Patriots vs. Rams: A Super Bowl Flashback

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Quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will face a flash from the past, from Super Bowl XXXVI against the Saint Louis Rams, and now the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII.

In 2002, Brady won his first championship with the Patriots against the Rams, 20-17. Little did we know, this was the start of an incredible dynasty.

Head Coach Bill Belichick has kept this Patriots’ well-oiled system for nearly two decades, consistently winning regular season and playoff games, year after year. Belichick and his Pats have the longest winning streak in the NFL history with 21 straight regular and postseason wins, from 2003-2004.

The Brady/Belichick era is something to be awed at, and to be celebrated, because we may never see anything this special again.

This might be one of the hardest Super Bowl matchups this Patriots squad will ever face, for the Rams, are one of the best teams in the league by far. Being one of the first teams to be undefeated this season, Rams QB Jared Goff has had an incredible year leading his team to 13 wins and just 3 losses.

Todd Gurley, 24, arguably has been the best running back all-season long, and if it weren’t for his minor ankle injury early in the playoffs, Gurley would be on fire running into the championship. Now that he is reportedly healthy, he will look to strive back to MVP form and run all over the Patriots.

The Rams have been impressed with veteran running back CJ Anderson, who has been filling in for Gurley, just two games into the playoffs after being acquired from free agency. Gurley will look to take over possessions again, unless head Coach Sean McVay has plans otherwise.

I think it will be important to give Gurley a majority of the touches, for McVay, might try and keep another balanced rushing attack. While this seem like a sensible plan, it will be more vital for Gurley to get momentum.

There are so many factors that go into this championship game, the question will be which will be one of those factors, that actually affect the outcome.

Will the Rams actually be able to take down the Patriots?

Photo by Keith Allison [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

A Dez Bryant-Patriots signing would be Randy ‘Moss-esk’

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With just a month left before the 2018 NFL season begins, Dez Bryant still has yet to sign with a team, but is rumored to be meeting with a contender.

There is little news about Dez Bryant or any of his potential suitors in free agency, except for his dis-interest in the Cleveland Browns. The Browns commented yesterday that Bryant didn’t really seem attracted to the idea of signing.

Bryant, recently just told the media that “he wants to play for a contender”, even after failing to sign with a team with just weeks away from regular season. He is basically limiting his options in free agency, but is sticking to his Owens-like character, wanting to win now.

Rumors have it that the Bryant’s next destination could be in New England, as the Patriots would make perfect sense for the Pro-Bowl wide receiver.

The Patriots reportedly have not contacted Bryant, which is the vintage “Patriot way” to not release any information to the media. The gossip starts with Tom Brady and his like for Bryant, many believe he is recruiting the former Dallas Cowboy.

The buzz continues after recent news that Patriots are releasing wide receiver Malcom Mitchell. Sources around the league speculate that New England is clearing a path to sign Dez.

New England needs help at the wide receiver position to say the least; with the Brandon Cooks trade to the Los Angeles Rams, and Julian Edelman still recovering from the ACL injury, Patriots might just have to roll the dice with Dez. While there is the “baggage” that comes with Bryant, the talent is still there, and derives a strong passion for the game – something key to spark the Patriots’ offense.

Tom Brady, 41, is most likely going to retire after the end of the 2018-2019 NFL season. It looks like this is a do-or-die season for the Brady-Belicheck era.

Could Dez give the Patriots the boost they need to make it another Super Bowl?

Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

Josh McDaniels helps mend Patriots’ Super Bowl LII Heartbreak with return 

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Everything began to start looking downhill for the Patriots after their Super Bowl loss, just until New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels shocked the league with rejecting the Indianapolis Colts head-coaching job – revitalizing this team as the NFL’s Supervillains.

There is no news of any other coaching moves within the Patriots’ organization, as well as roster changes (especially the quarterback position). With a sense of momentum change and inspiration, it does looks like however there might be a chance Tom Brady and Bill Belichick give it one more shot.

McDaniels, along side with defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, had already made their intentions on leaving the team prior to the championship. While the Patriots might attempt to possibly clean house with all of the coaching and roster changes, McDaniels shocks the organization with the news of his return for the 2018-2019 season.

The surprising and yet bold move to not accept the head-coaching job, sent shockwaves throughout the league. Not only does it raise questions concerning the Colts’ organization, but also makes people wonder what his real motivation is for returning to New England.

It looks like the Patriots’ offensive coordinator will help keep up the well-oiled machine that Patricia and Head Coach Bill Belichick built since 2004.

This bold move from McDaniels just give a ton of momentum back to the Patriots, trying to help bring them back from the dead after losing Super Bowl LII. New England fans are still getting over Sunday (and maybe never will), but they have to be somewhat happy there could be a chance that the dynasty will return another season.

While I am not a fan of the Patriots, I do respect McDaniels’ move – even though it might be more of a personal matter rather than doing it for the Patriots.

Sometimes when we make decisions in life that we end up changing, is a result of convincing ourselves rather than actually wanting ourselves to commit to that decision. I think this is one of those cases, and for McDaniels, I don’t really think he wanted to leave New England in the first place.

