Tag Archives: nfl

NFL 2017: Five things that sucked this season.

By no means is this an exhaustive list but it’s a list all the same. This season has sucked on many levels and I’m here to chronicle some of it.

1. Lots and Lots of injuries

Before the season began we had a will he-won’t he drama in regards to Andrew’s Luck’s status. Spoiler alert: he won’t(or he didn’t whichever your prefer) Then there was a JJ Watt, Odell Beckham got hurt in the preseason and then again in the regular season. But it was ok, the football gods gave us a new hero. Rookie Deshaun Watson burst onto the scene electrifying the league in a way we haven’t seen a Qb do since RG3(God please don’t let this kid wind up like RG3). But as with most things this NFL season; Watson’s story didn’t have a happy ending. In a cruel twist of irony Watson didn’t even get hurt in a game, a handoff in practice took him out.

2. Collin Kaepernick’s unemployment 

I’m an agnostic as far as Collin goes. I don’t think he’s a modern-day version of Rosa Parks. However, I appreciate what he is trying to do and I know he’s good enough to make an NFL roster and probably start for close to half the teams in the league.

This saga sucked because it became political and quite frankly I don’t want that in my football. I’m well versed in politics, 99 percent of the players, commentators, and announcers speaking on this issues arent.  The owners were very political by not hiring Kaepernick, the response to the snub has been political. I love politics and the analysis of it but I go to people qualified to do so. I don’t need every conversation about QB play in the NFL to devolve into a conversation on civil liberties sorry, I like sectioned plates so my food doesn’t touch.

3, Donald Trump

I have a firm belief in the separation of politics and sports. I don’t even like the White House visits for winning teams anymore.(Thanks, Obama) All of this shit was dying down though, ESPN had run out of topics and FS1 even seemed to run out of ways to race bait on the matter.  Then the fucking president of the United States had to weigh-in, calling players who kneel “sons of bitches. The 45th president of the United States also opined that the players who participated in kneeling should be fired.

The problem with fighting Donald Trump(besides the fact that he gives no fucks) is that he gives you so many targets it’s difficult to focus your efforts. The players responded in force to Trump but the lasting image from their protest was Jerry Jones kneeling BEFORE the anthem. Mission far from accomplished.

4. The play isn’t sucky the teams are.

Five years ago the Ravens would’ve been a 6 win team, but this year they were an Andy Dalton miracle pass away from making the playoffs. The Titans actually made the playoffs with a guy under center that threw more picks than touchdowns.  And please don’t get me started on the Bills. Hell the talented Steelers sleptwalked through the season and still finished 13-3. Did I mention the Browns didn’t win a fucking game???

5. No one knows what the fuck a catch is.

This isn’t fucking new. We’ve debated and simultaneously been confounded by the so-called “Calvin Johnson rule” since 2010. The NFL hasn’t been able to clearly established what a catch is for 7 fucking years!! 2017 seems to be a new low with the New England Patriots benefiting from this bullshit not once, not twice, but three fucking times this season. In order to enjoy any game from Monopoly to fucking tiddlywinks, the rules have to be clear to all involved it’s amazing that the NFL can’t figure out something so simple.

 

 

Concussion Author Jeanne Marie Laskas

Concussion Author Jeanne Marie Laskas

Jeanne Marie Laskas is the New York Times best-selling author of Concussion (Penguin Random House, 2015) and the 2009 GQ article “Game Brain,” which inspired the Golden Globe-nominated movie, Concussion, starring Will Smith and Alec Baldwin.

Jean Marie joins RC to discuss the NFL’s deliberate campaign to hide information on concussions from its players and the public. As well as the NFL’s reaction to the movie and meeting Will Smith.

Help spread the word. Rate us and subscribe on Itunes, follow on twitter and check out our website

The RC Report with Special Guest Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock is one of the most controversial sports writers in America. His polarizing writings cause consternation on the left and the right. Jason joins the RC Report for a no holds barred interview. We discuss The Rise and Fall of the Undefeated,His second go around with ESPN,Deadspin, Race in America, Donald Trump and why the Wire is the Greatest television show of all time.

If you enjoyed this interview check out our other content http://www.iconoclasticallybombastic.com. Also, if you would be so kind go over to Itunes rate the show and subscribe to the network. Your support is appreciated. Follow us on Twitter @iconobomb

NFL Championship Game Preview Podcasts

IBN’s RC Carlton and Bleacher Report Lead Writer Brad Gagnon get you ready for this weekend’s AFC and NFC title games, tackling the following subjects and much more:

  • Julian Edelman’s impact.
  • Can the Broncos Defense get pressure on Tom Brady?
  • Is Peyton’s lack of arm strength overblown?
  • How big of an impact withy Chris Harris’s injury have?
  • Which Qb do you trust more? Palmer or Newton
  • Can The Cardinals deep passing game expose the Panthers secondary?How has Cam Newton’s game evovled?
  • Can Cam survive against the Cards blitz happy defense?

