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:
Green Bay has found their niche offensively.
Aaron Rodgers finally had a game where he was protected.
Both Green Bay RBs were effective.
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: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
(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
(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
(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
(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.
After months and weeks of anticipation we’ve finally arrived to the playoffs where we have a clear cut view on who the 12 teams competing for the Superbowl are.
Within those 12 teams you have the:
(1) 12-4 NE Patriots
(2) 12-4 DEN Broncos
(3) 11-5 PIT Steelers
(4) 11-5 IND Colts
(5) 10-5-1 CIN Bengals
(6) 10-6 BAL Ravens representing the AFC
(1) 12-4 SEA Seahawks
(2) 12-4 GB Packers
(3) 12-4 DAL Cowboys
(4) 7-8-1 CAR Panthers
(5) 11-5 ARI Cardinals
(6) 11-5 DET Lions representing the NFC.
Seattle, New England, Denver and Green Bay all get the week off (Top 2 teams in each conference) so that leaves us with eight teams playing this weekend.
Saturday 4:20 PM ET
(5) Arizona Cardinals vs (4) Carolina Panthers
Throughout the season both teams suffered a ton of injuries. Carolina’s injury woe wasn’t as severe as the Cardinals though. Arizona lost key players on the defensive line, in the secondary and in the line-backing core. On the offensive side of the ball the Cards lost starting quarterback Carson Palmer and starting running-back Andre Ellington. Hall of Fame bound receiver Larry Fitzgerald hasn’t been as productive either because of the injuries he’s been battling. Because of the offensive injuries Arizona has been having a tough time generating points.
This season Carolina has been in a funk just like it’s fellow NFC South counterparts. After having a stellar year last season Cam Newton has failed to deliver the same type of success due to the lack of weapons he has in his current arsenal. Despite injuries (distractions Hardy) to the defense and Cam having a somewhat down year the Panthers still managed to win their awful division. Rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin has shown that he can be a solid weapon and running back Johnathan Stewart has returned to a solid form, for now. They also have tight-end Greg Olsen playing at a high level.
Coming into this game the Cards have lost 4 of their last 6 games and managed to score over 17pts one time. They are on their 3rd-string quarterback and rank 13th in stopping the run and 29th in defending the pass. The Panthers are rolling right now having gone 4-0 in December. They rank 7th in rushing the football and 12th in passing. With Arizona pretty much being a team that relies on the defense to score Carolina should be able to dictate the flow of the game as long as Cam and co. don’t turn it over. The Panthers should win 16-9 with Cam getting playoff win #1.
Saturday 8:15 PM ET
(6) Baltimore Ravens vs (3) Pittsburgh Steelers
The Ravens and Steelers both faced questions going into the season. The Steelers dealt with questions surrounding the defense as well as their running game. The Ravens had to deal with the never ending, traumatizing Ray Rice debacle. With Rice gone there was a void that needed to be filled in order for Baltimore to take the next step. Journeyman running-back, Justin Forsett, stepped into the starting role and complemented Joe Flacco to near perfection. With the addition of Steve Smith SR. and the arrival of Justin Forsett the Ravens offensive dynamic changed.
The Steelers at the beginning of the season were a model of inconsistency. Midway through the season that started to change. Led by the best receiver in football, Antonio Brown and the 2nd best running-back in Le’Veon Bell along with Ben Rothlisberger the Pittsburgh Steelers became a fun, yet rather scary team to watch. They would dominate on the ground as well as kill teams in the air. They went undefeated in December and are on a roll.
Heading into this match-up these division rivals split the season series with the home team winning each game. The Steelers are 4-1 since their Bye while the Ravens are 4-2. In this specific game the Steelers will be without Bell who was the 2nd leading rusher and will also have a limited Troy Polamalu in the secondary. Baltimore on the other hand is healthier and they’ll be getting star defensive tackle Haloti Ngata back to help man the middle. With Bell being out the onus falls on the shoulders of Big Ben. The Steerlers are 2nd in passing while the Ravens are 23rd in passing yards allowed. Big Ben could very well win this game but being one-dimensional could end up costing them. The Steelers will hand Joe Flacco his 1st Wilcard loss. Big Ben is is rolling right now and has more than enough offensive weapons in the passing game to beat Baltimore. Steelers win 34-27
Sunday 1:05 PM ET
(5) Cincinnati Bengals vs (4) Indianapolis Colts
These were two teams that people thought would take the next step, especially the Colts. Andrew Luck was basically enshrined into the Hall Of The Fame without doing anything. Nevertheless the Colts won their porous division with little to no competition. En route to going 11-5 they got dominated by the likes of Pittsburgh, Dallas, Denver and New England. They went 4-5 against teams that are .500 and 2-4 against playoff teams. No resemblance of a running game and having only one stud receiver (TY Hilton) hurts them.
The Bengals started off the season on FIRE. After a few weeks they resembled a Superbowl team but quickly faltered after their Bye week. As of late they’ve been battling injuries that have plagued A.J. Green making the offense somewhat stagnant. Depending on the day Cincy can kill you with an aerial attack led by the likes Andy Dalton with Mouhammed Sanu and Green at his helm. Or they could gash you up on the ground with Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard. You just never know with them.
