Tag Archives: A.J. Green

NFL 2018: Week 3 Predictions

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After a week of drama, the Steelers will now have to deal with Fitzmagic.

 

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 8-7-1

Season: 16-14-2

Big Five Games of the Week

New Orleans @ Atlanta – The Saints haven’t looked like the Super Bowl contenders that everyone pegged them as before the season started. Their secondary on defense has struggled and the offense is mistake prone. Atlanta also seems to be stuck in neutral despite their talented roster. But I think they are in better shape currently compared to New Orleans. I like Atlanta to get their second straight division win at home. Winner: Falcons

Cincinnati @ Carolina – Cincy is undefeated but the Joe Mixon injury concerns me. I think if their defense can get after Cam Newton, they can win this game. But I’m not too confident in Andy Dalton on the road. Carolina played good enough to win last week in Atlanta. I think their offense will continue to make big plays at home this week. Winner: Panthers

Tennessee @ Jacksonville – The Titans were Jacksonville’s Achilles heel last season. After a statement win last week vs. New England, the Jaguars face another important test this week. Tennessee is banged up at the QB position but they were still able to beat a talented Houston team last week. I think the Jags will receive a boost with RB Leonard Fournette returning to the line up Sunday. Jacksonville is playing right now with supreme confidence on defense. I also like what I saw last week out of the Jacksonville WR core. These divisional games can always be tough but I would expect Jacksonville to at least take the one in the matchup played in their home. Winner: Jaguars

LA Chargers @ LA Rams – The Chargers wanted to start fast this season but injuries have already hindered them. The Rams are clicking on all cylinders right now and are looking very much like the champs of this past off-season. Right now, I don’t think the Chargers are capable of slowing the Rams down on offense and Phillip Rivers faces a big chore in this Rams defense, which is coming off a shutout last week. I like the Rams in this battle for LA. Winner: Rams

Pittsburgh @ Tampa Bay – There’s plenty of drama in Pittsburgh right now but winning can pretty much solve anything. Ryan Fitzpatrick and the suddenly explosive Tampa Bay offense has been the story of the season after two week. That will work into Pittsburgh’s current weakness in the secondary as I expect the Bucs to attack through the air again on Monday night. The Steelers are capable of airing it out as well. I see this game as a shootout between tow great passing attacks. I think Mike Tomlin has challenged his team and his defense to silence all of the noise surrounding the team off the field by getting a win on the field. I think the Steelers defense will play their part in losing this one on the road but they’ll be bailed out by their offense. Winner: Steelers

The Rest of Week 3

Jets over Browns – Cleveland is the sentimental favorite but this Jets team is mentally tough.

Chiefs over 49ers – The Patrick Mahomes show will continue as the Chiefs open their home schedule.

Raiders over Dolphins – No one is talking about how this Miami team is unbeaten but Oakland absolutely need this one.

Vikings over Bills – This one should be a layup for Minnesota at home against a Bills team that has trouble scoring and keeping their players during halftime.

Eagles over Colts – Carson Wentz’s return should be the highlight of this one.

Packers over Washington – Green Bay’s defense will keep Washington in it. Tough to bet against Aaron Rodgers though.

Broncos over Ravens – If Denver can stay away from the turnover, their defense should be able to take care of business on the road.

Texans over Giants – Houston has been a disappointment to start this season. They need this one at home.

Bears over Cardinals – Arizona might get shutout in consecutive weeks.

Cowboys over Seahawks – Offense will be at the minimum. Dallas will try to make this an “Ezekiel Elliott” game against an underrated Seattle defense.

Patriots over Lions – The narrative against Bill Belichick disciples will continue, as the Lions will be winless after this week.

Fantasy Picks of the Week

QB: Ben Roethlisberger/Ryan Fitzpatrick (Steelers/Buccaneers) – You can’t miss with this MNF matchup. Passing yards could reach to over 900.

RB: Lamar Miller (Texans) – Miller has been silently productive to start this season.

WR: Tyreek Hill (Chiefs) – The 49ers will not be able to slow down the Kansas City Cheetah.

TE: Jordan Reed (Washington) – Alex Smith will target the big TE against this Packers secondary.

DEF: Chicago – The Bears defense will have their way with Arizona.

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NFL 2018: AFC Season Preview

By: Elias McMillan

In the past, I have really fleshed out these previews for each team. But who has time for that? Here are my protections for the AFC in 2018.

