Is it just me or does anyone else think that DeAndre Hopkins is one of the top five receivers in the league?
I must admit it wasn't until I watched the highlights of the Texans vs Jets game that I remembered all of the great catches he has made and how despite being covered by the best cornerbacks in the league he continues to make plays!
This week DeAndre Hopkins was matched up against one of if not the best cornerback in the league in Darrelle Revis yet he still finished the game with five catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns. In doing so Hopkins also became the third youngest receiver to ever reach 200 career catches and 3000 receiving yards. To see why I rate this kid so highly check out a selection of his highlights below:
** Warning Explicit Lyrics in Soundtrack to Video **
Another young player that had a great game this week is the rookie quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston has definitely had an up and down first season in the league but this week was one of those up games for sure. Winston and the Buccaneers went into what is usually a hostile atmosphere in Philadelphia but he did not let the crowd get to him at all.
Winston looked composed throughout the game and managed to spread the ball around his receivers which included Vincent Jackson who has returned this week from an injury. By the end of the game you could see exactly why he was the number one pick in this years draft. His final stats on the day were 19 of 29 passes for 246 yards and five touchdowns. Check out the highlights from this game below:
Another quarterback who had a great game this week is Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers. This year it seems to me as if Cam has really taken his game to the next level and you can definitely call him one of the elite quarterbacks in the league today.
This week he dissected the Redskins defence on his way to throwing for 246 yards and five touchdowns. Just in case you are wondering this is not a typo he genuinely had the same yardage and number of touchdowns as the young Jameis Winston. Check out super Cam and the undefeated Panthers highlights against the Redskins below:
The last quarterback I want to talk about this week is a veteran in the twilight of his career who is playing some of the best football of his life and that is Carson Palmer of the Arizona Cardinals. Palmer has been in the league now for twelve years and really seems to have a system in Arizona that makes him excel. It does help of course that he has one of the league's best receivers in Larry Fitzgerald not to mention the speedy receiver John Brown. You can see how Palmer and Cardinals got on this week by watching the highlights below:
To finish off this week I want to talk about the battle for two divisions which is really starting to heat up and not because the teams involved have great records either. The first division I want to talk about is the NFC East.
We are now 11 weeks into the season and not one of the four teams has a winning record which is just crazy. At the top of the pack you have the New York Giants who are 5 - 5 on the season and each week you just don’t know which version of the Giants will show up. At the bottom of the pack you have the Dallas Cowboys who are 3 - 7 but they now have Tony Romo back from injury and he could just be the catalyst they need to go on a winning streak. In fact I am actually going to say that I think the Cowboys are going to find a way to win this division by the end of the year and get into the playoffs.
The second division I want to talk about is the AFC South. Again like the NFC East there is not a single team in the division that boasts a winning record. At the top you have the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans with a record of 5 -5. The Colts have lost their starting quarterback to injury whereas the Texans seemed to have found their answer at quarterback with T J Yates. The Jaguars are 4 - 6 and are still in with a shout of winning the division for the first time in a number of years but the Titans on the other hand are realistically out of the hunt with a 2 - 8 record. Again I am going to be bold and predict that the Houston Texans are going to win the AFC South this year as they seem to be hitting form at the right time of the year.
Well that wraps it up from me for another week but be sure to check out our podcast ‘Spitball’ which will be available later in the week. Until next time football fans stay safe, take care and ‘Thanks for Stopping By’.
If I could use one word to describe all of the action this week it would simply be ‘Wowsers’. I mean this week was full of drama, close games and an onside kick that Calvin ‘Megatron’ Johnson would definitely like to forget.
With that said I think it is only right to start this week with the NFC North clash between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions. On paper this game should have been a total blow-out by Green Bay especially when you think of the two teams records and recent history but that is the great thing about divisional games, you just never know what is going happen. In the words of a legend close to the website 'Expect the Unexpected'.
The first half was pretty forgettable to be honest but the second half started with a bang as Ameer Abdullah returned the second half kickoff 104 yards for Detroit but sadly he got tackled just shy of the end zone. Three plays later Matthew Stafford completed a touchdown pass to Brandon Pettigrew to put the Lions up 9 – 3. Matt Prater then stepped up to kick the extra point but he sent it sailing wide of the posts.
Detroit kept playing hard and were rewarded with a field goal before Aaron Rodgers led Green Bay on a scoring drive to make it 12 - 10 in the fourth quarter. Into the closing stages now and you can see how the game played out by watching the highlights below:
You may have noticed this year that I have talked about the Denver Broncos alot this year and mostly for the right reasons as they went 8 - 0 thanks to a great defence but there has been one thing holding the Broncos back this year and it pains me to say, it’s Peyton Manning. Although this week Manning did break the record for most passing yards by any NFL quarterback he also threw four interceptions against the Chiefs this week before being benched. I may be being a little hard on Manning because let’s face it when you have a quarterback of his calibre the last thing you do is try to change the way he plays the game like Gary Kubiak's offense seems to be trying to do!
