Thursday, September 24, 2015

Week 3 In Review

Some crazy stuff happened this past weekend, and my old format is not going to do it justice. So for this, I will just be providing little tidbits and thoughts from this past weekend's action.

  • Ohio State needs to get their shit together and in a hurry. They are not going to be in real danger against a team until either Penn State, Minnesota, or Michigan State rolls into town a month or so down the road, but they are following the same script as Florida State did last year. If they keep this up, I can see them getting dropped to the three or four seed in the playoffs and have a tougher game than what they really should. The coaches need to pick a quarterback and give him all of the first team reps in practice. Splitting reps is only hurting both guys.
  • I don't know if TCU is going to make the playoffs with how many defensive players they have lost. Last I saw, they have eight guys with injuries on the defensive side. Their offense has been looking a lot better since the game against Minnesota, but I could see them losing to Texas Tech this weekend in Lubbock considering their defense will probably only have a handful of stops throughout the game. This team needs to get healthy quickly.
  • We may have found our SEC Champion in just the third game of the season. Ole Miss is playing out of their minds right now. The offensive line is performing well despite the absence of Laremy Tunsil, they have legit receivers in Evan Engram, and Chad Kelly has been playing at a very high level. The secondary needs some tweaking, but Ole Miss looks like one of the top two teams in the SEC West which is clearly the stronger division.
  • Speaking of Ole Miss, I'm pretty happy that I didn't pick Alabama to win the SEC like a lot of pundits did. Granted I bought into the Auburn hype which has been a huge mistake, but Alabama looked aggressively mediocre in their home loss to the Rebels. Their quarterbacks all suck, the secondary is still a major liability, and Lane Kiffin is still a retard who doesn't give the ball to their star running back enough. This could be the worst season for Alabama in the last five years (yeah, I know, boo fricking hoo).
  • Despite losing several key players including their starting quarterback, Notre Dame looks to be in prime contention for a playoff spot. They currently sit in the sixth spot and just had an impressive win over Georgia Tech, a team thought by many to contend and even win the ACC. They have playmakers all over their secondary and Deshone Kizer has looked a lot better than anticipated at quarterback. If they can get past Clemson in two weeks on the road, I don't see any upcoming game in which they wouldn't be the favorite.
  • While we are the topic of Clemson and Georgia Tech, does anyone look like a threat to come out of the ACC and claim a playoff spot? No one from the conference has looked like a world beater, and being a relatively easy conference, one team is going to have to step up and dominate their competition in order to get a shot. Even Florida State has looked like garbage this season as evident by their 14-0 "victory" over Boston College. 
  • Two teams from the SEC West have just flown past each other in opposite directions, and it really could not have been in any bigger display of polarity than this game. LSU completely abused Auburn, a team hanging on by a thread after their game against Jacksonville State. Leonard Fornette ran for over 200 yards and three touchdowns on just 19 carries including some runs that looked right out of Madden. The quarterback situation for them still isn't ideal, but they still have plenty of options at receiver and have shown a stout defense through three weeks. They have a date is Tuscaloosa that could be the signature win they need to boost themselves into the playoffs. Meanwhile, Auburn has essentially blown their chance. Jeremy Johnson proved to be anything but the reincarnation of Cam Newton, and Muschamp hasn't been able to turn the defense around as quick as everyone predicted. 
  • This weekend's game between UCLA and Arizona could be the biggest of the weekend. With USC getting embarrassed by Stanford, the winner of this game will be in a great position to win the PAC 12 South. The Bruins were struck by some really shitty news today when Myles Jack, a freakish two way player (line backer and running back), would be out for the year with a knee injury. Arizona is actually getting their leading pass rusher back from an injury in outside linebacker Scooby Wright. This game will also feature two of the most exciting quarterbacks in Josh Rosen and Anu Solomon. Definitely tune in to this one at 8:30 on Saturday.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Week Two in Review

Most Impressive Victory

No. 19 Oklahoma Sooners defeat No. 23 Tennessee Volunteers 31-24 in 2OT

On the surface, this may not seem that impressive considering that Oklahoma was the higher ranked team, the favorite, and required two overtimes to eek out the victory. Dig a bit deeper, and you'll see a team that fought tooth and nail to pull themselves out of a two touchdown grave with under seven minutes to go. For fifty minutes, Tennessee was in complete control of this game and looked to make a statement win early in the season. Butch Jones was looking for that first signature victory, but Bob Stoops's team continued to claw back and forced overtime with less than a minute left. I'll be discussing their MVP from that game in a moment, but overall Oklahoma looked like a team that might be able to make their mark in the Big 12 this year. If this team manages to finish with just one loss, consider this a resume booster for their playoff hopes.

