Category Archives: Preview

2018 NFL MOCK Draft! (With Trades!)

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Penn State’s Saquon Barkley is the best player in this draft. Should Cleveland take him with the first overall pick?

By: Elias McMillan

 

It’s draft week and it is finally time for me to unveil my mock draft. Mock drafts can be classified as mostly pointless. Probably because we are overly saturated with them from the moment football season ends. I realized this and I ask myself, “How can I make my mock draft even more pointless?” This is how I arrived at the idea of doing my first mock draft with trades. Now, I’ll have selections and trade scenarios that probably will not happened. With that being said, (once again) the Cleveland Browns are on the clock…..

ROUND ONE

1. Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold, QB, USC: Cleveland has the first overall pick again this year and this time, they will not pass on a QB. With that decision, they are risking missing out of the best player in the draft. But they do have enough assets to maybe trade up to the very next pick. With this selection, the Browns will give themselves a potential QB of the future to groom behind Tyrod Taylor. Sam Darnold will be the first QB taken in the draft for the same reason why Mitch Trubisky went at number two last year: potential. Darnold may not be ready to play right away but he has the potential to be a top QB in the league. There are QB’s in this draft that may have a better arm and may be more athletically gifted than Darnold, but he is play maker. We can’t get too wrapped up around arm strength. Darnold can get the ball out to his playmakers as well as any QB in this draft.

((((TRADE)))) Giants trade second overall pick and 4th rounder (108) to Bills for 12th overall pick, 22nd overall, 2nd round pick (56), and a 2019 1st round pick

2. Buffalo Bills – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA: After dumping Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland, Buffalo needs to make the big move up to grab a franchise QB. The Giants could very well take a QB or the best player available here. But they seem to be committed to Eli Manning for one more year (for some reason) and I think the Bills will give the Giants an offer that they can’t refuse. It would be funny if the Giants said no to THREE first rounders just to draft a running back but I don’t see that happening. The Giants will gain future assets with the haul from Buffalo and the Bills will get a QB in Rosen who is the most pro ready out of this draft class.

3. New York Jets – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma: The Jets traded up with the Colts to take a QB and I have them taking the Heisman winner out of Oklahoma. Baker Mayfield has been a lightning rod for discussion for some reason during this draft process. I think Mayfield has plenty of question marks from his hype and his attitude but I think he is a good player. My issue with him is that he has most likely peaked already as a QB. Mayfield was a walk-on at a D-1 program and ended up winning the Heisman at one of the most storied programs in college football. Its an amazing story. For him to be successful at the next level, I think he needs time to soak up information in a veteran heavy locker room in order to humble himself. The Jets already have a couple of vets at the position so, Mayfield will have plenty of time to study up and later prove himself.

4. Cleveland Browns – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State: This is the dream scenario if your Cleveland. You take a risk with drafting a QB first overall but then the best player in the draft is still available at the fourth pick. I have been a long time supporter of NOT drafting a running back in the top 10 of the draft but I’m willing to ignore that this time because of the team involved. My thing is that team’s that regularly compete for championships usually do not draft RB’s early. Well, Cleveland isn’t competing for championships anytime soon. They just need to best talent. I think Barkley was better at Penn State than Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette were in college. Barkley has everything you would want at the RB position and he would join a talented RB group in Cleveland, which will be key for keeping him fresh. Barkley could totally transform the Browns offense and the league, as he reminds me of the second coming of Marshall Faulk.

5. Denver Broncos – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming: I don’t believe that John Elway is ready to roll with Case Keenum. I’m not a big fan of Josh Allen but I know that he’ll probably end up going after Mayfield in the draft. Allen has the strongest arm in the draft and is sort of athletic, so the scouts absolutely love him. I feel like QB’s like him always look the part during the process getting to the draft but then they end up not panning out. I can see Denver falling for this in this draft.

6. Indianapolis Colts – Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State: The Colts, who traded back, will end the run on QB’s. Bradley Chubb is the best pass rusher in this draft. Chubb isn’t as dynamic as an athlete as last year’s number one pick, Myles Garrett. But he is still really good and the Colts sack totals as a team last season ranked among the bottom in the league. They could absolutely use his talents.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama: Minkah Fitzpatrick is one of the most versatile players in this draft. Tampa could use him as a ball hawk safety or as a pass defender in nickel situations. Fitzpatrick has a knack for making plays around the football and thats something that the Bucs defense could use. Their pass defense ranked last in the league in 2017.

8. Chicago Bears – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech: The Bears need a new inside presence at linebacker. Edmunds looks like he could play for the Bulls. He is crazy athletic but plays with a certain physicality that will make him popular with Chicago fans.

((((TRADE)))) 49ers trade ninth overall pick to Giants for 12th overall pick and 2nd round pick (34).

9. New York Giants – Quentin Nelson, OG, Notre Dame: After trading out of the top ten, the Giants return to help their offensive line. Nelson is regarded as the best offensive lineman in the draft and drafting him could go a long ways in helping the Giants run game improve.

10. Oakland Raiders – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia: Roquan Smith is probably the best LB in the draft and rumor has it that Jon Gruden really likes him. Smith could probably go higher than 10 but there are some whispers about injury concerns. But if healthy, Smith will be a do-it-all defender in the middle of the Raiders defense for years to come.

11. Miami Dolphins – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama: The Dolphins need a Ndamukong Suh replacement. Payne is a disruptor that would shine in Miami’s 4-3 scheme.

