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NFL 2017: Week 7 Predictions!

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

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 8-6

Season: 50-41

Big Five Games of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

The Rest of Week 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

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NFL 2016: Week 15 Predictions!

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Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers are ready for the bright lights of Jerry World.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 8-8

Season: 128-78-2

Big Five Games of the Week

Tennessee @ Kansas City – The Titans won a game last week at home against Denver and it was one that they absolutely needed. Tennessee is still tied along the top of the AFC South and their playoff hopes remain to be very real. They will have a tough task this week on the road at Kansas City. The Chiefs are coming off of some extra rest days after taking care of Oakland last Thursday night. Kansas City’s confidence is sky high and they are looking to take control of the AFC West heading towards the playoffs. Kansas City’s defense will provide a tough test for Tennessee’s offense. RB’s DeMarco Murray and rookie Derrick Henry will have their hands full with the Chiefs front 7. QB Marcus Mariota will struggle to find big plays this week going up against KC’s secondary. The Titan defense did a great job last week limiting Denver’s scoring chances. I think Alex Smith will continue to move the football this week, as he seems to play better at home. I think Tennessee has a legit chance at making the playoffs even without winning their division. But I also think they will definitely lose this week. Prediction: Chiefs 26 – Titans 17

Indianapolis @ Minnesota – The Colts’ playoff chances are starting to dwindle. After dropping a huge one last week at home to divisional rival Houston, Andrew Luck and company will now have to travel to Minnesota to face one of the toughest defenses in the league. Minnesota is still fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive. This game on Sunday is sort of an elimination game. Minnesota has dealt with injuries all season but they have been able to lean on their defense to score some huge victories. This will have to be the case this Sunday. The Colts get their strength from their offense. WR T.Y. Hilton is among the league leaders in receiving this season but he’ll face a stiff task this week in CB Xavier Rhodes and the Vikings secondary. Minnesota’s defensive front seven is tough as well and they will make things hard for RB Frank Gore. The Colts defense was starting to play better but then, their starting middle LB got suspended last week for the season. Houston’s running game took advantage of that last week and the Vikings might be able to do the same even though Adrian Peterson isn’t quite ready yet to return. Minnesota will need this game and that will make next week’s matchup with the Packers even bigger. Prediction: Vikings 23 – Colts 20

Detroit @ New York Giants – Despite only scoring 10 points last week, it was enough for the Giants to end the Dallas win streak and they are brimming with confidence in December. The Giants still have plenty of issues but sweeping the rival Cowboys is a great feather to have in ones cap this season. The Giants still have work to do to get to the playoffs and this week’s game at home against the Lions, another 9-win team, will be huge for them. QB Matt Stafford’s dislocated finger on his throwing hand is a potentially huge development. Stafford is said to be okay and plans to play the rest of the year with the injury but we have to wonder what effects will come from that. The chess match between the Lions passing game and the Giants secondary might tilt this entire contest. I’m think that the Lions might be able to lean on their defense in this game. The Giants cant run the ball and Eli Manning has been mistake prone lately. I feel like the only thing that the Lions have to do is to make sure that WR Odell Beckham Jr doesn’t single handedly win the game for New York like he did last week. I’m going out on a limb here but I say that the Lions will upset the Giants on the road. Detroit really needs this one to keep Green Bay and Minnesota at bay in terms of the NFC North. Even with a loss, the Giants might still be a sure bet to make the post season. Prediction: Lions 21 – Giants 20

New England @ Denver – This game kinda lost its luster with no Peyton Manning in the fold for Denver. I’m sure that CBS will see that when the ratings come out after the game. Denver is in serious trouble. They have a brutal three game stretch to end the season and their playoff chances right now are looking bleak. I didn’t think they would lose last week on the road at Tennessee but now they really have their backs up against the wall. New England looks like the most impressive team in the AFC right now. Tom Brady is Tom Brady. New England’s backfield has all of their weapons healthy and playing at a high level. And we are starting to learn the names of the new defensive stars on this team. I didn’t quite understand why the Patriots would trade away Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins but last week on MNF, we saw how they are just able reload their defense with young talent. Denver’s offense is in a rut and I don’t think New England will let them out of it. Denver still have a really good defense and they will have to be the ones to keep the Broncos in this contest. If Von Miller looks the way he did the last time the Patriots came to town, Denver might have a good chance at winning this game. I think Bill Belichick will use last years AFC Championship game as motivation this week and the Patriots will be better prepared for Denver’s pass rush. I think there will be too much on the plate for Denver’s defense. I like the Brady bunch to score a road victory this week. Prediction: Patriots 24 – Broncos 16

Tampa Bay @ Dallas – NBC could not resist milking the Dallas Cowboys ratings machine one more time before the playoffs. The 11 game Cowboys win streak was snapped on the road last week in New York. Despite a valiant effort by the defense, especially by LB Sean Lee, the Cowboys only scored 7 points and the passing offense struggled. The Cowboys return back home this week to face a suddenly hot Tampa Bay team that has won 5 straight and are looking to keep pace with Atlanta in the NFC South. Tampa’s recent turnaround has been part due by their defense. Tampa is strong upfront and DT Gerald McCoy leads them. Rookie DE Noah Spence is starting to make his mark as a pass rusher. Tampa’s secondary has been making big plays late recently. Tampa also has a lot going for them on offense. QB Jameis Winston and his great weapon in the pass game, WR Mike Evans, have been giving opposing defenses a lot to deal with recently. Tampa’s run game has gotten stronger with the return of RB Doug Martin. Tampa has momentum on their side going into the biggest game for the Bucs in a while. Despite that, Dallas is really upset about how last week went down and they will be chopping at the bit to start a new win streak this week. QB Dak Prescott is starting to cool down significantly from his hot start to the season. Prescott and the passing game will have to bring the goods early in this one. I feel that the scenario of Prescott getting the hook for Tony Romo may become a real thing. Getting big plays out from the WR’s is important but for this team, the running game is more important. I think we will see the Cowboys offensive line oppose its will on the young Tampa defense on Sunday night. Ezekiel Elliott will remain everyone that he is a legit MVP candidate. And if the Dallas defense can play like it did last week, Tampa and the rest of the NFC will be in big trouble. I see a bounce back, statement game from Dallas happening on Sunday night. Prediction: Cowboys 27 – Buccaneers 20

