College Football Top 10: The BGPR (#4)

1. Alabama (8-0, previously #1)

Let’s be honest, huh? The Tide didn’t play Saturday because they got promoted to Sundays and are playing the Bears, right? Ok, not really; but Alabama is still clearly the best team in the country. Big road game next Saturday night in Death Valley against LSU.college-football-schedule

2. Clemson (8-0, previously #2)

Couple big resume-building wins over Louisville and at FSU make up for the lackluster performances early on the season against the likes of Auburn, Troy, and NC State. When the lights are bright, Clemson comes ready and can hang with anyone.

3. Louisville (7-1, previously #3)

Didn’t expect Louisville to be trailing Virginia in the final 30 seconds, but Lamar Jackson answered the bell and kept the Cardinals playoff hopes alive and well.

4. Michigan (8-0, previously #4)

An unimpressive 32-23 win over rival Michigan State won’t do much to convince those who were suspect of U-M. The Wolverines didn’t play particularly well in the second half, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Questions will remain until they go on the road and win handily (and let’s agree that we can’t count Rutgers).

5. Washington (8-0, previously #5)

The Huskies needed a punt return for a touchdown in the final four minutes to top Utah. Nevermind the blocks in the back that weren’t called. Hey — a win’s a win. And on another note, quarterback Jake Browning is gaining serious steam as a Heisman contender.

6. Ohio State (7-1, previously #6)

At the Horseshoe against Northwestern and Urban Meyer’s squad could only manage a 24-20 win? Buckeyes seem a little off. They’ll need to hurry up and find themselves before Nebraska visits the Shoe next Saturday or else any hopes of the playoff or a Big Ten title will be dashed.

7. Wisconsin (6-2, previously #9)

The eye test is a powerful thing. And the Badgers pass it. Even in losses to Michigan and Ohio State, Wisconsin was in those games right to the very end.

 8. Texas A&M (7-1, previously #8)

Routing New Mexico State a week after getting drilled by Alabama was step one in the recovery process for the Aggies. Three of their final four games are against teams that A&M should beat — but they could be tested. They still have a lot to play for, with the inside track to a New Year’s Six bid.

9. Nebraska (7-1, previously #7)

Nebraska might have proven more in their loss this past weekend at Camp Randall than they had in their previous 7 wins.

10. Florida (6-1, previously not ranked)

If it weren’t for a total meltdown defensively in the 4th quarter of the Tennessee game, we’d be talking about Florida being 7-0. Few really believe the Gators are playoff-worthy or will pose anything threat to Alabama, if the two meet in the SEC Championship Game. But for now, I’m not sure any other team deserves this spot.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

30 Things We Learned From Week 7 in the NFL

1. As long as LeGarrette Blount pounds the ball like he has in most games this season, the Patriots will remain the favorite in the AFC.

2. Landry Jones can fill in for Big Ben quite admirably. All the snaps the former Sooners QB has taken in preseason and last year appear to have helped.

3. DC Jim Schwartz deserves a lot of credit for what he’s done with Philly’s defense. With a rookie quarterback bound to hit the “rookie wall” at some point, the defense will need to carry the team many weeks.

4. Can someone, anyone stop Jay Ajayi??!! To think, some Fins fans wanted the kid released after missing the plane in week 1 when he was told he’d be playing behind Arian Foster.

5. The Colts do, I repeat, DO have a defense with a pulse!! (A faint one, but it’s there.)

6. Matthew Stafford is playing some of the best football of anyone in the NFL. A couple more wins and people around Detroit might actually hear the letters M.V.P. start being associated with their QB.

7. As someone who picked the Falcons to win the NFC South, I hate to see Atlanta lose at home to the Chargers. That’s a game they’d have lost in the past. Now, let all the questions begin — same old Falcons?

8. Minnesota needs to protect Sam Bradford or else you’re going to see the Sam Bradford we’ve seen in Philadelphia and St. Louis.

9. Aaron Rodgers has some weapons around him. How’s the loss of Eddie Lacy going to impact this offense, though?

10. If LeSean McCoy isn’t healthy, this Bills offense is not the same. It’s bad enough they are without Sammy Watkins on the outside.

11. Four roads wins is nothing to sneeze at. The Raiders can travel.

12. The Cubs are going to the World Series!! Oh, and the Bears played against the Packers.

13. The Indians are going to the World Series!! Oh, and the Browns played against the Bengals.

14. Was never quite sure why Todd Bowles benched Ryan Fitzpatrick in favor of Geno Smith after week 6. Had Smith not gotten hurt and been replaced by Fitzpatrick, the Jets might be 1-6.

15. In his fourth year in the NFL, it’s ironic that offensive-minded head coach Chip Kelly just cannot seem to find a QB to run his system.

16. Tennessee is 3-4, probably no better or no worse than many would have expected back in August. But quarterback Marcus Mariota has been erratic at many points so far this season, and his performance against a weak Colts defense in week 7 served as a microcosm of the young signal caller’s season — lots of missed targets on easy out routes and a fumble at the end that cost the Titans any shot at coming back to win.

17. As unwatchable as the SNF game was, the Seahawks proved that their defense isn’t ready to relinquish their spot atop the NFL as the league’s stingiest scoring defense.

18. Between penalties and turnovers and missed opportunities on offense, Washington did everything they could to lose the game in Detroit on Sunday. It worked.

19. Denver’s defense continues to impress. If it’s possible for a defending champion’s defense to fly under the radar, then that’s what they’re doing in Denver.

20. Arizona has something special in David Johnson. The second year RB had 113 yards rushing on 33 carries against Seattle. So much for thinking this kid can’t be an every-down back. Thirty-three carries!!

21. Baltimore had 6 yards on the ground on Sunday. Six. They rushed 12 times. Oh boy.

22. Houston has some explosive weapons on offense. But if Brock Osweiler can’t get on the same page with them, then this Texans team is no better off than they were last year with Brian Hoyer at the helm.

