Belichick vs Brady

The greatest dynasty in sports history, the 21st century Patriots are the pinnacle of team sports, powered by most dominant player-coach combination ever. The mastermind of this dynasty, Bill Belichick, remains vastly underrated as the greatest coach in sports history.

Before I lose all of the Patriots fans who have read up until this point, I want to make it clear that Brady is the best quarterback to ever play. Additionally, I don’t want to hear any of the arguments that Brady and Belichick are only good together, because that takes away from the greatness of both of them.

But Brady is overrated. I said it.

He may be the greatest of all time, but he is not quite so dominant as many may be led to believe.

I want to start with this most recent season. At the beginning of the season, there was talk of 16-0. With the addition of Brandin Cooks, there were whispers that this was the most talented offense Brady had played with. By the end of the season, Brady had won MVP largely off the idea that he carried a deficient team to the Super Bowl.

That is absolutely ridiculous. Granted, Brady lost his favorite receiver in Julian Edelman, but Edelman is not enough to turn that offense from the best Brady has played with to a group that Brady has had to carry. Sure, the defense lost a key player in Dont’a Hightower, but they still were 5th in points allowed. This isn’t an anomaly. The Patriots haven’t had a defense finish worse than 11th in points allowed since 2005.

Just to reiterate, I do not deny that Brady is the best quarterback in NFL history. However, I have a problem with the belief that he is head and shoulders above the competition. I also have a problem with giving Brady credit for much of what Belichick has earned.

For example, look at the last two Super Bowls in which Brady won MVP. Everyone remembers the Malcolm Butler interception, of course, but many people forget that Brady had two interceptions in that game. Brady deserves countless praise for going 13/15 in the fourth quarter – a feat that helped the Patriots comeback – but it can’t be forgotten how they got in that situation. Without that interception, Brady would not have been given Super Bowl MVP, he would have been seen as the quarterback who threw two costly picks in the most important game of the season. I don’t like dwelling on what-ifs, but I hate that a play that Brady had nothing to do with is still a credit to Brady. By the way, it was Belichick who signed and coached up the undrafted rookie who made that play.

The largest comeback in playoff history was influenced just as much by Belichick as the Super Bowl two years prior. While the offensive comeback was undeniably engineered by Brady, many tend to ignore the fact the the Patriots defense allowed zero points in the second half, giving Brady the chance to make the comeback. That defense was all Belichick. Furthermore, Brady nearly blew the comeback in one of the most exciting plays of the game. I’m talking about Edelman’s miracle catch. Not only should that throw have been intercepted, it was both a terrible decision and terrible throw by Brady. It was only sheer luck that it wasn’t picked off, much less completed.

This isn’t to say that Brady is not great, or that Belichick doesn’t make mistakes. This year’s Super Bowl proved quite the contrary. Sure, Brady missed a few throws, but he still played an amazing game. Although he lost the shootout, Brady played the game of his life and was let down by Belichick and the defense. The normally mistake free Patriots played sloppy football on defense and special teams, with the supporting players failing to overcome the moment. However, the blame ultimately lies with Belichick.

Not to delve too much into the unknown, but Robert Kraft seems to be ignoring these crucial points. While it isn’t certain what turmoil has occured within the Patriots organization, the trade of Garoppolo and retention of McDaniels seem to signify that Kraft has chosen Brady over Belichick. This is a mistake.

I recently heard some interesting tidbits from former Patriots receiver Andrew Hawkins. The whole Patriots environment was different from any other team he had played on. For example, when he first arrived with the Patriots, it wasn’t just coaches and players who helped him learn the playbook and techniques, but also the scouts. With the Browns he always knew he could finish his running first just because he was faster, but with the Patriots it wasn’t that easy because everyone ran like their lives depended on it.

