2019 NFL Predictions: AFC East

Now it’s time to look at the division that has probably made the most changes throughout the offseason. The Jets, Dolphins and Bills have all made several moves this offseason with one goal in mind. That’s to unseat the reigning Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots. 

43188165022_d7997b6c13_o
“Miami Dolphins Mario Williams – Buffalo Bills Mike Gillislee” by Jack Kurzenknabe is licensed for public domain.

In case you forgot, the New England Patriots won another Super Bowl this past February. It was probably one of the uglier Super Bowls in history. Nonetheless, that’s not the biggest thing everyone is talking about with the Patriots.

There’s been a lot of news on the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins lately too, but they’re going in opposite directions this season. I’ll explain that more in each section. I think all eyes are on the New York Jets and their newest RB Le’Veon Bell. They seem to be the top contenders to unseat the Patriots. Can they do it?

 

1. New England Patriots

 Last season’s record: 11-5 

Postseason Result: Won Super Bowl (13-3) against the Los Angeles Rams

Offseason Acquisitions:

Signed:

  • DE Michael Bennett (Philadelphia)
  • DE Mike Pennel and S Terrence Brooks (N.Y.  Jets)
  • TE Matt LaCosse and RT Jared Veldheer (Denver)
  • TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Jacksonville)
  • TE Benjamin Watson (New Orleans)
  • WR Demaryius Thomas (Houston)
  • WR Cameron Meredith (New Orleans)

Drafted:

  • WR N’Keal Harry (32nd)
  • CB JoeJuan Williams (45th)
  • DE Chase Winovich (77th)
  • RB Damien Harris (87th)
  • QB Jarrett Stidham (133th)

Offseason Departures:

  • Retired TE Rob Gronkowski
  • DE Trey Flowers (Detroit)
  • OT Trent Brown (Oakland)
  • DT Malcom Brown (New Orleans)
  • WR Chris Hogan (Carolina)
  • DE Adrian Clayborn (Atlanta)
  • WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson (Chicago)
  • TE Dwayne Allen and CB Eric Rowe (Miami)

The Big Question:

When you win six Super Bowl titles in 19 years with the same QB-coach duo, there’s not much you need to question about your team. However, given three factors, the Patriots even have some questions. One factor is the age of QB Tom Brady and how much longer he’ll continue to play. Factor two is the injury to C David Andrews and the offensive line. The final factor is the retirement of TE Rob Gronkowski.

Despite all these factors, the Patriots will likely still finish atop the division and have one of the best records this year. I think they have plenty of offensive weapons, so they don’t need to worry about who to get the ball too, so let’s look for them to make another run at a Super Bowl.

Prediction: 12-4

 

2. Buffalo Bills

Last season’s record: 6-10

Postseason Result: N/A

Offseason Acquisitions:

Signed:

  • C Mitch Morse (Kansas City)
  • WR John Brown (Baltimore)
  • WR Cole Beasley (Dallas)
  • TE Tyler Kroft (Cincinnati)
  • G Spencer Long and WR Andre Roberts (N.Y. Jets)
  • G Jon Feliciano (Oakland)
  • OT Ty Nsehke (Washington)
  • RB T.J. Yeldon (Jacksonville)
  • CB Kevin Johnson (Houston)
  • OT LaAdrian Waddle (New England)
  • RB Frank Gore (Miami)

Drafted:

  • DT Ed Oliver (9th)
  • OT Cody Ford (38th)
  • RB Devin Singletary (74th)
  • TE Dawson Knox (96th)
  • LB Voseasn Joseph (147th)
  • CB Jaquan Johnson (181th)

Offseason Departures:

  • RB LeSean McCoy (Kansas City)
  • G John Miller (Cincinnati)
  • TE Charles Clay (Arizona)
  • RT Jordan Mills (Miami)
  • TE Logan Thomas (Detroit)
  • RB Taiwan Jones (Houston)
  • RB Chris Ivory (Free Agent)

The Big Question:

This defense proved they’re worthy of being amongst the top in the league. This defense led the Bills to a Wild Card spot two years ago, despite their struggles on offense. The offense continued to struggle a lot last season as well. With a new QB in Josh Allen and an offensive line that could not protect, it was hard for Allen to get things going.

The Bills spent a lot of time this offseason trying to improve their offense. They drafted another OL in Cody Ford and signed a young RB to work with Allen. They also got two WRs who are proven veterans to help control the game on offense. With all these changes that have been made by the Bills, I really like Josh Allen’s chances to became an elite QB this year. He could likely help lead his team to a playoff spot again.

Prediction: 9-7

 

3. New York Jets

Last season’s record: 4-12

Postseason Result: N/A

Offseason Acquisitions: 

Signed:

  • RB Le’Veon Bell (Pittsburgh)
  • ILB C.J. Mosley and Ty Montgomery (Baltimore)
  • G Kelechi Osemele
  • WR Jamison Crowder (Washington)
  • C Ryan Kalil and K Chandler Catanzaro (Carolina)
  • WR Josh Bellamy (Chicago)
  • G Tom Compton and QB Trevor Siemian (Minnesota)
  • CB Brian Poole (Atlanta)
  • TE Ryan Griffin (Houston)

Drafted:

  • DT Quinnen Williams (3rd)
  • LB Jachai Polite (68th)
  • T Chuma Edoga (92nd)
  • TE Trevon Wesco (121th)
  • LB Blake Cashman (157th)
  • CB Blessuan Austin (196th)

Offseason Departures:

  • CB Morris Claiborne (Kansas City)
  • QB Josh McCown (Philadelphia)
  • WR Jermaine Kearse (Detroit)
  • G James Carpenter (Atlanta)
  • CB Buster Skrine (Chicago)
  • K Jason Myers (Seattle)
  • RB Isaiah Crowell (Oakland)
  • C/G Spencer Long and WR Andre Roberts (Buffalo)
  • DE Mike Pennel and S Terrence Brooks (New England)
  • TE Clive Walford (Miami)
  • OLB Jeremiah Attaochu (Kansas City)

The Big Question:

The Jets have improved themselves in a huge way at the RB position with Le’Veon Bell. We hope to see him help the young Jets offense win more games, but we also don’t really know what to except from Bell after he was sitting out a year due to his holdout with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Will Bell be able to get himself back into the form he was with the Steelers in 2017? He’s the key to the success of the Jets’ offense. He came to New York for a new beginning, and he has the abilities to be the best RB in the league when he has his head straight.

Having a young QB and WRs like Sam Darnold, Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa, the Jets could put up some solid offensive numbers. It’s the questionable play calls and defense that worries me about this team, but hopefully they get a few more wins than a season ago.

