2017-18 NFL Championship Sunday Preview and Picks

by

Terri Bey

After a very exciting 2017-18 NFL Divisional Round Weekend, we are down to the proverbial Final Four for Championship Sunday, on January 21, 2018. Raise your hands, if you had the following quarterbacks in the Final Four: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots facing Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game, and Case Keenum and the Minnesota Vikings facing Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game.  Alright, put your hands down, because I KNOW none of my readers had this quartet of quarterbacks playing in the Final Four.  Like I have said in previous blogs, this NFL Season has been very strange, with injuries to top players, especially quarterbacks.  Nevertheless,  all four of these talented men worked hard to lead their teams to their respective championship games, and they and their teams deserved it.

These teams are one step away from Super Bowl 52 in Minneapolis, MN. There are many different storylines, and I plan to discuss all of them in this blog. Will the Jacksonville Jaguars ride the “disrespect” card all the way to Foxborough, and stun the defending Super Bowl champs? Will Tom Brady’s apparently minor hand injury be a huge factor? Will the Minnesota Vikings be the first team in NFL history to host a Super Bowl in their own stadium? Can the Eagles play the “underdog” card again to success? I will discuss this, and more, as I make my predictions for 2017-18 Championship Sunday.

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

  • Teams: (3) Jacksonville Jaguars at (1) New England Patriots
  • Network: CBS
  • Kickoff: 3:05pm, EST
  • Stadium: Gillette Stadium

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

The Jacksonville Jaguars got to the AFC Championship game by defeating the Buffalo Bills at home, 10-3. They won that game with a stifling defense, and the offense, led by QB Blake Bortles, did enough to win.  In the Divisional Round last week, the Jaguars defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers at Pittsburgh, 45-42. They faced a Steelers team, that once could argue, was caught asleep at the switch.  Whether several Steelers players were looking ahead to the Patriots, or  because of poor tactics by the Steelers’ coaching staff, particularly when it came to situational football and clock management, the Jaguars got out to a 21-0 lead, and never looked back.

The New England Patriots earned a bye week, due to their 13-3 record, and tie-breakers, so they didn’t play in the Wild Card Round.  In the Divisional Round, the Patriots faced the Tennessee Titans, who had come from a 21-3 deficit to stun the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City.  Some in the NFL media thought that the Titans could do the same, as Titans QB Marcus Mariota was a mobile QB, and the Patriots defense had issues with mobile QBs.  Well, in the game, the Titans jumped to a 7-0 lead, but that was about it for them. The Patriots tied it up, and then took a 14-7 lead, and took control of the game. Mariota was sacked 8 times during the game.  The final score was 35-14, in favor of the Patriots.

ANALYSIS AND FINAL SCORE:

Let’s start with the Jaguars.  Many players and media types have been making fun of Jaguars QB Blake Bortles, because of his stats.  Well, he has had his moments of lousy QB play over the years, but he has gotten his team to Championship Sunday. Bortles is a winner.  Bortles is excellent with the play-action passing, and is excellent on his feet. The New England Patriots defense must be aware of this.  RB Leonard Fournette is a ferocious back.  WR Marqise Lee is as solid a wide receiver as they come.

Of course, much has been made of this ferocious Jaguars defense, and they deserve their praise. This team with DE Calais Campbell, DT Marcell Dareus, DT Malik Jackson, and others, can put a frightening pass rush on QB Tom Brady.  The Jaguars have an excellent secondary, particularly CB Jalen Ramsey. This defense will be a tough test for the Patriots offense. The fact that this same Jaguars defense gave up 42 points to the Steelers last week, and over 40 points to the San Francisco 49ers a few weeks ago, during the regular season, does give me some pause, as to how impenetrable this defense really is.

Now, let’s discuss the Patriots. To get this “crisis” out of the way, per various sources in the Boston media, Patriots QB Tom Brady suffered an apparently minor right (throwing) hand injury at Wednesday’s practice, during a handoff.  He was with the medical staff, and skipped the Wednesday press conferences for Championship Sunday, that the four participating teams were doing. He suffered a cut, and X-Rays were taken, and they were negative (no structural damage. He returned to practice on Thursday, with gloves on both hands, during warm-ups. However, on Thursday’s injury report, he was listed as “Did Not Participate.” He did not participate in the team drills, and the team cancelled his Thursday presser. Brady will speak on Friday.  Reports have it that the injury isn’t expected to hinder him for Sunday’s game.  I am not worried, but how this injury affects Brady’s playing should be paid attention to, throughout the game.

All this being said, the Patriots offensive line must protect Brady, as this Jaguars defense is no joke.  I would suspect that FB James Devlin will be used to help with opening up the running game.  Brady needs to get the ball out quickly to his targets.  TE Rob Gronkowksi will need to be at his best for this game.  The Jaguars defense can be exploited by the use of tight ends.  The return of RB Rex Burkhead will be a help, because he is great at running the ball, and catching it.  WR Danny Amendola could help move the chains as well.

When the Patriots go on defense, they must stop Leonard Fournette, who is dealing with an injury of his own, an ankle injury, suffered against the Steelers.  He won’t be 100%, but he will be a threat, as Fournette is pretty much the Jaguars’ entire offense. Once the Jaguars get Fournette going, they can get QB Blake Bortles starting with the play action. The Patriots defense must take away Fournette, and make Bortles beat them with his arm.  The Patriots defense must watch out for Bortles’ ability to get yards and first downs with his feet, as well.  The Jaguars are very aggressive, as far as going for it on 4th down, if it’s close, so the Patriots need to watch out for that.

Yes, I am aware of the “Tom Coughlin” effect, as he is with the Jaguars as an executive. Yes, I know that Coughlin’s Giants beat the Patriots twice in the Super Bowl.  However, the players are the ones who play the game.

FINAL SCORE:  Even with a sore hand and maybe a glove,  I think Brady will lead the Patriots to another Super Bowl appearance.  Patriots 27-17

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

  • Teams: (2) Minnesota Vikings at (1) Philadelphia Eagles
  • Network: FOX
  • Kickoff: 6:40PM, EST
  • Stadium: Lincoln Financial Field

HOW THEY GOT THERE:

The Philadelphia Eagles earned the #1 Seed by virtue of having the best record, and a tie breaker over the Minnesota Vikings, who have the #2 Seed.  The Eagles had the bye, so they didn’t play in the Wild Card Round. The Eagles, despite QB Nick Foles having an uneven game, defeated the visiting Atlanta Falcons with their defense and running game, by a score of 15-10.  Both teams were sloppy, but that Eagles defense prevented a last attempt at victory by the Falcons, by knocking away a would be game winning TD thrown to Atlanta WR Julio Jones by QB Matt Ryan to end the game.

