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NFL Playoffs: 2017 NFL Divisional Round Predictions!

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Atlanta hasn’t forgot about what happened when they faced Seattle earlier this season. They will be hoping for some revenge at home this weekend in the NFL Playoffs.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Wild-Card Round: 2-2

Playoffs: 2-2

Divisional Round

Seattle @ Atlanta – This first divisional playoff matchup this weekend is a rematch from a closely contested game earlier this season, which saw the Seahawks get the victory in a close one. Atlanta actually impressed many in that game as they were able to hang with Seattle on the road and how they might have won that game if not for a botch PI penalty that wasn’t called late in the 4th quarter. Both teams have changed since then but I think Atlanta will definitely have revenge on their minds this Saturday. Seattle was able to take care of Detroit last weekend but on Saturday they will face a much more talented and balanced offense in Atlanta. The Falcons are powered on offense by their dynamic passing game led by QB Matt Ryan and his lead target WR Julio Jones. But don’t sleep on the way Atlanta can run the ball. RB’s Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are as a dynamic running duo as any other one in the league. We all know about how good this Atlanta offense can be but history dictates that really good offenses usually fall to good defenses in the playoffs. I think Seattle’s defense will put up a great challenge for Atlanta but they are not at full strength with Earl Thomas out of the line up. Even with Thomas in the secondary, the Falcons were still able to put up production in that first meeting earlier this season. Seattle will have to fight hard on both sides of the ball to compete with Atlanta on Saturday. Last weekend, Seattle ran the ball very well behind RB Thomas Rawls and with that running game; they were able to control the tempo for most of the contest. Seattle might have to implement that game plan again on Saturday, as Atlanta is just an average defense at defending the run. They might help QB Russell Wilson in terms of protecting himself from Atlanta’s pass rush. Edge rusher Vic Beasley was the league leader in sack this season and with the state of Seattle’s offensive line, I think he will be in pursuit of Wilson for the majority of this Saturday afternoon. But if Wilson can find time, he will be throwing against a Falcons secondary that ranked near the bottom this season. I think Seattle will have a good shot at winning on the road this weekend but the Seahawks have historically had let down on the road in the regular season and in the playoffs. I think Atlanta will jump out on top early and they’ll be able to hold off a Seahawks comeback late. Much like the last time these teams played in the post season in Atlanta. Prediction: Falcons 28 – Seahawks 24

Houston @ New England – I guess we have to give Houston credit for beating up on an injured Oakland team last week. But on to this week where no one on earth is giving the Texans a chance at going up to Foxboro on Saturday night and leaving with a victory. I don’t know if Houston has a real chance or not but I’ll try my best to sell that to you. First, the Texans have the number one ranked defense in the NFL. DE Jadeveon Clowney was a real difference maker last week and he will be used in a similar way this week against a Patriots offensive line that can struggle against the premier pass rushers in this league. Houston also has a stingy secondary. They will get physical with New England’s smaller receivers and create tough passing windows for QB Tom Brady. And my third point: the Texans coaching staff is made up from Bill Belichick disciples. Bill O’Brien is the head coach and Romeo Crennel is the defensive coordinator. They know Belichick. They know their offense. Could this prove to be an advantage for Houston? I don’t know. Also, I’m not going to bet on it. I think New England will use this game to prove why they are favored by so much in this game. I think New England will be aggressive offensively and they will tire out the Texans up front with their running game. New England’s defense is also unheralded and they will have the opportunity to appear to be really good against Houston’s offense. I think Houston’s defense might be able to keep the Texans in this game but I have no faith in QB Brock Osweiler going toe to toe with Tom Brady in terms of offensive production. The Patriots will dominate in this one. Prediction: Patriots 35 – Texans 17

Green Bay @ Dallas – On Sunday, the marathon of rematches from the regular season will continue. Green Bay won last week at home convincingly against the Giants and they are feeling pretty good going into this matchup in Jerry’s World. They maybe feeling good about there chances but they may not be feeling so good health wise. Green Bay is banged up on both sides of the ball while the Cowboys are rested and are as healthy as they’ve been all season. A lot of people like the Packers right now because of the play of QB Aaron Rodgers and I can’t blame them. Rodgers is having one of those seasons that is proving that he is the best QB in football. Even with the Jordy Nelson injury, the Packers are well equipped at the WR position with players like DeVante Adams, Randall Cobb, and TE Jarred Cook. Adams had a big game against the Cowboys 2 years ago in the playoffs in memory serves me correctly. Green Bay isn’t going to beat anyone in the ground game but Ty Montgomery’s ability as a versatile runner and receiver from out of the backfield will make him into a player that the Cowboys defense will have to account for. Montgomery is a Dallas native and he will have the extra motivation to show out in front of his family. I don’t know how the Packers held the Giants to only 13 points last week. Green Bay has some talented players on defense like Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, and safety HaHa Clinton-Dix. But as a unit, Green Bay isn’t very good defensively. That banged up secondary will mean that the Packers will have to lean on their front 7 to created stops and turnovers. The Cowboys offensive line handled the Packers front 7 quite easily in their matchup earlier this season. I don’t think the Packers will have an answer for rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas run game. In passing situations, I am scared to death of the matchup between Peppers and right tackle Doug Free. But rookie QB Dak Prescott had a decent day passing against the Packers earlier this season and he was able to play well even without WR Dez Bryant. With the current state of the Packers secondary, I fully expect Bryant to be a difference maker down the field in a way that Odell Beckham Jr wasn’t last week. The Cowboys have a highly ranked defense but really, those numbers aren’t as impressive if you’ve watched the Cowboys this season. Rodgers will have a chance at creating some big plays down the field against a defense that struggles to provide pressure or create turnovers. But the Dallas defense this season has been known for bending but not breaking. I think the Cowboys defense could be a weakness but it is a unit that is better than it was in 2014. The Cowboys had an impressive regular season but they are now approaching rare air for them. This is a franchise that hasn’t advanced to Conference Championship Sunday in 21 years. This is a huge game for the entire franchise and I believe that they will not let their inexperience of Aaron Rodgers squander their opportunity. Many of the talking heads like Green Bay on Sunday but I’m thinking that is just more wishful thinking than really believing that Dallas will lose this game. The opportunity will be too big for this team to miss. I like the Cowboys at home. Prediction: Cowboys 33 – Packers 24

