Tag Archives: Adam Thielen

NFL 2020: NFC Preview

TeflonTommy

After ruling one conference, Teflon Tommy arrives in Tampa looking to leave his mark on the NFC.

By: Elias McMillan

NFC

NFC East

It’s August and I’m feeling good about the upcoming season for the Dallas Cowboys. I know that when you just read that, your mind was screaming “Noooo. It’s a trap!” But really, I have no problem saying this about Dallas and setting myself up for a major disappointment. Why? Because why not. It is not out of the realm of possibilities to think this. The Cowboys return the number one offense in the NFL. They can certainly run it with Ezekiel Elliott. And Dak Prescott ran an improved passing attack, which added the best WR in CFB. Will the defense hold them back again? We’ll things could be different this time around. Major changes to the defensive line and a Bryon Jones-less, turnover-hungry approach in the secondary would make things even easier for Dak and the offense. But this hype has fallen short time and time again. What if the defense doesn’t improve? What if the offensive line starts to decline? Injuries? Etc. I’m just saying that it looks like new head coach Mike McCarthy has done his due diligence (including drafting extremely well this past April) so I’m expecting this team to win many regular season games. I’m not sure what that means for the playoffs. I feel confident saying that Philadelphia will be next to Dallas in terms of competition in the NFC East. Where Philly lacks in talent they make up for it with grit and toughness, which got them to the playoffs last year.  QB Carson Wentz returns still looking to regain that 2017 form while playing well enough to keep rookie QB Jalen Hurts on the bench. RB Miles Sanders could have a big year as the Eagles “A1” option in the backfield. The Eagles have many questions at wide out but they hope rookie Jalen Reagor can provide some answers. On defense, Philly features a beastly front led by Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, and newcomer Javon Hargrave. CB Darius Slay comes over from Detroit to a secondary that lost Malcolm Jenkins in the offseason. The Washington Football Team may not have a mascot (yet), but they quietly have a nice collection of young talent. Their QB situation is intriguing. QB Dwayne Haskins is looking to fully grasp the starting spot but veteran Alex Smith is also in the mix after rehabbing a gruesome leg injury. Also lost in all the QB talk, how different the offensive line will look without Trent Williams. In the backfield, they had to release one of their younger guys but the remarkable Adrian Peterson, at age 35, may be a player for Washington to rely on. WR “Scary” Terry McLaurin looks to continue his success from his rookie year. Washington has a talented defensive line and even more so now with the addition of DE Chase Young who is said to be the best overall player in the draft. I don’t see the New York Giants winning many games this year. QB Daniel Jones won a game last year at Tampa and the media immediately crowned him. I mean, he did show promise last season but let’s relax. I don’t think he has proven anything yet. The only thing proven about this offense is RB Saquon Barkley. On defense, there’s nothing to be exciting about. It’s just a mixture of mid-level veterans and unproven young guys. It’s going to be a rough year for football in New York.

Playoff Teams in CAPS Projected Finish: 1) DALLAS, 2) Philadelphia, 3) Washington, 4) New York Giants

