Category Archives: Colts

The Manning Reign

brothers

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

Advertisements

NFL Preview: Awards, Hype, Prediction Edition

nfl-2015-tickets

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

Division Winners

Who wins the each NFC Division (include record):

Deshawn Hornback {@DeeSportsTalk}:

Packers (11-5)

Cowboys (10-6)

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

Seahawks (13-3)

R’Mon Allen {@RmonAllen}:

Packers 9-7

Eagles 10-6

Falcons 7-9

Seahawks 12-4

Ryan Fort {@RyanDFort}:

Packers (10-6)

Cowboys (13-3)

Saints (11-5)

Seahawks (12-4)

Hashim Ashimi {no Twitter}:

Packers (10-6)

Cowboys (12-4)

Saints (9-7)

Seahawks (12-4)

Tyler Carter {@AyeMrCarter24}:

Packers (12-4)

Cowboys (11-5)

Panthers (8-8)

Seahawks (13-3)

Jonathan Ayala {@JonathanAyalaa_}:

Packers (12-4)

Cowboys (12-4)

Panthers (9-7)

Seahawks (11-5)

Jabbari Booth {@jabbari_b}:

Packers (9-7)

Cowboys (10-6)

Panthers (8-8)

Cardinals (12-4)

Who wins each AFC Division (include record):

Hornback:

Bengals (11-5)

Patriots (11-5)

Colts (13-3)

Broncos (12-4)

Allen:

Steelers (11-5)

Patriots (12-4)

Colts (13-3)

Broncos (11-5)

Fort:

Steelers (10-6)

Patriots (11-5)

Colts (13-3)

Chiefs (12-4)

Ashimi:

Steelers (11-5)

Patriots (12-4)

Colts (12-4)

Chiefs (12-4)

Carter:

Ravens (10-6)

Patriots (12-4)

Colts (13-3)

Broncos (11-5)

Ayala:

Steelers (10-6)

Patriots (11-5)

Colts (10-6)

Chiefs (10-6)

Booth:

Steelers (11-5)

Patriots (11-5)

Colts (10-6)

Broncos (10-6)

Playoff Teams Prediction (Include Seeding)

les-playoffs-nfc

Which NFC teams will be Playoff bound:

Hornback:

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

Allen:

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

Fort:

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

Ashimi:

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

Carter:

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

Ayala:

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

Booth:

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

les-playoffs-afc

Which AFC teams will be Playoff bound:

Hornback:

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

Allen:

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

Fort:

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

Ashimi:

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

Carter:

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

Ayala:

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

Booth:

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

Statistical Predictions:

Who will lead the league in Takeaways:

(Majority)

Hornback: Philadelphia Eagles

Allen: Seattle Seahawks

Fort: New York Jets

Ashimi: Miami Dolphins

Carter: Seattle Seahawks

Ayala: Seattle Seahawks

Booth: Miami Dolphins

Fantasy-Football-Defense-Sleepers

Which teams will be Top 5 Defensively:

Hornback:

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

Allen:

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

Fort:

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

Ashimi:

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

Carter:

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

Ayala:

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

Booth:

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

94182e110814a8496015e5ada5108315

The Top 5 Scoring Teams will be:

Hornback:

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

Allen:

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

Fort:

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

Ashimi:

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

Carter:

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

Ayala:

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

Booth:

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

The League leader in Passing Yards will be:

(Majority)andrew-luck

Hornback: Matt Ryan

Allen: Andrew Luck

Fort: Matthew Stafford

Ashimi: Drew Brees

Carter: Andrew Luck

Ayala: Andrew Luck

Booth: Ben Roethlisberger

The League leader in Passing TDs will be:

(Majority): Same As Above

Hornback: Andrew Luck

Allen: Andrew Luck

Fort: Andrew Luck

Ashimi: Andrew Luck

Carter: Aaron Rodgers

Ayala: Andrew Luck

Booth: Tony Romo

o-NFL-RUNNING-BACKS-facebook

Who will be the leading Rusher:

Hornback: Adrian Peterson

Allen: Adrian Peterson

Fort: Jamaal Charles or LeSean McCoy

Ashimi: Le’Veon Bell

Carter: Le’Veon Bell

Ayala: Adrian Peterson

Booth: Demarco Murray

ap_lynch071015

The League leader in Rushing TDs will be:

Hornback: Eddie Lacy

Allen: Jamaal Charles

Fort: Jamaal Charles

Ashimi: Marshawn Lynch

Carter: Marshawn Lynch

Ayala: Adrian Peterson

Booth: Le’Veon Bell

The League leader in Receiving Yards will be:

(Majority)

Hornback: Antonio Brown

Allen: Calvin Johnson

Fort: Antonio Brown

Ashimi: Julio Jones

Carter: Odell Beckham Jr.

