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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

 

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NFL 2018: Week 17 Predictions

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All eyes on Sunday will be on Cleveland’s rookie QB, Baker Mayfield.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 11-5

Season: 138-100-2

Week 17 Picks

Bills over Dolphins – Buffalo gives DT Kyle Williams a hero’s send off into retirement.

Packers over Lions – This meaningless game will be highlighted by Aaron Rodgers, I guess.

Patriots over Jets – New England still needs to lock up that first round bye in the playoffs. They’ll put their best foot forward against a competitive Jets team.

Saints over Panthers – Teddy Bridgewater will hope to have a strong game as he auditions for a potential job elsewhere.

Giants over Cowboys – Dallas can’t improve their seeding in the NFC. I think New York will win it late against the Cowboys’ backups.

Falcons over Buccaneers – Atlanta’s defense will strive against a Tampa Bay offense that turns over the ball too much.

Texans over Jaguars – Houston is still in play for a potential bye in the post season.

Chargers over Broncos – LA was bullied last week. They’ll need a strong performance this week to put that Baltimore loss in the past. Also, the AFC West crown is still up for grabs.

Chiefs over Raiders – KC needs this one to lock up the AFC West in what could be a high scoring affair.

Rams over 49ers – No Todd Gurley worries me for LA. San Francisco has played decently at times late this season. I still like LA in this match up but don’t be surprised if the Niners make things interesting.

Vikings over Bears – I thought Minnesota would falter on the road last week. This week, I think they’ll clinch the final playoff spot in the NFC. Minnesota has been a stronger team at home. Chicago may want to knock Minnesota out this Sunday but they might be better off facing a familiar opponent in the wildcard round.

Steelers over Bengals – Pittsburgh needs help to get into the playoffs but in terms of this week’s game, they should roll against the 2ndstring of the Bengals.

Seahawks over Cardinals – Seattle may rest their starters but that may not even matter. Arizona will lock up the first overall pick in next April’s draft.

Eagles over Washington – The way Philadelphia has rallied behind Nick Foles is reminiscent of last season. Too bad they won’t make the post season.

Ravens over Browns – Baltimore has only lost once since their bye week. If the Ravens defense shows up like they did last week, Bayer Mayfield will be in for a world of hurt.

Colts over Titans – With the final playoff spot in the AFC on the line, I’m going with the healthiest team. Marcus Mariota will try to give it a go on Sunday but I doubt that he’ll be able to play the entire 60 minutes. I like Andrew Luck and the Colts on the road.

NFL 2018: Week 16 Predictions (Condensed Version)

Los Angeles Chargers v Denver Broncos

The Chargers could find themselves on top the AFC West after this weekend.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 9-7

Season: 127-95-2

Week 16 Picks

Titans over Washington – Jacksonville gifted Washington a victory last week on a late turnover. Tennessee will not blow this opportunity as they still have post-season hopes.

Chargers over Ravens – This should be a really good game. Both defenses will make a lot of plays but I think the difference will be Phillip Rivers. It will also help that Melvin Gordon may be returning from his injury.

Browns over Bengals – Baker Mayfield gets another chance to stick it to his former head coach, Hue Jackson.

Cowboys over Buccaneers – After no showing last week, Dallas absolutely needs this one to clinch the division once and for all. They can not sleep on this Tampa team which offers a high scoring offense and quality players on their defensive line.

Lions over Vikings – Minnesota has been so inconsistent this year. I think those issues will pop up once again on the road.

Colts over Giants – Indy’s defense is playing at a high level right now.

Dolphins over Jaguars – Jacksonville has already checked out mentally this season. Miami has slim playoff hopes but they’ll play their best at home.

Patriots over Bills – New England is going through some issues but they’ll right the ship at home against Buffalo.

Jets over Packers – I don’t think Green Bay has won a road game all year.

Eagles over Texans – I don’t think Houston is as good as their record is. Philly is a wounded animal but they believe that still have a shot at the post season and they will rally around Nick Foles at home.

Falcons over Panthers – Carolina’s collapse this season has been unbelievable.

Rams over Cardinals – I wouldn’t panic yet about how Jared Goff has looked recently. A loss here against a bad Arizona team wouldn’t help though.

Bears over 49ers – San Francisco has played great a home recently but I think Chicago will get it done on the road by the strength of their defense.

Saints over Steelers – New Orleans’ defense didn’t start the season great but they are now hitting their stride at the right time. I like Brees to outduel Roethlisberger in what could be a high scoring contest.