The Minnesota Vikings, like the Eagles, earned the other first round bye, and were the #2 seed. They also did not play in the Wild Card Round. They got to the NFC Championship Round by winning one of the most exciting NFL playoff games in history.  The Vikings had lead by 17 points over The New Orleans Saints, when Saints QB Drew Brees led a ferocious comeback, and near the end of the game, the score was 24-23, Saints.  With about 10 seconds left on the playclock, Vikings QB Case Keenum throws the ball to the sideline, and WR Stefon Diggs catches it, and Saints DB Marcus Williams tries to tackle Diggs, but goes low, and Diggs jumps over Williams, and scores the winning touchdown. It was an amazing, miraculous victory for the often snakebitten Vikings franchise.

ANALYSIS AND SCORE:

For the Minnesota Vikings to win this game, QB Case Keenum will have to be very careful with the ball. The Eagles have an opportunistic, aggressive defense, and Eagles defensive coordinator Jeff Schwartz will have them ready. I expect TE Kyle Rudolf to have a big game. WR Adam Thielen has missed a day of practice, due to a back injury, but has returned this week. He is a definite threat to make big plays. Keenum needs to make plays to his playmakers.  The Vikings defense must harass Eagles QB Nick Foles all day long. They must stop the Eagles’ running game, especially RB Jay Ajayi.

For the Philadelphia Eagles to end up in the Super Bowl,  their defense has to get after Keenum. They have to stop WR Stefon Diggs, and especially Thielen.  QB Nick Foles must be able to play much better than last week. He was atrocious. I am surprised that Eagles coach Doug Pederson DIDN’T pull him out. Foles can not throw interceptions. He must protect the ball. The Eagles need to rely on RB Jay Ajayi, and RB LeGarrette Blount, if they want to make it to Super Bowl 52.

FINAL SCORE: This is a tough game to predict, because both teams have excellent defenses. I am going to go with the Philadelphia Eagles by a score of 20-16.

Therefore, my prediction for Super Bowl 52 is New England Patriots vs the Philadelphia Eagles, or a rematch of Super Bowl 39.

Well, that is my blog. I hope you enjoyed it. Feedback is welcome.

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2017-18 NFL Divisional Round Picks

by

Terri Bey

Well, if you read my picks for last weekend’s NFL Wild Card picks, I went 2-2.  The Kansas City Chiefs fell to the Tennessee Titans. The Buffalo Bills lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars.  The Atlanta Falcons beat up on the Los Angeles Rams, and the New Orleans Saints just held off the Carolina Panthers.  I had the Saints, and the Jaguars picks correct. I should have suspected that the Chiefs would lose at home, as they hadn’t won a playoff game in 5 previous home playoff games. The loss of Chiefs TE Travis Kelce, and the team’s conservative playcalling, in that they didn’t run the ball in the second half doomed them. Some very strange calls by the refs didn’t help either.  In the Rams loss, lack of experience doomed them. QB Jared Goff and the offense never got to a great start, and never got going. The more experienced Falcons took over the game. In the very ugly Jaguars win over the Buffalo Bills, that Jaguars defense really carried the day.  QB Jake Bortles was virtually useless as a passer that day, and ran more yards than he passed.  The New Orleans Saints organization was very lucky that Sean Payton’s playcall on 4th and 2 near the end of the game didn’t come back to bite them in the rear end. Had Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton completed that Hail Mary, there would have been a ton of second guessing in the off-season. The Saints-Panthers game was the best game of the entire weekend. The game did have a controversy over the concussion protocol, as Panthers QB Cam Newton stumbled to his knees, after a huge hit. Per the concussion protocol, he was supposed to be taken to the locker room, and he wasn’t.  He was diagnosed with an eye injury.  There are allegations that he went down to his knees to give backup QB Derek Anderson more time to warm up. The NFL is investigating this incident.

Now, that I have recapped last weekend’s NFL’s Wild Card weekend, I am now moving on to this weekend’s NFL Divisional Round.  This weekend’s matchup is going to be very interesting, and I think there are very intriguing storylines in each game. We are going to see a couple of regular season rematches, and a couple of teams trying to “shock the world.”  So, without further ado, here are my predictions for the 2017-18 NFL Divisional Round.

NFL DIVISIONAL ROUND:

Saturday, January 13, 2018:

  • Conference: NFC
  • Teams: (6) Atlanta Falcons at (1) Philadelphia Eagles
  • Stadium: Lincoln Financial Field
  • Kickoff: 4:35,PM, EST
  • Channel: NBC

Analysis: For the first 13 weeks of the NFL regular season, the Philadelphia Eagles were flying high.  QB Carson Wentz was the leading candidate for the regular season MVP. The team was running on all cylinders, in all three phases of the game. In Philadelphia, the “City of Brotherly Love,”  there was talk of Super Bowl, and all that. However, Week 14 against the Los Angeles Rams came, and Wentz tore his ACL, and many of the hopes and dreams of Eagles fans were torn as well.  Backup QB Nick Foles comes in, and even though the Eagles still have the #1 seed, and home field advantage throughout the playoffs, they don’t appear to be the same team, after Wentz went down. They appear to miss Wentz’ leadership. The team doesn’t have the same swagger, when they had Wentz. My question concerning this team is, can they pull themselves together, and beat an Atlanta Falcons team that appears to be coming together at the right time?

In speaking of the Falcons, I was very impressed with their win against the Los Angeles Rams. They looked poised, and were definitely the more experienced team. I realized the Falcons, especially QB Matt Ryan were a bit of a roller coaster during the regular season, after all, they did choke away a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl 51. However, I think the team is starting to come together. I know that WR Julio Jones has missed some practice time, but I think he will have a good game against that Eagles defense.  That Eagles defense has not been all that impressive, during the last few regular season games.

Prediction: The Philadelphia Eagles could surprise me, and win this game, but I don’t trust QB Nick Foles, especially against that fast Atlanta Falcons defense. I think this will be a close game, with Atlanta winning 27-23.

  • Conference: AFC
  • Teams: (5) Tennessee Titans at (1) New England Patriots
  • Stadium: Gillette Stadium
  • Kickoff: 8:15PM, EST
  • Channel: CBS

Analysis: The Tennessee Titans got to Foxborough, by defeating the Kansas City Chiefs. This is a team that has a good offensive line, and a good running back in Derrick Henry. Their main “workhorse,” RB Demarco Murray will not play in this game, so Henry will be the focus of the offense. QB Marcus Mariota, this season, has not been the quarterback he has been in the past. I don’t know if it is the injury he suffered last year, or what, but regardless, he has led his team to the playoffs. The Titans defense has problems with tight ends, and has some problems with running backs. This is why I was perplexed, when the Chiefs stopped running the ball last weekend in the second half.  This is a team to take seriously.  I am sure the Patriots are taking them seriously.

The defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots have a 13-3 record, despite losing many top players to injured reserve, such as LB Donta’ Hightower, and WR Julien Edelman. The Patriots have also been hit with injuries to their offense and defense throughout the year. During the latter part of the regular season, QB Tom Brady’s been dealing with Achilles, left shoulder, and hand issues, as well. However, here they are, ready for Saturday’s matchup with the Titans, and according to reports, as healthy as they ever were.  Even though the team has been dealing with some unnecessary outside distractions, as of late, this team will be ready for Saturday.  The team expects to have WR Chris Hogan, RB Rex Burkhead, and DT Alan Branch back for this game.

Prediction:  This will be a hard-fought game.  I expect a very close game.  Patriots Coach Bill Belichick will try to stop Titans RB Derrick Henry, as he is pretty much the Titans’ offense, and allow QB Marcus Mariota try to beat the Patriots throwing the ball. The Titans defense will try to throw Tom Brady off of his mark, and pressure him up the middle. The Patriots offensive line needs to protect Brady.  In a close, low scoring game, I see the New England Patriots winning by a score of 21-17.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

  • Conference: AFC
  • Teams: (3) Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers (2)
  • Stadium: Heinz Field
  • Kickoff: 1:05PM, EST
  • Channel: CBS

Analysis: This is the first of two regular season rematches.  The Jacksonville Jaguars soundly defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 5, by intercepting Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger five times, and won by a score of 30-9.  Based upon the play of the Jacksonville defense, I am sure they will try to duplicate the same performance. The wild card is the play of QB Blake Bortles. There have been cases, where Bortles HAS played outstanding. However, and I hate to sound cynical, but I just don’t see it happening here, especially at Heinz Field. I don’t think that Jaguars defense is going to pick off Roethlisberger five times.  They may get one or two, but not five.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a way better team, then they were in Week 5. Ben Roethlisberger is playing much better, than in Week 5.  Despite his drama about “maybe not having it anymore,” Roethlisberger will not be the same guy this Sunday, and he will have WR Antonio Brown and RB Le’Veon Bell available to him.  The Steeler defense will be very difficult for Blake Bortles.  I don’t see Bortles having a good game against them, even if  CB Artie Burns can’t go, due to his knee injury, that he suffered in practice this week.

Prediction: The Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2007-08 season defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in both the regular season and in the post-season, a Wild Card game, after which the Jaguars were defeated by the New England Patriots in the Divisional Round.  However, I don’t see that happening this time around.  The Jaguars have a capable defense to make this a close game, but I just don’t see Bortles being able to carry this team to victory over a superior Steelers team.  The Steelers advance to the AFC Championship game by a score of 24-10.

  • Conference: NFC
  • Teams: (4) New Orleans Saints at (2) Minnesota Vikings
  • Stadium: U.S. Bank Stadium
  • Kickoff: 4:40PM,EST
  • Channel: FOX

Analysis: The Minnesota Vikings have been playing well in all three phases of the game all season. One of the surprises on the team is QB Casey Keenum.  His play has been lights out for the team, and is one of the reasons that the Vikings are the #2 Seed.  Head coach Mike Zimmer has the defense in a great position.  The Vikings also want to be the first team to play in a Super Bowl in their home stadium, as U.S.Bank Stadium will be the host stadium for Super Bowl 52.  Can the Vikings’ stout defense stop Drew Brees and his high-flying offense, like they did in their first meeting in Week 1?

The Saints come into this game, with a heart-stopping win over the Carolina Panthers in last weekend’s Wild Card game. Saints QB Drew Brees is red-hot, and so are his running back tandem of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. The Saints defense, and the entire Saints team, for that matter are much better than the one that the Minnesota Vikings faced on Week 1.  In the early part of the regular season, no one knew what to think of the Saints. However, as the season progressed, the Saints became the powerhouse team that we are seeing now.

Prediction:  I expect to see a much more spirited and competitive game, than in the first matchup.  This should be a high scoring game. I don’t think neither team will run away with this game.  A more energetic Saints team will show up on Sunday.  However, I do feel that the home team does have a better defense, so I will go with the Minnesota Vikings to win 35-28.

Well, those are my picks for the 2017-18 NFL Divisional Round. I hope you enjoyed the blog. Feedback is welcome. Thank you for reading it.

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2017-18 NFL Playoffs: Wildcard Weekend Predictions

by Terri Bey

Now, that the 2017-18 NFL Regular Season is over, it is time to march toward Super Bowl XLII in Minneapolis, Minnesota. That march start this weekend, with Wildcard Weekend. On Saturday, January 6, 2018, the Tennesse Titans will take on the Kansas City Chiefs on the AFC side, and for the NFC side, the Atlanta Falcons will take on the Los Angeles Rams. Sunday, January 7, 2018, the Buffalo Bills will play against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Carolina Panthers will go up against the New Orleans Saints. The winners will move onto the Divisional Round next week to face the teams, who earned either a #1 seed or a #2 seed, and a bye. The #1 seed will play the lowest remaining seed, and the #2 seed will play the highest remaining seed.

I love playoff time, because anything can happen. There are upsets in the Wild Card Round, like the 2014 Indianapolis Colts’ coming from 28 points behind, and defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2014-15 Wildcard Round. There was the 24 point comeback by the San Francisco Giants over the New York Giants, led by QB Jerry Garcia in a January, 2003 Wild Card game. There are so many other famous upsets on the way to the Super Bowl, not counting the game itself. Will there be one this weekend? Will there be any during the playoffs? As I make my picks in this blog, and in upcoming blogs, we shall see as the playoffs roll along.

So, without further ado, here are my picks and predictions for this weekend’s Wild Card playoff games. I hope you will enjoy them, and give me feedback.

Wild Card Weekend: Saturday

  • Conference: AFC
  • Teams: (5) Tennessee Titans at (4) Kansas City Chiefs
  • Stadium: Arrowhead Stadium
  • Network: ESPN
  • Kickoff Time: 4:35pm, EST.

Analysis: The Kansas City Chiefs have had an up and down year, to say the least. In their first five games, they were lighting the world on fire. They knocked off the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patiorts on opening night. The experts even crowned the Chiefs as the new kings of the AFC. Of course, reality decided to bite, as we know who has the #1 seed, and home field advantage throughout the playoffs on the AFC side. Also, the Chiefs had a six game slide, where they lost 5 of 6. Lately, they turned it around, and have won the AFC West.

Chiefs QB Alex Smith may very well be on his way out of Kansas City, but he has had a very good season. He is throwing the deep ball very well, considering that has been a knock on him, his whole career. The team has TE Travis Kelce, who an execellent player, and a very dependable target. WR Tyreek Hill has been a tremendous player, and asset for this team. An illness has gone through the lockerroom, so it will be interesting to see whether it will affect their play in Saturday’s game. I am also more concerned about coach’s Andy Reid’s decision making as well, especially in critical situations.

