Category Archives: NFL

The Entire DeflateGate Saga Can Only Be Described As Bizarre

Tom Brady prior to the 2015 AFC Championship Game against Indianapolis. He is the center of the DeflateGate controversy (Jim Rogash/Getty Images North America)
Tom Brady prior to the 2015 AFC Championship Game against Indianapolis. He is the center of the DeflateGate controversy (Jim Rogash/Getty Images North America)

The Entire DeflateGate Saga Can Only Be Described As Bizarre

By now you have surely heard about DeflateGate and the subsequent Wells Report stemming from the controversy at the 2015 AFC Championship Game on January 18, 2015.

Despite the claim of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady knowledge of the deflated balls as “more probable than not,” there are still plenty of backers in his corner.

But the real take away here is how bizarre this entire ordeal is.

Why did Brady (allegedly, there was no definitive proof) encourage the removal of air? The Patriots were far and away the better team in the game. On top of that, Brady actually performed better in the second half of that game with the properly inflated footballs.

That also begs another question. How long has the deflation of the footballs been going on for? A year? Since 2007 as some have suggested when Brady’s number went up dramatically?

Then we had that incredibly surreal press conference by Dr. Bill Belichick in the days following the breaking of the controversy. Belichick was cleared of any wrongdoing in the report by Wells.

Up next was the Patriots owner Robert Kraft demanding an apology if the Patriots were cleared of wrongdoing. Kraft will be waiting a long time for that apology from Roger Goodell.

Perhaps the most bizarre part of all this was the report itself. It took over three months to compile and release the report, which just happened to be immediately after the NFL Draft. It took three months for the NFL’s “independent investigator” to find that it was “more probable than not” that Tom Brady knew of deflation?

Seriously. The NFL wasted money to pay a firm for three months of work on an investigation that detailed the deflation of the footballs in the AFC Championship?

That money could have been spent, well, on a myriad of other things. It is not like the NFL has high-profile domestic abuse cases with Ray Rice and Greg Hardy, a child abuse case involving Adrian Peterson, an on-going concussion controversy, or a former player being accused and found guilty of multiple sexual assaults in multiple states.

It is good to see the NFL has its priorities correct. “Integrity of the game” extends well beyond the gridiron, but also into the cultural and societal circles as well, but do not tell that to Goodell.

Perhaps this is not bizarre at all. It is typical Roger Goodell and his delusional crusade of “protecting the shield” at all costs when it matters the least. It would have been nice to see him do this before when he had a chance to make a real statement (i.e. the Ray Rice Case). Now, anything he does it too little and way too late.

Everything Goodell does in terms of punishment for the “integrity of the game” will only be seen as way to make up for what he did not do last summer. If that is the case, how can he objectively dole out punishment?

2015 Conference Championship Predictions

Russell Wilson and the Seahawks are just one step away from another Super Bowl appearance (Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images North America)
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks are just one step away from another Super Bowl appearance (Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images North America)

2015 Conference Championship Predictions

We sit just two football games away from knowing which two teams will be squaring off in Super Bowl XLIX. The first game will feature the Green Bay Packers at the Seattle Seahawks. The second game is the Indianapolis Colts at the New England Patriots. The Wild Card was good with a 3-1 record based on the predictions made here. The Divisional round was a perfect 4-0 based on the predictions made last week. Let’s make it 2-0 again this week.

Green Bay Packers (13-4) at Seattle Seahawks (13-4) – 3:05 PM ET Saturday on FOX

The Packers escaped last week at home against the Dallas Cowboys with a 26-21 victory. That game, of course, was marred by the controversial call regarding Dez Bryant’s catch near the end zone. That would prove to be the difference.

Now the Packers have to contend with the Legion of Boom while Aaron Rodgers still has an injured calf. In last week’s game it was apparent that Rodgers was till feeling the effects of his calf tear. Rodgers went 24 of 35 for 316 yards with 3 touchdowns and no picks. Most impressive was his 13 yard touchdown strike to Richard Rodgers with 9:10 remaining in the game, which was a pinpoint throw between two defenders.

The Seahawks defeated Carolina 31-17 last week with a ridiculously impressive performance from Kam Chancellor. Chancellor was all over the field on Saturday night making tackles, nearly blocking field goals, and his 90 yard pick-six that sealed the victory.

Rodgers and the Packers will be up against the stingy Seattle defense and the rowdy crowd. They were crushed in week 1 when Seattle held the Packers to 255 yards of offense in a 36-16 win for the Seahawks. Marshawn Lynch had 110 yards and 2 touchdowns on 20 carries.

Prediction: Seattle’s defense, led by Chancellor and the Legion of Boom, will defeat the Packers 23-14.

 

Indianapolis Colts (13-5) at New England Patriots (13-4) – 6:40 PM ET Saturday on CBS

The second conference championship will feature the red-hot Indianapolis Colts taking on the New England Patriots.

The Colts are coming of back-to-back wins against Cincinnati and at Denver. More impressively, the defense stepped and confused Peyton Manning. Manning went 26 of 46 for 211 yards and only 1 touchdown. Andrew Luck has shown he was well worth the 2-14 season the Indianapolis fans endured in 2011. He has made nearly every throw and can beat teams with his feet as well.

