Tag Archives: Minnesota Vikings

NFL 2018: NFC Season Preview

NFC EAST

Will the Eagles suffer a Super Bowl hangover? Probably. The health of QB Carson Wentz will be a concern. The guy played at a MVP level last season before his major leg injury. I think he can return and be the same player but circumstances have changed from last season. The Eagles lost pieces at the RB and WR position in the offseason. I think Philly still could win this division because their defense will once again be really good. But then again, it’s a tough road to become back-to-back champions in this division. The Cowboys did not help QB Dak Prescott in this offseason. They unceremoniously cut WR Dez Bryant and TE Jason Witten, who wasn’t a difference maker any more anyways, suddenly retired. Dak Prescott and the passing game in Dallas as a whole struggled last season and you can’t just blame that on one player. You can blame it on the awful play calling but also this: Prescott just has to play better. I think he can have a bounce back season but who knows. He’s going to have to prove it. But the bottom line is that this offense is reliant on RB Ezekiel Elliott and the running game. The Cowboys do not have a reliable big play target in the passing game and that is going to hurt them. On the bright side, for the first time in a while, there is real optimism surrounding this defense. They brought back DE Demarcus Lawrence on the franchise tag and he was a terror on the edge last season. Also, things are looking up in the secondary with the young corners they have. Dallas is one “Earl Thomas trade” away from maybe having an elite defense. I think the Giants made a mistake placing their faith into QB Eli Manning again this offseason. QB’s don’t grow on tree and Manning has the look of someone who is done in the league. But the draft pick of RB Saquon Barkley has many optimistic in New York. The Giants made an effort to improve their offensive line and they return a talented receiver core led by recently contract extended Odell Beckham Jr. New York will have concerns on defense. They traded away Jason Pierre-Paul and replaced him with no one. I like the trade for ILB Alec Ogletree though. Washington chose trading for Alex Smith over re-signing Kirk Cousins. That is such a Dan Synder move. So, vanilla. I mean, Alex Smith can be go but he isn’t nearly as dynamic as Cousins. At least, when it counts. Washington has many issues before the season has even started. Injuries at RB mean they may have to lean on an aging RB Adrian Peterson. The WR group is really average. TE Jordan Reed is really good but he can’t stay healthy. Washington desperately needs to improve their defense, which they have tried through the draft. They have plenty of young talent on that side of the ball but they need to start paying dividends sooner than later. Projected Finish (Playoff Team in BOLD): 1) Eagles, 2) Cowboys, 3) Giants, 4) Washington

NFC NORTH

Minnesota is great shape in 2018 because once again, they will be strong defensively. The Vikings were the big winners in the offseason, signing the top QB available in Kirk Cousins. If history can serve as a reminder, signing that the big name free agent QB can back fire or not exactly work out as planned. I don’t expect Minnesota being able to plug in Cousins and have a real dynamic passing attack. But Cousins doesn’t have the bar set high for him. He was really has to run the offense and not make mistakes. Minnesota has talented receivers but they are really more suited to run the ball. So, needless to say, I’m excited about RB Dalvin Cook who had his season cut short last year due to injury. Again, Minnesota should be pretty tough on defense. They are solid across the board on the defensive line, at linebacker and in the secondary. Green Bay’s success will once again be tied to the health of QB Aaron Rogers. Green Bay is not a good football team on paper but Rodgers just seems to lift this team out of mediocrity time and time again. The Packers don’t have consistency at RB or at the WR position. TE Jimmy Graham might prove to be a huge addition though. Green Bay’s front seven on defense looks old and not nearly as good as they once were. There is hope in the secondary though. 2018 draft picks, CB’s Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson, have looked really good in preseason. Detroit was mighty neutral in the offseason. They really didn’t do much to improve. This tells me that new head coach Matt Patricia is in the process of starting a massive rebuild. And that kinda stinks for QB Matt Stafford because he’s really good but his team is in no shape to compete. I think RB LeGarrette Blount will provide some stability at that position if he stays healthy. Two extremely under rated guys in Golden Tate and the emerging Kenny Golladay leads the Lions at WR. Detroit actually has a decent defense but they aren’t good enough to close out games. I feel like Stafford usually has to blame this team out a lot, much like Rodgers in Green Bay. I think the Bears could be on the verge of turning their franchise around but a lot is going to depend on QB Mitch Trubisky. He is going to have to show some sizable improves in his second year. The Bears have great talent at the skill positions on offense. RB’s Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen should form a great duo in the backfield. Chicago made efforts to improve the WR position in the offseason with the additions of Allen Robinson and rookie Anthony Miller. It will be even greater if WR Kevin White can finally stay healthy. The Bears might be held back by their defense in 2018 as they are still a work in progress. Projected Finish (Playoff Team in BOLD): 1) Vikings, 2) Packers, 3) Lions, 4) Bears

