Football’s back (sort of)! Four painful weeks of projections ahead.

With the Hall of Fame game way behind us and four weeks of painful pre-season semi action on the field ahead of us, it  the best time to point my fingers at four teams that have the most to lose in the coming season and which are more likely to blow it a big time during the course of the coming Autumn and Winter.

Let’s get picking , in no particular order, two AFC and NFC teams that will disappoint their fans the most in 2016.

  • Seattle Seahawks (NFC)- 

With Pete Carroll extended through 2019, there’s no less expectations than to try to repeat Super Bowl XLVIII but the Hawks are going to fail yet again.

They were granted two ‘extra lives’ in last two seasons, first by the Packers, throwing the NFC Championship away despite Russell Wilson doing whatever he can to lose that game. Last year the Vikings kept the game close thanks to their kicker and failed to capitalise on poor Hawks’ game thank to the same kicker.

Expectations will be high to return to the Super Bowl but the window here has closed a while ago. Why the fans won’t understand that?

New England Patriots (AFC)-

Tom Brady is suspended for four games, he then returns, rallies the Pats with short slants to Gronk into the playoffs and slowly fades away into retirement as his body can’t keep this nonsense up.

The Pats are always the team to beat in AFC and always high on list of favourites but this time around there’ll be one qb sneak too many for Tom to shake it off. While the Pats have some great pieces (Gronk, Hightower, Collins) it is time to just become mediocre.

* Kansas City Chiefs (AFC)- 

No. Nope. Manning-less Broncos have nowt to prove or keep the hype up, despite deadly defence. The Chiefs though… They have the hype of going from 1-5 to 11-5 and shutting out Texans in Wild Card to live up to, just to lose by a possession to the Pats.

With Charles, hopefully in 100% health mode and last serious hurrah to give his fans and some deadly pieces of the defensive team (yes, looking at you, Mr. Houston) this team is poised to make a lot of noise and to finish off quietly somewhere out there where no one looks past half January.

  • Carolina Panthers (NFC)- 

Well. It has already begun. Cam Newton imploded during the Super Bowl 50 and then sunk to the bottom shortly after. The Panthers gave up the rights of Josh Norman without even trying to get a compesation. The signs are here really.

Given the fact that Panthers had a fairly easy schedule ride last season the 15-1 record doesn’t really resemble the true value of the team which is bound to just carry on the implosion started by Newton in February. Poor fans, eh?!

And like that I have put another football- less Sunday to bed. Personally I’m going for Colts vs Packers in Super Bowl as both, Rodgers and Luck will be looking to put their 2015 misery deep in the ground.

What do you guys think? Let me know and until next week. Keep well.

ALL STATISTICAL DATA PER http://www.pro-football-reference.com 

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A fortnight until NFL goes nuts!

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Just think people. It is only a fortnight and the football madness is back. Yes! A fortnight! I know, the problem is that the fortnight is made of Sundays. There’s also fortnight of Mondays, Tuesdays… Yes, yes, yes! I know. It is still bloody long time until the football comes back to our tellies but it is under 100 days now!
At least it is summer. Days go quick as we spend them outside being active, getting healthy and enjoying those lovely Sun rays we are getting thanks to the arrival of summer. Oh yeah… Here in southern UK we’ve been getting plenty of wind, clouds and rain… So that’s that. Apparently it is meant to be a dull and gloomy summer. Well. We got tellies and we can watch football at least… erm… Yes. I can see an issue or two here.
Ok. Since we still have 14 Sundays to kill then it is best to look at the number 14 in our weekly column of ‘Did you know that’ and this week we will dive in for a touchdown or two or perhaps more. So let’s get started with:
Did you know that:

  • Doug Baldwin of the Seahawks finished the 2015 season with 14 touchdowns to his name? All of them were receiving ones but considering that in previous 4 seasons he recorded 15 in total, last season must have felt special for Baldwin who just exploded once he built some chemistry with Russell Wilson. It was also Baldwin’s first season with over 1000 receiving yards (1069) and a season that his longest reception surpassed his previous best of 55 by 25 yards. It was a great year to remember and Seattle fans can not wait to see what 2016 brings to Baldwin and their team.

  • Devonta Freeman of the Falcons combined for 14 touchdowns in 2015 season? 11 of them came from ground but he was also lucky to contribute in air assault with three touchdown receptions. Freeman improved massively from his rookie season, gathering 1056 yards on the ground with another 578 from air making him a great double threat. His production spiked considering his rookie campaign saw one touchdown from ground and one from air. Not to mention all these yards. And he didn’t even play in all games as he missed one and started in 13 out of 15, making him the only one on today’s list without full 16 games played and started.

  • Brandon Marshall found his funk after joining the Jets and set his career best in receiving touchdowns, recording 14 of them in 2015 season? Marshall had a smashing season at the age of 31 making it to ‘10000 receiving yards club’, becoming the first player to amass 1000 receiving yards in a season in four different teams he played for. At the age of 31 he was only 6 yards shy of besting his career high of 1508 receiving yards he clocked in four seasons ago and he is only 21 touchdowns away from reaching the number 100.

  • Allen Robinson, exploded after his rookie year and recorded 14 touchdowns, all by air, in 2015 season? Robinson finished 2015 with 1400 receiving yards and his longest career reception of 90 yards, he is still yet to fumble or record a rushing attempt since joining the Jaguars. Fans in Jacksonville must be getting excited by all the explosive youth the Jaguars put together for their 2016 campaign. Robinson will play a crucial role in there for sure.

