Super Bowl 50 Preview

Hello World,

We have had a wonderful season. It has been mesmerizing, turbulent and gripping to say the least. We have had teams fall from grace and other rise up from the ashes to give their loyal fans some hope for years to come. But two teams have made it this far. The Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers.

Carolina Panthers

Wow! This has been a crazy season for the Panthers who have risen from above average with several issues, to being in the Super Bowl. Personally I didn’t have them very high in my Pre-Season predictions, only at 17th  This was mainly down to the fact that they had let their all-time rushing yards leader DeAngelo Williams leave in the off-season.  I didn’t attribute their position much to that because by then. Williams was fading away in the backfield and on the depth chart to Jonathan Stewart. But more to the point, their star rookie Wide Receiver Kelvin Benjamin suffered a torn ACL before the season and was lost for the year. This, in my eyes, gave the Panthers no actual, solid attacking prowess for the season. But I have been proven wrong, just as many other people have been, by Carolina’s offence emergence this season. They led the league in touchdowns and scoring! All of this with such players as Ted Ginn Jr, Devin Funchess and Jerricho Cotchery. These players contributed to one of the worst-ranked pre-season receiving cores in the league! But they, and especially Tight End Greg Olsen, have stepped up magnificently this season to put their names out to the rest of the league.

Cam Newton has been on fire this season. His 35 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns have been the most celebrated points in the league, with Cam giving away every single football he’s scored with this season. I’d like to think it’s keeping the feel-good, laid-back aura around the team. But maybe Tom Brady should have done the same last season to keep the footballs from the officials… I agreed with many others that Cam Newton should be the league MVP, because he single-handedly led this offence all season, coming up with top notch performances and clutch throws whenever Carolina has needed them. He’s quite a polarizing player among the league and the fans mainly due to his extravagant celebrating ( dabbing has gone viral with even Hilary Clinton of all people learning how to dab ), his fickle nature with officials and media. But this season he has risen above all of that to put his name into the “elite” category of quarterbacks. His play has been wonderful along with his charisma. Both have been key to the Panthers getting to the Super Bowl because of course he has played well, but it’s his laid-back nature and ability to not let any errors from either himself or any of his teammates to stick in his mind that makes the difference. He just shakes it off and gets on with the next play; this allows his teammates to play happy and carefree, not having to worry about a mistake and in 17 out of 18 cases this season they have won so it’s obviously having a good effect.

Their defense this season has been the other element to propel them to the Super Bowl. This has been down to the combined brilliance of Star Linebacker Luke Kuechly, Defensive Tackles Kaawan Short and Star Lotulelei along with Cornerback Josh Norman, which has  brought this defense from 10th in total yards up to 6th in the league and from 13th in sacks to 6th. Having a defense this belligerent is a huge plus because in six of the past 13 Super Bowls, the winning team has been ranked between 15th and 19th offensively (2000 & 2012 Ravens, 2001 & 2003 Patriots, 2005 Steelers and 2007 Giants), and on three occasions over the same period, a #1 offense has lost to offensive units ranked 19th (2001 Patriots over Rams), 24th(2002 Buccaneers over Raiders) and 16th (2007 Giants over Patriots).

Denver Broncos 

This has been a very intriguing season for Denver who kept up with the Panthers till week 7 and then  lost surprisingly in Indianapolis to the Colts who ended up finishing 8-8. But it was versus the Vikings when Manning started a 6 game streak of finishing every game with more interceptions than touchdowns, that to the surprise of nearly any millennials, Peyton Manning, the supposed “best quarterback of his generation” in their eyes was dropped and surprisingly Osweiler came in to lead the Broncos to 6 wins and a playoff birth.  Manning came back in from a “Plantar Fasciitis” treatment which seemed to me to be quite a shifty move and a sly way to pull the wool over our eyes about his abject performance. To my astonishment, Manning, who had been so pitiful, came back in to start and has played well, not throwing an interception since his return in week 17. So their offence has relied on the run mostly from CJ Anderson with hints of Ronnie Hillman. This season they have played well enough to ease some of the pressure from either quarterback, so  versus Carolina they will have to play very well and give Manning a wider field to find his favorite targets.

To say that Denver’s defense has been suffocating would be an understatement. They are No. 1 in total defense (283.1 yards), No. 1 in pass defense (199.6), No. 1 in sacks (52), No. 3 against the run (83.6), No. 4 in scoring (18.5) and No. 3 in defensive touchdowns (5). Their defense is extremely similar to Carolina in the fact that in some positions, they have the best in the league such as Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Aquib Talib, Chris Harris and TJ Ward, who all apart from Ward were voted to the Pro Bowl which is incredible and Miller was voted All Pro. Watching them play the Patriots in the AFC Conference game, it was astonishing how quickly the D-Line (and it wasn’t just one or two but all of them) got off the line and instantly had pressure on Tom Brady. This might have been the poor quality of New England’s Line, but either way this is a frightening sight for Carolina and will have to rely I think on Cam Newton’s rushing ability to escape the seemingly eternal pressure from Ware and Miller.

Verdict

So in the end, I think that Denver’s defense will cement their legacy by managing a last- minute stand against Cam Newton, and give Denver their 3rd Super Bowl Victory and the ultimate send-off for Peyton and Ware. Age seems to be catching up with them so this might be their last chance to win a Super Bowl. But it will be a good game and Carolina will provide a solid performance but their quest for a super bowl will keep going on. I will be watching it all so I hope all of you enjoy it as much as I will!

