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NFL 2019: Week 4 Predictions

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Surprise! The Lions are undefeated. On Sunday, they’ll face Kansas City at home.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 9-7

Season: 29-18-1

Top Five Games of the Week

Philadelphia @ Green Bay – The Eagles are in the need for a confidence builder after losing at home to the Lions in Week 3. Too bad that things will not get any easier for them as they will kick off Week 4 in the NFL on the road against a good Packers team. Green Bay has surprised everyone this year with how well they are playing defensively. It is now Aaron Rodgers and the offense that needs to step up. I think Rodgers will have a big game tonight against a poor Eagles secondary. QB Carson Wentz will have to perform at a high level tonight in order to keep the pace against Rodgers. The Eagles will be receiving more help in the passing game with a couple of key guys returning from injury. But I don’t think it will matter if the Packers defense continues to play like it has in the first 3 weeks. Prediction: Packers over Eagles

New England @ Buffalo – The undefeated Bills area nice surprise to start the 2019 season. But here comes the Patriots to crush their dreams in this early season matchup. Buffalo has a huge chore on Sunday but they can help themselves by keeping the home crowd into it with some big plays in the 1stquarter. The fans at the Ralph will be fired up at the pre game so the Bills must really prioritize getting off to a good start. I imagine this would mean QB Josh Allen testing that Patriot secondary and the Bills defense getting after Tom Brady. Given the atmosphere at the stadium on Sunday, it would be interesting if this game was competitive late into the 4thquarter. Weirder things have happened but usually New England plays great in Buffalo. I’m not sure if the Pats will be able to put up many points against the Bills defense but they find a way to pull this one out at the end. Prediction: Patriots over Bills

Kansas City @ Detroit – The Lions did tie with Arizona earlier this season but they are still technically unbeaten. Detroit also shocked the NFL last week upsetting the favored Eagles on the road. Now, the Lions return home to face the team with the hottest offense in the NFL, Kansas City. Detroit’s defense is underrated especially in the secondary. That unit will face a great test Sunday as the Chiefs offer a boatload of offensive weapons. QB Patrick Mahomes is the reigning MVP and he is playing like he’s going to win that award again this year. His counterpart on Sunday, QB Matt Stafford, has pretty good arm too but Detroit has had problems protecting him. I think the Kansas City defense will get after Stafford in the backfield and force him into some mistakes. If the Chiefs defense can give Mahomes some short fields to work with, he will fill the stat sheet. Prediction: Chiefs over Lions

Minnesota @ Chicago –Chicago’s defense showed up in a big way on Monday Night. They are going to have to play that way every week to get a victory. QB Mitch Trubisky didn’t play too badly against Washington but it’s looking more and more like he has regressed in 2019. Minnesota’s defense is usually tough and they will make it hard for that Bears offense to operate, even at home. LB Khalil Mack is capable of taking over ball games so, Minnesota must do whatever to prevent that from happening. Double teams. Triple teams. Whatever. QB Kirk Cousins is a good player but he is also the type to fold under pressure. He is going to have to step up in the face of this defense and deliver for his team on the road. If not, we could see an upset. Prediction: Vikings over Bears

Dallas @ New Orleans – The Cowboys got through their first 3 games of the season like a walk in the park. Now, we will get to see what this team is really about as they’ll face 3 out of 4 quality opponents before going into the bye week. First up, the New Orleans Saints, who are coming off a huge road victory at Seattle. The most notable thing with the Saints at the moment is that they are without QB Drew Brees. That seemed to not matter last week as QB Teddy Bridgewater delivered and WR Michael Thomas and RB Alvin Kamara provided big plays. The Cowboys had a season defining win last season against the Saints and I’m sure New Orleans hasn’t forgotten about it. Both defenses in this game are really going to get after the opposing offenses. Both teams will also attempt to control the line of scrimmage with the run game rather it be with Kamara for New Orleans or Ezekiel Elliott for Dallas. QB Dak Prescott has been great at providing big plays down the field this year when he has time. DE Cam Jordan had a huge game against Dallas last year and that Cowboys offensive line will have to account for him again on Sunday night. Dallas didn’t look as sharp last week and I think New Orleans will be able to ride the high of last week’s big win in Seattle. Dallas is also having problems, yet again, with getting to the QB on defense. It wouldn’t surprise me if Bridgewater is successful attacking through the air. Prediction: Saints over Cowboys

The Rest of Week 4

Falcons over Titans – I’m beginning to think that Tennessee’s Week 1 victory over Cleveland has over rated them.

