Tag Archives: Aaron Donald

NFL 2019: Week 15 Predictions

5e5cba10-1aa6-11ea-97ff-778487f06807

Who wants to win the AFC South? Ryan Tannehill and the Titans face Houston twice in the final three weeks of the season.

 

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 11-5

Season: 125-82-1

Top Five Games of the Week

Chicago @ Green Bay – Don’t fall into the hype that was the Bears offense last week. They were playing against a defense with no teeth. I mean, lets give Mitch Trubisky some credit but c’mon. They made him look like Steve Young out there. Anyways, I’m going to have to assume that the Packers defense will be a stiffer test for Chicago on the road. Green Bay showed last week against Washington that they can win even when they don’t play their best football. Chicago is still holding on to slim playoff hopes while Green Bay is comfortably in the first place in the NFC North. I think the Bears will calmly fall back down to earth this week. Prediction: Packers over Bears

Houston @ Tennessee – The Texans were shocked at home last week by Denver. They mounted a small comeback attempt but Denver lit up the scoreboard early and Houston was unable to recover. They cannot afford a slow start like that this week against a divisional opponent. Tennessee has been the story of the second half of the season that no one is talking about. QB Ryan Tannehill has brought this passing offense back to life and RB Derrick Henry is continuing to provide stability in the run game. Houston’s defense has struggled mightily recently and they cannot under estimate what the Titans will bring to the table on Sunday. As well as Tennessee has been playing, I still don’t trust them to be consistent. After a big win on the road, I could see them having a let down at home. QB Deshaun Watson will be looking to bounce back after disappointing last week. I’m taking the Texans on the road. Prediction: Texans over Titans

LA Rams @ Dallas – The Cowboys sprang into a playoff team last season because of their defense. This season, it will be that same unit that could keep them out. Dallas couldn’t stop a soul last week, as they were embarrassed in Chicago. The defense that currently leads the league in missed tackles has to find an answer soon or else they’ll be on the outside looking into the playoff picture. The Rams have had their struggles this year but last week at home, they shocked a pretty good Seahawks team. What was surprising was how well their defense played against Russell Wilson and how QB Jared Goff seemed to have total command over his offense. The Rams finding their grove last week couldn’t have come at a worst time for the Cowboys. LA kicked Dallas out the post season last season because they couldn’t stop their running attack. I think we’ll see more of the same this week. What could be different is that Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is not the same QB he was a season ago. I think he’ll continue to will this offense down the field along with a steady serving of Ezekiel Elliott. But it won’t mean a thing if the defense can get LA’s offense off the field. Prediction: Rams over Cowboys

Buffalo @ Pittsburgh – Again, you have to hand it to coach Mike Tomlin for having his team in the playoff conversation after all the losses they’ve faced on offense. Pittsburgh’s formula for success this season involves a tough defense and an offense that can just do enough to not lose the game. I don’t see this working out for Pittsburgh in the long run but it might work for them in terms of making the post season. Pittsburgh is also good enough to make bad teams make stupid mistakes. For example, the Steelers put the heat on Arizona last week but the Cardinals could have been in that game if it wasn’t for their stupid mistakes. Bad teams usually play worst especially against good defenses. Buffalo isn’t a bad team. They are very good defensively and they have one of the league’s top running games. But I’m worried about how they’ll perform under the bright lights of prime time. I feel that Buffalo is the better team but I wonder if they’ll start to make stupid mistakes on the road against a good defense. To me, it just feels like a game that Buffalo would lose. Prediction: Steelers over Bills

Indianapolis @ New Orleans – The Colts really need this one this week to stay in the AFC playoff picture. But their defense isn’t stopping anyone recently and on offense, they seem to be slowed by injuries. The Saints are not in great shape going into this Sunday night game, either. They are dealing with multiple injuries up front defensively which could open the door for the Colts’ running game. This could be a high scoring affair and if it is, my money is on Drew Brees and Michael Thomas who is on pace for a career year. Prediction: Saints over Colts

The Rest of Week 15

Ravens over Jets – I’m worried about the health of Lamar Jackson on a short week going up against a Greg Williams defense. Hopefully, Baltimore can get a sizable lead in the 2nd half and let RG3 finish the game.

Patriots over Bengals – “Dem Pat-tree-us are nothin but CHEATERS. Chuck Noll’s STILLERS got ‘em rings LEGIT….”

Buccaneers over Lions – Jameis Winston is on pace to lead the league in passing and interceptions. I wonder how free agency is going to treat him next year.

Chiefs over Broncos – Denver appears to have hope in the form of rookie QB Drew Lock. If they can beat KC on the road, that would be eye opening.

Dolphins over Giants – I think we can count on this Miami team competing for all 4 quarters. Can’t say the same for this Giants team.

Eagles over Washington – Philadelphia got to be careful here. Washington offers a more capable offense than what they saw from the Giants last week.

Seahawks over Panthers – Is Seattle starting to revert into that team that randomly struggles on the road?

Raiders over Jaguars – Must win for Oakland. Not only for their playoff chances but it is their final home game at the Coliseum. I said it once and I’ll say it again, it is a damn shame that the Raiders are leaving California. The NFL = Brand Killers. All for the mighty dollar. SMH

Browns over Cardinals – These teams lead the league in tripping over themselves. At least Arizona is young. Cleveland, what’s your excuse??

Vikings over Chargers – I think we are witnessing the ending of the Phillip Rivers era for the Chargers.

49ers over Falcons – This might be a surprising good game. Both teams offer great play at the line of scrimmage. San Fran is on a roll right now though.

NFL 2019: Week 14 Predictions

dakjg2019

With 4 games left in the season, the 6-6 Cowboys would like to begin their playoff push tonight in Chicago.

 

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 11-5

Season: 114-77-1

Top Five Games of the Week

Dallas @ Chicago – With 4 weeks left in the season, the Bears have a slim chance at making the playoffs, currently sitting in third place in the NFC North. A win tonight at home would definitely help their situation. Chicago, after a tough start, has gained momentum recently winning their last two games. Dallas is desperate for something positive after losing their last two. Though they are still in the driver’s seat in the NFC East, their play recently hasn’t spurred any confidence. I think the Cowboys are in a “back against the wall” scenario and how they respond to that will go a long ways in terms of closing out their division, solidifying their playoff spot, and possibly saving the job of their head coach. In recent years, the Cowboys have responded well in these situations. In the last two seasons, Jason Garrett has led them to 3-1 records in the month of December. Tonight, the Cowboys will have to be the aggressor. Their defense has been lacking impact plays recently and that’s something that must change. Chicago doesn’t have much to offer besides their defense. Dallas must protect the football on offense and the defense can’t let Mitch Trubisky beat them. Dallas has to start playing like they’re desperate. Tonight, on the road in Chicago, would be the best time for that. Prediction: Cowboys over Bears

Baltimore @ Buffalo – The Bills were impressive on Thanksgiving. They can really start to turn heads in the AFC with another strong performance against one of the top teams in the league. Baltimore is on a roll right now, taking on all opponents. Last week against San Francisco, they battled all the way down to the last second and were victorious. Buffalo is a talented team that is especially receiving great play upfront defensively. But it seems like nothing can derailed the Lamar Jackson train right now. Buffalo is going to need some dynamic plays offensively to keep pace with the Ravens offense. I don’t know where they can get that from. December games in Buffalo can be tough but I think this Baltimore team is built for it. They handled the weather well last week. Prediction: Ravens over Bills