NFC North

In 2020, Minnesota won’t look too different than a season ago. Which means, on paper, they’ll still have the best roster in the NFC North. QB Kirk Cousins is coming off a good year and the Vikings offense will also welcome back stars like RB Dalvin Cook, WR Adam Thielen, and TE Kyle Rudolph. They traded away WR Stephon Diggs but they drafted a possible replacement in Justin Jefferson. The Vikings will look different upfront defensively this year without Everson Griffen but they’ll feature DE Danielle Hunter who is one the best at his position. Once again, Anthony Barr will lead a talented group at LB. Many changes at the CB position but the Vikings do offer one of the top safety tandems in the league with Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris. It’s almost forgettable that the Packers made the NFC Championship last season. But they were in the position to help their cause in the off season through the draft but they chose not to. I’m guessing that the front office is thinking that the team will be good as long as they have QB Aaron Rodgers though they drafted his possible replacement in the first round. WR DeVante Adams is really good but that stands out even more because Green Bay doesn’t have a reliable second option. I think RB Aaron Jones has proven himself and I’m intrigued to see rookie A.J. Dillon. Green Bay’s defense isn’t all that great but they have two great players in LB Preston and Za’Darius Smith. Chicago is a team with many talented players but I don’t feel so confident about their chances this year. QB Mitch Trubisky has struggled and now he is pretty much playing to keep his starting job as the front office brought in Nick Foles in the offseason. I thought RB Tarik Cohen would break out last year but that didn’t happen. David Montgomery grabbed the reigns of the running duties in the backfield but he may have some injury issues. I do really like Chicago’s WR core. It’s a nice mix of young players and veterans like Allen Robinson. The Bears will have a great pass rush as long as they have LB Khalil Mack and even more so this year with Robert Quinn joining on. The Bears have another playmaker on defense. Safety Eddie Jackson has emerged and earned himself a big contract extension. The Lions will have a decent roster this year but I don’t think they’ll be good enough to contend for the playoffs. QB Matt Stafford returns from injury looking to re-establish himself as one of the better passers in the NFL. They’ll have a nice mix at RB with Kerryon Johnson and rookie D’Andre Smith. Stafford will also have the weapons at WR with Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. On defense, Detroit’s front in a work in progress, which is why they brought in Danny Shelton from New England. They are surprisingly talented at the LB position. Jarrad Davis, Christian Jones, and Jamie Collins are all good players. The secondary will be without Darius Slay, putting the spotlight solely on first round pick Jeff Okudah from Ohio State.

Playoff Teams in CAPS Projected Finish: 1) MINNESOTA, 2) GREEN BAY, 3) Chicago, 4) Detroit

NFC South

This division could be defined by the play at the quarterback position. The Saints have had the best overall roster in recent history but they haven’t been able to turn that into post-season gold. New Orleans will return their usual suspects on offense with Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, and Alvin Karmara. The Saints are equipped with reinforcements at the offensive skills positions even at QB with Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill.  New Orleans returns most of their starters on defense and they brought back Malcolm Jenkins as a veteran presence in the secondary. The most hyped team in this division is one that signed Tom Brady in the off-season. Tampa Bay had a productive offense a season ago but expectations will be even higher with Brady, who also brought along TE Rob Gronkowski. It was already enough that this offense features Mike Evans and Chris Godwin at WR. There will also be much intrigue in the backfield with the returning Ronald Jones and newcomer veteran LeSean McCoy. My question with this team is if the defense can be good enough to keep the opposing team off the scoreboard. Upfront, Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea can eat up enough blockers to free up playmaking LB’s Devin White and Shaquil Barrett. But that secondary struggled last season. Rookie safety Antoine Winfield Jr. could be a player that would help that situation. Atlanta will be under the radar once again this season. The stability that QB Matt Ryan has brought to this franchise doesn’t get talked about enough. Atlanta’s offense is really about how dominant WR Julio Jones can be on any given Sunday afternoon. RB Todd Gurley comes home looking to prove that he can stay healthy. On defense, DT Grady Jarrett is the main disrupter on the line of scrimmage and LB Dion Jones is also a big playmaker. Carolina will be rebuilding after firing their head coach, bringing in an inexperienced hire, and going through a messy divorce with the franchise’s most visible player. Now at QB, Teddy Bridgewater is finally betting on himself after a history of being injured in Minnesota and learning from Drew Brees in New Orleans. He’ll be greatly assisted in the backfield by RB Christian McCaffery who is one of the most electrifying players in the league. Bridgewater’s options at WR don’t sound exciting but they do have D.J. Moore and veteran Robby Anderson. The Panthers are going to be really young defensively this year. I like who they added in the draft on their defensive line. LB Shaq Thompson takes over as the leader of this defense after years of playing along side of Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis.

