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NFL 2016: Week 13 Predictions!

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The Oakland Raiders are the hottest team in the AFC going into December.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 12-4

Season: 109-66-2

Big Five Games of the Week

Dallas @ Minnesota – The Cowboys are winners of 10 straight going into December. They are still the hottest team in football but they now enter a crucial part in their schedule. Minnesota went through a rough patch and many written them off, me included. But Mike Zimmer’s team is tough and they seem to always compete down til the last second. This will especially be the case when the Vikings are at home tonight in their new stadium in front of a raucous crowd. The big match up in this game will be the Vikings defense vs. the Cowboys offense. Minnesota’s defense is a talented group with young talent and key veterans in all position groups. Minnesota’s defensive line is tough and they have the ability to pressure the QB. I really like the LB’s Minnesota has and their secondary is ranked in the top 5 in the league. I feel like I’ve said this every week but the Cowboys offense has been able to take on all challengers week after week. But I think I can say with confidence that this Minnesota defense at home will be the toughest test yet for rookie QB Dak Prescott. Minnesota doesn’t have a highly ranked run defense but they will key against the run and they might be able to win some battles with the personnel they have. Cowboys fans should be worried about Prescott and if he will be able to move the ball through the air if Minnesota can slow down Ezekiel Elliott. For the Cowboys on defense, they have been such a curious case. In November, the team went undefeated while the defense did not cause a single turnover. This was the first time in league history that a team was able to do so. That’s kind of impressive but really, it isnt a good thing. Minnesota’s offense has been short handed for most of the season but if the Cowboys defense doesn’t find a way to challenge them, Sam Bradford might have one of his best games in weeks. I don’t think that will happen but mainly, the Cowboys defense has to figure something out soon. Why not on Thursday night against an offense that can’t run the ball and has protection issues up front? I think the Vikings will play Dallas tough at home but I’m sticking with the hot team on the road. Jason Garrett’s team is starting to build a rep as a tough visiting team. Prediction: Cowboys 27 – Vikings 24

Kansas City @ Atlanta – The Chiefs scored an impressive road victory last week at Denver but I feel that they aren’t getting enough credit. Everyone is focusing on the bad decision that the Denver coach made in overtime. But I like this Chiefs team a lot. I like their pass rush and I like their ball control offense. Atlanta scored a lot of points last week but they’ll face a greater challenge this week in Kansas City. The Chiefs will present many problems that may slow down Atlanta’s high-powered offense. I think the Chiefs pass rush will be able to get after Matt Ryan. I think Kansas City will be tough to run against. I think Atlanta will be leaning on Julio Jones to provide most of the big plays down the field but a pretty good CB, Marcus Peters, will challenge him. I don’t think Alex Smith will out gun sling Matt Ryan but I do not trust Atlanta defense right now. Yes, that unit has gotten better this season but they are dealing with some injuries right now. I like the Chiefs to score their second straight road victory. Prediction: Chiefs 35 – Falcons 28

Houston @ Green Bay – The Packers won a prime time game as an underdog last week so now everyone is riding high on them. I am not. This is the same Packers team that can’t stop anyone. This is the same inconsistent Packers offense from this season. This is the same Packers team that has already lost some big ones at home this year. Everyone is ready to write off Brock Osweiler and the Houston Texans but I am not. First, they have a decent defense. Houston has one of the top pass defenses in the league and they are getting decent play out of their defensive line. Second, though Osweiler has been inconsistent, Houston can lean on Lamar Miller and the run game. Especially against the Green Bay defense. Lets face it, we all thought that the Packers were going to lose last week in Philly but that win for them wasn’t that impressive. We should have known that the Eagles were capable of laying an egg at home like they did. Houston will not lay an egg on the road this week as they have realistic playoff hopes still. I like the Texans this week. Prediction: Texans 32 – Packers 23

Buffalo @ Oakland – The Raiders are the hottest team in the AFC right now. Last week’s close victory at home against Carolina was a classic and one that the Raiders of old would have lost. These new Raiders will be looking to keep it rolling at home this Sunday against a Buffalo team that is fighting to stay in the playoff race. Buffalo has an overachieving defense under Rob Ryan and I think they’ll figure out a way to slow down David Carr and the Oakland offense. The Bills defense will keep it close and the ball game will come down to who can make the more big plays. Recently, Buffalo’s offense has been proving that they are much more than just LeSean McCoy. Shady is a big part of their success but Tyrod Taylor and the passing game is starting to become a factor as well. The Raiders have a really good defensive front seven and they played last week against the best mobile QB in the league. I think Khalil Mack and company will be prepare for what Taylor tries to throw at them. But Oakland’s weakness on defense is that secondary and Buffalo will have Sammy Watkins back from injury this week. Oakland’s defense did a great job at creating turnovers against Cam Newton and they will have to do the same this week against a different mobile QB. I think Buffalo will keep this one close but it is hard for me to pick against this Raiders team at home. Prediction: Raiders 22 – Bills 16

New York Giants @ Pittsburgh – The Giants quietly have the second best record in the NFC and they have won six straight. But lets be real, who have they beaten in that streak. A bunch of nobody’s. The 2016 Steelers may not be world-beaters but they will bring this Giants team right back down to earth on Sunday at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh seems to always have a big victory at home against a NFC team. It wasn’t going to happen against Dallas this year but I think it has a better chance of happening this week. The New York Giants shouldn’t be able to slow down the Pittsburgh offense. Big Ben, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and company should be able to have impressive stat sheets once this one is done and over. But Pittsburgh’s defense really isn’t that good, either. So, we will be likely looking at a shootout between Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning. Odell Beckham Jr and Antonio Brown will be trying to one up each other on each possession. Both QB’s will throw the long ball with ease. The Steelers do have the edge at running the football but Bell will be facing a tough defensive line that the Giants offer. Jason Pierre Paul was a beast last week but again, that was against Cleveland. I don’t trust either defense in this matchup and the winner will likely be the team with the ball last. Mike Tomlin will make damn sure on Sunday that the Steelers will be that team. Pittsburgh needs this one at home to start out December on the right foot. Prediction: Steelers 39 – Giants 33

The Rest of Week 13

Bears over 49ers – Colin Kaepernick is playing well recently but the San Fran defense is still so bad. They will make the Chicago second string look like Pro Bowlers.

Eagles over Bengals – Philadelphia stinks and it is time to pack it up for their 2016 season. Lucky for them, Cincy appears to be done as well without a couple of key players missing from the offense.

Patriots over Rams – New England won ugly last week and they’ll probably have to do the same this week against a bad but tough LA team.

Lions over Saints – Detroit needs to begin their push towards the postseason on Sunday on the road.

Broncos over Jaguars – Jacksonville should bring out the 1998 team that upset Denver in the playoffs to play in this game. They might stand a better chance than the current team.

Dolphins over Ravens – Pittsburgh fans will rejoice to see this final. Miami has confidence and they are looking to stay in the playoff picture.

Cardinals over Washington – Arizona is bad this year but they have a pretty good secondary and they will challenge the suddenly hot Kirk Cousins. I like the Cards in an upset.

Chargers over Buccaneers – Tampa scored a huge upset at home this week. A long flight to southern California will serve as a wet towel. San Diego will play great at home for once.

Seahawks over Panthers – A Bad road loss followed by an ultra impressive home victory. Same old Seahawks.

Colts over Jets – Indy would have actually stood a chance last Thursday if they had Andrew Luck. That should serve as motivation this week but the Jets will be a tough out at home in primetime.

Week 13 Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Matthew Stafford (Lions) – Stafford should be on his “A” game against the New Orleans secondary.

RB: Jordan Howard (Bears) – The young Chicago runner will find plenty of room against the 49ers defense.

WR: Antonio Brown (Steelers) – Brown will have a good time on Sunday against the trash talking, loud mouthed Janoris Jenkins of the Giants.

TE: Travis Kelce (Chiefs) – Kelce was Alex Smith’s go to receiver down the stretch last week at Denver.

DEF: New England – I kind of feel sorry for rookie Jared Goff this weekend going up against a Bill Belichick coached defense. He will definitely see some things that he didn’t see in college.

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NFL 2016: Week 6 Predictions!

