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NFL 2016: AFC South Preview

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The Jaguars are young, talented, and finally ready for success in 2016.

By: Elias McMillan

 

AFC South

Houston Texans – Houston had so many issues last season especially at the QB position but they were able to back their way into a playoff berth and the division title. They didn’t last long in the post season but the narrative for the offseason was set: for Houston to improve, they will need to upgrade the QB position in the offseason. Houston ponied up the money to grab Brock Osweiler away from Denver but it isn’t a sure thing that Osweiler will end up as a better option that what the Texans had a season ago. I don’t think Osweiler will ever be worth the money Houston decided to pay him but when he was in Denver, he was on a team with a decent supporting cast. Houston will have the tools on offense that could help Osweiler succeed. At WR, Houston has outstanding depth led by DeAndre Hopkins, who is great no matter who is throwing him the ball. But again, the depth behind Hopkins is pretty legit with veteran Cecil Shorts and younger guys like Jaelen Strong and rookies Will Fuller and Braxton Miller. That’s as good of a 5-set of receivers that you will find in the league. The Texans continued to be the big spenders in the offseason on the offensive side again when they brought in a new starting RB, Lamar Miller from Miami. Miller was a decent player for some bad Miami teams and he might be even better here in a new location. Houston spent the money to improve on the offensive side and now, they should be able to count on the defense being as good as it was a season ago. Everyone knows that the catalyst on this defense and the entire franchise is J.J. Watt. Watt might miss the beginning of the season but he’ll return and will continue to be an unstoppable force. Houston will return most of the cast that accounted for a run defense that ranked in the top 10 in the league. In at middle linebacker, Brian Cushing and Benardrick McKinney should be a good mix of veteran leadership and youth. Houston has been waiting forever for Jadeveon Clowney to turn into something after being selected first overall in 2014. Clowney has shown flashes of his college self during the preseason and the Texans defense is going to need him to be that guy once the regular season starts. Starting opposite of Clowney, Whitney Mercilus has been a solid pass rusher in this league. Houston’s pass defense was ranked 3rd in the league last season. A solid group at CB that includes veterans Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson leads the secondary. I don’t think Houston is among the elite teams in the league but I think they’ll be good enough to win this weak division again. Prediction: 9-7 (AFC South Champs)

Jacksonville Jaguars – The AFC South is not strong division but I think this will serve as an advantage for this young Jaguars team that is looking to make the jump in 2016. I like what Jacksonville has done in the offseason. They have a great group of young talent. And I believe that they will challenge hard for the AFC South title this year. On offense, they are led by young QB Blake Bortles who really isnt known as a great QB in this league yet. I don’t know if Bortles will put up monster numbers week after week but I do know that he has a great rapport with the two talented receivers on this team. Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are no longer the best-kept secret in the league. They are among the tops when you talk about receiving duos in the NFL currently. Bortles also has a great set of TE to throw to in Julius Thomas and Marcedes Lewis. I really like that the Jaguars put in the effort in free agency to improve the offensive line and the running game. I think the RB duo of T.J. Yeldon and newly acquired Chris Ivory will help a Jaguars rushing attack that ranked near the bottom of the NFL a season ago. I’m really excited to see what this young defense does this year too. DE Dante Fowler had a “red shirt” rookie season, as he didn’t play at all due to injury. Fowler is now back at 100% and looks every bit the third overall pick that he was a season ago. In free agency, they brought in DT Malik Jackson who was a great player on the defensive line during Denver’s Super Bowl run. Jackson will bring the veteran experience to lead this young and talented group up front for the Jaguars. I really like the group of linebackers that Jacksonville has assembled. LB Paul Posluszny is now the seasoned veteran in the middle and he’ll be surrounded by two amazingly athletically gifted LB’s in Telvin Smith and rookie Myles Jack. The speed at the LB position between Smith and Jack will be unreal to see on Sunday’s this season. The Jaguars also brought in veterans to help improve the secondary. Safety Tashaun Gipson and CB Prince Amukamara will bring a wealth of experience to this young secondary. First round pick, CB Jalen Ramsey, might be a star in the making with the way he plays physical and attacks the football. There is a lot to be hopeful for when you look at the young talent on this Jacksonville defense. I don’t know if they’ll be able to win the division this year but I think this season the league will be put on notice by these young Jaguars. Prediction: 8-8

