Tag Archives: Thomas Rawls

NFL Playoffs: 2017 NFL Divisional Round Predictions!

tempatlvssea_second_aj_101616_0486-nfl_mezz_1280_1024

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!

jay-ajayi

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

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 14-2

Final 2016 Regular Season Record: 163-91-2

NFL Playoffs: Wildcard Weekend

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

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

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

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

NFL 2016: Week 11 Predictions!

demarco-murray-111316-getty-ftrjpg_1ceaewk9z0zv81a73vhdomfxk7

If the Titans want to make a serious run at the AFC South title, they have to win in Indianapolis this Sunday.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 7-7

Season: 87-58-2

Big Five Games of the Week

Baltimore @ Dallas – The Cowboys are still riding high on their incredible winning streak and after a crazy win late in Pittsburgh last week. I don’t know if Dallas is going to be able to ride this hot streak into December. Weird things can happen in divisional games and they still have three more of those left. But outside of those rivalry games, Baltimore is definitely the toughest game left on the schedule; at least on paper. Baltimore enters this week after a few days of extra rest, as they were able to beat Cleveland last Thursday night. I think the Ravens defense will be a tougher test for the Dallas offense this week compared to what they faced in Pittsburgh last week. The Ravens enter Sunday with the top rank run defense in the league but it seems like the Cowboys run game is a monster with no signs of slowing down. Rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott solidified himself as a legit MVP candidate last week and he is receiving great support still by his offensive line. Baltimore is tough up front on defense so running the ball will he a chore for Dallas. It just seems that that Dallas running attack has taken on all challengers all season. It will be an interesting matchup. Baltimore’s offense is so erratic and inconsistent. Dallas, surprisingly, defends the run quite well. So, it might be up to Joe Flacco and the vertical passing game to pick up chunks against the defense to get into scoring range. The Cowboys secondary is banged up so maybe Flacco could have success. But while Flacco has struggled to find consistency this season, rookie QB Dak Prescott has been steady while displaying big play capabilities with the many weapons he has to go to. This maybe a tough one but I’m gonna stick with Dallas to stay hot going into Thanksgiving. Prediction: Cowboys 26 – Ravens 20

Tennessee @ Indianapolis – I called out the Titans last week for failing in big moments. They responded by crushing the Packers as a home underdog. This week, they’ll be in another big spot but this time it will be on the road against a division rival. Tennessee was able to stay close with the Colts in their first meeting this season before the Titans completely fell apart in the 4th. While riding the momentum of a big win a week ago and not forgetting what happen in the last meeting against the Colts, I think Tennessee will be looking to prove a point this Sunday in Indy. Tennessee isn’t going to beat anyone with defense. They need to do what they did last week and jump on team’s quickly with their offense. Tennessee can run the ball with the best of them with DeMarco Murray and QB Marcus Mariota is starting to come along on his own. Indianapolis has been underwhelming this season but they have enough talent to put up a good fight at home. Andrew Luck is still one of the better QB in the league and T.Y. Hilton was a problem for the Titans a few weeks ago. Tennessee needs to do a better job this week at protecting their QB and limiting Indy’s big plays on offense. I think the Titans will be ball control football and put the AFC South on notice with a big road victory this Sunday. Prediction: Titans 27 – Colts 24

Philadelphia @ Seattle – The Eagles looked impressive last week when they defeated a superior Atlanta team at home. This season the Eagles have been a different team at home than they are on the road. That sounds like what Seattle usually is. But the Seahawks flipped the script last week and scored a huge road victory against the best team in the AFC. Coming off that high along with their reputation at home, Seattle will be a tough team to beat on Sunday. I think Seattle’s defense will look as good as ever against rookie QB Carson Wentz. The Eagles have issues with protecting their QB and that serves to what Seattle does very well defensively. Thinking of defense, Philadelphia’s defense is what has been impressive for this team at home at least. But Seattle is starting to come around on offense. Russell Wilson is starting to play like his old self after recovering from injury. Rookie RB C.J. Prosise provided a boost from the backfield last week and Thomas Rawls is slated to return this week as well. What really has Wilson playing well lately is the emergence of TE Jimmy Graham who will be a handful for the Eagles defense. I’m taking the home favorites. Prediction: Seahawks 30 – Eagles 20

