Bears to sign Mike Glennon, NFC North rivals rejoice

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Published on : March 9, 2017

 

The NFL’s new league year is beginning and with it we are seeing a flurry of new signings. This is one of my favorite times of year as teams begin to retool and build their rosters for the new season. It’s an exciting time for fans, who get to play amateur GM and imagine how they would best build their favorite team. And when teams don’t go along with the fan’s ideas of what’s best, they get to light the torches and get out the pitchforks, only to realize once games start that they had no idea what they were talking about. Aside from being excited about what your team might be doing, fans get to revel in the mistakes of their rivals. That’s why I am so excited for what the Chicago Bears are rumored to be working on.

 

 Get this man in a Bears jersey!

 

The Bears are being connected to former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, Mike Glennon. As a Lions fan, I would love to see the Bears sign Mike Glennon. They will have gone from Jay Cutler, a sub-par, but proven and somewhat talented quarterback to a guy that hasn’t seen the field in two years and has one mediocre rookie season as his body of work. Regardless of what the delusional fans in the Windy City want to believe, the Bears have been the gutter trash of the NFC North for a few years now and this move would make sure that trend continues. With the Packers always awesome (even when they suck) and the Vikings riding their defense, I feel like the Bears being respectable again would be too much for my Lions to handle. Better that they sign a garbage quarterback and leave the competitive football to the big boys.

 

This might be unfair to Mike Glennon. The Buccaneers did offer to make him the highest paid back up QB in the league, after all, so he has to at least have some talent. The Bears are reported to be offering him $14.5 million per year. When you say that out loud it seems like a ton but when you’re talking about a starting quarterback it isn’t really that crazy an amount of money. In fact, it puts him right around 21st when you rank starting QB yearly salary in the league. The Bears are betting big on Glennon’s potential and the fact that tons of people in the Buccaneers organization love the guy, but that doesn’t change the fact that he has only ever won five football games in his career.

 

 John Fox might not survive the Mike Glennon experiment.

 

This move reeks of desperation and that should have the the Lions, Vikings, and Packers licking their chops at the prospect of playing Chicago twice a year. Glennon might have the size (6’6″, 225 lbs), potential, starting experience (albeit limited) and knowledge of the game (he has been watching from the sidelines since Jameis Winston was drafted), but he is definitely unproven. He is also going to a team that just decided to let their best receiving option walk in free agency. When this move inevitably blows up in their face and they win five or six games, they will probably be looking for a new head coach. It seems unlikely John Fox will survive another bad season in a city that so loves football. All of that adds up to another three to four years of mediocrity in Chicago. And that most likely has the rest of the NFC North praying for Mike Glennon in a Bears uniform.

 

 


What to do with Tony Romo?

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Published on : February 14, 2017

 

 

What will happen with veteran quarterback Tony Romo? Rookie Dak Prescott kicked ass all last year and soundly won the job in Dallas. Even when Tony was healthy, it was clear that Jason Garrett and company were going to ride the hot hand and stay with Dak. As management plans out the next season, this question begs to be answered. What do you do with a guy like Tony?

 

The one thing we know for sure is that Tony Romo will be leaving the Dallas Cowboys. I’m sure the faithful would love to see him stay on as a backup but Romo is owed way too much money for that type of role. Plus, Tony sees himself as a starter. Those factors say he is going to a new team. His injury history suggests no one is trading for him but you never know. The best guess is that the Jerry Jones will cut the former face of the franchise. This will allow Tony Romo to sign with any team. Let’s check out some of his options.

 

 

San Francisco 49ers

Just hear me out. The 49ers will have zero QB’s under contract once Kap leaves. New GM, new coach, new start. They will need someone who can play day one and bring some leadership to the huddle. Someone to run the offense through. San Fran will no doubt draft a quarterback but throwing that kid right into the fire may not be the best move for development. So bringing in a Tony Romo type on a 3-year deal makes a lot of sense. But most importantly, it would really piss off Cowboy fans. For that alone, this should happen.

 

Chicago Bears

The Bears need a real answer under center. I don’t think anyone in Chicago wants another year of Brian Hoyer or *shutters* Jay Cutler. The team has some weapons on offense and their defense is improving. They are consistent quarterback play away from being competitive. The biggest selling point here is young running back Jordan Howard. He had a stellar rookie campaign and looks to be a complete back. Tony Romo could do much worse than handing off to Howard and playing with that D at Solider Field. Cleveland anyone?

 

 

Miami Dolphins

If the Dolphins ever want to challenge Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the AFC East than they need an upgrade at signal caller. It may be time to pull the plug on the Ryan Tannehill experiment and find someone who can win right now. This type of splashy move could help bring the organization over the hump. Their roster is loaded on both sides of the ball but they need someone to galvanize the unit as a whole. Plus Miami never gets cold. Sounds like Tony Romo could be taking his talents to South Beach.

 

There you have it. Tony Romo is FOR SURE going to one of those three. Or maybe to the Broncos, Texans, Bills, Jets or even back to the Cowboys on a way smaller deal. Or somewhere else. But it’s for sure one of those. I mean all we know is he isn’t going to the Patriots. They already have a guy. I hear he’s good.

 

Anthony’s song.

 

 


Aaron Rodgers is unstoppable

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Published on : January 17, 2017

 

 

How long can this go on for? Who can make it stop? How is it even possible?

 

 

These are just some of the questions football fans around the world are asking about Aaron Rodgers and his fantastical feats of football magic. Unless you’ve been living on Mars, you know by now that the Green Bay Packers are in the midst of an eight game win streak. After starting the 2016 NFL season off with a 4-6 record and on the brink of irrelevancy, the team has turned it around and is within striking distance of a Super Bowl berth. This is thanks in large part to Aaron Rodgers and the work he has done on the football field.

 

As a Lions fan, this guy has been ripping my metaphorical guts out for years now. There was a long time that I believed that many of the more amazing things he was able to do were flukes. Everyone is bound to have a few unbelievable plays go their way if they are on the field long enough, right? Well, I was very, very wrong. There’s no explanation for what he does week after week, other than that this guy is the best and most clutch player in the NFL. You have no idea how much it hurts me to say that.

 

 

I’ve wanted Aaron Rodgers and his team’s luck to run out for as long as I can remember and no matter how many sacrifices I make to the football gods, it just hasn’t happened. Leading me to the conclusion that it isn’t luck at all, he is just that good. He is the best there is and I just want the nightmare to end. Aaron Rodgers has single handedly carried the Packers this season and some of the miracles he has worked have left people speechless.

 

Take last Sunday’s divisional round matchup against the Dallas Cowboys for example. The Packers jumped out to a lead against the Cowboys. Aaron Rodgers was doing all his normal stuff. Evading pressure, escaping the pocket, buying tons of time with his legs and then rifling some of the craziest throws you’ve ever seen down field for huge completions. You know, run of the mill Rodgers stuff. The kind of stuff that makes you pull your own hair out if he is doing it against your team. But the Cowboys battles back and managed to tie the game up late in the fourth quarter. En route to that game-tying field goal by Dan Bailey, the Cowboys spiked the ball to stop the clock. When they did this I got a very sick feeling in my stomach.