Tennessee Titans – Tennessee found their QB for the future last season. Now, they are looking to build around that guy in order to make a return to prominence in the NFL. There was a lot I didn’t like about Marcus Mariota going into his rookie season last year. But he proved his worth in 2015 and he’ll be the starter in Tennessee for a long time. He is a much better passer than I thought and his overall athleticism will carry him to success early in his career. I think Mariota could be even better in 2016. I really like how the Titans have invested into their offensive line in the last couple years. They spent another first round pick in that area in the offseason and now they have a group of 3 first round draft picks on that offensive line. This is much like what the Dallas Cowboys did in building their offensive line. I also have to say, that I like that they acquired a veteran Center to lead the group in Ben Jones. With the big bodies they have up front, this Titans team should be ready to be a force when running the football. They traded for RB DeMarco Murray who will be ready to return to his 2014 form. Murray was a failed experiment in Philadelphia and he really had little to do with his failure. Philadelphia didn’t have him in the right offense and he didn’t have the offensive line needed to succeed as a power runner. In Tennessee, Murray will have the big guys up front to create the lanes that will allow him to be successful. The Titans will also have outstanding depth behind Murray in Bishop Sankey, Dexter McCluster, and rookie Heisman Trophy winner, Derrick Henry. As deep the Titans are at RB, they are equally short of talent at the WR position. The WR group is one with extremely average and inconsistent veterans. Rookie Tajae Sharpe has been a standout in preseason and they brought in vet Andre Johnson to maybe provide some leadership. Mariota does have a pretty reliable option at TE in Delanie Walker. On defense, the Titans are led up front by Jurrell Casey who is well respected in league circles as one of the best in his position. In the outside pass-rushing department, the Titans will return veterans Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan. Also, keep an eye out for touted rookie Kevin Dodd. As guy who can create pressure in the backfield. The secondary will be a weak point for the Titans again in 2016. CB Jason McCourty is the leader of the group but there isn’t really much around him in this unit. Tennessee is short a few playmakers at WR and in the secondary but with that power running game and with what Mariota brings to the table, the blueprint for success is starting to take shape. Prediction: 7-9

Indianapolis Colts – Last season, the Colts were brought up as Super Bowl contenders in the preseason. They built up their roster with veterans and they thought that they could easily win this division. Instead, the Colts took a massive step back and I feel like everything was blamed on the injuries to Andrew Luck. But I think this team’s problems are much deeper than that. I think Andrew Luck, now back at 100%, will be his old self in 2016. Luck is a very good QB in this league but I don’t think he will be in a position to raise the talent of his teammates around him. One thing that the Colts have to improve on in 2016 is the play of the offensive line. This was a focus in the draft but who knows how long of a process this will take. The offensive line struggled at protecting their franchise QB and at run blocking. RB Frank Gore had his worst season in his first season in Indy. Gore has vowed to bounce back in 2016 but you have to consider that Gore is getting up there in age. I think the Colts needed to find a RB for the future this offseason but I don’t think they’ve done that. The Colts also have shaky depth at WR. T.Y. Hilton is the star of the group and Donte Moncrief serves as a decent possession receiver. But behind those two guys, Luck will be throwing to some guys who don’t have a lot of experience. On defense, the Colts will return a defensive line that was among the worst in the league at stopping the run. OLB Robert Mathis returns for another season as one of the best outside rushers in football. Last year, they paired him Trent Cole who went on to have his worst season as a pro. Cole was a great pass rusher in Philadelphia but I think this is one of those cases were age just catches up to aging players. The secondary will be led once again by CB Vontae Davis who is still very good. Behind him, the Colts brought in a couple of the laziest players in the league in Patrick Robinson and Antonio Cromartie. I don’t think Indy’s disappointing season in 2015 was an abnormality. Their roster just isn’t up to snuff and they wont be able to rely on Andrew Luck to be the save all. The Colts did a bad job in the offseason at getting younger at key positions and that will show up again in 2016. Luckily for them, the AFC South isn’t a strong division so I don’t see them completely bottoming out. Head coach Chuck Pagano is one of my favorites in the league and I hope he can survive another disappointing season. Prediction: 7-9

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NFL 2015: Week 13 Predictions!

