Tag Archives: New York Giants

NFL 2017: Mid-Season Report

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At the midway point of the 2017 season, a all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl doesn’t seem like a crazy idea.

By: Elias McMillan

 

We have seen some surprises and disappointments so far this 2017 season. Here’s my list. Also, I had to change my original Super Bowl prediction of Falcons-Raiders from last August.

 

Top 5 Surprising Teams

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (8-1) – The Eagles look right now like the class of the NFC. Their young QB, Carson Wentz, is leading an explosive offensive attack that can create big plays on the ground and thru the air. On defense, the Eagles are strong up front against the run and can get after the QB. Time will tell if this Eagles team is for real or not. They’ve had a cakewalk of a schedule so far this season and they still have remaining games against Dallas, Seattle, and much improved Los Angeles.
  2. New Orleans Saints (6-2) – The Saints are the sleeper team in the NFC South that Tampa Bay was suppose to be this year. QB Drew Brees is still getting the job done despite his age and he is receiving great support from his running backs. Defense has been the main issue in New Orleans for years now but we are seeing a much-improved secondary in 2017.
  3. Los Angeles Rams (6-2) – The Rams has had the individual talent on the roster for a while now. But this year, they are finally putting it together to where they might actually be a playoff team. RB Todd Gurley and DT Aaron Donald continue to be great but that young defense is really beginning to thrive under coordinator Wade Phillips and QB Jared Goff is having a bounce back season after a tough rookie campaign.
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-3) – Jacksonville’s defense has become good enough where it is single handedly winning games for the team. The Jaguars are loaded with talent across the board defensively and they are now witnessing the fruits of their draft labor. If the offense can do just a little more than the minimum, Sacksonville will win the AFC South.
  5. New York Jets (4-5) – The Jets were supposed to win three games this year. At the half waypoint, they have four. You have to give head coach Todd Bowles credit for what he has been able to do with this roster. They are giving maximum effort each week and it shows. The Jets wont make the playoffs this year but I really hope they stick with the coaching brain trust that they currently have.

 

Top 5 Disappointing Teams

  1. Oakland Raiders (4-5) – The Raiders were my Super Bowl pick but they look like a mess right now. The defense has really disappointed and QB Derek Carr isnt getting much from his offensive line. Oakland has enough talent to turn their season around but it doesn’t seem likely.
  2. New York Giants (1-7) – Even before the injuries, the Giants were a mess from Jump Street in 2017. The offense is in crisis mode without Odell Beckham Jr. and it look like they are starting to prepare for life without Eli Manning. I thought New York at least had a promising defense at the beginning of the season but they have also been a massive letdown.
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6) – Tampa was my sleeper in the NFC South. I thought QB Jameis Winston would blossom with all the talent they surrounded him with in the offseason. Instead, Winston and the entire offense have struggled. Tampa also isn’t getting much from their defense either. I wonder who will receive most of the blame at season’s end: the head coach or the QB?
  4. Atlanta Falcons (4-4) – Atlanta is still in the hunt for a playoff berth but they have massively under performed this season. Despite having the talent on both sides of the ball, the offense has yet to find consistency and the defense is not closing out game in the second half. Atlanta will have to start playing with some urgency in the second half of the season.
  5. Arizona Cardinals (4-4) – I had Arizona as a playoff team before the season started. Their struggles can be accounted for different reason. Losing their best player, RB David Johnson, hurt. But to add on to that, they also lose starting QB Carson Palmer. Injuries happen but the real disappointment with this team lies on the defense. OLB Chandler Jones is having a great season as one of the leading pass rushers in the league. But the rest of the defense, especially the secondary, has really let this team down so far this year.

 

Mid Season Awards

MVP: Carson Wentz (QB – Philadelphia) – Wentz has been very impressive so far this year and his team has the best record in football.

Offensive MVP: Tom Brady (QB – New England) – The ageless one continues to lead the league in passing categories. New England remains so confident in him that they traded away his back up.

Defensive MVP: Calais Campbell (DT – Jacksonville) – We have to give someone credit for helping the Jacksonville defense take that next step. Calais Campbell has provided leadership with that group while being on the league leaders in sacks at the halfway point of the season.

My REVISED Pick of Super Bowl 52

In the AFC, I think it is Pittsburgh’s conference to lose. The Steelers have had the best roster in the AFC for some years now but for one reason or another, they haven’t been able to put it together in January. With Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement looming, the Steelers have to get it done this season. New England will meet Pittsburgh again in the playoffs but I think Pittsburgh is able to finally slay their “dragon” this postseason if they are healthy. In the NFC, I see a wide-open field. Everyone loves Philadelphia right now but they have had a cake schedule so far. We will see how good they really are, as we get closer to the postseason. Minnesota could be a sleeper. They have a great defense and Teddy Bridgewater will be returning at QB soon. I’m not sure if I’m ready to take New Orleans seriously yet. In the West, Seattle just dropped two straight at home, which literally never happens. And can’t fully trust the LA Rams with their inconsistent offense. I love the idea of Dallas wrecking stuff as a wildcard in the playoffs but I’m not entirely sure if they will even make the playoffs. Despite their recent struggles and because there was no way I was going to pick the Eagles, I’ll go with Seattle because their defense can still be good when it wants to. REVISED Super Bowl 52 Prediction: Steelers over Seahawks

 

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NFL 2017: Week 3 Predictions!