Prediction: 7-9

 

4. Miami Dolphins

Last season’s record: 7-9 

Postseason Result: N/A 

Offseason Acquisitions:

Signed:

  • QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (Tampa Bay)
  • TE Dwayne Allen and CB Eric Rowe (New England)
  • TE Clive Walford (N.Y. Jets)
  • QB Josh Rosen and DE Robert Nkemdiche (Arizona)
  • RT Jordan Mills (Buffalo)
  • WR Allen Hurns (Dallas)
  • G Chris Reed (Jacksonville)
  • WR Ricardo Louis (Cleveland)

Draft:

  • DT Christian Wilkins (13th)
  • G Michael Deiter (78th)
  • LB Andrew Van Ginkel (151th)
  • T Isaiah Prince (202th)
  • RB’s Chandler Cox (233) and Myles Gaskin (234)

Offseason Departures:

  • QB Ryan Tannehill and DE Cameron Wake (Tennessee)
  • OT Laremy Tunsil and WR Kenny Stills (Traded to Houston)
  • LB Kiko Alonso (Traded to New Orleans)
  • RT Ja’Wuan James (Denver)
  • RB Frank Gore (Buffalo)
  • WR Danny Amendola (Detroit)
  • DE Andre Branch (Arizona)
  • DE William Hayes and G Josh Sitton (Free Agent)
  • TE A.J. Derby and DT Sylvester Williams (New Orleans)

The Big Question:

Do I need say more… The Dolphins have traded away their best chance to win games this year. They went from having a nice looking offensive team, to a “let me hang out in South Beach for a year” team. The Dolphins traded QB Ryan Tannenhill away and got QBs Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen in return. That doesn’t do anything if you don’t have anyone to protect or catch the ball. 

That’s why the offense is going to be one of worst in the NFL, despite having Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage in the backfield.  I can’t see much coming from the Dolphins offense. That’s why I have them as the worst team in the league. After trading OT Laremy Tunsil and WR Kenny Stills, my decision was made.

Prediction: 4-12

 

Predicted Division Standings

  1. New England Patriots (12-4)
  2. Buffalo Bills (9-7)
  3. New York Jets (7-9)
  4. Miami Dolphins (4-12)

Top 10 greatest QBs of all-time

Today is the big day! The day where we find out who the winner of Super Bowl LIII will be. The match up is the five time champion New England Patriots versus the one time champion Los Angeles Rams.

All week long we here at Fourth Quarter Sports have been helping you refresh your memory on some of the biggest moments of both the teams and all the Super Bowls. By this time, I’m sure you have read them all, but don’t forget about the top 10 coach-QB duo that was postED Saturday afternoon for you to enjoy.

Source: https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=230320&picture=posterization-of-joe-montana

Now it’s time for us to find out who the top 10 greatest QBs of all-time are. Keep in mind that several of these QBs are still playing and could climb higher, while others see their stats and accomplishments fall. We also have to pay close attention to the decade in which these QBs have played. So let’s take a look at who is in the top 10.

 

10. Fran Tarkenton – Minnesota Vikings/New York Giants (1961-1978)

Tarkenton could’ve very well made the top 10 list with his head coach because of the success they had together. If Tarkenton had stayed with Minnesota his entire career instead of spending six years with Giants, that probably would have been the case.

Tarkenton was a nine time Pro Bowl QB who threw for 47,003, 342 touchdowns and 266 interceptions. Tarkenton also won one MVP and made three appearances to the Super Bowl, although  he lost all three.

 

9. Johnny Unitas, Baltimore Colts (1955-1973)

Unitas was a part of two different eras in the NFL. Those eras are before and during the Super Bowl years. The first was in 1966 when the Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs. But Unitas was able to get himself one as well in Super Bowl V. He also won three NFL Champions during his career. That is what made me decide to put him on the top 10 list.

During his time with the Baltimore Colts, he also earned 10 Pro Bowls and three MVPs while throwing for 40,239 yards and 290 touchdowns.

 

Source: https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=230325&picture=posterization-of-john-elway

8. John Elway, Denver Broncos (1983-1998)

Elway could be another one of those guys who you think might not be top 10, but he does have a pretty decent resume. In 15 years, he was a Pro Bowl selection nine times. He also played in five Super Bowls, in which he won two, along with an MVP honor.

As he ended his career, he finished with 51,475 yards passing and 300 touchdowns. He also ran for another 33 touchdowns while throwing 226 interceptions. He certainly put the Denver Broncos on the map and has continued to do so as a team executive in the current days.

 

7. Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins (1983-1999)

Marino had a nice career for a QB from the ’80s. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help when you compare him to the top six QBs. Marino’s failure to win a Super Bowl is what hurt him from being in the top five.

He was Rookie of the Year in 1983 and also won one MVP, as he was selected to nine Pro Bowls. His 61,361 passing yards is the most by any QB in that era. He also finished with 420 touchdowns and 252 interceptions.

 

Green Bay Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, playing against the Carolina Panthers on October 19, 2014.” by Mike Morbeck is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

6. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (2005-present)

I can’t help but put Aaron Rodgers up this high. Many people think he should be higher. Although I may agree, he’s still playing and is well into the top category. By the time he’s finished, he could be placed higher. With his impressive touchdown-to-interception ratio, I don’t see why not.

Rodgers has a career passer rating of 103.1, which is an NFL record. His highest passer rating in a season was in 2011 when he averaged 122.5. That was the same year he won his very first Super Bowl title.

He has also earned seven Pro Bowls and two MVPs while throwing for 42,944 yards, 338 touchdowns and 80 interceptions. That is a 4.23:1 ratio, which is a another NFL record. Rodgers has been one of the best QBs over the last decade.

 

5. Drew Brees, San Diego Chargers/New Orleans Saints (2001-present)

Brees is another current QB who may be able to move up on the list. But without an MVP and only one Super Bowl, it might be tough. Despite his unsuccessful attempts to win MVP, he has still managed to to break a lot of the passing records.

As a 12-time Pro Bowl QB, Brees has thrown for 74,437 yards, 520 touchdowns and 233 interceptions. Those yards are the most by in QB in NFL history. He also has the highest career completion percentage and single-season completion records. He also has the most consecutive games with a touchdown pass, including the most touchdowns in a game (7). He has already passed so many greats ahead of him and will likely continue to do so.

 

Source: https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=230606&picture=posterization-of-brett-favre

4. Brett Favre, Green Bay Packers (1991-2010)

Favre played longer than he should’ve, but didn’t really gain much from it. He got one Super Bowl early in his career and added a few MVPs along the way.

The 11-time Pro Bowl QB also had 71,838 passing yards and 508 touchdowns, both of which were NFL records until Peyton Manning and then Drew Brees broke them. The record that Favre still owns and probably will for a very very very very long time, is the most interceptions in NFL history with 336. That’s not a great record to have as a QB, but Favre will be holding onto that one for a while.

 

3. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts/Denver Broncos (1998-2014)

Manning is the best QB to ever use the word “Omaha” on the field to confuse the defense. It helped him make a great career out of it. In fact, he won five NFL MVPs and two Super Bowls in his 16 year career.

He was also honored to 14 Pro Bowls during that time and went 2-2 in his four Super Bowl appearances. He had a total of 71,940 passing yards and 539 touchdowns, which were both NFL records until Brees took the yards away. Brees will also be looking to take the touchdowns record away from Manning and leave them with a tie for most touchdowns in a game at seven. But Manning’s 55 touchdowns in a season record may last longer than we think.

 

2. Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers/Kansas City Chiefs (1979-1994)

The best QB in the ’80s was probably Montana, though he only won four Super Bowls in his 15 seasons, he helped make the Niners into one of the biggest names of their time.

With two MVPs and eight Pro Bowls, Montana was out to prove he was the best. Until the emergence of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, you might have agreed. But we are talking about two different eras of football. Montana’s stats may not look great in the NFL today. He finished his career with 40,551 yards and 273 touchdowns. By the time Tom Brady is done, he would have doubled Montana in both categories.

 

Source: https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=230915&picture=posterization-of-tom-brady

1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots (2000-present)

Brady has already added more MVPs and Super Bowls than what Montana had. Brady has five Super wins and he is not looking to be done yet, as he’ll be leading his team for another chance at six.