Playoff Teams in CAPS Projected Finish: 1) NEW ORLEANS, 2) TAMPA BAY, 3) Atlanta, 4) Carolina

NFC West

So, there’s always a surprise team that breaks out and goes from last place to first. I think that team will come from this division. Seattle and San Francisco have been battling for supremacy in the NFC West more recently but in 2020 I think it will be the Arizona Cardinals who will make a huge leap. QB Kyler Murray flashed potential last year and earned Rookie of the Year honors. I think this season he’ll continue to show improvement and in result, Arizona will be in contention. What is really going to help Murray this year is newcomer WR DeAndre Hopkins. After being casted off by Houston, Hopkins will be looking to show what everyone else knows, that he is one of the best WR in football. In a division with so many great defenses, I think the Cardinals will be able to say that they are among them. The group they have at LB is among the best in the league. They have a premiere pass rusher in Chandler Jones and multiple veterans at the LB position who are going to help mold their top pick in the draft, Isaiah Simmons. If Simmons can accumulate quickly to the pro game, this defense is going to be scary as he is a player who can make an impact as a rusher or in coverage. The Cardinals have had issues with pass coverage but they return veteran CB Patrick Peterson and free safety Budda Baker. The 49ers will be looking to repeat as conference champs this season. Embattled QB Jimmy Garoppolo is back as he is still trying to solidify himself as one of the league’s top passers. San Fran returns tons of depth in the backfield but not at WR where they are already suffering from many injuries. Rookie WR Brandon Aiyuk maybe thrown into the spotlight early in his career. Garoppolo will be able to count on TE George Kittle who is at the top in his position in the NFL. The Niners had a great defense a season ago but there will be changes this year. DeForest Bunkner was traded away from a talented group at defensive line that includes Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead. Rookie DT Javon Kinlaw will most likely fit right in with this group, as he was a highly disruptive force at South Carolina. The 49ers also have a productive group at LB as Fred Warner has been able to develop nicely. I like play in this secondary doesn’t matter much when you have such a dominant front four but loudmouth CB Richard Sherman will lead that group if he can continue to stay healthy. Seattle will stay in the mix in this division as long as they have QB Russell Wilson. Seattle will however be a run heavy offense this year, which means plenty of RB Chris Carson. The Seahawks don’t really have a “No.1” at WR but they’ll return Tyler Lockett who gained over 1,000 yards in 2019. We shouldn’t sleep on DK Metcalf who definitely has potential. I’m sure what TE Greg Olsen has to offer because he just can’t stay off the injured list. On defense, Seattle made a big splash trading for safety Jamal Adams. He joins a secondary that surprisingly struggled last year. Seattle will be tough in the middle of that defense with LB Bobby Wagner roaming around. In Los Angeles, the Rams will open up a new stadium hoping to mark the beginning of a new era for the franchise. I think the Rams have some talented players but as a whole, their roster doesn’t match up in this division. QB Jared Goff is criticized because of his contract but he’s an okay player. Todd Gurley is no longer in the backfield but the combo of Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson wasn’t too bad in his absence. I think rookie RB Cam Akers is going to be the breakout star for this offense. At WR, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods are a decent duo. Really, this team only has two great players and they’re both of defense. DT Aaron Donald is beastly and CB Jalen Ramsey talks a lot but usually can back it up. I think the Rams will finish last in this division but probably with a 8-8 record. They wont be a terrible football team. I just think the other three teams in the division have a lot more talent.

Playoff Teams in CAPS Projected Finish: 1) ARIZONA, 2) SAN FRANCISCO, 3) Seattle, 4) L.A. Rams

NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round Predictions

Wild Card Round - Buffalo Bills v Houston Texans

The Texans won in Kansas City earlier this season. Can they do it again in the playoffs?

