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The General’s NFL Proclamations-Week 5

Phillip Rivers has a challenge this week versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. (photo courtesy of

Phillip Rivers has a challenge this week versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. (photo courtesy of

A quarter of the season has finished and we have some teams that have surprised us. No one thought the Atlanta Falcons would be undefeated at this juncture of the season. And to the surprise of everyone, the Falcons defense looks more solid than they have in a few years. On the flipside, there are some teams that have not reached the expectations that were set forth for them. The Eagles and the Lions come to mind when you think of teams missing the mark. Both these teams have combined for only one win as they try to figure everything out. And just like teams are trying to find themselves and figure things out, so are some players. Week Five could be the week teams and players figure it out. With that being said, let’s jump into the General Proclamations for Week Five.

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans

  1. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matthew Hasselbeck will throw for at least three touchdowns versus the Texans. He was solid in his last start for Andrew Luck and should be better this time around with who he is facing. The Texans have not exactly been great this season defensively and they could be a site for sore eyes Thursday night.
  2. Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Andre Johnson has been in a funk this season. But what better game to break out of it then to face your former team. Johnson will account for at least 100 yards receiving and will score one touchdown versus the Texans. He will be very hype for this game.
  3. Texans running back Arian Foster will rush for 100 yards versus the Colts. Indianapolis has shown that they can be run on and Foster will sure get to have his chances.

Chicago Bears at Kansas City Chiefs

  1. Alex Smith has had a rough go of it the last couple of weeks. But the Bears are like sunshine on a cloudy day for him. Expect him to throw for at least two touchdown passes (one to a wide receiver) and he will even get to 250 yards passing.
  2. Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler will not want to be overlooked in this one and will try to make some things happen. But unfortunately, he will make things happen for the Kansas City Chiefs. Cutler will throw at least two interceptions against a Chiefs secondary that has been struggling. This game ought to make them feel better.
  3. Justin Houston has been a monster for the Chiefs rushing the passer. This week, he goes on the prowl versus the Bears. And unfortunately for Jay Cutler, he will have a successful hunt of him Sunday, getting 2 sacks of the veteran quarterback.

Seattle Seahawks at Cincinnati Bengals

  1. The Bengals have been solid defensively and the Seahawks offensive line has been subpar. That combination will lead to the Bengals getting at least four sacks. Russell Wilson will help the line avoid more than four sacks, but he cannot make all the Bengals miss.
  2. Seattle is iffy on Marshawn Lynch playing. So with that being said, quarterback Russell Wilson will be the leading rusher along with leading them in passing this weekend. He is a talented young man at quarterback and his skill is undeniable. And his playmaking is Fran Tarkenton-esque.
  3. Cincinnati running back Jeremy Hill got in the end zone last weekend and this weekend will be no different. The only difference is he will add 100 yards to that total. The second-year running back runs hard and is tough to tackle, which will prove a challenge to the Seahawks.

Washington Redskins at Atlanta Falcons

  1. The Atlanta Falcons offensive line has been better than advertised this year. With that being said, this will be the game that they give up at least two sacks. The Redskins have been solid defensively and the Falcons offensive line is due for a game where they show chinks in the armor.
  2. Redskins running back Alfred Morris is fan favorite, but he will not be a favorite this game for his team. He will not reach 50 yards rushing this game. The Falcons have been solid defensively and will continue to bring the pain to the Redskins offense.
  3. The Falcons offense will score over 30 points again. With the solid running game they now have and the weapons in the passing game, the Falcons may blow the roof off the Georgia Dome with the offensive display they will put on.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  1. TJ Yeldon had a 100 yard game last week on the ground. He has been solid in his performance and will continue to do so versus Tampa Bay. The Bucs are not great defensively and he can expose them.
  2. Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston has had his ups and downs. And this game will be an illustration of that. He will throw at least one interception in this game. But he will also throw for at least two touchdowns. With the length he has at wide receiver and tight end, there will be a play made at some point.
  3. This game will have a lot of penalties. The Bucs don’t play the prettiest brand of football and neither do the Jaguars. Both will battle hard, but there will be at least 10 penalties per team in this one.

New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles

  1. New Orleans running back CJ Spiller got it going last week for the first time all season. And in this game, he will pick up where he left off. Spiller will get at least 100 all-purpose yards in this game and will add a touchdown to top all that.
  2. Philadelphia caught fire for a second last week versus the Redskins. This week they will capture a little bit of that fire against the Saints. Sam Bradford will throw at least one long bomb for a touchdown in this game.
  3. Both sides will not have a 100-yard rusher in this game. The Eagles have struggled to create lanes for any of their backs this season and the Saints just seem to never leave one back in there enough to get close to 100 yards. The running game will be ugly folks.

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens

  1. The Cleveland Browns refuse to go with Johnny Manziel at quarterback. And in this game, they will continue to deny him playing time. Josh McCown will throw for two touchdowns and one interception as the Browns starter. And his interception will more than likely be a costly one.
  2. The Baltimore Ravens have been getting their running game going and this week they keep that momentum going. Running back Justin Forsett will run for at least 100 yards and will score one touchdown as well.
  3. The Baltimore receivers will more than likely be down Steve Smith this weekend. Look for receiver Sam Aiken to step up and make a few plays, including a long gain of over 30 yards.

St. Louis Rams at Green Bay Packers

  1. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his offensive squad were not as sharp as they usually are last weekend. Well, this weekend it will not get any better. He will get sacked at least 4 times this week and he will also get intercepted at least once against the Rams physical defense.
  2. The St. Louis Rams found a running game last week versus the Arizona Cardinals. And this week, they will find it again. Running back Todd Gurley will rush for 100 yards again but will score a touchdown this time.
  3. Green Bay’s defense may get gashed in the running game, but they will make some plays when Nick Foles throws the ball for the Rams. Look for Foles to throw at least two interceptions and one of them will go back for a touchdown for the Packers.

Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans

  1. Buffalo’s offense looked pretty bad last weekend versus the New York Giants. Well, this week they look good against the Titans. Expect quarterback Tyrod Taylor to lead this offense to at least 25 points while they get all the kinks worked out from last weekend.
  2. Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has been solid but he is due for a bad game. And unfortunately for him, the Bills are that bad game. The rookie from Oregon is facing a Buffalo defense that is not very happy with how they played last weekend and they will be looking to take that out on Mariota and the Tennessee offense. Look for Mariota to throw at least two interceptions.
  3. Speaking of Buffalo’s defense, they are due for a good game. And this game will be it. Look for them to get back to their sacking ways, getting at least three sacks while giving the Titans offensive line fits.