The Rest of Week 15

Seahawks over Rams – Jeff Fisher was finally fired this week. Seattle’s uniforms will be really bright. That’s all I got.

Dolphins over Jets – QB Matt Moore was brought back to Miami for this reason. He will have to be the one to keep Miami’s playoff chances floating this week.

Bills over Browns – Buffalo disappointed me last week. They’ll get back on track this week against Cleveland.

Packers over Bears – Green Bay is streaking but they can’t overlook Chicago on their way to a big game next week vs. Minnesota.

Steelers over Bengals – What I just said about Green Bay applies to Pittsburgh as well. Cincinnati might be getting AJ Green back this week. The Bengals will play Pittsburgh tough at home. Pittsburgh has to stay away from the cheap stuff with Vontaze Burfict. What am I saying? There is going to be a fight and I want to see one.

Ravens over Eagles – Baltimore needed to try harder last week against New England. Philadelphia shouldn’t provide that much of a challenge for them. Again, they can’t overlook this game going into next week’s Christmas matchup at Pittsburgh.

Texans over Jaguars – Shout out to Jadeveon Clowney for playing hurt last week at Indy. That performance might have won the AFC South for Houston.

Falcons over 49ers – Atlanta looked really good last week. They could be peaking at the right time. Julio Jones has to get healthy though.

Cardinals over Saints – Arizona can score points. New Orleans couldn’t even do that last week.

Raiders over Chargers – San Diego was playing well recently but they were hit with all the injuries last week. Oakland should be able to bounce back after dropping a big one in Week 14.

Washington over Panthers – Josh Norman will get his revenge, as Carolina will be watching him in the post season this upcoming January.

Week 15 Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Kirk Cousins (Washington) – Carolina’s pass defense has been really bad this season. Cousins has to play well for Washington to win.

RB: Devonta Freeman (Falcons) – Against the San Francisco defense, Freeman will definitely have his chances at breaking one. You might as well start his backup, Tevin Coleman, as well.

WR: Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals) – With Michael Floyd off the team, Carson Palmer will be looking for Fitzgerald more often for the rest of the season.

TE: Tyler Eifert (Bengals) – Eifert has been coming along strong and he appears to be back at 100% after missing most the season due to injury. Dalton will find him for some huge gains this week.

DEF: Seattle – The Seahawks defense should be able to feast against Jared Goff tonight.

 

 

NFL 2016: Week 2 Predictions!

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After a successful visit in New York, A.J. Green will take his show to Pittsburgh this Sunday.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 9-7

Season: 9-7

Big Five Games of the Week

New Orleans @ New York Giants – This match up will feature two big time, scoring offenses and very little defense. The Giants offense did enough to win last week but they sort of underperformed and they know that they could have done better. I think the Giants offense will have more opportunities to produce big plays against a struggling Saints defense at home. The Saints lost a close one at home last week but their offense performed well. The Giants defense did a great job bottling up the Cowboys running game and keeping them out of the end zone on long drives. I think the Giants benefited from facing a rookie QB in his first professional start. Drew Brees will present a much greater challenge for them this Sunday. I think both passing games will light up the stat sheet but I am much more encouraged by New York’s defense than New Orleans’ right now. I’m taking the home team. Prediction: Giants 37 – Saints 28

Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh – The Bengals really impressed me how they gutted out a road victory to start to the season. Now, they will face rival Pittsburgh in their home opener in a much anticipated game. This matchup will lose some of its steam without Vontaze Burfict and Le’Veon Bell but there will still be enough hatred to go around between these two rivals. Pittsburgh did pretty much what I expected them to do last week on Monday night. The Steelers look really good and they are one of the favorites in their conference. The offense is performing at a high level and the defense is over achieving. Pretty much the same story from a season ago though we have only played one game this season. I think Andy Dalton will fare better than Kirk Cousins did last week against the Steelers defense. WR A.J. Green had a monster game to start the season last week and he usually does a great job terrorizing the Pittsburgh secondary. The Bengals will do their best at controlling the clock in this game in order to limit Pittsburgh’s chances on offense. The Bengals may have a slightly above average defense but I don’t see them completely slowing down Pittsburgh offensively. Ben Roethlisberger will find Antonio Brown for some of the game’s biggest plays and DeAngelo Williams will continue his career renaissance. I think Cincy will be able to keep it close but I don’t see the Bengals offense out producing Pittsburgh’s on the road. Prediction: Steelers 29 – Bengals 23