 

 

By spiking the ball, the Cowboys left the Green Bay Packers with 35 seconds on the clock after the aforementioned field goal. Anyone who knows his body of work knows that 35 seconds is an eternity for Aaron Rodgers. At first glance, things looked to be going in the Cowboys favor. A sack on first down and an incompletion on second, had the Packers sitting at third-and-20 with only 18 seconds to play in the game. Surely this thing would be going to overtime and the Cowboys would have one last chance to end Aaron Rodgers’ reign of terror.

 

Then, he went full blown Rodgers mode and did what he always does in the biggest moments. Rodgers scrambled to the left and bought enough time to be able to throw a 36 yard bullet to the very edge of the field of play. He threw one of the prettiest passes you’ll ever see to the exact spot he intended and his tight end, Jared Cook, made a catch that was almost as beautiful as the pass. I challenge you to show me anyone else in the world who can make that pass across his body with as much velocity and accuracy.

 

 

That pass from Rodgers to Jared Cook set up Mason Crosby and he drilled a 51 yard field goal to give the Packers a 34-31 victory and a trip to the NFC Championship game this weekend in Atlanta. He did it again. I’m grateful that Dallas made a game out of it and that final two minutes was some of the most captivating football action I’ve ever seen, but what does it matter if Aaron Rodgers is still going to crush your soul no matter how hard you try to avoid it. He didn’t even need Jordy Nelson to destroy the Cowboys, and at times he made it look maddeningly easy.

 

At 33 years old, this guys has many years of ripping out the hearts of opposing fans ahead. I wish it wasn’t true, but it is. I just want him to go away, and for a few brief weeks at the beginning of this season I thought his empire might be crumbling. But if this amazing run is any indication of the future, the entire league is in trouble. Because as long as Aaron Rodgers is working this kind of magic, he and the Packers can win the Super Bowl in any given year. Especially this one.

 

Go Falcons.

 

 


Matthew Stafford and the Lions can overcome the finger injury

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Published on : December 13, 2016

 

The Detroit Lions are 9-4. This isn’t something football fans are accustomed to. The team currently sits in the 2nd seed in the NFC with a chance to have a first-round bye in the playoffs and host a home playoff game for the first time since 1993. It would be the first ever playoff game at Ford Field.

 

Hopes are high in the Motor City and while some of the team’s wins seemed like a fluke two months ago, the fact that they keep winning means that this team is legit. These wins are coming on the back of some amazing play from the team’s quarterback, Matthew Stafford. He has been playing at an elite, MVP level recently. Leading his team to wins in eight of their last nine games and with eight 4th quarter comebacks on the season. That’s the most since 1950.

 

 Could it be a magic glove?

 

With Matthew Stafford playing at this level, the Lions have been competitive in every single game. But during the Lions 20-17 win over the Chicago Bears last Sunday, fans were given cause for concern in regards to their young gunslinger. During the game, Stafford injured his throwing hand and was forced to wear a glove for the rest of the game. He went on to throw two ugly interceptions but ultimately brought his team back from the brink with a late rushing touchdown to take the lead.

 

After the game, news got considerably worse for the Lions. It is now known that he dislocated his middle finger and that there is ligament damage in the hand. Matthew Stafford will have to wear a glove on his throwing hand for the rest of the season in order to deal with the injury, and will almost certainly need surgery in the offseason. The first reaction is to think that the Lions are now doomed. After all, last time Stafford was forced to wear a glove on his throwing hand was in 2011, and he threw 9 interceptions over the course of 3 games. But I say the Detroit Lions will still be successful for the rest of the season and will be hosting a playoff game in January. Here are a few reason why.

 

The Defense

 Teryl Austin has his defense playing great recently.

 

With all of the well-deserved praise being heaped upon Matthew Stafford for his leadership and big play ability this season, the defense hasn’t gotten the credit that they deserve. It has now been seven straight weeks that they have held opposing offenses under 20 points, something the Lions haven’t done since 1961. They seem to come up with huge plays just when the team needs them most.

 

While big names guys like DeAndre Levy and Ziggy Ansah have struggled with injuries, the unit as a whole has performed very well. The secondary has been especially clutch and have sealed games late with big interceptions on multiple occasions. This defense even went to the Superdome and held Drew Brees without a touchdown, while forcing him into three interceptions.

 

Teryl Austin, the Lions defensive coordinator deserves a ton of credit for how the defense has performed. After a poor start to the season, he has his guys buying into the scheme and though they do allow a fair amount of yards, they do not let opposing offenses into the end zone. After interviewing for multiple head coaching gigs over the last two offseasons, it seems very likely that he will land a top job this year. But before he departs, he will help this team host a playoff game by keeping his opportunistic defense one step ahead of the opposition.

 

Special teams

 He may look like Nick Swardson but there’s nothing funny about Matt Prater’s skills.

 

This is always an underrated unit on any football team, but the Lions have been exceptional all season. Returner, Andre Roberts has not only made several clutch catches with the offense this year but also has two punts returned for touchdowns on the year. He routinely puts the offense in good position to succeed and has cemented his role as the team’s returner. As important as Roberts has been to the offense in the field position game, punter Sam Martin has been very important to the defense. He is a former 5th round pick who has consistently ranked among the best at his position since entering the league in 2013. He only has two punts that have gone for a touchback this year, meaning that more often than not he leaves opposing offenses backed up against their own end zone.

 

The real star of the Detroit Lions special teams is kicker, Matt Prater. All this guy does is make big kicks. In the last month he has been named NFC Special Teams Player of the week three times. They should just name the award after him at this point. Prater has hit the game-winning kick in four of the Lions nine wins this season and he accounted for 16 points in the Lions 28-13 win over the Saints a few weeks ago. Along with Stafford, Prater is proving that sometimes two Matts equal a win.

 

Stafford is still the man

 One little finger injury can’t keep this guy out of the end zone.

 

It’s clear that Matthew Stafford was at least somewhat limited by his finger injury during Sunday’s win over the Bears. He even admitted as much to his teammates in the huddle by telling them that they were going to have to bear with him, as some of his throws might not be as spot on as they are accustomed to. While it’s true that he will have to play with a glove for the rest of the year and will almost certainly lose a bit of velocity and accuracy, that doesn’t change the fact that Stafford is playing some of the best football of his life.

 

It didn’t always show in the win over the Bears, but Matthew has improved his decision making greatly this season and because of that the Lions should continue to be a solid team. After throwing an ugly pick-6 he led his team down the field and got them into the end zone to take the lead late. As is the characteristic of any good quarterback, he brushed off his mistake and did what he needed to do. He is the leader of this team and without him they would have very few, if any, wins. He is the man in Detroit and the only one who can lead this team to a playoff birth and a home game.

