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Ahead of the Curve

Ahead of the Curve is a syndicated football column by Frank Coyle that covers NFL and College football year round. It appears in different national publications and on web sites throughout the season and postseason each year.

NFL Power Rankings Week 8 – Patriots & Broncos Hold Top Two Spots


NFL Power Rankings Week 8 –
Patriots – Broncos Headed for AFC Showdown - NFL Power Poll

Rookies of the Week –
Offensive Player - RB Todd Gurley - Rams

Defensive Player - CB Damarius Randall - Packers

Players of the Week
Offensive Player - QB Drew Brees - Saints

Defensive Player - LB Luke Kuechly - Panthers
Special Teams Player - PK Justin Tucker - Ravens

Photo - QB Drew Brees - Saints

Team of Week 8 - Broncos
Matchup of Week 9 – Green Bay (6-1) at Carolina (7-0)

NFL Power Rankings Week 8 –
Rank / Team / Record

1. New England Patriots (7-0)
Patriots used the Dolphins behind the hot QB Tom Brady to take a commanding three game lead in the AFC East.

2. Denver Broncos (7-0)
Broncos’ jumped on the Packers at home for a very impressive victory.

3. Cincinnati Bengals (7-0)
The Bengals’ have a hot hand and face AFC North rival the Browns in key Thursday night matchup.

4. Carolina Panthers (7-0)
The Panthers are showing they can win close games vs playoff caliber clubs for the first time.

5. Green Bay Packers (6-1)
Packers were taken to school by the Broncos and must regroup for trip to Carolina.

6. Arizona Cardinals (6-2)
QB Carson Palmer smoked the Browns in the second half and he gives them a difference maker over second half.

7. Atlanta Falcons (6-2)
Falcons’ showing some glaring weaknesses after their loss to the Bucs.

8. St. Louis Rams (4-3)
The Rams’ travel to Minnesota for critical NFC matchup for both clubs.

9. Seattle Seahawks (4-4)
The Seahawks beat a falling Cowboy club despite only 1 offensive TD.

10. Minnesota Vikings (5-2)
Vikings face a steady diet of playoff teams over the next six weeks that will determine if they are contenders or pretenders.

11. New Orleans Saints (4-4)
Saints have recovered from their slow start with huge win over the Giants in a wild Big Easy shootout.

12. New York Giants (4-4)
GMen wasted a classic Eli performance that rivaled YA Title’s masterpiece from the ‘60s.

13. New York Jets (4-3)
The Jets look to end two game losing streak with Jaguars coming to town this week.

14. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4)
Eagles come off their bye week with critical matchup in Big D that may define their season.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4)
Steelers’ have lost two in a row and get the hot Raiders at home this week.

16. Indianapolis Colts (3-5)
The Colts fired their OC after loss Monday night to Panthers. They host Broncos this Sunday.

17. Oakland Raiders (4-3)
The Raiders beat the Jets last week and will stay in east for key AFC contest with the Steelers.

18. Washington Redskins (3-4)
The Skins are well rested off their bye week for trip to New England for key matchup.

19. Miami Dolphins (3-4)
The Dolphins were waxed by the Patriots and travel to Buffalo for a must win type situation for their playoff hopes.

20. Houston Texans (3-5)
Texans come off a win and get their bye week before facing a strong 2nd half schedule for their playoff run.

21. Buffalo Bills (3-4)
The Bills host the Dolphins this week after their bye and prior to facing all their AFC East rivals over the next three weeks.

22. Kansas City Chiefs (3-5)
The Chiefs wacked the disappointing Lions last week and get their bye this weekend.

23. Baltimore Ravens (2-6)
The Ravens won a close game with the Chargers and have the week off to regroup for second half push.

24. San Diego Chargers (2-6)
Chargers lost a key AFC game at Baltimore and host the Bears this Monday night.

25. Dallas Cowboys (2-5)
Cowboys dropped their fifth in a row without Tony Romo and host the rested Eagles this Sunday.

26. Cleveland Browns (2-6)
Browns are playing for pride vs the Bengals tonight.

27. Tampa Bay Bucs (3-4)
Bucs are trying to reach .500 this week with the GMen coming to town.

28. Chicago Bears (2-5)
The Bears will travel to San Diego this week and prepare to play out the string before major housecleaning.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-5)
The Jaguars are well rested for trip north to face the Jets.