 

By: Elias McMillan

Wild-Card: 2-2

Playoffs: 2-2

Divisional Round

Minnesota @ San Francisco – I was really impressed with the Vikings’ defensive line in their upset victory over New Orleans last weekend. In fact, this divisional round game between the Vikings and 49ers will be heavily influenced by the play at the line of scrimmage. San Francisco has bolstered a pretty dominant unit up front all season and they’ll have a chance to really exert their power in this game. QB Kirk Cousins avoided mistakes last weeks and made some pretty big throws. He will be under pressure again this week but I think past experiences will help him. I think Minnesota’s experiences in the post season will help them on Saturday. Many players on San Francisco will be making their playoff debuts. Everyone usually puts a spotlight on Cousins but I think Jimmy Garoppolo is the QB under the most pressure this weekend. Minnesota’s defense has been inconsistent but if they play like they did in New Orleans, the Vikings will be in this one. RB Dalvin Cook could see plenty of opportunities in this game, which will help Cousins against a top ranked pass defense. The 49ers have taken on all challengers this season but recently, they’ve been able to escape in some close games by the skin of their teeth. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said something this week about the last time they defeated New Orleans in the playoffs and came back the next week and laid a total egg in Philadelphia. That message will be hammered into his team this week and I think it will pay off as they will score the upset and advance to the NFC Championship Game. Prediction: Vikings over 49ers

Tennessee @ Baltimore – Tennessee didn’t have to do much to end the Patriots reign last week. But getting the job done in Foxboro shouldn’t be scoffed at. The Titans have a good thing going right now with the way they can control the clock with RB Derrick Henry which in return sets up the league’s highest rated passer, Ryan Tannehill. That formula will have to work overtime this week, as the Titans will face the league’s top offense in the Baltimore Ravens. League MVP Lamar Jackson should be fresh coming off the bye and his offense will be able to attack the Titans defense in a way that New England couldn’t do last week.  This game will be all about which offense can control the clock as both teams feature highly successful running games. I think the difference will be which offense can produce more big plays down the field. The Titans cannot sleep on what Lamar Jackson’s arm can do. Also, you have to consider that Jackson has a talent group of skill players on offense to go to. I have a feeling that Tennessee might be able to keep this one close to start but eventually Jackson and Ravens will overwhelm them. Prediction: Ravens over Titans

Houston @ Kansas City – The Texans pulled off a great comeback in the Wild Card round against Buffalo. I don’t think they can afford another slow start this weekend, as they’ll visit the Chiefs in Kansas City. Houston showed against Buffalo that when pressed, their biggest stars can make game altering plays. On offense, QB Deshaun Watson proved his worth during crunch time and on defense, it was J.J. Watt who provided the spark. The Chiefs are a team that can apply pressure for all 4 quarters, offensively and defensively. QB Patrick Mahomes and his fast break offense should be able to stretch the field against the Texans defense. Kansas City isn’t a great defensive team but they do have an active front four along with a tough secondary. The Chiefs have had problems with injuries this season and it is something that they will have to continue to avoid during this post season run. If the offensive weapons are rested and healthy, Houston is going to have a tough time keeping them off the scoreboard. Houston defeated KC earlier this season and I’m sure the home team hasn’t forgotten about that. Unlike that game in Week 6, the Chiefs will need to get off on a fast start and keep the Texans offense on the bench. Prediction: Chiefs over Texans

Seattle @ Green Bay – This game will be pretty to look at. A cold and snowy Lambeau Field will set the scene for two teams that are usually mainstays in the NFC playoffs. Seattle was able to get by a wounded Eagles team last week and they didn’t earn any style points with that victory. With better QB play, Philadelphia might have been able to pull that one out. Seattle is currently having issues with scoring touchdowns, which may have to do with their injury situation. It’s cool that RB Marshawn Lynch is back but even he admits that he is not in game shape. QB Russell Wilson will have to do the heavy lifting for this Seahawks offense but how is that different from any other season? Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is used to putting the team on his back as well but this season, his supporting cast isn’t that bad. In this cold weather game, I’m expecting big things out of RB’s Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. I think the Packers running game will have a huge affect on the outcome in this one and it will allow Aaron Rodgers to control the clock and take some big shots down the field. Seattle’s defense is talented but they really got off easy last week. If their front four can’t get in the face of Rodgers, it could be a long, cold night for that unit. I’ve been mostly unimpressed with the Packers this season but I think they matchup well against Seattle. Russell Wilson has never won in Green Bay and on Sunday, the Packers will set the scene for a NFC North Championship game for the conference title and a Super Bowl berth. Prediction: Packers over Seahawks

 

 

NFL 2018: Week 15 Predictions (Condensed Version)

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Tom Brady makes his yearly pilgrimage to Pittsburgh this Sunday.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 9-7

Season: 118-88-2

Week 15 Picks

Chiefs over Chargers – Kansas City hasn’t let success go to their head. I was impressed with the way the fought back last week against a quality opponent. The Chargers will give them a tough challenge but KC is usually tough at home.

