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NFL’s first Sunday filled with surprises and drama

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Chicago Bears

The ritual on Sunday morning was different yesterday. Whether you were trying to get rid of your hangover or trying to get rid of those pesky weeds in the backyard, NFL fans finished their chores post-haste. Because they, like myself, knew that the rest of the day would be dedicated to watching football. But what kind of day would the league produce? The NFL season is a roller coaster, a very long one, filled with plenty of turns, twists and loops. Depending on which team one is supporting will determine what kind of ride is expected. The highs will be high, and the lows will be low. Despite those risks, fans of the NFL know what they’re getting themselves into and Sunday morning was filled with aspirations and anxiousness. So, what went down yesterday in the National Football League?

Since CBS decided to dedicate part of their afternoon to the US Open, the early slate of NFL games was pretty massive. Ten games going on and there was plenty of drama early. Some of the games turned into lopsided affairs (Vikings-Rams, Eagles-Jaguars, Dolphins-Patriots) but some nice finishes kept the watchers on the edge of their seats. Which team was most impressive yesterday? I’m torn between a few teams. Initially I thought to go with the Vikings, who were on the road in St. Louis and completely destroyed a stout Rams’ defense. With respect to anyone else who made some magic happen yesterday, Cordarrelle Patterson had my favorite play of day with his 67-yard run. Then I remembered the Rams offense will be mediocre at best this season. What about the Dolphins? At home, going up against the untouchable Tom Brady is no easy task for any team. Miami dominated the second half with their running game, using a nice combination of Lamar Miller and Knowshon Moreno to control the pace of the game. But as I’ve said in the past, weird stuff happens when the Patriots are in Miami every season. So that leaves me with the Bills (pictured above) in Chicago, impressing the hell out of everyone and beating the Bears in overtime. I think the line for that game was Bears by 8 or something close to it. So it’s safe to say that nobody had Buffalo winning that game and because of what they showed me, they were the most impressive team yesterday.

Unfortunately for fans of other teams (myself included) it can’t all be rainbows and sunshine. Half of the teams participating in yesterday’s games saw their game finish in a loss. Fans of those on the losing side will overreact today, pointing fingers and looking for someone to blame for their misery. Fair enough, but for anyone who has been following this league knows that the first game of the season won’t determine that team’s fate. Or does it? The stats can prove part of the argument but after watching a losing side, which are the teams that are in real trouble? There are three obvious candidates. We can go ahead and start things off with my Dallas Cowboys, who were on the wrong end of a spanking at home against the 49ers. The Cowboys went away from what was working and that result in three picks from Tony Romo. Let’s also add that the Niners offense did what they wanted with their passing game. But we knew the Cowboys and their defense would be bad. What about their division rival Washington? The Redskins were victims of one JJ Watt, who lived up to his massive contract and hounded RG3 and his offensive line. But we knew that Watt is a beast and we knew that the Redskins questions on offense. Now we have the Chiefs, with the biggest opportunity to silence there doubters, they fell flat in Tennessee. The Chiefs are in for a really, really long season and their season debut might have indicated exactly how their season will go.

What’s better than football on Monday night? Even more football on Monday night. That’s right, we’re getting two games tonight ladies and gentlemen. The Giants are in Detroit (7:10 ET) and then we have the late night game that will feature the Chargers in Arizona (10:20 ET) to finish things off. Plan on staying up nice and late!

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Seahawks take care of Packers in NFL’s opening night

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It feels good to write the sentence “opening night” and have it be about the NFL. It means that we have twenty-two (22!) Sundays that will feature at least one professional football game on our television. As much I want to discuss Sunday’s massive 1pm (ET) slate, let’s have some manners and leave the main course until after the appetizer. And by appetizer, i’m clearly referring to last night’s opening game that squared off with the Packers in Seattle. One thing is for sure: the Seahawks are still in their championship form. After a fairly balanced first half, the Seahawks dominated the Packers in the 3rd quarter, putting the game out of reach and taking home the first win of the NFL season. Quick shout out to Ariana Grande, who looked pretty cute and did a nice job singing the national anthem before the game. But we’re here to talk about football and we got some solid football last night. At least, if you’re talking to Seattle fans, who probably were anxious to see their team’s championship banner go up before starting their back-to-back campaign. Remember when “experts” like myself were picking the Packers as a possible contender for the best team in the NFC? Well, the Seahawks quickly reminded everyone why they’re the big boys on the block. Seattle played big boy football, smashing the ball through the tackles with an impressive game by Marshawn Lynch (110 yds, 2 TDs) from start to finish. Let’s also remember that Percy Harvin, the x-factor of all x-factors, combined for 100 yards in a barrage of impressive running and passing plays. It’s just a shame that we’re all thinking the same thing about Harvin when we’re watching him play and hoping that this is the year he stays healthy.

