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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

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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: 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.

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.

NFL 2016: Week 4 Predictions!

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Will the return of Le’Veon Bell lift the Steelers offense on Sunday night?

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 9-7

Season: 29-19

Big Five Games of the Week

Buffalo @ New England – The Bills looked really bad in Week 2. So last week against a much better Arizona team, they were able to pull out all the stops and score a big home victory. Buffalo will look to ride that momentum into New England on Sunday as they take on the Patriots. New England can do no wrong currently. Despite all of the personnel losses on both sides of the ball, they are 3-0. You have to be impressed to see their defense playing at the level that it is right now. But that defense really hasn’t been pressed by a good offense this season. Buffalo may not be a complete offense right now but they can do one thing very well: run the football. I think Buffalo will be successful in the run game on Sunday rather if it’s LeSean McCoy doing the damage or QB Tyrod Taylor. The starting QB for New England this week remains a mystery. Buffalo has plenty of defensive woes right now but no coach knows Bill Belichick’s offense better than Rex Ryan. I think the Ryan brothers are going to have a good game plan this week against a Patriots offense that can really only run the ball successfully. New England will be looking forward to the return of Tom Brady next week. This week, they will be shocked and upset at home to the underdog Bills. Prediction: Bills 32 – Patriots 21

Seattle @ New York Jets – Russell Wilson suffered a knee injury last week but he is planning to play through it. I think this will prove to be a bad decision going up against the Jets on the road this week. Wilson already is dealing with shaky offensive line play and his week, that line will face a powerful, disruptive Jets front four on defense. The Jets took their lumps last week on the road but this week they will be the ones handing out the lumps. Everyone was no hard on Ryan Fitzpatrick last week. And maybe for good reason. It’s never good to throw SIX interceptions in one game. But on the other hand, Kansas City’s defense is really good. Fitzpatrick will face another good defense this week in the Seahawks. I think Fitz will be helped out this week by his defense. The Jets will play ball control football with the defense getting stops and the offense taking advantage of the extra opportunities to score. New York will be without Eric Decker and that might hurt them in the passing game. But Seattle has a rep of being a weaker team on the road. I’m taking the Jets in an upset. Prediction: Jets 21 – Seahawks 20

Oakland @ Baltimore – The Ravens are the 3-0 team that no one is talking about. Probably because they haven’t beaten anyone of significance. But beating teams that you are suppose to beat will go a long ways in terms to getting into the post season. Baltimore just has to keep on trucking along until they face a great challenge. And then, we will see how good they really are. I also haven’t seen them play a lot this season so far. I know that it helps that Joe Flacco is back. Their running game is a mystery to me. Baltimore is getting decent play out of their receivers. And their defense is currently ranked 2nd in the league. The Raiders gutted out a tough victory last week on the road but they’ll have a harder time this week in Baltimore. Derek Carr and the Raiders offense will be a great test for Baltimore’s defense. Oakland’s defense played its best game last week but that unit has mostly been a disappointment in this season. There is a great chance that Flacco will have his best performance of the season this Sunday if he is able to stay away from the Raiders pass rush. Prediction: Ravens 26 – Raiders 17

