Tag Archives: Jameis Winston

Revisiting my 2015 NFL MOCK Draft

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Marcus Mariota could have been a Jet if the draft would have gone the way I thought.

 

By: Elias McMillan

Five years ago, I posted a review of the very first NFL Mock Draft I did back in 2011. I thought it would be interesting to see which selections ended up working out and which ones I was dead wrong on. As the 2020 draft approaches, I decided to do pretty much the same thing again but with my 2015 Mock Draft. How much different would the NFL landscape look if that draft would of went the way I saw it? Lets see.

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

      My Pick: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

            Actual Pick: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Well, I got the first pick correct. Winston, coming off a National Championship at Florida State, was linked to the Bucs immediately as the draft process started. The Florida native, despite being linked to many allegations and controversies, was the top pick for Tampa in this draft and he went on to lead the Buccaneers’ offense for the last five years. He maybe a bit of a problem child and a turnover machine but he leaves Tampa this offseason holding many franchise passing records. I would say that this selection paid off for Tampa even with the lack of team success in the post season.

  1. Tennessee Titans

            My Pick: Leonard Williams, DT, USC

            Actual Pick: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

I guess I was thinking that Tennessee wouldn’t reach for a QB and just take the best player available. Leonard was hyped coming out of SC as one of the top players in the PAC-12. I thought he would have been the safer pick for the Titans who instead went QB. Mariota had some great moments early in his career but consistency became an issue, leaving him to be dumped by the Titans this offseason. Williams has made one Pro Bowl in his career but though he wasn’t taken here, he was a top ten pick.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars

  My Pick: Dante Fowler Jr., DE, Florida

            Actual Pick: Dante Fowler Jr., DE, Florida

Two for three to start. Not bad. This edge rusher had to rebound from an ACL injury to start his career but eventually turned into a player that helped “Sacksonville” to return to North Florida. After some disagreements with the brass, he was shipped out but then helped his new team reach the Super Bowl in 2018.

  1. Oakland Raiders

   My Pick: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

            Actual Pick: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

I guess the beginning of this draft was easy to predict? Cooper was the top receiver in college football, playing for one of the top programs in the land. The selection paid dividends immediately for Oakland but Cooper’s stats began to fade in his third season. After being traded to Dallas, Cooper was able to regain his form and he signed a 100 million dollar contract to stay with the team a week ago.

  1. Washington

            My Pick: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

            Actual Pick: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

I thought Washington would go for the pass rusher out of Clemson. Instead, they went with a safe pick in Scherff who has started in every game he played in Washington and has earned Pro Bowl honors in 3 seasons. Beasley ended up having success in Atlanta for 6 seasons, leading the league in sacks in 2016.

6. New York Jets

     My Pick: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

            Actual Pick: Leonard Williams, DT, USC

I basically swapped decisions from Tennessee and New York. But imagine what the Jets could have done with a young Mariota. It would have at least gave them some stability at that position. Williams, though talented, couldn’t stick with the Jets so they traded him across town to the Giants.

7. Chicago Bears

My Pick: Kevin White, WR, WVU

            Actual Pick: Kevin White, WR, WVU

This one was also easy to predict but has a tragic outcome. Kevin White had all the tools as a receiver coming out of West Virginia but just couldn’t stay healthy. He is now out of the league.

8. Atlanta Falcons

            My Pick: Alvin Dupree, OLB, Kentucky

            Actual Pick: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

I, at least, had the right idea for Atlanta. I knew they needed a pass rusher and I bet they were thrilled to take Beasley at 8. Dupree is talented but this would have been a reach.

9. New York Giants

  My Pick: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

            Actual Pick: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami(Fl)

Right position, wrong player. Though, I’m sure NY would have taken Scherff if he was available at 9. Instead, they took Flowers who quickly flamed out but is trying to reclaim his career at guard with the Dolphins.

10. St. Louis Rams

        My Pick: La’el Collins, OT, LSU

            Actual Pick: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

I obviously wrote this Mock before it was revealed that Collins was a suspect in a MURDER investigation which caused him to fall out of the draft completely. Todd Gurley ended up being successful as one of the league’s leading rushers in terms of yards and scores. Slowed by injuries recently, he finds himself back home in Georgia in 2020 with the Falcons. Collins, after being cleared of all allegations, was signed by Dallas and is currently one of the best right tackles in the league.

