Category Archives: Patriots

NFL Divisional Playoffs: Chiefs vs Patriots (Preview)

nfl-divisional-playoffs-kansas-city-chiefs-vs-new-england-patriots

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

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

 

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

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

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

Kansas City is the real deal.

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

The four teams that beat the New England Patriots were:

The Denver Broncos

The Philadelphia Eagles

The New York Jets

The Miami Dolphins

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

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

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

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

PREDICTION: KCCC.png win 31-20

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

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

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

My Game of the Week

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

 

 

 

 

A Look at the MVP Race So Far

There has been a huge debate over the NFL MVP this season. You have the enigmatic Cam Newton, Carson Palmer on the still underrated Cardinals, the turnaround of Andy Dalton, and of course who many still believe to be the consensus MVP Tom Brady. We’re going to breakdown every candidate’s case this year and I will give my opinion at the end of it.

  Cam Newton:

Cam Newton has taken a step forward this year and it is to be noted most definitely. This year the Carolina Panthers are 10-0, and look like they are ready for a deep playoff run this coming postseason. Cam Newton is the face of the franchise and is making waves throughout NFL fans and social media, but let’s take a step back and look at this from the outside and wipe away the hype and media driven biases.

Cam Newton’s game log for this year

@ JAX 58% Com 175 yards 71.3PRat 1 TD 1 INT 35 rushing yards

VS HOU 49% Com 195 yards 71.3PRat 2 TD 1 INT 76 rushing yards 1 rushing TD

VS NOR 65% Com 315 yards 119.7PRat 2 TD 0 INT 33 rushing yards 1 rushing TD

@ TAM 50% Com 124 yards 97.5PRat 2 TD 0 INT 51 rushing yards

@ SEA 56% Com 269 yards 65.6PRat 1 TD 2 INT 30 rushing yards 1 rushing TD

VS PHI 58% Com 197 yards 59.2PRat 1 TD 3 INT 20 rushing yards 1 rushing TD

VS IND 46% Com 248 yards 76.8PRat 2 TD 1 INT 41 rushing yards

VS GNB 50% Com 297 yards 104.4PRat 3 TD 1 INT 57 rushing yards 1 rushing TD

@ TEN 81% Com 217 yards 114.3PRat 1 TD 0 INT 23 rushing yards 1 rushing TD

VS WAS 62% Com 246 yards 123.3PRat 5 TD 0 INT 16 rushing yards

Cam Newton these past 3 weeks has made a huge leap in the debate as he did own those games, and against New Orleans shined but otherwise has been average at best. Against Indiana, Philadelphia, and Houston in particular were bad games that would be criticized harshly if the team was not able to pull out the win. Many see the 10-0 record but do not look at the individual enough. Cam Newton has had 4 games that he played outstanding in, 3 games that he was horrible in, and 3 games he was average at best. Many Cam supporters will point to his WRs being below par and that is without a doubt something that should be noted. There are not many teams who will win with Ted Ginn as their 2nd option, but the team has gotten through without a single scratch. How is that? What exactly is the reason for the team’s success?

This season Carolina is 2nd in the league in yards allowed per play, 6th in total yards, and tied for 5th in points allowed per game allowing only 19.1 per game. The defense has not allowed a score off a single Cam Newton turnover. They have arguably the defensive player of the year on their defense Josh Norman and Luke Keuchley who by most is considered the best inside linebacker in the league. Where does Cam rank amongst his competition? Cam is 26th in passing yards per game, Tied for 6th in passing TDs, 17th in passer rating, and 28th in completion. Many will call foul on the completion percentage and point to his receiver core and say it is all on them because of how much they drop the ball, yet Carolina is 7th in dropped passes and 5 of the 6 QBs for the teams with more dropped passes have higher completion percentages than Cam. Cam has been a leader on and off the field for his team and I commend him for his maturation into a true leader worthy of being the face of a franchise.

 

 Tom Brady

Brady is having a historic season that seems eerily similar to his 07 historic season and has many talking about the possibility of the Patriots making another run at the undefeated season. Many were worried about the departure of many key pieces in the secondary effecting this team’s chances, but Brady has not only pulled them through but has thoroughly dominated the competition. Many have claimed that this is his race to lose but let’s look at things a little deeper.

