Posts by scottsimpkin

Cam Newton vs Broncos defense holds the key to the outcome of Superbowl 50.

beer and football Super Bowl 50

This Sunday, I predict Carolina will produce the goods offensively when it matters and Cam Newton will be MVP

Get your 6 packs of American beer, put the nachos in the oven, and get the popcorn ready for a long night stint. Superbowl 50 is not an event to be missed, even for the soft Brits!

This Superbowl will be fascinating, because it will almost certainly be decided by one key battle: The Panthers offense versus the Broncos defense. The Broncos booked their place on Sunday because they have the best defence in the NFL by an absolute mile. Their defense has been so good that a few pundits have resurrected the famous phrase “Orange Crush” used to describe the legendary defensive unit of 1977-79. With household names that would scare any quarterback – Miller, Ware and Wolfe, and threats against in the backfield to boot, there’s plenty to worry the Panthers, who haven’t had much to worry about until this point.

Tom Brady couldn’t quite unlock the Broncos defence, so can Cam Newton? The first thing to note: The Broncos have been excellent against pocket quarterbacks like Brady, but less good against more dynamic all-rounders. Alex Smith, one such dynamic quarterback, dismantled the Broncos in their only significant loss of the regular season. So the evidence is there that Cam’s scintillating form could continue, even against the best defense in the NFL. The Panthers will not run away in the first half like they did in their two previous playoff games, but they may just be able to find the key to unlock the Broncos defense with their dynamism.

If the Broncos do manage to keep up their excellent defensive record, they have to keep the chains moving on their own drives. After all, there is no point in keeping points off the board if you can’t put then on yourself. Peyton Manning may be an NFL legend, but he has a questionable playoff record (13 wins and 13 losses), has had an unremarkable season by his standards, and doesn’t have the same weapons around him as he did 2 years ago when the Broncos last made the Superbowl. Demaryius Thomas has also not been as successful receiving in previous years, and the team seem reliant on their solid running game and Emmanuel Sanders’ receiving yards. They face a Carolina defense with a Pro-Bowler in every part of the field, a terrifying proposition for a team already struggling with confidence with the ball in hand.

Carolina on the other hand, have no such problems moving down the field. Even if the Broncos restrict them to one and two yard gains and a few incompletions, Newton has been throwing 30-yard passes to devastating effect all season. With Greg Olsen and Corey Brown in form in the receiving positions, and Jonathan Stewart posting outrageous rushing numbers in the post-season, the Panthers undoubtedly have enough big plays in their arsenal.

If you believe in superstition, the Broncos are wearing white on Sunday, and have never won the Superbowl in their famous orange. The famous phrase “Offense sells tickets, Defence wins championships” has been knocking around a bit – which obviously favours the Broncos. Having said that, superstition and traditional phrases seem to be the only indications of a Broncos win. Carolina are 17-1 all season, Cam Newton is unstoppable and everything that has happened up to this moment makes you think it may be Carolina’s year. It will be a low scoring close affair, but Carolina will produce the goods offensively when it matters, Newton will be MVP, and Panthers fans will be talking about this season for decades to come.

 


Scott AvatarSCOTT SIMPKIN is a UK sports journalist with a growing interest in sports in the US, particularly American football and baseball. He has previously contributed to publications including Palatinate Online and FourFourTwo.

Don’t Be Fooled by Hype: A Brit’s Picks for NFL Conference Championships this Weekend

Peyton Manning - Denver Broncos NFL

Manning will start, he will lose a record 14th playoff game, and Brady will be sizing up his Super Bowl ring finger.

After the breathtaking playoff drama, the results thus far appear to have gone by the books. The 1st seeded Broncos host the 2nd seeded Patriots for the AFC Championship, and the 1st seeded Panthers host the 2nd seeded Cardinals.

AFC Championship Game

The game at Mile-High feels like the worthy culmination of the AFC championship this year. The best two teams on paper from the start of the year, and possibly the last time we will ever see the epic Manning v Brady match-up under center. The only evidence we have to go by is an OT win for the Broncos in November that ended the Patriots perfect season, and considering how tight that contest was, this should be a tough game to pick a winner from.

