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NFL 2019: Week 11 Predictions (Condensed Version)

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Do the Browns have any chance at home tonight against the Steelers? Maybe.

 

By: Elias McMillan

Last Week: 4-9

Season: 82-65-1

Week 11 Picks

Browns over Steelers – Cleveland isn’t a very good football team. But strange things happen in these Thursday night games. Maybe Cleveland’s defense will put out a strong effort at home and Baker Mayfield will avoid making those game changing mistakes against a pretty good Pittsburgh defense. I’m going out on a very, very weak limb here.

Cowboys over Lions – Dallas can’t overlook Detroit because Matt Stafford is out. This is still the team that made Sam Darnold look serviceable. The Cowboys need to completely block out last week’s late game debacle from memory and play to their potential from start to finish.

Jaguars over Colts – Indy started struggling as soon as the injury bug began to creep up. Jacksonville will be looking for a strong performance from the returning Nick Foles.

Bills over Dolphins – Buffalo must stop the bleeding on the road against one of the worst teams in the league that happen to be on a 2 game win streak.

Vikings over Broncos – Minnesota really didn’t do anything special last week in Dallas. They were fortunate because they deserved to lose. Anyways, that was a confidence builder for them going forward. They should be able to take care on Denver at home.

Saints over Buccaneers – New Orleans must be careful here. They struggled to protect Drew Brees last week. Tampa Bay can rush the passer and they can score points. This one could be real competitive until the end.

Jets over Washington – The Jets have at least proven that they can beat the really bad teams. In the NFC East.

Panthers over Falcons – I don’t trust what Atlanta was able to pull off last week but they will win more if that defense shows up more often. This week, they’ll have to find an answer for MVP candidate Christian McCaffrey.

Ravens over Texans – Easily the game of the week here. Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson will put on a show. Houston’s defense might be shaky with absence of J.J. Watt.

49ers over Cardinals – San Fran is a bit banged up on both sides of the ball. Arizona might be able to take advantage.

Raiders over Bengals – Oakland got the win last week at home against the Chargers. Next week, they got the Jets. The Raiders can’t let this opportunity for a winning streak slip thru their hands.

Patriots over Eagles – Philadelphia has played well against New England in recent history for some reason. I think the Pats will be more than ready for them coming off their bye week.

Rams over Bears – Jared Goff is starting to look really shaky and it is costing LA games. The Rams face another good defense this week. They can’t let Mitch Trubisky outplay their QB.

Chiefs over Chargers – Kansas City got their QB back but the defensive issues continued last week. The Chargers played KC well last season and I’m expecting this divisional matchup to be competitive again.

NFL 2019: AFC Preview

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No Brown? No Bell? No worries. Here comes Super Ben to save the day. Right?

 

