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The N.F.C. West Has Highlights and Stars. But Can It Contend?



The N.F.C. West has produced the last two conference champions, consists of three teams with 6-3 records, is home to top candidates for the Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year awards, has provided some of the most memorable moments of the 2020 season — and is not really all that good.

The Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks are all fun-but-flawed teams with inflated records. Three of them are hoping that a smattering of superstars can carry them into the N.F.L. playoffs. (With many of the stars of last year’s Super Bowl run on injured reserve, the 49ers are more medical drama than football team at this point.) None appear to be deep, balanced or consistent enough to reach the championship game this season.

The Seahawks threatened to run away with the division when they opened the season with five straight high-scoring victories, including several against self-destructive opponents like the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys. Quarterback Russell Wilson made the most salient case of the field to win the M.V.P. award when he threw 19 touchdown passes in those five games. But Wilson has thrown seven interceptions in his last four outings, three of which were losses. The Seahawks are waiting for someone to step up to take some of the burden off Wilson. They’ve been waiting since roughly 2015.

The Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII and became perennial contenders by finding and developing overlooked prospects like Wilson and cornerback Richard Sherman (now part of the 49ers’ star-studded injury list) in the early 2010s drafts. Unfortunately, this convinced Coach Pete Carroll and General Manager John Schneider that they were alchemists who could transform any late-round selection into gold, so the Seahawks spent the latter half of the previous decade drafting projects and punters instead of addressing their ever-increasing needs.

Neglectful draft noodling has both held Wilson back and depleted the once-mighty Seahawks defense. Jamal Adams, acquired from the Jets in exchange for two first-round draft picks this off-season, is now expected to do the work of several defenders by himself. When Adams drops into coverage, opposing quarterbacks have no fear of the feeble Seahawks pass rush. When Adams blitzes, screen passes turn into 30-yard gains against a short-handed secondary.

The Cardinals were upgraded from plucky playoff hopefuls to legitimate contenders on Sunday when wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins outleapt three Buffalo Bills defenders to snag a last-second game-winning touchdown pass from Kyler Murray, a play which has been ecumenically christened the “Hail Murray.”

The Cardinals also supplanted the Seahawks as the N.F.L. team most likely to win with late-game quarterback heroics — and solely late-game quarterback heroics — in their last meeting, a 37-34 overtime Cardinals victory in Week 7. That game featured Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf chasing Cardinals safety Budda Baker the length of the field and tackling him from behind to prevent an interception-return touchdown, a highlight which has since become a popular political metaphor and meme in some circles.

The last five minutes of any Cardinals game are appointment viewing, but the first 55 often consist of Murray waiting for a software update on his targeting system to install while Coach Kliff Kingsbury calls Rube Goldberg-contraption misdirection plays that result in two-yard gains. The Cardinals lost to the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers earlier in the season, two teams with a combined 7-12 current record, a sign that they are not ready to prevail in a playoff tournament.

The Rams narrowly lost to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII in the 2018 season and have been coasting to a stop ever since. Coach Sean McVay’s offense purrs like a precision-tuned engine until a speck of dust gets into the mechanism. Quarterback Jared Goff looks like Joe Montana so long as his pocket is as clean as a surgical theater. The recent loss of the veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth to a knee injury will require both McVay and Goff to improvise, which they do about as well as a 200-piece marching band. Meanwhile, the Rams’ top-heavy payroll has them fielding a defense consisting of the All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey and lots of no-names and reclamation projects.

The Rams are 4-0 against opponents from the N.F.C. East — the N.F.L.’s notorious skid row district — but just 3-3 against opponents with any pride or dignity. The secret of the N.F.C. West’s success is that each team gets to face all four N.F.C. East tackling dummies, plus the Jets, meaning that five likely victories are baked into each of their schedules. The Seahawks face the Philadelphia Eagles, Giants, Jets and Washington Football Team down the stretch, which could launch them to the top of the divisional pack whether they deserve it or not.

No matter how gaudy their records by season’s end, none of the N.F.C. West challengers appear built to defeat the conference’s Super Bowl favorites. Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers could easily shred the Seahawks defense. Any decent pass rush can turn Goff into a turnover dispensary. Last-minute highlights are not a sustainable formula for playoff success. All of the N.F.C. West teams remain a draft class, some credit repair or months of injury rehabilitation away from being truly great.

But if all you want from November football are some highlights, big names and plot twists, there is no better division in the N.F.L.

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Different types of credit cards explained – and how to know which is best for you



If used efficiently, credit cards can be a good addition when managing your finances (Photo: Shutterstock)
If used efficiently, credit cards can be a good addition when managing your finances (Photo: Shutterstock)

Credit cards are one of the most popular ways to borrow money and can be a convenient card to have in your wallet during financially difficult times. Although it is normally recommended that credit cards be used cautiously as it can often be easy to fall into credit card debt that takes years to clear, if used efficiently they can be a good addition when managing your finances.

