Tag Archives: John Harbaugh

NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round Predictions

Wild Card Round - Buffalo Bills v Houston Texans

The Texans won in Kansas City earlier this season. Can they do it again in the playoffs?

 

By: Elias McMillan

Wild-Card: 2-2

Playoffs: 2-2

Divisional Round

Minnesota @ San Francisco – I was really impressed with the Vikings’ defensive line in their upset victory over New Orleans last weekend. In fact, this divisional round game between the Vikings and 49ers will be heavily influenced by the play at the line of scrimmage. San Francisco has bolstered a pretty dominant unit up front all season and they’ll have a chance to really exert their power in this game. QB Kirk Cousins avoided mistakes last weeks and made some pretty big throws. He will be under pressure again this week but I think past experiences will help him. I think Minnesota’s experiences in the post season will help them on Saturday. Many players on San Francisco will be making their playoff debuts. Everyone usually puts a spotlight on Cousins but I think Jimmy Garoppolo is the QB under the most pressure this weekend. Minnesota’s defense has been inconsistent but if they play like they did in New Orleans, the Vikings will be in this one. RB Dalvin Cook could see plenty of opportunities in this game, which will help Cousins against a top ranked pass defense. The 49ers have taken on all challengers this season but recently, they’ve been able to escape in some close games by the skin of their teeth. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said something this week about the last time they defeated New Orleans in the playoffs and came back the next week and laid a total egg in Philadelphia. That message will be hammered into his team this week and I think it will pay off as they will score the upset and advance to the NFC Championship Game. Prediction: Vikings over 49ers

Tennessee @ Baltimore – Tennessee didn’t have to do much to end the Patriots reign last week. But getting the job done in Foxboro shouldn’t be scoffed at. The Titans have a good thing going right now with the way they can control the clock with RB Derrick Henry which in return sets up the league’s highest rated passer, Ryan Tannehill. That formula will have to work overtime this week, as the Titans will face the league’s top offense in the Baltimore Ravens. League MVP Lamar Jackson should be fresh coming off the bye and his offense will be able to attack the Titans defense in a way that New England couldn’t do last week.  This game will be all about which offense can control the clock as both teams feature highly successful running games. I think the difference will be which offense can produce more big plays down the field. The Titans cannot sleep on what Lamar Jackson’s arm can do. Also, you have to consider that Jackson has a talent group of skill players on offense to go to. I have a feeling that Tennessee might be able to keep this one close to start but eventually Jackson and Ravens will overwhelm them. Prediction: Ravens over Titans

Houston @ Kansas City – The Texans pulled off a great comeback in the Wild Card round against Buffalo. I don’t think they can afford another slow start this weekend, as they’ll visit the Chiefs in Kansas City. Houston showed against Buffalo that when pressed, their biggest stars can make game altering plays. On offense, QB Deshaun Watson proved his worth during crunch time and on defense, it was J.J. Watt who provided the spark. The Chiefs are a team that can apply pressure for all 4 quarters, offensively and defensively. QB Patrick Mahomes and his fast break offense should be able to stretch the field against the Texans defense. Kansas City isn’t a great defensive team but they do have an active front four along with a tough secondary. The Chiefs have had problems with injuries this season and it is something that they will have to continue to avoid during this post season run. If the offensive weapons are rested and healthy, Houston is going to have a tough time keeping them off the scoreboard. Houston defeated KC earlier this season and I’m sure the home team hasn’t forgotten about that. Unlike that game in Week 6, the Chiefs will need to get off on a fast start and keep the Texans offense on the bench. Prediction: Chiefs over Texans

Seattle @ Green Bay – This game will be pretty to look at. A cold and snowy Lambeau Field will set the scene for two teams that are usually mainstays in the NFC playoffs. Seattle was able to get by a wounded Eagles team last week and they didn’t earn any style points with that victory. With better QB play, Philadelphia might have been able to pull that one out. Seattle is currently having issues with scoring touchdowns, which may have to do with their injury situation. It’s cool that RB Marshawn Lynch is back but even he admits that he is not in game shape. QB Russell Wilson will have to do the heavy lifting for this Seahawks offense but how is that different from any other season? Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is used to putting the team on his back as well but this season, his supporting cast isn’t that bad. In this cold weather game, I’m expecting big things out of RB’s Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. I think the Packers running game will have a huge affect on the outcome in this one and it will allow Aaron Rodgers to control the clock and take some big shots down the field. Seattle’s defense is talented but they really got off easy last week. If their front four can’t get in the face of Rodgers, it could be a long, cold night for that unit. I’ve been mostly unimpressed with the Packers this season but I think they matchup well against Seattle. Russell Wilson has never won in Green Bay and on Sunday, the Packers will set the scene for a NFC North Championship game for the conference title and a Super Bowl berth. Prediction: Packers over Seahawks

 

 

NFL 2017: Week 17 Predictions! (Condensed)

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints

Matt Ryan and the Falcons are looking to clinch a spot in the postseason on Sunday against the Panthers.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 12-4

Season: 142-96

Week 17 Predictions

Lions over Packers – As Green Bay has already shut down for 2017, Detroit has slim playoff hopes.

