping out at us today. “Ali stops a gang fight, Ali talks man out of suicide, Ali negotiates the release of 15 American hostages in Iraq.” Looking back on his life you almost get the feeling that even if it were made into a motion picture, the original story would be more entertaining than anything we could create. Ali was larger than life all the way up until his death and the fact that he remained human is what truly makes him the Greatest Of All Time. We all possess the courage to stand up for something when it’s not right, we all possess the ability to inspire, to change but there are not many of us that are willing to be selfless and carry the burdens of our fellow man. Ali did not do things for attention and admiration, Muhammad Ali changed the world by simply being himself. He utilized his fame and notoriety to routinely draw attention to society’s wrongs and the negative connotations associated with being a Muslim. Often times when he helped African-Americans he would be quoted as saying “I am your brother.” In tribute we see a lot of people saying there will never be another Ali and I believe they are right. Our athletes today are too careful with what they say and too aware of what others think about them. They say a lot of things but they do not act on half of what they say so their words ring hollow. Ali was just as much about action, inside and outside the ring, as he was about talking. As with any good story even Ali’s must come to an end. Ali retired from boxing officially in 1981 long pass the time many thought he should have hung it up. The rope-a-dope tactic he utilized for the latter portion of his career was strategically brilliant and also came at a heavy cost. By 1984 Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, something many believe to be a direct result of the punishment taken primarily during the 70s. And while he eventually lost his ability to speak, Ali continued to inspire and lead by example without any voice all the way up to his death. Muhammad Ali never looked away from the injustice facing African-Americans and Muslims alike. He worked tirelessly to become a beacon of the right way for his people and while society has negative views on both African-Americans and Muslims, Ali remained the best example of how we as a people can be better and do better for one another. He is not only one of the greatest boxer of all time, he is one of the greatest human beings of all time. Rest In Peace to the Champ.

Editors note: In recent days there has been a wave of pro black support for Ali. My goal with this article was not to pull Ali to one side, he was apologetically black without a doubt, however he belonged to the world. He was a servant of the people and while he looked out for HIS people most, do not sully his image by making him a symbol for racial violence. Ali stood for peace and equality. We would do well to honor his memory by not circulating these opportunistic articles and memes saying otherwise.

Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400 Preview, Prediction, and DraftKings Lineup

We head to the mountains this week as forty NASCAR drivers compete at the Tricky Triangle. Given its name because of its triangular shape, Pocono Raceway is a unique track.

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In 1990, the race track was revised. The three turns that make up Pocono were inspired by three different race tracks. Turn One is modeled after Trenton Speedway, Turn Two is inspired by Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Turn Three is a replica of The Milwaukee Mile.

With speeds hitting close to 200 mph on the two long straightaways Pocono holds, who will be able to control their car all the way to Victory Lane? Let’s find out.

Denny Hamlin
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This 12 year veteran has had a lot of success at the Tricky Triangle. He brought the brooms out in 2006 by winning both Pocono races, and has four total at the two and half mile track. Hamlin has been very consistent in his last four races here with one top 5 and three top 10s. Before it’s all said and done Sunday afternoon, Hamlin will make sure his presence is felt amongst the leaders.

Dale Earnhardt Jr
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Just like Hamlin did in 2006, Dale Jr swept Pocono just two years ago. Junebug has been in a slump the past month and a half, but if there is a track to propel him this year, it’s Pocono. In his last five races here, Earnhardt Jr has four top 5s and an average finish of fourth. He typically has success on the two and a half mile tracks so be prepared to see the 88 Chevrolet jockeying for position in the lead group Sunday.

Kyle Larson
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Many would think I’d have Lasron as my wildcard pick, but this three year veteran has shown he has what it takes to compete with the best. A win by Larson should not come by surprise if he takes the checkered flag this weekend. Kyle has raced at Pocono Speedway four times in his career, and he hasn’t finished worse than 12th. As a matter of fact, his average finish at the Tricky Triangle is ninth. He is waiting to breakthrough and capture his first win of his career, and Pocono looks to be a great chance for the young Phenom.

Greg Biffle
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Some may be scratching their heads after seeing the name, but don’t be fooled. Greg Biffle has struggled the past three years, I’ll give you that, but Pocono has been the lone track he’s had success. Two top 5 finishes in his last three races here and a win in 2010, will give this team hope for a solid finish Sunday Afternoon.

Jimmie Johnson

29-31 May, 2015, Dover, Delaware USA Jimmie Johnson ©2015, Matthew T. Thacker NKP
29-31 May, 2015, Dover, Delaware USA
Jimmie Johnson
©2015, Matthew T. Thacker
NKP

It’s been eight races since the number 48 Chevrolet has visited victory lane. Johnson is itching to get more “W’s” in the win column so he can enter the Chase with a little cushion over the fifteen other drivers. There are many tracks that Johnson dominates, and Pocono is near the top of the list. In his 28 starts there, “Six Time” has eleven Top 5s, nineteen Top 10s, and three wins. This track treats Johnson well but he won’t be returning the favor as he does burnouts all over it Sunday afternoon after he takes home the checkered flag.

DraftKings Lineup
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Jimmie Johnson ($10,100)

Denny Hamlin ($9,200)

Brad Keselowski ($9,100)

Tony Stewart ($7,500)

Ryan Newman ($7,100)

Greg Biffle ($7,000)

Total: ($50,000)