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51 Super Bowls in 51 Days – Super Bowl 50

The Super Bowl is just 2 days away. Let’s look at the Super Bowl from 2 years ago to honor this not that significant occasion!

Santa Clara, California hosted Super Bowl 50 on February 7, 2016. The game pitted the NFC champion Carolina Panthers against the Denver Broncos of the American Football Conference.

The 2015 Panthers kept winning and winning and winning. Yes, there were other guys on Ron Rivera’s offense. But, this team started and ended with quarterback Cam Newton. The Panthers led the NFL in points scored. Their QB, in this, his fifth season in the NFL, he was by far the league’s best player. He threw for almost 4000 yards and 35 touchdowns. He rushed for over 600 yards and another 10 touchdowns. He was the most fun player in the league and the fiercest competitor. This was his season.

On defense, Carolina had three first-team All-Pros, an almost unheard-of achievement. Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis and Josh Norman joined the underrated Kawann Short on the Pro Bowl team. Carolina won their first 14 games, some in nail-biters like their last second comeback victory over Seattle or their Monday night win in the pouring rain over the Colts. Others were laughers like their Thanksgiving Day destruction of the Cowboys or their 38-0 win over the Falcons. The Panthers became the first team to start a season 14-0 since the 2009 Colts and first team with at least 15 regular season wins to make the Super Bowl since the 2007 Patriots.

They lost their undefeated season at Atlanta 20-13. But, they still had the top seed in the NFC. In the Divisional round matchup with the Seahawks, Carolina got off to an enormous start. But, the Seahawks never quit and clawed their way back within 31-24. Russell Wilson was brilliant. However, it wasn’t enough as the Panthers prevailed 31-24. The following week, Carolina blasted Arizona in a laughter 49-15. The Panthers were on to their second Super Bowl.

Their opponent would be the Denver Broncos. The Broncos brought with them one of the worst offenses we have ever seen to the big game. The good news is they had one of the greatest defenses of all-time. They had five Pro Bowlers including the NFL’s Defensive MVP Von Miller. Chris Harris was an outstanding cornerback while Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward and Demarcus Ware brought great skill and leadership.

The Broncos’ road to the Super Bowl was not an easy one. Peyton Manning had a lot of trouble throwing the ball. His mobility, which was never great to begin with, was compromised by injury. Finally, he had to miss some time due to a foot injury. Enter Brock Osweiler. In his second start, he had to take on the undefeated Patriots. He played alright. He kept his team in the game long enough for C.J. Anderson to score a game-winning touchdown in overtime.

That game in the snow opened the door for Osweiler and the Broncos to finish with the best record in the AFC. Manning was back in time for the playoffs. In the Divisional round, Denver found themselves in a tussle with Pittsburgh. The Steelers came off a brutal win at Cincinnati. Roethlisberger was somewhat limited while Le’veon Bell and Antonio Brown were out. Still, the Steelers led most of the way. Manning led one touchdown-scoring drive all night, but it was enough to help Denver edge Pittsburgh 23-16.

The AFC championship game was a very tense affair with New England. The Brady-Manning rivalry came to its conclusion in dramatic fashion. Manning actually outdueled Brady in the first half. But by the second half, it was obvious that Peyton’s best stuff was gone. Still, Denver’s terrifying defense whipped the Patriots. So, the score was 20-12 headed into the last few minutes. Stephen Gostkowski had missed an extra point that loomed large. Because somehow Brady and Gronk hooked up a few times down the stretch, the Patriots had the opportunity to tie the game if they converted fourth and goal. They did that much but could not make a two-point conversion or recover an onside kick. The Broncos knelt out the clock and they were on to Super Bowl 50 to face the Panthers.

This is seriously a difficult Super Bowl to describe. What is for sure is Von Miller was the best player on the field. C.J. Anderson and Demarcus Ware also played well for Denver. Kona Ealy was out of his mind for the Panthers. And Jordan Norwood made a huge play with a 61-yard punt return.

The Broncos finished with less than 200 total yards, 11 first downs and 1 for 14 on third down conversions. Peyton Manning was a shell of his former self in what was the worst offensive performance by a winning team in Super Bowl history. They had two possessions the entire day where they moved the ball…the first one of each half and both ended in three points.