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The Steelers will need a strong performance from their offense this Sunday night.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 13-3

Season: 114-62

Big Five Games of the Week

Green Bay @ Detroit – A couple weeks ago when the Packers crushed Minnesota on the road, it seemed like Green Bay was ready to make another strong run at the NFC North. But the Packers had an absolutely deflating lost at home last week vs. Chicago and now there are more questions than answers in Green Bay. Tonight, the Packers visit a suddenly hot Detroit team that looks like they’ve completely rebounded from a disastrous start to this season. The Lions are playing inspired on defense and on offense, Matt Stafford is rediscovering his franchise receiver, Calvin Johnson. Green Bay didn’t really get dominated offensively vs. Chicago last week but Detroit will issue some challenges that Green Bay didn’t face last week. Aaron Rodgers play has been shaky for most of the season and Detroit’s defense has been coming on strong as of late. The Lions look like they could be the team ready to go on a run in this division and sweep for the Packers for the first time in forever. Prediction: Lions 31 – Packers 21

Houston @ Buffalo – Houston is playing well going into this week’s game in Buffalo, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Last week, Houston completely shut down Drew Brees and the Saints offense while keeping them out of the end zone. Also with QB Brian Hoyer back in the line up, the Texans offense is looking more efficient each series. Buffalo has been inconsistent this season but they usually play stronger at home. Houston will be challenged greatly by Buffalo’s rushing attack. Houston’s secondary has been playing better lately but they will have their hands full with WR Sammy Watkins who is starting to demand the ball from Tyrod Taylor. Buffalo’s defense gave up too many yards last week in Kansas City and I think they’ll be up to the challenge to rebound from that performance this week at home. Buffalo has the front seven to stuff Houston’s run game and that will allow them to focus their attention on WR DeAndre Hopkins who is playing out of his mind right now. I’m going out on a limb on this one but I’m picking the home team. Prediction: Bills 22 – Texans 16

Seattle @ Minnesota – Russell Wilson had far and away his best passing game of the season last week at home vs. a weak Steelers secondary. I think Seattle’s offense is getting too much credit for last week. I mean, I don’t mean to take anything away from Wilson and the Seahawks passing game but Pittsburgh’s secondary was horrible last week. This week in Minnesota, Seattle will face a much tougher secondary and overall defense in the Vikings. Seattle’s defense also gave up a lot of yards through the air last week and their pass rush didn’t have an affect on the game until the second half. I think Minnesota will be able to play ball control football by feeding their beast, Adrian Peterson, and giving QB Teddy Bridgewater time to execute big plays through the air. Prediction: Vikings 27 – Seahawks 20

New York Jets @ New York Giants – This edition of the battle for New York is especially important because both teams are competing for a playoff spot in their respected conferences. The Giants laid an absolute egg last week on the road at Washington. Meanwhile, the Jets were dominant against a weak Miami team. The Giants are trending down going into this week but they matchup well against the Jets. The Giants have issues with running the football and that should continue this week as the Jets have a strong defensive front seven. However for the Jets defense, they might be without CB Darrelle Revis again which would spell bad news for this secondary going up against WR Odell Beckham Jr. Eli Manning struggled for most of last weeks game and the Giants will need him to be sharp this week against a shorthanded Jets secondary. The Giants defense underperformed last week and they’ll be challenged again this week against the Jets. The Jets offense had a strong performance last week as Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for multiple touchdowns, Brandon Marshall continued to be a reliable target, and RB Chris Ivory was able to get the tough yards for this offense. I believe that the Jets will be able to get their offense going this week but the Giants are in “must win” mode and are the most desperate team in this contest. I think Eli Manning will be able to rebound and play great for all 4 quarters this week. Prediction: Giants 25 – Jets 24