The 14-time Pro Bowl selection has had a season best touchdown to Interception ratio of 28:2. He also has the most games won by any QB, with 232 and a current count of 517 touchdowns with 70,514 passing yards. Brady will also likely pass Manning in total yards and touchdowns next season.

And to think, Brady was the 199th pick of the 2000 NFL draft. That’s just amazing.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Of course, you can’t make a top 10 list like this without all the debate of one player being better than another. It’s never easy thinking of the top 10 greatest QBs without having a debate.

 

Source: https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=230611&picture=posterization-of-bart-starr

  • Jim Kelly, Buffalo Bills (1986-1996)
  • Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams/Arizona Cardinals (1994-2009)
  • Bart Starr, Green Bay Packers (1956-1971)
  • Otto Graham, Cleveland Browns (1946-1955)
  • Troy Aikman, Dallas Cowboys (1989-2000)
  • Steve Young, San Francisco 49ers (1984-1999)

I hope you enjoyed this list as much as you will enjoy the Super Bowl. Don’t forget to remind yourselves of some of those memories we spoke earlier.

For Rams fans: click here

Patriots fans: here

Want a recap of their first Super Bowl game? Click here

And then of course, the most memorable moments and mistakes that happened in all of the Super Bowls thus far.

You can also comment and give us your feedback on who you think should be on this list. Let’s hear it!

Top 10 Head Coach-QB duos of all-time

By now, you have all been given a week full of Super Bowl memories that involve both the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams before they get set to kick off Super Bowl LIII tomorrow.

Along with the best of the Rams and Patriots Super Bowl history are a list of the most memorable moments and most mistakable moments in Super Bowl history.

But now it’s time to see who the greatest of all-time really is. Who’s the greatest quarterback? How about greatest coach-QB duo? In the next set of articles, we will be telling you exactly that.

Brady’s back!” by Andrew Choy is licensed under CC BY 2.0

First, we will look into the coaches that helped these QBs become great. Just keep in mind that not all coaches or QBs are on their individual list, so you will have to return back on Sunday to find out who the greatest QB of all-time is.

Until then, let’s get right into the list of coaches and QBs. Know that not all duos won Super Bowl titles, but still deserve to be recognized.

 

10. Mike Shannahan and John Elway, Denver Broncos (1995-1998)

These two made the most of their four seasons together. Shannahan could possibly be the main, if not only reason Elway was able to win two Super Bowls. They moved on from a defensive-minded head coach in Wade Phillips to focus more on the offense and QB John Elway.

It’s not that the Broncos were bad with Philips, but after failing to win two previous Super Bowls and Elway getting older, their time was running out. In their four years together, they won back-to-back Super Bowls. Elway did whatever he had to to get the first one, including a helicopter spin late in the game.

 

9. Joe Gibbs and Doug Williams, Washington Redskins (1986-1989)

These two were also together for a short four seasons and had success early. They only managed to get one Super Bowl title, but that one was history making, as Williams became the first African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl. He also picked up MVP honors in the game after battling back from injury.

Williams had the capability to win games, but it wasn’t until he came to Washington to Gibbs where he started get the wins. One of which was against John Elway’s Broncos in Super Bowl XXII. Gibbs coached the Redskins to three total championships. One before and one after Williams was with the team. Had Williams came earlier in his career, there is no saying how many titles the two could have won.

 

8. Jimmy Johnson and Troy Aikman, Dallas Cowboys (1989-1993)

The ’80s was full of greater QBs. That will explain why there’s several of them on here. However, Aikman was part of a transition into the ’90s. The short time he was with coach Johnson, they had a lot of success, as they won two titles in four years. Aikman also had the Hall of Fame running back Emmit Smith running wild with him and Johnson. Had they all stayed together for a longer time, they might have already had the franchises 6th title.

 

7. Marv Levy and Jim Kelly, Buffalo Bills (1986-1996)

This was a great duo, as they dominated their division by winning it six out of 10 years. They even won four conference championships to get them into the Super Bowl four times, but they came up short in each one. The one that has to hurt the most is the one against Bill Parcells’  New York Giants, as they had a chance to kick the game-winning field goal, but it was wide right off the foot of K Scott Norwood.

They just simply couldn’t find themselves on the winning side of a Super Bowl, but that shouldn’t discredit them as one of the top duos, because it’s never easy to win the big one.

 

6. Don Shula and Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins (1983-1995)

Speaking of winning the big one, or failure to do so, the Miami Dolphins of the ’80s had several chances to get there. They, like the Bills, won their division five times. What makes it interesting is that both the Bills and Dolphins were in the division then as they are now. They combined for 11 of the 13 divisional titles.

But the Super Bowl appearances and titles is not impressive. Despite having coach Shula and Dan Marino together for 12 years, the Dolphins only made it to one Super Bowl in which they lost. But the individual success of Marino himself had helped the Dolphins be successful. It wasn’t without the coaching of Shula to get him there.

 

5. Tom Landry and Roger Staubach, Dallas Cowboys (1969-1979)

The earlier stages of the the Super Bowl era featured a lot of the Dallas Cowboys and Roger Staubach. Staubach and coach Landry won several division championships in the 10 years they were together. At which time, they had made it to the Super Bowl five times, winning it twice. If Staubach hadn’t left for the military during the middle of his playing career, we might have been able to see more from this duo.

 

4. Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh Steelers (1970-1983)

One of the teams that beat the Cowboys in the Super Bowl was this Steelers team. They did it twice in back-to-back seasons. In fact, the Steelers won it four times during Bradshaw and Noll’s time together. Both of which were back-to-back over a six year span.

They also won the division eight times, as they were one of the more dominant teams earlier in history. That explains why they are the only team to have a record six Super Bowl titles. Had Bradshaw thrown less interceptions, they could have been way ahead in number of titles, but with his mediocre play the Steelers still managed to have success.

 

3. Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr, Green Bay Packers (1959-1967)

The first ever Super Bowl winners have to be on the list, because without Lombardi, there wouldn’t be a Lombardi trophy. But that isn’t the only title they have. They won the first two Super Bowls and an additional five league championships.

If league titles counted back then, the Packers would have the most wins in terms of championships. Both Starr and Lombardi would be the most winningest coach-QB duo of all time. Let’s not forget about the fact that they won these seven titles in eight years of being together. They could easily be the No. 1 duo of all-time.

 

2. Bill Walsh and Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers (1979-1988)

Unfortunately for the Packers, Montana and Walsh came along 20 years later and helped change the way the game was played. If you were to compare the stats, you would see why. But we won’t get into that, because Montana had one of the best, if not the best wide receiver to pass the ball too. That is what helped the Niners be successful during all of the ’80s.

Remember when I told you the ’80s was full of great QBs? Montana might be the greatest from that decade, as he and coach Walsh won six division titles on their way to winning three Super Bowls together. Now, if it wasn’t such a stacked position back then, we might have seen him win even more Super Bowls.

 

1. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, New England Patriots (2000-present)

The best coach-QB duo has got to be these guys. When you look at where all the other QBs were drafted, their success would be a mirror image of that. Brady wasn’t a top QB in his draft class. In fact, he was drafted 199th overall by the Patriots, which made him the seventh QB drafted in that class.

