The Arizona Cardinals are currently 4-1, and have a 10-1 record in the last two years when Carson Palmer was starting at quarterback. That is why it is so curious that nobody is giving this team Super Bowl consideration. Fans and analysts love talking about the New England Patriots and the Green Bay
The Arizona Cardinals are currently 4-1, and have a 10-1 record in the last two years when Carson Palmer was starting at quarterback. That is why it is so curious that nobody is giving this team Super Bowl consideration. Fans and analysts love talking about the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers; hell, people would rather pick the Seahawks as their Super Bowl team than the Cardinals. But, the Arizona Cardinals are here to stay.
The Cardinals’ offense has been one of the most impressive units in the NFL this season. Arizona leads the league in points right now with 190 through five games (38 points/gm). What is so impressive about the Cardinals is that they are scoring in all facets of the game. Palmer is currently tied with Aaron Rodgers for the most passing touchdowns this season, and the team has fielded three different running backs with multiple touchdowns. Plus, the defense and special teams units have accounted for four more TDs. Every unit of this team has contributed to the incredible scoring mark the Cardinals have been able to put up this year. And, just to give a little perspective on what the Cardinals are doing on offense this year: they have scored more points through five weeks than did the 2007 New England Patriots.
The offense has also shown great abilities beyond just scoring loads of points. All three running backs have averaged over five yards per carry so far this season. The Cardinals’ receivers have also been on fire this year. They currently lead the league in receiving yards, and are second in yards per catch. In short: the Cardinals’ offense has been their money-maker in 2015.
Arizona was forced to rely on its defense last year because of quarterbacking injuries, and it was painfully clear that the team’s fifth-ranked scoring defense carried the team to the playoffs. Now with a healthy quarterback, the Cardinals have become a complete team. In fact, they are the most deadly team in the NFL when they are at full health.
Arizona has proven that its defense has been one of the NFL’s best units over the last two years. The Cardinals were fifth in points allowed last season, and are fifth in points allowed through five weeks this year. The explosive new Arizona offense has given the defense a chance to show its true ferocity.
The unit has the forced the fourth-most turnovers in the league this year with 13. The defense is also excellent at ending drives; they have allowed the fourth-fewest first downs in the NFL this season. The defense constantly does its job as well, if not better, than any team in the NFL. The ability of Arizona’s defense along with its high-octane offense creates one scary team.
I also have to point out how impressive Arizona’s special teams have been this season. The Cardinals’ second-year kicker Chandler Catanzaro has made every field goal he has attempted this year, and he has only missed one extra point on 24 attempts. Let’s not forget that this unit has also recorded a touchdown this year while alternating between three kick and punt returners.
In all facets of the game, the Arizona Cardinals have proven they are one of the best teams in the league. The defense is able to stop people from scoring, while the offense has put up an insurmountable amount of points through the first five weeks of play. The all-around excellent offense, defense, and special teams make the Arizona Cardinals one of the best teams in the NFL.
We are about two weeks into the beginning of the NFL Preseason, and there have already been a slew of signings, injuries, and trades that have greatly altered the potential playoff field. That being said, it is time to get serious and to use the preseason action to make egregious playoff predictions for the NFC
We are about two weeks into the beginning of the NFL Preseason, and there have already been a slew of signings, injuries, and trades that have greatly altered the potential playoff field. That being said, it is time to get serious and to use the preseason action to make egregious playoff predictions for the NFC and AFC this upcoming season.
AFC Playoff Teams
1. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts will always go far behind Andrew Luck, I mean the guy has been a perennial playoff quarterback since he entered the league. I also like the fact that the Colts get fluff games against the Titans and Jaguars twice, as well as the benefits of playing against the NFC South this season. I think Luck is really going to step his game up another level this year and will eventually end up bringing home-field advantage to Lucas Oil Stadium. The true test for this team though will be how they matchup against the New England Patriots if they have to meet in the postseason.
2. New England Patriots
Even with Brady out for a number of games, the Patriots are still well-disciplined organization that will be able to win without the Golden Boy’s presence. New England still will finish the season with the best coach, quarterback, and tight end in professional football today, which will help them recover from the stumble out of the gate that is the Tom Brady suspension. New England might win back-to-back Super Bowls here people.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers could’ve won the Super Bowl last year if Le’Veon Bell had been healthy for the playoffs. However, the past is the past, and the prospects for a championship in Pittsburgh are the highest they have been in years. The Steelers have been spending the last few season bringing in new weapons on the defensive side of the ball, and I think this is the year the it finally manifests itself into a top ten defense. With Big Ben finally getting paid also, the Steelers are sitting pretty and are my dark horse candidate to win the Golden Super Bowl.
4. Denver Broncos
I think the Broncos are a playoff team this year, but I also think this will be the last year of elite play we should expect from Peyton Manning. He will always be the smartest quarterback on the field, but I don’t believe his body can take the wear-and-tear of two more full NFL seasons. The receiving core will still be strong, even without Julius Thomas. However, the defense will have to step up in a bigger way than previous years and will really have to get after the quarterback even more than they had in previous years.
5. Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill has progressed amazingly as a quarterback in this league from 2012 to now. He has steadily become a better passer statistically and in general since entering the league. Not to mention, the defensive line has become one of the NFL’s best with the addition of Suh in the middle. With Brady out for the first four games possibly, I could see the Dolphins being undefeated a quarter of the way into the season.
6. Houston Texans
This is a tough choice because a few teams could have been put here. However, none of them are as fascinating as the Texans. The Texans have almost every possible position working in their favor except for Quarterback. Enter a veteran like Brian Hoyer, and suddenly this average team gets the extra win or two it needs to make it to the postseason. With a defense like that as well as a player like JJ Watt, the Texans may be a shoe-in for a wild card spot. They just need to steal ne game from the Colts in order to get it done.
NFC Playoff Teams
1. Seattle Seahawks
If Jordy Nelson had not torn his ACL, I would’ve anticipated the Green Bay Packers to take home field advantage in the NFC. Without Nelson though, the Packers may drop one or two games, which will be enough for the Seahawks to emerge as the NFC favorites. Getting several key players under contract was necessary. Plus, a big new receiving target like Jimmy Graham will do wonders for this already respectable offense.
2. Green Bay Packers
The Packers may have lost Nelson for the year, but they still have one of the most elite players in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers will be forced to make the most with what he’s got. Beyond the Jordy Nelson problem though, this team is solid at every position across the board. This could be the year the Packers finally get the better of the NFC West in the playoffs.
3. Dallas Cowboys
Yes, I am repeating most of the division winners from last year, but that is because consistency creates the best opportunities to win. The Dallas offensive line, with Tony Romo under center, is one of the most lethal combinations of players in the NFL today. The Cowboys have set up their line to give them long-term dominance in their division. I don’t care who their back is, that guy is going to rush for at least 1000 yards.
4. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons? You better bet. The Falcons have a great set of offensive weapons. The truly deadly pairing of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones will step up and perform like they did back in 2012. The key difference to this team will be defense. I expect Dan Quinn to install an effective system that will allow the Falcons to trounce the other, weaker NFC South teams.
5. Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals are loaded with talent at a variety of positions. The true area in which this team has struggled has been in the health department. Key player after key player went down for the team last year and they were still able to reach the playoffs. I think with a fully healthy Carson Palmer and Andre Ellington, the Cardinals are a lock to make the postseason again.
6. Minnesota Vikings
This has been a rising team for many people coming into the 2015 NFL season. Teddy Bridgewater displayed true NFL quarterbacking talent towards the tail-end of last season and hopes to continue his progression. Factor in the return of Adrian Peterson, and, suddenly, the Minnesota Vikings are one of the most potent offensive teams in the NFL. The defense will need to step up though at key points throughout the season if the Vikings have any hope of making the playoffs.
Derek Carr: This kid has some major upside to him. The Raiders haven't had a franchise quarterback like this since the days of Rich Gannon almost 15 years ago. Twenty-one touchdowns compared to only 12 interceptions as a rookie on the Raiders is remarkable. Give Carr a number one receiver like Amari Cooper and
Derek Carr: This kid has some major upside to him. The Raiders haven’t had a franchise quarterback like this since the days of Rich Gannon almost 15 years ago. Twenty-one touchdowns compared to only 12 interceptions as a rookie on the Raiders is remarkable. Give Carr a number one receiver like Amari Cooper and add on a talent like Michael Crabtree and this kid may throw 28 to 30 touchdowns this year.
Eli Manning: Eli is known for having bounce-back seasons after posting horrendous regular seasons the prior year. After his rookie campaign, Manning upped his touchdown total to 24. Furthermore, after finishing out of the playoffs in 2009, Eli ended the very next season with 31 touchdowns. After a 30-touchdown season without both starting wide receivers, I anticipate Manning will throw upwards of 40 TDs this year.
Ameer Abdullah: Abdullah burst onto the scene this past weekend after Todd Bowles compared him to Barry Sanders. I don’t expect this kid to rush for 2000 yards or make the Hall of Fame, but he is going to be a game-breaking speed back for the Lions like Reggie Bush was a few years ago, and will be a universally used weapon by Detroit.
Shane Vereen: Another New York Giant has made his way onto this list. When you consider that Eli Manning is likely going to have a strong year behind two great wide receivers, it is easy to forget about the new back, even for the defense, which could allow Vereen to slip past the opposition. I predict he will have a number of long touchdown runs this year.
Joseph Randle: Here’s the reality of the situation in Dallas: I don’t expect McFadden to make it through the entire season healthy. Once McFadden goes down, Joseph Randle will step in and fill the running back role. Randle can have 800+ yards this year as well as a bunch of touchdowns for the Dallas rushing attack.
Davante Adams: The playoffs were the place for Adams to shine last year. Now that he has a year under his belt, he is going to have to step up in a big way for the Packers as their third receiver. With Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball, you can be certain he will have some on-the-money touchdown passes to catch.
DeVante Parker: Ryan Tannehill has been steadily improving his game ever since he entered the league in 2012 and he may even be the third-best quarterback from that draft behind Luck and Wilson. With the loss of Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace, Parker will have the opportunity to step up in a big way like Kelvin Benjamin did last season.