Indianapolis @ Pittsburgh – Indy’s victory over Tampa Bay last week was closer than what the scoreboard read. I remember last season when the Colts played in Pittsburgh in an absolute shootout. With the current state of the Colts passing game, I don’t see that happening this time around. Or maybe not because the Pittsburgh secondary is coming off its worst performance of the season. Last week, Jameis Winston left a lot of yards on the table against this Colts defense. That wont be the case for Ben Roethlisberger and the many weapons at the receiver position. Roethlisberger is coming off a concussion injury so we do have to wonder if he will be still feeling effects from that injury on Sunday night. If Ben is not 100%, Pittsburgh may have to lean on its running game this week. That might not be a bad thing, as Indy doesn’t really have a tough run defense. The Colts defense has been playing better recently but they still have been an underachieving unit for most of the season. With all the injuries Pittsburgh has had to deal with, I think they are still head and shoulders the better team on the field this week. If Pittsburgh drops this one at home, their playoff chances will be in serious jeopardy. Prediction: Steelers 28 – Colts 20

The Rest of Week 13

Bears over 49ers – This Chicago squad is playing hard for head coach John Fox.

Bengals over Browns – Cleveland is starting Austin Davis at QB this week. What kind of message do you think that sends to the Browns locker room? Does Davis, who has only been in Cleveland for weeks now, truly give Cleveland its best chance to win on Sunday? Does Mike Pettine believe that his locker room will rally around Davis? Cleveland is a mess. This should be an easy week for the Bengals. #FreeJohnnyFootball

Titans over Jaguars – Tennessee lost a close one last week. Their efforts will be awarded this week vs. Jacksonville.

Cardinals over Rams – Arizona must keep their current momentum to fend off Seattle for the division.

Ravens over Dolphins – Miami is playing awful right now. Ryan Tannehill may have hit his ceiling.

Falcons over Buccaneers – Atlanta must win this one to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Chiefs over Raiders – Kansas City is getting the most out of their offense while the defense is playing at a high level.

Broncos over Chargers – The Brock Osweiler hype train in gaining stream but everyone needs to relax. Then again, he’ll probably play good again this week at San Diego.

Patriots over Eagles – No Gronk, no problem? I don’t know about that. I do know that the Eagles secondary can’t stop anyone.

Panthers over Saints – After that horrible offensive performance, New Orleans will face a tough, undefeated Carolina defense. Bad news for the Saints.

Washington over Cowboys – I’m not sure if I’m buying Washington has the best team in the NFC Least. Who knows what Dallas can offer with the type of season they are having. They could easily regroup and win this game on the road or continue to disappoint. Who knows.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Cam Newton (Panthers) – Newton isn’t leading in any passing category but he will look sharp against this New Orleans secondary.

RB: C.J. Anderson (Broncos) – After ending New England’s undefeated season last week, Anderson may have another big day against San Diego’s run defense.

WR: Brandon Marshall (Jets) – Marshall is quietly having a nice season and that should continue against the Giants secondary.

TE: Travis Kelce (Chiefs) – Kelce has been a reliable target for Alex Smith this season.

DEF: Chicago – The Bears defense did a great job last week limiting Aaron Rodgers. Hopefully they can continue that success against San Francisco’s woeful offense.

NFL 2015: Week 10 Predictions!

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New England’s defense will be aiming to slow down New York’s Odell Beckham Jr. on Sunday.

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 8-5

Season: 86-46

Big Five Games of the Week

Buffalo @ New York Jets – Big game tonight in the AFC East. The Jets are looking to keep their momentum after defeating Jacksonville last week. The Jets are currently in second place in the division and they have a favorable schedule leading up into December. Buffalo has had their issues this season but now they appear to be healthy and ready to make a push towards the post season. This matchup will feature two tough defenses but I’ll give the edge to Buffalo because New York’s secondary is rather weak sans Darrelle Revis. WR Sammy Watkins finally had a big game last week but he’ll face a huge test in Revis tonight. Opposite of Revis is where the Jets defense will be in trouble. The Jets offense is able to be successful because of RB Chris Ivory and the running game but Buffalo has one of the best defensive lines in football. The same can be said when the other team has the ball. Buffalo has had success running ball with rookie Karlos Williams and the now healthy LeSean McCoy but the Jets also are a tough team to run against. Because this is Rex Ryan’s homecoming game, I’m expecting Buffalo to come out with a little extra edge tonight. I’m taking the road team in the bright red unis. It will go down to the wire though. Prediction: Bills 24 – Jets 21

