Is the NFC East the New AFC East?

Has the NFC East really become the new AFC East from years past?

If we take a look back in history, the AFC East was dominated by the New England Patriots. From 2000-2020, there was only four seasons in which the Patriots did not win the division. 2000, which was won by the Dolphins, 2002 won by the Jets, 2008 won by the Dolphins, and 2020 won by the Bills. This is the definition of pure dominance.

The NFC East however, has been quite the opposite. There hasn’t been a repeat division champion since the Eagles did it from 2001-2004 before the Giants won in 2005. Ever since that Eagles run, no NFC East team has won the division in back to back years. Last season saw Washington come away with the division, but this year it most likely will be Dallas. 

So with the being said, will Dallas become the new New England Patriots? I’m not saying that Dak will be Tom Brady and they will go to the Super Bowl every year, but will they have the talent to win the Division for years to come? Lets dive into it. 

Dak Prescott 

Regardless of what you think, Dak is becoming a top quarterback in the NFL. Dak was playing at a historic level, putting up nearly 2000 yards in five games before his season ended with a gruesome ankle injury. This year he hasn’t put up the same numbers, but he has the Cowboys sitting at a better record. Last year they were 2-3 through 5 games, this year they sit at 4-1, and very well could have been 5-0 if it wasn’t for Tom Brady.

Dak’s ability to throw and run with the ball makes him a dual threat quarterback, even though he isn’t at the level of Josh Allen, Kyler Murray, or Lamar Jackson. He doesn’t have to rely on his legs to make plays, its more to extend the play. 

Running Backs 

I would say that Ezekiel Elliot and Tony Pollard are the second-best running back duo in the league behind only Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. With Zeke getting older, Pollard is a fantastic change of pace back to compliment Zeke. He has even come out to say that he isn’t the same running back he was when he was 22 or 23.

“It’s nice to have some come in and give me a break and not have to worry about the offense slowing down”

Pollard, in my opinion, is a fantastic utility back, being able to run between the tackles, catching the ball out of the backfield, and even returning kicks. The run game as well as the backs catching out of the back field only helps Dak and this team become a greater offense.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends 

It’s no surprise that the Cowboys have one of the best skill position groups offensively. Two first round picks in Amari Cooper and Cee Dee Lamb, and a 3rd round pick in Michael Gallup. Now, Gallup is hurt this season, but should be coming back within the next week or two. Lamb and Cooper have both been enjoying a productive season, Lamb with 24 catches for 348 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Cooper with 25 for 318 and 4 touchdowns.

Then we have the tight ends, which ever since Jason Witten retired, hasn’t been a strong point for the cowboys. This season, however, has seen great production from the tight ends. Dalton Schultz has caught 26 passes for 280 yards and 3 touchdowns with Blake Jarwin throwing in 9 for 89 and a score. 

Defense 

Dallas is second in the NFL in terms of turnovers, they sit behind only Buffalo in the category. They have ten interceptions, six of which are by Trevon Diggs, and two fumble recoveries. Buffalo has nine picks and six fumble recoveries.

Despite their success with takeaways, they are in the bottom half of the NFL in terms of sacks. Cowboys have nine, and the Chiefs sit at the bottom of the NFL with seven. They do have some defensive touchdowns, one pick six against the Eagles, and another against the Giants. Their defense has look better that it has in years past. Their secondary has given up the second most passing yards, but the team with the most is the Bucs, two of the best teams in the NFL. 

The Rest of the NFC East 

Philadelphia Eagles: 

The Eagles are an interesting team.

They have gotten a lot younger at skill positions, and they have bolstered the secondary. A team that used to be a top run stuffing defense has now become a top pass prevention team. They are 3rd in the NFL in terms of Passing yards given up. They sit behind the Bills and the Panthers. All 3 teams are the only teams in the NFL to give up less than 1000 passing yards.

This is also the same team that has played against Patrick Mahomes and Dak Prescott, 2 top 5 offenses in terms of total yards, and both being top in terms of passing, with the Chiefs at 5 and Cowboys being at 11.

In terms of rushing defense, the Eagles ranked 3rd as well… 3rd worst. They have given up just over 700 rushing yards this season, an average of 142 per game. The Eagles total offense sits at 14th in the NFL with 372 yards per game. They are 12th in passing and 13th in rushing. If the NFL was a game of “what ifs” they would be top 10. They have had 5 touchdowns called back, multiple being of 30 yards or more. Penalties have also played a huge part this season. This team went toe to toe with the Chiefs offense, and would have won if not for 3 touchdowns being called back due to penalties.

The Eagles are a decent but sloppy football team with spotty play calling from a first time head coach. A potential 3 top 10 first round draft picks would help the Eagles tremendously, but that relies on the Dolphins continuing to stink, and Carson Wentz staying healthy and keeping the Colts in games. 

New York Giants:

The Giants look bad. They are 1-4 but haven’t looked great at all. There have been some flashes, but as soon as something lights up, it shuts off quickly.

They are a top 10 passing team, but they have had injuries to almost all of their starting receivers. Toney, who was a first round draft pick this past draft, looked great against the Cowboys. Saquon had some bad luck with an ankle injury, but it doesn’t appear to be serious. They have the 12th most offensive yards in the NFL. Their defense has given up the 11th most passing yards and 6th most rushing yards.

They need a lot of work on defense, but their offense looks solid. If they weren’t dealing with injuries, they may even be 3-2. 

Washington Football Team:

Washington was supposed to be this feared defensive front 7 that would carry their secondary far. A lot of people had them being a repeat division champ.

That’s has not been the case.

They are 18th in rushing yards allowed and 27th against the pass. This defense is terrible, stats don’t lie. Well since their defense is bad maybe they have a good offense? WRONG. 20th ranked offense overall, 22nd in the passing game, and 16th in the rushing game.

