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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 2018: Week 10 Predictions (Condensed)

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Cam Newton brings a hot Carolina team to Pittsburgh to start Week 10.

 

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 8-5

Season: 72-60-2

Week 10 Picks

Panthers over Steelers – I still waiting for the underwhelming Steelers defense to rear its head again. Actually, that unit is starting to play better each week. But still, Carolina is the hot team and Pittsburgh has struggled at home against NFC foes. I at least expect a competitive contest.

Bears over Lions – Chicago is good enough to beat the bad teams. And Detroit is a bad team.

Saints over Bengals – Cincinnati will not have much of a chance at outscoring the New Orleans offense without A.J. Green.

Falcons over Browns – The NFC South is going to be ultra competitive this season again. Atlanta will be in playoff contention if they beat the teams that they are supposed to beat.

Patriots over Titans – Tennessee will look ordinary against a good team like New England.

Colts over Jaguars – Has Jacksonville figured themselves out during the bye week? Who knows?

Chiefs over Cardinals – Kansas City’s offense is a matchup nightmare for any defense right now. But Arizona’s defense is especially bad.

Jets over Bills – No rookie QB’s in this matchup. I think the Jets will play well under Josh McCown as long as he stays away from the mistakes.

Washington over Buccaneers – I like Washington’s defense to limit the big play potential from Tampa’s passing offense.

Chargers over Raiders – I was very impressed with what the Chargers did on the road last week. Oakland is a punch-less football team.

Packers over Dolphins – I expect this one to be real competitive. Green Bay’s defense will keep Miami in it. But Brock Osweiler is not going to out produce Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau.

Rams over Seahawks – Is it possible that Seattle is bad at home and good on the road this year? LA will be eager to bounce back from their first loss last week.

Eagles over Cowboys – Philadelphia isn’t great but Dallas is closer to rock bottom. I’m not counting on the Cowboys to show up on the road even with their backs against the wall.

Giants over 49ers – This is pretty bad for a Monday night game. Giants should win if they let Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley just take turns with the ball on offense.

 

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: Preseason Awards & Playoff Predictions

 

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Oakland Raiders

Here’s a Super Bowl Prediction that is guaranteed not to come true. Maybe.

By: Elias McMillan

 

First, here are my picks for the 2017 post-season awards:

MVP: Tom Brady, QB (New England Patriots) – Despite missing the first four games of the season and not having his number one weapon in the passing game (Rob Gronkowski), Tom Brady still had a dream season in 2016. Going into to this season, Brady has Gronk healthy and an even talented WR core to work with. And he is determined to break the Madden Curse. I think Brady will turn back the clock again this year.

Offensive MVP: David Johnson, RB (Arizona Cardinals) – Ezekiel Elliott and Le’Veon Bell get most of the headlines when it comes to RB’s in the league but David Johnson can be just as productive. I think Arizona will continue to lean on him this season. Especially, with Arizona’s questions in the passing game.

Defensive MVP: J.J Watt, DE (Houston Texans) – Watt will probably will NFL Man of the Year with the work he has done in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. But Watt will also have the goal of reminding the league this year of how dominant he can be. I think he will have a huge season lining up opposite of Clowney.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Christian McCaffrey, RB (Carolina Panthers) – I criticized this draft pick numerous times since April. But Carolina seems to be highly impressed with what McCaffrey will bring to this offense. He will definitely get the touches in Carolina and his numbers will impress in his first season.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Reuben Foster, LB (San Francisco 49ers) – Its an absolute shame that Foster dropped all the way to the bottom of round one in this past draft. Foster will be playing this first season with a chip on his shoulder and will remind 49er fans of Patrick Willis.

Comeback Player of the Year: Earl Thomas, S (Seattle Seahawks) – Earl Thomas was pondering retirement when he went down with a significant knee injury last season. Now, he will have a chance to be apart of a pretty good Seattle defense once again. He will prove to be the most valuable piece of the Seahawk defense this year.

Coach of the Year: Bill Belichick (New England Patriots) – It seems like Belichick has everything. Its been a while since he has won this award. New England is bound to have a killer regular season this year so, why not?

And now, here is my forecast for the playoffs this season. As a reminder, here are the teams I see qualifying in 2017:

AFC

  1. New England Patriots – 15-1 (AFC East)
  2. Oakland Raiders – 12-4 (AFC West)
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers – 11-5 (AFC North)
  4. Tennessee Titans – 10-6 (AFC South)
  5. Houston Texans – 9-7 (Wild-card)
  6. Denver Broncos – 9-7 (Wild-card)

NFC

  1. Atlanta Falcons – 13-3 (NFC South)
  2. Seattle Seahawks – 11-5 (NFC West)
  3. New York Giants – 10-6 (NFC East)
  4. Green Bay Packers – 10-6 (NFC North)
  5. Arizona Cardinals – 10-6 (Wild-card)
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 9-7 (Wild-card)

Wild-Card Weekend

AFC: (3) Steelers over (6) Broncos, (5) Texans over (4) Titans

NFC: (3) Giants over (6) Buccaneers, (5) Cardinals over (4) Packers

Divisional Round

AFC: (1) Patriots over (5) Texans, (2) Raiders over (3) Steelers

NFC: (1) Falcons over (5) Cardinals, (3) Giants over (2) Seahawks

Conference Championship Sunday

AFC: (2) Raiders over (1) Patriots

NFC: (1) Falcons over (3) Giants

Super Bowl LII from U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Atlanta Falcons over Oakland Raiders

Recap: The Patriots might have been the number seed in the AFC playoffs last season but they were not supremely talented. They traded away many of their better defensive players. They had injury problems on offense. And they still won the Super Bowl last February. This offseason, the Patriots reloaded much like they did in 2010. And much like 2010, I think we will see New England slice through the regular season only to see them fall short in the playoffs. I think Oakland needs this season. That fan base in Oakland is ready to tear the city apart. They need one last shot at glory while in that city. I think David Carr will return this season and play at a high level. Oakland has some things to figure out defensively but behind Khalil Mack and that talented front seven, they’ll get after the QB and they’ll administer some revenge in Foxboro in January. In the NFC, I think we’ll see a two-dog race between Atlanta and Seattle. I have the Giants as a sleeper team because I like their defense and that have so many offensive weapons. But Atlanta’s defense is young and on the rise. Coming off of what happened last year, I believe Atlanta will ride a story of redemption all the way back to the Super Bowl. I know that Atlanta has a long history of folding under pressure. I know picking a team to return to the Super Bowl and win really isn’t bold and it kind of jinxes it. But I had to pick somebody. I think Atlanta can correct the ending from a season ago this upcoming February in Minneapolis. But then again, it is September.