Bills-Eagles Trade Opens the NFL’s League Season With a Bang

McCoy
"Shady" McCoy is apparently not thrilled about going to Buffalo via trade.

The National Football League free agency period doesn’t begin until the 10th of this month but already there has been one major shift on the League’s landscape.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported yesterday that Philadelphia will trade LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso. The trade cannot formally happen until the 2015 NFL Season officially starts on the 10th.

Alonso
Should the Eagles have received more in return for McCoy than just Alonso?

The easiest question to ask why didn’t the Eagles ask for more? Alonso has played one season in the NFL and while he was spectacular, it’s still one season which was followed by a year on injured reserve after he tore an ACL in his knee.

McCoy on the other hand is an established star running back. Although he had a below par season for himself, he still rushed for over 1,300 yards but his receptions dropped significantly.

In 2012 and 2013, “Shady” had 54 and 52 receptions respectively. Last season, he recorded just 28 catches.

It’s no secret that McCoy was not exactly happy with things in Philly under Chip Kelly but we are hearing that he’s also not thrilled about going to Buffalo either.

What the trade does for the Eagles is create cap space which is always important and it brings another familiar face to town for the former Oregon coach who will now have nine former Ducks on his Eagles’ roster.

Don’t be surprised if Kelly does everything he can to make it ten. There’s been plenty of speculation that Kelly will try to trade up to grab Heisman winner Marcus Mariota. That idea has time to brew however.

For the Bills, new Head Coach Rex Ryan gets a running back his offense needs because there’s shock when I tell you that Ryan likes to run the ball. The question for him though is this the type of back who runs between the tackles for three yards and a cloud of dust?

That’s where I think there could be some issues. McCoy is much better suited to being in an offense more suitable to his skills which is something more like the Eagles. I think McCoy can thrive in just about any offense but I think that line of thinking is fair.

Rex Ryan wants to win games 17-10 if he can behind a punishing defense and powerful running game. The fact that his Bills traded yesterday to bring in quarterback Matt Cassel is more proof of the style Ryan wants to win with in Buffalo.

Now in terms of Alonso, he just wasn’t going to fit in Rex Ryan’s 3-4 defense. Now he goes to Philadelphia where the Eagles in a more traditional 4-3 alignment and he has the familiarity of playing for his college coach in Chip Kelly.

The question for Alonso is what can we expect from him coming off of his ACL tear which by the way was his second one in his football career? Many players come back from these injuries and play at a high level and I see no reason why Alonso can’t do the same.

If we peer into the crystal ball for both coaches it isn’t easy hard to see what’s happening with this trade. Besides creating more cap space, Chip Kelly brings in more of his “own” guys and gets rid of a guy who allegedly wasn’t crazy about playing for him.

For Ryan it’s even more clear. He’s now on his second head coaching stop and most coaches are lucky t have even one shot. With that said, Ryan is going all-in to win now because a couple of poor seasons in Buffalo with the talent he has will surely be his final head coaching stop.

Intriguing NFL Storylines for the Final Week of the Season

Harbaugh
Harbaugh
By all accounts, Jim Harbaugh is coaching his last game in San Francisco tomorrow.

The 2014 National Football League Season comes to an end this weekend and while you can find all the playoff scenarios at nfl.com, I’m looking at those but also a lot more. Let’s get rolling.

Monday is of course now known as “black Monday” because this is typically the day that NFL coaches who are on the hot seat are in fact fired. My expectation is that you’ll see several coaches packing up their offices.

If I’m a betting man, I have to believe Rex Ryan is finally out in New York although there are arguments to be made that General Manager John Idzik is a bigger problem. I also believe Tony Sparano will be removed as the Raiders’ interim tagged coach and will be looking for new employment. I his case, it’s hard to to avoid the decent success his team has had but I believe the Raiders will look elsewhere.

Also on the chopping block will be Mike Smith in Atlanta if the Falcons lose tomorrow. Even if they advance to the playoffs I expect him to be gone unless they make a miraculous run to the Super Bowl.

The biggest name will of course be Jim Harbaugh. Michigan officials were reportedly already in San Francisco yesterday and will be at Harbaugh’s door as soon as the official word comes down that he is fired. Reports are that that will come very soon after the Niners’ final game. My feeling is that the 49ers are making a mistake. Harbaugh has been hugely successful and rescued this franchise from mediocrity. If anyone should go it’s the GM Trent Baalke but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.

