NFL Quarterly Report: Wake Me Up When September Ends

Posted by Jack Tumen

Gregory Shamus

Gregory Shamus

Believe it or not, the NFL season is 25% complete. After the first month of play, it’s time to hand out some awards and evaluate who’s up and who’s down.

All-First Quarter Team: Through the first four games, there are some clear standouts. Players that sat out on the week four bye are eliminated from consideration, so keep in mind that these stats will only reflect players who started all four September games. Consider this a fantasy team of sorts.

QB – Philip Rivers: The savvy gunslinger completed 70.1% of his passes in September, only behind Drew Brees. His 1,155 passing yards were good for sixth while his 8.43 yards per attempt led all QBs. He and Aaron Rodgers are the only passers to own a 9:1 touchdown-interception ratio this season. Most importantly, he’s led his team to a 3-1 start while taking down the defending champs in the process. Rivers has been revived.

RB – DeMarco Murray: This Cowboy is currently on pace for 2,408 yards and 20 touchdowns; 303 more yards than Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record. His 99 rushing attempts lead the league as Dallas is truly committed to running the ball behind that stout offensive line. 534 rushing yards through four games is pretty unheard of. Murray is clearly the best back in football.

WR – Antonio Brown: With his 7/131/2 performance on Sunday, Brown completed his 20th consecutive game with at least five catches and 50 receiving yards – an NFL record. He’s tied for first with five receiving touchdowns and is fourth with 427 yards. Out of all the top wideouts in the league, Brown is the only guy without a proven compliment playing across from him, making the volume of his production that much more impressive. He’s clearly the top option in Pittsburgh’s offense and is one of the best weapons in the league.

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

WR – Jordy Nelson: He leads the league in receptions and yards. Even with the dangerous Randall Cobb playing across from him, Nelson continues to be the favorite target of Aaron Rodgers. He won’t be slowing down any time soon.

TE – Martellus Bennett: It’s easy to go with Jimmy Graham here; he leads all tight ends with receptions and yards and is clearly the top weapon for New Orleans. But what makes Bennett so impressive is the fact that he’s really the fourth best offensive option for Chicago behind Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte. Bennett has one more touchdown than Graham and has been unstoppable in the red zone. For a journeyman, he’s doing quite well for himself.

O-Line – Bengals: This is the only bye week exception I’m making in this post. It’s noteworthy that Andy Dalton has been sacked zero times through his first three games. Every other team has surrendered at least three sacks thus far.

K – Dan Bailey: He hasn’t missed a kick in his last 29 attempts, a Cowboys’ record. Kickers like Bailey are hard to come by. He’s the definition of automatic.

Front Seven – Jets: Despite being 1-3, the Jets allow the fewest rushing yards in the NFL and lead the league in sacks with 14. They’re undeniably elite.

Secondary – None: There haven’t been any shutdown secondaries through the first four games; you can pretty much throw the ball on anyone. The Patriots allow the fewest passing yards per game, but after Monday’s performance, that stat is pretty fluky. Detroit’s notable as well.

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Offensive ROY – Kelvin Benjamin: The former Seminole is a top-10 receiver through the first quarter of the season, amassing 329 yards and three TDs. He’s a matchup nightmare for defenses and is clearly the best offensive weapon for the Panthers right now; and yes, by that I mean better than Cam Newton.

Defensive ROY – Kyle Fuller: He’s currently tied for a league-high three interceptions and has forced two fumbles. His football instincts are off the charts and his presence is huge for a reeling Chicago secondary. Fuller is a star in the making.

Breakout Player – Larry Donnell: The Giants once again produce a quality tight end that no one has ever heard of before. Donnell’s three touchdown performance last Thursday put him squarely on the map. He’s currently top-10 in receptions league-wide and should become Eli’s security blanket going forward.

