Category Archives: AFC North

A Look at the MVP Race So Far

There has been a huge debate over the NFL MVP this season. You have the enigmatic Cam Newton, Carson Palmer on the still underrated Cardinals, the turnaround of Andy Dalton, and of course who many still believe to be the consensus MVP Tom Brady. We’re going to breakdown every candidate’s case this year and I will give my opinion at the end of it.

  Cam Newton:

Cam Newton has taken a step forward this year and it is to be noted most definitely. This year the Carolina Panthers are 10-0, and look like they are ready for a deep playoff run this coming postseason. Cam Newton is the face of the franchise and is making waves throughout NFL fans and social media, but let’s take a step back and look at this from the outside and wipe away the hype and media driven biases.

Cam Newton’s game log for this year

@ JAX 58% Com 175 yards 71.3PRat 1 TD 1 INT 35 rushing yards

VS HOU 49% Com 195 yards 71.3PRat 2 TD 1 INT 76 rushing yards 1 rushing TD

VS NOR 65% Com 315 yards 119.7PRat 2 TD 0 INT 33 rushing yards 1 rushing TD

@ TAM 50% Com 124 yards 97.5PRat 2 TD 0 INT 51 rushing yards

@ SEA 56% Com 269 yards 65.6PRat 1 TD 2 INT 30 rushing yards 1 rushing TD

VS PHI 58% Com 197 yards 59.2PRat 1 TD 3 INT 20 rushing yards 1 rushing TD

VS IND 46% Com 248 yards 76.8PRat 2 TD 1 INT 41 rushing yards

VS GNB 50% Com 297 yards 104.4PRat 3 TD 1 INT 57 rushing yards 1 rushing TD

@ TEN 81% Com 217 yards 114.3PRat 1 TD 0 INT 23 rushing yards 1 rushing TD

VS WAS 62% Com 246 yards 123.3PRat 5 TD 0 INT 16 rushing yards

Cam Newton these past 3 weeks has made a huge leap in the debate as he did own those games, and against New Orleans shined but otherwise has been average at best. Against Indiana, Philadelphia, and Houston in particular were bad games that would be criticized harshly if the team was not able to pull out the win. Many see the 10-0 record but do not look at the individual enough. Cam Newton has had 4 games that he played outstanding in, 3 games that he was horrible in, and 3 games he was average at best. Many Cam supporters will point to his WRs being below par and that is without a doubt something that should be noted. There are not many teams who will win with Ted Ginn as their 2nd option, but the team has gotten through without a single scratch. How is that? What exactly is the reason for the team’s success?

This season Carolina is 2nd in the league in yards allowed per play, 6th in total yards, and tied for 5th in points allowed per game allowing only 19.1 per game. The defense has not allowed a score off a single Cam Newton turnover. They have arguably the defensive player of the year on their defense Josh Norman and Luke Keuchley who by most is considered the best inside linebacker in the league. Where does Cam rank amongst his competition? Cam is 26th in passing yards per game, Tied for 6th in passing TDs, 17th in passer rating, and 28th in completion. Many will call foul on the completion percentage and point to his receiver core and say it is all on them because of how much they drop the ball, yet Carolina is 7th in dropped passes and 5 of the 6 QBs for the teams with more dropped passes have higher completion percentages than Cam. Cam has been a leader on and off the field for his team and I commend him for his maturation into a true leader worthy of being the face of a franchise.

 

 Tom Brady

Brady is having a historic season that seems eerily similar to his 07 historic season and has many talking about the possibility of the Patriots making another run at the undefeated season. Many were worried about the departure of many key pieces in the secondary effecting this team’s chances, but Brady has not only pulled them through but has thoroughly dominated the competition. Many have claimed that this is his race to lose but let’s look at things a little deeper.

Tom Brady game log

VS PIT 78% Com 143.7PRat 288 yards 4 TD 0 INT

@ BUF 64% Com 105.6PRat 466 yards 3 TD 0 INT

VS JAX 79% Com 118.1PRat 358 yards 2 TD 0 INT

@ DAL 74% Com 130.9PRat 275 yards 2 TD 0 INT 1 rushing TD

@ IND 62% Com 104.8PRat 312 yards 3 TD 1 INT

VS NYJ 63% Com 94.3PRat 355 yards 2 TD 0 INT 15 rushing yards 1 rushing TD

VS MIA 68% Com 133.2PRat 356 yards 4TD 0 INT

VS WAS 67% Com 96.0PRat 299 yards 2 TD 1 INT

@ NYG 62% Com 92.8PRat 334 yards 2 TD 1INT

So far this year Brady has had tremendous games all year long having 8 terrific games and 2 average ones. He has not missed a beat all year long never even having a 1:1 TD:INT ratio in a single game. His team is putting up the most points per game in the league and he seems to be on a mission after the deflategate debacle that went on all off-season long. Brady this year ranks 1st in yards per game, 2nd in passing TDs, 1st in passer rating, and 5th in completion percentage. Tom Brady this year has 24 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions, being extremely efficient and having this offense firing on all cylinders. I did not even mention that one of the teams that had more drops than the Panthers was in fact the Patriots who of course have powered through that and Brady still has completed 68% of his throws.

 

 Andy Dalton

Andy Dalton has completetly floored many of us playing at an elite level worthy of being called a top 5 quarterback in the NFL. It definetly is not where most of us saw him going at the beginning of the season. He has gotten a bad reputation for shrinking in the big moments, and while that may continue to be the case, the MVP is a regular season award that Andy Dalton has firmly put himself into the race for.

