Taylor Blitz Crystal Ball- Super Bowl LV: Colts over Packers: Colts Story

The 2020 season is underway and taking shape and several teams have stepped to the fore. The defending champion Chiefs look completely unbeatable as all world QB Patrick Mahomes continues on a torrid pace. The same with Russell Wilson up in the Pacific Northwest. Yet two teams are just under the radar and will gain momentum although they aren’t the sexiest picks as the season will progress.

A formidable defense is growing in the midwest that will finish as the best defense in football and currently ranks #2 in all the NFL. The Chiefs are busy putting the finishing touches on the Ravens no longer being the #1 defense which will leave the Colts at the top of the heap. 

Indianapolis Colts defense:

  • Will be ranked #1 in defense once the Ravens lost.
  • Will be ranked #1 in the NFL against the pass.
  • 5 of the top 6 defenders have allowed 73% or less pass completions in their territory.
  • Colts have given up just 56 points through 4 games…29 in the last 3 games combined.
  • Through 4 games have garnered 10 sacks, 2 safeties, 7 ints returning 2 for touchdowns.
  • This defense has scored nearly as much as their opponents in the last 4 games 18 to 28.

It was the Colts who signed away DT DeForrest Buckner (19.5 sacks the last 2 seasons in San Fran) and CB Xavier Rhodes that have handicapped both the 49ers and Vikings defenses so far this season. Rhodes has scored on a pick 6 against the Jets and Buckner has scored on a safety with his 1.5 sacks this year. The other safety was recorded by former KC Chief Justin Houston who has 3.5 sacks and on pace for 14 this season. 

Keep in mind Houston is a 4 time Pro Bowler and had 11 sacks last year in his first year as a Colt. In 2014 he missed Michael Strahan’s record by 1 when he recorded 22 sacks. How well will he play with a lead and the best back 7 covering opponents receivers??

All this before we talk about emerging star Darius Leonard. Last year #53 turned heads accumulating 121 tackles, 5 sacks while forcing 2 fumbles and intercepting 5 passes and had 7 pass defenses. This year teams are staying away from him and have run into his talented teammates who round out the best defense in football.

The NFL will take notice once this team shuts down Cleveland and can make their way to the bye week at 5-1.

Head Coach Frank Reich who won Super Bowl LII as the Eagles Offensive Coordinator is getting into sync with Phillip Rivers. He doesn’t have to carry the Colts as they have the best offensive line in football and rookie RB Jonathan Taylor learning the pro game. Reich also coached Rivers during some of his best career years from 2013-2016 as first QB Coach then Offensive Coordinator.

The offense has taken a slight step back with Marlon Mack’s injury and Phillip Rivers just needs to be a guiding hand as the offense adjusts to Taylor and he can connect with TY Hilton. Rivers just needs to make key first downs and finish drives Jacoby Brissett left on the field last year. His role is similar to that of Peyton Manning’s in 2015 on the way to Super Bowl L with Denver. Minimize turnovers and get the young Colts an early lead and sic that defense on their opponent and turn to the running game. 

In case you forgot the Colts have the NFL’s best offensive line. Led by All Pro G Quenton Nelson and LT Anthony Costanzo, they powered the NFL’s #3 rushing attack last year. They just need their rookie RB Taylor to hit his stride and timing now that he is a surprised starter due to injur. Taylor will catch stride and rush for 1,000 yards before season’s end. His 250 yards and 2 TDs have just scratched the surface and the Colts should be rolling fully around midseason.

Taylor after scoring against the Jets

Which is just in the nick of time as they host the Packers in 7 weeks that will be a preview of Super Bowl LV. If they handle Green Bay in that week 11 matchup this team will win 13 games and will be vying for home field advantage. We’re upping the ante when The Chancellor of Football predicted they would win 11 and go to the AFC Championship before the season began in this preview.

This is the back 7 the defending champion Chiefs don’t want to face. Leonard is the most athletic Linebacker in the game and can cover TE Travis Kelce. He ate up underneath routes all last year when he led the team with 5 picks as teams were trying to throw to their “Y” receiver. “Y” is Tight End in coach speak…

This team will win Super Bowl LV with a group of hungry players who don’t have a distorted ego and a sinister sneaky defense against the pass. Much like the Philadelphia Eagle team Coach Reich was a part of in winning LII. Taylor Blitz Times said it first.

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2020 AFC South Preview: Bound For a Championship Game Appearance

Well…well… well… it looks like we’re going to have an NFL season after all. So we’re here to rub the crystal ball and see what we think will happen this 2020 season. Amid the backdrop of empty stadiums the NFL plans on kicking off the 101st season amid the Covid pandemic.