Colts over Texans – I’m not giving Houston much of a shot without DeAndre Hopkins. I’m looking for Indy to give head coach Chuck Pagano a good send off.

Bears over Vikings – Minnesota cant catch Philly for home field in the NFC and the NFC South champ is locked in on the third seed. With no motivation for the Viks, Chicago will give a good effort on the road for John Fox? I’m not even sure on that one.

Patriots over Jets – New England’s goal is to wrap up home field in the AFC by half time in order to give the starters some rest.

Washington over Giants – So much turmoil in that Giants locker room. Can they keep it together to give Eli Manning a proper home send off? I doubt it. Kirk Cousins might be auditioning for the Giants in this game.

Eagles over Cowboys – Philly has nothing to play for but luckily for them, the 8-8 Cowboys are back.

Steelers over Browns – I wondering if all the James Harrison talk all week has over shadowed Pittsburgh’s actual opponent this week. Pittsburgh is even seceding the AFC to New England assuming that they will smash the Jets. I find this strange. Strange things could happen here with the Steelers “B team” but I’m not brave enough to pick Cleveland to stop the “perfect season”.

Falcons over Panthers – I think Carolina is the better team but Atlanta has more to play for and they are at home. Carolina has already clinched a playoff spot.

Chiefs over Broncos – Alex Smith won’t play in this meaningless game but Kansas City will still be able to amount more offense than Denver.

Jaguars over Titans – Tennessee embarrassed Jacksonville in their first meeting this season. The Jags are a different team now and I’m sure that they haven’t forgot about that earlier loss. Tennessee has been treading downward for weeks now.

49ers over Rams – The Rams will be resting most of their starters. San Fran looks like they have a future now thanks to acquisition of Jimmy Garoppolo.

Dolphins over Bills – Miami’s defense has responded well at home this season. They gut out a tough one on Sunday keeping Buffalo from the playoffs.

Chargers over Raiders – With the Titans losing, the Chargers will gladly sneak in the playoffs with a win over Oakland. We’ll have both LA teams in the postseason. How weird.

Cardinals over Seahawks – Seattle’s structure is crumbling. Arizona will deliver a crushing blow to their playoff chances on Sunday.

Saints over Buccaneers – New Orleans still has to clinch NFC South with Carolina breathing down their backs.

Ravens over Bengals – This will be a fitting end to the Marvin Lewis era in Cincy.

NFL 2015: Mid-Season Report

panthers_01

At the mid-season mark, what’s not to like about this Carolina Panthers squad?

By: Elias McMillan

Now that every team has played at least 8 games, here are my top 5 surprises and disappointments in this 2015 NFL Season. Also, I have mid-season awards and a REVISED prediction for Super Bowl 50.

Top Five Surprising Teams

  1. Carolina Panthers (8-0) – Before the season started, I believed that the Panthers could still repeat as NFC South champions this season. But I couldn’t imagine them being without a loss at the half point of the season. I had no doubts that the defense in Carolina would be very good but I thought that the lack of offensive weapons would have kept them from being serious title contenders this year. But the offense, led by Cam Newton, has done just enough to win games and beat some of the better teams in the NFC. Carolina looks like they’ll have a clear path to home field advantage in this season’s playoffs.
  2. Cincinnati Bengals (8-0) – I thought that the Bengals would take a serious step back before the season started. Cincinnati has a lot of talent but I thought because of past failures, they wouldn’t be able to put it all together for one more playoff run. Instead, Cincy has improved play on their defensive line and the offense is still able to strike quickly and often. The Bengals look to be a lock to make the playoffs again but time will tell if they will actually be able to advance pass the first round this time around.
  3. New York Jets (5-3) – The Jets were supposed to stink this year. Instead, new head coach Todd Bowles has reenergized the team and they are now sitting in second place in the AFC East. There was a lot of hype surrounding Buffalo and Miami before the season started but the Jets have successfully risen up from behind the radar. The strength behind this Jets team has been the defensive front seven and the return of their power running game behind RB Chris Ivory. The Jets will have a tough road in the second half of the season but they might actually have a good chance at returning to the playoffs.
  4. Atlanta Falcons (6-3) – Atlanta was an early season surprise before they started to cool down significantly recently. Atlanta’s defense was playing way above expectations and RB Devonta Freeman was the breakout star on this offense. Atlanta has started to fall back to earth but they still might be able to ride their big play offense into the playoffs. They still have two games left on the schedule against the division leading Panthers.
  5. New England Patriots (8-0) – Yea, I know that the undefeated Patriots aren’t that big of a surprise but I didn’t think they would be this good of a team because of all their losses on the defensive side of the ball. Tom Brady hasn’t missed a game this season and the Patriots offense is the usual machine that it has always been. But for whatever reason, the defense hasn’t let down like I thought they would. The Patriots actually rank third in the league in rush defense.