Colts over Raiders – Indy might have a tough time defending home field against a fresh Oakland team.

Chargers over Dolphins – I think I read that it’s been a while since the Chargers franchise has won in Miami. They’ll have a great chance to buck that trend on Sunday.

Washington over Giants – Let’s see if all the Daniel Jones love will continue with Saquon Barkley out of the lineup.

Ravens over Browns – Baltimore has been talking how they are tired of hearing about Cleveland. They will be looking to make a statement this week.

Texans over Panthers – Kyle Allen looked great last week. I think Houston’s defense will be too much for him to overcome.

Rams over Buccaneers – Tampa should have won last week but the game winning field goal was off target. The Rams wont give them a chance at a last second victory.

Seahawks over Cardinals – Seattle’s defense will be looking to bounce back after being dominated last week at home.

Jaguars over Broncos – I like the Jacksonville defense to look really good against “statue quarterback” Joe Flacco. Jaguars LB Josh Allen could be the next Von Miller.

Steelers over Bengals – I wouldn’t call this a must win for Pittsburgh in Week 4 but, yeah, it really is. If they drop this one at home, it could get ugly in the Steel City as Pittsburgh would start the season in the AFC North basement.

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NFL 2019: AFC Preview

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

 

By: Elias McMillan

AFC EAST

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

AFC NORTH

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

AFC SOUTH

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

AFC WEST

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

NFL 2018: Week 12 Predictions (Condensed Version)

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The stage is set for Colt McCoy to keep Washington’s NFC East title hopes afloat.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 4-9

Season: 85-74-2

Week 12 Picks

Bears over Lions – I’m worried about Chase Daniels starting for Chicago but maybe the Bears defense can limit what Detroit can do offensively.

Cowboys over Washington – Whenever it looks like things maybe looking up for Dallas, I usually expect them to completely fall on their face. But this isn’t the same defense Colt McCoy defeated three years ago. This is a huge spot for Dallas. If they are able to run the ball and control the clock, they can win this one and suddenly find themselves in the playoff picture.

Saints over Falcons – Atlanta stinks. They have too much talent to stink but they do. New Orleans probably will not win out going into the playoffs but I doubt that they drop this one.

Bills over Jaguars – Jacksonville is broken and QB Josh Allen will be looking to prove Jalen Ramsey wrong at home.

Browns over Bengals – Cincinnati’s defense is really bad right now. Look for Bayer Mayfield to have a big game on the road.

Patriots over Jets – New England hasn’t looked like themselves recently. Sunday would be a great time for them to get back on track against a weak opponent.

Eagles over Giants – I don’t trust either team. But a loss for Philly here would be the nail in the coffin for their season.

Buccaneers over 49ers – The offensive talent for Tampa needs to will their team to a victory.

Seahawks over Panthers – Carolina hasn’t been the same since getting beat down in Pittsburgh. Seattle is a tough team that could be in the playoff conversation real soon.

Ravens over Raiders – I’m not sure how long Baltimore’s offense can operate without a passing game but despite that, they’ll still be good enough to beat Oakland.

Chargers over Cardinals – The Chargers usually get hot at the end of the season and not collapse like they did last week. They better figure themselves out soon, as their schedule is about to get really tough.

Steelers over Broncos – Pittsburgh won ugly last week. This game could be similar.

Colts over Dolphins – Indy looks like they could go on a run. But Miami is getting Ryan Tannehill back Sunday. This one could be sneaky competitive.

Vikings over Packers – Minnesota has issues but on Sunday they literally only have to worry about one guy. They should have beaten Green Bay earlier this season. That should provide enough motivation, especially at home.

Texans over Titans – I’m not sure when Houston’s winning streak will end but Tennessee will not beat them without Marcus Mariota.

2018 NFL MOCK Draft! (With Trades!)

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Penn State’s Saquon Barkley is the best player in this draft. Should Cleveland take him with the first overall pick?

By: Elias McMillan

 

It’s draft week and it is finally time for me to unveil my mock draft. Mock drafts can be classified as mostly pointless. Probably because we are overly saturated with them from the moment football season ends. I realized this and I ask myself, “How can I make my mock draft even more pointless?” This is how I arrived at the idea of doing my first mock draft with trades. Now, I’ll have selections and trade scenarios that probably will not happened. With that being said, (once again) the Cleveland Browns are on the clock…..