Predicted score: Carolina 24 Denver 30

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NFL Playoffs: Conference Championship Preview

Hello World,

Last weekend we had the Divisional round, and it certainly didn’t disappoint, with some cracking and unforgettable games. Arizona dispatched Green Bay 26-20 in OT, with Larry Fitzgerald having a game that will long be remembered – 8 catches for 176 yards – sending his Cardinals to the NFC Championship game. Here they will play Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, who defeated the Seahawks 31-24 in a game of two halves, as the Panthers raced out to a 31 zip lead at halftime, with Seattle nearly doing the impossible in scoring 24 unanswered points. But it wasn’t enough, and Carolina advances to their first NFC Championship since 2005.  In the AFC, the Patriots calmly dispatched the Chiefs 27-20,with the game never looking like slipping out of New England’s fingers. In Denver, the Broncos’ defense came up big, forcing a fumble from Steelers’ back up running back Fitzgerald Toussaint with only 5 minutes left, to seal the game, beating the Steelers 23-1. Moving onto the AFC Championship game, they will now play the Patriots in Denver.

Sunday 

AFC Championship Game : Denver Broncos vs New England Patriots 

This might be the longest game, grinding and tumultuous for both Brady and Manning, but somehow we have arrived at the same conclusion – the AFC Championship – with both playing for what seems like ” their last opportunity ” at a Lombardi trophy. This is the 17th meeting between the two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks and mostly likely the last one as Manning is 39 years old and his play has rapidly declined this season.

Both teams this season have had their problems, but we will start with New England, who have been – at about every  point of the season, since week 4 –  decimated by injuries,  with key players seeming to go down like flies in Foxborough. This ultimately hasn’t stopped Tom Brady from leading his team to a 12-4 record and a deep playoff run. This season, he has worked wonders with the players that were left on the roster, such as James White and KeShawn Martin, and deserves the majority of the credit if the Patriots are  to reach the Super Bowl.

The Denver Broncos this season have been led by their dominant defense which ranks as the first in the league in total yards, yards per game and top three in points allowed per game. So it was to many people’s surprise that Peyton Manning started off this season so poorly and was benched (with 9 TDs  and 17 INTs) in week 12, in favour for Brock Osweiler. The Broncos defeated the Patriots in week 12, this season 30-24, with their running game clinching the win with over 160 yards. Peyton has recently entered the fray again, after recovering from his injury, to guide his team to the title game and perhaps ultimately the denouement of his esteemed career.

As everyone knows the quarterback position is the most important in the game. So the Patriots should be encouraged by the fact that Brady has played every game this season and is in such good form, just as they get their star players back. In contrast, Peyton has had his worst statistical season since he entered the league and doesn’t look like being back to his superlative best. Brady will win this game for the Patriots, beating Peyton for the 12th time and in turn reaching his 7th Super Bowl.

NFC Championship Game : Arizona Cardinals vs Carolina Panthers 

These are the two teams that have been the the best all season, which is why it’s a shame this game isn’t happening as the Super Bowl. With the Cardinals having won 13 games and the Panthers 15 games, their seasons have been eventful to say the least. They have a combined 17 Pro Bowl players and I think, if it weren’t for the look of bias and other players going  in on reputation, then there should have been more in the Pro Bowl.

The Panthers have been the number one team this season , going 15-1 in the regular season, with Cam Newton “Dabbing” his way to an MVP trophy after his amazing 45 combined ( 35 throwing and 10 rushing ) touchdowns this season, making this the most touchdowns in  a season since 2013. The Cardinals are going to have a tough time stopping this man who’s in the form of his life. The Panthers defense this season, has turned up to play ranked as the  6th best overall and they lead the league in interceptions with 24. They have a strong spine on defense with 4 Pro Bowlers  ( Josh Norman, Thomas Davis, Kawaan Short and Luke Kuechly )  and Cam Newton, who some are putting as the ultimate dual threat quarterback: this should be a tough game for Arizona.

The Cardinals, this season, have been immense on both sides of the ball as their offence, led by Carson Palmer, was ranked 1st in total yards, average yards per game and 2nd in points per game only behind to Carolina. Arizona I believe has the most complete roster in the NFL, with star players at every level on each side of the ball: on offence they have game changers in Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown, not to mention their quarterback Carson Palmer who finished the season 4th in yards and 2nd in touchdowns. But what might put them ahead is the fiery, competitive and daring nature of their coach Bruce Arians. He has managed to put this Arizona team into another gear this season, especially with the ” Next Man Up” mantra. Rookie David Johnson has replaced Chris Johnson amazingly well and more with over 1000 all purpose yards this season, after CJ2K fractured his tibia in week 12, but has said that if they reach the Super Bowl he will be “ready to go”.

In conclusion, I believe the Cardinals will win a tight game in Carolina, because they have a healthier squad at the moment: Carolina’s star running back Johnathan Stewart has been limited in practice this week. I think he will play because you only get so many opportunities to get to the NFC Championship game. But not being 100% will hinder this run-focused Panthers offence, leaving their defense out on the field for longer, making them more tired and vulnerable to big plays and a lot of points. Also, let’s just see what Josh Norman is made of in this match-up with Larry Fitzgerald. Having been playing out of his mind this season, we will see if Norman can cope with a fired-up Fitzgerald, who’s desperate to make it to his second Super Bowl.

 

NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round

Hello World,

Wow! What a weekend of games we had! Starting off on Saturday with the Kansas City Chiefs dismantling the Houston Texans 30-0 in Houston, I have to say it got embarrassing for Texan fans by the end of the second 3rd quarter. Later on we saw an aggressive game between the Steelers and the Bengals that will unfortunately be remembered for a late meltdown by the Bengals’ defense giving the Steelers an easy field goal to win the game. Then on Sunday we had the 3rd coldest game between Seattle vs Minnesota that ended with a 10-9 win for Seattle after a missed 27 field goal with only 26 seconds left by Minnesota. After that we had a matchup between Green Bay and Washington, where Aaron Rodgers gave his best performance in a while as the Packers won 38-15. This leads us into the divisional round games this weekend and with the two best best teams in each division hosting a game: it should get interesting.