Green Bay @ Washington – Washington is trending upwards while Green Bay is doing the opposite. In this playoff rematch from a season ago, we will see strength vs. strength in the matchup between Aaron Rodgers and the Packers passing attack and Josh Norman and the Washington secondary. Washington’s defense isnt perfect but they have a lot of talent on that side of the football and this Packers team can not take them for granted this week. Rodgers and the Packers offense must be in attack mode for all four quarters. Another reason why that mindset is needed, Green Bay’s defense cannot stop anyone right now. QB Kirk Cousins can have his inconsistent moments but he might be able to shine against this Packers defense this Sunday night. Washington has the players to give Rodgers trouble in this game. Washington can rush the passer and they have tough corners. Its too bad that Green Bay’s run game has been so inconsistent since the injury to Eddie Lacy. James Starks is going to have to step up in this game. I think there are more reasons on the Washington side for why they will win this game but I think Aaron Rodgers will find a way to play big in primetime like he does often. Cousins has been known to falter under the big lights at times. I’m taking the Packers but not by much. Prediction: Packers 34 – Washington 33

Houston @ Oakland – I’ve said before that the international series is stupid and needs to be out of the NFL. Taking away a regular season home game from a team in order to “grow the sport” is just a bunch of bull. That being said, I think its really cool that this Texans/Raiders matchup on Monday Night Football will be played in Mexico. It definitely beats traveling across the pond to play a game that no one cares about. I sure, American Football isn’t the biggest thing in Mexico but it is obviously bigger there than it is or ever we be in London. Playing in Mexico is a great idea but why not just keep that international stuff in the preseason. Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox. I like the Raiders in this game. Brock Osweiler has Andy Dalton syndrome where he usually looks awful in primetime games. The Raiders have the front seven to get after him for most of the game. Houston’s defense will keep this close though. The Texans offensive line will have the biggest chore of the night. Oakland doesn’t have a great secondary so, if Brock is protected, I think DeAndre Hopkins will be able to do some damage. But if Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin can play like I know they can, they’ll bother Brock and cause turnovers. David Carr is playing well right now but Houston’s defense is better than what most think. If Oakland can keep a balanced attack and protect the football, they’ll be able to do enough to not lose this game. Prediction: Raiders 35 – Texans 28

The Rest of Week 11

Panthers over Saints – This will probably be the best “Color Rush” uniform combo of the season. Carolina didn’t finish last week. They’ll do so this week.

Bills over Bengals – Buffalo played Seattle real tough on road before the bye week. They come out strong again against a Cincinnati team that is slumping.

Steelers over Browns – If Pittsburgh loses this one, then the Donald Trump curse is real. For those who are unaware of the Trump curse: http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2016/11/14/social-media-reacts-were-the-pittsburgh-steelers-cursed-by-donald-trump/

Lions over Jaguars – Jacksonville continues to be horrid. Detroit is fighting for a chance to win the division.

Chiefs over Buccaneers – I loved the way Kansas City finished that game last week after being down and winning it with their defense. That will go along way for building that team’s confidence.

Cardinals over Vikings – Minnesota is a sinking ship, no pun intended.

Giants over Bears – The New York Football Giants are starting to stack up wins and no one is paying attention.

Dolphins over Rams – Jared Goff will finally start for LA but Miami’s defense played well in California last week against a polished NFL passer. Bad news for Goff and the Rams.

Patriots over 49ers – Blowout city. Brady has never played against his favorite childhood team. He’ll be looking to impress Joe Montana.

Week 11 Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Marcus Mariota (Titans) – Mariota was great last week and he will have to be again this week. Indy gives up the second most passing yards in the league.