NFL: Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers

Green Bay’s defensive front seven has been impressive so far this season. They’ll see their toughest test this weekend when Dallas comes to town.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 7-7

Season: 43-34

Big Five Games of the Week

Cincinnati @ New England – I don’t know what’s wrong with Cincinnati but they better get it figured out real fast. Last week in Dallas, they found themselves down 28 nothing in a game that ended up not being close at all. The Bengals seem to have major problems defensively and they are struggling up front offensively, which is affecting the run and pass game. Cincinnati took their lumps last week and that will probably continue on the road this week against New England. The Patriots got their leader back last week in Tom Brady. They also received reinforcements on the defensive line. New England is stronger on both sides of the ball now compared to earlier in the season and they are going to play at a high level for the foreseeable future. Cincinnati has most of the same talent they got them into the playoffs for the last couple of years but they are currently trending down. I don’t see them competing with the Patriots on Sunday in Tom Brady’s homecoming at Gillette Stadium. Prediction: Patriots 35 – Bengals 20

Baltimore @ New York Giants – The Giants struggled on offense again this past week but it was against a pretty good defense in Minnesota. This week, the Giants offense will look to get back on track against a Ravens defense at home. Baltimore is still an inconsistent team and you really can’t get a good read on them. The Ravens are usually a tough defensive team but their offense cant get on track or score enough points to put opponents away. Joe Flacco and company will probably find it tough this week against New York’s defense on the road. Baltimore’s weakness on defense is in the secondary and that should serve Eli Manning and the Giants passing attack well. Without Steve Smith in the lineup, Flacco will be looking for his younger receivers to step up this week but they will struggle to go blow for blow against Manning’s passing attack. Eli Manning has been heavily criticized this season but I believe that he will be able to look like his old self this week. Prediction: Giants 33 – Ravens 23

Kansas City @ Oakland – The Raiders are a fun team to watch each week. This is mainly because their defense can’t put away opponents, which leads to late game heroics by David Carr and the offense. This week, the Raiders are at home against a Kansas City team that is coming off the bye week and is looking to play much better than they showed so far this season. Kansas City will receive full contributions this week from Jamaal Charles who is finally really to take the reins of the KC backfield. Kansas City usually runs the ball well but they will be tested by a very good Raiders front seven on defense. Oakland struggles mightily against the pass, which is good news for Alex Smith. If the Raiders can’t pressure Smith, he’ll be able to go throw for throw against Oakland’s offensive attack. Kansas City’s defense took some serious beatings early this season but coming off the bye, that unit will be looking prove themselves this week on the road. The matchup between Marcus Peters and Amari Cooper should be an interesting one. It seems like the Raiders are a different team at home compared to on the road so, I expect them to take a step back this week. I think Kansas City will prove this week that they are still a contender in this division. Prediction: Chiefs 24 – Raiders 21

Dallas @ Green Bay – In this old school NFC matchup, we will see strength vs. strength. The Packers have the top ranked run defense in the league. The Cowboys have the league’s best rushing attack. The team that controls the line of scrimmage will win this game. Green Bay defensive line is good but I don’t think they have faced an offensive line as good as the one in Dallas or a running back running as well as rookie Ezekiel Elliott. But on the other hand, Dallas hasn’t played against a run strong run defense this season unless you count how the Giants played in Week 1. Green Bay’s defense is impressive with the way they can stop the run and pressure the QB but they are beatable in the passing game. Rookie Dak Prescott has gotten better week after week at going down the field and I think he will get his chances this week. QB Aaron Rodgers is playing at a high level again and that is probably bad news for the Cowboys defense. That Cowboys defense is coming off two very strong performances though. CB Morris Claiborne is playing like a legit shutdown corner and the defensive line received a huge boost last week with the return of DE DeMarcus Lawrence. I think the Packers will have opportunities to soften up the Dallas defense with Eddie Lacy and the run game. With that, Rodgers will have his opportunities down the field as well. But Green Bay’s offensive line is a weakness in pass projection and I think the Cowboys pass rush will have a presence in this game. Dallas is the hot team right now and I’ve picked against them for 4 weeks now. I think the rookies will keep this thing rolling into the bye week. Prediction: Cowboys 28 – Packers 24

Atlanta @ Seattle – It’s starting to look like the Falcons will be the front-runners in the NFC South this season. Usually, it would be too soon for me to make such a statement but the rest of the division looks like such a mess. The Falcons looked mighty impressive last week on the road at Denver. This week, they’ll be looking for another big road victory in Seattle. The Seahawks are a tough team at home and they are coming off the bye week. Russell Wilson was dealing with some injuries but you couldn’t tell with the way he was playing before the bye week. Now that he is rested up, I expect him to be as effective as usual on Sunday. I’m not sure how improved the Falcons defense is yet but Wilson and the Seahawks offense will test them often through the air and on the ground. Seattle has the top ranked defense in football and their secondary will be taking on the top ranked passing attack in football. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones have been on a roll recently but Sunday will be their biggest task of the season. In terms of these “top offense vs. top defense” matchups, it is usually wise to go with the defense. Especially in this case with Seattle being so good at home. An Atlanta win here would be most impressive but I’m sticking with my guns here and going with the home Seahawks. Prediction: Seahawks 31 – Falcons 23

The Rest of Week 6

Chargers over Broncos – Here’s a Thursday night upset. San Diego’s pass rush looked like a monster last week with the addition of rookie Joey Bosa. They will get after Trevor Siemian tonight and San Diego will score the upset at home.

Bills over 49ers – The talk before the game will be about the return of Colin Kaepernick. The talk after the game will be about how Buffalo hasn’t lost since firing their offensive coordinator.

Jaguars over Bears – Jacksonville is coming off the bye. Chicago isn’t that good. C’mon Jaguars. Do something for once.

Lions over Rams – This is a toss up.

Titans over Browns – Tennessee needs to start stacking up wins if they want to contend for the AFC South title.

Steelers over Dolphins – Trap game for Pittsburgh. Miami stinks and Ryan Tannehill is starting to run out of chances at being the guy in South Florida.

Saints over Panthers – Here’s another small upset. Carolina’s downward spiral continues. What’s wrong with their defense?

Eagles over Washington – Without Jordan Reed, Washington’s offense will not be able to go toe to toe against Philadelphia’s offense. Carson Wentz will bounce back this week.

Colts over Texans – Houston has some serious offensive issues. Indy will play them tough on the road.

Cardinals over Jets – Both pass defenses will keep this interesting. I trust Arizona’s offense a lot more than New York’s right now.

Week 6 Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Carson Palmer (Cardinals) – The Jets have serious issues in the secondary. Palmer will have his pick of receivers on Monday night.

RB: LeSean McCoy (Bills) – Shady has been tearing it up recently. San Fran run defense hasn’t been the same since the NaVarro Bowman injury.

WR: DeAndre Hopkins (Texans) – Houston will need some one on offense to step up on Sunday night. Hopkins will have to be that guy against a weak Colts secondary.

TE: Rob Gronkowski (Patriots) – Marty B has taken up some attention in New England. Gronk is starting to look like his old self though and he’ll probably break out any game now. Why not this week against a struggling Bengals defense?

DEF: Buffalo – The Bills defense is slowly starting to improve. If Kaepernick tries to hard to show that he is back to his old self, this Bills defense will take advantage.

NFL 2016: Week 4 Predictions!

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Will the return of Le’Veon Bell lift the Steelers offense on Sunday night?

