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NFL Playoffs: Super Bowl LI Prediction!

Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LI Halftime Show Press Conference

“I’ve got a hundred million reasons to walk awaaaaaaaaaaaaay….”

 

By: Elias McMillan

Conference Championships: 0-2

Playoffs: 4-6

Super Bowl 51 from NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas

New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons

Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, or Lady Gaga as you may know her, has had a long road to music super stardom. Early in her life, music was a huge part of who she was and who she eventually wanted to be. She began to play the piano at the young age of four and was playing open mics around NYC by the time she was 14. At 17, she was allowed early admission into the top school for the arts at NYU. Two years later, she dropped out of NYU to focus on finding her sound as a professional musician. After creating a cult like following in the NYC Underground music scene, she was signed and then quickly dropped from Def Jam. The experience was heartbreaking but it encouraged her to begin experimenting further with her sound as a performer and with her overall image. Soon after, she found herself on an imprint of Interscope Records where R&B superstar, Akon, recognized her abilities and featured her vocals on one of his albums. Akon then told Interscope executives that Gaga had the potential to be a “franchise player” and a year later, her debut album began production.

“The Fame” debuted in August of 2008 and included mega dance-pop hits like Just “Dance”, “Poker Face”, “LoveGame”, & “Paparazzi”. The debut was a monster success for Gaga who went on to win multiple awards at the Grammys. “The Fame” was named one of the 100 Greatest Debut Albums by Rolling Stone magazine. A year later, “The Fame” was reissued as “The Fame Monster” and included new hits like “Bad Romance” & “Telephone” featuring Beyoncé.

Gaga’s official second LP was “Born This Way” and it proved to be an excellent follow up to her debut. The electric rock & techno influenced record continued Gaga’s streak of massive hits with songs like the title single “Born This Way”, and “The Edge of Glory”.

Gaga’s third studio album “ArtPop” featured hits “Applause” and “Do What U Want” featuring R. Kelly but was considered lackluster by many music critics. Soon after that release, she left her long time manager and began a new chapter to her career. She collaborated with long time friend and music legend Tony Bennett and released “Cheek to Cheek”. The joint album reintroduced Bennett to a younger audience and was received well by critics, winning at the Grammys that year.

After exploring some ventures in front of the camera as an actress, Gaga returned with a brand new album last October. “Joanne” was released as a much softer version of Gaga’s previous’ works but still featured her incredible vocal ability and her unique sound that creates hit records. Singles “Perfect Illusion” and “Million Reasons” have already shot to the top of the charts and now, Gaga is preparing for her biggest and greatest stage yet, the Super Bowl 51 halftime show.

Prediction: Patriots 34 – Falcons 24

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NFL Playoffs: 2017 Conference Championship Sunday Predictions!

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Super Steelers? It does appear that way.

 

By: Elias McMillan

 