Andy Dalton’s game log

@ OAK 74% Com 115.9PRat 269 yard 2 TD 0 INT

VS SD 62% Com 126.1PRat 214 yards 3 TD 0 INT

@ BAL 63% Com 122.3PRat 283 yards 3 TD 1 INT 1 rushing TD

VS KC 71% Com 127.1PRat 321 yards 1 TD 0 INT

VS SEA 68% Com 95.9PRat 331 yards 2 TD 1 INT 1 rushing TD

@ BUF 67% Com 118.6PRat 243 yards 3 TD 0 INT

@ PIT 61% Com 64.7PRat 231 yards 1 TD 2 INT

VS CLE 78% Com 139.8PRat 234 yards 3 TD 0 INT

VS HOU 58% Com 61.0PRat 197 yards 0 TD 1 INT 31 rushing yards

@ ARI 56% Com 99.8PRat 315 yards 2 TD 0 INT 34 rushing yards

Andy Dalton looking at his games one by one you get a better look at how his overall season has gone. He has had 2 horrific games and has 1 average game and 7 terrific games that have been worthy of MVP canadicay. He got away with a bad game in Pittsburgh that became a defensive game and just got stomped by a less than stellar Houston team. Andy Dalton this year is ranked 8th in yards per game, 4th in passer rating, 6th in passing touchdowns, and 10th in completion percentage. While things can change it looks like Dalton will not reach double digits in interceptions and since coming into the league he has always had at least 13 a year, getting as high as 20 one year. Dalton has put up the tremendous individual performances and has his team high in the standings sitting with an 8-2 record which can be deemed worthy of being an MVP candiate. Long term it is hard for me to believe in the Bengals success and that has more to do with Marvin Lewis than anything else, because from what we have seen this year leads me to believe Dalton will be in the conversation for top 5 quarterback in the league for many years to come.

 

 Carson Palmer

Carson struggled to stay on the field last year and the Cardinals limped into the playoffs after the strong start Carson gave them. Right now he has his team at an 8-2 record in prime position for the 2nd seed in the playoffs and the best offense in the NFL.

Carson’s game log

VS NOR 59% Com 122.8PRat 307 yards 3 TD 0 INT 14 rushing yards

@ CHI 71% Com 115.5PRat 185 yards 4 TD 1 INT

VS SF  63% Com 102.5PRat 311 yards 2 TD 1 INT

VS STL 63% Com 84.7PRat 352 yards 1 TD 1 INT

@ DET 79% 154.2PRat 161 yards 3 TD 0 INT

@ PIT 64% Com 83.7PRat 421 yards 1 TD 2 INT

VS BAL 69% Com 122.1PRat 275 yards 2 TD 0 INT

@ CLE 61% 117.7PRat 374 yards 4 TD 1 INT

@ SEA 60% 96.1PRat 363 yards 3 TD 1 INT

VS CIN 65% 111.2PRat 317 yards 4 TD 2 INT

Carson has not had a bad game all year long only 2 average games and the rest of his 8 games being astounding. Carson could be arguably having his greatest season ever this year and Arizona absolutely needed it. If you want to see the true impact Carson has on this team you only need to look at last year’s numbers compared to this year. Carson only played 6 games last year and last year’s team missing him 10 games ranked 24th in total offense, 14th in passing offense, 31st in rushing offense, and 24th in total points scored. This season so far with Carson actually able to play all 10 games the Cardinals rank 1st in total offense, 4th in passing offense, 10th in rushing offense, and 2nd in points per game. This year Palmer ranks 5th in passing yards per game, 1st in passing TDs, 2nd in passer rating, and 16th in completion percentage. Carson has this team in the driver’s seat to make some noise deep in the playoffs while being the spearhead of the most deadly offense in the league.

My MVP Rankings and Why They Are Where They Are.

4th Cam Newton

Cam Newton this year has been extremely valuable to a putrid offense but has been saved by top 3 defense this year. He is the only person out of any of these 4 players who has been able to have multiple bad games and get away with it because his team’s defense so far this year has always found a way to come out on top. I am a huge fan of Cam, but to ignore all of that is denying facts. He just has not been on the same level as the other guys here and has been able to get away with bad performances and still somehow be on everyone’s top 2 MVP list. So far this year Cam has 7 games throwing under 60%, 2 games completing less than 50%, 2 games with more INTs than TDs, and has only eclipsed 300 total yards once this year.

3rd Andy Dalton

Andy Dalton has completely floored me with his play this year and instead of being the turnover machine he has been his whole career somehow has changed into this efficient machine for his team. He had 2 awful games one of which he got away with due to the state of the Steelers at the time. While I do see a huge gap between him and Newton and the man I have above him, he does deserve 3rd place considerations by everyone.

2nd Carson Palmer

Carson not only has shown us how important he is to his team but is having arguably the best season of his career. Last year it was painful to the Cardinals play and this year it has become a blast. This team is winning games convincingly and Carson is the reason for it as we have seen all year long. Who would have thought 3 years ago that a 36 year old Carson Palmer had a chance at being in an MVP race much less 2nd? If the man above him can falter even a little bit Carson has a chance at winning it.

1st Tom Brady

Brady has just been on another level this year and it looks like there is nobody who will stop him from reaching the Super Bowl again. He’s putting up historic numbers, playing extremely efficient, and doing this while having a patchwork offensive line. Even though there has to be a 2nd place I do not have any doubt that if the season ended today Brady would receive 100% of the first place votes.

Feel free to sound off in the comments of your own opinions. 

NFL Preview: Awards, Hype, Prediction Edition

nfl-2015-tickets

With the NFL Season getting ready to start it’s only right that we answer a few questions in regards to awards, Division winners, Superbowl predictions etc…. Please be sure to sound off and voice your opinions and enlighten us on your predictions.

