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NFL 2017: Week 8 Predictions!

buffalo-bills

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.

 

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NFL 2016: AFC North Preview

leveon-bell

The Steelers will be contenders in 2016 even without Le’Veon Bell for the first 3 games. Right?

By: Elias McMillan

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers – Last year, the talk was that the Steelers were going to have to score 35 plus a game because the defense was suppose to be so bad. As the season when on, we saw what the offense could do despite all of the injuries and the defense kind of over achieved. Pittsburgh ran into so many problems last season when it comes to injuries but they still were so close to beating the eventually champion Broncos in the playoffs. That should serve as motivation going into 2016 as the Steelers will return a great offensive attack again along with a defense that will need to play better than what they look like on paper. On offense, everyone will talk about the QB and the skill players but if you watched last season, you saw that the offensive line was really the unsung heroes on that side of the ball. In 2016, the offensive will receive a couple of key guys back from injury and they acquired a new tackle from the Super Bowl Champion Broncos team. I expect the offensive line to be great again this season. I would expect Ben Roethlisberger to be the same tough player that he has always been in his career in 2016. RB Le’Veon Bell will miss the first 3 games of 2016 but I think the blow of not having him early on won’t be as big. Bell is a top back in the league but he has had issues with staying healthy. The time off might help him remain fresher through the season. Also, RB DeAngelo Williams played surprisingly well last season in the back up role and he’ll carry that confidence into 2016. Bell is in his contract year and with his suspension history, it is likely that 2016 will be his last in the black and gold. I bring this up because once Bell gets back on the field he will be extra motivated to show his worth to the Steelers and the other 31 teams in preparation for 2017. Bell might only play in 13-16 games but he is too talented to not be a factor in Pittsburgh’s offense. The real star on offense for the Steelers is at WR. Antonio Brown can do it all for this offense and he is primed for another great campaign. The depth at receiver this year could be a bit shaky with the suspension of Martavis Bryant but I think Markus Wheaton, Sammie Coates, and Darrius Heyward-Bey are capable to be big targets when called upon. TE Heath Miller retired but the Steelers quickly moved in free agency and signed Ladarius Green from San Diego. Green can be a valuable receiver and Ben likes to use the TE a lot. But Green’s status is already up in the air because of injury concerns. Because of injuries and suspensions, you can see the floor for the Pittsburgh offense this season but the veteran pieces at key position should be able to hold everything together. On defense, the worries don’t come from the front seven. Pittsburgh had a top 5 run defense a season ago and the defensive line returns the same leaders from a season ago. At the outside linebacker rush positions, Bud Dupree merely scratched the surface in his rookie season and I think he can improve in 2016. James Harrison has yet to be replaced because he is defying the aging process. At 38, he is still probably the Steelers best disruptor off the edge. The Steelers also return the duo of inside LB’s Ryan Shazier and Lawrence Timmons. The weakness of the defense will be in the secondary again. Safety Mike Mitchell offers a lot as a physical tackler but not much as a pass defender. Is Robert Golden ready to be the starter opposite of Mitchell? William Gay can make big plays at times but no one really sees him as a number 1 corner in this league. I like the draft picks of Artie Burns and Sean Davis. Those two rookies might be called upon earlier that expected in this defense. There might be a few wrinkles but I think this Steelers team will be similar or even better than the one from last year. If the Steelers can survive their division and if you look at how the other top teams in the AFC have done in the offseason, you’ll see why I think this Steelers team will have a shot at being the top team in the AFC in 2016. Prediction: 12-4 (AFC North Champs)

