Tag: San Diego Chargers

Why the Raiders will overtake the Super Bowl Champs in the AFC West

The AFC West will not be the best division in football.

And it certainly won’t be the most interesting division.

But it may very well be the strangest division anyone’s seen in quite a while.

Your defending Super Bowl champions in the Denver Broncos will start unknown Northwestern product Trevor Siemian yet will still feature a defense that was good enough to bring them a title last season.

Yet the West will also feature an Oakland Raiders team with a high excitement quotient on offense and a high talent quotient on defense, and I think the Raiders have one of the best chances to be a breakthrough playoff team in 2016.

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What does the NFL playoff picture look like?

Just two weeks to go, and unlike most years, the NFL playoff picture is very clear.  In the AFC, New England and Cincinnati have the inside track to first round byes.

Pittsburgh and Kansas City have the inside track to wildcard berths.  Denver must win another game to avoid getting passed.  The Jets are poised on the edge, waiting to jump in.  And the Houston Texans appear to have won the suck lottery known as the AFC South.

In the NFC, Carolina and Arizona have the byes.  Green Bay and Minnesota are both in – Green Bay probably as a division winner.  Seattle is the wildcard no one wants to play.  In the NFC East, Philadelphia can clinch if they win out.  Washington can clinch if they win this Saturday.  The Giants can probably still get in too, but no one cares because the NFC is a giant shitpit where football goes to die.

Let’s just hope the crap teams who don’t belong get eliminated early, because I’m antsy to see second round games like Pittsburgh at New England and Seattle at Carolina.  Who the hell WOULDN’T want to see those?!

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Best quotes and random thoughts from Week 8

Two teams this week had wins that, on their surface, appear far less significant than, for example, Denver beating Green Bay.  But in reality, the Bengals grind-it-out 16-10 win over the Steelers to remain unbeaten is the exact kind of game Cincinnati would have lost in previous years.  Andy Dalton only has two career wins over Pittsburgh.  But the Bengals are itching to prove that this year will be different in the postseason, and one way to do that is to have them be different in the regular season.  Don’t discount being able to win a close one against a historically tough foe.

Similarly, Minnesota hadn’t won in Chicago since 2007.  I don’t care how bad the Bears look, that kind of futility over time transcends records and talent.  The Vikings took a big step forward on Sunday and let’s face it.  A team like Minnesota doesn’t miss the playoffs because they couldn’t manage a split with mighty Green Bay, but they could miss the playoffs if they drop one too many gimme games against bad teams like the Bears just because it’s what they always did in the past.  Good job Vikes.

This Week’s Sucked And Won

Ted Ginn Jr., WR (CAR):  Ordinarily Ginn, a player who has always been a return specialist and deep threat only receiver, would never wind up on this list but there were slim pickings this week.  And let’s face it:  Carolina’s lack of quality receivers creates an opportunity for a player like Ginn, who despite his limitations is a 9 year NFL veteran.  Did he learn nothing in all that time?  Targeted 10 times, the most of any Panthers receiver, Ginn caught just 2 passes.  True to form, one was a huge gainer, but if he could play just a little better, imagine how much better the Panthers offense would be.

This week’s catch of the day came courtesy of the Ravens’ Steve Smith, who moved into 10th place on the all time receiving list, passing Cris Carter.  Making the moment even more bittersweet was the fact that it may be the last time we see Smith in action.  The 36 year old had planned to retire at the end of the year, and will now miss the rest of the season with a  torn achilles.  Whatever he decides, God Speed!

Shocking realization of the week

In the shootout to end all shootouts, the Giants and Saints set the record for most TD passses in a game with 13, including 7 by Drew Brees, which tied an existing NFL record.

While experts around the league speculate about just how costly the loss of LeVeon Bell will be to the Steelers down the stretch, the Rams have quietly gone 3-1 since Todd Gurley became their feature back, including a win at Arizona.  The team’s only loss came at Green Bay.  With the Rams’ maybe best in the league D-line and punishing running game behind Gurley, this will be a team that NO ONE will want to face in the playoffs.  Teams that run well and play D can basically beat anyone on a good day.

This Week’s Great But Lost

Philip Rivers, QB (SD):  This is becoming an old story but Rivers once again far outshone his team, completing 75% of his passes for over 300 yards, 3 touchdowns and a passer rating of 126.1.  If his team was 6-2 instead of 2-6, we’d be talking about Rivers as a potential MVP.

Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

No one to throw to?

Although they still have plenty of work to do, the Buccaneers 3-4 record, including wins at New Orleans and Atlanta, is no fluke.   This team is #11 in offense and #12 in defense, and while they are still a team that misses opportunities and makes mistakes, these are things that maturity and coaching can correct.  Best of all, you have to admit that the Bucs decision to pick Jameis Winston has a “so far so good” quality to it, as Winston looks very much like an NFL quarterback whose best days are both yet to come and scary to contemplate.