NFC SOUTH

The New Orleans Saints are legit Super Bowl contenders in my eyes. It’s amazing how fast they were able to turn around their defense. Now, it looks like they may be able to give QB Drew Brees a farewell swan song that he deserves. He will once again lead an explosive offense. RB Alvin Kamara is special player from out the backfield and WR Michael Thomas is one of the better receivers in the league that no one talks about. I also like how the Saints did not rest on their laurels during the draft and traded up to grab one of the best pass rushers. From top to bottom, the Atlanta Falcons probably have one of the best rosters in the entire league. It was true last season and it may be true again in 2018. That tells me their coaching stinks or the players are really lacking in the area of execution. Let me just run of some names from the top of my head: Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Devonta Freeman, and Tevin Coleman. That’s a solid group of talent to have on offense. Atlanta’s defense has plenty of talent as well especially at the LB position with Deion Jones and Vic Beasley. I’m afraid that Carolina’s window is slowly closing. Since the Super Bowl lose, they have refused to improve their offensive line and I think that will bite them again this season. Cam Newton can’t be Cam Newton if he is running for his life or worse, injured. I never was a believer in RB Christian McCaffrey as an every down back but he has looked the part early during this pre-season. Carolina is also missing a big play WR. Maybe WR Devin Funchess can be that guy or maybe newcomer D.J. Moore. Carolina’s defensive front seven will be solid this season as look as they stay healthy. Their secondary remains to be a weak spot. Tampa Bay is in a tough spot thanks to the Jameis Winston suspension. He is going to have to come back and perform at a high level if he hopes to stay in the team’s future. The Bucs have a lot of unproven talent at the RB position this year but that could prove to be a good thing. WR Mike Evans is one thing Tampa can count on offensively. Tampa has a chance to be really good up front on defense with the addition of DE Jason Pierre-Paul. They made an effort to improve their defensive line in the offseason and they may see that pay off sooner than later. Tampa also has a good group at LB. Their secondary needs work as they lack playmakers at corner. Projected Finish (Playoff Team in BOLD): 1) Saints, 2) Falcons, 3) Panthers, 4) Buccaneers

