Ravens @ Patriots Preview: T-Shirt Day No Longer Possible, But Pats Need Win

The Ravens and Pats have quite the history. They’ve faced each other in the playoffs three times in the last five years. The first time, in the 2011-12 season, the Pats beat the Ravens after Billy Cundiff missed the historic last second field goal that lost his team the game. It’s ironic because today these two teams arguably have the best kickers in the league. The Patriots advanced to Super Bowl XLVI that year but lost to the Giants.


In 2012-13, the Patriots lost to the Ravens in the AFC Championship. The Ravens went on to win the Super Bowl that year but struggled the following season. The Ravens did rebound in 2014-15, and tried to end the Pats amazing season when facing them in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. But the 10-6 Ravens failed and the Patriots went on to beat the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX in dramatic fashion.  The Ravens did play the Pats in 2013 regular season but got hammered 41-7. The Ravens did terribly through many injuries last year but have once again rebounded and are now a decent team fighting for the AFC North.

Today the Ravens are coming off a win over Miami. They started the season very well but then began to slump. Since the slump ended they have done well and are once again in the division race.

The Patriots recently lost Gronk for the season due to a herniated disc but the Pats offense had adjustment time last week against the Rams, and they put on a clinic with the Gronk-less offense. Will the Patriots keep up their strong season or will the Ravens upset them and stay in the middle of the playoff race? Read on and then watch the game tonight at 8:30 to find out.

Playoff Scenarios
Patriots: A win and a MIA loss or win next week clinches the division for New England. A win and MIA loss this week would’ve also done it but Miami won despite their star QB’s mid game injury

Ravens: A win would put the Ravens in the current playoff picture with a 3rd seed. A loss would hurt their playoff chances since the Steelers already won

The Keys To The Game
Patriots


1. The front seven needs to be prepared. Kenneth Dixon and Terrance West will try to bust through them, but they cannot let that happen.
2. The Pats need a running game. If the Gronk-less offense is going to work, they need to work around tough run defenses like the Ravens.
3. Keep it up Malcolm Mitchell! Malcolm Mitchell needs to keep his hot streak up and Chris Hogan needs to make some contributions with Danny Amendola out. Mitchell should be able to make up for some of Gronk’s reps, but Martellus Bennett needs to step it up too!

Ravens

1. Gronk or no Gronk, the Patriots are going to throw the ball a lot. The Ravens need to have a better secondary. They only have one solidified corner, Jimmy Smith, and they need to keep their eye on Bennett, Edelman, Mitchell and Hogan. They may have problems tonight.
2. The Ravens also need to take advantage of the Pats’ recent defensive struggles.  If the Ravens o-line can keep the Pats away from Flacco they could put up a good amount of points especially with Eric Rowe out.
3. The Ravens have so much depth on offense and need to use it! They need to mix up their run game and spread the ball out to many different receivers like Steve Smith Sr., Mike Wallace, Kamar Aiken and Dennis Pitta.

What Do The Stats Say? (Analysis of NFL.com provided stats)


The Ravens may be #1 in total defense but Brady is 6-0 against #1 defenses at home, with a 66.2 completion percentage, 334.2 passing yards per game, a 12-3 TD-INT ratio and 99.9 passer rating. The Ravens have only allowed 3.4 yards per rush and 73.8 rush yards per game and in both stats they are best in the NFL. They are 7-1 when allowing 24 points or fewer this year, but 0-4 when they allow more. LeGarrette Blount has scored 13 rush TDs this year but the Ravens have allowed just 4.
Tom Brady is also this season’s passer rating leader overall and also on 3rd down, against the blitz and in the red zone. Brady had 9.3 air yards per attempt with Gronk but only 7.7 without. The Patriots defense Is playing bend don’t break again as they are allowing just 17 points per game, tied for 2nd best in the NFL with Baltimore. As for the Ravens, they have a +37 point differential in the 1st quarter. However, offensive struggles, especially in the run game and under pressure or in 3rd down have occurred. The Ravens average just 3.8 yards per rush (26th in league) and 89.7 yards per game (28th in league), not much more than they allow. Baltimore is the second to worst in the league on third down, converting on just 34.1 percent of third down situations. Flacco did his best last week though, with 300+ yards and a passer rating of 119.2

Bold Prediction
Tom Brady will throw 4 TDs and for 300+ yards. Julian Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell and Martellus Bennett will combine for 200 yards and 3 TDs.

The Pick
Patriots, 37, Ravens, 26
The Patriots aren’t going to let the Ravens upest them at home! Despite bad defense of late, their offense should destroy the Ravens defense in an offensive shootout. The Ravens defense is good but not good enough for the Pats. The defenses will do some of the work but most of it should be offense. These defenses just haven’t been good lately, especially the Pats, who need to step it up on D.  Despite a good record and offensive performance this year, especially since Brady returned, the offense needs help from the defense.  If they keep Flacco down, they will have more scoring opportunities.  It’s the up to the Pats pass rush and they will step up to beat Baltimore.
Inactives
Ravens
RB Javorious Allen

RB Lorenzo Taliaferro

TE Crockett Gillmore

OG Ryan Jensen

LB Za’Darius Smith

CB Chris Lewis-Harris

Patriots
RB D.J. Foster

WR Danny Amendola

WR Griff Whalen

T LaAdrian Waddle

DT Woodrow Hamilton

CB Eric Rowe

SS Jordan Richards

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NFL Week 14 Picks

NFL Week 14 Picks
Week 1: 9-7
Week 2: 9-7
Week 3: 9-7
Week 4: 8-7
Week 5: 9-5
Week 6: 9-6
Week 7: 9-5-1
Week 8: 6-6-1
Week 9: 10-3
Week 10: 7-7
Week 11: 10-4
Week 12: 12-4
Week 13: 12-3
Total: 120-71-2 (Including TNF Week 14)
Playoff scenarios are intact this week, and my picks are back with analysis on all the games. Think I’m right? Comment your thoughts and tell me how you think I’ll do.