Moving swiftly on from that now onto something that just never ceases to amaze me and that is the catches that wide receivers and defenders alike are making these days. I mean seriously the catches are just getting ridiculously good to a point of obscene although not as obscene as Antonio Brown's touchdown celebration. Check out both Brown’s celebration and the top five catches from this week below:
Another one of the games this week that had that wow factor was the Jacksonville Jaguars against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore. This game just ebbed and flowed beautifully back and forth with both teams scoring touchdowns and getting takeaways but like the Lions game it came down to the fourth quarter and a very dramatic end. The Ravens managed to get that go ahead touchdown with over seven minutes to go in the game giving the Jaguars plenty of time to score or so you would have thought. A couple of exchanged punts later and we get to the real drama with just over a minute left in the game the Jaguars got the ball back and had one last chance to make ground for that winning field goal. See all of the drama unfold by watching the highlights below:
To finish off this week we come onto the Sunday evening game between the New York Giants and New England Patriots at the Metlife stadium in New Jersey. This game was always going to be a great contest because over these last seven years the Giants are probably the only team that have had the Patriots number so to speak. Add to that you also had to of the best players at their position on show in Rob Gronkowski (Tight End) and Odell Beckham Jr (Wide Receiver).
Rob Gronkowski has taken the tight end position to just a whole new level in that not only is he a threat in the redzone because of his size but he has the speed to break long plays on you as well. On that note I would feel rude if I didn't mention Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzales who really started off this new breed of tight end but Gronkowski has just elevated it to another level.
Since being drafted with the 42nd overall pick back in 2010 Gronkowski has amassed 357 receptions for 5185 yards and 62 touchdowns. It may not seem a lot but when you factor in how much time he has missed through injury it is quite outstanding.
Odell Beckham Jr came into the league with a bang last year after missing the first four games of the season due to a hamstring injury he went on to record 91 receptions for 1305 yards and 12 touchdowns. Oh yeah and he also had a certain catch last year against the Dallas Cowboys which is still possibly the best catch I have ever seen.
So when you add those two players into the mix with the recent history between the two teams you end up with a game like this:
Well that wraps it up from me for another week but be sure to check out our podcast ‘Spitball’ which will be available later in the week for a further round-up of the week ten action. Until next time football fans stay safe, take care and 'Thanks for Stopping By'.
Before I get to the week nine action, I want to start this week by taking a quick look at some of the players who have really impressed me so far this season.
I can think of no better place to start than wide receiver Antonio Brown. Brown is now in his sixth year in the league and he is showing no signs of slowing down. So far this year Antonio has caught 69 passes for 1002 yards and three touchdowns. Although you may think his touchdown count is low he is basically the one who has been moving the sticks and keeping the drives alive with amazing catches and most importantly his yards after catch (YAC). Here are some of Antonio’s highlights from the week nine game against Oakland in which he had an amazing 17 receptions for 284 yards:
Next up is a second year receiver who is showing all the attributes of becoming the next best receiver in the game and that is John Brown of the Arizona Cardinals. John Brown is quick, dynamic and is certainly not afraid to put his body on the line to make a catch as we have seen a few times this year. Admittedly it helps that Carson Palmer is having a monster year at quarterback but there have certainly been times where Brown has made Palmer look unplayable. Here is a look back at his rookie year highlights to give you an idea of just how good he is:
To be honest there are a lot more players who have impressed me this year but it would take far too long for me to list each one. I will however finish off this section with one last player who is showing why he was once considered an elite running back and that is DeAngelo Williams of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Now you have to bear in mind that Williams is second in the depth chart behind the great LeVeon Bell but in the three games that Williams has started this year he has rushed for 374 yards and five touchdowns. Not bad at all for a back up I would say. Click on the picture below to see his highlights from the week nine game against the raiders:
Onto the week nine action now and entering this week there were four unbeaten teams, New England, Denver, Cincinnati and Carolina. The first of the teams to defend their undeafeted status was Cincinnati as they played host to division rivals the Cleveland Browns. To save you having to put up with my waffle about the game check out the game highlights below:
Next up you had New England entertaining the Washington Redskins and this game was a non contest from the start despite the fact that Washington had their star receiver De Sean Jackson back in the fold. New England are just too good right now and they went on to get the victory 27 to 10.
