Broncos defense may get Manning his 2nd Ring

Slideshow: Broncos have a defense now

Uh oh the Denver Broncos have a defense and that is a scary thought for the rest of the NFL teams. With Peyton Manning and the “Air Fox” offense firing on all cylinders the Broncos had a good chance of getting back to the Super Bowl. Now with that offense AND a good defense I would have to say the Broncos are the odds on favorites to WIN the Super Bowl.

Peyton Manning is the best regular season quarterback that ever laced up a pair of cleats in the NFL. I still say Joe Montana is the better overall quarterback but Manning has a good chance at adding a Super Bowl ring with his 2nd team, something Joe never did.

All the Broncos defense has to do for the team to win is be a little better than average. And the Broncos defense is better than that right now. The Broncos rank 8th in the NFL at points allowed, 18th in pass yards defense but 1st in run defense. The run defense stat is key for the Broncos.

Team will want to run the ball and keep Peyton Manning off the field. Right now the Broncos time of possession is at 30.12 a game while their opponents is around 30,36. So the Broncos defense is not letting opponents have a large lead in time of possession.

DeMarco Ware and Von Miller make a nasty pair of pass rushers for Broncos opponents to worry about. The big problem I see with the Broncos defense and this is a John Fox thing, is its loaded with aging veterans. The fact that the Broncos can rush the passer, Miller and Ware have 15 sacks between them, is good for Peyton. When the Broncos get in those shootouts his defense has a shot at getting Manning the ball back.

John Fox often had good defenses with the Carolina Panthers that relied on old guys not getting worn down or injured. Fox is NOT a coach who likes to or is good at teaching young players. So the Broncos really need their graybeards to stay healthy and playing well to get to the Super Bowl.

Are the Carolina Panthers the best team in the NFC South by default?

Slideshow: Cam Newton is the X factor

Are the Carolina Panthers the best team in the NFC South by default? It is starting to seem so. The Falcons were supposed to be better and heck I predicted 12 wins for the Saints myself. Lovie Smith was supposed to make the Buccaneers at least competitive Yet the Carolina Panthers, the limping shell of their former self Panthers lead the NFC South after week 7.

The Carolina Panthers are 3-3-1 and their offensive line is well offensive. The once fierce

Nightmare on Mint Street” Panthers defense plays like a lost kitten on Mint Street now. Yet the Panthers sit atop the division while the Saints and Falcons have two wins and Tampa has 1 so far his year.

The Saints are their usually trash self on the road but something is wrong with Drew Brees even at home this year. Their defense is terrible and Rex Ryan’s uglier brother will be unemployed at the end of this season.

The Falcons once again melted when they lost a couple of wide receivers and a tackle to injury. I think they are going through the motions this season until they can get their coach fired and start over next year.

Tampa don’t seem to be buying into Lovie Smith which means he may have to clean house in the off season to get his type of guys onto the roster. Lovie dropped the ball at quarterback by not starting Glennon from day one but this team should have more than one win.

Cam Newton is the x factor for the Panthers. Despite the offensive line, new wide receivers and bad defense the team is still leading the division. I feel like Cam Newton is having his best season and he can pull the Panthers into the playoffs by winning the NFC South.

I do think if a team other than the Panthers does win the South it will be the Saints. They have the best coaching (at least on offense) in the division. Brees could turn his season around or at least enough to win the South.

Can DeAngelo Williams salvage the season he dedicated to his mom?

Slideshow: Can DeAngelo salvage his season?

Can DeAngelo Williams salvage the season he dedicated to his mother? DeAngelo William lost his mother to breast cancer during the offseason and dedicated this season in her honor. The Williams suffered injuries that have allowed him to only play in two games and rush for 106 yards so far this year.

DeAngelo Williams is expected to be back next week after recovering from his ankle injury. As a matter of fact all the Panthers running backs know how dangerous their job is this year because of the offensive line.

There is some good news about DeAngelo Williams missing 6 games so far in 2014. Williams won’t have the usual aches and pains that people have during week 9 of a NFL season, when he returns. If his ankle is healed it will be like he is starting the season all over again fresh and rested.

DeAngelo did look pretty good in his two games this season as he averaged 4.2 yards per carry for the Panthers You know DeAngelo Williams will want to salvage as much of this season as he can since he dedicated it to his mother.

DeAngelo will also be motivated to show the Carolina Panthers that he is worth keeping around next year or to show his goods to potential new teams if he is released in the off season. Between Williams and Jonathan Stewart both being injured and overpaid we may be seeing the last season of “Double Trouble” with the Carolina Panthers.

Even if it’s a cap hit its one the Panthers will need to take because they need money to resign Cam Newton and soon Luke Kuechly. We have seen this team do ok with street free agent running backs who play cheap and play hard. The Panthers probably won’t give big money to a running back again anytime soon.

As far as this year I think DeAngelo will bust his butt to try to make plays but will go down to another injury. Between the Panthers terrible offensive line and Williams being old for a running back its just a matter of time. I hope I am wrong though as DeAngelo is one of my favorite Panthers of all time on and off the field.

Top 5 Playmakers in the NFC

Slideshow: The 5 playmakers in the NFC

Thanks for reading my list of the 5 best playmakers in the NFC right now. The best NFL playmakers could be running backs, wide receivers or defensive players, I am not counting quarterbacks. Just the best players in the NFC at coming up with big plays.

5 Matt Forte Running Back Chicago Bears

Forte got off to a slow start but is still one of the best playmakers in the NFC. Forte has almost 900 combined running and receiving yards for the Bears. Matt Forte is averaging 4.0 yards per carry and 8.4 yards per catch on his 52 receptions. Forte has 5 touchdowns so far this season.

4 DeSean Jackson Wide Receiver Washington Redskins

Even without a decent quarterback DeSean Jackson is a weapon! In today’s dink and plink NFL Jackson is averaging 20.3 yards per catch! One of DeSean Jackson’s 3 touchdown catches was for 81 yards.

3 DeMarco Murray Running Back Dallas Cowboys

Murray is a workhorse running back who averages 4.9 yards per carry and already has 7 rushing touchdowns for the Dallas Cowboys. Murray also averages 7.2 yards per reception and is on pace to rush for over 2,000 yards.

2 Randall Cobb Wide Receiver Green Bay Packers

All Randall Cobb does is score touchdowns for the Green Bay Packers. Cobb only averages a little over 12 yards per catch but already has 8 touchdown receptions for the Packers. A skilled returner not being used in that capacity, Cobb is a touchdown threat every time he touches the ball.

1 Jordy Nelson Wide Receiver Green Bay Packers

Jordy Nelson is the biggest playmaker in the NFC right now. Nelson averages over 15 yards per catch and has 6 touchdown receptions including one for 80 yards. The fact that I have the top two playmakers as Packers wide receivers says something about Aaron Rodgers too of course.

Previewing the Broncos and Chargers Thursday Night Game

Slideshow: Denver vs San Diego

Thanks for checking out my preview of the NFL’s week 8 Thursday Night game between the Denver Bronco and San Diego Chargers. To see all my week 8 NFL picks just click this link please. But this article will break down the Thursday Night game with the Chargers at the Broncos.

Peyton Manning is coming setting the NFL career passing touchdowns record and is possibly playing the best football of his career right now. Thomas, Sanders and Thomas are so good they have turned Wes “Molly” Welker into a forgotten man on the Broncos offense. Ronnie Hillman is having a good year on those rare plays when Peyton Manning and the “Air Fox” offense choose to run the ball.

The interesting thing is that the Denver Broncos learned from the Seahawks last year that defense is kind of important. Now the Broncos actually have a pretty decent defense ranking 7th in points allowed, 6th in yards allowed, 18th in passing yards and 3rd in run defense.

Phillip Rivers may also be playing the best football of his career since the hiring of Mike McCoy who used to work for John Fox and the Panthers. McCoy has turned the career of Rivers around when he looked to be almost done. Rivers has 17 touchdown passes and only 3 interceptions this year. The Chargers run offense is non existent but the passing game is top notch. Keenan Allen has not been up to snuff this year but Antonio Gates and Eddie Royal seemed to have found the fountain of youth this year.

This preview of the Thursday Night game between the Chargers and Broncos must note that San Diego’s defense is the better of the two teams. The Chargers rank 3rd in points allowed, 5th in yards allowed, 3rd is passing yards allowed and 13th in rushing yards allowed.

My Thursday Night Prediction for the Broncos and Chargers game.

I like San Diego’s defense to make the game close but Denver wins 28 to 21. I just think Manning and company are on a mission and winning division games at home is a big part of that.

Fan Poll Wesley Walls or Greg Olsen?

Slideshow: Walls or Olsen?

Carolina Panthers fans this is a fan pole question. Who would you rather have in their prime current Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen or former player Wesley Walls? Walls and Olsen are the top two tight ends in Carolina Panthers history but which one was the best?

Both players started on other teams, Walls with the 49ers and Olsen with the Bears. Neither was much of a blocker and Olsen is a little bigger at 6ft 6 and 254 pounds than Walls at 6ft 5 and 240. Of course Olsen is still active and Walls is long retired but vote here to say which one you would want in their prime.

In 7 seasons with the Carolina Panthers Wesley Walls caught 324 passes off of 344 targets for 3,902 yards and 44 touchdown receptions. That 324 from 344 is pretty darn good. All stats in this article come from Profootballreference.com by the way.

Greg Olsen has 3 seasons with the Panthers and part of a 4th at the time of this writing. Olsen has 228 receptions off of 363 targets for 2,692 yards and 21 touchdowns with the Carolina Panthers.

When I started writing this article I was going to say Greg Olsen is better than Wesley Walls was. But I have changed my mind. I am going to vote for Walls over Olsen. Please cast your vote here, you don’t have to sign up for anything. Feel free to heap praise or insults on me in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter, @NFLPanthersSB.

Terminally ill Panthers fan promises to Keep Pounding

Slideshow: Statue outside of Bank of America Stadium

We Carolina Panthers fans like to tell each other to Keep Pounding because it’s a slogan that sounds cool. We do remember it was started by Sam Mills when he was sick but we seldom think of it that way, or I didn’t anyway.

That changed for me recently when I saw a post in the Panthers4life.com Facebook Group by Mr. Kenny Long. Mr. Long is losing a battle with pancreatic cancer but the Carolina Panthers and his fellow fans of the team are much on his mind. Here is the post he left in the group.

“I would like to say that I will always be a Panthers 4Life! But I regretfully have say that I will be a Panthers in the After Life as I was just given the news today officially from my Oncologist that my bout with pancreatic cancer has taken a turn for the worse and I have only 6 - 12 months left to live. Without chemotherapy I have 6 months, with, maybe a year. I have followed the Panthers religiously since the very beginning and attended games at Clemson Stadium the 1st season and continue going to games this year. I love my Panthers and will be watching and pulling for them from up above. Was hoping for a Super Bowl victory this year and still hold that hope if we can get all phases of our game on the right track. I love you my Panther Brothers and Sisters and will always be there 4 you and our Beloved Panthers! As Sam Mills said "Keep Pounding" and never give up faith and hope for the team we love! Always be a TRUE Fan and never a fair weather fan! Those who continue to keep bad mouthing our team, please do all of us a favor and find someone else to follow and support because we don't need you! As always: Go Panthers, Keep Pounding!”

Talking to Mr. Long on Facebook to get permission and information for this article he again mentioned his love of the Carolina Panthers. Mr. Long is 58 years old and was born in Gastonia NC. He is currently single but was married before. He has no kids of his own but is close to the children of some friends of his and loves his pets. And he loves his Carolina Panthers.

We tend to use sports as a distraction from the daily grind of life. Sometimes we tend to take both life and the joys we find in it for granted. Mr. Long’s situation got to me because both my dad and a favorite uncle lost their fight with cancer. So I understand if only a little, what he and his family and friends are going through.

If you want to leave a message for Mr. Long he will see it in the comments below or I can forward them to him. I am sure you will want to join me in telling Mr. Long to indeed Keep Pounding. 

Thomas Davis calls out the Panthers defense

Slideshow: Thomas Davis calls out the defense

Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis says he knows why the defense is down this year. He says players are not trying hard enough, and that is bad news for fans of the Carolina Panthers as well as for Coach Ron Rivera.

Read the whole article here on ESPN but here is one quote by Thomas Davis about the Carolina Panthers defense. "We're not executing or making plays, and we're not competing hard enough," Davis said bluntly. "From the film we watched we have a lot of guys that on a consistent enough basis are not competing hard enough, and it's showing up."

I have seen times this season where I felt like the defense gave up and stopped trying for the Carolina Panthers. I felt like they decided if the offense couldn’t play well then why should they try hard?

Just as an observer of the team it looks like Thomas Davis, Luke Kuechly, and the defensive tackles Star and Short are playing all out. Charles Johnson has been injured but seems to have come on of late.

When discussing Thomas Davis on Twitter @MMA_PITBULL made a good point. He said something along the lines of the players going all out for Rivera is what saved his job. If the players are not doing that now then Rivera could be in real trouble.

Ron Rivera is the ultimate players coach or we think he is. If the Panthers defense (his side of the ball) is tuning him out then that is bad news. Things like this get coaches fired and a general house cleaning of the lesser players.

With the Carolina Panthers needing cap space to resign Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly (soon) there will be a house cleaning anyway. Maybe the players know this and have decided to draw a check on minimum effort this year.

As fans we want to think all NFL players would play for free but few of them would. Many don’t care deep down if the team wins or loses. They want to do enough to keep the checks rolling in. That is why you see so many players suddenly have a great year when their contract is up. They ball hard to get that next deal then settle down to doing enough to get by.

Ranking the week 8 fantasy wide receivers

Slideshow: Photo of Julio Jones

Thanks for reading my week 8 fantasy football wide receiver rankings for the 2014 NFL season. I will rank the top 25 fantasy football wide receivers for week 8. You can ask me a question about anyone else in the comments below or on Twitter at @NFLPanthersSB. Please also read my week 8 quarterback rankings and running back rankings.

1 Dez Bryant

I have Dez Bryant as the number one fantasy wide receiver for week 8. Bryant like a stage and he will have one this week.

2 Jordy Nelson

Nelson is the touchdown whisperer these days and he will whisper at least twice this week.

3 Antonio Brown

Brown is just a beast when Big Ben has time to throw him the ball.

4 Demaryius Thomas

I think the Chargers will try to take Thomas out of the game plan but Manning will still get him the ball enough to have a good game.

5 Julio Jones

Jones and the dirty birds play better at home and there will be a lot of passes in this game.

6 Jeremy Maclin

Maclin and Foles will be trying to prove NFL defenses have not figured out the Kelly offense.

7 T.Y. Hilton

This Hilton plays like he stayed at a Holiday Inn Express every week.

8 Randall Cobb

Cobb is a great week 8 fantasy football wide receiver for your team.

9 Golden Tate

Take is taking huge advantage of Megatron being out of the loop.

10 Sammy Watkins

Watkins does not play like a rookie and Orton can get him the ball.

11 Emanuel Sanders

Look for Sanders to take advantage of double teams on Thomas.

12 Mike Wallace

Wallace has found his mojo in Miami.

13 Doug Baldwin

Baldwin gets a shot at a terrible pass defense team in Carolina.

14 Alshon Jeffery

Alshon may get more targets if Cutler is mad at Marshall for his rant in the locker room.

15 Vincent Jackson

Jackson is the Buc’s best hope in the passing game.

16 Steve Smith

89 can still get it done and is a good week 8 fantasy wide receiver.

17 Pierre Garcon

The Redskins figured out if he get him the ball then good things happen.

18 Andre Johnson

How the mighty have fallen but he is still a decent number or flex.

19 Mohammed Sanu.

Sanu is pretty good when he gets his touches.

20 Roddy White

White may get some targets if he can stay on the field.

21 Kelvin Benjamin

Cam will be throwing the ball all over the field so Benjamin will get his targets.

22 Reggie Wayne

Wayne can still hurt a defense and help a fantasy football owner.

23 Julian Edelman

Brady will find him a few times.

24 Marquis Colston

Colston is my sleeper wide receiver for week 8, he may just go off.

25 Larry Fitzgerald

Still has some game at times.