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NFL Playoffs: 2018 Wild-Card Weekend Predictions!

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The Bills will be looking for their first post season win since 1995 in Jacksonville on Sunday.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 9-7

2017 Regular Season: 151-103

NFL Playoffs: Wild-Card Weekend

Tennessee @ Kansas City – The Chiefs bounced back nicely near the end of the regular season to win their second straight AFC West title. They may not be as strong as they were a season ago, especially on the defensive side, but they are playing well going into the post season. I can’t say that about the Titans. I was waiting for Tennessee’s playoff chances to just die out but luckily they seem to just have Jacksonville’s number. Up until last Sunday, the Titans were trending downwards but they were able to take advantage of poor QB play to clinch a spot in the playoffs. Tennessee’s defense has been inconsistent from most of 2017 and I think Kansas City has the weapons to expose that unit on Saturday. RB Kareem Hunt led the league in rushing this season and he was key in December in helping end Kansas City’s mid season slide. QB Alex Smith has been proven to play well against poor secondaries and Tennessee’s ranks near the bottom in the league. I think WR Tyreke Hill and TE Travis Kelce will have their opportunities in this game. Kansas City usually has a strong front seven on defense but injuries have hurt them this year. Justin Houston is still one of the best pass rushers in the game and in the secondary, you can count CB Marcus Peters to make a play or shut down a side of the field. For Tennessee, QB Marcus Mariota has had a problem with accuracy this season. With TE Delanie Walker as one of the few reliable targets in the passing game, Mariota has had to lean on the run game this year, which really hasn’t been a bad thing. RB DeMarco Murray is a capable back but he will be out this week. That may not be that big of a blow as RB Derrick Henry is having a break out season splitting carries with Murray and leading the team in rushing. Henry is a nice change of pace from Murray but he will have to be a every down back in this game. Tennessee’s front seven on defense is under rated but offense’s with capable QB play should be able to handle them. With Arrowhead rocking, this should be a slam-dunk for the home team. Prediction: Chiefs 38 – Titans 21

Atlanta @ Los Angeles – This is an old school NFC West matchup if you remember how the divisions were formatted in the early 90’s. I wish the NFL would allow the Falcons to wear their throwback red jerseys and the Rams can wear their throwback royal blues with yellow. Anyways, this matchup will have the NFC Champion from a season ago against a Rams team that finally broke thru this year. Atlanta is a team that is definitely capable of making a run back to the Super Bowl with the talent they have on both sides of the ball. But for whatever reason, they have under performed and have been inconsistent this year. It almost cost them a chance to get back into the playoffs. QB Matt Ryan must have a strong game on Saturday night. He will be facing a Rams defense that struggles against the run but is among the league leaders in sacks. The Falcons must do anything in their power to account for DT Aaron Donald who is as good of a defender than anyone in the league. Despite having that strength in the middle of the defense, the Rams are vulnerable against the run. RB Devonta Freeman might have a chance to help Atlanta run a balanced attack on offense. WR Julio Jones is still one of the best in the league but Ryan must find a way to increase his scoring chances. Atlanta’s defense has quietly delivered this season but they’ll face a tall task in slowing down RB Todd Gurley. Gurley has established himself as a legit MVP candidate and he has been a driving force behind the turn around of his QB, Jared Goff. LA’s balanced and steady attack on offense has served them well this season. Keeping the pressure off Goff will be key in this game as Atlanta offers a decent pass rush. Between Gurley and Donald, the Rams have the two best players in this game and I think they’ll be able to ride them both to a home victory on Saturday night. Atlanta has the potential to make this a close one though. Prediction: Rams 24 – Falcons 20