Lock Of The Week

Lions, 27, Bears, 17


At this point, the Lions have a great enough edge on the Bears that you could call this a lock. The Lions offense has been great. It is sure to overwhelm the Bears. The defense has even been okay despite a bad recent past. The Bears, on the other hand, have failed at an offensive rebuild, and are left with one of the worst teams in the league on both sides of the ball. The Lions will definitely outscore the Bears, and I don’t know how much of an impact defense will have, but the Lions’ offense should win them this game. They have a good running back in Theo Riddick, three good receivers in Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and Anquan Boldin, and a strength at tight end with a Eric Ebron. Most importantly, Matthew Stafford has been great. This one should definitely go to the Lions.  
Upset Of The Week

Texans, 23, Colts, 19


The Texans have struggled, but the Colts struggle on defense, and their offense does not match-up to a good Houston D. Houston’s offense has been doing well, and I think Houston will break out of their slump, and top the Colts in this game. They will outscore them, due to good defense and good offense. The Colts may have more weapons on offense but the Texans offense is star studded, and the defense should stop a Colts offense that lacks stars. I had a friend that said the Texans wouldn’t win another game. Come on! Their schedule doesn’t look bad, and this is an easily winnable game. They just need to find the Colts’ weak spot, knock them out of their momentum, and the Colts will go back to being their same, terrible selves from early in the year.  
The Other Games

Bills, 30, Steelers, 29


The Steelers may have their star-studded offense back, but the Bills are recovering from all their injuries, and could overwhelm the Steelers defense while a decent defense of their own nips at the Steelers’ point total.  

Panthers, 41, Chargers, 34

The Panthers are bad, but they will show some signs of their old selves in this game, especially on offense, against one of the worst defenses in the league. The Chargers offense is good, but especially after suffering so many injuries, their running game looks better than their receivers. Carolina has more of a pass rush than a secondary, much more. Carolina should win in an offensive shootout.  

Bengals, 24, Browns, 19

There is a chance that the Browns will win their one game here, protecting themselves from an 0-16 season, but the Bengals looked good last week, and they may not be contenders, but they should beat the Browns. The Browns do have offense, a good run game, and a decent receiver and tight end, but they’re going up against a healthy Bengals defense, and they don’t have the best defense of their own.  

Jaguars, 26, Vikings, 18

The Vikings defense has been good, but their offense is pathetic. I think the Jaguars should win this game after doing something on offense and not having much to do on defense, as the Vikings struggle to score, and lose the game for themselves. This will be more of a Vikings loss than it will be a Jags win. The Jags are mathematically eliminated anyways.  

Cardinals, 24, Dolphins, 20


The Dolphins have been impressive, but they got knocked out of their momentum last week, and it will show this week. Jay Ajayi shouldn’t be as good, and the rest of the offense might be a little out of their system. They’ll be decent offensively, but their defense will give up some decent points to a good Cardinals offense, and blow the game. 
Eagles, 26, Redskins, 23


I know the Eagles have really slumped, and haven’t looked good for a while, but they just need to get back on track. At home against the Redskins, these teams will be pretty evenly matched, and if Carson Wentz does better, the Eagles will have slight advantage. I expect the Eagles offense to semi-rebound against the Redskins while the Eagles D doesn’t completely go wild, but does slow down Washington’s scoring process. So, the Eagles could be able to pick up the win at home, and I think that’s the more likely scenario. I do, however, could see a Redskins improvement in upcoming weeks, potentially leading to playoff contention.  

Broncos, 16, Titans, 15
The Titans are at home in this one, and I know the Denver offense has struggled, but the Titans defense is pathetic. The only reason the Titans have done well is offense. They are not a team that could succeed in the playoffs, and I know it. The Broncos defense will be all over Tennessee’s offense, and drop this game. The Titans are the perfect match for the Broncos. The perfect match for the Broncos to annihilate. Due to their lack of offense lately, I don’t see a blowout, but a do see a secure lead throughout the game for Denver, leading to a victory.  

49ers, 23, Jets, 20

Is this game even watchable? Even mentionable? Two mathematically eliminated teams, battling for a win that means nothing? It’s not really, but for those fans who don’t care about playoffs and just want a good game, or fantasy football players like me in their playoffs with players in this game (I have Brandon Marshall starting), this will be an interesting back and forth, as long as these teams are trying. With Bryce Petty starting on the road, I see no way that the Jets are going to win, but other fans see differently. The only reason I have Marshall starting is for a close game. What if these teams don’t even try, and just try and boost their stats, or tank? Who knows how it will end if that happens. But in my opinion, the 49ers are the logical team to pick, and I’m just going to go with logic here.  

Buccaneers, 24, Saints, 20

I know the Saints offense is really good this year, and have lots of depth, but the Saints have been struggling lately, and I don’t trust them on the road against the Bucs. The Bucs have Doug Martin back, and are building up to be a good offense. Even through a ton of injuries, the Bucs have found a way to keep winning games. Especially in Tampa, I don’t see this week being any different. I still see the Bucs defense as a good D ready to break through, but stopping a struggling Saints team that was already bad should be easy. The Saints defense is also not great and will give up a good amount of points to the Bucs.  

Packers, 33, Seahawks, 27


I actually think the Green Bay Packers still have a chance to make the playoffs. The issue is, they would likely need to win the rest of their games to get any playoff spot. This one will be a tough one to win. The Packers offense is very good typically, but they have struggled, and the Seahawks defense could give them a beating. However, the Packers defense isn’t bad, and the Seahawks have trouble putting up points. The only reason this will be high scoring is because the offenses will be extra motivated to fight back after being surprised by the other team’s lead. The Packers should win at home after a game that looks pretty evenly matched.  

