NFC North Preview

nfc north

The NFC North is the proud new owner of the highest paid player in the NFL. No, it’s not Aaron Rodgers (even though it should be). That distinction now belongs to Detroit Lions quarterback, Matthew Stafford. With a deal like this, you’d think the Lions represent the NFC in the Super Bowl every year. Not so much. Who do you think they are..the Patriots?? Oh, we finished the AFC Preview??

If you missed any of my AFC preview, keep scrolling down….

And now, let’s kick-off our NFC Preview with the NFC North:

Last Season’s Standings:

Green Bay Packers: 10-6

Detroit Lions: 9-7

Minnesota Vikings: 8-8

Chicago Bears: 3-13

You know the drill. Worst-to-first….

Chicago Bears

Da’ Bears are going to be really, really, REALLY bad this year. The Bears recently gave the nod to Mike Glennon to be their starting quarterback Week 1. 1st round draft pick (#2 overall pick), Mitchell Trubisky, will await his turn on the bench. Don’t get too comfy Mitch, for I think your shot will come sooner rather than later. Whoever is under center will lack the basic offensive weapons necessary to succeed. Wide receiver, Cameron Meredith, tore his ACL in Week 3 of the Preseason, leaving Kevin White atop the receiver depth chart. No offense Kevin but, wait yes, I do mean offense.  If Kevin White is your #1 receiver, you’re in trouble.

Key Additions: Kendall Wright, Mitchell Trubisky (Draft), Mike Glennon

Key Losses: Jay Cutler, Alshon Jeffrey, Eddie Royal

Detroit Lions

Monday evening, Matthew Stafford reportedly agreed on a 5-year extension with the Detroit Lions. This deal will make the 29 year-old quarterback the highest paid player in the NFL. SAY WHAT?! Yes, you read that right. Matthew Stafford is set to make 27 million dollars per year. The reported 92 million dollars in guaranteed money would be the highest of any contract in NFL history. And does all this mean the Lions will be good this season?? It most certainly does not!! Expect an extremely average performance by Mr. Stafford and company.

Key Additions: T.J. Lang, Greg Robinson, D.J. Hayden 

Key Losses: Anquan Boldin, Larry Warford, Riley Reiff 

Minnesota Vikings

Oh Minnesota. What could have been?? To start 5-0 and miss the playoffs is not easy to accomplish. They won’t however, have to worry about starting 5-0 this year. The Vikings still have a stellar defense, and they upgraded their running game, but they will only go as far (stop me when you’ve heard this before) as their quarterback will take them. And as long as their quarterback is Sam Bradford, they won’t reach the outer limits of their city. Expect them to finish smack dab in the middle of the league. But hey, who doesn’t want to spend their life in purgatory??

Key Additions: Latavius Murray, Dalvin Cook (Draft), Riley Reiff

Key Losses: Adrian Peterson, Matt Kalil, Chad Greenway 

Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers. A staple in the NFL. They show up, they win games, they go home. It sounds simple, but it’s not. Aaron Rodgers just makes it look easy. Aaron Rodgers’ teams haven’t been blessed with top-5 defenses or running games, but he goes to the playoffs every year (they haven’t missed the playoffs since 2008). That is quite a feat in the NFL. And this season, after losing talent from his defense and offensive line, Rodgers will prove, yet again, why he should be the highest paid player in the NFL. Expect a deep run in the playoffs this year.

Key Additions: Martellus Bennett, Jahri Evans, Davon House

Key Losses: Eddie Lacy, Julius Peppers, T.J. Lang 

 

This Season’s Predictions:

Green Bay Packers: 11-5

Minnesota Vikings: 7-9

Detroit Lions: 6-10

Chicago Bears: 3-13

Anyone disagree with my predictions?? If you do, you may want to have that looked at….

I see an upset Lions fan yelling at me in the near future.