Tom Brady game log

VS PIT 78% Com 143.7PRat 288 yards 4 TD 0 INT

@ BUF 64% Com 105.6PRat 466 yards 3 TD 0 INT

VS JAX 79% Com 118.1PRat 358 yards 2 TD 0 INT

@ DAL 74% Com 130.9PRat 275 yards 2 TD 0 INT 1 rushing TD

@ IND 62% Com 104.8PRat 312 yards 3 TD 1 INT

VS NYJ 63% Com 94.3PRat 355 yards 2 TD 0 INT 15 rushing yards 1 rushing TD

VS MIA 68% Com 133.2PRat 356 yards 4TD 0 INT

VS WAS 67% Com 96.0PRat 299 yards 2 TD 1 INT

@ NYG 62% Com 92.8PRat 334 yards 2 TD 1INT

So far this year Brady has had tremendous games all year long having 8 terrific games and 2 average ones. He has not missed a beat all year long never even having a 1:1 TD:INT ratio in a single game. His team is putting up the most points per game in the league and he seems to be on a mission after the deflategate debacle that went on all off-season long. Brady this year ranks 1st in yards per game, 2nd in passing TDs, 1st in passer rating, and 5th in completion percentage. Tom Brady this year has 24 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions, being extremely efficient and having this offense firing on all cylinders. I did not even mention that one of the teams that had more drops than the Panthers was in fact the Patriots who of course have powered through that and Brady still has completed 68% of his throws.

 

 Andy Dalton

Andy Dalton has completetly floored many of us playing at an elite level worthy of being called a top 5 quarterback in the NFL. It definetly is not where most of us saw him going at the beginning of the season. He has gotten a bad reputation for shrinking in the big moments, and while that may continue to be the case, the MVP is a regular season award that Andy Dalton has firmly put himself into the race for.

Andy Dalton’s game log

@ OAK 74% Com 115.9PRat 269 yard 2 TD 0 INT

VS SD 62% Com 126.1PRat 214 yards 3 TD 0 INT

@ BAL 63% Com 122.3PRat 283 yards 3 TD 1 INT 1 rushing TD

VS KC 71% Com 127.1PRat 321 yards 1 TD 0 INT

VS SEA 68% Com 95.9PRat 331 yards 2 TD 1 INT 1 rushing TD

@ BUF 67% Com 118.6PRat 243 yards 3 TD 0 INT

@ PIT 61% Com 64.7PRat 231 yards 1 TD 2 INT

VS CLE 78% Com 139.8PRat 234 yards 3 TD 0 INT

VS HOU 58% Com 61.0PRat 197 yards 0 TD 1 INT 31 rushing yards

@ ARI 56% Com 99.8PRat 315 yards 2 TD 0 INT 34 rushing yards

Andy Dalton looking at his games one by one you get a better look at how his overall season has gone. He has had 2 horrific games and has 1 average game and 7 terrific games that have been worthy of MVP canadicay. He got away with a bad game in Pittsburgh that became a defensive game and just got stomped by a less than stellar Houston team. Andy Dalton this year is ranked 8th in yards per game, 4th in passer rating, 6th in passing touchdowns, and 10th in completion percentage. While things can change it looks like Dalton will not reach double digits in interceptions and since coming into the league he has always had at least 13 a year, getting as high as 20 one year. Dalton has put up the tremendous individual performances and has his team high in the standings sitting with an 8-2 record which can be deemed worthy of being an MVP candiate. Long term it is hard for me to believe in the Bengals success and that has more to do with Marvin Lewis than anything else, because from what we have seen this year leads me to believe Dalton will be in the conversation for top 5 quarterback in the league for many years to come.

 

 Carson Palmer

Carson struggled to stay on the field last year and the Cardinals limped into the playoffs after the strong start Carson gave them. Right now he has his team at an 8-2 record in prime position for the 2nd seed in the playoffs and the best offense in the NFL.

