Pro Player Insiders Executive Editor Melissa Mahler http://proplayerinsiders.com Behind the scenes look at lives and lifestyles of NFL players and their families plus sports news, interviews & events Thu, 13 Dec 2018 19:25:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Chargers vs Chiefs- Thursday Night Football Preview http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/chargers-vs-chiefs-thursday-night-football-preview/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/chargers-vs-chiefs-thursday-night-football-preview/#comments Thu, 13 Dec 2018 19:25:54 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=173968 The final Thursday night game of the season, might be the most important game of the season in the AFC West. The Kansas City Chiefs and the San Diego Chargers are the only two teams in the AFC that have 10 or more wins at this point in the season. So the winner of this game will have the inside track on home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Chiefs enter the game fresh off beating the Baltimore Ravens at home in what could be a divisional round playoff game. They overcame 2 missed field goals and a heel injury to star receiver Tyreek Hill to survive at home.

The Chargers enter the game after holding on to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals at home by two points. After Joe Mixon scored a touchdown with less than two minutes to go in the game, the defense stopped the Bengals on the game-tying two point conversion. With the potential of Pro Bowl running back Melvin Gordon III returning to the lineup, the Chargers could have enough to keep the Chiefs from clinching the AFC West Division title. So let’s take a look at what to watch for as both teams take the field on Thursday night.

Whoever is running the ball for the Chiefs needs to get it going early

The question isn’t can Kansas City run the ball it’s who will be carrying the ball? With Spencer Ware doubtful for the game, the running game falls on Damien Williams to lead the load. Now he had a solid game against the Ravens last week scoring two touchdowns after Ware left the game due to injury. Damien has to get it going early for the Chiefs to be effective. The Chargers have allowed two games of less than 75 yards rushing in their last three games played. Now they gave up over 140 last week to the Bengals, but Williams isn’t Mixon. Williams only had 14 yards rushing on his eight carries on Sunday and the Chargers are at top-12 team against the run this season. If he can get the Chiefs running game going, it could be a long night for Los Angeles especially with dealing with Patrick Mahomes and the passing attack.

Speaking of quick starts, Mahomes is dangerous in the opening quarter

Even though I just spoke on how the running game needs to have a good start, the passing game in the 1st quarter has been a problem for the Chargers all season. They allow a quarterback rating of over 104 in the opening 15 minutes of play, Mahomes’s rating is 114.6 in first quarter. He’s only thrown one interception and completes over 66 percent of his passes as his passing sets the tone for the game for Kansas City. He needs to get Travis Kelce involved early. In the game in week one, Kelce was held to a season-low one catch for six yards and the NFL’s best tight end (Sorry Gronk) needs to get himself going early.

If Kelce gets involved early, don’t think that Pat won’t go deep to Hill early. In their earlier matchup, Hill caught seven passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns in the Chiefs win. Hill is explosive in the open field and if he gets just a little bit of separation, Mahomes won’t miss him on the deeper routes. Expect super-rookie Derwin James to be more in pass coverage on Thursday night. To help with Hill going over the top of the defense.

The Chargers have to hope that Gordon III can play.

When Gordon suffered his is grade-two MCL sprain a few weeks ago, the injury was expected to be a two to four week injury and he should be ready for the playoffs. Now in a game that the Chargers need in order to potentially get a first round bye in the playoffs, Gordon might be looking to get back into the lineup earlier than expected. Los Angeles will be without Austin Ekeler out with a neck injury, so if one of the NFL’s best running back can’t go, Justin Jackson would have to carry the load.

Nothing against Jackson, but when you can have your Pro Bowl running back ready to go, you have to let him go. But expect Jackson to play a role, especially in passing situations where Ekeler excelled.

Prediction:

The teams first game this season was the Hill show as the nation got to see Mahomes for the first time. Now that we are 13 games into the season and Mahomes is the leader in the clubhouse for MVP, this game will be the real test to see if he’s the MVP. The difference now is that in this game Kansas City doesn’t have Kareem Hunt in the backfield and that’s a huge difference. Expect the Chargers to key on the run and force Patrick to throw on every down. The Chargers are one of the few teams that can go for point for point with the Chiefs because of Phillip Rivers (funny how I just went over 800 words without mentioning him at all) and Keenan Allen.

I would pick the Chargers if Gordon was 100 percent because if the Chargers could get a lead they could rely on him to eat up clock. But since he is not and the game is on the road, it changes my pick. Expect both quarterbacks to throw for over 300 yards, but the young quarterback beats the veteran at home. Kelce will be the star on Thursday night, expect him to carry the Chiefs and whoever has him in their fantasy football playoffs. I’m expecting at least nine catches and 140 yards and at least a touchdown.

Chiefs 37 Chargers 31

 

 

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Bills vs Jets, a Battle for the Future http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/bills-vs-jets-battle-future/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/bills-vs-jets-battle-future/#comments Sun, 09 Dec 2018 05:28:49 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=173965 After a frustrating loss down in Miami, the Bills are headed back home in week 14 to take on another division rival in the New York Jets. This will be the first head-to-head matchup between rookie quarterbacks and top 10 picks Sam Darnold and Josh Allen – a matchup both teams hope to continue for many years to come.

Allen and Darnold

Josh Allen and Sam Darnold chat pregame, week 10

In the Bills and Jets first contest of 2018 back in week 10, the Bills smashed the Jets 41-10, but neither rookie was present. Darnold went down with a foot injury in week nine and hasn’t taken part in a game since. Allen suffered an elbow injury in a week six game against the Texans and didn’t return to action until week 12 against the Jaguars – a game the “trash” quarterback led his team to victory.

The Jets and Bills won’t be making any playoff appearances this year, but this is still a very important game for both teams. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady owns the division but he is only getting older – we think – and soon the division will be up for grabs – we hope. This Sunday Buffalo hopes to make a statement that they are just a few key pieces away from being heir to the throne.

The scoreboard isn’t always pretty for the Bills, but under Head Coach, Sean McDermott, the Bills continue to show fight. If it wasn’t evident with the release of wide receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, Buffalo is looking towards the future and is going to run with guys that are passionate about playing football. Undrafted free agent Robert Foster has collected six receptions for 226 yards and a touchdown in the past three weeks – Benjamin had amassed just 354 yards total in his 12 weeks before being released. Look for Foster and second year wide receiver, Zay Jones, to continue to be a part of the young heartbeat of Buffalo’s offense.

