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Carolina Dominates The Cardinals On The Way To The Super Bowl

(photo courtesy of Jason Getz/USA Today Sports)

(photo courtesy of Jason Getz/USA Today Sports)

And then there were two in the NFC. The two best teams all year in the conference, the Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers, passed their first test in the Divisional Rounds, beating the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks respectively. And on Sunday night, both teams were trying to get back to the Super Bowl. The Cardinals last went back in the 2008 season, when they lost to Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-23 in Tampa, Florida. The Panthers drought has been a little longer, last visiting the Super Bowl in the 2003 season, when they lost to the New England Patriots 32-29. Both teams came out with much to prove in this game. The Cardinals wanted to prove that last week was just an aberration. And for the Panthers, they wanted to prove that they were worthy of being the NFC champions. From the jump, the Panthers let the Cardinals know they meant business. Carolina jumped out to a 24-7 halftime lead, jumping all over the Cardinals. And in the second half, they would continue to jump all over the Cardinals, punching their Super Bowl ticket with a dominating 49-15 win. With that, the Panthers are on to match up against the Denver Broncos.

Offensively, the Panthers were clicking and that all started with the play of their offensive line. Going into the season, the Panthers were a team that was looked at as having a line that was not good enough. But as the season as grown, they have gotten better and better. And now they are the backbone of one of the best offenses in the NFL. In today’s game, they allowed Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to step up in the pocket and complete passes to the tune of 19/28 for 335 yards and two touchdowns. But the offensive line was not only effective in the passing game. They were able to open holes for Newton and running back Jonathan Stewart. Both averaged over four yards per carry in this one. And the offensive line was able to get Cam in the endzone twice on the ground, with the biggest one being a Newton 12 yard run for a touchdown. That run put the Panthers up 34-7 and gave them an insurmountable lead against Arizona. Even though Cam Newton will more than likely be the MVP of the NFL, his offensive line was the MVP of this game.

The Panthers have been a nasty defense all year long. Much has been made of their pieces in the back seven, particularly defensive back Josh Norman and linebackers Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly. But the key players in this game had to be the Panthers defensive line. They harassed the Palmer all game long and were relentless. And as a byproduct of their pressure, they forced Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer into four interceptions, with one going back for a touchdown. It seemed that Palmer could never get comfortable in the pocket all game long. Some of that was on Carson because he just was out of sorts. But most of that had to be credited to the Panthers front seven. And along with the pressure they were bringing, they were also steady in the running game. They allowed David Johnson to get 60 yards on 15 carries, but they did not allow him to get in a rhythm for much of the game. And by making some stops on first down, Arizona fell behind the sticks and that put additional pressure on the Cardinals offense. Last week, the Packers were not able to catch Larry Fitzgerald, as he torched them in overtime for the win. But the Panthers were on him all game long, only giving up four receptions for 30 yards. Larry was a non-factor along with his fellow wide receiver Michael Floyd. Their offense was rendered helpless by a defense that was flying all over the field.

The Panthers did what many felt they could not do. At the beginning of the season, many wondered if they would even win five or six games. They had lost their best wide receiver before the season started and many felt Cam did not have enough to win ballgames offensively. But little did we know that the combination of the skill people they had along with Cam’s excellent performance this year would carry them to being one of the best offenses in the NFL. Couple their offense with their stingy defense and the Panthers had a well-oiled machine. And as the season went on, they got better and better despite those that thought they would falter. Fast forward to now and the Panthers are now on their way to the Super Bowl. And with a win, they would have made some unexpected history for their organization. We will see what happens under the bright lights in Santa Clara, California on February 7th.

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The General’s NFL Proclamations-Conference Championship Weekend

(photo courtesy of Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports)

(photo courtesy of Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports)

It has now come down to Conference Championship Weekend. Four teams with dreams and aspirations still alive to win the title. In these big games, the pressure will be heavy. The plays that are or are not made could go a long way in determining this one. And this is also one of the games where special players play their best or miss their opportunity. For these four teams, the time is now. There is no tomorrow. Without further ado, here is the General’s Proclamation for Conference Championship Weekend!

New England Patriots at Denver Broncos

  1. The Broncos’ defense was good enough to get it done last week versus a depleted and injured Pittsburgh offense. And good thing they were playing well because the Denver offense was decent at best. They were dropping passes right and left and the running game was inconsistent as it has been. In this one, the offense needs to be better. And with that being said, look for them to at least drop less passes in this game, led by wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, who will catch at least five passes for 80 yards and a touchdown, as he shakes off his big-game struggles.
  2. The Patriots looked like themselves offensively because of the return of wide receiver Julian Edelman. The veteran wide receiver can be seen regularly running patterns across the field, constantly getting open. In this game, look for him to have some fun. The Broncos are a team that plays a lot of man-to-man defense and crossing patterns are great for beating that coverage. Look for Edelman to get at least nine receptions for at least 120 yards and one touchdown.
  3. To counteract Tom Brady and his offense, the Broncos will need to mix things up. We all know that Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips does not like to mix up his coverages, but he may be forced to in this one. But no matter what defensive coverage he switches to on the backend, he must get pressure from his front seven. And with that being said, look for the Broncos to get home at least four times, with pass rush specialist DeMarcus Ware getting one that forces a turnover.
  4. Defensively for the Patriots, they will need their linebackers to be good in disguising coverages. If they are not, then that makes it easy for Peyton to figure out what is going on and then attack it (there will probably be tons of “Omaha” calls made). With that being said, look for the Patriots to get Peyton Manning at least once. And by getting him, I mean tricking him into an interception.
  5. Many have talked about this being a Manning vs Brady battle again. But this game is more than that and it speaks to the regression of Peyton Manning. The Broncos ran the ball almost 50% of the time with Peyton on the field and that is unheard of. In this one, they get the lead and force Peyton to have to throw to catch up. And in that situation, that is advantage Patriots. The Patriots win this game 27-17 and we will more than likely be saying goodbye to the Manning vs Brady matchups forever. The Pat

Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers

  1. The Panthers started out strong last week against the Seattle Seahawks. They got out to a 31-0 lead and hung on for the win. A big part of that win was them running the football. It is the thing that gets their offense going. Arizona isn’t exactly the easiest team to run against, so this will be a challenge for them. A challenge that has to be answered first by running back Jonathan Stewart. Look for him to have at least 20 carries in this game and around 80 yards rushing with a touchdown.
  2. The Cardinals did not play their best game, but they were able to fight off a feisty Green Bay team in overtime. Carson Palmer did not play like the guy many thought was in the MVP race this year. And in this game against the Panthers, the Cardinals better hope he plays better than last game. In this game, look for him to be more responsible with the football. He will have only one interception in this game.
  3. The matchup of Panthers cornerback Josh Norman versus Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will be fun to watch. Both play with an electricity and a passion for the game. And although one is more talkative than the other, they both get the job done. I expect Norman will not be on Fitzgerald all game due to the defensive alignment of the Panthers. But when both are matched up on each other, look for Larry to have only one or two receptions on him. Norman got victimized last week and I expect him to come out ready to go in this one. It’s the most important game he has played in.
  4. The one guy that makes a huge difference for this Cardinals defense is linebacker Deone Bucannon. He is an undersized linebacker, being that he was a safety to start the season. But he has played well and helped the Cardinals defense be solid if not spectacular this season. Look for him to get at least 8 tackles in this game as he flies all over the field. But the key thing to watch in this game is how he gets off blocks in the run game, which is huge for the Panthers.
  5. Both teams have running games and both offenses can be explosive in their own way. But the difference in this one will be the quarterback play. Both defenses will be stingy against the run sans a few good runs to make numbers look better. But for Carolina, having Cam Newton at quarterback will eliminate the bad plays and turn them into good gains on the ground and thru the air. The Panthers head to the Super Bowl on the strength of a 30-20 win. The Cardinals had a great run, but this is the end of it in Charlotte.

Both of these games will have some drama in them. And there will be some moments of doubt for both teams. But it’s about which team can overcome the bad plays and make the least mistakes. And with that being said, look for a Panthers/Patriots Super Bowl. The best two teams will be left standing.