Carson’s game log

VS NOR 59% Com 122.8PRat 307 yards 3 TD 0 INT 14 rushing yards

@ CHI 71% Com 115.5PRat 185 yards 4 TD 1 INT

VS SF  63% Com 102.5PRat 311 yards 2 TD 1 INT

VS STL 63% Com 84.7PRat 352 yards 1 TD 1 INT

@ DET 79% 154.2PRat 161 yards 3 TD 0 INT

@ PIT 64% Com 83.7PRat 421 yards 1 TD 2 INT

VS BAL 69% Com 122.1PRat 275 yards 2 TD 0 INT

@ CLE 61% 117.7PRat 374 yards 4 TD 1 INT

@ SEA 60% 96.1PRat 363 yards 3 TD 1 INT

VS CIN 65% 111.2PRat 317 yards 4 TD 2 INT

Carson has not had a bad game all year long only 2 average games and the rest of his 8 games being astounding. Carson could be arguably having his greatest season ever this year and Arizona absolutely needed it. If you want to see the true impact Carson has on this team you only need to look at last year’s numbers compared to this year. Carson only played 6 games last year and last year’s team missing him 10 games ranked 24th in total offense, 14th in passing offense, 31st in rushing offense, and 24th in total points scored. This season so far with Carson actually able to play all 10 games the Cardinals rank 1st in total offense, 4th in passing offense, 10th in rushing offense, and 2nd in points per game. This year Palmer ranks 5th in passing yards per game, 1st in passing TDs, 2nd in passer rating, and 16th in completion percentage. Carson has this team in the driver’s seat to make some noise deep in the playoffs while being the spearhead of the most deadly offense in the league.

My MVP Rankings and Why They Are Where They Are.

4th Cam Newton

Cam Newton this year has been extremely valuable to a putrid offense but has been saved by top 3 defense this year. He is the only person out of any of these 4 players who has been able to have multiple bad games and get away with it because his team’s defense so far this year has always found a way to come out on top. I am a huge fan of Cam, but to ignore all of that is denying facts. He just has not been on the same level as the other guys here and has been able to get away with bad performances and still somehow be on everyone’s top 2 MVP list. So far this year Cam has 7 games throwing under 60%, 2 games completing less than 50%, 2 games with more INTs than TDs, and has only eclipsed 300 total yards once this year.

3rd Andy Dalton

Andy Dalton has completely floored me with his play this year and instead of being the turnover machine he has been his whole career somehow has changed into this efficient machine for his team. He had 2 awful games one of which he got away with due to the state of the Steelers at the time. While I do see a huge gap between him and Newton and the man I have above him, he does deserve 3rd place considerations by everyone.

2nd Carson Palmer

Carson not only has shown us how important he is to his team but is having arguably the best season of his career. Last year it was painful to the Cardinals play and this year it has become a blast. This team is winning games convincingly and Carson is the reason for it as we have seen all year long. Who would have thought 3 years ago that a 36 year old Carson Palmer had a chance at being in an MVP race much less 2nd? If the man above him can falter even a little bit Carson has a chance at winning it.

1st Tom Brady

Brady has just been on another level this year and it looks like there is nobody who will stop him from reaching the Super Bowl again. He’s putting up historic numbers, playing extremely efficient, and doing this while having a patchwork offensive line. Even though there has to be a 2nd place I do not have any doubt that if the season ended today Brady would receive 100% of the first place votes.

Feel free to sound off in the comments of your own opinions. 

NFL Preview: Awards, Hype, Prediction Edition

nfl-2015-tickets

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

Division Winners

Who wins the each NFC Division (include record):

Deshawn Hornback {@DeeSportsTalk}:

Packers (11-5)

Cowboys (10-6)

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

Seahawks (13-3)

R’Mon Allen {@RmonAllen}:

Packers 9-7

Eagles 10-6

Falcons 7-9

Seahawks 12-4

Ryan Fort {@RyanDFort}:

Packers (10-6)

Cowboys (13-3)

Saints (11-5)

Seahawks (12-4)

Hashim Ashimi {no Twitter}:

Packers (10-6)

Cowboys (12-4)

Saints (9-7)

Seahawks (12-4)

Tyler Carter {@AyeMrCarter24}:

Packers (12-4)

Cowboys (11-5)

Panthers (8-8)

Seahawks (13-3)

Jonathan Ayala {@JonathanAyalaa_}:

Packers (12-4)

Cowboys (12-4)

Panthers (9-7)

Seahawks (11-5)

Jabbari Booth {@jabbari_b}:

Packers (9-7)

Cowboys (10-6)

Panthers (8-8)

Cardinals (12-4)

Who wins each AFC Division (include record):

Hornback:

Bengals (11-5)

Patriots (11-5)

Colts (13-3)

Broncos (12-4)

Allen:

Steelers (11-5)

Patriots (12-4)

Colts (13-3)

Broncos (11-5)

Fort:

Steelers (10-6)

Patriots (11-5)

Colts (13-3)

Chiefs (12-4)

Ashimi:

Steelers (11-5)

Patriots (12-4)

Colts (12-4)

Chiefs (12-4)

Carter:

Ravens (10-6)

Patriots (12-4)

Colts (13-3)

Broncos (11-5)

Ayala:

Steelers (10-6)

Patriots (11-5)

Colts (10-6)

Chiefs (10-6)

Booth:

Steelers (11-5)

Patriots (11-5)

Colts (10-6)

Broncos (10-6)

Playoff Teams Prediction (Include Seeding)

les-playoffs-nfc

Which NFC teams will be Playoff bound:

Hornback:

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

Allen:

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

Fort:

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

Ashimi:

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

Carter:

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

Ayala:

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

Booth:

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

les-playoffs-afc

Which AFC teams will be Playoff bound:

Hornback:

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

Allen:

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

Fort:

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

Ashimi:

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

Carter:

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

Ayala:

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

Booth:

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

Statistical Predictions:

Who will lead the league in Takeaways:

(Majority)

Hornback: Philadelphia Eagles

Allen: Seattle Seahawks

Fort: New York Jets

Ashimi: Miami Dolphins

Carter: Seattle Seahawks

Ayala: Seattle Seahawks

Booth: Miami Dolphins

Fantasy-Football-Defense-Sleepers

Which teams will be Top 5 Defensively:

Hornback:

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

Allen:

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

Fort:

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

Ashimi:

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

Carter:

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

Ayala:

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

Booth:

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

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The Top 5 Scoring Teams will be:

Hornback:

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

Allen:

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

Fort:

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

Ashimi:

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

Carter:

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

Ayala:

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

Booth:

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

The League leader in Passing Yards will be:

(Majority)andrew-luck

Hornback: Matt Ryan

Allen: Andrew Luck

Fort: Matthew Stafford

Ashimi: Drew Brees

Carter: Andrew Luck

Ayala: Andrew Luck

Booth: Ben Roethlisberger

The League leader in Passing TDs will be:

(Majority): Same As Above

Hornback: Andrew Luck

Allen: Andrew Luck

Fort: Andrew Luck

Ashimi: Andrew Luck

Carter: Aaron Rodgers

Ayala: Andrew Luck

Booth: Tony Romo

o-NFL-RUNNING-BACKS-facebook

Who will be the leading Rusher:

Hornback: Adrian Peterson

Allen: Adrian Peterson

Fort: Jamaal Charles or LeSean McCoy

Ashimi: Le’Veon Bell

Carter: Le’Veon Bell

Ayala: Adrian Peterson

Booth: Demarco Murray

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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!

AFC East Preview

 4.   New York Jets

I actually believe this team is moving in the right direction. They got Revis and Cromartie back which was huge for their team because of their veteran leadership, and neither one seems to be anywhere near of being out their prime. I believe in Rex Ryan, but I also believe in the need for a new voice in a locker room. Todd Bowles could be that guy. Problem is that I really really really don’t believe in any QB in the Jets locker room. Hell I don’t believe in anyone on that offense now that I think of it. They did very well this season with the draft and offseason additions, but as far as this season goes; I don’t believe in this team this year. Their schedule is nothing incredibly hard or anything, but this team is just not one to be scared of. Do I believe in the future of the Jets? Yes. Do I believe in them this year to win 5 games? No. I have the Jets going 4-12 being in last place of the AFC division.