Division Winners

Who wins the each NFC Division (include record):

Deshawn Hornback {@DeeSportsTalk}:

Packers (11-5)

Cowboys (10-6)

Panthers (8-8) Do not hold me to this

Seahawks (13-3)

R’Mon Allen {@RmonAllen}:

Packers 9-7

Eagles 10-6

Falcons 7-9

Seahawks 12-4

Ryan Fort {@RyanDFort}:

Packers (10-6)

Cowboys (13-3)

Saints (11-5)

Seahawks (12-4)

Hashim Ashimi {no Twitter}:

Packers (10-6)

Cowboys (12-4)

Saints (9-7)

Seahawks (12-4)

Tyler Carter {@AyeMrCarter24}:

Packers (12-4)

Cowboys (11-5)

Panthers (8-8)

Seahawks (13-3)

Jonathan Ayala {@JonathanAyalaa_}:

Packers (12-4)

Cowboys (12-4)

Panthers (9-7)

Seahawks (11-5)

Jabbari Booth {@jabbari_b}:

Packers (9-7)

Cowboys (10-6)

Panthers (8-8)

Cardinals (12-4)

Who wins each AFC Division (include record):

Hornback:

Bengals (11-5)

Patriots (11-5)

Colts (13-3)

Broncos (12-4)

Allen:

Steelers (11-5)

Patriots (12-4)

Colts (13-3)

Broncos (11-5)

Fort:

Steelers (10-6)

Patriots (11-5)

Colts (13-3)

Chiefs (12-4)

Ashimi:

Steelers (11-5)

Patriots (12-4)

Colts (12-4)

Chiefs (12-4)

Carter:

Ravens (10-6)

Patriots (12-4)

Colts (13-3)

Broncos (11-5)

Ayala:

Steelers (10-6)

Patriots (11-5)

Colts (10-6)

Chiefs (10-6)

Booth:

Steelers (11-5)

Patriots (11-5)

Colts (10-6)

Broncos (10-6)

Playoff Teams Prediction (Include Seeding)

les-playoffs-nfc

Which NFC teams will be Playoff bound:

Hornback:

  1. Seahawks
  2. Packers
  3. Cowboys
  4. Panthers
  5. Cardinals
  6. Rams

Allen:

  1. Seahawks
  2. Eagles
  3. Packers
  4. Falcons
  5. Cardinals
  6. Cowboys

Fort:

  1. Cowboys
  2. Seahawks
  3. Saints
  4. Packers
  5. Cardinals
  6. Giants

Ashimi:

  1. Seahawks
  2. Cowboys
  3. Packers
  4. Saints
  5. Cardinals
  6. Panthers

Carter:

  1. Seahawks
  2. Packers
  3. Cowboys
  4. Panthers
  5. Eagles
  6. Rams

Ayala:

  1. Packers
  2. Cowboys
  3. Seahawks
  4. Panthers
  5. Eagles
  6. Lions or Vikings

Booth:

  1. Cardinals
  2. Cowboys
  3. Packers
  4. Panthers
  5. Seahawks
  6. Eagles/Rams

les-playoffs-afc

Which AFC teams will be Playoff bound:

Hornback:

  1. Colts
  2. Broncos
  3. Patriots
  4. Bengals
  5. Ravens
  6. Chargers

Allen:

  1. Colts
  2. Patriots
  3. Broncos
  4. Steelers
  5. Ravens
  6. Bills

Fort:

  1. Colts
  2. Chiefs
  3. Patriots
  4. Steelers
  5. Broncos
  6. Dolphins

Ashimi:

  1. Colts
  2. Chiefs
  3. Patriots
  4. Steelers
  5. Broncos
  6. Ravens

Carter:

  1. Colts
  2. Patriots
  3. Broncos
  4. Ravens
  5. Bills
  6. Dolphins

Ayala:

  1. Patriots
  2. Steelers
  3. Chiefs
  4. Colts
  5. Broncos
  6. Chargers

Booth:

  1. Patriots
  2. Steelers
  3. Colts
  4. Broncos
  5. Ravens
  6. Bengals

Statistical Predictions:

Who will lead the league in Takeaways:

(Majority)

Hornback: Philadelphia Eagles

Allen: Seattle Seahawks

Fort: New York Jets

Ashimi: Miami Dolphins

Carter: Seattle Seahawks

Ayala: Seattle Seahawks

Booth: Miami Dolphins

Fantasy-Football-Defense-Sleepers

Which teams will be Top 5 Defensively:

Hornback:

  1. Jets
  2. Seahawks
  3. Bills
  4. Texans
  5. Dolphins

Allen:

  1. Seahawks (with Kam)
  2. Bills
  3. Jets
  4. Ravens
  5. Dolphins

Fort:

  1. Jets
  2. Bills
  3. Texans
  4. Seahawks
  5. Dolphins

Ashimi:

  1. Jets
  2. Dolphins
  3. Bills
  4. Texans
  5. Seahawks

Carter:

  1. Bills
  2. Seahawks
  3. Texans
  4. Cardinals
  5. Rams

Ayala:

  1. Seahawks
  2. Jets
  3. Bills
  4. Browns
  5. Cardinals

Booth:

  1. Dolphins
  2. Texans
  3. Jets
  4. Bills
  5. Seahawks

94182e110814a8496015e5ada5108315

The Top 5 Scoring Teams will be:

Hornback:

  1. Colts
  2. Broncos
  3. Packers
  4. Falcons
  5. Cowboys

Allen:

