Cleat Geeks

Titans @ 49ers

Who’s in and Who’s out

The Titans are still in the playoff field for now. The loss to the Arizona Cardinals dropped Tennessee out of a tie with the Jacksonville Jaguars for first place in the AFC South. The Titans remain in the playoffs currently as the 5th seed. If the season ended today the Titans would be on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs. This is before the outcome of the Los Angeles Chargers at the Chiefs is known. That game will affect the playoff picture in the AFC West.

The Titans still control their own destiny but the road is harder. After the game against San Francisco, Tennessee finishes the season against the Los Angeles Rams and current division leader Jacksonville. Those games won’t be easy. If you look at how the 49ers have played lately then you know this game won’t easy either. With Jimmy Garoppolo installed at quarterback San Francisco has won two straight games and will be looking to extend that to three.

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The Titans need to get the offense off to a solid start and establish themselves on the ground. To do that they need to minimize the 49ers playmakers touches. Marquise Goodwin leads all receivers in the NFL with more than 40 receptions with a 19 yard per catch average. With elite speed and decent hands, he is a legitimate big play threat whenever he touches the football. Carlos Hyde has over 1,000 yards from scrimmage rushing and receiving.

The Titans big plays eminate from their quarterback Marcus Mariota. Mariota has not played well this season. With more interceptions than touchdowns Titan fans are waitng for him to breakout this year. The 49ers have given up the 20th mostr yards on the ground in the league this year altough they have held opponets under 100 yards in the last three contests. Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry are one of the most dynamic running back tandums in the league. The Titans should use them to control the ball and open up passing lanes for Mariota.

 

The IR, The O-line & Fitz

While the Cardinals play-off chances shrunk from 0.02 to 0.01% after their 12-7 win vs. Tennessee, the end of the 2017 season couldn’t come fast enough for the teams offensive line. The Cardinals playoff chances will die this weekend if: They lose. Seahawks win. Both Atlanta and Carolina win.

With the loss of left tackle Jared Veldheer, coach Arians said he “cracked his ankle” against the Titans, the Cards will start their fourth left tackle of the year. Due to season-ending injuries, Arizona has now lost 60% of the five lineman who opened the 2017 season as starters. Center A.Q. Shipley and RG Evan Boehm are the two left standing. Boehm was benched in the middle of the season, but will start this week due to injuries. After giving up eight sacks during last Sunday’s game, the Cardinals are now forced to start rookie fifth-round pick, Will Holden, at left tackle. While this will be Holden’s third start of the season, it’s going to be his first at LT. Holden has played almost all of his 106 snaps this season at left guard, but none at left tackle. The rookie offensive lineman did have 15 career starts while he was at Vanderbilt University though. According to Pro Football Focus, in those 15 collegiate starts, Will ranked 75th of 97 draft-eligible tackles with at least 150 pass-blocking snaps. The Cardinals have given up the second-most sacks in the NFL, 44, three less than all of 2016.

Flying under the radar the last two months, the loss of Veldheer is going to be a big one. Through the first five games of the season – the first five in his career at right tackle – Veldheer allowed 27 quarterback pressures. Those 27 pressures were fourth-most from the tackle position in the league. In the eight games following (five at RT, last three at LT), Jared registered a PFF Pass-Blocking Grade of 96.8. In those eight games, the fourth-year Cardinal managed to allow only 12 QB pressures, the fifth-least from the tackle position over that span.

Jared Veldheer took a practice day-off during training camp this off-season to contemplate the possibility of retirement. Whether the main reason for the 24-hour hiatus was due to a “demotion” to right tackle, or whether he was just one of many players who now consider stepping away from the game at a younger age (30), Jared was a great Cardinal and a big reason why the Cardinals were one of two 2015 NFC Championship Game representative’s in 2015. If Sunday his the last as an on-field member of the BirdGang, thank you Hulk.

Arizona Cardinals OT Jared Veldheer

Veldheer wasn’t the only Cardinal to land on Injured Reserve this week, as running back Adrian Peterson (neck) joined the ever-growing IR list. Peterson will finish the season, possibly career, with 99 career touchdowns. Those 99 TD’s have Adrian tied with Barry Sanders for ninth place in NFL history.