This is with Terry McLaurin and Antonio Gibson as their start players. Curtis Samuel has been hurt this season, Ryan Fitzpatrick is hurt, This team is a QB and WR away from having a good offense, but their defense needs to step up. 

 

In Conclusion 

So will the NFC East be the new AFC East?

Its hard to say, but there is a good possibility.

The Giants and Washington are both a few years and a lot of talent away from contending. The Eagles may have the best shot at competing sooner since they have the second best quarterback in the division, a better offense then both of those teams, and a better defense.

However, they have some older players that they will need to replace, but they have 2-3 first round draft picks to use. They still need to see if Jalen Hurts is the guy, and if Nick Siranni is their coach moving forward.

I think that the Cowboys can dominate this division for the next few years, I don’t know about 20. The Cowboys are in the best position to win now, and very well could only be a piece or two away from a Super Bowl. 

 

Article by: @ThePassionPitPC

What’s going on in Pittsburgh?

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA – JANUARY 10: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks to the huddle during the second half of the AFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field on January 10, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

What’s going on in Pittsburgh: Big Ben’s final year? Offensive troubles and defensive injuries.

There is a lot going on in Pittsburgh. This is a team that has a lot of history. Bruising defense paired with a deadly offense. This is a team that hasn’t finished below .500 since the 2003 season. They rank 3rd in the NFL in terms of Hall of Fame members with 24, only trailing Green Bay with 26 and Chicago with 30. The were the 1st franchise to hit six Super Bowl wins, which they now share with the New England Patriots.

When we take a look back at this franchise, there are so many notable players and plays. The Immaculate reception where we saw Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw throw a pass over the middle to John Fuqua, only to be deflected off of Jack Tatum’s facemask. Then out of nowhere, you see Franco Harris running with the ball down the sidelines to score a game winning touchdown against the Raiders. What about Lynn Swann’s catch in Super Bowl 10? Nicknamed the “Levitating Leap”, even though some think the “Kangaroo Catch” was the better of the two nicknames.

Regardless of their history, lets take a look at what’s going on now. For the better part of the last 20 years, the AFC North has been controlled by mainly the Steelers, with the Baltimore Ravens hot on their trail. Since 2001, the Steelers have won the division 11 times and finished second six times. The other four years they finished third.

Right now, the division is looking tight. The Cleveland Browns are looking fantastic, the Ravens took down defending AFC Champs the Kansas City Chiefs, the Cincinnati Bengals are looking promising, and Pittsburgh is just running along side them. Lets breakdown what seems to be the problem with Pittsburgh.

Offensive Line

The Steelers lost 3 out of their 5 starting offensive linemen from last season. Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey retired during the offseason, and left tackle Alejandro Villanueva left for division rival Ravens. As if things couldn’t look any worse, the team decided to release one of the top guards in the game in David Decastro. Now with these moves, one would expect the Steelers to get younger and/or better. They signed Trai Turner, and paired him with Chukwuma Okorafor, Kevin Dotson, rookie Kenrick Green and Zach Banner.

This team invested a late first round pick on running back Najee Harris, but through 2 weeks he only has 83 rushing yards. Last year we saw Ben throw the ball 608 times. Bringing in Najee was a way to get the ball out of Ben’s hands that much and help him with a rushing attack. So far this year we haven’t seen too much of that attack. They rank 32nd, dead last, in terms of rushing yards per game with 57. The Ravens average 220 rushing yards per game, and the Eagles come in second with 162. They are not off to a great start.

Big Ben

Last year, Ben threw the ball 608 times, second most in his career. His career high is 675 in 2018. In 2020 he averaged 40.5 passes per game as he only played in 15 regular season games. He averaged 42 passes in 2018 playing in all 16 games.

Here’s where the stats differ. 2018 saw Ben complete 452/675 for a completion rate of 67%. He also threw for 5129 yards, 34 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Last year we saw him go 399/608 for a 65.8% completion rate, but it was for only 3803 yards. His touchdowns were at 33, and his picks were at 10. He was throwing an average of 320.6 yards pre game on 42 passes, while last year he was throwing for an average of 253.5 yards on 40.5 passes.

Ben is throwing almost the same amount, but isn’t seeing the same production. This year Ben is averaging 36 passes per game for 241.5 yards. Hopefully as the year goes on, the run game can progress and become better to give Ben a break.

Defensive Injuries

3 notable players on defense are listed as questionable. Starting Cornerback Joe Haden, starting Linebacker Devin Bush, and arguably the biggest name is freshly paid Linebacker/Edge Rusher T.J. Watt.

· T.J. Watt (groin)– Steelers fans have lucked out with this one. Watt’s injury is not considered to be serious, as he could be ready to go for their weekly matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals offensive line stopping T.J. Watt is going to be like a group of 3rd graders at recess going up against Bishop Sycamore.
· Devin Bush (Groin)- Devin Bush was absent on Sunday’s matchup against the Raiders. No word yet as he is still questionable of this upcoming Sunday.
· Joe Haden (Groin) – Another day, another groin injury. Along with Bush, Haden was also out for last Sunday’s game. Haden is working on making his return to the field but remains questionable for Sunday’s matchup.

There is not doubt in my mind that if Pittsburgh had the three players above out there for the full 60 minutes, the outcome of the game would’ve been different. T.J. Watt is a gamechanger, a true X-Factor. He has 2 strip sacks in a game and a half this season. Devin Bush can keep up with almost any running back, tight end, or wide receiver in the league with his 4.43 40 time, Saquon Barkley ran a 4.41 as a comparison. Joe Haden is past him prime, but past his prime is still better than most corner back prime years anyway.

Once they are all back and healthy, they will be able to pick up where they left off last year.

