Category Archives: Cardinals

NFL Divisional Playoffs: Packers vs Cardinals (Preview)

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Green Bay Packers (10-6) vs Arizona Cardinals (13-3)

January 16th 8:15 PM ET/ 7:15 Central

After being consistently inconsistent throughout the Regular Season the Packers managed to pullout a Wildcard victory against the Washington Redskins this past weekend on the road 35-18.

The Packers were able to run the football thanks to Running Backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks. Combined both players rushed for 116yds and 2TDs. Through the air Aaron Rodgers was able pass for 206yds and toss a couple of touchdowns passes. Offensively the Packers were in sync and found the rhythm they had been missing since the earlier portion of this season.

On the defensive side of the ball Green Bay sacked the quarterback 6 times, stifled the Redskins rushing attack (allowed only 84yds) and forced the Redskins to turn the ball over.

The four biggest takeaways from that game is:

  1. Green Bay has found their niche offensively.

  2. Aaron Rodgers finally had a game where he was protected.

  3. Both Green Bay RBs were effective.

  4. The defense was able to dictate what the opposing offense did.

Things are coming together at the right time for the Packers.

Underdogs for a majority of this season the Arizona Cardinals have been a dominant force both offensively and defensively.

The Cardinals average 30.6ppg (good for 2nd) and tally the most yards per game (408.3) offensively. On the defensive side Arizona has forced 33 turnovers (19int 14fumbles), accumulated 36 sacks and have scored 6 defensive TDs.

With guys like Carson Palmer,  David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown on the offensive end and playmakers like Patrick Peterson, Rashad Johnson, Dwight Freeney, Calais Campbell and others on the defensive end the Cardinals have the pieces to be successful.

Prediction: carrrds wins 43-35

The last time these two teams met the Cardinals won 38-8. They were able to sack Aaron Rodgers 8 times and forced him to turn the ball over. With Arizona sporting an elite secondary and Aaron Rodgers having to deal with an inconsistent receiving group ( James Jones, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Richard Rodgers) I don’t see the Packers winning.

Fun Fact: Carson Palmer is 0-1 (0-2) in Playoff games.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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!

Murray, Misleading, Money, Mistake

For the longest amount of time the Dallas Cowboys had been a mediocre team that showcased a multitude of deficiencies, year in and year out.

For a couple of years the problems came on the defensive side of the ball. While other years, it was poor O-line play, and lack of experience coaching wise. But even with those problems being at the forefront, there was still a problem that lingered and hindered them for a long period of time. That problem happened to be the lack of a run game.

During the 6-10 and countless 8-8 seasons, the ‘Boys went through a plethora of runningbacks. Guys like Marion Barber, Tashard Choice, Phillip Tanner, Felix Jones and Sammy Morris had opportunities to shoulder the load, but none of them seized control of the moment like DeMarco Murray did in 2011.

Drafted in the 3rd round with the 71st pick he wasn’t sought out to be the #1 back. He was looked at as guy, for some, who would be a decent backup to Felix Jones. Meant to ease his load as he was often injured. Little did we know Murray was going to end up being a capable back.

DeMarco Murray’s Career Stats (Rushing)

Year  Games  Attempts  Yards   Y.P.C    Fum   TDs

2011:   13          164         897         5.5        1          2

2012:   10          161         663        4.1          2         4

2013:   14          217        1,121       5.2         2          9

2014:   16          392        1,845     4.7           3         13

When Murray was coming onto the scene and taking over for Felix Jones, he started to generate some buzz and make a name for himself. He was a hard runner who had pretty good vision, but would leave yards on the field as he tended to follow his blockers. And was deemed as a guy prone to injury. Solid, but not a stud. (AP, Charles, McCoy, Forte, Foster, Lynch, Rice, Turner).

As the years went by and he progressed, there started to be talk in regards to feeding him more and let Romo take a backseat. That argument really didn’t have much spring to it until after 2013 when he played in 14 games. His most to that date.

With Jason Garrett’s coaching job on the line, Romo’s back issues, and Murray’s contract being up; the Boys decided to run Murray, much to his liking this past season to see what he could do and also because it was the smart thing to do. Murray responded by breaking Smith’s franchise record yard count with 1,845 yards, and helped Romo have a career year and led the Cowboys to a 12-4 record.