Surprise Teams – San Diego, Dallas and Houston: The Chargers are the hottest team in football right now and it’s fun watching Philip Rivers slice up defenses week in and week out. Mike McCoy has done a great job of turning around Rivers’ career just as it was tailing off; The Cowboys’ defense has held up much better than most anticipated. After they stifled Drew Brees in primetime, you have to imagine that if they play decently, their offense can ultimately act as the defense. I mention Houston mainly because of record. Their schedule is pathetically easy but they could be a problem for the Colts in that division as Houston takes care of it’s patty-cake opponents.

Letdown Teams – The Entire NFC South + New England: Atlanta is predictably 2-2 with a great offense and shoddy defense. Carolina’s offense continues to sputter and its defense just isn’t the same elite unit it was a year ago. Tampa Bay finally clawed out its first win but I thought this Lovie Smith team would be better; Mike Glennon is clearly the better option at quarterback. But the Saints – what is going on with the Saints, man? I still believe in Drew Brees but the fact that they couldn’t figure out the Cowboy’s swiss-cheese defense is disturbing. As for the Patriots, that Logan Mankins trade may turn out to be the move that ended the Brady-Belichick era

League MVP – DeMarco Murray: Now that he’s finally staying healthy for an extended period of time (knock on wood) we’re finally being treated to the “real” DeMarco. This kid is one special player and the Cowboys are doing a great job of featuring him on offense even with guys like Dez Bryant and Jason Witten around. With that offensive line bullying its opponents, it’ll be fun to kick back and watch DeMarco run wild. No player means more to his team’s success right now than Murray.

We’ll reassess again at halftime.

Coming Up: Week 5 Picks

Jacked Up Picks: Week 4

Posted by Jack Tumen

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

I bounced back nicely last weekend, going 10-6 in my picks. That puts me at 17-15 on the season. I’ll try to keep the hot streak going into week four.

Bye Week: Cardinals (3-0), Bengals (3-0), Browns (1-2), Broncos (2-1), Rams (1-2), Seahawks (2-1)

Giants (1-2) @ Redskins (1-2): We’ve got another Thursday night thriller on our hands…The Giants’ offense finally got going last Sunday against the Clowney-less Texans. Washington’s answer at quarterback has been under its nose since the season began; Kirk Cousins is ready to run with this job and never look back. He’s got another plus matchup against New York’s 22nd-ranked defense.

WAS 29, NYG 19

Bills (2-1) @ Texans (2-1): Both teams are coming off their first losses of the season. Buffalo’s a grittier team than most initially thought. Houston allowed one of the league’s most anemic offenses to get going on them. I’m giving Buffalo the edge against a defense that allowed Rashad Jennings to rush for 176 yards on them. Neither team will likely finish above .500.

BUF 24, HOU 20

Panthers (2-1) @ Ravens (2-1): This is a fairly even matchup. Carolina finally looked like the team I predicted them to be this season, struggling to move the ball while Cam took multiple shots behind that patchwork offensive line. Baltimore managed to squeeze out a dub against the upstart Browns. Losing Dennis Pitta puts a major damper on Baltimore’s plans, but the Ravens are simply the better team.

BAL 26, CAR 18

Packers (1-2) @ Bears (2-1): What happened to Green Bay’s offense? The Packers could only scrounge up seven points against Detroit and people are starting to scratch their cheese heads. Chicago’s defense made enough plays to secure a “W” versus the Jets but their offense wasn’t exactly spectacular. This is a classic rivalry that always produces a good game. I’m taking the Packers to get back on track.

GB 28, CHI 24

Lions (2-1) @ Jets (1-2): Through three weeks of play, Detroit and New York are the league’s two best defenses. Both teams put up 19 points last weekend and struggled to find consistency on offense. Both quarterbacks threw two picks against below-average secondaries. It’s not gonna be a pretty game but I’m standing behind the Jets to tough it out at home.

NYJ 26, DET 23

Titans (1-2) @ Colts (1-2): Tennessee couldn’t stop a nose bleed against the Bengals. Andrew Luck remembered how to win to the tune of 31/39, 370 yards and 4 TDs. Indy’s defense isn’t exactly stellar; but in this matchup of top-10 QBs, it’s not hard to figure out which one is the superior passer.

