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Week 4 NFL Power Rankings

1. New England Patriots 3-0 (Last Week: 2nd)

Bill Belichick continues to defy the odds, coming off a 27-0 route of the Houston Texans last Thursday Night with Jacoby Brissett under center. The defense is playing dominant at all levels and it is hard to imagine how this team can lose, despite who is at QB. With Brissett out due to injury, the expectation is that the Emergency Quarterback (and former college QB), Julian Edelman will start against the Bills this coming Sunday. Whoever is holding down QB duties for one more game before Tom Brady returns, it is hard to envision New England losing a game. (CG)

2. Denver Broncos 3-0 (Last Week: 5th)

We all knew the Broncos had an elite defense, but Trevor Siemian absolutely torched the Cincinnati defense on the road this past Sunday for four touchdowns. If Siemian can continue his impressive play, Denver could be even better than they were in their Super Bowl campaign from a year ago, when Peyton Manning was sadly a shell of his former self. At this point, the Broncos look like a team that will have every opportunity to defend the Lombardi Trophy. (CG)

3. Minnesota Vikings 3-0 (Last Week: 6th)

The Vikings continue to impress, coming off another dominant defensive performance against a 2015 playoff team. They went into Carolina as seven-point underdogs and beat the defending NFC Champs in convincing fashion. With one of the league’s best defenses and newly acquired Sam Bradford playing at a very high level, the sky is the limit for Minnesota this season. (CG)

4. Green Bay Packers 2-1 (Last Week: 7th)

The Packers rebounded nicely, taking down their division rival in the Lions this past week. Following a very disappointing loss to the Vikings a week prior, the Green Bay offense once again flexed its muscles and showed that it is still one of the NFL’s best. The Packers draw an early bye, therefore we will need to wait another week before we can fully regain the confidence that they are true Super Bowl contenders. (CG)

5. Philadelphia Eagles 3-0 (Last Week: 17th)

The Eagles are the current surprise team of the NFL, especially after a 34-3 thrashing of the Steelers (our former #3 team). The defensive line is playing at an extremely high level as Carson Wentz, the talk of the NFL and front-runner for Rookie of the Year, continues to dazzle after winning NFC Player of the Week honors. (CG)

6. Carolina Panthers 1-2 (Last Week: 1st)

Carolina lost at home to the Vikings, getting soundly beat on both sides of the ball. Cam threw 3 interceptions, but accounted for their only touchdown. The Panthers have division matchups the next 3 weeks, so whatever went wrong (and it was quite a bit) on Sunday needs to get fixed if they want a chance at returning to the big game. Player to Watch: Look for Kelvin Benjamin to bounce back against a weak Falcons secondary. (CH)

7. Seattle Seahawks 2-1 (Last Week: 10th)

Seattle cruises past the 49ers to improve to 2-1. The Offense was running on all cylinders until Russell Wilson suffered an MCL sprain in the 3rd quarter. Jimmy Graham put up an impressive day with 100 yards and a score along with the emergence of journeyman RB Christian Michael adding 106 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. The biggest concern facing the Seahawks is Russell Wilson’s health. Without Wilson they go from a Super Bowl contender to a fringe playoff team. (DH)

8. Pittsburgh Steelers 2-1 (Last Week: 3rd)

The Steelers are coming off their worst loss since 1989, after being decimated by the Philadelphia Eagles. Pittsburgh let themselves become one-dimensional once they fell behind and it cost them dearly. Despite being shut down in such a convincing fashion, this is still a Super Bowl-caliber team that should bounce back for Sunday Night Football against the Chiefs. (CG)

9. Arizona Cardinals 1-2 (Last Week: 4th)

The Card’s drop to 1-2 after a shocking loss to the depleted Buffalo Bills. LeSean McCoy shredded the defensive line for 110 yards and two scores. Carson Palmer had 4 interceptions on the day and looked completely out of sync with all of his pass catching options. I still believe the Cardinals have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, but they will be in a heap of trouble if they continue to perform based on expectations versus execution. (DH)

10. Baltimore Ravens 3-0 (Last Week: 14th)

The Baltimore defense is playing very well and is much of the reason for their 3-0 mark. Despite being 3-0, they are the lowest ranked undefeated team in our rankings. A lot of that is due to their wins coming against teams with a combined record of 1-8. The Ravens get their toughest test of the reason when they welcome the up-and-coming Raiders this Sunday. (CG)

11. Houston Texans 2-1 (Last Week: 8th)

After reeling off 2 impressive defensive performances, the Texans were chomping at the bit to get after Patriots rookie QB Jacoby Brissett in his 1st career start. Unfortunately, Bill Belichick had the perfect mix of quick passes & designed runs for his young QB and a heavy dose of LeGarrette Blount to shutout the Texans 27-0. Look for “Glock” Osweiler to air it out against a poor Titans secondary this week. (JA)

12. Cincinnati Bengals 1-2 (Last Week: 9th)

Its hard to kill the Bengals because they have opened up their schedule against opponents who had a combined record of 32-16 in 2015. However, getting manhandled in a homeowner the way they did was very disheartening. The term “must win” may sound ridiculous for Week 4, but with the competition Cincinnati deals with in AFC North, that may be the case for Thursday Night against the Dolphins if they want the postseason to remain a realistic goal. (CG)

13. New York Giants 2-1 (Last Week: 11th)

The Giants suffered their first loss against their division rival, Redskins, in what could have been considered a desperation game for Washington, who earned their first victory of 2016. The New York offense and defense continue to impress, but they were not able to overcome the costly interceptions thrown by Eli Manning. Despite dropping to 2-1, the Giants should be in the NFC East hunt until the end. (CG)

14. Kansas City Chiefs 2-1 (Last Week: 13)

The Chiefs dropped a spot in the rankings, despite improving to 2-1. The talented defense picked off six passes from the Jets’ Ryan Fitzpatrick. Kansas City will likely be on the Broncos’ tail all season and the Raiders are no longer a pushover. However, they will face a tough test when traveling to Pittsburgh to play a very angry Steelers team on Sunday Night Football. (CG)

15. Dallas Cowboys 2-1 (Last Week: 18th)

The Cowboys are not the only NFC East team with a rookie QB playing well, as Dak Prescott continues to show signs of being the long-term replacement for Tony Romo. The defense is suspect, at best, but Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli is doing a phenomenal job with a major lack of talent. (CG)

16. Oakland Raiders 2-1 (Last Week: 11th)

A win and improvement to 2-1 against the lowly Titans was not convincing enough to prevent the Raiders from dropping five spots in this week’s rankings. The defense played much better after surrendering 70 points in the first two games, but that still remains a concern. Oakland gets the toughest test of the early season when they travel to Baltimore to face the 3-0 Ravens. (CG)

17. Atlanta Falcons 2-1 (Last Week: 18th)

Atlanta won their second straight of the season, soaring over the Saints in a Monday night shootout. They also did it without any help from Julio Jones, but don’t expect that to continue. The Falcons have a tough 3-week stretch, and need to win at home against Carolina to keep their early lead in the NFC South. Player to Watch: Tevin Coleman is 2nd on the team in receiving and has 4 more rushing TD’s than Devonta Freeman, but will he continue his dominance against the Panthers? (CH)

18. New York Jets 1-2 (Last Week: 12th)

The Jets went down in ugly fashion in Kansas City. The offense, despite its firepower, was inept and not helped out by Ryan Fitzpatrick’s six interceptions. New York still has a top-ten defense, but they will need to get much better play from Fitzpatrick and the offense as a whole if they want to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2010. (CG)

19. Detroit Lions 1-2 (Last Week: 20th)

The Lions have played better than a 1-2 team, but ran into the proverbial buzzsaw on Sunday when they had to travel to Green Bay for the Packers’ home opener. The expectations were exacerbated after the Packers suffered a bad loss a week prior. The offense is strong, but the defense is struggling and could be the reason Detroit misses the playoffs for the fifth straight season. (CG)

20. Indianapolis Colts 1-2 (Last Week: 22nd)

It was nice to see the Andrew Luck – T.Y. Hilton connection make an appearance in a comeback win over the Chargers for the first win of the season. With a less than stellar defense, the former number #1 overall pick in 2012 gives the Colts optimism for the future but he’ll need more than just Hilton to get the 2nd win of the season in London against the Jaguars. (JA)

21. San Diego Chargers 1-2 (Last Week: 19th)

The Chargers are another one of those teams that have played better than their record, even with their major losses to injury. Phillip Rivers is the king of keeping his team close, but coming up short in the end. Come December, some of these early-season losses could keep San Diego in the AFC West cellar. (CG)

22. Los Angeles Rams (Last Week: 27th)

Aside from the Seahawks, the top spot in the NFC West is shared with the LA Rams. The Rams
topped the TB Bucs 37-32 improving to 2-1. The Rams finally scored their first touchdown and Todd Gurley was finally productive. Rams have some play makers on the defensive line in Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn and their offense is Todd Gurley. The Rams face divisional rival Cardinals on Sunday and we should have more clarity on how the NFC West will shake out. The countdown to Jared Goff continues. (DH)

