Tag Archives: Minnesota Vikings

NFL 2018: Week 11 Predictions

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Chicago Bears

Chicago could get a leg up on the NFC North at home Sunday against the Vikings.

 

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 9-5

Season: 81-65-2

Big Five Games of the Week

Dallas @ Atlanta – This could be an elimination game for both these teams. Dallas and Atlanta have been inconsistent this season but for different reasons. Realistically, Dallas is right where they should be. They have a defense that will keep them in most games but an offense that has gotten better since acquiring WR Amari Cooper but is still not explosive enough. Atlanta has suffered through some injuries on both sides of the ball but they still offer a talented roster on paper. But they have the tendency to under perform or to completely no-show like they did last week in Cleveland. I think Atlanta’s problems lie within the coaching staff, which is clearly not getting the most out of this roster. I guess, you could say the same for Dallas but they nearly have the same talent on offense. I think both teams understand the situation on Sunday and that will make for a competitive game. Dallas will play tough on the road but I think Atlanta’s offense will overwhelm at some point in the second half. Winner: Falcons

Houston @ Washington – I’m a believer in Washington’s defense. I also believe that this Houston team, though coming off a bye, is capable of laying an egg offensively. But then again, I don’t really trust Washington’s offense outside of RB Adrian Peterson. I just think Washington’s defense will be able to make a bigger impact on the game than Houston’s. If Alex Smith can make fewer mistakes than DeShaun Watson, I think he’ll be able to ride that defense and running game in a low scoring contest. Winner: Washington

Philadelphia @ New Orleans – The Super Bowl hangover in Philadelphia is real. New Orleans’ status as a contender in the NFC since their opening season loss is real. The Eagles are facing a tough road if they want to have a chance to win the division and a loss here could pretty much crush those dreams. The Saints are on a roll right now with no signs of slowing. Though, they have played in some tough games at home this season. I doubt that Philly will knock them off. Winner: Saints

Minnesota @ Chicago – I think the NFC North will come down to these two teams. Chicago has shown flashes of a team that could be a contender but I think they are still a few years away. QB Mitch Trubisky has had some impressive outings but he still occasionally makes mistakes that could be fixed as time goes on. I could see him struggle against a strong defense but I’m not sure if Minnesota has that anymore. Minnesota lost their defense from last season somehow which has led them to under perform at times. I feel good about Minnesota’s offense though with Dalvin Cook back from injury. I think the Vikings should lean on their run game in order to keep Khalil Mack from dominating in the backfield. I also like Minnesota’s advantage they have in the passing game with the weapons Kirk Cousins has at wide out. Chicago will play inspired at home but I believe Minnesota has the better team. These teams do meet again in Week 17. Winner: Vikings

Kansas City @ LA Rams – This will be a fun one to watch. The Rams and the Chiefs will provide plenty of offensive fireworks. The winner may come down to which defense can produce the most stops. LA is pretty strong up front defensively with what they have in Aaron Donald and the addition of Dante Fowler has paid off immediately. But their secondary has struggled recently. I expect Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense to take full advantage. Kansas City’s defense gives up a lot of yards as well. But I’ll bet on Mahomes to out gun sling Jared Goff especially with Goff playing with a short handed receiving core. We also can’t write off Todd Gurley and Kareem Hunt’s impact in this game. Again, this one will just be a fun game to watch. Winner: Chiefs

The Rest of Week 11

Seahawks over Packers – Both teams are extremely average. Seattle is usually a strong team at home. Something strange usually happens when these two teams play.

Panthers over Lions – Carolina will be eager to rebound after getting punched in the mouth last week.

Titans over Colts – Tennessee looks like they are preparing for a run at the AFC South crown.

Buccaneers over Giants – The Giants are hard to watch on offense. Especially with all the weapons they have. It’s obvious that the QB is holding them back.

Steelers over Jaguars – It’s a shame what is happening in Jacksonville. They have fallen completely off the rails. Barring a letdown, Pittsburgh should absolutely smack them.

Ravens over Bengals – Baltimore’s QB situation could be an interesting thing to watch in this one. I know the Ravens will be able to lean on their defense against a Cincinnati offense that is struggling.