Cincinnati Bengals – With the way Cincinnati’s season ended, you would think some of that would carry over into 2016. That maybe true but the Bengals still return a talented roster into this season and they will be Pittsburgh’s main rival for the division crown. Cincinnati had an epic meltdown in the playoff game against the Steelers but many people have already forgot that they almost pulled off with the victory while having to start their backup at QB. Andy Dalton was playing well before getting hurt right before the playoff game. Seeing how close his team got without him should prove to be a huge motivation for Dalton this season. The Bengals have lost some talent at the WR position but they have also gained some as well. All-pro, AJ Green is still the leader of the group along with veterans Brandon Tate and Brandon LaFell. But I expect rookie WR Tyler Boyd to eventually become the breakout target in this offense in 2016. The RB duo of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard still looks good on paper but they both kind of underperformed last season. I don’t now if the Bengals need better blocking upfront but Hill and Bernard need to become bigger factors in this offense. On defense, the Bengals return many of the familiar characters that have been apart of the unit for years now. Cincinnati’s defense has plenty of experience but I’m worried because experience is really just code for “old”. Cincy’s front four was a top 10 run defending unit in 2015 and they’ll be lead once again by DT Geno Atkins. The starting linebackers are pretty much the same aside from they replaced an aging vet with another aging vet. A.J. Hawk only lasted one year and Karlos Dansby will replace him. Dansby was only let go from Cleveland because of his age but he definitely has a lot left in the tank. Cincinnati has always spent a wealth of draft picks on the secondary but that group was a weak point last season. I liked the first round selection of William Jackson from Houston but an injury will keep him on the bench for at least the first half of the season. CB Adam Jones returns as the veteran leader, which is crazy by itself. This defense is still waiting on Darqueze Dennard and Dre Kirkpatrick to play like the first rounders that they are. The secondary will really be hurt by the departure of safety Reggie Nelson. This Bengals team will probably have the same issues as it did a season ago but I think the individual talent from a few will be able to carry this team for at least one more trip to the postseason. Hopefully, they can be healthier than last year. But even if then, this team just seems allergic to winning big time ball games. With a few downgrades on the roster, can Marvin Lewis survive yet another disappointing ending? Prediction: 10-6 (Wildcard)

Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens had a worst-case scenario type of season in 2015. And they were still able to beat the rival Steelers twice. With all the injuries they had a season ago, Baltimore fans can enter 2016 with a sense of optimism. QB Joe Flacco is back, the offensive line is retooled, and the talent at the skill positions seems solid. At RB, Justin Forsett will be looking to bounce back from an injury and depth behind him at the position is pretty good with Javorius Allen and Terrance West. The WR position looks bleaker than I originally thought. I’m excited to see the return of Steve Smith in his final season but I’m disappointed that last year’s first rounder, Breshad Perriman, is still fighting to get on the field because of injuries. Kamar Aiken and Chris Matthews are decent receivers but they are not gonna demand the ball or take away attention from the defense like top receivers do. But Flacco does like going to the TE’s a lot and the Ravens have a wealth of talent at that postion. Dennis Pitta is ready to return from a season long injury, Crockett Gilmore and Maxx Williams have plenty of ability, and they signed Benjamin Watson who is one of the most respected players in the league. I don’t know what Perriman will bring to the table once healthy but until then, Flacco will be sorely missing a deep threat on this offense. Baltimore is really going to have to do well upfront at run blocking and keeping Flacco healthy. On defense, Baltimore isn’t the elite unit that it once was but they are a veteran laden group. On the defensive line, they have a group that is still relatively young and average. The strength of this defense comes from the group of linebackers. The outside pass rushing roles will be held down again by veterans Elvis Dumervil and appearing in perhaps his last season, Terrell Suggs. The real star is in the middle of the defense where CJ Mosley plays. Mosley is probably among the best LB’s in the league and he is just entering his third season. Baltimore’s secondary will receiver a boost this season as they brought in veteran safety Eric Weddle. Paired up with Lardarius Webb, they will form one of the better safety combos in the league. At corner, the Ravens don’t have a lot of depth, as Jimmy Smith is the only standout player. Baltimore will be hungry this year to bounce back after that disaster that was 2015. But they are a little “long in the tooth” when it comes to age and their overall talent just isn’t where it was year’s ago when they where mainstays in the playoffs. I think the Ravens will improve and compete for a playoff spot but I don’t see them playing past December. Prediction: 9-7