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1-2 (Last Week: 21st)

Tampa Bay lost a disappointing game to the Rams, allowing LA to score its first touchdown of the season. They also don’t take BS, as they parted ways with Austin Seferian-Jenkins following a DUI. Winston is tied for the NFL lead with 8 TD passes, but is second in INT’s. Charles Sims proved to be a solid fill-in for Doug Martin, and Adam Humphries turned in his best game yet. The Bucs will host Denver next week, who pose a real challenge for the offense. Player to Watch: Cameron Brate had a great game following ASJ’s release, he’ll continue to play a big role against a tough Broncos defense. (CH)

24. Washington Redskins 1-2 (Last Week: 28th)

The Redskins got off the schneid by getting their first win of the season and getting back in the NFC East race. Washington played with a sense of urgency and Kirk Cousins played is best game in 2016. The inconsistency of Cousins is a concern and the injuries in the secondary will not make things easier for a defensive unit that had an uphill battle even when healthy. At this point, the chances of repeating as NFC East Champs look very remote. (CG)

25. Buffalo Bills 1-2 (29th)

The Bills escaped the premature NFL label of becoming irrelevant in 2016 by handling the Arizona Cardinals and earning their first win of the season. The defense came to life and Lesean McCoy led the offense with an superb performance on the ground. Buffalo will be faced with a unique challenge against the Pats this Sunday, regardless of the QB they end up having to face. (CG)

26. Tennessee Titans 1-2 (Last Week: 23rd)

Riding high on a comeback win against Detroit, the Titans hoped to keep the momentum going at home vs Oakland. If it wasn’t for a 3 turnovers and a pointless penalty in the closing minute of the game, the Titans would’ve come away with the W. An interesting matchup of Tennessee’s run game against Houston’s front 7 is on deck. (JA)

27. New Orleans Saints 0-3 (Last Week: 25th)

The Saints keep finding ways to avoid a W, dropping to 0-3 for the second straight year.  The one positive thing from this past week was holding Julio Jones to a 16-yard catch – but at the expense of allowing 45 points. Fleener looked much better, catching 7 passes for over 100 yards and a score. They’ll play a more-than-likely shootout in San Diego before getting a week 5 bye. Players to Watch: With Snead, Cooks, and Fleener getting the attention on offense, look for rookies Michael Thomas and Tommylee Lewis to make some big plays against San Diego’s 30th-ranked pass defense. (CH)

28. Miami Dolphins 1-2 (Last Week: 26th)

The Dolphins finally got in the win column, after defeating the hapless Browns in their home opener. It was one of the more uninspiring victories you will see, given that it took overtime and a missed Cleveland field goal to come on top 30-24. Based on the performance of the team through Weeks 1-3, it looks like a long season for Miami. (CG)

29. Jacksonville Jaguars 0-3 (Last Week: 24th)

Another week, another loss for the Jaguars. Though this offense moves behind the arm of Blake Bortles, it also stalls with him continually tossing picks each week. Behind an injured, rotating offensive line and lackluster run game opposing teams will continue to make Bortles beat them through the air. Good thing the Jags get the Colts 27th ranked passing defense up next. (JA)

30. San Francisco 49ers 1-2 (Last Week: 30th)

Colin Kaepernick receives so much publicity because there is nothing else to talk about in San Francisco. Carlos Hyde is the sole play maker on the offensive side of the ball and no defense can be productive under Chip Kelly’s up tempo offense. A lack of talent combined with a tired defense leads to ugly football. OT Anthony Davis decided to call it quits mid-season and I don’t blame him. (DH)

31. Chicago Bears 0-3 (Last Week: 31st)

Things seem to just keep getting worse for the Bears, as they now have lost Kyle Fuller for the season. Chicago slipped to 0-3 after a pedestrian effort against the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. Injuries and a roster already devoid of talent will make wins hard to come by for the Bears this season. (CG)

32. Cleveland Browns 0-3 (Last Week: 32nd)

The Browns were a 46-yard field goal from Cody Parkey away from earning their first win of the season. Sadly, Cleveland will not have as many good chances to get a win as they last this past Sunday in Miami. Hue Jackson has the team playing hard, but the lack of talent on both sides of the ball will keep the Browns in line for a top pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. (CG)

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Players Who Sucked This Week

Sorry I’m late on this week’s post, I had to take yesterday off for my birthday. Since I missed a day, a few MLB hitters caught a break by turning in a good game last night, just missing the list.

 

FOOTBALL

Ryan Fitzpatrick threw 6 interceptions, tied for 2nd most all time in a game. Not all were his fault, but man that is awful. This isn’t the first time he’s played catch with the defense.

Who needs eyes when you got ninja vision?

Who needs eyes when you got ninja vision?

The Houston Texans couldn’t score this week, losing to the Patriots behind 3rd-string QB Jacoby Brissett. They should look into drafting a quarterback next year.

Delaware State got blown out by Mizzou. I know they’re a D2 school and playing on the road, but 79-0? They were down 58-0 at halftime, and the 3rd and 4th quarters were shortened to 10 min each! Like Jesse Palmer said “That’s impressive…even against 13-year olds”.

Justin Forsett continues to underperform and hurt my fantasy team. Get it together man!

 

BASEBALL

Two hitters couldn’t get a hit this past week: one guy who isn’t known for his bat (Kurt Suzuki went 0-12), and the other who is having a breakout year (Rougned Odor going 0-22 with 6 strikeouts.) Brandon Moss barely outplayed them, managing just 1 hit in 22 at bats while striking out 8 times.

Alex Cobb got throttled this week, giving up 15 runs in 4 ⅓ innings. He got the loss in both games, a fitting way to end the Rays season.

Jarred Cosart couldn’t get past the 1st inning against the Giants this past Saturday, giving up 3 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks.

Daniel Wright started and lost 2 games for the Angels, allowing 8 runs over 10 ⅔ innings of work.

(MLB stats for week of 9/20-27. Min 10 AB’s)

 

Players Who Sucked Again

Eddie Butler made the Dishonorable Mentions last week, but he turned in another weak-ly performance: 3 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 4 BB. An additional 4 runs on errors didn’t help him Saturday against the Dodgers, but the Rockies’ season is much like the Rays’ at this point.

Dishonorable Mentions

Antonio Callaway called a fair catch inside the 5-yard line then dropped the punt. Fortunately the Gators made a goal line stand. That’ll make the Not Top 10.

Hunter Henry committed a false start, then fumbled on the next play during the final minutes of the Chargers-Colts game. He’s a rookie so I’ll give him a break.

Carson Palmer should thank Ryan Fitzpatrick for making his 4 interceptions not look as bad.

Matt Moore pitched a horror on the 21st, but redeemed himself last night against the Rockies.

Pittsburgh Steelers got manhandled by the Eagles. Cameron Heyward said what we were all thinking: “We got our ass beat”

Jeremy Hellickson, Ivan Nova, and Hisashi Iwakuma had some rough starts this week.

 

Photo Credits:
https://www.instagram.com/bleacherreport/?hl=en
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/19/73/17/197317e31679b7654bdb222ac28f0f93.jpg

Week 3 NFL Power Rankings

1.Carolina Panthers 1-1 (Last Week: 3rd)

The Panthers moved up to the top spot after a convincing win against Chip Kelly’s 49ers. Cam Newton looked dominant and the Carolina offense looks to be just as intimidating as its defense. In their second straight home game, they welcome the Adrian Peterson-less Vikings as touchdown favorites. (CG)

2. New England Patriots 2-0 (Last Week: 2nd)

The Pats stay locked in 2nd as they improve to 2-0 without Tom Brady and will likely be without Jimmy Garappolo for Thursday Night Football against Houston. Despite the current QB situation and injuries/suspensions on defense, this is still a top team, especially with Belichick calling the shots. (CG)

3. Pittsburgh Steelers 2-0 (Last Week: 4th)

The Steelers moved up for the second straight week following a comfortable win against their division rival, Bengals. The offense is as potent as expected as DeAngelo Williams makes it nearly impossible to believe he is the oldest running back in the NFL. They travel to Philadelphia this Sunday in the battle of Pennsylvania, a place they haven’t won since 1965. (CG)

4. Arizona Cardinals 1-1 (Last Week: 7th)

Cards fan’s can exhale after a dominating win against Tampa Bay. GM Steve Keim looks like a genius yet again with the signing of CB Marcus Cooper who had 2 interceptions in the game. Cooper appears to be the answer to the Cardinals biggest concern- CB opposite of Patrick Peterson. The offense was much improved and Cardinals should keep gaining confidence with their tilt against the Buffoon led Buffalo Bills. (DH)

5. Denver Broncos 2-0 (Last Week: 6th)

Denver flexed its elite defense by improving to 2-0 after shutting down Andrew Luck and the Colts. Trevor Siemian is doing enough so far to keep the starting QB job but will get a tough test when traveling to Cincinnati this Sunday afternoon. It will be the Broncos’ second game against a top defense which should tell us a lot about the potential of this offense. (CG)