The good news for the Broncos is their defense was something fierce. Miller was responsible for the first touchdown in the game when he strip-sacked Newton. Malik Jackson fell on it for the 10-0 lead. The Panthers struck back quickly and scored on a Jonathan Stewart run.

In the second half, Newton hit Ted Ginn for a big play that led to a field goal miss. He later connected with Corey Brown on a huge gainer that led to a Graham Gano field goal make. The score was 16-10 when the teams traded punts and sacks, then they traded more punts and sacks. Other than not being able to throw, run, catch, block or tackle, Carolina played pretty good ball.

Finally, on a third and nine from their own 25, Miller caused Newton to fumble again. The Broncos recovered as Newton was lambasted by the media for not trying to recover the ball. A few plays later, Anderson punched it in to end the competitive nature of the ball game.

Manning retired after the victory. He went out at top playing his worst. But, Super Bowl victories do not have to come with style points. And, for a fan of defense, this was a beautiful game. Von Miller will someday be in the Hall of Fame and this game will be the signature performance of his career.

 

Brandon Fazzolari is a Super Bowl expert…@spot_Bills 

51 Super Bowls in 51 Days – Super Bowl XXXVIII

The Super Bowl is just 14 days away. Let’s look at the Super Bowl from 14 years ago to honor this not that significant occasion!

Houston hosted Super Bowl XXXVIII on February 1, 2004. The game pitted the NFC champion Carolina Panthers against the New England Patriots of the American Football Conference. The Panthers were in their ninth season of existence. Yet, they already had one exciting ride to the NFC championship, two head coaching changes and one rebuilding project.

The 2003 Panthers coached by John Fox were in their second year of the aforementioned rapid rebuild project. In 2001, the Panthers finished 1-15. Head coach George Seifert was fired and Fox was brought onboard to replace him. The 2002 Panthers showed vast improvement. They were led by hotshot wideout Steve Smith and rookie defensive lineman Julius Peppers to a 7-9 record. Carolina finished in last place in a very competitive division behind the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Michael Vick-led Wild Card Atlanta Falcons. Carolina’s resurgence continued in 2003 when Jake Delhomme replaced Rodney Peete as the starting quarterback. Stephen Davis was added via free agency. Deshaun Foster was drafted to bolster their running attack. Therefore, they were much stronger on offense. On defense, Kris Jenkins was a First-Team All-Pro selection. Put it together and Carolina became a playoff team.

They upset Mike Martz’s St. Louis Rams in an epic double-overtime thriller. Carolina appeared to be in control with just a few minutes left leading 23-12. The Rams struck with a touchdown and 2-point conversion to cut the lead to 23-20. Subsequently, they recovered an onside kick. Them, of all people, Martz took the ultra-conservative “send it to overtime” approach by settling for a field goal and a tie. Both teams squandered opportunities to win in the first overtime. The Rams took the ball back and drove into Carolina territory, however an errant Bulger pass was intercepted by Carolina cornerback Ricky Manning . On the first play of the second overtime period, Delhomme needed only ten seconds to throw a 69-yard touchdown pass to Smith to win the game. It marked the first double-overtime game and longest NFL game since the 1986 playoffs.

In the NFC championship game, Fox’s defense completely stifled Andy Reid’s offense as the Panthers won in Philadelphia 14-3. The Carolina Panthers qualified for their first ever Super Bowl appearance.

The AFC was a three-team race between New England, Kansas City and Indianapolis. The Chiefs and Colts were offensive powerhouses, but weak on the defensive side of the ball. Thus, the Patriots were the most complete squad of the three. The Pats added veterans Rodney Harrison, Larry Centers and Ted Washington to an already stacked lineup.

On opening day in Buffalo, the Patriots got waxed by former friend Lawyer Milloy and the Buffalo Bills 31-0. In week four, they lost at Washington 20-17. They would not lose again. Many of their wins were tough, grind-it-out affairs. They won at Miami in overtime on a dramatic pass play from Tom Brady to Troy Brown. A few weeks after that, the Pats won at Denver in come-from-behind style on Monday Night Football. However, their grandest triumph during the regular year occurred when they knocked off Indy 38-34 using a goal-line stand at the buzzer for the win.