The Tennessee Titans have been like a roller coaster, especially on offense. They won’t have RB DeMarco Murray, which is a shame, since Kansas City’s defense is vulnerable to the run. Their backup RB Derrick Henry didn’t have much luck against the stingy Jacksonville Jaguars defense in Week 17. Titans QB Marcus Mariota hasn’t lived up to his initial promise. I really don’t see him doing a lot against the Chiefs’ defense, even without S Eric Berry. I don’t think the Titans defense can hold down the Chiefs’ offense, either, especially since the game is at one of the loudest stadiums ever, at Arrowhead Stadium. It is noted that the Titans defense does very well against plays longer than 10 yards.

Winner: The Titans ran into a Jacksonville Jaguars team that was not playing well to just make it into the playoffs. The Kansas City Chiefs are not the Jaguars. The Kansas City Chiefs take this by a score of 28-13.

  • Conference: NFC
  • Teams: (6) Atlanta Falcons at (3) Los Angeles Rams
  • Stadium: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
  • Network: NBC
  • Kickoff Time: 8:15pm, EST.

Analysis: It was a struggle for them for a while, but the Atlanta Falcons made it back to the playoffs, after suffering one of the most crushing collapses in Super Bowl history, when leading Super Bowl 51 by a score of 28-3 with about 17 or so minutes left in the entire game, and a 98% chance of winning it. In that game, the Falcons watched as the New England Patriots came back, and won in overtime. It was like watching Secretariat in the 1973 Belmont Stakes, and seeing jockey Ron Turcotte fall off in the late stretch. New Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkesian appeared to have a hard time dialing up plays to get WR Julio Jones the ball.

However, as the season went along, the offense started clicking, and the defense improved. The team will have star RB Devonta Freeman , who was on the injury report with a knee injury. He has been removed. Falcons QB Matt Ryan, who has been a bit up and down, appears to be coming into form. The Falcons defense has also improved, and has been able to throttle down offenses lately.

The Los Angeles Rams have a very potent offense. The team has MVP candidate RB Todd Gurley, and QB Jared Goff. Coach of the Year candidate Sean McVay has the team buying into his system. Their defense is very good. My question is their playoff experience. Some folks think it doesn’t really matter. I do. Can this young team handle the pressure, and the ups and downs of a game, where it is win or go home?

Winner: Can the Falcons stop Rams RB Todd Hurley? They slowed down QB Cam Newtown in Week 17, but Todd Hurley is really special. Hurley is on a tear. Can the young Rams defense stop Devonta Freeman? Which Matt Ryan will we see, as he has been uneven all season. From the way he has played over the regular season, you’d never know he was the MVP from last year. This is one of the harder games to predict. I am going with the Los Angeles Rams by a score of 35-20.

Sunday:

  • Conference: AFC
  • Teams: (6) Buffalo Bills at (3) Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Stadium: Ever Bank Field
  • Network: CBS
  • Kickoff Time: 1:05pm, EST

Analysis: As most of my readers know by now, the Buffalo Bills broke their seventeen year old playoff drought, and are in the playoffs. Now, that they are in, let’s see what chance they have. QB Tyrod Taylor has had an uneven season, but he has played well enough in the latter part of the season to lead the team into the playoffs. The problem that the Bills might have is whether RB LeSean McCoy will be available for the game. McCoy injured his right ankle against the Miami Dolphins in the Week 17 game, and was carted away. He has yet to practice, as of this writing. Bills coach Sean McDermott said earlier this week, that McCoy “has a chance to play,” and as McCoy is out of the boot, I am going to go out on a limb, and say that if McCoy makes the trip, he’d be a true game time decision. The Bills’ chances of winning would increase greatly, if McCoy can play. The Bills also have a very good defense, led by DT Kyle Williams.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have a very stout defense. They have been pretty much carrying the team throughout the season. However, their offense has been pretty competent, in spots, during the season. Embattled Jaguars QB Jake Bortles has been a bit of a roller coaster all season. In the beginning, Bortles was a total mess, but in the middle of the season, Bortles had a very good stretch of games, where he looked like he had turned the corner. The last few games, the Jaguars have not looked all that good, losing to the San Francisco 49ers, and to the Tennessee Titans, so I am not so sure which Jaguars we will see on Sunday.

Winner: I am expecting a defensive battle between these two teams. There is also the element of Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone, being the former Bills head coach. Marrone left the Bills, and after some time away, became the Jaguars coach. I don’t think that will play into the game too much. Anyway, as to who wins this game depends on what Jaguars team will show up, and whether the Bills will have LeSean McCoy. No McCoy, and it will be very tough for the Bill. The game is at Jacksonville, and they are also breaking a ten year drought, so they will have a lot of emotion If Jaguars Blake Bortles and the team’s defense have one of their good games, then I think it will be a long day for the Bills. Both teams are going to be very emotional. I will take the Jaguars in this game, in a low scoring affair, by a score of 18-13.

  • Conference: NFC
  • Teams: (5) Carolina Panthers at (4) New Orleans Saints
  • Superdome
  • Network: FOX
  • Kickoff Time: 4:40pm, EST.

Analysis: For the the third time this season, and now, post-season, the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints will meet. The Saint won both regular season meetings this regular season. The Saints have a young, but very good defense, that has been able to keep Panthers QB Cam Newton in the pocket, and keep him from running outside the pocket. The Saints also have a pretty formidable QB in Drew Brees. The teams’ two running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara are outstanding. Both running backs have been great in the running and passing game.

The Carolina Panthers got on a slow start offensively, during the regular season, thanks to QB Cam Newton’s recovering from off-season shoulder surgery. Once Newton got over his surgery, he started playing like the 2015 MVP that he was, but then the offense took another hit, when TE Greg Olsen suffered a severe foot fracture. Olsen was put on IR for 8 weeks, missing both games against the Saints, and eventually returned to the Panthers starting lineup. Olsen will be a huge asset for the Panthers for Sunday’s game.

The Panthers have a very good defense, led by LB Luke Kuechly, and DE Julius Peppers. The Panthers defense will have their hands full, in trying to stop that potent Saints offense. Can Panthers head coach Ron Rivera outwit Saints coach Sean Payton? That will be another game within the game to watch.

Prediction: It is difficult for a team to defeat another team three times. However, it has been done. The 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers defeated their AFC North rival Baltimore Ravens in both their meetings in the 2008 regular season, and in the 2008-09 AFC Championship Game on their way to becoming Super Bowl 43 Champions. Can the Saints do the same? Can the Carolina Panthers turn the tables, and defeat their rival? As much as I think the return of Greg Olsen may make some difference, and the young defense of the Saints may will under the pressure of the playoffs, I think the Saints are a better team. QB Drew Brees has too many weapons. The New Orleans Saints will defeat the Carolina Panthers 35-24.

Well, these are my Wild Card picks. Feedback is appreciated. Enjoy the games.

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The Aftermath of the 2017-18 NFL Regular Season

by

Terri Bey

Happy New Year to all, who are reading this.  I hope that the new year will bring peace, health, and prosperity to all.  I hope that we all can come together, and solve our problems together, despite whatever differences we have, in the new year.  My hope is for people to find common ground, in order to solve their problems. There is too much division among us, and we need to unite, and not fight one another. We need to think as one big football team, in other words, and fight our problems together. That is my hope and prayer for the new year.