23. If James Winston and Mike Evans can figure out a way to be consistently on the same page, this could be a Matt Ryan – Julio Jones or Andy Dalton – AJ Green type of relationship in Tampa.

24. His team stinks, he’s playing at Arrowhead, and he’s up against one of the AFC’s best defenses — and Drew Brees still goes for 300 and 3 touchdowns. Hard to say he doesn’t get enough credit, but, seriously, he doesn’t get enough credit.

25. Landon Collins is putting together a stretch of games for the Giants where he looks to be the league’s next best defensive back.

26. Joey Bosa is quickly putting himself in the conversation for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

27. No 3-game losing streak or 4-interception game from Case Keenum is enough to get number 1 overall pick Jared Goff into the starting lineup. How bad does this kid look in practice for Jeff Fisher to not give him a shot? If not now, when?

28. The Chiefs defense gave up yards and TDs to Drew Brees, but when it came time to make the game-changing plays, KC was making them.

29. Blake Bortles missed a prime opportunity to move the Jaguars  into contention in the AFC South. Instead, against a Raiders defense that has made almost every opposing quarterback look like a hall-of-famer this year, the Jags QB went 23-43 for 246 yards, a TD and 2 INTs.

30. The Bengals ought to be thankful they got the Browns when they did — the schedule doesn’t get easier as the team travels to London this week to play a good Redskins team.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

College Football Rankings: The BGPR (#3)

1. Alabama (8-0, previously #1)

Another week, another win over a ranked team. The Tide are on another level than the rest of the college football world.college-football-schedule

2. Clemson (7-0, previously #3)

The Tigers are really unmatched as the number two team in the country. Yes, they’ve looked disinterested at times, and yes, they don’t have that same fire they seemed to have in ’15. But they’re still title contenders and are as talented as Alabama.

3. Louisville (6-1, previously #4)

A one-loss Louisville squad should have no problem maintaining it’s spot in the top-4. The offense is explosive and can they can score on anyone. From anywhere.

4. Michigan (7-0, previously #6)

Big wins fuel the fan base, but we all know U-M’s season rests on it’s trip to Columbus, where the winner seems all but guaranteed a spot in the playoff. The thing is even a loss to the Bucks, may not eliminate the Wolverines from playoff position in minds of voters.

5. Washington (7-0, previously #7)

Playing every week with something to prove, the Huskies are the Pac-12’s lone hope at crashing the playoff party. Big game this Saturday at Utah.

6. Ohio State (6-1, previously #2)

The loss to Penn State is brutal. But as weeks go by, we will see that the game at home against Michigan means everything. Win — they’re in.

7. Nebraska (7-0, previously #8)

The Cornhuskers didn’t put the Boilers down the way a top team needs to. But they have their first major test upcoming at Camp Randall this Saturday. Winner will be top-7 with a ceiling that’s getting higher, loser’s out of the top-10.

8. Texas A&M (6-1, previously #5)

The Aggies still have the look of a top-10 team even after the loss at Tuscaloosa.

9. Wisconsin (5-2, previously #9)

Big opportunity to position themselves back up the rankings if the Badgers can hold homefield against Nebraska.

10. West Virginia (6-0, previously #10)

Nice win over TCU on Saturday. Could have been a trap game, but the Mountaineers took care of business.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.

 

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

With TV Ratings Dominating the Headlines, the NFL has a Much More Serious Problem

Over the past few weeks, everyone — for whatever reason — has chimed in with their thoughts on why the NFL is experiencing low television viewership: too many commercials, bad refereeing, no star faces, over saturation
of the product, uninteresting matchups, and on and on. I know we feel it’s imperative that we get to the bottom of why people aren’t tuning in to watch NFL games (not like there’s an election at stake or real life issues we could be worrying or anything), but can we put all that on hold for just a minute and talk about a real problem the NFL has?

In fact, this problem is the reason we should turn off our TVs — but we won’t (but that’s a conversation for another day).

By now, many of you have at least heard the name Josh Brown. Whether you saw the story on TMZ or read snippets of the horrid details in the New York Post or USA Today or any other media outlet for that matter. images-7And if you haven’t, allow me to bring you up to speed.

Brown, a 37-year old veteran placekicker who’s been in the league since 2003, admitted in emails and letters that were originally dated 2014 and 2015, but were just made public this week, that he “physically, emotionally, and verbally” abused his then-wife Molly. In his own words, Brown described himself as “God” and his wife as his “slave”, as he reflected, therapeutically, on his behavior — which also included sexual deviance, an addiction to sex and pornography, and a belief that the money he made gave him the right to mistreat and look lowly upon his wife.

Brown was suspended in 2015 for one game — not a typo — one game for an incident in May of that year involving his wife. But the public didn’t know all the background and sordid details that make this much more than a one-time occurrence. However, guess who did know? The New York Giants. And, of course, the NFL.

The New York Giants ownership failed to either recognize the severity of domestic abuse or just plain didn’t care. In an interview with WFAN radio in New York this week, Giants owner John Mara said, “Certainly he admitted to us that he abused his wife.” And in 2015 after the incident was made public and the one-game suspension came down, Mara told the New York Post in August, “A lot of times there is a tendency to try to make these cases black and white. They are very rarely black and white.”

I’m no lawyer, no investigative journalist, no police detective — but this seems pretty black and white. It certainly is more black and white than the Deflategate saga that the commissioner, Roger Goodell, made into his own personal “Most Dangerous Game”. You’ll devote one and a half years of time, effort, energy, resources, and money into bringing down one of your star players for something that was found to be “more probable than not”, but you won’t spend a day or a week talking to people who may be able to shed more light on a player who has mental problems and a propensity for beating women?