Arizona Cardinals at Detroit Lions

  1. The Lions will not have a 300 yards of offense. The Cardinals are probably not very happy with how they played last weekend versus the St. Louis Cardinals. Look for them to get back to their dominant ways this weekend by stifling an inept offense that is struggling as it is.
  2. Arizona running back Chris Johnson was looked at as damaged goods after he was released by the New York Jets. Well, he was picked up by the Cardinals after thoughts of retiring and has revived his career. Look for him to continue looking solid running the football as he gets 100 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
  3. The Detroit Lions played well Monday night defensively. But this week, they get back to reality. The Cardinals will get it going again offensively and Larry Fitzgerald will catch a long pass over Lions cornerback Darius Slay.

New England Patriots at Dallas Cowboys

  1. The Dallas Cowboys get defensive end Greg Hardy and linebacker Rolando McClain back this week. And with that, both will have a positive impact. Hardy will have at least one sack in his first game back and McClain will have at least 10 tackles.
  2. The Patriots have been on a mission since the season began. And this game will send another statement to everyone. The Patriots will register at least 38 points against Dallas in the house that Jerry built.
  3. Brandon Weeden will have to pass for the Cowboys to win. And when he does, Bill Belichick will go to work.  Look for Weeden to throw at least three interceptions and prove to us all that he may not be the guy to step in for Tony Romo.

Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders

  1. The Denver Broncos have not had anyone step in and take over the running game. This week, that all changes. Running back Ronnie Hillman will take over the position and get at least 100 yards versus the Raiders this weekend.
  2. Oakland wide receiver Amari Cooper has been special this season. But in this game, he will come back down to earth. He will have only two catches in this game and will not go over 60 yards receiving.
  3. Peyton Manning will have two touchdown passes and no interceptions. Last weekend he had two interceptions and that was uncharacteristic of him.

San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants

  1. San Francisco has had a rough few weeks offensively. This week they get off the schnide a little bit. Look for the 49ers to score at least 20 points versus the Giants in New York.
  2. Eli Manning has had some good games against the 49ers and he also has had a clunker like he did last season. Look for him to get it going in this game a little with at least two touchdown passes, with one going to Odell Beckham Jr.
  3. The Giants and the 49ers have been erratic rushing the passer. In this game, both team will get at least three sacks. The pressure will be on for both quarterbacks to find their pressure outlet quickly.

Pittsburgh Steelers at San Diego Chargers

  1. Steelers quarterback Michael Vick was not as sharp as he needed to be last week filling in for Ben Roethlisberger versus the Baltimore Ravens. This week, look for his best friend to get going: the running game. Running back Le’Veon Bell will get at least 100 yards and one touchdown.
  2. San Diego gets tight end Antonio Gates back this weekend. And he will waste no time making it happen on the field. Look for him to score a touchdown and also have about five catches as Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers will be looking his way.
  3. Pittsburgh will go for two at least once in this game. Looking at the matchup and thinking on who their coach is, he will give it at least a try. And it will probably upset some Steelers fans when he tries that two-point play and misses it.

Week Five is upon us and there will definitely be some exciting games going on. But there will be also be some exciting plays. It will be fun to see what happens.

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The General’s Perspective On The Stephen A. Smith/Kevin Durant Feud

The battle lines have been drawn and both sides have fired shots. But what are their roles in the mess this is now? (photo courtesy of

The battle lines have been drawn and both sides have fired shots. But what are their roles in the mess this is now? (photo courtesy of

The NBA basketball season is right around the corner. Teams are full with expectations and some with reservations. And while teams are looking to make it happen, there are players that are either looking forward to free agency or trying to change their narrative. One player that is being talked about regularly for next summer is Oklahoma City small forward Kevin Durant. Along with everyone wondering how his health will hold up, there are some wondering if he will be in Oklahoma City next season. He has yet to sign an extension and there are some that think he will be leaving for another scene in 2016. Recently, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith fueled those flames by saying he had heard from sources that Durant would definitely be considering the Los Angeles Lakers as his primary target should he not return to the Oklahoma City Thunder. And when Durant heard this, he had this to say: “I don’t talk to Stephen A. Smith at all. Nobody in my family, my friends, they don’t talk to Stephen A. Smith. So he’s lying.” Of course this response struck a chord with Smith and he addressed Durant on Monday’s edition of First Take. He proceeded to break down everything Durant said and claimed that Durant was the one “lying” and that he indeed talked to someone close to him. Smith also said Durant may want to check his sources. He even went as far as to say he was fielding calls from Durant’s inner circle trying to call a truce. This one may have died down for a day or so, but it seems like the temperature is still rising.

Durant is presumed by many the crown jewel of the free agent market. There will be many things that will be said about where he may or may not go all summer long. So why he was distracted by Smith saying what he had reportedly heard from sources? This was honestly something that never even should have struck a nerve with him. And calling Smith a liar through the media was uncalled for. It is understandable that he may not have liked what was said, but there will be many things that will be said over his lifetime that he will not like. In a sense, Smith calling players these days sensitive was a great assessment when it comes to Durant. If he wanted to respond to Smith, take that conversation behind closed doors. I’m sure Durant has Smith’s number and has contacted him more than he is letting on. Questioning someone’s credibility is not the answer here. But it seems like Durant has been going a different road over the last year with the media. It started with his talk in regards to how the media does not know much (which was followed by an apology) and it has apparently not left. Not sure what is going on with Durant, but his laser focus needs to stay on the court and not in the media.

Stephen A. Smith, for his part, did some things in this one that were not the brightest. He was called out as a liar by Kevin Durant and he just snapped. Smith would go on to call Durant a liar, tell Durant “he did not want to go there with him” and proceed to go through the whole situation. Although entertaining, this something that he could have done off air. Of course Durant took the dig at him and his credibility as a journalist and reporter. And anyone who is a journalist understands the fight for credibility that happens. That strikes a reporter and journalist to the core. But he could have been the bigger man, since he is older than Durant, and taken this one off the grid. Smith went off and that’s what fed into what some people loathe about him. But don’t let the persona he has fool you. Even though he is probably is not as involved in reporting and journalism as he once was, he still is a very credible source that has broken big stories before. Who remembers the person that broke the LeBron story of him going to Miami? That was one Stephen A. Smith. And there were many more stories that he has broken. So why would he lie on Kevin Durant just for this scoop? There would be no purpose for him to do so. And what a lot of people also missed is the truth that he laid in the rant. If there was not some truth to what was said, why would Durant suddenly react to him the way he did when others have floated rumors out there?