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What’s wrong with the Giants? I’m not sure. But they better have it figured out before their trip to Philly on Sunday.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 12-4

Season: 19-12

Big Five Games of the Week

Atlanta @ Detroit – The Lions have played well in the first 2 weeks of the season but I think they’ll face their biggest test yet in the Falcons at home on Sunday. I’ll give the Lions defense credit for limiting the Giants and Cardinals on offense but I think their defense will have its hands full with what Atlanta has to offer. A win here, even at home, would really be impressive for Detroit. But I think the Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense will be able to stretch the Lions defense in ways that Carson Palmer and Eli Manning couldn’t. Prediction: Falcons 28 – Lions 20

Tampa Bay @ Minnesota – So much for that strong start for Sam Bradford and the Vikings offense. Minnesota definitely missed him last week and it sounds like his status will be up in the air again this week at home against Tampa Bay. Beating Minnesota shouldn’t be an easy task for this Tampa Bay team but they have high expectations this season and this would be a big road victory. I just don’t see Minnesota generating enough offense to win game without a capable QB. The Vikings defense should keep this competitive but the Bucs will make more big plays on the offensively side of the ball. Prediction: Buccaneers 26 – Vikings 19

New York Giants @ Philadelphia – It’s only two games in but the Giants look like a total disaster right now. The offense just can’t get on track. The situation at offensive line is tragic. They can’t protect Eli Manning. They can’t run the ball. All that talent at WR hasn’t amounted to anything yet. I think New York could still lean on their defense if they needed to but they need to get things figured out offensively before those losses start stacking up. Unfortunately for the Giants, they will be in Philly this week facing a team that matches up well against their current weaknesses. I expect the Eagles to set the tempo early with their defensive front seven and eventually, Carson Wentz and the offense should be able to wear the Giants defense out in the 4th quarter. Prediction: Eagles 25 – Giants 21

Seattle @ Tennessee – The Titans rebounded nicely last week in a game they were suppose to win in Jacksonville. Seattle took care of business at home but it wasn’t pretty against a 49ers team that won’t be any good this year. Seattle is having offensive issues early this season and they’ll face a good Tennessee team this week on the road. It just seems like a game that the Seahawks would drop. Prediction: Titans 23 – Seahawks 16

Oakland @ Washington – I have to give Washington credit. Their offense hung in there against a tough defensive front seven on the road and they were able to gut out a victory. They were aided by some dumb decisions by Jared Goff but that’s beside the point. Having a let down at home will seem likely this week for Washington as the Raiders are off to a hot start and they’ve already shown the ability to play tough on the road this season. I think David Carr and the passing offense for Oakland will be able to have a strong game. Oakland should be able to control the clock with their running game as well. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin will get after Kirk Cousins but it will be interesting to see if Washington is able to run the ball like they were able to last week. I think both teams will score a lot in this matchup and I don’t see Cousins out dueling Carr. Even at home. Prediction: Raiders 31 – Washington 27

The Rest of Week 3

Rams over 49ers – If you are making plans to watch this one, it is time to re-evaluate your life.

Ravens over Jaguars – London games are lame and the NFL needs to stop with these obvious cash grabs. Fat chance, I know. Silly me for buying into the Jags hype after Week 1 and picking them to win last week. Baltimore might be the least impressive 2-0 team in the league.

Broncos over Bills – Buffalo is tanking but they have enough defensive talent to appear to be competitive. This should be a low scoring affair. The Bills can be tough at home. This is a textbook trap game for Denver who is coming off an impressive home win last week.

Steelers over Bears – Here’s who the Pittsburgh defense has faced thru two weeks: DeShone Kizer, a rookie, and Case Keenum. This week’s opposing QB? Mike Glennon. Hashtag: Cupcake City.

Colts over Browns – Cleveland needs to win this one because Indy stinks. Both teams really stink. I guess I’ll count on the Brownies to stink more.

Patriots over Texans – Houston will not be able to out score Brady and the Pats on the road.

Dolphins over Jets – Cutler didn’t lose the game last week for Miami. That’s a good thing.

Panthers over Saints – Scratch out what I said earlier about Baltimore. Carolina is the least impressive 2-0 team in the league. If only, New Orleans had a defense.

Packers over Bengals – What will it take for Marvin Lewis to be fired? That will be a weekly question in Cincinnati this season.

Chiefs over Chargers – Kansas City got rid of some recognizable names on offense, they are dealing with injuries on defense, and they look even better than last season right now. This is why Andy Reid is valuable. Kudos to Alex Smith as well. He’s going to trick some owner to pay him a ridiculous amount of money next season.

Cardinals over Cowboys – Arizona hasn’t looked strong this season but they have a defense that can slow what Dallas does on offense. Weird things seem to happen when the Cowboys play at Arizona.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: David Carr (Raiders) – Oakland will need a strong game from Carr if they hope to win across the country this week.

RB: Kareem Hunt (Chiefs) – Hunt has been the breakout star so far this season at the RB position.

WR: Antonio Brown (Steelers) – Brown is off to a great start in 2017. Chicago doesn’t have much of a secondary.

TE: Jason Witten (Cowboys) – The old man in Dallas is among the league leading pass catchers so far in this young season.

DEF: Los Angeles Rams/San Francisco – Take your pick. The defense’s will shine in that Thursday night crap fest.

 

 

 

 

 

NFL 2017: Week 1 Predictions!!!!

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The Ezekiel Elliott situation could potentially hang over Dallas for this entire season.

By: Elias McMillan

 

First, here’s a look at how I’ve done picking regular season games in recent years:

2009 Regular Season Record: 169-87

2010 Regular Season Record: 157-99

2011 Regular Season Record: 162-94

2012 Regular Season Record: 163-92-1

2013 Regular Season Record: 158-97-1

2014 Regular Season Record: 158-97-1

2015 Regular Season Record: 163-93

2016 Regular Season Record: 163-91-2

Now, here’s my forecast for Week 1 of the 2017 Season.

