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NFL 2017: Week 3 Predictions!

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What’s wrong with the Giants? I’m not sure. But they better have it figured out before their trip to Philly on Sunday.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 12-4

Season: 19-12

Big Five Games of the Week

Atlanta @ Detroit – The Lions have played well in the first 2 weeks of the season but I think they’ll face their biggest test yet in the Falcons at home on Sunday. I’ll give the Lions defense credit for limiting the Giants and Cardinals on offense but I think their defense will have its hands full with what Atlanta has to offer. A win here, even at home, would really be impressive for Detroit. But I think the Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense will be able to stretch the Lions defense in ways that Carson Palmer and Eli Manning couldn’t. Prediction: Falcons 28 – Lions 20

Tampa Bay @ Minnesota – So much for that strong start for Sam Bradford and the Vikings offense. Minnesota definitely missed him last week and it sounds like his status will be up in the air again this week at home against Tampa Bay. Beating Minnesota shouldn’t be an easy task for this Tampa Bay team but they have high expectations this season and this would be a big road victory. I just don’t see Minnesota generating enough offense to win game without a capable QB. The Vikings defense should keep this competitive but the Bucs will make more big plays on the offensively side of the ball. Prediction: Buccaneers 26 – Vikings 19

New York Giants @ Philadelphia – It’s only two games in but the Giants look like a total disaster right now. The offense just can’t get on track. The situation at offensive line is tragic. They can’t protect Eli Manning. They can’t run the ball. All that talent at WR hasn’t amounted to anything yet. I think New York could still lean on their defense if they needed to but they need to get things figured out offensively before those losses start stacking up. Unfortunately for the Giants, they will be in Philly this week facing a team that matches up well against their current weaknesses. I expect the Eagles to set the tempo early with their defensive front seven and eventually, Carson Wentz and the offense should be able to wear the Giants defense out in the 4th quarter. Prediction: Eagles 25 – Giants 21

Seattle @ Tennessee – The Titans rebounded nicely last week in a game they were suppose to win in Jacksonville. Seattle took care of business at home but it wasn’t pretty against a 49ers team that won’t be any good this year. Seattle is having offensive issues early this season and they’ll face a good Tennessee team this week on the road. It just seems like a game that the Seahawks would drop. Prediction: Titans 23 – Seahawks 16

Oakland @ Washington – I have to give Washington credit. Their offense hung in there against a tough defensive front seven on the road and they were able to gut out a victory. They were aided by some dumb decisions by Jared Goff but that’s beside the point. Having a let down at home will seem likely this week for Washington as the Raiders are off to a hot start and they’ve already shown the ability to play tough on the road this season. I think David Carr and the passing offense for Oakland will be able to have a strong game. Oakland should be able to control the clock with their running game as well. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin will get after Kirk Cousins but it will be interesting to see if Washington is able to run the ball like they were able to last week. I think both teams will score a lot in this matchup and I don’t see Cousins out dueling Carr. Even at home. Prediction: Raiders 31 – Washington 27

The Rest of Week 3

Rams over 49ers – If you are making plans to watch this one, it is time to re-evaluate your life.

Ravens over Jaguars – London games are lame and the NFL needs to stop with these obvious cash grabs. Fat chance, I know. Silly me for buying into the Jags hype after Week 1 and picking them to win last week. Baltimore might be the least impressive 2-0 team in the league.

Broncos over Bills – Buffalo is tanking but they have enough defensive talent to appear to be competitive. This should be a low scoring affair. The Bills can be tough at home. This is a textbook trap game for Denver who is coming off an impressive home win last week.

Steelers over Bears – Here’s who the Pittsburgh defense has faced thru two weeks: DeShone Kizer, a rookie, and Case Keenum. This week’s opposing QB? Mike Glennon. Hashtag: Cupcake City.

Colts over Browns – Cleveland needs to win this one because Indy stinks. Both teams really stink. I guess I’ll count on the Brownies to stink more.

Patriots over Texans – Houston will not be able to out score Brady and the Pats on the road.

Dolphins over Jets – Cutler didn’t lose the game last week for Miami. That’s a good thing.

Panthers over Saints – Scratch out what I said earlier about Baltimore. Carolina is the least impressive 2-0 team in the league. If only, New Orleans had a defense.

Packers over Bengals – What will it take for Marvin Lewis to be fired? That will be a weekly question in Cincinnati this season.

Chiefs over Chargers – Kansas City got rid of some recognizable names on offense, they are dealing with injuries on defense, and they look even better than last season right now. This is why Andy Reid is valuable. Kudos to Alex Smith as well. He’s going to trick some owner to pay him a ridiculous amount of money next season.

Cardinals over Cowboys – Arizona hasn’t looked strong this season but they have a defense that can slow what Dallas does on offense. Weird things seem to happen when the Cowboys play at Arizona.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: David Carr (Raiders) – Oakland will need a strong game from Carr if they hope to win across the country this week.

RB: Kareem Hunt (Chiefs) – Hunt has been the breakout star so far this season at the RB position.

WR: Antonio Brown (Steelers) – Brown is off to a great start in 2017. Chicago doesn’t have much of a secondary.

TE: Jason Witten (Cowboys) – The old man in Dallas is among the league leading pass catchers so far in this young season.

DEF: Los Angeles Rams/San Francisco – Take your pick. The defense’s will shine in that Thursday night crap fest.

 

 

 

 

 

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NFL 2017: Week 2 Predictions!