  1. Buffalo Bills

Like I said in the last one, I believe in Rex Ryan. Even though I don’t find this to be the most ideal spot for him to go, nonetheless, I see the Bills at least staying in the same place if  not better next year. Their defense was stout last year which should continue with Rex; only issue is they lost Kyle Orton who became their savior on offense. This draft was decent for them, but of course the big splash was the trade for McCoy. The Bills already had a strong split back system and now it just got better with the accommodation of LeSean McCoy. McCoy, even with Fred, there is going to have to take a heavy load of the offense for the Bills and that worries me because he’s never been the most durable guy. McCoy has already had some issues with the Bills. I have the Bills going 7-9 placing 3rd in the division.

  1. Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are the most intriguing team in this division. I was close to saying they would win the division, but I’ll get into that further down. The Dolphins made the biggest splash this offseason landing Suh. Suh brings an entirely different element to this defense. Tannehill got a new contract which many are sceptical about and have the right to be. I’m huge on guys earning their pay before they get it, but everyone seems to be throwing that idea out of the window, however I do believe Tannehill will earn his pay. During the draft the Dolphins were able to draft their needs and did not really reach on anyone until the 5th round. The Dolphins are the underdog team this year. They’re so strong in so many areas. Only thing I’m really worried about is the head coach situation; who will be on the hot seat if this team doesn’t meet the expectations of the locals. I have the Dolphins going 10-6, second in the division and taking one of the wildcard spots.

  1. New England Patriots

I can’t take this division away from the Patriots regardless of the many losses this offseason. They lost their elite secondary with Brandon Browner going to the Saints and Darrelle Revis going back to the Jets. Their draft was okay, but I did not feel like they addressed their needs. However, tt is hard to argue with the results that have been produced from this organization. I will continue to give out what is owed to the Patriots, which is respect to arguably the greatest QB ever and greatest coach ever. This pick is solely based off of the fact nobody has been able to take the division from them in a long time. The first 4 games will hurt without Brady but somehow they went an entire season without him before and went 11-5. The schedule is nothing too rough so I see the Patriots once again winning the division, but not getting a first round bye this year.

Tom Brady: The Modern Day GOAT

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This past Super Bowl game highlighted the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots. Tom Brady versus “The Legion of Boom”. This game was a legacy game for Brady; for all of those that doubted him and for all of those who believed him to be a cheater after the recent AFC Championship Game.

With the entire nation watching, Brady struggled early on in the first half but by the 4th quarter he had turned it on by picking apart the #1 defense of the past 3 years. With an amazing drive down the field that ended with a touchdown to Julian Edleman; the Patriots had taken a 4 point lead. The Seahawks had the ball with roughly two minutes remaining.

I honestly can’t remember that much of the drive as I try to recollect what happened. I know I see Russell Wilson chunk the ball down the right sideline, trying to test Malcolm Butler down the field and make something happen. Then with Malcolm Butler playing tremendous defense, somehow someway Jermaine Kearse hits the ground, kicks the ball to himself, then it bounces off of both hands and then makes the catch. I officially believed the game was over and that the football gods would never allow Brady that final ring.

The next play Marshawn Lynch gets an easy run all the way to the goal line and it seemed to all be over. Then some kid named Malcolm Butler, who just let potentially the game winning catch happen on his watch, jumps the slant route at the goal line and the rest is history.

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The question now is, who is the greatest quarterback to ever play?

In most NFL fans’ eyes the top two are Joe Montana and Tom Brady. If you’ve read my article ranking the top 15 QBs of all time, I had Joe Montana at #1. I also claimed that if Brady could get the 4th ring that had eluded him for so long, that the debate for greatest of all time could become legitimate.

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I would like to start off saying I do not care about somebody being undefeated in any championship format. Montana being 4 for 4 or Brady being 4 for 6 does not matter to me at all. If anything, I find it more impressive that Brady was able to make many deep playoff runs. Actually lets start off with this.

Montana played 15 years and Brady up to this point has played in the NFL also for 15 years. (Even though technically Brady wasn’t given a chance as a starter until his second season.) Montana has 4 one and done’s. Which means he went to the playoffs four times without winning a single game.

In those 4 games, Montana had 817 yards (roughly 204 yards a game), 2 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. The reason I bring up these stats is to show that these games lost can be put on Montana’s shoulders by not throwing a single touchdown in 3 of the 4 games.