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2017 NFL Draft 1st-Round Review

adams

Well that didn’t go as planned. Despite months of draft analysis from experts, and countless mock drafts, the 1st-round of the 2017 NFL Draft was as unpredictable as the weather (Mel Kiper and Todd McShay do look a lot like meteorologists today). In between the plethora of boos hurled at Roger Goodell, the 1st-round provided more twists and turns than the Taconic Parkway (New Yorkers know what I’m talking about). There were multiple trades and many players rose or fell from their projected draft spots.

No surprise at the top, as the Cleveland Browns selected Myles Garrett from Texas A&M with the 1st overall pick. The Browns evening didn’t end there. They traded the 12th pick to the Houston Texans for the 25th pick and the Texans 1st-round pick in 2018. The Texans drafted Deshaun Watson from Clemson at 12 while the Browns drafted Jabrill Peppers from Michigan at 25. I don’t love either pick, as I think Watson, despite his outstanding career at Clemson, is an undersized quarterback who lacks the arm strength to succeed in the NFL . Peppers is a ‘tweener’ (safety/linebacker) who comes with baggage after failing a drug test at the NFL combine. The Browns then traded back into the 1st-round by shipping the 33rd pick and a 4th-round pick to the Green Bay Packers for the 29th pick. The Browns selected David Njoku from Miami. Njoku was the 3rd tight end selected in the 1st-round, and while I like the player, I wonder who will be throwing him the football this year….

Of the many trades from Thursday night, my favorite was the 1st one (for the 49ers that is). New 49ers General Manager, John Lynch, swindled the Chicago Bears. There is no other way to put it. The Bears traded up 1 SPOT, from the 3rd to 2nd pick, giving up 3rd and 4th-round picks from this year as well as a 3rd-round pick in 2018. Only problem is, the Bears LITERALLY didn’t have to do that. How did that conversation go?

Lynch: Listen Chicago, we’re getting multiple offers for the #2 pick here. If you can’t give us 3 valuable draft picks to move up only 1 spot, I’m afraid you’re going to miss out on your guy.

Ryan Pace (Bears GM): That sounds extremely fair. Now we can get Mitch Trubisky! You want me to throw in my 1st-born child too?

Yes, you heard that right. The Bears gave away the farm, to move up 1 spot, to draft a guy that was going to fall to them anyway. Even if Trubisky ends up being good, he simply is not worth such a high draft pick. He has only started 13 games at the collegiate level! The 49ers then drafted Solomon Thomas from Stanford, who yup you guessed it, is the guy they wanted anyway! Nice work Chicago. The 49ers, like the Browns, weren’t done for the evening. They moved back into the 1st-round by sending Seattle their 2nd and 4th-round picks in exchange for the 31st pick. John Lynch continued to impress in his 1st draft as the 49ers selected Reuben Foster of Alabama, who despite off-field issues, is regarded as one of the most talented players in the draft. The other major trade from last night saw the Kansas City Chiefs trade the 27th pick, a 3rd-round pick, and their 1st-round pick in 2018 to the Buffalo Bills to move up to the 10th pick. They selected Alex Smith’s potential successor in Patrick Mahomes II from Texas Tech. Mahomes has an absolute cannon for an arm, which often leads to risky throws. Only time will tell if Andy Reid can mold Mahomes into a successful NFL quarterback.

And last but not least, let’s talk about New York. We’ll quickly brush over that New York team that wears blue or purple or whatever color that is, so we can get to my New York Jets. The Giants gave Eli Manning another safety valve and drafted Evan Engram out of Ole Miss. Engram is an undersized tight end who will bring playmaking ability to an already talented receiving core for the Giants.

And then there were the New York Jets. As I like to call them, My New York Jets. With tank mode in full-effect, it was imperative that the Jets did not draft a quarterback on Thursday night. And thanks to the Chicago Bears, they didn’t even get that chance. The top 5 picks saw 3 offensive players fall off the board, leaving the Jets with the pick of the defensive litter. And even though the suspense was cut short when ESPN camera’s accidentally showed LSU safety Jamal Adams receiving his call of a lifetime, Jets fans have to be ecstatic that he fell into their laps. With the Jets’ secondary in shambles, they just picked up, according to some experts, the best player in the draft. Personally, I love the pick, and I love Adams already. First of all, CHECK OUT THE SUIT!! And talk about passion. His interview immediately following the selection was filled with raw emotion and the promise to “work his butt off”. Jets General Manager Mike Mccagnan has stuck to the motto ‘draft the best player available’ in the 1st-round. As for the 2nd-round, eh………not so much. So, let us collectively hold our breath until we reach the Jets next pick (39).