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Jacksonville’s defense put their stamp in Week 1 last week.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 7-8

Season: 7-8

Big Five Games of the Week

Philadelphia @ Kansas City – The Chiefs really impressed last Thursday. I wasn’t surprised to see how their defense played. But the big surprise was the explosiveness on offense. They will receive a good test in their home opener this week against the Eagles. Philadelphia’s front seven was in full display last week as it was their defense, which allowed them to pull away for Washington. I think QB Carson Wentz will have a tougher time this week. Kansas City has one of the better home field advantages in the league. I also think Andy Reid familiarity with Doug Peterson and the Eagles will play a factor. Prediction: Chiefs 25 – Eagles 17

Minnesota @ Pittsburgh – The Steelers couldn’t pull anyway from Cleveland last week. They better have all the cobwebs shaken out by Sunday because Minnesota should serve as a tougher challenge for them. Minnesota’s strength is their defense but much like the Chiefs, their offense surprised people last week. Rookie RB Dalvin Cook had a strong first performance and QB Sam Bradford looked great going down the field. I think Pittsburgh has to find a way to get Le’Veon Bell going in this one to help solve this tough Vikings defense. I think Pittsburgh’s overall talent and being at home should be able to carry them in this one but last week’s performance worries me a bit. Prediction: Steelers 27 – Vikings 21

Tennessee @ Jacksonville – Jacksonville’s defense really impressed in Week 1. All that young talent that they’ve been drafting on that side on the ball was in full display in a game that many people didn’t pick them in. They even made Blake Bortles seem to be serviceable. Tennessee didn’t play bad in their home opener last week against Oakland but they just seemed really bland. I think Jacksonville’s defense will be the most dynamic unit in this matchup. They’ll be tested well by Tennessee’s offense but I’m going with the home underdog. Prediction: Jaguars 23 – Titans 20

Dallas @ Denver – The Cowboys had a strong performance in Week 1 especially on the defensive side of the ball. But as always the case with Dallas, I’m just waiting on that wet blanket to arrive. And that could come in the form of the Denver Broncos this week. Denver didn’t overly impress in their first regular season game but I think they will prove to be a tough out at home. The battle at the line of scrimmage between the Dallas offensive line and the Denver defensive line should be a good one. Though, Denver isn’t very strong at defending the run. The Cowboys did a great job limiting Eli Manning last week. Surely, they shouldn’t have an issue with Trevor Siemian, right? Even so, I think Denver’s defense will make this a close contest. Prediction: Broncos 28 –Cowboys 24

Green Bay @ Atlanta – Seattle’s lack of an offensive line made Green Bay’s defense look like the ’85 Bears last week. I think it is fair to say that Atlanta’s offensive line will not make it so easy for that group this week in the home opener for the Falcons. Atlanta gutted out a close one on the road last week but I expected them to play much more loose against an opponent they should be able to handle. I think Atlanta can “out-physical” Green Bay at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Green Bay will have the better QB in Aaron Rodgers but Falcons QB Matt Ryan has the better weapon in Julio Jones. Prediction: Falcons 29 – Packers 23

The Rest of Week 2

Bengals over Texans – Cincinnati was held scoreless last week. They will be hungry for some points at home against a Houston team that is going through a tough week and is rushing a rookie QB out there on the road.

Cardinals over Colts – I know Arizona lost David Johnson but did you see how bad Indy was last week?

Patriots over Saints – New Year, same defensive problems for New Orleans. New England isn’t happy about how their season started and they had extra time to prepare for this one.

Buccaneers over Bears – Tampa had an extra week to prepare. Chicago competed hard last week. Expect a let down this week on the road.

Panthers over Bills – If Carolina can limit LeSean McCoy, they should win this one easily.

Ravens over Browns – Am I crazy for thinking that Cleveland looked more impressive in their loss to Pittsburgh than Baltimore did in their win over Cincinnati?

Raiders over Jets – Oakland got a good road win last week in Tennessee. They cant have a let down against a tanking Jets team.

Dolphins over Chargers – The Chargers are addicted to losing close games. Miami is traveling a long ways but they are fresh.

Rams over Washington – Washington had a hard time protecting Kirk Cousins. The Rams don’t do many things well but they do have a dangerous defensive front seven which will be in full strength this week with the return of Aaron Donald.

Seahawks over 49ers – I don’t see how San Francisco is suppose to score points. Not just in this game or last week but for the entire season.

Giants over Lions – New York struggled mightily last week. But Odell Beckham Jr is back and that’s all they need, right? All jokes aside, if New York’s success this season is tied to one player, they are in for a long season.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Tom Brady (Patriots) – New Orleans’ secondary is still pretty bad and they’ll be facing a QB in Brady who isnt coming off his best performance. We’ll see some vintage Tom in this one.

RB: Jay Ajayi (Dolphins) – Is Jay Cutler ready to stand in the pocket against a good Chargers pass rush? If not, Ajayi will be ready to carry Miami’s offense.

WR: Odell Beckham Jr. (Giants) – OBJ will be ready to put on a show on Monday night.

TE: Rob Gronkowski (Patriots) – Gronk only had tow catches last week. He’ll get a steady serving of passes this week against New Orleans.

DEF: Seattle – San Francisco literally has no offense.

NFL 2017: Week 1 Predictions!!!!

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The Ezekiel Elliott situation could potentially hang over Dallas for this entire season.

By: Elias McMillan

 

First, here’s a look at how I’ve done picking regular season games in recent years:

2009 Regular Season Record: 169-87

2010 Regular Season Record: 157-99

2011 Regular Season Record: 162-94

2012 Regular Season Record: 163-92-1

2013 Regular Season Record: 158-97-1

2014 Regular Season Record: 158-97-1

2015 Regular Season Record: 163-93

2016 Regular Season Record: 163-91-2

Now, here’s my forecast for Week 1 of the 2017 Season.

Big Five Games of the Week

Kansas City @ New England – We will start the 2017 season with the top two seeds in the AFC playoffs a season ago. This matchup doesn’t have a lot of sizzle especially considering that New England has a home game scheduled later this season against the team they beat in the Super Bowl last February. That’s the matchup we need to see on opening night. Don’t get me wrong about Kansas City. They have won a lot of games in the last 3 years. But that team has no buzz going into this season. They are in the beginning phases of what could be a massive roster turnover. The Chiefs have a solid defense but not many offensive stars. The Patriots are reloaded for 2017 and they’ll be eager to give NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a good show. Prediction: Patriots 38 – Chiefs 20

Baltimore @ Cincinnati – Here’s an underrated AFC rivalry to start the season. These matchups between the Bengals and Ravens are usually 4-quarter slug fests. Both teams offer solid defenses for the most part and plenty of question marks on offense. I think Baltimore if healthy should be able to prove to be the better team but Cincinnati has the best player on the field Sunday in WR A.J. Green. Green seems to always find a way to show out against the Ravens. He will be the difference. Prediction: Bengals 23 – Ravens 17