Heck, Goodell’s job didn’t even have to be that difficult, if he chose to look more deeply at Brown. The NFL had it’s own records from the 2015 Pro Bowl, where security was called on Brown and officials had to relocate Brown’s estranged wife and children after the player showed up at their hotel room. Where were the interviews? Where were the witness accounts? Where was the victim’s story? Where were the victim’s children’s stories?

Where was the commissioner?

The NFL’s investigative team either didn’t do adequate follow-up from Brown’s suspension in ’15 or they didn’t do much investigating after the incident at the Pro Bowl. Or both. And then fast forward to now.

Reports surface, evidence gets made public and the NFL looks like they didn’t treat such a sensitive and serious issue with the proper handling that it required.

But, hey. Who can blame the NFL suits in the New York City offices for not being all over this? They’re dealing with very important matters like determining how much money to fine a player for a touchdown celebration or what penalty to impress upon a player when he wears cleats that don’t match the color scheme that the NFL requires.

Oh, but most importantly, Goodell and company are preoccupied with their month-long “October Pink Out”, where players, coaches, referees, ball boys, video technicians, crowd control staff, commentators, and anyone else they can force into partaking in this sham wear pink wristbands, socks, gloves, hats, and blinders (oops) to show just how much the league cares about women.

So see? The commissioner has a lot on his plate.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.

 

 

 

 

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Unchartered Waters Ahead for the Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila has stated his case. Supported it with evidence. Ardently declared a new road will be taken this off-season. Are Tigers fans ready for this? Better yet, is Mike Ilitch ready for this?

The Tigers, who for over a decade, have bought and bought and bought players — many of whom experts and fans thought Detroit had no shot at landing. Owner Mike Ilitch loves stars and wants to make them his stars.b9324176108z-1_20161009001159_000_g0jg00f7u-1-0 And he has little issue with opening the pursestrings when he feels it’s time. From Juan Gonzalez to Prince Fielder, ending with the latest in Justin Upton last season. Just when everyone thinks the wheeling and dealing is dead, the beloved “Mr. I” enters the room, smiles, and empties the piggybank in the lap of a superstar player. Often times to the (pick your own adjective here) dismay, shock, surprise, elation of his general manager and personnel guys. Not that having an owner, who is willing to pay whatever price is asked in order for his team to be competitive year-in and year-out, is a bad thing. It’s just tough to manage so many enormous salaries. And that brings us to the winter of 16-17.

Al Avila is charged with the task of making the Tigers “younger and leaner”, as he said in his press conference this week, when talking about the team’s immediate future. With the massive (and likely unmovable) contracts of Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Justin Upton, and Victor Martinez, the Tigers have little room left to pay their up-and-coming stars the money they will be commanding — some sooner than later. Thus, this winter promises to be intriguing, if nothing else, for fans of the team who’s motto for years has been to throw caution to the wind and pay any luxury tax that is placed on them.

Here are five things that all Tigers fans should hope happen in the coming months before pitchers and catchers report in February.

1. Trade J.D. Martinez.

This hurts because J.D. Martinez is just the type of young player, who can hit for average and for power, that jdmartinezfits what the Tigers should want. But he’s also the perfect example of what happens when there’s just no money left in the checkbook because older vets took it in large, long contracts. Martinez is likely to command a long-term deal north of $24 million per year when his current deal expires after the ’17 season. That’s not something the Tigers can even consider paying. At the same time, they cannot let him up and walk away for nothing when he becomes a free agent. Avila will get the most in return for the 29-year old outfielder — not just unproven prospects. And the sooner it happens, the more valuable Martinez is.

2. Trade Justin Verlander.

The former league MVP and Cy Young award winner had a bit of a revival in 2016. Verlander will finish high in the Cy Young voting, again, this season, making his trade value higher than it will be from here on out for the rest of his career. Although, it would take something of a minor miracle for another team to take on the ace’s $28 million per year contract. But much stranger things have happened. Verlander would bring in a haul of players and prospects in return. Avila would be savvy to look to playoff contenders that need a strong arm and have pieces to trade away — Boston, the New York Yankees, Seattle to name a few.

3. Victor Martinez retires.

With David Ortiz stepping away, there are few better DHs in MLB right now. Victor Martinez is a “professional hitter”. But his contract, brokered by former Tigers GM David Dombrowski, is an albatross. Martinez, who will turn 38 years old next season, is set to earn a base salary of $18 million in 2017. That’s a huge chunk of money devoted to a player of that age, who has already experienced long-lasting knee, back, and hamstring injuries. He’s not exactly very easily tradable — couldn’t go to the National League and not sure many AL teams want that age or that contract.

4. Pick up Cameron Maybin’s option. Then trade him.

cameron-maybin-mlb-minnesota-twins-detroit-tigers-1-850x560Cameron Maybin, arguably, was the most impactful Tiger of the 2016 season. When Maybin started, Detroit was 51-38; and when the CF scored a run, the team was 34-9. Maybin’s option for 2017 would cost the Tigers only $9 million. Here’s the catch — that’s only for a year. What happens in 2018? Why not get what you can for Maybin now and cash in while his stock is as high as it’s ever been? Platooning JaCoby Jones and Anthony Gose in centerfield — along with possibly whatever pieces come into Detroit from other deals — could be effective.

5. Re-sign Francisco Rodriguez.

K-Rod’s contract will only cost the team $6 million, which is a very affordable price — just about half of what Aroldis Chapman and David Robertson make. Plus, it doesn’t appear Bruce Rondon is ready to be the closer,
yet. Make Rondon the 8th inning guy in 2017 with Rodriguez remaining as the closer; and proceed after ’17 with Rondon transitioning to the 9th inning. With the free agent market for closers looking quite full this off-season, it wouldn’t be a wise move on K-Rod’s part to want to test the open market.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.