IND 27, TEN 13

Dolphins (1-2) @ Raiders (0-3) [Game in London]: There’s been rumblings this week about Ryan Tannehill’s job security, followed by Joe Philbin’s; just as I predicted. Oakland somehow managed to hang around with the Patriots and if it weren’t for a highly questionable holding call, the Raiders had the tie and then who knows what. Amidst the turmoil, I’m taking Derek Carr to lead Oakland to its first victory in what will be the beginning of the end for Miami. They’re still winless in America, though.

OAK 17, MIA 13

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Buccaneers (0-3) @ Steelers (2-1): This has “trap game” written all over it. Tampa Bay is coming off 10 days rest and should be getting back Doug Martin and Gerald McCoy. Mike Glennon will get the start and has much more chemistry with Vincent Jackson from a year ago than Josh McCown has been able to find this year. On top of that, Pittsburgh is reeling on defense, losing Ryan Shazier, Jarvis Jones and Ike Taylor to multi-week injuries. For that reason, James Harrison is back in town but I don’t think that will be much of a factor. The Bucs get on the board after last week’s embarrassing loss.

TB 24, PIT 21

Jaguars (0-3) @ Chargers (2-1): San Diego overcame a long trip out east to hand Buffalo its first loss. We finally saw Blake Bortles get his first taste of NFL action in relief of Chad Henne. Jacksonville is now the team making the long trip to the west coast and they don’t have a favorable matchup against a top-10 defense. Jacksonville shouldn’t be this bad for much longer but the Jaguars won’t find their first win in SoCal.

SD 30, JAX 13

Falcons (2-1) @ Vikings (1-2): Don’t expect a repeat performance of Atlanta’s 56-point thrashing of the Bucs from last Thursday. Minnesota’s defense ranks 11th in the league and they’ll be giving Matt Ryan and co. a run for their money. With Matt Cassel headed to I.R., Teddy Bridgewater will make his first NFL start and has a favorable matchup against Atlanta’s 27th ranked defense. Just when we think we know who the Falcons are…we don’t.

MIN 25, ATL 22

Eagles (3-0) @ 49ers (1-2): This is where things get interesting. I nailed my 49ers pick last week, giving them 14 points in a divisional loss against Arizona. They’ve now dropped two in a row; albeit to two good teams. Philly came back from double-digit deficits in each of their first three games to start the season. The Eagles are flying high but with a decimated offensive line, this is where the 9ers make their move. I’ve picked against Philly for two straight weeks – they’re bound to lose eventually, right?

SF 27, PHI 24

Saints (1-2) @ Cowboys (2-1): The Saints can finally take a breath after securing their first victory. Tony Romo had to win a shootout with Austin Davis. Morris Claiborne stormed out of the team facility this week after being demoted and publicly doubted by Jerry Jones. Drew Brees is licking his chops at this primetime matchup.

NO 34, DAL 21

Patriots (2-1) @ Chiefs (1-2): The Patriots played down to the Raiders at home and should really be more embarrassed than anything. Kansas City found its offense on the road against a fairly good defense. The Chiefs have one of the best home crowds in football and it’ll be a massive advantage on Monday night. That said, I’m taking Tom Brady to make it work with some help from his third ranked defense.

NE 20, KC 16

Next week: Game Picks + Quarterly Report

Why Thursday Night Football Is A Failure

Posted by Jack Tumen

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

When was the last time you can remember watching a really good Thursday Night Football game?

Oh, um, never? That’s not surprising. “TNF” has never been an exciting event on a weekly basis. Even after eight years of it, it’s still weird watching football on a Thursday night.

The league tried to bring “TNF” to the next level this season. After years of broadcasting the game on NFL Network, a big-time cable network finally acquired the broadcasting rights for the Thursday night package. There’s no doubt, the NFL on CBS is a top-notch production and it’s much more appealing to watch a game on CBS than on NFL Network. Naturally, the ratings will increase because of this change as the league looks for an excuse to continue pushing the package.

