Is the Jets running back battle being overshadowed by the quarterback dilemma?

NFL: Buffalo Bills at New York Jets

While the New York Jets continue to work on their quarterback dilemma, it’s safe to say that not everything is crystal clear in the backfield either.
The Jets have some viable options at running back again this season. Matt Forte, the once feared pass-catching threat is beginning to look healthy again, while a younger Bilal Powell has made recent strides in evolving his playstyle.

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How Big is the Loss of Julian Edelman to the Patriots?

On Friday night another star player suffered a season ending injury in a meaningless preseason game, this time it was Julian Edelman.

On a second and three, Brady dumped the ball off to Edelman two yards from the line of scrimmage. Edelman did what he does best and cut it up field for an 18 yard gain. That play is what usually makes the Patriots so dangerous; their patented option route, this time rookie Jarrod Davis was the victim.

Edelman went directly at the rookie forcing him to make a split second decision to either cover the inside or the outside. Davis started to turn his body to the outside and Edelman immediately broke inside and broke off a big gain, a play that would be Edelman’s last of 2017 as it resulted in his knee giving out.

How will this injury effect the Patriots Super Bowl hopes? Well it’s actually fairly simple. While Edelman will certainly be missed, as long as Brady is healthy and performing than so will the Patriots.

That’s not to take anything away from Edelman who is one of the most competitive, gritty, and clutch receivers in the game. It’s more of a reflection on how good Brady is and how deep they are at receiver.

Replacing the chemistry that Brady and Edelman have is going to be tough. Brady trusts Edelman to make the big catch in the big moment (like he’s done in the past two super bowls) and not having him in December and January is going to be a tough adjustment for Brady.

The places were Edelman will be missed the most is on third downs, and punt returns. The impact Edelman has on third downs is eye popping: In the first nine games of the season the Patriots went undefeated and converted thirds down at about a 41 percent rate. After Edelman broke his foot the Patriots went 3-4 and converted only 32 percent. the impact that Edelman has on not only third downs but on the teams overall performance can’t be glossed over.

Edelman has been the Patriots anchor on punt returns throughout the years, Belichick always has the option to send him out there if his return man is struggling or if he just needs a spark. Without Edelman, back there the Patriots are put in a tough spot; either they let Amendola take over and add more wear and tear to his already injury prone body, or they have Cyrus Jones take the reigns who is seemingly a bad turnover waiting to happen.

Brady will have to depend on Gronkowski and Amendola much more this season as he has built solid on the field chemistry with both the past few years. But both of them are major injury questions. Having them on the field every week let alone at 100% is a question mark.

The Patriots will probably do what they have always done when they need to fill a hole in their roster: They will depend on the group to fill the void rather than one singular player.

Chris Hogan, and Brandin Cooks will have to pick up some of the slack on the outside, while Dwayne Allen is a very solid blocker which should allow Belichick to be more creative in the way he uses Gronk in the passing game.

Malcolm Mitchell could be moved to play the slot this year to help fill the void after coming off a solid rookie season. Even James White (who has played about the same amount of snaps at receiver as he has at running back for the Patriots) and Rex Burkhead (who is also a fairly versatile back) will be entrusted with more targets on third downs.

Overall the Edelman injury is certainly a blow to the Patriots (yet another example that 4 preseason games is bad for football) but a sustainable one.

Just remember they still have Brady and as long as he’s healthy the Patriots are going to be in it.

Featured Image: Aug 25, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) holds his leg in pain after a play during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

 

Season Predictions For Every NFL Team

After months of getting hyped about the football season starting, and now being completely disappointed remembering that its just preseason football, we’re all eager to see some real football take place. There are two separate races taking place this season: one, to be the best team in the NFL and win the Super Bowl, while the other is to have the worst record in football and draft the best available quarterback in the upcoming draft.

Many may be curious on where their team is going to finish in this race and for good reason. While some are very obvious such as the Patriots and the Jets, other teams have a ton of uncertainty surrounding them. So lets get everyone ready for some football by predicting every teams win- loss record.

(In Alphabetical Order 5 per Page, look for Next Page buttons below):

Arizona Cardinals

The biggest question surrounding the Cardinals is if the window to win a championship is still open. Sorry to break it to Arizona fans but it’s not. Both Palmer and Fitzgerald are on the verge of retirement and the Cardinals have not improved their roster enough to make a final run.

Palmer and Fitzgerald are major pieces for the Cardinals and are 37 and 33 respectively. It’s hard not to expect a drop off from both players who have shown consistent signs of decline over the past few seasons. Especially with Palmer’s health concerns it would be a major upset if he is able to play at a high level all season or even start all 16 games.

On the upside, the Cardinals will be getting Tyrann Mathieu back from injury which is great news because when he is healthy he is a real game changer at times. They also bolstered their defense by adding two explosive young players in the draft. Haason Reddick is certainly the guy to keep an eye on. His quickness and body control is very impressive, also his open field tackling ability and his ability to find and punch holes to make big plays in the backfield will provide another dimension to the Cardinals defense.

So while the Cardinals have some quality talent up and down their roster, Father Time will catch up to them and cost them a chance at a title.