Robert Foster

Robert Foster celebrates during a 75-yard touchdown

The Jets defense comes in to Sunday’s matchup ranked 26th in stopping the run. To make matters worse, they just lost inside linebacker Darron Lee for the season. Lee was slapped with a four game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Buffalo will most certainly look to take advantage of Lee’s absence using the legs of LeSean McCoy and rookie QB Josh Allen. In the past two weeks, Allen has rushed for 234 yards and a touchdown. Lee’s suspension should also making passing a bit easier on the young gunslinger. The suspended linebacker had racked up three interceptions to go along with his 74 tackles and is looked at as one of the better cover linebackers in the NFL. While Lee may be out, the Jets still have second year safety, Jamal Adams, and he is looking for payback. “They came in and they whooped us,” Adams said. “They don’t like us. We don’t like them. It’s going to be a tough battle. “It’s a divisional opponent. We just go at it each time we see each other. It was personal. They came in and put up about like 40 points on us. As a defense we got to come out there and do the right thing so that doesn’t happen again.” Adams has graded out as one of the top overall safeties in the league this season and isn’t afraid to hit someone – just ask Julian Edelman.

In his first game back from injury, Sam Darnold and the Jets offense won’t have it easy. The Bills may be 4-8 but it isn’t because of their defense. Buffalo heads in to Sunday having the number one ranked pass defense and are second in total yards given up per game (294.2). The Jets will also look to get things rolling on the ground with running back, Isaiah Crowell. Crowell is averaging a respectable 4.8 yards a carry this season but in his first matchup against Buffalo this year he was stifled for just 19 yards on seven carries. He too will be looking for a little bit of that payback.

The Bills are favored by four (-4) and kickoff is scheduled 1pm (ET) and the temperature at kickoff will be a chilly 30 degrees.

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The Seahawks are coming http://proplayerinsiders.com/news-features-carousel/seahawks-coming/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/news-features-carousel/seahawks-coming/#comments Thu, 06 Dec 2018 03:23:56 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=173954 Seattle, WA- The Seattle Seahawks are now in the playoff race sitting at the fifth position in the NFC. The Seahawks started slow in the first half of the season and now they are on the verge of getting back into the postseason.

This team is very different from the last time the Seahawks went to the playoffs in 2016. This team has an offensive line that has been blocking pretty well compared to recent years. They have given Russell Wilson time in the pocket to find receivers down the field. Wilson in the second half of the season has improved with completing over  66.6%  of his passes and does not run as much as he did in the first portion of the season.

The Seahawks has finally broken their running back curse and now Chris Carson, Mike Davis, and Rashaad Penny has risen to the occasion for this team. With Carson having the majority of the snaps, it takes the pressure off of Wilson. With the running game being so productive, it gives Wilson a chance to make life a disaster for the defensive coordinator for opposing teams by utilizing play-action passes, curls, screens, and a lot of misdirection play calling.

The rising of wide receiver David Moore has helped out Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett with spreading the offense. Moore has the ability to be a second option receiver because his routes are very crisp when he comes out of breaks or the defense is putting a man over the top to help out on Lockett or Baldwin. Moore is very dependable and has helped out Wilson a lot this season. With a healthy running attack and game-changing playmakers, the Seahawks are quickly becoming the NFC’s favorites to go deep in the postseason.

The Seahawks’ defense is tied for 9th in the league with points allowed, which is 21.6. Bobby Wagner has been the heart and soul for this young and talented team. Before this season started Wagner said that he is taking the role of leadership and helping out his teammates. He has helped them and has become the voice of the Seahawks.

With four more games to go, it looks like the Seahawks could be the team to beat in the playoffs.

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Bills lose, for now http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/bills-lose-now/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/bills-lose-now/#comments Tue, 04 Dec 2018 13:48:45 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=173946 It was a 21-17 loss for the Buffalo Bills against the Miami Dolphins, but a win for their future. In a game that had a slow start, quarterback Josh Allen’s progress was unquestionable.

Allen showed his playmaking abilities all over the field. His touchdown passes to Zay Jones displayed his incredible arm strength, but his ability to rush all over the field is what excited many about the young quarterback’s progress.

On the ground, Allen was unstoppable. He surpassed 100 yards, already setting milestones as a Buffalo Bills quarterback.

In the air however, there was evident signs that Allen remains unpolished. His deep ball to Robert Foster and end zone pass to Jones were a few that surely brought Bills fans to the edge of their seat.

Speaking of Jones, he was the Bills most reliable receiver with 4 receptions for 67 yards. It will be interesting to see his share targets increase as a favorite of Allen.

Ultimately, the game was a loss for the Bills. However, this one was especially hard to fathom after a near miss in the endzone to Charles Clay with just seconds to go.

In the weeks ahead, the Bills will hit their bases among the division. The Jets, Patriots, and Dolphins are all on the Bills radar as the season comes to a close.

With that being said, this last string of games is a big opportunity for Allen and the Bills to show the tables finally start to turn in an AFC East that has largely followed the same script for the last two decades.

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My Cause, My Cleats: The Art of Football http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/cause-cleats-art-football/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/cause-cleats-art-football/#comments Sat, 01 Dec 2018 22:34:33 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=173935 Some kids grow up wanting nothing more than to make it to the NFL. Other kids grow up wanting to be doctors, nurses, musicians, or artists. Regardless of where we end up, we all want to be able to express ourselves. If you are watching the NFL games this week, things might seem a little more vibrant. No, it’s not because of the new 4K television you may have scored shopping on black Friday, but rather because it’s My Cause, My Cleats week. My Cause, My Cleats rolled out in 2016 and gives players an opportunity to raise awareness about the causes that are important to them. From anti-bullying to cancer awareness, over 800 pairs of cleats will have an important message. The NFL typically has a strict dress code when it comes to the uniforms players don on Sundays. On game day, “Shoes must be of standard football design, including ‘sneaker’ type shoes such as basketball shoes, cross-training shoes, etc. Each team must designate a dominant base color for its shoes, either black or white (with shoelace color conforming to the dominant base color of the tongue area of the shoe). Each team must also designate one of its constitutional uniform colors as a dominant team color for its shoes. Each team must also designate one of its constitutional uniform colors as a secondary team color for its shoes. Each team may also designate a third uniform color as a tertiary team color that may be used for accents on its shoes” (NFL Rule Book). These rules will not apply during weeks 13-15.

It’s not just the players that are expressing themselves this week, but some of the most talented artists you’ve likely never heard of. The designs you will see on the cleats over the next few weeks didn’t come from a template in a Nike factory, they came from the hearts and skillset of our neighbors and our friends. Just like the players on the field, these causes have touched home with many of the artists – artists like Brittish Pena in Phoenix, Arizona. Like many of us, growing up Brittish Pena was one of the millions of kids who wanted to play in the NFL. Well, also like many of us, he wasn’t born with the gifts an NFL athlete needs to have to make it. He was however, born with a different set of skills – an artistic ability. When the My Cause, My Cleats campaign rolled out in 2016, Brittish knew he wanted to – correction, knew he had to – be a part.  The following year he was lucky enough put his artwork on cleats for players such as Arizona Cardinals quarterback, Carson Palmer, and $LB, Deone Bucannon. This year his passion has allowed him to become even more involved as one of the primary artists representing Cardinals players.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Shoe/Cleat customizer, Brittish Pena (@brittishkustoms)

Another reason the My Cause, My Cleats campaign is truly special is found in its ability to make people feel connected to the game, and to the cause. In 2004, Brittish’s son Sebastian was born prematurely. Sebastian came in to this world weighing only two pounds, six ounces. He literally fit in the palm of your hand. Four years later, Brittish’s younger sister, Paris, was diagnosed with Leukemia at just 11 years old. It was a bumpy ride for the Pena family to say the least, but with help from some of the best doctors in the world and places like the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, their spirit never wavered. Sebastian and Paris were given the opportunity to grow in to the beautiful people they are today.