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 9-7

Season: 29-19

Big Five Games of the Week

Buffalo @ New England – The Bills looked really bad in Week 2. So last week against a much better Arizona team, they were able to pull out all the stops and score a big home victory. Buffalo will look to ride that momentum into New England on Sunday as they take on the Patriots. New England can do no wrong currently. Despite all of the personnel losses on both sides of the ball, they are 3-0. You have to be impressed to see their defense playing at the level that it is right now. But that defense really hasn’t been pressed by a good offense this season. Buffalo may not be a complete offense right now but they can do one thing very well: run the football. I think Buffalo will be successful in the run game on Sunday rather if it’s LeSean McCoy doing the damage or QB Tyrod Taylor. The starting QB for New England this week remains a mystery. Buffalo has plenty of defensive woes right now but no coach knows Bill Belichick’s offense better than Rex Ryan. I think the Ryan brothers are going to have a good game plan this week against a Patriots offense that can really only run the ball successfully. New England will be looking forward to the return of Tom Brady next week. This week, they will be shocked and upset at home to the underdog Bills. Prediction: Bills 32 – Patriots 21

Seattle @ New York Jets – Russell Wilson suffered a knee injury last week but he is planning to play through it. I think this will prove to be a bad decision going up against the Jets on the road this week. Wilson already is dealing with shaky offensive line play and his week, that line will face a powerful, disruptive Jets front four on defense. The Jets took their lumps last week on the road but this week they will be the ones handing out the lumps. Everyone was no hard on Ryan Fitzpatrick last week. And maybe for good reason. It’s never good to throw SIX interceptions in one game. But on the other hand, Kansas City’s defense is really good. Fitzpatrick will face another good defense this week in the Seahawks. I think Fitz will be helped out this week by his defense. The Jets will play ball control football with the defense getting stops and the offense taking advantage of the extra opportunities to score. New York will be without Eric Decker and that might hurt them in the passing game. But Seattle has a rep of being a weaker team on the road. I’m taking the Jets in an upset. Prediction: Jets 21 – Seahawks 20

Oakland @ Baltimore – The Ravens are the 3-0 team that no one is talking about. Probably because they haven’t beaten anyone of significance. But beating teams that you are suppose to beat will go a long ways in terms to getting into the post season. Baltimore just has to keep on trucking along until they face a great challenge. And then, we will see how good they really are. I also haven’t seen them play a lot this season so far. I know that it helps that Joe Flacco is back. Their running game is a mystery to me. Baltimore is getting decent play out of their receivers. And their defense is currently ranked 2nd in the league. The Raiders gutted out a tough victory last week on the road but they’ll have a harder time this week in Baltimore. Derek Carr and the Raiders offense will be a great test for Baltimore’s defense. Oakland’s defense played its best game last week but that unit has mostly been a disappointment in this season. There is a great chance that Flacco will have his best performance of the season this Sunday if he is able to stay away from the Raiders pass rush. Prediction: Ravens 26 – Raiders 17

Kansas City @ Pittsburgh – What happened to Pittsburgh last week, no one saw coming. Giving up 34 points to a rookie QB? Sure, I could see that. But only putting up 3 points on offense? I didn’t know that the Eagles defense was that good. Maybe they are not. Maybe the Steelers just had an off day offensively. But if Philadelphia’s defense was able to play that well, what will happen this Sunday night in Pittsburgh when the Chiefs come to town? As we saw last week, Kansas City’s defense is really good and they will force turnovers. They are tough to run on and they have a good secondary. Ben Roethlisberger is coming off of two straight weeks of lackluster performances. I know he will bounce back as he always does but it will be hard for him this week against the Chiefs defense. I think the return of Le’Veon Bell for the Steelers will greatly affect Pittsburgh’s chances on Sunday. Kansas City has a tough defensive line but Bell can be used it so many different ways on offense. It will be hard for the Chiefs to key on Bell and DeAngelo Williams. Pittsburgh’s defense takes a lot of heat but this week, I believe that match up well against Kansas City’s offense. Jamaal Charles might be making his season debut on Sunday night but Pittsburgh still has a highly ranked run defense. QB Alex Smith will be asked to do more that usual in this matchup but that may not be a bad thing for the Chiefs. I’ve said before that Smith is underrated and he’ll have a chance to look much better than what he really is against the Steelers secondary. Pittsburgh will be looking for the chance to rebound after a bad performance last week and they will really want this one at home. It will be close but I’m taking the home team. Le’Veon Bell will make the big play late in this game to clinch a victory for the home team. Prediction: Steelers 25 – Chiefs 23

New York Giants @ Minnesota – I love what Minnesota is doing right now. They lose their starting QB, RB and left tackle but they are still winning ball games. How? Look at their defense. Sacking the QB, creating pressure, causing turnovers. And they are doing it with talent that they drafted. Other teams in the league need to look at Minnesota as an example. Having a decent defense can overcome shortcomings on offense. Plus, you have to bring in high priced free agents to improve defensively. Minnesota drafted top talent on defense and it is starting to pay off. The Giants have been disappointing so far this season. Their defense is improved but the offense is struggling to put up the numbers that everyone thought they would. I think that offense will continue its struggles on the road in Minnesota this Monday night. The way Eli Manning threw that game away late last week was kind of embarrassing. Manning is going to have another tough go at it this week against the Vikings defense. I think the Giants defense will be able to keep New York in the game but they wont win it for them. It will be up to Eli Manning to solve the Vikings defense late in the game in front of a raucous Minnesota crowd. I like the home team. Prediction: Vikings 29 – Giants 24

The Rest of Week 4

Bengals over Dolphins – Miami tried their best to lose to Cleveland at home last week. They are having a tough go at it. Cincinnati better take care of business in this one.

Colts over Jaguars – I feel sorry for anyone who is planning to get up early to watch this one being played in London. Jacksonville was supposed to be everyone’s sleeper team. What happened?

Panthers over Falcons – Good news for Cam Newton: he won’t be facing the Minnesota defense this week. This will be a good game but Carolina’s defense will be the difference.

Lions over Bears – Chicago is sad. But at least their fans can troll Detroit fans about the MLB Playoffs?

Washington over Browns – Terrelle Pryor will have another strong performance but Cleveland will still lose. Expect that to be the theme in Cleveland for the rest of the season. If I were a Browns fan, I would be watching Louisville/Clemson very closely on Saturday night.

Texans over Titans – J.J. Watt is out for the season but Houston will rally and beat a tough Tennessee team at home.

Broncos over Buccaneers – Trevor Siemien is playing better each week. So much for a Super Bowl hangover. Denver is looking really good right now.

Cardinals over Rams – Arizona will be ready to rebound from a disastrous trip to Buffalo. If the Rams keep winning, we can make fun of their move to LA anymore. That’s no fun. C’mon Arizona!

Chargers over Saints – Drew Brees said that he was looking forward to playing his old team. Phillip Rivers will be looking forward to playing against the Saints defense.

49ers over Cowboys – Here’s an upset. San Francisco will give Dallas the tough game that Chicago didn’t give them last week. San Fran isn’t really good but the Cowboys defense will make Blaine Gabbert look much better than he really is.

Week 4 Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Joe Flacco (Ravens) – The Raiders give up the most yards in the air on defense. Flacco will air it out at home this week.

RB: Todd Gurley (Rams) – Arizona couldn’t stop the run last week. LA will use Gurley to their advantage this week.

WR: Marvin Jones (Lions) – Jones is turning into the breaking out player in the Lions offense so far this season.

TE: Dennis Pitta (Ravens) – Pitta is catching a lot of passes so far this season but he has yet to score a TD. Expect that to change this week.

DEF: New York Jets – I like the Jets defense this week against a banged up Russell Wilson.

 

NFL 2016: Week 3 Predictions!

 

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Josh Norman may be looking forward to another shot at Odell Beckham Jr but his Washington team is still looking forward to their first victory in 2016.

 

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 11-5

Season: 20-12

Big Five Games of the Week

Houston @ New England – The Texans are 2-0 but in those two victories, they really haven’t been overly impressive. New England is dealing with some serious issues at the QB position going into tonight’s game. But New England has been missing some important pieces of that offense all season and it hasn’t stopped them from winning games. I don’t know how well Jacoby Brissett will perform tonight but I think we can count on this veteran Patriots team rallying behind him and doing what is necessary in order to be successful. Brissett will have a good running game to lean on tonight as LeGarrette Blount is running as well as anyone right now. Houston has a good defense and they’ll provide quite a test for the rookie QB taking his first professional snaps tonight. On paper, New England doesn’t have a strong defense but so far this season, they haven’t been exposed. That defensive unit will continue to do just enough to not lose games for the offense. I don’t see Brock Osweiler being the QB to really stretch out the New England secondary. The Patriots will have their hands full with DeAndre Hopkins though. Houston will need a strong game tonight from their defensive line. J.J. Watt is starting to get healthier and he needs to start producing at the high level that he is used to. I think Houston’s defense will be the tone setter tonight and they will give Osweiler the chance to win this game on the road. But it just seems that Bill Belichick can do no wrong this season no matter who is available to play. TE Rob Gronkowski might miss his third straight game this season but Martellus Bennett is coming off his most productive outing this season. I think the “no excuses” approach from the Patriots will continue to breed success tonight in front of a raucous home crowd. Prediction: Patriots 21 – Texans 20