ROUND ONE

1. Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold, QB, USC: Cleveland has the first overall pick again this year and this time, they will not pass on a QB. With that decision, they are risking missing out of the best player in the draft. But they do have enough assets to maybe trade up to the very next pick. With this selection, the Browns will give themselves a potential QB of the future to groom behind Tyrod Taylor. Sam Darnold will be the first QB taken in the draft for the same reason why Mitch Trubisky went at number two last year: potential. Darnold may not be ready to play right away but he has the potential to be a top QB in the league. There are QB’s in this draft that may have a better arm and may be more athletically gifted than Darnold, but he is play maker. We can’t get too wrapped up around arm strength. Darnold can get the ball out to his playmakers as well as any QB in this draft.

((((TRADE)))) Giants trade second overall pick and 4th rounder (108) to Bills for 12th overall pick, 22nd overall, 2nd round pick (56), and a 2019 1st round pick

2. Buffalo Bills – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA: After dumping Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland, Buffalo needs to make the big move up to grab a franchise QB. The Giants could very well take a QB or the best player available here. But they seem to be committed to Eli Manning for one more year (for some reason) and I think the Bills will give the Giants an offer that they can’t refuse. It would be funny if the Giants said no to THREE first rounders just to draft a running back but I don’t see that happening. The Giants will gain future assets with the haul from Buffalo and the Bills will get a QB in Rosen who is the most pro ready out of this draft class.

3. New York Jets – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma: The Jets traded up with the Colts to take a QB and I have them taking the Heisman winner out of Oklahoma. Baker Mayfield has been a lightning rod for discussion for some reason during this draft process. I think Mayfield has plenty of question marks from his hype and his attitude but I think he is a good player. My issue with him is that he has most likely peaked already as a QB. Mayfield was a walk-on at a D-1 program and ended up winning the Heisman at one of the most storied programs in college football. Its an amazing story. For him to be successful at the next level, I think he needs time to soak up information in a veteran heavy locker room in order to humble himself. The Jets already have a couple of vets at the position so, Mayfield will have plenty of time to study up and later prove himself.

4. Cleveland Browns – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State: This is the dream scenario if your Cleveland. You take a risk with drafting a QB first overall but then the best player in the draft is still available at the fourth pick. I have been a long time supporter of NOT drafting a running back in the top 10 of the draft but I’m willing to ignore that this time because of the team involved. My thing is that team’s that regularly compete for championships usually do not draft RB’s early. Well, Cleveland isn’t competing for championships anytime soon. They just need to best talent. I think Barkley was better at Penn State than Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette were in college. Barkley has everything you would want at the RB position and he would join a talented RB group in Cleveland, which will be key for keeping him fresh. Barkley could totally transform the Browns offense and the league, as he reminds me of the second coming of Marshall Faulk.

5. Denver Broncos – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming: I don’t believe that John Elway is ready to roll with Case Keenum. I’m not a big fan of Josh Allen but I know that he’ll probably end up going after Mayfield in the draft. Allen has the strongest arm in the draft and is sort of athletic, so the scouts absolutely love him. I feel like QB’s like him always look the part during the process getting to the draft but then they end up not panning out. I can see Denver falling for this in this draft.

6. Indianapolis Colts – Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State: The Colts, who traded back, will end the run on QB’s. Bradley Chubb is the best pass rusher in this draft. Chubb isn’t as dynamic as an athlete as last year’s number one pick, Myles Garrett. But he is still really good and the Colts sack totals as a team last season ranked among the bottom in the league. They could absolutely use his talents.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama: Minkah Fitzpatrick is one of the most versatile players in this draft. Tampa could use him as a ball hawk safety or as a pass defender in nickel situations. Fitzpatrick has a knack for making plays around the football and thats something that the Bucs defense could use. Their pass defense ranked last in the league in 2017.

8. Chicago Bears – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech: The Bears need a new inside presence at linebacker. Edmunds looks like he could play for the Bulls. He is crazy athletic but plays with a certain physicality that will make him popular with Chicago fans.

((((TRADE)))) 49ers trade ninth overall pick to Giants for 12th overall pick and 2nd round pick (34).

9. New York Giants – Quentin Nelson, OG, Notre Dame: After trading out of the top ten, the Giants return to help their offensive line. Nelson is regarded as the best offensive lineman in the draft and drafting him could go a long ways in helping the Giants run game improve.