Divisional Round: 2-2

Playoffs: 4-4

Conference Championship Sunday

NFC Championship Game

Green Bay @ Atlanta – The Packers and the Falcons will be riding their high-powered offenses into Championship Sunday. I’m not giving either defenses much of a chance at being the difference makers in this contest. Atlanta’s offense is a lot more balanced that Green Bay’s. The Falcons have a great vertical passing attack led by QB Matt Ryan. WR’s Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Taylor Gabriel have done a great job at stretching the field on the outside and in the middle of defenses. But unlike the Packers, Atlanta has two legit RB’s while Green Bay has none. Devonta Freeman is a tough runner between the tackles and Tevin Coleman can do similar things but is also a threat as a receiver. Atlanta’s offense is set up to make a Super Bowl run. But the Falcons will have to come out sharp against this Green Bay defense. Dallas didn’t do that last week and that was one of the reasons they lost. Atlanta has had a stigma for a while now for falling short in big games. The Falcons offense is going to have to be the driving force to make sure that doesn’t happen. Green Bay receives decent play from their outside LB’s Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, and Nick Perry. Those guys can affect the Atlanta pass game by pressuring Ryan but they are also good against the run. But as a unit, Green Bay doesn’t defend the run or the pass very well. Atlanta will have the opportunity to set the tone on offense in this game. For the Packers, their offense will also have a great chance at success on Sunday. QB Aaron Rodgers was very much the best QB of the league last week as he is playing at a very high level. The Packers have multiple threats down the field at WR and TE even without Jordy Nelson. Atlanta’s defense is average at best and I feel confident that Rodgers can have a big day through the air against them. Green Bay may not have much of a run game but Atlanta isn’t exactly a run-stuffing defense. I think Atlanta’s defense, especially the front seven, could be a bit underrated. I think their LB’s do a good job and outside rusher Vic Beasley is a difference maker on passing downs. Green Bay’s offensive line did a good job last week but Beasley will present a greater challenge for them on Sunday. This game will come down to which defense I trust more at making more stops or which offense do I trust more at performing at a high level for 60 minutes. I don’t think Atlanta is ready defensively to stop Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay does not have a great defense but they are experienced and Atlanta has been prone to let downs in the past. It just feels like this is Aaron Rodgers’ time. This Packers team has come a long way from being embarrassed on Monday Night Football by Washington months ago. I have the Packers advancing to the Super Bowl in the first game. Prediction: Packers 36 – Falcons 31

AFC Championship Game

Pittsburgh @ New England – At the beginning of this season, many pegged the Steelers as a Super Bowl favorite. In fact, in my pre season predictions, I had the Steelers making it out of the AFC over the same Patriots team they will be facing on Sunday. The Steelers have had their issues this season. After falling to 4-5 when they lost to Dallas at home, those Super Bowl predictions took a serious hit. Since then, the Steelers have been able to get back on track, their defense has improved, and the offense look impossible to stop with the way Le’Veon Bell is running the ball. I’ve heard many people say this week that for the Steelers to beat New England in Foxboro on Sunday, they will need a vintage big time performance from Ben Roethlisberger. I don’t feel that way at all. Roethlisberger hasn’t exactly been lighting in up in the playoffs but he doesn’t have to. The most important weapon in this ball game on Sunday will be RB Le’Veon Bell. I think New England’s defense can be underrated at times but I don’t see them being able to shutdown Bell for 4 quarters. I think New England’s front seven could present some issues for the Steelers in terms of stuffing the run and pressuring the QB. I’m a big fan of DT Malcolm Brown who is playing great right now. Edge rushers Trey Flowers and veteran Rob Ninkovich are capable of getting after the QB. But the Steelers offensive line has done a great job for most of the season in the run and in pass protection. New England’s secondary isn’t exactly great either. With time, I think Roethlisberger would find success down the field. CB Malcolm Butler will try his best at shadowing WR Antonio Brown but that is a matchup that I would expect seeing Brown to win. Though Le’Veon Bell might be the best player on the field on Sunday, the New England running game might poise a bigger threat than Pittsburgh’s. New England has a great RB duo in LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis. Blount is a tough guy to bring down once he gets going and Lewis is a great receiving threat coming out from the backfield. Lewis is also a difference maker in special teams as a returner. We saw that last week. I think the Steelers defense could potential have their hands full with both of those backs. The Steelers will have to key on pressuring Tom Brady as well. Hopefully, the Patriots have learned their lesson from last year’s AFC Championship Game where they allowed Denver’s ace pass rusher harass Brady for most of the game. New England’s offensive line cannot let James Harrison do what Von Miller did last year. I guess we have to give the Steelers secondary credit for playing great against Matt Moore and Alex Smith but we have to believe that Brady will present a greater challenge for them. But again, that unit for Pittsburgh has done a decent job recently. Can we really expect Julian Edelman to be the big play receiver that the Steelers wont have an answer for? I think Brady could play well in this game but I think this offense will really miss Rob Gronkowski on Sunday. The Patriots are gonna need Martellus Bennett to make some big plays but Steeler LB’s Ryan Shazier and Lawrence Timmons have done a great job recently in pass coverage. I’m said before that I think the Patriots defense is under rated but right now, I think I trust the Pittsburgh defense more. Which is saying a lot because, I still don’t believe that the Steelers defense is that good. But they are kind of on a roll right now and I think I have that continuing this Sunday. This will be good game with a classic ending. I said last week that the winner of Pittsburgh-Kansas City is going to the Super Bowl. Plus, I had Pittsburgh making it this far in the pre season. Can’t turn back now. Prediction: Steelers 28 – Patriots 24

NFL Playoffs: 2017 NFL Divisional Round Predictions!

