2016 AFC West Previews & Predictions

The real reason Osweiler may have left the division.

The real reason Osweiler may have left the division.

What is it about the Denver Broncos winning Super Bowls and having quarterbacks retire?? This of course wouldn’t mean as much had Brock Osweiler stayed around. Now they have Mark Sanchez and highly regarded 1st round pick Paxton Lynch. This time around there won’t be a Mike Shanahan brain fart going with untested Brian Griese over veteran Bubby Brister. Hopefully Coach Kubiak will opt for the veteran and bring his prized rookie along slowly.

However an autumn wind is billowing in from the west. Its always fun to watch a team as it starts growing before your very eyes. Khalil Mack, Derek Carr, and Amari Cooper headline a young star studded group out in Oakland. The question is will it grow to a point to challenge for supremacy in the AFC West this season??

raiderfanlogo2016 AFC WEST PREDICTIONS

Oakland Raiders 10-6 *

Kansas City Chiefs 9-7

Denver Broncos 7-9

San Diego Chargers 4-12

Most will scoff at the notion of the Raiders overtaking the Chiefs until you realize Alex Smith is still their starting quarterback. We have seen the best of his abilities and he will just keep you in ball games. At times he plays scared of throwing the football down the field. Jamaal Charles just made it off the PUP list but when will he gain his original explosiveness??  Now with LB Justin Houston returning from knee surgery also can we expect the same production there?? They were 11-5 with the 7th best defense in the NFL and OLB Tamba Hali is coming back from a broken thumb. This team will slide back in 2016.

Anderson will breakout n 2016.

Anderson will breakout n 2016.

In Denver the preseason has played out exactly as The Chancellor thought, no one is taking control at the quarterback position. Mark Sanchez’s penchant for turnovers has come back to haunt him in both preseason games. We still don’t have a starter named going into week 3 of the preseason. First rounder Paxton Lynch still needs grooming. He’s taken a few more sacks than you’d like but could become the starter by mid season if the offense sputters. His arm has shown zip. Now he needs to develop touch and throw the ball on time.

For a team that was 6-1 in games decided by 6 points or less the one thing they can ill afford is turnovers. Turning the ball over 3 & 4 times a game will get a defense in trouble. Even a #1 ranked defense. Go ask the ’85 Bears, 2000 Ravens and ’02 Bucs why they didn’t repeat. So expect Coach Kubiak to lean on RB CJ Anderson who should breakout with a 1,400 yard season. However the ball doesn’t bounce a team’s way 2 years in a row and QB instability will lead to 3 or 4 close losses this season.

Carr will lead Oakland to the playoffs in 2016.

Carr will lead Oakland to the playoffs in 2016.

It won’t be enough to hold off the growing Raiders under Coach Jack Del Rio. Look no further than the stunning development of Derek Carr. Last year’s performance (350 of 573  3,987 yds 32 TDs / 13 ints) marked him as an up and coming superstar and this will be the year he cements that notion. Both Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are back as his main receivers along with 1,000 yard rusher Latavius Murray.

The improvement has to come from last year’s 22nd ranked defense. Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton Jr did get LB Bruce Irvin from Seattle this year and signed S Reggie Nelson to replace Charles Woodson. Both are coming from winning organizations which should provide veteran leadership to help a young team learn how to win. First round draft pick Karl Joseph has Nelson to groom him for the pro game.

Circle the week 6 match-up with Kansas City, where the Raiders could be sporting a 4-1 record against a 1-3 Chiefs team. The knockout blow that could ignite an AFC West Championship for the Oakland Raiders.

The Chancellor & Super Bowl LI Trophy at the Hall of Fame.

The Chancellor & Super Bowl LI Trophy at the Hall of Fame.