I will give Tom Brady some credit for the environment, as he is a major leader on the team who allows himself to be the role model for the Patriot way. However, Belichick is the basis of the Patriots organization. Every single person in the Patriots organization is one the exact same page, from Tom Brady to the janitors. The reason the dynasty has lasted for 18 years is because of Belichick’s philosophy of team first, always. Next man up. Do your job. He makes every single player on his team better in a way that no coach in history was able to do. He makes the tough decisions that would normally destroy a franchise.

Every Patriots team is greater than the sum of their parts, and no one deserves anywhere close to the credit that Belichick does. He has created the ideal environment for the dynasty to last, with no egos to tear it down, his included. Brady is made to last too, with his Avocado ice cream and miracle diet, but he is a figurehead of Belichick’s system, not the other way around.

Belichick needs no one. He doesn’t need Brady to go 11-5, or Gronkowski to win a Super Bowl. Brady doesn’t need Belichick either, but the Patriots do, especially to continue their dynasty.


Grading system:

A – Top tier

B – Starter

C – Backup

D – Practice Squad

Recent Prospect Grade Comparison: Andrew Luck, A+

1. Josh Rosen – Easily the most refined passer I’ve seen in the past few years, Rosen’s talent throwing the ball is undeniable. He has prolific accuracy passing on all three levels of the field, exhibiting excellent timing and the ability to throw his receivers open in tight windows. He has enough arm strength to make all the throws at an NFL level, and exceptional footwork in the pocket. He is highly regarded as one of the smartest quarterback prospects in recent years, showing the ability to fully absorb any playbook and make correct reads. A major knock on him was his ability to produce when a play breaks down, however his pocket movement when avoiding pressure is very smooth and subtle. He has outstanding footwork, a major contributor to his pinpoint accuracy. Many of his interceptions were due to either pressure or his trying to do too much, as he had relatively little help but was still able to elevate his team. However, there is still a major concern about his character that could end up as a problem. His outspoken personality, intelligence, and arrogance have caused problems, but that are also seen as a positive by some teams. He is a prototypical pocket passer with the skill set to step in and excel immediately.

Grade: A+/A

2. Baker Mayfield – One of the most controversial players in the draft, Mayfield is seen as a boom or bust prospect. Mayfield’s height is not a problem, as he should continue to be able to find good passing lanes and throw with timing and anticipation. Although he is seen by some as a primarily mobile quarterback, he displays the pocket presence to drive down the field with pinpoint accuracy. His biggest strength is how careful he is with the football, throwing accurate passes and limiting turnovers. While his footwork within the pocket is exceptionally sloppy when pressured, Mayfield plays at an extremely fast pace. His talent at playing both inside the pocket and on the move is special, as he makes plays constantly. His ability to extend plays should not be understated, and he is an extreme competitor. While he generally goes through his reads before starting to scramble, Mayfield sometimes panics and will take bad sacks. His ability to drop balls over defenders is amazing, and he is quick to find open players. Although he has had some on and off the field issues, he is a fiery leader who can rally his teammates very well. He also shows the clutch ability to finish games against tough opponents, although it is worrisome that his coach declined to put the game in his hands in overtime against Georgia. If paired with a coach that can correct his flaws, Mayfield can be a difference maker on the NFL level.

Grade: A

3. Sam Darnold – Seen by many as the safest quarterback prospect in the draft, Darnold is what you look for in a modern NFL quarterback. His playmaking ability and outstanding poise are highlights of his play, while his intangibles make him a great fit in any locker room. He has above average arm talent and mobility, while also showing the ability to make consistent accurate throws. He is at his best on the move and uses this to make splash plays down field. Additionally, his ability to make off platform throws is top tier, and he excels at maneuvering in the pocket. Darnold is far from a finished product, as tends to lock onto receivers at times, but he generally goes through his reads quickly and is outstanding at finding open areas of the field. He has a substantial fumble problem that is the result of failing to keep both hands on the ball, and his gunslinger mentality causes some interceptions on throws he believes he can make. However, he also completes a good deal of these throws. He has the temperament of an elite quarterback and is rarely shaken. He is an impeccable scrambler who has an aptitude for making plays in tough situations. He is extremely humble and has the team first mentality wanted in a franchise player.

