Super Bowl LI


Today is bittersweet for the NFL. Even though this is the biggest game of the year, this is also the last game of the NFL season until the summer time. I do enjoy other sports that are active during the NFL offseason, but not having Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Football, and even fantasy football leaves an unreplaceable void. With that being said, let’s hope this game ends with a bang.

At 39 years old, Tom Brady is making his 7th trip to the Super Bowl. The New England Patriots have looked dominant the whole season, even with Brady being suspended the first 4 games of the regular season due to “Deflate-gate”. Even though New England has been without their superstar tight end Ron Gronkowski since November 13th, the additions of Chris Hogan, Martellus Bennett, and Michael Floyd have given the offense more depth. Already having Julian Edelman, LeGarrette Blount, Danny Amendola, and Dion Lewis, the New England Patriots have never lost a step.

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This season’s league MVP, Matt Ryan, has led his team to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1999. Ryan is the ringleader to this high-power offense, who was the highest scoring team in the NFL (33.8 points per game) 2nd in the NFL in total offense. Center Alex Mack has been the unsung hero of this offense. Atlanta arguably has the best 1-2 punch at running back with Devonta Freeman and Tevon Coleman. Atlanta finished top 5 in the NFL in rushing this season. The Atlanta Falcons have improved their wide receiver core by adding speedster Taylor Gabriel and possession receiver Mohamed Sanu. I forgot to mention that Atlanta already has arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL with Julio Jones.

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It’s kind of hard to bet against New England. They have had consistency at the coaching and quarterback positions between Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Also, those 2 individuals had plenty of experience in the Super Bowl. Their offense is good because of their versatility. Their defense has played well at times, but it’s not as consistent as their last Super Bowl appearance 2 years ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if New England wins today for these reasons alone. However, I believe Atlanta’s offense will be a problem. Once this offense gets rolling, it’s almost impossible to stop it (I think of it like a snowball running downhill). New England has never scored a touchdown in the first quarter of any Super Bowl. This will probably be the toughest offense New England has ever seen in the biggest game. As good as Malcolm Butler is, I don’t think he can stop Julio Jones by himself (if he is to cover him). Atlanta’s defense has stepped up in the playoffs, getting consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. I’m officially going with the “underdog” tonight. I have the Atlanta Falcons defeating the New England Patriots 27-21.

JGOOD

NFL Midseason Awards


Here we are at the halfway point of the NFL season, and we’ve witnessed some unbelievable things. Between games resulting in a tie for the past 2 consecutive weeks (possibly a 3rd coming up), Julio Jones 300-yard game against the Carolina Panthers in week 4, Jay Ajayi’s back to back 200 rushing yard games, and the Cleveland Browns being winless, this season has shaped up to be an entertaining one thus far. With that being said, here are our midseason awards picks.

MVP

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Derek Carr, QB (Oakland Raiders)
Matt Ryan has the stats to be MVP this year (2,636 yards passing, 19 touchdowns and 4 interceptions), and you can even make an argument for Tom Brady, even though he missed the first four games of the season. I’m going with Derek Carr. The Oakland Raiders are 6-2 this season (yes, that is correct) with them being 5-0 being away from home and tied for the division lead. He’s thrown for 2,321 yards, 17 touchdowns, just 3 interceptions, and a passer rating of 100.9. Carr is on a career high pace with all categories that were mentioned. Most importantly, the Raiders are relevant again (for now).

D.Reed’s Pick: Matt Ryan

Offensive Rookie

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“Dak Elliott” Dak Prescott, QB & Ezekiel Elliott, RB (Dallas Cowboys)
Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott has been sensational for the Dallas Cowboys this season. In the absence of Tony Romo, Prescott has thrown for 1,773 yards, 9 touchdowns, and only 2 interceptions. He holds the record for most passes without an interception to start an NFL career with 163 attempts. Ezekiel Elliott has filled the void of the running back whole for the Cowboys due to the departure of Demarco Murray in 2014. Elliott leads all of the NFL in rushing with 799 yards, averaging 5.0 yards per carry. This dynamic duo has proven to be a force to reckon with, not only in the NFC East, but in the NFL as well with a record of 6-1.

D.Reed’s Pick: Dak Prescott

Defensive Rookie

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Joey Bosa, DE (San Diego Chargers)
Bosa didn’t play until October because of contract negotiations that dragged out into the regular season. In the four games that Bosa has played in, he has recorded 13 tackles, including 4 sacks. He is turning out the be the pass rusher that the Chargers has desperately needed since the Shawne Merriman era.

D.Reed’s Pick: Joey Bosa

Offensive Player

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Julio Jones, WR (Atlanta Falcons)
There are a few plays you can make a case for this award including Matt Ryan, Demarco Murray, Ezekiel Elliott, and A.J. Green, but Julio Jones has been special. Arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL, Jones has 43 receptions for 859 yards (20.0 yards per catch) and 4 touchdowns thus far. His defining moment came in week 4 where he caught 12 balls for 300 yards and a touchdown against Carolina. That game cost former Carolina Panthers cornerback Bene Benwikere his job.

D.Reed’s Pick: Julio Jones

Defensive Player

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Zach Brown, LB (Buffalo Bills)
Rex Ryan is known for his defensive coaching, and Zach Brown has been a key component to their success this year. Brown leads the NFL with 87 tackles (59 solo tackles), which includes 3 sacks. If their offense can get healthy, this team can sneak up for a possible wild card berth down the line.

