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NFL 2018: Week 14 Predictions

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The Houston Texans haven’t looked back since starting the season 0-3.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 10-6

Season: 109-81-2

Big Five Games of the Week

Baltimore @ Kansas City – Rookie QB Lamar Jackson hasn’t lost since being inserted into the starting lineup for an injured Joe Flacco. But really, Baltimore’s current success is due to the play of their defense. That defense will be tested in a huge way Sunday in Kansas City. Even with the absence of RB Kareem Hunt, I still expect this Chiefs offense to not miss a beat. KC doesn’t really have a dominating defense and Baltimore has been able to hold their own against quality opponents this season. So, I think this could be a surprisingly contested game. But a road win in Kansas City maybe to tall of a task for this rookie QB. Winner: Chiefs

Indianapolis @ Houston – I didn’t expect the Colts to get shutout like they did last week. But that was not a great showing from them with another divisional showdown on the road looming. Houston hasn’t lost since starting the season 0-3. I don’t think they’ll win out going into the post season but it is starting to look that way. I could be wrong but I think QB Andrew Luck has a good track record against Houston. Either way, it doesn’t look like Indy is ready to upend the streaking Texans. Winner: Texans

Philadelphia @ Dallas – This will be a big test for Dallas in terms of not being tied to the “moment”. The Cowboys shocked everyone last week with a home victory over a quality opponent but they have to move on. This Sunday, a new challenge will present themselves in the form of the desperate Philadelphia Eagles. A good thing going forward from last week for Dallas is that the team must be feeling really encouraged about the defensive side of the ball. But Dallas should know that let downs can happen and they can’t afford to be victims to that in the middle of the playoff race. Philadelphia has won two straight against NFC East opponents despite not playing well recently. The Eagles are just not healthy enough to make a late push this season for the playoffs. I think they’ll play Dallas tough though. These games are usually “drag ‘em out” fights until the end. But if Dallas can play like they know they can defensively, I think they’ll roll at home. Winner: Cowboys

LA Rams @ Chicago – The Bears have struggled without QB Mitch Trubisky but luckily their entire division is on the struggle bus as well. They’ll get Trubisky back in time for Sunday night, as Chicago will host the current top seed in the NFC. The strength vs. strength matchup in this game is an intriguing one. On one hand, the Rams are able to score at will with all their weapons. But on the other Chicago’s defense is pretty stout, led by LB Khalil Mack. This game could turn on the defender playing for the visiting team. DT Aaron Donald is the league’s leader in sacks and is on pace for a second straight defensive player of the year award. Chicago will welcome the return of their starting QB but he will not be so please to see 99 lining up across from him. Winner: Rams

Minnesota @ Seattle – The secret is out on Seattle. They were supposed to fall off this year but they look like they could be the team that no one wants to play in the post season. Minnesota, despite their early struggles, could still make the post season. They are currently in a rough stretch in their schedule but they getting healthy at the right time. That being said, I don’t see them being able to produce big plays offensively on the road against this Seahawks defense. QB Russell Wilson has shown plenty of big play ability this season and I think we’ll see that again Monday against a struggling Vikings secondary. Winner: Seahawks

The Rest of Week 14

Titans over Jaguars – Tennessee is still in the playoff race and they always seem to just have Jacksonville’s number.

Bills over Jets – Buffalo is a safe bet at home in December.

Browns over Panthers – Carolina has issues. Cleveland can attack their secondary through the air on offense and their pass rush should be able to rattle a Cam Newton who may not be at 100%.

Falcons over Packers – Green Bay is usually good at home but they lost their last week against Arizona. Atlanta is holding on to slim playoff hopes.

Patriots over Dolphins – Miami can be tough at home especially with Ryan Tannehill back in the lineup. This one could be close.

Saints over Buccaneers – New Orleans will be anxious to bounce back after last week’s nightmare.

Giants over Washington – Washington is one game out of first place but they refuse to better their situation at QB. They would rather lose than try to put a better player at the QB position. What kind of message does that send to the locker room? I hope New York wins by a million. Dan Synder and Jay Gruden are gutless, cowards.