Texans over Jets – Houston finally lost last week. They should be able to bounce back against a bad Jets team but you never know. I didn’t expect New York to win last week on the road.

Broncos over Browns – This one will be a surprisingly competitive game as both teams are holding on to slim post season hopes.

Falcons over Cardinals – Boring.

Bills over Lions – Buffalo wasn’t suppose to lose last week at home. They usually have a really fun looking home game in the snow where they play amazingly well. Maybe it will be this week.

Bears over Packers – Chicago really impressed me last week with the way they shut down the Rams offense. They take joy in ending Aaron Rodgers’ season at home.

Raiders over Bengals – Maybe Cincinnati will fire Marvin Lewis for real this time.

Colts over Cowboys – This one is a toss up. I’m not sure how good this Colts team is and Dallas has received many breaks during their 5 game winning streak. Indy is fighting to have a chance at the playoffs while Dallas pretty much has to win just one of their last three games to clinch the division. I think Indy will be the hungrier team on Sunday. Dallas may have to start thinking about being healthy for that wild-card game.

Vikings over Dolphins – Minnesota fired their offensive coordinator this week so the pressure on their offense to show some life this weekend. If not, this Miami team is confident enough with Ryan Tannehill back in the fold to score a road upset.

Giants over Titans – If New York presses Tennessee for four quarters and tackles Derrick Henry, the Titans will roll over.

Jaguars over Washington – If you have the Jacksonville defense on your fantasy team, they are a MUST start.

Ravens over Buccaneers – Despite the loss in Kansas City last week, the Lamar Jackson era is here in Baltimore. The Ravens defense is really going to have to flex at home against one of the better offenses in the league.

Seahawks over 49ers – Seattle may be the most dangerous team in the NFC right now.

Steelers over Patriots – Pittsburgh has two tough opponents left on their schedule and they are going to have to beat one of them to make the post season. I bet it will be this Sunday against a familiar opponent. Everyone likes to beat on how bad the Pittsburgh defense is playing currently but remember: New England’s defense is also pretty bad. If Pittsburgh avoids mistakes and plays like the more desperate team, which they are, they should win on Sunday.

Rams over Eagles – Carson Wentz may not play Sunday, which tells me that that Philadelphia is mailing it in. LA’s offense should be able to rebound after last week against a wounded Eagles secondary.

Saints over Panthers – If Carolina loses out after starting 6-2, does Ron Rivera get canned?

NFL 2018: Week 13 Predictions

michaelthomasweek12

Michael Thomas and the Saints have won 10 straight. They’ll look to make it 11 tonight.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 14-1

Season: 99-75-2

Big Five Games of the Week

New Orleans @ Dallas – The Saints haven’t looked back since their Week 1 loss. They’ve been able to pull off 10 straight victories while looking like the team to beat in the NFC. The Cowboys looked dead in the water a month ago. Now, they are winners of three straight and are suddenly in the driver’s seat in the NFC East. I don’t think Dallas is in the same class as New Orleans this season but I think they’ll at least have a fighting chance tonight against them at home. The Cowboys have a tough defense that will be put to the test tonight by the passing attack of Drew Brees. New Orleans has been able to hide their defense with what they are able to do offensively but are lacking a bit in their secondary. I don’t think Dak Prescott is going to be able to beat them with his arm though. The Cowboys will have to control the clock and let Ezekiel Elliott dictate the pace of the game. The Cowboys offensive line is still banged up and the Saints have the talent up front to possibly give them plenty of problems tonight. I think Dallas will keep it competitive at the least but the Saints should prove to be better. Winner: Saints