Final Thoughts

Big Ben has thrown for 60,831 in his career, he still has a little bit of juice left in him, but if they cant control games by running the ball, Ben wont win you games. You can’t expect him to be able to go throw 40 times a game and make the Super Bowl, it’s not realistic for him. Some fans are calling for his head, others remember what he has done for them over the years and still believe he can be that guy.

I think that this is a prove it year for Ben. Show the people what you can do, and if you can’t get it done, then you start to look for other options. Whether that be drafting his replacement in the 2022 draft, let Ben go, see what you have in Haskins who is only a couple years removed from being a first round draft pick, or keep him for one more year to mentor a young guy you bring in.

Whatever it is, the time to act is sooner rather than later, before you waste a couple of years on what is a top rated defense, and a deep selection of skill position players. Invest next offseason on a better offensive line as well to help whoever the signal caller is in Pittsburgh. Unless you are Mahomes and Reid in Kansas City, its going to be hard to win with a pass heavy offense. Balance is always the key

 

Article by Passion

NFL Week 2 Recap

Week 2 provided everything a die-hard NFL fan could want. Defensive battles, high scoring thrillers, prime time upsets, and even a few heartbreaks. Derrick Henry scores 3 touchdowns to lead a comeback, Vikings lose in Vikings fashion with a missed game winning field goal, and todays hot take… Kyler Murray for MVP? Lets dive right into all 14 games from Sunday!

Patriots vs. Jets:

Against the Patriots, Zach Wilson looked awful. Missed passes, four interceptions thrown…none of it was pretty. On the upside Michael Carter looks like he could turn into the running back this team desperately needs. The Jets defense also looked competent. When your quarterback throws 4 interceptions and gives the opposing team great field position, and you hold them to 25 points, that’s a win in my book. Jets are a few pieces away from being a contender. You heard it here first.

Mac Jones looked good but not great in this outing, 22 for 30 for 186 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. They only ran for 101 yards as well. The most impressive play on offense was Damien Harris (or was it Marshawn Lynch, I’m not sure I couldn’t tell) running for a 26 yard touchdown. He looked amazing on this run, breaking tackles, and rumbling his way in for a score. The defense looked impressive, regardless of it being the Jets.

Broncos vs. Jaguars

Lets be honest, we all expected this outcome, except for the handful of Jaguars fans. But if you watched the first 25 minutes of this game, I bet you were like me and thought that the Jaguars were about to pull off an upset. Jacksonville came out with an 11 play 83 yard touchdown drive that was capped by a 25 yard Marvin Jones touchdown. If it wasn’t for a missed field goal the Jags would’ve been up 10-3 going into the final drive of the half, but if football was a game of what if’s, then I would be writing a completely different story. Lawrence threw the ball 33 times, completing 14 of those attempts with 2 balls being picked off. 188 yards and a touchdown to go along with that, and we have one disappointing start of the season for the number 1 overall selection.

Denver just looks good. Putting up 398 total yards on offense, while holding Jacksonville to only 189. That’s about as a complete game of football you can have. Only one sack came on the day, courtesy of Von Miller, but it was still a great showing. 10 penalties on the day for Denver is frightening, but if they clean that up we could be looking at a team on the rise. Don’t even get me started on time of possession, Denver controlled the game by chewing up 38:52 minutes.

Bills vs. Dolphins

Poor Miami. That’s all I have to say. What if Tua doesn’t get hurt early in the first quarter, are they in this game? Would that have matter? Again, it’s a what if. Lets look at how Miami played. Plenty of touchdowns… against their defense. Zero for the offense. A combined 182 yards thrown between the two quarterbacks on 44 attempts and 25 completions. This team needs Will Fuller next week. Jaylen Waddle is still learning the speed of the NFL, so the return of Will Fuller will only help them that much more. 2 fumbles lost paired with the interception, and that’s 3 turnovers. Let me say something crazy here, Miami had 98 less yard total than Buffalo, only one more turnover, 44% on third down, AND CONTROLLLED 3 MORE MINUTES OF TIME. The only stat Buffalo destroyed Miami in was sacks allowed, Miami gave up 6 sacks. Statistically this game was close, even if the final score didn’t show it.

Bills fans, how are y’all feeling? This is one of those wins where it’s a “I guess I’ll take it” type of feeling. For the score of this game, its beautiful, stats, not so much. Josh Allen was 17 of 33 for 179 yards, a pair of touchdowns and a pick. Singletary had a nice day on the ground rushing for 82 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Zack Moss added 2 scores on 8 carries for 26 yards. This was a defensive win no doubt. This is what happens when a good team has a bad offensive day, but the defense steps up. The longest touchdown drive was 62 yards. Then a 60 yard drive, 33 yards, 52, and 46. 2 of their touchdown drives were started on the Dolphins side of the 50, and one of them was at their own 48! A win is a win, but Buffalo needs to find their offense quickly.

49ers vs. Eagles

If you like low scoring defensive battles, this was the game of the week for you. The 49ers, outside of 2 drives, looked lost on offense. Punts on their first four drives, after they scored 3 touchdowns on the first 4 drives last week, is discouraging for 49ers fans. They ended the half with a wide open touchdown to Jauan Jennings. The defense in the first half of the game balled out big time. They blocked a field goal, stalled a drive in the red zone after a 91 yard play, and were lucky enough to have a touchdown overturned. This is a very good, if not the best defense in the NFC. Jimmy G went 22 for 30 for 189 and a touchdown. Trey Sermon, Elijah Mitchell, and JaMycal Hasty all suffered some type of injury, but none appear to be done for the year.

Eagles fans, its not as bad as you think. It’s a loss, but it’s a loss to feel good about. The defense for most of the game looked lights out, great pass rush, the run stop was there. There was one chunk play at the end of the first half that set up the 49ers for a touchdown, but it was a catch and run with poor angles. The loss was contributed to spotty play calling and missed opportunities. A blocked field goal, touchdown getting called back, and a 1st and goal at the one is not how the Eagles envisioned this game going. Points were left on the board, that’s for sure, but this game showed what the defense is capable of.