Chargers over Bengals – Things are looking up in LA. The playoffs look likely as they were able to get a huge road victory last week without Melvin Gordon.

Broncos over 49ers – Denver is going to have to get it done through the run game because of the injuries at the WR position.

Steelers over Raiders – I know everyone is talking about Pittsburgh’s recent history in Oakland and the James Connor injury. It doesn’t matter. Oakland stinks.

Lions over Cardinals – Who’s going to watch this game? Just a brutal matchup. Worthy of Thursday Night Football.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Phillip Rivers (Chargers) – After a big victory last week, Rivers faces the second worst secondary in the league at home.

RB: Christian McCaffery (Panthers) – Carolina is struggling but the little RB out of Stanford has been their saving grace recently.

WR: Michael Thomas (Saints) – Thomas didn’t do much last week in Dallas. He’ll bounce back against Tampa’s secondary.

TE: Jared Cook (Raiders) – Cook is quietly having a nice season in Oakland.

DEF: New York Giants – Mark Sanchez is starting in a NFL game on Sunday. Hahahahahahhaahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhaahaha.

 

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NFL 2018: Week 11 Predictions

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Chicago Bears

Chicago could get a leg up on the NFC North at home Sunday against the Vikings.

 

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 9-5

Season: 81-65-2

Big Five Games of the Week

Dallas @ Atlanta – This could be an elimination game for both these teams. Dallas and Atlanta have been inconsistent this season but for different reasons. Realistically, Dallas is right where they should be. They have a defense that will keep them in most games but an offense that has gotten better since acquiring WR Amari Cooper but is still not explosive enough. Atlanta has suffered through some injuries on both sides of the ball but they still offer a talented roster on paper. But they have the tendency to under perform or to completely no-show like they did last week in Cleveland. I think Atlanta’s problems lie within the coaching staff, which is clearly not getting the most out of this roster. I guess, you could say the same for Dallas but they nearly have the same talent on offense. I think both teams understand the situation on Sunday and that will make for a competitive game. Dallas will play tough on the road but I think Atlanta’s offense will overwhelm at some point in the second half. Winner: Falcons

Houston @ Washington – I’m a believer in Washington’s defense. I also believe that this Houston team, though coming off a bye, is capable of laying an egg offensively. But then again, I don’t really trust Washington’s offense outside of RB Adrian Peterson. I just think Washington’s defense will be able to make a bigger impact on the game than Houston’s. If Alex Smith can make fewer mistakes than DeShaun Watson, I think he’ll be able to ride that defense and running game in a low scoring contest. Winner: Washington

Philadelphia @ New Orleans – The Super Bowl hangover in Philadelphia is real. New Orleans’ status as a contender in the NFC since their opening season loss is real. The Eagles are facing a tough road if they want to have a chance to win the division and a loss here could pretty much crush those dreams. The Saints are on a roll right now with no signs of slowing. Though, they have played in some tough games at home this season. I doubt that Philly will knock them off. Winner: Saints

Minnesota @ Chicago – I think the NFC North will come down to these two teams. Chicago has shown flashes of a team that could be a contender but I think they are still a few years away. QB Mitch Trubisky has had some impressive outings but he still occasionally makes mistakes that could be fixed as time goes on. I could see him struggle against a strong defense but I’m not sure if Minnesota has that anymore. Minnesota lost their defense from last season somehow which has led them to under perform at times. I feel good about Minnesota’s offense though with Dalvin Cook back from injury. I think the Vikings should lean on their run game in order to keep Khalil Mack from dominating in the backfield. I also like Minnesota’s advantage they have in the passing game with the weapons Kirk Cousins has at wide out. Chicago will play inspired at home but I believe Minnesota has the better team. These teams do meet again in Week 17. Winner: Vikings

Kansas City @ LA Rams – This will be a fun one to watch. The Rams and the Chiefs will provide plenty of offensive fireworks. The winner may come down to which defense can produce the most stops. LA is pretty strong up front defensively with what they have in Aaron Donald and the addition of Dante Fowler has paid off immediately. But their secondary has struggled recently. I expect Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense to take full advantage. Kansas City’s defense gives up a lot of yards as well. But I’ll bet on Mahomes to out gun sling Jared Goff especially with Goff playing with a short handed receiving core. We also can’t write off Todd Gurley and Kareem Hunt’s impact in this game. Again, this one will just be a fun game to watch. Winner: Chiefs

The Rest of Week 11

Seahawks over Packers – Both teams are extremely average. Seattle is usually a strong team at home. Something strange usually happens when these two teams play.