In terms of playoff form, there is nothing much to reveal either. Both New England and Denver cruised into the Championship game in the end, though the Broncos might have been a bit jittery coming into the fourth quarter. Nothing unexpected happened either, except maybe the Broncos decision to go back to old faithful, Peyton Manning, instead of sticking with his very impressive replacement Brock Osweiler.

This decision may well hold the key predicting the outcome of this game. Manning was unimpressive in Denver’s victory over Pittsburgh, and with the body clock ticking and a questionable playoff record, it’s hard to see anything other than Brady taking centre stage. However, the Patriots are far from invincible, and their over-reliant passing game has shown signs of coming unstuck. Their defence against the run also came unstuck against C.J Anderson last time out, meaning the Broncos won’t be reliant on Manning’s arm.

This is the playoffs though, and there have been far too many good examples of big time players carrying teams. Brady, Gronkowski, Edelman and company are big time players, and there is too much uncertainty over a talented Broncos team under pressure. If the Broncos pick Osweiler and mix things up a bit with some creative plays, they may come out on top… but they won’t. Manning will start, he will lose a record 14th playoff game, and Brady will be sizing up his Superbowl ring finger.

NFC Championship Game

Like the AFC game, this feels like the perfect culmination to the NFC. With the Packers and the Seahawks proving that they don’t quite have enough this season in the playoffs, the big boys rightly stepped aside for the long-time second fiddles. This is also the first time these teams have seen each other this season, so it will be a fascinating match-up.

In terms of playoff paths, the Panthers showed they have no problem with post-season inexperience when they took an experienced Seattle team to the cleaners with a scintillating first half display. The Carolina defence made Russell Wilson look like he’d never seen the Seahawk’s playbook with two key picks in the first half to virtually put the game to bed before it had even started. The Cardinals were also cruising against the Packers until Aaron Rodgers’ epic two Hail Marys showed up a worrying weakness in the Cardinals secondary. Crucially, however, Carson Palmer threw another 300-yard game. He has looked ruthlessly efficient with this season’s playbook, and there is no evidence to suggest he won’t be ruthlessly efficient against this Carolina defence. Whilst Carolina have all-pro players in each part of the defensive field, there are still weaknesses to exploit, and it could be argued very effectively they have not come up against an offence as solid in the air the Cardinals. Furthermore, the Cardinals have talent on the ground to back their scintillating passing game up.

It may be foolish to rule out a 15-1 team with an MVP potential quarterback, but I genuinely think the Panthers have only gone 15-1 because the NFC has not been particularly competitive. Don’t be fooled by the odds, don’t be fooled by the hype. Carolina have not faced a team as good as the Cardinals all season and they will come unstuck against this well balanced offence in Charlotte at the final hurdle.


Scott AvatarSCOTT SIMPKIN is a UK sports journalist with a growing interest in sports in the US, particularly American football and baseball. He has previously contributed to publications including Palatinate Online and FourFourTwo.


NFL Bets: 4 Thanksgiving Weekend Tips

Buccaneers to beat the Colts

The Bucs are on a winning streak and Jameis Winston is starting to look like the real deal. This Thanksgiving, NFL fans in Tampa Bay are just thankful that they have a team that looks like it can compete! The Colts have not been totally ‘Luck-Less’ (Matt Hasselbeck has proved himself a worthy replacement), but their ageing squad is showing signs of predictability and tiredness. Expect them to fizzle out and the Bucs to keep the good times rolling in Tampa.

Vikings to beat the Falcons

Don’t be fooled by Atlanta’s tasty looking 6-4 record… This is a team on the brink after four losses in five and a developing penchant for conceding turnovers. This is a team that also looked good at points last year, but really, the good times seem to be papering over deep cracks in this franchise. The Vikings, on the other hand, have only lost to two Superbowl contenders this season (Broncos and Packers), and display the consistency against lesser teams that the Falcons wish they had. Atlanta’s only hope is getting the same luck on the passing rush as Green Bay did last time out, but Minnesota should cruise this one and put another nail in the Falcons’ coffin.