With all of the praise for the offense, let’s not forget that Seattle prides itself with their defense and as the game went on, the better the defense looked. I thought that once the Seahawks forced a Packers safety, the game was over and it was only a matter of time before the game was out of reach. Even with Rodgers making some nice plays and putting together a couple of nice drives, the Packers’ offense never looked comfortable. Green Bay put themselves in too many 3rd and long situations that are nearly impossible to complete when you’re playing in Seattle. So what’s the Packers gameplan heading forward into the season? Well, for one they must improve their defense overall. The Seahawks were able to execute their plays with almost no resistance at all. There’s also wondering how serious Eddy Lacy’s exit in the 3rd quarter (concussion) will affect him and the Packers running game heading forward. And the Seahawks, well, just more of the same in all honesty. A couple of pretty big games coming up as they head into San Diego in week 2 and then get Denver at home the following week.

Alright, now let’s get ready for main course. For those who are wondering, yes, get the NFL’s Red Zone channel and just leave it on there for your entire Sunday afternoon. Unless you want to focus on your team’s game specifically. Luckily for me, the Cowboys aren’t going to disappoint me until later on in the day, so i’m just focused on the red zone action for the ten (10!) game slate in the 1 pm (ET) slot. Plenty of good games too. The Saints in Atlanta should feature plenty of points and big plays. The Bengals in Baltimore is a nice divisional rivalry that could help decide a tie-breaker at the end of the season. The Redskins in Houston is exciting to think about solely just to see RG3 against the Texans’ pass rush. The Patriots in Miami always seems to have some of weird play or breakout performance. Because for whatever silly reason, CBS is choosing to show the US Open instead of football. Their loss. We’ll be enjoying the 49ers in Dallas, a game that could go in a hundred different directions and the Panthers in Tampa Bay, a game that is impossible to predict. Things wrap up with the Colts in Denver, for what could be a super-early playoff match preview. Can Peyton Manning duplicate last season’s historic-level season? Can Andrew Luck out-Andrew Luck himself? Grab a seat, grab a cold drink and ignore your responsibilities for a little white. The NFL is back and the first Sunday is always the sweetest. Good luck to everyone’s team this season but as always, go Cowboys!

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2014 NFL season preview: NFC North

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Along with the NFC West, I think this will be the best division in football this year. Just having a healthy Aaron Rodgers on the Packers boosts the stock of any team and the games that they’re participating in. Lots of history with these teams and the rivalries seem to brood more hate than most around the league. But despite this being one of the better divisions in the league, there are still plenty of questions lingering for each of the teams. Can the Packers offense have more balance to offset their questionable defense? The Bears have lived off defense in years past but now with two big weapons on the outside, can the Bears make a return to the playoffs? Can the Lions, with a new head coach, turn their fortunes around and actually close out games when they need it most? I’m a bit hesitant to agree but I can certainly see why many think that the Vikings are a threat to challenge for the division title.

Green Bay Packers: This season is going to depend on the team’s health and more specifically, the health of all-pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Because Rodgers missed so much of last season due to a broken collarbone, I think people have forgotten how good #12 on the Packers really is. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to draft him for any of my fantasy teams this season but I was able to get Eddy Lacy, who will look to continue to carry Green Bay’s running game. With Rodgers and Lacy leading the way, the offense looks set to do very well and potentially be the best in the league. So that leaves the big question marks on the defense. Julius Peppers should help the defense but it’s still going to take the effort (and health) of the entire defensive unit. If the defense can hold it’s own, the Packers will win the division and possibly compete for NFC’s best record.

