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Atlanta United edged past Philadelphia Union in the MLS Eastern Conference Semifinals last night. Atlanta fans bought the noise as they watched the five stripes play a determined Union team.
Led by Josef Martiniez up top, Atlanta’s Julian Gressel scored early on, in a perfect chip over the diving body of Philadelphia goalkeeper, Andre Blake. For the rest of the half, Atlanta got the ball forward and attacked the net. However, another goal wouldn’t happen until the 2nd half when Josef Martinez hammered the ball into the top left corner. Philadelphia couldn’t find a groove throughout the game, and that came to hunt them in the long run.
The Union, who were 1st of the East for 17 out of the 34 regular season games, season has now ended. Despite the loss, it was a historic season for Philadelphia, they grabbed their first postseason win in history, and their young team is looking like a potential contender for the future. Meanwhile, Atlanta, the defending MLS Cup Champions, are looking to go to back-to-back MLS Cup Finals. They will play Toronto FC on Wednesday in the Mercedes Benz as the look to continue their run for a US Treble (U.S. Open Cup, Campeones Cup, and MLS Cup).
Written by Chris Dailey
image via https://www.dirtysouthsoccer.com
Winner #1- Green Bay Packers
The Packers are thriving under new head coach Matt LeFluer. The offense seems to be well rounded, and the defense has held its ground. After not making the playoffs last year, Green Bay is now first in their division and only have one loss, coming to the Eagles in a one possession game. Despite their hot streak, Rodgers' statistics aren't nearly as good as his past self, and despite this the Packers are winning games. However, the numbers don't do Rodgers justice to his play this season. Under his new head coach, his offense has found ways to win without putting nearly all the workload on the veteran QB. By doing this, Rodgers is staying healthier for the long run, and his career may be extended a bit. The Packers have certainly been a huge winner coming into week 7.
Loser #1- Washington Redskins
The Redskins have been awful under the management of Dan Snyder. They found hope in the offseason when they drafted young Ohio State QB, Dwayne Haskins jr. Haskins hasn't played great, but I am not going to beat up the kid as that talent around him is less than special. Terry McLaurin, a rookie wide receiver out of Ohio State, has been the only bright spot on the squad this year. The team's only win comes from a one point game where the beat the Miami Dolphins, one of the worst teams in NFL history. They fired their coach Jay Gruden, and reports have come out that he didn't even want Haskins, Snyder did. The Redskins have been a mess this season, and it's only deserving they get put on the list.
Winner #2- New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees gets hurt and is forced to sit for a few weeks. Not a headline any player, coach, or fan would like to hear. However, the Saints fan have been in for a ride this season as former Minnesota Vikings starter, and now back-up in NO, Teddy Bridgewater, has led the team to a perfect record in the absence of Brees. Bridgewater, who was told he may never be able to play football again after a horrific injury while at practice in 2016. The Saints look dominant, coming from both sides of the ball. Marshon Lattimore, Marcus Davenport, and Marcus Williams are all 23 and stars of the defense. Davenport has been unreal this season, ranking second to the league in QB hits. The Saints are scary good, and with Drew Brees coming back soon, they are a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
Loser #2- Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals are a confusing team. They have talent that should be able to win games, but they still lose every single game. They now have reported heat in the locker room with Cordy Glenn asking to be cut. Andy Dalton lacks a fire that is needed to take your team to the next step. Dalton hasn't been able to get it done when the light shine brightest on him. A.J. Green has been injured for some time now. Everything has fallen apart in Cincinnati. From ticket prices dropping so low due to the fact nobody wants to watch them play, all the way to losing games to below average teams on national television. The Bengals and Dolphins play week 16, that will decide who gets the first overall pick, and that's the closest thing the Bengals have to look forward to,
Winner #3- Houston Texans
Their two losses were close games. One against the Saints that was by two, and another to the Panthers that was by 6. The Texans have been on fire this season, Larmey Tunsil has done a great job at protecting DeShaun Watson, and both players have become top players in their respective positions. Deandre Hopkins has been insane again, and JJ Watt is ripping apart offensive lines. Watson has been playing like an MVP, and it's time for everybody to start seeing him as not just one of the next elite QB's, instead it's as an elite QB. The Texans have been playing great this season, and get the job done week after week. They even beat the Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. If the Texans keep their form up, they're a solid contender for the AFC Championship this year.
Loser #3- Miami Dolphins
The worst team to ever step onto an NFL field. Tank for Tua is real in Miami, and they've shown it. After being blown out week by week, the Dolphins are in full rebuild mode. They have both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen fighting for the starting spot, but neither have shown they can get it done. They're the worst team in the history of the NFL is you look at the stats. The Dolphins are on pace for the lowest amount of rushing yards (931), total points (134) and touchdowns (13) for any teams since the NFL expanded to a 16 game season.
Written by Chris Dailey
Week 6 saw some teams make some major dips in the AP Top 25 Poll, while others climbed the ladder. I will be breaking down my top 10 teams heading into week 7, seeing where I rank the teams differently from the CF committee.
Chris’ Top 10
REASONING TO THE SEEDS
1. Ohio State
I don’t think there is a person who has yet to say bad things about Justin Fields, Ohio State’s star QB who just transferred from Georgia, where he was sitting for Jake Fromm. When I look at Ohio State, I see a team that can get it done on both sides of the ball. The defense is lockdown, and the offense keeps pounding points away. Led by new head coach in Ryan Day, I see this Ohio State team as a team that can beat any team in the country. The Buckeyes are the most complete team in the nation.They play Wisconsin in week 8, and end the season with games against Penn State and Michigan. This will certainly be a test, and if they can get it done, Ohio State is going to the CFP with #1 next to their name.
Alabama is flawless. They haven’t had a tough opponent yet, so it will be interesting to see how they do against their first ranked opponent in Texas A&M. They also play #5 LSU and #12 Auburn. Tua Tagovailoa is phenomenal. Their wide receiver corp is dominant. Jerry Judy, Henry Ruggs, and DeVonta Smith are all likely to surpass the 1,000 receiving yards mark by the end of the season. Yet again, Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide cannot be stopped.
3. Clemson Tigers
The Clemson Tigers are a team that is hard to break down. Trevor Lawerence is amazing, an NFL level talent. They beat Texas A&M (who play Alabama) by 14 points. While only escaping UNC by one point in a game that could have been much different if UNC were to either convert the two point conversion or kick a PAT. The defense seems to lose focus as the games roll on, and the offense isn’t clicking like it has in previous years. This might be the case as Hunter Renfrow, the star WR, left Clemson for the NFL. Clemson has top talent, on and off the field. However, the way they’ve been playing is not worthy of a top 2 spot.
4. Georgia Bulldogs
People don’t seem to realize how great this Georgia team is. Kirby Smart is a fantastic head coach, Jake Fromm was made for the moment, and D’Andre Swift is an elite running back. They beat Notre Dame in a tight game, where Notre Dame played better than many people had predicted them to. Georgia’s home atmosphere is the best in the country. Teams that come to Georgia can simply not communicate the way they desire, and this is a big bonus for a Georgia team that is filled with talent. I think they have shown why the deserve a top four spot.
5. LSU Tigers
Two words. Joe Burrow. Burrow has helped lead the Tigers offense to very impressive victories. They got past Texas in a high scoring affair, as well as plowing through teams such as GA Southern, Northwestern State, and Utah State. They also played Vanderbilt, where they did certainly score, but they also let up 38 points. If the defense can sharpen up, I see them being capable of going undefeated. However, LSU has a tough schedule ahead of them. They play both Florida and Auburn. Two very difficult games that decide the fate of LSU’s season.
6. Oklahoma Sooners
Jalen Hurts has something to prove. He’s currently a contender for the Heisman alongside the QB he was benched for the CFP National Championship in 2017, when Hurts was a sophomore and Tua was a freshman. Now, the two have good odds to meet again, this time against each other. The Sooners offense has blown by Big 12 defenses this season. They have amassed at least 45 points in every game they’ve played this year. Their defense is very fast, however if Texas can control the clock against the Sooners, I see an upset. The Sooners and Texas will go head to head in what will be a very intense matchup between two great teams. This will be a game that decides the fate of both teams seasons.
7. Wisconsin Badgers
I really like this Wisconsin Badgers team. I don’t fully believe in their QB, Jack Coan. On the flip side of that, I love Johnathon Taylor and their defense. The defense has only let up 29 points this season, those coming in two games. A game against Michigan, and a game against Northwestern. They play Ohio State, Iowa, and Minnesota. I think if they can somehow manage to come out of this with one loss they put themselves in a big 6 matchup come playoff time. If they come out of this undefeated, then give them they 100% deserve a spot in the top four.
8. Florida Gators
It’s been an uphill battle this year for the Gators. The lost their starting QB, Felipe Franks, to a broken ankle. However, they’ve managed to stay up for the challenge. The new boy on the block, Kyle Trask, has fit right into the Dan Mullen’s gators offense and they have remained undefeated. With Kyle Trask, they edged off Bo Nix and Auburn in a 24-13 game. The Gators also have a great defense that sure knows how to take the ball away from teams. The Gators team is filled with a bunch of hard hitting players that play until the very last whistle. With games coming up against LSU and Georgia, Florida is in for a challenge. An 8 spot is reasonable for them considering the teams they have played and the margins they have won by.
9. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The game against Georgia showed the country that the Irish can compete. After all, they lost by 27 points to Clemson in the CFP semifinals last year. While Alabama lost to Clemson by 28 points. I am not trying to say that Notre Dame is better than Alabama, I am just saying they don’t get the credit they deserve. Once they got their tight end back in Cole Kmet, who missed every game up until Georgia with an injury, I think the offense started to roll. Freshman safety, Kyle Hamilton, has shown the country what he’s about. Getting a pick six in his first home game for the Irish. Ian Book has shown he can use his feet to extend plays, which is always a great tool to have as a QB. The defensive line also showed how dominant they are in the Georgia game. Notre Dame is a legit team, however to make the playoffs they need some help from other teams now.
10. Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State has a very strong defense. Hard to get by, a force to be reckoned with. One the other side of the ball, Penn State has an explosive offense. QB, Sean Clifford, can make things happen. However, their strength of schedule up to this point has been relatively easy. They almost lost to Pittsburgh, and then seem to slow down in the second half in an unconvincing win against Purdue. Noah Cain has been given the spotlight at running back due to his great play. Besides from that, Penn State seems lost when stuck in a bad situation. They’re currently 5-0, but like stated earlier, they have not played a ranked team. They do have #17 Iowa next week, along with Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio State. Penn State are now in for some tough games where scoring 79 points is just not going to happen. They need to stop getting lazy when up front, and stay focused throughout the whole game.
WHERE WE WENT DIFFERENTLY*
#1- Chris: Ohio State CF Committee: Alabama
#2 Chris: Alabama CF Committee: Clemson
#3 Chris: Clemson CF Committee: Georgia/Ohio State
#7 Chris: Wisconsin CF Committee: Florida
#8 Chris: Florida CF Committee: Wisconsin
*note that CF Committee put both Georgia and Ohio State at 3
WHERE WE AGREED*
#9 Notre Dame
#10 Penn State
*note that CF Committee put both Georgia and Ohio State at 3
Written by Chris Dailey