Posts Tagged ‘nfl’

Former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston throwing a pass at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston throwing a pass at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

By Kelton Brooks (@BrooksWeekly)

The NFL Scouting Combine, the exact science that’s not so exact, has again come and gone.

It’s the annual football Olympics that surfaces every year on the speed-friendly turf in Indianapolis, Indiana. The spectacle is technically the first football-related interview for college football players with dreams of performing on the big stage that is the National Football League.

The “Road to the Pros,” as some calls it.

Executives, coaches, scouts, and doctors from all 32 NFL teams sat high in the press or coach’s box and glared down with binoculars or glued randomly in the stands as each participant pushed it to the max in the shuttle run, 3-cone-drill, broad and vertical jump, bench press and the critically-acclaimed 40-yard dash.

And I love it all.

But honestly, it doesn’t matter if a 340 pound lineman runs a 4.58 in the 40-yard dash, or a 5.7. Linemen are measured on quick burst, lateral quickness and strength. It doesn’t matter if a wide receiver runs a 4.35 in the 40, or a 4.75.

Compare the careers of former 1st-round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey, who ran a scorching 4.30 flat in the 2009 Combine, and Anquan Boldin, a 2nd-rounder who ran a pedestrian 4.71 in the 2003 Combine.

Heyward-Bey is a bust considering his lofty 7th overall pick selection by the Oakland Raiders in 2009, playing on three team in six seasons and never eclipsing a 1,000 yards in a single year.

Boldin, on the other hand, is a Super Bowl champion with a borderline Hall of Fame career.

But I’m not here to compare oranges to apples and explain how sprinting down the sidelines can get you a couple extra million dollars or how lifting 225 pounds on the bench press 15 or 50 times will determine how many tackles in a game.

I’m here for two reasons.

One, to briefly give kudos to the top five quarterbacks in the 2015 NFL Draft according to NFL Draft guru Mike Mayock, for opting to lay out all their skills on the table after it has been widely publicized that this year’s crop of quarterback is “weak” and “less desirable.”

That group consist of (in order) former 2013 Heisman trophy winner Jameis Winston, 2014 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, Baylor’s Bryce Petty, Brett Hundley of UCLA, and Colorado State’s Garrett Grayson.

And second, the NFL Combine is also a buster of stereotypes.

In 2013, the Arizona Cardinals selected former Texas A&M wide receiver Ryan Swope with the 174th overall pick in the sixth round. Swope ran an unprecedented 4.34 in the 40-yard dash.

That’s fast, but nothing close to running back Chris Johnson’s Combine record of 4.24 in 2008. But I’ll let Swope explain why his 40 time was “unprecedented.”

“I think a lot of people were pretty shocked,” Swope said in a 2013 interview. “You don’t see that every day, a white guy running a 4.3.”

Remember is 1992 when Woody Harrelson proved to Wesley Snipes that, in fact, white men can jump? Well, Swope showed NFL scouts that white men can run, too.

But sadly, the 24-year-old’s career ended before he took his first snap. He announced his retirement July of 2013 during Organized Teams Activities because of reoccurring concussions.

But the most recognized player for reasons off and on the field, is shattering the mold, Winston.

The stereotype around black quarterbacks on any level of football is he is “always” mobile, always athletic, and always looking to run first. But the worst and most undermining stereotype is that black quarterbacks can’t “digest the playbook,” meaning they don’t have the IQ to learn the playbook.

Winston was, of course, seen as a mobile and an athletic quarterback. Well, Winston clocked in at a 4.97 on his first attempt and a 4.99 in his second in the 40-yard dash, ranking 10th and out of 13 participating quarterbacks.

“He tuck and ran a lot during the season!”

Jameis Winston rushed for 65 yards for the entire year.

Winston is head and shoulders above every quarterback as a passer in this year’s draft. Winston is a quarterback that can extend plays from the pocket. Winston is a quarterback that can run if he has to, not a, per say, running quarterback.

And as far as the IQ insult, according to NBC’s Pro Football Talk, Winston’s knowledge of the game has reportedly caught the attention of numerous club officials who met with him during the NFL Scouting Combine.