In speaking of football, the 2017-18 NFL Regular Season just wrapped up on December 31, 2017, and what a year it was. The year consisted of surprise performances by teams, a very high number of injuries to star players, a very high-profile team firing a coach mid-season, the President and Vice-President using the NFL as a political pawn, the usual mind-numbing Tom Brady bashing, and much more. The playoff races in both the NFC and AFC conferences went down to Week 17, and several teams broke their playoff droughts, most notably the Buffalo Bills, who had not been to the playoffs since 1999. Eight new teams made the playoffs, which also made this year very exciting. On the other hand, there were also the coaches and staff, who lost their jobs, as well as the Browns going 0-16.

In this blog, I plan to discuss the highs and the lows of the 2017-18 NFL Regular Season. I will go into some of the rather preposterous events of the season, as well.  This season overall, has been a very weird season, and has had some ridiculous things happen, so I thought I would talk about that. I hope my readers will enjoy this blog, and feedback is welcome.

THE HIGHS OF THE 2017-18 NFL REGULAR SEASON: 

The Los Angeles Rams’ Turnaround:

The turnaround of the Los Angeles Rams and their QB Jared Goff shows what a difference a new coach can make. If I had a vote, I would vote Sean McVay Coach of the Year.  Last year, under former coach Jeff Fisher, this team looked like they weren’t going anywhere. I thought Jared Goff was going to be a bust, even though he was a rookie. It was as if Fisher was afraid to put Goff on the field. The Rams hired Sean McVay, and Goff looks like a brand new QB. McVay has NFL MVP candidate RB Todd Hurley looking like himself, and the entire Rams team is buying in.

Playoff Droughts Being Broken:

Several teams broke playoff droughts. The Jacksonville Jaguars, who have a ferocious defense, made the playoffs this year, after being absent since 2007.  The Tennessee Titans made the playoffs, as well. The Titans’ last playoff appearance was the 2008 Season.  It has been 2004, since the now L.A. Rams made the playoffs. In 2004, they were the St. Louis Rams, and Hall of Fame RB Marshall Faulk was on the team.  The Rams break a thirteen year drought.

However, one team that made the playoffs has broken a drought that was a little bit longer than the Rams. That would be the Buffalo Bills. They have not made the playoffs since 1999, seventeen years ago. The fact that the Tennessee Titans have also made the playoffs is very interesting. In 1999, the last time the Buffalo Bills were in the playoffs, they played at Tennessee. The Titans won that game via a trick special teams play, famously known as the “Music City Miracle.” (https://youtu.be/Pfz4JViRkoA ) I seriously doubt it would happen, but an AFC Championship game between these two teams would be very interesting, considering this history between the two teams.

Anyway, what is really miraculous is how the 2017 Buffalo Bills got into the playoffs.  They nearly missed their shot, when starting QB Tyrod Taylor was benched by coach Sean McDermott for the rookie QB Nate Peterman against the Los Angeles Chargers. Peterman rewarded McDermott by throwing 5 interceptions.  QB Tyrod Taylor got his job back.  Fast forward to Week 17, and the Bills needed to win against the Miami Dolphins, which they did. There was another scenario, where they could have gotten in, but it didn’t work out. However, they could get in, if the Ravens lost to the Cincinnati Bengals.  Well,  in the fourth quarter, the Bengals were at 4th and 12, and the Ravens were leading.  Bengals QB Andy Dalton heaves a pass, and it was the winning touchdown pass. The vaunted Ravens defense collapsed, and the Bills were in the playoffs.

THE LOWS OF THE 2017-18 NFL REGULAR SEASON:

Injuries to High Profile Players:

Let’s put it this way.  If you play in the NFL, there is a huge chance you will suffer a serious injury during your career. That is a fact. However, I have never seen a season, where there were SO MANY high-profile players who went down with season ending injuries.  New England Patriots’ WR Julian Edelman was lost in the pre-season.  You can make a football team with all the players lost for the season. New York Giants WR O’Dell Beckham,  Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, in essence, Philadelphia Eagles QB and NFL MVP candidate Carson Wentz, New England Patriots LB Donte’ Hightower, and many more have been lost for the season. Fans want to see the stars, and even though the NFL is a “team oriented” league, these injuries do impact the product, and fan interest to a certain extent.

NFL’S Consistent Mishandling of Concussions:

The NFL doesn’t seem to understand that concussions are a serious deal. They either refuse to understand that concussions are serious, or they just don’t care.  The mishandling of Houston Texans QB Tom Savage’s concussion, and Seattle Seahawks QB Russ Wilson’s situation are perfect examples of this.  Here was Texans QB Tom Savage, on live TV, seizing, as his hands were trembling, and not only was he briefly checked out in the blue tent, but he went back into the game!  Seahawks QB Russ Wilson went briefly into the tent, after getting knocked down by Arizona’s Karlos Dansby, and did not go through the concussion protocol, and went right back into the game, after missing just one play. The Seattle Seahawks were fined $100,000, and their coaching and medical staffs have to take remedial classes about the concussion protocol.  The kicker here, is that the Texans did NOT get any punishment at all.  Of course, if this happened to a certain team that I won’t mention, I think we all would know what the punishment would be.

The concussion protocol has been changed, thanks to the situation with the Texans. While that is all well and good, I don’t understand why their QB Tom Savage wasn’t removed from the game immediately?  Someone should have been watching him on the sidelines. If fans could see on their High Definition televisions that Savage’s hands were shaking, and was obviously knocked for a loop, I don’ see why someone on the Texans sideline couldn’t see that Savage was in no condition to be put back in that game.  What is so disappointing also, is that the Texans didn’t even get punished.  That is a shame.

Again, the NFL doesn’t get it.

THE INANENESS OF THE 2017-18 NFL REGULAR SEASON:

The NFL vs the White House:

The NFL has been involved in a ton of situations, such as paying for patriotism, or spending two years and $40 million dollars to smear its greatest player over air in a football, denying physics and looking stupid, while doing it. However, I would never think that the NFL would find itself in a fight with businessman, and “The Apprentice” host Donald J. Trump, who was elected President of the United States, and his Vice-President, Michael Pence a former Republican governor of Indiana on November 8, 2016.  This fight was over African-American players kneeling during the National Anthem, in protest over racial injustices, inspired by now former San Fransisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick, who kneeled during the anthem in a Green Bay vs San Fransisco pre-season game in 2016, which started this mass hysteria.