Falcons, 33, Rams, 30

The Falcons offense has been a lot better than expected this year. I know I thought the Falcons would do terrible, but in this game and this season, I’ve pretty much changed my mind. The Rams don’t have quite enough offense to top Atlanta’s strong Big 3. The Rams defense may try to stop them, but this year they’ve just been too relentless to be stopped by that. As long as the opposing offense isn’t doing great, then the Falcons are capable of winning, even sometimes on the road.  
Sunday Night Football

Giants, 29, Cowboys, 26


The Cowboys have an impressive 11 game win streak, but the Giants have been very good as well, and at home, I think they will end this Cowboys streak. I think the Cowboys will finish well and advance far in the playoffs still, but they’re not going to be winning every single game anymore! The Giants offense will be overwhelming, while a better Giants D takes care of the Cowboys offense, and holds them back at least enough for New York to grab a win.  

Monday Night Football

Patriots, 37, Ravens, 26

The Patriots aren’t going to let the Ravens disturb them at home! Despite bad defense of late, their offense should destroy the Ravens defense in an offensive shootout. The defenses will do some of the work, but most of it should be offense. These defenses just haven’t been good lately! Especially the pass rush for New England and the secondary for Baltimore.  

Thursday Night’s Game

Chiefs, 23, Raiders, 22

This was really a good Raiders offense against a strong Chiefs defense. Defense wins games. They had a really good game against the Raiders as expected, Derek Carr struggled again (I stupidly ran out of time to bench him), and the Chiefs went out there and their defensive excellence led to them sweeping the Raiders this year.

NFL Three Quarter Report: Patriots Current State and My Playoff Machine Scenario

The Patriots have continued to thrive since the second half began.  Sure, they’ve had some flaws.  The defense has been worrying me lately.  They dropped a home game to Seattle because of it.  Their offense had looked a little bit different, more under pressure than usual.  They haven’t been throwing to guys like Martellus Bennett.  Most of the passes are now going to Julian Edelman and emerging receiver Malcolm Mitchell.  Mitchell has been a main factor in the Pats receiving game since the bye.  Dion Lewis is now back, creating some depth in the run game, which they’re using to their advantage.

In Week 10 however, Gronk took a serious hit in the head.  We later found out that he also took a hit to the lung.  He was looking ready to go in Week 13, but doctors found that he had a herniated disc, and needed back surgery. He was out for the season, placed on IR.  Last week against the Rams, the Patriots showed that their new offense was still a scoring offense, and that their run game could help contribute to that.  The Patriots won the game 26-10.  It was a clinic.  The Pats shut them out 17-0 in the 1st half, and continued a long streak of wins in a row at home when leading at halftime, despite being outscored in the 2nd half as the Rams attempted at a comeback.  With Tavon Austin, they might have had two TDs, but this was a good game.  It gives me higher hopes about this Monday night’s game.  It gives me higher hopes for the remainder of the year.  If the Pats want that home field advantage bad enough, they’ll go out there, win 3 or 4 games, and work hard and do their job through all 4.

Playing Around With The Playoff Machine

There are a lot of what if’s when it comes to the playoffs.  Lots of scenarios.  Well, by making my best predictions I could of the next 4 weeks, I simulated what in my opinion, is the most likely playoff scenario.  The question is, who’s in, and who’s out?



Who’s In

Denver Broncos; 8-4, Projection: 11-5

This Denver offense has been terrible.  But they’re 8-4 with one of the best defenses in the league.  Their remaining schedule is at the Titans, vs. the Patriots, at the Chiefs and vs. the Raiders.  Personally, I think those games are winnable, if they produce on offense.  They should win some, and lose some.  I think they should come out victorious in at least two.  Derek Carr usually struggles against Denver, and the Patriots haven’t won in Denver in a while.  They will probably beat two of the three match-ups besides the tough one in KC.  That looks like a one way ticket to playoff town.

Pittsburgh Steelers; 7-5; Projection: 9-7

Sure, the Steelers don’t have the greatest remaining schedule.  It is okay though, and their only division competitor, the Ravens, have a very tough remaining schedule, so it will be tough for them to match up to Pittsburgh in these last 4 weeks, as Pittsburgh should navigate their schedule decently.

Houston Texans; 6-6; Projection; 9-7

A friend of mine said that he thinks the Texans aren’t winning another game this year.  I don’t think so.  They are 6-6, but they have an easy remaining schedule.  The Colts, Jaguars, Bengals and Titans remain.  The Titans could pose a challenge, but I think the Texans will pull a big upset over the Colts this week.  Brock Osweiler will lead them to the top of their division, despite a potential loss in Tennessee to tighten the race.  By that point it will already be too late.  The Texans will have clinched their weak division.

Atlanta Falcons; 7-5; Projection: 10-6

I have been giving the Falcons hate all year, but honestly, let’s face the facts.  Their remaining schedule is against the Rams, Niners, Panthers and Saints, some of the worst NFC teams.  They should win at least two or three of those games.  That should be enough to get past Tampa Bay, who still has a game against Dallas, and can’t count on sweeping New Orleans or Carolina.  The Falcons have safer match-ups.  They play the 49ers, and the Rams!  So they’ve earned themselves a playoff spot, as long as they take advantage of these easily winnable games.

Washington Redskins; 6-5-1; Projection: 9-6-1

The Redskins have what would’ve looked like a tough schedule to end the year, if Carolina and Philly hadn’t completely flopped since.  The Giants could also lose to Washington at home.  The Redskins can produce on offense, and have a great defense now.  I could see them taking advantage of that and squeezing into the playoffs last-minute.