In the playoffs, the Patriots held off Tennessee in arctic conditions 17-14. In the AFC championship game, the Patriots’ defense tormented Peyton Manning all afternoon long. Ty Law especially frustrated Colts’ receivers with his aggressive cover style. The NFL’s co-MVP threw four interceptions as New England prevailed 24-14. They were headed to their second Super Bowl in three seasons. This time, they were the favorites.

Super Bowl XXXVIII had two games within one. There were the defensive duels of the first and third quarters and the offensive warfare of the second and fourth. Indeed, there was a little of everything in this very exciting football game. What cannot be denied, though, is the best player on the field in Super Bowl XXXVIII was Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady. He did not play a perfect game, but he was clutch in clutch city.

New England’s came out on fire limiting the Panthers to -7 yards over their first 20 plays. The Panthers responded well late in the second quarter with 10 points in the final 2 minutes. The score was 14-10 until early in the fourth.

Pat’s running back Antowain Smith bulldozed home for a 21-10 lead eleven seconds into the last quarter to set off a scoring spree. The Panthers scored the next twelve points including an electrifying TD pass from Jake Delhomme to Muhsin Muhammed. The play covered 85 yards. Carolina missed their 2-point conversions so the score was 22-21.

Brady, unaffected by an earlier red zone interception, brought his team down the field in four minutes. The Patriots scored when Brady hit linebacker Mike Vrabel from the one-yard line for the touchdown. They successfully converted their 2-pointer on a direct snap to Kevin Faulk. The lead did not last very long. Delhomme brought his team down the field in just over a minute. Just like he did in Super Bowl XXXVI for the Rams, Ricky Proehl scored the tying touchdown. At 29-29, we were headed to another thrilling finish in a Patriots’ Super Bowl!

Panthers’ kicker John Kasay made a critical error on the ensuing kickoff as the lefty pushed it out of bounds. Brady led his team into Adam Vinatieri field goal range. Despite a shaky first half, Vinatieri booted it home to give the Pats their second World Championship!

 

Brandon Fazzolari is a Super Bowl expert…@spot_Bills

Colin and Sean’s Five Players to Play Week 11 Podcast

Colin and Sean explain why fantasy owners should start Drew Stanton, Sterling Shepard, Austin Hooper, Dion Lewis, and Marshawn Lynch.  Then they discuss three good defenses to start: Los Angeles Chargers, Arizona Cardinals, and Baltimore Ravens.

Click Here To Listen to the Week 11 Podcast

Questions/Comments?  Email: seanandcolinpodcast@gmail.com     Twitter: @Cummingpodcast or @Sean__Cumming

This Week In The AFC East

By BRANDON FAZZOLARI / @spot_bills / Facebook – Brandon Fazzolari

I am picking the AFC East to go 4-0 this week. This may not be the best division in football, but it features the best head coaching jobs from top to bottom in 2017. Let’s take a closer look. 

NEW ORLEANS AT BUFFALO 

The Saints come in riding a six-game winning streak. And you may be surprised how they are doing it. Defense. How did their defense improve so drastically from their 31st ranking last season? Cam Jordan is playing lights out and they drafted magnificently. Their first selection mirrors what Tre’Davious White is doing with the Bills. His name is Marshon Lattimore and he has got some stud potential. Last week, he totally got into the Buccaneers’ heads and that resulted in Jameis Winston acting like a fool and Mike Evans getting suspended for losing his cool. 

Buffalo will have Kelvin Benjamin on the field, no stranger to Saints’ fans. They should also have their starting tight end back in the fray, Charles Clay. It is not that I think New Orleans’ record is a fluke because I don’t I just do not think they are seven wins in a row good. I like the Bills to win at home by a point. 

NEW ENGLAND AT DENVER 

Typically, this stadium scares the uggs of Patriots’ fans, but I don’t think anybody is going to lose sleep knowing they will be opposing Brock Osweiler. Osweiler was his usual inaccurate self last week when the Broncos got slaughtered by Philadelphia. Don’t expect the Broncos to repeat the performance on defense at home especially against the hated Pats. But, I think New England is figuring out their defense and Coach Belichick had an extra week to prepare so I’ll take New England to win 19-13. 