Pittsburgh @ Kansas City – I’m glad that this game was pushed back into primetime for the safety of the fans traveling to Kansas City and also I can now sleep in on Sunday without fear of missing any of the NFL Playoff action. This matchup should be a good one in Kansas City in a great atmosphere like Arrowhead Stadium. That place will be packed and rocking. I also want to say this first: I think the winner of this game will end up advancing to the Super Bowl. That being said, it is going to be really hard for me to not pick the Steelers to win this game. Pittsburgh was a pre season favorite going into this season but they kind of lost their way and found themselves with a 4-5 record after 9 games. They may not have had a tough schedule to close out the season but that doesn’t matter really. We have to give them credit for the run they are currently on and they did have to overcome some adversity against division rivals Cincinnati and Baltimore. The reason why the Steelers were pre season Super Bowl favorites was because of the talent they have on the offensive side of the ball. And that talent was on full display last week against Miami. I know that Miami isnt a good team and they kind of backed into the playoffs but WR Antonio Brown and RB Le’Veon Bell looked unstoppable last week. QB Ben Roethlisberger also had an impressive outing. I guess we can talk about the defense starting to play better even though last week they were hardly tested against an one-dimensional offense led by a backup QB. But still, that defense improving will be key if the Steelers want to make it to the Super Bowl. And that unit is improving. But here comes the bad news Pittsburgh fans: Kansas City isn’t Miami. I liked Kansas City all season. I like their defense. I like their ball control offense. I like Andy Reid and his experience. Limiting the combo of Bell, Brown, and Big Ben maybe a huge chore for the Chiefs defense but I think they will at least be up to it. I like Kansas City up front on defense. They have three really good pass rushers in Tamba Hali, Dee Ford, and Justin Houston. I think they will be able to pressure Big Ben in a way that he hasn’t felt in a while. Though on the other hand, the Pittsburgh offensive line has been performing well this season and they do not get enough credit. Protecting Ben will be a huge part of this game especially when you figure in Ben’s ankle injury. The Chiefs suffered a tough injury near the end of the season to LB Derrick Johnson. Since then, the Chiefs have struggled at stopping the run. I think they better figure out a way to slow Bell and the Pittsburgh running attack. If Bell can get loose, he will control the tempo of this game. Antonio Brown is the best WR in the league but KC’s secondary is really good. CB Marcus Peters is a tough player who has the knack at creating big plays. Safety Eric Berry is probably the best at his position in the league and he will be an issue in the box defending the run and covering the deep ball. Many people are saying that they cannot count on QB Alex Smith and the Chiefs offense out scoring the Steelers with their many offensive weapons. Alex Smith has been forever slept on especially in the playoffs and I think he will prove on Sunday night to be better than what most people believe. Even without Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs have a decent run game. Plus, Smith has some pretty good receivers to go to as well. TE Travis Kelce is a difference maker down the field. WR Jeremy Maclin is good on his own right. And rookie WR Tyreek Hill is a speedster who can affect the game as a kick returner. I think the Chiefs offense is more capable than what people believe. It has been a long time since the Chiefs have won a home playoff game and Andy Reid as a coach has a great record when coming off of the bye week. Earlier this season, the Steelers squashed the Chiefs at home. KC then went on the bye week and returned to go on a great run which led them to the AFC West crown. I don’t think the Chiefs have forgot about that Sunday night beat down in Heinz Field. I think that the KC front seven on defense will find a way to bother Roethlisberger and they will come up with more stops than the Steelers defense will produce. It will be close but I’m taking the Chiefs at Arrowhead. Prediction: Chiefs 24 – Steelers 20

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NFL 2016: Week 15 Predictions!

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

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 8-8

Season: 128-78-2

Big Five Games of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

The Rest of Week 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 15 Fantasy Football Picks

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

NFL 2016: Week 12 Predictions!

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Detroit Lions

The Lions will be looking to take the lead in the NFC North on Thanksgiving.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 10-4

Season: 97-62-2

Big Five Games of the Week

Minnesota @ Detroit – The Vikings were able to end their losing streak last week at home. Now they are sitting at 6-4 and tied at the top of the NFC North with the Detroit Lions. This Thanksgiving Day matchup will have serious playoff implications in terms of the NFC North title. The Lions are coming off a win at home to Jacksonville but it was none too impressive. I think it was important for Minnesota to get back to winning last week as they were in danger of completely falling out of the playoff race. Minnesota still has issues offensively currently but if their defense can play like it did last week, they have a chance at the end of each game. Detroit has made a habit out of winning close games this year and they’ll probably have to do the same on Thursday. The matchup of the game will be the Minnesota defense against the Detroit offense. It will be strength vs strength when it comes to Matthew Stafford and the Lions passing game against Minnesota’s secondary. I think this game will turn on Minnesota’s inability to get anything consistent going on offense. Detroit’s defense hasn’t been great this season but they have the talent up front to get after Sam Bradford, create pressure and cause mistakes. Because of the Vikings defense, this game will go down to the wire but I like the home team. Prediction: Lions 26 – Vikings 23

Washington @ Dallas – Washington is riding high going into Thursday’s game against rival Dallas. Washington is wining ball games with their passing attack and their active defense. Kirk Cousins is playing well right now and we are seeing how talented of a receiving core that Washington has. Washington’s defense isnt great as an unit but they have a talented group that can rush the passer and make plays in the open field. If Washington is riding high currently, then what does that make Dallas? The Cowboys have won nine straight and are showing no signs of slowing down. This winning streak for Dallas starting at Washington and many of the things they were able to do in that game could carry over into this matchup. I think Dallas will be able to run the ball on Washington’s front seven. I think Washington’s secondary will not be able to account for all of the talent Dak Prescott has to go to. Prescott will have to beware of Josh Norman on passing downs as he seems to always be in the right positions to make plays for his defense. The lack of a pass rush from Dallas does worry me because with time, Cousins should be able to have his way with the Cowboys secondary. But I think the Cousins hype is probably a little too high going into this game. Cousins played big in a primetime game so everyone is ready to crown him but no one is talking about how bad Green Bay’s secondary is. I think Cousins will play well on Thursday but it will not be a repeat of what we saw last Sunday night. Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys offensive line will set the tone of the game and I don’t see Washington slowing them down. I think Dallas will go on to win their tenth straight game. Prediction: Cowboys 34 – Washington 27

Pittsburgh @ Indianapolis – I was ready to write off the Colts earlier in the year but they continue to do well especially against AFC South foes. I could see them beating a desperate Pittsburgh team on Thursday night at home but certainly not without Andrew Luck. Luck will probably miss this game due to a concussion and that might be the window that the Steelers will need to score the road victory. The Steelers were able to stop their losing streak last week at Cleveland but that’s certainly nothing to write home about. The Colts are fighting for a playoff spot just like the Steelers so I expect this one to be well fought. I like the Steelers with Andrew Luck out of the question but lets not write off the Steelers defense ability to lose to QB’s like Scott Tolzien. Pittsburgh’s defense has been such a letdown in big moments this season so it wouldn’t surprise me if Tolzien actually plays well. The Colts still have weapons on that side of the ball without Luck. Frank Gore is playing well recently and you can say the same for the Colts receiving core led by T.Y. Hilton. Indy’s defense is underrated but I think they will have their handful with what Pittsburgh brings to the table. For the Steelers to win this game on Thursday, they will have to overwhelm the Colts with a steady diet of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. If Ben Roethlisberger can stay on his feet and play mistake free football, I don’t see why not the Pittsburgh offense can be successful. This will be another close one but I’m taking the Steelers over the home team without its best player. Prediction: Steelers 35 – Colts 27