AFC EAST

The Patriots will rule this division again. It is really a shame that the other three teams in the AFC East are so far behind. And New England really isn’t the juggernaut that everyone makes them out to be. Yes, they still have the ageless one, Tom Brady. And he is still able to get the most out of his receivers, especially, all-pro TE Rob Gronkowski. But New England enters this season once again with many of the same weaknesses. The offensive line, especially in pass protection, worries me as well as their lack of a run game. New England did improve defensively up front but their secondary is extremely average at best. Despite this, no one in the division is ready to challenge them. I like what the Jets are building though. They lucked out and drafted possibly the best QB in this past draft in Sam Darnold. Now, they just have to build an offense around him because currently, this team just doesn’t have enough weapons. I really like the young pieces they have on defense like safety Jamal Adams and defensive lineman Leonard Williams. Miami is in rebuild mode defensively as they let go a couple of big names in the offseason. I like the addition of DE Robert Quinn who once put up great sack numbers as a member of the Rams. Miami will benefit from the return of QB Ryan Tannehill. They will feel the loss of WR Jarvis Landry but I think RB Kenyan Drake will be a break out player this season. I like the pairing the backfield of Drake and veteran Frank Gore. It was a great story last season when the Bills made the playoffs. I think they will free fall to the bottom of the division this season. I hated the draft pick QB Josh Allen. They have a lot of question marks on offense outside of RB LeSean McCoy who isn’t getting younger. Buffalo’s defense could be able to keep them in some games in 2018 but the lack of offense will keep them from some wins. Projected Finish (Playoff Team in BOLD): 1) Patriots, 2) Jets, 3) Dolphins, 4) Bills

AFC NORTH

The talent that Pittsburgh has will make them the unquestioned favorite once again this year in the North. The big question will again be if the Ben, Brown, and Bell combo can finally break through and win the conference. That question looms even larger in 2018 as it will probably be Le’Veon Bell’s last season in the Black and Gold. The sad part is that it will probably be the defense again that will hold this team back. Can Pittsburgh consistently pressure the QB? Can they get great LB play without Ryan Shazier in the lineup? Can the secondary not be a continued weakness? Those are all legit questions that will need to be answered this season. The good news (if you’re a Pittsburgh fan) is that traditional rivals, Baltimore and Cincinnati, are not in shape to compete with the Steelers. I still can’t believe the Bengals extended Marvin Lewis after last season. The Bengals are still holding on to a talented roster led by WR A.J. Green but they lack the edge to be real players in the division. You never know what you’re going to get out of QB Andy Dalton. He might be able to lean on RB Joe Mixon this year as many are expecting big things out of him. On defense, DT Geno Atkins looks like the lone bright spot on defense for the Bengals. LB Vontaze Burfict can be a difference maker when he is not suspended or acting like an idiot. Baltimore enters this season in a strange place as it is starting to look like the end of the road for many of their veterans. Joe Flacco, who hasn’t been the same player since winning the Super Bowl, looks like he is being groomed to be replaced eventually by rookie QB Lamar Jackson. Flacco will have a fighting chance to solidify his position this year as the team really put out an effort to add weapons around him in the passing game. I think Baltimore will be stout on defense again this year but they are looking mighty old at some key positions. In terms of youth, they still have a good one in LB C.J. Mosley but I believe time is running out for veterans Terrell Suggs and Eric Weddle. There’s a lot of buzz surrounding Cleveland this year but I don’t understand why. I was rooting for Hue Jackson to succeed there but his shortcomings as a head coach are becoming obvious to everyone. I initially hated what Cleveland did in the draft but I’m starting to warm up to Baker Mayfield. The little kid from Oklahoma has an arm and an “it factor”. I still believe they should have taken Saquon Barkley. On paper, I think the Browns definitely won’t go winless this season. They have a pretty decent cast at the skill positions this year including WR Jarvis Landry, WR Josh Gordon, RB Carlos Hyde, and emerging TE David Njoku. There’s plenty of young talent on the defensive side of the ball as well. DE Myles Garrett could be on the verge of having a productive season. The Browns will still be the Browns in 2018 and I wont mistake a few wins as hope for the future. Especially if that future includes Hue Jackson. Projected Finish (Playoff Team in BOLD): 1) Steelers, 2) Bengals, 3) Ravens, 4) Browns

AFC SOUTH

Looking at the AFC South and I think you will see the best roster of teams in the conference from top to bottom. I don’t believe that Jacksonville will be a one-year wonder after their shocking success from a year ago. You can’t fake the talent they have on defense. Though, I think their lack of a passing game will bite them again in 2018. I’m buying into the Houston Texans in 2018 as long as they stay healthy. I think they can be really deadly offensively with QB Deshaun Watson running the show. I think the Texans defense could be really good with the return of J.J. Watt and the continued progression of Jadeveon Clowney. Again, Jacksonville be tough because of that defense they have but their loyalty shown to QB Blake Bortles might hold them back if they can return to the postseason. Tennessee made a surprising run the playoffs last season and I think they can continue to get better. There were times last year that QB Marcus Mariota looked shaky especially in the pocket. But the guy is playmaker, you can’t deny that. I think the addition of RB Dion Lewis will help him. Lewis and RB Derrick Henry should form one of the better backfield duos in the league this year. The Titans also worked to improve their defense through the draft and free agency this past offseason. CB Malcolm Butler will be given a chance to prove himself after a forgetful season last year in New England. In Indianapolis, the Colts will not win many games this year but the season will be all about QB Andrew Luck getting use to live game action after a lengthy break. Projected Finish (Playoff Team in BOLD): 1) Texans, 2) Jaguars, 3) Titans, 4) Colts