NEW YORK AT TAMPA BAY 

When looking at this game during the preseason, it would have been hard to imagine that the team in this game with four wins would be the New York Jets. Tampa Bay is struggling with a capital “S”. That is why they play the games. Tampa Bay has had issues in all three phases and things don’t figure to improve this week without Jameis Winston and Mike Evans. The Jets get to visit an old friend in Ryan Fitzpatrick who led them to a pretty good 2015 season.

After watching and analyzing the Jets last week, I am very impressed with Todd Bowles’ coaching job this year. The truth is the team parted ways with several players who are has-beens or overrated. He kept a nucleus of young talent and taught them a “process.” Josh McCown is not Kurt Warner or anything but he is good enough at 38 to at least build a lead or keep the Jets in it. If NY had developed a killer instinct, they’d be 6-3 right now! 

I cannot pick Tampa Bay to win right now. Maybe they will put something together, but probably not until 2018. Jets 23 Bucs 17. 

MIAMI AT CAROLINA 

Miami definitely has talent. Cameron Wake and Jarvis Landry, for example, would be good additions to any team in the league. And I still can’t figure out the Panthers. There is no way Carolina should be 9-point favorites against anyone. They are not a bad team and they could get a wild card, but I am going to pick the Dolphins in an upset. Jay Cutler played his best game of the season by far last week. Granted, Carolina has a far better defense than Miami, but I just think these are the types of games that catch the Panthers by surprise. I’m going with Miami in an upset, 22-13.

By BRANDON FAZZOLARI / @spot_bills / Facebook – Brandon Fazzolari

If it keeps on raining, the levee’s going to break!

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 1-6, the New York Giants are playing for pride and jobs next season. Some high priced talent appears to be working their way out of New York already.  Which leads to the next question; if you are New York Giants management, what are you thinking at the moment?

Surely noone could have predicted the abysmal 1-6 start to the 2017 season. Perhaps we were a bit overrated after last season but we are not a 1-6 team in 2017, rignt?  You are what your record says you are!

The GMEN’s 1-6 record can be attributed to letdowns in several areas, including:

  • Offensive Line Play
  • Play calling
  • Quarterback play
  • Overall defensive performance (although it is hard to blame the defense when they are on the field for most of the game
  • Failure to acquire talent to backup key positions
  • Key Injuries

Point the blame wherever you want.  It is probably all valid.

So what does New York Giants management do at this point of the season?   Probably nothing.  See who plays hard and still wants a job next season.  Replace General Manager Jerry Reese if you like, if for no other reason than it’s time for a change (just like it was time to replace Tom Couglin).

Is it time to give rookie Davis Webb a try at QB when there is nothing to lose?  Probably not when you are still paying Eli Manning a zillion dollars.

As for the head coach, that is another story.  The Mara family, specifically The Duke (may he rest in peace), has not historically made hasty decisions on their head coaches.  (If they gave Ray Handley two seasons to sink the Giants ship, they surely will give McAdoo another season in light of the fact thay he took the team to the playoffs in his first season as head coach).  Will they really fire McAdoo after what looks to be a disastrous second season as head coach?  Time will tell of course, but this is unlikely if you ask me.

I suppose this decision depends on how the Giants play out the remainder of the 2017 season.  Certainly Giants fans and management alike do not like to face the reality of the 2017 season; they are the second best team that plays in Met Life Stadium.  (How can you not appreciate the Jets swarming defense that repeatedly gets hits on the quarterback… memories of the Strahan and Tuck days).

A strong second-half and player buy-in will go far to secure another season of having Ben McAdoo as head coach.

However, if the levee breaks, and all hell continues to break loose, all bets are off.  Stay tuned.