Kansas City @ Denver – Losing to Tampa Bay at home is bad look for the Chiefs. I’m a fan of what the Chiefs have on their team. They have a tough defense, they get after the QB, they are tough to run against, they have playmakers in the secondary, and they play ball control offense that is effective. That being said, in a tight AFC West race, they cant afford to have slip ups like they did this past week. Now, they will go on to face Denver at home, which will be a tough chore. Denver’s defense will prove to be as tough as Kansas City’s. I think the difference will be Denver’s ability to execute on offense. Denver is tough at home and maybe Kansas City has some things to figure out in their own camp after a tough home loss. I like Denver in this one. Prediction: Broncos 22 – Chiefs 18

Green Bay @ Philadelphia – If the Packers are not done now, this Monday night will be their funeral. Green Bay can’t stop anyone on offense. But that’s not really news. The news is that Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense isn’t able to make up for the defense by scoring enough points at the end of the game. Going into Philadelphia this week will prove to be a perfect storm for the Eagles. The Eagles play well at home this season and Green Bay’s recent struggles serve well to their strengths. I think the Eagles defense will give Rodgers a tough time and rookie Carson Wentz will be able to look as good as he has in months facing the Packers and their toothless defense. I’m not sure if it will be a blowout but I’m expecting Philadelphia to get a big win at home on Monday night. Prediction: Eagles 33 – Packers 24

The Rest of Week 12

Falcons over Cardinals – Atlanta will be charged up coming off the bye week. Arizona can’t get it done on the road this season.

Bills over Jaguars – Buffalo has done a great job recently at competing til the end and closing out games in the 4th quarter. They will have to do the same this week against a Jaguars team that is hungry to end their losing streak.

Titans over Bears – Tennessee has to get over their slow starts. Chicago has so many injuries right now. Tennessee must take advantage.

Giants over Browns – Cleveland will not get their first win this week.

Dolphins over 49ers – This will be the best-looking matchup of the week and maybe the year. Miami will be wearing the throwbacks from the ‘70’s, which will look great paired up with San Fran’s road uniforms.

Saints over Rams – LA cant score no matter who’s at QB. Drew Brees will find tough sledding against the Rams defense but he’ll do enough to get New Orleans the victory.

Ravens over Bengals – I think Cincinnati is done. The injuries to A.J. Green and Giovanni Bernard will seriously hurt this offense. Baltimore is a confident bunch despite falling last week at Dallas.

Texans over Chargers – I watched the Monday night game last week and thought, “Maybe Houston isn’t as bad as everyone thinks.” The Texans were hurt big time by the officials in that game and they’ll be ready to get back on track this week at home.

Seahawks over Buccaneers – Trap game for Seattle here. Tampa is coming off a big road win but Seattle is playing some of its best football right now. Fun fact: Both Tampa and Seattle entered the NFL in the same year.

Raiders over Panthers – I wasn’t that impressed with Oakland last week but Carolina will find life even tougher without defensive leader Luke Kuechly.

Patriots over Jets – I think the Jets will score more with Ryan Fitzpatrick back in the lineup but they wont beat Brady and the Pats.

Week 12 Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers) – Ben has had his recent injury problems but he has also had some of his biggest games statistically against the Colts defense.

RB: Jay Ajayi (Dolphins) – Against the 49ers defense, the J-Train should be rolling this week.

WR: DeAndre Hopkins (Texans) – San Diego allows the third most yards in the air this season. I think Hopkins will catch plenty of balls down field on Sunday.

TE: Jimmy Graham (Seahawks) – Every week, it seems like Graham is making a big play for Russell Wilson.

DEF: Buffalo – Rob Ryan’s unit did a great job at the end of last week’s game in Cincinnati. I like the Bills defense this week against a Jaguars offense that seems to not be able to get it together.

NFL 2016: Week 10 Predictions!

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The Ezekiel Elliott express will be rolling into Pittsburgh this Sunday.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 10-3

Season: 80-51-2

Big Five Games of the Week

Green Bay @ Tennessee – Green Bay’s loss last week at home to the Colts was eye opening. The Packers could be in a position to take control of the NFC North because of the sliding Vikings but they failed last week. Maybe this Packers team just isn’t that good. I’ve believed for a while now that Tennessee could emerge as a front-runner in the AFC South but they have failed in big spots this season. I think Sunday will be one of those other times for the Titans where they will squander a big opportunity. Green Bay struggled defensively last week and Tennessee has the weapons to give them more problems this week. QB Marcus Maroita is playing well. DeMarco Murray has the run game going. And Tennessee’s defense is under rated. But against better competition, the Titans just seem to fold under pressure. Aaron Rodgers will put on the pressure early in this one and the Titans will offer little resistance. It will be up to Tennessee offense if they want to secure the upset. Prediction: Packers 32 – Titans 26

Kansas City @ Carolina – The Panthers feel like they can really make a run and get back into the playoff discussion. They will have a tough time this week against a Chiefs team that is rolling again much like last year. Kansas City is able to get it done on both sides of the ball and they are getting stronger. The offense without Jamaal Charles is carrying on just fine. They even lost Alex Smith for a while but that didn’t stop them from winning either. Smith returns this week, by the way. Kansas City remains to be very good defensively and they are about to be even better in that area. DE Dee Ford is among the league leaders in sacks this season. They already have a great veteran in Tamba Hali. And they are getting back Justin Houston this week. With this defense at full strength, the Chiefs will be a tough one for the Panthers. I think Carolina is going to have problems protecting Cam Newton this week and the Chiefs offense will take advantage of a Carolina defense that has under performed all season. I’m taking the Chiefs on the road. Prediction: Chiefs 27 – Panthers 20

Dallas @ Pittsburgh – It’s that time again. My own personal Super Bowl that comes around every four years. And of course, I’m not talking about the election. The Steelers enter Sunday’s game against Dallas reeling. But despite that, they are still favored by 2.5 in Vegas. How? Well, Pittsburgh has a reputation in this sort of situation. The Steelers are 4-4 at the half way point of the season but they’ve been in this situation before and in the past they have responded strongly. Everyone knows how tough the Steelers can be during the second half of the season especially with all the talent they have. Everyone knows that the Steelers have a good record at home against NFC opponents. Despite those two points, in this game we’ll be looking at one team that has under performed and the other team that has over achieved. And the over achieving team has put forth a consistent effort each week. Dallas is having a great season but they do have weaknesses that serve as an advantage to Pittsburgh. Dallas can pressure the QB and Ben Roethlisberger loves to throw deep when he has time. Dallas hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher this season but on Sunday they’ll face Le’Veon Bell. Bell will probably be the best RB that Dallas will face all season. Dallas also has a banged up secondary while Pittsburgh has a wealth of talent at the WR position. Well, let me retract that statement because outside of Antonio Brown, that group has struggled recently. Despite that, I think Pittsburgh could be in a situation where they could score a lot of points. Ben Roethlisberger played like crap last week. He has to be back to his old self if hopes to lead this Steelers team to a win this week. Dallas has been so steady and consistent and that will serve them while this week. This Dallas team is very similar to the team we saw in 2014 and in 2014 that team was excellent on the road. The Cowboys rushing attack has taken on all challenges so far this season. I think Pittsburgh will try to key on the run but I think Ezekiel Elliott will still be successful. The QB isn’t an issue in Dallas and they’ll be facing a poor Steelers secondary. I’ve had a feeling that Tony Romo will start this week but even if he doesn’t, Dak Prescott should be able to continue to be the guy the make the smart decisions in passing situations. What is also going to help Prescott (Or Romo) is that Pittsburgh doesn’t have a great pass rush like they’ve had in the past. With time in the pocket, Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, or Cole Beasley will have a significant impact in this game. I’m very worried about the Cowboys defense in terms of stopping the Steelers but also I’m not sure if the Steelers are ready or if Roethlisberger is fully healthy and ready to get this offense to finally live up to its potential. These games are always close and gut wrenching. The Steelers seem confident that they can bounce back from that embarrassing display last week in Baltimore. But I think this is the same team that played last week and played poorly against Philly and Miami. Slow and steady wins the race and that is Dallas right now. I’m taking my Boys. Prediction: Cowboys 28 – Steelers 27