Ayala: Antonio Brown

Booth: Antonio Brown

The League leader in TD Receptions will be:

(Majority)dez

Hornback: Odell Beckham

Allen: Dez Bryant

Fort: Dez Bryant

Ashimi: Odell Beckham Jr.

Carter: Dez Bryant

Ayala: Dez Bryant

Booth: Dez Bryant

Award Winners:

Coach of The Year Will Be:

(Majority)Chuck Pagano

Hornback: Chuck Pagano

Allen: Chuck Pagano

Fort: Jason Garrett

Ashimi: Chuck Pagano

Carter: Pete Carroll

Ayala: Rex Ryan

Booth: Joe Philbin

The Best Offensive Rookie:

(Majority) 150508-amari-cooper-2

Hornback: Ameer Abdullah

Allen: Amari Cooper

Fort: Jameis Winston

Ashimi: Nelson Agholor

Carter: Marcus Mariota

Ayala: Amari Cooper

Booth: Melvin Gordon

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

The Best Defensive Rookie:

Hornback: Leonard Williams

Allen: Shane Ray

Fort: Dante Fowler Jr. *****

Ashimi: Vic Beasley

Carter: Vic Beasley

Ayala: Leonard Williams

Booth: Randy Gregory

Super Bowl XLIX

Comeback Player of The Year:

Hornback: Adrian Peterson

Allen: Kiko Alonso

Fort: Carson Palmer

Ashimi: Adrian Peterson

Carter: Adrian Peterson 

Ayala: Adrian Peterson

Booth: Greg Hardy

Offensive Player of The Year:

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

Hornback: Adrian Peterson

Allen: Andrew Luck

Fort: Aaron Rodgers

Ashimi: Andrew Luck

Carter: Andrew Luck

Ayala: Adrian Peterson

Booth: Jamaal Charles

Defensive Player of The Year:

(Majority)jjwatt_7ht8qmbw_79plb80t

Hornback: Luke Kuechly

Allen: J.J. Watt

Fort: Ndamukong Suh

Ashimi: J.J. Watt

Carter: J.J. Watt

Ayala: J.J. Watt

Booth: J.J. Watt

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

Who will be MVP:

Hornback: Andrew Luck

Allen: Andrew Luck

Fort: Tony Romo trolls

Ashimi: Andrew Luck

Carter: Andrew Luck (maybe Romo)

Ayala: Andrew Luck

Booth: Tony Romo

Super-Bowl-50-Logo

Preseason Superbowl Picks:

Hornback: Colts vs Cowboys untitled

Allen: Steelers vs SeahawksSeattleBlack

Fort: Chiefs vs Cowboysuntitled

Ashimi: Colts vs SeahawksIndianapolis_Colts2

Carter: Colts vs SeahawksSeattleBlack

Ayala: Colts vs SeahawksSeattleBlack

Booth: Patriots vs Cowboys untitled

Conclusion:

Please be sure to follow us on Twitter:

@Fortonsportsinc

Ryan Fort: @RyanDFort

Deshawn Hornback: @DeeSportsTalk

R’Mon Allen: @RmonAllen

Tyler Carter: @AyeMrCarter24

Hashim Ashimi: N/A

Jonathan Ayala: @JonathanAyalaa_

Jabbari Booth: @jabbari_b

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

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

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…

edf491403c00c31f58f20cbfd7c98d1d

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

Top 10 Defensive Ends of All-Time

2015/01/img_1532.jpg

10. Gino Marchetti

Known as the first true pass rusher alongside Doug Atkins, Gino was ahead of his time. He was adept at stopping the run, but best know for his pass rushing techniques. Teams used to double team and sometimes even triple team Gino but to no avail, as the rest of the Colts defensive line would step up and make a play. If there was a sack stat during his time, then we would know more about how well he rushed the passer, but sadly, the sack stat didn’t come into existence until 1982.

2015/01/img_1531.jpg

9. Julius Peppers

Peppers came in with a lot of hype. Some may say he hasn’t completely lived up to it do to his inconsistency, but when this man had good years he had dominating good years.For the Panthers in 2004, Peppers recorded 11.0 sacks, 2 interceptions, 9 pass deflections, and 2 defensive touchdowns. If it wasn’t for the greatness of Ed Reed, he could have easily won NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Peppers could effect the game in various ways whether it was stopping the run, rushing the passer, or dropping into coverage. If he could have done those things on a more consistent basis, then he would be higher on this list.

2015/01/img_1530.jpg

8. Jared Allen

Jared Allen is the best defensive end I’ve been able to fully watch as his career has unfolded. He almost went 9 straight years with 10 sacks each year but came a little short in 2006. Allen started his career in Kansas City, but he was able to truly take off when he became a Viking in 2007; recording 15.5 sacks his first year in Minnesota. I will always remember Allen for his playoff game against the Cowboys. His stats were not outstanding, but it seemed like on every single play, he was in the backfield in Romo’s face causing havoc. As of today he is 9th all time in career sacks and playing for the Chicago Bears.