The 2018 NFL offseason will be interesting of course for the Patriots, but the question will be how interesting. The Pats’ summer looks a bit brighter though with the sense that the empire may strike again one more season with McDaniels’ return.

Photo by Brian Allen for Voice of America [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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2018 NFL Playoffs: Wild Card Weekend Ramifications 

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The NFL Playoffs are here and is already living up to the postseason hype with surprising upsets in the Wild Card Round – Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Buffalo Bills with the lowest combined points in playoff history and the Saints just nearly edged the Panthers in a back-and-forth shootout at home.

The First Round started off with one of the biggest surprises this postseason when the Tennessee Titans upset the Kansas City Chiefs by just one point at Arrowhead Stadium. Mariota and company scored 19 unanswered points in the second half to knock off the Chiefs in a tough road playoff game, shattering Alex Smith/Andy Reid’s potential with Kansas City.

Alex Smith is now 1-4, even with weapons like Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill. This talented Chiefs roster has failed to live up to expectations the past several seasons, losing five playoff games in a row, now dropping to a 2-6 record all-time in Arrowhead Stadium.

The expression and overall feeling from the postgame conference with Head Coach Andy Reid, basically had said it all for the state of the Chiefs. It looks like there will be whole sale changes next season, especially with winding-down contracts from the quarterback and head coach.

Will Alex Smith or Andy Reid return next season with the Chiefs?

The Chiefs were the catalyst as a tough road block in the AFC, now that the Patriots will be facing the Titans instead, the pathway to the Super Bowl is now an easier one for the defending champs. While Tennessee looked impressive in it’s first playoff win in years, they don’t necessarily stack up like their opponent to a team like the Patriots.

Patriots will win easily at home this Saturday, muting all the outside noise and negativity from the media. Unless Mariota throws for over 400 yards and 3 touchdowns, Titans don’t have much of a chance against an angry Patriots team.

Being a huge fan for underdogs, I couldn’t be happier for the Jacksonville Jaguars this season. The past few years I had always rooted for the Jaguars to do well, because they have had one of the longest droughts in the NFL for any success whatsoever.

A team that used to have the worst winning percentage in the league for the past decade (besides the Browns), is now moving on to the next round of the playoffs. I love it.

Excited as I am for the Jaguars, I don’t see them defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers again, especially in a playoff game atmosphere on the road. I hope I am wrong though, remember anything can happen on any given Sunday in the NFL.

Go Jags!

The Saints have to be the most dangerous team in the NFC, defeating a tough Carolina team and Brees’ spectacular play make them scary opponent in the playoffs. If the Ingrid-Kamara running back tandem show up against the Falcons, Brees will take his team to the Super Bowl.

Will Matt Ryan and the Falcons redeem themselves from last year’s Super Bowl heartbreak?

Photo by Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Blake Bortles) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

How Super Bowl LI can be the greatest of all-time

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The Patriots-Falcons Heavyweight has the potential to be one of the greatest championships in not just the league, but in all of sports. The No. 1 defense-vs.-No. 1 offense matchup in this year’s Super Bowl gives the possibility of becoming one of the most entertaining title games of all-time.

The hype from Super Bowl LI is reminiscent to the College Football Playoff Championship, the star-studded matchup: No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson, featured the best defenses as well as offenses in the league. The CFP Championship certainly had lived up to the hype with going down to the wire, proving that they were the two best teams in the league.

The football world was spoiled with an incredible rematch and one of the greatest title games in the history of sports, will we be blessed with another crowd-pleaser?

Super Bowl LI also has implications that are similar of the Alabama-Clemson matchup. Winning for New England means more than just glory, it means greatness.

The Patriots’ seventh Super Bowl appearance reflects Alabama’s dominant College Football Playoff run under the Nick Saban, with their fifth BCS title appearance in since 2009.

If the Falcons win, it would mean an entirety of things – more than just satisfaction or praise, rather with honor. For many, it would be well deserved if the Atlanta defeats all odds in defeating England, as they should.

Whether fans are rooting for Matt Ryan and company because they are underdogs, or they just simply hate the Patriots, this showdown has significances that could be destined for either team. The underdog position could work in favor for Atlanta, being a sleeper with the best offense in the league might not be so bad.

Can Matt Ryan pull off a Deshaun Watson-like performance this Sunday?

The Patriots and Falcons matchup well with their high-artillery of offensive/defensive weapons. It will hard to see that many mismatches, even with Julio Jones on the field, because New England has some of the best defensive backs in the NFL.

The Patriots defense will definitely have double coverage on Julio Jones, hell maybe even triple-team coverage. The next question is if New England will be able to slow him down, and if they do, Sanu and Gabriel will have step it up.

The good news for Atlanta is, if Julio Jones is completely blanketed, they will look to their high-flying running backs for help. All season long, New England has yet to face a two-running back set in the backfield like the Falcons have.

If the Falcons utilize the talents of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman in someway, shape or form, they will be very hard to stop. Tom Brady will have to play ‘catch up’ in order to keep up with Atlanta’s high-flying pace.