 

 

The Bills’ Defense was Mostly Great and The Offense was Mostly Terrible

By BRANDON FAZZOLARI / @spot_bills / Facebook – Brandon Fazzolari

We expected a hard-fought, low scoring football game in Charlotte, but this was ridiculous. I counted no less than seven defensive standout performances for Buffalo. They held the highest scoring team from 2015 to a total of 9 points in their home stadium. The opposing team did not score a single touchdown. And Carolina’s quarterback was punished most of the afternoon while the star TE was knocked out with a broken foot. Yet, at the end of the day, this was a loss and not even a good one.

Unfortunately, it does not get easier next week because Denver has the best defense in the NFL.

OFFENSE

The Bills did not coach well on offense and they did not play well on offense. The ineptitude of the playing matched the ineffectiveness of the play calling. There are very few positive things to come away with after re-watching this.

QB Tyrod Taylor did not suffer from a lack of accuracy. In other words, he did not misfire that often or throw a ton of incompletions. His main problem was his unwillingness to pull the trigger at all. He either has not enough trust in his own arm or not enough trust in his receivers’ ability to make plays. It literally came down to the last play of the game before he just let one rip and missed Zay Jones by 1-2 inches. Jones believes he should have made the play.

Bills’ fans may be willing to forgive Taylor for an interception or two. He is, after all, a quarterback. But they rarely tried to make a play in the passing game and that will have fans perplexed and upset if it continues. I think the backup would give the Bills’ fans just that. Nathan Peterman would give them their gunslinger and with it will come more turnovers. It may be more exciting, but it will still lead to a loss.

If the Bills were this poor on offense this week, I think they are doomed against the Broncos.

In all fairness to Taylor, the Bills’ offensive line was horrible. LeSean McCoy was unable to make any big plays and he is good. He is very good, but he had no opportunities. Cordy Glenn struggled and left the game. Jordan Mills and John Miller – yikes.

One other thing that was dismal on offense that is worth a mention was Sean McDermott’s poor clock management. After a short run on a 1st and 20-play, the offensive players were all over the field. There were about 40 seconds left and Buffalo had two timeouts. Yet, they did not use one there. I am not saying it cost the Bills the game, but just feel it was a very poor decision considering the situation.

DEFENSE

For the most part, the Bills played very well on defense. Jordan Poyer was simply stellar and is personally responsible for the score not being more like 20-3. He played the pass perfectly at the goal line and added a sack.

Speaking of sacks, Jerry Hughes was great off the line and was one poor tackle away from having three sacks of his own. Lorenzo Alexander was also sensational in his pursuit of the football all game long.

During the first few drives, I felt the strategy to force Cam Newton to throw to win was bad for Buffalo. The Bills struggled on third down defense early. But, as the game progressed, it proved to be effective especially after Greg Olson was knocked out of the game with the broken foot. And the pass rush dominated the third quarter.

The worst moments for the Bills came just after Buffalo cut the lead to 6-3. Carolina held the ball for seven minutes and Newton made sharp throws into an open middle. Buffalo did stop the Panthers at the goal line largely because Newton blew the third down pass. But, the Bills had a shot to win only because of their excellent defensive play.

The Bills may have been one created turnover away from stealing this game, but it never came.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Stephen Hauschka doinked his long field goal home and the Bills survived a Kaelin Clay fumble. On the other end, the Bills did a great job containing Christian McCaffrey in punt coverage.

 

By BRANDON FAZZOLARI / @spot_bills / Facebook – Brandon Fazzolari

Arizona Cardinals in Atlanta: Palmer’s March?

carson-and-sherman

On November 15, 1864, after capturing the city of Atlanta, the Union Army’s General William Tecumseh Sherman set off with his troops to capture the port of Savannah. Seething with malice, his men laid waste to military targets, civilian property, infrastructure and industry, cutting a swath of destruction that crippled transportation networks, the Confederacy’s economy, and the morale of the civilian population.

Today, Coach Bruce Charles Arians’ Arizona Cardinals hope to take Atlanta in a more gentlemanly fashion, well-padded and without such dire consequences. To a team that started the year feeling poised to take the next step on a path laid out by Arians on the day of his hire in 2013, defeating the Falcons today in the Georgia Dome has a do-or-die air to it. The Cardinals sit at 4-5-1 after losing only three regular season games last year. The division title and a shot at the playoffs are sliding away, the offensive line and the receiving corps are banged up, and field general Carson Palmer isn’t commanding quite the degree of respect he earned last year.

