Tag: Arizona Cardinals

Random thoughts from Week 13 in the NFL

Did the loss to the Jets this week seal Giants coach Tom Coughlin’s fate?  Coughlin’s run with the team has been a rollercoaster.  In 2007, Coughlin was rumored to be on the way out, having lost the lockerroom and with his team seemingly out of contention.  Then Eli Manning got hot and the Giants went on to an unlikely Super Bowl win over the then undefeated New England Patriots.

The Giants were unable to sustain or duplicate that success, however, fizzing in the playoffs the following year and then falling out of contention altogether.  Another unlikely Super Bowl win (again over New England) probably extended Coughlin’s shelf life in 2012.

This year, the Giants’ offensive talent is considerable.  In fact, the team ought to be the NFC’s answer to the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Instead, the Giants are snakebit, and have blown game after game.  Only the ineptitude of the NFC East as a whole has the Giants still in the running.  Will it take another unlikely Super Bowl win to save Coughlin’s job?  If that doesn’t happen, I’ll bet there will be any number of NFL teams eager to get their hands on Tom Coughlin, a proven NFL winner, even if he hasn’t produced consistent results.

 

This Week’s Sucked And Won

Ryan Tannehill, QB (MIA):  I knew Tannehill was bad this season but his stats from Sunday are just mind numbing.  9 for 19 for 86 yards and a passer rating of 78.0 on a day when he was playing a defense that’s beyond banged up and his running game was in 100% effective mode.  Tannehill might be done in Miami, because it’s clear there’s no trust in his ability any longer.

 

This week’s catch of the day goes to Patriots QB Tom Brady, who looked quite good on a trick play where Brady feigned confusion at the line and then ran a short pass pattern and accumulated a tidy number of yards after catch to complete a 36 yard play against the Eagles on Sunday.

 

Shocking Realization of the Week

Bengals QB Andy Dalton became just the second player in NFL history (after Peyton Manning) to throw for 3000+ yards in his first five seasons in the NFL.

 

If you watched the Bengals and Browns this week, you couldn’t have missed the play of Bengals DL Geno Atkins.  He dominated the game on defense, putting endless pressure on Browns QB Austin Davis.  This is why you have to watch the games, however.  Atkins final stat line is a row of gooseeggs.  Even though Atkins spent all game pressuring the QB, he didn’t register a sack or a tackle in the contest.

 

This Week’s Great But Lost

Allen Robinson, WR (JAX):  While Jaguars QB Blake Bortles was also great in defeat, throwing for 5 TDs, Robinson’s day was special, as he caught 10 passes for 153 yards and 3 touchdowns, and became the first Jacksonville receiver since Jimmy Smith 10 years ago to eclipse 1000 yards for the season.

 

The word out of Cleveland on Monday was the Johnny Manziel would once again start at quarterback for the Browns, “per reports.”  That’s right.  Coach Mike Pettine is so anti Manziel he refused to announce (or wasn’t privy to) the decision to name Manziel the starter.  Whatever Pettine’s feelings on the matter, with Josh McCown out, he’s being a dolt if he doesn’t start Manziel.  He has no one else on his roster who belongs on the field as an NFL quarterback.

 

Thursday Pick:  Minnesota (+8) @Arizona (MGM Mirage)

Think the Vikings are getting dissed here?  They’re an 8-4 team but they’re getting more than a touchdown in this game.  That line ought to be telling you the Vikings are in some trouble.  They’ve had multiple chances to take the next step, but they barely showed up against the Packers and Seahawks, and the Cardinals are better than those teams.  Add in several key injuries on defense and I like the Cardinals in this game a whole lot.  Enough, in fact, to make this one of my Best Picks of the week.

Arizona Cardinals 28 Minnesota Vikings 17

 

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Why the Arizona Cardinals could beat the Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers are the best team in the NFC, right?  They’re undefeated, Cam Newton’s a great leader, their defense is tough…

But not so fast.

I’m not talking about the idiotic point spread on the Cowboys’ game (more on that below), I’m talking about the Arizona Cardinals, who might not be undefeated, but who would absolutely give Carolina a run for their money if they played, and for my money, would win that game.