Rams vs. Colts

Matt Stafford for a second straight week has looked amazing. He threw 19/30 for 278 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. Cooper Kupp is emerging as his clear favorite in the offense, through the first two weeks his stat line is 16-271-3. Darrell Henderson is turning into the goal line back, putting up touchdowns in back to back games. It was nice to see Sony Michel get involved as well, with 10 carries for 46 yards on the ground. This offense is going on all cylinders as they put up 27 against a solid Colts defense. The defense was able to force 2 turnovers, and sack Wentz 3 times. It was a close game in score and stats.

Colts fans, I know it’s hard right now, you are sitting a 0-2 facing a potential 1-4 start as you have the Titans, Dolphins, and Ravens as your next 3 games. Wentz is hurt with an ankle injury and could miss some time. But look on the bright side, your games have been close with arguably 2 top 5 teams. It’s a hard schedule and you guys are fighting hard. Michael Pittman went off with 8 catches for 123 yards, Pascal has 3 touchdowns so far this season, and you still have Jonathan Taylor. Carson Wentz has thrown for just under 500 yards, and still needs to build the chemistry with his receivers and tight ends (I know because go birds).

Raiders vs. Steelers

Boy do the Raiders look good! Taking down the Ravens in an overtime thriller last week, then to face the Steelers and win in Pittsburgh. Derek Carr has looked elite, throwing for the most yards to start a Raiders season in the first two games in franchise history, and Henry Ruggs is finally contributing in a great way with a huge touchdown grab. Did I mention that their stadium has VIP seats with bottle service and a DJ booth on the field? Man, football is in full swing in Las Vegas and I am here for it! Even with Josh Jacobs out this game they found a way to win. The ground game put up a total of 52 yards, but who needs to run when Derek Carr is playing great football. Relax, it was a joke, I know a run game is important, and they will get back to a run game when Jacobs is back and healthy.

The Steelers are an interesting team. Big Ben put up 295 yards going 27 for 40. Harris totaled 81 yards on the ground and a score as he continues to try and prove why he was a first round back. Injuries on defense played a role in the loss, but how big? As a man who has friends and family in Pittsburgh, as well as in a fantasy league with eleven Steelers fans, I am forced to listen to them talk about all of their Lombardi trophies, or the history of the franchise, or how if I don’t watch the game my input doesn’t matter (yeah I called you out Logan). But let me tell you, I will be covering this team more in depth in a later article. Questions surrounding Pittsburgh right now, Is Big Ben still the move? How much longer does he have? Will he be able to take this team to the next level and into the playoffs? Only time will tell, find out on the next episode of Dragon Ball Z.

Bengals vs. Bears

SOME GET JOE BURROW SOME O-LINE HELP! 4 sacks allowed, getting pressure in his face, throwing 3 interceptions… come on. It wasn’t a great day offensively for either team, but I would still take the Bengals offense over the Bears in this one. Burrow threw for 207 yards on a 19/30 line. 2 touchdowns to 3 interceptions. Mixon had 69 yards on 20 carries. The Bengals had 4 total turnovers in this game, including a Roquan Smith pick six. I like the Bengals offense a lot, and their defense isn’t too shabby either, I just need better o-line play.

Well, Matt Nagy is officially 10-3 in September, with the only loses coming from season openers in the 2018, 2019 and 2021 seasons. Did you know that the Bears have had 7 games since 2018 with 3+ takeaways and 4+ sacks, most in the NFL? Would you like to know their record in those games? 7-0. Now, this may have been one of the worst offensive performances this season so far, putting up a combined 206 total yards. The gamechanger in this game was the pick six. Without it, this game may have ended 17-16 in favor of the Bengals.

Texans vs. Browns

The Texans are an interesting team. They were the underdog against Jacksonville, and were able to hang with the Browns for most of the game, only trailing by 3 going into the fourth quarter. Add a missed field goal on their last drive and this game was pretty entertaining. Tyrod Taylor went down with an injury, but he has looked good so far this year. Touchdowns from Cooks, Lindsay and on the ground from Tyrod, were all signs of what this team can be. Imagine if Tyrod doesn’t get hurt, or if Watson was able to play, this may be a surprising team this year. I’m not saying they are going to the playoffs, but they aren’t as bad as we had all thought they were going to be.

The Browns may just be the best team in the AFC. Their run game is top tier, Baker is making the most with what he has at wide receiver, and they may have a top 3 tight end group in terms of depth. Landry has a sprained MCL which will limit his play time, but they should be getting OBJ back soon. This offense is scary right now, and their defense isn’t anything to laugh at either, almost taking down the Chiefs last week. Baker had a solid game going 19/21 for 213 a touchdown and a pick. Maybe those progressive commercials aren’t affecting him too much.

Saints vs. Panthers

Okay, you all can start to come back to Earth on Jameis Winston. I can hear some of you know “Oh but Passion, he has 5 touchdown passes and a rushing touchdown”. Relax Timmy he has 259 yards through 2 games. If you think that’s elite, then follow in Jameis’ footsteps and get Lasik surgery because he does not look good at all. Also, where the heck has Alvin Kamara been? Its two weeks and he has 88 rushing yards and 33 receiving yards. He is the best player on the offense, and you aren’t getting him the ball? Maybe the Green Bay game was just a fluke. But this team does not look good at all. I didn’t like them that much after week one, and I don’t like them now.

The Panthers, however, interest me. The offense didn’t look great last week against he Jets, but Sam Darnold has thrown 50/73 for 584 yards, pair that with 3 touchdowns and 1 pick, and you have yourself a good looking quarterback. I’m not saying he’s Patrick Mahomes, but he’s looking better than he did in New York. The Panthers have 10 sacks through 2 weeks, along with 3 takeaways. The Panthers may be for real, but lets wait a couple more weeks. This week they face Houston, then Dallas, then they play the Eagles. I will be excited for that last matchup. 2 teams that no one thought would have a good season. Both teams look good, but the Panthers have the edge right now.