Baltimore @ Atlanta – The Falcons are on the verge of packing it in this season. Baltimore has a defense capable of winning games for them but currently they are receiving great support from the other side of the ball. Rookie QB Lamar Jackson is still learning on the job but he has led this offense during two straight victories. Atlanta is the team that needs this win more on Sunday but Baltimore is playing better right now. Winner: Ravens

Minnesota @ New England – Minnesota has been pretty average this season. They are able to show flashes of greatness on both sides of the ball but they don’t look like the team from last year. New England has once again sleep walked to the top of their division but now its their time to start playing well to prepare for bigger challenges down the road. I think the Vikings best chance to win this one on the road is to unleash that pass rush onto Tom Brady. New England’s offense is getting healthy at the right time with the return of TE Rob Gronkowski and RB Rex Burkhead. Thinking of the RB position, the Patriots look like they may have a legit run game this year with the emergence of rookie RB Sony Michel. As usual, New England has a very beatable defense but Kirk Cousins has been on the wrong end of some mistakes recently. I’ll take the Pats at home. Winner: Patriots

LA Chargers @ Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh hasn’t been sharp in a few weeks so last week’s loss in Denver wasn’t all that surprising. The Chargers were able to respond from a loss against Denver last week. They looked really impressive against Arizona especially offensively. QB Phillip Rivers is coming off one of his best games as a pro and he’ll look to keep that momentum going this Sunday in Pittsburgh. I think Rivers will be able to attack this Steelers defense through the air with much success if he is able to have time in the pocket. Pittsburgh’s ability to get to the QB could be a determining factor in this game. The Chargers defense has been inconsistent this season but they are getting healthy at the right time. The Steelers have so many weapons on offense and I think Chargers will have their hands full trying to account for them all. A great performance at home from the QB (Roethlisberger) will make last week’s mistakes a distant memory. Winner: Steelers

Washington @ Philadelphia – Huge game for both teams. This is pretty much an elimination game for Philadelphia. The Eagles looked like they could have dropped last week against the Giants but they were able to fight back for a late victory. The Eagles are just not playing well right now and the injuries are starting to pile up on defense. Washington is still capable, I think, to play well defensively but I don’t know if they can get enough from their offense with Colt McCoy behind center. The Eagles are going to need QB Carson Wentz to raise the level of his offense on Monday night and provide some big plays against a tough Washington defense. If not, this one could get ugly quick. Winner: Eagles

The Rest of Week 13

Broncos over Bengals – Denver has won two straight and have a favorable schedule down the stretch. Cincinnati is packing it in with Andy Dalton out.

Rams over Lions – LA should be well rested for this one.

Packers over Cardinals – Arizona is bad and Green Bay is undefeated at home.

Dolphins over Bills – Ryan Tannehill played decent last week.

Bears over Giants – I’m worried about the Mitch Trubisky injury.

Panthers over Buccaneers – Carolina has lost three straight so they need this one to stay in the playoff race.

Colts over Jaguars – Indy’s chances for the post season are starting to look better each week.

Texans over Browns – Houston can’t lose and they also have a favorable schedule down the stretch.

Titans over Jets – Tennessee has slim playoff hopes and they fight Sunday to keep them alive at home.

Chiefs over Raiders – The most important thing here for Kansas City is to stay healthy.

Seahawks over 49ers – Seattle should roll at home.

 

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Deshaun Watson (Texans) – Watson’s big play ability should be in full display against the Cleveland secondary.

RB: Phillip Lindsay (Broncos) – Denver’s running game should have a field day against Cincinnati.

WR: Tyreek Hill (Chiefs) – Hill will run circles around Oakland’s secondary.

TE: Jordan Reed (Washington) – Washington is going to need big plays in the passing game to beat Philadelphia. Reed should get plenty of looks.

DEF: Indianapolis – The state of Jacksonville’s offense should allow Indy’s defense to strive on Sunday.

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 Playoffs: 2018 Conference Championship Sunday Predictions!

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In the AFC, the Jacksonville Jaguars are looking to “steal the show”.