NFC WEST

The LA Rams were the offseason champs of 2018. That’s usually bad news but the NFC West isn’t as tough as it use to be. In recent history, this division was led by tough defenses in Seattle and San Francisco. Now, it looks like Los Angeles has turned into a haven for defensive talent. The defensive line was already good with Aaron Donald but they went ahead and added Ndamukong Suh. The Rams will also added a pair of playmakers in the secondary in Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. The Rams were let down in the playoffs by their offense so I think the pressure will be on that side of the ball to continue to get better. RB Todd Gurley will continue to be the tone setter for the offense. QB Jared Goff had a decent second season in 2017. He must show that he can continue to improve. The Rams bring with them in 2018 a talented collection of receivers led by Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp. Arizona is starting anew at head coach in 2018. They started the offseason with a clean slate at QB and they decided to go with the often-injured Sam Bradford. That decision may come back to bite them though they were able to draft Josh Rosen who may be the QB for the future. Whoever is at QB, they will be able to lean on RB David Johnson. Arizona is lacking a young playmaker at WR though Larry Fitzgerald is still capable at his age. On defense, the Cardinals will be tough to deal with up front. DE Chandler Jones led the league in sacks a season ago. Arizona has a good group at LB and the secondary could be better this year despite losing safety Tyrann Mathieu. There’s a lot of hype surrounding San Francisco this year but I don’t think they are ready to return to the playoffs. QB Jimmy Garoppolo has created most of that optimism around the franchise but they still need to add more pieces around him if they hope to be successful with him. I’m not sold on Jerick McKinnon as a led back in this offense and they are also in the market for a big play wide receiver. I like the collection of young talent they have in their defensive front seven. CB Richard Sherman is going to learn this season how hard life is without playing with the Legion of Boom. Thinking of the Legion of Boom, Seattle might stink this season. It might get so bad that coach Pete Carroll might be a guy who could be looking for an escape by the end of the season. QB Russell Wilson will be carrying this offense again with a lack of a running game and protection from his offensive line. The Seahawks will look mighty thin at receiver this season outside of Doug Baldwin and Brandon Marshall. The biggest difference for Seattle this season will be on defense, as they will look entirely different. Meaning, that they won’t be really good. Projected Finish (Playoff Team in BOLD): 1) Rams, 2) Cardinals, 3) 49ers, 4) Seahawks

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NFL Playoffs: 2018 Conference Championship Sunday Predictions!

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In the AFC, the Jacksonville Jaguars are looking to “steal the show”.

By Elias McMillan

 

Divisional Round: 2-2

Playoffs: 3-5

Conference Championship Sunday

AFC Championship Game

Jacksonville @ New England – The Jacksonville Jaguars are looking like the 2000 Baltimore Ravens right now. The Jaguars went into Pittsburgh last Sunday and punked a Steeler team that may have been over looking them. Jacksonville took it too Pittsburgh and didn’t let up. I was impressed with how QB Blake Bortles ran the offense against a shorthanded Pittsburgh defense. The Steelers scored 42 points and their QB threw for a bunch of yards but don’t buy into those numbers. Jacksonville got off to a 21-0 start and Pittsburgh was just playing catch up for the entire game. I don’t think the stat sheet tells the story of how good the Jaguars defense is. The Jaguars have one more hurdle in their Cinderella Super Bowl run: the New England Patriots. New England survived a sort of slow start against Tennessee last Saturday and was able to put their opponent away in the 2nd half. The Patriots will be hosting yet another AFC Championship game but this one could be a much greater challenge in comparison to past recent years. The Patriots are great again this season for all the same reasons. They have QB Tom Brady. He leads an offense that can score a lot of points when called upon. No one can cover TE Rob Gronkowski. The defense isn’t great but they over achieve at times. And they are lead by a master football mind in Bill Belichick. Despite all of this, like in season’s past, I still feel that the Patriots are very beatable. In terms of this Sunday, Jacksonville matches up well against them. To stop the Patriots offense, you better have a defense that can rattle the QB. Jacksonville has strong play up front. They have excellent LBs. And their secondary is usually good despite giving up all those yards last week. Brady may also be dealing with a bum hand so, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is tough sledding for the New England offense. Bortles played a game last week where he wasn’t going to be the reason why Jacksonville would lose. I’m not sure if the Jaguars offense will be able to be so successful this week. I think they were aided by the absence of LB Ryan Shazier. I said earlier that New England’s defense is suspect but they did defend the run quite well last week and Tennessee was barely able to get into the end zone for the second time until after the game was out of reach. Despite how well the Jacksonville defense may play, they will still need the offense to score points and I don’t think I trust them to perform well enough again in two straight weeks on the road. The brain trust in New England is still strong and I believe the offense will find a way to consistently get down the field. I think Gronkowski and the different RB’s from out the backfield may create some bad matchup for Brady to exploit. New England is the safe pick. No picked Jacksonville last week and I think they have a real chance to shock everyone again. But I’m not brave enough to pick it. Business as usual in the AFC. Prediction: Patriots 30 – Jaguars 22