 

9-4 is nice but this team’s work is not yet done. They travel to play the Giants on the road this Sunday, followed by a Monday Night Football game in Dallas before they close the season out at home against the red hot Packers. Winning one of these games all but guarantees a playoff birth, while two wins gives them the division and a home playoff game. The real prize is a first round bye and the chance to give Matthew Stafford’s finger a little extra rest. Head Coach Jim Caldwell has gone from offseason hot seat to a potential coach of the year candidate. It seems like everyone else is starting to believe in these Lions but they have always believed in themselves. Especially Matthew Stafford, who seems to have this team on a path with destiny. Messed up finger and all.

 

 


NFL Halfway way report for 2016

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Published on : November 3, 2016

 

 

NFL Week 8 is in the books are we are officially halfway through the 2016 season. Damn, things are moving fast. Don’t blink because the postseason is around the corner. Let’s look back at the first part of the year and see what we’ve learned so far.

 

The Standings

The quickest and most superficial way to know a squad is by looking at their record. Who did they beat? Who did they lose to? Was it at home or on the road? These are all telling bits of information. Your current division leaders are:

 

NFC North: Minnesota Vikings (5-2)

NFC East: Dallas Cowboys (6-1)

NFC South: Atlanta Falcons (5-3)

NFC West: Seattle Seahawks (4-2-1)

 

 

AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)

AFC East: New England Patriots (7-1)

AFC South: Houston Texans (5-3)

AFC West: Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos (both 6-2)

 

With Brady back under center, the Pats are the best team in the league. They are the first to 7 wins and should be the favorite in every game for the next 8 weeks. The Cowboys are the only other 1 loss team and they lead the only division where all members have a winning record. The NFC East is finally playing some good football. Houston and Minnesota both seems like crews that could get pushed out of their current standings. The AFC West should be a three horse race going down the stretch as Kansas City starts to string wins together. Stats aren’t everything but number of wins is still huge in the playoff picture.

 

Surprises

One of the biggest shockers of the year has to be the Oakland Raiders. The 6-2 record is nice but it’s the 5-0 on the road that makes you double-take. They are on track for their first playoff appearance since 2003. The second longest postseason drought in football (only the Bills have been waiting longer). I hope they get there. Either by winning the AFC West or locking up a wild card spot.

 

 

How awful the Carolina Panthers are. They are 2-5 and last in the NFC South. Talk about a Super Bowl hangover. I don’t think anyone, including Cam Newton saw that coming. Their D is weak, Cam is getting lit up and nothing is clicking.

 

The Cowboys getting it done with rookies at QB and RB in Dak Prescott and Ezekial Elliot. Enough with the Romo talk. Prescott is winning, you don’t mess with success. Let Tony ride the bench for awhile. Maybe he can come back during the playoffs just time to to throw an interception.

 

How average the Packers look. They are 4-3 but have lost to every team over .500 they have played. Eddie Lacy is on IR, they can’t run the ball and defenses aren’t giving Rodgers all day to throw. This football giant seems very killable.

 

Less Surprising

The Jacksonville Jaguars still suck. Many talking-heads hyped the Jags in the preseason as some sort of dark horse. Their offense (mostly through the air) worked last year and they drafted all these great defensive players but it’s not that simple and this franchise is still years away. Also, what’s with the jerseys in the photo below? They look like the knock-off/unlicensed NFL uniforms from Any Given Sunday.

 

 

The Steelers are good. Even without some of their stars, this roster steps up and fills holes. They started without RB Bell because of a suspension, then QB Roethlisberger got hurt, but Pittsburgh keeps winning. Look for them to make another playoff run.

 

Everyone on San Diego is hurt. I can just save this part and copy-paste it next year because it’s the same story every time. Tons of talent and potential, awful luck and injuries leaves Phillip Rivers in a hole fighting for his life. One almost has to wonder, what would the Chargers look like healthy? A bizarre and perverse thought. Don’t linger on it.

 

The Colts can’t stop anyone. They are wasting QB Andrew Luck. Every game, Luck is forced to throw it downfield because they are playing from behind. Great for fantasy, not for reality. Kind of reminds me of Matthew Stafford. Anyway, Indy needs to shore up both sides of the line and spend some draft picks retooling the whole defensive unit.

 

 

The best part about all of this is there is still time. 8 games is a lot. Go 6-2 over the second half and you may just be in the playoffs. Stranger things have happened. At this moment, I can only guarantee maybe 5 teams will make it. That leaves plenty of spots for your team. All they have to do is get hot.

 

Playoffs?

 

 


Detroit Lions vs Los Angeles Rams: My Kids Are Fighting

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Published on : October 15, 2016

 

I’m a life long Detroit Lions fan. No matter how much it hurts. I just can’t stay away. I know it’s bad for me, it ruins most Sundays but I love the stupid team. I moved to Los Angeles almost ten years ago and the Rams just relocated back to town. My love of football told me I could like two teams so I decided to adopt the Rams as my second football child.

 

So far, this hasn’t been a problem but the Los Angeles Rams (3-2) travel to the Detroit Lions (2-3) this weekend for a game both franchises need to win. Everyone is still in the playoff hunt (for now) and victories over conference opponents is huge when it comes to wild card standing at the end of the season. This may seem like an non-issue to some who support hometown over anything but the Rams are my way out of a bad relationship. This could be the perfect moment to break it off with the Lions and finally start fresh. Oh, what to do?

 

 

So far the teams have been weird opposites. Rams lost week 1 while the Lions won. They each changed directions with LA winning three in a row for a 3-1 record. While the Lions dropped winnable games to the Titans, Packers and Bears for a 1-3 mark. Week 5 saw another reversal where Detroit edged out Philly, and Los Angeles fell to Buffalo. What will happen Sunday? Are the Lions still trending up? Will the Rams right the ship? I feel like no matter who I pick I’m going to lose.

 

The Los Angeles Rams have a solid defense but the real threat is them running the ball with Todd Gurley. The RB could spell disaster for a Lions unit that has had trouble getting off the field and keeping folks out of the end zone all year. On the flip side, Rams may not be able to stop Stafford and company from racking up so many points that LA has to abandon the ground attack and force the ball down field.

 

 

My football brain says the Lions come out fast (again) at home after a big win and maybe play enough of a full game for a decently sound victory. My heart always wants the Honolulu Blue and Silver to win but it’s hard to pick them each week. I can also see flashes of how it could all burn down. I dare not even say my negative predictions aloud in case they come true and haunt me.

 

I’m trying to love the Rams. They are my new thing but the Lions are my blood. An LA win will be great for the organization as they grow in their new (old) market but I don’t think I can celebrate any part of that. Loyalty is a funny thing and you don’t get to choose family.

 

Sophie’s (almost) choice.

 

 


NFL Quarter Season Awards

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Published on : October 4, 2016

 

 

The 2016 NFL season is a quarter of the way through. Some teams have started slowly, others have flashed brilliance, but all are looking to improve. Let’s glance around the league and hand out some hardware for standout performances both good and bad. These are your 2016 NFL Quarter Season Awards. Or the Quarties as the kids call em.