Grade: A/A-

4. Luke Falk – One of the most accurate passers in college football, Falk’s style is reminiscent of Tom Brady. He goes through his reads extremely fluently and rarely locks onto targets or forces throws, although a lack of receiver talent failed him at times.  His pocket awareness is outstanding, and he is especially diligent in finding his checkdowns when the pocket starts to collapse. He is very accurate on short and intermediate rhythm throws, showing great timing and a quick release on such throws. However, his average arm strength limits his upside on deep balls, although he displays good accuracy on perimeter throws and seam routes. The lack of throwing velocity doesn’t seem to be a problem on short passes unless he is forced to throw off his back foot, at which time many of the balls are thrown away or thrown up to be picked off. However, his footwork and drop back is on par with the top quarterbacks. He is especially adept at dropping the ball over defenders and into tight windows. He has prototypical size for an NFL quarterback with average athleticism. Falk’s intangibles are what elevates his game; he has a great football IQ and can command an offense with audibles and pre-snap adjustments.

Grade: B+

5. Lamar Jackson – The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner is without a doubt one of the best athletes in the draft, but is still the ultimate boom or bust prospect. As a runner, Lamar Jackson is exceptional, displaying the elusiveness, speed, and toughness of a running back. His scrambling is very good due to his athletic ability, and he always poses a a threat to score when given an open running lane. Although he was able to avoid throwing many interceptions – a credit to his good decision making – his accuracy is a clear work in progress. Although Jackson can stay in the pocket and make throws, he usually takes off and runs at the smallest sign of pressure. His footwork in the pocket is also sloppy. Thus, one has to wonder about how hard he would be to gameplan against, especially with questions about his ability to read defenses. However, it is very rare that he is fully eliminated from games due to his athletic ability, and it is common for him to take over games. He has an incredibly strong arm, and can complete some good deep throws downfield. While he remains inconsistent as a threat throwing the ball, he is adept at finding his checkdowns quickly when needed. In the right system, he has the most upside of any quarterback in the draft, but he shouldn’t be mistaken for someone who can turn a franchise around immediately.


6. Kyle Lauletta – A small school quarterback, Lauletta showed that he could play with higher competition with his outstanding play at the Senior Bowl. He is a bit on the smaller side, and plays very similar to how Case Keenum has played this past wyear. He is a good scrambler who throws very well on the run. As a runner, he is quick and surprisingly scrappy, often fighting through contact to gain extra yards. He displays good pocket awareness, however he tends to take off when forced out of the pocket rather than keeping his eyes downfield. Generally, Lauletta goes through his progressions well, and is adept at finding both his easy checkdowns and big plays in the defense’s gaps. He has very good short accuracy, although the occasional ball will sail or slip on him. He has a very good deep ball as well, although his arm strength is merely average. Due to this, he can sometimes get baited and the softer thrown balls can get picked off. However, he can also throw with anticipation, which minimizes the opportunities of defenders. He doesn’t make many mistakes, and can drive down the field with quick throws inside the numbers. He has solid leadership ability, and is often compared to Jimmy Garrapolo.

Grade: B+/B

7. Mason Rudolph – With prototypical size for an NFL quarterback, Mason Rudolph passes the eye test as a prospect. He has average athleticism but is able to use his size to his full advantage when running or maneuvering in the pocket. His poise in the pocket is outstanding, and he can deliver accurately while getting hit as long as he has a solid base. However, his short accuracy can be shaky if he is not comfortable and has not established a rhythm. He has the ability to sustain drives by leading his receivers and working his checkdowns. Additionally, he has very good intangibles and is able to work through his reads efficiently and make pre snap reads. Although his arm is reasonably strong, he tends to let balls hang a bit when throwing outside the numbers. However, he throws a beautiful deep ball with good air under it. His leadership abilities are shaky, but he could very well start without much development. Rudolph has a pretty good football IQ, regardless of the system that he played in. He lacks the elite physical traits of many of the other quarterbacks in this draft, but can step in and be solid.