The Cardinals will wear their customized cleats in their week 14 home game against the Detroit Lions. In the coming weeks, artists like Brittish won’t just have the opportunity to see Cardinals players wear his artwork, he’ll get to see players use their platform to bring awareness to causes that have directly affected their families. Rookie wide receiver Christian Kirk’s cleats will be representing the Children’s Cancer Network and punter Andy Lee will be bringing awareness to Madelyn’s Fund. Madelyn’s Fund has a mission to support infant and pediatric patients in the NICU and their families, as well as those who experience the trauma of infant loss.

Punter, Andy Lee's cleats (artwork by @brittishkustoms)

Punter, Andy Lee’s cleats (artwork by @brittishkustoms)

Christian Kirk

WR Christian Kirk’s cleats (artwork by @brittishkustoms)

Other Cardinals player’s and their causes:

Markus Golden – Sickle Cell Disease Association of America

David Johnson – The Johnson Family’s Mission 31 – to provide opportunities, support and resources to seriously ill children and their families by offering daily support and life changing experiences

Larry Fitzgerald – First Down Fund

Chandler Jones – American Diabetes Association

DE Markus Golden's cleats (artwork by @brittishkustoms)

DE Markus Golden’s cleats (artwork by @brittishkustoms)

Chandler Jones

DE Chandler Jone’s cleats (artwork by @brittishkustoms)

At the end of the My Cause, My Cleats campaign, players will auction off their cleats in an effort to raise money for their cause. The auctions will take place at NFL Auction and every dollar raised will be donated to the player’s charities. These auctions give fans the opportunity to take home game apparel worn by their favorite players while also giving back. If they told you football was just a game, they lied to you. It’s so much more than that.

#mycausemycleats

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Thanksgiving Day Football Preview http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/thanksgiving-day-football-preview/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/thanksgiving-day-football-preview/#comments Thu, 22 Nov 2018 19:56:51 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=173918 This is one of the NFL’s showcase days of the season. Everyone knows that Detroit and Dallas will play at home but now with the addition of an NFC South Slugfest makes this day even better. So lets take a look at Thanksgiving Day’s trio of games. Normally I would give a few pieces to watch on my normal Thursday preview, but with three games on the schedule. I’m going to give you my thoughts on each of the games on the schedule.

Early Game: Chicago Bears (7-3) vs Detroit Lions (4-6)

In the opening game tradition of Thanksgiving, the Detroit Lions will host another Thanksgiving day game against the Chicago Bears. This game means everything for the Lions. A loss by Detroit means with 7 losses, any chance of attempting to win the NFC North will be out of the window and the chance at the wildcard diminishes even more. Detroit will be without Kerryon Johnson and Marvin Jones Jr. on offense, so Matthew Stafford will have to rely on Kenny Golliday again this week. Golladay was huge in the Lions victory over Carolina on Sunday, as he caught 8 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. Now he will draw Chicago’s best cornerback in Kyle Fuller, so if Detroit wants to win he will have to make a play or two to help out his quarterback.

Chicago won a huge divisional game on Sunday night as they defeated the Vikings at home. But in that game quarterback Mitchell Tribisky hurt his shoulder is out for the Bears on Thursday. In their last meeting two weeks ago, Mitchell threw for 355 yards and 3 touchdowns as they beat the Lions at home. In that same game, Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller both caught over 100 yards receiving a piece. Chicago expects to start Chase Daniel against a Lions defense that 13th in the league in quarterback sacks with 28. In order for Chicago to win this one the road, Jordan Howard has to get the ball and be effective with it.

Prediction:

Even though Chicago’s Khail Mack will get in Stafford’s face all game long, the Lions find away to beat another playoff team at home. Stafford finds Golliday and TJ Jones for touchdowns and LeGarrett Blount will find the end zone.

Detroit 27 Chicago 14

Late Afternoon Game: Washington Redskins (6-4) vs Dallas Cowboys (5-5)

Washington heads to Dallas today coming off a heartbreaking loss at home to Houston on Sunday. They are bringing Colt McCoy as the starter today because of an season ending injury to Alex Smith. He’s going to rely on Adrian Peterson to carry the load if Washington has a shot to win the game. Even though McCoy threw a touchdown pass and had a quarterback rating of 90.3 in hit time against the Texans, he was sacked twice and had two crucial incompletions to get kicker Dustin Hopkins in for a closer field goal. Hopkins missed from 63 yards to win the game.

Dallas has found some life after the trade for wide receiver Amari Cooper. They have won their last 2 games and are at .500 with a chance to tie for the division lead today. Dak Prescott has played mistake free football and Dallas has been giving the ball to Ezekiel Elliott. He has 381 all purpose yards in the last 2 weeks. Ironically, Dallas has won both of those games. On top of that, it might be time Cowboys to have one of those defense outputs that makes fans remember how good that unit is.

Prediction:

Washington can almost clinch the division with a win on Thursday. Putting both Dallas and Philadelphia 2 games back with 5 games to go, put both teams in a tough spot with time running out in the season. I would have felt better about taking the Redskins if Smith was in the lineup. But since he’s not, expect Dallas to give Washington Elliott on a regular basis. Expect him to have over 160 total yards and multiple touchdowns.

Dallas 24 Washington 10

Thanksgiving Night: Atlanta Falcons (4-6) vs New Orleans Saints (9-1)

Atlanta has had awful luck in the fourth quarter this season. The Falcons have lost 3 games in the final quarter as the opposing team has scored in their final possession. Last week’s game against Dallas was another example of this season of disappointment in Atlanta. Even though Julio Jones has found the end zone the last 3 weeks and Matt Ryan has been outstanding all season, without running the ball effectively has made things even tougher for the Falcons. Atlanta is 2-0 when they run for over 100 yards as a team.

After a week one head scratching loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Saints have been the best team in the entire NFL. Their scoring 37.8 points per game and have hit 40 or more points 5 times this season. Yes, the Saints might not have the number 1 defense in the league and it’s been a talking point about when it comes to things that could stop them from making the Super Bowl. But just think about this, the last two games they have only allowed 26 1st downs combined. In the previous 8 games, they 6 games where they have given up 20 or more 1st downs for the entire game.

