AFC South Grades

By Tim Couch Jr.

The days we’ve been waiting for all off season has come and gone. We sat in front of the television, everybody waiting until their teams picked. Either you liked the pick or you didn’t. Its all about did they fill their needs.

Jaguars

Needs: OL, TE, RB, DL, QB

1st round pick 4: Leonard Fournette; Running Back Louisiana State University A+

2nd Round pick 34: (From Seahawks through 49ers) Cam Robinson Offense Tackle Alabama B+

3rd Round pick 68: Dawuane Smoot Defense End Illinois C+

4th round pick 110: Dede Westbrook Wide Receiver Oklahoma B-

5th round pick 148:  Blair Brown Line backer Ohio B

7th round pick 222: Jalen Myrick Corner Back Minnesota C-

7th round pick 240: (From Dolphins) Marquez Williams Full Back Miami (Ohio) B

Overall Grade: B

Texans

Needs: QB, OL, LB, S, CB

Round 1 pick 12: (From Browns through Eagles) Deshaun Watson Quarterback  Clemson A+

Round 2 pick 57: Zach Cunningham Line Backer Vanderbilt A

Round 3 pick 89: D’Onta Foreman Running Back Texas B

Round 4 pick 130: Julie’n Davenport Offensive Tackle Bucknell C+

Round 5 pick 142: Carlos Watkins Defensive Tackle Clemson C

Round 6 pick 169: Treston Decoud Safety Oregon State D

Round 7 pick 243: Kyle Fuller Center D

Overall Grade B+

Colts

Needs: OL, DL, RB, LB, CB

Round 1 pick  15: Malik Hooker Safety Ohio State A

Round 2 pick 46: Quincy Wilson Corner Back Florida A

Round 3 pick 80: Tarell Basham Defensive End Ohio B

Round 4 pick 137: Zach Banner Offensive Tackle  University Of Southern California B

Round 4 pick 143:  Marlon Mack Running Back  South Florida C

Round 4 pick 144:  Grover Stewart Defensive Tackle Albany St. (Georgia) D

Round 5 pick 158:  Nate Hairston Corner Back Temple D

Round 5 pick 161: (From 49ers through Redskins)  Anthony Walker Jr. Line Backer NorthWestern D

Overall Grade C-

Titans

Needs: CB, WR, LB, OL

Round 1 pick 5: (From Rams)  Corey Davis Wide Receiver Western Michigan B

Round 1 pick 18:  Adoree’ Jackson Corner Back University of Southern California A+

Round 3 pick 72: (From Patriots through Panthers)  Taywan Taylor Wide Receiver  Western Kentucky B

Round 3 pick  100:  Jonnu Smith Tight End Florida International C

Round 5 pick 155: (From Eagles)  Jayon Brown Line Backer  University of California Los Angeles B

Round 6 pick  217:  Corey Levin Offensive Line  Tennessee-Chattanooga D

Round 7 pick  227:  Josh Carraway Outside Line Backer Texas Christan University C

Round 7 pick  236:  Brad Seaton Offensive Tackle  Villanova D

Round 7 pick 241:  Khalfani Muhammad Running Back California C

 Overall Grade B-

SUPER PREDICTION

BY LAWRENCE EDWARDS

Here we are just three days away from Super Bowl LI with the New England Patriots taking on the Atlanta Falcons. This matchup should be one of the better Super Bowls we’ve seen in a while. The Falcons and Patriots rank #1 and #3, respectively, on offense coming into this game and #1 and #2 in passing yards per game. On the flip side New England ranks #4 in total defense and #4 against the run and they boasted the leagues #1 scoring defense for much of this season. The defensive side of the ball is where Atlanta comes up short. Their best defender is second year man Vic Beasley who has had an outstanding season for Atlanta, finishing with a league leading 15.5 sacks but Atlanta is vulnerable to the run.

HOW NEW ENGLAND WINS:

The Patriots best chance of winning this game is to lean on the bulldozing Legarrette Blount. Tom Brady does have an assembly of play makers in Marttellus Bennett, Chris Hogan, Dion Lewis and Julian Edleman, but Blount should be the X-factor to get Tom Brady his 5th ring. The Atlanta Falcons offense is potent and deadly and if not held in check they can put the game out of reach in a hurry. Matt Ryan is playing like a man possessed and seems like he is on a mission to not let anything stand in his way. The Patriots can limit his damage and time on the field by using Blount to pound the rock early and often to keep the clock churning and Matt Ryan on the sideline as long as possible. If they do successfully run the ball to keep Matt off the field then the Pats will have to score TD’s and not settle for field goals, they can’t make it easy for Matt and that offense, controlling the clock and scoring will put pressure on the Atlanta offense to put up points and could force mistakes and slow down their offense. The Patriots defense has been praised all year but the test they face this Sunday is unlike any other they have face all season. The Falcons have many weapons that can sting you if you dedicate too much attention to one so keeping everything if front of them and playing a relatively mistake free game is key for the Patriots defense, they can’t afford to get called for holding penalties and PI all game trying to cover Julio and company. Pound the ball down their throats, keep Matt and the offense on the sideline… However, that’s easier said than done