All in all, both are grown men and they could have handled this better. But since they did not, they both taught us a few things in the process. Many have shot down Stephen A. Smith in this situation just because he was the one behind some of these comments. But if another commentator said what he said, then many would not have batted an eye at it. And in Durant’s case, if this was LeBron saying what he said, he would be getting killed in the media. Both these last statements are not just situations but they are facts. Looking past someone to actually listen to what they are saying is something that we have lost in this world. Disdain for someone is understandable, but don’t let that blind you to what is being said. And that in itself is a lesson many could learn. But in the end, both these two need to get off social media and the television and pick up the phone. I’m sure in the end, both of them still have love for each other.

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After Week Four, The Reinforcements Are Back In The NFL

Greg Hardy is one of six players returning in Week Five that could have a big effect on their teams. (photo courtesy of Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

Greg Hardy is one of six players returning in Week Five that could have a big effect on their teams. (photo courtesy of Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

Week four of the NFL is complete and with that, there are a few players that will be re-joining their teams. Here are the players coming back this week from suspension: San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant, New York Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, Dallas Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain and Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe. All of these players will definitely have an impact on their teams, but which one will have the biggest impact? Let’s take a look and see.

(photo courtesy of USA Today Sports)

(photo courtesy of USA Today Sports)

Antonio Gates

The veteran tight end has been out the first four games due to him violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. The Chargers without him have gone 2-2 so far this season without him and they have been outscored by 15 points this year so far. In adding Gates, it brings back a familiar weapon to San Diego while also adding another player defenses have to worry about. With the extra attention he will receive, he will help open up things for guys like wide receivers Keenan Allen and Stevie Johnson. Ultimately, he will have an effect on this team, but without him they have been where they would normally about be on offense. This addition will have some effect, but not enough to change their record in a huge way.

(photo courtesy of

(photo courtesy of

Greg Hardy

The physically-gifted defensive end is coming back to a Dallas Cowboys team that is losing players left and right. After serving a four-game suspension for his off-field issues, he is back to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks. And with the state of the Cowboys, they need him desperately. The Cowboys are without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant offensively and they have no one that can create consistent pressure defensively. He instantly adds someone that teams have to gameplan for and, when motivated, can make some big noise for the Cowboys up front. Look for him to be a huge gamechanger for the Cowboys defense. If he can stabilize the Cowboys front line, then they can potentially steal some games while missing some bigtime players.

(photo courtesy of Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

(photo courtesy of Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Martavis Bryant

The second-year wide receiver out of Clemson was suspended the first four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. What some thought would be a breakout year for him has started with the disappointment of his suspension. But with his return, there are some positive things that come. Outside of Antonio Brown, the Steelers have had one consistent wide receiver when his number has been called: Darius Heyward-Bey. It’s scary that the guy who formerly was criticized for having no hands is their second most-consistent wide receiver. With Bryant back in the fold, now the Steelers have all their weapons to help backup quarterback Michael Vick lead this team while Ben Roethlisberger is out. Bryant, who has been in rehab himself during his four-game ban, will have a huge impact on this team and will give Brown some relief that he can count on.

(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

Sheldon Richardson

Richardson has been out serving a suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Without him, the Jets have gone 3-1 and have looked better than they have in a couple of years. And defensively, they are making some big plays and intimidating opposing offenses with their aggressive style. One thing that may have happened with Richardson’s absence is the thought that they can move on without him because of 2015 1st round draft pick Leonard Williams. Although Richardson will add more bulk and pass rush to this team, he may not be a huge difference-maker because he will have to work his way back into the rotation. Richardson may be on thin ice with the Jets after this suspension and the other offseason stunt involving him driving a car like he is Mario Andretti with a kid in there.

(photo courtesy of Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

(photo courtesy of Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

Rolando McClain

McClain was someone the Cowboys took a flyer on last season. After trading for him from next to nothing from the Ravens, the Cowboys ended up getting the best part of the deal. McClain ended up being one of the Cowboys best players last season as they surged into the playoffs. With his return coupled with Hardy coming back, the Cowboys now have some pieces in play to make some things happen. And what makes this pickup even more important is that Sean Lee suffered a concussion against the New Orleans Saints. With his injury history, the Cowboys could not be happier to get McClain back. Looking at the Cowboys linebacker corps without McClain and maybe down Lee, they would be in trouble. His return is huge for this team.

(photo courtesy of CBS Sports)

(photo courtesy of CBS Sports)

Derek Wolfe

The Denver Broncos are 4-0 after dispatching of the Minnesota Vikings Sunday and there are still some questions about this team. But for the Broncos, there are definitely no questions about the defense at all. They have been relentless under the leadership of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller have been great coming off the edges. And with the addition of Wolfe to this team, the Broncos just got that much more dangerous. But the thing that most have to wonder is how he will fit in. The Broncos are already four deep up front at the defensive end position and it’s almost like he is the odd man out. But what could be dangerous is if Phillips comes up with a scheme that could utilize all four of them or maybe three at a time on the field together. Now that would be something there. But unfortunately, that may be something that happens in Fantasyland. Wolfe may not have much impact at all since the defense has been rolling without him.

All of these players will have some effect one way or the other with their teams once they return, but there are some that will have more of an impact than others. Hardy and McClain are the most needed for Dallas while Gates and Bryant are a sight for sore eyes for their team’s offenses. And as far as Wolfe and Richardson, they could find themselves as the odd men out or potential trade bait. We will see what happens, but with these guys back, things just got a little more interesting.

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Carolina’s Josh Norman Is The Next Bigtime NFL Cornerback

Josh Norman is the next bigtime corner in the NFL folks. Take notice. (photo courtesy of

Josh Norman is the next bigtime corner in the NFL folks. Take notice. (photo courtesy of

The Carolina Panthers are flying high as they improved to 4-0 on the season. And rightfully so, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton is getting a ton of praise for what he is doing with the offense. He lost his number one receiver (Kelvin Benjamin) before the season to a knee injury, so that left him with a receiving corps that was led by his tight end, Greg Olsen. And at the running back position, the Panthers have not had the most dependable crew either. But in spite of that, Cam has continued to make play after play and lead this team to win after win. But the side of the ball that has been instrumental in the 4-0 start is the defense. They have been tenacious all season long and have done most of this without the leadership of their starting middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, who is currently suffering from a concussion. Some may want to give the credit for this surge to veteran linebacker Thomas Davis. But there is one guy that deserves all the praise for what he has done this year so far.