 

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

30 Things We Learned After Week 6 in the NFL

1. Dak Prescott should be the Cowboys starting QB. Period. I’ve been saying it for weeks. The latest evidence is none other than a dominant win in Lambeau this past weekend. Prescott has led Dallas to the best rushing attack in the NFC and the third best offense in the NFL. Seems like a no-brainer to stick with what they having going.

2. I’m not sure why everyone thought Carolina was some force of nature, and that Cam Newton was the greatest QB in the league. The 2015 season was outstanding for the Panthers, but this is a team that’s gone through ebbs and flows for years now — ever since Newton became a pro. Since 2011, look at what Carolina’s done: 6-10, 7-9, 12-4, 7-8-1, and 15-1. Last year was an “up” year, this one’s a “down” year.

3. Seattle proved a little rest on the bye week might be just what they needed. An impressive win against the league’s hottest offense could set this team right moving forward. They’re in as good a shape as any team in that division. And they’ve got the veteran leadership who’ve been through it.

4. Andy Reid is now 16-2 following a bye week after his Chiefs dismantled the Oakland Raiders. KC now has Jamaal Charles back and healthy, which should help to make Alex Smith even more efficient.

5. Rob Gronkowski looks to be back after a week 6 performance that saw the flu-ridden tight end grab 7 balls for a career-best 162 yards.

6. If anyone can figure out the Pittsburgh Steelers, please feel free to explain. An embarrassing, flat, uninspired performance in Miami has the Steelers reeling a bit, heading into their week 7 battle against the Patriots.

7. I had the Buffalo Bills winning 5 games this year, I think; and after an 0-2 start and firing Greg Roman as the team’s OC, I thought my prediction was maybe a bit too generous. Then, unexpectedly, the Bills go ahead and beat down the Cardinals, shut out the Pats in Foxboro, win in L.A. and destroy the 49ers. When you’re wrong, you’re wrong. Looks like I was wrong. And a big reason — aside from the defense — is LeSean McCoy. Shady’s gone for 7 TDs through 6 games this year after totaling a measly 5 all of 2015.

8. Washington has won four in a row and it should be no surprise that the win streak coincides with the Skins’ renewed commitment to the run. Washington ranks 12th in the NFL in rushing yards after a very slow start the first 2 weeks of the season.

9. Colin Kaepernick may not be the answer after all in SF. It’s definitely not a good sign when head coach Chip Kelly refuses to support Kap as the starter for week 7. At this point, it’d be hard to argue that Kelly shouldn’t just play for the number 1 pick in the draft so he can draft a QB he wants. The 49ers do have the 4th best ground game in the NFL at 123 yards per game. The problem is they have no defense so running the ball doesn’t work too well when you’re always playing from behind.

10. Odell Beckham, Jr. might be a little nuts, a little eccentric. But his 2016 season really doesn’t look much different than his 2015 year. With the slow start behind him, OBJ will be putting up video game numbers in the weeks ahead — week 6 was just the beginning.

11. Colts fans want blood. General manager Ryan Grigson should be in the crosshairs — this is not a good football team that surrounds Andrew Luck (even Luck, himself, may have received too much praise so far in his young career). If fans expect a coaching change, though, I wouldn’t expect much to happen with head man Chuck Pagano. If he can avoid being fired after this head-scratching play-call last year, my man is untouchable:

 

12. After the first 3 weeks against the Bills (before their offense was scoring at all), the Browns (who are the Browns), and the Jaguars, Baltimore’s defense looked very good. In fact, it’s still a top-10 defense and number two in the NFL in total yards. But the last three games — against offenses that have a pulse — the Ravens have gone 0-3. Until the Ravens offense can operate more efficiently, they can’t keep relying on their D for too much.

13. The Raiders may be the best team in the AFC West — but they are going to need to start playing defense at some point.

14. Finally, Jay Ajayi had a game that many expected from him coming into the 2016 season. What we didn’t expect was that his first career 200-yard game would come against the Steelers.

15. Lions fans will tell you their team should be 5-1. Maybe they’re right. The last 2 weeks, though, Detroit has won games they need to win at home despite injuries piling up on both sides of the ball.

16. The schedule makers didn’t do Atlanta any favors by sending them across the country to Denver and then Seattle in consecutive weeks. To come out of that 1-1 isn’t too bad. In fact, the Falcons may have learned quite a bit about themselves thanks to the scheduling. Plus, no harm no foul — no one in the division seems capable of applying any pressure to Atlanta’s hopes of an NFC South crown.

17. The Bears should be thankful that the Cubs are still playing and hogging all the attention in the Windy City.

18. Case Keenum and Kenny Britt have quite the chemistry. After hooking up 7 times on 8 targets on Sunday for 136 yards and 2 scores, the Rams offense doesn’t look half bad. The problem is the defense — a defense, led by Aaron Donald, that is supposed to be one of the league’s nastiest — has failed to show up in weeks. At 3-3 now, you wonder if the “King of 7-9”, Jeff Fisher, is headed that way once again.

19. Something is wrong in Green Bay with their aerial attack. I now, it’s not breaking news or anything, but something just isn’t right. Perennial MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers has watched his efficiency numbers and his completion percentage go down over the past year and a half. Sunday’s loss at home to the Cowboys was a microcosm of Rodgers’ play as of late — decent numbers in the end (294 yards), but when it mattered and the game was still close, the quarterback was throwing for a sickly 5.7 yards per toss.

20. Houston had no business beating Indy on SNF — the Colts had no business winning, though, either. Think the Texans are regretting handing Brock Osweiler that enormous, unearned contract? He’s the 29th rated passer (counting QBs who’ve thrown 100-plus attempts). I guess somebody’s gotta win that division.