Big Five Games of the Week

Kansas City @ New England – We will start the 2017 season with the top two seeds in the AFC playoffs a season ago. This matchup doesn’t have a lot of sizzle especially considering that New England has a home game scheduled later this season against the team they beat in the Super Bowl last February. That’s the matchup we need to see on opening night. Don’t get me wrong about Kansas City. They have won a lot of games in the last 3 years. But that team has no buzz going into this season. They are in the beginning phases of what could be a massive roster turnover. The Chiefs have a solid defense but not many offensive stars. The Patriots are reloaded for 2017 and they’ll be eager to give NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a good show. Prediction: Patriots 38 – Chiefs 20

Baltimore @ Cincinnati – Here’s an underrated AFC rivalry to start the season. These matchups between the Bengals and Ravens are usually 4-quarter slug fests. Both teams offer solid defenses for the most part and plenty of question marks on offense. I think Baltimore if healthy should be able to prove to be the better team but Cincinnati has the best player on the field Sunday in WR A.J. Green. Green seems to always find a way to show out against the Ravens. He will be the difference. Prediction: Bengals 23 – Ravens 17

Oakland @ Tennessee – This matchup features two up and coming teams in the AFC and two QB’s looking to bounce back from late season injuries from last year. I will be interesting to see how both offenses play with Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota. Will they play it safe and protect those QB’s with the run game or will they have the chance to rip it down the field often? Both of these teams are strong up front on offense and they should prove to be affective in the run game. I think Oakland has move playmakers on defense and that could be the difference. Tennessee has some weapons that may not be known on the national level on offense and they will be looking to let them loose on Sunday. This one should be very entertaining. I’m going to go with the home team. Prediction: Titans 29 – Raiders 28

Seattle @ Green Bay – The Seahawks made a monster acquisition just before the start of the regular season with the trade for DE Sheldon Richardson. I’m not sure how Richardson will fit in right away but eventually, he will make the Seattle defense even stronger than it already is. I don’t think much of the Packers outside of Aaron Rodgers. I don’t think they’ll be able to run the ball against Seattle on offense. The strength vs. strength matchup between the Packers receivers and the Legion of Boom should be a good one. The Packers will have a young defense this year especially in the secondary. I can see TE Jimmy Graham and WR Doug Baldwin taking some of those young guys to school on Sunday. I like Seattle on the road. Prediction: Seahawks 30 – Packers 22

New York Giants @ Dallas – RB Ezekiel Elliott will play on Sunday. That’s the good news, right? The Elliott situation is a bad one for everyone involved and there will be no winners. I think one of the biggest losers in this is the team Elliott plays for. His lawyers will want to fight the NFL to the bitter end meaning; this will potentially hang over the Cowboys all season. Elliott’s status for the rest of this season is still unknown so many Cowboys fans are thinking the Elliott will have a big game against the rival New York Giants. Well, the Giants did a decent job at defending the Cowboys running game last season and they return in 2017 with the same defensive front four. The Giants defense performed well against the Cowboys in both matchups last year but Dak Prescott and the Dallas offense will have that in mind on Sunday night and will be in attack mode. The Giants should know about the advantage that have when they are on offense. Eli Manning and his gang of offensive weapons will be going up against a defense that cant create pressure in the back field and a young secondary. That’s bad news for the home team. These matchups between the Cowboys and Giants are always heart wrenching. But I see the Giants having the advantage in Round 1. Prediction: Giants 34 – Cowboys 24

The Rest from Week 1

Bills over Jets – The competition for who can be worst this season should be a tight one between these two teams. This is an early season Toilet Bowl.

Falcons over Bears – Chicago will have their hands full at home on Sunday.

Steelers over Browns – Between the trades that were made earlier this week and the new that first overall pick Myles Garrett is hurt, I come to the conclusion that there is no hope in Cleveland.

Cardinals over Lions – This will be close. I’m going with David Johnson to keep fantasy owners happy in this one.

Eagles over Washington – I think Washington will end up as the better team this season but for Week 1, I could see them finding a way to lose this one.

Texans over Jaguars – Emotions will be on full tilt in Houston for this one. Jacksonville is pretty much guaranteed to use multiple QB’s in this game.

Colts over Rams – I feel bad if you brought a ticket to this one. Aaron Donald and Andrew Luck are two of the league’s biggest stars and neither will play. Snooze fest.

Panthers over 49ers – I’m interested in seeing how well this young San Fran defense can play. But the 49ers lack the players on offense to score points.

Vikings over Saints – The Adrian Peterson revenge angle is overplayed. Minnesota has a great defense and a great home field advantage.

Broncos over Chargers – This one will be closer than you think. It might come down to which defense can make the big play in the 4th quarter. I’ll bet on Von Miller but don’t sleep on Joey Bosa.

 

Week 1 Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Matt Ryan (Falcons) – Chicago’s secondary is a weak spot that Ryan and the Falcons passing attack will expose.

RB: LeSean McCoy (Bills) – Shady will shine against a toothless Jets defense.

WR: A.J. Green (Bengals) – Green usually has big game at home against Baltimore.

TE: Evan Engram (Giants) – I’ll show the rookie some love. The Giants will attack the Cowboys’ safeties with the young TE.

DEF: Houston – Jacksonville might be forced to sign Kaepernick after this game. J.J. Watt. Jadeveon Clowney. Whitney Mercilus. Thats too much for even a good offense to deal with.

 

NFL 2017: Preseason Awards & Playoff Predictions

 

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Oakland Raiders

Here’s a Super Bowl Prediction that is guaranteed not to come true. Maybe.

By: Elias McMillan

 

First, here are my picks for the 2017 post-season awards:

MVP: Tom Brady, QB (New England Patriots) – Despite missing the first four games of the season and not having his number one weapon in the passing game (Rob Gronkowski), Tom Brady still had a dream season in 2016. Going into to this season, Brady has Gronk healthy and an even talented WR core to work with. And he is determined to break the Madden Curse. I think Brady will turn back the clock again this year.

Offensive MVP: David Johnson, RB (Arizona Cardinals) – Ezekiel Elliott and Le’Veon Bell get most of the headlines when it comes to RB’s in the league but David Johnson can be just as productive. I think Arizona will continue to lean on him this season. Especially, with Arizona’s questions in the passing game.

Defensive MVP: J.J Watt, DE (Houston Texans) – Watt will probably will NFL Man of the Year with the work he has done in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. But Watt will also have the goal of reminding the league this year of how dominant he can be. I think he will have a huge season lining up opposite of Clowney.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Christian McCaffrey, RB (Carolina Panthers) – I criticized this draft pick numerous times since April. But Carolina seems to be highly impressed with what McCaffrey will bring to this offense. He will definitely get the touches in Carolina and his numbers will impress in his first season.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Reuben Foster, LB (San Francisco 49ers) – Its an absolute shame that Foster dropped all the way to the bottom of round one in this past draft. Foster will be playing this first season with a chip on his shoulder and will remind 49er fans of Patrick Willis.

