Tag Archives: Phillip Rivers

NFL 2018: Week 13 Predictions

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Michael Thomas and the Saints have won 10 straight. They’ll look to make it 11 tonight.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 14-1

Season: 99-75-2

Big Five Games of the Week

New Orleans @ Dallas – The Saints haven’t looked back since their Week 1 loss. They’ve been able to pull off 10 straight victories while looking like the team to beat in the NFC. The Cowboys looked dead in the water a month ago. Now, they are winners of three straight and are suddenly in the driver’s seat in the NFC East. I don’t think Dallas is in the same class as New Orleans this season but I think they’ll at least have a fighting chance tonight against them at home. The Cowboys have a tough defense that will be put to the test tonight by the passing attack of Drew Brees. New Orleans has been able to hide their defense with what they are able to do offensively but are lacking a bit in their secondary. I don’t think Dak Prescott is going to be able to beat them with his arm though. The Cowboys will have to control the clock and let Ezekiel Elliott dictate the pace of the game. The Cowboys offensive line is still banged up and the Saints have the talent up front to possibly give them plenty of problems tonight. I think Dallas will keep it competitive at the least but the Saints should prove to be better. Winner: Saints

Baltimore @ Atlanta – The Falcons are on the verge of packing it in this season. Baltimore has a defense capable of winning games for them but currently they are receiving great support from the other side of the ball. Rookie QB Lamar Jackson is still learning on the job but he has led this offense during two straight victories. Atlanta is the team that needs this win more on Sunday but Baltimore is playing better right now. Winner: Ravens

Minnesota @ New England – Minnesota has been pretty average this season. They are able to show flashes of greatness on both sides of the ball but they don’t look like the team from last year. New England has once again sleep walked to the top of their division but now its their time to start playing well to prepare for bigger challenges down the road. I think the Vikings best chance to win this one on the road is to unleash that pass rush onto Tom Brady. New England’s offense is getting healthy at the right time with the return of TE Rob Gronkowski and RB Rex Burkhead. Thinking of the RB position, the Patriots look like they may have a legit run game this year with the emergence of rookie RB Sony Michel. As usual, New England has a very beatable defense but Kirk Cousins has been on the wrong end of some mistakes recently. I’ll take the Pats at home. Winner: Patriots

LA Chargers @ Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh hasn’t been sharp in a few weeks so last week’s loss in Denver wasn’t all that surprising. The Chargers were able to respond from a loss against Denver last week. They looked really impressive against Arizona especially offensively. QB Phillip Rivers is coming off one of his best games as a pro and he’ll look to keep that momentum going this Sunday in Pittsburgh. I think Rivers will be able to attack this Steelers defense through the air with much success if he is able to have time in the pocket. Pittsburgh’s ability to get to the QB could be a determining factor in this game. The Chargers defense has been inconsistent this season but they are getting healthy at the right time. The Steelers have so many weapons on offense and I think Chargers will have their hands full trying to account for them all. A great performance at home from the QB (Roethlisberger) will make last week’s mistakes a distant memory. Winner: Steelers

Washington @ Philadelphia – Huge game for both teams. This is pretty much an elimination game for Philadelphia. The Eagles looked like they could have dropped last week against the Giants but they were able to fight back for a late victory. The Eagles are just not playing well right now and the injuries are starting to pile up on defense. Washington is still capable, I think, to play well defensively but I don’t know if they can get enough from their offense with Colt McCoy behind center. The Eagles are going to need QB Carson Wentz to raise the level of his offense on Monday night and provide some big plays against a tough Washington defense. If not, this one could get ugly quick. Winner: Eagles

The Rest of Week 13

Broncos over Bengals – Denver has won two straight and have a favorable schedule down the stretch. Cincinnati is packing it in with Andy Dalton out.

Rams over Lions – LA should be well rested for this one.

Packers over Cardinals – Arizona is bad and Green Bay is undefeated at home.

Dolphins over Bills – Ryan Tannehill played decent last week.

Bears over Giants – I’m worried about the Mitch Trubisky injury.

Panthers over Buccaneers – Carolina has lost three straight so they need this one to stay in the playoff race.

Colts over Jaguars – Indy’s chances for the post season are starting to look better each week.

Texans over Browns – Houston can’t lose and they also have a favorable schedule down the stretch.

Titans over Jets – Tennessee has slim playoff hopes and they fight Sunday to keep them alive at home.

Chiefs over Raiders – The most important thing here for Kansas City is to stay healthy.

Seahawks over 49ers – Seattle should roll at home.

 

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Deshaun Watson (Texans) – Watson’s big play ability should be in full display against the Cleveland secondary.

RB: Phillip Lindsay (Broncos) – Denver’s running game should have a field day against Cincinnati.

WR: Tyreek Hill (Chiefs) – Hill will run circles around Oakland’s secondary.

TE: Jordan Reed (Washington) – Washington is going to need big plays in the passing game to beat Philadelphia. Reed should get plenty of looks.

DEF: Indianapolis – The state of Jacksonville’s offense should allow Indy’s defense to strive on Sunday.

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NFL 2018: Week 9 Predictions

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Can Todd Gurley and the Rams stay unbeaten in the Super Dome?