When looking for a credit card, you will see that there are many different types of products on offer, with each type of card suited to different needs. Below we’ve outlined some of the most popular reasons for taking out a credit card and the best type of cards for each option.

The best credit card if you want to clear debts

If you already have credit card debt that you are aiming to clear, a 0% balance transfer credit card could be a good option. A 0% balance transfer credit card offers an interest-free period that can last for over two years on some cards, which often makes it easier and cheaper to repay the credit card debt.

Although these cards can be a good way of clearing debt, if you are considering this option, it is important to be aware that some cards charge a balance transfer fee to transfer debts to the 0% balance transfer card. As well as this, keep in mind that interest is added once the interest-free period has ended, so it is usually a good idea to repay as much of the debt as possible before interest is added.

The best credit card if you want to make an expensive purchase

Borrowers with little or no existing credit card debt and who are looking to make an expensive purchase, for example booking a holiday, may want to consider a 0% purchase credit card. These credit cards will not charge interest on purchases made within a pre-agreed period, which can last for up to 20 months.

If you are considering a 0% purchase card, it is important to remember that interest is added once the interest-free period ends, so having a repayment plan in mind when spending on the card will help to clear the debt before the interest-free period has ended.

The best credit card for regular use

If you use your credit cards regularly and are able to repay the full balance each month, you may want to consider a rewards credit card. These cards will allow you to earn rewards or cashback when you spend on the card. Many popular high street supermarkets and stores, such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco, John Lewis and Marks & Spencer, offer reward credit cards that allow you to earn extra points when you shop within their stores.

The best credit card for building credit scores

Having a poor credit score could make it harder to get accepted for a credit card as you will be considered a riskier borrower than someone with a higher score, but there are options available. Credit repair cards are often a popular choice for those with poor credit scores as these cards are specifically designed to help borrowers improve their credit score.

You should be careful using these cards, however, as they often charge a significantly higher rate than other types of credit cards and to avoid getting into unmanageable debt borrowers should try and repay the full balance each month.

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New Trade Association Aims To Improve Consumer Credit Experience



The American Association of Consumer Credit Professionals (AACCP) recently held a press briefing to announce its new formation as a trade association dedicated to advocating for “holistic consumer credit repair.”  Despite the word “repair” missing from the trade group’s name, the association is comprised of credit repair industry experts and advocates for the credit repair industry. 

Responding to a perceived gap between the significant credit problems facing consumers and limited efforts by regulators and lawmakers to help consumers overcome those problems, the AACCP aims to educate consumers about the responsible use of credit and their legal rights and responsibilities about how furnishers and consumer reporting agencies publish information about their creditworthiness.  The group prides itself on being the only consumer advocate in the credit reporting system.  The aim is to “support consumer access to credit through accurate, fair, and substantiated credit reports.”  A short video on the group’s website also promises to protect consumers against bullying by “shadowy debt collectors.” 

The AACCP wants stakeholders in the credit ecosystem to know that they do more than just fix tradelines on consumer reports.  The group’s inaugural announcement and website explain how modern credit repair organizations offer consumers more because they:

  •  Know the industry and the laws designed to protect consumers;
  •  Understand the circumstances of individual consumers to help them raise relevant questions with creditors and other furnishers of credit report information;
  •  Operate with integrity and maintain a strong focus on compliance with applicable statutes;
  •  Help consumers review, analyze and understand their credit reports in order to identify items that may need to be challenged and, if possible, changed;
  •  Advocate on behalf of consumers to resolve potential issues on their credit report with creditors/furnishers and the Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs a/k/a credit bureaus); and
  •  Educate consumers on their credit reports, how to build positive credit, and encourage them to use credit responsibly.


The group describes these services as a “holistic approach to credit repair advocacy.”  A stated focus of this advocacy is to bring racial equity and fairness to the credit system.  The group’s founders are familiar players in the credit repair space, Progrexion and Lexington Law.

The credit repair industry is regulated by state and federal law.  The Credit Repair Organizations Act (15 U.S.C.S. § 1679 et seq.) is the federal law governing all credit repair services.  Like many other consumer protection laws, the CROA prohibits false and misleading behavior, requires certain consumer disclosures, empowers consumers with certain legal rights, and establishes a private right of action for consumers against credit repair organizations that do not follow the law.  Many states have implemented similar laws proscribing certain harmful behavior and mandating consumer-friendly behavior.  Despite a 5-year statute of limitations on violations of the CROA, a quick search revealed only a small number of reported cases involving this statute.  The law has been on the books since September 1996.

