Tag Archives: Houston Texans

NFL 2017: Week 10 Predictions! (Condensed)

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Drew Brees and the Saints will face a big test on the road in Buffalo on Sunday.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 7-6

Season: 78-54

Week 10 Predictions (Condensed)

Seahawks over Cardinals – Seattle has lost two straight at home and are usually bad on the road. They will still have to try hard to lose to this Arizona team.

Saints over Bills – This is probably the most interesting matchup of the week. We will see how good this Saints team is in a hostile crowd in Buffalo and we’ll see if the Bills can bounce back after an embarrassing showing last week in New York. Right now, I trust Drew Brees to make more big plays down the field than Tyrod Taylor. Though, we have to factor in the possible impact of WR Kelvin Benjamin who will be making his debut for the Bills after being traded from Carolina.

Bears over Packers – Chicago isn’t very good but they are young and healthier than the Packers right now.

Lions over Browns – Detroit probably feels like they can go on a run right now and maybe have an outside shot at challenging Minnesota in the NFC North. For that to happen, they have to take care of “gimmies” like Cleveland.

Bengals over Titans – The Titans have also underperformed this season. I like the Bengals in a road upset.

Steelers over Colts – The story from this one will be Pittsburgh’s dominance. But the real story should be the dysfunction in Indy right now.

Jets over Buccaneers – Revenge game for the young Jets. They will get after Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Vikings over Washington – After an amazing triumph on the road, Washington will have a let down at home this week.

Jaguars over Chargers – Jacksonville will win if they stay away from mistakes. The defense should be able to take care of Phillip Rivers.

Rams over Texans – Man. This would be a really good game if Deshaun Watson were healthy. Man.

Falcons over Cowboys – I keep telling myself that I still don’t trust the Cowboys defense. I didn’t see this team winning three straight coming off a bye. A win still on the road at Atlanta would say a lot. Atlanta has under achieved this year but if they can put the pedal to the medal on offense, they could over whelm Dallas at home.

Giants over 49ers – I don’t know. Someone has to win, I guess.

Patriots over Broncos – Bill Bellichick coming off a bye should be bad news for Denver.

Panthers over Dolphins – This game could be a tricky one for Cam Newton. Carolina is lacking offensive playmakers while Miami’s defense will play them tough. Carolina’s defense will have to do a lot to win this game for the road team.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers) – The Steelers passing offense will face the 31st ranked pass defense in football on Sunday.

RB: Leonard Fournette (Jaguars) – After missing last week, Fournette will take out his frustrations on the 31st ranked run defense in the league.

WR: Julio Jones (Falcons) – Julio has had some tough times out this season. I think he can bounce back against the Cowboys secondary on Sunday.

TE: Jimmy Graham (Seahawks) – Graham has been reliable recently for Russell Wilson.

DEF: Detroit – The Lions defense will be able to flex their muscles against Cleveland’s offense.

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NFL 2017: Week 8 Predictions!

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Shady McCoy and the Bills look to protect home field this weekend while keeping their sights on contending in the AFC East.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 9-6

Season: 59-47

Big Five Games of the Week

Oakland @ Buffalo – The Raiders had a great, emotional victory at home last Thursday against the Chiefs. The moment was big enough to forget about how RB Marshawn Lynch was ejected and is now suspended for this weekend. The Raiders will have a few extra days to prepare but they will still have to travel a long ways to Orchard Park, New York this weekend to face the Bills. Buffalo is breathing right down New England’s neck in the AFC East and they are feeling pretty confidant right now. Their defense has performed well this year and the offense can take advantage of weaker, defensive teams. It will be an emotional return to the Buffalo area for Raiders DE Khalil Mack who played their in college but it will be a bad return if his defense doesn’t show up. Mack and Bruce Irvin can be bright spots up front for Oakland but the defense as a whole just gives up too many big plays. I think Buffalo QB Tyrod Taylor will find his spots to make some big plays in this game even without his top target, TE Charles Clay. Oakland QB David Carr could be able to ride the wave of a strong performance last week into this one. But the Bills can be tricky at home. Prediction: Bills 28 – Raiders 20