 

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 12-2

Season: 64-55-2

Big Five Games of the Week

Atlanta @ Washington – I don’t think I’ll let my mind convince me that Washington is the real deal. But with the current shape of the NFC East, they may be good enough to win that division. I can at least admit that they have addressed and improved in one of their weaker areas. Washington has a top ranked run-stopping defense this year and it is helping them tough out some victories. Atlanta is a team with an amazing roster on paper but they are extremely average on the field. Despite that, I think they have enough firepower on offense to really test Washington’s defense. I don’t think Atlanta will be able to run the ball but they could be in good shape if they can protect Matt Ryan. That’s a “big if” and I don’t trust Atlanta on the road at all. They are a constant under achiever. Hone this one up to wishful thinking. Winner: Falcons

Pittsburgh @ Baltimore – The Ravens got completely outclassed last week in Carolina. They have to be telling themselves that this is a must “bounce back” week with Pittsburgh coming to town. There has been a lot of drama surrounding the Steelers this season but they are currently riding high. That’s probably because they played Cleveland last week. I feel that Pittsburgh is all “gassed up” and cocky after last week. The Ravens beat them earlier this season in a game that wasn’t as close as the scoreboard indicated. I think Baltimore will regroup at home on Sunday and those issues that Pittsburgh still have defensively will rear its ugly head once more. Winner: Ravens

LA Chargers @ Seattle – Seattle has been a surprise this season because they were supposed to stink. Now, they can even beat bad teams on the road. The Chargers are fairly decent at 5-2 and they should prove to be a tough out for the Seahawks, even at home. But I feel like we can still count on the Chargers to be wildly inconsistent and for Seattle to be a cruel place for opponents on the road.  Winner: Seahawks

LA Rams @ New Orleans – The Rams have been the most impressive team in the league this season and their undefeated record shows that. Last week against Green Bay, it felt like they were running out of gas. New Orleans has had their rough stretches this season but they are starting to resemble a real contender. This matchup will have plenty of offensive fireworks and the team with the ball last will probably end up winning. I think home field advantage will play a huge factor on the outcome. Winner: Saints

Green Bay @ New England – Green Bay’s defense over achieved last week in LA and they probably deserved to win that game. I don’t know if I can trust that same unit in constitutive weeks. New England is banged up on both sides of the ball. I can see this matchup being actually what everyone wants to see: a duel between two of the greatest QB’s of all time. Winner: Patriots

 

The Rest of Week 9

Raiders over 49ers – San Francisco is starting a QB tonight who doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. If Oakland loses tonight, Jon Gruden should be fired.

Bears over Bills – Chicago’s defense faces the Peterman! Should be fun.

Chiefs over Browns – The mastermind of Bounty gate is now the head man in Cleveland. Should KC avoid starting Patrick Mahomes Sunday? Serious question.

Jets over Dolphins – The Jets can use their running game to dominant Miami on the road.

Vikings over Lions – Detroit doesn’t look like a team ready to compete for a playoff spot.

Panthers over Buccaneers – Fitzmagic is back! But Carolina is playing some of its best football currently.

Texans over Broncos – Denver will be punch-less on offense. The Broncos can be tough at home but I think Houston should roll.

Cowboys over Titans – Tennessee isn’t very good. These are the games that Dallas should be able to win.

 

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Cam Newton (Panthers) – After dismantling Baltimore’s defense, Newton has a favorable matchup this week against the 2ndworst defense in the league.

RB: Lamar Miller (Texans) – Miller ran it well against a weak Miami defense last week. Denver’s run defense isn’t that much better.

WR: Michael Thomas (Saints) – I like Drew Brees’ top target to have an impressive stat line in a game that will give the scoreboard operator a workout.

TE: Travis Kelce (Chiefs) – With Tyreek Hill banged up, Kelce could see some extra targets.

DEF: Chicago – An easy choice with the Peterman starting for Buffalo.

NFL 2018: Week 3 Predictions

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After a week of drama, the Steelers will now have to deal with Fitzmagic.

 

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 8-7-1

Season: 16-14-2

Big Five Games of the Week

New Orleans @ Atlanta – The Saints haven’t looked like the Super Bowl contenders that everyone pegged them as before the season started. Their secondary on defense has struggled and the offense is mistake prone. Atlanta also seems to be stuck in neutral despite their talented roster. But I think they are in better shape currently compared to New Orleans. I like Atlanta to get their second straight division win at home. Winner: Falcons

Cincinnati @ Carolina – Cincy is undefeated but the Joe Mixon injury concerns me. I think if their defense can get after Cam Newton, they can win this game. But I’m not too confident in Andy Dalton on the road. Carolina played good enough to win last week in Atlanta. I think their offense will continue to make big plays at home this week. Winner: Panthers

Tennessee @ Jacksonville – The Titans were Jacksonville’s Achilles heel last season. After a statement win last week vs. New England, the Jaguars face another important test this week. Tennessee is banged up at the QB position but they were still able to beat a talented Houston team last week. I think the Jags will receive a boost with RB Leonard Fournette returning to the line up Sunday. Jacksonville is playing right now with supreme confidence on defense. I also like what I saw last week out of the Jacksonville WR core. These divisional games can always be tough but I would expect Jacksonville to at least take the one in the matchup played in their home. Winner: Jaguars

LA Chargers @ LA Rams – The Chargers wanted to start fast this season but injuries have already hindered them. The Rams are clicking on all cylinders right now and are looking very much like the champs of this past off-season. Right now, I don’t think the Chargers are capable of slowing the Rams down on offense and Phillip Rivers faces a big chore in this Rams defense, which is coming off a shutout last week. I like the Rams in this battle for LA. Winner: Rams