But with Belichick, Brady looked like an elite quarterback. That has been something they continue to prove, as they have won 16 divisional titles and have made it to their ninth Super Bowl. As of now, they sit with five Super Bowl titles, looking to add their sixth, which will give them a tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers for most titles. Brady and Belichick will be the first coach-QB duo to get six titles together in the history of the NFL. There’s no question these two are the best pairing in NFL history. What they have done will never been done again.

 

Honorable Mentions:

With only 10 spots available for the top duos, there were bound to be some duos left off. That is where the honorable mentions come in.

  • Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts (2002-2008)
  • George Seifert and Steve Young, San Francisco 49ers (1989-1996)
  • Bill Parcells and Phil Simms, New York Giants (1983-1990)
  • Bud Grant and Fran Tarkenton, Minnesota Vikings (1972-1978)
  • Sean Payton and Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (2006- present)
  • Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles (1999-2009)

Will Brady and Belichick get their 6th title? Or will they be stuck at five and hoping for Brady to get one more before he turns 45 and retires?

We’ll talk more about Brady and some of these QBs in our next article the morning of Super Bowl LIII, but tell us if we got it right!

Where is your favorite coach-QB duo ranked? Are they in the top 10? Do you think they deserve to be there if they aren’t already? We’re interested in hearing your opinion, so don’t forget to comment below!

Top 15 Super Bowl moments of all-time

After taking the time to look back at some of the best Super Bowl moments for both the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots, we turned our attention to the best moments of their first Super Bowl match. As we prepare ourselves for another encounter between the two teams, we will look back at some of the greatest Super Bowl moments of all-time.

Source: https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=230127&picture=posterization-of-joe-namath

There are several different moments in the 53 year history we could call great. Narrowing it down to just 15 makes it even harder, but we at Fourth Quarter Sports have come together to make it the best we can. So let’s take a look at the top 15 Super Bowl moments of all-time.

 

15. Max McGee’s Touchdown, Super Bowl I

Many people may not think of this as one of the best moments in Super Bowl history, but most of us probably don’t even know who Max McGee is or what team he payed for. He played for the Green Bay Packers in the first ever Super Bowl. His touchdown was the first ever touchdown scored in a Super Bowl. It was a 37-yard pass from QB Bart Starr to open the game. The Packers never looked back.

What makes this moment more special, is that McGee wasn’t even suppose to play after he missed curfew. It’s not like he was the superstar WR on that team. He only caught four passes in the 1966 season. But on that day of Super Bowl I, he was the hero with seven receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns, as the Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10.

 

14. Joe Namath’s Guarantee, Super Bowl III

How could you not put a moment like this on the list? This is known to be one of the greatest upsets in sports history. The best part about it was when quarterback Joe Namath publicly guaranteed a Jets victory. He walked off the field with one finger pointing to the sky as he did what he said he would do. Namath made the guarantee three days prior that the Jets would beat the Baltimore Colts. He did it with a balance of passing and running plays, as running back Matt Snell totaled 121 yards and a touchdown.

Namath and Jets had a 16-0 lead heading into the second half, where the Colts made the decision to change quarterbacks and go back to Johnny Unitas. He led them to a scoring drive. However, it was too late for Unitas and the Colts, as Namath and Jets won the game for the first time in the AFL after the Green Bay Packers won it the past two years in the NFL.

Hear more about how Namath felt after they won here.

 

13. Devin Hester returns opening kickoff against Colts, Super Bowl XLI

It was Super Bowl XLI when we saw the Chicago Bears against the Indianapolis Colts. It was also the first Super Bowl game that featured two African American head coaches (Bears’ Lovie Smith and Colts’ Tony Dungy), which means there is a historical fact to this moment as well. But this was likely the worst moment of the game for the Bears, as they lost to the Colts 29-17 after leading 17-3 at halftime. So why is Devin Hester on the list? Well, he did something that has never been done. That was taking the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown. It went down in history as the fastest TD in the Super Bowl, scored in just 14 seconds.

Let’s keep in mind that Hester was just a rookie returner who led the league in both kickoff and punt returns with six total. This kick return was the first ever opening kickoff return for a TD in a Super Bowl. There were eight other guys who were able to return a kickoff for a TD in a Super Bowl, but none were as special as this one.

Check out the return here.

 

12. John Riggins’ big score, Super Bowl XVII

Riggins was known as “The Diesel” during his time in the NFL. It was moments like this that gave him the name. In the Redskins’ first ever Super Bowl, they were down to the Miami Dolphins 17-13 with 10 minutes left to play. They faced a 4th-and-1 situation on the Dolphins’ 43-yard line. Riggins ran over Dolphins DB Don McNeal for the decisive score that put the Redskins ahead for good. He was the workhorse for the Redskins’ first Super Bowl win, carrying the ball a record 38 times for 166 yards in a Super Bowl. The touchdown run at the moment was the longest run from scrimmage in the history of the Super Bowl.

Check it out here.

 

11. Montana, 49ers win in Bill Walsh’s final NFL game, Super Bowl XXIII

If you thought the Niners were the team in the 80’s, you thought right. That was mostly because of the coach-QB duo of Bill Walsh and Joe Montana, who had a lot of success together, including three Super Bowl titles. This is the most memorable Super Bowl moment, because this was the last game Bill Walsh coached in the NFL.

This Super Bowl was the closest of the three they won together, and the second against the Cincinnati Bengals. This was a Niners team that was down 16-13 with three minutes remaining in the game. The ball was at their own 8-yard line. The Niners were not worried, as they had “Joe Cool” ready to lead the drive, which he did as they capped off a 92-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to WR John Taylor with 34 seconds remaining. That’s the way to end a coaching career. Let’s not forget that Montana and the Niners made it back to the Super Bowl without Walsh and crushed the Denver Broncos 55-10.

Take a look at the game-winning drive of Super XXIII.

 

10. John Elway “Helicopter” Spin, Super Bowl XXXII

Elway and the Broncos struggled to win Super Bowls. In fact, Elway had lost his first three Super Bowl appearances until this Super Bowl, where he pulled out all the stops to get his first Lombardi Trophy. It was Elway’s determination that helped the Broncos pull off this win against the defending Super Bowl champion Packers. Elway took us all on a thrill ride, as he gave us one of the most iconic moments in Super Bowl history.

The Broncos and Packers went back and forth all game, as the Broncos ultimately came out on top 31-24. It was the third quarter drive that was 13 plays and 92-yards that gave the Broncos the lead back in a tied game. One of those plays was an 8-yard scramble for a first down by Elway, in which he dove and got hit by multiple Packers defenders while spinning through the air like a Helicopter. The Broncos followed that up by getting a 1-yard touchdown run by running back Terrell Davis.

Want to watch Elway fly like a Helicopter? Look here!

 

9. Redskins’ Williams becomes first African American QB to win a Super Bowl, Super Bowl XXII

From one successful Broncos Super Bowl to one of the Elway losses. It was Super Bowl XXII when Elway and the Broncos built a quick 10-0 lead in the first quarter. But what would happen next is something that none of us would’ve predicted.

It was a second quarter full of touchdowns, five to be exact. All five were scored by the Washington Redskins and their QB Doug Williams. Williams and the Redskins scored 35 points in a quarter which was the most points ever in a single postseason quarter in NFL history at the time. The first touchdown was an 8-yard touchdown pass from Williams to Ricky Sanders, which tied a record for the longest pass in a Super Bowl game. Sanders and rookie running back Timmy Smith both set Super Bowl records: Sanders for receiving (193) and Smith for rushing (204).

