Tag Archives: Russell Wilson

NFL 2017: Week 11 Predictions!

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Does anyone want to win the AFC South?

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 10-4

Season: 88-58

Big Five Games of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

The Rest of Week 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

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NFL 2017: Week 8 Predictions!

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Shady McCoy and the Bills look to protect home field this weekend while keeping their sights on contending in the AFC East.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 9-6

Season: 59-47

Big Five Games of the Week

Oakland @ Buffalo – The Raiders had a great, emotional victory at home last Thursday against the Chiefs. The moment was big enough to forget about how RB Marshawn Lynch was ejected and is now suspended for this weekend. The Raiders will have a few extra days to prepare but they will still have to travel a long ways to Orchard Park, New York this weekend to face the Bills. Buffalo is breathing right down New England’s neck in the AFC East and they are feeling pretty confidant right now. Their defense has performed well this year and the offense can take advantage of weaker, defensive teams. It will be an emotional return to the Buffalo area for Raiders DE Khalil Mack who played their in college but it will be a bad return if his defense doesn’t show up. Mack and Bruce Irvin can be bright spots up front for Oakland but the defense as a whole just gives up too many big plays. I think Buffalo QB Tyrod Taylor will find his spots to make some big plays in this game even without his top target, TE Charles Clay. Oakland QB David Carr could be able to ride the wave of a strong performance last week into this one. But the Bills can be tricky at home. Prediction: Bills 28 – Raiders 20

Houston @ Seattle – The Seahawks usually have problems on the road and they almost fell into that trap again last week in New York. Lucky, they woke up and took care of business and will now return home this week. Houston rookie QB Deshaun Watson will face a tall task in the Seattle defense, especially on the road. Houston will also feel the effects of not having its too best players on defense. I think they will still find a way to pressure and get after QB Russell Wilson. But in a defensive struggle, I trust the veteran Wilson over the young pup, Watson. Especially at home. Prediction: Seahawks 16 – Texans 10

Dallas @ Washington – This game will begin a tough stretch for the Cowboys. Dallas took care of business last week in San Fran. This week, the stakes will be a bit higher against divisional rival, Washington. I watched Washington a few weeks ago and I was so impressed with their defense. Since then injuries have taken a toll and the team has started to struggle a bit. I think Washington will still be able to give the Dallas offense some resistance but they wont be able to lean on that unit in this game. Instead, they could lean on Kirk Cousins and the offense to pressure a beatable Dallas defense. The Cowboys defense is young and they have their good moments but consistency continues to be a problem. The Cowboys offense will have to do a great job this week and controlling the ball on offense and limiting Cousins’ chances at testing the Dallas secondary. I could see Dallas dropping this game on the road but I think they’ll be able to take advantage of a short-handed Washington defense on a short week. Prediction: Cowboys 34 – Washington 30

Pittsburgh @ Detroit – The Lions had so much momentum a few weeks ago. What happened? Their defense got exposed and QB Matt Stafford couldn’t save them. Things will get worst this week with Pittsburgh coming to town. The Steelers are starting to hit their stride as the best team in the AFC. I don’t think their offense will miss a beat this week against this Lions defense. Pittsburgh’s pass rush looked strong last week and that will be key for the rest of the year. If they can keep that up, they will continue to be tough for anyone to beat. The Lions will have a chance if Stafford can attack the Steelers secondary while not running for his life. It would be nice if Detroit had a consistent threat in the run game on offense. Detroit can’t survive if Stafford is throwing the ball 50 times a game. I like the Steelers here. Prediction: Steelers 39 – Lions 30

Denver @ Kansas City – Chiefs QB Alex Smith has been playing well for most of this season. This Monday night on Hallo-Eve, he will try to figure out a usually decent Broncos defense at home. The Broncos have had some time to try to figure out their issues after a humiliating loss at home to a bad Giants team. Denver’s offensive woes seem like they are not going away. But the Chiefs defense is coming off a couple a really bad performances too. Denver could be able to find their offensive spark in this one. And I think Smith is aware of what the Broncos defense is capable of when they are on their game. A Denver win on the road wouldn’t surprise me but the Chiefs need a bounce back game after dropping two straight and I love their home field advantage. Prediction: Chiefs 21 – Broncos 16

The Rest of Week 8

Dolphins over Ravens – Miami will soon find out that Matt Moore was the QB they should have went with all along. Miami was so emotional after the win last week. They are taking this “us against the world” mentality to heart.