Pittsburgh @ Tampa Bay – There’s plenty of drama in Pittsburgh right now but winning can pretty much solve anything. Ryan Fitzpatrick and the suddenly explosive Tampa Bay offense has been the story of the season after two week. That will work into Pittsburgh’s current weakness in the secondary as I expect the Bucs to attack through the air again on Monday night. The Steelers are capable of airing it out as well. I see this game as a shootout between tow great passing attacks. I think Mike Tomlin has challenged his team and his defense to silence all of the noise surrounding the team off the field by getting a win on the field. I think the Steelers defense will play their part in losing this one on the road but they’ll be bailed out by their offense. Winner: Steelers

The Rest of Week 3

Jets over Browns – Cleveland is the sentimental favorite but this Jets team is mentally tough.

Chiefs over 49ers – The Patrick Mahomes show will continue as the Chiefs open their home schedule.

Raiders over Dolphins – No one is talking about how this Miami team is unbeaten but Oakland absolutely need this one.

Vikings over Bills – This one should be a layup for Minnesota at home against a Bills team that has trouble scoring and keeping their players during halftime.

Eagles over Colts – Carson Wentz’s return should be the highlight of this one.

Packers over Washington – Green Bay’s defense will keep Washington in it. Tough to bet against Aaron Rodgers though.

Broncos over Ravens – If Denver can stay away from the turnover, their defense should be able to take care of business on the road.

Texans over Giants – Houston has been a disappointment to start this season. They need this one at home.

Bears over Cardinals – Arizona might get shutout in consecutive weeks.

Cowboys over Seahawks – Offense will be at the minimum. Dallas will try to make this an “Ezekiel Elliott” game against an underrated Seattle defense.

Patriots over Lions – The narrative against Bill Belichick disciples will continue, as the Lions will be winless after this week.

Fantasy Picks of the Week

QB: Ben Roethlisberger/Ryan Fitzpatrick (Steelers/Buccaneers) – You can’t miss with this MNF matchup. Passing yards could reach to over 900.

RB: Lamar Miller (Texans) – Miller has been silently productive to start this season.

WR: Tyreek Hill (Chiefs) – The 49ers will not be able to slow down the Kansas City Cheetah.

TE: Jordan Reed (Washington) – Alex Smith will target the big TE against this Packers secondary.

DEF: Chicago – The Bears defense will have their way with Arizona.

NFL 2018: Ten Things I’m Sure of Before the 2018 Regular Season

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By: Elias McMillan

10. I’m pretty sure that Jon Gruden will be an utter failure in his second stint as Raiders Head Coach – It’s no mystery why Gruden has been romanticized over for the last couple years. He was a popular personality on ESPN for years and before that he coached successful teams in Oakland and in Tampa Bay. During his time as a media personality, he has painted as this ultimate “X’s and O’s” guy who is also a master at coaching QBs. But there was a reason why he was ran out of Tampa Bay in the first place. All of that yelling, screaming, and funny sound bites can be entertaining but they are not necessarily needed to be a successful NFL coach. It’s starting to look like maybe his past successes maybe had more to do with teams loaded with veteran talent and being in the right situation rather than just his leadership. Now, he will have an uphill battle in the locker room with the trade of Khalil Mack. Gruden was hired again and given a $100 million dollar contract to distract Oaklanders from the fact that their team is leaving them soon. But I’m sure when that time comes, the team may not be as competitive as they once were. It was only a few seasons ago where it looked like the Raiders were looking like they were getting ready to turn the corner. Those draft picks they got for Mack better play well early in their careers.

9. I’m sure the new helmet rule will make things even more chaotic. – The quest to make football “safer” has come to this. Policing lowing your helmet while making a legal tackle creates such a tough job for the officials that seem to be under fire year after year. I’m going to have to assume refs will have to swallow their whistles this year especially in contests were the final may still be in question. Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer has said that this rule could potentially knock teams from contention and cost coaches jobs. The rule will may also affect scoring. Don’t be shocked if penalty yardage and overall scoring to be up this year.

8. I’m sure one of these QB’s will NOT make it to 2019: Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, and Eli Manning. – You can’t play forever. These guys are one blindside hit or one scramble gone wrong away from being on the self for good. Or maybe, one of these guys can have a post-season run that will allow them to have a swan song ending in the Super Bowl.

7. I’m sure that the Dallas Cowboys will NOT make the playoffs but Jason Garrett will remain head coach in 2019. – The Cowboys will not suck enough that will warrant Jason Garrett getting the axe. But really, Jason Garrett isn’t the reason for the Cowboys woes. People act like Jason Garrett was suppose to be the reason for this team being great. Garrett, at the least, is supposed to keep the locker room together and lead from there. The bottom line is that the players need to perform better. They might have a tough time without Dez Bryant in the passing game. Jason Witten and Dan Bailey are also gone. Despite those things, I don’t see Garrett being on the hot seat unless this team really starts to underperform. Plus, I’m afraid of who Jerry Jones would bring in if Garrett is indeed fired.

