By Ryan Crawford
The hot commodities of this draft include the two intriguing quarterbacks, two high level running backs, a batch of very good interior defensive linemen, three dynamite edge rushers and a group of wide receivers that just might rival last years extraordinary crop. Here’s my initial mock draft for 2015. There’s sure to be many changes before long.
1. TAMPA BAY BUCS – Jameis Winston – QB – Florida State
Lovie Smith and the Bucs badly need a franchise quarterback and Jameis Winston can be that guy. Questions about his maturity and too many interceptions are the major red flags. I think the Bucs jump at the opportunity to snag such a high level QB prospect and hope the potential problems work themselves out.
2. TENNESSEE TITANS – Leonard Williams – DT – USC
I do not think the Titans are enamored with developing Marcus Mariota at QB. Williams might be the top talent in the draft and fills a huge need in the middle of the Titans defensive line.
3. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS – Randy Gregory-OLB- Nebraska
Jaguars are looking to upgrade on defense and Gregory is a stud.
4. OAKLAND RAIDERS – Amari Cooper-WR-Alabama
Take your choice between Cooper, White, Parker etc. but there is a clear need at the receiver position and the Raiders will have plenty to choose from. Cooper seems to be the cream of the crop.
5. WASHINGTON REDSKINS – Landon Collins – S- Alabama
Best safety in the draft fills a huge void for the Redskins.
6. NEW YORK JETS – Dante Fowler – DE/OLB – Florida
Bigtime explosive pass rusher is a welcome gift for the defensive minded new head coach Todd Bowles.
7. CHICAGO BEARS – Shane Ray – DE – Missouri
Watching the Bears play defense last season was somewhat frightening for Bears fans. Ray is a pure pass rusher who should put some pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
8. ATLANTA FALCONS – Danny Shelton -DT- Washington
Another team with a bad defense…seeing a trend down here? Danny Shelton was a monster at the senior bowl and should anchor the middle of the Falcons line for years.
9. NEW YORK GIANTS – Brandon Scherff- OT- Iowa
The Giants most important job is to keep Eli Manning upright so he is able to get the ball to Odell Beckham Jr, Victor Cruz and Ruben Randle. This load should help accomplish that goal.
10. ST LOUIS RAMS – Marcus Mariota- QB- Oregon
Rams are thrilled to see Mariota drop into their laps and will jump at the chance to replace the often injured and highly paid Sam Bradford
11. MINNESOTA VIKINGS – Kevin White – WR- West Virginia
White ran a 4.35 at the combine. At 6’3″ with top flight speed, he can be a dynamic weapon for Teddy Bridgewater
12. CLEVELAND BROWNS – Devante Parker- WR- Louisville
Parker is another top weapon to be contended with and the Browns have major concerns at the wide receiver spot with Josh Gordon being a major question mark.
13. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – Vic Beasley-DE-Clemson
Beasley is a prolific pass rusher who will be called upon to play OLB because of his size. Certainly the Saints will require some defense sooner or later. Had a great combine.
14. MIAMI DOLPHINS – Ereck Flowers- OT- Miami
Another massive body in front of Ryan Tannehill could be just what the doctor ordered for the Dolphins.
15. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS – Arik Armstead –DE/DT-Oregon
New coach, new ideas but there will be a big need to retool the ferocious 49ers defense and Armstead is a mountain of a man for the defensive line.
16. HOUSTON TEXANS – Andrus Peat – OT- Stanford
The Texans need to build up their offensive line and Peat is great place to start
17. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS – Eddie Goldman- DT- Florida State
With all the weapons they have on offense, the Chargers can use a little defense and this guy is a force in the middle of a four man front
18 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS – Dorial Green Beckham- WR- Missouri
Green-Beckham is just one of those guys who could not seem to find his niche in college but oozes talent. The Chiefs are a team that had no touchdowns last year from a wide receiver. Seems like a match to me.
19. CLEVELAND BROWNS – TJ Clemmings- OT- Pittsburgh
The Browns continue to build up their offense. Now if they can only figure out the quarterback situation then they can start to move the team forward.
20. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – Trae Waynes – CB – Michigan St
Not sure how I got Waynes to drop down this far, especially after he ran a 4.30 in the combine, but the Eagles would be thrilled if he did and snatch him up quickly.
21. CINCINNATI BENGALS – Bud Dupree- DE/OLB- Kentucky
Called a physical freak of nature, this future NFL edge rusher will help the Bengals defense immensely. Ran a 4.56 in the 40 yard dash and has a 42 inch vertical leap and did a 138 inch broad jump. All while weighing in at 270 lbs. Oh My!!
22. PITTSBURGH STEELERS – Malcolm Brown- DT- Texas
A mountain for the middle of the Steeler defensive line.
23. DETROIT LIONS – LaEl Collins – OT – LSU
The Lions have a few holes on their offensive line and Collins looks like he’ll be a pretty good one. At 6’5″ and 322 lbs, he projects at left tackle.
24. ARIZONA CARDINALS – Jaelen Strong- WR- Arizona State
At 6’4″, this blazer is another stud in the crop of highly sought after receivers. A local product, the Cards are thrilled to scoop him up at 24.
25. CAROLINA PANTHERS – Marcus Peters – CB- Washington
Regarded as the number two cornerback in the entire draft, Peters is a very physical corner who fills a major need for the Panthers.
26. BALTIMORE RAVENS – Melvin Gordon-RB-Wisconsin
The Ravens are in dire need of a top flight running back and Gordon is considered the best of a strong group.
27. DALLAS COWBOYS – Maxx Williams- TE – Minnesota
The heir apparent to Jason Witten, the Cowboys are on the lookout for a young tight end that they can develop. Williams has great hands and top speed. Reminds some of a young Jeremy Shockey.
28. DENVER BRONCOS – Devin Funchess- WR- Michigan
Broncos are in salary cap dilemmas with the Thomas boys. If they franchise Demaryius Thomas, they might lose Julius Thomas. Either way they should be in the market for a pass catching tight end with speed to play receiver and Funchess certainly fits the description.
29. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS – Cedric Ogbuhei- OT- Texas A & M
When you have a quarterback with the ability of an Andrew Luck, you must wisely do anything and everything to protect him. A big tackle helps and Ogbuhei oozes with potential.
30. GREEN BAY PACKERS – Denzel Perryman – ILB – Miami
The Packers just released veteran A.J.Hawk and Perryman is a highly regarded prospect who could step into that inside linebacker role.
31. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS – Kevin Johnson- CB- Wake Forest
The Legion of Boom was a little banged up by the end of the season and with Byron Maxwell slated for free agency, a young corner might be just what the doctor ordered.
32. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – Mike Bennett – DT- Ohio State
Another big body for the defensive front should help the Patriots continue to dominate the NFL.
Other Potential 1st Round Picks
Todd Gurley- RB- Georgia
Trey Flowers – DE- Arkansas
Shaq Thompson- OLB – Washington
Eli Harold- DE- Virginia
Breshad Perriman- WR- Central Florida
Quinten Rollins – CB- Miami (Ohio)
By Brett Malamud
I was pretty impressed in many of this week’s performances. Of course, with great success from your team comes great failure from your opponent. Here’s week ten’s edition of Studs and Duds:
Stud: Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks
Beast mode is an understatement as Lynch was phenomenal against the Giants. He had 21 carries for 140 yards and four touchdowns. His fantasy owners must have been happy as he scored 40 points this week in ESPN standard leagues.
Dud: Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Dalton was awful on Thursday Night Football. He completed 10-of-33 passes and finished the night with just 86 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. He’ll try to refocus for next week’s him matchup against the Saints.
Stud: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Rodgers torched the Chicago Bears on national television Sunday night. He threw six touchdowns, with all six coming in the first half. He was pulled in the third quarter.
Dud: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
Brown’s numbers dropped off this week. He caught eight passes for 74 yards, which isn’t really that bad. Well why is he on the duds list then? Oh, that’s right. Brown had two lost fumbles, giving him just three fantasy points for the day in ESPN standard leagues
Stud: Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Were you expecting anything else? Manning threw five touchdown passes in the Broncos’ rout of the Oakland Raiders.
Dud: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Newton, who hadn’t thrown a touchdown pass since week 7, finally threw one to kelvin Benjamin for a score. The only problem? The Panthers were so far out of reach that the game didn’t matter anymore. Newton threw three interceptions and lost a fumble in a very shaky performance in week 10. He’ll return to Carolina to face a favorable matchup with the Atlanta Falcons in week 11.
Stud: Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
After two straight games that had Bryant with less than 35 yards receiving, Dez came alive on Sunday in London. Facing the Jacksonville Jaguars, Bryant hauled in six catches for 158 yards and two touchdowns. He’ll head into the bye week this week.
Stud: New York Jets
Finally! The Jets took it to the red-hot Pittsburgh Steelers and came away with a 20-13 win for just their second win of the season. They’ll have a bye in week 11.
Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy
By Brett Malamud
There was a lot of good action out on the fields this week, including many big fantasy performances. The injury bug may have ruined some fantasy owners seasons, in addition to the players’ respective teams. Here’s this week’s edition of Studs and Duds:
Stud: Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Flacco came out firing and finished the day going 21-for-29 with 306 yards and five touchdowns in route to a 48-17 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Dud: Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory, New York Jets
The running duo for Gang Green were halted this week against the Denver Broncos. The pair combined for 11 carries and just 16 yards in the Jets 31-17 loss. I’d like to take this time to call out the offensive line too. They didn’t help the cause either.
Stud: T.Y. Hilton, Indianpolis Colts
Normally, you might see Andrew Luck here in the studs list, but not this week. Instead, his receiver T.Y. Hilton takes the spot after hauling in all nine of his targets for 223 yards and a touchdown.
Dud: Mike Nugent, Cincinnati Bengals
It not fun that one play can dictate whether you end up on this list or not. That’s the case here with Mike Nugent. The kicker Nugent came into the game this week for the last play of overtime between the Bengals and Carolina Panthers. Nugent kicked a 36-yard field goal wide right as the clock expired to end the game in a tie. Teammate Adam “Pacman” Jones wasn’t afraid to call out his kicker after the game.”We were in a perfect position to win the game, two seconds left on the clock, we’ve got to win the game,” Jones said. “Everybody in here gets paid to do a job and that’s what everybody needs to do.”
Stud: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Cam was the man this week against the Cincinnati Bengals. The quarterback finished with 284 passing yards and two touchdowns through the air. In addition, Newton had 17 rushes for 107 yards and a rushing touchdown.
Dud: Injured Wide Receivers
Victor Cruz, Calvin Johnson didn’t practice all week and missed this week’s game in Minnesota, nursing an ankle injury. Johnson was pulled just a week earlier after injuring the ankle in week five’s matchup against Buffalo. A.J. Green was taken off the practice field on a cart on Wednesday after hurting his toe. The Bengals wide receiver missed Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers and will also miss this week’s matchup against the Colts. The Giants lost their top wide receiver in Victor Cruz this week after he tore his patella tendon this week in the Giants’ matchup in Philadelphia on Monday night. Cruz will likely miss the remainder of the season.
Stud: Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles headed into this one fired up. They dubbed the game “the blackout” and wore their black uniforms. Philadelphia shut out the Giants 27-0.
Dud: New York Giants
Eli Manning didn’t look great, but I don’t think that it was his fault. The offensive line looked shut down this week, much like their New York counterparts, the Jets. The Giants also lost Victor Cruz for the season. They looked flat for most of the game and in the end, the G-men were shutout 27-0.
Stud: Tom Brady, New England Patriots
There were questions headed into this week about Brady’s health, but Tom Brady shut those questions down. He stepped into the AFC East matchup against the Buffalo Bills and fired four touchdowns over 361 passing yards.
Stud: Oakland Raiders
Now I know people will look at this and say, “Hey Brett, the Raiders lost,” and I know. Look at the other side of the field though. You’ll see the San Diego Chargers, a team that shutout the Jets 31-0 last week. Many including myself would argue that the Jets are a much better team than the Raiders despite their struggles. That said, the Raiders came into this one with a new coach in Tony Sparano and came within a field goal of the Chargers, ultimately surrendering a touchdown in the final two minutes of the game to lose 31-28. The winless Raiders should be proud of their effort this week, even though the outcome wasn’t in their favor.
Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy
By Brett Malamud
-Buccaneers (0-2) at Falcons (1-1), Thursday @ 8:25 PM EST
The Buccaneers travel one state over to the confines of the Georgia Dome. The Falcons come in after their offense was virtually shut down by Cincinnati last week. I think that coming home will heal the woes and that Matt Ryan will come back strong tonight. Verdict: Falcons
-Chargers (1-1) at Bills (2-0), Sunday @ 1:00 PM EST
I watched the Bills game last week and there wasn’t much excitement, other than the Sammy Watkins touchdown play and the C.J. Spiller kickoff return for a touchdown. I think that after taking down Seattle last week, the Chargers should roll through the Bills. Verdict: Chargers
-Cowboys (1-1) at Rams (1-1), Sunday @ 1:00 PM EST
The Cowboys beat the Titans last week and DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant looked great. The Rams third-string quarterback Austin Davis went 22/29 for 235 yards and no interceptions, as St. Louis slightly edged out Tampa Bay. If Davis continues at that pace this week, it could make for a close game, but I’m still going with the Cowboys. Verdict: Cowboys
-Redskins (1-1) at Eagles (2-0), Sunday @ 1:00 PM EST
Kirk Cousins is now at the helm for the Redskins and it’ll definitely be noticeable. Cousins went 22/33 and completed his first 12 passes. Not bad for a guy coming in cold off of the bench. I don’t think they’ll get past the Eagles though, after they’ve rolled as of late. The duel back combo of LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles continues to be the story and should be it again this week. Verdict: Eagles
-Texans (2-0) at Giants (0-2), Sunday @ 1:00 PM EST
The Giants stink. They took a loss to the Drew Stanton led Arizona Cardinals after quarterback Carson Palmer was announced as inactive for the game. The G-Men turned the ball over the ball four times, much to the disappointment of head coach Tom Coughlin. The Texans, on the other hand, won in Oakland last week. I’m gonna take the Texans here because the defense will be too strong for the Giants. Verdict: Texans
-Vikings (1-1) at Saints (0-2), Sunday @ 1:00 PM EST
The Saints are 0-2. Seriously? They’re so great but have had some not so great moments. A last second field goal decided their fate last week in Cleveland. I’ve got to take them here, especially after the beat down that the Patriots gave Minnesota. Verdict: Saints
-Titans (1-1) at Bengals (2-0), Sunday @ 1:00 PM EST
The Titans couldn’t find a way to beat the Cowboys. Jake Locker showed some promise, throwing for 234 yards with a touchdown. The Bengals come in fresh off a win at home against the Falcons, and my belief is that they’ll stay undefeated after this week. Verdict: Bengals
-Ravens (1-1) at Browns (1-1), Sunday @ 1:00 PM EST
The Browns shocked the Saints last week, winning on a field goal in the final seconds. Baltimore came together after losing Ray Rice and didn’t allow a touchdown to the Steelers last week on Thursday Night Football. Still, Joe Flacco only threw for 166 yards. I think the Browns continue to shock and take this game in another close one. Verdict: Browns
-Packers (1-1) at Lions (1-1), Sunday @ 1:00 PM EST
The Packers were down 21-3 to the New York Jets. They came all the way back, beating the Jets 31-24. Aaron Rodgers looked pretty invisible in the first quarter and a bit of the second quarter, but powered back in the second half and finished the day off with 346 passing yards and three touchdowns. The Lions showed that Megatron was human, as Calvin Johnson could not be found in the end zone last week. Instead, the lone Lions touchdown went to Fullback Jed Collins. I think the Packers stay hot and win this one. Verdict: Packers
-Colts (0-2) at Jaguars (0-2), Sunday @ 1:00 PM EST
The Colts lost…to the Eagles. And I say it that way because the Eagles looked fantastic. But the Colts looked good too. They were edged out at the last second and so the loss might sting a bit, but I know they’ll come back strong this week against the Jaguars, who were slaughtered by Washington last week. Verdict: Colts
-Raiders (0-2) at Patriots (1-1), Sunday @ 1:00 PM EST
There shouldn’t be much debate here. The Patriots woke up last week, and beat down the Vikings by a score of 30-7. They’ll take on the Raiders in what could be an ugly result. Verdict: Patriots
-49ers (1-1) at Cardinals (2-0), Sunday @ 4:05 PM EST
I have been and am still pushing hard on this Cardinals defense. I’ve said it all along, I really like their defense. They forced four Giants turnovers last week at MetLife Stadium. This will be their toughest test yet, as they take on the 49ers. The Niners, however, didn’t look right at home in the second half of the inaugural game of their new stadium. Instead, quarterback Colin Kaepernick forced passes throughout and the Bears rallied to beat them. I think that the woes will stop and that Kaepernick will lead his team to the victory. Verdict: 49ers
-Broncos (2-0) at Seahawks (1-1), Sunday @ 4:25 PM EST
This is my matchup of the week. A rematch of last season’s Super Bowl sees the Broncos headed to Seattle to face the Seahawks. The Seahawks took a loss last week to the Chargers. Marshawn Lynch was not much of a factor, only rushing for 36 yards. Wes Welker is back this week after the NFL and NFLPA agreed on a new drug policy, freeing him from the remaining four games on his previous suspension. I think that the attention on Welker should free up Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas. I like the Broncos this week to quiet the 12th man. Verdict: Broncos
-Chiefs (0-2) at Dolphins (1-1), Sunday @ 4:25 PM EST
The Chiefs almost took down Peyton Manning and the rest of the Denver Broncos last week, but they didn’t. Instead they dropped to 0-2 and their defense has allowed 50 points through only two games. On the other side of the field will be the Miami Dolphins, who shocked everyone back in week one, when they took down the New England Patriots. Last week was a different story and they couldn’t get anything going, taking the loss to the Buffalo Bills. The Chiefs are desperate for a win in the competitive AFC West, and I think they’ll get their first of the year here. Verdict: Chiefs
-Steelers (1-1) at Panthers (2-0), Sunday @ 8:30 PM EST
