Cardinals Rams Football

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello World,

Today I am going to Twickenham to watch the Cardinals vs the Rams and I can’t wait! I’ve been to Wembley three times to watch NFL, meaning this will be my visit to Twickenham to watch it. Here is my preview of the game, I’ll be analysing each team’s season so far, what both team’s need to do to win and my prediction of the final score. Let’s start with the “home” team; Los Angeles Rams.

So far this season, the Rams have been one of the most surprising teams in the league. They sit atop their division with a 4-2 record and have been playing some of the most exciting football in the league. This dramatic shift in fortunes for the Rams is down to one reason. They fired longtime head coach Jeff Fisher and hired Sean McVay as his replacement. McVay used to be the offensive coordinator with the Washington Redskins between 2014-2016. McVay, when he was hired, became the youngest Head Coach in NFL history at only 30 years old. Fisher had been the Rams coach since 2012 and when he was fired, it was an emotional moment for the entire organisation. If you need proof of this, I encourage you to watch the last season of “All or Nothing”. It’s an Amazon Prime documentary series showcasing their 2016 season. McVay has completely transformed this team, he has taken former number one overall pick Jared Goff from the edge of becoming a bust to a capable NFL starter, he has transformed former Pro Bowl running back Todd Gurley from looking like he had concrete in his boots to looking like he’s been shot out of a cannon.

So far this season, the Rams have made a massive improvement all along their offence. They got wide receiver Sammy Watkins in a trade with the Buffalo Bills to add an element of explosion to their passing attack, they signed offensive linemen John Sullivan and Andrew Whitworth to give Goff some much-needed protection and then drafted rookie wide receiver Cooper Kupp and tight end Jerald Everett to help their passing game. These additions along with McVay’s system and skill as an offensive coordinator have helped the Rams. It now means Goff has more time to throw, with receivers that can get open and a running game that’s extremely effective. This has seen the Rams flip from being last in points in 2016 to first so far this season.

Coming into this game the Rams sit atop the division with a 4-2 record, which already equals their win total from last season. In order for the Rams to win this game, they need to establish their passing attack. The Cardinals rank 22th in total yards per game on defence, so if the Rams can successfully protect Goff from Arizona’s pass rush. Whilst also stopping Adrian Peterson from running right through them will give the Rams the much-needed recipe for success.

The Arizona Cardinals are 3-3 heading to Twickenham. Before the season started, Bruce Arians their head coach said “It’s not a one year window” for his team to win the Super Bowl. This was something I didn’t agree with, especially due to the plague of injuries they have had, the rising age of their superstar players Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald and the lacking resemblance of an offensive line. With six weeks of the season though, I am still pessimistic on the Cardinals Super Bowl chances. This is because they have won half their games so far. With two out of their three wins coming against the 49ers and Colts, who in my opinion along with the Browns are the dregs of the league. This means I can’t put much stock into their record due to these wins, meanwhile, they have been manhandled in their losses to the Lions, Cowboys and Eagles. All three of which could capably become playoff teams by the end of the season.

Now, if you are a casual Cardinals fan or so-called “expert” on Twitter. Your heart will have sunk in week 1 when your saw star running back David Johnson leave with a wrist injury only to find out he is out for the season. So, seeing your General Manager Steve Keim acquire NFL legend and future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson from the Saints would have made you jump for joy. He has enjoyed a bright start in Glendale, in his first game last week against the Buccaneers, he had 134 yards and two touchdowns. To give Cardinals fans more confidence, the last time Peterson played in London was in 2013 for the Vikings. He had 140 yards on 24 carries with two touchdowns as the Vikings beat the Steelers 34-27. I would be excited to watch him today, as Peterson showed last week he’s still an effective running back and the Rams have the 29th ranked run defence. He will have a big game at Twickenham.

With their running game being on a knife edge due to the lack of offensive line for the Cardinals but the lack of Rams rushing defence. The success for Arizona could come down to their ariel attack. This could play into their hands as they have the 3rd ranked passing attack in terms of yards per game with 286.2. Carson Palmer has looked very streaky this season with 9 touchdowns and 6 interceptions so Arizona will need him to exude confidence and consistency to help them win. The Cardinals will need to have Peterson succeed running the ball, allowing Palmer more options to throw the ball when using play-action. By doing these things, the Cardinals will be confident in returning to Phoenix with a victory.