Steelers to beat the Seahawks

This, arguably, is the boldest call of the lot. Earlier in the season I suggested that the Seahawks may struggle to make the playoffs with the Cardinals looking so good, and this is something I stand by after 11 weeks of football. The Seahawks have a point to prove after losing to every serious playoff contender they have played so far. The Steelers provide the latest challenge, since they are looking very good for at least a wild-card spot. This will all come to one of the most intriguing one-on-one matchups of the season: Pittsburgh’s irresistible wide receiver Antonio Brown against Seattle’s NFL legendary cornerback Richard Sherman. With Antonio Brown in scintillating form and question marks still lurking over the Seahawks post-season potential, Pittsburgh will end Seattle’s season here.

Patriots to beat the Broncos

The Patriots are a 16-0 team. There, I said it. They have overcome injuries to key players and whilst they haven’t always looked invincible, you know what they say about teams that still win when they don’t play their best… Tom Brady has been the once constant this season, and that is no co-incidence. His experience and brilliance have been too much for all 10 teams they have played this season, and whilst the Broncos will provide them with their toughest test so far, Mr Brady isn’t about to relinquish his chances of a post deflate-gate perfect season. Brock Osweiler is proving that the Broncos have a future past Peyton Manning, and they are certainly a playoff team, but the Patriots have all the answers and will find away past Denver on Monday night.


Scott AvatarSCOTT SIMPKIN is a UK sports journalist with a growing interest in sports in the US, particularly American football and baseball. He has previously contributed to publications including Palatinate Online and FourFourTwo.

Can the Seahawks dig themselves out of the 0-2 hole in the NFL’s NFC West?

Seattle SeahawksOne of the biggest stories at the start of this NFL season is that the Seahawks are occupying the basement of the NFC West. The team that won the 48th Superbowl, and should have won the 49th Superbowl have given themselves an uphill struggle to reach Superbowl 50. Is the mass hysteria justified, or will the Seahawks fly back on course in and reach the playoffs?

The context to the Seahawks’ losses is certainly the most important thing to analyse before declaring them a team in meltdown. The two losses have both been on the road, to the Green Bay Packers and St Louis Rams. The Packers are a formidable force, especially at home with Aaron Rogers in the kind of mood that saw him throw 9 for 9 and 91 yards in the 4th quarter. The Rams have been the Seahawks’ bogey team and the season opening loss marks the second time in two years Seattle have lost at the death in St Louis. Both of these losses were not expected, but they were predictable. The Seahawks have got fellow 0-2 strugglers Detroit and Chicago in their next two home games, and a probable 2-2 position in two weeks time looks likely, and a lot less dreadful.

Turning an 0-2 into a positive record is one thing, but winning enough games to dispatch all of their NFC West rivals is another. One of their rivals, the 49ers, will probably be out of the playoff picture in a month judging by their cataclysmic capitulation at the hands of Pittsburgh Steelers last time out. Yes, they have Colin Kaepernick, but too many question marks surrounding him. Another rival, the Rams, started the annual “it’s going to be their year” bandwagon when beating the Seahawks. But a weak performance against a poor Washington team has threatened to derail them already. The Seahawks have enough to haul themselves back above those two, which only leads the Arizona Cardinals to deal with… The Cardinals fell short when Carson Palmer got injured last season, but now with him back and an impressive 2-0 start they are looking ominous. Larry Fitzgerald has 199 receiving yards in 2 games, and their dynamic offense looks the real deal.

The Seahawks have given a 2-win head start to the Cardinals, and that is too much for a team with an offense so frighteningly productive. The NFC West culminates with a week 17 matchup between; you guessed it, the Seahawks and Cardinals. That could well be the decider, but watch this space – one bird will be flying on top of the NFC West in January, and I think it might just be a Cardinal.

 

 

Scott AvatarSCOTT SIMPKIN is a UK sports journalist with a growing interest in sports in the US, particularly American football and baseball. He has previously contributed to publications including Palatinate Online and FourFourTwo.

What deflategate? Patriots will remind everyone what really makes them famous

Tom Brady deflategateThe New England Patriots face the Pittsburgh Steelers tonight in the season opener, and crucially, Tom Brady will be taking the field. It will be fascinating to see how the deflate-gate saga will have taken it’s toll on the Patriots preparation for their week 1 match-up, and the Steelers major hope is that the Superbowl winning offence led by their main-man Brady will show patches of rust.