6. Minnesota Vikings 2-0 (Last Week: 16th)

Vikings proved they will be a force in the NFC North with a victory against Green Bay. Sam Bradford seemed to have great chemistry with emerging stud Stefon Diggs. The defensive limited GB to 14 points without two integral players: CB Xavier Rhodes and DT Shariff Floyd. If the Vikings can take down the Panthers on Sunday– their undefeated record, with wins against two Super Bowl favorites, will demand the attention they deserve. (DH)

7. Green Bay Packers 1-1 (Last Week: 1st)

The Packers had a precipitous fall after a poor offensive performance to their division rival, Vikings. Aaron Rodgers does not look like quite himself after two games, but its not quite time to panic. Green Bay looks primed to bounce back in a big way in their home opener this Sunday against the Lions. (CG)

8. Houston Texans 2-0 (Last Week: 9th)

The Houston defense continues to impress following a home win against the Chiefs, in what had to be sweet revenge from last season’s blowout lost in the Wild Card Playoffs. They travel to New England on Thursday Night, and the defense has another chance to shine, especially if the Patriots are forced to start Jacoby Brissett. (CG)

9. Cincinnati Bengals 1-1 (Last Week: 5th)

The Bengals suffered a tough loss to their rival Steelers, in a game that looked winnable if Andy Dalton made the big throws when he needed to. But he didn’t, a common theme of his career up to this point. However, Cincinnati still has one of the more talented rosters in the NFL. They welcome the Broncos for their home opener this coming Sunday in what has the makings of a low-scoring affair. (CG)

10. Seattle Seahawks 1-1 (Last Week: 8th)

The mediocre offensive line of the Seahawks reared its ugly head on Sunday in its loss to the Rams, who have one of the more dominant defensive lines in the NFL. Russell Wilson’s ankle continues to be an issue as his mobility is clearly limited. It feels like forever since the Seattle/San Fran rivalry was among the league’s best, but the Seahawks are in trouble if they drop this upcoming game at home. (CG)

11. New York Giants 2-0 (Last Week: 15th)

The Giants are off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2009, and a lot of that is credit to their defense. They held Drew Brees and the Saints to only 13 points while the offense did just enough to squeak out the close win. They now welcome a desperate Redskins team, the defending NFC Champs who are a loss away from 0-3. (CG)

12. New York Jets 1-1 (Last Week: 12th)

The Jets displayed their offensive firepower by putting up 37 points in defeat of the Bills last Thursday Night. Matt Forte led the way with 100 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. The defense with their talent allowing 31 points is concerning, but New York looks to be a team who should be in the wild card mix all season long. (CG)

13. Kansas City Chiefs 1-1 (Last Week: 10th)

The Chiefs walked into a buzz saw in Week 2 as the Texans had all off-season to think about how the Chiefs embarrassed them at home in last year’s playoffs. The offense had trouble getting things going against the stingy Houston defense. That is not much of a surprise as Alex Smith has never shown an ability to conquer above-average defenses, and things do not get much easier as they host the Jets in Week 3. (CG)

14. Baltimore Ravens 2-0 (Last Week: 14th)

The Ravens find themselves at a very quiet 2-0, considering they were facing a 20-point deficit to the Browns before making the comeback in Week 2. The defense is showing signs of the Ravens of old. But this team will likely spend time at this range of the rankings until squaring off against a more highly respected opponent. (CG)

15. Dallas Cowboys 1-1 (Last Week: 18th)

Dak Prescott continues to play well, as he is yet to throw an interception after his first two NFL starts. The Cowboys went into Washington to get their first win against their longtime rival, winning in conservative fashion and allowing Kirk Cousins to make mistakes. Dallas will likely employ a similar approach when they host the Bears on Sunday Night Football in Week 3. (CG)

16. Oakland Raiders 1-1 (Last Week: 11th)

The Raiders were thought by many to be this year’s surprise team. If that were to happen, the defense, who has given up 35 points in each of their first two games, will need to play much better. The offensive firepower is there, but the defense will need to do their part if Oakland is going to challenge for a playoff spot.  (CG)

17. Philadelphia Eagles 2-0 (Last Week: 23rd)

The Eagles are the lowest ranked 2-0 team, despite winning both games in convincing fashion. Carson Wentz looks like the real deal and the defense looks like a top-ten unit. Their wins against the Browns and Bears are naturally considered hallow. But we will learn a whole lot more about Philly in Week 3 as their welcome the Steelers. (CG)

18. Atlanta Falcons 1-1 (Last Week: 25th)

Atlanta is coming off an impressive road win in Oakland, led by a terrific performance by Matt Ryan. The Falcons are showing the potential of a great 1-2 punch of running backs Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman. With Julio Jones catching passes, the offense is very dynamic. The defense will determine if the Falcons return to the postseason for the first time since 2012. (CG)

19. San Diego 1-1 (Last Week: 27th)

The Chargers have lost another offensive weapon in Danny Woodhead for the year, but they absolutely dominated the Jaguars in Week 2. If it were not for a collapse to the Chiefs in the week prior, San Diego would be sitting at 2-0 and tied for the AFC West lead with the Broncos. This team has his flaws, but Phillip Rivers is proof that you always have a chance with a franchise quarterback. (CG)

20. Detroit Lions 1-1 (Last Week: 17th)

The Lions looked primed to go to 2-0 until they squandered a very likely win against the Titans at home. The theme in Detroit over the past few years has been inconsistency. Matt Stafford has tremendous ability and shows promise in the Jim Bob Cooter offense, but his inconsistent play and struggles on defense will likely keep the Lions from reaching the playoffs. (CG)

21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1-1 (Last Week 13th)

The Bucs have a two-game home-stand following the recent blowout by Arizona, but play the Rams and Broncos which will make it tough for Winston to get back on track. On the flip-side, the defense should be able to make the games competitive against their mediocre offenses. Player to watch: With Doug Martin sidelined the next couple of weeks, Charles Sims will look to carry the load and is a threat in the passing game. (CH)

22. Indianapolis Colts 0-2 (Last Week: 19th)

The Colts gave the Broncos a scare before Von Miller sacked Andrew Luck and forced a fumble to clinch the game. The ending too perfectly represented the Colts: A team with a top-caliber QB that will be limited by its offensive line. Indy is not getting any help from its putrid defense and will likely struggle to reach .500 this season. (CG)

23. Tennessee Titans 1-1 (Last Week: 30th)

The Titans pulled off a thrilling upset in Detroit this past Sunday as Marcus Mariota led a comeback win despite trailing 15-3 entering the fourth quarter. Mariota is showing promise of becoming the franchise QB that Tennessee drafted him to be in 2015. They now have a tough but winnable game Sunday as they host the Raiders and have the chance to go to 2-1. (CG)

24. Jacksonville Jaguars 0-2 (Last Week: 20th)

The Jags have had one of the more disappointing starts to the 2016 season as they find themselves 0-2 after a drubbing by the Chargers. The offense, despite its plethora of young talent, never got it going on Sunday. Things do not get much easier as they welcome a veteran Ravens team who comes in at 2-0. (CG)

25. New Orleans Saints 0-2 (Last Week: 24th)

The Saints are off to their third consecutive 0-2 start after losing by a combined 4 points. And what happened in those last 2 seasons? Seven wins each year. They host their division rivals, the Falcons, on Monday Night Football which could turn into a high-scoring affair. Players to watch: Coby Fleener needs to remember how to catch the ball, and Ken Crawley will replace PJ Williams in a secondary that is third-worst in the league against the pass. (CH)

26. Miami Dolphins 0-2 (Last Week: 26th)

The Dolphins have had a rough start to the season and were getting blown out in New England before engineering a comeback to make things interesting. Ultimately they fell short and appear to be in for a long season. If they cannot beat Cleveland who is starting Cody Kessler in the Miami home opener, things are going to get ugly really quick for the Dolphins. (CG)

27. Los Angeles Rams 1-1 (Last Week: 31st)

The Rams get their first win in Los Angeles against a Divisional Powerhouse. The Rams are still searching for the first touchdown of the season and pressure already seems to be mounting for the debut of Jared Goff. Questions are still clouding the Rams even after an impressive win against Seattle. Who are we kidding…we all know how a Jeff Fisher team will finish. (DH)

28. Washington Redskins 0-2 (Last Week: 21st)

The Redskins are starting 0-2 for the first time since 2013, and the problem may lie within the defense. They are bottom 5 in yards given up and points allowed thus far, but their offense has many of the same pieces from last year. Although off to a slow start, they could make a run toward the end of the year much like last year. Player to watch: Matt Jones needs to get more touches, it’s hard to get the pass going when you can’t establish the run. (CH)

29. Buffalo Bills 0-2 (Last Week: 22nd)

Starting 0-2 for the first time since 2010 is not encouraging to the team or fans, seeing as they finished 4-12 that year. Greg Roman, the Offensive Coordinator, was recently fired following the team’s Thursday night loss to the Jets, but we’ll hold our breath until Anthony Lynn proves himself. It won’t be easy facing an Arizona team coming off a huge victory, but they’ll be at home looking for redemption. Players to watch: With Patrick Peterson mostly covering Sammy Watkins, look for Marquise Goodwin & Greg Salas to prove last week wasn’t a fluke (even if it was). (CH)