In conclusion, I believe the Rams will win this game continuing their hot start to the season. The Rams rank first in points per game with 29.8 and will surpass this mark at Twickenham. Jared Goff will throw for three touchdowns and 300 yards as the Cardinals put up a valiant effort but due to the Rams quick scoring offence, Adrian Peterson will have 2 touchdowns but not get as many attempts to run the ball, as the Cardinals will be in catch up early on. This will force the Cardinals into throwing the ball to keep pace with Los Angeles providing more opportunities for Palmer to turnover possession. This all NFC West game will end 31-23 to the Rams.

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Hello world,

Coming off the back of Deshaun Watson’s first three starts for the Texans. A win versus the Bengals, a strong performance against the Patriots and a huge win against the Titans. This question has been kept low but I am still wondering, how did Bill O’Brien decide that Tom Savage should have been the starting quarterback ahead of Watson? With hindsight looks like a bad decision as the Texans were obliterated in their opening game 29-7. In O’Brian’s defence, this is a debate that if you were to interchange the names has been plaguing head coaches for years. I am going to examine a few examples that have been successful for the players, coaches and organisations involved, as well more often than not in these situations the examples that didn’t go well.

Sometimes, it doesn’t take till halftime of the opening game to change your quarterback like O’Brien did. In 1970, Steelers head coach Chuck Noll, a future Hall of Famer, played number one pick and rookie Terry Bradshaw for 8 games. Those other 6 games were played by, yes you guessed correctly. Terry Hanratty… This was a decision that caused opinions to swirl about the reliability of Noll as a coach. In his first game of his career, Bradshaw threw an interception and conceded a safety as they lost 19-7. Bradshaw was so embarrassed to be the starting quarterback when he lost. As told in one of my favourite books,

“Noll yanked him, and backup Hanratty finished up. After the game Bradshaw sat in his truck in the players’ parking lot, weeping.” – The Last Headbangers by Kevin Cook.

The amazing description of the situation by Cook, whose book beautifully analyses the NFL between 1972 and 1982, shows just how much Bradshaw wanted to succeed not only for himself but also Noll and the team. This is something rarely seen in young quarterbacks today, an example of this being Johnny Manziel who sat out the last game of the 2015 season due to a concussion, however, a video was found of him partying in Las Vegas seemingly fit and well. This lack of commitment, amongst other things is why Manziel is out of the NFL and why Bradshaw is in the Hall of Fame.

Despite what it looked like after that opening game and that 1970 season, Terry Bradshaw’s stats read as follows: 38% completion, 1410 yards, 6 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. Reading those stats is harder than watching a Jeff Fisher press conference. But with hindsight, Noll made the right decision, because the Steelers improved from being the worst team in the league with a 1-13 record the year before to a 5-9 record in 1970. Only 4 years later, the Steelers won their first of 4 Super Bowl titles in the 1970s. These four championships made the pair the most successful coach and quarterback duo till last season when Brady and Belichick won their fifth title. So, in this case, it helped the coach when deciding who to play to already have Hanratty there as the starter. It provided competition for Bradshaw to improve and a player to compare Bradshaw against for Noll.

However, this isn’t the case for every coach and rookie quarterback. Instead of having a veteran already there some quarterbacks can be thrown into the fire from the start. Now their failure can, I believe, be attributed to many things such as a lack of coaching, contract holdouts, lack of surrounding talent and lack of effort. The primary instance of a team starting a rookie quarterback and it going all down in flames is with #1 all-time draft bust: Ryan Leaf pictured here being drafted in 1998.

In 1998, he was selected number two overall by the Los Angeles Chargers formerly of San Diego. He was the epitome of a disgrace, he constantly didn’t study film, workout or practice with teammates. Reports suggest that he flew to Las Vegas the night he was drafted, partied all night and yawned all through the introductory press conference the next day. Leaf signed the largest rookie contract ever at the time. A 4 year $31.25 million with a guaranteed $11.25 million signing bonus. His stats for his rookie season were: 10 games played, 1,289 yards, 45.3% completion passes, 2 touchdowns, a staggering 15 interceptions and an anaemic QBR of 39. His go-to move was to blame his teammates for his poor play. As you can guess this did not endear him very well to his teammates or fans. This lack of friendship and vulgarity wasn’t new to Leaf; in an interview he did with the San Diego Tribune he said “There was a joke going around campus when I was at Washington State.

It went,”What’s the difference between God and Ryan Leaf?” The punchline was, “God doesn’t think he’s Ryan Leaf.”

Add this to his incomprehensible amount of arrogance, a lack of commitment, a litany of injuries, fickle temper and overall dismal play. All of this has made him the poster child of NFL bust and in my eyes the owner of the worst rookie season by a quarterback ever.