AFC WEST

I think we’re going to see a changing of the guard in the AFC West this season. Kansas City has had a good run under Andy Reid but they aren’t getting younger and are beginning a turnover at many key spots on the defensive side. The LA Chargers showed promise last season but it wasn’t enough to make the post season. I think this year’s team will be under a lot of pressure to produce as QB Phillip Rivers could be playing in his last games. I think the Chargers have enough talent to give Rivers one more run in the post season this year. WR Keenan Allen quietly had a productive season last year and the ground game is pretty good led by Melvin Gordon. I’m really excited to see how good their defense can be. Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa form a great pass rushing duo. Rookie safety Derwin James could be another young defender who can make plays. There is a lot of hype surrounding the return of head coach Jon Gruden to Oakland but I’m afraid that it is just that: hype. Gruden, a media darling, was always over rated as a coach and is now being used as a ploy to get fans in Oakland to forget that their team is leaving them for Vegas in the near future. Despite the clown show antics from the front office, Oakland returns a decent team in 2018. The David Carr-Amari Cooper connection should continue to lead this offense. Hopefully, DE Khalil Mack can return with no signs of rest after a lengthy contract hold out. Denver will be defined by their defense again in 2018. Von Miller will led a really good front seven this season but the secondary will miss CB Aqib Talib who was traded. The Broncos brought in QB Case Keenum who is coming off a great year in Minnesota. I’m not sure if he can recreate that magic again on a new team but Denver will need him to, as they have nothing behind him at that position. Kansas City has handed over the offense to QB Patrick Mahomes after trading away Alex Smith. Mahomes has impressed in the preseason. WR Tyreek Hill and RB Kareem Hunt will provide him with top-notch options to go to in the air and on the ground. Kansas City has drafted well on defense recently but I think they will miss some of those veterans who did not return this year, especially CB Marcus Peters. Projected Finish (Playoff Team in BOLD): 1) Chargers, 2) Raiders, 3) Broncos, 4) Chiefs

NFL 2017: Week 13 Predictions!

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Washington’s Kirk Cousins could have a hand in effectively ending the 2017 Cowboys season in Jerry World on Thursday night.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 10-6

Season: 106-70

Big Five Games of the Week

Washington @ Dallas – The Cowboys look awful. The offense looks on empty without Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott and passing game have been abysmal, and the defense can’t pressure QB’s or get stops. I don’t know what the Cowboys can do to get out of this rut. A lot of people are pointing their fingers at the head coach and the failure to make halftime adjustments. I say, the quarterback and the star wide receiver (Dez Bryant) need to get back on track. I also say, the defensive line that has disappeared in the last three games needs to show up. Washington hasn’t made excuses this season. They have battled through injuries. They’ve lost a few games short handed but you can tell that they are at least competing. Kirk Cousins may not be great but he’ll carve up this Dallas defense if they don’t figure it out on Thursday night. Washington’s defense may not be at 100% but they still have enough talent to force Dallas to trip over themselves like they have been during this three game stretch. Loser of this game can forget about making a run to the postseason. Dallas has their backs against the wall and they are at home. But I’m not feeling the effort on the defensive side of the ball. I think Dak Prescott can bounce back but without a solid run game, will it be enough. Jason Garrett has received a vote of confidence from Jerry Jones this week. Do I think he understands this pressure situation facing his team on Thursday night? I doubt it. Prediction: Washington 21 – Cowboys 16

Minnesota @ Atlanta – Minnesota is in cruise control right now. What’s crazy is that they are doing this with their third string quarterback. Plus, they lost their best running back to injury in the beginning of the season. Head Coach Mike Zimmer deserves a ton of credit. The Vikings defense does as well. Beating Atlanta on the road could be a tough task. The Falcons have been inconsistent this year but they are starting to string together some wins. RB Devonta Freeman could return from injury this week so their running game might receive a boost. Minnesota is pretty tough against the run though. WR Julio Jones is coming off a monster game last week but he’ll face a talented Minnesota secondary this week. Minnesota has two things that usually travel well on a football team: defense and a running game. I like the Vikings train to keep rolling this week. Prediction: Vikings 23 – Falcons 20

New England @ Buffalo – The Bills are very much in the conversation for the final playoff spot in the AFC. Maybe. I mean, its great that QB Tyrod Taylor is back at QB. But I don’t trust Buffalo’s defense at all. They were able to limit Alex Smith last week. Ton Brady might be a completely different story. Brady has historically ripped Buffalo in Buffalo throughout his career. Patriots are on a pretty good roll right now and I feel like it’s been a minute since they’ve faced any type of adversity. I think on the road at Buffalo could be perfect storm for a random upset. I don’t think much of the Patriots defense. I would like to see LeSean McCoy control the clock for the Bills on the ground. And maybe Bills front four can pressure Brady into some uncharacteristic mistakes. Going out on a limb here but Buffalo needs this one. Prediction: Bills 31 – Patriots 29