30. San Francisco 49ers 1-1 (Last Week: 29th)

They put up a fight against the top NFC team this past week, but the start of this season is beginning to look a lot like 2015. It will be tough for them this year, having a subpar offense in a division dominated by defense, and it doesn’t get easier going to Seattle on Sunday. Player to watch: Blaine Gabbert will need a huge game through the air to beat Seattle, who limited Gurley to just 51 yards last week. (CH)

31. Chicago Bears 0-2 (Last Week: 28th)

The Bears have scored 14 points in each of the last two games, which might equal their loss total by the season’s end. Brian Hoyer will start next game, a Sunday night game in Dallas that would be a thriller if this were 1985. The Bears have so many injured players right now, they’re about feel what it’s like to be a Browns fan. Player to watch: Jerrell Freeman will lead a depleted defense, and they’ll need to carry the load with an inexperienced offense taking the field. (CH)

32. Cleveland Browns 0-2 (Last Week: 32nd)

This franchise just can’t catch a break. RGIII goes down in the first game, then Josh McCown gets injured while almost beating the Ravens week 2, and now Corey Coleman breaks his hand in practice. I don’t know how Browns fans are so loyal, but it has to be tough. Their next game could be a snoozer, playing in Miami. Player to watch: Cody Kessler will make his first NFL start at Miami on Sunday, if anyone actually watches it. (CH)

Photo Credit: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/nfl/carolina-panthers/article52756635.html

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Players Who Sucked This Week

It’s Tuesday, tacos are on tonight’s menu, and I got a big list of players who left it all at home. I also have 2 new additions for this week’s article: teams making the list, and Players Who Sucked Again.

 

FOOTBALL

The FSU defense allowed 63 points, which was the most in school history. Hell, they allowed more points than UF allowed offensive yards. The only positive thing they did was help Lamar Jackson build his Heisman resume. Maybe next week fellas.

FSU's feelings over the weekend.

FSU’s feelings over the weekend.

North Texas’ offense, who managed just 53 yards against UF. They would’ve had a little more if they didn’t run backwards, netting -13 yards on the ground. Luckily their schedule gets easier.

Jameis Winston. He was a totally different QB this week, turning the ball over 5 times including a pick-6. Playing in Arizona isn’t easy, but Mr. Garappolo didn’t have this much trouble.

UCF’s McKenzie Milton got the start at QB but threw an interception and fumbled the ball 6 times (3 lost), including throwing a fumble in double overtime. The kid showed some promise as a true freshman, but his OT fumble was worse than the butt fumble.

 

BASEBALL

The Terrible Hitters

Michael Saunders is having a career year, but slumped this week going 0-12 with 5 strikeouts.

Eduardo Escobar was productive by scoring and knocking in a run, but couldn’t quite hit the ball (1-23) over the last 7 days.

Yasmani Grandal went 2-15 with 7 K, which is basically how he hits if it’s not a homer.

Rob Refsnyder had a rough week going 1-15, with half of his outs being strikeouts. The Yankees are really wishing Aaron Judge didn’t get hurt.

The Ugly Starters

Drew Pomeranz: 5 ⅔ IP, 1 L, 11 H, 9 ER, 3 HR, 4 BB, 6 K in 2 starts. Maybe the recent week’s news about his trade got to him.

Trevor Bauer: 11 IP, 2 L, 16 H, 12 ER, 1 HR, 3 BB, 4 HBP, 12 K in 2 starts. Despite striking out more guys than innings pitched, he hit 4 batters (3 in one game) and surrendered a dozen runs. Luckily the Indians have a comfortable lead in the AL Central and should make the playoffs.

John Gant: 1⅔ IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 0 K. He pitched against the Nationals, who are pretty good, and he’s on the Braves, who are pretty bad. That’s a recipe for disaster, unless Strasburg is pitching.

The Awful Relievers

Joe Mantiply: 1⅓ IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 0 K in 3 appearances. The rookie pitched well in his first 2 career appearances, but his last 3 outings are a different story.

Tony Cingrani: 1⅔ IP, 1 L, 5 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 K in 2 appearances. Not how your closer should be pitching, but the Reds are going nowhere this year.

[MLB stats for week of Sept 13-19. Min 10 AB.]

 

Players Who Sucked Again

Jay Bruce went 1-16 with 3 K, turning in another horrible week at the plate. This guy must REALLY hate playing for the Mets. Or he loves making my list. I’m going with the former.

Adrian Peterson plays his best games against the Packers, but gained only 26 yard on 14 touches Sunday night. The injury doesn’t make things easier for Vikings fans or fantasy owners.

 

Dishonorable Mentions

Mike Pelfrey, Jorge De La Rosa & Eddie Butler, Edinson Volquez, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Matt Boyd all had poor starts this past week, but just weren’t bad enough to get their own shout out.

The Seahawks inability to score points in LA.

Golden Tate, Sammy Watkins, & Justin Forsett: These underperformers are killing my fantasy team!

 

Got anyone to add? Write in that comment box.

 

Photo Credits:

http://pbs.twimg.com/media/CSIR_VUUEAIQPvy.png:large

http://s2.quickmeme.com/img/1b/1bbe4b6561eadd54ed20834e18a9ed3acceb44b46299052a5ea163553dcb6cc0.jpg

 

Starting A Streak

NFL Football…The TRUE American pastime returned to us in a time when we needed it most.

Pre-season games were a welcomed a change from the monotonous reporting of baseball and anything after the first five days of Olympic coverage.

Die-hard NFL fans didn’t give the preseason their utmost attention due to, well, it being pre-season. While many fantasy football junkies (like the Eye off the Ball team) tuned in to gain any extra insight for when the time came to draft their teams for the season.

Then on September 8th, as a nation, our patience was rewarded with a rematch of Super Bowl 50 to kickoff the 2016 season.

This small morsel of entertainment was nothing but a cock tease for a full Sunday lineup of NFL action, culminating with two Monday Night Football matchups. Little did we know that the final game of Week 1 would provide us with the best action of the whole slate.

The west coast showdown between two sub-par teams (49ers vs Rams) was a sloppy snooze fest.

But the best action occurred with 11:34 remaining in the 4th quarter as the Rams attempted a 3rd & 4 (they didn’t convert) when 16-year-old William Navarrette rushed onto the field with his shirt pulled over his head displaying his phone number (925-290-9745) as the world watched.

The stunt, a dare by his friends resulted in viral video of NFL announcer Kevin Harlan’s play-by-play of the event.

Due to his age, Navarrette wasn’t arrested, but he’s banned from Levi Stadium for one year, has to write an apology letter, and is required to take an online course.  Other punishments may come down the line after he appears in front of a judge, but it begs the question: How did he do it?

According to an interview with KRON4’s Phillipe Djegal:

In the fourth quarter, he told hid dad Herman he was going to the restroom.

But instead, walked down a level to section 123, where he already knew security wouldn’t check his ticket.

“I was looking everywhere, looking at the field, seeing which would be the best area, and I noticed there was a security guard not checking the tickets for this section, so I knew this was my spot,” Navarette said.

Simple, right?

Just wait for a lull in the game action, zero in on the security guards not paying attention, ditch your clothing and make your move?

Yes and no.

Maybe when you’re an amateur streaker, but according to the world’s most notorious streaker it takes more than just a 5 minute plan and the willingness to show off your 3 piece set.

As of 2013, Mark Roberts has streaked more than 500 sporting events ranging from Snooker, Rugby, Soccer, Golf, the Olympics, and Super Bowl 38.

When Roberts first started his career in streaking he started small, shedding his clothes during a Rugby match in Hong Kong, where the crowd saw his twig and berries not once, but TWICE within a 30-minute window.

After streaking through various Rugby matches in Asia, Roberts returned to his native UK and upped his game, eyeing a Liverpool vs Everton Soccer game. Within a few months of running nude during various Soccer matches, Roberts was banned for 12 months from entering any Soccer stadium in the UK.

Not to be discouraged, Roberts flipped the script and branched out to Tennis, Golf, and Horse Racing. His reputation and image soon became training material for police and security staff for sporting events around the world.

Disguises and meticulous planning had become a part of any event he hoped to attend, many times being turned away from even attempting to purchase tickets.

Eventually Mark Roberts set his sights on the biggest sporting event in the US…The Super Bowl. After a failed attempt at Super Bowl 37, Roberts had a whole year to plan for Super Bowl 38. A plan that included acquiring front row tickets on the 50 yard line, a referee’s uniform, an advertising agency sponsorship and counsel from a Texas lawyer.

Right before the start of the 2nd half, Roberts ripped off his Velcro outfit and sprinted towards center of the field where Panther’s kicker John Kasay was about to kickoff. He pranced around for almost a full minute before being blasted by Patriots LB Matt Chatham and captured by security.

All told, Roberts only paid $1000 in fines, however now that he has a police record in the US, he’ll need to reapply for a visa before he ventures across the pond again.

