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By Stefan Anderson

After facing all the turmoil and adversity that one can have, Ray Rice has finally reached his decision. Following an indefinite suspension and being released by his home for over six seasons, the Rutgers standout received his justice his suspension was appealed and Rice was reinstated into the National Football League.

Now that the 3 time pro bowler has been reinstated in the league, which NFL team is willing to let by bygones be bygones and add an exceptional running back to their roster. Rolling the dice on Ray Rice could cost franchise lots of money or fans depending on the location of the organization. But it always takes that one dedicated teams that doesn’t worry about outside factors and could use a premier running back to help make their roster better.

Teams willing to take on Rice following his domestic abuse incident is not completely over. Among the teams that are willing to sign former 1,000 yard rusher, include the Indianapolis Colts, Atlanta Falcons and The New Orleans Saints, who are all on the cusp of the playoff race and could use the talents of Ray Rice.

Some teams that have not been mentioned that could Ray Rice include:

Buffalo Bills: The Bills are currently knocking on the door for the AFC Wild Card and could certainly use Rice’s expertise and rushing attack after losing their premier rushers Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller.

Detroit Lions: Ranking 30th in rushing yards in the league, the Lions could propel themselves to a NFC North division title with the added rush of Ray Rice. The 3-time pro bowler could give the Lions an added dimension, Rice could catch passes out the backfield along with providing rushing between the tackles what they have been searching for with Bush and Bell.

Arizona Cardinals: Second to last in rushing this season , the Cards still maintain the NFL’s best record, but if the Cards were to add Rice to their roster they can become a real contender for the Lombardi Trophy. Rice could help the Cards control the clock and game as they continue to air it out and control offenses with their stingy defense. Taking some pressure of the inexperienced Drew Stanton would be a tremendous addition and the best fit in my opinion.

Ultimately, Ray Rice would have to get back in NFL shape in a short amount of time, but his talent alone will enhance his chances to get back on the field. Would love to see him back on the field before seasons end looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

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Don’t Forget About Me

underdog QBsBy Stefan Anderson

Brady, Manning, Rodgers, Brees , the elite quarterback cohort that often gets mentions and set the standard on what young QB’s should follow. The praise these men receive are given at the right cause due to their performance on the field. But there are some quarterbacks that go under the radar day by day and should make their mark shortly.

When I think about those signal callers that get overshadowed, two of the most accurate QB’s in the game come to mind, Phillip Rivers and Russell Wilson. The two not only share a tie for the highest completion rate at 70.3 percent and the same Alma matter NC State, but if they continue their level of play will be at the top of voters list for Most Valuable Player.

Russell Wilson, returning of the season where received the Super Bowl MVP beating one of the greatest leaders of all time Peyton Manning , still continues to show that he has what it takes to be a great quarterback in the NFL. Since taking over the position in 2012, the Richmond, VA native has had a 27-9 record as a starter, including a career 100.2 QBR.

A lot of critics often give Wilson the label of being a “game manager” but the duel threat has been efficient and consistent since 2012.

Since 2012, Wilson has remained in the top-ten in completion rate, touchdowns and game winning drives just to name a few statistics. This season, Wilson continue to play on a high level as he continues to lead his Seahawks into their title defense, as Seattle posts a 3-1 record, with 8 touchdowns and 1 interception on his account.

The only team that was able to win against the Seattle Seahawks was the San Diego Chargers, led by Phillip Rivers. The former first round draft of the Giants went 284 yards and 3 touchdowns over the leagues most feared secondary “The Legion of Boom”.

Rivers has been in the NFL for over a decade and has been over looked by many but has played with that chip on his shoulder throughout the years and his unprecedented stats speak for themselves.

The Chargers signal caller has been neck and neck with that elite cohort, in each and every category. Amongst active players, Rivers is in the the top ten in the following categories: Passing Yards, YPG, TD’s and has the 3rd highest passer rating of 98.6, where he is ahead of players like Tom Brady and Drew Brees.

If both of these quarterbacks continue to play the high levels that they have been playing at this season they will finally receive the recognition they deserve.

Easy Like Sunday Morning

nfl dramaBy Stefan Anderson

The past few years have some given the National Football League has experienced its fair share of controversy including BountyGate, rule changes, concussion settlements, have all put a damper on one of America’s favorite sports.

This past week has been no different, as the soap opera continues to overshadow the league. Everything that has occurred of the week should result in necessary change for the NFL.

Fans and players of the NFL have witnessed more storylines then we have seen games played. In only the 2nd week of the season, Ray Rice was on the brink of serving his final week of suspension stemming from a domestic violence incident between him and his wife earlier in the year.