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2015 NFC East Predictions

One of the most perplexing aspect of picking the NFC East is what is going on with Jason Pierre Paul’s hand?? How damaged is it?? Is he really missing his thumb?? Today he showed up to the facilities and is about to sign his contract yet we haven’t been shown what his hand looks like. As the Giants “alpha dog” on defense, without him being what he had been could have a ripple effect on the Giants as a whole.

dez2015 NFC East

  1. Dallas Cowboys 9-7 *
  2. Philadelphia Eagles 8-8
  3. New York Giants 7-9
  4. Washington Redskins 4-12

The Dallas Cowboys will come down a peg now that they are running by committee. This is the first time since 1946 when the NFL’s leading rusher switched teams the following year. Here at Taylor Blitz Times we made mention of “The Great Wall II” and an offensive line is great for an era. We stand by that but we have to see how the often injured Darren McFadden and Joseph Randle will perform.

Cowboys brass has to have some reservations or they wouldn’t have traded for Christine Michael from Seattle. The penchant is there to revert back to the pass happy era we saw earlier in Tony Romo’s career. At least in a few games this can happen. The defense begins the season with Rolando McClain, Kevin Hardy and Orlando Scandrick beginning the season suspended and on the reserved injured list doesn’t bode well. Dallas will have a sloppy start to this season as they try to establish their running game and find defensive continuity.

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Sanchez will have to play for Bradford several times this season.

Interestingly the Eagles are coming into 2015 with something old and something new. The old?? Chip Kelly jettisoning off top shelf talent. Gone is RB LeSean McCoy to Buffalo and WR Jeremy Macklin to the Chiefs. The something new is swapping QBs Nick Foles for Sam Bradford from the Rams.

The often injured Bradford won’t remain on his feet for the entire season. We saw the hit Terrell Suggs put on Bradford in the pre-season. Chip Kelly’s offense will expose Bradford too additional hits and Sanchez will have to take his place several times this season. This kills offensive continuity and we know Kelly’s too arrogant to change his play calling.

Not only will the Eagles wear down but the Giants will remain too inconsistent to take the division. Eli Manning just inked a new contact extension and will play loose. However Victor Cruz is still rounding back into game shape and Odell Beckham is getting the business from defenders set to get after him in his sophomore season.

If Jason Pierre-Paul had showed up with 10 fingers the Giants win the division. With his being sent home without signing his contract something is definitely up. And without an index finger he’s rendered one of his hands to be useless to pull on jerseys in pass rush hand fighting techniques. Pierre-Paul won’t be the same player and the defense will take a big step back without it’s dominant pass rusher. Remember he was their franchise player… not any more.

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Thanksgiving Day: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

The NFL finally did something great with making all these divisional match-ups make up the bulk of the final slate of games. All season long we’ve looked at the impending battle lines that make up today’s Eagles vs Cowboys tilt in Jerry World. A pair of 8-3 combatants fighting for NFC East supremacy. What could be better??

DeMarco-Murray-hd-imagesThis is a game that will challenge Head Coach Jason Garrett and QB Tony Romo. One of the penchants they have to fight is trying to fool opponents when they play high profile games like this. It almost came back to bite them in the game against the New York Giants. They get away from controlling the clock and running DeMarco Murray right at opponents wanting to show Tony Romo is healthy or the defacto leader of the football team.

They come out and do this as they did against New York or Washington and they will lose.

Mark Sanchez could be the Eagles key to victory.

Mark Sanchez could be the Eagles key to victory.

An interesting note, the Philadelphia Eagles are not only 2-1 under Mark Sanchez, his stats for 2014 are better than the man he replaced in Nick Foles. For the season Sanchez has completed 62.3% vs 59.8% for the man he replaced however his interceptions have been up in recent weeks. If the Eagles can get Sanchez passing the football early and force Dallas to feel pressure to score with them…the Eagles will win.