San Francisco @ New Orleans – The 49ers lost a tough one last week but I came away feeling good about their standing in the NFC. They took one of the league’s best teams down to the wire in a game that could have gone either way. This Sunday, they’ll face another great opponent in New Orleans. The Saints have had some hiccups this season but they are still one of the proven best teams in the conference. I think they will be in trouble this week though. New Orleans has struggled against strong defensive fronts this year. The 49ers have the formula for getting to the QB and limiting their opponents scoring chances. The Saints aren’t bad defensively either but I think they have some holes up front that the 49ers running game can expose. Much like their game last week in Baltimore, I think San Fran is looking at a contest that will be determined in the last minutes. Prediction: 49ers over Saints

Kansas City @ New England – New England’s lack of offense finally caught up to them last week. They have done some amazing things defensively this season but at the end of the day, you must figure out a way to score points. Tom Brady needs help at the receiver position and the offense’s running game can only do so much. Kansas City pretty much has the opposite problem. Patrick Mahomes’ offense can look unstoppable at times and they will pressure New England’s defense in a way that they haven’t seen all season. I have to wonder if Brady is going to ask owner Robert Kraft to bring back Antonio Brown after this one. Prediction: Chiefs over Patriots

Seattle @ LA Rams – The Rams got a much-needed win last week but thanks to the Seahawks and 49ers, they seem like a playoff long shot. Seattle is a team where you pretty much know what you’re going to get each week. They just play hard and it’s a reflection from their head coach, Pete Carroll. I honestly can’t stand him but year in and year out, his team competes at a high level. No matter what they have in the backfield or at receiver, they are solid offensively. A lot of credit should also go to QB Russell Wilson. The Rams have been shaky offensively this season. QB Jared Goff has been inconsistent and the play calling suggests that they don’t really trust that RB Todd Gurley is fully recovered from injury. The Rams should also be better defensively since acquiring CB Jalen Ramsey but that transaction hasn’t really proven its worth yet. Seattle has had issues in the past on the road but I think they’ll handle this week’s test. Prediction: Seahawks over Rams

The Rest of Week 14

Falcons over Panthers – Who had Ron Rivera getting fired before Dan O’Quinn? Not me.

Browns over Bengals – Cincy finally won last week. I think Cleveland will benefit from playing one of the league’s worst defensive teams this week.

Packers over Washington – Does Washington have some momentum left over after beating Carolina last week? Technically, they are still alive in the horrible NFC East.

Vikings over Lions – Minnesota should feel good about their playoff chances. They still can afford a let down at home against a division rival.

Jets over Dolphins – Dare I say that the Jets play better this year at home?

Buccaneers over Colts – In a mild upset, I see Tampa’s defense stepping up against a wounded Indianapolis team.

Texans over Broncos – Houston has the potential to play well against any team in the league.

Chargers over Jaguars – The Chargers were hosed by the refs last week. They are owed one.

Raiders over Titans – Another upset here. Tennessee is playing well but they are inconsistent. Gruden will have his guys ready to play at home this week.

Cardinals over Steelers – The formula of having a good defense and very little offense can only take you so far in this league. Arizona isn’t great but they aren’t the Browns.

Eagles over Giants – Sorry to be the buzz kill here but the potential return of Eli Manning will only help the Eagles pass rush, right?

NFL 2019: Week 12 Predictions

rodgera

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers visit another top NFC team this Sunday night.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 12-2

Season: 94-67-1

Top Five Games of the Week

Indianapolis @ Houston – The Colts proved last week that they are still very much in conversation for the AFC South title. They’ve been inconsistent at times this season but they are going to receive a boost offensively at least with the return of T.Y. Hilton. The Texans didn’t show much last week against Baltimore as they were blown out. Seems like Houston’s defense hasn’t been the same since the J.J. Watt injury. I feel like we can count on Indy being a tough team defensively. And now that their offense is getting healthy, they maybe able to create some space in the race for the division. Prediction: Colts over Texans

Seattle @ Philadelphia – The Eagles need to start stringing together some wins to stay in the playoff conversation. After losing to the Patriots last week, that task will not seem easier this week, as they’ll welcome the visiting Seahawks who are coming off a bye. Seattle used to be a team that looked stronger at home than when on the road. Now, they seem to play tough no matter the venue. I think the Eagles actually matchup well against Seattle but they are currently dealing with some issues offensively. The running game has improved as the season progresses but you can say the same for Carson Wentz and the passing game. Philly will not be able to defeat Seattle on Sunday if they don’t get enough big plays from Wentz and his receivers. On the other side, I think Russell Wilson will be able to create big plays against an constantly overachieving Eagles secondary. I say overachieving because that unit played well last week but in reality, they are average at best. Prediction: Seahawks over Eagles

Dallas @ New England – Tom Brady and the Patriots were able to get the win last week against Philly but their offense continued to struggle. Brady acknowledged that fact this week during his weekly radio show ahead of this weekend’s game against Dallas. I think Brady maybe able to find more opportunities in the passing game this week but that will be all depending on how well he is protected. The Cowboys do offer a decent pass rush despite having a secondary that gives up big plays. On defense, the Patriots boost the league’s top unit and they are especially good at defending the pass. Enter Dak Prescott this Sunday who is currently playing his best football of his career and is also the league leader in passing. The Cowboys are facing a big test this week with the Patriots defense on the road. But they know that the key for them is to get big performances from Prescott and the offense as a whole. The Patriots maybe struggling on offense right now but they know that they could be able to out scheme and out execute the Cowboys from a coaching standpoint. If it comes down the players on paper, the Cowboys might have an edge but I think there’s a reason why the Belichick/Brady regime has never lost to Dallas. Prediction: Patriots over Cowboys

Green Bay @ San Francisco – The Packers will be fresh this week coming off the bye but they have a big test waiting for them on Sunday night as they travel to face the 49ers. San Fran has cooled off a bit losing to Seattle and almost losing last week to Arizona. Despite that, their formula for success is still intact. I think that defense they have can give Aaron Rodgers plenty of problems. Green Bay’s rushing attack will also have tough sledding ahead of them against the Niners front four. On offense, the 49ers must continue to use their top ranked rushing attack while Jimmy G stays away from mistakes. Prediction: 49ers over Packers

Baltimore @ LA Rams – The Rams haven’t looked the same to me since their loss at Pittsburgh a few weeks ago. In order for the Rams to play winning football again, they have to be point offensively. It doesn’t matter how dominant Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, and the rest of the Rams defense is playing. As a team, their success is about being able to score points. Thinking of points, Baltimore has the second best scoring offense in football right. Lamar Jackson is proving week after week that he can get the job done with his feet and his arm. The Rams have the potential to really challenge the Ravens this week but the road team is playing its best ball at the moment. LA better be careful because they are starting to fade away from the playoff conversation. Prediction: Ravens over Rams

The Rest of Week 12

Falcons over Buccaneers – Atlanta’s defense is playing well right now. That’s not good news for the turnover prone Buccaneers.

Bills over Broncos – Buffalo still has realistic playoff goals. They just have to start stacking victories.

Bears over Giants – This game will be decided by Khalil Mack or Daniel Jones.

Bengals over Steelers – No one should go winless. Pittsburgh’s offense is too banged up. I think Cincy is a terrible team but this week presents a good opportunity for them.

Browns over Dolphins – Cleveland should be okay if they stay away from the “beating the opponent over the head with their own helmet” strategy.

Saints over Panthers – Looks like the Kyle Allen era for Carolina maybe over before it starts.

Raiders over Jets – This current winning streak is going to propel this young overachieving Oakland team into the post season.