Reportedly, an unnamed evaluator raved about Winston’s football IQ saying, “I think he’s (Winston) probably the smartest player I’ve ever interviewed” and even went out on a limb comparing him to Peyton Manning on sheer football IQ.

I don’t see Peyton Manning in Winston, but more of the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger and former NFL quarterback Daunte Culpepper.

But I also see a quarterback that’s not falling into the stereotype.

Hopefully more guys like Swope and Winston come along to break loose any stereotype chained to any players of any position in any sport.

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) has been officially suspended for a year by the NFL

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) has been officially suspended for a year by the NFL

According to multiple reports, Josh Gordon is officially suspended without pay for a minimum of one year for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, the Browns announced Tuesday.

I wrote a column about the rumors circulating Gordon of a possible year long suspension and his open-letter prior to the official ruling coming down. The column was published in The Hutchinson News, where I am the law enforcement and courts reporter, as well as a sports writer.

Below is the link to the column.

Column on Josh Gordon and his suspension.

Courtesy Neil Horowitz

Courtesy Neil Horowitz

By Kelton Brooks (@BrooksWeekly)

When the Seattle Seahawks No. 1 ranked defense faced off against the Denver Broncos’ No. 1 ranked offense in last year’s Super Bowl, it was the first time in NFL history the two top-ranked offense and defense met in the big dance.

And the Seahawks made the Broncos dance alone to a slumbrous tune in a 43-8 stomping. The score was more exciting than the game. In every facet of the game, the Seahawks dominated. Manning and his high octane offense took a knockout gut punch from one of the most formidable defenses the league has ever witnessed.

The Seahawks and its historical defense will hoist the Lombardi Trophy in back-to-back years, but not in a laughable 43-8 fashion over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Let me put the Seahawks defense in statistical and historical perspective.

Seattle has led the league in scoring defense in each of the last three seasons. Seattle yielded 15.3 points per game in 2012, 14.4 points a game in 2013 and capped off a 2014 campaign allowing 15.9 points per game in a “down year.”

The only team that has reached those heights were the 1969-71 “Purple People Eaters” of the Minnesota Vikings that led the league in scoring defense in each of those years.

That’s the point of the game, right? To outscore your opponents or to prevent them from scoring. Prior to the Seahawks six game winning streak to end the season, they allowed 61 point combined Weeks 9 through 11. In those last six wins of the regular season, they allowed only 39 points. That’s 6.5 points per game.

But according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Seahawks defense has a chink in their armor. And that chink’s name is Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Opposing quarterbacks have 11 touchdowns and two interceptions when targeting tight ends against the Seahawks defense, according to Elias Sports. When throwing to running backs and receivers, quarterbacks have six touchdowns to 11 interceptions against the Legion of Boom.

Interesting statistics that points to one of the most pivotal matchups, Gronkowski versus the hard hitting safety Kam Chancellor. Those top tier competitors is a violent matchup that’s on an unavoidable collision course.

But the player to watch out for is patriots tight end Tim Wright, who has been a no show since his breakout seven catch game for 61 yards and a touchdown against the Chicago Bears Oct. 26. Wright may have a larger role in the Patriots’ offense with Seahawks safety Earl Thomas nursing a dislocated shoulder that he said has since healed.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the ultimate competitor. He will find a way to get the ball to Gronk and to Wright. Julian Elderman, Danny Amendola and Brandon Lafell don’t matchup well against the Seahawks secondary, but Richard Sherman is also nursing an arm injury. New England could find success.

Seattle won’t bully the Patriots like they did Denver. Former Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner, now with New England, has made that loud and clear with his comments towards his ex-teammates injuries. 

But until proven otherwise, defense wins champions. The Seahawks have one of the best defenses in NFL history.

Seahawks 24, Patriots 17.

Can the Cowboys slow down the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field?

Can the Cowboys slow down the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field?

By Kelton Brooks (@BrooksWeekly)

A “slight tear.” Three words Packers’ fan have only heard in their nightmares, but the injury is all but a reality for Aaron Rodgers.