On top of this, Arians felt chest pains after the Cardinals returned from Sunday’s road loss to the Minnesota Vikings, and his wife drove him to the hospital for evaluation. He survived the scare and rejoined the team Wednesday.

The debilitating effects of stress have been well documented, and one can imagine how the cruel memory of the Vikings’ high-flying win might have lodged in Arians’ chest. With the first half winding down and Arizona marching toward a touchdown and the lead, Minnesota cornerback Xavier Rhodes intercepted Palmer at the goal line and scampered 100 yards for a score and a 20-10 Vikings advantage. It was one of two picks on the day for Rhodes. Palmer helped answer that blow by marching the offense downfield for a touchdown, capped by a 29 yard pass to tight end Jermaine Gresham. This helped buoy the Cardinals’ spirits, and they jogged to the locker room down 20-17.

Arizona took the field in the second half properly fueled by anger and inspiration, but the air was swiftly sucked from their lungs by Cordarelle Patterson, who returned the second half kickoff 104 yards for a score to put Minnesota up 27-17, a margin the Cardinals couldn’t surmount. Ultimately the Cardinals fell 30-24, failing to overcome the Vikings’ two big plays. How big were they? The Vikings are the first team to score touchdowns on a 100-yard interception return and 100-plus yard kickoff return in the same game since the 1962 Dallas Cowboys.

On to Atlanta, where Georgia Dome crowds have been treated to a career year from QB Matt Ryan and the continued ascension of wide receiver Julio Jones. If it’s lonely at the top, Jones is a downright solitary figure, leading the world with 1,105 yards. Arizona All-Pro corner Patrick Peterson looks to slow down the talented Jones and erase the memory of their 2014 meeting, when Jones hit for 10 catches, 184 yards and a touchdown.

It’s a battle of #1s–Atlanta’s top-ranked offense v. Arizona’s top-ranked defense. The game may hinge on the performance of Cardinals running back David Johnson, who has quietly taken his place among the NFL’s elite. He has topped 100 yards from scrimmage in every game this season. Sounds reasonably impressive, but consider the full extent of it: Johnson is only the fourth player to accomplish this since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

Arizona victories this season have proven more elusive than fans expected. With playoff chances waning, a win might be found in Johnson’s legs or Palmer’s arm, in the collective will of a sturdy defense or the team’s DNA under this coaching regime. Whatever the result today, Arians’ heart and the Cardinals’ resolve will be tested once more.

Eric Forgaard

This blog is not sponsored by a generous grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Jets turnover another one to the Seahawks- Week 4 review vs Seattle

Frustration and panic are beginning to set in among Jets fans after another ugly loss. This one comes at home making the Jets 0-2 at home and 1-3 overall. We knew it was a tough early schedule but the Jets are really shooting themselves in the foot at this point. Week 1 should have been a win, and it’s scary to think how much that 1 point could come back and bight the Jets in the backside. So what went wrong, let’s break it down, I’m going to switch up formats this week a little bit, instead of pointing out individuals and individual units, I will look at some of the bigger issues ( maybe point out one or two individuals).

The demons that plague the Jets

Discipline– Penalties are a little bit of a worrisome issue in this season. What was a disciplined and cool headed team last season, seems to have lost some of that composure. We are seeing more pre-snap penalties, and stupid behavior after plays. We are nowhere near the animal house like behavior of Rex Ryan’s teams towards the end of his tenure, but this is one area the team can improve to help their chances of winning the tough close games. For example in the one point loss to the Bengals in week one the Jets had 7 penalties for 95 yards. While Folk catches a ton of the blame, 95 yards of penalties shouldn’t be ignored.

Accountability– Turnovers have been a huge factor in the Jets losses this season. The disturbing part is people are not being held accountable for these crushing and game killing mistakes. In the game against the Chiefs Jalin Marshall fumbled a kickoff which went the wrong way for 6. He was back on the field for the ensuing kickoff. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw 6 interceptions against the Chiefs, and another 3 in this past Sundays loss to the Seahawks. He is still the teams unquestioned starting QB. I’m not saying we should be in full panic mode and start a QB controversy, but this is an area that deserves reevaluation and hard scrutiny.