Defensive back Josh Norman is someone that many do not know but the Panthers love. He was drafted in the 2012 in the 5th round by the Panthers and not much was expected from him. But ever since he has been in Carolina, his role has grown. At one point and time, many wondered about the Carolina secondary. The front seven was always something teams always knew was tough, but the cornerbacks and safeties were always questionable. Norman was there over those times but he just was not ready to make that jump to be the main guy. Over time, he has grown more and more in the NFL and now he is in a contract year with the team. But this is honestly the best he has ever looked as a cornerback. He is reading quarterbacks and understanding concepts better than he ever has and that has helped him lead the NFL in interceptions this season. And even though he blows a coverage every now and then, he has the athletic ability to make up for it. For example, when the Panthers played against the Saints in Week 3, he made an interception that not many could make. It looked like he was beat by a Saints wide receiver late in the game, but he instead turned that into a game-ending interception by using his leaping ability to intercept the pass. It’s these types of plays a bigtime corners make for their teams and he made it. And it’s also these types of plays that strike fear in opposing teams.

As a result of his play and the showing he has had so far this year, he is now in the driver’s seat with the team. Does the team pay him or do they let him walk? If the Panthers are smart, they will pay him. They have a good team that they want to build on and the foundation of that team is the defense. Plus it’s not often that you get a cornerback that can shut down one side of the field. The best option for them is to keep as many good defensive players as they can and continue to try and draft players to help Cam out offensively. With that being said, Norman will not be cheap to keep in Carolina. Norman is seeking bigtime money because he believes he is a top cornerback in the NFL. And by all indications so far, he is showing him that he can handle the challenge of being the top corner on the team. He does have moments where he is out of position and he blows coverages, but what makes him a very good corner is his athletic ability. And with his size (6’0, 195), he is built to take on the bigger wide receivers in the NFL. Norman has shown he is ready for the challenge, but his biggest competition will be when he goes up against Julio Jones. He has been a monster at wide receiver all season long and he will definitely present a challenge for him. But if he is able to answer the bell against him, Norman will be able to show the NFL even more that he is the newest bigtime corner in the NFL.

Norman is a guy not many know about right now, but he will soon be a bigtime name that everyone knows. He is a playmaker on the defensive side of the ball and many teams could use a bigtime corner in this era of football. Norman is the real deal and he is proving it on the field. But at this point, he is the country’s best kept secret at cornerback. And because of him, the Panthers are still handling business as a defense without their leader. The even scarier part of his performance so far: he can get better. Get ready NFL. Josh Norman is coming.

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The Joe Philbin Era Is Officially Over In Miami

Joe Philbin's era is over in Miami. (photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Joe Philbin’s era is over in Miami. (photo courtesy of Getty Images)

The Miami Dolphins were expected to be a team that could contend in the AFC East this year. They picked up high-priced free agent defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh along with spending money in other places to make this team competitive. Well this team has looked nothing like what some expected. The team has looked listless for most of the season. And in a game where it was expected they would come out pumped up and ready to right the ship, they came out flat yet again. The Dolphins lost 27-14 to the New York Jets in London as they are now 1-3. The team just could not get it going and got off to another slow start. Looking at this team right now, there is nothing that they can depend on each and every game. And because of that, this team does not have any identity. Immediately after Sunday’s game, the attention of NFL fans went right to Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin. He has been at the helm of this team since 2012 and has a below .500 record (24-28) and has never made the playoffs as the coach of the Dolphins. He is the head coach and the head coach accepts the responsibility of the wins and losses. And because of that, he is out of a job. So what is there to even say about the Joe Philbin era in Miami and what it even meant in Miami?

Joe Philbin was the offensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers before coming to South Beach to coach. And because of the innovative offense he helped co-author with Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. The prolific offenses that he helped create led the Dolphins to think he was the man for the position in Miami. But ever since he has been there, the offense has not been able to get it going at all. Miami has not cracked the Top 10 one time since he has been at the helm of this team and that can be attributed to a few things. One of the biggest things he will have to accept is his inability to get consistency out of quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The fourth-year quarterback has been at the helm of the team since his rookie season. He has had some good games for the team over his time there in Miami. But unfortunately he has had some games that have made you scratch your head. He has talent, just has not been able to put it all together consistently. And for a guy that they just gave a huge contract to, they were expecting more. But unfortunately the inconsistency continues. The excuse can be made that the talent around him is not great or has not shown up (Mike Wallace comes to mind), but there is no excuse for some of the things that he has or has not done. And his development falls squarely on the shoulders of Philbin.

But along with Philbin’s inability to get to Tannehill, it appeared that he has had a problem reaching this whole team during his tenure. The performance of his team is a huge indication of how they have performed under him. The Dolphins have got some wins that no one expected under Philbin. And in those wins, it seemed that the team was dialed in and ready to make a run to the playoffs. But as soon as people start believing in them, they come out the next week and drop a dud. And it seems like that is the pattern that has been consistently there with Philbin at the helm. Unfortunately, this speaks to a lack of control of the team for him. We all remember the circus that was the Jonathan Martin situation. That was just a glimpse into how out of touch he was with his team and it seems that he has not been very in touch with them for a while. And with him not being very familiar with his team, he allows instances like Suh reportedly calling his own plays to slide. To top it all off, Suh received no punishment for going rogue on the field. That, in a nutshell, tells us how players feel about him there in South Beach. Not one player has stepped up to Suh and said anything to him about him going rogue on the field. And if that was a team that had the respect of their head coach, then a player would say something. But instead, there is deafening science. The team showed right then and there they did not respect him at all.

Philbin’s era can be categorized as one of big expectations but lower realities. The team was expected to get better, but never seemed to make that leap to the next level. And based on what we have seen year after year coupled with the lackluster effort of this team, it was time to make a change. Heading into the bye week is the perfect time to let Philbin go and mercifully end his time as head coach in Miami.