Saturday

Kansas City Chiefs vs New England Patriots

Kansas City last weekend put on a show, starting off with a 106 yard kickoff return for a TD by Knile Davis, giving them the scruff of the neck then they never letting go and forcing 5 turnovers from the Texans on their way to a 30-0 win. Amazingly the Patriots have had six first-round byes in a row, which is the longest streak since 1990 (when it was introduced) for two teams. Another mind blowing stat is that for Tom Brady, this game will tie him for the most playoff games in NFL history (30) with Adam Vinatieri!

However, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows for both teams. The Chiefs, last weekend, lost their dynamic wide receiver Jeremy  Maclin with a knee injury, who this season along with tight end Travis Kelce has been the only passing attack for Alex Smith. So his return to 100% is essential for the Chiefs because without his presence, the Patriots’ secondary will erase Kelce, forcing their other receivers to make a play. Meanwhile for the Patriots, they are waiting on their own star receiver as Rob Gronkowski is questionable for this weekend as he’s received a knee injection, for his bruised MCL in week 12.

I’m going to predict a New England victory over Kansas City. This is due to the fact that if Justin Houston and Tamba Hali don’t play for Kansas City due to injury or aren’t 100% healthy, then Brady will have all day in the pocket to surgically dissect the Chiefs’ defense as he so usually does in the playoffs.

Green Bay Packers vs Arizona Cardinals 

This is a Green Bay team that has blown hot and cold this season, demonstrated by their comprehensive win last weekend over the Redskins and their pummeling loss by the Cardinals in week 16. The key for Green Bay is their core of receivers needs to create some separation: I think that having James Jones and DeVante Adams gives them the slowest group left in the playoffs from both conferences, not a key to winning the Super Bowl.

It is hard to tell with Arizona, because their Head Coach Bruce Arians said that his team will always play hard and won’t rest starters for the sake of doing so. This is why their mauling by the Seahawks in week 17 was so surprising, especially as Arizona possess one of the most complete rosters in the NFL and have stuck to Arians’ mantra all year, having ridden a nine game winning streak before playing Seattle.

I believe that Arizona will win this game comfortably at home, due to the fact that Green Bay doesn’t have the offensive firepower to even distract this Cardinals secondary, with James Jones of all people leading their passing attack. This gives Green Bay effectively no other option than to try and establish the run, which I’m afraid, Green Bay fans, isn’t happening because Arizona is ranked 6th in the league in run defense.

Sunday

Seattle Seahawks vs Carolina Panthers 

It was hard to decipher the Seahawks’ performance last weekend against the Vikings. I think the -25 wind chill affected their offence as they only ran for 97 yards whilst throwing for just 129 yards. Russell Wilson as per usual did enough to win, by leading his team down the field to get the winning score. This time though against the Panthers, it could be difficult for the Seahawks to get their offence up and running. As their offensive line has given up 46 sacks this season which is tied for the 6th most in the league, while the Panthers’ defensive line has 44 sacks, the 6th most in the league.

The Panthers then will need to replicate their performance from week 6 when they beat the Seahawks in Seattle 27-23, to get anywhere near a win. Greg Olsen was their catalyst last time these two teams met as he grabbed the winning touchdown score with only 32 seconds left and he needs to be back to his best for Carolina to have any downfield threat and win the game.

Ultimately I think the Panthers – who are at home for this game where they haven’t lost their last 11 matches dating back to week 15 last season – will win this game in Overtime to reach the NFC Championship. Cam Newton will run in for a touchdown to seal the game and send the home crowd into raptures, as it will be their first championship game in 10 years.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Denver Broncos

The Steelers last week were struck by both sides of the proverbial sword, by winning on the road vs the Bengals, but having their star players injured: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, separated his shoulder in the 3rd Quarter and Wide Receiver Antonio Brown was concussed on a late and dirty hit, by linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Both of them were assessed day by day on whether or not they will play: if they don’t it will seriously hinder Pittsburgh’s offence as both of them have been in the top 5 at their position this season.

Gary Kubiak has decided to start Peyton Manning this weekend over Brock Osweiler. Many other people and analysts are saying that this might be Peyton’s swansong as Osweiler has been a step up from Manning throughout the latter half of the regular season. I do think though that with this being Manning’s first full game since week 11, he will be quite rusty and struggle to move the ball early on. I think that it depends on their first 3 drives: if Manning is able to get into a rhythm and Kubiak establishes the run, then he will be able to manage the game from there – perhaps to a Denver victory.

In conclusion, I believe that everything depends on Brown’s and Roethlisberger’s health. If they play at 100% then the Steelers’ offence will power them to victory, but if not then CJ Anderson and Ronnie Hillman will run all over the Steelers defense for over 120 yards, buffering Manning’s career from riding off into the sunset. But I’m going to back the Steelers for a 10 point win and into the AFC Championship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFL Playoffs : WildCard Preview

Hello World,

We reached a climactic ending to the regular season last weekend with a lot of surprising results such as Miami beating New England, The Jets falling to the Bills, The Vikings finally winning in Lambeau against the Packers and just the severity of Seattle’s win over Arizona. These results cemented the playoff teams and their seedings in both the AFC and the NFC. Wildcard weekend will take place this weekend on the 9th and 10th of January. It should throw up some interesting games and duels between great players, especially seeing as we have historic rivals playing one another and rematches of classic games.