Kansas City @ Pittsburgh – What happened to Pittsburgh last week, no one saw coming. Giving up 34 points to a rookie QB? Sure, I could see that. But only putting up 3 points on offense? I didn’t know that the Eagles defense was that good. Maybe they are not. Maybe the Steelers just had an off day offensively. But if Philadelphia’s defense was able to play that well, what will happen this Sunday night in Pittsburgh when the Chiefs come to town? As we saw last week, Kansas City’s defense is really good and they will force turnovers. They are tough to run on and they have a good secondary. Ben Roethlisberger is coming off of two straight weeks of lackluster performances. I know he will bounce back as he always does but it will be hard for him this week against the Chiefs defense. I think the return of Le’Veon Bell for the Steelers will greatly affect Pittsburgh’s chances on Sunday. Kansas City has a tough defensive line but Bell can be used it so many different ways on offense. It will be hard for the Chiefs to key on Bell and DeAngelo Williams. Pittsburgh’s defense takes a lot of heat but this week, I believe that match up well against Kansas City’s offense. Jamaal Charles might be making his season debut on Sunday night but Pittsburgh still has a highly ranked run defense. QB Alex Smith will be asked to do more that usual in this matchup but that may not be a bad thing for the Chiefs. I’ve said before that Smith is underrated and he’ll have a chance to look much better than what he really is against the Steelers secondary. Pittsburgh will be looking for the chance to rebound after a bad performance last week and they will really want this one at home. It will be close but I’m taking the home team. Le’Veon Bell will make the big play late in this game to clinch a victory for the home team. Prediction: Steelers 25 – Chiefs 23

New York Giants @ Minnesota – I love what Minnesota is doing right now. They lose their starting QB, RB and left tackle but they are still winning ball games. How? Look at their defense. Sacking the QB, creating pressure, causing turnovers. And they are doing it with talent that they drafted. Other teams in the league need to look at Minnesota as an example. Having a decent defense can overcome shortcomings on offense. Plus, you have to bring in high priced free agents to improve defensively. Minnesota drafted top talent on defense and it is starting to pay off. The Giants have been disappointing so far this season. Their defense is improved but the offense is struggling to put up the numbers that everyone thought they would. I think that offense will continue its struggles on the road in Minnesota this Monday night. The way Eli Manning threw that game away late last week was kind of embarrassing. Manning is going to have another tough go at it this week against the Vikings defense. I think the Giants defense will be able to keep New York in the game but they wont win it for them. It will be up to Eli Manning to solve the Vikings defense late in the game in front of a raucous Minnesota crowd. I like the home team. Prediction: Vikings 29 – Giants 24

The Rest of Week 4

Bengals over Dolphins – Miami tried their best to lose to Cleveland at home last week. They are having a tough go at it. Cincinnati better take care of business in this one.

Colts over Jaguars – I feel sorry for anyone who is planning to get up early to watch this one being played in London. Jacksonville was supposed to be everyone’s sleeper team. What happened?

Panthers over Falcons – Good news for Cam Newton: he won’t be facing the Minnesota defense this week. This will be a good game but Carolina’s defense will be the difference.

Lions over Bears – Chicago is sad. But at least their fans can troll Detroit fans about the MLB Playoffs?

Washington over Browns – Terrelle Pryor will have another strong performance but Cleveland will still lose. Expect that to be the theme in Cleveland for the rest of the season. If I were a Browns fan, I would be watching Louisville/Clemson very closely on Saturday night.

Texans over Titans – J.J. Watt is out for the season but Houston will rally and beat a tough Tennessee team at home.

Broncos over Buccaneers – Trevor Siemien is playing better each week. So much for a Super Bowl hangover. Denver is looking really good right now.

Cardinals over Rams – Arizona will be ready to rebound from a disastrous trip to Buffalo. If the Rams keep winning, we can make fun of their move to LA anymore. That’s no fun. C’mon Arizona!

Chargers over Saints – Drew Brees said that he was looking forward to playing his old team. Phillip Rivers will be looking forward to playing against the Saints defense.

49ers over Cowboys – Here’s an upset. San Francisco will give Dallas the tough game that Chicago didn’t give them last week. San Fran isn’t really good but the Cowboys defense will make Blaine Gabbert look much better than he really is.

Week 4 Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Joe Flacco (Ravens) – The Raiders give up the most yards in the air on defense. Flacco will air it out at home this week.

RB: Todd Gurley (Rams) – Arizona couldn’t stop the run last week. LA will use Gurley to their advantage this week.

WR: Marvin Jones (Lions) – Jones is turning into the breaking out player in the Lions offense so far this season.

TE: Dennis Pitta (Ravens) – Pitta is catching a lot of passes so far this season but he has yet to score a TD. Expect that to change this week.