Seahawks over Chiefs – After a bad loss on the road, I think we’ll see Seattle bounce back at home this week.

Broncos over Raiders – The only reason to watch this game is to see what the fans of Oakland will destroy in the stands.

NFL 2018: Week 13 Predictions

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Michael Thomas and the Saints have won 10 straight. They’ll look to make it 11 tonight.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 14-1

Season: 99-75-2

Big Five Games of the Week

New Orleans @ Dallas – The Saints haven’t looked back since their Week 1 loss. They’ve been able to pull off 10 straight victories while looking like the team to beat in the NFC. The Cowboys looked dead in the water a month ago. Now, they are winners of three straight and are suddenly in the driver’s seat in the NFC East. I don’t think Dallas is in the same class as New Orleans this season but I think they’ll at least have a fighting chance tonight against them at home. The Cowboys have a tough defense that will be put to the test tonight by the passing attack of Drew Brees. New Orleans has been able to hide their defense with what they are able to do offensively but are lacking a bit in their secondary. I don’t think Dak Prescott is going to be able to beat them with his arm though. The Cowboys will have to control the clock and let Ezekiel Elliott dictate the pace of the game. The Cowboys offensive line is still banged up and the Saints have the talent up front to possibly give them plenty of problems tonight. I think Dallas will keep it competitive at the least but the Saints should prove to be better. Winner: Saints

Baltimore @ Atlanta – The Falcons are on the verge of packing it in this season. Baltimore has a defense capable of winning games for them but currently they are receiving great support from the other side of the ball. Rookie QB Lamar Jackson is still learning on the job but he has led this offense during two straight victories. Atlanta is the team that needs this win more on Sunday but Baltimore is playing better right now. Winner: Ravens

Minnesota @ New England – Minnesota has been pretty average this season. They are able to show flashes of greatness on both sides of the ball but they don’t look like the team from last year. New England has once again sleep walked to the top of their division but now its their time to start playing well to prepare for bigger challenges down the road. I think the Vikings best chance to win this one on the road is to unleash that pass rush onto Tom Brady. New England’s offense is getting healthy at the right time with the return of TE Rob Gronkowski and RB Rex Burkhead. Thinking of the RB position, the Patriots look like they may have a legit run game this year with the emergence of rookie RB Sony Michel. As usual, New England has a very beatable defense but Kirk Cousins has been on the wrong end of some mistakes recently. I’ll take the Pats at home. Winner: Patriots

LA Chargers @ Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh hasn’t been sharp in a few weeks so last week’s loss in Denver wasn’t all that surprising. The Chargers were able to respond from a loss against Denver last week. They looked really impressive against Arizona especially offensively. QB Phillip Rivers is coming off one of his best games as a pro and he’ll look to keep that momentum going this Sunday in Pittsburgh. I think Rivers will be able to attack this Steelers defense through the air with much success if he is able to have time in the pocket. Pittsburgh’s ability to get to the QB could be a determining factor in this game. The Chargers defense has been inconsistent this season but they are getting healthy at the right time. The Steelers have so many weapons on offense and I think Chargers will have their hands full trying to account for them all. A great performance at home from the QB (Roethlisberger) will make last week’s mistakes a distant memory. Winner: Steelers

Washington @ Philadelphia – Huge game for both teams. This is pretty much an elimination game for Philadelphia. The Eagles looked like they could have dropped last week against the Giants but they were able to fight back for a late victory. The Eagles are just not playing well right now and the injuries are starting to pile up on defense. Washington is still capable, I think, to play well defensively but I don’t know if they can get enough from their offense with Colt McCoy behind center. The Eagles are going to need QB Carson Wentz to raise the level of his offense on Monday night and provide some big plays against a tough Washington defense. If not, this one could get ugly quick. Winner: Eagles

The Rest of Week 13

Broncos over Bengals – Denver has won two straight and have a favorable schedule down the stretch. Cincinnati is packing it in with Andy Dalton out.

Rams over Lions – LA should be well rested for this one.

Packers over Cardinals – Arizona is bad and Green Bay is undefeated at home.

Dolphins over Bills – Ryan Tannehill played decent last week.

Bears over Giants – I’m worried about the Mitch Trubisky injury.

Panthers over Buccaneers – Carolina has lost three straight so they need this one to stay in the playoff race.

Colts over Jaguars – Indy’s chances for the post season are starting to look better each week.

Texans over Browns – Houston can’t lose and they also have a favorable schedule down the stretch.