12. San Francisco 49ers – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State: The Niners will land the best corner in the draft. Ward is a short but scrappy defender. He offers great speed and quickness while supplying ideal support in the run game as a tackler. Richard Sherman will serve as a great mentor for him.

13. Washington – Vita Vea, DT, Washington: Washington had the worst run defense in the league last season despite having one of the better defensive tackles dropping to them in the first round of last year’s draft. Vita Vea is an absolute load that will demand plenty of attention from opposing offensive lineman.

14. Green Bay Packers – Marcus Davenport, OLB/DE, UTSA: I think the Packers will think hard about taking a WR here but I also think they need to start thinking about life after Clay Matthews. I have them taking Marcus Davenport. He’s a small school product but is one of the best edge defenders in this draft.

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Lamar Jackson probably should be drafted in the top ten.

15. Arizona Cardinals – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville: I don’t like the way Arizona handled their QB situation during this offseason. Placing your faith in Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon doesn’t really inspire much confidence. But it does tell me that they need to think about taking a QB for the future. Lamar Jackson is as talented as any QB in this draft. There are question marks about his durability, his arm, and his talent as a passer. But you could easily say the same about every QB in this draft. Jackson may have to prove himself as a passer early in his career but he has one thing that is undeniable in his wheelhouse: speed. Jackson has “home run” capable speed in his arsenal, which will make him attractive to NFL teams. I think Arizona would be smart to take a chance with this kid who won the Heisman as a junior in college.

16. Baltimore Ravens – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame: Baltimore could go a lot of ways with this selection. I chose for them to play it safe and shore up the right side of their offensive line. The Ravens could potentially take Joe Flacco’s successor here or a new weapon in the passing game. But, an offensive tackle to help that offense isn’t a bad idea.

17. Los Angeles Chargers – Derwin James, S, Florida State: This will probably be consider a steal in most draft circles. Derwin James is a “do-it-all” defender in the secondary. I question how high his ceiling is as he doesn’t seem like a great pass defender but more of a “in-the-box” safety. But his athleticism and physicality will help him become very successful no matter the role he finds in the secondary.

18. Seattle Seahawks – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa: Richard Sherman is gone. The Legion of Boom is going under a face lift and a corner here would make a ton of sense.

((((TRADE)))) Cowboys trade 19th overall pick and 4th round pick (116) to Patriots for 23rd overall pick and 2nd round pick (63).

19. New England Patriots – Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA: The Patriots desperately need a replacement for Nate Solder on the offensive line. So, they’ll trade up with Dallas to grab the next best tackle. Kolton Miller will remain Patriots fans of Solder with how tall he is and hopefully with his play. New England will need Miller to play at a high level right away especially for an older QB.

20. Detroit Lions – Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan: The Lions are looking for youth on the defensive line. Hurst, from near by Ann Arbor, is undersized but very talented as a pass rusher.

21. Cincinnati Bengals – James Daniels, C, Iowa: Cincinnati’s running game has suffered in the last couple seasons. They need to shore up the interior of their offensive line to help Joe Mixon and Gio Bernard.

22. New York Giants – Harold Landry, DE, Boston College: After trading away Jason Pierre Paul, the Giants are in need for pass rushers. Landry has been one of the top pass rushers in college football during the last two seasons. He will fill a need for the Giants who have this selection due to a trade earlier with Buffalo.

23. Dallas Cowboys – Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP: Dallas could easily go with a WR or LB in the first round. But I think the Dez Bryant release taught us that they will depend heavily on the run game going forward now more than ever. Dallas can solidify the left guard position by drafting Hernandez who is an absolute mauler.

24. Carolina Panthers – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama: Cam Newton would love this selection. Ridley is the first WR off the board but he will probably go before the 24th pick. Ridley offers great speed and elite route running but he isn’t your prototypical Alabama receiver. He isn’t as physically gifted as Julio Jones and he is more like a lesser version of Amari Cooper. Ridley is a good player and he could be a good pro but he doesn’t have that “wow” factor like WR’s in past drafts.

25. Tennessee Titans – Leighton Vader Esch, LB, Boise State: Vader Esch is another player who might go closer to the middle of the first round despite rumors about his health. He is a good down hill tackler as a LB and he would provide some much needed depth at the position for Tennessee.

26. Atlanta Falcons – Taven Bryan, DT, Florida: Florida’s Taven Bryan will offer some versatility on the Falcons defensive line. He is big enough to play inside and is athletic enough to rush from the outside. He is raw as a football player and he may be a project before becoming a full time contributor.

27. New Orleans Saints – Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina: The Saints get Drew Brees the top TE in the draft.  Hurst, a former baseball player, could help create some mismatches with his height.

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With the Ryan Shazier injury, Pittsburgh could really use a LB like Rashaan Evans

28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama: Pittsburgh needs LB help with the status of Ryan Shazier in the air. Taking a Alabama LB has proven to be risky recently outside of Baltimore’s CJ Mosley. But Evans is among one the most talented players at the position in the draft. I think he is undersized but in a 3-4 scheme, Pittsburgh could use him in the middle or as a situational pass rusher.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars – D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland: Moore is probably my favorite WR in this draft. Moore is a quick, tough, playmaker who reminds me of another Maryland receiver: Stephon Diggs. Jacksonville should be looking for a WR after losing Allen Robinson in free agency.