Seattle @ New England – Here is a possible Super Bowl preview. This is also a Super Bowl rematch and some of the feelings from that game two years ago are still raw. I also think that this Seattle team isn’t nearly as good as it was two years ago. Seattle got a much-needed win last week at home but Buffalo still took them to their limits. The main thing that the Seahawks can take away from last week is that they need to include TE Jimmy Graham more often in the passing game. Without Jimmy Graham, Buffalo might have won last week. Seattle’s defense is also still very good. But Seattle has the same issue that it always had; they are a poor road team. I don’t think that the Patriots are world-beaters but they could appear that way playing at home. Tom Brady has had success picking at the weaknesses in the Seattle secondary. New England’s ground game will be a good test for Seattle’s front four. New England’s defense is still a mystery to me because they keep losing pieces but are still surviving and not losing games for the offense. I think this game will come down to the QB’s and I’ll take Tom Brady in that contest every time. The chippiness in this one will make it very entertaining to watch. I’m taking Gronk and the bros at home. Prediction: Patriots 33 – Seahawks 21

Cincinnati @ New York Giants – The Giants received a key victory last week against the Eagles but they were none too impressive. The Bengals are coming off of a long lay off and are sitting at 3-4-1. I’m sure they believe in that locker room that they are not ready to pack it up and call it a season. I think Cincinnati will be looking to prove themselves on the road on Monday night. I know the stories about “primetime Andy Dalton” but I think the Bengals will be able to find success against this Giants defense. The key will be if the Bengals defense can slow down Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr and the Giants passing attack. Watching Beckham Jr and AJ Green try to one up each other each possession should be entertaining and worth the price of admission. The Giants are coming off a victory, which I think will lead to a classic letdown on national TV. I’m taking the Bengals in an upset. Prediction: Bengals 35 – Giants 30

The Rest of Week 10

Browns over Ravens – Cleveland’s gotta win one. Why not tonight?

Broncos over Saints – Can Drew Brees carry the Saints again against Denver’s defense? I don’t think so.

Jets over Rams – Rams games are the toughest to prediction. You never know which Jeff Fisher team you will get.

Falcons over Eagles – Atlanta can score a lot of points. Philly can not.

Buccaneers over Bears – Lovie Smith revenge game? Maybe if he was coaching Chicago. Tampa has more talent.

Washington over Vikings – The Minnesota slide continues? Even against Washington? It should be close.

Texans over Jaguars – Will Gus Bradley get fired after losing this one at home? Maybe.

Chargers over Dolphins – The loser has to go back home to their awesome weather.

Cardinals over 49ers – Arizona needs to start their playoff push right now.

Week 10 Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Trevor Siemian (Broncos) – The Saints allow the most yards through the air. So, why not for Trevor?

RB: Melvin Gordon (Chargers) – Gordon is having a amazing season and on Sunday, he’ll face the third worst run defense in the league.

WR: Dez Bryant (Cowboys) – Bryant has been patient while allowing opportunities for his teammates. On Sunday, he’ll make a big play when called upon.

TE: Zach Miller (Bears) – Chicago will be facing Tampa defense which doesn’t defend the pass well.

DEF: Arizona – The Cardinals defense will be looking to make big plays against Colin Kaepernick.

NFL 2016: Week 6 Predictions!

NFL: Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers

Green Bay’s defensive front seven has been impressive so far this season. They’ll see their toughest test this weekend when Dallas comes to town.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 7-7

Season: 43-34

Big Five Games of the Week

Cincinnati @ New England – I don’t know what’s wrong with Cincinnati but they better get it figured out real fast. Last week in Dallas, they found themselves down 28 nothing in a game that ended up not being close at all. The Bengals seem to have major problems defensively and they are struggling up front offensively, which is affecting the run and pass game. Cincinnati took their lumps last week and that will probably continue on the road this week against New England. The Patriots got their leader back last week in Tom Brady. They also received reinforcements on the defensive line. New England is stronger on both sides of the ball now compared to earlier in the season and they are going to play at a high level for the foreseeable future. Cincinnati has most of the same talent they got them into the playoffs for the last couple of years but they are currently trending down. I don’t see them competing with the Patriots on Sunday in Tom Brady’s homecoming at Gillette Stadium. Prediction: Patriots 35 – Bengals 20

Baltimore @ New York Giants – The Giants struggled on offense again this past week but it was against a pretty good defense in Minnesota. This week, the Giants offense will look to get back on track against a Ravens defense at home. Baltimore is still an inconsistent team and you really can’t get a good read on them. The Ravens are usually a tough defensive team but their offense cant get on track or score enough points to put opponents away. Joe Flacco and company will probably find it tough this week against New York’s defense on the road. Baltimore’s weakness on defense is in the secondary and that should serve Eli Manning and the Giants passing attack well. Without Steve Smith in the lineup, Flacco will be looking for his younger receivers to step up this week but they will struggle to go blow for blow against Manning’s passing attack. Eli Manning has been heavily criticized this season but I believe that he will be able to look like his old self this week. Prediction: Giants 33 – Ravens 23

Kansas City @ Oakland – The Raiders are a fun team to watch each week. This is mainly because their defense can’t put away opponents, which leads to late game heroics by David Carr and the offense. This week, the Raiders are at home against a Kansas City team that is coming off the bye week and is looking to play much better than they showed so far this season. Kansas City will receive full contributions this week from Jamaal Charles who is finally really to take the reins of the KC backfield. Kansas City usually runs the ball well but they will be tested by a very good Raiders front seven on defense. Oakland struggles mightily against the pass, which is good news for Alex Smith. If the Raiders can’t pressure Smith, he’ll be able to go throw for throw against Oakland’s offensive attack. Kansas City’s defense took some serious beatings early this season but coming off the bye, that unit will be looking prove themselves this week on the road. The matchup between Marcus Peters and Amari Cooper should be an interesting one. It seems like the Raiders are a different team at home compared to on the road so, I expect them to take a step back this week. I think Kansas City will prove this week that they are still a contender in this division. Prediction: Chiefs 24 – Raiders 21