Titans over Jets – Tennessee has slim playoff hopes and they fight Sunday to keep them alive at home.

Chiefs over Raiders – The most important thing here for Kansas City is to stay healthy.

Seahawks over 49ers – Seattle should roll at home.

 

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Deshaun Watson (Texans) – Watson’s big play ability should be in full display against the Cleveland secondary.

RB: Phillip Lindsay (Broncos) – Denver’s running game should have a field day against Cincinnati.

WR: Tyreek Hill (Chiefs) – Hill will run circles around Oakland’s secondary.

TE: Jordan Reed (Washington) – Washington is going to need big plays in the passing game to beat Philadelphia. Reed should get plenty of looks.

DEF: Indianapolis – The state of Jacksonville’s offense should allow Indy’s defense to strive on Sunday.

NFL 2018: Week 7 Predictions

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I believe this week’s game in Washington D.C. will say a lot about the leadership of Dallas Head Coach Jason Garrett

 

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 5-10

Season: 42-49-2

Big Five Games of the Week

New England @ Chicago – The Bears had a promising start to this season; sphere headed by the trade for Khalil Mack. While he has improved Chicago’s defense, that same unit completely “no-showed” last week in Miami. That doesn’t bode well for the Bears with New England coming to town. The Patriots offense looked impressive last week outscoring one of the hottest offenses in the league last week. If Chicago doesn’t fix their secondary, Tom Brady will have a field day. Another thing that hurt the Bears last week was the play of QB Mitch Trubisky. Trubisky can be a capable QB in this league but he has been real inconsistent and can make some poor decisions from time to time. He will need to stay away from that against a Patriots defense that isn’t really strong. Winner: Patriots

Carolina @ Philadelphia – Both of these teams have been inconsistent this season. Carolina’s lack of a pass rush on defense is starting to rear its head. If they can’t pressure Wentz on Sunday, the Eagles will have opportunities for some big plays down the field. Carolina is also lacking explosiveness and they’ll be facing a usually tough Eagles defense. I don’t trust any NFC East team right now but for this matchup, I’ll side with the better defense. Winner: Eagles

New Orleans @ Baltimore – The Ravens have taken their fans on quite a ride so far this season. Off the high of beating Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, you lose in Cleveland and then you shut out Tennessee the week after. Will the real Baltimore Ravens please stand up? Baltimore’s defense has been impressive this season but they’ll face a great test in the Saints this week. New Orleans will be able to attack Baltimore through the air and on the ground. Baltimore’s offense may be able to find success on Sunday as well as New Orleans’ defense seems to have taken a step back this season. The Saints have had their moments this year where they haven’t looked like the contender that everyone thinks that they are. Baltimore can be a tough team at home but I’m also worried about their inconsistency. Winner: Saints

Dallas @ Washington – Again, I don’t trust any team in the NFC East. Except for the Giants. I can at least trust them to lose. I want to say that Washington has improved this season but that is still up in the air. Their biggest problem last season was their run defense and this season, you can see their young additions to the defensive line improve that unit. But Washington is still lacking in the middle at LB and in the secondary. QB Alex Smith has looked serviceable this season but he can have games that are completely underwhelming. Washington’s run game has received an unexpected boost from veteran RB Adrian Peterson but can we expect that to last for an entire season? The Cowboys have been frustrating to watch this season for the most part because of their offense. Their blowout victory over Jacksonville last week says more about the state of the Jaguars than the Cowboys finally figuring things out. I don’t trust the passing game at all and I don’t trust the play calling to maximize what they have a RB in Ezekiel Elliott. Dallas has improved this year defensively but they still suffer from a lack of big plays in the secondary (Turnovers). Dallas has not won on the road at all this season while Washington is sporting a 2-1 record at home. I think this game on Sunday is all on Dallas Head Coach Jason Garrett. The win over Jacksonville last week has not cooled all of his critics. Under Garrett, the Cowboys have had seasons where they have been tough on the road. I think Coach Garrett has to really get into his teams head going into this game and will his players into gutting out a huge victory. Again, I don’t trust many things about this Cowboys team but with the bye week coming up and first place in the division on the line, I think Dallas will really want this one more. Winner: Cowboys

Cincinnati @ Kansas City – I think Kansas City should be able to completely torch the Bengals defense in this matchup. The Chiefs have their own issues defensively but Andy Dalton is not Tom Brady. Arrowhead Stadium will prove once again to be a tough venue for the road team in this prime time game. Winner: Chiefs

The Rest of Week 7

Broncos over Cardinals – Von Miller said this week that his team was going to “kick Arizona’s ass”. I believe him. Plus, I love the ads that he does with Old Spice.