Grade: B

8. Josh Allen, Wyoming – Widely considered more of a developmental prospect, many are intrigued by Josh Allen’s upside due to his physical attributes. He has outstanding arm strength, boasting the strongest arm in the draft. While this pairs with his size and speed to allow him to extend plays downfield, it also has become something that he tends to rely on. As such, he has numerous ill-advised throws and doesn’t play the game with the requisite decision making. As a result, he generally doesn’t go through his reads until he is forced out of the pocket, at which time he looks for the big play downfield. Although his incredible arm strength helps him complete a good amount of these passes, relying purely on arm strength will become a problem against NFL talent. Josh Allen is commonly compared to a young Ben Roethlisberger, an apt comparison when taking into account his penchant for throwing deep balls and scrambling. He is adept at working his checkdowns and completing sideline throws, the result of playing in a pro-style offense. However, many of his throws will sail and he struggles throwing accurately, making his floor as drastic as his upside. Additionally, he has struggled playing against upper tier competition.

Grade: B


9. Kurt Benkert – Coming from Virginia, Benkert became a somewhat popular sleeper prospect after a hot start to the season. Although he displays outstanding physical traits that would allow him to excel in the NFL, he lacks the ability to read the field. He has a very strong arm, but his accuracy is suspect. Benkert has the arm talent to compete with top tier college defenses when he is hot, particularly when throwing his beautiful deep balls. However, he has trouble completing short throws with consistency and seems unable to sustain drives. He has excellent pocket mobility, and is especially adept at finding creases in the pocket to escape sacks. He tends to rely on this too much at times, scrambling before the play even breaks down. Although he can make accurate big play throws while doing this, it is not something he should be doing so often. Adding to this, the system he played in only required him to make half field reads, something that is a major red flag. Benkert is a highly developmental prospect who could become a solid backup if taught the mental aspect of the game.

Grade: C

10. Mike White – Mike White is a potential sleeper due to his considerable arm strength, but is not prepared to be a starter at the NFL level. His arm strength contributes to his very good deep ball, which he can generally throw accurately and to the receiver in stride. He throws the ball with good spin and velocity on all his throws, and is good throwing into tight windows. He has limited progressions and is uneasy going through his reads. Additionally, he has good short and intermediate accuracy to go along with solid footwork. However, all of White’s positive traits are for naught when he faces any pressure whatsoever. He has bad awareness in the pocket and will fall apart under pressure. When faced with pressure or moved off his launch spot, his accuracy will worsen considerably and his movement will become panicked. With some upside due to his arm strength, White is not starter quality.

Grade: C-




MVP Race – Week 14

 1. Russell WilsonRussell Wilson

Russell Wilson’s MVP candidacy can no longer be ignored. After knocking off Carson Wentz’s Eagles in his typical eye-popping manner, he is the clear cut choice for MVP. He is tied for the most total TDs in the league, accounting for 29 of the Seahawks 30 total TDs. He leads the league in total yards and 4th quarter passer rating. All due respect to the Seahawks, but Russell Wilson is the Seahawks. He is the best and most valuable player in the NFL.

2. Antonio BrownAB

Most of the WR focus this week has been on Keenan Allen, who became the first WR in NFL history to record at least 10 receptions, 100 receiving yards, and a TD, in three straight games. Antonio Brown was only two receptions away from that last week, and it was seen as normal. The week before, he made two amazing clutch sideline catches to power the Steelers to victory. With 1,296 receiving yards on the year, he leads the NFL by over 200 yards. He is just that good, all the time.


Weekly Preview – Week 14

Matchup of the Week:

Eagles at Rams

Largely due to their loss in Seattle, the Eagles playoff credibility hangs in the balance. Whether or not they can bounce back and compete with the high-flying Rams will be key if they hope to make a playoff run. This game has been hyped as a showdown between Wentz and Goff, the first two overall picks in last year’s draft. Based on how strong both rosters are, Wentz and Goff could end up being the deciding factors in this game. However, both supporting casts will need to step up to help out their star quarterbacks. In particular, Gurley versus the Eagles run defense will be key, as it will either open up the offense for the Rams or force them to become overdependent on Goff to beat the Eagles. This game is a preview of the future of the NFC, as both teams should be regular playoff visitors starting this year.