Vikings over Browns – Minnesota could be marching towards a division title.

Bengals over Colts – This game will feature two horrible offensive lines. I can at least name Cincinnati’s pass rushers.

Patriots over Chargers – Is New England defense back to being decent? Or naw?

Saints over Bears – New Orleans have won 4 straight, quietly.

Falcons over Jets – I like this Jets team because unlike Atlanta, they are putting in maximum effort each week for their head coach (Todd Bowles) and you can easily tell. Atlanta is too talented. They better be “up” for this one.

Eagles over 49ers – Philly is the hot team. I’m wondering how they will react to a couple injuries suffered last week.

Panthers over Buccaneers – Cam Newton better wake up and wake up soon. Tampa’s defense isn’t very good. This has to be the week for Newton and the Carolina offense.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Phillip Rivers (Chargers) – New England gives up the most yardage through the air. If LA hopes to go toe-to-toe with Brady, it will be on the arm of Rivers.

RB: Jay Ajayi (Dolphins) – The J-Train has been quiet this year. On Thursday, he will be running into the worst run defense in the league.

WR: A.J. Green (Bengals) – Cincinnati has to find a way to get the ball in the hands of its best player.

TE: Zach Ertz (Eagles) – Ertz leads the league in TD catches for a TE.

DEF: Carolina – The Panthers defense did its job last week, limiting Chicago’s offense to just 3 points.

 

NFL 2017: Week 5 Predictions!

Detroit Lions v Minnesota Vikings

The Lions defense is ready to put the NFC on notice.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 11-5

Season: 38-25

Big Five Games of the Week

New England @ Tampa Bay – The Patriots were able to come back late last week at home against Carolina but that game wasn’t as close as the scoreboard would have you believe. New England has some serious defensive problems and it looks like it’s going to be a reoccurring issue. Tampa did a great job hanging tough last week to get their victory over the Giants. I think the Patriots on a short week might be too tall of a task for them. I imagine Coach Bill Belichick isn’t too pleased with his team right now and his grouch like attitude will have an affect on his team this week. New England’s secondary has been called out and I think they’ll have a chance to respond against QB Jameis Winston, who is prone to mistakes. New England’s defense is struggling but Tampa’s defense isn’t that great either. I think Tom Brady will have a vintage performance on the road this Thursday night. Prediction: Patriots 36 – Buccaneers 27

Carolina @ Detroit – Carolina did an impressive job on the road last week. But I’m afraid that game was more about New England’s defensive struggles and less about Cam Newton having a bounce back performance. Newton will face a much tougher defense on the road this week in the Lions. I’m not sure what’s the deal with Newton this season. I’m not sure if he is 100% healthy. Either way, I like the way Detroit’s defense is playing right now. They are keeping the Lions in games and creating opportunities for Matt Stafford and the offense. I think Carolina’s defensive line should create some issues for the Lions as well but they’ll be okay as long as they stay away from the turnovers. I think Detroit is playing better football right now so, I’ll take the home team. Prediction: Lions 20 – Panthers 14

Seattle @ Los Angeles Rams – When you beat the Dallas Cowboys, it’s going to turn some heads. No matter how bad of a game the Cowboys played. It doesn’t matter. That’s just how it is. But now that more media eyes are starting to pay attention to the Rams, they could really impress but beating a strong defensive team like Seattle. The Seahawks were almost on the ropes at home against a bad Colts team until their defense took over. But no mistake about it, Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense needs to improve. And things wont get easier as injuries are starting to pile up on the offensive line and in the backfield. I think Aaron Donald will give Wilson fits on Sunday. Seattle is usually shaky on the road. For Los Angeles, they just have to make sure that QB Jared Goff doesn’t lose the game for them. RB Todd Gurley might be a full proof plan for that as he is playing like the best RB in the football right now. A win here for the home team would really put the league on notice. Prediction: Rams 22 – Seahawks 17

Green Bay @ Dallas – The Cowboys are coming off a weak performance last week in all phases of the game. Without LB Sean Lee, the Cowboys defense really looked toothless. QB Dak Prescott wasn’t as sharp as defenses are standing up to stop the run and are just daring Prescott to win the game with his arm. Dak needs to remind defenses of what he can do in the passing game. Green Bay played last Thursday so, they will have the extra rest. But I think Dallas actually matches up well with them despite how bad their defense looked a week ago. The Packers do have Aaron Rodgers but they don’t have a “Todd Gurley”. Green Bay’s offensive line and running game is suspect and I think the Dallas defensive line can have a bounce back performance this week. Green Bay’s defense is underrated but they don’t have a “Aaron Donald”. I don’t expect the Packers will be successful if they sell out the stop Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys run game. But if they do, they don’t have a great secondary so, Prescott needs to exploit this and make the Packers respect the air attack. After a poor performance last week, I must be crazy to take Dallas with Aaron Rodgers coming to the stadium. But I believe the Cowboys will really want this W before their bye week. Prediction: Cowboys 31 – Packers 30