A video of the incident by TMZ, a “credible” news source, and given to was given to various media outlets worldwide and making the situation even worse. The Baltimore Ravens then cut Ray Rice was suspended by the NFL indefinitely.

The league’s Commissioner Roger Goodell had “no idea” that had the actions were that brutal and only seen the video once TMZ released.  This makes absolutely no sense to most including myself when weeks previously Goodell and the NFL brass implemented a new policy on domestic abuse which gives a six-game suspension without pay for the first offense and a lifetime ban for a second offense.

The NFL is now being investigated for its poor handling of the situation and can result in appeal for Rice or some serious actions the hierarchy of National Football League.

That was only the beginning of the week, on Friday; Adrian Peterson was indicted on charges of endangerment of child welfare after he reportedly struck his son with a switch leaving many lacerations. Peterson is who is currently inactive, is facing charges and could possibly face jail time based on the action in court.

Regardless of the fact the players have many irresponble actions, their choice indulge in what they choose, is simply their decision. Not justifying any of their situations as a human being, but the scrutiny that these athletes have faced recently is simply outrageous. I understand that get paid millions of dollars and should have sound judgment on most situations but at the end of the day they are football players.

I do not believe it’s solely on the players why these actions are happening, I believe it comes from Roger Goodell and his staff for not having control of the league.  The actions of the NFL’s head honcho has created a league in which more concern has been what happens outside of the field then what happens on the field.

The league that grosses nearly 9 billion a year has put its focus on the wrong things and have taken away from the integrity of the game. Ultimately it should lead to a new commissioner and new leadership to give the league a better outlook and fresh perspective.

We have now seen great athletes like Wes Walker, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy, Josh Gordon and Ray Rice just to name few all sideline not due to injury but to extra-curricular activities. If It continues the way things are we will end up missing many more great talent of the game.

Must See TV

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By Kelsey Miller

 

The NFL schedule was released last week and the fans are once again, ready for some football. Take a look at my must see games for the 2014 season.

The historic matchup between the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys in Week 17 will be one for the books. The Redskins are finally looking to have an elite offense compared to other teams in the competitive NFC East division. Redskins Quarterback RGIII, running back Alfred Morris, rising tight end Jordan Reed, and newly added receiver Desean Jackson will help the Redskins become more of a threat. The Dallas Cowboys, who parted ways with defensive anchorman DeMarcus Ware, will need more leaders to step up to the plate. Neither Tony Romo nor Dez Bryant is current top seeds in their positions which make a hard example for teammates to follow. These two teams always show up in full force to play each other at the end of the season. The classic rivalry has much more meaning than the ability of the players themselves.

My next pick will be America’s Game of The Week. The Week 1 match-up between the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos will certainly draw viewer attention. Peyton Manning ended the season with 55 touchdown passes and a quarterback rating of 115.1. DeMarcus Ware joins the Broncos this season and will benefit from having Von Miller playing on the same side as him. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has big shoes to fill and veteran receiver Hakeem Nicks has an opportunity to pair up with receiver Reggie Wayne and be offensive weapons.

The Super Bowl rematch will be better than the last time these two teams met. Last year’s game did not go well for the Broncos and the Seahawks defense made Peyton Manning look like a rookie. Besides the monstrous Seahawks defense, Russell Wilson is charging in as the leader of the team and coming to make a huge name for himself in the NFL. He continues to prove the critics wrong by being one of the shortest at his position and remain elite.

In Week 8, the Baltimore Ravens will face the Cincinnati Bengals. Baltimore needs to come out strong in their first game with a division opponent so far along in the season. They are coming off of a season shy of making the playoffs after winning the Super Bowl the year before. Cincinnati receiver AJ Greene is looking forward to having another great season after finishing last season with 11 TD, 98 catches, and 1400 plus receiving yards.

Last but not least, the New Orleans Saints will face off with the Carolina Panthers in Week 9. Quarterback Cam Newton is entering the season after his first playoff appearance and Luke Kuechly was named the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year. Without Darren Sproles in the backfield for New Orleans, the weight is going to be on Drew Brees shoulders to keep the offense afloat. This will be New Orleans second year back with Sean Payton following the bounty suspension. It’s safe to say, I cannot wait until the NFL show gets on the road.

Carpe Diem: Free Agency Winners

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By Stefan Anderson

The NFL Free Agency period has begun and many teams were put in unfortunate situations and some teams were in better positions also. With that we have seen many big names hit the free agent pool unexpectedly and some that were bound for their big pay day. Teams were who watched the Seattle Seahawks hoist up the Vince Lombardi trophy this winter were all dreaming of having their team witness the same nostalgia , following up with the champagne and confetti showers.