Detroit Lions; 8-4; Projection: 10-6

The Lions have themselves a secure spot as long as they win an easy match-up against the Bears this week, and can beat the Packers.  Beating the Packers doesn’t seem like as big a challenge to them as it would’ve in Week 1.  It’s a home game, and the Lions are 5-1 at home this year.  They also face a now problematic Packers team that isn’t going to be as tough to face.  The Lions should win the NFC North and grab their playoff spot.

Who’s Out

Buffalo Bills; 6-6; Projection: 10-6

The Bills are only 6-6 for a reason.  They have only played 5 home games so far.  The rest of their schedule looks somewhat easy.  The issue is, they’ve already gotten themselves out of contention by losing 6 games early on and they have tough competition for the wild card with in the AFC.  They aren’t beating the Pats out in the division, and they aren’t beating out Oakland and Denver in a tough wild card race.

Baltimore Ravens; 7-5; Projection: 8-8

Like I said before, the Ravens have a really tough schedule for the rest of this year, and with that, it will be hard to beat out a powerful Steelers offensive team for a division title.  Although the Bengals are out of it, they have been really good lately and could bring losses to Baltimore and Pittsburgh at home.  Baltimore also goes to Pittsburgh, so they’re at a disadvantage.

Green Bay Packers; 6-6; Projection: 9-7

Originally I thought the Packers could still have a shot at the playoffs, and I thought that these struggles were a fluke, but, boy, I was so wrong.  The Packers are at the point where they need to win all their remaining games to get to the playoffs.  It’s going to be tough for them to get in.  They’re not the same team.  I think if they can grab a win this week at home, all they need to get

Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 7-5; Projection: 9-7

The Buccaneers have been on fire since their bye, but the remaining schedule could be tough.  I’d be shocked if they can beat the Cowboys in Dallas, the team with an 11 game win streak.  They also have three divisional games left, one on the road in New Orleans.  It’s not just some tough games for them, as their schedule isn’t too bad overall, it’s that the Falcons have one of the easiest remaining schedules.

Minnesota Vikings; 6-6; Projection: 8-8

Minnesota now finds themselves in a tough division.  The Lions are flying, and the Packers are still decent, so it’ll be tough for them to get in, especially with the Giants feeling good in that 5th seed.  The mediocre schedule doesn’t help, all the teams they face aren’t terrible, and both their road games could go either way.  The way their offense has been doing isn’t promising, despite bad D.  I think that the Jaguars will even outscore them this week.

Miami Dolphins; 7-5; Projection: 8-8

The Dolphins did look impressive during their winning streak.  But that’s over.  They got annihilated last week, knocking them out of their system.  They now face a tough remaining schedule, with no current momentum.  They could continue to collapse and get annihilated, and after the loss, I don’t think the playoffs is happening for them.

Have different thoughts?  Comment your thoughts, or send me your Playoff Machine or Playoff Predictor simulations.

NFL Week 13 Match-Up Preview

The playoffs are almost here.  Fantasy season’s almost over, and teams are starting to punch their tickets to playoff town.  But unless you’re a fantasy football fanatic like me (and a lot of you) watching NFL RedZone from 1-8 each week, or are a diehard fan of one team that plays at 1pm, the one thing you may not know is which games to watch, especially if fantasy season is over for you or you don’t get NFL RedZone or even NFL Sunday Ticket.   Even if you are a diehard fan or fantasy football fanatic, there will be extra time to watch another game during Football Sunday.  That is the purpose of this article.  Today, I will go over five of my favorite match-ups, that mean something in the big picture.  I will have detail about each match-up so you know which game is for you.  It’s an extended preview beyond my NFL Week 13 Picks for my five favorite games.  Who’s ready to dig in?

 

The Chiefs had an amazing win on Sunday Night over Denver.  Now it looks like it’ll be the Chiefs or Raiders winning the AFC West and making the playoffs.  But the Falcons will be tough for them to beat out.  They have a good QB/RB/WR duo and have proven to be just as good as teams like the Steelers, maybe even the Cowboys on offense.  Will the Chiefs take it to the next level in their division, or will the Falcons make sure they can’t, and keep their own division lead.

 

Playoff Scenarios

Falcons: If they win and Carolina loses, then they significantly lower Carolina’s playoff odds

Chiefs: With a win, a Dolphins and Raiders win and Chargers loss, they leave San Diego hanging by a thread and likely out of the division.  A Broncos win would also impact this.

 

The Keys To The Game

Chiefs

  1. The Chiefs need to find people to throw to.  Especially with a strong Atlanta pass rush, KC cannot just rely on a good running game to grab them a win.  If Alex Smith can stay out of the pocket and be the mobile QB he usually his, he can throw the ball, but only if he has receivers open
  2. Alex Smith cannot let the Falcons pass rush get to him.  This shouldn’t be a problem for him, but there will be no chances for open receivers if Alex Smith can’t be ready to pass.
  3. Matt Ryan and his offense has had a really good season.  But the Chiefs defense cannot give up big plays, or they could see a lot of points scored on them.  I think this game will be low scoring, but if the Chiefs D isn’t at its best, things could get ugly very quickly.

Falcons

  1. The Falcons offense can’t be affected by the Chiefs D if they have a chance at winning.  Without their scoring offense doing its job, there’s no way to win.
  2. The Falcons D needs to contain Alex Smith.  This will prevent the Chiefs from scoring on them so that scoring enough to win is easier for them.
  3. The Chiefs do have problems at receiver, but don’t forget about tight end Travis Kelce.  The Falcons secondary cannot let him get open in Red Zone situations, and need to have their best players covering him.