HOW ATLANTA WINS:

For years Matt Ryan was criticized and frowned upon for being just another average QB who gets to the playoffs but with little success after that. Fast forward to the 2016 season and this Matt Ryan looks like a completely new man. He had an MVP worthy season and his best season, by a mile, as a pro in 2016. He finished with career bests; completion percentage: 69%, passing yards: 4,944, average yards per attempt: 9.26 TD’s: 38, INT: 7, and QBR: 83.1 and he has to thank the fact that he has a plethora of weapons around him. The Falcons can come out of this game victorious if they just continue to play the way they have been playing, and that’s getting everyone involved. Julio Jones is still the man on that Atlanta offense but the difference now is, if you focus all your attention on taking Julio out the game (which is almost impossible) then Taylor Gabriel, Mohammed Sanu, Devonta Freeman, and Tevin Coleman will make you pay for that mistake. Atlanta’s offense, I’m sure, gives opposing defensive coordinators nightmares and keeps them awake at night. There are just too many play makers on that offense to game plan against. In this game the Falcons defense will have to step up and get off the field, they cannot let the Patriots control the clock and keep this offense on the sideline. Vic Beasley must make life hell for Tom Brady but first they need to keep the running game in check and not give up big gains on the ground. Atlanta can use the same approach to control the clock because Brady can and will sling it, if he is forced into a shootout with Atlanta but ATL’s offense might be too potent to keep up with. The Falcons have not one but two running backs who are deadly dual threats coming out of the backfield, what success they don’t find running the ball they can find catching short passes and turning them into big time plays. The Falcons will have tough test going up against the leagues #1 scoring defense and 4th ranked running defense but New England hasn’t faced an offense like this all season so something has to give.

Matt Ryan is determined to get the monkey off his back this season and find post season bliss but Tom Brady has been here before and will his all to get his 5th and stop Ryan from getting his first. However, I think New England’s defense finally sees an offense that is just too much for them to match up with forcing Brady into a shootout in Houston. And if that’s the case, then I see Matt Ryan and Atlanta winning this game by no more than a TD in a high scoring game, with at least 65 points combined between the two teams.

Final Prediction: Ranking the 25 best logos in the history of the NFL | For The Win 30  Pics Photos - Atlanta Falcons Logo 35

Bragging Rights: The Dallas Cowboys season ended, but the World did not.

William Stevenson

*Music accompaniment: “When It’s Over” by Sugar Ray*

So it’s all over. No more positive memes, “We can beat anybody”, or any other fanatic rhetoric that takes place when your team is in the playoffs. There is no solace or perspective to be had when your team is on the losing end of a playoff loss. Most adversaries come from fans whose teams watched the playoffs as we all did. We spend so much time fighting off the “L’s” and trolling that we don’t take the time to look back at the season for any positive reflection. Only one team can be crowned champion at the end of the year, and with the NFL having a one-and-done playoff scenario, there can be no off-games.

In the case of the Dallas Cowboys, we fully expected them to make it to the NFC Title Game at the least. The Cowboys were having a dream season in which their rookie quarterback and running back were surpassing the expectations that most rookies would have on a high-profiled team. After Tony Romo went down early, Dak Prescott was looked at to be the “Alex Smith” or “Chad Pennington” for the Cowboys offense. The offensive line took control as the Cowboys wore down defenses week in and week out behind the running of rookie Ezekiel Elliot. Things were riding high with each win, but the question remained, “Can Prescott and the offense pass their way out when the time comes?” With each 17 for 25, 221 yard game, the rumblings of Tony Romo echoed throughout the media as Dez Bryant was relegated to an average receiver by his standards, but the Cowboys kept on winning. Overshadowed by the glamour positions was the Cowboys defense. During the offseason and training camp, the defensive front-seven was plagued by injuries and suspensions. With a secondary that was lacking playmaplaymakers, it was felt the defense would struggle mightily. With an offense that was run-based and efficient with protecting the ball, the defense was able to pin their ears back and not be put in positions to always have to cause turnovers to be effective. Even when the Cowboys gave the fans and media wins, there seemed to be a longing for more; which would be a high octane passing game. Against the Packers, the Cowboys showed their true promise. They were tested like we all thought they would be, and they were in the perfect position to prove all of the doubters to be wrong. I suppose we can nit-pick the decision to clock the ball on first down, or go man coverage on those final defensive drives; But Why? It was a hard fought game between these two games and Aaron Rodgers and their offense won it in the end on a pass that seemed improbable to complete at that point in time. Just as Eli Manning’s pass to Mario Manningham down the sideline against the Patriots or the muffed punt by 49ers return guy against the Giants: Sometimes the other team beats you and there’s not too much you can do about it.