Good things happened when he was fed the ball. They maintained drives. Opened up opportunities for Dez and Witten. Kept the defense off the field. Controlled time of possession. Spectacular.

From the outside looking in Murray seemed/seems to be the sole reason for the Cowboys success when that isn’t the case at all.

Did he help? Sure, but it’s deeper than him.

nfl_g_murray_kh_1920x1080

From 2011-13 the Boy’s finished 8-8.

In 2011: the O-line wasn’t that good and ended up being the start of the rebuilding process as the Cowboys drafted left tackle Tyron Smith in the first round. (Murray also drafted). Injuries came all across the line plus Murray didn’t play in three of those games. This team was also one of the most heavily penalized teams. Garrett was the play caller.

In 2012: the defense ended up being historically bad. (3rd worst all time.) Rob Ryan was the defensive-coordinator, and despite his progression as a player, Murray showed a knack for getting injured. Star linebacker Sean Lee missed 10 games gutting the defense. Jason Garrett was the play caller. They were still heavily penalized. Rarely forced turnovers. However, Dez was officially established. And Murray missed 6 games.

In 2013: the Cowboys drafted center Travis Frederick in the first round aiding the line. Monte Kiffin became defensive coordinator changing the scheme of the defense. Sean Lee missed 5 games. Murray missed 2 games. And Tony Romo missed the final game of the season. The defense was a record setting defense and the worst in NFL history, ever. Bill Callahan was play caller. (Offensive coordinator as well.) Heavily penalized still.

In 2014: the Cowboys drafted guard Zack Martin. (All-Pro as a rookie). Murray played in all 16 games despite getting injured. Romo played in all 16 games. Rod Marinelli became defensive coordinator. Scott Linehan became the offensive coordinator as well as play caller. Callahan was moved to offensive line coach. The defense was slightly on par with being average. Sean Lee missed the full season. This team wasn’t penalized as much as previous years, and the defense forced the 2nd most turnovers in the league.

As I stated before, Murray was a key cog in the Cowboys success but he wasn’t the main reason.

Guys like Witten, Romo, and Dez made the game easier for him as he did for them. All of those guys were already proven stars while Murray was still on the cusp.

Having Murray did hide the defense some; but how much of it was really him when the defense was second behind Houston in forcing turnovers?

His leadership on the field was nice too, but does that out do Rolondo McClain’s and Justin Durant’s leadership on the other side of the ball? Oh wait, what about Dez being vocal and rallying guys hyping them up? Was that just Murray too?

I’m guessing Marinelli making the most of what little talent he had defensively was more about Murray too.

Football is the greatest team sport there is. Each man HAS to do their job for the other to succeed. Collective effort bottom line.

With all of that being said DeMarco Murray did deserve to be paid. Just not by the Cowboys.

Dallas couldn’t have afforded him and still have money to make some moves on the defensive side of the ball. Throw in the facts that the o-line is elite, Murray is prone to injury and that he started to slow down at the end of the season and the decision is a no brainier.

Running-backs can easily be replaced. You can have a two back tandem, a three headed monster, or just one stud and have a nice amount of production. Especially with a good offensive line.

With this upcoming draft being RB heavy, the Dallas Cowboys can easily find a replacement for DeMarco at a CHEAPER cost for four more years. Simple and smart. There will be money to add new players as well as feed your own.

The Bengals have a two headed monster. The Bills had a two headed monster. The Ravens found a quick Ray Rice replacement in Forsett….

The Boys are playing it smart right now, which is good. They know what they are doing.

Recent history shows they have a plan…

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Food For Thought:

Backup RB Joesph Randle

2013: 13 Games 54 Attempts 164 yards 3 YPC 2TD

2014: 16 Games 51 Attempts 343 yards 6.7 YPC 3TDs

Was it really Murray making the o-line or did the o-line make RBs in general better?

Only time will tell.