Saturday 

Kansas City versus Houston Texans.

I believe that Kansas City will win this game.  For a start, they are the hottest team,  having ridden a 10 game winning streak to an 11-5 record, becoming the only the second team since 1970 to do so, whereas the Texans won the worst division in the NFL with a 9-7 record, playing with 4 different quarterbacks all season.

The Texans’ strength is in their defense which finished the regular season ranked 3rd overall. This is because they have the greatest defensive player of his generation in JJ Watt who has 74.5 sacks in only 5 seasons, and along with him Whitney Mercilus, who has had a career year with 12 sacks.

Kansas City, overall have the 6th best rushing attack in the league, spearheaded by a 2 headed rushing monster, with Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware combining for 10 TDs and 1036 yards.  For the Chiefs to win, they have to keep running the ball at Houston and keep the ball out of Alex Smith’s hands so he can’t hand it over to the much improved Houston secondary.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals have the worst situation possible. Just a few weeks ago, they were in prime position for the 1 seed in the AFC,  but Andy Dalton got injured, and they lost 2 of their last 4 games, falling to the 3 seed. With Andy Dalton not being ready for this game, they have to face Pittsburgh with AJ McCarron under center. Trying to keep pace with their offense is going to be a tough task for this 2nd year QB.

At the start of the season the Steelers lost Le’Veon Bell for the season with an ACL tear, so have had DeAngelo Williams step in who has produced 907 yards and 11 TDs. But last Sunday he left the game with an ankle injury so they won’t have him for this game, leaving the Bengals to sit back and let Big Ben throw at them all day, because they know that Pittsburgh don’t possess a legitimate running game.

I’m predicting a Steelers win because the most important position is the quarterback and Pittsburgh have the vastly superior player in Big Ben versus McCarron. Also the Bengals have lost in the 1st round of the playoffs every year between 2011-2014 so I’m expecting them to continue their unfortunate streak.

Sunday

Seattle Seahawks vs Minnesota Vikings 

If Kansas City are the hottest team in the NFL, then Seattle are a close second. They have won their last 7 games in a row, with Russell Wilson establishing stronger connections with Tyler Lockett and Cooper Helfet in those games. But it’s having Marshawn Lynch back from an abdominal injury which will encourage all Seattle fans this weekend.

Minnesota have Adrian Peterson who last weekend sealed his 3rd rushing title, so for the Vikings to stand a chance they need to keep Wilson and Co off the ball and ride Peterson for 20 carries or more to see how much he can do, then Bridgewater can try to take advantage downfield with play action passes.

I believe that overall both of these teams are quite equal especially as the Vikings will be getting back their defensive players such as Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith. However, due to Minnesota’s lack of a passing game I can’t see them posing much of a threat to the Legion of Boom who will stack the box against Adrian Peterson and ultimately win.

Green Bay Packers vs Washington Redskins

The Packers have struggled their way into the playoffs this season. It looked like at the start everything would be historic with Green Bay starting 6-0 but then went 4-6 in the last 10 games with Aaron Rodgers spending more time under pressure or being sacked than throwing touchdowns, but that doesn’t stop Green Bay being a sneaky Super Bowl contender.

For Washington, Kirk Cousins has been a revelation this season throwing for 4,166 yards, 29 TDs and only 11 INTs.  Jordan Reed and Pierre Garcon have been playing absolutely out of their minds in the last weeks, proving that Washington does have the weapons to put away this average Green Bay secondary, especially at home in Washington.

I believe that Washington will win this game because Green Bay have too many flaws for even Aaron Rodgers to overcome,especially in their offensive line. The Redskins with home field advantage, a quarterback on red hot form and a defense that was stout throughout the season, will win this game quite close in Overtime.

 

 

 

 

Midseason Award Winners 2015

It’s the end of week 8 and week 9 is about to start, so it’s the perfect time to show which players have stood out above the rest since week 4, and put their teams in a prime position to make it to the playoffs.

MVP – Tom Brady 

He has been playing out of this world this season and has lead the Patriots undefeated so far. He’s on pace to crush his numbers from the historical 2007 season because so far, he’s had a wide open Gronkowski to hit or can just dump it off to Dion Lewis, an emerging star now on the ground. He’s second in passing yards only to Philip Rivers, tied for first in passing TDs with Carson Palmer and first in passer rating. So expect this all to continue for Brady in his quest for another super bowl!

Offensive Player of the Year – Rob Gronkowski 

He is optimising the New England Patriots at the moment with his utter dominance all over the field. Whether he is blocking, running routes or steamrolling defenders, there is nobody on earth that can cover possibly the best tight end of all time. So this season he is on pace for nearly 1,500 yards and 16 TDs showing off how unstoppable he is when he gets going.

Defensive Player of the Year – Charles Woodson 

So far this season he has been on fire; Wodson leads the league in interceptions with 5 at age of 39! His great play has been a stand out on Oakland’s average defense, with his interceptions so far this season moving him up 5th all time in the NFL with 65! Oakland now has a winning record in November for the first time since 2011 giving them some hope to grab a wildcard spot in a crowded AFC. They have a huge thanks to give to Woodson as his leadership and play-making on defense is making them a contender for the first time in years.

Offensive Rookie of the Year – Todd Gurley

Wow! He has blown the league away in the past few weeks! Gurley in 5 games has 575 yards rushing, 3 TDs and is averaging 6.1 yards per carry. Gurley has also set an NFL record with 4 straight games with at least 125 yards rushing! With all of these numbers there are comparisons to Adrian Peterson and Eric Dickerson. I believe that he will continue this streak, and break Dickerson’s rushing record to capture Offensive Rookie of the year and maybe more….