There are now 13 Cardinals currently on IR. Even though more than a handful have served the minimum eight games on the list and are now eligible to return, only long snapper Aaron Brewer has come of the list this season (two are eligible per team). Brewer was activated this week and will see his first game action since early October.

There are currently seven players who opened the season as an offensive/defensive starter on IR. 13 total.

Four more Cardinals have been ruled out for the game against Washington, RG Earl Watford, LB Gabe Martin (hamstring), WR John Brown (Toe) and TE Jermaine Gresham (illness). Considering Gresham played 75% of the snaps last week, expect Rookie Ricky Seals-Jones (played <29% in each of his four games) to get his opportunities to continue his end-of-the-year breakout campaign.

Two Keim-Time free-agent signings came up large in Sundays victory over Tennessee, CB Tramon Williams and LB Josh Bynes. Both defensive players, who are set to become free agents after the season, came up with interceptions in the win.

After having the worst season of his career in 2016 in Cleveland, Williams is currently having the second-best year of his career (by PFF metrics) with a season-long grade of 87.0, eleventh best CB grade in the league. The 34-year-old cornerback signed a 1 year/$2M contract near the end of training camp. Through the first five game of the season, the eleven-year-pro tallied only six total snaps. In game six against Tampa Bay, Tramon had a late-game interception to preserve the victory. Williams has started all seven games since. In those seven starts, the veteran CB has been targeted on deep balls (20+ yards) 10 times. Those ten passes have resulted in a 24.2 passer rating, the fourth-best mark by a CB this season. In addition to his interception, Tramon gave up 3 catches for 23 yards last Sunday and was graded out as the 4th-highest defensive player in the NFL for Week-14, with a PFF grade of 91.7.

Both Washington and Arizona have 31 quarterback sacks on the season. Of Arizona’s 31, Chandler Jones has 45% of those. Jones’ 14 sacks are now only 2.5 behind franchise single-season leader, Simeon Rice. Chandler leads the NFL with his 14 sacks and 24 tackles for loss.

Congratulations to Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald on passing Randy Moss for third all-time in NFL history in reception yards. This season alone, Larry has passed Moss, Marvin Harrison, Steve Smith Jr., Tim Brown, Tony Gonzalez and Isaac Bruce in career receiving yards. Larry needs three more catches to achieve the 90-catch mark for the eighth time in his career. According to the Arizona Cardinals twitter page, no wide receiver in the history of the game has ever had more than six seasons with 90+ catches. Your Gold jacket awaits you #11 whenever you decide to exit stage left.

I’ll leave you with this little gem of a video about Fitzy in high school:

 

The Roar: Bears Visit Lions for Saturday Match-up

The (4-9) Chicago Bears pay a visit to the (7-6) Detroit Lions for a rare edition of big boy football on a Saturday.

Last Sunday, the Bears devoured the Cincinnati Bengals on the road, 33-7. Mitch Trubisky went 25/32 for 271 yards and a touchdown. Kendall Wright was the leading target for Trubisky and the Bears as he reeled in 10 passes for 107 yards. On the ground, Chicago drove down the throat of Cincinnati’s defense. Jordan Howard had 23 carries for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Tarik Cohen carried the ball 12 times for an impressive 80 yards.

Detroit squeaked out of Tampa Bay with a 24-21 victory. Matthew Stafford went 36-44 for 381 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Eric Ebron, who has been stout since surviving the trade deadline, caught 10 passes for 94 yards. Golden Tate caught eight passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. Theo Riddick had a productive afternoon as he had 10 carries for 29 yards along with two rushing touchdowns and also caught six passes for 64 yards.

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The streak of not having a back reach 100 yards on the ground in a single game continued. Reggie Bush remains the most recent Lions’ back to accomplish the feat.

It won’t be much easier this time around against the Bears’ defense. Chicago, on average, allows 108.9 yards on the ground per game. They sit in the middle half of rankings for run defense.

As mentioned before the Lions topped the Bears in Chicago a few weeks back, 27-24, Chicago’s record doesn’t explain how tough they’ve played teams. They’re played in several close games against tough opponents. With Detroit’s season hanging by a thread, especially after losing to the Lions at home, the Bears won’t go quietly.