6. I’m sure that the New York Giants will regret not moving on from Eli Manning. – Eli Manning stunk last season and I have no reason to believe that won’t continue in 2018. When you have the chance to grab a top college QB prospect, you should do it. Ask Cleveland about Carson Wentz. The Giants did work to improve at their skill positions and offensive line in the offseason. But it won’t work unless the QB does.

5. I’m sure that the conversation surrounding Colin Kaepernick will not go away. – The NFL has set a dangerous precedent with how they have treated Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid. While Reid might still have a shot at playing again, Kaepernick’s career is probably over and the list of QB’s that have been signed since his free agency provides enough proof that his absence from a team roster isn’t football related. Though he will not be on a roster, what he stood (knelt) for will have affects on the league for years to come. More and more players will follow his lead and they will not cave in to the fear of having their career taken away from them for making a stand.

4. I’m sure that Aaron Rodgers will be the league MVP if he plays all 16 regular season games. – Rodgers is the top guy in the league at his position. And his team’s success is directly linked to him. Especially this year as Green Bay does not look very strong on paper. If Rodgers is himself and is able to stay healthy, he’ll lift this team to the postseason with his spectacular play.

3. I’m sure that the AFC representative in the Super Bowl this year will be: the Pittsburgh Steelers. – Here’s how I see it:

1) Patriots, 2) Steelers, 3) Texans, 4) Chargers, 5) Jaguars, 6) Titans.

Wild Card Round: Texans over Titans, Chargers over Jaguars

Divisional Round: Chargers over Patriots, Steelers over Texans

Championship Game: Steelers over Chargers

The Steelers have to figure it out this year because it will likely be the final season with Le’Veon Bell. Pittsburgh’s defense might hold them back again this season but you could say the same for New England. For a while, I thought Jacksonville would be able to be back in the championship picture again in 2018 but I’m not buying into their decision to stick with Blake Bortles. Pittsburgh isn’t perfect but all that talent has to amount to something more than just another playoff appearance.

2. I’m sure that the NFC representative in the Super Bowl this year will be: the New Orleans Saints. – Here’s how I see it:

1) Saints, 2) Vikings, 3) Rams, 4) Eagles, 5) Falcons, 6) Packers.

Wild Card Round: Rams over Packers, Falcons over Eagles

Divisional Round Saints over Falcons, Vikings over Rams

Championship Game: Saints over Vikings

I think the two best teams in the conference are in the same division: the Saints and the Falcons. Their matchups in the regular season and eventually the playoffs will provide for some great drama. Atlanta has just as much talent as New Orleans does but it seems like their coaching and decision-making holds them back. Minnesota will be a tough out this season as well but I don’t see the transition into Kirk Cousins running the offense to go as smoothly as some may think.

1. I’m pretty sure that the Super Bowl Champions this season will be: the New Orleans Saints. – Drew Brees gets his swan song moment, hands over the franchise to Teddy Bridgewater, and lifts Lombardi one last time in his rival’s home stadium.

 

NFL 2018: AFC Season Preview

By: Elias McMillan

In the past, I have really fleshed out these previews for each team. But who has time for that? Here are my protections for the AFC in 2018.

AFC EAST

The Patriots will rule this division again. It is really a shame that the other three teams in the AFC East are so far behind. And New England really isn’t the juggernaut that everyone makes them out to be. Yes, they still have the ageless one, Tom Brady. And he is still able to get the most out of his receivers, especially, all-pro TE Rob Gronkowski. But New England enters this season once again with many of the same weaknesses. The offensive line, especially in pass protection, worries me as well as their lack of a run game. New England did improve defensively up front but their secondary is extremely average at best. Despite this, no one in the division is ready to challenge them. I like what the Jets are building though. They lucked out and drafted possibly the best QB in this past draft in Sam Darnold. Now, they just have to build an offense around him because currently, this team just doesn’t have enough weapons. I really like the young pieces they have on defense like safety Jamal Adams and defensive lineman Leonard Williams. Miami is in rebuild mode defensively as they let go a couple of big names in the offseason. I like the addition of DE Robert Quinn who once put up great sack numbers as a member of the Rams. Miami will benefit from the return of QB Ryan Tannehill. They will feel the loss of WR Jarvis Landry but I think RB Kenyan Drake will be a break out player this season. I like the pairing the backfield of Drake and veteran Frank Gore. It was a great story last season when the Bills made the playoffs. I think they will free fall to the bottom of the division this season. I hated the draft pick QB Josh Allen. They have a lot of question marks on offense outside of RB LeSean McCoy who isn’t getting younger. Buffalo’s defense could be able to keep them in some games in 2018 but the lack of offense will keep them from some wins. Projected Finish (Playoff Team in BOLD): 1) Patriots, 2) Jets, 3) Dolphins, 4) Bills

