Tag Archives: A.J. Green

NFL 2019: AFC Preview

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No Brown? No Bell? No worries. Here comes Super Ben to save the day. Right?

 

By: Elias McMillan

AFC EAST

For the past 15 seasons, this division has only seen two other teams finish in first place other than the New England Patriots. No one is sure when the Patriots’ domination of the AFC East will end but I doubt it will be this year despite the fact New England really didn’t improve in the offseason. QB Tom Brady returns once again in his quest to add to his already Hall-of-Fame resume. New England has a nice mix of youth and veteran leadership at the skill positions. On offense this year, they will have a huge hole at the TE position thanks to the retirement of Rob Gronkowski. New England’s defense really showed out in the Super Bowl last season, holding their opponent to only 3 points. I think that unit will be weaken this season with the departures of DT Malcolm Brown and DE Trey Flowers. New England usually does a good job reloading on defense with players that we’ve may not even heard of yet. They did trade for aging but still effective DT Michael Bennett. The team in this division that made the most movement in the offseason was the New York Jets. The Jets forked over the big bucks in free agency and brought in RB Le’Veon Bell and LB C.J. Mosley. Bell, one of the top RB’s in football, should be fresh after taking 2018 off. He’ll have a great chance at rejuvenating this Jets offense and taking pressure away from the young QB, Sam Darnold. Darnold showed some promise in his rookie season but the lights on him will be brighter this year. I think having an elite option coming out the backfield will help him. The Jets really don’t have a star at WR but Robby Anderson is underrated and Jamison Crowder can be great in the slot. With the addition of Mosley and first round pick DT Quinnen Williams, the Jets front seven could be really good. “Do-Everything” safety, Jamal Adams, also returns as the leader of this defense. Adams is a rare talent in the secondary who can play the run and cover receivers down field. The Buffalo Bills hope this year won’t be a lost season for their rookie QB Josh Allen. Allen showed last year that he has the athletic tools but the Bills will be looking to seeing him improve as a passer. Buffalo’s backfield will be loaded with a gang of veterans. RB’s Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon join LeSean McCoy and I’m not sure how that competition in training camp will play out. Gore, who refuses to retire, will probably win the starting job, which could make McCoy a surprising cut before the regular season. Buffalo’s defense could be something special this season. Despite losing Stephon Gilmore to New England in 2018, they led the league in pass defense. I don’t believe that it is possible for a NFL to “tank”, especially at the start of the season. But many believe that the Miami Dolphins will be that team this year. Miami actually has a good-to-average offense on paper. I think the young receivers on this team that are waiting to breakout and will love playing with an old gun slinger at QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick. But as we all know by now, that will probably last for maybe a month or so. Fitzpatrick will start out the season playing on fire then experience a huge, turnover laced, drop-off right around Week 5. I’m really rooting for QB Josh Rosen to get a chance in this offense since many have unfairly written him off. He’s basically a rookie again after being traded from Arizona and he deserves to start this portion of his career with a clean slate. Miami’s defense lost some key veterans in the offseason. CB Xavien Howard did receive a big contract in the offseason, which was well deserved as he is proving to be one of the top corners in football. Projected Finish: 1) New England, 2) NY Jets, 3) Buffalo, 4) Miami