Dallas @ Green Bay – In this old school NFC matchup, we will see strength vs. strength. The Packers have the top ranked run defense in the league. The Cowboys have the league’s best rushing attack. The team that controls the line of scrimmage will win this game. Green Bay defensive line is good but I don’t think they have faced an offensive line as good as the one in Dallas or a running back running as well as rookie Ezekiel Elliott. But on the other hand, Dallas hasn’t played against a run strong run defense this season unless you count how the Giants played in Week 1. Green Bay’s defense is impressive with the way they can stop the run and pressure the QB but they are beatable in the passing game. Rookie Dak Prescott has gotten better week after week at going down the field and I think he will get his chances this week. QB Aaron Rodgers is playing at a high level again and that is probably bad news for the Cowboys defense. That Cowboys defense is coming off two very strong performances though. CB Morris Claiborne is playing like a legit shutdown corner and the defensive line received a huge boost last week with the return of DE DeMarcus Lawrence. I think the Packers will have opportunities to soften up the Dallas defense with Eddie Lacy and the run game. With that, Rodgers will have his opportunities down the field as well. But Green Bay’s offensive line is a weakness in pass projection and I think the Cowboys pass rush will have a presence in this game. Dallas is the hot team right now and I’ve picked against them for 4 weeks now. I think the rookies will keep this thing rolling into the bye week. Prediction: Cowboys 28 – Packers 24

Atlanta @ Seattle – It’s starting to look like the Falcons will be the front-runners in the NFC South this season. Usually, it would be too soon for me to make such a statement but the rest of the division looks like such a mess. The Falcons looked mighty impressive last week on the road at Denver. This week, they’ll be looking for another big road victory in Seattle. The Seahawks are a tough team at home and they are coming off the bye week. Russell Wilson was dealing with some injuries but you couldn’t tell with the way he was playing before the bye week. Now that he is rested up, I expect him to be as effective as usual on Sunday. I’m not sure how improved the Falcons defense is yet but Wilson and the Seahawks offense will test them often through the air and on the ground. Seattle has the top ranked defense in football and their secondary will be taking on the top ranked passing attack in football. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones have been on a roll recently but Sunday will be their biggest task of the season. In terms of these “top offense vs. top defense” matchups, it is usually wise to go with the defense. Especially in this case with Seattle being so good at home. An Atlanta win here would be most impressive but I’m sticking with my guns here and going with the home Seahawks. Prediction: Seahawks 31 – Falcons 23

The Rest of Week 6

Chargers over Broncos – Here’s a Thursday night upset. San Diego’s pass rush looked like a monster last week with the addition of rookie Joey Bosa. They will get after Trevor Siemian tonight and San Diego will score the upset at home.

Bills over 49ers – The talk before the game will be about the return of Colin Kaepernick. The talk after the game will be about how Buffalo hasn’t lost since firing their offensive coordinator.

Jaguars over Bears – Jacksonville is coming off the bye. Chicago isn’t that good. C’mon Jaguars. Do something for once.

Lions over Rams – This is a toss up.

Titans over Browns – Tennessee needs to start stacking up wins if they want to contend for the AFC South title.

Steelers over Dolphins – Trap game for Pittsburgh. Miami stinks and Ryan Tannehill is starting to run out of chances at being the guy in South Florida.

Saints over Panthers – Here’s another small upset. Carolina’s downward spiral continues. What’s wrong with their defense?

Eagles over Washington – Without Jordan Reed, Washington’s offense will not be able to go toe to toe against Philadelphia’s offense. Carson Wentz will bounce back this week.

Colts over Texans – Houston has some serious offensive issues. Indy will play them tough on the road.

Cardinals over Jets – Both pass defenses will keep this interesting. I trust Arizona’s offense a lot more than New York’s right now.

Week 6 Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Carson Palmer (Cardinals) – The Jets have serious issues in the secondary. Palmer will have his pick of receivers on Monday night.

RB: LeSean McCoy (Bills) – Shady has been tearing it up recently. San Fran run defense hasn’t been the same since the NaVarro Bowman injury.

WR: DeAndre Hopkins (Texans) – Houston will need some one on offense to step up on Sunday night. Hopkins will have to be that guy against a weak Colts secondary.

TE: Rob Gronkowski (Patriots) – Marty B has taken up some attention in New England. Gronk is starting to look like his old self though and he’ll probably break out any game now. Why not this week against a struggling Bengals defense?

DEF: Buffalo – The Bills defense is slowly starting to improve. If Kaepernick tries to hard to show that he is back to his old self, this Bills defense will take advantage.

NFL 2016: NFC East Preview

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It’s now or never for Tony Romo and the Cowboys. And its looking more and more like “never”.

By: Elias McMillan

 

NFC East

New York Giants – The Giants has such a disappointing 2015. In the offseason, they only had one main goal: improve the defense. With the free agents and draft picks brought in, I think the Giants will be improved on that side of the ball. I think those improvements will go a long way on taking pressure off the offense. The Giants offense will be pretty much the same in 2016. They will be powered by Eli Manning and the passing game. One difference on offense this year is that the depth at receiver got better. Odell Beckham Jr is one of the best receivers in football right now but last season, the Giants struggled at finding someone who can make an impact opposite of him. WR Victor Cruz hopes to stay healthy in 2016 but he may never return to the Victor Cruz of old. However, I’m a big fan of rookie receiver Sterling Shepard out of Oklahoma. Shepard has the skill set as a rookie to eventually take over the number 2 receiver role from Cruz. The Giants have a decent offensive line but they have been inconsistent at times when it comes to pass protection and run blocking. The Giants are deep at the RB position but they are not a strong running team. Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen are serviceable veterans but I actually think that the younger guy, Andre Williams, deserves more opportunities in this offense. Like I said earlier, the Giants made it a point to improve that struggling defense in the offseason. On the defensive line, I think Jason Pierre-Paul will be focused after a seemingly quiet offseason. Pierre-Paul will receive a boost this year with free agent acquisition, DE Oliver Vernon. Vernon received a big pay from the Giants after some successful seasons in Miami and he’ll help provide a good 1-2 punch for the Giants pass rush. The Giants have struggled at stopping the run for years now and I think that might continue to be a problem in 2016. DT Jonathan Hankins is a good run stuffer but that defensive line receives zero help from a lackluster LB group. I think LB Devon Kennard might develop into something one day but that unit just doesn’t have enough talent. LB Jasper Brinkley is a career journeyman and he might be expected to start at middle linebacker. The Giants also had one of the worst pass defenses in the league last year. I think their secondary will improve in 2016 because the pass rush will be better but also they will have better talent out there. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a talented player but he gambles a lot and gets beat. You could say the exact same thing about free agent acquisition, CB Janoris Jenkins. They did draft CB Eli Apple in the first round and he might rise quickly as one of the better young corners in this league. At safety, Landon Collins is the hard hitter in run support and rookie Darian Thompson will get the opportunity early in his career to prove himself as a pass defender. I don’t think that this Giants team will be that much different from the team that went 6-10 last year. But I feel that if they improved the defense, even a little bit, that would help win some games that they would have lost a season ago. I like that the front office had a plan and they executed it through free agency and the draft. I believe that the Giants improved more than the other teams in this division. Prediction: 9-7 (NFC East Champs)