Minnesota @ Oakland – Minnesota has an impressive 6-2 record but no one is really talking about them. This Sunday, they’ll travel to Oakland to face a Raiders team that took its lumps last week in Pittsburgh. Minnesota has the tools to attack this Raiders defense on the ground and through the air. RB Adrian Peterson is looking like his old self again and the Vikings will continue to feed him on Sunday. QB Teddy Bridgewater took a big hit last week but he will start this Sunday. Oakland’s secondary is pretty suspect so I would expect Bridgewater to get his hook on with his new favorite target, rookie WR Stefon Diggs. Oakland has a decent balanced attack on offense as well but Minnesota is a lot better defensively. The Raiders usually play better at home but I think this Vikings team is tough enough to get a big road victory. Prediction: Vikings 35 – Raiders 27

Kansas City @ Denver – Denver had a poor showing last week in Indy. They were in a close game but then they completely lost their cool. Divisional matchups are always tough but I would expect the Broncos to bounce back at home this week against the Chiefs. The Chiefs are short handed on offense and they will find it tough to score points against Denver’s top ranked defense. Kansas City will have a chance if Peyton Manning is pressured and he turns over the ball. I think Denver learned from last week and they’ll be able to take care of business on Sunday. Prediction: Broncos 22 – Chiefs 10

New England @ New York Giants – New England is on a roll once again going into the second half of a season. Tom Brady is doing it all for the offense and the defense is under rated and not getting enough press. There will be plenty of press this week as the Pats will travel to New Jersey to take on the rival Giants. Now, I know that the Patriots and the Giants aren’t really rivals but because of the fan bases and because of the recent history in the post season, this is a rivalry game. Like the other NFC East teams, the Giants really stink this year but it appears that they can do enough to win their division. Eli Manning isn’t turning over the ball as much and he is getting the ball to his talented receivers, led by WR Odell Beckham Jr. The Patriots will have its hands full with trying to slow down Beckham Jr. as they don’t have a strong presence in the secondary. New England’s strength on defense comes from their defensive line, where they are tough against the run and have the league’s leader in sacks, Chandler Jones. We all know how Manning can play when under pressure so I would expect that the Patriots defense will make it a point to get after him on Sunday. Brady has been playing well on the other side of the ball but the Giants will up their efforts at pressuring him on Sunday as well. DE Jason Pierre-Paul is back and it may other have 8.5 fingers but he still have plenty of ability as a pass rusher. The Giants are poor at stopping the run but New England will be shorthanded without Dion Lewis. RB LeGarrette Blount has been playing well as of late though so I would expect plenty of touches for him on Sunday. The Giants usually have New England’s number in the post season but Sunday’s game is taking place in the regular season. I expect New England to stay undefeated. Prediction: Patriots 31 – Giants 21

Arizona @ Seattle – This is a big game for Seattle coming off the bye. They should be all rested up and ready to stake their claim for the NFC West against the rival Cardinals. Arizona has looked good this season but much like last season, they have faltered against better opponents. Arizona will be in this game on Sunday because of their defense. Seattle has issues on the offensive side of the ball. RB Marshawn Lynch will continue to be the heartbeat of the offense for Seattle. But when Seattle is passing the ball, they cant protect QB Russell Wilson and they still don’t have a big time play maker at receiver. This serves well for the Cardinals as they have a good secondary lead by CB Patrick Peterson. Seattle does have a big play target in the passing game in TE Jimmy Graham but they haven’t been consistent at feeding him the football. Hopefully, this was something that they worked on during the bye week. Arizona’s offense will find it hard in this matchup as well. Seattle is still a tough team to run against and their pass rush will be able to get after Carson Palmer. If Palmer does have time to throw, Seattle’s secondary will have its hands full with Arizona’s talented receivers. This should be a close game but I expect Seattle to continue the tradition of playing better than what they really are at home. Prediction: Seahawks 30 – Cardinals 24

The Rest of Week 10

Packers over Lions – It has literally been forever since Detroit has won in Green Bay.

Panthers over Titans – Carolina handled Green Bay pretty well last week and the score of that game didn’t really tell the story of that game. I think Carolina stays undefeated this week in Nashville.

Bears over Rams – Chicago is quietly still breathing this season. St. Louis has a lot of talent but they are easily unlikable because of that coaching staff.

Eagles over Dolphins – Philadelphia’s offensive line deserves a lot of credit. Their running game has successfully bounced back from how bad it looked earlier in the season. Miami is starting to lose the momentum they created by firing their coach.