Carolina @ New Orleans – The Saints suffered a major let down on the road last week in LA. New Orleans’ defense has been much improved this season but they are starting to go through some wear and tear with the injuries. Drew Brees is still Drew Brees but the Saints offense faced a tough defense last week and they will again at home this week against Carolina. Carolina is in the process of recreating the magic they had as a team in 2015. The Panthers defense is playing well. I’m still worried about Cam Newton. His numbers have been awful but the key for him is to just stay away from the turnovers. Newton will have to be extra careful this week against an aggressive Saints secondary that causes multiple turnovers each week. I think the Panthers defense will do its job but it will be the New Orleans defense that will force some turnovers at home in a key NFC South matchup. Prediction: Saints 24 – Panthers 18

Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati – The Steelers may not have been extra impressive last week but they got the win. Pittsburgh knows that they have an offense right now that will allow them to compete for a championship this upcoming January. Right now, that Steelers defense is looking a bit shaky. Last week, Brett Hundley ripped the Steelers secondary, repeatedly. I can say with confidence that Andy Dalton will not be able to do the same. The Bengals have won a couple in a row and they are very much in the discussion for that final AFC playoff spot. Rookie RB Joe Mixon is coming off his best performance. And the Cincinnati defense always seems to come with a little “extra” when it comes to facing the Steelers. Unfortunately, you have to worry about LB Vontaze Burfict doing something mindless that might cost the Bengals. It’s going to be a crazy atmosphere in Cincinnati on Monday night. I think the Steelers will show up to this game but weird things can happen in these divisional rivalries. I’m going out on a limb once more this week and taking the Bengals at home to get the upset. Prediction: Bengals 34 – Steelers 33

The Rest of Week 13

Bears over 49ers – Jimmy Garoppolo will start for San Fran. This game will be 60 minutes of garbage time but both teams will offer two young signal callers against two young up and coming defenses.

Packers over Buccaneers – Jameis Winston will return this one. Brett Hundley gotta feel confident after last week. Tampa’s secondary will help him out at home.

Titans over Texans – Tennessee needs this to keep pace with Jacksonville.

Dolphins over Broncos – Awful QB play in this one. Kaepernick. Kaepernick. Kaepernick. Kaepernick. Kaepernick. Kaepernick. Kaepernick. Kaepernick. Kaepernick. Kaepernick. Kaepernick. Kaepernick. Kaepernick. Kaepernick.

Jets over Chiefs – The race in the AFC West is officially on. Kansas City is falling apart. The Jets are bad but they bring it every week.

Jaguars over Colts – I like Chuck Pagano but it looks like he is on his way out.

Lions over Ravens – Detroit has to let the superior QB play on their side win this one for them at home. Baltimore’s defense at home will be tough though.

Chargers over Browns – It will be interesting to see Josh Gordon’s impact in this game. Phillip Rivers and the Chargers are peaking at the right time.

Raiders over Giants – I love all these crocodile tears for Eli Manning. He’s been stinking up the joint on a bad team and has really been average his entire career. He can kick rocks all the way to retirement for all I care. Oakland stinks this year but they’ll roll in this one.

Cardinals over Rams – After their best win of the season last week, I can see a letdown coming for the Rams this week in the form of Arizona who is usually a tough out at home.

Eagles over Seahawks – Seattle is a shell of its former self. Philadelphia will be unopposed until the playoffs. Which probably is a bad thing for them.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Brett Hundley (Packers) – He isn’t Aaron Rodgers but he played well on the road last week and is facing a weak secondary at home this week.

RB: Jordan Howard (Bears) – Howard had an awful showing last week against the best run defense in the league (Philadelphia). This week, he’ll face one of the worst run defenses in the league.

WR: Amari Cooper (Raiders) – With no Michael Crabtree, Cooper might receive extra targets this week against a weak Giants secondary.

TE: Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Jets) – Seferian-Jenkins is getting a decent amount of targets right now.

DEF: Jacksonville – It seems like the Jaguars defense makes a game changing play each week. Last week, they got one in the form of a fumble recovery for a touchdown but they still ended up losing. Maybe they have better luck this week against a Colts offense that ranks near the bottom of the league.

 

NFL 2017: Week 7 Predictions!

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After handing Kansas City their first loss of 2017, Pittsburgh sets its eyes on Cincinnati and the AFC North.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 8-6

Season: 50-41

Big Five Games of the Week

Arizona @ Los Angeles Rams – The Cardinals could put themselves right back in the discussion in the NFC West with a win over the Rams in London on Sunday. Arizona has had a rough start to this season. They lost RB David Johnson and their defense has been a major disappointment. But the arrival of RB Adrian Peterson last week has put some life back into the Cardinals offense. The Rams are currently in first place in the NFC West. Crazy, I know. They are finally seeing the fruits of their individual talent from a couple of players (Gurley, Donald, etc.) but as a team they are still inconsistent. The Rams and Cardinals both have defenses that give up a lot on the ground and through the air. I’ll place my faith in the three old guys (Peterson, Palmer, & Fitzgerald) though the Rams will probably have the best player on the field. Prediction: Cardinals 33 – Rams 23