30. Minnesota Vikings – Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia: Minnesota is excited about Kirk Cousins but they should really be excited about the return of Dalvin Cook who missed most of last season due to injury. With a healthy Cook and this selection of a young, upcoming guard, Minnesota could have a really strong running game.

31. New England Patriots – Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn: New England’s secondary has been a joke for a while now. They need help.

32. Philadelphia Eagles – Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville: Philadelphia’s secondary isn’t that much better than New England’s. Jaire Alexander is a playmaker who does his most damage as a returner, usually after interceptions.

ROUND TWO

33. Cleveland Browns – Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford: Cleveland can address their run defense with this selection.

34. San Francisco 49ers – Justin Reid, S, Stanford: San Francisco moved on from Eric Reid so they’ll draft his little brother from nearby Stanford here.

35. Cleveland Browns – Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh: Joe Thomas retired this offseason. The Browns need young bodies on that offensive line.

36. Indianapolis Colts – Derrius Guice, RB, LSU: Frank Gore left to go home to Miami. Indy desperately needs a young RB.

37. Indianapolis Colts – Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida: The Colts have two straight selections in round two. With the second one, they’ll take a corner to replace Vontae Davis who was traded away to Buffalo.

38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Sony Michel, RB, Georgia: Sony Michel has shot up draft boards during this process. He was considered the “second banana” in the backfield while at Georgia but he helped form one of the better RB duos in CFB. Michel isn’t the fastest RB but he can get tough yards and prove to be valuable on passing downs.

39. Chicago Bears – Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado: You can never have enough corners.

40. Denver Broncos – Ronald Jones, RB, USC: Denver recently cut C.J. Anderson and that created a need at RB.

41. Oakland Raiders – Joseph Noteboom, OT, TCU: Oakland needs depth behind Donald Penn at tackle.

42. Miami Dolphins – Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State: This could be the steal of the draft. Gesicki has the ideal size and speed that team’s would want at TE. Miami needs a target at TE after the disaster that was Julius Thomas.

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New England needs to find a possible Brady successor in round two. Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph could be it.

43. New England Patriots – Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State: The Patriots got rid of three different Tom Brady backups in the past two years. Rudolph would make a lot of sense here.

44. Washington – Donte Jackson, CB, LSU: Washington doesn’t have much at corner behind Norman and newly acquired Orlando Scandrick.

45. Green Bay Packers – Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M: Kirk will prove to be a great receiver in the slot for Aaron Rodgers.

46. Cincinnati Bengals – Darius Leonard, OLB, South Carolina State: The Bengals need to start grooming a replacement for the problematic Vontaze Burfict at LB. Leonard is a small school product but offers much athleticism.

47. Arizona Cardinals – Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma: Arizona had one of the worst offensive line last season. They need to explore a way to upgrade that unit for no matter who is starting at QB.

48. Los Angeles Chargers – Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech: The Chargers need to get younger on the defensive line. Tim Settle is one of the biggest defensive tackles in the draft and he’ll help improve LA’s run defense.

49.Indianapolis Colts – Connor Williams, OG/OT, Texas: The Colts could use a young blocker to help improve their run game. Conor Williams could play at tackle or move inside to guard.

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After the release of Dez Bryant, Dallas might not have to look far for WR help.

50. Dallas Cowboys – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU: Dallas created a need at WR when they released Dez Bryant last week. Courtland Sutton is a local kid who would love the chance to become an outside threat for Dak Prescott in the passing game. Sutton isn’t a speedster but his size makes it hard for defenders to deal with. He could develop as a new jump ball target in the red zone for Dallas.

51. Detroit Lions – Billy Price, OG/C, Ohio State: The Lions need help at improving one of the worst running games in football from a season ago. The selection of Price would address the woes on the interior of Detroit’s offensive line.

52. Baltimore Ravens – Tegray Scales, LB, Indiana: Baltimore needs depth at LB behind all-pro C.J. Mosley.

53. Buffalo Bills – Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis: Miller could develop into an ideal slot receiver as a pro.

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Arden Key was a pass rush specialist at LSU

54. Kansas City Chiefs – Arden Key, OLB, LSU: After the departure of Tamba Hali, the Chiefs need to find younger pass rushers. Key is undersized but could excel as an outside rusher in a 3-4 defense.

55. Carolina Panthers – Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama: Carolina needs help in the secondary after addressing the offensive side of the ball earlier.

56. New York Giants – Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia: Chubb might have a lot of milage on him but he was one of the most talented backs in college football during his time at Georgia.

57. Tennessee Titans – Lorenzo Carter, OLB, Georgia: Tennessee can use Carter for depth behind veterans Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan.

58. Atlanta Falcons – Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State: Atlanta never get enough out of the TE position. They need an upgrade.

59. San Francisco 49ers – Austin Corbett, OG, Nevada: This pick would be for depth for recently signed Jonathan Cooper.

60. Pittsburgh Steelers – Will Richardson, OT, NC State: Pittsburgh’s offensive line is pretty good but they aren’t getting younger. Especially at the tackle position.

61. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jerome Baker, OLB, Ohio State: Jacksonville may need a young LB to replace Paul Posluszny who recently retired.

62. Minnesota Vikings – Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State: You can never have enough pass rushers.

63. Dallas Cowboys – Nyheim Hines, RB, NC State: This could be a reach but Dallas needs to think about the RB position after the retirement of Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris was not resigned. Hines is a speedy back who could develop into a Darren Sproles type player.