Lions over Washington – I think it will be Washington ending their season with the league’s worst overall record.

Titans over Jaguars – Jacksonville has their QB back but Tennessee has had their number recently.

NFL 2019: Week 10 Predictions

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Seattle Seahawks

Can Russell Wilson and the Seahawks give the 49ers their first loss of 2019?

 

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 9-5

Season: 78-56-1

Top Five Games of the Week

Los Angeles Chargers @ Oakland – I’m kind of surprised to see the Raiders with a 4-4 record. Right now they have the inside track on finishing second in the AFC West and maybe competing for a Wild-Card playoff spot. Tonight’s game against the Chargers will be key for them going forward. A win tonight and then upcoming games against the Bengals and Jets could mean that Oakland could be sitting pretty with a 7-4 record. But first things first, they have to defeat a Chargers team who is coming off their best win of the season over Green Bay. The Chargers have been the picture of inconsistency in the AFC over the last few years. Tonight, I think they’ll have to lean on a strong defensive performance. Edge rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram will have to impact what David Carr and the Raiders offense can produce. I’m looking for Oakland to challenge LA’s run defense tonight with rookie Josh Jacobs who is having a good first season. My heart goes out to those fans in Oakland who will not be able to see their team at home for not much longer. I think the Raiders will send those fans home happy tonight. Prediction: Raiders over Chargers

Carolina @ Green Bay – I’m not sure what happened to the Packers last week in LA. Maybe they were enjoying the SoCal nightlife before Sunday’s game. Aaron Rodgers assured everyone after the loss last week that there’s no need to worry and they’ll get back on track. Easier said than done, as Green Bay will welcome a pretty good Carolina team this Sunday. Carolina’s defense should serve as a good test for Rodgers. The Panthers hoist a top pass defense in the league. Green Bay may find success in the run game with Jamal Williams and Aaron Jones as Carolina’s run defense ranks near the bottom. On offense, the Panthers will continue to feed their MVP candidate RB Christian McCaffrey and will hope to keep the Packers pass rush away from QB Kyle Allen. Carolina is going to need points to win this one on the road. I don’t think Allen will be able to out-produce Rodgers offensively. Prediction: Packers over Panthers

Los Angeles Rams @ Pittsburgh – Even though the Colts weren’t healthy last Sunday and their QB was knocked out of the game, that was still an impressive victory for the almost equally wounded Steelers. Currently, the Steelers are playing at a high level defensively especially when you look at edge rushers, T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree. That defense will have its hands full this Sunday with the LA Rams coming into town. The Rams are among the top teams in the NFC and should be well-rested coming off the bye. QB Jared Goff is a guy that can be rattled when pressured but he has the pleasure of being surrounded with a great supporting cast when you talk about RB Todd Gurley, and wide outs Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. Pittsburgh’s offensive line also faces a tall task with LA’s defensive front led by Aaron Donald who will have his own cheering section in the stadium. If the Steelers could gut out another victory this week, that would be an eye-opener. But I just don’t see it. Prediction: Rams over Steelers

Minnesota @ Dallas – The Cowboys victory over the Giants last Monday night did not inspire any confidence from me, at least. Dallas overcame a sloppy start a finished the contest in style but they still have a ways to go if they want to be a contender in the NFC. I see Minnesota as a team that was in a similar rut earlier this season. But recently, QB Kirk Cousins has turned it on and the Vikings offense is flourishing. On Sunday night, I’m expecting to see a really good contest featuring two similar but talented teams. Minnesota and Dallas have great rushing offense led by Dalvin Cook and Ezekiel Elliott. The Dallas run defense was up to the task last week slowing down Saquon Barkley and they’ll have to repeat that performance in this game. Minnesota could be shorthanded offensively if WR Adam Thielen is unable to play. The Vikings offensive line could have their hands full as the Cowboys offer a pretty good pass rush with Demarcus Lawrence, Robert Quinn and recently acquired Michael Bennett. Minnesota’s defense isn’t bad either as they rank in the top ten against the run and the pass. This should be a close game and the winner will be the team that wins the turnover battle. Dak Prescott and Cousins must protect the football as the QB with the last possession could decide this one. I’m not confident but I’m going with the home team. Prediction: Cowboys over Vikings

Seattle @ San Francisco – It goes without saying that this is the biggest game of Week 10. San Francisco is still sporting an undefeated record but they’ll welcome a great challenge on Monday night with the Seattle Seahawks coming to town. I feel that San Fran’s success is sustainable because of two reasons: the running game and the pass rush. On offense, the 49ers have been getting it done on the ground with Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida. They could play a huge factor in this game as Seattle struggles against the run. The Seahawks will have to answer that with the way they can get after the QB. Thinking of getting after the QB, the Niners are pretty good at that too. Russell Wilson is normally calm and collected but Dee Ford and Nick Bosa will be looking to make sure that he is not comfortable on Monday night. It would take a great effort from Wilson for Seattle to give the 49ers their first loss. I expect to see the home team to stay the course and score a big divisional victory. Prediction: 49ers over Seahawks

The Rest of Week 10

Lions over Bears – It would be nice to see Mitch Trubisky turn it around but I just don’t see it.

Ravens over Bengals – Baltimore can’t afford a let down after their huge victory at home last week.

Bills over Browns – Cleveland is an absolute joke. That coaching staff should be ashamed. The players should be ashamed. The fans are ashamed. The organization should also be ashamed.

Chiefs over Titans – Kansas City is just counting the days until Patrick Mahomes returns.

Saints over Falcons – Not sure why Atlanta hasn’t fired Dan O’Quinn yet.

Giants over Jets – Both of these franchises have seen better days but right now, the Giants at least appear to have more hope.

Buccaneers over Cardinals – Tampa has lost a couple of close ones recently. Something will go right for them eventually.

Colts over Dolphins – Indy is very healthy right now but the Dolphins are still the Dolphins.

NFL 2019: Week 6 Predictions

1179931485.jpg.0

The 49ers are still unbeaten. On Sunday, they’ll face a tough opponent in the Rams.

 

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 8-7

Season: 44-33-1

Top Five Games of the Week

Carolina @ Tampa Bay – This NFC South divisional game in London could have a big impact later on this season in terms of playoff positioning. Carolina has found its stride offensively of late thanks to the play of RB Christian McCaffrey. Tampa Bay enters Sunday with one of the top run defenses in the league. The play of LB Shaq Barrett has really made a difference for this young team. Panthers QB Kyle Allen has done a good job keeping the Carolina offense afloat without Cam Newton but on Sunday that unit will be challenged up front. Tampa is looking for consistency in their passing game but if they can get going against the Panthers secondary, they’ll be able to fill the stat sheet. Prediction: Buccaneers over Panthers

Houston @ Kansas City – This matchup will feature two of the better young QB’s in the league. Patrick Mahomes had a rough go at last week, as the Chiefs were shocked at home by the Colts. Deshaun Watson has shown recently what he can do with his arm when he has enough protection. I think Mahomes and Watson’s talents will be on full display Sunday in a high scoring contest. Defensively, the Chiefs were bullied upfront last week and they’ll be looking to bounce back against a Texans offensive line that can be described as shaky. Houston’s secondary ranks near the bottom of the league in pass defense so I think that will allow Mahomes to have a big game as well. Prediction: Chiefs over Texans