Thursday Pick:  Cleveland (+12) @Cincinnati (5Dimes)

Yes, the Bengals have a significant home field advantage, but perhaps a little less so against the Browns, who came here and won just last year.  In fact, the last time the Bengals swept the season series from Cleveland was 2011.  The Bengals could also be just a little flat after that hard fought win vs. Pittsburgh.  I like Cincinnati to win this game, but giving 12 points to a divisional opponent doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  I think the Browns can stay close enough in this one to cover the number.

LATE NOTE:  As you can see, I was all set to take the Browns in this game.  Maybe out of no more than superstition, I still will, but after learning that Johnny Manziel is starting this game in place of Josh McCown, I don’t like either side at all and would leave as a “watch only” football experience.

Cincinnati Bengals 27 Cleveland Browns 17

N-F-Yell: THE BEST QUOTES FROM WEEK 8

“If you see me standing up here, that usually will tell you something, if somebody else is up here at some point in time. . .so the questions that you have are a waste of time. OK?” – Lions coach Jim Caldwell, deflecting questions about his job security after his team’s 1-7 start.

“We weren’t going to be afraid to utilize our guys.” – Raiders coach Jack Del Rio, referring to his team’s taking on the Jets’ defense head on, in particular WR Amari Cooper going up against shutdown CB Darrelle Revis.

“We’re a family.  One team.  One heartbeat.” – Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston, praising the Buccaneers sense of team unity.

“Whether it was his fault or not, he’s going to put it on himself.” – Colts OT Anthony Castonzo, on QB Andrew Luck.  For the record, it’s on Andrew Luck, whether he puts in on himself or not.

“I haven’t had my ass kicked like that in a long time.” – Packers coach Mike McCarthy, on his team’s suffocating loss to the Broncos.

“Football is supposed to be fun.” – 49ers coach Kevin Tomsula.  The 49ers are 2-6 and just benched their starting QB.

“I wish they were all Joe Thomas.” – Browns GM Ray Farmer, on some of his less-than-ideal first round picks.

“It was a clean hit. LeVeon is a friend of mine.  I didn’t intentionally mean to hurt him. It’s football. He’s going to come back strong.” – Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict on the tackle that ended Steelers RB LeVeon Bell’s season.

“We could have been better.” – Giants QB Eli Manning on the Giants’ offensive performance vs. the Saints.  The Giants O scored 42 points and Eli threw for six touchdowns.

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Random thoughts and good quotes from Week 6

Yay! Random thoughts, betting odds, and good quotes from Week 6 of the NFL!

The New England Patriots once again knocked off an opponent to remain unbeaten, but don’t buy into the “invincible” argument being thrown around.  Granted, their offense is intimidating.  Brady has been magnificent and Gronk and Edelman are mismatches waiting to happen to opposing defenses.

But defensively the Pats have not been great, just average.  And their schedule has not been that hard, especially on the defensive side — the Week 2 win vs. Buffalo which looked so impressive at the time looks considerably less so today.

The Buffalo Bills defense is middle of the pack and they’ve recorded just nine sacks all season.  That means that the Pats next game, against the divisional rival New York Jets, will be the best defense they’ve faced all year.  If they run it up on New York (without forcing turnovers) then they really might be invincible.

This Week’s Sucked And Won

Adrian Peterson, RB (MIN):  The Kansas City Chiefs vs. Minnesota Vikings game was the kind of grind it out, slugfest that Peterson usually wins all by himself.  Instead, he gained only 60 yards on 26 carries (subtract his long of 23 and that leaves 37 yards on the remaining 25 carries — a pathetic 1.5 yards per carry average.  He also fumbled and didn’t find the end zone even once.  The Vikes can thank their defense for this win.

Sunday’s catch of the day belonged to Steelers WR Martavis Bryant, playing in his first game of the season.  His 88 yard catch and run TD in the fourth quarter to seal the win for Pittsburgh featured multiple cutbacks and one very fine broken tackle (against S Tyron Mathieu of all people) and was a quintessential example of the phrase “run to daylight.”  Well done.

Shocking realization of the week:

The league’s leading receiver is NOT Julio Jones, AJ Green, Larry Fitzgerald or Antonio Brown.  Instead it’s Houston’s Deandre Hopkins (WHO?!), whose playing in what is, frankly, a pretty toothless offense, yet somehow Hopkins is putting up dizzying numbers.

DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans

Can Julio Jones do this? Actually, yes, just a little less often.

I’ve finally figured out how to get rid of that STUPID timeout just before a field goal that has absolutely no correlation on whether the guy makes or misses it.  The NFL should simply change the rule so that there can be no timeouts called on an opponent’s field goal attempt once the play clock is at :07 or less.  That ends the practice. For good.