But as their Super Bowl winning quarterback once said after Green Bay started the season 1-2, R-E-L-A-X. As prolific a passer Rodgers is, his slightly torn calf muscle couldn’t have come at a worst time.


Wild Card Prediction Results

Brooks: 3-1

Perez: 2-2


 

Divisional Playoff  Brooks Perez
DAL @ GB DAL(L) GB(W)
CAR @ SEA SEA(W) SEA(W)
IND @ DEN DEN(L) DEN(L)
BAL @ NE NE(W) NE(W)

 


 

Brooks Bits

Dallas Cowboys @ Green Bay Packers 

Two extremes are at stake in Sunday’s divisional matchup: The Packers are 8-0 at home on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. Green Bay has averaged a NFL-high 39.8 points per game at home with Rodgers throwing for 25 touchdowns to 0 interceptions.

The Cowboys have a winning streak of their own going 8-0 on the road led by the new “triplets,” Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray. Dallas has averaged 34.4 points per game on the road. Murray led the league in rushing with 1,845 yards, breaking Emmitt Smith’s single season record along the way. Bryant broke Michael Irvin’s single season touchdown record with 16 on the season.

Something has to give.

Not having a first-round bye was the best thing that ever happened to the Cowboys. It would’ve only slowed down the momentum for the hottest team in the NFL. Now matter what adversity Dallas has been faced with this season, they keep finding ways to win.

The 42-7 drumming Dec. 21 over the Indianapolis Colts was a telltale sign of the maturity and growth of the Cowboys. When the Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Washington Redskins the Dec. 14, last year’s Cowboys would’ve lost to the Colts.

This team has a new confidence, a new mindset and new drive.

Dallas will shock the Packers on the arctic Lambeau field and defeat an ailing Rodgers.

Eddie P’s Philosophical Take

Carolina Panthers @ Seattle Seahawks 

As much as I loathe the Seattle Seahawks, I cannot deny how good of a team they are. Seattle boasts the best defense in the NFL. Running back Marshawn Lynch is one of the best rushers in the game. Quarterback Russell Wilson is a great decision-maker that can beat you through the air and on the ground.

Carolina is a team that is finally putting their potential together. The running back duo of Jonathan Stewart and Deangelo Williams is dangerous.  Quarterback Cam Newton can drop the long bombs and bust loose on a long run. Ron Rivera’s defense is always tough.

The Panthers, however, still were a 7-8-1 team. The Panthers have and will commit costly errors. Newton has turned the ball over 21 times during the season. He turned the ball over twice last week. Against a well-rounded team like Seattle, this habit of turning the ball over can–and will–be deadly.

Dallas Cowboys @ Green Bay Packers

The Dallas Cowboys broke the nasty habit of faltering in the month of December. Last week against Detroit, Jerry’s “Boys came back to win. In Lambeau Field, the Cowboys success will come to a screeching halt.

The Packers rank in the top 10 offensively. Aaron Rodgers and his receiving corps of Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson will carve you up. If Rodgers is not scary enough, imagine the bruising 230-pound Eddie Lacy running straight at you.

The Packs’ “weakness” is its defense, and it is 10th against the pass but only 23rd against the run. No matter how you look at GB’s defense, it is a tough unit. With Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers rushing the passer, it will be tough for Dallas to block.

Game. Set. Match. Packers.

At 7-8-1, how far can Cam Newton lead the Carolina Panthers through the playoffs?

At 7-8-1, how far can Cam Newton (1) lead the Carolina Panthers through the playoffs?

By Kelton Brooks (@BrooksWeekly)

It’s the perfect time to usher in the 2015 NFL playoffs with Jim Mora’s famed “Playoffs?” rant. The Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera could’ve channeled his inner Mora as his team slipped into post-season play with a sub-500 record at 7-8-1. But the Panthers’ 34-3 laugher over the Atlanta Falcons in the win-and-you’re-in Dec. 28 season finale, punched their ticket into the big dance.

Carolina is the second team in NFL history to advance to the playoffs with a losing record. The first time this happened was in the 2010-11 season when the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks miraculously defeated the 10-6 Saints in the Wild-Card.