Having watched Watson for his last two games, he has made incredible strides as a quarterback. A normal rookie would be hidden behind a running game, using play-action passes to find open receivers to get him settled in the game. But Watson has been able to find and sense pressure in the pocket, he’s moving defences with his eyes and is making great intermediate throws. Not to make a direct comparison, but both Watson and O’Brien can take advice from Hall of Famer and twice Super Bowl champion John Elway who said about his rookie season “I needed that year it made me a better player rather than sitting it out”. Watson has a strong defence and cast of offensive weapons surrounding him to make his transition into an NFL starter an easier one than most. His swift rise as a quarterback makes this conundrum much easier for O’Brien to stomach especially as he realised his mistake only 30 minutes into the season. As long as Watson plays well, then all of the noise surrounding O’Brien and his decision to start Savage will disappear into the ether. If the Texans fall away then expect it to all explode again but don’t expect this to happen anytime soon. I think Watson is here to stay.

AFC, American Football, Blog, NFL, NFL UK, Rookies

My award predictions for the 2017 NFL season

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Hello world,

The NFL season kicks off today and I’m more excited than a Browns fan seeing their team win a game. It means that normal, real and important football is within our grasp. We don’t have to wade through any more of these weak, trivial and frankly boring preseason games, but are instead let back sweetly into the world of excitement that is regular season football. So here are my predictions for NFL awards; now last season I got 1 out of 7 correct, let’s hope this year goes a bit better.

MVP – Aaron Rodgers

Last season, Aaron Rodgers had a slower start than a snail trying to ride a bike. It was a poor start that left the Packers at 4-6 which held Rodgers back from the MVP award. His last 6 games of the regular season were incredible, with 16 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. The hardest defence he will face this season is Seattle’s; last year against them he had 246 yards and 3 touchdowns, so expect them and every other defence he faces to fall by the wayside on his way to MVP. This will happen because Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFL. Period. As well as that, the cast of players surrounding Rodgers has improved since last season, with Martellus Bennett being the main addition at tight end as well as Ty Montgomery in the backfield because you know what? The NFL needs more stars from position changes. It adds to the “Joie de vive” of the league.  I mean it’s done absolute wonders for Tyrelle Pryor, why not the same for Montgomery? Rodgers will throw over 5,000 yards and for 45 touchdowns cementing his status as one of the best ever when he collects his third MVP trophy next February.

Offensive Player of the Year – David Johnson

David Johnson last season had one of the best seasons ever by a running back till he got injured. He had 1,249 rushing yards and 879 receiving yards, a 15 game span of at least 100 yards from scrimmage which matched Hall of Famer Barry Sanders’ record from 1997. I believe that Johnson will continue this scintillating form into this season, as he looks to only get better and better on an improving Arizona team. On Arizona’s schedule, only the Giants and Texans have any form of a top 10 defence, so expect him to tear up everyone else this season. Johnson this season will push himself into the upper tier of NFL talent, becoming a household name although the Cardinals won’t make the playoffs. He will become the first back with at least 1,000 rushing yards and receiving yards in one season since Marshall Faulk in 1999 (guess what? he’s in the Hall of Fame as well). By doing this he will be propelled to the offensive player of the year this season.

Defensive Player of the Year – J.J Watt

J.J Watt is now injury free, having only played 3 games last season after having had back surgery. I see no reason why this award should be going in any other direction than back to the three-time winner. He is the best defensive player in the NFL till proven otherwise. The Texans have one of the best defensive lines in football, especially with the progression Jadeveon Clowney made without Watt last year. By combining both of them, it will result in Watt showboating through offensive lines for 18 sacks and defensive player of the year. No other player in the NFL causes offensive coordinators as many problems as Watt does. It’s not just his power, technique, speed, size but his versatility and ability to line up anywhere along the defensive line that causes them problems. He is the most destructive defensive player in the league.

Offensive Rookie of the Year – Dalvin Cook

Dalvin Cook will thrive this year, as he becomes the centre piece to a Vikings offence afraid to concede turnovers. He will set a new NFL record for the number of carries for a rookie in a season; such is the paranoia surrounding Sam Bradford with his almost innate ability to throw interceptions. He makes it look easier than tying a shoelace. Cook will show us his talent by managing to win this award despite Minnesota’s leaky offensive line. He will shine with his combination of speed and power, making it easy for Vikings fans to accept the decision to let Adrian Peterson head down to the New Orleans Saints this offseason. Cook will lead all rookie running backs in both yards and touchdowns with 1350 yards and 8 touchdowns. He will just pip Christian McCaffrey to the award, expect big things from this FSU star this season.