Other potential unemployed coaches: Tom Coughlin, Marc Trestman, Jeff Fisher, Doug Marrone

Green
A.J. Green went for over 200 yards last time the Bengals faced the Steelers. Can he do it again?

Three Division Champs to Be Crowned Sunday

In the AFC, Pittsburgh hosts Cincinnati at Heinz Field on Sunday night in the final game of the regular season. The winner gets the AFC North title and a home playoff game next week while the loser hits the road to open the postseason.

In their first meeting three weeks ago, the Steelers scored 25 points in the fourth quarter to win 42-21. I expect a much closer game this time around but you have to like the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger who plays well at home especially late in the season.

In Green Bay, a similar situation exists. The Packers host the Lions and the winner earns the NFC North title and possibly a top seed in the NFC while the loser becomes the fifth or sixth seed and starts the playoffs on the road. While the chances exist for Detroit to to be anywhere from a one-seed to a six-seed, they have to get past the Packers in Green Bay.

The last time the Lions won at Lambeau Field was 22 years ago when Rodney Peete was the quarterback and Barry Sanders was the running back. Matthew Stafford has to play better for the Lions to have a chance Sunday.

Last but not least is the showdown in Atlanta where it’s all or nothing for the Falcons and Panthers. A win gets either into the playoffs while the loser goes home and possibly looks for a new coach. The winner of the NFC South will also become the second team since the 1970 merger to win a division with a record under .500 and will create more discussion about re-seeding for the playoffs.

In all likelihood, the Falcons or Panthers will host a team with at least three or four more wins then they have and that doesn’t sit well with many. Take the Falcons with the home-field advantage tomorrow.

 

Introducing My NFL Mid-Term Awards

Murray
Murray
Despite the fumbles, DeMarco Murray is my mid-season choice for NFL MVP.

Believe it or not the National Football League is entering week nine which means we are at the half-way point of the 2014 season. I couldn’t live with myself (OK I probably could) if I didn’t give you my thoughts on who is headed for the podium to receive awards. I’m also going to give you some awards that might not necessarily appear in most publications.

NFL Most Valuable Player

DeMarco Murray. The easy answer here is always Peyton Manning and he is having an MVP-worthy season and will probably win it but I’m going with Murray. Behind a much-improved offensive line, Murray has been absolutely dominant in leading the Cowboys to a 6-2 record. Others: Philip Rivers, J.J. Watt, Ben Roethlisberger

NFL Offensive Player of the Year

Manning. With all due to respect to Murray who could eclipse 2,000 yards rushing, my gut feeling is that Manning’s numbers will be hard to ignore. The fact that he’s 38 years old doesn’t hurt his chances either. Others: Rivers,Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell,

NFL Defensive Player of the Year

J.J. Watt. The only reason I’m even mentioning this is because there is still half the season to go but to this point Watt is the front-runner by miles. Others: Von Miller, Justin Houston

NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year

Odell Beckham, Jr. Yup, I know… He’s hardly played this season but now that he’s healthy he’s been tearing it up and I believe he will continue to do so. Others: Kelvin Benjamin, Sammy Watkins

Barr
Anthony Barr is quietly putting together a great rookie year in Minnesota.

NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year

Anthony Barr. This could go to one of several guys but considering that Barr is basically the only true pass rushing threat the Vikings have that’s pretty damn good for a rookie. Others: C.J. Mosely, Ryan Shazier

NFL Coach of the Year

Bruce Arians. What more can we say about Arians? After “retiring” from the Steelers, he was the offensive coordinator that led rookie Andrew Luck into the playoffs then led the Cardinals to a 10-6 record last year. Now his Cards are 6-1 and he’s seen his team win with a banged up Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton at QB. Others: Jason Garrett, Jim Caldwell

Surprise Team of the Year

Detroit Lions. At 6-2, the Lions have gotten here despite injuries to Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush. They’ve also pulled rabbits out of their hats in the last two weeks with crazy comebacks. Either way, wins are wins. Others: Cleveland Browns, San Diego Chargers

Coach on the Hottest Seat

Mike Smith, Falcons. There are worse records out there but Smith’s Falcons have been brutal over the last season and a half and Sunday’s loss in London was the clincher. Others: Rex Ryan, Joe Philbin

Most Irritating Owner

Jerry Jones, Cowboys. Jones is a media whore and the networks like ESPN just follow his every move like a lost puppy. Others: Jim Irsay

Luckiest Man in the NFL

Dennis Allen. The former Raiders’ head coach was the first casualty of the season and he couldn’t have been luckier to get out of there.