Key Matchups:

Seahawks at Jaguars

There hasn’t been a defense that could completely stop Russell Wilson this season, but the Jaguars have as good a chance as any. Seattle’s defense also took it up a notch last week against the Eagles, and should be enough to quench a Blake Bortles led passing attack. Rookie RB Leonard Fournette could be a problem for the Seahawks defense, however, which could be enough to power the Jaguars’ offense and keep the game close. While the Seahawks are the favorites to win, the Jaguars’ elite defense and running game will put up enough of a fight to at least keep the game interesting.

Vikings at Panthers

Are the Vikings legitimate Super Bowl contenders? After knocking off the Falcons last week, the Vikings are definitely convincing. Meanwhile, the Panthers are looking to legitimize their playoff aspirations after losing 31-21 to the Saints in a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicates. Similar to last week, I don’t see the Panthers coming close in this game unless Cam Newton plays the way he did in 2015. The Vikings have a better roster, and have out-coached most of the teams they have played. This would be a statement win by the Vikings, showing that they can perform in a potential trap game.

Bonus Matchup:

Saints at Falcons

Vying for a first-round bye, the Saints have created a culture that is conducive to a Super Bowl run. With a healthy defense, they match up surprisingly well against this explosive Falcons offense. This is the Saints game to lose, but the Falcons are desperate for a win over their division rivals. Look for the Falcons to be creative in getting Julio Jones involved, especially if Marshon Lattimore can do what Xavier Rhodes did last week and shut Jones down. Even in a game featuring both last year’s MVP and a future Hall of Famer at quarterback, the running battle will be crucial. Kamara and Ingram, and Freeman and Coleman, make up two of the best RB tandems in the league. It should be a huge game for both groups of RBs.

Other Things I’m Looking For:

Nathan Peterman is back, which means the Colts will either get gashed by Shady McCoy or have a field day on defense.

The Bears defense has been pretty solid lately, but Giovani Bernard will still thrive in the absence of Joe Mixon and show us why we liked him in the first place.

It took the Browns long enough. With GM Sashi Brown finally gone, maybe Hue Jackson will be able to spark an offense that has underrated talent. Maybe.

With CB Marcus Peters suspended by the Chiefs this week, it’s the perfect time for Amari Cooper to have another breakout game.

After leading the Niners to 5 FGs in the win against the Bears, Jimmy Garoppolo has another matchup against the Texans that he can take advantage of.

The Lions don’t seem to have a good chance at the playoffs this year, and it doesn’t look any better with Stafford hurt. However, the running game will probably decide to show up against the Bucs.

Normally, a matchup pitting the Jets WRs against the Broncos CBs wouldn’t sound exciting. It is.

The Patriots will beat the Dolphins by a considerable amount, even without Gronk in the game taking idiotic cheap shots.

After an expected chippy game at Cincinnati, the Steelers have to face the Ravens in a potential trap game without Ryan Shazier or Juju Smith-Schuster. This game could get chippy as well, particularly with an agressive Ravens defense.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ryan Shazier, and I hope he has a quick recovery.


Power Rankings – Week 14

1. New England Patriots

2. Philadelphia Eagles

It seems like the question marks surrounding the Eagles’ schedule were well-founded. Playing a motivated Seahawks team at home, the playoff atmosphere proved too much for Carson Wentz and the Eagles to handle. There were a few questionable decisions by coach Doug Pederson that could become problems in the playoffs, and this week’s matchup with the Rams will be telling. Meanwhile, between Brady’s sideline antics and Gronk’s cheap shot, the Patriots had a similarly sloppy day. In the end, however, they came out with a well earned and well executed win. If the Patriots are able to dominate the Steelers in Week 15, there is no reason why they shouldn’t retain the top seed and go on to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