 

What Do The Stats Say?  (Analyzing NFL.com stats)

The Chiefs do have good defense, but their defense has some flaws.  Marcus Peters has not been able to shadow, or directly cover a receiver, Justin Houston’s absences have been a problem, and at the other corner position, they’ve allowed a 95.4 passer rating. The Falcons also have the #1 scoring offense of the season.  But the Chiefs have done well lately on defense, probably because of Justin Houston’s return.  Since Week 6, they have been 1st in scoring defense.  Matt Ryan leads the league in passer rating though. He also has 3,516 passing yards this year, plus 26 TDs. Julio Jones has an impressive 1140 yards receiving too. All season, despite a bad record, the Falcons have put up impressive stats to prove themselves, and consistently.  However, their defense has allowed the most TDs ad 5th most yards when a QB releases quickly.  Will Alex Smith do that  That could be a statistic difference in this game.  Jeremy Maclin being out has not helped Smith, but the Falcons pass defense has allowed 282 yards per game, worst in the NFL.  Meanwhile, Marcus Peters has allowed just one TD to 6 top 10 or 20 receivers combined.  He covers Julio Jones today, hoping for more of the same.  I think that the stats point to the Cheifs.  They may have problems on offense, but Atlanta’s pass defense is pathetic, and could give up a win, blow a game.

A Fantasy Spin

Start

Travis Kelce: He definitely has the advantage over a weak Falcons secondary today,  He will be hard to cover, and it will shine through in fantasy

Alex Smith: He could see a lot of passing yards today if it will be tougher to run the ball.

Tyreek Hill: Hill is a sneaky sleeper at receiver.  He has shocked several teams, and he could shock Atlanta just the same

Flex

Mohamed Sanu: Julio Jones will get all the defensive attention, so he could get away with some big time yardage.

Sit

Matt Ryan: I wouldn’t go around saying to sit Julio Jones, but Ryan’s fantasy stats will be affected by the Chiefs D, and could be sat if you have another good QB.

Devonta Freeman: More like a bust for this game, the Chiefs won’t let him get away with much in this game.

Spencer Ware: The Falcons rush D is actually decent, and the Chiefs will win, but it won’r be easy.  They’ll need to score fast, and Ware is not a guy to do that when you have Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.

 

Bold Prediction: Julio Jones will score a TD, but will be held to under 90 yards in this game.  Matt Ryan will struggle throwing in Marcus Peters’ direction, and I do feel that Peters could intercept him at an inconvenient time for the Atlanta offense.

My Pick

UPSET ALERT

kansas-city-chiefs-logo

 

 

I know that Green Bay has been slumping lately, but if you haven’t noticed, so is Houston. They still should win their weak division, but on the road, they may lose this game.  The Packers have almost as strong a defense as Houston’s without J.J. Watt too.  This looks like a pretty evenly matched game, so the home team should win.  But will that actually be the case.

Playoff Scenarios

Texans: With a loss, the Texans no longer hold possesion of the AFC South alone.  The Titans would get a shot.  A win and a Jaguars loss eliminates Jacksonville mathematically.

Packers: With a win, they increase their shot at the NFC North.  A loss and a Seattle/Giants win would make it nearly impossible to grab a first wild card or first round bye.

 

The Keys To The Game

Texans

  1. Brock Osweiler must be mobile, and well protected.  He is definitely sack prone against Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and the rest of the Packers pass rush.
  2. The Texans have to knock the Texans offense out of their momentum.  If not, we could see some of the old Packers.
  3. The Texans offense needs to find new ways to score.  They are currently pretty predictable, and that’s not good if the Packers figure it out and guard the few Red Zone threats they have.

Packers

  1. The defense needs to take advantages of the Texans’ struggles.  They can probbaly keep the Texans under 20 points at their best.
  2. The Packers cannot let the Texans come close to knocking the offense out of their momentum.  If they do, they could be in some big trouble.
  3. Aaron Rodgers needs to be careful not to re-aggravate his hamstring, and he needs to have receivers open at all times to he doesn’t take too big of hits.

 

What Do The Stats Say?

The Texans are leading the AFC South with a -42 point differential.  Are they contenders or pretenders?  I think contenders, as the Packers did the same in 2013, but this game may be tough for them, as the Packers have improved since then.  Since week 7, Rodgers leads the league in completions, passing yards and TDs.  The Packers are belwo .500 through 11 games for the first time, but they’ve had a t ough schedule, their stats are trending up, and so can their record.  Davante Adams also has 43 receptions since Week 7, leading the NFL.  However, their pass defense has allowed a 102.5 passer rating, lower than usual.  I think this is a slump they can break out of at home, not B.J. Raji’s absence.  Besides, Brock Osweiler’s passer rating is 72.2, worst in the NFL, and is also in last in yards per attempt.  Lamar Miller has been gppd at least, but will he shine through in a tough match-up against a rebound hungry Packers D.  The Texans defense isn’t much better anyways, allowing 20+ points in 7 of 8 games with no J.J. Watt.  at least the Texans’ pass defense is still good, but with a good Packers receiving game and QB, the stats point more towards the Pack in this game.

A Fantasy Spin

Start

DeAndre Hopkins: even if the Texans lose, D-Hop will be a big part in their attempt to bounce back.

Aaron Rodgers: Could get some legitimate yards up, and score some TDs on a Watt-less Texans D.

Packers D/ST: They could easily rebound, taking advantage of a slumping Brock Osweiler

 

Flex

Davante Adams: Him and Jordy Nelson could try and take advantage of a Texans secondary  that lacks big name players.

 

Sit

Brock Osweiler: Looking like a bust against a Packers pass rush with Clay Matthews and many other contributors

Lamar Miller: Won’t get as big a workload against the Packers, but could be flexed.

Randall Cobb: Cobb just hasn’t gotten as much reps lately with a great season by Davante Adams and a great return by Jordy Nelson.