Kansas City @ Houston – The Chiefs completed a crazy comeback last week at home. This week, they’ll go to Houston to take on the team that they easily beat in the playoffs a season ago. The Texans are retooled from a season ago and they’ll be looking to prove something at home this week. QB Brock Osweiler had a shaky start last week but he eventually got it together. I’m looking forward to the matchup between WR DeAndre Hopkins and Chiefs corner Marcus Peters. RB Lamar Miller had a successful debut for Houston last week and he’ll be facing a Chiefs run defense that was leaky at times in Week 1. Kansas City’s offense got it going just in time to force overtime and get the win last week. RB Jamaal Charles might have to miss another week due to injury but the Chiefs feel pretty confident about running the ball with their backups. Houston’s defense did a great job in the second half last week against Chicago and they could be able to carry that over in this matchup against Alex Smith. Houston will feel great about their offseason acquisitions after wrapping this one up at home. Prediction: Texans 26 – Chiefs 20

Atlanta @ Oakland – The Falcons looked like they would be able to go blow for blow against Tampa Bay at home in Week 1 but then, their defense completely fell apart. Atlanta’s defense continues to be an issue going into Week 2. Oakland is coming off a great emotional high last week after beating the Saints on a gusty, late 4th quarter call. The Raiders still have to figure out some things in the defensive secondary but their offense looked pretty good. QB David Carr played great down the stretch and he received great support from the running game. I think the Raiders will have their hands full in this matchup on defense. They will struggle to slow down WR Julio Jones and the other Falcons receivers. Atlanta will also try to get RB’s Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman to continue the success they had in Week 1. Oakland’s front seven looked very active last week and they will get after Matt Ryan in this game. Atlanta will have to use the running game to try to limit the pass rush’s affect on Ryan. But I don’t see Atlanta’s defense improving from a week ago. They need to find some consistency at pressuring the QB and making open field tackles. I think the Raiders will take advantage, the offense will make plays, and they’ll win in their home opener. Prediction: Raiders 24 – Falcons 21

Green Bay @ Minnesota – The Packers offense looked like its old self last week in Jacksonville. Aaron Rodgers played great and his receivers also brought their “A” game. Green Bay’s defense made the stop at the end of the game when it mattered but they were probably bailed out by some questionable play calling by the other team. The Packers will face a better opponent this week, as the Vikings will be making their debut in a brand new home stadium in primetime. US Bank Stadium will be loud and this Vikings team will be juiced up for this one. Minnesota was lucky to survive last week at Tennessee. The offense really struggled but their defense did a tremendous job bailing them out in the second half. Green Bay will have to know going into this one that they will be facing a much tougher defense this week. It’s going to be interesting to see if Aaron Rodgers will be able to look as spectacular as he did last week in Jacksonville. I think the Minnesota offense will fare better this week against Green Bay’s defense. Adrian Peterson had a tough day the office in Week 1 and he’ll be looking rebound in front a great crowd in the home opener. I’m getting the feeling that Sam Bradford will make his Vikings debut this week as well. That doesn’t sound very exciting but Bradford should be able to succeed in ways that Shaun Hill cannot. If Bradford can get the air attack going, that is going to open the door for more success in the running game. Green Bay will pack the box to prepare for Peterson so, I think Bradford will have the chances to find the passing windows. I think Green Bay will take a step back in this game, as Minnesota will be able to do enough offensively to win a close contest. Prediction: Vikings 30 – Packers 24

The Rest of Week 2

Jets over Bills – Buffalo beat New York twice last season so, the Jets will be out for revenge tonight. The Bills will be shorthanded offensively without Sammy Watkins. The Jets defensive line will fest tonight as Tyrod Taylor will struggle to get things going.

Ravens over Browns – Baltimore was so unbelievably under whelming last week in their victory. Cleveland really disappointed me as well in their loss. I don’t know. Both of these teams stink right now. Baltimore should be ashamed if they manage to lose this one.

Lions over Titans – I like Detroit’s defense to slow down Tennessee’s running attack. The Titans secondary will not have an answer for Matt Stafford.

Patriots over Dolphins – No Brady. No Gronk. No Problem. On the road against my Super Bowl favorite as well! Is Bill Belichick the greatest? Probably.

Washington over Cowboys – Washington looked really bad last week. Maybe Dallas has a better chance in this one than I think. I need to see it before I believe it. Kirk Cousins needs to rebound after his performance last week in primetime.

Panthers over 49ers – Cam Newton said this week that he doesn’t care about his health but only about winning. That’s kinda scary. Carolina should be able to handle San Fran at home either way.

Seahawks over Rams – The Rams have played Seattle tough in recent years but their morale has to be so low right now. Seattle should be able to roll in this one easily.

Cardinals over Buccaneers – This one should be close. Arizona’s secondary needs to improve in a hurry because Jameis Winston will air it out often as we saw last week. Expect plenty of scoring in this one.

Broncos over Colts – The Trevor Siemian hype is not real. However, Denver’s defense is very real. Andrew Luck will struggle to score late in this game and that will give Denver the home victory.

Jaguars over Chargers – Here’s an upset. After losing a heartbreaking one last week, San Diego will repeat that feat at home against a hungry Jacksonville team.

Eagles over Bears – Carson Wentz played much better than I expected last week even though it was just Cleveland. Chicago’s offense should be able to make this one interesting though.

Week 2 Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Drew Brees (Saints) – Brees will be able to test the Giants secondary in ways that Dak Prescott couldn’t in Week 1.

RB: Ezekiel Elliott (Cowboys) – The rookie had a tough go of it last week. He could be able to rebound against Washington’s defense.