Defensive Rookie of the Year – Leonard Williams 

This man has been a cut above the rest of the other defensive rookies mid-way through the season. He has 24 tackles and 0.5 sacks but it’s his power and ability that means he can’t be left one on one with a guard, so offensive lines are having to now double team him which is leaving the other extremely talented players on that Jets line such as Sheldon Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson and David Harris to get to the quarterback. If he keeps going at this rate, the defense might carry the Jets to the playoffs.

Comeback Player of the Year – Carson Palmer

Now this award could go to many others on the Cardinals roster as well as  Eric Berry or Adrian Peterson but as quarterback is the most important position in sports and Carson Palmer is playing as well as nearly anyone in the league with 2,386 yards, a 20:6 TD to INT ratio and a passer rating over 110.2. He is leading Arizona’s vertical offence to new places this year as it looks like Bruce Arians is just letting him have fun. All of this after he tore his ACL last year and missed the most of the season makes him the leader for this award.

Coach of the Year – Marvin Lewis

He has worked wonders for this team; to go from the perennial laughing stock of the league to undefeated so far this season is amazing. The Bengals so often throughout his tenure have been the ‘almost’ team performing well in the regular season and then for 4 years been hammered in the wildcard round, so now this season it looks like the identity of the team has changed with the most potent offence in the league and a rejuvenated defense. Marvin Lewis has to get an award for such a turnaround!

My Main Takeaways from Jaguars vs Bills. International Series Game 13

Hello World!

It was a great game between the Bills and Jags at Wembley, with a splendid atmosphere reverberating around the stadium as fans of both teams and NFL in general rallied around an exciting ending. So here are my takeaways from the game.

  1. EJ Manuel isn’t an NFL player at all….

How does this guy have a job in the NFL? It’s insane. He could barely hit his receivers all game and hardly put five passes together for a drive. He had a thread of calamitous plays which started with his drive with a 9 yard pass too low for Robert Woods to make any yards after the catch on 2nd & 18; then on the next play, he failed to see the blitz,  got hit and fumbled, and it was taken back for a touchdown by Chris Clemens.  It was kicked off to the Bills who knelt the ball down. Then, on the first play of the drive from their own 20, Manuel throws a horrible pick 6 where he stares down his receiver and Telvin Smith sits in his zone watching Manuel’s eyes, then takes it to the house for a 21-3 lead. It was just an awful, awful read by Manuel. To put it into perspective, Manuel conceded 2 touchdowns in only 7 seconds of play, but to make matters even worse he then throws another interception only 2 minutes later to Paul Posluszny on 3rd & 16. He did rally them back well for 298 yards and 2 touchdowns and a comeback but ultimately performed very poorly in place of Tyrod Taylor.

2. TJ Yeldon was a star!

He injected some wonderful pace and decisiveness into the Jags’ offence. While Bortles only completed 13 passes for 182 yards on 29 attempts, it was Yeldon’s running that moved Jacksonville down the field with 115 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown giving him 5.8 yard per carry. His longest run of the day was a beautiful 28 yard run for a touchdown where he patiently waited for a gap, broke a tackle in the backfield and then took it to the house. I haven’t a clue what was going on when Greg Olson decided to put in Toby Gerhart to try and get him a touchdown inside the 1 yard line. Yeldon had been playing so well for the whole game and would have found the endzone to seal the win. So expect more from Yeldon throughout the season as he impressed here.

3. Flags…..

Throughout the game both teams were very guilty of committing penalties, with the Bills committing 10 for 87 yards and the Jags also committing 10 for 66 yards. The majority of these were very petty, either delay of game, holding or offside. But I believe the refs got the momentum-changing decision wrong with a very questionable pass interference call on Bradley Roby. With 3:15 to play on 3rd & 15, Brian Walters for the Jags ran an out-route with Roby on his coat tails all the way towards the side line, Bortles threw the pass just ahead of both of them out of bounds. The refs felt though that as Walters leapt towards the ball Roby pushed him, so called pass interference on him. It looked very questionable on the replay that Roby even touched Walters at all! So the Bills can feel aggrieved about that decision as it gave the Jags a lifeline to win the game especially as throughout the whole game they didn’t look like converting a 3rd & 15 at all!

4. Standings!

As the Jags won, it now puts them at 2-5 on the season, tied 2nd in the AFC SOUTH and surprisingly only a game back from the Colts, their next match being against the Jets. So I’m predicting that even with this victory and some momentum, they won’t have enough offensive fire power to get past the top defense in the NFL especially in New York. Now the Bills fall to 3-4 and last in the AFC EAST. Luckily for the Bills they now have their bye week giving their star players time to rest and recover especially Tyrod Taylor who they desperately need. After that they have Miami at home which is a must win for both teams so that will be an exciting matchup!

I was thrilled to be at my 3rd International Series game which was unexpectedly exciting! Can’t wait for next time….

Happy Halloween everyone!

My Preview of Jaguars vs Bills. International Series Game 13

Hello World!

At the moment these two teams are a combined 3-8. Before the start of the season, many people predicted the Bills to sit atop the Brady-less Patriots in the AFC EAST because of their dynamic, dominant defence being able to force turnovers at will.  These same people predicted that this season needs  to be one of progress under Gus Bradley for the Jags because he’s been there 3 years with no more than 4 wins being the usual finish for the team.  Like the Bills, they went into free agency for a playmaker. They decided on Julius Thomas from the Broncos, who is a wonderful player but he has been injured to start the season for them which is not exactly what Blake Bortles wanted as you can’t create chemistry with a player not on the field.