But as an avid football fan – unless it’s your team that’s playing – it’s hard to get pumped for a Thursday night game. Yes, you’re always going to watch because it’s primetime football; but it’s not a quality product.

The NFL is a long, grueling season. Teams only play once a week for a reason; players need to rest their bodies in order to stay healthy. It takes a full week in order to prepare for an opponent – game planning, film studying and especially healing. Playing an NFL game on four days rest completely negates all of that valuable preparation time.

That was more than apparent in Thursday night’s catastrophe. That was the kind of game that people get fired for. Tampa Bay was missing two of it’s best players in Doug Martin and Gerald McCoy – three more days of rest and both of those guys are probably playing on Sunday. But in these Thursday night games, the better team is always going to win. It completely defeats the purpose of “any given Sunday.”

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Now, I’m not trying to defend the Bucs in any way, shape or form – they played like fucking shit. But I do believe that the score would have been less lopsided had this game been played on Sunday.

On top of all that, “TNF” makes the week go wayyy faster than it should. Part of being a football fan is appreciating the scarcity of the game and looking forward to Sundays. Monday Night Football ends and all of a sudden, Thursday Night Football kicks off the next week of games and I’m like hooooold on there cowboy. Monday Night Football is a true tradition. One less day of rest doesn’t change that much. Players look forward to Monday Night Football – I doubt they say the same about Thursdays. The only other non-Sunday or Monday game that should ever be played is on Thanksgiving. That’s it. Kapish?

Through two weeks, we’ve seen two uninspiring blowouts on Thursday Night Football. There’s nothing that leads me to believe that the quality of play will ever improve on a Thursday night game. I mean, really, when was the last time you remember watching a really good Thursday Night Football game?

Jacked Up Picks: Week 3

Posted by Jack Tumen

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Another fascinating weekend of NFL games. Basically the entire league is 1-1 which is great for competition in the standings from week to week. I went 7-9 on my picks last week; not great, but I’m looking to bounce back in week three.

Buccaneers @ Falcons: Tampa Bay has been playing down to its competition through the first two weeks of play. Out of a Lovie-Smith-coached team, I expect better. They lost on a stupid 10-second runoff to the hapless Rams that started Austin Davis at quarterback. Atlanta looked lost in Cinci, but they’ve never been a good road team. The Falcons get it done under the dome on Thursday night. Josh McCown’s best football is behind him.

ATL 26, TB 20

Chargers @ Bills: San Diego just set the blueprint for how to beat the best team in the world; control the ball for 45+ minutes of the game. The Bills are currently atop the AFC East standings at 2-0. How much longer will that last? I’ll give it another week. I’m a firm believer in the big game hangover and San Diego is primed for a let down against a sneaky-good Bills defense. Playing at 1 PM on the east coast is a perennial challenge for west coast teams as well.

BUF 20, SD 16

Ravens @ Browns: Cleveland pulled a stunner at home, dropping the Saints to 0-2 while securing the first win of the Mike Pettine era. Baltimore showed that it can still focus on playing Ravenesque football even in the midst of the biggest media crisis in recent memory. Baltimore’s defense isn’t as porous as NOLA’s and I expect it to be business as usual for John Harbaugh’s squad. The big game hangover is in effect for the Browns.

BAL 24, CLE 13

Titans @ Bengals: When you can only put up 10 points against the Cowboys’ defense, it’s time to take a long, hard look in the mirror. Tennessee played like the leader-less team I envisioned them being this year and they’ve been dealt a tough hand this week, traveling to Paul Brown Stadium where the visitor hasn’t been victorious since week 14 of the 2012 season. Demarco Murray slashed the Titans defense for 167 yards so expect Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill to do much of the same. Even without A.J. Green, the Bengals are simply the better team.

CIN 22, TEN 16

Cowboys @ Rams: This is a game the Cowboys could easily lose. The Rams defense did a fine job of holding Tampa Bay in check and some weird things are bound to happen. Having said that, Dez Bryant > Rams secondary.