Comeback Player of the Year: Earl Thomas, S (Seattle Seahawks) – Earl Thomas was pondering retirement when he went down with a significant knee injury last season. Now, he will have a chance to be apart of a pretty good Seattle defense once again. He will prove to be the most valuable piece of the Seahawk defense this year.

Coach of the Year: Bill Belichick (New England Patriots) – It seems like Belichick has everything. Its been a while since he has won this award. New England is bound to have a killer regular season this year so, why not?

And now, here is my forecast for the playoffs this season. As a reminder, here are the teams I see qualifying in 2017:

AFC

  1. New England Patriots – 15-1 (AFC East)
  2. Oakland Raiders – 12-4 (AFC West)
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers – 11-5 (AFC North)
  4. Tennessee Titans – 10-6 (AFC South)
  5. Houston Texans – 9-7 (Wild-card)
  6. Denver Broncos – 9-7 (Wild-card)

NFC

  1. Atlanta Falcons – 13-3 (NFC South)
  2. Seattle Seahawks – 11-5 (NFC West)
  3. New York Giants – 10-6 (NFC East)
  4. Green Bay Packers – 10-6 (NFC North)
  5. Arizona Cardinals – 10-6 (Wild-card)
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 9-7 (Wild-card)

Wild-Card Weekend

AFC: (3) Steelers over (6) Broncos, (5) Texans over (4) Titans

NFC: (3) Giants over (6) Buccaneers, (5) Cardinals over (4) Packers

Divisional Round

AFC: (1) Patriots over (5) Texans, (2) Raiders over (3) Steelers

NFC: (1) Falcons over (5) Cardinals, (3) Giants over (2) Seahawks

Conference Championship Sunday

AFC: (2) Raiders over (1) Patriots

NFC: (1) Falcons over (3) Giants

Super Bowl LII from U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Atlanta Falcons over Oakland Raiders

Recap: The Patriots might have been the number seed in the AFC playoffs last season but they were not supremely talented. They traded away many of their better defensive players. They had injury problems on offense. And they still won the Super Bowl last February. This offseason, the Patriots reloaded much like they did in 2010. And much like 2010, I think we will see New England slice through the regular season only to see them fall short in the playoffs. I think Oakland needs this season. That fan base in Oakland is ready to tear the city apart. They need one last shot at glory while in that city. I think David Carr will return this season and play at a high level. Oakland has some things to figure out defensively but behind Khalil Mack and that talented front seven, they’ll get after the QB and they’ll administer some revenge in Foxboro in January. In the NFC, I think we’ll see a two-dog race between Atlanta and Seattle. I have the Giants as a sleeper team because I like their defense and that have so many offensive weapons. But Atlanta’s defense is young and on the rise. Coming off of what happened last year, I believe Atlanta will ride a story of redemption all the way back to the Super Bowl. I know that Atlanta has a long history of folding under pressure. I know picking a team to return to the Super Bowl and win really isn’t bold and it kind of jinxes it. But I had to pick somebody. I think Atlanta can correct the ending from a season ago this upcoming February in Minneapolis. But then again, it is September.

 

 

NFL 2017: NFC Preview (Condensed)

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Dak Prescott has the keys to the castle in Dallas. What will he do with it? And can Matt Ryan get over what happened in the Super Bowl?

By: Elias McMillan

 

NFC East

New York Giants – I think the Giants have the best defense in the NFC East. They are strong up front with two passing rushing vets (JPP & Vernon) and a big run stuffer (Damon Harrison). I think they are weak at the LB position but they are loaded with talent in the secondary. New York should also have a sound passing attack on offense. Eli Manning will have a wide array of weapons to choose from this season with Beckham Jr, Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard, and rookie TE Evan Engram. The Giants do have question marks with their running game and offensive line. But I think they can outlast the competition in a tight NFC East race. Prediction: 10-6 (NFC East Champs)

Dallas Cowboys –For whatever reason, the Cowboys haven’t been able to string together back-to-back successful seasons too many times since the 90’s. And after blowing a great opportunity the change the narrative last season, they return this season with little or no improvements. I think the offense will be okay. I think Dak Prescott will not fall into a sophomore slump. There are some changes on the offensive line and Ezekiel Elliott might miss the start of the season but I think the run game will still be strong. And the Cowboys do return many weapons in the passing game led by Dez Bryant and the leadership of Jason Witten. On defense, all eyes will be on LB Jaylon Smith who missed all of last season due to injury but the Cowboys are expect big things out of. Outside of that, the Cowboys return a defense that cant create pressure and are featuring wholesale changes in the secondary. At this point, I feel bad for Jason Witten. I feel good about Dallas in 2018 though. Prediction: 8-8

Washington – I like what Washington has on defense. If they could just find some consistency on offense they could be a sleeper team in the NFC East. QB Kirk Cousins is a mixed bag but I like his gunslinger mentality. Many are expecting a big year from free agent signee WR Terrelle Pryor. Washington also had a nice big target for Cousins in TE Jordan Reed if he can stay healthy. Much like New York, offensive line and running back are where the question marks lie. Like I said earlier, I like many of the pieces on this Washington defense. They have already suffered some injuries on the defensive line and at LB but they wisely prepared for this in the draft. I’m interested in seeing how rookies DE Jonathan Allen and LB Ryan Anderson develop in their first years. Washington may have some weak spots in the secondary but they at least still have CB Josh Norman. Because of what they have defensively, Washington might surprise a bit this year. Prediction: 7-9

Philadelphia Eagles – Some have Philadelphia as a sleeper team in this division. I just don’t see it. Is Carson Wentz going to turn out to be a baller in his 2nd year? Maybe. He’ll have pretty weapons this year at WR with Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. The Eagles are still reeling at the RB position from the LeSean McCoy trade. Do they really expect LeGarrette Blount to be their #1 back? Philly’s defense will be pretty much the same from a season ago: decent front seven, trash secondary. I like DT Fletcher Cox and rookie DE Derek Barnett. In a best-case scenario for this team, I don’t even see them making it past 8 wins. Prediction: 6-10

 