Detroit, at this point, is the only side to lose players for the match-up. Rick Wagner and Travis Swanson have been ruled out for this Week 15 battle.

Adams Leading Packers Receivers Regardless of QB

Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams is making some kind of a contract statement while not saying a word on the subject. Adams is slated to be a free agent in the next free agency cycle (March 2018) Based on the contracts that have been given to other receivers in the league this season and Adams yearlong production this season his contract price is going steadily up.

Photo by: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Why has Adams contract price likely climbed so high? The answer to this question is simple: His production has not been tied to who his quarterback is. Adams on the season has 69 catches for 828 yards and 9 touchdowns. All of those numbers lead the team. When those numbers are compared to other top wide receivers in the league Adams ranks very favorably. That is especially true considering that Adams has been productive regardless of his QB this season. Before Aaron Rodgers went down with his broken collar bone Adams numbers were 23 catches, 285 yards and 4 touchdowns.  In the game when Rodgers got hurt and following Adams numbers are as follows: 46 catches, 543 yards and 5 touchdowns. The same cannot be said for all the Packers receivers during Rodgers absence.

The torch of the so called number one receiver has unofficially been passed from Jordy Nelson to Adams for several reasons. Adams is 6 years younger then Nelson. But once Rodgers departed, so did much of Nelson’s early season production.  That is not a shot at Nelson either. There has been a career long connection between Nelson and Rodgers – an ability to communicate with a simple head nod – that was not the same between Hundley and any other Packers receiver minus Adams.

Adams has been at his best when it was needed most. He scored the winning touchdown that beat the Cowboys, the score the ended up being the deciding score to beat the Bears, and the tying and winning scores to beat the Browns last weekend. I think the Packers will pay the price, move some contracts around in relationship to the salary cap and drop the franchise tag on Adams if it becomes necessary in order to keep him. More likely Adams will sign a multiyear extension in Green Bay to spend several more years with Rodgers and company. The price of said extension has grown significantly more expensive thanks to Adams performance under both quarterbacks this season.

 

The Bear Cave; Can John Fox Save His Job?

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The Bear Cave

Match-up: Chicago Bears (4-9, 4th in the NFC North) vs. Detroit Lions (7-6, 2nd in NFC North)

Time and Location: 3:15 pm CT kickoff. Ford Field. SATURDAY! SET A REMINDER!

Betting info: Lions -5.5, 38 (opening)

 

Game Balls:

Mitch Trubisky – Man, it was nice to see Trubisky make some big plays for the Bears. Last week, I’ll admit, I was nervous about playing this guy so much and ruining him for the future. Trubisky looked good, even great at times. Granted, the Bengals were very short handed on defense, Trubisky had arguably his best week in the NFL. Benefitting from a solid running game to start the game, Trubisky accounted for 271 yards and a touchdown through the air, and five yards and a touchdown on the ground. Congrats rook! Let’s have many more.

Devin Hester – Congrats on the retirement. Think back and remember what a great career that was for the greatest returner of all time. Thank you for all the memories and making what would be a normal bathroom break, the most exciting part of the game (as most of the time our offenses were atrocious). Better be seeing this man in Canton some time in the future.

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Takeaways

  • I think Marvin Lewis is as good as gone from Cincy after that embarrassment. Not sure which coach will have the hook first – John Fox or Marvin Lewis.
  • The Bears looked the best they have on offense all year – against a beat up, short week Bengals. The Bears needed one and they got one.
  • Jordan Howard is the real deal. Tarik Cohen continues to shine. Cohen had two touchdowns called back that did not hurt the Bears in the long run of the game. Good to see the running game moving.
  • Bears came out fighting and ready to play – this bodes well for Fox and Company towards the end of the year when he is fighting for his job.
  • Ryan Pace – that rookie class was very involved. Adam Shaheen, Trubisky, Cohen, Eddie Jackson…not a bad week for Ryan Pace and his scouts.

State of the Bears:

The Bengals were not a good team at all and have been a head scratcher all season. That was a very different team that showed up against the Bears versus the one that showed up on the Monday night game against the Steelers. The Bears showed up, which was nice to see. They showed some life, on offense and defense. Kicking…still a big concern. The only thing that sucks about the Bears winning is that you lose some draft positions, closer to the front of the draft.