Prediction: 8-8

Atlanta Falcons

It’s really simple for the Falcons this upcoming season. The expectations for the Falcons are win the Super Bowl or the season is a complete bust. After suffering one of, if not the worst, lost in Super Bowl history, the Falcons biggest question heading into the upcoming season is their mental state as a team and the approach that they’ll take.

This cannot be stressed enough. Atlanta has to put the loss behind them immediately or it will not only affect them this season but it will effect the entire organization for years to come. Dan Quinn received much scrutiny for his coaching down the stretch in the Super Bowl and for good reason. However, it’s up to him to set his team down the right path, he has to earn back his players trust and show them that he has put it behind them then the Falcons will be able to truly achieve what their capable off.

The Falcons biggest accomplishment was maintaining their talent this offseason. They actually improved their roster this offseason by adding Dontari Poe from the Chiefs and adding defensive end Takkarist McKinley, both who should help solidify the Falcons defense. Desmond Trufant will also be back for the Falcons on defense which is no small thing as he was the teams best corner back before his injury last season.

It’s hard for me not to look at the Falcons and see similarities to the Panthers after they lost the Super Bowl. A step back for the Falcons seemed guaranteed, but Atlanta’s talent will keep them in the top tier of the NFL.

Prediction: 10-5

Baltimore Ravens

While the Ravens have improved their roster after two straight seasons of missing the playoffs, they haven’t done enough to really make that big of a difference.

Baltimore certainly saw that their defense needed work and took action. They added to their lackluster secondary by signing Tony Jefferson in free agency, and certainly drafted heavily on the defensive side. Baltimore took 4 notable players in Marlon Humphrey,  Tyus Bowser,  lineman Chris Wormley and Tim Williams. So its quite obvious that Baltimore was determined to get some young explosive talent on their defense and they seem to be in good shape.

But the deficiencies on offense seem to be too much to overcome. Even with Flacco having his best year as a starter since entering the NFL, the Ravens finished 8-8 and were second in their division. Their receiving core is downright bad with Mike Wallace being the number one threat. Along with the fact that this team doesn’t have a number one back and really no running game whatsoever.

A lot will be expected from the Ravens defense and they should be in the top half of the league. However this defense isn’t ready to carry a lackluster offense and their record will show it.

Prediction: 7-9

Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills finally seem to be making smart organizational decisions. The Bills stripped down their front office firing their GM and tearing down the majority of their staff. While the tear it down and rebuild approach won’t result in immediate on field results, it’s a good sign to see the Bills starting over and moving on from all the drama that has plagued them the past few years.

It wasn’t just the front office and coaching staff that got renovated. The Bills made huge changes to their roster losing Stephon Gilmore, Zach Brown, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and Nickell Robey-Coleman. Along with recently dealing away their most talented offensive weapon in Sammy Watkins, the Bills seem determined to get a top pick in this years draft.

Buffalo is in full tank mode and that’s what they need to do. Tyrod Taylor is not a franchise quarterback, he’s mediocre at best and the Bills see this. That’s why they’re all in to land a top quarterback in this years draft and build from the ground up.

Prediction: 4-12

Carolina Panthers

In 2015 the Panthers were one game away from winning the Super Bowl, then in 2016 they fell off a cliff and finished 6-10. The Panthers seemed determined to get their franchise back to championship contention and did a solid job at it.

The Panthers made it a priority to protect Newton this offseason and started with their lackluster offensive line. While the addition of Matt Kalil, and Taylor Moton aren’t moves that are gonna completely change the perception of the offensive line, it does show that the Panthers are taking steps to become a more aggressive and physically dominating offensive line.

Carolina also needed to inject some life into their pass rush as getting consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks was a struggle for Carolina all last season. While they did add Julius Peppers to make a more solid pass rushing rotation, it still feels like they need a dynamic pass rusher to add a spark to their defense.

Carolina continued to give Cam Newton as much help as possible by drafting Christian McCaffrey who alongside Jonathan Stewart will make one of the most dynamic backfields in the NFL.

The Panthers need Newton to be much better than he was last year if Carolina wants to be a true threat in a deep NFC.

Prediction: 10-6

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3 Reasons Why Kaepernick is Still a Free Agent That Don’t Involve His Protest

Written by: Mike Engelhard First off this is not a post to be political, but simply a post explaining the reasons why Kaepernick is not signed to an NFL team based on statistics. Despite a big push from fans and several athletes from various sports, including the NFL, Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned to any NFL […]

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via 3 Reasons Why Kaepernick is Still a Free Agent That Don’t Involve His Protest — Wingspan Sports

Win Your League – Tips to Help You Win it All

Let’s discuss some tips and tricks to help you gain a competitive edge over your league mates. Most fantasy players will have come across situations and decisions that over time become a little easier to deal with, but it takes a few years of experience to put it all together usually. Know Your League […]

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via Win Your League: Tips to Help You Win it All — Fact Fiction Fantasy

Analyzing Fantasy Football Draft Strategies: Running Back/Wide Receivers — Sports Reaction

For most fantasy football fans, and players, the running back/wide receiver positions are arguably the most important part of your team. Many fans have to draft their team for success, and it is always good to know the various strategies to draft these important positions.

Continuing reading below:

via Analyzing Fantasy Football Draft Strategies: Running Back/Wide Receivers — Sports Reaction