Next up for the Colts is Tom Brady. Brady went 33 of 50 for 367 yards with 3 touchdowns and one interception last week against the Ravens. He also scrambled for a touchdown. All of this was done with the Patriots gaining only 14 yards on 13 carries as a team for the entire game.

Of course, many will point to the week 11 meeting in which the Patriots ran all over the Colts in a 42-20 win. Jonas Gray had his breakout game with 201 yards and 4 rushing touchdowns, as the Patriots piled up 503 yards of offense. However, Sunday’s game will be a bit different. Gray has not featured much in the offense during the latter portion of the season for the Patriots while the Colts have surrendered only 99 yards a game in their two playoff games.

Prediction: Andrew Luck has struggled against the Patriots with 6 touchdowns and 8 interceptions in three games. The Colts have been crushed in all three games including the Divisional playoff game last year. Luck has thrown for over 300 yards in each game, but will need to take better care of the ball if the Colts are to reach the Super Bowl.

Despite how impressive Andrew Luck has been in his short career, this game feels like it will be another New England victory and appearance in the Super Bowl. The Patriots come out on top 38-28.

 

Super Bowl XLIX

Based on the predictions above, Super Bowl XLIX will be between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots.

2015 NFL Divisional Round Predictions

Tom Brady and the Patriots face the Ravens in the playoffs for the fourth time (Robert Deutsch / USA TODAY)
Tom Brady and the Patriots face the Ravens in the playoffs for the fourth time (Robert Deutsch / USA TODAY)

2015 NFL Divisional Round Predictions

The Wild Card round was pretty dull until the final game between Detroit and Dallas. That game more than made up for lack of action with a flurry of missed calls and the penalty that was not midway through the final quarter. We can only hope that the Divisional Round produces as much excitement as the Lions-Cowboys game. After going 3-1 last week, let’s hope we can make it 4-0 this weekend.

 

Baltimore Ravens (11-6) at New England Patriots (12-4) – 4:35 PM ET Saturday on NBC

What a game to start the weekend with. The top seed in the AFC, the New England Patriots, will be playing the Baltimore Ravens at home for the fourth time in the playoffs. Baltimore has a winning record in the first three games at 2-1. However, those games came in the 2009-10 and 2012-13 seasons. The latest game between the two teams was in Week 17 of the 2013 season where the Patriots won 41-7 on the road.

What makes the Ravens so good at beating the Patriots is they get pressure on Tom Brady. Doing so again would be advantageous once again for the Ravens, but they also need quarterback Joe Flacco to keep excelling on the road. Flacco owns a 10-4 record in the playoffs and has 7 wins on the road.

For the Patriots, they will need to protect Tom Brady to have enough time for him to find his targets. His primary target will be Rob Gronkowski, but if the Ravens take him out of the plan the Pats still have a myriad of other options.

Prediction: While the Patriots are favored by a touchdown, this game feels like it is a field goal difference. The Patriots find a way to win 24-21.

 

Carolina Panthers (8-8-1) at Seattle Seahawks (12-4) – 8:15 PM ET Saturday on NBC

After last week’s expected win at home against Arizona, the Panthers travel to the Pacific Northwest to face the Seattle Seahawks. These two teams are familiar with each other as they have faced off during the regular season the last three years.

In 2012, 2013, and earlier in 2014, the Seahawks traveled to Carolina and won all three games. None of the games were high scoring with all three of them also being close until the end. The average score was 14 to 9 in favor of the Seahawks.

The one thing to note is that the Seahawks are now playing at home against the Panthers for this first time since 2010. The Seahawks won that game 31-14, but that seems like ages ago given how they have been built into a Super Bowl Champion. The Seahawks boast a 7-1 record at home this season while the Panthers have struggled on the road going 3-4-1.

Once again, this game figures to be defensive in nature, but the Seahawks are getting hot at the right time. They are winners of 6 straight and have yielded a total of 39 points in those 6 games. In only 1 game have they given up more than a touchdown. That happened to be on the road at Philadelphia.

Prediction: The combination of Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch (and how could we forget the defense?) will be too much for the Panthers. Seattle wins 27-3.

 

Dallas Cowboys (13-4) at Green Bay Packers (12-4) – 1:05 PM ET Sunday on FOX

This game will be dictated by how well Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers can play through his calf injury. He was clearly bothered in the season finale against Detroit and even missed some game time due to the injury. If he is at 90 or 95%, the Packers will be tough. However, we will not know who healthy he is until game time.

For the Cowboys, they look to continue their perfect road record for the season. They will be lead by DeMarco Murray, who led the NFL in rushing with 1,845 yards. He will be tested by the always dangerous linebacker Clay Matthews on the other end.

The Cowboys also have the dynamic Dez Bryant to catch passes from Tony Romo. Bryant was held to only 3 catches for 48 yards last week against Detroit, but he had 6 touchdowns in the final 3 regular season games.

The Cowboys are certainly not a popular choice after last week’s controversial game, but they have a shot if Aaron Rodgers is not healthy enough to make the passing game go.

Prediction: Rodgers is good enough to lead the Packers over the Cowboys, 28-21.