NFC North

Green Bay Packers – I really don’t see how this Packers team got better in the off-season. A lot of familiar faces from the last couple seasons are gone. The Packers are in the transition of getting younger on defense with OLB Clay Matthews the lone veteran holdover. They let Eddie Lacy go in free agency. Ty Montgomery is talented but can he really be an every down back? But as last year proved, because they really weren’t that good either, as long as they have Aaron Rodgers behind center, they’ll be okay. Prediction: 10-6 (NFC North Champs)

Minnesota Vikings – I like this Minnesota team because Mike Zimmer has himself a tough defense on this squad. It was the defense that led them to a hot start to begin 2016. Eventually, they fell apart down the stretch but as long as that same defense returns, they’ll be in a lot of games this year. Obviously, there are plenty of questions on offense especially at the QB position. QB Teddy Bridgewater may not be ready until the middle of the season so they will have to ride it out with Sam Bradford for now. Minnesota will also be dealing with a couple of new starters on the offensive line. But I think they will have a better run offense this season even with the departure of Adrian Peterson. I’m expecting big things from rookie RB Dalvin Cook. Prediction: 8-8

Detroit Lions – I don’t even remember that the Lions made the playoffs last year. They really didn’t make any dramatic changes in the offseason. QB Matthew Stafford will give them a chance to win every week. The Lions are still missing consistency in the run game. Stafford has pretty good targets to go to in the passing game. This has to be the season where TE Eric Ebron proves himself as a legit TE in the league and not just an athlete. Detroit will be solid defensively, at least up front. First round pick LB Jarrad Davis will be counted on early in his career. And you could say the same about second round pick CB Teez Tabor. I think the Lions are a running game away from challenging Green Bay in the division. Prediction: 7-9

Chicago Bears – The Bears are still rebuilding but with a veteran head coach. Weird. I’m wondering if John Fox will be around to see the final product. After spending money on QB Mike Glennon for some reason, the Bears went ahead and traded for QB Mitch Trubisky. Trubisky has shown promise in the pre-season and Chicago might as well stop wasting everyone’s time and insert him into the lineup. RB Jordan Howard is returning after an impressive rookie season. The Bears have question marks at WR. Kevin White is healthy and he will receive plenty of opportunities this year. Chicago’s defense is a mess. They need to build that side of the ball up as soon as possible if they want to climb out of the basement in this division. Prediction: 5-11

 

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons – There’s a lot of talk about the blown lead in the Super Bowl and the hangover from that. I know that Super Bowl losers, especially in this fashion, usually have a hard time getting back but I think Atlanta may have something going. I think this way because I liked what I saw from their defense last season and I like the additions they made in the offseason. Atlanta has a legit pass rush with Vic Beasley and I think rookie Takkarist McKinley could make an impact up front as well. I’m a big fan of the young LB’s they have especially Deion Jones who had a great rookie season. Atlanta will also see reinforcements in the secondary with the return of Desmond Trufant who missed most of last season. Everyone knows about what Atlanta has on offense with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, etc. But I think the improvements on this young defense will really make this team dangerous in the NFC again this season. Prediction: 13-3 (NFC South Champs)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – For the first time in a while, the Bucs enter a football season with some momentum. This team will be led by QB Jameis Winston who has really taken on a leadership role in that locker room and the team has brought in. Winston will be surrounded by probably the most talented he’s been around in his career. Tampa is loaded at WR with Mike Evans and newcomer DeSean Jackson who can really stretch the field. TE Cameron Brate impressed last season but the team decided to really maximize the TE position with the first round selection of TE O.J. Howard. I’m worried about the suspension of RB Doug Martin but this Tampa offense will be about what Winston can do in the passing game. Tampa returns a solid defense led by DT Gerald McCoy. I really like their LB core. They are missing playmakers in the secondary though. I think Tampa should be good enough to make that jump in the post season in 2017. Prediction: 9-7 (Wild-card)

Carolina Panthers – The Super Bowl hangover was real in Carolina in 2016. I think Carolina is in a position to rebound and maybe return to the playoffs but they need to do two things. First and more importantly, they need to ensure that the defense can stay at the level they were in during 2015. And secondly, they need to get Cam Newton better protection and younger players at the skill positions on offense. They did the latter in this offseason and I’m afraid that wasn’t the direction that this team needed to go. I think Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel will do good things in their rookie seasons but I prioritize the line scrimmage over the flashy skill players. I think Newton will be able to use those young guys effectively but I’m worried about his protection especially that he is coming off off-season surgery. On defense, Carolina is starting to look old. They gave up on Kony Ealy and brought back an ancient Julius Peppers. I really like Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly but they both have injury concerns. Carolina may slightly improve from 2016 but they need to do a better job at protecting their franchise QB and getting younger talent on defense. Prediction: 8-8

New Orleans Saints – There isn’t much buzz surrounding the Saints going into 2017. We know they will pass the ball well with QB Drew Brees. Its too bad that they couldn’t make it work with Brandin Cooks but they did bring in Ted Ginn Jr. to take his role as the speedster at WR. RB Mark Ingram is the established back in this offense so, I don’t understand why they brought in an aging Adrian Peterson. Defense remains the main issues on this team. DE Cameron Jordan can only do so much. The Saints did make an effort on improving their secondary through the draft this offseason. I think the Saints will compete. But they wont be on the same level as the three other teams in this division. Prediction: 6-10

 

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks are still in the mist of a decent run in the NFC as consistent title contenders. But I get the feeling that their window is starting to get smaller. Which is supposed to happen in the NFL. You can’t resign and keep everyone for only so long. But Seattle should be in pretty good shape in 2017. QB Russell Wilson returns and Seattle continued their efforts in the off-season to improve his offensive line. I think the Eddie Lacy signing could improve the run game if he can stay healthy. And that’s a big “if”. WR Doug Baldwin is massively underrated and TE Jimmy Graham can still take over a game when called upon. This team will continue to be led by the defense though. The front seven is tough and can pretty much do it all. Pass rush, run stuff, etc. The Seahawks also still have the three major cogs in the L.O.B., Sherman, Thomas, and Chancellor. Prediction: 11-5 (NFC West Champs)