Oakland @ Tennessee – This matchup features two up and coming teams in the AFC and two QB’s looking to bounce back from late season injuries from last year. I will be interesting to see how both offenses play with Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota. Will they play it safe and protect those QB’s with the run game or will they have the chance to rip it down the field often? Both of these teams are strong up front on offense and they should prove to be affective in the run game. I think Oakland has move playmakers on defense and that could be the difference. Tennessee has some weapons that may not be known on the national level on offense and they will be looking to let them loose on Sunday. This one should be very entertaining. I’m going to go with the home team. Prediction: Titans 29 – Raiders 28

Seattle @ Green Bay – The Seahawks made a monster acquisition just before the start of the regular season with the trade for DE Sheldon Richardson. I’m not sure how Richardson will fit in right away but eventually, he will make the Seattle defense even stronger than it already is. I don’t think much of the Packers outside of Aaron Rodgers. I don’t think they’ll be able to run the ball against Seattle on offense. The strength vs. strength matchup between the Packers receivers and the Legion of Boom should be a good one. The Packers will have a young defense this year especially in the secondary. I can see TE Jimmy Graham and WR Doug Baldwin taking some of those young guys to school on Sunday. I like Seattle on the road. Prediction: Seahawks 30 – Packers 22

New York Giants @ Dallas – RB Ezekiel Elliott will play on Sunday. That’s the good news, right? The Elliott situation is a bad one for everyone involved and there will be no winners. I think one of the biggest losers in this is the team Elliott plays for. His lawyers will want to fight the NFL to the bitter end meaning; this will potentially hang over the Cowboys all season. Elliott’s status for the rest of this season is still unknown so many Cowboys fans are thinking the Elliott will have a big game against the rival New York Giants. Well, the Giants did a decent job at defending the Cowboys running game last season and they return in 2017 with the same defensive front four. The Giants defense performed well against the Cowboys in both matchups last year but Dak Prescott and the Dallas offense will have that in mind on Sunday night and will be in attack mode. The Giants should know about the advantage that have when they are on offense. Eli Manning and his gang of offensive weapons will be going up against a defense that cant create pressure in the back field and a young secondary. That’s bad news for the home team. These matchups between the Cowboys and Giants are always heart wrenching. But I see the Giants having the advantage in Round 1. Prediction: Giants 34 – Cowboys 24

The Rest from Week 1

Bills over Jets – The competition for who can be worst this season should be a tight one between these two teams. This is an early season Toilet Bowl.

Falcons over Bears – Chicago will have their hands full at home on Sunday.

Steelers over Browns – Between the trades that were made earlier this week and the new that first overall pick Myles Garrett is hurt, I come to the conclusion that there is no hope in Cleveland.

Cardinals over Lions – This will be close. I’m going with David Johnson to keep fantasy owners happy in this one.

Eagles over Washington – I think Washington will end up as the better team this season but for Week 1, I could see them finding a way to lose this one.

Texans over Jaguars – Emotions will be on full tilt in Houston for this one. Jacksonville is pretty much guaranteed to use multiple QB’s in this game.

Colts over Rams – I feel bad if you brought a ticket to this one. Aaron Donald and Andrew Luck are two of the league’s biggest stars and neither will play. Snooze fest.

Panthers over 49ers – I’m interested in seeing how well this young San Fran defense can play. But the 49ers lack the players on offense to score points.

Vikings over Saints – The Adrian Peterson revenge angle is overplayed. Minnesota has a great defense and a great home field advantage.

Broncos over Chargers – This one will be closer than you think. It might come down to which defense can make the big play in the 4th quarter. I’ll bet on Von Miller but don’t sleep on Joey Bosa.

 

Week 1 Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Matt Ryan (Falcons) – Chicago’s secondary is a weak spot that Ryan and the Falcons passing attack will expose.

RB: LeSean McCoy (Bills) – Shady will shine against a toothless Jets defense.

WR: A.J. Green (Bengals) – Green usually has big game at home against Baltimore.

TE: Evan Engram (Giants) – I’ll show the rookie some love. The Giants will attack the Cowboys’ safeties with the young TE.

DEF: Houston – Jacksonville might be forced to sign Kaepernick after this game. J.J. Watt. Jadeveon Clowney. Whitney Mercilus. Thats too much for even a good offense to deal with.

 

NFL 2017: Preseason Awards & Playoff Predictions

 

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Oakland Raiders

Here’s a Super Bowl Prediction that is guaranteed not to come true. Maybe.

By: Elias McMillan

 

First, here are my picks for the 2017 post-season awards:

MVP: Tom Brady, QB (New England Patriots) – Despite missing the first four games of the season and not having his number one weapon in the passing game (Rob Gronkowski), Tom Brady still had a dream season in 2016. Going into to this season, Brady has Gronk healthy and an even talented WR core to work with. And he is determined to break the Madden Curse. I think Brady will turn back the clock again this year.

Offensive MVP: David Johnson, RB (Arizona Cardinals) – Ezekiel Elliott and Le’Veon Bell get most of the headlines when it comes to RB’s in the league but David Johnson can be just as productive. I think Arizona will continue to lean on him this season. Especially, with Arizona’s questions in the passing game.

Defensive MVP: J.J Watt, DE (Houston Texans) – Watt will probably will NFL Man of the Year with the work he has done in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. But Watt will also have the goal of reminding the league this year of how dominant he can be. I think he will have a huge season lining up opposite of Clowney.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Christian McCaffrey, RB (Carolina Panthers) – I criticized this draft pick numerous times since April. But Carolina seems to be highly impressed with what McCaffrey will bring to this offense. He will definitely get the touches in Carolina and his numbers will impress in his first season.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Reuben Foster, LB (San Francisco 49ers) – Its an absolute shame that Foster dropped all the way to the bottom of round one in this past draft. Foster will be playing this first season with a chip on his shoulder and will remind 49er fans of Patrick Willis.

Comeback Player of the Year: Earl Thomas, S (Seattle Seahawks) – Earl Thomas was pondering retirement when he went down with a significant knee injury last season. Now, he will have a chance to be apart of a pretty good Seattle defense once again. He will prove to be the most valuable piece of the Seahawk defense this year.

