Tag Archives: AJ Green

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

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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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AFC North Preview

 

afc north

 

AFC North

A couple of years ago teams never wanted to face this division because this division was known for rough, punch you in the mouth, style of defenses. The teams leading those defenses have become old, star players have retired. Even with that this remains to be one of the most competitive divisions in football.

Cleveland Browns:
Nobody thought coming into this year that they would care about this team at all. But Cleveland as a city is becoming huge for media outlets with a certain NBA player and the most controversial guy in the NFL, Johnny Manziel.

I’m a Manziel guy. I believe he is going to do great thing in this league, but he did not win the starting job over the preseason. And he alone can’t turn a mediocre team into the best team in the nation. The Browns lost a monster receiver in Josh Gordon due to use of marijuana, (If you want an opinion on that another writer is planning on giving you one.) and their starting RB is Ben Tate… They still have Jordan Cameron who I believe will become a ridiculously talented elite TE in the future, but outside of that there is a lot to be desired of this offense.

They grabbed Miles Austin in the offseason who had one good year and as of late seemed to find the perfect time to run horrible routes for the Cowboys so I don’t have much faith in him. It doesn’t matter who the starter is whether it’s Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel, there simply is not enough talent on this offense.

Now the defense will be able to pick up a lot slack from the offense. Joe Haden is a top 5 CB no doubt about it. Most WRs will have a very hard time getting open on this guy. They have a good front 7 as well, but outside of Haden they don’t have another elite guy on that side of the ball. They won’t be able to beat good teams with just their defense. At the end of the year the Cleveland Browns will finish 5-11 regardless of if Manziel takes over at some point.

Baltimore Ravens:
To think that they just won a Super Bowl 2 years ago is crazy. Problem from that is that they’ve lost almost all of their veterans to retirements, trades, or free agency. Then there is the huge controversy surrounding Ray Rice. This team is all out of sorts. There was some crazy stat I saw the other day like 1 out of every 5 players on the Ravens has been arrested. That is beyond outrageous. So distractions are heavy at this point.

Joe Flacco had an average year at best last year, and it does not seem like it’s going to be different if the preseason correlates to anything in the regular season. They have Torrey Smith who will continue to be a deep threat and Dennis Pitta who is a solid TE. The Ravens acquired Steve Smith from the Panthers this past off-season, but he has been on his downward slope for a couple of years now.

On defense Terrell Suggs was and will continue to be a monster on defense, Haloti Ngata is impossible to block and they still have a solid CB Ladarius Webb. That alone though cannot overcome the off field issues and other deficiencies on both sides of the ball. This year the Ravens will end their year 7-9 and 3rd in the division.

Pittsburgh Steelers:
Just barely missing the playoffs last year behind the Chargers, the Steelers will be looking for redemption this year. Last year Antonio Brown was a top 5 WR for receiving yards and receptions. Big Ben and Brown have chemistry and I expect that to continue this year. Le’Veon Bell had injury issues his rookie year so the Steelers made a great pickup for this year picking up former Patriot LeGarrette Blount. The offense will be able to do what they were doing near the end of last season and make plays when they need them.

On the defensive side I’m worried though. It seems like the Steelers are looking for the guy farthest away from the ball to make every single play. Troy Polamalu is getting older and cannot continue to do everything on defense for this team. Consistency will hurt this team again this year and it will be their downfall. I have the Steelers going 8-8 and missing the Playoffs again.

Cincinnati Bengals:
The Bengals made it to the playoffs last year but lost to the San Diego Chargers in the first round. By default they should win this division as they are light years above these other teams in pure talent.

I’m a strong critic of head coach Marvin Lewis as he has coached this team for 10+ years without a SINGLE playoff victory. It has is now beyond ridiculous. I do not understand how this man still has a head coaching job in the NFL, much less the same team for this long.

The players are supremely talented here. Andy Dalton falls under the radar too much because of his lack of holding onto the ball, but his numbers are ridiculous only comparison being Peyton Manning in his first few years in the league. AJ Green is a top 3 WR, not up for debate. Giovani Bernard had a solid rookie year. Marvin Jones had four touchdowns in a SINGLE game. They have a solid TE duo with Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert and a strong line. That was just the offense I gave you.

On defense they have Carlos Dunlap breaking in for sacks, Geno Atkins is right next to Suh as best DT in the league, Leon Hall at corner and I could go on and on. This team is loaded with talent. They have yet to reach their full potential due to a coach that should not have a head coaching job. They will undoubtedly win this division going 11-5 taking the division and making the Playoffs.

afc north game

AFC South Preview: (http://wp.me/p33YLP-iM)

AFC East Preview: (http://wp.me/p33YLP-iw)

AFC West Preview:  (http://wp.me/p33YLP-iB)

De’Shawn Hornback