 

Rookie Award

For the youngbloods who have gone above and beyond their draft status expectations and helped their team in a major way. And the winners are-

 

NFC: QB Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

Many rooks have done well in the NFC this season but none more than Wentz. He is 66 of 102 in attempts for 64% completion percentage. 769 passing yards, 5 TD’s and ZERO turnovers. Beyond a taking a few unnecessary hits, he has played mistake free and has his Eagles 3-0 after their bye week. The future is bright in Philly.

 

AFC: QB Jacoby Brissett, New England Patriots

 

He’s only played a few games but this third round pick looked like a pro in his first start. Give Bill Belichick his credit for getting the kid ready but he played with poise and confidence. Oh yeah they beat a solid Houston Texans team 27-0. The Texans were undefeated before that. He lost his second start to the Bills but continues to grow plus there isn’t another AFC rookie that really deserves it.

 

Ageless Wonder Award

In football, 30 is considered old. That’s tough to type because I’m 31. But once you crack that milestone, father time really starts catching up. A few amazing athletes laugh in the face of time and keep kicking ass well past their management created expiration dates. This award is for them.

 

NFC: WR Steve Smith Sr., Baltimore Ravens

Steve is ancient in football years at 37 but through 4 games he leads the team in catches, yards and targets. His 281 receiving yards just edges out another oldie but goodie, Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals. Larry is only 33 and sits at 280 yards. It’s amazing these guys refuse to slow down. I hope Smith can keep up his pace and crack 1,000 yards on the year.

 

AFC: RB DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburgh Steelers

 

33-years-old and doing work. With Le’Veon Bell suspended (again) the first 3 games of the season, the starting running back job went to Williams. He made the most of his time racking up 258 rushing yards, 2 TD’s and zero fumbles in 3 full starts. That’s good for 86 yards a game. Not bad for over the hill. DeAngelo also managed a rushing TD in game 4 with Bell back in action.

 

MVP

This is the award for the best player in the league. Not the best player on the best team. But the single most elite performer playing the game.

 

NFC: QB Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Matty Ice is killing it right now. Easily the best stats of any quarterback in the league. His 4 starts have seen him rack up crazy video game numbers. 1473 passing yards, 11 TD’s and only 2 INT’s. 368 yards per game is nice but it’s the over 70% completion percentage and few turnovers that have the Falcons flying high at 3-1 and first in the NFC South.

 

AFC: RB Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns

 

The team is 0-4 but at no fault of Crowell. He is running hard. His 394 rushing yards on only 61 attempts is good for 6.4 yards per carry. Which is epic. Crowell also has scored in 3 of 4 games. Maybe if the Browns want to win then they should feed Isaiah the ball. He hasn’t had more than 18 attempts in a game.

 

The Worst

Like the MVP but in reverse. The Anti-christ of playing well. The bottom of the barrel. Pray your name isn’t listed below.

 

NFC: WR Golden Tate, Detroit Lions

Tate used to be a huge part of the Lions’ offense. He posted career years playing with Matt Stafford but is off to a dreadful start. He hasn’t topped 41 yards in any game and only has 14 catches and zero TD’s. He is on pace for 56 catches. For reference, he had 99 and 90 catches the last two years. And he is dropping the ball and running the wrong routes. What happened to this guy?

 

AFC: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets

 

Fitz is only completing 55% of his passes and has 4 TD’s and 10 INT’s. There is nothing else to say about this. He should have never trimmed his beard.

 

The Best

This is for the best units in the league.

 

NFC: Minnesota Vikings Defense

The hands down, greatest D in the league. They average only 9.5 points allowed per game. They swarm on tackles and have playmakers at every level. This unit is the main reason the Vikings are 4-0. If they keep playing like this then a Super Bowl appearance doesn’t seem out of the question.

 

AFC: Denver Broncos Defense

This crew is giving up 16 points a game but is once again leading the way in the AFC West. This franchise is undefeated in 2016 trying prove they don’t need Peyton Manning to be dominate. It honestly doesn’t matter who is under center as long as Von Miller and company keep up their intensity.

 

 

That’s it for the Quarties. Congratulations to the winners. Unless you won the Worst award. Better luck over the next weeks. Till then, champagne kisses and caviar cars.

 

Glitz.

 

 


It’s not time for the Lions to panic just yet

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Published on : September 24, 2016

 

 

Last Sunday’s loss to the Titans was a sloppy mess that was brutal for fans of the Lions to endure. There were many factors that contributed to the heartbreaking 16-15 score, and it might be easy for some to give up on the 2016 NFL season. As one of the more battered and abused fanbases in the league, the people can turn against the team on a dime. It’s a defense mechanism that helps fans stop the pain before it gets too bad.

 

I’m here to try and quell that urge and tell you that it’s too early to panic. Last week’s game was bad, but the NFL season is long and even the best team’s have games like the one the Lions had against Tennessee. In a 16 game season, 1-1 after two games isn’t the worst position to be in. There are reasons to be encouraged with this team, and reasons to believe that the team can move on from the loss and still compete. Here are a few of them.

 

This Sunday is a whole new game

The amount of penalties in last Sunday’s loss to the Tennessee Titans was enough to make a Lions’ fans head spin. Same goes for the injuries. It was so Lions that it hurt. Eventually the hurt got so bad that the team lost. They still should have won in spite of all the adversity, and had the chance to do so, but they couldn’t seal the deal, and all the penalties and injuries certainly weren’t helping.

 

 

These teams were playing some very sloppy football, but the refs in this game also had their heads up their own asses on a few occasions. Both teams benefited from some bad officiating at one point or another. The Titans got a gift when an Eric Ebron touchdown was called back on a make believe offensive pass interference call. The Lions got to keep the ball when the refs twice failed to notice Lions fumbles that were recovered by the Titans, instead calling the plays dead. The Lions need to clean their play up to be sure, but fans also need to realize that things like holding happen on every single NFL play. Officials will not normally call the game like this and there will be many crews that will be more apt to let the teams play and decide the game between themselves.

 

As for the injuries, it was a bad, bad day for the Detroit Lions. The worst thing to happen was the Ameer Abdullah injury. He was forced to have surgery on his foot this week and the team placed him on IR. He is eligible to return in time for the Jaguars game on November 20, but the team hasn’t indicated if they believe that is possible and it doesn’t seem likely. The team also lost Ziggy Ansah for an undetermined amount of time with a high ankle sprain, but the real hit was to the linebacking corps.

 

The team was already without DeAndre Levy who missed the game with another mystery injury (quadricep), then they began to drop like flies. By the time Kyle Van Noy and Antoine Williams had gone down with injuries, the only two linebackers left were Tahir Whitehead and a guy I’ve never heard of named Thurston Armbrister. The team was forced to move Brandon Copeland off the line and was obviously hampered by it.

 

 

The truth is that while these injuries are a concern, every team in the NFL has to deal with them and it’s better for some of these to happen now rather than in November or December. If the team can continue to play .500 ball while getting healthy, they can finish out the season and push for a spot in the playoffs. You never want to get injured but luckily it looks like none of them, except Abdullah’s will be too long term.

