NFL Week 4 Predictions

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The mighty have fallen, but who will rise again? After 9 undefeated teams lost last week, only the Falcons and the Chiefs remain. Of the 5 winless teams, we know at least one of them has to get a win… who will it be? I’m putting my 23-9 record on the line as I tell you exactly how everything will play out. Let’s take a look at who’s going to win in Week 4 of the NFL.

Bears at Packers

The Packers are already playing their 3rd home game, and it comes on the heels of a big overtime win. However, the Bears march into Lambeau after an overtime win of their own that gave them their first win. Both teams are riding high, but only one can stay on top. How long can the Bears’ raucous defense keep up with Aaron Rodgers? Not long enough. Packers win 28-17.

Saints vs. Dolphins (in London)

Wembley Stadium is hosting the NFL for the second week in a row, and this one has to be a more competitive game than the drubbing the Jaguars gave the Ravens. The Saints finally found some offense against the Panthers last week, and they’ll try to keep those pistons hot. Meanwhile, the Dolphins really struggled to get anything going against the Jets. Luckily for them, the Saints’ defense is as bad as it gets right now. I expect the trend to continue across the pond, but Saints win 35-27.

Bills at Falcons

Buffalo is coming off an enormous win against Denver as they head south to try to knock off another team from the ranks of the undefeated. Unfortunately for them, Denver’s strength is in the defense which really helped the Bills. Atlanta can score at will which is something Buffalo simply cannot keep up with. Falcons win 34-21.

Bengals at Browns

After the Browns fell short in last Sunday’s Game of the Weak, they have a chance at redemption this weekend. Deshone Kizer is playing his heart out, but he’s not getting any help from his receivers. All of the drops are a huge issue, and I imagine the ruthless Bengals defense will really beat up anyone Cleveland sends downfield. Bengals win 13-10.

Steelers at Ravens

You’ve gotta love when these two teams square off. This game might be one for the ages as both the Steelers and the Ravens suffered embarrassing first losses, and they have got to be furious. They already bring a ton of physicality and hate to the field, so with the added anger, the stadium could crumble. Set your DVRs. Ravens win 20-17.

 

Rams at Cowboys

The Cowboys have struggled a bit as of late, but they hit their stride in the 4th quarter on Monday night. The Rams put up 41 points on Sunday and got the W, however, their D gave up a whopping 39 points to the lowly 49ers, which will be no match for the Cowboys’ firepower. Also, I think Jason Garrett will be keen on locking down Todd Gurley and really limiting L.A.’s options. Cowboys win 41-17.

Lions at Vikings

Even with Sam Bradford still out with a nagging knee injury, the Vikings have hope. Case Keenum’s really good performance against the Bucs last week sets up his team to steal another from Detroit. Unfortunately, Matthew Stafford and the Lions are coming off a heartbreaking loss and want nothing more than to knock off their division rival to stay in first place. This should be a good one. Lions win 23-14.

Panthers at Patriots

Tom Brady is the hottest player in the NFL right now, and the Pats are hungry for another win, this time against Carolina. While the Panthers were 2-0 to start the season, they just got smoked by the Saints, and this Sunday should be no different. While the Panthers might have a nice day running, it’s nothing close to what New England can do on offense. Patriots win 31-20.

 

Jaguars at Jets

Well, somehow the Jets got a win, but I don’t think that momentum will last long. They definitely have a chance against a shaky Blake Bortles team, but after the way he performed against the stout Ravens defense, I wouldn’t count on it. I’d say I’m surprised that Jacksonville could be 3-1, but they have a really favorable schedule. It’s good to see them take advantage. Jaguars win 21-13.

Titans at Texans

This game is relatively crucial. Deshaun Watson is solidifying himself as Houston’s franchise quarterback, but he’s not getting wins yet. Now he’s up against the division favorite in what should be another shootout. I love Watson more than the next guy, but I’m just not sure he can win that type of game in the NFL without some defense. Titans win 30-21.

49ers at Cardinals

The 49ers are still searching for their first win, and they might have to keep searching. The Cardinals’ woes are of no fault to the defense. Carson Palmer is doing his best in David Johnson’s absence, but it’s just not good enough. Luckily for him, Arizona has no excuse not to have a field day against San Francisco. Cardinals win 28-14.

Eagles at Chargers

The Chargers also need their first win, and here’s a great chance to get it in Los Angeles. The Eagles narrowly slipped past the Giants, so I’m still unimpressed. But the Chargers always seem to lose the close game, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Eagles steal another one. I’m counting on you, Philip Rivers. Chargers win 20-13.

Giants at Buccaneers

Even though the Giants’ season is over, they still have 13 more games to play. It won’t get much easier than it was playing the Eagles as they travel to sunny Tampa Bay. The Bucs just got whooped by the Vikings despite Jameis Winston’s performance. If New York stops the Bucs’ run game like the Vikings did, maybe they’ll get a similar result… but I don’t see it happening. Buccaneers win 24-21.

 

Raiders at Broncos

This one should be fun. If the Raiders thought the Redskins’ D was tough… wait until they see the Broncos’. I would be a lot more excited about this game if both teams hadn’t just lost to inferior opponents, but maybe they’ll come in angry like I expect in the Steelers and the Ravens matchup. No matter what, I’m looking forward to seeing who’s going to step up on both sides of the ball. Broncos win 26-20 (OT).

Colts at Seahawks

Indianapolis didn’t dominate the way they should have against the Browns. Cleveland is better than expected, but even without Andrew Luck the Colts have been very disappointing this year. Until he returns, Indy is just going to have to stay afloat. Seattle has a division title to go after. Seahawks win 27-21.

Redskins at Chiefs

I’m still in shock from the Redskins’ performance last Sunday. The offense definitely won’t be as productive against Kansas City, but can their defense be? Honestly, there’s no reason to think they can’t…but why? The Raiders’ high-powered offense is far superior to the ‘Skins secondary, and yet they barely got 150 total yards. I guess I’m just going out on a limb and saying the Redskins can’t do that twice. Chiefs win 31-14.

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NFL Week 3 Reactions

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I wasn’t the only one who took a hit last week. A ton of upsets and a multitude of shifted expectations resulted in my respectable 9-7 prediction record. While a lot of national headlines may not be focusing on the actual football games from Sunday, I will keep you updated on the action. Let’s take a look at what happened in Week 3 of the NFL.

 

Rams dispatch 49ers 41-39

I was probably not alone in underestimating this game. While I knew Todd Gurley was going to explode against San Francisco, I really didn’t think the 49ers would score more than 3 times. Gurley’s 3 touchdowns paced the Rams, but rookie QB Jared Goff did his part in tossing 3 TDs of his own. Besides the sheer lack of defense, the biggest detriment to L.A.’s success was fumbles. I expect them to have a good week of practice focusing on ball security.

It’s a tough-luck loss for the 49ers. Not only did they score their first touchdown, they scored five of them. Carlos Hyde was only slightly less impressive than Gurley, and Kevin Hoyer inexplicably carved up the Rams’ defense. My man Kyle Shanahan might have just had a lucky week against an overrated Rams team, or maybe I’ve been overlooking these two teams from the NFC West. Week 4 will help to address these questions.

Jaguars declaw Ravens 44-7

When I woke up on Sunday morning to see the Jags had knocked off the Ravens, I nearly had to pinch myself. How did the lowly Jaguars, whose offense has struggled mightily for years, overcome the top defense in the league so far this year? Well, it was a team effort. Blake Bortles threw 4 touchdowns and 0 INTs. Leonard Fournette got it done on the ground again, and the Jacksonville defense picked off Joe Flacco twice. What an effort across the pond.

And what an atrocious display by Baltimore!  Joe Flacco backed up his 2 interceptions with just 28 yards in the air. Twenty.  Eight.  Bortles got more than that on his second play from scrimmage alone. Luckily, the Ravens’ running backs were relatively productive with 134 yards to try and even out the “elite” Flacco’s 0.5 QBR and 12 passer rating. The Ravens will fly home to welcome the Steelers after an embarrassing showing in London.

 

Bills beat Broncos 26-16

If you would’ve told me that the Bills would beat the Broncos the way Denver is playing right now, I’d have been hard pressed to agree with you. If you would’ve said they’d do it with LeSean McCoy only rushing for 21 yards, I would’ve bet you (and lost) a great deal of money on it.  

Nevertheless, Buffalo is 2-1 thanks in most part to their defense. While the Broncos picked up their yardage, Trevor Siemian threw two costly interceptions, and the Bills D kept Denver out of the end zone. It’s okay to settle for 3 points sometimes, but in this case it just wasn’t enough. Great win for Buffalo.

 

Falcons soar past Lions 30-26

In a back and forth game that came down to the final play, the Falcons survived by a matter of inches. Matt Ryan had another good day despite having 3 interceptions. He found his #1 receiver Julio Jones 7 times for 91 yards en route to almost 300 for Ryan through the air. Devonta Freeman was equally excellent on the ground by surpassing the 100-yard mark and punching in a 1-yard touchdown. It was another potent offensive attack for Atlanta, and they needed every bit of it.

The Lions did enough to win most games, but Atlanta is a different beast. Any time you win the turnover margin by 3 (with a pick-6), you’re probably expected to come away with a W. However, thanks to an overturned call on the last play of the game, the Lions literally fell just short. They’ll hope to knock off their division rival Vikings next week and hang on to first place in the NFC North.

 

Colts stomp Browns 31-28

This game probably shouldn’t have been this close. The Browns had a similar comeback to that of Week 1 against the Steelers, but again came up just 3 points short. Deshone Kizer bounced back from a tough game against the Ravens with some nice 2-minute drill plays, but still threw 3 interceptions and a lot of dropped passes. The latter may not have been his fault, but it’s going to have to be something he’s aware of. Also, guess who led the team in rushing? It wasn’t the running back…

The Colts were just good enough to move to 1-2. Jacoby Brissett and T.Y. Hilton developed some serious chemistry by connecting for 153 yards and a score. With Hilton becoming a factor again, the Colts can get back in the picture. Just like OBJ and the Giants, Hilton needs to be a threat simply to spread the defense and let the young Brissett find the holes. It’s also helpful to note that he’s got some wheels too. A couple rushing touchdowns for him is never a bad day.

 

Bears stun Steelers 23-17 (OT)

In what everyone except Chicago fans thought was going to be an easy win for Pittsburgh, the Bears showed some muscle. I knew it was going to be close, but like the Falcons game in Week 1, I didn’t really think the Bears could last the whole game. Their impressive defense held one of the best offenses in the country to just 17 points, among the league’s lowest scoring teams in Week 3.  

While Mike Glennon was ineffective, the running game shredded the Steelers’ strong defensive line for 220 yards, which of course, includes the 4 plays, 4 rushes, and 74 yards on the drive to win in overtime. It was a bad day all around for the Steelers. Maybe they would’ve been better off just staying in the locker room…

 

Vikings sink Buccaneers 34-17

The battle of the seas went the Vikings’ way. Case Keenum was phenomenal in the absence of Sam Bradford. With an extra week of first team practice, Keenum raided Tampa Bay for 369 yards and 3 touchdowns. He accumulated his 142.1 passer rating with the help of Stefon Diggs’ 173 yards and 2 scores. This guy’s talent is undeniable, and I can’t wait to see what else he’s got for us as the season goes on.

The Bucs didn’t play badly, they just sort of ran into a buzzsaw. Jameis Winston notched 328 yards of his own, but 3 picks make it very hard to get the job done. I would say never, but I guess the Falcons can do it. The running game is definitely suffering without Doug Martin, as Jacquizz Rodgers’ 15 yards on the ground is exceedingly low. When Martin returns, this offense can become as dangerous as any, but until then, every play is an obvious passing situation, and opponents shouldn’t have a problem figuring out that game plan.

 

Patriots surpass Texans 36-33

Tom Brady is unbelievable. Those who questioned him after being shut down in Week 1 have to be eating their words. After a nearly-perfect performance last week, he basically single-handedly beat the Texans on Sunday. His 378 yards and 5 touchdowns were good enough for another nearly-perfect 146.2 passer rating. Mike Gillislee was the leading rusher with only 31 yards, so it was all Brady as he mounts the game-long comeback to fight past the Texans.

Yeah, Houston is the latest team to fall victim to Brady’s magic. Deshaun Watson was having himself a day with 300 yards and a couple scores, while the Texans combined for 125 yards on the ground. Somehow, it still wasn’t enough. Now Houston needs to regroup, work on their cornerback coverage, and try not to let this affect them in Week 4. The Titans are waiting for a crucial division battle.

 

Jets fly by Dolphins 20-6

If not for one play, I bet the Dolphins would’ve won this game. After a promising 10-play drive in the first quarter, Chandler Catanzaro missed a field goal attempt. Business as usual. He made his next one, and then a 69-yard touchdown to Robby Anderson right before halftime put New York up 10-0 in the locker room. With momentum, they sandwiched the break with another touchdown, and the game was out of reach.

Besides giving up the big play, Miami wasn’t that bad. However, it took them all 60 minutes to finally get in the end zone, and that’s definitely not good…especially against the Jets.  With 250 yards of total offense, it just doesn’t get it done at this level. It doesn’t matter who you play, they’re all professionals… even the Jets.

 

Eagles boot Giants 27-24

I’m pretty jealous of anyone who got to see this 4th quarter go down. The Giants and the Eagles combined for 37 points in the last frame, and it all came down to an incredible 61-yard field goal by the rookie kicker Jake Elliott to end it. The Giants made a serious surge by scoring 21 unanswered points on 3 touchdown passes to Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard, but their porous defense couldn’t hold the lead for more than 92 seconds as it became a late field goal battle.  

I’m standing by my previous statements about the Giants. Despite a valiant late effort, I’m afraid their season is effectively over. It took over 45 minutes for the stacked receiving core to get on the board, and even after taking the lead with only a couple minutes left, they still gave up two scoring drives to lose. Inexcusable. Until next year, New York.

 

Saints defeat Panthers 34-13

The winless beats the undefeated. I’d like to say I told you so, but the rest of my record wasn’t that great. In any case, the Saints dominated every aspect of the game. Drew Brees got three touchdowns to 3 different receivers, and the defense picked off Cam Newton 3 times. Even the Panthers’ strong run game was out-played by the Saints’ trio.  The Panthers defense had only allowed 2 field goals coming into this game, and they were shelled by a real offense.

Next week, they match up against the Patriots for what might be a duplicate performance. New Orleans is hanging in there while the Panthers are trending in the wrong direction as they show that they are not as strong as they seemed when they were 2-0. I mean, wins against the 49ers and Bills? C’mon.

 

Titans smash Seahawks 33-27

Russell Wilson finally came to play with 373 yards and 4 touchdown passes. However, it was all the Seahawks would muster and their defense was simply not good enough for the Titans’ diverse offense. Luckily, after some defensive struggles, it’s a shootout like this that can help the Seahawks in the long run.

It was a very balanced performance from the Titans. Marcus Mariota followed the Week 3 formula of 225+ yards and a couple touchdowns, while DeMarco Murray bounced back from a disappointing Week 2. These two and Derrick Henry combined for 196 yards on the ground which really kept Seattle on their heels and put Tennessee in position for the win. On to the Texans.

 

Packers close out Bengals 27-24 (OT)

Would you believe that this was Aaron Rodgers’ first overtime win of his career? Before the Packers cut it way too close with Cincinnati, Rodgers was 0-7 in games lasting longer than 60 minutes. Now, his 313 yards and 3 touchdowns was met with only 35 from starting running back Ty Montgomery. The problem with the Packers has always been their one-dimensional offense and bad defense. Aaron Rodgers can’t do it all by himself, but it was enough for today.

The bright side for the Bengals, beyond nearly stealing one in Lambeau, is the fact that they finally got a touchdown! Yay! Joe Mixon took the majority of carries for 62 yards which was interesting as he had been sharing time with Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. Maybe this sense of stability will help the Bengals find the win column when they travel to Cleveland next week.

 

Chiefs chop Chargers 24-10

The Chargers had 20 more plays than the Chiefs, but Kansas City made the most of their more limited opportunities. Alex Smith was lackluster, but Kareem Hunt more than made up for it. The phenom picked up 172 yards and a touchdown against an above-average run defense. With the work L.A. gets against Melvin Gordon in practice, I’m a little surprised they surrendered so many yards to a player with a similar skill set. Nonetheless, it’s clear who the better team was.

So what do the Chargers do now? At 0-3, they’re in a serious hole behind three of the best teams in the AFC. Unfortunately, like the Giants, they really do have a decent team, but this year isn’t for them. The hill is too steep to climb already, and since they’ve already lost twice in their division, it’s hard to imagine them storming back. Until next year, Los Angeles.

 

Redskins roast Raiders 27-10

One hundred fifty yards of total offense. Eighteen yards by their lead rusher. Two  interceptions and a 3.5 QBR by their quarterback. Yeah, I’m not talking about the Redskins. Somehow, someway, D.C. destroyed the Raiders. Kirk Cousins lit it up with 365 yards and 3 touchdowns to 3 different position players. Even Josh Doctson made an impact for Washington. There’s nothing to say except it was complete and utter domination.  

The Raiders are probably still scratching their heads. Derek Carr couldn’t get anything done against the Redskins’ secondary. While Cousins kept finding the end zone, the once-highest paid player in the NFL kept finding the wrong jersey. Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper missed the flight to D.C. or something, and Marshawn Lynch would’ve been better off staying in Oakland too. What an ugly performance right before a huge divisional tilt against the Broncos.

 

Cowboys corral Cardinals 28-17

It was a great Monday night duel until the Cowboys were finally able to pull away. Dak Prescott played way better than his stat line by avoiding sacks and making impossible throws downfield when Dallas needed him most. Ezekiel Elliott seemed lazy for the first half, raising the question of his lack of effort. However, as the game wore on, Elliott found his rhythm and was too tough for the Cardinals defense to stop. His 8-yard run with just 5 minutes remaining put this game out of reach.

Carson Palmer has been under fire after his first two games ended up far below expectations. He was a lot better on Monday as he threw for 325 yards and two touchdowns. It goes to show that if your mechanics are there, the stats will come. Larry Fitzgerald was also excellent by catching nearly everything thrown his way as usual, picking up 149 yards and a score on 13 receptions. It was a good game for Arizona, and they should be able to bounce back against the 49ers next week.

NFL Week 3 Predictions

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Two weeks down, 15 to go… here comes a crazy Week 3. With injuries already shaking up the standings, it’s time to see who has the strength to overcome adversity, and who will crumble. I’m among the hot starts this season as I carry my 14-2 record into this weekend. For those of you who can’t wait until Sunday to see the winners, let’s take a look at what’s going to happen in Week 3 of the NFL.

 

Rams at 49ers

Another doozy to start us off. Two teams who will wind up towards the bottom of the NFL square off in what might be a sloppy affair. The 49ers have yet to find the end zone, and while that might change on Thursday night, Todd Gurley is going to explode on a really bad San Francisco rushing defense. Rams win 27-10.

 

Ravens vs. Jaguars (in London)

Make sure you set your fantasy lineups on Saturday night unless you plan to wake up before 9:30 AM EST. Then again, if you have a Raven or a Jaguar besides Leonard Fournette on your team, you might be doing something wrong. Baltimore and Jacksonville go across the pond after two good starts, and this will be a fun way to kick off Sunday afternoon. Ravens win 23-20 (OT).

Broncos at Bills

The Broncos are one of the top teams in the NFL right now while the Bills are trending in the other direction. Denver is leaving the “friendly confines” of Mile-High Stadium for the first time this season, but they shouldn’t have much trouble dispatching Buffalo. I expect their stout defense to target and frustrate LeSean McCoy while Trevor Siemian builds off his solid campaign so far. Broncos win 31-6.

Falcons at Lions

Consider yourself lucky if this game falls in your region. Something’s gotta give when two of the best offenses in the league battle for a 3-0 record. Matt Ryan has his offense in postseason form, while Matthew Stafford is earning every dollar of his contract. Falcons win 34-24.

Browns at Colts

Consider yourself unlucky if this game falls in your region. The Browns are off to their usual start, but they have a chance to get their first win against a struggling, Andrew Luck-less Colts. With that said, Jacoby Brissett also has a chance to salvage a win against one of the easier opponents in the league. Who will prevail in the Game of the Weak? Colts win 17-10.

 

Steelers at Bears

Pittsburgh may be 2-0, but they haven’t been scoring like we’re used to seeing. It was a close Week 1 win against the Browns, and a defense-dominated Week 2 win against the Case Keenum-led Vikings. Now they face one of the better 0-2 teams in the league who (I will not forget) played very well against the Falcons. It might be a close one, but Steelers win 24-14.

 

Buccaneers at Vikings

If Sam Bradford is good to go for Minnesota, this should be a good one. The Vikings offense looks really good when they get out in space, and Bradford has proven he can give his receivers that opportunity. With that threat, Dalvin Cook becomes very dangerous out of the backfield. However, equally dangerous is Jameis Winston’s cannon and his multitude of red zone targets. This should be fun. Buccaneers win 28-10

Texans at Patriots

We’ve seen the two sides of New England, so who will show up to Gillette Stadium on Sunday? The Texans’ defense has been better, so I’m going with last week’s Pats. Tom Brady is going to light up the scoreboard again, and even if Deshaun Watson has a good game for Houston, I can’t see them outplaying New England. Patriots win 38-13.

Dolphins at Jets

I was less than impressed with the Dolphins’ opening day win, while the Jets are meeting my expectations. Take that with a grain of salt; I expect the Jets to finish in last place. So here is a chance for Jay Cutler to build some more chemistry with his teammates as they ride out what could be a difficult year without Ryan Tannenhill. But Cutler is no slouch, and despite a probable 2 losses to the Patriots later this season, Miami has realistic Wild Card expectations. Dolphins win 27-16.

Giants at Eagles

This is a pretty big game for New York early on in the season. After an uninspired 0-2 start, a duel with their division rivals in Philly becomes crucial. The Giants are at full strength, and if they can’t win against what I think to be the weakest team in the NFC East, there isn’t much hope of success in 2017. Lincoln Financial Field is a raucous environment, and the veteran Eli Manning might just get flustered and spoil the talents of the great receivers he’s been given. Maybe it’s just me hoping New York’s season doesn’t end here, but Giants win 21-17.

Saints at Panthers

This game is equally crucial for New Orleans. Already 2 games behind an average Panthers team, the Saints’ stacked offense hasn’t found its rhythm…and it’s running out of time. They have a chance against an exploitable Carolina defense, but don’t expect Cam Newton and Co. to slow down against a wide open Saints secondary. It was a poor showing for the trio of Newton, Jonathan Stewart, and Christian McCaffrey against a bad Bills defense last week, but they can get back on their horses on Sunday. Nevertheless, Saints win 24-22.

Seahawks at Titans

After Week 1 losses, the Seahawks and the Titans bounced back into a tie for their respective division’s lead last week. Now only one can remain on top. Russell Wilson hasn’t been himself since his crushing defeat in Super Bowl XLIX. I’m sorry, but a 12-9 win over the 49ers doesn’t do it for me. I’m a believer in Tennessee this year. Titans win 17-14.

 

Bengals at Packers

The Bengals have been just horrible so far. After being shut out in Week 1, Cinci still couldn’t manage a touchdown last week. Honestly, I wonder if they will this week. The Packers’ defense still isn’t great, but with only A.J. Green to cover, it should be a blowout in Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers and Ty Montgomery should shred Cincinnati’s D and put this out of reach early. Packers win 41-10.

 

Chiefs at Chargers

Along with the Broncos, the Chiefs are on fire. The AFC West is looking strong on top, and L.A. is going to have to break into the mix in what will probably be a far-from-capacity home crowd. With a loss here, the Chargers are really going to have a tough time finding themselves in the playoff hunt. Hunt. Kareem Hunt has been awesome so far. I’m not sure how long Alex Smith, Tyreek Hill, and Kareem Hunt can keep up their blistering pace, but so far so good. Chiefs win 34-17.

Raiders at Redskins

Oakland hasn’t done anything wrong in 2017. Derek Carr has picked up right where he left off.  After his MVP-caliber, 14-week season last year, he looks to take what could have been his at the end of last season.  It’s going to be extremely rough for the Skins’ secondary to keep up with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, but their big defensive line should at least slow the beast that is Marshawn Lynch. In the end, Oakland is just too much for Washington. Raiders win 37-24.

Cowboys at Cardinals

I really expected these teams to be 2-0 at this point, but nonetheless, they both still lead their divisions. The Cards will pose a really tough matchup for Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. An athletic defense that flies around the field is not something the ‘Boys are used to in the NFC East. But will Carson Palmer shake off his so-so start and take advantage? I don’t know. It’ll be a great back-and-forth game on Monday Night Football. Cowboys win 20-17.

NFL Week 2 Reactions

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Week 2 is in the books, and there are still plenty of storylines floating around the NFL… including my 14-2 record! Although I saw most of the results coming, there were a few surprises, and there are things I’m looking forward to seeing over the course of the season. Let’s take a look at this past week in football.

 

Texans squeak by Bengals 13-9

It was an ugly start to the week as we saw a cringe-worthy 13-9 score between two of the league’s most mediocre teams. Andy Dalton did a fine job of not allowing any turnovers in the contest, which is infinitely better than the 5 he gave up in Week 1. Unfortunately, Cinci is still without a touchdown in 2017, and things won’t get any easier as the team goes to Green Bay. It could be a really tough season for Bengals fans this year.

The Texans didn’t do much better, but rookie QB Deshaun Watson was able to scamper 49-yards for the lone touchdown just before halftime. It was a promising debut for the Clemson star, but nothing too exciting yet. If nothing else, he has assured Houston that he will be the quarterback from here on out, and stability is never a bad thing. This was a good win for the Texans, but I wouldn’t hang my hat on it right now.

 

Steelers thwart Vikings 23-9

Speaking of not allowing a touchdown, the Steel Curtain came down on Minnesota. After scoring at will against the Saints in Week 1, the Vikings struggled on the road in Pittsburgh. Dalvin Cook was relatively shut down with just 44 yards, and the passing game was nearly non-existent without Sam Bradford. I never thought a team could be so dependent on one man, so here’s to wishing Bradford a speedy recovery so the Vikings can get back on track.

The Steelers have got to be happy with how their “weak, poor, and terrible” defense has been playing. Those clearly aren’t my words, as I can’t find many weak spots in their D. They have big men up front who have allowed only 74 yards per game on the ground, and they have a very deep secondary that should get better with every game they play. The problems are penalties and Le’Veon Bell’s production. The Steelers continue to give free yards to their opponents, and Bell hasn’t been himself so far. Look for the Steelers to work on this during their trip to Chicago next Sunday.

 

Ravens too much for Browns 24-10

The Ravens followed their 5-turnover performance against Cincinnati with a 4-spot against Cleveland. The 8 INTs are best in the league and twice as much as those of the 2nd best team in interceptions. I’m not saying Andy Dalton, Deshone Kizer, and Kevin Hogan are expert marksmen by any stretch of the imagination, but that’s still impressive. Now Baltimore has a very real chance to go 3-0 when they go to London this weekend to face the Jaguars.

It only took a fortnight for the Browns to be fighting off the injury bug. Among the numerous players going down were first overall pick Myles Garrett and Deshone Kizer. Cleveland already has an uphill climb to picking up a couple of wins, and the last thing they need is to be less than full strength. Also, either Kizer really did have a serious migraine and needed to sit out longer, or his 3 picks foreshadow his true talent. Just something to keep an eye on…

 

Panthers kick Bills 9-3

The worst ticket on Sunday was undoubtedly in Buffalo. Sixty minutes and exactly 0 touchdowns. Even if you like defensive struggles, I’m sure you were less than impressed with what these teams brought to the field. The Bills were a mess offensively. Tyrod Taylor only threw for 125 yards and was the team’s lead rusher with only 55 yards. The highest-rated fantasy running back, LeSean McCoy, got 12 carries for just 9 yards in a very disappointing performance, but at least he led the team in receiving yards. So if you’re keeping track at home: the quarterback led the Bills in rushing yards and the running back led them in receiving yards. Never a good sign.

The Panthers didn’t do very well either. The trio of Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey, and Jonathan Stewart didn’t shine like I’ve expected them to, so there may be an issue of sharing the spotlight. Just like the Saints, there might be too many cooks in the kitchen which can lead to a train wreck in a stacked NFC South. Luckily, Carolina is 2-0 and they have some luxury to build chemistry before things get too serious. Coincidentally, next up on the docket is New Orleans, so I’m excited to see which offense can finally put it all together.

 

Cardinals comeback over Colts 16-13

Jacoby Brissett started out strong against a stingy Cardinals defense by facilitating a 14-play opening drive that resulted in a touchdown. It appeared that he was the solution at quarterback until Andrew Luck returns, as the energy in Lucas Oil Stadium was immediately elevated after that terrible Week 1 performance. However, as the game went on, it was slow going until finally, midway through the 4th quarter, the wheels came off.

Carson Palmer finally found the end zone for the Cards and cut into the 10-point deficit. A Phil Dawson field goal a few minutes later tied the game, and he had a chance to win the game before OT but missed it wide right. No matter…the Colts immediately threw an interception and Dawson got redemption.

So first it was a crushing loss to the Rams, and then a heartbreaking loss to the Cards. Where does Indy go from here? For Arizona, their post-David Johnson offense looks very weak. They’ll have to turn that around if they want to beat Dallas next Monday night.

Titans smash Jaguars 37-16

Just as I expected, all is right again. The Titans showed their dominance against Jacksonville in what was an offensive show in the second half. With DeMarco Murray sidelined with a tight hamstring, it was a free-for-all at running back. Seven different Titans got carries, but Derrick Henry made the most of his opportunities by rushing for 92 yards and a TD. Even though Marcus Mariota didn’t excel in this one, the Tennessee offense is certainly meeting my expectations.

The Jaguars have to start calling into question the future of Blake Bortles. It took a long time for him to get going on Sunday as his first touchdown pass came after two interceptions and a lot of scoring on the other side of the ball. In garbage time, Leonard Fournette finally found the end zone (which was answered by a Titan touchdown), then Bortles got a touchdown on their final drive of the afternoon. So honestly, the score makes the day look better for the Jaguars than it really was. Bortles is really going to need to improve upon this 10.4 QBR performance or he may be watching the Jaguars lose from the sidelines.

 

Chiefs hunt Eagles 27-20

That is also a pun! Kareem Hunt had another great game in Kansas City. If people were still questioning his value after his game against New England, I think a 109-yard, 2-touchdown performance answers any concerns. Alex Smith kept the ball among 5 receivers, but still threw for a cool 251 yards including 103 to TE Travis Kelce. This offense is definitely clicking, and with their stout defense, the Chiefs are looking really dangerous.

Meanwhile, Carson Wentz got the ball out to 9 different receivers for a very nice 333 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also led the team with 55 rushing yards. Ah, so a quarterback leads the team in rushing again… maybe you’re seeing a trend. It seems like every time the quarterback leads a team in rushing, that team winds up with an L. Now, the Eagles aren’t going to be known for the rushing attack which makes Philly pretty one-dimensional. While the results of this game look promising, I’m still not excited for the Eagles this year.

 

Patriots surpass Saints 36-20

Tom Brady is back, ladies and gentleman. Yes, it was a tough start to the season in New England, but there is no doubting he’s still as elite as ever after what he did in New Orleans. Here we go: 9 receivers, 447 yards, 3 touchdowns, 91.8 QBR, and a nearly perfect 139.6 passer rating. He was simply phenomenal and there was nothing the Saints could do about it. Not that you were, but don’t sleep on the Patriots.

Drew Brees did all that he could do. His 347 yards, 2 TDs, and 0 turnovers is as much as you can expect from your quarterback, but there was no beating the Pats on Sunday. The running game still struggled though. A theme with the Saints will definitely be managing the 3 person committee of running backs and finding ways to get guys hot. I know their egos need those touches, but for the good of the team, Sean Payton might need to pick a side to get a heavier workload.

 

Buccaneers plunder Bears 29-7

I’m not a fan of Mitch Trubisky at all, but it’s time. I can’t remember Mike Glennon ever being all that good, and he isn’t getting better. His 3 total turnovers aren’t helping his team, and while the Bucs will be pretty good this year, it was an ugly showing for Chicago after a really good game against the Falcons. I’m interested to see which of these games was the fluke when the Bears welcome the Steelers next week.

Meanwhile Tampa Bay is 1-0. Jameis Winston had a good game with 204 and a score, but the story was on the ground. The Bucs favored the running game in 52% of plays, which could be a side effect of the lopsided score, but it was odd to take the ball out of their receiving core’s hands. This win was a great start, but I’m expecting better things in the future for this passing attack.

 

Dolphins gifted by Chargers 19-17

Another week, another loss in a close game for the Chargers. I should have known Younghoe Koo was going to miss that game-winning field goal. The Chargers are now 1-9 in the past two seasons in games decided by 7 points or less. I thought they could turn a new leaf in their home debut, but their 4th quarter woes don’t seem like they’re changing soon.

The Dolphins should consider themselves lucky to be 1-0. Jay Ajayi is back to his tricks with a 122-yard performance, but the other three players who got carries only lost yards. While Ajayi is pretty dynamic, it’s concerning to see how much the offense is going to rely on him having big games. Speaking of which, of Jay Cutler’s 24 passes caught, 13 of them were by Jarvis Landry. So there’s the whole offense. That shouldn’t be too hard to stop in the future. Nonetheless, I’m sure Miami will take the win.

 

Raiders ground Jets 45-20

My 42-13 prediction was one of my scores just slightly off, but it got the point across. Michael Crabtree led the massacre with 3 touchdowns and 80 yards on 6 receptions. Derek Carr kept it going for 230 yards and a stellar passer rating of 136.6. Add 180 yards on the ground, and you have an Oakland offense that is going to be incredibly difficult to keep quiet.

Honestly, the Jets weren’t so bad in this game. Josh McCown only threw for 166 yards, but his 2 touchdowns helped him to a 78.5 QBR, just 3.6 less than Carr. They split their play calls 50-50 and got 126 yards on the ground too. I expect more from teams on the contender side of things, but for New York, it was a good day despite the large scoring margin.

 

Redskins rock Rams 27-20

There were some bright and dim spots in an all-around quality game in L.A. The Rams’ Jared Goff mixed the ball around for 224 yards and a touchdown to Todd Gurley…and Gurley was phenomenal. His two touchdowns and 136 all-purpose yards carried the team and was almost enough to get the win. However, it was not to be as the Rams’ defense allowed a score from Kirk Cousins and Ryan Grant with just 1:49 remaining in the game. It could’ve been worse for the Rams, but 2-0 would’ve sounded a lot nicer than 1-1.

It was a similar story for the Skins. Cousins managed the game well but only threw for 179 yards and the late touchdown. The game was won on the ground for sure. Washington’s running backs combined for 222 yards on 36 carries. That’s an impossible pace to keep up, but it certainly gives coach Jay Gruden something to think about moving forward. The last thing the Redskins need is to fall into the mess the Saints have inadvertently created.

 

Broncos stampede Cowboys 42-17

If you weren’t a Bronco Believer (myself included) it might be time to change our tune. Yes, it’s only Week 2, but after a steady performance in Week 1 and the destruction of the reigning NFC #1 seed, the Broncos just might be for real. Nothing seemed to go wrong for Denver. Second-year quarterback Trevor Siemian tossed 4 TDs, and C.J. Anderson gathered 154 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Also, the 2 INTS on defense included a 103-yard return for a touchdown. I’m ready for an encore.

The Cowboys are not. In what might be their toughest loss in the past two years, the team will turn to Ezekiel Elliott. Perhaps with his legal battles looming in his head, his 8 yards rushing was by far the worst of his career. Even Coach Jason Garrett called into question Elliott’s lack of effort. It’s just one loss for what might be a really good team, but when there is already locker room controversy, things might not be better this Monday.

 

Seahawks survive 49ers 12-9

Here we have another field goal battle on the West Coast. It took almost 53 minutes until we saw our first touchdown by what seems to be an uncharacteristically bad Seahawks team. Russell Wilson was supposed to explode against one of the worst defenses in the league, but instead, he couldn’t eclipse 200 yards and only scored a mere game-saving touchdown. If this team is going to be successful, Wilson is going to have to do better. Period. If not, Arizona will gladly take the division and likely home-field advantage in the playoffs.

The 49ers shouldn’t be too proud either. Still without a touchdown in 2017, San Francisco must be getting frustrated. Brian Hoyer couldn’t hit triple digits, and Carlos Hyde actually ran 25 more yards than Hoyer threw. With offensive mastermind Kyle Shanahan at the helm, that’s more than a little embarrassing…especially considering that a single touchdown instead of a field goal would have won this game. It’s back to the drawing board as they welcome the Rams next week.

 

Falcons foil Packers 34-23

The Falcons opened the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium with a solid win to move to 2-0. After a scare in Chicago, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones connected for 108 yards while Devonta Freeman ran for 84 with a couple of touchdowns. This is the kind of 3-dimensional attack they used against Green Bay in last year’s NFC Championship game, and it was just as effective on Sunday night. As long as these three stay in rhythm, the Falcons will be a tough matchup for anyone.

As usual, Aaron Rodgers did all that he could for the Packers. His 343 yards and 2 TDS were just not enough to outscore Atlanta. Ty Montgomery is emerging as a dual-threat feature back that really helps ease some pressure off Rodgers. He was able to get 110 all-purpose yards on 16 touches and 2 TDs of his own. If the Packers become more of a passing threat, we could easily see a rematch of these powerhouses in the playoffs again.

 

Lions squash Giants 24-10

I’ll start with the good… the Lions. Ameer Abdullah ran for a career-high 86 yards and a score on 17 carries which almost beat Matthew Stafford’s 21 pass attempts. It’s fascinating to see Detroit run more than the highest-paid player off all time throws, but with the way New York played, there was no reason to pass. The defense completely shut down Eli Manning by sacking him 5 times and only allowing 301 total yards. Now, they sit 2-0 atop the difficult NFC North.

Oye. The Giants. Listen guys, on third down and long, don’t throw to the check-down receiver every time. It didn’t work the first time… or the second time… or the third time… or the-…you get it. Whether it’s bad play calling, Manning’s poor field vision, or the Lions’ pass rush, New York was terrible in the air. And hey, passing isn’t for every team as I’ve described, but when you have Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall, there is no excuse. It’s probably a must-win Week 3 game in Philly for the last-place Giants who are lucky to only be a game back… for now.

NFL Week 2 Predictions

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It took long enough, but Week 2 is here. Who can sustain success from their Week 1 victories? Who will turn it around? Is it time for anyone to just give up? We’re about to find out. If you want to wait until Sunday, refrain from reading this article. If you want to know every Week 2 winner right now, let’s take a look at what’s going to happen this weekend. You’ve been warned… SPOILER ALERT.

Texans at Bengals

IT’S THURSDAY NIGHT!! GET HYPE FOR THE.. Texans and Bengals… woo. At least we’re getting this one out of the way first. Both teams performed terribly on Sunday. Houston’s QB couldn’t make it past halftime, and the Bengals couldn’t score a single point. The only thing I’m looking forward to is Deshaun Watson’s first start in the NFL. Texans win 21-10.

 

Vikings at Steelers

This is a great matchup. Two physical teams with eyes on the playoffs lock horns in the early going of the season. Vikings rookie Dalvin Cook is coming off a stellar debut, but now he meets the Steel Curtain. The Steeler offense needs to get their legs under them as well. Can the Vikings shut down the Killer Bs just as they did Drew Brees? Yes, but only a little bit. Steelers win 24-20.

 

Browns at Ravens

The Browns are coming off of a good loss against a very physical Pittsburgh team. With their heads held high, they march into Baltimore where the Ravens are coming off the lone shutout victory so far this season. It’ll be very interesting to see if the Browns can continue to churn out offensive production, or if last week’s game was as good as it gets. Ravens win 28-10.

Bills at Panthers

The Bills did what they needed to do against a very poor Jets team. So did the Panthers against the 49ers. I don’t know what either team is made of, but maybe we will find out on Sunday. I love Carolina’s offensive weapons, and I think that will outweigh LeSean McCoy’s unnatural talent. Panthers win 24-13.

Cardinals at Colts

Unlike the game above, Arizona and Indy meet after two disappointing losses. The Colts got smeared by the Rams, and Arizona lost perhaps the best player in the NFL. Without David Johnson for the majority of the season, how will the Cardinals respond? Can the Colts silence the doubters and show that last Sunday was a fluke? Probably not unless Jacoby Brissett gets some more playing time. Cardinals win 23-17.

Titans at Jaguars

Division foes clash with what most would think to be opposite records. My projected AFC South champs enter at 0-1 while my last place team comes home with a convincing Week 1 win. But have no fear, all will be restored by the end of this game. I’m confident that Tennessee knows nothing will come easy, and Marcus Mariota will lead his talented offense against an unsuspecting defense. Titans win 34-14.

Eagles at Chiefs

The Eagles are flying into Kansas City to face one of the most feared crowds in the country. You can bet the Chiefs fans’ spirits are off the charts after an opening game domination of the reigning Super Bowl champions. I don’t expect them to ease off the gas in the slightest, and it’s going to be a long day for the Philly faithful. Chiefs win 38-7.

Patriots at Saints

What was once a dream matchup should still be a pretty good game. The Pats and Saints are going to New Orleans hungry for their first win. New England was embarrassed on their home turf, and I’m sure they’d like to lash out on the Saints’ weak secondary. But New Orleans would love nothing more than to get their deep offense clicking. It’s going to be a shootout. Patriots win 42-34.

Bears at Buccaneers

It’s the Bucs’ season opener, and after an extra week off, Tampa Bay must be chomping at the bit to get back to football. They welcome the Bears who played valiantly against the Falcons last Sunday, but still enter 0-1. Nevertheless, Chicago’s D is fired up to try to stifle Tampa Bay’s receiving core. This game might be close for a while, but don’t get too excited if you’re a Bears fan. I think it will get out of hand in the 2nd half. Buccaneers win 31-16.

Dolphins at Chargers

Now the Dolphins have their season opener. They travel to sunny L.A. for the Chargers’ great debut in the City of Angels. Jay Cutler had an extra week to build chemistry with his new team, and they’re more than ready to get their season underway. But the Chargers are coming off a short week in which they suffered a deflating loss to the Broncos after a blocked field goal ended the game. Who can overcome their respective obstacles? Chargers win 21-20.

Jets at Raiders

This might be a bloodbath. The Raiders just dispatched a serious playoff contender with relative ease, and the Jets were manhandled by a below-average Bills team. Now Oakland hosts their home opener, and it’s going to get ugly. The good news for New York is their big D-Line, but Marshawn Lynch has busted through tougher before. Raiders win 42-13.

Redskins at Rams

The Rams just beat the Colts with their second largest margin of victory in the past 20 years. Now they go back to home in L.A. to try to do it again against Washington. However, though the their offense was stymied by the Eagles, the Redskins have the potential to go off on any team. While the Rams did shut down Scott Tolzien, Kirk Cousins is a different animal. Redskins win 24-14.

Cowboys at Broncos

The Broncos stay home to host the Cowboys after a narrow escape on Monday night. After nearly blowing a 17-point 4th quarter lead, Denver faces an even tougher challenge in Dallas. Thanks to a great defensive performance of their own, the Cowboys didn’t need to do much on offense to get the job done. That will not be the case on Sunday when these teams clash. Cowboys win 17-14.

49ers at Seahawks

Seattle returns home after an underwhelming performance in Green Bay. It took Russell Wilson a long time to get any kind of offense going against a poor defense. Luckily, the 49ers are pretty bad themselves. This is probably a must-win for Seattle against their arch-rivals because if they can’t take this one…they won’t take any. Period. Seahawks win 35-13.

Packers at Falcons

This is the game of the week for sure. Not only is it a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship, but it could be a preview of this year’s playoffs, too. I’m excited to see how the Falcon’s offense responds after being so quiet in Chicago. Furthermore, can Green Bay exact revenge and get a of couple stops this time around? Falcons win 41-31.

 

Lions at Giants

Last Sunday showed that Odell Beckham Jr. needs to be on this Giants roster. I’m not saying it would’ve made a difference against the Cowboys, but he draws so much attention that it can really open doors for Eli Manning. Without him, the Giants’ offense is hardly a threat, and Detroit should have no problem outscoring them on Monday Night. As it stands, Lions win 35-20.

NFL Week 1 Reactions

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Man, it’s great to be back. I didn’t realize how much I missed football until approximately 12:57 PM on Sunday, and Week 1 still has my head spinning. We had some great standouts, some horrible disappointments, and everything in between. So in case you missed any of the action, let’s take a look at what happened in the NFL last weekend.

 

Chiefs defeat Patriots 42-27

There’s no better way to kick off a season than with a shocking upset. Kansas City was heavily bet to lose by at least 8 points, and instead, they nearly doubled the spread in the other direction. The Chiefs’ defense completely shut down Tom Brady and new addition Brandin Cooks. Unlike the Falcons in Super Bowl LI, KC kept the pressure on the veteran QB who never found a rhythm to mount another comeback.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs were pouring it on. New England singled out the Chiefs’ best pass-catcher in Travis Kelce, but QB Alex Smith was just too good. He constantly found a streaking Tyreek Hill, and Kareem Hunt’s unbelievable performance helped Smith sell the play action. The Pats’ D didn’t have any answers, and the Chiefs walked away with a convincing win on the road.

 

Steelers beat Browns 21-18

Pittsburgh fans might have been sweating this one. After an early blocked punt for a quick touchdown, it was more of the same for Cleveland. Rookie QB Deshone Kizer wasn’t even allowed to throw the ball until the 9th play of the game. But by the time things started going, it stayed close. I’m not sure if the Browns’ defense was that good, or if the Steelers’ offense was that bad.

Only allowing 21 points to arguably one of the best offenses in the NFL is the best you could hope for if you’re a Browns fan. This might be a side effect of Le’Veon Bell being punished with less touches due to his preseason holdout, but Pittsburgh definitely cut it close. Nonetheless, the Browns looked sharp and eliminated most of the Steelers’ threats. However, Pittsburgh found some emerging playmakers like T.J. Watt and Jesse James to pull out the W.  It’s a promising debut all around.

 

Eagles handle Redskins 30-17

If you were anxiously waiting to see how RB Samaje Perine would do in the NFL, keep waiting… but maybe not much longer. The Redskins got NOTHING on the ground. Pocket- passer Kirk Cousins got as many yards as the Skins’ lead running back Rob Kelley, despite having 6 less carries. The passing game wasn’t much better as he went 23/40 for just 240 yards leading to a very low 34.8 QBR.

On the other side of the field, Carson Wentz was as good as ever. Nothing flashy, but he managed 307 yards and two early touchdowns. That would be enough, as Philly’s lead was never in any real danger despite a moderate comeback in the second quarter after Ryan Kerrigan’s pick-6. The bottom line is that neither team looked great, but the Eagles got the job done. We’ll see how much success they’ll get against the Chiefs next week.

 

Bills best Jets 21-12

In a game much like the one above, the Bills didn’t need much to beat the Jets. Tyrod Taylor was okay as he facilitated the offense to an early lead on a weak Jets secondary. LeSean McCoy looked as elusive as he’s always been, surpassing the 100-yard plateau and a big Jets front. I just never saw that big play. All three Bills touchdowns were from the 1-yard line, and there aren’t many teams that will let that happen every time.

The Jets’ only touchdown also came from the 1-yard line, and by then it was too late. A failed 2-point conversion or not, New York still let Buffalo run right through them to start the 4th quarter, and that’s all she wrote. In the end, I was less than impressed. It reaffirms that these teams are at the bottom of the barrel in the AFC. But hey, don’t look now… the Bills are in first place over the Patriots!

 

Falcons escape Bears 21-17

What a game for Chicago! If it wasn’t for Atlanta coming up with a sack on a late 4th and goal, the Bears might have just stolen one to start their season. Julio Jones was a non-factor, and the Bears held the Falcons’ running backs to a measly 53 yards. The difference? Tight end Austin Hooper. He only had two catches, but they were HUGE. The first was a pinball 88-yard touchdown catch-and-run, and on the next drive he got the Falcons off the goal line with a 40-yard scamper. The last thing opponents need is for the Falcons to get another weapon.

Oh, but Chicago, you were so close! Tarik Cohen came out of nowhere to get 66 yards on just 5 carries, and Jordan Howard managed 52 on the ground too. Unfortunately, Mike Glennon just didn’t have it in him today. A 32.3 QBR tells the story. The leading receiver for Chicago was Cohen with only 47 yards. Great for him and all, but a passing attack can’t be led by your running back. That speaks for itself. Whatever the case, the Bears had a chance against the reigning NFC Champs, and this was a really, really good loss.

 

Ravens blast Bengals 20-0

The only shutout of the 2017 season openers came at the hands of Baltimore’s defense. An amazing 5-turnover performance boosted the Ravens to an easy win in Cincinnati. Even more astounding…all 5 turnovers slipped out of QB Andy Dalton’s hands. Four picks, a fumble, and just 170 yards later (almost half to one man), Dalton posted the 3rd worst QBR in NFL history… 0.6.

0.6!!!!! You saw how bad Cousins, Glennon, and others did. Their low QBRs were still in the 30s. Dalton posted a 0.6. Unbelievable. What’s funny, the Ravens only needed 268 yards of offense to win on Sunday. That’s also exceedingly low, but when your team pitches a shutout, I guess you don’t need much. A great morale win for the Ravens, but I don’t think it answers any questions about their upcoming season. As for the Bengals…I won’t go there.

 

Lions outlast Cardinals 35-23

Guess what? Another 4th quarter comeback. It’s more of the same for Lions fans as Detroit comes from behind and takes one from the Cardinals. This win is huge because the NFC North is looking really good after Week 1. After a pick-6 to start the game, QB Matthew Stafford rebounded phenomenally with 4 touchdowns and nearly 300 yards. All against a really tough Arizona defense. Stafford is proving he’s worth the biggest contract in NFL history, but can he keep up the pace?

For the Cardinals, the blame probably lies on QB Carson Palmer. The 37-year-old struggled throughout, throwing 3 interceptions and killing any momentum the Cardinal defense could muster. The worst news for Arizona is that star running back and #1 fantasy draft choice David Johnson is looking at 8-12 weeks on IR with a dislocated wrist. There is no quantifying this loss to the Cardinals as they try to get their first win and fight through what could be a very difficult season.

 

Jaguars maul Texans 29-7

It’s been an emotional week for Houston, and while a win on Sunday would have been nice… it was not to be. Tom Savage started for the Texans and he was just awful. So awful that rookie Deshaun Watson was thrown into the fire after halftime. While not stellar, Watson did account for the sole scoring drive in the game for the Texans by completing a 4-yard pass to DeAndre Hopkins. The jury is still out on the Texans’ franchise QB.

As for the Jags, the defense came to play. It took until nearly 2 minutes to go in the half before Jacksonville got on the board, but after Leonard Fournette’s touchdown, Dante Fowler scooped up a fumble and scored to put the Jaguars up 19-0. Watson would later throw another pick and fumble it himself to give Jacksonville a total of 4 turnovers on the day. Despite Fournette gathering almost as many yards as his quarterback, the Texans were bad enough that it didn’t matter. Jags are 1-0.

 

Raiders quiet Titans 26-16

Beast Mode returns! Marshawn Lynch is back in the NFL and unlike his press conferences, it wasn’t silent. He gathered 92 all-purpose yards, and he fought for every inch of them. Not only did Lynch show he hasn’t lost a step, but neither did Derek Carr. He completed 22 passes to 8 different receivers for 262 yards and a couple of TDs. Again, nothing spectacular here, but it’s all Oakland would need to get their season started.

Marcus Mariota wasn’t bad for Tennessee either. He threw for a cool 256 yards and ran in for a score himself. His talented running backs? Not so much. DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry were prolific in 2016, but started off 2017 on a fairly silent note. Murray couldn’t break 50 yards, and his backup only got 25. It was these kinds of performances that got him kicked out of Philly. If the Titans are for real, they need to get both the passing and running game going. I’ll let it slide against a tough Raiders team this week, but there are no excuses when they play the Jaguars next Sunday.

 

Rams destroy Colts 46-9

Who would’ve thought the highest scoring offense after Week 1 would be the Rams!? 46 points. It was an all-around domination by L.A. Jared Goff was awesome in his first game in the NFL; throwing for over 300 yards and a score. The defense got a couple of pick-6s as well, and when you add on the Rams’ running game, you get a complete performance against a lost Colts team. The downside was Todd Gurley’s 2.1 yards per carry. He’ll have to work on finding holes as the season goes on, but it was more than enough for now.

Now it’s clear the Colts will live and die by Andrew Luck. With Luck out indefinitely with his shoulder injury, it’s Scott Tolzien’s team. Oh.. a 6.3 QBR? Okay, it’s Jacoby Brissett’s team. The Colts need to improve on every side of the football and beyond. If they want any chance at making the playoffs and saving their future, they need to hang near .500 until Luck can get back and save Indianapolis. Chuck Pagano has his work cut out for him… and his job might be on the line.

 

Packers overcome Seahawks 17-9

It was a defensive struggle for much of the game, but on the last play of the first half, the Seahawks were able to put up a field goal and go into the locker room with the lead. Russell Wilson had 2 carries for a Seahawks-leading 40 yards…and yeah, I’m aware he’s the quarterback. If you haven’t caught on to this pattern, running backs, quarterbacks, and receivers have different roles for a reason. When this pattern is foggy, then the offense will have a bad day. Any time that bad day is against Green Bay’s secondary, they really have some work to do to recover this week.

The Packers definitely survived. Shut out in the first half for the first time since who knows when, Ty Montgomery finally got something on the scoreboard with his 6-yard TD to cap a decent rushing performance. Aaron Rodgers was fine, but it took almost 3 quarters for him to find his first points, and when it was all said and done, 311 yards still seemed beneath him. Then again, the Seahawks have a notoriously tough defense, and the Packers fought to a really nice victory in Lambeau.

 

Panthers pummel 49ers 23-3

It was a very predictable performance in Levi’s Stadium as the Panthers’ stout rushing attack was all over the 49ers terrible rush defense. Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey combined for 112 yards and Cam Newton stuck to the passing game with 171 yards through the air. I expected all three to pick up some distance on the ground, so I’m interested to see if Stewart’s and McCaffrey’s versatility will take Newton’s leg from him throughout the season.

The 49ers are in familiar territory. One of the worst team’s in the NFL since Jim Harbaugh’s departure, they still can’t find answers. The defense had a tough test with the Panthers’ firepower… and flunked. The offense had a moderate test in facing the Carolinian defense… and flunked. It’s back to the drawing board to find schemes and game plans that might work. This season won’t get much better, so expect new coach Kyle Shanahan to experiment all season long.

 

Cowboys crush Giants 19-3

The story of the game was the Dallas defense…or the lack of Giants offense. Just three points for a diverse group of receivers is never good, especially against a division rival. Eli Manning clearly struggled with Odell Beckham Jr. sidelined with his knee injury, and Brandon Marshall didn’t get his first catch until garbage time. If that lack of chemistry continues, the Cowboys are going to run away with the NFC East.

With Ezekiel Elliott avoiding suspension, it definitely makes things easier. The Cowboys’ star running back had a nice start to the season with 104 yards on the ground and another 36 in the air. Dak Prescott performed well too with 268 yards, a TD, and no turnovers. Overall, it was a solid performance from the Cowboys as they build a foundation to begin the 2017 campaign.

 

Vikings plunder Saints 29-19

The score doesn’t give justice to how much better the Vikings looked Monday night. The Vikings’ Sam Bradford performed far better than future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees did for most of the game, but not without reason. I expected the Vikings to have a nice passing day because of how bad the Saints’ secondary is, but it was the repeated check downs that boosted Bradford’s numbers. It’s no wonder he’s one of the most accurate passers in the league when the majority of his throws are within 3 yards of the line of scrimmage. Keep that in mind as stronger opponents come to Minnesota.

It’s a juggling act in New Orleans. Coach Sean Payton has the pleasure of getting touches for not one… not two… but three really good running backs. That would be made easier if it wasn’t for Brees being as talented as he is at quarterback. So how do you find time for all of your ball carriers and still let Brees do his thing? Well… you don’t. The Saints simply have too many options on offense, and it’s going to take a full team effort to realize that no individual will shine on the offensive end. How long can New Orleans’ weapons keep their egos in check?

 

Broncos block Chargers 24-21

The Broncos had a great start out of the gate. Trevor Siemien found his groove after missing his targets early to eventually account for all three Denver touchdowns. C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles both performed admirably by averaging 4.0 YPC. To top it off, the Denver defense shut down L.A. for 3 quarters. The 4th was a different story…

Philip Rivers and the Chargers came storming back after being held to a single Melvin Gordon diving touchdown through 45 minutes. Rivers found his man Keenan Allen for his 2nd TD of the game and after a quick fumble recovery by the L.A. defense, Rivers launched it to Travis Benjamin to complete the hat trick. Then, as so many Chargers fans are accustomed to, L.A. couldn’t find a way to win the close game. The Broncos would block the potential game-tying field goal to survive and take a game advantage in the AFC West. The Chargers, on the other hand, better find a way to win close games or they’ll find themselves in last place for the 3rd straight year.

2017 NFL Predictions

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Here we go!  All of the preseason hype ends tonight when the New England Patriots play the Kansas City Chiefs at 8:30pm EDT on NBC. There’s just one last piece of business to attend to… my predictions!! For an in-depth look at every team, click on over to my AFC Previews and NFC Previews. Now, let’s take a look at what’s going to happen this football season.

 

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots (Best Record in AFC)
  2. Miami Dolphins
  3. Buffalo Bills
  4. New York Jets

AFC North

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Baltimore Ravens
  3. Cincinnati Bengals
  4. Cleveland Browns

AFC South

  1. Tennessee Titans
  2. Indianapolis Colts (Wild Card)
  3. Houston Texans
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars

AFC West

  1. Oakland Raiders
  2. Kansas City Chiefs (Wild Card)
  3. Denver Broncos
  4. Los Angeles Chargers

NFC East

  1. Dallas Cowboys
  2. New York Giants (Wild Card)
  3. Washington Redskins
  4. Philadelphia Eagles

NFC North

  1. Green Bay Packers (Best Record in NFC)
  2. Minnesota Vikings
  3. Detroit Lions
  4. Chicago Bears

NFC South

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  2. Atlanta Falcons (Wild Card)
  3. New Orleans Saints
  4. Carolina Panthers

NFC West

  1. Arizona Cardinals
  2. Seattle Seahawks
  3. Los Angeles Rams
  4. San Francisco 49ers

 

Playoffs

AFC Wild Card

Colts at Raiders – A banged up Colts team goes to Oakland for what might be the last playoff game in the city. Raiders win it 35-24.

Chiefs at Titans – Both teams come in hot with a lot to prove, but the KC defense is too much. They win 27-17.

NFC Wild Card

Giants at Cardinals – Cardinals defense suffocates Odell Beckham Jr. and the G-Men can’t get any momentum in the desert. Arizona moves on 31-10.

Falcons at Buccaneers – A terrific season in Tampa Bay ends abruptly as Atlanta wins the shootout, 42-35.

AFC Divisional Round

Chiefs at Patriots – Patriots struggle in the first half but soon Tom Brady breaks the Chiefs’ D. Pats advance 27-14.

Raiders at Steelers – Raiders give the Steelers a tremendous fight on the road, but there’s no stopping the collision course in the Championship. Steelers escape 31-28.

NFC Divisional Round

Falcons at Packers – Holy Cow. A rematch of last year’s thrilling NFC Championship Game doesn’t disappoint. This time the Packers get revenge by a score of 41-35.

Cardinals at Cowboys – Another great matchup comes down to the wire, and the Cowboys get their first playoff win against the NFC West since 1980. They win 23-21.

AFC Championship Game – Steelers at Patriots

Little Brother vs. Big Brother once again. Patriots come out firing but Pittsburgh’s defense is ready and hungry. The Steelers shock New England, 27-24.

NFC Championship Game – Cowboys at Packers

Another classic matchup in the NFC comes down to Aaron Rodgers. He does great, but how far can he carry this team? Answer: not far enough. America’s team is back in the Super Bowl after winning 34-28.

Super Bowl Prediction: Steelers beat the Cowboys 38-34.