Coach of the Year: Bill Belichick (New England Patriots) – It seems like Belichick has everything. Its been a while since he has won this award. New England is bound to have a killer regular season this year so, why not?

And now, here is my forecast for the playoffs this season. As a reminder, here are the teams I see qualifying in 2017:

AFC

  1. New England Patriots – 15-1 (AFC East)
  2. Oakland Raiders – 12-4 (AFC West)
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers – 11-5 (AFC North)
  4. Tennessee Titans – 10-6 (AFC South)
  5. Houston Texans – 9-7 (Wild-card)
  6. Denver Broncos – 9-7 (Wild-card)

NFC

  1. Atlanta Falcons – 13-3 (NFC South)
  2. Seattle Seahawks – 11-5 (NFC West)
  3. New York Giants – 10-6 (NFC East)
  4. Green Bay Packers – 10-6 (NFC North)
  5. Arizona Cardinals – 10-6 (Wild-card)
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 9-7 (Wild-card)

Wild-Card Weekend

AFC: (3) Steelers over (6) Broncos, (5) Texans over (4) Titans

NFC: (3) Giants over (6) Buccaneers, (5) Cardinals over (4) Packers

Divisional Round

AFC: (1) Patriots over (5) Texans, (2) Raiders over (3) Steelers

NFC: (1) Falcons over (5) Cardinals, (3) Giants over (2) Seahawks

Conference Championship Sunday

AFC: (2) Raiders over (1) Patriots

NFC: (1) Falcons over (3) Giants

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

Atlanta Falcons over Oakland Raiders

Recap: The Patriots might have been the number seed in the AFC playoffs last season but they were not supremely talented. They traded away many of their better defensive players. They had injury problems on offense. And they still won the Super Bowl last February. This offseason, the Patriots reloaded much like they did in 2010. And much like 2010, I think we will see New England slice through the regular season only to see them fall short in the playoffs. I think Oakland needs this season. That fan base in Oakland is ready to tear the city apart. They need one last shot at glory while in that city. I think David Carr will return this season and play at a high level. Oakland has some things to figure out defensively but behind Khalil Mack and that talented front seven, they’ll get after the QB and they’ll administer some revenge in Foxboro in January. In the NFC, I think we’ll see a two-dog race between Atlanta and Seattle. I have the Giants as a sleeper team because I like their defense and that have so many offensive weapons. But Atlanta’s defense is young and on the rise. Coming off of what happened last year, I believe Atlanta will ride a story of redemption all the way back to the Super Bowl. I know that Atlanta has a long history of folding under pressure. I know picking a team to return to the Super Bowl and win really isn’t bold and it kind of jinxes it. But I had to pick somebody. I think Atlanta can correct the ending from a season ago this upcoming February in Minneapolis. But then again, it is September.

 

 

NFL 2017: NFC Preview (Condensed)

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Dak Prescott has the keys to the castle in Dallas. What will he do with it? And can Matt Ryan get over what happened in the Super Bowl?

By: Elias McMillan

 

NFC East

New York Giants – I think the Giants have the best defense in the NFC East. They are strong up front with two passing rushing vets (JPP & Vernon) and a big run stuffer (Damon Harrison). I think they are weak at the LB position but they are loaded with talent in the secondary. New York should also have a sound passing attack on offense. Eli Manning will have a wide array of weapons to choose from this season with Beckham Jr, Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard, and rookie TE Evan Engram. The Giants do have question marks with their running game and offensive line. But I think they can outlast the competition in a tight NFC East race. Prediction: 10-6 (NFC East Champs)

Dallas Cowboys –For whatever reason, the Cowboys haven’t been able to string together back-to-back successful seasons too many times since the 90’s. And after blowing a great opportunity the change the narrative last season, they return this season with little or no improvements. I think the offense will be okay. I think Dak Prescott will not fall into a sophomore slump. There are some changes on the offensive line and Ezekiel Elliott might miss the start of the season but I think the run game will still be strong. And the Cowboys do return many weapons in the passing game led by Dez Bryant and the leadership of Jason Witten. On defense, all eyes will be on LB Jaylon Smith who missed all of last season due to injury but the Cowboys are expect big things out of. Outside of that, the Cowboys return a defense that cant create pressure and are featuring wholesale changes in the secondary. At this point, I feel bad for Jason Witten. I feel good about Dallas in 2018 though. Prediction: 8-8

Washington – I like what Washington has on defense. If they could just find some consistency on offense they could be a sleeper team in the NFC East. QB Kirk Cousins is a mixed bag but I like his gunslinger mentality. Many are expecting a big year from free agent signee WR Terrelle Pryor. Washington also had a nice big target for Cousins in TE Jordan Reed if he can stay healthy. Much like New York, offensive line and running back are where the question marks lie. Like I said earlier, I like many of the pieces on this Washington defense. They have already suffered some injuries on the defensive line and at LB but they wisely prepared for this in the draft. I’m interested in seeing how rookies DE Jonathan Allen and LB Ryan Anderson develop in their first years. Washington may have some weak spots in the secondary but they at least still have CB Josh Norman. Because of what they have defensively, Washington might surprise a bit this year. Prediction: 7-9

Philadelphia Eagles – Some have Philadelphia as a sleeper team in this division. I just don’t see it. Is Carson Wentz going to turn out to be a baller in his 2nd year? Maybe. He’ll have pretty weapons this year at WR with Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. The Eagles are still reeling at the RB position from the LeSean McCoy trade. Do they really expect LeGarrette Blount to be their #1 back? Philly’s defense will be pretty much the same from a season ago: decent front seven, trash secondary. I like DT Fletcher Cox and rookie DE Derek Barnett. In a best-case scenario for this team, I don’t even see them making it past 8 wins. Prediction: 6-10

 

NFC North

Green Bay Packers – I really don’t see how this Packers team got better in the off-season. A lot of familiar faces from the last couple seasons are gone. The Packers are in the transition of getting younger on defense with OLB Clay Matthews the lone veteran holdover. They let Eddie Lacy go in free agency. Ty Montgomery is talented but can he really be an every down back? But as last year proved, because they really weren’t that good either, as long as they have Aaron Rodgers behind center, they’ll be okay. Prediction: 10-6 (NFC North Champs)