64. Cleveland Browns – James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State: Washington was regarded as one of the top pass catchers in the nation while at Oklahoma State. He could provide whoever is at QB with a pretty reliable target.

 

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NFL Playoffs: Super Bowl LII Prediction!

2015 BET Awards - Show

“Ms. Jackson…….if you’re nasty…….”

By: Elias McMillan

 

Conference Championship Sunday: 1-1

Playoffs: 4-6

Super Bowl 52 from U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Philadelphia Eagles vs. New England Patriots

Janet Jackson was the youngest star out of the famed and talented Jackson family. After her first two solo albums which were produced under the watchful eye of her father and manager, Joe Jackson, Janet was looking forward to setting out on her own.

On her third solo album, Janet teamed with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis to create “Control”. The crossover pop album found big success with singles “Nasty” and “What Have You Done for Me Lately”. The album went on to be highly acclaimed and nominated for multiple honors but Janet was merely scratching the surface.

In 1989, Janet released her fourth album “Rhythm Nation 1814”. The album included one of the most iconic music videos for the title track “Rhythm Nation” and radio hits “Miss You Much” and “Escapade”. The 1990 Rhythm Nation World Tour, which sold out in record times, established Janet’s status as the “Queen of Pop” for the new decade.

Janet returned to the studio four years later with her self-titled album “Janet”. Lead single “That’s the Way Love Goes” went on the win a Grammy. The album also included massive hits “Anytime, Anyplace” and “Again”, which was written for the film that Janet starred in “Poetic Justice” and was also nominated for an Oscar.

Janet’s next album “The Velvet Room” signaled a change of direction for her career. The album addressed social issues while veering away from the pop genre and included more hip-hop and funk influences. Despite some criticism, the album went triple platinum with hits “Got ‘til It’s Gone” featuring Q-Tip, “I Get Lonely”, and “Together Again”.

As the new millennium approached, Janet prepared for another run to the top of the charts in music while fitting in movie appearances. After collaborating with reggae star Shaggy and rapper Busta Rhymes for a couple hits, Janet was set to appear in the Nutty Professor sequel. The film became her second to open at the box office at number one along with 93’s Poetic Justice. The main single from the film, “Doesn’t Really Matter”, became her 9th number 1 hit on the billboard charts.

Before the release of her next album, “All for You” in 2001, Janet was set to be honored by MTV as a “Icon”. “All for You” went on be a massive success as the exposure from MTV opened the door for her to dominate radio stations and collaborate with younger artists. “Someone to Call My Lover” and “Son of a Gun” featuring Missy Elliott received heavy radio play. So did collaborations with Beenie Man and producer super group, “The Neptunes”, for “Feel It Boy”.

Janet was in the middle of another impressive run when MTV choose her to perform at the halftime of Super Bowl XXXVIII with Nelly, P. Diddy, Kid Rock, and Justin Timberlake. What followed ended up becoming infamous. The “wardrobe malfunction” pretty much invented Youtube. Debate rages on to this day about who was at fault in the incident. Was it a planned publicity stunt? Did Janet know what was going to happen? Did Timberlake botch the “pull away”? No matter what you believe, the affects from the aftermath of the incident clearly hampered a career.

Janet was blacklisted from the Grammys that year. Her songs and videos were pulled off stations across the nation. Janet issued an apology and so did Timberlake. It was Timberlake who pulled off the clothing in the incident, but he received no such backlash.

Janet released three more albums since then, but none reached the heights of her previous releases. No one can remain the “Queen of Pop” forever, I guess. But Janet’s stardom had more legs underneath it before the Super Bowl controversy and we never got to see its fruition. With over 100 million records sold, a crazy amount of hits, and some stints on the silver screen, Janet’s impact on pop culture is undeniable. Her success greatly outweighs any past controversy, as she is one of the greatest pop artists of all time.

She just wrapped up her eighth national tour.

Prediction: Patriots 33 – Eagles 27

NFL Playoffs: 2018 Conference Championship Sunday Predictions!

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In the AFC, the Jacksonville Jaguars are looking to “steal the show”.

By Elias McMillan

 