11. Minnesota Vikings

            My Pick: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

            Actual Pick: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

In his five seasons as a Viking, Waynes put in solid work with a highly acclaimed Minnesota secondary. But I guess he never developed into a star and Minnesota decided to let him hit free agency. I thought they would have gone with Parker who is still with the team that originally drafted him.

12. Cleveland Browns

My Pick: Danny Shelton, DT, Washington

            Actual Pick:  Danny Shelton, DT, Washington

I thought I would have more misses. Shelton was held coming off a successful career as a Huskie. Then in Cleveland, he never really lived up to the hype and was shipped off to New England after 3 years. He actually posted the best numbers in his career last season and was able to sign a deal last week with Detroit.

13. New Orleans Saints

My Pick: Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska

            Actual Pick: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

Randy Gregory’s highlight reel from college displayed his elite speed, which made him a top prospect in this draft. But questions began to arise about his substance abuse issues and caused him to slip out of the first round completely. The Saints went with Peat who is currently an all-pro, protecting one of the league’s top passers.

14. Miami Dolphins

My Pick: Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida

            Actual Pick: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

Miami took their chance to draft the first receiver in the draft as Parker dropped to them at 14. Sparring used for whatever reason, Parker had a career season in 2019. Perriman was taken later in this first round.

15. San Diego Chargers

            My Pick: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

            Actual Pick: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

The Chargers traded up with San Francisco to bring Gordon to their backfield. Ironically, I had Gordon going to San Diego in my Mock but in the second round. Gordon’s career may have started slow but he had some productive years for the Chargers. After a strange 2019 that included a contract hold out, he’ll tote the rock for Denver this fall.

16. Houston Texans

    My Pick: Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma

            Actual Pick: Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest

Green-Beckham was yet another prospect from this draft that saw his stock drop because of issues off the field. Don’t know if he was even considered for Houston at 16 but the Texans went with Johnson who had a limited impact during his time with the team. Green-Beckham was unable to stick in the league while Johnson is currently signed with Cleveland.

17. San Francisco 49ers

My Pick: Shane Ray, OLB, Missouri

            Actual Pick: Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon

I made this pick for the Chargers but they decided to move up for Gordon. With the Niners in this spot, they went with a defensive lineman that would help them solidify that unit up front for years. Ray was one of the top pass rushers coming out of the SEC but couldn’t stick with the team that drafted him. He’s currently a free agent.

18. Kansas City Chiefs

My Pick: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State

            Actual Pick: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington

I was way off on this one as Strong wasn’t selected until the 3rd round. Peters turned out to be a good player for the Chiefs but was also volatile and disruptive. The talented corner was traded out of KC to LA and traded AGAIN to Baltimore where they locked him up on a multi-year deal. In five seasons, Peters has totaled 27 interceptions. Strong totaled 31 receptions in three seasons for Houston and later Jacksonville.

19. Cleveland Browns

    My Pick: Cameron Erving, OL, Florida State

            Actual Pick: Cameron Erving, OL, Florida State

Crazy how Cleveland had two first rounders eight spots apart and I was able to predict both of them. Drafted as a Center, Erving was an unique prospect that played multiple position on the offensive line but couldn’t stick in Cleveland. He was traded to Kansas City in 2017 but won a Super Bowl title with them as their starting left guard.

20. Philadelphia Eagles

My Pick: Landon Collins, S, Alabama

            Actual Pick: Nelson Agholor, WR, USC

I was wrong on the pick but I’ll like to think Philly wishes they would have selected differently. Collins went in the second round to the rival Giants where he became a All-Pro safety. Agholor couldn’t keep his footing in the city of brotherly love where he developed his rep as a guy with bad hands. Had a 8-touchdown season two years ago. Now, he’ll catch or drop passes in Las Vegas with the Raiders.

21. Cincinnati Bengals

My Pick: Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA

            Actual Pick: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M

Cincy could have gone away with the Vontez Burfict problem if they would have listened to me! I can’t believe that Kendricks lasted in this draft to the 2nd round. He turned out to be a great player for Minnesota. Ogbuehi has suffered in his career due to injuries. But he is still employed, playing in Jacksonville last season and signing a deal with Seattle in 2020.