Panthers over Lions – Carolina will be eager to rebound after getting punched in the mouth last week.

Titans over Colts – Tennessee looks like they are preparing for a run at the AFC South crown.

Buccaneers over Giants – The Giants are hard to watch on offense. Especially with all the weapons they have. It’s obvious that the QB is holding them back.

Steelers over Jaguars – It’s a shame what is happening in Jacksonville. They have fallen completely off the rails. Barring a letdown, Pittsburgh should absolutely smack them.

Ravens over Bengals – Baltimore’s QB situation could be an interesting thing to watch in this one. I know the Ravens will be able to lean on their defense against a Cincinnati offense that is struggling.

Cardinals over Raiders – Oakland looks worse and worse each week.

Chargers over Broncos – LA may have two teams in the post season this year.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) – Mahomes has played big in prime time games this season.

RB: Melvin Gordon (Chargers) – Gordon has been a consistent scorer near the goal line for LA.

WR: Michael Thomas (Saints) – The Eagles secondary caught the injury bug at the worst possible time.

TE: Greg Olsen (Panthers) – Back from injury, Olsen is once again Cam Newton’s security blanket in the passing game.

DEF: Baltimore – With no A.J. Green and a banged up offensive line, Baltimore’s pass rushers will be able to pin their ears back and get after Andy Dalton on Sunday.

NFL 2018: Week 8 Predictions

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Justin Tucker and the Ravens will need to rebound quickly from a terrible loss last week in Carolina

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 10-4

Season: 52-53-2

Big Five Games of the Week

Philadelphia @ Jacksonville – Both of these teams are in a rut and are desperately in need for a win. Jacksonville’s issues on the offensive side of the ball have spread to a defense that is suddenly having issues with getting stops. The way the Eagles’ collapsed last week was a bad look but I believe they are still capable at producing more offensively, at least more than the Jaguars can currently. Philadelphia is banged up on defense so, I wonder if that will create a window for the Jacksonville offense to wake up. The Jaguars may stand if a chance if they can re-establish the run with T.J Yeldon and the newly acquired Carlos Hyde. I think Philadelphia can still prove to be tough defensively despite their injuries and Carson Wentz will be able to produce enough offense to win. Winner: Eagles

Tampa Bay @ Cincinnati – Tampa barely beat Cleveland at home last week and they lost both of their starting LB’s to injuries. Cincinnati has looked bad in the last two week but they’ll have a good chance at bouncing back if they can jump on a weakened opponent. I think Cincinnati’s missing pass rush will show up against Tampa’s offensive line, causing Jameis Winston to make some costly mistakes. Winner: Bengals

Baltimore @ Carolina – Baltimore played well enough to win at home last week but lost on a freak accident. The Ravens are an improved team this season overall but they have had some troubles on the road. They’ll face a tough opponent on Sunday in Carolina. The Panthers showed a lot of heart in their comeback victory on the road last week. I think Cam Newton and his offensive line will face a great challenge in the Ravens defense. Baltimore is much better this season offensively in the passing game. They have receivers that can make plays down field and Carolina’s secondary tends to struggle. I think this is a favorable matchup for Baltimore but I’m not sure if I trust them on the road. I’m also not sure if Carolina is able to pull what they did last week either. I guess, I’ll go with the home team. Winner: Panthers

Green Bay @ LA Rams – The Rams are an offensive machine and the Packers don’t have the defense to slow them down. Aaron Rodgers is capable of keeping up with what the Rams can do on the scoreboard but is his offensive line capable of keeping him away from Aaron Donald? Winner: Rams

New Orleans @ Minnesota – This is a big game for both teams but more so for the Saints. Minnesota has gotten the best of New Orleans in their last two meetings and I would imagine that doesn’t sit well with Drew Brees and his teammates. Good news for them is that Minnesota’s defense has taken a big step backwards since their last meeting. I expect the Saints will be able to take full advantage. New Orleans has their own troubles on the defensive side of the football. But even if Kirk Cousins is able to attack that defense, I think I’ll take Brees in that potential shootout. Winner: Saints

The Rest of Week 8

Texans over Dolphins – Houston is on a winning streak in the suddenly wide-open AFC South. Miami is a banged up team right now.