 

The offense is good enough to keep the team competitive

It was a sloppy game where the Lions left points on the field via penalties or poor play, but still, the offense has looked pretty solid this season. Especially the offensive line. Pro Football Focus has them graded out as the third best line in the league through the first two weeks. I know that doesn’t really mean anything but it sounds nice and I like saying it. But for real, this line has looked pretty good. There have been some shakey moments in pass protection from guys like rookie Taylor Decker, and I’m pretty sure Laken Tomlinson will never be all that good (certainly not good enough to justify a 1st round pick), but the early returns on this group are good overall.

 

 Taylor Decker has been solid in his first year.

 

The big boys up front are opening up holes and keep Matt Stafford upright for the most part (5 sacks given up). The fact that this group is gelling only means good things for the Lions and this offense. With Travis Swanson finally playing up to his potential and Larry Warford and Riley Reiff owning the right side of the line, the run game should continue to excel. Even in Ameer Abdullah’s absence.

 

Aside from the proficient play of the offensive line, another reason to be optomisitic about the offense is the emergence of Theo Riddick as a quality runner. He has always been a threat in the pass game, with his ability to get open and make defenders miss in the open field, but never before has he looked good rushing the ball. He’s seeing the holes that his line is opening up and making defenses pay with agility and speed. The fact that the Lions gave him a new contract on the eve of the season means they believe in his ability as a complete back. You don’t give a guy almost $13 million over three years if you think he is solely a pass-catching back. Theo Riddick will make the the loss of Ameer Abdullah a little easier to deal with and the run game should be decent at worst.

 


With a competent run game and Matthew Stafford continuing to have thrive in Jim Bob Cooter’s system, this offense will keep the team competitive. Eric Ebron has looked great, and was the team’s best receiver last week. Golden Tate and Marvin Jones won’t continue to drop the football and the passing offense should be one of the better ones in the league this year. If the defense can hold it together and be decent, this team will be in every game this year. And if you can get that far, there’s always a chance in the NFL.

 

Especially when you consider my next point.

 

The NFC North is up for grabs

 

As we talked about early, the NFL season is still very young. Nothing is getting set in stone after week 2 and the NFC North is still wide open. The Bears were never really a threat, and with the loss of Jay Cutler that’s even more true. But the two teams that everyone picked to be playing for the division title, the Packers and Vikings, have got some serious issues of their own. Because of those issues, if the Lions can manage to avoid a total implosion, they have a chance to be playing for the division come December.

 

 Did the Vikings season go down with AP?

 

On August 29, the Minnesota Vikings were the favorite pick to win the NFC North. Then things began to seriously unravel. Teddy Bridgewater was lost for the year and the team quickly made a move to acquire Sam Bradford. He may not be the best quarterback but he certainly isn’t terrible and has looked okay through two games. But the injuries have continued to pile up and now running back Adrian Peterson and starting left tackle Matt Kalil are likely done for the year. The defense is great but it’s unclear if the offense can weather the storm of injuries it has faced. Because of that, the Vikings are no longer a lock to take the division.

 

As for the Green Bay Packers, they too have some issues to deal with. In week 1, they almost fell to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars and in week 2 they lost to the aforementioned Vikings. The offense doesn’t look great. Receivers aren’t getting much separation and Jordy Nelson doesn’t look like he has quite returned to pre-injury form yet. Another person who hasn’t looked quite like their old self is QB Aaron Rodgers. Stretching back to last season, there looks to be something wrong with him. He hasn’t surpassed 300 passing yards in 11 games and has gone 14 straight contests with a sub-100 passer rating. Long story short, this team is flawed, just like the rest of the teams in the NFC North.

 

 If Aaron is on tilt, the Lions have a chance.

 

Tomorrow’s game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau field will be an important one. Both the Lions and the Packers are still getting their acts together. If the Lions can pull out a win on the road in Green Bay for the second year in a row, then they will be in a very good position to contend for the division. If they lose, see above. It won’t be the end of the world and there will still be a chance to contend for the division. It’s early in the season and there’s a long way to go.

 

 


Preseason Questions for all 32 NFL Teams

Written by :
Published on : August 17, 2016

 

 

The sports gods have answered our prayers and brought NFL football back to us mortals. Huzzah! It’s only preseason action but it’s better than nothing. These early practice games are great because they give us a chance to see the team for the first time. Naturally, many questions will bubble to the surface about each squad. Will this rookie make an impact? Will this player stay healthy? Who will win the starting the job? There is tons of buzz out there but these are the big questions facing each NFL team. Find your favorite franchise below and see what they are dealing with.

 

AFC North

Browns – Can RGIII stay on the field for 16 games and be the QB Cleveland needs to move forward?

Steelers – Can this team stay healthy and out of jail?

Ravens – Will the defense improve enough to make them competitive again?

Bengals – Can Andy Dalton be the guy who takes them deep into postseason? Or just win one single  playoff game?

 

 

AFC East

Patriots – Can New England survive Tom Brady’s four game suspension under Jimmy Garoppolo and still win the division?

Dolphins – Will this squad ever play up to their potential?

Bills – How will Tyrod Taylor fare under center in his second year?

Jets – With Fitz back at QB, can the Jets score enough points to win games?

 

AFC South

Colts – Which Andrew Luck will we see? 2014 or 2015?

Jaguars – Is this the season everyone wakes up and believes in the Jags passing attack?

Titans – Tons of new pieces, how will they all work together?

Texans – Is Brock Oswieler really the guy?

 

brock osweiler

 

AFC West

Broncos – Will Mark Sanchez butt-fumble in Denver?

Chiefs – How long will Jamaal Charles last?

Chargers – Can anyone on the team stay off Injured Reserve?

Raiders – Can the Raiders finally get out of their own way?

 

NFC North

Lions – Can the o-line hold up so Stafford finally has some time?

Packers – Is Eddie Lacy too fat?

Bears – Why is Jay Cutler still there?

Vikings – Can AP carry them to another division title?

 

 

NFC East

Cowboys – Who will get hurt first: Tony Romo or Dez Bryant?

Giants – Is Eli Manning still good?

Eagles – What is the identity of this team? Seriously. And don’t say Sam Bradford.

Skins – Can Kirk Cousins keep up his play from the end of last year?

 

NFC South

Saints – Does Drew Brees have any tricks left up his sleeve?

Panthers – How does Cam respond to losing the Super Bowl? Is there any hangover?

Falcons – Can the defense figure out how to stop anyone?

Buccaneers – Bucs took a kicker in the 2nd round of the draft, how many misses before fans freak out?

 

 

NFC West

Cardinals – Is David Johnston really all that? And a bag of chips?

Niners – How much of a mess will the offense be under Chip Kelly?

Seahawks – Is this the year they start throwing Jimmy Graham the ball?

Rams – Can Todd Gurley keep up his dominance? Or will opposing defenses finally figure out how to stop him?

 

Real-deal NFL games are only a few weeks away. So close, I can almost taste it. The regular season starts Thursday, September 8th. Until then, let’s enjoy the rest of the preseason and hope no one gets badly injured. Leave any questions you may have in the comments.

 

Are you ready for some football?