Defensive Rookie of the Year – Solomon Thomas

The 6ft 3in, 273lbs defensive end has performed well through training camp and into the preseason. Thomas can show off the skills he showcased during his time at Stanford on a defence that will be making a few heads turn this season. Expect Thomas to cause havoc alongside fellow rookie Reuben Foster. The defensive coordinator for the 49ers, Robert Salah has talked about his defence being “fast, physical [and] everything being about the ball.” For Thomas these are his main skills; it’s his speed and aggression that causes the most problems, the opposition simply doesn’t think a man of his stature can be so dynamic. If you need proof, I insist you go and watch the game between UNC and Stanford last season, Solomon Thomas was the best player on the field by far. Thomas will use this speed to cause mayhem at defensive end, he will land over 13 sacks and garner the defensive rookie of the year. If he wins the award, Thomas will be the first 49ers player to win the award since Patrick Willis did in 2007.

Comeback Player of the Year – Tyrain Mathieu

Now I should be placing JJ Watt here, considering he will win defensive player of the year and is coming back from surgery. But at the NFL awards, they like to spread the love with the winners so I’m predicting that Cardinals safety Tyran Mathieu will win this award. Last season he only played 10 games after sustaining a shoulder injury against the Panthers. With the Cardinals developing and drafting new players, Mathieu will go back to safety. From his preseason play, he is back to 100%, making him one of the top defensive players in the NFL, desperately giving the Cardinals defence some power and aggression. He will have 6 interceptions and 110 tackles to take the award.

Coach of the year – Bill Belichick

This is easy, he is the best coach in the league. So why not have this be the season where the voters remove their cataracts and give him the award. I will predict for him to win this award every year till he retires from coaching.

 

 

 

Hello world long time no see,

It’s been a long time since I last posted due to being in my final year of school and having exams. But mercifully just like Jeff Fisher’s tenure as Head Coach of the Rams they are over which means I can hopefully make these more regular.

Gloriously, the NFL season waits tantalisingly like a star atop a Christmas Tree less than 9 weeks away. The Free Agency period as always provides us with some surprises; whether it’s players moving teams, retiring or even returning! But teams mainly look to the NFL Draft as the best way to improve. I believe that these rookies will be the most exciting to watch in 2017. For depth, I will choose 2 rookies from each of the first 3 rounds on the draft. I hope you enjoy! 

Corey Davis WR – Tennessee Titans


One reason why Corey Davis will be an exciting player this season is because of the quality of the roster he has entered. Davis is the prime candidate to become the Titans WR1. He will be catching passes alongside Eric Decker, Rishard Matthews from Marcus Mariota, as well as blocking for Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray. The quality of these players will only help Davis as they will allow him to settle into the offence and not be forced to carry it like Atlas and the world. 

He was taken 5th overall from Western Michigan. The 6ft 3, 209lbs wide receiver during his time as a Bronco, became the all time leader in NCAA career receiving yards. This is no mean feat; he averaged 16 yards a catch and scored 52 TDs in 4 seasons. His aggressive style but soft hands will translate well into Offensive Co-Ordinator’s Jeff Robiskie’s offence, giving Mariota the number 1 receiver he needs for the Titans to become contenders. 

Christian McCaffery RB – Carolina Panthers


Christian McCaffery was taken 8th overall by the Panthers due to his astonishing ability as a runner as well as his versitlilty across the field.  He is as versatile a player as Daniel Day Lewis is to acting. This is a player that was 2nd in the Heisman voting in 2015 and holds the NCAA record for all purpose yards with 3,864. He will be exciting as a runner because of his combination of  patience and agility; he will be difficult to stop for opposing defensive co-ordinators. McCafferry’s ability to catch passes out of the backfield, as well as return kicks and punts means that luckily for us we will be seeing this talent a lot more than usual this season.

Teez Tabor CB – Detroit Lions


I thought it was criminal for Tabor to fall to the 2nd round. This is a man with 1st round talent written all over him. The University of Florida Cornerback fell to the 53rd pick for the Detroit Lions. He will be an exciting player this season because he is an aggressive cover corner who walks a thin line between penalties and interceptions. He is a strong open field tackler; at Florida he was twice All-SEC first team. He will bring class to a Detroit secondary that apart from Darius Slay is severely lacking it, making him an exciting player to watch.