Steelers over Browns – Pittsburgh will be without its starting QB but it wont matter. It’s Cleveland. Cleveland.

Buccaneers over Cowboys – This is a must win for Dallas. The pipe dream of Tony Romo returning and saving this season hinges on this game. Tampa is beatable but they have a tough defense and their offense is getting better. I have no reason to believe in this Dallas team right now.

Saints over Washington – Rob Ryan’s bad defense made an appearance last week. Lets see if that unit can bounce back on the road against Kirk Cousins.

Ravens over Jaguars – I thought Jacksonville was really to make their move last week. I was wrong. Baltimore is awful but is coming off the bye and is playing at home.

Bengals over Texans – Houston wont be able to score enough points on the road. Cincinnati completes what I think will be a clean sweep for the undefeated teams in the league on Monday night.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Tom Brady (Patriots) – Brady will be facing the second worst pass defense in the league on Sunday.

RB: DeAngelo Williams (Steelers) – Williams was decent last week against Oakland and without Roethlisberger, he’ll get extra carries against Cleveland’s pitiful run defense.

WR: Allen Robinson (Jaguars) – Baltimore’s secondary isnt very good. Robinson is putting up consistent numbers and he might get extra targets this week as his teammate, Allen Hurns, is fighting a foot injury.

TE: Jordan Reed (Washington) – New Orleans’ secondary is a joke. Cousins loves going to his TE. He is one of the few Washington receivers that can stay healthy.

DEF: Carolina – The Panthers are the easy choice here and they’ll be facing an usually poor Titans offense.

NFL 2015: Week 7 Predictions!

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Last Week, Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers put the league on notice.

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 8-6

Season: 60-31

Big Five Games of the Week

Seattle @ San Francisco – The Seahawks are reeling going into this rivalry game tonight in San Francisco. I think Seattle is right where they were last season around this time which means, I believe that there is still time for them to turn their season around. Seattle has issues right now with protecting their QB and with holding on to leads. But I think their power running game and defense can still help them stack some more wins this season. San Fran might have gained some confidence last week when they defeated a bad Baltimore team at home. But they are also a bad team that belongs in last place in this division. I don’t see the 49ers being able to run the ball tonight especially with RB Carlos Hyde coming off an injury. Colin Kaepernick will be forced to do too much tonight and that will eventually mean more chances for the Seattle defense to create turnovers. Prediction: Seahawks 21 – 49ers 14

Pittsburgh @ Kansas City – The hype over Landry Jones in Pittsburgh is in overdrive. But that will probably come to a complete halt on Sunday. The Steelers will be in Kansas City to take on a Chiefs team that will struggle to put up enough points to win without Jamaal Charles. Besides the point that the Chiefs offense is struggling without Charles, the Steelers defense has been a nice surprise this season especially since the Roethlisberger injury. The Steelers defense is over achieving each week and it seems not to matter if they are missing players because of injuries. Ryan Shazier and Jarvis Jones have been missing but it has yet to matter recently for this defense. They are receiving great play recently from Cameron Heyward and James Harrison. The Steelers do give up a lot of yardage through the air but I’m not expecting Alex Smith to exploit that. The Chiefs will have a great chance at winning this game because they have the tools to get after the QB. Pittsburgh suffered another injury to their offensive line, which will prove to be horrible news for Jones. With all the pressure around Jones, it’s going to be tough for Pittsburgh to get anything going through the air. Much like how it was for the majority of Mike Vick’s snaps. But with the way Pittsburgh’s defense is playing, I don’t think Kansas City will be able to take advantage of the lack of offensive production from their opponent. I’m taking the road team by the slimmest of margins. If the Steelers can go 3-1 without Ben, that would be a huge confidence builder going forward. Prediction: Steelers 17 – Chiefs 16

New York Jets @ New England – The Patriots are undefeated but I don’t see them as an unstoppable, juggernaut of a team. I actually think that the Jets matchup well against them this Sunday in Foxboro. I believe that the Jets have the defense to slow Tom Brady and the Patriots offense. I also believe that the Patriots don’t have a great defense so, I can see the Jets being successful on Sunday offensively on the ground and through the air. The Jets really haven’t been consistent on offense this season though. So, I don’t know if I can fully trust Ryan Fitzpatrick in this big game. I’m taking the home team but it will be closer than you think. Prediction: Patriots 29 – Jets 27