Dallas Cowboys – Even though the Cowboys went 4-12 last season, they were playing with house money going in the offseason. They had a season where just about everything when wrong but there was a silver lining. They were going to have high draft picks. They were going to have key veterans returning from season long injuries. They didn’t have a lot of cap space but there was a possibly where they could have been players in free agency. And more importantly, they were going to return with the best offensive line in football. Despite all of that, the Cowboys amazingly had an underwhelming offseason where they didn’t really improve at all. Despite that, it was always my belief that the Cowboys would win this division in 2016 as long as Tony Romo played in at least 12 or more of the regular season games. Romo is the most important player in the division and the proof pretty much speaks for itself. Before last week, I had the Cowboys winning this division because Romo was set the return and was “healthy”. As it turns out, he broke another bone in his back and he might miss 4 to 6 games to start the season. This may not mean doom for the Cowboys in 2016 but history says that it indeed does. Now, the backup QB situation in Dallas was a mess last season as Romo struggled to return from injury. Despite that, the front office didn’t really bother to bring in a new veteran at the position. Instead, they were going to see what they had in Kellen Moore and rookie 4th rounder Dak Prescott. Now, I didn’t like what I saw in Prescott coming out of Mississippi State but so far in the preseason, he looks like he might be the young arm that this team has been looking to develop for years now. But we have to realize that preseason success really means nothing and we don’t really know how good Prescott will be until Romo returns. Two things are going to help Prescott, 1) he is confident after a pretty solid preseason and 2) this offense is set and ready to go. I already mentioned the offensive line but along with that unit, the Cowboys are deep at the RB position. Did they need to take a RB with the 4th overall pick in this past draft? Probably not. But RB Ezekiel Elliott looks the part of a future franchise back in this league. Elliott will get every opportunity in the offense despite the wealth of talent at the position. Darren McFadden was the 4th leading rusher in the league last season. Alfred Morris is a veteran who can get the tough yards. And Lance Dunbar will be a valuable piece as a receiver coming out from the backfield. That’s a lot of talent at one position. In the preseason, Prescott has already developed a good relationship with star receiver and team leader Dez Bryant. Bryant also missed most of 2015 with an injury but he is back and is already looking like his normal self. The Cowboys will return a decent group at the pass catching position led by Jason Witten, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, and kickoff specialist Lucky Whitehead. Even if Romo wasn’t injured currently, I always believed that this team would only go as far as the defense will take them. Tony Romo would be Tony Romo but the defense needs to figure out a way to get stops in order to win the playoffs. This defense is basically unchanged from a season ago and I see no reason why they’ll improve in 2016. The Cowboys struggle mightily at pressuring the QB and that will continue this season. DE DeMarcus Lawrence is the best pass rusher but he was suspended for the first 4 games of the season. Starting opposite of him will be a collection of guys that you never heard of. The plan was to maybe start last year’s second round pick, Randy Gregory but he is facing a major suspension while he is currently in rehab. Inside on the defensive line, DT Tyrone Crawford is decent player and they brought in Cedric Thornton to be an upgrade from last years starter. Crawford and Thornton will excel at getting up field and creating pressure but they are not the run stuffers that this defense needs at defensive line. At linebacker, Sean Lee is coming off his first Pro Bowl season but he is the lone standout at this position. Jerry Jones decided to bring back an unreliable player in Rolando McClain who is currently suspended. Jerry could have let him walk but he didn’t and now the LB depth is in a rough spot. Even worst, the Cowboys decided to spend this year’s second round pick on one of the best LB prospects in the draft but the player they took is coming off a major knee injury and will certainly miss the entire 2016 season. And they knew this as a possibility going into the draft. And they still took him. I don’t understand the decisions made by this front office in this past offseason. The Cowboys will return the entire group from a secondary that was surprisingly in the top 5 in the league in pass defense. The issue is that the unit doesn’t create many turnovers. Last year’s first round pick, Byron Jones, is making the move to safety and his skill set will serve him well at that position. Jones is an athletic freak who can fly to the football and they are hoping that he will be the change that will help this secondary collect more turnovers. The group of corners on this team is very average but I really don’t want to rip on them because they would be so much better if they played in front of a defensive line that could consistently create pressure. Like I said earlier, Romo injury or not, this team didn’t improve in the offseason and the ceiling was always going to be a divisional winner that wasn’t going to go far in the playoffs anyhow. I don’t know how many games Tony Romo is going to miss. I do know that it is very sad and depressing that the Romo era could possibly end this season without him and Jason Witten getting even a sniff at a championship. That, in my book, is Jerry Jones’ legacy. Prediction: 8-8

Washington – Was last year’s run to the division title a fluke for Washington? I don’t know. Maybe. But despite of the problems of the other teams in the division, you have to give Washington credit for taking advantage of the opportunity. Repeating in this division is always a tall task but I think Washington has a better chance than what people believe. QB Kirk Cousins returns after his best season as a pro. He is basically playing for a more secure future as he signed that one-year franchise tender. Cousins looked great at times last season but there was other times when you saw why this franchise didn’t want to commit to a long-term deal with this guy. Having a repeat of success in 2016 will be a tall task for Cousins, I think. The whole situation was screams what Philadelphia went through a few years ago with Nick Foles. One thing that won’t help Cousins in 2016 is that his offensive line has been so inconsistent. They don’t really have a solid situation at RB right now. RB Matt Jones is a speedster but there isn’t much depth behind him at the position. Plus, that offensive line really struggled at creating lanes for whoever was running the ball a season ago. What will help Cousins in 2016 is that Washington has good talent at the receiver positions. Veterans DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon still have plenty left in the tank and younger guys, Ryan Grant and Jamison Crowder, also have plenty of ability. At the TE position, Washington has one of the best in football with Jordan Reed. On defense, Washington wasn’t good last season at stopping the run and they hope to improve this year. They brought in DT Kendall Reyes from San Diego to join a veteran heavy group at defensive line. I think Washington’s strength on this defense will come from the LB position. They have a decent group on veterans playing at the inside positions. I loved the draft pick of Su’a Cravens who will serve the role as a tweener player on this defense. He’ll be much like Thomas Davis on the Panthers. Cravens could develop into a guy that can cover TE’s but also provide major run support. OLB Ryan Kerrigan is the veteran pass rusher on this team. But also look out for second year guys, Preston Smith and Trent Murphy. Washington has had a bad secondary for years I feel like but that unit will definitely be improved in 2016. CB Josh Norman comes over from Carolina and he currently has the rep as the best corner in football right now. I don’t know if Norman will be as good as he was in Carolina playing in front of that defense but I know he is better than what Washington had a season ago. I expect rookie CB Kendall Fuller to rise fast on the depth chart as well. I’m disappointed that DeAngelo Hall is still on this roster some how. He hasn’t been good for at least 5 years but his speed and athleticism has allowed him to stay in the league. I think Washington may quietly have the best defense in this division. But the lack of a run game and counting of Kirk Cousins will only bring you so far. But even I have to admit that I think Washington shouldn’t be written off this season. Prediction: 8-8