The Cardinals’ Carson Palmer (who just got some long awaited revenge on his old team – remember how petty THAT dispute got?) is having a great season both leadership and stats wise (although Newton has been brilliant in leading his team to wins, his numbers, especially passing, are not all that stellar).

The Cardinals run the ball exceedingly well, just like the Panthers.  The Cardinals play tough defense, just like the Panthers.  And unlike the Panthers, the Cardinals roster is LOADED with playmakers like Chris Johnson, John Brown and Larry Fitzgerald, while the Panthers have Cam, Cam and Cam some more.

So far, it’s been good enough, but the Cardinals have played a tougher schedule than Carolina and shown they are up to the challenge.  Let’s see how the Panthers answer the bell down the stretch, and whether they can match up with Arizona come playoff time.

This Week’s Sucked And Won

Charcandrick West, RB (KC):  When you think about how reliant the Chiefs’ offense has been on Jamaal Charles and now West in his absence, it’s amazing they blew out the Chargers this week.  West gained just 16 yards on 11 carries.  Awful.

This week’s catch of the day has to go to the Texans DeAndre Hopkins.  Matched up against Darrelle Revis, Hopkins had himself a big day, highlighted by a 61 yard bomb he hauled in after cleanly beating Revis downfield.  Good show!

Shocking Realization of the Week

The Chicago Bears played their entire game against the Broncos, a closely contested loss, without getting called for a single penalty.  In the super whistle happy NFL of today, I didn’t even think that was possible.

Who’s going to emerge and grab that second wildcard spot in the AFC?  The Steelers seem to have the inside track on the first one, and up until now, the second has been presumed to go to one of three teams:  the Jets, Bills or Raiders.  But the Jets and Raiders both lost yesterday, and the Bills have New England.  Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs, meanwhile, have won four in a row, have the best conference record of the 5-5s, and, most significantly, have the easiest remaining schedule in the NFL.  Despite the loss of Jamaal Charles, don’t be shocked if it’s the Chiefs who snag that last playoff spot, and not either of those AFC East wannabes.

This Week’s Great But Lost

Teddy Bridgewater, QB (MIN):  If the Vikings are looking for a silver lining in this week’s loss to the Packers, it has to be the play of their young QB, who outdueled Aaron Rodgers, throwing for 296 yards and a touchdown, posting a passer rating of 100.7, and gaining 43 yards on the ground on 4 carries.  A full day, just not enough to notch a win.

I realize I’m celebrating my own personal Ryan Fitzpatrickpalooza, but for the third week in a row I feel compelled to feature him.  In the fourth quarter of the Jets’ loss to Houston, Fitzpatrick ran a designed quarterback draw from the 6 yard line.  He got to the 1 ½, where he was met by a Texans’ safety.  Rather than slide, Fitpatrick put his head down and drilled the guy with his helmet, getting the extra yards he needed to score while his helmet flew off and landed on the ground.  It was the closest thing I’ve seen to Engine Joe Kapp (look it up, you won’t be sorry) in a while.  Fitzpatrick isn’t a great quarterback, but I’m sold that he is one hell of a football player.

 

Thanksgiving Picks:

Philadelphia (-1) @Detroit (5Dimes)

Holy crap, what a God-awful mess the Eagles are.  So how, how, HOW in the name of pilgrims and gravy are they favored on the road over a team that’s won two straight and was clearly better than their awful 1-7 start?  Hell if I know, but I do know that I’m not touching the Eagles as a favorite anytime soon.  And does anyone who knows thing 1 about football really care if Sam Bradford or Mark Sanchez starts?  I know I don’t.  Give me the Lions.

Detroit Lions 20 Philadelphia Eagles 17

 

Carolina (pick ‘em) @Dallas (Westgate Superbook)

This game opened with Dallas giving points.  What a joke!  A Vegas oddsmaker who was asked about that line basically admitted there was no way Carolina shouldn’t be the favorite, but that “it was Dallas on Thanksgiving and Romos’ back.”  In other words, everyone is hot to bet on the Cowboys and now they think it’s a good idea because Tony Romo is back.  Don’t kid yourself.  The Cowboys are certainly loads better with Romo under center, but all they’ve done since he returned was beat an inconsistent Miami team.  That’s a far cry, honestly, from taking down the NFC’s only remaining undefeated squad.  That said, this is gonna be a GREAT game.  Don’t eat so much that you fall asleep and miss it!