Divisional Round: 2-2

Playoffs: 3-5

Conference Championship Sunday

AFC Championship Game

Jacksonville @ New England – The Jacksonville Jaguars are looking like the 2000 Baltimore Ravens right now. The Jaguars went into Pittsburgh last Sunday and punked a Steeler team that may have been over looking them. Jacksonville took it too Pittsburgh and didn’t let up. I was impressed with how QB Blake Bortles ran the offense against a shorthanded Pittsburgh defense. The Steelers scored 42 points and their QB threw for a bunch of yards but don’t buy into those numbers. Jacksonville got off to a 21-0 start and Pittsburgh was just playing catch up for the entire game. I don’t think the stat sheet tells the story of how good the Jaguars defense is. The Jaguars have one more hurdle in their Cinderella Super Bowl run: the New England Patriots. New England survived a sort of slow start against Tennessee last Saturday and was able to put their opponent away in the 2nd half. The Patriots will be hosting yet another AFC Championship game but this one could be a much greater challenge in comparison to past recent years. The Patriots are great again this season for all the same reasons. They have QB Tom Brady. He leads an offense that can score a lot of points when called upon. No one can cover TE Rob Gronkowski. The defense isn’t great but they over achieve at times. And they are lead by a master football mind in Bill Belichick. Despite all of this, like in season’s past, I still feel that the Patriots are very beatable. In terms of this Sunday, Jacksonville matches up well against them. To stop the Patriots offense, you better have a defense that can rattle the QB. Jacksonville has strong play up front. They have excellent LBs. And their secondary is usually good despite giving up all those yards last week. Brady may also be dealing with a bum hand so, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is tough sledding for the New England offense. Bortles played a game last week where he wasn’t going to be the reason why Jacksonville would lose. I’m not sure if the Jaguars offense will be able to be so successful this week. I think they were aided by the absence of LB Ryan Shazier. I said earlier that New England’s defense is suspect but they did defend the run quite well last week and Tennessee was barely able to get into the end zone for the second time until after the game was out of reach. Despite how well the Jacksonville defense may play, they will still need the offense to score points and I don’t think I trust them to perform well enough again in two straight weeks on the road. The brain trust in New England is still strong and I believe the offense will find a way to consistently get down the field. I think Gronkowski and the different RB’s from out the backfield may create some bad matchup for Brady to exploit. New England is the safe pick. No picked Jacksonville last week and I think they have a real chance to shock everyone again. But I’m not brave enough to pick it. Business as usual in the AFC. Prediction: Patriots 30 – Jaguars 22

NFC Championship Game

Minnesota @ Philadelphia – The Eagles did a great job at home last week grinding out a victory against Atlanta. I shouldn’t have been as shocked that the Falcons under performed, again, but I feel they still could have won that game at the end. It came down to Julio Jones miss timing on a jump ball in the end zone. Julio Jones. Not some rookie. Regardless, we have to give Philadelphia’s defense credit for limiting Atlanta’s scoring chances. They will now host the NFC Championship game on Sunday against a Minnesota team that is coming off a miracle victory. As awesome was Minnesota’s triumph was last Sunday, the Vikings have to erase it from their memory and focus up on the task at hand. Both of these teams are very similar. They both offer good defenses, solid running games, and receivers that are capable to creating big plays down the field. Its hard for me to read how good Case Keenum is but he has done a great job at running this offense this season. He could be the difference in this game because honestly, I’m not expecting much form Nick Foles. Foles didn’t make any mistakes last week but he will face a much tougher defense in this game. Minnesota and Philadelphia both have solid defenses but I think I’ll give a slight edge to the Vikings. They are much younger at key positions and I believe that they have a stronger secondary than Philly’s. I think Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen will have their chances to make plays if Keenum is able to stand in the pocket. Playing at home will definitely serve as an advantage for the birds but I think Minnesota has the better team on paper. Honestly, this game is a toss up. I’m not sure how strongly I feel about it but I like Minnesota to end their misery in conference championship games and therefor becoming the first team to advance to the Super Bowl in their host city. Prediction: Vikings 26 – Eagles 20

NFL Playoffs: 2018 Divisional Round Predictions!

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Philadelphia will have to ride their top ranked defense if they hope to advance pass Atlanta.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Wild-Card Round: 1-3

Playoffs: 1-3

Divisional Round

Atlanta @ Philadelphia – I guess I should be embarrassed for taking the Rams last week. The Falcons showed their experience and pretty much shut down L.A. on the road. Now, come a big test in the number one seeded Eagles. It is a big test for Atlanta because they are the favorites and now everyone is expecting to see the Atlanta team from last post season. I think Atlanta is different from a season ago but chances are they will probably get to their second straight NFC Championship game on Saturday. Atlanta brings to the table an offense with a ton of potential in the passing or running game. Philadelphia has been able to lean on its defense this season so that will be a key matchup in this game. I feel confident that the Eagles defense will do everything in their power to try to win this game for the home team. The Falcons have a pair of good RB’s but Philly is strong against the run. The Eagles are vulnerable in the secondary and it should be interesting to see if Matt Ryan can figure out a way to make Julio Jones a big factor in the game. I think this game will turn on the Eagles lack of offense. I have no reason to have confidence in QB Nick Foles. Especially when Atlanta’s defense is playing well. The Eagles were one of the top running teams on offense in the league this season but Atlanta did a really good job limiting Todd Gurley a week ago. I don’t think they will let Jay Ajayi or LeGarrette Blount get off too many big gains. I think Atlanta will be able to ride their defense and just get enough out of their offense to advance to next week while ending Philadelphia’s season. Prediction: Falcons 21 – Eagles 16

Tennessee @ New England – The Titans were a nice surprise last weekend as they came back from a 21-3 hole to win in Kansas City. They will have to get it done on the road again this week against top seeded New England. I think Tennessee stands a better chance in this game than most people are giving them. Really, I do. New England is New England. But they can be knocked off their game. They are beatable. I don’t have much faith in the Titans defense though. Shutting out Alex Smith for one half is one thing compared to going up against Tom Brady. New England has so many weapons and so many ways to attack. Tennessee will have problems with the Patriots balanced attack. Tennessee is really physical up front on defense so I want to see if they can defend the run well again this week while putting heat on Brady. I big part of last week was that Travis Kelce was knocked out of the game. The Titans will have to account for another dominant, pass catching TE in Rob Gronkowski. I think New England will have an advantage their. The main reason why New England is beatable is because of their defense. Marcus Mariota had a strong second half last week in Kansas City but he has been wildly inconsistent this season. Mariota has Derrick Henry to lean on and Tennessee has a pretty good record with him as the main option in the run game. Outside of Henry and TE Delaine Walker, Tennessee really doesn’t have a lot of reliable players at the skill positions for Mariota to go to. Tennessee may have a “fighter’s chance” but New England should be able handle business at home. I can see Brady having his way with the Titans secondary and Mariota will over extend himself trying to keep up. Prediction: Patriots 38 – Titans 23

