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NFL 2019: Week 10 Predictions

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Seattle Seahawks

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

 

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 9-5

Season: 78-56-1

Top Five Games of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

The Rest of Week 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NFL 2019: Week 9 Predictions

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Sitting with a 4-4 record, the Jaguars are still in the hunt for a AFC South title.

 

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 11-4

Season: 69-51-1

Top Five Games of the Week

Houston @ Jacksonville – Sitting at 4-4, the Jaguars are still firmly in the race for the AFC South crown even after trading away Jalen Ramsey. On Sunday, they’ll host Houston in a pivotal divisional matchup. Currently, Jacksonville has a lot going for them. RB Leonard Fournette is healthy and is among the league leading rushers. QB Gardner Minshew is making spectacular plays week after week. And Jacksonville still has one of the best defensive lines in the game. Houston will be shorthanded for the rest of the season on defense with J.J. Watt being out. Deshaun Watson played great last week but I wonder if he’ll be affected by his eye injury. Houston may have to lean on their rushing attack on offense if Watson isn’t right. But for what whatever reason, WR DeAndre Hopkins always seems to have a big game against Jacksonville. Houston will have to find a way to get him involved early and often to secure a big victory on the road. Prediction: Texans over Jaguars

Minnesota @ Kansas City – Even with the lost at home to Green Bay, I think the Chiefs can leave that game with some confidence. The offense did not really miss too many beats without Patrick Mahomes. Kansas City’s weakness on defense, the secondary, was exposed but that shouldn’t have been a surprise. Especially with facing Aaron Rodgers. The Chiefs will be home again this week against a Minnesota team that is starting to gain some traction. Kirk Cousins is starting to play more “loose” and the offense is benefitting. RB Dalvin Cook is also having a strong season on the ground. The Chiefs’ defense will have to key on him and force Cousins to beat them through the air. I think the wideouts in this game will have plenty of opportunities to show out. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are one of the top receiving duos in the league right now. But Kansas City will be able to match them with the weapons Matt Moore has in his huddle; Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, Sammy Watkins, Travis Kelce, etc. Prediction: Chiefs over Vikings

Indianapolis @ Pittsburgh – The Colts showed a lot of meddle last week in their win at home over Denver. The big completion on the final drive from Jacoby Brissett to T.Y. Hilton, really showed this team’s will to win. On Sunday, they’ll travel to Pittsburgh to face a desperate Steelers team. Pittsburgh overcame a slow start against Miami last week at home and they need to keep it going in order to keep their slim post-season hopes alive. Pittsburgh’s defense has shined in the past couple of weeks. Their ability to pressure the QB and create turnovers will help them against any opponent. Unfortunately, the offense can’t get over the rash of injuries that continue to hit them at the QB position and now at the RB position. I think the Pittsburgh defense can keep them in this one but the Colts are the better, more complete team right now. Prediction: Colts over Steelers

Tennessee @ Carolina – Tennessee is technically in the AFC South basement but at 4-4 they still have an outside shot at the division. Carolina is firmly in second in the NFC South but are coming off a humbling loss at San Fran.  The Panthers are going to stick with Kyle Allen at QB but as long as RB Christian McCaffery is playing like a MVP, they’ll be okay offensively. I think Tennessee’s RB Derrick Henry could be in line for a big performance Sunday as he will be facing a struggling Panthers’ run defense. This game could come down to which QB can make the most plays while avoiding turnovers. QB Ryan Tannehill might face an uphill battle as the Panthers do offer one of the league’s best secondaries. Prediction: Panthers over Titans

New England @ Baltimore – In recent history, the Ravens and Patriots have played in some hard-hitting matchups and is an underrated rivalry in the AFC. This year’s game on Sunday will feature one the leagues top rushing offenses versus one of the leagues top rushing defenses. The Patriots don’t really have a “star” player on defense but they don’t need one either. They just seem to get the job done. Rather it is turnovers or big stops on short yardage situations. They just get the job done. It’s a staple in Bill Belichick’s coaching philosophy. “Do your job.” The Ravens are going to have to carefully pick their spots against the Patriots’ defense. Lamar Jackson has plenty of ability but he must avoid the big mistakes on Sunday. Mark Ingram and all of Baltimore’s ball carriers must protect the football against this opportunistic defense. The matchup between the Ravens defense and the Patriots offense features two average units. But it has been the Patriots defense that has made the job for Tom Brady easier this year. Baltimore will hang tough in this one but I see New England figuring it out, as they always seem to do. Prediction: Patriots over Ravens

The Rest of Week 9

49ers over Cardinals – Even on a short week, I see San Fran continuing their dominance.

