The Ticker


Friday, September 4, 2015

AFC East: Biggest Questions

        Now that we've finished covering the NFC, we're moving on to the AFC. We start off with the AFC East, a division that has potential to be one of the toughest. Here we go!

Buffalo Bills: Could this be the year? The Buffalo Bills currently have the longest playoff drought in the NFL, having missed the playoffs since 1999. However, this season shows a lot of promise. A new head coach (Rex Ryan), a new running back (LeSean McCoy), and a defense (4th in the NFL in total defense) led by Mario Williams (14.5 sacks last season) all give the Bills hope in making the postseason. It isn't just Mario Williams that is so good on the defense; the Bills' secondary held opponents to the third-lowest yards-per-game in the NFL at 205.8 yards a game.
Miami Dolphins: Can Ryan Tannehill get some help? The Miami Dolphins have high hopes for their quarterback Ryan Tannehill. They've already given him a new contract worth $96 million and are hoping he's the next Dan Marino (Maybe he can do Marino one better and win a Super Bowl).The Dolphins already have a loaded defense (Especially one that could stop the run) with Ndamukong Suh on the defensive line. The Dolphins were 17th in the NFL in receiving yards, so they went out and got Greg Jennings and Kenny Stills to boost their receiving corps.
New England Patriots: With Brady's suspension lifted, now what? Now that Tom Brady's a free man, expect there to be hell to pay in the NFL. The defending Super Bowl champs now have their top quarterback returning and avert having to go to Jimmy Garoppolo; Garoppolo has had a subpar preseason so far. However, their secondary has been weakened with Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis both gone.
New York Jets: How will the post-Rex Ryan era go? Darrelle Revis is coming back to the Jets and he's bolstering a defense that is already good; the Jets ranked 6th in total defense last season with 5,235 yards allowed. The Jets mainly got good defense from stopping the run; the secondary was 14th in total yards allowed in the NFL. The only problem will be the lack of offense that will keep the defense on the field for too long. With Geno Smith being hurt, that only makes things worse.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

NFC West: Biggest Questions

        We wrap up our coverage of the NFC with the biggest questions surrounding the NFC West. This division has the potential to be one of the toughest again with the back-to-back NFC champion Seahawks, the playoff team known as the Cardinals, and the under-the-radar Rams.

Arizona Cardinals: Can this team be a legitimate threat in the NFC? Many Cardinals fans will tell you that if it weren't for Carson Palmer getting hurt, then the Cardinals would've not only won the NFC West, but would've had home field advantage throughout the playoffs. I, for one, agree with that. Palmer had a rate of 95.6 along with 1,626 yards, 11 TD, and three INT before missing the rest of last season. Plenty of good targets to go around as well, although Larry Fitzgerald hasn't had a 1,000 receiving yard season for three years.
San Francisco 49ers: How far will the 49ers fall from grace this year? Let's just say that San Francisco's offseason was an eventful one, albeit one that they'd like to forget. They lost a myriad of players on defense, Chris Borland retired before he even had an NFL career, Jim Harbaugh left San Fran to become a Michigan Man once again, and Aldon Smith and Ray McDonald were done away with due to legal issues. New head coach Jim Tomsula has a tall order of restoring the 49ers to what they were in previous years.
Seattle Seahawks: Can the reigning NFC champs make it three in a row in the NFC? The Seahawks were only a yard away from becoming back-to-back Super Bowl champions and they've already upgraded their targets for Russell Wilson by acquiring Jimmy Graham from the Saints. Once again, they boasted the NFL's top defense and look to do it again this year. They also hope to resolve the Kam Chancellor situation soon before it gets too dicey.
St. Louis Rams: Will this be their last season in St. Louis? The Rams made an eye-opening trade this offseason by swapping quarterbacks with the Eagles. They also added RB Todd Gurley through the draft and Nick Fairley (Career 98 tackles, four forced fumbles, and 13.5 sacks in four seasons with the Lions) to bolster the defensive line. But the real drama is whether or not the Rams will be staying in St. Louis. Owner Stan Kroenke has been working on potentially bringing the Rams back to Los Angeles for possibly next season.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

NFC South: Biggest Questions

        Now we take a look at the NFC South, a division that could possibly be one of the NFL's weakest. But that shouldn't deter these teams for vying for a playoff spot in the upcoming season.