Vikings vs. Cardinals

You wanna talk about it Vikings fans? Was it the missed PAT or the missed game winning field goal? That is back to back weeks where you were one or two plays away from winning the game. You guys could’ve been 2-0, I bet you would be happy with 1-1, but sadly, in the words of the youngsters, “It do be like that sometimes”. Kirk Cousins is playing good football, A little under 600 yards, 5 touchdowns no picks. Cant ask for a better start. Even Dalvin Cook is almost at 200 rushing yards, sadly no touchdowns. The defense is giving up big plays, and cant get off the field when the game is on the line. Prayers go to all Vikings fans, and if you know of any (I’m looking at you Trey) please check on them, because they are in pain.

Here is my pick to win MVP this season. Kyler Murray looks amazing. 689 passing yards, 7 touchdowns with 2 picks. Lets add 51 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground for a total of 9 touchdowns through 2 games. What if I told you the best receiver on the team this year isn’t DeAndre Hopkins, or Christian Kirk? You may think to yourself “Well it can’t be AJ Green either” and you would be right! Its Rondale Moore. Leading the team in targets, catches, and yards. He went off for 7-114-1 this week, following up a solid 4-68 last week. Yeah he doesn’t have Hopkins 3 touchdowns, but he is leading in all other categories. I love the Cardinals, and am officially hopping on the Kyler Murray bandwagon. This is my pick to win the NFC West.

Falcons vs Buccaneers

Matt Ryan had a better showing this week than he did last week, but it didn’t matter. 35/46 for 300 yards, 2 touchdowns and 3 picks wasn’t enough. There was a lot of buzz surrounding Mike Davis coming to the Falcons, but it hasn’t really showed at all. Through two weeks he only has 87 rushing yards and no touchdowns. Kyle Pitts started to show what he was capable of, hauling in 5 catches for 73 yards this week, and Calvin Ridley finally saw the end zone! Cordarrelle Patterson is becoming a nice two way player, running and catching the ball for the Falcons. You want to hear a funny stat. Yesterday Matt Ryan threw just as many touchdowns to Buccaneers players as he did Falcons players. That’s right, two pick sixes, unfortunate.

Is anyone even surprised anymore? Tom Brady is doing Tom Brady things with 9 touchdowns this season, 4 of them to Gronk. Speaking of Gronk, what a red zone threat he has been this year huh? Ronald Jones is slowly starting to lose the running back spot to Leonard Fournette, but neither have broken out. Fournette is clearly producing more, with 84 rushing yard this season as compared to Jones’ 41 yards. There may not be a better passing quartet then the combination of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, and Antonio Brown. Brown was quiet this week, as Evans picked up where Brown left off last week, but the one consistent thing about this team, Brady loves him some Gronk and Godwin. Not to mention their elite defense that held off a top Dallas air attack. This is my favorite to win the NFC South.

Titans vs. Seahawks

Julio is still elite, Henry hasn’t lost a step, and Ryan Tannehill is clutch. The first half looked to be all Seattle as they went up 24-9. Three touchdowns in the second half for Henry, paired with 128 yards from Julio Jones in the game set up Tennessee to make an amazing comeback. Henry’s third touchdown helped force overtime, where the defense was able to get a crucial stop and kick the game winning field goal! This is more of what we were expecting out of the Titans, ground and pound with Henry, then play action to Julio or A.J. Brown and put up points. Hopefully for Titans fans this team has found their rhythm and will start pumping out high scoring performances.

Russell Wilson may just be the best deep ball passer in the NFL. 3 touchdown passes of 60 or more yards, with 2 of them going to Tyler Lockett. Speaking of Lockett, he has 278 yards and 3 touchdowns on just 12 catches. DK may still be a part of the offense, but there is no doubt that Lockett is the guy! Lets not forget about Chris Carson, who has 122 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. I think he may be the most underrated running back in the NFL. He just quietly performs well for his team and gets clutch yards and touches when needed. The defense couldn’t stop the Titans in the second half, they need to improve and play more complete games, but at the end of the day, if you need to get into offensive shoot outs, there aren’t many better offenses than Seattle.

Cowboys vs. Chargers

You want a hot take, try this one on for size. Tony Pollard will be the best back for the cowboys this year. More rushing yards on less attempts, more receiving yards on more catches, same touchdowns. Pollard is out performing a “top 5” back in the league, and looks better too. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Zeke go at the trade deadline, or next off-season. CeeDee Lamb is the real deal. He has one less catch than Amari Cooper, one less touchdown, but more yards. With Gallup being out I expect more targets to go to CeeDee. This is an offense that is built for high scoring, but that wasn’t the case against the chargers. Their defense has stepped up a lot as well, but I am not sure how I like the Micah Parsons at defensive end. All in all it was a fun game to watch.

We are finally seeing what Mike Williams can do. He has always been a spotty receiver, never really putting together a true number one season, and that’s because he has been behind Keenan Allen. But this year… this year, he is breaking out. 15-173-2 in the first two games of the season is on par for a top ten receiver finish. Asante Samuel Jr. is a monster, locking down Amari Cooper all day, getting an interception along with a nice pass break up. He is the real deal in a secondary that may go for top 3 in the league. Herbert is going to be a good quarterback in this league for a very long time. I am excited to see what he does. He is already 62/88 for 675 2 touchdowns and 3 picks. If he can get the ball in the end zone more he will be a top 5 quarterback.