Kansas City @ Houston – I didn’t think the Chiefs were going to pull it off on Monday but they survived a tough test at home from Washington. Kansas City must now regroup and face a Houston team on the road that is coming off an impressive win last week. I feel like we’ve been saying for years now that the Texans would be dangerous if they ever figured out their QB situation. Last week, rookie QB Deshaun Watson solidified himself as the team’s leader on offense as that unit just exploded on the scoreboard against Tennessee. One thing about the Chiefs is that they have a veteran coaching staff and they will definitely draw up a plan to make Watson not comfortable this week. Kansas City has fought through many injuries on defense but they will still provide better resistance than what Tennessee did a week ago. I’m worried about Kansas City’s banged up offensive line because JJ Watt and company could really change the game upfront with what he has around him. I think Houston’s defense will have a real chance to flex their muscles on Sunday night and they will limit Kareem Hunt and the Chiefs’ offense. Prediction: Texans 26 – Chiefs 23

 

The Rest of Week 5

Bills over Bengals – Look out for Buffalo. They have some really big win early this season (@ Atlanta, vs. Denver). They are playing very well on defense right now.

Browns over Jets – Hue Jackson is tired of losing. This is now or never for Cleveland at home on Sunday.

Colts over 49ers – Indy can’t let the letdown of last Sunday night drag over to this week.

Titans over Dolphins – A matchup of teams that should have signed Colin Kaepernick. Is Tennessee’s defense that bad that they’ll allow Jay Cutler look serviceable?

Giants over Chargers – The Giants gotta win some time. Why not against a team that loses close game after close game after close game?

Eagles over Cardinals – I think Arizona will play Philly tough but can they score enough points?

Steelers over Jaguars – Another cupcake for Pittsburgh. Seriously, who has had an easier schedule so far this season? I hope Antonio Brown leg drops a Gatorade cooler on the sideline just so Pittsburgh media can lose their minds all next week.

Raiders over Ravens – Baltimore looks really bad but Oakland will be without David Carr. Oakland can’t let EJ Manuel lose it for them.

Vikings over Bears – I want to see my guy, Mitch Trubisky, shine but the Minnesota will unleash that pass rush on the rookie QB.

 

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Tom Brady (Patriots) – New England has the worst pass defense in the league. Who’s second worst? Tampa Bay. Great news for Brady.

RB: Le’Veon Bell (Steelers) – Jacksonville has talent on defense but they allow the most yards on the ground. Pittsburgh should feed Bell and allow him to feast.

WR: Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals) – Fitzgerald is off to a great start this season. Arizona will have to attack the Eagles through the air if they hope to win.

TE: Delanie Walker (Titans) – Tennessee’s QB situation might become shaky. Walker will become a security blanket for whoever is the starter.

DEF: Buffalo – Andy Dalton has improved each week this season. Buffalo’s defense will put a stop to that on Sunday.

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: 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 Divisional Round Predictions!

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Atlanta hasn’t forgot about what happened when they faced Seattle earlier this season. They will be hoping for some revenge at home this weekend in the NFL Playoffs.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Wild-Card Round: 2-2