Houston @ Seattle – The Seahawks usually have problems on the road and they almost fell into that trap again last week in New York. Lucky, they woke up and took care of business and will now return home this week. Houston rookie QB Deshaun Watson will face a tall task in the Seattle defense, especially on the road. Houston will also feel the effects of not having its too best players on defense. I think they will still find a way to pressure and get after QB Russell Wilson. But in a defensive struggle, I trust the veteran Wilson over the young pup, Watson. Especially at home. Prediction: Seahawks 16 – Texans 10

Dallas @ Washington – This game will begin a tough stretch for the Cowboys. Dallas took care of business last week in San Fran. This week, the stakes will be a bit higher against divisional rival, Washington. I watched Washington a few weeks ago and I was so impressed with their defense. Since then injuries have taken a toll and the team has started to struggle a bit. I think Washington will still be able to give the Dallas offense some resistance but they wont be able to lean on that unit in this game. Instead, they could lean on Kirk Cousins and the offense to pressure a beatable Dallas defense. The Cowboys defense is young and they have their good moments but consistency continues to be a problem. The Cowboys offense will have to do a great job this week and controlling the ball on offense and limiting Cousins’ chances at testing the Dallas secondary. I could see Dallas dropping this game on the road but I think they’ll be able to take advantage of a short-handed Washington defense on a short week. Prediction: Cowboys 34 – Washington 30

Pittsburgh @ Detroit – The Lions had so much momentum a few weeks ago. What happened? Their defense got exposed and QB Matt Stafford couldn’t save them. Things will get worst this week with Pittsburgh coming to town. The Steelers are starting to hit their stride as the best team in the AFC. I don’t think their offense will miss a beat this week against this Lions defense. Pittsburgh’s pass rush looked strong last week and that will be key for the rest of the year. If they can keep that up, they will continue to be tough for anyone to beat. The Lions will have a chance if Stafford can attack the Steelers secondary while not running for his life. It would be nice if Detroit had a consistent threat in the run game on offense. Detroit can’t survive if Stafford is throwing the ball 50 times a game. I like the Steelers here. Prediction: Steelers 39 – Lions 30

Denver @ Kansas City – Chiefs QB Alex Smith has been playing well for most of this season. This Monday night on Hallo-Eve, he will try to figure out a usually decent Broncos defense at home. The Broncos have had some time to try to figure out their issues after a humiliating loss at home to a bad Giants team. Denver’s offensive woes seem like they are not going away. But the Chiefs defense is coming off a couple a really bad performances too. Denver could be able to find their offensive spark in this one. And I think Smith is aware of what the Broncos defense is capable of when they are on their game. A Denver win on the road wouldn’t surprise me but the Chiefs need a bounce back game after dropping two straight and I love their home field advantage. Prediction: Chiefs 21 – Broncos 16

The Rest of Week 8

Dolphins over Ravens – Miami will soon find out that Matt Moore was the QB they should have went with all along. Miami was so emotional after the win last week. They are taking this “us against the world” mentality to heart.

Vikings over Browns – Minnesota could be marching towards a division title.

Bengals over Colts – This game will feature two horrible offensive lines. I can at least name Cincinnati’s pass rushers.

Patriots over Chargers – Is New England defense back to being decent? Or naw?

Saints over Bears – New Orleans have won 4 straight, quietly.

Falcons over Jets – I like this Jets team because unlike Atlanta, they are putting in maximum effort each week for their head coach (Todd Bowles) and you can easily tell. Atlanta is too talented. They better be “up” for this one.

Eagles over 49ers – Philly is the hot team. I’m wondering how they will react to a couple injuries suffered last week.

Panthers over Buccaneers – Cam Newton better wake up and wake up soon. Tampa’s defense isn’t very good. This has to be the week for Newton and the Carolina offense.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Phillip Rivers (Chargers) – New England gives up the most yardage through the air. If LA hopes to go toe-to-toe with Brady, it will be on the arm of Rivers.

RB: Jay Ajayi (Dolphins) – The J-Train has been quiet this year. On Thursday, he will be running into the worst run defense in the league.

WR: A.J. Green (Bengals) – Cincinnati has to find a way to get the ball in the hands of its best player.

TE: Zach Ertz (Eagles) – Ertz leads the league in TD catches for a TE.

DEF: Carolina – The Panthers defense did its job last week, limiting Chicago’s offense to just 3 points.

 

NFL 2017: Week 5 Predictions!

