Tag Archives: Larry Fitzgerald

NFL Divisional Playoffs: Packers vs Cardinals (Preview)


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

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

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

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

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

The four biggest takeaways from that game is:

  1. Green Bay has found their niche offensively.

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

  3. Both Green Bay RBs were effective.

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

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

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

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

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

Prediction: carrrds wins 43-35

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

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








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

NFC West Preview


nfc west

NFC West

This is without a doubt the strongest division in football having had two different teams reaching the Super Bowl in the past 2 years and another team with an 11-5 record barely missing the Playoffs this past year.

St. Louis Rams:
Well some people had some really high hopes for this year’s Rams team. Then Sam Bradford their starting QB went down with an ACL tear (Article on them here https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/time-to-move-on/) basically taking them out of the conversation completely as their offense wasn’t that prolific before.

They will have depend on their breakout rookie last year in Zac Stacy. Zac Stacy is a very nice player but I do not ever see him being the sole reason the team will win any games. On the defensive side of the ball they have a lethal front 7, but I have questions about their secondary. No team should look to run on them, but I see passing on them to be a very solid strategy as their only decent guy being Cortland Finnegan. I see them giving some teams problems but the Eagles, Cowboys, Broncos and Chargers will all have a field day on this defense. ( All of the teams I just listed are teams on the Rams schedule this year.) I see the Rams finishing with a pedestrian 6-10 record.

Arizona Cardinals:

This team was outstanding last year and just barely missed the playoffs. They lost Dockett but I don’t think this defense will miss a beat. In fact I think this team will be a tad better all around than last year. On offense they have veteran Larry Fitzgerald and an underrated WR on the other side in Michael Floyd. They have Carson Palmer who quietly threw over 4,000yds last year and Andre Ellington who I personally believe will be a great player for them as he had the most yards per carry of any player last year. He is the starter from here on out and I think things are looking up for this young RB.

On the defensive side they have a playmaker safety in Tyrone Mathieu and a CB who is the most physically gifted corner in the game right now. Their coach, Bruce Arians is pretty solid as well. I believe this team will not only repeat their 11-5 record this year but will also grab a playoff spot in one of the wildcard spots.

San Francisco 49ers:
This was a hard choice for me. Before the preseason I told everyone that if I had to pick who would be in the Super Bowl this upcoming year it would be the Patriots vs the 49ers. I can’t stand by that prediction because the key to that happening was for the 49ers to win that division for home-field advantage over the Seahawks. With Bowman being out for a majority of the season and Aldon Smith suspended for 9 games there is no possible way this team can win the division. Kaepernick has more weapons than just about any other QB besides Peyton Manning. Stevie Johnson a great pick-up for the Niners was a #1 option for the Bills. The combination of Stevie, Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, and Vernon Davis would be more than enough for most QBs. Problem is Kaepernick still has trouble making plays from the pocket. Frank Gore keeps getting older and older, but somehow he keeps managing to be a 1,000yd rusher each year. I just don’t trust Kaepernick to steal this division. By the end of this year the 49ers will barely scratch by the cardinals in the division due to their division record and finish the season 11-5. ( I nearly had this team 3rd in the division.)

Seattle Seahawks:

The reigning defending champions. The same team who destroyed the greatest statistical offense in NFL history. They are all young and hungry to come back again. Russell Wilson has been the best QB this preseason scoring on a ridiculous 11-13 drives. Again I don’t like to put much stock in the preseason but I personally watched some of their preseason games. The eye test is telling me this guy is the real deal. Making perfectly timed throws, reading defenses and countering them with efficient play after efficient play.

They lost their best WR Golden Tate to the Lions, but from what I’ve seen they will be perfectly okay without him. Marshawn Lynch can still be “beastmode” when they need him to as he led the league last year in Rushing TDs. Oh yeah, they got that defense which dominated the greatest offense ever recorded in history.

The Legion of Boom is still intact as they have the two best safeties in the league, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. They have Richard Sherman who has won the Madden cover vote this year and if you happen to follow him on twitter you will more than likely see him telling every other corner that he is better than all of them. I could go on and on about the weapons they have on defense but that would turn into an article all on it’s own. The Seahawks will finish this season 13-3, earning the division title and a first round bye week in the Playoffs. Do not be surprised if we see them again this year in the Super Bowl.


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

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

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

De’Shawn Hornback