Williams also made history, as he was the first African American QB to win the Super Bowl. He also put himself in the record books with all his success in that one game alone.

Watch this great performance by the Washington Redskins and Doug Williams here.

 

8. The Fridge’s TD, Super Bowl XX

Is your refrigerator running? Maybe you should want it too? That’s what the Chicago Bears did in Super Bowl XX against the New England Patriots. It was already a 34-3 lead with three minutes left in the third quarter, so why not have some fun? Bears coach Mike Dikta made the decision to go with his 300+ pound defensive linemen to run the ball for a 1-yard touchdown. That linemen was rookie William “The Refrigerator” Perry, who lived up to his first-round draft status. Perry became the first 300 pound guy to score a touchdown, and Bears Hall of Fame RB Walter Payton loved it.

Check out the run here.

 

7. Swann is sensational, Super Bowl X

It’s not everyday you can be sensational, unless your name is Lynn Swann and you played for the Pittsburgh Steelers in ’70s. In this Super Bowl, Swann earned MVP honors, as he played the best game of his career. In this game, he made two sensational catches. The first was a juggling catch while falling to the turf for a 53-yard gain, and the other catch was a score on a 64-yard touchdown. It would help the Steelers win their second consecutive Super Bowl, and first of two against the Cowboys.

Check out the catches here.

 

6. Bills’ Norwood missed FG, Super Bowl XXV

When you’re down one point with 2:16 remaining, you have no real pressure on you besides getting into field goal range. That is actually what the Buffalo Bills QB did against the New York Giants, as they were down 20-19. Bills’ QB Jim Kelly marches the team down the field and gets to the Giants’ 29 with eight seconds left. What happened next was part of a long losing streak in the Super Bowl. The Bills had a losing streak in the Super Bowl that will always be remembered. This play is the worst of them all. Bills’ kicker Scott Norwood set up for a game-winning 47-yard field goal, but he misses wide right and their streak continued.

Watch the missed kick by Norwood here.

 

5. Desmond Howard’s 99-yard return, Super Bowl XXVII

In another Super Bowl the Patriots lost, it came down to the speed of one man. That man was Desmond Howard, as he stopped the Patriots momentum from completing a comeback. It was a late score by New England in the third quarter to close within 27-21. That was until Green Bay’s Desmond Howard returns the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown in the Packers’ 35-21 win.

Howard was a nearly unstoppable force as a return specialist, like we saw from his college days. He led the NFL in punt return yardage and touchdowns in 1996, along with the Super Bowl MVP award when he finished with 244 total return yards.

See Howard’s phenomenal run here.

 

4. James Harrison’s 100-yard pick six, Super Bowl XLIII

From a great kickoff return touchdown to an even greater interception returned for touchdown. It was a memorable Super Bowl for the Steelers, as they had two unforgettable plays to help them clinch their 6th Super Bowl (tied most in history). This play was the first one, where James Harrison grabbed an interception off of Arizona Cardinals QB Kurt Warner late in the first half to give them a 17-7 lead. He took the interception 100 yards for a touchdown with seconds remaining in the half. It was the longest play in Super Bowl before it was broken by Jacoby Jones’ 109-yard kickoff return touchdown in Super Bowl XLVII.

Watch the big boy run down the sideline for a score here.

 

3. Dolphins complete perfect season, Super Bowl VII

There is nothing like having a perfect season. There is only one team ever in the NFL who has won all their games. That team was the 1972 Miami Dolphins. The closest team to come to that was the 2010 New England Patriots with their 18-1 record. But the Dolphins were too good and had no worries about their record, besides ruining the chance to shut out the Washington Redskins in the Super Bowl. The only real mistake they made in the game was trying to make something out of an already broken play, when kicker Garo Yepremian attempted to throw a forward pass after a blocked kick and Redskins cornerback Mike Bass would get the team’s only touchdown of the game.

What the Dolphins complete their perfect season here.

 

2. Santonio Holmes goes toes in for the victory, Super Bowl XLIII

This is the second part of an amazing Super Bowl by the Steelers. As you previously read, Harrison made a clutch interception at the end of the first half to put the team ahead by 10 points. But after watching Kurt Warner ledd his team back, the Steelers found themselves down by three with little time left. That was just enough time for Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger to find WR Santonio Holmes in the end zone.

This final drive was all Holmes, as he had four catches for 73 yards. Despite being in tight coverage, Holmes catches the ball and somehow nabbed a game-winning touchdown pass on the tips of his toes, just barely staying in bounds with less than a minute left on the clock.

Don’t miss that great catch here.

 

1. David Tyree helmet catch, Super Bowl XLII

This was the Super Bowl the New England Patriots were supposed to be undefeated in, as they were up 14-10 late in the fourth quarter. It looked like things were going in that direction for the Patriots, until this happened…

New York Giants QB Eli Manning escapes two tackles and launches a pass down field on 3rd-and-five. Giants WR David Tyree jumped and pinned the ball against his helmet for a 32-yard catch that will go done in history as one of the greatest catches of all-time. But that wasn’t game-winner. The Patriots had one more chance to stop the Giants march, until four plays later when Manning connects with Plaxico Burress for the game-winning touchdown, as the Giants shock the previously undefeated New England Patriots.

 

Honorable Mention

As amazing as all these plays have been, there will certainly be many more plays left off. Some of which are in the honorable mentions find below.

Honorable mentions:

  • Jacoby Jones’ 109-yard kickoff return touchdown – Super Bowl XLVII
  • Dyson 1-yard short against Rams – Super Bowl XXXIV
  • Malcom Butler’s goal line Interception- Super Bowl XLIX
  • Adam Vinatieri’s FG for Patriots first Super Bowl win – Super Bowl XXXVI

Others have yet to be determined. Going into this, I wanted to focus on some of the records and first ever moments that led to some plays making it in over others. I couldn’t ignore the first ever Super Bowl with Vince Lombardi as the coach. I mean, the title is named after him. What memorable moments will this year’s Super Bowl bring?

And also don’t forget to return this weekend for some more Super Bowl talk. Please share your thoughts about the top moments in Super Bowl history!

Unpredictable results renewing interest in NFL

Note: Article originally published in The Talon in November of 2018: Dacula High School’s newspaper and is published with permission.

Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on December 25, 2011.” by Mike Morbeck is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Since the early 2000s, the New England Patriots have dominated the NFL, appearing in the Super Bowl eight times and winning five. Along with that, as a Chicago native, my beloved Bears were not doing so well, so it felt like every season was the same. But on Sep. 9, 2018, I witnessed two results which made me question my lack of interest in football. That was the Houston Texans losing to the New England Patriots 20-27 and the Green Bay Packers beating the Chicago Bears 23-24. Just like before, the Patriots won and the Bears lost, but this time, the wins for the Patriots and the Packers were much harder to achieve.

I was still questioning if football can really become this entertaining again, and if the Bears were really capable of challenging the top teams this season. But that weekend, two other surprising results posed new questions. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beating the New Orleans Saints 48-40 and the Pittsburgh Steelers tying the Cleveland Browns? After drafting running back Alvin Kamara from the University of Tennessee, the New Orleans Saints were not just massive favorites to top their division, but also to perhaps make a run to the Super Bowl. However, Tampa Bay’s signing of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick produced results with their offense, managing to score eight more than the Saints. The second result really put Pittsburgh to shame. The Cleveland Browns. The Browns. The team that had won only once in two years? Seriously Pittsburgh? They could not beat the Browns?