Detroit Lions v Minnesota Vikings

The Lions defense is ready to put the NFC on notice.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 11-5

Season: 38-25

Big Five Games of the Week

New England @ Tampa Bay – The Patriots were able to come back late last week at home against Carolina but that game wasn’t as close as the scoreboard would have you believe. New England has some serious defensive problems and it looks like it’s going to be a reoccurring issue. Tampa did a great job hanging tough last week to get their victory over the Giants. I think the Patriots on a short week might be too tall of a task for them. I imagine Coach Bill Belichick isn’t too pleased with his team right now and his grouch like attitude will have an affect on his team this week. New England’s secondary has been called out and I think they’ll have a chance to respond against QB Jameis Winston, who is prone to mistakes. New England’s defense is struggling but Tampa’s defense isn’t that great either. I think Tom Brady will have a vintage performance on the road this Thursday night. Prediction: Patriots 36 – Buccaneers 27

Carolina @ Detroit – Carolina did an impressive job on the road last week. But I’m afraid that game was more about New England’s defensive struggles and less about Cam Newton having a bounce back performance. Newton will face a much tougher defense on the road this week in the Lions. I’m not sure what’s the deal with Newton this season. I’m not sure if he is 100% healthy. Either way, I like the way Detroit’s defense is playing right now. They are keeping the Lions in games and creating opportunities for Matt Stafford and the offense. I think Carolina’s defensive line should create some issues for the Lions as well but they’ll be okay as long as they stay away from the turnovers. I think Detroit is playing better football right now so, I’ll take the home team. Prediction: Lions 20 – Panthers 14

Seattle @ Los Angeles Rams – When you beat the Dallas Cowboys, it’s going to turn some heads. No matter how bad of a game the Cowboys played. It doesn’t matter. That’s just how it is. But now that more media eyes are starting to pay attention to the Rams, they could really impress but beating a strong defensive team like Seattle. The Seahawks were almost on the ropes at home against a bad Colts team until their defense took over. But no mistake about it, Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense needs to improve. And things wont get easier as injuries are starting to pile up on the offensive line and in the backfield. I think Aaron Donald will give Wilson fits on Sunday. Seattle is usually shaky on the road. For Los Angeles, they just have to make sure that QB Jared Goff doesn’t lose the game for them. RB Todd Gurley might be a full proof plan for that as he is playing like the best RB in the football right now. A win here for the home team would really put the league on notice. Prediction: Rams 22 – Seahawks 17

Green Bay @ Dallas – The Cowboys are coming off a weak performance last week in all phases of the game. Without LB Sean Lee, the Cowboys defense really looked toothless. QB Dak Prescott wasn’t as sharp as defenses are standing up to stop the run and are just daring Prescott to win the game with his arm. Dak needs to remind defenses of what he can do in the passing game. Green Bay played last Thursday so, they will have the extra rest. But I think Dallas actually matches up well with them despite how bad their defense looked a week ago. The Packers do have Aaron Rodgers but they don’t have a “Todd Gurley”. Green Bay’s offensive line and running game is suspect and I think the Dallas defensive line can have a bounce back performance this week. Green Bay’s defense is underrated but they don’t have a “Aaron Donald”. I don’t expect the Packers will be successful if they sell out the stop Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys run game. But if they do, they don’t have a great secondary so, Prescott needs to exploit this and make the Packers respect the air attack. After a poor performance last week, I must be crazy to take Dallas with Aaron Rodgers coming to the stadium. But I believe the Cowboys will really want this W before their bye week. Prediction: Cowboys 31 – Packers 30

Kansas City @ Houston – I didn’t think the Chiefs were going to pull it off on Monday but they survived a tough test at home from Washington. Kansas City must now regroup and face a Houston team on the road that is coming off an impressive win last week. I feel like we’ve been saying for years now that the Texans would be dangerous if they ever figured out their QB situation. Last week, rookie QB Deshaun Watson solidified himself as the team’s leader on offense as that unit just exploded on the scoreboard against Tennessee. One thing about the Chiefs is that they have a veteran coaching staff and they will definitely draw up a plan to make Watson not comfortable this week. Kansas City has fought through many injuries on defense but they will still provide better resistance than what Tennessee did a week ago. I’m worried about Kansas City’s banged up offensive line because JJ Watt and company could really change the game upfront with what he has around him. I think Houston’s defense will have a real chance to flex their muscles on Sunday night and they will limit Kareem Hunt and the Chiefs’ offense. Prediction: Texans 26 – Chiefs 23

 

The Rest of Week 5

Bills over Bengals – Look out for Buffalo. They have some really big win early this season (@ Atlanta, vs. Denver). They are playing very well on defense right now.