 

Bold Prediction

The Texans offense will be severely impacted by the Psckers defense/  Lamar Miller will be held under 50 yards, and Clay Matthews will practically reenact his NFL Mobile ad in the game.

The Pick

green-bay-packers-logo

 

These are two AFC teams fighting for playoff spots.  The Raiders need the win to keep up with the Chiefs in the division.  The Bills need to keep winning if they want a chance.  Will the Bills continue to surge and go for a wild card, or will the Raiders continue to dominate and stay tied for the AFC West?

Playoff Scenarios

Bills: With a loss and a Pats win, the Bills join the Jets as out of the AFC East.  A win and a Denver, Pittsburgh and Miami loss could get them into the playoff picture

Raiders: A win and a San Diego loss would eliminate San Diego from the AFC West, leaving it to Denver, Oakland and KC.

 

Keys To The Game

Bills

  1. The Bills need to improve their pass defense, and keep Derek Carr under pressure.  Carr has developed into a great QB, and he needs to be stopped.
  2. With Sammy Watkins back, the Bills need to take advantage of his return.  They cannot let the Raiders D get in their way of making big, scoring plays
  3. The defense can’t give up big plays at the same time.  That could really cost them.

Raiders

  1. The defense has to be on its best.  They can’t let Sammy Watkins or LeSean McCoy get to them.
  2. Derek Carr cannot be under pressure against this Bills D.  That would ruin his game.

 

What Do The Stats Say?

Sammy Watkins came back strong last week.  He averaged 26.7 yards per catch on three catches last week.  The Raiders however, have allowed the fewest sacks this season.  Stats point to a high scoring game, Derek Carr thriving over Buffalo’s D, and the Bills sneaking some big plays on the Raiders D.  Oakland has scored 30+ points in six games as well.  Derek Carr’s 4th quarter passer rating has gone from 67.5 (2015, last among starters), to 122.5 (2016, best in NFL), so we could even see that 30 point win come from a comeback.  The defense is getting better as well, which could make it even tougher for the Bills if they are aiming for scoring a lot.  The issue with the Bills is that they don’t pass enough against a tough Raiders pass rush.  It will be hard to run the ball.  The stats point to Oakland.

 

A Fantasy Spin

Start

Derek Carr – Expect a big game from Carr as he faces an easy Buffalo defense.

Sammy Watkins – The Bills will need to pass in this game, so his work will increase

 

Sebastian Janikowski – Lots of scoring is good for kickers, so Seabass is a must-start

 

Flex

Michael Crabtree: Him and Amari Cooper should get a lot of Carr’s passes

 

Sit

Latavius Murray – I don’t think the Raiders will be running the ball much with the Bills right on their tail

Tyrod Taylor – He’s not a reliable QB, and the only reason he’s starting for the Bills is his mobility

Charles Clay – His workload may decrease with Watkins back, Taylor doesn’t even pass to him much anyways

 

Bold Prediction

Derek Carr will throw for 3 TDs, and get 350 passing yards, giving him a whopping 34 fantasy points.  Carr is a must-start fantasy option, and with a good o-line and good opportunity for passing

My Pick

oakland-raiders

 

 

This is a very big game for both of these teams.  These teams are on the verge of potential playoff contention, and they each need a win to move forward.  Will the Steelers win and take back the AFC North, or will the Giants defend their wild card and upset the Steelers?

 

Playoff Scenarios

Giants: A win and an Eagles loss can potentially eliminate the Eagles from the division and maybe even the playoffs.

Steelers: With a win, they take the AFC North lead.  A loss leaves the Ravens in irst by themselves.

 

Keys To The Game

Giants

  1. The Giants defense needs to make sure that the Steelers Big 3 is covered well, or they can get away with big plays.
  2.  The Giants cannot let the Steelers defense get to them.  Both these teams have good offenses, but a good defense can affect a team.

Steelers

  1. The Steelers need to find new weapons to surprise the Giants and score.  They need to outsmart the Giants defense if they can’t outplay them.
  2. The Steelers D cannot let OBJ go wild.  They don’t have a star corner anymore, which is typically needed for that, but they need to find another way to control him.
  3. Pressuring Eli Manning well would really help the Steelers thrive.  It will lower Giants’ scores, and make a Steelers win easier.

 

What Do The Stats Say?

This should be a high scoring game, but defenses can make it tough.  The Giants have the most and fewest allowed sacks since Week 9.  The Giants defense has also allowed the fewest points and lowest passer rating since Week 7.  Big Ben however has the highest home passer rating this season (123.8). Antonio Brown leads this season in receptions and TDs caught.   The Steelers secondary has allowed 263.5 yards per game through the air though.  This is a close one through stats, and it’s hard to say, so this pick is really more personal opinion, despite the Steelers -6 point spread.

A Fantasy Spin

Start

Eli Manning: Could be good since he’s under no means sack prone and OBJ could be open for a good portion of the game

Sterling Shepard: All of the Steelers’ weak secondary will be on OBJ, so Shepard and other receivers could get some yards.

Ben Roethlisberger: In this high scoring game, him and Manning should be started in majority of leagues.

 

Flex

Ladarius Green/Jesse James: Could be sneaky sleepers if the Giants secondary pays to much attention to Antonio Brown.

 

Sit

Steelers D/ST: Definitely not a defense to start in a high scoring game when the don’t have much turnover ability.

Rashad Jennings: The Giants will need to pass in this likely offensive shootout.  Jennings’ workload along with other running backs’ will be lower.

Chris Boswell: Even in a high scoring game, Boswell’s injury could keep him out, as the Steelers have signed Randy Bullock.

 

This is actually a good game for fantasy in general.

 

Bold Prediction

OBJ will have over 100 reception yards and between 1 and 3 TDs, giving him 1000 recption yards on the season and at least 20 fantasy points today.  OBJ should not have a problem getting open against the corners that Pittsburgh has.