What Dallas needs to do is slow this game down and run Murray downhill at them. The Eagles can’t stand up to The Great Wall 2 for 40-45 rushes. They are ranked 16th against the run but that is due to playing against teams trying to pass to keep pace with their offense. We saw how poorly this defense tackles when they lost to the Packers a few weeks back. They also wilted in the second half in a 26-21 defeat in San Francisco earlier in the season.

The Eagles have feasted on patsies and lost their 3 games to playoff caliber talent in San Fran, Arizona, and Green Bay. Well…make it a 4th in what should happen today. The Cowboys should win 34-27.

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The Chancellor’s Take On Mark Sanchez v. Tim Tebow in New York

Everyone is giving an opinion on the quarterback controversy between Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow in New York,  now it’s time for The Chancellor to weigh in. The latest comments coming from New York Jets quarterback coach Matt Cavanaugh. First he expressed that Sanchez made ‘poor decisions’ last year and now the next day raving about the upside of Tebow’s throwing prowess. It’s been interesting to watch. From the second New York signed Tebow the controversy started and as usual the Jets have been vocal in the media yet none seem to support their starting quarterback of the last three years.

Ironically now Tebow comes to work and the first item praised is how he’s working on his throwing ability. Are you kidding me?? His stat-line for the 2011 season was 126 of 271 for 1,729 yards 12 TDs and 6 interceptions. He completed just 46% of his passes….46%?? In an NFL that has changed the rules and officiating to the point that every major passing record fell last year and that was the best Tebow could do?? So he’s to unseat Mark Sanchez who competed 56% in going 308 passes out of 543 attempts for 3,474 yards, 26TDs and 18 interceptions??  That can’t be a sentiment expressed with a straight face… not if you know football.

By the way, Sanchez’s 26TDs were the most by a New York Jet since Vinny Testaverde threw for 29 in 1998. In that year Testaverde led the Jets to the AFC Championship Game.

No doubt Sanchez has to improve on his interceptions but too much has been thrown on his shoulders. Let’s talk about the complete and utter collapse of the New York rushing attack and defense to start the 2011 campaign. First off going into week 5, the Jets defense had given up 34 points in back to back outings against the Raiders and Ravens. Where was that stout defense you were known for?? It was at that point we here at Taylor Blitz started to criticize the anemic rushing attack of Shonn Greene and LaDanian Tomlinson who were averaging 3.1 and 3 yards respectively.  https://taylorblitztimes.com/2011/10/09/nfl-week-4-afc-east-see-you-at-the-crossroads/ Greene only had 157 yards rushing in the first four games. This before the Patriots throttled them 30-21. Although the team fought back and had a chance for the playoffs this really derailed your season. The blueprint was the Patriots game.

The Jets as an organization and a coaching staff are more to blame than the quarterback. It was you who let Sanchez confidante and productive route running receiver Braylon Edwards go. How close were they?? When Braylon landed in New York the teammate he met was Sanchez who was studying film at the house of then Jets safety Kerry Rhodes. He was his go to guy. You signed Santonio Holmes to a $50 million contract who runs very lazy routes yet was supposed to be the deep threat. Isn’t it ironic that Edwards had better statistics in 2010 when you made this bonehead decision (Edwards 53 rec. 904 yds /7TDs to Holmes 52 rec. 746 yds /6TDs).  http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/nyj/2010.htm Edwards reception yardage record was nealy 3 yards better than Holmes. To top it off you lost WR Brad Smith in free agency then to add further insult to injury you signed another terrible route runner in the slow Plaxico Burress, who had been incarcerated for more than a year and was not in football playing shape. All of this before you also lost dependable 3rd down WR Jerricho Cotchery.  Fittingly the first grumbling heard about Sanchez was from Holmes, the receiver the Steelers gave up on after he was a Super Bowl MVP for them. Great for chemistry.