22. Pittsburgh Steelers

       My Pick: Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut

            Actual Pick: Alvin Dupree, OLB, Kentucky

Byron Jones

I had Dupree drafted in the top ten so this was a steal for Pittsburgh. Dupree has had a shaky start to his career but Pittsburgh was patient with him and it paid off as he totaled 11plus sacks last year. I always mock a corner to the Steelers every year. Jones is currently the highest paid corner in league history so, I would imagine he would have worked out for Pittsburgh as well.

23. Denver Broncos

My Pick: Malcolm Brown, DT, Texas

            Actual Pick: Shane Ray, OLB, Missouri

This pick originally belonged to Detroit who I thought was looking to replace Ndamukong Suh. Instead, they traded down with Denver and they decided to pair the young SEC pass rusher with Von Miller and an aging DeMarcus Ware. I remember watching this at home and I couldn’t believe that Brown was dropping like this. I was excited because Dallas was picking at 27. Anyways, Brown ended being a beast for the team that drafted him.

24. Arizona Cardinals

My Pick: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

            Actual Pick: D.J. Humphries, OT Florida

Well, Gurley surprisingly went in the top ten so I didn’t know what the Cardinals were going to do. Humphries has fought off injuries in the desert and has turned out to be a good pick for Arizona, starting in every game he has played in. He resigned with the team for 45 million dollars last month.

  1. Carolina Panthers

My Pick: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

            Actual Pick: Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington

Peat turned out to be a good pick for the Saints earlier in this draft but Carolina also selected a quality player. Thompson hasn’t made a Pro Bowl yet but he made a grand addition to what Carolina already had at LB with Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis. With Kuechly and Thomas now gone, Thompson had a career year in 2019 and he has solidified his place as the leader of the Panthers defense.

  1. Baltimore Ravens

My Pick:  Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest

            Actual Pick: Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida

Johnson was taken earlier by Houston but has yet to really make an impact in the league. Instead, the Ravens went to receiver and selected Perriman out of UCF. In Baltimore, Perriman couldn’t overcome the injuries and ended up being passed along from there to Washington and to Cleveland. Last season in Tampa, he did catch 6 touchdowns, appearing in 14 games. He’ll be with the Jets in 2020.

27. Dallas Cowboys

   My Pick: Owamagbe Odighizuma, DE, UCLA

            Actual Pick: Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut

I might go long on his one. First off, if I had known that Malcolm Brown from OU was still going to be available, he would have been the pick. Second off, I was waaaay off on this pick for Dallas. I guess I was watching film on Eric Kendricks and saw this other guy on UCLA’s defense making plays. Odighizuma fit the mold for a traditional defensive end in a 4-3 defense. But he would have been a reach and Dallas should have just taken the best player available. I guess, I learned a valuable lesson in 2015 about drafting the BPA over drafting for need. Odighizuma, selected in the THIRD round, is now out of football. Byron Jones was drafted to play free safety, a ball hawking safety. Instead, he was terrible in zone but did well in man-to-man against tight ends. Also, if you play safety, you have to tackle. Jones, an Olympic quality athlete, was not the type of player to lower the boom. After THREE years of experimenting with him at safety, someone finally had the bright idea to move him into corner where he excelled in man-to-man situations, earning him Pro Bowl honors. In five seasons, he has totaled TWO interceptions and Miami decided to give him a boat load of money this offseason. The end.

  1. Detroit Lions

    My Pick: D.J. Humphries, OT Florida

            Actual Pick: Laken Tomlinson, G, Duke

I drafted Humphries for Denver who ended up trading up. Detroit was still thinking offensive line help. Tomlinson couldn’t stick in Detroit for whatever reason but the 49ers traded for him in 2017 and he started for the team in the Super Bowl last month.

  1. Indianapolis Colts

         My Pick: Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon

            Actual Pick: Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami(Fl)

Armstead didn’t make it down to 29 but the Colts ended up with his college teammate, DeForest Buckner, five years later. Phillip Dorsett was an exciting pick at the time for the Colts. With Andrew Luck at QB, Dorsett was met to be a great compliment to T.Y. Hilton at WR. Instead, he was traded for Jacoby Dorsett in 2017 but was apart of a Super Bowl winning team with the Patriots in 2018. He is currently a free agent.