By: Elias McMillan

AFC EAST

For the past 15 seasons, this division has only seen two other teams finish in first place other than the New England Patriots. No one is sure when the Patriots’ domination of the AFC East will end but I doubt it will be this year despite the fact New England really didn’t improve in the offseason. QB Tom Brady returns once again in his quest to add to his already Hall-of-Fame resume. New England has a nice mix of youth and veteran leadership at the skill positions. On offense this year, they will have a huge hole at the TE position thanks to the retirement of Rob Gronkowski. New England’s defense really showed out in the Super Bowl last season, holding their opponent to only 3 points. I think that unit will be weaken this season with the departures of DT Malcolm Brown and DE Trey Flowers. New England usually does a good job reloading on defense with players that we’ve may not even heard of yet. They did trade for aging but still effective DT Michael Bennett. The team in this division that made the most movement in the offseason was the New York Jets. The Jets forked over the big bucks in free agency and brought in RB Le’Veon Bell and LB C.J. Mosley. Bell, one of the top RB’s in football, should be fresh after taking 2018 off. He’ll have a great chance at rejuvenating this Jets offense and taking pressure away from the young QB, Sam Darnold. Darnold showed some promise in his rookie season but the lights on him will be brighter this year. I think having an elite option coming out the backfield will help him. The Jets really don’t have a star at WR but Robby Anderson is underrated and Jamison Crowder can be great in the slot. With the addition of Mosley and first round pick DT Quinnen Williams, the Jets front seven could be really good. “Do-Everything” safety, Jamal Adams, also returns as the leader of this defense. Adams is a rare talent in the secondary who can play the run and cover receivers down field. The Buffalo Bills hope this year won’t be a lost season for their rookie QB Josh Allen. Allen showed last year that he has the athletic tools but the Bills will be looking to seeing him improve as a passer. Buffalo’s backfield will be loaded with a gang of veterans. RB’s Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon join LeSean McCoy and I’m not sure how that competition in training camp will play out. Gore, who refuses to retire, will probably win the starting job, which could make McCoy a surprising cut before the regular season. Buffalo’s defense could be something special this season. Despite losing Stephon Gilmore to New England in 2018, they led the league in pass defense. I don’t believe that it is possible for a NFL to “tank”, especially at the start of the season. But many believe that the Miami Dolphins will be that team this year. Miami actually has a good-to-average offense on paper. I think the young receivers on this team that are waiting to breakout and will love playing with an old gun slinger at QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick. But as we all know by now, that will probably last for maybe a month or so. Fitzpatrick will start out the season playing on fire then experience a huge, turnover laced, drop-off right around Week 5. I’m really rooting for QB Josh Rosen to get a chance in this offense since many have unfairly written him off. He’s basically a rookie again after being traded from Arizona and he deserves to start this portion of his career with a clean slate. Miami’s defense lost some key veterans in the offseason. CB Xavien Howard did receive a big contract in the offseason, which was well deserved as he is proving to be one of the top corners in football. Projected Finish: 1) New England, 2) NY Jets, 3) Buffalo, 4) Miami

AFC NORTH

The AFC North led the league in headlines this past offseason. Pittsburgh, who missed the playoffs for the first time in five years, stayed in the drama thanks to a messy divorce with WR Antonio Brown. With Brown now in Oakland, Pittsburgh is thinking that moving the best receiver in football will prove to be an “addition by subtraction” move. And everything on the offensive side of the ball will be smooth as long as QB Ben Roethlisberger can stand. I’m sure that Ben will continue to be great and the running game will be fine as long as the offensive line continues to play well. But I believe that the offense will feel a drop-off of talent without 84. Go ahead and watch the highlights from 2018. It wasn’t like AB was playing like an aging veteran. AB had a strong productive season and it will be hard for the Steelers to replace that. Juju Smith-Schuster is a talented WR but we don’t know if he is ready for the added attention as a #1 receiver. It’s okay to throw in all of your chips on Roethlisberger to save the offense but he is aging too. Father time is undefeated and it’s going to interesting to see him play without his top guy for the last couple years. With all the talk about offense, Pittsburgh’s defense could be something special this season. I think trading up for LB Devin Bush in the draft will prove to be a great move. Pittsburgh will be great up front with DT Cam Heyward and OLB T.J. Watt but the question will continue to be if their secondary will hold them back. The Browns were the offseason champs of this division despite not even winning 8 games in 2018. But the offense showed excitement and promise under QB Baker Mayfield and trading for WR Odell Beckham Jr. could put their offensive talent over the top. The Browns are crazy deep at WR with OBJ joining Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway and Rashard Higgins. The backfield will be loaded with talent as well with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, who will be fresh coming off an suspension. Cleveland is also expected to be strong defensively, led by young guys DE Myles Garrett and CB Denzel Ward. I think the city of Cleveland has reason to be hype about what could potentially happen with all this talent in 2019. But you have to crawl before you can walk. I’m not saying that the Browns hype isn’t real. I’m saying that the franchise hasn’t won more than 8 games in 11 years. Realistically, I don’t think Cleveland is ready to overtake the division but they’ll at least “be there” this year. Baltimore surprised everyone and won the division last season. Unfortunately, I think they’ll take a step backwards this year. The new offense, now catered to QB Lamar Jackson, will be fun to watch. They’ll probably lead the league in rushing this year. I really like the addition of RB Mark Ingram. The elephant in the room with Jackson at QB will be his ability to pass down the field. I’m hoping exciting rookie WR Marquise Brown (AB’s cousin) will help with that. The real reason why Baltimore will struggle this year is that I think the defense won’t be able to make up the lost of LB C.J. Mosley. Mosley was a guy that Baltimore could not afford to get away. The Ravens defense will also look strange in 2019 without LB Terrell Suggs. Baltimore’s saving grace on defense might be there secondary that looks strong with the addition of Earl Thomas at safety. I’m excited to say that the rebuild of the Cincinnati Bengals is finally on. Marvin Lewis, Vontaze Burfict, and Pac-Man Jones are all gone. Unfortunately, the new look Bengals may already be behind the 8-ball with WR A.J. Green injured and first rounder T Jonah Williams out for the season. Without Green, who will be back after the first four games, WR Tyler Boyd will have the opportunity to shine and he’ll have to after the pay raise he just received. Cincinnati will be strong defensively up front with DT Geno Atkins. The Bengals could be a sleeper even with Green missing time. They will be a team that could hold opponents to less than three scores but their offense might struggle to score that same amount. Projected Finish: 1) Steelers, 2) Browns, 3) Ravens, 4) Bengals