Denver @ Cincinnati – The Bengals were underwhelming again against Pittsburgh last week and I think they’ll have a tougher time this week at home against the reigning Super Bowl Champion Broncos. Denver has been apart of a couple of interesting games to start the season. Each time, the offense has done enough to keep the team’s chances at victory afloat. And each time again, the defense has come up huge in the 4th quarter. Trevor Siemian isn’t lighting up the scoreboard but he is doing the little things right and he isn’t making big enough mistakes that could turn the game the other way. Siemian has a great support system around him with the skill players at RB and WR. That veteran presence is going along way in developing Siemian into a success in his young NFL career. But for Denver, it is more about the defense. Von Miller is playing out of his mind right now. DeMarcus Ware will miss about a month due to injury but this is why the Broncos took Shane Ray in the first round last season. Denver’s defense will continue its dominance on Sunday against the Bengals. Andy Dalton will find it hard to get into a rhythm against the Broncos defense. A.J. Green wasn’t targeted enough last week in Pittsburgh and he might find it tough again this week against the Denver secondary. Cincinnati’s defense is underrated in my mind but I don’t see them making enough big plays like they did in the past when they had Reggie Nelson. I’m taking the road team. Prediction: Broncos 23 – Bengals 17

Washington @ New York Giants – Washington was able to win the NFC East last year. Now, they are currently 0-2 and facing an improved, undefeated New York Giants team on the road this Sunday. The Giants are playing well to start the season and Washington will be desperately looking for their first victory of the season. But the real hype behind this game is the matchup between Odell Beckham Jr and Josh Norman. OBJ and Norman got into it multiple times when they faced each other last season. The officials will have a better look at that this time around so the fireworks will probably be at the minimal. Even without the extra stuff (fighting, punching, wrestling, etc.), the matchup between OBJ and Norman is exciting because we are seeing to players opposite each other playing at the top of their games. Norman may not shadow “Number one” receivers often but we saw last week against Dallas how he can affect games in multiple ways. Norman is a physical defender who doesn’t back down and he will be hard for any Giants receiver to deal with on Sunday. This is important because Washington will have to worry about multiple receivers on Sunday. Victor Cruz is healthy and looking like his old self. Rookie Sterling Shepard is coming off his best day as a pro. Eli Manning is playing with his deepest WR core in a while. Washington’s defense will have a long day if they cant rattle Manning. QB Kirk Cousins has been struggling this season so far and he’ll be facing a much-improved Giants defense. I don’t like Washington’s chances at all in this game. They will go to 0-3. Prediction: Giants 34 – Washington 21

New York Jets @ Kansas City – The Chiefs took their lumps on the road in Houston last week. I think they will be ready to get back on track this week at home against the Jets. New York is coming off a Thursday night victory so they will be rested. But despite that, they are pretty banged up at key positions. WR Brandon Marshall may not play. Last week, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick had a field day throwing the ball against the Bills secondary. Fitzpatrick will not have it so easy this week as Kansas City’s defense will be much harder to throw on. The Chiefs defense usually plays at a high level at home and they will limit New York’s chances at creating big plays. The Jets defense will create a tough challenge for Andy Reid’s offense as well. New York’s front seven is physical up front, they get after the QB, and they are tough to run against. RB Jamaal Charles might make his return this week but the Chiefs are going to have to find creative ways to get him involved. If they plan to run Charles right into the teeth of the Jets defensive line, he is going to have a long day. Last week, everyone was talking about how bad the Bills secondary was. But in that same game, the Jets secondary also looked mighty suspect. Many may sleep on QB Alex Smith, but I think he will be able to do things with his arm and legs this Sunday. This could be a close one and because of that, I’ll give the advantage to the home team. Arrowhead Stadium is just one of those unique home field advantages in this league. Prediction: Chiefs 25 – Jets 20

Pittsburgh @ Philadelphia – All aboard the Carson Wentz hype train! But seriously, everyone needs to calm down. Wentz has been apart of 2 victories so far in his NFL career but he plays in Philadelphia and he played last week in primetime. So, that explains most of the hype. I’ve watched highlights of Wentz and he isn’t exactly lighting up the league. Wentz has done the little things. He is making the right throws and the right decisions. He still has a ways to go. But Philadelphia is so thirsty for some football success that the fans are ready to crown him right now. Wentz and the Eagles need slapped back down to earth. Enter the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh doesn’t have the dominant defense like they’ve had in the past but they will create a better challenge for Wentz than Cleveland and Chicago. That’s for sure. One thing that has been an advantage for Wentz and the Eagles offense is that they haven’t been in a situation where they had to score a lot in order to win. Cleveland and Chicago definitely weren’t putting the pressure of Philly’s offense to produce big time numbers. The Steelers offense will do just that. Pittsburgh is able to control the game on offense with their passing game and running game. The Steelers are pretty good upfront and they’ll create a good challenge for Fletcher Cox and the Eagles defensive line. RB DeAngelo Williams is playing extremely well right now and the Eagles will have to key on what Pittsburgh can do as a running football team at the same time being aware of what they can do in the air. The Eagles secondary is still a weak spot on their defense and Ben Roethlisberger should be able to take advantage. If the Eagles cant get to Roethlisberger, there will be nothing stopping Antonio Brown from making the big, game defining plays. Wentz mania may be running wild in Philly right now but I expect the Steelers to put a stop to all of that at least for one week. Prediction: Steelers 29 – Eagles 17

The Rest of Week 3

Cardinals over Bills – Buffalo’s defense is shorthanded and they can’t stop anyone. I don’t see how Rex and his idiot brother will survive this season. It’s a shame because I really like Rex as a head coach. That defense needs to get better but it wont anytime soon.

Packers over Lions – Detroit fell apart late last week. They are banged up and they will be facing a Packers team at home looking to put their fans doubts to rest.

Titans over Raiders – I thought Oakland would have a strong defense this season. They are currently ranked dead last in the league in that department. I like the way Tennessee fought their way back into last week’s game.

Dolphins over Browns – We are still in September and Cleveland is already a dumpster fire. Miami has fought hard in their two losses to start the season. They’ll roll big time at home.

Panthers over Vikings – Minnesota is dealing with a lot of injuries but so is Carolina. Cam Newton will probably be the best running threat on the field on Sunday.

Ravens over Jaguars – What happened to Jacksonville being the sleeper team this season? Baltimore hasn’t been so impressive for a team that hasn’t lost yet. But the Jags have been so underwhelming so far this season. This one is a toss up.

Seahawks over 49ers – Losing to the Rams should be inexcusable for this Seattle team. If they lose this one at home to San Fran, it may be time for everyone to chill on the Russell Wilson bandwagon.

Buccaneers over Rams – The Rams play Seattle hard. I get it. This week, they’ll return to their regularly scheduled programming.

Chargers over Colts – San Diego can run the ball now. Indy is starting the drop like flies already. I’m taking the Bolts on the road for the small upset.

Cowboys over Bears – It’s been awhile since Dallas has won at home but against this wounded Chicago team, they should have no excuses.

Falcons over Saints – New Orleans usually shows up big in these prime time matchups but I’m taking Atlanta because their defense isn’t as bad as their opponent’s. RIP Shawty Lo.

Week 3 Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Marcus Mariota (Titans) – Oakland gives up the most in the air defensively so far this season. I think Mariota could have himself a big game.

RB: C.J. Anderson (Broncos) – Cincinnati has given up the most yards in the run game so far this season. Anderson has been an important piece for the Broncos offense.

WR: Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals) – Buffalo’s secondary has been so bad this season. Fitzgerald is making a big play for this Arizona offense each week so far. That will continue on the road this week.

TE: Jacob Tamme (Falcons) – Tamme has been consistent for the first two games of this season. Against the Saints secondary, Matt Ryan should be able to find him down the field for some huge gains.

DEF: Carolina – Minnesota might become one dimensional without Adrian Peterson. Even if they had Peterson, Carolina is tough against the run. If Bradford is forced to sling it while playing catch up, Carolina will rack up multiple turnovers.

NFL 2016: Week 2 Predictions!