Carolina Panthers 31 Dallas Cowboys 28

 

Carolina @Dallas o/u 45.5 (Westgate Superbook)

As I said, this is gonna be a great game, and although the Panthers are known for good defense, I think this game will be more of the high scoring variety, with the Panthers’ defense needing to make a big stop late, rather than being able to shut down Dallas all game.  As for stopping Cam Newton, no one’s been able to, and the Cowboys’ questionable stop unit won’t either, although it’s gonna be fun watching ex-Panther and Anger Management Poster Boy Greg Hardy try.  In the meantime, I like the over here.

Carolina Panthers 31 Dallas Cowboys 28

 

BEST PICK

Chicago (+8) @Green Bay (Bookmaker.eu)

I like the Packers enough to make them an early week Best Pick.  Aaron Rodgers brooke out of his slump last week in a big game the team needed.  It probably didn’t hurt, either, that it was a rivalry game.  All of the same criteria apply here.  The Packers probably can’t catch Carolina for home field throughout, but they need to put distance between themselves and Minnesota and they can still pass Arizona, who has a very tough schedule, to get the #2 seed and a first round bye.  Bears-Packers is the NFL’s oldest rivalry, and I feel compelled to point out that Jay Cutler has beaten the Pzckers once.  Ever.  You think THAT’s gonna change?   Happy Thanksgiving Cheeseheads!

Green Bay Packers 30 Chicago Bears 20

N-F-Yell

“Are you going to be a pro? Are you going to be a man? Are you going to come to work and do your job?!” – Chargers QB Philip Rivers, amid speculation that the team had quit during their 33-3 blowout loss to the Chiefs.

“The whole country is watching and we didn’t play well at all.  It seems like every time we get in these types of games, we don’t play well. So we have to learn from this.  We definitely need to fix this to take this team to the next level.” – Vikings CB Captain Munnerlyn, lamenting his team’s inability to step up in a big game against the Packers.

“That was pretty hectic.  He gave me about 5 minutes to prepare.” – Broncos QB Brock Osweiler, relaying how coach Gary Kubiak told him he wanted him to address the team before his first start of the season against the Bears.

“Carson studies more and prepares more than any quarterback. We know that as long as we keep him upright, he’s going to do what he does.” – Cardinals C Lyle Sendlein, on QB Carson Palmer, the man he’s charged with protecting.

“I think we’re relevant again.” – Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith, on his team reaching 5-5 after beating the Eagles on Sunday.  The Bucs are a game out of a playoff spot with 6 to play.

“I’ll tell you this.  You know those kinds of moments, we don’t want a flag, we don’t, but that strikes confidence. Everybody on the sidelines sees it and the guys on the field, you know, it just gives you that extra boost of confidence, and I think that’s something that we needed.” – Cowboys WR Dez Bryant on a 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty he and Terrance Williams drew for excessive celebration after a TD in the second quarter against the Dolphins.

“He’s the best receiver in the league, hands down, in my opinion.” – Texans OT Duane Brown, on breakout wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who has put up numbers comparable to Julio Jones and Antonio Brown this season.

“That has been a great blessing to have Joe every single game for eight and a half years here.” – Ravens coach John Harbaugh, on QB Joe Flacco, who has never missed a start as Baltimore’s quarterback.  Flacco will miss the remainder of the season with an ACL injury.

 

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The best NFL quotes and more from Week 3

The Indianapolis Colts narrowly escaped with their lives this week, but that hardly means their problems are solved.

First off, they barely beat a Tennessee team that is still an NFL also-ran at this point.  In the process, Andrew Luck threw two more interceptions, and at this rate, he is going to drop right out of the “elite” quarterback club and back into the “jury’s still out” holding pattern.  Their offensive line stinks:  Luck was sacked three more times.  And although Frank Gore had a decent day, Andre Johnson was invisible, further indicating that the obsession with skill players was big fat mistake.  Another problem is a defense that is undersized and can be run on, making it particularly difficult for the Colts to play without the lead.  This team, despite having the talent to win and win big, hasn’t been built to win a championship.  And the biggest problem is that these are all glaring issues that have been present for multiple years.  When coaches and GMs fail to fix problems despite having multiple chances to do so, people get fired.  That may be coming this offseason to Indianapolis.