2015/01/img_1529.jpg

7. Chris Doleman

Recording one of the best seasons ever by an end with 21 sacks in 1989, Doleman gave O-Lines hell. Doleman, as physical as he was, only missed two games his entire 15 year career. He is 4th all time in career sacks with 150.5. You could argue for him to be higher on this list if you only looked at the stats, because as a straight pass rusher, he has an argument as a top 5 guy.

2015/01/img_1528.png

6. Lee Roy Selmon

This is another guy that’s hard to show his impact on the game because of there being no sack stat in existence. He battled injuries at the beginning of his career but by 1978 he found his groove. He was named to five All-Pro teams, was named the NFC defensive lineman of the year four times, and won defensive player of the year in 1979. A back injury in 1985 caused a premature end to what could have been an even greater career than it already was.

2015/01/img_1527.jpg

5. Howie Long

I like to compare JJ Watt to Howie Long. Howie Long was a rare case of overall speed, size, strength, and quickness. He was an essential piece to a championship Oakland Raiders team. He was able to affect games in all kinds of ways. He was also a member of 5 all pro teams and collected over 84 sacks.

2015/01/img_1526.jpg

4. Doug Atkins

It’s hard to describe how good he was. There wasn’t a sack stat until 1982. He was 6’8 playing defensive end. He used to leapfrog defenders…..at 6’8. Atkins revolutionized the position along with Gino Marchetti. He was best at batting down the ball at the line of scrimmage and causing all kinds of havoc no matter if it was against the run or the pass.

2015/01/img_1525.jpg

3. Bruce Smith

Bruce Smith made a living of abusing offensive lines. He’s the all time leader in sacks with 200, has two defensive player of the year awards, and has been selected to 11 all pro teams. You could make a case for Smith to be at the top of this list because he dominated for such a long period of time, and didn’t really experience any down years until the end of his career.

2015/01/img_1524.jpg

2. Deacon Jones

Deacon’s numbers aren’t great but that’s in part to the fact sacks weren’t recorded until 1982. Deacon was the one that actually came up with the term “sack”. According to Deacon he had 20 sacks in 1963, 26 sacks in 1967, and 24 sacks in 1968. Regardless of the validity of those statistics, Deacon was an unstoppable force on defense. He was the leader for arguably the greatest defensive line in NFL history, the Fearsome Foursome.

2015/01/img_1523.jpg

1. Reggie White

Nobody can convince me of a better pass rusher than Reggie White. He absolutely abused any man in his way to the QB. He has two defensive player of the year awards, 198 sacks (second all time), and a super bowl ring. He was huge in that super bowl championship; as he was in Drew Bledsoe’s face the entire game. Most of his stat stuffing years were in Philadelphia with the Eagles. From 1985 to 1993 he only had one season with less than 13 sacks, and even then he had 11. He was arguably the biggest free agent signed out of all of the years of the 1990s when he went to the Packers. Think about this. Reggie White had 198 sacks in a 15 year career which is second all-time. Kevin Greene in a 14 year career, who is 3rd on on the career sacks list, has 160 total sacks. That’s 30 more sacks White has over the guy one spot below him in career sacks. I want you to try and name anyone better because I sure can’t.

Top 10 Tight Ends of All-Time

2015/01/img_1519.jpg

10. Ozzie Newsome

Ozzie is one of the greatest Brown’s players ever. He held the team record for receiving yards in a game with 191 which stood for 29 years up until Josh Gordon broke it. He has over 7,000 yards, 47 touchdowns, and 662 receptions. There are other options to this spot but I decided to go with Ozzie because of his toughness and the dominance he would show when the moment called for it.

2015/01/img_1521.jpg

9. Dave Casper

He started off very slow only bringing in 9 receptions in his first 2 seasons. However, he started producing heavily after those seasons. In a time that the games were battled in the trenches, Casper hauled in 52 touchdowns during his career. Casper was also involved in some miraculous moments. Telling the details of each one would be an article all of its own so I highly suggest you google Dave Casper and fill yourself in with all he’s done.

2015/01/img_1520.jpg

8. Mike Ditka

Known mainly for his coaching career leading one of the best defenses of all time in the 85′ Chicago Bears and as an analyst on ESPN. Best believe he was one of the best football players to ever step on the field. His numbers aren’t just ridiculous but he was a very good blocker as well which sadly can’t be shown in the stat sheet. In his first year his presence was felt by winning rookie of the year, scoring 12 touchdowns, and having 58 receptions. Alongside Mackey, Ditka helped revolutionize the position.