As for Tebow, the circus comes to town with him. He has a tremendous following that has more to do with his religious convictions than pure football skills. He did have many a fourth quarter rally and you have to give him credit for that. What needed to be pointed out that wasn’t, was the Bronco defense keeping him in all those games. Tebow fans say how much of a leader he is…well so are most quarterbacks. Yet time and time again we kept saying that the Broncos have to minimize his passing to make him more effective. https://taylorblitztimes.com/?s=Tebow+Quotient Coming out of college, our CEO had Tebow as an H-Back or Tight End because of his questionable throwing and his statistics bore that out. We said we would grade him fairly and we have. Tebow fans point to his 6 fourth quarter comebacks yet seem to go blank on the 40-14 loss to Buffalo, 45-10 trouncing they took at home from the Detroit Lions, the 41-23 pounding they took from the Patriots before being routed 45-10 in the playoffs.

The last time I checked, Mark Sanchez won in the playoffs IN New England the year before and held the NFL record for road playoff wins with four until Eli Manning broke it last year. Tebow has one home wildcard win to Sanchez’ four road playoff wins and 2 trips to the AFC Championship Game. So let me get this straight… You want to replace a quarterback who’s beaten Belichick and New England on several occasions including playoffs for one that has been routed each time he’s played them with an ineffective running game?? Good luck. If you wanted to light a fire under your present quarterback, draft one. These non votes of confidence for your incumbent could derail this entire season if things don’t get off to a good clean start. Don’t take blame front office it’s all the quarterbacks fault and now you’ve whipped your fans into a frenzy with all the talk coming out of New York. First with Super Bowl promises and now with nonsensical desperate moves. Did you know the Broncos scored 309 points while allowing 390?? That’s a negative 81 point differential… and if Tebow was so effective, why did he get ousted and Peyton Manning signed in the blink of an eye??

By the way…if Tebow starts, Rex Ryan will be the first coach fired this year because it will be an abject failure…and you heard it here first.

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NFL Week 11 AFC East: As The World Turns

Patriots rattle Mark Sanchez in the 2nd half

It is at this point that we want to say this has been the strangest season in NFL history. More ups and downs than a roller coaster at Cedar Point and more twists and turns than the end of a mystery novel. Every division in the NFL has several teams within striking distance of their individual races yet one has an all familiar shape to it. No, not the hoodie again?? Yes the hoodie again. Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots drew and quartered the New York Jets on Sunday night to regain control of the AFC East.

Sunday night’s tilt saw the Jets beaten at their own game. Usually the Jets play a ball control, close to the vest affair leaning on their defense. Then open up their attack in the second half. However Tom Brady and the Patriot offense beat them to it and pried open a 9-7 deficit and pulled away in a 37-16 laugher. The difference was Brady’s ability to make adjustments to how the Jets were defending them. With Darelle Revis hounding Wes Welker all night, Brady opted to throw to his tight ends. They combined for 12 receptions yet it was Rob Gronkowski’s 8 receptions for 113 yards and 2 TDs that was the difference. Ochocinco was brought out of witness protection for a 53 yarder to introduce another element to their attack.

Ninkovich's second interception of Sanchez was the icing on the cake.

In contrast Mark Sanchez didn’t pass the eyeball test all night. He looked uncomfortable and had to force several throws. Stat-wise his night wasn’t that dissimilar from Brady’s. He completed 6 fewer passes for 23 fewer yards (Brady 26/39, 329 yds v. Sanchez 20/39, 306 yds). Yet of those six, two were interceptions with one being the game clincher by Nickel backer Rob Ninkovich.