The return of Cam Newton brought a great performance by the Carolina Panthers offense. Newton was 22/34 for 281 yards and a touchdown as he defeated “Donkey Kong Suh and [his] fellow Auburn teammate Nick Fairley.” The Panthers look ahead now to this week’s matchup at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football. Simply put, the Steelers couldn’t score a touchdown last week on Thursday Night Football. This week they’ll play their second game in a row in a primetime slot. I think that they’ll lose this one as well, and the nation will see the flaws of this struggling team. Verdict: Panthers
-Bears (1-1) at Jets (1-1), Monday @ 8:30 PM EST
Ah, the Jets. Many of you know how much I love the Jets, and how I continue to root for them, even in the darkest of times. Well, last week was one of those times. The Jets went up 14-0 within the first seven minutes of the game. Then, the Jets were up 21-3 in the middle of the second quarter when things started to unfold. Capped off by an 80 yard laser to Jordy Nelson for a touchdown, the Jets collapsed and lost 31-24. As far as bright spots, there were not many. Eric Decker looked good, but how long until defenses double team him on every play? Chris Johnson played an awful game, and finished the day with 21 yards on 12 carries. Instead, the running back who looked the best was Chris Ivory, who had just 43 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. I’m not sure they’ll bounce back this week though, facing the Chicago Bears. The Bears had three fourth-quarter touchdowns to take down the 49ers. I don’t think that the Jets secondary can handle Brandon Marshall, who scored three touchdowns last week. Jay Cutler is 8-4 on Monday Night Football with 20 touchdowns in only 12 games. The trend of touchdowns for him should continue this week, and you can bet that Jets head coach Rex Ryan will be upset with that. Verdict: Bears
By Brett Malamud
Week one proved to be a great week of football that was full of crazy catches and games coming down to the wire. Let’s hope week two can bring the same level of excitement. Here’s my picks for this week:
-Steelers (1-0) at Ravens (0-1), Thursday @ 8:25 PM EST
The Steelers escaped a major comeback at the hands of the Cleveland Browns. Now they’ll face their rivals, the Baltimore Ravens, who were narrowly defeated at home against the Bengals, under the bright lights of M&T Bank Stadium in primetime. Crowd noise will be a factor, but I’ll take the Steelers here in a close one. Verdict: Steelers
-Dolphins (1-0) at Bills (1-0), Sunday @ 1:00 PM EST
Pretty even matchup here as these AFC East foes duke it out. The Dolphins are coming in red hot after defeating the almighty New England Patriots. Buffalo is also coming in with some momentum as well, after shocking the Chicago Bears in overtime. The addition of Knowshon Moreno has proven to be great for Miami thus far, especially after he ran for 134 yards on 24 attempts with a touchdown. I’m going to take the Dolphins here. Verdict: Dolphins
-Jaguars (0-1) at Redskins (0-1), Sunday @ 1:00 PM EST
I’m going to be brutally honest, I will not tune in to this one. After watching the Texans dispose of the Redskins offense last week, I can regretfully say that I am not interested in the team, with the exception of Alfred Morris, DeSean Jackson, and Jordan Reed (who has been a major disappointment to my fantasy team), as they are amongst the players on my three fantasy football teams (thankfully, each is on a different team). I’m taking the Jaguars, who took a 17-0 lead into halftime last week against the Eagles. Verdict: Jaguars
-Cowboys (0-1) at Titans (1-0), Sunday @ 1:00 PM EST
Now we come to the Cowboys, who were manhandled last week when they faced the San Francisco 49ers, and at one point were down 28-3. The game included two fumbles from the Cowboys offense, one of which was taken all the way back by the 49ers defense for a touchdown. The Titans had a great showing out of quarterback Jake Locker, who threw for 266 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. I’m going with the safe bet of picking the Titans to win this one. Verdict: Titans
-Cardinals (1-0) at Giants (0-1), Sunday @ 1:00 PM EST
Both of these teams played in the Monday Night Football doubleheader in week one and each of those games was a polar opposite of the other. The Cardinals rallied late, scoring two touchdowns in the final quarter. Carson Palmer looked phenomenal, and his night was highlighted by a 63 yard bomb to Michael Floyd, who also had an impact on the game (although he didn’t score a touchdown). The other game was rather one-sided and the Giants were done from the opening whistle. Eli Manning was intercepted twice and there wasn’t much room for Rashad Jennings to run. The Giants should struggle this week against a tough defense. Verdict: Cardinals
-Patriots (0-1) at Vikings (1-0), Sunday @ 1:00 PM EST
The Patriots were shocked last week, taking a tough loss to the Miami Dolphins. They’ll travel to Minnesota to face the Vikings, who had an excellent game last week by shutting down the Rams in St. Louis. My gut tells me that the Patriots will come back strong and win the game. Verdict: Patriots
-Saints (0-1) at Browns (0-1), Sunday @ 1:00 PM EST
The Saints lost a heartbreaker in Atlanta after fumbling the football in overtime. Drew Brees tried out his new toy in Brandin Cooks and liked what he saw. Cooks has one less catch than Jimmy Graham, hauling in seven receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown. The Browns rallied against the Steelers from a 24-point deficit but ultimately lost on a field goal as time expired. The Browns may give the Saints a run for their money at the beginning of this game, but I think the Saints pull away in the second half. Verdict: Saints
-Falcons (1-0) at Bengals (1-0), Sunday @ 1:00 PM EST
On the other end of the Saints’ heartbreaking loss was the Atlanta Falcons. Didn’t Matty Ice look great? I mean, seriously! 448 yards. FOUR HUNDRED AND FOURTY EIGHT YARDS! A Falcons franchise record for him with that, and he even threw three touchdowns. I do like the Falcons’ addition of Devin Hester, who was targeted six times and caught five of those for 99 yards. The Bengals blew a 15 point lead but scored a touchdown with just over five minutes left against the Ravens. I don’t see it shaping up that way this week, because instead I see the Falcons going up early and not looking back. Verdict: Falcons
-Lions (1-0) at Panthers (1-0), Sunday @ 1:00 PM EST
The Lions looked fantastic last week, but after all, they were playing the Giants, who blew coverage after coverage. It seems that nobody could stop Calvin Johnson, who made the most ridiculous catches. The Panthers will get Cam Newton back but I don’t see much changing. The Lions are just too good right now. Verdict: Lions
-Rams (0-1) at Buccaneers (0-1), Sunday @ 4:05 PM EST