10. Oakland Raiders – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia: Roquan Smith is probably the best LB in the draft and rumor has it that Jon Gruden really likes him. Smith could probably go higher than 10 but there are some whispers about injury concerns. But if healthy, Smith will be a do-it-all defender in the middle of the Raiders defense for years to come.

11. Miami Dolphins – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama: The Dolphins need a Ndamukong Suh replacement. Payne is a disruptor that would shine in Miami’s 4-3 scheme.

12. San Francisco 49ers – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State: The Niners will land the best corner in the draft. Ward is a short but scrappy defender. He offers great speed and quickness while supplying ideal support in the run game as a tackler. Richard Sherman will serve as a great mentor for him.

13. Washington – Vita Vea, DT, Washington: Washington had the worst run defense in the league last season despite having one of the better defensive tackles dropping to them in the first round of last year’s draft. Vita Vea is an absolute load that will demand plenty of attention from opposing offensive lineman.

14. Green Bay Packers – Marcus Davenport, OLB/DE, UTSA: I think the Packers will think hard about taking a WR here but I also think they need to start thinking about life after Clay Matthews. I have them taking Marcus Davenport. He’s a small school product but is one of the best edge defenders in this draft.

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Lamar Jackson probably should be drafted in the top ten.

15. Arizona Cardinals – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville: I don’t like the way Arizona handled their QB situation during this offseason. Placing your faith in Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon doesn’t really inspire much confidence. But it does tell me that they need to think about taking a QB for the future. Lamar Jackson is as talented as any QB in this draft. There are question marks about his durability, his arm, and his talent as a passer. But you could easily say the same about every QB in this draft. Jackson may have to prove himself as a passer early in his career but he has one thing that is undeniable in his wheelhouse: speed. Jackson has “home run” capable speed in his arsenal, which will make him attractive to NFL teams. I think Arizona would be smart to take a chance with this kid who won the Heisman as a junior in college.

16. Baltimore Ravens – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame: Baltimore could go a lot of ways with this selection. I chose for them to play it safe and shore up the right side of their offensive line. The Ravens could potentially take Joe Flacco’s successor here or a new weapon in the passing game. But, an offensive tackle to help that offense isn’t a bad idea.

17. Los Angeles Chargers – Derwin James, S, Florida State: This will probably be consider a steal in most draft circles. Derwin James is a “do-it-all” defender in the secondary. I question how high his ceiling is as he doesn’t seem like a great pass defender but more of a “in-the-box” safety. But his athleticism and physicality will help him become very successful no matter the role he finds in the secondary.

18. Seattle Seahawks – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa: Richard Sherman is gone. The Legion of Boom is going under a face lift and a corner here would make a ton of sense.

((((TRADE)))) Cowboys trade 19th overall pick and 4th round pick (116) to Patriots for 23rd overall pick and 2nd round pick (63).

19. New England Patriots – Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA: The Patriots desperately need a replacement for Nate Solder on the offensive line. So, they’ll trade up with Dallas to grab the next best tackle. Kolton Miller will remain Patriots fans of Solder with how tall he is and hopefully with his play. New England will need Miller to play at a high level right away especially for an older QB.

20. Detroit Lions – Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan: The Lions are looking for youth on the defensive line. Hurst, from near by Ann Arbor, is undersized but very talented as a pass rusher.

21. Cincinnati Bengals – James Daniels, C, Iowa: Cincinnati’s running game has suffered in the last couple seasons. They need to shore up the interior of their offensive line to help Joe Mixon and Gio Bernard.

22. New York Giants – Harold Landry, DE, Boston College: After trading away Jason Pierre Paul, the Giants are in need for pass rushers. Landry has been one of the top pass rushers in college football during the last two seasons. He will fill a need for the Giants who have this selection due to a trade earlier with Buffalo.

23. Dallas Cowboys – Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP: Dallas could easily go with a WR or LB in the first round. But I think the Dez Bryant release taught us that they will depend heavily on the run game going forward now more than ever. Dallas can solidify the left guard position by drafting Hernandez who is an absolute mauler.

24. Carolina Panthers – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama: Cam Newton would love this selection. Ridley is the first WR off the board but he will probably go before the 24th pick. Ridley offers great speed and elite route running but he isn’t your prototypical Alabama receiver. He isn’t as physically gifted as Julio Jones and he is more like a lesser version of Amari Cooper. Ridley is a good player and he could be a good pro but he doesn’t have that “wow” factor like WR’s in past drafts.