Will lightening strike twice as the Panthers take on the 11-5 Arizona Cardinals?

But without further ado, here’s the the Mora rant I promised you.


Week 17 Prediction Results

Brooks: 12-4; Overall: 175-80

Perez: 11-5; Overall: 178-77 (Regular season winner)

Wooten: 11-5; Overall: 153-86


 

Wildcard Round Brooks Perez
ARI @ CAR CAR(W) ARI(L)
BAL @ PIT PIT(L) PIT(L)
CIN @ IND IND(W) IND(W)
DET @ DAL DAL(W) DAL(W)

 


 

Brooks Bits

Arizona Cardinals @ Carolina Panthers

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is the run away favorite for the Coach of the Year award. Arians led the Cardinals to a 10-6 record using three different players at quarterback. Carson Palmer played in only six games as he battled a nerve injury to his shoulder before being lost for the season to a torn ACL days after signing a three-year, $50 million contract extension.

Drew Stanton filled the void admirably in Palmer’s absence, but he too sustained a knee injury. The severity level isn’t as gruesome as Palmer’s, but Stanton has been ruled out at least for this week’s game.

Now enter Ryan Lindley who has gone 1-2 in his three starts this season. To put it simply, Lindley is a third string quarterback for a reason. His lone win was a 12-6 defensive struggle over the St. Louis Rams. The Cardinals’ point differential with Lindley under center is 67 to 35 averaging 11.6 points per game.

Yes, the Panthers have a losing record, but it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Carolina closed out the season on a four game winning streak, resembling the team that went 10-6 last season led by a stingy defense and ball control.

Cam Newton has been spectacular since his return from a car wreck that led to two back fractures. Kelvin Benjamin is apart of the historical rookie wide receiver class as he totaled 1,008 yards receiving and nine touchdowns during the regular season. Tight end Greg Olsen matched Benjamin with 1,008 yards of his own.

Playing at home and surging at the right moment, the Panthers will upset the 11-5 Cardinals. Panthers 24, Cardinals 13.

Detroit Lions @ Dallas Cowboys

This is a matchup between two organizations trying to shake off a long, latched stigma.

The Detroit Lions are a team with a past of losing, a recent past of falling flat on their faces in big games, and a talented team that can’t get over the hump.

Every football fan in the world who has watched the Dallas Cowboys over the past few seasons are waiting on them to implode. That has been the Cowboys M.O., wait until the biggest stage to collapse right before our eyes.

The “accident waiting to happen.”

In fact the last time Dallas had one of their colossal let downs, it was to the Lions in 2011 when Detroit overcame a 27-3 2nd-half deficit to win. Tony Romo threw three 2nd-half interceptions to pave the way for the Lions’ comeback.

Fast-forward to this year, Romo, MVP candidate DeMarco Murray—who set a franchise singe-single rushing record with 1,845 yards—and Dez Bryant who broke Michael Irvin’s touchdown receiving record with 16, are the new “Triplets” in Dallas.

Jim Caldwell has brought a winning attitude to the Lions and instilled confidence in quarterback Matthew Stafford. Detroit caught a huge break after the NFL reversed their decision to suspend Ndamukong Suh. His services will be needed to slow down Murray.

However, I believe the Cowboys will continue to show the world this team is for real.

Dallas in a wild one, 38-34.

Eddie P’s Philosophical Take

Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers

This game will be a tough, hard-nosed, old school AFC brawl. The Steelers and Ravens are divisional rivals, so they will bring the worst out of each other.

Pittsburgh has transformed into a passing team with Big Ben and Antonio Brown. They are ranked 2nd in the league in terms of passing yards. They’ll be even more pass-happy with Le’Veon Bell out.

This will play into the Steelers’ favor. The Ravens are ranked 23rd against the pass.

Arizona Cardinals @ Carolina Panthers

The Cards are playing with Ryan Lindley. I still do not think the Panthers are a good enough team to outduel Arizona.

Arizona has a tough, underrated defense. Carolina has faltered throughout the entire season. They are an under .500 team. There is little to no chance of them beating out the Cardinals.