How do you feel about the Jets 1st-round draft pick? How do you feel about your teams draft pick? Tell me in the comment section below.

Since you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. You can also follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!    

 

 

Holy Hail Mary!

hail mary

 

Week 13 in the NFL kicked off Thursday Night with an NFC North battle between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions.  The Lions were looking to sweep the season series against the Packers for the first time since 1991 and looked to build on their 3-game winning streak.  If you turned the game on anytime around halftime, you probably turned it right off.  If you did, I feel sorry for you because you missed one of the greatest finishes to a football game we’ve seen in years.  Yes, the Lions were winning  20-0 in the 3rd quarter, but the Aaron Rodgers led Packers stormed back into the game in the 2nd half.  And with 6 seconds left in the game, the Packers were down by 2 (23-21), on their own 21-yard line, and had time for seemingly one more play.  Rodgers threw a 19-yard pass that got laterelled back and forth a few times until the ball ended up back in his hands.  A Lions defender caught up to Rodgers and brought him down with no time left on the clock.  But wait, what is this?!  That’s right a penalty flag for a facemask against the defense.  Devin Taylor was called for an EXTREMELY QUESTIONABLE facemask penalty while bringing Rodgers down to the ground.  This allowed the Packers to run one last, untimed play from their own 39-yard line.

If you haven’t seen this unbelieveable play yet, follow the link below to YouTube to watch it.

As you can see, Aaron Rodgers ran around to avoid tacklers and launched a pass from his 35-yard line.  This Hail Mary landed in the hands of his brother from another mother Richard Rodgers for a game winning, 61-yard touchdown.  Obviously, allowing a Hail Mary is inexcusable, but there is always more than one play that contributes to blowing a 20-point lead in the 2nd half.

The Lions defense fell apart in the 2nd half.  The Packers four scoring drives only took a combined 9 minutes and 6 seconds.  That may not sound impressive, but if you think about it, that’s 4 pretty quick touchdowns.  And, in my opinion, the turning point in the game was the Matthew Stafford fumble in the 3rd quarter.  The Packers had just scored a touchdown and then you hand all the momentum over to the Packers with a costly turnover.  You can’t do that Mr. Stafford!

In the end, the Rodgers-to-Rodgers connection was the difference, and the Packers’ NFC North title chances remain alive and well (standing at 8-4).  As for the Lions, well they look a lot like the Lions.

Was this the craziest ending to a football game you’ve ever seen??  Let me know in the comment section below.

Since you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Championship Weekend Is Upon Us

championship weekend

Something spectacular is about to happen.  After four grueling months, only four of the NFL’s best teams remain.  And with the Lombardi Trophy in their grasp, it is going to take an incredible feat, by a still unknown hero, to earn a trip to Glendale, Arizona and an appearance in Super Bowl XLIX.  We could see the ‘passing of the torch’ from a hall of fame quarterback to a future hall of famer.  Or we could see an opportunity for the first back-to-back championships in 10 years.  No matter what happens, history is about to be made.  I think we are going to witness two unbelievable football games, and I wouldn’t be surprised by any outcome, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!