Bears over Jets – Chicago should easily win if Mitch Trubisky stays away from mistakes.

Lions over Seahawks – Coming off the bye week, I still expect Seattle to be weak on the road.

Chiefs over Broncos – Denver ended their losing streak last week and I remember that they play Kansas City tough in their first meeting this season. But It’s tough to pick against KC right now, especially at home.

Washington over Giants – Yeah, I’m not buying into Washington at all but the Giants have clearly given up on the season.

Steelers over Browns – I think Cleveland will play Pittsburgh tough again, much like their meeting in Week 1. The difference will James Conner’s tough running and Ben Roethlisberger making less mistakes.

Colts over Raiders – I think what has happened to the Raiders this season is sad. But then I remember how the organization is killing their brand soon by leaving Oakland in the first place so then I don’t care.

49ers over Cardinals – I don’t think Arizona is that bad on paper but the effort just isn’t there. I think they are better than San Francisco but the 49ers have shown more fight this season.

Patriots over Bills – Buffalo has been apart of some strange games on Monday night in recent history but taking Derek Anderson over Tom Brady would be a hard sell.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Andy Dalton (Bengals) – Tampa has the worst secondary in the league so why can’t Dalton have big game at home to end the Bengals losing streak at two?

RB: Kareem Hunt (Chiefs) – Denver has struggled against the run mightily this season.

WR: Adam Thielen (Vikings) – Thielen has been a delight to watch this season. He is currently your league leader in receiving yards.

TE: George Kittle (49ers) – Kittle has been the lone consistent target in the passing game for the 49ers.

DEF: Houston – I like the Texans against Brock Osweiler tonight. Miami is down a couple of their better pass catchers.

 

NFL 2018: Week 4 Predictions

USP NFL: PITTSBURGH STEELERS AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEE S FBN TB PIT USA FL

Everything’s all good in Steel Town now that they’ve got their first victory of 2018, right?

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 6-10

Season: 22-24-2

Big Five Games of the Week

Minnesota @ LA Rams – The Vikings absolutely laid an egg at home last week against a terrible Buffalo team. But I believe they can bounce back this week even on the road against a good LA Rams team. The Rams have significant injuries in their secondary and I believe this will give Kirk Cousins full range in terms of attack them through the air. LA’s offense is pretty capable as well but I just think Minnesota will be anxious to get the bad taste from Week 3 out of their system. Winner: Vikings

Miami @ New England – New England had their annual early season “are they done” loss last week. The Patriots will obviously bounce back. But not enough people are talking about this undefeated Miami Dolphins team. They are proving that addition by subtraction can work out if you look at the changes that they’ve made in the offseason, which are now paying off. New England’s defense is struggling right now and I believe that Miami’s offense is capable of attack them through the ground and in the air. Instead of bouncing back at home, I think New England will lose their second straight. Winner: Dolphins

New Orleans @ NY Giants – The Giants finally got a win last week but I think that may have said more about Houston than about them. New Orleans has been apart of a close finish in each game this week. This tells me that their defense needs fixed. I think the Giants will be able to put up points against this team but I don’t think that will be enough for them to win. If they are able to go “tit-for-tat” offensively, I’ll still bet on the Saints to win another close one. Winner: Saints

Baltimore @ Pittsburgh – The Steelers finally won last week so everything’s all-good in Yinzer land. Right? Hardly. Pittsburgh’s defense is poor and they almost blew a 20-point lead last week in the second half. I think Baltimore coming to town will be a good thing for them because they should know what to expect. These games are usually a tough-drag ‘em out type of contest. Everyone knows about Pittsburgh’s struggles on defense but I don’t think the Ravens offense is good enough to exploit it. I am looking at you, Joe Flacco. I wonder if the Baltimore defense will be able to make enough stops against a Pittsburgh offense that has so many ways to beat you. The road team typically has the tougher up hill climb in these matchups. Winner: Steelers

