Hello, world,

I watched the Redskins play the Eagles on my laptop as I got the night bus back from London, having seen Arizona Cardinals vs Los Angeles Rams at Twickenham. It was a great game with the Eagles showcasing to the “football cognoscenti” why they have the best record in the league right now. It took a long time but with it being only £13 in total, my journey was as enjoyable as it was expensive. However, the Cardinals fans must have been thinking differently; they must have been as tired watching the game as I was when I reached home in the morning…

For those same Arizona fans, having seen their best player David Johnson get injured and be out for the rest of the season in the first game of the season. Must have been a hard pill to swallow. But on Sunday, star quarterback Carson Palmer left the game midway through the second quarter with a broken arm. The initial reports of the injury suggest that Palmer could be out any period of time and that recovery estimates were “up in the air”. This is terrible news for the Cardinals, and their fans who even before this game were enduring a difficult season; but have now fallen deeper into the depths of NFL obscurity with this injury.

As I foretold in my preview of this game, what the Cardinals needed to do to win was to establish their running game. Unfortunately, at Twickenham, this was as successful as watching the game without hearing American Football described by people around me as “Yeah…. almost it’s like rugby but with pads” It was maddening, to say the least. Adrian Peterson finished the game with 21 rushing yards on 11 carries. He was bottled up by the Rams, who exploited the clear weakness of the Cardinals their offensive line. LA had constant pressure on every play, whether it was men in the backfield as they ran the ball or hitting the quarterback when Arizona tried to pass the ball. The Rams defence set the tone early and it didn’t stop punishing Arizona all game long. What did not help Peterson’s case was that the Rams took the lead early on and his quarterback got hurt. Both of these meant that the Cardinals simply couldn’t run the ball as it would have wasted too much time already losing the game.

So with a running game that was utterly devoid of any success; the Cardinals had to throw the ball for almost the entire game, in fact, they only ran the ball 12 times. In the first quarter, Palmer did lead a 9 play 65-yard drive however it ended up with a missed field goal. That was the best it got for Arizona, with their the passing game drying up faster than water in the surrounding deserts of Glendale, Arizona. Palmer finished with a stat line of 10/18 for 122 yards with an interception and a QBR of 30.9. Drew Stanton who came in to replace him after the injury, finished with 5/14 for 62 yards also with an interception and an anaemic QBR of 11.2. This game was a write off for Arizona as soon as Palmer got injured with Stanton looking unprepared and overmatched against LA’s defence. He was abysmal for the Cardinals who’s season at this point is now a write-off. I see very little hope for success this year after watching this performance at Twickenham.

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On the other hand, this was a wonderful performance by the Los Angeles Rams. They did a great job on offence, quarterback Jared Goff came to Twickenham and delivered a sound performance. He had 225 yards passing, with one touchdown and one interception while gaining a touchdown on a 9-yard run. He didn’t have to do too much on Sunday as running back Todd Gurley had one of his best games this season. Gurley was the focal point of the Rams attack, running the ball he had 106 yards on 22 carries with a touchdown. He also had 4 catches for 48 yards. These may not be his most impressive numbers, but the Rams lent on Gurley throughout the game and the Cardinals knew this, yet couldn’t stop him. Gurley’s ability to make 3 or 4 yards per run on first and second down, gave Goff short and easy third downs to complete. The Rams went 13/19 on third downs meanwhile the Cardinals were a meagre 3/12.

With Gurley succeeding on the ground it gave Goff a solid platform to build off using play action. He completed passes to seven different players during the game, as the Cardinals feared that Gurley would run for a touchdown whenever he touched the ball. Gurley had the best play of the game with a wonderful 18 yard run for a touchdown, outrunning two defenders to reach the end zone and put the game on ice for the Rams with 5:25 minutes left in the first half! Goff will play harder teams this season but this game was a perfect encapsulation of his season so far with McVay. Nothing is too difficult in his scheme, it’s just allowing Goff to make the best decision with what is in front of him. Unlike under Fisher when any decision would have been a sign of progress…..

In conclusion, the Rams won this game comfortably as the score suggests. I would not hold out hope for the Cardinals this season as they looked about as comfortable to watch as a Donald Trump speech. But the Rams on the other hand now sitting at 5-2 look to be getting better and better each week. They could make the playoffs for the first time since 2004 if they continue like this. It was a great game and a wonderful experience. I can’t wait to go again!

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NFC, NFL, NFL UK, Review

My award predictions for the 2017 NFL season

AFC, American Football, Awards, Blog, NFC, NFL, NFL UK, Predictions

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,

The NFL season is only 33 days away and within the period between seasons, teams have one goal: to improve enough to win the Super Bowl. For every team, this comes down to their scouting, their drafting, their coaching and as well their signings. The free agency period is a strange time for NFL teams; it seems that in some way, shape or form all of the 32 teams are active, whether that’s trading away players, players retiring or signing other players. For teams such as the Dolphins, Jets, Saints and Browns, it can be seen that an all-guns-blazing strategy in free agency doesn’t work out. Rather, a more subtle and slower approach taken by teams such as the Patriots, Seahawks and Packers does lead to more success. The players in free agency are ones that are out of a contract, so with the 24/7 coverage of the NFL nowadays, these players are thrust into the spotlight, every fan wants to know who their team can pick up and whether they will help lead them to success.