Minnesota Vikings – I like this Minnesota team because Mike Zimmer has himself a tough defense on this squad. It was the defense that led them to a hot start to begin 2016. Eventually, they fell apart down the stretch but as long as that same defense returns, they’ll be in a lot of games this year. Obviously, there are plenty of questions on offense especially at the QB position. QB Teddy Bridgewater may not be ready until the middle of the season so they will have to ride it out with Sam Bradford for now. Minnesota will also be dealing with a couple of new starters on the offensive line. But I think they will have a better run offense this season even with the departure of Adrian Peterson. I’m expecting big things from rookie RB Dalvin Cook. Prediction: 8-8

Detroit Lions – I don’t even remember that the Lions made the playoffs last year. They really didn’t make any dramatic changes in the offseason. QB Matthew Stafford will give them a chance to win every week. The Lions are still missing consistency in the run game. Stafford has pretty good targets to go to in the passing game. This has to be the season where TE Eric Ebron proves himself as a legit TE in the league and not just an athlete. Detroit will be solid defensively, at least up front. First round pick LB Jarrad Davis will be counted on early in his career. And you could say the same about second round pick CB Teez Tabor. I think the Lions are a running game away from challenging Green Bay in the division. Prediction: 7-9

Chicago Bears – The Bears are still rebuilding but with a veteran head coach. Weird. I’m wondering if John Fox will be around to see the final product. After spending money on QB Mike Glennon for some reason, the Bears went ahead and traded for QB Mitch Trubisky. Trubisky has shown promise in the pre-season and Chicago might as well stop wasting everyone’s time and insert him into the lineup. RB Jordan Howard is returning after an impressive rookie season. The Bears have question marks at WR. Kevin White is healthy and he will receive plenty of opportunities this year. Chicago’s defense is a mess. They need to build that side of the ball up as soon as possible if they want to climb out of the basement in this division. Prediction: 5-11

 

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons – There’s a lot of talk about the blown lead in the Super Bowl and the hangover from that. I know that Super Bowl losers, especially in this fashion, usually have a hard time getting back but I think Atlanta may have something going. I think this way because I liked what I saw from their defense last season and I like the additions they made in the offseason. Atlanta has a legit pass rush with Vic Beasley and I think rookie Takkarist McKinley could make an impact up front as well. I’m a big fan of the young LB’s they have especially Deion Jones who had a great rookie season. Atlanta will also see reinforcements in the secondary with the return of Desmond Trufant who missed most of last season. Everyone knows about what Atlanta has on offense with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, etc. But I think the improvements on this young defense will really make this team dangerous in the NFC again this season. Prediction: 13-3 (NFC South Champs)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – For the first time in a while, the Bucs enter a football season with some momentum. This team will be led by QB Jameis Winston who has really taken on a leadership role in that locker room and the team has brought in. Winston will be surrounded by probably the most talented he’s been around in his career. Tampa is loaded at WR with Mike Evans and newcomer DeSean Jackson who can really stretch the field. TE Cameron Brate impressed last season but the team decided to really maximize the TE position with the first round selection of TE O.J. Howard. I’m worried about the suspension of RB Doug Martin but this Tampa offense will be about what Winston can do in the passing game. Tampa returns a solid defense led by DT Gerald McCoy. I really like their LB core. They are missing playmakers in the secondary though. I think Tampa should be good enough to make that jump in the post season in 2017. Prediction: 9-7 (Wild-card)

Carolina Panthers – The Super Bowl hangover was real in Carolina in 2016. I think Carolina is in a position to rebound and maybe return to the playoffs but they need to do two things. First and more importantly, they need to ensure that the defense can stay at the level they were in during 2015. And secondly, they need to get Cam Newton better protection and younger players at the skill positions on offense. They did the latter in this offseason and I’m afraid that wasn’t the direction that this team needed to go. I think Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel will do good things in their rookie seasons but I prioritize the line scrimmage over the flashy skill players. I think Newton will be able to use those young guys effectively but I’m worried about his protection especially that he is coming off off-season surgery. On defense, Carolina is starting to look old. They gave up on Kony Ealy and brought back an ancient Julius Peppers. I really like Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly but they both have injury concerns. Carolina may slightly improve from 2016 but they need to do a better job at protecting their franchise QB and getting younger talent on defense. Prediction: 8-8

New Orleans Saints – There isn’t much buzz surrounding the Saints going into 2017. We know they will pass the ball well with QB Drew Brees. Its too bad that they couldn’t make it work with Brandin Cooks but they did bring in Ted Ginn Jr. to take his role as the speedster at WR. RB Mark Ingram is the established back in this offense so, I don’t understand why they brought in an aging Adrian Peterson. Defense remains the main issues on this team. DE Cameron Jordan can only do so much. The Saints did make an effort on improving their secondary through the draft this offseason. I think the Saints will compete. But they wont be on the same level as the three other teams in this division. Prediction: 6-10

 

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks are still in the mist of a decent run in the NFC as consistent title contenders. But I get the feeling that their window is starting to get smaller. Which is supposed to happen in the NFL. You can’t resign and keep everyone for only so long. But Seattle should be in pretty good shape in 2017. QB Russell Wilson returns and Seattle continued their efforts in the off-season to improve his offensive line. I think the Eddie Lacy signing could improve the run game if he can stay healthy. And that’s a big “if”. WR Doug Baldwin is massively underrated and TE Jimmy Graham can still take over a game when called upon. This team will continue to be led by the defense though. The front seven is tough and can pretty much do it all. Pass rush, run stuff, etc. The Seahawks also still have the three major cogs in the L.O.B., Sherman, Thomas, and Chancellor. Prediction: 11-5 (NFC West Champs)

Arizona Cardinals – Arizona massively under performed last season and they return in 2017 with a supremely talented roster. On offense, RB David Johnson established himself last season as one of the top RB’s in the league. Arizona’s passing game is still dependent on QB Carson Palmer’s health. Head coach Bruce Arians doesn’t think much of the WR’s on the roster but WR Larry Fitzgerald is still as good as they come. Arizona has recognizable names on defense but they need to become an elite unit if Arizona hopes to make the postseason. They will miss Calais Campbell up front but Chandler Jones is still a pretty good pass rusher and first round pick Haason Reddick could develop into a difference maker. I feel that Arizona secondary under performed last season but that should change as long as Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu can stay healthy. I think the Cardinals have too much talent to miss the playoffs for a second straight season. Prediction: 10-6 (Wild-card)