NFL Quarter Mark Awards

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Four weeks are in the books for the 2015 NFL Season. It has been plenty of surprises and disappointments in just a short period of time. Here are the NFC and AFC Award Winners for the first quarter of the season.

NFC

Comeback Player

Chris Johnson – Arizona Cardinals, Running Back

What a difference a couple of years make. After flirting with the single season rushing record in 2009, “CJ2K” saw his numbers decline. He left Tennessee in the 2013 season to join the New York Jets, where he barely reached 1,000 yards rushing. In the beginning of the 2015 season, Johnson was out of work. After an Andre Ellington injury in week 1, the East Carolina Alum found a new home in Arizona. With just three weeks under his belt, Johnson is fifth in rushing in the NFL with 302 yards. CJ?K is on pace for 1,510 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. Arizona needed Chris Johnson just as bad as Chris Johnson needed Arizona.

Most Improved

Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona Cardinals, Wide Receiver

Why not keep it in the same division, and on the same team for that matter. It’s kind of hard to give a player of Larry Fitzgerald’s caliber the label “Most Improved”, but that’s what I am going to do. Fitz hasn’t had a 1,000 yard year since 2011. He is well on pace for that stat line this year. In fact, through four games this year, Larry Fitzgerald has over half the yards he had all of last year (432 to 784). If he keeps up this production, he will be earning his ninth Pro Bowl bid in his 12 year career.

Offensive Player

Julio Jones – Atlanta Falcons, Wide Receiver

You can easily put Aaron Rodgers here, but I will give somebody else some recognition. Julio Jones is showing everybody this year that 2014 was no fluke. Through four games this season, Jones has 478 yard receiving and 4 touchdowns. Three of the games played this year had Jones eclipsing at least 130 yards. He is putting the Falcons on his back this year so they can return to the playoffs.

Defensive Player

Josh Norman – Carolina Panthers, Cornerback & Kam Chancellor – Seattle Seahawks, Safety

Co-Defensive Players; yes that is where we are right now. One has played in all four games, while the other ended a holdout a couple of weeks ago. Let’s start with Josh Norman.

In the first four games of the season, Norman leads the league with 4 interceptions to go along with two taking back for touchdowns. What was once a soft spot on the Carolina Defense has turned into a strong group just because of Norman. His play has brought him into consideration as a top 5 Cornerback

It’s a crazy world we live in, when no play shows how good you actually play. That’s what was on display in Seattle. Kam Chancellor was in a holdout during all of the preseason and the first two games of the year. Seattle’s record in those first two weeks; 0-2. Chancellor then decides to rejoin the team in Week 3. Since he is back as the last line of defense, Seattle is 2-0. Kam won the football game for Seattle against the Lions in Week 4 when he forced Calvin Johnson to fumble the ball at the goal line. In the words of Seattle’s Defensive End Michael Bennett, “Pay that man.”

Offensive Rookie

Todd Gurley – St. Louis Rams, Running Back

Question marks and head scratching was done when the Rams took Running Back Todd Gurley 10th overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. The Georgia Alum was coming off of a torn ACL in his last year with the Bulldogs. All 32 teams were notified prior to the draft that Gurley would more than likely miss a few games in his first year. The Rams running game was pedestrian before Gurley was healthy enough to play. St. Louis averaged 72 yards per game in his absence. In his first game, Gurley only touched the ball 6 times for 9 yards, but Week 4 is where he shinned. Against a good Cardinals defense, Gurley shredded them for 146 yards rushing and averaged over 7 yards per carry. The future is bright for this young running back.

Defensive Rookie
Jordan Hicks – Philadelphia Eagles, Linebacker
Things have been gloomy for the Eagles so far this season, but one bright spot on the team is rookie LB, Jordan Hicks. He has played very well for this once dominant defense. Hicks has 20 tackles this year, to go along with a sack, an interception, a forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries. Philadelphia may have found a diamond in the rough after selecting Hicks in the third round this year. The former Texas Longhorn is looking like a vital piece to this defense early on.