AFC NORTH

The AFC North led the league in headlines this past offseason. Pittsburgh, who missed the playoffs for the first time in five years, stayed in the drama thanks to a messy divorce with WR Antonio Brown. With Brown now in Oakland, Pittsburgh is thinking that moving the best receiver in football will prove to be an “addition by subtraction” move. And everything on the offensive side of the ball will be smooth as long as QB Ben Roethlisberger can stand. I’m sure that Ben will continue to be great and the running game will be fine as long as the offensive line continues to play well. But I believe that the offense will feel a drop-off of talent without 84. Go ahead and watch the highlights from 2018. It wasn’t like AB was playing like an aging veteran. AB had a strong productive season and it will be hard for the Steelers to replace that. Juju Smith-Schuster is a talented WR but we don’t know if he is ready for the added attention as a #1 receiver. It’s okay to throw in all of your chips on Roethlisberger to save the offense but he is aging too. Father time is undefeated and it’s going to interesting to see him play without his top guy for the last couple years. With all the talk about offense, Pittsburgh’s defense could be something special this season. I think trading up for LB Devin Bush in the draft will prove to be a great move. Pittsburgh will be great up front with DT Cam Heyward and OLB T.J. Watt but the question will continue to be if their secondary will hold them back. The Browns were the offseason champs of this division despite not even winning 8 games in 2018. But the offense showed excitement and promise under QB Baker Mayfield and trading for WR Odell Beckham Jr. could put their offensive talent over the top. The Browns are crazy deep at WR with OBJ joining Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway and Rashard Higgins. The backfield will be loaded with talent as well with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, who will be fresh coming off an suspension. Cleveland is also expected to be strong defensively, led by young guys DE Myles Garrett and CB Denzel Ward. I think the city of Cleveland has reason to be hype about what could potentially happen with all this talent in 2019. But you have to crawl before you can walk. I’m not saying that the Browns hype isn’t real. I’m saying that the franchise hasn’t won more than 8 games in 11 years. Realistically, I don’t think Cleveland is ready to overtake the division but they’ll at least “be there” this year. Baltimore surprised everyone and won the division last season. Unfortunately, I think they’ll take a step backwards this year. The new offense, now catered to QB Lamar Jackson, will be fun to watch. They’ll probably lead the league in rushing this year. I really like the addition of RB Mark Ingram. The elephant in the room with Jackson at QB will be his ability to pass down the field. I’m hoping exciting rookie WR Marquise Brown (AB’s cousin) will help with that. The real reason why Baltimore will struggle this year is that I think the defense won’t be able to make up the lost of LB C.J. Mosley. Mosley was a guy that Baltimore could not afford to get away. The Ravens defense will also look strange in 2019 without LB Terrell Suggs. Baltimore’s saving grace on defense might be there secondary that looks strong with the addition of Earl Thomas at safety. I’m excited to say that the rebuild of the Cincinnati Bengals is finally on. Marvin Lewis, Vontaze Burfict, and Pac-Man Jones are all gone. Unfortunately, the new look Bengals may already be behind the 8-ball with WR A.J. Green injured and first rounder T Jonah Williams out for the season. Without Green, who will be back after the first four games, WR Tyler Boyd will have the opportunity to shine and he’ll have to after the pay raise he just received. Cincinnati will be strong defensively up front with DT Geno Atkins. The Bengals could be a sleeper even with Green missing time. They will be a team that could hold opponents to less than three scores but their offense might struggle to score that same amount. Projected Finish: 1) Steelers, 2) Browns, 3) Ravens, 4) Bengals

AFC SOUTH

I wouldn’t say that the AFC South is boring. But it’s the least interesting division in the AFC. Houston has young and exciting talent but just can’t break through in the playoffs. Jacksonville showed promise a couple years ago before completely falling apart last season. And Tennessee is still waiting for Marcus Mariota to show that he can be a franchise QB. Indianapolis caught momentum late last season only to lose to the top seed in the conference. QB Andrew Luck is still the top dog in the division when it comes to QB play but his health seems to be a question mark every year. Regardless, I think Indy has surrounded him with decent talent at the receiver and running back positions. Indy really started to catch fire last season because of their defense and rookie sensation LB Darius Leonard. In the offseason, they added a pass rushing presence in veteran LB Justin Houston. The Houston Texans should run away with this division if you look at the talent they have on paper. QB Deshaun Watson is a young star in this league and is continuing to improve. WR DeAndre Hopkins catches everything and the backfield should receive a boost with the addition of Duke Johnson; joining veteran Lamar Miller. Houston will continue to have one of the top front sevens on defense led by J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. Houston’s secondary will need to have a bounce back year after finishing 2018 near the bottom of the league in pass defense. Jacksonville will be hoping to have their QB situation fixed this season. I’m not too confident in QB Nick Foles but he enters 2019 with not a lot of pressure. He only has to prove to be better than Blake Bortles. The Jaguars defense looked so strong two years ago. I think what happened to that unit last season will prove to be a fluke. They will be motivated to prove that though the sudden retirement of LB Telvin Smith will not help. That could open the door for rookie LB Josh Allen who looked like the best pass rusher in this past draft. CB Jalen Ramsey returns to a secondary that ranked second in the league in pass defense. Tennessee almost made the playoffs last season but I didn’t see them take a step forward from that in the offseason. Trading for QB Ryan Tannehill will probably not instill confidence for Mariota. The Titans are excited to see more of RB Derrick Henry who broke out last season. They need RB Dion Lewis to rebound from last season, as he was a total bust of a free agent signing. Tennessee will be strong defensively, led by one of the league’s top secondaries. DT Jurrell Casey is one of the best interior linemen and DE Cameron Wake who is coming off a productive career in Miami, will join him this year. Projected Finish: 1) Colts, 2) Texans, 3) Jaguars, 4) Titans