Philadelphia Eagles – The Philadelphia Eagles spent the offseason deleting any traces of the Chip Kelly era off this team. You might want to call it addition by subtraction but I’ll choose to call it what it is: rebuilding. The Eagles are rebuilding under Andy Reid understudy and former Eagles player, Doug Pederson. This seems like a move backwards in order to go forwards because we all say the way they forced Andy out of town. But Reid was very successful in Philly and is currently in Kansas City. Its going to take some time but the Eagles need to give Pederson enough time to build up this roster again. That being said, this current Eagles roster is not ready to compete in 2016. QB Sam Bradford, who was very inconsistent last season, received a contract extension in the offseason. Then, Pederson decided to bring over his top backup from Kansas City, Chase Daniels. After solidifying the QB position, the Eagles still decided that they needed a signal caller for the future so, they traded the farm to move up in this years draft to take QB Carson Wentz from North Dakota State. These are not the moves of a football team that is looking to improve immediately. They have a lot invested in that one position while other areas on that side of the ball could have needed some help. The Eagles are hurting on the offensive line. Starting tackle Lane Johnson is facing a lengthy suspension and the group is coming off a season where they struggled mightily at run blocking. In the matter of two seasons, the Eagles lost two premier running backs in the league. LeSean McCoy was traded away and DeMarco Murray was terribly mismanaged and sent to Tennessee. Now, they are left with an injury prone Ryan Matthews and an aging Darren Sproles. There will be a lot of pressure on the QB position this season for the Eagles as the WR core is extremely average as well. Jordam Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff and Dorial Green-Beckham have ability but neither are clear cut “#1” receivers. The Eagles most consistent receiver this season may be TE Brent Celek. On defense, the Eagles will bring back a pretty active front seven led by DT Fletcher Cox. Cox is clearly the team’s best defender as a run stopper and pass rusher. The Eagles can get pressure on the QB from the outside but they need to get younger at that OLB position. Former First round pick, Marcus Smith, has not worked out so far but Connor Barwin and Mychal Kendricks are solid starters. In the secondary, the Eagles are lacking young talent. Safety Malcolm Jenkins is a good player and a veteran leader but there isn’t much around him. CB Leodis McKelvin was surprisingly let go by Buffalo in the offseason and we’ll see if he has any more left in the tank. And I know its only preseason but CB Nolan Carroll has looked like an impact player already this season. This Eagles team is rebuilding but it will be interesting to see how the QB situation plays out. Prediction: 5-11

2016 Dallas Cowboys Offseason: I DIDNT LIKE MOST OF IT

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By: Elias McMillan

After ending a season that saw them go 4-12, you would think that there wouldn’t be much optimism surrounding the Dallas Cowboys going into the offseason. But once you consider that the 2015 season was one of instances were a lot went wrong with injuries and etc., you could feel optimistic about the Cowboys having a great offseason to improve, get healthy, and be ready to compete in 2016. But months later after the season has ended and now on the eve of the 2016 campaign, I feel that the Cowboys really disappointed me this offseason. I do think that this team will compete in 2016 if they stay healthy but I was looking forward to seeing moves that would improve this team greatly. After the great success of the 2014 season, I feel that the blueprint was set for this team to not only just compete but to become title contenders. Going into 2016, I see Dallas as a team that isn’t on the cusp of being a contender but a team that will just “compete”.

I didn’t expect the Cowboys to be major players in free agency but the club did end up bringing a lot of players back that I didn’t expect back. Looking at the defensive secondary first, where I thought the Cowboys were preparing to move on from first round pick disappointment Morris Claiborne and free agent disappointment Brandon Carr. Claiborne was a free agent who they could have let walk and Carr was a candidate to be released due to his lack of production and his large cap number. Instead, Claiborne was brought back on a one-year deal and Carr took a pay cut to stay with the team. I didn’t hate these moves but I didn’t see them coming. And to Claiborne, Carr and the rest of the secondary’s credit, they can probably play a lot better football than what they’ve shown last season. That unit suffered through injuries (Scandrick) and an inconsistent pass rush. Going into this season, the secondary is a healthy, close group that will probably play better if the defensive front four is improved.

I totally understand why Greg Hardy was not brought back. He didn’t really handle himself well last season and he wasn’t the beast that he was in Carolina. But he does deserve a lot of credit for bringing out the most from line mate DeMarcus Lawrence. Hopefully, Lawrence can be the player that he was last season without Hardy. In terms of free agency, the defensive line was the only place where the Cowboys made any type of significant move. DT Cedric Thornton was brought in from Philadelphia and he should be an upgrade from Nick Hayden. Thornton and Tyrone Crawford should form a formable duo inside for this defense but defensive end still remains a major question mark. The Cowboys got word that Lawrence may be facing a suspension before the draft so that might affect their plans in April. Outside of Lawrence, the Cowboys were counting on Randy Gregory to have a solid offseason after a tough rookie season marred by injuries and suspensions. Also, the Cowboys brought in Benson Mayowa who seems like the forgotten man in the offseason. Mayowa was a restricted free agent but Oakland didn’t fight to keep him because their defense is going through a personnel change from 4-3 to 3-4. Mayowa showed some flashes as a Raider and the Cowboys are hoping he can truly flourish in a 4-3 defense as a pass rusher. The situation involving Lawrence and Gregory ends up taking a turn but I’ll hit on that later.

Jack Crawford and Kyle Wilber are underrated pieces but neither player is really great and I thought the Cowboys could aim to easily replace them both. Instead, they were both brought back on small mid level deals. I guess both players could prove to be valuable in terms of depth and on special teams. LB Rolando McClain was a starter for most of last season but he was a guy that I felt that you really couldn’t rely on. When McClain is at his best, he was a big part of the defense’s success. But with all of the big hits he provided, there were also a lot of plays where he would just miss, take a bad angle, or just tune out completely. LB’s are kinda like RB’s in the league currently in where it isn’t hard to get production out of a free agent for a year or so. For that reason, I didn’t expect McClain to be back but he was brought back on a one-year deal. My problem with that is that the team would be depending on an unreliable player to start again in 2016. And this guy doesn’t want to show up on time for mini camp or work out during the off-season reportedly. And when asked about it, the team gives a “family issues” excuse for him. The entire situation just seemed fishy from the beginning. Why would Jerry Jones want a guy like that back with his history of suspensions and just overall flakiness? Well, maybe the Cowboys can give him one more chance and draft his replacement in April. We’ll see.