Fantasy Stud

Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons, Running Back

Talk about surprises. Last year, the now second year pro had only one rushing touchdown to go along with 248 yards rushing. This year, Freeman has seven rushing touchdowns and 252 yards rushing. He has turned it on as of late. In his last two games, Freeman has 209 yards rushing and six TDs. The scary thing about Devonta is his skill in the passing game. Freeman has 196 yards receiving. If you have him in a standard league, the “Dirty Bird” has gotten you 86 fantasy points in the first four games of the season. That’s an average of 21.5 points per week. If you are in a PPR league, Freeman has gotten you 103 points. Another reason why Freeman is a stud, is the simple fact that he was a cheap find. With the Falcons drafting Tevin Coleman in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, many believed he would surpass Freeman on the depth chart. An injury to Coleman in Week 2 gave Freeman one more chance. He has certainly made the best of it. Devonta went undrafted in many leagues and was even dropped when Coleman started in week 2. Look for this running back to continue putting up great numbers in this lethal offense.

Fantasy Dud

Demarco Murray – Philadelphia Eagles, Running Back

So much for having Demarco Murray as a RB1. The league leading rusher just a year ago has yet to rush for 100 yards all season. His best game was last week against Washington, where he rushed for 36 yards. Murray was a late first, early second round pick in many fantasy football leagues this year. While he might get it going as the season progresses, he’s no more than a fill in if you have a player hurt or on a BYE. I guess that Dallas Cowboy Offensive Line made him Murray look like more of a star than he really is.

Contender Team

Arizona Cardinals – NFC West

Off to a hot start, the 3-1 Cardinals are showing the rest of the NFC that there is more than just Green Bay there. In a league that is all about the Quarterback, Carson Palmer is dialed in and clicking on all cylinders. Had it not been for a late season injury to the USC Alum, Arizona may have made it farther in the playoffs. The Cardinals are sure proving to the league not to forget about them when it comes to “Elite” teams. Arizona is averaging 37 points per game and is only giving up 18 points a game.

Pretender Team

Carolina Panthers – NFC South

A perfect 4-0, and still labeled a pretender? That’s what we have going on in Carolina. In a division that is mostly weak, outside of Atlanta, the Panthers don’t impress many. The four wins they have so far this season have come against the Jaguars, Texans, Saints, and Buccaneers. The combined record of the aforementioned teams is a measly 4-12 (.333 winning percentage). To make things worse, Carolina is only beating these putrid teams by an average of nine points. While a win is a win, Carolina needs to tighten up because stronger opponents wait for the Cardiac Kids. With future dates scheduled against Seattle, Atlanta (twice), New York, and Green Bay, Carolina might be brought back down to reality sooner rather than later.

MVP

Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers, Quarterback

This shouldn’t surprise anybody. The captain for Green Bay is putting up stellar numbers in the first quarter of the season. ARod is on pace for 3,980 yards passing, 44 TDs, 72% completion, and get this, ZERO INTs. Some may look at the passing yards and say that isn’t much when we talk about Elite Quarterbacks, but when you are leading by almost 10 points going into halftime, you tend to run the ball more in the second half to burn some clock. Rodgers is looking the part yet again, and has Green Bay as the clear cut favorites to represent the NFC in Super Bowl 50.

NFC

Comeback Player

Tyrod Taylor – Buffalo Bills, Quarterback

What a great story, drafted four years ago and spending that time as a backup in Baltimore, Tyrod Taylor finally got his shot in the NFL. He certainly came out with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove. Starting the season off 1-0, Tyrod almost led the Bills to an upset win over the defending Super Bowl Champion Patriots in Week 2. His play has put Buffalo in a position to make a run for a playoff position.

Most Improved

Chris Ivory – New York Jets, Running Back

The Jets have always been a Quarterback away from making noise in the AFC for the last decade plus. A good running game sometimes can overcome that. Chris Ivory is sure doing his best to give this offense a spark. Through four games, Ivory has 314 yards rushing (Averaging 104 yards a game, Missed Week 2) and three TDs. Ivory has never had a 1,000 yard rushing season, but that seems to be all but certain this year. He has a lock on the depth chart and is out to prove he can put the team on his back and surprise some people.

Offensive Player
Keenan Allen – San Diego Chargers, Wide Receiver
I know the obvious player here should be Tom Brady, but I am going to give somebody else some shine. Plus, Brady will be getting an award later on (Hint, Hint). Onto Allen though. The third year receiver is the clear favorite target for Philip Rivers. With two games with 12 or more receptions under his belt already, Allen is in line for huge numbers for the rest of the season. Keenan has already totaled 33 receptions, 387 yards receiving, and three TDs. If the Chargers have any hopes of making it into the postseason this year, Allen needs to keep up this production.