DEF: New York Jets – I like the Jets defense this week against a banged up Russell Wilson.

 

NFL 2016: Week 3 Predictions!

 

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Josh Norman may be looking forward to another shot at Odell Beckham Jr but his Washington team is still looking forward to their first victory in 2016.

 

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 11-5

Season: 20-12

Big Five Games of the Week

Houston @ New England – The Texans are 2-0 but in those two victories, they really haven’t been overly impressive. New England is dealing with some serious issues at the QB position going into tonight’s game. But New England has been missing some important pieces of that offense all season and it hasn’t stopped them from winning games. I don’t know how well Jacoby Brissett will perform tonight but I think we can count on this veteran Patriots team rallying behind him and doing what is necessary in order to be successful. Brissett will have a good running game to lean on tonight as LeGarrette Blount is running as well as anyone right now. Houston has a good defense and they’ll provide quite a test for the rookie QB taking his first professional snaps tonight. On paper, New England doesn’t have a strong defense but so far this season, they haven’t been exposed. That defensive unit will continue to do just enough to not lose games for the offense. I don’t see Brock Osweiler being the QB to really stretch out the New England secondary. The Patriots will have their hands full with DeAndre Hopkins though. Houston will need a strong game tonight from their defensive line. J.J. Watt is starting to get healthier and he needs to start producing at the high level that he is used to. I think Houston’s defense will be the tone setter tonight and they will give Osweiler the chance to win this game on the road. But it just seems that Bill Belichick can do no wrong this season no matter who is available to play. TE Rob Gronkowski might miss his third straight game this season but Martellus Bennett is coming off his most productive outing this season. I think the “no excuses” approach from the Patriots will continue to breed success tonight in front of a raucous home crowd. Prediction: Patriots 21 – Texans 20

Denver @ Cincinnati – The Bengals were underwhelming again against Pittsburgh last week and I think they’ll have a tougher time this week at home against the reigning Super Bowl Champion Broncos. Denver has been apart of a couple of interesting games to start the season. Each time, the offense has done enough to keep the team’s chances at victory afloat. And each time again, the defense has come up huge in the 4th quarter. Trevor Siemian isn’t lighting up the scoreboard but he is doing the little things right and he isn’t making big enough mistakes that could turn the game the other way. Siemian has a great support system around him with the skill players at RB and WR. That veteran presence is going along way in developing Siemian into a success in his young NFL career. But for Denver, it is more about the defense. Von Miller is playing out of his mind right now. DeMarcus Ware will miss about a month due to injury but this is why the Broncos took Shane Ray in the first round last season. Denver’s defense will continue its dominance on Sunday against the Bengals. Andy Dalton will find it hard to get into a rhythm against the Broncos defense. A.J. Green wasn’t targeted enough last week in Pittsburgh and he might find it tough again this week against the Denver secondary. Cincinnati’s defense is underrated in my mind but I don’t see them making enough big plays like they did in the past when they had Reggie Nelson. I’m taking the road team. Prediction: Broncos 23 – Bengals 17

Washington @ New York Giants – Washington was able to win the NFC East last year. Now, they are currently 0-2 and facing an improved, undefeated New York Giants team on the road this Sunday. The Giants are playing well to start the season and Washington will be desperately looking for their first victory of the season. But the real hype behind this game is the matchup between Odell Beckham Jr and Josh Norman. OBJ and Norman got into it multiple times when they faced each other last season. The officials will have a better look at that this time around so the fireworks will probably be at the minimal. Even without the extra stuff (fighting, punching, wrestling, etc.), the matchup between OBJ and Norman is exciting because we are seeing to players opposite each other playing at the top of their games. Norman may not shadow “Number one” receivers often but we saw last week against Dallas how he can affect games in multiple ways. Norman is a physical defender who doesn’t back down and he will be hard for any Giants receiver to deal with on Sunday. This is important because Washington will have to worry about multiple receivers on Sunday. Victor Cruz is healthy and looking like his old self. Rookie Sterling Shepard is coming off his best day as a pro. Eli Manning is playing with his deepest WR core in a while. Washington’s defense will have a long day if they cant rattle Manning. QB Kirk Cousins has been struggling this season so far and he’ll be facing a much-improved Giants defense. I don’t like Washington’s chances at all in this game. They will go to 0-3. Prediction: Giants 34 – Washington 21