This draft seems to be loaded, but more so at the QB spot than in recent memory. This might hurt the Bears if they keep winning, but it also could help them. I don’t think the Bears will be drafting a QB, at least early in the draft. There are some teams that have some QBs that are getting up in age that may want to move up to and trade with a team like the Bears (depending upon where they end up) to take a QB for the future. Teams like the Steelers, the Patriots, and maybe the Saints. This could help the Bears when thinking ahead to the draft. If they end up with 4-5 wins, they could trade back and stock pile some picks. It will be interesting to see where they end up with wins and with draft positioning.

Could John Fox keep his job if the Bears somehow win out? How many wins would it take? I don’t think Fox can save his job unless the Bears win out and this offense truly starts rolling. I don’t see that happening with so many banged up players and such a limited amount of weapons for Trubisky. The Bears obviously need to get their Rookie QB some help, and I don’t think Fox and Dowell Logains are the help that he needs. The Bears need a QB Whisperer. It would be nice to see the Bears gain some momentum at the end of the year here, like last week, to spring board into 2018 – with whoever is leading them as the head ball coach.

Quick Hits, Game Preview:

  • Don’t forget – this game is on a Saturday this week!
  • Detroit needs a win if Jim Caldwell wants to keep his job. The Lions, if they miss the playoffs, could be a very underachieving team this year after a fast start.
  • The Lions offense really struggles running the ball…we all know the stat that the Lions haven’t had a 100 yard rushing running back in a game since Reggie Bush.
  • The Lions love slinging the ball up and down the field. They have some playmakers at the WR spot.
  • John Fox could do himself some favors this week if he wins this game and the offense looks effective.
  • It will be interesting to see how the Bears offense moves the ball against this Lions defense and how Trubisky plays – can he keep up his play from last week?

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Predictions

The Lions need this win to keep any playoff hopes alive. The Bears at this point are looking to scrap out a couple more wins before the season is over. It should be a fun game actually. I think there are going to be a lot of big hits and a lot hard-nosed football – NFC North Football.

Lions 24 – Bears 20

As always,

Bear Down

AB

 

 

 

 

Tomahawks and Touchdowns: Week #14 Recap

The Chiefs got back on track last weekend with a 26-15 win over the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead. It was the Chiefs first win since week #8. The Chiefs are 2-6 in their last eight games. The win helped their standing in the playoff race.

 

The AFC West is one of the tightest division races in the NFL this season. The Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers are tied for the top spot in the division. Both teams have a record of 7-6. The Raiders loss last weekend pushed them to second place. The Denver Broncos remain at the bottom of the division with a record of 4-9. The next three weeks will determine which team wins the division this season.

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The playoff race in the AFC is close and the next few weeks will decide if the Chiefs advance. The Chiefs currently hold the fourth seed in the playoffs because of the tiebreaker in the division race. If they lose this weekend they could be on the outside of the playoff picture. Winning the division could be the Chiefs only chance at making the playoffs this season.

 

Kareem Hunt has struggled recently but he had a good performance in the game last week. Hunt had 116 rushing yards and one touchdown against the Raiders. He has 1,046 rushing yards this season, the second most in the NFL. It will be important for Kareem Hunt to have success in the final weeks of the season.

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Chris Jones also played well in the win last week. He had one sack and two tackles for loss. This season Jones has 28 combined tackles and 4.5 sacks. Last season he was drafted by the Chiefs in the second round. In 2016 Jones had 28 combined tackles and two sacks. Chris Jones has progressed well in his first two seasons with the Chiefs.

 

This weekend the Chiefs will face the Los Angeles Chargers. They will play on Saturday in Kansas City. Both teams are tied for first place in the division and this game could determine the division winner. The teams faced each other during week three. The Chiefs won the game 24-10. The Chargers are one of the hottest teams in the NFL. They have won four straight games and are 7-2 in their last nine games. If the Chiefs can stop the Chargers this weekend they will be in a great position in the AFC playoff race.