WR: A.J. Green (Bengals) – Green has a knack for getting the best out of Pittsburgh. After his Week 1 performance, he’ll look to keep his success going on the road.

TE: Julius Thomas (Jaguars) – Thomas played well last week and San Diego has a weak secondary. Blake Bortles should be able to find him in the end zone again this week.

DEF: New York Jets – The Jets racked up a bunch of sacks last week and they’ll be facing a wounded Buffalo offense tonight. They’ll get after Tyrod Taylor and bottle up the Bills rushing attack.

NFL 2016: NFC North Preview

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The Vikings have a shiny new stadium and great expectations in 2016.

By: Elias McMillan

NFC NorthWritten August 30, 2016 (Before Bridgewater injury)

Minnesota Vikings – Last season, the Vikings had a small taste of success. This season, the Vikings are opening up a new stadium and they are hoping to have bigger moments in their new home this season. I think one of the reasons for Minnesota’s success a season ago is that they are one of the league’s youngest teams. They have a lot of young talent but the veteran leadership they have at key positions is valuable as well. QB Teddy Bridgewater is coming off his best season as a pro and I think this year, we’ll see him do little bit more with his passing. Everyone is aware of Bridgewater’s athletic ability outside the pocket but he doesn’t really take many chances down the field. I think we will see this change in 2016. Last season, they found out that their fifth round pick, Stefon Diggs, actually has a future in this offense as Bridgewater’s number one target as a WR. Diggs is a good player and I liked him a lot coming out of Maryland but I think this year’s first round pick will really emerge as a down the field target for Bridgewater. Rookie WR Laquon Treadwell looks the part as a prototypical “#1” receiver and his ability will allow the Vikings passing offense to stretch the field in 2016. As always, the backbone of this offense will be RB Adrian Peterson and the running. Peterson is showing no signs of slowing down as he seems to get better year after year. Minnesota also beefed up their offensive line in the offseason so I feel even better about their ability to run the ball and protecting their future star QB. Looking at the defensive front four on paper and you’ll see a group that underperformed in 2015. DE Everson Griffin seems to be the lone standout as the team’s best pass rusher. Bottom line is that the Vikings need to do better at stopping the run this season. Minnesota has one of the better LB groups in the league with Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, and veteran Chad Greenway. I really like Minnesota’s secondary as well. CB Terrance Newman continues to have a career renaissance in this secondary but the Vikings have plenty of younger guys that can play too. More responsibility will be put on CB’s Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes this season. At safety, they get great play out of Harrison Smith and they brought over veteran Michael Griffin who will be trying to prove that he has more left in the tank after a mainly success career as a Titan. I don’t know if this team is ready to become one of the best teams in the conference but I think head coach Mike Zimmer will have this team ready to repeat as division champions. If Teddy Bridgewater improves like many thinks he will, Minnesota will definitely be a tough out in the post season. Prediction: 11-5

Green Bay Packers – The Packers weren’t as sharp as usually in 2015. And there was plenty of blame to go around. Mainly, there were health problems and the defense struggled mightily. I think this team is too dependent of their star QB, Aaron Rodgers. It’s either that or Rodgers just wasn’t that good last season. Either way, optimism is high in Packer land going into 2016. The offense is healthy and ready to go after a tough 2015. Aaron Rodgers is expected to be his regular self this season and it will really help that WR Jordy Nelson is back after missing last season. Many people believed that the Packers passing offense would be ok without Nelson but that wasn’t the case. WR. Devante Adams and even Randall Cobb underperformed last season. But with Nelson back in the fold, maybe the Packers passing attack can be as overwhelming as before. Green Bay also hopes to be a better running team in 2016. RB Eddie Lacy worked extremely hard in the offseason to drop weight and we’ll see soon if that will pay off this season. Green Bay also brought back James Starks who will continue to be a valuable third down option as a receiver coming out from the backfield. On defense, the Packers will be looking to improve a defensive line that ranked near the bottom in the league at defending the run. First round pick Kenny Clark will hopefully help with the youth movement up front defensively. Green Bay will return both of their star pass rushers, Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers. Inside at LB, the Packers are very young and don’t have much depth at the position either. Green Bay’s secondary is decent, as they will return all of their starters from a season ago. CB’s Sam Shields and Damarious Randall do a good job and HaHa Clinton-Dix is one of the better, young safeties in the league. I think this Packers team will be relying on the offense more again this season but I think Rodgers and the passing attack will be up to task on improving from a season ago. Prediction: 10-6 (Wildcard)

Detroit Lions – The Lions had a disastrous start to their season last year but they finished off very strong and they’ll hope to bring over some of that momentum in 2016. Their offseason was headlined by the shocking retirement of WR Calvin Johnson but I actually think that the Lions will be better off after moving on from that situation. I’m not saying that the Lions are going to be able to replace him easily but I think the team will be better as whole as group that is fully motivated on being its best. QB Matt Stafford was probably pleased to see that the Lions spent multiple draft picks on their offensive line. Better play up front will put Stafford and the running game in much better situations. I expect Detroit to have a really good running duo this season with Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick. If those two guys can stay healthy for the season, they’ll help take some of the pressure off the QB. I really like Stafford’s receiving core going into this season. WR Golden Tate proved last season that he can be a number one option in the passing game. Detroit also brought over Marvin Jones from Cincinnati who has plenty of ability. But I really liked the signing of WR Anquan Boldin. Boldin is an absolute gamer and he’ll fill the veteran role in the WR room left by the retirement of Johnson. During Detroit’s run near the end of last season, their defense really began to improve. Upfront, they have a beastly pass rusher in DE Ziggy Ansah and DT Haloti Ngata was brought back to prove that he is still one of the best run stoppers in the league. At LB, the Lions are very thin on depth but DeAndre Levy is one of the best tacklers in the league. I’m not sure how good the Lions’ secondary can be as they were pretty average a season ago. Darius Slay is the lone standout from the group of corners on this team. Safety Glover Quin will continue to be a veteran leader in the secondary. He is coming off his second Pro-Bowl season. The Lions have plenty of holes on defense but they are an overachieving group that will compete in every ball game. I think the Lions are a sleeper team in 2016. I don’t have them making the playoffs but they may make a push at the end of the season. Prediction: 9-7