AFC NORTH

The talent that Pittsburgh has will make them the unquestioned favorite once again this year in the North. The big question will again be if the Ben, Brown, and Bell combo can finally break through and win the conference. That question looms even larger in 2018 as it will probably be Le’Veon Bell’s last season in the Black and Gold. The sad part is that it will probably be the defense again that will hold this team back. Can Pittsburgh consistently pressure the QB? Can they get great LB play without Ryan Shazier in the lineup? Can the secondary not be a continued weakness? Those are all legit questions that will need to be answered this season. The good news (if you’re a Pittsburgh fan) is that traditional rivals, Baltimore and Cincinnati, are not in shape to compete with the Steelers. I still can’t believe the Bengals extended Marvin Lewis after last season. The Bengals are still holding on to a talented roster led by WR A.J. Green but they lack the edge to be real players in the division. You never know what you’re going to get out of QB Andy Dalton. He might be able to lean on RB Joe Mixon this year as many are expecting big things out of him. On defense, DT Geno Atkins looks like the lone bright spot on defense for the Bengals. LB Vontaze Burfict can be a difference maker when he is not suspended or acting like an idiot. Baltimore enters this season in a strange place as it is starting to look like the end of the road for many of their veterans. Joe Flacco, who hasn’t been the same player since winning the Super Bowl, looks like he is being groomed to be replaced eventually by rookie QB Lamar Jackson. Flacco will have a fighting chance to solidify his position this year as the team really put out an effort to add weapons around him in the passing game. I think Baltimore will be stout on defense again this year but they are looking mighty old at some key positions. In terms of youth, they still have a good one in LB C.J. Mosley but I believe time is running out for veterans Terrell Suggs and Eric Weddle. There’s a lot of buzz surrounding Cleveland this year but I don’t understand why. I was rooting for Hue Jackson to succeed there but his shortcomings as a head coach are becoming obvious to everyone. I initially hated what Cleveland did in the draft but I’m starting to warm up to Baker Mayfield. The little kid from Oklahoma has an arm and an “it factor”. I still believe they should have taken Saquon Barkley. On paper, I think the Browns definitely won’t go winless this season. They have a pretty decent cast at the skill positions this year including WR Jarvis Landry, WR Josh Gordon, RB Carlos Hyde, and emerging TE David Njoku. There’s plenty of young talent on the defensive side of the ball as well. DE Myles Garrett could be on the verge of having a productive season. The Browns will still be the Browns in 2018 and I wont mistake a few wins as hope for the future. Especially if that future includes Hue Jackson. Projected Finish (Playoff Team in BOLD): 1) Steelers, 2) Bengals, 3) Ravens, 4) Browns

AFC SOUTH

Looking at the AFC South and I think you will see the best roster of teams in the conference from top to bottom. I don’t believe that Jacksonville will be a one-year wonder after their shocking success from a year ago. You can’t fake the talent they have on defense. Though, I think their lack of a passing game will bite them again in 2018. I’m buying into the Houston Texans in 2018 as long as they stay healthy. I think they can be really deadly offensively with QB Deshaun Watson running the show. I think the Texans defense could be really good with the return of J.J. Watt and the continued progression of Jadeveon Clowney. Again, Jacksonville be tough because of that defense they have but their loyalty shown to QB Blake Bortles might hold them back if they can return to the postseason. Tennessee made a surprising run the playoffs last season and I think they can continue to get better. There were times last year that QB Marcus Mariota looked shaky especially in the pocket. But the guy is playmaker, you can’t deny that. I think the addition of RB Dion Lewis will help him. Lewis and RB Derrick Henry should form one of the better backfield duos in the league this year. The Titans also worked to improve their defense through the draft and free agency this past offseason. CB Malcolm Butler will be given a chance to prove himself after a forgetful season last year in New England. In Indianapolis, the Colts will not win many games this year but the season will be all about QB Andrew Luck getting use to live game action after a lengthy break. Projected Finish (Playoff Team in BOLD): 1) Texans, 2) Jaguars, 3) Titans, 4) Colts

AFC WEST

I think we’re going to see a changing of the guard in the AFC West this season. Kansas City has had a good run under Andy Reid but they aren’t getting younger and are beginning a turnover at many key spots on the defensive side. The LA Chargers showed promise last season but it wasn’t enough to make the post season. I think this year’s team will be under a lot of pressure to produce as QB Phillip Rivers could be playing in his last games. I think the Chargers have enough talent to give Rivers one more run in the post season this year. WR Keenan Allen quietly had a productive season last year and the ground game is pretty good led by Melvin Gordon. I’m really excited to see how good their defense can be. Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa form a great pass rushing duo. Rookie safety Derwin James could be another young defender who can make plays. There is a lot of hype surrounding the return of head coach Jon Gruden to Oakland but I’m afraid that it is just that: hype. Gruden, a media darling, was always over rated as a coach and is now being used as a ploy to get fans in Oakland to forget that their team is leaving them for Vegas in the near future. Despite the clown show antics from the front office, Oakland returns a decent team in 2018. The David Carr-Amari Cooper connection should continue to lead this offense. Hopefully, DE Khalil Mack can return with no signs of rest after a lengthy contract hold out. Denver will be defined by their defense again in 2018. Von Miller will led a really good front seven this season but the secondary will miss CB Aqib Talib who was traded. The Broncos brought in QB Case Keenum who is coming off a great year in Minnesota. I’m not sure if he can recreate that magic again on a new team but Denver will need him to, as they have nothing behind him at that position. Kansas City has handed over the offense to QB Patrick Mahomes after trading away Alex Smith. Mahomes has impressed in the preseason. WR Tyreek Hill and RB Kareem Hunt will provide him with top-notch options to go to in the air and on the ground. Kansas City has drafted well on defense recently but I think they will miss some of those veterans who did not return this year, especially CB Marcus Peters. Projected Finish (Playoff Team in BOLD): 1) Chargers, 2) Raiders, 3) Broncos, 4) Chiefs

NFL 2017: Week 15 Predictions!