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Say Hello To Todd Gurley NFL

Todd Gurley explodes against the Cardinals, but this may only be the beginning. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Todd Gurley explodes against the Cardinals, but this may only be the beginning. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Todd Gurley was a college running back at this time last year. Many had him projected to be the first running back taken in the 2015 NFL Draft. Of course he had to sit out a few games due to suspension last season at Georgia. But when he touched the field, many anticipated seeing greatness out of him. The sky was the limit for him, but all that changed when he lined up to play against Auburn. Gurley was running the ball when all of a sudden, his knee gave way. No one touched him on the play and many feared that he was done for the season. Well, those thoughts came to reality when he was diagnosed with a torn ACL and was officially done for his junior year of college. Gurley was dealt a tough blow not only in his college career, but to his professional prospects. Gurley’s status came into question with many scouts with the knee injury he suffered. Was he worth a first round pick despite the injury or would teams shy away from him? The St. Louis Rams decided he was worth that pick when they took him with the 10th pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Immediately some questioned why he was taken that high considering his injury. Some thought he might miss most of the season recovering from the knee injury while Gurley kept saying he was healthy enough to play early in the season. It may have taken him until Week Three to get healthy enough to play, but in Week 4 he showed up and showed out.The former University of Georgia running back was facing a tough defense in his first time out. And it showed that he was rusty in Week 3, running for only 9 yards on six carries against the Pittsburgh Steelers. But in Week Four, the Rams got a special performance from Gurley when he touched the field. He ran for 146 yards on 19 carries while helping lead the St. Louis Rams to a victory over the rival Arizona Cardinals. And if you are looking at these numbers and are wowed, you should be. The Cardinals have been one of the tougher defenses in the NFL over the last couple of years and they have not allowed much on the ground this year, only allowing 88.7 yards per game before facing the Rams. Gurley and the Rams not only beat them, but they were the more physical team. And even with the running backs the Rams had on their roster, they saw the future in Gurley and he gave them a glimpse of it just now. It’s only one game, but the future for Gurley is looking mighty bright after what he did to the Cardinals’ defense.

Going forward, the Rams have started to formulate into a team that head coach Jeff Fisher envisioned. He was always a coach that wanted a physical running game along with a passing game that can be explosive. But in Gurley, Fisher has a back like none he has ever had. He has speed like his former Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson. If you watch Gurley run, some would not even know he is 6’1” and 227 pounds as fast as he moves. But he is definitely a homerun threat each time he touches the football. And along with the speed, Gurley also has the power to finish runs. He may not be as big as former Titans running back Eddie George was, but he is not a small back by any means. Add to it that he already looks to be able to read holes very well and he gives the Rams a new dimension. And what is even crazier is he has not really had the effect he can have in the passing game yet. To be that big, that fast and able to catch passes out of the backfield is something that Fisher is going to love having on his side. And as time goes on and Gurley gets used to the rigors of the NFL game, he could get even better than he is now. Imagine how scary that could be for any opposing team going forward.

Keeping things in perspective, it was only one good game from Gurley. But in watching the runs he made along with the skill he possesses, this type of performance could be something that we see often from him. The chance the Rams took on him despite having other needs was one that could definitely pay off for them as they go forward. And if it does pay off like they think it will, Gurley could become the face of that team. Whether that team stays in St. Louis or moves to Los Angeles, they have found a building block that can help them move forward.

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The General’s NFL Proclamations- Week 4

Michael Vick is leading the Steelers this week. See what he does and others in this week's General Proclamations. (photo courtesy of Bill Wippert/AP)

Michael Vick is leading the Steelers this week. See what he does and others in this week’s General Proclamations. (photo courtesy of Bill Wippert/AP)

Week Three of the NFL gave most of us a clearer picture of what to expect from our teams. Some loved what they saw while others were not as happy with the product their teams put on the field. Nonetheless, the season goes on and so do the players that play the game. And sprinkled in these good and bad performances were some players who showed up unexpectedly and others that shrunk in the limelight. Without any further hesitation, here are the General’s Proclamations.

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

  1. Ben Roethlisberger went down last week with a knee injury and Michael Vick stepped in and finished the game for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even though he was not impressive, he will be this week. The Ravens secondary is ripe for the picking and Vick is ready to star for Big Ben this week, throwing to “Downtown” Antonio Brown and crew. Vick will throw 3 touchdown passes and will throw for 250 yards. And one of the touchdown passes will be to running back Le’Veon Bell.
  2. The Pittsburgh defense is starting to find itself. And this week they will unleash carnage on the Ravens offensive line. They will get at least 4 sacks this Thursday versus the Ravens and quarterback Joe Flacco.
  3. Baltimore may lack in the pass protection this weekend, but they will still make some plays. Wide receiver Steve Smith is still a playmaker out there. And this week, he will make some plays against the Steelers’ secondary. He will account for at least one touchdown even though he will be under 100 yards.

New York Jets at Miami Dolphins

  1. The New York Jets floundered last week and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was not as good as he had been. The Jets hope he rebounds this week, but it will be an uneven performance. He will throw for two touchdowns, but he will also have an inexplicable interception that no one will understand.
  2. The Dolphins were embarrassed last week and their big-money defensive player, Ndamukong Suh, was missing in action. There was even talk that he went rogue defensively out there. Some may wonder what he will do this week to atone for that talk. That’s simple: Nothing. He will be the biggest decoy on the field this week, not recording a sack and maybe a tackle or two. Nothing more or nothing less.
  3. The Miami Dolphins offense did not show up last week either and this week they show up with some pride maybe. Their leader, quarterback Ryan Tannehill, will show up this week. He will run for a touchdown and also throw for a touchdown. But he will not reach 250 yards passing in this one.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts

  1. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck led a comeback against the Tennessee Titans last weekend as the Colts escaped going 0-3. This week, a little less drama as Luck does not throw an interception against the Jaguars.
  2. Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles is still trying to prove himself as an NFL quarterback. One player that can help him do so is wide receiver Allen Robinson. The young wide receiver out of Penn State will give the Colts’ secondary fits as he cruises for 100 yards and a touchdown.
  3. Indianapolis has struggled bringing pressure defensively this season. They got off the mat a little last weekend with some pressure on Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota. Well this week, they make a few things happen to the tune of three sacks as a team. Not a dominant performance there but it will show some consistency in bringing pressure.

New York Giants at Buffalo Bills

  1. Tyrod Taylor got his mojo going against the Miami Dolphins last weekend. This weekend he continues making things happen as he takes advantage of the New York secondary. He will get at least 300 yards passing on them this Sunday. Looks like the Bills may have found their quarterback.
  2. Eli Manning, not to be showed up, will make some things happen this game as well. The veteran quarterback for the Giants will have two touchdowns running this weekend versus the Bills although he will throw an interception that will accompany those touchdown passes.
  3. The Buffalo Bills defense was proclaimed as a tough defense that would give quarterbacks problems. Well, this week they will give Eli a slight problem. They will only get two sacks against the Giants.

