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: 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)
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.
Wellllll heyyyyyy I know this was a surprise huh? The Oakland Raiders have been a joke since Rich Gannon and Charles Woodson got screwed on the infamous “Tuck Rule”. The Raiders have a little bit of hope. David Carr has been a glimmer of hope showing signs of some great potential. That along with grabbing Amari Cooper in the draft the future’s looking brighter in Oakland than it has in quite some time. Now considering today and these upcoming Sundays? Oakland has pretty much no chance. It’s hard being arguably the worst team in the league and being in one of the league’s toughest divisions. The Raiders will be lucky to win a single division game and it is even less likely they have much success anywhere else in their schedule. I have the Raiders going 3-12 and last in their division.
Kansas City Chiefs
Last season much of the Chiefs season went downhill from the first game. Many defensive key pieces got injured in their first game of the year against the Titans. Going into this season, Andy Reid got one of his old weapons back in Jeremy Maclin. Offensive mastermind, getting one of the most explosive receivers in the game, along with arguably the best running back in the league, should equal success on offense right? Wrong. As long as Alex Smith is the quarterback of this team the passing will always fall short. His inability to throw down the field will continue to plague this team’s offense this year. The offense the last 2 years have relied on the running backs and it will continue to be that way this year. On the other side of the ball Kansas City has been elite for the last 2 years and I see no reason for that to change. The Kansas City Chiefs have an incredibly hard schedule this season and I cannot see them surpassing 7 games this year, being 3rd in their division and outside of the playoffs.
San Diego Chargers
Questions came up in the offseason whether or not Rivers would be with the team at the beginning of the season. Now the season is approaching and Rivers is still at the helm of the offense. The Chargers have one glaring issue, and that is the 4 game suspension of future first ballot hall of famer Antonio Gates. The Chargers grabbed Stevie Johnson and Jacoby Jones to go with Keenan Allen and Malcolm Floyd which should be able to fill the void for the first 4 games of the season; if Gates does not win an appeal to reduce the games. Rivers last year was the leading MVP Candidate for about the first 6 weeks of the season. Now, this season the Chargers hope for their QB to not only repeat that but to have it stretch out for the entire season. With the departure of Ryan Matthews, the Chargers decided to grab Melvin Gordon in the draft, who has a lot of upside. The Chargers are filled with a lot of maybes this year, but I believe they will come out on the positive side of those maybes and end the year 10-6 edging into the playoffs in a wildcard spot.
Peyton Manning has been heralded by many as the best regular season QB of all time and I am one who agrees with that statement. Many believe Peyton may have finally hit that wall that happens to all athletes when they reach a certain age, but until I see it for myself I will have to shove all of those beliefs away. Denver still has pretty much everyone from last year. Near the tail end of the season they found a RB named C.J. Anderson who helped push the Broncos to some hard earned victories near the end of the season when Peyton was playing hurt. Now they get a full season with this dual threat RB which could help Peyton not have to do so much. On defense they have the same core of guys who will continue to give teams hell. This division is a lot like the AFC East in my opinion, that it is the same team that will continue to win the division until another team rises high enough to take them down. The Broncos will have a hold over the division once again going 12-4 and making it to the divisional round once again.
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
(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
(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
(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
(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
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.