With two teams that fell to the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs in the playoffs, it’s not far fetched to assume a team from the AFC South will appear in this year’s AFC Championship Game. The Houston Texans melted after having a 24-0 lead in the divisional round before losing. Then the clock struck midnight on the cinderella Titans in the AFC Championshp after holding a 17-7 lead. Each come into the new season wondering what might have been. 

2020 AFC South Predictions

  1. Indianapolis Colts 11-5
  2. Tennessee Titans 9-7**
  3. Houston Texans 7-9
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars 4-12

The mantle of best offensive line shifts from the “Great Wall of Dallas II” to the Indianapolis front line. This group led a game managing Jacoby Brissett to a manageable 18TDs & 6 picks and serviceable Marlon Mack to 1,091 yards and 8 TDs.

This line led by All Pro G Quenton Nelson and LT Anthony Costanzo powered the NFL’s #3 rushing attack. Now they add 226lb north south runner Jonathan Taylor out of Wisonsin. He had multiple 2,000 yard seasons in the Big Ten and translates well in tandem with Mack. This is before speaking of the upgrade to Phillip Rivers who already knows Head Coach Frank Reich’s offense from their time together with the Chargers a few years back.

Rivers has signed a 1 year $25 million dollar deal and is playing for his legacy. Fellow 2004 draftees Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger each have 2 Super Bowl wins and Rivers has yet to appear in one. The Colts have a proven leader in this 16 year veteran who should be able to push the ball downfield better than the aforementioned Mr Brissett.

Down in Tennessee they hope to strike lightening twice with a good season out of Ryan Tannehill. Hard to coax from a retread quarterback the division now has film on. Keep in mind bruising defensive teams that rely on a bellcow running back like league leading rusher Derrick Henry rarely repeat close to the vest playoff runs. Last year the Titans were 3-1 in games decided by 3 points or less. The ball won’t bounce that way a 2nd straight year.

Rashaan Evans will become one of the NFL’s best linebackers this season.

Gone is 5 time pro bowl DT Jurrell Casey, former Patriot change of pace back Dion Lewis, TE Delanie Walker and LB Wesley Woodyard. This is a tremendous loss of veteran leadership and with Casey, playmaking ability.

Houston resigned Deshaun Watson to a megadeal and then traded his #1 weapon in DeAndre Hopkins. They traded him for underachieving RB David Johnson from the Cardinals. Johnson was on the bench and fallen completely out of favor with the Cardinals Coach. What Bill O’Brien saw in this move has yet to be understood by The Chancellor of Football. Or any other pundit for that matter.

Watson will be holding the ball more next year now the team doesn’t have a #1 receiver. He will regress from the 333 of 495 for 3,852 yards 26TDs and 12ints he tossed in 2019.

This will be Bill O’Brien’s last season as the Houston Texans head coach. However this division will have the Colts make the AFC Championship Game. 

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The NFL’s 100th Season: How Its a Passing League is a Misnomer

For years the battle has raged on the NFL has been called a passing league and the rule changes have been made for this to manifest itself. The league office has followed suit making sure the propaganda machines, NFL Network, FS1 and ESPN inundate viewers by saying it over and over. Yet here at Taylor Blitz Times we have told you this is and has been propaganda. When competing for a championship what plays out tells a different story…

Let’s take Drew Brees for instance…

For all the 5,000 passing yard seasons he’s had, do you realize when he won Super Bowl XLIV he threw for just 4,388 yards?? Even last year when his Saints were done in by a non pass interference call in the NFC Championship that kept him from the Super Bowl, Brees only threw for 3,992 yards? In the last 10 years these seasons rank as his 8th and 10th best in terms of yardage yet these are the seasons his team went the furthest. Imagine that.

Do you realize the 5 QBs with the most passing yards this season will watch the playoffs?

These are the “Pyrric Victory” QB…i.e. fantasy football guy: The QB that falls behind 24-7 with 80 or less yards passing during the competitive phase of a football game. Then with the opponent’s defense in vanilla zones protecting a 3 TD lead, the QB throws for a lot of yards as his team races to score 17 points throwing for 300 yards and a couple TDs in a 30-24 loss.
Hence a stat line that “looks” like he was in the game. Yet your eyes showed you when it was competitive he was completely ineffective. Since the stats look good its a “Pyrric Victory” although his team lost the war.