New York Jets @ Kansas City – The Chiefs took their lumps on the road in Houston last week. I think they will be ready to get back on track this week at home against the Jets. New York is coming off a Thursday night victory so they will be rested. But despite that, they are pretty banged up at key positions. WR Brandon Marshall may not play. Last week, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick had a field day throwing the ball against the Bills secondary. Fitzpatrick will not have it so easy this week as Kansas City’s defense will be much harder to throw on. The Chiefs defense usually plays at a high level at home and they will limit New York’s chances at creating big plays. The Jets defense will create a tough challenge for Andy Reid’s offense as well. New York’s front seven is physical up front, they get after the QB, and they are tough to run against. RB Jamaal Charles might make his return this week but the Chiefs are going to have to find creative ways to get him involved. If they plan to run Charles right into the teeth of the Jets defensive line, he is going to have a long day. Last week, everyone was talking about how bad the Bills secondary was. But in that same game, the Jets secondary also looked mighty suspect. Many may sleep on QB Alex Smith, but I think he will be able to do things with his arm and legs this Sunday. This could be a close one and because of that, I’ll give the advantage to the home team. Arrowhead Stadium is just one of those unique home field advantages in this league. Prediction: Chiefs 25 – Jets 20

Pittsburgh @ Philadelphia – All aboard the Carson Wentz hype train! But seriously, everyone needs to calm down. Wentz has been apart of 2 victories so far in his NFL career but he plays in Philadelphia and he played last week in primetime. So, that explains most of the hype. I’ve watched highlights of Wentz and he isn’t exactly lighting up the league. Wentz has done the little things. He is making the right throws and the right decisions. He still has a ways to go. But Philadelphia is so thirsty for some football success that the fans are ready to crown him right now. Wentz and the Eagles need slapped back down to earth. Enter the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh doesn’t have the dominant defense like they’ve had in the past but they will create a better challenge for Wentz than Cleveland and Chicago. That’s for sure. One thing that has been an advantage for Wentz and the Eagles offense is that they haven’t been in a situation where they had to score a lot in order to win. Cleveland and Chicago definitely weren’t putting the pressure of Philly’s offense to produce big time numbers. The Steelers offense will do just that. Pittsburgh is able to control the game on offense with their passing game and running game. The Steelers are pretty good upfront and they’ll create a good challenge for Fletcher Cox and the Eagles defensive line. RB DeAngelo Williams is playing extremely well right now and the Eagles will have to key on what Pittsburgh can do as a running football team at the same time being aware of what they can do in the air. The Eagles secondary is still a weak spot on their defense and Ben Roethlisberger should be able to take advantage. If the Eagles cant get to Roethlisberger, there will be nothing stopping Antonio Brown from making the big, game defining plays. Wentz mania may be running wild in Philly right now but I expect the Steelers to put a stop to all of that at least for one week. Prediction: Steelers 29 – Eagles 17

The Rest of Week 3

Cardinals over Bills – Buffalo’s defense is shorthanded and they can’t stop anyone. I don’t see how Rex and his idiot brother will survive this season. It’s a shame because I really like Rex as a head coach. That defense needs to get better but it wont anytime soon.

Packers over Lions – Detroit fell apart late last week. They are banged up and they will be facing a Packers team at home looking to put their fans doubts to rest.

Titans over Raiders – I thought Oakland would have a strong defense this season. They are currently ranked dead last in the league in that department. I like the way Tennessee fought their way back into last week’s game.