  1. Green Bay Packers

My Pick: Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State

            Actual Pick: Damarious Randall, S, Arizona State

The Packers could have went with McKinney who ended up being an All-Pro for Houston. Instead, they went safety with Randall and had mixed results. Randall was actually productive with Green Bay but they ended up trading him before the 2018 season. Randall was sent to Cleveland and is now a free agent.

31. New Orleans Saints

My Pick: Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota

            Actual Pick: Stephone Anthony, LB, Clemson

Anthony was a great athlete out of Clemson but he couldn’t stay healthy and he was traded off to Miami years later. He is currently out of the league. I thought the Saints would go tight end at the end of the first round. Maxx Williams was highly touted coming out of Minnesota but did very little, being drafted in the 2nd round by Baltimore.

32. New England Patriots

My Pick: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington

            Actual Pick: Malcolm Brown, DT, Texas

Malcom-Brown-Rob-Carr-2It would have been so “Patriots” if they had drafted the troubled Peters coming out of Washington. Controversial young player gets straighten out and learns the championship way from Bill Belichick. It would have been so “them”. Instead, they made the obvious decision and took Brown who should have gone in the top 20. Brown went on to be an anchor on the Patriots defensive line, having apart of two Super Bowl winning defenses. And then, despite having success with him, the Patriots throw him away to New Orleans in a trade and he is still a beast. I still can’t believe Dallas took Byron Jones over him in this draft.

NFL 2019: Week 17 Predictions (Condensed Version)

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Can the “Duck Man” lead Pittsburgh past Baltimore this weekend and into the playoffs? Somehow, I doubt it.

 

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 12-4

Season: 147-92-1

Week 17 Picks

Jets over Bills – Buffalo has already clinched their playoff spot and will be better off resting starters. The Jets could have a 7-win season after starting off 1-7. Not bad.

Browns over Bengals – Cincy is committed to the tank. The Browns could finish with seven wins. I said this about Cleveland back in August, “You have to crawl before you can walk.”

Packers over Lions – I see Detroit playing them tough but Green Bay could be in line for a first round bye in the post season.

Chiefs over Chargers – Kansas City has slim chances to improve their playoff position. But they have also had some bad luck this year when it comes to injuries. They could also rest their regulars.

Bears over Vikings – Minnesota is locked in at the 6 spot in the NFC and they’ve already announced that they will rest key starters.

Patriots over Dolphins – New England, with a win here, would clinch the number two seed in the AFC.

Falcons over Buccaneers – After a bad start, Atlanta has rebounded and saved the jobs of their head coach and general manager. That’s something to be proud of.

Saints over Panthers – New Orleans will need to win this one to avoid playing during Wild-Card Weekend. And what is this I’m hearing about Antonio Brown? Sean Payton, don’t do this. It could be fun. But, just say no.

Giants over Eagles – Philadelphia stinks. I’ll applaud their defense for last week, at least. But still. Not a very good team. Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley will look dynamic.

Washington over Cowboys – The Dallas Cowboys are a complete waste of time. It would be so “on brand” for the Eagles to lose but then Dallas fails to take advantage. I’m looking forward to the “Dallas fires Head Coach Jason Garrett” update scrolling across my screen. Having to watch this team for another week is punishment enough.

Raiders over Broncos – Oakland, despite the injuries, got the win last week and has a chance to sneak into the post season this weekend. Jon Gruden is quietly doing an okay job in Oakland.

Rams over Cardinals – Two teams with nothing to play for. For those watching this one, count how many times the announcers mention the ages of the head coaches.

Colts over Jaguars – Jacksonville is going to have an interesting offseason coming up in 2020.

Ravens over Steelers – Baltimore has the #1 seed locked up in the AFC and will rest their starters. But even with a playoff spot on the line, I don’t see Pittsburgh being successful with their current situation at the QB position.

Titans over Texans – Houston is going about business as usual this week but I’m not falling for it. If Coach Bill O’Brien has a brain, he will undoubtedly rest his starters this week ahead of Wild-Card weekend. Tennessee will be ready to take advantage.

49ers over Seahawks – San Fran has grown since losing to Seattle just weeks ago. Plus, the Seahawks are a bit dinged up. It is a big spot to win on the road in Seattle but I think the 49ers can do it and clinch home field advantage for themselves in the NFC.