Cleveland Browns – Going into 2016, it is the same old sad story for the Browns. The prior plan at leadership didn’t work. Management has brought in the next head coach. Sweeping changes are on the way. Etc. Etc. Etc. Why will this time be any different? Hue Jackson is coming off some successful seasons coaching behind Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati and Jackson wasn’t awful in his last head gig in Oakland. Jackson is a good offensive coach and his players usually like him a lot. I would trust Jackson to build this team in his image but we have to consider that he is now in Cleveland, which has always been an impossible situation. I’m rooting for Jackson and I really hope that the Cleveland brass give him the time that Oakland didn’t give him. Cleveland really needs to solidify the QB position in 2016. Robert Griffin III was brought in from Washington and he enters a great situation with Jackson who has a rep for getting the most out of his QB’s. I think Griffin can show flashes of his former self in Cleveland this season. The issue will be keeping him healthy for 16 games. Cleveland also needs to build up that offensive line. Joe Thomas and Cameron Erving maybe be solid pieces but that unit, as a whole needs to be great if they hope to have RG3 for most of the season. It would be nice if Griffin had a running game to lean on. RB’s Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson have plenty of ability but they are both very inconsistent. I’m really excited at what the Browns could have at the WR position in 2016. First round pick, Corey Coleman, is drawing comparisons to a young Steve Smith. QB turned WR, Terrelle Pryor, is already turning heads in the preseason. And WR Josh Gordon is scheduled to return from suspension in Week 5. If Gordon can reinvent himself while being the player that he once was and if Pryor can carry over his play from the preseason, the Browns could have one of the most talented WR cores in the league. The real key will be if Griffin can return to form under the tutelage of coach Jackson. Almost forgot to mention that the Browns also have a great TE in Gary Barnidge. They just happen to have a lot to offer at the receiving positions in 2016. On defense, the Browns have some promising youngsters but overall they need a lot of help. On the defensive line, last year’s first round pick Danny Shelton will be looking forward to being the leader they drafted him to be. The young movement upfront will be fully in place this season with Xavier Cooper and rookie Carl Nassib likely playing aside Shelton. Cleveland has suffered for years at pressuring the opponent’s QB. Paul Kruger is a player that can rush the passer but he is getting up there in age and the Browns don’t have another guy like him starting on the other side. Cleveland will be hoping for LB Nate Orchard to step it up in his second year but also look out for touted rookie Emmanuel Ogbah. The Browns let Karlos Dansby go so, younger veterans, Demario Davis and Christian Kirksey, will lead the middle of the defense in 2016. Cleveland’s secondary will be a problem area again especially after they loss starting safety Tashaun Gibson in free agency. CB Joe Haden is one of the best corners in the league but fellow first rounder, Justin Gilbert, has been a massive disappointment. Its going to be interesting to see what Hue Jackson can do with the pieces they have on offense but Cleveland will be seriously short staffed defensively in 2016. Again, the Browns are years away from contending and the real question will be if Jackson will be around long enough to help build up the rest of the roster. Prediction: 4-12

NFL 2013: Week 9 Predictions!

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Don’t look now. But Cam Newton has the Panthers on the move in the NFC South.

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 10-3

Season: 73-47

Big Five Games of the Week

Kansas City @ Buffalo – The Chiefs are still undefeated at mid-season but they are bound to lose at some point. This weekend in Buffalo will be a perfect trap situation for the Chiefs. The Bills aren’t a great football right now but they played in a lot of close games at home this season. They may not know what they are getting out of the QB position due to some injuries but RB Fred Jackson has been solid this year. Plus, RB C.J. Spiller does return this week. The Bills are led on defense by DE Mario Williams who is having a career year. Rookie LB Kiko Alonso has also been a nice surprise for the Bills as he leads the team in tackles. I’m selling the Bills for the upset this season but I’m not brave enough to actually call it. Kansas City’s defense will have to take advantage of who ever the Bills bring out to play QB. The Bills defense will present a real good challenge. Kansas City must continue to feed Jamaal Charles and control the clock in this game. Prediction: Chiefs 24 – Bills 23

San Diego @ Washington – This game should feature a lot of offense. Washington is capable of scoring in bunches now that the running game is solid. You have to wonder if Robert Griffin III can continue to use his legs so affectively as he is starting to become prone to some in-game injuries. Griffin is having problems playing from behind as well. When Washington needs to pass to keep pace with the other team, that’s when they turnover the ball. I think that’s a scenario that might present its self this weekend, as the Chargers are capable of putting up points. Plus, you have to consider how bad Washington’s defense has been this year. They started out tough last week but eventually, Peyton Manning had his way. Phillip Rivers isnt Peyton Manning but he is having a bounce back season and will air it out against this team. If Washington cannot get enough stops in this game, they will be in trouble. Prediction: Chargers 35 – Redskins 27