  1. Colts
  2. Steelers
  3. Patriots
  4. Eagles
  5. Broncos

Fort:

  1. Eagles
  2. Packers
  3. Cowboys
  4. Broncos
  5. Colts

Ashimi:

  1. Colts
  2. Chiefs
  3. Cowboys
  4. Steelers
  5. Eagles

Carter:

  1. Colts
  2. Steelers
  3. Packers
  4. Cowboys
  5. Broncos

Ayala:

  1. Steelers
  2. Colts
  3. Patriots
  4. Cowboys
  5. Saints

Booth:

  1. Steelers
  2. Cowboys
  3. Colts
  4. Eagles
  5. Saints

The League leader in Passing Yards will be:

(Majority)andrew-luck

Hornback: Matt Ryan

Allen: Andrew Luck

Fort: Matthew Stafford

Ashimi: Drew Brees

Carter: Andrew Luck

Ayala: Andrew Luck

Booth: Ben Roethlisberger

The League leader in Passing TDs will be:

(Majority): Same As Above

Hornback: Andrew Luck

Allen: Andrew Luck

Fort: Andrew Luck

Ashimi: Andrew Luck

Carter: Aaron Rodgers

Ayala: Andrew Luck

Booth: Tony Romo

o-NFL-RUNNING-BACKS-facebook

Who will be the leading Rusher:

Hornback: Adrian Peterson

Allen: Adrian Peterson

Fort: Jamaal Charles or LeSean McCoy

Ashimi: Le’Veon Bell

Carter: Le’Veon Bell

Ayala: Adrian Peterson

Booth: Demarco Murray

ap_lynch071015

The League leader in Rushing TDs will be:

Hornback: Eddie Lacy

Allen: Jamaal Charles

Fort: Jamaal Charles

Ashimi: Marshawn Lynch

Carter: Marshawn Lynch

Ayala: Adrian Peterson

Booth: Le’Veon Bell

The League leader in Receiving Yards will be:

(Majority)

Hornback: Antonio Brown

Allen: Calvin Johnson

Fort: Antonio Brown

Ashimi: Julio Jones

Carter: Odell Beckham Jr.

Ayala: Antonio Brown

Booth: Antonio Brown

The League leader in TD Receptions will be:

(Majority)dez

Hornback: Odell Beckham

Allen: Dez Bryant

Fort: Dez Bryant

Ashimi: Odell Beckham Jr.

Carter: Dez Bryant

Ayala: Dez Bryant

Booth: Dez Bryant

Award Winners:

Coach of The Year Will Be:

(Majority)Chuck Pagano

Hornback: Chuck Pagano

Allen: Chuck Pagano

Fort: Jason Garrett

Ashimi: Chuck Pagano

Carter: Pete Carroll

Ayala: Rex Ryan

Booth: Joe Philbin

The Best Offensive Rookie:

(Majority) 150508-amari-cooper-2

Hornback: Ameer Abdullah

Allen: Amari Cooper

Fort: Jameis Winston

Ashimi: Nelson Agholor

Carter: Marcus Mariota

Ayala: Amari Cooper

Booth: Melvin Gordon

2015-NFL-Defensive-Rookie-of-the-Year-Odds-Pick

The Best Defensive Rookie:

Hornback: Leonard Williams

Allen: Shane Ray

Fort: Dante Fowler Jr. *****

Ashimi: Vic Beasley

Carter: Vic Beasley

Ayala: Leonard Williams

Booth: Randy Gregory

Super Bowl XLIX

Comeback Player of The Year:

Hornback: Adrian Peterson

Allen: Kiko Alonso

Fort: Carson Palmer

Ashimi: Adrian Peterson

Carter: Adrian Peterson 

Ayala: Adrian Peterson

Booth: Greg Hardy

Offensive Player of The Year:

(Majority)adrian-peterson-nine-yards-short

Hornback: Adrian Peterson

Allen: Andrew Luck

Fort: Aaron Rodgers

Ashimi: Andrew Luck

Carter: Andrew Luck

Ayala: Adrian Peterson

Booth: Jamaal Charles

Defensive Player of The Year:

(Majority)jjwatt_7ht8qmbw_79plb80t

Hornback: Luke Kuechly

Allen: J.J. Watt

Fort: Ndamukong Suh

Ashimi: J.J. Watt

Carter: J.J. Watt

Ayala: J.J. Watt

Booth: J.J. Watt

andrew-luck-12-of-the-indianapolis-colts

Who will be MVP:

Hornback: Andrew Luck

Allen: Andrew Luck

Fort: Tony Romo trolls

Ashimi: Andrew Luck

Carter: Andrew Luck (maybe Romo)

Ayala: Andrew Luck

Booth: Tony Romo

Super-Bowl-50-Logo

Preseason Superbowl Picks:

Hornback: Colts vs Cowboys untitled

Allen: Steelers vs SeahawksSeattleBlack

Fort: Chiefs vs Cowboysuntitled

Ashimi: Colts vs SeahawksIndianapolis_Colts2

Carter: Colts vs SeahawksSeattleBlack

Ayala: Colts vs SeahawksSeattleBlack

Booth: Patriots vs Cowboys untitled

Conclusion:

Please be sure to follow us on Twitter:

@Fortonsportsinc

Ryan Fort: @RyanDFort

Deshawn Hornback: @DeeSportsTalk

R’Mon Allen: @RmonAllen

Tyler Carter: @AyeMrCarter24

Hashim Ashimi: N/A

Jonathan Ayala: @JonathanAyalaa_

Jabbari Booth: @jabbari_b

And like our FortOnSports Facebook Page: (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fort-on-Sports/487848414596824)

Please leave comments below…. The writers will be responding!

