Category Archives: AFC

NFL Divisional Playoffs: Steelers vs Broncos (Preview)

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Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) vs Denver Broncos (12-4)

January 17th 4:40 PM ET/ 3:40 Central

Last Saturday’s victory over the Cincinnati Bengals was not only impressive, great & epic, it proved to be costly as well. Scoreboard wise the Steelers might’ve won 18-16 but in the minds of many this upcoming game against the Broncos is where the Steelers injury riddled season ends.

Healthy, the Steelers were/are an offensive juggernaut not too many if any teams would like to face. They posses not only an All-Pro Quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger but also an All-Pro Running Back in Le’Veon Bell & an All-Pro Reciever in Antonio Brown. They also have guys like Markus Wheaton, Martavis Bryant & Heath Miller who can make plays as well. Oh, and the Steelers also have a legit guy backing up Bell in DeAngelo Williams.

The bad thing about what I just listed is….The stars are hurt….

Ben Roethlisberger has a separated shoulder. (Injured in the Cincy game.)

Antonio Brown has a concussion so he’s out for the game. (Injured in the Cincy game.)

And Le’Veon Bell has been out since Week 8 with a season ending knee injury. (Injured in a game against Cincy actually.)

Even backup running back DeAngelo Williams is out this week due to a foot injury.

Tough luck.

The Broncos on the other hand are a lot more healthy.

Even with the inconsistent play at quarterback this season (Peyton Manning & Brock O) the Denver Broncos were still pretty damn dominant in part because of their defense.

On defense guys like DeMarcus Ware, Shane Ray, Derek Wolfe & Von Miller (linebackers/ defensive ends) can rush the quarterback while guys like Aqib Talib & Chris Harris Jr. can lock down the opposing teams’ receivers.

From top to bottom the Denver Broncos are the scariest defense in football.

On the season Denver has 52.0 sacks, 14int, 25 forced fumbles (13 recovered), two blocked kicks & 5 defensive TDs….

Prediction: bronx win 24-13

No Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell & DeAngelo Williams is going to hurt the Steelers ultimately. Throw in the fact that they have half of Ben & I don’t see them having much of a chance…. Peyton could still very much throw the game away. But that’s highly unlikely.

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NFL Divisional Playoffs: Chiefs vs Patriots (Preview)

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Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) vs New England Patriots (12-4)

January 16th – 4:35 PM ET/ 3:35 Central

 

Winners of 11 straight games, The Kansas City Chiefs are rolling on all cylinders. The defense is stout. The special teams group is solid. The offense is in sync. And above all else Alex Smith is comfortable and in rhythm.

This past weekend, in which many thought would be a nice competitive game, the Chiefs man handled the Houston Texans by 30 points all while playing on the road.

The defense forced 5 turnovers and pitched a shutout. On the offensive side of the ball Kansas City didn’t have much trouble moving up and down the field tallying 314 yards of total offense. They were able to move the ball in the air as well as on the ground. And let’s not forget about how the special teams scored a touchdown on the opening kick to start off the game.

Kansas City is the real deal.

After starting off the season on a roll New England started to let up off the gas a bit due to the injuries that hit their star players. Tom Brady was banged up. Wide Reciever Julian Edelman was out. Starting Running Back Dion Lewis was lost for the season. And All-Pro Tight End Rob Gronkowski was in and out of the lineup. The Patriots ended the season with a 12-4 record (losing 4 of their last 6) despite starting off the season 10-0.

The four teams that beat the New England Patriots were:

The Denver Broncos

The Philadelphia Eagles

The New York Jets

The Miami Dolphins

Each team did a nice job of stifling New England’s receivers and getting pressure on Tom Brady. Denver, New York and Miami managed to takeaway the Patriots ground game, thus making them one dimensional. Philadelphia, on the other hand forced multiple turnovers and had a defensive touchdown along with a touchdown created by the special teams unit.

All four teams manipulated the Patriots in ways the Chiefs can mirror.

For New England to win this weekend the offensive line must protect Brady (38 sacks this season) much better than they have been with Kansas City coming to town with a defense that has 47 sacks on the season (ranked 4th) and has forced 29 turnovers (ranked 5th).