Baltimore @ Minnesota – With Rookie RD Dalvin Cook going down to an injury weeks ago, it felt like the excitement about Minnesota’s season went with him. But suddenly, hope springs enteral for the guys in Purple. Aaron Rodgers was taken out last week, they secured the home victory over Green Bay, and QB Teddy Bridgewater is getting ready to return. What a tremendous turn around this could be. But the Vikings can’t get ahead of themselves. They still have to take care of business at home this week against a floundering Baltimore team. Are we seeing the end of Joe Flacco? Baltimore’s offense is a mess and maybe Flacco isn’t sole to blame but he hasn’t been exactly lighting it up this season. Baltimore’s offensive struggles serve right into Minnesota’s strength: defense. Prediction: Vikings 28 – Ravens 14

Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh – The Steelers are following a familiar pattern this season. Playing down to weak opponents then playing up against stronger one. This has been in full display the last two weeks with what happened at home against Jacksonville then last week at undefeated Kansas City. Can the Steelers find some consistency? This Sunday at home against a AFC North rival would be a great time for the Steelers to stop tripping over themselves and start playing like the title contenders everyone thought they would be. Pittsburgh is taking Cincinnati seriously despite the Bengals struggles this season. Cincy has been playing better since Week 1 and are coming to Pittsburgh off a bye week, so they should be fresh. This will be a long, drawn out chess match with both teams attempting to control the clock with the run game. Pittsburgh will not be overly aggressive which will allow the Bengals to believe that they can actually hang with them. But, despite their issues, the Steelers are still the class of the AFC North and they’ll prove it Sunday at home. Prediction: Steelers 29 – Bengals 21

Atlanta @ New England – I almost called New England losing at the Jets last week. I could see it coming. New England has grossly under achieved so far this season but there’s no panic in Bean town thanks to the awful division they play in. I can’t explain what happened to the Falcons last week. To blow a 17 point lead at home to Miami? They must have been over looking the Dolphins in anticipation to this primetime Super Bowl rematch. The Patriots haven’t been great at home, losing there to Carolina, Kansas City, and nearly Houston. Atlanta can forget about what happened last week at home. They’ve been clearly waiting for this opportunity to exorcise the demons from last year’s Super Bowl meltdown. Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense will jump on the home team early and look to make a point in this one. Prediction: Falcons 34 – Patriots 27   

Washington @ Philadelphia – All aboard the Philadelphia hype train. The Eagles are 5-1 and since they’re in the NFC East, all eyes are on them right now. Allow me to quickly throw shade. Who have the Eagles beaten? I guess their most impressive win was at Carolina but they were gifted in that one by a couple of horrible throws by Cam Newton. Looking down the Eagles schedule and they have a cupcake city trail that will probably lead to a 10 win season. I can’t believe it but its true. Sigh. Washington was never going to be a player in the NFC East this year but I was impressed by their defense. That unit is starting to suffer through some injuries and Kirk Cousins and the Washington offense won’t be able to save them. Philly should roll at home. Prediction: Eagles 30 – Washington 20

The Rest of Week 7

Chiefs over Raiders – Oakland has no defense. Kansas City’s offense should be able to rebound on the short week.

Bills over Buccaneers – Tampa Bay will be on my list of most disappointing teams this season. Buffalo’s defense is tough and Tyrod Taylor will have some chances for some big plays at home against Tampa’s defense.

Panthers over Bears – Cam Newton was brutal at the end of last week’s game against the Eagles. I hope he has himself figured out this week. They can’t sleep on Chicago’s defense. They have young talent.

Titans over Browns – There’s no hope is Cleveland. Tennessee must start stacking victories if they hope to win their division.

Saints over Packers – The Aaron Rodgers injury is an absolute killer. Now, Green Bay’s roster will be exposed for just not being very good. Rodgers hid a lot of problems for the Packers.

Jaguars over Colts – Jacksonville’s seesaw season continues. And Andrew Luck has had a setback during his recovery. He can’t wait to get out of Indianapolis.

Jets over Dolphins – Toss-up game here. I’m rooting for Todd Bowles. He’s a good coach and the Jets looked like over achievers last week.

Cowboys over 49ers – Trap game for Dallas coming off the bye. They can’t let their lack of defense lose it for them. Control the clock with the run game and limit San Fran’s big plays.

Seahawks over Giants – New York could make things hard for Seattle on the road judging off what they did to Denver last week. Seattle’s defense must set the tone early in this one.

Broncos over Chargers – Denver better show up this week. They were nowhere to be found at home last Sunday.

 

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Matt Ryan (Falcons) – New England gives up the most yardage through the air this season. Ryan will attack and attack often.

RB: C.J Anderson (Broncos) – The Chargers allow the most yardage through the ground this season. With the question marks Denver has at QB, they should lean on Anderson and the run game.

WR: Dez Bryant (Cowboys) – I want to see Dez have a multiple TD game against a weak 49ers secondary.

TE: Travis Kelce (Chiefs) – Oakland can’t defend the pass. Kelce has been the heartbeat of the Chiefs passing attack this season.

DEF: Minnesota – Joe Flacco will not be able to beat this defense.