25. Tennessee Titans – Leighton Vader Esch, LB, Boise State: Vader Esch is another player who might go closer to the middle of the first round despite rumors about his health. He is a good down hill tackler as a LB and he would provide some much needed depth at the position for Tennessee.

26. Atlanta Falcons – Taven Bryan, DT, Florida: Florida’s Taven Bryan will offer some versatility on the Falcons defensive line. He is big enough to play inside and is athletic enough to rush from the outside. He is raw as a football player and he may be a project before becoming a full time contributor.

27. New Orleans Saints – Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina: The Saints get Drew Brees the top TE in the draft.  Hurst, a former baseball player, could help create some mismatches with his height.

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With the Ryan Shazier injury, Pittsburgh could really use a LB like Rashaan Evans

28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama: Pittsburgh needs LB help with the status of Ryan Shazier in the air. Taking a Alabama LB has proven to be risky recently outside of Baltimore’s CJ Mosley. But Evans is among one the most talented players at the position in the draft. I think he is undersized but in a 3-4 scheme, Pittsburgh could use him in the middle or as a situational pass rusher.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars – D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland: Moore is probably my favorite WR in this draft. Moore is a quick, tough, playmaker who reminds me of another Maryland receiver: Stephon Diggs. Jacksonville should be looking for a WR after losing Allen Robinson in free agency.

30. Minnesota Vikings – Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia: Minnesota is excited about Kirk Cousins but they should really be excited about the return of Dalvin Cook who missed most of last season due to injury. With a healthy Cook and this selection of a young, upcoming guard, Minnesota could have a really strong running game.

31. New England Patriots – Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn: New England’s secondary has been a joke for a while now. They need help.

32. Philadelphia Eagles – Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville: Philadelphia’s secondary isn’t that much better than New England’s. Jaire Alexander is a playmaker who does his most damage as a returner, usually after interceptions.

ROUND TWO

33. Cleveland Browns – Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford: Cleveland can address their run defense with this selection.

34. San Francisco 49ers – Justin Reid, S, Stanford: San Francisco moved on from Eric Reid so they’ll draft his little brother from nearby Stanford here.

35. Cleveland Browns – Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh: Joe Thomas retired this offseason. The Browns need young bodies on that offensive line.

36. Indianapolis Colts – Derrius Guice, RB, LSU: Frank Gore left to go home to Miami. Indy desperately needs a young RB.

37. Indianapolis Colts – Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida: The Colts have two straight selections in round two. With the second one, they’ll take a corner to replace Vontae Davis who was traded away to Buffalo.

38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Sony Michel, RB, Georgia: Sony Michel has shot up draft boards during this process. He was considered the “second banana” in the backfield while at Georgia but he helped form one of the better RB duos in CFB. Michel isn’t the fastest RB but he can get tough yards and prove to be valuable on passing downs.

39. Chicago Bears – Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado: You can never have enough corners.

40. Denver Broncos – Ronald Jones, RB, USC: Denver recently cut C.J. Anderson and that created a need at RB.

41. Oakland Raiders – Joseph Noteboom, OT, TCU: Oakland needs depth behind Donald Penn at tackle.

42. Miami Dolphins – Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State: This could be the steal of the draft. Gesicki has the ideal size and speed that team’s would want at TE. Miami needs a target at TE after the disaster that was Julius Thomas.

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New England needs to find a possible Brady successor in round two. Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph could be it.

43. New England Patriots – Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State: The Patriots got rid of three different Tom Brady backups in the past two years. Rudolph would make a lot of sense here.

44. Washington – Donte Jackson, CB, LSU: Washington doesn’t have much at corner behind Norman and newly acquired Orlando Scandrick.

45. Green Bay Packers – Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M: Kirk will prove to be a great receiver in the slot for Aaron Rodgers.

46. Cincinnati Bengals – Darius Leonard, OLB, South Carolina State: The Bengals need to start grooming a replacement for the problematic Vontaze Burfict at LB. Leonard is a small school product but offers much athleticism.

47. Arizona Cardinals – Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma: Arizona had one of the worst offensive line last season. They need to explore a way to upgrade that unit for no matter who is starting at QB.

48. Los Angeles Chargers – Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech: The Chargers need to get younger on the defensive line. Tim Settle is one of the biggest defensive tackles in the draft and he’ll help improve LA’s run defense.