So the Bills come into this game having been both physically and tactically overwhelmed by the 6-0 Bengals, and wanting to improve their record to 4-3. A loss here against the Jags would put them at 3-4 in the AFC EAST, where the Patriots are 5-0 and the Jets are 4-1. This would effectively end their division chances or at least the chance for a wild card spot. So to win this match they overall need to just cut down on committing penalties on offence and defence. It has been killing their drives recently as they have committed the most in the league. Also they need to run the ball to kill the clock on Blake Bortles and his playmakers on the outside. As TJ Yeldon is injured it puts into place Toby Gelhart. I reckon that they won’t be running the ball anytime soon against this Bills front seven. This gives their offence more time on the field to hopefully rack up the points. Without their triplets we will see how that goes…..

On the flip side, the Jags desperately need Blake Bortles to stop throwing pick 6s. He has the most so far in the season and had the most in his rookie season last year. The one he threw last week against the Texans was back-breaking to their hopes of a second win of the season.  His box score for the past couple of weeks has looked impressive but as always looks can be deceiving and the only thing that you should turn your eyes to is the win-loss column where the Jags are 1-5. The Jags’ receivers have been on the upside with Allen Robinson looking like a superstar in their loss to the Texans at home.

Finally a matchup I’m looking forward to is the Bills’ cornerbacks Stephon Gillmore and rookie Ronald Darby going up against Allen Robinson and Marquise Lee.  Whoever wins this matchup will go a long way in deciding the outcome of the game. So I’m predicting a loud, passionate atmosphere at Wembley this Sunday with the Bills coming away with a win 28-27 over a 300 yard 3 touchdown performance from Blake Bortles.

My NFL Predictions for the 2015 Season Part 4

Hello World! 

This is the final instalment of my predictions for the upcoming season. We have reached the top eight teams in the NFL, these are the teams that are going to challenge hard this season for the top seeds in their conferences. These teams are the like the original Star Wars, there are others out there. However none will be as good as these, as more are coming everything might be different soon.

8. Kansas City Chiefs 11-5

Some of you might be surprised to still see the Chiefs here and not further down, but this is my year to pour too much faith in Kansas City and choose the Chiefs as the new, different team to make it into the playoffs, basing this alone by the way there defence played last year, with Dontari Poe, Eric Berry and Justin Houston in particular having a great season. This season they drafted Marcus Peters in the first round to try and add a shutdown element to their corners, as well as getting Derrick Johnson back from injury, which sidelined him for the whole of last year. So it’s down to veteran Alex Smith at quarterback, and Jeremy Maclin on the outside to play well, to give the defences something different to plan for, other than Jamaal Charles, that will give the Chiefs the best formula for a playoff birth this season.

7. Arizona Cardinals 11-5

The Cardinals were playing so well last season and then the injury bug hit them. It was losing Carson Palmer that derailed there season, having to then put in their backups who weren’t ready at all. So this season with Carson Palmer, Tyrann Mathieu and Sean Weatherspoon healthy and players like John Brown, Michael Floyd and Patrick Peterson all bursting to break out, it should be a good season for the Cardinals! The only thing in their way is their schedule, to get a good enough record to host a playoff game and not have to go to a Dallas or Carolina, so they can have a deep run in the postseason.

6. New England Patriots 12-4

Wow! What an offseason for the Patriots with the suspension of Brady and Blount, the loss of Revis and Browner and accusation of Reggie Wayne. So after all that the Patriots still have Bill Belichick the best coach in the league, who will coach Jimmy Garoppolo to at least 2 or 3 wins whilst Brady is suspended, giving the Patriots a solid base to get to the playoffs. The worrying thing for the Patriots is who is going to start at cornerback and running back for them for the season. If their defence doesn’t generate any turnovers or sacks, there are just some things that even Tom Brady can’t get past, so the Patriots will not be repeating this year. 

5. Philadelphia Eagles 12-4

The Eagles have been very crazy this offseason with the trading of Nick Foles, Lesean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin. After getting Sam Bradford, Demarco Murray, Byron Maxwell,Ryan Mathews and Nelson Agholor, I think that Chip Kelly has made the right call as these trades and drafts will pay off for him, and the Eagles organisation. The offence will be a whirlwind in Philly, blazing past opponents with only the clock stopping them, so it’s the defence that has to step up and provide a bit of back bone for the team, even though it might not matter with the amount of points the offence will score! So I have the Eagles ahead of the Cowboys in the NFC EAST and one of the top seeds in the NFC, who knows how it could pan out for them this year? 

4. Indianapolis Colts 12-4 

After reaching the AFC CHAMPIONSHIP last year and getting hammered by New England, Indy has oddly restructured their offence and not their defence, by giving Ty Hilton a huge new contract, drafting Phillip Dorsett and adding Frank Gore and Andre Johnson. This seems strange as it looked like it was their defence which was holding them back from the Super Bowl by allowing their opponents to race away, giving Andrew Luck a difficult task to haul them back. This year it will be different, because unlike last year they have a running back in Frank Gore, who can see holes and actually run downhill, which will be a valuable time waster for the Colts in keeping their own defence off the field. 

3. Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4

The Steelers last year had an historic offence with Big Ben getting six touchdown passes in two consecutive games!! In my opinion, they have a top 3 running back, a top 4 wide receiver and a top 3 quarterback, but after losing veteran defensive players in Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor, also having high pick defensive players not pan out, the usually great Steeler defence may not live up to its predecessors this season, as no one knows who is staring at cornerback or safety! But with Mike Tomlin to pin it all together, get them into the playoffs and possibly even further, I’m backing the Steelers to have a very good season.