Top 10 Thursday; NFL Football

Week 14 of the NFL season is behind us and as many teams attempt to solidify their playoff spots some teams are stilling trying to fight for one. Five of last weeks top ten teams lost and 5 of them won. What does it mean for their rankings this week?

10. Atlanta Falcons (8-5) Previous Rank: 10
​Last game: Defeated the New Orleans Saints 20-17
​Next game: Monday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Vic Beasley Jr was a major role for the Falcons success last season and with others getting involved the sack rate as gone up two percent with the help of veteran Adrian Clayborn who has 9 sacks.

 

9. Seattle Seahawks (8-5) Previous Rank: 6
Last game: Lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars 30-24
Next game: Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams
The team was able to handle the loss of key defensive players and by doing so have allowed a 39 total QBR without them on the field which is better than the entire season (42).

 

8. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-4) Previous Rank: 8
Last game: Defeated the Seattle Seahawks 30-24
​Next game: Sunday against the Houston Texans
Defenses win you games and the Jaguars have the best defense when it comes to points allowed, takeaways, and total QBR. Last year they ranked 25th in points allowed, 30th in takeaways, and 14th in opponent QBR.

 

7. Carolina Panthers (9-4) Previous Rank: 9
Last game: Defeated the Minnesota Vikings 31-24
Next game: Sunday against the Green Bay Packers
Cam Newton has 67 completions to Christian McCaffrey this season, McCaffrey currently leads the team as well as all rookies with completions.

 

6. New Orleans Saints (9-4) Previous Rank: 7
​Last game: Lost to the Atlanta Falcons 20-17
​Next game: Sunday against the New York Jets
Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram both rank in the top 5 for yards per rush and between the two they have 19 touchdowns.

 

5. Minnesota Vikings (10-3) Previous Rank: 3
Last game: Lost to the Carolina Panthers 31-24
Next game: Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals
Case Keenum is still third in total QBR and led Minnesota to an 8-3 record during his starts. His record was 9-15 entering this season.

 

4. Los Angeles Rams (9-4) Previous Rank: 4
​Last game: Lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 43-35
Next game: Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks
The Rams are averaging 30.5 points per game behind Goff and Gurley leading the offense. Gurley is accountable for 34% of the teams yards which is the highest in the NFL.

 

3. New England Patriots (10-3) Previous Rank: 1
Last game: Lost to the Miami Dolphins 27-20
Next game: Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers
The Patriots defense had a major turnaround after allowing 32 points through the first works and since then they have allowed 13.5 points. The Miami game was the first game in their past 9 that they allowed 20 points.

 

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2) Previous Rank: 5
Last game: Defeated the Baltimore Ravens 39-38
Next game: Sunday against the New England Patriots
The Steelers defense has vastly improved they have more sacks through 13 games (41) than they did in all of 2016 (38).

 

1. Philadelphia Eagles (11-2) Previous Rank: 2
Last game: Defeated the Los Angeles Rams 43-35
Next game: Sunday against the New York Giants
The Eagles lost their franchise quarterback when Carson Wentz tore his ACL against the Rams, will they be just as accomplished with Nick Foles at quarterback?

Dawg Pound Scoop: Lost Hope

Sunday, December 10th, was a day full of hope for the fans of the Cleveland Browns, but was completely shot down when an overtime game spoiled a potential first win for the team. The Green Bay Packers, still without their star QB in Aaron Rodgers, took care of business in a game they fell behind early in. It was a battle until the end, and provided some great Sunday entertainment for fans all over the world.

The scoring got started in a hurry, with Packers RB Jamaal Williams punching in a 30 yard catch and run from QB Brett Hundley early in the first. Hundley showed Rodgers-esque signs all game, as this pitch and catch was the first example.  

The Browns returned fired and met the Packer’s punch, though, and they closed out the first half with a brick wall for a defense and solid offensive play. DeShone Kizer led the offense with ease, and the defense played its part throughout. The rookie QB found Josh Gordon late in the first quarter for an 18 yard TD, marking his first since 2014.  The second quarter saw more of the same, as the defense held its ground and the offense punched in another TD from Duke Johnson to go up 14-7 at the half.