30. San Francisco 49ers (2-6)
The 49ers’ QB Colin Kaepernick has been benched after 49ers continue as the leagues’ lowest scoring offense.

31. Tennessee Titans (1-6)
The Titans fired HC Ken Whisenhunt halfway through year two after just a 3-20 record.

32. Detroit Lions (1-7)
Lions have earned the bottom ranking after a disgraceful performance vs the Chiefs.

Packers & Patriots Top NFL Power Poll Week 6


NFL Power Rankings Week 6 –
Packers & Patriots Top NFL Power Poll

Rookies of the Week –
Offensive Player - RB Todd Gurley - Rams

Defensive Player - CB Quinten Rollins - Packers

Players of the Week
Offensive Player - QB Eli Manning - Giants -

Defensive Player - DE Fletcher Cox - Eagles

Photo - QB Eli Manning - Giants

Team of Week 5 - Bengals
Matchup of Week 6 – Carolina at Seattle

Rank / Team / Record

1. Green Bay Packers (5-0)
Packers have built a huge lead in the NFC North.

2. New England Patriots (4-0)
Patriots are the top ranked NFL offense thus far.

3. Denver Broncos (5-0)
Broncos’ defense is leagues’ top ranked unit.

4. Cincinnati Bengals (5-0)
The Bengals’ Andy Dalton came up big vs the Seahawks in crunch time.

5. Atlanta Falcons (5-0)
Falcons’ will be fully tested by the desperate Saints on Thursday night.

6. Arizona Cardinals (4-1)
Cards look to build on their strong start with AFC North clubs on the agenda.

7. Carolina Panthers (4-0)
The Panthers rested after bye for key road game to Seattle this week.

8. New York Jets (3-1)
The Jets are home vs the Redskins this week with Patriots up next.

9. New York Giants (3-2)
GMen are wounded in key areas with their trip to Philadelphia this Monday night.

10. Dallas Cowboys (2-3)
Cowboys are dropped three in a row with bye week to prepare for key game with Giants up in two weeks.

11. St. Louis Rams (2-3)
The Rams’ get their bye week to regroup after a very lackluster start to the season.

12. Seattle Seahawks (2-3)
The overrated Seahawks face a critical home game with the Panthers coming in this Sunday.

13. Buffalo Bills (3-2)
The Bills got a W in Tennessee and get a major AFC matchup at home with Bengals.

14. San Diego Chargers (2-3)
Chargers lost a heartbreaker to the Steelers on Monday night and need to regroup with trip to Green Bay this week.

15. Minnesota Vikings (2-2)
Vikings return from their bye week and face the disappointing Chiefs this week.

16. Philadelphia Eagles (2-3)
Eagles played well vs the Saints and get the Giants at home Monday night in a major NFC East matchup.

17. Indianapolis Colts (3-2)
The Colts have won two in a row without QB Andrew Luck and could get their leader back this week for Patriots game at home.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2)
Steelers’ stole the Monday night game vs the Chargers and get the high powered Cardinals this week.

19. New Orleans Saints (1-4)
Saints face NFC South rival, the Falcons at home in a must win situation for their playoff aspirations.

20. Cleveland Browns (2-3)
Browns won a key overtime game vs the Ravens, with the Broncos coming in this Sunday.

21. Baltimore Ravens (1-4)
The Ravens travel to San Fran in a must win situation between falling recent former Super Bowl opponents.

22. Kansas City Chiefs (1-4)
The Chiefs lost to the lowly Bears and are watching their season slip away early this year.

23. Houston Texans (1-4)
Texans travel to Jacksonville in desperate situation to get a victory.

24. Washington Redskins (2-3)
The Skins face the tough Jets defense this week in an effort to get to .500 level.

25. Miami Dolphins (1-3)
The Dolphins return to the action after bye week that saw a change of command in the coaching staff.

26. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4)
The Jaguars continue to be competitive, but come up short consistently with the game on the line.

27. Oakland Raiders (2-3)
The Raiders get their bye week after a tough loss to AFC West rival, the Broncos.

28. Chicago Bears (2-3)
The Bears have won two in a row that may be their highlight video for the entire season.

29. Tennessee Titans (1-3)
The Titans host the Dolphins this Sunday after a tough loss to the Bills last week.

30. San Francisco 49ers (1-4)
The 49ers’ lost a heartbreaker vs the Giants and host the Ravens this Sunday.

31. Tampa Bay Bucs (2-3)
Bucs outlasted the Jaguars for win last week and sit out with their bye this weekend.

32. Detroit Lions (0-5)
Lions were embarrassed last week by Arizona and face the equally horrible Bears this Sunday and will look for their first win at home.

NFL Power Rankings - Falcons & Panthers Top NFC South


NFL Power Rankings Week 5 –
Falcons & Panthers Keep NFC South Perfect at Top

Rookies of the Week –
Offensive Player - RB Todd Gurley - Rams

Defensive Player - LB Stephone Anthony - Saints

Players of the Week
Offensive Player - RB Chris Ivory - Jets -

Defensive Player - Safety T.J. Ward - Broncos

Team of Week 4 - Giants
Matchup of Week 5 – St Louis at Green Bay

Rank / Team / Record

1. Green Bay Packers (4-0)
Packers face a tough Rams defense this week in a key NFC matchup.

2. New England Patriots (3-0)
Patriots are rested for their trip to Big D.

3. Denver Broncos (4-0)
Broncos’ defense is coming up big in the early action.

4. Cincinnati Bengals (4-0)
The Bengals get an acid test at home with the Seahawks coming to town this Sunday.

5. Atlanta Falcons (4-0)
Falcons’ HC Dan Quinn has this defense playing smart.

6. Arizona Cardinals (3-1)
Cards lost a tough contest with the Rams in the leagues strongest division.

7. Carolina Panthers (4-0)
The Panthers rest this week after a strong opening month atop the NFC South.

8. Seattle Seahawks (2-2)
Seahawks continue their unimpressive play, but find a way to win in crunch time.

9. New York Jets (3-1)
The Jets buried the Dolphins and get their bye week before a stretch of weak opponents.

10. San Diego Chargers (2-2)
Chargers host the Steelers on Monday night and need to make a statement here.

11. New York Giants (2-2)
GMen pounced on the Bills last week and get the 49ers at home Sunday night.

12. Dallas Cowboys (2-2)
Cowboys lost in overtime to the Saints and host the Patriots in a critical early season matchup.

13. St. Louis Rams (2-2)
The Rams’ won a hard fought contest vs the Cardinals and travel to Green Bay in another key NFC contest.

14. Buffalo Bills (2-2)
The Bills defense has been toasted under HC Rex Ryan. They should get well in Tennessee.

15. Minnesota Vikings (2-2)
Vikings are on their bye week and hope to regroup with a soft month of upcoming games.

16. Philadelphia Eagles (1-3)
Eagles are in disarray and must show up vs a rejuvenated Saints’ club coming to town.

17. Indianapolis Colts (2-2)
Without QB Andrew Luck, the Colts just got by Jaguars in overtime. They face South rival, the Texans on Thursday night.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2)
Steelers’ gave away game to the Ravens and need big effort in San Diego Monday night.

19. Kansas City Chiefs (1-3)
The Chiefs got wacked by Bengals’ last week and face almost a must win situation at home vs the Bears this Sunday.

20. Baltimore Ravens (1-3)
The Ravens were handed a gift by the Steelers and stay in the division with the Browns coming to town.

21. Houston Texans (1-3)
Texans host the Colts on Thursday night with their highly touted defense a major disappointment.

22. Cleveland Browns (1-3)
Browns find new ways to lose games and face a strong schedule over next two months.

23. New Orleans Saints (1-3)
Saints won a key matchup with the Cowboys and go to Philly for major NFC matchup.

24. Washington Redskins (2-2)
Washington beat the Eagles last week in an impressive effort. Travel to Atlanta to determine if that was real.

25. Miami Dolphins (1-3)
The Dolphins were waxed again this time by the Jets to got HC Joe Philbin fired. They get their bye week to regroup after a horrible start.

26. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3)
The Jaguars play hard every week but don’t know how to win yet. Face the Bucs this week.

27. Oakland Raiders (1-3)
The Raiders lost to the lowly Bears last week. They host West rival, Broncos in must win scenario.

28. Tennessee Titans (1-2)
The Titans host the Bills this week and had two weeks to prepare. Let’s see if rookie QB Marcus Mariota went to school on the opponent.

29. Detroit Lions (0-4)
Lions gave game to Seattle and will look for their first win at home vs Arizona in desperate situation.

30. San Francisco 49ers (1-3)
The 49ers’ offense is struggling mightily and go to MetLife to face the hot GMen.

31. Tampa Bay Bucs (1-3)
Bucs will make key mistakes with young roster looking mature in tough division.

32. Chicago Bears (1-3)
The Bears beat the hapless Raiders and go on the road for the next two vs desperate Chiefs and Lion.

NFL Power Polls - Packers & Patriots Rise to Top


NFL Power Rankings Week 3 –
Packers & Patriots Rise to Conference Leaders

Rookies of the Week –
Offensive Player – WR Amari Cooper - Raiders

Defensive Player - LB Vic Beasley - Falcons

Photo -QB Aaron Rodgers - Packers

Players of the Week
Offensive Player - WR A.J. Green - Bengals

Defensive Player - CB Josh Norman - Panthers

Team of Week 3 - Packers
Matchup of Week 4 – St Louis at Arizona

Rank / Team / Record

1. Green Bay Packers (3-0)
Packers smoked the Chiefs behind the incredible Aaron Rodgers.

2. New England Patriots (3-0)
The veteran Patriots get a bye to rest on their hot start.

3. Arizona Cardinals (3-0)
Cards lead the league in scoring behind the talented Carson Palmer.

4. Denver Broncos (3-0)
Broncos are taking care of business, but can they sustain it the full schedule.

5. Cincinnati Bengals (3-0)
The Bengals off to fast start, but they will be judged by the postseason.

6. Atlanta Falcons (3-0)
Falcon’s beat the overrated Cowboys and host the tough Texans this Sunday.

7. Carolina Panthers (3-0)
The Panthers are atop the NFC South, but will have to beat the Falcons for the title.

8. Seattle Seahawks (1-2)
Seahawks will be pressed to be the best in the NFC West this season.

9. Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
Cowboys could rank lower except for a few gifts in the early action.

10. Buffalo Bills (2-1)
The Bills will be tested with the Giants coming to town in a pivotal game for both clubs.

11. Minnesota Vikings (2-1)
Vikings face a key matchup in Denver this week to establish themselves as a legitimate playoff contender.

12. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2)
Eagles hope to get to .500 with a trip to the Capital vs the Skins.

13. Indianapolis Colts (1-2)
QB Andrew Luck hides countless faults in Indy, though maybe the best team in the weak AFC South again.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1)
Steelers’ move forward without Big Ben over the next few weeks behind the erratic Michael Vick.

15. New York Jets (2-1)
The Jets have to find a way to score more points if they expect to be a playoff contender.

16. San Diego Chargers (1-2)
Chargers host the Browns this week in a key game to move up in the AFC West.

17. New York Giants (1-2)
GMen could be 3-0, but gave away the first two and look to get back to .500 in Buffalo this week.

18. Kansas City Chiefs (1-2)
The Chiefs got wacked by Packers’ Aaron Rodgers. Now must go to Cinny and face the hot Bengals this Sunday.

19. Miami Dolphins (1-2)
The Dolphins were waxed by the Bills at home last week. Face the Jets in London in a critical AFC East matchup.

20. Oakland Raiders (2-1)
The Raiders are off to a good start, and go to Chicago where the Bears appear to be ready to start rebuilding for next year.

21. Baltimore Ravens (0-3)
The Ravens are looking for their first win in Thursday night as they renew their bitter AFC North rivalry in Pittsburgh.

22. Houston Texans (1-2)
Texans travel to Atlanta in a stern test of their playoff contention aspirations.

23. Detroit Lions (0-3)
Lions travel to Seattle for a critical early season contest where the loser is in big trouble.

24. St. Louis Rams (1-2)
The Rams’ offense struggles to score points and faces a key West rival, the Cardinals in the desert.

25. Cleveland Browns (1-2)
Browns struggle scoring points and look to settle on a starting QB with Johnny ‘Football’ Manziel on call.

26. New Orleans Saints (0-3)
Saints lost a key South matchup to the Panthers and host the Cowboys Sunday night in a critical matchup and possibly without QB Drew Brees.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)
The Jaguars were toasted by the Patriots and go to Indy for a key South matchup.

28. Washington Redskins (1-2)
Washington host the Eagles this week in an NFC East game that could determine the direction of these teams.

29. Tennessee Titans (1-2)
The Titans will ride rookie QB Marcus Mariota through the learning period this year both the good and bad.

30. San Francisco 49ers (1-2)
The 49ers were bombed in the desert. That may be the norm this season.

31. Tampa Bay Bucs (1-2)
Bucs will go through the growing pain of a rookie QB in Jameis Winston.

32. Chicago Bears (0-3)
The Bears may have the #1 pick in NFL Draft 2016 as the event returns to Chitown.

Bettis, Brown and Haley Head NFL Hall of Fame Class 2015


The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015 will be inducted this Saturday night August 8th

The NFL Hall of Fame inductees this year begins with running back Jerome Bettis of the Pittsburgh Steelers and includes linebacker Charles Haley, wideout Tim Brown, linebacker Junior Seau, guard Will Shields, center Mick Tingelhoff and former GMs Bill Polian and Ron Wolf.

Photo - RB Jerome Bettis - Pittsburgh Steelers

Jerome Bettis put up eight seasons of 1,000-plus yards which at the time of his retirement was the third-best in NFL history. He was extremely tough runner who became the bell cow of the physical Steelers clubs. He's fifth all-time in career rushing yards with 13,662.

Tim Brown has been a finalist multiple times, but the high number of successful talented wide receivers in recent years made it difficult for all of them to make it into the Hall of Fame. Brown had more than 1,000 catches when he retired with mediocre Raider clubs that had bad starting QBs. At the time of his retirement, he had the second-most receiving yards in NFL history.

Charles Haley has been a finalist several times and many have questioned why he was not already inducted given that he is the only player in NFL history to have five Super Bowl rings as a player. He has rings from Super Bowl XXIII, XXIV, XXVII, XXVIII and XXX as both a 49er and Cowboy. He produced seven double-digit sack seasons and finished his career with 100.5 sacks. He was named the defensive player of the year twice, in 1990 and 1994 while earning five Pro Bowl appearances.

Junior Seau had an incredible career that includes 20 seasons in the NFL. He made it to 12 Pro Bowls with six All-Pro nods. He was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1992
Will Shields was an ironman and didn't miss a single game for the Chiefs in 14 seasons. That totals 224 games played with 223 starts. TheChiefs won four division titles and made six playoff appearances with Shields blocking. He earned 12 consecutive Pro Bowl berths and helped runner Priest Holmes rush for a then-record of 27 TDs in 2003.

Bill Polian spent 32 seasons building franchises including the Colts, Bills and Panthers.His teams went to five Super Bowls, three with the Bills and two with the Colts. The Panthers made it to the NFC title game in only their second season in Carolina. The Colts went to the postseason 11 out of the 12 seasons thatPolian served as the President and General manager. He was named the NFL's Executive of the Year by The Sporting News six times.

Ron Wolf, listed as a contributor, has always been known as one of the best personnel guys in the game. He was with the Raiders for 23 seasons and they had winning seasons in all but six years during his tenure there. He also helped return the Green Bay Packers into a championship club and helped them to back-to-back Super Bowls. The Packers won 16 games, including Super Bowl XXXI with Wolf making all the personnel moves for the franchise.

Mike Tingelhoff was a Seniors Committee pick. He played 240 games over the course of 17 seasons in the 60s and 70s. He earned the starting center job as a rookie and kept it his entire career. He never missed a game or practice and played in 19 playoff games over the course of his career. He went up against guy like Dick Butkus and Ray Nitschke twice annually.

The Class of 2015 will now have several months to work on their speeches for the Enshrinement Ceremony. That will come on Saturday, Aug. 8. There, each of the enshrinees will receive their bronze busts and will give a speech, followed by the NFL's annual Hall of Fame game on Sunday – Steelers vs the Vikings.

Patriots Top NFL 2015 Compensatory Picks


NFL Announces 2015 Compensatory Picks

NFL office announced 32 compensatory selections this week with Kansas City, Denver and Seattle leading the way with 4 additional picks each for the upcoming NFL Draft 2915. Baltimore and Houston will receive three additional picks each for losing more free agents than they signed during the open market in 2014.

The world champion Patriots get the highest compensatory pick with the #97th overall selection at the end of the third round followed by the Chiefs and Bengals to end the second day of the NFL Draft.

Draft Insiders’ Yearbook 2015 – Over 300 Scouting Reports – available early April – Complete 7 Round Mock Draft - New Top 300 Value Board

Photo – RB Tyler Varga - Yale

NFL 32 Compensatory Picks

3rd Round
97 New England
98 Kansas City
99 Cincinnati

4th Round
132 San Francisco
133 Denver
134 Seattle
135 Cincinnati
136 Baltimore

5th Round
169 Carolina
170 Seattle
171 Baltimore
172 Kansas City
173 Kansas City
174 Houston
175 Baltimore

6th Round
208 Denver
209 Seattle
210 Green Bay
211 Houston
212 Green Bay
213 Carolina
214 Seattle
215 St. Louis
216 Houston
217 Kansas City

7th Round
250 Denver
251 Denver
252 Pittsburgh
253 New England
254 San Francisco
255 Indianapolis
256 Arizona

NFL Free Agency 2015 - Top 50 Players


NFL Free Agency 2015 - Top 50 Players

Photo - DT Nda Suh

March 2015 Newsletter - Special Free Agency Report – available Now

Free Agents - Unrestricted & ‘Street’ - Franchise & Transitional Players

1 Ndamukong Suh (28) - DL - No franchise tag
2 Dez Bryant (26) - WR - Franchised
3 Justin Houston (26) - DE - Franchised
4 Darrelle Revis (29) - CB
5 Demaryius Thomas (27) - WR - Franchised
6 Jason Pierre-Paul (26) - DE - Franchised
7 DeMarco Murray (27) - RB
8 Greg Hardy (26) - DE
9 Julius Thomas (26) - TE
10 Byron Maxwell (26) - CB
11 Rodney Hudson (25) - OG
12 Bryan Bulaga (25) - OT
13 Nick Fairley (27) - DT
14 Mike Iupati (27) - OG
15 Pernell McPhee (26) - DE
16 Jerry Hughes (26) - DE
17 Jeremy Maclin (26) - WR
18 Terrance Knighton (28) - DT
19 Torrey Smith (26) - WR
20 Jason Worilds (26) - LB
21 Brian Orakpo (28) - OLB
22 Dan Williams (27) - DT
23 Stefen Wisniewski (25) - C
24 C.J. Spiller (27) - RB
25 Charles Clay (26) - TE - Transition tag
26 Jabaal Sheard (25) - DE
27 Jared Odrick (27) - DT
28 Chris Culliver (26) - CB
29 Justin Forsett (29) - RB
30 Malcolm Smith (25) - OLB
31 Orlando Franklin (26) - OG
32 Rahim Moore (25) - S
33 Brandon Graham (26) - OLB- DE
34 Jordan Cameron (26) - TE
35 Brandon Flowers (29) - CB
36 Stephen Paea (26) - DT
37 George Johnson (27) - DE
38 Clint Boling (25) - G
39 Da'Norris Searcy (26) - S
40 Joe Barksdale (26) - OT
41 Brandon Spikes (27) - ILB
42 Jake Locker (26) - QB
43 Percy Harvin (28) - WR
44 Bruce Carter (27) - LB
45 Michael Crabtree (27) - WR
46 Jermaine Gresham (26) - TE
47 Corey Peters (26) - DT
48 Shane Vereen (25) - RB
49 Mason Foster (25) - LB
50 James Carpenter (25) - G

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