Prediction:

These two teams played a great game in September as the Saints won in overtime. A lot has changed since then, the Saints offense has scored on almost everyone with ease and the Falcons haven’t been able to make big stops on defense late in games. Well maybe not much as changed. Neither will thanksgiving night, even though Atlanta will potentially play their best game of the season. Too much of Drew Brees and company on offence will give the Saints their 10th win of the season.

New Orleans 45 Atlanta 37

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Chiefs vs Rams, a Potential Super Bowl Preview? http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/chiefs-vs-rams-potential-super-bowl-preview/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/chiefs-vs-rams-potential-super-bowl-preview/#comments Mon, 19 Nov 2018 23:38:29 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=173907 Buckle up. This Monday brings us one of the best matchups the NFL has had to offer in quite some time. The 9-1 Kansas City Chiefs will be facing off against the 9-1 Los Angeles Rams. Both teams are among many predictions to be in the Super Bowl. This game was originally scheduled to take place in Mexico City but due to poor field conditions the NFL brought the game back to L.A. In an effort to show support to their community, the Rams have given away thousands of tickets to first responders and victims of the horrible fires ravaging through southern California.

Monday Night’s game will feature two players who are in the thick of the MVP discussion in Patrick Mahomes and Todd Gurley II. Mahomes, the second year superstar quarterback for the Chiefs, is currently third in passing yards and has already scorched teams for an NFL-leading 31 passing touchdowns. The 23-year-old is on pace for 50 touchdowns passes, which would give him a share of second place for most touchdown passes in a single season. With six games to go, Mahomes has already broken the Chiefs single season touchdown pass record and is on pace to shatter the single season passing yards record by nearly 500 yards.

On the other sidelines we have 24-year-year old superstar running back, Todd Gurley II. The Rams have put together a great team, but Gurley is the heart and soul of an offense that currently averages 33.5 points a game. He leads the NFL in rushing yards (988) and total touchdowns scored (16) – even after respectfully declining to add another score to his stats late in a game against the Packers. TGII is on pace for 2,224 yards from scrimmage and will be up against a defense that has been giving up over 120 rush yards a game to opposing teams. Don’t be surprised if Gurley runs past that average by himself.

Some important matchups to follow:

Chiefs Chargers Football

Tyreek Hill

Marcus Peters vs. Tyreek Hill. This year, Rams cornerback Marcus Peters has been off. This week he will be facing the team that drafted him and traded him. He was a first round pick in 2015 by thie Chiefs and won Defensive Rookie of the Year. In his short career he’s already made the Pro Bowl twice and has even led the NFL in interceptions in a season. Chalk it up to having to get comfortable on a brand new team, a move to the NFC, or just the pressure of having to live up to the hype, but Peters is being picked on. He’s ranked near the bottom in passer rating when being targeted which has resulted in him being targeted more than any other corner in the NFL in the past few weeks. With weapons like Tyreek Hill at his disposal, Mahomes will likely continue that trend. Hill is tied for second in the NFL with nine receiving touchdowns and can turn any reception to points with his playmaking ability.

Sean McVay shows love to Brandin Cooks

Sean McVay shows love to Brandin Cooks

Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks vs. Chiefs secondary – Rams receivers Cooks and Woods are currently ranked 10th and 11th in receiving yards respectively. Losing receiver Cooper Kupp for the season is definitely costly for the Rams but they are still in a lot better of a situation at wide out than most teams. The Chiefs come in to Monday night giving up 289 passing yards a game, second worst in the league. It will be interesting to see if Rams Head Coach Sean McVay tries to slow it down with a heavy dosage of Gurley, or if he attacks Kansas City where they are weakest.

Aaron Donald knocks down Russell Wilson

Aaron Donald vs Patrick Mahomes – Mahomes is making some of the best passes and decisions a quarterback can make, but he has never had to deal with someone like Aaron Donald. Donald leads the NFL with 12.5 sacks and at times looks like a men among boys. Granted, the true matchup is actually Donald verses the Chiefs offensive line but with all due respect, we know who wins that battle. The battle for Mahomes may be a mental one. If number 99 makes a few big plays, will the young quarterback be able to remain focused or will he freeze up in the headlights?

Kickoff is scheduled for 5:15 (PT). The Rams head in to the contest favored by three (+3) and the over/under is 63.5.

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Pick Six: Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/tennessee-titans-indianapolis-colts/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/tennessee-titans-indianapolis-colts/#comments Sun, 18 Nov 2018 16:36:04 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=173903 The Tennessee Titans are officially on a roll. They beat the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night football two weeks ago and then turned around and beat the defending AFC champion New England Patriots. With those two wins, there is renewed optimism for them this season as a potential playoff team. Like in time’s past though, they have to handle optimism and the first step in doing that is taking on the Indianapolis Colts. The Titans have had a pattern of playing down to competition and although the Colts are not bad, they are not the greatest team out there either. If they do these six things, then they could give themselves a great chance to extend their winning steak to three games.

 

Offense

1) The closer has to be a closer

As we saw last week, Derrick Henry was used in his customary closer role behind Dion Lewis. And as he did last season, he succeeded in that role, closing out the Patriots as he pranced into the endzone and drove that nail deep in the coffin. Against the Colts, he again has to excel in that role. The more he can eat up the clock with his physical runs and give body blows to the Colts defense, the greater the chances the Titans can finish off the game Sunday and leave the Colts gasping for air.

2) Pocket presence for Marcus

The Titans have not had the best offensive line this season, but not all the sacks they have given up have been on them. Marcus Mariota had excellent pocket presence last game against the Patriots and he must continue to do so this week against the Colts. The more he is able to shuffle around in the pocket but keep his eyes on his targets down field, the more explosive the Titans’ offense will be and the more guys like Corey Davis can be involved.

3) Get the tight end involved

The Titans have not exactly done the greatest job of getting the tight ends involved this season since Delanie Walker went down with injury. Jonnu Smith started getting involved two weeks ago versus the Dallas Cowboys and last week he got even more involved, catching multiple passes. The Titans’ offense is just better with the tight ends involved and Jonnu along with the other tight ends must continue to get open and make plays to open up everything else.

 

Defense

1) Keep the pressure coming

The Titans have not brought much pressure from the outside this season unless it has come from Harold Landry III. They have, however, brought pressure up the middle of the field. Guys like Jurrell Casey and Austin Johnson have to continue to be involved and wreak havoc. If they don’t, then that means Luck can sit back and get comfortable and that would not be a good thing for Tennessee’s chances.

2) Find Eric Ebron

Eric Ebron was a Detroit castoff that no one really wanted. The Colts thought enough of him to bring him in and they are glad they did because he has nine touchdown catches for them this season and does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. This job will more than likely fall on Kenny Vaccaro to contain Ebron, but the Titans as a whole need to be aware of him at all times because he can hurt them and hurt them bad.