Kansas City @ Denver – Patrick Mahomes is the talk of the NFL right now and the lights will be extra bright on him and the Chiefs offense on Monday night. I’m looking forward to see how this kid deals with being chased by Von Miller for 4 quarters. Going into the 2018 season, I believed that Kansas City would take a step back this year because of their defense. The good news is that I don’t see Denver’s offense being able to push the issue against them especially since Case Keenum will be tasked with out dueling the hottest QB in the league currently. Playing at Mile-High can prove to be a challenge but I believe Mahomes and the gang will be up for it. Winner: Chiefs

The Rest of Week 4

Falcons over Bengals – Rookie WR Calvin Ridley is starting to become an x-factor for the Atlanta offense.

Bears over Buccaneers – Ryan Fitzpatrick will continue to fall back down to earth against a Chicago defense that will get after him. Winston will be the starter when Tampa returns from the bye week in Week 6.

Lions over Cowboys – I’m buying into Detroit’s performance last week but Dallas is a team that cannot score points. Last time I checked, you have to score points to win.

Packers over Bills – Green Bay is not a good team. Buffalo and especially rookie QB Josh Allen would definitely have my attention if they were able to win in Green Bay.

Eagles over Titans – I like Philly here in a low scoring affair. Tennessee is close to being down two quarterbacks. I think Carson Wentz will continue to feel more comfortable back in the lineup.

Colts over Texans – The talk in Texas maybe about the Cowboys’ struggles but what in the world is going on in Houston? Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt, Clowney, Hopkins, Lamar Miller. They are all healthy. Yet, Houston is winless. The hot seat will be on coach Bill O’Brien real soon if they go to 0-4.

Jaguars over Jets – Jacksonville is a good team that just can’t beat Tennessee. It makes no sense but it’s true.

Browns over Raiders – I like Bayer Mayfield to keep Jon Gruden’s Raiders winless in a road upset.

Seahawks over Cardinals – Arizona made the right decision benching Sam Bradford for the rookie Josh Rosen. But this Cardinals team doesn’t look like they are in shape to compete this year.

Chargers over 49ers – The Jimmy Garoppolo injury has taken the air out of the entire season for San Francisco.

Fantasy Picks of the Week

QB: Phillip Rivers (Chargers) – Rivers should have plenty of opportunities against the 49ers that might have trouble scoring points themselves.

RB: Kenyan Drake (Dolphins) – Many are waiting on a breakout out game from Drake. It could come this week in New England.

WR: Odell Beckham Jr. (Giants) – The New Orleans secondary is back to being bad. That should be good news for New York’s top receiving target.

TE: Travis Kelce (Chiefs) – Kelce is pretty reliable is playing with house money with how well the Chiefs offense is operating.

DEF: Jacksonville – I like the Jaguars defense to limit rookie QB Sam Darnold this week.

 

 

 

 