Chicago Bears: Much like the Packers, a lot of the success they’re hoping to see this season will depend on whether or not their quarterback can stay healthy to coincide with better production on defense. Seems pretty simple, no? Can Jay Cutler, with two big weapons to throw to and a great running back behind him, be the type of QB that Chicago hopes for? The offense will put up big numbers but i’m waiting to see how much the defense will improve. Chicago recognized their problems on that side of the ball and went out during the offseason to aggressively fix things. I’m still worried about what is going on with their defensive backs and how they’re going to be able to stop the big-time receivers that they’re going to face in their divisional games. I can see them being very good but several reasons keep from picking anything but slightly over a .500 record.

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings have been getting some attention in the weeks prior to the start of the season as candidates to potentially crash the division’s party. I see it, and I don’t. Minnesota has some big weapons to try and compliment as much as possible. Of course, we’re talking about Adrian Peterson, who is still the best running back (slightly over McCoy) in the NFL. But do people realize how good Cordarrelle Patterson can be? I’m all-in with him with my fantasy teams. Anyways, these are the biggest questions for the Vikings this season: 1. Can their secondary continue to improve? Yes, they were bad last season but were even worse the season before that! Baby steps everyone. 2. When will we see Teddy Bridgewater? I loved him coming out of college and I love him to come in during the season and make an impact. In the end, Not enough complementary pieces for success this season.

Detroit Lions: I left the Lions last for a reason. They’re such a mystery to me. Possibly the hardest to figure out of any of the NFL teams. Let’s not forget that this team had the NFC North in complete control last season before having a meltdown of massive proportions, losing six of their last seven games. Most of those games were close and the losses came because of some bonehead errors. How will new coach Jim Caldwell fix their discipline issues and make the team better in crunch time? Can Matthew Stafford bounce back from a disappointing season? He only has Megatron, the league’s best receiver, to throw to. Their defensive front will always pose a threat to other team’s quarterbacks but again, it comes to down the “intangibles” or whatever one would like to call them. Biggest potential, but a bigger mystery. Slightly above .500 until proven otherwise.

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2014 NFL season preview: AFC North

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A division, once dominated by the clashes between the Steelers and Ravens, now belongs to the Bengals and their one-and-done status in the playoffs. Can Cincinnati finally get over that bump they have faced for three straight seasons? The Ravens are the most recent of the teams to see success but multiple on (and off) the field issues have plagued them since their Super Bowl run just two seasons ago. Pittsburgh is usually the model franchise around the league but health and questions about whether or not their defense needs to revamp will determine a lot for them. What about the Browns? Cleveland will always be the butt of jokes when it comes to the AFC North but with some new changes and a fresh head coach, can the Browns make big improvements? Interesting division to try and figure out.

Cincinnati Bengals: Another year for the Bengals and another year where the franchise will be solely judged on how well they do once they reach the playoffs. Barring a drastic injury to one of the big players, Cincinnati will once again end up around 10 or 11 wins and reach the postseason. The only difference this season is that the pressure has mounted in a big way now that quarterback Andy Dalton got his big extension. But can the young QB step his game up? Dalton has a big weapon (AJ Green) and a rising RB (Giovanni Bernard) to help continue his solid performance, but nothing will matter unless he improves his play when it matters most. That’s really what it’s going to come down to for the Bengals this season. Get through the regular season in the similar fashion of years past. I expect them to win the division but it will forgotten if they don’t win at least one playoff game.

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers’ season will hinge on a few big factors. First of all, how will the defense adapt to the changes that have been made both this season and last season? Troy Polamalu can’t continue to be the deciding factor this far into his career. The next two factors go hand-in-hand but are separate. How well will the offensive line protect Ben Roethlisberger? Injuries always occur but more specifically, the offensive line of the Steelers seems to lose a man every single weekend. The next factor is who, aside from Antonio Brown and Big Ben, will step up on offense. The running backs (Bell and Blount) dealt with off the field issues not too long ago but seem to have moved past it. Here’s a nice tip for the Steelers: don’t start the season 0-4 if you plan on making the playoffs this season. Adapting to changes will determine how well above .500 this team finishes.

Baltimore Ravens: The term “Super Bowl hangover” was said over and over last season with the Ravens. But how accurate of a description was it for Baltimore? Well, the way they start this season is going to give everyone a look at what this team is about. The Ravens revolve around their big-money elite quarterback Joe Flacco, who has been wildly disappointing since signing his big contract. I really like the signing of Steve Smith and their “all in” approach with various other acquisitions. If the passing game can carry the offense under their new coordinator, then the stink coming off their running game won’t be as much of an issue. Once Ray Rice gets back from his suspension (an absurd length) then they continue to figure out what’s going on with the run game. Cautiously optimistic about this Ravens team and I feel that they can compete for the division title.