Most Impressive Player

Sterling Shepard, Wide Receiver Oklahoma Sooners
7 Catches, 74 Yards, 2 TDs

He was quiet for most of the game like the rest of the team, but completely took over when his team needed him the most. Coming down the stretch, quarterback Baker Mayfield repeatedly looked towards Shepard to make a big play when the team needed it. His first touchdown tied the game up at 17, forcing the game to go into overtime. In the second overtime, he made an acrobatic catch along the sideline in the endzone that put the Sooners up for the first time all game. The senior has been one of the most decorated receivers at Oklahoma and will likely be the most consistent target for Mayfield as this year progresses. He has shown a penchant for big plays in the past and made quite a few of them in the first game. His production should stay steady through the season.

Most Disappointing

No. 18 Arkansas Razorbacks losing to Toledo Rockets 12-16

This is, by far, my favorite game all year long. First off, fuck Brett Bielema. The Razorbacks head coach had been talking shit to several different teams in the week up to this game, including calling out Ohio State's schedule. His team then got completely embarrassed by a MAC team in a neutral cite located less than 100 miles from campus. It was an amazing sense of justice and karma all delivered as painfully as possible over the course of a sixty minute game. His team managed to gain over 500 yards, almost 200 more than Toledo managed, and still managed to score only ten points! Ten! The other two were from a safety that Toledo took with less than a minute left. How the hell does that happen?! It is an amazing stroke of futility that couldn't have happened to a more unlikable coach. The fact that he would try and downgrade Ohio State's schedule and then lose to a team that was a three touchdown underdog is a fantastic bit of schadenfreude. Woo Pig!

Did You See That?

Oklahoma outside linebacker Eric Striker going ape shit on Tennessee fans after the big victory in Knoxville. Of course, he has since been forced to apologize because no player should dare show emotion or be amped out of their mind because of a big road victory. Striker is an absolute beast and insanely brash. Watch him as often as you can.

Week 3 Game to Watch

No. 15 Ole Miss Running Rebels at No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide

With Auburn and LSU squaring off earlier in the day, this victory could help narrow down the SEC West. Last year, Ole Miss knocked off Alabama at home and had them on the outside looking in for a playoff spot. But Alabama is catching the Rebels at home this year and has looked pretty solid in their first two games. Ole Miss has been rolling up over 70 points per game so far, so it should be an interesting matchup for an Alabama team that still has some questions in the secondary. The Tide haven't done anything very exciting on offense, so it will be interesting to see if they try and air it our more if their run game begins to falter. I'll take Alabama 27-23 in this one.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

NFC Predictions


Atlanta Falcons (9-7) – If there is one division that is up for the taking it is the NFC South.  It’s a bad division when a division winner is under .500, which is strange considering the Falcons, Panthers, and Saints are all good teams.  Just a strange year but that’s football for ya.  The Falcons have a good offense – minus a running back – but it remains to be seen if Tevin Coleman can carry the full load as a running back.  Matt Ryan has been Mr. Consistent at doing well but not enough, much like his AFC counterpart Andy Dalton.  Julio Jones is an absolute beast and it is time for him to step up his offensive prowess and become that top 3 receiver we expect him to be.  Dan Quinn came to a fantastic situation.  He has the offense, as long as Kyle Shanahan doesn’t screw it up, and he can run the defense and build it in the mold of the Seattle D.  Vic Beasley will be a building block along with young players like Ra’Shede Hageman, Paul Worrilow, and Desmond Trufant.  Although they don’t have stars on defense, watch out because some of these players will shine.

Carolina Panthers (9-7) – Another torn ACL takes away another year from a promising superstar.  Poor Kelvin Benjamin.  A rookie sensation with his season already cut short.  Something needs to be done about these ACL tears but that is for another day.  Cam Newton now needs to find another reliable target to go to and that man is … Greg Olsen.  Olsen had a fantastic year last year and I expect him to be big for the Panthers (and fantasy).  Cam’s other starting receiver is Ted “One Route” Ginn, SORRY.  I am not the biggest fan of Devin Funchess but he might develop enough to play early in the season.  The biggest X factor for this team is Jonathan Stewart.  If he can do what he did in the post season last year, AND stay healthy, he could be in line for a big season.  Luke Kuechly is back on defense and ready to rack up the stats.  Through 3 seasons, he has accumulated a jaw dropping 473 tackles.  What???...  Oh yeah and 6 sacks, 4 fumble recoveries, and 7 interceptions.  Outside of JJ Watt, the Boston College prodigy might be the best defensive player in football.  This Carolina defense will need big years from their high drafted players from the past few years like Kony Ealy and Star Lotulelei.  I think this Panther team just misses out on the playoffs.