RB: LaGarrett Blount (Patriots) – The 49ers have the worst run defense in football. Blount is having one of his best seasons this year.

WR: T.Y. Hilton (Colts) – Hilton had a big game against Tennessee earlier this season. The Colts will need him to come up big again on Sunday.

TE: Dennis Pitta (Ravens) – Pitta has the second most catches this season at the position but he has yet to score a TD. That might change this weekend against Dallas’ banged up secondary.

DEF: Miami – The Dolphins played well on defense last week and they’ll face the worst offense in football this week in Los Angeles.

NFL 2016: NFC West Preview

Chip Kelly

Was Chip Kelly the right choice at head coach for the 49ers? I say, No.

By: Elias McMillan

 

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals – Arizona has had plenty of regular season success in the last couple of years. In 2016, they will hope to turn that into a legit run to the Super Bowl. The Cardinals have proven that their offense could be championship worthy. They had the number one ranked offense in the league a season ago. But I think Arizona will be a contender again this season because of the improvements on defense. Arizona is already decent up front as they were one of the top ranked run defenses in the league. DE Calais Campbell is the stand out up front as tall and athletic pass rusher. I’m really excited to see what first round pick, DE Robert Nkemdiche, can do as a rookie. Nkemdiche, much like Campbell, offers crazy athleticism for a defensive lineman and he’ll be able to be a disruptor in this 3-4 defensive scheme. Arizona also upgraded their pass rush significantly by trading for New England defensive star, Chandler Jones. Jones may have some issues off the field but if he can stay on it, he’ll be an important piece on this defense this season. Star veteran Patrick Peterson will lead Arizona’s secondary again in 2016. But Cardinals fans are really excited for the possibility of having safety Tyrann Mathieu back and healthy for 16 games. Mathieu was having a great 2015 season before he was injured. Now that he’s healthy, he will definitely be an upgrade in the secondary in the postseason that they didn’t have during last year’s playoff run. Having a high scoring offense will continue to be apart of what makes this team successful. QB Carson Palmer is back for another year. Palmer is mistake prone at times but he clearly gives this offense the best chance at being at its best. Having a veteran signal caller like Palmer is important in this offense because the Cardinals are loaded with so much offensive talent. Having a veteran at QB assures that all that talent is being led with someone with experience. At the skill positions, the Cardinals have a mix of younger talent and veteran leadership. I think RB David Johnson could have a break out season after a successful rookie year. In relief of Johnson, Arizona brought back Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington. That’s a talented trio of backs that can do it all from out the backfield. At receiver, Larry Fitzgerald is the model of what young receivers aspire to be. Fitzgerald may be older but as you saw in the playoffs last season, he can still break a game open in cutch situations. Malcolm Floyd and Jaron Brown are also explosive receivers in this offense. Arizona has a great balance on offense and they can beat you in so many different ways. I think we will see this season that the improvements on the defensive side of the ball will add up to more success in the post season. Prediction: 12-4 (NFC West Champs)