Ravens vs. Chiefs

I knew this was going to be a good game, but I didn’t know it would be THAT GOOD. Mahomes did Mahomes things, throwing for 343 yards and 3 touchdowns with only one interception. The running game has been non-existent. Edwards-Helaire was supposed to have a breakout season this year, and has been lackluster. Tyreek Hill was held in check, but Travis Kelce had himself a day. He is an absolute goon and with how Waller and Kittle played, he is without a doubt the number one tight end in the league. The defense did get a touchdown, but outside of that they couldn’t hold off the Ravens!

Lamar Jackson is a top 3 rusher in the league. He has 193 rushing yards in the league with 2 touchdowns. Pair that with 474 passing yards, 2 touchdowns with 2 picks and he is getting the job done. Baltimore is averaging 220 rushing yards per game, which is insane!!! They kept up with the Chiefs and came away with a last minute win as they recovered a Chiefs fumble to seal the deal. The AFC has a bunch of great teams, The Chiefs, Ravens, and Browns sit atop the list.

Giants vs. Washington Football Team: Wild ending in a sloppy divisional showdown

NFL fans across the country have come to expect very little from the NFC East. Some have even given the division the nickname “NFC Least”, and after last nights game, it’s becoming more clear as to why that is. Last night’s tilt had everything, from penalties to fast paced scoring, to missed opportunities, and there was a lot of it all. It seemed like sloppy football from both sides, so let’s break it down one section at a time.  

Scoring: 

Fans may not have expected 59 points between these two teams, and if they did, probably not in the fashion this game produced. Washington escaped with the win 30-29 last night, on a game winning field goal. Touchdowns for the Giants came off a Daniel Jones run and a Darius Slayton touchdown catch. Five field goals came off the foot of Gano, as he was lights out, putting up 22 fantasy points if you had him on your roster (Sadly I did not). Washington had touchdown catches from superstar Terry McLaurin as well as college wideout turned tight end Ricky Deals-Jones. J.D. McKissic also added a score on the ground. Pair that with 3 field goals from Dustin Hopkins and you have yourself a nail biter. 

Missed opportunities: 

The Giants had the chance to pull away with this game several times, but they just couldn’t seem to pull it together. The Giants left a total of 11 points on the board. Here’s a breakdown: 

  • A Daniel Jones touchdown run called back due to a holding call. Settled for a field goal – 4pts missed 
  • Dropped touchdown pass late in the game by Darius Slayton. Settled for a field goal – 4pts missed 
  • Giants drive into field goal range on their 2nd drive off a Barkley 41 yard run, then take a 5 yard penalty and 6 yard sack to knock them out of field goal range for Gano. 

The Washington Football Team seemed to only have one missed opportunity, and it was the interception by James Bradberry late in the fourth quarter that set New York up for a go-ahead field goal, at least temporarily.  

Penalties: 

With a grand total of twenty penalties, the laundry was being thrown A LOT. Eleven against the Giants resulting in 81 yards, and 9 against the Washington Football Team resulting in 80 yards. Washington committed costly penalties that gave the Giants a first down four times last night, giving them the ability to continue a drive that should’ve ended. The Giants would go on to score a combined 20 points off those drives, but was there any bigger than on the second to last play of the game? An offsides penalty on a missed game winning field goal for Dustin Hopkins gave Washington another chance, and they took advantage of it. 

Takeaways:  

There are two questions you should be asking yourself right now; Why did Washington win and why did the Giants lose? This game seemed like it was poised to be a great battle between a rising young defense vs. an offense led by Saquon Barkley and new wide receiver Kenny Golladay.  

With a banged up offensive line for the Giants that saw Nick Gate go down with a gruesome leg injury (prayers to Nick and his family) the Giants couldn’t get Saquon going. Outside of his 41 yard run, he rushed 12 times for 16 yards and 2 catches for 12 yards. Golladay was held to 3 catches for 38 yards, while Sterling Shepard torched the defense for the second straight week putting up 9 receptions for 94 yards. Slayton could’ve been the game changer if not for his dropped touchdown. 

Washington’s defense looked alright, but we are talking about what is considered a top front seven going against one of the worst o-lines in the game. 4 sacks and 8 tackles for loss isn’t a bad day, but against this team I expected more from them. They committed penalties; offense looked lackluster outside of Terry McLaurin. If it wasn’t for Dexter Lawrence jumping offsides this team loses that game.  

Say what you want about a divisional game, if Washington could’ve cleaned up the penalties and sustained more drives, this would’ve been a one-sided game. Only time will tell if Washington can fix these problems and attempt to do something no NFC East has done since the mid 2000’s, and that’s repeat as Division Champs! 

 

Article by: @ThePassionPitPC

#GetWet Sports Manager

R.I.P 2020-2021 Edmonton Oilers

With all of the Canadian teams joining together to be one whole division, the Oilers looked to challenge for the top spot in that division. A once struggling team finally looked to prove it had turned a corner. With a fairly decent supporting cast surrounding Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, things were looking good for the Oilers, but a surprise defeat at the hand of the Winnipeg Jets in the first round continues to raise questions about this team.

Where is the disconnect? What is this teams issue? In a season where your captain scores over 100 points in a shortened 56-game season, how do you get swept in the first round to a divisional team? Was it a lack of depth? Was it goaltending? Was it just the pure ability of keeping the seasons Art Ross trophy winner off the scoresheet?

Honestly to me, there are a lot of reasons why Edmonton had a early exit.

So where do the Oilers go from here? Take this one on the chin and retool the line up? Blow it up? I think at this point priorities should shift to defensive depth. I think keeping Tyson Barrie needs to be top of the list. Losing Oskar Kelfbom this whole season was huge, but they still were able to overcome during the regular season. Barrie was a reason for that. Keep Barrie on the team and add in the blossoming play of young defender Darnell Nurse, this blue line could be set. Though, rumblings seem Barrie will test free agency, looking for a longer term than Edmonton might be willing to offer.