Defensive Player

Demarcus Ware – Denver Broncos, Defensive End

The 34 year old Defensive End looks like he is still 25 years of age. In four games played this year, Ware has 4.5 sacks to his credit. While a lot of people think Von Miller is the heart of this defense, I think Ware is. The amount of pressure he gets on Quarterbacks each and every game is amazing. The future Hall of Famer is playing at an elite level.

Offensive Rookie

Amari Cooper – Oakland Raiders, Wide Receiver

Going into the 2015 NFL Draft, everybody said Amari Cooper was the clear cut best Wide Receiver. His play is certainly living up to the hype that was created. His routes he runs are crisp, and he seems to keep his head on straight and not get rattled. Through four games, Cooper has 24 receptions, 339 receiving yards, and two TDs. He is Derek Carr’s number one target. IF Cooper continues these numbers, he will end the season with 96 receptions, 1,356 yards receiving, and eight TDs. Oakland was in desperate need of a playmaking Wide Receiver, and that’s exactly what they found in the Amari Cooper.

Defensive Rookie
Ronald Darby – Buffalo Bills, Cornerback
Early mock drafts this year had Darby going late first round. Then draft night hit, and the former Florida State Seminole slid into the mid second round to the Buffalo Bills. His play has been phenomenal. Darby has two INTs on the year, to go along with some very solid coverage. With Stephone Gilmore on one side, Buffalo found another corner to man the other side of the field. He is showing the other 31 teams that passed on him why they should have selected the cornerback.

Fantasy Stud

Dion Lewis – New England Patriots, Running Back
It’s scary to draft or add a New England running back in fantasy football, due to the unknown. Last year, Patriots running back Jonas Gray had a four TD night, and then we never heard from him again. Well Lewis is surely showing the coaching staff why he should be the number one RB and showing Fantasy Owners why he should at the least, be a FLEX option. In standard leagues, Lewis is averaging 18 points per game. In PPR Leagues, Lewis is averaging 23 points per game. Like Devonta Freeman is Atlanta, Lewis is a threat in the passing game. He is a security blanket for Tom Brady.

Fantasy Dud

Andrew Luck – Indianapolis Colts, Quarterback

Andrew Luck was one of the top Quarterbacks taking this year in Fantasy Football. The Colts signal caller was being drafted early in the second round in most leagues. The draft position and the numbers he has put up do not match. Luck only has three games under his belt in the first quarter of the season due to an injury sustained in the Colts week three matchup against Tennessee. The next coming of Peyton manning, has average a tick over nine points per game fantasy wise this season. As your QB1, you are definitely looking for more.

Contender Team

Cincinnati Bengals – AFC North
This team seems to always start off strong don’t they? Here is why they are for real this season. Better play by Andy Dalton, a more seasoned player in Jeremy Hill, and a healthy Tyler Eifert. The last of these keys is huge. In an offense that has the All-Pro WR, A.J. Green, and a two headed monster in the backfield of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, teams have trouble game planning for everybody. Eifert is the man that is under the radar. A lot of that has to do with injuries. Last season, the now third year pro played in one game. A healthy Eifert has this team clicking. His numbers may look slack for somebody who is a ‘key part” to a team’s success (16 receptions, 222 yards receiving, 3 TDs), but he just gives Andy Dalton another BIG target to throw to. I’m not going to harp on it too much, but that Cincy defense is playing lights out as well. Those combinations equal a winning formula for the Bengals.

Pretender Team

Buffalo Bills – AFC East
Let me first start this off by saying the Buffalo Bills have the talent on this team to do special things. The one knock though, is the fact that they are fairly young, and undisciplined. In their Week 4 loss to the New York Giants, Buffalo was flagged 17 times. A lot of those penalties resulted in a Giants first down. Some look at this team and say they knocked of the then favorites, Indianapolis Colts in Week 1, but that’s not enough. They are getting great play out of QB Tyrod Taylor, and even solid contribution from rookie RB, Karlos Williams. The defense has struggled when it comes to the pass though. With matchups later in the season to New England, New York Jets (Twice), Cincinnati Bengals, and a healthy Dallas Cowboys team could prove too much for this group.

MVP

Tom Brady – New England Patriots, Quarterback
There is nobody in the NFL playing at the level Tom Brady is right now. It’s funny to sit back and think of how he was written off last year when the Patriots dropped a horrible game to Kansas City. With all of the “Deflate Gate” talk in the offseason, and the possibility of Tommy Terrific being suspended, it’s clear he is playing with a boulder on his shoulder. With a BYE week in Week 4, Tom Brady only has three games under his belt. What makes this story almost unbelievable is the fact that Brady is only 136 yards behind Philip Rivers for most in the league with one less game played. Brady has a 9-0 TD:INT ratio and is looking like he will throw 40 plus again this year. To be even more clear, and while being on pace for something doesn’t mean you are going to actually achieve that number, Brady’s numbers would be 5,930 yards passing, 48 TDs, and ZERO INTs. If this does happen, Webster should put Brady’s picture beside the word “production”.