Follow on

Twitter: @FortonsportsInc @RyanDfort

NFL Divisional Round Preview

After a wild week in the Wildcard we’ve arrived to the Divisional Round. Within the Wildcard we saw the:

(4) Indianapolis Colts beat the (5) Cincinnati Bengals 26-10

(6) Baltimore Ravens beat the (3) Pittsburgh Steelers 30-17

(3) Dallas Cowboys beat the (6) Detroit Lions 24-20

(4) Carolina Panthers beat the (5) Arizona Cardinals 27-16

Here in the Divisional Round we have:

(6) Baltimore Ravens @ (1) New England Patriots

(4) Indianapolis Colts @ (2) Denver Broncos

(4) Carolina Panthers @ (1) Seattle Seahawks

(3) Dallas Cowboys @ (2) Green Bay Packers

Saturday 4:35 PM ET

raveeens Pats

(6) Baltimore Ravens vs (1) New England Patriots

Last week Baltimore dominated the Steelers. They were able to stifle the run game, rush the quarterback and make things tough on the receivers. Joe Flacco finished the game with 259 yards 2TDs and 0 interceptions while continuing to show us that he’s an elite quarterback. Despite Justin Forsett not having a great game the Ravens still won. If Forsett isn’t contributing this week things could get ugly.

The Patriots struggled the final two weeks of the season as they barely defeated the Jets and lost to the Bills. But even with the drop off in play to end the season New England was still a dominant team. They beat two division leaders, six teams above .500 and went 4-1 against the teams that made the playoffs.

In previous years the Baltimore Ravens have had the Patriots number. Brady is 1-2 against the Ravens, but a lot of that had to deal with presence of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. In this specific math-up give me the Patriots over Baltimore 33-24. Gronk is healthy and they have alot of weapons in the backfield along with a defense that can lockup the Raven’s receiving core.

Saturday 8:15 PM ET

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(4) Carolina Panthers vs (1) Seattle Seahawks

Last week Carolina struggled early against Arizona, but turned it up later on in the 2nd half. Cam was solid (198 yards 2TDs 1int) as was the run game. Johnathan Stewart ran for 123 yards and had a TD. Carolina’s defense was able to force three turnovers which pretty much was the difference maker.

Seattle finished the season on roll and seem to be dominant once again. (Article about them here https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/12/23/they-are-back/.) The L.OB. is still hell to deal with and Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch are dominating on the ground. But even with that success late the San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys provided the blueprint on how to beat them.

Earlier this season these two teams met and the Panthers lost 13-9 having turned the ball over twice and fumbling the ball four times. Johnathan Stewart was solid but the turnovers killed them. This time give me the Panthers over Seattle 23-16. Seattle still struggles to score and the Panthers have hit their stride and the run game is dominant, which is an important asset to have when playing Seattle. FUN FACT: Superbowl Champs are 0-8 the following season in playoff games.

Sunday 1:05 PM ET

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(3) Dallas Cowboys vs (2) Green Bay Packers

Last week the Cowboys had a controversial rally against the Lions. In that specific game they got dominated in the trenches resulting in them being average in the passing attack and stagnant in the run game. Defensively they forced a few turnovers  and shut down Detroit’s offense in the 2nd half keeping the game close.

The Packers were a very dominate team at home as they went 8-0. A-Rod was a monster throwing over 20+ TDs and having 0ints at home. The Packers also average slightly over 40pts at home and went 3-2 against playoff teams. ever since the infamous R-E-L-A-X quote the Packers have gone 11-2.

This match up features a team that dominates on the road (Boys 8-0) and an undefeated home team. The Packers allow around 5.0 yards per carry. Cowboys running back Demarco Murray averaged about 5.0 ypc meaning he could be primed for a big game. With Rodgers’ torn calf being an issue the Cowboys will have an advantage if they can apply an ample amount of pressure. Give me the Cowboys over Packers 34-17. They’ll dominate on the ground, force a few turnovers and of course dominate the time of possession.

Sunday 4:40 PM ET

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(4) Indianapolis Colts vs (2) Denver Broncos

Last week the Colts beat an ailing Cincinnati team that played without key weapons who pose a threat in the passing game. Luck had an alright game throwing for 376 yards and 1TD. That game was more about how the Colts had a game where they actually rushed for over 100 yards.