Bills over Washington – Hopefully for Buffalo, last week was just a hiccup.

Jets over Dolphins – I like this Jets teams’ attitude. Yeah, they stink but they’re as bad as Miami.

Eagles over Bears – I can’t give Chicago a chance given their situation at QB. Khalil Mack will have to take over each game on defense at this point.

Raiders over Lions – Oakland doesn’t have many “home” games so I expect them to put out a great effort this week in front of the black and silver.

Seahawks over Buccaneers – As steady as Russell Wilson has been this season, that’s how unsteady Jameis Winston has been.

Browns over Broncos – Cleveland’s defense must show up against a QB who is seeing his first pro action in his career on Sunday for Denver.

Packers over Chargers – Green Bay seems to win the games that the Chargers always find a way to lose.

Cowboys over Giants – Here’s another situation for Dallas to hit their “high-percentage” shots. The Giants will come out attacking on offense. The Cowboys defense must continue to pressure the QB and cause turnovers. Their offense should be able to control the game, as New York’s defense isn’t very good.

NFL 2019: Week 8 Predictions

Carolina is fresh off the bye week and winners of 4 straight. They’ll meet undefeated San Francisco this weekend.

 

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 7-7

Season: 58-47-1

Top Five Games of the Week

Philadelphia @ Buffalo – It shouldn’t be that big of a mystery of why Buffalo is sitting firmly in 2nd place in the AFC East. The Bills are getting it done defensively especially on the road. They will be at home this Sunday against a Eagles team who were embarrassed last week in Dallas. Philadelphia’s issues on defense have been persistent this season. The Eagles have also been a victim to their own sloppy play on offense. Buffalo’s offensive isn’t what I would call “explosive” but they are efficient. If Buffalo can stay the course offensively, control the clock, and stay away from turnover, their defense can usually take care of the rest. QB Carson Wentz needs to get back on track but he’ll face a highly ranked Bills secondary on Sunday. Prediction: Bills over Eagles

Carolina @ San Francisco – Carolina should be fresh coming off the bye but they’ll still be without QB Cam Newton. Without Newton, Carolina has caught fire offensively and are currently sporting a 4 game winning streak. On Sunday, they travel to San Francisco who still hasn’t lost this season. I think this game will come down to play at the line of scrimmage. San Fran’s defense has been getting it done upfront with an elite pass rush and a top ranked secondary. Carolina’s defense is improved this season and their secondary ranks not too far behind the Niners’. QB Jimmy Garoppolo will be eager to get newly acquired WR Emmanuel Sanders involved in his offense. Carolina will also have to deal with the 49ers rushing attack. Panthers RB Christian McCaffery is currently playing like a MVP candidate and the 49ers defense will have to key on him on every possession. This will probably be one of the best matchups of the weekend. It’s a shame that not many in the country will be able to see it. Prediction: 49ers over Panthers

Arizona @ New Orleans – I’m not sure how but the Arizona Cardinals have won three straight after starting the season 0-3-1. They’ll easily face their toughest test of the season on Sunday when they face the Saints. The Saints haven’t missed a beat since losing QB Drew Brees to injury. You have to give credit to QB Teddy Bridgewater for keeping this offense afloat in his absence. I think the Cardinals are in big trouble this weekend because of two things: The New Orleans defense and the crowd noise inside the Super Dome. Arizona’s defense is going to have to come up with some big plays in order to keep this one close. If their pass rush and disrupt Bridgewater, they could have a chance. Prediction: Saints over Cardinals

Cleveland @ New England – This might have seemed to be a good matchup on paper when the NFL schedule was released last spring. The Browns do have two wins on this season but they have been the complete opposite of New England. They are sloppy, undisciplined, and wilt when under the microscope. Talent wise, Cleveland is on par with many top teams in the league. I think, at least. Odell Beckham Jr has been a disappointment but he is still usually really good. Same can be said for WR Jarvius Landry. QB Baker Mayfield takes a lot of heat but I think he is better than what he has shown this season. Cleveland’s offensive line has been a huge issue and each week I wonder why they haven’t offered the farm to Washington for LT Trent Williams. That move could potentially save their season. But now, lets go back to reality: New England is going kick Cleveland’s butt on Sunday. New England’s defense will be a nightmare for Mayfield and Beckham will throw many sideline tantrums. If Tom Brady can steer clear of Browns DE Myles Garrett, he’ll have an easy day at the office. Prediction: Patriots over Browns