21. Back-to-back losses and off comes some of the shine we all waxed on Carson Wentz after the rookie’s 3-0 start. It’s not all on Wentz, though. The defense hasn’t been as sharp since the bye week. Philly is going to have to figure out what’s wrong or else they’re going to get left behind in a division that is starting to look pretty good.

22. The Denver defense can carry that team a long way. The more C.J. Anderson touches the ball, the better for the Broncos offense.

23. There was talk after last Thursday’s win in San Diego about the Chargers being a legit playoff contender. I know win-loss records don’t always tell the whole story, but when you’re losing more than you’re winning and you don’t pass the eye test, hmmmm. Not to mention, the AFC West isn’t exactly full of a bunch of pushovers.

24. David Johnson looks like he’s adjusting nicely to being Arizona’s full-time RB. People doubted his inside-the-tackles running ability and his ability to withstand the hits and the punishment of being the lead dog. Through 6 weeks, he looks just fine: third in the league with 94.7 yards a game and an NFL-best 8 rushing TDs.

25. Everyone who watched the Saints win the Super Bowl in ’09 will never forget head coach Sean Payton’s onside kick call. The coach is aggressive and will pull out all the tricks when he needs to. Drew Brees racked up his 15th career 400-yard passing game Sunday — an NFL-record. Tight end Coby Fleener rushed for a TD on a designed call. The best thing about the Saints struggling this season might be that Payton will coach with even less caution than normal, which should mean viewers and fans will at least be treated to some excitement when watching New Orleans play.

26. It’s a minor miracle that Cody Kessler is well enough to keep trotting out to lead the Browns as their QB. The rookie signal-caller was sacked by 6 six different Titans on Sunday; and we should probably expect to see much of the same with the Browns offensive line in shambles.

27. While A.J. Green leads the league in receptions (42) and is second, only to Julio Jones, in yards receiving (606), the rest of the Bengal offense is wavering. The unit has managed only 10 touchdowns thru 6 weeks — ahead of only the Seahawks and Texans.

28. The Jets schedule has been difficult — no question. But the Big Green Machine needs someone other than Brandon Marshall to step up as a playmaker or else it won’t matter who’s on the schedule.

29. Blake Bortles put together the comeback game of his young career on Sunday versus the Bears. Down 16-0 in the 4th, Bortles led the Jags to 17 unanswered points, including a 51-yard touchdown in the end to put Jacksonville up for good. Two straight wins and Gus Bradley’s troops are right back in the thick of the divisional race.

30. Thanks to DeMarco Murray, Titan wide receivers are enjoying a lot of one-one coverage on the outside. Kendall Wright and Richard Matthews are quickly becoming fantasy must-haves. Don’t look now, but Tennessee is 3-3 and Marcus Mariota has the offense rolling.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

College Football Top 10: The BGPR (#2)

1. Alabama (7-0, previously #1)

There’s Alabama and then there’s everyone else. That’s not to say Alabama is unbeatable and another team Football Close Up on Fieldcouldn’t and wouldn’t beat them head-to-head, but the Crimson Tide seem like they have a whole other level they can go to when they choose to.

2. Ohio State (6-0, previously #4)

Two very good road wins in Norman and Camp Randall boost the Buckeyes to the 2 spot this week. J.T. Barrett is making himself a very worthy Heisman candidate.

3. Clemson (7-0, previously #2)

Tough (and lucky) win at home against N.C. State this weekend. First game in weeks that Clemson didn’t look like a national championship-caliber team. That happens though. When they’re on, the Tigers can play with any team in the land — the Louisville win proved as much.

4. Louisville (5-1, previously #3)

Like Clemson, Louisville was unimpressive in their win this past week. But there’s no need to worry or kill them for it — this team shows up for the big games.

5. Texas A&M (6-0, previously #5)

If A&M wants to remain in the discussion for the playoff, they have one job and they know what it is, all too well — beat Alabama. After the trip to Tuscaloosa, the schedule becomes very manageable for the Aggies. This Saturday’s game could be Texas A&M’s season.

6. Michigan (6-0, previously #7)

The Colorado win and the Wisconsin win are gifts that keep on giving — both the Buffs and the Badgers appear to be legit. That only helps the U-M resume. But in all honesty, forget the resume — beat OSU in November and the Wolverines will be in the playoff. Not much else on the schedule should hold them back.

7. Washington (6-0, previously #6)

Washington’s lone resume-building win, Stanford, doesn’t really do much now that the Cardinal sits at 4-2 after getting taken apart by Washington State and squeaking past the Irish Saturday night. But the Huskies have utterly dominated every team they’ve played, aside from an OT thriller in the desert against the Wildcats. If they keep winning like they’ve been, it’s, soon, going to be hard to keep them out of the top-4.

8. Nebraska (6-0, previously unranked)

Nebraska doesn’t have that scary, light-you-up offense that every team in college football seems to need in order to be a top-tier team. They should enjoy another week in the top-10, as the Cornhuskers prepare for Purdue — who just canned their head coach. After that, however, back-to-back trips to  Camp Randall and the Horseshoe will give us a really good idea of how good this Nebraska team is.

9. Wisconsin (4-2, previously #10)

Losses to two top-4 teams by a combined 14 points stings for Badger fans, but they can take solace in knowing they’ve got a solid top-10 team in the country.

10. West Virginia (5-0, previously unranked)

The Mountaineers haven’t really been tested, but their schedule gets real busy in the season’s last month — at Texas and home against Oklahoma and Baylor. If they manage to navigate through that stretch, the Mountaineers will have, certainly, earned playoff consideration.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

28 Things We’ve Learned After Week 5 in the NFL

images-6

1. Minnesota is as real a Super Bowl contender as there is in the NFC. Sam Bradford has been a perfect fit in the Twin Cities — and has even garnered early consideration for MVP. On the other side of the ball, the Viking defense is the best in the NFL.