Seattle Seahawks – Since Seattle’s emergence as a power in the NFC, they have gone through offseason’s that saw them lose starters on both sides of the ball. Despite that, this team will be deep enough again with talent to compete for a division title. Seattle took a step back last season and they probably should have lost that wildcard round playoff game in Minnesota. Seattle also had some key players leave in free agency and thru retirement. RB Marshawn Lynch retired but Seattle seemed prepared for that move. RB Thomas Rawls showed promise last season and he’ll be set to be the starter in the backfield in 2016. Seattle also drafted a couple of RB’s so they will be prepared if Rawls get injured like he did a season ago. The running game will be important in Seattle’s offense this season but as always, QB Russell Wilson will be the player that will make this offense successful or not. Wilson had a great 2015 but the perception still exists that he isn’t a great passer. Wilson may never put up Aaron Rodgers numbers but he still has the ability to come up with big play after big play in key moments in a ball game. One thing that would help Wilson in 2016 would be a better offensive line. Seattle must have realized this because Wilson will have a number of new starters up front that came over in the draft or free agency. Better play upfront will allow Wilson to display his talents inside the pocket as a passer. Seattle’s receivers still don’t get enough credit but that’s ok as long as they keep making plays for Wilson. WR Doug Baldwin is coming off his most successful season yet and is probably one of the best possession receivers in the league. WR’s Jermaine Kearse and Tyler Lockett fit the mold of what Seattle wants out of their receivers. They have an overachieving group at WR and that is just how they like it. TE Jimmy Graham could add a legit dynamic aspect to this passing game if he ever gets healthy. Seattle’s defense lost Bruce Irvin in free agency but they will still have the players upfront to be a dominant defense this season. DE’s Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, and Frank Clark are a great group at providing pressure in the backfield. Seattle not only has a great pass rush but they ranked number one in the league last season at stopping the run. Without Irvin, Seattle’s LB core doesn’t have a lot of depth with Bobby Wagner as the lone stand out. The Seahawks secondary will be great again in 2016. The Legion of Boom will return three of its main core in CB Richard Sherman and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. With the talent Seattle has upfront on defense and in the secondary, I think they’ll be good enough on that side of the ball compensate for the short coming of an offense that might not be as good without Marshawn Lynch. I don’t think Seattle’s offense will be a weakness but I do think that the team’s success will be more about what they get done on the defensive side of the ball. Seattle will be that team that no one will want to play in the post season. Prediction: 10-6 (Wildcard)

Los Angeles Rams – The Rams are back in Los Angeles and honestly, it isn’t as exciting as it sounds. It is a little different seeing “Los Angeles” associated with the NFL again. But they can try to put this team on reality shows all they want. The bottom line is that this team is as average and boring of a team that you will ever see. I mean, they do have two legit stars on both sides of the ball but nothing else really outside of that. I don’t know if this was a marketing move of a football move but the Rams traded to the top spot of this past year’s draft to take QB Jared Goff. Goff was a accomplished QB at Cal but after the preseason, head coach Jeff Fisher proclaimed him to be the “third-stringer”. No matter the case, the Rams really need someone to work successfully at the QB position in 2016. Rather it is Goff or starter Case Keenum. Even if the Rams had legit quarterbacking, the receiving core is extremely average. WR Tavon Austin is game breaker but more so on special teams. Austin just hasn’t been consistent enough as a receiver in this league yet. WR Kenny Britt is an underrated possession receiver and nothing much else. Maybe rookie WR Pharoh Cooper can be a consistent performer. I don’t know. I do know that RB Todd Gurley is the only star on this side of the ball for this team. Gurley is a great, tough runner and he is primed for another big year after a successful rookie campaign that saw him win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. The Rams will have the ability to be in a lot of games because of their tough defense. I don’t know if this defense is as good as its reputation but it is still pretty decent. Everyone is going to talk about DT Aaron Donald who is probably the best defensive lineman in the game not named J.J. Watt. Donald will continue to be a terror this season along with DE Robert Quinn. At linebacker, Alec Ogletree is an amazing athlete who plays as physical as anyone at his position. I think it is interesting to see that the Rams moved Mark Barron from safety to linebacker. That might help them to be above average at covering tight ends. Barron may have flamed out as a safety but his physicality will help him at this new position. The Rams lost CB Janoris Jenkins in free agency but I didn’t think he was that good in the first place. The Rams choose to keep CB Trumaine Johnson who is just as average of a player as Jenkins but at a cheaper price. Jenkins and Johnson gamble a lot in the secondary. So, they may rack up interceptions but they also get beat a lot. This Rams secondary will get beat a lot in 2016. They are really thin at the safety position and I don’t think much of corners Johnson or Coty Sensabaugh. “They” wanted a NFL team in Los Angeles and “they” got it. The average Rams are the team that LA deserves. The ownership is clearly too busy counting new revenue to care if this team actually competes or not. They might even give Jeff Fisher another contract extension. Outside of Gurley and Donald, the entire situation with this football organization is a huge joke. But hey, it will be Lakers season soon and the Dodgers might make the playoffs. Prediction: 7-9