The Pick

UPSET ALERT

new-york-giants-logo

 

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The Panthers aren’t so good this year, but this is a big game for two reasons.  First of all, the Seahawks need to prove they’re serious contenders.  Second of all, the Panthers can prove they still have a shot with a win?  Will the Panthers prove people wrong, or will the Seahawks thrive at home and defend their good hold of the first round bye slot.  
Playoff Scenarios
Panthers: With a loss, the Panthers come one game away from mathematical elimination.  

Seahawks: A win eliminates the Rams from the NFC West, leaving to just Seattle and Arizona (by a thread)

Keys To The Game

Panthers

  1. The secondary cannot struggle against an easier receiving game to cover.  The Seahawks don’t have a star receiver like other teams the Panthers have played.  The Panthers must take advantage of that fact.  
  2. The offense needs to put up points, even against the ever tough Seahawks D.  They need to find ways to get open and score, despite a lot of good team players on the Seattle defense.  
  3. Cam Newton’s mobility cannot be stopped by the Seahawks pass rush.  He needs to be able to rush for significant yardage and TDs like he typically does.  

Seahawks

  1. The Seahawks need to find a run game.  Even against easy pass rushes, the run game has struggled.  They need to find the right RB and execute.  
  2. The Seahawks cannot let the Panthers offense get to them.  They have to just to the same as always on D.  

What Do The Stats Say?

NFL Week 13 Picks

 

The fantasy regular season is almost over, but now, it’s time to focus on the real games. Who will grab a playoff spot? Who will be knocked out. Who will win and who will lose? Well, my weekly picks are back with playoff scenarios for many of the games. I had a great week last week, putting me at 12-4 for last week and 107-68-2 overall in straight up picks. Now, let’s get started.

Lock Of The Week

Patriots 30, Rams, 16

I’m sorry, but there’s no way on Earth that Jared Goff and his banged up Rams offense that lacks big name players. Even without Gronk. The Pats will have some problems without him, in tight end depth and lack of receivers, but Martellus Bennett should be able to fill in at tight end, for now. They at least need a good blocker though. The thing is, even if the Rams D pressures Brady, Brady knows how to quickly get rid of the ball. He should take advantage of the weak Rams secondary and have some passing success, scoring enough to beat LA’s weak offense. The Pats pass rush has been a problem, but the Rams o-line has problems too, and the Pats secondary should take care of a group of below mediocre Rams receivers easily.

Upset Of The Week

Giants, 30, Steelers, 26

Image result for eli manning and obj vs big ben and ab

I had many upsets, but I think this one stands out the most. The Steelers are fighting for an AFC North division win. The Giants are a top wild card contender that needs some more wins to lock up their spot. The Steelers offense really isn’t overly good. They have depth problems that have really hurt them this season, and the defense has not lived up to it’s expectations. The Giants on the other hand, have a strong offense led by star receiver OBJ and his QB, Eli Manning, and assisted by rookies Sterling Shepard and Paul Perkins. Rashad Jennings, Victor Cruz, Will Tye and Larry Donnell have also done their part to help the Giants succeed. The defensive moves this offseason turned out to be a big success. I think even on the road, this team has the capacity to beat a team like the Steelers. This win will really help them, and with a predicted win by me this week, maybe the Ravens can grab a playoff spot as well.

The Other Games

Chiefs, 16, Falcons, 13

49ers, 28, Bears, 20

Bengals, 37, Eagles, 36

Packers, 30, Texans, 27

Ravens, 30, Dolphins, 17

Jaguars, 29, Broncos, 19

Lions, 41, Saints, 26

Raiders, 33, Bills, 23

Cardinals, 34, Redskins, 30

Buccaneers, 17, Chargers, 16

Seahawks, 27, Panthers, 26

Colts, 26, Jets, 22

Thursday Night’s Game
Cowboys, 33, Vikings, 19

Want more analysis on games that have a meaning in how the season ends?  My match-up preview is back this week for you to take a look at.  Disagree with my picks?  Comment your picks below.  I will also be answering Start/Sit questions on my Twitter, @AndrewRoberts1.  

NFL Week 12 Picks

It was kind of a hectic week. Three games already took place on Thanksgiving, and the Lions-Vikings game went to Detroit as expected, but in a much different way then I would have thought. The week has some watchable games, and others not so much. But it’s time for Week 12 picks. Who will win? Who will not? Read the article and give me feedback in the comments.  

Lock Of The Week

Texans, 24, Chargers, 23


I know the Texans defense has lost steam without J.J. Watt, but the Chargers offense is injury riddled and now struggling.  In addition, the Texans offense has drastically improved with Lamar Miller on fire, and DeAndre Hopkins finding the end zone again.  They may not have the best QB, or tight end, but their offense has the capacity to score 30 points a game.  The Chargers defense isn’t so great either.  I know this is a little close score-wise for a lock, but I’m telling you right now the Texans will hold the lead tight, regardless of how big a lead it is and what the score is.  Expect Houston’s offense to overwhelm San Diego and the Chargers offense to struggle against a decent Texans D. 
Upset Of The Week

Chiefs, 19, Broncos, 16


See the picture?  What’s happening to Peyton Manning here will happen to Trevor Siemian tonight.  The Chiefs defense is nearly as good as Denver’s.  Even though the Chiefs offense will again be without Jeremy Maclin, the Broncos still have some problems at QB.  Even though Trevor Siemian has done so well, he is sack prone and we could see Paxton Lynch replace him after this game.  Alex Smith has a better running game, which will get them the slight offensive advantage they need to win.  The Chiefs also have a reliable tight end in Travis Kelce.  Denver’s receivers are better, but it’s hard to throw to them when worrying about being stuffed.  Alex Smith isn’t as sack prone.  He’s a very mobile QB.  That will work highly in favor of the Chiefs, most likely securing them a win in a somewhat low scoring game.  A little thing like that is enough of an offensive push for them to top the Broncos currently troubled offense.  
The Other Scores

Cardinals, 34, Falcons, 27

Bills, 23, Jaguars, 22

Titans, 27, Bears, 13

Giants, 24, Browns, 19

Dolphins, 24, 49ers, 16

Saints, 30, Rams, 24

Ravens, 26, Bengals, 16

Seahawks, 19, Buccaneers, 13

Raiders, 27, Panthers, 23

Patriots, 30, Jets, 13

Eagles, 47, Packers, 37

Thursday’s Games
Lions, 26, Vikings, 23

Cowboys, 33, Redskins, 32

Steelers, 30, Colts, 27

Comment your thoughts on my picks.  Who do you have in this week’s games?  Do you agree with my lock and upset?  

Don’t Make The Same Mistake Twice: Patriots-49ers Preview

Around this time last year, the Pats were just off their first loss of the season.  They lost to the Denver Broncos.  They thought the next game would be an easy win. but it wasn’t.  The Eagles were all over them. This year, they have a similar situation.  They just lost to Seattle.  Now the Pats are traveling to San Francisco, and it looks to be an easy match-up.  But don’t make the same mistake twice, for ll you confident Pats players and fans.  Treat this game like any other.  A crucial game that needs to be won, and will take a good effort to do so.  Will the Patriots underestimate San Francisco, or will they learn from their mistake and make things turn out differently this time?  You’re about to find out.

The Keys To The Game

Patriots

  1. This game is not just the matter of treating this game like any other.  This is a matter of not letting momentum get in the way of the Pats.  They need to gt their momentum going, play their hardest, and most importantly, do not underestimate the 49ers.
  2. The defense needs to improve.  The 49ers offense hasn’t been great this year, but has showed promise.  One bad defensive performance and that could be the game.  The Pats need to stop the run, prevent big plays, and win the turnover battle.
  3. The offense cannot be ticked off by what can be a decent Niners defense at times.  The offense needs to go wild if the defense breaks down and slips up, and being bothered by the defense won’t help.
  4. Remember to treat the game like any other.  Don’t just treat it like an automatic win.  Focus on the other game keys like usual.

49ers

  1. The defense can’t let the Pats offense score a crazy amount like some good offenses have done to this okay defense.  This defense is inconsistent.  In order to win, it starts with a top notch performance from them.  They also need to win the turnover battle.
  2. The offense needs to keep New England’s defense in control.  They can’t let them get in the way.  The offense needs to play this game like a regular game.  They can’t give up, and they can’t let New England;s D regain their momentum.
  3. The 49ers need to take advantage of the fact that Stephen Gostkowski hasn’t been the best kicker in the NFL as usual.  They need to ice the kicker, try and block field goals, and just mess him up in general, continuing an off season for him.  The Patriots also can’t let that happen.

Burning Questions

1. How will Stephen Gostkowski do, and will it impact the game?

Stephen Gostkowski should be fine.  I don’t think that the 49ers will mess him up, block him, anything like that.  Gostkowski was just going through a little phase of reality.  I think he may get his groove back on late in the season.  I don’t think he’ll have a problem today, and same goes for the remainder of this season.

2. 49ers in general: Studs or duds today?

I don’t think they’ll be studs or duds.  I think we could see a good, near stud-like offensive performance.  It will be stud-like for them, but not in general.  The defense however, could get wrecked.  I see the Pats offense having a big day today, so it will be tough.  However, this isn’t dud-like for them, this is just a little below expectations.  So, that question is hard to answer right now.

3. Will the Patriots defense collapse, or support a dominant offensive performance?

I don’t see a collapse happening for the defense.  It will be hard to gain much momentum back though.  I think the 49ers offense will score a decent amount on them, but the Pats won’t do much worse this time on defense.  In an easier match-up, the offense will back them up this time though.  Will it be enough?

 

 

What Do The Stats Say?

The Patriots defense has struggled lately.  They can’t let the 49ers offense take advantage of them.  But the 49ers defense is doing even worse.  They allowed 429.7 yards per game so far this season, and is on pace to allow 502 points this season, which would be the third most in the NFL since at least 1940.  They’ve allowed 30+ points in six games, and are giving 180.4 rush yards per game.  New England’s new backfield depth with Dion Lewis working his way back into the mix could help them in this game.  That’s the most since 1987!  Tom Brady also has over 1600 yards in just 5 games too.  That’s an average of over 325 yards per game.  He also has scored 2.4 TDs per game.  The stats point to the Pats winning.  The Niners have no reliable receivers, and their defense is in a big slump that’s costing them.

 

Bold Prediction of The Game

At least two Pats running backs will rush for 50 yards, and will combine for a TD.  Based on how bad the 49ers are at stopping the run, the Pats run game will be all over them.

The Pick

Patriots, 37, 49ers, 26

I think the Pats will win, but it might not be as easy as they think.  The defensive struggles could make this an offensive shootout.  However, I think Stephen Gostkowski should be back to business, and I think that the lack of receiver depth and a good quarterback in San Francisco is going to cost them offensively.  They will lose in the end, and the Pats will not make the same mistake twice.

Inactives

Patriots

CB Justin Coleman #22

RB D.J. Foster #27

TE Rob Gronkowski #87

DT Woodrow Hamilton #74

WR Chris Hogan #15

DE Jabaal Sheard #93

OT LaAdrian Waddle #68

49ers

QB Christian Ponder #15

RB Mike Davis #22

LB Aaron Lynch #59

OL John Theus #71

WR Torrey Smith #82

TE Je’Ron Hamm #85

DT Chris Jones #93