AFC SOUTH

I wouldn’t say that the AFC South is boring. But it’s the least interesting division in the AFC. Houston has young and exciting talent but just can’t break through in the playoffs. Jacksonville showed promise a couple years ago before completely falling apart last season. And Tennessee is still waiting for Marcus Mariota to show that he can be a franchise QB. Indianapolis caught momentum late last season only to lose to the top seed in the conference. QB Andrew Luck is still the top dog in the division when it comes to QB play but his health seems to be a question mark every year. Regardless, I think Indy has surrounded him with decent talent at the receiver and running back positions. Indy really started to catch fire last season because of their defense and rookie sensation LB Darius Leonard. In the offseason, they added a pass rushing presence in veteran LB Justin Houston. The Houston Texans should run away with this division if you look at the talent they have on paper. QB Deshaun Watson is a young star in this league and is continuing to improve. WR DeAndre Hopkins catches everything and the backfield should receive a boost with the addition of Duke Johnson; joining veteran Lamar Miller. Houston will continue to have one of the top front sevens on defense led by J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. Houston’s secondary will need to have a bounce back year after finishing 2018 near the bottom of the league in pass defense. Jacksonville will be hoping to have their QB situation fixed this season. I’m not too confident in QB Nick Foles but he enters 2019 with not a lot of pressure. He only has to prove to be better than Blake Bortles. The Jaguars defense looked so strong two years ago. I think what happened to that unit last season will prove to be a fluke. They will be motivated to prove that though the sudden retirement of LB Telvin Smith will not help. That could open the door for rookie LB Josh Allen who looked like the best pass rusher in this past draft. CB Jalen Ramsey returns to a secondary that ranked second in the league in pass defense. Tennessee almost made the playoffs last season but I didn’t see them take a step forward from that in the offseason. Trading for QB Ryan Tannehill will probably not instill confidence for Mariota. The Titans are excited to see more of RB Derrick Henry who broke out last season. They need RB Dion Lewis to rebound from last season, as he was a total bust of a free agent signing. Tennessee will be strong defensively, led by one of the league’s top secondaries. DT Jurrell Casey is one of the best interior linemen and DE Cameron Wake who is coming off a productive career in Miami, will join him this year. Projected Finish: 1) Colts, 2) Texans, 3) Jaguars, 4) Titans