Chicago Bears – The Bears didn’t really improve during the offseason and they’ll have plenty of question marks going into 2016. Last season, I think QB Jay Cutler earned my respect. I say this because he had every excuse to mail it in but you could tell that Cutler really made the most of his time on the field. Cutler has a great connection with WR Alshon Jeffery and he will hope to build the same relationship with WR Kevin White. White was the team’s first round pick a season ago but he missed his entire rookie season due to injury. If White can be the player that he was at West Virginia, he’ll form a great 1-2 punch in the passing game with Jeffery. TE Zach Miller had a very successful 2015 and he’ll enter this season as the starter at the position. The Bears will greatly miss Matt Forte at starting RB but they have been grooming Jeremy Langford for that position. Langford has showed promise last season and he’ll receiver plenty of more opportunities in 2016. The Bears have seen better days defensively but they are on the road to getting better. Chicago has struggled for years at stopping the run and they will need some of the young guys they drafted to step up this season. Outside at the pass rushing positions, they have veterans Lamarr Houston and Willie Young but look out for first round pick Leonard Floyd. Floyd looks like a wideout playing defensive end but his great speed will be a positive factor for this defense eventually. At inside LB, they brought in Danny Trevathan who is coming off a pretty success campaign with the Super Bowl champion Broncos. LB Jerrell Freeman racked up a lot of tackles last season for the Colts and he’ll help form a great tackling duo inside with Trevathan. The LB core on this defense will definitely be a strength this season. In the secondary, the Bears have two decent corners in the veteran Tracy Porter and the younger Kyle Fuller. The Bears will be relying on some unknowns at safety this season so, I view that position as a question mark going into 2016. Prediction: 6-10

NFL 2016: Wild-Card Playoff Round Predictions!

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“You like that?!” I can’t believe Washington might be the home underdog that might actually win this weekend.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 9-7

Final 2015 Regular Season: 163-93

NFL Wildcard Playoff Round

Kansas City @ Houston – On paper, this wildcard matchup doesn’t provide much flash but it could really turn into one of the better games this opening playoff weekend in the NFL. Kansas City may have benefited from a weak schedule but they are entering the playoffs on a great stretch that goes back to the middle of the regular season. Its amazing how the Chiefs were able to rebound and make a playoff run after losing its best player, Jamaal Charles, to injury. Houston was a pretty average team for most of the season and coach Bill O’Brien was largely rumored to be on the hot seat at one time. Houston got their act together in time to make the playoffs but they got a lot of help from the imploding Colts. This match up will be all about the defenses as both units rank in the top ten in the league. Houston does a great job up front at stopping the run and they are led up front by all-world DE J.J. Watt. Watt is going to automatically affect the way Kansas City runs their offense, which will give Houston an advantage. Kansas City has done a decent job at running the ball without their star this season though. QB Alex Smith has had a bounce back season in 2015 and you can charge that to the improvements at the receiver position. Smith has dynamic targets to go at WR (Jeremy Maclin) and at TE (Travis Kelce) but Houston usually doesn’t allow tons of yards through the air. Kansas City is pretty solid defensively as well. They have a pair of great pass rushers in Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, they are stout against the run, and safety Eric Berry leads a tough physical secondary. I really like rookie CB Marcus Peters but he will have his hands full on Saturday against WR DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins is having a breakout season and has already seen success against this defense earlier this season. QB Brian Hoyer will be starting in his first ever playoff game and Houston really isn’t a strong running team so they will be counting on Hopkins to provide the big plays on offense. The Chiefs are favored in this game probably because they have more offensive weapons than the Texans. I think both defenses will play great in this game but I think I’ll trust the veteran Alex Smith to make more plays on offense than Hoyer. I don’t know if J.J. Watt can win this game for Houston by himself but he is capable. And if he is successful at doing so, ESPN will never shut up about it. I’m taking Andy Reid’s bunch. Prediction: Chiefs 22 – Texans 16

Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati – With this being the lone divisional matchup this wildcard weekend, this game is easily the main event. The hatred between these two teams will make this an entertaining game but really, this rivalry lacks the heat that Pittsburgh had with Baltimore. About 5 years ago, Pittsburgh and Baltimore made a great rivalry because it wasn’t overly one-sided. The Pittsburgh-Cincinnati rivalry mainly exists because Cincinnati can’t win a big game to save its life. And that will be the case once again on Saturday night as the Bengals are playing for their season (life). If you look at how each team is trending going into this game, you would think that Cincinnati should be the home favorite. But they are not because you simply can’t trust this team in the post season. Even against an injured and currently playing below average Steelers team. After Pittsburgh had that big comeback at home against Denver, they kind of skated through the last two games of the regular season. They played awful at Baltimore, which ended in a loss and really should have kept them from making the playoffs. Last week, they were able to beat Cleveland but they didn’t look too impressive in that game either. To make matters even worst, RB DeAngelo Williams injured his ankle last week and will probably be unavailable on Saturday night. The Steeler running game will be led by a couple of no names and that might cause the offense to be one-dimensional. That might not be a bad thing because the Steelers passing game has been their bread and butter this season. With a QB like Roethlisberger and the wealth of talent at the receiver position, passing the ball 50 times might not be a bad thing. But I have to bring up that also since that Denver game, Roethlisberger has been noticeably not as sharp as he once was. I think Cincinnati has the defense to slow down the Pittsburgh offense but I also think they will lack the ability to really make a game changing turnover in this game. Cincinnati has a scrappy defense but they don’t have a player on that unit that could possibly change the outcome. Cincinnati will be without starting QB Andy Dalton and despite his record in the post season, this is a bad thing for the Bengals. The only good thing about starting A.J. McCarron is that no one will expect anything from him so he might actually surprise some folks. Everyone and their mother knows that the Steelers have a weak secondary. And despite starting a backup, the Bengals will attack the Steelers defense through the air. I know that the Steelers rank in the top five in run defense but I think Cincinnati needs to get more creative on offense when attacking this defense. We keep hearing about how great a coordinator Hue Jackson is but he needs to find a way to get RB’s Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard more involved in this offense. Both backs have been inconsistent this season but they both have the skill set to be valuable pieces for this offense especially with starting a backup QB. The rivalry, the trash talk, and the extra stuff aside, this game will probably go as expected because Cincinnati lacks the killer instinct to beat Pittsburgh in a big game. When Pittsburgh beat Denver two week ago, every talking head was talking about how dangerous they are and how no one wants to play them in January. Its funny how fast things can change in the NFL. The Steelers are not that dangerous team that no ones wants to play but they’ll still be better than Cincinnati on Saturday night. Pittsburgh will probably start out the gates hot, they’ll let Cincy back in the game in the 2nd half but then they will close them out in the 4th quarter. Prediction: Steelers 28 – Bengals 21

Seattle @ Minnesota – I was really happy for Mike Zimmer and his Vikings last Sunday night. They were able to beat a struggling Packers team and outright win the NFC North. Then, I learned their opponent for wildcard weekend and began to feel sorry for them. It’s been a long time coming for this Minnesota team. They’ve spend many mow draft picks, they have youthful talent of defense, and they’ve finally broken through to overtake Green Bay. Now, they have a very tall task at home Sunday in the 2-time defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks. Not only is Seattle the better team but they also matchup so well against Minnesota. Minnesota’s offense is led by their rushing attack and Adrian Peterson. Seattle has the best run defense in the league according to the numbers and they shut down Peterson earlier this season. Young QB Teddy Bridgewater has been playing well as of late but he is going to have to have the game of his life against Seattle’s second ranked pass defense. The real story of this game will be the matchup between Seattle’s offense and Minnesota’s defense. Russell Wilson, except for the St. Louis game, has been on a roll recently and I don’t remember the last time Seattle’s passing game has looked this good. Seattle’s rushing attack has dealt with many injuries this season but they’ll receive a huge boost this Sunday when Marshawn Lynch returns to the lineup. Minnesota’s defense isn’t bad but they are quite average against the run. I like Minnesota’s secondary a lot. They have a good mix of veterans and young talent. The key for the Vikings defense on passing downs will be getting pressure on Wilson. If Wilson has time to run around and use his legs, he’ll provide the game with the big backbreaking play to Minnesota’s hopes. I think Seattle will be able to put up points in ways that Minnesota wont be able to. The freezing temps in Minnesota might have an affect on how this game is played but it wont decide the contest. A Minnesota victory would be one of the biggest upsets in wildcard weekend history. I don’t see that happening. Prediction: Seahawks 36 – Vikings 24

Green Bay @ Washington – I couldn’t foresee the Green Bay Packers backing into the playoffs like they did. But they have been struggling for the most part during the second half of the regular season. Green Bay has a lot of talent but a lot of things have been off for them this season. I guess you have to give Washington credit for winning the joke that was the NFC East this season. But they are on a roll right now and their chances to win on Sunday against the Packers are very realistic. Aaron Rodgers hasn’t looked like his usual self this season. It may be because he is missing his favorite target, Jordy Nelson. It may be because his offensive line has been horrible. Whatever the reason may be, Rodgers hasn’t been right and we saw proof of that as recently as last Sunday at home vs. Minnesota. Washington doesn’t have a dynamic pass rush but they’ll figure out a way to get after Rodgers. Washington isn’t strong against the run so Green Bay might have to find a way to get Eddie Lacy and James Starks going with the running game. Green Bay’s defense has been inconsistent at times this season and they’ll face a red hot QB on Sunday. QB Kirk Cousins may not be a sure thing for Washington in the future but he is playing well enough currently. Washington also has a lot of weapons at the skill positions that the Packers will have to contend with. Washington has dynamic pass catchers in DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, and TE Jordan Reed. The Washington passing game has carried the offense this year as RB Alfred Morris and the running game had a lackluster season. This game will be weird because I feel like everyone will be waiting for the real Aaron Rodgers to show up but I feel like we’ll be waiting forever. The Packers are favored, barely, but they are easily the most vulnerable road team this wildcard weekend. I can’t believe it either but I’m taking Washington in a small upset. Prediction: Washington 24 – Packers 23

NFL 2015: Week 17 Predictions! (Condensed Version)

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After getting smacked around by the Cardinals last week, the Packers must rebound at home with the division title on the line.