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

By: Elias McMillan

 

Wild-Card Round: 2-2

Playoffs: 2-2

Divisional Round

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

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

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

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

NFL 2016: Week 13 Predictions!

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The Oakland Raiders are the hottest team in the AFC going into December.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 12-4

Season: 109-66-2

Big Five Games of the Week

Dallas @ Minnesota – The Cowboys are winners of 10 straight going into December. They are still the hottest team in football but they now enter a crucial part in their schedule. Minnesota went through a rough patch and many written them off, me included. But Mike Zimmer’s team is tough and they seem to always compete down til the last second. This will especially be the case when the Vikings are at home tonight in their new stadium in front of a raucous crowd. The big match up in this game will be the Vikings defense vs. the Cowboys offense. Minnesota’s defense is a talented group with young talent and key veterans in all position groups. Minnesota’s defensive line is tough and they have the ability to pressure the QB. I really like the LB’s Minnesota has and their secondary is ranked in the top 5 in the league. I feel like I’ve said this every week but the Cowboys offense has been able to take on all challengers week after week. But I think I can say with confidence that this Minnesota defense at home will be the toughest test yet for rookie QB Dak Prescott. Minnesota doesn’t have a highly ranked run defense but they will key against the run and they might be able to win some battles with the personnel they have. Cowboys fans should be worried about Prescott and if he will be able to move the ball through the air if Minnesota can slow down Ezekiel Elliott. For the Cowboys on defense, they have been such a curious case. In November, the team went undefeated while the defense did not cause a single turnover. This was the first time in league history that a team was able to do so. That’s kind of impressive but really, it isnt a good thing. Minnesota’s offense has been short handed for most of the season but if the Cowboys defense doesn’t find a way to challenge them, Sam Bradford might have one of his best games in weeks. I don’t think that will happen but mainly, the Cowboys defense has to figure something out soon. Why not on Thursday night against an offense that can’t run the ball and has protection issues up front? I think the Vikings will play Dallas tough at home but I’m sticking with the hot team on the road. Jason Garrett’s team is starting to build a rep as a tough visiting team. Prediction: Cowboys 27 – Vikings 24

Kansas City @ Atlanta – The Chiefs scored an impressive road victory last week at Denver but I feel that they aren’t getting enough credit. Everyone is focusing on the bad decision that the Denver coach made in overtime. But I like this Chiefs team a lot. I like their pass rush and I like their ball control offense. Atlanta scored a lot of points last week but they’ll face a greater challenge this week in Kansas City. The Chiefs will present many problems that may slow down Atlanta’s high-powered offense. I think the Chiefs pass rush will be able to get after Matt Ryan. I think Kansas City will be tough to run against. I think Atlanta will be leaning on Julio Jones to provide most of the big plays down the field but a pretty good CB, Marcus Peters, will challenge him. I don’t think Alex Smith will out gun sling Matt Ryan but I do not trust Atlanta defense right now. Yes, that unit has gotten better this season but they are dealing with some injuries right now. I like the Chiefs to score their second straight road victory. Prediction: Chiefs 35 – Falcons 28