Another boring matchup on the week two slate sees the Sam Bradford-less, touchdown-less St. Louis Rams, squaring off with the team that had the worst ranked defense in the NFL last season. The Rams might have lost their backup as well, with Shaun Hill going down last week with a strained quad. Doug Martin did nothing last week, piling up a whopping nine yards on nine carries. I’m pulling for them this week though, and this could be the week that Doug Martin comes back to form. Verdict: Buccaneers
-Seahawks (1-0) at Chargers (0-1), Sunday @ 4:05 PM EST
This seems to be one of the more intriguing battles this week. The Chargers took a loss, but looked good against the Arizona Cardinals. The Seahawks also looked good in their game, taking down the Packers. I’m going to take the Seahawks here, but I’m sure that San Diego will compete throughout. Verdict: Seahawks
-Texans (1-0) at Raiders (0-1), Sunday @ 4:25 PM EST
The Texans defense is electric. They were great against the Redskins. The Raiders were not, and took a loss to the Jets. I see the Texans defense as too much of a threat to the Oakland offense. Verdict: Texans
-Jets (1-0) at Packers (0-1), Sunday @ 4:25 PM EST
This could be a really close game, but it could also turn ugly and end up as a blowout for Green Bay. The Packers look to bounce back against the Jets after being defeated by the Seahawks last Thursday. The Jets have assembled a bit of a new offense, with Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory as duel threats in the backfield. Johnson caught five passes and one touchdown out of the backfield in addition to his 68 rushing yards. Eric Decker also played nicely, racking up 74 yards on five receptions. Ultimately, I see the Packers taking this one, but not by much. Verdict: Packers
-Chiefs (0-1) at Broncos (1-0), Sunday @ 4:25 PM EST
The Chiefs weren’t themselves on defense last week. They were picked apart by Jake Locker and allowed him to drive down the field, resulting in two touchdowns. This week they’ll face an even tougher task: Peyton Manning. The 38 year old took down his former team, the Indianapolis Colts, in a showdown with Andrew Luck. Peyton found Julius Thomas in the end zone three times and utilized the acquisition of Emmanuel Sanders. The Chiefs are no match for the top team in the AFC. Verdict: Broncos
-Bears (0-1) at 49ers (1-0), Sunday @ 8:30 PM EST
The Niners dominated the Cowboys throughout. Rookie Carlos Hyde scored a touchdown and Vernon Davis caught two. The Bears lost that shocker to the Buffalo Bills last week and I’m not sure their defense can keep up with the Niners’ fast west coast offense in the inaugural game for Levi’s Stadium. Verdict: 49ers
-Eagles (1-0) at Colts (0-1), Monday @ 8:30 PM EST
Interesting matchup here as the Eagles face the Colts on Monday Night Football. Andrew Luck threw for 370 yards against the Broncos. Darren Sproles and LeSean McCoy are a deadly combo for Philadelphia. Should be a great offensive duel but I’m taking the Colts at home. Verdict: Colts
Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy
The NFL Draft starts at 8:00 PM EST tonight. You can follow the draft coverage here
|1||Houston Texans||Jadeveon Clowney||DE||South Carolina|
|2||St. Louis Rams (From WSH)||Greg Robinson||OT||Auburn|
|3||Jacksonville Jaguars||Blake Bortles||QB||Central Florida|
|4||Buffalo Bills (From CLE)||Sammy Watkins||WR||Clemson|
|5||Oakland Raiders||Khalil Mack||OLB||Buffalo|
|6||Atlanta Falcons||Jake Matthews||OT||Texas A&M|
|7||Tampa Bay Buccanners||Mike Evans||WR||Texas A&M|
|8||Cleveland Browns (From MIN)||Justin Gilbert||CB||Oklahoma State|
|9||Minnesota Vikings (From CLE) (Via BUF)||Anthony Barr||OLB||UCLA|
|10||Detroit Lions||Eric Ebron||TE||UNC|
|11||Tennessee Titans||Taylor Lewan||OT||Michigan|
|12||New York Giants||Odell Beckham Jr.||WR||LSU|
|13||St. Louis Rams||Aaron Donald||DT||Pittsburgh|
|14||Chicago Bears||Kyle Fuller||CB||VA. Tech|
|15||Pittsburgh Steelers||Ryan Shazier||LB||Ohio State|
|16||Dallas Cowboys||Zack Martin||OT||Notre Dame|
|17||Baltimore Ravens||CJ Mosley||LB||Alabama|
|18||New York Jets||Calvin Pryor||S||Louisville|
|19||Miami Dolphins||Ja’wuan James||OT||Tennessee|
|20||New Orleans Saints (From ARI)||Brandin Cooks||WR||Oregon State|
|21||Green Bay Packers||Ha-Ha Clinton Dix||S||Alabama|
|22||Cleveland Browns (From PHI)||Johnny Manziel||QB||Texas A&M|
|23||Kansas City Chiefs||Dee Ford||DE||Auburn|
|24||Cincinnati Bengals||Darqueze Dennard||CB||Michigan State|
|25||San Diego Chargers||Jason Verrett||CB||TCU|
|26||Philadelphia Eagles (Via CLE) (From IND)||Marcus Smith||DE||Louisville|
|27||Arizona Cardinals (From NO)||Deone Bucannon||S||Washington St.|
|28||Carolina Panthers||Kelvin Benjamin||WR||FSU|
|29||New England Patriots||Dominique Easley||DT||Florida|
|30||San Francisco 49ers||Jimmie Ward||S||Northern Illinois|
|31||Denver Broncos||Brandon Roby||CB||Ohio State|
|32||Minnesota Vikings (Via SEA)||Teddy Bridgewater||QB||Louisville|
Draft Day Trades:
- Bills acquire No. 4 Pick (Sammy Watkins) from Browns for No. 9 pick (Anthony Barr), plus 2015 1st & 4th round picks
- Browns acquire 8th pick (Justin Gilbert) from Minnesota for 9th pick (Anthony Barr)
- The Cardinals traded No. 20 (Brandin Cooks) to New Orleans for No. 27 (Deone Bucannon) and their third-rounder, Pick No. 91.
- The Browns traded Pick No. 26 (Marcus Smith), and their third-rounder, Pick No. 83, to move up to No. 22 (Johnny Manziel)
- Vikings acquire the 32th pick (Teddy Bridgewater) for the 40th pick and 108th pick
By Nick Vespasiano
Mike Zimmer was hired on Wednesday to be the ninth head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. The first time head coach was the Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator since 2008 after holding the same position with the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys. The hire came just over two weeks after Leslie Frazier was let go by the team.
Personality wise, Zimmer’s blunt honesty sharply contrasts Leslie Frazier’s passivity. When addressing the media, Leslie was often painfully vague or sounded like he was just repeating what general manager Rick Spielman wanted him to say. Vikings management was not willing to give up on Christian Ponder despite his lack of talent and Leslie stood by as we lost game after game. Zimmer is not that kind of coach. He will not be Spielman’s “yes man” like Frazier was for three seasons. Had he been head coach of the Vikings during the Christian Ponder era, Zimmer would have put up more of a fight when Spielman insisted Ponder be the starter.