Outside of protecting Brady the Patriots will need someone to step up. Gronk appears to be injured and Edelman is just now returning so counting on them to be their selves isn’t the ideal scenario. Guys like Steven Jackson, Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell need to be ready. Or else things could get ugly (see Houston last week.)

PREDICTION: KCCC.png win 31-20

The last time these two teams met the Chiefs won 41-14. They forced Brady into three turnovers, scored a defensive touchdown and ultimately shut down New England’s receiving core. On the offensive end that game Kansas City was able to accumulate 200+  yards rushing and toss a few touchdown passes.

In this meeting I think it’ll be more of the same. Kansas City is much better defensively and offensively this season when compared to last year. The same can’t be said for New England.

If Kansas City can consistently get to Brady and suffocate his receivers they’ll be good. As for the offense all they have to do is play smart and protect the football; establish a ground game first that way guys like Jeremy Maclin (if available) and Travis Kelce can beat them over the top later.

My Game of the Week

FUN FACT: Andy Reid is 1-4 vs Bill Belichick (1-0 with the Chiefs)

 

 

 

 

The Manning Reign

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Whenever there’s a discussion about elite Quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning are both mentioned. Peyton is universally known as the Greatest Regular Season Quarterback ever, while Eli is known as the only to defeat Tom Brady not only once…. but TWICE. Together they have accounted for 3 Super Bowls, 3 Super Bowl MVPs, 17 Pro Bowl selections and 5 NFL MVP awards.

For the past few seasons both players haven’t sustained great play.

Last season in particular we saw an ailing Peyton fail to make the appropriate throws necessary for his team to be successful. Was his minor thigh injury to blame? Or was it because of his torn right quad? Maybe the neck surgery finally caught up to him…….Whatever the case may be Peyton is not right and he hasn’t been the same since losing to the Seahawks in the Super Bowl a couple of years back. Is he starting to decline or is it too soon to conclude?

Eli on the other hand hasn’t been consistent. After winning the Super Bowl in 2012(season of 2011) his teams have finished with records of 9-7, 7-9 & 6-10 missing the playoffs in each of those years. Here at the start of 2015 his team is facing an 0-1 hole after questionable decision making on his behalf. Is he worth the $84 million contract extension recently signed? Or is he officially overpaid?

Me and fellow writer @deshawnh are about to dive in….

Eli Manning:

Raiders vs Giants

Ryan Fort: In the case of Eli I don’t believe he’s worth $85 million. For a guy whose won multiple Super Bowls he still makes rookie mistakes which doesn’t bode too well for me. In my eyes that displays a lack of growth, leadership and passion for the game. When you look at his numbers you can’t tell if he’s getting better or worse from a year to year basis. Serious question, why do some view him as an elite. Please enlighten me.

Deshawn Hornback: Well where to start? I honestly believe Eli catches a little more criticism than he should because he is not an awful QB. With that being said he has never been elite and the money he is getting paid shows otherwise. Eli makes more money than his brother Peyton, Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan, Tony Romo, Drew Brees and Phillip Rivers. He is not better than any of those I mentioned. He had his best season last year, but I could easily see him relapsing like he has so many times before.

Fort: I believe he deserves every little ounce of criticism. Peyton, Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Brees are all ways viewed as the favorites to win their respective divisions and contend for a Super Bowl while Eli isn’t. Guys like Romo, Michael Vick, Robert Griffin lll and Nick Foles have constantly outshined him. You can pick any year from his career and I guarantee you he wasn’t the best quarterback in his division at that time.

Hornback: I can agree with Eli never being the best QB in the division, but I would not say that the Giants have never been given the expectations of a division title with him at the helm. He had some elite defenses. I have two questions for you. Do you believe that Eli will receive a spot in Canton and do you believe he deserves to be there?

Fort: Yeah, he did have some elite defenses. And as far as the whole Canton idea goes I’m on the fence. I believe he’ll have a spot because his last name is Manning. But as far as deserving a spot goes, it could go either way. What’s your take?

Hornback: I believe he will without a doubt because of that first championship alone and how it all went down, but when it comes to truly deserving it I say no. I really believe that he isn’t a top 50 QB ever. He barely has anything outside of the two championships in terms of accolades and the numbers definitely don’t support the idea of him being a Hall of Famer.