AFC WEST

The AFC West featured the most competitive division in the conference last season and I think we’ll see the same in 2019. Kansas City shot their way to the top of the conference thanks to the performance of QB Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes returns with many of the same weapons from a season ago, WR’s Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and TE Travis Kelce. On defense, they traded away DE Dee Ford but also acquired DE Frank Clark who should serve as a great replacement. Kansas City’s pass defense was among the league’s worst last season. They are hoping that offseason acquisition, safety Tyrann Mathieu, will help them improve in that area. The Chargers will be strong again in 2019, which could be QB Phillip Rivers final season. I get the feeling that Rivers won’t retire until he makes his Super Bowl debut. Rivers will once again have great targets in the passing game to go to in WR’s Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. But most of the talk in the offseason has been about the RB position. I don’t think RB Melvin Gordon’s hold out will last into the season. He will report and I think he needs a wake up call. Gordon is talented but he doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on with only one 1,000 yard season. I really like what the Chargers have on defense. Pass rushers Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa are difference makers up front and safety Derwin James is one of the best in the NFL already in his young career. What’s been holding Denver back for the last few seasons has been the QB position. You can laugh now but I think trading for QB Joe Flacco might prove to be one of the smartest moves made in the offseason. Denver gets a veteran presence behind center and he’s looking to prove that he still has some good football left in him. RB Phillip Lindsay who had a breakout rookie season will assist Flacco. WR Emmanuel Sanders will be plus for this passing offense if he can stay healthy. The Broncos defense will be led once again by pass rushing extraordinaire Von Miller. Denver will be looking for someone in the secondary to step up this season, as they are a missing a few pieces from last year. The Oakland Raiders made the biggest move in the offseason, trading for the best WR in the NFL, Antonio Brown. Despite that exciting acquisition, the Raiders are still not ready to compete in this division. I think having Brown in the lineup will improve the passing game, which is good news for QB Derek Carr. But the Raiders will still have unanswered question with their offensive line and backfield. A lot will be expected from rookie RB Josh Jacobs. On defense, the Raiders still are looking to fill the massive hole left by trading away DE Khalil Mack. They spent their top pick on DE Clelin Ferrell who was on no ones radar at the top of the draft. They also brought in talented but constant knucklehead LB Vontaze Burfict. This Raiders squad will be an interesting mix but I don’t think they’ll play good enough football to escape the AFC West basement. Projected Finish: 1) Chiefs, 2) Chargers, 3) Broncos, 4) Raiders

NFL 2018: Week 17 Predictions

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All eyes on Sunday will be on Cleveland’s rookie QB, Baker Mayfield.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 11-5

Season: 138-100-2

Week 17 Picks

Bills over Dolphins – Buffalo gives DT Kyle Williams a hero’s send off into retirement.

Packers over Lions – This meaningless game will be highlighted by Aaron Rodgers, I guess.

Patriots over Jets – New England still needs to lock up that first round bye in the playoffs. They’ll put their best foot forward against a competitive Jets team.

Saints over Panthers – Teddy Bridgewater will hope to have a strong game as he auditions for a potential job elsewhere.

Giants over Cowboys – Dallas can’t improve their seeding in the NFC. I think New York will win it late against the Cowboys’ backups.

Falcons over Buccaneers – Atlanta’s defense will strive against a Tampa Bay offense that turns over the ball too much.

Texans over Jaguars – Houston is still in play for a potential bye in the post season.

Chargers over Broncos – LA was bullied last week. They’ll need a strong performance this week to put that Baltimore loss in the past. Also, the AFC West crown is still up for grabs.

Chiefs over Raiders – KC needs this one to lock up the AFC West in what could be a high scoring affair.

Rams over 49ers – No Todd Gurley worries me for LA. San Francisco has played decently at times late this season. I still like LA in this match up but don’t be surprised if the Niners make things interesting.

Vikings over Bears – I thought Minnesota would falter on the road last week. This week, I think they’ll clinch the final playoff spot in the NFC. Minnesota has been a stronger team at home. Chicago may want to knock Minnesota out this Sunday but they might be better off facing a familiar opponent in the wildcard round.