One thing Zimmer and the former Vikings head coach have in common is they are defensive minds. Excluding a dismal 2010 season, in his six years in Cincinnati, the Bengals yards, touchdowns, and points allowed per drive and sack totals trended from the bottom half of the league to the top ten. Last season the Vikings ranked 31st in yards allowed and last in points allowed. Zimmer’s defenses in Cincinnati featured very few Pro-Bowlers, but the Vikings hope he can improve their defense that lacks top talent.
Zimmer has proven he can revamp a defense but the Vikings have issues offensively as well. This new coaching staff will have to find a quarterback that can consistently give the team a chance to win. If that doesn’t happen, the team likely won’t win many games and Zimmer will be fired in a few years just like Leslie Frazier. The Vikings’ offensive success will depend on not only on acquiring a quarterback either in free agency or the draft but also on hiring the right assistant coaches. While the draft is not until April, assistant coaches are being hired right now. The Vikings hired Norv Turner yesterday to replace Bill Musgrave as offensive coordinator. As the Cleveland Browns’ offensive coordinator last season, his offense had the 11th ranked passing game in the league despite an offensive depth chart worse than the Vikings’. While the offense will run through Adrian Peterson, Turner can help utilize weapons like Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings.
There are still many unknowns. There are still open assistant coach positions, free agency, and the upcoming draft. The roster and coaching staff are still incomplete but the Vikings seem to be moving in the right direction.
Nick Vespasiano is a senior English major at St. Olaf College and aspiring sports writer. He was raised in Minnesota, favorite teams are the Vikings, Wild, and Twins. Favorite athletes are Randy Moss and Jaromír Jágr.
By Matthew Wieselthier
1:00 PM ET
Jets 24, Bills 13
The Jets are arguably the most surprising team this season. After being projected as one of the worst, the Jets are in playoff contention, and there is one big reason why. The “Sons of Anarchy.” The defensive line for the Jets, comprised of Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon Harrison, and Sheldon Richardson, has tortured quarterbacks and offensives in general with the pressure they’ve put on QBs. The offense should also get a lot stronger this week with WR Santonio Holmes and TEs Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow returning from injuries (suspension for Winslow).
Buccaneers 28, Falcons 24
The Buccaneers may have looked bad most of the year, but the past few weeks, they have started to look like a decent team. The Falcons, on the other hand, are the most disappointing team this season, going from Super Bowl favorites to the favorites for a top 5 draft pick. The Buccaneers have looked like a good team since Mike Glennon took over at QB. The one thing they needed was a W. They got that last Monday versus the Dolphins, and the momentum should continue into this week.
Lions 31, Steelers 16
The Lions have looked very strong the past few weeks. We can say this over and over again. Matthew Stafford has looked very strong, a big thanks to WR Calvin Johnson. The Lions new two-headed rushing attack of Reggie Bush and Joique Bell has been stellar. If anything goes wrong with the Lions offense against the tough Steelers defense, the terrible Steelers offense should help them out. There has been no running game from the Steelers and QB Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t looked great either. The Lions should have ease in taking this game.
Eagles 34, Redskins 31
The Eagles are on a nice hot streak. Nick Foles has looked great in the past few weeks and so has LeSean McCoy in the running game. Meanwhile, the Redskins are exactly where they were last year. 3-6 last season, the Redskins racked up a 7 game winning streak to win the NFC East title. The Redskins are once again 3-6 and things are once again looking gloom. A miracle happens once, not twice, and not this year.
Cardinals 28, Jaguars 14
The Cardinals are another team in the running for most surprising team this season. Their most surprising player is RB Andre Ellington, who is averaging 7.2 yards per carry, is still sharing time with Rashard Mendenhall, but still taking advantage of his time and showing why he deserves to be seriously considered as a decent RB in the league. The Jaguars are still one of the worst teams in the NFL despite upsetting the Titans last week. Don’t expect that fact to change against a tough NFC opponent.
Texans 37, Raiders 17
Isn’t it about time that Case Keenum got his first victory as a starting QB in the NFL? He has played fantastic since getting the job, holding a 105.1 passer rating and throwing 7 TDs with no interceptions. The Raiders have their own QB issues. Starting QB Terrelle Pryor is out with a knee injury, prompting the first start in the career of Matt McGloin. This is a very interesting matchup of previously undrafted QBs starting against one another.
Bears 23, Ravens 10
The Bears have a nice situation in which they can trust their backup QB when Jay Cutler gets injured. Josh McCown has been quite successful this year, throwing for a 60% completion percentage and a 103.2 passer rating. The Ravens still don’t look that great and against a tough Bears defense, that fact shouldn’t change.
Browns 27, Bengals 23
The Browns haven’t played two games against the Bengals in a season since 2002. That fact may change with the way both teams have been performing recently. Since putting on an offensive show versus the Jets in Week 8, the Bengals have dropped two straight games against teams they should have dominated (Dolphins and Ravens). Now they play another division rival and need things to change before their bye week with a struggling Andy Dalton. The Browns have a chance to shock everyone with a win this week. They are in second place in the AFC North and have a chance to be one game back after this week. QB Jason Campbell has been very successful since taking over in the Cleveland QB debacle.
4:00 PM ET
Chargers 32, Dolphins 17
The Chargers are another team on the rise and surprise this season. QB Philip Rivers is having a comeback season with 18 TDs to 7 interceptions and a 105.9 passer rating and looking like the Rivers of old back when the Chargers were a regular playoff favorite. The Dolphins also looked like they were on the rise until they lost to the previously winless Buccaneers on Monday Night, not even showing up in the first half and looking dreadful all night.
Giants 24, Packers 13
The Giants may be the luckiest team in the league at the moment. After starting off 0-6, the Giants have taken down 3 straight either bad or injury riddled teams. This week, they get another injured and limping team with the Cheese heads. The Packers not only lost QB Aaron Rodgers, they lost their backup QB Seneca Wallace to injury last week. Scott Tolzein is making his first career start and he won’t have the Packers best check down target/tight end Jermichael Finley, who had spinal fusion surgery since being put on the IR, possibly ending his career. The Giants are getting very lucky. Don’t expect that to last much longer though.