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  1. Cam Newton has been great for the Panthers this season. And against the Bucs, he will continue to thrive. He will actually do damage more with his arm than his legs. He will throw for 250 yards and three touchdowns.
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin has been inconsistent since he burst on the scene his rookie season. And in this game, he will prove to be inconsistent yet again. Martin will have some good runs in this game, but he will once again fail to reach 100 yards and the endzone.
  3. Tampa Bay’s defense will give up 35 points to the Carolina Panthers. It may seem crazy since the Panthers are not a prolific offense. But look at the Tampa defense. They may have played solid the last two weeks, but we all know it is entirely possible that they can revert back to their Week One performance.

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins

  1. The Philadelphia Eagles have been sputtering offensively all season long. Well, this week the sputtering continues. They will not score over 20 points this week at all. And with this performance, the Sam Bradford questions will come up again for another week.
  2. The Eagles may be struggling offensively, but it isn’t like the Redskins have made it happen offensively under quarterback Kirk Cousins. A continuation of last week may end up happening as the Eagles defense has not been completely bad this year. He will throw at least two interceptions and Walter Thurmond will be the player that picks off one of his passes.
  3. This game will go into overtime. Both teams have not found themselves and it is not for certain that either will find themselves the whole year. But in this game, both will definitely find themselves in overtime trying to salvage a win in this game that will be tough to watch.

Oakland Raiders at Chicago Bears

  1. Wide receiver Amari Cooper has been sizzling the last two weeks on the field for the Oakland Raiders. The Bears have been cold as in bad the whole season. With that being said, Cooper will continue to sizzle this week against a Bears defense that cannot stop anyone. He will have another 100 yard game and score at least one touchdown.
  2. Chicago failed to score a point last week with quarterback Jimmy Clausen at the helm for Jay Cutler. This week if Clausen starts, he will get the Bears in the endzone and they will score a total of ten points. That is a nice improvement, but not one that will help them win the game.
  3. Khalil Mack is a talented pass rusher that the Raiders are just learning how to use. In this game, he will definitely be the Mack of the Bears as he pimps he way around the corner of their offensive tackles and gets to paydirt three times. It’s going to be a long day for the Bears and their offense.

Houston Texans at Atlanta Falcons

  1. The Houston Texans have been wanting Jadeveon Clowney to break out and this week may be the game he does so. He is closer to home and he may be wanting to show off in front of them. He will get his first two sacks of his career in this game.
  2. Julio Jones has been a monster on the football field this year. And many wonder what he will do next. This week he will catch 10 passes and approach 200 yards receiving. The sky is the limit for him and he is definitely putting on a show.
  3. The Atlanta Falcons will let the Houston Texans take a 10 point lead on them before coming back and winning this game. For some reason, the Falcons like to come from behind and win games. And this week will be just more of the same from them.

Kansas City Chiefs at Cincinnati Bengals

  1. Alex Smith through the first receiving touchdown to a Kansas City wide receiver in forever last Monday versus the Green Bay Packers. In this game, he will get back to his usual and completely ignore the wide receivers. Look for him to connect with tight end Travis Kelce twice for touchdowns while not throwing for more than 200 yards.
  2. Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton has been solid this season. But he is due for a blip on the radar screen this year and this game is it. He will throw two interceptions this game versus a secondary that he should light up.
  3. Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is one of the best in the NFL. But this week he gets showed up by Bengals running back Jeremy Hill. The former LSU Tiger will outrush Charles by at least 50 yards and he will score a touchdown as well.

Cleveland Browns at San Diego Chargers

  1. The Cleveland Browns will not score over 20 points. Although this team denies there is no rift in the locker room over players wanting Johnny Manziel to start, it is obvious that he is needed in this offense at this point. Besides, they may as well find out what they have in him (or don’t have). Either way, look for Josh McCown to struggle mightily as he will rack up meaningless passing yards if they are down in the fourth quarter.
  2. San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers did not do so great last weekend. In this game, he atones for that. He will throw for 300 yards and 3 touchdowns in this game as he gets back on the right track.
  3. San Diego outside linebacker Melvin Ingram has been very active the last few games and this game will be no exception. The former South Carolina Gamecock will have three sacks in this game and wreak havoc on McCown all game long.

Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers

  1. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers has been lighting up defenses this year. And in this game, he has to be licking his chops. But Eddie Lacy may be the one feasting this game. He will get 100 yards rushing in this one.
  2. San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick had one of his worst games as a professional last weekend with four interceptions. But one thing about Colin is he’s resilient. Look for him to have at least one touchdown running and one passing as he throws for at least 225 yards and accounts for at least 50 yards on the ground.
  3. The Packers and the 49ers will have 100 yard receivers in this game. Torrey Smith can and will make some plays this game and so will Randall Cobb for the Packers. These two could make some highlight plays in this one.

St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals

  1. St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald has been solid this year. And in this game, he will definitely make some plays. Look for him to come up with at least one sack and one tackle for loss.
  2. The Cardinals have been solid offensively this year and this game will prove to be the same type of one. But the guy that will get it going in the passing game is wide receiver John Brown. The former Pittsburgh State wide receiver has speed to burn and the Rams are about to find out just how fast he is as he burns them for a big touchdown. He will go for 100 yards receiving and a touchdown.
  3. The Cardinals will put up at least 35 points in this game. Their offense is just that much better than it was last season. And the Rams will be the latest to experience the growth in their offense.

Minnesota Vikings at Denver Broncos

  1. The Vikings have been looking better offensively the last couple of weeks. Well, this week is the exception to that progress. The Vikings will bear witness to the stress that Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware can put on offenses. And as a result, the Vikings will allow four sacks at the last this week.
  2. Adrian Peterson has been running the football better. He will get 100 yards, but he will get them dominantly in one half of the game. The first half will hold all or most of his yards. He will also score one time on the Broncos defense.
  3. Peyton Manning will throw for four touchdowns and one interception versus the Vikings. Manning will throw one inexplicable interception that we all will wonder about, but he will right the ship with a couple darts out there to Emmanuel Sanders and company.

Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints

  1. The Dallas Cowboys are without wide receiver Dez Bryant and quarterback Tony Romo. All the offense is on the shoulders of the offensive line and back quarterback Brandon Weeden. So with that being said, look for running back Lance Dunbar to be the leading receiver for the Cowboys against the Saints with a little under 100 yards.
  2. New Orleans has had some offensive issues of their own going on. And with Drew Brees unhealthy, the team will lean on running back Mark Ingram. The former Alabama running back will have at least 100 yards rushing against the Cowboys.
  3. This game will have both teams scoring in the 20s. Both have had defense fail them and offense fail them too. This game will provide some issues for both defense and the offenses will find some kind of rhythm to make them pay.

Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks

  1. The matchup everyone is looking forward to seeing is Detroit’s Calvin Johnson versus Seattle’s Richard Sherman. In this one, look for Johnson to score a touchdown on Sherman, but Sherman and the Legion of Boom will have more of the upper hand in this one eventually.
  2. The Detroit Lions will not rush for over 100 yards. The team is trying to run the football but it just will not happen versus the Seahawks, especially since the Lions are on the road.
  3. The Detroit Lions will lose this game by 20 points. The Seahawks just don’t have enough to make this game close. The Seahawks will piddle around for a little while, but when they drop the hammer, it will be over just that quick.

Week Three is here and the proclamations are in. Let the game begin and let the big performances happen.

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It’s Time For The Tennessee Volunteers’ Coaches To Step Up

The Vols have the talent, but Butch Jones and his coaching staff have to lead them. (photo courtesy of Wade Payne/Associated Press)

The Vols have the talent, but Butch Jones and his coaching staff have to lead them. (photo courtesy of Wade Payne/Associated Press)

The Tennessee Volunteers were the sheik pick by many to win the SEC East. They have a ton of young talent and they finished strong. The Vols also had a ton of pieces coming back this season and added some more young talents to their stables. The future was looking bright. And while some rode the expectations this season, others thought it was next year that they would be ready to win and not this season. Well, the Vols now sit at 2-2 after losing a game at Florida this past weekend. They played hard and made some plays, but they simply did not get the job done. The loss to the Gators makes it eleven straight the Volunteers have lost to the Gators. And what makes it more interesting is this was probably one of the best shots they had to beat them. They returned everyone to the team essentially and Florida was playing a redshirt freshman quarterback along with having one of their starting cornerbacks out for the game. The game was right there for the taking and yet they seemed to let it slip through their grasp. Within all this, there have been questions about the team and where they are. But even more than questioning the players, some have begun to question the coaching that’s happening.

Butch Jones took on the Tennessee job three years ago with a mess on his hands. The team was devoid of talent and looked to get back to relevancy. Each year the team has gotten better under him as they have now got some expectations on them. And with that, there was some thought that they would beat Oklahoma and Florida. And in both games, the Vols held a double-digit lead late in the game. Against Oklahoma, the Vols were up 17-3 in the fourth quarter. And against Florida, the Vols were up 27-14 halfway through the fourth quarter. It seemed as if they had that one won. But an inexplicable timeout, a conservative gameplan with a lead and poor execution caused the Vols to flounder when playing with the lead. The same thing happened two weeks previously with the team against the Oklahoma Sooners. And here we sit, looking at a team that ripped defeat from the jaws of victory twice in a season. The players make the plays on the field and are the ones who play the game, but the coaches are an intricate part of the college game. They usually are in control of all things that happen and put players in position to make it happen. It seemed like every single time whether it is this past game or the Oklahoma game, the Vols and their coaching staff would call runs with the lead like they either did not trust their quarterback or thought they could salt the game away. Well, in each time doing so, they essentially slowed down their own offense every single time. But this flounder is not just limited to the offensive coaches. The defense seemed to let off the gas a little bit in both games. The Vols have not gotten to the quarterback like they did last season, but it seemed like the pressure they were trying to bring dissipated and the coverage was looser. That allowed opposing offenses to get wherever they wanted to and gain momentum to eventually catch up to and dispose of the Vols. So after seeing these late-game flounders, what can the Vols do going forward?

Well, it’s always said that you cannot play scared. That saying can apply to coaching as well. Butch Jones and crew looked like they were coaching not to lose instead of coaching to win when they came down the stretch in both games. It’s understandable that you don’t want to give the opposing team a chance to win, but what about when it comes at the cost of your own team? Each time it seems the Vols coaching staff and their handling of their team has stunted the momentum they had gained. The Vols are a good running football team, but there is no way that they should have abandoned the pass down the stretch. At that point, the defense knew what they were doing and where to find them. And if that is the case, it makes it easy on them. And defensively, when you play prevent defense, that is preventing a win, especially when you play it way too early. Another thing Butch and his staff may want to do is take the cuffs off some of these kids. There are plenty of players with tremendous talent on this Tennessee team, but you would not know it because of the doldrums they go through when closing out games. When you have a lead like they have, that is no time to let off the gas. That is actually the time to let your playmakers bury the opponent. If you aren’t going to let them be the playmakers you recruited, then why even have these kid there to put the nail in the coffin? The Vols are a very talented team and they are just waiting to explode. It’s time for the staff to allow them to.

Butch Jones is not on the hot seat right now, but there are plenty of Tennessee fans that are not happy with the losses to Oklahoma and Florida. He has recruited some very good talent to Tennessee. Now it’s time to turn them loose and quit the conservative coaching. This team should be undefeated right now, but the scared mentality never helped a coach win any ballgame. And Butch Jones has shown that twice this season.

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Cincinnati’s Success This Season Falls On Andy Dalton And Marvin Lewis

Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton's futures may be tied together in the success or failure of the Bengals. (photo courtesy of Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports)

Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton’s futures may be tied together in the success or failure of the Bengals. (photo courtesy of Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports)

The AFC North is always a very tough division. The Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers make up this division and every game between any of them physical. This season is no different as the division games so far have been physical battles. Taking a look at the standings so far, the Cincinnati Bengals lead the division, followed by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns and then the lowly Baltimore Ravens at 0-3. Cincinnati has looked very impressive to start the season. And with Pittsburgh losing Ben Roethlisberger out four to six weeks, the chances the Bengals have to win the division and make the playoffs went up significantly. But with the Bengals, making the playoffs have never been the issue. The team always seems to make it happen when it comes to the regular season. And with their defense, they always seem to come to play in the postseason as well. But with this team, the quarterback and the head coach seem to be in the same malaise. Both have had pretty good success in the regular season. But both have struggled when it matters most.