Playoffs: 2-2

Divisional Round

Seattle @ Atlanta – This first divisional playoff matchup this weekend is a rematch from a closely contested game earlier this season, which saw the Seahawks get the victory in a close one. Atlanta actually impressed many in that game as they were able to hang with Seattle on the road and how they might have won that game if not for a botch PI penalty that wasn’t called late in the 4th quarter. Both teams have changed since then but I think Atlanta will definitely have revenge on their minds this Saturday. Seattle was able to take care of Detroit last weekend but on Saturday they will face a much more talented and balanced offense in Atlanta. The Falcons are powered on offense by their dynamic passing game led by QB Matt Ryan and his lead target WR Julio Jones. But don’t sleep on the way Atlanta can run the ball. RB’s Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are as a dynamic running duo as any other one in the league. We all know about how good this Atlanta offense can be but history dictates that really good offenses usually fall to good defenses in the playoffs. I think Seattle’s defense will put up a great challenge for Atlanta but they are not at full strength with Earl Thomas out of the line up. Even with Thomas in the secondary, the Falcons were still able to put up production in that first meeting earlier this season. Seattle will have to fight hard on both sides of the ball to compete with Atlanta on Saturday. Last weekend, Seattle ran the ball very well behind RB Thomas Rawls and with that running game; they were able to control the tempo for most of the contest. Seattle might have to implement that game plan again on Saturday, as Atlanta is just an average defense at defending the run. They might help QB Russell Wilson in terms of protecting himself from Atlanta’s pass rush. Edge rusher Vic Beasley was the league leader in sack this season and with the state of Seattle’s offensive line, I think he will be in pursuit of Wilson for the majority of this Saturday afternoon. But if Wilson can find time, he will be throwing against a Falcons secondary that ranked near the bottom this season. I think Seattle will have a good shot at winning on the road this weekend but the Seahawks have historically had let down on the road in the regular season and in the playoffs. I think Atlanta will jump out on top early and they’ll be able to hold off a Seahawks comeback late. Much like the last time these teams played in the post season in Atlanta. Prediction: Falcons 28 – Seahawks 24

Houston @ New England – I guess we have to give Houston credit for beating up on an injured Oakland team last week. But on to this week where no one on earth is giving the Texans a chance at going up to Foxboro on Saturday night and leaving with a victory. I don’t know if Houston has a real chance or not but I’ll try my best to sell that to you. First, the Texans have the number one ranked defense in the NFL. DE Jadeveon Clowney was a real difference maker last week and he will be used in a similar way this week against a Patriots offensive line that can struggle against the premier pass rushers in this league. Houston also has a stingy secondary. They will get physical with New England’s smaller receivers and create tough passing windows for QB Tom Brady. And my third point: the Texans coaching staff is made up from Bill Belichick disciples. Bill O’Brien is the head coach and Romeo Crennel is the defensive coordinator. They know Belichick. They know their offense. Could this prove to be an advantage for Houston? I don’t know. Also, I’m not going to bet on it. I think New England will use this game to prove why they are favored by so much in this game. I think New England will be aggressive offensively and they will tire out the Texans up front with their running game. New England’s defense is also unheralded and they will have the opportunity to appear to be really good against Houston’s offense. I think Houston’s defense might be able to keep the Texans in this game but I have no faith in QB Brock Osweiler going toe to toe with Tom Brady in terms of offensive production. The Patriots will dominate in this one. Prediction: Patriots 35 – Texans 17

Green Bay @ Dallas – On Sunday, the marathon of rematches from the regular season will continue. Green Bay won last week at home convincingly against the Giants and they are feeling pretty good going into this matchup in Jerry’s World. They maybe feeling good about there chances but they may not be feeling so good health wise. Green Bay is banged up on both sides of the ball while the Cowboys are rested and are as healthy as they’ve been all season. A lot of people like the Packers right now because of the play of QB Aaron Rodgers and I can’t blame them. Rodgers is having one of those seasons that is proving that he is the best QB in football. Even with the Jordy Nelson injury, the Packers are well equipped at the WR position with players like DeVante Adams, Randall Cobb, and TE Jarred Cook. Adams had a big game against the Cowboys 2 years ago in the playoffs in memory serves me correctly. Green Bay isn’t going to beat anyone in the ground game but Ty Montgomery’s ability as a versatile runner and receiver from out of the backfield will make him into a player that the Cowboys defense will have to account for. Montgomery is a Dallas native and he will have the extra motivation to show out in front of his family. I don’t know how the Packers held the Giants to only 13 points last week. Green Bay has some talented players on defense like Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, and safety HaHa Clinton-Dix. But as a unit, Green Bay isn’t very good defensively. That banged up secondary will mean that the Packers will have to lean on their front 7 to created stops and turnovers. The Cowboys offensive line handled the Packers front 7 quite easily in their matchup earlier this season. I don’t think the Packers will have an answer for rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas run game. In passing situations, I am scared to death of the matchup between Peppers and right tackle Doug Free. But rookie QB Dak Prescott had a decent day passing against the Packers earlier this season and he was able to play well even without WR Dez Bryant. With the current state of the Packers secondary, I fully expect Bryant to be a difference maker down the field in a way that Odell Beckham Jr wasn’t last week. The Cowboys have a highly ranked defense but really, those numbers aren’t as impressive if you’ve watched the Cowboys this season. Rodgers will have a chance at creating some big plays down the field against a defense that struggles to provide pressure or create turnovers. But the Dallas defense this season has been known for bending but not breaking. I think the Cowboys defense could be a weakness but it is a unit that is better than it was in 2014. The Cowboys had an impressive regular season but they are now approaching rare air for them. This is a franchise that hasn’t advanced to Conference Championship Sunday in 21 years. This is a huge game for the entire franchise and I believe that they will not let their inexperience of Aaron Rodgers squander their opportunity. Many of the talking heads like Green Bay on Sunday but I’m thinking that is just more wishful thinking than really believing that Dallas will lose this game. The opportunity will be too big for this team to miss. I like the Cowboys at home. Prediction: Cowboys 33 – Packers 24