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 10-6

Season: 154-86

 

Week 17 Picks (Condensed Version)

New Orleans @ Atlanta – Atlanta’s defense showed up last week and the Falcons seem to be ready to ride on the momentum of their defense into the offseason. There is a lot of grumbling going on in New Orleans concerning the future of the head coach and the QB. Pick: Falcons

New York Jets @ Buffalo – The Jets really flexed their muscles last week and got an unlikely victory at home vs. New England. This game on Sunday in Buffalo is a playoff game for them so I would expect them to come out guns a-blazing. Weird things can happen in these divisional games especially if you’re a road favorite. But I watched the Bills last week and I can tell you that they stink. Remember the first meeting between these teams? Remember the lasting image of Rex Ryan celebrating wildly. I bet that the Jets didn’t forget that. Todd Bowles should be the coach of the year in the NFL. The Jets were supposed to be a sinking ship when he took that job. Now, they’ll be heading to the post season after Sunday. Sorry Pittsburgh fans but the Jets are in. Pick: Jets

Detroit @ Chicago – Detroit has responded well in the 2nd half of this season and they are playing for the future of their head coach Jim Caldwell. Caldwell has won over that locker room and hopefully, that can save his job. For the Bears, this maybe the last home game for star RB, Matt Forte. Pick: Lions

Baltimore @ Cincinnati – I doubt that the Ravens will be up for this game like they were last week at home vs. Pittsburgh. Cincinnati still has a lot to play for as they could be looking at a bye week from wild-card weekend with a win and a Denver loss. Cincy also needs some momentum period before their season ends in heartbreaking fashion next weekend. Pick: Bengals

Pittsburgh @ Cleveland – Whatever the Steelers did last weekend in Baltimore may have cost them a playoff spot. Its funny how fast things can change in the NFL. Two weeks ago, most of the talking heads were saying that the Steelers would be the most dangerous team in the post season. Question: how can you be the most dangerous team in the post season when you don’t even make the post season? Anyways, on Sunday I don’t see the Browns showing much fight at home with their head coach’s job on the line potentially. You think that locker room gives a crap about Mike Pettine? Pick: Steelers

Washington @ Dallas – Kirk Cousins is going to play in this game and I don’t know why. I think the Dallas organization and even the fans are starting to like the idea of having a top 5 pick in the draft. Lets chop up the 2015 season as a mulligan for coach Jason Garrett. A healthy Romo, a healthy Dex, and some high draft picks. Happy New Year, Jerry! Pick: Washington

Tennessee @ Indianapolis – This game will be interesting because it will be a battle between who will want to lose more. The Titans probably want the number one overall pick. The Colts are on the verge of firing their head coach and starting some guy off the street at QB on Sunday. This game will be ugly. Pick: Colts

New England @ Miami – The Patriots still need to lock up home field in the AFC with a victory this week. The Dolphins stink and it also stinks that they probably wont bring back interim head coach Dan Campbell. Pick: Patriots

Philadelphia @ New York Giants – Chip Kelly got fired and the Giants are about to do the same with Tom Coughlin. The Eagles are completely lost and are just looking forward to the offseason. You could say the same for the Giants but Odell Beckham Jr. will be all juiced up after returning from suspension. Expect a lot of dancing from him. Pick: Giants

Jacksonville @ Houston – The Texans need to wrap up the AFC South with a victory at home on Sunday. And for some good news: starting QB Brian Hoyer will be active and starting. Pick: Texans

San Diego @ Denver – Denver has a lot of questions offensively going into the post season but worst come to worst, they do have a reliable defense. Pick: Broncos

Oakland @ Kansas City – The Chiefs still have something to play for after clinching a playoff berth. Oakland could very well play spoiler in this game. I think Kansas City’s offense will have more chances to score than Oakland’s offense against that Chiefs defense. Pick: Chiefs

Seattle @ Arizona – I’m not sure if I fully trust Arizona going into the post season. And I probably feel the same about Seattle but at least they have experience on their side. Seattle is penciled in for one of the wild-card spots in the playoffs so I question their motivation for this road game. Arizona could win home field in the NFC outright with a win and some help. Pick: Cardinals

St. Louis @ San Francisco – The Rams played well last week but once again their season will be about how they’ve underachieved again. I don’t see how that organization brings back Jeff Fisher. And they’ll probably play great again on the road this week at San Fran. Pick: Rams

Tampa Bay @ Carolina – I thought the Panthers would win out but I was wrong. Now, they have to win this one to fend off Arizona for home field throughout the NFC playoffs. Tampa Bay wont make the post season but they’ll enter the offseason with high hopes. The team did perform better under head coach Lovie Smith and Jameis Winston could be what Cam Newton is now. Pick: Panthers

Minnesota @ Green Bay – The Packers punked Minnesota in their first meeting this season. Green Bay had its issues this season but they are starting to turn it around just in time for the playoffs. Minnesota played well last week at home and they are hoping that carries over into this week. Minnesota can admit to blinking when it comes to playing the Packers, which doesn’t give me much confidence in them in this game. I think Minnesota has the talent to upset Green Bay on the road but I doubt their willingness to execute and to have the killer instinct needed. Pick: Packers

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Matt Ryan (Falcons) – This is more about the Saints secondary and less about Matt Ryan.

RB: DeAngelo Williams (Steelers) – Williams should receive a huge amount of carries against Cleveland’s run defense.