Dalvin Cook RB – Minnesota Vikings


Cook was an amazing talent at Florida State; he became their all-time leading rusher and a force to be reckoned with throughout college football. This was shown by his ranking as the best college running back in the draft by both Pro Football Focus and Sports Illustrated. However, off the field issues such as being charged for battery saw him fall into the second round. Now, don’t kid yourself Latavius Murray fans (if you exist?) but Dalvin Cook WILL be the starting running back for the Vikings. With this comes huge expectations as former MVP and Vikings legend Adrian Peterson was their last RB. But he left to join the New Orleans Saints in the offseason, so he has some big shoes to fill. But Cook has already said when talking to CBS Sports “So the only thing you can do is come in and be yourself.” With this humble attitude as well as astonishing talent, Cook will be very exciting to watch. 

Chris Wormley DE – Baltimore Ravens


Wormley was a standout Defensive End at the University of Michigan. He played 4 years, having torn his ACL as a freshman and in 2016 was named First team all-big 10 and Second Team All-American. As he had 39 tackles (9 for loss) and 6 sacks. His character and leadership were surely recognised as he was made a team captain by his fellow players. Despite being a 3rd round pick, going to Baltimore will be good for both Wormley and ourselves. As their combination of a lack of defensive talent but good coaches means we will see him a lot this season, showing us and the Ravens why he was such a star at Michigan.  

Tarrell Bashem OLB – Indianapolis Colts


Bashem was an good talent at Ohio, playing 4 years and racking up a school record 29.5 sacks. He played OLB for Ohio having been taken by the Colts. He will most likely move from a 4-3 defensive end where he played in college to a 3-4 outside linebacker. This transition will be difficult to make especially for a rookie but having veterans such as Akeem Ayers and Barkivious Minho to learn under will help him grow through the season. We will see the 2016 MAC defensive player of the year on the field this season, so expect some big things, perhaps not as many sacks but a strong defensive impact the Colts have been missing for a number of years. 

Hope you have enjoyed! Much love 💚

AFC, Blog, NFC, NFL, NFL UK, Rookies

Super Bowl LI Preview

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Hello World,

It’s Super Bowl week, Atlanta vs New England, Falcons vs Patriots, Quinn vs Belichick and Ryan vs Brady. This is the 7th Super Bowl since 2000 for Belichick and Brady, whereas it is Atlanta’s second ever with their first coming in 1998 where they were dismantled by John Elway and the Broncos. Super Bowl 50 averaged 111.9 million viewers so even more this year, even if Lady Gaga is performing at halftime. Here is my preview for THE game of the year.

The Atlanta Falcons have been an offensive superpower this season. It has been incredible to watch, they have put up over 40 points in 6 different games this season, scoring a mesmeric 540 points tied for the 2000 Rams lead by now Hall of Famer Kurt Warner. Their quarterback, Matt Ryan was 1st team All-Pro and both Offensive Player of the year as well as league MVP. He has been the best quarterback to play every game this season. He has the number one quarterback rating in the league with 83.3, he has the second most touchdowns with 38 and passing yards with 4,944 and the third highest completion percentage with 69.9%. You feel like this type of season has been a long time coming for Ryan who came into the league in 2008 taken with the 3rd overall pick from Boston College. In his first season he lead the Falcons to an 11-5 record winning offensive rookie of the year then in 2012 they got all the way to the NFC Championship game but choked away a 17 point lead against the 49ers, so see him now reach the Super Bowl is reward for not only Atlanta fans but for the neutrals as well.

Ryan has powered the most explosive offensive this season due to the shrewd free agency work of Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli such as Alex Mack at centre (second team All-Pro), Mohammed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel both with 6 touchdowns each this year. As well as the explosion of both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman the best running back duo in the league with a combined 2,482 yards from scrimmage (rushing and receiving) this year the best in the league. Now by having all of these players it has given Ryan more time and more option to spread the ball around and take the pressure off Julio Jones one of the best wide receivers in the league. He has been incredible this year with another Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro selection, 1,452 yards and 6 touchdowns. He added another record to his collection with 300 yards receiving in ONE game. That is one game that shows everyone what an extraordinary talent he is.

Atlanta has also benefited hugely from a very successful couple of drafts with rookie players this year such as Deion Jones, Keanu Neil, Austin Hooper and DeVondre Campbell all making significant impacts on both sides of the ball. Linebacker Deion Jones was nominated for Defensive Rookie of the Year with 108 tackles and safety Keanu Neil with 106 tackles as well. Vic Beasley jr seemed like a shadow of his college self in hiss rookie campaign with only 4 sacks but into his second year he has exploded to 15.5 sacks to win the Deacon Jones award and he reached his first All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection. With Ryan’s astounding offensive season it has given Atlanta very fast and big leads in games which have forced the opposing team to completely scrap their running game and be forced to throw on the Falcons. This has allowed them to play much more deep zone coverage as they don’t have to stack the box to stop the run. This has allowed the defence to get to the ball and force turnovers, something they will need in order to beat the Patriots.