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)

NFL 2016: Week 10 Predictions!

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The Ezekiel Elliott express will be rolling into Pittsburgh this Sunday.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 10-3

Season: 80-51-2

Big Five Games of the Week

Green Bay @ Tennessee – Green Bay’s loss last week at home to the Colts was eye opening. The Packers could be in a position to take control of the NFC North because of the sliding Vikings but they failed last week. Maybe this Packers team just isn’t that good. I’ve believed for a while now that Tennessee could emerge as a front-runner in the AFC South but they have failed in big spots this season. I think Sunday will be one of those other times for the Titans where they will squander a big opportunity. Green Bay struggled defensively last week and Tennessee has the weapons to give them more problems this week. QB Marcus Maroita is playing well. DeMarco Murray has the run game going. And Tennessee’s defense is under rated. But against better competition, the Titans just seem to fold under pressure. Aaron Rodgers will put on the pressure early in this one and the Titans will offer little resistance. It will be up to Tennessee offense if they want to secure the upset. Prediction: Packers 32 – Titans 26

Kansas City @ Carolina – The Panthers feel like they can really make a run and get back into the playoff discussion. They will have a tough time this week against a Chiefs team that is rolling again much like last year. Kansas City is able to get it done on both sides of the ball and they are getting stronger. The offense without Jamaal Charles is carrying on just fine. They even lost Alex Smith for a while but that didn’t stop them from winning either. Smith returns this week, by the way. Kansas City remains to be very good defensively and they are about to be even better in that area. DE Dee Ford is among the league leaders in sacks this season. They already have a great veteran in Tamba Hali. And they are getting back Justin Houston this week. With this defense at full strength, the Chiefs will be a tough one for the Panthers. I think Carolina is going to have problems protecting Cam Newton this week and the Chiefs offense will take advantage of a Carolina defense that has under performed all season. I’m taking the Chiefs on the road. Prediction: Chiefs 27 – Panthers 20

Dallas @ Pittsburgh – It’s that time again. My own personal Super Bowl that comes around every four years. And of course, I’m not talking about the election. The Steelers enter Sunday’s game against Dallas reeling. But despite that, they are still favored by 2.5 in Vegas. How? Well, Pittsburgh has a reputation in this sort of situation. The Steelers are 4-4 at the half way point of the season but they’ve been in this situation before and in the past they have responded strongly. Everyone knows how tough the Steelers can be during the second half of the season especially with all the talent they have. Everyone knows that the Steelers have a good record at home against NFC opponents. Despite those two points, in this game we’ll be looking at one team that has under performed and the other team that has over achieved. And the over achieving team has put forth a consistent effort each week. Dallas is having a great season but they do have weaknesses that serve as an advantage to Pittsburgh. Dallas can pressure the QB and Ben Roethlisberger loves to throw deep when he has time. Dallas hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher this season but on Sunday they’ll face Le’Veon Bell. Bell will probably be the best RB that Dallas will face all season. Dallas also has a banged up secondary while Pittsburgh has a wealth of talent at the WR position. Well, let me retract that statement because outside of Antonio Brown, that group has struggled recently. Despite that, I think Pittsburgh could be in a situation where they could score a lot of points. Ben Roethlisberger played like crap last week. He has to be back to his old self if hopes to lead this Steelers team to a win this week. Dallas has been so steady and consistent and that will serve them while this week. This Dallas team is very similar to the team we saw in 2014 and in 2014 that team was excellent on the road. The Cowboys rushing attack has taken on all challenges so far this season. I think Pittsburgh will try to key on the run but I think Ezekiel Elliott will still be successful. The QB isn’t an issue in Dallas and they’ll be facing a poor Steelers secondary. I’ve had a feeling that Tony Romo will start this week but even if he doesn’t, Dak Prescott should be able to continue to be the guy the make the smart decisions in passing situations. What is also going to help Prescott (Or Romo) is that Pittsburgh doesn’t have a great pass rush like they’ve had in the past. With time in the pocket, Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, or Cole Beasley will have a significant impact in this game. I’m very worried about the Cowboys defense in terms of stopping the Steelers but also I’m not sure if the Steelers are ready or if Roethlisberger is fully healthy and ready to get this offense to finally live up to its potential. These games are always close and gut wrenching. The Steelers seem confident that they can bounce back from that embarrassing display last week in Baltimore. But I think this is the same team that played last week and played poorly against Philly and Miami. Slow and steady wins the race and that is Dallas right now. I’m taking my Boys. Prediction: Cowboys 28 – Steelers 27

Seattle @ New England – Here is a possible Super Bowl preview. This is also a Super Bowl rematch and some of the feelings from that game two years ago are still raw. I also think that this Seattle team isn’t nearly as good as it was two years ago. Seattle got a much-needed win last week at home but Buffalo still took them to their limits. The main thing that the Seahawks can take away from last week is that they need to include TE Jimmy Graham more often in the passing game. Without Jimmy Graham, Buffalo might have won last week. Seattle’s defense is also still very good. But Seattle has the same issue that it always had; they are a poor road team. I don’t think that the Patriots are world-beaters but they could appear that way playing at home. Tom Brady has had success picking at the weaknesses in the Seattle secondary. New England’s ground game will be a good test for Seattle’s front four. New England’s defense is still a mystery to me because they keep losing pieces but are still surviving and not losing games for the offense. I think this game will come down to the QB’s and I’ll take Tom Brady in that contest every time. The chippiness in this one will make it very entertaining to watch. I’m taking Gronk and the bros at home. Prediction: Patriots 33 – Seahawks 21