DAL 24, STL 17

Packers @ Lions: Detroit hit a roadblock against the stout Panthers’ D while Green Bay – despite some help from the Jets – found its stride in week two. Both defenses in this matchup are subpar and I expect a high-scoring affair. I also expect Rodgers and co. to start a little winning streak in the Motor City.

GB 34, DET 27

Texans @ Giants: Houston started 2-0 last year as well…then proceeded to lose its final 14 contests. However, New York might be the worst team in the league right now and the Texans’ schedule is looking mighty easy. Eli Manning can’t get a grip on this offense. J.J. Watt will have fun in this one.

HOU 21, NYG 13

Colts @ Jaguars: Andrew Luck just lost consecutive games for the first time in his career; you can be sure he won’t lose a third. Jacksonville surrendered 41 points to Kirk Cousins…yeah.

IND 27, JAX 20

Harry How/Getty Images

Harry How/Getty Images

Vikings @ Saints: Both teams are coming off tough losses. This will be New Orleans’ home opener and there’s no shot Drew Brees loses a third straight game. Minnesota is still looking for its glasses after getting whooped by the Pats and will prepare to continue its season without Adrian Peterson. This could be the week we see Teddy.

NO 31, MIN 16

Raiders @ Patriots: This has the potential to be one of the ugliest games of the year. Chandler Jones is very much looking forward to dodging Donald Penn at the punch table and greeting Derek Carr.

NE 41, OAK 6

Redskins @ Eagles: Washington is simply a better team with Kirk Cousins at the helm, so they have a chance against a weaker Eagles defense. Washington’s defense has only allowed 27 points this season; they might just allow that much in this game. But in the NFC East, anything goes. I’ve got plenty of Eagles fans breathing down my neck…and I say, to hell with ya!

WAS 26, PHI 21

49ers @ Cardinals: If Carson Palmer misses extended time, it could be tougher sledding for ‘Zona than most thought. However, Bruce Arians is a mastermind and can make do with Drew Stanton for a few weeks. His team is sitting alone atop the NFC West for a reason…for now. San Fran let da Bears claw back in primetime as the nation watched them reel. It’ll sting for a bit; depleting losses often lead to more losses. They let a divisional opponent get the best of them.

ARI 21, SF 14

Broncos @ Seahawks: Thar she blows; a mid-season Super Bowl. This will be a real treat. I’m seriously pumped as hell for this game. Denver let KC hang around a little too long last week. Seattle can take a breath and not worry about perfection (albeit, even after week one) and get down to business. The winner of this game will be the Super Bowl favorite going forward. CenturyLink Field is about to move some tectonic plates. I picked Denver back in February…I won’t be making that mistake again.

SEA 27, DEN 23

Chiefs @ Dolphins: This isn’t a very enticing matchup. Kansas City might be without its best player in Jamaal Charles which would not bode well against an above-average Dolphins’ defense. Miami got dominated by the Bills up in Buffalo and lost Knowshon Moreno in the process. That week one win over New England? Just a divisional mirage.

KC 19, MIA 13

Steelers @ Panthers: Pittsburgh looked flat on a short week last Thursday. All that rest should do them well, even against a tough Carolina defense that shut down Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. I don’t think either of these teams will be particularly good in the long-run – but I’m giving Carolina the edge at home. Baby steps for Cam Newton.

CAR 16, PIT 14

Bears @ Jets: Despite the infamous timeout, the Jets showed that they can compete with any team in this league – and maybe beat some upper-echelon teams if they quit shooting themselves in the foot. Geno Smith is clearly a better quarterback than he was a year ago but if Eric Decker can’t go, it might be tough sledding for the Jets’ offense on Monday night, even against a weak Bears’ defense that’s now missing Charles Tillman. Chicago reminded everyone why they had the second-best offense in the league last year. Marshall and Jeffery have a dream matchup against New York’s secondary…but Rex is a man with a plan. I got a feeling about this one.