Buffalo @ Jacksonville – Thanks to Cincinnati, Buffalo is everyone’s lovable underdog in this post season. The Bills will be making their first playoff trip in 17 years and they’ll be looking for their first playoff victory since 1995. Jacksonville was riding high about a month ago. There were even whispers that they could have jumped up to the second seed in the AFC. The last two weeks, The Jaguars have trended downward since clinching the AFC South, losing two straight include last week’s embarrassing loss at Tennessee. We all know how strong Jacksonville’s defense has been all season. They have the second ranked unit in the league and the top pass defense in football. Everyone has serious doubts about their situation at QB. Blake Bortles was starting to play better at the beginning of December but has regressed to his regular self recently, just in time for the playoffs. Jacksonville’s passing game has also struggled with all the injuries they had to deal with at the WR position. It seems to me that they might have to lean on rookie RB Leonard Fournette. That may not be a bad thing as the Jags have the league’s leading rushing attack. The Jaguars have a tremendous pass rush and secondary but they struggle against the run and that is where Buffalo can take advantage. RB LeSean McCoy is having another strong season. He suffered an injury last week but he appears to be ready to return for Sunday. Buffalo is going to need a big day on the ground if they hope QB Tyrod Taylor will be able to get anything in the passing game. Buffalo’s air attack has been feast or famine this season and things will definitely be tough for them against this secondary. I think Jacksonville’s defense will continue to be the strength for their team on Sunday but I think their offense will continue to struggle. Buffalo will be able to take advantage of some mistakes on the road and they will avoid an emotional letdown after what happened last week. I’m taking the Bills in an upset and they’ll advance to face division rival, New England next week. Prediction: Bills 21 – Jaguars 20

Carolina @ New Orleans – The Saints almost blew their chance at the division crowd last week. Luckily for them, Carolina fell on the road against Atlanta. I’m not going to take much away from the loss last week in Tampa. I still think the Saints are a strong contender in the NFC. Carolina has had their struggles this year but also look like a team that could go on a run. I think the winner of this game will probably go to the NFC Championship game. The Saints beat the Panthers twice already this year and it seems that they just have their number. Carolina’s defense will play tough but they have a lot to contend with. The Saints offer a balanced running attack with Mark Ingram and rookie sensation Alvin Kamara and down field threats in the passing game like WR Michael Thomas. Carolina has a good defense but this isnt the same unit from two seasons ago. New Orleans’ improved defense should be able to limit the damage that Cam Newton is capable of. Newton will have his backfield at full strength on Sunday as Jonathan Stewart will return from injury to be paired with another rookie sensation, Christian McCaffrey. Despite trading away Kevlin Benjamin to Buffalo, Carolina has been able to create big plays in the passing game. But their WR core may be short handed in this one due to injuries and they’ll be up against a much-improved Saints secondary. Not to mention, the crowd in the Super Dome will really make it tough for the Panthers offense to operate. I like the home team to advance. Prediction: Saints 34 – Panthers 24

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NFL 2017: Week 8 Predictions!

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

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 9-6

Season: 59-47

Big Five Games of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

The Rest of Week 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

 

NFL 2017: Week 6 Predictions!

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Are Cam Newton and the Panthers starting to regain the form they showed in 2015?

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 4-10

Season: 42-35

Big Five Games of the Week

Philadelphia @ Carolina – The Panthers went from an unimpressive 2-0 to a very impressive 4-1. The Panthers netted a big road victory last week in Detroit. Now, they’ll return home to face a hot Philadelphia team. The Eagles passing offense is looking really strong right now. The offensive line is holding up and QB Carson Wentz is finding his big targets down the field. The Eagles still have an inconsistent run game and their secondary on defense is shaky but right now things are just clicking on that team. On a short week, I like the home team’s chances but I think the Eagles are going to be able to win some key matchups in this game. I think the Eagles front seven will limit Carolina on the ground and get after Cam Newton. And I like Philadelphia’s chances to make more big plays down the field against Carolina’s secondary. This should be a really good game. I can’t believe it but I’m going with the road Eagles in an upset. Prediction: Eagles 27 – Panthers 20

Green Bay @ Minnesota – The Vikings have the defense to get after Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense. Especially at home. But I don’t trust their offense even against a Packers defense that isn’t that great. Playing at Minnesota can be a tough task but the Packers will have more opportunities to put points on the board. Minnesota’s offense is handicapped by the injuries they have at QB and RB. Prediction: Packers 29 – Vikings 18