Jacksonville @ Pittsburgh – Jacksonville’s win over Buffalo last week sure wasn’t pretty but it was definitely better than losing. The Jaguars will take their strong defense to Pittsburgh on Sunday to face a Steelers team they defeated earlier this season. Week 5 was a long, long time ago but I think Jacksonville can take a lot from what happened in that game and maybe find themselves with a chance to score a big upset on Sunday. There is a lot of talk about the Jaguars having to deal with playing in the cold weather on the road. But playoff football usually comes down to two things: defense and the run game. And Jacksonville has both. The Jaguars have studs on the defensive line that can stuff the run and pressure the QB. They have a talented group of linebackers. And their secondary is close to what Seattle had a few years ago, led by standout Jalen Ramsey. All that being said, Pittsburgh has a really good offense. We all know what Ben Roethlisberger is capable of in January. I do have questions about how WR Antonio Brown will look, as he will be returning after dealing with a lower leg injury. Even if Brown is rusty, Pittsburgh’s WR core is solid. RB Le’Veon Bell is one of the best at his position in the game but Jacksonville did such a great job against him earlier this season. I think this will be a game where the Steelers offense cannot abandon the run. Bell can lead this offense when called upon. I know that the Steelers are not a run first offense anymore but Bell need at least more than 25 touches. For the Jaguars, their offense is a point of weakness but they can at least run the ball. RB Leonard Fournette is ready for another heavy workload. He had a strong performance in Pittsburgh in Week 5 and this time around, he’ll be facing the same defense without its starting middle LB. I believe Pittsburgh could be vulnerable defending the run in this game but unfortunately Jacksonville can’t run it every play. Eventually QB Blake Bortles will have to try to look like a NFL QB in this game. I don’t think Bortles is the worst starter in the league but the Pittsburgh secondary will have to be really off their game for him to be able to do anything substantial. Much like in 2007, I think the Jaguars have the tools to upset the Steelers on Sunday but I’m not brave enough to pick it. It will be tough sledding for the Pittsburgh offense but they’ll find a way to outscore a Jaguars team that may have problems on their own scoring points on the road. Prediction: Steelers 23 – Jaguars 13

New Orleans @ Minnesota – New Orleans clearly outclassed Carolina at home last week. They didn’t add any “cool” points with the way they finished but they at least got the job done. I believe they will face a tall task this week in Minnesota. The Vikings are very tough at home and the Saints should remember that. Minnesota opened this season beating the Saints at home. New Orleans will be looking to reverse that result on Sunday. I like Minnesota in this game because of their defense. I think Drew Brees will not have the passing windows that he had last week against Carolina. Minnesota does a great job at limiting the run with their front seven. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram found it hard to find space last week and I think that will continue in Minnesota. The Saints also bring into this game a good defense. New Orleans has a legit secondary this year and they are coming off a game where the pass rush made a big impact. But I think the Vikings offense will be able to excel by just playing at their own pace while not trying to do too much. QB Case Keenum will use the running game to keep Brees on the bench but he will also take his shots down field as he has a top-notch group of receivers. I think Brees has an edge over Keenum but Minnesota’s defense has an edge over on New Orleans’. Prediction: Vikings 29 – Saints 21

NFL Playoffs: 2018 Wild-Card Weekend Predictions!

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The Bills will be looking for their first post season win since 1995 in Jacksonville on Sunday.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 9-7

2017 Regular Season: 151-103

NFL Playoffs: Wild-Card Weekend

Tennessee @ Kansas City – The Chiefs bounced back nicely near the end of the regular season to win their second straight AFC West title. They may not be as strong as they were a season ago, especially on the defensive side, but they are playing well going into the post season. I can’t say that about the Titans. I was waiting for Tennessee’s playoff chances to just die out but luckily they seem to just have Jacksonville’s number. Up until last Sunday, the Titans were trending downwards but they were able to take advantage of poor QB play to clinch a spot in the playoffs. Tennessee’s defense has been inconsistent from most of 2017 and I think Kansas City has the weapons to expose that unit on Saturday. RB Kareem Hunt led the league in rushing this season and he was key in December in helping end Kansas City’s mid season slide. QB Alex Smith has been proven to play well against poor secondaries and Tennessee’s ranks near the bottom in the league. I think WR Tyreke Hill and TE Travis Kelce will have their opportunities in this game. Kansas City usually has a strong front seven on defense but injuries have hurt them this year. Justin Houston is still one of the best pass rushers in the game and in the secondary, you can count CB Marcus Peters to make a play or shut down a side of the field. For Tennessee, QB Marcus Mariota has had a problem with accuracy this season. With TE Delanie Walker as one of the few reliable targets in the passing game, Mariota has had to lean on the run game this year, which really hasn’t been a bad thing. RB DeMarco Murray is a capable back but he will be out this week. That may not be that big of a blow as RB Derrick Henry is having a break out season splitting carries with Murray and leading the team in rushing. Henry is a nice change of pace from Murray but he will have to be a every down back in this game. Tennessee’s front seven on defense is under rated but offense’s with capable QB play should be able to handle them. With Arrowhead rocking, this should be a slam-dunk for the home team. Prediction: Chiefs 38 – Titans 21