49.Indianapolis Colts – Connor Williams, OG/OT, Texas: The Colts could use a young blocker to help improve their run game. Conor Williams could play at tackle or move inside to guard.

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After the release of Dez Bryant, Dallas might not have to look far for WR help.

50. Dallas Cowboys – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU: Dallas created a need at WR when they released Dez Bryant last week. Courtland Sutton is a local kid who would love the chance to become an outside threat for Dak Prescott in the passing game. Sutton isn’t a speedster but his size makes it hard for defenders to deal with. He could develop as a new jump ball target in the red zone for Dallas.

51. Detroit Lions – Billy Price, OG/C, Ohio State: The Lions need help at improving one of the worst running games in football from a season ago. The selection of Price would address the woes on the interior of Detroit’s offensive line.

52. Baltimore Ravens – Tegray Scales, LB, Indiana: Baltimore needs depth at LB behind all-pro C.J. Mosley.

53. Buffalo Bills – Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis: Miller could develop into an ideal slot receiver as a pro.

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Arden Key was a pass rush specialist at LSU

54. Kansas City Chiefs – Arden Key, OLB, LSU: After the departure of Tamba Hali, the Chiefs need to find younger pass rushers. Key is undersized but could excel as an outside rusher in a 3-4 defense.

55. Carolina Panthers – Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama: Carolina needs help in the secondary after addressing the offensive side of the ball earlier.

56. New York Giants – Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia: Chubb might have a lot of milage on him but he was one of the most talented backs in college football during his time at Georgia.

57. Tennessee Titans – Lorenzo Carter, OLB, Georgia: Tennessee can use Carter for depth behind veterans Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan.

58. Atlanta Falcons – Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State: Atlanta never get enough out of the TE position. They need an upgrade.

59. San Francisco 49ers – Austin Corbett, OG, Nevada: This pick would be for depth for recently signed Jonathan Cooper.

60. Pittsburgh Steelers – Will Richardson, OT, NC State: Pittsburgh’s offensive line is pretty good but they aren’t getting younger. Especially at the tackle position.

61. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jerome Baker, OLB, Ohio State: Jacksonville may need a young LB to replace Paul Posluszny who recently retired.

62. Minnesota Vikings – Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State: You can never have enough pass rushers.

63. Dallas Cowboys – Nyheim Hines, RB, NC State: This could be a reach but Dallas needs to think about the RB position after the retirement of Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris was not resigned. Hines is a speedy back who could develop into a Darren Sproles type player.

64. Cleveland Browns – James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State: Washington was regarded as one of the top pass catchers in the nation while at Oklahoma State. He could provide whoever is at QB with a pretty reliable target.

 

NFL Playoffs: 2018 Wild-Card Weekend Predictions!

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

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 9-7

2017 Regular Season: 151-103

NFL Playoffs: Wild-Card Weekend

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

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

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

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

NFL 2017: Week 17 Predictions! (Condensed)

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints

Matt Ryan and the Falcons are looking to clinch a spot in the postseason on Sunday against the Panthers.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 12-4

Season: 142-96

Week 17 Predictions

Lions over Packers – As Green Bay has already shut down for 2017, Detroit has slim playoff hopes.

Colts over Texans – I’m not giving Houston much of a shot without DeAndre Hopkins. I’m looking for Indy to give head coach Chuck Pagano a good send off.

Bears over Vikings – Minnesota cant catch Philly for home field in the NFC and the NFC South champ is locked in on the third seed. With no motivation for the Viks, Chicago will give a good effort on the road for John Fox? I’m not even sure on that one.

Patriots over Jets – New England’s goal is to wrap up home field in the AFC by half time in order to give the starters some rest.

Washington over Giants – So much turmoil in that Giants locker room. Can they keep it together to give Eli Manning a proper home send off? I doubt it. Kirk Cousins might be auditioning for the Giants in this game.

Eagles over Cowboys – Philly has nothing to play for but luckily for them, the 8-8 Cowboys are back.

Steelers over Browns – I wondering if all the James Harrison talk all week has over shadowed Pittsburgh’s actual opponent this week. Pittsburgh is even seceding the AFC to New England assuming that they will smash the Jets. I find this strange. Strange things could happen here with the Steelers “B team” but I’m not brave enough to pick Cleveland to stop the “perfect season”.

Falcons over Panthers – I think Carolina is the better team but Atlanta has more to play for and they are at home. Carolina has already clinched a playoff spot.