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: NFC Season Preview

NFC EAST

Will the Eagles suffer a Super Bowl hangover? Probably. The health of QB Carson Wentz will be a concern. The guy played at a MVP level last season before his major leg injury. I think he can return and be the same player but circumstances have changed from last season. The Eagles lost pieces at the RB and WR position in the offseason. I think Philly still could win this division because their defense will once again be really good. But then again, it’s a tough road to become back-to-back champions in this division. The Cowboys did not help QB Dak Prescott in this offseason. They unceremoniously cut WR Dez Bryant and TE Jason Witten, who wasn’t a difference maker any more anyways, suddenly retired. Dak Prescott and the passing game in Dallas as a whole struggled last season and you can’t just blame that on one player. You can blame it on the awful play calling but also this: Prescott just has to play better. I think he can have a bounce back season but who knows. He’s going to have to prove it. But the bottom line is that this offense is reliant on RB Ezekiel Elliott and the running game. The Cowboys do not have a reliable big play target in the passing game and that is going to hurt them. On the bright side, for the first time in a while, there is real optimism surrounding this defense. They brought back DE Demarcus Lawrence on the franchise tag and he was a terror on the edge last season. Also, things are looking up in the secondary with the young corners they have. Dallas is one “Earl Thomas trade” away from maybe having an elite defense. I think the Giants made a mistake placing their faith into QB Eli Manning again this offseason. QB’s don’t grow on tree and Manning has the look of someone who is done in the league. But the draft pick of RB Saquon Barkley has many optimistic in New York. The Giants made an effort to improve their offensive line and they return a talented receiver core led by recently contract extended Odell Beckham Jr. New York will have concerns on defense. They traded away Jason Pierre-Paul and replaced him with no one. I like the trade for ILB Alec Ogletree though. Washington chose trading for Alex Smith over re-signing Kirk Cousins. That is such a Dan Synder move. So, vanilla. I mean, Alex Smith can be go but he isn’t nearly as dynamic as Cousins. At least, when it counts. Washington has many issues before the season has even started. Injuries at RB mean they may have to lean on an aging RB Adrian Peterson. The WR group is really average. TE Jordan Reed is really good but he can’t stay healthy. Washington desperately needs to improve their defense, which they have tried through the draft. They have plenty of young talent on that side of the ball but they need to start paying dividends sooner than later. Projected Finish (Playoff Team in BOLD): 1) Eagles, 2) Cowboys, 3) Giants, 4) Washington

NFC NORTH

Minnesota is great shape in 2018 because once again, they will be strong defensively. The Vikings were the big winners in the offseason, signing the top QB available in Kirk Cousins. If history can serve as a reminder, signing that the big name free agent QB can back fire or not exactly work out as planned. I don’t expect Minnesota being able to plug in Cousins and have a real dynamic passing attack. But Cousins doesn’t have the bar set high for him. He was really has to run the offense and not make mistakes. Minnesota has talented receivers but they are really more suited to run the ball. So, needless to say, I’m excited about RB Dalvin Cook who had his season cut short last year due to injury. Again, Minnesota should be pretty tough on defense. They are solid across the board on the defensive line, at linebacker and in the secondary. Green Bay’s success will once again be tied to the health of QB Aaron Rogers. Green Bay is not a good football team on paper but Rodgers just seems to lift this team out of mediocrity time and time again. The Packers don’t have consistency at RB or at the WR position. TE Jimmy Graham might prove to be a huge addition though. Green Bay’s front seven on defense looks old and not nearly as good as they once were. There is hope in the secondary though. 2018 draft picks, CB’s Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson, have looked really good in preseason. Detroit was mighty neutral in the offseason. They really didn’t do much to improve. This tells me that new head coach Matt Patricia is in the process of starting a massive rebuild. And that kinda stinks for QB Matt Stafford because he’s really good but his team is in no shape to compete. I think RB LeGarrette Blount will provide some stability at that position if he stays healthy. Two extremely under rated guys in Golden Tate and the emerging Kenny Golladay leads the Lions at WR. Detroit actually has a decent defense but they aren’t good enough to close out games. I feel like Stafford usually has to blame this team out a lot, much like Rodgers in Green Bay. I think the Bears could be on the verge of turning their franchise around but a lot is going to depend on QB Mitch Trubisky. He is going to have to show some sizable improves in his second year. The Bears have great talent at the skill positions on offense. RB’s Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen should form a great duo in the backfield. Chicago made efforts to improve the WR position in the offseason with the additions of Allen Robinson and rookie Anthony Miller. It will be even greater if WR Kevin White can finally stay healthy. The Bears might be held back by their defense in 2018 as they are still a work in progress. Projected Finish (Playoff Team in BOLD): 1) Vikings, 2) Packers, 3) Lions, 4) Bears