NFL 2019: Week 11 Predictions (Condensed Version)

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Do the Browns have any chance at home tonight against the Steelers? Maybe.

 

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 4-9

Season: 82-65-1

Week 11 Picks

Browns over Steelers – Cleveland isn’t a very good football team. But strange things happen in these Thursday night games. Maybe Cleveland’s defense will put out a strong effort at home and Baker Mayfield will avoid making those game changing mistakes against a pretty good Pittsburgh defense. I’m going out on a very, very weak limb here.

Cowboys over Lions – Dallas can’t overlook Detroit because Matt Stafford is out. This is still the team that made Sam Darnold look serviceable. The Cowboys need to completely block out last week’s late game debacle from memory and play to their potential from start to finish.

Jaguars over Colts – Indy started struggling as soon as the injury bug began to creep up. Jacksonville will be looking for a strong performance from the returning Nick Foles.

Bills over Dolphins – Buffalo must stop the bleeding on the road against one of the worst teams in the league that happen to be on a 2 game win streak.

Vikings over Broncos – Minnesota really didn’t do anything special last week in Dallas. They were fortunate because they deserved to lose. Anyways, that was a confidence builder for them going forward. They should be able to take care on Denver at home.

Saints over Buccaneers – New Orleans must be careful here. They struggled to protect Drew Brees last week. Tampa Bay can rush the passer and they can score points. This one could be real competitive until the end.

Jets over Washington – The Jets have at least proven that they can beat the really bad teams. In the NFC East.

Panthers over Falcons – I don’t trust what Atlanta was able to pull off last week but they will win more if that defense shows up more often. This week, they’ll have to find an answer for MVP candidate Christian McCaffrey.

Ravens over Texans – Easily the game of the week here. Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson will put on a show. Houston’s defense might be shaky with absence of J.J. Watt.

49ers over Cardinals – San Fran is a bit banged up on both sides of the ball. Arizona might be able to take advantage.

Raiders over Bengals – Oakland got the win last week at home against the Chargers. Next week, they got the Jets. The Raiders can’t let this opportunity for a winning streak slip thru their hands.

Patriots over Eagles – Philadelphia has played well against New England in recent history for some reason. I think the Pats will be more than ready for them coming off their bye week.

Rams over Bears – Jared Goff is starting to look really shaky and it is costing LA games. The Rams face another good defense this week. They can’t let Mitch Trubisky outplay their QB.

Chiefs over Chargers – Kansas City got their QB back but the defensive issues continued last week. The Chargers played KC well last season and I’m expecting this divisional matchup to be competitive again.

NFL 2019: NFC Preview

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

 

By: Elias McMillan

 

NFC EAST

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

NFC NORTH

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

NFC SOUTH

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

NFC WEST

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

 

NFL 2018: Week 8 Predictions

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Justin Tucker and the Ravens will need to rebound quickly from a terrible loss last week in Carolina

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 10-4

Season: 52-53-2

Big Five Games of the Week

Philadelphia @ Jacksonville – Both of these teams are in a rut and are desperately in need for a win. Jacksonville’s issues on the offensive side of the ball have spread to a defense that is suddenly having issues with getting stops. The way the Eagles’ collapsed last week was a bad look but I believe they are still capable at producing more offensively, at least more than the Jaguars can currently. Philadelphia is banged up on defense so, I wonder if that will create a window for the Jacksonville offense to wake up. The Jaguars may stand if a chance if they can re-establish the run with T.J Yeldon and the newly acquired Carlos Hyde. I think Philadelphia can still prove to be tough defensively despite their injuries and Carson Wentz will be able to produce enough offense to win. Winner: Eagles

Tampa Bay @ Cincinnati – Tampa barely beat Cleveland at home last week and they lost both of their starting LB’s to injuries. Cincinnati has looked bad in the last two week but they’ll have a good chance at bouncing back if they can jump on a weakened opponent. I think Cincinnati’s missing pass rush will show up against Tampa’s offensive line, causing Jameis Winston to make some costly mistakes. Winner: Bengals