John Brown: The second-year receiver has big-game speed and was able to make some fantastic plays for the Cardinals last year, even without Carson Palmer. Fitzgerald is getting up there in age and Floyd has been dealing with injuries the last few years. A full season under his belt will allow this kid to emerge as a legitimate fantasy threat.
Josh Huff: The Eagles have been proving that good receivers are dispensable in their offense. DeSean Jackson has been gone for two years, and now Jeremy Maclin has left too. With kick returning duties as well, I fully anticipate Huff to take on a much bigger offensive role, leading to great fantasy production.
Eddie Royal: Eddie Royal is going to be the lone veteran receiver in a depleted Bears wide receiving core; Brandon Marshall was traded to the Jets and Kevin White will miss significant time due to injury. Royal is going to get a lot of passes thrown his way since Alshon Jeffery will be getting double covered for most of the season. Royal is a truly deep sleeper.
Ladarius Green: Last year was not an impressive season for Green, but today is a new day. Green is going to fill the starting tight end role while Gates is gone, which is going to give him a lot of room to grow as a player. The start of the season will see the emergence of Green as one of the better tight end options in fantasy football today.
Richard Rodgers: Richard Rodgers put up impressive rookie numbers, so look for him to capitalize in his second year. He only saw 30 targets last year because he was splitting time with Andrew Quarless. With Rodgers now starting, I expect him to get upwards of 60 targets this year, and will likely score five or more touchdowns.
Dolphins: The defensive line on this team is going to be absolutely amazing, and they are the third-best line in their own division. Suh and Wake will be like Jared Allen when he played in Minnesota with the Williams brothers. Miami is also returning with most of their secondary intact, so they will be able to force some turnovers, especially against Jet and Bills quarterbacks.
Cowboys: Dallas was good enough to make the playoffs last season, and this year I expect the Dallas defense to actually be a good unit. Greg Hardy, Byron Jones and Randy Gregory are all just a few young players that will bring a new face to this defense. Dallas’ defense will be worth a fantasy pick, if you ask me.
The NFL has gone through a series of controversial off-seasons that have been riddled with accusations of cheating, domestic violence, suspensions and a serious revamping of the player conduct policy. Case after case continues to come forward that further shrouds the NFL in negative attention. That being said, it needs to be understood where the NFL
The NFL has gone through a series of controversial off-seasons that have been riddled with accusations of cheating, domestic violence, suspensions and a serious revamping of the player conduct policy. Case after case continues to come forward that further shrouds the NFL in negative attention. That being said, it needs to be understood where the NFL stands from a social standpoint, and from a product standpoint, because the two differ greatly.
Socially speaking, the NFL may never be in a worse place than it is now. The list of controversies goes on and on: domestic violence, deflategate, spygate, bountygate, Greg Hardy, Ray Rice. These are just a few of the most outstanding examples of improper conduct put forward by the NFL. Not to mention, Roger Goodell has looked like a completely misguided leader by focusing his efforts on inflating footballs rather than trying to establish a simple punishment system that will make players never even think about laying a finger on their wives or girlfriends.
Also, the league is receiving intense resistance from multiple groups surrounding the short suspension of Ray Rice and the Redskins’ name. On top of this the NFL is currently dealing with a class-action suit brought against the league by former players. Think about that if you’re just an average person trying to choose a league to be a fan of: some of the best players in the game’s history are suing the league because it doesn’t take care of its players properly.
Needless to say, from a public eye, the NFL is beginning to drift away from integrity. The NFL has been generally tainted in the public eye in a way that will take years of damage-control to fix. That being said, the product is impeccable, and that’s what saves the league and makes it America’s sport.
The NFL may struggle from a public perspective, but the key to the success of the league is that it has gained more fans than it has lost and retained the great majority of its existing fan base. Fans of the NFL are simply too captivated by the on-field product to let the social hits the league has taken actually deter their viewership. In fact, since 1990, Super Bowl viewership has increased 17 different times when compared to the number of viewers from the years prior, according to statista.com.
The regular season is also filled with the drama of broken records and career accolades. Peyton Manning broke the single-season and career record for passing touchdowns in back-to-back seasons, which completely distracts from other amazing players and feats. JJ Watt, a defensive player, was ranked as the best player in the league by his peers, which is astounding because Chiefs’ linebacker Justin Houston was one sack away from breaking the record for a season with 23.
Rodgers and Brady continue to set new quarterbacking standards while the athletic boundaries of NFL players continue to be surpassed by the likes of Dez Bryant, Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson. It is clear that the NFL has never seen a better level of athleticism or play in its 90-year history, which allows the league to continue to stand tall as the most patriotic sport this country has to offer.
The NFL is at a complicated crossroads. The growth of the league has led to the NFL being the main source of sports entertainment for most of America, which means all of the warts and negative aspects of the league have been prominently put on display. The state of the NFL is not good right now. The league looks somewhat foolish and the public has lost plenty of respect for the integrity of the game. However, it is undeniable that the football being played is the best that has ever been seen, and that looks to be enough to fight back public controversies… for now.