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After a successful visit in New York, A.J. Green will take his show to Pittsburgh this Sunday.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 9-7

Season: 9-7

Big Five Games of the Week

New Orleans @ New York Giants – This match up will feature two big time, scoring offenses and very little defense. The Giants offense did enough to win last week but they sort of underperformed and they know that they could have done better. I think the Giants offense will have more opportunities to produce big plays against a struggling Saints defense at home. The Saints lost a close one at home last week but their offense performed well. The Giants defense did a great job bottling up the Cowboys running game and keeping them out of the end zone on long drives. I think the Giants benefited from facing a rookie QB in his first professional start. Drew Brees will present a much greater challenge for them this Sunday. I think both passing games will light up the stat sheet but I am much more encouraged by New York’s defense than New Orleans’ right now. I’m taking the home team. Prediction: Giants 37 – Saints 28

Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh – The Bengals really impressed me how they gutted out a road victory to start to the season. Now, they will face rival Pittsburgh in their home opener in a much anticipated game. This matchup will lose some of its steam without Vontaze Burfict and Le’Veon Bell but there will still be enough hatred to go around between these two rivals. Pittsburgh did pretty much what I expected them to do last week on Monday night. The Steelers look really good and they are one of the favorites in their conference. The offense is performing at a high level and the defense is over achieving. Pretty much the same story from a season ago though we have only played one game this season. I think Andy Dalton will fare better than Kirk Cousins did last week against the Steelers defense. WR A.J. Green had a monster game to start the season last week and he usually does a great job terrorizing the Pittsburgh secondary. The Bengals will do their best at controlling the clock in this game in order to limit Pittsburgh’s chances on offense. The Bengals may have a slightly above average defense but I don’t see them completely slowing down Pittsburgh offensively. Ben Roethlisberger will find Antonio Brown for some of the game’s biggest plays and DeAngelo Williams will continue his career renaissance. I think Cincy will be able to keep it close but I don’t see the Bengals offense out producing Pittsburgh’s on the road. Prediction: Steelers 29 – Bengals 23

Kansas City @ Houston – The Chiefs completed a crazy comeback last week at home. This week, they’ll go to Houston to take on the team that they easily beat in the playoffs a season ago. The Texans are retooled from a season ago and they’ll be looking to prove something at home this week. QB Brock Osweiler had a shaky start last week but he eventually got it together. I’m looking forward to the matchup between WR DeAndre Hopkins and Chiefs corner Marcus Peters. RB Lamar Miller had a successful debut for Houston last week and he’ll be facing a Chiefs run defense that was leaky at times in Week 1. Kansas City’s offense got it going just in time to force overtime and get the win last week. RB Jamaal Charles might have to miss another week due to injury but the Chiefs feel pretty confident about running the ball with their backups. Houston’s defense did a great job in the second half last week against Chicago and they could be able to carry that over in this matchup against Alex Smith. Houston will feel great about their offseason acquisitions after wrapping this one up at home. Prediction: Texans 26 – Chiefs 20

Atlanta @ Oakland – The Falcons looked like they would be able to go blow for blow against Tampa Bay at home in Week 1 but then, their defense completely fell apart. Atlanta’s defense continues to be an issue going into Week 2. Oakland is coming off a great emotional high last week after beating the Saints on a gusty, late 4th quarter call. The Raiders still have to figure out some things in the defensive secondary but their offense looked pretty good. QB David Carr played great down the stretch and he received great support from the running game. I think the Raiders will have their hands full in this matchup on defense. They will struggle to slow down WR Julio Jones and the other Falcons receivers. Atlanta will also try to get RB’s Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman to continue the success they had in Week 1. Oakland’s front seven looked very active last week and they will get after Matt Ryan in this game. Atlanta will have to use the running game to try to limit the pass rush’s affect on Ryan. But I don’t see Atlanta’s defense improving from a week ago. They need to find some consistency at pressuring the QB and making open field tackles. I think the Raiders will take advantage, the offense will make plays, and they’ll win in their home opener. Prediction: Raiders 24 – Falcons 21

Green Bay @ Minnesota – The Packers offense looked like its old self last week in Jacksonville. Aaron Rodgers played great and his receivers also brought their “A” game. Green Bay’s defense made the stop at the end of the game when it mattered but they were probably bailed out by some questionable play calling by the other team. The Packers will face a better opponent this week, as the Vikings will be making their debut in a brand new home stadium in primetime. US Bank Stadium will be loud and this Vikings team will be juiced up for this one. Minnesota was lucky to survive last week at Tennessee. The offense really struggled but their defense did a tremendous job bailing them out in the second half. Green Bay will have to know going into this one that they will be facing a much tougher defense this week. It’s going to be interesting to see if Aaron Rodgers will be able to look as spectacular as he did last week in Jacksonville. I think the Minnesota offense will fare better this week against Green Bay’s defense. Adrian Peterson had a tough day the office in Week 1 and he’ll be looking rebound in front a great crowd in the home opener. I’m getting the feeling that Sam Bradford will make his Vikings debut this week as well. That doesn’t sound very exciting but Bradford should be able to succeed in ways that Shaun Hill cannot. If Bradford can get the air attack going, that is going to open the door for more success in the running game. Green Bay will pack the box to prepare for Peterson so, I think Bradford will have the chances to find the passing windows. I think Green Bay will take a step back in this game, as Minnesota will be able to do enough offensively to win a close contest. Prediction: Vikings 30 – Packers 24

The Rest of Week 2

Jets over Bills – Buffalo beat New York twice last season so, the Jets will be out for revenge tonight. The Bills will be shorthanded offensively without Sammy Watkins. The Jets defensive line will fest tonight as Tyrod Taylor will struggle to get things going.

Ravens over Browns – Baltimore was so unbelievably under whelming last week in their victory. Cleveland really disappointed me as well in their loss. I don’t know. Both of these teams stink right now. Baltimore should be ashamed if they manage to lose this one.

Lions over Titans – I like Detroit’s defense to slow down Tennessee’s running attack. The Titans secondary will not have an answer for Matt Stafford.

Patriots over Dolphins – No Brady. No Gronk. No Problem. On the road against my Super Bowl favorite as well! Is Bill Belichick the greatest? Probably.

Washington over Cowboys – Washington looked really bad last week. Maybe Dallas has a better chance in this one than I think. I need to see it before I believe it. Kirk Cousins needs to rebound after his performance last week in primetime.

Panthers over 49ers – Cam Newton said this week that he doesn’t care about his health but only about winning. That’s kinda scary. Carolina should be able to handle San Fran at home either way.

Seahawks over Rams – The Rams have played Seattle tough in recent years but their morale has to be so low right now. Seattle should be able to roll in this one easily.

Cardinals over Buccaneers – This one should be close. Arizona’s secondary needs to improve in a hurry because Jameis Winston will air it out often as we saw last week. Expect plenty of scoring in this one.

Broncos over Colts – The Trevor Siemian hype is not real. However, Denver’s defense is very real. Andrew Luck will struggle to score late in this game and that will give Denver the home victory.

Jaguars over Chargers – Here’s an upset. After losing a heartbreaking one last week, San Diego will repeat that feat at home against a hungry Jacksonville team.

Eagles over Bears – Carson Wentz played much better than I expected last week even though it was just Cleveland. Chicago’s offense should be able to make this one interesting though.

Week 2 Fantasy Football Picks

QB: Drew Brees (Saints) – Brees will be able to test the Giants secondary in ways that Dak Prescott couldn’t in Week 1.

RB: Ezekiel Elliott (Cowboys) – The rookie had a tough go of it last week. He could be able to rebound against Washington’s defense.

WR: A.J. Green (Bengals) – Green has a knack for getting the best out of Pittsburgh. After his Week 1 performance, he’ll look to keep his success going on the road.

TE: Julius Thomas (Jaguars) – Thomas played well last week and San Diego has a weak secondary. Blake Bortles should be able to find him in the end zone again this week.

DEF: New York Jets – The Jets racked up a bunch of sacks last week and they’ll be facing a wounded Buffalo offense tonight. They’ll get after Tyrod Taylor and bottle up the Bills rushing attack.

NFL 2016: NFC East Preview

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It’s now or never for Tony Romo and the Cowboys. And its looking more and more like “never”.