3. Los Angeles Rams

4. New Orleans Saints

5. Seattle Seahawks

6. Minnesota Vikings

Since their loss to the Vikings, the Rams have played outstanding football on both sides of the ball. With Robert Woods potentially returning for this week’s face-off, the Rams have a chance to take over as best team in the NFC. In a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicates, the Saints beat the Panthers to claim sole possession of the NFC South. They made key plays in the secondary and continued to show dominance in the run game. I hate to put the Vikings so low on this list after a great defensive showing against the Falcons, but it’s hard to ignore the Seahawks beating the Eagles. Russell Wilson is looking like he could lead the Browns to a Super Bowl, and Pete Carroll is getting the Seahawks into playoff mode. However, the Vikings are still a wild card with Case Keenum at quarterback, no matter how good the defense is.

7. Pittsburgh Steelers

8. Los Angeles Chargers

9. Jacksonville Jaguars

10. Atlanta Falcons

Although the Steelers beat the Bengals after losing Ryan Shazier, the outcome was in doubt for much of the game. If they want to be able to challenge the Patriots, they can’t play down to opponents. The Chargers play the way the Steelers want to, demolishing opponents with a strong offense and aggressive defense. As long as they keep winning, they will keep moving up. While I could never peg Jacksonville as a serious playoff contender with Blake Bortles at quarterback, this defense has been too impressive to ignore. An upset against the Seahawks would go a long way toward gaining credibility, but that doesn’t seem too likely of an outcome. Although the Falcons lost to the Vikings, the defense played pretty well. Matt Ryan needs to get better at reading the field and converting on third down, or else Atlanta will miss the playoffs. However, I believe the desperation will kick in at some point and they will start to make plays.

Eli Manning – Benched

For the first time since 1998, a Manning brother will not be playing in an NFL game this week. In a move that fellow quarterback Phillip Rivers called “pathetic”, the Giants benched Eli Manning in favor of evaluating Geno Smith and rookie Davis Webb. While they offered to give him the start so that he could keep up his Iron Man streak (210 consecutive games started), he declined the offer.

Frankly, I don’t consider myself an Eli Manning fan. I don’t believe he has ever been an elite quarterback, and I definitely don’t believe he belongs in the Hall of Fame. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants decided to move on, and I would completely support that move. However, I agree with Rivers’ assessment of the situation. Eli Manning has been the face of the franchise since his first legendary Super Bowl win, if not earlier. I get that the coach, Ben McAdoo, wants to see what he has in his young backups. But this isn’t the Browns, who are in search of a consistent starter. This isn’t a high school team with Seniors graduating yearly. In Eli Manning the organization has an established, albeit sometimes erratic, franchise quarterback. Use him. It doesn’t matter if you’re 2-9. Benching him is a show of blatant disrespect to the game, the fans, and most notably, Eli Manning.

This is the end of an era, as this move signals that Eli Manning will not be a New York Giant next season. The circumstances surrounding his benching are all the more ironic when one looks back on his arrival to the league, in which Kurt Warner was benched for the young rookie. However, Eli Manning deserves a great deal of respect as he has taken his fall from grace with dignity. I look forward to seeing one of the most respected quarterbacks of this generation play out the rest of his career.

Weekly Preview – Week 13

Matchup of the Week:

Eagles at Seahawks

Anyone who has followed the Seahawks season knows that it is the Russell Wilson show, which is pretty damn impressive considering the lack of any meaningful supporting cast. The Eagles defense has been outstanding, although being the number one rush defense doesn’t mean much against an all Russell Wilson run game. Carson Wentz should be able to handle Seattle’s injury-depleted secondary, but look to see if Seattle’s defensive front can disrupt the Eagles’ run game. If that happens, the pressure will once more fall on Russell Wilson to make plays. If it doesn’t, this potential shootout could easily become a blowout.