The Broncos have been a decent team this season. Offensively they aren’t as good as last year’s team, but this year’s defense is much better. They went 8-3 against teams .500 and above. The downside of that is the fact they went 2-3 against playoff teams.

In week one of the season these two teams played and the Broncos were victorious. The Colts turned the ball over multiple times while the Broncos were nearly flawless. But even with that it was only a seven point game. Luck and Manning are 1-1 when playing each other but this time i’m giving the edge to Andrew Luck. If he can be efficient and not turn the ball over they’ll win this game. Give me Indy over Denver 38-34.

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

In Position To Succeed

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Coming into the season no one had the Cowboys making the playoffs. After the first week of play people were quick to anoint them as the worst team in Football. (I’m looking at y’all Mike Ditka, Ray Lewis, Chris Carter, Keshawn Johnson etc…)

Against the 49ers in game one of the season the Cowboys did look bad, but there were a lot of factors that played a role in their putrid performance.

Defensive tackle Henry Melton wasn’t playing every down (he still isn’t but it has increased), defensive end Anthony Spencer wasn’t active, cornerback Orlando Scandrick was suspended, Rookie defensive end Demarcus Lawrence was inactive and more importantly quarterback Tony Romo wasn’t quite ready for game action.

As a result they got smashed and people were quick to press the panic button.

If you paid close attention to that game you would’ve seen a lot of things. For instance, you would’ve noticed how they were dominating the line of scrimmage offensively; how they were effectively running the football; how they controlled the tempo of the game despite turning the ball over and how they minimized giving up the huge plays that plagued them last year defensively.

Add all of that in along with that fact that guys were going to be coming back from injury and you had a reason to feel optimistic about how good this team could be.

I penciled that debacle against San Francisco in as a wakeup call for the offense. And stated that from that point forward everyone was going to have a tough time stopping the Cowboys’ offense. Seems to be right don’t ya think?

The Cowboys followed the 9ers loss with a 28-17 win over the Titans, a 34-31 come from behind win over the Rams, a 38-17 rout over the Saints and a 20-17 overtime victory over the Texans. 

After winning four  straight, with Romo getting healthier and various defensive guys coming back, people still doubted.

Even at 4-1 people were still on the fences about whether or not this team could play. Week six against the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle was supposed to be the game that brought the Cowboys back down to reality. Instead it woke up the whole globe.

In a game that many thought was impossible to win the Dallas Cowboys went in and dominated the Seahawks in every aspect of the game. Seattle couldn’t stop Murray and Romo tore apart the defense when he needed to.

The defense contained Lynch to an extent and dared Wilson to beat them with his arm. The Cowboys won that game 30-23 in what didn’t appear to be as close as the scoreboard may allude one to believe.

After that shocking victory the Cowboys made believers out of a lot of people.

Analysts were calling them the team to beat. People were penciling them in for the Superbowl. And fans were in a frenzy. But even with that a few people were still a bit leery. Some experts wanted to see them win the next game to see if they could continue playing well after pulling off an upset.
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Following the win over the Seahawks the Cowboys defeated the Giants 31-21. That win sat the Cowboys atop the league with a 6-1 record exceeding everyone’s expectations including my own. (http://fortonsports.com/2014/08/29/reason-to-believe/)

Like all streaks the Cowboys’ 6-game ride came to an end. They lost on MNF to the Washington Redskins who had Colt McCoy playing QB 20-17.

Romo injured his back that game and the coaches made a poor decision, which to some people came to be the fault in why the Boys lost. Win or lose, Tony Romo was injured and things didn’t look good going forward.

The next game on the schedule was against the Arizona Cardinals where Brandon Weeden had to start at QB.

The Cowboys competed with the Cardinals for two and half quarters until finally giving in. Weeden couldn’t make the appropriate throws and Murray wasn’t getting much traction on the ground.

After playing inspired ball at first the defense started to fold as they saw the offense failing to convert their stops into scores. The Cowboys fell to the Cardinals 28-17. Thus embarking them on a two game losing skid.

Losers of two straight and with an injured Romo many thought the Cowboys were done. Everyone but the Cowboys that is….

They flew to London to play a game against the Jaguars. Feeling very good about their chances.