On offense, the Cowboys were able to retain OG Ronald Leary, which will prove important for depth purposes. Last season, we saw how important in the backup QB position is. Since Dallas pretty much bottomed out because of that situation, I thought that finding a new, veteran with experience at backup QB would be a priority. The Cowboys did look but they clearly didn’t look hard enough. The one guy I knew would get called in was Matt Moore who is very familiar with head coach Jason Garrett and the Cowboys organization. Moore is up there in age but he is plenty experienced and would have been an upgrade from Kellen Moore, Matt Cassel, and Brandon Weeden. Moore visited with Dallas and left Valley Ranch without a deal. Days later he signs back with Miami. The backup QB situation is dire. Tony Romo is great and so is his offensive line. But he is 36 years old. Old QB’s tend to get injured playing in the NFL. Matt Moore should not of been able to leave Dallas without a deal. Instead now, the Cowboys are going to go forward with what they got, Kellen Moore and Jameill Showers. Two guys who are short on talent and experience. It is as if the organization didn’t think backup QB was an issue last season.

At running back, last season proved that with this offensive line, you could have success no matter who’s running the ball. Darren McFadden exceeded expectations in 2015 but I understand if the team didn’t want to fully count on lightning striking twice with him in 2016. Joseph Randle totally lost his mind and Lance Dunbar is a free agent who is coming off of an injury. I expected Dallas to bring someone in that the position. Alfred Morris signed on a two year and I felt that this could be a real underrated signing by Dallas. Morris is a veteran like McFadden but he is younger and probably has a lot more left in the tank. Plus, Lance Dunbar was brought back on a one-year deal. Dunbar was an important part of the passing game last season before he got hurt so I like that was brought back. With 3 veterans in the fold, I fully expected Dallas to take a younger RB in the draft but I definitely didn’t want one in the first round.

So, now lets talk about the draft where the Cowboys basically did everything I didn’t want them to. The player I wanted at pick #4 overall from day one was DE Joey Bosa. Not only he would have filled a need for Dallas but also his production in college warranted a high selection. Bosa goes to San Diego at #3 so there goes that plan. I never was on board with Jalen Ramsey because I didn’t see a fit for him on this defense. Especially since Dallas brought the entire secondary back in the offseason and they took a CB/S in the first round last year. I absolutely didn’t want a RB at #4 so I thought I would have found a team to trade down with. Shaq Lawson or Leonard Floyd could have been options in a trade down scenario where Dallas could have addressed the team’s greatest need. The Cowboys were in the position that they’re in this offseason because they’ve drafted so safely in recently history. Taking a RB that high in the first round is the opposite of drafting safely. It is a flashy, Hollywood draft pick and it doesn’t make much since to me. And if you listen to Jerry Jones and others who follow the team closely, it wouldn’t have mattered if my guy (Bosa) were available at #4. Ezekiel Elliott was the guy they wanted all along. RB wasn’t a big enough need to address with pick #4. There are plenty of examples in this league of how you can find young quality RB’s anywhere in the draft. Which is probably why they went ahead and took another RB in round 6. I understand the pluses of the Elliott pick. The Cowboys need to maximize the RB position to help Romo stay healthy and to return to the ball control style of football that we saw in 2014. But the Cowboys ran the ball pretty well last season without a young stud a RB. The Romo injury was the difference. So, maximizing the run game is more so to help Romo to stay healthy. Ok, I get that sort of. But then, they take it a step further and say that the ball control offense is going to help the defense stay fresh. I normally would agree with that situation but I don’t see enough talent on that side of the ball. Average talent that is resting up on the bench is still going to be average when they hit the field. Resting the defense will mean nothing if the talent level on that side of the football is not improved.

So in round 2, lets improve the talent on the defensive side of the football with a pass rusher or an impact linebacker that could replace Rolando McClain soon. They take LB Jaylon Smith who if healthy, would have been a top 10 pick overall. Instead, Smith suffered a serious knee injury and will probably miss the entire 2016 season. I get if the Cowboys see Smith as that top-10 prospect that will be a big time player for the team in the future. But the defense needs help sooner rather than later. Because of the smart draft decisions from recent years, the Cowboys have a realistic window to become title contenders. But with the first two selections from this draft, the Cowboys completely failed at maximizing those selections. And the Smith selection looks even worst now that McClain will miss more than half of the season due to suspension. Jaylon Smith might turn into an All-Star but how does that help Dallas in 2016? We cannot count on having impact players next year. We should be trying to field that best team possible as soon as possible. Thinking about the next season before this one starts is a loser’s mentality.

The Cowboys did address the front four in the 3rd and 4th rounds but how can we expect those picks to turn into major pieces this season? Dallas even took the QB that I didn’t want them to take. Dak Prescott was a great college QB at Mississippi State but if you watched him against top defenses in the SEC, you saw that he is limited by his arm strength and his decision-making under pressure. I didn’t feel great about Prescott’s pro prospects going into the draft and now I’ll get to see that process first hand as Dallas did indeed draft him.

After the draft, we’ve learned about how the Cowboys defense would be missing multiple players due to suspensions. DeMarcus Lawrence will miss the first 4 games after his appeal was denied. I don’t think Lawrence’s violation of the substance abuse policy was marijuana related so I’m not overly worried about him. Though, not having him for the first month of the season will hurt big time. Another DE, Randy Gregory, is also facing multiple suspensions. Gregory has a history with marijuana issues, which allowed him to fall into the Cowboys lap in the second round of the 2015 draft in the first place. Gregory was suspended last season for a violation and he was facing another 4 game suspension for this upcoming season. Last week, Gregory checked himself into rehab as he failed another drug test and is facing an even longer suspension now. Rolando McClain will also face a lengthy suspension this season. The entire situation is just frustrating. I think Lawrence might be able to bounce back from this but I don’t feel great about the other two. With Gregory’s history, I think it might be safe to say that his Cowboys career could be over. I completely understand why the Cowboys took a risk on Gregory in the first place. The defense needs quality pass rushers and they still do especially now. I don’t understand why the Cowboys took a chance on bringing back a guy like McClain though. And then they draft a potential replacement for him that cant play until next season? I just don’t like it at all. We could have and should have just allowed McClain to walk away. But instead now, our depth at LB behind Sean Lee looks mighty weak.

With the talent of the offensive side of the ball, I think the Cowboys will be fine on that side of the football. Getting back a healthy Tony Romo and Dez Bryant will pay huge dividends. If the great depth at RB paired with the offensive line does it job, Dallas will have one of the top offenses in football. But I’m afraid that this wont be enough to make this team into title contenders. A lot of people are saying how in 2014, the Cowboys had a worst defensive situation and they still got so close from making the NFC Championship. Well as a fan, I don’t want to “come close” anymore. “Coming close” is no longer a goal. Tony Romo is 36 years old and this team needs to maximize its chances right now. In 2016. We can’t just use 2014 as an example of success because it wasn’t. It was a great season but it ended in failure. We lost. How can we be a better team in 2016. I think the offense will be at the level. Maybe. But look at the recent champions and contenders. You can have a flashy offense but if you don’t have a defense that can create stops, you are not going to be a contender. I feel that there were several decisions this offseason that will keep this team from being a contender in 2016. And its frustrating to me because this team needs to maximize the years that Tony Romo has left. I feel that this team has done the opposite this offseason. If Romo can survive the season, I still think that this Cowboys team can win the NFC East. But anything past that, anything in terms of making the ultimate goal, remains a huge question mark.