Atlanta @ Los Angeles – This is an old school NFC West matchup if you remember how the divisions were formatted in the early 90’s. I wish the NFL would allow the Falcons to wear their throwback red jerseys and the Rams can wear their throwback royal blues with yellow. Anyways, this matchup will have the NFC Champion from a season ago against a Rams team that finally broke thru this year. Atlanta is a team that is definitely capable of making a run back to the Super Bowl with the talent they have on both sides of the ball. But for whatever reason, they have under performed and have been inconsistent this year. It almost cost them a chance to get back into the playoffs. QB Matt Ryan must have a strong game on Saturday night. He will be facing a Rams defense that struggles against the run but is among the league leaders in sacks. The Falcons must do anything in their power to account for DT Aaron Donald who is as good of a defender than anyone in the league. Despite having that strength in the middle of the defense, the Rams are vulnerable against the run. RB Devonta Freeman might have a chance to help Atlanta run a balanced attack on offense. WR Julio Jones is still one of the best in the league but Ryan must find a way to increase his scoring chances. Atlanta’s defense has quietly delivered this season but they’ll face a tall task in slowing down RB Todd Gurley. Gurley has established himself as a legit MVP candidate and he has been a driving force behind the turn around of his QB, Jared Goff. LA’s balanced and steady attack on offense has served them well this season. Keeping the pressure off Goff will be key in this game as Atlanta offers a decent pass rush. Between Gurley and Donald, the Rams have the two best players in this game and I think they’ll be able to ride them both to a home victory on Saturday night. Atlanta has the potential to make this a close one though. Prediction: Rams 24 – Falcons 20

Buffalo @ Jacksonville – Thanks to Cincinnati, Buffalo is everyone’s lovable underdog in this post season. The Bills will be making their first playoff trip in 17 years and they’ll be looking for their first playoff victory since 1995. Jacksonville was riding high about a month ago. There were even whispers that they could have jumped up to the second seed in the AFC. The last two weeks, The Jaguars have trended downward since clinching the AFC South, losing two straight include last week’s embarrassing loss at Tennessee. We all know how strong Jacksonville’s defense has been all season. They have the second ranked unit in the league and the top pass defense in football. Everyone has serious doubts about their situation at QB. Blake Bortles was starting to play better at the beginning of December but has regressed to his regular self recently, just in time for the playoffs. Jacksonville’s passing game has also struggled with all the injuries they had to deal with at the WR position. It seems to me that they might have to lean on rookie RB Leonard Fournette. That may not be a bad thing as the Jags have the league’s leading rushing attack. The Jaguars have a tremendous pass rush and secondary but they struggle against the run and that is where Buffalo can take advantage. RB LeSean McCoy is having another strong season. He suffered an injury last week but he appears to be ready to return for Sunday. Buffalo is going to need a big day on the ground if they hope QB Tyrod Taylor will be able to get anything in the passing game. Buffalo’s air attack has been feast or famine this season and things will definitely be tough for them against this secondary. I think Jacksonville’s defense will continue to be the strength for their team on Sunday but I think their offense will continue to struggle. Buffalo will be able to take advantage of some mistakes on the road and they will avoid an emotional letdown after what happened last week. I’m taking the Bills in an upset and they’ll advance to face division rival, New England next week. Prediction: Bills 21 – Jaguars 20

Carolina @ New Orleans – The Saints almost blew their chance at the division crowd last week. Luckily for them, Carolina fell on the road against Atlanta. I’m not going to take much away from the loss last week in Tampa. I still think the Saints are a strong contender in the NFC. Carolina has had their struggles this year but also look like a team that could go on a run. I think the winner of this game will probably go to the NFC Championship game. The Saints beat the Panthers twice already this year and it seems that they just have their number. Carolina’s defense will play tough but they have a lot to contend with. The Saints offer a balanced running attack with Mark Ingram and rookie sensation Alvin Kamara and down field threats in the passing game like WR Michael Thomas. Carolina has a good defense but this isnt the same unit from two seasons ago. New Orleans’ improved defense should be able to limit the damage that Cam Newton is capable of. Newton will have his backfield at full strength on Sunday as Jonathan Stewart will return from injury to be paired with another rookie sensation, Christian McCaffrey. Despite trading away Kevlin Benjamin to Buffalo, Carolina has been able to create big plays in the passing game. But their WR core may be short handed in this one due to injuries and they’ll be up against a much-improved Saints secondary. Not to mention, the crowd in the Super Dome will really make it tough for the Panthers offense to operate. I like the home team to advance. Prediction: Saints 34 – Panthers 24

NFL 2017: Week 17 Predictions! (Condensed)

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints

Matt Ryan and the Falcons are looking to clinch a spot in the postseason on Sunday against the Panthers.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 12-4

Season: 142-96

Week 17 Predictions

Lions over Packers – As Green Bay has already shut down for 2017, Detroit has slim playoff hopes.

Colts over Texans – I’m not giving Houston much of a shot without DeAndre Hopkins. I’m looking for Indy to give head coach Chuck Pagano a good send off.