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The Cardinals Were Able To Overcome Self-Destruction

(photo courtesy of David Wallace/Azcentral Sports)

(photo courtesy of David Wallace/Azcentral Sports)

The game in Week 16, the Arizona Cardinals versus the Green Bay Packers was a blowout. The Packers were handled offensively and defensively in that game as they lost 38-8. Many wondered what would happen with the Packers after that game. They looked lost offensively and in the Arizona game, the defensive secondary looked like they were not up to snuff either. As for the Cardinals, they were flying high and it seemed like people had the Arizona and the Panthers on a collision course to meet each other in the NFC Championship. Well, the Packers were able to back into the playoffs after they lost the NFC North division at home against the Vikings. But the Packers were not alone. The Cardinals were blasted at home by the Seattle Seahawks in their last game as well and limped in. There were some that expected the Packers to lose against the Redskins on the road in the Wild Card Round. They looked so bad going into the playoffs right? Well, they found some magic offensively and shut the Redskins down for the Wild Card win. Their prize: going back to the desert to see the Arizona Cardinals. That team that blew their doors off in the regular season was going to see them again. But this time, the game was different.

Green Bay hung in with the Cardinals in this game. They were harassing Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer all game long. And to their credit, they helped him throw two crucial interceptions, with one being an interception in the endzone. Fortunately for Palmer, the Packers never really capitalized on all his mistakes. On those drives where Carson threw interceptions, the Packers were only able to muster seven points, which happened to be the points that put them up 13-7 in the third quarter. Being down and not playing their best game, the Cardinals could have given in. But instead of giving in, the Cardinals dug deep and found a way. Arizona would answer the Packers’ touchdown with ten straight points to take a 17-13 lead with 3:44 left in the game, including a touchdown that was deflected by a Packers defender and landed in the arms of wide receiver Michael Floyd. At that point, all the Cardinals had to do is stop the Packers once or twice and they would win the game. Arizona stopped the Packers on their first drive late in the game, turning them over on downs. And following that, the Cardinals were able to add a field goal to put them up 20-13. But what happened in that drive to get that field goal was interesting. The Cardinals inexplicably threw the football on 2nd and 8, saving time for Green Bay, which was out of timeouts after using their last one on 1st down. With that, the Cardinals saved the Packers about 40 seconds. And they needed every bit of that as well. The Packers were floundering on their last drive and were down to a 4th and 20. The Cardinals inexplicably blitzed and when they did, Aaron Rodgers escaped and found wide receiver Jeff Janis for a 60 yard gain. The play gave Green Bay new life, but it also allowed them to get down the field and in position for a Hail Mary. They botched downing the ball in favor of trying to run another play and that left the Packers with 12 seconds and 41 yards to go after a five yard penalty. And what happened next was magic. On the final play of the game, Aaron Rodgers rolled away from pressure coming at him and heaved a pass into the endzone. And unbelievably, Janis came down with another huge catch, this time in the endzone. The Packers did the unbelievable and tied the game to send it into overtime. The crowd and the Cardinals looked stunned. But could they overcome this and still win?

The Cardinals got the ball after that amazing play and there was some question as to how they would respond. Would they fold under the circumstances of what just happened or would they decide to step up and win this game? Well, the later happened and it happened behind the strength and determination of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. The veteran wide receiver out of the University of Pittsburgh had been making play after play all season long. And in this game, he was definitely making it happen. Every time a big catch was needed, you knew where Carson Palmer was going. And in overtime, the first play showed the magic that Palmer and Fitzgerald have. Palmer dropped back on 1st and 10 and was somehow able to avoid the rush from the Packers. He escaped to his right and was running looking down the field when he saw Fitzgerald on the opposite side of the field all alone. From there, he stopped, set his feet and threw a catchable football to Fitzgerald. Larry took that pass and raced through the Packers defense and down to the Packers’ five yard line. And from there, two plays later the Cardinals gave Larry the ball via a shuffle pass that would win the game, 26-20. The team celebrated by surrounding Fitzgerald, as he surely saved them from an early exit. His will to win would not let his team lose. And despite the many mistakes made to finish this game, the Cardinals hung on to win.

Going forward, the Cardinals need to learn from this one. The first thing they may want to do is find a way to get Carson Palmer back to making plays and not the careless ones he made Saturday night. The pressure to win a playoff game is now off Palmer, so that may help him relax a little more next time out. But his mistakes in this one almost cost them their playoff lives. Another thing they have to fix is the way they attack closing teams out. A few things happened there. The first thing is the all-out blitzes the Cardinals sent on Green Bay’s two huge passing plays. They should have known that Rodgers is even more dangerous with less people in coverage and bigger windows. He has enough mobility to escape the pass rush and he showed the Cardinals the mistake they were making twice. They should have made Rodgers have to dink and dunk down the field. And lastly, one of the best cornerbacks in the game made a mistake on something that’s taught all the way back to youth football. They always teach you as a defensive back to go catch the ball at its highest point. And in this situation where Rodgers is heaving the football towards the goal line, Patrick Peterson is supposed to be there to either catch that ball at its highest point or knock it down. Peterson did neither and helped the Packers get the game into overtime.

The game was pure excitement down the stretch and was great reality television for NFL fans across the world. But the real reality is the Cardinals were almost their own destruction down the stretch. And if it was not for the heroics of Larry Fitzgerald, then they could potentially be sitting at home right now wondering what could have been. Instead of that, now they are waiting to see if they have to travel to Charlotte to face the Panthers or stay home to host the Seahawks. Whichever situation presents itself, the Cardinals have to play better if they have any hope of making it to the Super Bowl by beating either one of those teams.

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The General’s NFL Proclamations-Divisional Round

(photo courtesy of Associated Press)

(photo courtesy of Associated Press)

The Wild Card Weekend was indeed wild. We had a missed kick to win the game, a team lose their cool down the stretch, a team pulled a no-show and one team that ran out of steam. And just when you thought it could not get any better, here come the Divisional Rounds of the playoffs. We have some great matchups. In the NFC, we have two rematches. In the AFC, there is one repeat matchup and there also the hottest team in the NFL going against a banged-up Patriots’ team. This weekend, you can look for some unpredictable and mind-boggling plays. Welcome to the General Proclamations for the Divisional Rounds.

Kansas City at New England

  1. Alex Smith was solid versus the Houston Texans last game and that was all because of tight end Travis Kelce. Eight of Smith’s seventeen completions went to Kelce last week. Look for the Patriots to make him a focus. And because of that, he will not have more than 4 receptions in this one and no more than 40 yards receiving with no touchdowns.
  2. For New England, Tom Brady has two weapons that are limping into this one. Both tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Julian Edelman are both questionable coming into this one. But that means another guy has to step up. Wide receiver Brandon LaFell has had drop issues, but he has an opportunity to step up and make some plays. With so much attention to Edelman and Gronkowski, look for LaFell to have at least 5 receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown.
  3. The Chiefs have a star in defensive back Marcus Peters. The rookie quickly struck fear in opposing teams with his propensity to make big plays. And in this one, he will definitely make one big play. Look for him to pick off Tom Brady in a crucial part of the game.
  4. The Patriots are the walking wounded in this game and the Chiefs are not doing much better. In this battle of attrition, look for the Patriots to survive by the skin of their teeth, 22-17.

Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals

  1. The Packers were destroyed in Week 16 when they visited Arizona last time. Their offensive line was completely destroyed in the last game. In this one, it would be a logical conclusion to think Aaron Rodgers would be spending time looking up at the lights of University of Phoenix Stadium. But he will get sacked less in this game mainly because of the adjustments of Mike McCarthy. Look for the Cardinals to get to him, but only get to him roughly three times.
  2. The Packers also struggled defensively last time when they played the Cardinals. Their cornerbacks were exposed versus the wide array of weapons the Cardinals have on offense. Look for them to equip themselves better, but veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will still have himself a game. Look for Fitzgerald to have at least 6 receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown.
  3. The running game for both teams will be paramount. For the Cardinals, they have rookie David Johnson leading the charge. For the Packers, they have a tandem of Eddie Lacy and James Starks with wide receiver Randall Cobb sprinkled in there some. Needless to say, the running could be rough for both teams. Look for both team to not get over 100 yards rushing in this one.
  4. The Packers looked like they found their rhythm last week versus the Washington Redskins. But of course, the Cardinals are a different breed of defense than they faced last week. Look for a closer game, but the Packers will still taste defeat. Cardinals win 27-17.

Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers

  1. The Seahawks offense was dormant for almost all the game last week versus the Vikings last week. The biggest thing that held them dormant was the lack of a consistent running game. With Marshawn Lynch apparently ready to go in this one, the threat of the running game increases and will help loosen things up for Russell Wilson. Look for him to throw for at least 250 yards and two touchdowns in this game. But don’t get too confident Russell and test Josh Norman. That would not end well.
  2. The Panthers have been relaxing, waiting to see who they were going to play. In playing the Seahawks, they face a team that is as physical as they are. And in that, the running game will be slowed down. Look for Cam Newton to supplement the running game with his running in this one, making plays out of no plays when Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett are bearing down on him. He will get at least 4 first downs with his feet in this one and run for at least 70 yards.
  3. Both defenses are aggressive, fast and physical. And both of them like to get to the quarterback. But sacking both of these quarterbacks is no easy task. Expect Russell and Cam to both be sacked only two times apiece. But of course the pressure will be on them both all game long.
  4. This one will be a physical ballgame with big plays made on both sides of the ball. But in the end, the Panthers will make more and behind the strength of Super Cam, the Panthers will march on to the Conference Championship Game, 23-17.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos

  1. The Steelers offense is the walking wounded coming into this one. Running back DeAngelo Williams will be sitting out a second game in the playoffs due to a foot injury. Wide receiver Antonio Brown is out, still recovering from a concussion suffered in last week’s win versus the Bengals. And quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is scheduled to play despite a couple injuries to his shoulder. But even in that, the Steelers still have weapons. Look for wide receiver Martavis Bryant to step up and be the man in this one. He will have at least one touchdown and have 100 yards receiving. He has accepted the challenge that Big Ben laid down for him to start the postseason. The Denver defense is tough, but Bryant can be a special player.
  2. The Broncos have decided to go with Peyton Manning at quarterback after the comeback he engineered in the season finale versus the San Diego Chargers in a relief role. It seems that people have hope that Peyton will lead this team to the win this week. But in this game, the running back tandem of Ronnie Hillman and CJ Anderson will be the barometer. Look for both to try and run the ball in this one, but not combine for over 100 yards rushing.
  3. The big matchup in this game for the Pittsburgh defense will be their secondary versus Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. But that matchup will not be decided by the wide receivers and secondary. The offensive line of the Broncos versus the Pittsburgh front seven will be the matchup to determine how the passing game attacks the Steelers. Look for the Steelers front seven to put some stress on the Denver offensive line. The Steelers will get at least three sacks in this one and cause some problems for Manning and his receiving threats.
  4. The Broncos are at home, but the Steelers are tough and battle-challenged. Roethlisberger is injured, but he seems to play better when he is injured, like Rocky used to fight better in his movies when he was getting pummeled. This one will come down to the wire, but the Broncos will succumb to the Steelers 20-17 in clutch fashion.

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The General’s NFL Proclamations-Week 17

(photo courtesy of Bleacher Report)

(photo courtesy of Bleacher Report)

The last week of the NFL season has finally arrived. There are some teams that are glad that it is finally here. At last some can put an end to a season that was a lot less successful than they thought it would be. There are some teams that are trying to get it together for the postseason. Whether some are still trying to get themselves into the postseason or others trying to better their position, the urgency has arrived as the seasons have changed. It should be interesting to see how the end of the year effects the play on the field. Will some coast into the playoffs or will they button down the hatches and bring it for the last week? We shall indeed see on Sunday but for now, here are the General’s NFL proclamations for Week 17.

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills

  1. The Jets are trying to ensure being in the playoffs, so expect them to play hard in this game. And with that being said, look for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and wide receiver Brandon Marshall to connect at least two times for touchdowns.
  2. The Bills have found their quarterback in Tyrod Taylor. And he will cement that he is their quarterback by throwing for a least one touchdown and 200 yards and running for one touchdown as well.
  3. The winner of this game will not score more than 24 points. Although the Jets may be capable of scoring over 24 points, the game will have some sloppy moments and that will slow down the pace of the game.

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins

  1. The Patriots are playing for the first seed in the playoffs, but they will still be resting some guys here. With that being said, expect them to eventually take Tom Brady out of this game.
  2. The Dolphins have not met expectations them and their fans had this season. And one guy that did not play as well as they expected is big free-agent signing Ndamukong Suh. Look for him to do his usual thing, and that means taking plays off and just being a bystander in this one. He will do more watching than making plays in this game.
  3. The Patriots, although they will take players out of this game, will still put up points against the hapless Dolphins. But they will not do it in the way that most expect. Look for them to use the ground game to the tune of running for 200 yards on the Dolphins this weekend.

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons

  1. The rivalry is still there although both will be out of the playoffs this year. Expect at least three or four scuffles in this game. There is no love lost between these teams.
  2. The matchup between Matt Ryan (Falcons) and Drew Brees (Saints) are always good. And in this one, Brees comes in a little banged up. That nagging foot injury will harm him in this one as he throws at least two interceptions and looks less like the Drew Brees we know.
  3. The Falcons will finish the season with an offensive flurry. That flurry will definitely include wide receiver Julio Jones. Look for him to have at least 120 yards receiving and two touchdowns to cap off his spectacular season.

Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears

  1. The Bears are trying to finish the season strong after the bad start to the season. And if they are to finish this season off right, they must get good play from quarterback Jay Cutler. Look for him to get at least 250 yards passing and at least two passing touchdowns.
  2. The Lions will also be trying to finish the season off strong. And in doing so, they will follow their leader, quarterback Matthew Stafford. The veteran quarterback will be looking to cap off a solid finish and he will have at least 300 yards passing and one touchdown.
  3. Both teams will commit at least two turnovers. Both teams have been bad for a reason and that will show in this game.

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants

  1. The Eagles have not scored at the clip they wanted to this season. And in this game with rumors abound that Tom Coughlin will be retiring as head coach of the Giants, the scoring will be even tougher. The Eagles will not score over 17 points in this game.
  2. The Giants want to send out Tom Coughlin with a solid performance if this is his last time on the Giants’ sideline. With that being said, look for Odell Beckham Jr to make up for missed time and score not one but two touchdowns in this game.
  3. The Giants will score over 30 points in this game. They are due for a big game and the Eagles are ripe for the picking in this one.

Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys

  1. The Redskins have won the division and are going to the playoffs. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to take it to the Cowboys. Look for quarterback Kirk Cousins to have at least two touchdown passes and throw for at least 250 yards.
  2. But not only will Cousins get it going, but so will wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Look for him to have at least three receptions for a total of at least 100 yards receiving and one touchdown.
  3. The Cowboys offense has been struggling. And most of that has to do with uneven quarterback play. Look for this game to continue the bad play offensively as the Cowboys will not score more than 16 points in this game.

Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts

  1. The Indianapolis Colts will be starting Josh Freeman at quarterback. No that is not an early April Fool’s Day joke. The fact that he will be starting says something about the ability of the Colts’ offensive line to protect their quarterback. And in this one, Freeman will see what Matt Hasselbeck, Andrew Luck and Charlie Whitehurst saw. He will be sacked at least four times and will be lucky to escape this game unscathed.
  2. The Titans are not going to be the only one getting after the quarterback though. They have not exactly protected the quarterback well either. And with Mariota out, Zach Mettenberger will be sacked at least four times.
  3. Seeing that both quarterbacks will be under duress the entire game, look for this game to have no flow at all. And that means that there will be little scoring in this one. The first team to 20 will win this game.

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals

  1. The Ravens jumped up and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers last weekend at home. That win may have made the Ravens look good, but it also caught the attention of the Bengals. Look for Cincinnati to come out focused and that means they will be putting up at least 35 points in this game.
  2. In those 35+ points, look for the Bengals to raid through the air. That means AJ Green will be having a good time toasting the Ravens’ secondary. Look for him to get at least 140 yards receiving with two touchdown catches.
  3. The Ravens will have at least one highlight in this one and that will be Kamar Aiken. The young Ravens receiver needs 132 yards to get his first 1,000 yard season receiving. Look for him to get that in this game, as the Ravens will be playing from behind all game long and having to pass the football.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns

  1. The Steelers’ offense looked asleep at the wheel last weekend and they lost the game they needed badly. Although it may be too little too late, the Steelers offense will come out and follow the lead of their leader, Ben Roethlisberger. The veteran quarterback will throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns.
  2. The Browns will be starting backup Austin Davis in this game versus the Steelers. And for a defense needing a break, they just got one. Davis will throw at least two interceptions in this game versus a defense that has struggled this season.
  3. The Steelers will put up at least 30 points in this one. Even though it may not even matter in terms of their playoff hopes, this game will help get the bad taste out of the Steelers’ mouths after last week’s game.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans

  1. The Texans have come back from the dead to push towards the playoffs. To cement it, they need a good win versus the Jaguars. And that all comes down to the defense and how they play. Look for the Texans, behind JJ Watt, to get at least two sacks and one interception in this game.
  2. The Jaguars have been explosive in the passing game. And knowing the situation that awaits them, expect them to try and play the role of spoiler in this one. Look for Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson to connect on two huge plays of more than 30+ yards.
  3. The Texans will have multiple running backs touch the football in this one. Look for them to have at least two of those running backs score touchdowns in this game.

Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs

  1. The Raiders have been dangerous offensively this year. But in this one, the only danger will be Carr throwing interceptions in the direction of defensive back Marcus Peters. The opportunistic defensive back will get at least two interceptions in this game, as he continues his ball-hawking ways.
  2. The Chiefs have been impressive offensively over the last couple of months. And in this one, look for them to take advantage of the Raiders secondary (minus Charles Woodson of course). Jeremy Maclin will have at least 100 yards receiving and one touchdown. He has been everything they have needed in Kansas City this season.
  3. The Chiefs will score at least 30+ points in this game. The Raiders have gotten better, but this game they are running into a Chiefs team that is looking to finish strong.

San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos

  1. The Broncos clinched their playoff berth last week, but they still have work to do. Winning this game could help them, so expect them to come out with energy on both sides of the ball. And being that the Chargers have had protection issues all season, look for the Denver defense to tee off on the Chargers offense. With that being said, the Chargers will probably be giving up at least 4 sacks in this game to Denver.
  2. Denver offensively got on track last game. This time, they started slow and ended fast. That trend will more than likely continue this week, as Brock Osweiler will finish with two second-half touchdown passes in this one versus the Chargers.
  3. The Broncos will not only terrorize Phillip Rivers by sacking him, but they will make him pay for errant throws. Look for the Broncos to take one of Rivers’ mistakes back to the house for a touchdown.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers

  1. The Carolina Panthers took their first loss last weekend and many came down on them. Well, this week will show that it only thickened their resolve. The Carolina Panthers will come out and score at least 28 points this week as they recover offensively from one of their worst games of the season.
  2. The Bucs have been up and down all year long. But in this one, the stock will be pointing down. The Panthers will be fired up defensively and that will lead to the Bucs committing at least three turnovers in this game.
  3. The Bucs will not score over 10 points in this game. It may be the end of the year for the Panthers, but they will be fired up.

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals

  1. The Seahawks and Cardinals will both be in the playoffs. Expect some players to make early exits because both are already in the playoffs.
  2. The Cardinals will not score more than 24 points in this game. The Seahawks will be as aggressive as they always are, but they will start shutting it down and that will change the outlook of this game.
  3. The Seahawks need to see what they have in their running game. And after this one, they will be glad to have Marshawn Lynch coming back next weekend. Christine Michael will not do much in this game. He will have only around 30 yards rushing and will not score a touchdown.

St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers

  1. The Rams had a big win versus the Seahawks in Seattle last weekend. And in this one, they will try to finish the season strong. Look for them to come out and put it to the 49ers to start the game. The Rams will score at least 20 points in the first half in Santa Clara.
  2. The 49ers will be trying to finish the season strong as well. And the main guy that will be trying to leave a lasting impression is quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Look for him to come out and throw for 200+ yards and one touchdown along with one interception.
  3. The Rams and 49ers will have at least one scrum in this one. Both teams are physical and that can end up spilling over beyond the whistle too.

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers

  1. The Packers and Vikings will be playing for the NFC North title. With that being said, look for Aaron Rodgers to get it going to the tune of 300 yards passing and 3 touchdown passes.
  2. The Vikings have been playing well, but there is always the legend of Lambeau that happens to get teams. And in this one, the Vikings will come out offensively and not play to their standards. Look for the offense to score under 17 points.
  3. The Vikings and Packers will both give up at least three sacks in this game. Both defensive front sevens will have a good time trying to make things happen in this one.

The season ends on all these division games. The intensity will be high in a lot of them, but in some there will be no energy at all. The end of the season is finally here and the postseason is now coming up quickly.

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Cam Newton Is Going To Make MVP History Whether Folks Like It Or Not

(photo courtesy of Mark Zaleski/Associated Press)

(photo courtesy of Mark Zaleski/Associated Press)

The MVP race has had his ebbs and flows this year. At first people were speaking of Tom Brady of the Patriots winning it. Then there was Carson Palmer of the Arizona Cardinals mentioned. And after that Cam Newton of the Panthers has taken it over. The Panthers were undefeated leading up to their game against the Falcons in Atlanta this week. Plenty looked at it as a continuation of the 38-0 woodshed beating the Panthers put on Atlanta in Charlotte. But this one had quite the different story. The Falcons came out and played with heart and pride as they beat the Panthers 20-13. The Falcons defense was after Cam Newton all day, as he had one of his worst games all season. And immediately, many began to question whether he was the MVP. But that was not all that was said. Many began to speak on the narrative that has long been said about Cam Newton. That he was an arrogant guy and that he was a guy that did not take losing well. And some even said that this loss brought Carson Palmer back into the MVP race. For those that think this MVP race is even close, I got a few words for you: Open your eyes.

Before the season, the thought was the Panthers would not be very good. They had lost their star wide receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, to a torn ACL. And they had a ragtag group of receivers left that many felt were horrible. The defense was still there, but the offense was very questionable. But Cam not only made this offense viable, he made it one of the best in the NFL. The Panthers are ranked second in the NFL in scoring (30.8 points per game) and are the second leading rushing team in the NFL. And although their passing game is not ranked very high (23rd in the NFL), they are very explosive. For example, Ted Ginn Jr had not had double-digit touchdowns in a year in his career. This season, Cam has helped him have the best season of his career, getting 10 touchdowns up to this point. And as far as the offensive line, that was an issue that was mentioned before the season. Many thought that they would be terrible and would not be able to protect Cam. They have had their issues, but Cam has helped them some with his mobility. And they even produced two Pro Bowlers out of the bunch (center Ryan Khalil and guard Trai Turner).

When you take a look at what Cam compared to Carson Palmer, there are a few things that people can say make him the MVP. The offense of the Cardinals is the only one better than the Panthers in the NFL. Also, Palmer has a better percentage rating and has thrown for more yardage. But what no one talks about is Palmer has one of the best lines in the NFL and he also has skill position players that Carolina can only dream of. Besides tight end Greg Olsen, the Cardinals have far and away better offensive weapons than Cam does. So essentially Cam does more with less than anyone in the NFL right now. And overall, Cam has accounted for more total touchdowns (41) than Carson has (35). But the main numbers that sway the MVP is the wins. And for those that will try to say this game caused Carson to get back in the race, they may want to remember that Carson’s has had some dud game and that he has not thrown for five touchdowns in a game once all season.

The underlying narrative that is being formed is people are out there that do not want Cam Newton to win the MVP. There have been plenty that have not liked him since he stepped foot in the league or even since he was at Auburn. People have been going out of their way to point out reasons why he would not succeed in the NFL. They said he was too dumb to be an NFL quarterback when he first got here (the usual Black quarterback narrative that is put out there). And then they went on to point out the way he wraps his head in a towel on the sideline and how he seemingly is not in a good mood when they are losing (I wonder where those same people are when Tom Brady is going off on the sidelines and even yelling at a coach). They also try to say he is a poor sport because he has fun while he plays and dances in the endzone. (No one ever said quarterback dancing in the endzone was wrong). Whether folks like it or not, the MVP trophy is coming to Charlotte, making Cam the first African-American quarterback to win the MVP award outright. History is about to be made and Cam will be the face of it.

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Replacing Tyrann Mathieu In Arizona

(photo courtesy of Getty Images)

(photo courtesy of Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals were flying high, leading by 23 points in the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles in Philly. Everything seemed to be going their way, and then one play happened that could possibly change the outcome of their season. Defensive back Tyrann Mathieu picked off a Sam Bradford pass for the Cardinals. He was on his way to return the interception when his right knee gave out on him, sending him crumbling to the ground. The Cardinals were hoping for good news and that it was just a sprain or something or that sort. But the bad news was confirmed this week when it was announced that Mathieu was diagnosed with a torn ACL in his right knee. As a result, Mathieu is out for the rest of the season and will have to work very hard to even have a chance to play to start next season. There were some questions as to why he was even in the game to begin with. The Cardinals had the game in hand and were cruising to a victory. But that is neither here nor there at this point. Mathieu is not coming back this season and there is nothing the Cardinals can do about it.

The Cardinals take a huge hit with the Honey Badger gone. Mathieu was originally drafted as a cornerback. But he was such a playmaker, the Cardinals had to get him into their starting lineup. So instead of starting at cornerback, Mathieu started at safety. And although he is undersized for that position (generously standing at 5’9”), he was everywhere on the field. The thing that made him so excellent for the Cardinals was his versatility. He started off at the safety position in games. And he would patrol the open field along with sneaking down for blitzes and under coverage. But he could also play the slot corner position, a place very few safeties can play. And when he was there, he batted down passes, intercepted passes and was a general disruptor of plays. Many look at Patrick Peterson as the best defensive back on the team. And with his resume, Peterson just might be the best defensive back they have. But in Mathieu, he is definitely their best playmaker out there. He is one of three players currently in the NFL that have 80 tackles and five interceptions. His impact was immeasurable and he will surely be missed.