NYJ 23, CHI 20 – OT

We Are…Coming For You

Posted by Jack Tumen

IMG_5428

For the first time since 2011, Penn State is eligible to play in a bowl game and the College Football Playoff. This program still has a little ways to go before we can put them in the championship conversation; but it’s very realistic to be mentioning this team as a Big 10 title contender.

Off to a 2-0 start, the Nittany Lions earned an upset win over the favored UCF Knights in Dublin, Ireland, then followed that up with a 21-3 grinder against Akron. The biggest factor hindering this team right now is the current lack of scholarship players. Next year, James Franklin will be able to have his full 85 back but at the moment this program is playing with a few men down.

The Big Ten standings are completely flip-flopped through the first two weeks of play. Penn State sits atop the east division with conference newcomers, Maryland and Rutgers. Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State all have a loss while Indiana has only played one game. In the west, Nebraska, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota are all 2-0. Purdue and Wisconsin each have a loss while Northwestern is winless. It’s safe to say the Big 10 is wide open right now.

For Penn State, this is a prime chance to seize an opportunity. The conference is in shambles and its public perception is at an all-time low. With the sanctions now lifted, the Nittany Lions have the chance to be the team that saves the Big 10 in 2014. This is not your classic Michigan Wolverines; they flat-out stink. Ohio State is clearly not what everyone thought they would be in the absence of Braxton Miller, losing a primetime game at home to Virginia Tech. People will forget about Michigan State following their loss to Oregon, but the Spartans will rise again late in the year and expect to be contending for the conference title. Mark your calendars for the week 13 matchup when MSU comes to Happy Valley – it could decide the Big 10 East.

IMG_5454

What Penn State has going in its favor is great coaching, great character players and the best quarterback in the conference. There are even some scouts who have said Christian Hackenberg is the best passer in the nation. Honestly, it’s not too much of a stretch. When he comes out in a year or two, you can bet on Hack being a high first round pick.

But at this moment, Penn State is preparing for its first Big 10 opponent in Rutgers on Saturday night. The winner has a chance to be in sole possession of first place in the Big 10 East division. Rutgers can put up points; they dropped 41 on Pac-12 opponent, Washington State, and followed that up with 38 points against Howard. That said, both of those teams are a combined 0-4. Penn State is in control of its own destiny right now – and with a win over Rutgers, they almost certainly secure a spot in the top 25. In a time where the Big 10 is struggling mightily, Penn State might just be the unlikely hero that the conference needs.

(Photos by Yours truly.)

Jacked Up Picks: Week 2

Posted by Jack Tumen

Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The first week in the NFL is always filled with chaos. Now that the dust is beginning to settle and we’ve seen something from each team, it’s time to predict week two’s match ups.

Steelers @ Ravens: This is always a hard-hitting rivalry. Pittsburgh got a little lazy against Cleveland last week and almost let one slip away while Baltimore nearly stole one from Cinci but came up just short. The Ravens have been in the national spotlight this week and not for the right reasons. I’ve got them finishing 11-5 but with too many distractions at the moment, Pittsburgh gets a leg up in the division on national television

PIT 26, BAL 16

Dolphins @ Bills: It would have been a safe bet to say both of these teams would be 0-1 coming in to this game; that’s not the case. Miami put the heat on Tom Brady to grind out a win at home while the Bills showed resiliency behind a surprisingly upstart E.J. Manuel. Most people would pick Miami in this one but Buffalo’s won three of the last four in this rivalry and I like the Bills to edge the Fins at home in their first game under new ownership.

BUF 23, MIA 17

Lions @ Panthers: The Lions come roaring into Charlotte after bludgeoning the Giants on Monday Night Football. Cam Newton’s status is still up in the air after missing the first game. Luckily, Derek Anderson filled in admirably and got the opening ‘W’ on the road. Detroit will be facing a new animal in the Panthers’ defense; but Carolina’s depleted O-Line will have to deal with Ndamukong Suh & co. as well. The air show continues as the Lions ride their hot start.