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After the great start, the Browns continued to pour it on in the 3rd quarter. Corey Coleman reeled in a 2 yard Kizer TD pass to make it 21-7. But this is where the defense gave up.

Fatigue set in with the group, and the Packers took advantage late in the 4th. Hundley led two key drives, both resulting in TD’s, one on the ground and one in air, that helped push this game to extra time. The Browns defense struggled all of the 4th, and the talented Packers spoiled the hope of Cleveland fans everywhere.

Overtime was more of the same from the Packers, as a Kizer interception led to another key Hundley drive, resulting in Davante Adams wheeling his way to a 25 yard TD and a Packers win.

This was yet another game where the Browns show they cannot finish. The set up was there, and they blew it. The hiring of new GM John Dorsey will hopefully spice up the crowd, but the win remains to be achieved, and without that, it seems like nothing will be accomplished.

Cards Playoff Hopes; Slimmest of Threads

While seven teams from the NFC enter Week-14 with at least eight victories, the 5-7 Arizona Cardinals are currently the 12th seed in the NFC and are all but mathematically eliminated from the postseason with four games to go. With six teams ahead of the Cardinals in the playoff picture, early season losses to conference foes Detroit and Dallas loom large as both teams are outside of the playoffs but still ahead of Arizona in the standings.

Prior to last weeks loss to the Rams, Football Outsiders had the Cardinals playoff chances at 1%. That has now dipped down to 0.2%.

NFC West

Team W-L WEI DVOA Mean Wins #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 DIV BYE WC TOT CHANGE
LARM 9-3 33.7% 11.7 9.1% 19.3% 28.3% 19.6% 17.0% 5.1% 76.3% 28.4% 22.1% 98.5% 2.5%
SEA 8-4 13.6% 10.1 0.2% 1.3% 4.6% 17.6% 23.2% 22.0% 23.7% 1.5% 45.1% 68.8% 26.9%
ARI 5-7 -10.4% 6.9 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.2% 0.0% 0.0% 0.2% 0.2% -0.8%
SF 2-10 -23.0% 3.3 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%

0.2% odds in football layman terms means once in every 500 seasons.

How did we get here?

While injuries shouldn’t be an excuse (just look at the 10-2 Vikings), they sure are a large reason as to why the Cardinals are on the outside looking in and not in control of their own playoff destiny. Not like it’s news to any Cardinal fan, but the 2017 version of the Arizona Cardinals lost 2016 MVP candidate David Johnson, 2015 MVP candidate Carson Palmer, 2016 team sack-leader Markus Golden, and their most talented offensive lineman in Left Tackle D.J. Humphries.

Defense and Special Teams have also been more of a negative than positive for the 2017 Cardinals.

The heat on Special Teams coach Amos Jones seems to currently be at a boiling point, as once again there were multiple Special Teams gaffes in last weeks loss to the Rams. According to Football Outsiders, the Cardinals Special Teams is ranked 30th out of 32 teams. Coincidentally, the Cardinals Special Teams last season finished the year ranked 30th. Unacceptable by anyone’s standards.

While the Cardinals defense ranks 15th overall by Football Outsiders metrics, they give up the 29th most points in all of the NFL at 25.8/game. Heading into week-14, the Cardinals still have only two defensive players with more than 1.5 sacks, Chandler Jones (13) and Olsen Pierre (3.5)

On a side note, Larry Fitzgerald is only 26 yards away from surpassing one of his hometown childhood idles, Randy Moss, for third place all-time in NFL history. There are only two players in NFL history who have more receiving yards than Larry Fitzgerald, Jerry Rice and Terrell Ownes. Fitzy is currently less than 700 yards from surpassing Owens. The Japanese fighting fish’ is 118 catches behind future Hall-of-Famer Tony Gonzalez for second place in NFL history. On Larry’s current season pace he conceivably should be able to pass both Tony Gonzalez and Terrell Owens by the end of next season.

With wide receivers John and Jaron Brown being unrestricted free agents at the end of the season, as well as Brittan Golden, General Manager Steve Keim should be imploring coach Arians to see more of their young guys before having to make a decision on these three players.

While Arians has kept his word about giving rookie third round pick Chad Williams more playing, the youngster hasn’t done anything with the playing time. Chad has played roughly 40% of the snaps the previous two weeks. Unfortunately, he only has one reception over that span.