 

 


Lions to celebrate legacy of ineptitude by honoring 1991 team

Written by :
Published on : July 17, 2016

 

This is just sad.

 

The Detroit Lions announced last week that they will be honoring the 1991 team that went to the NFC Championship on October 16, when the team faces off against the Los Angeles Rams. But what exactly are they celebrating?

 

 Lomas Brown and the rest of the ’91 Lions already celebrated that divisional playoff victory when it happened.

 

On the surface it seems like the team has decided to honor their best team of the Super Bowl era. The team that has the distinct honor of giving the franchise its lone playoff victory since 1957, a 38-6 win over the Cowboys in the divisional round. But what does the fact that they are spending time and money to honor a team that got destroyed in the NFC Championship game say about the franchise as a whole?

 

It says a whole lot actually.

 

First, it says that this has been a bad team for a very, very long time. A team so awful that the only thing worth celebrating is the ONE time they made it to the conference title game. Never mind that the Detroit Lions got obliterated by a score of 41-10 at the hands of the Washington Redskins. Let’s give the boys a participation trophy, cuz ya’ know, they tried.

 

I really hope Bob tried to talk Martha out of this idea.
I really hope Bob tried to talk Martha out of this idea.

 

Second, it says that ownership still doesn’t get it. It’s almost like a slap in the face to us fans. We’ve stood by the team through all of the losing and horrible management, and your thanks to us is a ceremony to remind us how stupid we are for supporting you all these years. I love this team but they sure do make it hard sometimes. The focus should be on winning games. It should always have been about winning games. Highlighting the single time the Lions ever made a run at the championship only to get bounced in such epic fashion, shows complacency at the highest levels of the organization. They should be devoting their energy to assembling a winner that actually gives us something to cheer about.

 

It’s doubtful that he had much control over it, but I hope that new general manager, Bob Quinn, put up a little bit of a fight about this. The Lions stole him away from the New England Patriots in the hopes that he could instill that winning attitude in the organization. Do you think the Patriots would be commemorating an embarrassing conference championship loss? I think not.

 

The players from that era deserve all of the respect and praise in the world. I loved guys like Barry Sanders, Herman Moore, Brett Perriman, Lomas Brown, Chris Spielman and Bennie Blades. The organization owes them a lot and they should be recognized, but I think making a big deal over the 25th anniversary of a team that didn’t actually win anything significant sends the wrong message.

 

 Barry Sanders deserves all the love but is this really the way to show it?

 

It sends the message that the Detroit Lions might not believe they can get to that next level. Like, that one time 25 years ago when we made it within a game of the big one and got our asses handed to us is the best it will ever get.

 

Maybe I’m over reacting. Maybe I’m not. As much as this team has put me through, I’m still an optimist when it comes to them (as seen here). I just want the team to stop accepting losing season after losing season and raise the bar on their expectations of themselves. Once they do that, maybe they can start being competitive on a consistent basis, but reliving the losing past definitely isn’t the way to make that happen.

 

 


Roger Pretzel’s Cloudy Crystal Ball: NFC East

Written by :
Published on : August 27, 2015

 

There is no other division in the NFL in which the specter of injury looms so heavily over every team. Dallas has its brilliant but weary O-line protecting a fragile veteran QB, Philadelphia has built a winning crew that can sustain injury up to a point, the Giants are looking to rebound after two seasons of a seriously depleted squad, and Washington has brought a curse upon itself for not changing its unfortunate and offensive image.

 

Sweet crystal ball: murky and jumbled though your whispers may be, illuminate our way!

 

Dallas Cowboys:

 photo dallascowboys_zpsl1ytzif4.jpg

 

There was a brief period of time where I didn’t totally hate the Cowboys. I moved away from general knee-jerk disdain and grew to recognize their brilliant offensive line. I also realized that Tony Romo is a solid, likable, and hardworking quarterback, and even thought that Jerry Jones’s desperate ramblings became amusing, endearing even. Then along came Dez Bryant. The dude is by far my least favorite NFL superstar. He’s the epitome of a diva and I hate his whininess towards referees, as well as his frequent fights with coaches and teammates. I will never deny that he is a fantastic talent, but as a human personality, I’m just kind of grossed out by his ego and sense of entitlement. He is Calvin Johnson’s evil twin, no doubt about it.

So here we are in 2015 and I think that Jerry Jones knows in his wizened coal-black heart that last year was the ‘boys best chance at making a run for the title in a long time, and the best chance they’ll get for quite a while. Romo is good for another couple of seasons as long as he stays healthy, but that surgically repaired back is one hell of a sword of Damocles hanging over the entire organization. That previously mentioned O-line is the key to keeping things regular, but even they’re starting to show signs of wear and tear. Should they falter, this will prove very problematic for Darren McFadden.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

The crystal ball likes Dez much more than I do, predicting a stellar season for a big time receiver in his prime. Romo will hold down the fort, thanks to that crucial offensive line that will suffer only minor injuries, and remain more or less intact through the season. Darren McFadden will show promise at first and then eventually disappoint. Dallas has a shot at the wildcard spot but she’s still a leaky boat holding herself above the surface in a division that is returning to its highly competitive ways.

 

New York Giants:

 photo newyorkgiants_zpsohv8rzx3.jpg

 

I think it’s pretty easy to get hyperbolic over New York’s potential this season, but I’m afraid that’s more from what’s expected of them than actual evidence. Sure, Eli’s too good to keep playing so poorly, and it’s easy to write off the last two seasons because of the mass of injuries sustained by Big Blue, but that’s also the lazy approach. Like many, when it comes to analyzing the Giants, I want to have my cake and eat it too. Yes, I think a healthier team will win more games, but I’m still dubious that this is a club that’s going to sweep back into the division.

I’m not particularly concerned about the stories surrounding Eli Manning’s contract, but regardless of what he purportedly wants, the fans and coaching staff need to see his ratio of INT’s to TD’s drop precipitously. He’s certainly proved it can go either way. I also didn’t like how Jason Pierre-Paul dealt with his team following that unfortunate sparkler accident. It looks like he’ll be returning to the Giants, and will play before the first half of the season is out, but his cagey statements from the hospital and seeming lack of interest to meet with the team’s officials had me seriously doubting his return to New York, or anywhere. At least JPP can rest assured that he won’t go down in history as the NY Giant guilty of the stupidest unnecessary injury of all time…

 

The crystal ball says:

 

Eli will bring his pick numbers down to below Andy Dalton levels, which will be considered a victory. There will be lots and lots of speculation as to whether or not Tom Coughlin keeps his job. He will, while chomping angrily on his gum the whole time. Jason Pierre-Paul will come back. He’ll do fine. Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz will be frustrated with the heavy coverage they receive from defenses that aren’t particularly scared of the run game. The Giants improve, making them a viable threat, but not as much as expected. THEN things will get crazy with Eli’s contract!