The New England Patriots started this season without their starting quarterback Tom Brady and went 3-1 with a shutout of the Texans put in there for good measure. Since Brady returned from his suspension of the first four games of the season for his part in Deflategate. Brady returned in week 5 and the Patriots have only lost one game since this is down to Brady throwing 28 touchdowns to only 2 interceptions for 3,554 yards and owning an 112.2 passer rating. He has been incredible this season especially with the injury to Tight End Rob Gronkowski in the middle of the season eliminating Brady’s only All-Pro receiver. Brady has been unstoppable this year aged 39, he has much better pocket awareness than he did about 4 years ago and his arm doesn’t seem to be wilting like Peyton Manning’s did last season. Like Manning did last year, Brady is hoping to win the Super Bowl and if he does it will put him in my eyes as the greatest quarterback of all time because he will have 5 super bowl rings compared to Montana and Bradshaw’s 4 rings. We know that this is familiar territory for Brady as this is his 7th Super Bowl so you can expect a calm man stepping out onto that field looking for his chance to become immortal in Super Bowl history.

As I mentioned earlier the Falcons have also built their success around their joy in free agency and trades, so have the Patriots with such players as Chris Hogan, Martellus Bennett and Chris Long all becoming major factors for this New England team. The Patriots have statistically the number one ranked defence in the entire league. With such players as Dont’a Hightower, Malcolm Butler and Devin McCourtey providing Belichick with the backbone of a team, with a difficult task in the Super Bowl to stop the plethora of offensive weapons that Atlanta possesses. Now they did this very well against the Steelers in the AFC Championship game, where they double teamed Antonio Brown for large proportions of the game and forced Ben Roethlisberger to let his other receivers like Eli Rogers and Cobi Hamilton try to make a play, which they couldn’t. Now obviously the Patriots were helped out by a Le’Veon Bell injury in the game which limited him to 54 yards rushing. I feel like this Falcons team has too many weapons to enforce the same strategy again so it will be interesting to see how Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patrica try to slow down this offensive powerhouse.

In conclusion, I believe that this will be a high-scoring affair in Hoston with each team going over 30 points. But the experience and the combination of Brady and Belichick will find a way to get a win for their 5th super bowl as a duo. Also, bear in mind, the last player to win league MVP and the Super Bowl was Kurt Warner in 1999! As well as that with the Falcons owning the number one scoring offence and the Patriots the number one scoring defence. This has happened 6 times in Super Bowl history and the top-ranked scoring defence has a 5-1 record.

Final Score: Atlanta Falcons 31 – 38 New England Patriots

 

Pro Bowl Snubs

AFC, American Football, Blog, NFC, NFL, NFLUK, Pro Bowl

Hello World,

With the regular season at its denouement, the Pro Bowl squads have been released for the NFC and the AFC. The Pro Bowl is voted for the best players at every position throughout the league. Now obviously they can’t have all your favourite players, so here are my best Pro Bowl snubs. 
The Pro Bowl Squads: http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000760503/article/nfl-announces-2017-pro-bowl-rosters 
Drew Brees/Quarterback/New Orleans Saints – Brees has played out of his skin this year, he still leads the league in passing, on a Saints team that will hit only 8 wins. They haven’t appeared much on Primetime so won’t have been seen by many people. He is making the reach for 5000 yards seem easy and has 35 touchdowns his most since 2013, all with a new receiving core ( Michael Thomas & Willie Snead ) and a tough schedule for the Saints. Brees should have been a shoein for the Pro Bowl.
LeGarrette Blount/Running Back/New England Patriots – Blount has gone largely unnoticed throughout the NFL this year, with his Patriots again commanding most of the NFL Media with Brady and Gronkowski. But at the moment Blount has over 1100 yards on the ground and leads the league in rushing touchdowns with 17. He is just the sort of hard nosed, downhill, north-south runner that very few teams have and all teams want when they are in the playoffs. He’ll cause havoc for opposing teams in January proving he should have got a place in the Pro Bowl. 
Jordy Nelson/Wide Receiver/Green Bay Packers – Jordy Nelson missed the entire of last season with a torn ACL and the Packers offence was stagnant at best. He has returned this season with aplomb, being Aaron Rodgers’ favourite target. His 14 touchdowns lead all receivers in the league, whilst transforming this Green Bay’s offence into its old self with Rodgers back to getting MVP consideration, it just shows how much of a great player he is and that should have made a place in the Pro Bowl. 
Danielle Hunter/Defensive End/Minnesota Vikings – Hunter is in his second season in the NFL. But you wouldn’t know it. He has doubled his sacks so far this season with 12 sacks. He also has 51 tackles, a forced fumble and a safety. Although the Vikings have fallen off a cliff after a 5-0 start to now 7-8. Hunter’s play has been so consistent over both the run and the pass along a stellar defence line with Everson Griffin and Linvel Joseph. Showing he can stand out from the crowd with his excellent ability to crash a pocket and stuff the run, I believe he should be in the Pro Bowl. 

