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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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.

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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 💚

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2016 NFL Awards Predictions

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Hello World,

It has been a while but with the start  of the regular season only hours away. Here are my predictions for who will end the season as the individual award winners.

Most Valuable Player

Aaron Rodgers – QB Green Bay Packers

I believe that Rodgers will be back to his electric 2014-MVP-caliber form this season, due to the return of his favorite receiver, Jordy Nelson from an ACL injury that kept him out for all of the last season. Nelson will be back to form in that offence so they can move a healthy Randall Cobb back to the second spot, all whilst having a slimmer, faster and more productive Eddie Lacy in the backfield to keep defences guessing by putting another man in the box. Also, in an under-the-radar free agency move the Packer acquired Jarod Cook from the Rams; he may have been a bit inconsistent in St Loius but then he didn’t have Rodgers throwing him the ball so expect a lot of red zone targets for him.

 

Offensive Player of the Year

Antonio Brown – WR Pittsburgh Steelers

Last season Brown had 1,834 yards, 136 receptions, and 10 touchdowns. That is one of the best seasons in recent memory, so now consider that he did that with Landry Jones and Michael Vick starting 5 games. We know that he is good enough to escape the double teams that he will now face because Martavious Bryant is suspended for the season, it’s just if Ben Roethlisberger can stay healthy for their entire season then his numbers will explode and he might break the 2000 yard mark and 15 TDs, making him a shoe-in for this award.

Defensive Player of the Year

Kahlil Mack – DE Oakland Raiders

Mack had an unbelievable season last year, racking up +15 sacks and becoming the first player to be named All-Pro at 2 positions (DE & OLB). This season, because JJ Watt is having to have back surgery which will keep him out for a while, Mack will take home the sacks title ahead of the likes of Von Miller and Justin Houston. Mack’s younger age and his cleaner injury history make him a more consistent threat every week for at least 2 sacks. If you need any proof of Mack’s talent and threat to take home this award for many years to come, take a look at his highlights from Oakland’s week 14 matchup against the Denver Broncos where he had an astonishing 5 sacks.

Offensive Rookie of the Year

Ezekiel Elliot – RB Dallas Cowboys

With the recent injury to Tony Romo keeping him out for the season, Dallas has placed rookie Dak Prescott as their starter for the season. Now, because he is a rookie and Dallas has one of the league’s best offensive lines at its disposal, they will be running the ball in order to keep Prescott from making as few mistakes as possible. With this increased workload and the pedigree of the talent around him, I believe that Elliot will reach 1200 yards as the shining light of Dallas’s offence.

Defensive Rookie of the Year

Vernon Hargreaves – CB Tampa Bay Buccaneers

With both Eli Apple and Jalen Ramsey being selected ahead of him,  I feel that Hargreaves is in the best system to succeed this season. With Mike Mayock saying when he was drafted “Hargreaves has the best corner feet in the draft I’ve seen in the past 2 or 3 years”. On Tampa’s depth chart he is sharing his cornerback spot with Alteraaun Verner and they will be opposite Brent Grimes, meaning that he will be targeted a lot but Hargreaves, as he has already shown in the preseason, has the ability to have multiple interception games. I think that he will not reach the heights of Marcus Peters last season but 5 Interceptions and 20 passes defended will take it home for this University of Florida product.

Coach of the Year

Bill Belicheck – New England Patriots

He could win this award practically any year but when the Patriots go 2-2 without Tom Brady to start the season and then go 11-3 to finish, taking them back into the playoffs for the 14th time in 16 years, it will be virtually impossible to ignore Belicheck for this award because he seems to do something unprecedented every year whether it’s wins, records or playoff appearances and this season would be no different.

Comeback Player of the Year

Jamaal Charles – RB Kansas City Chiefs

He only played 5 games last season till he tore his ACL  putting him on Injured Reserve for the rest of the season. Charles has come back from ACL injuries before when he then proceeded to rush for over 1500 yards in 2012.  Now I’m not saying he will hit 1500 yards again because he is older and the history of running backs coming off ACL injuries is slightly hot and cold,  but he will top 1200 yards on his way to winning Comeback Player of the Year and getting the Chiefs back into the playoffs.

Breakout Rookie Sensations

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Hello World,

With the combine and draft over and now the free agency period just simmering away, I will be looking at the most promising rookies for the 2016 season. These are the players I feel will be instant contributors to their team and might be reaching the Pro Bowl. Recent examples of this would be Zac Martin for the Cowboys, Tyler Lockett for the Seahawks and Marcus Peters for the Chiefs. This isn’t a ranking for each of these players, just a list.

My first player is Ezekiel Elliott who went 4th overall to the Cowboys from Ohio State. He is in line for a promising rookie season mainly due to the supporting cast around him in Dallas. There has been a long string of failed running backs drafted in the first round recently eg Trent Richardson, David Wilson and Jahvid Best, to name a few, but this to me doesn’t seem like a gamble by Jerry Jones because, during his time at Ohio State, Elliot had total 4410 yards and 44 touchdowns, and was labeled as the best,most complete back to enter the draft since Adrian Peterson. So drafting him with a supporting cast ofTony Romo, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and the best offensive line in the NFL I believe can only lead to success for Elliot, who can show people that he can break the recent curse of 1st round running backs.

Another player with a promising rookie season ahead of him is Offensive Tackle Laremy Tunsil from Ole Miss, who went 13th overall to the Miami Dolphins. Before the draft and the trades, Tunsil was the best player on many people’s boards. So after the Rams and the Eagles moved up, many people assumed he would go 3rd overall as he was the best player in the draft. But literally minutes before the Draft, a video on Twitter was posted of him smoking marijuana through a gas mask. It went viral, causing his draft stock to crash going from a top 5 pick down to 13.  I feel this will give Tunsil much-needed motivation this season to prove those 12 other teams that they were missing out on a star when they didn’t pick him. He will be working on a line with such notable names as Branden Albert, Jermon Bushrod, and Mike Pouncey, who between them have 7 Pro Bowl appearances, so he will be in good hands to show us all his potential this season.

A defensive rookie I believe will have a breakout season is Defensive Tackle Robert Nkemdiche from Ole Miss. He, like former teammate Tunsil, slid down draft boards, but this was due to an incident where in December 2015, Nkemdiche fell from a 4th-floor window, walked 15 feet and climbed over a wall then fell 15 feet. He was conscious and in a stable condition but the police found marijuana in his room and charged him with drug possession. It was this horror show that caused teams to flee from the 6’3, 296lbs defensive tackle until the Cardinals selected him with the 29th overall pick. He will have a breakout season due to his incredible speed and strength combo with Head Coach Bruce Arians saying “ He was killing people in the walkthrough and I had to slow him down,” “It’s walkthrough and he’s bench-pressing linemen already.” With that in mind, look out for him and Chandler Jones to be causing havoc down in Arizona.

And finally, in order to balance it out, another defensive player to have a breakout rookie season will be Vernon Hargreaves Cornerback who was taken 11th overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from the university of Florida. During his time in Florida, Hargreaves had 10 interceptions, 121 tackles and 17 passes defended. He was named 2x All-American and 3x All-SEC as a Gator, so coming onto a team with only Brent Grimes seen as a starter, Hargreaves will be getting plenty of snaps and seeing a lot of the ball with Grimes on the opposite side. Due to his excellent reading of the game and NFL Draft Analyst Mike Mayock saying “ He’s got the best feet of any cornerback coming out if the draft in the past 2 or 3 years”.  Look out for him to be making plays this season in Tampa.