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After a rough night in Miami, Tom Brady and the Patriots look to bounce back in Pittsburgh with a lot on the line.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 5-11

Season: 120-88

Big Five Games of the Week

Los Angeles Chargers @ Kansas City – This game will probably determine the AFC West Champion. Its crazy to think that the Chiefs are underdogs at home in this matchup considering how they started the season. The Chiefs were able to get back on track last week with a win at home over Oakland. They’ll face a much more determined team at home on Sunday. The Chargers have a past known for getting hot in December and that is the case for 2017. Phillip Rivers is leading this offense and the young guys on defense are getting it done as well. Kansas City still has a lot of offer, especially at home, but they are not as strong as the Chargers are right now. KC is still banged up defensively and I think they’ll be counting on big performance in this one from Alex Smith. Can he deliver at home? I doubt. I see Rivers and the Chargers taking a huge step towards the playoffs with a big road victory. Prediction: Chargers 24 – Chiefs 20

Green Bay @ Carolina – Carolina really impressive me last week by playing big at home against a quality opponent. I feel like I’m waiting for the Panthers to under perform like they were earlier this season but they are really hitting their stride right now on both sides of the ball. They’ll be at home again this week against another NFC North team hoping for the post season. The Packers took overtime to beat Cleveland last week. But everything could be different now with the news that Aaron Rodgers is ready to return. Green Bay went through a similar scenario a few years back when Rodgers returned from injury to lead them to the playoffs. I know that Rodgers is really good but I doubt that we will see a sequel to that. Green Bay stinks but Rodgers can provide some very strong cologne for that. But Carolina has a capable defense and they are playing well at home. Green Bay may be able to do more things offensively with Rodgers back but I don’t feel great about their defense’s chances against Cam Newton. Newton is starting to string together some solid performances. I think he can do so again this week. Prediction: Panthers 36 – Packers 31

Los Angeles Rams @ Seattle – The inconsistency of Seattle on road struck again last week. The Seahawks do not look like a team ready to make a playoff push. They are too banged up on defense and they lack composure. The Rams took their lumps last week against the Eagles but they still hung tough in that game. I think the Rams defense will have the chance to look strong this week against Seattle’s offensive line. The Seahawk defense will be looking to bounce back against Jared Goff after allowing Blake Bortles to look like a NFL Quarterback. I just feel like Seattle is in a bad spot right now and it couldn’t of have come a worst time for them. With the playoffs on the line, I feel like you could usually count on Seattle bouncing back strong at home. But right now, they look like they have no direction. I might be going out on a limb here but I’m taking the Rams to end Seattle’s playoff hopes. Prediction: Rams 23 – Seahawks 21

New England @ Pittsburgh – Well, Pittsburgh has definitely had this date circled on the schedule. This season’s Patriots and Steelers tilt will most likely determine who will have home field advantage in the AFC. It is the biggest regular season game for both teams. New England suffered a letdown last Monday night in Miami; a place where they have had problems before. New England’s issues shouldn’t come as a shock. When things are good with the Patriots, they are great. When things are bad, it is obvious why. Beating New England is tough but is doable. Pressure Tom Brady. Take advantage of their over achieving defense. And done. It doesn’t happen much but its possible. After what the Dolphins did to them, the Patriots should be extra motivated to bounce back against a familiar opponent with a lot on the line. The Steelers are on a winning streak but they could easier be on a losing streak. Pittsburgh has been able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in the last four weeks. As a team, they really are not playing their best football but they have enough individual talent that provides big plays that allows them to squeak out victories. I think in this matchup we’ll see a lot of scoring. New England’s defense is vulnerable right now but at the same time, Pittsburgh’s defense gave up almost 40 points last week to Joe Flacco. Brady will attack the Pittsburgh defense after a weak showing last week. New England’s track record coming off a loss is pretty good. Ben Roethlisberger is throwing the ball too much right now but he’ll need to have that same approach this week. New England, or the league, doesn’t have a guy that can keep up with Antonio Brown so Ben will need to feed him as much as possible. I think both running games will find success in this one as well. New England’s run defense is shaky and Pittsburgh is greatly missing Ryan Shazier. Pittsburgh has been able to come out of tough spots smelling like roses recently. That home crowd will be rocking and looking for blood. I think the lead up to this game just screams a typical dominant performance from Brady and company. Especially with Rob Gronkowski returning from a suspension. But I think the Steelers will flip the script. I’ll take the home team now because chances are these two will meet again in January. And there is no way I’ll take Pittsburgh then. Even if they are at home. Prediction: Steelers 40 – Patriots 37

Dallas @ Oakland – Loser of this one can just forget about the post season. The Raiders have been among one of the most disappointing teams this season. The passing game has been inconsistent and they haven’t been able to control the clock with the run game. Oakland also has a defense that likes to give up big plays. The Cowboys were finally able to create some big plays last week in New York. Dallas just needs to find a way to start faster. If given chances, David Carr and the Raiders offense can create some scoring. Dallas just has to limit those chances by controlling the clock and cashing in on long drives. The idea of Dallas winning out always seems far-fetched to me but they are one game away from having Ezekiel Elliott back. The Cowboys need to dispatch this bad team then start thinking about the possibilities with Zeke back in the fold. Prediction: Cowboys 34 – Raiders 27

The Rest of Week 15

Broncos over Colts – The ratings will be awful, that’s for sure. Thursday night football should end.