Philadelphia @ Minnesota – The Vikings were able to put it all together last week against a bad Giants team. They’ll return back home Sunday to face a much tougher NFC East opponent. The Eagles are looking like a team that is just now finding their groove. After a dominant performance last week, they’ll be looking for similar results in Minnesota. The Vikings offer one of the league’s top rushing attacks but the Eagles’ run defense ranks first in the NFL. If Philly’s defensive line plays like they can at the line of scrimmage, QB Kirk Cousins could be in for a tough day. Minnesota’s defense isn’t bad either. They must start off fast pressuring Carson Wentz and keeping the home crowd engaged. This should be a big test for the Eagles. The big victory on the road would serve as a momentum boost heading into a clash with Dallas next week. Prediction: Eagles over Vikings

San Francisco @ LA Rams – It’s a shame that the majority of the country won’t be able to see this game on Sunday. The winner here will most likely have the inside track to the NFC West title. The 49ers are the surprise of this early season, remaining undefeated after destroying Cleveland on national television. San Fran has been a joy to watch especially considering how this team was built. They have one of the best defenses in the league led by pass rushers Dee Ford and rookie Nick Bosa. On offense, RB’s Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman are proving to be one of the top duos in the NFL. The Niners are also getting it done in the secondary with a pass defense that ranks 2nd in the league. The Rams are a good football but they’ve been inconsistent at times. I think they’ll present the 49ers with their greatest challenge so far this season. QB Jared Goff leads one of the top passing attacks in the league. Unfortunately for the Rams, their defense is average at best despite having Aaron Donald. CB’s Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib have formed a bad habit with allowing big plays down the field. The Rams are a talented team but the Niners could prove to be just as talented. Plus, they are just playing better football right now. Prediction: 49ers over Rams

Detroit @ Green Bay – Green Bay really flexed their muscles in Dallas last week. Despite being outgained offensively, they attacked the Cowboys with a successful ground game and were able to force turnovers on defense. Not a lot is known about this Lions team. But they do only have one loss, playing Kansas City at home down to the wire. In recent history, the Packers have owned Detroit within the division. For the Lions to flip that script, they have to attack this Packers defense down the field. Detroit’s defense isn’t highly ranked either so, I imagine Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will be looking for big plays in the passing game as well. Rodgers at home against the Lions seems like a safe bet but it wouldn’t surprise me if this game were highly competitive. Prediction: Packers over Lions

The Rest of Week 6

Patriots over Giants – The top defense in the league faces a young and banged up offense.

Seahawks over Browns – I hope Baker Mayfield learns something watching Russell Wilson this week.

Dolphins over Washington – Yes. Miami will get off the snide and play inspired football at home against Washington who just fired their coach.

Saints over Jaguars – I wonder what impact Jalen Ramsey will have in this game. Regardless, I don’t see Jacksonville keeping pace with the Saints’ offense.

Ravens over Bengals – I was not impressed with Baltimore at all last week. They won but they didn’t deserve it. I hope they hit the reset button in practice this week. They can still be so much better than what they showed last week.

Falcons over Cardinals – If Atlanta loses this one, they might be looking for a new head coach real soon.

Broncos over Titans – Tennessee showed promise earlier this year but things look to be turning for the worst.

Cowboys over Jets – Dallas can’t over look these “lay-ups”. The Jets will have opportunities for success on Sunday. Le’Veon Bell faces a poor run defense and the offense could also receive a boost from the returning QB Sam Darnold. The Cowboys have to show that they are ready to bounce back while not over looking their opponent.

Chargers over Steelers – LA fell short at home last week. Pittsburgh is down to their third string QB. I think the Chargers will be aiming for an impactful performance against a wounded opponent.

NFL 2019: Week 5 Predictions

1178331736.jpg.0

QB Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs will be looking to stay undefeated this Sunday night.

 

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 7-8

Season: 36-26-1

Top Five Games of the Week

Los Angeles Rams @ Seattle – This will be a big matchup in the NFC West on Thursday night. The Rams were embarrassed defensively at home last week. Now, they will try to bounce back on the road against the rival, Seahawks. Seattle flexed their defensive muscles in Arizona in Week 4, holding the Cardinals to 10 points. Seattle isn’t known for their explosive offense but they could be in attack mode against a Rams defense that gives up big plays. QB Jared Goff is going to have to shake off his recent slump to keep the Rams in the ball game. Seattle is usually tough at home and home teams usually do well in these Thursday night game. I like the Hawks. Prediction: Seahawks over Rams

Baltimore @ Pittsburgh – Congratulations, Pittsburgh! You got your first win of the season last Monday against a toothless Bengals squad. Good thing that it is just Week 5 so, we can say that you are squarely in the AFC North race. I didn’t see what happened to Baltimore last week coming but I should have. I knew Baltimore’s lack of defensive talent would catch up to them eventually and it all came ahead in the form of Browns RB Nick Chubb. The Ravens will be looking for answers this week in Pittsburgh it what has always been an intense contest between rivals. If the Steelers watched the Ravens/Browns film from last week, I bet they would be thinking that they might find some success in the running game. Last week, Pittsburgh experimented with a “wildcat” like attack on the ground that worked well. Even Coach Tomlin admitted that it was gimmicky but whatever works, works. I think that might be code for “we don’t trust Mason Rudolph and the passing game to win us ball games yet”. I think the Ravens will put out a better effort at stopping the run this week. Their run defense has to be able to put the game for Pittsburgh in the hands of Rudolph. QB Lamar Jackson wasn’t as sharp last week but he’ll be able to attack the Steeler defense if he’s protected. Pittsburgh’s defense feasted against Cincinnati but I think Baltimore will prove to be a much tougher opponent. Prediction: Ravens over Steelers

Green Bay @ Dallas – The Cowboys received their first loss of the season last week and now they’ll return home to face a rested Green Bay team. The Packers were shocked at home by Philly with the main culprit being their defense. Dallas must play aggressive offensively on Sunday to prevent a two game losing streak. Green Bay’s defense is improved from a season ago but they still struggle against the run. Ezekiel Elliott should be the main focus for the Cowboys offense on Sunday but Dak Prescott should have plenty of opportunities thru the air as well. The Cowboys are a bit banged up on their offensive line this week. Green Bay pass rushers Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith could be huge factors in this game. If Green Bay can stop the run and limit Prescott, Aaron Rodgers could be in store for a huge game. He has never lost at AT&T Stadium and the Cowboys pass rush has been inconsistent sans the recent emergence of DE Robert Quinn. These two teams often play in competitive games against each other. I think the difference on Sunday will be which Packers defense will choose to show up. After a ten-day break and the state of the Cowboys offensive line, I think Green Bay will have the advantage. Prediction: Packers over Cowboys

Indianapolis @ Kansas City – The Chiefs showed that they could win a close ball game on the road last week in Detroit. Those late game heroics are going to pay dividends for them later on this season. I’m not sure what happened to the Colts at home last week against Oakland. I don’t care if T.Y. Hilton wasn’t healthy. They should have been good enough to beat that Oakland team. I mean, I think David Carr isn’t that bad but they made him look like Rich Gannon last week. Indy clearly has defensive issues right now, which is bad news, as they’ll meet the reigning MVP QB Patrick Mahomes on Sunday night. It’s going to be a long night for the Colts if their offense can’t keep up. Prediction: Chiefs over Colts

Cleveland @ San Francisco – Plenty of weird things can be said about this Monday night matchup. First: an undefeated 49ers team. Second: the AFC North leading Cleveland Browns. Strange, right? It’s just Week 5, after all. The Niners are coming off the bye so hopefully they are well rested. Despite their 3-0 record, I think San Fran is an overachieving, sloppy football team. I don’t think much about the Browns either. Last week, they discovered their running game and shocked Baltimore. I think the Browns can be successful with that formula again this week. Despite their issues, Cleveland is more explosive on both sides of the ball than the 49ers. And maybe, the Browns are just a better team on the road? I don’t know. This one is a toss up. I don’t think San Fran is worthy of their undefeated title. I like the Browns to give them their first loss of 2019. Prediction: Browns over 49ers

The Rest of Week 5

Cardinals over Bengals – Cincinnati looked pretty bad last week. Week 5 is too early to start thinking about the draft/future but they are already doing it in Miami.