Dallas @ New York Giants – After an embarrassing loss last week on Monday night, the Giants will be looking for revenge this week against a Dallas team who is coming off the bye week. The NFC East is now wide open and it will likely stay this way until Week 17. The funny thing is that if Dez Bryant and Tony Romo were healthy, the NFC East race would already to over. Coming off the bye, the Dallas defense will finally be at full strength and we kind of saw a glimpse of that in their last game vs. New England. That Cowboys defense actually held Tom Brady in check but eventually, they got tired. Mainly because the offense couldn’t amount to anything with Brandon Weeden calling the shots. Matt Cassel will get the start for Dallas at QB but I don’t think it will really matter. Cassel will have to prove that Dallas can actually be a threat down the field in the passing game. Until then, defenses will continue the stack the box and the Cowboys running game will have a tough time getting going. I believe that the Cowboys defense will be great in this game against Eli Manning. Manning will face unbelievable pressure for most of the game. But if the Dallas offensive woes continue, their defense will get tired and Eli will take advantage. I would like to believe that things will be different with Cassel but I would rather see it happen first. Prediction: Giants 35 – Cowboys 21

Philadelphia @ Carolina – The Eagles now believe that they’re still alive in the NFC East race after beating New York last week. And for the most part, they are right. If the Eagles can get great play out of their defensive front seven and if the running game can start playing consistent football, they’ll be in a lot of games this season. But on Sunday, they’ll take on a Carolina team that is coming off a huge road victory in Seattle. Carolina is still undefeated this season mainly because their defense. Their defense is clicking on all cylinders right now and Philly will struggle to get anything going through the air or on the ground in this Sunday night matchup. Carolina’s offense has been successful this season so far because of their QB but also because of their offensive line. Carolina is strong up front and they have 3rd best running game in football right now. Cam Newton is such a playmaking wild-card and he will need to lean on his offensive line on Sunday against that active Philly front seven. The Eagles defense will look to rattle Cam in this game but it will be the Panthers defense that will keep Philly from winning this game. Prediction: Panthers 24 – Eagles 18

The Rest of Week 7

Bills over Jaguars – Without Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo will be vulnerable in this game against a Jacksonville team that is desperate for a win. Rex Ryan called out his defense this week and they’ll respond with a strong performance in London.

Vikings over Lions – Detroit discovered last week that they still have Calvin Johnson. If they can do the same this week, they may win their second straight. I’m not counting on that though.

Falcons over Titans – Hopefully, last weeks lost in New Orleans will serve as a wake up call for Atlanta.

Colts over Saints – Drew Brees seems to be back at 100%. I still don’t trust New Orleans’ defense. Indy needs to start stacking up some victories before they find themselves in a race in the AFC South.

Rams over Browns – This is a trap game for St. Louis who should win this game easily coming off the bye.

Dolphins over Texans – Can we get a second straight lights out performance from this Miami defense under new head coach Dan Campbell? I think so.

Buccaneers over Washington – Jameis Winston wont have to do too much to win this game, as Washington’s QB issues will once again rear its ugly head.

Chargers over Raiders – How many close games can the Chargers lose this season? Hopefully, a game against Oakland can stop their bleeding.

Cardinals over Ravens – Arizona blinked last week and didn’t play its best game. They will be antsy to right what was wrong last week against a bad Ravens team.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Phillip Rivers (Chargers) – Rivers threw for over 500 yards last week. San Diego’s running game has been inconsistent so they’ll lean on the pass again this week vs. Oakland.

RB: Todd Gurley (Rams) – Coming off the bye, Gurley will continue the nice streak of games he has been having against Cleveland run defense.

WR: T.Y. Hilton (Colts) – Hilton has been strangely quiet so far this season. I think he’ll be able to play great this week against the Saints secondary.

TE: Rob Gronkowski (Patriots) – Gronk probably feels like he isn’t getting the ball enough so far this season as he doesn’t rank in the top ten in catches at his position. The Jets don’t have anyone who can cover him.

DEF: Tampa Bay – Don’t look now but the Bucs have the 5th ranked defense in the league.