In a speech in Kentucky, earlier in this season, despite the fact that the mis-named “anthem protests” had died down, President Donald Trump used his dog-whistle tactics by calling the predominantly African-American players, who were kneeling, “sons of bitches,” and that they should be “fired.” Here is the video of Trump’s remarks, so Trump supporters can not say that I am making it up, or say the “fake news” catchphrase: https://youtu.be/vrW-GI_9IL8    Well, Trump’s remarks inflamed many players, and even some of the NFL owners, who not only voted for him, but contributed to his campaign, such as Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, Patriots owner Bob Kraft, and many others.  Trump’s dog-whistle remarks to his base galvanized some owners and players to lock arms in unity, and some players did kneel.

Of course, the REAL reason that President Trump pulled this stunt, is revenge on the NFL for not being allowed to buy the Buffalo Bills when they were up for sale. The NFL’s refusal to sell Trump the Bills stems back from when Trump owned the United States Football League’s (USFL) New Jersey Generals. The USFL was a league to challenge the NFL, which lasted from 1983-85. The USFL was an alternative league. To make this point, short, when the USFL was having various issues in 1985, such as TV licensing, ownership, and financing, New Jersey Generals owner Donald Trump, and a few other owners had urged the USFL to switch the 1986 season to a fall season to directly compete with the NFL, which the USFL did. The reasoning behind Trump’s bright idea was to force a merger between the NFL and the USFL.  Suing the NFL for antitrust violations, and for being a monopoly in 1986 was the other part of this wonderful plan, concocted by Generals owner Mr. Trump. Well, even though the USFL won $3 dollars in treble damages, and proved its case, that was the end of the USFL.  The USFL went under, and the 1986 season was never played. Donald Trump virtually destroyed the USFL singlehandedly, so why would the NFL want to sell him a team?   Now, he is the most powerful man in the world, he is using his position to be a bully, and is trying to get back at a league that denied him ownership.

The real truth about these “anthem protests,” that the media keeps calling them, is that they are NOT protesting the anthem. These players are protesting racial injustices. The United States is supposed to live up to its ideas of freedom, liberty, and justice for all.  All means every citizen, regardless of whomever.  It is 2017, and people are still seeing blacks, women, gays, whites, men, straight, etc., as inferior? Can’t we get past this, and unite?

The Mind Numbing Tom Brady Bashing:

This Brady bashing never ends, does it?  Let’s start with the great MVP season he has had.  He threw for 4577 yards, 32 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, and QB rating of 102.8. This was a great season. I am not going to try to compare this season to his past seasons, because those are in the past. Yes, we ALL KNOW he is 40 years old.  That fact is brought up redundantly.  I don’t know if we have a country that hates greatness, or what, but instead of sportswriters giving some praise, all I see is redundant Brady bashing.  It really is getting to be stupid.  I mean, from the prop MVP candidates by many commentators, mainly the talking heads on ESPN, and from former players pulling the “anyone but Tom Brady for MVP,” routine, to the “what’s wrong with Brady” takes that have been going on lately.  Tom Brady also has been unfairly attacked by supposedly “tolerant” liberals, because of his association with President Donald Trump.

Look, I know that Deflategate nonsense, yes, it was nonsense, has sadly made Brady an easy target, while players like Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger, who was suspended 6 games, reduced to 4, back in 2010 for alleged sexual assault , former NFL QB Michael Vick, who spent 2 years in jail for dog fighting, get passes by not only these commentators like FS1’s Nick Wright, Rob Parker, and many others, but NFL fans.  Brady had that bad game in Miami on December 11th, and I shut down all media. The reason was that I knew automatically what these folks were going to say. “Brady’s washed up.” “It was all Brady’s fault.”  I took occasional peaks all week, and they said exactly that.  Roethlisberger threw five picks against the Jaguars earlier this year, and had his usual, “Oh woe is me.” bit, saying, “Maybe I don’t have it, anymore.” The talking heads like Stephen A. Smith, Nick Wright only spoke about that one day, two days tops. Brady’s bad Miami game was talked about all week.  I mean, let’s get real.

As to the “what’s wrong with Brady” routine, yes, he hasn’t been on fire, like he was earlier this year, particular this past December. Is he banged up with that Achilles injury, and some sort of hand/shoulder issue? Yes. However, again, I think people are overreacting.  Much of the offense has been out the past few weeks. RB James White is fighting an ankle injury. WR Chris Hogan is fighting a shoulder injury. RB Rex Burkhead is out with a knee injury.  I am NOT excusing the un-Brady-like interceptions, that one in Pittsburgh, a game I attended, was a bad decision on Brady’s part, but I think some of them are due to some of the receivers, namely Kenny Britt, not being on the same page, or getting open.  Can Brady play better? Yes, but so can the rest of the offense, and hopefully with the bye, the team can get some, if not all of the missing pieces back, especially a re-activated Malcolm Mitchell.

Well, that concludes my review of the 2017-18 NFL Regular Season. I hope you enjoyed reading it, just as much as I enjoyed writing it.  Feedback below:

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The 2017 Week 15 Game between the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers, from a fan’s perspective

by

Terri Bey

I attended the Week 15 matchup between the visiting New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field, on December 17, 2017, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon.  The game more than lived up to its billing. It was like a playoff atmosphere. During my three-day stay in Pittsburgh, the locals were just desperate for their Steelers to beat the Patriots. I could hear on the radio of my SuperShuttle driver all the analysis, and blather from the commentators from The Fan, about “Deflategate,” and that nonsense.  The hatred for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick was very palpable.

Regardless, Pittsburgh Steeler fans wanted this win.  As you know by now, they didn’t get it, as the New England Patriots won, 27-24.  Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few days, barely anyone, both people in the mainstream sports media or fans, were talking about how Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski was just outstanding, or how Patriots QB Tom Brady engineered another amazing comeback. No one talked about how great Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger played, either.  The talk of the town, post-game was the so-called “controversial call” that supposedly gave the Patriots the win.

In this blog,  I will be discussing the whole game, and my personal experience at the game. I am going to make every attempt to clear up much of the narrative that has developed from the game.  I realize that I am likely not going to accomplish that goal, but I am going to make an attempt. I hope you enjoy this blog, and feedback is welcome.

Let’s get into the game itself.  I will talk about the so-called “controversy” later, but I want to talk about the actual game. This was a great game. Yes, the ending gave this game a roller coaster type of feel, but I thought that both teams played well, particularly the offenses.  QB Ben Roethlisberger had an outstanding game.  He threw for 282 yards,  2 touchdowns, and 1 interception.  Roethlisberger had amazing command of that offense. He threw a great TD to WR Eli Rogers, over the head of New England Patriots DB Stephon Gilmore.  RB Le’Veon Bell had a great game as well, as he ran for 117 yards on 24 carries, and scored a TD.  The Steeler defense did a pretty good job in pressuring Patriots QB Tom Brady, and even getting an INT, which led to a Steelers TD.  They weren’t exactly perfect, though. They couldn’t cover Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski to save their lives. It was ridiculous how Gronkowski just bullied the Steelers’ defenders around.  It was, though, very disappointing to see WR Antonio Brown suffer a calf injury.