 

Indianapolis Colts (12-5) at Denver Broncos (12-4) – 4:40 PM ET Sunday on CBS

The Colts come into this game off a 26-10 win against a listless Cincinnati offense that struggled to do much on offense without A.J. Green. Now, they have to face the Denver Broncos on the road.

The two teams met in the season opener with Denver racing to a 24-0 lead before halftime and then led 31-10 midway through the fourth quarter. The Colts came back with two touchdowns in the in the final half of the quarter, but their rally came up short as they lost 31-24.

Andrew Luck had a solid game going 35 of 53 for 370 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 picks. He also ran in for a score. However, another two interception game would probably cost the Colts once again. Facing him on the defensive side for the Broncos is Brandon Marshall who returns after a foot injury.

Meanwhile, the Broncos have a bit to worry about with their quarterback Peyton Manning. There is little doubt he is still one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but the final quarter of the season have some concerned. In the final four games he failed to throw a touchdown twice and had 6 interceptions. His game at Cincinnati was particularly worrisome because he had 4 picks compared to 2 interceptions and appeared to not have the same velocity. The game time temperature for Sunday will probably be in the 30’s, which may be an issue.

Prediction: Andrew Luck and the Colts manage to go into Mile High and win 31-28.

 

Conference Championships

Based on the predictions above the conference championships would be:

AFC Championship: Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots

NFC Championship: Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks

Enjoy the wonderful playoff action this weekend!

2015 NFL Wild Card Predictions

Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers are a point of contention in the NFL Playoffs (Streeter Lecka/Getty Imgaes)
Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers are a point of contention in the NFL Playoffs (Streeter Lecka/Getty Imgaes)

2015 NFL Wild Card Predictions

This week has already seen two playoff games go in the books, albeit on the college level, but that means the 2015 NFL Playoffs are ready to kick into high gear. There will be four games this weekend with 2 on Saturday and another 2 on Sunday. Let’s take a look at the 2015 NFL Wild Card Predictions.

 

Arizona Cardinals (11-5) at Carolina Panthers (7-8-1) – 4:20 PM ET Saturday on ESPN

This game features the most controversial participant in the NFL Playoffs, the Carolina Panthers. Their record of 7-8-1 has caused loud claims of changing the seeding of teams in the playoffs. Regardless of that, Carolina still hosts a playoff game this weekend.

The Arizona Cardinals started 9-1 this season before finishing 2-4. That record, of course, is due to the loss of both Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton. Stanton had a small chance of playing in this game, but Bruce Arians ruled him out this week. The reins fall to Ryan Lindley, who has produced less than stellar play in his time at QB. Lindley has gone 45 of 93 for 562 yards with 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in the last 3 games. Lindley looked the best against San Francisco with 316 yards passing and 2 touchdowns, but he also threw 3 picks.

The Cardinals have also seen an injury to their top running back Andre Ellington. Ellington was placed on IR in early December and Kerwyn Williams stepped in to fill the absence. He has run for 246 yards on 53 carries and caught 2 passes for 11 yards and a touchdown. Stepfan Taylor will also see a bit of action in a backup role.

Meanwhile, Carolina went on quite the roller coaster this season. They started 3-2 and then went on a winless streak of 7 games to fall to 3-8-1. However, they were not out of the NFC South race and won their last 4 games to reach the Playoffs. They crushed New Orleans and Atlanta on the road while struggled at home with Tampa Bay and Cleveland.

The Panthers have Cam Newton at quarterback with his dual-threat ability. Newton was plagued by a lingering rib injury in the season opener before missing week 15 against Tampa Bay after being involved in a car accident. Newton has run 103 times for 539 yards and 5 touchdowns. Jonathan Stewart will the go-to back with 809 yards and 3 touchdowns on 175 carries. Newton has 2 primary targets in Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin. Both players have 1,008 yards receiving. Olsen has 84 catches and 6 touchdowns while Benjamin has 73 catches and 9 touchdowns.

Ultimately, this game will come down to the defenses. Arizona averages 19.4 points per game while giving up 18.7. The Panthers score 21.2 points and allow 23.4 points. This game does not have the feel of an excellent offensive showing for both teams. The run game for Carolina will be heavily featured while Arizona’s defense is hoping to get them to the Divisional Round.

Prediction: Carolina defeats Arizona 16-10.

 

Baltimore Ravens (10-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5) – 8:15 PM ET Saturday on NBC

This great rivalry continues here in the Wild Card round. These two teams have met in the playoffs three times previously (all in Pittsburgh) with the Steelers emerging victorious each time. In this game, the Steelers will be missing running back Le’Veon Bell, who was ruled out after injuring his knee in week 17 against Cincinnati.

The two regular season games in 2014 were dominated by the home teams. First it was Baltimore winning 26-6 while forcing 3 turnovers from Pittsburgh. The second game was Ben Roethlisberger’s second straight 6 touchdown passing performance in a 43-23 victory.

As big as Le’Veon Bell’s injury will be to Pittsburgh, it is important to note that Bell had only 79 rushing yards on 21 carries in the two games against Baltimore. He also caught 10 passes for 86 yards. Still, Bell was a workhorse in the final 6 games of the season and that production will certainly be missed.