Arizona Cardinals – Arizona massively under performed last season and they return in 2017 with a supremely talented roster. On offense, RB David Johnson established himself last season as one of the top RB’s in the league. Arizona’s passing game is still dependent on QB Carson Palmer’s health. Head coach Bruce Arians doesn’t think much of the WR’s on the roster but WR Larry Fitzgerald is still as good as they come. Arizona has recognizable names on defense but they need to become an elite unit if Arizona hopes to make the postseason. They will miss Calais Campbell up front but Chandler Jones is still a pretty good pass rusher and first round pick Haason Reddick could develop into a difference maker. I feel that Arizona secondary under performed last season but that should change as long as Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu can stay healthy. I think the Cardinals have too much talent to miss the playoffs for a second straight season. Prediction: 10-6 (Wild-card)

Los Angeles Rams – The Rams hired a 30-year-old coach to lead the team in 2017. Maybe that youth can energize a team that hasn’t done anything note worthy in a while. Can second year QB Jared Goff show that he is worth his top selection in the draft a year ago? Can RB Todd Gurley return to form? Can the Rams finally get some consistency out from their recievers? Will the newly acquired Sammy Watkins keep the number 2 as his jersey number? Has the only player worth a damn on this roster (DT Aaron Donald) ended his holdout yet? Too many questions. Prediction: 5-11

San Francisco 49ers – Nothing quite says “we’re rebuilding” like saying “we’re rolling with Brian Hoyer as our QB this year”. San Francisco should be a complete disaster offensively this season. Its fitting that the offensive coordinator that blew it for Atlanta in the Super Bowl is now the head coach. On the bright side, San Fran is building a defense that might become a problem real soon. They basically have an all-Pac-10 defensive line and I liked the late addition of veteran pass rusher Elvis Dumervil. LB NaVorro Bowman returns and he’ll get a chance to groom rookie Reuben Foster who dropped right into the 49ers lap in the draft this pass April. Foster should have been a top 15 pick. The secondary leaves much to be desired but that front seven might end up being one of the best in the league. But with Brian Hoyer at QB, that tells me that this team must be tanking for one of the top signal callers in college. Prediction: 3-13

 

NFC Playoff Picture Prediction

  1. Atlanta Falcons – 13-3 (NFC South)
  2. Seattle Seahawks – 11-5 (NFC West)
  3. New York Giants – 10-6 (NFC East)
  4. Green Bay Packers – 10-6 (NFC North)
  5. Arizona Cardinals – 10-6 (Wild-card)
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 9-7 (Wild-card)

NFL Playoffs: 2017 NFL Wild-Card Weekend Predictions!

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Miami’s run to the playoffs started in Week 6 against the Steelers. On Sunday, the Dolphins will meet them again in Pittsburgh.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 14-2

Final 2016 Regular Season Record: 163-91-2

NFL Playoffs: Wildcard Weekend

Oakland @ Houston – For the second straight year, ESPN gets stuck with coverage of a playoff game in Houston that no one really wanted to see. Oakland was such a great story this season until about 2 weeks ago. Within that time, they have lost their starter and backup QB in rout to already being clinched for a post-season berth in the playoffs. Where Oakland goes from here is anyone’s guess. Houston has had its QB troubles recently too. Houston’s 72 million dollar man, QB Brock Osweiler, was bench about 3 weeks ago but because of a concussion suffered by his replacement, backup Tom Savage, Osweiler will be back in the starting position this Saturday. We have to imagine that Osweiler isn’t feeling too confident about his standing as the leader of the offense or as a competent QB in this league. The fact is that Osweiler hasn’t lived up to expectations this season. I’m not sure if Houston is going to need Osweiler to be great to win this playoff game. Houston has other weapons on the team that will make them a tough out for the Raiders. RB Lamar Miller had a good first season with the Texans. He was held out from the last two games of the regular season and he should be fresh and ready to go this weekend. Oakland will have to find a way to account for Miller as they ranked 23rd in the league in run defense. Houston is going to have to run the ball effectively in this game in order to control the clock and to keep Osweiler from making a mistake. Oakland doesn’t have a strong run defense but their defense can affect the game in other ways. Edge rushers, Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin, have made a living this season at creating chaos in the opponents back field. Oakland allows quite a few yards through the air but I like the way safety Reggie Nelson has been playing lately. Oakland doesn’t have the best defense in the playoffs but they have the ability to create turnovers that can change the game. After being down two QB’s, the Raiders will have to start QB Connor Cook on Saturday who is making his career debut as a pro. Cook is a real wildcard in this matchup because no one knows what to expect from him. Oakland’s offensive line has a huge task ahead of them as they will have to protect their young QB against a pretty good Houston defense. DE Jadeveon Clowney has finally emerged as a difference maker on the field with the absence of J.J. Watt. Oakland has had a serviceable running game this season so with Cook starting, we may see a steady dose of RB Latavius Murray. Houston has one of the top pass defenses in the league so it will be interesting seeing how Cook want to attack them with Amari Cooper or Michael Crabtree. In their matchup earlier this season, Houston outplayed Oakland really but they were on the wrong end of a couple of bad calls. I bet Oakland thinks that can play better than what they did in the last matchup but Houston probably has the bigger revenge chip on their shoulder. Oakland won 12 games this season and I think their playmakers on defense will be the difference. I’m taking the Raiders in a low scoring affair. Prediction: Raiders 18 – Texans 14