AFC North Preview

  1.   Cleveland Browns

The Browns have been all over the place in the past 3 years. Overhauls in coaching staffs, player personnel, and the entire Johnny Manziel factor has brought a lot more attention to the Browns than I can remember in quite some time. None of it positive. I don’t like anything in particular about this team even last year but somehow they were in the playoff race much longer than anyone expected them to be. Crowell was a positive on the offense but without Gordon once again, I still do not see any positive factors on the offense.  They  drafted  Duke Johnson who will hopefully be able to take on the load of carries for the team. The defense has some nice young guys but we won’t see the results of that until a good 2-3 years from now, and at that point they could have four different GMs, two new owners, and 6 new head coaches. Humor aside I don’t trust this organization for anything in the past 50 years and neither should you. I have the Cleveland Browns going 5-13 and last in the division.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers

This division is tough. There’s 3 teams that can easily steal the division title, and the Steelers are definitely one of those teams. They have the best offense in the division that’s not even a question. Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and Big Ben were either top 5 or 2 at their position last year. It’s odd to think about how high powered the Steelers offense and how average their defense is. There is nothing special about their defense once so ever. This is the same team that has made history in the league through their stout defenses. That is the only reason I have them here instead of higher. This team relies on Big Ben’s hot arm and Le’Veon Bell’s wonderful vision. The draft they had was okay. I liked what they did in the first 2 rounds but I’m not feeling too positive about the rest of it. I have this team going 10-6 just outside of the playoffs and 3rd in the division.

  1. Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens are a team that has consistently stayed relevant for quite some time now. Harbough keeps these boys ready on both sides of the ball. After the unfortunate Ray Rice situation, the Ravens had to find some answers somewhere for their running game. Forsett was that answer. Forsett kept the offense alive when he was finally given the chance to do something. His ability to find gaps and burst through the hole has always been at an elite level and in Baltimore he was finally able to showcase it. The Ravens have always been a team that doesn’t tear through their regular season schedule, but instead knows how to get hot at the right time in the postseason and make some noise. The Ravens have great young guys all over their defense and in particular, C.J. Mosley. The kid is just oozing with potential that has still yet to be seen and he had my DROY vote even though he didn’t win it. The WR core is even a less desirable one than before and although Steve Smith put up stats we have not seen from him in quite some time, I do not expect it to continue this season. They will need someone to step up in that core and I believe Harbough will find that man just like he found Forsett. I have the Ravens going 11-5, 2nd in the division, and losing in the second round of the playoffs.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals once again are just the best all around team in the division again. I have no hope in the franchise past the regular season, and even then the front office is incapable of making the right decision with a head coach who has yet to win a playoff game in the entire time he has been there. Oh, and Marvin Lewis has been on the Bengals as the head coach for 10+ years. Regardless of these many many shortcomings, when it comes to the regular season I see the Bengals coming out on top with their most recent core of guys. They have the best WR core in the division, best duo of RBs in the division, and probably the best defense in the division. The QB position is the only questionable factor, but Andy Dalton is not a bad QB at all. He is serviceable despite what many in social media will tell you. They do not have an easy schedule, but regular season I believe in them. I have the Bengals going 11-5, winning the division, and going down in the first round just as they have so many other times.

2015 Wildcard Preview and Prediction

After months and weeks of anticipation we’ve finally arrived to the playoffs where we have a clear cut view on who the 12 teams competing for the Superbowl are.

Within those 12 teams you have the:

(1) 12-4 NE Patriots

(2) 12-4 DEN Broncos

(3) 11-5 PIT Steelers

(4) 11-5 IND Colts

(5) 10-5-1 CIN Bengals

(6) 10-6 BAL Ravens representing the AFC

and the

(1) 12-4 SEA Seahawks

(2) 12-4 GB Packers

(3) 12-4 DAL Cowboys

(4) 7-8-1 CAR Panthers

(5) 11-5 ARI Cardinals

(6) 11-5 DET Lions representing the NFC.

Seattle, New England, Denver and Green Bay all get the week off (Top 2 teams in each conference) so that leaves us with eight teams playing this weekend.

Saturday 4:20 PM ET

Cards  cam

(5) Arizona Cardinals vs (4) Carolina Panthers 

Throughout the season both teams suffered a ton of injuries. Carolina’s injury woe wasn’t as severe as the Cardinals though. Arizona lost key players on the defensive line, in the secondary and in the line-backing core. On the offensive side of the ball the Cards lost starting quarterback Carson Palmer and starting running-back Andre Ellington. Hall of Fame bound receiver Larry Fitzgerald hasn’t been as productive either because of the injuries he’s been battling. Because of the offensive injuries Arizona has been having a tough time generating points.

This season Carolina has been in a funk just like it’s fellow NFC South counterparts. After having a stellar year last season Cam Newton has failed to deliver the same type of success due to the lack of weapons he has in his current arsenal. Despite injuries (distractions Hardy) to the defense and Cam having a somewhat down year the Panthers still managed to win their awful division. Rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin has shown that he can be a solid weapon and running back Johnathan Stewart has returned to a solid form, for now. They also have tight-end Greg Olsen playing at a high level.

Coming into this game the Cards have lost 4 of their last 6 games and managed to score over 17pts one time. They are on their 3rd-string quarterback and rank 13th in stopping the run and 29th in defending the pass. The Panthers are rolling right now having gone 4-0 in December. They rank 7th in rushing the football and 12th in passing. With Arizona pretty much being a team that relies on the defense to score Carolina should be able to dictate the flow of the game as long as Cam and co. don’t turn it over. The Panthers should win 16-9 with Cam getting playoff win #1.