Speaking of fines, another streaker who’s been hit with the Levi Stadium ban & conduct course is notorious prankster and YouTube star, Vitaly Zdorovetskiy.

Vitaly's Official Ban

Vitaly’s Official Ban

Vitaly was issued his Levi Stadium ban after he was detained before his attempt of streaking Super Bowl 50. The Super Bowl would’ve been a small step up (at least domestically) in viewership compared his 2014 escapade of streaking shirtless during the World Cup finals match Germany vs Argentina. He got off easy, only spending an hour in jail and paying a $100 fine.

Vitaly’s most recent streaking adventure hit his wallet a bit harder with a $1200 fine and spent 15 hours in a Cleveland jail after running onto the court in Game 4 of the 2016 NBA Finals.

Don’t get it twisted though, while it may seem that only men have the gall to strip down or streak at sporting events, there’s a fair amount of women who’ve shown some skin to add some extra entertainment to the game.

While most women are 1 and done, Morganna Roberts AKA The Kissing Bandit, has run onto various fields of play ranging from MLB, Hockey and NBA games unofficially kissing over 50 athletes. Though Morganna never trotted onto a field nude, she didn’t leave much to the imagination in her appearances.

Supporting some serious chest-icles within her I-Cup bras, she first came into notoriety in August 1969 running on to the diamond to plant a kiss on Pete Rose.  Starting with Rose, from 1969 to 1990, Morganna has a list of “victims” that included Nolan Ryan, Cal Ripken Jr. and Kareem Adbul-Jabar. Her antics lead to a promising career as an exotic dancer and eventually led to a centerfold spread for Playboy in 1983.

*If you’re looking for an in-depth look at Morganna’s activities, in 2014 ESPN films released an E:60 biopic documentary titled MORGANNA: The Kissing Bandit*

Maybe there’s a chance that William Navarrette’s run during that Monday night game can spark a promising career in the world of streaking. Whether it was a onetime spectacle or not, we can only hope to see more bold fans take it upon themselves to join the ranks of these exhibitionist heroes.

I know the world will be watching.

Credit and References:
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2016/09/13/brentwood-teen-who-ran-on-field-at-49ers-game-you-only-live-once/
http://kron4.com/2016/09/14/video-san-francisco-49ers-streaker-speaks/
https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/jan/30/id-been-paid-1m-how-to-streak-at-the-super-bowl
http://nesn.com/2014/01/former-patriot-matt-chatham-levels-streaker-during-super-bowl-xxxviii-video/
(http://viralselect.com/vitaly-streaks-the-50th-super-bowl/)
http://www.thesportster.com/entertainment/top-10-hottest-streakers-of-all-time/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morganna

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Week 2 NFL Power Rankings: Packers Take Top Spot

packers2016bestoffense_fullsize_story1

  1. Green Bay Packers 1-0 (Last Week: 5th)

The Packers escaped narrow victory in Jacksonville this past Sunday. Although he didn’t light up the stat sheet in Week 1, the return of Jordy Nelson should elevate the Green Bay offense back to being among the NFL’s best. The Packers take the top spot after Week 1, and could get off to a 2-0 start with a win at Minnesota on Sunday Night Football.

  1. New England Patriots 1-0 (Last Week: 3rd)

New England shocked Arizona on Sunday Night Football, despite being without Brady and Gronk. The Patriots were 9.5 point underdogs, the highest amount of points favored against since 2001. Jimmy Garoppolo looks like he will play well enough to not let New England skip a beat while Brady serves his suspension.

  1. Carolina Panthers 0-1 (Last Week: 1st)

Despite a disappointing loss in Denver, Carolina doesn’t look like a team with the traditional Super Bowl runner-up hangover. The defense is still a very dominant unit, even with the departure of Josh Norman. The return of Kelvin Benjamin should do wonders for the Panthers’ passing game, especially since Cam Newton continues to evolve as a passer.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers 1-0 (Last Week: 6th)

Pittsburgh looked dominant Monday Night and is a serious contender to win the AFC. The offense looks as stout as expected, even without Martavius Bryant and Le’Veon Bell. The defense, that has its share of talent, will be the catalyst in determining how far this team goes.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals 1-0 (Last Week: 7th)

The Bengals survived a tight one in New York, as they topped the Jets by a point in Week 1. Despite some of the losses on offense this past offseason(Mohamed Sanu Marvin and Jones), CIncinnati’s strong offensive and defensive lines should carry them to another playoff appearance. Things only get more difficult in Week 2, in what should be the game of the week as they host the Steelers. The challenge for the Bengals will be keeping up with the Pittsburgh offense, given the losses in the passing game and injury to Tyler Eifert.

  1. Denver Broncos 1-0 (Last Week: 8th)

The Denver defense picked up right where they left off from last season. This is an elite unit, with starpower rushing the passer and in the secondary. Trevor Simeon, who had a few mistakes, played relatively well in the season opener. If he can build off that performance, or even play well enough to keep Paxton Lynch carrying the clipboard, the Broncos could be poised for another double-digit win season.

  1. Arizona Cardinals 0-1 (Last Week: 2nd)

This is a veteran team coming off a tough home loss to New England, a game most people expected them to win. Arizona is well-coached, but has some question marks on the offensive line and some areas on defense. Bruce Arians and his coaching staff have the experience under their belt to make you think they can work with their flaws, but the Cardinals do not look like they will glide to the playoffs.

  1. Seattle Seahawks 1-0 (Last Week: 4th)

Things were looking hairy for Seattle in their home opener against Miami, until the banged up Russell Wilson engineered a late game winning drive. The inexperience at offensive line is a concern, and the Dolphins’ defensive line took advantage. The Seahawks seem to struggle with the Rams on the road. The environment will be different, as they will no longer be traveling to the dome in St. Louis. But the Rams should be playing with a lot of anger after being embarrassed on Monday Night Football.

  1. Houston Texans 1-0 (Last Week: 11th)

Houston took care of care of the lowly Bears in not a super convincing fashion on Sunday. This team is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, but it could take some time for this team to gel with a new QB in Brock Osweiler and JJ Watt still not 100% healthy. But assuming they get better each week, the Texans look like favorites in the AFC South.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs 1-0 (Last Week: 9th)

We are only at #10 and we already have the second case of teams ranked next to each other facing off in Week 2 as the Chiefs will travel to Houston this Sunday (4th-ranked Steelers at the 5th-ranked Bengals). Kansas City looked all but dead against the division rival Chargers on Sunday, but somehow completed the comeback by prevailing in overtime. Like the previously mentioned Texans, the Chiefs have tremendous talent on both sides of the ball and should be in the playoff mix come December.

  1. Oakland Raiders 1-0 (Last Week: 13th)

The Raiders are the chic pick to be the surprise team this year that makes the playoffs. They lived up to the hype by getting a thrilling win in New Orleans, something that is never an easy task. The offense, led by Derek Carr and anchored by one of the best offensive lines, should take another step forward and they should be in prime position to improve to 2-0 when they host the Falcons on Sunday.

  1. New York Jets 0-1 (Last Week: 10th)

The Jets fell in a tough opener to the Bengals, but it shouldn’t be reason to panic. Cincinnati is one of the AFC’s best, and the Jets have the talent on both sides of the ball to rebound positively. Gang Green now has the opportunity to end their five-game losing streak to the Bills on Thursday Night Football in what should be low scoring affair.

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1-0 (Last Week 25th)

The Bucs jumped 12 spots in our rankings following an impressive road win in Atlanta. Second-year QB, Jameis Winston shined with four touchdowns and now gets a much tougher test when traveling to Arizona this Sunday. This game at Arizona will tell us a lot about if Tampa Bay is primed to take the next step this season, or if they are still a year or two away from being a playoff contender.

  1. Baltimore Ravens 1-0 (Last Week: 19th)

The Ravens won an ugly defensive struggle against the Bills in Week 1, something they are not unfamiliar with in their short history. With the Ravens healthy this year, they look primed to contend for a playoff spot. Joe Flacco might have the most talented receiving core he has ever had in his career.

  1.  New York Giants 1-0 (Last Week: 12th)

The Giants came away with a close win in Dallas on Sunday, and their defense looks significantly improved from a year ago. They will get much more of a test on Sunday when hosting Drew Brees and the Saints. But at this point, New York looks to be the best bet to win the NFC East.

  1. Minnesota Vikings 1-0 (Last Week: 14th)

The Vikings have all the talent on defense, but as we know the uncertainty at quarterback is what will make or break their season. It is only a matter of time until recently acquired Sam Bradford takes over as the starter. It seems like every sentence involving Bradford starts with the word “If”. This will not be an exception in saying that if he stays healthy and finally plays up to his potential of being the #1 overall pick, the Vikings could find their way back to the playoffs.

  1. Detroit Lions 1-0 (Last Week: 24th)

Matt Stafford seems so much more comfortable in the offense led by Offensive Coordinator, Jim Bob Cooter Despite the loss of Calvin Johnson to retirement, the Lions’ offense thrived on Sunday as they topped the Colts in a shootout. Detroit has struggled with consistency in recent years, but has a great opportunity to improve to 2-0 with the Titans coming to town on Sunday.