Going into Sunday’s game the Colts have won 5 of their last 6. They are the best passing team in football but are top 3 when it comes to turning the football over (Andrew Luck). The Bengals have been solid as of late but got shut out earlier in the year by the Colts, losing 27-0. This game will more than likely not feature AJ Green. Dalton doesn’t have a playoff win nor does head coach Marvin Lewis. Unless Cincy runs the ball over 40 times, AJ Green suits up or TY Hilton isn’t 100% I don’t see the Bengals misfortunes coming to an end. Colts win 45-13
Sunday 4:40 PM ET
(6) Detroit Lions vs (3) Dallas Cowboys
Often sought out as the most talented teams in the NFC, the Lions and Cowboys always seemed to disappoint until this year. Going into the season many predicted this would be Lion’s quarterback Mathew Stafford’s break out year. They changed coaches and gave Stafford more help by bringing in Ex-Seahawks wide receiver, Golden Tate, to complement Megatron. The Lion’s exceeded a few expectations because of how they managed to win games without Megatron. Golden Tate had a career year and the Lion’s defense was arguably the best in the league.
The Cowboys have exceeded everyone’s expectations excluding their own. They’ve discovered a new identity as I stated here (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/12/23/the-new-dallas-cowboys/) and have improved defensively. They boast arguably the best quarterback of the season in one Tony Romo, the leading rusher in football, Demarco Murray and wide-receiver touchdown leader Dez Bryant. The Cowboys also own the best offensive line in football. The game is won in the trenches and the Cowboys dominate in that aspect.
Ever since the home loss to Philly, the Cowboys have been dominant. They’ve scored 40+ points in 3 of their last 4 games (38 in one game) and are rolling on all cylinders. Dallas also went 4-0 in December. Detroit won 4 of their last 5 and have been very stout defensively. Defensive tackles N.Suh (monster) and Nick Fairley should be good to go giving the defense a boost. The Boys are the 2nd best team running the ball while Detroit is #1 in stopping it. Flipping the script, the Lions are 6th when it comes to turning over the ball and the Cowboys are 2nd in forcing turnovers. The Cowboys will win 27-14. Stafford just isn’t efficient enough to win and is prone to turn it over multiple times resulting in Dallas getting easy scoring opportunities.
Each game this weekend is compelling and should be competitive.
Comment below with who you think will win each game.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.)
NFC North A division rich with NFL history. Historic moments with each team have been record and talked about as the greatest of all time. Green Bay took the division last year in week 17 in a thriller against Chicago. Are the Packers destined for another division title?
Minnesota Vikings: I want Adrian Peterson to have a chance at a ring, but sadly I just never see that happening. The Vikings drafted Teddy Bridgewater in this years draft and he already looks better than Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder. They have Greg Jennings, Kyle Rudolph and Cordalle Patterson in their receiving core. All solid players but none of them are game changers. The worst thing that happened to the Vikings this season was losing Jared Allen. Even at his old age he was the best player on their putrid defense and now he left to a division rival in the Chicago Bears.
I don’t see anything improving the defense so expect them to be worse this upcoming year. I can’t see this team coming anywhere close to a division title unless Peterson rushes for 2,500yds this year and as much as I would want that to happen it’s more than likely not.
The Vikings will finish the season 5-11 last in the division. Peterson alone will win them some games but it won’t be enough to contend with the other loaded teams in the division.
The Bears have a lot of hype right now. Jay Cutler is considered having a top 10 chance of getting MVP this year. If you listen to anything Brandon Marshall says about Jay Cutler he’ll have you thinking he’s the next Joe Montana. Despite the hype that I feel is way over done the Chicago Bears are in a peculiar situation. As a dynasty this franchise is known for gritty tough defense. This year it’s the opposite with a woeful defense and a prolific offense.
They have the best WR duo in the league with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey. Matt forte is a top 5 RB in this league and Martellus Bennett has been under the radar doing very well for them. They added a huge piece to replace their loss of Julius Peppers by signing Jared Allen a future HOFer. They still have Charles Tillman a very underrated CB in the league. With all of that praise though there’s one problem. Jay Cutler. Cutler shows many similarities to Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo except when he screws up it’s ten times worse because he has some bad wiring in his brain where he can throw 5 picks in a single game putting the team on a downward slope. I have the Bears going 8-8 and placing 3rd in the division missing the Playoffs.
Green Bay Packers: The defending division champions. We learned last year that this team goes as far Aaron Rodgers takes them. They made one of greatest picks in the draft last year taking Alabama RB Eddie Lacy. Eddie Lacy did a good job carrying a load and proving to Mike McCarthy that he can be more than useful to this team. They have the same core on defense which isn’t good but isn’t horrible either. As great as this team is I strongly believe in the team after this and I’m saying the Green Bay Packers will finish 10-6 barely missing the playoffs and 2nd in the division.
Detroit Lions: Matt Stafford has had a weird turn of events in his career. First few years he couldn’t stay healthy to play consistently in games, but when he finally became healthy in 2011 the Lions made the playoffs. Recently though Stafford has actually declined and many critics believe it to be the fault of former head coach Jim Schwartz.
Schwartz has been an awful coach for such a long time and the Lions made the necessary change that was needed by firing and replacing him. With the addition of picking up the best WR from the Seahawks, Golden Tate, Matt Stafford I believe will make use of his raw talent as he once did before and propel this team above expectations. They have undoubtedly the best WR in the game, Calvin Johnson. They have Joquie Bell and Reggie Bush making things happen both rushing and receiving. In the draft this year the Lions picked up a promising young TE in Eric Ebron. They also have the best defensive lineman in Ndamakung Suh. This offense will be lethal with Stafford’s cannon arm leading the charge. I just feel it. I’m not a Lions fan but I believe that over the past 2-3 years this is the most talented team that didn’t make the Playoffs and I think that changes this year. The Lions will be 10-6 winning in a thriller against the Green Bay Packers in week 17 to win the division and make their first Playoff birth since 2011.