3) Hold down the running game

The Indianapolis Colts are not known to be a running team, ranking 20th in the NFL. The Titans are one of the best scoring defenses in the NFL, but the best way to get to them is to allow the running game to get going. For the Titans to control this game, they must stifle Indianapolis in the running game. The more the Colts are in obvious passing situations, the more the Titans are in control on defense.

The Titans have faced expectations before and this is yet another game where they must some expectations again. Will they win this one and meet the expectations or will they falter yet again to a team people think they should beat? We shall indeed see.

 

 

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Arizona Cardinals, Still Fighting in Week 11 http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/arizona-cardinals-still-fighting-week-11/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/arizona-cardinals-still-fighting-week-11/#comments Sat, 17 Nov 2018 01:14:10 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=173898 The Arizona Cardinals are favored by five and a half points (+5.5) headed in to week 11. Wait, what?! Oh, the 1-8 Oakland Raiders, losers of five straight, are coming to town. The Cardinals aren’t much better at 2-7 but they still show fight. In a game that many thought would be a blowout loss against the Chiefs, the Cardinals looked respectable. The same can’t be said for Oakland. Many feel the Raiders called it quits quite some time ago. Head Coach Jon Gruden and the Raiders front office elected to trade away superstar defensive end, Khalil Mack, and Amari Cooper – a young wide receiver who had shown promise not too long ago.

Part of the reason Arizona heads in to this Sunday being favored is due to Raiders receivers Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant being ruled out because of injury. Look for Cardinals to fill the box and force Raiders quarterback Derek Carr to beat them through the air. With Oakland’s top two receivers out, the Arizona defense will be able to focus more attention on one of the league’s better tight ends in Jared Cook. Cook is ranked fourth in receiving yards among all tight ends. However, the Cardinals will need to find a way to slow down Cook without playmaking safety, Budda Baker. Baker has been ruled out with injury.

On the defensive side of the ball, Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley questionable. This does not bode well for a defense that already ranks 27th in yards per game (399.1) and 30th in points per game (30.2). Cards Offensive Coordinator, Byron Leftwich, will look to continue the momentum they built with David Johnson in last week’s game against the Chiefs. Johnson rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown while adding seven receptions for 85 yards and another score through the air.

A major reason Oakland has struggled on defense is their inability to pressure the quarterback. The Raiders have only eight total sacks on the year. To put that in to perspective, Cardinals defense end Chandler Jones has eight and a half sacks by himself – the Cardinals as a team have 29. However, if there was ever a week for the Raiders to add a handful of sacks to the stat book, it’s this week. The Cardinals have one of the worst offensive lines in recent memory. Right tackle Andre Smith has struggled mightily as of late and was flat out embarrassed last week against the Chiefs. Leftwich will need to provide help for him on the right side. The Cardinals left tackle D.J. Humphries and left guard Mike Iupati, are both questionable to play. In 2018, injuries have already ended the seasons of center A.Q. Shipley, guard Justin Pugh, and tackle John Wetzel. At this point the Cardinals are calling guys off the streets to block and are hoping and praying it doesn’t hurt their quarterback of the future, Josh Rosen.

Kickoff is scheduled for 2:05pm MT.

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Thursday Night Preview- Packers vs Seahawks http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/thursday-night-preview-packers-vs-seahawks/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/thursday-night-preview-packers-vs-seahawks/#comments Thu, 15 Nov 2018 23:38:55 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=173889 As the season gets closer to December, the NFL Thursday Night games have gotten better. Last week, Carolina and Pittsburgh battled in a matchup of 2 teams fighting to make the playoffs. Now this Thursday we have a battle of two teams that have not only been in the playoffs consistently for the last few seasons, but needing a win to continue that reputation. Green Bay enters the game led by Aaron Rodgers and an offense that has weapons everywhere. Seattle comes into this game at home, fresh off losing a heartbreaking game on the road in Los Angeles on Sunday. So let’s take a look at what to watch for in Seattle on Thursday night.

1. Green Bay needs to give Aaron Jones the ball and let him go to work

Do you know who leads the NFL in yards per attempt? It’s not Todd Gurley III, Kareem Hunt or James Conner. It’s the Packers newly found stud Jones. He’s averaging 6.8 yards per rush this season and 6.1 per attempt over his 2 season career. The one thing about Jones is that he doesn’t have a lot of big runs this season. If you look at his game this season, with the exception of the Miami game where he had a 67 yard rush, he hasn’t had a carry longer than 33 yards. His ability to get 6 and 7 yards a carry will make things easier for Rodgers especially against the Seahawks defense. Jones has 28 carries for 1st downs on his 73 attempts in his 7 games he has played.

The real issue has been the number of a carries that Jones has gotten. He hasn’t had a game where he’s had more than 15 in a game. The Packers need to make a conservative effort to put the ball in this playmakers hands. If Aaron can get the ball, he can do some real damage. The Seahawks gave up 149 yards to the Rams last week and have giving up 160.3 yards a game at home this season on the ground.

2. Seattle has to find a way to stop the Packers from scoring in the 4th quarter.

The Seahawks have made their living in the Pete Carroll era on its defense. It’s how they have maintained their ability to be one of the most consistent teams in the league. But this season it hasn’t been that way. Especially in the final quarter. Seattle is giving up 8.4 points per game in the 4th quarter. This is a huge contrast to last season when they were the league’s best (4 points per game). Now the defense has had its losses when it comes to personal, but if they are going to make a final push for the playoffs, this has to be fixed immediately.

Seattle can’t just build a lead and allow Rodgers, Jones, Devonte Adams and former Seahawk Jimmy Graham the ability to not only erase the lead. But allow them chances to win the game. This will be interesting because with all of those weapons, the Packers are averaging scoring only 4 points per game on the road in the final 15 minutes this season.

3. Watch Russell Wilson in the 2nd Quarter

Everyone knows how dangerous Russell Wilson is with his arm and his feet. But in the 2nd quarter this season he’s been almost perfect. During this one quarter, Russell completes 73% of his passes and averages over 10 yards an attempt. 31 of his 58 completions have been for 1st downs and he’s thrown 7 of his touchdown passes in that quarter. That just adds on to the fact that he hasn’t thrown one interception and only has 21 incompletions in their 9 games this season.

So to say that if the Packers can survive this quarter, things have been better for defense in the remaining quarters. Wilson has thrown all of his interceptions after halftime.

Prediction:

They have played 6 times during Wilson years. It’s tied at 3 victories a piece. They have played some classic games, but tonight has a chance to be one of them. Expect the Seahawks to try to control the clock to keep the ball out of the two Aaron’s hands. But the Seahawks will have the home field on their side and there is nothing more dangerous than Wilson with his back against the wall. Watch Wilson throw for 2 touchdowns and rush for one and they make sure that Rodgers won’t have a chance to win in the 4th quarter.