Green Bay @ Kansas City – NBC Executives must have been screaming bloody murder over the news of the Patrick Mahomes injury. The possible matchup of Aaron Rodgers and Mahomes would have been must see TV. Despite Mahomes’ injury, I still think we’ll see a good game on Sunday night. Matt Moore is…well…Matt Moore. But he knows the offense and the Chiefs still have plenty of offensive weapons. Rodgers had a classic game last week completely dominating Oakland. He’ll have a much tougher go at it on Sunday. I think Kansas City’s defense is underrated. They struggle against the run but they do have a legit pass rush. Outside of the Smith bros on defense, Green Bay is pretty average defensively. I think Moore will play safe, mistake free football at home and score a slight upset over the overrated Packers. Prediction: Chiefs over Packers

The Rest of Week 8

Vikings over Washington – The last time these two teams played, Case Keenum was starting for Minnesota and Kirk Cousins was in Washington. Just one of those weird stats.

Seahawks over Falcons – Atlanta is phoning it in. The Falcons’ faithful will be booing a lot.

Bears over Chargers – LA just keeps finding interesting way to lose.

Lions over Giants – Detroit needs this one to stay on track in the NFC North.

Buccaneers over Titans – We know that Tampa can score and they’ll be fresh coming off their bye week.

Colts over Broncos – Indy firmly took control of the AFC South last week. They can afford a let down at home.

Rams over Bengals – The fire sale in Cincinnati will be starting real soon. How much for one Geno Atkins? Just asking for a friend.

Jaguars over Jets – Who should be more embarrassed: the Jets for how they looked last week or Dallas who lost to them two weeks ago?

Texans over Raiders – Deshaun Watson must shake off last week and attack Oakland’s secondary that gave up gazillion yards through the air last Sunday.

Steelers over Dolphins – Pittsburgh can’t overlook winless Miami. A win here would give the Steelers some hope going forward.

NFL 2019: Week 6 Predictions

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

 

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 8-7

Season: 44-33-1

Top Five Games of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

The Rest of Week 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NFL 2019: Week 1 Predictions

Carolina Panthers v New England Patriots

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

By: Elias McMillan

 

Past Regular Season Records:

2014 Regular Season Record: 158-97-1

2015 Regular Season Record: 163-93

2016 Regular Season Record: 163-91-2

2017 Regular Season Record: 151-103

2018 Regular Season Record: 150-104-2

 

Top Five Games of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

The Rest of Week 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

NFL 2019: Random Divisional Thoughts & a Pre-Season Super Bowl Prediction

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Can Drew Brees and the Saints finally make a return to the Super Bowl this season?

By: Elias McMillan

Before we start the season this weekend, here are some of my random thoughts about the goings on in each division. Plus, I’ll include my always-wrong pre-season Super Bowl prediction.

NFC East

The biggest topic in Dallas this offseason has been the contract situations for the team’s youngest stars. As a Cowboys fan, my attitude about this has remained unchanged: I don’t care. Lets just win a championship. Jerry Jones has handed out extensions to a couple of guys already but as I type this, the Ezekiel Elliott deal hasn’t been completed yet. I’ve never been too worried about this situation and I’ve always been sure that Elliott would not sit out the season. Elliott is the most important player on the roster and he deserves the money. But as Mr. Jones said earlier this offseason, you do not need a rushing champion to win a championship. And he’s absolutely right. But if that’s the case, why draft a guy like Elliott 4thoverall? Why then proceed to build the entire offense around that position? The bottom line is that for Dallas to compete for a championship this year, they are going to need the defense to repeat what they did last season and for Dak Prescott to play above average football. Now, Zeke can win you ballgames but for Dallas to go far, I believe both of those things will play a factor. And no matter what fans or analysts say, this division will be a dogfight. It always is. Philly probably has the best roster in the division from top to bottom. No one is expecting much from Wash or NYG but that could potentially make them dangerous. I believe it will come down to Philly and Dallas but this division will definitely will not be a cakewalk.