Atlanta @ Carolina – The Falcons have been a disaster this season. You could call it the “NFC South Champion” curse, as the division has never produced a back-to-back winner. The Falcons have been doomed by injuries. Both star WRs Roddy White and Julio Jones are hurt and RB Steven Jackson is just now returning from injury. QB Matt Ryan is greatly missing his star WRs and his offensive line has been greatly under performing. Atlanta’s defense is also among the worst in the league. Meanwhile in Carolina, the Panthers are winners of three straight. QB Cam Newton is playing some really good football lately. It helps that the Panthers running attack has been reliable this season with a healthy DeAngelo Williams. Plus, RB Jonathan Stewart is really close to returning. WR Steve Smith contributes every week and WR Ted Ginn Jr has been a great, field-stretching target for Newton. I’m buying the Panthers to contend for a playoff spot and for the Falcons to contend for a top ten draft pick. Prediction: Panthers 30 – Falcons 20

Indianapolis @ Houston – This would be a bigger game if the Texans hadn’t flown completely off the handle. But Houston isnt in a hole big enough that they cant dig out of. Houston still has the number one ranked pass defense in the league and last time I checked, J.J. Watt is still healthy. RB Adrian Foster might be ready to return this week and Houston still has playmakers at the WR position. What might kill any momentum to get back in the playoff race would be a QB change. I know that QB Matt Schaub is going through a tough stretch but I thought that Houston needed to stick by him and help him snap outta of it. Instead, QB Case Keenum is now the start going forward and I don’t know if he can get this Texans team over the hump. The Colts have been playing really well this season and it seems that they are on their way to a division title. The Colts have great balance on offense and their defense will really get after Keenum. I’m taking the Colts on the road. Prediction: Colts 31 – Texans 16

Chicago @ Green Bay – For the first couple weeks in the season, it looked like the Bears would compete for the NFC North crown. Now, in typical fashion, the Bears are suffering through some injuries and are in danger of fading away. The injury to QB Jay Cutler really hurt Chicago’s chances in this game. QB Josh McCown will have his hands full with this attacking Green Bay defense. The injuries on the Bears defense will really hurt Chicago in the long run and presently. The middle of that Chicago defense is looking very weak right now and the Packers are looking like a team that is starting to run the ball well. Creating balance on offense will make this Aaron Rodgers led attack even more dangerous for Green Bay. If the Bears can create some turnovers and force Rodgers into some mistakes, they might have a chance on the road but I’m not counting on it. Prediction: Packers 29 – Bears 18

The Rest of Week 9 

Bengals over Dolphins – Cincinnati is playing as well as anyone right now. Miami is having some turmoil behind the scenes.

Cowboys over Vikings – Another classic trap game in Big D. Dallas is kinda banged up but they’ll have to try extra hard to lose this one. Minnesota is an absolute mess right now.

Titans over Rams – I went back and forth on this one. I like the way the Rams played last week despite losing. I really like their defense. But St. Louis is having a hard time scoring points. Tennessee should be fresh coming off the bye week.

Saints over Jets – The Jets has had some improbable wins at home this season. But I’m not buying it this week against a superior New Orleans team.

Raiders over Eagles – Philadelphia is a mess right now. Nick Foles wont change that. Terrelle Pryor, YES, Terrelle Pryor has Oakland feeling optimistic.

Seahawks over Buccaneers – Seattle got exposed last week on the road. Now, they are back in their safe place facing a bad team. They better find a way to protect Russell Wilson or this could be an upset that no one would see coming.

Ravens over Browns – Baltimore better have regrouped during the bye. They need this win to regain some confidence.

Patriots over Steelers – Just when you thought that Pittsburgh was gonna turn it around, reality hit them last week. I honestly think they match-up really well against New England but there is a lot going wrong on that team right now.

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Aaron Rodgers (Packers) – Chicago gives up the fifth most in the league against the pass. Rodgers and his targets will be ready at home this week.

RB: Adrian Foster (Texans) – Foster is questionable but if he plays, he’ll get a lot of carries to help take the pressure off of new starting QB Case Keenum.

WR: A.J. Green (Bengals) – Andy Dalton is playing really well right now. Last week, him and Marvin Jones made a lot of big plays. This week, Green wants in on the action.

TE: Antonio Gates (Chargers) – Gates is sometimes forgotten currently. Against the Washington defense, NFL fans will get familiar once again.

DEF: Seattle – Seahawks. At home. You get the picture. But, also consider that Tampa Bay is second only to Jacksonville for having the worst offense in the NFL.