The loss is something that will hurt the Cardinals, but it is not the end of the world. After all, the Cardinals adjusted on the fly this year and put safety Deone Buchanan at linebacker to start the year. And that adjustment has been very successful for them. So moving forward, the Cardinals will have to hope veteran Rashad Johnson is able to get healthy and play. He currently is suffering from an ankle injury and that has him questionable for this week. Another guy that has to step up at the safety position is Tony Jefferson. The third-year safety from Oklahoma is going to get his chances to make some plays happen. Not saying he is the Honey Badger, but he just needs to be solid and make some things happen. If he makes the plays when they are available and is sure in his techniques, the Cardinals should be fine at the safety spot. But as far as the slot corner, that one will be something the Cardinals will have to tinker with. They have Patrick Peterson, but he usually sticks with the top wide receiver threat from each team. So that leaves cornerback Jerraud Powers and Justin Bethel. Powers has been targeted a bunch by opposing teams and that has been an issue for the Cardinals during points of the season. With Mathieu gone, the Cardinals may just take him inside to play situationally. The only other option is taking cornerback Justin Bethel and putting him in the slot. The Cardinals seemingly don’t feel comfortable with him there, so it will more than likely be Cromartie and Powers manning the slot. Either way, they have to make a decision on how they want to approach that spot.

The playoffs are approaching and there will be some times where defensive back play will be crucial. With Mathieu gone, the Cardinals now have two weeks to devise a plan to replace him. It may take some ingenuity, but the Cardinals are surely capable. But it will take all of their defensive backs to make this happen. And for their sake, they better hope one of them can make some plays. The things Mathieu does cannot be duplicated by anyone the Cardinals have. And he definitely was the guy that was responsible for a lot of big plays.

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The General’s Christmas Gifts To NFL Teams

(photo courtesy of Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(photo courtesy of Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

It’s Christmas time and kids around the world are unwrapping gifts from under their Christmas tree. Some got gifts they were hoping for while others got unexpected surprises. All in all, the gift of giving was in full swing. In that spirit, every NFL team is in need of something. So why not gift them a few things that they need? Here is the list of gifts the General would give to NFL teams going into the end of the regular season.

Arizona Cardinals-A healthy Tyrann Matheiu

The Cardinals are a dangerous team heading into the playoffs. They have multiple weapons on offense and their defense can put pressure on you from all angles. Unequivocally, their best playmaker was defensive back Tyrann Matheiu. But unfortunately, the third-year defensive back tore his ACL in the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cardinals are a still a threat to win the NFC, but that threat is less without Matheiu. If only they could be gifted a healthy playmaker like him at this time.

Atlanta Falcons- Better decision-making for Matt Ryan

Matt Ryan has always been said to be one of the great young quarterbacks in the NFL. But this year, he has definitely struggled. He is near the top in interceptions thrown in the NFL and he has just been off ever since the hot start by Atlanta. If he had some better decision-making, then maybe the Falcons win some of those games instead of taking a loss.

Baltimore Ravens- Health

The Ravens have struggled this season. They have also been hit with key injury after key injury. They have lost their top pass-rusher, wide receiver, quarterback and running back this season. Not many teams can overcome that one. Maybe they would have been better with some of their key pieces healthy. But all of that is pure speculation at this point.

Buffalo Bills- Some consistency

The Buffalo Bills are definitely a talented team. But their issue is they show up inconsistently. If they were a solid team, they would have been in the playoffs at this point. But instead, they are on the outside looking in. The key word is consistency with them and they have yet to find it all season long.

Carolina Panthers- A healthy Kelvin Benjamin

The Carolina Panthers have had a storybook season so far. They have won scoring a ton of points and won scoring very little. It just seems like they have the “it” factor. Cam Newton has stepped up as a passer and that is huge for Carolina. But he would probably much rather be throwing the football to Kelvin Benjamin than Ted Ginn Jr. The speedy veteran is having a career year, but he still has questionable hands and Benjamin was the closest thing they had to a sure thing at that position. Hopefully that does not catch up to them in the playoffs.

Chicago Bears- More defensive playmakers

Looking at the Bears, they are not badly set up offensively. Jay Cutler has not played bad this year for the Bears and Alshon Jeffrey has been solid this season. But on the defensive side of the ball, there are not many playmakers there. Besides Darnell McPhee, not many playmakers you can speak of there. Hopefully for them, they are able to bring in some defensive playmakers this offseason. They need them sorely.

Cincinnati Bengals-A postseason win for Marvin Lewis

The Bengals have been great in the regular season for a while now. That used to be something that could never be uttered ever. But now, the Bengals are a perennial participant in the playoffs. Making the playoffs is not enough anymore for the Bengals, as they have lost every playoff game they have had since Lewis has taken over there. For him, it is imperative that they get a win in the playoffs soon. If he doesn’t, he could potentially get the ax.

Cleveland Browns- A moment of clarity

The Browns have not been relevant ever since they reappeared in the NFL in 1999. And the most recent edition is a group that is much in disarray. It seems the front office and the coaching staff cannot ever get on the same page. So for them, a moment of clarity is needed. Maybe with that moment can come some people that actually can be on the same page and build that organization. If that moment never comes, they will continue to be known as “The Mistake By The Lake”.

Dallas Cowboys- A healthy Tony Romo

The Cowboys seemed like they never could get it going this season offensively. They had star wide receiver Dez Bryant get injured early and quarterback Tony Romo was injured early also. He meant a lot to that team because they have only won one game since he has been injured. The Cowboys are now on their fourth quarterback and they would do anything to have their star QB back. Alas, the Cowboys will go from division champs to potentially the cellar dwellers in their division in one year.

Denver Broncos- Consistency offensively

The Denver Broncos were one of the most potent offenses in the NFL last season. They could get it done whether it be Peyton Manning throwing touchdown passes or their running attack chewing up yardage. But John Fox and his coaching staff were let go after the season in favor of former Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak. Ever since he has been there, he has changed the offense and not for the better unfortunately. The offense has not been consistently firing on all cylinders all year and if it were not for their defense, the Broncos would be in trouble. And no matter if it were Peyton Manning or Brock Osweiler, there is just that learning curve that it takes to get comfortable in a new offense. Maybe Denver will get consistent one of these days offensively.

Detroit Lions- Some sense of direction

The Detroit Lions had a tumultuous start to the season. They lost six straight games and then there was a shakeup in their coaching staff and their front office. In all that, the Lions have played better since the changes have happened. But honestly, this franchise has no direction at this present time. Maybe with the next hires in their front office and coaching staff they will find some direction and be able to move forward.

Green Bay Packers- A consistent offensive line

The Green Bay Packers have had their issues offensively this year. Some would pin those issues on the loss of wide receiver Jordy Nelson. But their issues are much deeper than the loss of a veteran wide receiver. The offensive line has not been what it usually is. You can consistently see quarterback Aaron Rodgers running around trying to make plays while avoiding defensive players coming for him. A quarterback like Rodgers deserves to have someone consistently block for him. And if the line could block more consistently and the running game show up every week, the Packers may be a more consistent team.

Houston Texans- A consistent defensive playmaker opposite of JJ Watt

The Houston Texans are sitting in first place and much of the credit (at least defensively) should go to JJ Watt. He has fought through all kinds of things to still have an impact on the game. But the thing that is amazing is he has had no consistent threat opposite him most of his career. If they could only find someone to consistently be a threat along the defensive line with Watt, the defense would be even better than they are right now.

Indianapolis Colts- Offensive line help

The Colts have paid many people along their offense. They brought in veteran wide receiver Andre Johnson and running back Frank Gore. They even gave an extension to wide receiver TY Hilton. But they have never really addressed their offensive line. And because of that, they now sit with two banged up quarterbacks and an offense that has been very inconsistent. Maybe they should look at the guys up front when it comes to spending money next offseason.

Jacksonville Jaguars- A defensive pass rush

The Jacksonville Jaguars have made some strides this season. Their young players have stepped up. Allen Robinson has become the receiver they thought he would. Allen Hurns has been excellent in his first two years. And quarterback Blake Bortles has taken a giant step forward. Defensively, they have the pieces, but they are missing one crucial element. The Jaguars need a consistent pass rusher that strikes fear in the opponent. Maybe this offseason, they will be blessed with one.