Lions over Bears – Detroit needs this one but Chicago is playing well right now. This game might be interesting.

Bills over Dolphins – Will Miami’s inconsistency continue on the road? Buffalo is very much in the playoff discussion. They are usually tough at home and Tyrod Taylor will be back from injury.

Ravens over Browns – Cleveland blew their chance last week. They might go winless now. How sad.

Vikings over Bengals – Marvin Lewis has to go.

Saints over Jets – New York was a scrappy team this season but their offense will be putrid now with Josh McCown out. I can’t believe I just typed that.

Eagles over Giants – The Carson Wentz injury won’t matter this week.

Cardinals over Washington – Arizona hasn’t been a good road team this season but Washington quit after the last loss to Dallas.

Jaguars over Texans – A win here would clinch a playoff berth for Jacksonville. What a time.

Titans over 49ers – Marcus Mariota is under a lot of heat right now. He has to respond strongly this week, as Tennessee needs to keep pace with Jacksonville in the AFC South.

Falcons over Buccaneers – Atlanta cannot afford a letdown on the road. Divisional games on the road could be tricky though.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers) – Pittsburgh is using the pass a lot right now.

RB: Jay Ajayi (Eagles) – With Wentz, Philly might be riding the J Train now and into the post season.

WR: Julio Jones (Falcons) – Atlanta will need big plays from their WR against a poor Tampa secondary.

TE: Delanie Walker (Titans) – Walker has been one of Mariota’s most reliable receivers this season.

DEF: Denver – After ending their 8 game losing streak, the Broncos will be looking for more success on defense at Indianapolis.

NFL 2017: AFC Preview (Condensed)

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Tom Brady and the Patriots reloaded in the offseason. Does the rest of the AFC stand a chance?

By: Elias McMillan

 

AFC East

New England Patriots – The Patriots won another title last season with a roster that wasn’t supremely talented. During this offseason, New England added significant upgrades on offense at RB and WR and on defense at DE and CB. Also, TE Rob Gronkowski returns after missing much of last year due to injury. It looks like the Brady-Belicheck combo will be the cream of the crop once again in the AFC. Although, it seems when the Patriots reload like this, they find a way to disappoint in the post season. We’ll see if this season will be different. Prediction: 15-1 (AFC East Champs)

Miami Dolphins – Miami made the playoffs somehow last season. But they don’t have much momentum going into 2017. It doesn’t help that they lost Ryan Tannehill to injury in training camp and had to replace him with a Jay Cutler they had to drag out from the announcer’s booth (Why didn’t they sign Kaepernick?). Positives: they found an answer a RB last season (Jay Ajayi) and they are pretty solid at the receiver positions. On defense, they have a tough front four and I like the offseason addition of Lawrence Timmons. Negatives: Miami secondary may be the down fall for this defense, yet again. And you’ll never know which Jay Cutler that you’re going to get. Prediction: 8-8

Buffalo Bills – Buffalo did Rex Ryan wrong and now they seem to be tanking. They traded their best WR and CB for draft picks. The Bills made a smart trade on draft day in April. Buffalo is stockpiling draft picks. It’s good idea but its not going to help them win 2017. I feel bad for LeSean McCoy who is wasting his talents up there. I’m interested in seeing how QB Tyrod Taylor will fair with limited weapons in the passing game. Buffalo has young talent on defense. I really liked Shaq Lawson from the 2016 draft. If he’s healthy, he’ll be impact player. Regardless, I don’t see many wins in Buffalo this year. Prediction: 5-11

New York Jets – The Jets are tanking. I hope it doesn’t cost head coach Todd Bowles who won 10 games in New York just two seasons ago. The Jets literally got rid of every veteran on the team except RB Matt Forte. The QB position is a disaster. What is josh McCown doing to keep finding work in this league? WR core? Garbage. They do have some promising talent on defense. It’s going to be an ugly year for the Jets. Prediction: 2-14

 

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers return with supreme talent on the offense between the QB (Roethlisberger), RB (Bell), and the WR (Brown). That, along with that over achieving offensive line, Pittsburgh should be able to rule the North again. What will stop them in the playoffs? If it isn’t the inability to stay healthy, it will be the lack of big plays from their defense. Losing and not replacing Lawrence Timmons at middle linebacker will prove to be a mistake. Pittsburgh is solid on the defensive line but they lack players in the secondary that can make big plays. But what they are really missing is an impact pass rusher. Can rookie T.J. Watt be that guy? Despite the questions, Pittsburgh should be New England’s main rival for the AFC crown. Prediction: 11-5 (AFC North Champs)

Baltimore Ravens – Baltimore quietly made some improvements this offseason especially on defense. I like the addition of S Tony Jefferson. They have solid veteran leadership in the secondary between him and Eric Weddle. Terrell Suggs returns for what maybe his final season. Look out for rookie Tyus Bowser to become a difference maker off the edge on this defense. Baltimore’s defense will keep the Ravens in a lot of games but they have serious questions on offense. It feels like everyone has been waiting for 2012 Joe Flacco to return and it just hasn’t happened yet. It would help if he could get some consistency from his supporting cast. Maybe WR Jeremy Maclin can help. The success of this season for the Ravens will be up to if the offense can finally figure itself out. Prediction: 8-8