Seattle 38, Vikings 14
The Seahawks were looking like they were on the decline, playing close games against not great opponents, headlined by having to squeak out an OT win versus the Buccaneers. They finally came back last week in an absolute destruction of the upsetting Falcons. Expect that to continue because the Seahawks are a top team with a top defense and a solid offensive attack against a horrible Vikings team who have not much upside.
49ers 27, Saints 25
The 49ers are very strong and arguably still underrated after losing such a tight game against the Panthers last week. QB Colin Kaepernick is back to being a top QB after a weak start to the season. The defense is also very strong, as shown last week when they held a strong Panthers offense to only 10 points. The Saints are very strong too, but tough defenses haven’t had that much trouble in stopping them. That fact should stay the same this week.
8:30 PM ET
Broncos 20, Chiefs 14
The two top teams in the NFL going against each other on Sunday Night. What more can anyone ask for? The Chiefs and their top defense in the NFL are going face to face with the Broncos’ top offense. The Chiefs are arguably the worst 9-0 team ever, that being that they haven’t played anyone with a winning record. But at the same time, the Broncos have only played one team with a winning record in their only loss of the season to the Colts. Peyton Manning is still the best QB in the league and that should propel the Broncos to victory in this AFC West showdown.
8:30 PM ET
Panthers 35, Patriots 24
The Panthers are arguably the hottest team in the NFL right now. They have the 2nd best defense and their offense is just getting better and better. The Patriots are still the walking wounded on the defensive side and Tom Brady has looked awful this entire season. Don’t bet against the hot streak. Carolina should be able to bring home the W in this week ending primetime showdown.
Matthew Wieselthier is the Sports Director at WPOB 88.5 FM, Plainview. He is also the PA announcer at all sporting events at POBJFKHS. You can follow him on twitter at @wieselsports66.
Heading into the 2013 regular season, some thought Mark Sanchez might still be the quarterback for the New York Jets. Some thought the Jets might be winless. Some people thought Rex Ryan would be fired by now. Well, none of those things have happened, in fact the Jets are in solid shape to compete for a playoff spot as we enter the second half of the regular season. The Jets have showed signs of being a true contending football team as well as signs of why many picked them to win at most four games this year. They are easily the most confusing team to understand and can’t be relied upon to give you a consistent performance, whether good or bad, week in and week out. Nevertheless, here are the Jets at 5-4 after nine weeks and currently slotted in 6th and final spot in the playoffs. It’s been a wild ride this point, let’s try to make some sense of it…
New York Jets 18 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17
Team Headline: Better to be lucky than not!
Coming into their season opener the Jets were considered to be a laughing stock. Well, in their first game of the season, New York showed how good of a defense they really have. The Jets really didn’t deserve to win this game; in fact they shouldn’t have if not for a stupid unnecessary roughness penalty by a Buccaneer defender which set up Nick Folk for a game winning 48-yard field goal. Geno Smith showed he could lead this time as he initiated a last minute drive to put the Jets in position to win the football game. Granted, they needed a little bit of luck to win the game, but a win is a win.
Week 2: New England Patriots 13 New York Jets 10
Team Headline: Geno Sucks!
Working on a short week, the Jets traveled to Foxboro for Thursday Night Football and played well once again defensively as they limited Tom Brady to only 185 yards through the air. Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory combined to run for 100 yards on the ground and showed what type of game the Jets would need to play in order to win football games this year. Unfortunately, that recipe does not include turning the football over four times, three times from Geno Smith interceptions. Geno lost the Jets this football game, and after looking good the previous week, Jets fans were back on the hater bandwagon in regards to their new quarterback.
Week 3: New York Jets 27 Buffalo Bills 20
Team Headline: Hey! Geno isn’t too bad!
Despite looking so bad the previous week, Geno Smith silenced the critics as he took down a tough divisional opponent on the road. He threw for over 300 yards for the first time in his career and also tossed two touchdowns. The Jets ran the ball effectively for 182 yards, mostly from Bilal Powell who racked up 149 yards on 27 carries. Despite losing the turnover battle again and committing a team record 20 penalties, the Jets got the win and moved to 2-1 on the year.
Week 4: Tennessee Titans 38 New York Jets 13
Team Headline: I need a drink!
Oh boy. After week three, the Jets were feeling great about themselves as they were 2-1 coming off a big road win. The Titans were 2-1 also, but not viewed as a good football team, until week four came around. That’s when the Titans put a beating on the Jets 38-13. Geno was horrendous and threw two more interceptions to put his four-game total at eight! The Jets fell down 10-0 after the first quarter and never had a chance after that. Jake Locker and Ryan Fitzpatrick combined to throw for four touchdowns and zero interceptions as they torched the Jets secondary. This was a huge step backwards for a team that was really showing signs of life.
Week 5: New York Jets 30 Atlanta Falcons 28
Team Headline: What just happened?
So the Jets get embarrassed by the Titans the previous week and in week five they faced the Falcons, bitter off of a home loss to New England, who are usually unbeatable at home. Here is where the un-predictableness of the Jets started to kick in. Somehow the Jets led in the fourth quarter 27-14, but the Falcons stormed back as expected to take a 28-27 lead. Geno got the ball with 1:54 left in the game down two points on the road own his own 20-yard line. From there Smith would engineer a magnificent seven play drive to set up Nick Folk for a 43-yard time-expiring kick to give the Jets the win. In a game where Vegas dubbed the Jets as ten point under-dogs, Gang Green shocked the world. No one saw this coming, especially after week four’s embarrassing loss to Tennessee.
Week 6: Pittsburgh Steelers 19 New York Jets 6
Team Headline: Well, it was a nice season!
After a big road win on Monday Night Football, Geno Smith and the Jets let it be known throughout the league that they are no joke. In week six they returned home to face the Steelers and dropped the ball. Geno played his worst game as a Jet so far as he threw for only 201 yards on 34 attempts and two interceptions. They were shut out in the second half while Pittsburgh put the game away, as they fell to 3-3. It was a classic Jets let down after a huge win the previous week and another step back as the Steelers won their first football of the season.
Week 7: New York Jets 30 New England Patriots 27 OT
Team Headline: Referees 1 Patriots 0
With Rob Gronkowski returning to the field, the Patriots came into week seven feeling pretty good about themselves. They left the field scratching their heads. After getting completely shut down offensively versus the Steelers, Geno Smith played much better this week and led his team to victory in overtime despite throwing a pick six. Tom Brady was held out of the end zone and completed less than half of his passes, while also throwing a pick six. A controversial call in overtime negated a missed field goal by Nick Folk, and set up a much closer kick later in the drive which gave the Jets the victory. Once again, the Jets bounced back from mediocrity the previous week to win in improbable fashion.
