Tag Archives: Morris Claiborne

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.

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2016 Dallas Cowboys Offseason: I DIDNT LIKE MOST OF IT

rolando-mcclain-nfl-dallas-cowboys-minicamp-850x560

By: Elias McMillan

After ending a season that saw them go 4-12, you would think that there wouldn’t be much optimism surrounding the Dallas Cowboys going into the offseason. But once you consider that the 2015 season was one of instances were a lot went wrong with injuries and etc., you could feel optimistic about the Cowboys having a great offseason to improve, get healthy, and be ready to compete in 2016. But months later after the season has ended and now on the eve of the 2016 campaign, I feel that the Cowboys really disappointed me this offseason. I do think that this team will compete in 2016 if they stay healthy but I was looking forward to seeing moves that would improve this team greatly. After the great success of the 2014 season, I feel that the blueprint was set for this team to not only just compete but to become title contenders. Going into 2016, I see Dallas as a team that isn’t on the cusp of being a contender but a team that will just “compete”.

I didn’t expect the Cowboys to be major players in free agency but the club did end up bringing a lot of players back that I didn’t expect back. Looking at the defensive secondary first, where I thought the Cowboys were preparing to move on from first round pick disappointment Morris Claiborne and free agent disappointment Brandon Carr. Claiborne was a free agent who they could have let walk and Carr was a candidate to be released due to his lack of production and his large cap number. Instead, Claiborne was brought back on a one-year deal and Carr took a pay cut to stay with the team. I didn’t hate these moves but I didn’t see them coming. And to Claiborne, Carr and the rest of the secondary’s credit, they can probably play a lot better football than what they’ve shown last season. That unit suffered through injuries (Scandrick) and an inconsistent pass rush. Going into this season, the secondary is a healthy, close group that will probably play better if the defensive front four is improved.

I totally understand why Greg Hardy was not brought back. He didn’t really handle himself well last season and he wasn’t the beast that he was in Carolina. But he does deserve a lot of credit for bringing out the most from line mate DeMarcus Lawrence. Hopefully, Lawrence can be the player that he was last season without Hardy. In terms of free agency, the defensive line was the only place where the Cowboys made any type of significant move. DT Cedric Thornton was brought in from Philadelphia and he should be an upgrade from Nick Hayden. Thornton and Tyrone Crawford should form a formable duo inside for this defense but defensive end still remains a major question mark. The Cowboys got word that Lawrence may be facing a suspension before the draft so that might affect their plans in April. Outside of Lawrence, the Cowboys were counting on Randy Gregory to have a solid offseason after a tough rookie season marred by injuries and suspensions. Also, the Cowboys brought in Benson Mayowa who seems like the forgotten man in the offseason. Mayowa was a restricted free agent but Oakland didn’t fight to keep him because their defense is going through a personnel change from 4-3 to 3-4. Mayowa showed some flashes as a Raider and the Cowboys are hoping he can truly flourish in a 4-3 defense as a pass rusher. The situation involving Lawrence and Gregory ends up taking a turn but I’ll hit on that later.

Jack Crawford and Kyle Wilber are underrated pieces but neither player is really great and I thought the Cowboys could aim to easily replace them both. Instead, they were both brought back on small mid level deals. I guess both players could prove to be valuable in terms of depth and on special teams. LB Rolando McClain was a starter for most of last season but he was a guy that I felt that you really couldn’t rely on. When McClain is at his best, he was a big part of the defense’s success. But with all of the big hits he provided, there were also a lot of plays where he would just miss, take a bad angle, or just tune out completely. LB’s are kinda like RB’s in the league currently in where it isn’t hard to get production out of a free agent for a year or so. For that reason, I didn’t expect McClain to be back but he was brought back on a one-year deal. My problem with that is that the team would be depending on an unreliable player to start again in 2016. And this guy doesn’t want to show up on time for mini camp or work out during the off-season reportedly. And when asked about it, the team gives a “family issues” excuse for him. The entire situation just seemed fishy from the beginning. Why would Jerry Jones want a guy like that back with his history of suspensions and just overall flakiness? Well, maybe the Cowboys can give him one more chance and draft his replacement in April. We’ll see.