This Week’s Great But Lost

Philip Rivers, QB (SD):  Good lord.  Few QBs can outplay Aaron Rodgers, and none can do so at Lambeau Field, but that’s exactly what Rivers did.  He threw the ball 65 times without throwing a pick, completed ⅔ of his passes, and amassed 503 yards and 2 TDs.  What an amazing day.

Thursday Pick:  Seattle (-6) @San Francisco (MGM Mirage)

How long can you continue to believe that Seattle is moments away from turning it all around? Apparently, at least one more, given that they’re favored by six on the road in a divisional rivalry game. In this particular rivalry, the home team has consistently come through. I don’t know if I’m ready to take the 49ers to win, but I’m more than ready to take 6 points.

Seattle Seahawks 23, San Francisco 49ers 20

N-F-Yell

“Well, I think I spend a lot of time on it, not a lot of wasted hours.” – Chiefs coach Andy Reid, responding to a question asking if he would be giving up play calling duties.  Unless there is someone on the staff who can call plays in which Jamaal Charles is no longer out for the season, I don’t think it really matters.

“I would say he’s our quarterback.  We’re going to stick with him. We’ve got a lot of confidence in him.” – Texans coach Bill O’Brien, on QB Brian Hoyer, whom he benched in week one in favor of the truly putrid Ryan Mallett.  That is has taken O’Brien this long to “settle” on Hoyer should be enough to get him fired.

“This season is not done at all.” – Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, on his team now standing at 2-4.

“I don’t really think of myself as a matchup for us to key on, but the plays were there.  He found the open receiver and a few times that happened to be me.” – 49ers FB Bruce Miller, who caught 3 passes for a career high 89 yards against the Ravens on Sunday.

“Today was solely on me.  It was my fault.  I can’t blame anybody but myself.” – Chargers rookie RB Melvin Gordon, on being benched after fumbling twice in the first half against the Packers.

“He looked good to me.  He’s our quarterback now.” – Steelers LB James Harrison, on 3rd string QB Landry Jones, who will most likely start next week due to injuries.

“I’m not making excuses for anybody, I’m not trying to baby anybody.” – Washington coach Jay Gruden, after listing a variety of reasons (including the weather) why Kirk Cousins basically stinks on ice and then emphatically insisting he would not change quarterbacks.

“It’s on me.  It was a communication breakdown.  It’s not on those players.” – Colts coach Chuck Pagano, on the hideously stupid fake punt play call that essentially put the game against the Patriots out of reach.  Don’t worry Chuck.  Everyone agrees it’s your fault.  No one is blaming the players.

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NFL 2015 preview: The Kansas City Chiefs will fall in the AFC West

Predicted Finish

Denver Broncos (10-6) (3rd seed; Divisional Round)

San Diego Chargers (8-8)

Oakland Raiders (7-9)

Kansas City Chiefs (6-10)

The AFC West is a division where the top teams are in a state of decline while the rebuilding teams aren’t, well, rebuilt yet.

Peyton Manning remains the greatest quarterback in the game. Not just now. Ever. But his age, and the Broncos’ failure to significantly fortify their offensive line, likely means that Manning will be fighting off injuries just as much as he is fighting off opposing defensive linemen come January. Their chance to break free will be to rely heavily on the running game, much as the Dallas Cowboys did last year. That would help Peyton stay healthy and free up Denver’s receiving corps, which is less loaded than it used to be. Still, I don’t see the Broncos as the kind of elite team they were the last couple of years.

Lagging behind Denver are the Chargers, who still have Philip Rivers. He’s still good enough to get them to second place, but lack explosiveness offensively and lack the defensive firepower to get very far in the playoffs (if they get there at all).

The one team I find really exciting in this division is the Raiders. They added Amari Cooper to an offense that sorely needed a breakout star. He can help Derek Carr take that next step offensively. Defensively, the Raiders are still a work in progress, but they’re rapidly approaching the point where they will be that team absolutely no one wants to play if they can stay on track.

Kansas City has flirted with contention, but I think they take a step back this year. While Jeremy Maclin fills a hole in the offense, he alone isn’t enough to help the Chiefs get over the hump.

Overall, the AFC West is in a state of minor upheaval. And while Peyton Manning is still good enough to guide the Broncos into the AFC Divisional Round, I have them falling prey to the Baltimore Ravens there.

Games to Watch:  

Week 2 – San Diego @ Cincinnati: If the Chargers aim to prove me wrong and play like contenders this season, this early contest against the playoff-hopeful Bengals is the kind of game they need to take charge of and win.

Week 5 – Denver @ Oakland: How good are the Raiders? If they can hold at home against division favorite Denver, the answer might be better than you think.

Week 13 – Kansas City @ Oakland: It’s been a long time since this classic AFL rivalry meant anything. It might not at Week 13, but then again, it’s getting closer.

Week 17 – San Diego @ Denver: The NFL, per usual, pits the division’s top two against each other to close out the season. And why wouldn’t they?

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