Week 8: Cincinnati Bengals 49 New York Jets 9
Team Headline: Is Sanchez healthy? What about Sims?
The Jets just beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, so with the way their season is going it just made sense for them to go out and lose by 40 to the Bengals the following week. When Andy Dalton throws five touchdowns against your defense that usually is an issue. When Geno Smith throws two picks and only 159 yards you probably aren’t going to win football games. The Jets were shelled in every phase of the game and received a decimating blow to their confidence going forward.
Week 9: New York Jets 26 New Orleans Saints 20
Team Headline: We just beat the Saints in a game that wasn’t in Madden?
This one still confuses me. After losing as bad as you can to the Bengals, the Jets came right out of the gate defensively and made Drew Brees feel uncomfortable. Throughout the football game the Saints just felt out of sync, well except for Jimmy Graham because he’s well…not human. Geno Smith didn’t do much to win this football game, but he certainly didn’t lose it for the Jets. For once, the Jets won the turnover battle after getting Drew Brees to throw two uncharacteristic picks. Chris Ivory was a tank as he rushed for 139 yards on only 18 carries and found the end zone. He ran very hard throughout the game and was definitely the x factor. It was a game that was won by the Jets very good defense and their ground and pound offensive attack. Get embarrassed by the Bengals one week, and then beat the Super Bowl contending the Saints the following week. Yeah, I got nothing.
It’s absolutely incredible how on and off the Jets are each and every week. They have alternated wins and losses every single week even though some weeks have looked great and some have looked abysmal. After nine week the Jets head into their bye week in the sixth spot for the playoffs. They will face the Bills in week 11 where, if their prior games this season are indicators, they will probably get the doors blown off themselves and lose by 30 to the Buffalo Bills. The combined record of their remaining opponents is 26-30 so to imagine the Jets winning four to five more games is not so far-fetched. They are a run first team that can sometimes rely on the arm of Geno Smith to make a big play every now and then. The Jets would prefer to not have Geno decide the outcomes of games and instead just manage them while their ground and pound attack moves the offense. Their back bone has become their defense which is top ten in the league. They specialize against stopping the run as they have allowed the fewest rushing yards in the NFL, 77.9. As bad as the Jets were supposed to be, they have shocked many by winning five games already, including beating the Falcons, Patriots, and Saints. Their losses have been ugly, but they will gladly take a 5-4 record right now although this roller coaster has a long way to go until it has reached its end.
By Dan Lagnado
Division Winner: Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals are the only team above .500 in a division that includes two perennial defensive powerhouses, the defending Super Bowl champions…and the Cleveland Browns. The Bengals have made the most of their first two draft picks this season, Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard. Both have given an already powerful offense a boost. Andy Dalton has thrown for 16 touchdowns, 12 of those to AJ Green and Marvin Jones. Geno Atkins and the NFL’s leading tackler Vontaze Burfict lead the NFL’s fifth ranked defense (of all teams in the AFC North, who guessed the Bengals would have the top ranked defense?) This defense will have to deal with the loss of Rey Maualuga who was injured against the Jets. Currently sitting at 6-2 with a three game lead on the division, despite a tough schedule the Bengals seem poised to run away with this division.
8.5 months ago, the Baltimore Ravens were on top of the football world. And then everything changed. Ray Lewis and Matt Birk retired. Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin, Paul Kruger, Cary Williams, Bernard Pollard and Danell Ellerbe left either by free agency or were released. So far these losses have been hard to overcome. The Ravens are 3-4 and are only 1/2 game ahead of the Browns for second place. Joe Flacco, who signed a big contract extension after his Super Bowl MVP, hasn’t quite played up to the money with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. Ray Rice is averaging less than three yards per carry and has struggled to stay healthy. Torrey Smith is the clear offensive leader but his teammates haven’t stayed healthy. Jacoby Jones has been injured and missed five games causing the Ravens to turn to rookie receiver Marlon Brown. Terrell Suggs and new addition Elvis Dumervil have combined for 13 sacks to provide most of the defensive highlights. While still possible for the Ravens to make a late season run, it will hardly be easy. Baltimore has a tough schedule going forward including two games against the first place Bengals.
The Cleveland Browns are having one of the most bizarre seasons that anyone has ever seen. The Browns were looking for even better seasons from their big second year players Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson. As it turns out Weeden would start only two games (both losses) before being benched in favor of Brian Hoyer. Hoyer would go 3-0 in his starts before going down for the season with injury. The Browns then went back to Weeden, who would lose two more games before being benched again, this time for Jason Campbell. Richardson also only lasted two games before being traded to the Indianapolis Colts for draft picks. The Browns have actually performed better without last year’s high draft picks, going 3-1 in games not started by Weeden and 3-3 without Richardson. The main bright spots have been Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon, who have accounted for nine receiving touchdowns. Defensive back Joe Haden has played proven to be one of the best year-in-year-out and rookie Barkevious Mingo has impressed in his rookie year with four sacks in his early career. While Cleveland is not going to threaten for a playoff birth terribly soon, the roots of a good team are in place.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are feeling the effects of time. This is hardly the same team that won two Super Bowls in the past decade. Instead, the Steelers sit in last place with a disappointing record of 2-5. Ben Roethlisberger has been inconsistent with eight TDs and seven INTs. The loss of Mike Wallace has had an impact on the offense though Antonio Brown has emerged as an offensive threat this season. The Steelers have also gotten decent play from their rookie running back Le’Veon Bell. Lamarr Woodley leads the team in sacks with five, however the rest of the team has only five total sacks as well. Perennial Pro-Bowler Troy Polamalu is also having a decent season. However, the bad certainly outweighs the good for this team. Many of the games have been close thanks to the defense, but the offense has not had the necessary firepower to win more games. With five tough games still on the schedule, it may be just about time for fans of the Terrible Towel to start looking towards 2014.
In the AFC North, look for the Bengals led by Andy Dalton and AJ Green to win the division, while the Ravens will try to fight through a tough schedule to get within striking distance of a Wild Card spot. It’s not an easy road for the defending champs but if anyone can conquer the adversity and make it the postseason, it’s the Ravens.