By: Elias McMillan

 

NFC East

New York Giants – The Giants has such a disappointing 2015. In the offseason, they only had one main goal: improve the defense. With the free agents and draft picks brought in, I think the Giants will be improved on that side of the ball. I think those improvements will go a long way on taking pressure off the offense. The Giants offense will be pretty much the same in 2016. They will be powered by Eli Manning and the passing game. One difference on offense this year is that the depth at receiver got better. Odell Beckham Jr is one of the best receivers in football right now but last season, the Giants struggled at finding someone who can make an impact opposite of him. WR Victor Cruz hopes to stay healthy in 2016 but he may never return to the Victor Cruz of old. However, I’m a big fan of rookie receiver Sterling Shepard out of Oklahoma. Shepard has the skill set as a rookie to eventually take over the number 2 receiver role from Cruz. The Giants have a decent offensive line but they have been inconsistent at times when it comes to pass protection and run blocking. The Giants are deep at the RB position but they are not a strong running team. Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen are serviceable veterans but I actually think that the younger guy, Andre Williams, deserves more opportunities in this offense. Like I said earlier, the Giants made it a point to improve that struggling defense in the offseason. On the defensive line, I think Jason Pierre-Paul will be focused after a seemingly quiet offseason. Pierre-Paul will receive a boost this year with free agent acquisition, DE Oliver Vernon. Vernon received a big pay from the Giants after some successful seasons in Miami and he’ll help provide a good 1-2 punch for the Giants pass rush. The Giants have struggled at stopping the run for years now and I think that might continue to be a problem in 2016. DT Jonathan Hankins is a good run stuffer but that defensive line receives zero help from a lackluster LB group. I think LB Devon Kennard might develop into something one day but that unit just doesn’t have enough talent. LB Jasper Brinkley is a career journeyman and he might be expected to start at middle linebacker. The Giants also had one of the worst pass defenses in the league last year. I think their secondary will improve in 2016 because the pass rush will be better but also they will have better talent out there. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a talented player but he gambles a lot and gets beat. You could say the exact same thing about free agent acquisition, CB Janoris Jenkins. They did draft CB Eli Apple in the first round and he might rise quickly as one of the better young corners in this league. At safety, Landon Collins is the hard hitter in run support and rookie Darian Thompson will get the opportunity early in his career to prove himself as a pass defender. I don’t think that this Giants team will be that much different from the team that went 6-10 last year. But I feel that if they improved the defense, even a little bit, that would help win some games that they would have lost a season ago. I like that the front office had a plan and they executed it through free agency and the draft. I believe that the Giants improved more than the other teams in this division. Prediction: 9-7 (NFC East Champs)

Dallas Cowboys – Even though the Cowboys went 4-12 last season, they were playing with house money going in the offseason. They had a season where just about everything when wrong but there was a silver lining. They were going to have high draft picks. They were going to have key veterans returning from season long injuries. They didn’t have a lot of cap space but there was a possibly where they could have been players in free agency. And more importantly, they were going to return with the best offensive line in football. Despite all of that, the Cowboys amazingly had an underwhelming offseason where they didn’t really improve at all. Despite that, it was always my belief that the Cowboys would win this division in 2016 as long as Tony Romo played in at least 12 or more of the regular season games. Romo is the most important player in the division and the proof pretty much speaks for itself. Before last week, I had the Cowboys winning this division because Romo was set the return and was “healthy”. As it turns out, he broke another bone in his back and he might miss 4 to 6 games to start the season. This may not mean doom for the Cowboys in 2016 but history says that it indeed does. Now, the backup QB situation in Dallas was a mess last season as Romo struggled to return from injury. Despite that, the front office didn’t really bother to bring in a new veteran at the position. Instead, they were going to see what they had in Kellen Moore and rookie 4th rounder Dak Prescott. Now, I didn’t like what I saw in Prescott coming out of Mississippi State but so far in the preseason, he looks like he might be the young arm that this team has been looking to develop for years now. But we have to realize that preseason success really means nothing and we don’t really know how good Prescott will be until Romo returns. Two things are going to help Prescott, 1) he is confident after a pretty solid preseason and 2) this offense is set and ready to go. I already mentioned the offensive line but along with that unit, the Cowboys are deep at the RB position. Did they need to take a RB with the 4th overall pick in this past draft? Probably not. But RB Ezekiel Elliott looks the part of a future franchise back in this league. Elliott will get every opportunity in the offense despite the wealth of talent at the position. Darren McFadden was the 4th leading rusher in the league last season. Alfred Morris is a veteran who can get the tough yards. And Lance Dunbar will be a valuable piece as a receiver coming out from the backfield. That’s a lot of talent at one position. In the preseason, Prescott has already developed a good relationship with star receiver and team leader Dez Bryant. Bryant also missed most of 2015 with an injury but he is back and is already looking like his normal self. The Cowboys will return a decent group at the pass catching position led by Jason Witten, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, and kickoff specialist Lucky Whitehead. Even if Romo wasn’t injured currently, I always believed that this team would only go as far as the defense will take them. Tony Romo would be Tony Romo but the defense needs to figure out a way to get stops in order to win the playoffs. This defense is basically unchanged from a season ago and I see no reason why they’ll improve in 2016. The Cowboys struggle mightily at pressuring the QB and that will continue this season. DE DeMarcus Lawrence is the best pass rusher but he was suspended for the first 4 games of the season. Starting opposite of him will be a collection of guys that you never heard of. The plan was to maybe start last year’s second round pick, Randy Gregory but he is facing a major suspension while he is currently in rehab. Inside on the defensive line, DT Tyrone Crawford is decent player and they brought in Cedric Thornton to be an upgrade from last years starter. Crawford and Thornton will excel at getting up field and creating pressure but they are not the run stuffers that this defense needs at defensive line. At linebacker, Sean Lee is coming off his first Pro Bowl season but he is the lone standout at this position. Jerry Jones decided to bring back an unreliable player in Rolando McClain who is currently suspended. Jerry could have let him walk but he didn’t and now the LB depth is in a rough spot. Even worst, the Cowboys decided to spend this year’s second round pick on one of the best LB prospects in the draft but the player they took is coming off a major knee injury and will certainly miss the entire 2016 season. And they knew this as a possibility going into the draft. And they still took him. I don’t understand the decisions made by this front office in this past offseason. The Cowboys will return the entire group from a secondary that was surprisingly in the top 5 in the league in pass defense. The issue is that the unit doesn’t create many turnovers. Last year’s first round pick, Byron Jones, is making the move to safety and his skill set will serve him well at that position. Jones is an athletic freak who can fly to the football and they are hoping that he will be the change that will help this secondary collect more turnovers. The group of corners on this team is very average but I really don’t want to rip on them because they would be so much better if they played in front of a defensive line that could consistently create pressure. Like I said earlier, Romo injury or not, this team didn’t improve in the offseason and the ceiling was always going to be a divisional winner that wasn’t going to go far in the playoffs anyhow. I don’t know how many games Tony Romo is going to miss. I do know that it is very sad and depressing that the Romo era could possibly end this season without him and Jason Witten getting even a sniff at a championship. That, in my book, is Jerry Jones’ legacy. Prediction: 8-8