  1. Dallas Cowboys 0-1 (Last Week: 20th)

Dak Prescott shows promise but like each season we learned not to trust what we see in the preseason. The offensive line is one of the best in the NFL, but the mediocre defense could keep them out of playoff contention. Their postseason hopes could unfortunately rely on Tony Romo getting healthy and making a comeback this season.

  1. Indianapolis Colts 0-1 (Last Week 15th)

Andrew Luck looked impressive in the shootout loss to the Lions in Week 1. Unfortunately, that will probably be the narrative for the Colts all season long. Indy has the weapons and competent enough of an offensive line to put up points. But with one of the league’s worst defenses, the Colts could severely struggle to reach .500 this year.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars 0-1 (Last Week: 18th)

It is put up or shut up time in Jacksonville. This should be the year when things start coming together and the Jags take a major step forward. They came within a few plays of upsetting the Packers in Week 1. But this is a year where moral victories will have virtually zero meaning for Gus Bradley in Year 4. We will learn a lot about this team as they travel to San Diego this Sunday.

  1. Washington Redskins 0-1 (Last Week: 16th)

The Redskins look like a prime regression candidate, taking advantage of a deplorable NFC East in 2015. They have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, but if Kirk Cousins plays as bad as he did on Monday Night, it could be a long year for Washington. Their difficult schedule certainly doesn’t help.

  1. Buffalo Bills 0-1 (Last Week: 17th)

The Bills only managed seven points when falling to Baltimore in Week 1. We would like to think they have solved their QB problem with Tyrod Taylor. But the continued health issues with Sammy Watkins will not make things easier for Taylor as he tries to pick up the slack from a defense that should be worse than 2015. This has the makings of a typical, old-school Rex Ryan team that leans on its running back but probably has a ceiling of nine wins.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles 1-0 (Last Week: 26th)

Carson Wentz impressed in his NFL debut as he led the Eagles to a 29-10 win in their opener against the Cleveland Browns. He displayed his arm, athleticism and intelligence and made the Philadelphia coaches, front office and fans optimistic about his future. The defensive line looks like an elite unit, led by Fletcher Cox. This team’s potential is mostly an unknown, primarily due to Wentz. We should learn a lot more in coming weeks.

  1. New Orleans Saints 0-1 (Last Week: 23rd)

The Saints are coming off a brutal loss at home to the Raiders and will have a tough test traveling up to New York to face the Giants this coming Sunday. This has the makings of the average New Orleans team we are used to: explosive offense that will most likely be let down by a mediocre defense.

  1. Atlanta Falcons 0-1 (Last Week: 22nd)

The Falcons surrendered a bad loss at home to their division rival Buccaneers in Week 1. It still appears that Atlanta has not solved their issue of failing to get pressure on the quarterback. They will need to figure out a solution quickly, or the Falcons could easily be staring at 0-2 after a trip to Oakland this Sunday.

  1. Miami Dolphins 0-1 (Last Week: 21st)

The Dolphins were oh so close to pulling off the unthinkable upset in Seattle this past Sunday. The defense played very well for most of the game, taking advantage of the Seahawks’ weak offensive line. Ultimately, the better team prevailed. Miami certainly showed promise and now travel to New England with hopes of ending their eight-game losing streak in Foxborough.

  1. San Diego Chargers 0-1 (Last Week: 27th)

The Chargers looked great for about three quarters on Sunday in Kansas City. But as impressive as they looked for that period, it’s equally discouraging how they could squander a lead that looked like a sure-fire win entering the fourth quarter. San Diego could be looking at 0-2 if they take the Jaguars lightly this coming Sunday.

  1. Chicago Bears 0-1 (Last Week: 30th)

The Bears played better than expected in their loss this past Sunday to the Texans. The recent free agent addition of Josh Sitton should help the offensive line slightly. On defense, they have the coaching that should get the most out of a group that frankly lacks talent. The Bears look like a last place team on paper. But they have a favorable match up in Week 2 as the Eagles visit for Monday Night Football and could even things up at 1-1.

  1. San Francisco 49ers 1-0 (Last Week: 32nd)

Chip Kelly’s 49ers opened with a bang on Monday Night Football, much like the Eagles did three years ago in Kelly’s first game as an NFL coach. The defense looked solid, but it’s hard not to look solid against Case Keenum. San Francisco could easily drop back down to earth after traveling to Carolina, who has had an extra four days of rest and is coming off an opening loss.

  1. Tennessee Titans 0-1 (Last Week: 29th)

The Titans hung with the Vikings for much of Week 1, but ultimately the more talented team pulled away as expected. Tennessee improving from the NFL’s worst team in 2015 will primarily rest on the progress of Marcus Mariota. If he struggles in his sophomore season, it could be another very long season in Nashville.

  1. Los Angeles Rams 0-1 (Last Week: 28th)

The Rams could not have had a worse opener, being shut out by a 49ers team that is predicted to be one of the worst teams in the NFL. It also is extra discouraging that Jared Goff, who they traded a boatload of picks to move up to #1 and select in the the 2016 NFL Draft, is currently the 3rd string QB. Meanwhile, Carson Wentz, who they could have chosen, shined in his NFL debut.

  1. Cleveland Browns 0-1 (Last Week: 31st)

It is going to be a long year for the Browns. Robert Griffin is hurt again and the team will turn to Josh McCown for the foreseeable future. Hue Jackson is a good coach, despite what the Browns’ record looks like by season’s end. Assuming they finish last in the AFC North, it will not be to lack of effort but due to inexperience and talent deficiencies.

 

Photo Credit: http://madison365.com/

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Players Who Sucked This Week

Time for the second installment of the latest, and hardly greatest, players of the past week who sucked. This time some officials made the list! 

 

NFL

Terrence Williams: He should know the clock was against his team and to get out of bounds if catching the pass. Even Dez Bryant was trying to help! But if it makes Cowboys fans feel better, it would have been a difficult 63-yard FG attempt.

Kenny Stills: The dude dropped a wide open bomb for a would-be touchdown. He’ll make the SC Not Top 10 this week along with Terrence Williams.

Ray-Ray McCloud: How do people continue to drop the ball on a touchdown?! I’ll never understand this recent phenomenon. Look what you’ve started Desean Jackson.

Adrian Peterson: 13 yards on 19 carries and no receptions. What a fantasy bust for week 1.

 

MLB*

Jay Bruce: 2-13 with 4 Ks. This is even worse after Mets fans found out he would go anywhere except New York. Can’t say I blame him after his hometown shipped him off like that.   

The Reds saying bye to Jay Bruce.

 

Brandon Kintzler: 3 app, 2 ⅔ IP, 1 L, 6 H, 5 ER, 0 K. The Twins reliever was enjoying his first year in the closer role, but not this week! But it doesn’t matter, the Twins aren’t going anywhere this year. Or possibly next year.

Zack Greinke: 2 GS, 10 ⅔ IP, 2 L, 15 H, 11 ER, 9 K. This isn’t the first time he’s had pitching troubles following a career year (he slumped in 2010).

Wade Miley: He only made 1 start this past week and it wasn’t pretty. 1 ⅓ IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 0 K against the Red Sox on Monday. This isn’t how you get your team in the playoffs, especially when playing a divisional opponent.

Rafael Montero: 2 GS, 1 L, 6 IP, 8 H, 9 ER, 6 K. The Mets NEED deGrom & Matz back if they want to make the playoffs.

*= stats for week of Sept 6-12

 

Dishonorable Mentions

Jake Diekman, Todd Frazier and Evan Longoria played well on Monday night, just missing the cut.

 

Jim Joyce: This is the same guy who screwed Armando Galarraga out of a perfect game in 2010. This time he blew a wild-pitch-that-was-really-a-foul-ball call that cost the Astros 2 runs until stopping the play and not reversing it. Astros ended up losing to the Indians 10-7.

The Big Ten officiating crew during the UCF-Michigan game. UCF still would have lost the game, but a lot of those calls seemed suspicious.

 

Did I miss anyone or you want to call someone else out? Use that comment box!

 

Photo credits:

https://mydadsalbums.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/coldblooded.jpg

http://sportsdaydfw.imgix.net/1473641011-NS_11CowboysGiants20.jpg?q=50&auto=format&w=700

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Athletes & Anxiety: An Invisible Problem In Plain Sight

Photo: Mirror

Photo: Mirror

 

Johanna Konta collapsed last week at the U.S. Open yet still managed to beat opponent Tsvetana Pironkova and advance to the third round. Suffering from blurred vision, breathing issues, and an increased heart rate, Konta was tended to by medical personnel, took an approved medical time out, and resumed play, ultimately winning the match.

The intention of this article began as a shout out to an athlete who pushed their body to the limit and came out victorious. Many events demand players to give it their all and the U.S. Open is no exception. Konta deserves applause for her impressive mental strength overcoming her weakened physical state.

One quote caught my attention, however. Konta said, “I don’t know if anyone’s had a panic attack, but that’s basically what it feels like.”