D.Reed’s Pick: Marcus Peters

Comeback Player

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Jordy Nelson, WR (Green Bay Packers)
Jordy Nelson missed all of the 2015 season with a torn ACL. He’s not quite the explosive wide receiver we are used to seeing back in 2014 just yet. So far he has 31 catches for 415 yards and 6 touchdowns. The Packers offense struggled last season without the deep threat of Jordy Nelson and has not been that much better this season. However, it’s only a matter of time before Nelson turns the corner to become an elite WR again.

D.Reed’s Pick: Jordy Nelson

Coach

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Jason Garrett (Dallas Cowboys)
The Dallas Cowboys are without Tony Romo. They have been without Dez Bryant for a period of time during this season. They have rookies starting at quarterback and running back. Somehow, they are 6-1 on the season. This team has played mistake-free football while winning close games (games there were prone to losing last season). What a difference a few injuries and a couple of rookies make, huh?

D.Reed’s Pick: Jason Garrett

Top 5 NFL Wide Receivers Entering 2016


 

Note: This list is who is the best wide receiver right now.  Past accolades and accomplishments alone will not move you higher on the list.  This list is based on skill, talent, age, and the ability to perform.

Honorable Mentions: 

Mike Evans (Buccaneers), AJ Green (Bengals), Jordy Nelson (Packers)

5) O’Dell Beckham Jr., Giants

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O’Dell Beckham Jr. might be the most gifted receiver in the NFL since Randy Moss.  His ability to light up the hi light reel is second to none.  Once he continues to put in more work he will climb this list. 

4) DeAndre Hopkins, Texans

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After the departure of Andre Johnson, the potential of DeAndre Hopkins blossomed despite having mediocre quarterback play from Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett. The addition of Brock Osweiler will help elevate him to the next level.

3) Dez Bryant, Cowboys

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Dez Bryant has been an elite receiver in this league since the first day he walked on the field.  When he was younger immaturity got in the way of his true potential.  He has matured as he aged to  become rguably the best wide receiver. The Dallas Cowboys are in win now more so I’m curious to see if Dez will take his game to yet another level.

2) Julio Jones, Falcons

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Julio Jones, like Dez Bryant, has been in the elite category since his first day. Not only is Jones the quintessential deep threat, he also has the ability to burn you on a 5 yard slant pattern.  Other defenses know this and he is consistently double teamed.  That doesn’t stop Julio from making an impact on every game he is in.

1) Antonio Brown, Steelers

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Antonio Brown is not the fastest, strongest, or the quickest person on my list. He also is under 6 feet tall.  That didn’t stop him from topping my list.  How? His work ethic is legendary. His route running and hands are flawless. His speed, acceleration, and agility is deceivingly underrated. That combined with a very high football IQ made him an easy decision.

JGOOD.

NFL Week 3: What Did We Learn?


Another week down in the NFL and things are starting to shape out. The richer getting richer (New England, Green Bay, Denver), the poorer getting poorer (Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit) and well..there’s Roger Goodell escalating his appeal. Besides that, what else did we learn?

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Julio Jones For MVP
Usually, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or Aaron Rodgers would be the leading candidates on this award. Brady and Rodgers have started this season flawless… but have you seen Julio Jones this year? When was the last time a wide receiver won MVP? Jones was able to get a contract extension done before the season began and has earned every dollar thus far. He has 34 receptions through 3 games (most in NFL history) for 440 yards and 4 touchdowns, including 12 catches for 164 yards and 2 touchdowns against Dallas. What makes his numbers matter most is the fact that he has made spectacular plays in the clutch to keep the Atlanta Falcons from losing.

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The Return Of Michael Vick
Michael Vick being a starting quarterback in the NFL again has come at a price for the Pittsburgh Steelers. With Big Ben out 4 to 6 weeks with a knee injury, Vick will be back in the limelight. Vick, who has played for Atlanta, Philadelphia, and the New York Jets, will have more to work with now than any other time throughout his career. The Steelers are made to win now. Hopefully, their fans will have a better response to Vick now than earlier this year (Click here for details).

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Palmer Or Bust
So last season, the Arizona Cardinals were 8-1 until Carson Palmer was done with a torn ACL. The wheels came off quickly for the Cardinals as they went from a dark horse contender to the piñata of the postseason. With that being said, the Cardinals are off to a 3-0 start this year. Larry Fitzgerald looks like a top-tier receiver again, and their defense has been a turnover machine. Without an adequate backup QB again, the season rest of Palmer’s shoulders… again.

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Fantasy Overload
Devonta Freeman and AJ Green won and lost people some fantasy football league games on Sunday (depending on what side you was on). In one league me, I went against both (tear). Freeman had 193 total yards with touchdowns against Atlanta. Green provided 227 yards with 2 touchdowns from 10 receptions versus their division rival Baltimore. If Arian Foster plays this Sunday, he should have fun against the Falcons.

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Not So Fast
Just when you thought the New York Jets was going to take off… and just when you thought the Philadelphia Eagles were going to sink like the Titanic… the opposite happened for both teams as they faced each other. Not saying that the Jets can’t be elite or the Eagles can’t drown, but this game just left quite a few people scratching their heads. The Eagles, who were the underdogs and was missing DeMarco Murray, shredded the Jets prominent defense led by Darren Sproles. The same Jets team that gave Andrew Luck problems a week ago had a few miscues of their own. Hopefully, both teams can right the ship.

JGOOD