Cardinals over Raiders – Oakland looks worse and worse each week.

Chargers over Broncos – LA may have two teams in the post season this year.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) – Mahomes has played big in prime time games this season.

RB: Melvin Gordon (Chargers) – Gordon has been a consistent scorer near the goal line for LA.

WR: Michael Thomas (Saints) – The Eagles secondary caught the injury bug at the worst possible time.

TE: Greg Olsen (Panthers) – Back from injury, Olsen is once again Cam Newton’s security blanket in the passing game.

DEF: Baltimore – With no A.J. Green and a banged up offensive line, Baltimore’s pass rushers will be able to pin their ears back and get after Andy Dalton on Sunday.

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NFL 2018: Week 8 Predictions

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Justin Tucker and the Ravens will need to rebound quickly from a terrible loss last week in Carolina

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 10-4

Season: 52-53-2

Big Five Games of the Week

Philadelphia @ Jacksonville – Both of these teams are in a rut and are desperately in need for a win. Jacksonville’s issues on the offensive side of the ball have spread to a defense that is suddenly having issues with getting stops. The way the Eagles’ collapsed last week was a bad look but I believe they are still capable at producing more offensively, at least more than the Jaguars can currently. Philadelphia is banged up on defense so, I wonder if that will create a window for the Jacksonville offense to wake up. The Jaguars may stand if a chance if they can re-establish the run with T.J Yeldon and the newly acquired Carlos Hyde. I think Philadelphia can still prove to be tough defensively despite their injuries and Carson Wentz will be able to produce enough offense to win. Winner: Eagles

Tampa Bay @ Cincinnati – Tampa barely beat Cleveland at home last week and they lost both of their starting LB’s to injuries. Cincinnati has looked bad in the last two week but they’ll have a good chance at bouncing back if they can jump on a weakened opponent. I think Cincinnati’s missing pass rush will show up against Tampa’s offensive line, causing Jameis Winston to make some costly mistakes. Winner: Bengals

Baltimore @ Carolina – Baltimore played well enough to win at home last week but lost on a freak accident. The Ravens are an improved team this season overall but they have had some troubles on the road. They’ll face a tough opponent on Sunday in Carolina. The Panthers showed a lot of heart in their comeback victory on the road last week. I think Cam Newton and his offensive line will face a great challenge in the Ravens defense. Baltimore is much better this season offensively in the passing game. They have receivers that can make plays down field and Carolina’s secondary tends to struggle. I think this is a favorable matchup for Baltimore but I’m not sure if I trust them on the road. I’m also not sure if Carolina is able to pull what they did last week either. I guess, I’ll go with the home team. Winner: Panthers

Green Bay @ LA Rams – The Rams are an offensive machine and the Packers don’t have the defense to slow them down. Aaron Rodgers is capable of keeping up with what the Rams can do on the scoreboard but is his offensive line capable of keeping him away from Aaron Donald? Winner: Rams

New Orleans @ Minnesota – This is a big game for both teams but more so for the Saints. Minnesota has gotten the best of New Orleans in their last two meetings and I would imagine that doesn’t sit well with Drew Brees and his teammates. Good news for them is that Minnesota’s defense has taken a big step backwards since their last meeting. I expect the Saints will be able to take full advantage. New Orleans has their own troubles on the defensive side of the football. But even if Kirk Cousins is able to attack that defense, I think I’ll take Brees in that potential shootout. Winner: Saints

The Rest of Week 8

Texans over Dolphins – Houston is on a winning streak in the suddenly wide-open AFC South. Miami is a banged up team right now.

Bears over Jets – Chicago should easily win if Mitch Trubisky stays away from mistakes.

Lions over Seahawks – Coming off the bye week, I still expect Seattle to be weak on the road.

Chiefs over Broncos – Denver ended their losing streak last week and I remember that they play Kansas City tough in their first meeting this season. But It’s tough to pick against KC right now, especially at home.

Washington over Giants – Yeah, I’m not buying into Washington at all but the Giants have clearly given up on the season.