Kansas City Chiefs- Another wide receiver

The Kansas City Chiefs were known as a team that ignored their wide receivers when it came to the endzone in 2014. Last year they did not have one touchdown to their wide receiver. Coming into this season, they acquired wide receiver Jeremy Maclin from the Eagles to bolster that wide receiver corp. Maclin has done well for Kansas City. But for the Chiefs to get better, they need another wide receiver to expand their offense. If they are able to find that playmaker opposite Maclin, then watch out for what Andy Reid can do with them.

Miami Dolphins- A redo on the Ndamukong Suh contract

Let’s be honest. Ndamukong Suh has not had the impact that he was thought to have when he signed that megadeal in Miami. He has been seen loafing on plays and there have been reports that he has “gone rogue” a few times on the field. I don’t know what the Dolphins thought was going to happen when they signed him, but they have been utterly disappointed and are wishing they had a warranty on Suh so they could trade him in.

Minnesota Vikings-Another playmaking wide receiver

The Vikings have started to make strides towards getting it back on track there. They got Adrian Peterson back and he returned to form. But unfortunately for them, their wide receivers have not panned out like they thought. The trade for Mike Wallace was not as profitable as they thought and rookie Stephon Diggs has turned out to be their best playmaker. The team obviously needs another guy there to help Teddy Bridgewater and that passing game. If they get that added weapon, then the Vikings could be even better offensively.

New England Patriots-Health

The Patriots are always a perennial title contender. But this year, the team has had some health issues. Julian Edelman is currently out injured (although he is practicing now) and running back LaGarrette Blount is out for the year with a hip injury, joining third-down back Dion Lewis (torn ACL) on injured reserve. If the Pats were fully healthy, the team would probably still be undefeated and even more dangerous. But now they are not as dangerous offensively and they need some players to step up.

New Orleans Saints- A redo on Brandon Browner’s contract

The New Orleans Saints have not exactly been where they thought they would have been this season. The team has struggled and they will not be making the playoffs again. One piece that was supposed to make them better was cornerback Brandon Browner. He was brought in from New England to bolster their secondary, but he has nothing but create drama. The veteran corner set a record for most penalties in a season this year and has been a disruption for the team. If only the Saints could have seen the future before they signed him.

New York Giants- Holding on to leads

The New York Giants appear to be heading to another season sitting at home instead of being in the playoffs. They had a bunch of chances to make the situation better for themselves, but they just could not close the deal. If the Giants just could have held on to the leads they had in fourth quarters this season, they would be talking playoffs right now. But instead, they invented ways to lose in football’s most important quarter.

New York Jets- A redo of the Eagles game

The Jets are in the playoff race this year and could make the playoffs. And when you’re in that situation, there is always the thought of what games got away from you. The one that got away from the Jets was the game versus the Eagles earlier this season. They just seemed to be not in the game and when they tried to make a comeback, it was too late and the Eagles had the game at hand. If they had won that game, they would not be in the predicament they are in right now, scratching and clawing for a playoff spot.

Oakland Raiders- Defensive backs

The Oakland Raiders are trying to get it right. The progress is there. Khalil Mack is a wrecking ball defensively and the offense has definitely got the right pieces, led by quarterback Derek Carr. But as far as defensive backs, the Raiders need help there. Safety Charles Woodson was the lynchpin back there and took care of a lot of mistakes that were made. But he is retiring after this season and they will need someone to replace him. Along with that, the pieces they have there are not ones that prove to be a solid secondary. The Raiders may be shopping for cornerbacks this offseason.

Philadelphia Eagles-redo on the contracts of DeMarco Murray and Byron Maxwell

The Philadelphia Eagles have plenty of issues going on that have affected their season. Two of them happen to be players they brought in to make them better. Byron Maxwell was paid handsomely to be their shutdown corner. He has proven not to be that shutdown corner. And although he has had some good moments, he has had others that make you wonder whether it was him or the Seattle defensive scheme. Offensively, Murray never fit the offense that Chip Kelly ran and it showed. He is more of a North/South runner in a scheme that does not cater to that at all. If they could have saw the future, they surely would have avoided these two in free agency.

Pittsburgh Steelers- Late-game adjustments and decisions

The Steelers have a high-octane offense and they have a defense that is growing with each week. But unfortunately, some of the adjustments and calls down the stretch from the coaching staff leave things to be desired. For example, the Steelers had the game won versus the Denver Broncos when offensive coordinator Todd Haley inexplicably called a pass play that was intercepted by the Broncos’ Brandon Marshall. Denver ultimately lost the game and could not capitalize on the gift, but these sort of gaffes and inexplicable coaching decision have happened a lot this year. If the Steelers could clean these decision up and continue to grow as a team, they would give some team fits come playoff times.

San Diego Chargers-A resolution to the stadium issues

It seems like the Chargers and the city of San Diego have been fighting over a new stadium for decades at this point. News is out that the team may be moving to Los Angeles with them getting the new stadium that they craved so much. The move still has to be voted on by the owners in Houston in January, but it seems like the stadium questions may finally be coming to an end for the Chargers and the city.

San Francisco 49ers- An end to the nightmare

The San Francisco 49ers season has been painful. They lost a few players to retirement and others to free agency. And all the while, the team did not really replace those players who left. And this season has some remembering the days when Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary were coaching the team. It is an endless nightmare that seems to have no end in sight currently. For the sake of the 49ers and their fans, they are hoping it ends soon.

Seattle Seahawks- a rebirth of the Legion Of Boom

The Seahawks are soaring right now and their offense is the one leading the way. Russell Wilson is playing at a level he has never played at before. However, the secondary needs to get it together like they have in years past. There have been some breakdowns that normally did not happen in past years. If they can get that together for the playoffs, then all is well. But that has to be alarming though. And it has to be fixed when crunch time comes around.

St. Louis Rams- Consistent quarterback play

The Rams thought they solved their quarterback issues when they traded for Nick Foles from the Eagles. But unfortunately, he has not been what they thought he would be and has been benched in favor of Case Keenum. But let’s not be fooled here, Keenum is not the answer either. If this team had a solid quarterback to depend on, then they would be ready to take the next step. Until then, they will continue to be pretenders.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Consistent pass rush

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made some improvements this season. The offense has become more solid and the running game has gotten better. Defensively, they have had games where they have looked solid and others where they have been missing in action. One thing that would make them more solid is a consistent pass rush. If they are able to add that and maybe more cornerback help, then the progression of this team can continue.

Tennessee Titans- Offensive line help

The Titans drafted quarterback Marcus Mariota with their first round pick this season and he made some headway as a starter. But he also was taking a lot of hits this season behind a makeshift offensive line. In order to protect their investment, the Titans need to invest in the offensive line and that starts in the offseason and in the draft. Once they do that, then maybe the offense will get better.

Washington Redskins- Defensive pressure

The Redskins have been surprisingly good this season. Many did not expect this, including me. But they are in control of their own destiny. If they continue to win, then they will be in the playoffs. But one thing they have overcome this season is consistent pressure up front. If they had that this season, they would be better. But going forward, that would be an investment worth making for them.

Merry Christmas to all and hopefully your NFL teams accept the gifts that await them. They sure could use them.

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The General’s NFL Proclamations-Week 16

(photo courtesy of Bleacher Report)

(photo courtesy of Bleacher Report)

Week 16 is upon us and many teams have called it a season at this point. There are some that will be sitting players, trying to position themselves for draft position. And while some teams will still play their regulars, we all know they are trying to get that best draft position available. On the flip side, there are some other teams that are trying to clinch a playoff spot this weekend. And while some may lose, there will be some that land in the playoffs because of what another team does. The difference between who wins or loses could be one play of ever one player. Without further ado, here are the General Proclamations for Week 16 in the NFL.

San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders

  1. The Oakland Raiders took a loss last week, but they stuck around with the Green Bay Packers. Thanks to quarterback Derek Carr, they will be in this game from the jump as well. Expect Carr to have at least 300 yards passing and at least two touchdowns.
  2. The Chargers got an emotional win last week in what some expect to be their last game in San Diego. Look for them to have an emotional letdown this week, as they score 17 points or under versus the Raiders defense.
  3. There will be a fight in the stands between Raiders fans and Chargers fans. Both are repping California and if these fans get rowdy like Raiders fans do when they see 49ers fans, then this may not be a pleasant experience for those that are not involved.

Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles

  1. The Redskins have been getting consistent offensive play as of late from quarterback Kirk Cousins. Well, look for him to take a make some shots in this one as well. Expect him to have at least 250 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
  2. The Eagles have been inconstant all season. And in this game, they have a chance to strike back against the Redskins. Unfortunately for them, they will be mentally exhausted coming into this one and it will cost them.
  3. The Redskins will have at least three sacks in this one. It seems like they have not had any consistent pressure on the opposing quarterbacks. That must change for Washington as I have an idea.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens

  1. The Steelers showed the Broncos Lethal Weapon 3 with their wide receiver corps. In this one, the Ravens better put on their track shoes. Big Ben will throw for over 315 yards two touchdowns.
  2. The Ravens are depleted offensively and that is not good going up against the Steelers. Look for the Ravens’ offense to have at least two turnovers against Pittsburgh.
  3. The Ravens will score less than 14 points in this game. There is simply nothing there that scares the Pittsburgh defense.

Dallas Cowboys at Buffalo Bills

  1. The Bills and Cowboys are essentially done when it comes to the playoffs. So all bets are off as to what will happen. But one thing we can look forward to seeing is Dallas quarterback Kellen Moore throwing at least two interceptions.
  2. The Bills offense has been in good hands this season under quarterback Tyrod Taylor. In this one, look for him to throw for over 200 yards and run for a little under 100 yards.
  3. The Bills and Cowboys will combine to score around 40 points.

Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  1. The Bucs were looking solid until last week’s game versus the Rams. In this one, look for them to get back to having some success and that will start with the running game. Doug Martin will run for 150 yards and one touchdown in this game.
  2. The Bears have had success this season when throwing the football in the direction of wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey. In this one, look for the Bears to throw his way early and often to the tune of 7 receptions for at least 115 yards and one touchdown.
  3. The winner of this game will win by at least 15 points. Both of these teams have not shown consistency when coming from behind.

San Francisco 49ers at Detroit Lions

  1. The Lions have been playing a lot harder since they made their changes organizationally and coaching-wise. And in this one, look for their defense to have a good game to the tune of at least one interception and holding the 49ers to under 250 yards of offense.
  2. Linebacker NaVarro Bowman has been very good for the 49ers this year. Expect that to continue in this one, as he will have double-digit tackles in this one, including a tackle for loss.
  3. The Lions will be out to at least a 14 point lead at the end of the first half. The Niners have shown a propensity for getting down big at halftime recently and there is no indication that trend will be changing anytime soon.

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons

  1. Roddy White had something to say about Panthers cornerback Josh Norman this week. The veteran wide receiver spoke on Norman and it was not glowingly at all. Well, Norman paid attention and responded, but let’s not look for White to respond on the field. Roddy will not have three receptions and he will not have over 30 yards at all.
  2. The Panthers have been making it happen all year long in different fashions. But in this one, look for the Panthers’ defense to come out strong in this one. They will not allow the Falcons to score over 14 points.
  3. The Panthers have got a career year out of wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. In this one, look for him to have another two touchdown catches and go for over 100 yards receiving again. He and Cam Newton have been special through the air this year.

Indianapolis Colts at Miami Dolphins

  1. The Colts’ season is on the brink, as they have fallen out of first place in their division and there is no guarantee they will recapture it from the Texans. In this one, expect them to play desperate, especially offensively. Look for them to put up at least 25 points on offense this week.
  2. The Dolphins looked sad last week versus the Chargers. One of their major things that has hurt them is not giving the football to running back Lamar Miler. In this game, look for him to get at least 20 carries to get a good lather going.
  3. The Dolphins have been horrible in stopping the run this season. Look for that to continue as veteran running back Frank Gore goes for at least 100 yards rushing against the Miami defense.

New England Patriots at New York Jets

  1. The Patriots have been making it happen despite losing pieces week after week. Look for Brady to make it happen again this week with the running game. Brandon Bolden will get at least 100 yards rushing against the Jets.
  2. The Jets have been efficient offensively this season and that comes directly from the quarterback play of Ryan Fitzpatrick. In this one, look for him to have a good game to the tune of 250 yards passing and 2 touchdown passes.
  3. Expect this game to go down to the wire between these two, as the Jets have gotten better since their last meeting.

Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans

  1. Marcus Mariota will not be playing in this game. With him out, Zach Mettenberger will get the start. And like usual, he will be a statue back there for the Texans to topple. Expect them to get at least five sacks of Mettenberger in this game.
  2. The Titans may have had issues offensively this year, but they have not been bad defensively. Look for them to get at least four sacks of their own against Houston and quarterback Brandon Weeden.
  3. This game has the potential to be ugly. And by ugly, I mean a low-scoring bore of a game. Get other activities ready during this one. It could be more boring than watching grass grow.

Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs

  1. The Browns have been letting Johnny Manziel start at quarterback. The premise is they have to see what they have. And against the Chiefs, they will see what they don’t have. Manziel will throw at least two interceptions and will fumble the football once.
  2. Kansas City has been rolling, but this one will be a little tougher for one reason or another. Look for them to have struggle to reach 20 points in this game.
  3. The Chiefs will go back to being the Chiefs in this one. They will not have a touchdown scored by a wide receiver in this game.

Jacksonville Jaguars at New Orleans Saints

  1. The Jaguars lost a close one to the Falcons last week. But in this one, expect them to play a little better offensively. The tandem of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns at wide receiver along with quarterback Blake Bortles will have the Saints putting up at least 30 points in this game.
  2. The Saints offense may have some issues this week with Brees reportedly having a foot injury. Look for the running game to be given more chances. But even with that, the Saints will not rush for more than 150 yards.
  3. The Saints will get booed this week at home. This game has the potential to get ugly for them and it just might do so by halftime.

Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals

  1. The Packers have been sporadic for the most part this last few games. Expect them to be inconsistent again this week, as the Cardinals’ defensive line will be hard for the Packers’ offense to handle.4
  2. The Cardinals’ offense has been dynamic this season with the multitude of weapons they have. Look for their newest weapon, running back David Johnson, to take center stage yet again. Twenty touches for 150 total yards and one touchdown is not out of the question for him in this one.
  3. The Cardinals will be missing safety Tyrann Mathieu. And although the Cardinals’ secondary is still tough without him, they will get hit up by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers for a big play.

St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks

  1. The Seattle Seahawks played the Rams in the first game of the season and they were beaten in overtime. The Seahawks have gotten things back on track as a team but they can still be susceptible to the running game. Look for Todd Gurley to get at least 100 yards rushing and one touchdown.
  2. Russell Wilson has been on fire, throwing touchdowns right and left. In this one, look for him to throw at least four touchdowns while not throwing an interception.
  3. The Seahawks defense will show a little glimpse of the past in this game, but that flicker will go away pretty quickly. Look for the Seahawks to give up at least 20 points in this one.

New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings

  1. The Vikings have been an interesting team this year. They have played good against the bad teams and been inconsistent against the good teams. Look for them to play well against New York, putting up at least 30 points against the New York secondary.
  2. The Giants will be without star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. following his suspension for an incident last week. With him gone, look for the Giants to find their one mismatch they have on the field, tight end Will Tye. The young tight end has shown his ability to make plays and catches and will do so in this game to the tune of 5 receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown.
  3. The Vikings and Giants will both have at least two turnovers in this game. More than likely it will be chilly in this one. And the cold weather tends to produce a slippery football.

Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos

  1. The Broncos played well in the first half week and disappeared in the second half. The Bengals were paying attention and will bring pressure all game, trying to confuse Brock Osweiler. And in this one, they will also confuse the Denver offensive line to the tune of 4 sacks.
  2. The Bengals stalled a little out of the blocks but recovered enough to win against the hapless San Francisco 49ers. But in this one, if they stumble, this one will not end well. The Broncos’ defense is for real and will be holding this offense to 16 points or less.
  3. The winner of this game will not score more than two touchdowns. Both defenses are tough and will give each offense fits all game long.

This completes the General’s Proclamations for Week 16 in the NFL. It should be a fun week to watch some NFL action.

For more sports talk, feel free to follow me on Twitter or check me out on Facebook.

The General’s NFL Proclamations-Week 15

(photo courtesy of Getty Images)

(photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Week 15 is upon us and that means there is three weeks for teams to show what they are made of. A few divisions are already sewed up, but others are still wide open. These next three games will go a long way towards showing who wants to be in the playoffs and who is ready for an offseason vacation. For a lot of these teams, the games are division games, which mean a lot. And for others, there is a chance to make a powerful statement. Without further ado, here are the General’s Proclamations for Week 15 in the NFL.

Tampa Bay at St. Louis

  1. Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston is on the big stage for once this season. And many will get a chance to see what he can do. Look for him to throw for at least 250 yards with one touchdown throwing and running.
  2. The St. Louis Rams have been good when Todd Gurley has been running the ball effectively. Look for him to get it going I this game to the tune of 125 yards and one touchdown.
  3. Tampa Bay and St. Louis have not exactly been lighting it up on the scoreboard this year. Look for both of them to score under 25 point in this game.

