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NFL Weekend Review: Winners and Losers from opening week

September 12th, 2014

 


 Erik Daniel Drost 

The 2014/15 NFL season has finally arrived and after months of drafts, trades and transactions, we were eventually rewarded with plenty of pigskin-throwing this weekend. While every fixture is a must-win as teams seek to win their respective Conference Championships, some teams had more pressure on themselves than others, as they sought an opening day victory. Here’s the winners and losers from the opening round of fixtures.

Cleveland Browns and Johnny Manziel
The Browns had a big wave of momentum and promise heading into the new season, but their week one performance raised more question marks than it did eyebrows in regards to how they will fare this season. The decision by Head Coach Mike Pettine to start Brian Hoyer on the road against Pittsburgh was bold considering the growing clamour behind Johnny ‘Money’ Manziel, although it seemed safe one. By half-time that decision was being intensely scrutinised as the Browns found themselves 27-3 down. But, Hoyer vastly improved his game in the second half to help tie the scores up at 27-27, although the Browns could not see out the impeccable comeback as they fell to a game-winning field goal from the Steelers.

Letting such an incredible turnaround pass you by with so little time remaining will be crushing for the Browns as they look ahead to their next fixture at home to the New Orleans Saints, while Manziel must be thinking that his luck is out and he may never take the starting quarterback’s jersey, given Hoyer’s emphatic second half performance. The Browns are considered the underdogs for next week’s contest, as they are priced at 10/11 with a +6 point line, while the Saints are priced at 10/11 to steal a victory over the Browns with a -6 point line.

New Orleans Saints
Speaking of the Saints, they too emerged from the opening round of fixtures in the loser’s column, as they suffered a 34-37 defeat to the Atlanta Falcons, despite having the initiative in the game. They should have done better against a Falcons side who had a less than impressive season last term. The Saints are now under immediate pressure to see some strong results this season and in truth, they should have won this contest.

Ray Rice, The NFL
Video evidence finally emerged showing Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice assault his now-wife in an Atlantic City elevator back in February and this is certainly bad news – for both the player and the NFL. While Rice’s reputation is now tarnished and he has since been released by the Ravens, the league is also coming under intense focus given the initial punishment for Rice was a small two game ban and the fact they didn’t do enough to try and obtain the video when this case was first handled. It remains to be seen what Rice’s punishment will be but one thing is for sure, it seems he is looking at a lot more than a simple two game ban after this.

Manning ready to move on from Super Bowl disappointment

April 20th, 2014

Peyton Manning has insisted he is ready to bounce back from a shocking end to last season and help the Denver Broncos put their Super Bowl humiliation firmly behind them. There had been many who believed Manning was set to retire after Super Bowl XLVIII after the quarterback admitted he could see the “light at the end of the tunnel” of his playing career, but the 13-time Pro Bowler has come out fighting in his first interview since the Super Bowl.

Peyton Manning super bowl vs seahawks

OMAHA: Peyton’s Super Bowl fumble.

With odds of around 6/1, Denver will begin the new season widely tipped to reach a second successive Super Bowl, but a lot will depend on whether their star quarterback can rebound from last season’s disappointments. Manning may not have been the only Broncos player who failed to play anywhere near their best in the Super Bowl defeat to the Seahawks, but the quarterback came away from the game shouldering the majority of the blame.

While the 38-year old was widely-criticised for his performance in the Broncos’ 43-8 thumping at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks in last season’s Super Bowl, Manning doesn’t appear to have lost his desire for the game and has insisted he and the rest of the team are determined on leading the Broncos back to the Super Bowl this season.

“Absolutely, that’s what I want to do. That’s what the Denver Broncos want to do. I’m glad to be a part of a team where that’s what they want to do. I want to try to do my best to do my part. Keep myself in good shape and get on the same page with my receivers.”

Despite his below-par showing in the final game of the season, Manning’s sensational form throughout the year showed he is still one of the best quarterbacks still playing in the NFL. Following surgery on a neck injury in early March, Manning has returned to pre-season training and has already begun working with the Broncos receivers ahead of a new campaign.

“I feel that I have a responsibility to the team to be on top of my game, and that’s what I think about every day when I go over there to work and lift weights and throw with my receivers — doing my job to help the Denver Broncos. It’s up to the players to put in the hard work in the weight room, in the film room and on the practice field to try and be a better team this year,” said Manning.

After returning from injury, Manning has linked back up with a Denver squad containing a number of new faces that arrived following the Broncos being given a decent salary-cap position despite their 13-3 record in the past two seasons. Emmanuel Sanders, DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward have all arrived in Denver from the free agency, and there is still a long way to go before the Broncos will have a clear indication of what next season’s final roster will look like.

Does Jim Harbaugh’s future depend on a Super Bowl win?

March 6th, 2014