2015 NFL AFC Predictions

(Brookline, MA, 0/14/15) New England quarterback Tom Brady holds his hands with all four of his Super Bowl rings during a ceremony on Sunday, June 14, 2015. Photo courtesy of the New England Patriots

 

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots Record: 10-6            Playoff Seeding: Fourth

While Bill Belichick is a genius, it’s going to be hard getting that defense going. Losing Darrel Revis, Brandon Browner and others is detrimental to this ball club. We still have no idea who is going to run the ball with Lagarett Blount being suspended the first four games of the season. This division is catching up to Tom Brady and company, but it’ll take another year or so for the other teams to pass this dynasty.

  1. Buffalo Bills Record: 10-6            Playoff Seeding: N/A

This team is on the rise. Everything they did in the offseason was for the good. RB Lesean MCcoy brings another dimension to this offense. A signing that wasn’t “broadcasted” was that of TE Charles Clay. His tenure in Miami the past few years were nothing but consistency. This year is going to be all on QB Tyrod Taylor. The fewer mistakes he makes, the more likely this team succeeds. The defense is going to be even better than last year. This team may shock some people and sneak into the playoffs this year.

 

  1. Miami Dolphins Record: 8-8               Playoff Seeding: N/A

This could very well be the last season for Head Coach Joe Philbin on the Miami sideline. This team is stacked. Brining in Ndamokung Suh on Defense, and trading for Kenny Stills and drafting Devante Parker for the offense are all huge moves for this team. Like Buffalo, this year falls on the QB, Ryan Tannehill. He has weapons at his disposal, but will that offensive line hold up for him? We will see.

 

  1. New York Jets Record: 8-8               Playoff Seeding: N/A

The Jets brought back two familiar faces this offseason in the secondary, Darrel Revis and Antonio Cromartie. That pair alone significantly makes this defense better. Add in that their new head coach, Todd Bowles, is a defensive mastermind, and you can see why things are looking up for the Jets. The offense is the question. Well really it’s just the QB position. New York traded for WR Brandon Marshall, and have young TE Jace Amaro ready to take on a bigger role for this team. With Geno Smith out for the first six weeks due to a broken Jaw, Ryan Fitzpatrick will lead this team on game day. Like Buffalo and Miami, the Jets will live and die by the arm of their QB.

 

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AFC North

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers Record: 11-5            Playoff Seeding: Second

For the greater part of their franchise, Pittsburgh has been known for their Defense. This year the powers have shifted. With the dynamic connection of Big Ben to Antonio Brown, and the electrifying running style of Le’Veon Bell, this offense will be hard to stop. Defensively, it could go either way. With the retirement of All-Pro S Troy Polamalu and LB Jason Worlids, this defense is going to look a lot different.

 

  1. Cincinnati Bengals Record: 10-6            Playoff Seeding: Fourth

The Bengals used a few draft picks to sure up their offensive line. They also spent some money in free agency on their defensive line (DE Michael Johnson). This team is about the same from last year, but now RB Jeremy Hill has a year under his belt and is ready to light it up. That two headed monster in the backfield that also includes receiving threat Giovanni Bernard, can be lethal. If Andy Dalton plays like his contract suggests, Cincy could do more damage than people think.

 

  1. Baltimore Ravens Record: 7-9               Playoff Seeding: N/A

The loss of Torrey Smith is going to be felt for this offense. Steve Smith is a year older and WR Breshad Perriman (2015 1st round selection) seems to be a work in progress. Defensively, the Ravens traded Hiloti Ngata to Detroit that could spell problems for their rush defense. Look for Baltimore to take a few steps back this year.

 

  1. Cleveland Browns Record: 3-13            Playoff Seeding: N/A

Cleveland, Cleveland, Cleveland! Where do we begin? Trying to help out a depleted WR corps this offseason, they went out and signed Dwayne Bowe. That won’t turn any heads. The running game is still non existent, and it looks like it will be another QB carousel this year. Defensively, the team has gotten better. The selection of Danny Shelton in the 2015 NFL Draft is going to pay off for the next ten years. Defense wins championships, but you have to have at least an average offense to win games. It’s going to be another long year for Cleveland fans.

jj

 

AFC South

  1. Indianapolis Colts Record: 12-4            Playoff Seeding: First

Andre Johnson and Frank Gore will make this team scarier than last year. Gore has hit the age where most RBs fall off, but for the 49ers in his career, he was nothing but consistent. As for Andre Johnson, this WR finally has an All-Pro QB throwing his way. The numbers Johnson put up with the likes of Matt Schaub and Ryan Fitzpatrick under Center were amazing. Just imagine what he can do with Andrew Luck.