The collection industry and the credit repair industry share many similarities.  They are both highly regulated by state and federal laws throughout the country.  Their reputations are shaped most often, not by the law-abiding actors who bring assistance and value to consumers, but instead by the few who disregard the rules and bring harm to consumers.  They each sit on the front lines of consumer interaction, listening to stories of hardship and helping consumers triumph over their credit challenges.  Both industries have also had their share of government and civil scrutiny, with the government going after the biggest players in the marketplace:

…and courts narrowing the application of the Fair Credit Report Act to disputes received “directly” from a consumer:

But the relationship between the credit repair industry and the collection industry has not always been simpatico.  Debt collectors are the recipients of tens of millions of dispute letters from credit repair organizations annually; often perceived as frivolous and unsubstantiated.  Collectors themselves have taken action against credit repair organizations to stop this untoward behavior:

Yet, in the end, both industries pursue their stated purposes of helping consumers overcome financial challenges.  Will this new trade association change public perception?  Will lawmakers be persuaded to pass laws favorable to the credit repair industry?  Will regulators take a kinder, more gentle approach to regulating the credit repair industry?  The impact of this new association on the public, consumers, lawmakers and regulators remains to be seen.  There may be more in common between the collection industry and the credit repair industry than either is willing to admit. 

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New Service Focuses on Merchant Account Placements for Credit Repair Companies | News



SCARBOROUGH, Maine, Feb. 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — E-Commerce 4 IM expands into merchant account placements for credit repair companies looking to accept payments online.

Expanding into new merchant categories as the high-risk-payment-processing landscape continues to evolve, E-Commerce 4 IM’s new service centers around providing merchant accounts and payment gateways to credit repair, credit improvement or education, credit counseling, and credit restoration companies that operate within the USA and process transactions primarily online.

Additionally, E-Commerce 4 IM now caters to an expanded list of e-commerce payment integrations, including traditional shopping carts like WooCommerce, Shopify, Wix, BigCommerce, and ClickFunnels, along with credit-repair-focused software like Credit Repair Cloud, DisputeSuite, ScoreCEO, TrackStar, DisCo, and DebtPayPro.

According to E-Commerce 4 IM president, Alex Roy, the move was a response to the quickly changing needs, and the expected growth of, the US-based credit repair industry. “American credit repair companies are set to experience real growth in 2021, but for too many of them the ability to accept online payments is really hampering their ability to grow, or even launch,” explained Alex. “Ethical online credit repair companies work hard for their customers – and raising credit scores can help clients obtain loans, save on insurance, and even benefit from the pride and confidence that comes from a good credit score. In order to serve clients, though, credit repair companies need an affordable, easy way to accept online payments.”

According to their home page, E-Commerce 4 IM specializes in helping businesses in traditionally high-risk industries find the high-risk merchant services they need to accept credit cards – “without fear of being shut down.” Alex explained: “This will not change as we move into the area of assisting online credit repair companies. We know we can assist US-based credit-repair-focused businesses with affordable merchant services, and that our guidance can sometimes be the final piece a credit repair company needs to thrive.”

According to E-Commerce 4 IM, their mission is to provide “specialized processing for specialized industries.” By limiting their online-merchant-account and chargeback-mitigation client types, which now includes credit repair, EC4IM’s staff can better specialize and provide more tailored information.

“We now concentrate exclusively on providing payment processing and chargeback mitigation to companies that offer credit repair, credit education, credit counseling, online courses (of any type), and mastermind-level personal and business growth events,” stated Alex. “Our focus allows us to provide experienced credit repair businesses with industry-specific credit card processing advice. We’ll recommend – and help set businesses up with – a merchant account that will work for specific needs. In other words – if you offer credit repair, credit improvement or education, credit counseling, credit restoration, or all of the above – we’re ready to help you with payment processing.”

The internet-marketing world is continuously changing, and there are many new possibilities for high-risk businesses like credit repair to succeed, as long as they have the ability to accept credit card payments online. Being in a high-risk industry can make setting up financial services, like a merchant account, far more difficult. Common payment providers like Stripe, Square, and PayPal are often uncomfortable with credit repair businesses and prohibit them from using their platforms. There are multiple reasons why financial institutions and software providers consider credit repair companies “high-risk.” One is that credit repair clients often have had challenges due to being cash-strapped. This can cause high chargeback ratios that in turn increases risks for banks and credit card processors.

Another challenge is that credit repair businesses are under tight scrutiny by regulatory bodies. “It’s a common reason why many companies fall under the ‘high-risk’ label,” Alex Roy explained. “E-commerce 4 IM focuses on specific e-commerce industries and therefore puts itself in a better position to educate online merchants and assist them with finding the best path toward accepting online payments.”

To learn more about how E-Commerce 4 IM’s new program can support credit repair merchants with payment processing, visit

About E-Commerce 4 Internet Marketers:

E-Commerce 4 Internet Marketers is an internet marketing payment service and chargeback-mitigation provider with a focus on the credit repair industry, and online education. For more information, visit or call 1-800-570-1347.

Media contact:

Alex Roy

[email protected] 


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