It will take another big effort from Roethlisberger and All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown. Brown had 18 catches for 234 yards and a touchdown in the two games versus Baltimore. The Ravens have the 23rd ranked pass defense, which bodes quite well for Pittsburgh.

The Ravens will rely on big efforts from quarterback Joe Flacco and breakout star running back Justin Forsett. Flacco has thrown for a career highs of 3,986 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2014. Forsett has run for 1,266 yards in 2014, which is more than double his previous season-high he put up in 2009 (619 yards with Seattle).

Prediction: Pittsburgh beats Baltimore 23-20

 

Cincinnati Bengals (10-5-1) at Indianapolis Colts (11-5) – 1:05 PM ET Sunday on CBS

There is little doubt about Andy Dalton’s ability to lead the Cincinnati Bengals to the Playoffs. He has accomplished that feat in each of his first 4 season with the Bengals. However, when he and the Bengals reach the playoffs, it is a different story.

Andy Dalton has lost all three previous playoff appearances and has failed to play well. In fact, Dalton has gone 70 of 123 passing (56.9%) with 718 yards, 1 touchdown, and 6 interceptions. It is no surprise that Dalton has been the main reason why the Bengals have failed to win a postseason game the last three years.

Then there is the fact that Indianapolis crushed Cincinnati 27-0 at home earlier this year. The Colts held Cincinnati to 135 yards of total offense with Dalton going 18 of 38 for 126 yards and three interceptions. A.J. Green did not play in that game is doubtful for Sunday’s game as well due to a concussion. The Bengals hope that running back Jeremy Hill can shoulder some of the burden and provide more reasonable down and distances that do not affect the play calling too much.

The one area of concern for Indianapolis is that they were 2-4 against Playoffs teams in the regular season. Their two wins were against the Bengals and Baltimore, both at home. However, the Colts have looked better at home than on the road this season with the two losses coming against Philadelphia in week 2 and to New England in week 11.

Andrew Luck has certainly improved over his first three seasons and he looks to make it back-to-back years with a postseason victory. He has thrown for 4,781 yards and 40 touchdowns in 2014, both career highs. He should have some success against the Bengals who rank 22nd in pass defense.

Prediction: Indianapolis wins 34-23.

 

Detroit Lions (11-5) at Dallas Cowboys (12-4) – 4:40 PM ET Sunday on FOX

This is quite the intriguing matchup because playoff wins have been hard to come by for both teams. Dallas last won a playoff game in 2009 against Philadelphia, but prior to that, they had not won a playoff game since 1996 (Wild Card win over Minnesota 40-15).

Detroit, on the other hand, has not won a playoff game since the 1991 NFC Divisional Round against the Dallas Cowboys. Detroit is 0-7 since that victory with the most recent appearance being a 45-20 loss at the New Orleans Saints in 2011.

This game features strength on strength. Dallas boasts the second best rushing attack at 1471 yards a game led by DeMarco Murray while Detroit has the best rushing defense allowing only 69 yards a game. The Lions are led up front by tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.

Then there is the matchup of all-star receivers Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant. Johnson has 71 catches for 1,077 yards and 8 touchdowns while Bryant has 88 catches for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns. Bryant has been amazing in the last three games with 15 catches for 286 yards and 6 touchdowns. Do not sleep on Golden Tate for the Lions who is the leading receiver. He had 99 catches for 1,331 yards and 4 touchdowns in the regular season.

It would be remiss of yours truly not to mention how well Tony Romo has played this year. Romo’s worst games were in three of the four Dallas loses, predictably. Romo did not play against Arizona a game the Cowboys lost 28-17 at home. Part of that is undoubtedly due to Murray’s great rushing season (1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns) that has opened up passing lanes for the Romo.

Prediction: Dallas wins a thriller 31-27.

Divisional Matchups

Based on the predictions above the Divisional matchups would be as follows:

Pittsburgh at Denver

Indianapolis at New England

Carolina at Seattle

Dallas at Green Bay

Patriots Continue Hot Streak, Crush Broncos 43-21

Tom Brady continues his magnificent run with 4 more touchdown passes (Jared Wickerham / Getty Images)
Tom Brady continues his magnificent run with 4 more touchdown passes (Jared Wickerham / Getty Images)

 

The Patriots won their fifth straight game on Sunday and did so in impressive fashion against the powerful Denver Broncos. Tom Brady’s four touchdown passes led New England to the 43-21 pounding of the Broncos. All four of those touchdowns went to different receivers.

Despite the final score, there was little scoring to talk about in the first few drives. Stephen Gostkowski’s 49 yard field goal broke the deadlock midway through the first quarter to give the Patriots a 3-0 lead. Denver responded right away with Ronnie Hillman pounding the ball in from a yard out to give Denver the 7-3 lead.

The Patriots opened the second quarter with another Gostkowski field goal, this one from 29 yards out for a 7-6 deficit. The Pats defense stepped up on the following possession with Rob Ninkovich stepping in front of Demaryius Thomas and intercepting Peyton Manning. Four plays later, Brady hit Julian Edelman for a 5 yard touchdown and a 13-7 lead.