NFC Championship

Green Bay Packers vs. *Seattle Seahawks – Sunday @ 3:05 P.M. (FOX)

* – Indicates Home Team

The Packers and Seahawks will meet for the second time this season in the NFC Championship.  The first meeting didn’t go so well for the Packers, as they were blown out 36-16 in Week 1.  Revenge should play a slight factor, but the outcome of this game rests primarily on the calf of Aaron Rodgers.  If he is healthy enough to keep the Seahawks’ tenacious defense in check, they have a shot, however, if he is only 70% of himself, the Packers are in for a long afternoon.  Another key to this game is Marshawn Lynch versus the Packers run defense.  The Packers were 23rd in the league in rushing yards allowed this season (119.9 ypg), while the Seahawks were the number one rushing team (172.6 ypg).  Despite all the evidence to support a Seahawks victory, I think Aaron Rodgers is going to give us one of the grittiest performances we’ve ever seen.  Also, expect Jordy Nelson to wake up after a lackluster performance in the Divisional Round, and show Richard Sherman a thing or two.  Home/Road splits be damned.  Give me the Packers, in the upset, squeezing out a 1 point victory.

Prediction: Packers 28 – Seahawks 27 

AFC Championship

Indianapolis Colts vs. *New England Patriots – Sunday @ 6:40 P.M. (CBS)

* – Indicates Home Team

Oh Bill Belichick, as much as I dislike your sweatshirt and your general attitude towards everyone, I have to give you credit.  You are the best coach in the NFL.  You and Tom Brady are Greg Popovich and Tim Duncan.  Thirteen years have gone by, you haven’t aged, your productivity is still top notch, and just when everyone counts you out, you remind them why you’re still the best.  I guess cranky, surly head coach plus humble superstar is a decent combination.  I digress.  Just like the NFC, the AFC Championship is a repeat matchup of a lopsided affair (NE 42 – Indy 20) from earlier in the year.  You will remember, however, that was the game where Jonas Gray ran for 201 yards and 4 touchdowns, so expect this Sunday’s game to be a lot closer.  Andrew Luck’s game also took another step forward this season, as he led the league in touchdowns, but Luck will need to come up with a performance for the ages if the Colts are going to take down Goliath.  The other key to this game will be limiting “The Gronk”.  He can’t be stopped completely, but if the Colts can keep him out of the end zone, that’ll give them a fighting chance.  Unfortunately for all of us bitter Jets fans out there, I expect Tom Brady and the Patriots to make their 6th Super Bowl appearance in 14 years.

Prediction: Patriots 31 – Colts 28

Who do you have in this year’s Super Bowl??  Let me know in the comment section below.

Since you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

NFL Divisional Playoffs Kick-Off Saturday

nfl divisional playoffs

This is the best weekend of the year.  If you had somewhere to go, cancel your plans, because that groove on the couch misses you.  I know it’s been hard to stay “into it” since your fantasy team was officially eliminated from contention, but it’s time to gear up for playoff football.  The schedule is as follows:

Baltimore Ravens vs. *New England Patriots – Saturday @ 4:35 P.M. (NBC)

Carolina Panthers vs. *Seattle Seahawks – Saturday @ 8:15 P.M. (FOX)

Dallas Cowboys vs. *Green Bay Packers – Sunday @ 1:05 P.M. (FOX)

Indianapolis Colts vs. *Denver Broncos – Sunday @ 4:40 P.M. (CBS)

* – Indicates Home Team

If the Ravens and Patriots matchup is giving you deja vu, you are not the only one.  This is the fourth time in six years that these teams will face each other in the postseason.  And while the Patriots have the best postseason record of any team since the turn of the century (18-8), the Ravens have been Tom Brady’s kryptonite.  Joe Flacco and the Ravens have beaten the Patriots in two of their last three trips to Foxboro.  As much as I would enjoy seeing that trend continue, I believe the Gronkanator and the Pats will be too much for the Ravens to handle.

Prediction: Patriots 27 – Ravens 21        

Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers will look to keep their momentum going as they venture to CenturyLink Field on Saturday.  The Panthers are looking to become the first team ever to advance to the Conference Championships after having a losing record during the regular season (7-8-1).  The Seahawks were 7-1 at home this season, and will look to continue that trend with their usual formula: ground and pound + violent defense = more points than the other team.  If the Panthers are going to have any chance in this game, they’ll need Cam Newton to do his best Superman impression.  Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening.  Expect a defensive struggle in the first half, and then the Seahawks should pull away late in the game.