This is what plagues Dak Prescott, Jameis Winston and Phillip Rivers specifically. Just think, we just completed the last game of the season where Winston threw for more yards (5,109 yards) than Dan Marino’s great 1984 season. Stats can distort things and keep in mind this was a 7-9 team that has been out of the playoff race for months.

NFL Films once had a special that explained that teams that return an interception for a touchdown win the game over 75% of the time. Keep in mind Winston has thrown an NFL record 7 pick 6s which put his teams further behind…which forced him to pass more and… wait… this just in: The final pick 6 came in overtime and was the last play of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers season. Yikes!

Now Jameis wants $30 million per year after throwing 30 TDs & 30 ints….yet I digress

Football will always be a hitter’s game and until they turn this sport completely to lacrosse legislating against hitting, it’s principles still hold true.

The first is defense wins championships. Remember all the talk of the Rams and Sean McVay in last year’s Super Bowl? They ran into a Patriots team that played timely defense in a 13-3 win. Well it’s held true as 4 of the NFL’s top 5 defenses are all in the playoffs. Had the Steelers had any semblance of their offensive attack and Tomlin’s bunch would be in as well.

No question Mike Tomlin was Taylor Blitz Times NFL Coach of the Year.

The ability to come up with timely stops is where defenses win championships. Once you couple this with #2, a strong running attack, then you have a team that can power the football down their oponents throat and control the clock. You’ll also notice of the top 5 rushing teams 4 are in the playoffs. The only offset to this is the bubble screen teams are using as a replacement for high percentage running plays.

The name of the game in the NFL is balance with a high penchant for running and a competent passing game along with a steady defense. The recipe that has been rode to the Super Bowl has been a QB on a rookie QB with money spread along the team to a strong defense and running game. The Ravens rode this recipe to Super Bowl XLVII, Seattle to XLVIII and XLIX, the Eagles to LII & the Rams to LIII. It works.

chancellor.lombardiThe NFL has been around 100 years and The Chancellor of Football has been around for most of them and the axiom stands. Run it and play defense with a competent passing game and you have a chance to win it all. The playoffs start next week and the race to Super Bowl LIV begins.

The NFL is a balanced league… not a passing one.

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The NFL’s Best Team is in L.A. But It Isn’t The Rams

As the games in the NFL are starting to heat up many teams are starting to gain notice that weren’t the early favorites. Now of course you look around and the 8-1 Kansas City Chiefs playing the 8-1 Rams jump out at you. The only team that has played both actually has the longest winning streak in the AFC at 6 straight… and that is the Chargers.

Gordon has been the most electrifying back in the AFC.

Keep in mind we haven’t seen the Chargers at full potential yet as DE Joey Bosa hasn’t hit the field in 2018. Without him the Chargers are still 8th in sacks (26) with 5 1/2 by Melvin Engram III and a respectable 14th overall. Yet the loss of ILB Denzel Perryman, lost to IR this week, could come back to haunt.

On offense Phillip Rivers is enjoying an MVP level season completing 67.2% of his passes for 2,459 yards and 21 TDs. The fact he has matured and has only 4 interceptions shows he has turned the corner. He isn’t having the late game meltdowns as he had earlier in his career or mind numbing interceptions to derail the Chargers when they play inferior competition. His career has been plagued by that.

In all actuality he is playing for his legacy. This is his 15th season and he is in no man’s land with history connecting him to Drew Brees (NFL’s leading passer) and fellow draft alums Eli Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger. These men have 5 Super Bowl championships and 9 conference championship appearances between them. All this before bringing up Tom Brady who won 3 more titles during his era and defeating him in the only AFC Championship he appeared in back in 2007.

Even now he sees the future in a young Patrick Mahomes and what he is doing with the AFC West leading Kansas City Chiefs. What will history say about Rivers once his playing days are over?? He is stuck in this twilight and needs a Super Bowl championship to escape this purgatory.

Aiding him in the NFL’s 8th ranked offense is the tremendous play of 4th year back Melvin Gordon. Not only is he on pace for a 1,300 yard season on the ground (672 yards rushing/361 yards receiving) he has 11 combined touchdowns. Not bad for a guy who’s mother wouldn’t wear his jersey when he didn’t score as a rookie. He now has 35 in 2 1/2 seasons. Yet all he hears about is the Chiefs Kareem Hunt, who led the league in rushing last year, and fellow L.A. running back Todd Gurley.

This forgotten team out in Los Angeles is dangerous and has no obvious weaknesses. The one thing they could work on is getting more turnovers.