This result is promising, a promise of more competition, more fun, more unpredictability. As I started to renew my interest in the NFL, the Cleveland Browns played the New Orleans Saints, and nearly won. The Browns had reassured their seriousness this season, and despite not being able to win against the Steelers, they took on a far harder challenge and almost handed the Saints what would have been their second embarrassing defeat of the season. However, later that week, an even crazier result happened. Yet another tie took place, this time between rivals Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers. After scoring 22 points in the final quarter, the Vikings fought the Packers to a draw in overtime, not only making the competition between these two teams fiercer, but also creating a new pathway for the other teams in the NFC North, the Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions to move to the top.

That was exactly what happened. The Chicago Bears won their next three games, including a game-changing 17-24 victory against the Seattle Seahawks and a 10-48 thumping of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and moved to number one in the NFC North. Today, Chicago’s arch-rival Green Bay is on the verge of not making the playoffs, a team who has made the NFL playoffs 13 times since 2001! However, it is not just the Bears who are having an incredible season. The Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans are all having really excellent seasons, with the Dolphins holding a 5-5 record and the Bengals and Titans boasting a 5-4 record (including a Titans’ massive 34-10 victory over the New England Patriots in Week 10).

Normally, by now, well over half-way into the season, it should have been easy to predict who will make the playoffs, if that has not been decided by now already. But right now, no team has clinched the playoffs. Even the Cleveland Browns, with their three wins, are still in contention for the playoffs. It is nearly impossible to predict exactly which team will compose the playoff bracket, as the competition is so tight. For example, in the AFC, the Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins are all on five wins, but it is unlikely all three teams can make the playoffs, thus building a very interesting and tough concentration. In the NFC, the usually more competitive conference, five teams are all currently tied on four wins, with Super Bowl winners Philadelphia Eagles on the same level as the Dallas Cowboys right now. Because the “weaker” teams have been playing really well this season, giving trouble to the usual dominators of the NFL, even a team like the Oakland Raiders, with only one win, has not been eliminated from playoff contention yet (although it is highly unlikely they make it).

With only six weeks left, the playoff picture is still really blurry. Not only is it unclear as to which teams will make the playoffs, predicting the winners of the next few matches are going to be really difficult. For the first time in years, strong teams like the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks could be forced to give up their spots for teams like the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears. All of this together makes for one of the best NFL seasons in the modern era, one of the most entertaining seasons, and most definitely one of the most heart-stopping.

New Year’s resolutions for every AFC team who missed the playoffs

A new year has come, and with it the many resolutions we swear to. Each year we promise we are going to go to the gym more, or see the world more. Some short lived, some we actually see through.

NFL teams have New Year’s resolutions just like us. Below I’ve provided you with the resolutions for every AFC team who did missed the playoffs. I decided to keep the playoff teams out, because it is pretty obvious what their resolution should be. Win a Super Bowl.

Gregg Williams” by Erik Drost is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Just like ours, some are probably not going to be seen through, while others I think have a chance of happening up to the kickoff of 2019. Along with the teams, I also provided resolutions for each division and what they hope to accomplish for 2019.

Part two, the NFC resolutions will come out early next week.

 

AFC East

Resolution: For any team but the Patriots to win the division next season

New England has had a stranglehold on the crown for ten years straight. I think I speak for everyone when I say it’s getting pretty old. No one has seemed to come close to the top. It really has made the division a laughing stock in the league. One has to assume the Patriots’ success has to be tied to the fact that New England plays the Bills, Jets and Dolphins twice a year. This year the Patriots’ road to clinching the division was through Buffalo and the Jets at home. The NFL will be a better place if just one team decides to be consistently competitive in the AFC East.

New York Jets

Resolution: Get Jim Harbaugh/No sophomore slump for Darnold

The Jets’ resolution is two parts. The first, the Jets have to do whatever it takes to ensure Sam Darnold does not go through a sophomore slump in 2019. They cannot afford to have Darnold regress in 2019 with a new coach. Darnold did not have an overly impressive rookie season. Though he had a bunch of bright spots, the Jets need Darnold to have a coming out party in 2019 to show 2018 was not a waste. Something good has to come out of this miserable season.

The second part of this resolution is in regards to the recent reports the Jets are pursuing Michigan’s Head Coach Jim Harbaugh. Though the reports have been refuted by Ian Rappaport, Jets ownership has been supposedly going to make the Michigan man an offer he can’t refuse. One that is well north of his already lucrative seven million a year contract. If that part can happen, you can almost guarantee Darnold is going to take steps in the right direction in 2019. They just  may be able to take over as the Kings of New York, at least for one year.

Buffalo Bills

Resolution: Spoil Josh Allen

The Bills’ resolution revolves around taking care of their prized possession, Josh Allen. I am fairly confident Allen has proven to most he has all the tools and intangibles to be a productive quarterback. The issue is, he did not have the ability to display those skills on a consistent basis. He is not good enough to make bad receivers look good. Throwing the ball to the likes of Robert Woods or Zay Jones did not help out Allen at all. No offense to them, but they are not clear cut number ones who can change the course of a game. The Bills have struck out as of late trying to get viable weapons at the Wide Receiver positions. Drafting Sammy Watkins, who ended up being a bust. Making a trade for Kelvin Benjamin, which showed the front offices incompetency. They need to do better for Allen. If they can’t get someone to throw to, then write a big check on the insurance policy and revamp the offensive line. Do something that will help Josh Allen carry this franchise to success, not make it harder.

Miami Dolphins

Resolution: Hire a coach with the intention of keeping them for more than three years

The Dolphins magically were on the cusp of a possible playoff birth with a few weeks remaining in 2018. The most inconsistent team in the NFL this year, the Dolphins looked like a dangerous playoff team one week, only to look like a team with no identity the next. The quick flashes of great play though were not enough to keep Adam Gase’s job, as he was fired a few days after their embarrassing 42-17 loss to the Bills.

The Dolphins are starting another off-season in the all to familiar position of finding a new head coach. They yet again let go of another coach after three seasons and mediocre numbers. Gase was 23-25 with one playoff appearance in three years. Wins matter, and owners have zero patience when it comes to waiting for them, so I get the move. 2019 has to be different for the Dolphins though. Thus their new year resolution has to be the either finding the right man for the job, who brings them back to the winning culture of the past, or they grow enough patience to at least give their new coach the time to get it right. I am not talking Marvin Lewis kind of time, but maybe four years, especially if they show some kind of promise. No Dolphins coach has lasted more than four seasons since Don Shula left in 1995. 2019 needs to be the year that changes.

 

AFC North

Resolution: The Browns win the division next year

This resolution is pretty easy for me. The North has long been dominated by the Steelers and Ravens. There needs to be a change, since the Steelers are looking more like a circus than a football team and the Ravens are too boring for the NFL’s liking to be the face of the North. Enter Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns. The North needs the Browns and Baker Mayfield to win the division in 2019 in a big way.

Cincinnati Bengals

Resolution: DO NOT HIRE HUE JACKSON

So the Bengals already accomplished my resolution for 2019, which was to fire Marvin Lewis and just start over. I honestly didn’t think that it would actually happen, so I am kind of surprised. I figured the only way he was to leave was if he just resigned. But the Bengals finally decided they are better than being mediocre every year.