Prediction: Seahawks 26 – Panthers 17  

As we transition to Sunday, expect the best game of the Divisional Round to come from the frozen tundra; aka Lambeau Field.  This is a product of matchups.  Demarco Murray, if healthy, should run all over the Packers less than stellar defensive line.  However, Aaron Rodgers, if healthy, should have a field day with the Cowboys secondary.  This matchup marks the first time in NFL Playoff history that an undefeated team at home (Green Bay 8-0) will host an undefeated team on the road (Dallas 8-0).  Murray is the Cowboys only chance at victory, because as good as Tony Romo is, he is not winning a shootout against his counterpart.  The soon to be MVP (Rodgers) should be able to will his team to victory with or without a torn calf.  I see the Packers edging out the Cowboys in a thriller.

Prediction: Packers 28 – Cowboys 27

And to wrap up a great weekend in football, Andrew Luck will march in to Denver to take on Peyton Manning and the Broncos.  Everyone can talk about how ordinary Peyton has looked over the last month, and how bad he is in the playoffs, but I am not ready to give up on the first family of football.  Andrew Luck is a phenomenal talent, and I expect him to be great for 10 more years, but this is not his year.  This Colts team is not strong enough defensively to stop Peyton Manning, and their running game has simply crumbled.  They have left Andrew Luck on an island.  I hope this game is close, but I see Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, and Emmanuel Sanders being too much for the Colts to handle.

Prediction: Broncos 34 – Colts 24

What do you think?  Who do you have advancing to the Conference Championships?

Let me know in the comment section below.

Since you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

I’d Ask, But I Know You Are Ready For Some Football!!

Denver-Broncos-vs-Baltimore-Ravens-620x350

Your birthday? Nope. Your anniversary? Nah. That day you randomly find a $20 in your jacket that you haven’t worn in 3 months? Almost, but no. So what is the best day of the year? It is today; Opening Day of the NFL Season. It is the day you’ve been waiting for ever since the unbelievably annoying Ray Lewis hoisted The Lombardi Trophy over is head in February. Well, the wait is over. You can have a snickers bar and you can watch some football. You can finally see how your fantasy picks will pan out. And, you all have a reason to sit on the couch and do nothing. Enjoy what should undoubtedly be made a National Holiday.

The 2013 NFL Season kicks off tonight, Thursday September 5th, with the defending champion Baltimore Ravens taking on the Denver Broncos (I think we all remember what happened the last time these teams met). To say The Broncos will be looking for revenge would be an understatement. The Broncos enter the season with extremely high expectations. Some have them in or winning The Super Bowl this year thanks to the additions of Wes Welker and others. Even with their best defender, Von Miller, suspended for the first 4 games of the season they are still looked at as the favorites in the AFC. On the other hand, the defending champion Ravens enter the season with a handful of question marks. How do they replace Ray Lewis and Ed Reed? Will Joe Flacco live up to the astronomically high contract he was given last year? Can you really win with just 1 wide receiver? That last one was a joke, but seriously how are you going to win with Torrey Smith and me at wide receiver? Despite his impressive Super Bowl performance and his wonderful (haha) showing on Dancing With The Stars, Jacoby Jones is actually not very good at football. These are some of the questions that will certainly be answered once the season gets under way. You can catch tonight’s opening game on NBC at 8:30 P.M. Who do you like to win this game? I have Denver (at home) winning a relatively close game 24-17.

The rest of Week 1 will be played on Sunday and Monday. So, clear your schedules for the weekend, find that ass groove in the couch that has missed you so dearly, and lets get ready for some football. I am now ready to give you some of my thoughts and predictions on the upcoming season. Everyone has an opinion on their own favorite team and who they think will win, but football more than any other sport is incredibly unpredictable. Players get injured at a very high rate, and every year we seem to have a completely unknown player climb out of the woodwork and land right in the limelight. Nonetheless, lets make some predictions. I shall start with my favorite “team”, The New York Jets. Their team can be summed up in one word: Joke. They are a complete and utter joke. I see them winning 4 games at most, but most likely will only pull off 3 lucky victories. With that being said, I still believe it is not fair for ESPN to rank the Jets as the worst team in the NFL. That distinction clearly should be held by The Oakland Raiders (Chris Berman voice). Anyway, I see the Raiders, Jets, and Jaguars all being very very bad, and I wouldn’t be surprised if any of these teams wound up as the worst team in the league. And now, I will provide you with the Division winners, Wild Card teams, and Super Bowl Champion that will make up the 2013 playoffs.