Brady has 2 one and done’s. In those two games he threw for 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Again blame can be put on the shoulders of the quarterback in this situation because you’re not helping your team if your TD:INT is 1:1.

Joe Montana in 1989 cultivated the greatest post season run that has only been matched by one player since. In that ’89 run, Montana threw 78% for 11 touchdowns and ZERO interceptions. The most touchdowns in a post season for Brady happen in this past playoffs in which he threw 10 touchdowns to 4 interceptions. Montana is 16-7 in the playoffs compared to Brady’s 21-8.

Postseason Edge: Very slightly Brady

Now to the regular season comparisons. Montana has six 10+ win seasons. Brady has double the amount with twelve 10+ win seasons. The one year Brady didn’t have 10 wins, he went 9-7. Brady brought together one of the greatest offenses of all time in 2007 when he threw for 50 touchdowns with 8 interceptions, doing so with Randy Moss and Wes Welker.

Montana had one season with 30+ touchdowns compared to Brady’s five 30+ touchdown seasons. It’s good to note that in Montana’s sole 30+ touchdown season with 31 total TD’s; Jerry Rice had 22 touchdowns that season making up for 70% of Montana’s touchdowns that season, and Rice consistently made up for about 50% of Montana’s touchdowns every year he was there.

Brady’s best year with 50 touchdowns, Randy Moss accumulated 23 touchdowns making up only 46% of his touchdowns. Brady led a team to only the 2nd ever perfect record in a regular season going 16-0.

Regular Season Edge:Brady

Another thing to note about each quarterback. Brady’s team went 11-5 with him out for an entire season when Brady went out in the very first game of the season. Montana went down and was replaced with young prospect Steve Young who went on to win a Super Bowl without Montana being in the picture. In this argument though I have to give it to Montana because the 49ers got really lucky finding Steve Young who could be argued as the most efficient quarterback ever.

Now the surrounding cast. Montana had Jerry Rice, who by many is seen as the greatest football player to ever play, John Taylor who was a legitimate threat opposite of Rice, and Roger Craig who was a threat from running and receiving recording over 1,100 yards from scrimmage in 7 straight seasons. Brady has had Julian Edleman, who was huge in this past Super Bowl and was named to the all pro team, Randy Moss who I believe and many others believe to be the second greatest receiver ever, Wes Welker who I do believe was good but I can’t help the fact that he became a 3rd or 4th option when he went to Denver, and Gronkowski who I believe if he can stay away from injuries, will go down as the greatest tight end of all time.

All of the weapons I named for Brady came after his initial 3 rings. Montana didn’t have most of the weapons I listed for his first 2 rings but also had arguably the greatest defensive player to fall back on with Ronnie Lott and an overall loaded defense. Not to say that Brady didn’t have his own defense to fall back on, as they were the firepower of those first 3 championships. Both quarterbacks had great coaches and are even in that aspect.

One of the biggest arguments to look at when comparing the two is the fact that there was no salary cap back then. The San Francisco 49ers, the Dallas Cowboys, and a few others were loaded with money to pay guys.

Throughout Brady’s whole career a salary cap has been put in place. Brady makes it easier on himself a bit by constantly taking pay cuts to sign other guys, but the Patriots are not able to go out and get the top free agent every off-season. All around Montana just had a lot more help. Brady hasn’t had any of his weapons besides Gronk who has been riddled with injuries most of his career, and Welker for more than 3 years.
Edge: Brady

In conclusion I see the arguments both ways. If you say anything different than me, I’m not going to say you’re wrong; I’ll just give the facts as I see them, but Brady has a slight edge in every aspect. I can’t shake the fact that the one and only time he had a top 10 receiver he almost went 19-0 and threw for 50 touchdowns.

He could have 6 rings right now if not for Mario Manningham making one crazy catch, and Eli throwing into double coverage after the pocket broke down to some guy named David Tyree who caught the ball on his helmet making arguably the greatest catch of all time.

You can argue that Montana in his Super Bowl appearances never let the game be close enough for that to happen, but he also didn’t face the teams Brady did. Brady beat the “Greatest Show on Turf”; which is still recognized as the BEST offense of all time; the Eagles lead by Donavan McNabb, Terrell Owens, and Andy Reid; plus this last Super Bowl where Brady beat the Legion of Boom who beat down statistically the greatest offense ever two Super Bowls ago 43-8.