Edelman was not done in the second quarter. After seeing their drive stall at their own 31, the Broncos punted the ball. Britton Colquitt had trouble with snap, but managed to get the punt away. Edelman took the punt, made a stutter step, and then went down the sideline with a huge opening. He continued to make people miss and finally got in the end zone to make it 20-7. The punt return went for 84 yards.

The Broncos did well to move the ball on the next drive, but Brandon McManus‘ 41 yard field goal hit off the right upright and fell back to the field.

The Broncos marched back down to the Patriots’ 34 yard line and decided to go for it on fourth and six. Akeem Ayers, who has been with Patriots for only two games, made the sack and gave the ball back to New England. The Patriots made the most of it with Brady hitting Shane Vereen for a 5 yard touchdown strike with 11 seconds left in the first half. That made it 27-7 at the break and the Patriots had all the momentum.

The Patriots opened the third quarter with an interception when Bradley Roby made a diving interception. The Broncos turned the pick into a touchdown with Manning finding Julius Thomas for an 18 yard touchdown. The Pats hit a 45 yard field goal to to extend their lead to 30-14.

Manning would throw his second interception when Wes Welker could not hang on to the pass and was crushed on the play. Brandon Browner caught the ball and returned it to the 10 yard line. Welker was diagnosed with a back injury and would not return after that play. The Patriots made quick work of the interception as they only need one play, a 10 yard pass from Brady to Brandon LaFell, to make it a 37-14 game.

The Broncos cut the lead to 37-21 with Manning hitting Hillman for a 15 yard touchdown, but that would be all they could muster against New England’s defense.

The second play of the fourth quarter produced a spectacular one-handed catch from Rob Gronkowski to reach the one yard line. Gronkowski would get the honors on the next play with a one yard touchdown catch on a slant from Brady to make it 43-21. Brady’s two-point conversion to Edelman was stopped short of the goal line to finish off the scoring for the game.

Denver had chances to close the gap, but were stopped on fourth and goal from the New England 8 on the next drive. Two drives after that, Manning’s pass to Emmanuel Sanders was a bit too long and the Broncos once again turned it over on downs.

Peyton Manning went 34 of 57 for 438 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. The 57 attempts were a by-product of an awfully ineffective run game. The Broncos had 43 yards rushing on 17 attempts for a paltry average of 2.5 yards. The leading rusher was C.J. Anderson with 3 carries for 18 yards. Those 18 yards all came on the final three plays of the game. Ronnie Hillman ran 10 times for only 16 yards with a touchdown.

Emmanuel Sanders had another big game with 10 catches for 151 yards. Demaryius Thomas had 7 catches for 127 yards as the second leading receiver.

Tom Brady went 33 of 53 for 333 yards with 4 touchdowns and one interception. It was Brady’s 22nd career game with four or more touchdowns, which moved him into fourth all-time ahead of Dan Marino.

The Patriots did not have a great game rushing themselves with 66 yards rushing on 25 carries. Jonas Gray ran 12 times for 33 yards and Shane Vereen had 11 carries for 29 yards.

Rob Gronkowski led the way in receiving for the Patriots with 9 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. Julian Edelman had 9 catches for 85 yards and a touchdown to go along with the 84 yard punt return touchdown. Brandon LaFell caught 6 passes for 53 yards and a touchdown while Shane Vereen had 5 catches for 38 yards and a score. Even Danny Amendola had 2 catches for 35 yards and fullback James Develin caught 2 passes for 13 yards.

The Denver Broncos (6-2) will play their second of three straight road games next week. They will face fellow AFC West foe Oakland (0-8) next Sunday.

The Patriots will have a bye next week before returning on Sunday, November 16 to face the Indianapolis Colts on the road.

New England Decimates Chicago As Bears Freefall Continues

 

Rob Gronkowski had 149 yards and 3 touchdowns receiving to help pulverize the Bears (Jim Rogash / Getty Images)
Rob Gronkowski had 149 yards and 3 touchdowns receiving to help pulverize the Bears (Jim Rogash / Getty Images)

 

Tom Brady threw 5 touchdown passes, 3 to Rob Gronkowski, and the New England Patriots pulverized the Chicago Bears 51-23. Even the final score is misleading as the Patriots held 45-7 lead late into the third quarter.

The first Brady to Gronkowski pass came early in the first quarter form 6 yards out. The first quarter saw the Pats end up on the Bears one yard line and faced with a fourth and goal. The Patriots went for it and Jonas Gray was stuffed for a two yard loss, but New England was called for a false start. It was a blessing in disguise because the Pats kicked a 23 yard field goal to go up 10-0.

The New England offense continued to roll after a Chicago three and out. Brady hit Tim Wright from a yard out to make it 17-0. The Bears would finally muster a response with Jay Cutler finding Matt Forte on the wheel route out of the backfield to make it 17-7. However, the Bears would soon be faced with an onslaught to end the first half.

With under two minutes remaining, Brady and Gronkowski hooked up again with Gronkowski tapping both feet in bounds. The play was reviewed to determine if Gronkowski maintained possession and the official ruling was the call on the field stood.

After forcing a three and out, Julian Edelman returned the punt to Chicago 19 yard line for a 42 yard gain. On top of that return, a holding penalty was called against Chicago to put the ball on the 9 yard line. It took only one play for Brady to hit Brandon LaFell for the 9 yard touchdown strike and the Pats led 31-7.