New Orleans Saints (10-6) – I am going to make a bold prediction and say that Drew Brees throws for over 5,000 yards and over 40 touchdowns and less than 10 interceptions, thus putting himself in contention for the MVP and into the playoffs.  Not that bold I know but too many people are trying to knock down Brees.  He had a down year last year, due in large to a nagging oblique injury, but with a lot of fresh faces on that offense and a revamped defense this team will be on the upswing.  The offensive line is better and Brandon Coleman could be in line for a breakout season.  Brandon Browner is coming into an already good secondary with Kenny Vaccao, Jairus Byrd, and Keenan Lewis.  The secondary will give Dannell Ellerbe and Cameron Jordan plenty of time to get to the quarterback in the backfield.  Rob Ryan should be one happy man this year if he can dial up blitzes from all over the field.  Watch the Saints win the NFC South.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11) – Time to throw the rookie quarterback to the wolves again.  We have seen this fail so many times now, yet it continues to happen although Jameis Winston might be a bit different.  He comes into the league a more accomplished passer than most of the previous first round quarterbacks but only time will tell if starting him right away was the best move.  He does have two fantastic receivers to throw to in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson and a halfway decent offensive line so this could be a suitable recipe for early success.  Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David are going to be leading the Lovie Smith defense again this year.  They are going to have to find ways to create pressure if they hope to survive in this division though.  Brees, Newton, and Ryan can all sling the ball with the best of them so it will be a tough division to win in without a stud pass rusher.

Chicago Bears (9-7) – Poor Chicago.  For the past few years they have had quite a good team and plenty of offensive weapons in Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall, Martellus Bennett, and Matt Forte.  Only Marshall is not there anymore but they did draft Kevin White out of West Virginia, we will see what he can do when he is healthy.  But the one constant has been Jay Cutler.  He has never lived up to expectations (despite still being in the league *cough Matt Leinart and Vince Young) but maybe he can still turn it around?  Doubtful.  Once a quitter, always a quitter.  We will see what John Fox has up- his sleeves.  There is quite a bit of talent still on this team that he might be able to make some magic happen.

Detroit Lions (7-9) – No more Ndumukong Suh, big problem.  And then subtract Nick Fairley and this team just went from having a position of strength to one with a big hole and question marks.  They did draft Gabe Wright out of Auburn and signed Haloti Ngata from the Ravens.  Ngata will be key as he is coming back from an injury but he was a dominant player and leader for the Ravens, even when injured.  Matthew Stafford will be looking to reestablish a connection with Calvin Johnson as Johnson has been bit by the injury bug.  I look for both players to have huge bounce back years. Golden Tate enjoyed the double coverage shifting to Megatron as it left him open to gain huge chunks of yards all over the field.  Then the Lions made a wise move in drafting Ameer Abdullah, a smaller but sturdy running back from Nebraska that can carry the load as a three down back.  If the Lions can get Abdullah going early in the season it will force defenders to have to account for him and stack the box more, thus giving Calvin Johnson more one on one opportunities.  The same goes for Tate and second year tight end Eric Ebron.  The Detroit offense will have to carry the defense this year, but no way they can keep up with a Green Bay offense.

Green Bay Packers (13-3) – This is Aaron Rodgers’s year to prove what a bad man he is.  He has racked up the stats over the past couple years but he has to prove it when it counts, in the post season.  I’m on record as saying that Aaron Rodgers is the best passer I have ever seen.  He slings it just as well as Dan Marino and he already has one Lombardi Trophy, poor Dan.  Despite Jordy Nelson being lost for the season, the next man up is Devante Adams.  He made large strides last year as the third receiver on the team and now it’s time for him to create a connection with Rodgers and make us forget about Jordy.  The Green Bay defense is another year older but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Clay Matthews is still under thirty and it seems as though he is healthy this year and ready to get after the quarterback.  Julius Peppers may have lost a step but he is still one of the better edge rushers we have seen this generation.  I think the Packers make it to the Super Bowl and finally beat the Seahawks to get there.

Minnesota Vikings (10-6) – With one of the best running backs in my generation coming back to a young up and coming team, big things could be in line for Team Purple.  Adrian Peterson is back and is hungry to get on the playing field.  Teddy Bridgewater looked the part of an above average quarterback in his rookie season as he threw for under 3,000 yards and kept the turnovers to a minimum, for a rookie.  Insert Adrian Peterson and this offense could be a dynamic one with plenty of play action passes for Teddy B.  This is where Mike Wallace and Charles Johnson come into play.  Wallace will be open on those deep routes and Johnson, with an established relationship with Bridgewater, will be ready for those deep in and out routes and back shoulder fades.  The defense is led by Harrison Smith, an IDP savior, and Anthony Barr who came on strong at the end of his rookie season.  The Vikings just squeak into the playoffs and could very well make an impact in January.