I naturally felt good for the city of Cincinnati and all of their fans. That was until I remembered they hired Hue Jackson earlier in the season. There is a big possibility of him being their next Head Coach. Jackson saw great success while he was their offensive coordinator, enough success that landed him the job in Cleveland. Judging by the fact Bengals ownership allowed Lewis to stay their head coach for 16 years, they just may pull the trigger on a familiar face and name.

So now my resolution for the Bengals has transformed into them NOT HIRING HUE JACKSON. If they were to do that, you can bet they would be winless against the Browns and probably every team during the duration of his tenure there. Based off of the Bengals’ track record, that may be a long time!

Cleveland Browns

Resolution: Keep Gregg Williams as their Head Coach

The Browns are in unfamiliar territory. They are coming off one of their most successful seasons in recent memory and for once are going into an off-season with a lot of expectations. None of that will matter though if they decide to go in a different direction and get them a new head coach not named Gregg Williams.

The Browns clearly transformed once Jackson was let go and Williams took over. They adopted his demeanor and played with a relentless drive to win. Besides that, Williams, along with his offensive coordinator Eddie Kitchens, were able to harness Mayfield’s talent and bravado and turned it into a style that led men on and off the field. Williams is the perfect fit at head coach because his attitude matches his starting quarterback. No nonsense, “not here to make friends” mentality, that done right can result in many wins for a team and fanbase that has not seen many.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Resolution: Hope Ben Roethlisberger retires

It is time. The Steelers need an obvious shot of life right now. One of the most historic, iconic NFL franchises is being viewed as a joke right now. To many Steeler faithful, that is unacceptable.

Julius in Remember the Titans said it best when he told captain Gary Bertier that “Attitude reflects leadership, captain.” The Steelers have a mixed bag of personalities, egos and talent that have brought them a long way, but the name that leads them all is their quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The team goes as far as he does. Recently, though putting up gaudy numbers, his attitude and questionable leadership skills have been dragging down a proud organization and fanbase. From him putting everyone on retirement watch to him blowing his injuries out of proportion, to calling people out on radio shows, Big Ben’s attitude is rubbing off on the rest of the team finally and the Steelers need him out.

They need 2019 to be the year he exits the league on his own, because the Steelers will never let him go, so in turn they will continue to get worse.

 

AFC South

Resolution: Prove they are a strong division

The South once again has two teams in the playoffs. An underrated division going into the season, the South has once again proven that in a dogfight, they will win. They need this momentum to carry forward into 2019 and make sure what we saw in 2017 and 2018 was not a fluke. Their division as a whole needs to be more competitive outside their own and prove the only reason why two teams represent the south for the second year in a row is not that of the fact that they have a weak division.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Resolution: Make people forget how bad the 2018 season was

I do not care what the Jaguars have to do, but they need to do something that makes their fans forget just how disappointing the 2018 season was for them. Very similar to when the Raiders went 6-10 in 2017 after going 12-4 with a playoff appearance the year before, the Jaguars came into 2018 with a tremendous amount of hype and expectations. Not only did they fall short to the lofty expectations, but they also managed to make 2018 into a train wreck, where there are more questions than answers.

Bortles was their answer, but now he is not. Fournette was poised to be the next great NFL running back to start 2018, but it ended with his future as a Jaguar in question. Jalen Ramsey was more worried about other teams’ quarterbacks other than his own. Their elite defense crumbled under the pressure of carrying their team once again to the playoffs.

The Jaguars need something to happen. Anything to happen to make everyone talk about something else and not how bad 2018 was in Jacksonville. From either firing their coach to making a big signing or trade, Jacksonville needs some kind of reprieve from the madness and aggravation.  

Tennessee Titans

Resolution: Make Marcus Mariota the main man

The Titans are a well-disciplined football team. They play smart fundamental football and take away a gutsy failed two-point conversion call late in the fourth because they did not want to tie against the Chargers, then I may be writing about the Colts right now instead.

Just like the Dolphins, the Titans played inspired football, only to follow it up with dismal performances which make you question which team is the real Titans. Part of their success is that they finally got Derrick Henry moving. He provided a jolt to the team and put an identity to them. The issue is though, Henry is not the answer. Mariota is. Until they provide him the weapons he needs, Tennessee will find themselves in this situation more often than not. They need to make sure that going into the 2019 season, Delanie Walker is not their number one weapon in the passing game. They need to make a big but smart splash in either free agency or the draft that builds Mariota’s confidence to see if he is the franchise quarterback they all thought he would be a couple of years ago.

 

AFC West

Resolution: Their two playoff teams right now need to make it to the Super Bowl

This resolution is more for the teams who are in the playoffs right now, the Chiefs and Chargers. The West needs to have one of their two teams in Super Bowl, and at the very least make the AFC Championship. The Chiefs for the past couple of season have been on top of the division, only to be bounced out in their first playoff game. That cannot happen this year as the top dog in the AFC. The Chargers are riding the coattails of Philip Rivers in what could be his last chance of a Super Bowl. The Chargers have disappointed the West way too much in the past and could use a run from the second-best team record-wise in the AFC, but the fifth-ranked team in the playoffs.

Denver Broncos

Resolution: Build around Phillip Lindsey

When the Broncos have been successful, there has always been a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback behind it. When the Broncos made the Super Bowl, it was with either Elway or Manning under center.

Denver will not find that with Case Keenum. He is a game manager, not a game changer. There is nothing wrong with that though, as long as you have a good running back who can carry the load. The Broncos have struck out in recent memory with drafting running backs, so it is pretty ironic that the one they found success with is one they did not draft. Phillip Lindsey is a dynamic multi-faceted running back who played more of a role in Broncos’ victories than Keenum did.

Elway needs to realize this and bring in a coach who will build a system around him who will run first to set up the pass, which I think is the exact system Keenum will excel in. The question is, will Elway do this or try to sign a big-name quarterback?

Oakland Raiders

Resolution: Settle on any place to play their home games this year that is not in San Francisco

It is well known the Raiders most likely played their last game in Oakland Coliseum. Yes, it is sad, but long overdue. The Raiders are the only NFL team who was still playing their home games on a converted baseball field. Though it helped win two of their games this year, they deserve a lot better. One of the solutions that was suggested was to have their home games played in Levi Stadium, which is the home field for the 49ers.

That is like recommending Michigan play its home games in Ohio State’s stadium. It is just a bad idea. The Raiders hate the 49ers and the Niners hate the Raiders. It is just how it is, and I do not see good things happening if the Raiders and Niners shared a field for 2019. Though it is not ideal, I would rather see them play at UNLV or even Bishop Gorman High School in Vegas (before you question my decisions just Google them and you will see their facilities rival those of top Division 1 football programs.)

Yes, I get the Raiders have a lot more problems than where to play, but if they want their loyal fans continuing to come, then they need to provide them with a better solution than playing at their rivals home.  

Wild Card watch: Update on the race with three weeks remaining

Two weeks ago I posted a blog about the wildcard picture in both the AFC and NFC. With three weeks remaining in the season, I revisit some of my thoughts and update you on the Wild Card races.

15209895019_95244e8893_k.jpg
Terrell Suggs, Cam Newton” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

By Dennis Olmstead

 

Panthers are all but done

I have been duped. I trusted the Panthers and what they have in Carolina. The talent on that roster is not translating to the field, which has caused them to go on a losing streak. That streak couldn’t come at a worse time.