 

  1. Houston Texans Record: 8-8               Playoff Seeding: N/A

The Texans still have that ferocious Defense in place, but the offense is another story. Bringing in Brian Hoyer from Cleveland isn’t exactly the move to take this offense to the next level. With Arian Foster out for about a month, and losing WR Andre Johnson to division rival Indianapolis, Houston just doesn’t have the team to compete in the AFC.

 

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars Record: 3-13            Playoff Seeding: N/A

With all the money in the world to spend during the offseason in Free Agency, Jacksonville barely landed anybody. Their prize possession was TE Julius Thomas, but he broke his finger in the first preseason game and will be out about six weeks. Dante Fowler, the third pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, tore his ACL in rookie minicamp. Jacksonville can’t catch a break and will be staring a top 5 draft selection in 2016 right in the face.

4. Tennessee Titans             Record: 3-13            Playoff Seeding: N/A

Tennessee drafted QB Marcus Mariota with the second pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. He is an instant upgrade over Zack Mettenberger. You need more than a QB in this league though. Bishop Sankey will be the focal point at RB this year after a mediocre rookie season. The signing of Brian Orakpo will help this defense a lot, only if he can stay healthy. Don’t expect any miraculous improvements this season.

 

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AFC WEST

  1. Denver Broncos Record: 11-5            Playoff Seeding: Third

More than likely, this will be Peyton Manning’s last hoorah. The gun slinger looked as if he lost some arm strength last December into the playoffs. Manning will need a o-line to block for him mightily this year, but it’s a few new faces in front of him. If the chemistry forms quickly, the Broncos will be fine, if not, the Broncos will be looking over their shoulders all year in the AFC West.

 

  1. San Diego Chargers Record: 10-6            Playoff Seeding: Sixth

Finally, after months of speculation about Phillip Rivers being traded, the Chargers agree on a new contract for the NC State alum. The gritty Rivers has a new toy in the San Diego offense, Stevie Johnson. Though they will come up short dethroning Denver in the AFC West, San Diego will slide into the playoffs, and potentially do some damage.

 

  1. Oakland Raiders Record: 6-10            Playoff Seeding: N/A

The record may not show it, but Oakland is much improved this year offensively and defensively. Drafting Amari Cooper in the 2015 NFL Draft is going to help the development of second year QB, Derek Carr. A healthy Latavius Murray is going to get the running game trucking. Defensively, Khalil Mack has a year under his belt in that scheme and will be even better this year. The Raiders will be in a lot of close games this year. Give this team another year or two together, and we may finally see this historic franchise end that horrible playoff drought.

 

  1. Kansas City Chiefs Record: 5-11            Playoff Seeding: N/A

This will probably be the most surprising team to some this year, and not in a good way. Yes, they still have Jamaal Charles, but he can’t do it all. After going all year without throwing a TD to a WR, QB Alex Smith will be called upon to make things happen. I just don’t see him answering the call. Kansas City will be in the basement of this division.

AFC Playoffs

WildCard Round

  1. San Diego Chargers over 3. Denver Broncos
  2. New England Patriots over 5. Cincinnati Bengals

Divisonal Round

  1. Indianapolis Colts over 6. San Diego Chargers
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers over 4. New England Patriots

Championship Game

  1. Indianapolis Colts over 2. Pittsburgh Steelers

Super Bowl 50

  1. Green Bay Packers over 1. Indianapolis Colts

 

 

 

True Detective, Chip Kelly and Kobe Bryant have one thing in common.

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Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men. Lord Acton

On the surface, giving more power to talented people is a good idea. Especially when the talent has a track record of success. Organizations hand the keys to their best and brightest because we intrinsically believe that giving the talented more power breeds more success. More times than not this isn’t true. Giving more power often tears down the infrastructure responsible for initial success.

Nic Pizzolatto, Kobe Bryant, and Chip Kelly are three men given autonomy in their fields because of their talent. Pizzolatto deserves credit for the success of True Detective’s first season.  He toiled over the script for nearly a decade, sold the successfully pitched the series to HBO. His work was compelling enough to draw A-list actors, Matthew McConaughey, and Woody Harrelson.