Seahawks 24 Packers 17

 

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LA Rams give away ‘MNF’ tickets to first responders, victims of wildfires and mass shooting http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/la-rams-give-away-mnf-tickets-first-responders-victims-wildfires-mass-shooting/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/la-rams-give-away-mnf-tickets-first-responders-victims-wildfires-mass-shooting/#comments Wed, 14 Nov 2018 03:22:58 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=173879 The NFL announced on Tuesday that the Kansas City Chiefs-Los Angeles Rams game scheduled for next Monday night has been moved from Mexico City to LA due to poor field conditions at Estadia Azteca.

Now with an additional home game, the Rams confirmed they are providing thousands of complimentary tickets for Monday night’s game to “first responders who are bravely protecting the greater Los Angeles community, as well as people who have been impacted by our community’s recent tragedies.”

Just last week, 12 people were killed in a mass shooting at a bar approximately four miles from the Rams’ facility in Thousand Oaks, CA. Additionally, the city has been battling wildfires that have burned over 100,000 acres of land resulting in destroyed homes and businesses, evacuations, and two fatalities. The fires also caused the Rams to cancel practice last week as some players and coaches were forced to evacuate their homes. As of now, the fire is only 35 percent contained.

The Rams’ gesture is good news for an area that has dealt with two major tragedies in a short period of time. Monday night’s much anticipated matchup will be a faceoff between the NFL’s most talked about quarterbacks this season: Jared Goff and Patrick Mahomes. Both the Rams and Chiefs are 9-1.

Follow us for more articles: @CaritaCParks, @playerinsiders.

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Larry Fitzgerald moves to Number 2 All-Time http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/larry-fitzgerald-moves-number-2-time/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/larry-fitzgerald-moves-number-2-time/#comments Sun, 11 Nov 2018 20:43:04 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=173865 With an 15-yard catch late in the fourth quarter Larry Fitzgerald surpassed Terrell Owens for second most receiving yards in NFL history.  Owens finished his illustrious career with 15,934 yards.

In his 15 year career, Larry Legend has caught touchdowns from 15 different quarterbacks, but if you’re a Cardinals fan, somehow it feels like that number should be higher.

Fitz may never catch Jerry Rice’s 22,895 yard record but if you’ve followed Larry throughout his career you would know that isn’t important to him. He’s the epitome of what a teammate should be and would trade in all the records if it meant winning.

Enjoy it fans, human beings like number 11 only come around once in a lifetime.

Congratulations to you, Larry Fitzgerald.

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Drew Brees Surpasses Favre on All-Time TD List http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/drew-brees-surpasses-favre-time-td-list/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/drew-brees-surpasses-favre-time-td-list/#comments Sun, 11 Nov 2018 19:47:15 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=173872 Late in the second quarter Drew Brees threw a touchdown pass to Michael Thomas, surpassing Brett Favre for second most passing touchdowns in NFL history.  Brees currently sits at 509 career touchdown passes, 30 away from Peyton Manning’s all-time leading 539. Drew will certainly have many more touchdowns this season so should he decide to play one more year he will likely take over the number one spot.

In his 18 year career, Brees has played for two teams. He spent his first five years in San Diego where many thought his career would end early do to shoulder injuries. All he’s done since then is have 13 amazing years in New Orleans while rewriting the record books. Earlier this year Brees surpassed Manning for most passing yards all-time.

Congratulations to you, Drew.

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Bills vs. Jets Preview http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/bills-vs-jets-preview/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/bills-vs-jets-preview/#comments Sun, 11 Nov 2018 18:26:14 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=173863 The Buffalo Bills will give another quarterback a chance, their newly signed Matt Barkley will have a chance to compete against the New York Jets.

Barkley in his career has eight touchdowns and 18 interceptions. If you’re looking for a Nathan Peterman upgrade, this probably isn’t one. While the Bills wait out the healing process for Josh Allen, this may be the best they have to offer.

On the other side of the football is quarterback Josh McCown, a player that’s taken on a leadership role with the Jets. He will be starting Sunday while Sam Darnold nurses an injury.

Here are a few things to watch for in Sunday’s upcoming matchup:

Tremaine Edmunds returns:

Edmunds has clearly been a fan favorite of Bills Mafia thus far. His return should help maintain the defense’s great play. This matchup in particular could be a game that the defense could actually win, as long as Barkley can avoid turning the ball over.

Jets offensive line:

The 39-year old McCown will need his protection. The Bills defense is among the best in the NFL at applying pressure to the quarterback. If the Jets expect any success this weekend, it will have to begin and end with their offensive line.

The kickers:

By no means is either team considered talented at the NFL level on offense. Bills Stephen Haushka and the Jets Josh Myers may be in for a duel if neither team can find the endzone.

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Pick Six: Tennessee Titans vs New England Patriots http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/tennessee-titans-new-england-patriots-2/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/tennessee-titans-new-england-patriots-2/#comments Sat, 10 Nov 2018 21:59:37 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=173851 The Tennessee Titans stopped the bleeding last Monday night when they went to Dallas and pulled out a win. The game started rough for them, but they eventually got things going on both sides of the ball. After that big win, the Titans return home and now face the depending AFC Champions, the New England Patriots. For some former Titans players and even the coach, this will be a surreal feeling going against the team they gave their blood, sweat and tears for at one point in time. It will be interesting to see not only how the Titans respond to the level of competition and for the former players, it will be interesting to see how they go at their former team. Here are six keys to them being successful in their pursuit of another win.

 

Offense

1) Keep that energy Marcus

Marcus Mariota started the game rough against Dallas, but as the game went on he got better. He made plays with his legs and feet like he is capable of doing. That type of performance was against a defense that was highly ranked in the NFL. The Titans need Mariota to be that same player again this weekend versus the Patriots. Not only do they need that same performance, but they need Marcus to be ultra-aggressive going at the Patriots defense and decisive when he decides to pull it down and run the football.

2) More Dion Lewis please

Before the season, everyone was excited imaging how Derrick Henry was going to do as the starting running back for the Titans. Well, it seems like his backup Dion Lewis has stole the show and quite honestly, he fits this offense better and the offense looks better with him out there, as evidenced by his play last week. This week, the more Lewis is in the game, the better the Titans’ offense will be. It’s about wins not who plays, but Lewis’  play gives them the best chance of winning.

3) Finish drives

The Tennessee Titans finally got in the endzone last week for the first time in what seems like forever. This week, they need to carry that momentum over. The Patriots are known as a defense that gives you things within the 20 yard lines but stiffens up in the red zone. For the Titans to have their best chance of winning this game, they have to finish those drives with touchdowns and not field goals. Tom Brady is on the other side and points will be needed.