We know the playoff numbers, we know the Divisional Playoff record when having a bye, and we know the heartbreaking losses the Cowboys have suffered over the past few years. So what’s next? A healthy Dez Bryant would be refreshing. A dominant offensive line seems to be in order for next year as well. The receiving core is in tact, and all fans are expecting the playbook to become more explosive as Prescott adds reps and this season’s experience to his repertoire. What about Jerry Jones? Jones is, and will be the wildcard for this franchise. Will he and the fanbase be happy with this year instead of focusing on the results? Will they be inclined to build their defense through the draft or will they put that “Cowboys Glitter” on the free agent market? Only time will tell, but time has told us that the NFL waits for no one team. For every Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots, there’s a Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinal season lurking around the corner.

Hey Cowboys fan, be happy. Be happy that for the first time in a few years the quarterback position has upside instead on injury risk. Be happy that the running back isn’t a late-twenties free-agent to be. Be happy the defense isn’t aging and can improve. Be happy you aren’t the Giants and have an aging quarterback or a coach with a porn-stache. Be happy you aren’t the Eagles and are trying to replace player personnel that was wrecked by the previous regime. Be happy you aren’t the Washington franchise and have to pay your average quarterback 20+ million a year, or have a coach the still seems like he doesn’t grasp post-game interviews.

What I’m really saying is: Be happy you did better than the Giants, Eagles, and Washington. That’s what you wanted right? Bragging rights.

Atlanta Chokers

By Melvin Jackson III

I have never believed in “Matty Ice” or the Falcons ever. They seem to always mess up when its time to get it done. Stephen A. Smith need to start calling them the “accident waiting to happen” as well because that’s exact;y what they are. Last season they started out 6-0 and then lost 6 straight and ended up out of the playoffs. They lose because of poor defense and poor play by Matty Ice.

This season they flipped the script so far. They are playing medicore defense and the offense is high powered. They are the number one offense in the league and they can put up points even if Julio Jones doesn’t play or isn’t involved in the game.

I love the Falcons running back duo with Freeman and c]Coleman. They both run hard and they both have a knack for getting the extra yards. I also like the pick up of Gabriel and Sanu. I think those are quality receivers and also Sanu is another big body next to Julio. The weakest links on the team are the offensive line and the TE position.

This week they play the Seahawks, who I am not impressed with when they play on the road. I think the falcons will find a way to choke this game away and go one and done. They did it in 2012 and they will do it again this season. The magic stops this weekend because the Seattle defense will show up and slow down that offense. Seattle wins 21-17 in a fun and tight game.

 

Steelers vs Chiefs: Your Ultimate Playoff Preview Guide

By: Will Stevenson

FAIRY-TALE ENDINGS?

Once upon a time Mike Tomlin and the Steelers couldn’t get out of the stadium as they were slaughtered  early on in the regular season. I even remember the Chiefs laying a complete egg against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers late in the season; I suppose those didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things as both are among the final eight fighting for the Vince Lombardi trophy.

THE RUNDOWN

The Steelers come in 12-5 after last week’s preseason game against the Miami Dolphins. Head Coach Mike Tomlin is 4-2 against the Chiefs while Head Coach Andy Reid is 3-4 against the Steelers. Tomlin is 1-1 in Superbowls and has a 7-5 record in the playoffs while Reid is 0-1 and 11-11 in his postseason career. The last time the Steelers and Chiefs played was back in October, as the Steelers mollywopped the Chiefs 43-14 at home. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 300 yards, 5 touchdowns and Defensive End Cameron Heyward had 3 sacks. No fret for the Chiefs as they defeated the Steelers in Kansas City in 2015, 23-13. This will be the second all-time meeting between these two teams in the playoffs as their last meeting was in 1994, which resulted in a Chiefs overtime victory, 27-24.

STEELERS OFFENSE STEAMROLLING OPPONENTS

The Steelers roll in to Kansas City with their Big-Three tandem of Big Ben, Le’veon Bell and Antonio Brown hitting on all cylinders. Big Ben sports a 12-6 playoff record which is tied for 5th all-time by starting Quarterbacks with a minimum of 15 starts. The big issue for the Chiefs will be stopping Le’Veon Bell. Bell has rushed for 1,002 yards (143.1 per game) and 8 touchdowns in his past 7 games. With Bell being suspended his first 4 games of the regular season, he’s sure to be fresh for this continuing playoff run. Wide Receiver Antonio Brown became the first player with 2 touchdown catches of 50 plus yards in a playoff game since Randy Moss in 2001, and has amassed three straight postseason games with 100 plus yards.