NFC SOUTH

The New Orleans Saints are legit Super Bowl contenders in my eyes. It’s amazing how fast they were able to turn around their defense. Now, it looks like they may be able to give QB Drew Brees a farewell swan song that he deserves. He will once again lead an explosive offense. RB Alvin Kamara is special player from out the backfield and WR Michael Thomas is one of the better receivers in the league that no one talks about. I also like how the Saints did not rest on their laurels during the draft and traded up to grab one of the best pass rushers. From top to bottom, the Atlanta Falcons probably have one of the best rosters in the entire league. It was true last season and it may be true again in 2018. That tells me their coaching stinks or the players are really lacking in the area of execution. Let me just run of some names from the top of my head: Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Devonta Freeman, and Tevin Coleman. That’s a solid group of talent to have on offense. Atlanta’s defense has plenty of talent as well especially at the LB position with Deion Jones and Vic Beasley. I’m afraid that Carolina’s window is slowly closing. Since the Super Bowl lose, they have refused to improve their offensive line and I think that will bite them again this season. Cam Newton can’t be Cam Newton if he is running for his life or worse, injured. I never was a believer in RB Christian McCaffrey as an every down back but he has looked the part early during this pre-season. Carolina is also missing a big play WR. Maybe WR Devin Funchess can be that guy or maybe newcomer D.J. Moore. Carolina’s defensive front seven will be solid this season as look as they stay healthy. Their secondary remains to be a weak spot. Tampa Bay is in a tough spot thanks to the Jameis Winston suspension. He is going to have to come back and perform at a high level if he hopes to stay in the team’s future. The Bucs have a lot of unproven talent at the RB position this year but that could prove to be a good thing. WR Mike Evans is one thing Tampa can count on offensively. Tampa has a chance to be really good up front on defense with the addition of DE Jason Pierre-Paul. They made an effort to improve their defensive line in the offseason and they may see that pay off sooner than later. Tampa also has a good group at LB. Their secondary needs work as they lack playmakers at corner. Projected Finish (Playoff Team in BOLD): 1) Saints, 2) Falcons, 3) Panthers, 4) Buccaneers

NFC WEST

The LA Rams were the offseason champs of 2018. That’s usually bad news but the NFC West isn’t as tough as it use to be. In recent history, this division was led by tough defenses in Seattle and San Francisco. Now, it looks like Los Angeles has turned into a haven for defensive talent. The defensive line was already good with Aaron Donald but they went ahead and added Ndamukong Suh. The Rams will also added a pair of playmakers in the secondary in Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. The Rams were let down in the playoffs by their offense so I think the pressure will be on that side of the ball to continue to get better. RB Todd Gurley will continue to be the tone setter for the offense. QB Jared Goff had a decent second season in 2017. He must show that he can continue to improve. The Rams bring with them in 2018 a talented collection of receivers led by Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp. Arizona is starting anew at head coach in 2018. They started the offseason with a clean slate at QB and they decided to go with the often-injured Sam Bradford. That decision may come back to bite them though they were able to draft Josh Rosen who may be the QB for the future. Whoever is at QB, they will be able to lean on RB David Johnson. Arizona is lacking a young playmaker at WR though Larry Fitzgerald is still capable at his age. On defense, the Cardinals will be tough to deal with up front. DE Chandler Jones led the league in sacks a season ago. Arizona has a good group at LB and the secondary could be better this year despite losing safety Tyrann Mathieu. There’s a lot of hype surrounding San Francisco this year but I don’t think they are ready to return to the playoffs. QB Jimmy Garoppolo has created most of that optimism around the franchise but they still need to add more pieces around him if they hope to be successful with him. I’m not sold on Jerick McKinnon as a led back in this offense and they are also in the market for a big play wide receiver. I like the collection of young talent they have in their defensive front seven. CB Richard Sherman is going to learn this season how hard life is without playing with the Legion of Boom. Thinking of the Legion of Boom, Seattle might stink this season. It might get so bad that coach Pete Carroll might be a guy who could be looking for an escape by the end of the season. QB Russell Wilson will be carrying this offense again with a lack of a running game and protection from his offensive line. The Seahawks will look mighty thin at receiver this season outside of Doug Baldwin and Brandon Marshall. The biggest difference for Seattle this season will be on defense, as they will look entirely different. Meaning, that they won’t be really good. Projected Finish (Playoff Team in BOLD): 1) Rams, 2) Cardinals, 3) 49ers, 4) Seahawks

NFL Playoffs: 2018 Wild-Card Weekend Predictions!

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

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 9-7

2017 Regular Season: 151-103

NFL Playoffs: Wild-Card Weekend

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

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

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

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