Now, let’s discuss the New England Patriots.  The Patriots defense really needs BOTH DT Alan Branch and LB Kyle Van Noy to return as soon as possible. It really showed in the game, especially on that 60 yard plus scamper by Pittsburgh Steelers WR JuJu Smith -Schuster during the last minute of the 4th quarter.  However, to give credit where credit is due, I have to give a ton of credit to Patriots CB Malcolm Butler for his game saving tackle of Steelers WR  Darrius HeyWard-Bey in bounds, and then Patriots S Duron Harmon seals the game for the victorious Patriots, when he intercepted Ben Roethlisberger in the end zone.  This bend-but-don’t break defense can give Patriots fans heart failure at times.

As for the Patriots’ offense, the offense definitely was happy to have TE Rob Gronkowski back from his 1 game suspension, thanks to his bone-headed decision to slam his elbow onto Buffalo Bills CB Tre’Davious White.  As I said earlier, Gronkowski was awesome, and just ran all over the Steelers’ defensive backs.  Gronkowski caught 9 catches for 168 yards, and scored the 2 point conversion.  When the team doesn’t have WR Julien Edelman, Gronkowski becomes all the more valuable.  Before I continue, I do want to say that I hope that Gronkowski has learned his lesson, and no matter how upset he gets at the refs, he can’t take it out on a defenseless player, after the play was over.  His absence last week against the Miami Dolphins, who predictably laid an egg against Buffalo this past week, really hurt the team.  I want to add that the reaction to the Gronkowski hit by many in the media, and by fans was WAY over the top.  I am referring to folks calling for “jail time,” and “4 game suspension,” and “thrown out of the NFL permanently,” and such.  The Mike Evans hit on that Saints player was just as bad, and I didn’t see any of this mass hysteria.

Now, that I have discussed Gronkowski, let’s get to Patriots QB Tom Brady, who had a great game. I don’t know what else to say about him. Now, his stats were good, and even though they weren’t as flashy as usual, but his command of the offense was awesome. Brady threw for 298 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception.  The interception was just a bad decision by Brady. He should have taken the sack. However, on that first drive, when he just marched the offense down that field, and score, I thought it was a sight to see. Brady played a lot better than what the stats showed.  Yes, WR Brandin Cooks got out of bounds in a couple of plays, but Brady put the ball where they needed to be, on those long passes.  Tom Brady was awesome on the winning drive. The Steelers had a chance to pick him off right before the final 2 minute warning, and seal the victory for the Steelers, but the defensive back dropped the ball.   The connection that Brady has with Rob Gronkowski is amazing.  As I previously said, the Steelers defense failed to double team Gronkowski.  RB Dion Lewis ran in for the game winning TD, and Brady threw the successful 2 point conversion to Rob Gronkowski.  Brady won his 56th game in December as well, and with the victory, the Patriots won the AFC East.

Now, I will discuss the alleged “controversy.”  What happened makes the Pittsburgh Steelers look like the Keystone Cops from my view of the game.  After the 69 yard scamper by Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster,  QB Ben Roethlisberger is making some sort of pirouette movement, and it looked like he was calling “Time out.”  The refs gave them the time out. Unfortunately for the Steelers, it was their final time out.  Roethlisberger throws the ball, and TE Jesse James grabs it, and falls on the goal line.  James did NOT make a “football move,” as if he were a runner. Jesse James acted like a receiver.  The place was going nuts.  Well, referee Tony Corrente and the other referees go under the hood to review.  Now, everyone knows that all scores are reviewable.  Now, there is no conspiracy to screw the Pittsburgh Steelers here, as that is the rule. What are the Steelers doing?  I saw Ben praying, and the rest of the offense standing around, during the 3 plus minutes it took the referees to review the scoring play.  What were the Patriots defense doing?  They were preparing for the next play with their coaches.  Well, lo and behold, as everyone knows, the TD is reversed.  The REASON it is reversed is because Jesse James did NOT have full control of the ball, and the ball did not “survive the ground.”  A receiver MUST have FULL control of the ball all the way to the ground. What I am saying is that the ground can cause an incompletion, which it did.  https://youtu.be/18GWrZLOpAA

After the TD was called back, the Pittsburgh Steelers looked very unorganized, and confused. Roethlisberger threw a slant to WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, but Patriots CB Malcolm Butler made a great tackle inbounds, to keep the clock running.  Roethlisberger appeared to try a fake spike play, and when Steelers WR Eli Rogers made a move to the end zone, Roethlisberger, instead of clocking it, threw it into triple coverage, and the ball was intercepted by Patriots Safety Duron Harmon.  It just appeared to me, that the Steelers thought that the referees were going to automatically give them the TD. They didn’t seem prepared for the possibility that the touchdown would be reversed. A well coached team should always be prepared for any situation that might come up. As I mentioned, the Patriots were preparing for the possibility that the call would be reversed, during that 3 minute wait.  This is the difference between a Belichick coached team and a Tomlin coached team.

As for the fuss that is being made, the “catch” rule is stupid, and I am not arguing with anyone, who said that it is stupid. I feel that the rule was applied correctly.  In the first game of the season, Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski also had a TD taken away because of the same rule.   https://youtu.be/AtYDkz7Kkm4     I didn’t see a bid to do about that.  Besides, there was many opportunities for the Steelers to win this game.  Yes, I will mention it again.  The failure of the Steelers secondary to double team Gronkowski was an opportunity wasted.  The failure to intercept Brady right before the second 2 minute warning, in my opinion, was a huge opportunity to put the game away.  The Steelers’ not being prepared in those last, dying seconds of the game, and Ben’s terrible decision to throw the ball into triple coverage really hurt the team.  The entire Steelers’ staff’s failure to have plays available for crucial situations at the end of that game also cost them the game.  It is easy for Roethlisberger and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin to point fingers, and it is easy for folks to point fingers at the referees, and the “evil” Patriots.  I just listed several reasons that are more likely the cause of the Steelers’ demise in Week 15 than the nonsense I am hearing, such as “the NFL favors the Patriots.”  I mean, really? Are haters talking about the SAME NFL that spent over 40 million dollars, and 2 years to sit Tom Brady one quarter of the 2016 Season over something the weather did?

Anyway, as of this moment, the Steelers lost the inside track to the #1 seed mainly because of arrogance, mistakes at the wrong time, and poor preparation for situational football.  I hope you enjoy this blog, and feedback is welcome.

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Post Breeders’ Cup Reaction: Disappointment

This blog is essential reading. The long time fans of horse racing NEED to read this blog. Please stop ruining the sport for potential fans.

The Casual Galloper

Gun Runner wins the Stephen Foster before taking the 2017 BC Classic

The title is self-explanatory to some degree: I am extremely disappointed and it’s not because my favorite horse didn’t win (he actually did).

Breeders’ Cup is a time to celebrate the best that racing has to offer, and this year, it has fallen remarkably flat. Why?