NFC North

It’s going to be interesting to see how Chicago deals with success. The target in this division is now on their back. I just don’t think Green Bay or Detroit has enough to compete with them this year. That leaves Minnesota who returns with a talented roster and a chip on their shoulder after disappointing last year. Chicago’s defense will be elite again with LB Khalil Mack but the difference maker on this team will have to come from their offense. QB Mitch Trubisky must continue to progress. Minnesota has the talent on both sides of the ball to over take Chicago this year. They just have to stay healthy and QB Kirk Cousins has to perform well in big spots.

NFC South

Despite all of their recent failures in the playoffs, the championship window is still open in New Orleans. The Saints are deep with talent and experience and they are my favorite in the conference. I think Carolina will be improved this season and they will make the playoffs. Though, I’m already concerned with the health of Cam Newton. I don’t think Newton knows how to play differently in terms of body conservation. We all know he can do amazing things on the run but recently, they has placed his health at risk. I hope Newton’s shoulder is healed from a season ago and he can show once again what he can do with his arm. I’m rooting for Bruce Arians in Tampa. He’s a good coach and he’s surrounded himself with a good staff. It’s going to take some time for him to right the ship in Tampa and I hope the organization gives him that time.

NFC West

I don’t think the Jadaveon Clowney trade changes much in this division but it definitely makes Seattle a better football team. The Seahawks might have a defense now as good as they had during their Super Bowl runs. It will be up to Russell Wilson and the passing game to do enough even though they will be leaning on some inexperience at the WR position. QB Jimmy Garoppolo has received mixed reviews in the preseason. It would be a shame if he doesn’t pan out this season for the 49ers. I think San Fran has the pieces to be the next dominant defense in this division. But they won’t do much winning if the offense doesn’t produce. Garoppolo will be under a lot of pressure in 2019. Not to mention that LA, Arizona, and now Seattle all have elite pass rushers.

AFC East

Head coach Brian Flores won’t admit it but it’s true: the Miami Dolphins are tanking. The trading away of expensive veterans would have made sense months ago but to do so just days before the season sends a very clear message. I feel bad for QB Josh Rosen. Though he is not starting, he now walks into another tough situation in Miami. It will be interesting to see if the remade Jets are improved this year. If not, it looks like New England will walk right into another division title.

AFC North

The time to talk in Cleveland is over. All the hype means nothing now. They are 0-0. It’s hard to disappoint when you only won 7 games last season but it sounds like anything but a playoff berth for the Browns will be deemed as so. As I said before, Cleveland must crawl before they can walk. For me, crawling will be showing that they can 8 games. I think Pittsburgh is going to be super motivated at least for the beginning of the season. I think the lost of AB and the lack of talent will catch to them eventually this season. It could be around Week 7 or if they meet New England in the post season. Per usual.

AFC South

Houston is getting dragged by fans and critics for the Clowney trade, but now they are suddenly the favorites in this division. Without Clowney, they still have JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus to provide a pass rush. And the trade for Laremy Tunsil will upgrade the offensive line that looked awful in the preseason. I wouldn’t count Indianapolis out in this division as well. I think the team will rally around QB Jacoby Brissett and play some good ball. What also caught my attention in the preseason in this division: Jaguars rookie LB Josh Allen. He has looked beastly at times and Jacksonville’s defense could make a return to dominance with him in the fold. The Luck retirement has made the race in the AFC South very interesting and this is before a single game has been played.

AFC West

I really liked the Chargers going into this season but the Derwin James injury is an absolute killer. I think LA will still be able to compete in this division but they lost one of the top talents with that injury. Kansas City has been a question mark with me this offseason because of the Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt situations. But Hill has been made available and the Chiefs’ backfield looks really solid now with the signing of Shady McCoy. The Chiefs offense will be scary once again in 2019.

Super Bowl LIV Prediction

Well, if we learned anything last year, its that New England reign at the top isn’t over yet no matter how badly we all want it to be. The Pats will once again walk thru the AFC East and skate past all comers in January. New Orleans looks like the class of the NFC going into 2019. But as good as they look, we all know the result if they meet Brady and the Pats in Miami early February. Prediction: Patriots over Saints

NFL 2019: NFC Preview

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

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

 

By: Elias McMillan

 

NFC EAST

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

NFC NORTH

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

NFC SOUTH

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

NFC WEST

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