Assuming that she’s experienced a panic attack firsthand, she compared her heat exhaustion to the symptoms of a severe anxiety attack. Heat-related injuries are a serious threat to tennis players, no questions asked. However, I’m curious what the response, both from officials and the public, would be if she collapsed due to the onset of a panic attack. Pironkova had no qualms in stating that her timeout was too long. Would a panic attack be treated as a serious health issue or relegated to a case of nerves?

Pressure, Pain, Paralysis   

When an injured athlete plays through their physical pain, win or lose, they‘re heralded as a champion. Two weeks ago, I praised Yohann Diniz for powering through his race walk at the Olympics despite collapsing. While it’s inspiring to watch any player ignore agony for the sake of the game (Gregory Campbell’s penalty kill in the 2013 NHL Eastern Conference Final is something I’ll never forget), those dealing with psychological afflictions are likely suffering in silence right before our eyes.

It’s amazing to think that a sore finger or turf toe can keep a player sidelined for days but a chronic mental illness such as an anxiety disorder can go unacknowledged, untreated, and underestimated for years.

It’s easy to generalize anxiety as ordinary stress or worry, which is akin to comparing a heart attack to heart burn or a broken bone to a bruise. Unfortunately, only the person experiencing the panic attack truly knows the extent of severity. The torment is as unique as the person experiencing it and comes with its own set of limitations.

Two anxiety triggers of golfer Bubba Watson’s are crowds and enclosed spaces, which must make teeing off a miserable experience he’s put through at least 72 times during a weekend of golf. Royce White has a substantial fear of flying and is very nervous in front of a crowd, two elements that are inescapable as a professional NBA player. Whereas an individual outside of the limelight may be afforded certain limits of control (calling in sick, limiting social activity), professional athletes aren’t as lucky.

When your job is to entertain thousands, if not millions, on a weekly basis, you can’t simply fade into the background and reemerge when the storm in your head calms. Imagine the inherent stress in a game winning free throw, a game tying field goal, or a tide-turning penalty shot. Now imagine your chest simultaneously attempting to collapse and explode while your mind is sent on a roller coaster ride that turns every illogical, impossible fear of yours into a horrific inevitably.

Oh, and if you miss this shot, you’ve failed the team, the fans, the sponsors.

The world.

No pressure.

Yet, somehow, despite the insufferable torture that comes, goes, and stays as long as it pleases, these individuals are able to keep the chaos in check. They keep their heads in the game; which headspace they’re in, however, we may never know.

Major League Awareness

Professional athletes are modern day superheroes. They bounce back from injury at seemingly superhuman speed and look none the worse for wear.  When a hockey player experiences a cardiac event on the bench and wants to get back in the game after being defibrillated, it’s hard to imagine that a case of the blues or excessive worrying could keep such a tough individual down.

If you’ve never faced anxiety attacks or another psychological ailment, it can be difficult to fully understand how a single illogical thought can quickly spiral into mental and physical anguish. In regards to mental health, professional athletes are just as susceptible to psychological issues as the general public. One study cites that as many as 25% of professional soccer players suffer symptoms of anxiety and depression. Despite their impressive salaries and seemingly perfect lifestyles, an anxiety disorder may make a pro athlete feel isolated and unhappy.

Fortunately, at least one sports entity isn’t letting these issues sit ignored on the bench. Anxiety awareness in the MLB has been significantly increasing over the last few years and is now considered a legitimate injury. This means that, instead of turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms like drugs or alcohol, players can be placed on the disabled list and receive much needed treatment.

Although we live vastly different lifestyles from the larger than life stars we see on TV, we must remember that mental health issues do not discriminate. The pressures of professional sports are significant enough without the struggle of having to keep anxiety sidelined. The salary and stardom may be the American Dream, but living with an anxiety disorder is a nightmare.

This week I want to tip my hat not only to Johanna Konta for her mental resilience against her moment of physical weakness, but also to the many athletes facing an endless stream of anxiety. We may be wholly unaware of their struggles, but we can at least acknowledge that this problem is just as present in the world of sports as it is in everyday society.

Anxiety is no joke. The pressures professional athletes encounter on a day to day basis are astronomical and are only compounded by an anxiety disorder. As we move towards the end of the MLB season and begin the first weeks of the NFL, NHL, and NBA, it’s important that we remember that those unstoppable athletes on screen are real people that face the same problems we do.

 

NFL Preview: Predictions, Projections and More!

We are finally here at last, the start of the NFL Season. Every fan of every team enters this season with the optimism that maybe this could be the year (unless you are a Browns, Eagles, Lions or Chargers fan). The return of NFL Football always has me humming the NFL Films music as I’m reciting “An autumn wind is a pirate, blustering in from sea…”.

Enough with the corny introduction you will get from every other website and publication. If you wanted to read “The Battle Hymn of Raider Nation”, this is probably not the place you would look for it. Here is the inaugural NFL Preview, which includes predictions, projections and power rankings.

25 NFL Predictions:

  1. Dak Prescott will look like a rookie during the Regular Season, when defensive coordinators start preparing and scheming for their opponents. Will he show promise? Yes. But he will not make Cowboys fans forget about and miss Tony Romo this season.
  2. The Patriots are going to miss Tom Brady during the first quarter of the season, but they will go at least 10-2 from when he returns through the end of the year.
  3. Robert Griffin III will have his best statistical season since his rookie year. It will not be enough to get the Browns out of the AFC North cellar, but Hue Jackson will be getting a lot of credit for helping resurrect RG3’s career.
  4. The Redskins will struggle with a more difficult schedule. Despite winning the NFC East in 2015, Washington went 8-3 against teams that finished 7-9 or worse and 1-5 against teams that finished 8-8 or better (including Playoffs).
  5. The Oakland Raiders will break their 14-year playoff drought by winning the AFC West. They have a great offensive line, a franchise quarterback and playmakers on both sides of the ball.
  6. Speaking of teams that have been bad for a long time, the Jaguars will have their first winning season since 2007. This will be the third year for Blake Bortles, who has his share of explosive weapons around him. The young, promising players on defense will be the main reason this team finally takes that big step forward.
  7. Carson Wentz will struggle, but will show enough promise that will make the Eagles look wise for making the blockbuster deal with the Browns.
  8. Kevin White will shine in what will essentially be his rookie season. Despite holes all over the Bears’ roster, Alshon Jeffery and White will show promise as the next dynamic receiver duo in the NFL.
  9. Chip Kelly will have a rough first year in San Francisco. After his talent purge in Philly, he will quickly learn how hard it is to win in the NFL without elite talent. Going from a mediocre NFC East to NFC West will not make the transition any easier.
  10. Alfred Morris will play a bigger role in the Dallas running game than most people think. Morris is still a young power back, who’s running style could fit very well in the Cowboys’ system. Despite taking Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall in the draft, Morris will play well enough to keep Elliot from reaching bell cow status in 2016.
  11. Jordy Nelson’s return will help everyone on the Packers offense. Randall Cobb, despite reaching a career high in targets (129), he had a career low of 10.5 yards-per-reception. Look for he, along with Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy should all have better years. This should lead to Offensive Player of the Year and MVP honors for Rodgers.
  12. The Philadelphia Eagles will lead the NFL in sacks. The hiring of Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator and switch back to the 4-3 defensive front will play well to this group’s strengths. The defensive line is anchored by Fletcher Cox, who should earn All-Pro honors this season. Cox is surrounded by a talented group comprised of Bennie Logan, and young and very good defensive tackle and a rotation of defensive ends that can all effectively rush the passer in Vinny Curry, Brandon Graham and Connor Barwin.
  13. Baltimore will bounce back, like they normally do. From 1999-2014, the Ravens have finished 8-8 or worse in just six seasons. Their win totals following each of those seasons: 12, 10, 13, 11, 12 and 10, an average win improvement of 3.67. Using that logic, along with a much healthier squad in 2016, look for the Ravens to win 9 or 10 games.
  14. Speaking of the Ravens, Eric Weddle will end up being a great signing, especially for the lack of attention the move received compared to some of the other huge free agent splashes. Weddle, a former Pro Bowler, will help stabilize the backend of the Ravens’ defense that has regressed each year since their Super Bowl victory in 2012.
  15. On the flipside, the Redskins will end up regretting the enormous deal they signed Josh Norman to when he became an unexpected free agent last spring. Norman played tremendously in 2015. But with the over-indulgence of trash talks and reports of constantly getting burned in training camp, this has the makings of a free agent flop.
  16. Will Fuller, the 21st pick in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans out of Notre Dame, will win Offensive Rookie of the Year. Fuller is beginning the year as a starter alongside Deandre Hopkins in an offense with a lot of firepower. He should eclipse 1000 yards.
  17. Jalen Ramsey will win the Defensive Rookie of the Year. The defensive back out of Florida State joins a young and talented group in Jacksonville. The expectation is that he will be used in multiple ways, which should lead to Ramsey making a lot of plays.
  18. Lamar Miller will end up being a great free agent signing for the Texans. He has always had great ability, and is now in an offense that should get the best out of him and his talents.
  19. The Miami Dolphins hire of Adam Gase will do wonders for Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill has shown potential but has not yet lived up to his status of a top-ten draft pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Gase has flirted with one of the more recent chic coaching labels of a “quarterback guru”. Miami has its share of problems that will prevent them from contending, but Tannehill will have his best season since entering the NFL.
  20. Eli Manning will reach career highs in both passing yards and touchdowns, joining the 5000-yard and 40-TD clubs. He has the weapons to do it and is entering his third season in the Ben McAdoo offense.
  21. Kahlil Mack will win Defensive Player of the Year. The Raiders hit on this draft pick and Mack has already reached the status of one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. He should take another step forward in 2016. Don’t rule out 20 sacks, which should clinch the award as well as his second All-Pro designation.
  22. Despite the Ryan family reputation of being strong defensive coaches and teaming up on the Buffalo staff, the Bills will be better on offense than defense in 2016. Buffalo has suffered multiple season-ending injuries on defense and the suspension of Marcell Dareus does not help. On the flip side, Tyrod Taylor enters his second season as the Bills starter with a healthy Sammy Watkins and Lesean McCoy. This offense could be very dangerous.
  23. Aside from Antonio Brown, the Steelers WR core will be solid but no player will be cemented as the #2 receiver. Sammie Coates, Eli Rogers and Markus Wheaton will all have their moments this season, but it will be a constant rotation. That will only play to their favor when Pittsburgh torches opposing defenses.  
  24. Aside from Big Ben, this Steelers team is much different from the 2005 and 2008 Super Bowl Championship teams. The Steelers of the past few years have been better known for its offense than its defense. Their offensive line is the best it’s been in a few years and the defense is better. They put it together this season and win the AFC.
  25. The Arizona Cardinals will win their first Super Bowl, by beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in a rematch of Super Bowl 43.