Washington – Was last year’s run to the division title a fluke for Washington? I don’t know. Maybe. But despite of the problems of the other teams in the division, you have to give Washington credit for taking advantage of the opportunity. Repeating in this division is always a tall task but I think Washington has a better chance than what people believe. QB Kirk Cousins returns after his best season as a pro. He is basically playing for a more secure future as he signed that one-year franchise tender. Cousins looked great at times last season but there was other times when you saw why this franchise didn’t want to commit to a long-term deal with this guy. Having a repeat of success in 2016 will be a tall task for Cousins, I think. The whole situation was screams what Philadelphia went through a few years ago with Nick Foles. One thing that won’t help Cousins in 2016 is that his offensive line has been so inconsistent. They don’t really have a solid situation at RB right now. RB Matt Jones is a speedster but there isn’t much depth behind him at the position. Plus, that offensive line really struggled at creating lanes for whoever was running the ball a season ago. What will help Cousins in 2016 is that Washington has good talent at the receiver positions. Veterans DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon still have plenty left in the tank and younger guys, Ryan Grant and Jamison Crowder, also have plenty of ability. At the TE position, Washington has one of the best in football with Jordan Reed. On defense, Washington wasn’t good last season at stopping the run and they hope to improve this year. They brought in DT Kendall Reyes from San Diego to join a veteran heavy group at defensive line. I think Washington’s strength on this defense will come from the LB position. They have a decent group on veterans playing at the inside positions. I loved the draft pick of Su’a Cravens who will serve the role as a tweener player on this defense. He’ll be much like Thomas Davis on the Panthers. Cravens could develop into a guy that can cover TE’s but also provide major run support. OLB Ryan Kerrigan is the veteran pass rusher on this team. But also look out for second year guys, Preston Smith and Trent Murphy. Washington has had a bad secondary for years I feel like but that unit will definitely be improved in 2016. CB Josh Norman comes over from Carolina and he currently has the rep as the best corner in football right now. I don’t know if Norman will be as good as he was in Carolina playing in front of that defense but I know he is better than what Washington had a season ago. I expect rookie CB Kendall Fuller to rise fast on the depth chart as well. I’m disappointed that DeAngelo Hall is still on this roster some how. He hasn’t been good for at least 5 years but his speed and athleticism has allowed him to stay in the league. I think Washington may quietly have the best defense in this division. But the lack of a run game and counting of Kirk Cousins will only bring you so far. But even I have to admit that I think Washington shouldn’t be written off this season. Prediction: 8-8

Philadelphia Eagles – The Philadelphia Eagles spent the offseason deleting any traces of the Chip Kelly era off this team. You might want to call it addition by subtraction but I’ll choose to call it what it is: rebuilding. The Eagles are rebuilding under Andy Reid understudy and former Eagles player, Doug Pederson. This seems like a move backwards in order to go forwards because we all say the way they forced Andy out of town. But Reid was very successful in Philly and is currently in Kansas City. Its going to take some time but the Eagles need to give Pederson enough time to build up this roster again. That being said, this current Eagles roster is not ready to compete in 2016. QB Sam Bradford, who was very inconsistent last season, received a contract extension in the offseason. Then, Pederson decided to bring over his top backup from Kansas City, Chase Daniels. After solidifying the QB position, the Eagles still decided that they needed a signal caller for the future so, they traded the farm to move up in this years draft to take QB Carson Wentz from North Dakota State. These are not the moves of a football team that is looking to improve immediately. They have a lot invested in that one position while other areas on that side of the ball could have needed some help. The Eagles are hurting on the offensive line. Starting tackle Lane Johnson is facing a lengthy suspension and the group is coming off a season where they struggled mightily at run blocking. In the matter of two seasons, the Eagles lost two premier running backs in the league. LeSean McCoy was traded away and DeMarco Murray was terribly mismanaged and sent to Tennessee. Now, they are left with an injury prone Ryan Matthews and an aging Darren Sproles. There will be a lot of pressure on the QB position this season for the Eagles as the WR core is extremely average as well. Jordam Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff and Dorial Green-Beckham have ability but neither are clear cut “#1” receivers. The Eagles most consistent receiver this season may be TE Brent Celek. On defense, the Eagles will bring back a pretty active front seven led by DT Fletcher Cox. Cox is clearly the team’s best defender as a run stopper and pass rusher. The Eagles can get pressure on the QB from the outside but they need to get younger at that OLB position. Former First round pick, Marcus Smith, has not worked out so far but Connor Barwin and Mychal Kendricks are solid starters. In the secondary, the Eagles are lacking young talent. Safety Malcolm Jenkins is a good player and a veteran leader but there isn’t much around him. CB Leodis McKelvin was surprisingly let go by Buffalo in the offseason and we’ll see if he has any more left in the tank. And I know its only preseason but CB Nolan Carroll has looked like an impact player already this season. This Eagles team is rebuilding but it will be interesting to see how the QB situation plays out. Prediction: 5-11

NFL 2015: NFC East Preview

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By the end of the 2015 season, Chip Kelly will either be called a genius or labeled as the goat in Philadelphia.

By: Elias McMillan

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys – No one could have predicted the season that the Cowboys had last year. Because of last season’s success, this upcoming season will be the first time since 2008 where Dallas will have realistic title contention expectations entering a season. The NFC East will be tough again but Dallas has enough veteran leadership and young talent to repeat as division champions. Unfortunately, they suffered what could be a huge setback by losing DeMarco Murray in free agency. Murray caught lighting in a bottle last season as he was finally able to stay healthy and was able to lead the league in rushing. I don’t think Dallas has a guy on their roster right now that could come even close to achieving what Murray was able to do a season ago. They brought in vet RB Darren McFadden who could replenish his career after suffering in Oakland for so long. But I think Dallas will end up depending on RB Joseph Randle. Randle made a huge jump last season, as he looked completely lost as a rookie. Randle’s progression last season was so noticeable and he’ll have even more opportunities this year. It will also help the running game and the offense as a whole that Dallas will be returning that great and young offensive line. Tony Romo benefited from the running game last season but he benefited even more from the time given to him by that offensive line. Romo had a great 2014 and now he’s back and a lot healthier than a year ago. Romo is getting up their in age but still has enough left in the tank to continue to power this Cowboys offense. WR Dez Bryant got his big contract in the offseason and he’s looking forward to picking right up from his 16-touchdown performance from a season ago. I like the depth at WR as well as Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley can both show big play ability. And I almost forgot about the ageless wonder TE Jason Witten who is still Romo’s most reliable target in the passing game. The running game will be a huge question mark going into the season. The drop off from not having Murray will be noticeable but I believe that the blocking up front by this offensive line will be good enough where the running game will be serviceable for the offense to operate effectively. The Cowboys defense really stunk last season, especially in the post season. They were an over achieving unit and some how got by. Once again, I think the great running game from last season was a reason for this because the offense was able to go on long drives that kept the defense rested. With the drop off of the running game I think we’ll see this season, the Cowboys defense has to be improved. And I think they will be with the moves they were able to make in free agency and in the draft. First, lets look at that defensive line. The Dallas pass rush has been embarrassingly bad for a while now but I think a change is coming. A lot is going to be expected out of second year DE Demarcus Lawrence who only scratched the surface last year as a rookie. Thinking of rookies, Dallas received a gift in this draft this year when DE Randy Gregory dropped all the way down to the second round of the draft. Gregory was a top-15 draft prospect until questions about his drug use arose. If Gregory can stay on the current path he is in now, he’ll be a true difference maker for this defense as a rookie. Gregory is a bit skinny and he needs to get stronger but his quickest and speed around the edge will be a huge upgrade for this Dallas pass rush. Dallas fans should also be excited for DE Greg Hardy who will miss the first four games due to suspension. If you watched Hardy in Carolina, you would know that he is an absolute pass rushing terror that plays with unrivaled aggression towards the offense. We might not really see it until after a month in the season but this Cowboys pass rush should be vastly improved this season. With the improved pass rush, DT Tyrone Crawford maybe a candidate to be a breakout player on this front four. I think Crawford will be able to make more plays in the backfield this season but I have concerns about his run stuffing ability. Dallas does not have a true run stuffer on that defensive line and it will hurt them again this season I think. At linebacker, Dallas has one player with star potential and its Sean Lee. Sean Lee is basically DeMarco Murray from last season. Like Murray, Lee has shown potential to be a big time player in this league but injuries have continued to bother him. Last season, we saw what Murray was able to do when he was healthy for all 16 games. This season, the Cowboys need Sean Lee to have a “DeMarco Murray” like season on the defensive side of the ball. Also returning at linebacker will be Rolando McClain who will also be suspended for the first four games of the season. Other than Lee and McClain, I don’t like the Cowboys depth at LB. They brought in a couple of vets in free agency but the drop off from Lee and McClain will be noticeable. Younger guys like Anthony Hitchens and rookie Damien Wilson will have to grow up quickly this year, I think. The secondary has been another issue on this defense who awhile now and things could be worse since CB Orlando Scandrick has already been lost for the season due to injury. Scandrick was easily Dallas’ best corner last season so that group will need to step it up. Dallas will need more consistent play from CB Brandon Carr this season and CB Morris Claiborne will be playing for his last chance to rid himself from the “bust” label. Some bright spots might be CB’s Corey White and Tyler Patmon who have looked good in training camp. Also, Dallas drafted CB Byron Jones in the first round this year. Jones is a heck of an athlete but he’ll need to prove that he can translate that into success on the football field. So, the Scandrick injury will hurt but Dallas has decent depth at corner. At safety, Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox will return as starters but they are both average at best. I do believe that with an improved pass rush, the secondary could look better this season. If you would of asked me to make the trade of a drop off from the running attack on offense for an improved pass rush on defense, I would have made that trade. And it appears that is what Dallas did in the offseason. I don’t know if Dallas will look as strong as they did last season but I don’t think anyone in this division has made enough improvements to knock Dallas off from the top spot. Prediction: 11-5 (NFC East Champs)