DET 27, CAR 21

Falcons @ Bengals: The Falcons won a tone-setting game at home vs. the Saints; something most people wouldn’t have predicted. The Bengals’ defense is much better than New Orleans’ and Matt Ryan might not have the same protection with Jake Matthews’ status in question. A.J. Green is going to burn Atlanta’s secondary as the Bengals continue their home winning streak.

CIN 31, ATL 20

Saints @ Browns: Oh boy. This isn’t the matchup you wanted in week two if you’re Mike Pettine. Coming off a close loss, Drew Brees is waiting to feast on Cleveland’s secondary. The Browns’ defense isn’t bad but they don’t stand a chance against this high-octane offense. Brian Hoyer should have a better game but he won’t be able to keep pace with Drew Brees, especially if Jordan Cameron misses this game. Ben Tate’s absence doesn’t help either as this backfield is composed of two rookies right now.

NO 30, CLE 17

Patriots @ Vikings: New England looked overwhelmed in the second half against Miami’s defensive pressure. I’m still scratching my head over the Logan Mankins trade and I really think his absence is going to be felt along that O-Line. Minnesota is playing with energy under new Head Coach, Mike Zimmer. Their defense is underrated and they’ll be bringing the heat in their home opener. The Patriots will get it figured out sooner than later but I’m going with the upset here for the purple people leaders.

MIN 20, NE 19

Cardinals @ Giants: The Giants look like they could be one of the worst teams in the league this year. I’m starting to think that my 8-8 prediction for them was wayyy too generous. Eli Manning is straight up not enjoying this new offense and he looks like the worst passer in the NFL. The Cardinals, on the other hand, are incredibly disciplined and showed toughness in their close win on Monday night. ‘Zona’s got this one.

AZ 24, NYG 13

Cowboys @ Titans: Tony Romo looked awful last week while Jake Locker looked great. Both quarterbacks played against good defenses but Ken Whisenhunt was able to size it down for his young QB while Romo was throwing balls into triple coverage. Dallas has the worst defense in the league and Tennessee could be a pleasant surprise this year. I was adamant about the lack of veteran leadership affecting the Titans but they’re looking to prove me wrong in a big way. Dallas won’t find their first ‘W’ this week.

TEN 24, DAL 21

Karl Walter/Getty Images

Karl Walter/Getty Images

Jaguars @ Redskins: Jacksonville gave Philly quite the scare last week and in doing so, put the rest of the league on notice. This Jaguars’ defense is underrated and they’ll be bringing the heat for RGIII. Jay Gruden will be scratching his head as long as Griffin is his quarterback. The future isn’t looking bright for the team in our nation’s capital.

JAX 20, WAS 14

Seahawks @ Chargers: San Diego’s defense did a great job of holding a good Cardinal’s offense in check for most of the game on Monday night. They only got a little taste, however, of this powerful NFC West. Two weeks in a row of that is tough to start with if you’re a Charger. Losing your starting center for the year doesn’t help either. They’ll find their stride later this month, but Seattle looks unbeatable right now.

SEA 31, SD 13

Rams @ Buccaneers: As if it couldn’t get any worse for St. Louis, defensive end Chris Long will miss 8-10 weeks after injuring his ankle in week one and will require surgery. What was once looking to be a breakthrough season is now looking like a top-five pick. Josh McCown will find his groove against this weak Rams’ secondary as Tampa Bay picks up its first win.

TB 23, STL 7

Chiefs @ Broncos: Kansas City took a massive blow by losing both Derrick Johnson and Mike DeVito to torn achilles’ tendons. Denver is Denver and they’ll have a field day against a Chiefs team that is now looking way worse than expected. KC couldn’t win even if Jamaal Charles touched the ball 60 times.

DEN 35, KC 14

Jets @ Packers: If there was any time for the Jets to want to play the Packers, it would be right now. Green Bay’s offensive line is shot with Brian Bulaga getting hurt…again, and Eddie Lacy is iffy with concussion symptoms. But if you’re Aaron Rodgers, you’ve already faced the toughest defense in the league. So in theory, it can only get easier from here. Green Bay’s defense isn’t very good and the Jets will keep it closer than expected but Rodgers has a field day against this depleted secondary.