After Santonio Holmes the Jets didn’t have a speed outlet that scared the Patriot defense. Subsequently the coverage on the intermediate routes grew tighter and tighter and exposed the Jets offense. As we watched this performance, we saw the same thing the television audience saw. The Jets are a slow football team. Plaxico Burress doesn’t have a burst and is only good from in close. Who wouldn’t be at 6’5 catching over a 5’9 defensive back?? Yes he caught his touchdown from seven yards out but only caught 3 passes on the night for 32 yards. On two occasions he ran pedestrian slant routes that Patriots DBs were able to knock down. The tradeoff of Plaxico Burress for Bralyon Edwards has backfired and their receivers no longer have balance. Edwards could stretch the field more and ran better routes to bail out Sanchez on 3rd down. Had to say it…lets take a look at the standings

AFC EAST W L T PCT HOME ROAD DIV CONF PF PA DIFF STRK
New England 6 3 0 .667 3-1-0 3-2-0 3-1-0 5-2-0 259 200 +59 Won 1
NY Jets 5 4 0 .556 4-1-0 1-3-0 2-2-0 4-4-0 215 200 +15 Lost 1
Buffalo 5 4 0 .556 4-1-0 1-3-0 1-1-0 3-2-0 229 218 +11 Lost 2
Miami 2 7 0 .222 1-3-0 1-4-0 0-2-0 1-6-0 158 178 -20 Won 2

Ryan Fitzpatrick is hounded by the Dallas defense last Sunday in a 44-7 loss.

Now what the hell was that that happened in Dallas?? Fortunately our boss, who is a Bill’s fan, is off this week and it looks like his team took it off also. 44-7?? What had been lost in the Bills 4-0 start was the fact that their defense ranked near the bottom. They were opportunistic in those first weeks leading the league with 12 interceptions yet without those they can’t get the other offense off the field. Losing Shawne Merriman has robbed the Bills of pass rush prowess that’s desperately needed. Right now the Bills are ranked 29th on defense and are tied for 27th in sacks with a paltry 15. If you can’t force teams off the field the last thing the Bills can afford are turnovers. In their first 6 games, the Bills were in rhythm and only had 7 turnovers as they started 4-2. Their last 3 games, 2 of which were losses?? Nine turnovers while going 1-2 in those.  This has to stop for the Bills to right a season that looks like they’ve lost a handle on.

Fred Jackson carries several Cowboys defenders in Sunday's loss.

saving grace for the Bills is the play of Fred Jackson. The underappreciated back hit the Cowboys defense for 114 yards to bring his season total to 917 and 6 TDs. He has emerged as a dual threat with 392 yards on 34 receptions and should make the Pro Bowl. His continued performance is needed to help Ryan Fitzpatrick not face a pass rush that is getting to him more in these last four games. With their center Eric Wood sustaining injury the line isn’t as formidable and could see problems the rest of the way. The Bills can right the ship with a big win. Yet it looks like their meal ticket may come from the ground game as we head toward winter games and 3 of their next four on the road. At 5-4 they are in desperate need of a win to keep pundits and other teams from thinking the sand is out of their 2011 hourglass.

Well one further thing to note: The Taylor Blitz Times in it’s NFL Annual Preview picked the New England Patriots to face the New York Jets in the AFC Championship. Well after being swept by the Pats, the Jets are hanging by a thread with 4 conference losses. The Jets have to nearly run the table just to make the playoffs and they had better find some answers. After a season of antics from Rex Ryan, it’s time for his team to deliver on the field and grow into the unit they say they can be. It’s alright to talk and be verbose when your team is pulling out big wins.

Well if the Jets can’t right the ship, their season will be defined by their losses to the arch rival Patriots. So we know Rex Ryan said “I wasn’t brought in to kiss Bill Belichick’s rings”…well…we just received a fax and wanted to share it with you. We’re not exactly sure what it means…you tell us

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Super Bowl XVLI Prediction

Vince Lombardi Trophy

Well you have heard our selections for both conference champions of the NFL. The New York Jets representing the AFC v the defending champion Green Bay Packers to represent the NFC. Each will descend on Indianapolis with a fervor. The all time winningest team in NFL history in terms of championships at 13 would be looking for their 14th.  Most Packer fans bristle when they hear about Sixburgh or Dallas and San Francisco boasting of 5 Super Bowl championships when in reality they only have a third of Green Bay’s titles. A modern dynasty would cement that notion among modern day fans, and rightfully put the Packers at the fore when championship teams are discussed.