Los Angeles Rams – The Rams hired a 30-year-old coach to lead the team in 2017. Maybe that youth can energize a team that hasn’t done anything note worthy in a while. Can second year QB Jared Goff show that he is worth his top selection in the draft a year ago? Can RB Todd Gurley return to form? Can the Rams finally get some consistency out from their recievers? Will the newly acquired Sammy Watkins keep the number 2 as his jersey number? Has the only player worth a damn on this roster (DT Aaron Donald) ended his holdout yet? Too many questions. Prediction: 5-11

San Francisco 49ers – Nothing quite says “we’re rebuilding” like saying “we’re rolling with Brian Hoyer as our QB this year”. San Francisco should be a complete disaster offensively this season. Its fitting that the offensive coordinator that blew it for Atlanta in the Super Bowl is now the head coach. On the bright side, San Fran is building a defense that might become a problem real soon. They basically have an all-Pac-10 defensive line and I liked the late addition of veteran pass rusher Elvis Dumervil. LB NaVorro Bowman returns and he’ll get a chance to groom rookie Reuben Foster who dropped right into the 49ers lap in the draft this pass April. Foster should have been a top 15 pick. The secondary leaves much to be desired but that front seven might end up being one of the best in the league. But with Brian Hoyer at QB, that tells me that this team must be tanking for one of the top signal callers in college. Prediction: 3-13

 

NFC Playoff Picture Prediction

  1. Atlanta Falcons – 13-3 (NFC South)
  2. Seattle Seahawks – 11-5 (NFC West)
  3. New York Giants – 10-6 (NFC East)
  4. Green Bay Packers – 10-6 (NFC North)
  5. Arizona Cardinals – 10-6 (Wild-card)
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 9-7 (Wild-card)

NFL 2017: AFC Preview (Condensed)

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Tom Brady and the Patriots reloaded in the offseason. Does the rest of the AFC stand a chance?

By: Elias McMillan

 

AFC East

New England Patriots – The Patriots won another title last season with a roster that wasn’t supremely talented. During this offseason, New England added significant upgrades on offense at RB and WR and on defense at DE and CB. Also, TE Rob Gronkowski returns after missing much of last year due to injury. It looks like the Brady-Belicheck combo will be the cream of the crop once again in the AFC. Although, it seems when the Patriots reload like this, they find a way to disappoint in the post season. We’ll see if this season will be different. Prediction: 15-1 (AFC East Champs)

Miami Dolphins – Miami made the playoffs somehow last season. But they don’t have much momentum going into 2017. It doesn’t help that they lost Ryan Tannehill to injury in training camp and had to replace him with a Jay Cutler they had to drag out from the announcer’s booth (Why didn’t they sign Kaepernick?). Positives: they found an answer a RB last season (Jay Ajayi) and they are pretty solid at the receiver positions. On defense, they have a tough front four and I like the offseason addition of Lawrence Timmons. Negatives: Miami secondary may be the down fall for this defense, yet again. And you’ll never know which Jay Cutler that you’re going to get. Prediction: 8-8

Buffalo Bills – Buffalo did Rex Ryan wrong and now they seem to be tanking. They traded their best WR and CB for draft picks. The Bills made a smart trade on draft day in April. Buffalo is stockpiling draft picks. It’s good idea but its not going to help them win 2017. I feel bad for LeSean McCoy who is wasting his talents up there. I’m interested in seeing how QB Tyrod Taylor will fair with limited weapons in the passing game. Buffalo has young talent on defense. I really liked Shaq Lawson from the 2016 draft. If he’s healthy, he’ll be impact player. Regardless, I don’t see many wins in Buffalo this year. Prediction: 5-11

New York Jets – The Jets are tanking. I hope it doesn’t cost head coach Todd Bowles who won 10 games in New York just two seasons ago. The Jets literally got rid of every veteran on the team except RB Matt Forte. The QB position is a disaster. What is josh McCown doing to keep finding work in this league? WR core? Garbage. They do have some promising talent on defense. It’s going to be an ugly year for the Jets. Prediction: 2-14

 

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers return with supreme talent on the offense between the QB (Roethlisberger), RB (Bell), and the WR (Brown). That, along with that over achieving offensive line, Pittsburgh should be able to rule the North again. What will stop them in the playoffs? If it isn’t the inability to stay healthy, it will be the lack of big plays from their defense. Losing and not replacing Lawrence Timmons at middle linebacker will prove to be a mistake. Pittsburgh is solid on the defensive line but they lack players in the secondary that can make big plays. But what they are really missing is an impact pass rusher. Can rookie T.J. Watt be that guy? Despite the questions, Pittsburgh should be New England’s main rival for the AFC crown. Prediction: 11-5 (AFC North Champs)

Baltimore Ravens – Baltimore quietly made some improvements this offseason especially on defense. I like the addition of S Tony Jefferson. They have solid veteran leadership in the secondary between him and Eric Weddle. Terrell Suggs returns for what maybe his final season. Look out for rookie Tyus Bowser to become a difference maker off the edge on this defense. Baltimore’s defense will keep the Ravens in a lot of games but they have serious questions on offense. It feels like everyone has been waiting for 2012 Joe Flacco to return and it just hasn’t happened yet. It would help if he could get some consistency from his supporting cast. Maybe WR Jeremy Maclin can help. The success of this season for the Ravens will be up to if the offense can finally figure itself out. Prediction: 8-8

Cincinnati Bengals – Cincinnati again brings a talented roster to the table but their undisciplined nature seems to be their undoing. I like Marvin Lewis but how does he still have a job as he continues to vouch for Adam Jones and Vontaze Burfict? On offense, the Bengals need Andy Dalton to stay healthy because he has a great collection of skill players around him, highlighted by WR A.J. Green. The Bengals have a talented defense led by DT Geno Atkins. But I think their immaturity will hold them back. They might push Baltimore for second place in the division. Prediction: 8-8