Sean Lee/Outside Linebacker/Dallas Cowboys – Lee has been the lifeblood of this reinvigorated Cowboys defence. Lee has had 55 total stops, the most for any linebacker in the NFL, and has only missed 11 tackles in 143 attempts with 145 to his name. He’s been the leader on the Dallas defence as their captain who sets the tone. Lee might also be in the realm of Comeback Player of the Year, as he tore his ACL and has comeback to imperious form. 

Mid Season All-Pro Team

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Hello World,

We have made to the middle point of the season (Week 8) all too quickly. We have had some nail biting games such as Raiders vs Saints Week  1, Chargers vs Raiders Week  5 and Titans vs Colts Week 2 just to name a few. Narratives have exploded out of nowhere like Minnesota’s crushing defence, Atlanta’s explosive offence and who on earth is Ben McAdoo’s hairdresser, I cringed his haircut every time they panned to him at Wembley.  This is my All-Pro team, for the first half of the season.

QB – Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons)

Through all 8 games he leads the league in yards with 2,636, Quarterback Rating 115.8, and what I find astonishing he has 13 plays of 40 yards or more. He has been a revelation in his second year of Kyle Shanahan’s offence mainly down to improvement of the scheme and the main benefit being the emergence of more surrounding talent such as Mohammed Sanu, Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman all become dynamic receiving threats alongside all-pro Julio Jones. This gives Ryan a lot more options and not just throws up to Julio, which is making their offence and his play the best in the league.

RB – Ezekiel Elliot (Dallas Cowboys)

This rookie picked 4th overall by the Cowboys has been a revelation so far this season. Everything seems so easy for him. So far he leads the league in rushing with 799 yards and is averaging 117.2 yards per game. He is patient behind the best offensive line in the league to find the hole, but then he has the burst to explode out the other side a great example of this would be his 85 yards run against Cincinnati in week 6, he hits the secondary and just flies past them all. He has all the traits and the talent around him to keep this going for the rest of the season.

WR – AJ Green (Cincinnati Bengals)

Despite the Bengals record being 3-4-1, it hasn’t been anything to do with Green’s play. He has been torching cornerbacks from the off, with a mesmerising performance to start the season against the Jets where he had 180 yards and 1 touchdown. He has been attracting double teams since his rookie year but this season with the loss of all of Cincinnati’s other weapons e.g. Sanu, Jones, the injury to Eifert and the regression of their running game. He has been practically their only weapon on offence, which is leading to more targets, receptions and yards, giving him a place on this team.

TE – Rob Gronkowski (New England Patriots)

This season without Brady, Gronk was still the go to man in New England, and since Brady’s return in Week 5. Gronk has gone back to doing Gronk like things. He has averaged 118 yards per game and yards per catch with a giant 22 yards. He now owns the most receiving touchdowns by any Patriot in history with 69 and with the way he is playing, New England lookslike the team to be stopped in the AFC.

LT – Tyrone Smith (Dallas Cowboys)

He is the marquee player at this position. Is there anything else I need to say? He is the best at what he does. He play this season has allowed for rookie sensations Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot to transition so well into the NFL, because of his wide open gapes for Elliot’s running and the clean pocket and lack of pressure on Prescott. He has been part of the best line in football that allows the Cowboys to sit atop of the NFC East, and in prime position to make a deep playoff run.

LG – Kelchi Osemilie (Oakland Raiders)

He like Mack has been a great free agent signing for the Raiders from the Ravens. He backs up his talk “They call me KO for a reason” with his play. This is a man who plays violent and angry on every play, this isn’t that every other Left Guard in the league doesn’t play angry. You just see it with his performances this half, for example, watch his game against the Saints Week 1 where the Raiders nearly doubled the Saints rushing because of the lanes KO was creating. This is a good sign for a promising Oakland team that need his play to stay well.