Which brings us to the elephant in the room… the chip on the shoulder of every one of these LA Chargers. Not only are they vagabonds in LA, ushered away and playing in a soccer stadium in Carson, but they’re complete afterthoughts nationally. They have to drive by billboards touting the Rams and the press has all but anointed them Super Bowl champions. Even in their own division the Chiefs are running away with the AFC West… if you listen to pundits.

Yet when it comes to championship competition like the NFL playoffs, keep your eye on the team that feels they have something to prove. The Chargers are 6-2 with their only losses coming to the Chiefs and Rams. They have a rubber match with Kansas City in 5 weeks where AFC home field advantage could be at stake.

The Rams?? Well… keep in mind the Chargers are to be tennants in their stadium being built in Hollywood Park. It’s been more than difficult for this team to gain traction in Los Angeles where they’re not wanted. What better way for Coach Anthony Lynn’s bunch to get back at all that ails them then to go to Atlanta and pound LA’s favorite team in Super Bowl LIII?? You know… that team that abandoned L.A. back in 1980 for the friendly confines of Anaheim.

We’re getting ahead of ourselves here but talk about some juicy plot-lines… and do not sleep on these Chargers.

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2018 AFC Predictions

It seems that we have been predicting the demise of the New England Patriots unsuccessfully for the last 7 years. This season the Patriots will miss this player or this player. Yet here we are again with the 2 time defending AFC Champions ready to battle off conference contenders who appeared to have closed the gap.

3d illustration of an NFL logo behind a transparent silver American football on top of a green football field

Yet here we are with a great number of marquee players returning from serious injury. How quickly can DeShaun Watson, Andrew Luck, and JJ Watt return to form?? Can the Steelers offense find a rhythm once they get LeVeon Bell to report to the team??

There is this team out in Los Angeles no one wants. Not only do they return with the NFL’s 4th ranked offense featuring Melvin Gordon (1,105 yds 8 TDs rushing / 58 rec. 476 yds 4 TDs) & Phillip Rivers (4,515 yds 28 TDs and only 10 ints) on a team that went 9-3 to finish the season.  It took the Chargers 4 weeks to get used to Coach Anthony Lynn’s staff and a new home as they started 0-4.

2018 AFC Predictions:

AFC Wast Champs: LA Chargers 12-4*

AFC East Champs: New England Patriots 11-5

AFC North Champs: Pittsburgh Steelers 10-6

AFC South Champs: Houston Texans 9-7

Wild Card: New York Jets 10-6

Wild Card: Kansas City Chiefs 9-7

AFC Champions: LA Chargers

Yes the city of Los Angeles will have a team in Super Bowl LIII but not the team that everyone is anointing.

The Chargers best pass rush since the mid 80’s.

Keep in mind the Chargers defense was middle of the road ranked 15th and should improve as Joey Bosa returns from a foot injury. However a closer look shows this team gave up 319 yards per game in the last 8 games. Good enough to make the top ten. Fellow DE Melvin Engram III came on with 10.5 sacks to combine with Bosa’s 12.5 which anchored the NFL’s 3rd ranked defense against the pass. This team is ready to make a move.

A lot of pundits want to anoint Andrew Luck as back however The Chancellor sees nothing but rust, rust, rust. He hasn’t played football in over 600 days and Colts fans will wince everytime he hits the ground. Keep in mind he has 4 games against Sacksonville (55 sacks) and Tennessee (43 sacks) which finished in the top 5 in QB take downs. Oh…and 3 time NFL Defensive Player of the year JJ Watt also returns. Sorry Calvin Ladd the Colts will be losing a lot of games. Did you just see that Redzone interception??

Can Forunette stay healthy this season? Has a tendency to get nicked up.

The AFC South will have 3 even teams beating up on each other as no one will take command until the final week. The Titans and Jaguars play several close to the vest affairs. One bounce of the ball one way or the other spells win or loss in at least 6 of their games. Its going to come down to which QB can make plays beyond the X’s and O’s and DeShaun Watson edges Marcus Mariota and Blake Bortles in that regard.

The Steelers and Patriots rule the AFC North and East respectively largely on Hall of Fame QBs. The underappreciated Ben Roethlisberger (4,251 yds 28TDs 14 ints) will have to keep the offense going in Bell’s absence. Pittsburgh is still the class of their division although this could be the last year on that perch. This situation with LeVeon Bell will linger all season. The back and forth between Pro Bowl C Maurkice Pouncey could prove disruptive to team chemistry once Bell joins the team.