However standing across from them at that coin toss would be a franchise that hadn’t played for it all in 42 years in the New York Jets. There in Indianapolis, the Jets want to liberate themselves from the cloud that seemed to descend upon this franchise since that famous Super Bowl III upset of the Baltimore Colts. Ironically, they would look to win their second Super Bowl in the Colt’s regular season home. Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez and the will win the AFC’s 10th Super Bowl in 15 years.

The main reason the Jets would win a Super Bowl XLVI matchup with Green Bay is the fact that they have excellent corners. Darelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie would be able to shut down either Greg Jennings or Jordy Nelson.  They have a third corner in Kyle Wilson (from Boise St) that gives them as formidable a threesome at cornerback than any team in the league. Lets face facts, the Packers are a passing team and this stellar coverage would allow Ryan to find a few ways to get to Aaron Rodgers. What was the Achille’s Heal of the Steeler defense in Super Bowl XLV, is the strength of the Jets defense in Super Bowl XVLI. Now Ryan can juggle his other eight defenders with exotic blitzes and combo coverages.

As for the ground game, each team could run the ball yet the Jets would be committed to it more. LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene would run the ball 30 times where Packers Coach Mike McCarthy has a penchant for putting it all in Rodgers hands. Mark Sanchez has grown as a quarterback yet Rex wouldn’t put too much pressure on him. They would be fairly conservative and playing keep away to keep their defense rested. One weapon that would be in the Jets favor is the moxie and motivation of Plaxico Burress, who would duplicate Ray Lewis’ situation going from incarceration to Super Bowl champ the following season. Matter of fact the last time the Packer defense saw Burress, he lit up CB Al Harris for 11 rec. 154 yards in the 2007 NFC Championship Game in Green Bay. Pretty sure he’d be okay on a neutral field. He did catch the winning touchdown in the upset of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, so he wouldn’t shrink at the magnitude of the event. We know Al Harris is gone but Plaxico is still 6’5 to Sam Shields and Tramon Williams, who each stand 5’11. Across from this is WR Santonio Holmes, Super Bowl XLIII’s Most Valuable Player, so you can see how the Packers might have to juggle Charles Woodson, Shields, and Williams.

As quarterbacks go, Mark Sanchez doesn’t have to outplay Aaron Rodgers, he just needs to be proficient. Rely on his running game and take calculated risks when the time is right. He does have the most road playoff wins in history at 4, so he should be at home in these trappings. Rodgers is the leader of the new quartrbacks that will dominate the NFL for the next 10 years. Aaron means everything to the Packers yet their offensive line has a penchant for his getting hit and sacked. Last year in the Super Bowl they dominated the Steelers pass rush with the quick rhythm passing game that Rodgers is the best at. The Packers would counter with waggles, and half rollouts in a way to keep the Jets defense off balance and blitzing to a static passing spot on the Lucas Oil turf.

Mark Sanchez' Joe Namath pose

To repeat as champion, Clay Matthews, BJ Raji, and Eric Walden have to collapse Sanchez’ pass pocket.  They should be able to do this to keep the game close. Green Bay can stop the run and rush the passer with the best teams in football. The Jets would try to keep them to a short field with their possessions and try to force turnovers which Aaron Rodgers doesn’t do. This would be a struggle that would come down to the wire. The Jets would play the tortoise to Green Bay’s hare and win a close tough game…24-16. At long last the New York Jets would be liberated from the ghost of Joe Namath and hoist their second Super Bowl trophy. Mark Sanchez would then get his due as a Super Bowl winning quarterback. Green Bay would have to wait until the following year to see if they can establish a dynasty.

New York Jets celebration

So there you have it…predictions for every NFL team. Their records, division placement, playoff participation, and now conference and Super Bowl champions. It’s all on record and we’ll see how right we are. See you in 6 months.