NFC Championship Game

Minnesota @ Philadelphia – The Eagles did a great job at home last week grinding out a victory against Atlanta. I shouldn’t have been as shocked that the Falcons under performed, again, but I feel they still could have won that game at the end. It came down to Julio Jones miss timing on a jump ball in the end zone. Julio Jones. Not some rookie. Regardless, we have to give Philadelphia’s defense credit for limiting Atlanta’s scoring chances. They will now host the NFC Championship game on Sunday against a Minnesota team that is coming off a miracle victory. As awesome was Minnesota’s triumph was last Sunday, the Vikings have to erase it from their memory and focus up on the task at hand. Both of these teams are very similar. They both offer good defenses, solid running games, and receivers that are capable to creating big plays down the field. Its hard for me to read how good Case Keenum is but he has done a great job at running this offense this season. He could be the difference in this game because honestly, I’m not expecting much form Nick Foles. Foles didn’t make any mistakes last week but he will face a much tougher defense in this game. Minnesota and Philadelphia both have solid defenses but I think I’ll give a slight edge to the Vikings. They are much younger at key positions and I believe that they have a stronger secondary than Philly’s. I think Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen will have their chances to make plays if Keenum is able to stand in the pocket. Playing at home will definitely serve as an advantage for the birds but I think Minnesota has the better team on paper. Honestly, this game is a toss up. I’m not sure how strongly I feel about it but I like Minnesota to end their misery in conference championship games and therefor becoming the first team to advance to the Super Bowl in their host city. Prediction: Vikings 26 – Eagles 20

NFL Playoffs: 2018 Divisional Round Predictions!

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Philadelphia will have to ride their top ranked defense if they hope to advance pass Atlanta.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Wild-Card Round: 1-3

Playoffs: 1-3

Divisional Round

Atlanta @ Philadelphia – I guess I should be embarrassed for taking the Rams last week. The Falcons showed their experience and pretty much shut down L.A. on the road. Now, come a big test in the number one seeded Eagles. It is a big test for Atlanta because they are the favorites and now everyone is expecting to see the Atlanta team from last post season. I think Atlanta is different from a season ago but chances are they will probably get to their second straight NFC Championship game on Saturday. Atlanta brings to the table an offense with a ton of potential in the passing or running game. Philadelphia has been able to lean on its defense this season so that will be a key matchup in this game. I feel confident that the Eagles defense will do everything in their power to try to win this game for the home team. The Falcons have a pair of good RB’s but Philly is strong against the run. The Eagles are vulnerable in the secondary and it should be interesting to see if Matt Ryan can figure out a way to make Julio Jones a big factor in the game. I think this game will turn on the Eagles lack of offense. I have no reason to have confidence in QB Nick Foles. Especially when Atlanta’s defense is playing well. The Eagles were one of the top running teams on offense in the league this season but Atlanta did a really good job limiting Todd Gurley a week ago. I don’t think they will let Jay Ajayi or LeGarrette Blount get off too many big gains. I think Atlanta will be able to ride their defense and just get enough out of their offense to advance to next week while ending Philadelphia’s season. Prediction: Falcons 21 – Eagles 16

Tennessee @ New England – The Titans were a nice surprise last weekend as they came back from a 21-3 hole to win in Kansas City. They will have to get it done on the road again this week against top seeded New England. I think Tennessee stands a better chance in this game than most people are giving them. Really, I do. New England is New England. But they can be knocked off their game. They are beatable. I don’t have much faith in the Titans defense though. Shutting out Alex Smith for one half is one thing compared to going up against Tom Brady. New England has so many weapons and so many ways to attack. Tennessee will have problems with the Patriots balanced attack. Tennessee is really physical up front on defense so I want to see if they can defend the run well again this week while putting heat on Brady. I big part of last week was that Travis Kelce was knocked out of the game. The Titans will have to account for another dominant, pass catching TE in Rob Gronkowski. I think New England will have an advantage their. The main reason why New England is beatable is because of their defense. Marcus Mariota had a strong second half last week in Kansas City but he has been wildly inconsistent this season. Mariota has Derrick Henry to lean on and Tennessee has a pretty good record with him as the main option in the run game. Outside of Henry and TE Delaine Walker, Tennessee really doesn’t have a lot of reliable players at the skill positions for Mariota to go to. Tennessee may have a “fighter’s chance” but New England should be able handle business at home. I can see Brady having his way with the Titans secondary and Mariota will over extend himself trying to keep up. Prediction: Patriots 38 – Titans 23