I suspect Matt Ryan will have a good game along with Julio Jones, but Atlanta’s running back duo will be the X-factor of Super Bowl LI.

Photo by Keith Allison from Baltimore, USA (Tom Brady) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

2016-2017 NFL Predictions   

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Football is just around the corner, so that means there will be conversation, analysis, and predictions – the 2016-2017 NFL season is already underway.  The high draft pick acquisitions certainly upgraded a few team’s roster, and thus give a higher ceiling for the teams that are on the playoff-bubble; here is my breakdown and projections for this upcoming NFL season.

NFC East

1. Dallas Cowboys

2. Washington Redskins

3. NY Giants

4. Philadelphia Eagles

Cowboys under Tony Romo, being that he is at 90-95% healthy, will lead a Cowboys team with an elite passing game and along with a fully-reloaded running game. Along with their quarterback, the impact of Dez Bryant and Ezekiel Elliot, Dallas should have the strongest attack in NFC – however my prediction could be in jeopardy with the recent breaking news Saturday, NFL.com stated that Tony Romo broke a bone in his back once again.

There is no official timetable for Romo’s injury, but NFL.com reported an estimated return will be mid-season – a similar situation to last season, except the season hasn’t even officially started and he already injured.

With Tony Romo set to be out for weeks, it looks like another predictable outcome for Dallas; Elliot and the prestigious O-line will need to help carry the load for Romo’s absence. The Redskins have the chance to win the NFC East once again with their recent upgrades on both sides of the ball, they will be a hard team to beat in the NFC.

The New York Giants’ roster is similar to the Dallas Cowboys, they always have the potential to go playoff bound and further, but the question is if they will allow themselves top do so. The Giants always have a shot to be threat in the East with Manning as their QB, the concern will be if they can expand their full-potential.

NFC West

1. Seahawks

2. Cardinals

3. Rams

4. 49ers

The Arizona Cardinals are deservingly in the conversation to win the NFC West, but I give a slight edge to the Seahawks because of their versatility at quarterback. It is well known based on last season, that the 49ers have to prove a lot, certainly with the QB battle still being discussion with Kaepernick and Gabbert. Yeah, Blaine Gabbert.

NFC South

1. Panthers

2. Buccaneers

3. Saints

4. Falcons

New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons remain questionable, and with the respect to Drew Brees, Saints get slight favorite over Falcons. Tampa Bay, yes Tampa Bay, is one of my sleeper teams this 2016-2017 NFL season.

NFC North

1. Packers

2. Bears

3. Vikings

4.
Lions

Vikings are improving under Mike Zimmer, and if it weren’t for a 27-yd missed chip shot, they would’ve gotten out higher on this list and gained more respect throughout the league. For the Vikings, unfortunately this is a tough division, and they find themselves just a fraction away.

The Lions remain the most questionable in the NFC North, especially with the retiring of their superstar Calvin Johnson, someone will need to help fill the wide-receiver vacancy.

Packers have their secret weapon back – Jordy Nelson, and always are in the Super Bowl discussion with Aaron Rodgers. Their division rival, Bears are improving under John Fox, and will be interesting to see how Kevin White along the emerging wide receivers will compliment their defense.

AFC East

1. Patriots

2. Jets

3. Dolphins

4. Bills

Despite Tom Brady’s four-game suspension, Patriots’ 11-consecutive winning seasons under the Belicheck era speak for itself.

Jets are starting to come up with the new identity under Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall had Montana/Rice-like chemistry last year, and are considered one of the best pass duos in the league.

I give the Dolphins a slight, slight edge over the Bills – Miami may as well be tied with Buffalo. Tannehill is rising and has been productive, but still has a lot to prove in my perspective.

Bills could surprise the league with a better record than Jets and the Dolphins, but remain suspect with their young quarterback-tandem and rigorous schedule.

AFC West

1. Raiders

2. Broncos

3. Chiefs

4. Chargers

Probably the biggest surprise in this year’s prediction is: Raiders winning the AFC West, partly due to the suspect QB situation in Denver, but Oakland’s captain Derek Carr gives the team potential with great quarterback play. Broncos still have a Super Bowl defense, but again questions remain on the offensive end.

The Chargers have young talent and great prospects for the future, however under Rivers’ recent decline, San Diego remains under-construction.

AFC South

1. Colts

2. Jaguars

3. Texans

4. Titans

Andrew luck is due for another breakout season, and will be reminiscent to the Andrew Luck we are accustomed to seeing. The Jaguars’ re improving each year, and now are taking huge strides for success with the potential from Bortles & company, along with their recent high draft picks.  Not much has changed for Titans this offseason, Mariota has high ceiling but team is suspect.

AFC North

1. Steelers

2. Ravens

3. Browns

4. Bengals

Roethlisberger is aging, but the Antonio Brown chemistry is still there, and remain one of the elite passing threats in the league. Ravens remain a consistent all-around, physical and experienced team with another shot to make a run to the playoffs.

Browns are another sleeper team with great potential, with higher ceiling under Robert Griffin III leading the offense and their superstar Josh Gordon to make his long awaited return.

Photo by Pete Sheffield (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons