Tag Archives: Lambeau Field

5th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: Arizona Cardinals

The NFC West is the final division in our previews of all 32 NFL teams, and the first team we’re previewing in the division is the Arizona Cardinals, who finished in third place in the division last season.

Coming off of an 8-8 season, the Cardinals lost the centerpiece of their offense this offseason with the retirement of QB Carson Palmer. That led to the Cardinals using their first-round draft pick on QB Josh Rosen — taking him with the 10th overall pick — and signing veteran QBs Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon to compete for the starting job. Bradford is probably the best of that group, but none of the three is likely to have much upside. There was good news for the offense as RB David Johnson, who suffered a season-ending wrist injury in Week 1 last year, is ready to return to the field this season. And WR Larry Fitzgerald, who contemplated retirement, ultimately decided to return for his 15th season with the team. The team added to the receiving corps by signing WR Brice Butler and selecting WR Christian Kirk in the second round of the draft. The Cardinals also have a new head coach, with Steve Wilks replacing Bruce Arians and getting his first shot at being a head coach in the NFL.

The offense ranked 22nd in the league with 5,026 yards and 25th with 295 points last season. Bradford only started two games for the Vikings last season, going 32-for-43 for 382 yards and three touchdowns, and Glennon started four games for the Bears in which he threw for 833 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions. Fitzgerald had another strong season in 2017, recording 109 receptions for 1,156 yards and six touchdowns. WR JJ Nelson had 29 catches for 508 yards and two touchdowns, while rookie TE Ricky Seals-Jones had 12 catches for 201 yards and three scores in limited playing time over 10 games, including one start. Butler had 15 catches for 317 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games, but no starts, with the Cowboys. There wasn’t much of a running game with Johnson out and the running backs who had most of the carries last season — notable Adrian Peterson and Kerwynn Williams — are no longer with the team. The defense ranked sixth in yards allowed but was 19th in points allowed last season.

The Cardinals begin their 2018 campaign with a home game against the Redskins, then play at the Rams in Week 2. That is followed by home games with the Bears and Seahawks in Weeks 3 and 4, respectively. The Cardinals have a two-game road trip after that, with games at the 49ers and Vikings before returning home to play the Broncos and 49ers in Weeks 7 and 8. After a Week 9 bye, the Cardinals have three straight games against AFC West foes. They visit the Chiefs in Week 10, host the Raiders in Week 11 and hit the road again to play the Chargers in Week 12. They stay on the road in Week 13, playing the Packers at Lambeau Field. The Cardinals host the LIons in Week 14 and visit the Falcons in Week 15, then finish the season with a home game against the Rams in Week 16 and pay a visit to Seattle to battle the Seahawks in Week 17.

It’s not looking like a good season for the Cardinals, who figure to have one of the worst offenses in the league this season. Bradford is currently expected to begin the season as the starting quarterback, but with his injury history he probably won’t finish the year in that capacity. Glennon has never been a great quarterback, and Rosen is a rookie who may not be ready to play at a NFL-caliber level in 2018. The lower level of quarterback play that the Cardinals are likely to have compared to what they got out of Palmer will probably lead to worse numbers for Fitzgerald than what he has done throughout much of his career. Johnson will probably have to be the workhorse in the offense, but is unlikely going to be able to carry the team enough for them to have a good year. After a .500 record last season, the Cardinals may be looking at just five or six wins in 2018 in their first season of the post-Palmer era.

Source: http://www.azcardinals.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

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5th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: Miami Dolphins

Our previews of all 32 NFL teams continue as we move on to the next team in the AFC East, the Miami Dolphins, who finished in third place in the division last season.

The Dolphins were without QB Ryan Tannehill last season and called upon a coming-out-of-retirement Jay Cutler to lead the team on the field. The resulting 6-10 record was a four-game regression from 2016, when they made the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Tannehill is back now and ready to come  back from the season-ending knee injury he suffered last preseason. New to the team this year are veteran RB Frank Gore, WR Danny Amendola, DE Robert Quinn and backup quarterbacks Brock Osweiler and Bryce Petty. Among the team’s notable draftees are first-round pick S Minkah Fitzpatrick and RB Kalen Ballage, one of the team’s two fourth-round picks. Gone are WR Jarvis Landry, DT Ndamukong Suh and TE Julius Thomas.

With Cutler at the helm, the Dolphins finished 25th in the NFL with 4,923 yards and 28th with 281 points last season. When Tannehill last played in 2016, he threw for 2,995 yards, 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 13 games. Last season, WR Kenny Stills had 58 receptions for 847 yards and six touchdowns and WR DeVante Parker had 57 catches for 670 yards and one touchdown in 13 games. With the Patriots, Amendola caught 61 balls for 659 yards and two touchdowns in 15 games. RB Kenyan Drake took over as the team’s primary running back after the Dolphins traded Jay Ajayi to the Eagles, and in his 16 games — including six starts — Drake carried the ball 133 times for 644 yards and three touchdowns. Gore had 261 carries last season for the Colts, totaling 961 yards with three touchdowns. The Dolphins’ defense was in the middle of the league in yards allowed, but the defensive unit allowed the fourth-most points in the league.

The Dolphins’ schedule begins with a Week 1 home game against the Titans before they visit the Jets in Week 2. They return home to host the Raiders in Week 3. They play the Patriots in Foxborough in Week 4, then travel to Cincinnati for a meeting with the Bengals. After home games against the Bears and Lions, the Dolphins head to Houston to take on the Texans in Week 8. After that, they host the Jets and visit the Packers at Lambeau Field before getting a Week 11 bye. Coming out of the bye, the Dolphins visit the Colts and host the Bills and Patriots in Weeks 13 and 14, respectively. Week 15 sends the Dolphins to Minneapolis to take on the Vikings. They then host the Jaguars and visit the Bills to finish out the regular season in Week 17.

The offense should be better with Tannehill back than it was with a past-his-prime Cutler, who came out of retirement to play last season. But the Dolphins traded away one of the league’s best receivers in Landry. He had 112 receptions last season, which opens the door for other receivers like Stills and Parker to step up their games and become bigger pieces of the offense. Ajayi should get the majority of the rushing workload, with Gore taking over when he needs a breather, but don’t be surprised if Ballage gets worked into the team’s gameplan more as the season progresses and the rookie knows more of the team’s playbook and gains more experience. The Patriots should easily win the division again this season, but the Dolphins may finish in second place. With the AFC being more wide open than the NFC, they could compete for one of the conference’s two wild cards.

Source: http://www.miamidolphins.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

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5th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: Buffalo Bills

The AFC East is the next division in our previews of all 32 NFL teams, beginning with the Buffalo Bills, who finished in second place in the division last season.

The Bills surprised many people by going 9-7 last season and making the playoffs for the first time since 1999, ending the longest playoff drought of any team in the four major U.S. pro sports. Their Wild Card playoff game, however, is best forgotten after losing to the Jaguars 10-3 in a game that wasn’t very good. The Bills traded QB Tyrod Taylor to the Browns this offseason for a third-round draft pick, which they turned into DT Harrison Phillips. To fill the quarterback position with Taylor gone, the Bills signed QB A.J. McCarron and drafted Wyoming QB Josh Allen in the first round. They also still have QB Nathan Peterman, who primarily served as Taylor’s backup in 2017. The Taylor deal wasn’t the only trade the Bills made with the Browns; during training camp, they also acquired WR Corey Coleman from Cleveland for a to-be-determined draft pick. Other acquisitions for the Bills this offseason include WR Jeremy Kerley and RB Chris Ivory.

The Bills had the fourth-worst offense in the NFL last season with 4,842 yards and their 302 points were the 11th-fewest in the league. Peterman played in four games last season, including two starts, and threw just 49 passes. He threw for 252 yards and two touchdowns with five interceptions, all coming in his first career start in Week 11 at the Chargers. McCarron only threw 14 passes last season for 66 in three appearances while serving as the backup to Andy Dalton with the Bengals. RB LeSean McCoy was the only Bill to have more than 50 receptions last season; he had 59 for 448 yards and two touchdowns. TE Charles Clay caught 49 balls for a team-high 558 yards and two touchdowns in 13 games. In the six games WR Kelvin Benjamin played with the Bills after being traded from the Panthers, he had 16 catches for 217 yards and a score. Rookie WR Zay Jones added 27 receptions for 316 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games. With the Jets, Kerley had 22 catches for 217 yards and one touchdown in eight games. McCoy carried the ball 287 times for 1,138 yards and six touchdowns. Ivory had 112 rushes for 382 yards and one touchdown in 14 games — three starts — with the Jaguars. On defense, the Bills were near the bottom of the league in yards allowed and middle-of-the-pack with points allowed.

The Bills open their season at the Ravens, then come home to play the Chargers in Week 2. They face two NFC North opponents on the road after that, taking on the Vikings in Week 3 and the Packers at Lambeau Field in Week 4. A home game with the Titans is on deck for Week 5, followed by a road game against the Texans. After a Week 7 visit to the Colts, the Bills host the Patriots and Bears in Weeks 8 and 9, respectively. They visit the Jets in Week 10, then have their bye in Week 11. The Bills host the Jaguars in Week 12, then visit the Dolphins a week later. After a Week 14 divisional battle with the Jets in Buffalo, the Bills host the Lions in Week 15. They finish the regular season with a Week 16 road game at the Patriots and a home contest with the Dolphins in Week 17.

I think the Bills took a step backwards with some of the moves they made this offseason, particularly trading Taylor to the Browns. None of the quarterbacks now on the Bills’ roster are better than Taylor. Allen is obviously a rookie, but I don’t expect him to have a good season, if he gets a chance to play. It was believed that McCarron — who was originally thought to be the frontrunner to be the Week 1 starter — suffered a fractured collarbone in the team’s second preseason game, but further tests indicated that was not the case. It could, however, be a setback that opens the door for Allen to get the starting job after Peterman’s less-than-stellar performances when he was on the field last season. Given the quarterback situation, I’m not sure the trade for Coleman will help the Bills much because of who is throwing him the ball. Another concern for the Bills is the status of McCoy, who could face a suspension during the season for an alleged domestic violence incident. The Bills will have WR Rod Streater, who missed all of last season after he suffered a preseason toe injury. Overall, I think the Bills are the worst team in the AFC East and could win just five or six games. But I don’t expect them to make another playoff appearance.

Source: http://www.buffalobills.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

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5th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: Atlanta Falcons

As our previews of all 32 NFL teams continue, we turn our attention to the NFC South, beginning the division with the Atlanta Falcons, who came in third place in the division last season .

A season after playing in Super Bowl LI the Falcons finished in third place in the NFC South, but their 10-6 record was good enough to earn one of the conference’s wild cards. The Falcons still have one of the top quarterback-receiver tandems in the league with QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones, and they added to their offensive depth this offseason by taking WR Calvin Ridley with their first pick in the draft. They also signed TE Logan Paulsen to serve as the No. 2 at the position.

The offense ranked eighth in the NFL last season with 5,837 yards and they were 15th with 353 points. Ryan’s 2017 numbers were down significantly from 2016; he threw for 4,095 yards with 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Jones had 88 receptions for 1,444 yards — which was the second most in the league — but just three touchdowns. WR Mohamed Sanu caught 67 balls for 703 yards and five touchdowns in 15 games, and TE Austin Hooper added 49 catches for 526 yards and three touchdowns. RB Devonta Freeman was the team’s top rusher with 196 attempts for 865 yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games, adding 36 receptions for another 317 yards and a touchdown. RB Tevin Coleman played in 15 games, including three starts, and ran the ball 156 times for 628 yards and five touchdowns, with another three scores through the air. The Falcons were pretty good defensively, as well, ranking ninth in yards allowed and eighth in points allowed.

The Falcons’ season begins with the season opener as they visit the Super Bowl LII champion Eagles on the first Thursday night of the season. After that they have three straight home games, beginning with divisional rivals the Panthers and Saints, followed by the Bengals in Week 4. They then head to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers in Week 5 before hosting the Buccaneers in Week 6. The Falcons host the Giants in Week 7 before their Week 8 bye. Coming out of the off week, they have consecutive road games at the Redskins and Browns. A home date with the Cowboys is on the slate for Week 11, followed by a Week 12 game at the Saints. The Falcons head to Lambeau Field to take on the Packers in Week 14 and host the Cardinals in Week 15. They then end the regular season with back-to-back road games, at the Panthers and Buccaneers.

The NFC South is a tough division, with three of the four teams having made the playoffs a year ago. The Falcons may be the best all-around team in the division, with a strong offense and a defense that was in the top 10 in the league in 2017. If the defense can continue that success into this season, it will help the Falcons stay out of shootouts against teams like the Saints and Falcons. They have a relatively easy schedule on paper, including a game with the Browns. I think the Falcons should be able to get to double-digit wins again this year, with another postseason appearance likely for the team that hopes to return to the Super Bowl after a one-year hiatus.

Source: http://www.atlantafalcons.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

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5th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: Minnesota Vikings

Our previews of all 32 NFL teams over the course of 32 days leading up to the start of the season, continues as the NFC North comes to an end with the Minnesota Vikings, who won the division last season.

The Vikings came within a game of making it to Super Bowl LII last season, losing to the Eagles in the NFC Championship, after finishing the regular season 13-3. Despite that success, they didn’t stand pat and stick with the same team this season. Instead of doing that, they signed QB Kirk Cousins to a three-year contract, with $84 million guaranteed. He’s replacing QB Case Keenum, who was the starter for the bulk of the 2017 season. Other signings this offseason included WR Kendall Wright and DT Sheldon Richardson, That’ll help them stay atop the division and fight off an expected challenge from the Packers, who are coming off a disappointing season because of a shoulder injury to QB Aaron Rodgers.

The Vikings’ offense finished 11th in the NFL with 5,710 yards and 10th with 382 points scored last season. With the Redskins, Cousins threw for 4,093 yards — almost 900 fewer yards than 2016 — with 27 touchdowns and a career-high 13 interceptions. His favorite target was WR Adam Thielen, who had 91 receptions for 1,276 yards but just four touchdowns. WR Stefon Diggs caught 64 balls for 849 yards and eight touchdowns in 14 games, while TE Kyle Rudolph added 532 yards and eight scores on 57 catches. On the ground, RB Latavius Murray carried the ball 216 times for 842 yards and eight touchdowns. Rookie RB Dalvin Cook was limited to four games, but he ran for 354 yards and two touchdowns on 74 carries. The defense led the league in both yards and points allowed.

The schedule sees the Vikings opening at home against the 49ers before heading to Lambeau Field for a battle with the Packers in Week 2. After a Week 4 game at the Rams, the Vikings have to fly across the country to Philadelphia for a Week 5 rematch with the Eagles. They host the Saints and Lions in Weeks 8 and 9, respectively, before getting their bye in Week 10. The Vikings visit the Bears in Week 11 and host the Packers in Week 12. Next on the docket is a Week 13 matchup at the Patriots. That leads to another cross-country trip, as they play the Seahawks in Seattle in Week 14. The season wraps up with a home game against the Dolphins in Week 15, a road game against the Lions in Week 16 and a final home contest with the Bears in Week 17.

The Vikings won 13 games last season and seem to have improved their team this offseason, with Cousins in particular an improvement over Keenum. They’ll face tougher competition in the division with Rodgers’ returning from his injury for Green Bay, but the Vikings probably have a better team than the Packers, so they should repeat as division champs. The offense is improved with Cousins and there’s no reason to think the defense will take a step back after it was the best unit in the league a season ago. Cook will have an increased role in the offense, which should improve the running back if he reaches the expectations the Vikings had when they drafted him. The Vikings should win back-to-back NFC North titles this season.

Sources: http://www.vikings.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

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5th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: Green Bay Packers

The next NFC North team in our continuing preview of all 32 NFL teams over the course of 32 days (or so) leading up to the start of the 2017 season is the Green Bay Packers, who are coming off a third-place finish in the division.

The Packers’ streak of eight straight playoff appearances ended last season, due to QB Aaron Rodgers missing most of the season with a fractured collarbone. He suffered the injury in Week 6, then only played one more game — in Week 15 — the rest of the season. Without him, the team went just 3-6 and finished 2017 with a disappointing 7-9 record, the franchise’s first sub-.500 mark since 2008. Getting a healthy Rodgers back is the biggest “acquisition” they Packers made this offseason, but as far as signings they added TE Jimmy Graham and CB Tramon Williams in free agency. The biggest loss the Packers had this offseason was WR Jordy Nelson, who they released after nine seasons with the team.

With Rodgers missing several games, the offense ranked in the bottom 10 in the NFL with 4,891 yards and in the bottom half of the league with 320 points scored. In his seven starts, Rodgers threw for 1,675 yards and 16 touchdowns, with six interceptions; QB Brett Hundley put up worse numbers in more starts. WR Davante Adams was the team’s leading receiver, recording 74 receptions for 885 yards and 10 touchdowns in 14 games, and WR Randall Cobb added 653 yards and four touchdowns on 66 catches in 15 games. With the Seahawks, Graham had 57 receptions for 520 yards and 10 scores. RB Jamaal Williams was the biggest part of the ground game, though his numbers weren’t that impressive; he ran the ball 153 times for 556 yards and four touchdowns. RB Aaron Jones had 448 yards and four touchdowns on 81 carries in 12 games. RB Ty Montgomery was limited to eight games — five starts — and had 71 rushes for 273 yards and three touchdowns. The defense ranked in the bottom half of the league in both yards and points allowed.

The Packers get a prime-time home game to open the season, hosting the Bears at Lambeau Field in the Sunday-night game in Week 1. They have another home game in Week 2, this one coming against the Vikings. They hit the road to take on the Redskins in Week 3. Week 5 has them at the Lions, and they host the 49ers in Week 6, with a bye following that game. The Packers have two tough road tests coming out of the bye, taking on the Rams in Week 8, then flying across the country to battle the Patriots the following week. They return home to face the Dolphins in Week 10, and Graham gets a homecoming when the Packers travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks in Week 11. A road game at the Vikings is up next in Week 12. After hosting the Falcons in Week 14, the schedule appears to get easier for the Packers in the final three weeks of the season. After road games at the Bears and Jets in Weeks 15 and 16, respectively, the Packers wrap up the regular season at Lambeau when they take on the Lions.

Last year’s losing record was obviously an aberration caused by Rodgers missing significant time with the collarbone injury. Getting him back will clearly help the offense, but not having Nelson could take some getting used to for Rodgers. Adding Graham to the team, though, gives the quarterback what is potentially the best tight end he has had since taking over for Brett Favre as the team’s starter. Despite a subpar defense, the offense should be good enough to get the Packers back into the 10-win range as they will likely be battling the Vikings to see which team ultimately wins the NFC North.

Sources: http://www.packers.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

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5th Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: Detroit Lions

We continue our previews of all 32 NFL teams over the course of 32 days (or so) leading up to the start of the 2018 season in the  NFC North with the Detroit Lions, who are coming off a second-place finish in the division last season.

The Lions are coming off of two straight 9-7 seasons and the team remains largely intact at the skill positions, other than releasing oft-injured TE Eric Ebron, who is being replaced by TE Luke Willson. They added some running-back depth, inking free-agent RB LeGarrette Blount to a contract and selecting RB Kerryon Johnson in the second round of the draft. They need all the offense they can get because they could be involved in some shootouts in a division with teams like the Vikings and Packers, who can point points on the scoreboard. They have first-year head coach joining the team in longtime Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.

The Lions were in the top half of the NFL last season with 5,404 yards and their 410 points was the seventh most in the league. Those positive results on offense are largely because of QB Matthew Stafford, who had his best season since 2013 and one of the best of his career. He threw for 4,446 yards and 29 touchdowns witht 10 interceptions. WR Golden Tate led the team with 92 receptions, accumulating 1,003 yards and five touchdowns. But WR Marvin Jones had team highs with 1,101 yards and nine scores on 61 catches. Rookie WR Kenny Golladay had 28 catches for 477 yards and three touchdowns in five games. RB Ameer Abdullah was the team’s leading rusher, carrying the ball 165 times for 552 yards and four touchdowns and RB Theo Riddick had 286 yards and three touchdowns on 84 rushes. In the passing game, he caught 53 balls for 444 yards and two touchdowns. The defense ranked sixth in yards allowed and 12th in points allowed.

In Week 1, the Lions host the Jets on Monday night, then head out to San Francisco to play the 49ers. They host the Patriots in Week 3, the visit the Cowboys in Week 4. The Lions’ first divisional game comes in Week 5 when they host the Packers. Their bye follows, with a road game against the Dolphins in Week 7. They have back-to-back divisional road games in Weeks 9 and 10, taking on the Vikings and Bears, respectively. Following that, the Lions have home games against the Panthers, Bears and Rams. They face a tough last two weeks of the season, hosting the Vikings in Week 16 and heading to Lambeau Field in Week 17 to take on the Packers.

The Lions have a pretty complete team with a good offense led by Stafford and a stout defense. The running game wasn’t great last year, but the team is hoping to turn that around after drafting Johnson. Golladay should be a bigger part of the passing game in his second season in the league after missing five games with a hamstring injury last season. They’re probably around a nine- or 10-win team again this year, but that may only be good enough for third place in the division — unlike last year when the Packers had a worse-than-expected record because of QB Aaron Rodgers missing several games with an injury.

Sources: http://www.detroitlions.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

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