Atlanta Falcons: Will the Falcons' defense get better? The Atlanta Falcons' defense altogether was simply anemic. They had allowed the most combined yards on defense in 2014 at 6,372 yards. One promising thing to note for the Falcons was Paul Worrilow, who had 143 combined tackles last year, good for 5th in the NFL. The Falcons did add the likes of LB Justin Durant and DT Paul Solali, so the defense should have nowhere to go but up.
Carolina Panthers: How badly will the Panthers be affected by the loss of Kelvin Benjamin? Kelvin Benjamin emerged as one of Cam Newton's top receivers last season, breaking out for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns. However, Benjamin will miss the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL, leaving the Panthers without many viable targets for Cam Newton aside from Greg Olsen. Devin Funchess should be a decent receiver, but can he fill the void that Benjamin has left?
New Orleans Saints: Are the Saints transitioning? New Orleans was one of the most popular picks to win the Super Bowl going into the 2014 season. They had a high-profile passer in Drew Brees (who went on to throw for 4,952 yards, 33 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions) and a great tight end in Jimmy Graham. Now that Graham has gone to Seattle, things look a lot different for the Saints. They still have Marques Colston (59 receptions, 902 yards, five touchdowns), but not much else in terms of receivers. Brandin Cooks (53 receptions, 550 yards, three touchdowns) needs to play a bigger role in the offense along with other receivers in order for the Saints to be taken seriously in the NFC South discussion.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Can Jameis Winston truly be a star quarterback? So far, Jameis Winston has looked decent for the Bucs sans the preseason opener versus the Vikings. But one thing he really needs to do is keep his character in check. That means no more making a ruckus in the cafetaria. No more stealing crab legs. No more unsolicited sexcapades. Jameis must keep it together now that he's in the pros.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

NFC North: Biggest Questions

        Now that we've covered the NFC East (Always an interesting cover), it's time to cover the NFC North. This might be one of the NFL's deepest divisions with the Packers and Lions being last year's playoff teams along with an under-the-radar team in Minnesota and perhaps a revamped team in Chicago. Here are the biggest questions surrounding the NFC North.

Chicago Bears: Is this Jay Cutler's last stand? There has been great concern for QB Jay Cutler in the past few years in the Windy City. In 2014, Cutler threw for 3,812 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 18 INT. He also had a completion percentage of 66, 4.3% above his career average. He's faced criticism from his former teammate, Brandon Marshall; Marshall said that he was the only one who held Cutler accountable. Already in his 10th season, this is do-or-die for the Vanderbilt alum to make something of his big contract.
Detroit Lions: How big of a void has Suh left on the defensive line? It isn't really Ndamukong Suh that the Lions will miss. It's also Nick Farley and C.J. Mosley that are gone from the Lions' D-Line. But the Lions did get Haloti Ngata (32 combined tackles, 2.0 sacks, 2 INT) from the Baltimore Ravens. The Lions only allowed 1,109 rushing yards in 2014, which was tops in the NFL. It'll be a bit of a tall order for the Lions to duplicate that sort of production this season.
Green Bay Packers: Does the absence of Jordy Nelson hurt the Packers' Super Bowl chances? Going into this season, the Packers were the favorites to win the Super Bowl. However, Jordy Nelson (1,519 yards, 13 TD) was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Granted, I still believe that the Packers will make the playoffs and still be a viable threat. However, their Super Bowl chances do take a bit of a hit. Considering how Green Bay was only a successful onside kick away from making the Super Bowl, it just burns them up even more to make it there.
Minnesota Vikings: Can this team make noise this year? Teddy Bridgewater (2,919 yards, 14 TD, 12 INT) looks to break out this season, but he'll need some help. He was sacked 39 times last season. In fact, Minnesota quarterbacks were sacked 51 times last year, which is ten more than the number of times that the opponents have been sacked by Minnesota's defense. If the Vikings are to make noise and be the NFC dark horse, they'll need to improve their blocking upfront.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Curious Case of Donald Trump

