Football is officially back! We just enjoyed the greatest opening weekend in college football history and on Thursday we will get a rematch of last year’s Super Bowl. The Carolina Panthers will travel to Denver to try and prove last year’s game was a fluke. The Panthers outgained the Broncos 315 to 194 but the game was decided by the Panther’s four turnovers. The Broncos stout defense stripped MVP QB Cam Newton and scored early on.
That game is in the past, and the Panther’s will be up for this one to prove all their doubters wrong. The Panthers return their star WR Kelvin Benjamin from injury and will be even more explosive than last year, which is frightening. The defense lost Pro Bowl CB Josh Norman, but the front seven remains intact and their zone coverage scheme should help mask the loss of Norman. The Broncos lost a legend in QB Peyton Manning, as well as DL Malik Jackson and LB Danny Trevathan. The defensive losses will have a huge impact on the Broncos, as it make it difficult for their defense to be as dominant as last year. The defense helped them win many games last year, and with a new a starting QB in Trevor Siemian they will rely on the defense early and often. The problem is the Panthers are hungry and out to prove they never lost a step. Cam Newton and all his weapons will be motivated and want to make a statement. The Broncos front seven, led by OLB Von Miller will get after Newton and make him uncomfortable at first.
PREDICTION: The game will be close at first, but the Broncos will not make enough explosive plays to keep up and the Panthers will pull away in the third and fourth quarters. The Panthers will make it a priority to stop the run and force Siemian to beat them with his arm. The Broncos will try to get the ball out of his hands quickly to WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. They will try to slice the defensive zone schemes and coverage with screens and curls, but it won’t be enough. The Panthers will win this game with a very good defense and an offense that will be even better this year.
Marvin Lewis-Cincinnati Bengals: He was once voted the AP Coach of the Year in 2009, and has a 112-92-2 career record, but he has never won a playoff game. Last year the Bengals had the playoff game against the Steelers won but then two critical 15 yard penalties allowed the Steelers to get into field goal range and win the game. The penalties sum up Lewis’ career, he takes chances on talented but hot-headed and reckless players and it came back to cost him bigtime. The Bengals have all the talent to seriously compete for a super bowl but they must stop shooting themselves in the foot and disappointing in crunch time. If they cannot win a playoff game this postseason, Lewis will be gone.
Chuck Pagano-Indianapolis Colts: Pagano has a 41-23 record with the Colts and is 3-3 in the playoffs, but he has still disappointed and the talent he has on his roster continues to underachieve. He has a franchise QB in Andrew Luck, and although I have always said Luck is highly overrated and a mere system QB at best, he has no OL to keep him healthy. The decisions by Pagano and his staff have hindered the Colts ability to have success. They have not addressed the OL and two years ago they drafted WR Phillip Dorsett when they already had a speed burner in T.Y. Hilton. He also has perhaps the dumbest playcall ever on his record, when he went for the suicidal fake punt against the New England Patriots. The Colts have gotten away with success against a very bad AFC South division, but it has improved tremendously and Pagano must find ways to sustain success and keep Luck healthy if he wants to keep his job.
Jason Garrett-Dallas Cowboys: Garrett has found a way to keep his job this long, but he must have the Cowboys make a deep playoff run in order to save himself this year. The Cowboys have one of the most talented offensive rosters in football, but they have not been able to stay healthy. They drafted RB Ezekiel Elliott to take pressure off an aging QB in Tony Romo and hope he can produce what DeMarco Murray did in 2014, when he led the league in rushing behind that great OL. The Cowboys problem is that they rely so heavily on a few players and if they get hurt, like WR Dez Bryant and Romo did last year, they have no depth to in place to compete. The defense is also a mess and the Cowboys have not done anything to fix it. Garrett must hope his stars stay healthy and that the Cowboys can finish in the 4th quarter, which is not something they are good at, as they must win shootouts just to compete. If the Cowboys miss the playoffs, it will be because of Garrett’s coaching flaws and personnel decisions and he will be gone.
AFC North Predictions
Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens had a very disappointing 2015 season, as they were supposed to contend for the AFC North but fell to a 5-11 record. The fall was mostly because of injuries to QB Joe Flacco and other key players like WR Steve Smith. The offensive line was very ineffective and they could not protect whoever the QB was. They finished 26th in rushing and only averaged 267 passing yards a game. The Ravens addressed the OL in the draft by selecting OT Ronnie Stanley from ND, who specializes in run blocking so he will immediately help the run game. The AFC North is defined by cold-weather games where one team must win in the trenches to win the division, if the Ravens improve their OL play and can keep one of the best QBs in the game upright and healthy, then they should get back into contention for the AFC North in 2016.
Cleveland Browns: The Cleveland Browns are one of the more intriguing teams to me this year. I watched the NFL Draft just waiting for the Browns to pull another “Browns move”, but it never happened. I think the new Browns’ regime actually knows how to build a franchise that could develop into a contender down the road. The Browns traded back in the draft twice, getting draft picks and resisting the temptation to reach for players like they did in the past. They got WR Corey Coleman in the first round and have a new QB in Robert Griffin lll. Hue Jackson is a great QB coach so he can develop Griffin into the player he was once as a rookie. The Browns have some talent now, with RBs Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson as well as LT Joe Thomas and CB Joe Haden. The biggest problem for the Browns has been poor coaching a QB play, but everything I have seen so far from Hue Jackson suggests this will no longer be an issue. The Browns will not improve much in the wins column, but they will take strides to compete down the road.
Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers finished second in the division with a 10-6 record, which is a testament to how resilient this team is. QB Ben Roethlisberger threw for 3,938 yards and 21 TDs, but also threw 16 INTs. With all the weapons at his disposal in Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and a workhorse RB in Le’Veon Bell, there is no reason for a veteran super bowl champion QB to throw that many INTs. Bell was hurt for a lot of last year, and so was Roethlisberger but RB DeAngelo Williams and QB Mike Vick stepped up produced. The Steelers won 10 games with key injuries and a lot of turnovers, not to mention the leagues 30th ranked pass defense. They drafted CB Artie Burns in the first round but he does not really fit the scheme. He is a better zone CB and can break on the ball but the Steelers run a lot of man coverage. It will be interesting to see how Burns helps the secondary in 2016. The Steelers are one of the most talented teams in the NFL, but their defense must improve and they must stay healthy if they want to make a deep playoff run which they are capable of doing in 2016.
Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals were one of the best teams in the NFL last year, but playoff demons continue to haunt this team. The Bengals had the Wild Card game wrapped up and won, but Vontaze Burfict had two crucial 15 yard penalties in the final minutes which set up the Steelers game winning field goal. That game sums up the Bengals, they are extremely talented a can win games but when it matters most in crunch time, they make mental mistakes and lose by shooting themselves in the foot. This is a risk you take when you have players with character concerns like Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones. The Bengals were in the top 15 for both passing and rushing, which means they are balanced offensively and they use that to their advantage with play action passes to A.J. Green. They also went out and drafted WR Tyler Boyd, who is a big physical WR who can cause problems for defenses on third down. They also drafted a playmaker in William Jackson III who can instantly help improve the 20th ranked pass defense. Jackson is a ball hawk and will create turnovers to give Andy Dalton and company short fields. The Bengals can get it done in the regular season, but they must prove they can win playoff games.
Former Ohio State QB Cardale Jones was one of the most polarizing draft prospects in recent memory. In 2014 when starters Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett went down with injuries, he led the Buckeyes to three straight post-season wins en route to a national championship. His impressive performances against Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon led some scouts to believe he should leave school early as he possessed all the physical traits of a QB. Jones is 6′ 5″ and 250 pounds, with a pure rocket for an arm. He is tough to bring down with one defender and he can keep plays alive with his feet. It’s obvious why scouts were intrigued by him, but Jones is raw and has immaturity issues. Ohio State was able to maximize his strengths and minimize his flaws during their 3 game championship run. They ran the ball a combined 76 times with RB Ezekiel Elliott for 696 yards and 8 TDs. Jones was asked only to launch it deep to WR Devin Smith when he was matched up one on one, and he used his legs to convert third downs. Ohio State did not ask him to read and dissect defenses, because as 2015 proved, he struggled with it. He started the season as the Buckeyes QB but struggled with reading defenses and not turning the ball over as he threw 8 TDs but 5 INTs.
I believe Urban Meyer started Jones because of his upside, and how his big frame makes it very difficult for defenders to bring him down. This was evident in the season opener at Virginia Tech when Bud Foster sent lots of blitzes and about 3 or 4 times the Hokies defenders had Jones wrapped up but they could not bring him down for the sack. He was eventually replaced by J.T Barrett because of his immaturity and inability to protect the football. When Jones is forced to read defenses and make decisions, and cannot just chuck it deep against man coverage like last season, he struggles. He is a project for the Buffalo Bills and should sit the bench for a few years to develop, especially his short and intermediate accuracy and timing. I was surprised the Bills drafted Jones after their misfortunes with former 1st round pick E.J. Manual, who is another big framed QB with a strong arm but struggled with accuracy and turnovers. As a QB myself, I believe the most important physical tool of a QB is accuracy, and getting the ball out on time and on target. Jones needs to improve his accuracy and needs to mature a lot before he can become a starter in the NFL. Cardale Jones has a lot of upside and a cannon for an arm, but the Bills will need to be patient and really develop him into a guy who is comfortable reading defenses and throws the ball accurately with minimal turnovers. He is a major project, and it will be his maturity and willingness to sit and develop that will ultimately dictate his future in the NFL.
Tampa Bay , currently ranked #30 in the ff-winners.com computer power rankings
looks to push higher in 2016.
The first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft did not disappoint at all. Jameis Winston threw a couple of picks in his first career game, but cruised through the rest of the season, even becoming selected to the Pro Bowl! The Bucs’ new head coach Dirk Koetter revolutionized their offensive attack last season, as he utilized Winston, Doug Martin, Mike Evans, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and Vincent Jackson to their full potential. Now taking on a bigger role, Koetter will need to fix their defense too, as that is what ultimately brought their team down last season….
Broadcaster and “Top Gear” host Jeremy Clarkson once said of cars that the foibles and lack of proper handling is what gives them a human quality. It is this anthropomorphized love of the quirks that define an auto enthusiast. It is the sharing of sweat, blood, and oil that make the bond between car and owner. Of course, like any passion, the right job requires the right tools.
Appropriate Tool Box
Some of the appeal of car collecting is the wide range of personalities of the auto as they vary in price and age. A 1967 Datsun 2000 Convertible can transport us to a time in the past when love was free and we had hair through which the wind could blow. An Aston Martin DBX can bring us into the future where we are spies, saving our mother country from harm. The practical consequence of this fluctuation through time and country is that the tool box needs to match the temporal and spatial coordinates of the auto. For old model cars, Second Chance Garage recommends a low tech tool box that includes a crank flashlight, a hammer, hose clamps, and two adjustable wrenches so that you do not need to worry about metric or British units.
In an article for Speed Hunters, Matthew Jones chronicles the rehab of a 1965 Beetle. One of the first things that needed to be changed was the tires. What is the fun of a car if you cannot drive it? On a practical note, for those of us without tons of disposable income, the collector’s car is also our driving car so safe tires that match the specs of the automobile are a must. Generic tires may not be right for a specialty car. There are some tire manufacturers that specialize in tires for car enthusiasts, making sure that the design is right for the car and still safe for modern driving.
VW enthusiast and owner of Kid’s Castle Family Daycare, Phyllis Montoya says that the jack stand is the most important item in her garage. Car collectors come in a wide range of income levels. Not everyone will have tons of time and money to throw at the car, which means that it is going to spend some extended time on the jacks. Good jack stands need to be strong and safe, especially if the car is going to be stored in a family garage where children may be around.
Computer Science Degree
A voltmeter may be sufficient for an old car but new automobile collectors need to have some advanced knowledge of electrical engineering and computer programming to tweak the internal software of the car. This has become an issue for some new car collectors. In 2015, federal legislation changing some copyright laws allowed users to tinker with the software in automobiles, as well as older model video games and telephones. As cars become more and more reliant on the integrated electronics, car collectors are going to need to be increasingly educated in software and hardware programming.
Duct tape is a staple of any car owner, not because it fixes everything but because it is the perfect medium for your limitless creativity. Decorative blankets can become seat covers and a can of spray paint can become art, at least until you have the budget to do it right. Make creativity your most important tool.