However, if there is one quarterback in the entire NFL who has the ability to deal with a scandal and get on with it, it’s Tom Brady. Whilst the off-season media coverage will have been a notch above Brady’s normal celebrity status, it’s tough to imagine him showing any signs of the kind of indecision that might cost the Patriots a season opening win. Brady will be on the same home-ground as he has played throughout his NFL career, reading playbooks edited by the only NFL coach he has ever played under, Bill Belichick, and looking around to find the same receivers that put his newest super-bowl ring on his finger. If anything, the Patriots may be better prepared for disaster, since backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will be the most well polished backup in the entire NFL.

The Steelers are unlikely to offer much resistance, either. Make no mistake, they are not a poor team, and with Big Ben Roethlisberger and star receiver Antonio Brown powering a productive offense they have the ability to hurt the Patriots. However, they will be missing the 1,361 regular season yards provided by running back Le’Veon Bell last season due to suspension. Even though many of the running success of the Steelers last season could be attributed to a much-improved offensive line, without Bell they are unlikely to be as productive on the ground as they were last season. They are also missing promising number 2 receiver Martavis Bryant through suspension and potentially key linebacker Lawrence Timmons through injury. This team will be a threat as the season progresses, but add to the suspensions a worrying propensity to concede passing yards in pre-season, and the Steelers are unlikely to be at their best for week one.

After Thursday, deflate-gate will be a distant memory. Brady will produce the kind of polished performance that has become his trademark and star receivers Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski will pick up some serious yards against a helpless Pittsburgh defense that is very much in a period of transition. The Patriots biggest worry will be that the ball boy pumps the footballs up to the regulation pressure…

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Scott AvatarSCOTT SIMPKIN is a young sports journalist from the UK with a growing interest in sports in the US, particularly American football and Baseball. He has previously contributed to publications including Palatinate Online and FourFourTwo

 

Mark Sanchez to be the deciding factor in Cowboys v Eagles Thanksgiving match-up

Does Sanchez have a big performance in him this Thanksgiving?

Does Sanchez have a big performance in him this Thanksgiving?

The NFL fixture list has served up an absolute Thanksgiving cracker! The Philadelphia Eagles take on the Dallas Cowboys in one of the most fascinating games this season. Both teams are on 8-3, both teams have a bitter hatred of each other, and only one team can win the NFC East. You’d be a fool to predict the outcome of this one…. So here’s my attempt to help the fool!

 

Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys Betting Odds:

Eagles +3: -105

Cowboys -3: -115

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

The Eagles are a curious case this season. Pundits (and even yours truly after week 3) have been waiting to write them off from the start. The wolf has been knocking on the door for sometime howling, “You don’t have a quarterback!” But some scintillating performances from Nick Foles over 9 weeks have kept them quiet. Even when Foles broke his collarbone, New York Jets cast-off Mark Sanchez silenced his doubters with a series of positive displays, and consequently there is a lot to be positive about in the Eagles camp. Their offense keeps churning out game-winning performances, and their go-to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is looking on top of his game.

However, one of the most proficient offensive outfits in the NFL is not backed up by a good defense. They have allowed the third most passing yards in the entire NFL, and the way they were opened up in week 10 by Aaron Rogers and the Green Bay Packers provides concern that this defense simply can’t handle a top NFL quarterback. The only saving grace is the Eagles’ defensive line isn’t so leaky, and this may be enough to nullify the main Cowboys rushing threat, DeMarco Murray. Tony Romo is not in the same league as Aaron Rogers either, so the Eagles defense may have enough to keep the Cowboys down to a beatable offensive total. The main question mark is which Mark Sanchez will turn up? If Sanchez performs to his full capability, the Eagles have a really good chance of winning this game and taking control of the NFC East.

Anybody associated with the Cowboys probably still has nightmares about that Kyle Orton intercepted pass that handed the Eagles the 2013 NFC East title on a silver platter last time these teams met. It was the moment that crushed hopes of the Cowboys ending their 3-season playoff qualification drought, and the moment America resumed their laughter at the demise of their most famous franchise. Presently though, that interception feels like years ago, and the next Cowboys team to run-out on the field to face the Eagles will be very different one. It is a team with a balanced and productive offense, a potential MVP running back, a solid performing defense, and an impressive ability to produce big plays at big moments.

The offensive production from wide receiver Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten has provided the cornerstone of their solid passing game, whilst pundits continue to run out of superlatives for the rushing production of DeMarco Murray. This is the first Cowboys team with no obvious weakness in recent memory, but as Arizona proved in week 9, they are certainly beatable. Their defense has a habit of allowing a fair few passing yards, and Philadelphia pose arguably the most potent aerial threat they have faced all season. Also, whilst Tony Romo has looked calm and collected this season, there are still question marks over his big-game presence. If the Cowboys want to take command of the NFC East and banish last year’s memories, they will have to produce their finest form on Thanksgiving.

This is a huge game, and like any big game, there is likely to be a season-defining moment that clinches it for one of these teams in the fourth quarter. Last season, a back-up quarterback threw an interception returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, and this season, one team has a back-up quarterback who has a penchant for throwing such interceptions! You can just see it, Mark Sanchez throwing the game away on the final Eagles drive just like he did so many times in his Jets days. The home advantage and dynamic offensive threat will be enough for the Cowboys to expose the Eagles’ defensive frailties, and the Thanksgiving turkey will taste especially good in Dallas.

Intertops Sportsbook is offering a generous stake-back deal on the Cowboys-Eagles game this Thanksgiving. If a team leads at half-time but fails to win the match, a stake-back of up to $100 will be available for losing bets on the ‘1st half spread’ market.

 Scott AvatarSCOTT SIMPKIN is a young sports journalist from the UK with a growing interest in sports in the US, particularly American football and Baseball. He has previously contributed to publications including Palatinate Online and FourFourTwo

NFL: The Cowboys bring more than just a big name to London

DeMarco Murray has been this season's stand-out performer for the Cowboys

DeMarco Murray has been this season’s stand-out performer for the Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys are coming to London, and this year, they are far more than just a big name. The Cowboys have been the brunt of many jokes over the past few seasons, as the richest team in football suffered disappointment after disappointment from the hands of a seemingly inept Tony Romo, a quarterback who many believe is simply not good enough to be the poster-boy of arguably the NFL’s most famous franchise. This season, the story could not be more different. Eyebrows have been raised everywhere as the Cowboys have stormed to a 6-3 record. Doubters were well and truly silenced in week 6 as the Cowboys put the defending Super Bowl champs to the sword, and it seems like they have the players to have a decent shot at the Super Bowl themselves this season, as long as owner Jerry Jones and his infamous ego avoid throwing a spanner in the well-functioning Cowboys’ works…

 

NFC East Betting Odds: To Win Outright:

Philadelphia Eagles -189

Dallas Cowboys +160

New York Giants +2000

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

The key to their dramatic turnaround in fortunes is an offense that poses a far more dynamic threat. Running back DeMarco Murray has rushed for more than 100 yards in seven consecutive games, an NFL record that will put him well in the hunt for the MVP award come the end of the season. Whilst Murray has undoubtedly been the highlight, this is also a team with the incredibly talented Dez Bryant at wide receiver, and rock-solid tight end Jason Witten. It has taken seven weeks for any team to figure out how to stop this offensive machine, and this has coincided an injury to Tony Romo, who may well have a greater effect on the team than his many doubters might like to think. With his return imminent for the Wembley showdown, this game may provide the perfect platform for the Cowboys to showcase their talent and lay a marker down to their NFC East rivals at 7-3.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have raised few eyebrows too, but this has been due to their incredibly poor start rather than Superbowl potential. Every season has a team or two that is already looking to the new season at the halfway mark, and the Jaguars are now in that category. They now sit at 1-8 and have been fairly shambolic throughout this season. Jaguars’ quarterback Blake Bortles and leading receiver Allen Robinson were only drafted last year, so their poor season can probably be attributed to the fact that this team has no proven NFL performers.

 

It could be argued that they have been slightly unlucky not to win a game though, and it’s fair to say they haven’t had the easiest schedule either. The Jaguars also have the added incentive of a will to establish a support in England. They have signed a deal to play one game in England every year until 2016, and will be keen to make an impression in what could be considered their second home. Their season may already be a write-off, but a lot is at stake in this fixture, so don’t totally rule them out.

With the tower of statistical and tactical evidence pointing to a Cowboys rout, it would be foolish to back anything but a Dallas victory here. Simply put, one team is producing the goods, and one team is not. However, with the added incentive for Jacksonville to perform well, and the fact the Cowboys are on a losing streak of two coming into the game, it may not be the rout many will be predicting….

 

Scott AvatarSCOTT SIMPKIN is a young sports journalist from the UK with a growing interest in sports in the US, particularly American football and Baseball. He has previously contributed to publications including Palatinate Online and FourFourTwo

NFL: Lions and Falcons out to impress on Wembley debut

It hasn't happened overnight, but British fans are definitely warming to NFL

It hasn’t happened overnight, but British fans are definitely warming to NFL

Who would have thought it? The NFL is making a huge splash in England. American popular culture has always fascinated us English, but whilst our music charts are filled with the newest American teen stars and our TVs are constantly broadcasting American sitcoms, American sport has not had an easy ride across the Atlantic. Really, promoting the NFL in England would be about as hopeless as promoting the Premier League in the US….

So in the same month, the Premier League are exploring plans to play in the US, and on the back of Wembley hosting three NFL games this year instead of the regular one-off, there are even noises of a London NFL franchise. Finally, the best of American sport is finally beginning to capture the minds of us English. So here is your guide to this weekend’s NFL game at Wembley, and your invitation to jump on the English NFL bandwagon.

The first NFL game at Wembley this season (Miami Dolphins vs Oakland Raiders) was a particularly unglamorous matchup between two teams with slim playoff aspirations, but the Falcons vs Lions game is on a whole different level.

 

Atlanta Falcons v Detroit Lions Betting Odds:

Falcons win +170

Lions win -200 

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

Atlanta brings perhaps one of the most exciting NFL offenses to England, however their very leaky defense has been the catalyst for four losses in a row that has seen a promising start slump to 2-5, and Matt Ryan’s aesthetically pleasing passing game has been far less successful on the road in comparison to his scintillating home performances. The Falcons are not the team they were at the beginning of September, and some serious changes are needed, but if Ryan and their offense can find their best form, they are certainly a danger. Let’s put it this way, even on current form, they are no Oakland Raiders… It’s a big game for Atlanta, since their playoff aspirations desperately need resuscitating, and anything other than a win at Wembley to end their 0-4 slump could leave the Falcons season flatlining.

The Detroit Lions provide them with a genuinely fascinating test at Wembley, boasting the 1st ranked defense in the NFL and an impressive 5-2 record. They have a plethora of established offensive talent including last season’s Superbowl winner Golden Tate, legendary running back Reggie Bush, and ‘Megatron’, aka Calvin Johnson, a wide receiver with incredible physical prowess that more than deserves his robotic nickname (though he is doubtful for this weekend with an ankle injury). Make no mistake, this team has genuine Super Bowl potential, and could potentially be the best NFL team to ever cross the Atlantic. However, their season has been plagued by a less than impressive offensive line, which has meant that quarterback Matthew Stafford has not been able to get his talented offense going thus far, having been sacked a whopping 24 times already this season. If the Falcons defensive line can put pressure on Stafford, this game may be far closer than it’s lining up to be on paper.

 

Realistically the Falcons are up against it here, and statistical indicators suggest that Atlanta don’t really have the weapons to put the kind of pressure on Matthew Stafford to keep the Lions offense quiet. The Atlanta offense faces it’s toughest test yet, and on current form, the Falcons best chance of gaining any decent field position is through a repetitive series of 4th down punts. The Lions, on the other hand, could finally showcase their offensive talent against a very questionable Atlanta defense, and run out clear winners here. Expect to see plenty of points and entertainment, but Detroit to run out clear winners. It’s likely this will be the game that the NFL world starts taking the Lions’ Super Bowl chances very seriously.

 

Betting Instinct tip – Back the Lions -3.5 at -115 with AllYouBet.ag

 

Scott AvatarSCOTT SIMPKIN is a young sports journalist from the UK with a growing interest in sports in the US, particularly American football and Baseball. He has previously contributed to publications including Palatinate Online and FourFourTwo

Which NFL unbeaten record will be the last to fall?

With Andy Dalton performing solidly, do the Bengals have the best shot at going 16-0?

With Andy Dalton performing solidly, do the Bengals have the best shot at going 16-0?

Since the 2007 New England Patriots proved it possible, the 16-0 season has been the goal of 32 teams over six separate regular seasons. In the seventh attempt, the list of possible ‘perfect seasons’ has already been whittled down to three: Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals and Arizona Cardinals. Have any of them got what it takes?

 

Philadelphia Eagles  

There are two ways to look at the great start this team has made to the season. The optimist would suggest that their three amazing comebacks, and in particular their incredible second half scoring figures make this team resilient and hard to beat. As the Jaguars found out in week 1, you can have a comfortable 17-0 half time lead and still be on the wrong end of a 34-17 thrashing. Quarterback Nick Foles has thrown more passing yards than anyone else in the NFL so far, and their close schedule isn’t exactly terrifying. Wins against the 49ers, Rams and Giants will take them up to their bye week 7 with a 6-0 record. The cynic would argue that their 26th ranked defence will leak too many points for the offense to continue making up for, and the promising start will soon start to unravel. Judging by the evidence that they only just scraped past the Redskins, who are frankly the only team they have played with a respectable defensive record, they could find a trip to the West Coast to face the 6th ranked 49ers defence as a step too far. It’s hard to not listen to the cynic on this one. The Eagles will struggle to keep their record past this weekend.

Betting Instinct tip the 49ers to end the Eagles’ dreams of a perfect season is -250 with AllYouBet.ag (all odds are subject to change)

 

Arizona Cardinals 

If anyone foresaw the Cardinals being 3-0 at this stage in the season, they were ignoring every reliable indicator of NFL success that informs any logical prediction ever made. This is a team who have negotiated a tough start against a number of realistic Super Bowl prospects without their star QB Carson Palmer, all whilst being heavily reliant on rookie WR John Brown. If their unbeaten season goes past 8-0, this will be a fairytale to warm the hearts of any sports fan. With respect to the amazing achievements of this team so far, a 16-0 season is frankly a pipe dream. The bye week coming up is likely to be the only thing keeping their fantasy of a perfect season alive. The prospect of facing the formidable Denver Broncos in week 5, who themselves are very unlucky not to make the 3-0 club after an overtime loss to their arch-nemesis, Seattle Seahawks, will probably be a bridge too far for the Cardinals. They can view this start as a platform to launch a realistic playoff charge, but no more than that I’m afraid.

 

Cincinnati Bengals

Now here is an actual prospect for a perfect season. The Bengals, unlike their two counterparts on a 3-0, have recorded three very convincing wins so far. The standout result in terms of revealing how good this team actually is remains the a 24-10 victory against the Atlanta Falcons, and limiting one of the most impressive offenses in the NFL to 10 points really does reveal the potential of this team. Their own offensive record doesn’t set the world alight, but QB Andy Dalton has been rock solid, and the team’s rushing productivity means that the weight is not all on his shoulders. Pundits have been so impressed by their potential that whispers of comparison to the Super Bowl winning 2013 Seahawks have already been heard. Their presence in the arguably much friendlier AFC means their schedule doesn’t look too daunting either. When the Bengals face the New England Patriots in week 5, all will be revealed, but a win at Gillette Stadium could set the Bengals up for a run which may only be truly tested with visits to Denver and Pittsburgh in the final 2 games of the regular season. If there is one team that can go 16-0, it is the Bengals. Watch this space!

Betting Instinct tip – The Cincinnati Bengals to win the Super Bowl is +1200 with Intertops.eu

 

 Scott AvatarSCOTT SIMPKIN is a young sports journalist with a particular interest in English football, particularly the  relatively unexplored world of Conference football. He also has a growing interest in sports in the US, particularly  American football and Baseball, and has previously contributed to Palatinate Online and FourFourTwo.