Cincinnati Bengals – Cincinnati again brings a talented roster to the table but their undisciplined nature seems to be their undoing. I like Marvin Lewis but how does he still have a job as he continues to vouch for Adam Jones and Vontaze Burfict? On offense, the Bengals need Andy Dalton to stay healthy because he has a great collection of skill players around him, highlighted by WR A.J. Green. The Bengals have a talented defense led by DT Geno Atkins. But I think their immaturity will hold them back. They might push Baltimore for second place in the division. Prediction: 8-8

Cleveland Browns – Same as it ever was for the Browns. QB questions. Young talent on both sides of the ball. Seasoned veterans. Cleveland just can’t seem to put it all together. But this season could set the table for some success down the road. The Browns will see what they have in rookie QB DeShone Kizer right out of the gate. First round pick Myles Garrett will receive tons of playing time as well and he has impressed in the pre-season. I will be interested in seeing how Cleveland does with this current crop of young talent. I’m a believer in Hue Jackson. Prediction: 6-10

 

AFC South

Tennessee Titans – I’m buying into the Titans this season. They impressed a season ago and they may have made the post season if QB Marcus Mariota doesn’t get hurt late in the season. Tennessee has a good mix a RB with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, a great offensive line, and they added weapons in the passing game. Once the defense figures itself out, they could become a contender in the AFC. But for now, I think they’ll be good enough to win the AFC South. Prediction: 10-6 (AFC South Champs)

Houston Texans – Houston has made the playoffs in two straight seasons. I would say this is mainly because of their defense. In 2015, in was all about J.J. Watt. In 2016, while Watt was injured, it was all about Jadeveon Clowney. Who knows what this defense will be capable of with both Watt and Clowney in the line-up. Houston has a legit starter at RB (Lamar Miller) and a legit number one receiver (DeAndre Hopkins). What they don’t have is a legit starting QB. Could it be the returning backup Tom Savage or the rookie who just won a national championship, Deshaun Watson? Either way, I’m expecting more big things from the defense in Houston. Prediction: 9-7 (Wild-card)

Indianapolis Colts – I feel like the majority is expecting nothing from this Colts team, which makes them kind of underrated. But they still have plenty of issues. Issues number one: the health of Andrew Luck. I expect Luck to start out on the PUP list (6 Games) so they are going to have to roll with Scott Tolzien. Good thing for Tolzien, the best player on the team is a WR (T.Y. Hilton). The defense is full of cast offs from another teams. I think a lot of teams will sleep on Indy and for good reason. But I don’t think they’ll completely stink. Prediction: 7-9

Jacksonville Jaguars – Jacksonville should have been the team that brought in Colin Kaepernick. The jig up for Blake Bortles. The Jaguars actually have promising talent on both sides of the ball. It is clear that the QB position is holding them back. It’s too bad, I guess. I really like what they have on defense. But it wont be enough to make up for the shortcomings offensively. Jacksonville will likely be drafting a new QB early in the draft next April. Prediction: 4-12

 

AFC West

Oakland Raiders – The Raiders had a great 2016 season that was derailed by Derek Carr’s injury before the playoffs. Now, Carr returns to a team that is ready to take the next step and win the AFC West. Oakland is set up pretty well offensively. I think Marshawn Lynch’s return to the NFL wont have as much as an impact as some people may want to but at the least, he’ll serve well as a weapon in the red zone. Outside of their front four, I’m still worried about the defense especially in the secondary. Prediction: 12-4 (AFC West Champs)

Denver Broncos – Denver suffered through a Super Bowl hangover last year but I think they can rebound in 2017. I still like what their defense brings to the table. Von Miller is one of the best players in the league. I’m not sure how far this offense will be able to take them under the command of QB Trevor Siemian. But the Broncos have plenty of weapons at the skills positions on offense. They still have a stacked WR group led by Demaryius Thomas. Also, remember this name from out of the backfield: sixth round pick RB DeAngelo Henderson. Prediction: 9-7 (Wild-card)

Kansas City Chiefs – Andy Reid has won 10+ games in Kansas City 3 out of the 4 seasons as head coach. And in the one season he didn’t, the team still finished over .500. I think that impressive streak will come to an end this season. The Chiefs are in the process of pushing out many veterans on the roster and that turnover will affect their chances to compete in the AFC West. Alex Smith will be feeling the heat all season from the first round QB they selected in April, Patrick Mahomes. The offense will feature TE Travis Kelce and WR Tyreke Hill but Jamaal Charles and Jeremy Maclin are both gone. They do have a great defense to lean on but that group is starting to age. This will be a down year for the Chiefs. Prediction: 7-9

Los Angeles Chargers – I absolutely hate the Chargers move to LA. It stinks to the high heavens. It stinks for the NFL. As for the team, they could be a sleeper in the AFC West if they can stay healthy. I feel like you could say that every year about this team though. Phillip Rivers returns for yet another season where he will see his WR core suffer through many injuries. At least he still has an aging TE Antonio Gates to go to. It would be nice if RB Melvin Gordon can continue the success he had a season ago. I think the story from this team this year will be the emergence of DE Joey Bosa as he will become a defensive star in this league. Between Melvin Ingram and Bosa, the Chargers could have the best pass-rushing duo in the division. It would be cool to see this team grab some success while they still have Phillip Rivers but I don’t see it happening. Prediction: 6-10

 

AFC Playoff Picture Prediction

  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)