On offense, the Cowboys were able to retain OG Ronald Leary, which will prove important for depth purposes. Last season, we saw how important in the backup QB position is. Since Dallas pretty much bottomed out because of that situation, I thought that finding a new, veteran with experience at backup QB would be a priority. The Cowboys did look but they clearly didn’t look hard enough. The one guy I knew would get called in was Matt Moore who is very familiar with head coach Jason Garrett and the Cowboys organization. Moore is up there in age but he is plenty experienced and would have been an upgrade from Kellen Moore, Matt Cassel, and Brandon Weeden. Moore visited with Dallas and left Valley Ranch without a deal. Days later he signs back with Miami. The backup QB situation is dire. Tony Romo is great and so is his offensive line. But he is 36 years old. Old QB’s tend to get injured playing in the NFL. Matt Moore should not of been able to leave Dallas without a deal. Instead now, the Cowboys are going to go forward with what they got, Kellen Moore and Jameill Showers. Two guys who are short on talent and experience. It is as if the organization didn’t think backup QB was an issue last season.

At running back, last season proved that with this offensive line, you could have success no matter who’s running the ball. Darren McFadden exceeded expectations in 2015 but I understand if the team didn’t want to fully count on lightning striking twice with him in 2016. Joseph Randle totally lost his mind and Lance Dunbar is a free agent who is coming off of an injury. I expected Dallas to bring someone in that the position. Alfred Morris signed on a two year and I felt that this could be a real underrated signing by Dallas. Morris is a veteran like McFadden but he is younger and probably has a lot more left in the tank. Plus, Lance Dunbar was brought back on a one-year deal. Dunbar was an important part of the passing game last season before he got hurt so I like that was brought back. With 3 veterans in the fold, I fully expected Dallas to take a younger RB in the draft but I definitely didn’t want one in the first round.

So, now lets talk about the draft where the Cowboys basically did everything I didn’t want them to. The player I wanted at pick #4 overall from day one was DE Joey Bosa. Not only he would have filled a need for Dallas but also his production in college warranted a high selection. Bosa goes to San Diego at #3 so there goes that plan. I never was on board with Jalen Ramsey because I didn’t see a fit for him on this defense. Especially since Dallas brought the entire secondary back in the offseason and they took a CB/S in the first round last year. I absolutely didn’t want a RB at #4 so I thought I would have found a team to trade down with. Shaq Lawson or Leonard Floyd could have been options in a trade down scenario where Dallas could have addressed the team’s greatest need. The Cowboys were in the position that they’re in this offseason because they’ve drafted so safely in recently history. Taking a RB that high in the first round is the opposite of drafting safely. It is a flashy, Hollywood draft pick and it doesn’t make much since to me. And if you listen to Jerry Jones and others who follow the team closely, it wouldn’t have mattered if my guy (Bosa) were available at #4. Ezekiel Elliott was the guy they wanted all along. RB wasn’t a big enough need to address with pick #4. There are plenty of examples in this league of how you can find young quality RB’s anywhere in the draft. Which is probably why they went ahead and took another RB in round 6. I understand the pluses of the Elliott pick. The Cowboys need to maximize the RB position to help Romo stay healthy and to return to the ball control style of football that we saw in 2014. But the Cowboys ran the ball pretty well last season without a young stud a RB. The Romo injury was the difference. So, maximizing the run game is more so to help Romo to stay healthy. Ok, I get that sort of. But then, they take it a step further and say that the ball control offense is going to help the defense stay fresh. I normally would agree with that situation but I don’t see enough talent on that side of the ball. Average talent that is resting up on the bench is still going to be average when they hit the field. Resting the defense will mean nothing if the talent level on that side of the football is not improved.