Steelers over Browns – I think Cleveland will play Pittsburgh tough again, much like their meeting in Week 1. The difference will James Conner’s tough running and Ben Roethlisberger making less mistakes.

Colts over Raiders – I think what has happened to the Raiders this season is sad. But then I remember how the organization is killing their brand soon by leaving Oakland in the first place so then I don’t care.

49ers over Cardinals – I don’t think Arizona is that bad on paper but the effort just isn’t there. I think they are better than San Francisco but the 49ers have shown more fight this season.

Patriots over Bills – Buffalo has been apart of some strange games on Monday night in recent history but taking Derek Anderson over Tom Brady would be a hard sell.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Andy Dalton (Bengals) – Tampa has the worst secondary in the league so why can’t Dalton have big game at home to end the Bengals losing streak at two?

RB: Kareem Hunt (Chiefs) – Denver has struggled against the run mightily this season.

WR: Adam Thielen (Vikings) – Thielen has been a delight to watch this season. He is currently your league leader in receiving yards.

TE: George Kittle (49ers) – Kittle has been the lone consistent target in the passing game for the 49ers.

DEF: Houston – I like the Texans against Brock Osweiler tonight. Miami is down a couple of their better pass catchers.

 

NFL 2018: Week 5 Predictions (Condensed)

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Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes is the talk of the league. On Sunday, he’ll face a tough Jacksonville defense.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 7-8

Season: 29-32-2

Week 5 Predictions

Patriots over Colts – New England is going to start playing good football again after another shaky start to the season. The return of Julian Edelman may help as well.

Titans over Bills – I was impressed with Marcus Mariota last week. Tennessee is stringing together victories with little fan fare surrounding them.

Bengals over Dolphins – I was just beginning to warm up to Miami but then they completely crapped themselves last week in New England. Cincy may be able to jump on them early if they take away from the turnovers.

Ravens over Browns – Cleveland was robbed last week. It’s a real shame too because Baltimore is playing well right now.

Packers over Lions – Not too confident in Green Bay but Detroit did lose at Dallas last week.

Jaguars over Chiefs – I think the Jaguars defense at the least will slow down Kansas City’s offensive attack. Also, the Chiefs have major issues on defense.

Broncos over Jets – The Jets looked so good in Week 1. Everything since then has been a disaster.

Steelers over Falcons – Two bad defenses here. Start Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger in fantasy this week. As for the game, it’s going to be a toss up. Atlanta has too many injuries in their secondary currently.

Panthers over Giants – New York is working each week to get better. That’s the nicest thing I can say about them right now. Carolina should be fresh coming off the bye.

Chargers over Raiders – Jon Gruden should be winless in 2018.

Eagles over Vikings – What happened to Minnesota’s defense? Carson Wentz should have a field day at home Sunday.

49ers over Cardinals – I like the way San Francisco fought last week. I think they’ll be able to carry over to this Sunday at home.

Rams over Seahawks – The LA offensive attack will not show mercy against the Earl Thomas-less Seattle secondary.

Texans over Cowboys – Dallas can not win on odd weeks against mobile QB’s. Yeah. That’s what I’m going with. Look it up.

Saints over Washington – To be honest, I like Washington here in a sneaky upset. I just don’t trust the Saints defense and Washington’s defense is underrated. It should be a close one. I’ll bet on the home team.

NFL 2018: Week 4 Predictions

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Everything’s all good in Steel Town now that they’ve got their first victory of 2018, right?

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 6-10

Season: 22-24-2

Big Five Games of the Week

Minnesota @ LA Rams – The Vikings absolutely laid an egg at home last week against a terrible Buffalo team. But I believe they can bounce back this week even on the road against a good LA Rams team. The Rams have significant injuries in their secondary and I believe this will give Kirk Cousins full range in terms of attack them through the air. LA’s offense is pretty capable as well but I just think Minnesota will be anxious to get the bad taste from Week 3 out of their system. Winner: Vikings

Miami @ New England – New England had their annual early season “are they done” loss last week. The Patriots will obviously bounce back. But not enough people are talking about this undefeated Miami Dolphins team. They are proving that addition by subtraction can work out if you look at the changes that they’ve made in the offseason, which are now paying off. New England’s defense is struggling right now and I believe that Miami’s offense is capable of attack them through the ground and in the air. Instead of bouncing back at home, I think New England will lose their second straight. Winner: Dolphins