Steelers over Bengals – Pittsburgh needs help to get into the playoffs but in terms of this week’s game, they should roll against the 2ndstring of the Bengals.

Seahawks over Cardinals – Seattle may rest their starters but that may not even matter. Arizona will lock up the first overall pick in next April’s draft.

Eagles over Washington – The way Philadelphia has rallied behind Nick Foles is reminiscent of last season. Too bad they won’t make the post season.

Ravens over Browns – Baltimore has only lost once since their bye week. If the Ravens defense shows up like they did last week, Bayer Mayfield will be in for a world of hurt.

Colts over Titans – With the final playoff spot in the AFC on the line, I’m going with the healthiest team. Marcus Mariota will try to give it a go on Sunday but I doubt that he’ll be able to play the entire 60 minutes. I like Andrew Luck and the Colts on the road.

NFL 2018: Week 4 Predictions

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Everything’s all good in Steel Town now that they’ve got their first victory of 2018, right?

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 6-10

Season: 22-24-2

Big Five Games of the Week

Minnesota @ LA Rams – The Vikings absolutely laid an egg at home last week against a terrible Buffalo team. But I believe they can bounce back this week even on the road against a good LA Rams team. The Rams have significant injuries in their secondary and I believe this will give Kirk Cousins full range in terms of attack them through the air. LA’s offense is pretty capable as well but I just think Minnesota will be anxious to get the bad taste from Week 3 out of their system. Winner: Vikings

Miami @ New England – New England had their annual early season “are they done” loss last week. The Patriots will obviously bounce back. But not enough people are talking about this undefeated Miami Dolphins team. They are proving that addition by subtraction can work out if you look at the changes that they’ve made in the offseason, which are now paying off. New England’s defense is struggling right now and I believe that Miami’s offense is capable of attack them through the ground and in the air. Instead of bouncing back at home, I think New England will lose their second straight. Winner: Dolphins

New Orleans @ NY Giants – The Giants finally got a win last week but I think that may have said more about Houston than about them. New Orleans has been apart of a close finish in each game this week. This tells me that their defense needs fixed. I think the Giants will be able to put up points against this team but I don’t think that will be enough for them to win. If they are able to go “tit-for-tat” offensively, I’ll still bet on the Saints to win another close one. Winner: Saints

Baltimore @ Pittsburgh – The Steelers finally won last week so everything’s all-good in Yinzer land. Right? Hardly. Pittsburgh’s defense is poor and they almost blew a 20-point lead last week in the second half. I think Baltimore coming to town will be a good thing for them because they should know what to expect. These games are usually a tough-drag ‘em out type of contest. Everyone knows about Pittsburgh’s struggles on defense but I don’t think the Ravens offense is good enough to exploit it. I am looking at you, Joe Flacco. I wonder if the Baltimore defense will be able to make enough stops against a Pittsburgh offense that has so many ways to beat you. The road team typically has the tougher up hill climb in these matchups. Winner: Steelers

Kansas City @ Denver – Patrick Mahomes is the talk of the NFL right now and the lights will be extra bright on him and the Chiefs offense on Monday night. I’m looking forward to see how this kid deals with being chased by Von Miller for 4 quarters. Going into the 2018 season, I believed that Kansas City would take a step back this year because of their defense. The good news is that I don’t see Denver’s offense being able to push the issue against them especially since Case Keenum will be tasked with out dueling the hottest QB in the league currently. Playing at Mile-High can prove to be a challenge but I believe Mahomes and the gang will be up for it. Winner: Chiefs

The Rest of Week 4

Falcons over Bengals – Rookie WR Calvin Ridley is starting to become an x-factor for the Atlanta offense.

Bears over Buccaneers – Ryan Fitzpatrick will continue to fall back down to earth against a Chicago defense that will get after him. Winston will be the starter when Tampa returns from the bye week in Week 6.