GB 27, NYJ 20

Texans @ Raiders: Houston didn’t look great last week – putting up 17 points against the lowly Redskins – but Oakland…they are bad, man. I’m proud to say that Derek Carr – my favorite QB in this draft class – was also the first rookie QB to start right off-the-bat. His future is bright; the current state of the Raiders is not. Ryan Fitzpatrick dinks and dunks the Texans to 2-0.

HOU 20, OAK 12

Bears @ 49ers: Chicago was stunned at home by Buffalo in week one. Marc Trestman is not going to let his team falter so easily in the future. San Fran had a patty-cake matchup against Dallas’ D – and even though Chicago’s isn’t top notch, they’ll be a tougher test for Kaep and co.. It’ll be a tight game but I like Chicago to get back on track in this primetime matchup.

CHI 28, SF 24

Eagles @ Colts: Philly got a scare in week one but was able to bounce back in the second half to secure a win vs. Jacksonville. Indy had a nice comeback attempt against a revitalized Broncos’ defense as Andrew Luck showed why he’s one of the best young quarterbacks in this league. Against a weak defensive unit, Luck throws for 400 yards in the Monday night spotlight in a high-scoring affair.

IND 38, PHI 29

September 8th, 2014

Posted by Jack Tumen

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Rob Carr/Getty Images

A lot of news dropped on our shoulders today, so let’s just step back and take in the events that have unfolded over the last few hours.

The Baltimore Ravens terminated Ray Rice’s contract following the release of the security video showing him striking his wife and knocking her unconscious.

Let me begin by saying Ray Rice should be banned from the NFL for life. Do I really need to explain myself? It’s pretty crazy how the league and the Ravens knew that Rice had done what he did, but until there was concrete video of it – until they could see it with human eyes…two game suspension – slap on the wrist.

I know the league just stiffened their domestic violence policy and what-not, but this is an issue that’s bigger than football. Our country tends to glorify athletes. Incase you haven’t figured it out yet, athletes are humans – they eat, sleep and shit like humans. They make human mistakes and get punished like humans as well. Ray Rice knocked his wife out cold. So because he’s a football player and you need him for your fantasy team, he gets a pass?

What’s even more convoluted about this situation is the way the league came down on Mr. Josh Gordon with a year-long suspension for smoking weed. SMOKING WEED. You can legally do that in two states in our country. In Washington and Colorado, it’s like, more legal than Amsterdam to smoke weed. Heck, it’s easier to find weed in America than it is to find the nearest dry-cleaners.

These are the issues that we are dealing with, people. We’re smarter than this. We know what’s right and what’s wrong. We know that it’s not O.K. to hit your wife, or anyone for that matter. We also know that it’s not a big deal if you smoke weed in the right time and place. Ray Rice just made himself the poster-boy for NFL domestic violence forever. No team should ever want to be associated with him, no matter how much he tries to mend his image, which also is never happening.

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Over in Happy Valley today, Penn State’s bowl ban was lifted by the NCAA. I am a Penn State student. I lived through the scandal. When I first read this news, I was finally able to really feel the magnitude of the last three years. I’ve spent my entire collegiate career living in State College, experiencing this story first-hand with 50,000 other students. We’ve lived through riots. We’ve seen three head coaches in four seasons. Now, the NCAA is finally admitting its mistakes.

If you’re one of those people that disagrees with the NCAA’s decision, then you should go back and read the first half of this article again. This was not and was never a football issue: it had nothing to do with the players, the students or the alumni, who have been subjected to unrelenting harassment from those outside of the Penn State community for the last three years. This was a human crime. It was handled in a football context.

It’s a strange coincidence that both of these events happened on the same day. Hopefully, we can start realizing that the actions of one person can affect that person’s athletic career, but that those two entities of life and sports are separate from one another.