Adam Larsson actually looked pretty consistent on the ice as well, he might be able to fill that empty spot if Barrie departs. That brings Nurse into the Barrie role and Ethan Bear starts taking a larger role as well. But this lack of depth beyond there still showed an issue later in the post-season. You cannot blame a goalie when your team gives up a 3 goal lead with under half a period to play. That falls back on your defensive play and the ability to close.

Mike Smith looked great in net at times this season, but having no help in front will kill a team. Offensively, things could get scary. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is another must for Edmonton. But him leaving could create a void at the wing. But looking at any of their wingers not named Jesse Puljujarvi, that is basically a contributing factor that has got Edmonton in this situation, the inability to contribute. In goal, I think you are okay with this tandem of Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen, just help them out in front. It takes a lot of pressure off your goalies when the rest of your team is consistent.

But as we dry our eyes, looking at what we thought might be a step forward for the Oilers, has proved to be a catastrophic side step. Nor forward or backwards, but in the same state of mediocrity that we know and love for the Oilers. Will they continue to disappoint? Will this have a effect on their stars who are carrying the load causing them to look else where to call a home? Only time will tell. But one thing we love that time gives us is Edmonton blowing three-goal leads. Thank you Edmonton. That game 3 will go down in history and join the ranks of the “Comeback on Katella.”

R.I.P to the 2020-2021 Edmonton Oilers.

Written by @TheFrostback

R.I.P 2020-2021 Pittsburgh Penguins

For the last few years, I’ve never seen a team continue to keep making competitive rosters when things look bleak like the Pittsburgh Penguins have. A lot of big departures from their last cup in 2017 when they were repeat cup champions, but this team has continued to retool correctly bringing them to the playoffs again and again, A streak lasting from 2007. This year brought this a 1st round exit to a battle tested Islanders team.

So what can the Pens look back on with kind eyes this season? Well, I’ll be honest. There isn’t much. Sidney Crosby is up for another Ted Lindsey award, the MVP as voted by the players. Youngster Jake Guentzel had another solid season for the Pens, tallying 57 points and a 20-goal season. Cody Ceci seemed to step into the  Pens Top-4 well, and Kasperi Kapanen seemed to play well in the top-6 spot next to Evgeni Malkin.


Which leads me to this, I won’t lie, it was kind of difficult to find positives to this squad barring what is looming. Looking ahead, you’ve got one season left of Malkin, two seasons of Jason Zucker, two of Bryan Rust and two of mentioned Kasperi Kapanen. Not to mention, one more of blueliner staple Kris Letang. Now, I’m no GM, but I don’t see scenario where the Pens hang on to all of those players. Likely a scenario of an extending Malkin and Letang could come at the extent of most of the listed forwards. Kapanen is a coming RFA, I think the Pens will find a way to keep him with Malkin. Now, looking at Malkin, the 34 year old center will likely finish his career in the organization. Comments made by Hextall leads me to believe these two will be on the roster in the future. But this might come at the cost of one Rust, Kapanen, or Zucker.

The biggest question mark might be the play in net. After dealing Matt Murray before the season, the Penguins decided to go fourth with Tristian Jarry. In his first season, Jarry had a SV% .909, but his GAA was almost a 3, sitting at 2.75. Now it’s hard to decide the young goalies fate now off one season of being a starter, but I definitely think he is a step down from Murray. Pens Fans are all over the idea of a possible blockbuster for Anaheim’s John Gibson, which would bring Gibson home to where he was born and raised. But, in no timeline do I see that move becoming real. Though, there is a possibility of Jarry not being protected with the coming expansion draft, but I believe the net is the weak point of this team.

As we say goodbye to the 2020-2021 Penguins who ended up winning the East Division, we should smile. This might be the last run of these Pens that we know and love (to hate). This season we thank you for highlight real Crosby goals. The emergence of Bryan Rust, the possibility of a solid line-mate for Evgeni Malkin, and of course, another season of seeing the Pens getting knocked out in the playoffs. R.I.P to the 2020-2021 Pittsburgh Penguins.

 

Written by @TheFrostback

R.I.P 2020-2021 St. Louis Blues

The Blues enter the season as one of my top 5 teams. Even with the departure of Alex Pietrangelo in the offseason, the St. Louis Blues made the strong moves to fill the void left behind. But alas, they were not good enough, as the Blues fell in the first round in a sweep.

But was this the Blues fault? Or did it just come down the meeting of a unstoppable force in the Avs?

To me, the Blues made the correct moves to stay in cup window. Which is where I want to start. They signed Torey Krug long term. The stud blue-liner contributed 32 points and provided a much needed fill after the void was left by Pietrangelo. They also saw a lot of production from 2019’s blue-line acquisition, Justin Faulk. Faulk was second in points for defenseman with 25. The emergence of Vince Dunn, was also a high point. A young blueliner that the Blues need to hang on to as he is an upcoming RFA. I confidently believe they will make a deal. These 3 are a solid block to build on moving forward for the Blues. Jordan Kyrou emerged offensively as well for the Blues this year, and is coming up as a RFA.

Though they will likely loose the talents of Mike Hoffman, that should give some room to sign winger Jaden Schwartz at the ripe age of 28. Though, this season showed holes in the armor that was Jordan Binnington. The goalie was huge for them on the cup run in 2019. But this season showed how easily it was to frustrate him and get him off his game. Binnington had 108 goals scored against him this season in 42 starts. Which lands him at 4th in “Goals Against” this season with zero shutouts.

With a sturdy group of defensemen for the Blues, being behind teams like Winnipeg, Calgary, and Chicago, who are teams with struggling defensive corps, makes me raise an eyebrow at what could possibly be the blame for this season in St Louis. All in all, this is team has a solid foundation to start with, but the approach to the offensive depth chart must be tread carefully to keep this team in the cup window looking on past this season.