Browns over Jets – Hue Jackson is tired of losing. This is now or never for Cleveland at home on Sunday.

Colts over 49ers – Indy can’t let the letdown of last Sunday night drag over to this week.

Titans over Dolphins – A matchup of teams that should have signed Colin Kaepernick. Is Tennessee’s defense that bad that they’ll allow Jay Cutler look serviceable?

Giants over Chargers – The Giants gotta win some time. Why not against a team that loses close game after close game after close game?

Eagles over Cardinals – I think Arizona will play Philly tough but can they score enough points?

Steelers over Jaguars – Another cupcake for Pittsburgh. Seriously, who has had an easier schedule so far this season? I hope Antonio Brown leg drops a Gatorade cooler on the sideline just so Pittsburgh media can lose their minds all next week.

Raiders over Ravens – Baltimore looks really bad but Oakland will be without David Carr. Oakland can’t let EJ Manuel lose it for them.

Vikings over Bears – I want to see my guy, Mitch Trubisky, shine but the Minnesota will unleash that pass rush on the rookie QB.

 

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Tom Brady (Patriots) – New England has the worst pass defense in the league. Who’s second worst? Tampa Bay. Great news for Brady.

RB: Le’Veon Bell (Steelers) – Jacksonville has talent on defense but they allow the most yards on the ground. Pittsburgh should feed Bell and allow him to feast.

WR: Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals) – Fitzgerald is off to a great start this season. Arizona will have to attack the Eagles through the air if they hope to win.

TE: Delanie Walker (Titans) – Tennessee’s QB situation might become shaky. Walker will become a security blanket for whoever is the starter.

DEF: Buffalo – Andy Dalton has improved each week this season. Buffalo’s defense will put a stop to that on Sunday.

NFL 2017: Week 4 Predictions!

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Alex Smith and the Chiefs are the AFC’s lone unbeaten team in 2017

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 8-8

Season: 27-20

Big Five Games of the Week

Detroit @ Minnesota – Detroit lost a heartbreaker last week in a game that they played well enough to win. And that was against one of the better teams in the NFC. Despite the disappointment of that loss, I think the Lions should move forward from last week with at least some sense of confidence. Minnesota is coming off a strong home victory against Tampa Bay, which saw Case Keenum probably have his best day of his career. Keenum looked so comfortable last week at home but I don’t want to buy too much into last week’s performance. Maybe Tampa Bay’s secondary is really bad. I think Detroit can be the healthier and better team on Sunday, even on the road. Minnesota’s running game and defense could make the Vikings a tough out at home, but I feel confident in Matt Stafford. Prediction: Lions 25 – Vikings 23

Pittsburgh @ Baltimore – I thought the deal was if you played in London, you would have a bye week and following week. That is not the case. Man, did Baltimore pick a great time to play their worst football in a long time. After getting their teeth kicked in last week by Jacksonville, they go home to face the rival Steelers. Pittsburgh is coming off their annual, per usual, loss on the road against a opponent that they should have crushed. Plus, with the entire national anthem fiasco, head coach Mike Tomlin is fed up and I think that attitude will trickle down to his football team. Besides all of the media hoopla, I think Pittsburgh is just generally upset about how they played last week. I can’t explain what happened to the Ravens last week and I know they usually find a way to play Pittsburgh close. But I think the Steelers will truly “unleash hell” in Baltimore on Sunday. Prediction: Steelers 30 – Ravens 14

Tennessee @ Houston – The Texans were really close to gaining an impressive road victory in New England last weekend. Houston’s defense will keep them in games this season and things will really get interesting once rookie QB Deshaun Watson gets more comfortable. Tennessee took care of business at home last week but they’ll face a major road hurdle this week in Houston. Tennessee would like to leap frog the Texans in the AFC South this year but I don’t see them doing that with the lack of playmakers on their defense. It would be something if QB Marcus Mariota could put this Titans team on his back and carry them to a big road victory but I just don’t see that happening. Prediction: Texans 28 – Titans 21