2015/01/img_1518.jpg

7. Jason Witten

Witten will go down as one of the greatest Cowboys of all time and could be argued that he should be higher up on this list. He broke his jaw early in his career and still continued to play. From that point onward was when the legacy started. He is the only Cowboys TE to date to record 1,000 yards in a season. He’s a leader, and the locker room in Dallas falls in line behind him. He still has the potential to go a few pegs higher on this list before he’s done.

2015/01/img_1517.jpg

6. Shannon Sharpe

1996-2000 were some very good years for Sharpe. He already had some good years before then but was able to really shine in that 4 year span. In that time, he had 306 catches, 3,971 yards, and 28 TDs. The greatest moment that Sharpe ever had was his 96 yard TD in the AFC Title game which still stands as the longest TD in playoff history. You may hear him brag about himself a lot, but it is well earned by coming in as a 7th round pick and ending his career as a top 5 tight end in touchdowns.

2015/01/img_1516.jpg

5. John Mackey

Mackey was the main weapon for the great Johnny Unitas. They have awards named after him as he was the first great tight end to ever play. He was a deep threat. In his first four seasons, he averaged 18 yards a reception. There are few who believe he was the best ever as his numbers can’t translate when comparing his era to the tight ends who have played in the last 20 years. We can all thank him though for what the tight end position has become.

2015/01/img_1522.jpg

4. Rob Gronkowski

Gronk is just an absolute monster. In my opinion, the best receiving option in the game today. He’s had many issues staying healthy but his numbers speak for themselves. The man has only played 5 years and has more touchdowns than almost everyone on this list who have played over 10 seasons. In 2011, he had the best statistical year ever for a tight end posting 1,327 yards, 90 receptions, and 17 touchdowns. The yards and touchdowns are the most ever by a tight end in a season. I believe by the time his career is over he will go down as the greatest ever; leaving a huge gap between himself and the man I have at number one.

2015/01/img_1515.jpg

3. Antonio Gates

Another guy who played basketball, Gates was undrafted out of Kent State. Damn there were so many people who wish they found this diamond in the rough. Gates redefined the tight end position. Nobody had ever seen a player at this position with that type of power and speed. He is one of only two tight ends to have four seasons with at least 10 touchdowns. Another guy I really wish could get a ring but sadly it is just out of his hands. As soon as I thought Father Time finally hit him, Gates blew up this past year with 12 touchdowns. He has a very good chance of leading all tight ends in touchdowns if he plays another two years.

2015/01/img_1513.jpg

2. Kellen Winslow

Kellen Winslow was a huge weapon for Dan Fouts and the Chargers offense. Winslow had the most receiving yards by a tight end ever in the 1980 season when he recorded 1,290 yards. That record stood for 30 years until Rob Gronkowski broke it in 2011. In 1981, Winslow tied a record of 5 receiving touchdowns in a single game. All of those accomplishments are great but none of those compare to his game against the Dolphins in the 81′ playoffs. He had what I describe as the best individual performance ever in a playoff game. He caught 13 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown. He also blocked what could have been the game winning field goal for the Dolphins to send the game into overtime. To make the game even more memorable, Winslow was treated for a pinched nerve in his shoulder, dehydration, severe cramps, bruised ribs, and received three stitches to his bottom lip. The picture above is of his teammates helping him off the field.

2015/01/img_1514.jpg

1. Tony Gonzalez

Without a doubt the greatest tight end of all time. His numbers are up there with top 5 wide receivers. He is 2nd all time in receptions, 5th all time in receiving yards, and 6th in receiving touchdowns. Coming into Kansas City, Gonzalez worked with a lot of below average guys. He wasn’t able to win a playoff game until his 16th year in the league when he finally was with a good team. It’s sad that he couldn’t add a ring to his ridiculous resume, but regardless Tony Gonzalez will always be remembered as an all time great.

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

duosea

(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

downloaddownload (1)

(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

download (2)images

(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

image

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.
image

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.
image

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.
image

NFL: Contender Or Pretender (AFC)

AFC

AFC:

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

So here we go with the AFC Conference

(NFC Conference Coming Soon)

Den

Denver Broncos

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

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

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

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

SD

San Diego Chargers

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

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

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

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

Cincy

Cincinnati Bengals

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

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

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

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

Pats

New England Patriots

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

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

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

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

Ravs

Baltimore Ravens

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

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

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

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

luck

Indianapolis Colts

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

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

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

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

hou

Houston Texans

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

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

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

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

AFC Team That Could Rise:

Hornback: browns

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

Saka:

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

Allen:

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

Fort: KC

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

Follow Us On Twitter:

@Fortonsportsinc

@RyanDFort

@Rmon9

@DeShawnHornback

@OmoladeTheGreat

NFL Season Preview By Divisions

US                                

AFC

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

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

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

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

NFC

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

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

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

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