By Elias McMillan

 

Divisional Round: 2-2

Playoffs: 3-5

Conference Championship Sunday

AFC Championship Game

Jacksonville @ New England – The Jacksonville Jaguars are looking like the 2000 Baltimore Ravens right now. The Jaguars went into Pittsburgh last Sunday and punked a Steeler team that may have been over looking them. Jacksonville took it too Pittsburgh and didn’t let up. I was impressed with how QB Blake Bortles ran the offense against a shorthanded Pittsburgh defense. The Steelers scored 42 points and their QB threw for a bunch of yards but don’t buy into those numbers. Jacksonville got off to a 21-0 start and Pittsburgh was just playing catch up for the entire game. I don’t think the stat sheet tells the story of how good the Jaguars defense is. The Jaguars have one more hurdle in their Cinderella Super Bowl run: the New England Patriots. New England survived a sort of slow start against Tennessee last Saturday and was able to put their opponent away in the 2nd half. The Patriots will be hosting yet another AFC Championship game but this one could be a much greater challenge in comparison to past recent years. The Patriots are great again this season for all the same reasons. They have QB Tom Brady. He leads an offense that can score a lot of points when called upon. No one can cover TE Rob Gronkowski. The defense isn’t great but they over achieve at times. And they are lead by a master football mind in Bill Belichick. Despite all of this, like in season’s past, I still feel that the Patriots are very beatable. In terms of this Sunday, Jacksonville matches up well against them. To stop the Patriots offense, you better have a defense that can rattle the QB. Jacksonville has strong play up front. They have excellent LBs. And their secondary is usually good despite giving up all those yards last week. Brady may also be dealing with a bum hand so, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is tough sledding for the New England offense. Bortles played a game last week where he wasn’t going to be the reason why Jacksonville would lose. I’m not sure if the Jaguars offense will be able to be so successful this week. I think they were aided by the absence of LB Ryan Shazier. I said earlier that New England’s defense is suspect but they did defend the run quite well last week and Tennessee was barely able to get into the end zone for the second time until after the game was out of reach. Despite how well the Jacksonville defense may play, they will still need the offense to score points and I don’t think I trust them to perform well enough again in two straight weeks on the road. The brain trust in New England is still strong and I believe the offense will find a way to consistently get down the field. I think Gronkowski and the different RB’s from out the backfield may create some bad matchup for Brady to exploit. New England is the safe pick. No picked Jacksonville last week and I think they have a real chance to shock everyone again. But I’m not brave enough to pick it. Business as usual in the AFC. Prediction: Patriots 30 – Jaguars 22

NFC Championship Game

Minnesota @ Philadelphia – The Eagles did a great job at home last week grinding out a victory against Atlanta. I shouldn’t have been as shocked that the Falcons under performed, again, but I feel they still could have won that game at the end. It came down to Julio Jones miss timing on a jump ball in the end zone. Julio Jones. Not some rookie. Regardless, we have to give Philadelphia’s defense credit for limiting Atlanta’s scoring chances. They will now host the NFC Championship game on Sunday against a Minnesota team that is coming off a miracle victory. As awesome was Minnesota’s triumph was last Sunday, the Vikings have to erase it from their memory and focus up on the task at hand. Both of these teams are very similar. They both offer good defenses, solid running games, and receivers that are capable to creating big plays down the field. Its hard for me to read how good Case Keenum is but he has done a great job at running this offense this season. He could be the difference in this game because honestly, I’m not expecting much form Nick Foles. Foles didn’t make any mistakes last week but he will face a much tougher defense in this game. Minnesota and Philadelphia both have solid defenses but I think I’ll give a slight edge to the Vikings. They are much younger at key positions and I believe that they have a stronger secondary than Philly’s. I think Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen will have their chances to make plays if Keenum is able to stand in the pocket. Playing at home will definitely serve as an advantage for the birds but I think Minnesota has the better team on paper. Honestly, this game is a toss up. I’m not sure how strongly I feel about it but I like Minnesota to end their misery in conference championship games and therefor becoming the first team to advance to the Super Bowl in their host city. Prediction: Vikings 26 – Eagles 20