The disaster continued for Chicago on the next play. Cutler was being sacked when he fumbled the ball with Rob Ninkovich picking the ball up and running it back 15 yard for a touchdown. It took a total of 57 seconds for the Patriots to go from a 17-7 lead to a 38-7 lead. Cutler’s desperation have on the final play was intercepted by Darrelle Revis to end the nightmare opening 30 minutes for Chicago.

The New England offense would not be stopped on the opening series of the second half. Brady hit Gronkowski, who shrugged off a defender and then ran into the end zone for his third score. The pass play was from 46 yards out and the Pats now led 45-7.

The Bears did manage to get to the Patriots’ 26 yard line, but Cutler’s fourth down pass to Alshon Jeffrey was incomplete. The Bears would get a second touchdown with Martellus Bennett‘s 20 yard touchdown catch on his back. The two point conversion was converted and the Bears only trailed 45-15 late in the third quarter.

The Pats opened the final quarter with Stephen Gostkowski‘s second field goal of the day before Cutler and Jeffrey hooked up for a touchdown. The Bears converted the two-point conversion again but were down 48-23. Following an onside kick, Gostkowski drilled home his third field goal of the day to cap the scoring at 51-23.

The thoroughness of New England’s domination over the Bears cannot be understated. The Patriots were 7 of 11 on third down and completed 87% of their passes. The receivers had little trouble getting open or being stopped.

Jay Cutler went 20 of 30 for 227 yards with 3 touchdowns and an interception. He also had the fumble that was returned for a touchdown late in the first half.

Matt Forte had 114 yards rushing on 19 carries while also catching 6 passes for 54 yards and a score. Martellus Bennett caught 6 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. Alshon Jeffrey had 5 catches for 59 yards and a score and Brandon Marshall was held to only 3 catches for 35 yards.

Tom Brady was incredibly effective. He went 30 of 35 for 354 yards and 5 touchdowns. Rob Gronkowski caught 9 passes for 149 yards and 3 touchdowns while Brandon LaFell had 11 catches for 124 yards and a score. Tim Wright had 7 catches for 61 yards and a touchdown.

Julian Edelman had a quiet day with only 1 catch for 14 yards. He was targeted four times, but it did not matter with the plethora of chance his teammates were getting.

Jonas Gray had the bulk of the carries with 17 for 86 yards. Shane Vereen ran only 5 times for 22 yards, but added 3 catches for 23 yards. James White had 6 carries for 17 yards.

Chicago (3-5) has lost four of their last 5 games with the last two against Miami and New England looking especially poor. They have a bye next week before traveling to face the Green Bay Packers for Sunday Night Football on November 9 in Week 10.

New England (6-2) are on a four game win streak after the poor showing in Kansas City in Week 4. There is no doubt that the talk in the aftermath of that game has spurred them to this point. They have a massive game next Sunday at home against Denver (6-1) before a bye in week 10.

Patriots Beat The Jets On Blocked Field Goal By Chris Jones

This article originally appeared on VAVEL USA.

Shane Vereen

Shane Vereen caught two touchdown passes against the Jets (Jared Wickerham / Getty Images)

 

 

Chris Jones blocked a field goal on the last play of the game to give the New England Patriots the 27-25 victory over the New York Jets in a thrilling game between the two teams.

The game started well for the Pats with their first drive going for a touchdown. Tom Brady hit Shane Vereen on a 49 yard touchdown pass on a simple go route as the defense was in shambles to make it 7-0.

The Jets responded with an excellent drive of 72 yards in 12 plays, but only came away with a 22 yard field goal to make it 7-3. That would be the theme for the Jets early on in this game. After a three and out for the Pats, the Jets got another field goal from Nick Folk, this time it was from 47 yards out and the score was 7-6 in favor of the Patriots after one quarter.

The Jets third drive ended with, you guessed it, a third field goal from Folk. The Patriots responded with a touchdown thanks in large part of Brady slinging the ball around. He eventually found Vereen for a 3 yard touchdown, his second touchdown catch of the game to make it 14-9. The Jets, however, were not done with the field goals as Folk hit his fourth of the game on the ensuing drive to make it 14-12 Patriots.

The Patriots had one last chance for points and Stephen Gostkowski made sure the Patriots took a 17-12 lead into the break with his 39 yard field goal.

The second half was much the same as the first with the Jets giving the Patriots all they could handle. The third quarter started with a statement drive from the Jets as they went 80 yards in 11 plays and took the lead on Chris Ivory‘s one yard dive over the top of the pile. The Jets took a 19-17 lead after opting for the extra point.

The Patriots recaptured the lead on their first drive of the third quarter when Gostkowski connected on a 36 yard field goal. Both teams would exchange punts to end the third quarter and to start the fourth quarter before the Patriots received the ball at the Jets’ 46 yard line.

The Pats quickly drove down to the Jets’ 3 yard line, but back-to-back penalties left them with a third and goal from the 19. That did not matter as Brady scrambled to his left on third and goal and hit Danny Amendola with a beautiful pass over the cornerback to take a 27-19 lead.