Houston @ Green Bay – The Packers won a prime time game as an underdog last week so now everyone is riding high on them. I am not. This is the same Packers team that can’t stop anyone. This is the same inconsistent Packers offense from this season. This is the same Packers team that has already lost some big ones at home this year. Everyone is ready to write off Brock Osweiler and the Houston Texans but I am not. First, they have a decent defense. Houston has one of the top pass defenses in the league and they are getting decent play out of their defensive line. Second, though Osweiler has been inconsistent, Houston can lean on Lamar Miller and the run game. Especially against the Green Bay defense. Lets face it, we all thought that the Packers were going to lose last week in Philly but that win for them wasn’t that impressive. We should have known that the Eagles were capable of laying an egg at home like they did. Houston will not lay an egg on the road this week as they have realistic playoff hopes still. I like the Texans this week. Prediction: Texans 32 – Packers 23

Buffalo @ Oakland – The Raiders are the hottest team in the AFC right now. Last week’s close victory at home against Carolina was a classic and one that the Raiders of old would have lost. These new Raiders will be looking to keep it rolling at home this Sunday against a Buffalo team that is fighting to stay in the playoff race. Buffalo has an overachieving defense under Rob Ryan and I think they’ll figure out a way to slow down David Carr and the Oakland offense. The Bills defense will keep it close and the ball game will come down to who can make the more big plays. Recently, Buffalo’s offense has been proving that they are much more than just LeSean McCoy. Shady is a big part of their success but Tyrod Taylor and the passing game is starting to become a factor as well. The Raiders have a really good defensive front seven and they played last week against the best mobile QB in the league. I think Khalil Mack and company will be prepare for what Taylor tries to throw at them. But Oakland’s weakness on defense is that secondary and Buffalo will have Sammy Watkins back from injury this week. Oakland’s defense did a great job at creating turnovers against Cam Newton and they will have to do the same this week against a different mobile QB. I think Buffalo will keep this one close but it is hard for me to pick against this Raiders team at home. Prediction: Raiders 22 – Bills 16

New York Giants @ Pittsburgh – The Giants quietly have the second best record in the NFC and they have won six straight. But lets be real, who have they beaten in that streak. A bunch of nobody’s. The 2016 Steelers may not be world-beaters but they will bring this Giants team right back down to earth on Sunday at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh seems to always have a big victory at home against a NFC team. It wasn’t going to happen against Dallas this year but I think it has a better chance of happening this week. The New York Giants shouldn’t be able to slow down the Pittsburgh offense. Big Ben, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and company should be able to have impressive stat sheets once this one is done and over. But Pittsburgh’s defense really isn’t that good, either. So, we will be likely looking at a shootout between Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning. Odell Beckham Jr and Antonio Brown will be trying to one up each other on each possession. Both QB’s will throw the long ball with ease. The Steelers do have the edge at running the football but Bell will be facing a tough defensive line that the Giants offer. Jason Pierre Paul was a beast last week but again, that was against Cleveland. I don’t trust either defense in this matchup and the winner will likely be the team with the ball last. Mike Tomlin will make damn sure on Sunday that the Steelers will be that team. Pittsburgh needs this one at home to start out December on the right foot. Prediction: Steelers 39 – Giants 33

The Rest of Week 13

Bears over 49ers – Colin Kaepernick is playing well recently but the San Fran defense is still so bad. They will make the Chicago second string look like Pro Bowlers.

Eagles over Bengals – Philadelphia stinks and it is time to pack it up for their 2016 season. Lucky for them, Cincy appears to be done as well without a couple of key players missing from the offense.

Patriots over Rams – New England won ugly last week and they’ll probably have to do the same this week against a bad but tough LA team.

Lions over Saints – Detroit needs to begin their push towards the postseason on Sunday on the road.

Broncos over Jaguars – Jacksonville should bring out the 1998 team that upset Denver in the playoffs to play in this game. They might stand a better chance than the current team.

Dolphins over Ravens – Pittsburgh fans will rejoice to see this final. Miami has confidence and they are looking to stay in the playoff picture.

Cardinals over Washington – Arizona is bad this year but they have a pretty good secondary and they will challenge the suddenly hot Kirk Cousins. I like the Cards in an upset.