Best Celebration Award

Randall Cobb, Packers. Cobb’s recent “Lambeau Leap” wasn’t all that unusual until someone’s hot dog got ketchup all over his jersey. So red was it that the trainer had to make sure it wasn’t blood. Others: Jeremy Hill’s “Ickey Shuffle”

Most Disappointing Division

NFC South. 3-4-1 leads this division right now. ‘Nuff said.

Worst Uniforms

Steelers Throwbacks. Flight of the Bumblebees is more like it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guys On the Hot Seat in the NFL

Freeman
Freeman
Freeman needs a playoff appearance to save his job in Tampa Bay.

The National Football League is now in full swing as training camps across the country have opened for business. If you needed any more clear sign of this then check the injury blotter today. Philadelphia has lost receiver Jeremy Maclin to a torn ACL while Super Bowl Champion Baltimore will have to move forward without tight end Dennis Pitta. It appears Pitta will miss the season following hip surgery.

The injuries will continue to pile up unfortunately but today I’m focusing on some players and coaches that are in ‘must-win’ situations heading into the season.

Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Quarterback – After four seasons and three as the full-time starter, Freeman has put up some pretty good numbers but has yet to lead the Buccaneers to the playoffs. In his defense, the Bucs did go 10-6 a couple of years ago but didn’t qualify for the postseason.

That’s nice but in this business it’s playoffs or hit the road. Freeman has thrown for 78 touchdowns against 63 interceptions and has passed for over 12,000 yards but the key number that has to improve is completion percentage. Freeman’s career average is 58.8% and that needs to come up a good five to six points.

With the improved Tampa Bay running game, Freeman should be able to capitalize on that with play-action but he can’t afford many misses and in a very competitive division or Freeman could be looking for work elsewhere.

Ryan Mathews, San Diego Running Back – The former Fresno State Bulldog enters his fourth year in the NFL and needs to prove that he can be a full-time running back for the Chargers. Mathews has not yet played a full season in the NFL with 14 games being the most in first three seasons.

Injuries have been the reason for those missed games, but they can no longer be an excuse. Mathews has one 1,000 yard rushing campaign in his three seasons but the Bolts need more from him in order to give Philip Rivers more time to throw. San Diego brought in Danny Woodhead from New England and he will challenge Mathews which may be the inspiration he needs.

Ryan
If Ryan wants to keep his smile and his job, the Jets have to be better.

Rex Ryan, New York Jets Head Coach – The always interesting Ryan enters his fifth season as head coach of the Jets and desperately needs a big year to save his job. At just 34-30 in four years, it’s been the last two that have most people wondering just how much time he has left. After two straight playoff seasons, Ryan’s Jets went 8-8 in 2011 and 6-10 last year.

The Jets have been hit with significant injuries especially to the wide receiving corps but the real issue has been the lack of quality play at the quarterback position. Mark Sanchez led the Jets to the AFC title game in his first two years in the league but has been a complete disaster the last two seasons.

Don’t forget the team brought in Tim Tebow for 2012 and the intended use of Tebow is still a question mark quite honestly but he’s in New England now. Enter rookie Geno Smith who will challenge Sanchez for the job. It’s a job that will determine whether Rex Ryan keeps his in 2014.

Mike Smith, Atlanta Head Coach – No, I’m not crazy. Smith, who has a career win-loss record in five years in Atlanta of 56-24, is on the hot seat. Despite his great regular season winning percentage, he is 1-4 in the playoffs despite two division titles. His only win was a narrow 30-28 win over Seattle last season and his coaching decisions have come into question.

Atlanta will head into this season with a new $100 million QB in Matt Ryan and as one of the favorites in the NFC. Should they fail to get to the Super Bowl, I think his job is shaky. In this business, it’s about winning the big games not just playing in them.

Week 11 NFL Betting Tips

The impending quarterback Armageddon in New York could continue to chug along if the Jets get a win over the Rams this weekend.

Week 11 in the NFL sees the final four byes of the season, meaning from here on out we get a full slate of football all the way to the end of December. Week 11 also sees a quick turnaround for Thanksgiving games this coming Thursday, but before we get to that, we’ve got a few games worthy of your attention.

Here’s a look at three of Sunday afternoon’s most intriguing and noteworthy match-ups. There are important games across the slate, with teams bustling for position or just trying for a rare win, but these are the ones that have caught the eye of CasinoReview ahead of the weekend.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers

Tampa Bay (5-4, 2-2 road) looks to win its fourth game in a row Sunday, something it hasn’t done in four years. The Buccaneers will travel to Carolina (2-7, 1-4 home) to take on a Panthers side that has lost six of the last seven.