Jacksonville @ Pittsburgh – Jacksonville’s win over Buffalo last week sure wasn’t pretty but it was definitely better than losing. The Jaguars will take their strong defense to Pittsburgh on Sunday to face a Steelers team they defeated earlier this season. Week 5 was a long, long time ago but I think Jacksonville can take a lot from what happened in that game and maybe find themselves with a chance to score a big upset on Sunday. There is a lot of talk about the Jaguars having to deal with playing in the cold weather on the road. But playoff football usually comes down to two things: defense and the run game. And Jacksonville has both. The Jaguars have studs on the defensive line that can stuff the run and pressure the QB. They have a talented group of linebackers. And their secondary is close to what Seattle had a few years ago, led by standout Jalen Ramsey. All that being said, Pittsburgh has a really good offense. We all know what Ben Roethlisberger is capable of in January. I do have questions about how WR Antonio Brown will look, as he will be returning after dealing with a lower leg injury. Even if Brown is rusty, Pittsburgh’s WR core is solid. RB Le’Veon Bell is one of the best at his position in the game but Jacksonville did such a great job against him earlier this season. I think this will be a game where the Steelers offense cannot abandon the run. Bell can lead this offense when called upon. I know that the Steelers are not a run first offense anymore but Bell need at least more than 25 touches. For the Jaguars, their offense is a point of weakness but they can at least run the ball. RB Leonard Fournette is ready for another heavy workload. He had a strong performance in Pittsburgh in Week 5 and this time around, he’ll be facing the same defense without its starting middle LB. I believe Pittsburgh could be vulnerable defending the run in this game but unfortunately Jacksonville can’t run it every play. Eventually QB Blake Bortles will have to try to look like a NFL QB in this game. I don’t think Bortles is the worst starter in the league but the Pittsburgh secondary will have to be really off their game for him to be able to do anything substantial. Much like in 2007, I think the Jaguars have the tools to upset the Steelers on Sunday but I’m not brave enough to pick it. It will be tough sledding for the Pittsburgh offense but they’ll find a way to outscore a Jaguars team that may have problems on their own scoring points on the road. Prediction: Steelers 23 – Jaguars 13

New Orleans @ Minnesota – New Orleans clearly outclassed Carolina at home last week. They didn’t add any “cool” points with the way they finished but they at least got the job done. I believe they will face a tall task this week in Minnesota. The Vikings are very tough at home and the Saints should remember that. Minnesota opened this season beating the Saints at home. New Orleans will be looking to reverse that result on Sunday. I like Minnesota in this game because of their defense. I think Drew Brees will not have the passing windows that he had last week against Carolina. Minnesota does a great job at limiting the run with their front seven. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram found it hard to find space last week and I think that will continue in Minnesota. The Saints also bring into this game a good defense. New Orleans has a legit secondary this year and they are coming off a game where the pass rush made a big impact. But I think the Vikings offense will be able to excel by just playing at their own pace while not trying to do too much. QB Case Keenum will use the running game to keep Brees on the bench but he will also take his shots down field as he has a top-notch group of receivers. I think Brees has an edge over Keenum but Minnesota’s defense has an edge over on New Orleans’. Prediction: Vikings 29 – Saints 21

NFL 2017: Week 16 Predictions! (Condensed)

Todd Gurley

Todd Gurley and the Rams are looking strong in the NFC weeks away from the post-season.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 12-4

Season: 132-92

Week 16 Picks

Ravens over Colts – Indianapolis allowed Brock Osweiler to look like a serviceable QB last week. Joe Flacco and the Ravens are marching towards a post-season berth.