And considering that a touchdown is worth 6 points, our touchdown leaders in 2015 look quite pale in comparison to those who contributed more points to their teams than our guys, kickers. Yes! 26 kickers earned more points for their respective teams than our four players with Stephen Gostkowski leading the table with 151 points (14 TD equals 84 points).
For comparison, Seahawks kicker, Hauschka ranked 9th with 127 points; Jaguars kicker- Myers earned 110 points for the team, ranking him 15th; Falcons kicker, Bryant, actually contributed less than Freeman and chipped in 68 points that ranked him 41st and the Jets didn’t even have a full time kicker but one of their kickers, Randy Bullock ranked 32nd with 79 points earned but he did so playing for two teams.
So here. Kickers are the weapon of mass destruction and they should deserve more respect next time they kick in ‘a lousy 3 point shot’. Until next time kind readers, I hope you enjoyed the read. Keep well! Next week all the bad luck awaits us with 13 Sundays left over.

ALL STATISTICAL DATA PER http://www.pro-football-reference.com 

Still counting down. 17 Sundays until NFL is back!

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So there! A big whoooohooo in the sporting medias occurred because Andrew Luck was ranked 92 in NFL Network list of top 100 players in 2016. Well considering what year Luck has had, being on the list itself is a great indicator how valued he is amongst other NFL stars. The initial “shock” of some journos typing some scandalously loud titles of Luck’s fall from grace eventually was slowly killed by some more knowledgeable folks that think that Luck will be back to his own, high standard way of playing. Yes, I wish he reduced the turnovers but it must be addressed at a team level more than on an individual one. As in last season, which was a catastrophe for Andrew, half of his interceptions weren’t really on him and he finished with only 3 fumbles which if he played for whole season would come close to his best year in this stat that he had as a rookie when he was credited with 6 fumbles.
Ah I’m rumbling here and I found a nice topic to correlate with number 17. It’s the screen shaking (at least in Madden) fumbles and teams that do their best to avoid them. Let’s begin; “Did you know that?”

  • The most common amount of fumbles committed by a team in 2015 was 17? Yes, five teams ended up last season with 17 fumbles that slipped through their players’ hands. Then it was a three way tie between three groups of teams that committed 23, 25 and 26 fumbles.
    The best hands in 2015 belonged to Carolina Panthers players that dropped the ball 12 times and the worst were Buffalo Bills with 28 fumbles on their account. The league’s average stood at 20.7. And now let’s meet the five teams that finished in joined 6th place for least fumbles lost:

  • Cincinnati Bengals recorded 17 fumbles in 2015 but to their defence they also rushed in 18 touchdowns on the ground and averaged 112.8 rushing yards per game during 467 attempts.
    The main contributor to fumble statistic for the Bengals was Andy Dalton who lost the ball 5 times, next in line was Jeremy Hill with 3 drops on 223 rush attempts and 15 received passes.

  • New Orleans Saints committed 17 fumbles in 2015, one more than rushing touchdowns they managed to shove down their opponents throats. Still not bad really although the Saints weren’t great at rushing in general producing only 93.2 rush yards a game on 397 carries.
    Another quarterback topped a team fumble list with Drew Brees being credited with 5 fumbles through 15 games he played. Next in line with 3 fumbles for the Saints was Marcus Murphy whose main job was punt and kick returns. To his defence one might add 1 punt return touchdown to ease off the pain of fumbling.

  • New York Jets, tried their best in taking care of the ball and Jets committed 17 fumbles through 2015 season while scoring 11 ground touchdowns out of 448 rush attempts they made that produced 112.8 rush yards per game. Decent effort considering that three different position players made the Jets top 3 with Ryan Fitzpatrick loosing the ball 5 times (what is with the quarterbacks and five fumbles thing, huh?), Chris Ivory adding 4 more fumbles and Brandon Marshall not wanting to be left out, contributing further 3 drops. The trio were responsible for 70.5% of the team total in fumbles. Nice going guys! Not.

  • Seattle Seahawks were credited with 17 fumbles in 2015. Being the most rushing team out of the five mentioned today, should kind of, put them on top of the five as at the end of the day the Seahawks rushed exactly 500 times for a whopping average of 141.8 rush yards per game. Unfortunately what disappointed me the most was only having 10 rushing touchdowns to their name.
    There was only one clear “winner” amongst the Hawks for the crown of the Fumble King and it was Russell Wilson ending up the season with 7 fumbles (finally something other than 5!). No one else got credited with more than one so it was a great team effort spoilt a bit by Wilson’s famous running around pointlessly and counting on getting lucky which he normally does get in the end.

  • Detroit Lions dropped 17 fumbles in their 2015 season and given the fact that they only attempted 354 carries (least of the five teams) for average of lousy 83.4 rush yards per game (least of the five teams) that resulted in 7 ground touchdowns (least of the five teams) it is not a great number to be proud of really.
    Lions are the only team from the five mentioned today where a quarterback didn’t lead in that team statistic with fumbles as the main offender in this department has been Ameer Abdullah who lost the ball 5 times. It was tough few lessons for the rookie who, let’s hope, learns from his own mistakes. Next in line it was back to a quarterback, Matthew Stafford who coughed up only 4 balls, the least fumbles from the starting quarterbacks of today’s five star teams.

I’d love to do some feature on sacks as this category always excites me the most but so far the numbers have not been the nicest to me. Well, we still have 16 equally long Sundays to get through until we can finally rest 2015 season for good so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll manage to compile some sacking feature to make footballless Sundays that little bit more bearable.
Until the next time folks. Keep yourselves well and healthy!

ALL STATISTICAL DATA PER http://www.pro-football-reference.com