Top Five Disappointing Teams

  1. Baltimore Ravens (2-6) – I had the Ravens competing for the AFC North title this season. A lot of people have been saying that the turning point of this season for the Ravens was when Terrell Suggs was lost due to injury. I think the bigger loss happened before the season when Baltimore traded away Haloti Ngata. Baltimore’s defense has regressed this season and the offense hasn’t been able to put it together. Joe Flacco has regressed and his receivers have been dropping like flies. This has been a truly lost season for John Harbaugh.
  2. Indianapolis Colts (4-5) – I realize that the Colts will still probably win the AFC South but there are an under .500 team and I had them winning it all before the season started. The Colts have severely under performed this season from the head coach, to the QB, and to the defense. The Colts are fortunate to be in the AFC South but they wont be the title contenders that I thought they would be at the start of the season.
  3. Miami Dolphins (3-5) – At the start of the season, I said that the Dolphins had “underachiever” written all over them. And for the most part, I was right. The defense has really let the entire team down and Ryan Tannehill isnt having the breakout season that we all thought he would be having. Good news is that they at least fired that stiff of a head coach. I hope Dan Campbell can turn it around and the Dolphins can finish off the season respectfully.
  4. Dallas Cowboys (2-6) – The Cowboys season has been completely wreck due to injuries but they still belong on this list. When Tony Romo went down, the belief was there that they had the talent to at least tread water until he returns. Instead, the Cowboys have lost 6 straight without Romo. The plan at backup QB has been a disaster, as well as the plan to replace DeMarco Murray. Whats even more disappointing is that the defense is even under performing. Because the NFC East stinks, Dallas literally has one more chance to maybe save the season this Sunday in Tampa. It’s a slim chance but a chance nonetheless.
  5. Detroit Lions (1-7) – With all the losses on the defensive line, I knew that Detroit would take a step back in 2015. But I didn’t think it would be this bad. Despite all of the talent of the offensive side of the ball and the additions to the offensive line, Detroit has completely flew off the handle and now, wholesale changes are on the horizon.

Mid-Season Awards

MVP: Tom Brady (QB – Patriots) – New England is probably the best team in the AFC and it’s because of the play of their QB. Brady has returned with a vengeance and is showing no signs of slowing down. I don’t think of his play as much as a “revenge tour” though that is a cool idea. But Brady has been what he has always been, a future Hall of Famer with a killer instinct. In the offseason, the AFC East teams stacked their defensive lines in order to stop Brady. Nothing has worked as of yet.

Offensive MVP: Antonio Brown (WR – Steelers) – I’m still kind of in awe of the game that Brown had a couple days ago. With Le’Veon Bell out, Brown will be the engine that will keep the Pittsburgh offense going into the post-season. No one on the league works harder than Brown and his numbers reflect that.

Defensive MVP: Charles Woodson (S – Raiders) – Woodson is having a renaissance of a season in 2015. He leads the league in interceptions and is a reason for Oakland’s recent turn around.

My REVISED Prediction for Super Bowl 50

In the NFC, I don’t see my preseason pick, Seattle, making it out. They might still eventually win the NFC West but they don’t look like the same team they were last season. The offensive line play and the unpredictability of Russell Wilson will probably cost them in the playoffs. Green Bay is a contender but I don’t trust their defense or their offensive line. Carolina maybe beatable because of their inexperience but they are clearly the lone stand out in the conference. In the AFC, I had the Colts coming out of the conference and winning it all. They probably wont happen though the Colts will win their division. Pittsburgh has so much freaking talent. I mean, how else are they still winning ball games with all the injuries they have. Pittsburgh’s defense isn’t getting enough credit but they still have significant weaknesses in the secondary. Roethlisberger may get healthy again but I’m not sure if I can trust them in playoffs especially if they cant catch the Bengals. Thinking of the Bengals, they might be sitting pretty in the AFC when its all set and done. I think it will come down to Cincinnati and New England in the AFC. And Cincy might stand a good chance if their defensive line and bother Tom Brady. The closer will be the fact that I don’t trust Andy Dalton at all in the post season. Remember the run that Joe Flacco had in his Super Bowl season? Do you think Dalton has that in him? I don’t. You can’t also forget about the Broncos. Denver has the best defense in football but the inconsistencies of offense might keep them from making the Super Bowl. New England is beatable, much like last season. But if they can overcome the defenses of Cincinnati and Denver, they will back their way into yet another Super Bowl appearance. REVISED Super Bowl 50 Prediction: Panthers over Patriots