Dolphins over Browns – We are still in September and Cleveland is already a dumpster fire. Miami has fought hard in their two losses to start the season. They’ll roll big time at home.

Panthers over Vikings – Minnesota is dealing with a lot of injuries but so is Carolina. Cam Newton will probably be the best running threat on the field on Sunday.

Ravens over Jaguars – What happened to Jacksonville being the sleeper team this season? Baltimore hasn’t been so impressive for a team that hasn’t lost yet. But the Jags have been so underwhelming so far this season. This one is a toss up.

Seahawks over 49ers – Losing to the Rams should be inexcusable for this Seattle team. If they lose this one at home to San Fran, it may be time for everyone to chill on the Russell Wilson bandwagon.

Buccaneers over Rams – The Rams play Seattle hard. I get it. This week, they’ll return to their regularly scheduled programming.

Chargers over Colts – San Diego can run the ball now. Indy is starting the drop like flies already. I’m taking the Bolts on the road for the small upset.

Cowboys over Bears – It’s been awhile since Dallas has won at home but against this wounded Chicago team, they should have no excuses.

Falcons over Saints – New Orleans usually shows up big in these prime time matchups but I’m taking Atlanta because their defense isn’t as bad as their opponent’s. RIP Shawty Lo.

Week 3 Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Marcus Mariota (Titans) – Oakland gives up the most in the air defensively so far this season. I think Mariota could have himself a big game.

RB: C.J. Anderson (Broncos) – Cincinnati has given up the most yards in the run game so far this season. Anderson has been an important piece for the Broncos offense.

WR: Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals) – Buffalo’s secondary has been so bad this season. Fitzgerald is making a big play for this Arizona offense each week so far. That will continue on the road this week.

TE: Jacob Tamme (Falcons) – Tamme has been consistent for the first two games of this season. Against the Saints secondary, Matt Ryan should be able to find him down the field for some huge gains.

DEF: Carolina – Minnesota might become one dimensional without Adrian Peterson. Even if they had Peterson, Carolina is tough against the run. If Bradford is forced to sling it while playing catch up, Carolina will rack up multiple turnovers.

NFL 2016: AFC West Preview

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Khalil Mack and the Raiders defense will make a playoff push in 2016.

By: Elias McMillan

 

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs quietly had an outstanding season in 2015 headlined by that massive win streak that they rode into the playoffs. I think that this Chiefs team going into 2016, will have a pretty good shot at overtaking this division from Denver since the Broncos may have not improved in the offseason. The Chiefs have a great veteran core, a great running game, and a great defense. Head coach Andy Reid will have this team ready for bigger things in 2016. I think the questions about QB Alex Smith going into last season are about done. I’m not saying that Smith is a top QB in the league but he is much better than what people believe. When pressed, he can make the big plays at times and I think last season he won the respect of a lot of people in that locker room. A big help to Alex Smith is that the Chiefs are one the best teams at running the football. Everyone knows that Jamaal Charles is the star but they have great depth behind him with Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware, and the speedy kick returner Knile Davis. I don’t know if the depth behind Charles is in result of just having good talent or if the Chiefs offensive line does an outstanding job but either way, it works for this team. The Chiefs receiving core is kind of boring outside of Jeremy Maclin. Maclin showed a lot of heart last season by playing through injuries and he is one of the toughest guys in the league. The Chiefs need someone else opposite of Maclin to step up this season. That could be Albert Wilson or second year receiver Chris Conley. Smith also has a pretty good connection with TE Travis Kelce in the passing game. Kansas City’s defense is strong up front and they had a top 10 run defense in 2015. Nose tackle Dontari Poe is the leader of the group and I think top draft pick, Chris Jones from Mississippi State, will be a great addition eventually. The Chiefs return the same great group at linebacker this season. Tamba Hali and Justin Houston maybe starting to get up there in age but they are still a top pass rushing duo in the league. LB’s Derrick Johnson and Josh Mauga are both good tacklers and pass defenders. Kansas City’s secondary received a big boost last season from reigning defensive rookie of the year, CB Marcus Peters. Peters is an interception machine and he looks to continue right where he left off in 2015. The veteran leader in the secondary, safety Eric Berry, is back and is fresh off a season where he won Comeback Player of the Year. The Chiefs have a great collection of talent in 2016 and they are battle tested. They should be able to win the AFC West and maybe make some noise in the post season. Prediction: 11-5 (AFC West Champs)