Titans over Bills – Tennessee is talented but inconsistent. Much like their QB. They still should have enough to beat Buffalo.

Bears over Raiders – Khalil Mack has been talking all week about how he can’t wait to face his former team. Over/Under on how many sacks will he rack up on Sunday? 8? 9.5?

Saints over Buccaneers – Even without Drew Brees, New Orleans is a really tough football team. It would be interesting if Tampa can continue its success through the air like last week.

Giants over Vikings – In-fighting in the Minnesota locker room has the Vikings trending down. New York has been trending up since Daniel Jones has entered the picture. Plus, having Golden Tate back from suspension will help.

Eagles over Jets – The Jets are back from the bye but they can’t compete with their current situation at QB.

Patriots over Washington – New England would have to try real hard to lose to this Washington team.

Jaguars over Panthers – Minshew-Mania is running wild! Believe it!

Texans over Falcons – Two underachieving teams here. Atlanta looks like the bigger mess.

Chargers over Broncos – The Bradley Chubb injury will hurt Denver’s defense big time. Von Miller needs to step up.

 

NFL 2019: Week 3 Predictions

QRKNIKGX7AI6TINFCYVYVHE4UI

Lamar Jackson and the Ravens will hope to stand toe-to-toe against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 10-6

Season: 20-11-1

Top Five Games of the Week

Atlanta @ Indianapolis – The Falcons gutted out a victory at home last week against the Eagles. Despite the victory, this team seems to underwhelm me each week. With the talent they have, they should be able to execute much better than they do. I like what I saw last week with the Colts. The issues with Adam Vinateri and the kicking game almost cost them but they were able to overcome and get a big divisional victory on the road. The Colts offense seems to be operating smoothly through the air and on the ground. I like their balanced attack to help them control the game clock and limit Atlanta’s offense this Sunday. Prediction: Colts over Falcons

Baltimore @ Kansas City – The Ravens and the Chiefs played in what was probably the best game in the regular season last year. Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore offense returns to Kansas City this Sunday looking for a different result from last season. Jackson has been the talk of this 2019 season though it is still early. Many are still not as impressed with Jackson considering Baltimore’s opponents but he’ll face a quality opponent this week. Kansas City’s defense isn’t all that great but they’ll offer more than Miami or Arizona. But just like in their matchup a season ago, this game will be all about the QBs. Patrick Mahomes is playing like the MVP he was last year and the injury to Tyreek Hill hasn’t slowed this offense. I think Jackson will be able to go toe-to-toe with Mahomes but even without Hill, the Chiefs have too many weapons. This should be a fun, back and forth, contest. Prediction: Chiefs over Ravens

Houston @ Los Angeles Chargers –Losing to Detroit might be a sign that the Chargers have some issues. Houston barely escaped Jacksonville last week but I believe they can play more like the team that lost a close in New Orleans Week 1. The Chargers have been hampered once again with injuries on both sides of the ball. LA’s defense will have to continue to limit their opponents as Phillip Rivers and the offense try to figure out their issues. For the Texans, they just have to keep their QB, Deshaun Watson, upright. The Chargers have a great pass rush with the ability to change the face of this game. Too bad the Chargers don’t really have a “home” field advantage. Prediction: Texans over Chargers

New Orleans @ Seattle – The news of the Drew Brees injury is terrible but it could be worst. New Orleans seemed to be prepared for this as they made Teddy Bridgewater the highest paid backup QB in the league this past offseason. Bridgewater’s first assignment as a starter will be a tough Seattle defense on the road. Seattle wasn’t that impressive last week in Pittsburgh but they did enough to win. Seattle must exploit the Saints run defense and control the clock. That’s something that they usually do a great job at especially at home. Also, the Saints defense will get after Russell Wilson. Seattle’s offensive line is usually inconsistent at best. I like Bridgewater but the Saints offense won’t be as explosive without Brees. Prediction: Seahawks over Saints

Los Angeles Rams @ Cleveland – Well, it’s good that Cleveland avoided a 0-2 start but they did not impress against the Jets. The Browns have a tough defense I think but for those first two games, it has been the offense that has disappointed. And it’s not going to get better this week with the Rams coming into town in primetime. The Rams are coming off an impressive home win against New Orleans. LA looked look last week on offense. Todd Gurley and Malcolm Brown are making a big impact in the running game. Cleveland should also have a tough time containing the Rams defensive line, led by Aaron Donald. Prediction: Rams over Browns

The Rest of Week 3

Titans over Jaguars – Tennessee has owned Jacksonville recently in the series. This could be Jalen Ramsey’s last game as a Jaguar. I don’t think so. But it could be.

Bills over Bengals – Cincy got thrashed last week at home and Buffalo will be fired up for their home opener.

Cowboys over Dolphins – I don’t think this is a trap game for Dallas. The Cowboys do have some injury concerns. I hope they will be able to treat this one like a preseason game.

Packers over Broncos – Green Bay might finally have a defense to match what they can do offensively.

Vikings over Raiders – Minnesota won’t be anyone if Kirk Cousins plays like he did last week.

Patriots over Jets – New England might be able to rest Tom Brady in the 4thquarter in this one. Oh. And you can add the NEW YORK JETS as another gutless organization that refuses to sign……ahhhh….nevermind. Eyeroll emoji.

Eagles over Lions – I guess you have to give Detroit credit for upsetting the Chargers. I wonder if the Eagles are healthy enough to avoid another pitfall in consecutive weeks.

Cardinals over Panthers – Cam Newton or no Cam Newton. Carolina has been a disappointment so far this season.

Buccaneers over Giants – Tampa’s offense can at least appear valuable against the Giants defense.

Steelers over 49ers – Pittsburgh can’t go 0-3. They’ll rally around Mason Rudolph and play inspired football on the road in San Fran.

Washington over Bears – If Chicago’s offense can’t produce, their defense will tire out. Case Keenum and Washington’s passing attack will take full advantage if they can weather the Bears defense.