2. For years we have seen the Atlanta Falcons get out to fast starts, but doesn’t something feel different this time? The week 5 trip to Denver, going up against a great defense, was the perfect time for a typical Atlanta misstep. Instead, the Falcons won a tight game 23-16 and had to rely on their defense.

3. Tom Brady is back. Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski look like the double tight end threat that Bill Belichick has been searching for. Pats got back on track after the shutout loss a week ago.

4. Oakland’s defense was supposed to be much better. But remember, the Raiders have played some of the best, most explosive offenses in the NFL in the first five weeks — the Saints, Falcons, and Chargers. Don’t give up quite yet on this defense. The next 8 games are favorable for the Raiders — could be very telling for their defense.

5. Romo out, Dez hurt, rookie QB, rookie RB. And here stands Dallas at 4-1, atop the division. This team is for real and shouldn’t have any problem telling Tony Romo, when he’s healthy, to have a seat behind Dak Prescott.

6. The more Pittsburgh plays, the harder it is to believe that Philadelphia took them to task, 34-3, a few weeks ago. The Steelers have so many weapons.

7. The Bronco defense is one of the best, but to beat the league’s best teams, they will need to score points. The quarterback position has a lot to prove.

8. Short week for Arizona with a backup QB stepping in to start. Drew Stanton’s 11-28 for 124 yards wasn’t great, but he knew enough to get the ball to playmakers David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals looked like that game could have gotten them back on track. No one saw them starting out 2-3.

9. Brian Hoyer has looked good for the Bears, filling in for the injured Jay Cutler. But let’s not go crazy — this is the same Brian Hoyer who couldn’t keep his starting job in Cleveland and then threw 4 picks in a 30-0 loss in last season’s playoff game against KC. It may seem better now, but it won’t last.

10. As badly as the Lions tried to give the game away against the Eagles on Sunday, they managed to win despite making no halftime adjustments. This is a game that we will describe as one that Philly lost, not that the Lions won. Have to wonder how Jim Caldwell continues to keep his job.

11. Stop me if this sounds familiar: Houston beats up on teams they’re better than, but gets routed by the league’s legit contenders.

12. Well, the Carson Wentz dream season of 16-0 is over. Road games in the NFL can never be taken for granted. Philly will have work to do on the offensive side of the ball, as word gets out on Wentz. But the defense is really good and has the Eagles with almost as many wins as I expected them to have for the season.

13. A home game against the depleted Bears and the Colts barely squeaked out the victory. Now come the reports that GM Ryan Grigson is unhappy with Andrew Luck’s gargantuan contract — which Grigson, himself, helped broker. Last season, it was head coach Chuck Pagano’s contract that was the in-season distraction, this season we have this. When did the Colts turn into such a soap opera?

14. Three straight wins by Washington may be masking some bigger, deeper problems in D.C. The offense ranks 3rd out of 4 in the division, and the total defense is 27th in the NFL.

15. Don’t be surprised if over the next couple days you are contacted by someone from the Cleveland Browns front office, asking if you have an interest in starting for the Browns at quarterback next week.

16. It’s not just Odell Beckham, Jr.’s fantasy owners who have a problem with the Giants offense — it should be all New York fans. The G-men are 18th in the league in total yards and have only thrown 5 passing TDs through 5 weeks. Very low and disappointing numbers considering all the expectations placed on this offense at the start of the year.

17. The Buffalo Bills have quickly gone from 0-2 and on the brink of a collapse to three straight wins and looking like a team that is serious. While the Bills passing attack is dreadful — last in the NFL, they are third in rushing; and the defense is sixth in scoring (17.4 ppg) and T-5 in interceptions.

18. All the money Miami has spent on their defense over the last 2 offseason sure doesn’t look like it’s paying off. The Fins are a bottom-5 defense in total yards and interceptions — they have 1 pick in 5 games. And the area that everyone expected to be most headache-inducing for opposing offenses — the defensive pass rush — has only 10 sacks, good enough for 16th in the league.

19. No one has ever accused Chip Kelly of being a defensive-minded coach — and I don’t see those accusations coming any time soon. The 49ers look to be able to put points on the board, offensively; however, they can’t stop a soul on the defense — 28.0 ppt given up.

20. Why the Bengals don’t have a stronger commitment to running the football is beyond me. Two very capable RBs make up that Cincy backfield in Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard. They are 25th in the NFL in rushing.

21. The 3-0 start in Baltimore seems like it was ages ago. The offense lacks any and all explosiveness — 26th in first down percentage and 25th in plays resulting in 20-plus yards. The defense has been good, but you have to wonder can it last with such ineptitude on the offensive side of the ball.

22. Tennessee looks to have the right balance between a quarterback who limits mistakes, a running back who is a horse, and a pass-catching tight end who is one of the best at the position. The offense isn’t blowing anybody out, but they don’t have to. The defense is top-10 in total yards and has done a nice job of keeping the offense in striking distance.

23. Green Bay may not been getting all the glamour shots and may not be the sexy pick right now, but they’re managing to hold things together despite hits to their defense, left and right. Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers and the run game is serving the offense well.

24. Who are the LA Rams? One week this club looks like they have a defense that is capable of stopping any offense in football, the next they can’t keep the Buffalo Bills from scoring 30. Offensively, we know the problems that exist, but the bright spot was supposed to be this defense. Too inconsistent for anyone to know what’s going on.

25. Carolina is not the same team they were in ’15. Cam’s not the same — thus the offense isn’t the same. And the defense, you ask? They gave up 101 yards rushing to Jacquizz Rodgers last night on MNF. Not the same team by any means.

26. I’m going to keep saying it: the Jets first 6 games are brutal. It won’t get easier in week 6 against the Cardinals, who appear to have found their groove. But the schedule gets considerably easier after that game. If the Jets can keep their heads above water, they have a lot that could go right from them in their final 10 games.