New England @ New York Jets – The Jets enter this game with 3 wins. The Jets enter Week 6 of the 2017 season with six wins. They can’t fire Todd Bowles after this season. Some in the Jets locker room have said before the season that they are NOT tanking. I guess, they were right. New England is better team and should own them. But then again, I think the Jets have a better chance than most believe. New England is beatable. This year, the familiar flaws (defense and offensive line play) have returned to the Pats. And there are whispers about Tom Brady maybe playing through a shoulder injury. Also, I love the story line of DE Kony Ealy who was a Patriot to start training camp after a trade from Carolina only to get cut before the start of the season and getting signed by the Jets. Ultimate revenge factor for him in this game. I suspect Bowles will allow him to pin his ears back and chase Brady all game. I don’t think the Jets have the offense to out score the Patriots but then again, New England’s defense is in a rut. I’m not picking the Jets but I’m saying that being the Pats at home isnt as tall of a task than it sounds. Prediction: Patriots 31 – Jets 30

Los Angeles Rams @ Jacksonville – Jacksonville’s defense balled out last week but the Jags will be fighting a stigma this week at home against the Rams. The Jaguars can’t seem to put together a pair of good performances in a row. The LA Rams were a dropped pass in the end zone away from coming away with their most impressive win of the season at home against Seattle. I think the progress seen in LA is real and they play Jacksonville tough on the road. The Rams will take the ball out of Jared Goff’s hands and give it to Todd Gurley as much as possible against a Jaguars defense that isn’t strong against the run, usually. I think the Rams front seven on defense, led by Aaron Donald, will be a great test for Leonard Fournette and the Jags running game. Both QB’s in this game stink and they wont matter in this match up. I think the Rams will be able to hide Goff better than the Jaguars can hide Bortles. Prediction: Rams 13 – Jaguars 10

Pittsburgh @ Kansas City – So much drama in Pittsburgh recently. But I’ve seen this movie before. The Steelers are in an early season rut. And they still have enough talent to bounce back. Enter the Chiefs who are undefeated and are playing as well as anyone right now. The Chiefs have to be thinking about how Pittsburgh has punked them in their last two meetings. I think this game will come down to who can control the clock better. Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell is begging for more touches and I think he will get his wish on Sunday. The Chiefs have a pretty good RB on their team too. Rookie RB Kareem Hunt should see plenty of opportunities in this game. Both QB’s, Ben Roethlisberger and Alex Smith, will not be shy about airing it out. The Antonio Brown/Marcus Peters matchup should be entertaining. And the Chiefs will be looking for big plays from WR Tyreke Hill who will be the fastest player on the field Sunday. This game will come down to execution. The Chiefs will have the home field advantage but Pittsburgh has the experience in these situations to bounce back after a few tough weeks. I like Pittsburgh to right the ship in an upset. Prediction: Steelers 34 – Chiefs 30

The Rest of Week 6

Falcons over Dolphins – Atlanta will be fresh coming off the bye. I feel that injuries are their greatest enemy so far this season.

Lions over Saints – Stafford vs. Brees should provide some great QB theater.

Washington over 49ers – This game will feature two young up and coming defenses in the league.

Ravens over Bears – Have the Ravens righted the ship after a bad start? Maybe. They can’t have a let down at home against a weak opponent.

Texans over Browns – Deshaun Watson is looking like a real answer at QB for Houston. DeShone Kizer was benched last week and lost his starting job. Who has worst luck at picking QB’s than Cleveland? The Watt and Clowney injuries will hurt but I’m still going with Houston.

Buccaneers over Cardinals – Arizona’s defense is an embarrassment right now.

Chargers over Raiders – David Carr or no David Carr, the defensive woes are what are what is holding Oakland back.

Broncos over Giants – The New York Giants are sad. The entire WR core is out for the season. THE ENTIRE CORE. The top four options. How could this happen? Denver should roll at home.

Titans over Colts – Tennessee has to turn it around this week on Monday night. If not, their season will get longer and longer.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Jameis Winston (Buccaneers) – Jameis has had some shaky starts in games this season but the Cardinals defense gives up plenty of big plays down field.

RB: Todd Gurley (Rams) – LA will use Gurley like Pittsburgh should have used Le’Veon Bell last week.

WR: DeAndre Hopkins (Texans) – Hopkins is building a great connection with the rookie QB, Watson. Sunday against the Browns could be like a glorified practice session.

TE: Ed Dickson (Panthers) – Dickson has put together a small string of good performances recently. Newton will continue to look his way on Thursday night.

DEF: Denver – The Broncos are a defensive team and they’ll face an offensively wounded Giants team this week.