The star power of leads drew viewers and raised expectations. Expectations which the show surpassed. The show became the most-watched first season in HBO’s history. Pizzolatto was further buoyed by the direction of Cary Fukunaga. The visionary’s careful crafted the world Pizzolatto deserved.

This season the A-list stars are gone, replaced by serviceable actors with far less wattage. Fukunaga is absent as well, amidst rumors of a feud with Pizzolatto fueling his departure.

As a result season 2 is filled with the writer’s worst impulses. His fingerprints mark each episode with a sloppiness resembling the criminals and law enforcement officers that inhabit the show.

In season one Pizzolatto’s existential monologues were rescued by McConaughey’s idiosyncrasies. This season Vince Vaughn fails miserably in a role he was miscast for. When Rachel Adams and Collin Ferrell descend into darkness Woody Harrelson isn’t there to make light of it. The only humor season two provides is unintentional. To use a sports reference Nick ran off his Shaq (Fukunaga) and his Phil (Matthew and Woody) retired.

Kobe Bryant’s last two seasons have not played out the way he would’ve written. His quest to tie Jordan’s ring count appears hopeless. He’s run off anyone that could help him achieve his goal years ago. Now he toils on a horrible team as father time continues to defeat him.Kobe’s refusal to take a lesser role is sold by his supporters as a desire to win. In reality, its stubbornness and failure to adapt have marred the ending of a spectacular career.

Similar to the aforementioned men Chip Kelly’s abilities have taken him to the point where he has autonomy. Kelly turned perennial doormat Oregon into a national brand.His abilities made him a sought after commodity and after years of wooing Chip eventually signed the dotted line and became head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

After making the playoffs and taking the league by storm in year one, Kelly has continually flummoxed the football world by cutting or trading established stars. In their confusion, his former players have hinted at race as the motive. They are confusing Kelly’s mishandling of power for racism. Kelly isn’t a collaborator, he’s a dictator. He wants robots that perform the system the way he designed it.

The problem for Kelly is that it’s much easier to bend redshirt freshmen to his will than millionaires. Kelly’s inflexibility may ultimately be his undoing. The best leaders don’t sit on high detached from those they follow. They are on the ground with them, asking questions, observing and gaining feedback.

It’s probably too late for Kobe to change his ways but for Pizzolatto and Kelly there’s still time to become collaborative leaders. A good leader must first lead themselves by realizing their talent and knowledge is finite, but the possibilities of collaboration are infinite.

Cowboys dominate Forbes list of NFL’s most valuable teams

 

Jerry-Jones

The Cowboys aren’t just winning on the field — even if there’s some skepticism about the coming year — they’re continuing to rake in cash off the field. To no one’s surprise, Dallas topped the bi-weekly annual most valuable NFL teams list from Forbes, checking in at $3.2 billion.

That’s the equivalent of the Yankees (T-2) and behind only Real Madrid in net worth.

Dallas is a good chunk of change higher than the next NFL team on the list, the New England Patriots, worth an estimated $2.6 billion (6th overall) coming off another Super Bowl win with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

The Redskins mediocrity continues to have zero effect on Dan Snyder’s wallet, with the team estimated to be worth $2.4 billion, the third highest in the NFL and 9th overall.

Washington’s NFC East rival Giants are worth $2.1 billion (12th overall), while the Texans($1.85 billion, 16th overall) are surprisingly high.

The rest of the NFL teams are as follows:

Jets, 17th, $1.8 billion

Eagles, 18th, $1.75 billion

Bears, 20th, $1.70 billion

49ers, 22nd, $1.6 billion

Ravens, 23rd, $1.5 billion

Broncos, 26th, $1.45 billion

Colts, 27th, $1.4 billion

Packers, 29th, $1.38 billion

Steelers, 32nd, $1.35 billion

Seahawks, 35th, $1.33 billion

Dolphins, 37th, $1.3 billion

Panthers, 42nd, $1.25 billion

Buccaneers, 45th, $1.23 billion

Titans, 48th, $1.16 billion

NFL 2015: 3 Reasons why the Cincinnati Bengals won’t make the Playoffs.

bengals

Cincinnati, Ohio, a city where optimism is always high in any sport. I guess you could say they are a glass half full type of city. The fans are itching for a championship, something that hasn’t happened since the Cincinnati Reds won the World Series in 1990. The Bengals have made it to the Super Bowl twice since the AFL/NFL merger, but just couldn’t close the deal against the San Francisco 49ers both times.