Oakland Raiders – Coming off a 7-9 season, the Raiders actually have some momentum going into 2016. They have assembled a young talented roster but they still have some holes that need to be filled. I think this Raiders team is going to be good this year mainly because of their defense. I’m not entirely sure if the Raiders have made the transition from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense but the moves they have made in the offseason do reflect that. Either way, they have drafted very smart and they have brought it some key veteran players. On the defensive line, they have a couple of guys that fit the 3-4 scheme as big bodied, run stuffers. DT’s Dan Williams and Justin Ellis offer a lot of size inside and rookie Jihad Ward will offer athleticism inside as a defensive end. There is also some hope that second year DE Mario Edwards Jr. will improve this season. The Raiders have the players at defensive line but the real standouts will be the pass rushers. Khalil Mack had a standout 2015 and he has the ability to be the next Von Miller. In a 4-3 defense, Mack was moved around a lot and did well. But he really excelled at creating pressure in the backfield. In a 3-4 defense, Mack would have more opportunities at getting to the QB and I believe that this is the plan for 2016. I think the offseason signing of OLB Bruce Irvin supports that scheme change. Irvin played in a 4-3 defense in Seattle but he is probably more suited as an outside rusher in a 3-4 defense. With Mack on the opposite side, Irvin is going to have the chance to be an impact player in this defense. The Raiders have had a big hole in their secondary for years now. This offseason they brought in a couple veterans and some young guys that might be able to turn this unit around. CB Sean Smith was a good player in Kansas City and former first round pick D.J. Hayden is coming off his best season as a pro. Charles Woodson retired but Oakland will attempt to replace him with seasoned vet, Reggie Nelson. Nelson isn’t the player that Woodson was obviously, but he is a ball hawk with a knack for creating big time turnovers. Nelson will be paired with this year’s first round pick, safety Karl Joseph. I thought Joseph was a reach in the first round for Oakland but the guy is a heat seeking missile when it comes to ball carriers. The combo of Nelson and Joseph will be perfect for this defense as both bring that playmaking potential on each down. On offense, the Raiders have the QB and WR positions figured out at least. QB David Carr hasn’t put up monster numbers yet but he is the young leader of this offense. Carr has a great set of reliable receivers in veteran Michael Crabtree and second year standout Amari Cooper. The combination of AC/DC has already become a popular one for Raiders fans. What worries me about the Raiders offense is that I don’t think they are strong up front and I think that is holding back Carr and especially the running game. RB Latavius Murray had a decent 2015 season but I think he could be better if the Raiders had a better offensive line. The Raiders don’t have great depth behind Murray at RB. Rookie DeAndre Washington led the Big 12 in rushing last year and he might be called upon early in his career. The Raiders are also really lacking at the TE position. Mychal Rivera isn’t dynamic to give Carr a reliable target in the passing game. I expect this Raiders defense to be a monster and I think Oakland could possibly ride it into the team’s first post-season berth since 2002. But they need to fill some holes on the offensive side of the ball if they want to return to being the dominant team in this division. Prediction: 9-7 (Wildcard)