This is how The Chancellor of Football’s crystal ball shapes up for 2018. It will be the L.A. Chargers traveling to Atlanta to play for this trophy:

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2015 AFC Predictions

Before we get into the heart of this conversation, The Chancellor of Football is going to take you back to a simpler time. The year was 1999 and the St Louis Rams were gearing to take on the NFC West bully on the block San Francisco 49ers. The Rams won the 1st game of the 1990’s between the two then lost the next 17 straight. They were the laughingstock of the league and beating the Bengals, to go 3-0 broke the tie between St Louis and Cincy as to which team had the most losses in the decade.

For the Rams to be taken seriously, they had to beat their long time division bully. A young Chancellor of Football explained to my friend Allan Kennedy – if the Rams can win this game they will make the playoffs. If they beat them handily they can make it to the Super Bowl. He looked at me as though I was crazy. When a team builds and the animosity permeates the entire roster, when its good enough, it goes looking for that bully. Do you realize with a win today Buffalo will have beaten the two teams that faced off in last year’s AFC Championship Game??

buffalo bills2015 AFC East Champions: Buffalo Bills

2015 AFC North Champion: Cincinnati Bengals

2015 AFC South Champion: Indianapolis Colts

2015 AFC West Champion: San Diego Chargers

Wildcards: New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC Champion: Buffalo Bills

This is what sits before the Buffalo Bills today as they take on their nemesis in the New England Patriots. The confidence gained from knocking down a conference heavy is what cements a team on the rise. In 1980 the Bills beat the Dolphins for the first time after losing all 20 games to them in the 1970’s. They made the playoffs andnearly the AFC Championship Game.

The Indianapolis Colts will win the South but Andre Johnson looks extremely slow in a Colts uniform. They need to establish Frank Gore and gain some physicality on the offensive side of the ball. Luck is a growing quarterback but struggles against Defensive Coordinators that give different looks. Do they have enough defense to get to Super Bowl L?

Phillip Rivers will have a great 2015.

Phillip Rivers will have a great 2015.

The team that is growing steadily is the San Diego Chargers under Mike McCoy.  Phillip Rivers and his Charger teammates in the past have played up and down to their competition. This is the year they break the hex the Denver Broncos have over them and win the division. Last year Rivers threw for 4,286 yards 31 touchdowns and just 18 interceptions. Once they can get rookie Melvin Gordon running the football and Antonio Gates back from suspension, this team could be 3-1.

They fielded the NFL’s 9th best defense and added Jacoby Jones to bolster their return game. Their solid at every position on their roster now the young talent needs to mature and Rivers can’t have down games. He’s 33 now and a veteran that should put it all together this season.

The AFC is wide open this year and the Steelers and Patriots have serious deficiencies on defense. These units will grow and mature but not in time to to serious damage this season. Malcolm Butler is a Super Bowl hero but he got torched by Brown of the Steelers in week 1. If corners Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis gave the Pats a championship pedigree defense, then losing them reduces them to the latter half of the league.

Taylor is prepared to lead the Bills into the playoffs.

Taylor is prepared to lead the Bills into the playoffs.

Which brings us back to the Bills who return the 4th best defense in football. Rex Ryan the season before had the 6th best defense when he ran the New York Jets and the Bills have better personnel. Now that DT Marcell Dareus is back to join Mario Williams this team can be lethal if they can play with a lead. They will finish as the #1 defense and have a stable of backs. LeSean McCoy and Percy Harvin are the wildcards to keep Tyrod Taylor from feeling like he has to make all the plays. Rex will play him like the AFC version of Russell Wilson. If you get through the first two reads and aren’t comfortable, take off for 5 yards.

Ryan used the formula of power running, solid defense, and a quarterback minimizing turnovers and made it to back to back AFC Championship Games in 2009 and 2010. That was with a rookie in Mark Sanchez at quarterback. Tyrod Taylor has a Super Bowl ring from his days in Baltimore as he learned the NFL going against the Ravens defense in practice. he is not overwhelmed and will do fine.

Tyrod Taylor celebrating at the end of Super Bowl XlVII.

Tyrod Taylor celebrating at the end of Super Bowl XLVII.

As for the intro?? The St Louis Rams blew out the San Francisco 49ers in that 1999 match-up 42-20, went on to sweep them for the season and won Super Bowl XXXIV. Buffalo will win handily today over New England.

If they can get to Super Bowl L as The Chancellor of Football thinks…. they’ll run right into a former Buffalo Bill playing running back for the NFC Champion.

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