Fort: Agreed. He has a lot of ground to make up if he wants to be mentioned with the likes of Peyton, Joe Montana, Brett Farve etc. Eli Manning is nothing more than a modern day era Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson. Granted, he is a better passer than the two I just mentioned but that’s not saying very much.

Denver Broncos vs New England Patriots AFC Championship at Sports Authority Field

Fort: Let’s get away from Eli for a second and turn our attention towards Peyton… Does he still have it?

Hornback: Well do I believe he still has it. Will he be a top 3 QB this year like he was for about 12 straight years? No. I do still think he can be a top 10 QB that does just enough to win, because the team he has right now is the best overall team he has ever been on in my opinion. They have arguably a top 5 defense, CJ Anderson started to rejuvenate their run game at the end of last year, and their receiving core still has Demariyus Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Peyton does not need to be great; he only has to be good. And in that sense I believe Peyton still has something. After the first half of his game in Arrowhead everyone on social media was overreacting and saying how he was done. Then, even though it was the ugliest  drive I had ever seen from him, he still got them a tie ball game in the final minute of a crucial division road game.

Fort: I don’t think Peyton has entirely too much left. Ever since he lead Denver to historical numbers offensively a few seasons ago I think he started to fall off. His throwing power isn’t the same nor is his accuracy. Can he still play? Yes, but I don’t know for how much longer.

Hornback: I really believe he has a great chance to lead Denver to a championship this year. He has tremendous talent all around him. The only weakness I see is his offensive line but it is not awful. Of course I don’t have Denver winning the AFC but it would not surprise me one bit to see him representing the AFC again this year.

Fort: It wouldn’t surprise me either because of Wade Phillips’ defense. As far as the offense goes I think Gary Kubiak needs to take a step back. He came to Denver with the intent on extending Manning’s career by having him play the late John Elway role. In Houston and Baltimore that system was better suited because he had Arian Foster and Justin Forsett in the backfield, while having inconsistency in the quarterbacking department as Matt Schuab and Joe Flacco were his leaders. I don’t like that scheme for Denver.

Hornback: I believe the worst thing you can do is take control out of Peyton’s hands. Honestly I don’t believe there is a better play caller in the history of the NFL. He’s the most intelligent QB in NFL history let him use that. I think Elway coming by and saying “Hey Terrell Davis extended my career, allow CJ to extend yours,” is enough to convince Peyton to take a minor step back. Putting the control into Kubiak’s hands is not the answer.

Fort: Yeah I’m guessing CJ is now Terrell Davis good….child please. My main point is that Peyton is without a doubt declining and I believe Kubiak’s system is and will make it more apparent. Last season we saw Peyton drop out of the top 5, (Rodgers, Romo, Brady, Rothlisberger, Luck & Wilson imo were better) and I believe he has a chance to drop even further down the list this season. (Brees, Rivers, Ryan and Flacco could all be better.) His farewell tour has pretty much started in my eyes.

Hornback: First of all I never said CJ=Terell. I’m saying take a cue from what Elway did and hand it off about 350 times like he did with Terrell. Elway differed so much that he got his passing attempts below 400 at one point. Peyton should aim for that. 2nd of all I disagree with Peyton falling that far out. Until I see him fall apart I’m going to stick by him and still say he’s a tremendous QB than could easily win a championship this year.

Conclusion

Eli Manning, Peyton Manning

Fort: In essence Peyton and Eli could both prove me wrong this season… I just don’t think they will. What do you see them accomplishing this season and how much longer do you think they’ll last?

Hornback: I think Eli will play out his contract and Peyton I think should retire after this season before it gets worse but if they (Denver) fool around and win a ring I could see anything happening.

Fort: True. I see Eli blossoming into a trading chip at some point within the next two to three years. As far as Peyton goes I think he’s done after this season regardless of what happens. I don’t see him playing as long as Brett Farve did while being as effective. They’ll both be gone though in five years max…. And as far this season goes Peyton could make a run towards a another Super Bowl, and for Eli he’s and the Giants are in ”No Mans Land….Nothing is happening.

Be sure to voice your opinions… Do you agree or disagree? We’d love to debate with you.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter: @Fortonsportsinc

Ryan Fort: @RyanDFort

Deshawn Hornback: @DeeSportsTalk

NFL Preview: Awards, Hype, Prediction Edition

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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

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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!

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.

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