Vikings over Packers – With Atlanta winning last week, Green Bay is eliminated from postseason contention and they are shutting down key players like Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams. Minnesota is rolling with plenty left to play for.

Browns over Bears – Cleveland gotta win this week. Because they wont win in Pittsburgh next week. I don’t want to see a 0-16 team.

Bengals over Lions – Going out on a limb here. Cincy has been awful recently. Detroit is fighting for a playoff spot but isn’t doing so convincingly. Expect a big game from A.J. Green.

Rams over Titans – I’m ready to close the book on the Titans season. Marcus Mariota’s struggles seem to be holding the team back. The Rams are getting hot at the right time. They could be a tough out in the playoffs.

Chiefs over Dolphins – Kansas City saved their season last week at home. I see more home cooking this week against Jay Cutler.

Patriots over Bills – I wonder if certain Buffalo defenders will be gunning for Rob Gronkowski in this game. Buffalo should stay away from that as a loss here in Foxboro could really be damaging to their post-season dreams.

Saints over Falcons – New Orleans lost their composure in Atlanta two weeks ago. They learn from that and bounce back strong at home this time.

Chargers over Jets – The Chargers still have postseason hopes. They may be slim but there’s a chance.

Washington over Broncos – Defenses will look good in this one. Kirk Cousins will do more to win it than lose it at home.

Panthers over Buccaneers – Tampa is too injured to play spoiler here.

Jaguars over 49ers – This is a trap game for Jacksonville. San Fran is playing well with Jimmy Garoppolo under center. The Jaguars defense must get in his face early and often.

Cowboys over Seahawks – The return of Ezekiel Elliott will be huge. The status of left tackle Tyron Smith will be bigger. Seattle got crushed last week. I don’t see them being able to bounce back on the road. Russell Wilson will have to win this game pretty much by himself. Not impossible but it will be tough for him with the state of his offensive line.

Giants over Cardinals – Eli Manning will basically be auditioning for Bruce Arians.

Steelers over Texans – Pittsburgh on the road against a bad Houston team. Get ready for all the “playing down to their weaker opponents” narrative. The Steelers will have to try really hard to lose this one on the road.

Eagles over Raiders – Oakland isn’t the team they were in 2016. The Eagles will dominate another weaker opponent this week. Sigh.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Cam Newton (Panthers) – Newton is playing well right now and Tampa allows the most yards through the air.

RB: C.J. Anderson (Broncos) – Anderson will get his touches with the Broncos QB situation the way it is.

WR: Adam Thielen (Vikings) – Adam Thielen has been a great story this season. Him and Stefon Diggs should have a solid day at the office against the Green Bay secondary.

TE: Antonio Gates (Chargers) – Gates is back as the main option at the TE position for the Chargers. Rivers will look for him in the red zone.

DEF: Baltimore – The Ravens defense will put on a strong performance at home against an almost toothless Colts offense.

 

NFL 2017: Week 13 Predictions!

Kirk Cousins

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

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 10-6

Season: 106-70

Big Five Games of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

The Rest of Week 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

 

NFL 2017: Week 12 Predictions!

Los Angeles Rams v Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota just keeps stacking wins.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 8-6

Season: 96-64

Week 12

Vikings over Lions – Detroit usually puts out a great effort on Thanksgiving but Minnesota is playing as well as anyone right now.

Cowboys over Chargers – This is a must win for Dallas. Actually, the Cowboys must approach each game from here on out as a must win game. I could see them dropping this one at home in disappointing fashion after how they looked in the second half against Philadelphia and the Chargers are starting to gain some late season momentum. But the Cowboys are getting some guys back from injuries in this game and they will play desperate on offense. Dak Prescott needs a strong bounce back on Turkey day.

Washington over Giants – I like the effort Washington is showing each week. They’ve struggled through penalty of injuries this season but they seem to be in a lot of close games this season. New York has been over achieving lately but Washington should crush them.

Falcons over Buccaneers – Atlanta is 6-4 despite under achieving for most of the season. They need a strong finish if they hope to return to the post season.