San Francisco 49ers – The 49ers have gone through a lot of changes since their most recent Super Bowl appearance. That team’s roster has been pretty much gutted and replaced with not much. San Francisco was just dealt a bad card where many players just left via free agency or through retirement. The 49ers organization is starting the climb back but I’m starting to believe that it will take awhile before they get back there. I understand that Jim Tomsula (the mic rula) wasn’t going to work out as head coach for this team. I believed that this team needed a NFL vet that would command respect while attracting free agents to this history-laced organization. Instead, they hired Chip Kelly who will do neither. QB Colin Kaepernick has been dragged through the media recently and not because of his protest of the national anthem. People will say that Kaepernick is washed up and not the same player he was when he was winning playoff games in Lambeau Field while leading his 49ers to the Super Bowl. Amazing. It’s amazing that many in the media are ignoring that his roster has been completely gutted since then and very few QB’s would see success in that situation. I’m not saying that makes up for Kaepernick’s failures but it definitely means something. Kaepernick is also coming off shoulder surgery, has recently changed up his diet and is looking a bit skinny. Coach Kelly actually alluded to this recently. This is the only way I could excuse starting Blaine Gabbert over him. Once Kaepernick is 100%, he should start immediately. Even if he does or doesn’t, he is in a no win situation with Chip Kelly in San Francisco. Kelly is not going to attract free agents to San Fran and I don’t trust him with building a team with “his guys”. I don’t know what held up the proposed trade in the offseason involving Kaepernick but he needs to find a way out of there. Denver would have been the perfect landing spot. But I digress. The passing game this season will not mean much for the 49ers as their WR core is extremely thin on talent. WR Torrey Smith is the clear-cut best option from a group of no names. RB Carlos Hyde was supposed to be a break out player last season but he kind of disappointed. I think Hyde is talented enough to bounce back in 2016 and this team will really need him to do so. I feel a lot better about the 49er defense than I do the offense. It will be interesting to see this Oregon led defensive line with 2nd year guy, Arik Armstead and rookie DeForest Buckner. The real standouts on this defense will be at the linebacker position. LB Ahmad Brooks is a dynamic pass rusher and LB NaVorro Bowman is still a run stopping missile. This defense has a pretty good mix at safety with Eric Reid and veteran Antoine Bethea. The Niners are really thin at corner where safety turned corner Jimmie Ward might be a full season starter this year. It is going to be a long climb back for this franchise but I don’t think Chip Kelly or Colin Kaepernick will be there long enough to see it. Prediction: 4-12

NFL 2015: Week 12 Predictions!

Tony Romo

Tony Romo is back. And this time, he’s on a mission to save the world. I think.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 8-6

Season: 101-59

Big Five Games of the Week

Carolina @ Dallas – Carolina is still undefeated going into this Thanksgiving matchup against the Cowboys. Carolina looked really impressive last week crushing Washington in all three phases of the game. Carolina’s defense is the real tone setter for this team as the offense just does enough to put enough points on the board. Not to take any thing away from Cam Newton, as he is a legit MVP candidate. But Carolina ranks near the bottom in passing offense. Carolina runs the ball decently and they should match up nicely against a Cowboys defense that can get consistent play from their front four. Dallas’ defense has issues with creating turnovers in the secondary but I don’t really see Newton really torching this team through the air. Newton throws the ball so hard. I wouldn’t be surprised if that equated into some turnovers for the Dallas defense finally. On offense, the Cowboys got their savior back last week in Tony Romo. Romo was a bit rusty but he got the job done that pass QB’s couldn’t do in the last seven weeks. I think Romo will play better as he gets more comfortable but that might be hard to do this week against the Panthers defense. Romo’s pass protection has been shaky in the last couple weeks as he needs better play from his tackles this week. Dallas has been consistent with the running game recently as RB Darren McFadden is running hard. Now with the passing game back as being a legit threat, the Panthers defense will have its hands full in this game. Carolina has been probably the most impressive team in the league so far this season but I don’t see them winning out. They are definitely beatable in this road matchup. I believe Carolina is the better team but I’m going full homer with this pick. Dallas needs this win if they are able to pull it off the confidence for the rest of the season will be sky high. It should be interesting. I’m taking the Cowboys. Prediction: Cowboys 32 – Panthers 28