 

NFL 2019: Week 2 Predictions

Houston Texans v New Orleans Saints

Drew Brees and the Saints will be looking for revenge this Sunday in LA.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 10-5-1

Season: 10-5-1

Top Five Games of the Week

Minnesota @ Green Bay– Green Bay’s defense had a surprising, dominating performance Week 1 in Chicago. Either that or Chicago was having major issues on offense. I think it was a little bit of both. Minnesota’s defense was equally impressive at home, nearly shutting out an Atlanta team with a usually explosive offense. I think both defenses will bring it on Sunday in this key, early season, divisional matchup. I think the difference in this contest will be the Vikings offense. RB Dalvin Cook had a productive season opener and the Packer secondary will face a stiffer challenge in Kirk Cousins and the Vikings passing game. Prediction: Vikings over Packers

Seattle @ Pittsburgh – After an offseason of headlines and controversy, I thought Pittsburgh would come out last week playing with their hair on fire. Instead, it was New England who lit them up to the tune of a 30-point victory. But fearless leader and father of 52 grown men, Ben Roethlisberger, alerted the masses this week saying that there is no need to panic. And he’s right. 0-1 is just that. But judging from what I saw last week, this Steelers team better start turning it around soon. The home opener against Seattle could be a good start but it will be a challenge. Seattle struggled at home last week against Cincinnati but they were bailed out once again by the usually suspects, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks defense. If Roethlisberger can’t find success against this stingy Seattle defense, Pittsburgh could be in trouble. Mainly because the Steelers defense looked like they couldn’t stop anyone last week. I’m not expecting Wilson to attack the defense like Brady did in Week 1 but he might if he feels that he can find success. I could see Seattle jumping out in front in this one before Pittsburgh mounts a second half comeback. But then, it will be Wilson who will put his team in position to close this one out on the road. Prediction: Seahawks over Steelers

Dallas @ Washington– The Cowboys were as impressive as any team in the NFC last week. I was sort of surprised because though the Giants aren’t very good, they always seem to give Dallas a game usually. Washington looked great early in Philadelphia before completely falling apart. Despite their collapse, Washington should feel good about their passing game as Case Keenum threw for 400+ yards. For Washington to get the win over the rival Cowboys on Sunday, they must be able to attack on offense for 60 minutes. Dallas has struggled against the run recently and that issue has seemed to follow them into this season. Barkley had some huge gains last week and veteran RB Adrian Peterson will be looking forward to similar success. What helped the Dallas defense last week was how the offense was able to control game. Dak Prescott looked really comfortable going down the field last week as he posted a perfect passing rating. I think he could see similar success against Washington but only if his offensive line can protect him. RB Ezekiel Elliott isn’t back to his old self just yet but that will change as the season goes along. Dallas’ balanced attack will be key this Sunday in terms of controlling the clock and keeping the defense fresh. This one will probably be tougher than last week but starting 2019 2-0 in the division would be huge for Dallas. On the other hand, Washington does not want to start this season 0-2 in the division. Prediction: Cowboys over Washington

New Orleans @ Los Angeles Rams – No doubt that the Saints have had this date circled when the schedule came out. On Sunday, the Saints will be looking for a huge road victory against the team they should have beaten in last year’s NFC Championship. New Orleans showed real mettle last week at home, winning on a late field against Houston. The look just as good as they did last season and maybe even better. The offense can still put up big numbers and that defense seems to get by with that “bend but don’t break” mentality. The Rams won a physical battle in Carolina Week 1. I think their defense will face a greater challenge this week. The Rams struggled against the run in Carolina and I think RB Alvin Kamara will be used effectively in this matchup.  New Orleans will be looking to beat LA on the field on Sunday and leave the officials out of it. Prediction: Saints over Rams

Philadelphia @ Atlanta – The Eagles started last week on shaky ground, allowing Washington to get the jump on them. They eventually recovered but their pass defense still left the game looking pretty weak. It seems like the Eagles have this issue every season. At least, recently. On paper, I think Philly’s issues in the secondary should serve as an advantage for Atlanta in their home opener. The Falcons offense was embarrassingly bad in Minnesota and they should be looking to prove that they are better than what they showed. But then, I remembered this same matchup a season ago where Atlanta still struggled against this Eagles defense. I think we’ll see the same story on Sunday. Prediction: Eagles over Falcons

The Rest of Week 2

Panthers over Buccaneers – It seems like Bruce Arians has a long way to go with fixing this Tampa offense.

Bengals over 49ers – This is a toss up. I think Cincy can still be a surprise team this year.

Chargers over Lions – The way Detroit folded last week in Arizona was embarrassing.

Colts over Titans – For whatever reason, Indy has been able to own Tennessee in this divisional rivalry recently.

Patriots over Dolphins – This one will get ugly real quick. Antonio Brown might make this game watchable.

Bills over Giants – Don’t look now but maybe Buffalo can be the team to challenge for second place in the AFC East this year.

Ravens over Cardinals – I’m here for the Lamar Jackson show to takeover the league. Here for it.

Texans over Jaguars – Watson and the Texans played good enough to win last week. They’ll close out a banged up Jacksonville team at home.

Chiefs over Raiders – Kansas City is banged up but I’m not buying into Oakland.

Bears over Broncos – Denver looked better than Chicago last week. But it’s going to be tough for the Broncos to protect their statue (ala Drew Bledsoe) of a QB, Joe Flacco.

Browns over Jets – Cleveland took their lumps last week but since then, the Jets have completely imploded with multiple major injuries.

NFL 2019: Week 1 Predictions

Carolina Panthers v New England Patriots

Tom Brady and the Patriots begin, yet another, title defense this Sunday night.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Past Regular Season Records:

2014 Regular Season Record: 158-97-1

2015 Regular Season Record: 163-93

2016 Regular Season Record: 163-91-2

2017 Regular Season Record: 151-103

2018 Regular Season Record: 150-104-2

 

Top Five Games of the Week

Green Bay @ Chicago – The 2019 regular season opens in Chicago with a classic NFC North rivalry. Coming off a disappointing loss in the playoffs last year, the Bears enter 2019 as the favorite in the NFC North. Green Bay is the mist of a rebuild under new head coach Matt LaFleur. Green Bay won a thriller in the season opener last year on the strength of QB Aaron Rodgers’ second half performance. Tonight, Chicago will have to keep the Packers offense from striking distance in the second half by jumping on them early and getting enough from QB Mitch Trubisky and the offense. I think LB Khalil Mack and the Bears defense will do its job at limiting Rodgers’ chances. Green Bay’s defense will be younger group this year and the Bears offense must be able to take full advantage. Prediction: Bears over Packers

Los Angeles Rams @ Carolina –Last season’s NFC champions will travel across the country on Week 1 to face a team trying to get back to the top of the conference. I think Carolina will be much improved this season because of their additions on defense. That defense will receive a tough test in the season opener in the form of this Rams offense. LA’s defense showed some inconsistency last season but the great play at the line of scrimmage from Aaron Donald and Dante Fowler covers much of that up. QB Cam Newton will be looking to show that he is at 100% but he’ll face a great challenge in the Rams’ pass rush. Newton must find a way to preserve himself from big hits while at the same time putting Carolina in a position to win. That could be tough. Prediction: Rams over Panthers

Kansas City @ Jacksonville – The highlight of this matchup will be the Chiefs offense vs. the Jaguars defense. Kansas City returns in 2019 with an electrifying offense led by the league MVP, QB Patrick Mahomes. Kansas City will be loaded at WR this year with Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and rookie Mecole Hardman. And I’m very interested how Andy Reid will incorporate recently signed veteran RB LeSean McCoy. Jacksonville’s defense disappointed a season ago and they are looking forward to bouncing back this year. A solid group will lead them up front on the defensive line and CB Jalen Ramsey will continue to lead the secondary. Usually a good defense can get the best of a great offense but I think Kansas City just has too many weapons.  Also, there’s a lot of hype surrounding new Jaguars QB Nick Foles but I’m just not buying. Just because he might be better than Blake Bortles, doesn’t mean that he is going to take this offense to the next level. Prediction: Chiefs over Jaguars

Indianapolis @ Los Angeles Chargers – Around this time of year, I find myself believing in the Chargers. They have had a pretty decent roster on paper in the last couple of seasons. That can be said again for 2019 but they received horrible news in the form of Derwin James’ injury. LA should be okay offensively though, even without RB Melvin Gordon. Speaking of absences, many fans are still shocked over the sudden retirement of Colts starting QB Andrew Luck. I think Indy will be a team that will not blink and they will rally around QB Jacoby Brissett. I like the Colts to score the upset on the road. Prediction: Colts over Chargers