Although the Seahawks built their team through the conventional way of drafting the majority of their team, they also had to fill in the necessary spots with veteran free agents and players that could fit their schemes well. So far throughout the offseason, these few NFL teams have made their steps in route of righting the ship or tightening the loose on ends of their franchise by making the blockbuster and under the radar moves for this upcoming season.

  •  New England Patriots: After suffering the defeat their arch nemesis Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos during this year AFC Championship, the Pats are on their reign for dominance once again. The Pats went out and signed WR Brandon Lafell to give Tom Brady another target, while resigning one of his favorite targets Julian Edelman. The Patriots also boosted their defense by acquiring defensive backs Brandon Browner (formerly of the Seahawks) and former arch rival Darrell “Revis Island” Revis to withhold a secondary that just lost their star corner Aqib Talib.  The two aggressive corners in Bill Belichick’s defensive scheme will be a great one to watch as they try to take the Broncos from their AFC throne.
  • Denver Broncos: Still tasting the bitter taste of their Super Bowl defeat , for use of better words, the Broncos were very active this offseason adding talent to their already talented roster. After releasing their future hall of famer, Champ Bailey, GM John Elway went forward to sign defensive backs Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward to help the team’s secondary. Also on defensive they went to sign the recently cut pro-bowler Demarcus Ware to pass rush alongside Von Miller, scary site right? The Broncos continued their efforts after stacking up their defense by adding WR Emmanuel Sanders to replace Eric Decker who recently signed with the New York Jets. Still feeling the hangover of Super Bowl 48, Denver looks to return the same place and bring a championship this year instead.
  • New York Giants: The Giants looks to have a promising season against their competition and return the NFC playoffs. After a horrendous season where the fell from their prominence shown in years before, the Giants look to rebound after their free agent additions. They started on the Defensive by signing Dominque Rogers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond to help their already good pass defense that ranked 10th last season. Also on the offensive side by bringing in running back Rashad Jennings and re-signing Peyton Hillis to help one the league’s worst rushing attacks last year.
  • Oakland Raiders: Yes, I know I said the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders have been one of the most active teams this offseason, under the radar but working diligently. Adding veterans with Super Bowl pedigree like Lamar Woodley and Justin Tuck to add to the defensive side of the football, the Raiders look to compete in the tough AFC West division. Also signing OT Austin Howard and resigning Khalif Barnes and also adding WR James Jones. Oakland is looking to look to acquire a QB that holster their offense this season, names like Michael Vick, Matt Schaub and Mark Sanchez are on the Raiders target list.

Carpe Diem is to urge someone to make the most of the present time and give little thought to the future and these few teams have done so by becoming the NFL’s biggest winners during Free Agency.

Cut Costs, Cut Your Losses

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By Stefan Anderson

Cut costs and budget properly, an economical statement that applies to many facets of life, is now taken place in the National Football League. With free agency starting beginning yesterday, many teams are aligning themselves to stock up on their roster and compete for this year’s upcoming NFL season. Also with the collective bargaining agreement and salary cap laws team have to remain under the salary cap.

The 2014 salary cap is currently, 133 million per team, but that doesn’t mean every team’s spending power is the same. Teams can choose to carry over unused cap space from the prior year, as 29 teams did this year. That carryover from each team’s salary cap are combined with final calculations of incentives, escalators, bonuses and other factors that will give teams the option of their  own unique spending limit.

With the new spending limit teams will make big rosters as some teams already have done:

Notable signings:

  • Denver Broncos have acquired Aquib Talib and T.J. Ward
  • New Orleans Saints have signed Safety Jarius Byrd
  • Philadelphia Eagles added safety Malcolm Jenkins
  • Tampa Bay brought in Alterraun Verner along with Micheal Johnson

Along with the teams adding stars to their team, there is another aspect of free agency that is groundbreaking this year. With so many teams in fear of going over the salary cap, many teams are forced restructure their star player’s contracts or ultimately release them.  With that comes a lot of perennial pro bowlers are faced with something some have not been faced with in years, Free Agency.  The list of players that now have to face free agency to cut costs on their teams include: Demarcus Ware, Darrell Revis, Julius Peppers, Jared Allen, Champ Bailey and Michael Vick just to name a few.

Nothing wrong with the players having to face the difficult situation, I believe that this gives the league a balance.  Now with so many high profile free agents out there teams that could get a Darrell Revis or Demarcus Ware, could now go out and weigh their options into acquiring the big name talents. It is a great thing for the thing league and gives every team the opportunity to build up their rosters with not only draft picks but good free agents.

With the upcoming draft and a lot of great free agents hitting the market, the 2014 NFL season should be a great one to watch.