Browns over Bengals – How about a Cleveland upset for a pre-Christmas miracle? Maybe this one will seal Marvin Lewis’ fate.

Colts over Titans – Another upset here. Marcus Mariota did not impress me last week in Pittsburgh. He made some big plays but those interceptions he threw were on some really bad throws. If the Indy defense can press the QB, they’ll be able to score the upset.

Chiefs over Bills – Kansas City has issues. Buffalo has more issues.

Patriots over Dolphins – New England is playing as well as anyone right now.

Panthers over Jets – Carolina needs to show focus on the road this week after playing its best game of the year last week.

Eagles over Bears – Philadelphia might win out.

Seahawks over 49ers – Seattle is in danger of falling out of playoff contention. A lost at San Francisco would probably end their season.

Raiders over Broncos – Both teams are going through a tough stretch right now. I’ll give the advantage to Oakland because they should be able to put up more points.

Saints over Rams – New Orleans’ improved defense should be in full display against a Rams team is starting to struggle to put up points.

Jaguars over Cardinals – Trap game for Jacksonville as they are on the road against a bad Arizona squad.

Steelers over Packers – If Aaron Rodgers was healthy, this would probably be a scoring fest. It might still be but for only one side.

Ravens over Texans – This game will be the opposite of Packers/Steelers. Points will be at a premium. Eventually, the Baltimore defense will make the plays to wrap this one up for the home team on Monday night.

 

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Matt Ryan (Falcons) – Matt Ryan and the Atlanta passing attack will face the second worst pass defense in the league in Tampa Bay.

RB: Mark Ingram (Saints) – Ingram has been on a tear lately. He’ll impress this week against a weak Rams run defense.

WR: T.Y. Hilton (Colts) – The Colts could be able to upset the Titans if they attack them through the air. Hilton will be a key part of their game plan on Sunday.

TE: Zach Ertz (Eagles) – The Eagles should be able to find big plays down field against the Bears secondary.

DEF: New England – I didn’t expect the Patriots defense to look so good last week against the Raiders. They should be able to look strong again at home against Miami.

NFL 2017: Week 11 Predictions!

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Does anyone want to win the AFC South?

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 10-4

Season: 88-58

Big Five Games of the Week

Tennessee @ Pittsburgh – The Steelers played down to a weaker opponent on the road (again) last week in Indianapolis and still won. That’s pretty much going to be their story for the most part for the rest of the season. Pittsburgh has a favorable schedule down the stretch and they still have one of the most talented rosters in the AFC. They can’t act like they can skate by into the post season but if they take every game seriously, that will most likely be the case. On Thursday night, they should face one of their toughest opponents left on the schedule. The Titans are right where they were a season ago; in the middle of a divisional race. Tennessee has been under whelming for most of this season but they have to feel encouraged to be in the position where they are now. A win on the road against a good Pittsburgh team would set them up nicely. Weird things happen in these Thursday night games and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is familiar with the Pittsburgh offense. But Pittsburgh has a good track record in these Thursday night games and the Titans don’t have the defense to slow the weapons that Pittsburgh has. Prediction: Steelers 30 – Titans 21

Los Angeles Rams @ Minnesota – The Rams have an impressive 7-2 record as they lead the NFC West. They have a tough stretch of games coming up so we are about to find out how good this young team really is. Minnesota, on the road, will be one of those tough tests. Minnesota is managing to get by with Case Keenum starting at QB. Keenum is in an ideal situation right now with the talent surrounding him at the skill positions on offense and with the level the Vikings defense is playing at currently. Keenum just has to continue to drive the bus. If he screws up, Teddy Bridgewater will be ready. The Rams defense should provide a good test for the Vikings offense. But I expect the Vikings defense to really get after QB Jared Goff. Prediction: Vikings 24 – Rams 19