        If you've watched the news lately, you've probably have seen a lot of this man.
        This man is none other than Donald Trump, real-estate developer, billionaire, and GOP presidential candidate. He's making a lot of noise in the GOP field, much to the chagrin of Democrats, the GOP establishment, and the news media. With the perfect storm of Hillary Clinton taking a huge hit in the polls and Donald Trump's meteoric rise in the polls, it's now become a viable vision that Trump becomes not only the GOP candidate, but that he becomes President of the United States. 
        The reason for Trump's uprising is a simple reason. As Ohio Governor John Kasich said, "He's hit a nerve in this country." His main focus of his campaign so far has been on immigration. Donald Trump has established that he wants to build a wall around the U.S.-Mexico border. Not only that, but he wants Mexico to pay for the wall. He's also stated that he wants to repeal the 14th amendment and end birthright citizenship. Other issues that he's talked about is bringing back jobs to the United States that China (and other countries) keep taking. He also wants to make sure that China doesn't cheat and would appoint Carl Ichan to oversee any trade deal made. He's even said that "he'd hit ISIS so hard, it'd make your head spin." Some of these issues have resonated with particular voters while it has turned off the other voters or left them confused.
        Aside from stating his political intentions if he's in the Oval Office, Trump has also bashed the hell out of ex-Governor of Florida Jeb Bush. From calling him "weak" to saying that he "has no energy", Trump has not shied away from his attacks on Bush. He's also taken aim at other cadidates like Carly Fiorina:

        He's also taken shots at Bernie Sanders and the incident involving the #BlackLivesMatter protestors in Seattle.

        And then there's this memorable moment at the GOP debate:

        As grandiose and egotistical of a candidate as Trump can be, there's no denying that he's had success with his campaign (at least so far). A new Reuters poll shows Trump polling at 32%, making him the front runner of the GOP field. So if Trump does win the GOP nomination or even the White House, I'd like for him to do us all a favor(?). I want him to play this at his inauguration or at the GOP convention:

Friday, August 21, 2015

NFC East: Biggest Questions

        The NFL season is quickly growing near and the excitement for the sport's return is also growing by the day. With that being said, it's time to begin our NFL preview. We're starting off in the NFC East, a division where every divisional team hates one another. With that being said, let's take a look at some of the biggest lingering questions that each team has for this upcoming season.

Dallas Cowboys: How will the running game be without DeMarco Murray? With DeMarco Murray defecting to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys now have some intriguing answers at the running back position. They were rumored to be in play to get Adrian Peterson from the Vikings, but those rumors were quickly shot down.They have Darren McFadden, who ran for 534 yards and two touchdowns with the Raiders last season. They have Murray's backup from last season in Joseph Randle, who ran for 343 yards and three touchdown with the Cowboys last year. They have Lance Dunbar, who ran for 99 yards last year with the Cowboys. They also have one of the most highly touted offensive lines from last season, which helped Murray rush for 1,845 yards (4.7 a game) and 13 touchdowns.
New York Giants: Is Eli Manning worthy of one of the biggest contracts in the NFL? Eli does have two Super Bowl rings at his disposal (One more than his brother Peyton). So on paper, he looks like he deserves to be paid big bucks. However, if it weren't for David Tyree's circus catch in Super Bowl XLII and a great defensive line and set of linebackers for both Super Bowls, then Eli wouldn't have those Super Bowls. Eli did have a better year last season, throwing for 4,410 yards, a 92.1 rating, 30 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. But he has a career completion percentage of 59% and 185 interceptions in 11 seasons to boot. His 82,4 career rating is marked by a few good season of ratings above 90 as well.
Philadelphia Eagles: Is Chip Kelly a toxic figure? Out went Nick Foles and in went Sam Bradford. Out went LeSean McCoy and in went DeMarco Murray. But the biggest issue stemming from the Eagles front is whether or not head coach Chip Kelly is driving players away. McCoy accused Kelly this summer of driving away all of the good black players after McCoy was traded to Buffalo. This season will be an indication of whether or not Chip Kelly is the cause for distress in Philadelphia.
Washington Redskins: Is RGIII damaged goods? Robert Griffin III suffered an apparent concussion in yesterday's preseason game against the Detroit Lions. This caused the plethora of questions concerning RGIII's future to rise once again. Griffin has had a notorious history of injuries; he had a concussion in 2012 and suffered a knee injury that same year. He re-aggravated the knee in a playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks and suffered a dislocated left ankle in a 2014 game against the Jaguars. Of course, the knee injury against the Seahawks wasn't his fault; Dr. James Andrews didn't clear him to play that game. But the injury history of RGIII could become too overwhelming for Griffin to get past.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Watch This: Backwards Swing for a Home Run

        You're usually accustomed to seeing-or hitting-a home run (or any type of hit) with a forward swing. But never has anyone seen a home run swung backwards. This play has been featured on SportsCenter and ESPN on numerous occasions and it ceases to amaze. Check out the amazing display for yourself.