Brady has done as much if not more depending on how you look at it, with less than Montana had. The greatest quarterback to ever live is out on the field and is looking to extend that legacy even further. Tom Brady is the greatest of all time.

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Twitter: @Deshawnhornback
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Top 10 Tight Ends of All-Time

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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(4) Carolina Panthers vs (1) Seattle Seahawks

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

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

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

Sunday 1:05 PM ET

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

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

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

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

Sunday 4:40 PM ET

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(4) Indianapolis Colts vs (2) Denver Broncos

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

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

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

2015 Wildcard Preview and Prediction

After months and weeks of anticipation we’ve finally arrived to the playoffs where we have a clear cut view on who the 12 teams competing for the Superbowl are.

Within those 12 teams you have the:

(1) 12-4 NE Patriots

(2) 12-4 DEN Broncos

(3) 11-5 PIT Steelers

(4) 11-5 IND Colts

(5) 10-5-1 CIN Bengals

(6) 10-6 BAL Ravens representing the AFC

and the

(1) 12-4 SEA Seahawks

(2) 12-4 GB Packers

(3) 12-4 DAL Cowboys

(4) 7-8-1 CAR Panthers

(5) 11-5 ARI Cardinals

(6) 11-5 DET Lions representing the NFC.

Seattle, New England, Denver and Green Bay all get the week off (Top 2 teams in each conference) so that leaves us with eight teams playing this weekend.

Saturday 4:20 PM ET

Cards  cam

(5) Arizona Cardinals vs (4) Carolina Panthers 

Throughout the season both teams suffered a ton of injuries. Carolina’s injury woe wasn’t as severe as the Cardinals though. Arizona lost key players on the defensive line, in the secondary and in the line-backing core. On the offensive side of the ball the Cards lost starting quarterback Carson Palmer and starting running-back Andre Ellington. Hall of Fame bound receiver Larry Fitzgerald hasn’t been as productive either because of the injuries he’s been battling. Because of the offensive injuries Arizona has been having a tough time generating points.

This season Carolina has been in a funk just like it’s fellow NFC South counterparts. After having a stellar year last season Cam Newton has failed to deliver the same type of success due to the lack of weapons he has in his current arsenal. Despite injuries (distractions Hardy) to the defense and Cam having a somewhat down year the Panthers still managed to win their awful division. Rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin has shown that he can be a solid weapon and running back Johnathan Stewart has returned to a solid form, for now. They also have tight-end Greg Olsen playing at a high level.

Coming into this game the Cards have lost 4 of their last 6 games and managed to score over 17pts one time. They are on their 3rd-string quarterback and rank 13th in stopping the run and 29th in defending the pass. The Panthers are rolling right now having gone 4-0 in December. They rank 7th in rushing the football and 12th in passing. With Arizona pretty much being a team that relies on the defense to score Carolina should be able to dictate the flow of the game as long as Cam and co. don’t turn it over. The Panthers should win 16-9 with Cam getting playoff win #1.

Saturday 8:15 PM ET

ravens steelas

(6) Baltimore Ravens vs (3) Pittsburgh Steelers

The Ravens and Steelers both faced questions going into the season. The Steelers dealt with questions surrounding the defense as well as their running game. The Ravens had to deal with the never ending, traumatizing Ray Rice debacle. With Rice gone there was a void that needed to be filled in order for Baltimore to take the next step. Journeyman running-back, Justin Forsett, stepped into the starting role and complemented Joe Flacco to near perfection. With the addition of Steve Smith SR. and the arrival of Justin Forsett the Ravens offensive dynamic changed.

The Steelers at the beginning of the season were a model of inconsistency. Midway through the season that started to change. Led by the best receiver in football, Antonio Brown and the 2nd best running-back in Le’Veon Bell along with Ben Rothlisberger the Pittsburgh Steelers became a fun, yet rather scary team to watch. They would dominate on the ground as well as kill teams in the air. They went undefeated in December and are on a roll.