27. I think through five weeks, it’s safe to say that the Chargers are going to have to rely, heavily, on their offense this year. They’ve been involved high scoring, shootouts in 4 of 5 games this season and have allowed 33, 34, and 34 points in 3 of their 4 losses. This may be bad news for San Diego fans, but fantasy owners should look to pick up Phillip Rivers and his offensive weapons.

28. If Tampa can more consistent pay from all areas, they’d the team that some predicted would make a big jump this year. Instead, he the offense is lighting it up, the defense can’t stop anyone. And when the defense is shutting down offenses, James Winston and company fall asleep. Last night, the Bucs had it going on both sides (they weren’t totally efficient on offense, but good enough) so, of course, leave it up to special teams to let them down for most of the game.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

College Football Top 10: The Brian Goodwin Power Rankings (BGPR) #1

1. Alabama (6-0)

The defensive play hasn’t been typical lights-out like we are used to seeing with Nick Saban-coached teams. But that’s the growing trend in college (and NFL football) — offenses are going to score lots of points and defenses have to do just enough to win and make the key play at the key moment. And Alabama does that. Itncaa-football-cfp-national-championship-media-day-1-590x900 doesn’t hurt the the Tide’s offense is electric, itself, led by freshman Jalen Hurts, who’s proven he has the arm and the legs to lead the offense. Bama is the clear number one right now. Even if they lose a game, it’s hard to not view them as a top-4 team in the country.

2. Clemson (6-0)

The Tigers definitely came out of the blocks slowly in 2016 with sloppy, unimpressive wins over Auburn and Troy. Since, Clemson has looked more like the team we expected would show up this year and contend for the number one spot in the country right from the start. The win over Louisville is what puts the Tigers at 2, above the Cardinals and Ohio State.

3. Louisville (4-1)

The Cardinals could be the best team out there. It’s very questionable how any defense in the nation would do against Lamar Jackson. Even Clemson — who’s defense is outstanding — could only hold the Heisman Trophy front runner in check for a half. This is the most exciting offense to watch and if the defense can hold up, they’ll be in prime playoff position all season long.

4. Ohio State (5-0)

The Buckeyes are doing what the Bucks always seem to do early on — win and win big. Usually against substandard teams. This year, the win in Norman against the Sooners stands out, but it’s hard to tell just how good this team is right now after seemingly going at half-speed against the likes of Rutgers and Indiana.

5. Texas A&M (6-0)

Head coach Kevin Sumlin has raised the bar at A&M and, often, his teams fail to meet expectations. But this year — so far, so good. The Aggies have a high-powered offense that dominated an improved Arkansas team and held off a valiant charge from the Volunteers this past Saturday. Of the remaining teams on this list, A&M looks the most impressive against decent competition.

6. Washington (6-0)

With Stanford getting taken apart by Washington State over the weekend, the Huskies big win over the Cardinal looks less impressive. But U-W has done it’s job so far and has a look of a team that should win the Pac-12. Now, winning the conference out west doesn’t automatically mean we’re talking about playoffs. But the Huskies have a lot of season left to change the experts’ mindsets.

7. Michigan (6-0)

Like Washington, Michigan has gotten it done over teams they are clearly much much better than. Their best win is over Wisconsin, who played real tough in Ann Arbor. We’ll know more about Michigan when they play on the road — Rutgers doesn’t count. But in all honesty, this is a really weak schedule, especially with Michigan State looking off this season, and the only game that matters is the one at the end in Columbus. It’s a one-game season for the Wolverines.

8. Ole Miss (3-2)

I know, 2 losses — how can the Rebels be slotted at 8? Easy, they held double-digit leads on both Alabama and FSU before surrendering them. Ole Miss plays tough teams and are tested. Put them in a big game and they will be ready. I relate it to those college basketball teams — like MSU and Tom Izzo — who front load tough matchups in the early portion of the schedule to test themselves and get them “postseason-ready”. Ole Miss isn’t and won’t be afraid or intimidated to play against anyone.

9. Tennessee (5-1)

This is the team of 9 lives. Big comeback wins against Florida and Georgia helps make the Vols a team that won’t give  up in any game. They never think they’re out of it — and they’ve got an offense that supports that thought. Despite losing to Texas A&M on Saturday, the Vols showed that never-say-die attitude and came back from a double-digit deficit to force overtime. Big game against Alabama this weekend will show us exactly how good this team is. A win could vault Tennessee into the top 6 and make them a real, legit playoff contender.

10. Wisconsin (4-1)

The annihilation of the Spartans in East Lansing a few weeks ago had the shine come off after they went into Ann Arbor and lost to Michigan at their own game — slow, sluggish, pound-it-out. Not to mention, MSU has lost 3 straight so how impressive was the Badgers win there? All that said, Paul Chryst’s team is tough and has that very important ability to make teams play the game that Wisconsin wants. If Michigan keeps winning (and the Badgers do too, of course), the loss in Ann Arbor shouldn’t hurt them too much. Get to Indy and anything is possible.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

30 Things We Have Learned a Quarter of the Way Through the NFL Season

1. Something isn’t right in Carolina. It’s one thing if the offense is a little off — injuries to their backfield and adjusting to having Kelvin Benjamin back in the fold can explain that. But what’s a problem is the defense. Usually stout, the Panthers defense has let Trevor Siemian, Blaine Gabbert, and Sam Bradford put up very good offensive performances against them. And then in week 4, they let Matt Ryan and Julio Jones utterly abuse them.

2. The other team in last year’s NFC Championship Game isn’t without their own issues. In back to back weeks, the Cardinals offense has gotten ripped apart by Buffalo and L.A., respectively. To add injury to insult (literally), Carson Palmer will be going through concussion protocol all next week.