2. Seattle Seahawks 12-4

After winning one of the best playoffs games ever, by coming back from a large deficit, beating the Packers in Overtime and dealing out a large amount of hurt in Wisconsin. It only seemed ironic that Seattle gave up a large fourteen point lead in the forth quarter and then lost in the last seconds to New England and the a repeat of the Super Bowl. So when this offseason the Seahawks traded for Jimmy Graham, all the so-called analysts said it would do wonders for them, giving them another dimension to their already prolific offence and already anointing them world champions! Now with a depleted offensive line to protect Russell Wilson and stars like Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor not playing either injured or negotiating contracts, I think it will will give Pete Carroll a little blip but nothing they can’t handle, so I think the Seahawks will be right back in the playoffs again this season.

1. Green Bay Packers 13-3

I have the Packers at number one! Justly deserved, I believe, as they have playmakers on both sides of the ball, with one of the best offensive seasons ever last year commanded by Aaron Rodgers. This year he will be back to his undeniable best, helped by Eddy Lacy who is going to hit 1400 total yards this year while he is throwing to players like Randell Cobb and DeVante Adams. If he can just stay injury free for the playoffs, I have the Packers winning it all in San Fran where Rodgers went to college and who he wanted to be drafted by in 2005. With another amazing season by Rodgers on offence and Clay Matthews on defence getting to 15 sacks, as well as Julilus Peppers, Haha Clinton-Dix and B.J Raji all getting more freedom to cause chaos, it’s going to be heaven for Green Bay in the Bay Area next February. 


My NFL Predictions for the 2015 season Part 3 

Hello World,

We are now going through the teams that are on the precipice of the playoffs. If things fall right for them they will in the postseason, but a bad bounce of a ball or a wrong call not challenged, they will be at home watching from their bedrooms. As these teams could be surprising us this season in a good way or a bad way, this will make it very exciting for us fans. 

The Mirage

15.New York Jets 9-7

This was an unbalanced offseason for the Jets this year. On one hand they brought in Todd Bowles from Arizona, Brandon Marshall from Chicago, Derelle Revis from New England and drafted very well getting Leonard Williams in the 1st round as well as Bryce Petty. But on the other hand firstly Sheldon Richardson got suspended recently, then seemingly with that behind them Geno Smith their starting quarterback gets his jaw broken by a teammate and is being replaced by Ryan Fitzpatrick to start the season. Ultimately I have the Jets this high due to my hope that their defence will be top 3 in the NFL and will be able to generate points when the offence can’t, leading them to a few victories but I don’t think the Jets will be reaching the postseason just yet.

14. Baltimore Ravens 9-7

This season the Ravens will finish with a winning record again. But unfortunately not make it into the playoffs due to the strength of their division with the Steelers and the Bengals. This is going to happen as they don’t possess a tight end of any caliber as security blanket over the middle for Joe Flacco as Dennis Pitta is on IR at the moment. Also on defence their best players from last season Suggs and Dumervil are getting older so their performance might drop off a bit leaving you to think where are the sacks going to come from this season. But having young performing players such as Timmy Jernigan, CJ Mosley and Breshad Perriman should give Ravens fans plenty of hope for years to come.

13. Detroit Lions 10-6

The Lions this year as recent years are loaded with weapons on both sides of the ball, such as Calvin Johnson, Deandre Levey and Golden Tate. So they will reach double digit wins this year as their defence which was in the top 2 overall last year has kept the majority of the players that made it great at wrecking havoc all last season. But it rests on Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson who apart from the 5000 yard and 1900 yard season in 2012 haven’t I believe been on the same wave length since then with one either injured or inconsistent as the other isn’t and then visa versa. I see it being extremely tight in the NFC NORTH apart from “da bears” so it could fall either way for the men in Detroit.

12. Cincinnati Bengals 10-6

It’s been the same old story for the Bengals for the last four seasons; they reach the playoffs and lose in the wildcard game. This season I see it being no different, even if they have a healthy AJ Green, Geno Atkins and Jeremy Hill who are all exceptional talents and Pro Bowl caliber. It’s because they have Andy Dalton at quarterback, the Red Rifle is known for melting in big games watched by millions so when this season they reach the playoffs with one of the most creative offensives in football this season because of such players as Jeremy Hill, AJ Green, Marvin Jones, Gio Bernard, Mohamed Sanu and Tyler Efiert. Don’t expect anything different from a Hugh Jackson led team, just warning you people! 

11. Minnesota Vikings 10-6

 The Vikings this offseason have been the media darling with many people and experts generating speed on their hype train. I agree with the experts. When you have Adrian Peterson on your team anything is possible, but to have him along with Charles Johnson, Mike Wallace, Kyle Rudolph and Teddy Bridgewater in his second year. You suddenly realise the upside this team has and why it could go far. But this year I have them improving their record and being at the door of the playoffs but not being able to break it down. As injuries hit a team at any point in the season, I don’t believe the Vikings have a deep enough roster to cope when it will hit them. So I in my eyes this organisation needs another year to fully get into character before becoming a team that can run into the playoffs and succeed. 

10. Miami Dolphins 10-6

The Dolphins this offseason have brought in names such as Ndamukong Suh, Kenny Stills and Jordan Cameron. As the Dolphins already have a quarterback in Ryan Tannehill that has been steadily improving each of his seasons as a starter in this league with up and coming second year players such as Lamar Miller and Jarvis Landry and they have names on defence such as Cameron Wake and Brent Grimes. As Tom Brady will be suspended for four games leaving the Patriots probably behind Miami it seems like the time Dolphins fans have waiting for and a chance to get back into the playoffs.They will need Bill Lazor to stoke up a fiery, productive offence for Miami to prosper this year and just restrain Joe Philban from much work at all to help Miami this year.