NO STEEL-CURTAIN YET, BUT MAYBE STEEL-DRAPES FOR NOW

On the defensive side of the ball, the Steelers linebacker unit has been applying the pressure to opposing offenses. Linebacker James Harrison had 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble last week against the Dolphins at age 38. Linebacker Lawrence Timmons led the team with 14 tackles and 2 sacks against the Dolphins, and Linebacker Ryan Shazier had an interception.

AGAIN WITH THIS ALEX SMITH STUFF

The Kansas City Chiefs have the best regular season record over the past two years, but that hasn’t translated into much over the past few playoff runs as their offense sputters to produce, and when it does, their defense falters on the back-end. Quarterback Alex Smith can do two things: Run on third down to get a first down, and check it down to Travis Kelce. The Chiefs have a two-headed backfield as Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West aim to crack the Pittsburgh defense. I’d talk about the Chiefs receivers, but why should I? The only hope the Chiefs is return-specialist Tyreek Hill. Hill has 6 receiving touchdowns, 3 rushing touchdowns, 2 punt return touchdowns and 1 kick return for a touchdown. Honestly, that’s pretty much it; Get Kelce and Tyreek Hill the ball, because we know “Checkdown Charlie” is sure to make this game as boring as possible.

CHIEFS D PULLING CURTAINS

The Chiefs defense is led by Safety Eric Berry, Linebackers Justin Houston, Dee Ford and Tamba Hali. Forcing turnovers and keeping the Steelers Big Three under wraps is something Cornerback Marcus Peters is looking forward to doing.

I have no idea about this game. You would assume the Steelers offense will fly high against the Chiefs, and there’s no way Kansas City will once again disappoint its home fans again in Arrowhead. Surprises anyone?

Seahawks vs Falcons: Your Ultimate Playoff Preview Guide

By: Will Stevenson

A PLACE FOR FRAUDS

On one hand we have a team that is offensively inconsistent and on the other hand, we have a team that has been a fraud since I was a middle-schooler. I don’t particularly believe in any of these two teams, but being in the Divisional Playoffs is more than the other 24 teams in the NFL. The Falcons under Dan Quinn have been on fire offensively this season while the Seahawks have been up and down for most of this season.

BATTLE OF THE BIRDS

As for the tale of the tape, the Seahawks and Falcons met earlier in the regular season back in Week 6. The Seahawks won at home, 26-24 as Running Back Christine Michael (not with the team anymore) scored 2 touchdowns. The last time these two teams met in the playoffs, the Falcons won on a game-winning field goal. Looking at the trend, this game will be tight until the fourth quarter, we can only hope.

BIRDS OF PREY

I confess, as a former Atlanta Falcon, I have watched as they have dragged my sports heart through the mud, each and every time they enter the playoffs. For some reason, the Falcons have been fraudulent throughout their playoff career. Anyway, their offense is averaging 33 ppg this year as Matt Ryan seems to have entered the *speaks whisperly* “Elite” category. Matt Ryan is accompanied by Running Backs Devonte Parker and Tevin Coleman, and a Wide Receiving corp Mohamed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel and anchored by Julio Jones. As a former assistant with the Seahawks, Head Coach Dan Quinn faces off against his former team in his postseason debut. A bright spot for the Falcons would be Vic Beasley, who led the NFL with 15.5 sacks this season, and has had 6 sacks and 2 forced fumbles in the last 6 home games.

HOW DO THE SEAHAWKS DO IT

The Seahawks are led by Quarterback Russell Wilson who is 8-3 in 11 career postseason starts with a QBR (Quarterback Rating) of 95.9. Wilson has many wins as a starter, but will that matter much as their offense has sputtered in spots throughout the season. Wilson needs help from his running game led by Thomas Rawls who rushed for a franchise postseason-record 161 yards last week against the Lions. The Seahawks don’t have the household names at Wide Receiver, but believe the Falcons secondary will remember Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse. Doug Baldwin is an excellent pass catcher, route runner, third down conversionist and touchdown maker. If Baldwin, Kearse and Jimmy Graham can all be involved and effective at the same time, then the Seahawks offense will be hard to stop.

A LEGION OF HOPEFULLY SOON

Since the injury of Safety Earl Thomas, the Seahawks rank 30th in defense. The Seahawks have the names, but there play on the field has deteriorated over the past weeks, especially with their rushing defense.

FINAL THOUGHTS

We have a team that is rolling offensively, versus a team that is struggling with rushing and passing defense. We have a team that has been a fraud in the playoffs versus a team that seems to rise to the occasion.

As with the Chiefs, will the Falcons finally Rise Up?