 

Defense

1) Can the real Malcolm Butler show up?

Malcolm Butler was talked about as a good signing for the Titans defense. Well, the only thing that has happened well for him this season is biting on the double moves he has been given. Each game this season we have seen him get beat for a big play or touchdown and it has become a pattern. Against a team that knows him very well, that could happen again. Hopefully Butler has watched the film and will revert back to top form. If he doesn’t, Brady will definitely target him in the passing game over and over and over again.

2) Pressure up the middle

Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time and there is no denying it. There aren’t many ways to stop him, but one that can at least slow him down is pressure and more specifically, pressure up the middle. When Brady faces pressure outside, he usually steps up and makes the necessary throw. With pressure coming up the middle, Brady then has to escape outside the pocket and we all know he isn’t exactly great when throwing on the run or outside the pocket. Guys like Jurrell Casey and Austin Johnson could be huge in the outcome of this game.

3) Find James White

Plenty talk about the addition of Josh Gordon at wide receiver or Rob Gronkowski’s presence on the field, but the guy the Titans need to find is running back James White. The talented running back is also a dangerous weapon in the passing game. He can be just as dangerous as any weapon Tom Brady has and over the years, running backs like Shane Vereen and Kevin Faulk have been great safety valves for Brady and White has become that guy. The Titans linebackers and safeties have to be aware of where he is at all times and make sure to make life a little more difficult for White when he’s on the field.

The Titans are underdogs once again, but they seem to be comfortable in this role. And after how they played against the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, you could see them step up and play well with the level of play rising. Only time will tell, but it will be interesting to see if the momentum from Monday night carries over.

 

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Bruce Arians to call Cardinals vs Chiefs http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/bruce-arians-call-cardinals-vs-chiefs/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/bruce-arians-call-cardinals-vs-chiefs/#comments Fri, 09 Nov 2018 04:42:18 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=173842 Coming off of their bye week, Arizona is headed to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs. In the coming days you won’t hear what a good matchup it will be. On Sunday morning you won’t see or hear any of the experts picking the Cardinals – not even as their upset pick of the week. The Cardinals are 2-6 and both of those wins have come against the same Jimmy Garoppolo-less San Francisco 49ers. What you might hear is how the only thing the Cardinals have a chance at winning this week is the coin toss. Well, the Chiefs have won 12 straight coin tosses too!

The Chiefs are 8-1 and haven’t lost a game at home (4-0). Even when the Chiefs are bad, going in to Arrowhead and coming away with a win is a tough task. As if the Cardinals offense hasn’t had a hard enough time already, this week they will also have to deal with the loudest fan base in the NFL.  Arrowhead Stadium can be deafening to opposing teams. Back in 2014, Chiefs fans registered an incredible 142.2 decibels – an eardrum can rupture at 150.

There’s only a few ways to quiet the home field advantage and to do that the Cardinals will need to string together some first downs and score points. The only other way is to get blown out early. A few weeks ago the Cardinals got embarrassed at home on Thursday Night Football against the Denver Broncos. Denver jumped out to a 35-3 halftime lead and even the sea of Broncos fans got bored and began to simmer down.

To silence this crowd, look for new Offensive Coordinator, Byron Leftwich, to spread the offense and attack a Chiefs defense that has been susceptible to the pass. The Chiefs have given up more pass yards than any other team in the NFL (2,724). After the Bronco beat down, the Cardinals let Mike McCoy go play golf and Leftwich took over play-calling. Leftwich earned a win in his first game and rookie quarterback Josh Rosen threw for 252 yards on 40 attempts – both season highs. Rosen isn’t buying in to the idea that the Chiefs have a bad pass defense, though. “I think a lot of those numbers are a little bit deceiving because, I mean, they’re up by like 30 in half their games”, Rosen said.  “A lot of the times they [defense] are just playing back, letting the offense do what they want to do and trying to bend not break.”

Patrick Mahomes

Head Coach Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes (QB)

Rosen is right. Chiefs Head Coach, Andy Reid, and his emerging superstar-quarterback, Patrick Mahomes,won’t mind a shootout. When it’s all said and done, they have more weapons than you. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill, tight end Travis Kelce, and running back Kareem Hunt are all stars in their own right. Mahomes leads the NFL in passing yards (2,901) and touchdowns (29). Hill and Kelce are both in the top 10 in receiving yards – Kelce leads all tight ends – and Hunt has the third most rush yards in the league. Hunt already has 13 touchdowns on the season – the entire Cardinals offense only has 12. Pick your poison, Arizona.

Kansas City Chiefs vs New York Jets

Travis Kelce (left), Kareem Hunt (center), Tyreek Hill (right)

For the Cardinals to stand a chance, simply winning the turnover battle won’t be enough. They’ll need those turnovers to lead to points and will need big plays on defense and special teams. Look for the Cardinals defense to be extra aggressive this Sunday. With nothing to lose, why not?

Former Cardinals Head Coach, Bruce Arians, will be calling the game for CBS. It’s no secret that Arians wanted to draft Mahomes in the 2017 NFL Draft before the Chiefs ultimately jumped Arizona and snagged him with the 10th overall pick. It will be a matchup between the guy he almost had verses the guy he would have had if he decided to stay with Arizona for another year. Bruce may have not brought a ring to the desert, but after what Arizona has endured this season, the sound of his voice will certainly have fans reminiscing.

Kickoff is scheduled for 11am (MT) and the Chiefs are favored by 16.5 points. Sheesh.

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Thursday Night Preview: Panthers vs Steelers http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/thursday-night-preview-panthers-vs-steelers/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/thursday-night-preview-panthers-vs-steelers/#comments Thu, 08 Nov 2018 23:38:54 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=173836 On Thursday night, the NFL gets a chance to showcase two of the better teams in the league in primetime. The AFC North’s top team the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the NFC South’s Carolina Panthers in a matchup between two teams that would be in the playoffs if it started today. Lets take a look at a few things you should keep an eye on as both teams will try to continue their winning ways.

1. Cam Newton has to have a rushing touchdown

Carolina Quarterback Cam Newton might be having his best season of his career in 2018, but his team has lost 2 of their 3 games on the road this season. He has been just as good throwing the ball at home as he has been on the road. But the major difference is what Newton is doing on the ground. At home this year he has 4 touchdown rushes and Carolina is undefeated at home. On the road, he only 134 rushing yard and 0 touchdowns running the ball. It’s a weird concept, because most teams don’t want their starting quarterback to take contact. Especially one who is nursing a shoulder injury, but Newton is the biggest regular ball carrier on the roster.

Tonight’s matchup isn’t the best one for testing out this theory. Pittsburgh is still one of the more physical teams in the entire league and will attempt to hit Newton as much as possible. Don’t be surprised if Cam gets a chance at the goal line and attempt to keep the teams winning streak alive when he scores a touchdown.