Baltimore @ Carolina – Baltimore played well enough to win at home last week but lost on a freak accident. The Ravens are an improved team this season overall but they have had some troubles on the road. They’ll face a tough opponent on Sunday in Carolina. The Panthers showed a lot of heart in their comeback victory on the road last week. I think Cam Newton and his offensive line will face a great challenge in the Ravens defense. Baltimore is much better this season offensively in the passing game. They have receivers that can make plays down field and Carolina’s secondary tends to struggle. I think this is a favorable matchup for Baltimore but I’m not sure if I trust them on the road. I’m also not sure if Carolina is able to pull what they did last week either. I guess, I’ll go with the home team. Winner: Panthers

Green Bay @ LA Rams – The Rams are an offensive machine and the Packers don’t have the defense to slow them down. Aaron Rodgers is capable of keeping up with what the Rams can do on the scoreboard but is his offensive line capable of keeping him away from Aaron Donald? Winner: Rams

New Orleans @ Minnesota – This is a big game for both teams but more so for the Saints. Minnesota has gotten the best of New Orleans in their last two meetings and I would imagine that doesn’t sit well with Drew Brees and his teammates. Good news for them is that Minnesota’s defense has taken a big step backwards since their last meeting. I expect the Saints will be able to take full advantage. New Orleans has their own troubles on the defensive side of the football. But even if Kirk Cousins is able to attack that defense, I think I’ll take Brees in that potential shootout. Winner: Saints

The Rest of Week 8

Texans over Dolphins – Houston is on a winning streak in the suddenly wide-open AFC South. Miami is a banged up team right now.

Bears over Jets – Chicago should easily win if Mitch Trubisky stays away from mistakes.

Lions over Seahawks – Coming off the bye week, I still expect Seattle to be weak on the road.

Chiefs over Broncos – Denver ended their losing streak last week and I remember that they play Kansas City tough in their first meeting this season. But It’s tough to pick against KC right now, especially at home.

Washington over Giants – Yeah, I’m not buying into Washington at all but the Giants have clearly given up on the season.

Steelers over Browns – I think Cleveland will play Pittsburgh tough again, much like their meeting in Week 1. The difference will James Conner’s tough running and Ben Roethlisberger making less mistakes.

Colts over Raiders – I think what has happened to the Raiders this season is sad. But then I remember how the organization is killing their brand soon by leaving Oakland in the first place so then I don’t care.

49ers over Cardinals – I don’t think Arizona is that bad on paper but the effort just isn’t there. I think they are better than San Francisco but the 49ers have shown more fight this season.

Patriots over Bills – Buffalo has been apart of some strange games on Monday night in recent history but taking Derek Anderson over Tom Brady would be a hard sell.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Andy Dalton (Bengals) – Tampa has the worst secondary in the league so why can’t Dalton have big game at home to end the Bengals losing streak at two?

RB: Kareem Hunt (Chiefs) – Denver has struggled against the run mightily this season.

WR: Adam Thielen (Vikings) – Thielen has been a delight to watch this season. He is currently your league leader in receiving yards.

TE: George Kittle (49ers) – Kittle has been the lone consistent target in the passing game for the 49ers.

DEF: Houston – I like the Texans against Brock Osweiler tonight. Miami is down a couple of their better pass catchers.

 

NFL 2017: Mid-Season Report

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At the midway point of the 2017 season, a all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl doesn’t seem like a crazy idea.

By: Elias McMillan

 

We have seen some surprises and disappointments so far this 2017 season. Here’s my list. Also, I had to change my original Super Bowl prediction of Falcons-Raiders from last August.

 