The playoffs are a different ball game, however. Lindley has only two career touchdowns. His inexperience will need to be masked by a ground game and a stout defense.

I still believe Arizona will come out victorious.

Who will win the battle for the AFC North crown? Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Who will win the battle for the AFC North crown?
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

By Kelton Brooks (@BrooksWeekly)

This is the last week of 2014-15 NFL regular season.

The season has flown by with numerous storylines.

The two most talked about prospects in the 2014 NFL draft in the No. 1 overall pick in Jadeveon Clowney and 26th overall in Johnny Manziel, didn’t come within a mile of their expectations.

Clowney appeared in only four games and registered seven total tackles before a knee injury sidelined him for the season. Clowney is currently facing a recovery process that will last eight to nine months, jeopardizing the start of his 2015 season.

Manziel flashed in his brief late game appearance Nov. 26 against the Bills, but didn’t get his first start until week 15 in a forgettable debut. The former charismatic, Texas A&M star finished the season, 18-of-35 for 175 yards with zero touchdown passes and two interceptions. He finished with 29 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

The Steelers are the first team in NFL history with a 4,500 yard passer, a 1,500 yard receiver and a 1,300 yard rusher.

And to date, the 2014-15 season is the best rookie wide receiver class in NFL history starring Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG), Mike Evans (TB), Sammy Watkins (BUF), Kelvin Benjamin (CAR) and Jarvis Landry (MIA).

I can go on forever, but those are a few that raised eyebrows.

In any case, NFL.com has released likely scenarios and possible seeding for the playoffs. This scenario grabs my attention:

The winner of Lions-Packers will have a first-round bye and can find themselves with home-field advantage. Meanwhile, the loser is assured the No. 6 seed.

Here are the Final Picks for the regular season:


Week 16 Prediction Results

Brooks: 10-6; Overall: 154-85

Perez: 11-5; Overall: 167-72

Wooten: 8-8; Overall: 142-81


Week 17 Matchups Brooks Perez Wooten
CLE @ BAL BAL(W) BAL(W) BAL(W)
DAL @ WAS DAL(W) DAL(W) HOU(W)
IND @ TEN IND(W) IND(W) IND(W)
JAX @ HOU HOU(W) HOU(W) HOU(W)
SD @ KC SD(L) SD(L) KC(W)
NYJ @ MIA MIA(L) MIA(L) MIA(L)
CHI @ MIN MIN(W) MIN(W) CHI(L)
BUF @ NE NE(L) NE(L) NE(L)
PHI @ NYG NYG(L) PHI(W) PHI(W)
NO @ TB NO(W) NO(W) NO(W)
CAR @ ATL CAR(W) ATL(L) ATL(L)
DET @ GB GB(W) GB(W) GB(W)
OAK @ DEN DEN(W) DEN(W) DEN(W)
ARI @ SF SF(W) ARI(L) ARI(L)
STL @ SEA SEA(W) SEA(W) SEA(W)
CIN @ PIT PIT(W) PIT(W) PIT(W)

 


 Brooks Bits

Cincinnati Bengals (10-4-1) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5)

The battle of the AFC North will be decided between two of the streakiest teams in the NFL this season.

Both the Steelers and Bengals are tied for the league’s second-most wins since Week 8, accumulating a record of 7-2 in that time frame.

Pittsburgh began the season at a modest 3-3 record with spurts of excellence, yet dumbfounded at times.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 500 yards twice in a single game Oct. 26 against the Colts.He also threw for six touchdowns that game along with another half a dozen the following week against the Baltimore Ravens. The Steelers scored 94 points in that two week span only to stumble to a 20-13 loss to a 1-9 Jets team at that time.

For the Bengals, forgive me if I’m repeating myself, but on paper, Cincinnati is most talented team in the NFL on both sides of the ball. But they continue to perform under their Jekell and Hyde M.O.
After giving up 25 points in the fourth quarter in a 42-21 loss in their first defeat to the Steelers Dec. 7, Cincinnati blanked the Browns 30-0 and forced four interceptions in a 37-28 Monday night victory over Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

A key to Sunday night’s game is the health of Bengals’ All Pro receiver AJ Green. He hauled in 11 catches for a career-high 224 yards against the Steelers the first-go-round. Green has been questionable all week, but now is expected to play after suffering a bruised right biceps Monday.