Minnesota @ Atlanta – Both of these NFC playoff contenders find themselves in the same place going into this Week 12 matchup. Minnesota was outclassed at home last week against Green Bay but really, that game was closer than what the scoreboard said. Atlanta had the chance to get an impressive win last week at home but a couple late Matt Ryan turnovers won it for the Colts. Now, both teams are looking up at their division leaders but they still have time to maybe catch up. Atlanta’s defense has underwhelmed recently especially at stopping the run. Atlanta has great talents at the skill positions on offense but Ryan’s turnovers are becoming an issue. Plus, starting RB Devonta Freeman may not play because he suffered a concussion last week. It might be hard to believe that the Falcons would lose two straight at home but I’m taking the Vikings to bounce back against them this week. Atlanta has a top ranked run defense but Adrian Peterson should still have a big game. Prediction: Vikings 29 – Falcons 24

Tampa Bay @ Indianapolis – Don’t look now but the Buccaneers are starting to stake their claim for second place in the NFC South. The Bucs are playing better down the stretch especially on the defensive side of the ball. Tampa’s linebackers have especially been impressive recently. QB Jameis Winston is still a work in progress but he is coming off his most impressive game in his rookie year. Winston’s 5-touchdown pass performance last week might go a long way in the maturation of him as a player. Indy had struggles scoring points last week but they eventually got it together and was able to win a close one. Indy’s defense was able to close out a victory by causing some late turnovers. Hopefully, that performance can be infectious as Winston can be prone to turnovers. The Colts did a good job stopping Atlanta’s run game last week and they’ll face another big test this week in Tampa’s Doug Martin. Martin is coming off a monster game and Tampa will be hoping to give him his fair share of touches on Sunday. QB Matt Hasselbeck was shaky last week but I believe that he can play better against the Tampa Bay secondary. I’m taking the Colts. Prediction: Colts 20 – Buccaneers 14

Pittsburgh @ Seattle – Coming off the bye week, the Steelers have a tall task on Sunday against Seattle on the road. Pittsburgh has fought off a lot of injuries this season but they have a lot of talent on that roster and they are still a very dangerous team. Seattle has not been as impressive this season compared to years past. Seattle still has a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball but I don’t feel that teams really fear that unit as they used to. Ben Roethlisberger wont be shy on Sunday, as he will attempt to attack the Legion of Boom from all angles. The matchup between Antonio Brown and Richard Sherman should especially be entertaining. Pittsburgh’s running game didn’t look great in their last game and Seattle still has one of the better run defenses in the league. So, I would expect Roethlisberger to throw the ball a lot of Sunday. For Seattle, they will once again be without Marshawn Lynch. Rookie Thomas Rawls has been playing great in Lynch’s absence and Seattle will continue to give him the bulk of the carries against this Steelers defense. Pittsburgh has been a tough team to run against this season so this matchup will be key. Pittsburgh’s secondary has been a weakness this season but QB Russell Wilson will be in serious trouble if his offensive line continues to play like it has been all season. Pittsburgh’s pass rush has been inconsistent at times this season but I believe that they will be able to get after Wilson on Sunday. I think Seattle will win this game on Sunday because Pittsburgh offense will become one dimensional against the Seattle defense. I think Roethlisberger will turn in over a couple of times as Seattle can still be a tough place to play as an opposing QB. I think Pittsburgh is the more talented team but Seattle needs a big home victory to regain some of the confidence that was lost in their last real big home game vs. Arizona. Prediction: Seahawks 28 – Steelers 17