Some analysts, on the other hand said they would falter with or without Romo, while others stated they’d win the game regardless of who played QB.

In what was deemed as a “Must Win” game Tony Romo came back from injury and led the Dallas Cowboys to a 31-17 victory over the Jags. (The game was pretty much won at halftime.) The Cowboys were then 7-3 heading into their bye-week with time to rest, heal and regroup.
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Fast-forward to now and here they are sitting at 7-3 tied with the Philadelphia Eagles for the division lead.

As cliche as it might sound the Cowboys once again control their own fate.

Philly is dealing with a QB crisis with Foles being out and Sanchez in. The Giants are bad and the Redskins are god awful. With that being said it’s their division to lose.

They play the Giants (away) next. Followed by a Thanksgiving Day matchup with the Eagles. After that they play the Bears (away) in a Thursday night matchup. The Eagles (away), Colts (home) and Redskins (away) round out the rest of the schedule. (Notice how the games are spaced apart. Plenty of time to rest.)

The four games on the road may sound alarming, but the Cowboys are currently the only team undefeated on the road to this point. And if we’re being honest three of those games are against teams who aren’t .500.

And now that they’re no longer that prolific offense that tries to put up points and rely heavily on Romo’s arm , this team has a chance to change some of the December misfortunes that have hampered this team as of late.

With their physical, smash-mouth style of play the Cowboys should be able to win alot those games that should be played in cold weather.

With Romo getting healthier, Murray eager to close out the season, Dez becoming a prominent force, and the defense picking up it’s play as well as getting healthier this team should be ready to go.

The image changing starts now.

Is the schedule favorable to them? Yes. But that doesn’t/won’t mean anything if they don’t go out and seize it.

They have a chance to do something that hasn’t been done in years and that’s getting to the playoffs. We can talk about what they can do once they make it there but until then it should still be the one game at a time approach.

Day by day. Week by week. No looking ahead. If the Cowboys can follow this motto faithfully they’ll achieve their goal.

Baby steps first. And then you’ll be able to stride and run.
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The NFL’s Most Underrated

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The Detroit Lions have somehow stayed under the radar despite overcoming the enormous issues the team has had so far this season. They lead the division and have earned it no matter how ugly it has been. I picked this team to take the NFC North this year and I am not backing down from that pick. Surprisingly, with Reggie Bush (missed 2 games) , Calvin Johnson (missed 3 games) , Golden Tate, and Matthew Stafford you would expect the offense to be prolific. Instead the Lions rank 25th in total offensive yards, 31st in rushing yards, and 24th in points per game. This offense should be much better than it has been, and despite many people pointing the finger at Stafford I believe there’s more people to blame for the struggles of the offense than just the quarterback. There has been horrible play-calling, all kinds of injuries, and the whole offense outside of Golden Tate looks lost. Without Calvin Johnson they look dazed and confused about what to do. “Megatron” is the most important piece to this offense and with him back look for the offense to start putting points on the board.

This year has been all about the defense for Detroit. A lot of analysts seem to believe the stats do not tell the story of who has the best defense this year, but I beg to differ. They rank 1st in total defensive yards, 5th in passing yards allowed per game, 2nd in rushing yards allowed per game, and 1st in points allowed per game. You do not rank in the top 5 of every defensive stat and not be a legit stout defense. They held Aaron Rodgers to only 7 points which completely astounded me, and right when the Falcons looked like they might have found a groove the Lions did not allow them to score a single point in the second half in London.

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With all the injuries that have been going around, there should be no reason why they hold the division lead. They lost all 3 of their tight ends at one point, Stephan Tulloch, a very solid MLB, took out his ACL this year in an embarrassing fashion, after celebrating for a sack that was not even his, Nick Fairley an important piece on the defensive front, Joique Bell missed a game. Even with those key injuries they are still sitting at the top of the division.

Ndamukong Suh is looking to leave this upcoming offseason, and seems like nothing will change his mind. It will be a huge hit to the squad with him out, because when he brings his A-game to the field there is not a single guy in the league on defense I would rather have than him. He is the guy drawing double-teams and opening things up for other guys to attack the quarterback. For them to ever win anything they must have Suh. And if this is truly his last year there they need to make the effort to make the most of this season.