The fifth seed is all but locked by Seattle, but the sixth seed is WIDE open right now. Even with Carolina’s poor play, they still miraculously have a shot at the playoffs. The issue is their chances of making it are slim to none. With three games remaining, the Panthers play the NFC leading Saints twice. They’re in New Orleans this Monday, finishing the season up with them coming to Charlotte. In between the two meetings, they have Atlanta at home.

The Vikings are the only reason the Panthers are still in the hunt. Minnesota has been matching the Panthers losses the last two weeks and also have no right to be mentioned in the same sentence as the playoffs. Back to back close losses to the Buccaneers and Browns have made the road to the playoffs for the Panthers very challenging, if not impossible. They need to play the best football they have played this season three straight weeks. Even that may not be enough.

 

Cowboys are proving it’s better to be lucky than good sometimes

It is so very hard for me to accept the fact that the Cowboy’s are good. I cannot and will not take away their wins against the Saints and Eagles, but they certainly made their lives a lot harder and the games more exciting by keeping them close. I get it, a win is a win, but their inability to close out games when they have the opportunity to is a sign the team may not be as good as advertised.

Let me provide you with some stat lines from the game against the Eagles:

Prescott: 42/54, 455 yards, three TD’s and two INT’s

Elliot: 28 carries, 113 yards, 12 catches and 79 yards

Cooper: 10 catches, 217 yards and three TD’s

With those great offensive numbers, they still needed OT to win the game. A defense that held Drew Brees to 10 points let up 22. You may be wondering why am I focused on the Cowboys when I am writing about the Wild Card Race. Legit question, but if you read my predictions two weeks ago, you would know then that I foresaw an epic collapse by the Cowboys. They have not done that and I am bitter. Them atop of the NFC East and the struggles of the Panthers and Vikings still leaves a window open for the Eagles to make playoffs. That window is extremely small and will most likely close quickly this Sunday against the Rams. Like the Cowboys’ victory against the Saints taught us, anything can happen.

 

The AFC race just got better:

With the Colts and Ravens going 1-1 in the last two games (Colts lost to the Jags and beat the Texans. Ravens beat Atlanta and lost to KC), the Dolphins and Titans capitalized on it by going 2-0, officially making it a four horse race.

This Sunday could be the week where one or two teams separate themselves from the pack.

Of the four teams, the Dolphins and Colts have the toughest matchups this week. Though their recent struggles, Minnesota is still a good football team with talent that keeps them in every game they play. Miami needs to refocus after a big win against New England and keep that momentum going. The Dolphins have been the most up and down team we have seen this season and could be in for a hangover and let down when they travel up north to Viking country. The Colts have the hottest team in football coming to town, the Cowboys. It is a tough matchup, but the Colts at home have been very good. After ending the Texans’ win streak, they will be looking to put out the fire surrounding the Cowboys.

Both the Colts and Dolphins can easily lose those games, leaving the Ravens and Titans an opportunity to separate themselves. I will admit, I have not given the Ravens enough credit this season. They are a gritty team that has proven to be a lot harder to beat than I thought. They played hard against the Chiefs, nearly stealing a big game. Tampa Bay proves to be an easier match-up than KC, but have been sneaky good at times and could give the Ravens fits if they are not ready for it.

The Titans also have a winnable game, at least if they show up the same way they did against the Jaguars Thursday Night. The Giants will give them problems, but I think last week’s win can fuel Tennessee for a big run to end the season. The Giants could be just a speed bump in the way of the last playoff spot. But just like the Dolphins, just when you think they have it all right, they don’t show up the next week.

If I had to guess, I’d say the Dolphins lose, Colts win, Ravens win and Titans lose. Making it Ravens (8-6) Colts (8-6) Titans (7-7) Dolphins (7-7)

These teams are still in the hunt, but I did not mention because they need a lot of help. Broncos (6-7) and Browns (5-8) in the AFC and Giants (5-8) and Packers (5-7-1) in the NFC.

The QB Ghosts of Florida

Halloween.png
Jameis Winston” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 and “Halloween Pumpkin Dark” is licensed under CC0 Creative Commons

Lean in and I’ll tell you not one, but three ghost stories this Halloween. These harrowing tales of NFL “franchise quarterbacks” gone awry and mediocre management are sure to make you gasp with shock and tremble in fright (or, at the very least, ponder, rub your chin, and let out a pensive “hmm.”) These accounts are not for the faint of heart, and may hit a bit too close to home if you’re a fan of any of these three NFL franchises in Florida. So before you continue, don’t say you weren’t warned. For those who aren’t fans of any of the Florida franchises, sit back, pop some leftover Halloween candy, and enjoy the haunting ride.

 

Tampa Terror

Upon being drafted with the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, “Famous Jameis” Winston was supposed to be the savior the Bucs needed at the quarterback position. He was expected to improve each year and lead Tampa to playoff contention. Instead, his tenure has brought about contention and unmet expectations. While his numbers largely stayed steady from 2015-2017, this season, he has been humbled. With just 6 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, “Famous Jameis” is remaining famous for all the wrong reasons. Winston has only himself to blame for missing the first three games of the season. With all of his disturbing off-the-field baggage, it’s a wonder he’s still plugging away as an NFL QB. On the field, Jameis is officially becoming a ghost – Ryan Fitzpatrick will start for the Bucs in this week’s game against the Carolina Panthers. The memory of Winston’s subpar starts will linger and haunt fans in Tampa until they reach the heights of playoff contention again, whenever that may be.

 

Dolphin Doom

Oh how fans of the Miami Dolphins must yearn for the days of Dan Marino. Since his retirement in 1999, the Dolphins have started a number of quarterbacks who were unable to match his glossy statistics or playoff acumen (I get that he never won “The Big One,” but hey, at least he made it there.) From Jay Fiedler to Matt Moore and beyond, nothing has seemed to work. This is a franchise that hasn’t made it out of the divisional round of the postseason since 1992. At 4-4, the Dolphins postseason hopes for this season aren’t dead yet. But, when will they find a reliable, statistically sound signal caller to drag them from the dark depths of mediocrity? Ryan Tannehill and Brock Osweiler are workable QBs, but they are not Marino. This is an ongoing ghost tale that will be fascinating to watch unfold.

 

Jacksonville Jaws

In Florida, one has to beware the jaws of alligators. The way this year’s Jaguars are playing, the Florida Gators probably believe they can challenge and chomp this unit. For a team that made it all the way to the AFC Championship game last season, 2018’s Jaguar squad is off to a bumpy start. At 3-5, the Jaguars’ playoff chances are already on life support. The ever-outspoken Jalen Ramsey has been silent and their injury prognosis is grim. Lest they become offseason zombies without a playoff berth, the Jaguars must take inventory and assess their quarterback position. Statistically, Blake Bortles is arguably having his worst season since his rookie year in 2014. With 10 TDs to 8 INTs, his reliability appears to be in question. The Jags are still pinning much of their hopes on Leonard Fournette coming back and frustrating opposing defenses, but they need Bortles to be effective and relatively error free to truly contend for a Super Bowl. If Landry Jones takes the place of Bortles due to injury, does anyone really think he is the one who will lead Jacksonville to their first Super Bowl appearance? Stranger things have happened. Kurt Warner went from grocery stocking to Super Bowl MVP. A sixth-round man named Brady became the GOAT. But would I bet on Jones (or Bortles, for that matter) to elevate their team to similar heights? I’m ‘afraid’ not.

Which ‘cursed’ Florida team do you think will find the fastest success at the quarterback position? Fellow ghost hunters: contemplate and comment your perspective. Happy Halloween!