Because this year, we had an owner who thought he could threaten to sue a committee that refused to enter his first time starter into a World Championship and then laughed at them over their concern for her safety like a money-hungry lunatic for days. His best finish was a fourth placing for the weekend, but yes, let’s jeopardize our sport by entering a filly without the first clue as to what she’s doing into a bullpen she’s not prepared for at all.

Because we have fans of a certain red, chromey…

View original post 311 more words

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My Thoughts of the 2017-18 NFL Mid-Season

by

Terri Bey

I know it has been awhile since I have last written, but I am back.  I am going to write about the surprises, and disappointments of the 2017-18 NFL Mid-Season. There are teams, who were expected to tank, and are succeeding, and there are teams, who are lousy, who had high hopes put upon them. There were unexpected trades, and players, and very high-ranking government officials having tirades. I will be discussing all this, and give out my mid-season awards.  I hope you will enjoy this blog, and feedback is welcome.

THUMBS UP:

The Philadelphia Eagles being 7-1.

This is very surprising to me, as well. I wasn’t completely sold on them in pre-season, but they proved me wrong. QB Carson Wentz is playing at an MVP-like level, and that defense is outstanding. Head coach Doug Peterson has this team playing at a very high level.  Now, that they are without their left tackle, it remains to be seen how long they can remain at this high level.

The Buffalo Bills at a surprising 5-2.

The Buffalo Bills have a new head coach, Sean McDermott and general manager, Brandon Beane.  They were one of the teams expected by experts to tank. Well, whatever coach McDermott is doing, it is working wonders. QB Tyrod Taylor is having a very good season.  RB LeSean McCoy is having a great year running the ball. They even bettered their team by trading with the Carolina Panthers for WR Kelvin Benjamin.  The Bills only a half game behind the New England Patriots in the AFC East standings. If they continue to play like this for the rest of the season, the AFC East could send two teams to the playoffs.

Tom Brady is playing lights out at age 40, and carrying the New England Patriots to a 6-2 record.

What else can I, or anyone else say about the ageless Tom Brady.  As of this writing, Brady leads the NFL in passing yards, completions, and total offense,  He is second is passer rating, and TD/Int %.  The man is third in pass touchdowns. (https://twitter.com/MarkDanielsPJ/status/925766348373979136 )  Tom Brady, yet again, is having an MVP-like season. With absences from key players, like WR Julian Edelman on offense, and now LB Don’ta Hightower on defense for the season, in addition to a very leaky defense, Brady has pretty much carried the team to a 6-2 record.

Many experts, including the teams’ own fans have complained that this is not “the same Patriots.”  I guess, if they’re not constantly blowing out teams, that must mean the team’s no good. Well, for my money, a win is a win.

THUMBS DOWN:

The New York Giants are a giant mess.

Wow. Where to start on the New York Giants.  Does GM Jerry Reese know that QB Eli Manning is aging, and needs an offensive line to protect him? I mean, all quarterbacks need good offensive lines, regardless of age, but particularly one that is 36, and is not exactly mobile.  OT Ereck Flowers is horrendous as an offensive lineman.  Awful.  That 2007 Championship offensive line are not walking through that door.  Coach Ben MacAdoo also doesn’t seem to know how to run a team, either. It takes 4 or 5 straight losses for him to finally give up play calling duties?  MacAdoo’s suspending players for rather minor infractions is a bit questionable, as well. I think he and Jerry Reese need to go.

The Indianapolis Colts’ mishandling of QB Andrew Luck’s shoulder.

This is another team with a huge mess.  Had former GM Ryan Grigson drafted some good offensive lineman to protect the team’s valuable quarterback, perhaps all this could have been prevented. Of course, injuries do happen, and Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck could have still torn his labrum in his throwing shoulder.  No one is guaranteed to be safe from injury in this sport.  That being said,  I feel this whole thing was mishandled from the get go.  Colts owner Jim Irsay should not have promised fans that Luck would be ready by the beginning of the season. I don’t think that was right. I also think Irsay put the team in a bind, because when the season was getting closer, and it was getting obvious that Luck wouldn’t be ready, the team had to scramble to get a QB that could start, and a backup. Fortunately, and ironically, the New England Patriots traded away QB Jacoby Brissett to the Colts, and helped the Colts out.

Of course, Irsay and the Colts have been promising Colts fans and season ticket holders that Andrew Luck is going to play for the past few weeks, and reports have been coming out that Luck is still in pain, and has been taking cortisone shots. Well, now the poor guy is on IR, and won’t play this season. I was suspecting that  he wouldn’t play.  I just think this whole situation was mishandled.  It was a poor way for the Colts organization to treat fans.  It was terrible public relations.

THE WEIRD STUFF, IN OTHER WORDS, WHAT THE BLEEP?

Every QB Opening that is filled is turned into a headline about Colin Kaepernick.

I am tired of the year-plus controversy over former San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick. Every time a quarterback job comes up, I cringe, because Kaepernick wont get it for whatever reason, and members of the media, particularly Shaun King, will create headlines about Kaepernick to further an agenda. Many of these writers will cry “collusion,” and play the race card. In fairness to Kaepernick, he has filed a complaint of collusion against the NFL.  Look, I feel badly for the guy, but not everything is about race. It is possible that Kaepernick isn’t all that good? Maybe he doesn’t fit the specific team’s offense.  Kaepernick is a scrambling type of  QB.  Many of the teams needing a QB don’t have that kind of offense.  I am just tired of hearing about Kaepernick.  That being said, I am tired of people whining about what Kaepernick did, and the movement he started, as well.

New England Patriots trade away backup QB Jimmy Garappolo.

This had to have been the most shocking trade of the season.  The New England Patriots traded away their backup QB Jimmy Garappolo for a second round pick to the San Francisco 49ers.  This trade had Patriots fans reeling. The only good thing about the trade is that it looks like QB Tom Brady will retire a Patriot.  The 49ers released QB Brian Hoyer, and the Patriots signed him, as Hoyer had backed up Brady before, and knew the system.  For Kaepernick supporters,  this is what I am talking about.  Kaepernick would not have fit the Patriots’ system, and Hoyer knows it, already, so that is why Kaepernick was not signed to the Patriots.  Anyway, I am not happy with this trade, as I think Garappolo would have been a nice replacement for Brady, once Brady finally retired. I am not sold on the belief that Garappolo is the next franchise QB, like some people think, but he would have been a nice replacement.  I mean, the man only played 6 quarters, before getting hurt.  You have to be available to prove yourself as a top quarterback in the NFL.

MY MID-SEASON AWARDS:

MVP  of the Mid-Season- Tom Brady (Patriots)

Offensive Player of the Mid-Season- Akeem Hunt (Chiefs)

Defensive Player of the Mid-Season- Joey Bosa (Chargers)

Rookie of the Mid-Season- DeShaun Watson (Texans)

 

Terri Bey can be contacted: @GioPontiFan  http://www.facebook.com/missedgehead

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