2. Both teams aren’t the best against defending the pass

Pittsburgh has always been known for their hard-hitting style, but they aren’t very good against the pass. They have allowed four 300+ yard passing games and nothing less than 250 yards in the air in any game this season. Good news for Panthers fans is that Greg Olsen looks like he’s 100% healthy now. He’s scored in every game since coming back from a foot injury. Devin Funchess is the leader among the Wide Receivers, but the favorite target is Christian McCaffrey. Not only does he lead the team in targets and catches, he’s also has the highest catch percentage among any receiver on the team with 84.55%.

Carolina has to deal with the most dynamic duo of receivers they will face all season. No offense to their own division who has an amazing group of receivers, but none are better than Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. They have combined 104 catches, 1266 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. Brown has caught at least one touchdown in eight of the Steelers nine games this season. Ben Roethlisberger will test the corners of Carolina all night. He’s thrown to those two guys 169 out of his 339 attempted passes this season.

3. Can Carolina keep Newton on his feet?

Pittsburgh is fourth in the league in sacks at 26 and have had success pressuring the passer all season. TJ Watt leads them with 7 sacks and they have four players with at least three sacks and none of them are named Cameron Heyward. Heyward lead Pittsburgh with 12.5 sacks last season has gotten off to a slow start. Even with Heyward not having the numbers of last season, Pittsburgh as a team has been very good rushing the passer. Now they haven’t faced a quarterback all year with the size and strength of Newton.

Expect Pittsburgh to blitz Newton all night long and force him to throw under pressure. Newton is known for making mistakes when he has pressure.

Prediction:

With both teams ranked in the 20′s in pass defense, this has all of the makings of a shootout. Not to mention both running backs (McCaffrey and James Conner) can catch the ball out the backfield, gives both quarterbacks (Newton and Roethlisberger) every chance to throw for over 300 yards a piece. The difference is Carolina is focused on keeping up with New Orleans in the NFC South race. Their focus will allow them to force a few turnovers and give Newton and Olsen the ability to connect a for big play or two. Watch D.J. Moore in this game, this could be his coming out party on national TV.

Carolina 27 Pittsburgh 24

 

 

 

 

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Dez Bryant and the Saints are negotiating a Deal http://proplayerinsiders.com/news-features-featured-on-homepage/dez-bryant-saints-negotiating-deal/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/news-features-featured-on-homepage/dez-bryant-saints-negotiating-deal/#comments Wed, 07 Nov 2018 04:28:48 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=173724  Seattle WA- Free agent Dez Bryant and the New Orleans Saints are in talks with making a deal happen. A source that is close to Bryant stated that the Saints are very interested in him and want to make this deal happen as soon as possible. If the Saints could make this deal, this would make the Saints more dangerous than what they already are. They are 7-1 and are the division leaders in the NFC South.

dez-bryant

The Saints are a very balanced team. They have a two-back system with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, which has helped out Drew Brees a lot. Brees has mainly been mistake free and now the Saints are second in the league with scoring 34.9 points per game because the run game has been very productive. However, Veteran Ted Ginn Jr. was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury last month. Newly signed restricted free agent Cameron Meredith has not been very productive thus far. He has not been thrown at.

If Bryant and the Saints agree to a deal, this would give the Saints more depth at the wide receiver position. Bryant is still a physical receiver that can make plays down the field. You can put him in one on one match-ups, he can still make a big play or go get the jump balls. In his career, he had three consecutive seasons with at least 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns.

At the moment, the deal is looking promising, but things could change in a quick minute.

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Un-bear-able, Bills lose by 32 http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/un-bear-able-bills-lose-32/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/un-bear-able-bills-lose-32/#comments Mon, 05 Nov 2018 21:40:55 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=173825 If you had the Bears defense in fantasy football, then you were handsomely rewarded.

The Chicago Bears ate up the Buffalo Bills offensive woes that equated to a 41-9 Bears win. Once again, turnovers made the difference in the game, but in this loss, it was the offense as a whole that should take the blame, not just Nathan Peterman.

On some good throws by Peterman, the ball just failed to be caught by players like Kelvin Benjamin and Terrelle Pryor.

With 2:24 left in the third quarter, from close to 30 yards out of the endzone, Peterman made a near perfect throw to Benjamin, who despite being contested, put two hands on the ball however couldn’t bring it down for a score.

A poor incompletion by Pryor and costly fumble by tight end Jason Croom, proved to be detrimental to the outcome of the game.

The one thing you could give Peterman a knock for is his instinct to run the ball himself at the end of the first half rather than trying for a hail mary down field. Could it have possibly been a play in which Peterman was too scared put another interception on his record? All he could’ve done in the moment was throw it up for a touchdown, however his choice was to run the ball and take it to the sideline, effectively giving the team no chance for a touchdown.

It will be fun for the fans (and apparently EJ Manuel) to point fingers at the Bills quarterback, but there is an obvious belief in Peterman’s skills by the front office and coaching, and it showed in his most recent performance at home.

For one, he finished a game.

 

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Bills Halftime: Bills trail 28-0 to the Bears http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/bills-halftime-bills-trail-28-0-bears/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/bills-halftime-bills-trail-28-0-bears/#comments Sun, 04 Nov 2018 19:39:20 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=173820 For the Buffalo Bills offense, there was little risk and little reward in the first quarter.

In the first quarter, without having to deal with Bears linebacker Khalil Mack, little progress was made for the Bills offense. There were a few carries by LeSean McCoy, however, little yardage was gained.

The Bills starting quarterback, Nathan Peterman, had no interceptions and only 15 yards. While Mitchell Trubisky, a player that’s really come into his own, drove the ball down and spread it out among Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton and Anthony Miller.

In the second quarter, a pass by Peterman bobbled by tight end Jason Croom resulted in a fumble recovered by the Bears Eddie Jackson and taken in for a touchdown, increased the Bears lead to 14-0.

On the Bills next drive, a pass intended for Bills receiver Terrelle Pryor was never corralled, resulting in an interception on Peterman’s record.

And on the Bills next drive, with just under 4:00 minutes to play in the first half, the Bills and Peterman threw another interception resulting in a pick six, increasing the score from 14-0 to 21-0. For Trubisky, he continues to sit back and watch the score increase as the Bears defense takes care of the Bills’ inefficiencies.

A big punt return by Tarik Cohen before the half came to a close put the Bears in good field position to kick a field goal. However, it didn’t take long for running back Jordan Howard to plunge through the Bills defense and increase the lead to 28 points.

At the end of the half, Peterman is 12/19 for only 75 yards and two interceptions, while Trubisky is 8/13 for 104 yards.

We’ll see if Buffalo maintains their belief in Peterman in the second half, as the team has a big hill to climb.

 

 

 

 

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