Saturday 8:15 PM ET

ravens steelas

(6) Baltimore Ravens vs (3) Pittsburgh Steelers

The Ravens and Steelers both faced questions going into the season. The Steelers dealt with questions surrounding the defense as well as their running game. The Ravens had to deal with the never ending, traumatizing Ray Rice debacle. With Rice gone there was a void that needed to be filled in order for Baltimore to take the next step. Journeyman running-back, Justin Forsett, stepped into the starting role and complemented Joe Flacco to near perfection. With the addition of Steve Smith SR. and the arrival of Justin Forsett the Ravens offensive dynamic changed.

The Steelers at the beginning of the season were a model of inconsistency. Midway through the season that started to change. Led by the best receiver in football, Antonio Brown and the 2nd best running-back in Le’Veon Bell along with Ben Rothlisberger the Pittsburgh Steelers became a fun, yet rather scary team to watch. They would dominate on the ground as well as kill teams in the air. They went undefeated in December and are on a roll.

Heading into this match-up these division rivals split the season series with the home team winning each game. The Steelers are 4-1 since their Bye while the Ravens are 4-2. In this specific game the Steelers will be without Bell who was the 2nd leading rusher and will also have a limited Troy Polamalu in the secondary. Baltimore on the other hand is healthier and they’ll be getting star defensive tackle Haloti Ngata back to help man the middle. With Bell being out the onus falls on the shoulders of Big Ben. The Steerlers are 2nd in passing while the Ravens are 23rd in passing yards allowed. Big Ben could very well win this game but being one-dimensional could end up costing them. The Steelers will hand Joe Flacco his 1st Wilcard loss. Big Ben is is rolling right now and has more than enough offensive weapons in the passing game to beat Baltimore. Steelers win 34-27

Sunday 1:05 PM ET

Bengals colts trip

(5) Cincinnati Bengals vs (4) Indianapolis Colts

These were two teams that people thought would take the next step, especially the Colts. Andrew Luck was basically enshrined into the Hall Of The Fame without doing anything. Nevertheless the Colts won their porous division with little to no competition. En route to going 11-5 they got dominated by the likes of Pittsburgh, Dallas, Denver and New England. They went 4-5 against teams that are .500 and 2-4 against playoff teams. No resemblance of a running game and having only one stud receiver (TY Hilton) hurts them.

The Bengals started off the season on FIRE. After a few weeks they resembled a Superbowl team but quickly faltered after their Bye week. As of late they’ve been battling injuries that have plagued A.J. Green making the offense somewhat stagnant. Depending on the day Cincy can kill you with an aerial attack led by the likes Andy Dalton with Mouhammed Sanu and Green at his helm. Or they could gash you up on the ground with Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard. You just never know with them.

Going into Sunday’s game the Colts have won 5 of their last 6. They are the best passing team in football but are top 3 when it comes to turning the football over (Andrew Luck). The Bengals have been solid as of late but got shut out earlier in the year by the Colts, losing 27-0. This game will more than likely not feature AJ Green. Dalton doesn’t have a playoff win nor does head coach Marvin Lewis. Unless Cincy runs the ball over 40 times, AJ Green suits up or TY Hilton isn’t 100% I don’t see the Bengals misfortunes coming to an end. Colts win 45-13

Sunday 4:40 PM ET

lions Triplets

(6) Detroit Lions vs (3) Dallas Cowboys

Often sought out as the most talented teams in the NFC, the Lions and Cowboys always seemed to disappoint until this year. Going into the season many predicted this would be Lion’s quarterback Mathew Stafford’s break out year. They changed coaches and gave Stafford more help by bringing in Ex-Seahawks wide receiver, Golden Tate, to complement Megatron. The Lion’s exceeded a few expectations because of how they managed to win games without Megatron. Golden Tate had a career year and the Lion’s defense was arguably the best in the league.

The Cowboys have exceeded everyone’s expectations excluding their own. They’ve discovered a new identity as I stated here (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/12/23/the-new-dallas-cowboys/) and have improved defensively. They boast arguably the best quarterback of the season in one Tony Romo, the leading rusher in football, Demarco Murray and wide-receiver touchdown leader Dez Bryant. The Cowboys also own the best offensive line in football. The game is won in the trenches and the Cowboys dominate in that aspect.

Ever since the home loss to Philly, the Cowboys have been dominant. They’ve scored 40+ points in 3 of their last 4 games (38 in one game) and are rolling on all cylinders. Dallas also went 4-0 in December. Detroit won 4 of their last 5 and have been very stout defensively. Defensive tackles N.Suh (monster) and Nick Fairley should be good to go giving the defense a boost. The Boys are the 2nd best team running the ball while Detroit is #1 in stopping it. Flipping the script, the Lions are 6th when it comes to turning over the ball and the Cowboys are 2nd in forcing turnovers. The Cowboys will win 27-14.  Stafford just isn’t efficient enough to win and is prone to turn it over multiple times resulting in Dallas getting easy scoring opportunities.

Each game this weekend is compelling and should be competitive.

Comment below with who you think will win each game.

Follow on Twitter @RyanDFort & @FortonsportsInc

NFL: Contender Or Pretender (AFC)

AFC

AFC:

After about a third of the way through the season it’s time we look and evaluate if some of the teams to start off hot are Contenders or Pretenders.

So here we go with the AFC Conference

(NFC Conference Coming Soon)

Den

Denver Broncos

Deshawn Hornback (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/author/deshawnh/): The team with Peyton is and always should be deemed a contender, but whether they make noise in the Playoffs or not is still questionable.