This Week’s Sucked And Won:

Teddy Bridgewater, QB (MIN).  Teddy’s certainly seen better days than this one:  13 for 24 for just 121 yards and an interception.  He also carried once for -1 yards.  Of course, that’s the beauty of the Vikings.  Adrian Peterson can carry the offense all by himself when needed.

What have they put in the water in Arizona?!  I have never been a big Colin Kaepernick fan, but even the Seahawks defense never made him look this bad.  He threw 4 interceptions, 3 of them pick-sixes.  His passer rating was a Tebow-defying 16.7.   The Cardinals defense is a public menace at this point, and their offense is not far behind.

You know those Peyton Manning Nationwide commercials where he keeps singing the theme with different words?  Picture that.  Picture the song.  You know, hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm.  Now watch a replay of Manning’s touchdown pass just before the half against Detroit and add in these lyrics, “F**k you guys who think I’m old!”  It fits almost too perfectly.

Shocking realization of the week:

Carson Palmer hasn’t lost a game since 2013.

Just one more footnote on Chip Kelly’s genius redesigning of the Eagles.  They won today, with backup running back Ryan Matthews gaining 108 yards on 25 carries,.  So get ready for DeMarco Murray to get thrown so far under the bus even Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock couldn’t save him.  This actually started in preseason, when Kelly seemed particularly effusive in his praise of his backup, so the man whose system doesn’t need players is almost certain to screw over his big free agent signing.  The end result:  big free agents will start avoiding the Eagles, or demanding larger than usual amounts of guaranteed money, since they know the coach is a back stabber.  As an Eagles fan, this all just keeps getting better.  Sigh.

Philadelphia Eagles
“We may be losing, but your coach is a douche!”

This Week’s Great But Lost:

Steve Smith, WR (BAL).  He certainly wasn’t fiddling while Rome burned.  The ageless Smith caught 13 passes for 186 yards and 2 TDs while his teammates were blowing their season, going 0-3 by losing to Cincinnati.

Dallas fans may be smarting from blowing two 14-point leads against Atlanta on Sunday, but don’t go blaming backup quarterback Brandon Weeden.  In fact, Cowboys fans should be excited.  It looks like Weeden is more than capable of running the offense, and doing it quite well, while Tony Romo is out.  He was 22 for 26 on Sunday, making him 29 for 33 on the season.  Damn good numbers.  And more than good enough to keep the Dallas offense on track while its stars heal.

 

Thursday Pick:  Baltimore (-3) @Pittsburgh (William Hill)

Baltimore’s giving points?  THREE points?!  Why?  Just because the Steelers will have Michael Vick at QB.  Have the people who set these lines actually seen Baltimore play this season?!  In reality, both of these teams have their backs against the wall.  The Ravens are 0-3.  If their season isn’t already over (it is), it will be if they lose to the Steelers.  Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has to rally around their back up QB.  They have to step up their game until Roethlisberger comes back if they want to have a shot at the playoffs.  I’ll take the points thank you.

Pittsburgh Steelers 27 Baltimore Ravens 23

 

NFYell: The best NFL quotes from Week 3

“We’re not getting 53 new players.  We’re not getting 24 new coaches.” – Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, after his team got routed by division rival Buffalo.

“This was one for the ages as far as I’m concerned.” – Colts coach Chuck Pagano, on the team’s win at Tennessee.  OK, raise your hand if you thought even once that Coach Pagano would utter those words about a game against freakin’ Tennessee.

“It’s big shoes to fill.  I can’t do the things Ben does.” – Steelers back up QB Michael Vick, on the task ahead now that Ben Roethlisberger is out 4-6 weeks.

“One of these days, we’ll figure out how to cover A.J. Green.  It be nice if we did that one time before he retires.” – Ravens coach John Harbaugh.  The Ravens allowed Green to gash them for 10 catches, 2 TDs and a mind blowing 227 yards.

“We didn’t block any of them.  They just didn’t go through the yellow things.  Sweet, I hope that happens every time.” – Texans DL JJ Watt, on Tampa Bay’s plethora of missed field goals on Sunday.