 

Washington Redskins:

 photo washingtonredskins_zpsvrcgzusi.jpg

 

It’s pretty obvious to me that the central cause of the Washington’s woes over the last few years have been due to a longstanding Native American curse brought on by owner Dan Snyder’s absolute refusal to change the franchise’s name and image in the face of good taste or common decency. RGIII is constantly nursing a bum knee or sitting concussed on the bench; relegated to selling sandwiches alongside a once obese pedophile. Now, Niles Paul and Junior Galette are out for the whole damn season. It doesn’t seem fair, and it shouldn’t be… Unless you remember that this team is named after a derogatory term coined during the genocide of an entire population. Feel free to write Dan Snyder a letter telling him how you feel.

Thanks to the curse, we’re left with an extremely weak offensive line supporting a glass-jawed QB. However, the defensive line is really interesting, and I think it’s the best thing the ‘skins have got going for them. There’s a good pass rush to be had there, and a good defense overall if the secondary can hold up. I don’t care if it’s Kirk Cousins or Colt McCoy, but either of these dudes will fare better than Griffin.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

More deserved suffering for a team with a shamefully behind-the-times character. RGIII will continue to fail and the Redskins will focus more on a mediocre ground game because of it. Fans can expect some joy through the defense, and some excitement when either of the backup QBs start airing it out to DeSean Jackson, the most electric offensive weapon this team has.

 

Philadelphia Eagles:

 photo philadelphiaeagles_zpsckjzuez0.jpg

 

Chip Kelly is the closest thing the NFL has to a mad scientist. He’s a singular coach in that his megalomaniacal vision for his club’s success is less predicated upon individual player performance and more so on the crazy scheme in his head. I mean that as a compliment. The Foles/Bradford trade wasn’t about Foles’ merits or deficiencies on the field; it was about Sam Bradford working better in Kelly’s vision.

So Bradford and Murray are going to be the experiment and the gamble. Both are players that fit with Chip Kelly’s Eagles (trademark registered), but both are also injury prone. Unlike other teams in the NFC East, Philadelphia has a deeper bench. Mark Sanchez works well in this offense and Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles can certainly help take some of the pressure off of Murray. All the meticulously planned and thought out offense in the world can’t cover a weak defense that ranked near the bottom of the league last season. If things looked as exciting for the Eagles on the other side of the ball then they would be a true Super Bowl contender.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

The ball likes the Eagles this year, and thinks they’re the frontrunner to win the division, thanks in part to a cushy schedule. The mad scientist has the offense that he wants and I think it’ll come through for him. The defense will improve incrementally but there’s going to be plenty of shootouts to keep Bradford’s throwing arm in shape. Finally, I’m proud of myself for having made it this far without making a single Tim Tebow joke.

 


Roger Pretzel’s Cloudy Crystal Ball: NFC West Predictions

Written by :
Published on : August 12, 2015

 

In the NFC West we’ve got a dominant flock of seagulls, a 49ers fan base that may not have as much to worry about as they’ve been told, a lost herd of Rams looking for a shepherd, and a pumped-up Arizona staring down a tough road to repeating last season’s success.

Shut up! Shut up! The ball… She speaks to me…

San Francisco 49ers:

 photo fortyniners_zpspuwzch4o.jpg

 

It’s completely impossible to avoid the fact that San Francisco has been dealt many painful blows this offseason. They lost one of the league’s most interesting and visible coaches (regardless of whether or not his departure was inevitable). With the loss of so many players, either preventable or through unforeseen circumstances, the collective blood pressure of the ‘Niners’ faithful is rising. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine in the wake of this roster depleting shit-storm that San-Fran used to contend for the Super Bowl. To me, that team looked invincible.

Despite all that, I think there’s a chance for this organization to bounce back pretty quickly. Ex-Ravens Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin provide two great complimentary threats with a short and long pass combo. The lion’s share of the pressure is going to rest on the poorly-tattooed shoulders of Colin Kaepernick. Personally, I’m not wild about Kap, but he’s shown fits of brilliance in the past. If Kaepernick can screw his head on right, show some leadership and play at his best, you’re looking at a team destined to play above .500. Finally, I’d take Frank Gore over Reggie Bush any day, but when the former Heisman winner was healthy two seasons ago with the Lions, he provided a nice threat that specialized in bouncing to the outside.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

It’s still going to be a tough year for the 49ers, but it won’t be the complete disaster or lost year that many people are expecting. They’re going to win some big games, turn heads, and get people talking, but ultimately Kaepernick will remain streaky, making any sort of playoff run a serious long shot.

 

St. Louis Rams:

 photo stlouisrams_zps0vxu9vxf.jpg

 

The winds of change are blowing ominously in St. Louis and I think they’re blowing towards Los Angeles. By the end of the decade I won’t be surprised if this team has moved on to another part of the country. Regardless of the rumors, this is a real do or die for Jeff Fisher. He started as strong as you can while still turning in a sub .500 season, but with each successive year it’s gotten a little worse, and 2014 was close to disastrous.

There’ve been a lot of empty promises in the run game and QB department, and like Fisher, WR Tavon Austin is also experiencing a slump. James Laurinaitis deserves better than this. He’s a great captain and is the staunch backbone of a solid defense that is constantly betrayed by a legendarily bad offense. Chip Kelly’s no dummy, so at least the Foles/Bradford trade was beneficial to both parties, though I err on the side of thinking the Rams got the better deal, at least in the short term. That’s fine. Time is something they don’t have.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

For better or worse Fisher’s reign ends this season with another sub .500 campaign. Nick Foles will be a boost to the team and give Tavon Austin a bump in his stats, but it’s too little too late for a club that’s been chronically struggling. Nothing is going to go right for the Rams this year, with hints of improvement overshadowed by the oppressive weight of the same old, same old. Fisher gets to leave at the end of the season for a more rewarding gig with a smaller paycheck.

 

Arizona Cardinals:

 photo cardinals_zps8p35unzb.jpg

 

We get it Bruce Arians, you’re a really good coach who turned around a fairly obscure team and made them a scrappy contender. And yet… I just don’t believe. I kind of want to believe, but I just don’t. For me Arians is the only real example of heart and drive this team has, and he’s pretty laconic on game day to be sure. Yeah, I’ve got a soft spot for Carson Palmer, and what’s not to like about Larry Fitzgerald? But while Larry’s showing no signs of slowing down, I think this is the season we finally start to see a more pronounced decline in his production as Michael Floyd is more heavily relied upon.

While the offense has been clicking nicely, the defense is a legitimate concern. In the 2014 season they luckily ended up with stats that didn’t reflect their win/loss numbers one bit, ending up in the lower-middle half of the pecking order. All due respect to Arians, but I won’t be one bit surprised if the Cardinals don’t repeat last season’s success, even with all those much talked about injured players returning.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

Appearing in a commercial is the kiss of death for any non-quarterback, so naturally Larry Fitzgerald’s numbers will decline this year. Michael Floyd will bounce back from that nasty hand injury he sustained in training camp, and Andre Ellington will continue to provide satisfactory ground work. The Cardinals will have a great season, but they’re simply not going to win as many games as they did last year. With the Seahawks all but a lock as the division champions, they’re going to have to work their asses off for another wild card spot, which I don’t think they actually get.