Chargers over Buccaneers – Tampa scored a huge upset at home this week. A long flight to southern California will serve as a wet towel. San Diego will play great at home for once.

Seahawks over Panthers – A Bad road loss followed by an ultra impressive home victory. Same old Seahawks.

Colts over Jets – Indy would have actually stood a chance last Thursday if they had Andrew Luck. That should serve as motivation this week but the Jets will be a tough out at home in primetime.

Week 13 Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Matthew Stafford (Lions) – Stafford should be on his “A” game against the New Orleans secondary.

RB: Jordan Howard (Bears) – The young Chicago runner will find plenty of room against the 49ers defense.

WR: Antonio Brown (Steelers) – Brown will have a good time on Sunday against the trash talking, loud mouthed Janoris Jenkins of the Giants.

TE: Travis Kelce (Chiefs) – Kelce was Alex Smith’s go to receiver down the stretch last week at Denver.

DEF: New England – I kind of feel sorry for rookie Jared Goff this weekend going up against a Bill Belichick coached defense. He will definitely see some things that he didn’t see in college.

NFL 2016: Mid Season Report

NFL: JAN 03 Jaguars at Texans

The Jacksonville Jaguars had so much promise going into this season. They’ve been one of the most disappointing teams in 2016

By: Elias McMillan

 

Every team has played at least half of their schedule. So, it is now time for me to name my top 5 surprises and disappointments at the half way mark in this 2016 NFL Season. I’ll also make a revised Super Bowl pick at the end.

Top 5 Surprising Teams

  1. Dallas Cowboys (7-1) – Without Romo for the first part of the season and seeing how the team performed last season, I had the Cowboys winning just 8 games and not going to the playoffs in my preseason predictions. Now, it looks like things without Romo are going to be okay, the team already has 7 victories, and they are more than likely going to at least win the division and many a first round bye in the playoffs. I definitely didn’t see this coming. The plan to build a monster running game like what we saw in 2014 has worked with the selection of Ezekiel Elliott with the 4th overall pick. But the real surprise has been rookie QB Dak Prescott who has been able to do more than keep this team afloat while Romo recovers. I still think that the defense will be this teams undoing eventually but right now, they look like the class of the NFC.
  2. Oakland Raiders (7-2) – Many people believed that the Raiders would take that leap in 2016. I didn’t really believe that before the season but now I am witnessing it. QB David Carr is commanding a top-notch air attack. WR Amari Cooper is playing great but so is veteran WR Michael Crabtree. On defense, they have a tough front seven that can really get after the QB. They face a tough road ahead for the rest of the season but right now they are in position to maybe win their division.
  3. Denver Broncos (6-3) – After losing to Oakland last week, you might be surprised that I would put Denver on this list. But with their QB situation going into the season, I thought they would fall into a Super Bowl hangover. Instead, their defense is just as good as it was a season ago. Trevor Siemian has the offense getting by. Too bad that they lost starting RB CJ Anderson but their running game was a successful part to this season so far as well. I don’t know how the rest of the way will go but the AFC West race will be interesting.
  4. Atlanta Falcons (6-3) – With the way Carolina has played so far this season, that has opened the door for the Falcons to take control of the NFC South. Atlanta was already going to be amazing offensively with names like Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and DeVonta Freeman. But their defense has improved enough where you can sense that this team could close out this division sooner than later.
  5. Miami Dolphins (4-4) – Honestly, I couldn’t figure out a fifth team to put in this slot. But I had Miami winning just 5 games before the season and they are already at 4. Miami is currently in second place in the AFC East and there is a good chance for them to stay there. They have a lot of young talent on the offensive side of the ball and they are getting the most finally out their defensive front four. They might be able to make a surprising run to the wild card.