Ryan Fitzpatrick– Fitzmagic has turned into Fitztragedy! Not going to go into too much detail here, but things are getting scary. Over the past 2 games Fitzpatrick has a stat line of 43 of 85 for 449 yards with 1 touchdown to 9 interceptions. Bad reads and miscues are partially to blame, but there is a disturbing trend emerging. Fitzpatrick is trying to be a hero when playing from behind. Even after disastrous turnovers the Jets have stayed close in games, the team picks up the slack, but Fitz continues to try to be a gun slinger and eventually time runs out. If he played soundly and took only what the defense gives him instead of trying to force issues the Jets would have had a chance in both these games.

Game-plan– It is the job of a good coach to plan around the talent of his players. Since no team boasts the top players in every position it is important to maximize the the talent of your stars while scheming around the weaknesses of the team. The Jets secondary has once again become an issue, big plays are going over our heads every week and something needs to be done about it. Calvin Pryor has taken a lot of the blame, but as a unit they seem to be consistently caught out of position. Bottom line is the the plan here needs to change.

Things to look forward to

The young guns– While the veterans are still getting the praise (and the blame), the young guys are starting to make names for themselves. Quincy Enunwa is coming into his own in his third year, becoming a reliable option in the passing game as well as a very competent blocker in the run game. The young linebackers are refreshing to see, flashing speed while they fly across the field. This is a group to be real excited about because once there NFL knowledge gets to where their athleticism is the Jets defense will have an incredibly stout and productive front 7.

black-magic-voodoo-lounge-custom-tin-promo-3-9-07-16

Jets Dismantled in KC- Week 3 review @ Chiefs

Well that was bad! Should have been a lot worse considering the Jets committed 8 turnovers. So let’s break down what happened, what went wrong, and what very little worked.

Offense

The good

Matt Forte– He continues to be an effective runner and is always a threat coming out of the backfield. I am really growing to appreciate his patience in reading his gaps and blocks. That extra split second of him reading whats in front of him is how he is able to still be as effective as he is even at his age.

Quincy Enunwa– While a stat line of 4 receptions for 37 yards isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire, Enunwa continues his growth and was the Jets most effective receiver in this game. Only one player for the Jets caught for more yards and that was running back Bilal Powell.

The bad

Play calling in the red-zone– Chan Gailey coming in last season as the Jets offensive coordinator was a godsend to a team that felt like it hadn’t had an effective offense in a decade. Last year was a revelation for the Jets offense, and a rebirth for Fit’z. That trend was continuing this season with strong showings from this unit in weeks 1 and 2. However, that trend was abruptly halted this past week. While the Jets didn’t have problems moving up and down the field, they struggled mightily in the red-zone. It seemed like we have been running the same plays and concepts for a while, and the Chiefs clearly had the drop on what the Jets were doing. This is how they kept the Jets to one measly field goal the entire game.

The ugly

Ryan Fitzpatrick– 6 Interceptions, what else is there to say! Following what I considered to be one of the best performances of Fitzpatrick’s career, we saw the ugly side to the journeyman quarterback. The smart decision making and down-field accuracy shown against the Bills seems to have disappeared over night, and we were treated to this lovely debacle. I mentioned the problems I had with the play calling in the red-zone, Fit’z should have seen that players weren’t open, and protected the football. Some of those pics came on second downs.

Defense

The good

Defensive Line– These guys continue to play at a high level! While there were only 2 sacks total for the Jets, they were consistently providing pressure up the middle and limited an otherwise pretty good run game. Furthermore, you can see how the Chiefs had to game-plan to help slow down the pass-rush, Alex Smith was mostly in shotgun and still dropping back.

Cornerbacks– They were making plays out there! Some were close calls, but overall this was a much better performance than week 1 and 2. No receiver for the Chiefs reached even 50 yards, their best receiving threat was their up and coming tight end Travis Kelce.

The bad

Calvin Pryor– Speaking of Travis Kelce, he had has way with the young Jets safety. Pryor was consistently beaten up and down the field by Kelce, and gave up their lone offensive touchdown to him.