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The Chicago Bears have been a disappointment to everyone, and the Vikings lost their season as soon as Adrian Peterson stopped playing. This division will come down to the Lions and Packers. Both teams do not have an easy schedule going forward and it will come down to the last game of the season. The teams will face off in Lambeau Field in week 17 which undoubtedly will be a very important game for both teams. The Lions have shown they can stop Rodgers, and if they stay healthy I see no reason in why they cannot win in Lambeau.

The sky is the limit in Detroit, and even though I still have the San Francisco 49ers taking the NFC this year, I have a strong belief in this team. I have this feeling I got last year from the Seattle Seahawks (without that home-field advantage) who I had predicted would win the Super Bowl last season. The Lions have something I do not believe Seahawks ever had. They have a hall of fame receiver and a quarterback who can make plays down the field. If they can mesh the potential of an above average offense with a stout defense they will be the one team nobody will want to face in the Playoffs. Next week they face the Arizona Cardinals in Arizona. If Carson Palmer truly does have a torn ACL, then the Lions will have to take advantage of the opportunity in front of them. If they do that they will be standing atop the entire conference and people would be asking the question, “Are the Lions the real deal?” My answer in short is yes, but to prove my point they have to win this upcoming game against the best team in football the Arizona Cardinals.

NFC East Evaluation

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With about a third of the season over with the sample size to evaluate teams is legit. It’s now time to a look at the NFC East to see how things are shaping up.

Cowboys:

After the last two losses to the Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals we saw that Romo is more valuable than we thought. Even with concerns on his back vs the Jaguars he looked like the old Romo throwing for over 250 yards and 3 TD’s. Dez Bryant was lost the last two games but regained his swagger in London with over 6 catches and over 150 yards and a TD. There’s no need to worry about the O-line either as Murray had his 9th 100 yard game this season and Randle had a huge 40 yard TD. The only concerning factor is the defense. I still don’t trust them. They need to get more pressure on the QB and they need to cover better. But it’s hard to argue the 7-3 record for “Dem Boys”. I’m still sticking with my prediction of a 11-5 record and a NFC East tittle. You have to applaud the job Jerry Jones has down with making this team able to compete.

Eagles:

The high flying Eagles are one of the most explosive offenses. With the departure of DeSean Jackson you would think that the offense would slow down, but it hasn’t. At first the Eagles were winning off of good defense and special teams while Lesean McCoy wasn’t shady and Nick Foles wasn’t producing like he was last year. But thank god for the pick up of Darren Sproles who’s putting up big numbers. Breaking the all time scrimmage yards record back in 2011 with the Saints he has exploded with the Eagles with rushing TD’s receiving TD’s and kick and punt returns. He’s the definition of an athlete. As the season concludes the Eagles Cowboys games will decide the winner of the NFC East even though I feel that both the Eagles and Cowboys will make the playoffs. Now that Foles is out indefinitely for the season the next man up, Mark Sanchez will lead the Eagles to the Playoffs

Giants:
There isn’t much to say about a 3-6 team but the Giants have a lot of young superstars in the making. Leading these stars are Odell Beckham Jr. The rookie star from LSU missed a couple games but has came back with 18 catches 262 yards and 3 TD. The season is pretty much over for the Giants but the future is bright. They drafted a good rookie running back in Andre Williams from Boston college and have drafted well in the secondary and linebacking core. If Jason Pierre-Paul can get back to his dominant early years I then believe the defense will become one of the leagues best defenses. But until then this team won’t go anywhere.

Redskins:
With the Redskins not much is positive. Even with the impressive victory in Dallas nothing much from this team has improved or changed this year. They have started three QB’s this season RG3, Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins which has lead to a 3-5 record. The O-line hasn’t been able to protect the QB, the running lanes for Alfred Morris has been none existent and the defense hasn’t been able to stop anyone. The best thing they have is the new addition of DeSean Jackson who has over 40 catches 700 yards and 4 TD’s. With the return of RG3 we can finally see him in the new system by Jay Gruden. To improve the Redskins need to keep RG3 healthy. He seems to have lost his confidence after that amazing rookie campaign. If they can get him playing like the offensive rookie again you’ll see everyone around him play to their potential. One example would be Alfred Morris. When RG3 and Alfred Morris came in the league together they had combined for more than 2100 rushing yards as they lead there team to a NFC east tittle. If those two can click then the Redskins will be right back to that 2011 form.