Once again, the Jets mustered an answer. They drove 86 yards on 12 plays with Geno Smith‘s 10 yard pass to Jeff Cumberland making it a 27-25 game. Smith’s pass on the two point conversion was too high and the deficit remained at two points with 2:31 left in the game.

With 1:06 remaining, the Jets go the ball back at their own 12 yard. An efficient drive by Smith ended with Folk’s 58 yard field goal attempt. That would be blocked by Chris Jones and the Patriots managed to survive against their arch-rival and AFC foe.

Geno Smith had a solid game by going 20 of 34 for 226 yards with a touchdown. Early in the fourth quarter, Smith’s left leg was rolled up on and he was in serious pain, but he only missed one play before coming back in. Smith was sacked three times for a loss of 21 yards, but he was effective running with 37 yards on 7 carries and picked up several key first downs.

Chris Ivory ran with passion and he finished with 107 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. Chris Johnson had 61 yards on 13 carries and was featured in the wildcat formation several times throughout the game.

Eric Decker led the Jets with 4 catches for 65 yards while Jeff Cumberland had 3 catches for 50 yards and a touchdown.

Tom Brady had another good game though the completion percentage was low. He went 20 of 37 for 261 yards and 3 touchdowns. Brady had one sack for a loss of a single yard.

Shane Vereen had 11 carries for 43 yards in place of Stevan Ridley. Jonas Gray was signed off the practice squad and ran 3 times for 12 yards.

Vereen was also the leading receiver with 5 catches for 71 yards and 2 touchdowns. Rob Gronkowski had 5 receptions for 68 yards while Brandon LaFell caught 4 passes for 55 yards. Julian Edelman had 4 catches for 44 yards, but uncharacteristically dropped several passes when he was wide open.

New York (1-6) continues their slide with their sixth straight defeat. They have 10 days to prepare for another AFC East rival in the Buffalo Bills on October 26.

New England (5-2) has now won three in a row and have a few tests in the coming weeks. On October 26, they take on the Chicago Bears at home and then follow that up on November 2 with another home game against the Denver Broncos. The Pats have a bye during Week 10

New England Patriots Lose Jerod Mayo and Stevan Ridley For Year

Jerod Mayo

Jerod Mayo will be out for the rest of 2014 according to sources (Photo credit to Jim Rogash / Getty Images North America)

The New England Patriots have gotten back to their winning ways, but not without costs. Sources told ESPN on Monday that linebacker Jerod Mayo and running back Stevan Ridley will both be out for the rest of the season. Both suffered the injuries on Sunday in the Patriots’ 37-22 win.

Mayo injured his right knee while Ridley has a torn ACL and MCL. The injury to Mayo is especially crippling to the defense that he helped strengthen since he joined the Patriots in 2008. The Patriots are ranked 4th in passing yards given up with only 208.5 yards a game. The run defense has given up 111 yards a game, which is good enough for 14th in the NFL. Those rankings are prior to the Monday Night Football game between San Francisco and St Louis.

Mayo had 52 tackles with one sack and a fumble recovery. Undrafted free agent Deontae Skinner will see some playing time and the Patriots are expecting Dont’a Hightower to return in a few weeks. Chris White and Darius Fleming could also see some playing time in Mayo’s absence.

Mayo was placed on injured reserve in 2013 after six games due to a torn pectoral muscle.

As for Ridley, he will be missed as well. He had run for 340 yards and 2 touchdowns on 94 attempts in this season. The week 5 win over Cincinnati was his best game with 27 rushes for 113 yards and a touchdown. Ridley has been a solid contributor for the Patriots run game in his first three seasons. He has a career total of 2,817 yards and 22 touchdowns on 649 rushes.

Filling in for Ridley will be a combination of Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden, and James White. Vereen has 216 yards and 1 touchdown on 42 carries, but can also catch out of the backfield with 18 receptions for 114 yards. Bolden and White are seldom used in the backfield, but that will change with Ridley’s absence.

The Patriots (4-2) take on their AFC East rival, the New York Jets (1-5), on Thursday night.

New England’s Offense Keeps Rolling Against Buffalo

This article originally appeared on VAVEL USA.

Tom Brady

Tom Brady threw for 361 yards against Buffalo (Photo credit to Brett Carlsen / Getty Images)

 

Thirteen days ago, New England‘s offense was left for dead after a 41-14 drubbing by the Kansas City Chiefs. Those fears were overblown in a typical media firestorm that loves to make mountains out of molehills.

Those worries have been allayed as the New England Patriots dominated the Buffalo defense in a 37-22 win on Sunday. It comes a week after they won 43-17 against the Cincinnati Bengals. For those keeping track, that is New England Patriots 80, opponents 39 in the last two weeks.

It has started with none other than Tom Brady. He went 27 of 37 for 361 yards and touchdowns against the Bills. He got help from everyone including Brandon LaFell, Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Brian Tyms, and Tim Wright.

Despite the high final score, it did not start out that way as neither team scored on their first two possessions. The Patriots had a chance to open the scoring on a field goal, but Stephen Gostkowski pushed it wide left. That miss came right after a false start penalty by Danny Aiken.

The Bills quickly moved to the New England 49 yard line. That drive ended in a hurry when Jamie Collins picked off Kyle Orton at the 39 yard line. The Patriots took full advantage of the turnover when Brady hit Tim Wright in the back of the end zone for the one yard score to make it 7-0 Patriots.