Detroit @ Seattle – In the second game on Saturday, we’ll see two teams that don’t look like they are ready to make a run towards the Super Bowl. Detroit squandered their lead in the NFC North to the Packers in a matter of 3 weeks. Seattle wrapped up the NFC West earlier but since the injury to Earl Thomas, they haven’t looked the same. Detroit still has its work cut out for them if they hope to upset Seattle who is usually a monster at home. But with the way Seattle has been playing lately, they are definitely vulnerable right now, even with the home field advantage. If Detroit can keep Seattle from controlling the clock on offense, they’ll have a shot at winning this game. Detroit has been inconsistent at stopping the run on defense but Seattle’s run game has been inconsistent as well. I don’t know how well Russell Wilson will play but Detroit will have to find a way to pressure him in order to keep him from making big plays. Last year in the playoffs, Wilson struggled in that first game at Minnesota but was still able to make the big play late to help Seattle get the victory. With the state of the Seahawks offensive line, I believe the Lions will be able to get after Wilson. Seattle is still pretty good defensively even without Earl Thomas. The Seahawks have a good pass rush and one of the top run defenses in the league. Detroit should have a hard time getting the run game going which will open the door for QB Matt Stafford to try to win the game with his arm. The Legion of Boom isn’t quite that without Thomas in the lineup so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Stafford find the matchups that will help him get his team down the field. TE Eric Ebron has emerged recently and WR’s Golden Tate and Anquan Boldin are more than familiar with the Seattle secondary. I think this game will be closer than what many people think. Detroit hasn’t won in a month and I don’t think I have faith in their defense to totally shut down Seattle offensively. A wildcard in this game will be TE Jimmy Graham who can destroy a defense’s game plan at any moment. I’m going with the home team. Prediction: Seahawks 26 – Lions 21

Miami @ Pittsburgh – Miami starting the season with a 1-4 record going into their Week 6 matchup at home against the Steelers. Who would have known that game was the start of a 9-2 run in the post season? Miami has had a remarkable and unlikely run to the playoffs this season and it is fitting that they’ll be in Pittsburgh on Sunday for this Wildcard matchup. People see the city name “Miami” and think, “Oh. There’s no way a team from Miami can win in Pittsburgh in January!” That thinking is common but couldn’t be more false. Miami is a ten-point underdog this weekend but I think they could stand a chance in Pittsburgh. Miami was able to beat Pittsburgh in their first matchup this season because of RB Jay Ajayi and the Miami run game. A great coach once said that a good run game is one thing that is guaranteed to travel with teams no matter which stadium they’re playing at. If Miami brings their running attack and is able to control the clock, they’ll be able to limit Pittsburgh’s scoring chances on offense. QB Matt Moore will be starting for the Dolphins and I don’t see him coming out with the goal to just air it out against the Steelers secondary. Pittsburgh’s defense as a whole has gotten a lot better since Week 6 so Moore will have to be careful and be selective about the shots to take down field. Miami does have more than capable WR’s in Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills. This game will feature two defenses that can allow both offenses to put up a lot of numbers but again; I see where Pittsburgh’s defense has improved. Not so much with Miami. I don’t have much confidence in Miami limiting Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, or Antonio Brown on Sunday. For Miami to stand a chance on defense, they will need to bring the pressure towards Roethlisberger for all 4 quarters. The Steelers have a decent offensive line but they’ll have a huge chore ahead of them on Sunday in the shape of DE Cameron Wake and DT Ndamukong Suh. I think too many things would have to go right for Miami for them to upset Pittsburgh on Sunday. Miami could slow the game down with Ajayi or harass Roethlisberger behind the line of scrimmage. But the Steelers just have too many weapons for Miami to account for. They wont be able to stop Bell on the ground and with time, Roethlisberger should be able to find big plays down the field against the Dolphins secondary. Miami could make it interesting but I like the Steelers at home. Prediction: Steelers 36 – Dolphins 28

New York Giants @ Green Bay – The second matchup on Sunday features two of the hottest teams in the NFC. Green Bay rode their hot streak into winning the NFC North last week. The Giants have looked impressive down the stretch and many believe that they could be gearing up for another championship run. I have to give Green Bay credit for catching up with Detroit and winning the division but on Sunday, they might match up poorly against the Giants. The Giants have done a tremendous job defensively recently and they might present some issues to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense. New York may not have the same pass rushing abilities they had when Jason Pierre-Paul was healthy but they playing well against the run and the secondary is also playing out of its mind right now. If the Giants can’t get after Rodgers, he will have time in the pocket but many QB’s have found it tough recently against the Giants secondary. Green Bay is going to have to figure out a creative way to get receivers open down the field. Another thing I don’t like about this matchup for the Packers is that their defense really isn’t good. They have had their issues this season at stopping the run and they are recently faced with multiple injuries in the secondary. The Giants don’t have a strong rushing offense but they do have some talented backs that might be able to find some space against the Packers front seven. And with a hurting secondary, the Giants and their talented trio of receivers should be able to make big plays down the field. Rodgers is the hot QB right now and he has powered the entire Green Bay squad during their run into the playoffs. Green Bay has been an overachiever in recent weeks so; I think they’ll be able to put up a good fight especially at home. But with the way that the Giants defense has been playing recently and with the state of the Packers secondary, I can see the Giants winning this one by the skin of their teeth. Prediction: Giants 24 – Packers 21

NFL 2016: Week 16 Predictions! (Condensed Version)

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Week 16 kicks off tonight with the Giants trying to avoid a trap in Philadelphia

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 11-5

Season: 139-83-2

Week 16

New York Giants @ Philadelphia – The Giants will be wearing their sweet throwback unis tonight with the old “GIANTS” script on the helmets. The Eagles will be wearing all black, which sucks and makes no sense. Why cant the Eagles bring back their Kelly green uniforms just to match the spirit of New York’s throwbacks. Anyways, the Eagles stink this year but they have a great chance to play spoiler in tonight’s matchup. The Giants are on a roll right now and I expect them to win tonight but I wouldn’t be surprised if Philadelphia comes out pulling all the stops in this game. Strange things can happen in these Thursday night games. My Pick: Giants

Miami @ Buffalo – The Bills are holding on to slim playoff hopes while the Dolphins are trying to hang on to theirs. Buffalo in December can be a rough place for opposing teams especially for backup QBs. I know that Matt Moore played well last week but Miami will not be able to win this game passing in the cold, Western NY air. This matchup will be about the RB’s. I’ll take LeSean McCoy over Jay Ajayi. Plus, Miami’s run defense is garbage. My Pick: Bills

Washington @ Chicago – Washington laid an egg last Monday night. Chicago played Green Bay tough and probably has some confidence after that game. The Bears at home is an attractive pick but I just think Washington has the better team. It would look real bad on Kirk Cousins’ behalf if he gets out gun slanged by Matt Barkley. My Pick: Washington