Since 2001, the Steelers lead the all-time series 20-8 against the Bengals, and won five the last seven. The Bengals have created a habit of folding under the pressure in big games and both Andy Dalton and Marvin Lewis have yet to win a playoff game.

In the battle for the AFC North title, the Sunday night matchup will have a playoff atmosphere, a moment the Steelers relish and the Bengals falter.
Steelers 35-24

Eddie P’s Philosophical Take

Detroit Lions (11-4) @ Green Bay Packers (11-4)

The Detroit Lions will head to Lambeau Field and battle the Green Bay Packers for the NFC North title. Both teams are at 11-4. The Lions are undefeated within the division. The Packers have a lone divisional loss, to the Lions.

The Packers will be able to avenge that loss this week. Aaron Rodgers leads a 7th ranked passing offense. They also have a pretty good rushing game behind Eddie Lacy. The Lions are tops against the run, only allowing 63.8 yards per game. Detriot is 13th against the pass as well; all in all, not too shabby.

Green Bay’s overall offensive attack might be too much for Detroit, especially playing on the road.

Arizona Cardinals (11-4) @ San Francisco 49ers (7-8)

The San Francisco 49ers (7-8) are out of the playoff picture, but it does not mean they cannot help shape how that picture ends up developing.

The Arizona Cardinals (11-4) started off on fire but have since cooled off a bit. Once atop of the NFC West, now they are tied with the Seattle Seahawks. They need to do their part and win to make sure they are not bumped down to a wild card team.

Despite playing at home, this will be a hard game to win for the 49ers. They are on a four game losing streak, including a tough overtime loss to the San Diego Chargers in Week 16.

The Cards, coming off a loss as well, will be looking to bounce back. They will succeed against the 49ers.

Words From Wooten

Arizona Cardinals (11-4) @ San Francisco 49ers (7-8)

With Jim Harbaugh’s job up in the air, he will need to win this game against their division rival Cardinals. The 49ers didn’t have the greatest season due to multiple star players being injured, but they did what they could. As for Arizona, Ryan Lindley needs to come out and show that he can lead the team to victory.

Which NFC South quarterback will lead his team to victory to shake up the division? Matt Ryan (2) left; Drew Brees (9) right.

Which NFC South quarterback will lead his team to victory to shake up the division? Matt Ryan (2) left; Drew Brees (9) right.

By Kelton Brooks (@BrooksWeekly)

Ok, maybe I jumped the gun a little believing Johnny Manziel would flash his cape in his NFL debut.

A stat line of 10 of 18 for 80 yards with two interceptions and 13 rushing yards on five attempts in 30-0 drumming is not what the former Heisman Trophy envisioned.

Manziel needs to cash in on some points instead his patented money gesture.


Week 15 Predictions Results

Brooks: 13-3; Overall: 144-79

Perez: 13-3; Overall: 156-67

Wooten: 13-3; Overall: 134-73


Week 16 Matchups Brooks Wooten  Perez
TEN @ JAX JAX(W)   TEN(L)  JAX(W)
PHI @ WSH PHI(L)  PHI(L)  PHI(L)
SD @ SF SD(W)  SF(L)  SF(L)
MIN @ MIA MIA(W)  MIA(W)  MIA(W)
BAL @ HOU BAL(L)  BAL(L)  BAL(L)
DET @ CHI DET(W)  DET(W)  DET(W)
CLE @ CAR CAR(W)  CLE(L)  CAR(W)
ATL @ NO NO(L)  NO(L)  NO(L)
GB @ TB GB(W)  GB(W)  GB(W)
KC @ PIT PIT(W)  PIT(W)  PIT(W)
NE @ NYJ NE(W)  NE(W)  NE(W)
NYG @ STL STL(L)  STL(L)  NYG(W)
BUF @ OAK BUF(W)  BUF(W)  BUF(W)
IND @ DAL IND(L)  DAL(W)  DAL(W)
DEN @ CIN DEN(L)  DEN(L)  DEN(L)

 

Brooks Bits

Indianapolis Colts (10-4) @ Dallas Cowboys (10-4)

The Cowboys have sole possession of the NFC East after grounding the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday night. But if America’s team wish to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009, a win over the NFL passing touchdown leader (38) in Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts is vital.

