The Impact of Cam Newton to New England

By Saransh Sharma, Pranav Thiriveedhi, and Rohan Krishnan

Wow, did Bill Belichick just outsmart the entire NFL again or what? I mean, think about it, he waited for Cam Newton’s value to deteriorate (due to the lack of interest) just enough to the point where he could sign Newton to the league-minimum deal of $550K in guaranteed money (base salary is $1.05M with incentives it goes up to $7.5 million). If this is not the greatest free agency scheme Belichick has ever pulled off, then I do not know what is. All the talk about Belichick being content with Jarrett Stidham at QB, and potentially even tanking for Trevor Lawrence in the upcoming draft, has been put to bed in the most Belichick-way possible, by signing a former MVP to replace another former MVP. Now, we all know that Tom Brady is the Greatest Quarterback of All-Time, but replacing him at age 42 with a healthy Cam Newton who still has got some prime years left in him, is not a downgrade at all, and if it does not work out or Belichick simply likes the team but sees a different vision beyond Cam Newton, then Belichick can let him walk, and Cam can get a bag elsewhere, the same way guys like Teddy Bridgewater did this past offseason, and Case Keenum did in 2018. Now for the big question, which is what we predict will happen in Cam’s first season in a Patriots uniform.

The Rejuvenation of SuperCam by Saransh Sharma

If there is any player who played at an MVP and near-Super Bowl winning level that I would trust to return to that form after years of injuries and being doubted, it is Cam Newton. The chip on his shoulder has been there ever since he was brought into Auburn after being suspended at Florida for stealing a laptop, which led to him being kicked out of the school, going to JuCo, and then coming back to Auburn a whole different player, winning the Heisman, becoming a National Champion, and getting drafted first overall to the Carolina Panthers in 2011, a team that had not achieved any real success since 2002 when they went to the Super Bowl and choked against 2nd-year QB Brady and the Patriots. Newton quickly established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, making a Pro Bowl as a rookie, and running away with the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. He later went on to make multiple playoff appearances, and then in the 2015 season, went to the Super Bowl, and took a lot of criticism for his play and his press conference responses. Newton’s season in 2016 was cut short due to injury, but had a very successful 2017, only for that to end, and then injuries to hamper him the last 2 seasons. But still, the last healthy version of Cam we saw took his team to the playoffs, threw for over 3300 yards and had 28 total touchdowns. Now, with a better offensive line than he had in New England, an all-time great head coach, and having a chance at rejuvenation, Cam Newton is in the best shape of his life and looking to prove everyone wrong.

The Patriots receiving core still is not the best, but you also have to realize how unhealthy they were last season, which led to sloppy, inconsistent play from the players who were able to stay healthy. Edelman led the league in drops with 13, Mohamed Sanu was only with New England for 8 games due to being traded midseason, and due to a nagging injury, did not see the field or targets very often, first-round pick N’Keal Harry only played 7 games with injury, and rookie Jakobi Meyers only started one game, which a 13-9 win against Dallas in Week 9. And do not forget that they never had a consistent tight end option or running game due to injuries, and they had Antonio Brown, Demariyus Thomas, and Josh Gordon at one point, who all got released or traded (Thomas). New England just did not have anything on offense consistently to be a contender, thus their Wild Card game loss. With Newton, they now bring a healthy and more balanced offense. The team is honestly very similar to that of Carolina when they went to the Super Bowl, where they had a big-bodied receiver (Sanu), other good receivers who can play outside and in the slot (Edelman and Harry), a check-down option (White), and a power running back (Michel), and an elite defense to help out. That being said, it is not as good of a receiving core and offense as that in Carolina, more of a ‘Great Value’ version of it, if you will. I think Newton has a chance to show flashes of his MVP form with the similarities in the offense’s structure, but mostly be his 2013-self, where he first showed he could be an elite QB, and there is no better Offensive Coordinator than Josh McDaniels to help lead him.

As for how the team will do, New England should win the division, and I believe Newton will do a great job of leading the team, but I do not anticipate them winning more than 10 games. New England will go 10-6 and hold the tiebreaker over Buffalo to win the division, locking them up with the 3-seed in the AFC. A matchup with a tough Steelers or Chargers team is my prediction, but I think that both teams, due to their elite defenses, will slow the passing attack down, and there simply will not be enough that Newton can do to lead his team to victory, so the season will end at the Wild Card. 

As for his free agency, being on a 1-year deal at the moment, it is up to Belichick to decide what the next move with Cam is. I think that Cam will actually go elsewhere to a younger, more QB-needy team, like the Pittsburgh Steelers, who could be seeing the last of Ben Roethlisberger, but have an exciting and young roster around him, and an elite defense. Also look out for Cleveland and Oakland, other exciting and young teams who, if they choose Newton over their current QBs, would become contenders and could see an infusion of a veteran presence comforting for them.

Can Cam Avoid His Kryptonite, The Injuries? by Rohan Krishnan

To start off, I am definitely a fan of this move by the Patriots. Adding a player at a cheap price to an important position is a very smart decision and this is the perfect example of a low risk high reward move. Cam Newton is indeed 0-8 in his last eight starts, but he was playing with an injured shoulder. When Cam was healthy, he was a very respectable quarterback. From Weeks 1-9 in 2018 when healthy, Newton averaged 236 passing yards per game, totaled 15 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions. Furthermore, Cam was a beast in the running game by leading all quarterbacks in rushing yards (342) and touchdowns (4). 

Signing Newton, a former MVP, is very exciting for the whole Patriots fan base, but I would not say it is a lock that he would start just yet. He has dealt with a lisfranc injury which is very annoying to deal with. He also needs to show up to camp healthy and prove to the coaches that he can still play. This is why the Patriots gave him a very cheap contract because Newton needs to prove himself. If everything goes well in training camp for Cam, I think he would have a very solid comeback season in New England. I do not think he will return to MVP form, but he is capable of playing like a top 12 quarterback in the league. Even though the Patriots lost Tom Brady, they still have an elite coaching staff that could bring out the best out of Cam’s skillset. Josh McDaniels is a fantastic offensive coordinator, and we all know how big of a mastermind Bill Belichick is. I think Newton will prove all of the doubters wrong this season and New England will find a way to continue their playoff streak. I have the Buffalo Bills winning the division even with the Newton signing, but I predict New England will sneak in as a wild-card team. I don’t have them going far in the postseason as I have them losing in the first round, however the Patriots will stay as a competitive squad. 

Can Cam Newton Pave His Road to Glory in Foxborough? By Pranav Thiriveedhi

As everyone already knows, the Patriots recently signed Cam Newton, former Auburn Legend and NFL MVP, to replace Tom Brady, who was arguably the greatest football player to ever play. This move by Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots was spectacular! Being able to grab an amazing NFL QB to replace Tom Brady was an awesome move to keep the Patriots “Super” Era still afloat. Before Cam’s entry into New England, QB Jarrett Stidham, was poised to start for the Patriots and was expected to produce some great work for them to either give the Pats the 1 or 2 seed in the AFC East, which would really be amazing after the biggest loss to the team in franchise history. But now, with Cam Newton under center, the Patriots really have a chance to get back into the driver seat and hold that position as AFC champ for a little more time. 

Obviously, this only makes sense if Cam stays healthy, and plays at a level he did when he took the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl just a few years ago. It’s hard to write about health because that obviously is determined in the game, but what we can talk about is Cam’s playing level on the field. I am not going to lie, but I can see Cam Newton having his best season yet if all goes well. The former Heisman Trophy winner has the best receiving core he has ever played with for the next season, with receivers like Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry and Mohammad Sanu. I don’t think he has played on a team with that many great receivers. Cam Newton also has a little bit of the Christian McCaffrey energy in the form of James White (no argument there) and Sony Michel, who is really showing he can be a brilliant member of the New England Patriots. The Patriots have also given Cam Newton an advantage in the always underrated Offensive Line, a line that always has been sitting in the top 10 in the league for a long, long time. Carolina really didn’t give that opportunity to Cam, which means we never saw Cam Newton perform with more time, something Tom Brady has had the pleasure of having almost his whole career. 

Now with legendary coach Bill Belichick, an amazing offensive coordinator in Josh McDaniels, an awesome receiving core with two running backs that play in all parts of the field, and a top 10 Offensive Line, the Patriots and Cam Newton can really do something next year. I predict that the Patriots will easily get that above 10 wins season and will lock up the AFC East with the 1st seed. They, along with a healthy Cam Newton, will also make a big run in the playoffs, and maybe even have a shot (not a guarantee) at capturing the Super Bowl. 

Links you can use to help educate yourself, donate, sign petitions, and much more for Black Lives Matter and Ending Racism and Social Injustice, as well as everything else going on. With so much going on, it is very hard to keep up with it all, but it is still important to educate yourself, so please feel free to use all of these resources to help you out:

https://www.adhoc.fm/post/black-lives-matter-resources-and-funds/

https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/

https://www.thezoereport.com/p/10-black-lives-matter-organizations-you-can-donate-money-to-right-now-22948855

https://nymag.com/strategist/article/where-to-donate-for-black-lives-matter.html

http://issuesintheworld.carrd.co/

Super Bowl LIII: What to Expect, and Who Wins

17 years ago, Super Bowl XXXVI was played between the then-St. Louis Rams and the New England Patriots. The quarterbacks were Kurt Warner and Tom Brady. Back then, Tom Brady was just 24 years old and a second-year quarterback, and Bill Belichick was in his second season coaching the Patriots. Now players WR Julian Edelman and TE Rob Gronkowski of the Pats were 15 and 12 years old, respectively, Rams coach Sean McVay was 16, and Rams quarterback Jared Goff was 8. On Sunday, Super Bowl LIII will be played between the now-Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots, with players such as Edelman, Gronkowski, and Goff playing, and McVay coaching. Oh, how time flies. But the guys that are still there are Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and they are not showing many signs of not showing up to Super Bowls anytime soon. The Patriots are an older, more experienced team, going against a team of young guys who are new to the Super Bowl party, yet the two teams have very similar playing styles, with prolific passing games on offense, bend-but-don’t-break defenses, and big-play special teams units. Here are how the teams compare, and who will lift the Lombardi Trophy.

The Game, The Teams, The Storylines, and The Prediction

The LA Rams started the season 8-0 and looked like the hottest team in the league until they went into the Superdome and got humbled by the Saints. As the season went on, the offense was questioned, as they began to have a dropoff, as shown in games against Chicago and Philly. They finally showed they belonged in the playoffs with wins against Dallas and New Orleans (which yes, they didn’t deserve to win because of the referees, but we can’t do anything about that anymore). Anyways, everyone knows that Todd Gurley is the best player for the Rams by far, but with him not having been 100% the past few weeks, CJ Anderson has stepped in and been their best player ever since. Bill Belichick is known for taking away the best player(s) from the opposing team, so do not expect Gurley and/or Anderson to have the same type of numbers that they have been the past few weeks. Belichick will force Goff to beat them, and with Goff being a young, yet good quarterback, you can bet Goff will get a bit frazzled at times. Sean McVay, on the other hand, will have to take away Julian Edelman, which if you watch the Patriots play in Super Bowls, you know how hard that is to do. Edelman is always the one who comes up clutch in Super Bowls and always delivers for Brady. As far as matchups go, Patriots have the advantage. As far as experience goes, Patriots have the advantage. As far as the stats and on-paper comparison goes, Rams have the advantage. But what is really going to be the determining factor for this game? Which quarterback has the ball last. This Super Bowl will be quite similar to the past two, where offenses fly around the field, but the offense that blinks first is the one that loses. If I had to guess which offense blinks first, I would go with the Rams. I just do not trust the fact that the Rams secondary can do enough to stop Brady from getting the ball to guys like Edelman (who leads the team in receiving yards this postseason with 247), Gronkowski (who had two touchdowns in Super Bowl LII), and James White (leading the team in receptions, and also holds the NFL record for most receptions in a Super Bowl game with 14 in Super Bowl LI). The Rams pass rush simply is not enough to disrupt the Pats offense, and as far as the Patriots defense goes, while they may not be great, they have all been here before, and they have stepped up to the challenge this postseason. I simply do not see a way that the Patriots lose back-to-back Super Bowls as long as Brady and Belichick are present. Another fun fact, Brady is undefeated against non-NFC East teams in the Super Bowl (two losses to NY Giants, one to Philadelphia Eagles). To all the Rams fans and Patriots haters out there, don’t get too excited. Pats win, 38-34.

Conference Championship Weekend: Who’s Going to Atlanta?

The time of year is quickly approaching. The cold nights of January are perfect for playoff football, so we have to preview the games coming up this Sunday and see who is packing their bags to stay home, and who will live another few weeks and go to Atlanta.

AFC Championship Game: Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots

So, per usual, the AFC Championship Game runs through the Patriots, as it has for the past 8 years. This time, however, we go from cold Foxborough to cold and possibly snowy Kansas City. With the kickoff temperature expected to be in the 20s now rather than in the single digits, fans going to the game can be a bit more excited about the fact that their chances of getting hypothermia and frostbite went down a bit, but this may be just another thing that plays into New England’s advantage. The Patriots play in these temperatures in January all the time, whether they practice in it, or play in it. Kansas City doesn’t know what an AFC Championship Game is like, it has been over 40 years since that last happened. That being said, soon-to-be NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes will lead his Chiefs in a rematch against the GOAT Tom Brady. The last time these teams played was a Sunday night in October, where the offenses were nonstop, defenses non-existent, and Pats Kicker Stephen Gostkowski was money. The game once again will come down to who has the ball last, and who can make the biggest plays at the right moment. The last time they played, Patrick Mahomes found Tyreek Hill on a huge touchdown play late in the 4thbut left over 3 minutes for Brady to work with to get into field goal range. Mahomes better make sure that if he wants to score a touchdown, that he doesn’t leave too much time on the clock, because Brady will find a way. 3 minutes is an eternity for Brady. Despite Brady being 1-4 lifetime on the road in AFC Championship Games, and his best target Rob Gronkowski being AWOL for most of the season, Brady always finds a way, and against a defense as terrible as the Chiefs, he won’t lose. Oh, and not to mention, the biggest choker in NFL history, Chiefs coach Andy Reid, is coaching the Chiefs still (despite all the leads he’s blown, and the lack of playoff wins before this year), so it is safe to say the Chiefs will find a way to lose this game. No betting against Brady here, Pats win.

NFC Championship Game: New Orleans Saints vs. Los Angeles Rams

Another rematch of a game that ended up being an absolute thriller, with the Rams being undefeated at 8-0 at the time, and the Saints being the only team that could seemingly stop them. Surely enough, the Saints were able to end the dominance of LA, and neither team has really slowed down since. The two most complete teams in the NFC will meet again in New Orleans on Sunday, yet this time with some more questions to answer. Will Jared Goff play like he did in November when they played New Orleans (he had 391 yards passing and 3 TDs), or will he play like he did last year in the Rams NFC Wild Card Game against Atlanta? Will Sean McVay prove to be the prodigy the world is amazed by? Will Drew Brees cement his place as potentially the Greatest of All Time? Since the last rematch, Goff has been off-and-on, McVay has proven his prodigy-like skills, and Brees has broken records and put up an MVP-caliber season. Since then, the Saints have also been the #1 scoring defense, which will prove to be the difference on Sunday. The Saints defense’s ability to slow down the Rams potent offense will be what wins them this game. Last week, when they played the Eagles, they were down 14-0 after the Eagles’ first 2 possessions, but the defense didn’t allow any points the rest of the game and came up with the game-winning stop on a Marshon Lattimore interception, all thanks to Alshon Jeffery’s ‘best hands in the NFL’. There will be a ton of points scored for sure, but it will come down to if Jared Goff can outplay Brees and if the Saints defense fails to stop Goff and the Rams. I do not see that happening, so Saints win.

Super Bowl LI: Hotlanta Falcons or Beantown Patriots?

This Super Bowl could be the highest-scoring Super Bowl in the history of the glorious championship game, as these teams are so evenly matched on offense, and lately, also on defense. This game could also be the first to go to overtime, but here is who I believe will be the winner of this game.

How The Teams Stack Up

Atlanta has been hot of late, having won 6 in a row, and they sport the most efficient offense in the NFL. QB Matt Ryan has over 4,900 passing yards, 38 TDs, 83.3 Total QBR (QBR measures what the QB did in the game to try to lead his team to win), and 9.26 yards per attempt (highest in NFL history). WR Julio Jones averaged over 100 receiving yards a game for the 4th straight season, and they also kept a very balanced rushing attack with RBs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. The Patriots QB Tom Brady’s number don’t match up, but considering he only played 12 games, he played phenomenal. 3,554 yards, 28 TDs, and a Total QBR of 83.0 in ONLY 12 games is amazing, and he did it without the help of Rob Gronkowski in the beginning, as well as towards the end of the season. Gronk will not be playing, although he will make the trip with the team to Houston, and backup TE Martellus Bennett did a nice job of replacing him, with 701 yards and 7 TDs. What really gave the Patriots the edge on offense this season was their run game. RB LeGarrette Blount has 1,161 yards rushing and a Patriots team record 18 rushing TDs. His big bulldozing ability helps keep drives alive for the Pats, allowing Brady to have lesser pressure on him and the defense to go after Blount. The defense of the Pats was ranked 7th overall, and 1st in scoring, as opposed to the Falcons who are 22nd overall. The Falcons haven’t needed big defensive performances to win their game this year, but they will need it if they want to be able to win a Super Bowl.

Who Wins and Why?

This game will come down to which team can come up with more defensive stops, and this game probably won’t really have much defense. This defense will be atrocious for both teams in this game, and the offenses will have a ‘walk-in-the-park’ type of game. The X-factor for each team will be their 2nd Wide Receiver, being Mohamed Sanu and Chris Hogan for the Falcons and Pats, respectively. Hogan had 180 yards on 9 receptions and 2 TDs, and Sanu, while he had just 5 catches for 52 yards and a TD, he did create problems in the formations for the Packers defense in their last game. Look for Hogan to have another big game, and CB Malcolm Butler, who will be covering Julio Jones, to be the defensive hero in a Patriot victory. Final Score: 51-48, New England

Super Bowl XLIX: Patriots or Seahawks?

The controversy of the Deflategate surrounding the New England Patriots hasn’t seemed to effect the Patriots. Deflategate really makes no sense because there is no real punishment that New England can see. In 2007, they were involved in Spygate, and nothing happened to New England, so punishing New England 8 years later for something doesn’t even make sense and cannot exactly be proven is just messed up. The Seattle Seahawks, on the other hand, had a miracle happen against the Green Bay Packers 2 weeks back at CenturyLink Field. Literally, a miracle. If Brandon Bostick hadn’t dropped that onside kick, Green Bay would be playing New England (New England won fair and square over the Indianapolis Colts people, so they would be here). Chris Matthews, instead, got the 12th Man roaring like never before, as they forced OT, and won. But honestly, they need more effort if they want to beat New England. Let’s take a closer look at the matchup.

Super Bowl XLIX: New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks

As I said earlier, the effort by Seattle was not the typical type of effort that we normally see. Russell Wilson threw a career-high 4 interceptions, but threw the OT winner. Marshawn Lynch was great as usual, 25 carries, 157 yards, and the touchdown that put Green Bay down 22-19 in regulation. Aaron Rodgers was stellar for the Packers despite the torn calf. If Seattle can’t beat a one-legged quarterback who has won only 1 Super Bowl, how are they going to matchup with a 3-time champ (trying to make himself a 4-time champ)? New England has more weapons than last year’s Denver Broncos team on both sides of the football. On offense, you have Brady, then you have TE Rob Gronkowski, RB LeGarrette Blount, and WRs Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola who could both put the icing on the cake for New England. On defense, they have CB Brandon Browner, who won the Super Bowl last year with the Seahawks, CB Darrelle Revis, the best CB after the Seahawks Richard Sherman, you have LBs Jamie Collins, Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, and DE Vince Wilfork, who solidify your pass rush. Seattle has just Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, and WRs Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse on offense, who aren’t known as great receivers, and defensively, CBs Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell, SS Kam Chancellor, and FS Earl Thomas III, but LBs Bruce Irvin, Cliff Avril, and last year’s Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith cannot matchup with Gronkowski, and neither can Sherman, Maxwell, Chancellor, or Thomas III. Along with that, Seattle struggles with power runners such as LaGarrette Blount, and Edelman and Amendola come up with big, game-deciding plays. Brandon LaFell is another wideout for New England who is key. Also, there have been 12 Super Bowls with a pick-6, and teams with more pick-6’s than the other team are 12-0. Expect Revis, Browner, SS Kyle Arrington, or Collins to take one to the house. This game will be decided by the final drive.

Final Score: 35-28, New England Patriots

MVP: Tom Brady, New England Patriots

NY Jets to Trade Tebow???

There have been rumors that QB Tim Tebow might be traded so that he can become the starter of that team. Here are some trades that could suit Tebow and the Jets as well as many other teams.

Trade Option 1: Tebow to the Carolina Panthers for QB Cam Newton

Many are considering the fact that Newton should be traded, so this will suit both teams because both teams want to trade their QBs from their respective teams.

Trade Option 2: Tebow to the Philadelphia Eagles for QB Michael Vick

Eagles fans desperately want a new QB or at least some new type of offensive scheme that will help them win more games throughout the 2nd half of the season. Tebow might help in some type of way.

Trade Option 3: Tebow and LaDanian Tomlinson to the Jacksonville Jaguars for RB Maurice Jones-Drew and QB Blaine Gabbert

Before Tebow was traded to NY, there were many rumors that he would go to the Jaguars. Many Florida Gators fans would want him back in Jacksonville.

Trade Option 4: Tebow to Arizona Cardinals for John Skelton

Arizona’s offense was red-hot to begin the season, though when Kevin Kolb went down with a ribs injury, John Skelton had took over. After Derek Anderson signed a contract with the Panthers, Skelton had to take over at QB. He was 3-4 as a starter and he was excellent as the starter. Now, it seems that he is a player that has literally lost his mind. If the Cardinals take Tebow in this possible trade, then Tebow might get some great playing time at QB due to the advantage he has with Kolb out, and having targets such as Larry Fitzgerald, Early Doucet, Todd Heap, Jeff King, and rookie Michael Floyd from the University of Notre Dame.

Trade Option 5: Tebow released from Jets and signed by the New England Patriots

When Peyton Manning went to the Denver Broncos, Tebow’s contract was up, and so Denver sent him to the Jets. The Jets are thinking about releasing him, so him going to the Pats would be good because he could play the wildcat or as a RB. Or, Tebow could replace Tom Brady and they could split playing time between each other, so Tebow could play the 1st half, and Brady will lead the way in the 2nd half.

My call: Tebow will either end up in Philadelphia (Philly), Boston (New England), or in Carolina. The Jets will most likely decline all trades from Jacksonville, even though Jacksonville or Carolina are probably the 2 best choices for the Jets to stick with, especially if they want to get rid of Tim Tebow. And so, Tebow ends up in which uniform? We shall await the New York Jets decision from November 1st onwards. Tebow?? Where could he possibly end up before the end of November???

Pats vs. Ravens THE REMATCH

            Finally, what people have been waiting for Pats and Ravens. Pats won last year 23-20. There are many keys to winning.

THE PATRIOTS

            When they run…

Stevan Ridley is a developing back, who continues to impress Pat’s fans. Danny Woodhead shows a lot of speed. Though against Haloti Ngata and this defensive front, who’s better? Woodhead or Ridley? I’d say Ridley because he is a powerful back who knows how to pick the holes

When they PASS…

Aaron Hernandez is injured, though Welker is all over opposing defenses. Watch out Baltimore D.

THE RAVENS

            When they run…

Ray Rice needs to pick the open lanes well, or else Vince Wilfork will stop him for sure.

When they PASS…

Joe Flacco played with poise against the Eagles, and he should do the same here. Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith will be hard to cover.

The winner IS…

Both teams will play well, but the Ravens know how to play tough, aggressive D.

My call: Ravens 16, Patriots 13