 

Top 5 Disappointing Teams

  1. Carolina Panthers (3-5) – Things have gotten so bad in Carolina so quickly. A lot of talk about Cam Newton but the bottom line is that the defense is what has under performed greatly this season. Maybe it is from the decision to let Josh Norman go. But Carolina refused to get younger and better at key positions in the offseason and it is showing up currently each week. Carolina may be able to rebound and have a respectable record to end the season but their playoff chances look bleak.
  2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6) – Remember how Jacksonville had so much optimism before the season. So much for all of that. It looks like the same old Jags are here to stay for at least another season. With all of that young talent, this team can barely compete in a terrible AFC South division. Maybe QB Blake Bortles isn’t that good. Maybe the head coach and GM need to be fired. Either way, Jacksonville has too much talent to be sucking like have this season. I predict major changes coming in the offseason.
  3. New York Jets (3-6) – This year, the Jets season has been basically derailed because of the QB position. And I completely understand why they had to bring back Ryan Fitzpatrick. They had great success with him last season. This season it has been the opposite. And it has gotten so bad on that side of the ball that not even their defense can save them. This team has some positives like Matt Forte and their defensive line. But the bad QB play, the injuries, and the aging vets can only carry this team so far. I thought at the start of the season that this team could at least win 8 games.
  4. Arizona Cardinals (3-4-1) – Arizona ws my Super Bwl pick at the beginning of the season. They have been a disappointment on both sides of the ball but mainly on defense. Carson Palmer has been shaky at times but Arizona still has a wealth of talent on offense. I thought that this defense would be a monster but they don’t make enough plays and have been a massive disappointment. Because they have a tie, it is still possible for them to rebound and get back into the playoff race.
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4) – The Steelers were my Super Bowl team coming out of the AFC before the season. I think Pittsburgh could still bounce back and win their division but they have still been a disappointment so far in 2016. The losses against lesser opponents. The inconsistencies on offense. A complete no show from the pass rush. And they have also struggled due to injury. But like I said, there is still time for them to bounce back and win a string of games. But I just don’t see them as a Super Bowl contender like I thought they would be at the start of the season.

 

Mid Season Awards

MVP: Julio Jones (WR – Atlanta) – These things always go to the QB. Matt Ryan has been good but lets be real. Julio Jones is what makes the Atlanta Falcons offense go. Jones currently leads the league in receiving and he is going to continue to be a huge part of Atlanta’s success for the rest of the season. I was tempted to give this to Tom Brady but the Patriots went 3-1 without him. That kinda puts huge hole in his bid.

Offensive MVP: Ezekiel Elliott (RB – Dallas) – Ezekiel Elliott is going to continue to put up monster numbers this season behind that offensive line. That Dallas power rushing game is a huge reason for the team’s success in 2016. Elliott will probably go on to be the league’s leading rusher.

Defensive MVP: Cliff Avril (DE – Seattle) – Avril is among the league leaders in sacks and is leading Seattle’s defensive line to be one of the best units in the NFL. Seattle has been inconsistent at times this season but they’ve been able to still lean on that defense. Arvil and that defensive line is a big part of that.

My REVISED Pick for Super Bowl 51

In the AFC, I believe that the Patriots will be there once again. Despite not having a strong defense, they probably have the best shot out of anyone in the conference. I thought that the Patriots would maybe fall short of a Super Bowl berth much like last season but they are much ahead in front of everyone else in the AFC. Pittsburgh doesn’t have the defense to slow Tom Brady and the offense. Denver still has a good defense but they are not going to be able to run the ball like they did a season ago. Maybe Oakland can shock the world and compete with the Patriots. I don’t know. But the Pats area safe pick right now. In the NFC, I can tell you, as a fan of the team how the Cowboys season will end. First off, Tony Romo will be starting going into the post season. Also, Dallas will be bringing with them into the post season that same sorry defense. That defense will let them down in January but everyone will still blame Tony Romo. Same as there ever was. I think Seattle or Atlanta could give Dallas problems in January. Both teams have decent pass rushes. Atlanta has a dynamic offense but we can’t completely write off Russell Wilson either. Ultimately, I still believe that Seattle’s defense will be the most valuable unit in football once the playoffs begin. REVISED Super Bowl 51 Prediction: Seahawks over Patriots

NFL 2016: Week 8 Predictions!