Lions over Cowboys – I’m buying into Detroit’s performance last week but Dallas is a team that cannot score points. Last time I checked, you have to score points to win.

Packers over Bills – Green Bay is not a good team. Buffalo and especially rookie QB Josh Allen would definitely have my attention if they were able to win in Green Bay.

Eagles over Titans – I like Philly here in a low scoring affair. Tennessee is close to being down two quarterbacks. I think Carson Wentz will continue to feel more comfortable back in the lineup.

Colts over Texans – The talk in Texas maybe about the Cowboys’ struggles but what in the world is going on in Houston? Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt, Clowney, Hopkins, Lamar Miller. They are all healthy. Yet, Houston is winless. The hot seat will be on coach Bill O’Brien real soon if they go to 0-4.

Jaguars over Jets – Jacksonville is a good team that just can’t beat Tennessee. It makes no sense but it’s true.

Browns over Raiders – I like Bayer Mayfield to keep Jon Gruden’s Raiders winless in a road upset.

Seahawks over Cardinals – Arizona made the right decision benching Sam Bradford for the rookie Josh Rosen. But this Cardinals team doesn’t look like they are in shape to compete this year.

Chargers over 49ers – The Jimmy Garoppolo injury has taken the air out of the entire season for San Francisco.

Fantasy Picks of the Week

QB: Phillip Rivers (Chargers) – Rivers should have plenty of opportunities against the 49ers that might have trouble scoring points themselves.

RB: Kenyan Drake (Dolphins) – Many are waiting on a breakout out game from Drake. It could come this week in New England.

WR: Odell Beckham Jr. (Giants) – The New Orleans secondary is back to being bad. That should be good news for New York’s top receiving target.

TE: Travis Kelce (Chiefs) – Kelce is pretty reliable is playing with house money with how well the Chiefs offense is operating.

DEF: Jacksonville – I like the Jaguars defense to limit rookie QB Sam Darnold this week.

 

 

 

 

NFL 2018: AFC Season Preview

By: Elias McMillan

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

AFC EAST

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

AFC NORTH

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

AFC SOUTH

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

AFC WEST

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

NFL 2017: Week 9 Predictions!

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David Carr and the Raiders need to rebound after an unfavorable start to this season.

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 12-1

Season: 71-48

Big Five Games of the Week

Buffalo @ New York Jets – The Jets are cranking out great efforts week after week. That’s a good sign for head coach Todd Bowles. The Jets will attempt to empty the tank on a short week against a red hot Buffalo Bills team at home. The Bills were thought to be tanking in September but now they are thinking about how they can keep this going and end one of the longer playoff droughts going in the league. New York will play tough at home and their defense will keep them in it. But the Bills seem to have a lot going for them right now. They have the better QB in Tyrod Taylor and they’ll take the extra rest after this win to accumulate newly acquired WR Kelvin Benjamin. Prediction: Bills 27 – Jets 13

Denver @ Philadelphia – Philadelphia’s remaining schedule isn’t very strong. They just have to keep the wins rolling and stay healthy going into the post season at this point. I think Denver’s defense will provide a good test for the Eagles offense. Von Miller and the Broncos defensive line could provide problems for Philly’s offensive line and their top running attack. Even if Denver is able to limit what Philadelphia can do on offense, I do not trust the Denver offense amounting to much especially since they are turning the offense over to Brock Osweiler. Prediction: Eagles 22 – Broncos 10

Atlanta @ Carolina – The Falcons are continuing to under perform this season. Atlanta still has the ability to put up points with that offense, forcing the opposing team to attempt to outscore them. Atlanta can’t afford to sleep walk this week in Carolina. The Panthers offense is in disarray and things won’t be getting better as they just traded away Cam Newton’s number one receiver. Carolina is still playing well defensively but their offense is missing the spark that rookie RB Christian McCaffrey was suppose to provide. This one will be a heated NFC South contest and I don’t see Carolina amounting enough offensively to beat Atlanta. Carolina may waste another good effort from their defense. Prediction: Falcons 24 – Panthers 19