New England @ Denver – Is Brock Osweiler the future at QB for the Broncos? That remains to be unseen but he looked decent last week on the road. They will need another strong performance from Osweiler this week as the Broncos will be hosting the undefeated Patriots on Sunday night. New England is undefeated and you must respect that but much like the Panthers in the NFC, the Patriots are not an unstoppable juggernaut and they are beatable. In New England’s last two games vs. the Giants and the Bills, both of the opposing defenses were able to pressure New England’s offense and it took some heroics for the Patriots to come out victorious. I believe Denver has a better defense than the Bills and the Giants and it will be the greatest test for Tom Brady yet this season. Denver has the pass rush to get after Brady and the secondary is physical and tough to knock around New England’s receivers. Brady was kind of shorthanded last week without Julian Edelman and he might be really shorthanded this week as Danny Amendola is questionable due to a knee injury. TE Rob Gronkowski was quiet last week but Brady might have to force him the ball this week. Denver did a good job limiting Chicago’s offense last week and that defense will definitely be up to the task this week at home against Tom Brady. On offense, Denver must continue to keep things simple for Osweiler as New England’s defense is pretty good. DE Chandler Jones is having a great season and Osweiler will need to know where he is lining up at all times. I think Gary Kubiak will be able to run his offense the way he wants to this week in terms of running the football. New England has a tough run defense but they didn’t have a strong performance last week at home. It will take a total team effort for the Broncos but I believe that they’ll be able to give the Patriots their first loss of the season this Sunday night. Peyton Manning might never start a game again for Denver. Prediction: Broncos 27 – Patriots 20

The Rest of Week 12

Lions over Eagles – Jim Caldwell is getting his Lions to play hard for him even though his time with the team might be running out. Philadelphia is trending down as the finger pointing has officially begun.

Packers over Bears – A strange but busy night for the NFC North this Thanksgiving. Its Brett Favre night at Lambeau Field. Zero chance for Chicago tomorrow night.

Bengals over Rams – It’s not time to panic in Cincinnati.

Raiders over Titans – Oakland is starting to lose that early season glow that they had. Tennessee is just a bad team this year.

Chiefs over Bills – Philadelphia fans must be so salty over Kansas City’s unexpected success this season. The Chiefs might be able to ride their defense into playoff contention. Tyrod Taylor will be in for a long day.

Jets over Dolphins – I still think the Jets are good enough to not be in the AFC East basement this year. Miami on the other hand……

Giants over Washington – If both NFC East teams lose on Thursday, which could very well happen, suddenly, this becomes a very important game. Its Krik Cousins and Eli Manning in a chuck fest.

Chargers over Jaguars – Phillip Rivers’ pain must end eventually, right?

Texans over Saints – DeAndre Hopkins is great no matter who is throwing him the ball. That kid has proven this season to be a legit great player.

Cardinals over 49ers – I wonder where Colin Kaepernick will be playing next season.

Ravens over Browns – Johnny Manziel played decent going into the bye week. But because the media blew up an Instagram post, he will never get the chance to prove his worth to the Cleveland organization. The Browns are a mess and they should be detracted from the league. Baltimore lost Joe Flacco for the season but who cares. The boos from the Factory of Sadness will be deafening. #FreeJohnnyFootball

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Phillip Rivers (Chargers) – I feel sorry for Phillip Rivers. But at least he’ll be facing a Jacksonville secondary that ranks in the bottom ten of the league.

RB: Chris Ivory (Jets) – Ivory had a tough game last week but Miami’s run defense has been consistently bad all season.

WR: DeAndre Hopkins (Texans) – Hopkins has been unstoppable and he’ll look that way again this Sunday against the Saints secondary.

TE: Delanie Walker (Titans) – Walker has been consistent and Oakland struggles against the pass.

DEF: Kansas City – The Chiefs made it a long day for Phillip Rivers last week. I’m sure they’ll be able to get after a banged up Tyrod Taylor.