In the AFC East, I don’t see how any other team will come out of that division than The New England Patriots. Everyone can talk about how much better The Miami Dolphins will be, but I’m sorry Ryan Tannehill, I’m just not buying it. The AFC West is also a pretty easy division to figure out. The Denver Broncos will handily win this division. Most people are eager to hop on the Kansas City Chiefs bandwagon, but I’m also not prepared to do that either. Will they be in a hunt for the Wild Card with 3 games to go? It’s very possible, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if they were 4-9 by then either. Oh, they have Alex Smith? Well then, that changes everything, they’ll probably win The Super Bowl. What was I thinking? The AFC North and South are a little tougher to figure out, and will probably provide the playoffs with the other 4 teams in the AFC this year. The AFC North will be a tightly contested division, but I feel that The Cincinnati Bengals will prevail. I also believe that The Ravens, not The Steelers will land a Wild Card spot this year. The Steelers have no running game, and Big Ben just isn’t good enough to win without a good supporting cast and top 10 defense. The AFC South is a fun division and should also bring 2 playoff teams to the mix this year. The Indianapolis Colts will win this division behind the strong play of Andrew Luck (he is the real deal and will be the best 2nd year QB in the NFL this season). The Texans will land the other Wild Card spot this year.

    AFC Playoff Picture

1.) Denver Broncos
2.) New England Patriots
3.) Indianapolis Colts
4.) Cincinnati Bengals
5.) Baltimore Ravens
6.) Houston Texans

I envision The Denver Broncos beating The New England Patriots in the AFC Championship (and giving everyone that one last Peyton Vs. Tom showdown everyone was looking for last year).

As for the NFC, I see this as the much harder conference to predict. The NFC East by itself is like flipping a 4-sided coin. But, here goes nothing. In the NFC East, as much as I hate them and love watching them crumble under pressure, I see the Dallas Cowboys narrowly pulling out the division title this year. I think The New York Giants will be in the fight for a Wild Card spot all season but will fall just short of the playoffs yet again this season. The NFC West, which is seen as the strongest division in the NFL should definitely bring 2 teams to the playoffs this year. I have The San Francisco 49ers winning the division, and The Seattle Seahawks winning a Wild Card spot. The NFC North should be a battle between 2 long time rivals; The Packers and Da Bears. I see The Packers edging out the Bears for the Division while Jay Cutler will once again be watching the playoffs from home this season. Last, but certainly not least, there is my favorite division in football, The NFC South. This division should also produce 2 playoff teams this season. The Atlanta Falcons will once again win the division while the New Orleans Saints will land the final playoff spot this season.

    NFC Playoff Picture

1.) San Francisco
2.) Atlanta Falcons
3.) Green Bay Packers
4.) Dallas Cowboys
5.) Seattle Seahawks
6.) New Orleans Saints

Let me repeat how unpredictable the NFC is going to be this season. Don’t be surprised if the Wild Cards consist of The Bears, Redskins, Giants, or Redskins. However, based off my predictions, I see The San Francisco 49ers beating the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship in a rematch of last year. As for the Super Bowl, I see Peyton Manning prevailing to win his 2nd Lombardi Trophy, while Colin Kaepernick suffers his 2nd straight defeat in the Super Bowl. And that my friends, is how I see the NFL season playing out this year. It is a long road, and it all starts tonight. However it plays out, enjoy it!!

Please leave me your predictions for the upcoming NFL Season below in the comment section. Thank you.

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!