Cleveland Browns – Same as it ever was for the Browns. QB questions. Young talent on both sides of the ball. Seasoned veterans. Cleveland just can’t seem to put it all together. But this season could set the table for some success down the road. The Browns will see what they have in rookie QB DeShone Kizer right out of the gate. First round pick Myles Garrett will receive tons of playing time as well and he has impressed in the pre-season. I will be interested in seeing how Cleveland does with this current crop of young talent. I’m a believer in Hue Jackson. Prediction: 6-10

 

AFC South

Tennessee Titans – I’m buying into the Titans this season. They impressed a season ago and they may have made the post season if QB Marcus Mariota doesn’t get hurt late in the season. Tennessee has a good mix a RB with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, a great offensive line, and they added weapons in the passing game. Once the defense figures itself out, they could become a contender in the AFC. But for now, I think they’ll be good enough to win the AFC South. Prediction: 10-6 (AFC South Champs)

Houston Texans – Houston has made the playoffs in two straight seasons. I would say this is mainly because of their defense. In 2015, in was all about J.J. Watt. In 2016, while Watt was injured, it was all about Jadeveon Clowney. Who knows what this defense will be capable of with both Watt and Clowney in the line-up. Houston has a legit starter at RB (Lamar Miller) and a legit number one receiver (DeAndre Hopkins). What they don’t have is a legit starting QB. Could it be the returning backup Tom Savage or the rookie who just won a national championship, Deshaun Watson? Either way, I’m expecting more big things from the defense in Houston. Prediction: 9-7 (Wild-card)

Indianapolis Colts – I feel like the majority is expecting nothing from this Colts team, which makes them kind of underrated. But they still have plenty of issues. Issues number one: the health of Andrew Luck. I expect Luck to start out on the PUP list (6 Games) so they are going to have to roll with Scott Tolzien. Good thing for Tolzien, the best player on the team is a WR (T.Y. Hilton). The defense is full of cast offs from another teams. I think a lot of teams will sleep on Indy and for good reason. But I don’t think they’ll completely stink. Prediction: 7-9

Jacksonville Jaguars – Jacksonville should have been the team that brought in Colin Kaepernick. The jig up for Blake Bortles. The Jaguars actually have promising talent on both sides of the ball. It is clear that the QB position is holding them back. It’s too bad, I guess. I really like what they have on defense. But it wont be enough to make up for the shortcomings offensively. Jacksonville will likely be drafting a new QB early in the draft next April. Prediction: 4-12

 

AFC West

Oakland Raiders – The Raiders had a great 2016 season that was derailed by Derek Carr’s injury before the playoffs. Now, Carr returns to a team that is ready to take the next step and win the AFC West. Oakland is set up pretty well offensively. I think Marshawn Lynch’s return to the NFL wont have as much as an impact as some people may want to but at the least, he’ll serve well as a weapon in the red zone. Outside of their front four, I’m still worried about the defense especially in the secondary. Prediction: 12-4 (AFC West Champs)

Denver Broncos – Denver suffered through a Super Bowl hangover last year but I think they can rebound in 2017. I still like what their defense brings to the table. Von Miller is one of the best players in the league. I’m not sure how far this offense will be able to take them under the command of QB Trevor Siemian. But the Broncos have plenty of weapons at the skills positions on offense. They still have a stacked WR group led by Demaryius Thomas. Also, remember this name from out of the backfield: sixth round pick RB DeAngelo Henderson. Prediction: 9-7 (Wild-card)

Kansas City Chiefs – Andy Reid has won 10+ games in Kansas City 3 out of the 4 seasons as head coach. And in the one season he didn’t, the team still finished over .500. I think that impressive streak will come to an end this season. The Chiefs are in the process of pushing out many veterans on the roster and that turnover will affect their chances to compete in the AFC West. Alex Smith will be feeling the heat all season from the first round QB they selected in April, Patrick Mahomes. The offense will feature TE Travis Kelce and WR Tyreke Hill but Jamaal Charles and Jeremy Maclin are both gone. They do have a great defense to lean on but that group is starting to age. This will be a down year for the Chiefs. Prediction: 7-9

Los Angeles Chargers – I absolutely hate the Chargers move to LA. It stinks to the high heavens. It stinks for the NFL. As for the team, they could be a sleeper in the AFC West if they can stay healthy. I feel like you could say that every year about this team though. Phillip Rivers returns for yet another season where he will see his WR core suffer through many injuries. At least he still has an aging TE Antonio Gates to go to. It would be nice if RB Melvin Gordon can continue the success he had a season ago. I think the story from this team this year will be the emergence of DE Joey Bosa as he will become a defensive star in this league. Between Melvin Ingram and Bosa, the Chargers could have the best pass-rushing duo in the division. It would be cool to see this team grab some success while they still have Phillip Rivers but I don’t see it happening. Prediction: 6-10

 

AFC Playoff Picture Prediction

  1. New England Patriots – 15-1 (AFC East)
  2. Oakland Raiders – 12-4 (AFC West)
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers – 11-5 (AFC North)
  4. Tennessee Titans – 10-6 (AFC South)
  5. Houston Texans – 9-7 (Wild-card)
  6. Denver Broncos – 9-7 (Wild-card)

I don’t have many nice things to say about the Pro Football Hall of Fame

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The Pro Football Hall of Fame is an absolute Clown Show for making Terrell Owens wait

 

By: Elias McMillan

I’ve never been to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It’s on my bucket list, I guess. Everyone who I know that has visited there, all have given it rave reviews. When I have talked about the Pro Football Hall of Fame with my dad, he always says the same thing: “If you really love football, that’s the place you need to see.”

I hope to visit Canton, Ohio one day but it probably will not be anytime soon. I’ve kind of soured on the Pro Football Hall of Fame recently. It seems kind of petty to get hung up on one thing but I just know how I feel on the matter.

I guess, every pro sports hall of fame lets politics get into the way of what the honor is suppose to stand for. When I hear “Pro Football Hall of Fame”, I think of the best players and moments in the history of the NFL. When I think of a Pro Football Hall of Famer, I think of a player who was at the top or near the top of his position during his prime as a professional player. Keeping those two metrics in mind, I cannot fathom why or how wide receiver Terrell Owens has been left off the Hall of Fame class for not just his first year of eligibility but also his second year, which just passed with this current class being inducted this weekend.