San Diego @ Cleveland – The Browns have to win this game because they are not winning in Pittsburgh next week. They have to do what ever is necessary to win. They have to cheat, grab weapons, whatever. If they lose at home against a San Diego team with nothing to play for, they will go 0-16. My Pick: Browns

Minnesota @ Green Bay – Start spreading the news: the Pack is back. Aaron Rodgers! Cheese heads! And all the other stuff that the media loves. The Packers won a close one last week but they were able to comeback late and now they have one more obstacle to get over before having a shot at the division. Minnesota is done competing in football games. To not show up at home despite playing well in that new stadium all year was inexcusable. Not even the return of Adrian Peterson could spark their offense. Minnesota can’t even lean on their defense right now. I think Green Bay should roll at home. My Pick: Packers

New York Jets @ New England – The Jets usually play New England tough at the end of the season but they stink this year. New England will take care of business at home. My Pick: Patriots

Atlanta @ Carolina – I loved the way Carolina continues to play hard for their coaches despite having a horribly, disappointing season. Atlanta has been hot on the offense side of the ball despite limited contributions from star WR Julio Jones. I think Atlanta needs a reality check before the post season. I like Carolina to score the upset at home. My Pick: Panthers

Tennessee @ Jacksonville – It is time to start paying attention to Tennessee. Another week, another impressive victory against a good team. After beating the Chiefs on the road, the Titans should be able to beat Jaguars on the road on route to the AFC South title game next week. My Pick: Titans

Indianapolis @ Oakland – The Colts are still holding on to slim playoff hopes but they need Tennessee and Houston to lose games this week that they probably will not. To make matters worst, they probably wont win in Oakland on Saturday. The Raiders are playing for a chance to wrap up the AFC West and a first week bye in the post season. My Pick: Raiders

San Francisco @ Los Angeles – I wonder how many tickets to this game will be given away as Christmas presents. Fans would probably better off getting a pair of socks. My Pick: Rams

Tampa Bay @ New Orleans – Tampa still has a lot to play for despite losing at Dallas last week. New Orleans scored in bunches last week and they will look to carry that over in this week’s rival game against the Buccaneers. My Pick: Saints

Arizona @ Seattle – Arizona did two things last week that I didn’t see coming: 1) get out scored in a high scoring contests & 2) lose at home in such a high scoring contest. For Seattle, it is the same story: Yea, we have our struggles but we are usually really good at home. My Pick: Seahawks

Cincinnati @ Houston – AJ Green will be returning for the Bengals but I don’t think that will matter. The way Cincinnati played last week in the second half at home against the rival Steelers show me that they have given up on coach Marvin Lewis. I’m not sure how well Tom Savage will play for Houston but it might be fun to watch him attempt to go above and beyond to prove that he belongs as the starter for Houston. My Pick: Texans

Baltimore @ Pittsburgh – It is a shame that we have to wait until Christmas to watch any football this week that is of any importance. But this Ravens-Steelers matchup will be as big as any this week as it will decided the AFC North title. The loser might still make the playoffs but those chances will be slimmed significantly. Much like the first game between these teams, this matchup will not be for the faint of heart. It will be ugly. It will be slow paced. And it will come down to the 4th quarter. I have much confidence in the Steelers though for multiple reasons. I think playing at home will be a factor for Pittsburgh and their offense is much more explosive than Baltimore’s. I think the Pittsburgh offense will find tough sledding against the Ravens defense but they will still have chances to maximize on the big plays that gets their offense down the field. I think Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense might have their chances too to do some damage in this game but I don’t really trust them. Also, the Steelers defense is playing their best football all season currently. It might be close but I like the home Steelers on Christmas. Could you imagine if Baltimore came into Pittsburgh on Christmas a ripped the team’s heart out in front a packed Heinz Field? That would actually be awesome to see but this Ravens squad isn’t built for that. My Pick: Steelers

Denver @ Kansas City – Kansas City had a hot start at home last week but then, they went into cruise control and that allowed them to give that game away late to Tennessee. Kansas City needs some time to regroup because they have a pretty big game on Christmas night against the rival Broncos. Denver is in a serious slump especially on the offensive side of the ball. But they might be able to count on their defense in this game as the Chiefs offense looked limited last week. I still like the Chiefs in the AFC West but Denver is fighting for their playoff chances in this one and they will give KC their best shot. My Pick: Chiefs

Detroit @ Dallas – Too bad for the Lions that they couldn’t beat the Giants last week. Because now, they’ll have to play a Cowboys team on Monday night that absolutely needs to win in order to wrap up the NFC East, the NFC’s top seed, and home field advantage in the playoffs. This isn’t the same Detroit team that Dallas played in the post season two years ago. Detroit does not have a running game on offense and on defense, they are not as strong up front as they once were. I would expect Dallas to be able to pound them on offense with Ezekiel Elliott and the running game. With so much on the line for both teams, I think this will be a good game. I think Dallas will force the issue for most of the game and will probably have a lead going into the 4th quarter. That is when I start to feel good about Detroit because QB Matt Stafford has a great rep for leading late comebacks. I just think Dallas will be too much for Stafford to overcome as he is really missing another difference maker to help him on offense. My Pick: Cowboys

Week 16 Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Cam Newton (Panthers) – Cam is still putting forth his best effort despite the season his team is having. Atlanta’s defense hasn’t been challenged in two weeks. Cam will change that on Saturday.

RB: LeSean McCoy/Jay Ajayi (Bills/Dolphins) – I don’t often pick two players but with the state of Buffalo’s and Miami’s run defenses, you really can’t miss with either of these two players this week.

WR: T.Y. Hilton (Colts) – The Colts will have to rely heavily on the passing game against Oakland’s secondary.

TE: Cameron Brate (Buccaneers) – Brate is becoming a consistent performer and a reliable target for Jameis Winston.

DEF: Tennessee – The Titans don’t have a strong defense but they did a good job limiting Kansas City’s chances last week. They should be able to handle pick-six machine, Blake Bortles and the Jaguars on the road.