However, the Cowboys are already at a disadvantage with the status of MVP candidate DeMarco Murray up in the air as he battles back from surgery on a broken bone in his hand. The Cowboys haven’t ruled Murray—the NFL rushing leader with 1,687 yards—out, but you’d’ have to think playing on the hand he had surgery on just three days ago is troubling for a running back who also has a league high of five fumbles.

The hand issue is troubling enough for Dallas, but playing at home has oddly been their Achilles Heel. The Cowboys are 7-0 on the road, but are 3-4 at home. Like Dallas, the Colts are also road warriors winning six of seven on the road.

If Murray can’t run the same way he has all season, I’d trust the arm of Luck over Tony Romo.

 

Atlanta Falcons (5-9) @ New Orleans Saints (6-8)

The NFC South could send a 6-10 team to the playoffs (if you include the 5-8-1 Carolina Panthers who are second in the division).

The last time this happened was in the 2010-11 season when the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks became the first team in NFL history to advance to the playoffs with a losing record and miraculously defeated the 10-6 Saints in the Wild Card.

As pathetic and comical the NFC West played that year, I’m inclined to believe that Seahawks team could’ve won at least nine games in the 2014-15 NFC East.

On paper, both the Falcons and Saints are two of the more talented teams in the NFL. Dress Brees has gluttony of targets in New Orleans and Matt Ryan has a top-5 wide receiver in Julio Jones.

But the offense isn’t the issue with these two teams. It’s their defenses. The Saints and Falcons are ranked 31st and 32nd respectively in overall defense. In other words, first to 50 wins.

Eddie P’s Philosophical Take

Tennessee Titans (2-12) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12)

Wow. Thursday Night Football has not been much to watch this season, but this game takes the cake.

Both teams are 2-12 and share the AFC South cellar. Both are vying for the top pick in the 2015 Draft (along with the Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay Bucs). The difference between the Tennessee Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars? The Jaguars have their quarterback of the future in rookie Blake Bortles. Bortles has solid receiving options in rookies Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Marquise Lee. Also, the Jags two wins have come at home. Give me Shad Khan’s team.

Seattle Seahawks (10-4) @ Arizona Cardinals (11-3)

Arizona made a “statement” last week against the St. Louis Rams. The Cardinals will not be able to do the same this week. The Cards struggled against a “pretty good” St. Louis defense. The Seahawks are coming into the desert as one of the top defensively ranked teams. Seattle is first against the pass and fifth in run defense. Ryan Lindley will struggle mightily in his first start.

The Seahawks will be able to shut out the Cards and score points on the ground with Marshawn Lynch. Do not disregard Russell Wilson either. Despite their 31st-ranked passing offense, Russell will make key throws.

Words From Wooten

Detroit Lions (10-4) @ Chicago Bears (5-9)
It doesn’t get any better for the Chicago Bears. After a devastating loss at home against the Saints, now the Lions are coming into town with a top-5 defense to come take care of business.
Unfortunately for the Bears, Jimmy Clausen is now the starting quarterback after the benching of Jay Cutler. Of his 15 starts in his career, he has only won one game.
Brandon Marshall is injured so his weapons are not fully restored to where they should be. All in all, this will not be a pretty one for the Bears yet again.
Philadelphia Eagles @ at Washington Redskins (3-11)
The Philadelphia Eagles are looking to bounce back from a loss last week to their division rivals, the Dallas Cowboys. The Eagles had the lead and blew it. Now they’re going up against a Redskins team whose entire organization is questionable.
Mark Sanchez isn’t the best quarterback, but he seems to be holding his own against many teams he played this season. Look forward to him connecting on a few deep throws against the Redskins secondary.