So in round 2, lets improve the talent on the defensive side of the football with a pass rusher or an impact linebacker that could replace Rolando McClain soon. They take LB Jaylon Smith who if healthy, would have been a top 10 pick overall. Instead, Smith suffered a serious knee injury and will probably miss the entire 2016 season. I get if the Cowboys see Smith as that top-10 prospect that will be a big time player for the team in the future. But the defense needs help sooner rather than later. Because of the smart draft decisions from recent years, the Cowboys have a realistic window to become title contenders. But with the first two selections from this draft, the Cowboys completely failed at maximizing those selections. And the Smith selection looks even worst now that McClain will miss more than half of the season due to suspension. Jaylon Smith might turn into an All-Star but how does that help Dallas in 2016? We cannot count on having impact players next year. We should be trying to field that best team possible as soon as possible. Thinking about the next season before this one starts is a loser’s mentality.

The Cowboys did address the front four in the 3rd and 4th rounds but how can we expect those picks to turn into major pieces this season? Dallas even took the QB that I didn’t want them to take. Dak Prescott was a great college QB at Mississippi State but if you watched him against top defenses in the SEC, you saw that he is limited by his arm strength and his decision-making under pressure. I didn’t feel great about Prescott’s pro prospects going into the draft and now I’ll get to see that process first hand as Dallas did indeed draft him.

After the draft, we’ve learned about how the Cowboys defense would be missing multiple players due to suspensions. DeMarcus Lawrence will miss the first 4 games after his appeal was denied. I don’t think Lawrence’s violation of the substance abuse policy was marijuana related so I’m not overly worried about him. Though, not having him for the first month of the season will hurt big time. Another DE, Randy Gregory, is also facing multiple suspensions. Gregory has a history with marijuana issues, which allowed him to fall into the Cowboys lap in the second round of the 2015 draft in the first place. Gregory was suspended last season for a violation and he was facing another 4 game suspension for this upcoming season. Last week, Gregory checked himself into rehab as he failed another drug test and is facing an even longer suspension now. Rolando McClain will also face a lengthy suspension this season. The entire situation is just frustrating. I think Lawrence might be able to bounce back from this but I don’t feel great about the other two. With Gregory’s history, I think it might be safe to say that his Cowboys career could be over. I completely understand why the Cowboys took a risk on Gregory in the first place. The defense needs quality pass rushers and they still do especially now. I don’t understand why the Cowboys took a chance on bringing back a guy like McClain though. And then they draft a potential replacement for him that cant play until next season? I just don’t like it at all. We could have and should have just allowed McClain to walk away. But instead now, our depth at LB behind Sean Lee looks mighty weak.

With the talent of the offensive side of the ball, I think the Cowboys will be fine on that side of the football. Getting back a healthy Tony Romo and Dez Bryant will pay huge dividends. If the great depth at RB paired with the offensive line does it job, Dallas will have one of the top offenses in football. But I’m afraid that this wont be enough to make this team into title contenders. A lot of people are saying how in 2014, the Cowboys had a worst defensive situation and they still got so close from making the NFC Championship. Well as a fan, I don’t want to “come close” anymore. “Coming close” is no longer a goal. Tony Romo is 36 years old and this team needs to maximize its chances right now. In 2016. We can’t just use 2014 as an example of success because it wasn’t. It was a great season but it ended in failure. We lost. How can we be a better team in 2016. I think the offense will be at the level. Maybe. But look at the recent champions and contenders. You can have a flashy offense but if you don’t have a defense that can create stops, you are not going to be a contender. I feel that there were several decisions this offseason that will keep this team from being a contender in 2016. And its frustrating to me because this team needs to maximize the years that Tony Romo has left. I feel that this team has done the opposite this offseason. If Romo can survive the season, I still think that this Cowboys team can win the NFC East. But anything past that, anything in terms of making the ultimate goal, remains a huge question mark.