Oakland @ Denver – The Raiders looked horrible last week. Maybe it was the cross-country traveling? I don’t know but the offense was absolutely unproductive. I don’t see things in Oakland getting better this week as they will visit an angry Denver team that is also coming off a bad loss in Buffalo. If Washington’s defense was able to stifle the Raiders offense, I think Denver’s should be able to least hold their own. Prediction: Broncos 27 – Raiders 20

Washington @ Kansas City – Washington has been a lot better than I expected so far in this young season. The defense is active. The running game was working last week. And QB Kirk Cousins is coming off a strong performance. Washington will face their greatest challenge so far this season on the road against a red hot Kansas City team. The Chiefs have been the most impressive team in the AFC so far this season. Rookie Kareem Hunt could be on his way to rookie of the month honors but QB Alex Smith deserves a lot of credit as well. The Chiefs are also covering well for the injury to defensive leader Eric Berry as the defense hasn’t really missed too many beats without him. Kansas City has a great home field advantage at Arrowhead and Washington could potentially be walking into a buzz saw on Monday night. But I’ll give Washington credit as they have been playing good football recently. I don’t see Kirk Cousins winning this big game on the road. Prediction: Chiefs 31 – Washington 24

The Rest of Week 4

Packers over Bears – Both Chicago and Green Bay are coming off overtime victories. I don’t think the Packers are very good this season but I don’t think the Bears have the defense to stop Aaron Rodgers.

Saints over Dolphins – London games are silly. You know what else is silly? Losing to the New York Jets. Miami better get it figured out.

Falcons over Bills – Atlanta survived last week and they’ll face a Bills team on home that doesn’t travel well.

Bengals over Browns – Cincinnati actually looked like a football team last week. If they drop this one at Cleveland, Marvin Lewis might as well not come back to southern Ohio.

Cowboys over Rams – I’m still waiting on the Dallas wet towel. But the Cowboys responded well on the road last week. The Rams looked impressive last Thursday and have the extra rest. I don’t trust that QB though. Dallas has the league leading sack getter. WATTBA.

Patriots over Panthers – Carolina is 2-1 but its time to start panicking about Cam Newton. He is truly not himself. Tom Brady is though. He never changes.

Jaguars over Jets – Man, I don’t trust either of these teams. It would make sense that the Jets would play well in a second straight home game. But then again, Jacksonville looked real strong last week. But this week’s game is not in London. Hmmm.

Cardinals over 49ers – If Arizona doesn’t get their offense figured out, San Fran could make this a game.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Alex Smith (Chiefs) – I know Washington’s defense completely shut down David Carr last week but I don’t see Smith and the Chiefs being gun shy at home.

RB: Mark Ingram (Saints) – Miami is having trouble with stopping the run.

WR: Doug Baldwin (Seahawks) – Baldwin is underappreciated and he usually has strong showing at home.

TE: Zach Ertz (Eagles) – Ertz is coming off a great game last week. Philly will attack LA through the air this week.

DEF: Dallas – I can’t believe I’m saying this. But Dallas currently has the league’s top run defense and sack leader. I don’t feel great about Jared Goff on Sunday.

 

Eagles over Chargers – Philly almost blew a 14-0 4th quarter lead last week. The Chargers seem to blow it every week.

 

Giants over Buccaneers – So much for that Jameis Winston hype train. Tampa must respond at home this week against a winless and desperate Giants team.

 

Seahawks over Colts – I think Seattle is really tired of Richard Sherman’s act. The guy was an absolute disgrace in Tennessee last week. But home visit for Seattle seem to work like a magic elixir.

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.

 

 

NFL 2017: AFC Preview (Condensed)

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Tom Brady and the Patriots reloaded in the offseason. Does the rest of the AFC stand a chance?