Chiefs over Broncos – Alex Smith won’t play in this meaningless game but Kansas City will still be able to amount more offense than Denver.

Jaguars over Titans – Tennessee embarrassed Jacksonville in their first meeting this season. The Jags are a different team now and I’m sure that they haven’t forgot about that earlier loss. Tennessee has been treading downward for weeks now.

49ers over Rams – The Rams will be resting most of their starters. San Fran looks like they have a future now thanks to acquisition of Jimmy Garoppolo.

Dolphins over Bills – Miami’s defense has responded well at home this season. They gut out a tough one on Sunday keeping Buffalo from the playoffs.

Chargers over Raiders – With the Titans losing, the Chargers will gladly sneak in the playoffs with a win over Oakland. We’ll have both LA teams in the postseason. How weird.

Cardinals over Seahawks – Seattle’s structure is crumbling. Arizona will deliver a crushing blow to their playoff chances on Sunday.

Saints over Buccaneers – New Orleans still has to clinch NFC South with Carolina breathing down their backs.

Ravens over Bengals – This will be a fitting end to the Marvin Lewis era in Cincy.

NFL 2017: Week 16 Predictions! (Condensed)

Todd Gurley

Todd Gurley and the Rams are looking strong in the NFC weeks away from the post-season.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 12-4

Season: 132-92

Week 16 Picks

Ravens over Colts – Indianapolis allowed Brock Osweiler to look like a serviceable QB last week. Joe Flacco and the Ravens are marching towards a post-season berth.

Vikings over Packers – With Atlanta winning last week, Green Bay is eliminated from postseason contention and they are shutting down key players like Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams. Minnesota is rolling with plenty left to play for.

Browns over Bears – Cleveland gotta win this week. Because they wont win in Pittsburgh next week. I don’t want to see a 0-16 team.

Bengals over Lions – Going out on a limb here. Cincy has been awful recently. Detroit is fighting for a playoff spot but isn’t doing so convincingly. Expect a big game from A.J. Green.

Rams over Titans – I’m ready to close the book on the Titans season. Marcus Mariota’s struggles seem to be holding the team back. The Rams are getting hot at the right time. They could be a tough out in the playoffs.

Chiefs over Dolphins – Kansas City saved their season last week at home. I see more home cooking this week against Jay Cutler.

Patriots over Bills – I wonder if certain Buffalo defenders will be gunning for Rob Gronkowski in this game. Buffalo should stay away from that as a loss here in Foxboro could really be damaging to their post-season dreams.

Saints over Falcons – New Orleans lost their composure in Atlanta two weeks ago. They learn from that and bounce back strong at home this time.

Chargers over Jets – The Chargers still have postseason hopes. They may be slim but there’s a chance.

Washington over Broncos – Defenses will look good in this one. Kirk Cousins will do more to win it than lose it at home.

Panthers over Buccaneers – Tampa is too injured to play spoiler here.

Jaguars over 49ers – This is a trap game for Jacksonville. San Fran is playing well with Jimmy Garoppolo under center. The Jaguars defense must get in his face early and often.

Cowboys over Seahawks – The return of Ezekiel Elliott will be huge. The status of left tackle Tyron Smith will be bigger. Seattle got crushed last week. I don’t see them being able to bounce back on the road. Russell Wilson will have to win this game pretty much by himself. Not impossible but it will be tough for him with the state of his offensive line.

Giants over Cardinals – Eli Manning will basically be auditioning for Bruce Arians.

Steelers over Texans – Pittsburgh on the road against a bad Houston team. Get ready for all the “playing down to their weaker opponents” narrative. The Steelers will have to try really hard to lose this one on the road.

Eagles over Raiders – Oakland isn’t the team they were in 2016. The Eagles will dominate another weaker opponent this week. Sigh.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Cam Newton (Panthers) – Newton is playing well right now and Tampa allows the most yards through the air.

RB: C.J. Anderson (Broncos) – Anderson will get his touches with the Broncos QB situation the way it is.

WR: Adam Thielen (Vikings) – Adam Thielen has been a great story this season. Him and Stefon Diggs should have a solid day at the office against the Green Bay secondary.

TE: Antonio Gates (Chargers) – Gates is back as the main option at the TE position for the Chargers. Rivers will look for him in the red zone.

DEF: Baltimore – The Ravens defense will put on a strong performance at home against an almost toothless Colts offense.