Heading into this match-up these division rivals split the season series with the home team winning each game. The Steelers are 4-1 since their Bye while the Ravens are 4-2. In this specific game the Steelers will be without Bell who was the 2nd leading rusher and will also have a limited Troy Polamalu in the secondary. Baltimore on the other hand is healthier and they’ll be getting star defensive tackle Haloti Ngata back to help man the middle. With Bell being out the onus falls on the shoulders of Big Ben. The Steerlers are 2nd in passing while the Ravens are 23rd in passing yards allowed. Big Ben could very well win this game but being one-dimensional could end up costing them. The Steelers will hand Joe Flacco his 1st Wilcard loss. Big Ben is is rolling right now and has more than enough offensive weapons in the passing game to beat Baltimore. Steelers win 34-27

Sunday 1:05 PM ET

Bengals colts trip

(5) Cincinnati Bengals vs (4) Indianapolis Colts

These were two teams that people thought would take the next step, especially the Colts. Andrew Luck was basically enshrined into the Hall Of The Fame without doing anything. Nevertheless the Colts won their porous division with little to no competition. En route to going 11-5 they got dominated by the likes of Pittsburgh, Dallas, Denver and New England. They went 4-5 against teams that are .500 and 2-4 against playoff teams. No resemblance of a running game and having only one stud receiver (TY Hilton) hurts them.

The Bengals started off the season on FIRE. After a few weeks they resembled a Superbowl team but quickly faltered after their Bye week. As of late they’ve been battling injuries that have plagued A.J. Green making the offense somewhat stagnant. Depending on the day Cincy can kill you with an aerial attack led by the likes Andy Dalton with Mouhammed Sanu and Green at his helm. Or they could gash you up on the ground with Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard. You just never know with them.

Going into Sunday’s game the Colts have won 5 of their last 6. They are the best passing team in football but are top 3 when it comes to turning the football over (Andrew Luck). The Bengals have been solid as of late but got shut out earlier in the year by the Colts, losing 27-0. This game will more than likely not feature AJ Green. Dalton doesn’t have a playoff win nor does head coach Marvin Lewis. Unless Cincy runs the ball over 40 times, AJ Green suits up or TY Hilton isn’t 100% I don’t see the Bengals misfortunes coming to an end. Colts win 45-13

Sunday 4:40 PM ET

lions Triplets

(6) Detroit Lions vs (3) Dallas Cowboys

Often sought out as the most talented teams in the NFC, the Lions and Cowboys always seemed to disappoint until this year. Going into the season many predicted this would be Lion’s quarterback Mathew Stafford’s break out year. They changed coaches and gave Stafford more help by bringing in Ex-Seahawks wide receiver, Golden Tate, to complement Megatron. The Lion’s exceeded a few expectations because of how they managed to win games without Megatron. Golden Tate had a career year and the Lion’s defense was arguably the best in the league.

The Cowboys have exceeded everyone’s expectations excluding their own. They’ve discovered a new identity as I stated here (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/12/23/the-new-dallas-cowboys/) and have improved defensively. They boast arguably the best quarterback of the season in one Tony Romo, the leading rusher in football, Demarco Murray and wide-receiver touchdown leader Dez Bryant. The Cowboys also own the best offensive line in football. The game is won in the trenches and the Cowboys dominate in that aspect.

Ever since the home loss to Philly, the Cowboys have been dominant. They’ve scored 40+ points in 3 of their last 4 games (38 in one game) and are rolling on all cylinders. Dallas also went 4-0 in December. Detroit won 4 of their last 5 and have been very stout defensively. Defensive tackles N.Suh (monster) and Nick Fairley should be good to go giving the defense a boost. The Boys are the 2nd best team running the ball while Detroit is #1 in stopping it. Flipping the script, the Lions are 6th when it comes to turning over the ball and the Cowboys are 2nd in forcing turnovers. The Cowboys will win 27-14.  Stafford just isn’t efficient enough to win and is prone to turn it over multiple times resulting in Dallas getting easy scoring opportunities.

Each game this weekend is compelling and should be competitive.

Comment below with who you think will win each game.

Follow on Twitter @RyanDFort & @FortonsportsInc

The NFL’s Most Underrated

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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