 

Preseason Site Power Rankings (voted on by the Eye off the Ball staff)

  1. Carolina Panthers
  2. Arizona Cardinals
  3. New England Patriots
  4. Seattle Seahawks
  5. Green Bay Packers
  6. Pittsburgh Steelers
  7. Cincinnati Bengals
  8. Denver Broncos
  9. Kansas City Chiefs
  10. New York Jets
  11. Houston Texans
  12. New York Giants
  13. Oakland Raiders
  14. Minnesota Vikings
  15. Indianapolis Colts
  16. Washington Redskins
  17. Buffalo Bills
  18. Jacksonville Jaguars
  19. Baltimore Ravens
  20. Dallas Cowboys
  21. Miami Dolphins
  22. Atlanta Falcons
  23. New Orleans Saints
  24. Detroit Lions
  25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  26. Philadelphia Eagles
  27. San Diego Chargers
  28. Los Angeles Rams
  29. Tennessee Titans
  30. Chicago Bears
  31. Cleveland Browns
  32. San Francisco 49ers

 

Standings Projections

AFC East

New England Patriots 11-5

New York Jets 10-6

Buffalo Bills 7-9

Miami Dolphins 6-10

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4

Cincinnati Bengals 10-6

Baltimore Ravens 9-7

Cleveland Browns 2-14

AFC South

Houston Texans 10-6

Jacksonville Jaguars 9-7

Indianapolis Colts 9-7

Tennessee Titans 5-11

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs 10-6

Oakland Raiders 10-6

Denver Broncos 9-7

San Diego Chargers 4-12

 

AFC Wild Card

Chiefs over Bengals

Houston over Oakland

AFC Divisional Round

Patriots over Chiefs
Steelers over Texans

AFC Championship

Steelers over Patriots

NFC East

New York Giants 10-6

Washington Redskins 7-9

Philadelphia Eagles 6-10

Dallas Cowboys 6-10

NFC North

Green Bay Packers 12-4

Minnesota Vikings 9-7

Detroit Lions 5-11

Chicago Bears 4-12

NFC South

Carolina Panthers 11-5

Atlanta Falcons 9-7

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8-8

New Orleans Saints 7-9

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals 11-5

Seattle Seahawks 10-6

St. Louis Rams 5-11

San Francisco 49ers 3-13

 

NFC Wild Card

Seattle over New York

Arizona over Atlanta

NFC Divisional Round

Green Bay over Seattle

Arizona over Carolina

NFC Championship

Arizona over Green Bay

Super Bowl

Arizona over Pittsburgh

Staff Playoff Picks

Artie Dromerhauser

AFC: 1. Kansas City 2. New England 3. Pittsburgh 4. Houston 5. Denver 6. New York Jets

NFC: 1. Green Bay 2. Seattle 3. Atlanta 4. New York Giants 5. Arizona 6. Carolina

Super Bowl: Green Bay over New England

 

Nick Dauk

AFC: 1. Pittsburgh 2. New England 3. Kansas City 4. Jacksonville 5. Cincinnati 6. Indianapolis

NFC: 1. Green Bay 2. Seattle 3. New York Giants 4. Atlanta 5. Carolina 6. Arizona

Super Bowl: Pittsburgh over Green Bay

 

Jordan Ash

AFC: 1. New England 2. Baltimore 3. Oakland 4. Jacksonville 5. Houston 6. Pittsburgh

NFC: 1. Carolina 2. Green Bay 3. New York Giants 4. Seattle 5. Dallas

Super Bowl: Carolina over Oakland

 

Derek Hirsch

AFC: 1. New England 2. Cincinnati 3. Houston 4. Kansas City 5. Denver 6. Jacksonville

NFC: 1. Tampa Bay 2. Minnesota 3. Arizona 4. Washington 5. Seattle 6. Green Bay

Super Bowl: Arizona over Cincinnati

 

Will Kuntemeier

AFC: 1. New England 2. Pittsburgh 3. Indianapolis 4. Kansas City 5. Cincinnati 6. New York Jets

NFC: 1. New York Giants 2. Green Bay 3. Carolina 4. Arizona 5. Seattle 6. Minnesota

Super Bowl: Arizona over Pittsburgh

 

Chris Himes

AFC: 1. Cincinnati 2. New England 3. Kansas City 4. Houston 5. Pittsburgh 6. New York Jets

NFC: 1. Arizona 2. Carolina 3. Green Bay 4. Washington 5. Seattle 6. St. Louis

Super Bowl: Pittsburgh over Carolina

 

Photo Credits:

http://www.baltimoreravens.com/news/article-1/Will-Ravens-Root-For-Steelers-Or-Patriots/3d5575bb-2873-4329-99a6-1923472449c3

http://www.edthesportsfan.com/2011/10/autumn-wind-is-raider-al-davis-story.html

http://mentalfloss.com/article/74786/21-super-facts-about-carolina-panthers

http://www.latimes.com/sports/lat-bowl01_kef4lqnc20120131161539-photo.html

post

Players Who Sucked This Week

Have you ever been mad because your fantasy player under-performed? Or because your hometown team had that guy who screwed up the game? Or maybe, you just noticed someone who left their skills at home before the game? Well this new article is just for you!

Each week I will compile a list of players who just couldn’t get the job done. This serves more for comedic purposes than to vent anger. Okay, maybe I want to vent through this article. But nevertheless, here is my first list of some players this past week who didn’t earn that start or his salary.

First award goes to Sam Isaacson. This young man plays on the offensive line for Liberty University and made his first start this past weekend against the Virginia Tech Hokies. So what did he do? He committed not one, not two, but THREE false starts….consecutively! I don’t know the odds of that happening, and that isn’t how he planned to start his career.

Next we have Cole Hamels. Yes that same pitcher was the 2008 World Series MVP with the Philadelphia Phillies. His last two starts have been less than stellar: 6 IP, 14 H, 13 ER, 8 K, 1 L, 1 ND. To make it even worse, there was a 1 2/3 inning, 7 ER outing he suffered against the Mariners on September 5. Maybe next week Cole.

And now awards for poor behavior.

Jabari Ruffin of USC. You probably saw USC get demolished by Alabama Saturday night. And you probably also saw this man stomp on Minkah Fitzpatrick’s privates. No one can support this, except maybe this guy.

Colin Kaepernick. No political takes here about his national anthem protest. But to wear cop-pig socks and a Castro shirt while speaking on equality and oppression is just….no man. You’re going about it wrong.

Bruce Miller. Arriving at the wrong room then punching them? Not cool man. And it’s not the first offense. Even worse he came from my alma mater where he was a fan favorite.

 

Dishonorable Mentions

Osa Masina (and Don Hill) of USC: The case is still open and it is alleged so I won’t point the finger just yet. But really guys?

Ryan Lochte. It’s in the past so I’ll let it go. But that didn’t make us look good in Rio.

 

Did I miss anyone? Do you disagree with my choices? Type ’em in that comment box.

 

Photo credits:

http://24.media.tumblr.com/8069bbda5f40a98f2e1629cecc864e86/tumblr_mvpwrnK8K61s2wio8o1_400.gif

https://media.licdn.com/mpr/mpr/shrinknp_400_400/p/1/005/08d/313/10c8336.jpg

http://twitchy.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/screen-shot-2014-07-29-at-3-09-01-pm.png