Top 5 Surprising Teams

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (8-1) – The Eagles look right now like the class of the NFC. Their young QB, Carson Wentz, is leading an explosive offensive attack that can create big plays on the ground and thru the air. On defense, the Eagles are strong up front against the run and can get after the QB. Time will tell if this Eagles team is for real or not. They’ve had a cakewalk of a schedule so far this season and they still have remaining games against Dallas, Seattle, and much improved Los Angeles.
  2. New Orleans Saints (6-2) – The Saints are the sleeper team in the NFC South that Tampa Bay was suppose to be this year. QB Drew Brees is still getting the job done despite his age and he is receiving great support from his running backs. Defense has been the main issue in New Orleans for years now but we are seeing a much-improved secondary in 2017.
  3. Los Angeles Rams (6-2) – The Rams has had the individual talent on the roster for a while now. But this year, they are finally putting it together to where they might actually be a playoff team. RB Todd Gurley and DT Aaron Donald continue to be great but that young defense is really beginning to thrive under coordinator Wade Phillips and QB Jared Goff is having a bounce back season after a tough rookie campaign.
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-3) – Jacksonville’s defense has become good enough where it is single handedly winning games for the team. The Jaguars are loaded with talent across the board defensively and they are now witnessing the fruits of their draft labor. If the offense can do just a little more than the minimum, Sacksonville will win the AFC South.
  5. New York Jets (4-5) – The Jets were supposed to win three games this year. At the half waypoint, they have four. You have to give head coach Todd Bowles credit for what he has been able to do with this roster. They are giving maximum effort each week and it shows. The Jets wont make the playoffs this year but I really hope they stick with the coaching brain trust that they currently have.

 

Top 5 Disappointing Teams

  1. Oakland Raiders (4-5) – The Raiders were my Super Bowl pick but they look like a mess right now. The defense has really disappointed and QB Derek Carr isnt getting much from his offensive line. Oakland has enough talent to turn their season around but it doesn’t seem likely.
  2. New York Giants (1-7) – Even before the injuries, the Giants were a mess from Jump Street in 2017. The offense is in crisis mode without Odell Beckham Jr. and it look like they are starting to prepare for life without Eli Manning. I thought New York at least had a promising defense at the beginning of the season but they have also been a massive letdown.
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6) – Tampa was my sleeper in the NFC South. I thought QB Jameis Winston would blossom with all the talent they surrounded him with in the offseason. Instead, Winston and the entire offense have struggled. Tampa also isn’t getting much from their defense either. I wonder who will receive most of the blame at season’s end: the head coach or the QB?
  4. Atlanta Falcons (4-4) – Atlanta is still in the hunt for a playoff berth but they have massively under performed this season. Despite having the talent on both sides of the ball, the offense has yet to find consistency and the defense is not closing out game in the second half. Atlanta will have to start playing with some urgency in the second half of the season.
  5. Arizona Cardinals (4-4) – I had Arizona as a playoff team before the season started. Their struggles can be accounted for different reason. Losing their best player, RB David Johnson, hurt. But to add on to that, they also lose starting QB Carson Palmer. Injuries happen but the real disappointment with this team lies on the defense. OLB Chandler Jones is having a great season as one of the leading pass rushers in the league. But the rest of the defense, especially the secondary, has really let this team down so far this year.

 

Mid Season Awards

MVP: Carson Wentz (QB – Philadelphia) – Wentz has been very impressive so far this year and his team has the best record in football.

Offensive MVP: Tom Brady (QB – New England) – The ageless one continues to lead the league in passing categories. New England remains so confident in him that they traded away his back up.

Defensive MVP: Calais Campbell (DT – Jacksonville) – We have to give someone credit for helping the Jacksonville defense take that next step. Calais Campbell has provided leadership with that group while being on the league leaders in sacks at the halfway point of the season.

My REVISED Pick of Super Bowl 52

In the AFC, I think it is Pittsburgh’s conference to lose. The Steelers have had the best roster in the AFC for some years now but for one reason or another, they haven’t been able to put it together in January. With Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement looming, the Steelers have to get it done this season. New England will meet Pittsburgh again in the playoffs but I think Pittsburgh is able to finally slay their “dragon” this postseason if they are healthy. In the NFC, I see a wide-open field. Everyone loves Philadelphia right now but they have had a cake schedule so far. We will see how good they really are, as we get closer to the postseason. Minnesota could be a sleeper. They have a great defense and Teddy Bridgewater will be returning at QB soon. I’m not sure if I’m ready to take New Orleans seriously yet. In the West, Seattle just dropped two straight at home, which literally never happens. And can’t fully trust the LA Rams with their inconsistent offense. I love the idea of Dallas wrecking stuff as a wildcard in the playoffs but I’m not entirely sure if they will even make the playoffs. Despite their recent struggles and because there was no way I was going to pick the Eagles, I’ll go with Seattle because their defense can still be good when it wants to. REVISED Super Bowl 52 Prediction: Steelers over Seahawks

 

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.