 

Seattle Seahawks:

 

 photo seattleseahawks copy_zpstnt4fc4i.jpg

 

Pete Carroll’s got a hell of a thing going on up there in Seattle. I was gobsmacked at the Jimmy Graham trade and half expected Roger Goodell to pick up the red phone in his concrete bunker and put the kibosh on the whole thing in the name of monopoly busting. With Russell Wilson’s contract ironed out and Marshawn Lynch’s decision to stick it out a few more years, the gulls dodged a couple scary bullets. And even if they can’t work out a deal with Kam Chancellor’s inflamed ego, the defense is still going to remain the gold standard.

The difficulty with this much talent is keeping it all together. We’ve seen some lulls in productivity, even during last year’s Super Bowl run, where Carroll couldn’t quite make the individual offensive pieces sing in harmony. Speaking of the Super Bowl, let’s not forget that much analyzed and questioned pass play that resulted in a last minute loss to the Patriots. It was a bitter pill to swallow then, but now the Seahawks have a hard earned chip on their shoulder, giving them purpose.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

These guys are going to be a blast to watch with an explosive and unpredictable offense paired with that defense you’re always hearing about. The crystal ball is unusually clear for a change, predicting a return to the Super Bowl for Seattle with an excellent chance of a rematch against another worthy New England team. This time however, it’s personal.

 

 


Roger Pretzel’s Cloudy Crystal Ball: NFC North Predictions

Written by :
Published on : July 29, 2015

 

With the rise of the Lions from laughingstock to “that team no one believes in,” combined with a schizophrenic Vikings squad and a Bears crew struggling to hang on to mediocrity, the NFC North has gotten a little goofy. Besides the Packers no other team is currently considered a viable Super Bowl threat.

But I’m a Lions fan, and the NFC North is my home sweet home, so I’ll be following it much closer than the guys who actually get paid to write about it. Granted, the people who get paid to write about it are professionals as opposed to a disgruntled old crank who talks to his cat.

Enough pretense! The visions are taking substance…

Minnesota Vikings:

 photo vikings_sbs02 copy_zps1tbp8x9j.jpg

The good folks in Minnesota love Teddy Bridgewater, and I can’t blame a fan base hungry for a franchise quarterback, but I found it a little irksome that the media fawned over this kid from the get go. It happens all the time in a hype-fueled profession, but I wish some of these guys could be held accountable for their big mouths. At least put them in a dunk tank or something with Brett Favre throwing footballs over his shoulder at the target. I saw a lot of potential in Bridgewater, but I also saw a lot of kinks that needed ironing out. He can scramble and hit some good passes on the run, but for all those nifty highlights, there were costly interceptions as well.

The return of Adrian Peterson in purple and gold surprised me. I thought the reconciliation to this uncomfortably troubled marriage was possible, but I wasn’t counting on it. Hey, the crystal ball is cloudy after all. Now that AP is back in the game, I’m fascinated to see what happens. I don’t care how good he is: age and expectations are going to be a factor.

The crystal ball says:

Teddy’s gonna have a decent season, but he’s more of a long term threat than a breakout stud. Talking Heads will continue to praise him to high heaven until the last fourth of the season when they turn on him and ask whether or not he’s any good. He’ll stay the same, continuing to grow and improve unless he proves injury prone. Adrian Peterson will have a solid season, keeping his hyperbolic god-like status, but he’s going to be eclipsed on the stats sheet by some of the hungrier young guys.

Chicago Bears:

 photo bears_nfc_zpsihxng6qh.jpg

Da Bears are hurting right now, and I think there’s an inevitable degree of soul searching going on in the organization regardless of the coaching change. John Fox is certainly going to liven things up as much as he can. Fresh blood will flow, the slate will be cleaned, but there’s no getting around the elephant in the room: Jay Cutler’s competency, commitment, and the club’s decision to stick it out with him. Personally, I’m not as down on Cutler as many people are, but I do feel that his remaining presence in Chicago has metastasized into an untenably toxic relationship. Even if they win a few more games this season with Cutler, the team’s long-term success is going to be in the hands of their next quarterback. And let’s not act like a break with the Bears would be bad for Cutler: he could gracefully transition to a lower-tier team and play with a squad that would actually appreciate him. Not the worst way to play out the rest of your career.

The crystal ball says:

Another abysmal year for Soldier Field’s finest. There’s little hope in restructuring and re-growing without faith in your lynchpin. Chi-town will spend a year taking its losses while John Fox settles in and shows off what he has to offer.

Green Bay Packers:

 photo greenbay2_zpsyo76ecnz.jpg

Green Bay is easily the least fun team to pontificate on in the NFC North. Aaron Rodgers is currently in top form with a rock solid team behind him. I won’t be surprised if this group keeps on clicking and humming along together, giving opposing NFC North fans fits. The crew is well-oiled, well-managed, and has that “cool factor” of playing in an open stadium during the rudest of Midwest winters. You can certainly criticize The Pack when it comes to the league as a whole, particularly that they don’t deal well with unexpected loss, but in the NFC North, this is the team that everybody wants to dethrone.

The only real worry is keeping Rodgers healthy. We’ve seen in the past how this team has collapsed without its sometimes-mustachioed heart on the field. If I were Mike McCarthy, I would be spending an inordinate amount of time working with that O-line on QB protection.

The crystal ball says:

A clear division victory for The Cheeseheads, with Detroit and possibly Minnesota nipping at their heels. However, the entire house of cards collapses if Rodgers misses four or more games.

Detroit Lions:

 photo lions_zpsmbfs5wgb.jpg

Like last season, Detroit has a great chance of giving the Packers a run for their money, but it’s not going to be easy. Detroit is currently a team full of potential and unanswered questions. I’d love to see the defense as dominant as it was last season, a tall order considering the loss of Ndamukong Suh. Yet the return of Stephen Tulloch and acquisition of Haloti Ngata are hard to dismiss. Of course I’ll be watching that offensive line closest. It’s the single factor in Stafford having as productive a season he did in his INT-happy, record-breaking slinger days, though he’s likely to have a more disciplined system that actually wins games this time around.

The run game is going to be the x-factor. I love Joique Bell, but he can’t carry the team like a Marshawn Lynch or a Jamaal Charles. He gets you three yards on a 3rd & 2, and punches his way into the end zone in short yardage situations, but he’s not going to break off 15 yard chunks with any regularity. And sure, there’s Theo Riddick and a very “maybe” George Winn. I’m hopeful for Ameer Abdullah, but I also think there’s a lot of bluster and hype for the second round pick.

Crystal ball says:

Detroit has so much talent on the roster, but also has trouble putting it together. I see the defense not being as strong as last year, but staying damn close to that caliber thanks to the prior season’s proof of concept. The offense is going to pop more this year in the passing game, but the running game will remain blue-collar. Green Bay has a good chance of winning both games vs. the Lions, but the really exciting divisional games are going to go down with the Vikings. The division title will most likely go to Green Bay, but the Lions will make the wild card slot and head to the playoffs for the second year in a row.

 

 


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