Bears over Vikings – Minnesota cant catch Philly for home field in the NFC and the NFC South champ is locked in on the third seed. With no motivation for the Viks, Chicago will give a good effort on the road for John Fox? I’m not even sure on that one.

Patriots over Jets – New England’s goal is to wrap up home field in the AFC by half time in order to give the starters some rest.

Washington over Giants – So much turmoil in that Giants locker room. Can they keep it together to give Eli Manning a proper home send off? I doubt it. Kirk Cousins might be auditioning for the Giants in this game.

Eagles over Cowboys – Philly has nothing to play for but luckily for them, the 8-8 Cowboys are back.

Steelers over Browns – I wondering if all the James Harrison talk all week has over shadowed Pittsburgh’s actual opponent this week. Pittsburgh is even seceding the AFC to New England assuming that they will smash the Jets. I find this strange. Strange things could happen here with the Steelers “B team” but I’m not brave enough to pick Cleveland to stop the “perfect season”.

Falcons over Panthers – I think Carolina is the better team but Atlanta has more to play for and they are at home. Carolina has already clinched a playoff spot.

Chiefs over Broncos – Alex Smith won’t play in this meaningless game but Kansas City will still be able to amount more offense than Denver.

Jaguars over Titans – Tennessee embarrassed Jacksonville in their first meeting this season. The Jags are a different team now and I’m sure that they haven’t forgot about that earlier loss. Tennessee has been treading downward for weeks now.

49ers over Rams – The Rams will be resting most of their starters. San Fran looks like they have a future now thanks to acquisition of Jimmy Garoppolo.

Dolphins over Bills – Miami’s defense has responded well at home this season. They gut out a tough one on Sunday keeping Buffalo from the playoffs.

Chargers over Raiders – With the Titans losing, the Chargers will gladly sneak in the playoffs with a win over Oakland. We’ll have both LA teams in the postseason. How weird.

Cardinals over Seahawks – Seattle’s structure is crumbling. Arizona will deliver a crushing blow to their playoff chances on Sunday.

Saints over Buccaneers – New Orleans still has to clinch NFC South with Carolina breathing down their backs.

Ravens over Bengals – This will be a fitting end to the Marvin Lewis era in Cincy.

NFL 2017: Week 16 Predictions! (Condensed)

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Todd Gurley and the Rams are looking strong in the NFC weeks away from the post-season.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 12-4

Season: 132-92

Week 16 Picks

Ravens over Colts – Indianapolis allowed Brock Osweiler to look like a serviceable QB last week. Joe Flacco and the Ravens are marching towards a post-season berth.

Vikings over Packers – With Atlanta winning last week, Green Bay is eliminated from postseason contention and they are shutting down key players like Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams. Minnesota is rolling with plenty left to play for.

Browns over Bears – Cleveland gotta win this week. Because they wont win in Pittsburgh next week. I don’t want to see a 0-16 team.

Bengals over Lions – Going out on a limb here. Cincy has been awful recently. Detroit is fighting for a playoff spot but isn’t doing so convincingly. Expect a big game from A.J. Green.

Rams over Titans – I’m ready to close the book on the Titans season. Marcus Mariota’s struggles seem to be holding the team back. The Rams are getting hot at the right time. They could be a tough out in the playoffs.

Chiefs over Dolphins – Kansas City saved their season last week at home. I see more home cooking this week against Jay Cutler.

Patriots over Bills – I wonder if certain Buffalo defenders will be gunning for Rob Gronkowski in this game. Buffalo should stay away from that as a loss here in Foxboro could really be damaging to their post-season dreams.

Saints over Falcons – New Orleans lost their composure in Atlanta two weeks ago. They learn from that and bounce back strong at home this time.

Chargers over Jets – The Chargers still have postseason hopes. They may be slim but there’s a chance.

Washington over Broncos – Defenses will look good in this one. Kirk Cousins will do more to win it than lose it at home.

Panthers over Buccaneers – Tampa is too injured to play spoiler here.

Jaguars over 49ers – This is a trap game for Jacksonville. San Fran is playing well with Jimmy Garoppolo under center. The Jaguars defense must get in his face early and often.

Cowboys over Seahawks – The return of Ezekiel Elliott will be huge. The status of left tackle Tyron Smith will be bigger. Seattle got crushed last week. I don’t see them being able to bounce back on the road. Russell Wilson will have to win this game pretty much by himself. Not impossible but it will be tough for him with the state of his offensive line.

Giants over Cardinals – Eli Manning will basically be auditioning for Bruce Arians.

Steelers over Texans – Pittsburgh on the road against a bad Houston team. Get ready for all the “playing down to their weaker opponents” narrative. The Steelers will have to try really hard to lose this one on the road.

Eagles over Raiders – Oakland isn’t the team they were in 2016. The Eagles will dominate another weaker opponent this week. Sigh.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Cam Newton (Panthers) – Newton is playing well right now and Tampa allows the most yards through the air.

RB: C.J. Anderson (Broncos) – Anderson will get his touches with the Broncos QB situation the way it is.

WR: Adam Thielen (Vikings) – Adam Thielen has been a great story this season. Him and Stefon Diggs should have a solid day at the office against the Green Bay secondary.

TE: Antonio Gates (Chargers) – Gates is back as the main option at the TE position for the Chargers. Rivers will look for him in the red zone.

DEF: Baltimore – The Ravens defense will put on a strong performance at home against an almost toothless Colts offense.