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Can the Eagles defense slow down the league’s best running game in Dallas?

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 7-7-1

Season: 62-44-1

Big Five Games of the Week

New England @ Buffalo – The Bills were riding high after winning four straight coming off the firing of their offensive coordinator. But last week, Buffalo fell for the trap on the road in the Miami Dolphins. Buffalo couldn’t stop the Dolphins rushing attack and their own best offensive weapon, LeSean McCoy, was injured and not effective. Buffalo will return home this week but they will have the New England Patriots waiting for them. New England didn’t look too impressive last week in Pittsburgh but they were still able to win convincingly against a shorthanded team. The Patriots enter a similar situation this week on the road again. Buffalo will be without their best player so the Pats will need to take full advantage of that. Buffalo was able to beat the Patriots before Tom Brady returned but despite that, Bill Belichick and company will have revenge on their minds this Sunday. For Buffalo to have a chance, they will need to run the ball as well as they did in their first meeting this season in New England. I think that will prove to be impossible without Shady McCoy. Brady and Rob Gronkowski usual have big performances in Buffalo and I think that is what we will see this team. Prediction: Patriots 32 – Bills 20

Detroit @ Houston – The Texans are the leaders in the AFC South right now but they have to be feeling pretty low after what happened to them last Monday night. The Texans might be able to back into a division crown again but they will not be taken seriously around the league. Brock Osweiler has been proven to be a bust of a free agent signing already. He can’t get star receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, involved. And the defense is playing well but not well enough to win ball games for the underachieving offense. The Detroit Lions haven’t been the most impressive team so far this season but I like the way the fight until the final whistle. Last week, they were in another situation where they could have let that game get away. But they fought hard and were led by their leader, QB Matt Stafford, and he got them the victory. Both moods from these football teams will ride with them into this week’s matchup. Houston is trying to find a way to pick them selves off the mat while Detroit is looking to continue to fight the good fight for all 4 quarters. I think Osweiler’s woes continue and the Lions will score the road victory. Prediction: Lions 28 – Texans 21

San Diego @ Denver – Denver hasn’t looked too impressive recently. If Houston’s QB was worth anything, the Broncos could be going into Week 8 on a three game losing streak. Instead, the Broncos will be looking for revenge against a Chargers team that beat them a few weeks back on the road in a Thursday night matchup. For Denver, it is going to continue to be about their defense. Trevor Siemian and the Broncos will not be dynamic enough to win ball games for this Denver team. They will have to do just enough to put the game in the hands of their talented defense. And that task will be tougher going forward now that staring RB, CJ Anderson, is out for the rest of the season. San Diego has its flaws and they have lost a couple of close ones this season but they are trending upwards right now. Phillip Rivers and the passing game is performing well and Melvin Gordon has the run game going in San Diego finally. The Chargers have a weakness in the secondary on defense but their front seven is really starting to become a difference maker this season. I don’t know how long it has been since the Chargers have swept the Broncos in the season series but I see that happening this Sunday in a close one. Prediction: Chargers 31 – Broncos 30

Green Bay @ Atlanta – I think all of the worries about the Packers are valid. I’ve watched them recently in past weeks and I can’t understand why they are not playing at a level that we were use to seeing. Aaron Rodgers would have more than enough time in the pocket to be his old dominant self but he just kind of stands there now, waiting for something to happened instead of making it happen. Green Bay’s offense will be hurt going forward as well now that Eddie Lacy has been shut down for the rest of the season because of injury. Atlanta had a hiccup last week but I think they’ll be ready to rebound quickly this week at home against the Packers. I think Atlanta’s pass rush will be able to get after Rodgers. Green Bay also will not have an answer for the Matt Ryan-Julio Jones connection. RB Tevin Coleman will be missing time because of injury but Devonta Freeman is more than capable to carry the load on the ground for this Falcons offense. Atlanta will have to win the battle on the line of scrimmage if they hope to really put Green Bay away on Sunday. If they can keep Ryan protected and created rushing lanes for Freeman, the Falcons will have a chance to look really impressive this week. Prediction: Falcons 30 – Packers 20