WR: Odell Beckham Jr. (Giants) – Coming off the suspension, Beckham Jr. will show on chill on Sunday vs. the Eagles. More attempts at one handed grabs (when he could have easily used two). More dancing. More antics.

TE: Travis Kelce (Chiefs) – Kelce is coming off two straight games with 5 or more cataches.

DEF: St. Louis – The Rams defense did a number on Seattle on the road. They have another strong performance at San Francisco.

NFL 2015: Week 16 Predictions! (Condensed Version)

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The Bengals will have to depend on their backup at QB again this week at Denver.

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 14-2

Season: 144-80

I had a strong Week 15 for my picks. This week because of all the holiday craziness and my work schedule, this post will be shorter than usual. So, here is my condensed version of my Week 16 predictions.

Week 16 Picks (Condensed Version)

San Diego @ Oakland – The Chargers had a great victory last week and a touching moment with those fans in San Diego for maybe the last time. This week, they wont be able to carry over that emotion into Oakland who might also be playing in their last game in Oakland. Let me just say this: the NFL’s process of moving a team to LA stinks to high heaven. Prediction: Raiders

Washington @ Philadelphia – Remember last season around this time? When Washington, who was awful, beat Philly in a Saturday night game and helped Dallas wrap up the NFC East? Those were good times. Anyways. Now, it looks like Washington should be able to wrap up the division for them selves this Saturday but I don’t think that happens. Washington has been inconsistent at times this season, they will be playing a desperate team on the road, and Washington hasn’t won three straight all season. If the Eagles do lose this game, look for Chip Kelly to get a head start at cleaning out his office. Prediction: Eagles

Carolina @ Atlanta – Two weeks ago, Carolina completely outclassed Atlanta at home. The Falcons might show some more fight in their home stadium this time around. But the Panthers will be better in everyway. Prediction: Panthers

Dallas @ Buffalo – What happened to Buffalo? Ending the season in this fashion is not a good look for Rex Ryan. It’s going to be interesting to see what changes Ryan makes in the offseason. Meanwhile in Dallas, they are still fighting hard week after week but they are still letting the lack of a QB define their season. The offense will continue to be punch-less on the road in Buffalo. Prediction: Bills

San Francisco @ Detroit – I think Jim Caldwell has done enough to save his job after a disastrous start to this season. The Lions are playing well on both sides of the football and they’ll be able to over power the 49ers on Sunday. Prediction: Lions

Houston @ Tennessee – Man. I thought T.J. Yates was going to be the one to save Houston’s offense and lead them into the playoffs. Instead, it will be Brandon Weeden?! Ugh. Good thing that Tennessee is awful. Prediction: Texans

Cleveland @ Kansas City – Kansas City’s cupcake tour continues. Prediction: Chiefs

Indianapolis @ Miami – The Colts are another team having serious QB problems. But Miami stinks and the Colts still have a lot to be playing for. Prediction: Colts

New England @ New York Jets – The Jets didn’t really look like a playoff contender last week in Dallas. And to think, they won that game. New England is banged up but they need this one to wrap up home field advantage. Tom Brady and the Belichick boys will bring the killer instinct on Sunday. Prediction: Patriots

Chicago @ Tampa Bay – I think Tampa is better than what they showed last week in St. Louis. I think Jameis Winston and Jay Cutler will both have impressive stat lines at the end of this one. Prediction: Buccaneers

Pittsburgh @ Baltimore – They might say that you can “throw out the record book” when it comes to this matchup. But Baltimore is having a nightmare season while Pittsburgh is one of the hottest teams racing towards the post season. Prediction: Steelers

Jacksonville @ New Orleans – No one is ever sure of how injured Drew Brees is. One thing for sure is that Brees has been able in the past to gut out some tough performances at home in his career. I think Brees will have a big day passing the ball even with noticeable limping. Prediction: Saints

Green Bay @ Arizona – The Packers responded greatly on the road last week. They’ll find it much tougher this week in Arizona. Prediction: Cardinals

St. Louis @ Seattle – Russell Wilson is on a tear right now. I think the St. Louis defense will play him tough. They usually do. But I don’t think St. Louis will be able to score the points necessary on offense to upset Seattle at home. Prediction: Seahawks

New York Giants @ Minnesota – I think the Giants passing attack will miss Odell Beckham Jr. greatly. Plus, the Giants can’t stop the run and Minnesota has a guy named Adrian Peterson. Thanks for playing, Tom Coughlin. Prediction: Vikings

Cincinnati @ Denver – I think Denver will learn from last week’s second half collapse. Mainly that, they’ll probably need Peyton Manning back if they hope to do anything in the playoffs. Cincy was able to beat San Fran last week without A.J. Green. They can afford too many games like that. They wont be able to just skate along with that offense this week in Denver. Prediction: Broncos

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Teddy Bridgewater (Vikings) – The Giants have the worst pass defense in football. You might not what to place all your faith into Bridgewater this week but in his defense, he is coming off a strong performance at home.

RB: Doug Martin (Buccaneers) – Martin will have a strong performance at home against the Bears run defense.

WR: Allen Robinson (Jaguars) – Robinson was a noticeable snub from the Pro Bowl voting results this past week. He’ll take it out on that awful Saints secondary.

TE: Gary Barnidge (Browns) – With the injuries at the WR postion, Johnny Manziel is running out of options. Barnidge has been reliable for Cleveland this season.

DEF: Detroit – The Lions defense should be able to completely shut down the 49ers.