The past few years, that key word used earlier, optimism, has been at an all-time high. The Bengals have made the playoffs four straight years. The downfall is that they have not made it out of the first round in those years. One and done as many call it. Can the Andy Dalton led Bengals make it five straight playoff appearances? I’m here to tell you not to hold your breath.

1.Offense

dalton

The Bengals offense has plenty of talent and potential, but they seem to fall short every year. A lot of it has to do with the play of QB, Andy Dalton. Since being drafted by Cincinnati four years ago, Dalton has started every single game. His touchdown totals climbed in each of his first three seasons, but so did his interception totals. In 2014, Dalton regressed. His 2013 totals were a little above average with 4,293 yards, 33 TD’s, and 20 INTs. 2014 were atrocious. The TCU alum threw for a tad under 3,400 yards to go along with just 19 TDs and 17 INTs. Many people say the numbers fell off due to star WR, AJ Green, missing three games.

The fact of the matter is Andy Dalton has already seemed to hit his peak. The Bengals offense has plenty of weapons in AJ Green, Muhammed Sanu, and Tyler Eifert. Let’s not forget about the double headed monster in the backfield featuring Giovani Bernard and rookie sensation Jeremy Hill. The pieces are there for Dalton, but he can’t capitalize on the opportunity. Making the playoffs year after year is a good thing, but not making it out of the first round counteracts that production. This is a make or break year for Dalton, even though he signed a six year extension last summer.

2. Schedule

lob

With three trips to the west coast this year, the schedule presents many challenges for this young Bengals team. Add in that Cincinnati has to play the NFC and AFC West and you can see how difficult things can get. Of the 16 games the Bengals play this year, seven of them are against playoff teams from last year, and four of those games are on the road. Last year the Ohio residents went 3-4-1 against playoff teams. When they won, it was by an average of a little over six points. When they lost, it was by an average of 21 points. To make things even tougher, Cincinnati resides in the black and blue division, the AFC North. The Steelers and Ravens made the playoffs last year, and Cleveland did nothing but improve this offseason.

The icing on the cake for their schedule is weeks 2-8, or as I like to call it, the gauntlet. The Bengals play San Diego, @Baltimore, Kansas City, Seattle, @Buffalo, and @Pittsburgh with a bye week sprinkled in there. All of those teams either made the playoffs, or had a winning record in 2014. Cincinnati has to start the season off strong because they finish 2015 out with Pittsburgh, @Denver, @San Francisco, and Baltimore. The coaching staff will have to keep this team upbeat if they want to succeed this year. That brings me to my next point.

3. Marvin Lewis

lewis

It seems like every year, we hear the phrase “Marvin Lewis is on the hot seat.” As I said earlier, making the playoffs four straight years is good, but if you can’t make it out of the first round, it means nothing. In fact, since becoming the Head Coach for the Bengals, Lewis has led his team to the playoffs 6 times, and has zero playoff wins. You get a sense that the players and certainly the organization are losing faith in him. While their record for the last four years has either improved or plateaued, Lewis has to make things happen other than in the regular season. No team gets a trophy in the first 17 weeks of the NFL season.

The Bengals have an uphill battle this year, that’s very different to hear about a defending division champion, but it’s a fact. This team has many road blocks in front of them and it’s hard to picture them succeeding. The division is tougher and many teams on their schedule have improved a lot. This season rides on the arm of Andy Dalton, and we all know how that can turn out.

NFL Draft 2015 Positional Preview: Edge Rushers

NFL Draft 2015 Positional Preview: Edge Rushers

With the way NFL offenses sling the ball around every week, defenses must have guys who can get to the opposing passer. The value placed on edge rushers is clear based on recent drafts. Three edge rushers have gone in the top 10 in each of the past two drafts, and 32 defensive ends and outside linebackers have gone in the first round in the past five drafts.

Four edge rushers could go in the top dozen or so picks this year — Clemson’s Vic Beasley, Florida’s Dante Fowler Jr., Nebraska’s Randy Gregory and Missouri’s Shane Ray. And it’s not a stretch to think six could go in the first round; there have been six first-round edge rushers in each of the past two drafts, and eight went in the first round in 2011.

Dante Fowler, Jr.: Fowler is a competitive pass rusher getting by on athleticism and inside moves right now, but has a Pro Bowl ceiling.

Shane Ray: An alpha male packaged in an explosive frame, Ray has the traits and skills to be a dominant pass rusher and potential Pro Bowler.

Vic Beasley: Beasley has the speed and explosion to become an absolute menace for a creative defensive coordinator.

Randy Gregory: Gregory is a 3-4 outside linebacker with the length, toughness and closing burst to immediately help a run defense.