Key Matchups:

Vikings at Falcons

Similar to the game above, this game has major playoff implications. The Vikings defense has been impressive of late, but the Falcons plethora of offensive playmakers always offer a unique challenge. The key matchup here is Xavier Rhodes on Julio Jones, both of whom have been on a tear recently. I feel that Rhodes will be able to do enough to force Matt Ryan to look to his second and third options, however that may not be enough to stop the Falcons, especially with the return of Devonta Freeman. The Vikings offense will need to put up points, however that shouldn’t be a problem the way the Vikings offense has been playing.

Panthers at Saints

Surprisingly, the Saints and Panthers actually have the same record. With the Falcons only one game behind in a packed NFC South race, this game could determine playoff seeding and eligibility. As good as the Panthers’ linebacker centered defense has been this season, I really don’t see them being able to stop the Saints high powered rushing attack. Luke Kuechly is the best MLB in the league, but Kamara and Ingram are virtually unstoppable. With Marcus Williams out and Marshon Lattimore questionable, I expect a big day for the Cam Newton – Devin Funchess connection. These games have been high scoring in the past, and this one should be no different. For the Panthers to have a chance, Kuechly and Newton must make big plays when it counts.

Other Thing I’m Looking For:

Derrick Henry and Corey Davis are both looking for breakout games, and both could get them if Mariota doesn’t continue to squander their opportunities.

With Trevor Siemian back at starting quarterback for the Broncos, Demaryius Thomas is due for a huge game against a Dolphins secondary that fell apart last week.

After somehow losing to the Blaine Gabbert led Cardinals last week, the Jaguars are ready for a rebound game. The Jaguars should easily dominate, but look for Dede Westbrook to lead the passing attack.

Jameis Winston is finally healthy, which could be either a blessing or a curse for the Buccaneers. With how badly they have played this year, it doesn’t really make a difference.

The Packers offense should dominate against a weak Buccaneers defense, as Brett Hundley and Jamaal Williams both found their grooves last week.

Jimmy Garoppolo has arrived! I was never fully sold on the idea of Garoppolo as the 49ers savior, but coupled with Kyle Shanahan’s offensive genius, I’m expecting the offense to put up loads of points.

I’ve always been a fan of Deshone Kizer, and I believe he will have a big day now that his main targets are Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman.

I know everyone is already on the Cooper Kupp hype train, but I’m going to have to join in, even in a potential trap game.

The Steelers/Bengals game is the type of game that the Steelers tend to play down and lose. If they want to legitimize their Super Bowl aspirations, Big Ben can’t take this game off.

Power Rankings – Week 13

1. Philadelphia Eagles

2. New England Patriots

The Eagles still haven’t played the competitive games that they need to win for credibility, but the utter dominance they displayed against the Bears was too much for me to keep them from the top. The crown jewels of their respective conferences, the Patriots and Eagles both appear poised to dominate the rest of the regular season. While we have grown accustomed to seeing the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, the Eagles have not won a playoff game since the McNabb era. Meanwhile, the Patriots have Brady and Belichick. What else is new?

3. Los Angeles Rams

4. Pittsburgh Steelers

5. New Orleans Saints

6. Minnesota Vikings

Although the Vikings dismantled the Rams on both sides of the ball two weeks ago, I still have trust in coaches Sean McVay and Wade Phillips. Both the Rams and Vikings have complete rosters, but where I am a skeptic of Case Keenum, I am a fan of Jared Goff. With the best quarterback of this bunch, the Saints remain a potent pick-your-poison offense that will easily adjust after losing to the Rams. While the most volatile of these teams, the Steelers are still 9-2 and possess three players on offense that are capable of taking over a game (although Antonio Brown has done the heavy lifting). With the exception of the Vikings and their outstanding defense, the three other teams are offensive powerhouses capable of dominating in the playoffs.