Omolade Saka (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/author/omoladesaka/): The Denver Broncos are obvious contenders. Even though they started off slower than last year this team has a lot of offensive weapons and of course Peyton Manning, who could arguably be a top 5 QB of all time. You just can’t count them out with all of the talent they have offensively. Plus, their defense has improved from last year.

R’Mon Allen (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/author/mononsports/): There is no question about the Denver Broncos being contenders in the AFC. They are currently the reigning AFC champions, both their offense and defense improved. Also they are extremely motivated after what happened to them in the Super Bowl. Even though they lost their run game in Knowshown Moreno, you have to believe that their all time great QB Peyton Manning, will figure it out.

Ryan Fort (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/author/ryanfort/): Contenders. Any team that has Peyton Manning at QB has to deemed as a Contender right? Yeah they started off slow but they’re starting to pick it up which could mean trouble for a lot of the teams in the AFC. Gulp, league.

SD

San Diego Chargers

Hornback: The leading MVP Phillip Rivers has his team performing at a contending level and will continue that throughout this season. Don’t be surprised if they steal the division this year.

Saka: The San Diego Chargers are definitely contenders. This team is led by QB Phillip Rivers, who in my opinion is playing like the best QB in the NFL as of right now. Defensively this team is having a very good season. Ranking third in the NFL in Total Offensive yards allowed and fourth in total passing yards allowed. Don’t be surprised if you see them playing for the Lombardi trophy this year.

Allen: The San Diego Chargers are a very legit contender in the AFC. Phillip Rivers is obviously the league MVP and proving all the doubters that buried him years ago wrong. They are vastly improved on the defensive end and their offense is loaded with weapons. Like Denver their running game is suspect due to injury, but a great QB can always cancel that out.

Fort: They are Contenders no doubt. Rivers is having a great year and the team is doing well despite a number of injuries here early on. If any team can dethrone Denver it’s them.

Cincy

Cincinnati Bengals

Hornback: The most talented team in the AFC is what I call them despite them always finding a way to come up short. They will win the division by default but I will not call them contenders.

Saka: This team is a pretender. Yes, this team will definitely make the playoffs and more than likely win their division but they have yet to win a playoff game under Marvin Lewis and he has been their head coach since 2003. Plus their No. 1 WR is out till who knows when.

Allen: Despite being the most talented team in the league the Bengals are merely a pretender. They never seem to show up when the big moments arrive. You can have all the talent you want to but it takes heart be a contender in this league.

Fort:  Pretenders. In the Playoffs they can never get going. And with Green injured I’m expecting a huge drop with this team.

Pats

New England Patriots

Hornback: I always believe in Brady because somehow someway his team will find a way to be successful. But I do believe that they need to capitalize on these receivers being dangled around on the trade block. Contender.

Saka: Tom Brady is just a flat out winner and you can never count him out because he will always find a way to win. I also believe in Bill Belicheck, which I believe is one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. Don’t count this team out just yet. Contender.

Allen: We are finally starting to see decline of The New England Patriots. With Logan Mankins not there to protect their all time great QB Tom Brady and having limited weapons on both the passing and running game the Patriots are going to have a tough time competing with the best in the Conference. Borderline Pretender at best.

Fort: The jury is still out on this squad. They’re starting to put it together but I honestly don’t know…. It all depends on if Gronk can healthy… I’m going with…. Pretender. Brady is in decline.

Ravs

Baltimore Ravens

Hornback: Flacco has been solid and the defense is underrated this year but this team is quietly making noise. I don’t quite see them as a contender without more star power. Pretender

Saka: Pretender. This team can’t compete with elite teams in the AFC and probably won’t even win their division because they have the Bengals in it.

Allen: Contender, you have to love the way the Ravens have improved their passing game by acquiring Steve Smith and their Defense has always been top notch. They will be a force to be reckoned with.

Fort: If they can make it through the regular season above .500 sure they’ll be Contenders. Flacco is currently under the radar which is good. Unlike Peyton, Flacco is the QB you want in the postseason. He’ll be getting called ELITE again by season’s end.

luck

Indianapolis Colts

Hornback: Not impressed with anything about this team so far. Horrible run game and Luck is turning over the ball too much. Pretender.

Saka: Contenders. The Colts have the #1 total offense and the #1 passing offense. This team is gonna be hard for any defense to compete with. They can make a run for the championship. It’s all depending on Andrew Luck.

Allen: Not sold on the Colts just yet. They play in the worst division in football (AFC South) and their offense is mistake prone despite of the numbers Luck is putting up. Pretenders for now.

Fort: The Colts are not Contenders, yet. Luck turns the ball over too much for my liking. If he were to play Brady, Manning or Rivers it would get ugly because of his turnovers. We all remember what happened when Luck faced Brady last year. But then again he did dismantle Cincy and beat the Ravens so far…. So hmmm.

hou

Houston Texans

Hornback: With Fitzpatrick at QB I’m calling this team a pretender. Despite JJ Watt’s greatness I don’t see this team making any noise this year.

Saka: Pretenders. This team might be very good defensively and they do have the best defensive player in the NFL in JJ Watt but they just can’t win with Fitzpatrick at QB. The guy is just terrible in my opinion.

Allen: Clearly the Texans are pretenders, despite having the best defensive player in the league. Their QB is Ryan Fitzpatrick. Nothing else to say.

Fort: Pretenders. J.J Watt is the best defensive player in Football but let’s be honest here…. Fitzpatrick is a 6th tier QB. You can’t contend with him.

AFC Team That Could Rise:

Hornback: browns

The Browns could be very interesting if they can stay over.500 by the time they get Josh Gordon back, because if they do they WILL make the playoffs.