Cleveland Browns: The Browns are the Browns. Every season they seem to catch news for the wrong reasons and this year is no different. Their star receiver Josh Gordon is appealing his season-long suspension and that will hang over the team for pretty much the entire season. Another big moment came when Brian Hoyer was named the starting quarterback with none other Johnny “money dance” Manziel holding the clipboard right behind him. This isn’t the boldest of predictions but don’t worry, Johnny Football will play this season and will eventually be the starter before week 17 rolls around. Just wait until the Browns’ underrated defense isn’t able to bail them out of a below-.500 record and the fans start chanting Manziel’s name over and over. Growing pains for this team but, despite their record, Cleveland will be a solid team this season.

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Today’s Top 3 Supermodel Instagrams

Just a heads up: We’re moving shop in the coming weeks (have to be off our current servers by September 15), so things will be a little slow on our end…

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2014 NFL season preview: AFC South

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What a downgrade from most of the divisions in the NFL. Other divisions look forward to facing these four teams but can they manage to do better this season? This division revolves around the Colts, and more specifically, Andew Luck, who matters more to the Indy’s success than any other QB. Can the Colts once again win the division virtually by default? Jacksonville has always been sort of a laughing stock due to their lack of success as of late but have they acquired the tools to turn things around? Tennessee is the biggest mystery in the division but flying low on everyone’s radar could be the best scenario for them. Then we have the Houston Texans, who after their worst season in the NFL last year, are shelling out a nice tandem in their pass rush.

Indianapolis Colts: This team might as well named the Indianapolis Lucks. Lucky to be in this division and lucky to have Andrew Luck behind center. Indy did a nice job of getting some new weapons for their young quarterback but it’s going to take some time for them to completely gel into their offensive system. But the “gelling” of their offense won’t get going unless they can keep the pressure off Luck, something that the Colts’ offensive line hasn’t been able to do since #12 started playing there. Let’s also throw in that several arrests, including their owner, have occurred in the offseason and could prove to be more critical than normal. Despite their problems, the Colts are still the best team in a bad division. No reason to think they won’t repeat as AFC South champions.

Houston Texans: But if a team could take the throne from the Colts, it has to be the Texans. All signs point to a complete turnaround this season for Houston: no more Matt Schaub; the addition for Jadaveon Clowney; new head coach looking to shake things up and finally, quite possibly the easiest schedule of all time. What else am I missing here? Did I mention that Schaub won’t be around the break his “pick-6” record anymore? Oh yeah, a healthy Andre Johnson who just might stay healthy for once in his life. But this team still has burdens. Mostly Arian Foster and whatever he has left in the tank partnered with the insecurity of what QB Ryan Fitzpatrick can do in his first year there. They can give the Colts some pressure but I still expect them to finish right around a .500 record.

Tennessee Titans: As I stated above, the Titans are a mystery because their offense is a mystery. Their quarterback can’t stay healthy and who knows what will happen with their running game. If Jake Locker wants to prove that he can play QB in the NFL, this needs to be the season. Tennessee has not picked up his option for 2015 so as of right now, Locker is playing for a job. Now that they’re without Chris Johnson, will another running back pick up the slack? They have several options but we have yet to see which RB will show that he deserves the most touches. The improvements in coaching should be evident right away but I can’t expect them to do well unless some unexpected talent produces a breakout performance. Until I see a healthy Locker, they linger around .500 once again.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Aside from the Browns and Raiders, this is everyone’s favorite team to pick on. For all of you who have only been watching the NFL for a few years, the Jaguars used to finish above .500 and used to make the playoffs. But that hasn’t happened in what feels like forever when it reality it’s been since ’07 since they participated in the postseason. They just never have an identity anymore. Their defense has been decent, during this stretch that they’re in, but the offense has been mediocre, at best, for a long time now. Can Blake Bortles change that? They have done a nice job of building through the draft but it’s time for those pieces to come together and produce some victories. The Jags will be improved from last season but will continue to hold the “one year away” tag once again this season.

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