The NFC East always comes down to the final week . Even though I feel like two teams will make it to the Playoffs I’m still sticking with my prediction that the Cowboys will win the NFC East and the Eagles will get in as a Wildcard.

NFL: Contender or Pretender (NFC)

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NFC:

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.

Here we go with the NFC

(AFC http://wp.me/p33YLP-kl)

GB

Green Bay Packers

Deshawn Hornback (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/author/deshawnh/): Is this even a question? Green Bay is always a contender with Rodgers at the helm. Outside of the Seattle game he’s been the best QB this year. Eddie Lacy has to get going though for them to beat the elite teams.

Omolade Saka (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/author/omoladesaka/): With Aaron Rodgers at QB you can for sure count this team as contenders. Rodgers is having a very good year. It’s gonna be tough for defenses to find a way to stop him and I’m pretty sure they will get their running game going. Once they do this team is gonna be very difficult to stop.

R’Mon Allen (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/author/mononsports/): Contenders. Aaron Rodgers has played at the highest level and has elevated his entire team as a result. They will win the division and it will be very hard to knock them off in the postseason.

Ryan Fort(https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/author/ryanfort/): Contenders. Rodgers is having a stellar year and isn’t turning over the ball much. The defense is okay and the run game is improved. After the first game he’s thrown 18Tds to 0 interceptions. Time for people to wake up. They’re for real.

EAG

Philadelphia Eagles

Hornback: This team is a contending team because of one thing; they are 5-1 with their best player playing like the worst player. Once LeSean “Shady” McCoy gets going watch out because they’re coming.

Saka: I’m not quite sold on the Eagles and I feel like their 5-1 record is quite deceiving of how good they really are. I still have them winning their division but I don’t see them going deep in the Playoffs especially with the way LeSean McCoy is playing. They will have to prove me otherwise.

Allen: The Eagles are contenders in the NFC. Despite how Dallas is playing I still think they will win the division and once their stout offensive line comes back to health they will become an even more difficult team to deal with.

Fort: Ehh no. They are Pretenders. The way they win games against subpar teams is going to eventually catch up to them. Foles isn’t looking too good an we don’t know if McCoy is going to be consistent. They’re still a pretty fun to watch though.

Panths

Carolina Panthers

Hornback: I don’t even know to be honest with you. The NFC South has been the worst division this year. The Panthers could come out on top with the way everyone is playing, but do I see them beating San Fran, Seattle, Arizona or the Cowboys? No.

Saka: They’re pretenders. Cam Newton has no type of weapons to throw to. They will not make the Playoffs this year despite the NFC South being terrible this year. Even though they are currently at the top of it I still see the Saints finding some way to win the division.

Allen: Pretenders. Even though they are a little better than expected they are still far from competing with the best of the NFC. They have a weak offensive line protecting Cam Newton and due to suspensions and departures their defense has faded as well.

Fort: Pretenders. Cam has no weapons and they aren’t much better than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In all honesty, NFC South teams have lost me completely. The Saints and Falcons should be dominating but both are hampered by a piss poor defense. Hell Rodgers made the Panthers D look awful. Smh.

SEA

Seattle Seahawks

Hornback: The Seahawks are a bunch of pretenders and I do not believe they have a chance at the Playoffs this year. They have become an eye sore to watch and I have lost all confidence in them at this point. PRETENDER.

Saka: Pretenders. This team just traded away Percy Harvin for basically nothing. Their offense will continue to struggle and Russell Wilson will be forced to do more than he usually has to and that will not be good for them. Plus, this defense is very questionable and vulnerable right now.

Allen: Contenders. Despite their slow start you have to believe that the Seahawks will figure it out somehow. With their most electrifying player Percy Harvin going to the Jets it does raise some eyebrows about the offense, but nobody can think that the Legion of Boom will be held down for long.

Fort: With them being the defending Champs I want to give them the benefit of the doubt but I just can’t. The Cowboys abused them at home. The Chargers beat them. Denver figured them out late. The Redskins gave them a challenge. The Rams brought it to them. And A-Rod made game one hard on himself. This team has lost it’s mojo and I don’t see them recovering. Time for a new acronym S.E.A… Season Ended Already. Cause aren’t competing this year. (Side note: Superbowl winning teams struggle in year two.)

DAL

Dallas Cowboys

Hornback: I want to say pretenders but I think I would be lying to myself. The Cowboys are stunning the league and Demarco is on a record pacing season, but can they hold this up? We’ll have to watch and see

Saka: Pretenders. Despite their 6-1 start I don’t see this team continuing their early success later in the season and perhaps the Playoffs. They also can’t beat elite teams in the NFC and I honestly don’t see them winning their division.

Allen: Pretenders. I’m not sold on the Cowboys just yet despite their strong start. I do believe they will make the Playoffs (as a wildcard) but I don’t believe Tony Romo can lead this team far in the playoffs. One and done!

Fort: Contenders. They have the best O-Line in Football. The best RB (Murray) in the league. Arguably the best WR in Dez (this season) and the best 2nd half QB in football. Now that Romo has the pieces things are looking vastly different here in Dallas. If they can shore up the TOs, Pass Rush ( The D-Line will be bigger and more explosive here soon D-Law, Okoye, Brent) and special teams they’ll be lethal. #DemBoysComing

San Fran

San Francisco 49ers

Hornback: They are contenders no doubt at all in my mind. Even though I’m not their biggest fan I have them going all the way to the Super Bowl and I still believe that will happen.

Saka: Definitely contenders. I have this team going all the way to the Super Bowl. Very physical team that knows how to win. They are about to have key players coming back from injuries, and once they do this team is gonna be hard to beat.

Allen: They are only contenders when they have their main defensive weapons at their disposal. If they don’t get Bowman, Smith, and Willis back healthy there is no way they can contend unless Kaepernick plays lights out.

Fort: Pretenders. They aren’t that consistent offensively and the defense isn’t healthy. They have way too many distractions in regards to Harbough and Frank Gore is on the decline. If Kap has to win games with his arm they are in big trouble.

Cards

Arizona Cardinals

Hornback: The defense has tons of injuries this year and Fitzgerald is having the worst season of his career. Despite that they have only lost one game. I’m calling them contenders because I believe in Bruce Arians.

Saka: Pretenders. I just flat out don’t believe in this team and what they can do despite their 5-1 record. Defense missing too many key players. Their No.1 receiver is having his worst year and Carson Palmer has yet to impress me. Wouldn’t be suprised if they didn’t make the Olayoffs.

Allen: Pretenders. I do see the Cardinals making the Playoffs because of their strong defense but I don’t think they can contend without a QB. If Palmer comes back 100% and he is effective then all bets are off.

Fort: They are CONTENDERS. They’re the best team in Football contrary to many beliefs. Without Carson Palmer they still managed to win games. Without Larry Fitzgerald performing they’ve still been able to out gun teams. Even with key injuries to the defense they have still been able to lockup opposing offenses. Had Carson Palmer played against Denver they would undefeated. This team is the real deal.

NFC Team That Could Rise:

Hornback:lions
I have the Detroit Lions winning the division this year and I’m sticking by that because so far they have the best defense in the NFL according to the stats. Just wait until Megatron comes back and watch this team soar.

Saka:lions
The Detroit Lions. This team has so much talent from top to bottom. When Calvin Johnson comes back this team will be so much better offensively. Just wait on it.

Allen:lions
Simple answer The Detroit Lions but that has been the case for the past couple of seasons. With the best receiver in the game in Megatron and a very good defense, the Lions can make a lot of noise in the NFC consistency is their problem.

Fort:lions
The Detroit Lions. Before Calvin got hurt their offense was solid. And despite a few injuries I still think that the defense can be dominant. If Rodgers goes down this is the team to beat in the NFC North. Matter of fact they’re still one of the teams to beat. (Keep in mind they manhandled the Green Bay Packers.)

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