There was a lull in the action as neither moved the ball on their next drive, but Buffalo would tie the game with Orton’s 7 yard pass to Robert Woods in under 4 minutes remaining in the first half.

After a Patriots punt, Buffalo got the ball back with 2:15 left. On the first play, Orton was hit and sacked by Chandler Jones, who also recovered the ball. New England had 3 straight incompletions and settled for a 42 yard field goal from Gostkowski to make it 10-7.

The Patriots got another give with 14 seconds left. C.J. Spiller had a huge gain to the right, but was stripped by Devin McCourty and Zach Moore made the recovery. After a quick pass from Brady to Edelman, Gostkowski drilled a 53 yard field goal to make it 13-7 at the halftime break.

The Patriots received the ball to start the third quarter and they wasted no time adding to their lead. Tom Brady’s 43 yard pass into triple coverage was caught by Brian Tyms.

Buffalo had a response again with Orton using his arm to get the Bills down to the goal line. Fred Jackson pounded it in from a yard out to make it 20-14. New England came back with another Gostkowski field goal from 40 yards out to take a 23-14 lead.

The fourth quarter was more of the same with the New England offense continuing to be unstoppable, but Buffalo was always within striking distance until late in the game.

The Pats started the final quarter off with Brady hitting Brandon LaFell coming across on a little slant route. LaFell did the rest as the Buffalo defender was turnaround. That made it 30-14, but the Bills had yet another answer.

Faced with a fourth and two from his own 40, Orton decided to go deep for Woods and it paid off with a 35 yard gain. Two plays after that, Orton hit Chris Hogan on the sideline for a touchdown. Orton then hit Woods on the two point conversion at the goal line and it was good. It was 30-22 at this point.

Just when it appeared that the Bills had a little bit of life, Brady slammed the door closed. He found LaFell open behind the defense for a 56 yard touchdown to get to the final score line of 37-22.

The Patriots run game was very poor against the Bills. As a team they had 27 rushes for 50 yards with Stevan Ridley leading the team with 23 yards on 10 carries. That will surely have to change if the Patriots are to continue their offensive juggernaut ways in the immediate future.

LaFell finished as the top receiver for the Patriots with 4 catches for 97 yards and 2 touchdowns. Rob Gronkowski had 7 catches for 94 yards, but there was also a concern of an injury. In the third quarter, Gronkowski hit the turf hard and appeared to hurt his shoulder, but he continued on after that.

Julian Edelman caught 9 passes for 91 yards while Brian Tyms had that one catch for 43 yards and a score.

Kyle Orton had a solid game by going 24 of 38 for 299 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception. He was sacked 5 times for a loss of 31 yards as well.

Like the Patriots, the Bills had a tough time running the ball though they did a bit better than their counterparts. The team ran for 68 yards and 1 touchdown on 23 carries. Fred Jackson had 10 carries for 26 yards and the touchdown, Anthony Dixon had 7 carries for 23 yards, and C.J. Spiller had 6 rushes for 19 yards.

Scott Chandler had a big game at tight end with 6 catches for 105 yards. Robert Woods caught 7 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown while Chris Hogan had 5 receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown.

New England (4-2) have a short week with their rivals, the New York Jets (1-5) coming to town on Thursday night. It will be interesting to see the combination of short rest and the rivalry matchup affect how well the Patriots do on offense.

Buffalo (3-3) will welcome the Minnesota Vikings (2-4) to Orchard Park next week. The Bills are already 2-0 against NFC North teams this season with wins over Chicago (23-20 in Week 1) and Detroit (17-14 in Week 5). Both of those games were on the road.

NFL Overtime Format Proposal

On Sunday, November 24, 2013 we saw the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers play to a 26-26 tie. We also saw this happen in 2012 between the St Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers (finished 24-24 in Week 10). These both happened despite the new overtime rules which give each team a chance to win as long as neither team scores a touchdown. We almost saw the ultra rare two ties in a week happen until the New England Patriots hit a field goal with just over 2 minutes left in overtime to beat the Denver Broncos. The last time we had 2 ties in the same week was Week 2 in 1973.


 

What is most surprising about the overtime rules is that the NFL players do not know them. At the beginning of each overtime that is played in the regular season it is stated “we will play one (1) overtime period.” It cannot get any clearer that, but in order to avoid confusion from both players and fans alike I have an idea in where each game will end with a winner. Here is my idea:

1. Adopt the College overtime rule that both teams will get a possession regardless of whether the first team scores a touchdown or not.

2. Move the starting point back to the 50 yard line for NFL overtime games. (College overtime starts at the opponents 25 yard line).

3. Give each team one (1) timeout for each overtime period.

4. Require teams to go for 2-point conversions in overtime with no extra points allowed. (In college, teams are required to go for 2-point conversions starting with the 3rd overtime).

5. Play until you have a winner, thus eliminating ties.

The rules above are basically the college overtime rules, but there are a few modifications. If the NFL truly wants to make sure each team has a chance to win in overtime they might as well just move to the college overtime system. This way we can avoid the “I did not know an NFL game can end in a tie” debacle we saw from Donovan McNabb.