AFC WEST

The AFC West featured the most competitive division in the conference last season and I think we’ll see the same in 2019. Kansas City shot their way to the top of the conference thanks to the performance of QB Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes returns with many of the same weapons from a season ago, WR’s Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and TE Travis Kelce. On defense, they traded away DE Dee Ford but also acquired DE Frank Clark who should serve as a great replacement. Kansas City’s pass defense was among the league’s worst last season. They are hoping that offseason acquisition, safety Tyrann Mathieu, will help them improve in that area. The Chargers will be strong again in 2019, which could be QB Phillip Rivers final season. I get the feeling that Rivers won’t retire until he makes his Super Bowl debut. Rivers will once again have great targets in the passing game to go to in WR’s Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. But most of the talk in the offseason has been about the RB position. I don’t think RB Melvin Gordon’s hold out will last into the season. He will report and I think he needs a wake up call. Gordon is talented but he doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on with only one 1,000 yard season. I really like what the Chargers have on defense. Pass rushers Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa are difference makers up front and safety Derwin James is one of the best in the NFL already in his young career. What’s been holding Denver back for the last few seasons has been the QB position. You can laugh now but I think trading for QB Joe Flacco might prove to be one of the smartest moves made in the offseason. Denver gets a veteran presence behind center and he’s looking to prove that he still has some good football left in him. RB Phillip Lindsay who had a breakout rookie season will assist Flacco. WR Emmanuel Sanders will be plus for this passing offense if he can stay healthy. The Broncos defense will be led once again by pass rushing extraordinaire Von Miller. Denver will be looking for someone in the secondary to step up this season, as they are a missing a few pieces from last year. The Oakland Raiders made the biggest move in the offseason, trading for the best WR in the NFL, Antonio Brown. Despite that exciting acquisition, the Raiders are still not ready to compete in this division. I think having Brown in the lineup will improve the passing game, which is good news for QB Derek Carr. But the Raiders will still have unanswered question with their offensive line and backfield. A lot will be expected from rookie RB Josh Jacobs. On defense, the Raiders still are looking to fill the massive hole left by trading away DE Khalil Mack. They spent their top pick on DE Clelin Ferrell who was on no ones radar at the top of the draft. They also brought in talented but constant knucklehead LB Vontaze Burfict. This Raiders squad will be an interesting mix but I don’t think they’ll play good enough football to escape the AFC West basement. Projected Finish: 1) Chiefs, 2) Chargers, 3) Broncos, 4) Raiders

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NFL 2018: Week 10 Predictions (Condensed)

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Cam Newton brings a hot Carolina team to Pittsburgh to start Week 10.

 

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 8-5

Season: 72-60-2

Week 10 Picks

Panthers over Steelers – I still waiting for the underwhelming Steelers defense to rear its head again. Actually, that unit is starting to play better each week. But still, Carolina is the hot team and Pittsburgh has struggled at home against NFC foes. I at least expect a competitive contest.

Bears over Lions – Chicago is good enough to beat the bad teams. And Detroit is a bad team.

Saints over Bengals – Cincinnati will not have much of a chance at outscoring the New Orleans offense without A.J. Green.

Falcons over Browns – The NFC South is going to be ultra competitive this season again. Atlanta will be in playoff contention if they beat the teams that they are supposed to beat.

Patriots over Titans – Tennessee will look ordinary against a good team like New England.

Colts over Jaguars – Has Jacksonville figured themselves out during the bye week? Who knows?

Chiefs over Cardinals – Kansas City’s offense is a matchup nightmare for any defense right now. But Arizona’s defense is especially bad.

Jets over Bills – No rookie QB’s in this matchup. I think the Jets will play well under Josh McCown as long as he stays away from the mistakes.

Washington over Buccaneers – I like Washington’s defense to limit the big play potential from Tampa’s passing offense.

Chargers over Raiders – I was very impressed with what the Chargers did on the road last week. Oakland is a punch-less football team.

Packers over Dolphins – I expect this one to be real competitive. Green Bay’s defense will keep Miami in it. But Brock Osweiler is not going to out produce Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau.

Rams over Seahawks – Is it possible that Seattle is bad at home and good on the road this year? LA will be eager to bounce back from their first loss last week.

Eagles over Cowboys – Philadelphia isn’t great but Dallas is closer to rock bottom. I’m not counting on the Cowboys to show up on the road even with their backs against the wall.

Giants over 49ers – This is pretty bad for a Monday night game. Giants should win if they let Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley just take turns with the ball on offense.