With this being the way, players that perhaps were average starters or back ups, perhaps come off an injury or finished the season strong are now held up to be pivotal players these teams need to have in order to win, with analysts, pundits, commentators and die-hard fans having to find positives in every signing in order to justify it, and all the while just waiting for the season to come around to see whether their team made the right decision. Using Free Agency as a tool to improve your team is high risk and high reward. In this post, I will give my opinion on four offseason signings; two of which I believe can help their team improve by providing success and two of which I believe will be disasters for everyone involved with the signing.

Here we go my two favourite offseason signings were:

DeSean Jackson WR Washington Redskins to Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Contract: 3 year $33.5 million

I love this signing for Tampa Bay. Jackson brings, as he has done his whole career, a scary, defensive-coordinator-worrying level of speed that will take the top off any defence in the league. He is now 30 years old but still in the prime of his career, shown by last season with the Redskins leading the league in yards per catch with 17.9. Buccaneers GM Jason Licht has done a great deal here for the Bucs offence last year because last year Mike Evans broke out as a superstar with career highs in catches and yards (96/1,321). By adding Jackson to an offence with Evans, Quarterback Jamies Winston will have a field day picking apart teams’ defences, knowing he can trust either of these guys down field. Jackson is the master of creating space for his fellow receivers because of his speed. The defences are so scared of it, they will have to double team now both him and Evans leading to breakout tight end Cameron Brate having single coverage and the Bucs offence going from stride to stride this year.

Martellus Bennett TE New England Patriots to Green Bay Packers

Contract: 3 year $21 million

Martellus Bennett last season achieved the pinnacle of every NFL player’s career. He won a Super Bowl ring. Bennett was part of the Super Bowl 51 champion New England Patriots where he played in the absence of an injured Rob Gronkowski, his stats being an impressive 55 catches, 701 yards and 7 touchdowns. He played very well to start the season but was held back with a foot injury later on down the stretch. But he came away with a ring and this season he has possibly the chance to repeat that feat as he signed with the Green Bay Packers. It’s not often players go from quarterbacks with as much talent as Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers and don’t succeed. Bennett is a great signing for the Packers who struggled to finalise a deal with the previous tight end Jared Cook but in my eyes managed to get a much better player out of it than him in Benett. Bennett when healthy will bring a talent to the tight end position Packers fans haven’t seen since Jermichael Finley. Having Bennett alongside Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery will allow Aaron Rodgers to recreate the incredible form he showed down the stretch of last season for hopefully all of this upcoming one. This was a positive free agency move for the Packers looking to win a second Super Bowl under Rodgers and McCarthy.

Here are my two bad free agent signings:

Jamaal Charles RB Kansas City Chiefs to Denver Broncos

Contract: 1 year $3.75 million

If this was 2013, then I would praise the Broncos from here to high heaven for pulling off such a trade. Charles was one of the premier backs in the league, having come off 1,500-yard season the year earlier, and looking to a positive future. But it’s 2017 and Charles since has fallen fast; he had successive surgeries on his ACL, was replaced by Spencer Ware and Chanderick West and has only played 8 games since 2015. I don’t like this free agent signing for the Broncos because of the situation. Denver does have a lead back in CJ Anderson who is a good player but after that they have nobody. In the draft, they had the opportunity to take a multitude of running backs but Denver only decided to take one in the 6th round, De’Angelo Henderson from Coastal Carolina. This doesn’t fill me with confidence – I’m not holding high hopes for him to even play any snaps this year. As well as this, it’s a bad signing because Charles is a 30-year-old back, with a messy injury history who isn’t as productive as he once was, but has been brought in as an effective cover for Anderson late in the season. I see this becoming a costly signing for the Broncos when it comes down to the end of the season and they suddenly realise they have to turn to an old, past-his-prime, Charles to help with their playoff push. It will be then that they will realise they should have taken a running back much earlier in the draft and stayed away from Charles, whose lack of speed and burst will hold their offence captive down the stretch and be one of many reasons why the Broncos will miss the playoffs.

Riley Reiff T Detroit Lions to Minnesota Vikings 

Contract: 5 year $58.75 million

If you want to make some money in this world, become a middling offensive lineman in the NFL. I can’t believe that the Vikings have paid this much money to a player that was plagued with issues on the left-hand side of the line with his years in Detroit. Their initial action was last year was to move Reiff to the right-hand side of the line when they drafted his replacement Taylor Decker at left tackle. If I couldn’t make it more obvious to you that this was a bad signing for the Vikings, here is the analysis given on NFL.com on their Free Agency Report: “The Vikings who just lost out on Ricky Wagner, signed Riley Reiff, per Ian Rapoport”. Now, when their analysis of a signing is saying that they lost out on a better player,  that doesn’t fill me with confidence and it definitely won’t for Vikings fans. Reiff has managed to garner a large contract this offseason and already into training camp he has missed 4 straight practices with an undisclosed injury, so his durability will be a cause for concern for Minnesota. He was meant to be a saviour for this line and if he’s injured he can’t play, leaving their line in a much worse state. If I was a Vikings fan, I wouldn’t be filled with confidence by this signing because you’re being sold a player who was replaced by his old team, wasn’t your number one priority because he was middling to average in Detroit and is now injured.

I hope you enjoyed reading this! Much love x

AFC, Free Agency, NFC, NFL, Signings

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

AFC, American Football, Blog, Championship, NFC, NFL, NFLUK, Playoffs, Postseason, preview, Super Bowl, Super Bowl 51, Uncategorized

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

AFC, American Football, Blog, NFC, NFLUK, Rookies, Uncategorized

 

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.