By: Elias McMillan

 

AFC East

New England Patriots – The Patriots won another title last season with a roster that wasn’t supremely talented. During this offseason, New England added significant upgrades on offense at RB and WR and on defense at DE and CB. Also, TE Rob Gronkowski returns after missing much of last year due to injury. It looks like the Brady-Belicheck combo will be the cream of the crop once again in the AFC. Although, it seems when the Patriots reload like this, they find a way to disappoint in the post season. We’ll see if this season will be different. Prediction: 15-1 (AFC East Champs)

Miami Dolphins – Miami made the playoffs somehow last season. But they don’t have much momentum going into 2017. It doesn’t help that they lost Ryan Tannehill to injury in training camp and had to replace him with a Jay Cutler they had to drag out from the announcer’s booth (Why didn’t they sign Kaepernick?). Positives: they found an answer a RB last season (Jay Ajayi) and they are pretty solid at the receiver positions. On defense, they have a tough front four and I like the offseason addition of Lawrence Timmons. Negatives: Miami secondary may be the down fall for this defense, yet again. And you’ll never know which Jay Cutler that you’re going to get. Prediction: 8-8

Buffalo Bills – Buffalo did Rex Ryan wrong and now they seem to be tanking. They traded their best WR and CB for draft picks. The Bills made a smart trade on draft day in April. Buffalo is stockpiling draft picks. It’s good idea but its not going to help them win 2017. I feel bad for LeSean McCoy who is wasting his talents up there. I’m interested in seeing how QB Tyrod Taylor will fair with limited weapons in the passing game. Buffalo has young talent on defense. I really liked Shaq Lawson from the 2016 draft. If he’s healthy, he’ll be impact player. Regardless, I don’t see many wins in Buffalo this year. Prediction: 5-11

New York Jets – The Jets are tanking. I hope it doesn’t cost head coach Todd Bowles who won 10 games in New York just two seasons ago. The Jets literally got rid of every veteran on the team except RB Matt Forte. The QB position is a disaster. What is josh McCown doing to keep finding work in this league? WR core? Garbage. They do have some promising talent on defense. It’s going to be an ugly year for the Jets. Prediction: 2-14

 

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers return with supreme talent on the offense between the QB (Roethlisberger), RB (Bell), and the WR (Brown). That, along with that over achieving offensive line, Pittsburgh should be able to rule the North again. What will stop them in the playoffs? If it isn’t the inability to stay healthy, it will be the lack of big plays from their defense. Losing and not replacing Lawrence Timmons at middle linebacker will prove to be a mistake. Pittsburgh is solid on the defensive line but they lack players in the secondary that can make big plays. But what they are really missing is an impact pass rusher. Can rookie T.J. Watt be that guy? Despite the questions, Pittsburgh should be New England’s main rival for the AFC crown. Prediction: 11-5 (AFC North Champs)

Baltimore Ravens – Baltimore quietly made some improvements this offseason especially on defense. I like the addition of S Tony Jefferson. They have solid veteran leadership in the secondary between him and Eric Weddle. Terrell Suggs returns for what maybe his final season. Look out for rookie Tyus Bowser to become a difference maker off the edge on this defense. Baltimore’s defense will keep the Ravens in a lot of games but they have serious questions on offense. It feels like everyone has been waiting for 2012 Joe Flacco to return and it just hasn’t happened yet. It would help if he could get some consistency from his supporting cast. Maybe WR Jeremy Maclin can help. The success of this season for the Ravens will be up to if the offense can finally figure itself out. Prediction: 8-8

Cincinnati Bengals – Cincinnati again brings a talented roster to the table but their undisciplined nature seems to be their undoing. I like Marvin Lewis but how does he still have a job as he continues to vouch for Adam Jones and Vontaze Burfict? On offense, the Bengals need Andy Dalton to stay healthy because he has a great collection of skill players around him, highlighted by WR A.J. Green. The Bengals have a talented defense led by DT Geno Atkins. But I think their immaturity will hold them back. They might push Baltimore for second place in the division. Prediction: 8-8

Cleveland Browns – Same as it ever was for the Browns. QB questions. Young talent on both sides of the ball. Seasoned veterans. Cleveland just can’t seem to put it all together. But this season could set the table for some success down the road. The Browns will see what they have in rookie QB DeShone Kizer right out of the gate. First round pick Myles Garrett will receive tons of playing time as well and he has impressed in the pre-season. I will be interested in seeing how Cleveland does with this current crop of young talent. I’m a believer in Hue Jackson. Prediction: 6-10

 