Dallas Cowboys (10-6) – The Cowboys are a tough team to predict this year.  I believe they royally screwed up by not drafting a running back in such a deep class for that position.  That offensive line is phenomenal so it seems like Jason Garrett is content with running Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden, no idea why, but it may work.  I am trying to figure out what kind of injury Tony Romo will sustain this year.  My guess is some kind of foot injury that will get him hobbling around and then he will have to stay in the pocket.  Oh well, Dez can catch pretty much any kind of duck that Romo chucks his way.  I love Sean Lee.  I hate that he had such a catastrophic injury last year as he is likely to be hesitant for the first few games but the shift of him from middle linebacker to the weakside may prove to be the shift he needs.  He will be free to make plenty of plays and be the difference maker he was the year before.  Randy Gregory will have to be the pass rusher Dallas drafted him to be.  He appears to have bulked up enough to survive life in the trenches and hopefully he can stop smoking pot for just a few months.  Dallas makes it in as one of the wild card teams.

Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) – Time to see what you’re made of Chip Kelly.  You somehow got total control of the team and you now hold the fate of Philly in your hands.  Kelly has an impressive record of 20 and 12 in his first two seasons and he can pretty much throw anybody he wants in on offense and make them successful.  It’s still hard to believe he gave away one of the best running backs in the league for a very good player who shredded his knee last year but Philadelphia always does things in an unconventional way.  It remains to be seen why he grabbed two running backs who can’t stay healthy in DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews.  Kelly will either fly high or will be run out of town by the pitchforks and torches of Eagles fans.  Sam Bradford could have a fantastic year in an offense tailor-made to him, but he needs to stay healthy for the first time in his unsuccessful career.  This whole team could be completely blown up next year if anything but a Super Bowl is brought back to Philadelphia.

New York Giants (8-8) – This is the Giants year, right?  Every four years they beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl but not this year.  I don’t think they even make the playoffs this time around.  While Odell Beckham Jr. looked like a freak of nature last year, I don’t expect him to be the savior (not this year at least).  I base that primarily off of a few things: Eli Manning and injuries.  Eli has looked god awful this preseason, especially after supposedly making huge strides in picking up the new playbook.  He couldn’t connect with Beckham at all as they were on a different page with every drop back this preseason.  Also, ODB had that nagging hamstring injury last year and with defensive backs targeting the player who made the most spectacular catch I have ever seen, injuries could lie ahead for him.  Jason Pierre Paul was probably extremely shitfaced when he held onto a firework too long thus ending in a blown off finger and a fractured thumb.  Attaboy.  He won’t be ready for the start of the season and nobody knows when he will be or what kind of condition he is in.  I think Tom Coughlin will be done after this year after his face turns too red to the point of no return, or he gets fed up with the stupidity of too many players.

Washington Redskins (4-12) – I would love for Dan Snyder to read this one day.  You are a horrible owner and “front man”.  The perfect example why you hire people who know what they are doing to run your organization for you.  You brought in Scot McCloughan as general manager to breathe some life into the drafting process for this sad franchise.  Only time will tell if that pans out but Snyder has held onto Robert Griffin III for too long.  You can’t coddle football players and expect them to be the superstar that you want them to be.  Jay Gruden has his hands full as it is with a bare cupboard of offensive talent and a playbook that he would love to expand.  Now that Kirk Cousins has been named the starter, he might actually be able to develop but if my predicted record follows through, expect this Redskins team to be wiped clean and coaching staff fired.  If the Redskins can get something for RG3, they should do it but I can’t see any head coach wanting a player that feels entitled.  Maybe Ryan Kerrigan will get 15 sacks this year, he will definitely be spending lots of time on the field if this offense cannot get things going.

Arizona Cardinals (9-7) – I can’t get a hold of the Cardinals.  There aren’t any supremely talented players on this team, that aren’t aging, and yet they find ways to win games.  Bruce Arians has to be one of my favorite coaches for that fact.  He just wins games.  Looking back to his days with the Colts, when he took over for Chuck Pagano for a year, and in his first few seasons with the Cardinals he has made the playoffs every year.  Carson Palmer needs to stay healthy.  We saw in the postseason that this team can win anywhere at any time by playing fantastic defense and a ball control offense but when Palmer went down, so did the team’s hopes and chances of winning anything.  Calais Campbell is a mammoth in the trenches and there are some skilled players in the secondary with Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson.  But this Cardinals team is lacking an explosive offensive threat, NO Chris Johnson is NOT the answer, especially with Michael Floyd not developing into the receiver they hoped he would.  They do have a shot at making the playoffs if Larry Fitzgerald can shake off father time and hope to get some more single coverages.  The Cardinals just miss making the playoffs this year.

San Francisco 49ers (3-13) – The 49ers may have the biggest dropoff in wins this year.  When Jim Harbaugh left, so did half the team.  I am not sure what he told Chris Borland, Justin Smith, and Anthony Davis but they must have realized that something wasn’t right with their heads.  Quite ironic of the timing for all that but the show goes on.  Frank Gore is gone and now it’s Carlos Hyde’s chance to show what he can do.  If Mike Iupati can come back healthy, Hyde will be one happy running back or else Colin Kaepernick might get destroyed.  This once great defense has been decimated by injuries, retirees, and stupidity.  Aldon Smith is one dumb player. The 49ers are hoping that Navarro Bowman can return to his pre injury form.  In an already competitive division San Francisco may be looking at a very early draft pick next year, potentially number one overall.

Seattle Seahawks (12-4) – The one thing holding Seattle from two consecutive Lombardi Trophies is one bone-headed play call.  I’m sure Darrell Bevell will never be able to live that one down.  Now if the Seahawks only had a tall receiver to throw to, that play call may have been much better.  Well now they do after they acquired Jimmy Graham from the New Orleans Saints.  Graham may not have the type of statistic impact that we are used to, but his on the field presence will be felt and known.  I have to add my two cents about something before I talk defense.  Kam Chancellor.  Why?  Two years away from your contract expiring and you are already bitching.  This is either yours or your agents fault but I really hope you hold out the whole year and owe Seattle millions of dollars as you are clearly one dumb player.  Whatever happened to team first?  They already gave you plenty of money a few years ago and you are claiming they have no loyalty, you are an expendable player.  I could go on for days about that stuff.  Thankfully Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman weren’t seeing things that way and they are ready to take on any and every offense. These two players are putting up some incredible statistics at some key positions.  Seattle wins the west with ease and makes a run against the Packers in the NFC Championship game.

St Louis Rams (9-7) – With the 49ers beginning to falter and the Cardinals beginning to show signs of aging, it’s time for the young guns of St Louis to take control of their destiny.  After being one quarterback away for the past few years, they finally obtained a halfway adequate one in Nick Foles.  While maybe not quite the upgrade from Sam Bradford, maybe Foles can stay healthy long enough to show what he can do.  An upgrade at receiver will be necessary next year as Brian Quick is the only halfway decent one on the team but when you have Todd Gurley running the rock, you may have your cornerstone on offense for years to come.  The running back out of Georgia is an athletic freak of nature.  He has the rare combination of blazing speed and ox like strength.  As long as he is brought along correctly from his torn ACL, he will be a fantastic player for years to come.  And that defense.  Oy.  I am not quite sure where one can throw or run the ball.  There are studs all over the field: Robert Quinn, Aaron Donald, Chris Long, Alec Ogletree, James Laurinaitis, Janoris Jenkins, and more.  This teams just needs the offense to put up some points and to dominate teams outside of Seattle and they will definitely be in the playoffs this year.  But wait!  I forgot they have Jeff Fisher as head coach.  That automatically means they will lose games they shouldn’t and that would put them on the outside looking in for another year.  Sorry Rams fans.  Maybe better luck next year in Los Angeles.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Week 1 in Review

The top ten rankings have gotten a bit too stale for me, so I am going to try something new. Let me know what you guys think!

Most Impressive Victory

Texas A&M Aggies beat No. 15 Arizona State Sun Devils 38-17
Coming into this season, these teams were seen as rather opposites. Arizona State was believed to be a team that could win the PAC 12 South, possibly unseat Oregon for the conference championship, and maybe even work their way into the playoffs. A&M on the other hand was thought to be one of the bottom teams in the SEC West (although considering the depth of that division, that really isn't all that bad). They seem to have noticed the difference with new defensive coordinator John Chavis almost immediately. Ever since head coach Mike Sumlin took over, the defense has been a major liability and has really held back the Aggies from reaching their full potential. But that has completely changed with Chavis as the new coordinator. They should only improve with more practice and can really take this team over the edge. Offensively, you know that they can churn out points almost on command. Sophomore Kyle Allen had a solid but unspectacular day, but this was still just his sixth career start. The arsenal of receivers at his disposal will only help his development throughout the year. I don't know if they are good enough to beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa, but A&M can definitely make waves in the SEC West.

Most Impressive Player

Josh Rosen, Quarterback, UCLA Bruins
Rosen was one of the most highly rated quarterback prospects coming out of high school in recent memory. There was little doubt that once he committed to the Bruins, he was likely going to be their starting quarterback for the first game. Rosen didn't fail to live up to the hype in their first game when he threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns against Virginia. Obviously Virginia isn't cranking out NFL players on defense at a high level, but they are still a P5 team. Rosen played a great game and showed a great range of throws for someone his age. He looks to be a natural fit in Jim Mora's pro style offense. He has some very tough road games that will really test him later in the season, but there is no doubt that he will be a great player over the next couple of years. Watch this kid as often as you can, he could be the number one pick after his junior year.

Most Disappointing

Penn State losing to Temple, 10-27
I think the only other time I've seen the hopes of a team implode so quickly was when Michigan lost to Appalachian State. This isn't quite as severe considering Michigan was a top five team then, but there were a lot of people, including myself, who thought that the Nittany Lions could win ten games this year if their offensive woes were neutralized by another year of experience and more scholarship players. That obviously wasn't the case as their offense was a downright disgrace and was completely embarrassed. Christian Hackenburg completed only 11 of 25 passes for 103 yards and one pick. Once thought to be a top NFL prospect, it is clear that he just simply isn't a good fit in James Franklin's system and maybe isn't as good as he was coming out of high school. It wasn't like he had a lot of help as his offensive line allowed him to get sacked TEN FUCKING TIMES. They let up a sack when Temple only rushed two players. It was completely embarrassing. Their defense is good, but they can only do so much to keep them in games. It is going to be another rough year for Penn State.

Did You See That?

Braxton Miller's spin move. Enough said.

It is borderline unfair that he is playing H Back now.

Week 2 Game to Watch

No. 7 Oregon Ducks at No. 5 Michigan State Spartans
Last year, Michigan State gave the Ducks quite the scare in Eugene during the first half, only to watch their lead evaporate in the second half. This should be a fantastic game. It is being played at night and is a rematch of last year's game which had some pretty significant playoff implications. This year should not be any different with Oregon the favorite to win the PAC 12 and Michigan State the biggest threat to Ohio State's supremacy in the B1G. The game starts at 8PM on ABC, so make sure you are tuned in to this game. I like Oregon 38-34.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

AFC Predictions


Houston Texans (10-6) - JJ fricken Watt.  As if he isn’t a big superstar now, HBO Hardknocks will make him world famous.  He is an incredible athlete who will surely break the single season sack record one year (and the all time record if he stays on this pace).  His workouts are incredible and he sacrifices a social life to be the great player that he is.  We all wish we had a player like that on our teams, one who truly puts the team ahead of himself and finds any way possible to be the best player he can be.  And with the combination of a healthy Jadeveon Clowney, that defensive line could be filthy.  The Texans desperately need to find out who their starting quarterback is though.  It is impossible to go anywhere in this league with an average player under center, especially when your star running back keeps going down with injuries.   Brian Hoyer has looked pretty decent this year and DeAndre Hopkins has looked fantastic.  Time for Bill O’ Brien to step up his offensive genius and find ways to utilize Hopkins.  JJ Watt just might find a way to carry all of Houston into the playoffs.

Indianapolis Colts (12-4) - When you have a quarterback that is of the caliber as Andrew Luck, every year is Super Bowl or bust.  Last year Luck proved that he is the best young quarterback and will be mainstay for years to come and with the signings of Frank Gore and Andre Johnson, the Colts got older but they gained a veteran presence.  The run defense needs to improve still.  Through 19 games last year they gave up at least 100 rushing yards 12 times, including 423 yards in the two games against the Patriots.  And in the AFC, the road to the Super Bowl goes through New England so Chuck Pagano has to get back to his Baltimore defensive roots and shut down opposing offenses.  But watching the speedster duo of TY Hilton and Philip Dorsett will be an exciting one to watch.

Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8) - I am beyond tired about hearing how this team has “potential” and that they are a young team and still need time.  A fan can only take so much losing before they become beyond irritated.  I want the playoffs and even though I know that is still a year away, I would be beyond ecstatic if they finish .500 this year.  Led by second year players like Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson, the Jaguars offense might put up enough points and TJ Yeldon might help them stay on the field long enough to help out the defense and start to look like a successful team.  The young team already lost first round pick Dante Fowler for the year but they still have Yeldon, safety James Sample, guard AJ Cann, and defensive tackle Michael Bennett.  The defense needs to be better this year too.  The sacks are starting to get there (45 last year) but oddly enough the turnovers haven’t bounced their way yet (6 interceptions).  Telvin Smith is a young rising star linebacker who could be that difference maker and playmaker, much like the Jaguars are hoping Julius Thomas will be on offense.  Time to step up Jags!

Tennessee Titans (3-13) - The Titans are a few years away from being a playoff team.  Ken Wisenhunt is a decent coach who rode Kurt Warner to the Super Bowl but his career win loss record is 47 and 65.  Average numbers just like Jeff Fisher, but if he be that quarterback whisperer which he is proclaimed to be, then maybe he can help Marcus Mariota transition into this league with ease, lord knows Tennessee needs help.  So far through preseason Mariota has looked like a legit quarterback, but that is expected because if you don’t look good throughout training camp something is horribly wrong.  I expect them to be in contention for the first round pick again this year.

Baltimore Ravens (10-6) – This will be an interesting year for the Ravens.  They came within an incredible play last year of beating the Patriots and going to the AFC Championship game against the Colts.  Their biggest addition this year was hiring offensive mastermind Marc Trestman as offensive coordinator.  Joe Flacco is going to be airing the ball out a lot and Steve Smith Sr. could have a hell of a year but the development of rookie offensive weapons Breshad Perriman and Maxx Williams will be a big factor.  Rookie tight ends never come out of the gate firing on all cylinders but wide receivers can make an instant impact, either way Flacco needs one of them to come up big.  The defensive side of the ball still has Terrell Suggs and last year rookie sensation CJ Mosley.  The Ravens are once again a solid team that will really make their noise in the playoffs.

Cincinnati Bengals (9-7) – Another year, another season with Andy Dalton and that can only mean one thing: first round knockout in the playoffs.  All kidding aside, once again this team will only go as far as Andy Dalton can take them.  Having two great running backs like Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard helps take the pressure off Dalton as well as having a monster receiver like AJ Green.  Then getting back a healthy Tyler Eifert and Marvin Jones and adding a tight end/ receiver hybrid like Tyler Kroft, there are no excuses now.  The skill players are there, it’s a matter of Dalton and linebacker Vontaze Burfict overachieving and using their weapons around them to create plays.  But barring something unforeseen they just don’t have that special magic to make them an actual contender.  I think the Bengals will just miss out on the playoffs this year.

Cleveland Browns (7-9) – The Browns are in an impossible division again this year.  The other three teams all have a shot at making the playoffs and Browns fans are awaiting their quarterback savior.  Too bad their quarterback Jesus is not on this team as Josh McCown is the stopgap player and Johnny Manziel is not a professional quarterback.  The Browns defense will keep them in many games this year but it will be a tough feat to overcome if the running back tandem of Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West don’t average 150 yards rushing a game.  Sorry Browns fans.

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5) – I expect big things from the Steelers this season but unlike most years, the offense will be leading the charge.  We have become so numb to the way things are that we expect the Steelers to have a great defense and then to run the ball, but the defense will be mostly unproven this year.  Longtime Steeler greats Troy Polamalu and Brett Keisel retired so it’s a good thing that Le’Veon Bell and Ben Roethlisberger are still around to lead this highflying, quick paced offense.  Bell will be the best running back in the league again this year and Antonio Brown and Big Ben will tandem up and combine for at least 1700 receiving yards.  This team is definitely a Super Bowl contender.

Buffalo Bills (8-8) – If there is one thing that Rex Ryan is great at, it’s being a marketing genius.  Whether it be by his words or just because he is an enthralling figure, his teams are fun to watch.  That grind it out style of play complimented by a great defense is an old fashioned but effective way of playing.  Now with Tyrod Taylor beating out Matt Cassel and the inept EJ Manuel this could be an interesting team to watch.  I feel as though they will play a run and gun kind of offense using a hopefully healthy LeSean McCoy.  Rex will have that defense ready to play but I think they will need another year if they aim to be in contention to make the playoffs.

Miami Dolphins (10-6) – I am a huge proponent of Ryan Tannehill this year.  After improving the past few years, the former Texas A&M quarterback is ready to take the next step to become one of the best quarterbacks in the league.  Jarvis Landry is an impressive wide receiver and Devante Parker could be a stud, when healthy.  I look for the Dolphins to make some big strides with Ndamukong Suh, Reshad Jones, Cameron Wake, and others playing at a high level on defense and the offense putting up an impressive amount of points once they figure out the situation at running back (but that may be a good situation to have with Lamar Miller and Jay Ajayi).

New England Patriots (11-5) – Insert Deflategate joke and we are off.  Tom brady is back and is pissed off.  He beat the unbeatable and now he ahs motivation to come back and crush anybody in his path.  After Legarrette Blount’s one game suspension is done I expect him to be a bell cow and receiver plenty of carries.  This defense should be better this year than it was last year especially with all of those high contract “superstar” players gone.  This year, the defense is full of non-selfish players who fit the Belichick mold.  Chandler Jones could wind up with 13 sacks while the combination of Jamie Collins, Jerod Mayo, and Don’t’a Hightower might be one of the best linebacker groups in the league.  Having a stout defensive line and sure tackling linebackers will allow the former Rutgers defensive backs, Devin McCourty and Logan Ryan, and Patrick Chung and Malcolm Butler to fly around and make plays.  This team, along with a fired up Tom Brady could be looking at a repeat.

New York Jets (5-11) – What started off as a promising off-season has turned ugly and sad.  First, one of the most dominant players in the league in Sheldon Richardson performed a heinous act of racing at 143 mph while stoned out of his mind with a loaded pistol AND a 12 year old kid in the car.  If Adrian Peterson got suspended a whole year for disciplining his child in public, I can’t imagine what kind of hell Roger Goodell will rain down.  Then Geno Smith decided not to pay back one of his teammates $600 so he then got Rocky’d in the face and wound up with a broken jaw.  This leaves Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw to an upgraded receiving core but will that be enough for newcomer head coach Todd Bowles?  With the Dolphins and Bills getting better and Tom Brady still around, the Jets need some stability at quarterback if they ever aim to compete in the AFC East.  

Denver Broncos (11-5) – Call me old school but I really hope Peyton Manning wakes up and realizes something; he NEEDS a running game.  Now that the Broncos have a good core of running backs, they can actually pull a move out of John Elway’s career playbook and run a balanced attack.  Elway did this in the latter years of his career.  Use the run, with Terrell Davis, to set up the pass and then throw deep to players like Rod Smith and Shannon Sharpe (too bad Julius Thomas is gone or the comparisons could be eerily similar with CJ Anderson and Demaryius Thomas).  Run the ball with CJ Anderson and this team could definitely wind up in the AFC Championship Game.  That offensive line needs to find a way to gel together and keep Peyton upright while opening up holes for Anderson to run.  I expect Von Miller to have a big season, racking up about 15 sacks, with Demarcus Ware adding in another 11.  Will this be enough for Peyton to reach his Holy Grail again?

Kansas City Chiefs (8-8) – Some “experts” are high on the Chiefs this year.  I honestly can’t see why.  Alex Smith still cannot throw the ball and while they added Jeremy Maclin, he and Smith cannot connect on deep balls.  Jamaal Charles is another year older and still only 28 years old; he has a lot of miles on those legs.  The one player I am rooting for is Eric Berry.  One of my favorite players coming out of the University of Tennessee, Berry has beat out Hodgkin’s lymphoma and is ready to return to play.  Two years removed from micro fracture knee surgery, Travis Kelce is ready for his coming out party.  While Smith can’t throw the deep ball, he can throw those intermediate outs and flat routes like a champ.  The Kansas City defense looks to build on from last year.  Yes the pass defense was phenomenal last year, 2nd in the NFL with 203 yards per game allowed, did not allow a 300 yard passer once, and allowed 17.6 points per game last season.  All this while facing Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, and Ryan Tannehill.  If only they had a legit signal caller, then maybe they could make a push in the playoffs.  Enjoy being mediocre another year.

Oakland Raiders (5-11) – This once great franchise has fallen so far.  At least when Al Davis was alive they were winning games until his later years.  Derek Carr has breathed a little bit of fresh air into this lackluster franchise.  They seem to have a somewhat competent quarterback for the first time since Rich Gannon was around and they even helped him out by giving him a receiver who I think could have a pro bowl year as a rookie in Amari Cooper.  Cooper torched Patrick Peterson when he dropped his hips and came back on a comeback route.  He ran the route as good as a pro who has been in the league for years.  While his numbers didn’t quite show the body of work, Khalil Mack is going to be a star in this league.  They have a good mix of young players and seasoned veterans so I believe this team is on the upswing.  The wins and loss record may not be there yet, but they are on their way.

San Diego Chargers (9-7) – While supporting a team that has constantly been talked about moving elsewhere (Jaguars), it is frustrating, annoying, and just plain sad.  So could this be the Chargers last year in San Diego?  It seems like the arrow is pointed in that direction.  This could be a big enough distraction to affect the Chargers this year in their quest to make the playoffs.  As long as Melvin Gordon can pick up the offense fast enough, he could have a very strong second half of the year.  Melvin Ingram has looked fast around the edge on defense and the secondary looks to be a strong bunch again led by Eric Weddle.  I believe this season comes down to the Chargers grinding out some wins against teams and to have Keenan Allen re establish his connection with Philip Rivers.  This will allow the ground game to prevail and keep Rivers upright and healthy.  I think the Chargers just miss out on the playoffs and then move to Los Angeles.