Quarterback Andy Dalton has been running the Bengals offense ever since he was a rookie. And year after year, he has put up average to a little above average numbers. For his career, the 5th year quarterback has thrown 107 touchdowns to 67 interceptions. He has had some games where he seems to be in a zone. And he has had others that make you scratch your head. But he always seems to find himself playing in the playoffs. Whether some like it or not, he has got the job done as far as Cincinnati’s concerned and helped them make the playoffs. But once he’s gotten there, that’s when he has floundered. He has thrown only one touchdown pass in the playoffs in his four appearances. And with that, he has thrown six interceptions. His quarterback rating when he has been there has not been over 70 once. He just has not made it happen when it matters the most. But even with those numbers in the postseason, the Bengals decided to pay him and pay him well last season (signed a six-year, $115 million contract extension last offseason). With this new contract now comes expectations. And the prevailing thought is that Dalton needs to win a playoff game and win one now. Because the contract he was rewarded with comes with great things expected. And if those aren’t achieved, he could find himself on his way out of Cincinnati.

Dalton is feeling the pressure, but head coach Marvin Lewis should be feeling more pressure than Dalton. Many times people have wondered how he has kept his job as head coach of the Bengals. He took over the Bengals when Chad Johnson was the star wide receiver there and has been making the Bengals a household name when it comes to the playoffs ever since. But along with starting to become a consistent team in the playoffs came a different set of expectations. Gone were the days of making the playoffs being a goal and in came the realization that winning a playoff game has to happen. Ever year the Bengals have made the playoffs, Lewis and his team has just not been able to get it done. Each season it seems like the team gets it going through the regular season and flounders when it matters the most. Fair of unfair, the failures in the playoffs fall on one man and one man alone: Marvin Lewis. Something has to be happening as to where he cannot come through in the playoffs. Marvin cannot continue to keep making the playoffs and lose. It has happened a lot over the years and eventually the management will get tired of it. If they continue to keep Lewis and let him keep taking the same pattern, then that says more about the organization than the team at that point. And ownership may want to question themselves.

Lewis and Dalton are the two key ingredients in trying to get the Bengals to the next level and a playoff win. The success lies within both of them. Lewis has to find a way to get the best out of his team in the playoffs. And as for Dalton, he has to get it together in the playoffs as well. Both have been missing in action in the playoffs and it’s time for them both to appear. Their jobs could very well depend on how well they do. The Bengals will more than likely make the playoffs again, but that is far from the goal and should be far from the expectation for this team.

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The Arizona Cardinals Are The NFL’s Quiet Storm

Tyrann Mathieu and the Arizona Cardinals are starting off like a house of fire once again. (photo courtesy of

Tyrann Mathieu and the Arizona Cardinals are starting off like a house of fire once again. (photo courtesy of

The NFC had a few teams that were looked at as Super Bowl contenders. The Green Bay Packers were on team that was talked about. After a 2-0 start to the season, they are living up to the feelings a lot of fans had about them despite losing wide receiver Jordy Nelson in the preseason. Another team that received a lot of attention before the season is the Seattle Seahawks. The team started off the season losing two straight, but they dominated the Chicago Bears on Sunday 26-0 to let folks know that they are still a team that needs to be feared. These two teams have pretty much been the two that many believe will represent the NFC. But there is one team that many fans continue to sleep on. And believe it or not, they are for real. And contrary to belief, this team has as good a shot as any to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

The Arizona Cardinals have gotten better and better each year under head coach Bruce Arians. The veteran offensive coordinator took over a talented team that needed some direction. And once he stepped in, he provided the direction they needed. He has had them at double-figures in wins each year he has been there, making a playoff appearance the last two seasons. But this year, this team may be the best it has ever been under him. Last season, the Cardinals had the best record in the NFL while Carson Palmer was at quarterback. Things seemed to be lining up for them perfectly when Palmer went down with a knee injury against the St. Louis Rams. The way he landed led many to believe that it was an ACL injury and it was confirmed when tests were done on his knee. Drew Stanton took over at quarterback, but this team was not the same going forward. They were missing their leader and their best quarterback. This year for them, hopefully he stays healthy. With him healthy, they will definitely build on their success last year. And with him, the young receivers that they have (Michael Floyd and John Brown) are better.

The team hopes that Palmer stays healthy because he is key to their Super Bowl run, but he is not the only offensive ingredient that is needed to make this run happen. The Cardinals, for all their success last season, were a terrible running team. The group of backs they had last year were just not getting the job done. And going into the offseason, there were still questions in regards to what they would do to improve the running game. Well, they went out and got offensive guard Mike Iupati and running back Chris Johnson this offseason to try to boost their running game. Iupati has not played and Johnson had a big game today but has not taken over as the everydown guy, but even with that they are still a better running team. It seems like the mindset of the team has changed offensively. The team last season just did not seem to be very physical when running the ball last year. This year, the team definitely has a physical presence in the trenches. And it seems like their running backs got the memo as well. The Cardinals are ranked 12th rushing the football so far this season, averaging 117.5 rushing yards per game and 4.4 per attempt rushing. Last season, they only averaged 81.8 rushing yards per game and averaged 3.3 yards per game. The addition of a consistent running game makes the Cardinals even more dangerous when on offense because now they can have some true play-action offense that opposing defenses will respect. And with Larry Fitzgerald having a great season so far, that offense has become scary good with a running game (averaging 39.5 points per game so far this season).

The offense in Arizona is scary, but the defense is as well. Last season, the defense was manned by defensive coordinator Todd Bowles last season. And with his constant pressure and blitzing style, the Cardinals were a feared defensive group. They boasted a defense that was ranked in the Top 5 in the NFL. Bowles and his defense were so good last year that it landed him a head coaching gig with the New York Jets. With Bowles leaving, some questioned whether they would be able to sustain what he created or fall back in the crowd. The Cardinals promoted outside linebackers coach James Bettner to defensive coordinator and by all indications so far, the Cardinals have not dropped off at all. So far, they are ranked in the Top 5 again this season. But what is different this year is the level of playmakers they have in the secondary. Safety Tyrann Mathieu, for example, has been excellent so far this season and continues to get better. The thought is out there that he is becoming one of the best playmakers the Cardinals have, rivaling cornerback Patrick Peterson. And with the pass rush they have, led by defensive lineman Calais Campbell, it allows the playmakers on the back end to make plays. As the season goes on, the team will be even more exciting and we will get to know all the playmakers they have in their secondary to accompany their front seven.

The Cardinals once again have everyone where they want them. No one is talking about them at all and yet they are atop the NFL standings at this point with three wins and zero losses. But as time goes by, they will receive the attention they deserve. And what many will realize is this team is better suited than their 2014 team to make a run at a Super Bowl.

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