New Orleans @ NY Giants – The Giants finally got a win last week but I think that may have said more about Houston than about them. New Orleans has been apart of a close finish in each game this week. This tells me that their defense needs fixed. I think the Giants will be able to put up points against this team but I don’t think that will be enough for them to win. If they are able to go “tit-for-tat” offensively, I’ll still bet on the Saints to win another close one. Winner: Saints

Baltimore @ Pittsburgh – The Steelers finally won last week so everything’s all-good in Yinzer land. Right? Hardly. Pittsburgh’s defense is poor and they almost blew a 20-point lead last week in the second half. I think Baltimore coming to town will be a good thing for them because they should know what to expect. These games are usually a tough-drag ‘em out type of contest. Everyone knows about Pittsburgh’s struggles on defense but I don’t think the Ravens offense is good enough to exploit it. I am looking at you, Joe Flacco. I wonder if the Baltimore defense will be able to make enough stops against a Pittsburgh offense that has so many ways to beat you. The road team typically has the tougher up hill climb in these matchups. Winner: Steelers

Kansas City @ Denver – Patrick Mahomes is the talk of the NFL right now and the lights will be extra bright on him and the Chiefs offense on Monday night. I’m looking forward to see how this kid deals with being chased by Von Miller for 4 quarters. Going into the 2018 season, I believed that Kansas City would take a step back this year because of their defense. The good news is that I don’t see Denver’s offense being able to push the issue against them especially since Case Keenum will be tasked with out dueling the hottest QB in the league currently. Playing at Mile-High can prove to be a challenge but I believe Mahomes and the gang will be up for it. Winner: Chiefs

The Rest of Week 4

Falcons over Bengals – Rookie WR Calvin Ridley is starting to become an x-factor for the Atlanta offense.

Bears over Buccaneers – Ryan Fitzpatrick will continue to fall back down to earth against a Chicago defense that will get after him. Winston will be the starter when Tampa returns from the bye week in Week 6.

Lions over Cowboys – I’m buying into Detroit’s performance last week but Dallas is a team that cannot score points. Last time I checked, you have to score points to win.

Packers over Bills – Green Bay is not a good team. Buffalo and especially rookie QB Josh Allen would definitely have my attention if they were able to win in Green Bay.

Eagles over Titans – I like Philly here in a low scoring affair. Tennessee is close to being down two quarterbacks. I think Carson Wentz will continue to feel more comfortable back in the lineup.

Colts over Texans – The talk in Texas maybe about the Cowboys’ struggles but what in the world is going on in Houston? Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt, Clowney, Hopkins, Lamar Miller. They are all healthy. Yet, Houston is winless. The hot seat will be on coach Bill O’Brien real soon if they go to 0-4.

Jaguars over Jets – Jacksonville is a good team that just can’t beat Tennessee. It makes no sense but it’s true.

Browns over Raiders – I like Bayer Mayfield to keep Jon Gruden’s Raiders winless in a road upset.

Seahawks over Cardinals – Arizona made the right decision benching Sam Bradford for the rookie Josh Rosen. But this Cardinals team doesn’t look like they are in shape to compete this year.

Chargers over 49ers – The Jimmy Garoppolo injury has taken the air out of the entire season for San Francisco.

Fantasy Picks of the Week

QB: Phillip Rivers (Chargers) – Rivers should have plenty of opportunities against the 49ers that might have trouble scoring points themselves.

RB: Kenyan Drake (Dolphins) – Many are waiting on a breakout out game from Drake. It could come this week in New England.

WR: Odell Beckham Jr. (Giants) – The New Orleans secondary is back to being bad. That should be good news for New York’s top receiving target.

TE: Travis Kelce (Chiefs) – Kelce is pretty reliable is playing with house money with how well the Chiefs offense is operating.

DEF: Jacksonville – I like the Jaguars defense to limit rookie QB Sam Darnold this week.

 

 

 

 

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

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