7. Seattle Seahawks

8. Atlanta Falcons

9. Las Angeles Chargers

10. Carolina Panthers

With Russell Wilson at quarterback, the Seahawks have the most dynamic and reliable quarterback play of these four teams, along with a dominant and experienced front seven. The recent narrow loss to the Falcons hurt, but they will rebound. Both the Falcons and Chargers finally saw their WR1’s emerge, with Julio Jones and Keenan Allen shredding opposing defenses. Finally unhindered by their typical bad luck, the Chargers are on a roll and have the potential to be the most dangerous team in the AFC. Although they own one of the league’s top defenses and a variety of skill players, the Panthers still ride or die with Cam Newton, who has been relatively streaky.


MVP Race – Week 12

Russell Wilson1. Russell Wilson

82.1 %. That is how much of the Seahawks total yards from scrimmage the Russell Wilson has accounted for. With an injury depleted defense and a nonexistent running game, he has carried the Seahawks with a magical playmaking ability that we’ve yet to see an answer to. Although Seattle’s Wild Card bid took a hit after their loss to the Falcons on MNF, Russell Wilson played lights out and nearly achieved the comeback, which fell short due to . . . a missed Blair Walsh field goal. Sound familiar?

AB 2. Antonio Brown

In an underachieving Steelers offense, Antonio Brown has been consistently productive. On pace for over 1600 receiving yards for the third time in four seasons, his case as the game’s best receiver has only been solidified by Julio Jones’ struggles. His recent showing against the Titans was one of the best games by a wideout this year, as he gashed them to the tune of 144 yards and 3 TDs. While he is clearly on the road to being considered one of the greatest ever, here he is second in the MVP race.

Carson Wentz 3. Carson Wentz

What MVP list would be complete without Carson Wentz, who has played brilliantly for the Eagles? Carson Wentz has exceeded expectations, leading the league in touchdowns and displaying a playmaking ability similar to none other than Russell Wilson, the leading MVP candidate. Here’s an interesting stat: Every quarterback who has led the league in touchdowns while leading their team to the best regular season record has won the MVP award that year.

Tom Brady 4. Tom Brady

When making a list of the best players, it is impossible to leave Tom Brady off. The greatest quarterback of our era – and arguably of all time – has thus far enjoyed the greatest season ever by a 40 year old quarterback. After a slow start in which he seemed uneasy in the pocket, Brady rebounded strongly by leading the league in passing yardage and QBR. Did I mention he has thrown only two interceptions?

Zeke Elliott 5. Ezekiel Elliott

Clearly a long shot to win MVP, Ezekiel Elliott has proven his worth to his team the most when he hasn’t played. Similarly to the way the Giants fell apart after Odell Beckham Jr. was injured, the Cowboys have been absolutely dysfunctional on offense during Zeke’s suspension. Although Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith was believed to be the major reason for the recent failures of Dallas’ offense, he didn’t make much of a difference in his return to an offense that is clearly lacking its motor.

Eagles: Best in the NFL?

Dominant. That is how those in the football world would describe the Eagles 8-1 start, particularly on the heels of their 51-23 thrashing of the Broncos. With the NFL’s best record thus far, it begs the question: Are the Eagles the best team in the NFL?

The short answer is no. There are too many other talented teams for the Eagles claim to be undisputed. Granted, the Eagles have all the components of a great team and Super Bowl contender. Led by MVP candidate Carson Wentz, the team has played nearly flawless football in all three phases of the game. Additionally, I see the Eagles as perhaps the most complete roster in the league. However, they haven’t shown that they can beat any of the teams that they will undoubtedly be facing in the playoffs. While a few of the teams they have faced this season are solid football teams, the only playoff team they played was the Kansas City Chiefs, to whom they lost by a touchdown. I’m not saying that the Eagles lack the potential to be the best team in football, I’m only saying that they haven’t truly faced the adversity to gain that recognition.

To be a truly great football team it takes more than just wins and talent, it takes a certain mindset and culture. The Eagles have a chance to become one of those teams, but first they must show that they can beat perennial Super Bowl contenders. Luckily, they have a chance to garner that respect, with upcoming match-ups against the Cowboys, Seahawks, and similarly up-and-coming Rams.