“That was probably the worst play in NFL history.” – Jets WR Brandon Marshall, on his ill-advised attempt to toss a lateral which resulted in a turnover against the Eagles.

“The response that I got was, `Cam you’re not old enough to get that call.’ I’m looking at him like what, geez, I didn’t think you had to have seniority to get a personal foul or anything like that.” – Panthers QB Cam Newton, on the explanation he got from officials about a non-call during their game against the Saints.

“I like watching him after the catch.  He’s a homerun waiting to happen.” – Raiders QB Derek Carr, on rookie WR Amari Cooper.

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NFL 2015 preview: Seahawks win a crowded NFC West

Predicted Finish:

Seattle Seahawks (11-5) (2nd seed; Super Bowl Winner)

St. Louis Rams (9-7)

Arizona Cardinals (8-8)

San Francisco 49ers (5-11)

Don’t be misled here. Just because I don’t have multiple teams making the playoffs from the NFC West this season doesn’t mean it’s not still one of the best divisions in football. In fact, it’s primarily a collection of very tough schedules that I see holding down some of the division’s contenders, not a lack of ability.

Do I really think Seattle can come out and go to three straight Super Bowls, something that hasn’t been done since Jim Kelly’s Bills did it in the early ‘90s?

You’re damn right.

The Seahawks defense is epic. They are a unit for the ages. And offensively, they got a lot better in the offseason. They also have a very smart quarterback in Russell Wilson, and the thing that distinguishes the Mannings and the Bradys of the world more than anything else is not their throwing ability or their athleticism or even their leadership. It’s brains. You doubt Seattle can go to a third Super Bowl and win their second. Be my guest. You’ll see.

I have the St. Louis Rams edging out the Arizona Cardinals this year because the Rams got the easier path schedule-wise while the Cardinals have a tough go of it. These are very evenly matched teams, and I really do like the way Jeff Fisher has his guys ready every week. That’ll be enough for second place.

The Cardinals will take a step back this year, and I think they may move on from Carson Palmer at some point as well, but don’t count out Arizona in the future. This is a team with a solid core, especially defensively, and they aren’t going to have a killer schedule every single year.

If there’s a team that got absolutely dismantled in the offseason, it’s the San Francisco 49ers. I believe they are returning one out of 11 starters on defense, which is just… I don’t even know. This entire team has fallen apart this offseason, so when you hear people saying how much the 49ers miss Jim Harbaugh, try not to throw up in your mouth.

Like I said, I have the Seahawks winning it all against Baltimore this year, in what promises to be an epic Super Bowl. One of the keys to getting there, however, is the Packers’ inability to defense a mobile quarterback like Wilson. Expect Green Bay to blow it in the NFC Championship game before Seattle nails it down in the big game.

Games to Watch:

Week 2 – St. Louis @ Washington: Nick Foles’ career numbers against Washington’s lousy secondary are video game crazy. If you like yardage, points, more yardage, more points and more yardage, this will be the game for you.

Week 4 – Green Bay @ San Francisco: There are a lot of teams that are going to be looking for payback against the Niners now that they’re down and out, but perhaps none more so than the Packers. This one could get ugly.

Week 7 – Baltimore @ Arizona: I have the Cardinals’ tough schedule keeping them out of the playoffs. One remedy for that is for Arizona to come out and beat down their tough schedule. This one will be hard to win, but it’s doable.

Week 11 – San Francisco @ Seattle: As I said, a lot of people will be looking for payback. I’ll take the Seahawks.

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Get ready for the best NFL football of the season

If you’ve been watching the NFL for long enough, you will nod in agreement when I tell you that the best football of the year is about to happen in the next two weeks.

Wildcard and Divisional Round playoff games have everything:  suspense, tension, upsets, shootouts, grind it out battles and even rivalry games.  Sadly, the Conference Championships and Super Bowl rarely measure up, although just look at last year’s Seattle/San Francisco NFC title joust for what the exception looks like.

More playoffs like this, please

In any case, there are four wonderfully diverse games on the schedule for the upcoming weekend, and the best part of all is that you can get your NFL jones going Saturday afternoon and not have to start coming down until Sunday night.

For the duration of the playoffs, I’ll be picking all games on both the over/under and against the spread.

(more…)

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