Tampa Bay will be looking to keep up the pace to make the postseason, a tough ask when you consider that Atlanta is streaking ahead and New Orleans may well be on the way back. But the Buccaneers have been tough of late, winning four of the last five. The Bucs also beat the Panthers 16-10 in Week 1.

Carolina’s 1-4 home record is only better than that of Kansas City (0-5) and Jacksonville (0-5). That’s not the sort of company you want to be keeping.

Odds: Carolina opened as 1½-point favorites but the momentum has swung in the opposite direction and now the Buccaneers are favorites (-2). The over/under is 48½.

Take: Tampa Bay – Number one in the league at stopping the run, Tampa Bay will force the Panthers, and Cam Newton, to throw which has been a less than successful tactic so far this season. The Buccaneers meanwhile are number three in the league in scoring, having put together a strong passing and rushing game. It could be a long day for the team from Charlotte. Take the Bucks to cover the spread, as they have done seven times this season, with the total going over.

 

New York Jets @ St. Louis Rams

You’d be forgiven for not realizing that the New York Jets (3-6, 1-3 road) took to the football field on Sunday afternoons, such is the comedy parade of off-field antics. This week unnamed players denounced Tim Tebow, Mark Sanchez, and just about everybody else you can think off. This mishmash of egos and enemies will head to the Gateway City this Sunday.

St. Louis (3-5-1, 3-2 home) managed to snap a three-game losing streak last week, scoring a tie –yes, a tie – with San Francisco. The Rams will be looking to go one better and get a win this weekend. Better hold on to your hats.

New York defeated the Rams the last time the two sides met (2008), breaking a seven-game losing streak. However, the Jets have never beaten the Rams in St. Louis. New York’s one and only road win against the Rams came in 1970 – the first time the two sides met – when the Rams were located in Los Angeles.

Odds: The Jets’ turbulent week has seen the spread open up in this one. The Jets are now 3½-point underdogs, with the over/under at 38½.

Take: NY Jets – The thing the Jets need least right now is for this saga of discontent and uncertainty to continue. There needs to be a cutting of the chord and a restart. If the Jets were to lose, we might finally see such a move – whether it involves a certain Florida Gators quarterback or not – but if the Jets win, this sorry mess will continue to drag on. Take the Jets to win and cover the spread then, perhaps even on an almost solid performance by Mark Sanchez. Take the total to go under with these low-scorers on the field.

 

Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots

Indianapolis (6-3, 2-2 road) had another emotional visit from head coach Chuck Pagano this week. These emotional meetings have tended to spur the Colts on to victory but this week could be a little different.

Indianapolis travels to New England (6-3, 3-1 home) to take on Tom Brady and the Patriots in what will be an enticing game. Brady will face-off against Andrew Luck for the first time, as both teams look to add to winning streaks of three and four respectively.

The Patriots have won two in a row against Indianapolis, and nine of the last 14. The Colts have not won in New England since 2006.

Odds: New England opened with a healthy eight point advantage which has since risen to nine. The over/under is 54.

Take: New England – The bubble that Indianapolis has encased itself within – and the hype that has followed – may be about to burst. Can Luck and Co. sustain an entire season of high tension and emotion, as well as the steep learning curve that comes with making the jump to the pros? Maybe, but not against Tom Brady who could be about to hit form. Nine points might seem a large spread, but take New England to cover it with a two touchdown victory. Take the total to go over, as it has in seven Patriot games this season.

 

There’s also the small matter of Baltimore’s match-up with Pittsburgh on Sunday Night Football and Chicago’s trip to San Francisco for Monday Night Football. We haven’t forgotten about those games, we just want you to come back and read about them on Sunday and Monday.

 

Week 11 Schedule

Thursday: Miami 14-19 Buffalo

Sunday: (1 PM ET) Arizona @ Atlanta | Tampa Bay @ Carolina | Cleveland @ Dallas | Green Bay @ Detroit | Jacksonville @ Houston | Cincinnati @ Kansas City | NY Jets @ St. Louis | Philadelphia @ Washington; (4:05 PM ET) New Orleans @ Oakland; (4:25 PM ET) San Diego @ Denver | Indianapolis @ New England; (8:20 PM ET) Baltimore @ Pittsburgh

Monday: (8:30 PM ET) Chicago @ San Francisco

Bye: Minnesota, NY Giants, Seattle, Tennessee