Special Teams Report– Unfortunately special teams became a liability against the Chiefs. Everything was good and well, until the fumble return for a touchdown on a kickoff. It’s very hard to watch you’re team lose by 21 points, especially when 14 came from a pick six and a botched kickoff return.

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Arizona Cardinals: Quantum Physics and the Whiff of Rivalry

Follow me on Twitter: @ericforgaard

The Arizona Cardinals’ long dream of a season continues, win piled upon win, and so far, at 13-2, this has been the finest year in franchise history. The dream rose out of a reverie fueled by last year’s stunted success—and the hope that this season, health and good fortune would merge with talent and hard work to elevate this team to elite status. And so it has.

Dutch children leave hay and a carrot in their shoes for Sinterklaas and his horse this time of year, which are replaced by a gift, often a marzipan figurine. On New Year’s Eve their parents make great bonfires in the streets out of Christmas trees, which helps purge the old and greet the new.

The new year in the Valley of the Sun is flecked with children draped in red, pint-sized jerseys emblazoned with names like Palmer, Fitzgerald and Peterson, courtesy of Santa. Long-suffering parents are now raising youngsters who believe Arizona victories are simply part of the natural order of things.

It’s a conundrum of quantum physics that the very act of closely observing something can change the behavior of the subject. Still, one is compelled to ask: How did the Cardinals get here? Nine straight wins—five on the road—in a sprint to the playoffs that began with an October 26 win over visiting Baltimore. In a 40-16 win over Philadelphia Dec. 20, star safety and inspirational leader Tyrann Mathieu went down with a season-ending knee injury following an interception. The defense responded by sacking Aaron Rodgers eight times last week and returning two of his fumbles for touchdowns in a 38-8 blowout. “You want to play your best ball at the end of the season,” Arizona defensive end Calais Campbell said, “and I think this is the best game we’ve played.”

Arizona clinched a first round playoff bye with the win, and a home victory against Seattle today combined with a Carolina loss to Atlanta will give the Cardinals home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Tesla v. Edison, Mozart v. Salieri, Burr v. Hamilton—rivalries are born from the clash of two forces of abounding talent and ambition struggling to gain the same bit of ground. The scuffle between Arizona and Seattle for NFC West supremacy has risen only in the last few seasons but it figures to have staying power and it packs an NFL-sized punch. Coach Pete Carroll’s Seahawks reached the Super Bowl the last two years, and they won a ring with a 43-8 thumping of Denver in 2013. Now Arizona coach Bruce Arians wants to take that stage and bring home the prize, which he has voiced since training camp. And Arians is not one to make his feelings known in haiku form.

The Cardinals journeyed north to drop 39 points on Seattle in a Nov. 15 victory, and would like nothing better than to sweep the season series today. Pride and a clearer path to the playoff finish line are at stake. The Seahawks have surged in recent weeks, winning five of six to reserve their place at the playoff table. They will take to the road whether they win or lose today. Job one for Arizona? Slow down QB Russell Wilson, who has thrown for a scorching 21 TDs and only one interception since the Cards’ week 10 victory over Seattle.

The venerable Cardinals franchise has already begun updating its record book, and by the end of the day a few more entries may well be in order:
– QB Carson Palmer needs 73 yards to set the all-time single season passing yards mark.
Larry Fitzgerald’s next catch will give him the single season receiving record at 104.
– Kicker Chandler Catanzaro will establish the franchise’s single season high for points if he scores four or more.

And for good measure, a victory over Seattle today will tie the 10-game winning streak of the 1948 Chicago Cardinals.

Coach Arians says he’s playing the starters today. He’s not one to ease off the throttle, as is often the case when the playoffs are imminent for teams that have already clinched. Certainly not with newly-minted rival Seattle in the building. Between calling plays and working the officials, expect a few flinty stares across the pitch between the head coaches.

The NFL has provided its share of coaching rivalries over the years. Think Lombardi v. Landry, Noll v. Shula and Madden v. Stram.

Arians v. Carroll? Believe it.

– Eric Forgaard

This blog is not sponsored by a generous grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.