We move onto Carolina now who hosted the Green Bay Packers. The Packers were undefeated themselves until last week when they lost to Denver. Going into the game Aaron Rodgers was 15 - 0 in games following a defeat the week before. Carolina came out of the blocks like Usain Bolt and I don’t think Green Bay new what had hit the them. Green Bay came back into the game late on but in the end the Panthers defence was just too good for Green Bay. Check out the highlights of this game below:
Finally we finish with Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis with the Broncos. As you can see all of the other teams remained on course for the perfect season but would Peyton and the Broncos or would Andrew Luck and the Colts have something to say about it. Check out the highlights below to see how this one played out:
So we are down to three teams with a perfect record, this is the first time in NFL history that we have had more than two teams with a perfect record at this point in the season. I can’t wait to see how it plays out over the next few weeks.
Well that is is from me for another week but be sure to check out our podcast ‘Spitball’ later in the week for a recap of all of the week nine games along with more players who have impressed myself and Marcus this year. Until next time football fans check out the best plays of week nine below, stay safe, take care and ‘Thanks for Stopping By’.
It would be rude for me to start this week without talking about a quarterback who since coming back from an early season injury has led his team to four wins on the bounce and that is Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints.
Drew Brees has become one of the elite quarterbacks in the game since his move from San Diego back in 2006 and since his move no other quarterback in the league has thrown for more passing yards, touchdowns or 300 yard games than Drew Brees. Oh and he also now holds the record for the most consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass thrown (54 Games).
Why did I have to mention Drew Brees this week you may be asking, well it’s simple he threw for over 500 passing yards this week and seven touchdowns in the Saints shoot out win against the New York Giants. You can check out the highlights from this game below:
Another thing I want to talk about this week is my own personal impressions of the international series games held here in the UK at Wembley Stadium. Before this season I was not very impressed with how the fans reacted to the home teams in that you would only here them making noise on the opponent's third down attempts for the first quarter then the atmosphere would seem to just die.
This year however and particularly yesterday as Kansas played host to Detroit I thought the fans were just amazing. From the start of the game to the end there was a great atmosphere and noise in all the right places despite the blowout that was taking place on the field. Needless to say my opinion has now changed and for that I say a big thank you to all of my fellow UK fans that attend these games.
Back to the action stateside now and a team that seem to be going about their business and picking up wins without a great deal of media attention and that is the Minnesota Vikings. Since the introduction of new head coach Mike Zimmer back in 2014 they are starting to build a young and exciting team with big players in all of the right positions.
Last year they drafted both quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and linebacker Anthony Barr, two quality players who are both earning their money this year. I think you have to give credit to their general manager Rick Spielman as well because since he became the general manager in 2012 here are some of the key players they have drafted:
2012: Matt Kalil (Offensive Line), Harrison Smith (Safety), Blair Walsh (Kicker)
2013: Sharrif Floyd (Defensive Line), Xavier Rhodes (Cornerback), Cordarrelle Patterson (Wide Receiver)
2014: Anthony Barr (Linebacker), Teddy Bridgewater (Quarterback)
2015: Eric Kendricks (Linebacker), Stefon Diggs (Wide Receiver)
All of the above players are current starters at their position for the Vikings who now have a record of 5 – 2 this year which just goes to show what a great job Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer have done.
Finally to finish off this week I want to talk about two teams from the NFC West with contrasting fortunes and they are the San Francisco 49ers and the St Louis Rams.
Since the beginning of the year the 49ers have really been struggling to find any sort of form, to be fair to them they did have a lot of talent either retire or decide they want to play elsewhere, most notably their two middle linebackers Chris Borland and Patrick Willis who just decided to retire rather than play this season. They also lost their head coach in the off season as Coach Jim Harbaugh took a job coaching at the University of Michigan. When I think about it all those factors probably do explain why they have a 2 – 6 record this year.
The St Louis Rams however are really starting to come into their own this year and although they only have a record of 4 – 3, 3 of those wins are against all of their NFC Rivals. What is the reason for their recent success, well I put it down to a couple of factors.
Firstly is their head coach Jeff Fisher who is a great coach and during his time with Tennessee led them to the playoffs on six occasions. Fisher is one of those old school coaches who builds his teams on a solid running game and solid defence. He is also partial to the occasional sneaky fake punt. I personally love this style of coaching.
Secondly is the talent they now have on both sides of the ball. I think without question the Rams have one of the best defensive lines in the league led by Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn and they also now have explosive players on the offense in Tavon Austin and Todd Gurley.
In the last few weeks we are really starting to see Todd Gurley’s full talent at running back and he has now rushed for over 100 yards in each of his last four games. Thanks to opposing defences focus now shifting onto Gurley it has allowed Austin to become more active in the passing game and so far this season Austin has 426 combined rushing and receiving yards and 6 touchdowns.
Well that wraps it up from me for another week but be sure to check out our podcast ‘Spitball’ which will be available later in the week with a full recap of the week eight action. Until next time football fans stay safe, take care and ‘Thanks for Stopping By’.
Adri 'BallHawk' Mallows