But let us not shed a tear for our fallen Blues. Let us smile. For this team out of St. Louis still has given us plenty. Including the many freak outs of your young, short fused goaltender that we love to see. We will see you again next year. Remember to bring plenty of sticks for Jordan Binnington to break over his post. R.I.P.

Written by @TheFrostBack

R.I.P 2020-2021 Washington Capitals


What looked like a steady pick going into the the playoffs, the Washington Capitals did what the Washington Capitals have done for the last three postseasons, lose in the first round. But what can the Caps smile about looking back at the 2020-2021 season?

Well a few things, starting with goaltending. With the departure of former goalkeeper staple Braden Holtby in the offseason, The Caps looked to two young goalies waiting in the wings. Enter, Illy Samsonov, the 22nd overall pick by the Capitals in 2015. The Russian was poised to be the starter entering the season and proved to be a difference maker in net, when he was actually able to play, that is. Samsonov unfortunately fell victim to the injury bug and the Covid-19 list multiple times this season while still posting a 19-4 record, including 2 shutouts, and ended the season with a .904 SV% and a GAA of 2.69. Nice season baring his setbacks.

On the other hand, the Caps also had goalie, Vitek Vanecek, a young tendy from the Czech Republic. He also proved his worth in times without Samsonov, posting a similar stat line. In 31 games, he kept a better SV% of .908 and also had a GAA of 2.69, while winning 21 games. Another nice season for a young tendy in a Caps uniform. Another bright spot, is captain Alexander Ovechkin. In 45 games, the 35 year old Russian Machine scored 42 points for the Caps. Granted he missed 11 games in a 56 game season, surprisingly this was his lowest season of production to date. This was also his lowest goal count, ending the season with 24. This stat column is something everyone has been keeping an eye on since he broke into the league in 05-06. Ovechkin is inching closer and closer to Wayne Gretzky’s All Time Goals Scored record. Ovechkin sits at 730 goals in 16 season, while The Great One stands atop that list with 894.

To me, I don’t think it’s a question if he will, I think it truly is a question of when. But will it be in a Capitals uniform? As good comes with bad, the bad is this season ends his contract he signed way back in 2008, as he is an upcoming UFA. Now, Ovechkin has stated multiple times he wants to stay with the Caps. That combined with how productive he has been for his time in Washington, I believe there will be a deal done. With him winning the Cup in 2018 with the franchise that drafted him, I see there is no reason for him to chase it somewhere else. The team still has a competitive roster that with a few tweaks can get back on the post-season winning ways. I don’t see a scenario where money can take him from the franchise he has done so much for and the Captain will remain in DC.

So let us bow our heads and say our goodbyes as we lay the 2020-2021 Washington Capitals to rest. Thank you for giving Zdeno Chára another run at a cup. Thank you for the unmasked Russian hotel parties. Thank you for another year of Coach Laviolette. And most of all, thank you for proving the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is a huge joke. Rest Easy, we will see you next season. R.I.P.

Written by @TheFrostBack

Mr San Jose Shark

As a lifetime Anaheim Ducks fan, the San Jose Sharks have always been a rival that I disliked very strongly, but never hated.

As a division rival, we see them constantly each season. I have seen many a face pass through a Sharks sweater, and seen many of them hang them up. But one I am still happy to see back in the teal, is Patrick Marleau.

Marleau has always been a class act player, one that is well respected by fans of the game. He seemed like the type of player to come in and do his job with no problems or issues and has taken everything his career has thrown at him with grace. Playoff heartbreak, losing a captaincy, being traded, you name it. Patrick Marleau has seen it. Except one thing, lengthy injury. Marleau has only missed 32 games out of a possible 1801.

Which brings us to this past Monday. On Monday, 4-19-21, Patrick Marleau stepped foot on the ice for his 1,768th game, which was enough to pass Gordie Howe for the record for Most Games Played All-Time. An incredible record that any fan of the great game of hockey can respect. 

Patrick Marleau was drafted by the San Jose Sharks with the second overall pick in the 1997 draft.

Little did young Patrick Marleau know that when he took the “1-2-3” picture with Joe Thornton and Oli Jokinen, he would be standing next to his future teammate, Joe Thornton, who was selected by the Boston Bruins first overall. Marleau debuted well for the Sharks and eventually became their captain midway through the 02-03 season.

Though he lost it in 2009, he continued to give his best on and off the ice, proving how standup of a guy he was, and always doing what the team needed. Some players in that situation wouldn’t have held it together like Marleau, which is why he was given an alternate captain again in the same year. Marleau remained with the Sharks until 2017.

When he entered free agency for the first time in his career he signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs and then was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes, who later bought him out. San Jose was quick to re-sign “Mr. San Jose Shark” but would deal him to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2020 for hopes of seeing him win a cup, unfortunately that did not come true. Marleau returned once again back to the Sharks the next season. 

But why am I bringing up the constant moves? Because 1997-2021. Marleau has played 23 seasons in the NHL chasing down a dream of winning a Stanley Cup.

While he hasn’t accomplished that yet, the 41-year old Saskatchewan native has set a record will likely never be broken, even if he decides to hang them up this season. Watching that game was a surreal thing, knowing I was watching history, if you watched it you felt it. I’m currently writing this on Wednesday evening. Which will be officially Marleau’s 1,769th game.

We don’t know what the future will hold for Patrick Marleau, but, with a jersey on the way to the Hockey Hall of Fame and numerous franchise records. Marleau has respect of not only his peers he takes the ice with and against, but the fans, even of other teams. Congrats on an inhuman record. As I take a play out of the playbook of Teemu Selanne, I say, “one more year.” Keep playing till the wheels fall off. Keep this record going. Keep being a hockey player. 

Congrats to you, Patrick Marleau, on being a class act, and owning one of the greatest records of all time.
Stick taps all around.

Author: Tyler Tennell