Chargers over Titans – The Chargers showed a pulse last week. Tennessee did not. Did I mention that I hate this game being played in London?

Colts over Bills – Indy’s will not face the Peter man but they can’t lose to a QB who has been tasked with learning the playbook in less than 10 days.

Dolphins over Lions – Bring on Brockober!

Vikings over Jets – I’m not too confident on this one. Minnesota’s defense will try to hand this game to the Jets.

Buccaneers over Browns – Are the Browns back to being the Browns? I think Tampa’s offense is ready to resemble to the unit they had earlier this season.

Jaguars over Texans – Jacksonville is in a rut but Houston is really bad.

Rams over 49ers – I admire San Francisco’s fight but the Rams should crush them.

Falcons over Giants – Atlanta does not want to be in the NFC South basement this year. They better knock off the teams they should beat like the one they will face on Monday night.

Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) – Cincinnati gives up a lot in the passing game. Mahomes should be able to take full advantage.

RB: Frank Gore/Keenan Drake (Dolphins) – Detroit is not stout against the run this year.

WR: DeAndre Hopkins (Texans) – Hopkins has been the only saving grace for the Texans this season.

TE: Eric Ebron (Colts) – Ebron has caught a touchdown every week this year.

DEF: Denver – The Broncos will face the worst offense in the league on Thursday in Arizona.

NFL 2017: Week 13 Predictions!

Kirk Cousins

Washington’s Kirk Cousins could have a hand in effectively ending the 2017 Cowboys season in Jerry World on Thursday night.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 10-6

Season: 106-70

Big Five Games of the Week

Washington @ Dallas – The Cowboys look awful. The offense looks on empty without Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott and passing game have been abysmal, and the defense can’t pressure QB’s or get stops. I don’t know what the Cowboys can do to get out of this rut. A lot of people are pointing their fingers at the head coach and the failure to make halftime adjustments. I say, the quarterback and the star wide receiver (Dez Bryant) need to get back on track. I also say, the defensive line that has disappeared in the last three games needs to show up. Washington hasn’t made excuses this season. They have battled through injuries. They’ve lost a few games short handed but you can tell that they are at least competing. Kirk Cousins may not be great but he’ll carve up this Dallas defense if they don’t figure it out on Thursday night. Washington’s defense may not be at 100% but they still have enough talent to force Dallas to trip over themselves like they have been during this three game stretch. Loser of this game can forget about making a run to the postseason. Dallas has their backs against the wall and they are at home. But I’m not feeling the effort on the defensive side of the ball. I think Dak Prescott can bounce back but without a solid run game, will it be enough. Jason Garrett has received a vote of confidence from Jerry Jones this week. Do I think he understands this pressure situation facing his team on Thursday night? I doubt it. Prediction: Washington 21 – Cowboys 16

Minnesota @ Atlanta – Minnesota is in cruise control right now. What’s crazy is that they are doing this with their third string quarterback. Plus, they lost their best running back to injury in the beginning of the season. Head Coach Mike Zimmer deserves a ton of credit. The Vikings defense does as well. Beating Atlanta on the road could be a tough task. The Falcons have been inconsistent this year but they are starting to string together some wins. RB Devonta Freeman could return from injury this week so their running game might receive a boost. Minnesota is pretty tough against the run though. WR Julio Jones is coming off a monster game last week but he’ll face a talented Minnesota secondary this week. Minnesota has two things that usually travel well on a football team: defense and a running game. I like the Vikings train to keep rolling this week. Prediction: Vikings 23 – Falcons 20

New England @ Buffalo – The Bills are very much in the conversation for the final playoff spot in the AFC. Maybe. I mean, its great that QB Tyrod Taylor is back at QB. But I don’t trust Buffalo’s defense at all. They were able to limit Alex Smith last week. Ton Brady might be a completely different story. Brady has historically ripped Buffalo in Buffalo throughout his career. Patriots are on a pretty good roll right now and I feel like it’s been a minute since they’ve faced any type of adversity. I think on the road at Buffalo could be perfect storm for a random upset. I don’t think much of the Patriots defense. I would like to see LeSean McCoy control the clock for the Bills on the ground. And maybe Bills front four can pressure Brady into some uncharacteristic mistakes. Going out on a limb here but Buffalo needs this one. Prediction: Bills 31 – Patriots 29

Carolina @ New Orleans – The Saints suffered a major let down on the road last week in LA. New Orleans’ defense has been much improved this season but they are starting to go through some wear and tear with the injuries. Drew Brees is still Drew Brees but the Saints offense faced a tough defense last week and they will again at home this week against Carolina. Carolina is in the process of recreating the magic they had as a team in 2015. The Panthers defense is playing well. I’m still worried about Cam Newton. His numbers have been awful but the key for him is to just stay away from the turnovers. Newton will have to be extra careful this week against an aggressive Saints secondary that causes multiple turnovers each week. I think the Panthers defense will do its job but it will be the New Orleans defense that will force some turnovers at home in a key NFC South matchup. Prediction: Saints 24 – Panthers 18

Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati – The Steelers may not have been extra impressive last week but they got the win. Pittsburgh knows that they have an offense right now that will allow them to compete for a championship this upcoming January. Right now, that Steelers defense is looking a bit shaky. Last week, Brett Hundley ripped the Steelers secondary, repeatedly. I can say with confidence that Andy Dalton will not be able to do the same. The Bengals have won a couple in a row and they are very much in the discussion for that final AFC playoff spot. Rookie RB Joe Mixon is coming off his best performance. And the Cincinnati defense always seems to come with a little “extra” when it comes to facing the Steelers. Unfortunately, you have to worry about LB Vontaze Burfict doing something mindless that might cost the Bengals. It’s going to be a crazy atmosphere in Cincinnati on Monday night. I think the Steelers will show up to this game but weird things can happen in these divisional rivalries. I’m going out on a limb once more this week and taking the Bengals at home to get the upset. Prediction: Bengals 34 – Steelers 33

The Rest of Week 13

Bears over 49ers – Jimmy Garoppolo will start for San Fran. This game will be 60 minutes of garbage time but both teams will offer two young signal callers against two young up and coming defenses.

Packers over Buccaneers – Jameis Winston will return this one. Brett Hundley gotta feel confident after last week. Tampa’s secondary will help him out at home.

Titans over Texans – Tennessee needs this to keep pace with Jacksonville.

Dolphins over Broncos – Awful QB play in this one. Kaepernick. Kaepernick. Kaepernick. Kaepernick. Kaepernick. Kaepernick. Kaepernick. Kaepernick. Kaepernick. Kaepernick. Kaepernick. Kaepernick. Kaepernick. Kaepernick.

Jets over Chiefs – The race in the AFC West is officially on. Kansas City is falling apart. The Jets are bad but they bring it every week.

Jaguars over Colts – I like Chuck Pagano but it looks like he is on his way out.

Lions over Ravens – Detroit has to let the superior QB play on their side win this one for them at home. Baltimore’s defense at home will be tough though.

Chargers over Browns – It will be interesting to see Josh Gordon’s impact in this game. Phillip Rivers and the Chargers are peaking at the right time.

Raiders over Giants – I love all these crocodile tears for Eli Manning. He’s been stinking up the joint on a bad team and has really been average his entire career. He can kick rocks all the way to retirement for all I care. Oakland stinks this year but they’ll roll in this one.

Cardinals over Rams – After their best win of the season last week, I can see a letdown coming for the Rams this week in the form of Arizona who is usually a tough out at home.

Eagles over Seahawks – Seattle is a shell of its former self. Philadelphia will be unopposed until the playoffs. Which probably is a bad thing for them.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Brett Hundley (Packers) – He isn’t Aaron Rodgers but he played well on the road last week and is facing a weak secondary at home this week.

RB: Jordan Howard (Bears) – Howard had an awful showing last week against the best run defense in the league (Philadelphia). This week, he’ll face one of the worst run defenses in the league.

WR: Amari Cooper (Raiders) – With no Michael Crabtree, Cooper might receive extra targets this week against a weak Giants secondary.

TE: Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Jets) – Seferian-Jenkins is getting a decent amount of targets right now.

DEF: Jacksonville – It seems like the Jaguars defense makes a game changing play each week. Last week, they got one in the form of a fumble recovery for a touchdown but they still ended up losing. Maybe they have better luck this week against a Colts offense that ranks near the bottom of the league.

 

NFL 2016: Week 12 Predictions!

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Detroit Lions

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

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 10-4

Season: 97-62-2

Big Five Games of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

The Rest of Week 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 12 Fantasy Football Picks

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

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

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

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

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