 

NFL 2018: Week 7 Predictions

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I believe this week’s game in Washington D.C. will say a lot about the leadership of Dallas Head Coach Jason Garrett

 

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 5-10

Season: 42-49-2

Big Five Games of the Week

New England @ Chicago – The Bears had a promising start to this season; sphere headed by the trade for Khalil Mack. While he has improved Chicago’s defense, that same unit completely “no-showed” last week in Miami. That doesn’t bode well for the Bears with New England coming to town. The Patriots offense looked impressive last week outscoring one of the hottest offenses in the league last week. If Chicago doesn’t fix their secondary, Tom Brady will have a field day. Another thing that hurt the Bears last week was the play of QB Mitch Trubisky. Trubisky can be a capable QB in this league but he has been real inconsistent and can make some poor decisions from time to time. He will need to stay away from that against a Patriots defense that isn’t really strong. Winner: Patriots

Carolina @ Philadelphia – Both of these teams have been inconsistent this season. Carolina’s lack of a pass rush on defense is starting to rear its head. If they can’t pressure Wentz on Sunday, the Eagles will have opportunities for some big plays down the field. Carolina is also lacking explosiveness and they’ll be facing a usually tough Eagles defense. I don’t trust any NFC East team right now but for this matchup, I’ll side with the better defense. Winner: Eagles

New Orleans @ Baltimore – The Ravens have taken their fans on quite a ride so far this season. Off the high of beating Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, you lose in Cleveland and then you shut out Tennessee the week after. Will the real Baltimore Ravens please stand up? Baltimore’s defense has been impressive this season but they’ll face a great test in the Saints this week. New Orleans will be able to attack Baltimore through the air and on the ground. Baltimore’s offense may be able to find success on Sunday as well as New Orleans’ defense seems to have taken a step back this season. The Saints have had their moments this year where they haven’t looked like the contender that everyone thinks that they are. Baltimore can be a tough team at home but I’m also worried about their inconsistency. Winner: Saints

Dallas @ Washington – Again, I don’t trust any team in the NFC East. Except for the Giants. I can at least trust them to lose. I want to say that Washington has improved this season but that is still up in the air. Their biggest problem last season was their run defense and this season, you can see their young additions to the defensive line improve that unit. But Washington is still lacking in the middle at LB and in the secondary. QB Alex Smith has looked serviceable this season but he can have games that are completely underwhelming. Washington’s run game has received an unexpected boost from veteran RB Adrian Peterson but can we expect that to last for an entire season? The Cowboys have been frustrating to watch this season for the most part because of their offense. Their blowout victory over Jacksonville last week says more about the state of the Jaguars than the Cowboys finally figuring things out. I don’t trust the passing game at all and I don’t trust the play calling to maximize what they have a RB in Ezekiel Elliott. Dallas has improved this year defensively but they still suffer from a lack of big plays in the secondary (Turnovers). Dallas has not won on the road at all this season while Washington is sporting a 2-1 record at home. I think this game on Sunday is all on Dallas Head Coach Jason Garrett. The win over Jacksonville last week has not cooled all of his critics. Under Garrett, the Cowboys have had seasons where they have been tough on the road. I think Coach Garrett has to really get into his teams head going into this game and will his players into gutting out a huge victory. Again, I don’t trust many things about this Cowboys team but with the bye week coming up and first place in the division on the line, I think Dallas will really want this one more. Winner: Cowboys

Cincinnati @ Kansas City – I think Kansas City should be able to completely torch the Bengals defense in this matchup. The Chiefs have their own issues defensively but Andy Dalton is not Tom Brady. Arrowhead Stadium will prove once again to be a tough venue for the road team in this prime time game. Winner: Chiefs

The Rest of Week 7

Broncos over Cardinals – Von Miller said this week that his team was going to “kick Arizona’s ass”. I believe him. Plus, I love the ads that he does with Old Spice.

Chargers over Titans – The Chargers showed a pulse last week. Tennessee did not. Did I mention that I hate this game being played in London?

Colts over Bills – Indy’s will not face the Peter man but they can’t lose to a QB who has been tasked with learning the playbook in less than 10 days.

Dolphins over Lions – Bring on Brockober!

Vikings over Jets – I’m not too confident on this one. Minnesota’s defense will try to hand this game to the Jets.

Buccaneers over Browns – Are the Browns back to being the Browns? I think Tampa’s offense is ready to resemble to the unit they had earlier this season.

Jaguars over Texans – Jacksonville is in a rut but Houston is really bad.

Rams over 49ers – I admire San Francisco’s fight but the Rams should crush them.

Falcons over Giants – Atlanta does not want to be in the NFC South basement this year. They better knock off the teams they should beat like the one they will face on Monday night.

Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) – Cincinnati gives up a lot in the passing game. Mahomes should be able to take full advantage.