Denver Broncos – It’s hard for champions to repeat especially in the NFL. Denver is going to have a tough time bucking that logic in 2016. Denver still has a lot of the talent pieces from last year’s championship run but they also lost a few and the division they play in has improved. Denver was able to ride their defense to a championship a season ago and it looks like the defense will have to be the vocal point once again in 2016. Peyton Manning wasn’t his old self last season but his presence and his knowledge of the offense was able to get the most out of what he was able to do. I don’t think Denver has a QB on the roster right now that can be as valuable as Manning was to the offense last season. Manning looked bad at times in his final season but I think he’ll look better than what Denver has to offer at QB in 2016. Mark Sanchez is a veteran whose best days are behind him. Trevor Siemian hasn’t taken a snap in the regular season. And first round pick, Paxton Lynch, may not be ready to start on day one. Denver also lost multiple starters on the offensive line so, they may be in trouble when it comes to pass protection and run blocking. The QB will have to lean heavy on RB’s C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are talented receivers but their impact on the game will be lower this season because of the situation at QB. On defense, they may have lost Malik Jackson in free agency but I think they’ll still be pretty solid up front with Derek Wolfe and Sylvester Williams. Of course, the star of the defense is Von Miller who is the best pass rusher in football right now. Miller paired with DeMarcus Ware proved to be a deadly combo during the last post season and they will hope to pick up where they left off in 2016. Ware does have an injury history but Shane Ray is waiting in the wings as his heir apparent. Denver’s secondary could be a mixed bag this year too. Last season, CB’s Chris Harris and Bradley Roby proved their worth but that group will miss Aqib Talib who is facing a possible suspension and is battling his own injury problems. As the case for most good movies, the sequel wont be as good as the original. I don’t think Denver is going to fall off the face of the earth but they wont be contenders with that messy QB situation. They should have pulled the trigger on that purposed Colin Kaepernick trade. Prediction: 8-8

San Diego Chargers – The Chargers could potentially climb out of the AFC West basement in 2016 but I don’t see it happening. There are too many question marks on both sides of the ball and I think that the mismanagement from the front office is starting to affect the team. On paper, I think San Diego should be strong offensively. The only thing really missing on offense is a consistent run game. At QB, Phillip Rivers returns for another season as one of the most overlooked players in the league. Rivers can throw it with the best of them and this year he’ll have a pretty talented core of WR’s. I like the pairing of WR’s Kellen Allen and free agent acquisition Travis Benjamin as one serves as a tough possession and the other is a speedy game breaker. I also like the idea of veteran WR James Jones serving as a third option for Rivers. This is a role that Jones excelled at in Green Bay. Of course, Rivers will have Antonio Gates to throw to again at the TE position. But also look out for rookie Hunter Henry who will have a role at the second TE. The Chargers have drafted well up front and have brought in free agents in the past to help bolster that offensive line. Despite that, the running game has been such a major disappointment. San Diego has a decent collection of RB’s but second year player, Melvin Gordon, has to prove this season that he can be the guy in the backfield for this team. Danny Woodhead and Branden Oliver are good complementary players at RB but Gordon has to prove that he was worth that first round pick from a season ago. On defense, the Chargers have a lot of talent but they have been inconsistent at all three phases. They don’t stop the run, they don’t get to the QB often enough, and the secondary will definetly be hurting without safety Eric Weddle. This years first round pick, Joey Bosa, was suppose to be a big help upfront at stopping run and creating pressure in the backfield. But the front office has screwed up the process of getting him signed much like other first rounders under this regime. Who knows if the Bosa holdout will last the entire season but I think the affects of it will cause division in the locker room. The Chargers struggle at stopping the run but they do have a pair of decent pass rushers in Melvin Ingram and Jeremiah Attaochu. Inside at linebacker, Manti Te’o and Denzel Perryman need to become the stars that they were in college to help improve the run defense. In the secondary, I actually like the two starters, Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett. I don’t know if Dwight Lowery can replace Weddle at safety for this team but he might provide some needed veteran leadership. I expect this Chargers team to compete hard for those fans in San Diego this season. But I think they will lack the consistency on both sides of the ball to compete for a playoff berth. I’m looking forward to these two victories for the Chargers in 2016: 1) Joey Bosa ending his holdout & 2) San Diego getting a stadium deal done. Prediction: 6-10