New York Jets at Dallas Cowboys

  1. The Jets have been riding high under the quarterback play of Ryan Fitzpatrick. In this one, look for him to have fun at Jerry’s playhouse with at least 300 yards passing and two touchdown passes.
  2. Wide receiver Dez Bryant is the next contestant on Revis Island. This season, Revis Island has not been has treacherous this season, but neither has Bryant. Expect Dez to end up with 3 receptions and less than 40 yards receiving.
  3. The Dallas defense was dominating last year. But this year it has not been the same. Expect them to give up at least 450 yards in total offense. Amazing how things can change in one year.

Carolina Panthers at New York Giants

  1. Carolina has been rolling behind the star power of Cam Newton offensively. In this game, his eyes must have lit up seeing the Giants secondary. Look for Newton to have at least four touchdown passes in this game. And of course, there will be four souvenirs for some lucky kids in the stands.
  2. The Giants offense will have to keep the Panthers in this one. And if the Saints proved anything, it’s that the Panthers can be scored upon. Of course the main weapon the Giants will try to use is Odell Beckham Jr. He and Josh Norman should be a good one. But expect Norman to continue to shine bright when he is matched up with Norman, holding Beckham to only two catches on him. The Giants will have to scheme to get Beckham Jr some good matchups this week.
  3. The Panthers defense will score a touchdown this week. Eli and the Giants offense have been known to give up some turnovers and this defense is one that will make them pay.

Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots

  1. The Patriots lost running back LeGarrette Blount for the year with a hip injury. But this just opens an opportunity for running back Brandon Bolden to step up. Expect Bolden to have 40 yards receiving and at least 60 yards rushing.
  2. The Titans have had one consistent offensive player this season: tight end Delanie Walker. Look for the veteran tight end to have at least five catches for 90 yards and a touchdown.
  3. Tom Brady has to be licking his chops looking at this defensive secondary. And with tight end Rob Gronkowski back, look for the future Hall Of Fame quarterback to throw for four touchdowns and no interceptions.

Buffalo Bills at Washington Redskins

  1. Buffalo has been inconsistently showing up offensively. They lost in an emotional game last week in Philly. But in this one, they will put up at least 30 points.
  2. The Redskins have one of the most dangerous weapons on the field in wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Look for him to get loose one time and score a touchdown from at least 50 yards out.
  3. The Redskins finally won a road game last week and showed some toughness doing so. Look for Washington to come out lackadaisical in this one and let the Bills get out to a big lead.

Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens

  1. The Chiefs have been on fire and have even scored touchdowns with their wide receivers this year. Look for Alex Smith to throw two touchdowns to two different wide receivers in this game.
  2. The Ravens have been struggling this season and have lots of injuries as well. Look for them to continue to struggle and not even put up 13 points.
  3. The Chiefs have been solid without their starting running back, Jamaal Charles. But the running game has continued to be solid. Look for not one of the running back crew in Kansas City to stand alone. But look for them to combine for at least 150 yards rushing.

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts

  1. Houston defensive lineman JJ Watt has been having to do things for himself this year mostly. He needs someone to step up and take some pressure off him. Jadeveon Clowney stepped up last week and made a little noise. Look for him to continue to build upon that game last week in this one with one sack, three tackles and one tackle for loss.
  2. The Colts are reeling after big loss to Jacksonville last weekend. In this one, they will not give up 50, but they will give up at least 28 points in this one versus Houston.
  3. Andrew Lucks is expected to be out again and Matt Hasselbeck will be the starter once again. Look for him to have a solid game with one touchdown pass along with 225 yards throwing. But he will have one crucial mistake due to the pressure that Houston will bring.

Atlanta Falcons at Jacksonville Jaguars

  1. Jacksonville has a talented duo at wide receiver in Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. These two guys can cause serious damage. And in this one, look for both to go over 100 yards receiving and have a touchdown apiece.
  2. Quarterback Matt Ryan has been struggling the last six weeks. Look for his struggles to continue versus Jacksonville, as he will throw two touchdowns, but have at least two interceptions.
  3. The Jaguars will put up at least 38 points in this game. It seems like quarterback Blake Bortles and crew have it going offensively and this game will be an extension of the last one in which they scored 51 points.

Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings

  1. The Bears almost came back and beat the Redskins at home last week, but they came up short. Look for them to hang with the Vikings in this one, led by quarterback Jay Cutler, who will throw for 275 yards at least and two touchdowns.
  2. The Vikings need to feed Adrian Peterson this one a lot. And if he is able to get 25 carries, the veteran running back will run for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Minnesota would be smart to feed him as much as possible.
  3. The Bears have been learning defensively all season under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Look for them to have some hiccups in this one, as they give up at least 30 points.

Green Bay Packers at Oakland Raiders

  1. The Green Bay Packers got their running game back last week with running back Eddie Lacy. Look for them to continue to feed him this week and Lacy will continue to pay them back. Lacy will get at least 100 yards rushing and a touchdown.
  2. The Raiders have been led defensively by Khalil Mack. He had a monster game in Denver where he had five sacks and in this one, he will be after Rodgers all day long. Look for him to have at least three sacks in this game. The kid has been a monster this season.
  3. Green Bay has a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. But in this one, he will get outperformed by Derek Carr. The younger Carr will throw for more yards and throw for one more touchdown than Rodgers in this one.

Cleveland Browns at Seattle Seahawks

  1. Johnny Manziel was solid at quarterback last week versus the 49ers. But the defense he is facing this week isn’t the 49ers. They are tougher. Look for Manziel to be sacked at least four times and he will throw at least one interception.
  2. The Seahawks offensively have been carried by quarterback Russell Wilson. Look for him to throw for at least three touchdowns in this one as he continues to try and throw his name in the MVP talk.
  3. The Seahawks will put up over 40 points on the Cleveland Browns. There are not many things that Cleveland has going for them. Quite honestly, the best thing going for them is they don’t see Seattle much because that would be cruel and unusual punishment.

Cincinnati Bengals at San Francisco 49ers

  1. The big question this week for the Bengals is how will AJ McCarron do? For those that don’t remember, Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton injured his thumb and is out for the rest of the regular season. In this one, the young quarterback will have a tough time adjusting to starting. He will throw one touchdown pass, but he will also throw at least two interceptions.
  2. The 49ers have been pleasantly surprised by running back Shaun Draughn. Look for him to get at least 70 yards rushing and 30 yards receiving in this one. And he will score at least one touchdown.
  3. Cincinnati will not score over 20 points in this game. The 49ers defense has been tough at home and that trend could continue given the circumstances in this one.

Miami Dolphins at San Diego Chargers

  1. The Chargers have been reeling this season. And this game will continue that slide. The Dolphins will score at least 30 points against San Diego/
  2. San Diego quarterback Phillip Rivers has escaped a lot of criticism over the years. But in this game, he will get some criticism. Look for him to throw two interceptions and not throw for over 215 yards.
  3. This game will not be a fun one to watch. Both team have yet to figure themselves out and it isn’t happening anytime soon for both either.

Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers

  1. The Broncos had a rough one against the Oakland Raiders and in this one it could get ugly for a minute too. Look for the Steelers to get at least three sacks versus the Broncos offensive line.
  2. The Steelers have the best wide receivers corps in the NFL. And the Broncos have the best cornerback tandem in the NFL. Three versus two leaves one guy open in this equation. With that being said, look for third wide receiver Marcus Wheaton to get loose in this one for at least 100 yards and a touchdown.
  3. After this game, there will be rumblings loud that Manning should be the quarterback again in Denver. Osweiler will not play bad, but he will not be outstanding either in this one.

Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles

  1. The Eagles got a gritty win last week. But this game will be tougher than the last one because the Arizona defense is tough. Look for the Eagles to score under 20 points in this game as Arizona’s defense travels to Philly.
  2. Carson Palmer has been solid and some are even giving the veteran quarterback some MVP consideration. In this one, he shows why he has been receiving so much praise with at least 300 yards passing and two touchdowns.
  3. The Cardinals will force a huge turnover late in the game. The Eagles have had moments where they make the big play and they give up the huge turnover. This week the Cardinals deliver the backbreaker to them late.

Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints

  1. Both teams can score. And with that being said, both will have over 30 points in this game.
  2. Quarterback Drew Brees will definitely try and do his thing in this one. He will throw at least two touchdown passes. But he will also toss a key interception.
  3. The Lions have had solid play from quarterback Matt Stafford recently. Look for him to keep it up this week by throwing for no interceptions versus New Orleans.

The General’s Proclamations are in folks. Let’s see how they pan out in this week’s games.

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