Going back on my comment about politics. Yes, it seems to have clouded the judgment of the voters in this case. But, two years in a row. It’s not even “politics” really. It’s really, “I just don’t like this guy”. I would think that the voters would set aside personal feelings when it comes to Owens. His numbers speak for themselves. But apparently, that’s not the case.

I feel like the omission of Owens has created a bit of a cloud over the HOF for the last two years. In this 2017 class, there are examples where you have players who may have been at the border line of the best at their position during there prime but they get voted in because they play the “media game”. Let me run through this year’s class so I can point out the examples.

Morten Andersen, Kicker, 1982-2007 – I’m not going to run down a kicker here. I think it is cool that a kicker is getting his due in the HOF this year. Especially since, this guy was in the league for almost 30 years! That’s unreal. I’m also glad that Andersen is NOT the kicker for Minnesota that missed the kick in ’98 that cost the Vikings a Super Bowl berth. That was Gary AnderSON. Not related.

Terrell Davis, Running Back, 1995-2001 – Short sample size but Davis was one of the best. No running back in league history has had a three-year stretch like he had from ’96 to ’98. Injuries decimated his career which explains why it was so short and why the Hall had him wait for a little bit.

Kenny Easley, Safety, 1981-1987 – Senior nominee. But still. Who? Uhhhhh. Next.

Jerry Jones, Owner, President, General Manager, 1989-Present – Jerry Jones’ impact on the NFL is undeniable. He has been a trailblazer in terms of the business and the marketing side of this league. Unfortunately, as a die-hard Cowboys fan, I can say that I’m not a “business and marketing” fan. I am a football fan. Don’t get me wrong. I get it. The Business and Marketing aspect is important. But as a football fan, as a Cowboys fan, I take very little pride in Jerry Jones’ business accruement. Jerry Jones’ legacy will be set in the eyes of the NFL team owners, many Cowboys players and employees, and even some fans. For me, I see a guy who hired a great coach in the 90’s that led the franchise into becoming a dynasty. Then, that guy ran that coach out of town and has failed the re-create what that coach had on the football field for 22 years now as a general manager. But hey, how bout that state of the art stadium and those monster television deals?! Go Business!

Jason Taylor, Defensive End/Linebacker, 1997-2011 – As an early admired of pass rushers, I loved Jason Taylor. He was one of the guys I wanted to be like when I started playing the game.

LaDainian Tomlinson, Running Back, 2001-2011 – LT was the last of a dying breed. The “everyday back” might not be as popular as it used to be but there were not many in that category that were better than Tomlinson. Tomlinson was at the top of his position for the majority of his playing days and he even made an impact in his later years in the New York. I’m happy to see him get it.

Kurt Warner, Quarterback, 1998-2009 – Here is where I have a bit of an issue. Kurt Warner’s story is something out of a fairy tale. It is truly one of the best rags to riches stories in sports. In his first year as a starter, he guided the lowly Rams to a championship while posting MVP numbers as a passer. He nearly did the same thing later in 2001. But then, he suffered through some injuries, got shown out of St. Louis, and signed with New York where he was awful. Finishing his career in Arizona, he started slow but then was able to have two great years and actually had a shot at another Super Bowl. As an Arizona Cardinal. Between the Rams and Cardinals, we are talking about franchises that have stunk to the high heavens for a while before Warner got there. And this guy was bagging groceries and playing in arena league prior to all of this. It really is a great story. It should be the in the hall of fame, of stories. Now, I feel like a jerk dragging Warner down a bit but the fact is, Warner was a good quarterback in the league for only 5 and a half seasons. That’s it. And its not a Terrell Davis situation where he was slowed by injuries. There were just some seasons where Warner wasn’t good. And even at his best, he was never considered to be a top player at his position for longer than a season or two. Maybe during his time in St. Louis, yes, he was considered to be near the top in the league but that didn’t last long. Compare that to someone who was on the ballot with Warner, Donavan McNabb, who was better and was better for longer than him. McNabb maybe short some Super Bowl appearances and his best season’s may not measure up to Warner’s statistics wise but consider who Warner had to play with compared to what McNabb had in Philly for years. You’re not going to have the greatest show on turf or on any surface with Todd Stinkston and James Trash as your receivers. Can you imagine McNabb quarterbacking a team with Issac Bruce, Torry Holt, Az-Zahir Hakim and Marshall Faulk coming out from the backfield? I’m just saying, if you’re going to induct Warner, then I think many other QB’s are going to have an argument when it’s their turn.

Warner aced the “media game”. He is an analyst on NFL Network where he has been well received and every body loves him. And how could you not. Like I said, his story is remarkable and he does a good job.

I just wish the Pro Football Hall of Fame were more about football and less about the likability of a player. And Terrell Owens isn’t the first of his kind. There have been players like Owens in past that have been inducted. Michael Irvin was a loud personality and he had the off the field issues that Owens did not have. Warren Sapp is another guy like that. I also think of Brett Favre who held not one but two franchises hostage in the offseason, sexted team employees while his wife fought against cancer, and abused drugs for most of his career. Those guys are in. What was Terrell Owens’ greatest crime?

When Terrell Owens was snubbed from the Hall for a second time, I went to social media and said this:

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After I posted that, I thought to myself that I might have gone too far by saying that race was a factor. But I remember reading an article from ESPN’s Louis Riddick, a HOF voter, that said that he felt “very uncomfortable” when the subject of Owens was brought up while in the room with HOF voters (who were mostly white).

I also think of the case of wide receiver Marvin Harrison who has voted in recently to the HOF. Harrison’s resume is pretty good but I think most would say Owens was better. But that’s not why I bring Harrison up. Harrison was involved in a case where he allegedly shot a guy. But on the field, Harrison was the constant professional. I think what the HOF voters are projecting is that they like it when prominent black athletes are quiet, hand the ball to the official after scoring, and show no personality what so ever. They don’t like it when the prominent black athlete is loud, out spoken, and vocal.

I know Owens will get in eventually. But some of these voters should be ashamed really. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is a Clown Show for making Owens wait.