In 581 snaps entering today’s game, TE Jermaine Gresham has hauled in 27 catches for 267 yards and two touchdowns. In 42 games as a Cardinal, Gresham has totaled five touchdowns, with his longest gain being 34 yards. In arguably one of the worst signings under Keim, Jermaine received a 4-year $28M contract in the off-season.

While rookie TE Ricky Seals-Jones has failed to play more than 24% of the snaps in any of his three games, he has already accumulated three touchdowns on only nine catches during his 40 snaps this season. Pro Football Focus has RSJ as the most productive tight end in all of the league over the past month.

While 2017 may not have gone according to plan (like currently a 1 and 500 chance at making the playoffs), there are still answers to be had these final four games, particularly at the receiving positions. It’s never too early to look ahead if your team has a 0.2% chance of making it to the playoffs, as the Cardinals would have the tenth pick in the upcoming draft if the season ended today.

 

The Roar: Lions Limp Into Tampa Bay Needing Victory

Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida will be the site of play for the (6-6) Detroit Lions and the (4-8) Buccaneers. Detroit enters this match-up tied for second place in the NFC North with the Green Bay Packers, while Tampa Bay enters as the team holding down the cellar in the NFC South.

With the fading Lions clinging onto Wild Card dreams, the Buccaneers will make an attempt to spoil Detroit’s season once and for all.

Last Sunday, the Lions were sloppy in the first half against the Baltimore Ravens where they went down 20-0, eventually made it close, but the comeback ran into the fan as the final score read 44-20 in favor of the Ravens.

The Buccaneers went into Lambeau Field and forced the Packers into overtime, but eventually gave way to the hosts in a 26-20 defeat.

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Matthew Stafford was injured late in the game against the Ravens when his right hand was stepped on. Stafford didn’t return to the game and has been forced to take it easy in practice all week. No. 9 was able to throw the ball around in practice on Thursday.

When asked if Stafford would play on Sunday, head coach Jim Caldwell responded with, “we’ll see.”

After standing on the sideline for the previous three weeks, Jameis Winston’s returned to action against the Packers. Winston went 21/32 for 270 yards and two touchdowns.

For Detroit, their streak of non-100 yard rushing games was extended even further. Ameer Abdullah sat out of action with a neck injury, allowing for Tion Green to jump in for his first taste of the National Football League. Green had 11 carries for 51 yards and a touchdown.

Image result for tion green detroit lionsHeading into Sunday’s match-up, the Lions have plenty of banged up players. Rick Wagner, for now, is the only Lion that has been ruled out for Sunday’s match-up in the sunshine state.

Stafford headlines the list of questionable Lions followed by: Abdullah (neck), Jamal Agnew (knee), Ziggy Ansah (ankle), Emmett Cleary (ankle), T.J. Lang (foot), Corey Robinson (foot), Travis Swanson (knee), Cornelius Washington (shoulder), Dwight Freeney (no injury listed) and Sam Martin (foot).

For the Buccaneers, four players are listed as out including: Vernon Hargreaves (hamstring), Clinton McDonald (back), Josh Robinson (hamstring) and T.J. Ward (concussion).

Meanwhile,  Ryan Russell (knee) is listed as questionable for Tampa Bay.

The Lions despite only being 2-4 in front of their home town crowd are 4-2 on the road. Tampa Bay is the opposite as they are 1-6 on the road but 3-2 at home. Not only are the Lions 6-6, but there is another 6 in their statistics, they have only scored 6 more points than their opponents in their first 12 games. While 6 points is eye-rolling at best, it is better than -45 points, which is what Tampa Bay is, they have given up 45 more points than they have scored.

The immediate goal and focus is to beat Tampa. The Lions are not catching the Vikings, but they are rooting for them today as they are playing the Carolina Panthers, who are currently 1 of 2 Wild Card teams the Lions are trying to catch. The Seahawks are the other team and today they play the Jaguars in Jacksonville. If the Lions can win, and if one or both of those teams looses, then the Wild Card chase gets a little more interesting. Despite the fact that the Lions are limping, they must stand tall and win.

 

 

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