Kansas City @ Dallas – The Ezekiel Elliott suspension has finally gone through and that is bad news for the Cowboys. Zeke has clearly been the Cowboys best player the last two week and now they will go without him for 6 weeks. I think Alfred Morris and a fresh (but old) Darren McFadden could prove to serve the Dallas rushing game well but it shouldn’t be enough to make up what Zeke can do for the offense when he is in the lineup. Kansas City is really good this year so Dallas will have to play their best game at home to beat them. The Cowboys defense is very beatable so, I can see them having a tough time with WR Tyreke Hill, RB Kareem Hunt and TE Travis Kelce. Kansas City’s defense can give up big plays on occasion as well. QB Dak Prescott has to figure a way to attack the Chiefs defense with confidence in this one. Without Zeke to lean on, Prescott will have to make the Chiefs defense respect the passing game and with the weapons he has, I believe that he can. The Chiefs will be strong upfront defensively with Justin Houston and the return of Tamba Hali. I think the first one without Elliott will prove to be a tough one for Dallas. Prediction: Chiefs 35 – Cowboys 29

Oakland @ Miami – The Raiders are in a rut. They were suppose to be a Super Bowl contender but now it is looking like they may miss the playoffs al together if they don’t get things turned around in a hurry. Miami might be a great place for that turn around to begin. The Dolphins have been wildly inconsistent this season and their head coach is fed up. Case in point, they traded away under performing star RB (from last year) Jay Ajayi. For whatever reason, Miami hasn’t been able to get their running game going and that was such a key to their playoff run a season ago. QB Jay Cutler will return for this game but I’m not sure if that’s a good thing. I mean, the Raiders do have a weak secondary but they should be able to get after Cutler with Khalil Mack and their pass rush. Miami’s defensive front seven is tough but they also struggle in the secondary. I think David Carr and the passing game will be able to make some big plays down the field for Oakland. This game could provide the Raiders with some confidence going forward as Miami begins their journey to the bottom of the AFC East. Prediction: Raiders 30 – Dolphins 21

The Rest of Week 9

Ravens over Titans – I know Tennessee is coming off the bye but Baltimore’s defense played really good last week.

Saints over Buccaneers – New Orleans is the sleeper team in the NFC that many thought Tampa would be at the beginning of this season.

Rams over Giants – New York is coming off another week of locker room drama. LA can’t blink as they are chasing a realistic playoff berth.

Jaguars over Bengals – The Jacksonville pass rush will be all over Andy Dalton in this game. Many are excited about the return of the teal jerseys for the Jags. They really just need to go back to having one helmet color.

Texans over Colts – Houston lost last week but they have to be feeling pretty confident about their rookie at QB.

Cardinals over 49ers – This one is truly a toss-up. San Fran is winless and they might have a good chance if they can close out in the 4th quarter.

Seahawks over Washington – It is too bad that the Washington defense and offensive line has suffered so many injuries.

Lions over Packers – Detroit was pathetic at home last week. I don’t think much of the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers but they actually have a great chance of winning with their home field advantage.

 

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

QB: Deshaun Watson (Texans) – After ripping the Seahawks secondary, going up against the Colts could be a walk in the park.

RB: Adrian Peterson (Cardinals) – The 49ers can’t stop the run and Arizona will have to lean on the run game with Carson Palmer out for the season.

WR: Mike Evans (Buccaneers) – Tampa will attack the Saints secondary in an attempt to out score Drew Brees and company.

TE: Jason Witten (Cowboys) – With no Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott will turn to one of the most reliable players in the league.

DEF: Jacksonville – Cincinnati doesn’t have an offensive line. Another 10 sack day on the horizon?

NFL 2017: Week 8 Predictions!

buffalo-bills

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

By: Elias McMillan

 

Last Week: 9-6

Season: 59-47

Big Five Games of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

The Rest of Week 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fantasy Football Picks of the Week

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

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

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

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

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