Pittsburgh @ New England – QB Tom Brady’s record at home against Pittsburgh has been talked about a lot this week. At home or on the road, New England usually does a good job at owning the Steelers in recent years. The Steelers were constantly in the news this offseason because of the Antonio Brown situation and because they missed the postseason for the first time in 5 years. The Steelers will be so happy to be in the news for an actual game this Sunday though it is against the hated rival, defending Super Bowl champion, Patriots. I’ve said before that New England really didn’t improve during the offseason but since when that has mattered. They still have Brady, Bellichick, and a stingy, bend but don’t break defense. It will also be interesting to see how New England uses WR Josh Gordon. I imagine he’ll replace Rob Gronkowski as Brady’s big target down the field. I believe Pittsburgh will be looking to make a statement in this first regular season game. After an offseason of drama, the time to discuss non-football issues is now over. The Steelers will be looking to highlight WR’s Juju Smith-Schuster and James Washington. And on defense, T.J. Watt and rookie Devin Bush will be in attack mode. It will be a time for celebration for the home team as they raise another Super Bowl banner but I believe the night will be spoiled by a hungry Pittsburgh team. Prediction: Steelers over Patriots

The Rest of Week 1

Titans over Browns – So much for all the hype. I see Tennessee’s defense dominating in a Week 1 shocker.

Ravens over Dolphins – Miami is toothless. I’m looking forward to the Lamar Jackson show in Baltimore.

Vikings over Falcons – Minnesota will be anxious to get 2019 off on a good start.

Jets over Bills – Le’Veon Bell gets 30 touches, as the Jets offense will overwhelm Buffalo at home.

Eagles over Washington – Philadelphia is hyped once again this year. Washington? Quite the opposite.

Seahawks over Bengals – Cincinnati will feel the loss of A.J. Green to start the season. This will be a classic show of home dominance from Seattle.

Cowboys over Giants – These Dallas-NYG games almost always come down to the wire. It would be interesting if that trend continues Sunday as the Cowboys clearly have the better team.

Cardinals over Lions – No one knows what to expect from Kyler Murray, Kliff Kingsbury, and the Arizona offense. I think that might serve as an advantage for them.

49ers over Buccaneers – Jimmy Garropollo will have to come out in 2019 playing at a high level. If not, it could get ugly real quick in the Bay Area.

Saints over Texans – It’s going to be hard for Houston to beat anyone with the state of their offensive line. Too bad that they’ll meet a really good New Orleans team on Monday night.

Broncos over Raiders – The talk on Tuesday after this game will not be about Antonio Brown. It will be about how good Joe Flacco looked.

 

NFL 2019: NFC Preview

Eagles-QB-Carson-Wentz-says-his-back-isnt-fully-healed

If Carson Wentz is healthy, the Eagles could be serious contenders in the NFC this season.

 

By: Elias McMillan

 

NFC EAST

It seems like things will never change in the NFL’s “glamour” division. The NFC East hasn’t seen a repeat champion in 15 seasons and I think that tradition will remain the same in 2019. The Dallas Cowboys have come the closest to bucking that trend as they have won the division three times in the last six seasons. But if you’ve been paying attention to that franchise, you should know that they usually disappoint after a successful season. Usually. If you look on paper, the Philadelphia Eagles probably has the most talent in the division from top to bottom. A lot is going to depend on the play of the QB. Nick Foles almost lifted Philadelphia again in the 2018 postseason, winning on the road in Chicago and almost upsetting New Orleans. With Foles now in Jacksonville, Philly will be depending on Carson Wentz to return to his 2017 form where he was a MVP candidate. He’ll have plenty of help this season as the Eagles are deep at the skill positions. At WR, DeSean Jackson returns to Philly joining Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. The Eagles should have an improved backfield this season as well. They acquired RB Jordan Howard from Chicago and drafted speedster Miles Sanders from Penn State. On defense, DT Fletcher Cox leads a loaded group on the defensive line. Veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins also returns though Philly’s secondary seems to always be a weakness year in and year out. The defending champion Cowboys also return with a talented roster in 2019. A lot of the talk during the offseason with Dallas has been about the contract situations of QB Dak Prescott, WR Amari Cooper, and star RB Ezekiel Elliott. I’m sure all three will get their deals, respectfully, especially Elliott who is easily the most important player on the roster. Despite all the talk about the offensive side of the ball, the real reason why Dallas made a run to the postseason last year was their defense. I think Dallas will be strong defensively again in 2019. LB’s Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch are the cornerstones for this defense right now and for the future. The Cowboys should be able to get after QB’s this season with DE’s Demarcus Lawrence and newcomer Robert Quinn. Dallas needs to find an answer in the middle of their run defense as they absolutely killed them in their playoff loss against the Rams. In the secondary, they have promising young talent. Safety Xavier Woods could have a breakout season. CB Byron Jones made the Pro Bowl last season but he gives up big plays in crucial situations. I don’t see Dallas extending his contract unless his interception numbers improve. He has 2 in four seasons as a pro. If Washington didn’t get derailed by injuries on both sides of the ball last year, they probably would have won the division. They enter the 2019 campaign with holes in their roster due to injuries and losses in free agency. The QB position is still reeling after injuries last season to Alex Smith and Colt McCoy. They may have to lean on Case Keenum to start this season but if he’s shaky, the cries for rookie Dwayne Haskins will get louder. What else might not help is the absence of OT Trent Williams. Without him, it may not even matter who Washington starts at QB. I really liked Washington’s defense at the beginning of last season. I think losing LB Preston Smith will hurt them this year though they did draft a possible replacement in Montez Sweat. Washington has young talent on their defensive line but that unit has to stay healthy this year. The secondary already has CB Josh Norman but they should receive a boost with the addition of safety Landon Collins. No one is expecting much out of the New York Football Giants this year as they lost Collins and Odell Beckham Jr. in the offseason. Surprisingly, QB Eli Manning returns in what should be his swan song. The Giants used their top pick in the draft on QB Daniel Jones from DOOK and I expect that they do plan to play him. The leash on Manning this year should be short. If trading away OBJ wasn’t bad enough, the WR core turned into a complete dumpster fire right as training camp began. Injuries and suspensions will leave the QB’s with not a lot of reliable options in the passing game. RB Saquon Barkley will be tasked with literally carrying this offense. The Giants defense is in full rebuild mode. They could surprise some teams but they have a lot of young and unproven talent. Rookies CB Deandre Baker and DT Dexter Lawrence will have to grow up quickly in their first seasons. Projected Finish: 1) Eagles, 2) Cowboys, 3) Washington, 4) Giants