Cincinnati @ New York Giants – The Giants received a key victory last week against the Eagles but they were none too impressive. The Bengals are coming off of a long lay off and are sitting at 3-4-1. I’m sure they believe in that locker room that they are not ready to pack it up and call it a season. I think Cincinnati will be looking to prove themselves on the road on Monday night. I know the stories about “primetime Andy Dalton” but I think the Bengals will be able to find success against this Giants defense. The key will be if the Bengals defense can slow down Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr and the Giants passing attack. Watching Beckham Jr and AJ Green try to one up each other each possession should be entertaining and worth the price of admission. The Giants are coming off a victory, which I think will lead to a classic letdown on national TV. I’m taking the Bengals in an upset. Prediction: Bengals 35 – Giants 30

The Rest of Week 10

Browns over Ravens – Cleveland’s gotta win one. Why not tonight?

Broncos over Saints – Can Drew Brees carry the Saints again against Denver’s defense? I don’t think so.

Jets over Rams – Rams games are the toughest to prediction. You never know which Jeff Fisher team you will get.

Falcons over Eagles – Atlanta can score a lot of points. Philly can not.

Buccaneers over Bears – Lovie Smith revenge game? Maybe if he was coaching Chicago. Tampa has more talent.

Washington over Vikings – The Minnesota slide continues? Even against Washington? It should be close.

Texans over Jaguars – Will Gus Bradley get fired after losing this one at home? Maybe.

Chargers over Dolphins – The loser has to go back home to their awesome weather.

Cardinals over 49ers – Arizona needs to start their playoff push right now.

Week 10 Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Trevor Siemian (Broncos) – The Saints allow the most yards through the air. So, why not for Trevor?

RB: Melvin Gordon (Chargers) – Gordon is having a amazing season and on Sunday, he’ll face the third worst run defense in the league.

WR: Dez Bryant (Cowboys) – Bryant has been patient while allowing opportunities for his teammates. On Sunday, he’ll make a big play when called upon.

TE: Zach Miller (Bears) – Chicago will be facing Tampa defense which doesn’t defend the pass well.

DEF: Arizona – The Cardinals defense will be looking to make big plays against Colin Kaepernick.

NFL 2016: Week 6 Predictions!

NFL: Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers

Green Bay’s defensive front seven has been impressive so far this season. They’ll see their toughest test this weekend when Dallas comes to town.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 7-7

Season: 43-34

Big Five Games of the Week

Cincinnati @ New England – I don’t know what’s wrong with Cincinnati but they better get it figured out real fast. Last week in Dallas, they found themselves down 28 nothing in a game that ended up not being close at all. The Bengals seem to have major problems defensively and they are struggling up front offensively, which is affecting the run and pass game. Cincinnati took their lumps last week and that will probably continue on the road this week against New England. The Patriots got their leader back last week in Tom Brady. They also received reinforcements on the defensive line. New England is stronger on both sides of the ball now compared to earlier in the season and they are going to play at a high level for the foreseeable future. Cincinnati has most of the same talent they got them into the playoffs for the last couple of years but they are currently trending down. I don’t see them competing with the Patriots on Sunday in Tom Brady’s homecoming at Gillette Stadium. Prediction: Patriots 35 – Bengals 20

Baltimore @ New York Giants – The Giants struggled on offense again this past week but it was against a pretty good defense in Minnesota. This week, the Giants offense will look to get back on track against a Ravens defense at home. Baltimore is still an inconsistent team and you really can’t get a good read on them. The Ravens are usually a tough defensive team but their offense cant get on track or score enough points to put opponents away. Joe Flacco and company will probably find it tough this week against New York’s defense on the road. Baltimore’s weakness on defense is in the secondary and that should serve Eli Manning and the Giants passing attack well. Without Steve Smith in the lineup, Flacco will be looking for his younger receivers to step up this week but they will struggle to go blow for blow against Manning’s passing attack. Eli Manning has been heavily criticized this season but I believe that he will be able to look like his old self this week. Prediction: Giants 33 – Ravens 23

Kansas City @ Oakland – The Raiders are a fun team to watch each week. This is mainly because their defense can’t put away opponents, which leads to late game heroics by David Carr and the offense. This week, the Raiders are at home against a Kansas City team that is coming off the bye week and is looking to play much better than they showed so far this season. Kansas City will receive full contributions this week from Jamaal Charles who is finally really to take the reins of the KC backfield. Kansas City usually runs the ball well but they will be tested by a very good Raiders front seven on defense. Oakland struggles mightily against the pass, which is good news for Alex Smith. If the Raiders can’t pressure Smith, he’ll be able to go throw for throw against Oakland’s offensive attack. Kansas City’s defense took some serious beatings early this season but coming off the bye, that unit will be looking prove themselves this week on the road. The matchup between Marcus Peters and Amari Cooper should be an interesting one. It seems like the Raiders are a different team at home compared to on the road so, I expect them to take a step back this week. I think Kansas City will prove this week that they are still a contender in this division. Prediction: Chiefs 24 – Raiders 21