AFC South

Tennessee Titans – I’m buying into the Titans this season. They impressed a season ago and they may have made the post season if QB Marcus Mariota doesn’t get hurt late in the season. Tennessee has a good mix a RB with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, a great offensive line, and they added weapons in the passing game. Once the defense figures itself out, they could become a contender in the AFC. But for now, I think they’ll be good enough to win the AFC South. Prediction: 10-6 (AFC South Champs)

Houston Texans – Houston has made the playoffs in two straight seasons. I would say this is mainly because of their defense. In 2015, in was all about J.J. Watt. In 2016, while Watt was injured, it was all about Jadeveon Clowney. Who knows what this defense will be capable of with both Watt and Clowney in the line-up. Houston has a legit starter at RB (Lamar Miller) and a legit number one receiver (DeAndre Hopkins). What they don’t have is a legit starting QB. Could it be the returning backup Tom Savage or the rookie who just won a national championship, Deshaun Watson? Either way, I’m expecting more big things from the defense in Houston. Prediction: 9-7 (Wild-card)

Indianapolis Colts – I feel like the majority is expecting nothing from this Colts team, which makes them kind of underrated. But they still have plenty of issues. Issues number one: the health of Andrew Luck. I expect Luck to start out on the PUP list (6 Games) so they are going to have to roll with Scott Tolzien. Good thing for Tolzien, the best player on the team is a WR (T.Y. Hilton). The defense is full of cast offs from another teams. I think a lot of teams will sleep on Indy and for good reason. But I don’t think they’ll completely stink. Prediction: 7-9

Jacksonville Jaguars – Jacksonville should have been the team that brought in Colin Kaepernick. The jig up for Blake Bortles. The Jaguars actually have promising talent on both sides of the ball. It is clear that the QB position is holding them back. It’s too bad, I guess. I really like what they have on defense. But it wont be enough to make up for the shortcomings offensively. Jacksonville will likely be drafting a new QB early in the draft next April. Prediction: 4-12

 

AFC West

Oakland Raiders – The Raiders had a great 2016 season that was derailed by Derek Carr’s injury before the playoffs. Now, Carr returns to a team that is ready to take the next step and win the AFC West. Oakland is set up pretty well offensively. I think Marshawn Lynch’s return to the NFL wont have as much as an impact as some people may want to but at the least, he’ll serve well as a weapon in the red zone. Outside of their front four, I’m still worried about the defense especially in the secondary. Prediction: 12-4 (AFC West Champs)

Denver Broncos – Denver suffered through a Super Bowl hangover last year but I think they can rebound in 2017. I still like what their defense brings to the table. Von Miller is one of the best players in the league. I’m not sure how far this offense will be able to take them under the command of QB Trevor Siemian. But the Broncos have plenty of weapons at the skills positions on offense. They still have a stacked WR group led by Demaryius Thomas. Also, remember this name from out of the backfield: sixth round pick RB DeAngelo Henderson. Prediction: 9-7 (Wild-card)

Kansas City Chiefs – Andy Reid has won 10+ games in Kansas City 3 out of the 4 seasons as head coach. And in the one season he didn’t, the team still finished over .500. I think that impressive streak will come to an end this season. The Chiefs are in the process of pushing out many veterans on the roster and that turnover will affect their chances to compete in the AFC West. Alex Smith will be feeling the heat all season from the first round QB they selected in April, Patrick Mahomes. The offense will feature TE Travis Kelce and WR Tyreke Hill but Jamaal Charles and Jeremy Maclin are both gone. They do have a great defense to lean on but that group is starting to age. This will be a down year for the Chiefs. Prediction: 7-9

Los Angeles Chargers – I absolutely hate the Chargers move to LA. It stinks to the high heavens. It stinks for the NFL. As for the team, they could be a sleeper in the AFC West if they can stay healthy. I feel like you could say that every year about this team though. Phillip Rivers returns for yet another season where he will see his WR core suffer through many injuries. At least he still has an aging TE Antonio Gates to go to. It would be nice if RB Melvin Gordon can continue the success he had a season ago. I think the story from this team this year will be the emergence of DE Joey Bosa as he will become a defensive star in this league. Between Melvin Ingram and Bosa, the Chargers could have the best pass-rushing duo in the division. It would be cool to see this team grab some success while they still have Phillip Rivers but I don’t see it happening. Prediction: 6-10

 

AFC Playoff Picture Prediction

  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)

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