Pittsburgh @ Kansas City – I’m glad that this game was pushed back into primetime for the safety of the fans traveling to Kansas City and also I can now sleep in on Sunday without fear of missing any of the NFL Playoff action. This matchup should be a good one in Kansas City in a great atmosphere like Arrowhead Stadium. That place will be packed and rocking. I also want to say this first: I think the winner of this game will end up advancing to the Super Bowl. That being said, it is going to be really hard for me to not pick the Steelers to win this game. Pittsburgh was a pre season favorite going into this season but they kind of lost their way and found themselves with a 4-5 record after 9 games. They may not have had a tough schedule to close out the season but that doesn’t matter really. We have to give them credit for the run they are currently on and they did have to overcome some adversity against division rivals Cincinnati and Baltimore. The reason why the Steelers were pre season Super Bowl favorites was because of the talent they have on the offensive side of the ball. And that talent was on full display last week against Miami. I know that Miami isnt a good team and they kind of backed into the playoffs but WR Antonio Brown and RB Le’Veon Bell looked unstoppable last week. QB Ben Roethlisberger also had an impressive outing. I guess we can talk about the defense starting to play better even though last week they were hardly tested against an one-dimensional offense led by a backup QB. But still, that defense improving will be key if the Steelers want to make it to the Super Bowl. And that unit is improving. But here comes the bad news Pittsburgh fans: Kansas City isn’t Miami. I liked Kansas City all season. I like their defense. I like their ball control offense. I like Andy Reid and his experience. Limiting the combo of Bell, Brown, and Big Ben maybe a huge chore for the Chiefs defense but I think they will at least be up to it. I like Kansas City up front on defense. They have three really good pass rushers in Tamba Hali, Dee Ford, and Justin Houston. I think they will be able to pressure Big Ben in a way that he hasn’t felt in a while. Though on the other hand, the Pittsburgh offensive line has been performing well this season and they do not get enough credit. Protecting Ben will be a huge part of this game especially when you figure in Ben’s ankle injury. The Chiefs suffered a tough injury near the end of the season to LB Derrick Johnson. Since then, the Chiefs have struggled at stopping the run. I think they better figure out a way to slow Bell and the Pittsburgh running attack. If Bell can get loose, he will control the tempo of this game. Antonio Brown is the best WR in the league but KC’s secondary is really good. CB Marcus Peters is a tough player who has the knack at creating big plays. Safety Eric Berry is probably the best at his position in the league and he will be an issue in the box defending the run and covering the deep ball. Many people are saying that they cannot count on QB Alex Smith and the Chiefs offense out scoring the Steelers with their many offensive weapons. Alex Smith has been forever slept on especially in the playoffs and I think he will prove on Sunday night to be better than what most people believe. Even without Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs have a decent run game. Plus, Smith has some pretty good receivers to go to as well. TE Travis Kelce is a difference maker down the field. WR Jeremy Maclin is good on his own right. And rookie WR Tyreek Hill is a speedster who can affect the game as a kick returner. I think the Chiefs offense is more capable than what people believe. It has been a long time since the Chiefs have won a home playoff game and Andy Reid as a coach has a great record when coming off of the bye week. Earlier this season, the Steelers squashed the Chiefs at home. KC then went on the bye week and returned to go on a great run which led them to the AFC West crown. I don’t think the Chiefs have forgot about that Sunday night beat down in Heinz Field. I think that the KC front seven on defense will find a way to bother Roethlisberger and they will come up with more stops than the Steelers defense will produce. It will be close but I’m taking the Chiefs at Arrowhead. Prediction: Chiefs 24 – Steelers 20

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