NFC NORTH

The Chicago Bears had zero buzz entering the 2018 season until they made an acquisition that completely turned their franchise around. Trading for edge rusher Khalil Mack made Chicago into a contender in the NFC and he’s a difference maker that could keep Chicago atop this division for a couple years. Chicago’s defense really didn’t have an identity since Brian Urlacher retired. Now, they feature one of the top front sevens in the league that specializes in getting to the QB. On offense, the Bears will be looking for QB Mitch Trubisky to continue to improve as a down the field passer. The backfield will look different this year, as Jordan Howard was send away to Philly. RB Tarik Cohen could have a breakout season and rookie RB David Montgomery has impressed so far in the preseason. Minnesota will be looking to rebound after a disappointing 2018. QB Kirk Cousins will be forever criticized in the media because of his contract but I believe he’s a much better player than people let on. The emergence of WR Adam Thielen has been a huge help for Cousins and the passing offense. Thielen and Stephon Diggs form one of the top 1-2 punches at receiver in the league. Minnesota is still waiting for RB Dalvin Cook to breakout as he has a ton of ability. The Vikings defense took a step back last season. They’ll be looking to bounce back in 2019 with many returning starters including LB Anthony Barr who almost left in free agency. I think Green Bay is going to go through some growing pains this season as they are rebuilding. Replacing familiar names with young talent could actually workout for them in the long run especially on the defensive side. LB Clay Matthews is gone but free agent signing, LB Preston Smith, is a younger, talented replacement. On offense, everything will be tied to all-world QB Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is still the top passer in the league but the Packers need to do a better job at protecting him, as he isn’t getting younger. WR Davante Adams has solidified himself as one of the best WR in the league and as Rodgers’ top target. Every year it seems like Green Bay will be waiting for somebody to breakout at the RB position. Maybe it will be RB Aaron Jones who scored 9 times last season. In Detroit, it’s looking more and more like the Matt Patricia experiment will be ending soon. This could be a make or break season for him as Detroit has a roster than shouldn’t be in the NFC North basement. I feel bad for QB Matt Stafford who is on his way to being the latest star player to have his career wasted at Ford Field. If Detroit doesn’t have a great season, I wonder if he would try to force his way outta there though it would be hard because of his massive contract. Stafford will have decent talent around him this year. WR Kenny Golladay had a breakout 2018 season and RB’s Kerryon Johnson and C.J. Anderson should be a formable duo in the backfield. I think Detroit’s defense could be good enough to keep the Lions in games this season. They had a top 10 secondary last year and upfront, they added DE Trey Flowers from New England and DT Mike Daniels from Green Bay. I’m not sure what Daniels has left in the tank but I love the revenge factor of him signing with Detroit after being cut by the Packers. Projected Finish: 1) Bears, 2) Vikings, 3) Packers, 4) Lions

NFC SOUTH

In recent years, I have picked the Saints to come out of the NFC because on paper, they appear to have the best or one of the best rosters in the league. The same could be said again going into 2019. The way the Saints’ season ended last year should serve as enough motivation to see the team atop this division again. On offense, they return elite talent at the QB, RB, and WR positions. RB Alvin Kamara will have a new partner in the backfield this year in Latavius Murray. Drew Brees will also have a new weapon in the passing game, TE Jared Cook. New Orleans’ defense was pretty decent last year and I think the addition of DT Malcolm Brown from New England will make them stronger. I think the Carolina Panthers had a great offseason but their success will be tied to the health of QB Cam Newton. If Newton is back to 100%, Carolina could be a sleeper in the NFC. I still think Newton doesn’t have enough help on the offensive side of the ball. RB Christian McCaffrey proved himself to be a legit threat behind the tackles as a runner and as a receiver. WR D.J. Moore needs to have a similar breakout season in 2019. I really like how Carolina improved their defense in the offseason. They have a nice mix of young talent (rookie DE Brian Burns) and veteran leadership (DT Gerald McCoy). The LB group will miss Thomas Davis but they still have Luke Kuechly, Shaq Thompson, and newly acquired veteran Bruce Irvin. The Atlanta Falcons did reach the Super Bowl a few seasons ago but they seem to reach expectations. As long as they have QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones, they are going to put up big numbers. But Ryan isn’t getting enough help from his offensive line. Atlanta addressed that in this past draft but those young blockers are going to have to grow up fast. RB Devonta Freeman returns to the backfield for Atlanta but without Tevin Coleman who left in free agency. Atlanta defense has been seen as a weak point on this team but they do have great individual talents in LB Deion Jones and edge rusher Vic Beasley. Tampa Bay has a long way to go in order to be competitive in this division again. But I really like the hiring of new head coach Bruce Arians. Him and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich will be tasked with saving the career of QB Jameis Winston who is running out of favor in the organization. Winston still has the tools to be a successful QB in this league but he hasn’t been able to put it all together. Hopefully, the coaching change will help.  The reliable WR Mike Evans returns to provide big plays in the passing game. Tampa also resigned OT Donovan Smith to help keep Winston upright. Tampa’s defense is going through a transition, marked by the sudden release of long time Buccaneer, Gerald McCoy. They added veteran Ndamukong Suh to the defensive line but the real newcomer to look for will be rookie LB Devin White. I would be surprised if this Tampa team won a lot in 2019 but this season will be really all about fixing Jameis Winston. Because if they are picking high in next year’s draft, they probably be looking for a new QB. Projected Finish: 1) Saints, 2) Panthers, 3) Falcons, 4) Buccaneers

NFC WEST

The LA Rams made a surprise run to the Super Bowl last season and they could be in line for a return visit. QB Jared Goff will look to keep improving and the return of WR Cooper Kupp from injury should help. Kupp will return to an already talented group at WR that includes Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods. RB Todd Gurley is the real engine that keeps this Rams offense running. His health has been concerning recently but if healthy, he’s the best back in football. The Rams have the best defensive lineman in football in DT Aaron Donald. On the edge, they traded for DE Dante Fowler late last season and that move paid off greatly for LA. He returns to a Rams defensive line that should be the tops in the NFC. The Rams also added a pair of veterans on defense looking to prove that they still got it: LB Clay Matthews and safety Eric Weddle. Last season, we learned that no matter how many faces change on both sides of the ball in Seattle, they’ll always have a chance with QB Russell Wilson behind center. Wilson will be without reliable target Doug Baldwin this year but he will be expecting big things from rookie WR DK Metcalf. Outside of Metcalf, WR Tyler Lockett proved to be a playmaker in the offense last season. On defense, Seattle traded away their best pass rusher in the offseason. They’re going to need someone on the defensive line to step up. The strength of Seattle’s defense is still intact as long as they have LB Bobby Wagner in the middle. San Francisco has accumulated so much young talent in recent years, I feel like they could be a surprise team this season. A lot is going to depend on the play of QB Jimmy Garoppolo who has not looked great so far in preseason. San Fran is also really missing a big play WR. In the backfield, they are loaded with returning starter Matt Breida and free agent signee Tevin Coleman. I think this 49ers team has promise because of their defense. They acquired DE Dee Ford from Kansas City and picked up the top pass rusher in the draft, Nick Bosa. If the 49ers do one thing well this year on defense, it will be getting after the QB. San Fran also signed LB Kwon Alexander who was a playmaker in Tampa Bay. I’m not sure what CB Richard Sherman has left in the tank but it would be nice if this defense saw contributions from him in the secondary this season. Arizona is starting back at square one this season after firing their head coach after one year. They brought in Kliff Kingsbury to coach the team despite having zero NFL experience and they drafted a talented young QB first overall who will be tasked with fixing an offense that was pretty bad last season. This experiment in Arizona is going to be a great success or a great disaster. QB Kyler Murray will have enough veteran help around him in WR Larry Fitzgerald and RB David Johnson. Great pass rushers, Chandler Jones and newcomer Terrell Suggs will headline Arizona’s defense. I like the addition of LB Jordan Hicks who made a lot of big plays in Philadelphia. CB Patrick Peterson returns to the secondary, which was one of the best in football a season ago. Arizona will be hurt without Peterson as he will be suspended for the first 6 games of the season. Projected Finish: 1) Rams, 2) Seahawks, 3) 49ers, 4) Cardinals