RB: Frank Gore/Keenan Drake (Dolphins) – Detroit is not stout against the run this year.

WR: DeAndre Hopkins (Texans) – Hopkins has been the only saving grace for the Texans this season.

TE: Eric Ebron (Colts) – Ebron has caught a touchdown every week this year.

DEF: Denver – The Broncos will face the worst offense in the league on Thursday in Arizona.

NFL 2018: Week 6 Predictions (Condensed)

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The Bengals look to solidify their top spot in the AFC North this weekend.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 8-7

Season: 37-39-2

Week 6 Picks

Eagles over Giants – Philadelphia is not in a good place right now. But I think they’ll be able to lean on their defense tonight against Eli Manning.

Buccaneers over Falcons – Atlanta is trending downwards. I think Tampa can come out the gates from the bye playing with their hair on fire.

Bengals over Steelers – I was impressed with Cincinnati coming back from down three scores in the second half last week. Pittsburgh usually owns Cincinnati in their own stadium for whatever reason and they are coming off their best win of the season. I just think Cincy is playing well enough right now to beat a Steelers team that can give up points when pressed.

Browns over Chargers – The Browns are competitive every week. The Chargers usually figure out ways to lose in those type of games.

Seahawks over Raiders – I like the way the Seahawks competed last week despite the circumstances. This Raiders team has no fight.

Bears over Dolphins – After blowing that big lead last week in Cincy, things will get worst before they get better for Miami.

Vikings over Cardinals – Minnesota can get out of their rut against a bad Arizona squad.

Colts over Jets – The Jets are unpredictable. I guess they’ll no show this week.

Panthers over Washington – The wheels may have feel off Washington last week. That comes at a terrible time as Carolina is playing well.

Bills over Texans – Houston isn’t very good. I could see Buffalo putting out a great effort on the road and taking advantage of Houston’s defense.

Rams over Broncos – Denver had some serious defensive issues last week. They better figure it out soon because the LA Rams may have the best offensive attack in the league.

Jaguars over Cowboys – Dallas has good chance at getting shut out this week.

Titans over Ravens – Crazy couple of weeks for Baltimore coming off the high of beating Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh then following that up with losing at Cleveland. Tennessee lost last week due to a dropped pass. I think they’ll bounce back this week at home.

Chiefs over Patriots – Kansas City has a good history against New England in the regular season.

Packers over 49ers – Its too bad that the NFL scheduled San Francisco in all these prime games because of Jimmy Garoppolo.

NFL 2018: Week 5 Predictions (Condensed)

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Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes is the talk of the league. On Sunday, he’ll face a tough Jacksonville defense.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 7-8

Season: 29-32-2

Week 5 Predictions

Patriots over Colts – New England is going to start playing good football again after another shaky start to the season. The return of Julian Edelman may help as well.

Titans over Bills – I was impressed with Marcus Mariota last week. Tennessee is stringing together victories with little fan fare surrounding them.

Bengals over Dolphins – I was just beginning to warm up to Miami but then they completely crapped themselves last week in New England. Cincy may be able to jump on them early if they take away from the turnovers.

Ravens over Browns – Cleveland was robbed last week. It’s a real shame too because Baltimore is playing well right now.

Packers over Lions – Not too confident in Green Bay but Detroit did lose at Dallas last week.

Jaguars over Chiefs – I think the Jaguars defense at the least will slow down Kansas City’s offensive attack. Also, the Chiefs have major issues on defense.

Broncos over Jets – The Jets looked so good in Week 1. Everything since then has been a disaster.

Steelers over Falcons – Two bad defenses here. Start Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger in fantasy this week. As for the game, it’s going to be a toss up. Atlanta has too many injuries in their secondary currently.

Panthers over Giants – New York is working each week to get better. That’s the nicest thing I can say about them right now. Carolina should be fresh coming off the bye.

Chargers over Raiders – Jon Gruden should be winless in 2018.

Eagles over Vikings – What happened to Minnesota’s defense? Carson Wentz should have a field day at home Sunday.

49ers over Cardinals – I like the way San Francisco fought last week. I think they’ll be able to carry over to this Sunday at home.

Rams over Seahawks – The LA offensive attack will not show mercy against the Earl Thomas-less Seattle secondary.

Texans over Cowboys – Dallas can not win on odd weeks against mobile QB’s. Yeah. That’s what I’m going with. Look it up.

Saints over Washington – To be honest, I like Washington here in a sneaky upset. I just don’t trust the Saints defense and Washington’s defense is underrated. It should be a close one. I’ll bet on the home team.

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.

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