C – Alex Mack (Atlanta Falcons)

This might have been one of the crudest free agent signings of the off-season. He has provided stability and leadership for an offensive line that has been lacking that for far too long. One of the reasons behind Matt Ryan’s inclusion on this list as well would be that he’s getting a cleaner pocket for longer meaning it’s easier for him to read the coverage and make a completion. That’s all down to Mack & Co, in Georgia buying into Shanahan’s scheme. Due to this Mack is playing the best football of his career.

RG –  Richie Incognito (Buffalo Bills)

He has been a mailing for his time in Miami and the scandal surrounding it and rightly so. But since he has joined the Bills, Incognito has blossomed into one of the best guards in the league. He is a frightening presence on the Buffalo line for opposing players. He is sneakily mobile for a man of his size and stature. The Bills fired their offensive coordinator Greg Roman 2 weeks into the season and since then Anthony Lynn has established The Buffalo ground game as one of the best in the league, his coaching has lead to the resurgence of Incognito & co on the offensive line and Buffalo’s main form of attack this season. If Incognito can keep this form up he could be headed back to the Pro-Bowl.

RT – Jack Conklin (Tennesse Titans)

Here is another rookie to make the list, Conklin was picked 8th overall out of Michigan State by the Titans. So far this se\son he has lived up to thst high pick, he has beenone of the main reasons behind the rejuvinantion of Tennesse’s running game this season with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. If he keeps playing the way he has then Tennesse will be rising up in O-Line credentials within the league with Conklin and Lewan at the Tackle Spots.

Here is the defensive side of the team.

DE – Cliff Avril (Seattle Seahawks)

Cliff Avril is a name, not necessarily mentioned as much outside of Seattle as he would like. I find this hard to imagine as he has been in the top 10 of defensive ends in the league for the past few seasons, so far he has 2 tackles and a crazy 7.5 sacks. He is a star lost amongst many others on Seattle’s famous ‘legion of boom’ defence but that doesn’t stop him from making his presence known.

MLB – Zach Brown (Buffalo Bills)

This has been a breakout season for Brown who at the midpoint of the season leads the lead in tackles with 82. He also has 3 forced fumbles, with injuries ravaging Buffalo before the season started with their 1st and 2nd round draft picks going down. Brown has stepped up and gone far and beyond anyone’s expectations for this season. Brown produced one of the performances of the season with a whopping 17 tackle display against the Patriots in Week 4, which saw him named AFC Defensive Player Of The Week for that. It’s performances like this that will make Brown a mainstay in the team for a long time yet.

OLB – Von Miller (Denver Broncos)

He has been an animal coming off the edge this season. He’s kept up his Super Bowl 50 performance; he owns the fastest first step in the league bar none. If you need proof of his amazing play this season just watch his dismantling of the double teams the Tampa Bay Buccaneers placed on him in week 6 as the base of his work. Miller possesses the talent and ability to win games, so often he comes up with sacks or fumbles in the 4th quarter. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first drive or the last drive Miller has been the best at his position so far.

DT – Aaron Donald (Los Angeles Rams)

Donald is a player that comes around very often. He has won defensive rookie of the year and would be up for MVP if he got more of a spotlight on him. He simply just wrecks plays, opponents and the opposing team’s offensive gameplan. At the midpoint of the season, he has 23 tackles, 3 sacks and a forced fumble. That’s down on his numbers from the year before, only because teams have realised what a threat he is and are doing everything they can to slow him down.

CB – Patrick Peterson (Arizona Cardinals)

Peterson this season hasn’t missed a beat. He’s been playing majestically with the lowest QBR rating throwing his way so far this season. I think his best performance was vs the Buccaneers when he held Mike Evans to 3 catches for 17 yards on 12 targets. Despite Arizona’s slow start to the season, he has been a great player and leader for the rest of the defence to try and copy then Arizona will be back where they want to be, deep in the playoffs.

FS – Harrison Smith (Minnesota Vikings)

Smith has been the best free safety in the league so far. No question. He is a dynamic safety who plays close to the line of scrimmage where he can affect the ball with 49 total tackles so far he is showing his worth. Albeit that Smith has failed to intercept the ball so far doesn’t mean he’s not swarming the ball, it’s just other teammates are reaping the rewards from his imposing aura in the back end on receivers.

SS – Malcolm Jenkins (Philadelphia Eagles)

For the 7 games, Jenkins has played he has been at a tremendously high level. He has 31 tackles and 1 INT for a touchdown. That great play came against the Redskins in a loss but it wasn’t for Jenkins lack of trying who had his best came with 6 tackles, a pass defended and that INT for a touchdown. If he and Fletcher Cox up front can lead this Eagles to more success expect wins to be flowing from Philadelphia.