3. When should we all take a step back and re-evaluate Andrew Luck? They’re 1-3 and just got sideswiped by the London– I mean Jacksonville — Jaguars. This doesn’t appear to be a very good Colts team and Luck, in turn, doesn’t seem to be making them all that much better.

4. New England survived the Tom Brady-less  start to the year with a 3-1 record, relying on a couple of unproven arms and without the services of a healthy Rob Gronkowski. Brady’s back now and we can assume the Patriots will put their week 4 shutout loss at home to Buffalo in their rearview mirror.

5. Atlanta’s defense has not played any where near the level many expected it to. But who cares when you have an offense putting up the kind of numbers they are. Matt Ryan just lit up the defending NFC Champions for 503 yards through the air — with 300 of them to Julio Jones. You heard correct — 300!!!

6. Dallas is grinding out wins. Time of possession, few mistakes by Dak Prescott, and a solid running game are all contributing to Dallas’ surprising play through the first four weeks. And without Romo or a healthy Dez. Maybe a changing of the guard in Dallas has just happened before out very eyes.

7. No team can be more pleased to be hitting the bye week than the Seahawks. The offense appears fixed thanks to Christine Michael and the novel idea of involving Jimmy Graham. Seattle could be hitting their stride.

8. I keep expecting Denver to look like a team who’s starting QB is unproven and untested. And all they do is keep winning. I’m going to credit the defense and continue to say we need to wait and see on Trevor Siemian.

9. After a week 1 shutout loss to the 49ers, all the Rams have done is hold Seattle to 3 points, the Cardinals to 13, and when they needed to score, they out-slugged the Bucs 37-32. I’m not totally sure what Jeff Fisher’s team is all about, but they’re 3-1.

10. There’s no question the Jets schedule early on is tough. Starting out 1-5 is not out of the question so no one in New York be completely losing their minds. But the losses to Cincy and KC have been tough for Jets fans to swallow. Things get easier in a few weeks.

11. With expectations high in Jacksonville this year, some thought this past week’s London game was a must win. Well, they won. Can they start turning things around now? Houston will be hard to catch and Tennessee isn’t a pushover either.

12. Chicago loses Jay Cutler and Jeremy Langford, so of course, they beat the Lions. Alshon Jeffery might be the only player on offense for the Bears who survives the year.

13. Washington’s offense looks they’ve found their way, again. Kirk Cousins’s job appears safe for the time being, and the Redskins are right back in the conversation for the best team in the East.

14. Oakland’s defense is being met with a lot of criticism, however, they’ve played very well against teams who don’t have crazy, out of this world offenses. They were made to look like swiss cheese against the Saints and Falcons — but most teams do. Against the Titans and Ravens, Oakland played well and won.

15. The 0-16 dream in Cleveland is a reasonable assertion. Hue Jackson will turn things around there, but it’s not time yet. For now, let’s enjoy this dumpster fire.

16. Unexplainable and inexcusable loss for the Lions at Chicago over the weekend. That loss just makes the 2 before that even worse. Can someone let Bob Quinn know that an offensive line could be helpful? Oh, and some semblance of a rushing attack.

17. Jameis Winston may very well have a bright future in this league, but right now his team isn’t good enough and he’s not experienced enough to put them on his back.

18. Going to the West Coast on a short week proved no problem for the Saints. You have to assume the return to San Diego played a part in Drew Brees’s game preparation. Emotional comeback win for the Saints. But this team’s defense isn’t going to allow them to win many games this year.

19. It’s like the Thursday night game in Foxboro never happened. The Texans picked up right where they left off in week 2. Probably a team good enough to win the AFC South, but how far they can go in the playoffs is very very questionable.

20. Not many teams will be able to say they beat the Pats and the Cards this year. The Bills can, and they deserve credit for turning things around after what was an awful first 2 weeks. With Sammy Watkins, though, now on IR, the Bills are going to have to figure out ways to get points on the board.

21. AJ Green is not human. If Cincinnati can consistently balance their run game with the pass, this offense will be tough to stop.

22. Baltimore’s 3-0 start was fraudulent. This is not a good offense and the defense isn’t good enough to win games by themselves.

23. After a couple of weeks where the offense looked great and appeared to be unstoppable, the Dolphins go to Cincinnati and lay an egg. The other problem in Miami is that defense is not as active or as good as was expected.

24. Any panic that arose after the Eagles plastered the Steelers a week ago can be dismissed. Great teams lose games like that every now and again. For Pittsburgh, that was their stinker of a game. With LeVeon Bell back, the Steelers look like a dominant force.

25. DeMarco Murray is showing he’s just as good as he was when he left Dallas 2 years ago. The Titans are just missing some key components — better O-line, defensive playmakers, deep threat on the outside. They’re not as far away as people want to think they are.

26. Can we stop thinking an imminent Viking collapse is coming? Expectations went from possible borderline Super Bowl contender to missing the playoffs completely when they lost Teddy Bridgewater. The it only got worse when Adrian Peterson went out. But this defense is exceptional and Sam Bradford might have found the perfect landing spot.

27. So in four games, the Chiefs defense probably grades out like this: F against SD, C against Houston, A+ against the Jets, and an F against the Steelers. Maybe they’re getting their bearings or maybe we haven’t seen the true KC defense yet. Through four games, I’m not sure what Andy Reid has down there.

28. The Chargers are going to have to slug it out with most teams this season. They’ll win some and lose some. Expect Phillip Rivers’s numbers to continue to grow.

29. The Giants are pretty much where many expected them through 4 games. They are right in the mix in the NFC East. The rush defense has played better than expected, but, oddly, the offense hasn’t been as explosive as most predicted.

30. A winnable game against the Cowboys drops the Niners to 1-3. But the players seem to really like Chip Kelly. The roster just isn’t talented enough to do much right now.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail