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In Depth 2015: Cincinnati Bengals

in-depthUnder the lead of Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati has gone 31-16-1 the last three seasons, making it to the postseason five out of the last six years. But during his 12 year tenure, the Bengals are 0-6 in the playoffs, and the team came no closer to ending that drought in its appearance last year against Indianapolis.

So what’s next for the Bengals? Are Lewis and QB Andy Dalton the duo that will take this team on to the next step, a deeper run in the playoffs? Or is this minor run of solid-but-not-spectacular football as good as it gets under their watch?

Jason Marcum, editor and social media manager at Cincy Jungle, shares his insights.

Zoneblitz: Cincinnati finished 10-5-1 in 2014, made the playoffs for the fifth time in six years and again didn’t win a playoff game. How would you assess the season? Continue reading

In Depth 2015: Philadelphia Eagles

It’s too early to determine whether the Philadelphia Eagles will be better or worse in 2015 than 2014, but the team in-depthcertainly isn’t going to be boring.

The Eagles started the offseason by trading the starting RB (LeSean McCoy)and QB (Nick Foles) from last season’s 10-6 team in separate deals, acquiring QB Sam Bradford and LB Kiko Alonso in those transactions. The Eagles have since added RB DeMarco Murray from Dallas and lost WR Jeremy Maclin to Kansas City for good measure.

Then, as the smoke appeared to be clearing, news broke that Chip Kelly had added the lightning rod, Tim Tebow, to his mix of potential starting QBs – which also currently includes Mark Sanchez and could by this time next week include Marcus Mariota, in the minds of many.

So how will it all shake out? Are the Eagles better or worse than they were when the new league year started? And is Chip Kelly worthy of the trust bestowed upon him to make these decisions? Brandon Lee Gowton, manager and editor-in-chief at Bleeding Green Nation, shares his thoughts.

Zoneblitz: Philadelphia went 10-6 for the second consecutive season under Chip Kelly, but missed the playoffs this time around. What’s your assessment of the season? Continue reading

In Depth 2015: Buffalo Bills

The 21st century has not been kind to the Buffalo Bills, but things may be turning around.in-depth

A solid defense powered Buffalo to a 9-7 record in 2014, good for just the second better-than-.500 season the Bills have had since 1999.

But change is again in the air. Doug Marrone exited his job as head coach, leaving room for the large personality of Rex Ryan, whose bravado sometimes overshadows the fact that he’s coached in two AFC Championship games, to take over the top job. And the Bills traded for Matt Cassel to push EJ Manuel and provide options at QB, and for star RB LeSean McCoy, who should lead the team’s ground attack.

Can the new leadership get Sammy Watkins, McCoy and the offense to gel enough to match the team’s defensive prowess? Or is the hope of a turnaround premature? Matt Warren, an editor with Buffalo Rumblings, shares his thoughts.

Zoneblitz: Buffalo didn’t break the playoff drought, but did finish above .500 for the first time since 2004. How would you assess the 2014 season? Continue reading

In Depth 2015: Kansas City Chiefs

in-depthInjuries and a difficult schedule conspired to cause difficulty for the Kansas City Chiefs in their efforts to follow an 11-5 wild card season. But the Chiefs, despite several key losses, including veteran LB Derrick Johnson and S Eric Berry, remained competitive.

Still, the team suffered some troubling losses and, at times, the offense bogged down, as Jamaal Charles would become invisible and other weapons were not able to step up.

But Travis Kelce and De’Anthony Thomas are a year older. Dwayne Bowe is gone, having been replaced as the top WR by Philadelphia’s Jeremy Maclin. And optimism may be on the rise. How good can this team be? Matt Verderame, editor in chief of Arrowhead Addict, shares his thoughts.

Zoneblitz: The Chiefs endured a lot of injuries in finishing 9-7, down from 11-5 the year before. How would you assess the season?

Verderame: The season was a mixed bag. On one hand, Eric Berry missed most of the year and Derrick Johnson and Mike DeVito missed the whole campaign. Going 9-7 on its face isn’t terrible, although losses to the Raiders and Titans are inexcusable. Kansas City blew a golden opportunity to make the playoffs. Continue reading

In Depth 2015: San Diego Chargers

The San Diego Chargers got off to a great start in 2014, but injuries contributed to a slide in the last 10 games. Now in-depththere are rumors that long-time QB Philip Rivers may be on the trading block and that the Chargers may be interested in a trade for Marcus Mariota.

So is this team a few healthy pieces from being a playoff contender? Or are the Chargers about to hit a semi-rebuilding cycle? Ernie Padaon, editor of Bolt Beat, shared some thoughts.

Zoneblitz: San Diego started 5-1 with a win over Seattle but slid to 9-7 and missed the playoffs. How would you assess the season? Continue reading

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