New England @ Oakland – This game is a must win for the silver and black if they hope to save their 2017 season. This game will feature two offenses that can provide big plays and two defenses that usually give up big plays. It would be nice if the Raiders defense actually showed up for this one at home. Whoops, I forgot. This one being played in Mexico City. It’s going to be up to Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin to provide the pressure to Tom Brady and keep him on his toes for all four quarters. New England’s defense is under rated but ordinary. Derek Carr has to figure a way to go toe-to-toe with Brady if the Patriots offense is able to find success. Oakland just doesn’t seem to have it right now while New England looks like they are just hitting their stride. Prediction: Patriots 36 – Raiders 28

Philadelphia @ Dallas – The Cowboys are going through a roller coaster type season ago again. After beating Kansas City two weeks ago, things appeared to be looking up. After last week’s beat down in Atlanta, Dallas has had to deal with a string of bad news. Ezekiel Elliott. Dan Bailey. Tyron Smith. Sean Lee. All possibly out this week with the one loss Eagles coming to town coming off a bye. Seems like a lot to overcome. The Eagles look like the toast of the NFC. The offense is clicking under young QB Carson Wentz and the defense looks as vicious as ever; especially their front 7. But the Eagles really haven’t beaten anyone. They are coming off their most impressive win against Denver but they aren’t really one of the stronger teams in the league this year. What Philadelphia has done so far may be impressive but I think the heat will be turned up on them during this second half of the season. The Eagles/Cowboys matchups are usually close ones. I think the Eagles will be able to pressure the Cowboys defense with the way they can attack through the air and on the ground. The running game will be key as Sean Lee will be out once again for Dallas. I think Dallas will show against Philly that they have learned from the mistakes last week in Atlanta. I think Dak Prescott will receive better protection. I also think Dallas will find success on the ground as the Eagles will also be missing one of their starting LB. The Cowboys will have a back against the wall mentality at home and I think they will respond well. I’m going out on a limb and being a homer. I like the Boys at home. Prediction: Cowboys 31 – Eagles 29

Atlanta @ Seattle – The Seahawks have issues right now. They’ve been mostly inconsistent on both sides of the ball this season and things will get worst with the lost of CB Richard Sherman. But it typical Seattle fashion, playing at home is suppose to be a cure all, right? I’m not sure about that. Atlanta was able to take advantage of Dallas’ handicaps at home last but I don’t think that are ready to turn their season around. They have under performed and I think the offense will feel the impact of the injury to RB Devonta Freeman. The Falcons pass rush had a strong showing last week and I think they can ride that momentum into this week and really get after Russell Wilson. But Wilson usually saves his best performances at home. I’m not very confident with Seattle at home as I used to be but I’ll take them this week. Prediction: Seahawks 28 – Falcons 27

The Rest of Week 11

Lions over Bears – Detroit’s defense has to perform better against rookie QBs.

Jaguars over Browns – Could Jacksonville really win ten games this year? It’s beginning to look that way.

Ravens over Packers – Baltimore on the road could be tricky. Especially since Green Bay figured out a way to win last week. I think the Ravens defense will show up for this one.

Dolphins over Buccaneers – I’m going with the better defense and that’s about all Miami has right now.

Saints over Washington – New Orleans is getting it done on the ground and their defense performed well last week on the road.

Chiefs over Giants – Kansas City cant afford any slip-ups coming off the bye week against a bad Giants team.

Cardinals over Texans – Blaine Gabbert vs. Tom Savage. Yuck.

Chargers over Bills – Buffalo would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. So, why change QB’s after one bad performance? No one can explain the thought process in Buffalo right now.

Broncos over Bengals – Denver is in a funk. Maybe Andy Dalton can help them out of it.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Dak Prescott (Cowboys) – Dallas is going to need big passing plays to beat Philadelphia.

RB: LeSean McCoy (Bills) – With a QB change, Buffalo should lean on Shady against the league’s worst run defense.

WR: Tyreke Hill (Chiefs) – The Giants have the 30th rank pass defense in the league. Hill and his speed will be able to take full advantage.

TE: Rob Gronkowski (Patriots) – Gronk will demand the ball against the Raiders secondary.

DEF: Los Angeles Chargers – The Chargers pass rush could be in full display against a rookie making his first career start.