9. Dallas Cowboys 10-6

As with every offseason, every year the Cowboys have been the talk of the town whether it’s been Dez and his contract, Romo and his back surgery, Jerry Jones in the draft or their running back situation. As Offensive Player of the year last season Demarco Murrary left to join the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys using all of their wit and knowledge, decided to bring in Darren McFadden to battle it out with Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar, for the starting role. Now these names don’t strike fear into a defensive coordinator’s mind like an Adrian Peterson or a LeSean McCoy. This now takes away the one element that made Dallas a contender, a solid running game to take the pressure of Tony Romo in the passing game, so he doesn’t have to force throws late in games to get Dallas the win. As they have the best offensive line and one of the top 5 wide receivers, Dallas will go far this season and who knows how it will finish! 

My NFL Predictions for the 2015 Season Part 2 

Hello world,

This is part two of my predictions into the 2015 Season. This section is about the next 8 teams in my list. These are the teams that will be left to wallow in the wasteland that is mediocrity in the NFL. They are the type of teams that would be placed in same light that Bad Boyz is in terms of Will Smith performances; they’re not Men in Black but they’re not Hitch. I’m saying that  most of these teams will more likely finish 3rd in their division and be planning for next season by Week 16.

NoMansLand 

23. Atlanta Falcons 7-9

This year the Falcons will falter in their quest to go to the playoffs and enter the awkwardness of 7-9. This will happen due to their ongoing questions at offensive line and not having another star offensive weapon to attract the double teams away from Julio Jones. Who himself isn’t Ironman when it comes to injury and if he does go down this season, the Falcons might find themselves in a much worse position than 7-9. Although they did draft well getting Vic Beesley in the first round, who hopefully will provide their defence with a capacity to rush the quarterback this season unlike previous years.

22. Houston Texans 7-9

As you can guess I’m going to sing praises of the Texans but not give them an offseason birth or even a positive record. The Texans have the best defensive player in football who will have an even better season than last, as Jadevon Clowney wil be back to his ferocious best, leaving Watt in a position to thrive. Unfortunately I don’t believe that with Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallet, the Texans can be steady enough to get to double digit wins this season, as Hoyer faltered late last season with the Browns, I can’t see him getting any better even with the upgrades the Texans have over the Browns.

21. New Orleans Saints 7-9

Last season the Saints dropped off from their usual standards, and finished 8-8 with star quarterback Drew Brees seemingly error prone down the last stretch. So with the team losing key players Jimmy Graham, Kenny Stills and Junior Gallette this offseason, I believe the coaches; Sean Payton and Rob Ryan need to step up big time to make this Saints team perform to at a playoff standard and unfortunately I don’t believe they can with this depleted roster.

20. New York Jets 8-8

The Jets this season have a top 6 defence in my eyes after the “homecoming” of Derelle Revis to sure up a shaky secondary last season and the 1st round pick of Danny Shelton who I predict is going to cause mayhem this is season with 7 sacks. It’s just as it always has been, the Jets don’t have a quarterback to just carry the team and put up about 200 yards passing and 2 TDs they’re always so inconsistent and this season I expect nothing more from Geno Smith who will stay the starter but outside the team on his back and into the playoffs.

19. Buffalo Bills 8-8

It all hangs on the quarterback for this Bills team after their amazing offseason, after they brought in star player after star player such as LeSean McCoy, Percy Havin and Charles Clay, as well as keeping the fierce front seven that finished with the most sacks last season and finally bringing in Rex Ryan from the Jets to replace Doug Marrone as Head Coach to add some steel and fire to the locker room. With either Matt Cassel, Ej Manuel or a long shot being Tyrode Taylor lining up behind centre I’m not expecting any of them to deal with the pressure that the team will be under. In the end all of them will start a few games at some point with none of them majorly  impressing to keep their job and guide the Bills to the playoffs, leaving the Bills out of the playoffs once again.

18. Denver Broncos 8-8

At the start of last season the Broncos started like a house on fire and they looked very likely to return to the Super Bowl. But then either Peyton Manning started to feel the effect of his quad or groin injury or just as all old quarterbacks do, his ability fell off a cliff. So this season with no well known running back to start the season the Broncos need the Manning of old to appear or they will finish with an 8-8 record, 3rd in the AFC WEST and miss the playoffs for the first time in five seasons. Signalling the end of the Super Bowl period that John Elway brought Peyton Manning in for and maybe Peyton’s career…..

17. Carolina Panthers 9-7

The Panthers have one of the so-called top 12 quarterbacks in Cam Newton and  arguably best linebacker in football being Luke Kuechly. So as usual the Panthers will rely on their home games this season to rack up their wins. But without a bevy of weapons on the defensive side of the ball to help their superstar player, the Panthers will just finish ahead of the Saints. But will fall in the second round of the playoffs as the lack of a considerable playmaker at running back will allow the their opponents to just lock down on their very talented receivers and nullify their ability to move the ball.

16. San Diego Chargers 9-7

The Chargers have one of the best in Philip Rivers and this season I’m predicting a huge season for Keenan Allen who I believe is vastly underrated as wide receivers go. But as they have lost Antonio Gates for the start of the season and badly need Melvin Gordon to play well to absorb some pressure off Rivers. I believe that the Chargers’ defence isn’t going to take many big steps this season with only Eric Weddle having a season of any importance last year and not having many big names that will make plays to get points on the board. So the Chargers will just miss out on the playoffs this year.