Saka:

This is a weak conference and I don’t see anyone else coming up and becoming contenders. The Playoff teams are very clear in this conference.

Allen:

At this point in time the race for the AFC seems clear cut and I don’t see much coming from anywhere else in the AFC.

Fort: KC

Kansas City is slowly coming up. If they continue to improve their play and Bowe along with Charles remain healthy they could regain last year’s form. Just watch.

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NFL Season Preview By Divisions

US                                

AFC

AFC West Preview: (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/afc-west-preview/)

AFC East Preview: (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/afc-east/)

AFC South Preview: (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/afc-south-preview/)

AFC North Preview: (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/afc-north-preview/)

NFC

NFC East Preview: (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/nfc-east/)

NFC West Preview: (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/nfc-west-preview/)

NFC South Preview: (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/nfc-south-preview/)

NFC North Preview: (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/nfc-north-preview/)

AFC North Preview

 

afc north

 

AFC North

A couple of years ago teams never wanted to face this division because this division was known for rough, punch you in the mouth, style of defenses. The teams leading those defenses have become old, star players have retired. Even with that this remains to be one of the most competitive divisions in football.

Cleveland Browns:
Nobody thought coming into this year that they would care about this team at all. But Cleveland as a city is becoming huge for media outlets with a certain NBA player and the most controversial guy in the NFL, Johnny Manziel.

I’m a Manziel guy. I believe he is going to do great thing in this league, but he did not win the starting job over the preseason. And he alone can’t turn a mediocre team into the best team in the nation. The Browns lost a monster receiver in Josh Gordon due to use of marijuana, (If you want an opinion on that another writer is planning on giving you one.) and their starting RB is Ben Tate… They still have Jordan Cameron who I believe will become a ridiculously talented elite TE in the future, but outside of that there is a lot to be desired of this offense.

They grabbed Miles Austin in the offseason who had one good year and as of late seemed to find the perfect time to run horrible routes for the Cowboys so I don’t have much faith in him. It doesn’t matter who the starter is whether it’s Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel, there simply is not enough talent on this offense.

Now the defense will be able to pick up a lot slack from the offense. Joe Haden is a top 5 CB no doubt about it. Most WRs will have a very hard time getting open on this guy. They have a good front 7 as well, but outside of Haden they don’t have another elite guy on that side of the ball. They won’t be able to beat good teams with just their defense. At the end of the year the Cleveland Browns will finish 5-11 regardless of if Manziel takes over at some point.

Baltimore Ravens:
To think that they just won a Super Bowl 2 years ago is crazy. Problem from that is that they’ve lost almost all of their veterans to retirements, trades, or free agency. Then there is the huge controversy surrounding Ray Rice. This team is all out of sorts. There was some crazy stat I saw the other day like 1 out of every 5 players on the Ravens has been arrested. That is beyond outrageous. So distractions are heavy at this point.

Joe Flacco had an average year at best last year, and it does not seem like it’s going to be different if the preseason correlates to anything in the regular season. They have Torrey Smith who will continue to be a deep threat and Dennis Pitta who is a solid TE. The Ravens acquired Steve Smith from the Panthers this past off-season, but he has been on his downward slope for a couple of years now.

On defense Terrell Suggs was and will continue to be a monster on defense, Haloti Ngata is impossible to block and they still have a solid CB Ladarius Webb. That alone though cannot overcome the off field issues and other deficiencies on both sides of the ball. This year the Ravens will end their year 7-9 and 3rd in the division.

Pittsburgh Steelers:
Just barely missing the playoffs last year behind the Chargers, the Steelers will be looking for redemption this year. Last year Antonio Brown was a top 5 WR for receiving yards and receptions. Big Ben and Brown have chemistry and I expect that to continue this year. Le’Veon Bell had injury issues his rookie year so the Steelers made a great pickup for this year picking up former Patriot LeGarrette Blount. The offense will be able to do what they were doing near the end of last season and make plays when they need them.

On the defensive side I’m worried though. It seems like the Steelers are looking for the guy farthest away from the ball to make every single play. Troy Polamalu is getting older and cannot continue to do everything on defense for this team. Consistency will hurt this team again this year and it will be their downfall. I have the Steelers going 8-8 and missing the Playoffs again.

Cincinnati Bengals:
The Bengals made it to the playoffs last year but lost to the San Diego Chargers in the first round. By default they should win this division as they are light years above these other teams in pure talent.

I’m a strong critic of head coach Marvin Lewis as he has coached this team for 10+ years without a SINGLE playoff victory. It has is now beyond ridiculous. I do not understand how this man still has a head coaching job in the NFL, much less the same team for this long.

The players are supremely talented here. Andy Dalton falls under the radar too much because of his lack of holding onto the ball, but his numbers are ridiculous only comparison being Peyton Manning in his first few years in the league. AJ Green is a top 3 WR, not up for debate. Giovani Bernard had a solid rookie year. Marvin Jones had four touchdowns in a SINGLE game. They have a solid TE duo with Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert and a strong line. That was just the offense I gave you.

On defense they have Carlos Dunlap breaking in for sacks, Geno Atkins is right next to Suh as best DT in the league, Leon Hall at corner and I could go on and on. This team is loaded with talent. They have yet to reach their full potential due to a coach that should not have a head coaching job. They will undoubtedly win this division going 11-5 taking the division and making the Playoffs.

afc north game

AFC South Preview: (http://wp.me/p33YLP-iM)

AFC East Preview: (http://wp.me/p33YLP-iw)

AFC West Preview:  (http://wp.me/p33YLP-iB)

De’Shawn Hornback