New York Giants – The Giants had a disappointing 2014 season but if some guys can stay healthy, they could be able to bounce back and challenge Dallas for the division in 2015. In both meetings with Dallas last season, the Giants lost close, competitive games. The Giants have made some changes internally and they could surprise some people this season. Eli Manning returns for another season and he actually had low interception numbers last year. Not only should Manning feel good about that but also his receiving core will be really good this season. The breakout star from last season was WR Odell Beckham Jr. who literally catches anything close to him. Pair with a now healthy Victor Cruz, the Giants will have the top pass catching duo in the division. The Giants will also have great depth at the RB position. Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams are good runners and they signed Shane Vereen who will be valuable as a receiver from the backfield. I think the Giants will be solid offensively and it will help even more that they’ve invested another top draft pick to the offensive line. The defense on this team terribly under performed and that caused some coaching changes to be made. Steve Spagnuolo returns this season as defensive coordinator and he was able to have great success as the coordinator on the Giants’ Super Bowl winning teams. Spagnuolo will find out however that this defense will have a ways to go before performing at that high of a level. He’ll first notice that the defensive line will look really different. There are literally no standouts at defensive end except for DE Jason Pierre-Paul. JPP is a star player for sure but the guy was franchise tagged in the offseason, blew off one of his fingers in the offseason, and has yet to report into training camp. The status of JPP will really affect how good this defense will be. The Giants do have a nice mix of youth and experience at defensive tackle though. Johnathan Hankins and Jay Bromley and nice young pieces to have along with vets like Cullen Jenkins and Kenrick Ellis. At linebacker, the Giants have a couple unproven young guys who will need to make a name for themselves this season. Jon Beason is a proven playmaker in this league but he is coming off a serious injury. The Giants also need improvement in the secondary where CB Prince Amukamara is their lone standout. Rookie London Collins will play right away at safety and should be a great replacement for Stevie Brown. New York will have plenty of question marks defensively but I think the offense will be good enough to carry the team into playoff contention at least. Prediction: 9-7 (Wildcard)

Philadelphia Eagles – The team that made the most headlines in this division during the offseason was the Philadelphia Eagles. And as history has shown that is hardly ever a good thing in this division. The Eagles made a lot of changes and it is unknown if these changes will be beneficiary for the immediate future. And could spell big trouble for Chip Kelly. After all the headlines and all the changes, Philadelphia wants to see results and that may not happen fast enough. In Chip Kelly’s defense, when the Eagles had all that proven talent, they weren’t contending for championships anyway. But Chip Kelly doesn’t see this as a rebuilding project. He believes that the Eagles will be able to compete this year. But I just don’t see how you can dump all that talent in a short amount of time, replace them with rookies, and compete for championships right away. I could be wrong. Kelly could be a visionary. But if he’s wrong, the Eagles and him will be in for a long season. I do think that the Eagles could get better QB play this season. They traded Nick Foles away for Sam Bradford who is the better player. Bradford’s issue is that he can’t stay healthy. Bradford’s health will be a constant news story this season because the Eagles wont want to depend on Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow for that matter if he gets hurt again. Because of the situation with Bradford, the Eagles better have solid offensive line play. But that unit has been broken apart as well due to Chip Kelly’s changes and some injuries. The question marks at offensive line will not only impact the QB but the running game as well. They signed away DeMarco Murray from division rival Dallas which will actually hurt Dallas more than it will help their own team. Along with Murray, they’ll also have great depth at the position with newcomer Ryan Matthews and veteran Darren Sproles. Murray, Matthews, and Sproles is an amazing group to have a running back. But there’s just one problem: either one of those guys are LeSean McCoy. I have no idea why Kelly traded away McCoy but he was the guy that kept the running going and they’ll miss him. It will be interesting to see how they use this group of running backs. Murray will be the lead guy but after getting all that run a season ago, I have to imagine that Kelly will give him less carries in order to keep him healthy. Two seasons ago, the Eagles had supreme talent at the WR position with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Now that Kelly has ran off both players, the Eagles WR unit is a group of underwhelming veterans and unproven young guys. Can Jordan Matthews have a breakout season? Can rooke Nelson Agholor replace Jeremy Maclin? What about Josh Huff and Riley Cooper? All I see are a lot of questions. I think Jordan and Agholor will eventually be the playmakers that the passing game needs but can they both perform at a high level sooner than later? One thing that is without question is that the Eagles will have the best defense in the NFC East. But then again, that might not be saying much. The Eagles had a great front seven last season and they may have gotten better in the offseason. On the defensive line, Fletcher Cox is their run stuffer and overall playmaker. They brought back OLB Brandon Graham to help round out the pass rush along with Connor Barwin and Marcus Smith. They got back LB Kiko Alonso in the LeSean McCoy trade. Alonso had a great season in Buffalo but he has some issues with staying healthy. Along with Alonso, the Eagles already had DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks so they’ll have great play from their middle linebackers this year. Philadelphia’s secondary was their weak point on the defense and I think it will continue to be this season. The one corner they had who was half decent was Brandon Boykins and Kelly had him traded away too. They brought in Byron Maxwell from Seattle in a free agency move that has “BUST” written all over it. In Seattle, Maxwell played opposite of shutdown corner Richard Sherman so he had a lot of balls thrown his way. And I’ll give him credit. When called upon, Maxwell made some big plays in that secondary. I just doubt very much that Maxwell can be the top dog and cover number one WR’s in this league. They will still have safety Malcolm Jenkins who at least has a knack for being around the football. And I do like rookie CB Eric Rowe who is a great athlete that will be called upon this his first season. I think the defense will be tough up front but the secondary will let some games get away. The Eagles might start off hot but like last season, they’ll slowly fade away. I could be wrong. Maybe Chip Kelly is a genius. Why did the Eagles organization give him so much power anyways? Because he won the Pac-12 and his offense is really fast? Depending on how this season goes, Kelly’s honeymoon in Philly could go south real quick. Prediction: 8-8

Washington Redskins – In the offseason, you could what Washington was trying to do to improve their football team. And for the most part, I think their plan is solid and it may pay dividends this season. But it wont be enough for them to make the post season. There is some buzz on the offensive side of the ball because they were able to bring in coach Bill Callahan and he has a great track record with improving the running game and the offensive line. They also drafted an offensive lineman in the first round, Brandon Scherff. But Washington already had a good rushing attack led by RB Alfred Morris. I guess that Callahan system could make things better for Morris. There is very little depth behind Morris in the backfield so, also look for rookie RB Matt Jones to get a lot of run. While I’m on the topic of the offensive line, I must that the unit looks awful so far in the preseason. QB Robert Griffin III is trying to have a bounce back season but he is already just getting crushed out there. I doubt that he’ll be able to survive another season in Washington and if so can QB Kirk Cousins really be the short-term answer. Washington has decent talent at WR with DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon, and Andre Roberts. Jackson, Garçon, and Roberts are speedsters that can stretch the field but neither are possession receivers. Washington’s top three WR’s pretty much only do one thing. It’s a good thing that TE Jordan Reed has started to come in his own in this offense as a big target for the QB. I like the improvements Washington made on their run defense in the offseason. They brought in DT’s Terrane Knighton and Stephen Paea and they’ll both really help this team’s run defense. In terms of pass rushers, OLB Ryan Kerrigan is the only proven one starting for them right now. OLB Trent Murphy must prove himself this season that he can replace Brian Orakpo. In the middle of the defense, LB Perry Riley is a leader and a playmaker as the team’s leading tackler. Washington’s secondary will suck again this year. HOW DOES DEANGELO HALL KEEP GETTING WORK? The only good things I can see on this football team are the running game and the improved run defense. If the problems with the offensive line continue, it won’t matter who will start at QB for Washington. Prediction: 5-11