Philadelphia @ Dallas – You gotta hand it to the Eagles for what they did to an undefeated Vikings team last week. But really, Minnesota was due for a loss. It was amazing by itself that Vikings were starting the season so hot after losing starter after starter due to injury. Philadelphia had a plan to expose their weaknesses last week and it work perfectly, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Eagles defense will have to come up strong again this week as they travel to Dallas to take on a rested, division leading Cowboys team. This game, like most, will be all about the players up front on the line of scrimmage. The Cowboys offensive line has taken on all challengers so far this season. Green Bay had the top run defense in the league when they faced them and they were still able to take care of business. I think Philadelphia’s front seven will prove to be a great challenge for the Cowboys upfront. We all know what kind of player Fletcher Cox is but really, the Eagles front seven usually does a great job upfront at disrupting the run while pressuring the QB. Rookie QB Dak Prescott has been a tough cookie to crack so far for opposing NFL defenses. While Prescott isn’t exactly putting up big numbers, his ability to not get rattled has been his greatest attribute so far in his career. The Eagles sole goal this weekend on defense will be to rattle Prescott. But a lot can go right for Dallas if the offensive line can continue to be dominant. Ezekiel Elliott can continue his unreal streak of 100-yard games on the ground in a row. Plus, we might see Prescott excel as a down the field passer with the return of Dez Bryant who has historically toasted the Eagles on many occasions. The other matchup in this game between the Eagles offense and the Cowboys defense is pretty lackluster and I don’t see it being a factor. Can Carson Wentz play well enough to outscore the Cowboys offense? Can the Cowboys defense take advantage of an offense that struggles with protection and with running the ball? Both questions are a coin flip. But the Cowboys have been very consistent so far this season and they are even healthier coming off the bye week. Prediction: Cowboys 29 – Eagles 23

The Rest of Week 8

Titans over Jaguars – Jacksonville maybe in trouble of losing their head coach.

Bengals over Washington – I bet Cincinnati is hoping to see what they saw in Jeremy Hill every week. I wonder how Cincinnati football fans feel about losing a home game to London this year.

Jets over Browns – A lot of talk about the QB position in NY but the RB, Matt Forte, will be the difference in this game.

Chiefs over Colts – I feel that this game is a toss up but Alex Smith had some impressive days as a passer playing indoors in Indianapolis.

Seahawks over Saints – I know that Seattle played poorly last week but New Orleans’ defense is still trash. Can Drew Brees keep them in this game for all 4 quarters?

Raiders over Buccaneers – Oakland might be in first place in the AFC West heading towards the midpoint of the season.

Panthers over Cardinals – Carolina is having a rough season but their offense actually got it together before the bye. I think Carolina has some momentum going into this one.

Vikings over Bears – I don’t think Chicago has the resources to expose Minnesota’s weaknesses. That defense will get Jay Cutler to play like Jay Cutler.

Week 8 Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Russell Wilson (Seahawks) – Wilson will be facing a defense that allows the third most yards through the air in the league on Sunday.

RB: DeMarco Murray (Titans) – People need to take notice to what Murray is doing in Tennessee. Murray is among the league leaders on the ground after a loss season in Philly.

WR: Mike Evans (Buccaneers) – The passing game will be Tampa’s only chance on Sunday so, I would expect Jameis Winston to be looking for his best threat multiple times this weekend.

TE: Jimmy Graham (Seahawks) – I sure, that Graham will be very motivated to show out against the team that traded him.

DEF: New England – The Patriots defense will have its chances to play well against a shorthanded, one-dimensional Bills offense.

NFL 2016: Week 6 Predictions!

NFL: Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers

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

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 7-7

Season: 43-34

Big Five Games of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

The Rest of Week 6

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

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

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

Lions over Rams – This is a toss up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 6 Fantasy Football Picks

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

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

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

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

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