Dallas @ Green Bay – In this old school NFC matchup, we will see strength vs. strength. The Packers have the top ranked run defense in the league. The Cowboys have the league’s best rushing attack. The team that controls the line of scrimmage will win this game. Green Bay defensive line is good but I don’t think they have faced an offensive line as good as the one in Dallas or a running back running as well as rookie Ezekiel Elliott. But on the other hand, Dallas hasn’t played against a run strong run defense this season unless you count how the Giants played in Week 1. Green Bay’s defense is impressive with the way they can stop the run and pressure the QB but they are beatable in the passing game. Rookie Dak Prescott has gotten better week after week at going down the field and I think he will get his chances this week. QB Aaron Rodgers is playing at a high level again and that is probably bad news for the Cowboys defense. That Cowboys defense is coming off two very strong performances though. CB Morris Claiborne is playing like a legit shutdown corner and the defensive line received a huge boost last week with the return of DE DeMarcus Lawrence. I think the Packers will have opportunities to soften up the Dallas defense with Eddie Lacy and the run game. With that, Rodgers will have his opportunities down the field as well. But Green Bay’s offensive line is a weakness in pass projection and I think the Cowboys pass rush will have a presence in this game. Dallas is the hot team right now and I’ve picked against them for 4 weeks now. I think the rookies will keep this thing rolling into the bye week. Prediction: Cowboys 28 – Packers 24

Atlanta @ Seattle – It’s starting to look like the Falcons will be the front-runners in the NFC South this season. Usually, it would be too soon for me to make such a statement but the rest of the division looks like such a mess. The Falcons looked mighty impressive last week on the road at Denver. This week, they’ll be looking for another big road victory in Seattle. The Seahawks are a tough team at home and they are coming off the bye week. Russell Wilson was dealing with some injuries but you couldn’t tell with the way he was playing before the bye week. Now that he is rested up, I expect him to be as effective as usual on Sunday. I’m not sure how improved the Falcons defense is yet but Wilson and the Seahawks offense will test them often through the air and on the ground. Seattle has the top ranked defense in football and their secondary will be taking on the top ranked passing attack in football. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones have been on a roll recently but Sunday will be their biggest task of the season. In terms of these “top offense vs. top defense” matchups, it is usually wise to go with the defense. Especially in this case with Seattle being so good at home. An Atlanta win here would be most impressive but I’m sticking with my guns here and going with the home Seahawks. Prediction: Seahawks 31 – Falcons 23

The Rest of Week 6

Chargers over Broncos – Here’s a Thursday night upset. San Diego’s pass rush looked like a monster last week with the addition of rookie Joey Bosa. They will get after Trevor Siemian tonight and San Diego will score the upset at home.

Bills over 49ers – The talk before the game will be about the return of Colin Kaepernick. The talk after the game will be about how Buffalo hasn’t lost since firing their offensive coordinator.

Jaguars over Bears – Jacksonville is coming off the bye. Chicago isn’t that good. C’mon Jaguars. Do something for once.

Lions over Rams – This is a toss up.

Titans over Browns – Tennessee needs to start stacking up wins if they want to contend for the AFC South title.

Steelers over Dolphins – Trap game for Pittsburgh. Miami stinks and Ryan Tannehill is starting to run out of chances at being the guy in South Florida.

Saints over Panthers – Here’s another small upset. Carolina’s downward spiral continues. What’s wrong with their defense?

Eagles over Washington – Without Jordan Reed, Washington’s offense will not be able to go toe to toe against Philadelphia’s offense. Carson Wentz will bounce back this week.

Colts over Texans – Houston has some serious offensive issues. Indy will play them tough on the road.

Cardinals over Jets – Both pass defenses will keep this interesting. I trust Arizona’s offense a lot more than New York’s right now.

Week 6 Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Carson Palmer (Cardinals) – The Jets have serious issues in the secondary. Palmer will have his pick of receivers on Monday night.

RB: LeSean McCoy (Bills) – Shady has been tearing it up recently. San Fran run defense hasn’t been the same since the NaVarro Bowman injury.

WR: DeAndre Hopkins (Texans) – Houston will need some one on offense to step up on Sunday night. Hopkins will have to be that guy against a weak Colts secondary.

TE: Rob Gronkowski (Patriots) – Marty B has taken up some attention in New England. Gronk is starting to look like his old self though and he’ll probably break out any game now. Why not this week against a struggling Bengals defense?

DEF: Buffalo – The Bills defense is slowly starting to improve. If Kaepernick tries to hard to show that he is back to his old self, this Bills defense will take advantage.